Evans and Tate Metricup Road Shiraz, 09, Vina Zaco Tempranillo 08, Bodegas Atalaya Laya, 10

Laya.  Be on the lookout.
Laya. Be on the lookout.

Three of the many, many reds Vancouver magazine Wine Awards judges recently gave top honours to.  All three here in the “medium red” best buy category.  My first comment is this: The best red wine under $20 available at BC Liquor, the spectacularly wonderful Hickinbotham, nowhere to be seen on the list?  Shurley shome mishtake Vancouver magazine?  Instead, a raft of wines that, frankly, are OK to good, but pale in comparison to the wine market just 45 minutes south in the US.


Here, a sampling of three reds you can find easily for under $20.  Right up our alley.


Evans and Tate: In my experience the best whites and some of the best reds in Australia come from Margaret River.  Cancel your pilgrimage to Burgundy and go experience the scenic delights and wine treasures of this astonishing region.  Lunch at Leeuwin Estates.  Luscious, creamy, rich and wonderful whites.  This red?  Pale.  Thin.  Smooth but without any dimension.  Like a 2D version of good wine.  It reminded me of an awards show, years ago, where Tori Spelling was approaching the stage, thin to the point of barbed wire, and Scott Thompson (of Kids in the Hall fame) shouted “Eat a muffin!”


Vina Zaco.  Seriously?  Of all the wonderful Spanish reds we are privileged to have access to, of all the decently priced and often spectacular Rioja’s that make their way this far west, this was really deserving top honours?  You know, it’s good.  We might buy it again in a pinch.  But it is just not on our radar.


Laya. Curiously, this is probably the least expensive wine Vancouver magazine gave an award to.  In my view, it should be the house red at half of Vancouver’s eateries.  It’s inoffensive, approachable, very food friendly, and ridiculously good value.  Restaurants could mark it up 100 per cent and we’d still get an under-$30 bottle of very drinkable and satisfying wine.  But, to borrow from a politico past, “read my lips, not gonna happen.”  If you are hosting an event, planning a wedding, or just have friends that drop by and drink all your booze, I would have this on hand.  Tastes great and won’t break the bank.


Methinks some judges didn’t use the spittoon.


Prices: $19.99, $17.99 and $13.99, respectively, all at BC Liquor.


Market Liquidity: Cool, tepid, warm.

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