Wine lovers don’t have to look south for value: Evans Hammond

Five outstanding wines that are significantly less expensive in Canada than they are in the U.S.

By: Carolyn Evans Hammond Published Tues May 22 2017 on Star Touch and Sat May 26 2017 in The Toronto Star, syndicated

A reader recently wrote me a note lamenting the fact many wines cost less in the United States. And for a plethora of desperately dull reasons, this is certainly the case. But some bottles — especially Old World classics — actually cost less in Ontario than south of the border. Here are five outstanding wines that are significantly less expensive in this market. 

NV Foss Marai Extra Dry Prosecco, Veneto, Italy (Vintages Essential 729392 $19.95 in stores and online) 

With polished flavours and aromas of pear and flowers edged with minerality and sea spray, this elegant Prosecco tastes lively and brisk with a kiss of sweetness. Pour this delicious bubbly as a cocktail alternative or with salty snacks. By the way, if you’re wondering why the words “Extra Dry” appear on the label of this sweeter style of wine, here’s why: Brut is the driest style of Prosecco with less than 12g sugar/L, extra dry has 12-17g/L of sugar and dry is actually quite sweet with 17-32g/L. 

Average U.S. price in Canadian dollars: $27*

Score: 90

2012 Beronia Reserva, Rioja, Spain (Vintages Essential 50203 $20.95 in stores and online) 

It’s an open secret that red Reserva wines from Rioja offer outstanding value in general because by law they must age for least three years in the winery — including 12 months in the barrel — before release. And to withstand this aging, ripe, concentrated fruit should be used. Such is the case here. With power and poise, this bottle charms with bushels of sun-warmed fruit, savoury inflections, a tinge of iron and a long, chalky finish imbued with cinnamon, nutmeg and clove. Great buy.

Average U.S. price: $27*

Score: 92

2012 Masi Costasera Amarone Classico, Veneto, Italy (LCBO 317057 $43.45 in stores and online) 

I gave the 2011 vintage of this wine 92 points, but the 2012 now on shelves is slightly better still. It just brims with powerful aromas and flavours of dark fruit cordial, cigars, autumnal aromas and melted bitter chocolate with a hint of molasses. The mouth-coating fruit and full-bodied weight is supported by refined and textured tannins with no hard edges. Pour this exciting wine with steak charred on the surface — Chicago-style — and prepare to swoon. 

Average U.S. price: $69*

Score: 92+

NV Fresita Sparkling Wine, Chile (LCBO 383901 $14.15 in stores and online) 

This sparkling wine infused with fresh, hand-picked Patagonian strawberries — no artificial flavours or colours — tastes like the freshest crush of berries imaginable with just the right balance of succulence and mouth-watering acidity to draw you back sip after sip. In fact, it’s so full of strawberries, a fine pulp settles in the glass as you drink it. Whenever I pour it for someone, they just absolutely fall in love with it.

Average U.S. price: $25*

Score: 93

2015 Santa Margherita Pinot Grigio Valdadige, Trentino, Italy (Vintages Essential 106450 $19.95 in stores and online)

This ragingly popular white — it’s actually the bestselling Pinot Grigio in North America — costs considerably less in Ontario. Nice to know given it’s a great go-to Italian that will please everyone from the newbie to the more seasoned wine drinker. Citrus scents lead to a brisk hit of grapefruit that quickly tapers to a long complex finish of grapefruit oil, raw nut, talc and salt.

Average U.S. price: $32*

Score: 90

*The average prices in the U.S. were obtained from, a searchable database of more than nine million wines from more than 84,000 merchants around the world.

Carolyn Evans Hammond is a Toronto-based wine writer. She is also a London-trained sommelier and two-time bestselling wine book author. Reach her at .