Staff Picks! Top 20 (or maybe 25...) Under $20

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The truth is that while we are fortunate to be able to taste and drink a decent amount of relatively expensive wine, these occurrences are relatively rare. We do happily sell some excellent and expensive wine, but a customer’s recent comment that our emails have gone in a very high-end direction was a bit of a slap in the face because we have always prided ourselves on offering delicious bottles at fair prices. We scour the winemaking world in search of these wines; we relish the experience of sharing them with consumers, and we have hundreds of reasonably priced organic and biodynamic wines in stock; most days they’re what we drink ourselves.

A colleague pointed out in conversation that when it comes to tasting, a fabulous wine that offers value can be more exciting than confirmation that a pricy bottle that’s supposed to be “great”, is great. Here’s a very short list compiled by our buyers and sales people that highlights what we have been drinking and loving recently. Take a look; we hope you discover a new wine value for everyday. Sante! -Sophie

Bedrock NV North Coast Shebang Red Wine

55% Zinfandel blended with Carignane, Petite Sirah, Mourvedre, Alicante Bouschet, Grenache, Syrah, Barbera and a touch of whites for aromatics from old vine plantings (up to 100 years old) around Sonoma County, fermented with native yeasts in stainless steel and raised in a nice bit of French oak for a bold, bright-fruited, silky, and satisfying wine that is unbeatable at this price. 

  • red
  • 35 in stock
  • $14.99

Sorry, the Following have Already Sold

Defino 2012 IGT Terre Siciliane Frappato

After falling in love with COS Frappato, it was great to add Ariana Occhipinti’s version to our shelves a few years ago — both are serious wines of great depth and are standard-bearers for the remarkable quality that can be achieved in Sicily. But it turns out that an easier, less expensive Frappato is also a very fine thing. Defino comes from organically farmed grapes (a friend who is one of Tuscany’s best winemakers consults on the winemaking), and for $12.99 you get a really lovely fresh red, light and juicy but with plenty of intensity on the palate. This is on the short list for the ultimate pizza wine, but really we mean that in reference to: “it’s Tuesday night, and we want a glass of something delicious that doesn’t break the bank”. Actually Frappato is a terrific food wine — a red-wine-with-fish wine, and very versatile. Try it with a simple grilled fish like sea bass. Jamie Wolff

  • Out of Stock
  • red
  • 0 in stock
  • $12.99

  • Organic

Giol 2012 Prosecco Sur Lie (organic, no so2)

We are crazy for the amazing Proseccos from Casa Coste Piane and Costadilà — wines made by the very old school method of a second fermentation in the bottle. Conventional Prosecco is made by adding CO2 gas in a pressurized tank. The results can be very tasty, but we do love the good fermented-in-the-bottle versions, since the process yields a finer bubble, and a lot more complexity and flavor. Thus we are delighted with the Giol Prosecco —  the price would be enough to make us happy. It’s a bit fresher and a bit lighter than the two mentioned above, but this isn’t a bad thing at all — it’s nice to have an easy going wine that is also pretty serious. JW

 

  • Out of Stock
  • white sparkling
  • 0 in stock
  • no discount
  • $14.99

Roddolo 2011 Dolcetto d'Alba

Roddolo is one of the very few high quality but under-the-radar producers of Barolo. His wines are uncompromisingly old school — they’re far from slick or easy going, but they reward tasting. His Dolcetto is really a great wine — rustic, beefy, complex; we’ve now entered the season where it makes a lot of sense as a match with colder weather food. JW

  • Out of Stock
  • red
  • 0 in stock
  • $18.99

Sorelle Palazzi 2010 Chianti Colline Pisane Podere il Ceno

It's funny how yesterday's most popular wine style or region can turn into today's most un-hip. Great examples could be Californian Chardonnay, anything made of Merlot, and Chianti. I think one of the world's most unfairly scrutinized wines is Chianti. It is true that at one point these wines were mostly over-cropped and diluted, but prior to that unfortunate era, Chianti had been treasured for hundreds of years. Sorelle Palazzi is an organic farm that specializes in growing Tuscany's native grape varieties. The wines have lots of lift and fresh cherry fruit. They are incredibly food friendly; I find myself reaching for Chianti when eating traditional Italian fare, but also other classics like roast chicken or pork chops. When we look at the value of these wines, we may want to try to keep Chianti a secret! JR

