Sunday, February 18, 2018

These five under-$20 wines can take the chill off winter

By Dave Mcintyre, Special to the Washington Post
Jan. 23, 2018 at 7 p.m.

These five under-$20 wines can take the chill off winter.

Here are five wines, all less than $20, to help you through the winter chill. They include a rich Cotes-du-Rhone that tastes above its pedigree, a fun and juicy Sicilian red, and a philanthropic South African red that funnels extra profits back to the farmers who grow the grapes.

Clos du Mont-Olivet Vieille Vignes 2015

  • 2.5 stars

  • Cotes-du-Rhone, France, $18

This savory, rich red evokes southern France with its scents and flavors of dark fruit, lavender and wild thyme. The winemaker deftly captured the warmth of a ripe vintage without letting the sugar levels in the grapes — and the resulting alcohol in the wine get out of whack. Alcohol by volume: 14.5 percent.

Donnafugata Sedàra 2015

  • 2 stars

  • Sicily, Italy, $18

Sometimes a good wine just needs to get the job done, but with a little added flair. This juicy red blend based on Sicily's own nero d'avola is ideal for casual weeknight meals such as pizza, pasta, even grilled fish or meat. ABV: 13.5 percent.

Stillman St. Chardonnay 2016

  • 2 stars

  • Sonoma County, California, $18

This is good, straightforward chardonnay, rich with stone fruit flavors, just a little bit of influence from older oak barrels, and a nicely balanced finish. ABV: 14.1 percent.

Great value

Cape Venture Wine Co. Lubanzi 2015

  • 2 stars

  • South Africa, $15

Lubanzi is the creation of Washington-based Charles Brain and Walker Brown, who trekked across part of South Africa a few years ago with a stray dog named Lubanzi. They describe their company as a sustainable enterprise; half of the profits go back to the farmers who grew the grapes. They launched last year with two wines: a 2016 chenin blanc and this deliciously zesty 2015 Rhone-style red, a blend of shiraz, cinsault, mourvedre and grenache. The wines are sealed with an innovative twist-off cork. ABV: 13.5 percent.

Great value

Legado del Moncayo Dry Muscat 2016

  • 2 stars

  • Campo de Borja, Spain, $14

Muscat tends to be sweet. Dry versions like this one retain the grape's flowery and citrus character. Think of standing in a lemon grove near the ocean on a breezy day. This is delicious by itself but would be a great partner for seafood salad or paella. ABV: 13 percent.

Prices are approximate. Check to verify availability, or ask a favorite wine store to order through a distributor.



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