Top 10 Red Blends Under $20

Pick up these value blends today


I began today ostensibly writing about Meritage wines and Bordeaux, but then the truth interfered. The truth is, Meritage wines, and some of Bordeaux can't really be distinguished today from many other more 'inventive' blends that are creeping into the marketplace. While some blends remain dominated by say, Cabernet Sauvignon, with a little Barbera or Syrah thrown in for some spice and brightness, where can one draw a line between these wines?

The truth is one can't, and one shouldn't. Today's line-up consists of blends $20 and under, not exactly the hotbed of terroir driven wines, which can be an issue with blends to begin with, so what I'm looking for here is enjoyability. What else can one expect from an inexpensive blend? A whole greater than the sum of its parts.

Blended wines are in some ways a relic of the past, when farmers grew a variety of grapes to be sure to have a crop regardless of the vagaries of the vintage. In recent years, they have become a bit of a last ditch catch-all for many wines, which in and of itself isn't a bad thing. Some great juice, Syrah and Barbera for example, has certainly gone to plump up some less than perfectly ripe Cabernet, resulting in a perfectly decent glass of wine at an affordable price. However, don't expect fireworks and varietal perfection. Sometimes one just has to be satisfied with what one has, because you can't always get what you need.

Red Wine image via Shutterstock

2010 Pendulum Red Wine Columbia Valley 13.3% $16

Sweet and brambly on the nose with scents of wild blackberries, fresh herbs, twizzlers and some spiced cranberry jelly. Focused, taut and vibrant in the mouth, this has lovely freshening acidity and pliant tannins that support rich, fresh and lively red currant and slightly jammy strawberry fruit in the mouth. The fruit shows good transparency, picking up herbal nuances, chocolate, and soft red cherry fruit on the back end before returning a rather vivid red currant-and-herb-laced finish that reveals a finely judged underlay of raw oak on the long, succulent finish. Dry, fresh, delicious and an excellent value. 89pts Find it Here

Acid: Medium
Tannin: Medium - Low
Perceived Sweetness: Low
Oak: Medium - Low
Spicy flavors: Medium - Low
Savory Flavors: Medium
Fruity Flavors: Medium - High
Intensity of Flavors: Medium - High
Mouthfeel: Medium

2010 Kuyen Valle del Maipo Chile 14.5% $12

57% Syrah, 28% Cabernet Sauvignon, 13% Carmenere, 2% Petit Verdot

Hugely intense aromas jump from the glass, full of exotic fruits like mango, guava, pomegranate and mulberry all held together with a thread of herbal spice.  On entry this is tighter and less fleshy than one might expect from the nose, with a really attractive core of violet tinged black plum and mulberry fruit. This lacks the exoticism found on the nose but shows really fine balance with fine grained tannins and integrated acidity supporting the fresh fruit that is underlain with soft earthy and herbal nuances. The finish throws a bit of chocolate and cedar into the mix, and shows fairly good length. This is lovely, easy to drink yet both subtle and complex. 88pts Find it Here

Acid: Medium - Low
Tannin: Medium - Low
Perceived Sweetness: Low
Oak:  Low
Spicy flavors: Low
Savory Flavors: Medium - Low
Fruity Flavors: Medium
Intensity of Flavors: Medium
Mouthfeel: Medium - Low

2007 Kamiak Rock Lake Red Columbia Valley 13.9% $13

Unspecified percentages of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah.

Funky on the nose with plenty of hints of truffle, game, and pencil eraser over plummy, dried berry, black cherry and herb laced fruit. A bit plump on entry, but with plenty of acidity to keep this focused in the mouth. There's plenty of truffle and black currant fruit right on entry, then it lightens up a bit and reveals a bit more detail with raspberry and cranberry flavors emerging along with a gamy, beefy edge on the back end. The fruit is clear and persistent on the finish which still shows some tannin and a hint of peppery spice but leaves the palate refreshed, if a touch hot. This is an excellent value. 88pts Find it Here

Acid: Medium
Tannin: Medium - Low
Perceived Sweetness: Low
Oak:  Low
Spicy flavors: Low
Savory Flavors: Medium - Low
Fruity Flavors: Medium
Intensity of Flavors: Medium - High
Mouthfeel: Medium

2009 Duck Pond Red Blend Wahluke Slope, Columbia Valley, WA 14.5% $15

A blend of unspecified percentages of Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon and Barbera.

