Food + Drink

New year bargains in the wine aisles

Our wine writer's picks to chase away the January chill

by MICHAEL PINKUS

Happy January, it’s the start of a new year, yet many of us find ourselves in lockdown with nowhere to go and little to do but drink, eat and watch TV (in no particular order). With that in mind, it would be nice to save a few dollars over the next few weeks, considering all the spending we did last month (speaking for myself of course). Might I humbly offer up these six bargain selections that you can buy in quantity and not feel bad about opening one every day for the next month; your liver may not thank you, but your palate and pocketbook will.


SCORE KEY

Good ★★★ ½

Very Good ★★★★

Excellent ★★★★ ½

Outstanding ★★★★★

+ Wines with a little bit extra.


Chombart & Speck 2018 Cave Mystere Merlot

France, $18.95, Vintages 17232

★★★★

This merlot from Bordeaux is from the Cadillac sub-region and is a project of Chombart (in Bordeaux) and Speck (Henry of Pelham in Ontario). Supple dark fruit: cassis, blackberry balanced with cedar, oak and anise … the fruit is juicy and plump while the acidity keeps it from jumping into the California lane for merlot. Opens quickly and within 20 minutes you get a pretty lush wine. Consume now through 2027.

Errazuriz 2018 MAX (Reserva) Cabernet Sauvignon

Chile, $20.10, LCBO 335174

★★★★

2018 is considered one of the best vintages in a long time in Chile (which is saying something for Chile), where they have great vintages all the time. This might be the best MAX tried to date. Errazuriz changed the name of this wine midway through the 2018 vintage (from Max Reserva) so it may look like a new wine on the shelf.  Dominated by dark fruit with a little floral, some cocoa notes and even a hint of mint. Nice complexity with a long finish.

Calmel & Joseph 2019 Villa Blanche Chardonnay

France, $15.25, LCBO 375071

★★★★

This is one surprising chardonnay. It has all the right notes: creamy mid-palate, lots of butter and apple, a touch of vanilla and even some floral with subtle spice. The acidity wasn’t too in-your-face, but by the time you realize that half the bottle is gone.

Bersano 2017 Barbera D’Asti Costalunga

Italy, $14.30, LCBO 348680 (on sale $2 off till end of January)

★★★★

Red fruit and good acidity with notes of fresh currants and cranberry plus some  spiced sour cherry and pencil shavings. After an hour the red fruit fully exposes itself while the acidity hangs around to keep things fresh and lively.

Villa Wolf 2017 Pinot Noir

Germany, $15.00, LCBO 291971

★★★★ +

Good German pinot noir can hold its own against anybody. Soft and elegant with aromas and flavours of cherry and violet. Beautiful balance with acidity keeps this light and elegant on the finish. Pour this for any pinot-phile and see if they can guess its origin.

Yealands 2020 Sauvignon Blanc

New Zealand, $16.95, LCBO 277731

★★★★ 

Those looking to sip on a sauvignon blanc this winter—there must be some of you— may want to look into this value-priced version. Under $20 sauv blanc usually lacks fruit, but this one doles out plenty of yellow grapefruit and peach, as well as some subtle grassy notes. Super sippable with salad or white seafoods.

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