Good Value Wines

By Natalie MacLean Print this page   Send this page to a friend

These are wines widely available in liquor stores, and they represent tremendous value. I’ve categorized them to keep it simple. The prices listed are in Canadian dollars, and based on those at the Liquor Control Board of Ontario. I’ve also included the LCBO’s product numbers. Most of the wines that are available only from the winery will ship to your home, so I’ve noted the phone number so you can call to find out. Look for more wine recommendations under my monthly release notes on the Wine Picks homepage. Periodically, I will add new wines to this list as I discover them. If you have a wine to suggest, please let me know at Also let me know if you’ve noticed a change with those listed here, such as a change in price or availability. Enjoy!

White Wines: Light, Easy Sippers

Hawthorne Gewürztraminer 2000, BC (440685 $13.40): light floral notes, easy drinking, very faint lychee. 85

Harvest Estates Wines 1999 Riesling, Niagara ($8.95): a simple, floral sipper, pleasant on its own or with light fare. (Available only from the winery at 905-682-0080.)

Harbour Estates Riesling ($10.95): Lovely acidity and tree fruit. (Available from the winery 877-439-9463.)

Jackson-Triggs 2001 Dry Riesling ($9.45, 526277): A delightful sipper. (Available in stores and the winery at 905-468-4637.)

Bolla Pinot Grigio, Italy (363622, $9.95) light, easy summer sipper.

Marques de Ballestar Macabeo 2000 (610089, $7.12): terrific value, floral, light and refreshing for summer

Henry of Pelham Sauvignon Blanc, Niagara (430546, $14.95) light, easy summer sipper.

Vina Esmeralda 2000 (165316, $11.45): light, floral, refreshing.

Legends Estate Gewurtraminer 2002 ($12.95, 915306, the winery will ship: 905-563-6500) is a lovely light wine that's true to the exotic lychee nut character of this wine.

Angels Gate Winery Sussreserve Riesling 2002 ($12.95, winery: 905-563-3942) is a refreshing dry riesling, excellent food wine.

Inniskillin Riesling 2002 ($10.45, 083790) surprised me given the price: it's a lovely, easy-drinking white for a summer day.

White Wines: Crisp, Zesty and Flavorful but Not Heavy

Rief Estate Chardonnay, Niagara (127977 $10.95): good acidity for food (seafood especially), mineral and herbal (not buttery), good fruit. 86

Konrad & Co Sauvignon Blanc 2002, New Zealand (616243 $13.95): typical herbal, asparagus character, zesty, great food wine and a steal for NZ SB. 88

Vineland Estates Winery 2000 Semi-Dry Riesling, Niagara ($9.95, 232033): Zesty, with citrus and mineral notes -- lovely balance and an unbeatable price. Excellent food wine.

Konzelmann Wines 2000 Riesling Grand Reserve Classic ($39.95, 605360) with exotic pear and tree fruit, and refreshing acidity -- it would dance with any dish. (Available in stores and from the winery at 905-935-2866.)

Peninsula Ridge Sauvignon Blanc 2001, Niagara ($18.95): Zesty character that’s terrific with food. (From the winery at 905-563-0900 ext. 25)

Oyster Bay Sauvignon Blanc 2002, New Zealand ($17, 316570): Classic herbal zest but not too aggressive. Lovely food wine too.

White Wines: Round, Rich and Full-Bodied

Three Corners Chardonnay 2001, Australia (566596 $9.95): Lovely nose and palate of pears and peaches, buttery but not heavy. 83

Chateau des Charmes St. David's Bench Chardonnay 1997 ($19.95, 430991): Lovely pear fruit with wrapped snuggly in the embrace (not choke-hold) of smoky oak.

Errazuriz Chardonnay Reserve 2002, Chile ($14.95, 550913): Wonderful balance of tropical tree fruit, acidity (good for food) and a kiss of oak.

Penfolds Thomas Hyland Chardonnay ($20, 611228): Nicely balanced, round, oaky, buttery chard.

Xanadu Secession Semillon Chardonnay, Australia ($13.70, 599118): Lovely, full-bodied wine with ripe tree fruit.

Angels Gate Winery Old Vines Chardonnay 2000, Niagara ($23.95, winery) is gorgeous, round and ripe.


EastDell Estates Summer Rosé 2002 (560243, $9.95): generally I'm not a huge fan of rosés so when I taste one that I like, well, that's something. This would make a great picnic or patio wine -- chill it first.

