20 under $20 – May 2018

Monthly picks from our Quebec Critic Team

We have turned the corner folks! The warmth is coming, the snow has melted, and people are starting to crank up those BBQs. Here is your monthly shopping list of excellent value wines chosen by our four critics. There are wines for all tastes, an embarrassment of riches, that won’t cost you all that much.

Our Quebec Critic Team: Bill, Marc, Nadia et Rémy

Bill’s selections

Warmer evenings mean that we can comfortably cook outside. I love the flavours that come off the grill, I equally love a glass of white or rosé while cooking. For a white, try the 2017 vintage of Rivière de Chêne’s Cuvee William. Yes, it’s from Quebec, but is an exemplary aperitif wine, loaded with tropical fruits and shows that hybrid grapes can produce an excellent wine.

I have already emptied a few bottles of pink wine this season, though mostly the wines I cellared from last year’s vintage – I am a big fan of rosé wines with a year of age. One of those wines is the Petale de Rose, and the 2016 is still on the shelves but the 2017’s arrive soon, so here’s your chance to try an aged pink! Great on its own and with a lighter meal.

Vignoble De La Rivière Du Chêne Cuvée William Blanc 2017Château La Tour De L'evêque Pétale De Rose Rosé 2017Viña Real Crianza 2014La Rosa La Capitana Carménere 2015Cline Viognier 2017

My first BBQ was a mixed grill of sausages. The wine? The 2014 Rioja Crianza from Viña Real was an ideal match. At under $16, it’s really hard to beat showing juicy fruit and some pretty florals, yet with a real presence in the mouth. If you are cooking a steak, and need a touch more torque, try the 2015 Carmenere from Vina La Rosa. A new order just stocked the shelves and it is ideal for a grilled steak.

Finally, lobster season is almost upon us. If you are doing a mixed seafood grill, especially with scallops and lobster, try the Cline Viognier. Textured and fruity, it’s an interesting take on a very hard-to-do-well grape.

Marc suggests…

Domaine St-Jacques Rosé 2017 – For the price, a very good Quebec-made rosé that is neither overly fruity or tart, but rather with a texture that coats the mouth. Thanks to, presumably, a gentle battonage of the cuve. Nuanced aromas of barley sugar but its dry with under 2 grams of residual sugar. Good work !

Jean-Claude Mas Les Faïsses Languedoc 2016 –  At just under $20, a solid Languedoc red made from a blend of grenache and syrah, with noticeable oak and an exuberant fruitiness. Nothing complicated, but drinks very well, especially if you appreciate what oak brings to a wine.

Domaine St Jacques Rosé St Jacques 2017Jean Claude Mas Les Faïsses 2016Anwilka Petit Frère 2015Château Rouquette Sur Mer Cuvée Arpège 2016Villa Wolf Pinot Noir 2015

Anwilka Petit Frère 2015 – This South African blend of syrah and cabernet sauvignon, with a small proportion of petit verdot, is as convincing as ever. It shows some power, with finely layered tannins and a finish that refreshes.

Château Rouquette Sur Mer La Clape Cuvée Arpège 2016 – Very good southern French white based on two notable southern grapes, bourboulenc and roussane. Powerful, generous and with an acidic spine. For the table.

Villa Wolf Pinot Noir Pfalz 2015 – A German pinot noir that manages to check all the boxes despite its 6 grams of residual sugar, a balance they are best known for achieving with their white wines. The grape typicity is there and for a very reasonable price. Try it with pizza, sausages or even a grilled salmon.

Rémy’s Recommendations

“That rosé is really good. How much is it?

– I think it’s 15 or 16 bucks. Hang on, I’ll check… $11.45? Wow!”

That pretty much sums up my thoughts about the Cademusa Terre Siciliane Rosé, an energetic yet generous blend of nero d’avola and syrah. A really great deal.

Cademusa Terre Siciliane RoséDomaine De La Charmoise Gamay 2016Domaine De La Charmoise Sauvignon Blanc 2016Santa Lucia Ansonica Maremma Toscana 2016La Guita

In other news, I had the pleasure of meeting Jean-Sébastien Marionnet, this week, as he was visiting Québec to promote the wines of his family estate, Henry Marionnet. The wines are always remarkably good and simply made (with some no-sulfite bottlings), with great quality-price-ratios in cuvées like the Domaine de la Charmoise Gamay, with lovely, juicy fruit and a nice peppery touch that is typical of Loire gamay. You should also be on the lookout for the Domaine de la Charmoise Sauvignon Blanc, which shows a really harmonious and fun expression of the variety: it’s getting a bit rare, right now, but comes back pretty regularly.

For a fun trip off the beaten path, get the 2016 Santa Lucia Ansonica, from the Maremma region of Tuscany. It’s a generous, fleshy, fairly complex and really delicious white, made from a rare Mediterranean grape that really deserves your attention.

Finally, as the sunnier and warmer days are returning, try having a cold glass of manzanilla with charcuterie, olives or a little bit of fish terrine. It’s such a pleasure, with the saline and bright character of that light type of sherry. The La Guita Manzanilla is a particularly fine example of the style, with great finesse, at a really accessible price.

Nadia’s selections

On May 4th and 5th, the SAQ is donating $1 to the Banques alimentaires du Québec for every bottle of white wine that is purchased, both on-line and in the stores. Here are five white wine suggestions that will satisfy both your thirst for a good deal, as well as those less fortunate across the province.

A stones throw from Barcelona, the Penedès region is best known for the production of Cava, Spain’s exceptional and exceptionally well-priced sparkling wine. But many wineries, such as  Sumarroca, also produce dry table wines. The Tuvi 2016 offers up a wonderfully focused and floral wine with tropical fruit notes alongside the nervy and refreshing character of the xarello grape.

Sumarroca Tuvi 2016Ijalba Genoli Viura 2017Château De Ripaille Vin De Savoie Ripaille 2017Colle Massari Melacce 2016Marcel Cabelier Chardonnay Vieilles Vignes 2013

Staying in Spain, a wine that is often found in this newsletter, Ijalba’s Genoli 2017, Rioja is a dry yet textured white punctuated by citrus notes. The Château De Ripaille 2017, a wine produced in France’s Savoie region is equally fresh, light and invigorates you like the mountain air where the grapes are grown. Both of these wines are classics, and for good reason. 

A great wine for either the table or as an aperitif, the salinity of the Vermentino 2016 ColleMassari Montecucco will satisfy, especially with pasta with Matane shrimp, dressed with olive oil and lemon. It’s a great new addition to the SAQ repertory.

And to finish up my monthly suggestions, a white that shows both character and flavour from the Côtes du Jura: the Chardonnay 2013 Vieilles Vignes from Marcel Cabelier. From the first swirl in your glass, you will be taken back by the intensity. The mouth is equally imposing with its buttery richness, with notes of caramel and browning apples which suggest a certain evolution in the wine. It’s an excellent choice for those of you looking for a punchy wine under $20.


The complete list: 20 under $20

Editors Note: You can find complete critic reviews by clicking on any of the highlighted wine names, bottle images or links. Paid subscribers to Chacun son vin see all critics reviews immediately. Non-paid members wait 30 days to see new reviews. Premium membership has its privileges; like first access to great wines!


La Tournée du Littoral 2018 – Accès Grand public