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Holiday Wine Guide 2020: 4 Special Wines Under $25

It’s hard to buy anything of a certain quality these days for less than $25, let alone a wine that makes its way from another part of the world. Depending on where you live, a bottle travels through several hands before it lands on store shelves. And those hands need to get paid! Before we get to our Holiday Wine Guide, which looks at four special wines under $25, let’s take a look at where each dollar goes.

percentages are approximate and dependent upon local Liquor Boards and taxes
WINERY COSTSWHOLESALE MARKUPRETAIL MARKUP
bottle, cork & label
grapes, land & labour
winemaking
marketing, sales & admin
winery profit = approx. $1
agent & distributor costs
logistics & storage
shipping & freight
liquor board costs
brick & mortar
sales staff salaries
delivery costs
e-commerce costs

CONUNDRUM RED

A conundrum is defined as a confusing and difficult problem or question. My only query is why is this wine named after such a word? I fail to see anything confusing, difficult or problematic about this wine!

Through and through, it’s a juicy California red blend with nods to individual regions. Grapes are grown on family-run vineyards across the state, from famous spots such as Napa, Monterey and Santa Barbara to smaller, character-driven plots in San Benito, Solano and Tulare Counties.

This fusion is made from California’s flagship red varieties. Petite Sirah for its deep colouring and rich, black fruit flavours. Zinfandel for its boldness and jammy characteristics. And Cabernet Sauvignon for its structure and tannins. This wine is full of flavour, smoothly textured and waiting to be paired with a rich and spicy pasta dish.

For $25: skip the cat mug and tea set for your aunt and buy Conundrum.

ProvinceApproximate RetailWhere to Buy
British Columbia$25.99 ($23.99 until Jan 2)BC Liquor Stores
Alberta$25.00Costco
Real Canadian Superstore
Wine & Beyond
Saskatchewan$28.49Sask Liquor
Manitoba$24.99Liquor Marts
  • Conundrum Red
  • Special Wines Under
  • Special Wines Under

JOHNNY Q CABERNET SAUVIGNON

If you visit the Quarisa website, you’ll see the innate joy spread across the faces of the Quarisa family. This family loves wine and manages to fill each bottle with Aussie charm and pride.

Led by winemaker Johnny Quarisa (Johnny Q himself), this Cabernet Sauvignon hails from the South Australia region of Coonawarra. Roughly equal distance from Melbourne and Adelaide, Coonawarra is renowned for its Cab Sauvs that are grown in the limestone-rich terra-rosa soils.

This is a knock-out, solid expression with loads of fresh red and black fruit flavours that balance nicely with savoury spice and subtle oak. Forget about special wines under $25, this one is under $15!

For $25: skip the novelty calendar for your co-worker and buy Johnny Q Cabernet Sauvignon.

ProvinceApproximate RetailWhere to Buy
British Columbia$14.99 ($13.49 until Jan 2)BC Liquor Stores
Alberta$15.70Sobeys
Real Canadian Superstore
Saskatchewan$16.99Sask Liquor
Manitoba$12.99Liquor Marts
  • Johnny Q Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Special Wines Under

SANTA JULIA RESERVA MALBEC

Do you remember this Ikea commercial? It’s how I feel about wines made by Santa Julia. Grab a bottle and run because the value is incredible when it comes to Argentinian wines.

Authenticity and community are at the core of Santa Julia which are both echoed through their educational platforms in Santa Rosa. They are also the first winery in Mendoza to achieve the ‘Fair for Life’ certification which assures consumers that conditions for vineyard and production line workers are of a high standard.

Santa Julia Reserva Malbec is gushing with red fruit flavours such as plum and cherries while sticking to a focused and a vibrant mouthfeel. Balanced with fresh acidity and soft tannins. A touch of black pepper spice on the finish.

For $25: skip the body wash/soap set for your sister and buy Santa Julia Reserva Malbec

ProvinceApproximate RetailWhere to Buy
British Columbia$16.99BC Liquor Stores
Alberta$18.56Co-op Wine & Spirits
Saskatchewan$19.99Sask Liquor
Manitoba$15.99Liquor Marts
  • Santa Julia Reserva Malbec
  • Special Wines Under
  • Special Wines Under

ROAD 13 SEVENTY-FOUR K

I recently wrote an article about Road 13, so it should be no surprise that the winery’s infatuation with dirt extends to the Seventy-Four K (one of their flagship blends).

Harvesting the seven different estate-grown grapes for this wine is like a well-choreographed dance. The 2018 vintage required near-constant measuring of ripeness to ensure proper picking time of the well-established vines. Here’s the breakdown of what’s in the bottle:

64% Merlot – 12.5% Syrah – 7.9% Malbec – 6.7% Cabernet Franc – 4.6 % Petit Verdot – 2.9% Teroldego – 1.4% Viognier

Dark and almost brooding in style with plush black fruit flavours of black cherry and black berry. Accented with savoury notes of baking spices and vanilla with a full and silky finish.

For $25: skip the infomercial gadget for your brother and buy Road 13 Seventy-Four K.

ProvinceApproximate RetailWhere to Buy
British Columbia$25.99 ($23.99 until Jan 2)BC Liquor Stores
Alberta$28.56Wine & Beyond
Co-op Wine & Spirits
  • Road 13 Seventy Four K
  • Special Wines Under
  • Special Wines Under

SPECIAL WINES UNDER $25

Go into any liquor store and you’ll probably find something to buy that’s under a comfortable spending limit. Will you be happy with it? Maybe. Will it be a bottle you tell a friend about? Doubtful.

That’s why I hope this holiday wine guide sets you on a road to finding some new favourite wines. Wines that not only taste good but also tick a few additional boxes, all while saving your wallet from undue stress.

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