20 Under $20 in BC : January 2016
Resolve to Drink Better
We all know them – maybe we’ve even been one ourselves. The person who swears off alcohol in a New Year, new start, liver cleansing, clean living kick. Yes, post-holiday restraint and moderation is a smart and healthy move. But, no wine? The thought to me always sounded a bit too unmoderate. Wine, in many cultures, is a part of daily life. Grapes are key members of the fruit group, yeah? Numerous studies have shown that wine, in moderation, leads to a healthy, lengthy, and much more fun life. Pay attention you January resolutioners – it doesn’t get better than this!
However, what many do need to cut back on after a holiday season of excess is expenses. Here are our January 20 Under $20 to boost your health and your bank account.
It’s a new year but I’m loathe to change my philosophy of trying to always drink wine that matters no matter what the situation, or the price. Of course under $20 is a challenge in BC. Don’t be suckered in by the new tax-out pricing. Make sure you add that 15 percent in your head before you get to the till where some of these prices will quickly make some under $20 wines, well, more than $20. Add to that a brutal Canadian dollar and no respite in local prices and it all points to a column that will continue to be tough to write all year. The good news is we are doing all the work for you.
First up, a dealcoholized wine worth having around the house. Loxton N/V Cabernet Sauvignon is for that guest who would like a glass of wine that looks real yet does not pack that alcoholic punch that comes with regular wine.
Rustic reds are always better in cold weather so look to the mid-weight, easy-sipping Navarro López 2012 Pergolas Old Vines Tempranillo Crianza from Valdepeñas, Spain to help warm up a mid-week stew or a casserole.
If you are up to try something new, sparkling and affordable, from Moldova, check out Cricova Crisecco N/V Sparkling Brut, a medium-weight fruity sparkler you can serve most nights with some pre-dinner taste bites. It is a good value prosecco lookalike, but drier.
I love winemaker Michael Bartier’s style. Try his delicious Bartier Bros. 2014 Gewürztraminer Lone Pine Vineyard from Summerland: an orchard fruit party in a bottle. Where’s the curry chicken?
Finding an inexpensive Oz red that isn’t sweet and sour is no easy task but I like the Heartland Spice Trader 2012 Shiraz Cabernet Sauvignon. There is good balance here, and even better, it is not acidic in the back end. From a superior vintage too.
Finally a simply amazing fortified fruit wine you might enjoy on your ice cream or solo in a glass. Elephant Island Orchard Wines 2014 Fortified Framboise is a treasure trove of intense raspberry/chocolate flavours.
Rhys Pender MW
Ahh, the hangover that is January. Memories of all the great wine, great food and nights of indulgence are etched in that extra belt hole and the hollow bank account. This makes January an important time for finding value wine. With your palates still tuned to the high quality wines you gulped down with abandon over the holidays, the budget bottles of the New Year have a lot to live up to. This makes it tough to find pleasure for under $20. Here are some wines I find that over deliver for their price. I hope you enjoy them.
You cannot easily wean yourself off celebratory bubbly and there is no need to as many of the best value wines on the market are sparkling. You can still get something with a little toasty autolysis and stay well under $20. That is worth celebrating in itself. The Segura Viudas Brut Reserva Cava is consistently one of the best.
We also need something crisp, fresh and white to pair with all those health conscious salads we are now eating as part of the new years resolutions. I was impressed by the new 2014 Quails’ Gate Dry Riesling both in price and quality.
I will admit I’m often not the biggest fan of Fumé Blanc but I was presently surprised and impressed by the 2013 Robert Mondavi Fumé. These guys invented the stuff so I guess they really know what they are doing. This vintage is probably the best I have had and is a lovely balance between racy freshness, a little tropical fruit and just a dusting of vanillin oak. Sear a bit of richer white fish in the pan to serve with your fresh vegetables or greens and with this wine you are set.
