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90+ point rated wines under $20

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2009 Cass Winery Roussanne***
CassRoussanne.jpg Region Price Purchased Drank
Paso Robles, CA $26 @ the Winery 6/21/10
A medium, lemon-colored wine with aromas of citrus, ripe green apple, tropical fruit and hints of minerals and honey. The palate is medium-bodied, well-balanced and round yet with refreshing acidity and a clean, lengthy finish. The main flavors are apple, lemon and melon with hints of vanilla, pineapple and banana creme that really lingers. Not as in your face as the 08 version, but very similar in style and flavor and a wine that gets even better with food. Also holds together quite well as it warms. It's hard to believe at 15.8% abv how balanced this wine is, though one has to wonder for how long.

2008 Cass Winery Roussanne***
CassRoussanne.jpg Region Price Purchased Drank
Paso Robles, CA $26 @ the Winery 2/24/09
A pale, lemon-colored wine with bright aromatics of citrus, green fruit and honey with notes of spice and minerality. The palate is medium-bodied and well-balanced with a creamy mouthfeel filled with flavors of apple, pear and grapefruit with hints of stonefruit and spice on the refreshing and lingering finish. Elegant and intense this is one of the better versions to come out of the Central Coast. What good white wine is all about. (14.75% abv)

2008 Starr Ranch Estate Roussanne***
08StarrRanchRoussanne.jpg Region Price Purchased Drank
Paso Robles, CA $22 @ the Winery 3/10/12
A medium, gold-colored wine with an aromatic nose of tropical and stone fruits, lemon and honey with hints of bread and minerals. The palate was medium-full-bodied, smooth and creamy with well-balanced acidity and a lengthy banana creme finish. The flavors were intense with pineapple, melon, peach, minerals and notes of honey and lemon. While drinking beautifully now it has enough stucture and fruit left to hold for quite a few more years. Though lush and fruity the low alchohol level (for a Paso wine) keeps it from being flabby. Made from all estate grapes this is a winery that sells most of its crop, taking only small lots to craft their own wines. This 100% Roussanne isn't made every vintage, which is a shame because you'd be hard pressed to find a better one at this price point. Really wish I had purchased two bottles. If you want any of these wines you're going to have to make the drive out there. Believe me, you won't be sorry. (13.3% abv/25 cases)

2008 Domaine La Bastide Roussanne*
08dombastideRoussanne.jpg Region Price Purchased Drank
Languedoc, France $12 Woodland Hills Wine Co. 1/20/12
There aren't many 100% roussanne's being made anywhere in the world so I decided to take a chance on this one, though I wasn't expecting much for the price. While it wasn't the worst white wine I've ever had, I had still hoped for more. It had a bright, straw/lemon color and not much of an aroma, especially when really cold. It opened up a bit as it warmed on the nose and palate to reveal flavors of lemon/lime, herbs, petrol, tangerine and almonds. It was light-bodied with crisp acidity, which was part of the problem for me. Roussanne's are supposed to be supple and creamy and at 12% abv this wine just didn't have the body I was looking for or expected. Though it was OK when it opened up, it never delivered enough flavor to make you want to head back to the glass for more. Since this is usually used as a blending grape in the south of France would definitely give them another chance as they're clearly experimenting. A few years under their belt might yield better results, which would be great at this price point.

2008 Sobon Estate Roussanne**
08SobonRoussanne.jpg Region Price Purchased Drank
Sierra Foothills, CA $14 @ the Winery 11/30/11
While not exactly 100% Roussanne (this version has 9% Viognier and 6% Grenache Blanc) those familiar with the variety won't be able to tell. Perhaps they give it a bit of lift in the aromatics and a some acid on the finish, but the flavors are all Roussanne. This is a white that can age, so I decided to hold onto my bottle for awhile and I was glad I did. The nose was very aromatic with notes of lemon creme, pear, mango, honey, herbs and a hint of sweet spice. It was a medium-gold color, medium-bodied with a round and creamy mouthfeel, moderate acidity and a nice, lingering finish due to the aging in 50% new French & American oak barrels. The flavors reflected the nose with hints of smoke, almond and nutmeg countering the intense fruit. Packs a real punch for a Roussanne at this price point. Great QPR (most are $25+) and one to try if you're looking to explore what this grape has to offer. Still had at least a year to go, but seems to be in its' wheelhouse right now. (14.1% abv)

2007 Anglim Winery Roussanne***
07AnglimRoussanne.jpg Region Price Purchased Drank
Paso Robles, CA $24 @ the Winery 3/1/11
A bright and clear, lemon-gold colored wine with a moderately aromatic nose of citrus, green apple, pear and melon with notes of minerals, yeast and honey. The palate is medium-bodied with well-balanced acidity, round and creamy (the wine was aged on the lees for 18 months) with flavors of lemon, toast, apples, minerals and sweet spice on the lengthy finish. This wine is definitely worth the money, though I wished for as much complexity on the palate as it had on the nose, which I could have spent all night smelling. A lush and elegant wine that still has plenty of life left, so I'm going to hold onto my last bottle and see what develops. (14.3% abv)

Retasted 2/6/12: Was pleasantly suprised when I cracked this bottle almost a year after my last one. The wine had gained in depth and intensity, smoothing out and delivering a lovely, well-balanced experience on the palate to match the aromas on the nose. While now ready-to-go, I wish I had another one. Have a feeling it's going to continue getting better. Showing just how interesting Roussanne can be.