  • Out of Stock
  • red
  • 0 in stock
  • $18.49

Barth 2011 Alsace Racines Metisses

The friendly and unassuming Laurent Barth makes deliciously subtle wines that deserve your attention. The Racines Metisses is a field blend of Pinot Blanc, Sylvaner, Pinot Gris and Auxerrois, that has mineral and citrus notes with pretty white fruit and spice aromas and a silky, round palate balanced by good acidity. A very lovely wine at a great price. DL

  • Out of Stock
  • white
  • 0 in stock
  • $15.99

Luneau-Papin 2012 Gros Plant du Pays Nantais Vieilles Vignes

What comes from Nantes and isn't made from the Melon-de-Bourgogne grape variety?!? That's right! Appellation Gros-Plant du Pays Nantais! The excellent Luneau-Papin 2012 is made from old vines grown on schist soils in Vallet. Fresh, with apple, pear, white pepper and stone aromas. The palate is stony and mineral, almost salty, low alcohol, and perfect for drinking with shellfish, seafood, charcuterie and fresh goat cheeses. A superb value and an excellent choice for lovers of Vinho Verde, Txakoli, etc. MSB

  • Out of Stock
  • white
  • 0 in stock
  • $11.99

Clos Roche Blanche 2011 Touraine Pif

Super-Bon! A nice vintage for PIF, faithful mouse-hunter and vineyard companion at Clos Roche Blanche. A blend of Cot, Cab Franc and Pineau d'Aunis, it has pretty red and black fruit aromas, and a lovely medium-bodied palate with good acidity and length. Refreshing and thirst-quenching at 12 degrees alcohol, jut the way we like it. Don't delay, quantity is limited. DL

  • Out of Stock
  • red
  • 0 in stock
  • $17.99

Pignard 2011 Beaujolais-Villages

From 40 to 60 year-old vines in high-elevation parcels above Morgon, not far from Christian Ducroux, certified biodynamic. This is a really lovely wine with delicate raspberry/strawberry aromas that carry through on the pure, light palate. Beautifully balanced with lingering fruit and distinctive mineral acidity in the finish, quite delicious! DL

  • Out of Stock
  • red
  • 0 in stock
  • $16.99

Savoye, Pierre 2007 Morgon Côte du Py Vieilles Vignes

"From vines averaging sixty years of age on the Cote de Py, the Savoye 2007 is an austere and structured Beaujolais showing the mineral flavors and acidity of the granite soils. Not a fruit-bomb, this wine of terroir will benefit from decanting or an additional 5 to 10 years of aging." We wrote that three years ago and we're happy to report that the 2007 Cote de Py Vieilles Vignes is already drinking beautifully — still not a fruit-bomb, but with a lovely velvety quality to the strawberry/cherry fruit and more delvelpoed aromas. Serve cool with a steak or chop. DL

  • Out of Stock
  • red
  • 0 in stock
  • $18.99

Litaud 2012 Mâcon-Vergisson Les Vieilles Pierres

Jean-Jacques Litaud's estate, the Domaine des Vieilles Pierres, is in the hamlet of Les Nembrets on the south-facing slopes of the hill of Vergisson. His Mâcon-Vergisson is from the hillside vineyards behind the house. Litaud plows and uses minimal treatments in the vines, harvests by hand, generally quite late for maximum ripeness, and fermentations are with wild yeasts.

  • Out of Stock
  • white
  • 0 in stock
  • $17.99

Magnien, Stephane 2011 Bourgogne Passetoutgrain Cuvèe Densite

This is a great Bourgogne Passetoutgrain from the young and very capable Stephane Magnien, whose great vineyard work and un-forced vinifications are producing superb, elegant Burgundies. The 2011 Cuvée Densité is from older vines of Pinot Noir and Gamay and gets a longer élevage than the regular Passetoutgrain. In 2011 it's really delicious with subtle cherry and berry aromas; the palate is round and elegant with cherry and strawberry compote but it's well-balanced and refreshing with nice finishing acidity — really a lovely everyday Burgundy at a great price! Serve cool and enjoy. DL

  • Out of Stock
  • red
  • 0 in stock
  • $16.99

Sulauze 2012 Coteaux D'Aix-en-Provence Les Amis (organic, no so2)

We'll go ahead and say it, if you love rustic, earthy, northern Rhône Syrah, this is probably not the Syrah for you (and actually it's Syrah blended with 15% Grenache), but if you're open to more fruit forward, warm climate Syrah, this is an extremely delicious bottle. The nose is very ripe, showing notes of blackberry and pepper, plum jam, garrigue, and wild blueberry. With 12.5% alcohol, there's more ripeness on the nose than palate in some sense, which is nicely balanced, juicy, and easygoing. Also: no added sulfur at all! MSB

