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Open Season

12 bargain bottles to get the party started

Bellingham 2009 Shiraz With a Dash of Viognier

Coastal Region, South Africa $14.95 (278739)
This Shiraz (with a two percent dash of Viognier) is just a lovely drink. The sweet fruit flavours are rich and focused, consistent right through the palate, and well-defined. They’re supported by fresh acidity and framed with sleek, ripe tannins. The texture is full and slightly taut. It’s simply a pleasure to drink. (RP)

Astoria Prosecco La Robinia NV

Veneto, Italy $13.95 (593855)
With delightfully fresh mousse, delicate fruit characteristics and a hint of spice, this wine delivers on all accounts. It’s a crisp wine could be an aperitif after a long day, but would also fool all your friends at a cocktail party into thinking you splurged on them. (AF)

Bodegas Castaño 2009 Hécula Monastrell

Yecla, Spain $11.95 (300673)
Here’s a red with a spicy personality that makes the most of its rustic character. Bold peppery spice and concentrated fruit make for an earthy and gutsy wine that works with grilled meat and baked pasta dishes. Distinctive and concentrated, this style of red wine suits hearty fare to a T. Highly recommended. (CW)

Château des Charmes 2009 Gamay Noir Estate Bottled

Niagara-on-the-Lake, Niagara Peninsula $12.95 (057349)
Gamay Noir is often overlooked in favour of grapes with more name recognition, which is a pity when you consider the obvious style and value of this fruity and spicy red, which is gulpable and very enjoyable. chateaudescharmes.com (AF)

Codorniu Clasico Brut Cava NV

Penedès, Spain $15 (503490)
Made from three traditional grape varieties generally used to make Cava — Xarel-lo, Macabeo and Parellada — this traditional method sparkling offers exceptional value. You cannot go wrong here. It has good complexity for the price and is perfect as an aperitif such as seafood paella or Catalan tapas. (DVM)

Finca Las Moras 2011 Reserve Chardonnay

San Juan, Argentina $12.95 (270025)
Benefitting from minimal time in French oak barrels, this wine offers delicate sweet nuances, creating a soft and round texture without clouding the elegant, fresh fruit. A hint of honey on the finish completes the bargain-priced wine. Enjoy with white meats or pasta salads. (AF)

Mediterra Winery 2010 Thalia Sauvignon Blanc

Crete, Greece $9.95 (273490)
Fresh and flavourful, this well-priced, crisp Grecian wine offers honeysuckle, almond and tropical fruit salad on the nose. The palate follows the tropical notes along with ginger, mineral notes and freesia. This medium-bodied white is completed with a long honey finish. It is enjoyed best with Asian dishes, lemon chicken or seafood. (AF)

Mirassou Vineyards 2011 Pinot Noir

California, United States $12.95 (185249)
This full-flavoured and round red wine has established itself as Canada’s best-selling Pinot Noir in volume and in sales. Pinot purists might find it simple and confected, but the abundant cherry jam and spice flavours make this a crowd-pleaser that works with or without food. (CW)

Bodegas y Vinedos Santiago Graffigna 2011 Centenario Pinot Grigio Reserve

San Juan, Argentina $12.95 (164756)
Graffigna is known for its Malbecs, but the surprise in their portfolio is this fruity and aromatic Pinot Grigio. Its intense floral, spice and fruit notes put it in another league from most Italian examples. It’s a solid all-purpose, everyday white that’s enjoyable by itself or with a meal. (CW)

Gerard Bertrand 2009 Art de Vivre Cabernet Sauvignon

Languedoc-Roussillon, France $11.95 (234815)
An easy-drinking Cabernet with bold aromas, this calls for a juicy steak. Cherry, raspberry and cassis dance on the nose, while the palate is smooth and round. The finish is bright, refreshing and lingers. Like all of the Bertrand wines, this offers good value. (AA)

San Alejandro 2009 Las Rocas de San Alejandro Garnacha

Calatayud, Spain $14.95 (269977)
Spain is seemingly an endless treasure trove of enjoyable, affordable red wines like this. A delicious example of Grenache (Garnacha in its native Spain), Las Rocas presents juicy cherry and berry fruit with some spice. The mix of ripeness and rusticity adds greatly to the appeal of this bargain selection. (CW)

Viña Cono Sur 2011 Bicicleta Viognier

Colchagua Valley, Chile $9.95 (064287)
Cono Sur’s Viognier continues to be a white with real wow factor. One of the most consistent value wines available, Cono Sur Viognier impresses with its bold character. Fresh and fragrant on the nose, it is positively bursting with refreshing citrus and spice flavours. The striking new label for the Bicicleta range adds to its appeal. (CW)