In the past, I’ve listed forty wines under twenty bucks. That was an arduous task, so I’ve decided to trim it down a bit. Twenty is plenty! Over the past eleven months, I’ve tasted thousands of wines (or close to that) and I dutifully scribble tasting notes in my Moleskine for future reference. I use a grading system to remind me how good the wine is, with A+ being the top grade and, of course, F, meaning the wine should not even be considered for consumption. An F grade is rare, thankfully. I’ve run across a few A+ wines this year, which is great, although most were not under the twenty dollar price point.

In the list to follow, I’m looking for wines under twenty bucks that garnered at least a B+ grade. I’m super excited about my #1 wine this year! It’s always interesting to look at the lists that come out at the end of each year. Most of these lists, do not take the price point into consideration. I feel that the price is important if you want to find a good wine that doesn’t break the bank. So, without further ado, here are my top twenty wines under twenty bucks that I’ve discovered in 2023.

#20) 2022 Tenuta Sallier Dela Tour Inzolia (Sicilia, Italy)… $16.

From a not-so-well-known white grape out of Sicily. Aromas of herbs, citrus, melon and banana. The herbal notes come through on the palate, backed by lemon-lime citrus notes on solid, nicely integrated acidity. This baby is close to mouth-watering with the lemon-lime notes lingering with the herbs on the back end. Great balance and a solid food white. (B+)

#19) 2019 Chateau de Montfaucon “La Cote” Cotes Du Rhone (Rhone Valley, France)… $18.

Cherries, red flowers, tobacco and boysenberries on the nose. Nice concentration of dark cherry and boysenberry notes on the palate. Tobacco notes come out on the back of the mid-palate into the finish where there is a hit of minerality and a solid dose of spices (white pepper) that lingers. (B+)

#18) 2021 Battle Creek Cellars “Unconditional” Chardonnay (Oregon)… $18.

Aromas of lemon, apple, pear and a kiss of butter. Citrus and apple notes come through on a creamy mouthfeel, supported by balanced acidity. Good structure with lemon notes lingering on the finish. Fresh, delicious and clean. Finishes dry making this an excellent choice to pair with salads or shellfish. Not for the buttery Chard lovers, but if you like Chablis, this is the one, at a great price (finding a Chablis for eighteen bucks is very difficult). (B+)

#17) 2017 Babylon’s Peak “Warp + Weft” ShweShwe Red Blend (Swartland, South Africa)… $16.

Aromas of licorice, blueberries, raspberries and cherries. Fresh on the palate, with nicely integrated acidity that backs notes of cherries, blueberries and tobacco, with licorice notes hanging out in the background. Smooth tannins that have a slight edge to them on the finish. There is a little hard candy action on the palate without being sweet (if that makes sense). A blend of 31 % Shiraz, 19% Carignan, 15.5% Mourvedre, 14% Cinsault, 11% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Pinotage, 1.5% Viognier (B+)

#16) 2019 Enrique Mendoza “La Tremenda” Monastrell (Alicante, Spain)… $14.

Crushed red brick on the nose, joined by notes of cherries, bark and toast with hints of plums. Cherry notes hit the front of the palate with a toasty edge and white pepper, joined by ripe cranberry notes. There is a kiss of rust and iron that rides underneath on meaty tannins. This is a true “old world” red that is well-made at a stupid price. (B+)

#15) 2021 Edmeades Zinfandel (Mendocino, CA)… $18.

Aromas of black raspberries and currants. Plush currant notes on the palate that is balanced by nicely integrated acidity and structured tannins. Black raspberry notes sneak in on the mid-palate into the finish where they mingle with the currant notes and a hit of white pepper. (B+)

#14) 2018 Cantine Di Ora Amicon Rosso (Veneto, Italy)… $15.

Aromas of raisin, dark cherry, purple flowers, chocolate and coffee bean. Fairly intense notes of fig, cherry and raisin on the palate with underlying chocolate notes on solid tannins that get a little grip action on the finish where there is an interesting veggie component that sneaks in. Nicely balanced with well-integrated acidity that pops on the lingering finish. Made predominantly from the Corvina grape which is the main grape of Amarone which demands a much higher price. This is a steal if you are a big Amarone fan. (B+)

#13) 2021 City Limits “The Citizen” Red (Columbia Valley, WA)… $18.

Currants and black raspberries on the nose with a touch of smokiness. Smooth and lush on the palate with notes of currants and black raspberries, backed by a solid core of spices and a tiny kiss of vanilla. It finishes long with chocolate notes on the back end. This is a spoil-your-palate wine that has good structure. It does not fall at all into the flabby category. 80% Zinfandel, 8% Petite Sirah, 8% Primitivo, 4% Merlot (B+)

#12) 2019 Ramos Tinto Reserva (Alentejano, Portugal)… $12.

Boysenberry big time on the nose, joined by notes of dark cherries, tobacco and a kiss of smoke. Boysenberry and dark cherry notes penetrate the palate on smooth tannins and well-integrated acidity that gives the wine a lift in the mouth. Tobacco notes join the palate party on the mid-palate into a juicy finish with dark cherry notes lingering. This baby is a “10” in the delicious category and a steal at this price. (B+)

#11) 2019 Famille Brunier Le Pigeoulet Vaucluse Rouge (Vin de Pays De Valcluse, France)… $18.

