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12 wines under $10: good, affordable wine is no longer an oxymoron

WHITE

BIG HOUSE WHITE 2009
(California, U.S.)
A sharply reduced price makes one of California’s most amusing whites—a fresh, perfumed, multi-grape blend—a no-brainer for parties (The cost of this wine has increased to over $10 since this article was published.). LBCO 173286

CASAL THAULERO 2009 OSCO PINOT GRIGIO
(Abruzzi, Italy)
Casal Thaulero’s flavourful and refreshing pinot grigio blows away the rest of the Italian competition. LCBO 73163

CONO SUR 2009 RIESLING
(Bío Bío Valley, Chile)
This barely off-dry riesling from a hot new cool-climate wine region in southern Chile combines Niagara-like freshness with Chilean tropicality. LCBO 156653

DUNAVÁR 2008 MUSCAT OTTONEL
(Hungary)
For less than $8, Dunavár makes a fragrant, dry muscat that pairs well with all manner of spicy seafood, steamed mussels, sushi and ginger-accented dishes. LCBO 565812

QUINTA DA AVELEDA 2009 VINHO VERDE
(Vinho Verde, Portugal)
The best vinho verde at the LCBO is a light, zesty, almost spritzy white with a maritime feel. It’s perfect for lively parties that start on the half shell. LCBO 89995

TRAPICHE 2009 ASTICA SAUVIGNON BLANC/SEMILLON
(Cuyo, Argentina)
This bright white blend delivers fantastic richness and freshness for less than $8, highlighting the best of both grapes: sauvignon’s zestiness and sémillon’s savoury green olive flavours. LCBO 359083

RED

BEAULIEU VINEYARD 2007 COASTAL ESTATES CABERNET SAUVIGNON
(California, U.S.)
Another slashed California price reveals a surprisingly ripe, complex cabernet brimming with ripe berry and woodsy notes. LCBO 569871

CASTAÑO 2007 LA CASONA MONASTRELL
(Yecla, Spain)
For oenophiles who like soft, juicy reds brimming with blueberry flavours, Castaño has it all. It’s great with hearty fall and winter fare. LCBO 143743

CONCHA Y TORO 2009 XPLORADOR CARMENERE
(Central Valley, Chile)
Chile’s signature grape usually offers depth beyond its price; this new label captures even more of that classic cassis, mint and chocolate. It’s an easy way to elevate a weeknight meal. LCBO 177816

DROSTDY-HOF 2009 MERLOT
(Western Cape, South Africa)
South African reds generally have great complexity, but Drostdy-Hof takes complexity
to a shocking level for $10 with a tumble of raspberry, herbs and earthiness. It’s outstanding with roast beef. LCBO 345371

FARNESE 2008 NEGROAMARO
(Abruzzi, Italy)
Farnese adds to its string of hearty, smooth and almost sumptuous southern Italian reds with this cherry-scented, lush negroamaro. LCBO 143735

TRAPICHE 2009 SYRAH
(Mendoza, Argentina)
This bargain-priced black syrah captures all the density and ripeness of modern New World syrah-shiraz with a catchy, drier style that pairs well with grilled meats. LCBO 26898

UPDATE: The cost of one of the wines has increased to over $10 since this article was first published. Toronto Life regrets the error. 2/3/2011

  • Christine

    Interestingly not one Ontario wine on that list.

  • nicole

    It always saddens me that none of these lists include local wines. What’s a cheap wino who cares about carbon footprints and local sustainability to do?

  • Pee

    How do you think Toronto Life come up with this list ? They got a free bottle from the LCBO of all these wines to advertise them to get them selling off the LCBO shelf. Hence, Ontario wines dont need this, so its called, you wet my appetite, I will wet yours…DUH to TL!!!

  • Matthew

    Sorry, I can’t type a comment, I’m still laughing too hard at the thought of a drinkable, let alone a good, bottle of Ontario wine under $10.

  • Joanne

    Unfortunately, Ontario wineries cannot produce the volume or manage the labour costs, etc., to compete at this price level. we should be grateful.

