Thursday, December 13, 2018

Top 15 Value Wines of the Year

We've selected the top 15 wines for 2018 that we feel represent the best value to the consumer. Though all wines selected are priced at $25 or less, with this list we allowed ourselves to be subjective as to what "value" represents. Prices shown do not include taxes unless marked.

With the rising costs of wine in the BC market, we've had to consider the pre-tax cost of the wine in our (admittedly arbitrary) $25 limit.

#1 - KWV Winery 2015 Cathedral Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon - $14
If you don't like a bit of smoke in your wine then you'll want to steer clear of this Cabernet Sauvignon from KWV whose plummy-chocolate-herbal nose is practically smoldering. The combination carries through to the full-bodied, slightly off-dry palate (to this reviewer's delight).
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#2 - Doña Paula 2016 Estate Malbec - $16
A typical, fruity/juicy/fresh Malbec from the Valle De Uco in the Mendoza, but happily, with some smokey goodness on appealing, blackberry and violet infused nose and with beautifully integrated spice on the lively, black fruit dominant palate. A drink now Malbec, lacking the tannin structure for a long life, but a well balanced, food-friendly wine that would pair nicely with spicy, grilled meats.
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#3 - Chateau D'Aqueria 2016 Rosé - $18
A 'pretty' rosé with an attractive, strawberry-orange colour and an abundance of strawberry-cola and floral aromas on the medium intense nose and a blend of similar flavours with lifted cran-watermelon notes adding freshness to the spice-infused palate.
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#4 - Stag's Hollow Winery 2017 Albariño - $19
Still priced at under $20 and fulfilling that inner desire for something a little different, the Stag's Hollow Albariño is the wine you need tonight. A textural pleasure, this wine is both fleshy and firm with mouth-watering citrus and chubby melon characters coexisting beautifully. Sprinkle in some spice and exotic fruit notes and you have one complex, long-lasting white, perfect on its own or with your favourite white fish dish.
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#5 - Marchesi Antinori 2016 Bramito Chardonnay - $19
Far from a 'showy' or bombastic Chardonnay, Antinori's Bramito, meaning the call of a deer in Italian, is subtle on the pitaya and Meyer lemon scented nose and on the well-balanced, citrus'n'spice kissed, medium-bodied palate where oak and melon flavours play only a supporting role to the leading spice and acidity layers. 
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#6 - Quails' Gate Estate Winery 2017 Chenin Blanc - $18
A consistently well-produced and refreshingly crisp Chenin Blanc, sourced from multiple vineyard sites in the Okanagan Valley, with plenty of texture and layers of stone fruit, lemon grass, minerals, lees and orchard fruit. Again we see 10% Sauvignon Blanc blended in to enhance the nose and citrus elements on the mouth-watering palate. 
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#7 - Chateau Des Charmes 2016 Barrel Fermented Chardonnay - $15
This full-ish bodied, barrel fermented Chardonnay offers great value in this price range for what's in the bottle: nice, green apple acidity enveloped by a toasty blanket of ripe melon and pear, baked lemon and Cracker Jack candied nut flavours. Moderate finish is mostly dry with a touch of lingering spice.
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#8 - SpearHead Winery 2017 White Pinot Noir - $24
A what? A Pinot Noir harvested for its white wine potential from multiple sights in the central Okanagan Valley, carefully pressed to minimize any skin contact producing a brilliant, near-colourless, ultra-aromatic Summer sipper. Full(ish) and rich in texture and depth, yet, very well balanced by fresh apricot acidity. 
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#9 - SpearHead Winery 2017 Riesling - $20
A crisp and raw Riesling with a youthful and masculine bouquet of citrus fruit rinds, peach stones, stainless steel and light, unpasteurized honey aromas. The tart palate offers similar notes showing great consistency from the nose with plenty of tense, lemon/lime and green apple acidity and finishing dry despite the 8g/l of residual sugar. Lingering, lemon thyme and lime zest flavours last through to the next sip.
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#10 - Tinhorn Creek Vineyards 2017 Pinot Gris - $18
The Tinhorn Creek Pinot Gris returns to form for the 2017 vintage featuring a near effortless balance of crisp apple and mineral-y citrus notes with more pungent aromas of ripe Tropical fruits. The palate offers a similar contrast with the textures of these fruits playing off one another elegantly, creating a complex mouthfeel, both vibrant and plump, like a perfectly ripe slice of honeydew melon.
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#11 - SpierHead Winery 2016 Pinot Noir - $24
A bright and joyful Pinot Noir, a blend of multiple vineyard sites, blocks and clones, fruit-forward with raspberry characters dominant; from the sweet juice, to the tangy, fresh acidity and to the woody seeds. Grounded by earthy notes and smooth, lightly smoked tannins.
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#12 - Familia Bastida 2015 Alceo - $15
Not your typical "cheap Spanish Tempranillo" with a lovely, feminine nose of ripe berry fruit and complimentary, light, pipe tobacco and anise aromas. The palate is quite Californian on the entry with a front-loaded, sweet, black and red fruit followed by a wave of earthy spice, leather and American oak flavours which balance the sweetness nicely. 
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#13 - Dominio Del Plata 2016 BenMarco Malbec - $19
A very intense and concentrated Malbec from the Valle De Uco in the Mendoza. Fruit forward, though, with a decidedly acidic direction from the balsamic vinegar notes on the, otherwise, fruity/floral nose, through to the bright blackberry and apple cider flavours on the, otherwise, pepper'n'spice palate. 
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#14 - River Stone Estate Winery 2015 Merlot - $24
A full-bodied, ripe, berry-infused Merlot with a beautiful, feminine profile of spice and incense. Handles its 15% alcohol nicely thanks to the intensity of the fruit and the structure of fine tannins and effortless, blueberry acidity. Ready to go now with many years of life ahead.
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#15 - Fairview Cellars 2017 Gruner Veltliner  - $22
With so few plantings of Gruner Veltliner in BC there isn't much to use by way of comparison for Fairview Cellars' second commercial vintage of the Germanic variety which hails from their Eagle Bluff vineyard towards the McIntyre Bluff in the Southern Okanagan Valley. As Gruner is predominantly grown in Austria and very little of that is exported to Canada, you'll be forgiven if you've never tried it before.
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Liam Carrier ©copyright 2018

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