Malcolm Jolley recommends two new value priced products at the LCBO…

2019 Comuna Chardonnay Pinot Grigio (Argentina), $9.95, LCBO# 11929
2018 Comuna Shiraz Malbec (Argentina), $9.95, LCBO# 11930

“So Malcolm,” comes the dreaded question, “have you found any good wines out there for under $10?” It is generally answered with a pained smile and a “not really”. It is, from what I have learned hanging around winemakers, exceedingly difficult to make a decent 750 ml of fermented grape juice for a sticker price of under ten Canadian dollars. It does, from time to time, happen, but it’s rare. So, when the good people at Profile Wine Group* sent me samples of a newly available white and red wine from an Argentine label called ‘Comuna’, I was skeptical when I saw they were both priced at $9.95 each, then pleasantly surprised when their respective flavour profiles ran counter to what I expected and offer great value for their price.

The Comuna wines are made by the big Argentine wine company Avinea Group, whose best known label is likely Argento. This makes sense: a large concern will have both the mass purchasing power and access to a great number of growers, which means to make a value wine they can spread costs and select from a wide array of fruit. The Comuna wines I tasted seemed to be geared for a more sophisticated palate than most under $10 wines. Both were fresh with acid and ready for the table, and although both were big on fruit, they were not sweet. (I’d like to know more about how the wines were conceived… stay tuned!) In fact, the tech sheets on them say that the Chardonnay blend is a low 3.2 grams of residual sugar per litre, and the red blend a very dry 5.6. The declared alcohol on the wines is 13% a.b.v. for the white, and 13.5% for the red, and they’re not hot because both were in fine balance with their respective acidity.

Cold from the fridge, the Chardonnay Pinot Grigio blend showed pineapple, some citrus and other tropical fruits. The wine is 70% Chardonnay, and by my guess the Pinot Grigio is there mostly for fresh lift. When and if there are parties again, this will be a shrewd buy for them. The Shiraz (85%) Malbec (15%) blend was surprisingly elegant, despite being aged with a combination of French and American oak chips. The chips really seem to have imparted more structure than flavour, and I was struck by some brighter red notes, like raspberry, along with the dark ones. It’s a food wine. I’d kept the Red Comuna in my cellar for a few days and tasted it a little chilled, which I would recommend.

So, now I have my answer when I am next asked about under $10 wines, and its good to know in these uncertain times that one can economize without abandoning quality. At $9.95 each the Comuna Chardonnay Pinot Grigio and the Comuna Shiraz Malbec are worth a try.

*Who are, full disclosure, Good Food Fighters and support this website (so, please support them and buy their wines).