Best red wines under $20

by Michael Cooper / 16 July, 2011
Here are some of the best-buying reds for around $20.
‘Red, red wine,” sing Neil Diamond and UB40, praising its ability to ward off memories of a lost love. It’s also a popular source of comfort for many of us trying to ward off winter’s cold and gloom.

The French call it rouge, the Italians rosso, the Germans rot and the Spanish tinto. Around the world, red wines are celebrated for their full-bodied nature and deeply ­satisfying, concentrated flavours.

A survey commissioned by Matua Valley found New Zealand men are more likely than women to prefer red, rather than white, wine. Men are also more likely to favour “oaky, bold” reds such as Australian shiraz, whereas women lean towards “softer, more elegant” reds, such as home-grown pinot noir.

A couple of months ago, we looked at outstanding recently released reds, mostly high-priced. But there are hundreds of good reds on the shelves for around $20 or even less. Here are some of the best buys.

Jacob’s Creek Reserve Barossa Shiraz 2008
From a hot growing season, this is a dark, powerful South Australian red. Robust and packed with ripe, brambly, spicy, nutty ­flavour, it’s a steal at $21.

Vidal Hawke’s Bay Merlot/Cabernet ­Sauvignon 2009
It’s fractionally over $20, but this is still terrific value. Merlot-based (68%), with smaller amounts of cabernet sauvignon, malbec and cabernet franc, it is a mouthfilling, ripe, silky-textured red with deep plum and spice flavours, complexity – and great drinkability. $21

CJ Pask Gimblett Road Syrah 2009
Made in a “fruit-driven” style, this Hawke’s Bay red is enjoyably fresh, vibrant and supple, with the distinctive, black pepper aromas and flavours of syrah, gently seasoned with oak. It’s ready to roll. $19

Main Divide Marlborough Merlot/­Cabernet 2008
From Pegasus Bay, this merlot-based red (85%) was barrel-aged for the unusually long period of two years. It’s an easy-drinking style, with gentle tannins, good complexity and plenty of plummy, slightly spicy flavour. $19.95

Mission Hawke’s Bay Cabernet/Merlot 2009
From a great vintage for cabernet in the Bay, this is an impressively dark, full-bodied red for its modest price. It offers strong, brambly, plummy flavours, with the herbal notes typical of cabernet sauvignon, and a light seasoning of oak adds some savoury complexity. Drink now or cellar. $17

Rolling Shiraz 2008
Grown over 500m above sea level in the Central Ranges of New South Wales, this is an instantly likeable red. Spicy and plummy, with a minty streak, it is generous, seductively smooth and drinking well now. $19.99

Taylors Promised Land Cabernet ­Sauvignon 2008
Full-bodied, fresh and smooth, this South Australian red shows a restrained use of oak, placing its accent on its ripe blackcurrant, spice and slight coffee flavours, which have good density. $19.99

Te Mata Woodthorpe Vineyard Syrah 2009
Showing a pinot noir-ish charm, this Hawke’s Bay red was made from hand-harvested grapes (including 4% viognier) and French oak-aged for a year. Full-­coloured, with a floral, peppery bouquet, it is fresh and smooth, with satisfying depth of plummy, spicy flavour. $19

Trinity Hill Hawke’s Bay The Trinity 2008
Merlot (41%) holds sway in this Gimblett Gravels red, but there are also large dollops of cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc and syrah (and a splash of malbec). Designed for early drinking, it is full-coloured and sturdy, with strong blackcurrant and plum flavours, ripe and rounded. $19

Wild South Marlborough Pinot Noir 2010
A delicious drink-young style. Grown in the Waihopai and Awatere valleys, it is a generous, sweet-fruited wine, ruby-hued, with good depth of cherryish, plummy flavour, ripe and smooth. Fine value at $18.

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