Keeping wine under $10…

Some recommendations from our wine columnist about how to be frugal with your wine choices

Moving out of the Gifting-Season and into the Bill-Paying-Season an inexpensive glass of wine can help cure what ails your budget… or at least make it easier to take.

Of course, inexpensive wines don’t get much respect from professional wine critics. Are there even grapes involved in making them, they ask sarcastically?

As much as critics ignore these wines, everyday wine lovers buy them for their affordability and sometimes simply appreciate their attitude. And some of these wines have attitudes!

An excellent example of attitude, the “Screw it!” Range of wines was clearly designed for the busy gal. In their own words: “Put aside your to-do list and treat yourself. Time to tune out the stress and turn up the wine.”

So just where are these grapes grown? “Our wines are blended in BC from great quality grapes to deliver a smooth taste in every sip. We do the work, so you don’t have to.” So anywhere, really…

Some of these sassy wines are extremely affordable right now. Screw it! Pinot Grigio (272583) $6.99 boasts ripe peach and citrus aromas in a light, crisp white. Screw it! Merlot (310151) $6.99 offers cherries and plums, with hints of chocolate in a fruity finish. Screw it! Shiraz (208801) $6.99 oozes raspberry and black currant flavours with a sprinkling of white pepper.

Given the economies of scale involved in growing wine grapes in the vast mechanically tended vineyards of California’s Central Valley and making wine on an industrial scale, the occasional inexpensive wine can still make it past Canada’s duty and tax tariffs

Colombard is one of the world’s great white blending grapes. In California it is often blended into sun-drenched Chardonnay and Pinot Grigio to add a refreshing natural acidity. Vista Point Pinot Grigio – Colombard (328989) $7.99 is an unassuming white, light and crisp, almost dry. Aromas and flavours of peach, pear and candied lemon rind swirl out of the glass and onto your tongue.

Just as modestly priced, Vista Point Cabernet Sauvignon (5447) $7.99 starts with a surge of sweet cherry and berry flavors on that first sip, enhanced with a wisp of vanilla on the finish. Interestingly enough – from a wine purist’s point of view – these tasty and affordable non-vintage Vista Point wines are not clearly labelled as being “Products of California”!

Bodegas Victorianas is one of 7 different Spanish wineries in Grupo Faustino which is based in Oyón in north eastern Spain. Grupo Faustino will be one of more than 40 Spanish wineries attending Vancouver International Wine Festival, February 24-March 4, 2018. The wines from Vina Losar are among their most affordable.

More savoury in style than lusciously fruity, Vina Losar Viura (36643) $8.99 is a lean, bright wine made from the most widely planted white grape in Rioja. Aromas and flavours of pear and white peach ride a tart base of lemon and fresh crushed almond.

From La Mancha, Vina Losar Tempranillo (585554) $8.99 is a light red full of fresh cherry highlights with interesting vegetal notes of tomato and wet leather. Served with soft white cheeses, it blooms and shows some earthy plum and vanilla flavours. These two inexpensive wines are both vintage dated and labelled as “Product of Spain”.

Viña Maipo was founded in 1948 in Chile’s Maipo Valley, a world-renowned region for producing wines of outstanding quality. Concha y Toro – the largest Chilean wine group – acquired the winery 20 years later. Here, economies of scale combine with lower land costs and less expensive labour to put affordable wine on our shelves.

A blend of 85 per cent Sauvignon Blanc and 15 per cent Chardonnay, Viña Maipo Sauvignon Blanc – Chardonnay (741967) $9.79 marries the gooseberry and kiwi fruit flavours of Sauvignon Blanc with the green apple and peach notes of Chardonnay in an almost off-dry, mouth-filling style.

Viña Maipo Carmenere – Cabernet Sauvignon (119651) $9.79 is a blend of 85 per cent Carmenere and 15 per cent Cabernet Sauvignon. This is a medium-bodied red with earthy, peppery cherry notes from the Carmenere as well as the classic cassis and blackberry aromas and flavours of Cabernet Sauvignon.

While wine professionals and industry experts continue to grapple with the finer points of “terroir” and “natural” and “artisanal” winemaking, it’s reassuring to know there are still affordable alternatives available.

Reach WineWise by emailing douglas_sloan@yahoo.com

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