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MustHaveWines under $20
--  If it is not good enough for my dinner guests, you won't find it here.  --  

Carpineto, Dogajolo 2012 - Tuscany, Italy

One of the best deals going at the LCBO this season.  Cabernet Sauvignon dominates this blend along with Sangiovese to produce a very approachable Tuscan IGT.  I've been enjoying this label for years and would encourage you to explore the seductive red currant, plum skin, and earthy combination that will play out on the palate as you sip this alongside prosciutto wrapped asparagus and beef tenderloin crostinis – so good!

$14.60  LCBO  #361501
$17.85  SAQ  #978874


Vineland Estates, Elevation St. Urban Vineyard Riesling 2012 - Ontario, Canada

Everything that you hope for in a good bottle of Riesling, and then some. Swirl, sniff, sip, and all that nonsense - but with each delicate gulp, let the complexity of this wine linger before you go at it again. I get spicy lime creamsicle (if such a thing exists). Very well crafted and deserving of 91points! 

$19.95  LCBO #38117


La Vieille Ferme, Cotes du Ventoux 2013 - Rhône, France

I'll bet that this southern French blend will become your new go-to house red; totally non-assuming and unexpectantly addicting. Medium to full bodied with loads of spiced plum and ripe red fruit, plus hints of earthy leather goodness, and a clean streak that will make you pucker before the next sip. Just in case someone asks, in the pot, they've combined Grenache, Syrah, Carignan, and Cinsault.  

$11.90  LCBO #263640
$14.75  SAQ #263640
$12.99  BC Liquor #263640


Beni di Batasiolo, 2010 Langhe Rosso - Italy

Getting a touch hard to come by in Ontario, but still lots in Quebec -- if you are fortunate to find a few bottles, this little Italian number is sensational! Layer upon layer of aroma and flavour define this old-world Piedmont blend of Dolcetto, Barbera, and Nebbiolo. Enticing earthy notes followed by wood smoke, cherry fruit and plum skin. Dusty tannins and a finish that lingers indefinitely - you must try this!

$16.95  LCBO #981019
$17.10  SAQ #611251


Organized Crime, Sauvignon Blanc 2013 - Niagara/Beamsville, Canada

The winery name may be a play on words, but what goes into the bottle is serious business. This Niagara gem offers less tongue-lashing acidity and grassy notes in exchange for a softer, more subtle and rounder, if slightly atypical Sauvignon Blanc character. This is very good and proudly Ontario!

$19.00  LCBO #396275


Anselmi, San Vincenzo 2012 - Veneto, Italy

Aromas of peach, pear and white pepper, this is an Italian white with some body to it. Garganega is the primary white grape in Soave, blended in this example with Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc. Fantastic tastes of tropical fruit, melon, and spioce linger on the finish. I could sip this all day!

$15.95  LCBO #948159
$10.05  SAQ  #10911617


Montecillo, Reserva 2008 - Rioja, Spain

Balance is key here (the wood can overpower) and Montecillo has consitantly achieved harmony in their Rioja Reserva.  Red fruit abounds: raspberry and cherry; a touch of smoke; the oak is present but in no way intrusive; perhaps just a hint of caramel - lovely. The tannins are like velvet with a juicy sweet core and a lingering finish. I’ve paid much more for wine of this quality. 

$18.95 LCBO #621003
$22.60 SAQ #928440


Fontanafredda, Briccotondo Barbera 2012 - Piemonte, Italy

This is an incredible wine to pair with any tomato-based pasta dish. It shows vibrant raspberry and cherry plus just a hint of plum skin tartness and a slight earthy note reminiscent of the old world – a fantastic value. Try it with cesar salad and lasagna.  

$15.95  LCBO #72348
$16.20  SAQ  #11315024


Whitehaven, Sauvignon Blanc 2012 - Marlbororgh, New Zealand

Beautifully crafted new-world Sauvignon -- and the label looks great sitting on the table too.   Expect characteristic aromas of gooseberry, lime, and cut grass; lots of verve on this one, but not over the top, like so many others.  Fantastic with shellfish, or alongside a mixed greens salad as an appetizer.   

$18.95  LCBO #308288
$20.20  SAQ #11905770


Bodegas LAN, Crianza 2010 - Rioja, Spain

Sitting in Cancun, at a table with 3 beer-drinking guys who view wine as something reserved for the ladies in the room, we order a round of tortilla soup to get things started.  I suggest, with a degree of caution, that we order a bottle of Spainish red to go with the soup - they laugh, I persist.  This was the label that I chose and the first of three bottles that night.  I can think of no better wine or style to pair with tomato based dishes, cured meat, or tapas for lunch or dinner - and if you don't like it, your next pint is on me...

$15.95  LCBO #166538
$19.85  SAQ #741108


Fleur du Cap, Chardonnay 2013 - Western Cape, South Africa

ABC (anything but Chardonnay) critics will enjoy this spicy South Africa example of the world's most widely grown white grape. Subtle hints of vanilla with greater amounts of melon, lime, and an in-your-face amount of herbal spice on the finish. This will go great with the turkey feast on Easter weekend. Crack the cap and pour!    

$14.95  LCBO #358960
$13.45  SAQ  #00340406


Mont Gras, Amaral, Sauvignon Blanc 2014 - Valle de Layda, Chile

'Unassuming' is how I would categorize this refreshing Chilean number. Lime and pear prevail, with crisp mineral notes and just a hint of sea salt, which will pair perfectly alongside seafood appetizers over the holidays. This cool climate Sauvignon Blanc is a great precursor to the heavier reds that might follow with the main coarse at dinner.   

$13.85  LCBO #367292
$17.20  SAQ  #11464345


Flat Rock Cellars, Twisted - Niagara, Canada

The ultimate patio wine and all around summer sipper.  The curious blend changes annually and there is no indication on the label as to what went in the pot that year (details are available on Flat Rock's website).  Expect a tongue twisting array of citrus on both the nose and palate - a high quality wine for those focused on the company and conversation rather than all the cork-dork stuff.

$16.95  LCBO #1578


Luccarelli, Primitivo 2013 - Puglia, Italy

Primitivo and the more familiar Zinfandel are exactly the same thing, just in case you were curious.  This example is rich and seductive, showing vibrant black fruit, hints of wood smoke, and just a touch of spice on the finish.  You can sip it solo or pair it with ribs, hot off the grill - either way, for 10 bucks, it'll blow your sandals off. 

$10.40  LCBO #253856