Not sure what to serve or even how to choose what’s good? Wine columnist and author Natalie MacLean shares her top picks for mid-priced wines that are currently available near you. Her no-fail scoring method guarantees a quality bottle every time. Look for MacLean’s column, Pulling corks, in each issue of the magazine.
JACKSON-TRIGGS ‘PROPRIETORS’ ‘GRAND RESERVE’ CHARDONNAY 2003 VQA Niagara Peninsula VC: This wine won a bronze medal at the 2005 Canadian Wine Awards and a ‘Special Mention’ at Vin Italy 2006. It’s a lovely and luscious chard with oaky, buttery notes. Full-bodied. Drink with corn dishes and lobster. $19
WITHER HILLS SAUVIGNON BLANC 2005 Marlborough, South Island, New Zealand: Stunning herbal aromas, refreshing and mouth-watering. Perfect for salad, vegetarian, pork, chicken and seafood. $20
LA FORTUNA MERLOT 2005 Lontue Valley, Chile: This organic wine is a stunning value. Aromas of blackcurrants and ripe black fruit with a bit pf spice. Serve with steak or lamb. $13
MAS JANEIL CÖTES DU ROUSSILLON-VILLAGES 2003 AC (Sarl Jacques & Francois Lurton): Cedary and peppery with aromas of ripe cherries and raspberries. Fresh and full-bodied. Excellent wine for grilled meats. $16
Wines are scored using a scale of 100 points – although wines under 80 points aren’t included – who wants to keep track of all the less-than-stellar wines when there are thousands of good ones? Wines scored 80 and above are all worth drinking – it’s up to you to decide your own cut-off point for scoring and whether a wine at 86 is worth $12, $17 or $25.
80-84: These wines are pleasant – something you’d be happy to bring to a casual get-together with friends or drink on a weeknight.
85-89: These wines are delicious and have more depth of flavour and texture – something you might break open on the weekends (though, of course, you can treat yourself any time).
90-94: These are the wines that make you pause – they are rich in character with a unique and complex flavour.
95-100: These wines are extraordinary, spectacular – words fail to capture them. Truly a treat.
Natalie MacLean is the author of Red, White and Drunk All Over: A Wine-Soaked Journey from Grape to Glass. She was named the World’s Best Drink Writer for the articles and wine picks in her free wine newsletter, available at NatalieMacLean.com.