Food & Drink

20 Affordable Wines for $20 (& Under)

By Emily Hutchinson
16th Jun 2014

Choosing a beautiful bottle of wine without blowing all your savings can be a tricky task. However, there is a little secret some of our favourite sommeliers of Melbourne are about to let you lucky TUL readers in on – there ARE quality, affordable wines out there for 20 dollars and under! Hip-hip hooray!

To ensure you leave your local bottle-o with top shelf but affordable wines, we sat down with the folk from The Tasting Table, Toorak Cellars, Small Patch Wine Store and Prince Wine Store to find out which international and regional bottles we should be taking home for a cheap but classy date. Here are their picks of the best affordable wines to get cosy with. Chin Chin.

Jack Mullard from The Tasting Table suggests:

1. Levin Loire Valley Sauvignon Blanc 2010 - $19
An organic wine from the Loire Valley in France which is most attractive; a wine that is a halfway house between a Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc and a French Sancerre. The Palate has good acidity with fresh grapefruit, citrus fruit and a medium to long finish.

2. Mount Avoca Growers Blend Chardonnay 2012 - $18
This Pyrenees Chardonnay is certified organic. Light gold in colour with freshly picked apples and apricots, with subtle vanillin oak on the nose.  The delightful apple, apricot and peach flavours are deftly combined with hints of sweet toasty oak to produce a wine full of flavour, with an elegant palate that is both fresh and lively with a silky smooth long, lingering finish.
3. Lithostylis Ironstone Gippsland Pinot Noir 2010 - $20
Small producer Pinot Noir from 15-year-old South Gippsland vineyard. A sweet-fruited nose of strawberries, violets and dried herbs gives way to a spicy palate, with background notes of raspberry, mandarin and coffee. The palate shows mouth-watering acidity and a lingering savoury finish. A light and balanced Pinot Noir, with fine supporting tannins and a generous texture.

4. Calatrasi Salento Terrale Primitivo 2011 - $16
The nose has violet hues made from grapes grown in the Salento area of Apulla. There's plentiful plum and redcurrant notes and the palate is well balanced.

5. Jardin Heathcote Shiraz 2011 - $19
Made by boutique winemaker Adam Marks of Bress winery in the Macedon Ranges, the fruit comes from his silver and gold label Heathcote Shiraz. Easy drinking, soft, spicy and supple Shiraz with good finish and fresh acid. This cooler year gives interesting savoury notes, making it the perfect pairing for roast lamb.

Lyndon Kubis from Toorak Cellars suggests:

1. Cave les Vignerons d'Estezargues Côtes du Rhône La Cuvee des Copains, Rhone Valley (France)  2011 - $19
From an organic co-operative in the Southern Rhone, these wines are made to a natural mantra, eschewing the use of chemicals in the vineyard and with only minimal so2 added. This wine is 100% Grenache and is medium bodied, juicy and delicious, literally translated as 'the wine for friends'.

 2. Rocky Gully Riesling, Frankland River (WA) 2013 - $18
The second label of Australia's best Riesling producer: Frankland Estate, this comes from grapes sourced from the Netley Road vineyard. Generous and perfumed, we think great Riesling is always a bargain, but this is just ridiculous.

3. Amherst 'Daisy Creek' Shiraz/Cabernet, Pyrenees (Vic) 2013 - $16
From the Victorian Pyrenees, Amherst has made this traditional Australian blend to a consistent delicious standard. Ripe, juicy and generously fruited, it is always incredible drinking for $16.

 4. The Avenue Riesling, Clare Valley (SA) 2013 - $19
Riesling again, this time from the Ochota family, who established their vineyard in the Clare Valley in the 1960s. Steely, dry and racy, bargain wine for anyone who loves the Clare Valley!

5. Nine High Pinot Noir, Geelong (Vic) 2011 - $19.50
From fruit sourced around the Bannockburn region of Geelong, this is a rare instance when Pinot Noir expresses regional definition for under $20. Pretty and fine, it has a savoury/earthy edge to it that nods its head to Geelong.  

