For $5 more, a new world of wine

Paying that little bit extra means better quality and variety — top wines under $20

THERE ARE 2.7 BILLION cases of wine produced every year around the world. What is more significant is that 70 per cent of these wines are sold at less than $10.

If you raise your sights from Fuzion and its ilk (the Argentinian blends at less than $8 flooding the stores) and you are willing to spend more on wine, you will find that there is a great leap forward in quality as you enter the $14 to $20 bracket. With this in mind, I offer you five wines new to our market that will repay in pleasure the extra dollars you’re spending.

Sabor Real Vinas Centenarias Tempranillo 2005 (Toro, Spain, $19.95): The vines from which the grapes were harvested for this wine are more than 100 years old. Toro is a warm growing region, which means high sugar reading that ferments to alcohol.

This wine is 15 per cent. Dense purple in colour, it has a nose of spicy chocolate and blackberries and black cherries. Try it with venison or rich stews.

Waimea Sauvignon Blanc 2008 (Nelson, New Zealand, $17.95): The Nelson region is located in the very north of the South Island.

The weather here is cooler than Marlborough, the spiritual home of Sauvignon Blanc in New Zealand. Light straw in colour, the wine has a bouquet of green plums and nettles. It’s crisply dry with a tart gooseberry flavour and lively acidity, which gives the flavour great length. Match it with goat cheese or seafood salad.

Ringbolt Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 (Western Australia, $19.95): Margaret River is one of my favourite regions in Australia, making elegant, more restrained wines. A beautiful balance of cassis and cedary oak with a core of sweet fruit. What gives this wine distinction is the floral note on the nose and palate. A wine for red meat dishes, simply prepared.

Pala Crabilis Vermentino 2008 (Sardinia, $13.95). If you’ve never tasted a white from the island of Sardinia this bargain wine is a great place to start. The Vermentino grape is a late-ripening grape related to Malvasia. Bright yellow straw in colour, the nose and palate are complex and full on the palate with flavours of lemon oil and peach. The wine has enough concentration to match with lobster or with pork dishes.

Mission Hill Reserve Pinot Gris 2007 (Okanagan Valley, $19.95). We don’t see many B.C. wines in our market. This one is deeply coloured with a peach and vanilla oak nose; it’s full-bodied with a sweet peachy fruit balanced by citrus acidity. Try it with roast chicken.

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