Monthly Picks from our West Coast Critic Team
It’s official. Summer is over. Well, ok, not officially. But really, come September and Labour Day and immediately I start thinking less about easy breezy whites and lakeshores and more about crunchy reds and sweaters. As we transition from a glorious summer in BC to what looks to be an abundant harvest, the BC team are starting the subtle shift into fall in the glass. And we want to help you drink better, for less. Our 20 under $20 wines are readily available in BC Liquor Stores and VQA stores across the province for your shopping convenience.
Cheers ~ Treve Ring
Always a good value, no matter the season, the Quails’ Gate Dry Riesling 2013 is light fresh and packed full of tension a perfect anecdote to creamy sauces. For those who like their riesling extreme.
Southern Italian reds are a great way to ease into fall. Don’t miss the La Casona de Castaño Old Vines Monastrell 2013; you are getting old vine monastrell made by the Castaño family at a giveaway price. Grilled lamb chops anyone?
More tasty red comes in the form of Santa Rita Cabernet Sauvignon Reserva 2011 with its blackcurrant, black olives flavours seemingly rubbed with Chilean ‘boldo’, the French equivalent of garrigue. Steak is the cure here.
Gabriel Meffre Plan de Dieu Côtes du Rhône Villages Saint Mapalis 2012 is an amazing 50/30/20 blend of grenache, mourvèdre and syrah from noted southern Rhone villages. Think more finesse than regular Cote du Rhone serve with turkey.
Finally, one doesn’t always reach for pinot blanc to excite the senses but the Blue Mountain Pinot Blanc 2013 is worth sipping for its refreshing citrus/green peach flavours. Let the fall begin.
A southern hemisphere round-up is my theme as I reflect nostalgically about two amazing trips that I took this time last year – one to South Africa’s Cape winelands, and the other to Australia and New Zealand. They were journeys of discovery and delight, as was a recent tour of Argentina. Common denominator in the antipodes? Great-value wines that combine generous fruit, clean lines and good stories.
Give this breezy white a try and join the chenin fan club. The Royal Old Vine Steen 2013 celebrates and preserves mature vineyards for only $14 bucks.
Nobilo Sauvignon Blanc 2013 is a ‘got-it-all’ savvy. Fresh and purposeful with the kind of focus that has sharpened over the last few vintages, it’s killer with crisp greens, goat’s cheese nuggets and pink grapefruit.
D’Arenberg’s 2013 The Hermit Crab impressed me with a happy balance of weight and herbal savour in this 65% viognier/35% marsanne blend that tastes dry and energetic. Here’s my pairing: a salad of heirloom tomatoes dressed with no more than torn basil leaves, Maldon salt, cracked pepper and tangy olive oil.
Crios Malbec 2013 presents a mouthful of expressive blueberry fruit to contrast with spicy, meaty grilled chorizo sausages, while Anderra Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 serves as a tasty reminder that Chile’s central valley churns out more than decent reds for a song.
Rhys Pender MW
Pinot grigio can be dilute, boring and it is hard to understand why it is so popular. Then you hit on one that is everything the variety should be, crisp, fresh and lively but with some drive and intensity. The Kris Pinot Grigio 2013 fits the bill nicely.
One of the benefits of being a pioneer in the wine business is that by the time you survive all the hardships of helping to create an industry, you are usually firmly established and debt free when it all settles down and you can go about making wine and often at a very competitive price. Gehringer Brothers always outperforms on their quality to price ratio and the 2013 Private Reserve Riesling is no exception and worth buying by the case.
The world is making an effort at making chardonnay fresher, crisper, lighter and juicier and California is no exception, even though it is hard in many of the warmer climate areas. When the vineyards are near the cool pacific coast they more naturally produce this modern style. Big boys Gallo have produced the well priced Edna Valley Chardonnay 2011 that is a nice example of what can be done.
Gewürztraminer, like riesling, is increasingly being taken more seriously in British Columbia with producers trying to make wines of character and intensity rather than just the simple fruity wines which, frankly, other countries can do better and cheaper. One increasingly serious gewürztraminer producer is CedarCreek and their 2013 is a good example of the fat and rich Alsatian style.
British Columbia can produce some decent value red wine, the second wine of Black Hills is the Cellar Hand range and the red in particular offers great value at around $20. The Punch Down Red 2012 is a good warming, solid wine for cooler fall evenings by the fire.
As dated as ‘don’t wear white after Labour Day’ is the credo that white wines should only be reserved for summer months.
California’s Bonterra Organic Chardonnay 2012 is a great example of a fall-worthy wine that will remind you of summer blossoms. This creamy style offers up a sweet green pea freshness and light floral blossoms.
Telmo Rodriquez Basa Blanco 2013 is a wine I’d gladly drink any day of the year, and even more so due to its amazing value. Verdejo, viura and sauvignon blanc from Spain’s DO Rueda come together seamlessly in this crisp citrus, herb and stone beauty.
There is never an incorrect time to drink bubbles. Especially when it’s lively, perfumed and citrus kissed, like Italy’s Bottega Nino Dei Poeti Prosecco.
As for reds to ward off early autumn’s chill, Thornhaven Estates Pinot Meunier 2012 is an excellent local choice. This rare solo example of pinot meunier, commonly found in blends, offers up perfumed raspberry and twine-scented spice.
For consistent value year after year, Miguel Torres Sangre de Toro 2012 is hard to beat with its savoury and bright blend of garnacha and carignan from Cataluña, Spain.
And that’s it for this month’s 20 under 20. Next up this month our Critic’s Picks at any price, and the announcement of the results of the WineAlign World Wine Awards of Canada. In the meantime, check out my article on last month’s International Pinot Noir Celebration in Oregon.
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Fall in the vineyards, photos courtesy of Treve Ring