20 under $20 for November 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 first winter version of the 20 under $20. Next month, we will raise the price bar a touch to bring you some great gift ideas.
Bill Zacharkiw’s picks
The first snow is on the ground and the snow tires have been put on my car. I’m ready. But while December’s cold is around the corner, it’s also the beginning of the festive season, a time to get together with family and friends. It’s party time and we need party wines!
What’s a party wine? These are wines that drink well on their own or with snacks. Be it bubbles, reds or whites, Bill’s party wines are about drinkability. So here are five affordable and fun wines that will do the trick.
With respect to bubbles, I want a wine that isn’t overly dry, is aromatic and has a certain texture. The Antech 2013 Cremant de Limoux will do just that with brio.
For my whites, I want something fresh and fun to drink. The 2014 Jardins de Meyrac is a blend of chardonnay and sauvignon blanc which is both aromatic and fresh, without resorting to sugar to give it volume. If you want a wine that is even more dynamic in terms of aromas, the 2014 Touraine from Château de Pocé is an excellent sauvignon blanc that is as much fun to smell as it is to drink.
While many people love full-bodied red wines, they do not generally make for great aperitif wines. I look for fruit, freshness and a wine that is best served around 15C. The 2013 Cipressi Barbera d’Asti Superiore from Michele Chiarlo is just that wine. And if you want a true bargain, in a similar style, try the 2014 Vila Regia. This is a “basic” Douro with this vintage striking me as being even better than the last. It’s hard to find a better wine under $11 at the SAQ.
Nadia Fournier’s selections
Naudin-Ferrand 2014 Bourgogne Aligoté: Halfway between Beaune and Nuits-Saint-Georges, vigneronne Claire Naudin is the woman behind this excellent white wine made with the aligoté grape. Very dry, light in alcohol and with a bright acidity, this is the ideal match for oysters.
Campagnola 2014 Chardonnay Veneto: Difficult to find a better value white than this chardonnay from Campagnola. Richly textured, with notes of pear and an underlying freshness. At under $15, stock up for the festive season.
Pittnauer 2013 Pitti: A delicious wine with explosive fruit held together by a delicate thread of ripe tannin. A blend of indigenous Austrian grapes: blaufränkisch, zweigelt and saint-laurent. Biodynamically grown, this wine is just so lively. And for its under $19 price tag, it’s a wine that can be drunk with abandon.
San Valentino 2013 Scabi Sangiovese Superiore: On the Adriatic coast in the region of Émilie-Romagne, Roberto Mascarin produced an excellent sangiovese in 2013. So attractive with its nose of wild fruit, with just enough texture and underlying acidity. Serve this around 16°C and drink it in its youth to benefit from its gorgeous fruit.
Paolo Scavino2014 Vino Rosso: An excellent ‘thirst-quencher’ Piedmont-style. Still so fresh and youthful, this table wine is made with young vines of barbera, dolcetto, nebbiolo and merlot. Nothing overly complex, but so refreshing and with all the fruit you could want. In its category, a four star rating is well deserved.
Marc Chapleau’s picks
It is starting to get seriously cold, so we collectively shift the balance towards red wines. But seeing as I am not averse to being slightly contrarian, here are three whites. (It should be noted that while writing this, they are calling for even more unseasonably warm weather, so these whites are rather timely).
A classic from Alsace, the Hugel 2013 Riesling, while perhaps being a touch less cutting than I am accustomed to, is still as satisfying as ever. My second choice hails from France as well, but from the Loire Valley. The Château de la Forchetière 2014 Muscadet, at $16.60, is dry and refreshing, with delicious notes of citrus. Finally, from Spain, the 2014 Telmo Rodriguez Basa Blanco Rueda will make you think sauvignon blanc even though its base is verdejo. It shows a certain punch despite its relatively rich texture.
For my reds, two great value wines: The Cusumano Syrah 2014, from Sicily, speaks to a more modern style with its ripe fruit and rich texture with just enough acidity to keep the wine fresh. From Portugal, the 2013 Animus Douro, shows less power than the Cusumano, but has a great suppleness with oak driven flavours that dominate just a touch. At under $14, a very honest wine for the price.
Remy Charest’s Holiday Selections
To give your holiday parties some extra pizzaz, the Chacun son Vin team is preparing a “deluxe” edition of this monthly feature for December. In the meantime, here is a selection of bottles for every occasion.
One of my favorite wines of the month, for under or over 20$ a month, has been the Mompertone 2012 from the Piemontese winery, Prunotto. A really successful and inspiring blend of barbera and syrah, bringing together the lively red fruit and spice of both varieties. A lovely bottle, which scored very nicely at the World Wine Awards of Canada earlier this year.
For my two other reds, I hope you’ll allow me to go just over the 20$ barrier to offer a delicious Languedoc wine that’s full of character and nice garrigue notes, Les Sorcières from Domaine du Clos des Fées. If that makes a hole in your budget, you can compensate with the 2014 Citra, a Montepulciano that does quite well for 10$… a litre!
On the white side of things, Donnafugata’s 2014 Anthilia Blanco shows you can get wines that are both aromatic and fresh, and expressive, but without being sweet. Very pleasant and easy going, just like the very classic 2013 Sonoma Coast Chardonnay from Rodney Strong, a ripe and satisfying California white that can be a great match for Thanksgiving turkey, if you’re celebrating with American friends.
The complete list: 20 under $20
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