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All I want for Christmas is 5 good under-$20 wines

December 11, 2017

Two reds, two whites and a sparkling wine in a pear tree — great value wines for your holiday feasting and treating

By Dick Snyder

Perhaps it’s a bit too early for New Year’s resolutions, but how about this one: Try one new wine a week. If you need to get out of your wine rut, we have some suggestions gleaned from many (many) tasting sessions at DTO headquarters. Here are just a few wines that’ll surprise you with their personality and nice price. What have you got to lose? Give these wines a whirl. Worst case: If you don’t like a wine, so just go ahead and return it (yes, you can return a bottle to the LCBO just because you don’t like it and they will refund your money—that’s the best thing about the LCBO!). But the best case is… you will fall in love with one (or more, and that’s ok) of these beauties and now have a new bottle to look forward to next time you hit the boozer. That’s a pretty good deal. [Note: These wines were originally reviewed at kwaf.ca. Links to the full notes are provided below. Prices may have fluctuated somewhat since the original posting and in some cases a newer vintage is now available.]

RED WINES

Julián Chivite 2012 Gran Feudo Reserva
Navarra, Spain
$17.95 [LCBO 479014]
Anyone I know who has ever tasted this wine just loves it. It’s juicy, deep, dark and delicious. It’s super dry but generous in fruit, with lots of cherry, plum, blackberry and a bit of vanilla, plus smoke and earth. It’s Tempranillo, but with some Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot to add some structure and colour. Great with charcuterie or grilled lamb, juicy burgers, empanadas, and assorted grilled meats. (And yes, it is five years old—such great value in an aged wine!) [See original kwaf.ca review.]

Chateau Fongaban 2014 Castillon
Bordeaux, France
$16.95 [LCBO 479832]
Good Bordeaux at a price like this—and it’s organic? Superb. Lots of soft dark fruits here, courtesy of a nice dose of Merlot bolstered by some Cabernet Franc. Expect blackberries, plum, cherry and the like, along with soft leather and a little bit of delicious earth and a titch of vanilla (sweet oak, but not too much of it). A lovely winter wine for your seasonal roast beasts and fatty meat things (pace, Grinch!). [See original kwaf.ca review.]

WHITE WINES

Columbia Crest 2015 Chardonnay Grand Estates
Washington, USA

$18 [LCBO 462846]
If you’ve never been to Washington for wine, you’re in for a treat. Washington plays in the same “cool climate” zone that we enjoy here in Ontario. This Chard is a biggie, though, more reminiscent of a California fruit bomb with lots of sweet spice, vanilla and burnt marshmallow (seriously, and it’s delish!). Great for sipping by the ol’ Yule log this Christmas. Nice with turkey too, or buttered popcorn. It’s big, but finessed. [See original kwaf.ca review.]

KWV The Vinecrafter 2017 Chenin Blanc
South Africa

$9.95 [LCBO 18689]
Chenin Blanc is a delicious white grape most famously connected to the Loire region of France as well as South Africa, where they call it Steen. This is a nice, crisp and dry version, a lovely aperitif or match with delicate starters like smoked salmon or trout, ceviche or little fried finger foods. Good too with a roast bird. Very pretty nose of white flowers, tree fruit and a light hint of citrus. Fresh and refreshing, medium in body with more flavours of tree fruit, tangerine and lemon, and apple. Give it a whirl this holiday instead of the usual Chardonnay (not that we have anything against Chardonnay). [See original kwaf.ca review.]

SPARKLING WINES

Codorniu Seleccion Raventos Pinot Noir Sparkling
Penedès, Spain
$16 [LCBO 370080]
Bubbles for life! Seriously, pink sparkling is my desert island wine of choice. And Cava is, hands down, the best value in sparkling wine. This delightful pinko from Codorniu is all about cherries and strawberries. Serve it well chilled, and it’ll be the belle of your xmas ball. Goes great with fish tacos, empanadas, pork rillettes, popcorn, grilled cheese, grilled pork tenderloin, wild salmon. Or leave out a glass for Santa—he’ll dig it. [See original kwaf.ca review.]