20 under $20 – November 2017

Monthly picks from our Quebec Critic Team

So it’s December tomorrow. That means it’s the annual “what presents do I buy puzzle”, along with many festive moments and time off work. Or for some, maybe you are working even harder. No matter what your lot is in December, the Chacun Son Vin team is here to make your life easier, and take some stress off your wallet, by offering up our monthly list of excellent under $20 purchases.

Our special Christmas edition will come out December 21st. For that one, we’ll raise the bar a bit over $20 to offer you selections that will spoil you or your friends as gifts.

Our Quebec Critic Team: Bill, Marc, Nadia et Rémy

Bill Zacharkiw’s selections

The holidays are often all about what you eat. So let’s talk about some of the best food and wine pairings I have tried recently.

It’s full on oyster season and bubbles flow more often than not when I’m gulping back a dozen. Try the Cava from Villa Conchi. Fragrant, dry and with a subtle mineral note to make the pairing perfect.

How about a piece of pan-fired Black Cod with a herbes salées vinaigrette? This might be one of my pairings of the year when I served Argiolas’ 2016 Vermentino di Sardaigna. Subtle, with stone fruits and a twist of lime. But what made it so good was the texture: rich but with just enough acidity to keep it lively. Brilliant, though it is 10 cents over our $20 limit.

Villa Conchi Brut Selección CavaArgiolas Merì Vermentino Di Sardegna 2016Caparzo Rosso Di Montalcino 2014Château Roland La Garde Tradition 2012Vina Garces Silva Syrah Boya 2014

How about a classic lasagna with tomato and meat sauce? I love traditional Italian wines and Caparzo’s 2014 Rosso di Montalcino is just that. Bright acidity, with cherries bathed in leather and earth, and just enough tannin to hold it together.

If you are eating some roasted bird, then try the 2012 Blaye, Côte de Bordeaux from Château Roland la Garde. This organic Bordeaux offers up everything you could ask from a classic Bordeaux, and at five years of age, is drinking wonderfully.

Finally. If you are a fan of lamb, from the rack to the leg, the 2014 Syrah from Garces Silva is the ideal choice. Fresh red fruits, but with classic Chilean herbal notes of eucalyptus and mint. Such a joy to drink.

Rémy Charest’s Recommendations

It’s important to taste with an open mind. That’s how you get pleasantly surprised. For instance, I really wouldn’t have given a Portuguese rosé sparkling made from shiraz and baga a huge chance of winding up in this month’s selections. Yet here is the Mateus Sparkling Brut, a rosé with feisty bubbles, fun aromas and an energetic and pleasantly tannic bubbles.

You could also let yourself be pleasantly surprised by the 2016 Pinot Bianco from Alois Lageder, one of the best-known producers in Northern Italy’s Alto Adige region. It’s a complete, balanced white that is super easy to drink, and has enough stuffing to go with a meal.

Mateus Sparkling Brut RoséAlois Lageder Pinot Bianco 2016Damien Coquelet Gamay Vin De France Nouveau 2017Laurence et Rémi Dufaitre Vin de France Nouveau 2017Cave de Roquebrun Granges des Combes 2015

November rhymes with nouveau, in the wine world, and it’s nice to see that the general offering of these young wines has improved, on SAQ shelves. The Vin de France gamays from Damien Coquelet and Laurence and Rémi Dufaître are two fine examples of good vin nouveau, which will remain pleasant and drinkable for many months. The former is a bit rounder, the latter more nervy and zippy : it all depends what you’re in the mood for.

It’s by no means nouveau, and it’s way more full-bodied, but the 2015 Grange des Combes from the Cave de Roquebrun cooperative, in Saint-Chinian, was my favorite under-20$ wine of the last month, by far. Ripe and generous, yet fresh and grippy, with a surprising amount of complexity, it will do wonders at the holiday table, especially if meat pies and such are at the heart of the menu.

Marc Chapleau’s Mix

Protos Verdejo Rueda 2016 – A Spanish white that’s both refreshing and fruity, reminiscent of sauvignon blanc though with a nuanced liquorice note. You have some power here, dry at 1.5g/l of residual sugar and with some fat. Well done!

Vignobles Lorgeril l’Orangeraie Cabernet Sauvignon 2016 – A remarkably light cabernet from the Languedoc, wonderfully light and well-balanced. An easy drinking wine in the best sense of the term. Delicate green pepper note that’s expected considering this is 100% cabernet. Dry and at under $14, a great deal.

Protos Verdejo Rueda 2016L'Orangeraie Cabernet Sauvignon 2016Vila Regia 2016Prince Philippe Aligoté 2016Santa Margherita Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore

Vila Regia Douro 2016 – At $9, this is truly a remarkable red, light and refreshing, with lots of fruit (cherry and blackberry). No apparent residual sugar, which is rare for a red at this price level. A tip of the hat to Sogrape for this one.

Prince Philippe Bourgogne Aligoté 2016 – A very well made Aligoté, the “other” white grape of Burgundy. Nervous and twitchy, with notes of white tobacco and green apple that makes one think of chardonnay. No apparent oak influence, this is a crunchy wine that does the job at under $16.

Santa Margherita Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore – An Italina sparkling that shows excellent floral notes, a certain elegance, bright acidity and not too much residual sugar. Fresh, balanced and restraint from the first sip to the last.

Nadia Fournier’s Selections

It’s the year end and that means ‘best-ofs” and other lists. So in that spirit, here are five wines that impressed me over that past month.

As always, Philippe Teulier’s  Domaine du Cros, in Marcillac, is fresh and invigorating like the mountain air where the grapes are grown. The Lo Sang del Païs 2015 shows the originality of the local grape, mansois, which is known outside of the appellation as fer servadou. Yet again, the liquid definition of a “vin de soif.”

A touch riper, the Château la Tour de Béraud is a “sort of” second label of  Château Mourgues du Grès, in the Costières de Nîmes. The 2015 shows floral notes, a hint of cocoa, finishing with a note of kirsch. An excellent purchase at just over $18.

Domaine Du Cros Lo Sang Del Païs Marcillac 2015Château La Tour De Beraud 2015Curator A. A. Badenhorst Western Cape 2016The Curator A. A Badenhorst 2017Masciarelli Trebbiano d'Abruzzo 2016

Since they hit the shelves at the SAQ, the wines of South African Adi Badenhorst have been not only a great commercial success, due to both their value and authenticity. If you need to taste why, try the under $15 Curator Red Blend 2016. As Michel Beauchamp, wine advisor at the Beaubien SAQ, extolled: “we buy this by the case.”

The Curator White Blend 2017 is another excellent example. A blend of  chenin, chardonnay and viognier; dry and richly textured, with a hint of carbon dioxide to add freshness. At under $15, hard to find a better white.

Even more affordable and just as original, the Trebbiano d’Abruzzo 2016 from Masciarelli is typically Méditeranean, showing just enough structure for an Italian white at this price. At just over $13, the ideal choice for a weekday meal or holiday party with friends.

Cheers !

The complete list: 20 under $20

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Errazuriz Aconcagua Alto Cabernet