Total Wine Challenge Part 2: White Wines Under $12.99

30 Jan

if you read part 1 of this post, then you know that this tasting was part of a challenge from Justin Koury & Bevfluence  to find six “good or better” wines in the $12.99 and Under category from a national retailer, which in this case, is  Total Wine & More. 


A reminder of my rules:  

  1. I would not review wines I have previously tasted.
  2. I would look for small producers in regions known for good value. 
  3. I would avoid the two most popular white grapes: chardonnay and sauvignon blanc.
  4. I would take advantage of the Mix6 discount, since I knew I needed six bottles (Three red, three white.)   


I’ve already written about the red wines. (Click the link at the beginning of this post!)
Ready for the awesome white wines? 



All Rights Reserved. Images and Text Copyright 2021, JvBUnCorked. 



Seastone Albariño 2019, DO Rias Baixas, Spain. 12.5% ABV, $12.99/bottle ($11.69 Mix 6)

Color is medium straw; the nose is a delicate mix of citrus peel, floral blossoms, and tangerine. On the palate, gentle stone fruit before acidity. White peach, Braeburn apple, lime zest, and salinity, followed by almond paste. Lemon pith, limestone, and tart acidity on the finish, leaving the mouth refreshed. A good pairing for fish, shellfish, fresh fruits and vegetables, and moderate entrees. I paired this with baked flounder, a fresh green salad and sautéed kale, then enjoyed it with goat cheese on a multigrain cracker for an after dinner snack. I liked how this paired with ginger, soy, and hot pepper chicken and vegetable stir-fry. I have been serving and enjoying Albariño more and more in the last year; Americans seem to be just starting to appreciate the flexibility of this grape. Good wine, great value.




All Rights Reserved. Images and Text Copyright 2021, JvBUnCorked.



Herederos del Marques De Riscal 100% Rueda Verdejo 2019, DO Rueda, Spain. 13% ABV, $5.49/bottle ($4.94 Mix 6)

Color is pale straw with a green tinge. The nose offers salt air, Meyer lemon, and jasmine. On the palate: lemon-lime, lemongrass, grapefruit, Forelle pear, and green herbaceousness on the back palate with just a tiny hint of bitterness on the finish. According to their label, the wine is 100% organic. I first paired this with seafood (a no-brainer), then a vegetarian meal of grilled vegetables over black beans and rice, which also worked nicely.  Finally, the last glass accompanied Thai spring rolls and spicy basil chicken perfectly. My tasting note says: “Goes with anything. Should buy a case.” 

Ok, I really liked this wine. Really: ARE YOU KIDDING ME?  Huge QPR!  Darn pandemic, I wish I had a tasting schedule so I could serve this wine to guests. They’d never expect it costs so little! Restaurants should buy this by the pallet and sell it for $8/glass. How often can you find a really delicious white wine for $5 a BOTTLE? Don’t expect it to stay this cheap for long.  

I almost broke my own rule on this wine; I have enjoyed wines from this winemaker before, though not the Verdejo. How shocked was I, that the lowest priced wine I tried was the one I enjoyed pairing the most? Really impressive, this wine is a tremendous value. 




San Gregorio Single Vineyard La Muela Macabeo 2019, Catayud DOC, Spain. 14.1%ABV, $11.99/bottle ($10.79 Mix 6)


Color is medium straw; the nose offers gentle citrus, sweet melon, and honey. Delicate lime zest, honeydew, and Concorde pear are on the palate. Acidity crosses the upper back palate, with secondary notes of green herbs and minerals. Finishes with a clear, fresh resolve. 

This single vineyard macabeo paired nicely with Thai chicken in basic sauce, roast turkey, salmon, as well as lentil soup and a salad. It would be an obvious and easy pairing with grilled seafood, tapas, or pesto sauce. Another solid cellar option I am glad to learn about, another of the San Gregorio, and one more of several well-priced wines at Total Wine & More that are deserving of your attention.  

In case it sounds unfamiliar, the macabeo grape is also known as viura in Rioja. Viura is commonly used as a blending grape in creation of Spain’s sparkling wine, cava. In France, macabeo is known as maccabeu, and can be found in vineyards along the southern Languedoc-Roussillon region. 




What did I learn by this challenge? 
These are wines I normally ignore, and I simply won’t ignore wines under $13 any more. My regular price point starts at $15/bottle and I learned a lesson about that, for the second time in about a year! These Spanish and Italian wines below $13 were well worth my time. (The last time was Pedro Cancela. Remember my February 2020 piece on Wines of the Dão?) Yes, my personal tastes, the pricey chardonnays and pinot noirs are awesome, as are the old and rare bottles, but there is absolutely a place in my home for these wines. And no matter what the price, THEY DELIVER.

So you should consider giving them a taste, and sharing with us what you think.  



à votre santé!






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