We don’t hear about PIIGS too often in Canada, but in the European Union, it is an acronym for five countries with weak economies: Portugal, Italy, Ireland, Greece and Spain. And while Ireland has its own special beverages, the other countries have been producing very good wine for millennia. When looking for bargains at the LCBO, think PIGS. Prices for wines from Portugal, Italy, Greece and Spain have remained flat for a number of years making some surprisingly affordable at the LCBO.
Aveleda Vinho Verde, 750 mL $10.45
9.5 percent alcohol
Vinho Verde translates as “green” or young wine. This light dry delicate white wine has a low alcohol content making it ideal for sipping or serving at brunch. The straw-coloured wine from northwestern Portugal has hints of pear, apple and melon. It goes well with seafood, rice dishes and soft cheeses.
Barone Montalto Nero d’Avola Cabarnet Sauvignon
750 mL $9.45
13.5 percent alcohol
A dry violet red from Sicily for more than 2,500 years a significant centre of Mediterranean viniculture is aged in French and American oak for three months. It has aromas of cedar, allspice and plums. A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Nero d’Avola grapes, this old-style wine pairs well with barbecue foods, cold cuts, pizza and cheeses.
Casal Thaulero Merlot/Cabernet Sauvignon
Terre di Chieti IGT
750 mL $7.95
13 percent alcohol
The wine comes from the Abruzzo area of the east Adriatic Coast, an area where the Etruscans started making wine in the sixth century BC. A blend of merlot and cabernet sauvignon, this dry red has flavours of red cherry, spice and earth, with leather and tobacco tones. It is food friendly.
Boutari Moschofilero White
750 mL $13.10
11 percent alcohol
Wine Spectator Magazine listed this wine 90th on its top 100 most exciting wines in 2015. For years Boutari Moschofilero has been a popular wine in Greece. In recent years its crisp, refreshing taste with citrus, floral and melon aromas has caught the attention of Canadians. It is made from Moschofilero grapes grown in high elevation vineyards in the southern region of Mantinia in the Peloponnese. Moschofilero is an aromatic white grape with good acidity and spicy flavour. It goes down well with Greek food.
Beronia Tempranillo Rioja
750 mL. $11.45
14 percent alcohol
This extra dry red made from Tempranillo grapes and aged in oak barrels is smooth and elegant. It has a bright cherry colour and aromas of fruit and liquorice with a spicy fruity flavour. It comes from the Rioja area of northern Spain, another ancient wine-producing area. The name Beronia derives from the legacy of the Berones, a Celtic people who inhabited the area in the third century BC. Beronia Tempranillo Rioja pairs well with lamb, smoked meats and pâtés. The Toronto Star wine critic has called this wine “a fabulous value sleeping on the shelves.”