20 Under $20 in BC : December 2015

Merriment & Cheer

‘Tis the season for holiday entertaining. Whether it’s trimming the tree, holiday parties or Christmas dinner, wine factors in often, and among this group, liberally. What better way to spread merriment than by sharing a bottle of wine with friends and family? We’ve selected 20 bottles that that will see you through the seasons’ festivities while leaving money for your holiday cheer.

~ TR

BC Critics

Anthony Gismondi

My goal was to cover all your holiday entertaining with six wines. I figure a half case of each should get you through the New Year and leave you some leftovers for the odd dinner or night off.

We begin with chardonnay – everyone loves it, especially from California. Our pick is the Kendall Jackson Vintners Reserve Chardonnay 2013 from California. It’s drier and fresher than you might think and capable of flying solo without food if needed.

You’ll need a cabernet but under $20 makes it challenging. A capable performer at a giveaway price is the El Esteco Don David Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve 2013 from Cafayate, Argentina.

Kendall Jackson Vintner's Reserve Chardonnay 2013El Esteco Don David Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve 2013Tabalí Reserva Pinot Noir 2013

Pinot noir will be required by those who prefer a softer red with gentle tannins, something you can sip all night. Enter Tabali Reserva Pinot Noir 2013 from Limari, Chile.

Of course, you should make sure you have a crowd-friendly sauvignon blanc on hand so I’m thinking Errazuriz Max Reserva Sauvignon Blanc 2014. It is all Aconcagua Costa fruit, quiet and fresh on the palate forsaking pungency for finesse. Great with holiday party snacks.

Errazuriz Max Reserva Sauvignon Blanc 2014Rio Madre Rioja 2012Château Pesquié Terrasses 2013

You need a geeky wine for the hipster crowd so I’m calling Rio Madre Rioja 2012. Rioja is not so geeky but when it’s made with 100 per cent graciano, it’s a bit off the beaten path. Round, soft and super ripe it slides down easily with party bites.

My under twenty red blend comes from the south of France where all the top values in wine reside. Château Pesquié Ventoux Les Terrasses 2013 is a 60/40 Rhone blend of grenache and syrah, or almost. There are traces of carignan, cinsault and mourvèdre. Expect a spicy black pepper nose with a fine dose of juicy, red fruits.

Rhys Pender MW

It’s that season again: friends and family drop in for a glass of wine and too much good food by the fire. It is important to have a selection of wine on hand to suit whatever situation may arise – be it charcuterie, sweets, oysters, etc. Here are my tips for five wines to get you through the holidays in festive style.

Bubbly – you must have good inexpensive bubbly on hand. Of course Champagne works best if your budget stretches that far but you don’t have to spend a lot to get decent bubbly. Cava is the best value and there are plenty of them on sale at the BCLDB this December. One of my favourites (unfortunately not on sale but worth it anyway) is the Parés Baltà Brut. It is crisp and zingy with some nice minerality. I’ve been slipping a lot of Cava into making some French 75s lately. So get some Gin and lemon juice and try out this delicious cocktail too.

Hopefully oysters are involved this holiday party period. While the Parés Baltà Brut will work as a good pairing, I would have on hand some crisp, mineral white that will go with oysters as well as many other little nibblies. I like the raciness of Muscadet and in BC the Château De La Gravelle Muscadet Sèvre & Maine 2013 is always a safe bet.

Parés Baltà Cava BrutChâteau De La Gravelle Muscadet Sèvre & Maine 2013Louis Jadot Beaujolais Villages Combes Aux Jacques 2013Clos Des Miran Visan 2013Taylor Fladgate Late Bottled Vintage 2010

I also like to have a light juicy red on hand. This kind of wine is perfect with charcuterie and other savoury snacks. Get some top quality iberico ham, copa, salami, some olives and the like and crack open a bottle of Beaujolais. Nothing can go wrong. A good value choice is the Jadot 2013 Beaujolais-Villages – Combe Aux Jacques. Light, juicy, fresh and very tasty.

