20 under $20 for October 2015

Monthly picks from our Quebec Critic Team

It’s the end of the month and Le Grand Degustation de Montreal is just around the corner (November 6 and 7). The Chacun son Vin critics will be there in full force and we will be leading a number of tastings, so we hope that you’ll come by one of the tastings or stop by the booth to say hello. In honour of Montreal’s biggest consumer tasting event, here is a 20 under $20 focusing on the three themes of the LGDM: grenache, sparkling wines, and Spain.

Chacun son Vin Critic Team : Bill, Marc, Nadia & Remy

Bill Zacharkiw’s picks

I love sparkling wines and thankfully there are almost too many good examples under $20. So I will limit my choices to two, both from Spain. The first is from Codorniu and the cuvee Seleccion Raventos. The 50% of chardonnay in the blend adds extra depth and texture. My second choice has to be the Segura Viudas. For it’s under $16 price tag, it is always one of the better value wines at the SAQ, no matter what style of wine.

While we are in Spain, I recently tasted a great red from the Yecla region. The 2012 Barahonda Barrica is a blend of monastrell and syrah and will accompany a pork chop with a balsamic-based sauce with ease.

Codorníu Selección Raventós Brut Cava Segura Viudas Brut Reserva Cava Barahonda Barrica Monastrell Syrah 2012Gérard Bertrand Grand Terroir Tautavel 2013Domaine Ferrer Ribière Tradition 2012

When talking grenache, there are many great terroirs for this exceptional grape. I was recently in France’s Roussillon where old grenache vines are plentiful. While the grenache is always blended here, it still dominates. Try the 2013 Tautavel from Gerard Bertrand for a wonderfully aromatic taste of this great region, or the 2012 Côtes du Roussillon Tradition from Domaine Ferrer Ribière. In both cases, grenache and carignan team up to give a big wine that still stays super drinkable.

Nadia Fournier’s selections

The choice of Spanish wines has never been so exciting at the SAQ. There are so many new wines that are just now available, or will be soon. So in keeping with the Spanish theme at this year’s  La Grande Dégustation de Montréal, here are a few wines to try.

Every year, I love rediscovering the Gran Sangre de Toro,  a blend of garnacha, mazuelo (carignan) and syrah. At Torres, they have, thankfully, never succumbed to the fashion of sugar and excessive oak flavouring. The wine is typically Catalan – juicy, gorging with ripe fruit and well balanced.

An important figure in Rioja, Juan Carlos Lopez de la Calle recently started two wineries in the regions of Alicante and Navarre. I have a hard time resisting the charm of the Artazu Garnacha Navarra, a delicious wine made entirely with grenache.  At just over $16, you can buy this bottle with your eyes closed.

Torres Gran Sangre de Toro Reserva 2011 Artazuri Garnacha 2014 Pago de Cirsus Vendimia Sleccionada 2011 Comenge Verdejo 2014 Parés Baltà Cava Brut

Still in the Navarra region, just north of the city of Saragosse, the film maker Iñaki Núñez has built up a large winery where they produce, amongst other wines, the Pago de Cirsus Vendimia Seleccionada 2011, a unique blend of  tempranillo, syrah and merlot. This wine just flows.

On the white side of things, the grape verdejo, lent its name to the appellation Rueda Verdejo. The Comenge, while not especially exuberant, more than makes up for being less aromatic with its vibrant structure and unique taste profile which includes notes of green tea. One of the best verdejos on the market.

The historic winery Parés Baltà makes an excellent Cava Brut where consistency from year to year is worth a mention. Made with parellada, maccabeu and xarel-lo, organically grown, it’s an excellent sparkling wine which is always crisp, full of ripe fruit and with an incomparable freshness.

Marc Chapleau’s picks

It’s difficult to say no to a glass of good sparkling wine. One of the better inexpensive wines available, made with 70% chardonnay, is the Crémant de Limoux 2013 Antech. While the price just went up to $20.55, it’s worth putting down the extra 55 cents for a wine that shows such freshness, generosity and with a certain elegance for an inexpensive sparkling.

Another sparkling which is equally honest, from Italy this time, is the Prosecco Santi Nello. While it shows a certain sweetness, as do many Proseccos these days, the acidity is solid enough to keep the wine refreshing.

Antech Cuvée Expression Brut Crémant de Limoux 2013 Santi Nello Prosecco Cidrerie du Minot Crémant de Pomme Famille Chaudière Le Paradou Grenache 2013 Gaba do Xil Mencía 2013

Staying with sparkling, though not wine this time, the Crémant de pomme du Minot, at $11.95, is low alcohol (2.5%), sweet, very apply, and few drinks are this refreshing. Whether as an aperitif or at the end of a meal, this is a tasty palate cleanser.

Turning to red wines, I was impressed by the Le Paradou Grenache 2013.  Very “grenache” with its aromas of pastry, a hint of leather and a slight bitterness on the finish. Nothing complicated but very “ok” for the price. As well, and this wine has been mentioned a number of times on the site, the  Spanish Mencia Gaba do Xil 2013, at $18.45, shows charming fruit with a spiced finish that harkens aromas of oak, even though the wine never saw the inside of a barrel.

Remy Charest’s Selections

For my October selections, I am going to combine the themes of La Grande Dégustation de Montréal with winners taken from the World Wine Awards of Canada, whose results were recently announced.

World Wine Awards of Canada

To start, it’s always worthwhile to remember that if Spain is home to such prestigious wineries like  Vega Sicilia, Lopez de Heredia and Pingus, the country’s wineries are equally capable of producing super wines at very inexpensive prices. This is just as much of a feat. The Garnacha Castillo de Montseran, at just over $10, offers up ample pleasure with great simplicity, so much so that it won a gold medal at the awards.

Aside from grenache, tempranillo is another important grape indigenous to Spain. A wonderful expression of the grape, at a very reasonable price, is the  tempranillo Campo Viejo, a generous, varietally correct and well balanced wine.

Castillo de Monseran Garnacha 2013 Campo Viejo Rioja Tempranillo 2013 Yalumba Bush Vine Grenache 2014 Château du Grand Caumont 2013 Parés Baltà Cava Brut

Outside of Spain, grenache is a mainstay grape for many a winemaker and wine lover, either on its own or in a blend. From Australia, it’s difficult to have more pleasure and flavour than Yalumba Bush Vines. Full-bodied, yes, but far from heavy. From the Languedoc, where grenache is often at the top of the blend, there are many great inexpensive wines, such as the Château Grand Caumont. Their entry level cuvee is flavourful and balanced. Another wine, the cuvee Impatience, which is also under $20, is well worth a try as well.

And finally, how about a little sparkling? The Parès Balta has become a reference in the Cava category with its ample bubbles and exceptional freshness. A wine that is well priced enough for daily celebrations, you simply need to find a reason.

Cheers !

The complete list: 20 under $20

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Les vins du Sud-Ouest de la France

La Grande Dégustation de Montréal