“Tribute to a great affordable wine hunter.”

Issue #10     January, 2020

I don’t know about you but December and the holidays have the scary ability to over-inflate my January VISA balance. That being the case I thought it might be a good idea that we tighten the fiscal belt to start off our year of good wine hunting.

This month, we’ll get to know three tasties that hover around the $10 mark. Yup, ten bucks.  

As we know, one certainly doesn’t have to spend over $20 for a really good bottle. Well guess what. You don’t even have to spend much over $10, for an enjoyable little quaffer.

Allow me to reminisce for a moment. My dad was a mining engineer, geologist and prospector. He worked in the business of searching (mostly underground) for valuable minerals. He also loved to search for good wine that wasn’t expensive. Under $10 was his sweet spot. He would scour the shelves, prospecting for gems, readily seeking the advice of the in-store experts. In those days (the 1970’s) they always wore green blazers with a gold LCBO crest.

More often than not he’d come home with a real find. A tasty, inexpensive gem. But for dad, I think the search itself was just as satisfying.

So this issue of Jim’s Affordable Cellar is dedicated to wines near or under $10, and to my great dad for instilling in me the love of finding them.

Welcome back to the cellar.

After a sip of our first red this month, I hope you agree that finding this bottle on the LCBO’s regular listing shelves, is a little like striking gold. Barone Montalto comes to the cellar from the land of a rather famous family, the Mafia.


Barone Montalto
Nero D’Avola Cabernet Ter Sicilane IGT
Sicily, Italy
750 mL bottle LCBO#:  621151

This Sicilian steal is inky and dark like an alley in Palermo at midnight. But just follow your nose to find its soft essences of berries. It’s a tannic titan with lots of smooth and delicious dark berry flavour. Barone Montalto is no Rothschild but it’s a perfect house wine and great for a relaxed family dinner. Any family.

Our white wine feature is also our Under The Radar bottle this month. Let’s get to know a grape we haven’t yet tasted from a country we’ve somehow missed so far. The grape is Chenin Blanc. Originally from the Loire Valley of France, now it’s the most widely planted varietal in South Africa, where it’s also known as Steen.  And if that’s not reason enough to try it, Tussock Jumper Chenin Blanc is also the only bottle in the LCBO with a rhino in a red sweater on the label.


Tussock Jumper Chenin Blanc 2019
Western Cape, South Africa
750 mL bottle VINTAGES#:  480764

Chenin Blanc is a grape with high acidity so it’s used to make everything from sparkling to dessert wines. But this offering is extra dry. It’s bright in the glass and on the tongue with citrus flavours and green apple. And in keeping with our mining theme, this Jumper has a minerality that is crisp and thirst slaying. Rhino’s may be large, but they’re fast. You may want to run out and grab a bottle.

France is rich territory to mine for delicious finds but as it turns out the country also has a few price-conscious gems. Chateau Saint-Louis stands before us in the cellar but it has travelled from the Languedoc region in the south of France. The bottle just looks like it should be more expensive.

Château Saint-Louis La Perdrix L’envol 2018
Languedoc, France
750 mL bottle VINTAGES#:  10514

It sits still in the glass, brooding and dark. Like it’s wishing it was back home in the south of France. But then an aroma of spice and smoke invites you to taste what it’s made of. A blend of three grapes that love sharing the same space. Syrah, Grenache and Mourvedre. They live so well together that they simply reward you with a soft and elegant juice that has character and finesse, a.k.a. It’s real good.

That wraps up our time down in the cellar for this month. From here it’s upward and onward in our search for more great bottles. And this being 2020, the year of perfect vision, I’m confident we’ll have no trouble finding them.

See you back here in February when we throw financial caution to the wind and enjoy some wine that costs almost a whopping $20.

Until then, keep your glass of wine close and you’re friends even closer.


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