Top 20 Under $20 for May

SAQ selections from our Quebec Team

Ah yes, the end of the month. It’s the time when we pay for our excesses over the previous weeks. Well, fear not, this doesn’t mean that you still can’t drink well. Our four critics have  chosen for you their favourite five under $20 wines that they have recently tasted. No cash? Still thirsty? No problem! Here’s May’s version of the 20 under 20.


Marc Chapleau’s choices

Very good cabernets can be found the world over. The 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon Manor House from Nederburg is one of those. When tasted blind, I found it reminiscent of classic Bordeaux – fresh and with a judicious use of oak.

My next two choices are both reds that hail from Portugal. The first is the deeply coloured and spicy 2011 Dao from Quinta dos Roques. The second is from the other reputed northern Portuguese red wine producing region of the Duoro. While better known for their Port, the elegant 2010 Douro from Vinha Grande is a very convincing example of the genre.

Nederburg Manor House Cabernet SauvignonQuinta Dos Roques Vinho Tinto 2011Casa Ferreirinha Vinha Grande 2011Bacalhoa Catarina 2013Pétale De Rose 2013

If you are looking for a white wine, also from Portugal, try the 2013 Catarina Bacalhoa. Hailing from the Sétubal peninsula just south of Lisbon you’ll discover a white that is both flavourful and aromatic.

Finally, with summer approaching, rosé is once again on everyone’s shopping list. Look no further than Régine Sumeire’s 2013 Pétale de Rose. Once again, it’s a model of the Provence style.

Nadia Fournier’s choices

To bring some originality to your barbecue dinners, leave the familiar and classic appellations and explore the lesser known south-west of France. In Marcillac, Lionel Osmin makes a very good red with local grape mansois. Rustic, perhaps, but the wine is both original and boldly flavoured. An ideal match for meats.

Everyday meals like hamburgers and grilled sausages are great matches for easy drinking yet powerful wines. Carmen’s 2013 Reserva Carmenere may be simple and straightforward, but sometimes simple is the ideal choice.

Jeanjean’s Pive Gris has been one the better value rosés over the past few summers, and the latest vintage lives up to its reputation with its delicate fruit, hint of richness and energy to spare.

Pyrène Marcillac 2012Carmen Reserva Carmenère 2013Le Pive Gris Vin RoséDomaine Henri Naudin Ferrand Bourgogne AligotéOffley Cachucha Reserve Porto

The Aligoté from Naudin-Ferrand is a wine with such exemplary freshness and minerality that it gives you the impression that you are drinking directly from a spring. It may be light in alcohol but it’s far from insignificant. A model of the style.

15 years ago it was hip to drink Port, but today it doesn’t quite have the same attraction. While white Port might seem a bit dated, it can be exceptionally refreshing. On a hot and sunny summer afternoon, white Port and tonic is one of my favourite alternatives to traditional cocktails. It’s as easy to drink as it is to make: equal parts of Offley’s Cachucha white Port and tonic water, a few ice cubes and a slice of lemon. Cheers!

Remy Charest’s choices

As the temperature rises, I like to see the alcohol percentage in my wines go down. I want refreshing wines and that’s just what Vinho Verde is all about. A wine that has been a staple at the SAQ for decades is the slightly fizzy Aveleda, and the 2013 is a simple, fun and fresh summer sipper.

If you think Rosés are all the same, the range of tastes and textures in pink wines might surprise you. For instance, try one of Québec’s best rosés, made by Domaine Saint-Jacques, and you’ll get a dark-colored wine, with aromas of wild blueberry. Compare that to the southern French styled rosé from sommelier-négociant François Chartier. It shows the typical delicate pink colour with nuanced notes of strawberry, spice and everything nice. Two very different wines that call for very different food pairings.

Quinta Da Aveleda Vinho Verde 2013Domaine St Jacques Rosé 2013Chartier Créateur D'harmonies Le Rosé 2013C.J.Pask. Roy's Hill Merlot 2011Domaine Thymiopoulos Xinomavro Jeunes Vignes 2012

Summer is grilling season, and many choose big, bold reds. I like my summer reds (and whites) to be on the fresher side – but without forgoing substance. In that tasty middle ground, I’ve found two very different wines that each show freshness and expressive aromatics. From the Hawkes Bay region of New Zealand, the CJ Pask Roy Hill Merlot will make you want to drink more of the grape as it is a far cry from those cheap merlots which all too often show nothing more than jammy, soft fruitiness.

From Greece, the “young vines” Xinomavro from Domaine Thymiopoulos tastes like a Beaujolais vacationing on the Mediterranean, with bright fruit and an enticing peppery, garrigue character that I can’t get enough of.

Bill Zacharkiw’s choices

We made it to summer! With the warmer temperatures, my wine selections move towards whites the will pair with seasonal foods, and riper reds for the barbecue.

A great example of a white for both an aperitif and lighter seafood is the 2011 Pinot Blanc from Trimbach. I love the subtle notes of peach and pear, as well as the mineral finish.

As asparagus season has started, if there ever is a time for sauvignon blanc from New Zealand, it’s now. While I’m often very critical of the style, the 2013 from Stoneleigh is excellent. Lots of ripe citrus and passion fruit, with just enough of a  “green” component.

Lots of good, inexpensive pink wine to be found this summer. Try the Cap Bleu from Jean-Luc Colombo if you want a rosé with some substance, enough even for white meats. But this isn’t an “almost red,” just a rosé with a touch more texture than most.

Trimbach Pinot Blanc 2011Stoneleigh Sauvignon Blanc 2013Jean Luc Colombo Cape Bleue Rosé 2013Robertson Winery Shiraz Mourvedre Viognier 2012Ninquén Antu Cabernet Sauvignon Carmenère 2012

For the barbecue, I found good value reds that will work well with ketchup-based barbecue sauce! The 2012 Robertson Shiraz Mourvedre has just what you need for pork ribs – lots of flavour, supple tannins and drinks best slightly cooler at 16C. Try a bourbon-based bbq sauce and it works wonders.

And if you want something bigger and riper that will work with stronger flavoured red meats like lamb, or a T-bone with steak spice, the 2012 Ninquén Antu is a solid choice. Dark fruited, with solid tannin and just a dose of smokey oak.

That’s it for this month’s 20 Under $20. Stayed tuned tomorrow as Marc Chapleau takes you off the beaten path to explore New Zealand Pinot Noir.

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