20 under $20 for March

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 is the March version of the 20 under $20.

Chacun son Vin Critic Team

Bill Zacharkiw’s picks

Winter is holding on by the bare knuckles, but Snow Crab fishing season is to start March 26, so at a minimum we can feast while this way-too-long winter comes to a conclusion. Snow crab is a tough one to pair with wines. The flesh is very delicate and slightly sweet. It is easy to overpower.

My wine of choice is pinot blanc. Its delicate fruit notes won’t over power and its low acidity matches nicely the texture of the flesh. One of my favourite pinot blancs comes from Trimbach, and the 2013 will do the job with a delicate hand.

If you want a wine that has a little more aromatic oomph!, then try the 2014 sauvignon blanc from Domaine Bellevue. Hailing from the Loire appellation of Touraine, it is more textured than overtly acidic and will also do a good job with the crab.

Trimbach Pinot Blanc 2013 Domaine Bellevue Touraine Sauvignon Blanc 2014 Cave De Tain Crozes Hermitage 2012 Torracia 2011 Terre Di Talamo Tempo Morellino Di Scansano 2011

For the reds, I have gone for a few different styles. From one of France’s better co-operatives, a must try is the 2012 Crozes-Hermitage from the Cave de Tain. It does justice to its Hermitage namesake with its blackberry fruit and refined tannins.

If you are looking for a wine with a little more rusticity, and organic as well, the 2011 Torracia from Corsica is an excellent wine that offers ripe fruit and gritty tannin. Think lamb chops here.

And finally, while the price is a hair over $20, well $0.15 actually, I really liked the 2011 Morellino Di Scansano from Castello di Bossi. It’s a riper style of sangiovese that is more about the fruit than the earthier tones. Veal Parmagiano? This is your wine.

Remy Charest’s selections

At the recent Salon des vins de Québec, I made it a point of hunting down under-$20 wines for this monthly feature. The search yielded several very interesting finds, including some very pleasant local wines from Québec.

First among the locals was the 2013 Voile de la Mariée from Vignoble Sainte-Pétronille, a fresh, clean and pleasantly aromatic blend of vandal-cliche and vidal. At $16.60, it offers a great QPR.

On a rounder, more festive note, the Rosé sparkling from Domaine de Lavoie made me smile. It’s a surprising blend of Frontenac Gris, Eona and Sainte-Croix, with a fairly dark color and lovely notes of red berries. It has a touch of sweetness – but just a touch – which makes it quite the crowd-pleaser.

Vignoble Sainte Pétronille Voile De La Mariée 2013 Domaine De Lavoie Vin Mousseux Rosé 2013 Domaine Gerovassiliou White 2012 Campagnola Chardonnay 2013 Alma Negra 2012

From Québec, I headed straight to Greece and tasted the Domaine Gerovassiliou white blend of equal parts Assyrtiko and Malagousia. The first variety is sharp and crisp, the second round and aromatic, and when you put those two opposites together, the result is surprisingly harmonious and charming.

Right next to the Greek wine, there was an unexpected white from the Veneto: a chardonnay selling for under 15$, the 2013 Campagnola Veneto. Simple, fruity but not heavy, accessible, it could certainly compare favorably with those from regions more often associated with chardonnay –  like, say, California.

My most pleasant surprise, on the red side of things, was the Alma Negra 2012. Made mostly from malbec, livened up by 15% bonarda. Argentinian malbecs can sometimes be excessively round and fruity, but this wine has a nice jolt of energy and some nice smoky notes that provide complexity and character.

Marc Chapleau’s picks

While I mentioned this wine in my last article, I’m going to hammer the same nail again in our monthly under 20 under $20. The Argentine 2013 Fuzion Malbec-Shiraz is oaked with wood chips for sure which gives its roasted notes, but the fruit and freshness is undeniable. At $10, it’s a easy purchase.

From Italy, the 2012 Montepulciano d’Abruzzo Illuminati is richly textured, generous with its fruit, solidly tannic and with a good acidity. Its price, just under $17, makes it even more attractive.

Fuzion Shiraz Malbec 2013 Illuminati Riparosso Montepulciano D'abruzzo 2012 Artadi Tempranillo 2012 Las Rocas Garnacha 2011 Cono Sur Visión Pinot Noir 2012

Now onto two Spanish wines. From Rioja the 2012 Tempranillo Artadi distinguishes itself by its well executed marriage of fruit and oak. Finessed tannins and just enough fruit follow in the mouth. The 2011 Garnacha Las Roscas Catalayud is riper, and jammier. But still maintains a certain freshness despite the power and richness of the ensemble.

Finally, this time from Chile, the 2012 Single Vineyard Pinot Noir from Cono Sur surpasses our limit of $20. You will have to lay down an extra 25 cents, but it is worth it. The wine strikes me as showing certain signs of evolution, but there is depth, and still enough fruit and acidity.

Nadia Fournier’s selections

Casa Ferreirinha Vinha Grande 2010, Douro 
- Always satisfying, the wines from this venerable Douro domaine are always faithful to the classic style of the Douro. Since we can’t drink the spectacular Barca Velha – the most reputed wine of Ferreirinha, which is still absent from the  shelves of the SAQ as I am writing this, we can console ourselves with the relatively inexpensive regular listing wine whose quality over the years has remained undeniable.

Domaine d’Aupilhac Lou Maset 2013, Coteaux du Languedoc – Sylvain Fadat practices organic grape growing in his vineyards in Montpeyroux, the highest elevation “cru” in the Coteaux du Languedoc. This, his entry level wine, has maintained an impeccable consistency over the years.

Chionetti San Luigi 2011, Dogliani – Dolcetto is in many ways the opposite of nebbiolo in that it is by no means considered “noble.” It is without doubt a grape variety “of the people,” known for its high drinkability without having to reflect too much about what’s in your glass. This offering from the Chionetti family reflects the joy to be found in pure simplicity.

Casa Ferreirinha Vinha Grande 2011 Domaine D'aupilhac Lou Maset 2013 Chionetti San Luigi Dogliani 2011 Bodegas Moraza Tinto Joven 2013 Tetramythos Kalavryta 2013

Bodegas Moraza Tinto Joven 2013, Rioja – Québécois Patricio Brongo got his start at cider producer Cryomalus, but he and his wife now work the vines of their family bodega in Rioja. This is an excellent weekday wine that is to be drunk in the prime of its youth.

Tetramythos Achaia Noir de Kalavryta 2013, Greece – Panayiotis Papagiannopoulos lost his winery and the majority of his vines in a forest fire that ravaged the Péloponnèse in the summer of 2007. The vines have since been replanted and are now grown organically. Of the grapes being grown, one is a rare variety called the noir de Kalavryta, which Papagiannopoulos makes into a red wine that is both original and affordable.

Cheers !

The complete list: 20 under $20

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