20 under $20 for July

Monthly picks from our Quebec Critic 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 July’s version of the 20 under 20.


Bill Zacharkiw’s choices

Viva la vacances! I’m almost on vacation so my thoughts turn towards leisurely afternoon aperitifs and easy drinking reds that will pair nicely with my whatever I have going on my grill.

For those whites, let’s start with a great Alsatian blend from Wolfberger. Mucat, pinot gris and riesling combine to create wonderfully aromatic and very interesting wine. Pairs nice with spicy shrimp as well.

I love German riesling, especially for drinking while I’m working the barbecue. Try the 2013 riesling from Selbach-Oster. For only $16, you get some pretty fruit and a lip smacking mineral finish.

Wolfberger W3 Riesling Mucat Pinot Gris 2013 Selbach Riesling 2013 Stoneleigh Pinot Noir Rose 2013 Tagus Creek Reserva 2010 Cono Sur Cabernet Sauvignon Carmenère 2012

During the last heat wave, my rosé intake increased with each degree. On one of those evenings, with a grilled salmon in front of me, Stoneleigh’s Pinot Noir rosé proved to be  the perfect compliment.

Cooking up some ribs? I got your wine. From Portugal’s southern Alentejo region, Tagus Creek’s 2010 Reserva, a blend of touriga nacional and cabernet sauvignon proved to be a perfect match.

And finally, few things are as yummy as grilled lamb chops, sprinkled with fresh garden herbs. My choice for a wine. Cono Sur’s blend of cabernet sauvignon and carmanere. Organic, lushly textured with fine tannins.

Marc Chapleau’s choices

It’s beautiful outside, hit and even though it may rain from time to time, we’re always ready for a party. After all, it’s summer! And wine allows us to travel the world, even if you prefer to spend your vacation near the comfy confines of your home.

Manzanilla Sherry, which os made in southern Spain is both delicate and very flavourful. One one excellent an authentic example is Lustau’s Manzanilla Papirusa  . Drink it cool, fridge temperature and don’t forget the tapas.

Right next door to Sanlucar de Barrameda, the home of Manzanilla, another fino Sherry is made that is a little more robust, perhaps more masculine, and just as flavourful, Osborne’s Fino Quinta.

Emilio Lustau Papirusa Solera Reserva Very Dry Manzanilla Osborne Fino Quinta Sherry Château Des Charmes Cuvée d'Andrée Rosé Estate Bottled 2013 Masi Tupungato Passo Doble Malbec Corvina 2012 La Vieille Ferme Côtes Du Ventoux Red 2013

Is the world of Sherry a bit too foreign? Then how about a  rosé made “very close-to-home” in Ontario’s Niagara region. Chatesu des Charmes’  2013 Cuvée d’Andrée is made with pinot noir that leaves a wonderful freshness despite a hint of residual sugar.

And when the steak is on the grill, or perhaps marinating in the fridge, put a well-made Argentine malbec in the fridge as well to cool it off. Masi’s Passo Doble Malbec Corvina is a well-balanced and flavourful accompaniment to any summer steak.

If you find the Masi Passo Doble too powerful to your tastes, even when the malbec is softened up by the Italian grape corvina, you can go for La Vielle Ferme’s Côtes du Ventoux . Once again, the 2013 vintage is a great example of a solid yet supple red.

Nadia Fournier’s choices

Don’t be fooled by simple power and concentration, as is often the case with many modern Spanish wines, the Gran Sangre de Toro  from Torres gives added charm with both its silky and beautifully integrated tannins. It’s the perfect match for Merguez sausages.

I would love to write that Thymiopoulos’ Jeunes Vignes de Xinomavro is my favourite summer red but that would be lying as I love it year-round! Such incredible drinkability for the price.

Are you looking for simple and light-hearted pleasures on your vacation? Well that’s good because this riesling brings just that. Perhaps the best of his previous vintages, Charles Smith’s Kung Fu Girl exceptional balance between the acidity and a hidden richness. Vibrant, stylish and bursting with fruit.

Torres Gran Sangre De Toro Reserva 2010 Domaine Thymiopoulos Xinomavro Kung Fu Girl Riesling 2013 Carmen Gran Reserva Fumé Blanc 2013 Domaine De Gournier Rosé 2013

Made with raw fish and seafood, and “cooked” by lime and/or lemon juice, ceviche is the perfect food to refresh and fill you up during a heat-wave. A prickling of fresh herbs or served alongside a green papaya salad, it pairs wonderfully with a Chilean sauvignon blanc like Carmen’s Fumé blanc 2013 .

And if you are looking for a rosé, Maurice Barnouin’s Domaine de Gournier works wonders accompanying a plate of shellfish or any seafood. Delicate aromatics, dry and sold at a very friendly price.

Rémy Charest’s choices

July’s hot and humid, so I’ve been drinking my fair share of whites and rosés, of course, but I’ve had a remarkable amount of fun tasting some fresh, balanced reds. Here are some examples that kept me cool and happy:

My love for aligoté keeps growing and growing. I’m in love with the more complex and serious versions put together by Thomas Bachelder or Domaine De Villaine), which show  this underestimated variety’s full potential, but I also like simpler versions, like the one from négociant Bichot. It’s as easy to find as it’s easy to drink.

Roussillon rocks. It has tons of great producers who work naturally and take advantage of the large swaths of old vines lying around its hills. Ferrer-Ribière is one of them, and their cuvée Tradition is a great, super-fun blend of grenache, syrah, mourvèdre and carigna.

If you’re looking for fruity, round wines that won’t clobber you with residual sugar like Apothic or Ménage à Trois, Portugal is the place for you. The 2011 Douro from Lavradores de Feitoria, a great bunch of bright winemakers, is a great example of this, at a great price.

Albert Bichot Bourgogne Aligoté Domaine Ferrer Ribière Tradition 2010 Lavradores De Feitoria Douro 2011 Azienda Il Grillesino Ciliegiolo 2013 Domaine Elian Da Ros Le Vin Est Une Fête 2011

Want to step out and have a little fun? Head to Tuscany and enjoy a variety that is as fun as it is unknown: Ciliegiolo. The name comes from a Tuscan word for cherry, and that’s what you get first and foremost in this fresh, distinctive wine.

All right, you got me, I’m cheating a bit, here, since this wine is a few cents above $20. But wow, Le vin est une fête, from Elian Da Ros, an exceptional producer from Southwest France, is sooooo worth it and so well-named. Party in your mouth? You bet.

Cheers !

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