Red Wines: Light and Easy

Chateau des Charmes St. David’s Bench Vineyard Gamay Noir 2000, Ontario ($14.95, 582353. Available from the winery – they will ship to you: 905-262-4219): a happy wine, with joyously ripe cherries. Great for sipping or with cold chicken and pasta. 84

Robert Mondavi Private Selection Pinot Noir 2001, California (465435 $19.95): very easy drinking, sweet ripe cherries. 86

Ninth Island Pinot Noir 2000, Tasmania, Australia (595124 $19.95): another lovely pinot with ripe sweet cherries and a velvet caress. 80

Mission Hill Pinot Noir 2000, BC (118844 $12.95): a steal for pinot which, by its fickle nature is difficult to grow and therefore expensive. This pinot has bright candied cherry fruit and beautiful acidity, a summer red. 87

Georges duBeouf Beaujolais ($10.40, 212480): Simple, fruit forward, red cherries.

Amity Vineyards Pinot Noir, Oregon ($17.90, 124594): A beautifully balanced pinot with ripe cherry and earthy notes.

Cave Springs Gamay 2000, Niagara ($11.95, 228569): a light, happy wine that will be perfect for those first spring days on the deck.

Red Wines: Smooth Down the Middle

Penascal-Castilla Y Leon Red 2000, Spain (LCBO# 343434, $8.95): An easy-drinking, rich ripe wine that won’t dent your wallet. Excellent for those of us who love a glass of wine (or two) with weekday meals, and casual weekend dinners.

Egri Bikaver 2000, Hungary ($6.45, product #7203): a simple peppery wine that would be perfect with pepper or grilled steak. 82

Pedras do Monte Castelao 2000, Portugal (565762 $8.95): an incredible value -- juicy, super-ripe cherries, perfect with tomato-sauce dishes. 88

Brusco dei Barbi 2000, Italy (299073 $13.30): a rustic, juicy Italian country wine, ripe and ready. 83

2001 Louis Bernard Cote du Rhone Villages, France ($12.95, 391458): cedar notes and ripe red fruit, easy-drinking, perfect for weekday meals

Dievole Sangiovese 2000, Italy ($11.55, 612705): Velvety smooth, luscious sangiovese.

Mission Hill Merlot 1997, BC ($14.45, 496109): Generous, dark fruit without being overpowering, velvet on the palate

Kittling Ridge Baco Noir 1999, Niagara ($8.95): Dark berries and plums. (From the winery at 905-945-9225)

Henry of Pelham Baco Noir, Niagara ($12.25, 270926): You’ll either love or hate this hybrid grape that gives aromas unlike other reds: exotic dark fruit.

Jackson-Triggs 2000 Proprietor's Reserve Pinot Noir, Niagara (618405, $12.45): If you seek ripe cherries scented with fresh earth. (Available in stores and from the winery at 905-468-4637.)

Inniskillin Montague Estate Pinot Noir 2000 (586404, $24.95, LCBO and Wine Rack stores): medium body, bursting with ripe cherries, smooth as silk.

Berrberana Dragon Tempranillo (550723, $8.95): easy-drinking red.

Osborne Solaz Tempranillo Cabernet Sauvignon 1999 (610188, $9.45): solid, easy-drinking red.

Red Wines: Big and Beautiful

Colio Estate Merlot Reserve, 2000 Ontario ($19.95, product # 500447): one of the best Canadian wines I’ve tasted – the nose is gorgeous with exotic plums, leather, cigar and smoke. It’s the first Ontario merlot to ever win Prestigious Trophy at the Les Citadelles du Vin competition in France. This is the sort of wine you hesitate to tell friends about because you’re rather hoard it for yourself. 97

Columbia Crest 1999 Cabernet Sauvignon, Washington ($15.95 product # 332320): a rich, dark wine that’s smooth on the palate. One of the leading producers in the exciting region of Washington. 88

Yellow Tail Shiraz, Australia ($11.25, product #624544): a generous, ripe, juicy, easy drinking red with no detectable tannins. 85

E&J Gallo of Sonoma Selection Cabernet Sauvignon 1999, California (354274 $19.95): easy-drinking, rich red, ripe but not too heavy. 86

Tarapaca Reserve Carmenere 2002, Chile (602375 $11.95): terrific value, touch tannic, different taste and aroma from merlot (its clonal cousin), experiment. 82

Trinchero Cabernet Sauvignon 1999, California (550558) $18.95: dark fruit, cassis, good with food. 84

Cousino Macul Cabernet Sauvignon Reserva 2000, Chile (212993 $15): an awesome value, lovely rich cassis and currants, gorgeous. 89.5

Beringers Founder's Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2000, California (534263 $19.90): worth every penny, a stunning wine (like a guy wearing a tuxedo at a barbecue = stands out), lovely chocolate aromas, deep, dark and brooding. 90

Konzelmann Wines 1998 Cabernet Merlot Reserve, Niagara ($29.95, 576314): Gorgeous dark fruit and those illusive lead pencil shavings. (Available in stores and from the winery at 905-935-2866.)

