New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc has become one of the trendiest wines of this decade. This is a little surprising because Sauv is not to everyone’s liking. It’s an extreme, abrasive wine. Can be as annoying as your teenager’s music. “And do you have to play it so loud?”

But loud wine makes a good aperitif. It gets things going. And New Zealand Sauv is great for a lift — as in the first hour of an evening, or starting a party. But after a few glasses, most of us are in the mood to switch to something tamer. That’s where my selection below comes in. Many Chilean wineries make a mild version of Sauvignon that’s still zesty, but not so extreme. More of a fun-to-sip house wine.

Santa Carolina’s Sauvignon may be one of the best $10 house wines on the planet. But that’s for you to decide.


My red pick is another wine that doesn’t conform to the usual expectation of the grapes involved. Don’t be expecting super richness. Sure, there’s a little Merlot cuddle, and a little Cabernet seriousness, but mainly what you get is Italian vitality and gusto. Wine that’s bold enough for steak, fun enough for pasta — and affordable.

I’m curious to hear what you think because I’d also put this in the “world’s best house” league. Two of the best in one week, I hope you’re up for it.

This is the third week of our contest to find good inexpensive wines. If you’ve missed a few weeks and want to catch up, the columns are posted at

E-mail me your comments about each week’s wines at info@billysbestbottles.comand you could win a copy of Billy’s Best Bottles Wines for 2007.

Billy Munnelly is author, wine critic and publisher of Billy’s Best Bottles Wineletter and Billy’s Best Wines For 2007. Visit www.billysbestbottles.comfor information about his in-home wine-tasting seminar. To receive a free copy of Billy’s Best Bottles Wineletter, e-mail


•Santa Carolina 06 Sauvignon Blanc Reserva, Chile, left

LCBO NO.: 337535

Price: $10.95

• Casal Thaulero 05 Merlot/Cabernet, Italy, right

LCBO NO.: 621953

Price: $7.10

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