Less than a two weeks to go till the big day, and if you need to stock up on wine this is the blog for you!!!
Red and white, sweet and sparkling, cheap and…well, a bit more expensive (but it won’t break anyone’s bank account).
Bargain reds seem to always be the easiest picks for some reason, and this year is no exception. Two of the best, in my opinion, come from France and Spain. The 2011 Vin de Pays by Domaine la Bastide — a mix of Rhone varietals like Syrah, Grenache and Mourvedre — is fresh and grapey, with ripe black fruits, just a touch of earth, and no oak in sight. At < $10, you can afford to buy it by the case!
Its the same for the latest vintage of Castano's Monastrell. The 2010 is also fully ripe, with earthy black cherries and, again, no oak to wooden things up. And at $11.97 it is also a super value!
Whites are a bit harder to find, but I have good luck with Sauvignon Blanc. The '10 Reserva from Santa Carolina in Chile is bang on varietally, smelling of fresh grass and herbs, followed by crisp, citrus fruit in the mouth, bone dry, with a light touch of oak. At $12.99, it is impressive.
A similar — and even cheaper — wine is 2010 from Two Oceans in South Africa. If anything, it is even fresher and fruitier than the one from Chile and also a buck or two cheaper at $10.49.
The next level up — in quality and price — also has lots of options. If you are going to spend $25 – $40, I would recommend looking to the Cotes du Rhone in France for reds. The 2007 and 2009 vintages are on the shelves and very impressive, as the fruit was very ripe and made wines that are drinking well now but will also age for a few years. Try the 2007 Vacqueyras Les Christins by Perrin (the makers of the famous Chateau de Beaucastel) fro $26.99 and get a pure "Grenache experience", with dried herbs, earthy dried cherries, super ripeness and body, and no oak; just a gorgeous wine and great with roast turkey! For about $10 more, you can move up to a nice Chateauneuf du Pape — the 2007 from Les Clefs d'Or. Similar in flavour and style, it is a bit bigger and more tannic, so can keep for 5+ years or be decanted an hour or so in advance of drinking right now.
Whites, once again, are a different story. Lots of overpriced California Chardonnays and not enough dry Rieslings and Gewurztraminers! One exception is the '09 Gewurztraminer by Alsation producer Domaine Zind-Humbrecht. This famous winemaker (Robert Parker has called him one of the best in the world) gives us a huge wine for $28.99 – classic lychee nut, spicy nose, rich, medium body and ripe but not sweet fruit!
Finally, sparkling and sweet wines. The first is easy, as it is always the same! Spain's Segura Viudas makes a NV Brut that, year in, year out is a killer value! Lots of crisp, green apples in that Cava-style, it is light and refreshing — and still around $15!
As for sweet wines, there are no value priced, mature half bottles of Port I can recommend this year. But there is an intriguing wine from B.C's Quail's Gate – the '09 Fortified Marechal Foch. This native BC grape comes through big time with its meaty, spicy, black fruit that is turned sweet (but not cloying) by the residual sugar left behind when the fermenting was stopped. And at $22.99 for a half bottle, it is a good value.
So there you go; some options for your holiday wine shopping. All should be available in pretty good quantities at BC government liquor stores.