20 under $20 for June
Monthly picks from our Quebec Critic Team
Ah yes, the end of the month. It’s the time when we pay for our excesses over the previous weeks. Well, fear not, this doesn’t mean that you still can’t drink well. Our four critics have chosen for you their favourite five under $20 wines that they have recently tasted. No cash? Still thirsty? No problem! Here’s June’s version of the 20 under 20.
Bill Zacharkiw’s Picks
We’re heading into July and that means holiday time and hopefully some hot weather. It’s also the time for fresh vegetables, seafood and of course, grilling things! I’m big on both bubbles and rosé, so why not get the holiday weekend off with a 2 for 1, and the superb Brut rosé from Segura Viudas. Like all of their Cavas, it’s dry, flavourful and with a “finesse for the price” ratio that’s off the charts.
I picked two very fresh whites that both work well as aperitifs, as well as with salads and lighter seafood. First up is Quinto do Minho’s 2013 Vinho Verde – classic in it’s citrus and spritz. The second is from Rioja, and Ijalba’s 2013 Genoli. Made with 100% Viura, few wines at this price level show such crispness and flavour.
My two red selections are both party wines that you can keep cool and pack back with abandon. Domaine la Rocaliere’s Lirac is organic, unoaked, and beautifully balanced. If you want a wine that shows great versatility, then Capezzana’s Barco Reale di Carmignano is my choice for the mixed grill.
Rémy Charest’s Picks
Looking to comfortably go off the beaten path? How about a white from the French Southwest where the wines show great balance between fresh and rich. The 2013 Chant des Vignes from Domaine Cauhapé, one of Jurançon’s most reputed producers, is a perfect example of the style, and ideal for light summer meals.
Some South African producers rolled into Eastern Canada recently, and it was a good occasion to taste some solid, well-made and well-priced wines. Chenin blanc is one of the stars of that country’s winemaking world, and Ken Forrester is one of the grape’s most avid supporters. His 2013 Petit Chenin is a great value with its bright flavours and zippy character.
Also from South Africa, The Wolftrap 2013 is a red that impresses year after year. This blend of syrah, mourvèdre and viognier shows no hint of those burnt aromas that some wine lovers still believe is a “signature” of South African wines. It’s not, and it’s worth trying this wine to perhaps get a fresh perspective on the country’s wines.
Fruity aromas and spice, ripeness and freshness: when all these elements come together, Languedoc wines present some of the best deals around. This entry-level red from Clos de Bagatelle, a producer who’s been present for a long time in Québec, hits all the right notes. (Les Jardines de Bagatelle 2012)
So you want a red that’ll stand up to your summer grilling? Does it really need to be big and oaky? How about a pinot noir with ample fruit that can stand up to your steak, but without beating you over the head with oak and high alcohol? Chill this just a bit, and enjoy. (Mark West 2012 Pinot Noir)
Marc Chapleau’s Picks
No argument that this is the season for drinking white, so I’m going to start with a Californian chardonnay. I know there was a time when many people were members of the ABC (Anything but Chardonnay) club. Those days are gone and California has changed its approach to chardonnay, and this new style is well exemplified by Wente’s 2012 Morning Fog Chardonnay. Rich and well oaked, but not at all heavy.
Changing direction, but still in white, let’s go to France and specifically Burgundy. But surprisingly, I’m not going to suggest a chardonnay. There is also a small amount of very good sauvignon blanc grown in the region, as you can taste for yourself in Bailly-Lapierre’s 2012 St-Bris.
This is the season when a fridge and an ice bucket are a necessity. Here are three red wines to serve slightly chilled, and will easily pair with almost everything you throw onto the grill, whether they be white, red or pink.
Well start in Spain and the tempranillo based Hoya de Cadenas 2009 Reserva. It has an alluring nose of raisins and tobacco, and while not extremely concentrated, it more than makes up for it in freshness.
While I am not usually a fan of malbec, I was charmed by the Argentine Pascual Toso 2012 Malbec Limited Edition. Floral aromatics, notes of dark plums and shows both great power and freshness on the palate.
Finally, from Bordeaux, a region which is all too easy to discount, I recommend to all those wine lovers who are looking for a traditional Bordeaux, where fruit and oak are married to perfection, to try Christian Moueix’s 2010 Merlot.
Nadia Fournier’s Picks
Put away your bottles of Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Ribera del Duero and Barossa shiraz until Fall. It’s summer, when we eat and drink much lighter. If you’re looking for a very good white wine for an aperitif, try Planeta’s 2013 Segreta Bianco, where a delicate bitterness on the finish begs you to take another sip.
Umani Ronchi’s 2012 Medoro Sangiovese is a great example of the classic “vino di trattoria,” a simple wine which matches perfectly with a “Pizza Margherita,” or a plate of pasta with tomato and fresh basil. Supple, flavourful and full of energy, and a bargain at $13.
Much richer, but equally fresh, is Argiolas’ 2010 Cannonau di Sardegna which shows both the seductively rich and juicy side of the grenache, which is called cannonau in Sardinia. Just try it with grilled sausages, yumm!
34 grams of residual sugar does nothing to take away from the balance and drinkability of Alvear’s Medium Dry Amontillado. Aromas of dried fruits, spice, smoke and tobacco are followed by a rich an unctuous texture, which make it an ideal match for a powerful cheese at the end of any meal.
Michel Gassier changed direction stylistically with his rosés two years ago, but the high quality has remained, Instead of a wine that shows that subtlety of the Provencal style, Gassier’s Buti Nages Vin Rosé 2013 can be appreciated for it’s rich texture and crunchy fruit.
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