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90+ point rated wines under $20

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2006 Carina Cellars Mourvèdre, Hearthstone Vineyard***
06CarinaMourvedre.jpg Region Price Purchased Drank
Paso Robles, CA $36 @ the Winery 4/14/11
A medium, garnet-colored wine with a moderately aromatic nose of red fruit, earth, leather, cedar and hints of sweet spice and pepper. The palate is medium-bodied with medium acidity and well-integrated tannins with a round, lengthy finish. The wine is elegant for a Central Coast mourvedre with flavors of black cherry, cranberry, plum, leather, smoke, pepper and chalk with notes of tobacco leaves that plesantly linger. The wine has wonderful balance between the fruit and earth flavors thanks to its 14.5% abv. While it could age some more, it's really in a beautiful spot right now. A wine that draws you in with its subtle complexity. This was Carina Cellars third bottling of this varietal. Hoping they do another version though there's no mention of a current bottling on their website and this one is long sold out.

2006 Cass Winery Mourvèdre***
cassMourvedre.jpg Region Price Purchased Drank
Paso Robles, CA $36 @ the Winery 3/29/09
A medium-bodied, ruby-colored wine with a nose full of black fruit, earth and spice with hints of violets and vanilla. The palate is medium-bodied with moderate tannins and acidity. It's lush and round with flavors of blackberry, strawberry, sweet spice and smoke with notes of pepper and cigar wrapper on the lingering finish. This is a deeply intense, yet elegant wine that still needs time to fully unify. It shows the power and finesse this varietal is capable of and their offerings are the best I've had from this region. There will be no 2007, so we're going to savor every bottle we have.

Have been drinking steadily over the last 2 years and this one is unfortunately on its's way out. Holds well for the first half hour or so, but then the fruit just flatlines and the finish dies. Not a surprise considering its abv is 15.9%. It's not a bad wine if you've never had it before, but for those who got to enjoy it at its peak, you will notice a big difference. Drink it now if you've got it. So sad to see it go.

2006 Imagery Estate Winery Mourvèdre**
06Imagerymouvedre.jpg Region Price Purchased Drank
Sonoma, CA $42 @ the Winery 12/6/10
A medium-deep, ruby-colored wine with medium intense aromas of red fruit, earth, spice and a hint of meat. The palate is medidum-bodied and round with medium-acidity and moderate tannins. The flavors were of cherry, black raspberry, minerals, leather and a hint on tar and spice and the medium-length finish. This is a well-balanced wine with pleasant flavors, but not enough complexity to take it to the next level, or make it worth it's price tag. Popped and poured it's ready to go now, though it did take some time to open up so could go another 6 months in the bottle. Was aged for 14 months in French oak. (665 cases/14.8% abv)

2006 Minassian-Young Vineyards Mourvèdre*
myoungmourvedre.jpg Region Price Purchased Drank
Paso Robles, CA $22 @ the Winery 3/23/10
A medium-bodied, ruby/garnet colored wine with aromas of red fruit, spice and hints of mocha and earth. The mouthfeel was pretty soft with low acidity and tannins and flavors that mirrored the nose, though with little perceptable fruit left. The finish was medium-length with notes of pepper, leather and chocolate and quite a bit of heat. While it was tasty with food, the wine just fell apart on its' own turning bitter and baked within the hour. Past its' prime, which is a surprise since the 04 was still good after 4 years. Drink it if you've got any and preferrably with food. (15.8% abv/98 cases)

2006 Pipestone Vineyards Mourvèdre**
Pipestonelabel.jpg Region Price Purchased Drank
Paso Robles, CA $38 @ the Winery 9/13/11
A medium, ruby-colored wine with a powerful nose of red fruit, herbs and earth with hints of meat and spice. The palate is medium-bodied with high acidity, which made the mouthfeel a bit disjointed. At 15% abv and 5 years old, I expected the wine to be rounder and more united, especially since it was aged for 24 months in American oak. The flavors were good with black raspberry, blackberry, meat pepper and a hint of smoke on the fairly short finish. We had this in the tasting room, so I was surprised at how tight this bottle was. There was no sense of heat, so perhaps it just needs a bit more time or a good decanting. The flavors were good, it's just the mouthfeel that was off. At least for me. Expected a lot more at this price point.

2006 Senorio de Barahonda Heredad Candela Monastrell**
BarahondaHCmon.jpg Region Price Purchased Drank
Yecla, Spain $18 The Wine House 11/5/09
A deep, ruby colored wine with a lush nose filled with aromas of ripe red berries, black cherry, earth, sweet spice and hints of leather. The palate was a bit tight, but rounded out nicely after we aerated it and was even better after a half hour in the glass. The flavors mirrored the nose with some additional hints of smoke and mocha on the moderate finish. At 15% abv the alcohol was initially throwing off some heat, but it balanced out wih time. Made from 100% old vine Monastrell, this wine really shows what the varietal is all about in a very classy way. One of the best Spanish versions I've had. Still quite young, I'd give this another year in the bottle to really shine. A better finish and I would have given it three stars. Am going to get another bottle to see if time will help. If made in CA this wine would cost $30. Great QPR and worth the extra money over their everyday version, which is good but not as deeply flavored.

