20 under $20 for July 2017

Monthly picks from our Quebec Critic Team

Here is the July version of the 20 under $20. As you read this you’ll discover that there are wines for all tastes and situations, but with a single common denominator – great quality and affordability. Cheers !

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

Nadia’s selections

One example: the Montgras De Gras Fumé Blanc 2016. I would never have imagined that I would find a wine at this price that was so full of pleasure and nuance. This is an excellent sauvignon blanc, with aromas as much herbal as tropical. A true bargain.

But there are always the standards. It’s always a pleasure rediscovering the The Y Series Viognier 2016 from the Aussie winery Yalumba. Aromatic without being overly perfumed, straightforward and yes, even elegant. It is consistently one of the better viogniers one can find at this price.

Still available in many SAQ outlets across the province, the J. Bäumer Riesling 2015  offers up notes of honey and sweet apple, beautifully balanced between sugar and acidity, and nicely light on the alcohol at 9.5%. Perfect for an oppressively hot day, if we ever get one.

De Gras Fumé Blanc 2016Yalumba The Y Series Viognier 2016J. Bäumer Riesling 2015Artazuri Garnacha 2015Massaya Le Colombier 2016

For you red wine lovers, the Garnacha 2015 from Artazu is the archetype of grenache as a “vin de soif.” Ample, supple, generous and full of red fruits, flowers and dried herbs. Serve this wine on the cool side, around 15C.

For my final wine, I loved the Mediterranean flavours I find in many Lebanese wines. Among the many I tasted, one standout was the Colombier 2016 from Massaya; a blend of cinsault,  grenache, tempranillo and syrah, grown at an altitude of between 900 and 1200 metres. Juicy and aromatic, this is a racy wine that will please.

Bill’s selections

One of my favourite bargains at the SAQ ? Norton’s 2016 sauvignon blanc. This Argentine sauvignon hits every note that I look for in this grape. Loads of fruit, not too much « green » and a bright but comfortable acidity. How much? Under $11. Enough said.

Need the equivalent in rose ? How about the 2016 Luberon from La Vieille Ferme ? The red and white wine from this Perrin family property are SAQ stalwarts, and the rose is equally an excellent inexpensive offering. It won’t blow your socks off with aromatics, but if you prefer more elegant and nuanced roses, then this will do the trick.

Norton Sauvignon Blanc Porteño 2016La Vieille Ferme Cotes Du Ventoux Rose 2016Éléphant Rose LuberonCabral Reserva Douro 2014Tetramythos Kalavryta 2015

On the subject of Perrin and rose, I recently did a « box » wine tasting and my favourite wine was a 3L box of Elephant rose. I was skeptical as I think most of us are with bag in box wines, but this is actually quite good. Again, it is quite delicate so you have to like the style, but at $45 ($15/L), you are getting more than your money’s worth.

Finally, to finish up with two reds, for you folks who want power for a small price, Cabral’s 2014 Douoro reserva will do the trick. It shows classic dried fruit notes alongside some decent tannins and will work well with any barbecued meat.

On the lighter side of the spectrum, if you want something a little different, try the 2015 Kalavryta from Tetramythos. The Greek red is organic, full of fruit and with a slight black olive note for extra fun. I called it a Beaujolais with attitude, so  serve it at 15C and watch this bottle disappear.

Marc’s choices

Kendall-Jackson Vintner’s Reserve Chardonnay 2015 – A very good quality classic Californian “chardo” with its oak-driven notes and coconut on the nose. Generous mouthfeel which is augmented by the  7 g of residual sugar. But  the whole remains very easy drinking, with enough acidity to stay bright and fresh. Touch of saltiness on the finish alongside the oak.

Echo Indigo Côtes-De-Gascogne 2016 Very sauvignon with its grapefruit and herbal notes, which echoes the style of this variety when made in New Zealand. But this hails from southwestern France, an explosion of fruit, vibrant acidity and sold at a very friendly price.

Kendall Jackson Chardonnay Vintner's Reserve 2015Echo Indigo Côtes De Gascogne 2016San Felice Chianti Classico 2015Domaine Clavel Mescladis Pic St Loup 2016Domaine Cazes Marie Gabrielle 2016

San Felice Chianti Classico 2015 –  Leather and fallen leaves on the nose, followed by notes of ripe cherry. In the mouth, this is a mid-weight wine that shows some generosity without sacrificing the classic Chianti astringence. Wood is present, but nicely balanced. This is a wine that wants to be served with food.

Domaine Clavel Mescladis Aoc Pic Saint-Loup 2016 – An organic rosé from the Languedoc that is very well priced for what you are getting. Interesting nose that’s more herbal than fruity, that admittedly reminded me of marijuana. Otherwise, the wine shows good colour, decent power and with a driving acidity and almost tannic finish. This is serious rosé.

Cazes Cuvée Marie-Gabrielle Côtes-Du-Roussillon 2016 – I already suggested this wine last spring but here it is again as the SAQ just received a large order just in time for the summer barbecue season.  This is the definition of versatility, the « Marie-Gabrielle » bursting with youthful vigour, all fruit, with aromatic notes that make me wonder if this is the product of  carbonic maceration.  Otherwise, a wine with good tannins, a suave texture and just enough acidity to give it structure.

Remy’s selections

This month, the Chacun son vin/WineAlign crew is excited as we are unveiling the results from the most recent National Wine Awards of Canada. So why not highlight a medal winner from Québec? The 2016 Classique blanc from Domaine Saint-Jacques is a friendly, tasty blend with a great quality-price ratio.

Domaine St Jacques Classique Blanc 2016Arboleda Single Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc 2015Bonny Doon De Proprio Gravitas 2014Buti Nages Vin Rosé 2016

Outside of Quebec, let’s start with the 2015 Sauvignon Blanc from Arboleda from Chile. I was actually surprised I liked it so much as I’m usually averse to the New World, tropical, in-your-face aromatic style of sauvignon blanc. But the nervy, white pepper profile of this particular cuvée made me very happy indeed. On a very different note, the all-pinot white Alsatian blend Pierres Sauvages by the Vignoble du Rêveur is rich, seductive and delicately aromatic. Four years of aging has made it wonderfully integrated and delicious. Somewhere in the middle stylistically of the two previous wines comes Bonny Doon’s De Proprio Gravitas, a white bordeaux blend (with a smidgen of muscat) from the one and only Randall Grahm. Elegant and balanced, this will work wonders alongside both a salmon and roast chicken.

I also had fun with the 2016 Buti Nages, from Costières de Nîmes producer Château de Nages. It’s organic, under 15$ and shows great fruit on the nose and freshness on the palate. Who could ask for anything more from a rosé at this price ?

Cheers !

The complete list: 20 under $20

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Errazuriz Max Reserva Chardonnay 2015