A Master Sommelier Selects 3 Wines Under $20

Chuck Furuya helps us make it through social distancing with good cheer.

ABOUT  Chuck Furuya is an expert in pairing wine with Pacific Rim cuisine and has worked with just about every boldface name chef from Thomas Keller to Hawaii’s own Roy Yamaguchi. In 1988 Furuya was the first person in the U.S. to pass the rigorous Master Sommelier exam. He is an ardent supporter of wine education and elevating wine knowledge for all. Chuck is a partner with D.K. Kodama in DK Restaurant Group. Vino, their flagship Italian wine bar was voted by Travel & Leisure “one of the top 25 wine bars in America.”  

Chuck’s Wine List that won’t break your budget.

People are staying home, social distancing and are out and about just to buy foods, supplies AND beverages. Now more than ever, there is a golden opportunity for value driven wines. While there are a multitude of wines available on store shelves, in each price range, I suggest finding those that offer something extra in the bottle in terms of quality, satisfaction, food friendliness or value takes a bit of research to uncover, especially in most retail venues. – Chuck Furuya

2018 Mohua Sauvignon Blanc (roughly $17 a bottle)
While New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc is currently a very hot commodity, finding a really good one which is reasonably priced can be quite a challenge.
We have been a fan of the Mohua version for quite some time because of how tasty, vivacious, uplifting
and thirst quenching it can be. Furthermore, unlike many of its peers, the acidity is somewhat rounder and not so piercing and therefore has a much wider window
working with foods. Lastly, the remarkable pricing won’t break your bank.

2018 CF Riesling Medium Dry “Euro-Asian” (roughly $16 a bottle)
We created this wine for our contemporary, innovation Asian fusion foods at Sansei Seafood Restaurant & Sushi Bar restaurants, but it will work with many Asian styled foods just as well.
Yup, anything with spice/heat, salty pungency and slight sweetness. (Think of it as biting into a cold pineapple/or apple, between bites of Asian sauces). The grapes c ome from red slates hillsides that slope down to the Rhine River in the Rheinhessen region of Germany and crafted exclusively for us by New Age winemaking phenom Johannes Hasselbach of Weingut Gundderloch. At its price point, we feel it is a SENSATIONAL VALUE.

2016 Edmeades Zinfandel “Mendocino” (roughly $17 a bottle)
After much thought, this was aa wine that stood out as a must for this piece. While Edmeades is most renown for their hearty, robust, wildly rustic, single vineyard Zinfandels, I remember how this “Mendocino” bottling
stood for me equally, starting with the 2004 vintage. Then winemaker Van Williamson would listen to the old time, vineyard owners would talk about how European immigrants would come up and buy their grapes to take back home to make their own wines, often in their basement. The wine was mostly for consumption at the dinner table with their meals. Back then, they did not have the luxury of making TWO wines—one for fish and one for meat. So, the one wine they did make had to be suitable for both fish and meat. Inspired by this understanding, Their “Mendocino” Zin was honed accordingly. For today’s wine drinkers, I would add that this wine lies somewhere between Pinot Noir and Cabernet Sauvignon in terms of weight, bod & mojo & will adeptly work with a wide range of foods, ALL at the great price.

2017 Daou “Pessimist” (roughly $20 a bottle)
It is remarkably how Californian red wine blends, like “The Prisoner” have really taken off in popularity. We found another very interesting blend a few years back from Paso Robles.
It has a dark, masculine, sinister, savory character, but with an uplifting minerality in its core which makes the wine seem less heavy and cumbersome on the palate. The minerality
also makes the wine much more interesting to explore AND much more multifaceted with foods than just something with gobs of ultraripe, opulent fruit. Plus, it is not nearly as pricey than its peers in this category.

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