20 under $20 for May 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 “bring on the summer” version of the 20 under $20.
Bill Zacharkiw’s picks
The recent 3-day dose of hot and sunny weather meant that that I spent much more time drinking white and rosé than red wines. Let’s start with the whites.
While at under $11 it’s consistently one of the better bargain whites at the SAQ, the most recent vintage of the Robertson Chenin Blanc is indeed very well done. Just “off-dry,” it is full of fruit and makes a great aperitif or accompaniment with spicier meals.
I was also very impressed with the latest vintage of Tselepos’ Moachofilero. The 2015 shows equally rich aromatics and texture while staying dry and refreshing. Bring on the fried calamari! In a similar vein, the 2015 sauvignon blanc from Domaine de Bellevue in the Loire appellation of Touraine shows the ripeness of the vintage. End result is a typical sauvignon blanc with just a touch less acid than you might expect, but it stays very faithful to the grape’s typicity.
For you rosé fans, I really like the 2015 Château de Lancyre. Works well both as an aperitif and at the table if you allow it to warm a touch. Nuance and power, that’s what makes a great rosé and this has both.
And finally, one red to finish. Agiorgitiko is one of Greece’s more interesting grape varieties as it can have both a rich texture and powerful fruit. It can be a touch thick but Gaia has it dialed, so if you want to try something new for under $20, then give it a go.
Marc Chapleau’s Selections
My first recommendation is a rosé that comes in just over 10$, the Santa Rita 120 Cabernet Sauvignon Rosé 2015 : rich and mouthfilling, easy and not-complicated. Following that, a wonderful little white Rioja, the Ijalba Genoli 2015 Viura, with its floral accents as well as a hint of butter and a dry, citrus finish.
If you are looking for a interesting red, look no further than Greece and the Paranga 2013 Kir-Yianni. It shows some power but with a refreshing acidity, notes of leather and just a touch of herbs to add even more complexity. A touch more classic, and at under $14, is a fruity and spicy red from the Languedoc, the Château Cazal-Viel 2014 Saint-Chinian Vieilles Vignes.
And to finish off, my fifth suggestion is a remarkably versatile wine, a sherry, the Lustau Papirusa Manzanilla, which sells for $12.60 the half bottle. It’s a dry fortified wine, very dry in fact, but at the same time shows a superb velvety texture. You can drink this on its own for as an aperitif, with nuts, olive, Serrano ham, or with pretty well anything else you can conjure up.
Rémy Charest’s choices
Isn’t it great to finally have gotten a bit of hot weather? It makes refreshing wines like the 2015 Atlantis even more enjoyable. This assyrtiko-driven blend, with its aromas of fresh peach and sea spray, is one of my perenial favorites under $20 at SAQ.
Here are two more seasonal whites. First, a trebbiano with almond and herbal notes from Masciarelli, a producer better known for their red Montepulcianos. Second, the Douglas Green Chenin Blanc, from South Africa, which delivers a lot, for barely more than 10$ a bottle. I’d already recommended the cabernet sauvignon from Douglas Green a few months back. The country’s wines are selling more and more at the SAQ, thanks to a whole range of wines, from Eben Sadie’s high end cuvées to Adi Badenhorst’s more boisterous wines, as well as entry-level, pleasant wines like these.
On the rosé side of things, I wanted to check what was going on in the under-$10 range. Among the lot, the Los Molinos 2015 Tempranillo Rosé does a rather good job. Simple, rounded out by residual sugar (less so than many other entry-level rosés, mind you), it’s chock full of fresh red berry fruit.
I also really liked the Angel Paulucci Malbec from La Posta. Just a touch less vibrant than the Tintonegro I was praising in last month’s 20 under $20, but fully in that oh-so-pleasant trend towards fresher, less oak-driven Argentinian malbecs. More, please!
Nadia Fournier’s selections
In the Peloponnese, halfway between Patras and Corinthe, Panayiotis Papagiannopoulos produces the Tetramythos 2014 Roditis, a superb white made with 100% roditis, organically grown on limestone soils. On the same peninsula but a touch further to the south, the family run winery Mercouri just celebrated their 150th anniversary in 2014. Domaine Mercouri 2015 Foloi. Made with a blend of roditis and 10% viognier, it’s rich with just enough aromatics to make it even more interesting.
In the same spirit of fresh and light, the Alvaro Castro 2015 Dão Rosé is impeccable! The minerality seems to make you even thirstier, with pure fruit and a wonderful texture that gets a lift from a touch of effervescence.
If you are grilling some chicken the Monasterio de las Viñas 2008 Reserva is but one of the wines made by the Cariñena region’s most important co-operative which has close to 1000 growers and 4000 hectares of vines. Nothing overly complex, but well made and ready to drink with its aromas of mushroom and leather.
To finish, a Fino sherry is always a good thing. One of the region’s biggest players, Gonzalez Byass, produces a huge range of wines, but few are as well-known as the celebrated Tio Pepe. Youthful, fresh and thirst quenching. It’s also available in a half bottle for under $10.
The complete list: 20 under $20
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