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90+ point rated wines under $20

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2008 Kaena Hapa Blanc***
kaenahapablanc.jpg Region Price Purchased Drank
Santa Barbara, CA $25 @ the Winery 7/21/10
A blend of 60% Grenache Blanc and 40% Roussanne. A pale, lemon-yellow-colored wine with a bright nose of green apple, honeydew melon, lemon, honey, pear and a hint of flowers and spice. The palate is medium-bodied with a lush mouthfeel, yet medium acidity to keep the wine in balance. The flavors are intense and mirror the nose with a lengthy, almond-filled finish. At 14% abv, this vintage is not as overtly fruity as the last as it has more GB which adds a bit more restraint and elegance to the blend. This combination of varietals seems to be a popular choice these days along the Central Coast and it makes for a powerful and complex white wine that goes really well with food. Don't drink this one too cold or you'll miss all the aromas and fruit. (125 cases)

2008 Kukkula Winery Vaalea***
kukkulaVaalea.jpg Region Price Purchased Drank
Paso Robles, CA $18 @ the Winery 12/13/10
A blend of 50% Viognier and 50% Roussanne.
A clear, pale, lemon-colored wine with a bright nose of citrus, honeysuckle, peach, tropical fruits and a hint of almonds. The palate is light-medium-bodied with crisp acidity and flavors of pear, lemon creme, melon, peach, banana and notes of honey and spice on the lengthy finish. This is an elegant, intense wine that was perfectly balanced and really showed its depth when it warmed up a bit. By restraining malolactic fermentation, the fruit (sourced from Derby Vineyard) is showcased while still retaining enough acidity to keep it from being flabby. You'd be hard-pressed to find a better Rhone blend from anywhere at this price. While drinking wonderfully now, this wine has plenty of life left and could easily go another year in the bottle, though there's no reason to wait. Wish I had bought two. (13.9% abv)

2008 Mas Neuf Paradox Blanc**
masneuf-paradox-blanc.jpg Region Price Purchased Drank
Costières de Nimes, France $9 TopLine Wine 5/25/10
A blend of 65% Grenache Blanc and 35% Roussanne.
A pale, lemon-yellow colored wine with a moderate nose of flowers, citrus and apple with hints of peach and minerals. The palate is medium-bodied with refreshing acidity and flavors that mirror the nose with lemon-creme and ripe apple dominating with the minerals taking over the medium finish. Was quite shut down when cold, so don't chill it too much. Not really a wine that you'll remember, but it's nicely crafted for the price.

2008 McPrice Myers Terre Blanc**
08McPriceTB.jpg Region Price Purchased Drank
Paso Robles, CA $28 @ the Winery 5/27/11
Blend of 50% Viognier, 38% Roussanne and 12% Grenache Blanc
A pale, lemon-colored wine with bright aromas of citrus and stone fruit, flowers, slate and sweet spice with hints of yeast and honey. The palate is medium-full bodied and creamy with medium acidity and quite a bit of heat on the medium-length finish. The grapes were whole cluster pressed and aged for seven months in 100% neutral French oak with occasional lees stirring. The intense and ripe flavors of lemon creme, peach, pear, honey and chalk hide the 15.4% abv well until you swallow and then the alcohol bites back. Was more balanced and better integrated last year when I purchased the wine and had I known the abv I would have drunk it right away. McPrice Myers specializes in bold wines, which I like, but there is a downfall to that style as we learned with this bottle. If you've got it drink it now before it's really too late.

2008 Andre Perret Saint Joseph Blanc**
PerretStJoseph.jpg Region Price Purchased Drank
Rhone Valley, France $32 Woodland Hills Wine 2/5/11
A blend of 50% Roussanne and 50% Marsanne.
A surprisingly pale, lemon-colored wine with a initially subtle nose of citrus, cream, melon and stone fruit with hints of yeast and minerals. The palate was medium-bodied with well-balanced acidity and a creamy mouthfeel due to its aging a year in 20% new oak. The flavors were of lemon, peach and pear along with hints of honey and toast on the medium-length finish. Not as intense as many New World blends, but a wine that got more intriguing as it warmed up. While it could age, it's certainly ready to go now. A well-crafted wine that I wanted to like more, especially at this price point. Just not enough persistance of flavor for me. Others may like its subtle elegance. (13.5% abv)

2008 Sans Liege Cotes-du-Coast***
sansliegecotesducoast.jpg Region Price Purchased Drank
Paso Robles, CA $24 @ the Winery 8/2/10
A blend of 41% Viognier, 40% Roussanne and 19% Marsanne.
An intense, medium-gold colored wine with a bright nose of green fruit, honey, almonds, pineapple, melon and a hint of flowers. The palate is medium-full-bodied with a round and creamy texture, along with flavors of apricot, mango, melon, pear, honey, minerals and sweet spice on the lengthy finish. This is a big wine that has just enough acidity to keep from being flabby and alcoholic, which can't have been easy since it comes in at 15.4% abv. It's time in oak (all French, 20% 1-year-old, 80% neutral) gives the wine a lush mouthfeel that really lingers. Sort of Old World in style with a punch of ripe fruit. A very well-made and intriguing wine for the price. (250 cases)

