20 Under $20 in BC : September 2015
A Fresh Fall Start
Back to school, to work, to the vineyards, to harvest. And for us critics, mid-harvest in the Northern hemisphere signals the season of serious tasting. It seems every day this month is dotted with portfolio tastings or new release launches. We’re tasting them all, looking for the best value for your buying dollar, like the 20 wines we’ve found below.
The corollary to eating local is drinking seasonal and as the rains return to the coast and temperatures moderate, wines that were not in play all summer return to favour. This fall we suggest you consider moving past the notion of changing colours, (red wine for all that rosé or white you have been drinking all summer) and think more about texture and weight. Take pinot noir for example: the colour is light but the flavour can be big, too big for a warm summer day. Tannin and alcohol is more appreciated with arrival of cool nights. Fall is also a great season to sip those richer California chardonnays and while rosé isn’t completely out, the move from the super light Provence style to the richer pinks of Tavel probably make more sense.
Today we switch to fall with four very different wines all suited to cooler days and nights. The Tabali Reserva Pinot Noir 2013 from the cool climate Limari Valley in Chile is a great way to slip into fall. Grown less than thirty kilometers from the cold Pacific Ocean it is the perfect match for BC salmon. For bigger structure and weight try the Chateau Peyros Madiran Tannat Cabernet Franc 2010 from Madiran, France. You will love its rich meaty, smoky, black fruit finish. Pair it with grilled flank steak. The 2014 growing season was one of the warmest in BC since 1998 and 2003 for both heat and length and you can feel it and taste it in the Maverick Estate Winery Sauvignon Blanc 2014. Expect classic sauvignon aromatics with ripe almost sweet honey grassy pink grapefruit flavours. Finally fall is malbec season and malbec blends may be even more appealing. I’m a big fan of the Vistalba Corte C Malbec Cabernet Sauvignon Bonarda 2014, from Luján de Cuyo, in Mendoza, Argentina and the 2014 is easily the most approachable version of this wine we have seen in years. Elegance and style is the hallmark of this year and makes it a perfect restaurant pick. And now, back to school.
Rhys Pender MW
“Everything should start with bubbly.” A quote I like to live by. To this end, a few weeks ago I decided to buy all the of the inexpensive Cava in BC and taste them blind to find which one truly deserved to be sitting in my fridge waiting for the next something to start. The winner was the very inexpensive Jaume Serra Cristalino Brut. It has a little autolysis complexity and seemed the driest and most refreshing.
As the weather gets cooler, I find myself more looking for wines that aren’t just pure refreshment but also with a little something something. Complexity, different flavours, something a little interesting. Okanagan Crush Pad is making many such wines and really pushing the boundaries for BC. One wine I recently found interesting is the Narrative White 2013, an interesting mouthful of flavour and with the texture and intensity to make it a great food wine.
Another great value and rather complex and interesting wine is part of McWilliam’s wines appellation series. From the cool, higher altitude vineyards of Tumbarumba comes the pretty slick McWilliam’s 2013 Appellation Series Chardonnay. It is in the modern Australian style of lively, crisp, nutty and refreshing, nothing like the old school fat butter and oak versions of a decade or so ago. At $20 this is a great way to see what good Aussie Chardonnay tastes like.
A wine that surprised me recently is the Sumac Ridge Private Reserve Gewurztraminer 2014. For many years one of the biggest selling British Columbian wines it has had mixed success over recent vintages, often weak and dilute. The 2014 is a happy jump back to a good level of intensity and flavour and this should be a great $15 option with some umami rich Asian food.
The last wine is a well-priced, characterful option for those chilly September nights. Good with a hearty stew or sausages, the Bleasdale 2012 Second Innings Malbec from Langhorne Creek in Australia has lots of spicy character to stand up to some flavourful dishes.
In celebration of Cape Wine 2015, my picks are a small sample of the South African wine treasure trove. I attended Cape Wine’s last show in 2013 and it was a remarkable time of discovery and delight… but I also felt a touch of regret that we don’t have a greater selection available here in BC. My choices are firm value picks, and while the Cape makes some of the world’s most thrilling and perhaps it’s true to say underappreciated, under-distributed wines (Crystallum, Chamonix, Porseleinberg), there are stunning values at every pricepoint. The Cape winelands rival the most beautiful in the world, and four visits to SA have left my heart aching at the profound vistas. Yes the vineyards are 16,000+ kilometers away from Vancouver, but it’s well worth the effort. *Treve Ring is off to Cape Wine this week for the first time, and will report back on her discoveries on WineAlign.
Goats do Roam White 2014 and Goats do Roam Red 2014 are ultra-reliable blends that evoke the Rhone as much as their Cape character, and will spring into action with end-of-summer barbeques of pork chops and bacon burgers.
Pinotage, the unique South African crossing of pinot noir and cinsault creates polarizing wines, none more perhaps than the deliberate wine-as-coffee styles. The Grinder Pinotage 2013 is one of these mocha incarnations, but there is enough pure fruit from dry-farmed vines to counter the smoky espresso oak treatment.
In complete contrast, KWV Roodeberg Red 2013 is an unwavering Cape classic, and in this vintage a big shwack of syrah (in my mind a great, great grape in the Cape) bolsters cabernet sauvignon handsomely.
Yes, I know it’s autumn – shortly. In the meantime, while I absorb up the last of late summer sunbeams, I will enjoy Cono Sur 2014 Bicicleta Pinot Noir Rosé’s sun-ripened sweetness and Bio-Bio’s breezy freshness. From nearby Leyda Valley, The Leyda 2014 Reserva Sauvignon Blanc will brighten gloomy fall days with its tropical tangerine notes and fine stony spice, especially poured with warming pea soup.
If mussels are in your bowl (lucky you) there are a couple of options. Masi 2013 Modello Bianco delle Venezie would complement a classic shallot and white wine sauce preparation, with its citrus blossom, almond and earthy notes, while if you’re thinking about preparing with a light green curry sauce, tuck into Quails’ Gate Vineyards 2014 Estate Gewurztraminer, with lemon, pear and melon leading the oily palate, and complementing the fragrant curry spices.
Chenin Blanc is one of my dearest grapes, so I was quite pleased to taste the waxy Inniskillin Okanagan 2014 Discovery Series Chenin Blanc, with yellow apples, medicinal herbs, apricots and a bracing wild mint note. It proved quite lovely with roasted pork tenderloin, as did the chewy Vigneti Zabu 2013 Il Passo Nerello Mascalese e Nero d’Avola, a warm blend of nerello mascalese and nero d’avola that utilizes Sicilian sun power to naturally raisinate the fruit, upping its intensity.
Of course, any meal is complemented by bubbles. A new one to watch for is the Charles de Fère Brut Merite Mousseux Premium. This light, dry, mouthfilling French sparkling blends This traditional method blancs de noir blends merlot, grenache, pinot noir and gamay before resting twelve months on the lees. Pour liberally, especially at this price.
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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