Ask Chuck

Location: Whitby, Ontario, Canada

Born in Malta but in Canada since age 5. Has written three books and presently does several columns about wine and food for various magazines.

Saturday, March 7, 2020

Excellent Wine Does Not Need To Be Expensive: Chuck Byers' Wine Picks

Rating Wine
Obviously the rating of wine is  very subjective! In a nutshell one either likes a wine or not regardless of price, origin, winemaker or whatever  "expert" opinions. However, we humans need to go beyond the actual "liking" and tackle the "why" to the liking.
Rating Scales
Beyond the "I like it" approach there have been many attempts to rate the organoleptic qualities of a wine. Various scales from the use of "star", "bottle" and "glass"  caricatures to rate a wine from a 20 point scale to a 100 points.The more popular seems to be the the 100 point scale  by magazines such as the Wine Spectator and Wine Advocate. For purpose of my rating of wine I have opted to use the latter rating system. Wine which I truly do not feel measures up will never be mentioned.
100-Point Scale
The highest level of course would be a score of 95 to 100 points out of the 100. This wine would be a classic wine with all the measurable attributes to expression of place, depth, potential and of course levels of evolvement in both glass and mouth. A truly great wine. You might call it the "WOW" factor on first smell and taste!  90 to 94 would be one that is clearly superior to other wines tasted with a description of "wow" with slightly smaller letters. 85 to 89 would result in a "Hey! This is good stuff! I think I'll get a case for future drinking ! 80 to 84 comes across as "Nice, good wine---I'll keep an eye out for it for dinner!"  75 to 79 expresses "Yeah, good enough for our purpose! but could be better!" Finally 50 to 74---"Let's find something else!"  You will never see me use the last two descriptions in print!   
Having said that, yesterday I tasted some wines that basically "blew me away" in quality and price/quality ratio!
Arché Fiano IGT: Rating: 94      Price: $11.95     Release Date: April/May at LCBO  
            The Fiano Di Avellino grape is the most planted white grape variety in the Italian Province of Puglia. This wine by the Arché Winery  represents great value in price/quality ration. It is refreshing and full of life with apple, pear, peach and citrus flavours with a mineral background. Perfect on its own, it will shine with light meat such as antipasti, fish and  seafood salad. A wine that gives you the feeling of luxury without breaking the bank!    
  Angove Organic Chardonnay:   Rating 90     Price:$15.95     LCBO: # 553859                  
 A very nice medium bodied and certified fully organic  Southern Australian with   flowers,cirrus lemon,  vanilla oak and peach. flavours and  a pleasant smooth finish. Ideal with roast chicken, roast pork, baked salmon.     
    Angove Organic Cabernet Sauvignon :  Rating:91  Price:$16.00    LCBO #  464743     
 Another Organic great from South Australia. This full bodied very dark wine is filled with luscious black fruit (Dark Cherry, Plum, Currant) flavours  with chocolate and herbs thrown in leading to a herbaceous and earthy finish. This wine is made for venison, roast beef or grilled steak                         Angove Family Crest: Rating 96       Price: 21.95       Vintages #534750
A superb wine at a superb price considering quality! This is a dark fruit/dark chocolate wine with multiples of spice chewy on the palate with one tremendous mouth feel. Big and round! The finish goes on and on evolving within the mouth. Definitely a wine that fits a fine venison or wild duck. McLaren Vale in Australia got this one right! 
Caparzzo Toscana  Rating 92   Price: $11.95     LCBO # 361022                                
A gorgeous medium bodied Sangiovese wine with herbs, tobacco, ripe red fruit, and earth flavours. Excellent finish that lasts elegantly. Great value for such a good wine. Great with  Pizza, beef, pasta with red sauce! A wine that can be enjoyed alone or with the food suggested. Very approachable!      Weinert Carrasal Malbec Rating 93    Price: $22.74    Available via Consignment*    
 Weinert is a legend in Argentina and malbec has risen to amazing heights in that country. This 100 percent malbec offers flavours of plum, black cherry, vanilla wood, with nuances of fig and cedar. The finish is long enough to promise further development. A truly super wine with beef, game or pork at a seriously affordable price.       
  Botter Prosecco Sparkling  Rating: 93      Price:$15.95        Release: April/May LCBO     A light and lively Prosecco filled with zesty bubbles. Very flavourful with biscuit, pear, green apple and citrus lemon on both nose and palate. Refreshing and smooth  with some bitter almond/hazel nut on finish. The wine is definitely a great alternative to sparkling wine at three times the price. Have with Vegan dishes, fish and light meat!
The above wines make it clear that in this day and age one does not need to dig deep in his or her pocket to enjoy a classy wine. 
 *Available through consignment via The Case for Wine Agency (416) 482-0241                                                                                                   

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