It's safe to say that reds with sub-$20 price tags have never been better, but how many of them have real character? How many make an interesting statement about their place of birth, grape varieties, or origin? Instead, many are simply generic wines, sound enough, sometimes bolstered by sweetness or a dose of oak, but with little to separate them from all the other wines in the price category. Thankfully, even in the bargain category there are still some red wines that do offer distinctive personality.
Coraggioso Sicilia Nero d'Avola 2017, $4.99
That price is not a misprint. This $5 red shames some wines at three times the money and more. It's a deeply coloured Sicilian with attractive aromas of berries, redcurrants and sunburnt earth, coupled to a ripe, dry, mouth-watering palate with savoury, tight tannins. Amazing value. Screw cap; 13 per cent alcohol.
Ageing? Drink over two years.
Stockists include ALDI stores.
Le Chat Noir Grenache Mourvedre Syrah 2017, $17-$20
From France's south-west, this blend is a modern take on French tradition. The nose offers concentrated berry fruit, with floral and earthy notes adding dimension. It's so smooth and full in the mouth that a bottle disappears with indecent haste. Easy drinking, yet with real personality. Screw cap; 14.5 per cent alcohol.
Ageing? Drink over three years.
Stockists include Dockendorf's IGA, Brighton (Vic); Camperdown Cellars, Sydney (NSW).
Hesketh Small Parcels Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon 2016, $18-$22
Coonawarra cabernet is an Australian classic, and this version combines true regional identity with a good price. It's lightly minty and fresh, with a core of blackcurrant fruit seasoned by threads of cedary oak. Medium-bodied and succulent, it has a balanced backbone of fine tannins. Screw cap; 14.5 per cent alcohol.
Ageing? Drink over six years.
Stockists include Camberwell South Cellars (Vic); Australian Wine Centre, Sydney (NSW).