Wine Talk

Snooth User: AdrianSmith

Your fave Cab under $20?!

Original post by AdrianSmith, Sep 19, 2014.

Whats your favorite penny saving cab and WHY?!  :)

To make it easier, feel free to follow this format!

Name: Belle Ambience
Price (roughly): $9
Why: Deep fruity notes of red berries, cherries and  a little vanilla dolce at the end. A perfect way to wind down and relax in the evening after a long hard day at work.


Reply by dmcker, Oct 4, 2014.

Only two dozen, DV, or are you thinking 'a couple' in its loose usage that can maybe stretch to four? I've had up to two dozen of those labels but most before Gallo bought them. Edna Valley, like Louis Martini (though without Martini's history of commitment), was a lot more interesting in the '80s and '90s when Chalone started and ran it. But Chalone was a lot more interesting then, too. Yet another conglomerate buyout horror story, compounded by the airplane-crash death of its founder and visionary--bean counters then moved in to cash out. The only purely Gallo wine I ever truly liked was their 'Hearty Burgundy' in my college days. After my first paycheck I then quickly graduated to better zin field blends from Draper & co.

Some people attribute Orson Welles' classic TV ad series on their commitment to 'sell no wine before its time' to Gallo. Actually it was another old label, Paul Masson. Like Christian Brothers, after multiple ownership changes, if you see them at all nowadays you only see them for brandy and the like. My mom used to like their 'chablis'.

Reply by Really Big Al, Oct 4, 2014.

WD - I have not yet tasted a decent Cabernet Sauvignon from Chile, Argentina or Australia.  Now I haven't paid top dollar for cabs from those locations either, but I'll stick to Malbec if I want a red from Chile or Argentina; I think I would go for a Merlot or Shiraz if I want a red wine from Australia. 

Reply by dvogler, Oct 4, 2014.

Okay, perhaps I should systematically give a drink or no-drink!

There was a company in Canada called Vincor that bought a lot of wineries and it was more mediocre than great.  Vincor was then bought by Constellation in 2012.  I try to support independent wineries in BC, like OT does in California.  I get that Gallo has some okay stuff under their umbrella, as does Constellation.  I don't drink enough to have to compromise my support of the smaller guys.

Reply by dmcker, Oct 4, 2014.

Al, plenty of good cabs from Oz--far more than from Chile and Argentina and all US states besides CA and WA combined. ;-)


DV, looking forward to your thumbs up/thumbs down rating of OT's list!

Reply by GregT, Oct 4, 2014.

The only purely Gallo wine I ever truly liked was their 'Hearty Burgundy' in my college days.

And they used some really good grapes for that once in a while. Grapes that now go to high-end wine. Farmed differently of course, but that was a pretty good effort actually. First wine I ever drank too, other than what my parents would have - usually Riesling.

Big Al - interesting choices. I don't know where you're shopping but in most places, if you're looking for Malbec from Chile, good luck! Can't think of too many off the top. That's probably because a few years ago, when I had more interest in such things, there were around 34,000 hectares of Malbec in Argentina, somewhat less than 6000 left in France, and around 1000 in Chile. Of course that would still be twice as much as there is in South Africa. But if you consider that not all of it is exported, and of that, not all of it would be exported to the US, it helps explain why it's not so easy to find Malbec from Chile. They do make it though.

As far as Merlot from Australia, at the $20 range, over the years I've found maybe two or three decent bottles at best, and one of those isn't made any more. It's probably the last thing I'd look for from Australia. As compared to Malbec however, Merlot is actually something Chile does well and it's fairly easy to find.


Reply by EMark, Oct 4, 2014.

I don't know that I have a "favorite" <$20 CS, but as an exercise I visited the Total Wines web site and qureied for California Cabernet Sauvignons.  They have 277 entries for less than $20.   Among this group, I would have no problem enjoying:

  • Newton Claret
  • Courtney Benham Napa
  • Merryvale Starmont
  • Folie a Deux Alexander
  • Sterling Napa
  • Chateau St. Jean Sonoma
  • Valley of the Moon
  • Mondavi Napa
  • BV Napa
  • Simi Alexander
  • Alexander Valley
  • Clos du Val
  • Benziger Sonoma
  • St. Francis Claret
  • Joel Gott
  • Angeline
  • Lyeth Red Meritage

If I buy six bottles (mixed is OK) and get the 10% discount, then these would come in under $20 and I would be very OK with them:

  • Girard
  • Schug Sonoma
  • Buehler Napa
  • Martini Napa

I picked the above because, while I probably don't have any experience with their current offering, experience with previous wines would give me confidence.  There are many others with which I have no reference point, but, heck, for under $20, I might put in my basket.

Sadly, Snooth has pushed me into a higher bracket.  The last <$20 cab that I bought was at Wine Club in Santa Ana 4 or 5 months ago--VIlla Andretti for $11.  The clerk suggested it, and he was right. For $11 it was perfectly fine.

DM, the Chappellet that you mentioned is now called their Cervantes Cuvee (or something like that).  It is available in the mid $30s.


Reply by AdrianSmith, Oct 5, 2014.

Hello everyone, 

To those who put forward their wines, thanks so much I really appreciate it! :) 

Looks like the conversation took a little twist onto Gallo, hehe, but if anyone else has any more Cabs for <$20 mark that they would like to recommend i'd be very interested to hear. 

EMARK, thanks so much for going out of your way to produce that list, that was really kind of you. 

Hope you've all had a wonderful weekend!

Reply by dvogler, Oct 5, 2014.

