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90+ point rated wines under $20

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2008 Bodegas y Vinedos de Murcia Altos del Cuco**
08AltosCuco.jpg Region Price Purchased Drank
Yecla, Spain $12 Sample 8/18/10
Blend of 40% Monastrell, 30% Syrah and 30% Tempranillo.
When I was offered a chance to try this wine I jumped at it. Love Spanish blends and this one is quite unusual, even for them. It's a medium, ruby-colored wine with a moderate nose of black fruit, earth, minerals, vanilla and spice. The palate is medium-full-bodied with dusty tannins and good acidity. It was a bit disjointed when first poured so we aerated the wine, which rounded out the rough edgse and delivered nice blackberry, black cherry and earth flavors along with notes of mocha, vanilla and pepper on the medium-length finish. Was better as the night went on and seemed more ripe than its 13.5% abv would imply. Definitely needs a bit more time in the bottle to come together as it only spent 3 months in oak before bottling. Very good QPR for the price and a wine that went well with and without food.

2007 Cameron Hughes Lot 95 Meritage**
camhughes95.jpg Region Price Purchased Drank
Valle Central, Chile $10 CostCo 2/3/09
Blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Carmenere.
A deep, ruby-colored wine with a ripe nose of cherry, raspberry and plum with hints of oak, mocha, licorice and herbs, which carry through onto the full-bodied and round palate. Was worried that this would be tight, but popped, poured and enjoyed. Though the tannins are fairly non-existent the wine still has good balance. Cam Hughes claims this will age, but there's really no point with this lot. It is what it is and for the price is a juicy quaffer that should please most people.

2007 Edward Sellers Winery Saboteur**
EdSellersSaboteur.jpg Region Price Purchased Drank
Paso Robles, CA $30 @ the Winery 11/16/10
Blend of 30% Tempranillo, 30% Mourvedre, 23% Syrah and 17% Grenache.
A deep, ruby-purple colored wine with a moderately intense nose filled with black fruit, earth, spice, leather and smoke. The palate is medium-bodied, round and lush with well-balance acidity and tannins and a bit of heat on the medium-length finish. The flavors mirror the nose with dense blackberry, black cherry, mocha, leather and hints of cedar and nutmeg. This is a well-crafted blend, but it just didn't "wow" me for the price. It's aged in 100% neutral French Oak and comes in at 14.7% abv, which is low for the region. Popped and poured it could easily go another year in the bottle, but I don't think it's going to get much butter. An interesting wine, but not a memorable one.

2006 Adega Cartuxa "EA" Tinto**
EATinto.jpg Region Price Purchased Drank
Alentejano, Portugal $12 K&L Wines 10/2/08
Blend of Tempranillo, Aragonez, Moreto and Castelao.
This blend of local varietals has a pale to medium ruby color with an aromatic nose of raspberry, roses, earth and smoke. The palate is dry, light to medium bodied, with high acid and bitter tannins that mellow as the wine opens. The flavors are mostly red fruit with raspberry, strawberry and cherry predominating with hints of spice, smoke, earth and cedar on the moderate, dusty finish. This is a very Old World style of wine, that has good structure and flavor for the price, but I fear won't inspire many people to drink more Portuguese wines.

2006 Dark Star Cellars Anderson Road**
DarkstarAR05.jpg Region Price Purchased Drank
Paso Robles, CA $20 @ the Winery 6/30/10
Blend of 45% Cabernet Sauvignon, 45% Syrah and 10% Petite Sirah
A deep, ruby-colored wine with a moderately intense nose of black fruits, black cherry, herbs, spice and oak. The palate is full-bodied, round and ripe with low tannins and medium acidity. The flavors mostly reflect the cabernet with notes of vanilla, oak and mocha on the medium-length finish. We aerated the wine to help unite the flavors. It's a bit rustic and could use another year in the bottle, but is a good, hearty everyday blend. (14.2% abv)

2006 Dark Star Cellars Left Turn**
darkstarLeftTurn.jpg Region Price Purchased Drank
Paso Robles, CA $35 @ the Winery 1/23/09
Blend of 60% Zinfandel, 30% Syrah and 10% Mourvedre
A medium-deep, ruby-colored wine with a nice nose of dark, brambly fruit, plum and notes of bacon and sweet spice. The palate is soft and ripe with low tannins, yet enough acidity to balance the ripe fruit flavors of blackberry and plum. The finish is good with hints of meat and vanilla. As the wine evolved over the night it lost some of its brightness and got a touch of a stewed/earthy quality. I think this wine needs a bit more time (6mos) to fully come together, which is typical of this winery. Not quite worth its price tag yet.

