A pin-up girl riding a giant fish? Two glossy purple smears? Check out these great wines with the worst labels at the LCBO
It’s what’s inside that counts. But when it comes to wine, looks matter too. Otherwise, how can that bottle ever hope to be plucked from the shelf. You would think, by that logic, only gorgeously labelled wines grace shelves at the LCBO. But that’s not the case.
Here are a few wines with plain labels that are deceptively delicious, starting with a sassy Sauvignon Blanc from Sicily.
The NV Era Organic Sauvignon Blanc Terre Siciliane IGT from Italy (LCBO 632307 $10.95) is not much to look at. The bottle sports a stark white label with a few line drawings of three green leaves. But the wine itself packs a lot of value for money in each sip.
This pale, crisp white wafts with aromas of rubbed oregano. Then it sweeps in with a dry wash of luminescence that’s understated but articulate. A brisk hit of lime shifts to ripe pear before tapering to a gently briny note of green olive and lime with a touch of oregano again that lingers on the finish. Score: 92
Also from Italy and sporting a forgettable label is the 2020 Arché Fiano IGT from Puglia, Italy (LCBO 13776 $9.75). The label with its series of circles and stripes on a pale blue background is some mix of modern and meh. But the wine is anything but.
Fiano is an Italian indigenous variety. And this elegant expression shines pale straw in the glass with silvery inflections then beams in with vivid vinosity that draws to mind whispers of grapefruit and honeydew melon, struck steel and crushed stones. Dry and quenching, it offers the classic restraint of many Italian whites making it an easy and versatile choice at the table. And it lingers on the finish with an attractively bitter twist of grapefruit zest. Score: 92
You could also easily overlook the 2020 The Fishwives Club Sauvignon Blanc from the Western Cape of South Africa (LCBO 15943 $11.80). The label features a woman that looks like a 1950s pin-up girl — in a bustier, sheer blue skirt and coiffed hair — riding a fish four times her size. It’s a curious image — especially plastered on a wine label. But there it is. And according to The Fishwives Club Boutique Winery website, the entire wine brand was built on images of scantily clad women riding fish. But the LCBO seems to only list the Sauvignon Blanc.
Nevertheless, the 2020 The Fishwives Club Sauvignon Blanc delivers honest value for money with its bright, passionfruit-lit attack with smoky undertones, each sip fading to a crisp finish with a touch of chalkiness that holds the fruit in place. Score: 90
Red wine drinkers might easily breeze by the 2019 Barone Montalto Nero d’Avola Cabernet Sauvignon DOC from Sicily, Italy (LCBO 621151 $9.55). The label simply shows two glossy purple smears — presumably implying the colours of the two grape varieties in the wine. But the wine delivers more pleasure than that simple label — and the low price — might suggest.
Each glass delivers easy pleasure. From the heady fragrance of smoked raspberry and bitter chocolate, this suave Italian glides in with a lush, velvety entry that fans out with muddled blackcurrant, granite, black peppercorn and a touch of dusty cherry. Delicious tension between sweet and savoury in this smart, undervalued red. Score: 94
And if you’re a fan of bold reds, don’t overlook the 2019 The Wanted Zin Zinfandel IGT from Puglia, Italy (LCBO 416487 $14.95). Yes, the label is gaudy and garish with the words, “The Wanted Zin from Old Vines Carefully Matured in American Oak” in all caps and crammed together. But the wine will almost certainly appeal to those looking for that big hit of sun-drenched fruit.
Expect full-blown blueberry pie aromas that lead to a rich crush of chocolatey fruit that cascades with sweet black cherry and poached plums, melting milk chocolate and burnt sugar before tapering to a long mocha finish. This is not a light wine. Score: 91
The upside of a delicious wine in a dire label is this — you should probably always be able to find some at the LCBO. Until some wine writer decides to give it great review.
Note to readers: In last week’s column, the 2019 Escudo Rojo Cabernet Sauvignon from Maipo, Chile was recommended. The correct LCBO product number for that wine is 13434.