Top Ten Value Finds of the Year Under $20!!!

The Twin Cities Market has some of the better value finds of the year thanks to Big Top/Sid’s Liquor stores and a handful of other fine wine retailers such as Winestreet Spirits and Atomic Liquors. You will not find these deals at Surdyk’s, Haskell’s, Total Wine and certainly not at France 44 that have predictable pricing on most of their products. Haskell’s used to be more creative in their BOGO wine deals but now are just trying to move out some old, tired wine that is past peak. I have purchased a fair amount of wine from Haskell’s and Surdyk’s this year so don’t think I don’t promote and endorse them, it is just you will not find the below deals there.

Notice not all wines made it to day 3 as if they are declining or seem at peak, I consumed them prior to day 3.

Here we go on my top ten!

10. This wine was the only wine purchased outside of MN on WTSO. I have purchased Dierberg from Surdyk’s before but this was a steal at $13.99 per bottle which included shipping.

2014 Dierberg Chardonnay Dierberg Vineyard – USA, California, Central Coast, Santa Maria Valley (12/6/2018)
Day 1: Clean wine with a mix between Burgundy and California. Orange peel, lemon, shell, chalk and mild oak. Very nice Chardonnay for the price point. Better than most for 2 to 3 times the price. 90 plus
Day 2: Lemon more prominent. Spices, candied fruit and minerals. Decant acidity and medium finish. Still solid. 90 points

Recommendation: Drink now. (90 points)

9. This is a consistent favorite and often times has a $3 rebate to the wine’s already low pricing. This was purchased at WineStreet for $11.99 (minus $3 a bottle) $8.99 a bottle cracks the $10 mark!

2016 Substance Cabernet Sauvignon – USA, Washington (9/18/2018)
Day 1: A big wine with blueberries, Bing cherries, smoke, oak and vanilla. Finishes strong and you can taste the oak. This wine is similar to some of the oak barrel wines from Napa but at a fraction of the price. Very much a guilty pleasure wine. 90 points
Day 2: More mellow than the intensity of day 1. Fruit is not as vibrant and a little astringent. The drop off tells me this is a pop and pour wine. 85 points
Recommendation: Drink now. (90 points)

8. The most expensive of the offerings at $19.99 prior to tax so $22 after this wine is still available at Sid’s in Bloomington.

2013 Chateau Ste. Michelle Cabernet Sauvignon Cold Creek VineyardUSA, Washington, Columbia Valley (12/4/2018)
Day 1: This is an exceptional bottle of this wine. Far superior to any others I have tasted. Graphite, cassis, spice box, gravel and mild oak. Nice floral notes on the palate and good acidity. This is the Cold Creeks I tasted back in the 90s. Wonderful wine and wish they all drank like this. 92 plus
Day 2: Wonderful again with mint, cassis, cigar, floral and earth. Medium plus finish and balanced. 92-93 points

Recommendation: Drink now to 2020. (92 points)

7. In at number 7 another Big Top/Sid’s Williams Wednesday deals and with tax clocks in at $17.60.

2012 Marqués de Cáceres Rioja Reserva – Spain, La Rioja, Rioja (11/10/2018)
Day 1: Nice fruit featuring raspberries, blueberries and sour cherries. Good acidity and there are some really nice secondary character to this wine featuring spice, leather, chocolate and dust. Medium plus finish. Drinking great right now. Highly recommended. 91 points
Day 2: Not as good as day 1 but still solid. Rustic with sour cherries, dust, leather, floral and spice. More secondary character and a little less intense. This is still a very good wine on day 2. 90 points
Day 3: Day 3 is drinkable but again not as good as day 1. Too much wood and lack of fruit. 88 points
Recommendation: This is not a 3 day wine review success story on this bottle. I would either decant an hour and consume day 1 or hold for a few years. (91 points)

6. Another super deal and $4 cheaper than Hennepin Lake and Haskell’s on this one. This was another Williams Wednesday deals. $19.00 prior to tax.  AVAILABLE AT HASKELL’S $21.99.

2014 Marietta Cellars Christo – USA, California, Sonoma County (10/18/2018)
CDay 1: Bigger style wine with blackberries, smoke, spice, plums and rose petals. On the palate wood is present. I liked this at a recent tasting and I think over 3 days this should improve. 89 points
Day 2: More balanced on day 2. Not as much of the jammy fruits. Blueberries, strawberries, spice, subtle wood and match stick. Solid and well made. Great QPR. 90 points
Day 3: More refined. Nice fruits but adds black pepper which I enjoy. Medium plus finish. A hit with the crowd. 91 points
Recommendation: This needs a little time. Got better on day 3 which tells me drink 2020 and beyond. (91 points)

5. The number five wine was on sale at a wine shop few know about called Atomic Liquors. This is in the site of an old Cellars Wine Shop. They purchased some of the old inventory and some deals are available there when they have a sale.  $19.50 including tax.

2015 Tensley Syrah – USA, California, Central Coast, Santa Barbara County (1/26/2018)
Day 1: Fragrant on the nose with roasted meats, cedar, dark fruits. On the palate a big, powerful wine with dark fruits, spices, floral and chalk. Medium plus finish Good value for around $20. 90 points
Day 2: Picking up some underbrush on the nose and palate. Still a big wine with no signs leading to consume this wine young. Really nice fruit and medium plus, balanced finish. Great value!!! 91 points
Day 3: Wow much more balanced across the board. Nose is more mellow and matches the palate. Subtle spices, floral, dark fruits, coffee beans and roasted meats. Medium plus finish and nice acidity. This is a real steal and will be picking up the rest of the bottles at a wine shop sale for $19.50 with tax. Hard to beat that! 92 points

Recommendation: I would hold this for a year or two. (92 points)

4. The only French wine on the list. This Wine Street’s beauty checks in at a steal of a deal at $9. STILL AT WINESTREET FOR $9.97.

