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Wine Reviews: Bottles Under $30

For our latest wine panel, we asked panelists to taste and rate wines with a price tag under $30. These represent great quality at an affordable price.

As always, these selections include brief tasting notes, a rating and the wine’s retail price (which can vary from store to store and market to market). Unless noted otherwise, the price reflects a 750-ml. bottle.

Rating System

Five Stars (100-92): A top-flight wine, superior in taste and character, and providing a superior price/value ratio.

Four Stars (91-86): A very good wine and an excellent value. A wine for which customers will keep coming back.

Five Stars

(96) J. Lohr ‘Seven Oaks’ Cabernet Sauvignon 2019 (CA)

The tradition continues for one of our favorite “house” wines. Brenden Wood continues the rich tradition of Paso wines that overdeliver in value and quality. Bordeaux-style blending, great vineyard sourcing and a 12-month oak aging program yield spectacular results. Intense black fruit notes with subtle touches of dark chocolate and dark coffee lead to a smooth rich finish. ($14.99)

(96) Herdade do Rocim Mariana Rosé 2020 (Portugal)

From central southern Portugal, this blend of touriga nacional and aragonez (tempranillo) combines lovely fruit with good acidity, making this a great food wine, which can also be enjoyed on its own. A brilliant salmon pink, with lots and lots of clean, berry fruit on the nose and palate. A great value! ($14.50)

(96) Alexander Valley Vineyards Estate Chardonnay 2019 (CA)

Cool climate is the place for chardonnay, and the Alexander Valley is the place in Sonoma. Estate fruit combines with the best winemaking techniques —night harvesting, cold fermentation, judicious program for oak aging and malolactic fermentation. Add just a touch of viognier, and you wind up with a very balanced wine with great body. Classic aromas of vanilla and apple. Great value for the money and the perfect complement to summer cuisine. ($21.99)

(95) Alexander Valley Vineyards Homestead Red Blend 2019 (CA)

This delightful blend lets winemaker Kevin Hall play mad scientist with merlot, zin and cab given top billing, plus grenache, mourvedre and syrah for wonderful complexity. Each component is vinified separately with a 12-month oak barrel program, letting each shine. Lush, juicy blend with medium body and long finish. Overdelivers for the money. ($24.99)

(95) Bougrier Confidences Menetou-Salon (France)

Located next to the famed Loire appellation of Sancerre, this elegant sauvignon blanc offers aromas of lime, gooseberry and zippy acidity. Crisp and refreshing. ($24.99)

(95) Gotas de Mar Albariño 2020 (Spain)

From the northwest corner of Spain, this 100% albariño possesses plenty of clean stone fruit, with good weight and a bright, lingering finish. A killer combo with grilled fish; extraordinary with seafood paella. ($22)

(95) Guy Mousset Cotes du Rhone (France)

A delicious blend from Southern France, ripe with dried strawberry and herb notes. A classic that can’t be missed at this price. ($17.99)

(94) Masseria Li Veli Salento Verdeca 2020 (Italy)

A dazzling white from Puglia. Floral aromas blossom from the glass, showing hints of pear and orange rind. Medium weight on the palate with mouthwatering crushed pineapple, creamy white peach and lemon to seduce the palate. Long and generous on the refreshing finish. One of the finest Verdecas we have found. ($24.99)

(94) Invicta by Merus Red Blend Sonoma (CA)

Rich, elegant and structured, with bold fruit-forward flavors. Blackberry jam and black currant invigorate this blend from a hailed California producer. ($19.99)

(94) Chateau Camus Graves 2018 (France)

Inviting, earthy aromas fill the air with vanilla notes hiding in the corners. Plush black cherry, juicy plum and a kiss of black licorice keep expanding in the mouth before surrendering to a focused finish surrounded by silky tannins. Any self-respecting piece of red meat would be proud to share the table with this delightful bottle. ($25.99)

(94) Babylonstoren Simonsberg Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon 2020 (South Africa)

An enticing nose of freshly sanded wood with a background hint of eucalyptus. A medley of dark, ripe fruit builds layer upon layer, before finishing with generous depth and complexity. A shining example of the beautiful cabernets that can be produced in South Africa with such tremendous value. ($24.99)

(94) J. Lohr ‘Flume Crossing’ Sauvignon Blanc 2021 (CA)

