San remy MonicaHere is a wine for about $17 that is not only well balanced, but actually far more interesting than most anything one can find for under $20. What I mean is it’s tasty: roses, violets, raspberries and blackberries dance with a touch of cranberry and white pepper. Full of fruit, but not in a juvenile way.

The 2012 San Remy Monica di Sardegna ($16.95 – LCBO# 395947) is made by Ferrucio Deiana in Sardinia and is available through the LCBO’s Vintages program: look for it in the Southern Italian section of the store. Your humble writer notwithstanding, Monica di Sardegna is not a particularly celebrated grape. Of Monica, Jancis Robinson writes in the Oxford Companion to Wine (3rd Ed., 2006) “its wines are generally indistinguished and should be drunk young…” Perhaps, production at houses like Ferrucio Deiana have improved in the decade or so since Robinson’s observation, as winemakers eye export markets. Interestingly there is little on the Monica grape to be found online, even the Wikipedia page is not much more than a stub. Will this be a breakthrough grape for Sardinia? Or is the San Remy a happy outlier?

In any event, it’s a worth a try if only to get out of red wine winter rut. I’d pair it with red sauce pasta, or something simple like sausages with roast potatoes and dark greens.

Malcolm Jolley is a founding editor of Good Food Revolution and Executive Director of Good Food Media, the company that publishes it. Follow him on Twitter or Facebook.