Fairly oak at first sniff but lurking under the veneer of wood lies some attractive herbal notes and spicy, fresh black fruits. Bright and rather taut on entry with lovely black plum skin fruit that plays off the nuanced oak spice of the palate. Blackberries and black currants join in on the midpalate with some dusty cinnamon notes, and a feathery edge of dried herbs all lead to a moderately long, lightly spicy and freshly fruited finish that shows a touch of heat. A bit unusual but a lovely combination of fruit and strictness in the mouth. 88pts Find it Here

Acid: Medium - Low
Tannin: Medium - Low
Perceived Sweetness: Low
Oak: Low
Spicy flavors: Medium
Savory Flavors: Medium - Low
Fruity Flavors: Medium - High
Intensity of Flavors: Medium
Mouthfeel: Medium

2009 Lock & Key Meritage North Coast 13.9% $15

An unspecified blend

Fairly complex on the nose with macerated herb notes embedded in sweet cherry fruit all wrapped up in tree bark, old wood and medicinal notes. Fairly nice on entry, this exhibits a nice balance between the structural component and richness of fruit and manages that richness without becoming sticky or heavy, or even overly fruity for that matter. There's a nice wash of lightly brambly fruit on entry, then balanced notes of currants, black cherry, vanilla and nutty oak compete for attention. The finish is much the same if perhaps a bit sweeter with that sweetness balanced by some bitterness from the wood tannins. Not showy, this is modestly complex and feels fresh and clean on the palate. The hint of bitterness on the finish is attractive to me, though it may be off-putting to some. 87pts Find it Here

Acid: Medium - Low
Tannin: Medium - Low
Perceived Sweetness: Medium - Low
Oak: Medium - Low
Spicy flavors: Low
Savory Flavors: Medium
Fruity Flavors: Medium
Intensity of Flavors: Medium
Mouthfeel: Medium

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Comments

  • Snooth User: Mark Suss
    951226 137

    Interesting how Washington represents here. They do very nice blends at great prices. I've become a big fan.

    Jan 08, 2013 at 4:11 PM


  • would love to learn everything I can in regards to wine

    Jan 10, 2013 at 8:37 PM


  • Snooth User: Gregory Dal Piaz
    Hand of Snooth Voice of Snooth
    89065 198,875

    Washington is doing some greet work these days, too bad many of the wines are not widely distributed.

    MrWinelover, there's a lot of great resources here on Snooth, and keep trying wines, it's the best way to learn!

    Jan 10, 2013 at 8:59 PM


  • You might want to try Bogle Phantom at $ 15.99 in Cherry Hill, NJ. It's a blend of Old vine zin, old vine mourvedre and petite syrah. Their petite S and Old vine zin are standalone winners around $ 8 and embarrassingly low priced for the quality delivered.
    Sedrick

    Jan 14, 2013 at 9:05 PM


  • Snooth User: steve666
    392767 152

    Coppola Rosso is a blend that varies contents each year, they used to publish what is in it, but they no longer do. It is rather raw, but with 3 yrs of aging, it becomes a lovely Italianesque wine, but with more body.

    Mar 15, 2013 at 4:24 AM


  • You might want to try Bogle Phantom at $ 15.99 in Cherry Hill, NJ. It's a blend of Old vine zin, old vine mourvedre and petite syrah

    Aug 30, 2013 at 3:03 AM


  • fantastic

    Aug 31, 2013 at 5:08 AM


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