© Ray Isle
The sun is shining, the weather is sweet, and whether or not you want to move your dancing feet à la the Bob Marley song, at the very least you need a good glass—or bottle—of wine. Here are fifteen terrific choices for under $20 that are ideal for any summer occasion.
2013 Evolúció Dry Furmint ($12) The Hungarian Furmint grape is typically used in the country’s famed, sweet Tokajis. This dry, peachy version is one of the best white wines at this price I’ve come across in a long time.
2014 Ricardo Santos Semillon ($16) The candied lemon aroma of this white suggests it will be sweet, but it isn’t at all—instead it’s crisp and dry, with citrus and mineral notes.
2014 Santa Ema Chardonnay ($16) Central California winemaker Joey Tensley consults for Santa Ema on wines from their cool Leyda valley vineyards, a mere four miles from the ocean. This fragrant, peach-tropical fruit Chardonnay shows off his winemaking talents.
2014 Donnafugata Sur Sur Grillo ($18) A lot of Sicilian Grillo can be very pineappley and almost cloying. This one, by contrast, is lemon zesty and vibrant, a great summertime white.
2013 Robert Weil Tradition Riesling ($20) A barely perceptible hint of sweetness is more than offset by the thrilling acidity in this impressive Riesling. Weil is one of the greatest producers of the Rheingau, if not the greatest, and that pedigree shows in this racy, complex white.
2014 Le Bonheur Rosé ($13) Pale, pale salmon-pink, this Provençal rosé (the home of rosé, after all) is light and delightful, with citrus and strawberry notes—not a wine to think about, just to sit back and enjoy on a sunny afternoon.
2014 Charles & Charles Columbia Valley Rosé ($14) A collaboration between winemakers Charles Smith (of Charles Smith Wines) and Charles Bieler (of Three Thieves and Bandit), this Washington State rosé is taut and zingy, with a light watermelon aroma.
2014 Gifft Rosé ($17) Today Show star Kathie Lee Gifford produces this lively, strawberry scented rosé in partnership with Monterey’s Scheid Family Vineyards; chilled down, it would be ideal with lighter grilled dishes—chicken, salmon, veggies, you name it.
2014 Ameztoi Rubentis Rosé Txakoli ($19) The wine of Spain’s Basque country, Txakoli is irrepressibly zesty, ever so slightly sparkling and eminently refreshing—hard to imagine a better summer drink. This rosé version from one of the best Txakoli producers adds a wild berry note as well.
2012 Cameron Hughes Lot 487 ($13) A field blend of Zinfandel, Syrah and Petite Sirah from Lodi (“field blend” meaning that the original farmer just planted the three varieties randomly on the same plot of land) this red packs oodles of dark berry flavor into a very affordable package.
2014 Tercos Malbec ($14) An intensely (and appealingly) peppery Malbec, this red has plenty of ripe boysenberry fruit as well.
2012 Banfi Chianti Classico ($15) Chianti Classico is a region, not a quality designation (it’s one of eight sub-zones within the broad Chianti region), but regardless, this red is definitely classic Chianti: firm structure, bright berry fruit, and a hint of autumnal dried leaves.
2013 Capezzana Barco Reale ($15) “This is the first year we really started to see the results of our switch to organic viticulture,” Beatrice Contini Bonacossi mentioned when she was in the F&Woffices recently. Regardless of that switch—or possibly because of it—this rosemary-scented, Sangiovese-based red, with its intense wild berry flavor, is a great deal for under $20.
2011 Marques de Vargas “Vargas” Rioja ($18) 35-year-old vines give this crianza Rioja more depth than you’d usually expect at this price; it’s very fragrant, with dark, earthy blueberry notes and a touch of sweetness from 12 months in French and American oak barrels.
2013 Broadside Paso Robles Cabernet Sauvignon ($18) Bright blackberry and fresh herb aromas lead into this fruit-forward but structured Cabernet. It’s a pleasure to drink right now, and light enough on its feet that you could even chill it down a little.