20 under $20 for August
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 August’s version of the 20 under 20.
Marc Chapleau’s picks
It’s officially the last long weekend of the summer. Sniff! But we aren’t going to idly standby with our arm’s crossed and watch the summer pass by. Even better, let’s open a few great bottles this weekend.
Do you have anything to celebrate aside from summer in Quebec?
Bubbles are always an excellent choice. For a change of pace, and especially considering the price, look to the Loire and the Flamme Brut Gratien & Meyer Crémant de Loire. Honey, spice, loaded with fruit, and a refreshing, almost crunchy finish.
If you are not interested in bubbles, another great option for an aperitif is the Prince Philippe 2013 Bourgogne Aligoté. Floral, edgy and with its relatively low alcohol, nice and light.
I have a few choices from the Spanish winery, Torres. It seems like this wine has been in the Quebec market forever. The 2012 Sangre de Toro, at just over $13, is a must. Great concentration and spice – so very garnacha.
A interesting idea would be to follow that wine by its big brother, the 2010 Gran Sangre de Toro, where the addition of carignan and syrah add a little more bite. As a plus, because of its refreshing acidity, it makes an ideal pairing for any grilled meat, even white meats.
Now, if there are any pregnant women, those who abstain from drinking, or simply those who are taking a night off, Torres also has your wine. I never thought I would like a wine without alcohol – it’s actually 0.5% but let’s round it down to zero – and while the Torres 2013 Natureo Muscat 2013 is obviously light, it shows a remarkable purity and is indeed, very “muscat.” So why not?
Nadia Fournier’s selections
Made by the talented Raúl Pérez in the region of his birthplace, the Joven 2011, Bierzo offers up a wonderfully fruity expression of the mencia grape. A ton of character for the price, this is a great initiation to the wines of the region.
Made with organically grown grapes and entirely with monastrell (mourvèdre), the Luzon 2013 Organic isn’t the most complex wine, but more than makes up for that with its rich mouthfeel – all fruit and with great length.
As always, the 2013 white from Evangelos Gerovassiliou is a superb marriage between malagousia, which brings volume and aromatics, and assyrtiko (fruit and acidity). An easy purchase for the price.
Light, but far from insipid, the 2013 Domaene Gobelsburg Kamptal Riesling has remarkable aromatics for such a subtle and delicate wine.
In the same spirit, but perhaps a touch less complex and aromatic, Gobelsburg’s 2013 Grüner Veltliner will please those wine lovers who love very dry, biting and uber-refreshing wines. Especially at this price.
Bill Zacharkiw’s picks
One last blast of summer? Let’s hope that Mother Nature has a few good weeks left for us. But my favourite thing about September is that it is an ‘R’ month, and that means oyster season is back! And what to drink? One word – Calcari. Made by Parès Baltà this is 100% xarel-lo, a grape normally used for making Cava. The salty mineral note is a perfect match.
We still need our dinner whites. I’m very optimistic about a beautiful Autumn. So try something new – a white wine from Portugal’s Dão region. Made with encruzado and cercial, Quinta da Ponte Pedrinha’s 2012 is a beautiful mix of fresh and rich. Think a light chardonnay in texture and mussels for your belly.
With the Labour day weekend coming up, there will be a lot of sitting around on balconies drinking wine with friends. Need festive reds that are best served at 16C, that will drink well on their own but also at the table? Try the 2012 Lou Maset from Domaine d’Aupilhac. Organic, silky, textured and wonderfully aromatic. Delicious.
If you want a touch more torque, the 2012 Pyrène Nature is a blend of malbec, cabernet franc and merlot that has some good tannin, but doesn’t get at all heavy. A Cahors-light might be a good description. Give this a few hours in a carafe to get the most out of it.
And finally, if you are looking for a red that will satisfy a broad cross-section of palates, the 2010 Gotim Bru from Castell Del Remei is a great mix of Spanish rusticity and New World ease. Bring on the BBQ sauce.
Rémy Charest’s choices
It’s like magic, isn’t it? Cool weather is followed by a hot and sunny spell… just as school is starting again. Oh, well, at least there’s some light white wines for the evenings to make you feel like it’s still 100% summer.
All those extra going back to school expenses are giving you the blues? Well, here’s an under-$12 white to make you feel better: the Two Oceans 2014 Sauvignon Blanc, from South Africa. It’s crisp and fresh, and not a caricature of the grape, like so many other examples from the southern hemisphere.
Also from the southern hemisphere, but just a bit further east, the 2013 Layers White from Peter Lehmann is also on the fresh and vivacious side of things, with a rather unusual blend of varieties. It’s also got a very moderate 11.5% alcohol, so you get freshness and an evening drink without regretting it in the morning.
I just can’t get enough Aligoté, these days. And my favorite bottle from the last few months has been the 2012 Bourgogne Aligoté from Domaine Naudin-Ferrand. It’s fresh and elegant, nicely showing citrus and white flowers, with just enough roundness and substance to make it all the more pleasant. More, please!
On the red side of things, a little freshness is always welcome, wince there’s still a little heat in the air, but that doesn’t mean the wines should only be light. The Goatfather a surprising blend from South Africa, will bring the best of both worlds together, on that account. South African wine with Italian flair.
“That’s under 20 bucks? Really?” When you’re so pleasantly surprised, as you look up a wine, you should take it as a really good sign. And that’s exactly how I felt after tasting the 2012 Dogajolo, from Carpineto, which I hadn’t come across in a little while. A pleasant Tuscan red that doesn’t think too highly of itself, good for summer, autumn and… beyond.
The complete list: 20 under $20 for August
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