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90+ point rated wines under $20

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2008 Cala Blanca Monastrell**
08CalaBlancaMonastrell.jpg Region Price Purchased Drank
Jumilla, Spain $12 BevMo 2/28/11
A medium, ruby-garnet colored wine with a fruity nose of black cherry, plum and earth with hints of tobacco and pepper. The palate was medium-bodied with well-balanced acidity and a round and creamy texture and a lengthy pepper-filled finish. While quite fruit-forward the upfront ripeness was tempered by notes of minerals, meat and licorice. Since I got this bottle at BevMo I wasn't expecting very much. I was more than pleasantly surprised by how well-crafted and enjoyable this wine was for the price. It hit all the right notes for a Mourvedre/Monastrell and was equally good with food and without. Even at 15% abv, it was elegant and flavorful without hitting you over the head with heat or over-ripeness. Could easily go another year, but there's no reason to wait. A great party/everyday wine that has a lot going on without breaking the bank.

2008 Juan Gil Wrongo Dongo Monastrell*
08wrongodongo.jpg Region Price Purchased Drank
Jumilla, Spain $8 Cost Plus 2/28/11
A medium-deep, ruby/purple-colored wine with a bright nose filled with ripe berries, earth, tobacco and a hint of leather. The palate is medium-full-bodied, round and lush with low acidity and a medium-length finish. Not as over-ripe as I expected it to be (especially since it comes in at 15%), the flavors were of darker fruit like blackberry and black cherry with savory notes of meat, smoke and spice to balance it out. It's a fairly one-dimensional wine, but it goes down pretty easily and has more complexity than most bottles in this price range. If you really want to see what Spanish mourvedre is all about it's worth shelling out a few more dollars for Juan Gil's Silver Label bottling, but this one has been getting better over the years and delivers good QPR.

2007 Anglim Winery Mourvèdre, Hastings Ranch Vineyard***
AnglimMourvedre.jpg Region Price Purchased Drank
Paso Robles, CA $34 @ the Winery 12/10/09
A medium-bodied, ruby-colored wine with a big nose full of ripe black fruit, earth and strong notes of white pepper. The palate is medium-bodied with flavors of blackberry, black cherry and plum with hints of minerals and a lingering pepper finish. Just released this wine took a bit of time to round out as it's still quite young and a bit tannic to start. (Was aged in 100% French oak/20% new.) Despite it's upfront spicy fruit flavors, it's a very elegant wine that opened up amazingly with our food. Paired it with Caramelized Cod with Citrus Celery Root Puree and Mustard, as well as Fried Chicken with Baby Brussel Sprouts and Mole. We were stunned that it worked so well with both, the spice of the food integrating perfectly with the wine. Haven't had that much success with a pairing in a long time. This is a wine that definitely needs at least 6mos to a year in the bottle to better integrate the spice with the fruit and round out the tannins. Will be getting more. (14.9%/233 Cases)

Re-tasted 5/7/11: Previous notes still stand though now fruit and spice are fully integrated from the first pour. The winery claims will be drinkable through 2016, which is probably true, but it's definitely in its wheelhouse right now. The leftover portion was just as good the second day, as the first so it clearly does have some time left. A disntinctive wine that delivers very good QPR. Hope they make an 08.

2007 Bogedas Castano Monastrell**
07Castanomonastrell.jpg Region Price Purchased Drank
Yecla, Spain $8 Cost Plus Imports 11/15/10
A medium, ruby-colored wine with a bright nose of black berries, earth, spice and hints of leather and herbs. The palate is medium-bodied with blackberry, raspberry, minerals, earth and notes of tobacco and smoke on the medium-length finish. It's sort of all over the place at first, but really smoothed out and integrated after about a half an hour. Not an overly complex wine, but one that delivers the right varietal notes. Could go another year or two in the bottle, but it's not going to get much better. Just one of those wines to pop, pour and enjoy...after you let it breath a little. More interesting than many other wines in this price range and at 13.5% abv one you can drink during the week without getting into trouble. A consistantly good wine vintage to vintage.