2006 Senorio de Barahonda Monastrell Tinto**
barahonda.jpg Region Price Purchased Drank
Yecla, Spain $11 The Wine House 4/18/08
Deep purple wine with a youthful nose filled with blackberry, smoke, earth and pepper. The same flavors come through on the medium-bodied palate which just got smoother as the night went on. Additional notes of meat and vanilla along with the ripe fruit and spice. Long finish with well-integrated acid and tannin. Lacks depth in the midpalate, but elegant and flavorful for the price. Everyday drinking wines rarely get better than this. No one does under $20 bottles of wine better than Spain. Jump on the bandwagon by trying this wine.

2006 Tercero Wines Camp 4 Vineyard Mourvèdre**
06terceroM.jpg Region Price Purchased Drank
Santa Barbara, CA $28 @ the Winery 8/8/09
A medium, ruby-colored wine with a subtle nose of red fruits, sweet spice and earth along with hints of cedar. The palate was restrained with flavors of cherry, blackberry and strawberry liquor with notes of meat, minerals and spice on the finish. While well-integrated and well-balanced, I was hoping for more depth of flavor and persistence from this wine. At 14.4% abv, it's certainly one of the more refined versions I've come across, but while I enjoyed the wine, I wasn't wowed by it either. It definitely got better as the night went on, so I would recommend decanting or aerating it to release the flavors. It certainly has plenty of life left and might get better with some more time in the bottle. This was the first harvest/bottling for winemaker/owner Larry Schaffer and I believe his wines are only going to get better since he's sourcing fruit from some of the best Rhone vineyards in the county. Am looking forward to the 07 vintage.

2006 Thompkin Cellars Mourvèdre***
Thompkinmourvedre06.jpg Region Price Purchased Drank
Santa Barbara, CA $33 CA Wine and Cheese 11/8/08
A garnet-colored, medium-bodied wine with bright aromatics of ripe red fruit, earth and spice that carries through to the lush and well-balanced palate. Though fruity, the acidity keeps the wine from being too flabby. The flavors of raspberry, plum, cherry and spice with hints of chocolate on the lingering finish kept me coming back for more and purchasing a bottle. Wish I had bought two. A little more complexity would have knocked it out of the park. Only 25 cases were made, so if you find this one, buy it.

2006 Vinos Sin-Ley M2 Monastrell**
M2monastrell.jpg Region Price Purchased Drank
Alicante, Spain $13 The Wine House 9/28/09
One of five 100% Monastrells made by Vinos Sin-Ley, all from different regions and made by different winemakers this one by Salvador Poveda. A deep, ruby/purple-colored wine with a nose of brambly black fruit, earth, cherry and notes of herbs and minerals. The palate was fairly rustic and tannic upon first opening, so I aerated it, which helped soften the wine and integrate the flavors of blackberry, blueberry, minerals, sweet spice with hints of mocha and minerals on the moderate finish. More full-bodied and ripe than the M5 version. Didn't scream Monastrell, but a perfectly pleasant wine that delivers a lot for the money.

2006 Vinos Sin-Ley M4 Monastrell**
M4monastrell.jpg Region Price Purchased Drank
Bullas, Spain $12 Cost Plus 2/4/10
One of five 100% Monastrells made by Vinos Sin-Ley, all from different regions and made by different winemakers. This version was crafted by Luis Perez. It is a medium-bodied, ruby-colored wine with a subtle nose of berries, earth, smoke and a hint of tar. At 14.5% abv, I expected the wine to be more ripe and round, but it was farily restrained with flavors of blackberry, cherry, mocha, earth and smoke on the moderate finish. Had good acidity, but due to tank aging very low tannins. This wasn't my favorite of the series, it's a bit subtle for me, but it is well-constructed for the price. A wine for those tired of the usual cheap fruit bombs. Popped and poured, this wine was ready to go. Don't think it's going to get much better, since it's not really made to age, but it still has some life left.

2006 Vinos Sin-Ley M5 Monastrell**
M5_Yecla_Vinos-Sin-Ley.jpg Region Price Purchased Drank
Yecla, Spain $14 The Wine House 10/15/08
One of five 100% Monastrells made by Vinos Sin-Ley, all from different regions and made by different winemakers. This version is a medium-deep ruby-colored wine with a modest nose of ripe berry fruit, earth, leather and spices. The palate is bright with acidity and smooth tannins, medium-bodied, fruit forward with strawberry, blackberry, herbs, leather and pepper on the finish. There's nothing complex about this wine, but it's well-structured and more than just a fruit bomb, which at 15% it should be. The alcohol is not obvious on the nose or palate though it quickly had an effect on my brain. A nice QPR wine that peaked my interest in numbers 1-4.

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