20 under $20 – June 2018

Monthly picks from our Quebec Critic Team

Once again an almost embarrassment of riches of exceptional wines in all colours and styles, and all under $20! It’s summer folks, and here’s your 20 under $20 to help celebrate.

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

Bill’s selections

I was going to suggest a few rosés to get the ball rolling but my colleagues have offered up enough options so I will go directly to the your BBQ dinners. But I would be remiss not to suggest a white as an aperitif while you wait for the coals to heat up. So how about a Canadian riesling? The 2015 Cave Spring is a great example of why the Niagara is one of the world leaders in the $15-$25 riesling category. Just off-dry, lots of fruit and with an ability to age for many years.

If I am cooking chicken or another white meat, I want a wine that has some good fruit, but not overly tannic. Syrah is a great choice and the Porcupine Ridge syrah is one of my favourites under $20. Just a hint of olive, floral aromatics and loaded with fruit.

Cave Spring Riesling 2015Porcupine Ridge Syrah 2017Yalumba The Strapper GSM 2016Dourosa Douro 2015Bodegas Castaño Monastrell 2016

If you are cooking steak, then here are two reds with some good torque. At $20, the Strapper from Yalumba is a classic GSM blend that shows some great body and tannin, while not being caricatural. Think of it as a Cote du Rhone with a little extra ripeness. If you want to stay in Europe, then the 2015 Dourosa is an excellent Portuguese red that will satisfy the “big wine” lover. Lots of tannin but the fruit is great! Bring on the T-bone!

If you are having a party and need a bunch of wines and don’t want to spend a lot, then go to SAQ Depot and pick up the Monastrell from Castano. A true crowd pleaser that will pair nicely with white meats and meat brochettes. And at under $13, easy on the wallet.

Marc suggests…

I’m going 100% rosé this month, a style of wine that seems never to cease to improve. It’s no longer just a wine for when you can’t decide between a white and a red. Great rose has its own personality and reason to find itself on your dinner table.

Château de Nages Buti Nages Costières de Nîmes 2017 – From the start, shows  lots of character with meatier notes alongside some florals. The mouth matches, very nervous, dry, and not lacking any fruit. Very good value for money.

Buti Nages Vin Rosé 2017Château De Nages Vieilles Vignes Rosé 2017Vieux Château d'Astros 2017Château La Lieue Coteaux Varois en Provence 2017Le Loup Blanc Le Régal 2017

Château de Nages Vieilles Vignes 2017 – Excellent organic rosé from the Rhône, not far from the Languedoc (Nîmes). Shows good depth and concentration alongside that twitchiness brought on by the acidity.

Château d’Astros Vieux Château d’Astros Côtes de Provence 2017 –  Provence is the leader when it comes to  rosé, and the Vieux Château d’Astros is proof of why. Textured without losing that refreshing acidity, delicate with a subtle mineral finish.

Château La Lieue Coteaux Varois en Provence 2017 – Impeccable,  as we are accustomed to seeing from this organic winery in Provence. Elegant and restrained without sacrificing the fruit.

Vignoble du Loup Blanc Le Régal 2017 – A very, very well-done Languedoc rosé that shows good structure with everything you may expect from a pink wine. Texture, acidity and lots of character.

Rémy’s Recommendations

You can drink rosé all year of course, but  it’s most enjoyable when the sun comes out. The beauty is that you can find a lot of different styles for relatively cheap. La Vieille Ferme 2017 Rosé, a recent addition to the SAQ catalogue from a well-established brand, is a classic example of a gulpable, light, refreshing rosés with pretty fruit, thanks to a healthy dose of cinsault in the blend. Coteau Rougemont’s Versant Rosé, on the other hand, is a surprising blend of white and red grapes that is full-throttle, very aromatic, and made for summer meals cooked on the barbecue.

Chardonnay is a classic for all seasons, but the energetic and super well balanced 2015 Chardonnay from Tawse, from Niagara, is ideal for summer drinking – and a great deal at $19.95. Lots of complexity, length and presence. More, please!

La Vieille Ferme Rosé 2017Coteau Rougemont Le Versant Rosé 2017Tawse Chardonnay 2015Mouton Cadet Blanc 2016Mouton Cadet Rouge 2015

Speaking of classics, I had a really instructive chat with one of the oenologists who make Mouton Cadet, the biggest Bordeaux brand with some 12 million bottles of red (mostly), white and rosé that are sold in 150 countries. The team from Baron Philippe de Rothschild works hand in hand with some 453 growers all over Bordeaux, in both the vineyard and the cellar, to harvest and vinify grapes that fit the profile they are aiming for. I find the results very convincing, especially considering the $15 price. You’d be hard pressed to find a better representation of Bordeaux blanc than the well-balanced and finely aromatic 2016 Mouton Cadet Blanc. The 2015 Mouton Cadet red, focuses largely on the fruity disposition of merlot, in a wine that is  fresh and shows just enough tannin. Two well-defined representations of Bordeaux wines that are worth checking out.

Nadia’s selections

June: the month of my first swim in the lake and the end of the school year for others, impromptu BBQ get togethers and the beginning of the festival season. My suggestions are as varied as your choice of activity.

Sometimes wine surprises, and in a good way. I could have easily doubted the Villa Antinori Bianco 2016, but I really liked its vinous quality and freshness, as well as its signature Italian aromatics of dried herbs. Perfect for an aperitif.Even more refreshing, the Roditis 2017 Patras from Domaine Tetramythos is a model of acidity with an iodine note on the finish that drives you back for more. Close your eyes and you can feel the ocean air.

Marchesi Antinori Villa Antinori 2016Domaine Tetramythos Roditis 2017Tselepos Classique Mantinia Moschofilero 2017Tetramythos Kalavryta 2016Lustau Manzanilla Papirusa Solera Reserva

The Mantinia Moschofilero from Yiannis Tselepos makes me want to cook up some zuchini flowers and tatziki. The aromatics are delicately perfumed, and the slight “perlance” in the mouth brings out even more freshness.

For you gamay lovers,  you will love the supple texture and vitality of the Noir de Kalavryta 2016, another wine from Domaine Tetramythos, whose vineyards are on Mont Helmos in the Péloponnèse. Organically-grown, thew wine is overflowing with ripe fruit, juicy and fresh. At under $18, it’s a great value as well.

To finish, if you want to try something a little different, and have a little taste of Andalousia, pick up a half-bottle of Lustau’s Papirusa. Xeres is the perfect drink to hang out on your terrace in the sunshine. A Fino is the definition of dry, and this Manzanilla is even more delicate. It’s a pure delight with salty, roasted almonds and olives.



The complete list: 20 under $20

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Matua Marlborough Pinot Noir