Laughing Magpie

4 Awesome Wines under $20

The down-turn in the economy has provided me with some amazing opportunities to try high-end wines.  The metro-Phoenix area has been hit very hard by the recession.  A lot of grocery stores and warehouse stores have reduced their high-end wine inventories, slashed prices, and replaced the floor space with things that people might buy more of in a recession.  Things like bread and vegetables, instead of second-growth Bordeaux.

As a result I have been able to pick up some of these $50-$100 wines for about half price, and I have been reviewing and enjoying them.  It occurred to me last week that not everyone can get their hands on these mark-downs. I decided to balance out my reviewing with some great under $20 bargains.

So, just in time for the Christmas season, here are some awesome wines under $20

#1:

Cameron Hughes, Lot 140, 2007, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chalk Hill, Sonoma County.  $13.99 at select Costco’s.

On the nose: Raspberry,  Bing cherry and Anise.

On the Palate: Cocoa and a hint of mint

See my review of it full review of it here .

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#2:

Next up is d’Arenberg’s “Laughing Magpie”

one the nose: floral notes with cranberry and cherries

on the palate:  Ripe and juicy, velvety mouth-feel

full review here

$18.99 at Costco

#3:

And thirdly, just to switch things up a little bit (I have been reviewing mostly reds)  it’s a Sauvignon Blanc from Titus Vineyards:

Deliciously smooth with ripe fruit and well balanced acidity, more on this wine here.

It’s $20 on their website and most wineries websites are a little higher than the average retail, so you could probably find it cheaper than $20 at a retail outlet.  But you’ll have to be quick about it, there were only 380 cases made!

#4:

And last but not least:  Chalone Vineyard Monterey Cabernet, 2007

$16.99 retail, although with coupons and discounts I ended up paying about $7.56 a bottle

13.5% alcohol, vanilla oak, well balanced oak and fruit, see full review here

d’Arenberg “Laughing Magpie” Shiraz-Viognier, 2007

I have been drinking the “Laughing Magpie” for  years now.  It is one of my all-time favorites.  It is consistently great.

2004: 92 points, 2005 93 points, 2006: 92 points, 2007: 92 points.

The 2007 vintage is 90% Shiraz, 10% Viognier.   I usually pair this wine with a rich meaty tomato based pasta dish (I will post my recipe later) and topped with aged Parmesan Reggiano.  A side of steaming warm buttered garlic bread is nice too.  Anyone that knows me knows that anytime I am cooking a big pasta meal for my family or friends I always have Laughing Magpie on hand.

Why do I like it?  It is dark and rich.  I like the ripe and juicy texture in my mouth.  I like the tart cranberry juice mixed with blackcurrants and even a hint of apricot.  The tannins are like black tea and there is a white pepper finish.

$18.99 at Costco (I bought a dozen when it when it was on – for $12.97 a bottle!)

The Laughing Magpie is so versatile that it even pairs well with my favorite dessert, cheesecake.