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20 under $20 in British Columbia (July 2014)

Monthly Picks from our West Coast Critic Team

We’re well into summer now, and priorities have distinctively shifted into summer holiday mode. We’re still tasting as much as ever, though patios, beaches, campsites, parks, docks and boats play heavily on our choices now. As Ella so soulfully and rightfully crooned, it’s Summertime, and the livin’ is easy

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

BC Team Version 3

Anthony Gismondi

It’s amazing how a few warm days can transform a lightweight, fruity wine into a quenching patio favourite that has everybody asking to see the label. Remember light and fruity doesn’t have to mean flavourless and flabby nor should the wine possess a finish that lasts longer than a weekend round of golf.

Case in point, Chateau Ste. Michelle Riesling 2012 from Washington’s Columbia Valley. Or, from further south, the simple, juicy and off-dry Fetzer Quartz Winemaker’s Favourite White Blend 2012. Chill them down, find a deck chair and away you go.

Equally refreshing – and local – is Grant Stanley’s 50th Parallel Estate Riesling 2013 from British Columbia Lake Country with its bright acidity and tension. Think grilled pork.

Chateau Ste. Michelle Riesling 2012 Fetzer Quartz Winemaker's Favourite White Blend 2012 50th Parallel Riesling 2013 Bold Vine Old Vine Zinfandel 2012 Château Peyros Tannat Cabernet 2009

Barbecue freaks often reach for red, and this juicy example from California will match many al fresco meals. Bold Vine Old Vine Zinfandel 2012 is a catchy, friendly fresh, easy-sipping style for lighter grilled dishes, plus tapas, cheese and pizzas.

Finally, it’s fun to explore new grapes, blends and region in the summer and  Chateau Peyros Madiran Tannat Cabernet Franc 2009 qualifies on all counts.

This very interesting tannat /cabernet franc blend from southwest France’s Madiran region will expand your wine knowledge, and your big meaty BBQ pairing options.

DJ Kearney

White wines from the Southern Hemisphere typically bring a trio of satisfying factors:  generous fruit, lush texture and killer value. I’ve chosen five bottles from south of the equator that are lovely summertime wines for relaxed outdoor dinners.

Giesen Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2013 brings brisk and cheeky to a new level, with tropical notes, grassy freshness and dusty minerals for a tossed salad of local goat’s cheese, grapes, kiwi and baby greens. Use the wine in the vinaigrette as the acid for complete harmony.

South Africa’s Cape winelands have embraced sauvignon blanc in a bearhug, and are sending lovely trim wines to market, like the Porcupine Ridge Sauvignon Blanc 2013. Savoury with nettles and crunchy gooseberries, it’s a dry and earthy companion for chilled cucumber soup.

Giesen Wine Estate Sauvignon Blanc 2013 Porcupine Ridge Sauvignon Blanc 2013 Miss Molly By Moreson Hoity Toity Chenin Blanc 2012 Yalumba The Y Series Viognier 2012 Concha Y Toro Marques De Casa Concha Chardonnay 2012

Chenin Blanc is the Cape’s most planted white grape and in Miss Molly Hoity Toity 2012, a jolt of perfumed viognier romps through the blend.  Lemony fresh with a peachy finish, it’s built for simple grilled chicken skewers.

Yalumba makes a wide range of wonderful wines, and led the charge planting Viognier in Oz.  Organic, floral and gorgeous, the Yalumba Y Series Viognier 2012 is for grilled salmon and stonefruit salsa.

Finally, a Chilean looker that is under $20 by just a penny, but it over-delivers even at this price.  Stately and rich, I want Concha Y Toro Marques de Casa Concha Chardonnay 2012 with steamed Dungeness crab and Meyer Lemon butter.

Rhys Pender MW

Summer is finally here and in a dramatic fashion. At the time of writing this, temperatures in the Okanagan and Similkameen Valleys were in the high 30s. The body wants to slow down, shade and water are sought after and crisp, dry and refreshing wines are in order. Fortunately there are many great wines that have the perfect level of refreshment.

