Weekly Wine Picks

During a recent conversation a colleague, we agreed that one of the most difficult challenges for a consumer (or a wine buyer for that matter) in BC is finding wines that stand-out for under $25. In my experience, the regions that produce the most interesting, characterful and food friendly wines in that price category are all located firmly in the Old World. Here’s a selection of ten whites for Foodists that over-deliver for the price:

José Maria da Fonseca ‘Albis’ 2010, Portugal                       $9.99

Its almost impossible to believe that a wine under $10 can have any depth, personality or food friendly appeal, yet this blend of Moscatel & Arinto grapes from the Setúbal Peninsula just south of Lisbon possesses just that. Dry, zippy and aromatic with clean, refreshing fruit, this could happily work with some lightly treated white fish or simple salad. (BC Liquor Stores)

Domaine de Sancet 2010 Côtes de Gascogne, France       $11.99

Gascony in south-west France is currently pumping out some of the best value low cost un-oaked whites on the planet. Sancet is light yet packed with delicious floral & green fruit flavours. It is a blend of mostly Colombard, Ugni Blanc and Gros Manseng grapes and hands down beats any under $15 varietal Sauvignon Blanc I can think of. Imagine drinking it alongside some green-lipped mussels in a Thai flavoured broth. (BC Liquor Stores)

Boutari Kretikos 2010, Greece                                                $12.99

Greece has been undergoing a quiet revolution on the wine front recently and if you haven’t discovered new Greek wine yet, here is the perfect place to start. Poles apart from foul-tasting $10-a-litre Retsina, this crisp un-oaked white hales from the hot, arid island of Crete. Believe it or not, it weighs in with only 12% alcohol but is chock full of citrusy fruit. Made to match with Mediterranean flavours. (BC Liquor Stores)

Cave de Saumur ‘Les Pouches’ 2010 Saumur, France      $17.95

The Loire Valley might just currently be France’s most exciting white wine region with just about everything on our store shelves being interesting and value driven. 2010 ‘Les Pouches’ is one of my favourites with  its  bone dry, mineral & floral accented green fruit perfectly reflecting both Chenin Blanc and the tuffeau soils on which the grapes are grown. Happiness with a tower of seafood! (BC Liquor Stores)

Zinck Pinot Blanc 2009 Alsace, France                                  $17.99

This is a great combination of under-rated grape variety, under-appreciated region, solid producer and a top vintage. The results are precise, expressive fruit showing a surprising depth of creamy apple & pear flavours, a fine balance of all components and persistence in the finish. Delicious & gluggable. Go Alsace! Go Pinot Blanc! Go 2009! With crab cakes. (BC Liquor Stores, Specialty Listing)

Quinta da Cabriz Encruzado 2009 Dâo, Portugal                 $17.99

If you thought that Portugal was only about big reds and cheap rosé  then think again. Portuguese whites have come of age and now offer some of the most interesting flavours around for unbeatable prices. Leading the charge on this front is the Encruzado  grape producing wines with fine texture, weight and balance as in this version from Quinta da Cabriz, an estate located in the Dâo. Full-bodied, round and nutty with restrained oak, subtle fruit, floral and herbal nuances, elegant and long. Grilled tuna steaks should work well. (BC Liquor Stores)

Marotti Campi ‘Luzano’ 2009                                                   $19.99 Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi Classico Superiore, Italy

Verdicchio is one of Italy’s best and most characterful white grapes and its home is the rolling hills of Castelli di Jesi in the Marche on Italy’s Adriatic coast. This version from the family owned Marotti Campi estate in Morro d’Alba is one of the best I’ve tasted and the 2009 vintage is superb, counterpointing dense, round fruit with fresh acidity & light bitter notes. Luzano is food wine par excellence and would work well with tempura, ceviche or similar. (BC Liquor Stores, Specialty Listing)

Louis Latour Grand Ardèche Chardonnay 2007, France   $22.99

From limestone soils in the little known Ardèche region just west of the Rhône Valley, this is the big brother of the more widely available but much simpler un-oaked Chardonnay from Burgundy producer, Louis Latour. The sensitively handled oak and top quality fruit speak to Burgundy and the pedigree here is obvious. The extra few dollars for this wine are truly worth paying and this elegant, complex, full-flavoured Chardonnay is one of the best around for the money. I’d love to drink this with lobster tails in creamy pasta or similar rich seafood. (Selected Private Stores)

William Fèvre 2009 Petit Chablis, France                           $24.99

The 2009 vintage in northern Europe was hailed as a huge success and delivered very ripe, healthy fruit in many regions. In Chablis the results seem variable with some wines not showing a classic terroir driven profile. Not so this Petit Chablis from top producer Fèvre which has it all and  is the finest vintage of this wine I can remember tasting. Lean, green & minerally from fruit sourced on the plateau overlooking the Grand Cru slope. Drink with the usual shellfish suspects.(BC Liquor Stores, Specialty Listing)

Kruger-Rumpf Schiefer Riesling 2009, Germany               $24.99

This is my undisputed top wine of this week’s selection. In honesty I am not usually a big fan of German Riesling, so was taken by complete surprise when I first tasted this as I immediately loved it! Schiefer is from top Nahe winery, Kruger-Rumpf and the name references the slate soils on which the grapes are grown. It does have a perceptible sweetness on the attack but is made in drier style with a concentration of fruit and overall finesse that is impossible to believe at this price. Serious and seriously good wine. Drink with everything! (BC Liquor Stores, Specialty Listing)


6 Responses to “Weekly Wine Picks”

  1. Posted on February 24th, 2012

    I just returned from a week in NYC, followed by a week in Chicago, where the above wines would be half those prices. We regularly drank big reds and complex whites for about $10. How’s that even possible?

    I really think it’s time BC re-think it’s liquor and taxation laws, don’t you?

  2. Posted on February 24th, 2012

    Hey Mark
    Lots of elements at work but essentially the distribution system & market dynamics in certain US states means that retail prices can be much lower than here in BC.

    The distribution system in BC is antiquated and needs reforming as do most of the rules regarding liquor consumption. There are certain issues that I feel need to be pushed like different pricing structure for private retailers & restaurants. However we will never see a reduction in taxation nor will we ever see reduced liquor prices in our lifetime I’m afraid and trying to push for that is a pointless exercise. Our provincial government is in the red and they need to find more ways of getting our hard earned cash and they certainly won’t be giving back any time soon!

  3. Posted on February 29th, 2012

    Mark, nice piece. Thanks. Regardless of our tax issues and limited ability to really bring back any decent quantities of booze from the USA without taxes and duties being slapped on it, these BC available options are a terrific resource. Can’t wait to go try some of them! When is the red list coming? :-)

  4. Posted on March 3rd, 2012

    Thanks for your comments Ben. Red list coming soon!

  5. Posted on March 6th, 2012

    Thanks Mark! I am going to work my way through that list. Seems like a good Tuesday night activity, right?
    Wait. What?

  6. Posted on March 15th, 2012


    Also, our neighbours down south might be in a race to catch up with the level of taxes on our booze. See this article:

    Excerpt: “Twelve states have raised taxes on alcohol or changed alcohol laws to increase revenue, including Maryland, which in July pushed the sales tax on alcohol to 9 percent, from 6 percent — the first such increase in 38 years and one that is expected to bring in $85 million a year.”

    Also, thanks for the list team! Going to try some of these out.

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