  • Out of Stock
  • red
  • 0 in stock
  • $18.99

Lapuyade 2011 Jurançon Sec (Petit & Gros Manseng)

Warning: if you are looking for a crisp Sauvignon Blanc this is not for you. If you're open to full-bodied, exotic, and unctuous white wine, look no further. From the wilds of south western France, this bottle, based on the two better white grapes of Jurancon, Gros and Petit Manseng, seriously over delivers in terms of complexity for the price. You'll find aromas of pineapple and caramel apple on the nose, along with a light oakiness that would not work for all white wines, but fits perfectly with this one. The palate is essentially dry... but leaves an enticing sense of sweetness that makes it an excellent choice for cheeses, especially the sheep's milk cheeses of the Pyrenees. Note: Those with the patience to keep this bottle around for a few days, re-corked in the fridge, will be rewarded with an awesome display of rich, complex exotic fruit. This wine is absolutely sensational! MSB & DL

  • Out of Stock
  • white
  • 0 in stock
  • $13.99

Lapuyade 2009 Bearn Rouge ARRIVES 11/12

From 45 year-old Cabernet Franc and Tannat vines on this beautiful estate in the Jurancon region, certified Biodynamic. Aged in used barriques. Deep red/black color, meaty blackberry aromas, dense palate of black fruit liqueur. Not heavy, with nice acidity and balance, 12.5% alcohol. Really a delicious "country" wine! Needs to open up a bit, but quite a bargain at $11.99 — serve with duck, guinea hen, steak, strong cheeses. DL

  • Out of Stock
  • red
  • 0 in stock
  • $11.99

  • Out of Stock
  • red
  • 0 in stock
  • $12.99

Ferme Saint-Martin 2011 Côtes du Rhône Blanc

Guy and Thomas Julien make a small quantity of fascinating and delicious white Cotes du Rhône on their organic estate in Beaumes-de-Venise. "Le Blanc" is made from Grenache Blanc, Clairette and Roussanne, and has intriguing herbal, citrus and honeyed aromas, the palate is complex with citrus, white fruits and herbs, principally anise, with good acidity and length. This is really delicious — those of you not accustomed to buying Cotes-du-Rhône whites should give this lovely wine a try! DL

  • Out of Stock
  • white
  • 0 in stock
  • $14.99

Barou 2012 Vin de Pays Syrah Cuvèe des Vernes

From 40 year-old Syrah vines in Charnay, just outside the Saint-Joseph AOC, always tended organically. A great success in 2012, the Cuvée des Vernes is simply delicious and much too easy to drink! Lovely Syrah aromas of blackberry and blueberry liqueur with hints of stone, citrus and smoke. The palate is supple, balanced and refreshing, with good acidity balancing the berry fruits in the finish. The Barou's great work in the vineyard really shows in this outstanding Vin de Pays. DL

  • Out of Stock
  • red
  • 0 in stock
  • $13.99

Navarre 2012 Vin de Table de France Vin d'Oeillades

Oeillades is an old variety of Cinsault, rarely seen anymore in the Languedoc. Thierry Navarre, who is proud of his vineyards of "forgotton varieties," produces Terret and Ribeyrenc as well as this lovely light-bodied Oeillades. The 2012 has pretty high-toned red-currant and raspberry fruit, quite fresh and appealing. The palate has tart cherry and plum fruit, it's light to medium-bodied with refreshing acidity and good length. Good intensity of fruit but low alcohol, 11.5%, which makes it very food-friendly. Serve cool with charcuterie, white meats and cheeses. DL

  • Out of Stock
  • red
  • 0 in stock
  • $8.99

Ponce 2012 Manchuela Reto Albilla

A dazzling follow-up to the luscious debut vintage, 2012 Reto features soft aromas of lemon oil, lime blossom, clover honey, ripe peach, parsley, pilsner beer, and cloves, with a bright, full palate of meyer lemon, lime curd, white flowers, lemon balm, dried apricots, pink peppercorns, and salty whey. Reto's intense minerality, chalky mouthfeel, and long saline finish are reminiscent of some of our favorite young Chenin Blancs and Burgundies. An extremely elegant, interesting, and versatile wine at this price point. Pairs beautifully with rich seafood, pestos, grilled poultry, and cheese plates. Welcome back, Reto! -AR