My first recommendation this month is not a grape variety and place that we often associate and maybe that is why the Nederburg The Winemaster’s Reserve Riesling 2012 is such a great deal at $10 (BC)!

Summer also means dry rosé time. Few wines are as well suited to lounging in the shade on a hot day than very cold, light pink rosé from the south of France. The Domaine Saint Ferréol Les Vaunières 2013 and the Bieler Père et Fils 2013  are both perfect.

Nederburg The Winemaster's Reserve Riesling 2012 Domiane St Ferreol Les Vaunieres 2013 Bieler Père & Fils Sabine Rosé 2013Baldes & Fils Château Labrande 2010 Trapiche Pure Malbec 2012

Red wine may also be necessary at this time of the year and particularly later in the evening when it finally cools off and you want to grill big chunks of red meat. A good red wine for this must have character but not be overly boozy or heavily laden with oak. And don’t be afraid to chill them down in the fridge for 30 minutes to an hour. The Château Labrande 2010 Cahors Malbec is a good choice.

Another important red wine that is bucking a lot of the trends of sweetness and chocolatey oak is the Trapiche 2012 Pure Malbec from the cool Uco Valley part of Argentina’s Mendoza. The vineyard is managed to slow ripening and the grapes are picked a little earlier to avoid jamminess. The wine then sees no oak staying fresh, juicy and lively. And it works.

Treve Ring

Vive le Juillet! Tour de France and this week’s Bastille Day celebrations have me in a distinctively French frame of mind. While many people – erroneously – consider French wines to be expensive and intimidating, I argue that the amazing diversity of regions, styles, grapes – and price points – makes France a wine buyers (and drinker’s) delight.

Everyone loves bubbles, especially when they are pink, fresh, fruity, easy and $16. The Loire Valley’s Remy Pannier Royal de Neuville Rose is a gentle, off-dry example that matches summer’s rosy sunset.

If you prefer your pinks dry, pick up the Chateau de Brigue Côtes de Provence Protégée Rose 2013, a crisp and refined syrah and cinsault blend that will fit patio sipping or your albacore tuna niçoise.

Tour de France riders spent a couple of days in the Vosges mountains, undoubtedly satisfied to slake their thirsts with juicy, fruity, round whites like Kuhlmann Platz Gewurztraminer 2012.

Remy Pannier Royal De Neuville Petillant RoseChateau De Brigue Rose 2013Kuhlmann Platz GewurztraminerCave De Rasteau La Domelière Rasteau 2010 Cote Mas Languedoc Reserve 2012

A GSM blend is always a good bet for summertime suppers, so two must be doubly as good, right? True when we’re talking about Cave de Rasteau La Domelière 2010 from AC Rasteau. This savoury grenache, syrah, mouvedre blend is from one of the oldest wineries in the Rhone valley and demonstrates its pedigree now with a few years patina.

In a younger, fresher vein is the Cote Mas Languedoc Reserve 2012, from Languedoc AC. Here, Grenache, syrah and mouvedre are joined by the charismatic and secretive carignan, resulting in a savoury and garrigue-imbued herbal cherry wonder, ideal for dusky nights al fresco.

Keep cool out there BC – we’ll be back next month to satisfy your wallets and your palates with a special edition 20 Under $20 focused on The World Wine Awards of Canada.

20 Under $20 in British Columbia

Editors Note: You can find complete critic reviews by clicking on any of the highlighted wine names, bottle images or links. Premium subscribers to WineAlign see all critics reviews immediately. Non-paid members wait 30 days to see newly posted reviews. Membership has its privileges; like first access to great wines!


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Top 20 under $20 in BC (June 2014)

It’s Father’s Day this month (June 15 – mark your calendars kids), and no matter your father’s personal tastes, he wants you to save your pennies. This month’s 20 Under $20 selections will satisfy both dad’s thriftiness, and palate. In addition, June kicks off the World Cup, welcomes the official start to summer, sends out eager graduates into the world and blooms with rosé season – all great reasons to crack a cap or pop the cork on one of these great values this month. 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

BC Team Version 3

Anthony Gismondi

Summer is a great time to move off your standard wines picks and spread your tasting wings a bit. Gazela Vinho Verde is Portuguese classic. At 9% alcohol and crazy fresh citrus note sit will slay the heat.