You also need some red wines that over deliver with a little complexity at a low price. A regular winner is the Niepoort Diálogo Tinto and the 2013 is a delicious mix of juicy, earthy, savoury and a good whack of fruit and complexity. This can please all comers and is a versatile food wine too with anything from basic pasta with tomato sauce to any grilled meat.
Another consistently good value wine is the Ricossa Barbaresco. The 2011 is lighter and savoury but gives a hint at some of the flavours you will find in the more concentrated Barbaresco and Barolo but at a fraction of the price.
As I mentioned in my intro, wine is a part of daily life in many cultures, including the Trevehouse. I would much rather use up my “resolution budget” to try something new. Why not stretch into a new grape or region this month? It’s an especially apt opportunity when you’re not laying out too much cash as well.
Always fizz. There are many value quality : value fizz to explore this month. If you are adamant that you are cutting down on alcohol, then pick up Fresita, a Chilean fizz infused with organic Patagonian strawberries. Only 8 % alcohol and effortlessly delicious.
The act of drinking fortified wines regularly is new to most folks, so picking up a bottle of Bodegas Hidalgo Manzanilla La Gitana from Jerez’ neighbouring Sanlúcar de Barrameda in Spain is pretty much a must-do. This popular Manzanilla wins with its dry delicacy, sea salt freshness and lingering tanginess. A natural pair for almonds, olives, sardines and cured meats – as well as sushi. Pick up the 375ml to stay under $20.
Search hard for the new Stag’s Hollow 2013 Viognier – Marsanne, a ‘natural’ wine made without added sulfur or yeast, and one that was unfined and unfiltered. One year on the lees in older acacia barrel yields, gentle honeysuckle, heady floral acacia and lime on a very textured palate, where an undercurrent of herbal fennel, apricot, ginger spicing stream in with brisk acidity. A striking adventurous wine for BC.
If you aren’t familiar with the friulano grape, the Friulano Tenuta Di Angoris 2014 Villa Locatelli is a great gateway wine. Fragrant wildflowers, honeysuckle, nectarine and fennel are drawn across the waxy palate, one kept bright and fresh with 12.5% alcohol.
Portugal is a treasure trove of quality wines that hit far above their price – plus are comprised of indigenous grapes that are probably new to you. See Rhys’ Niepoort red pick above as prime proof. The Niepoort Dialogo 2011 Douro Branco is another prime example. This white blend of codega do larinho, rabigato, gouveio, dona branca, viosinho and bical entices and intrigues with its texture, concentration and easy lightness of being.
Another entirely overlooked and completely underrepresented category in BC is South Africa. There are some real wines / real values to be found, like the Spier 2013 Chenin Blanc, a steal at $14. Meadow, white grapefruit, perfumed gooseberry and ripe pear weightiness, without any oak influence which allows the fruit to shine.
Maybe Austria is a region you haven’t explored much of? Right that, right now, with Laurenz Und Sophie Singing Grüner Veltliner 2013 from Niederösterreich, a stony, herb-basted GV with crisp orchard fruit and green fig carried on a dry, oily, medium bodied palate, and an ideal pour against your pissaldiere.
Winter warmer needed? Are you familiar with Chile’s Leyda Valley? The Leyda Reserva Syrah 2012 was a gold value winner at the 2015 World Wine Awards, gold lit for its ripe, spicy and floral notes, grilled meatiness and smoothed tannins. Compact and tidy.
I think you’ll spare me the extra $0.49 to recommend the newest vintage of Regis Boucabeille Les Terrasses 2014, Cotes Du Roussillon Villages. Having southern France red blends like this remind me how much I adore southern France red blends. This organic grenache/syrah/carignan blend is planted on shale slopes that were abandoned in the 20th century because it was too hard to farm, but now is made into a seriously quaffable fresh, juicy red with ripe plums, smoked stone and garrigue riding a plump, sun-ripened cushion, one supported and defined by slightly gritty tannins. Stock up.
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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