Remember when you switch your favorite toothpaste and how it affects your taste buds with the change. We recently switched to this sauvignon blanc and were pleasantly surprised. What a delightful change from chardonnay to shake things up. Very balanced acidity and good body make this a springtime alternative. Kristen Barnhisel works her magic again with subtle citrus notes, and an herbaceous nose that leads to a long finish. ($13.99)

(94) Pighin Pinot Grigio 2019 (Italy)

Just to be clear, this is no ordinary pinot grigio. The Collio region of Italy, which shares a border with Slovenia, is home to some of the finest pinot grigio producers in the world. Pighin is no exception, as demonstrated by this superb wine. Pale yellow, the nose and palate are dominated by tropical fruit, with floral hints. Wonderfully versatile. ($23.99)

(94) Willamette Valley Vineyards Whole Cluster Rosé of Pinot Noir 2021 (OR)

A completely satisfying rosé from start to finish. Rich and layered fruit are complemented with a savory mouthfeel and rounded out with beautiful acidity. A must-have for your summer menu. ($19)

(93) Inama Foscarino Soave Classico 2019 (Italy)

Not too far from Verona, the Soave Classico is renown for its white wines. This single cru Soave Classico ticks off all of the great wine boxes. Brilliant straw in the glass, with notes of tree fruit with floral notes. A lovely, delicious wine. ($24)

(93) Alexander Valley Vineyards Estate Syrah 2019 (CA)

Syrah, sirah, or shiraz: does it really matter? Kevin Hall’s interpretation leans more towards the French version, with syrah tempered with just a kiss of viognier. Beautiful notes of plums and blackberry, matured in an 18-month oak program yields a rich, chewy finish with hints of vanilla and white pepper. This is our new favorite for springtime grilling. ($27.99)

(93) Domaine La Combelle Apremont Savoie Jacquere 2018 (France)

This is a zesty little white wine that packs a punch. Dry, limey and very much ‘alive.’ Great mix of rock with acidity. Notes of dried pineapple, and pink grapefruit. Long clean, crisp finish. ($15.99)

(93) Casale Marchese Frascati Superiore 2020 (Italy)

Floral and fresh on the nose, crisp and slightly honeyed on the palate, showing its stainless-steel aging. Notes of Granny Smith apple, and volcanic soil. Long, lingering, mouthwatering finish. ($13.49)

(93) Carson Ridge Red Blend Paso (CA)

An intense medium-bodied red blend with ripe cherry and notes of oak and black pepper. Velvety smooth with tannic qualities that would please anyone. ($12.99)

(93) Macchia Zinfandel Mischievous Lodi (CA)

Full and rich with flavors of raspberry, rose petal, sage and soft but smoky tobacco. Silky, rich and smooth mouthfeel that makes this wine a definite people pleaser. ($26.99)

(93) Appassimento Salento Bonari (Italy)

A full-bodied and spicy red with notes of red fruits like raspberry and baked cherries. This wine finishes with a nice tannic structure with notes of smoke and tobacco. ($14.99)

(93) Val do Sosego Albarino (Spain)

Deliciously bright and crisp. Orange peel and tart melon dominate this racy and fun white from Rias Baixas. Great for summer days and nights! ($22.99)

(93) Hidalgo La Gitana Manzanilla (Spain)

Manzanilla-style sherry is one of the world’s great aperitif wines. Bright and clean, it primes the taste buds, with its acidity and focused flavors. This style is desert dry, with focus and character. Great with appetizers, nuts, spring rolls, you name it. Easy to see why this is one of the planet’s most popular examples. A classic Manzanilla. ($16)

(92) Bodegas Granbazan Etiqueta Verde 2020 (Spain)

Salty aromas intertwined with citrus notes make you dream of the beach right from the start. Layers of ripe tropical fruit fill the mouth. The beautiful crisp finish shows an ocean breeze hint of saline. A gorgeous wine that begs to be paired with shellfish and salads. ($25.99)

(92) Stoller Family Estate Dundee Hills Pinot Noir (OR)

Bright cherry notes are rounded off with elegant acidity and light plum flavors. Balance and beauty are the simplest way to describe this wine. ($26)

(92) Dubourdieu Pure Cadillac Cotes de Bordeaux (France)

This full-bodied red doesn’t play around. It has bold spicy red fruits, plum and bold tannin that make this an elegant and rich wine for the price. ($19.99)

