20 Under $20 in BC : October 2016
Send Your Taste Buds Travelling
I think our WineAlign West team has permanent wanderlust. True, we could probably pool our travel miles for platinum plus status, but even when we’re content at home, we are tasting wines from every reach of the globe. From our BC neighbourhood to Australia, Germany, France, Argentina, Italy, South Africa, and Spain, we’ve found twenty wines under $20 to send your taste buds travelling this autumn.
You can find complete critic reviews and scores by clicking on any of the highlighted wine names or bottle images below
An eclectic mix of wines make my list this month and most just under the $20 mark – a seemingly popular price point after the standard BC tax whack. The weather has cooled down considerably and the richer foods dotting fall menus have us looking for a bit more structure and warmth in our wines.
Malbec is a perfect autumn wine and the organic Jean Bousquet Malbec 2013, with its cherry jam, poultry spice and earthy, licorice undertones will complement any chicken dinner.
Riesling remains ever versatile and is fit for every season. The North Okanagan is riesling country, and the Arrowleaf Riesling Ritchie Vineyard 2015 is a regional ambassador offering a juicy, floral white you can serve with or without food.
If the new German style is more to your liking, look to the Karp-Schrieber My Karp Riesling 2014. The Karp family has been making wine in the Mosel since 1664 but this is a window into the modern Germany, where there is just enough sugar to balance the intense acidity and freshness of the wine.
Much younger is the viognier program at Yalumba although they now count many years of research and releases. Winemaker Heather Fraser has turned out another delicious Yalumba Y Series Viognier 2015, making the best of the largest plantings of viognier vineyards in the world. Rich and fresh, it’s capable of matching a wide variety of Asian-inspired dishes.
October is cabernet time, and I like what I see in the Santa Carolina Cabernet Sauvignon Reserva de Familia 2013. Maipo-based, it’s dense but the tannins are sweet and round. Drinkable now, at least with a steak, but should easily hold for 5-7 years. Worth the extra couple of bucks.
Back to the old world and an old name: Paul Jaboulet Aîné Côtes du Rhône Parallèle 45 2014. The wine takes its name from the 45th north parallel that runs through the village of Pont de l’Isère about two kilometres from the cellars of Maison Paul Jaboulet Aîné. The blend is 60/40 grenache/syrah, and the result is a fresh, aromatic, savoury red made for fall fare.
Finally, a wine that really impressed me this month is the Hardys Nottage Hill Chardonnay 2015. At $11.50 a bottle you simply don’t get more chardonnay than that for the money.
Rhys Pender MW
I have a real mixed bag of value wines this month touching many corners of the wine world. Bubbly is always a good place to start and one of my current favourites is the Medici Ermete 2015 Concerto Reggiano Lambrusco. Lambrusco has a bit of a bad rep, but get over it, buy this for $20 and you won’t be disappointed, especially when you bust out some good charcuterie with it.
Staying in Italy, it is nice to see a decent quality and well-priced Soave in the market. We don’t see a lot of good Soave in BC, but the Montresor 2015 Soave Classico is a pretty good example of the region, especially for well under $20. Nice crisp, fresh and slightly peppery.
There seems to be so much good Provencal rosé in BC these days! Another classic is the Famille Sumeire 2015 Cabaret Rosé, Côtes de Provence. Crisp, fresh, goes with everything, and it is incredibly easy to drink lots of it!
A well priced red from the Rhône is the Ogier 2014 Héritages Côtes du Rhône. There is nice richness and softness here, with some interesting meaty notes making a well-priced red for hearty stew by the fire.
Zipping over to Spain, there is a quality little Albariño in the market. Crisp, zippy and zesty, the Luzada 2014 Albariño – Val do Salnés from Rías Baixas in Spain is a pretty tasty match with most seafood dishes.
And one top quality and well-priced pick from home is the Wild Goose 2015 Stoney Slope Riesling from the Okanagan Valley. This citrus and mineral driven wine is delicious now but will cellar well if you stick some away for a few years.
If you haven’t tried BC wine in a while because you think same-old, same-old, pick up a bottle of the natural Laughing Stock Vineyards 2015 Amphora VR +22/09. This small cap release saw viognier and roussanne whole cluster pressed and wild fermented in two 500L terracotta clay amphorae where it spent five and a half months before bottling. Daring, adventurous, positive.
Okanagan Crush Pad’s Narrative line of wines are meant to be a clean, pure look at the Okanagan, at an affordable price. The 2015 Narrative Red is a soft and friendly blend of gamay, cabernet franc and syrah from their Oliver and Summerland vineyards. Black cherry, raspberry and cured sweet salami are carried along a fresh and juicy palate.
Though decent South African wine has long been lacking in our BC market, a recent flush of interesting wines from RSA have started to revitalize the category. Painted Wolf 2015 Chenin Blanc is one such gem, harvested from blocks throughout Swartland and from vines of 20 to 40 years old. Partial wild ferment, this is a juicy and fresh wine, lightly herbal, lees-laden and creamy throughout. Amazing value for youthful, quality chenin.
Bonarda Dell’Oltrepò Pavese is a relatively new DOC, approved since 2010 to recognize single-varietal bottling in northern Italy’s Oltrepò Pavese. Here, the local name for bonarda is coatina, and in Calatroni 2012 Bonarda Dell’Oltrepò Pavese it is expressed through a rustic, earnest lens, perfect for roasted fall squash.
When you think of the amazing historic tradition and legacy that goes into each solera Sherry, the value is astounding. Lustau Puerto Fino is muy seco (very dry), with potent brininess streaking across a rounder palate, bolstered with roasted salted almonds and dried straw before a clean and tangy finish. Apero hour suits ideally.
Lustau Sherry Solera Reserva Deluxe Cream Capataz Andres is a dolce drop, with caramelized brown sugar, crème brûlée and dried fig all soft, warming and hugging on the palate. Beauty with nut tarts or pumpkin pie.
Please allow me to WOW you with a wee more than $20 for my final pick. Jean-Paul Brun 2015 Le Ronsay is an interesting and authentic young vine Beaujolais from legendary J-P Brun. This is a delight to drink, with light, membrane-fine tannins holding in the delicate subtle raspberry, cherry, florals and fine white pepper notes. The moreish finish encourages another glass, and another, and another, especially with fire-grilled pizza. #GoGamayGo.
WineAlign in BC
In addition to our popular 20 Under $20 shopping guide, we publish the monthly Critics’ Picks report which highlights a dozen of our favourites from the last month (at any price point), as well as Rhys Pender’s BC Wine Report, a look at all things in the BC Wine Industry. Treve Ring pens a wandering wine column in Treve’s Travels, capturing her thoughts and tastes from the road. Lastly, Anthony Gismondi closes out the month with his Final Blend column – an expert insight into wine culture and trends, honed by more than 25 years experience as an influential critic.
Editors Note: You can find complete critic reviews by clicking on any of the highlighted wine names, bottle images or links. Paid subscribers to WineAlign see all critics reviews immediately. Non-paid members wait 60 days to see new reviews. Premium membership has its privileges; like first access to great wines!