  • Out of Stock
  • white
  • 0 in stock
  • $19.99

Broadside 2011 Paso Robles Margarita Vineyard Cabernet

Broadside Cabernet is always a favorite on the Cabernet shelf, but this vintage is especially tasty! Raised in neutral French oak, with flavors of red and black currants, tart red plums, and pretty black cherry fruit with notes of graphite, earth, and cedar, 2011 Broadside resembles a bright, young Bordeaux. Thanks to a longer, cooler season in 2011, the talented winemakers behind Broadside (Chris Brockway of Broc Cellars and Brian Terrizzi of Giornata) were able to pick the grapes later than usual, resulting in concentrated, developed flavors without sacrificing freshness. AR

  • Out of Stock
  • red
  • 0 in stock
  • $19.99

Eminence Road 2011 Finger Lakes Elizabeth's Vineyard Cabernet Franc

For a store with one of the nation's best collections of Loire Valley Cabernet Franc, it's sometimes easy to overlook some of the great examples made in our own backyard. Luckily we have our friends Jennifer and Andrew at Eminence Road to bring us the Finger Lake's finest. Eminence Road buys grapes and makes wine with minimal intervention. Here fermentations complete themselves naturally without any addition of yeast or yeast food (standard ingredients at most wineries.)  Sulfur addition is minimal at bottling, which is done without fining or filtration. The wine exists on a razor's edge with only 11.3% alcohol, brisk mineral flavors, and zingy raspberry fruit. I think that there is structure to age, but this wine can certainly be enjoyed now and we would recommend it to New York locavores, natural wine enthusiasts, and even dedicated Francophiles. JR

  • Out of Stock
  • red
  • 0 in stock
  • $19.99

Knauss 2012 Württemberg Trollinger 1 Liter

For a light, happy red that can be easily drunk in far more quantity than is appropriate, the Trollinger from Andi Knauss in Württemberg has quickly become my favorite in the store. Plus, it comes in a handy 1-liter size so the party just keeps on going and going. Seriously, though, this wine is made of what the Italians would call Schiava, but to us it's more like a fresh Poulsard or Beaujolais-Villages. There's acidity to spare but it's tempered by a burst of bright, juicy, brilliant fruit. Not only is it a crazy value, it's a perfect summer companion for picnics, porches, or rooftops. JFR

  • Out of Stock
  • red
  • 0 in stock
  • $17.99

Schaefer, Karl 2011 Pfalz Wachenheimer Fuchsmantel Riesling Trocken

The Fuchsmantel is (outside of the very famous sites like Pechstein), Karl Schaefer's most interesting site and has a special resonance with the estate as the terraced site provides inspiration for the foxes (fuch) that feature so prominently on their label. This wine was the most impressive dry wine in their strong lineup in 2011 and it shows all sorts of  grassy, orange peel-y goodness on the nose. The hill lies on a solid base of typical Pfalz sandstone and the salty minerals come through on with zest on the finish. Just the right amount of body; a focused, playful, eminently drinkable Riesling. JFR

  • Out of Stock
  • white
  • 0 in stock
  • $19.99

Schmitt-Wagner, Carl 2003 Mosel Longuicher Maximiner Herrenberg Riesling Auslese

10-year old Auslese for under $20? Yes, it is indeed possible, but only beacuse 2003 is everyone's favorite punching-bag vintage (us included). Don't fear 2003, though! First, because Bruno Schmitt never, ever made big, ponderous wines; he has a light touch and his Rieslings are always among the most delicate and pretty of any vintage. Underneath that elegance is unexpected, complex depth, though, as the vines in the Lounguicher Maximiner Herrenberg are ungrafted, untouched by phylloxera and planted back in the 1890s. As an '03 it may not be one to hold onto for the next 3 decades, but if you're looking for mature Riesling that's drinking beautifully now at an unbeatable price, you should dive in. JFR

  • Out of Stock
  • white medium-sweet
  • 0 in stock
  • $19.99

Tinhof 2010 Burgenland Blau + Red

This is a light-on-its-feet, bright and easy-going blend of Blaufränkisch and Zweigelt from Tinhof's biodynmically farmed vineyards in Eisenstadt. Pretty red fruits, good acidity, well-balanced and fresh. Austrian reds often reveal mild hints of smokiness and woodsy tones, and this is no exception, though the elegance and lightness of the wine will likely be the most noticeable characteristics. JFR

  • Out of Stock
  • red
  • 0 in stock
  • $15.99