Or enjoying a special meal and want a special wine to match it?
Need to impress friends at dinner with your wine choice?
Buying a bottle of wine as a gift for someone important?
The Wine Barbarian Wine Guide is here to help you make that sometimes challenging decision without fear.
Let my years of wine tasting and ongoing intensive research assist you in picking the perfect wine for the occasion.
The wines listed below are a small sample of some of the thousands of great bottles available in British Columbia and elsewhere. And you can find more reviews of wines I've recently enjoyed - or endured! - on this blog.
But the Wine Guide is a quick and easy way to find the wine you need right away.
And I'm always pleased to hear from you - whether you agree completely with my wine picks, aren't so sure or can't believe I'd drink that swill! Let me know and I'll double check to be certain my Wine Guide is doing its job.
The Wine Barbarian - Wine Guide
Our Daily Red
These wines are for everyday consumption – and don’t tell me you are looking at this website if you don’t drink wine regularly! For god’s sake, it’s in the Bible.
Anyway, the wines in this section are affordable - sorry to say but $20 is the new $15 and $15 is the new $10 – and worth every penny of your hard-earned dollar.
They are also food friendly, whether you are ordering in pizza, BBQing up burgers or a steak or boiling up a plate of pasta. And in most cases, these wines are easily outperforming their more expensive shelf-mates at the wine store.
But don’t look here for the ubiquitous Yellow Tail or Little Penguin or other animal farm type offerings – they are fine for what they are but spend your money on something a little more original, more interesting and definitely more tasty!
Château Pesquié - Les Terrasses - France - Côtes du Ventoux 2005-06 - $16.99
One of the best red wines available in BC and at an extremely reasonable price, Chateau Pesquie’s 2005 received an incredible 92 points out of 100 rating from the dean of wine writers Robert Parker in The Wine Advocate. A blend of 70% Grenache and 30% Syrah [shiraz] that shows dark berry fruit, licorice, pepper and spice, this is simply an awesome wine for the money – my first choice for an under $20 red.
Peter Lehmann - Weighbridge Shiraz – Australia – 2005-06 - $15.99
BC is awash with Australian shiraz [syrah] and many are excellent but this is a particularly good value and dependable product. Plum, spice and chocolate combine for a real meal deal.
Finca Flichman – Malbec – Argentina – 2006 - $9.99
It is nearly impossible to find a decent bottle of wine for less than $10 these days but the good folks at Flinca Flichman have done it. You are not getting – nor paying for – a classic Bordeaux at this price but you will find a wine with some fruit, a touch of smoke and spice.
Catena Zapata – Alamos - Malbec – Argentina - 2006 - $17.00
Malbec is a grape that is practically made for steak and this fairly priced Argentian gaucho is ready for the round up. Loads of dark plum fruit with mocha and spice – how can you go wrong? And with the Wine Spectator giving it a powerful 87 point score you know it’s not just my opinion.
Carmen – Cabernet Sauvignon – Chile – 2006 - $14.00
You can’t list red wines without a cabernet sauvignon, the king of varietal red grapes, and this Carmen offering is about as good as you can find for the price of $14. The 2005 vintage gained an impressive 87 point rating from the Wine Spectator and this year’s model should do equally well, with blackberry, cherry and cassis in an easy drinking style. Carmen is my favourite Chilean winery for decent priced bottles.
Undurraga – Pinot Noir Reserva – Chile – 2007 - $15.99
What kind of a wine guide doesn’t have a pinot noir? Not any I care to read. This Chilean pinot has velvety cherry fruit and pairs well with salmon – yes, red wine with fish – or lighter meats.
For those days when you’re tired of having your tongue beat up by Aussie shiraz and fat cabs, this is a pleasant change.
Hogue Cabernet-Merlot – Washington, USA – 2005 ??? - $14.99
One of the best values in red wines comes from just south of the border – where it isn’t a best value, it’s a steal at less than $10 – the Hogue cabernet-merlot blend. Even at Canadian prices this is a worthy bottle, with cherry-berry essence that is ready for whatever red meat or pasta you are cooking up.
This is a fantastic wine with intense flavours that just won't quit. It's like drinking a blackberry patch to me but the Altos winemakers say plum, marasca cherry and hints of spice. Who cares? It's absolutely delicious.
Everyday wines are great but there are times when you just have to have something better – a wine that leaves you saying: “Damn! I wish I were rich! Then I’d drink this every day!” Or at least when you finish the bottle there’s a hint of a tear in your eye, because it was that good and there’s no more.
Whether it’s a special event with your loved ones, celebrating a big achievement or some good luck or having the boss over for dinner, these wines are guaranteed to impress you and your drinking partners – even if they don’t have a clue about good wine.
Enjoy them – you paid for it!
Mollydooker - The Boxer Shiraz – Australia – 2006 - $34.99
If you like them big, bold and bodacious, this premium product from instant success Mollydooker fills the bill. A huge shiraz with an equally massive alcohol content of 16% - yes, that’s right – The Boxer is indeed a knockout wine. Lots of ripe dark fruit, spice and a right hook to put you out of your misery.
Altos - Los Hormigas - Malbec Reserva 2006 - Mendoza - Argentina $32.97
Incredible value for this price. Altos Los Hormigas is Spanish for "ant heights" and the winery has made the hard-working ant is good luck charm. The Wine Spectator gives this 92 points and a Highly Recommended special designation - so do I.