6 heavyweight wines that come at lightweight prices

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      It’s becoming increasingly difficult to find decent wine under 15 bucks in our market, but it’s a necessary price point so we can all continue to pay our ridiculous rents and mortgages. In canvassing some pals in the wine and restaurant trade for their recommendations, these are some of the wines that came up most often.

      All of them were purchased at the B.C. Liquor Store at Alberni and Bute (though most are in good supply at most locations), with my receipt coming in at just under a hundred bucks. I’d say all of them punch above their weight class, offering pretty stellar value and quality; there are no caveats here. Just open ’em up and enjoy.


      Codici Masserie Fiano 2016

      (Puglia, Italy; $14.99, B.C. Liquor Stores)

      If you’re a Pinot Gris fan and looking to mix things up a little, Fiano may be right up your alley. On the nose, there’s grilled pineapple, marmalade, and just a bit of musky character. On the palate, there’s a mineral character reminiscent of wet stone. Atop that stone, there are a handful of honeysuckles, tangy muddled lemon flavours, and fresh Honeycrisp apple, all of that continuing through a very long finish. Rich and fruit-forward enough to pair with Thai curries and any other dishes that may carry a pinch of heat.


      Tiroliro Rosé 2016

      (Vinho Verde, Portugal; $12.99, B.C. Liquor Stores)

      Brighten up grey days with this lovely burst of pink. Although it has a fairly dark hue, it’s not as sweet as it looks like it may be, so have no fear and dive right in! Fresh alpine strawberries come tumbling out of the glass, followed by rhubarb and cherries, with nectarine and juicy limes on the finish. There’s a touch of spritzy character as well, which will lift any rich foods like creamy pastas or whatever you put on the cheese board.


      Codici Masserie Salice Salentino Riserva 2013

      (Puglia, Italy; $14.99, B.C. Liquor Stores)

      Negroamaro is the variety here, coming to us from Puglia, the heel of Italy. Gobs of dark berry fruit dominate both the nose and the palate, mingling with oregano, bay leaves, and sage. Those berry notes are followed by savoury black olives and Italian plums, with a nice mineral character woven throughout. I’m thinking lamb shank, beef tenderloin, or similar carnivore fare.


      Luccarelli Primitivo and Woolshed Shiraz punch above their weight.

      Luccarelli Negroamaro 2016

      (Puglia, Italy; $12.99, B.C. Liquor Stores)

      Looks like we have a bit of a Negroamaro theme this week, and this one is coming in a couple bucks cheaper than the last one. The difference? Luccarelli’s outing has less age on it, so it’s a little more fruity and bright. A few dollops of blueberry compote are topped with fresh anise and a dusting of espresso, all of it lip-smackingly juicy and delicious. As we head toward the holidays and are likely to be entertaining guests a little more often, consider this a solid crowd pleaser that won’t break the bank.


      Luccarelli Primitivo 2016

      (Puglia, Italy; $14.99, B.C. Liquor Stores)

      Primitivo is related to the famous Zinfandel grape made famous in California, both of them clones of the Crljenak Kastelanski grape native to Croatia. This Italian version, besides being easier to confidently pronounce, is loaded with stewed blackberries, dark cherries, and blueberries lifted by elements of eucalyptus and spearmint.

      Toward the finish, there’s a good dose of black licorice and a touch of white pepper giving it a subtle kick. Big, bold, and delicious, this wine is quite the bargain. If you’re so inclined, giving it a quick decanting before filling your glasses certainly wouldn’t hurt.


      Woolshed Shiraz 2016

      (Australia, $13.99, B.C. Liquor Stores)

      This wine is only labelled as being from Australia, which doesn’t give us too much of an idea of characteristics it may harbour. It’s pretty much like saying any of the above wines are from Europe, without narrowing it down any further. A little Internet sleuthing uncovers its provenance in the Murray Darling region in the state of Victoria.

      Those breezes coming across the Great Southern Ocean from Antarctica seem to keep the fruit from getting too ripe, resulting in a well-balanced wine. There is, indeed, a dark-purple hue to it, with plenty of mixed berries on the nose and the palate.

      It’s not all simple berry fruit, though: there’s a good lashing of peppermint in it, keeping the wine from being too heavy or sweet. This would easily wash down beef brisket, hamburgers, or pulled-pork sandwiches.