By Jason Yamasaki for Vancity Buzz
Who says wine has to be expensive to be good? I combed the shelves at the BC Liquor Store (BCLD) to find five value wines under $20 sure to impress even the most discriminating wine lover.
This much beauty and sophistication is seldom found at this price. The value is, in a word, astounding. Quinta do Ameal is an organic estate that is considered among the greatest wineries of Portugal. Their Vinho Verde, at a featherweight 11% alcohol, coaxes you into a seaside state of mind with splashes of citrus grove, ocean air and tidal stones. Buy it by the case to pair with your favourite seafood. Price/availability: $15.29 + Taxes. BCLDB
We all know someone who despises Chardonnay–it may even be you. Pick up a bottle of DMZ and discover why this grape will forever be the varietal of choice for the wine trade. At its greatest, it delivers a harmony of luxurious nuance: vanilla, lemon curd, buttered toast, and salted popcorn. It’s a genuine symphony of flavours, which makes sense considering the estate pipes Baroque music through the vineyards — clearly much to the delight of the fruit. Price/availability: $17.79 + Taxes. BCLDB
The Cabernet Francs from France’s Chinon region are among the best wines to serve with an eclectic meal. The profile here is all about crunchy red berries, herbal singe and distinct smokiness. Founded 14 generations ago, the Raffault estate’s ‘Les Galuches’ is from an ancient riverbed vineyard named after the gravel on the site. Price/availability: $19.29 + Taxes. BCLDB
Of the 70+ Malbecs under $20 in BCLDB stores, this is the one you need to pay attention to. This full-flavoured, dark-toned wine with a natural quench and a juicy minerality surpasses Malbecs sold at three times its price. The Malbec-only Altos Las Hormigas estate in Argentina seeks only the sites and the soil that best reveal the purity of the grape. Their original hunt led them to a site overrun by a colony of ants (the name Altos Las Hormigas translates into ‘Hill of Ants’). Price/availability: $16.99 + Taxes. BCLDB
Forget what you’ve heard about Granny’s sherry. This is the value bottle that you — a modern, wine-savvy gastronome — will serve alongside almond shortbread, fig crackers, and salty cheeses this holiday season. Produced at an historic bodega in southern Spain, warm, burnished flavours of caramel, sea salt, and dried orchard fruit are derived from blending a series of older fortified wine casks to perfectly skirt the line between sweet and dry. Price/availability: $15.69 + Taxes. BCLDB
Jason Yamasaki is the Wine Director at Chambar and was awarded the title of Best Sommelier in B.C. by both the Canadian Association of Professional Sommeliers (CAPS) and the 2015 Vancouver International Wine Festival.