On a similar theme the Trivento Amado Sur Torrontés Viognier 2012 will enliven any patio party. Think chicken and seafood salads all summer or sip solo.

My last white pick is a ridiculous value chardonnay Finca Los Primos Chardonnay 2013 from Argentina. Stylish beyond its price.

Gazela Vinho VerdeTrivento Amado Sur Torrontes Viognier 2012Finca Los Primos Chardonnay 2012Gayda Pays D'oc Grenache 2011Quarisa Caravan Petite Sirah 2012

 

Still with out-of-doors dining and barbecue a sip of Gayda Grenache 2011 and its juicy fruit and spice will transport you to the south of France for the evening.

Finally 100% durif or petit sirah, Caravan Petite Sirah 2012, is a barbecue head turner not to mention a new experience for shiraz and cabernet fans.

DJ Kearney

I’ve chosen a killer pool of World Cup wine contenders, in honour of the highly anticipated pageantry of the Beautiful Game that starts next week. They all deliver champion value and express an admirable sense of place as well.

Argentina has been in four World Cup finals since the tournament’s inception in 1930, netting two victories in 1986 and 1978.  It’s been gratifying to see more and more well-made examples of perfumed Torrontés on our shelves, and the Anko Torrontes 2012 is one of the finest.  It will get you in the South American spirit as you sip along to the opening ceremonies.

Germany is a football juggernaut, making the final match seven times and winning twice. In a tough pool this year with Portugal, Ghana and ever-improving USA, German nerves will be as taut as this refreshing, gulpable riesling.  The Rudolf Muller Bishop of Riesling 2012 is fruity and forward, but it’s got a jolt of Riesling’s lick-smacking acidity to keep it between the goalposts.

Italy, home of unmatched wine diversity, has four World Cup trophies in 6 attempts, last in 2006.  The knockout Cavit Alta Luna Phases Dolomiti 2010 is a cheerful, snappy red that delivers both interest and great value.

Anko Salta Torrontes 2012Muller Bishop Of Riesling Bernkastel Riesling 2012Cavit Alta Luna Phases 2010Zontes Footstep Peacock's Tail Shiraz GrenacheLouis Bernard Cotes Du Rhone Villages 2012

Australia may never win the World Cup, but they have qualified for this heroic tournament four times (unlike our great nation!) and you just have to cheer for a team called the ‘Socceroos’.  Easy to cheer for the honest Zonte’s Footsteps Peacock’s Tail 2011 from McLaren Vale, showing a fruity first half, but a savoury finish.

Then there is France, still smarting from the notorious headbutt incident and their emotional penalty kick loss to Italy in the 2006 final. I’d prescribe some chewy/silky, village-level Côtes du Rhône Village 2012from Louis Bernardas a consolation prize; it’s restorative in every way.

Rhys Pender MW

Selecting wines under $20 that are worthy of a spot in this guide is no easy task. There are many wines that are okay in this price range but few that are exciting and really qualify as a best buy. Quite a number of wines need to be sifted through in order to find those that offer the best value and the most interest for $20. With summer just around the corner, I have recommended five white wines that are very interesting without breaking the bank.

Cheap Chardonnay can be bland and boring and is usually overtly simple. For just $14 in BC, the Inniskillin Okanagan Estate 2012 Chardonnay is fantastic value, made in the modern, restrained oak, nutty and fresh style.

There is more and more top-notch Riesling coming out of BC and the Stag’s Hollow Amalia Vineyard Riesling is a great example of an off-dry style that can still pack some punch. It is fresh, crisp, mineral and long lasting on the palate.

Of the sea of Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc out there, one of the best value bottles is Stoneleigh. The 2013 vintage is very crisp, racy and refreshing with a nice leanness making it perfect for spring, particularly during asparagus season.