  • Rosie

    Absolutely Ontario wines can compete – check out Pelee Island wines – fabulous! A quick search on LCBO turned up 658 products under $10 some of them may be swill but you can’t think that none of them are drinkable. Wow talk about self loathing oenophilist snobs!

  • AreThoseReal?

    Ontario wines suck!!! Except for Pelee Island. Then we have the problem with overpriced wines (and lack of selection)from the LCBO that we have to deal with…ever wonder why the first question asked by Customs: “how much alcohol did you purchase”???!!! Not “are you bringing in any dangerous goods/arms”???, no, it’s just about the booze!!! Of course the good sheep Ontarians, I mean, people simply do as told and don’t complain….well, guess what? We deserve it!!!

  • Sandra Noble

    Casal Thaulero – our favourite! Light, refreshing, and CHEAP!! The only Pinot Grigio we buy.

  • Designergirl

    A.T.R. has not tried all Ontario wines- as he/she has never been to the wineries in the East…whereby the productions are smaller and excellent! They are not all sold in the LCBO- as they are newer and smaller yields. Until you have had them all…silly comments are just that.
    Secondly, everyone does not like the same wine. Start tasting!
    Quite frankly, I have had all the whites and really do not like any of them.
    However, that does not deter me from playing the wine game- taste a new one weekly and see what you like. It’s all personal choice.

  • Seriously…

    I agree with DG regarding ATR’s comments. Ontario has many outstanding wines that are either in limited supply or not available in the LCBO. I would suggest heading to the Niagara region for some wine tastings to educate yourself. Pelee Island is hardly a good example of a great Ontario wine. Check out smaller vineyards such as Lailey and Organized Crime before commenting on how much Ontario wines suck as this is simply an uneducated opinion.

  • BWVer

    I agree 100% with the commenters who urge people to travel to Niagara to check out the product first-hand. We all suffer due to the demands that the LCBO places on winemakers – if you can’t deliver a gazillion cases you don’t get listed. Talk to a local winemaker while you taste their treasures and you’ll hear all about it. GO LOCAL!

  • Basil

    Thank god! No Ontario wines on the list! I know there are some palatable, even good Ontario wines out there but you have to go directly to the wineries and throw down a minimum of $40. For good wines under $10, I’d definitely stick to the more established wine regions.

  • Martin

    I just visited our LCBO in Hamilton and found only 1 red wine on the list. Must be in limited supply?

  • Andy Saito

    According to the LCBO Website, the price for Big House White has been raised to $13.

  • Lovetoeat

    I do much better with Ontario whites than reds. I’m almost always disappointed when I buy Ontario reds as I’m a Cab Sauv lover through and through. And you have to admit it, Ontario wines are generally more expensive for the quality you get.

  • roman

    I will buy domestic once it tastes better than the other wines from other parts of the world that really are a reasonable price . I don’t think many of the Ontario wine lovers have tried any of the other wines. Too bad…..

  • T

    Just checked the LCBO site for the first white wine you posted – it is listed at $13.00. Who fact checked?
    Cheers

  • Boris

    There are plenty of great Chilean wines for under $10 to be found in Canada.

    You can find a more extensive list of Chilean wines at http://www.chilean-wine.com

  • Alan

    LCBO website also says that the Trapiche 2009 Syrah has been discontinued.

  • David

    So Seriously…tell me about a good ON red under $30….the comments made refer to wines priced around $10 – read the headline Mr. Educmecated!!!

  • Allison

    I love red wine but must admit I am not a huge Ontario wine drinker/fan. I was given a bottle of Alvar Pinot Noir VQA from Pelee Island Vineyard. At first, I was blown away by how good it was. Then I looked it up and was blown away by the price at $14.95! I would definitely buy it again.

  • darrell

    Ontario Wines cant compete with these wines from abroad.-In taste that is.

  • Chris

    Let’s be honest, even million dollar babies like to schlep on the cheap stuff now and then. Luckily, I’ve never had wine I didn’t like, and a list like this is homework that I gladly undertake.

    I raise my glass of Maria Christina and wonder if some purported oeno-snobs would even know the difference.

