20 under $20 – August 2018

Monthly picks from our Quebec Critic Team

So how about the weather this summer! Makes me want endless summer, or at least one that lasts a few months longer. It’s rejuvenating and whether you are doing renos or just taking it easy, spending some time drinking wine fits perfectly with the summer mood. As always, this list is proof that one need not spend a lot. Cheers folks, enjoy it while we got it.

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

Bill’s selections

I am going to start with something fizzy, the Framboise Rosé Cider from Coteau Rougemont. Low in alcohol, full of fruit, it’s the perfect afternoon elixir. And for you fans of Campari, it makes an excellent alternative to soda if you like Campari sodas.

Continuing on the pink-tinted aperitif theme, the Vieux Chateau d’Astros rosé is once again a great example of why Provence rosé is the model for rosé makers around the world. Light and delicate enough for an aperitif, but can work at the table nicely with lighter meals like tomato salads and gazpacho.

Coteau Rougemont Rose FramboiseVieux Château d'Astros 2017Perlage Terra Viva Pinot Grigio Delle Venezie 2017Leeuwenkuil Cinsault Swartland 2016Domaine Du Clos Des Fées Les Sorcières 2017

Speaking of light and fresh, the Pinot Grigio, Terra Viva is a jewel in a sea of mediocre pinot grigios. Dry, textured and full of fruit, it’s a delight to drink.

Finally, two reds for you. For those of you who appreciate the fruit, and want a red with fish, try the Cinsault from South Africa’s Leeuwenkuil. A brilliant example of this little know grape that works wonders in warmer growing areas. Richer, and more steak-friendly, the 2017 Sorcieres from Clos de Fees brings power without excess, loaded with dark fruits and with ripe, mouth coating tannin.

Marc suggests…

Domaine Paul Mas Vignes de Nicole 2017 — Good blended wine from the Languedoc that comprises sauvignon blanc, picpoul and viognier. Richly textured enough but remains fresh due to its acidity. Has a slight oak imprint as well. Very good value at under $15.

Domaine Paul Mas Belluguette Coteaux du Languedoc 2016 — As always , a consistently well-made white. Oaked, lots of fruit ,but with a structure that gives it the dry ,focussed finish you want from a white wine. Surprisingly aromatic, at under $20 definitely worth a try.

Domaines Paul Mas Vignes De Nicole 2017Château Paul Mas Belluguette 2016Borsao Bole 2015Henri Bourgeois Petit Bourgeois Sauvignon Blanc 2016Domaine Du Tariquet Marselan Rosé 2017

Borsao Bole Campo de Borja 2015 — A grenache/syrah blend from Spain that defines “gourmande” as it explodes with fruit, shows a balanced, yet pronounced oak note, and stays fresh despite the heft.  Very good, but it is a powerful, voluptuous wine.

Henri Bourgeois « Petit Bourgeois » 2016 — Nice sauvignon blanc from the Loire that’s bright and fruity, almost completely dry. The ideal wine or an aperitif accompanied by hors d’oeuvres to round it out a touch.

Domaine du Tariquet Marselan Rosé 2017 — A rosé from the Southwest of France that satisfies. Fruity, and not overly light, even substantial for a pink wine as it shows a decent texture. Has a cotton candy note upon opening alongside very ripe field fruit. Despite the richer texture, nicely dry on the finish.

Rémy’s Recommendations

This month, I’m starting the tour of value wines in Greece, with a really lovely moschofilero-dominated blend, Semeli’s Oreinos Helios. It’s a fresh and aromatic white that really made me happy. And just this once, I’ll throw in a beer from Greece that’s available in the SAQ : HellasPils, a fairly malted yet still refreshing blond beer that has a fair bit more stuffing than our light North American beers. Obviously, that’s way, way under the 20$ per bottle threshold, too!

Another white that I found refreshing, but more than just light and refreshing, is the Pointe d’Agrumes sauvignon blanc, a lovely Loire white that has mineral and citrusy notes (in accordance with its name). You might have to hunt it down a bit, but it’s really worth it.

Seméli Oreinos Helios White 2017Hellenic Breweries of Atalanti Pils HellasComplices de Loire Pointe d'Agrumes 2016

For the rosé lover, Le Régal from Vignoble du Loup Blanc is one of the most pleasant pink wines I’ve had this summer, with so much fruit and great energy. Thirst relief and depth.

Anybody for a red? The very young Marie-Gabrielle 2017 from Cazes is showing really well already, with a tannic structure that’s firm without being rough, and a really lovely mix of spices and red fruit. Cool it down in the fridge for half an hour, to face the summer heat, and you’ll enjoy it even more.

Le Loup Blanc Le Régal 2017Domaine Cazes Marie Gabrielle 2017G. Marquis Sauvignon Blanc The Red Line 2016

I’m going to add a sixth wine, right now, to point out the release of the full results from this year’s National Wine Awards of Canada. At barely $14 a bottle, The Red Line Sauvignon Blanc from G Marquis, in Niagara won a gold medal, proof that great wine need not cost a fortune. You’ll have to go to Ontario to get some, but if you go through the results, you’ll also find some great Québec medal winners you should try…

Nadia’s selections

Last week, I treated myself to a trip to Spain in a glass. It’s maybe not as relaxing or exotic as actually going there but it’s a whole lot less expensive. If you would like to offer yourself a similar “trip,” these were my favourites.

Altolandon, Manchuela 2015, Doña Leo – Its rich, golden hue and exuberant aromatics might make you believe you are about to taste a sweet wine. But no! The wine is remarkably fresh, which is accentuated by a touch of CO2 which helps pump up the notes of peach, citrus zest, flowers and spices.

Comenge, Rueda Verdejo 2016 – More than simply a caricature of verdejo, which is the problem with many wines of Rueda, the Comenge offers up a wide spectrum of flavours and shows exemplary elegance. Green apple and fresh herbs on the nose, a rich texture and a long finish with accents of ripe pear, flowers and Oolong tea. A great choice for a sunny afternoon aperitif.

Altolandon Doña Leo Manchuela 2015Comenge Verdejo 2016Bodegas Moraza Tempranillo 2016Monasterio De Las Viñas Reserva Garnacha Tempranillo Cariñena 2012Azul Y Garanza Altamente Monastrell 2016

Moraza, Rioja 2016, Tempranillo – The example of “new wave” Rioja: no wood, but full of fruit. Very expressive and fresh nose, which bears the features of a partial carbonic maceration. The palate is juicy, structured and of good length. From organic farming. Very good value for money.

Monasterio de la Viñas, Cariñena Reserva 2012 – Made by the most important co-operative in the region of Cariñena, in the southwest of Rioja, the 2012 has a tannic structure that harkens images of pinot noir, albeit a touch more rustic. Aromas of leather, tobacco, dried fruits and forest floor are signs of a wine that has reached its maturity and is ready to drink, a rare opportunity at this price level. 

Altamente, Jumilla 2016, Monastrell – To accompany a bit of meat on the BBQ, try this new entry at the SAQ from Jumilla. The aromatics explode with red fruits, giving way to a more earthier register of spice and fresh, garden herbs. Just rich and chewy enough, a touch of gas adds a nice counterpoint of freshness. No oak, but no less wine because of it.



The complete list: 20 under $20

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National Wine Awards of Canada