Italy is known for its great value - Metro US

Italy is known for its great value

Favourite cheap wines contest enters final week

It’s the final week of our contest to find your favourite cheap wines. The results are coming next week, along with a few of your stories. I’d like to thank everyone who has e-mailed me to date. It’s comforting to know that people are still doing wine with cheese and crackers.

As most of you know, the Italian province of Abruzzi produces the best value reds in the world today. The $6 Montepulciano’s of Citra and Spinelli are annual features in this column, but there’s a sleeper that comes in a dark, mysterious, wonky bottle called Colle Secco. It’s a heartwarming, country wine that will make you feel you’re in the bosom of an Italian family at supper time.

Italy’s other great value province is Puglia, located at the heel of the country. It has a super hot climate so these wines have a richness and ripeness similar to Australia. Traditionally, this was a bulk wine producing region, but recently it has started to take winemaking more seriously.

Puglia’s Primitivo wine has become almost trendy since it was discovered that this grape was taken to California by immigrants, and later christened as Zinfandel. (Impress your friends with this trivia and wine.) Primitivo hits the spot with hearty pasta on a cold night.

  • Please e-mail your comments to info@billysbestbottles.com. You may win a copy of my annual wine buying guide, Billy’s Best Wines for 2007.

Billy Munnelly is author, wine critic and publisher of the most useful wine book on the market, Billy’s Best Bottles Wines for 2007, a guide to the best wines at the LCBO. Available in bookstores or at www.billysbestbottles.com.

For LCBO Vintages recommendations, wine events and in-home wine tastings, visit www.billysbestbottles.com.


• Pasqua ’05 Primitivo (at left)

Puglia, Italy

LCBO No.: 561928

Price: $10.30

• Cantina Tollo ’03 Montepulciano d’Abruzzo (at right)

‘Colle Secco’, Italy

LCBO No.: 195826

Price: $8.00

Mini Veal Burger on Brioch

Serves 1. mini veal burger

Mini Ontario Veal Burgers on Brioche. Lean veal relies on its natural water content, not fat in the muscle fibre for moistness. Searing and cooking for a short time helps lock in natural moisture.


  • 1 kg (2 lb) ground veal
  • 30 ml (2 tbsp) canola oil
  • 10 ml (2 tsp) chopped fresh thyme
  • 10 ml (2 tsp) minced garlic
  • 10 ml (2 tsp) kosher salt
  • 5 ml (1 tsp) cracked black pepper
  • 16 mini brioche buns
  • Suggested toppings: caesar salad, Oka cheese, grilled portobello mushroom caps, caramelized onions


  1. In a large bowl, mix together veal, oil, thyme, garlic, salt and pepper until combined. Using hands, shape into 50-ml (1/4-cup) patties. Set aside.
  2. Slice brioche buns in half horizontally.
  3. Meanwhile, heat grill or barbecue to medium. Cook patties, turning once, until no longer pink inside, about 2 minutes per side. Serve immediately.
  4. Suggested serving: Top brioche bottom with caesar salad. Add veal burger, 15 g (1/2 oz) Oka cheese, grilled portobello mushroom cap and caramelized onions. Top with remaining brioche half.

  • Wine match: California Merlot.

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