Doug Sloan

Affordable alternatives for festive feasting

Unless you’ve managed to get past the compulsion to exchange gifts with everyone you know at this time of year… well, it’s entirely possible that you’re close to being out of cash and likely even closer to maxing your credit cards.

With that possibility in mind, here’s a short list of tasty imported and domestic wines under $10 that you can confidently pour for your friends and family around your favourite festive feast. Without breaking what’s left of your bank account!

Colombard is one of the world’s great white blending grapes, traditionally added to Ugni Blanc (aka: Trebbiano in Italy) and Folle Blanche in the production of Cognac and Armagnac in France.

In California it is often blended into sun-drenched Chardonnay and Pinot Grigio to add a refreshing natural acidity. A matched pair – and a favourite at Moxie’s – Vista Point’s Pinot Grigio and Cabernet Sauvignon already have lots of fans.

Vista Point Pinot Grigio Colombard (5447) $8.00 is an easy-to-like kind of white.

Fresh and fruity, it starts with almost sweet ripe melon then moves on to bright notes of apple, peach, apricot and sweet grapefruit.

The addition of Colombard to the California-grown Pinot Grigio adds distinctly ‘zingy’ acidity to that first sip.

Just as modestly Californian Vista Point Cabernet Sauvignon (328989) $8 pleases profusely without overwhelming that festive ham or turkey or Uncle Bud’s beer palate.

There’s a surge of  sweet cherry and berry flavors on that first sip, enhanced with a spritz of oaky vanilla on the finish.

Thanks to what would seem to be a glut of grapes and wine from the 2012 vintage, interestingly affordable VQA wines are appearing from BC’s own Okanagan Valley.

Tough to beat the price-to-quality, bang-for-the-buck rations when expert-approved wines from Andrew Peller are being sold around $8.00.

A dusky Cabernet-styled blend, 50 Peaks Red (666693) $8.10 opens up with some peppery red berry fruit aromas that slide into blackcurrant and end with light notes of  liquorice and sage.

Arguably the Okanagan’s most succesful and dependable red grape, Merlot is the Valley’s red wine workhorse. 50 Peaks Merlot (620054) $8.10 opens up with aromas of white pepper and a whiff of damson plums.

Those same flavours lead the bumbleberry medley that adds intrugue to the sweetly smokey initial impression.

Nobody seems to be willing to tell us quite what goes into 50 Peaks White (83840) $8.10 but this suprisingly richly fruited medium-bodied white blend has the lemon and grapefruit notes most often associated with unoaked Pinot Blanc.

Totally quaffable!

Elsewhere in the wide world of wine, almost equally affordable imported wines seem to be appearing.  Like most ‘Old World’ – European – wines, traditional Spanish wines have evolved to pair well with food.

Both whites and reds have a backbone of refreshing natural acidity and the reds are seldom short of tannin – that peppery ‘grip’ that gets the inside of your cheeks sticking to your teeth.

From Spain and relatively new to British Columbia, the Jana line of wines covers Spanish classics like Tempranillo and Verdejo as well as more modern varieties like Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot – and all bargain-pruiced at $9.00!

Blending traditional and modern Jana Verdejo Sauvignon Blanc (771246) $9.00 has a wisp of chalky minerality that slides into fresh sliced green apple and pear before spritzing up with zingy gooseberry and grassy kiwi fruit. Sweet on that first sip, dry on the finish!

More decidely ‘New World’ Jana Merlot (401729) $9.00 opens up with black cherry notes and romps through raspeberry, plum and prune.

Great weight and body and a touch of old oak in the finish make this a crowd-pleasing Spanish red.

Last but by no means least Opera Prima Brut (862144) $9.50 is without a doubt the most affordable and elegant sparkling Cava from Spain.

Made in the more affordable ‘Charmat’ style, bright pale yellow in the glass, it offers an intense aroma of fresh citrus fruits, an expression of herbs and hints of flower petals. Delicate, elegant, small bubbles caress the palate leaving a dry, smooth finish.

 

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The 38th annual Vancouver International Wine Festival will take place from February 20th-28th  2016.

If you’re still trying to find something for that wine loving friend, tickets to the Vancouver International Wine Festival are the perfect gift. Visit vanwinefest.ca.

 

Reach WineWise by emailing douglas_sloan@yahoo.com

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