It was a super-spree, a quick dash into the Bank Street shop, which was a challenge in and of itself, given that it was the Saturday before Halloween and everyone was busy getting their party booze for Fright Night. (With some of the folks there, I was hard pressed to tell if they were already in costume or not. I'm guessing Cranky LCBO Cashier wasn't an act ...)
Here's the list:
New Varietal Category - Moschofilero Boutari 2009 (Greece), $11.95
Homegrown Category - Wayne Gretzky Estates No.99 2007 Merlot (Niagara) $15.95
Little-Known Region Category - Trakia Estate 2006 Bassara Mavrud (Bulgaria), $12.95
Never Heard of 'Em Category - Illuminati Riparosso 2008 Montepulciano d'Abruzzo (Italy), $12.95
Cheap Version of the Expensive Stuff Category - Cave de Tain 2007 Crozes Hermitage (France), $17.95
White Blend Category - The Black Chook VMR (Australia), $16.95
Red Blend Category - Colio Lake and River Series River Rock Red (Lake Erie North Shore, Ontario), $10.95
Remember: these are all wines I've never tried before, all of them are under $20 and all of them were purchased at the LCBO.
Not one to hesitate (especially when it comes to wine; "it's noon SOMEWHERE, dammit!"), I cracked open the Moschofilero right away, with a meal of Mediterranean chicken. Feta, olives, a touch of lemon zest - the tangy/salty flavours married well with the wine, which had a nose like a pinot grigio or gewurztraminer, but the tastes and texture of a sauvignon blanc. Light, crisp, almost airy, this was a good candidate for summertime sipping or to blend for spritzers.
For the longest time, Greece was generally remembered for its rather pungent (did I hear someone say noxious?) retsina, a beverage held in amphorae stopped with pine resin. To each their own; it didn't do much for me. Greek wine has since had a rebirth, with a bunch of its native varietals proving to be likable crowd pleasers.
One down, six more to go ...