In a world where getting a wine recommendation is one “hey Google” away, choosing the next best sip seems simple. However, wine publications and the ratings they give still serve as a steadfast, reliable assurance that the red, white, rosé or bubbly you are about to buy has the quality you expect. And while I always advocate for consumers to taste and judge a wine for themselves, sometimes having a rating and corresponding tasting note to reference comes in handy when making your final decision. With almost 18 years of experience in the wine industry, I still find myself using ratings on a daily basis- especially when gathering information about wines I’m unfamiliar with. Below is a list of some of my current favorites, all priced under $20 and rated 90 or better by a leading wine publication. Enjoy!
Santa Julia Reserva Mountain Blend | Argentina
A blend of malbec and cabernet franc, this delicious red is the brainchild of Julia Zuccardi, whose family has been making wine in Argentina for over 50 years. The 2016 vintage, which is currently available in select stores, was scored 90 points by Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate noting, “This has bright fruit, a fresh palate and a vibrant finish. This is really pleasant. Great value, and a superb example of why this blend is gaining traction in Argentina.”
Two Princes Riesling |Germany
Fans of wines with a bit of sweetness take note. The Two Princes Riesling over delivers at its price point, with flavors of green apples and pears and a refreshing acidity that makes it pair perfectly with spicy food. The Wine Enthusiast Magazine agreed, scoring the 2017 vintage a solid 90 points.
Ancient Peaks Zinfandel | California
Paso Robles is poised to boom in popularity, due in part to wines such as this, that deliver some of the best values coming out of California. This zinfandel is loaded with flavor, scoring 90 points from the Wine Advocate for the 2016 vintage. If jammy, bold reds are to your liking, this is a must-try that would pair very well with grilled meat.
Domaine Gueguen Chablis | France
I absolutely love unoaked chardonnay and there is no region in the world that expresses this style better than Chablis. For the 2017 vintage, Neil Martin of Vinous Media gives it 90 points and writes, “The 2017 Chablis is vibrant and energetic on the nose with yellow plum scents complementing the citrus fruit. The palate is well balanced with crisp acidity, taut and linear yet with ample weight towards the finish that fans out with mango and mandarin notes. What an excellent Chablis Village!”
Made from organically grown grapes in the Beaujolais region of France, this light bodied, flavorful red makes for a perfect alternative for fans of pinot noir looking for more bang for the buck. The Wine Enthusiast gave the 2016 vintage a glowing 90-point review, noting its “red-plum flavors” and its ability to age. Decant for an hour and serve with roasted chicken.