So you’ve reached that stage in life: too snobby to drink plonk, too stingy to spend a boatload on your bottle. Happily, our Wine Ponce sniffed out 25 terrific bargains for every occasion, whether it’s Tuesday tippling (under $10), weekend lounging (under $15), or celebrating the untimely death of winter on a patio (under $20). Everyone can drink to that.
WEEKDAY WINES (under $10)
Caliterra Sauvignon Blanc Reserva 2011, $8.95
This Chilean white could go toe-to-toe with New Zealand Sauvignon Blancs that are twice the price. On the nose, it’s a tropical breeze of passion fruit and gooseberry; on the palate, it’s clean, crisp, and refreshing. Pour during cocktail hour when goat-cheese crostini are making the rounds.
Chile, LCBO #275909
Gazela Vinho Verde 2009, $8.95
Portugal’s vinho verde is a beloved apertif white that has a gentle effervescence and an even gentler alcohol content (so go ahead, open two). With an appealing peachiness, a faint sweetness, and a more aggressive spritz, this version goes down like diet Prosecco. Serve ice cold on a warm evening with chilled seafood.
Portugal, LCBO #141432
Pelee Pebbles Red 2010, $8.95
Ontario isn’t known for producing quaffable reds at this price point, but the long, hot summer of 2010 yielded some irresistible bargains. This blend of Baco Noir, Gamay, and the Austrian varietal Zweigelt is bright with juicy red berries and balanced with food-friendly acidity. It’s a superb match with grilled salmon.
Ontario, LCBO #270157
Farnese Casale Vecchio Montepulciano d’Abruzzo 2010 $8.90
It can be a Herculean task to find wines of real character under 10 bucks. This red, however, is a huge exception, with a nose of cherries and raspberries that gives way to a concentrated earthiness full of southern Italian swagger. Let it breath for 30 minutes before serving with beef stew.
Italy, LCBO #612788
Cono Sur Bicycle Viognier 2010, $9.95
Few wines at the LCBO deliver as much bang for the buck as this Viognier from Cono Sur, a Chilean powerhouse committed to environmentally friendly winemaking. It’s a full-bodied white with a gorgeous bouquet of apricot and honeydew, a silky texture, and a long, peachy ﬁnish. It pairs well with the spices of the subcontinent, so pour with Indian takeout.
Chile, LCBO #64287
Vila Regia Douro 2010, $7.95
The nose is pure cherry, but the flavour proﬁle is far more savoury, with notes of leather and a fistful of dried herbs. And if you’re a regular at the local churrascaria, this vinho tinto from Portugal’s Douro region is a natural with spicy rotisserie chicken. It’s also a light, bright, and juicy steal at eight bucks.
Portugal, LCBO #464388
Bodegas Castaño La Casona Monastrell 2009, $8.70
A young wine from old vines in eastern Spain, this bargain red will keep your balance sheet in the black. The aroma is almost confectionery, with Jolly Rancher–like cherry and black currant, but in the mouth, the sweet fruit is tempered by ﬁrm acidity. Those berry notes will be a hit with seared duck breast.
Spain, LCBO #143743
The Beachhouse Rosé 2011, $8.95
If you’re not a fan of France’s austere rosés, give this fruity South African Pinotage a try. Full-bodied, with gobs of strawberry pie filling, this rouged-up rosé will make you want to drink pink all spring. Throw a bottle into the picnic hamper with deviled eggs and smoked salmon sandwiches.
South Africa, LCBO #164343
KWV Chenin Blanc 2011, $7.95
Chenin Blanc is South Africa’s most widely planted grape, and this bottle from the Western Cape is a solid effort for eight-buck chuck. On the nose, it’s lemon squeezed over ripe cantaloupe, and on the tongue it has some weight while still finishing dry and crisp. Pour with tilapia in a dill-yogurt sauce.
South Africa, LCBO #18689
Caldora Sangiovese Terre di Chieti 2010, $9.95
Sangiovese, Italy’s workhorse grape, produces a staggering range of reds for every budget, especially a student’s. From Abruzzo in the south, this bargain punches above its weight with summer berries, anise, and an undercurrent of spicy mocha oak. Its vibrant acidity will stand up to tomato-sauced dishes like spaghetti and meatballs.
Italy, LCBO #251017
Next page: weekend wines (under $15)