2008 Starr Ranch Gemini**
08StarrRanchGemini.jpg Region Price Purchased Drank
Paso Robles, CA $18 @ Winery 9/19/11
A blend of 60% Roussanne and 40% Viognier.
A medium, lemon-gold colored wine with a bright nose of citrus, tropical fruit and slate with hints of smoke and spice. The palate is medium-bodied with nice acidity and flavors of lemon creme, peach, honey and lanolin along with hints of biscuit and vanilla on the finish. There's not much upfront fruit left in this wine, the secondary elements being more prominent thanks to the Roussanne, but the wine was still very appealing. Easy to drink and just as good warm as cold, showing a bit more aromatics, depth and texture at room temperature. Definitely ready to go. Winery owner Judy Starr is a delight to talk too and makes just a small amount of wine for her label (under 500 total cases a year), selling the rest of her grapes to other local wineries. Worth the drive out. The property is amazing and the wines are pretty good too. (13.2% abv/40 cases)

2008 Terry Hoage Vineyards "The Gap" Cuvee**
thoage08Gap.jpg Region Price Purchased Drank
Paso Robles, CA $32 @ Winery 11/15/10
A blend of 60% Grenache Blanc and 40% Roussanne.
A bright, medium, lemon-colored wine with a moderate nose of green fruit, citrus, honeysuckle and melon with hints of minerals. The palate is medium-bodied, ripe and round with lively acidity. The nose leads you to believe the wine will be fruitier than it is with sour apple, lemon creme and lime dominating the flavors with notes of grass, biscuit and almonds on the medium-length finish. While I enjoyed the flavors, the wine seemed to be a bit disjointed. Roussanne changes quite a bit as it ages, so I think this might just be in a awkward stage right now. Going to give my second bottle another year to see what happens. (14% abv/100 cases)

2007 Adelaida Cellars "Version" White Blend***
adelaidewhite.jpg Region Price Tasted Drank
Paso Robles, CA $27 @ the Winery 7/13/10
This blend of 42% Grenache Blanc and 58% Roussanne is a pale, gold-colored wine with a bright nose of ripe green apple, spicy pear, lemon creme, honey, flowers and minerals. The palate is medium-bodied with a round texture, yet enough acidity to keep the wine from being cloying. The flavors are a perfect blend of GBs green fruit and minerality and Roussanne's lush honey and stone fruits with a hint of melon and almonds on the lingering finish. An elegant wine with a fleshy mouthfeel due to malolactic fermention and a year in neutral French Oak. It is drinking beautifully right now, but has enough balance to keep it going for at least another year. It tastes riper than its 13.5% abv, which is just fine by me. A lovely wine that showcases both grapes to their best advantage.

2007 Edward Sellers Blanc Du Rhone***
06edsellersBDR.jpg Region Price Purchased Drank
Paso Robles, CA $29 @ The Winery 8/17/10
A blend of 42% Roussanne, 40% Marsanne and 18% Viognier. A medium, lemon/gold-colored wine with a nose filled with bright aromas of honeysuckle, tropical fruit, lemon creme and hints of sweet spice. The mouthfeel is full-bodied and round with flavors of ripe melon, apricot, lemon creme, pineapple and honey with notes of pear and almonds on the lingering finish. Well-balanced with just the right amount of acidity to make the fruit pop. The wine is 100% barrel fermented and aged in mostly French Oak (12% New, 61% Neutral French Oak) with the rest in Stainless Steel, givine it a nice creaminess and sweet spice notes while still being elegant. Popped and poured, this wine is ready to go, though it still has a year or so left to be enjoyed. A blend that delivers class, intensity and quality year after year. A great example of how good Central Coast whites can be. (13.8% abv/310 cases)

2007 Chateau Mourgues du Gres Les Galets Dorés**
mourguesrhone.jpg Region Price Purchased Drank
Costières-de-Nimes, France $14 Beverly Hills Cheese Shop 7/3/08
A blend of Grenache Blanc, Roussanne and Vermentino, this pale, lemon-colored wine has an expressive nose of flowers, citrus and green fruit with hints of pear, peach and minerals. The palate is fairly light-bodied but with intense flavors of lemon, ripe apple, melon, minerals and a finish that lingers with the taste of pear. With just enough acidity to keep it from being flabby, this is a lovely, refreshing summer wine that hits all the right notes, especially for the price.

2007 Kaena Hapa Blanc***
kaenahapablanc.jpg Region Price Purchased Drank
Santa Barbara, CA $25 @ the Winery 3/1/09
A blend of 50% Grenache Blanc and 50% Roussanne. This is a pale, lemon colored wine with a subtle bouquet of citrus and ripe green fruit with notes of minerals and almonds. The palate is round and lush and unexpectedly riper than the nose initially suggests though still well-balanced. It's light-medium bodied, but intense with flavors of lemon/lime, apple, melon and pear with some minerality and notes of tropical fruit on the lingering finish. We drank this over several nights and it lost nothing on the palate and really helped open the nose. It went great with two separate spicy meals, having enough fruit and acid to hold its own. Be forewarned this is a very fruit-forward wine.

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