2007 Edward Sellers Winery Roussanne**
EdwardSellersRoussanne.jpg Region Price Purchased Drank
Paso Robles, CA $28 @ the Winery 3/28/10
A pale, lemon-gold colored wine with an aromatic nose filled with honeysuckle, citrus, green fruit and hints of minerality. The palate is medium-bodied and much more subdued than the nose suggests with mild acidity and a creamy mouthfeel (thanks to barrel-aging in neutral French Oak). The flavors were of apple, melon, lemon creme with plenty of minerality to reign in the fruit and a touch of petrol on the medium-length finish. At 13.5% abv, this is definitely one of the more subtle versions you're going to find coming out of Paso. While well-crafted, I was hoping for a bit more depth of flavor for the price. Will be holding onto my second bottle for awhile to see if it improves with a bit more age.

Re-Tasted 10/27/10: OK didn't hold onto it long. Has alot more depth on the palate with notes of peach, pear and honey taking over the minerality and a bit of almond, along with the petrol, on the finish. Much better at room temperature where the fruit and creaminess really come together. Think this is going to get much more interesting as time goes on. Unfortunately, this was my last bottle.

2007 Epiphany Cellars Roussanne**
07EpiphanyRoussanne.jpg Region Price Tasted Drank
Santa Barbara, CA $20 @ the Winery 7/16/11
A medium, lemon-gold colored wine with bright aromatics of lemon creme, honey, pear and peach along with hints of almonds and sweet spice. The palate is full-bodied with medium acidity and a creamy mouthfeel. The flavors mirror the nose with additional notes of minerals, mango, biscuit and ginger on the lingering finish. Blended with a bit of Marsanne for balance and aged for 10 months in one year old French oak, which definitely shows in the secondary flavors. At 14.9% abv this is a lush wine that's beginning to throw a bit of heat, so it's not really one of those Roussanne's that's going to age. A well-crafted wine for the price that delivers great varietal characteristics, though it didn't have me jumping back into the glass for more. Not the most elegantly styled version, but for $20 who cares. Interesting enough to make me curious to taste the next vintage.

2007 Nadeau Family Vintners Roussanne***
NadeauRoussanne.jpg Region Price Purchased Drank
Paso Robles, CA $21 @ the Winery 7/8/10
A water-white, lemon-colored wine with a nose that was initially shutdown throwing off an odd canned corn, herbal note, that thankfully blew off as the wine warmed, turning into lemon zest, green apple and pear with hints of flowers and stone. The palate was round and viscous with ripe flavors of lemon creme, ripe green fruits, minerals and sweet spice with melon and pear on the lush, lingering finish. An elegant and intense wine that delivered more flavor than the nose suggests and one that kept me going back for more. A wine you don't want to drink too cold. Great QPR for a Roussanne. A wine that's certainly delicious now, but has enough acidity and depth to age for at least another year or two. Wish I had another bottle. (14.3% abv)

2007 Stolpman Vineyards L'Avion***
lavion.jpg Region Price Tasted Drank
Santa Barbara, CA $35 @ the Winery 7/3/11
A bright, lemon-colored wine with complicated aromas of green and tropical fruits, orange blossom, honey, lanolin and hints of smokey oak and sweet spice. Takes some time for the nose to emerge if the wine is too cold. The palate is full-bodied, viscous and almost chewy with medium acidity and intense, yet well-integrated flavors of lemon creme, lime, ripe pear and mango with hints of honey and apple pie on the lingering finish. While oak plays a big part in this wine – it is fermented and aged sur lie in 100% new 500 liter French oak puncheons – the fruit is so big it incorporates the toasty, spicy wood aspects beautifully. Drunk over several days, the wine held up well with only a bit of its 14.8% abv showing through when at room temperature. This vintage was blended with 10% Viognier, which helps with the acidity and aromatics though doesn't show itself in the fruit flavors. A wine I look forward to drinking every year and one that has the stuffing to age. A jaw dropper every vintage and one to seek out especially if you want to see what Roussanne is all about.

2007 Zaca Mesa Winery Roussanne**
07ZacaMesaRoussanne.jpg Region Price Purchased Drank
Santa Barbara, CA $25 @ the Winery 1/8/11
A pale, lemon-gold-colored wine with a subtle nose of citrus, pear, honey and chalk with hints of yeast. The palate is medium-bodied and round with refreshing acidity and flavors of pear, melon, lime, apple and notes of minerals and biscuit on the medium-length finish. While the wine is more intense than the nose suggests, I was expecting a bit more depth and persistance, though I did really enjoy the creaminess of the mouthfeel from the aging "sur lie" in French Oak. It certainly has enough acidity to keep going for quite awhile and might, like many roussannes, actually get better with some age on it. It's a good wine for the price that is very true to the varietal for those who want to see what Roussanne is all about. (14.5% abv)

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