20 under $20 for August 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.
Back to school for the kids perhaps, but summer still has a few solid weeks to go. So to bring you into September and the weekend let’s drink light and fresh whites, and a few reds that will pair well with the BBQ. Here is the August version of the 20 under $20.
Bill Zacharkiw’s picks
Need a few whites that work well as an aperitif, or with seafood and other lighter fare? I’ll start with a thirst quenching and excellent 2014 aligioté from Jaffelin. One of the better versions of Burgundy’s “second white grape” that I have tasted. Pack this back on its own with delight, or a lunchtime salad.
If you like whites with more aromatic intensity, try the 2013 Gentil from Hugel, an Alsatian wine that is fruity and spicy, and still remains quite dry. With a touch less intensity, but still with beautiful fruit and a surprisingly rich texture on the finish, the 2012 Cheverny from Domaine du Salvard is a wonderful mix of sauvignon blanc and chardonnay.
From you red fans, and especially if you have meats cooking on the grill, I have two excellent wines for you to try. From South Africa, the Boschendal Shiraz Mourvedre offers up a smoky note alongside ripe fruit and some superbly crafted tannins. Keep this at 16C and watch it disappear.
For a real bargain, the 2012 Bles Crianza is a wine from the Spanish region of Valencia, is organically grown, and is one of the best under $16 reds I have tasted of late. As an extra bonus, the wine will be on sale for a mere $13.70 until August 30!
Marc Chapleau’s picks
It’s time to harvest, and you can fill your basket with a number of wines that are under $15! While you might not fall off your chair due to complexity (these are not grandiose wines) they are the definition of excellent on the equality vs price meter.
Staring with the reds, the Venetian Santi Nello 2014 Pinot Nero is replete with freshness and body, despite that it has nominal tannin, and is not what I would call a typical pinot noir. But at $11.65, it’s very much worth a try.
With a touch more power with its ripe fruit and oak driven notes, the Portuguese Altano 2013 Douro is one of this year’s “must try” wines. At under $13, it’s a juicy and inexpensive wine that will regail.
Moving up in the power scale, yet still very fresh, the Septima 2014 Malbec from Argentina. The wood is very noticeable, which I like!
Staying with Spanish origins, but back to the source in Europe, the Monasterio de las Vinas 2008 Crianza, is a simple red, but with drive and body. It’s on sale for $11.30 until August 30 so take advantage of this even more reasonable price.
I left my white wine selection for last and it’s an SAQ classic, the 2014 Muscadet La Sablette. Hailing from the Loire valley, the wine surprises with its tropical fruit notes, which one normally doesn’t expect from a Muscadet. But due to its acidity, slight fizziness from being aged on its lees, and an alcohol level that is just over 12%, the wine does down with remarkable ease.
Remy Charest’s Choices
When it comes to sparkling wine, there is a quote from Napoleon Bonaparte that gets served just as often as the wine : “I can’t live without Champagne. When I win, I deserve it, and when I lose, I need it.” Personally, watching the sun set from my balcony is plenty enough reason for me to have bubbly, especially if it’s as delicious and affordable as the Blanc de Blanc from Domaine Baud, a crunchy Crémant du Jura made from 100% chardonnay.
I don’t need to feel the first hot days of May to have rosé, either. In the dog days of August, L’Esprit de Provence from Domaine du Grand Cros made me very happy with its dry and refreshing profile, doubled with enough stuffing to go with a tasty dinner.
I must have been easy to please, this month, because I even got a lot of fun drinking the Reuilly from Dyckerhoff, even though I’m not much of a fan of sauvignon blanc’s grassy varietal notes. Mind you, there’s just a touch of them in this particular Loire sauvignon, and with a tomato salad generously garnished with basil, the wine showed particularly well.
On the red side of things, Feuille de Garance from Domaine Rouge Garance, in the Rhône Valley, satisfied my thirst for red on a hot day, thanks to freshness and its great anise and spicy notes that went so great with a dish prepared with eggplant, tomato, fennel and olives. Ever so lightly chilled, it was really satisfying.
Finally, I also was happy to get another taste of Kocabag’s blend of öküzgözü and bogazkere, which showed expressive fruity aromas and a nice set of tannins, all in a very simple and affordable package. Sometimes, you just want things to be simple.
Nadia Fournier’s selections
Despite being best known for the mythical and long-aged wines of Piedmont and Tuscany, Itlay produces much more than wines for the cellar. From north to south, the country is source of soem excellent table wines, to be drunk daily, especially when accompanied by such dishes as pasta with a fresh tomato sauce. Speaking of which, it’s the season!
The co-operative Mezzacorna has maintained an excellent reputation, despite producing 25 million bottles a year. Their 2011 TR Riserva, made with local Trentino indigenous grape terodelgo, is the ideal wine to be served slightly chilled.
Masi’s 2014 Bonacosta Valpolicella is almost dry with 4.6 g/l of residual sugar, which is contrary to the majority of entry level Valpolicellas available at the SAQ. Just for that, it is deserving of a “thumbs up.” But it is also a juicy and gourmand wine, showing the typicity of the appellation, well balanced and so easy to drink.
A blend of 70% sangiovese with merlot and cabernet sauvignon, and made with organically grown grapes, the San Fabiano 2013 Casa Boschino is very typical of Tuscan wines with its gritty tannins, its refreshing acidity, as well as its mix of dark fruits and leather. For under $15, it’s an excellent purchase.
Year after year, the “little brother” of the Notarpanaro remains one of my favourite red wines under $20. The Taurino 2009 Riserva Salice Salentino shows signs of a certain evolution, which allows us to appreciate the aromatics of negroamara and malvasia even more. For the price, it’s a leader in its category.
Caruso and Minini, a Sicilian winery located in the western part of the island where one finds Marsala, makes an excellent frappato at a very accessible price. Gorging with fruit and suppleness. Nothing overly complex here, but a wonderfully thirst quenching wine.
The complete list: 20 under $20
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