20 Wines Under $20: Postcards From Around the World
Good wine has the power to transport. As we now approach a full year locked in pandemic freeze-frame, with many people largely confined within their national borders, wine still provides an opportunity to taste the world.
In January, shopping digitally at Manhattan wine shops, I selected 20 bottles priced at less than $20, wines that not only offer great value but also convey the flavor of the places that produced them.
These 20 bottles come from 11 countries. Each of the wine regions does things its own way, using different sets of grapes, say, or techniques and sensibilities that have been traditional in its part of the world. Natural conditions — climates and soils, for example — vary as well.
The world is far more homogenized than it used to be. Television, the internet and easy international travel have all seen to that. But some things remain local, even under the pressures of globalization. Good wine is one of them.
Feudo Montoni Sicilia Catarratto Masso 2018 $19.99
Catarratto is perhaps the most widely planted white grape on Sicily, but it does not have a great reputation. It was widely used in Marsala, a sweet fortified wine, along with a lot of cheap whites. But what if it was grown conscientiously and made with care? Would it have unimagined potential? I wouldn’t call this wine a revelation. But Feudo Montoni farms organically in central Sicily and makes a handful of excellent wines, and I’d say this is a fine rendition: dry, lively and profoundly herbal. It would be a great match for delicate fish and shellfish. (Wilson Daniels, Napa, Calif.)