20 under $20 for January 2017

Monthly picks from our Quebec Critic Team

Just another list? While there are no lack of lists out there, few are welcomed with such brio as this one. It is our most sought after list of suggestions, where the four Chacun Son Vin critics each offer up our five favourite under $20 wines for you to try. So it’s the end of the month once again, and if you are lacking a little cash and still thirsty? No problem! Here’s our first 20 under $20 for 2017.

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

Bill’s selections

I admit that when I drink a red wine, I rarely get too “big” or “bold.” I find those highly concentrated reds, often loaded with oak, are simply too powerful. I value drinkability and finesse over sheer power and a ton of flavour. When pairing with meats, the more fat on my plate, the more I will take a wine with grippier tannins. So here are some tried and true meat and wine pairings from this past month.

Pork roast with mustard, garlic and rosemary sauce? Try the 2015 Marius from Chapoutier. It’s a Vin de Pays, grenache and syrah blend that shows great fruit, moderate tannin and lots of wild herbs.

Roast chicken with St. Hubert sauce? Yes I admit that I’ll mix up a pouch of this sauce – I blame that on my kids. The 2014 Corbières, Château du Grand Caumont, with its exuberant fruit, does the trick at under $14.

Chapoutier Marius 2015 Château du Grand Caumont 2014 Illuminati Riparosso Montepulciano d'Abruzzo 2015 Lan Crianza 2012 Chartier Créateur d'Harmonies Fronsac 2012

Magret de Canard with wild berry sauce? The 2015 Montepulciano d’Abruzzo from Illuminati was perfect. Explosive fruit and enough tannin to deal with the duck fat.

Spicy beef Burritos. This is a classic at my house. Blade steak cooked for 6 hours, then I mix it with vegetables, tomatoes and “pirri pirri” sauce that lends a hint of chile spice and smoke. The easy drinking, but very interesting 2012 Rioja Crianza from Lan was an awesome pairing.

Roast beef with all the fixings. The king of all meat dishes, served with a mushroom sauce, Yorkshire pudding and roasted vegetables. You need some torque as the center cut can have some richness. Go classic here and nothing is more classic than Bordeaux. The 2012 Fronsac from Francois Chartier will more than adequately handle the task.

Nadia proposes

Château Eugénie, Cahors 2013 : Year after year, this malbec blended with 20% merlot charms you with its sultry texture and pretty aromatics that evoke violets. It’s a great example of a Cahors which can drunk in its youth, and even more satisfying if served around 15C.

Clos de la Briderie, Touraine Mesland 2014 : In 2014, this Écocert certified wine showed even more so the presence of the côt variety, otherwise known as malbec, in the blend. Great concentration of fruit, compact tannins and a lengthy mineral finish that makes you want another glass.

Domaine de la Charmoise, Gamay 2015, Touraine: Talking about this wine, Henry Marionnet’s father remarked that one good glass of wine makes you want a second. Well, Marionette and his son and his son Jean-Sébastien took that lesson to heart and produced yet again, a wine that calls you back again and again to refill your glass. The 2015 is fruity, peppery and at 12%, light in alcohol.

Château Eugénie 2013Clos de La Briderie Rouge 2014Domaine De La Charmoise Gamay 2015Ormarine Picpoul de Pinet Les Pins de Camille 2015Ken Forrester Petit Chenin Blanc 2016

Ormarine, Picpoul de Pinet 2015, Les Pins de Camille: If you can’t make it to the Mediterranean coast this January, you can console yourself with a glass of this delicious Picpoul which is grown on that same coast between Sète and Cap d’Agde. Dry, twitchy, lean and original, and all for only $14.

Ken Forrester, Chenin blanc 2016, Petit, Stellenbosch : Wether they are dry, off dry or sweet, the chenin blancs from Ken Forrester are always impeccable. Year after year, his “Petit” offers up a lively and focussed wine which honours this great grape variety of the Loire Valley. It’s ideal as an aperitif, or to accompany sushi or vegetable stir fries.

Marc’s mix

Félicité Pinot Noir Newton Johnson 2015 – A South-African pint noir that shows the grape’s nuanced colour, new-world styled with a subtle note of burnt rubber one so often finds in the wines of the country. That being said, some solid fruit and a can’t miss for under $20.

Albert Bichot Coteaux Bourguignons Pinot Noir Gamay 2014 – Shows just the faintest hint of volatile acidity at first sniff, with cherry and leather. The flavour is up front, easy, but with a finish that is nice and tight. At under $17, the real deal.

Pinot Noir Félicité Newton Jonhnson 2015Albert Bichot Coteaux Bourguignons 2014Villa Wolf Pinot Noir 2014Ogier Héritages Côtes Du Rhône 2015Fontanafredda Raimonda Barbera D'alba 2014

Dr. Loosen Villa Wolf Pinot Noir 2014 – Characteristic hint of volatile acid, followed by bright cherry. In the mouth, this german red is light with good acidity, yet still shows some depth. Very good value for the price.

Antoine Ogier Héritages Côtes du Rhône 2015  – Volume, freshness, lots of fruit with a satiny texture though not lacking at all in acidity. A bit of heat on the finish which is very characteristic of grenache, even though syrah plays an important role in the blend. Great value here for a classically styled Rhone.

Fontanafredda Raimonda Barbera-d’Alba 2014 – very convincing Barbera with its notes of kirsch and its tight structure. The finish is wonderfully fruity and with surprising length.

Rémy’s picks

In these early days of 2017, one way I’ve found to relax is to serve myself a regular little glass of sherry – more specifically, the Los Arcos Amontillado from Lustau. It’s impeccably balanced, with great length and presence, and a perfect match for hard cheeses or a bit of chicken in a creamy mushroom sauce (with a splash of the sherry). Try it also as an ingredient in bourbon or rye-based cocktails. Delicious and complex, it’s a real treat at that price.

Generally, our under-20$ selections are from very recent vintages: wines made to be sold and drunk young. Two of my January selections go against that general principle, showing many benefits from their six years and change of aging in barrel and bottle. First, the 2010 Faustino V Rioja Reserva, which shows great typicity, with nice fruit and substantial but well-integrated oak character. Lots of character, like Alain Brumont’s Tour Bouscassé, which shows how the tannins of the tannat grape become a lot friendlier when they have a few years to mellow.

Lustau Solera Reserva Dry Amontillado Los ArcosFaustino V Reserva 2010Brumont Tour Bouscassé Madiran 2010Ogier Héritages Côtes Du Rhône 2015Di Giovanna Nerello Mascalese 2014

Going on a well-beaten path, I’m happy to recommend, once again, the Héritages Côtes-du-Rhône from Ogier, which I’ve liked in previous vintages and which seems an even better deal (15$!) with the sunny 2015 harvest. On the road less traveled, head to Sicily and taste the Da Giovanna Nerello Mascalese, a south Italian variety that shows how warm climates can yield structured wines with a fair bit of freshness.

Cheers !

The complete list: 20 under $20

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Beringer Knights Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2014