There are a ton of good wines under $30.00 on the market in Minneapolis/St. Paul. I would say 90% of wine buyers stay exclusively in this category (that might be closer to 95%). The good news is these wines will steal the show at your next blind tasting even if there are wines twice the price in attendance.
Rules of my top wines under $30.00.: The average consumer needs to be able to purchase these wines under $30.00. The list would look different with all the deals certain wine shops offer so I wanted to keep it accurate for the $30.00 price point or under.
Also I am providing the information on where to purchase them.
1.2015 Tenuta di Arceno Il Fauno Di Arcanum Toscana IGT – Italy, Tuscany, Toscana IGT (11/22/2019)
Day 1: Possible wine of the year for 3 Day Wine Review. Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot. Certainly QPR of the Year candidate. $21.99 at 1010 Washington Wine & Spirits. Iron, wood, cherry, blueberries, minerals, floral and coffee beans. Medium plus finish and good acidity. BALANCE!!! Wonderful wine with some aging potential. 93 points
Day 2: Nose is more intense featuring floral, blueberries, coffee beans, spice and wood. The palate is amazing featuring blueberries, cherry, spice, wood, dust, iron and coffee. Medium to long finish. What a great wine and first sampled this at the Hennepin Lake Charity Tasting. 94 points (94 points)
Where to buy? Haskell’s Bloomington of Saturday still had this for $21.99
Why buy? This is one of the few wines I don’t taste on day 3 since it is so good on days 1 and 2. Tasted multiple times. Many wine geeks around the country have commented how good this vintage is and back up the truck and get your hands on this now.
2. 2013 La Rioja Alta Rioja Viña Alberdi Reserva – Spain, La Rioja, La Rioja Alta, Rioja (11/25/2019)
Day 1: Wow funk, gravel, spice, raspberries, saddle wood and graphite. This is the best bottle to date and a show stopper. Medium to long finish. One of the top under $20 bottles of the year. 93 points
Day 2: Some dill emerging, wood, raspberries, funk, earth, stone and blueberries. This is an amazing effort and super long finish. Balance and perfection for the price point. This is just one small step below the quality of the Il Fauno for wines under $30. 93+ points
Day 3: Strong on the oak and spice. An odd aroma of roundup which blew off quickly, thank god. The fruit is not as prominent on day 3. Certanily not as good showing but still solid. 89 points
Recommendation: This wine is ready to drink now but you will get 10 years worth if you cellar it. (93 points)
Where to buy? Surdyk’s Holiday Sale $18.99
Why buy? La Rioja in my opinion is the best Bodega in Spain. Their price points over deliver.
3.2015 Buena Vista Chardonnay Carneros – USA, California, Napa / Sonoma, Carneros (11/16/2019)
Day 1: Wow! $9.97 at Costco. This is as good as Ramey Sonoma for one third the price. Apple, integrated oak, spice, floral and lemon. Medium, concentrated finish. Good acidity. This is an amazing effort and regret only buying six of these. Backing up for a case. 91 points
Day 2: Still rich and vibrant. Good acidity. Apple, pear, oak, vanilla, spice and floral notes. A complete package and should age for another 3 to 4 years. 90 points
Day 3: Lemon, oak, Carmel, spice and sour apple. Short to medium finish. Lost a little bit from day 1. 88 points
Recommendation: Over 3 days this did not hold up as well however still solid. Drink this wine over the next few years for maximum enjoyment. (91 points)
Where to buy? Costco Burnsville for $9.99. Might be at other Costco’s in the area so call ahead.
Why buy? It is as good as the following bigger names: Ramey Sonoma, Rombauer and Cakebread and a fraction of the price.
4.2014 Boedecker Cellars Pinot Noir Athena – USA, Oregon, Willamette Valley (3/30/2019)
Day 1: My friend Brian Bangs (RIP) was the one who introduced me to Boedecker as their distributor in MN. Great QPR. Wood, spices, Rose petals and smoked meats. Medium finish and good balance. Solid. 91 points
Day 2: Wood, strawberry, floral, spice, and smoked meats. Showing some weight today and moderate acidity. This would go really good with grilled meats. 90 points
Day 3: To quote Nature Boy Ric Flair, “Whoooooo!” This is one of the great transformation over 3 days of all time. Beautiful fruit featuring cherry and strawberry. Perfume, underbrush, rose petals, bacon and smoked meats. Concentrated much more on day 3. Medium plus finish and the only minor flaw is acidity which is above average. This is a long time ager. Wow!!! 94 points
Recommendation: If you bought four like me do the 3 day wine review on this one. You will be amazed. If you have one bottle drink after 2021. (94 points)
Where to buy? This would have been number 1 if you could get this locally and it is a wine that sells out of the winery above $30.00 hence the number 4 spot. Purchased at WTSO for $18.99.