Craig Donnachie of Small Patch Wine Store suggests:

1. Lock & Key 'Reserve' Shiraz, Hilltops, NSW 2012 - $19.95
An often overlooked region, but not by the Royal Melbourne Wine Show who awarded it a Gold Medal! If you can hunt down their 2012 Chardonnay ($17) it's an absolute bargain (but getting low on numbers these days).

2. Wickhams Road Pinot Noir, Gippsland 2012 - $17
This is Hoddles Creek's non-estate range. It's a hard find getting a great Pinot Noir under 20 bucks. Save yourself time and trouble and head straight for this juicy Gippsland beauty. The Hoddles Creek Estate range is also exceptional value for $20-22.

3. Maretti Langhe Rosso, Langhe, Italy, 2012 - $19.95
Best bought in lots of six at this time of year as it goes very well with hearty Italian fare. It's a blend of Barbera and Nebbiolo with soft tannin and cleansing acidity. You could even cellar it for a few years.

4. Small Patch House Chardonnay, Yarra Valley, 2012 - $15
It's our 'House' wine made by Willie Lunn (Chief Winemaker at Yering Station). Great winemaker and great vintage, too. We also serve it by the glass for $7. It's fantastic quality at a great price and our best selling white wine.

5. Rocky Gully Riesling, Frankland, WA 2013 - $18
This is Frankland Estate's junior label, but it's no spotty upstart. Elegant, fresh and pure Riesling, and certified organic.

Myles Thomson from Prince Wine Store suggests:

1. Il Palagio When We dance Chianti 2012 – $19.95
The 2011 marks just the fourth release of Sting and Trudie's value We Can Dance Chianti from their beautiful Tuscan estate, Il Palagio.  Farmed biodynamically, this transcends its basic 'Chianti' station, presenting a wine of pure sangiovese cherries and spice, nuanced by autumnal undergrowth aromas. It's weighted in the medium-to-full range with good depth of fruit and typically drying, but ripe tannins.

It's a delicious drink that would be the perfect complement to grilled meats and, at this price, it's the best value Chianti we've seen in a long time. This just makes it under the $20 line but you will be tough pressed to find anything as good as this at this price point.

2. Avaniel Tempranillo 2012 Ribera del Duero - $19.00
The Spaniards are on fire at the moment and seem to be making some of the best value wine on the market. This little number is fast becoming a Prince Wine Store's favourite and seems to be getting better every year. It's packed full of wild red fruits and airy herbs. The palate is snappy and bright with juicy fruit and fine firm tannins that make it perfect with some light fare.

3. Rive Droite Cotes du Rhone 2013 - $16.95
This is a delicious blend of Grenache, Syrah and a dollop each of Mourvedre and Cinsault. Fresh and lively, it's fermented and matured in stainless steel creating a wine to drink and enjoy over the next one-two years. With no oak all that unadulterated, juicy red fruit shines through and is carried on a soft and supple palate. This is incredible value at $16.95, but even better by a dozen for $12.50 a bottle, or $10 a bottle when you purchase two dozen!

4. Head Nouveau 2013 - $17.50
We have been following Alex Head for the last couple of years and we always get a little excited when he comes in to show us his wines. They are always beautifully made and delicious. This is a somewhat unusual blend of Touriga (a Portuguese variety), Montepulciano (from Italy) and our old friend Grenache, but it totally works! It's crisp, fresh and with plenty of blue fruits and violet with a gravelly, earthy edge that adds a little interest and intrigue to what is already a ripper of a wine.

There is plenty of fruit on the palate to keep you coming back for more and those earthy/meaty undertones to keep the conversation rolling. This wine is so good that we are pouring it next door at Bellota by the glass, so if that is not a vote of confidence we don't what is!

5. Wickhams Road Pinot Yarra Valley 2013 - $16.00
It can be difficult to find good Pinot Noir under $30, so to find a great one under $20 is always a pleasant surprise. Made at Hoddles Creek in the Yarra Valley, this wine embodies the quality, care and attention that have made the winery such a success. The fruit is sourced from trusted growers and over delivers in every aspect of this fabulous drop.

Spicy black and red fruits jump out at you in the glass, all backed up by gentle savoury, earthy notes. The palate is crispy fresh and bright with a pure fruit drive and lovely foresty berry fruits that push through to the finish.

Main Image Credit: Thriving Twenties

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