Southbrook Cabernet Sauvignon 1999, Niagara ($24.95, #448340): What a delight! Generous, juicy dark fruit, great balance. It's the type of wine that makes you want to have another glass, and then another. (Of course, I'd never be so socially irresponsible as to suggest that you consume the whole bottle yourself, but I will say that when you open this bottle, you'll need to find a friend -- fast.)

Mission Hill Oculus 1999, B.C. ($35): This is truly one of Canada's best red wines: mouth-watering, juicy ripe fruit, full-bodied with balance and a velvet texture -- a hedonist's wine (it's hard not to drink it quickly). You can't get it in the liquor stores, but you can order it directly from Liz Taylor (the sales representative, not the actress) at 613-282-2239.

Rosenblum Zinfandel, California ($19.95, 284653): Black raspberry aromas with cloves and nutmeg. Serve with salmon or tuna steak.

Cline Zinfandel, California ($16.25, 489278): Big, bold zin with lots of dark berry. Try a pepper steak and baked potato.

Black Opal Shiraz, Australia ($14.94, 474163): When you want a whopping big shiraz with loads of ripe black fruit and pepper.

Xanadu Secession Shiraz Cabernet, Australia ($13.70, 598797): Another shiraz whopper with luscious ripe fruit.

Masi Amarone, Italy ($34.05, 317057): A massive wine, with huge black, raisiny fruit.

Hillebrand Cabernet Franc Glenlake Vineyard 1999, Niagara ($40, winery only but they do ship: 800-582-8412): This one surprised me -- it's a stealth wine. It opens up slowly after it's been decanted for an hour or two, and then it's hard to tell it from an excellent Bordeaux. It's got finesse, ripe fruit, structure and good breeding.

Little Boomey Cabernet Sauvignon 2001, Australia ($13.95, 627141) amazing price (I asked my husband to guess how much it cost and he thought $25). Ripe fruit, good balance, delicious!

Mission Hill Cabernet Sauvignon 2000, B.C. ($19.95, 553321): An exceptional wine for the price: balanced and loaded with fruit.

Penfolds Thomas Hyland Shiraz 2000, Australia ($19.95, 611210): Another gorgeous wine, even more fruit-forward and powerful.

Jackson-Triggs Shiraz, Okanagan (593103, $16.95, BC only): beautiful wine for the price, big fruit, full-bodied.

Goundrey Reserve Shiraz 2000, Australia ($17.95, Vintages/Classics catalogue): almost sweet ripe fruit, round and delicious.

Martinez Bujanda Tempranillo 1998 (356089, $13.95): deep, dark, rich wine.

Marques de Riscal Reserva (32656, $19.95): full-bodied, dark fruit, lush.

Sparkling Wine and Champagne

Seaview Brut, Australia ($11.45, 216333): Fresh and lively, one of the best values sparkling wines on the market.

Roederer Estate Brut, California ($33, 294181): One of the best made and best value sparkling wines – delicious ripe fruit and zest.

Veuve Clicquot Brut, Champagne ($52, 563338): Elegant and smooth, best bet among non-vintage champagnes.

Sweet Wines (375 ml half bottles)

Inniskillin Riesling Icewine 1999 ($52): Beautiful pear fruit with great acidity. (Available from the winery at 905-468-2187.)

Cave Spring Cellars Indian Summer Select Late Harvest Riesling 2000, Niagara ($22, 415901): A gorgeous wine with aromas of honey and tangerine.


Graham's 10 Year Tawny Port (206508 $27.95): excellent starter port -- gentle on the palate, caramel warmth and almonds. 88

Delaforce 10 Year Tawny (282392 $12.95): lovely hazelnut and almonds. 86

Taylor Fladgate Late Bottled Vintage 1997 (46946 $17.75): sweet ripe fruit. 89

Warre’s Optima Ten Year Old, Portugal ($20, 566174): Lovely tawny port, not hugely complex, but makes for a wonderful after-dinner sipper.


Osborne Premium Santa Maria Cream Sherry (031120 $10): every time I drink sherry I think, "Why the heck don't I drink more sherry?" Sherry must be THE most under-rated, under-priced, finest wines on the market... this one is sweet and gorgeous with nutty aromas that would simply reduce you to sighs with crème brulee. 88