20 under $20 for July 2015
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 July version of the 20 under $20.
Bill Zacharkiw’s Picks
30C? Bring it on! It’s my time for intensive gardening and home renovations. But at the end of the day, the payback is a chance to hang out on the terrace, drink some vino and think about what I’m going to slap on the BBQ.
I love the late afternoon aperitif, and recently drank a fantastic sparkling cider, the Dandy Dog from Quebec’s Entre Pierre et Terre. Dry and elegant, keep this cool to quench that thirst. If cider scares you, which it shouldn’t because Quebec is a leader in turning apples into boozy fun, Le Master from Donatien Bahaud is a Muscadet that does everything right. The 2010 vintage is on the shelves right now and if you have never had an aged Muscadet, this is your chance.
One of the best whites I have tasted this summer comes from the Bergerac region of France’s southwest. The 2014 Cuvee des Conti from Chateau Tour des Gendres takes the semillon/sauvignon blend to another level, and is killer with spring rolls!
If red is your gig, and you want a wine that you can drink on its own, as well as pair with white meats, the Costieres de Nimes from Chateau la Tour de Beraud is your wine. Keep it around 16C, and watch it disappear way too quickly. And finally, if you are going the red meat route, and want a smokey, full bodied wine for a great price, the 2008 Carinena Carona de Aragon Reserva is what you need. Rich, fresh and for $18, great complexity.
Marc Chapleau’s picks
Summer is here. Summer is here! Well at least the Quebec version where it’s lethally hot for a few days and then we almost freeze. But by the time you read this, if all goes as planned, we should collectively be basking in true summer weather. So am I just packing white wines these days? Not at all. Just chill your reds a touch more than you would normally do, which will suffice to make them a perfect elixir to beat the heat.
I will, however, start with two white wines. From Spain, the Gran Vina Sol 2013 from Torres, which I find is even better than the previous vintage. A chardonnay that is both ripe and tropical, but refreshing and focused. If you have a thirst for a sauvignon blanc, the Reuilly 2014 Dyckerhoff at $20, which is by definition not under $20, but I took the liberty to stretch that extra penny because it is worth it. Tasty and twitchy, just what I look for in a great sauvignon.
Now onto the reds, starting in Greece. The Rapsani 2012 Tsantali, at just over $12, is an interesting and relatively powerful mix of cherry fruit with slightly bitter herbs which reminds me of Brio Cinotto. To finish off this month’s suggestions, two more wines from Torres, the Sangre de Toro 2013 and its big brother of sorts, the Gran Sangre de Toro 2011. The first wine, easily recognizable on the shelves due to the plastic bull that hangs from the bottle, is supple and spicy, and drinks with ease. Big brother shows the spice as well, which comes no doubt from the oak barrels, but has more power, depth and a solid tannic finish.
Remy Charest takes a Walk on the White Side
Not only have I been drinking a lot of white wines these past few weeks, but everything that caught my attention is under $20. Call it an affection for the various shade of wine – even though, in fact, my first selection isn’t really a wine.
My top discovery has been a sparkling pear from the truly exceptional producer Entre Pierre et Terre. It shows great finesse and precision, and will give you as much pleasure as any sparkling wine in its price range. A must.
While we’re stepping off the beaten path, let me join my colleague Bill Zacharkiw in suggesting that ‘weird’ whites are the way to go. My suggestions start with the Prova Regia, a delicious wine made from the arinto grape variety, and yet another one of those treasures that are gaining attention in Portugal – as they well should. In the same vein of weird, you will be happy with the Altesse from Cave de Chautagne in Savoie, a grape variety that delivers a lot of freshness and energy.
I’m constantly singing the praises of aligoté in this monthly feature, and the JF & PL Bersan provides a good, easy introduction to the grape. Typical aromas of white fruit (and a touch of pastry) are showcased in a round and generous wine.
Finally, I’ve said a number of times how much I love the range of gamays made by Henry Marionnet in the Loire valley, and I must say I need to add his sauvignon blanc to the list of his very successful cuvées. Is it as remarkable as those aforementioned gamays? I couldn’t tell you : the bottle was empty well before I could make up my mind.
Nadia Fournier’s selections
Last week, while preparing my 2016 Guide du vin, I tasted dozens of South African wines. To my great surprise, I discovered a number of wines, both red and white, that were both wonderfully drinkable, and affordable.
Owned by the Dornier family, who produces aeronautic equipment in Germany, this Stellenbosch winery hits a home run with their The Pirate of Cocoa Hill 2012. Lots of volume and richness without sacrificing freshness and drinkability. Excellent length for a wine at this price.
If you are looking for, and excuse the expression, a Bordeaux styled wine, the Manor House 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon from Nederburg is one of the better wines recently added to the SAQ’s regular product listing. An excellent red wine from the Paarl region: honest, straightforward and without any superfluous make-up. Dry and powerful, and with a lot of volume for the price.
The Swartland region has somehow managed to stay sheltered from the winds of modernism that has engulfed many wineries in the Cape during the 1990’s. This rebel spirit is reflected best in certain wines such as the Secateurs 2012 Red Blend from Adi Badenhorst. No lack of volume here, even if the wine is no more than 13,5 % in alcohol. And what amazing freshness. A wine to drink, Swartland style.
Even richer, the Porcupine Ridge 2014 Syrah is another great example of the Swartland spirit. Delicious, full of dark fruits with a base of smoked meat and aromatic spice. The tannins are ripe and suave, coat your mouth and offer up excellent length.
Finally, in the spirit of high drinkability as the Badenhorst red, his 2014 Chenin blanc is absolutely delicious. Full of ripe fruits, with a rich texture without going overboard. It’s an excellent entry point into the great potential of the Swartland region.
The complete list: 20 under $20
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