Joelle Thomson's online wine guide

Category: Top drops under $20 (page 1 of 2)

Looking for your weekend tipple?

Wine of the week – a top drop under $20

Tipple is one of those words I used to loathe and detest but like neon jackets, orange lampshades and platform shoes, the word ‘tipple’ is making a comeback. Call it retro, call it hipster (if you absolutely must) or call it ironic humour, but I like it.

So, without further ado, here’s my top quality, low priced wine of the week…

This is the best under $20 bottle I’ve tried in the past seven days and, better still, it’s sealed with a screw cap, which ensures freshness – important here since this wine has winged its way all the way from the Italy’s hot south west region of Puglia (‘pu-lee-a’). Enjoy.

Saluti Rosso Puglia $15.99, 12.5% ABV

Drinkable Italian wines under $15 are thin on the ground but this newcomer breaks the mould; it arrived in New Zealand this month and is made mostly from Merlot (65%) with Negroamaro (literally ‘bitter black’) providing the Italianesque je ne sais quoi of ripe black fruit, savoury spice and liquorice flavours.

It’s made by a big company in Puglia; the hot, arid, sun drenched heel of the Italian boot, and is imported here by Master of Wine Stephen Bennett; a long time Italiaphile who has opened many doors for Spanish wine in this country. Let’s hope he can do the same for Italy.

Saluti means ‘greetings’ and this one can be found at Belmondo in Lyall Bay, Wellington, hopefully soon at Moore Wilson’s, and also direct by contact Bennett & Deller, phone (09 378 9463.

Top drop under $20

It’s that time of year when everything heats up; the weather, the deadlines and the need for good value wine, so check this stellar bargain out from a big producer based in Marlborough…

2016 Toi Toi Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc RRP $12.99

This wine is very youthful, very citrusy and very good value for money with flavours of fresh herbs, zesty citrus and ripe passionfruit, pineapple and mangoes. Its high acidity matches its light body and long finish, all combining to make a wine that over delivers at this price. The grapes it was made from were grown in Omaka; a sub region on Marlborough’s vast Wairau Valley.


Red rocks: Argentinian top drop under $20

2016 Trapiche Oak Cask Malbec $14 to $15, 12.5% ABV

Where can you buy this wine? Find out at

This Malbec is one of the best value reds in the Southern Hemisphere and delivers overwhelmingly… good value for money from Argentina, which is one of the top six wine producing countries in the world, in terms of volume… And while it’s soft fruity flavours and smooth approachable style hint at a drink-me-now style of wine, a group of Wine & Spirit Education Trust students all agreed today (when tasting it blind) that it has the potential to further improve for at least the next two years, thanks to its refreshing acidity and long finish.

This wine is made with grapes grown in Mendoza – the HQ of wine in Argentina – a country which has benefitted massively from a nationwide vine pull in the 1980s, which saw the total vineyard area fall dramatically from 314,000 hectares in the early 1980s to 205,000 hectares in 1993. The quality has since risen astronomically, as wines such as this one consistently show.

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