Category Archives: Stella

Fourteen Wines Under $20

Well-priced good wines can be found in all price ranges.  Here are some that I tried recently.

Alvarinho 2017 (Vinho Verde) Soalheiro Portugal 100% Alvarinho. Hand picked grapes from several small vineyards planted in granite soil at 100 to 400 meters located in the Melgaco region in the northern point of Portugal. After pressing and before fermentation, which is temperature controlled, the must is decanted during 48 hours at a low temperature.  I first had this wine in a restaurant in Lisbon. $11

Romeo & Juliet Passione Sentimento Bianco Veneto IGT 2017 (Veneto) Pasqua made from 100% Garganega and dried in the fruttaio (drying chamber) for 15 days. This results in the concentration of sugars and floral aromas. After crushing, maceration on the skins takes place for over 12 hours. Vinification is with selected yeasts and a portion of the wine is aged in new French oak barrels for a few months. The wine has hints of citrus fruit, peaches and a touch of almonds. It is an easy to drink wine. $16

Falanghina Beneventano 2015 DOC 100% Falanghina. Campania, Italy Donnachiara The vineyard is the Torre Cuso, the best location for Falanghina. The soil is volcanic, chalky clay, the vines are 16 years old, the training system is guyot and there are 2,500 vines per hectare. The grapes are not destemmed or crushed before pressing. Cold fermentation is in stainless steel and there is extended maceration. This is a crisp white wine with citrus fruit aromas and flavors, nice acidity and good minerality. This is one of my favorite white wines and I always have a bottle or two on hand. $17 . I first had this wine at the winery.

Lugana DOC “Mandolara” 2017 (Veneto) Le Morette made from 100% Turbiana grapes from the vineyard on a narrow strip of land on the shore of Lake Garda. The training system is guyot, double and short modified and there are 3,500 plants per hectare. Harvest is by hand in the second half of September. After a very soft crushing, vinification takes place in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks and the wine remains in the bottle for at least one month before release. This is a fresh fruity wine with hints of apple and peach and a touch of bitter almonds in the finish. The name of the wine comes from a particular protected species of wild ducks which nest in Lake Frassino.  The ducks are the symbol of the farm. $18

Bianco delle Regine 2016 (Umbria) Castello delle Regina made from 30% Chardonnay, 30% Sauvignon Blanc, 30% Riesling and 10% Pinot Grigio. Harvest takes place by hand in the middle of August. Each grape variety is vinified separately in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks of 50 to 75 HL. The wine does not undergo malolactic fermentation in order to preserve its freshness. This is an aromatic white wine with hints of citrus fruit with a touch of lime and good acidity. $15

Moscato Sicilia 2016 IGT (Salemi, Sicily)100% Moscato di Alexandria Stella. The vineyard is 25 acres and the training system is guyot. There are 1,600 vines vines/acre, and the elevation is 1,485 feet with a northern/southern exposure. The vines were planted in 2000 and the first vintage was in 2010. Harvest was in August. Fermentation is in stainless steel tanks for 12 days. Malolactic fermentation does not take place and the wine ages in stainless steel.  The alcohol level is 10%. This is a wine with hints of white peaches, tropical fruit and good acidity. $11

Nebbiolo 2014 Paso Robles (Califorina) Caparone 100% Nebbiolo macerated on the skins for 45 days, in completely enclosed stainless fermenters. It was light in color like Nebbiolo should be. The wine is unfiltered and unfined. In a blind tasting I might have said it was like a Nebbiolo from the north of Piedmont but in a much lighter style with more red fruit and less of the tar, tobacco and dried fruit character. This winery make wines that can last for years. Recently I had their 2002 Merlot which could last for another 20 years. $18

Montepulciano D’Abruzzo 2016 DOC None (Abruzzo, Italy) made from 100% Montepulciano D’Abruzzo Stella. The soil is sandy, the training system is Pergola/Arbor trained and the elevation is 900 feet. There are 1,000 vines per acre and the vines were planted in 1995. The first vintage was in 1998 and harvest takes place in September. Fermentation is in stainless tanks and the alcohol fermentation lasts for 7 days. Maceration technique is by pumpovers and it lasts for 5 days. Malolactic fermentation takes place and the wine ages 5 months before bottling and 4 months in bottle before release. The wine has hints of black cherries, strawberries and a touch of herbs. $11

Romeo & Juliet Passione Sentimento Rosso Veneto IGT 2016 (Veneto) Pasqua made from Corvina, Croatina and Merlot. The grapes are hand picked and a portion of the Corvina and Merlot are put into small crates in the fruttaio to dry until they lose 30% of their water content and gain high sugar content. This is then blended with the juice from the non-dried grapes and vinified in steel tanks. Following fermentation the grapes age in oak tonneaux for about 4 months and then aged in bottle before release. The wine has hints of cherry, plum and a touch of spice. $16 .

Negroamaro Del Salento IGP 2016 (Puglia) Varvaglione made from 100% Negroamaro  Vinification with temperature control maceration and malolactic fermentation. The wine is aged in large barrels (botti)  of French oak for at least 3 months. The wine has fresh fruit flavors and aromas with hints of cherry and spice $12


Pinot Nero Rolhut 2015 DOC (Alto Adige, Italy) Peter Zemmer The stems are immediately removed and the grapes are fermented at a constant temperature of 26 – 28° C (79 – 82° F) for about 7 days. The must is kept in contact with the skins through circulation pumping and gentle pressure from below.  After two gentle rackings, 70% of this Pinot Noir is aged over 12 months in large barrels of French oak, and the remainder is aged in small casks of French oak (barriques), which are 2 – 3 years old. After blending, 750 ml Bordeaux-style bottles are filled and the wine is aged an additional 6 months in the bottle before it goes on sale. This is a fruity wine with hints of red berries, cherries and a touch of blueberries. $18

Umbria Rosso IGT “Vascellarus”  2016 (Umbria) Argillae made from 85% Montepulciano, and 15 Cabernet Sauvignon. The training method is guyot and there are 3,333 vines per hectare. Harvest is by hand in October. The grapes are crushed and destemmed and there is a 25/30-day maceration period with frequent pumpovers on the skins, accompanied by several rack and return procedures. Alcoholic fermentation is in steel tanks at a controlled temperature and malolactic fermentation takes place in barriques. The wine is aged in French barriques with racking on a regular basis, depending on the need. The wine remains in the bottle for another 8/12 months before release. The wine has hints of ripe red fruit, spice, black pepper and vanilla notes. $18

Côtes-du-Rhone Samorëns Blanc 2015 (France) made from Clairette and Grenache. Ferraton Père & Fils The grapes are picked at the peak of ripeness and quickly chilled upon arrival at the winery via a chill tunnel. After pressing, the must is cold-settled for 48 hours. Vinification in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks where many lots will undergo malolactic fermentation. The wine is then blended and bottled without the use of oak. It has fresh citrus aromas and flavors with hints of white peach and good acidity. $15

Gaia Red Blend 2015 (Argentina) Domaine Bousquet made from 50% Malbec, 45% Syrah and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon. There is a manual harvest: for the Syrah the 2nd week of April, Malbec the 3rd week of April, and the Cabernet Sauvignon 4th week of April. There is a cold fermentation for 72 hours. Fermentation is with selected yeast at a maximum temperature of 27C for 12 days. Maceration is for 14 days and the wine is aged in used French barrels for 10 months. This is a fruity wine with aromas and flavors of black fruit with a hint if blueberries and a touch of spice.  Alcohol is 14%.  $19




January 14, 2019 · 2:29 am