20 under $30 for December 2015 – A special holiday edition
Monthly picks from our Quebec Critic Team
The Chacun Son Vin team has decided to post our monthly “value” wine newsletter a little earlier this month so that you can shop in time for Christmas dinner. As well, seeing as it is a special occasion, we decided that we would raise the bar a touch, and throw in a few over $20 wines into the mix. Happy holidays folks!
Bill Zacharkiw’s picks
At my house, any party must start with a sparkling wine. There is a ton of choice out there, but the one I pick more often than not is Vincent Careme’s Vouvray Brut. Drinks well on its own or with food, interesting, and under $25.
I’ll offer up two white wines which are stylistically very different. If you want a good aperitif, or a wine to accompany seafood and other lighter fare, then try the most recent vintage of Papagiannakos’ Savatiano. Well under the $20 bar, the 2014 is aromatic, refreshing and is a great example of today’s Greek wine industry.
A bit more substantial and a wine which will work with white meats, spicy food and cheese, try the 2013 Pinot Gris from Léon Beyer. Almost dry with excellent fruit and spice on the finish, this wine exemplifies why I love this grape so much.
I’ll take the same tact with my reds. For your aperitif, or if you are eating salmon and want a lighter styled red, then look no further than the 2013 Morgon from Jean-Paul Brun. Great fruit and just enough tannin to stand up to some richer foods.
And finally, if power is what you want, then the 2013 Lirac from Chateau Mont-Redon would be my choice. Grenache with syrah and mourvèdre, silky and structured. Give this an hour or two in a decanter to serve it at its prime, and with a prime, rib that is.
Marc Chapleau’s picks
It’s almost Christmas, but not quite there yet. Oh well, there’s no snow on the ground anyways. What’s important is that we have faith that it will be here soon. So while we wait for our first blanket of snow, drink up!
Barda Pinot Noir 2014 : A very good pinot noir from Argentina’s Patagonia region. A good dose of oak but also with lots of fruit and excellent acidity. At under $30, it rivals pinots from both California and New Zealand.
Le Macchiole Bolgheri 2013 : A very convincing Tuscan red with 50% merlot as its base, with cabernet franc, syrah and sangiovese to complete the blend. Medium bodied with plenty of freshness. Also available in “party format” – magnums!
Léon Beyer Gewurztraminer 2013 : An excellent gewurztraminer from Beyer. Attractive aromatics of wilted rose and pepper. Shows good body with a touch CO2 to add a touch more freshness.
Antonin Rodet Coteaux Bourguignons 2013 : A surprisingly good, for the price, pinot noir that shows a wonderful purity of fruit, just enough body and refreshing acidity.
Kloof Street 2013 Swartland : A very good blend of 85% syrah with carignan. The aromatics open with reductive notes typical of syrah, with morello cherry and lots of spice. In the mouth, it shows good power and enough acidity to keep the wine from getting heavy.
Rémy Charest’s Selections
Holiday celebrations feature a lot of different foods and snacks with a wide range of flavors, so you need a corresponding range of wines to match. So here’s a selection that goes from bubbly to white to red, and even a sherry.
The sparkling that caught my attention this month is from an excellent and well-established Canadian producer, Blue Mountain Vineyards in the Okanagan Valley. Great price for this Gold Label Brut that shows a lot of amplitude and intensity, with brioche and lemon, and fine, elegant bubbles. A wine to surprise and impress your guests.
Bubbles are great with snacks and bites, and so is a great sherry like the La Gitana Manzanilla, which has an incredible freshness to go with the nutty and briny notes that are typical of this style of wine. Great with olives, chips and salty nuts, as well as a whole range of seafood tapas and starters. Give it a shot!
As for whites, I really, really love riesling, thanks to its texture and vivacious character which makes it perfect for the many different dishes on a holiday buffet. Great with turkey, and with pork dishes in particular, especially when the wine has the superb texture and presence of Kerpen’s Wehlener Sonnenuhr Spätlese Trocken. Simply gorgeous.
For reds, you’ll probably want something relatively big, but not overly so, and this is why I like the Château Coupe Roses Les Plots, which is really tasty, open and pleasant, with a good balance between ripeness and freshness, along with some nice floral notes. You should also try their excellent white cuvée. Another option would be a classic Chianti Classico like San Felice’s Il Grigio Riserva, which will pair well with the bigger dishes. You will be singing hallelujahs all the way to Midnight mass – or anywhere you’ll go celebrating afterwards.
Nadia Fournier’s selections
Baud, Brut Sauvage, Crémant du Jura :
From the commune of Le Vernois, the Bauds have been winemakers, from father to son, since before the French Revolution. They make a wide range of table wines as well as an excellent Crémant, made with chardonnay (70 %) and pinot noir. A long bottle aging of 24 months brings extra texture and richness. At under $25, it’s rare to find a sparkling wine that offers so much pleasure.
Clos des Fous, Cauquenina 2012, Maule :
The animal and charcoal aromatics set the tone – you know that you are about to drink a unique wine. Made with old vines of carignan, malbec, syrah, país, cinsault and carmenère, with an average age of 80 years, the Cauquenina has little to do with the typical modern red from Chile. A wine loaded with terroir, drive and balance.
Bonny Doon, A Proper Claret 2013, California :
Fans of Randall Grahm know that he isn’t a huge fan of cabernet and chardonnay. So surprise, surprise that this eccentric makes a Claret, well, in his own way. A unique blend of cabernet, merlot, tannat, syrah and petite sirah, his 2013 tops off at a mere 13.5 % alcohol. A wonderful counter-current to the norm of California reds.
Tetramythos, Roditis 2014, Patras :
On the slopes of Mont Helmos, halfway between Patras and Corinthe, Panayiotis Papagiannopoulos makes an excellent white wine made with 100 % roditis. Organically grown on limestone soils, the 2014 is particularly vibrant and expressive. A true bargain at under $17.
Domaine de Mouscaillo, Limoux 2011 :
South of Carcassonne, the chardonnay grape benefits from the climatic influence of the Pyrénées and the Atlantic Ocean. In these limestone soils of Limoux, one finds a unique expression. Again this vintage, the wine revels in its minerality, dry, fresh and almost salty.
The complete list: 20 under $20
Editors Note: You can find complete critic reviews by clicking on any of the highlighted wine names, bottle images or links. Paid subscribers to Chacun son vin see all critics reviews immediately. Non-paid members wait 60 days to see new reviews. Premium membership has its privileges; like first access to great wines!