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90+ point rated wines under $20

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2006 Herman Story Roussanne***
herman.jpg Region Price Tasted Drank
Santa Barbara, CA $28 The Wandering Dog 5/4/08
A bright, lemon-colored wine with a bouquet that practically jumps out of the glass filled with ripe tropical and stone fruits as well as intense floral notes that follow through on the creamy palate. The flavors of peach, apricot, kiwi honey and a hint of butter dance across the tongue and linger on the finish. This big, ripe concoction could have used a bit more acid to tame the overt sweetness, but I didn't really care as I went back for more. Serve it chilled or it'll appear flabby. If you're a member of the ABC club, this is one to seek out.

2006 Jean-Louis Denois "Les Oliviers" Roussanne*
lesoliviersroussanne.jpg Region Price Purchased Drank
Vin de Pays d'Oc, France $13 K&L Wines 9/1/09
A pale, lemon-gold colored wine with a nose of herbs, citrus and a briny funk that took some time to blow off. Was scared to taste the wine, thinking it mighth be off, but the palate was a surprise. Medium-bodied and round with flavors of ripe green fruit with notes of herbs, lemon and honey and a hint of sweetness on the finish. Got better (more fruity, viscous and cohesive) as it warmed though still a bit too funky and clunky to be enjoyable. Don't know if it's because it's old or French or that I just don't like Roussanne. Haven't had enough of them from France or the US to judge. Certainly not what I expected, but interesting nonetheless.

2006 Stolpman Vineyards L'Avion***
lavion.jpg Region Price Tasted Drank
Santa Barbara, CA $35 @ the Winery 5/4/08
A blend of 90% Roussanne and 10% Viognier, this neon yellow-colored wine is a lovely expression of both varietals with the Viognier really showing through on the nose with notes of honeysuckle and tropical fruits, which carry through onto the crisp, yet rich palate. Flavors of ripe mango and melon with hints of lemon and minerals on the smooth finish. A complex wine with a touch of heat that almost unbalances the flavors, but the acidity and fruit keep it in check. I'm glad I'm a club member and don't have to pay full price.

Re-Tasted 12/30/09: What a difference a year and a half makes. No trace of heat, just creamy, ripe, intense flavors with a lingering finish that made me savor every sip. One of the top producers of this varietal on the central coast for a good reason. This wine has many years left and now I wish I had bought more than one bottle.

2005 Cass Winery Roussanne**
CassRoussanne.jpg Region Price Purchased Drank
Paso Robles, CA $26 @ the Winery 6/10/11
A clear, pale, lemon-gold colored wine (expected it to be much darker due to its age) with a moderately aromatic nose of stone fruit, sweet spice, mango, lemon-creme and hints of honey. The palate is medium-bodied with still quite a bit of acidity and a medium-lnegth finish of almonds and apricot. The flavors mirror the nose, but in a more muted way than I expected with an additional note of minerality to keep the ripe fruit in check. I have no idea how this vintage is aging since this is the first time I've tried this wine. It was a gift from their library. I can say I was suprised by how well it was holding up and how well-balanced it still was considering it comes in at a hefty 15.5% abv. It certainly isn't as complex as their later vintages but that's no surprise since this was harvested off of very young vines. It still has the same flavor profile of their current Roussanne though, which was nice to see. While not showing any heat and having enough acidity to keep on going, there's really no reason to hold onto this wine any longer as it won't be getting better. A pleasant experience and experiment.

2005 Rio Seco Vineyards Roussanne**
riosecoRoussanne.jpg Region Price Purchased Date
Paso Robles, CA $18 @ the Winery 11/24/09
A medium, gold-colored wine with aromas of green and tropical fruits, brioche, honey and hints of almond. The palate is full-bodied and round with flavors of ripe apple, pear, pineapple, biscuit and a hint of smoke and honey on the lengthy finish. Tastes richer than it's 11% abv. A bit more elegance and unity of flavors and I would have given it three stars. It's an affordable version of this up-and-coming Rhone varietal that showcases what Roussanne is all about. Though four years old, it definitely has a few years left, but is drinking quite well now.

2005 Stolpman Vineyards L'Avion***
lavion.jpg Region Price Tasted Drank
Santa Barbara, CA $35 @ the Winery 11/25/10
A bright, medium, gold-colored wine with aromas of apple, lemon creme, honeysuckle and melon with hints of powder, almond and nutmeg. The palate is full-bodied and creamy with just enough acidity to keep the wine from being flabby. The flavors are intense with apple, pear, caramel and apricot with cinnamon and honey notes on the lingering finish. A lush wine that gets more complex as it warms and tastes richer than its' 14% abv. Has 2% Sauvignon Blanc and was aged in new 500-liter puncheons which gives the wine a richer mouthfeel and some delicious sweet spice flavors. Am glad I waited. Worth every penny. One of the first varietal Roussanne's made in California and still one of the best vintage after vintage. A wine to seek out whether you like whites or not. If you still have an 05 I would drink it within the next 6 months or so, while there's still enough acidity left to counter the ripe fruit.

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