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Pour it Up: Food & Wine Magazine’s 50 Wines Under $20

Who doesn’t love wine. Wine conossieurs everywhere can now rejoice. FOOD & WINE Magazine has put together this expansive list of 50 affordable wines all under $20. So whether it’s for your next dinner party or simply a night in grab a bottle and pour it up.

Columbia Crest H3 Cabernet Sauvignon

4. Columbia Crest H3 Cabernet Sauvignon ($15)

The H3 stands for Horse Heaven Hills, the remote Washington State region where the grapes for this perennially impressive value red are grown. It’s substantial, with ripe black cherry fruit and substantial but streamlined tannins—a great steak wine for less than the price of a great steak, in fact.

Foxglove Central Coast Chardonnay

5. Foxglove Central Coast Chardonnay ($17)

Brothers Bob and Jim Varner made their name with high-end, single-vineyard Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs before branching out under their Foxglove label to more affordable offerings. This Edna Valley offering always overdelivers, and is full of vivid mango and citrus fruit.

 

Hess Select North Coast Cabernet Sauvignon

6. Hess Select North Coast Cabernet Sauvignon ($17)

Although most of the great wines of the world come from specific vineyards, most of the great affordable wines of the world are a blend of grapes from many different sites—as is the case with Hess’s spicy, black cherry–rich Hess Select Cabernet Sauvignon.

 

J. Lohr Estates Seven Oaks Cabernet Sauvignon

7. J. Lohr Estates Seven Oaks Cabernet Sauvignon ($15)

One of the biggest growers in the Central Coast, the Lohr family farms more than 3,600 acres of vines in Monterey County and Paso Robles. The latter vineyards are the primary source for this finely made, incredibly reliable red. It hews to a a crowd-pleasing style, with sweet American oak accents and plenty of aromatic, juicy cherry fruit.

 

Kendall Jackson Vintner’s Reserve California Chardonnay

8. Kendall Jackson Vintner’s Reserve California Chardonnay ($14)

Here are two things to know about Kendall Jackson’s Vintner’s Reserve Chardonnay: More than two million cases are made each year, and every single grape that goes into those bottles comes from vineyards owned by Kendall Jackson. (This is why, when you take a tour of the Kendall Jackson vineyards, you do it by helicopter.) Vineyard ownership means control over viticultural practices, and that’s why this wine—despite its vast production—remains delicious: rich but finely focused, its flavors suggesting ripe mangoes and pears.

 

Pine Ridge Chenin Blanc + Viognier ($15)

9. Pine Ridge Chenin Blanc + Viognier ($15)

Year in and year out, this is one of California’s top wine values. Winemaker Michael Beaulac blends Chenin from the Clarksburg region with Viognier from Lodi, ages it in stainless steel to retain its freshness, and comes up with a white that tingles on the tongue, with vibrant mandarin orange and melon flavors.

 

Rancho Zabaco Heritage Vines Sonoma County Zinfandel

10. Rancho Zabaco Heritage Vines Sonoma County Zinfandel ($14)

Rancho Zabaco is one of many labels owned by Gallo. The company also owns a vast range of vineyards, including many long-planted to Zinfandel. Its Heritage Vines Zinfandel takes advantage of the old vines’ intensity of flavor, and while it may not be as inexpensive as Gallo Hearty Burgundy was in the 1970s, it’s still a steal.

 

Ravenswood Old Vine Lodi Zinfandel ($14)

11. Ravenswood Old Vine Lodi Zinfandel ($14)

Not so long ago, Ravenswood founder Joel Peterson remarked that when he started out, his wines were considered high-alcohol. These days, Ravenswood’s Zinfandels seem positively graceful compared to some of the galumphing Zin-monsters out there—and that’s why we still love them. Of particular note is its Lodi Zinfandel, a shade pricier than the company’s ubiquitous Vintners Blend, but with a depth of blackberry richness that’s well worth the few extra dollars.

 

Robert Mondavi Winery Napa Valley Fumé Blanc ($16)

12. Robert Mondavi Winery Napa Valley Fumé Blanc ($16)

Though no longer owned by the Mondavi family, this is still one of Napa Valley’s defining estates, producing wines ranging from its age-worthy Reserve Cabernet to its citrus-scented Napa Valley Fumé Blanc. Robert Mondavi coined the term “Fumé Blanc” for his Sauvignon Blanc wines in 1968 (French Pouilly-Fumés are made from Sauvignon Blanc), and winemaker Genevieve Janssens still uses French techniques—partial fermentation in barrel, the addition of a touch of Sémillon—to add complexity to this zesty white.

 

La Crema Sonoma Coast Chardonnay ($19)

14. La Crema Sonoma Coast Chardonnay ($19)

La Crema makes a range of subtly expressive Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs, but the Sonoma Coast Chardonnay, one of the winery’s most widely available bottlings, is also one of its best. It’s round and rich, with ripe pear and caramel-vanilla flavors.

 

Brancott Estate Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc ($10)

15. Brancott Estate Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc ($10)

While Cloudy Bay is still the most famous Sauvignon Blanc made in New Zealand, the much larger producer Brancott Vineyards deserves recognition, too. With properties in regions on both the North Island (Gisborne and Hawkes Bay) and the South Island (Marlborough), Brancott turns out a broad range of wines, including this compulsively drinkable Sauvignon Blanc.

 

Giesen Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc

16. Giesen Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc ($15)

Grapefruity and intense, with a distinctive peppery-lemon grass edge, this is classic New Zealand Sauvignon from one of the region’s top family-owned producers (Theo, Alex and Marcel Giesen founded it in 1981, after immigrating to New Zealand from their native Germany.)

 

Jim Barry The Cover Drive Cabernet Sauvignon

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