20 under $20 for April 2016
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’s the “It’s Finally Spring” version of the 20 under $20.
Bill Zacharkiw’s picks
In the spirit of the varying temperatures that we experience in early spring, my five wine choices are paired with weather. So no matter what comes our way, there’s wine for the occasion. And by the way, if you don’t believe that weather affects your drinking, you are lucky – it absolutely does with what I decide to drink.
To combat the evening chill, a big brawny red from the Roussillon? The 2014 Maury sec, Castell d’Agly from Domaine Cazes is suave, meaty and very complex. And organic to boot! How about for sweater weather, and eating outside, even if it is just to make the point that you will not be held hostage inside anymore! I was shocked by the 2014 Innovacion from Argentina’s Zuccardi. A blend of tempranillo and malbec that is medium bodied, dry, interesting – and under $10.
For those first war, evenings, and while snowcrab is still around, a nuanced and delicate white is in order. While its rare to find any white drinkable under $15, how about the Primelli Soave for under $11. Dry, delicate, textured and with a subtle mineral note. If you want to eat fish or seafood and require a richer dish, the Turkish, yes I said Turkish, grown 2014 Isabey Sauvignon Blanc is a nod to the Zealand style, but works it beautifully.
And finally, for that next hot day, when you just want to crack a rose, the gently fizzy Casal Garcia from Avelehda is a great pink riff on Vinho Verde. Tastes like a strawberry flavoured gin and tonic in many ways, and at just over $11, a fun ‘lil pink to crank back cold in the sun.
Marc Chapleau’s picks
While I normally try for a little more balance in my suggestions, this month there is but one white: The 2015 Viogner from Uraguay’s Don Pascual. It’s well-made, aromatic and dry. At just over $15, a great value.
My first red is the always great valued Carmenere from Chile’s Casa Silva. It’s fresh, with solid fruit, no excess in alcohol and tastes dry. At $15, a great deal.
From the Roussillon, Domaine Cazes’ 2014 Cap au Sud is both richly textured and spicy, powerful while not overly tannic. Another excellent value.
Moving to the Veneto, the 2012 Allegrini Belpaso is what you would expect from the region – lots of fruit with lots of freshness. It’s a versatile wine and can pair with spaghetti, pizza or even grilled chicken.
Finally, the 2015 Cotes du Rhone Village, Sinargues from Domaine de la Montagnette. A red which shows a great purity of fruit, whose acidity and slight note of CO2 combine to bring an exceptional brightness to the wine. The BBQ wine of the summer? It just might be.
Rémy Charest’s choices
In the world of under-15$ wine, is fruit, fruit and fruit pretty much all you can get? Nope. Hecula, a generous monastrell (mourvèdre) from solid producer Bodegas Castaño, sure shows a lot of ripe fruit on the nose, but on the heartwarming palate, you’ll find enticing notes of spice, cedar and more. Madcap South African producer Adi Badenhorst also throws a lot at you with his Curator, a Rhône blend showing smoke and fresh herbs, among other things. A fair bit of smoke, in fact – something that dissipates quickly when you aerate the wine, so you can fully enjoy it.
Getting closer to the 20$ mark, you can get a lot of style and finesse, even in the more in-your-face reaches of the new world. Take the Tintonegro Limestone Block Malbec, for instance, produced by two smart guys in the higher reaches of Mendoza, Argentina. There’s terroir, here, not just ripeness and oak : you get the generous malbec fruit, but with lovely freshness and a backbone of graphite. Take note : malbec on limestone is a really awesome match.
As we’re nearing May – and hopefully, rising temperatures – let’s take a look at what rosés have to offer, too. My two picks of the month show that not all rosés are made equal – or limited to poolside quaffing. The very popular Le Pive shines particularly brightly in the 2015 vintage, with a crisp and bright personality. François Chartier’s 2015 Rosé has a fair bit of freshness, too, but it has an extra layer of generous fruit and floral aromas and, especially, a beautiful, enticing texture that keeps going, and going…. Two distinct wines with different occasions in mind.
Nadia Fournier’s selections
Let’s start with the 2013 Cheverney from Domaine Sauger. It’s nothing overly complex but is a great example of the potential of this lesser known appellation of the Touraine. A wonderfully pure and refreshing blend of pinot noir (70%), gamay and malbec. At under $17, you would be crazy not to give it a try.
A touch more generous and sun-laden, the 2014 Terres de Mediterrane from Dupere-Barrera is once again at the top of its category. Loaded with fruit and no lack of body, vigorous and so drinkable.
Finally, for an aperitif or to accompany some crab without breaking the bank, you’ll love the character the Savatiano 2015 Papagiannakos. Moderately fragrant and vibrant, but still light and lively.
Want a little more richness? Chateau des Charmes 2013 Chardonnay and Babich 2015 Chardonnay are good options. Both have the qualities of good unoaked chardonnay – bold, with pure flavours of white fruit and refreshing character. Two very good values for the money .
The complete list: 20 under $20
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