What do you get when you combine Cabernet, Malbec, a Beaujolais, a Chianti, Syrah, and multiple Spanish grapes? You get the Grape Sense Top 10 Wines of 2010.

Are these the best ten wines I tasted in 2010? No, but close. These are 10 of the best wines tasted that were under $20 and purchased in Indiana. Last year, I ranked the Top 10 – this year the best are presented in no particular order.

George Deboeuf’s La Trinquee Julienas – The Gamay wine from Beaujolais has nice fruit structure, tannins, and well-balanced acidity. It will change your mind about Beaujolais if you’ve only had the Nouveau. ($12-99-$15.99)

Domaine de Niza Languedoc 2005 – The French wine is a blend of 60 percent Syrah, 35 percent Mourvedre, and 5 percent Grenache. It has a big nose, an herbal, spicy, and smoky taste with a long finish. Wine Spectator gave this juice a 91. I might not go quite that high, but darn close. ($13.99)

J. Lohr Cabernet – The wine is a rich and well-structured bottle of Cab. It can be found in wine shops from $13-$17. It can be picked up at many Indiana groceries for $14.99.

Etim Seleccion – This is a blend of 60 percent Garnacha, 30 percent Carinena and 10 percent Syrah from Spain. It’s aged six months. The wine has an irresistable rich black cherry and spice flavor.($13.95)

Montebuena 2009 Rioja – The 100 percent Spanish Tempranillo is about as good as you’re going to find anywhere for $9. Getting good European wine under $10 is always a challenge. Wine icon Robert Parker gave this great wine 90 points!

Errazuriz Cab – The Errazuriz gets its own listing because it’s that good. Chile is making some great wine and the Errazuriz is widely available. They also make a dynamite Sauv Blanc. The Cab is widely available for $19.

Altos Malbec – A consistent 88 to 90 point wine delivers a great punch. Altos offers a deep colored hue with earthiness and a silky smooth finish. You even get a little sour cherry on the mid-palate. ($10-$13)

Il Fiorino 2008 Chianti – This is a really satisfying and easy-to-drink Chianti. The Il Fiorino is the classic and traditional blend of 90 percent Sangiovese with 10 percent Canaiolo. The winery Poggio Romita ages the wine in stainless steel instead of oak. It has that smooth drinkability new wine drinkers are always seeking out. ($13)

Este de Bodegas Alto Almanzora – A critic’s favorite from Almeria, Spain. It’s largely Monastrell (Mourvedre), with a little Garnacha and Tempranillo, plus smaller amounts of Cabernet, Merlot and Shiraz. It is flavorful with bold raspberry and a hint of vanilla from the oak. ($9.99)

Durigutti Malbec – Last year I ranked my year-end wines 1-10. I didn’t do that this year, but if I did the Durigutti would be No. 1. This is rich wine with a peppery finish. And if you’ve never had Bonarda (traditional Argentinian grape), try Durigutti. The Malbec sells for $11-$14. They have a Reserva that is fabulous wine for $23.99

Howard’s Picks comes down to some personal highlights from 2010. I joined a group of 10 wine writers for a three-day press trip to Paso Robles, Ca, in October. I’ll be returning to California wine country in January.

For specific wines I’d list my discovery of aged French Vouvray (chenin blanc), Ortman Family Wines, Paso Robles, and my first excursions into Amarone from Italy as just a few of many highlights.

Thanks to you for reading Grape Sense and your local newspaper editor for carrying the column. I get lots of great feedback, usually when I least expect it.

Cheers to 2011!

If one of the above wines interests you and you can’t find it, write me at hewitthoward@gmail.com and I’ll tell you where I purchased the wine.
Send comment or questions to: hewitthoward@gmail.com