Fabulous February Wine Picks

7858376214_a0c50318d6I’m always looking for great wines under $20 – something that can help me get the weekend off to a good start – but also doesn’t put a huge dent in the budget.

So on a particularly stressful day recently  when I wanted to transport myself  into the closest LCBO to buy and fly,   I decided to cosy up to the tasting bar at Queen’s Quay – one of my favourite 10-minute adventures. A tasting bar is basically a wall of opportunity. You can taste wines that you can’t afford, and even in that one ounce sip – you can recognize greatness. But the more practical reason, you can avoid post-corking disappointment when you try before you buy.

This week’s list featured some of the finest Super Tuscans, some of BC’s best offerings and French wines that are in a stratosphere way beyond my pay scale. There were six that fit my under $20 criteria. You can taste 4 x 1/2oz or 2 x 1 oz.

For this week’s wine picks I included two wines not on the tasting menu that I highly recommend: one under  $20 and one splurge that curled my toes.

valdivieso Valdivieso Single Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 Maipo Valley

The LCBO description describes this wine as a juicy and ripe with notes of vanilla, blackberry and woodsmoke. One slurp and I didn’t need more convincing. Now, I will admit that I have not been a big fan of most Chilean- but if this Cab at this price is an example of what is coming out of the Maipo Valley today – I will go back for more. LCBO $19.95

Borsao Tres Picos Garnacha 2010 Spain

Full-bodied, black cherries and spice with strong vanilla notes – the rich dark ruby colour has been compared with wines from Northern Rhone. Uber critic Robert Parker went a step further and called it the winery’s “interpretation of Chateauneuf du Pape” but at a non-Chateau price. LCBO $19.95

Pinotage The Grinder 2011 WO, Swartland, South Africa 

 the grinderPinotage is South Africa’s signature grape – a cross between Pinot Noir and Cinsault (my Wines 2 teacher would be so proud). In can be the best or worst of wines – at worst it has an overiding scent of burnt rubber, at best rich coffee and dark chocolate. Enter The Grinder. It is a good example of a quality Pinotage – meaty and mocha – perfect to pair with a rich stew. And at $13.95 a bottle at the LCBO, you can’t go wrong.




Virgen Del Aguila Artigazo 2007 artigazo

I mentioned this last week when I tried it at the tasting bar, but now that I have had a full bottle, I am giving it another shout out. This juicy wine from DO Carinena – just south of Rioja region is a blend of 40% Garnacha, 30% Syrah and 30% Cabernet SauvignonLCBO $18.95.




Bonus Tracks:  Vinaceous! Raconteur Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 Barossa Valley South Australia

Tell Me About It!

This Barossa Valley Cab is one for the road – get it out of the store and into your glass. It’s big and fruity and lush with black cherry and cassis notes. I love the Aussie labels. The web site is absolutely stunning and while it says you can hold on to it for 10 years. I don’t know how or why you would wait that long.  It is rich and smooth, very well-balanced. LCBO $19.95




The Big Splurge: Mastrojanni San Pio 2008 IGT Tuscany, Italy

Some of the best wine discoveries I have ever made are completely random. In this case Isan pio was reading a Globe and Mail article by Eric Reguly about the head of the Illy Coffee dynasty and how they shared a glass of wine (who says you can’t mix business and pleasure?). The wine came from Mastrojanni – a winery owned by the Illy family. Later that day in the LCBO I see a bottle of Mastrojanni San Pio 2008 and thought I deserved a splurge. I decanted. I sniffed. I savoured. I loved. It is a blend of 80% Cabernet Sauvignon and 20% Sangiovese Grosso – the grape that creates the magic that is Brunello. It is 14% alcohol but so balanced, so smooth, it is simply superb. LCBO $30.95

 Enjoy the picks for next weekend and if you have tasted something that has you going back for more, let us know!

3 thoughts on “Fabulous February Wine Picks”

  1. I also tried the Artigazo this week and it had a rich smoky,fruity, taste and paired it with a Margherita pizza. We finished the delicious wine before we got to the last slice! Terrific weekend wine pick!

  2. Both the raconteur and valdieso are part of lcbo’s bin rack sale this week. Raconteur 5 dollars off and valdieso 4 dollars off! I’m sipping on a glass if the raconteur right now … A steal at 14.50!!!! Got them both at king and spadina!! There are a crapload of steals in the vintages section!!!