20 under $20 for August 2016
Monthly picks from our Quebec Critic Team
Ah yes, the end of the month, and alas, the end of August. Feeling down because summer is closing out? Or thrilled that the kids are going back to school? Well, our four critics have each chosen their favourite five under $20 wines they have recently tasted for you to either drown your sorrows or celebrate, whichever the case. No cash? Still thirsty? No problem! Here’s the August version of the 20 under $20.
It was a fabulous summer weather wise, so let’s be thankful for that. We still have a few weeks left though, and with a long weekend ahead, time to close it out in style. If you are going to laze about on a hot afternoon and need something easy and light to drink, then I have two suggestions.
From Quebec’s fantastic cider house, Pierre et Terre, try their Sparkling Cider which is flavoured with cranberries. I was skeptical at first, but this is quite dry, abounds with fruit and has such finessed bubbles. A real treat. If bubbles aren’t your thing, few wines are as easy to pack back as a quality Mosel riesling. The 2014 Selbach Oster will do the trick and at a great price as well.
If the afternoon festivities are building up to a BBQ, then I have you covered. If going the direction of red meat and/or BBQ sauces, then Luis-Felipe Edwards 2014 Shiraz – which is actually more syrah than shiraz in style – will do the job admirably for under $15. If you are going seafood or fish, try Francois Chartier’s 2014 Le Blanc. Rich without getting heavy, it had me thinking scallops.
And as there are lots of local field grown tomatoes available these days, I am always on the look out for a good red for tomato sauce. So go to the source and try Umani Ronchi 2014 Medoro. A bright, humble sangiovese from the Marches region, it has both the fruit and acidity one needs to pair with tomatoes.
September and Autumn are around the corner, so what? Things could be worse. What makes this much easier to swallow is that you have, on hand, our list of 20 under $20. Here are my five:
Two whites to start. For a lighter option, the Marques de Caceres 2015 Rueda Verdejo is both fruity and refreshing, easily drunk on its own or as an aperitif. On the richer side and with more power, while staying aromatic and twitchy, try the very good Cave de Roquebrun 2015 Les Fiefs d’Aupenac Saint Chinian.
Turning to red, is a superb little table wine from the Languedoc. While on the lighter side the Jean-Noël Bousquet 2015 La Garnotte Corbières still shows good power and concentration. With a touch more torque, which is surprising considering the vintage, the Chartier 2012 Fronsac made me want to give our Francois a big hug. This is very good Bordeaux at a great price.
Finally, turning the page forward to coincide with our end of summer and September, try this Quebec cider – Bulles d’Automne de Lavoie. Very fresh, sweet but not excessively so, with lots of apple and a touch of volatility. Reminds me of the sparkling wines of Asti, with more body. It’s a great value as well.
Rosé season isn’t over. In fact, it should be a year-round part of any wine list, just like white wines. But for you seasonal drinkers, before the summer heat completely dissipates, get the Buti Nages on the program for your patio dinners. This organic Costières-de-Nîmes is generous and ripe – but also dry. Think of it for mealtime, more so than an aperitif.
If you can have rosé in winter, then why not drink Bordeaux in the summer? You certainly can do that without any hesitation when you get a fresh, supple wine like the 2012 Château Camarsac. Easy-drinking, and pleasantly simple.
Portugal has wines for all seasons, and at great prices. It’s not just simple and fruity-sweet like many entry-level wines. At under 15$, I liked the Adega De Pegoes, a round, tropical-fruited, charming white. I also liked for you red wine drinkers the latest vintage of the well-known Duque de Viseu (2014).
I’m always happy to recommend a Québec wine, and the 2015 Cuvée William from the Domaine de la Rivière du Chêne, one of the more established producers, is worth checking out. Simple, fresh and friendly.
Are Sicilian wines too hot for a hot summer? Not at all. Even if this beautiful southern island has the reputation of producing massive, oaky wines made with nero d’avola, it is equally a source for excellent red and whites whose character is more appropriately described as light and fresh.
Particularly tasty and lively this vintage, the Donnafugata 2014 Sedara is pure thirst quenching goodness. You feel as though you are biting into fresh fruit, and simply want more and more.
In a similar vein, but even more affordable, the Planeta La Segreta 2014 Rosso is twitchy, full of ripe fruit flavours, but without a hint of heaviness.
And even less expensive, the Firriato 2014 Nari is never sweet, but always has an allure. Deliciously fruity, and at under $15, how can you pass this up?
If you like your reds with a bit more torque, Morgante’s 2013 Nero d’Avola will please all of you who love a wine with a certain brawn. It’s not the most finessed, but a perfect match for grilled sausages on the BBQ.
And to finish up, an excellent white that is very typical of the Mediterranean, Planeta La Segreta 2015 Bianco. Once again, its blend of grecanico, chardonnay, fiano and viognier is a winner and one that has attracted many faithful drinkers over the years. At this price, nothing more to say than bravo!
The complete list: 20 under $20
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