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Top 25 Under $25 of 2023 - the best value wine of the past year!

Updated: Mar 12

Holiday scene with Top 25 Under $25 of 2023 in a wreath

NOTE: originally published 12/13/23 on the old site, I'm transferring all posts here slowly!

It's heeeere - the popular annual round up of my most favorite value wines I've tried over the past 365 days. This year really runs the gamut - white, red, rosé, bubbly, from all around the world; 13 countries, 23 different grape varieties! You know how I always champion being adventurous with your wine - well, this is definitely the place to start. As this year draws to a close, I toast YOU, my readers, colleagues, friends, and followers. I wish you all the best for a delightful holiday season, and an amazing 2024 to come. Cheers!


25) 2022 Aslina Chardonnay, South Africa ~$24

Sadly, dependable Chardy is still under attack by the “ABC”-ers (Anything But Chardonnay contingent,) but this is a fantastic option for a new world white - ripe pear, melon, and yellow apple sit alongside light vanilla from oak, with a creamy mouthfeel, and great linear acidity. It really ticks the boxes and is worth a sip!


24) 2021 Casal do Ramiro “The Jackpot” Lisboa Red Blend, Portugal ~$11

I will forgive the slightly silly labeling because an eleven-buck red that is this tasty is a special thing. It is fruity but not overly so, well-balanced with some earthy elements, supported by light tannins and a lifting fresh acidity. Sippable all night, though be forewarned, the screw cap on this baby requires some extra elbow grease.


23) 2021 Alexakis Assyrtiko, Crete, Greece ~$20

(Ah-SEER-tee-ko) Very floral expression, with sea spray and yellow fruit, super-duper high acid and a touch of phenolic grip giving it some extra dimension. Refreshing, gastronomic, and it transports you right to Greece’s sun and surf.


A row of wine bottles on a shelf

22) NV Steenberg Sparkling Sauvignon Blanc, South Africa ~$23

When a colleague suggested this to me, I was like, sparkling Sauvignon Blanc from South Africa? Eh? I haven’t had many, and the idea of putting the pretty aromatic Savvy through traditional method fermentation feels odd, but I’m game! Well y’all, this is scrumptious. The wine spends just a hot second on the lees so it’s not too toasty, and the green plum and guava notes bound cheerfully to the forefront. It’s different and interesting and thoughtful and kind of hard to put down.


21) 2019 Mouton Cadet, Bordeaux, France ~$12

This mostly-Merlot entry level Bordeaux has varietal notes of black tea and plum, with smoke, herbs, and mocha. It’s savory-dominant with a dark character, supported by pretty strong firm acid and chewy, bold tannins; my notes say, “for twelve bucks, this is GREAT.”


20) NV Fagere Le Colture Valdobbiadene, Italy ~$18

If the Minx is reaching for Prosecco, it better be a good one! And this stood out for its savory edge, slightly funky-earthy, but with good white flowers and juicy fruity pear fruit. Slight integrated sweetness, well-balanced, and a long finish.


19) 2020 Joostenberg Die Agteros Old Vine Chenin Blanc, South Africa ~$19

This South African Chenin is a great value, from 40-year old vines on the southwest edge of Paarl. Strong nose of “wooly nectarine,” (yes, it’s true,) with yellow apple, tropical fruit, and bold knife-edge acid. Long finish - a tasty experience.

A line of wine bottles with brown capusles pointing down

18) 2021 Oliveras Rosado, Jumilla, Spain ~$10

This cheerful Spanish rosé is 100% Garnacha, aka the Southern France’s Grenache, and is delightfully fruity, perfectly balanced and quaffable, with more dimension than you may ever expect for ten bucks — simply, a stupidly tasty value.


17) 2022 Donnhoff Riesling Trocken, Nahe, Germany ~$19

I love a dry Riesling that is concentrated and coiled, ready to spring. Dönnhoff is an iconic German producer from the Nahe, whose vineyard bottlings easily hit the $100 mark. This more entry (but no less pedigreed) wine has elegant minerality, florals, lime pith, and fresh herbs, balanced by a richness that is surprising, given the wine’s lean, mean acidity.


16) 2021 Perla del Garda “Perla” Bianco Lugana, Italy ~$20

When I was invited to Rome for the agricultural fair “Villagio Coldiretti,” it was pretty light on the local wine events, but what we did get was fab. So imagine my delight when this Lugana Bianco, a standout from an early tasting, showed up as available in the U.S.! It’s tangy and taut, with a wet rock mineral feel and underlying crushed potpourri and lemon zest. Might be hard to find, but you won’t forget the voluptuous bottle - or the tastiness inside.


15) 2020 Enjingi Grasevina, Croatia ~$20

(Grahs-uh-VEE-nuh) An intriguing, savory wine. Nice prickle of acidity, rich body and mouthfeel with a floral lift and solid, balanced length. Green lentil, herbal tea, dried apple, and wet rock minerality reminds me of some Grüner Veltliner styles but with a touch of thrilling wildness! Not familiar with wines of Croatia? This will whet your whistle. (FYI: Grasevina = Welschriesling, which is NOT at all the same as Riesling.)


14) 2021 Dom. du Bel Air (Gaultier) Jour de Soif Bourgueil, France ~$20

This is a fantastic value - a real “glou glou” quaffer, showing forward red and black-berry fruit, but with an earthy, herby undercurrent that keeps it from being forgettable or silly. It’s chillable and so easy to drink, you’d better grab two because it’ll be gone before you know it.