Aromas of cherries, boysenberries, tobacco and plum. Dark cherry notes on the palate with underlying boysenberry notes mingled with tobacco. Meaty tannins with a kiss of savory earth coming through. Excellent balance and complexity, this baby will improve nicely over the next ten years. 80% Grenache, 10% Syrah, 5% Carignan, 5% Cinsault (B+/A-)

#10) 2022 Love & Squalor Mothershucker White (Willamette Valley, Oregon)… $18.

Aromas of apple, melon, peach and hints of apricot. It is vibrant on the palate with notes of peach, apricot and a kiss of orange coming through. There is an interesting nuttiness that hides in the background. It has a creaminess on the mid-palate that morphs into a dry, delicious and fresh finish where apricot, peach and orange notes linger. Balanced acidity keeps this wine fresh in the mouth and yes, it would be a great shellfish white. A blend of Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling and Pinot Gris (B+/A-)

#9) 2022 Dashwood Sauvignon Blanc (Marlborough, New Zealand)… $13.

Melon on the nose, joined by notes of grapefruit pith, lime and a hint of bubblegum. Jazzy on the palate with a little Juicy Fruit gum action. Zesty notes of lemon, lime and grapefruit dance on the palate backed by solid, balanced acidity. This is a nervy, delicious Sauvignon Blanc that would be a hit at any party…And the price! (B+/A-)

#8) 2020 Dixie & Bass Red (Columbia Valley, WA)…. $18.

There are interesting granola bar notes on the nose, mingled with notes of dark cherries and currants. Currant notes dominate the palate balanced by nicely integrated acidity. Polished tannins support the currant notes as they ride seamlessly across the palate finishing with loads of spice notes joining the palate party and a kiss of chocolate. Great balance and structure. This baby is a “10” in the delicious category. 61% Merlot, 30% Cabernet Franc, 9% Petit Verdot (B+/A-)

#7) 2022 Jones Of Washington Riesling (Ancient Lakes Of Columbia Valley, WA)… $15.

Minerality comes through on the nose, joined by notes of apricot, apple and mango. Apricot and mango notes shine on the palate with a kiss of white peach. The initial attack is medium sweetness balanced by well-integrated acidity. It dries out a bit on the finish where there is just a hint of rubber boot that joins with the fruit notes. A stellar Riesling for the price with good complexity. (A-)

#6) Non-Vintage Domaine Lingot-Martin Pet Nat Gamay (Vin de France)… $18.

Cherries and red plums on the nose with a hint of orange peel. Solid acidity makes this wine lively and fresh in the mouth. It drives the fruit notes of cherries, red plums and orange creamsicle notes that lurk in the background. Light bubbles dance across the palate into a lingering, delicious finish. (A-)

#5) 2021 Kentia Albarino (Rias Baixas, Spain)… $15.

Aromas of peaches and apples with hints of apricot. Apricot and peach notes are driven by well-balanced almost cutting acidity. This baby sings on the palate into a lingering finish of apricot, peach and tangerine notes with a kiss of minerality. (A-)

#4) 2020 Pajos Furmint (Tokaj, Hungary)… $16.

Aromas of apple, dried herbs, minerals and citrus. Apple and lemon-lime notes penetrate the palate on solid acidity. This baby has a lot of verve in the mouth, almost tense but certainly lively. It expands on the mid-palate into a lingering finish where the citrus notes hit hard. Mineral notes sneak out on the back end. This baby will wake up your palate! (A-/A)

#3) 2022 Saint Dominique Roussanne (Mediterranee, France)… $15.

There’s a dusty minerality on the nose, joined by notes of peach, mango and melon. Well-integrated acidity supports notes of white peach, guava and mango with a kiss of banana. This dances lightly and deliciously across the palate into a lingering finish where mineral notes and a kiss of white pepper join the palate party. This baby is delicate and dangerous. Be careful or the wine will be gone before you know it. Self-control is a must. The price is stupid for what you get. (A-/A)

#2) 2020 Rosso Di Morgante Nero d’Avola (Sicily, Italy)… $18.

Aromas of ripe dark currants, licorice and chocolate. Plush up front on the palate with notes of ripe currants, black raspberries and chocolate that take a seamless ride across the palate into a clean finish where the licorice notes join in. Interesting dried bark notes lie underneath from the mid-palate into the finish where the ripe currant notes linger. Great complexity and balance. (A/A+)

#1) 2021 Comeluna Puglia Rosso (Puglia, Italy)… $16.

Deep cherry notes come through on the nose, joined by notes of dried bark, earth and hints of cinnamon and licorice. Intense cherry notes on the palate that are balanced by nicely integrated acidity. Earth and dried bark notes sneak out on the mid-palate into the complex and long finish of cherry liqueur, licorice, and hints of chocolate, mingled with the earth notes. Such good balance. It wants to go big and bold, but the structured tannins and earth notes keep everything in check. 85% Nero di Troia and 15% Primitivo (A+)

There you have it. It’s very interesting that five of the top ten are whites. I believe that has never happened with my past lists. Obviously, I’ve tasted a lot of great white wines in 2023. You should be able to get your hands on most of the wines listed above, but that depends on the retailer you buy from. Like I mentioned at the start, I’m super excited about my number-one wine this year! It only took one taste to know it was going to be in my top ten. It’s also my “Pick Of The Month” for December…Go figure.


Stan The Wine Man

About Stan The Wine Man

I am a blue collar wine guy who has been in the biz for over twenty years. I work at a store in a tourist destination stop. I work hard at finding the best wine for the money. I love the challenge of learning my customer's palate so I can find the best wine for them, whether it is Petrus or white zinfandel. Cheers!
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