20 great wines at any price ! Holiday Edition 2017

Monthly picks from our Quebec Critic Team

In a few short days it will be Christmas. And like many of you, the Chacun Son Vin team of writers are looking for that special bottle for the holidays. Whether it be for a gift or for a dinner party, here are 20 wines at all prices and styles to make this holiday season a special one.

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

Bill Zacharkiw’s selections

When I spend serious cash on a bottle it is almost always Champagne, and quite often it’s Larmandier Bernier Terre de Vertus. It is just over $80, but to me has everything I could want: minerality, subtle aromatics, a rich texture yet refreshing and nimble on the palate. Simply put, this is the bomb and will take you from aperitif through most seafood meals.

However, I know that it is expensive so if you are looking for a less expensive Champagne, and pink, then go for the Rosé from Lanson. Again, like any great Champagne, this is about subtlety and elegance. The fresh red fruit is there, but you feel as though they are growing in a field nearby, being carried in by a gentle, refreshing breeze.

For my three bottles of still wine, I picked one of each type. For the white, a wine that will work well as an aperitif and a wide selection of appetizers, especially seafood, the 2016 Sancerre Moussière from Alphonse Mellot. Crisp and fresh, as it should be, but with just a hint of grassy green to accompany the citrus notes. Superb texture as well.

Larmandier Bernier Terre De Vertus Premier Cru 2010Lanson BrutLa Moussière Sancerre 2016Château Mont Redon Châteauneuf Du Pape 2012Cru Barréjats Sauternes 2004

For my red, no matter what type of meat you are eating, the 2012 Châteauneuf-du-Pape from Mont Redon will do the trick. In an appellation that at times can be unnecessarily expensive, this wine delivers vintage after vintage. The 2012 is particularly well done and if you can, stock a few bottles away, at 10 years of age they are simply delicious.

Finally, for dessert or a cheese course that has some more powerful cheeses, try a Sauternes. Sweet wines are not for every night, but for special occasions they can be a real treat. The 2004 Cru Barréjats comes in a 500ml bottle and is drinking fabulously. Full of apricots, a perfect balance between sweetness and acidity. If you haven’t had one lately, then this is well worth the price.

Rémy Charest’s Recommendations

Since we decided that the last monthly recommendations of the year should do away with budget constraints and be as festive as can be, how about some actual Champagne, for starters?

One of the least expensive champagnes I tasted this fall is also one of the most pleasant. The Tribaut-Schloesser Blanc de Chardonnay is excellent, with a depth one rarely finds under 40$, in this category. It actually shows up much better than many entry-level champagnes from the big brands, which can be significantly more expensive.

As far as whites go, I’ve been delighted with the 2016 Lirac Blanc from Château Mont-Redon, every time I’ve tasted it. It has the lovely aromatics of Rhône whites, framed by extra freshness. Delicious now, though I’d be tempted to hide a couple away in the cellar.

Tribaut Schloesser Blanc De Chardonnay BrutChâteau Mont Redon Lirac Blanc 2016Domaine Michel Juillot Mercurey 2015Castelgiocondo Brunello Di Montalcino 2012Distillerie Mariana Amernoir

On the red side of things, as a party bottle to go along with turkey, ham, tourtière and such, I’d easily go for the 2015 Mercurey from Michel Juillot. Its generous fruit and lovely weight make it highly accessible. Seductive and sunny, at a fair price.

If you want to impress your guests, without being an ostentatious show-off, the 2012 Brunello di Montalcino from Castelgiocondo is a serious and classic expression of the most aristocratic appellation in Tuscany. It shows energy, elegance, and the lovey character good wine develops after long aging in big casks. Very satisfying, especially after a quick and energetic pour into a decanter.

Anything for dessert? I would strongly suggest trying the Amernoir, an amaro made in Québec by Spiritueux Iberville with Distillerie Mariana. Chocolaty and spicy notes, with just enough bitterness, make it true to its origins as an Italian-style digestif, but with a distinctive personality. Try it on its own, over ice (or a piece of fruitcake), or use it to make a Manhattan variation with bourbon and Angostura bitters.

