20 under $20 for February 2017

Monthly picks from our Quebec Critic Team

While there are no lack of lists out there, few are welcomed with such brio as this one. It is our most read email, where the four Chacun Son Vin critics each offer up our 5 favourite under $20 wines for you to try. So once again, and if you are lacking a little cash and still thirsty? No problem! Here’s our February 20 under $20.

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

Bill’s selections

Let’s start with two whites that are not usually found on people’s shopping lists, but for different reasons. The fashion these days are refreshing whites like sauvignon blanc, but what if you are needing a richer white, let’s say for scallops, or white meats? I was shocked how good, and inexpensive, was Paul Mas’ grenache de grenache.

If you are looking for something completely different, how about a Slovenian wine? The 2015 Dveri Pax is a furmint and riesling blend that is reminiscent of a Muscadet, but with more evocative aromatics.

Paul Mas Réserve Origines Grenache de Grenache 2015Dveri Pax Janez 2015La Rosa La Capitana Carménere 2014Palacios Remondo La Montesa 2013Marquis de Bordeaux 2012

For my February reds, I really liked the 2014 Carmanere from Vine La Rosa. A big bravo for this ripe but very finessed version of Chile’s signature grape, and ideal for a steak. Turning towards Spain, I was really impressed by the 2013 Palacios Remondo La Montesa. This is a beautiful grenache-based Rioja that shows exceptional complexity and class for an under $20 wine.

To wrap  up, I’ll go super classic and a well-made Bordeaux that represents a more humble side of this sometimes way overpriced region. The 2012 Marquis de Bordeaux offers up great restraint, with fresh fruit, a hint of oak and with some firm tannin that makes it a perfect pairing with duck or a bavette.

Rémy’s picks

Recent price cuts at the SAQ are a boon for this month’s shopping guide as the number of wines that “fit the bill” has grown a fair bit. The number of wines in the $10 range has grown significantly as well, and that bracket yields some really pleasant tipples, like the Coelus, a charming little Tempranillo from Rioja made through carbonic maceration.

My other selections  are in the $15 to 20$ range, which yields a number of wines showing lots of personality and complexity. Case and point, the surprising 2015 Comenge Verdejo, a fresh, energetic and pleasantly saline white from Rueda in Spain, as well as the Teliani Valley Saperavi, where the 2015 vintage shows some chunky tannins and nice fruit. Both distinctive wines worth checking out.

Coelus Rioja 2015Comenge Verdejo 2015Teliani Valley Saperavi 2015Badenhorst Secateurs Chenin Blanc 2016A A Badenhorst The Drifter Cinsault 2016

South Africa keeps delivering excellent quality-price ratios, which has been fueling their growing popularity. Colorful vigneron Adi Badenhorst keeps delivering delicious examples of this, including the Sécateurs chenin blanc, particularly seductive with the 2016 vintage, and now selling thousands of cases per year. His Drifter Cinsault, also from the 2016 vintage, could likely meet the same happy fate, with its easy-drinking, bright profile.

Marc’s mix

It’s all Spain and all Rioja for me this month after a mega-tasting organized by the AQAVBS which is an organization which represents Quebec’s wine agencies.

Genoli Ijalba 2015 — Engagingly aromatic, with notes of tobacco and flowers. In the mouth, it’s nicely textured though with a good, driving acidity. Very good value at under $15.

Cune Vina Real Crianza 2015 — A red with great exuberance but well balanced, good power, with a slight bitterness on the finish that guarantees that it would be successful at the dinner table, with for example, chicken or other white meat.

Ijalba Genoli Viura 2015Vina Real Rioja Crianza 2012Dinastia Vivanco Seleccion De Familia Crianza 2012Marqués De Cáceres Excellens 2013Conde De Valdemar Inspiracion Valdemar 2011

Dinastia Vivanco 2012 — Not the most concentrated but with a certain elegance. This is a Rioja that shows decent power, a fair amount of oak and a mineral finish that evokes graphite and pencil shavings. Good freshness and no excess flesh.

Caceres Excellens Cuvée Especial 2013 — Rich and gourmand. A Rioja with ripe and generous fruit with a fair amount of oak. 

Inspiracion Tempranillo Valdemar 2011 — Engaging aromatics that evoke lead pencil and mushroom. Showing signs of evolution which adds some good complexity. Refreshing , with youthful vigour. At 6 years of age, a wine that is reaching its apogee.

Nadia proposes

The Carignan 2013, Vignes de plus de 100 ans  seems to me more open and even more alive than last vintage. A very typical wine from the Roussillon that seduces by its Mediterranean expression, its textural richness and complex aromatics. At under $20, a bargain.

In a similar register, but perhaps a touch less concentrated, the  Château La Tour de Béraud 2014  is the second label of  Château Mourgues du Grès in the Costières de Nîmes. Carignan, grenache and syrah; nothing overly complex but showing gorgeous fruit combined with exceptio nal drinkability. It just makes you want another, then another, glass.

Domaine Ferrer Ribière Les Centenaires 2013Château La Tour De Beraud 2014San Fabiano Calcinaia Casa Boschino 2014Henri Bourgeois Petit Bourgeois Sauvignon Blanc 2015Waimea Pinot Gris 2016

At an even more affordable price, the Casa Boschino 2014 from San Fabiano Calcinaia is a very good wine that’s tasty and ready to drink. Not overly concentrated, but that’s not what it’s  about. Rather, this is a straight-forward and juicy sangiovese, rounded off with a bit of cabernet and merlot. Like last vintage, an easy purchase.

For white wine fans, the Petit Bourgeois 2015  is a good example of a table wine, in the most noble sense of the term. Rather than focus on herbal aromatics, it offers up a riper and more sober expression of sauvignon blanc. Aromatic but not excessive, easy to drink and very charming.

In New Zealand’s  Nelson region, on the north island, the Bolitho family produces at their winery Waimea, a very good and inexpensive  Pinot Gris 2016 . Very straightforward and representative of the kiwi style which is closer to Alsatian pinot gris than Italy’s pinot grigio.

Cheers !

The complete list: 20 under $20

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Beringer Knights Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2014