Yalumba's Jane Ferrari: "Vee-ohn-YAY. Once people can say it, they love it", Tim Pawsey photo

This is the time of year when a lot of people who don’t buy wine very often find themselves standing in front of liquor store shelves scratching their heads.

Here’s a grab-bag of good value labels we’ve featured during the past several months as ‘Belly’s Budget Best’ picks in our various columns.  You’ll find everything from inexpensive party sippers to a couple of pretty hefty red meat partners. No real formula here, other than they deliver a decent drop for the dollar.  Value wines from all over. And they’re readily available.

Rather than run just your regular old bottle shot with this post, we’ve chosen somebody who, to us, represents just what ‘approachability’ in wine is really all about. No secret: we’re a big fan of Yalumba’s Jane Ferrari. She who put ‘Vee-ohn-YAY’ on the real person’s wine drinking map…” Once people can say it, they love it,” says Ferrari. So true!

White

• Yalumba ‘Y Series’ Viognier 2008/9

The ‘Y Series’ screwcap that made Viognier synonymous with Yalumba. Honeysuckle, floral and peach aromas on top with a deliciously floral palate and juicy acidity before a lingering, slightly spicy end. Enjoy it with “a big tub of yabbies, right out of the river’, says Jane Ferrari. BCLS $17.99.

• Anakena Single Vineyard Viognier 08

The sequel to last year’s best buy is perfumed and floral with bold acidity and more mineral notes. If anything a slightly leaner though still generous style with appealing stonefruit and citrus notes.  BCLS $16.95 Argentina

• de Bortoli Traminer Riesling

A crowd pleaser, party white: Off-dry, floral and citrus notes, a little soft in the acidity department but at $10.85 who cares?

• Inycon Mandrarossa Fiano 2009

Fiano is one of those sadly all too often unsung Italian varieties. Not any more! Grab this Sicilian, with honey and floral notes on top followed by zesty acidity and a lingering end. A truly different sip and great value at BCLS $13.99 (Specialty)

• Peller Estates Private Reserve Riesling 2009

Petroleum toned, zesty and citrus, no nonsense Riesling delivers great value.  Typically under the radar Peller, it won a BC Lieutenant Governor’s Award for Excellence. BCLS $15.99

• Torres Vina Esmeralda 08

Another easy drinking party drop. Perfumed, aromatic Muscatel-Gewurz blend is juicy and fresh on the palate with citrus and mineral hints, and very food friendly. BCLS $14.49


Rosé

• Quails Gate Rosé 2009.

Made from 100% Estate Grown Gamay. Vibrant red fruit on top with a strawberry toned palate, juicy acidity and a clean, lengthy, vinous end. BCLS, VQA etc $14.99

Sparkling

• Two Oceans Sparkling Sauvignon Blanc

Two Oceans is known for budget basic Cape Sem-Chard and Shiraz but this ‘cheap fizz’ delivers a pleasant surprise that comes with identifiable Sauvignon Blanc character, some tropical notes, and a splash of acidity to wrap things up with a clean finish. $12.99 BCLS, S. Africa

• Segura Viudas Brut Rosé

One of the best value sparklers puts on a pink party frock! Good bubbles, lively and fruity, with raspberry and cherry notes. On special at $13.99 BCLS until Feb 26

Red

• Boekenhoutskloof The Wolftrap 2008

If the name doesn’t quite roll off your tongue, don’t worry, the wine will. This South African blend of Syrah and Mouvedre with a smidgen of Viognier delivers terrific value, a mouth-filling, gently peppery palate with good acidity and firm tannins. A deal at BCLS $14.99

• Chateau Pesquie Terrasses 2008

If you’ve ever read ‘Lettres de Mon Moulin’ you might know that Chateau Pesquie once belonged to celebrated writer Alphone Daudet.  Today it produces well made wines under the Ventoux appellation.  Look for dark berry notes with some peppery notes and firm tannins.  Not complicated but balanced with a touch a spice—perfect for pizza or pasta. BCLS $18.99

• Delas Côtes-du-Rhône Saint Esprit 2007

Well balanced blend of (mainly) Syrah and Grenache (with a little Mouvedre and Carignan). Red berries on top with a medium to full bodied palate of plummy, spice and peppery notes, wrapped in stylish tannins. BCLS $17.99

• Hardys Butcher’s Gold Shiraz Sangiovese ’07

This affordable black cherry toned blend, with an appealing savoury spicy oak streak, yields surprising complexity for BCLS $16.95.

• Legado Munoz Garnacha 2008

A Spanish winter wine to warm both heart and wallet. Juicy on the palate with loads of red berry notes, spices like cloves and coffee, wrapped in food friendly, rustic but polished tannins. Liberty Wines $14.99

• Mont Tauch Fitou ‘Retro’ 2008

Easy drinking blend (Carignan, Grenache, Syrah) adds up to a well balanced, medium bodied red with some bright cherry tones and herbal notes, with a nice savoury streak that goes well with pasta and tomato based sauces. A working wine with a label to match. BCLS $14.99

• Poggio Morino Maremma Toscana Rosso 2007 IGT

Nothing fancy’ but this regional number does deliver a goodly bunch of balanced (not sweet) fruit, dark cherry and grippy but easy tannins—definitely some guts for the bucks. Think pasta and tomato based sauce. BCLS $14.99

• Pascual Toso Cabernet Sauvignon 2008

Argentinian Malbec has been touted as the next Shiraz. However, often as not it’s the Cabernets that get our attention, like this one: loads of black fruit and mocha tones wrapped up in toasty oak with solid but approachable tannins make you want to forage for rib eye and mushrooms and fire up the barbecue. It’s all about value too at BCLS $14.99 Argentina

• Peller Estates Okanagan Valley VQA Pinot Noir 2008

Plush cherry tones with a hint of earthiness and soft tannins make this worth tracking down—and a good match for cranberry sauce. BCLS $18.99

• Porcupine Ridge Syrah 2008

Arguably one of the best Syrah deals going anywhere. Vibrant red fruit in a mouth watering, juicy but structured palate with easy tannins and black pepper spice through the end. Think grilled anything. BCLS  $ 17.99

• Tinhorn Creek Cabernet Franc 2008

Good BC reds for under $20 can be tough to find but Tinhorn winemaker Sandra Oldfield has helped this usually blended variety make a name for itself. Some definite herbal notes, a touch of mocha with a ‘plush ‘n plummy’, structured palate and solid end. BCLS 17.99