Marc Chapleau’s Mix

Champagnes and other sparkling wines will be the theme of my article which will be sent out tomorrow, Friday. So for today, here are five excellent wines that I tasted recently and brought some joy to my palate, and are widely available throughout the province.

Taylor Fladgate Late Bottled Vintage 2012 – A Port with excellent structure, power and length typical of the style of Taylor Fladgate. Good complexity with lots of fruit, especially cherries, floral aromatics and a solid acidity. Just over $13 for the half bottle, which will be adequate for 4 people.

Didier Erker Givry 1er Cru Les Bois Chevaux 2015 – Excellent red Burgundy hailing from the Côte Chalonnaise. Rich and spicy, typical of the region’s wines, depth and surprising tannins that gives it a Gevrey feel. I might be a touch overly enthusiastic with that comparison but this remains a great deal nonetheless.

Taylor Fladgate Late Bottled Vintage 2012Didier Erker Givry 1er Cru Les Bois Chevaux 2015Castello Banfi Brunello Di Montalcino Poggio Alle Mura 2012Domaine La Tour Vieille ReservaRavenswood Big River Single Vineyard Zinfandel 2014

Banfi Poggio Alle Mura 2012 – Very good Brunello that shows both fruit and earthier notes of tar and smoke. Great complexity. In the mouth, despite the sheer power and tannin, it drinks with elegance and finesse, as all good Brunellos.

Domaine La Tour Vieille Banyuls Reserva – Impeccable. A sort of Tawny Port with a similar sugar level (96 g) but less alcohol (16%). The ensemble shows exceptional freshness, delicate even. At $32, a superb wine that will work well as a digestif or accompanying a pecan pie.

Ravenswood Zinfandel Big River 2014 – A tasty and powerful wine. Still very youthful, and still quite young, so for the moment shows expected sweet fruit and a fair amount of oak. Time will put everything in balance, but if you can wait feel free to give it a vigorous decanting. Impressive.

Nadia Fournier’s Selections

As any successful celebration starts with bubbles, why not start with one made by Québécois ex-pat Patrick Piuze, who has teamed up with Champagne house Moutard Diligent to make the excellent Méthode Traditionnelle, Non Dosé, Vin de France. Despite its finesse, this sparkling wine is made with grapes grown outside of the Champagne appellation, which is why it is so inexpensive.  

Alexandre Chartogne (Chartogne-Taillet) is one of the most respected men in Champagne. Student of  Anselme Selosse, his wines show great precision with grapes grown in the commune of Merfy in the  sub-region of Montagne de Reims. The Cuvée Sainte Anne, Brut is an excellent way to discover the wines of this great winemaker at a very reasonable price at under $50 a bottle.  

To continue your meal with a dose of “sumptuality,” try the Saumur 2015 from Château Yvonne. A white with a strong personality, organically grown, full of fruit, a mouth coating and rich texture with a refreshing acidity underneath the mass. It works with either with your meal or with a cheese course. 

Patrick Piuze Non Dosé Méthode TraditionnelleChartogne Taillet Cuvée Sainte AnneChâteau Yvonne Saumur 2015Domaine Faiveley Mercurey La Framboisière 2014Niepoort Dialogo 2015

After two excellent vintages, 2012 and 2013, the Mercurey 2014, La Framboisière confirms that Faively is back on the road to producing quality wines. Since his arrival in 2008,  Julien Bordet put the house in Mercurey in order and the Faiveley family has invested millions of Euros in the winemaking facility. It’s in the details where great wine is made, so try this bottle and taste the resurrection of one of Burgundy”s great family vineyards.

Finally, because the holiday season is one of sharing, why not go for a larger bottle? These days, we are seeing a number of affordable magnums of great wines, like the Douro 2015, Diálogo from Niepoort. A Douro of great quality, with aromas of dried fruits that are the hallmark of this hot and dry valley. But despite the torrid climate, Niepoort always finds a way to make a red with exceptional drinkability that isn’t far from Beaujolais in style.

Health and happiness to all of you!

The complete list: 20 under $20

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