Inniskillin Okanagan Estate Chardonnay 2012Stag's Hollow rieslingStoneleigh Sauvignon Blanc 2013Bordeaux Blanc Grand Bateau 2012Pfaffenheim Gewurztraminer 2012

For a different take on Sauvignon Blanc and offering great value is the Grand Bateau Bordeaux Blanc 2012. Still very young but showing the potential to be very good, the use of oak and the Semillon proportion of the blend give it a little more weight and texture making it perfect with roast chicken or rich white fish.

Gewurztraminer is a pretty distinctive beast and not for every occasion. But where it comes into its own is for rich Asian dishes, particularly Indian curries. The best value out there is undoubtedly the Pfaffenheim Gewurztraminer 2012. It is rich and just off-dry enough to handle a bit of spice in a dish.

Treve Ring

June’s sunshine has me donning glasses – rosé coloured glasses. When the daylight stretches into the evening and the solstice peaks, fresh rosés feel like a natural fit. Here are 5 dry 2013 rosés that circle the colour spectrum and the globe.

The juicy peach blossom, red currants and tangerine of the dry Pasión de Bobal 2013 from DO Utiel-Requena will bring the sun through the clouds with its fresh acidity and bright fruit.

With the outback energy to stand up hefty grilled foods, Lillooet’s Fort Berens Pinot Noir Rosé 2013 will make a welcome addition to the BBQ pit this summer.

Another wine that craves food is the savoury and crunchy Bieler Père & Fils Sabine Rosé 2013 from Coteaux D’Aix En Provence. Think grilled salmon or prosciutto wrapped melon.

Pasión De Bobal Rosé 2013Fort Berens Rose 2013Bieler Père & Fils Sabine Rosé 2013The Wild Olive Rosé 2013Domaine Houchart Côtes De Provence Rosé 2013

From the folks behind The Grinder wines comes this brand new release and label. The Wild Olive Rose 2013 is a punchy WO Coastal Region blend with sappy tree fruit, prickly pear and bitter melon notes.

I adore the hue, silkiness and structure of the Domaine Houchart Côtes De Provence Rosé 2013 from Côtes De Provence. Perfect with a patio, plate of charcuterie, warm herbed olives and a sunset.

That’s it for this month’s 20 Under 20. For more on what’s happening in British Columbia, be sure to read DJ Kearney’s recent post on the 2013 vintage. Later this month we will be back with more Critics’ picks at any price.

Top 20 Under $20 in British Columbia

Editors Note: You can find complete critic reviews by clicking on any of the highlighted wine names, bottle images or links. Premium subscribers to WineAlign see all critics reviews immediately. Non-paid members wait 30 days to see newly posted reviews. Membership has its privileges; like first access to great wines!


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BC Critics’ Picks May 2014

Our monthly Critics’ Picks column is the place to find recent recommendations from our intrepid and curious BC critics, wines that cross geographical boundaries, toe traditional style lines and may push limits – without being tied to price or distribution channel of the BCLDB or VQA stores. But are all currently available for sale in BC. Here are 20 wines we’re excited to share this month. Click on the links or bottle images to find out more.

Cheers, Treve Ring

BC Team Version 3

Anthony Gismondi’s Pacific Rim Summer Whites

It’s a big wine world out there with limitless options for the curious. This month I propose five very different wines, all made in the western reaches of North America that will transport you into summertime. In this case the task is to be cool, white, refreshing and food-friendly. Freshness as in acidity is a must, wood is tolerated but not necessary. Finally a sense of minerality or electricity to raise it above the ordinary was my goal to make this month’s picks.

We begin with the latest Domaine Drouhin Arthur Chardonnay 2012. This Willamette Valley will grab you attention first with its floral, nutty lees nose and then its fresh and creamy green apple, citrus and nectarine skin flavours. Oregon has the potential to make the best chardonnay in North America and this is one to watch. Halibut anyone?

