Two Greek labels, a Macedonian Xinomavro and, somewhat surprisingly, a Retsina, are among the New York Times’ “20 wines under $20” list, as recommended by renowned wine critic Eric Asimov.
While he notes that inflation may have subsided in recent months, in-store prices remain stubbornly high. As a result, wines that a few months ago would have comfortably made the list now exceed twenty US dollars.
Asimov also notes that he found quite a few French and Italian wines, but not from the popular, higher-status regions. The most “underrepresented” country on the list is his own, with only one American wine, a Chambourcin from Virginia. “It was delicious wine, but no American cabernet sauvignons, pinot noirs, chardonnays or rieslings made the list,” he adds.
As for his two Greek picks, Asimov first singled out the Gaia Retsina Ritinitis Nobilis, priced at a very reasonable $16.99.
“Retsina is a style, made since antiquity, in which wine is blended with the resin of the Aleppo pine. Serious retsinas, like this one, are great. Gaia uses mountain-grown roditis grapes and fresh resin to produce this fresh, sharp and savory wine. Try it with any sort of Greek or Middle Eastern food, or simply experiment,” he writes.
Last on his list is the Domaine Tatsis Xinomavro-Negoska, priced at $19.99.
“The Tatsis brothers, Periklis and Stergios, farm biodynamically in the Macedonia region of northern Greece and make wines with minimal processing. This bottle, made of a blend of xinomavro and negoska, is a lovely introduction. It’s fragrant with aromas of menthol and licorice and, though made of young vines, is structured enough for lamb chops or roasted meats,” he concludes.
Asmiov’s complete list of 20 wines under $20 includes:
- Maris Pays d’Oc Rouge I.G.P. 2020 from the south of France, price $14.99
- Bertha Cava Brut Nature Reserva 2020, from vineyards in Catalonia, price $15.99
- Domaine Faillenc Sainte Marie Corbières 2020, from the south of France, price $15.99
- Pedro Parra y Familia Itata Vinista País 2020, from Itata, Chile, price $15.99
- Brigaldara Valpolicella 2021, from Brigaldara, Italy, price $15.99
- Luis Pato Portugal Baga Espumante Bruto Rosado NV, from Portugal, price $15.99
- Gaia Retsina Ritinitis Nobilis NV, from Greece, price $16.99
- Michel Guignier Beaujolais 2021, from France, $17.99
- Muga Rioja White 2021, from Spain, $18.96
- Giordano Lombardo Gavi 2021, from Piedmont in northern Italy, $18.99
- Altos Las Hormigas Uco Valley Terroir Malbec 2019, from Mendoza, Argentina, $19
- Jasci Trebbiano d’Abruzzo 2021, from Abruzzo, Italy, $19
- Château Peybonhomme-les-Tours Blaye Côtes de Bordeaux Le Blanc Bonhomme 2020, from France, $19.96
- Château de Chaintres Saumur Champigny Les Sables 2020, from France, $19.96
- Orto Vins Montsant Les Argiles d’Orto Vins 2019, from Catalonia, $19.96
- Château Puech Redon Vin de France Apparente Rouge 2019, from Languedoc, France, $19.96
- Nittnaus Burgenland Anita Red Blend 2018, from eastern Austria, $19.96
- Meinklang Burgenland White 2020, also from Austria, $19.96
- Early Mountain Vineyards Virginia Chambourcin Young Wine 2021, from Virginia, USA, $19.99
- Domaine Tatsis Macedonia Xinomavro-Negoska Young Vines 2017, from Macedonia, $19.99
“I really like Retsina”
In a recent interview with Gastronomos, Asimov revealed how much he likes new age retsina (made with modern techniques and high quality grapes). “I really like Retsina. I think it’s the perfect example of wine and culture. And, unfortunately, it was downgraded for a long time. Maybe now more people will start approaching it again. It has its audience. I don’t think it’s going to become very popular – I’m not sure anyone would expect that to happen – but I think if it gets to a point where people appreciate what it is and what it offers, and it’s no longer considered a joke or a wine to be avoided, it will be a big step.”
This article was first published in Greek at kathimerini.gr.