The World’s Best Bargain Wines

31 Dec

I made a long list of resolutions earlier this week with huge goals for every area of my life, but then today a friend shared the quote below, and it made me rethink the extreme life make-over.

“So many conditions of happiness are available–more than enough for you to be happy right now. You don’t have to run into the future in order to get more.”

–Thich Nhat Hanh

So true! I’ve been feeling very peaceful and happy these last few days thanks to setting aside work, slowing down and enjoying a whole lot of sofa time. I’ve been watching soppy movies such as The Notebook, YouTubing cute stuff and curling up with great books such as Unquenchable: A Tipsy Quest for the World’s Best Bargain Wines, by Natalie MacLean.

While you’re probably already aware of the appeal of The Notebook (the portrayal of true love that lasts forever and the young Ryan Gosling acting without a shirt), you may not be familiar yet with Unquenchable–it just came out.

This book will make you feel warm and fuzzy in its own way, by steering you toward low-priced yet high quality booze.

In between cage diving with South African sharks, touring vines with a rosé-guzzling French mule and peeling potatoes with a Canadian special effects producer-turned-organic wine maker, MacLean visits some of the world’s most acclaimed wineries and takes notes on the best deals in everything from Shiraz to Pinot Noir to Port. She highlights one region per chapter, offers excellent “wine cheapskate” tips and suggests dishes to wash down with the local wares.

I love MacLean’s lively writing and accessible wine notes, and I’m thrilled that she has been kind enough to offer her 2012 wine recommendations for this blog. There’s no bottle over $20 in her list and there are even a few for under ten bucks.

Just before we get to the wine, I’d like to wish you a wonderful New Year filled with appreciation for the good things you already have and marked by good times with the people you love. Oh, and may there be plenty delicious food and drink in the mix too.


Top 5 Wines to Toast 2012
By Natalie MacLean

My resolution in 2012 is to drink more wines that are both affordable and delicious. We don’t have to give up great taste with an inexpensive price-tag. Here are five wines that offer that proof in the glass.

2011 Obikwa Sauvignon Blanc, South Africa: Dependably delicious year after year at a that-must-be-a-typo price. Refreshingly herbal and grassy with a spike of lime lighting up the middle. Terrific. Pair with: fish, salads, light poultry dishes. $8.95  Score: 88/100.                                                                                     

2009 Trius Sauvignon Blanc, Hillebrand Winery, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario: Terrific mouth-watering flavours of ripe green melon and grapefruit. Ultra-refreshing and perfect for salads, seafood and book club gatherings. $14.05  Score: 87/100.

2010 François Lurton Pinot Gris, Argentina: Lovely white peach aromas in this pinot gris. Remarkable quality for the price point. Zippy notes of citrus zest make it a great aperitif or companion to many dishes. Pair with: roasted chicken, pasta with a light cream sauce and movie night. $11.95  Score: 88/100.

2010 Caliterra Cabernet Sauvignon, Chile: This supple, rich, full-bodied red is mostly Cabernet Sauvignon but there are also some Shiraz and Malbec grapes in the blend. Aromas of cocoa and cassis seduce the senses. Pair with hearty meat dishes and cold winter nights when you’re glad to be inside by the fire. $8.95  Score: 88/100.

2009 Ganton & Larsen Propect Winery Pinot Noir, Okanagan, BC: Medium-bodied, supple and juicy. Fleshy aromas of cherry, but not sweet… terrific balance and mouth-watering acidity for food. There’s a zesty bright red fruit note on the finish that leaves you wanting more … please! Pair with:  seared rare tuna, herbed roasted pork loin and that novel you’ve been wanting to read. $17.99  Score: 89/100.

For more of Natalie’s wine picks and pairings, visit




One Response to “The World’s Best Bargain Wines”

  1. signe December 31st, 2011 at 3:48 PM #

    Loved this book, too! Natalie is sooo approachable and human – no snobby wine crapola here!

    As for The Notebook, can’t watch it anymore…not since the love of my left me to go back to his wife and told me; “I want our story to be like The Notebook.” Translation: when his kid grows up and he’s done with the wifie, we’ll find each other again. Uhg! Pass the wine!!!

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