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The Artist Series of reserve white wines from Calona gives the lie to those who say there are no good B.C. wines under $15 anymore. The Sovereign Opal is unique to B.C. and luscious, too, but the Pinot Blanc is easier to find. For bargain hunters, Pinot Blanc is always priced lower than either Chardonnay or Pinot Gris, and it’s shaping up to be the most successful white grape in B.C. The Artist has no oak but lots of lively fruit, all pears, quince, and pineapple—a wine that’s ready to go with just about anything.
Delicious juice from an ancient family estate outside Nîmes where the Languedoc butts up against the Rhône Valley. A 50/50 blend of Grenache and Syrah, it starts out bright and perfumed with lots of plum, and finishes with an attractive dustiness, all dried herbs, smoke, and spice. Ripe and ready for immediate drinking (and under screwcap), it delivers true Southern Rhône flavours at a very appealing price. Perfect for the barbecue.
Rosé has finally taken off in Vancouver, to the point where we drink it not just in summer but in November and January too. La Vieille Ferme has a lot to do with that success. The Perrin family of the famed Château de Beaucastel who make it are a powerhouse in the Rhône Valley—they consistently overdeliver on quality no matter the price range. A shocking, even lurid, pink, this rosé—with its mouthwatering fruit salad of raspberry and water-melon—will go with everything Mediterranean, including grilled lamb chops.
It’s always a thrill to find a drinkable wine for under $10. This one came our way at Zambri’s in Victoria, where it’s one of the house wines. From the ever-improving heel of the Italian boot, this Primitivo from Puglia has some of the characteristic rustic prune and baked-plum flavours of this hot region, but also some unusually bright raspberry and cherry fruit. Clean, simple, and delicious, it’s just right with a burger, a pizza, or an everyday pasta—with tomato sauce or without.
Fair-trade wine is still new to Vancouver. Winds of Change from South Africa is just one of a number of wineries that want to appeal to the conscience as well as the palate. It’s organic, it’s ethically produced with the cooperation of Black Economic Empowerment, and it tastes pretty good, too. An odd blend of South Africa’s traditional Pinotage with its more fashionable rival, it’s appealingly fruity but grounded with a barnyard earthiness that makes it just right for the grill.