2007 Bogedas Juan Gil Monastrell***
juangil.jpg Region Price Purchased Drank
Jumilla, Spain $16 BevMo 5/31/10
Popped and poured, the nose of this wine just leapt from the glass with aromas of red cherry, berries, earth, spice and hints of meat and cocoa. It's a medium-ruby color with a round, medium-bodied palate that had just the right amount of acidity to balance the ripe fruit flavors, which tempered over time, merging nicely with the spice, meat, mineral and mocha notes. It has something going on from front to back and a savory, lingering finish. It's rare to find a wine this well-crafted for this price and one that hides its 15% abv so well. Would easily cost double if made in California. Vintage matters in Spain and I enjoyed the 07 much more than the last two versions of this wine. I try it every year because I love Mourvedre and I know at the very least it will be interesting for the price. This one exceeded my expectations. Am going to grab a few more bottles to see if another year gives it a bit more cohesion. Great QPR. Do not miss this one.

2007 McPrice Myers Higher Ground Mourvèdre**
07MMMourvedre.jpg Region Price Purchased Drank
Paso Robles, CA $40 @ the Winery 1/17/12
An opaque, ruby-colored wine with a moderate nose of black fruit, leather, earth, mocha and cherry liquer. The palate was full-bodied with fairly high acidity and not much fruit for a wine at that clocks in at 15.6% abv. The alcohol wasn't obvious, but I expected more roundness and a smoother experience than was delivered. The flavors reflected the nose with additional notes of tobacco, sweet spice and anise on the lengthy finish. I was collecting Mourvedre's when I purchased this wine and was hoping some additional time in the bottle would help it unwind, but it was still fairly linear and acidic. While it showed varietal character I almost wished a dollop of Syrah or Grenache had been blended in to fill the gaps in the mid-palate. McPrice's wines are always interesting and intense, but I was a bit disappointed with this one for the price.

2007 Minassian-Young Vineyards Mourvèdre**
myoungmourvedre.jpg Region Price Purchased Drank
Paso Robles, CA $22 @ the Winery 10/04/11
A medium, ruby-color with a hint of garnet on the edges, this wine has a subtle nose of black fruit, raspberry, earth, leather and a tinge of tar. The palate is medium-bodied, round and creamy with well-balanced acidity, especially considering its 15.8% abv, though it's not as upfront fruity as I expected. This vintage is given a bit of a boost by 20% Syrah, which I think gives it the structure it needs to be drinkable. The flavors reflect the nose and while pleasant aren't complex or interesting enough to make you want to delve immediately back into the glass. While definitely better than their 06, which is nice to see, and a good wine for the price, you can find better versions of this varietal for less money coming out of Spain.

2007 Mooney Family Winery Mourvèdre**
07MooneyMourvedre.jpg Region Price Purchased Drank
Paso Robles, CA $38 @ the Winery 10/04/11
A medium, ruby-garnet colored wine with a subtle nose of black raspberry, cherry liqueur, earth, herbs and spice. The palate was light-medium bodied with medium-high acidity leaving the mouthfeel a bit tight and bitter. The flavors reflected the nose with additional notes of mocha, chalk, meat and licorice on the medium-length finish. While it showed more complexity and depth with food, it just never wowed me or opened up like I hoped it would. Perhaps it just needs more time. Unfortunately, that was my last bottle. Had the first one about 6 months before with similar results. This is the second label of Chateau Margene, run/crafted by the sons who wanted to make Rhone-style wines instead of Bordeaux blends. Since the case production was so low, I had to buy this wine without tasting it first. Though it is well-crafted and has some interesting flavors it just didn't quite come together for me. This was their first vintage so will have to keep an eye on them to see how this label progresses. (15.2% abv)

2007 Bogedas Olivares Altos de la Hoya Monastrell**
altosolivaresMonastrell.jpg Region Price Purchased Drank
Jumilla, Spain $14 DomaineLA 9/6/10
A medium-deep, ruby/purple colored wine with a nose of blackberry, black cherry, earth, spice and hints of leather. The palate was initially super-tight, so we aerated the wine to settle the acids and tannins. Medium-bodied with pronounced fruit along with pepper, mocha and graham cracker on the medium-length finish. The grapes come from some seriously old vines (some over 100 years-old) and the wine is aged for 6 months in French Oak. It still needs some time in the bottle, since even after aeration it was a bit disjointed, though very flavorful and easy to drink. A very bold wine for 14% abv. One of the better Monastrells in this price point, delivering great QPR. Will be looking out for the 2008 version.