Why buy? It is a great Pinot Noir that you can get with free shipping from WTSO.
5.2016 K Vintners Syrah The Deal Sundance Vineyard – USA, Washington, Columbia Valley, Wahluke Slope (10/24/2019)
Day 1: Pop and pour and will revisit day 1 a few times. First taste is wood! No score.
Day 1.15: Little air has helped a lot. Roasted meats, spice, volcanic ash, dried herbs, red berries and crushed rock. Medium to long finish. This wine needs some serious air. Score withheld.
Day 2: Showing some form. Black olives, stone, red currants, spice and floral notes. Much more complexity here and the offensive wood/oak quality on the pop and pour is gone. Medium to long finish and complex. This wine needs a serious decant if you are drinking on day 1. Should be a 4 day review for sure. 91 points
Day 3: This is really taking form with red currants, floral, stone, subtle spices, roasted meat and volcanic ash. Medium plus finish and concentrated. This wine rounded out into quite a nice value at $30. 92 points
Day 4: Great Syrah character. Roasted meats, white pepper, black olives, red currants and minerals. Medium plus finish. Holding strong. Long term ager based on this day 4 showing. 92 points.
Recommendation: This wine needs a serious decant to be enjoyed now. Cellar window easily drinking well into 2030. (92 points)
Where to buy? Costco Burnsville for $29.99 (just made it)
Why buy? This will improve with some cellar time. Drink after 2023 if you can wait that long!
6.2015 Bodega Norton Privada Mendoza – Argentina, Mendoza (9/27/2019)
Day 1: This wine got some really nice scores. Loved the 2013 and was a benchmark under $20 wine that was 93/94 for me on several bottles. $15.99 at Costco. Really nice nose featuring minerals, raspberries, blueberries, coffee bean and dust. On the palate there is a lot of nice fruit elements along with spice, coffee beans and cedar. Medium to long finish. This does not have the funk and complexity of the 2013 but for the price point is an excellent value. 91 points
Day 2: Solid but not as good. Spice, less intensity on the fruit profile and coffee beans. Based on this day 2 I would advise to pop and pour and consume on day 1. 87 points (91 points)
Where to buy? Costco in Burnsville. $15.99. This is not the 2013 which was my top wine under $20.00 last year.
Why buy? It is a crowd pleaser that will perform well at any party.
7.2016 Bodega Catena Zapata Malbec Paraje Altamira – Argentina, Mendoza (12/4/2019)
Day 1: Dust, blueberries, cherry, floral and minerals. Very enjoyable wine. Nice fruit but love the minerality on the finish. This exceeds the price point. Medium finish. 91 points
Day 2: Very good with a nice smoked meat quality along with blueberries, cherry, floral, minerals and dust. Medium plus finish. This is a crowd pleaser and for the price a hit at your next party. 91 points (91 points)
Where to buy? Sunfish Celllars $16.99
Why buy? This is a balanced, complex offering from Argentina. Drinks for twice the price.
7.2014 Two Hands Shiraz Angels Share – Australia, South Australia, Fleurieu, McLaren Vale (9/7/2019)
Day 2: Underbrush, minerals, tar, blueberries, spice and pepper. Medium finish. A bit harsh on this bottle. Not really as enjoyable as the other 2. 85 points
Day 3: Winner! This is why I do 3 Day Wine Reviews. While not all wines improve this one certainly did. The harshness has dissipated and now reveals a glorious floral quality on the nose and palate. Blueberries, plums, spice, minerals, tar and black pepper are prominent. Medium to long finish. Complex wine. 91 points
Recommendation: Let these sleep for 3 plus years. Drink 2022 to 2025. (91 points)
Where to buy? Surdyk’s Winter Sale $24.99
Why buy? This is top five producers of Aussie wines and one of the few that make a consistent Shiraz under $30.00.
8.NV Piper-Heidsieck Champagne Brut – France, Champagne (4/13/2019)
Candied fruit, lemon, chalk, spice and citrus fruits. Very clean wine overall and medium finish. Good acidity. A good NV batch.
Day 2: A bit better with lemon, spice, citrus and minerals. Crisp, clean wine. 91 points
My wife is not a fan so I took the rest and put one in a Pinot Stem and one in the traditional Champagne stem.