13) 2021 L’Ecole No. 41 Semillon, Columbia Valley Washington, USA ~$20

Semillon is a bit of a chameleon grape, making it a little hard to understand — but don’t worry about comprehension, just DRINK this zesty yet unctuous white full of florals (honeysuckle, orange blossom,) with citrus, spice, and green fruit notes (kiwi, pear.) It’s got buckets of personality; beguiling and expressive.


12) 2021 Montesissa Rosissima Frizzante Rosé, Emilia-Romagna, Italy ~$24

I love a pet-nat (lightly fizzy methode ancestral sparkler), and this one has tons of cranberry, pomegranate, and blackberry fruit, but also a strong savory streak, like with a rosemary-crusted rack of lamb (seriously!) It sits at the intersection of so many desires… bubbly? Light? Fruity? Savory? Rosé? Check check check check check.


A picnic basket, wine, grapes, book, tablecloth, and two glasses of wine

11) 2021 J&H Selbach Riesling Incline, Germany ~$13

Holy moly what value. Another German Riesling that is super friendly, with tart green apple and lime, high zingy acid, and a scootch of residual sugar. Total summer sipper, it’s charming AF but has a classy concentration and a light phenolic grip. I need a case to sip on all summer long - and at a relatively light 11.5% abv I can do just that!


10) 2021 Somloi Vandonor Furmint, Hungary ~$25

(FOOR-mint) Another bottle that makes the case for Furmint as a world-class wine. This Hungarian white specialty is zingy and intense, almost salty, with crunchy green apple and pear fruit, and a broad toastiness from a few months in some new and used Hungarian oak. It is compelling, but not TOO much of a thinker… just pop one and see why I’m crazy about it.


9) 2020 Col d’Orcia Rosso di Montalcino, Italy ~$23

This is the Sangiovese you need to be drinking on the reg! It’s got a perfect balance of structure and approachability, featuring dark dried cherries, a little menthol, some herbs and underbrush, firm but supple tannins, and fresh, balancing acid. Superbly well-rounded, for pizza night and so much more.


8) 2017 Tahbilk Marsanne, Victoria, Australia ~$21

This may be cheating because I’m sure I’ve had this wine in my TOP before. But it’s always so cool, and when I tasted it again this year, it was a clear contender. Signature neon golden-yellow color, with nougat, yellow melon, wooly, waxy, “different in a good way" aromas and flavors, super viscous, light acid, moderate to low alcohol, strong aromatic intensity, very high quality from special old vine plantings. Luxurious and sexy.


7) 2022 Duzsi Tamas Kekfrankos Rosé, Hungary ~$16

(KEHK-frahnk-osh) Don’t worry about all of the strange Hungarian writing on the bottle, just take it from me, this rose of Kekfrankos (aka Austria’s Blaufrankisch) is just yum-yum delicious. Grapefruit citrus, tropical fruit vibe, but with a tangy, steely backbone, definitely a contender for the best rosé under $20 out there.


6) 2017 Baga Bruto Casa de Saima, Portugal ~$20

I was utterly charmed by this wine - kind of like a Blanc de Noirs and pet-nat had a baby? Ruby red grapefruit peel, ripe peach, a bit of herbal twinge, some salinity, definitely hard to put down. Portugal’s Baga is a surprisingly versatile grape!


5) 2021 Ungrafted Old Vines Cinsault, Itata, Chile ~$19

Juicy-juicy cranberry and blueberry fruit, with pleasant spice, dusty tea leaves, finishing on green stem. (Chile is kinda famous for its “green” notes.) Light acid, barely-there tannin, warm but not hot 13.5%, somewhat simple but quite good concentration and length - nicely done.


4) 2022 Pellé Menetou-Salon Morogues Rosé, France ~$22

I just adore this scrumptious rosé from the Loire. It’s got great concentrated crunchy berry fruit and minerals with a fabulous herbal edge. Super quaffable but not a flimsy sip. Definitely a year-round rosé. Just yum.


3) NV AT Roca Penedes Classic Reserva Metode Tradicional, Spain ~$25

Now that many quality-minded producers are stepping away from the Cava designation, it can be difficult to sort out Spanish bubblies. But for half the price of Champagne, this traditional-method sparkler is elegant and minerally, with lean pear fruit and a herbaceous underlay, making it one to become acquainted with, immediatamente.


2) 2022 Crivelli Ruché di Castagnole Monferrato, Italy ~$25

(ROO-kay) Simply put, this wine is a delightful unicorn. Ruché is a very obscure light red grape from Piedmont, super aromatic - kind of like Nebbiolo without the hard edges - with roses, cherries, dark florals, cranberries, and cinnamon and white pepper spice bursting from the glass. Easy-drinking yet not simple, it’s utterly charming.


Bottle of Luigi Bosca De Sangre Malbec 2021 and glass on a table

1) 2021 Luigi Bosca De Sangre Malbec, Lujan de Cuyo Argentina ~$23

My notes say, “Oof nose!” illustrating the intense mocha, lavender pastille, and plush red fruit that jumps out of the glass. Rich and complex, this Malbec truly overdelivers for the price. I'm such a fan of all the Luigi Bosca range, and to have a more entry-level wine that still punches this high makes it an absolute steal. Perfectly integrated oak, velvety but solid tannins, abundantly-fruited without being too ripe - a fantastic wine all-around.


CHEERS!

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