(92) Domaine de Bendel Rosé (France)

Lively and fun. This rosé has a plethora of wild strawberry red currant notes with a fresh and fruity finish. Perfect for summer nights on the patio or pairing with an elegant meal. ($22.99)

(92) Radius Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve (WA)

An easy-drinking and rich wine from the Columbia Valley. The nose is full of black cherry and cedar, while refreshing blackberry and baking spices round out the palate. Notes of oak and cedar on the finish. ($19.99)

(92) Post Summit Arroyo Seco Monterey Chardonnay 2019 (CA)

This is a California chardonnay that has weight and with a touch of crispness. Delicate oak on this makes you want to have another glass. Notes of apple and buttered toast. Pleasant lingering finish. ($18.99)

(92) Esprit Gassier Rosé Cotes de Provence 2020 (France)

Grenache, cinsault, syrah and a bit of rolle blend seamlessly to create a bright rosé wine full of fresh and ripe strawberries, with a hint of peach and citrus. Round and pretty, it’s perfect for a picnic with fried chicken. ($24.95)

Four Stars

(91) Daou ‘Paso Robles’ Cabernet 2020 (CA)

Another well-made wine from one of California’s most underrated wine regions. Classic rich Paso mouthfeel, loads of upfront dark currant and wild blueberry on the nose, followed by firm blackberry and plum flavors and a nice finish of violet and cocoa. Great value. ($19.99)

(91) 90+ Cellars Pinot Noir 2019 (CA)

Black cherry, spice and a touch of cola. A very energetic pinot and a wonderful value ($13.99)

(91) Inizi Winery Dry Creek Valley Tocai Friulano 2019 (CA)

Super fragrant dry white wine, light to medium body, with a honeyed mid-palate that finishes with just a touch of lime zest. Pleasant, mouth-watering acidity. ($28)

(91) Daou Paso Robles Chardonnay 2020 (CA)

Light tropical fruit and subtle butter notes are married together for a delightful chardonnay experience. The beauty of this wine is its ability to be completely satisfying while not being heavy handed. ($21)

(91) Celdina Albariño (Spain)

Refreshing with aromas of citrus blossom, grapefruit and peach. This wine is aromatic and crisp with delectable acidity. ($19.99)

(91) Chateau Champs des Sables Montagne St.-Emilion (France)

Aromas of cocoa, black currant and licorice give way to a densely structured and smoothly tannic wine. ($19.99)

(90) Mousset Tendance Sauvignon Blanc (France)

This gorgeous white is full of fragrant apple and citrus blossom, lime zest and green melon aromas. Crisp and delightful. An easy-to-drink choice with or without food. ($16.99)

(90) Xanadu Cabernet Sauvignon (Australia)

Nice packaging just adds to this full-bodied cab. Lots of blackberries, dark chocolate and cassis, with fine tannins and a long, lingering finish. Sip it with cheddar or meat. ($29.99)

(90) Las Brisas Verdejo Rueda (Spain)

Rueda produces the best Verdejo in Spain and this wine is no exception. Very complex nose and palate filled with pear, lime, grapefruit and balanced with good acid and just a touch of peachy sweetness. Your spring/summer pour for hot and spicy foods. ($16.95)

(90) L’Auratae Nero d’Avola (Italy)

Silky smooth with notes of raspberry, black plum and pepper. More on the heavier bodied side, with a zippy acidity that makes it feel refreshing. ($10.99)

(89) Klean Cabernet Sauvignon (CA)

Flavors of blackberry and Bing cherry are met with smooth tannins. At only 85 calories, the flavors and body that it offers are impressive. ($14.99)

(89) NeroOro Appassimeto Nero d’Avola (Italy)

This is a fresh, medium-bodied wine from Sicily with notes of cherry, plum and blackberry. Easy drinking with some complexity. ($9.99)

If you’re a beverage professional with a specialty in wine and you’re interested in participating in the panel, please contact Kyle Swartz at kswartz@epgmediallc.com or 763-383-4447.

Want more reviews? Our recent wine panels have included:

Summer SippersOld World Wines for 2022Our Overall Favorites in 2021Favorite Sparklers of 2021Our Favorite Americans for 2021

Feature photo by Amy Chen on Unsplash.

The post Wine Reviews: Bottles Under $30 first appeared on Cheers.

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