Champagne Stem: Nose is a bit more expressive. Citrus, lemon, lime, dough and spice. Medium plus finish and good acidity. Very nice. 92 points
Pinot Stem: Not nearly as expressive. Good but not as focused as the Champagne Stem. I am going to do more research on using the two but the traditional Champagne stem wins this round. 90 points (91 points)
Where to buy? Hennepin Lake $29.99. Best price!
Why buy? Best NV Champagne in the world for the money.
9.2018 Milbrandt Vineyards Rosé – USA, Washington, Columbia Valley (7/30/2019)
Day 1: Excellent again. Watermelon, strawberry, spice, stone and floral notes. Medium finish. Refreshing but good complexity. Highly recommended as this is better than most of the Rhône Roses I have tasted over the last few years.
Day 2: Better on day 2. Vibrant wine featuring dust, watermelon, spices, strawberry and stone. Medium plus finish. Outstanding. 90+
Recommendation: Get over to Big Top or Sid’s and see if any of these are left in the closeout bins for under $10. (90 points)
Where to buy? Various shops. This was a closeout at Big Top/ Sid’s but with my promotion of this wine it quickly sold out.
Why buy? One of the best Roses you will find for under $10.00.
10.2016 Petit Manou – France, Bordeaux, Médoc (9/24/2019)
Day 1: Popped open a new bottle after the first one was corked. Nice overall with cherry, raspberries, leather, spice and rose petals. Medium finish and good acidity.
Day 2: Chestnuts, raspberries, mild oak, leather, earth and gravel. More complex than day 1. Medium plus finish. Drink now to 2022. 90 points
Day 3: Holding form nicely. Chestnuts, oak, leather, gravel, earth and tobacco. Medium plus finish. More concentrated on day 3 and should age easily through 2022. 90 points
Recommendation: Buy on sale at Surdyk’s for $17.99 though October 13. (90 points)
Where to buy? Surdyk’s $22.99
Why buy? Solid Bordeaux Blend year in and year out. While not the $17.99 on sale still a good value.
2017 Pendulum Cabernet Sauvignon – USA, Washington, Columbia Valley (10/12/2019)
Day 1: Really nice wine featuring cherry, plum, menthol, chocolate and dust. Medium finish. This represents a tremendous value. 90 points
Day 2: Solid again with cherry, plum, spice, dust and earth. This is an under $20 wine that over deliveries. 90 points
Day 3: The true test on a less expensive bottle. Still winning! Great fruit profile, menthol, spice, dust and earth. Medium plus finish and decant acidity. 90 points
Recommendation: A must buy. Put this in a blind taste test against Caymus and Silver Oak. (90 points)
Where to buy? Hennepin Lake Liquors $15.55.
2013 Chateau Ste. Michelle Cabernet Sauvignon Cold Creek Vineyard – USA, Washington, Columbia Valley (4/19/2019)
Day 1: This has been a really solid wine and last bottle. Plum, sour cherry, earth, soy, minerals and pencil lead. The best bottle of this lot from Sid’s. Outstanding wine. 93 points
Day 2: Excellent again. Bell pepper, cherry, soy, earth, pencil lead and minerals. Medium plus finish and balanced. It is almost like they put a $60 plus bottle in this one. The best of the Cold Creeks from the vintage I have sampled. 93 points (93 points)
Where to buy? This wine is probably out of the vintage 13. Total Wine for $28.
Why this was not top 3? Variation in bottles. Some amazing as this one but some were high 80s.
2015 Airfield Estates Syrah Reserve – USA, Washington, Columbia Valley, Yakima Valley (6/18/2019)
Bought a bottle at the winery. Really good wine for $30. Blueberries, dust, gravel, boysenberries and plum. Really fruit forward wine with class. Medium to long finish. Drink now to 2024. 92-94 points.
Day 2: Showing we’ll with blueberries, cherry, gravel and plum. Picks up some nice spice elements and possess a long finish. A nice find. 92 plus. (92 points)
Where to buy? Winery only in Washington State.
2017 Stangeland Pinot Noir Eola Hills Cuvee – USA, Oregon, Willamette Valley, Eola – Amity Hills (10/31/2019)
Day 1: An old friend. Have not have a Stangeland in a while. WTSO deal. Very nice with soy, spice, violets, strawberries and minerals. Short to medium finish with good acidity. Solid wine for less than $20.
Day 2: A bit better with beef tips, earth, strawberries, spice and minerals. Very clean wine flavorful. This is young and needs time but the potential is there. 90 points
Day 3: Even better. Strawberry, violets, cherry, spice, minerals and cedar. Medium plus finish. The best day of the 3. 91 points
Recommendation: Buy this on WTSO. Stangeland is one of the most underrated Oregon Producers. (91 points)
Where to buy? WTSO