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Wines Under $20

A Couple of Nifty, Inexpensive Whites for the Weekend

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I think I'm going to reinstate my former "Two Under Twenty" Fridays, and concentrate on good, cheap juice that people can race out and buy for the weekend. I mean, I could write about the '45 Croft Port I got to taste earlier this week (beyond extraordinary), but what are you going to do, hit the Safeway and bring home a couple of bottles to open with burgers on the grill? I suspect not. No, that can wait until Monday, when you're oppressed by the thought of another week hitched to the harness of capitalism, plodding your way towards payday. Then, aye laddie, then the thought of a drop of '45 Croft will work like a spiritual elixir poured into you from a crystal beaker tipped by the light-filled hands of angels. OK, maybe not as effectively as an actual drop of the stuff, but, you know, such is life.

Anyway, enough of this blathering. Here are two under-$20 wines that will make your weekend mighty pleasant:

2007 Clos du Bois Riesling ($12) Winemaker Eric Olsen spent a lot of time up in Washington State making Rieslings at Chateau Ste. Michelle, something that shows in this cool-site white, all lime zest, crisp peach and zingy citrus notes. It is what Olsen calls "harmoniously dry," by which he means it's got 1.6% residual sugar, but you'd never notice it (in fact, if the wine were bone-dry it'd probably be austere as all get-out and hurt your teeth when you drank it).

2007 Martinsancho Verdejo ($20) I had the new vintage of this perennial value wine at a high-end Wines of Spain tasting, where it had to compete on the palate against crazy stuff like the 2005 Contador ($395) and the 2005 Clos Erasmus ($350). You know what? It may not be as extraordinary as those wines were (not just price; they both really were extraordinary), but the Martinsancho is a darn nice little Verdejo for the cash, with vivid grapefruit notes, a little hint of pepperiness, and truly refreshing acidity. Lovely summer wine. You wouldn't want to drink those others now anyway, right?

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