A soft warming red is also always a good idea to have around the house, one that is delicious around the fire or with anything meaty. The Rhône Valley and the Languedoc are always the source of many interesting and affordable wines. The Moillard 2013 Clos des Miran Côtes du Rhône-Villages Visan is fresh and lively as well as soft and silky and will be a good all rounder.

In the cool, winter holiday season it also seems like the perfect time to drink Port. There is plenty of great value Port out there, particularly in the Late Bottled Vintage category. The Taylor Fladgate LBV will be the perfect match to Christmas pudding as well as blue cheese and many of the baked goodies that appear at this time of year. You can get a half bottle for under $15 or spring for a larger version for under $25.

Treve Ring

So much joy to the world and decking of halls goes on this month, and much of it last minute. It’s best to stock up in advance so you can be prepared. With these tasty value wines, you can afford to pick up and stash a few. Maybe leave one out for Santa…

Of course, fizz. Always fizz. It wouldn’t be the holidays – or any day at the Trevehouse ending in ‘Y’ without it. Prosecco is certainly in its zenith right now, so it would well suit you to have a crisp, elegant and lively example like Vaporetto Prosecco Brut NV chilled and on hand at all times.

So impressed by the 2014 Tinhorn Creek Gewürztraminer. Always a strength of the winery, but the latest vintage has everything dialed in – especially the concentration of the 20 year old vines.

Vaporetto Prosecco BrutTinhorn Creek Gewurztraminer 2014Quails' Gate Chardonnay 2014Fontanafredda Gavi Di Gavi 2014

Always a smart move to have some chardonnay on hand, especially when its as star bright and food friendly as the Quails’ Gate Chardonnay 2014. The juicy, medium bodied and lifted with bright lemon zest acidity – your new house local.

The classic Fontanafredda Gavi Di Gavi 2014 is as current and delicious now as it ever was. Almonds, herbed honey, citrus and cracked stone aromas lead through to a salty, snappy finish. Shellfish, anyone?

Okanagan Crush Pad’s Narrative line is meant to be pure, fresh, seriously quaffable wines that reflect the Okanagan – all at an affordable price. This current twinset of Narratives certainly reflect that credo, with the 2014 Red a juicy syrah and gamay blend and the 2014 White a fresh, floral blend of chardonnay, sauvignon blanc, gewürztraminer and pinot gris.

No matter if you’re doing turkey, chicken, ham or salmon for Christmas dinner, a light, juicy, bright red will cover off all. I urge you to #GoGamayGo, with a lovely Cru Beaujolais like Domaine Lathuiliere Pisse Vieille Brouilly 2012. 50 year old vines, sustainably raised, precise and stony and structured – for this price?! Holiday miracle (though buy enough to drink year round).

Okanagan Crush Pad Narrative Red 2014Okanagan Crush Pad Narrative White 2014Domaine Lathuiliere Pisse Vieille Brouilly 2012Undurraga Sibaris Carmenere Reserva 2013Amalaya Vino Tinto De Altura 2013

When you’re home for a warming beef or root veg stew, reach for a bottle of the equally warming and rustic Undurraga Sibaris Carmenere Reserva Especial 2013, a full-bodied earth and tobacco laden red from Chile’s Colchagua Valley that will stand up to hearty dishes.

For a full bodied red in a more precise, perfumed style, hop across the Andes to Argentina’s high desert and the 2000m high vineyards of Amalaya Vino Tinto de Altura 2013. Malbec, cabernet sauvignon and syrah has never shown so concentrated – and lifted – at once. Suitable for beef tenderloin or lamb.


WineAlign in BC

In addition to our popular 20 Under $20 shopping guide, we publish the monthly Critics’ Picks report and include the wines across any price point and channel that excite us each month, the BC Wine Report, a look at all things in the BC Wine Industry, as well as Treve’s Travels,  a periodic trip to the world’s wine regions. Lastly, Anthony Gismondi closes out each month with his Final Blend column – an expert insight into wine culture and trends, honed by more than 25 years experience as an influential and global critic.

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