A friend of mine recently asked me for a list of red wines between $10 and $15 that could be good go-to wines. I told her I’d get going on that list immediately, and then I had a thought – far be it for me to keep this list of wine goodness from the rest of my fellow wine lovers. So here it is! A tidy list that you can take to your local wine shop. Pick away! And let me know what you think of them.
Some Notes Before We Start
- There are, of course, many many wines that could have made it on the list that I didn’t include.
- My palate tends to skew more toward the intense, fuller body end of the spectrum, and this list reflects that.
- Some regions and types of wine can command a higher price point than others – reds from Bordeaux, California Cabernet, Australian Shiraz, for example. In the interests of affordability these wines didn’t make the cut.
- I’ve tasted all of these wines, so I am personally vouching for them here. Don’t like them? I’m interested! Let’s talk.
Nederburg Winemaster’s Cabernet Sauvignon 2011
This wine was given to me as an early birthday gift. I didn’t know what to expect, to be honest. Nederburg is one of the juggernauts of South African wines, which usually means one of two things:
- They really do make great wine, or
- They make A LOT of so-so wine.
Luckily this wine fell more into the former category for me. It was intense on the palate, but also very smooth and gentle, especially for a Cabernet. Easy-drinking for sure.
Extra tip – they have a Shiraz in a similar price point.
Oh Primitivo, my most beloved of Italian wines. Primitivo (same grape as Zinfandel, for those following along at home) is usually grown and made in Southern Italy, and often has tons of delicious berry flavours along with a good amount of smoke to give it some complexity and interesting character. This wine is exactly that, and were it not for the seemingly odd unpopularity of the variety I would be wondering why this wine is not sold at a higher price point.
Trapiche Reserve Malbec 2011
Trapiche is one of my go-to South American brands. It seems that I enjoy all their wines regardless of variety and they all seem to hover in this $10-$15 range, which make them xcellent weeknight wines. I’m pretty sure they’d make a mean Sangria too.
Extra tip – ‘Reserve’ and ‘reserva’ have no legal meaning in South America. Winemakers are free to put them on any label they like but they don’t denote anything particularly meaningful like they do in Europe. In fact, some winos debate whether or not using ‘reserve’ on a South American label has any meaning at all.
Santa Alicia Carmenere Reserva
Another good go-to South American brand. Carmenere is Chile’s flagship grape and the rest of the world seems content to watch them master it. I like to call them cowboy wines because to me they smell like the best parts of a cool-weather stable – leather, smoke, tobacco, dried fruit, black pepper, you get the gist. Despite the big flavours this wine is quite easy drinking.
L.A. Cetto Petite Sirah 2013
Wine from Baja California! LA Cetto often shows up at the LCBO in this price range. This wine had some great black fruit happening on the nose, which transformed into juicy red fruit on the palate, and it had some nice black pepper working as a nice through line. If you’re looking to try something new I heartily recommend picking up a bottle of this wine.
Pessoa Da Vinha Reserva Douro
I swear this bottle was closer the $12 the first time I bought it, but it’s still a great buy at $14.35. Richly intense in both colour and flavour, this is a great example of the great wines currently coming my way from Portugal. I guess it doesn’t help that they have a long history of making good wine. This wine is more in the black and purple fruit category and also might toss up some chocolate, pepper, or licorice flavours for you. Great for cold winter nights.
Château des Charmes Estate Bottled Cabernet Franc
Cabernet Franc is one my favourite varieties and I’m proud to say that Ontario does it particularly well. Good body without being overpowering, delicious red and black fruit that, when made well, is often accompanied by the leather and smoke that oak brings. If you like easy-drinking, middle body reds, trust me and get a bottle of this.
Heartland Stickleback Red 2013
One of the few southern hemisphere wines, and the only one from Australia to make the list. I know, I know, it’s a blend, but it’s good! Warm and juicy and spicy and just altogether delicious, assuming ripe fruit flavours are your thing. Plus, Stickleback is just such a fun word to say.
Campo Viejo Rioja Tempranillo
A trustworthy, easy drinking, go-to Spanish wine. Tempranillos are chock full of spicy red fruit and this bottle fits that description perfectly. Pick this up the next time you feel like spicy food for dinner, I promise you won’t be disappointed – and your bank account will be pretty happy too.
Barahonda Monastrell 2014
Monastrell isn’t a very well known grape – you might know it by it’s French name of Mouvedre. This wine is punchy and powerful but kind to my palate, letting me down easy with a softer finish. Again, lots of yummy fruit and spice and a great option for a weeknight bottle or something new that doesn’t require too much of an investment.
What do you think? Did I leave out one of your go-to wines?