My top 7 affordable wines in 2020

Happy December! Hanukkah began last night, Christmas is just two weeks from today, and a Covid-19 vaccine appears to be at the door as 2020 slouches toward its end. Let’s have a glass of wine!

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I’m pretty sure that most of you join me in wishing a quick end to this strange and alarming year and share my hope that 2021 will see the world, and all of us, on an upward path. That’s my wish for the holidays, and I invite you to join me in it.

As I look forward to holiday wining and dining, I read back over my tasting reports for the year and came up with seven of my favorites. I’m sharing them with you today as a sort of nostalgic virtual tasting.

If you should be interested in looking for any of them, each report includes links to that wine’s record at, where you can find vendors in your area or wine shops that will ship to you. (For the record, clicks on Wine-Searcher links also return us a tiny commission that will go toward helping us pay the rent for this publication into 2021 and beyond. Thanks!)

Enjoying wine together.

Enjoying wine together.

Before we jump to the wines, a few quick thoughts about my wine preferences and how they shape my approach to wine reviews: First, I don’t solicit free samples but buy the wines I review at retail, the same as you do. This obviously limits my ability to feature triple-digit bottles (or even upper double-digit goodies). Rather than joining the chase for sought-after wines that you’ll find widely reviewed elsewhere, I’ve chosen to highlight wines that stand out for quality and flavor in the more affordable range. Nowadays that’s typically $12 to $20, although I’ll occasionally jump into the $20-$30 neighborhood for special occasions.

For my tastes, the quest for wines at those prices that are not merely good but interesting almost invariably leads me to Europe, and this year’s seven favorites reflect that: You’ll find five French wines reviewed below and two Italian wines; four reds, one white, and two rosés; one of those pink wines was a sparkler. One of the wines cost a bargain $12.99; three of them bumped the upper limit of the range at $19.99.

Happy holidays! If you try any of these wines, or have tried them already, I hope you’ll let me know what you think.

Bonpas 2018 Grande Réserve des Challières Ventoux ($12.99)

Bonpas Grande Réserve des Challiéres Ventoux
Startlingly good for the price, this red Ventoux wine is made from typical Southern Rhône grapes: Syrah and Grenache show themselves clearly in bright red-berry and plum fruit, fragrant black pepper, and a subtle hint of bacon on the nose and palate, with pepper and intriguing stony minerality on the palate. Mourvèdre and Carignan are also in the blend. Good acidic balance makes it a fine companion with food, and palatable but distinct tannic astringency in the finish suggests at least moderate aging potential. It’s probably above midway in the label’s 11-14% range, but it’s not hot nor harsh. This wine may not be easy to find, but grab it if you can.

Check prices and find vendors for Bonpas Grande Réserve des Challières Ventoux on

If the Ventoux Grande Réserve de Challieres is hard to find, check Wine’Searcher for the similar Côtes du Rhône Réserve de Bonpas.

Follow this Wine-Searcher link to find listings for dozens of other wines from Ventoux.

Gérard Bertrand 2017 Crémant de Limoux “Cuvée Thomas Jefferson” Brut Rosé ($19.99)

Thomas Jefferson Cremant de Limoux
Something about a French sparkling wine named in honor of the third, French-loving American president seemed just right to me, and the proof of the bottle was in the tasting: This good, pink-shaded, Pinot Noir-laced sparkler from Limoux in the French Pyrenees hit the spot, and it’s just as good for a quiet evening at home as it is for a celebration.

Check prices and find vendors for Gérard Bertrand Crémant de Limoux “Cuvée Thomas Jefferson” Brut Rosé on

Follow this Wine-Searcher link to read more about Crémant de Limoux and browse listings for dozens of other sparkling wines from the region.

Cantina del Taburno 2018 Falanghina del Sannio ($16.99)

Falanghina del Sannio
This 100% Falanghina comes from the Benevenuto area in the Falanghina del Taburno wine region on the slopes of Mount Taburno northeast of Naples in Southern Italy. It offers a good represenation of the Falanghina grape with its clear golden color and pleasant, forward aromas of ripe pears with a back note of pineapple. Its mouth-filling flavor follows the nose with luscious ripe fruit.

Check prices and find vendors for Cantina del Taburno Falanghina del Taburno on

Follow this Wine-Searcher link to learn more about Falanghina del Taburno and browse listings for dozens of other wines from the region with prices and vendors.

This Wine-Searcher link provides more information and listings about Falanghina in general.

Domaine Célene & Frédéric Gueguen 2019 Bourgogne Rosé ($16.99)

Domaine Gueguen Bourgogne Rosé
This pale, bright copper rosé blends intriguing aromas of watermelon and red berries with subtle wildflowers and a hint of almonds. On the palate it’s dry and crisp, with gentle but perceptible acidity to give it structure. Red-berry fruit follows the nose, with intriguing rainwater-over-stones minerality giving way to brisk, mouth-watering acidity and 12.5% alcohol in a long, cleansing finish. An excellent Bourgogne Pinot Noir rosé, fine at the table or for summer sipping.

Check prices and find vendors for Domaine Célene & Frédéric Gueguen Bourgogne Rosé on

Follow this Wine-Searcher link to find listings for all the Bourgogne wines produced by Domaine Frédéric and Célene Gueguen.

This Wine-Searcher link offers information and links to dozens of Bourgogne Rosé-Clairet wines.

Domaine des Foudres 2018 Moulin à Vent ($19.99)

Domaine des Foudres
This 2018 Domaine des Foudres is 100 percent Gamay from the Beaujolais Cru Moulin à Vent. It’s dark reddish-purple, with good black-plum and mixed berry aromas and appealing earthy mineral notes of damp clay. Tart plums and berries fill the mouth, shaped by zippy fresh-fruit acidity and light, gently astringent tannins. It’s on the rustic side, but certainly approachable, a good wine with food.

Check prices and find vendors for Domaine des Foudres Moulin à Vent on; unfortunately, Wine-Searcher is showing only a few vendors for this wine.

Check this Wine-Searcher link to find information and listings for a wide variety of Moulin à Vent.

Henry Fessy 2017 Château des Reyssiers Régnié ($16.99)

Château des Reyssiers Régnié
This clear, dark, reddish-violet wine’s aroma offers pleasant red berries, strawberries and raspberries and a whiff of black-cherry liqueur. On the palate it’s fresh, juicy, and tart, balanced if somewhat rustic cherry-berry fruit framed by crisp acidity. Very good Régnié, good with food.

Check prices and find vendors for Henry Fessy Château des Reyssiers Régnié on

Read about Régnié at this Wine-Searcher link, and scroll down to find vendor and price listings for dozens of other wines from the village.

Indigenous 2014 Piemonte Barbera ($17.99)

Indigenous Piemonte is dark reddish-purple, with appealing red fruit aromas that lift from the glass, offering mixed-berry notes and a whiff of strawberry liqueur. It’s flavor is full of ripe cherry-berry fruit, framed with fresh, mouth-watering acidity and soft but perceptible tannins. It’s pleasantly rustic and comes across as a versatile table wine that carries its 14% alcohol well.

Check prices and find vendors for Indigenous Selections Piemonte Barbera on

Follow this Wine-Searcher link to read more about Barbera del Monferrato and find listings for dozens more examples of these good red wines.

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More affordable wines

Want tips to still more good, inexpensive wines? Here are Wine-Searcher links to vendors and prices for a bunch more wines for $10 or less that I’ve told you about during the past year or two. Please tell us about your favorites!

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