2015 Bieler Père et Fils Côtes du Rhône Villages – France, Rhône, Southern Rhône, Côtes du Rhône Villages (3/23/2018)
Day 1: Really nice for the price. Black pepper, raspberries, strawberries, underbrush and spices. Sweet fruits on the finish. Good complexity and medium plus finish. This is a really good wine for $7.97. Highly recommended.89 points
Day 2: Nice rustic edge emerging on this. Baby CDP. Underbrush, ripe raspberries, pepper and stone. Even better on day 2 and a better bottle than the first one I purchased. 90 points
Day 3: Nose is even more expressive with violets, spices, underbrush and mint. The palate is full of life and very flavorful. This is a really well made wine. I like this bottle better than the last which I gave 89 points. I see this wine possbily improving over time hence the 90+ final score.
Recommend: Decant two or three hours on day one or enjoy like I did over the course of a few days or cellar for 1 to 3 years. (90 points)

3. A new discovery this year and what a great example of Pinot Noir for under $20 (That is rare!). I need to purchased more of this wine next time it goes on sale for $18.99.  Comment and I might give you the location of this one!

2014 Sea Slopes Fort Ross Winery Pinot Noir – USA, California, Sonoma County, Sonoma Coast (10/5/2018)
Day 1: This is an excellent value. Under $20 for Pinot Noir at this level is rare. Meat, strawberries, floral and celery. While this is a shorter finish good acidity is present. Drinking well now but could age some. 91 points
Day 2: Drinking well with nice acidity. Sauvage, floral notes, strawberries, raspberries and minerals. Very balanced effort and as commented to someone today the best Pinot Noir under $20 I have ever tasted. 92 points
Day 3: Not as good but still solid. This is an amazing value for under $20.
Recommendation: This is drinking great right now so I would consume in the next couple years. This is the best Pinot I have purchased under $21 ever. 92 points

Recommendation: This could be enjoyed now or hold for 3 years. (92 points)

2. This is certainly the best priced wine on this list at the amazing price of $6.60 at Big Top/Sid’s. Jackpot find of 2 cases of this in the closeout bins. Not the best wine on the list but the best deal as this goes for $25 plus.

2016 Tablas Creek Côtes de Tablas Blanc – USA, California, Central Coast, Paso Robles Adelaida District (6/22/2018)
Day 1: Nice minerality, orange peel, lemon rind, apricots and chalk. Very complex wine and good acidity. Should drink well for five plus years. 90 points
Day 2: Better. Vibrant wine with lemon, spice, pine nuts, citrus and minerals. Medium plus finish and great acidity. Such a good value wine. 91 plus!
Day 3: Similar to day 2. This is a wine that has time.
Recommendation: Drink now or hold up to 5 years. (91 points)

1.The number one wine on the list is a tie! The Kaesler Avignon is from Winestreet and cost $14 with tax while theNorton cost $15.18 with tax and was purchased from Atomic Liquors

2012 Kaesler Avignon – Australia, South Australia, Barossa, Barossa Valley (2/10/2018)
Day 1: Opened for about 3 hours. Nice Garrique, red currants, subtle spices and pine tar. This drinks more like a CDP than any other Aussie Grenache Blend I have ever tasted. An absolutely stunning value (won’t tell you what I paid for it). An early candidate for QPR of the year and will be hard to beat. Will be interested to see what this does on day 2 and 3.
Day 2: Still singing with similarities to day 1. Very intense wine with tons of flavors complexity. Long finish. A true find. Under the radar as I did not like the 2012 Bogan and gave it sub 80 points. Wow!!! 93 points

Recommendation: Drink now. (93 points)

The Bodega Norton Privada was purchased from Atomic Liquors on one of their sales which then made it a must buy at $15.18 with tax.

2013 Bodega Norton Privada Mendoza – Argentina, Mendoza (8/28/2018)
Day 1: Most funked up wine of the lot so far. Bordeaux like with funk, tobacco, dark currants and menthol. Medium plus and concentrated finish. Tastes like a $50 Bordeaux wine. Outstanding value again.
Day 2: Funk was not as powerful but still present. Again wonderful. 93 points
Day 3: Even better. More integrated and balanced. This wine delivers big time on the finish with nice pencil lead, vibrant fruits, gravel and coffee beans. Long finish. 94 points
Recommendation: The best bottle of the lot I bought. Certainly the front runner for my wine of the year in the QPR category!!! (94 points)

Expect many more great discoveries from 3 Day Wine Review in 2019. Only those on my Twin Cities Wine Club will get first crack at these wines so please visit so you can join the best wine club in town.W

3 thoughts on “Top Ten Value Finds of the Year Under $20!!!”

  1. 2012 Marqués de Cáceres Rioja Reserva – Spain, La Rioja, Rioja (11/10/2018)
    Day 1: Nice fruit featuring raspberries, blueberries and sour cherries. Good acidity and there are some really nice secondary character to this wine featuring spice, leather, chocolate and dust. Medium plus finish. Drinking great right now. Highly recommended. 91 points
    Day 2: Not as good as day 1 but still solid. Rustic with sour cherries, dust, leather, floral and spice. More secondary character and a little less intense. This is still a very good wine on day 2. 90 points
    Day 3: Day 3 is drinkable but again not as good as day 1. Too much wood and lack of fruit. 88 points
    Recommendation: This is not a 3 day wine review success story on this bottle. I would either decant an hour and consume day 1 or hold for a few years. (91 points)

    John I saw WineStreet has this wine in mag form for $30 right now.

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