Anybody can buy a good $50 wine. Buying a good wine under $20 takes some moxie.
We live in the 21st Century. Scientists at the famous wine schools at University of California-Davis and the University of Bordeaux have isolated the methods for making clean, standard wine — if not yet the ethereal stuff that also requires artistry.
I know it takes away some of the romance and mystery, but it’s better than drinking stinky wine. I’ve said it before: I think it’s possible today for anybody with $50 million to buy the expertise, land, vines and fermenting equipment to make wine that’s at least OK.
Whether you like a particular wine is, on the other hand, one of the most subjective judgments you can make.
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Here are 10 moderately priced wines I like:
1. 2011 Roble, by Viña Arnáiz, DO Ribera del Duero, Spain (90 percent tempranillo, 5 percent merlot, 5 percent cabernet sauvignon); deep, dark and rich, like a muscular Rioja, aromas and flavors of black raspberries and espresso, long, smooth finish; $18.
2. 2013 Burgáns Albariño, by Martin Códax, DO Rias Baixas, Spain: zingy with acids and intense fruit, aromas and flavors of oranges, melons and minerals; $15.
3. 2013 Vermentino White Wine, Aia Vecchia IGT Maremma, Tuscany (95 percent vermentino, 5 percent viognier): crisp and lively, with aromas and flavors of lemons and limes; $12.
4. 2012 deAlto Amo Blanco, DOC Rioja, Spain (75 percent viura, 25 percent chardonnay); crisp and light, with flavors of white grapefruit and almonds; $10.
5. 2009 Chianti Rufina Riserva, by Nipozzano, Tuscany DOCG (90 percent sangiovese, 10 percent malvasia nera, colorino, merlot, cabernet sauvignon): floral aromas, flavors of blackberries, spice and minerals; $19.
6. 2013 McManis Family Vineyards Zinfandel, Lodi, California: Big and ripe and rich, with red raspberry flavors and smooth tannins; $11.
7. 2013 Carmel Road Unoaked Chardonnay, Monterrey, California: light and crisp, with floral aromas and flavors of golden apples and spice; $18.
8. 2012 Josh Cellars “Legacy” Red Wine, California (merlot, zinfandel, syrah and petite sirah): lush and ripe, with aromas and flavor of blueberries, herbs and chocolate; $15.
9. 2013 Great Southern Riesling, by Robert Oatley, Australia: light and crisp, with aromas and flavors of lemons and limes; $17.
10. 2012 Bridlewood Pinot Noir, Monterey County: aromas and flavors of red plums and cherries, medium body, long finish; $18.