Six summer sippers under $20

gramon gran cuveeGramona gran cuvee ($18, find this wine)
In the quest for affordable bubbly, cava often appears. But this 2004 gran cuvee from Gramona is a cut above, softer and rounder than champagne but lacking the sweetness often found in other, lesser cavas. Handsome packaging also makes this a good gift to bring to a lawn party.

Luneau-Papin, Clos des Allees, Muscadet 2005 $12 (find this wine)
One of the unanimously popular wines from my last NYU class, this Muscadet has the vaguely saline allure of good Muscadet yet weaves in a layer of creamy richness. A no brainer with seafood.

Kurt Darting, riesling, Durkheimer 2005 (about $13, find this wine)
From the Pfalz, one of the warmest growing areas in Germany, comes this value riesling from Kurt Darting. The warmer climate makes it have more tropical fruit notes and makes the off-dry wine a great match for spicy foods. It was the most popular wine at a recent tasting I did for 130 people who applauded, cheered and threw panties on stage for this wine when I asked them which was their fave. Riesling appears on the inside track fo the Grape of the Year 2008!

Thierry Puzelat PN ($18, find this wine)
I always love finding a great pinot noir under $20 and this stealth find doesn’t say the grape variety or place on the label. That’s because the naturalista winemaker Thierry Puzelat in the Loire has made this wine as a humble vin de table rather than as a traditional appellation wine so it can’t even provide the vintage either (you can read more about these crazy French wine laws in my new book, Wine Politics). This PN has good pinot character with lively fruit and acidity, which make it a perfect pairing for dining on the deck.

yellow blue malbecYellow + Blue malbec, Mendoza 2007 (about $11 for a liter, find this wine)
This is my first taste of the YB, an unoaked malbec from grapes grown organically in Mendoza that comes in a one-liter TetraPak. Unlike most box wines that have little to distinguish them other than the packaging, this wine has good poise and intensity with berry, plum and herbal freshness. Because it’s a third more wine than a regular bottle, this is a crazy-good value. The ultra-light packaging means it’s easy to throw it in your backpack or picnic basket when you need wine on the go. Try serving slightly chilled.

Chateau d’Oupia, Minervois, 2006 $11 (find this wine)
Fuller bodied than the malbec, this natural wine from Languedoc should be a staple of tightwad grillers everywhere. Grilled meat–preferably without sauce–has met it’s match.

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13 Responses to “Six summer sippers under $20”

  1. If I had panties I would toss them on the stage for the Luneau-Papin but I really enjoyed the Darting as well. Time to seek out the others.

  2. I clicked through to find the Yellow & Blue, but got zero results in NY, and zero in “all states”… Did it already disappear, or is distribution that limited?

  3. Hey Tish –

    The importer (J. Soif) for Y+B says that it has not yet arrived in NY yet–about another month. So summer sipper yes, just not start-of-summer sipper. He said it is currently in Maryland though I guess the stores don’t participate in wine-searcher.

    Cool, Noah! Maybe “throw panties on the stage” should be an official wine term for wines with stupendous crowd appeal?

  4. How about a rose for the summer under $20 list? The Mulderbosch Rose from South Africa made with Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc makes an incredible quaffer but because of the grapes chosen it has perfect backbone for seafood or even bbq.

  5. in my quest to complete my list of 100 grapes, I was looking for something different this summer. Thanks for the wonderful suggestions. I think Chateau d’Oupia will help me get futhur on my list. Also, Dorothy and John of WSJ fame also obliged with a new summer wine with a unique grape ‘Arneis’

    My summer quest for uniqe grapes has just begun. 🙂

  6. Hey Sam – I’ve got nothing against roses (in fact I defended them last summer). There will be more lists of summer sippers!

    Hey Aditya and welcome back. Will you finish that Wine Century already?! 😉 Italy will definitely put you on the fast track–and so will Greece and Portugal! Cheers,

  7. Tish,
    Matthew Cain here, owner and importer of Yellow+Blue. Tyler is correct that we will be up and running in NY and NJ on August 1, and we will be distributed by Polaner Selections in both markets. If you are looking for the wine now, here are some markets close to NY where we are distributed, along with our distributor’s name:

    CT – Slocum and Sons
    DE – NKS Distributors
    MD – Chesapeake Beverage Group
    VA – Roanoke Valley Wine Co.

    Any retailer in any of the above states can get the wine for you if they don’t already carry it. It will take only a day or so to get it from the distributor.

    Let me know if you have any other questions. Feel free to E-mail me directly if you wish. My address is

    Thanks again for your interest.


  8. Matt – thanks for letting us know those details.

  9. point noted Signoria Vino! I will try and not to disappoint you. yeah am sorry for my sabbatical from the blog. Its been a bit chaotic at Wall St. off late, so we are just trying to hold on to our seats for now.

  10. I had the good fortune to visit Gramona one year ago, in Sant Sadurnie, a short trip from Barcelona in Cava region. They produce a number of great cavas, but sadly only the Grand Cuvee you show is available in the US. Urge your readers to also try their “Gesemi” a wonderful, flowery fruity summer wine that is available, at least in the NY region.
    Also for “aditya” in your 100 grape search, have you tried the Bierzo reds from Spain, using the Mencia grape, region just south of the Rias Baixas [Albarino].

  11. Thanks a lot Peter. Mencia grape definitely helps.

  12. Peter –

    I got that Gramona at Astor Wines and I see that they also now stock the “III Lustros” 2001. A must try, I’m sure–if you’re into $45 cava that is…I’ll keep an eye out for the Gesemi.


  13. rules to open home healthcare…

    sensitively deliberately?mountaineering …


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