20 under $20 in BC: January 2015
Altogether Now: We Resolve to Spend less and Drink Better
We know. You have bills. And you’re resolving. But it doesn’t mean you can’t still enjoy wine in post-holiday season January. In fact, I recommend the complete opposite.
Instead of tying yourself to strident resolutions that you won’t stick to (no wine – HA!), resolve to spend less and drink better. Explore paying attention to one glass of honest, authentic, interesting wine with dinner rather than downing a few glasses of plonk mindlessly. You needn’t spend more than $20 to find bottles to transport you around the globe in your glass. And by slowing down, focusing on what you’re drinking and where it’s from, you’ll be protecting your bank account while growing your wine databank.
Here are 20 wines to welcome you to January, and a year of drinking mindfully and smartly.
Though daylight hours are shorter, my tasting hours are longer in January. There isn’t much incentive to venture outside into Vancouver’s downpours, so I’ve been catching up on wines and notes while taking full advantage of a warm, dry office.
As the label says, MMM. MMM Macho Man Monastrell from Jumilla, Spain is 100% monastrell from very old vines, full with black fruit and floral notes and leather and black peppery on the finish. Great for warming and satisfying.
Stay in for pizza and a movie night with a tumbler of Santa Cristina 2012 Sangiovese Toscana. The fresh, soft, juicy palate shows plum jam, black licorice, spicy, savoury flavours in a simple but well made wine. Solid value here.
If you’re in the mood for white wine, pick up Red Rooster 2013 Pinot Gris from our Okanagan Valley. Pear, floral, apple skin notes melt into similar flavours on the palate, and finishes dry and mineral-focused. Great for poultry or lighter pork dishes.
Or for a fuller, creamier white, The Show 2012 Chardonnay is a mix of cool fruit from Sonoma and Monterey appellations, fresh with pear and ripe apple, impressively dry and with some French oak to add texture and weight. A perfect wine for grilled scallops or lightly prepared calamari. Fair value.
It’s been a couple of years since I tasted Wolf Blass Yellow Label Sparkling, so I was happy to see it remains reliable and at a crowd-pleasing price. Refreshing juicy, citrus, honey apple flavours go down easily and will brighten a dull January day.
If ever there was a time when we need smashing deals, this is it. We are tightening our belts (literally and figuratively) and getting ready for the potential debacle of a new government liquor pricing policy (see my colleague Anthony Gismondi’s sobering words here) that could potentially greatly reduce the diversity that we currently enjoy. I’d start stocking up on your favourite premium priced wines, and when they are safely in the cellar, try these 5 bottles that deliver on every penny.
I was charmed by Chateau de la Gravelle 2013 Muscadet at a great new Kitsilano bistro, and it’s gratifying to find it on the monopoly shelves. It’s the real deal leesy muscadet, with extra heft and thrust from superb volcanic terroir, and a heroic pairing with a simple prawn salad, or croque monsieur.
In a similar stony vein is the Quinta do Ameal Louriero 2013 Vinho Verde from coastal Portugal. Floral, briney and delicate, it’s as lively an aperitif wine as you could hope for.
Staying in Portugal, try the cheeky rosé from Gazela next time you have 11 bucks burning a hole in your pocket. Yes, I know you’re thinking I’m bonkers recommending a fruity rosé in the middle of January, but it truly is a soothingly mellow winter drop. Made from native, characterful red grapes, low alcohol and possessing tangy sweetness, you’ll love sipping it after a brisk tromp in the woods or après-ski, should you find any snow this year.
Perfect for the fireside is Tommasi’s Merlot Le Prunée, a robust red for lamb Shepherd’s Pie or pizza (which you are allowed to eat on your lap) or a nice hunk of cheese.
Finally, a delightfully rich and mellow wine I tasted over many hours, looking for a chink in its armour and finding none, is Alceño 50 Barricas Syrah from Jumilla, Spain.
Rhys Pender MW
I’m writing this from Thailand where everyday is 30 degrees (and wine is ridiculously overpriced so I’ve only drunk beer for 3 weeks) but a quick check on the thermometer at home shows -8 C. I know I’ll be craving red wines, grilled meats and hearty stews when I get home in a week. The $20 mark also is a good target at this time of year when the Christmas and holiday VISA statements start coming in. Here are five choices that will not disappoint; some lighter, some heavier, some cheaper, some earthier, some fruitier but all worthy of picking up a few bottles to warm you through winter. (Click on the bottle images or names below for the details and my review)
Back to school, back to work, back to reality. In the thick of deadlines, 2015 scheduling and holiday recovery mode, I’m in need of some comfort wines.
Is there anything more comforting to drink than an aged red wine on a drizzly wet winter’s day? Instant comfort via the 2005 Anciano Gran Reserva Tempranillo Aged 7 Years, with its mellow, sweet aged vanilla oak aromas and earthy tea leaves, dried raspberry and dusky, dusty fruits on the finish. Pour with sage dusted pork dishes.
Calatayud’s Pablo 2012 Old Vine Garnacha is another Spanish warmer winner, round and ripe, with black cherry, anise, blackcurrant jam and cracked black pepper. Nice, honest fruit concentration over slightly ragged tannins, urge you to partner with grilled pizza or ragú sauced pastas.
I’ve been on a curry kick as of late (more comfort dishes). Kuhlmann-Platz 2013 Gewurztraminer has been a regular pour, a medium bodied off-dry gew delivering peach blossoms, pink grapefruit, roses and a heady, potent ginger spice note on the finish.
CedarCreek Rosé Pinot Noir 2013 will brighten your day through its alluring delicate fruit and hue alone. Wild ferment pinot noir fermented long and cool in stainless steel teems with savoury wild strawberries and finishes with persistent spice. Polished and elegant enough to pair with your poached salmon or poultry.
Sometimes, only a big, built red will do. When you’re hankering for rustic casseroles or tourtière, Montes Classic Series 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon will meet you there. This plumy, approachable medium-bodied cabernet is drinking well now (especially with that beef) but will continue to hold and improve over the next 2-4 years. And at this price, you can afford to lay a couple down for a couple of years.
If you can’t decide on one of these twenty wines, try one of the 1500+ wines available during Vancouver International Wine Festival week at the end of February. Tickets to public events went on sale Tuesday, January 6, and your ticket is FREE if you book a downtown hotel with www.beVancouver.com. Details at www.vanwinefest.ca. The entire WineAlign West team will be on hand, as will some of our colleagues from across the country. Oh yeah, and tens of thousands of other wine lovers from around the globe. Watch for our VIWF coverage to kick off this month with Treve’s Travels, and WineAlign West will focus exclusively on the festival wines and events throughout February.
Editors Note: You can find complete critic reviews by clicking on any of the highlighted wine names, bottle images or links. Premium subscribers to WineAlign see all critics reviews immediately. Non-paid members wait 60 days to see newly posted reviews. Membership has its privileges; like first access to great wines!