20 under $20 for June 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 “long week-end” version of the 20 under $20.
Nadia Fournier’s selections
If you fear residual sugar in german rieslings, then you’ll want to try the Eins Zwei Dry 2014, made by Johannes Leitz, an important actor in the Reinghau region. Perky and with low alcohol, it’s the ideal wine to accompany a salad while eating outside on a terrace. Would you rather a rosé? The Côtes de Provence from Domaine Jacourette Sainte-Victoire 2015 is ripe and full of sunshine while staying dry, mineral and thirst-quenching.
For the barbecue, remember this wine: Corbières 2013 Carte Blanche. With grapes grown near Narbonne by Marie-Hélène Bacave of Domaine St-Jean de la Gineste. This is a great little red with character, and just enough power and spice.
More than just being highly drinkable and supple, the cuvee Pour ma Gueule 2014 from Clos des Fous is also about character and drive. Even though it represents just 20% of the blend, the indigenous pais grape shows its powerful and unique aromatic character with its animal and smokey notes. Serve this cool, around 15C.
To finish up, I’m taking a little risk here but asking you all to rediscover, or just try for the first time, the wines from Jerez and particularly Manzanilla. This is the definition of dry and is produced in the region of Sanlucar de Barrameda, bordering the Atlantic Ocean. The Papirusa de Lustau is a great example of this style which is more than just a simple aperitif. Keep it fresh and snack on some green olives and almonds. It is a summer treat!
Rémy Charest’s choices
Québec’s first summer holiday is tomorrow, so I’m starting my suggestions with a nice local bottle from Coteau Rougemont, where the Robert family is sparing no effort or expense to offer quality wines. Named Rose Framboise, this flavoured cider is – unsurprisingly – bursting with raspberry flavors, and shows a fairly fresh if slightly sweet profile. Under a hot summer sun, why not make a spritzer out of it, with sparkling water and a slice of lemon?
My second Québec recommendation for the month is the Domaine de Lavoie Rouge 2015, with its very pleasant, well-integrated fruity-oaky profile. Yet another sign of progress in local winemaking.
On the white side, Greek Assyrtiko is one of my favorite grapes: I have yet to meet one I don’t like. The 2015 vintage from Lyrarakis, in Crete, offers an excellent quality-price ratio. It’s plenty refreshing, and suitably round and supple.
Sangiovese is another one of my go-to grapes, and the 2013 Chianti Classico from well-known producer San Felice is a good example, with a traditional frame built on indigenous Tuscan grapes. A fresh summer red from a cooler vintage.
Finally, I said it before but it bears repeating: La Montagnette, especially in the remarkably delicious 2015 vintage, is a remarkable coop wine and one of the best reds available under $20 year after year. So go for it, and keep a few bottles on hand, you won’t regret it.
Marc Chapleau’s Selections
To start, a white that I have recommended previously but it’s worth repeating. At just over $16, with its classic fruity and fresh character, the Muscadet La Sablette 2015 is the ideal wine for an aperitif or to accompany most seafood.
For the reds, this month I am bringing you a few “bigger” wines.
From Spain, the Borsao Berola 2012 at just under $20 is powerful, bursting with ripe fruit and nicely structured. The Domaine Pesquié Côtes-du-Ventoux 2014 from France and more precisely the Rhône Valley, is well, perhaps not as massive as the Berola, but also shows great fruit and spice. From Australia, the The Lucky Country Shiraz 2014 is all about gourmandise. Robust fruit and a welcome saline point on the finish.
Finally, from South Africa, the Anwilka Petit Frère 2013 is a right on the limits of what I am allowed to recommend in this newsletter as it is $20 even. But whatever, its a great wine, solid, a blend of syrah and cabernet sauvignon that shows great fruit alongside oak driven notes. It’s well balanced and a great match for any grilled meat. Get that barbecue started up!
Bill Zacharkiw’s picks
For this month, I am going classic – wines from well known regions, with well-known grapes and made in a traditional manner. These are the archetypes and as you will see, they need not be expensive.
To get things rolling with the whites, how about an Entre-deux-Mers? A classic blend of sauvignon blanc, semillon and muscadelle, totally dry and with a mineral finish, the 2015 Chateau Sainte-Marie is one of my favourite under $18 whites at the SAQ.
If you want a bigger styled white, with texture and complexity, then the 2014 Pinot Gris from Pierre Sparr is a just off-dry gris that shows great complexity for a small price. Great to accompany spicy seafood.
Classic rosé? Well that’s Provence. The Domaine Houchart Rosé 2015 hits all the marks from its delicate fruit and colour, yet still being structured and serious.
Red lovers can get traditional on the cheap quite easily. If you are fans of sangiovese, the Chianti Colli Fiorentini 2013, La Casa di Dante Alighieri from Azienda Uggiano is one of my personal favourites at this price level. A throwback wine to the easy drinking Chianti style that shows nuanced fruit, acidity and good tannin.
And finally, if you need some more fruit then try the 2014 Cancelli from Coltibuono. While it ventures out of the norm with syrah blended with the sangiovese, it drinks so classically Tuscan. Will pair with any meat off the grill.
The complete list: 20 under $20
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