20 under $20 – November 2018

Monthly picks from our Quebec Critic Team

Whether it rains or snows, or Trump remains in office or not, we continue to taste. And not without you in mind, of course. So here it is, our selection of the best 20 wines under $20 that we discovered over the last month. Here’s to your collective health!

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

Bill’s Selections

I managed to escape our first taste of cooler temps by escaping to the southern Rhône, and specifically the Costières de Nimes, Ventoux and the Côte du Luberon. Aside from the 25C temperature and managing to eat a forest full of truffle, I tasted some great wines.

Much of the appellations are dedicated to red wine. But while they are technically a part of the Rhône, they are unique. One of my favourites is the Costières de Nîmes, Mas de Bressandes. Richly fruited with suave texture and a spicy finish. From the Ventoux, it’s hard to look past the Vieille Ferme, especially for the price. Typical of the Ventoux, it shows fruit that made me think of blackberry jube-jubes, though without the sugar. Floral, spicy, a great deal for the price. If you want a touch more torque, then the Chateau Pesquié, cuvée prestige, will definitely satisfy.

But all is not red so white wine fans, there’s something for you as well. The Luberon winemakers are very proud of their whites, and they are tasty. Roussanne, Clairette, grenache blanc and other varieties are grown. A super example is the 2017 Grand Marrenon. Richly textured but with a nicely defined minerality, this will go well with any richer seafood dish, or white meat.

For a bargain white, try a wine from the Nîmes, the newly listed Buti Nages Blanc. The rosé is killer, and the white is equally as interesting, and tasty for the price. Like all Rhône wines, these are whites of texture, but here you also get fresh fruit notes of apricot and peach and a touch of spice on the finish.

Mas Des Bressades Cuvée Tradition 2016 La Vieille Ferme Red 2017 Château Pesquié 2016 Marrenon Luberon Grand Marrenon 2017 Buti Nages Blanc 2017

Marc’s Choices

Vignerons De Buxy Buissonnier Montagny 2015 – Very good white Burgundy from the lesser-known appellation of Montagny, vinified and aged in stainless. Very reminiscent of a fine Chablis with its purity of fruit and freshness but with a slightly richer texture, just a hint of fat around the acidic core. At under $20 it’s a very good deal.

Sumarroca Tuvi 2016 – Tasty blend of  xarel-lo (50 %) and gewurztraminer (30 %), and equal parts of riesling and viognier making up the balance. The wine is very aromatic, which is not surprising considering the grapes used in the blend. Floral, with notes of lime, nervous but dry on the finish. At under $17, you can’t go wrong with this wine.

Marcel Martin Saumur Chenin Blanc 2017 – At under $15, a very good quality wine for the price from the Loire Valley. Fresh and twitchy, but like all good chenin, there’s some texture despite having very little residual sugar. Excellent job, Marcel!

Olivier Rivière Rayos Uva Rioja 2017 – An excellent Rioja red that puts the axe on the fruit and florals, yet keeping with Rioja, shows its oak aging. A touch reductive at first, lots of freshness, a hint of tannin, and some good length. A touch over $20, but well-worth the extra cents !

Rectoral Do Umia Abellio 2016 – Solid Spanish white from the Rias Baixas, aged in stainless steel to preserve the fruit, mostly pear, and florals. Fresh and juicy, a mere 12.5% alcohol, with a finish that has nuanced meaty notes like marsanne-based whites from the Rhône. Very good for the price at under $16.

Vignerons De Buxy Buissonnier Montagny 2015 Sumarroca Tuvi 2016 Marcel Martin Saumur Chenin Blanc 2017 Rayos Uva Rioja 2017 Rectoral Do Umia Abellio 2016

Rémy’s Recommendations

With the days getting shorter and the temperatures getting into a very wintery mode, I found myself looking for energizing, mood-lifting wines, this month.

That’s exactly what I got with the 2016 Mâcon-Villages from Domaine Perraud, an organic producer from Burgundy who delivers a really solid chardonnay with lots of lift, texture and character. All that at a remarkably affordable price, for the region – and in general.

On a slightly rounder mode, the 2017 Old Vines Savatiano from Papagiannakos Estate shows all the good things that Greek winemakers can get out of their very own aromatic grape varieties. This delicious, distinctive wine could do well with a seafood chowder or grilled piece of salmon.

The Frescobaldi family’s Attems Pinot Grigio is a pretty satisfying version of what this ever-popular grape can do. It’s much better-defined than a lot of rather neutral and uninspiring versions on the market. Pretty generous and seductive, it’s a nicely comforting white for a snow day apéro, and it would also go well with an Italian-style white bean and herbs stew.

As for reds, I liked the vivacious character of the El Pedal 2016 Tempranillo, a great example of the newer wave of Rioja wines that focus on fruit and varietal character, rather than long aging and oak. While the traditional wines can be remarkable, even glorious at times, I really love this youthful, easy-drinking style.

I was also really happy to get the new vintage of Laurence and Rémi Dufaitre’s vin nouveau, which has been a favourite of mine for a few years, now. The 2018 has a bright and ripe fruity nose that speaks to the sunny and pleasant end of this last vintage for Beaujolais producers. A sunny wine that’ll do you good.

Domaine Perraud Mâcon Villages 2016 Papagiannakos Vieilles Vignes Savatiano 2017 Attems Pinot Grigio 2017 El Pedal De Hermanos 2016 Laurence Et Rémi Dufaitre Vin De France Nouveau 2018

Nadia Suggests

The Chara 2017 from Feudo Disisa, for example, is an insolia led blend that is solid and mineral, with a slight idoine finish which contrasts nicely with its abundant fruit and florals. Excellent!

Vermentino is a grape variety that can be rather neutral, but Banfi has managed to bring out its best. A very original take on the grape, dry and with an interesting texture. Pretty aromatics of lemon pith, bergamote and oregano. Finish is surprisingly lengthy.

The Riparosso 2016 from the winery Illuminati will satisfy if you are looking for red. The montepulciano grape is the star here, giving rich and generous fruit alongside the grape’s characteristic tannin grain. Lots of fun to be had if you are looking for a wine that leans towards the powerful.

Take advantage of the LGDMTL to say ‘hi’ to Tino Colla (Poderi Colla), and try his Pian Balbo 2016. It’s a delicious Dolcetto d’Alba, a wine with a lighter profile with a juicy and fruity attack but with the grape’s typical rich tannins that leave your mouth feeling fresh and invigorated. The perfect wine for a pasta with confit de tomates cerises.

Finally, no visit to La Grande Dégustation is complete without bubbles. And while you are going there, why not drink organic in the company of Joan Cusiné, owner of Parés Baltà in Spain’s Catalogne. His Cava Brut is an inexpensive and excellent example of this Spanish classic.

Feudo Disisa Chara 2017 Banfi La Pettegola Vermentino 2017 Illuminati Riparosso Montepulciano D'abruzzo 2016  Poderi Colla Pian Balbo Dolcetto D'alba 2016 Parés Baltà Cava Brut


The complete list: 20 under $20

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Run Riot Pinot Noir 2015