My 5 favourite wines right now

As we embark on 2012 I wanted to write a post to mark a moment in time.  Today is January 3rd and as of today I wanted to share my 5 favourite wines as we head into the New Year.  No doubt these are bound to change, probably endlessly as the year goes on.

However these are not just the 5 wines I think are the best.  It would be easy to suggest some of the more expensive wines I have tried or some that are more renowned.  It would also be easy to suggest some of the wines you can only get at the winery or some that are extremely rare.  But in deciding my 5 favourites right now I have tried to consider everything from taste to availability and value for your dollar.  So I hope you consider a few of these the next time your are having a tough time in the LCBO.  These are in no particular order.

1. Mud House Pinot Noir, Central Otago, New Zealand – LCBO #190462 – $17.95
I first tried this at the 2011 Gourmet Food and Wine show in Toronto and it recently became a general list at the LCBO.  New Zealand has been gaining worldwide prominence for their Sauvignon Blanc’s from Marlborough, but more and more you can expect to be hearing about the Pinot’s from Central Otago.  This particular Pinot has elegance well beyond it’s price point but is still very fruit forward allowing you to enjoy it right now or even let it cellar for a couple years.  It’s well balanced with good acidity and as with the best Pinot’s out there you can pair it with a wide variety of foods.

2. 2009 Acacia Chardonnay, Carneros, California – LCBO Vintage #80556 – $27.95
At $27.95 this is the most expensive wine on my list and even beyond what I would spend on wine regularly.  But I confess I recently sprung for two bottles after sampling this in my WSET advanced course.  This wine is worth the price and could hold up to some of the best chardonnays out there.  However this is not Chablis and you better like oaked chard’s otherwise proceed to #3.  The oak is infused extremely well however and is balanced by a variety of fruit.  Carneros has become extremely well known as California’s premier region for chardonnay and this particular wine is at the top of it’s class.

3. Castillo de Monseran, Garnacha, Spain – LCBO #73395 – $8.95
I have tweeted pretty excessively about this wine as it is the best value you are going to get at the LCBO in my opinion.  Wine under $10 in Ontario is a steal, hence the recent popularity of the Fuzion wines from Argentina.  The difference is this wine is great.  You will see “Garnacha” on the label but that is nothing more than Grenache in Spain.  This wine is all fruit with ripe cherry and strawberry standing out.  Take this to your next party or get together or to impress your friends and they will never guess you paid so little for it.

4. Catena Malbec, Mendoza, Argentina – LCBO Vintages #478727 – $19.95
Malbec is my favourite grape variety right now and thus one had to make the list.  The Mendoza region in Argentina produces the finest Malbec’s in the world and the Catena producer is one of the best in all of Argentina.  While most of Catena’s wines are high priced (see Vintages #’s 982355, 132340, 170035 – $49.95, $79.00, & $98.00 respectively) this is their base wine but is still a great representation of the Malbec grape.  After visiting Argentina I have never quite understood why Cabernet Sauvignon has become the classic pairing of wine and steak.  Though it is good, you must pour a Malbec the next time you grill a beautiful steak as they go perfectly together.  In Mendoza they do three things extremely well.  Malbec, Steak and Leather.  Those three things they do as well or better than anywhere else in the world so they know what they’re doing.

5. Perrin Reserve, Cotes Du Rhone, Rhone Valley, France – LCBO Vintages #363457 – $14.95
This should become a go to for everybody at $14.95.  The Rhone valley offers some of the best value in all of France and this is no exception.   Though Perrin and Fils is a gigantic producer of all types of wine this remains a great choice.  Primarily a blend of Syrah and Grenache this is a big wine but is extremely smooth with black cherry fruit well showcased.  Another wine you can use to impress at your next dinner party which will pair well with most any meat.

I appreciate that wine is extremely subjective so comments and feedback are strongly encouraged.  I would also love to hear about and try your favourites as I am sure there are many I have left off the list or even forgotten about all together.  But these wines jump to the top of my mind as of today so the next time you are struggling to find a wine to try I hope this helps you narrow it down.

– Mark
Follow me on Twitter: @towineman 

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