Satisfying sippers under $15
Following the end-of-the-decade excess, it’s perhaps prudent to take a taste and a look at some good wine buys for a broker new year. This isn’t the much-awaited Best Under $10 column—still rounding some of those up—although there are some good $10 wines here. Then, up the ladder we climb, stopping at $15, which is plenty stratospheric price-point-wise for this time of year. Most of these are easily found in various LDB stores. Some will want an excursion to the burbs or the privates.
Nuviana 2007 ($9.99)
A long-standing Spanish palate pleaser. Fresh, sprightly, clean, and bright, it’s made from more or less equal parts of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Syrah. About as good as it gets under $10.
Gallo Family Vineyards Pinot Grigio 2008 ($9.99)
Light in texture and light on fruit, agreeably citric and well worth the equally light price. A winner among similarly priced Californians, it hits the spot with a salmon soufflé (Frank’s Red Hot Chili Lime sauce on the side) and a romaine-hearts salad.
Vina Antigua Sangiovese/Bonarda 2006 ($9.99)
One of two on this list from Argentina, it’s rich and beefy, dark and hearty; a big meat wine that’s a serious deal, made with two varieties that grow a bit off the beaten path.
Vina Antigua Tempranillo 2007 ($9.99)
Lighter and sharper than the one just above. I used it to poach pears (instead of Bardolino) and it was perfect. Good with Asian stir-fries and spring vegetable casseroles. Value, value, value.
De Bortoli db Syrah 2007 ($11.99)
Consistent good value from this Australian house. This one is hearty and spicy with a bit of fruit on the nose; a casserole wine (lamb stew with green onions or your best goulash).
Finca Flichman Shiraz Oak-Aged 2008 ($11.99)
One of the dozens of great-value Argentines in town. Full and mellow, ready for braised beef ribs or beef and kidney pie, even leftover beef and potato curry from Hon’s. Try it with roasted caramelized onions and carrots.
Santa Rita 120 Sauvignon Blanc 2009 ($11.99)
If you buy the complete portfolio from this value-driven Chilean producer, you’ve got dinner wine for everything you’ll be cooking this spring. Bright and crisp, clear and lively—and patriotic too. (See the story of the 120 on the back label.)
Melini Chianti 2007 ($12.49, down a buck-fifty from regular for February)
Italian standard that used to come in those great raffia-clad candle holders. Easy, light chianti: no bite, short and soft fruit. Pizza and spaghetti wine.
Dominio de Eguren Protocolo Vino de la Tierra de Castilla 2006 ($12.99)
Certainly one of the favourites of the last couple of months, a Spanish keeper. Sweetish, full all over the palate, a fine finish. Rich and right for roasts and midwinter barbecues. Top value.
Bodegas Piqueras Castillo de Almansa Reserva 2005 ($12.99)
I often wonder what reserva really means in Spanish wine nomenclature, but here’s not the place to explore it. This has the familiar blend of Tempranillo, Monastrell, and Garnacha, under a year’s oak. It’s still surprisingly tight and acidic. Cuts the fat with ribs and duck and well-marbled rib-eyes; definitely needs hearty food.
Kendermann Bend in the River Riesling 2007 ($12.99)
Long-time B.C. favourite from Germany, in a new package. Fresh and refreshing; low in alcohol and high in flavour, with only a hint of the customary Riesling sweetness in the fruit. Thai cooking suits it to a T.
Viu Manent Malbec 2008 ($13.99)
Often a winner in Malbec competitions conducted from this corner, this Chilean wine routinely runs rings around many Argentine competitors, pleasing palates and panels. A deep, rich colour and plenty of berries dominate the taste; there’s even chocolate and coffee in the finish. Grills (including salmon) will welcome it. A consistent treat.
Dao Cabriz 2008 ($14.99)
Bet you haven’t had any Alfrocheiro in your glass of late; here it is mixed with Tinta Roriz and Touriga Nacional, all solid Portuguese grapes, harvested and vinified separately. Then six months in French oak (which seems about the norm in Portuguese table wines). Smooth and round; pork and clams for me.
Quinta do Encontro Merlot/Baga 2006 ($14.99)
Baga? They’re not growing that in the Golden Mile. Full and fruity, with a hint of cinnamon, it “combines the ripened aromas of the Merlot and the struture [sic] of the Baga”. They keep mixing and matching in Portugal; this is a further step along that road. It’s a long road. And winding. Short finish but tasty. And something different, eh?
Cono Sur Organic Cabernet Sauvignon/Carmenere 2008 ($14.99)
Impressive, ongoing releases from this Chilean that’s doing lots of organic growing and winemaking. Love this one: the light-purple colour, the tempering of the Cab by the Carm, good acidity, restrained tannin, lots to chew on. One of the top three this outing; in no particular order: Protí²colo, Viu Manent, and Cono Sur.
But do try all 15—you won’t be bored.