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 is the June version of the 20 under $20.
Chillin’ it with Bill Zacharkiw
As the temperature starts to climb towards more reasonable numbers, it’s important to pay extra attention to service temperature, especially for your reds. Drinking wine outside on a plus 20C night is amazing, unless your wine of course is the same temperature. So keep an ice bucket handy to give your wines a dunk if they start to creep too high. 18C is the maximum.
Whites are often served too cold, but some should be served on the cooler side. The fabulous 2013 Riesling from Selbach-Oster is one such example. The wine is perfectly balanced between its acidity and residual sugar, so keep it at 8C to maintain that equilibrium.
Good chardonnay is about acid and texture. Too cold and you just get the acid. So a wine like the 2014 Chardonnay from Argentina’s Salentein should be started at 8c, but don’t fear if it goes up to 12C. It will get more aromatic and rich.
Rosé service can be perplexing. If they are sweet keep them cold. But for top flight and very dry pink wines like the 2013 Côtes-du-Rhône Altitude from Clos Bellane, ideal service temperature is between 10-14C. Remember, these are made with red grapes and if you want to appreciate the aromatics, they can’t be served like a beer.
14C is where rosé and reds meet. For fruity and fresh reds, like the 2012 Cheverny from Domaine Sauger, it is the ideal starting point. Don’t let it go much over 16C or you will lose the crispy acidity and fresh fruit.
More powerful wines, like the 2013 Signargues Côtes-du-Rhône Villages from Pierre Henri Morel, should be started at 16C, but can warm up nicely a few degrees to highlight the texture and more subtle aromatic notes in this rich and complex wine.
Remember, the best way to turn a great wine into a bad wine is to serve it at the wrong temperature!
Marc Chapleau’s picks
Saint Clair Sauvignon Blanc 2014 : Very stereotypical sauvignon blanc from New Zealand, and very good! Nice aromatic complexity with notes of asparagus, litchi, grapefruit and boxwood, amongst others, but its success lies in its balance between acidity and residual sugar. At 4 grams/l, it does the job. No complaints.
Artazuri Garnacha 2013 : What a great buy! Purple toned, fruit and spice with notes of oak as well, but the ensemble has a beautiful twitchiness, so it is not overly powerful and there is a refreshing acidity on the finish. At around $15, this Spanish bargain is a great accompaniment for any meat you might want to throw on the grill.
Cistus Douro Reserva 2013 : a blend of indigenous Portuguese varieties dominated by tinta roriz, otherwise known as tempranillo. This is all about the fruit, textured and supple, and not so powerful that it looses its adaptability at the table. At under $13, a very good buy.
Château Camarsac Bordeaux supérieur 2010 : Typical Bordeaux nose that shows a slight evolution towards more tertiary aromas, even if the wine is barely 5 years old. But the wine still has lots of life as the acidity is still vibrant, the flavours still powerful. A promising wine for a short stint in the cellar and to be revisited in 2017-2018.
Mas Collet Montsant Celler de Capçanes 2012 : Robust Catalan red that is built for power. Harkens images of southern Rhône wines from Gigondas and Châteauneuf-du-pape, though more tannic, less rich and more mineral. At $17.55, an excellent value.
Remy Charest’s Selection
This month’s affordable wines come with three summer questions…
First, if a wine is called Lac des Roches it should go well with a fishing trip, right? Well, this aromatic, low-priced Greek white (under 13$) would go well with a freshly caught trout, that’s for sure. Its name refers to a particularly rocky lake located not too far from the vineyards used by producer Boutari to produce this easy drinking, aromatic blend that shows, once again, the great deals you can get from Greek wines, especially the whites.
Second question : what type of red goes well with a BBQ? When dealing with lots of sauces and spices, or the condiments used with burgers and hot-dogs, I say keep it simple and affordable. But that doesn’t mean there is only one profile available. For instance, you could go with generous fruit and spice, as exemplified by the Tautavel by ex-rugby champ Gérard Bertrand. Or choose a wine like the Don Pascual Tannat-Merlot, which is more on the smoky, tomato paste profile. Both do their thing very well.
Finally : do all rosés taste the same? Just for fun, I tasted the 2014 rosé by François Chartier side by side with the well-known Pétale de Rose. A good way to taste both the differences, as well as the similarities. While the former is rather colorful, the latter is extremely pale. The fruit character on the Chartier is a bit more exuberant, but the Pétale expresses itself in a more open, ethereal way. The best part? Both are quite dry, which makes them all the more refreshing.
Nadia Fournier’s selections
Need a change of scenery as you await your vacation? You have to taste the Pipeño 2014 from Louis-Antoine Luyt. 100% país (an ancient Chilean grape brought over by Spanish missionaries), made in the traditional Chilean way – sorted and crushed by hand and vinified in open cuves. Light (12.5 % abv), refreshing with lots of fruit and a subtle animal note that brings a certain rusticity, but well within reason. Good wine that should be served on the cool side.
On the richer and more powerful spectrum, the Tradition 2012 from Denis Ferrer et Bruno Ribière (Ferrer-Ribière) will more than adequately satisfy even around the BBQ. Beautiful expression of the Roussillon’s great grapes – syrah, carignan, mourvèdre and grenache. A wine that’s full of sunshine, suave and gourmand, with just enough tannin. At under $20, an easy purchase.
I just returned from Santorini, where I re-discovered with pleasure the Atlantis 2014 from the Argyros family who have chosen the soften up the characteristic vivacity of the assyrtiko grape with a small proportion of indigenous grapes athiri and aidani. A wonderful example of a white wine, dry and mineral, that transports you the beach. Bring on the seafood.
Since its arrival on the Quebec marketplace, the Pive Gris from the Jeanjean family has been consistently one of the better rosés available. The latest vintage is just as good, with its delicate fruit notes, just enough richness, and full of vitality and a touch of salinity.
Another sure value is the Genoli from Ijalba. It always charms with its freshness as well as the aromatic originality brought by the viura grape. Whether drunk as an aperitif or at the table, it’s easy to appreciate it refreshing and thirst quenching nature. A Summer must!
The complete list: 20 under $20
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