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)


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