Since DM wanted my list, I will indulge him to a point.  I will be honest and say I've certainly not tried almost any of the wine (or makers) on the Gallo list, but my intuitions are proving correct.  Before I'm judged, think of it this way, would you pay to see John Tesh in concert?  I wouldn't pay to drink most of the stuff on that list.  Ballatore Gran Spumante ($6.99 at BevMo) mmmmm I can taste it now!  Carlo Rossi...I'm not even going there.  Barefoot? Okay, I just re-read OT's post and he said, "they produce a lot of pedestrian wine..."

I'd say he and I would probably drink the few things on that list drinkable.  The Alamos stuff, Martini of course, Mirassou, Frei....

I can't afford to drink $35 wine during the week, so I typically drink water.  I won't buy mediocre wine.

Reply by GregT, Oct 5, 2014.

"think of it this way, would you pay to see John Tesh in concert?"


Reply by dmcker, Oct 5, 2014.

DV, not even if he got Yanni to make a guest appearance?

Greg, where do you get those scary giffish emoticonish whatever-they-ares?

Reply by GregT, Oct 5, 2014.

Hey, the guy is laughing! He just killed his daily bottles of -

What's the word?


Of course, this was a thread about Cabs but hey, if you're interested in broadening your horizons, you might want to try some of these:

Reply by dvogler, Oct 5, 2014.


I might consider going to see Lord of The Dance performed to Yanni, with Thomas Kinkade painting in the background and drinking Apothic, but only if Expatdeli pays for my ticket.

Reply by dmcker, Oct 5, 2014.

Greg, the Gallo corporate-branding Youtube was even more painful than your three-toothed gif!  Gallo and its 'varietal wines,' "among the most respected in America... and the world...bringing out the best wine can be"???  And you really need to understand British humor to parse the significance of James Mason's talking about Thunderbird being 'interesting' and having an 'unusual flavor'!

DV, you do realize that Yanni was who gave Tesh his first start, don't you? Apportion blame where you need to.  ;-)


Going back to ISC and CB wine days, even before Korbel made an impact on the consumer consciousness there was always Andre (although I think of them more for their 'Cold Duck.'). This was after Thunderbird was long established and Ripple was making its appearance and before Night Train. ;-(


AS, will get back to you with an expanded list when I have a spare moment. A big chunk will not be CA (or Gallo) wines....



Reply by dvogler, Oct 6, 2014.


I did know that because CBS Sports used to broadcast the Tour de France in the late eighties with a soundtrack of Yanni and John Tesh.  I found out when I lived in Redding Ca., that they were actually friends.  At that time I also got into Ray Lynch (Deep Breakfast) and other New Age gems.  I didn't, however, drink crappy wine!

Reply by dmcker, Oct 6, 2014.

Yeah, during a particularly weak period I used to swap in Andreas Vollenweider CDs during my commute drive 20+ years ago. Not infrequently to passenger graons. After too much of that I quickly had to swap them out for a John Lee Hooker fix...

Reply by dvogler, Oct 6, 2014.


Thanks for those links.  Hilarious.  I picture James Mason turning his head and spitting after the camera stopped.  I have the Vangelis album that the song in the Gallo commercial had while it said they were among the most respected in the world.

Here's one from Canada. An Andrew Peller wine.

Reply by GregT, Oct 7, 2014.

I'm sure James Mason was laughing like hell. His commercial was pure parody. Hilarious stuff.

DV - I like your link. Cold Duck. Forgot about that stuff. But the girl was hot!

However, did you check this guy who was on the list with the video you linked? He's making wine for $4.50 a bottle. Along about the 8 minute mark he explains why he doesn't like to use condoms in his winemaking. It's the latex flavors. And he's Canadian too, so you get to feel a little homeboy pride.

Reply by dvogler, Oct 7, 2014.

Jesus wept.

Thanks Greg...this will be the beginning of endless Canadian jokes.  The first I'll point out, is that you can go to a You-Brew place and make wine for cheaper than what this dummy is paying for the Welch's.

Reply by Richard Foxall, Oct 8, 2014.

Vangelis was good before Gallo got to him.  Just like they ruined all those wine brands.  But I can name a half dozen of his songs I'd still listen to.

(Y'know, tongue in cheek...)

My daughter is in a band that plays for a circus.  They are playing the "Chariots of Fire" theme, as well as Survivor's "Eye of the Tiger." I'm wearing headphones around the house a lot these days. Albedo 0.39 is okay, though.  (Don't make me use another GIF!)

Latex free condoms are available, and much cheaper than an airlock. Plus after you get your date relaxed with a little barrel tasting (well, it really never left the bottle, but you know what I mean), there's another use for the "air lock," if you get my drift.  If you want old-school, natural winemaking, Lamb and syrah are also a traditional pairing.  And maybe it's not the eucalyptus trees that give Heitz Martha's Vineyard that minty flavor. I wonder if the May family knew what Martha was up to? 

Y'know, if 3M had been around making Scotch tape, Jaqueson would not have had to add those wire cages to Champagne. 

Now that's what I call thread drift!


Reply by dvogler, Oct 8, 2014.

Hahahaha Fox,

Have you been drinking already!  I would be in your basement carefully checking your wine inventory as a good escape from hackneyed eighties soundtrack gems.  At least your daughter has talent!

My favourite Vangelis album is the soundtrack from BladeRunner.

When's that renovation set to begin?

Continue to the end of the thread to reply
Back to Categories

Popular Topics

  • posts

Top Contributors This Month

259386 Snooth User: zufrieden
39 posts
1413489 Snooth User: dvogler
26 posts
357808 Snooth User: vin0vin0
8 posts


View All

Snooth Media Network