Wines Under $12

Familia Zuccardi Fuzion Chenin Torrrontés
$8.99  |  specialty listing
Summer lunches on the patio call for cool, refreshing whites that don’t get in the way of the food or the conversation. This blend of Chenin Blanc and Argentina’s signature white grape Torrontés is aromatic and floral. Big, exotic fruit flavours with a streak of lime acidity make it all too easy to drink with a salad fresh from the garden. Even better value than the Fuzion Shiraz Malbec, it’s not difficult to get through a couple of cases over the summer, but at this price you can afford to be generous. Chill it well.

Castillo de Monséran Cariñena Garnacha
$9.99  |  specialty listing
Spain’s a treasure trove of consistent $10 bargains. There’s the Castaño Monastrell, the La Casona, and the Marqués de Rojas. Year by year, though, the Castillo de Monséran tops our list of cheap and cheerful reds. Made from Garnacha—or Grenache—in the scorching region of Cariñena between Madrid and the Mediterranean, it’s a black cherry/raspberry blast stiffened with savoury spice and leather. In summer chill it in the fridge for half an hour and drink it with Thai beef salad or anything from the grill. In winter, it’s made for hearty stews and braises.

Obikwa Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc 2009
$9.99  |  specialty listing
The Kiwis introduced us to Sauvignon Blanc, but South Africa (and Chile) are stealing the market with bargain values that deliver tons of zesty, zippy flavour and a more rounded profile. Ten bucks is never going to deliver a whole lot of complexity, but who’s complaining when the wine is this crisp, clean, and fresh, with that characteristic greeny, herbal, briny Sauvignon taste mellowed with a bit of tropical fruit.  At this price you can buy it by the case, keep it handy in the fridge for an after-work glass or make an irresistible pairing with a bucket of mussels, garlic, and parsley.

35° Parallelo Primitivo del Salento 2009

$9.99  |  specialty listing
I first tried this with Peter Zambri’s sophisticated but lusty country cooking in Victoria, and it’s become a favourite under-$10 bargain. A Primitivo from Puglia (an up-and-coming, but still remote wine region on the heel of the Italian boot), it has the typical rustic flavours of sun-baked prune and plum, but also the bright raspberry fruit that’s the hallmark of modern hot-climate winemaking. Clean, simple, and delicious, full of character, this Primitivo’s just right with a burger, a pizza, or an everyday pasta—with tomato sauce or without.

Casal Garcia Vinho Verde n/v
$10.99  |  general listing
There’s a trick to Vinho Verde. Generally it’s non-vintage, but the label on the back tells you when it was bottled. Go for the most recent. And then think of smoky, seductive sardines on the barbecue with lots of lemon. And sun, sea, and sand. With an attractive price, low alcohol, and a little bit of spritz, there’s no better wine for lazy days—or for pork and clams with lots of cilantro.