Food and drink: Lucky strike for the holidays 

Gismondi’s top 10 wine picks of the year for under $25

With most of Whistler hunkering down for an economically challenging ski season, visitors and operators alike are looking for deals. So I’m thinking, what about wine?

If you haven’t noticed, wine is big business in Whistler, and while some of the world’s greatest bottles have been flowing effortlessly in many local restaurants for a decade, this may be the winter best-value wines make their return to wine lists and wine shops.

Whether they do or don’t, you can save some big dollars and still drink some terrific wines just by checking out the list below the next time you go wine shopping.

But the question remains: where is the real value?

Each year I taste somewhere between 2,000 to 3,000 wines, record their notes and keep track of my scores. It’s all recorded in my database at .

But this year I’ve gone one step further in search of great value wines. Recently, I’ve developed a new program that allows me to determine which of all the wines I’ve reviewed in a single year represent superior value. The complex calculation takes into account the score (out of 100) awarded the wine, its retail price, as well as when it was last tasted and how long it has been on the market. The resulting e-valuator numerical quotient measures and then ranks all the wines tasted in 2008.

So to herald the Christmas holiday season and wrap up the year, here are my picks for the current top 10 most valuable wines tasted in 2008. Each sells for less than $25 and most are sold in government liquor stores. It’s a great holiday shopping list for wines and unlike any other, this one really does over-deliver.


No. 10: Homegrown Mission Hill Sauvignon Blanc Five Vineyards 2007 ($14) from Okanagan Valley makes the list with this ultra-fresh and zippy white. The latest edition is creamier — a fine offset to the lime rind, kiwi fruit, pear, gooseberry and mineral flavours. Think white meats, white sauces, white fish when you reach for this very good white wine.

No. 9: Chile is capable of turning out delicious syrah as evidenced by this Chono Reserva Syrah 2006 ($18) from the Elqui Valley, the home of Pisco. I love its smooth, supple, forward style and liquorice, menthol, black cherry, meaty, white pepper flavours. Attractive style for current drinking.


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