20 under $20 for October
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 is the October version of the 20 under $20.
Rémy Charest picks
It’s Autumn and there are more leaves on the ground than in the trees, and still no snow on the ground to play with. It makes you just want to stay inside.
But you can still travel around the world through wine- call it grey weather avoidance.
Going to the SAQ will, for instance, allow you to take a trip to Turkey and taste an expressive, round white like Vinkara’s Qattro Beyaz, a blend of narince, emir and chardonnay. It’s a very sunny wine, whose international contribution from chardonnay sits quietly in the background of the Turkish natives’ unique aromas.
Already dreaming of sliding down the ski hills? Savoie would be a terrific destination, although it’s simpler to dive into a bottle of Abymes 2013 by Domaine Labbé, a simple, bright and energetic wine made from the Jacquère grape. It screams for raclette or cheese fondue.
Now, if the southern sun is what floats your boat in the cold season, head for Sicily and grab a bottle of the delicious and bright Terre di Giumara Frappato from Caruso and Minini. It’s bursting with lovely cherry and spice, and everything nice, and shows how wine from the warm side of the planet can still be fresh and balanced.
Saying that the frappato could remind you of a gamay is no joke. Still, it’s not quite the same thing, as you can tell when you taste the scrumptious strawberry and clove notes of the 2013 Gamay de Touraine by Domaine de la Charmoise, which just made its return to the SAQ shelves. It has the light and bright character of a summer red, no doubt, but its spicy and approachable character make it a wine for all seasons.
You don’t need to even go very far to discover something different, like the 2012 Baco Noir from Henry of Pelham. Grown right next door, in Niagara, Ontario, this hybrid grape was created in France in 1902 in response to the phylloxera scourge that had come from the Americas. Its profile is quite unique, with bright black berries up front, in counterpoint with meaty, smoky undertones. For barely $15, you’ll be getting quite a nice change of scenery.
Bill Zacharkiw’s suggestions
I must admit that November is my least favourite month. It’s cold, there’s the first snow on the ground, but not enough of the white stuff to play outside. So time to hunker down inside and have some fun. I’ve picked five very interesting wines to help you pass the time.
First up are two Italian whites. The first is Maculan’s 2013 Pinot & Toi – a blend of tokai with pinot blanc and pinot grigio. The result is one of the more interesting aromatic wines that I have tasted of late. Great as an aperitif or with lighter seafood.
The second is from further south along the Adriatic coast. The grape is verdicchio and the wine is the 2013 Casal di Serra from Umani Ronchi. So versatile, so tasty and so elegant, I was blown away how well this is drinking.
For my reds, I’ve chosen a few wines to satisfy a variety of palates, and for every occasion. If you are looking for that go to, mid-week red that just revels in fruit and freshness, then look no further than the 2012 Montepulciano-d’Abruzzo from Masciarelli. Keep it at 16C and drink it with whatever you want.
Want something even more traditional? I was really happy when I saw the Montecillo’s 2010 Crianza in my tasting line-up. This is classic Rioja, from the delicate fruit and tannin, to the subtle notes of tobacco and leather. At $18, an easy purchase.
And finally, one of my favourite cold weather meals is braised meat. Slow cooked in red wine, tamari, ginger and garlic, it is my definition of comfort food. To pair with this richly textured meat, I love drinking Australian wines. Try the 2013 19 Crimes GSM. Made with grapes grown in the cooler region of Victoria, this is the classic syrah, grenache and mataro (mourvedre) blend, but with no residual sugar or excessive oak influence. Well done, pure fruit, and so easy to drink.
Nadia Fournier selections
Contrary to Bill, I love November. While it may be grey, it’s a month replete with cultural and vinous activities: la Grande Dégustation de Montréal, le Salon des Importations Privées, Montréal Passion Vin, le Salon du Livre, etc. It’s also the month for slowly cooked dishes and long dinners. So look on the bright side: with days getting shorter, that gives us a few extra hours to sit down at the dinner table.
Speaking about those protracted dinners, here’s a wine that will be a worthy part of those evenings. Grown on the hillsides of Sienna, outside of the Chianti Classico appellation, the Carpineta Fontalpino Colli Senesi Chianti 2013 will rapidly hasten a second glass. Nuanced, vibrant and so drinkable.
Another wine with high drinkability is a very good red from Portugal’s Dão region. In the process of converting to organic agriculture, the 2011 Quinta dos Roques is the ideal wine for to accompany a braised pork. It’s even better when served at 15C.
In the same vein, with floral and spice notes is the 2011 Château Bouissel which shows the virtues of the negrette grape, an ancient indigenous French grape variety that is emblematic of the Fronton region in France’s southwest, and is part of the same family as malbec and tannat.
Looking for an aperitif? Oyster season is here and to accompany them , you should try the 2013 Cliffhanger Riesling from the Mosel. Nervous, with a biting acidity that is so refreshing and thirst quenching.
On a much more substantial level, and which would pair nicely with Oysters Rockefeller, the 2013 Cuvée des Conti from Château Tour des Gendres struck me as very intense this vintage. The attack is almost austere. While its merits lie in how it is not necessarily an ‘easy” wine, for any lover of dry white wines, this is a choice you can make with your eyes closed.
Marc Chapleau’s choices
When I was young, and I’ll admit that it’s been a few years, we referred to November as the “dead month.” Well times have changed. Now in the world of Québécois wine and food culture, it’s “happy November.” And that means lots of wine.
My first suggestion is the Côte-de-Brouilly 2012 from Georges Duboeuf. Delicious and light bodied, with refreshing acidity and a gorgeous note of cherry .
A touch more powerful, the Verona IGT 2012 from Bolla has a similar profile to the Beaujolais I just mentioned, but with a touch more of those classic, rustic Italian tannins on the finish.
Even more power can be found in a wine from a Bordeaux appellation best known for its sweet wines. The Château de Ricaud 2010 is a red Cadillac-Côte-De-Bordeaux that marries fruit and oak magnificently, and at a very reasonable price.
From the Languedoc, the Corbières Château Grand Caumont « Impatience » 2011 is even more generous in its fruit and texture.
Finally, from Chile, 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon Reserva from Cousino Macul Antiguas once again scales the heights of this great grape, and perhaps with an elegance and finesse that I have yet to see from this wine.
The complete list: 20 under $20 for October
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