20 under $20 for April 2017

Monthly picks from our Quebec Critic Team

It is our most read email. It is a list. But it’s a list where your four Chacun son Vin critics each look for the best value wines that they have tasted over the last month. So if you are lacking a little cash and still thirsty? No problem! Here’s our April 20 under $20.

Chacun son Vin Critic Team : Bill, Marc, Nadia & Remy

Bill’s selections

Sure, it wasn’t the greatest April of all-time but Spring brings with it hope, so here’s to hoping for an exceptional May. In that vein, I will go pure Spring optimist with my selections, starting with a rosé. If you are sitting around on a terrasse in the sun, nothing beats a glass of pink. And if I want an aperitif, one of my favourites is the Pive Gris. Vintage after vintage, this rewards with freshness, nuanced fruit, and a thirst inducing mineral element.

Another great aperitif option is bubbles. Bubbles in the sun? Sign me up. One of the best values under $20 has to be the Cava, Brut from Pares Balta. With recent SAQ price cuts, this is now under $17. Tasty and an incredible value.

Le Pive Gris Vin Rosé 2015Parés Baltà Cava BrutChâteau Rouquette Sur Mer Cuvée Arpège 2015Beronia Tempranillo 2014Domaine Borie De Maurel Minervois Esprit D'automne 2015

Lobster season is coming up and you need a rich white with some minerality for a proper pairing. While this wine comes in at $20.25, pay the extra quarter and try the 2015 Cuvee Arpege from Chateau Roquette Sur Mer. This Languedoc wine shows great complexity along with a beautifully dense mouthfeel. Seductive as all hell.

Need some reds? If you have brought that BBQ out of its winter hiberation, the 2014 tempranillo from Beronia has a touch of smoke alongside some bright fruit. Perfect for a BBQ chicken and served at 16C. If you want a wine for a steak, and need a little more tannin, then the 2015 Minervois, Esprit d’Automne from Borie de Maurel will do the trick. Classic Minervois syrah based blend that shows sun-drenched fruit alongside some gritty tannin.

Marc’s mix

Yali Sauvignon Blanc – At under $10, a Chilean sauvignon blanc that is built around acidity and freshness, with just a touch of residual sugar which doesn’t add any serious weight to the wine.

Tommasi Pinot Grigio Le Rosse 2016 – While there is 8 grams of residual sugar here in this classic Italian white wine style, that does nothing to inhibit the “nervosity” in this wine. Lots of well-defined fruit, a touch of CO2, which adds extra freshness and pumps up the fruitiness even more. 

Château de Lancyre Rosé 2016 – A quality rosé from Languedoc which shows more pure torque than you might expect from this style of wine. Sure, there is the expected acidity and freshness but with a body and spice on the finish.

Ventisquero Yali Wild Swan Sauvignon Blanc 2016Tommasi Le Rosse Pinot Grigio 2016Château De Lancyre Rosé 2016Antonin Rodet Coteaux Bourguignons Gamay Noir 2015L.A. Cetto Petite Sirah 2014

Antonin Rodet Gamay 2015 – A very good gamay, light and fruity as one would be expect, but with touch more body that makes it perfect at the table for lighter fare, though remains a consummate aperitif in red.

L.A. Cetto Petite Sirah 2014 – A good red from Mexico, powerful and full of fruit with a slight saline note on the finish. The ensemble remains simple and straightforward, but at this price, that’s to be expected and what you get in terms of excellent value more than compensates.

Rémy’s choices

My monthly contribution to this column is coming to you live from the Languedoc where I’m discovering the local appellations and recent vintages, alongside Chacun son Vin’s own Marc Chapleau and dozens of other journalists from Québec, the United States, all over Europe and as far as China and Japan. The event bringing us together, Millésimes et Terroirs, is a great opportunity to learn more about the great diversity and energy of this vast region.

Starting with a couple of recommendations of a few well-priced Languedoc wines – which are readily available on SAQ shelves. The white wines have become more and more interesting over the last few years, some structured and generous while others showing remarkable freshness. The Fiefs d’Aupenac 2015, from Saint-Chinian, plays a bit on both fronts, with the generosity of the roussanne grape coming out on top. Heading to the relatively cool appellation of Pic Saint-Loup, freshness is present as well in the Château de Lancyre Vieilles Vignes 2015, with red fruit notes and tannins that are begging for a hearty, flavorful meal.

Cave De Roquebrun Les Fiefs D'aupenac 2013Château De Lancyre Vieilles Vignes 2015Pureté De Silex Crémant De LoireQuinta De Gomariz Loureiro 2015Le Rosé Gabrielle Vignoble Rivière Du Chêne Vin Rosé 2016

Before the Languedoc, my trip started with many more tastings in the Loire (hip hip, chenin!), so why not recommend a nice little bubbly from the region, Pureté de Silex, an unusual blend of whites and red grapes.

I’ll be happy to return to Portugal later this year, and that might have influenced just how much I liked the 2015 Loureiro from Quinta de Gomariz, a super fresh and tasty white made from a native Portuguese variety. Keep some on hand in the fridge : hot and sunny days are bound to return.

Speaking of sunny summer days, Québec has good stuff to offer in terms of refreshing drinks, especially the more and more satisfying rosés. The 2016 Rosé Gabrielle, from Vignoble de la Rivière du Chêne, is particularly successful on that front, with generous berry fruit on the nose and great freshness on the palate.

Nadia selections

While many of you are waiting for Spring to arrive, Bill and I are travelling through South Africa where the 2017 harvest is already finished and the leaves are changing colour. To be honest, it’s absolutely beautiful. I am tasting and taking lots of picture, so in honour of this fabulous country that is continually re-inventing itself, here are some exceptional value wines that I have tasted.

Planted at the end of the 1600’s by the Huguenots who seeking refuge in South Africa, chenin blanc – which was mostly used until very recently for distillation- represented 32% of all vines in the  country until 1990. But today, due to people planting more red varieties, chenin blanc is now only 18%. Luckily, a few winemakers have stayed attached to this exceptional heritage. Adi Badenhorst’s Sécateur Chenin blanc 2016 is always impeccable; deftly walking the line between texture and acidity At just over $17, you could buy this with your eyes closed.

Badenhorst Secateurs Chenin Blanc 2016Robertson Winery Chenin Blanc 2015De Morgenzon Dmz Chenin Blanc 2016Porcupine Ridge Syrah 2016Adi Badenhorst Secateurs Red 2014

But even when the vines yield more, chenin blanc can produce very satisfying wines. Albeit a touch more simple and less textured, the chenin from Robertson Winery is a perfect example of a simple, but very satisfying table wine – and for under $10. The chenin DMZ from De Morgenzon offers up a similar thirst quenching wine, but with touch more complexity and depth.
And because South Africa is more than just white wine, here are two reds to accompany your first barbecues of the season, from the sun-drenched fruit grown in the western Cape region of Swartland.  Mark Kent’s Porcupine Ridge, Syrah 2016 are made from grapes grown in two vineyards near Malmesbury and Porcelain Mountain. Expect aromas of violets and pepper, and a tender and rich mouthfeel. And a touch more retrained, the Secateurs Red blend 2014 from Adi Badenhorst is everything you want for a classic table wine. Inviting, a touch austere, the 2014 shows notes of fynbos, the local garrigue that approaches thym. At under $20, it’s a wine that will often grace your table.

Cheers !

The complete list: 20 under $20

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Matua Pinot Gris 2015