20 Under $20 in BC : August 2015
The Hazy, Lazy Days of Summer in the West
It’s not that we’re actually lazy, or (overly) hazy. It’s just that we’re doing our best to absorb the rest of summer. In a few short weeks we’ll be back together in Toronto to judge The World Wine Awards of Canada. Until then, we’ll be soaking up the sun, time with friends and family, and affordable, easy and quaffable wines like the 20 below.
The last weeks of summer begin hot on the coast and while temperatures are scheduled to abate, the sun persists with no appreciable rain in the forecast. That suggests outdoor dining will continue through Labour Day, making this month’s picks all the more enjoyable. Here are more classic summer sippers you can cool down with on the patio or serve by the barbecue.
Kick things off with a pair of delicious gewürztraminers: the Tinhorn Creek Gewürztraminer 2014, simply the best vintage of this wine I can remember and awash in aromatics. Hillside Gewürztraminer 2014 is so fresh and bright and juicy you can serve it on the patio or with food.
Summer reds, soft and sipable but ready to take on the fire and char of barbecuing takes us to Chile, Spain and Argentina. The Santa Rita Merlot Reserva 2014 meets the first duty of a reserva, which is to be better than the regular bottling. It’s all Maipo from its resiny, savoury notes to its black cherry, bay leaf and tobacco flavours that don’t quit.
The Castillo de Monséran Old Vine Garnacha 2010 comes from Cariñena and is made with 50 year old vines. Good value in a solid everyday workhouse red perfect for burgers, chicken, ribs and more.
Finally a wine that consistently over delivers for its price is the Trivento Amado Sur Malbec Bonarda Syrah 2013 – spicy, minty, smoky, juicy, black berry flavours will easily placate the visitors. See you in September.
Rhys Pender MW
Three French, a Portuguese and a British Columbian walk into a bar. Sounds like the start of a bad joke. But if they were nice enough to bring in these wines the scene would be no joke, especially when you see the value of these wines.
The Dão region of Portugal may be one of the most underrated wine regions in the world. The wines are often very good, the prices often very low. What else needs to be said? Try the Grilos 2012 Tondela for under $15 to get both fruit and savoury complexity.
The British Columbian came in with a viognier. Not a grape that you expect to do well in the great white north of Canada but when you realize that you can get it ripe but also keep some refreshing acidity you understand why BC is a top place to grow grapes. The Sandhill 2014 Osprey Ridge Vineyard Viognier is a good example. And it happened to go perfectly with an Indian curry the other day.
Then the Frenchies walked in to the bar… Something I really enjoyed was the Domain de Babio 2011 Minervois. This was really quite complex for under $20. Savoury, fruity and mineral for the price. A bargain 90 point wine from my perspective.
The superstar Chapoutier produces some pretty fancy wines around the world but they are also making some pretty good value stuff too. The 2013 Bila-Haut Rouge from the Roussillon is a great mouthful of rusticity for the price.
The final French selection is also from the south, this time from the less trendy but no slouch in quality, Ventoux region. The Château Pesquié 2013 Terrasses is a big, ripe bruiser of a wine but with a nice hit of the garrigue to keep it fresh and drinkable.
Fresh, crispy whites for a bargain price claimed my attention this week, necessary wines to combat the torrid heat in Vancouver. In this weather it’s best to stay outdoors by the bbq, so simple foods – either room temp or sizzled on the grill are where it’s at.
Goat’s cheese and butter lettuce salad is ideal for Porcupine Ridge Sauvignon Blanc 2014 – extra cheeky and snazzy with 15% sémillon added this vintage. Make the vinaigrette with the wine instead of vinegar for perfect consonance.
Grilled peach and burrata flatbreads deserve fruity Township 7 Pinot Gris 2014, a great debut vintage for new winemaker Mary McDermott.
Wild Goose is beloved for their pure, fruit-driven wines: their Autumn Gold 2014 is a summer in a glass, and I’ll enjoy mine with prosciutto-wrapped grilled peaches.
Remember when Lindeman’s Bin 65 Chardonnay 2014 was the ‘it’ wine? Well it’s never lost its solid form, and you can either gulp a glass while you shuck the corn, or wait until it comes off the grill, freshly slathered with chipotle butter.
Closer to home and just as gulpable, Fort Berens Chardonnay 2014 is racy with lip-smacking acidity. Who’d have thought that Lillooet-grown vines could channel Chablis?? Try with grilled oysters and lemony mignonette.
Summer – my summer anyhoo – is about having fun with friends and family, backyard BBQs and picnics, and giving not one care about prepping fancy foods. Same goes with the wines – I need fruity, fresh, easy, approachable (mixed crowds and ages not the time to experiment), screwcapped and summer friendly. The following five have worked well so far this season.
First up, a duo of BC rosés that couldn’t be more different. Salt Spring Island’s organically farmed Mistaken Identity 2014 Bliss is a crisp, dry, light bodied and pale pinot noir rosé that charms with its delicacy. In contrast, Moraine 2014 Pink Mountain Rosé is a deeply hued, deeply concentrated merlot/malbec blend, with punchy candied fruit and a full, sweeter body. No need to choose favourites – pick up both and let the crowds decide.
I still have sweet BC spot prawns in my freezer. On the next scorcher of an eve I might toss papaya salad, edamame and a duo of southern hemisphere sauvignon blancs to pair. The Leyda Valley Wave Series by Carmen 2013 Left Wave Sauvignon Blanc merges marine freshness with tropical fruit, for a fruity and crisp refresher.
The intense and creamy Twin Islands 2013 Sauvignon Blanc from Marlborough can easily stand up to strong flavours, with its pungent herbal notes and passionfruit juiciness
When you fire up the BBQ to grill sausages for the crowd, crack a bottle or few of Deakin Estate 2014 Shiraz. You’ll be surprised by this lighter, fresher red, one with ample smoked branch, perfumed plum and cracked pepper.
WineAlign in BC
In addition to our popular 20 Under $20 shopping guide, we publish the monthly Critics’ Picks report and include the wines across any price point and channel that excite us each month, as well as the BC Wine Report, a look at all things in the BC Wine Industry. Lastly, Anthony Gismondi closes out each month with his Final Blend column – an expert insight into wine culture and trends, honed by more than 25 years experience as an influential and global critic.
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