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  • Writer's pictureThe Unassuming Wine Bros

Tasty Wines Under $15

Updated: Jan 24, 2021

The Unassuming Wine Bros are unapologetic wine tasters of the people. Thus, for your benefit and enjoyment, instead of self-aggrandizing, high-brow profiles of expensive bottles, this month, we bring you tasty wines that cost $15 per bottle or less that can be easily purchased nearby.

We are The Unassuming Wine Bros (UWB) – Patrick and Vigo - two regular guys who love everything about wine, including writing about it. Our goal is to explore the nuances of wine, share our adventures with you, and have a little fun along the way.

Selecting the Wine:

Patrick: The process of identifying this month's wines was simplified when I received a coupon in my email inbox from Total Wine for 15% off the purchase of ten bottles of select wine. Determined to make fair use of it, I visited Total Wine's website and set the search parameters to wines under $15 per bottle rated 90 and above and available at their Shoppes at University Town Center location. I then spent a few hours exploring the many online listings the search parameters produced, focusing on old world wines. My personal preference, bottles I had never previously tasted, and bottles that are well-regarded by prominent wine raters. After tentatively identifying a list of exciting options, I visited the retail store and - with the beneficial assistance of Total Wine's "Ty" – located the bottles in well under an hour and departed with ten bottles meeting the criteria.

Over the next several weeks, Vigo and I tasted each of the ten bottles. Not all were great, and some were better than others. All of them seemed to get better after they got some air in them and opened up. Here are descriptions of the ones that we enjoyed the most:

2018 Banfi Centine Red Blend: 90 -James Suckling; $8.97; 13.5 Alc. by Vol.

Patrick: For nine bucks, this Tuscan blend is solid. It is a perfect combination of the dry, bright fruit tastes of Sangiovese and the darker fruit flavor of Merlot - the Cabernet Sauvignon notes of this blend was less pronounced. It was medium-bodied and easy to drink with a slightly earthy finish. I could drink this traditional Italian red wine all day and drink it again at this price point. The 2018 Banfi Centine Red Blend is the type of bottle you could pour all night at a family gathering, and everyone would be pleased with it.

Patrick's Rating:

Vigo: I can't say this enough; I love good blended wine. If you get it right, spectacular, if you get it wrong, Hindenberg landing. The 2018 Banfi Centine red blend is not stunning nor Hindenberg, it is more of a fighter jet landing on an aircraft carrier: nothing pretty, but it gets the job done. When you consider its reasonable price and its plumy floral taste coupled with a medium body, this wine from Italy's Tuscany region isn't a wrong selection.

Vigo’s Rating:

2015 Tesoro De Bullas Monastrell: 90 - James Suckling; $13.99; 14.5% Alc. by Vol.

Patrick: I had a low expectation for this bottle, having never previously drunk this wine type. However, I was blown away by it. This bottle was my favorite of the ten bottles. This Spanish wine is a great-tasting and medium-bodied with a lingering finish and tannins with tart to medium cherry notes—delicious and exciting wine. If you try it, we would love to hear whether you enjoyed it as much as I did.

Patrick's Rating:

Vigo: Patrick has taken our economy class taste buds from Italy to Spain for this 2015 Tesoro De Monastrell selection. Before tasting it, I had a preconceived notion that this wine would be hardy, full-bodied, and spicy. I was completely wrong on all counts. This red wine is soft, fruity with a hint of orange peel on its finish. Its medium body, floral bouquet, and light tannins were a delight. The 2015 Tesoro De Monastrell is an elegant wine for a beer budget.

Vigo’s Rating:

2015 Marchese Di Borgosole Salice Salentino Riserva: 92 - James Suckling; $12.99; 13.5% Alc. by Vol.

Patrick: This wine drinks like a drier, jammier version of a California pinot noir with baking spice notes that predominate over its cherry pie-esque fruitiness and subtle vanilla characteristics. This medium to full-bodied wine was exciting and full of flavor. At this price point, you will be glad you tried it. It would go great with dessert.

Patrick's Rating:

Vigo: Okay, we're back in Italy, and this selection can't be more classic Italian. The bottle that contains the 2015 Marchese Di Borgosole Salice Salentino looks like a beautiful Italian movie star. The Puglia region where the wine is grown and harvested is in the Italian boot's heel, but this wine isn't a heel. Be warned - it needs time to breathe. When Patrick and I first uncorked the bottle, we immediately began to drink it, which was a mistake. A thick taste of leather and earth will first welcome you. Once you give it 10 minutes to open up, it returns a beautiful cherry, spicy flavor with a vanilla hint. The 2015 Marchese Di Borgosole Salice Salentino is a full-bodied earthly wine that you will taste old Italy in every glass.

Vigo’s Rating:

2017 Marchesi di Barolo “Maraia” Barbera Del Monferrato DOC: 91 - Wine Spectator; $14.99; 14% Alc. by Vol.

Patrick: This wine was a close second as my favorite bottle of the bunch. This wine has a light fruit taste with raspberry predominating. It is delicate to medium-bodied and drinks soft on the palate with earthiness and a zesty finish. This wine is delicious. Based on my palate, I expected to love this wine and did. My only regret is not drinking it with pasta in red sauce to which it would pair off the charts well. Next, I will do so.

Patrick's Rating:

Vigo: We have gone from the heel to Italy's head for this selection, the 2017 Maraia Barbera Del Monferrato. This wine comes from the Asti region, located in northern Italy close to the French border. The varietal used is the Barbera grape, known for its deep color, low tannins, and high acidity. When you first uncork and smell this wine, its bouquet is like roses. It has a dark cherry with a hint of leather taste, and the finish is smooth and enjoyable. The 2017 Maraia Barbera Del Monferrato is a great bottle to open when a guest comes over, and at its price point, you can have two or three and not feel guilty that you over-indulged. Of all the wines we sampled for this article, this one was my favorite.

Vigo’s Rating:

Mail Bag: Carol G from Lakewood Ranch FL wrote to us: "Unassuming Wine Bros, I love your articles and enjoy your opinions. Now that the holidays are around the corner, what are your suggestions for wine selections for a holiday party?"

UWB: Carol, have you hacked our computers because this is a subject that Patrick and I have discussed at length. Not to steal our upcoming articles thunder, but we will be writing about holiday wines in our next issue. So, keep reading, we'll answer your questions soon.

Let us know whether you agree, disagree, or whether you prefer other wines or pairings more. We'd love to hear your input and suggestions and are always thrilled to receive your feedback, information, and opinions. We can be reached at

This article was originally published in Around The Ranch newspaper on October 21, 2020.

Rating System:

Vigo – Retired US Army Sgt. First Class (Humvees) / Patrick – practicing local attorney (Scales of Justice). Ratings are given on a 1-5 scale, with five being the highest.

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