2006 Folie à Deux Ménage à Trois*
folieadeux.jpg Region Price Purchased Drank
Napa Valley, CA $14 Wine.com 3/18/07
Blend of Zindfandel, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon
The color is a deep, dark ruby. The zinfandel jumps out of the glass with typical brambly red fruit aromas that are tempered on the palate by the structured tannins of the Cab. The merlot adds softness and a lush mouthfeel to the red fruit flavors. A big wine that doesn't quite come together and leaves more an impression of sweetness than elegance.

2006 Foillard Morgon Cote du Py***
morgonfoillard.jpg Region Price Tasted Drank
Beaujolais, France $27 3/17/08
Made from 100% Gamay, the wines from this region are mostly known for the light and fruity "Nouveau" style released each November. However, Beaujolais also makes more serious, somewhat age-worthy wines from this grape that can, and in this case, do deliver wonderful wines at affordable prices. A pale ruby, this wine has a bright nose full of ripe berries, cherries, cedar and spice, which follow through on the well-balanced and soft palate. The finish is full of hints of earth and pepper which linger pleasantly. A wine that is ready to drink, but could gain some additional complexity with another year in the bottle. Wines from Morgon (a specific village in the Beaujolais region) are some of the best values in the wine world and ones to seek out for those looking for well-crafted French bargains.

2006 Majella "The Musician" Cab-Shiraz**
majellamusician.jpg Region Price Tasted Date
Coonawarra, Australia $17 25 Degrees Bar 6/3/09
Blend of 66% Cabernet Sauvignon and 33% Syrah
A deep, purple-colored wine with a subtle nose of black fruit and eucalyptus with notes of herbs and vanilla. The palate is round and well-integrated with flavors of blackcurrent, plum, more eucalpytus and hints of pepper and sweet oak on the medium-length finish. A well-crafted wine for the price that truly shows exactly where it comes from. Fruity without being overripe, this is a blend that's ready to go. Not exactly a wine to remember, but it sure was good going down.

2006 Mondo Cellars Mambo #5**
mondoMambo5.jpg Region Price Tasted Date
Paso Robles, CA $26 @ the Winery 1/2/09
Blend of Syrah, Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon, Petite Sirah and Mourvedre
A medium-bodied, ruby-colored wine with a youthful nose of black fruit, plum, sweet spice and earth. The palate was quite tannic at first, but mellowed in the glass with flavors of blackberry, black cherry, blackcurrant leaf and notes of oak, herbs and sweet spice on the finish. A true blend with no one varietal making itself obvious, this wine is enjoyable now, but needs some time to settle down and unify in the bottle. Not quite yet worth the price, but not a bad wine for a first effort from this new Paso winery.

2006 Ortman Family Vineyard, Cuvée Eddy**
ortman.jpg Region Price Tasted Date
Edna Valley, CA $20 @ the Winery 12/26/07
Blend of Syrah, Grenache, Mourvedre, Petite Sirah and Viognier
This medium-bodied, ruby wine opens with warm, jammy black fruit aromas with toasty nuances. Big, juicy flavors of blackberry, blueberry and raspberry unfold with accents of mocha and vanilla bean. The texture is round and supple yet firmly structured, finishing with hints of spice.

2006 Vie Winery L'Etranger***
06VieEtranger.jpg Region Price Tasted Drank
Sonoma, CA $40 Red Carpet Wines 4/26/08
Blend of 60% Zindfandel, 35% Syrah and 5% Petite Sirah
The color is a deep, dark ruby. The nose and the palate combine the spicy peppery flavors and up-front blueberry, blackberry, and raspberry fruit of Zinfandel with the mid-palette weight of Syrah and the tannins and structure of Petite Sirah. This is elegantly integrated with a smooth, lingering, earthy finish. The Syrah tempers the usual outrageousness of the Zin making the fruit shine and hiding the alcohol. A lovely wine that's ready to drink.

2006 Vina Robles Winery Red4, Huerhuero Vineyard**
vinared4.jpg Region Price Purchased Drank
Paso Robles, CA $15 @ the Winery 3/28/08
Blend of Petite Sirah, Syrah, Tannat and Touriga
A deep, violet purple wine with clear aromas of black fruit, lead, earth and hints of violets. The palate is filled with a balance of blackberry, cherry, spice and smoke with a chewy, lingering French vanilla coffee finish. So earthy and spicy, I would have taken this for an Old World wine. It's quite rustic and full flavored, as half the wine is Petite, but it has a firm backbone as well. Either leave this alone for another year or decant it for at least an hour to let the tannins soften. A very complex wine for the price. Enjoyed it more than the $30 Rhone blend we opened after it.

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