12 under 20: River Road Russian River Valley Reserve Pinot Gris
This wine is unoaked and aged in 100% stainless steel. It is crisp and full of fruit (peach and citrus). The maker's notes suggest a hint of minerality, but to me, it is hardly noticeable in contrast to the the clean, refreshing fruit playing first fiddle. Chicken dishes, cheeses, melons or peaches, salmon or white fish...you can pair this wine with so many different dishes or even just enjoy on it's own (as I've been known to do ;))! It has been my go-to white wine of the season.
At Total Wine, this baby goes for $13.99. www.riverroadvineyards.com
12 under 20: Markham Vineyards Merlot
When in Napa, one of the vineyards we happened across was Markham Vineyards. Truth be told, we had not heard of it before, but our accommodations gave us a free wine tasting there as part of our package. We popped by Markham's tasting room between our appointments at Silver Oak and Duckhorn and frankly, we left California more impressed with Markham than any of the wineries we visited. A true diamond, but one you can actually afford!!
The group favorite from this tasting experiences was the Merlot. It was lush with layers of cherry and raspberry and an undertone of vanilla oak (I'm serious - You can taste the subtle vanilla). A few extra notes of dark coffee give it a really full, rich flavor. It is intense, but ohhhhh so good. Do your filet mignon or dark chocolate dessert a real favor by pairing it with this wine.
This wine just makes it into our 12, because on Total Wine it's listed for $19.97. We have found it at Costco as well for around $16.99. We signed up for the Wine Club at Markham SPECIFICALLY because of this wine, if that tells you anything (Members get 30% off!). www.markhamvineyards.com
If there are any two wines I can convince you to go invest in right now, it is these two. You will not be disappointed, no matter the occasion that arises. Enjoy!