Value Vintage

Fine wines for tight times. Boozy tea and a knife set that's a cut above.

Credit: BCBusiness

Jim Hoggan’s Wine Pick

The only thing better than a really good bottle of wine is a really good bottle of wine that you got for a really good price.

It took me a while to figure this out. When I started collecting, I went straight for the name brands: the big Bordeaux classics, the Cabs and Chardonnays from California and, on splashy days, the best shiraz that Australia’s Penfold Grange could provide.

But branding in wine has the same effect as in other high-end products: you pay a premium for big names. So with help from some wine-collecting friends, I started checking out the less popular regions and lesser-known vineyards. I soon found that a well-spent $30 or $40 could often buy a wine that was every bit as delicious as name brands that were selling for $100 or $150.

Here are three examples, all available at Liberty Wine Merchants ( The first, at $31.99, is the Charles Joguet 2005 Cuvée Terroir Chinon, a Cabernet Franc that shows why these robust grapes don’t need to be blended to be enjoyed. The second, at $39.99, is the 2004 Scali Pinotage. The Schoone Oord vineyard in the Paarl Region of South Africa’s Western Cape only began producing wine in 1993. It’s still a very small house but proves with the Scali that it can produce a very big wine. Third on the list, at $35.99, is the 2006 Coume Marie Préceptorie de Centernach, a Languedoc-Roussillon. Roussillon is the sunniest part of France, wedged against the Pyrenees, and while the exclusive Côtes du Roussillon Villages label has cachet, it still hasn’t inspired the kind of competition that drives up the price.—JH

Decant any of these wines for a couple of hours or cellar them for a few years and you will impress your most discerning guest.

Clean Cut
A quality knife set is a must-have for any working kitchen. The new Shun Ken Onion three-piecer – sheathed in a sleek bamboo box and consisting of a six-inch chef’s knife, a five-inch serrated utility knife and a three-inch paring knife – combines the renowned high-carbon steel construction of Shun blades with sophisticated and practical shapes by knife designer Ken Onion.—AB

$499.95, Williams-Sonoma,

Boozy Tea
Cure the winter chills with Joe Fortes’s warming Vanilla Chai. Blending the smooth taste of Navan vanilla-flavoured cognac with strongly brewed Bombay Chai tea, the spicy-sweet winter cocktail – topped with whipped cream and star anise sprinkles – is rich and aromatic, and definitely meant for sipping. —AB

$8 at Joe Fortes Seafood and Chop House,