2007 Bogedas Silvano Garcia Vina Honda Monastrell*
07VinaHondaMonastrell.jpg Region Price Purchased Drank
Jumilla, Spain $10 K&L Wines 3/17/11
A medium-deep, ruby-colored wine with a moderately aromatic nose filled with notes of blackberry, raspberry, smoke and pepper. The palate was medium-bodied, rustic and soft with medium acidity and a fairly short finish. The fruit flavors were really in the background with the more savory elements – earth, spice, tobacco leaf – more forward. Not really a surprise considering the wine's 13.5% abv. A fairly interesting wine for the price, espcecially for those tired of the usual fruit-driven wines from Spain. Was better with food than by itself. Grapes came from 25-30 year old vines. No oak was used. Got pretty good scores from the international media in 2009. Perhaps I just waited too long.

2007 Villicana Winery Mourvèdre**
07VillicanaMourvedre.jpg Region Price Purchased Drank
Paso Robles, CA $30 @ the Winery 6/20/11
An opaque, ruby-colored wine with tinges of purple and a fairly subtle nose of blackberry, plum, smoke and leather with hints of earth. The palate is full-bodied with medium-acidity and dusty, fine tannins. The grapes were gently destemmed but not crushed, giving the final wine a partial carbonic maceration effect with upfront fruit flavors and a more rounded texture. The flavors are similar to the nose with additional notes of black cherry, minerals and wet leaves with a hint of sweet spice on the medium-length finish. We had out first bottle at the 07 Mourvedre Showdown about 2 months before and I remembered this wine being a bit more fruity and intense, and perhaps it was when compared to its neighbors at the tasting. For a 15.7% abv, the alcohol was still well-integrated though I don't think it will be that way for much longer. The 40% new French Oak definitely adds finesse and backbone to the wine. A good first effort with this grape. Am glad I have a few bottles of their 08. Drink now.

2007 Vinos Sin-Ley M5 Monastrell**
M5_Yecla_Vinos-Sin-Ley.jpg Region Price Purchased Drank
Yecla, Spain $14 The Wine House 10/11/10
A medium-deep, ruby-colored wine with a bright nose of ripe berry fruit, earth, tar and spices. The palate is well-balanced with moderate acidity and smooth tannins, medium-bodied, fruit forward with strawberry, black cherry, herbs, leather and pepper on the fairly short, blueberry-pie tinged finish. Popped and poured, this vintage is a bit more elegant than the 05 with a nice unity of spice and fruit that is the hallmark of this varietal. Was better with food, giving it a longer finish, though was still quite flavorful on its own. Very good QPR from year to year. While drinkable now, could go at least another year in the bottle. (14%abv)

2007 Zaca Mesa Winery Mourvèdre**
07ZacaMesaMourvedre.jpg Region Price Purchased Drank
Santa Barbara, CA $27 @ the Winery 10/10/11
A medium-ruby colored wine with a moderately aromatic nose of plum, earth, blackberry, pepper and hints of licorice. The palate is light-medium-bodied with bright acidity and a medium-length finish. The flavors are consistent with the nose with additional notes of smoke and meat. Only produced as a single varietal in exceptional years, this version was hand-harvested, barrel fermented and aged for 13 months in French Oak (10% new) before bottling. For a Central Coast wine it is definitely more savory than fruity with the earthy, meaty notes taking center stage which is what this variety is all about. Had a bit more body and gained some vanilla notes after being aerated and also showed better with food. Since the abv is only 14.5% am going to give my second bottle a bit more time to see if it gets any better. A good version for the price, but nothing memorable.

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**** Outstanding | *** Delicious | ** Enjoyable | * Drinkable
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