  • Greg

    As someone who worked in the wine business in Ontario, and rep’ing one Ontario winery.
    Dollar for Dollar, nothing beats Spain, Italy and Chile.
    Why do you think that over half of the ‘Ontario Wines’ are from juice bought from outside of Canada.

    Most of the Ontario wineries could not survive without their non-Ontario wine sales.

    How does this help your carbon footprint!?!

  • WillDel

    No Onatrio Wines, because unfortunately they tend to be overpriced and underwhelming.

  • Shirley

    love love the fact you give us the deals at the LCBO,their selection is fab, the cheaper the better as long as it is good. Have tasted wines when in Europe and u can pick up a bottle for 3 euro.
    Keep em coming Toronto Life

  • Mark

    there is an abundance of really great Ontario wines in the $10 range, but under $10 is a bit of a stretch for any wine region in the world for wine purchaced in Ontario. Check out some of my personal favourites like Vineland estates 2009 Chardonnay at 12.95 and their Cabernet Franc at the same price, and more importantly get out to wine country and taste, taste, and enjoy!

  • Kristen

    Anyone who say’s Ontario wines suck has either neglected to take the time to travel the region tasting, or has a bad palate. Would be wonderful if they could be more inexpensive but that is more of an issue to be brought up with the Ontario gov/ /LCBO and the manner in which they facilitate imports vs. their treatment of smaller Ontario vineyards. There may not be any great wines under $10, but there are many in the $15 range.

  • ramon

    I’ve never had a bottle of Ontario red wine @ $15 or less that wasn’t absolute slop. I will continue (as I have for the past 35 years) finding much better wines at much better prices from South America, Spain, Portugal and, occasionally, California/Washington.

  • Mike

    Ontario wines at LCBO are inferior to the imports in terms of value. In terms of carbon footprint….please don’t remark on that with your iPhone driving in your Honda.

    Mike
    ( blackberry & chrysler lol )

  • Tarvis

    I know that my boyfriend and me love to curl up by the fire with a nice glass of the Trapiche. MMM, yummy! (And so is the wine).

  • SSpencer

    Totally shocked at the people who bash Ontario wines. I go to Niagara at least a few times a year (with a group of friends), have been to 20+ wineries and we STILL find wines that we absolutely adore! Ravine, Hinterbrook, Palatine Hills…all incredible wineries! Caroline Cellars is good and has 750mL and 1.5L bottles for under $20, and some even under $15! Expand your horizons past the LCBO and actually get out to a local Ontario winery. Many of them do not put their wines in the LCBO so you have to go to them (or order them directly). DON’T BASH THEM UNTIL YOU’VE TRIED MOST OF THEM!!

  • S

    For all the Ontario wine haters, have you ever been to Ontario wine country for tours and tastings? Look into visiting PEC or Niagara, and touring some of the smaller scale wineries (try the “bench” marked areas of niagara for less commercial wineries). But drop your preconceived notions before you set out for a good time. Some of the best wines in the region dont make it into the LCBO because, as it has been said, they cannot compete on the per volume basis; and it’s the same reason why most small scale productions do not produce “cheap” wine. While you might not get some great wines for less than ten dollars, there are certainly countless bottles that claim wonderful status within the 12-20 range. But if you dont, that’s great too since you leave more for me to fully appreciate!

  • Giancarlo

    Ok Ok .. now really, I’ve been to Niagara for years sampling and purchasing wine. FACT is that any red from the region worth drinking is at LEAST $25 plus.. even over $35 in some cases. The whites however based on the climate and soil can be appreciated for even around $10 to $15… also because its generally drunk chilled and is easily forgiven for any, lets say lack in the details with regards to flavour. I’m always sadly disappointed that Ontario wineries still over charge at their wineries, because they are not in the LCBO or because production cost vs profit. They could generate a real strong local or even Canada wide cliental. I’d certainly buy a few cases local vs spending abroad. At the end of the day realistically the convenience of the LCBO being everywhere and value to quality ratio will ALWAYS rule. So until Ontario producers smarten up I know where my $$$ will be spent for a good quality for value red at least… and its certainly not for Ontario wine… Well unless I’m looking for grape juice with alcohol in it for around $10 lol..

 

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