20 under $20 – September 2017

Monthly picks from our Quebec Critic Team

Fall has arrived and despite the recent blast of summer temperatures, they will start their inevitable decline. But big deal, us Quebeckers know the routine. We also know our wine, and also love a great deal. So in honour of both, here’s the latest edition of the 20 wines under $20.

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

Bill’s selections

Autumn for me means soup. I love great broth, and especially Vietnamese Tonkinoise. What to drink with a spicy, aromatic broth? While cooking the other night I opened up a bottle of the 2016 Viña Esmeralda as an apero and just kept drinking it. The aromatic match was exceptional which is why this is also a great choice as an aperitif and sushi as well.

Continuing on the aromatic theme, but with more texture, Gerovassilou’s 2016 malagousia/assyrtiko blend continues to be an under $20 staple at my place. Try it with fried calamari or a white fish with fruit salsa.

Torres Viña Esmeralda 2016Ktima Gerovassiliou White 2016Altos Las Hormigas Malbec 2015Susana Balbo Crios Syrah / Bonarda 2015Château Coupe Roses Les Plots 2016

For reds, that line between new and old world continues to get muddied as many new world regions look to Europe for inspiration: less oak, better acidities, real tannin. The 2015 Altos-Las-Hormigas is almost more Cahors than Argentina with its meaty notes and focus. The 2015 Crios, a syrah and bonarda blend shows rustic tannins and a load of fruit. Easy drinking but with ooomph!

To finish, another red that is decidedly European. The 2016 Minervois, Coupe Roses Les Plots never disappoints and this latest vintage continues its blending of finesse and power. Got a lean steak? Here’s your wine.

Marc’s choices

Nobilo Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2016 – A cutting, biting character that is the calling card of sauvignon blanc, though without any of the excess sweetness. Finishes with a mix of lemon and pineapple. Very good deal for under $17 that will pair nicely with a variety of tapas.

Charles Smith Vino Pinot Grigio 2014 – Starts quite floral with subtle notes of pastry and white tobacco. Pretty engaging aromatics. The fruit, which is plentiful, follows. No residual sugar so the acidity is upfront, keeping the ensemble fresh. Very well done.

Nobilo Regional Collection Sauvignon Blanc 2016Charles Smith Wines Vino Pinot Grigio 2014Famille Hugel Riesling 2015Chateau Ste. Michelle Chardonnay 2016Badenhorst Secateurs Chenin Blanc 2016

Hugel & Fils Riesling 2015 – A touch of sulfur at first whiff but that blows off. Classic riesling with its high-wire tension of acidity and texture. You can’t even feel the 4.8 grams of residual sugar here.

Ste Michelle Chardonnay 2016 – Floral notes that have a muscat nuance. The oak is still quite present but the structural balance is there, even if the vanilla notes needs a little more integration. Solid chardonnay from Washington State.

Badenhorst Sécateurs 2016 – A South African chenin blanc that shows ripe fruit, but with solid freshness and a salty, mineral finish. And like all good chenin, some good body and a hint of honey.

Nadia’s selections

While the warm season is fading away, I still desire lighter wines and fresh whites, an area that France excels. From the Méditerranean, the Galets Dorés 2016 from Château Mourgues du Grès is a great example of a great white from the Costières de Nîmes: a warmer climate offers up a powerful wine, full of ripe fruit while not losing freshness. It’s really an excellent purchase.

From the Atlantic, the Château Bastor-Lamontagne 2016 White Bordeaux in Sauternes gives the impression of  sémillon aromatically, yet it is 100 % sauvignon blanc, showing itself in its singular uniqueness derived from its terroir. Very well done and organic to boot!

Château Mourgues Du Grès Les Galets Dorés 2016Château Bastor Lamontagne 2016Château Sainte Marie Vieilles Vignes Entre Deux Mers 2016The Curator A.A Badenhorst 2017Masciarelli Rosato Colline Teatine 2016

I also really liked the subtlety of  Stéphane Dupuch’s white made in the heart of Entre-deux-Mers. The Château Sainte-Marie 2016 is unoaked and offers up focussed fruit which ranges from tropical nuances to citrus, as well as a “beeswax” notes derived from sémillon which represents a quarter of the blend. It is one of the better value Bordeaux whites at the SAQ.

Staying near the Atlantic, but a few thousand km further south, South Africa’s Adi Badenhorst excels at making wines with distinct personalities, and at very reasonable prices. His Curator White Blend 2017 is more proof of those, dry and original, with a delicate “perlance” that offers up even more freshness. At under $15, one can’t ask for more.

Finally, because it is never too late for rosé, you will want to taste the Rosato 2016 by Masciarelli, brand new at the SAQ. Don’t be fooled by its darker color – it is not a “rosé bonbon”. The montepulciano nevertheless confers a perfect mouthpiece for the table. Especially with linguine clams and chorizo ​​… Yum!

Rémy’s selections

September was, oddly, the hottest month of summer. No wonder my monthly selection is in between seasons… In the record-breaking heat of recent days, the 7e Ciel rosé, a gamay from the Côtes d’Auvergne, was perfectly refreshing, but whatever the weather, it’ll be great to cut the fat on some charcuterie, or with a ripe tomato salad, while the season lasts. The same thing can be said about the 2016 Aveleda Vinho Verde, which has been on monopoly shelves for decades, always refreshing and easy to drink, and a great match for grilled fish.

Saint Verny 7e Ciel Côtes D'auvergne 2015Aveleda Fonte Vinho Verde 2016Zaccagnini La Cuvée Dell'abate 2015Château Du Grand Caumont 2014Tormaresca Torcicoda Primitivo 2014

Still, when the temperature drops – which it inevitably will – we’ll likely feel like drinking more red. My suggestions cover three very different styles. First, the 2015 Cuvée dell’Abate is a well-balanced Montepulciano with grippy tannins and pleasant acidity, made for the table. Ripe but still light enough, 2014 Château du Grand Caumont is right on the line between easy-drinking and full-bodied – at a nice price, too! Finally, the 2014 Torcicoda Primitivo is full-bodied and ripe, with raisined flavors and a touch of spice and oak – and great for braised meats for cooler days. A selection for every kind of weather.

Cheers !

The complete list: 20 under $20

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Errazuriz Max Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon 2015