Just up the road in Washington State, Chateau Ste. Michelle Riesling 2012 comes in a slimmed down version with floral, lime juice notes. Is Ernie Loosen’s riesling work at Eroica trickling down to CSM, you bet it is. Love the watery, quaffing edge with candied red apple and lime flavours. For lighter summer style foods.

Domaine Drouhin Arthur Chardonnay 2012Chateau Ste. Michelle Riesling 2012Mission Hill S.L.C. Sauvignon Blanc 2011Clos du Soleil Growers Series Pinot Blanc 2012Robert Mondavi Fumé Blanc 2012

Every vintage of Mission Hill Select Lot Sauvignon Blanc 2011 has been a head turner. Love the crisp, juicy, elegant styling, bright fruit and a wonderful nervous tension that brings it altogether. I’m thinking a Cobb salad is the ticket here. A little further south and west Clos du Soleil Grower’s Series Baessler Pinot Blanc 2013 is a Similkameen star mixing honey, citrus, pears all with a stony mineral ending. Try it with you favourite sashimi.

Now south to California where the Robert Mondavi Fumé Blanc 2012 is perhaps the best they have made. Fruity, stony and flecked with dried herbs it cause the all-important saliva flow that you can’t control. It’s a sure sign of minerality and freshness. Complex and food friendly, pair this with ahi tuna dishes. Life doesn’t get better.

The Unexpected from DJ Kearney

This month I have chosen wines that surprise and delight and show a different side of a wine, grape or place. Take Cherveny, for example, a little known appellation in the watery, dulcet Loire Valley. We expect dry crisp wines defined by the absence of oak and the Puzelat-Bonhmme Cherverny 2011 conforms to that ideal, but it offers two chance delights:  a sauvignon blanc wine that shows subtlety seldom seen, and a historic grape, Menu Pineau (an ancient Loire grape that’s related to Gouais Blanc) which adds a little fat to sauvignon’s lean frame.

Portugal truly owns ‘unexpected’. This country is ascending, and with her 250+ indigenous grapes it is THE place to seek drinking adventures and discoveries. Luis Pato has been giving us remarkable wines for decades now (lavishing respect and care on the Baga grape, for example) and tasted blind, I guarantee you’ll be all over the French map with the Luis Pato Vinhas Velhas Vinho Branco 2012 which shows a little Burg-ish and a little Rhone-ish.

It’s an unexpected treat when a $15-ish wine punches far above its weight, and that’s what you can expect from the great Brent Marris’ new vintage of The Ned Waihopai River Sauvignon Blanc 2014. A warmer growing season, 2014 saw full flavour development arrive at fairly low sugars, giving the wines a completeness and succulence that’s really compelling.

Puzelat Bonhomme Cheverny 2011Luis Pato Vinhas Velhas Vinho Branco 2012The Ned Sauvignon Blanc 2014Nederburg The Motorcycle Marvel 2010Penfolds Bin 9 Cabernet Sauvignon 2012

If you’ve been drinking Nederburg wines like I have for decades, the quality of the Nederburg The Motorcycle Marvel 2010 will be in step with your expectations, but if not, get ready for a dense and harmonious Rhone-y wine that’s brambly, wild and full of South African character.

Finally, illustrious Penfolds, so famous for shiraz wines like the powerful Grange and thoroughbred St. Henri, is also responsible for some majestic cabernet sauvignon. There’s the wondrous Bin 707, of course, and the more affordable Bin 407 which both immortalize cabernet, but new to the shelves is Penfolds Bin 9 Cabernet Sauvignon 2012, surprising with earthy, savoury restraint.

Old Favourites from Rhys Pender MW

There are some wines in the world that you just keep going back to because they are just so eternally satisfying and so rarely disappointing. One of my favourites is Chablis. It is racy, steely, tastes like oyster shells and is immensely refreshing. The Domaine Christian Moreau 2012 Chablis Vaillon 1er Cru is a textbook example of this most electric wine style.

Another wine that I seem to regularly guzzle with great enjoyment south of the border but don’t seem to find quite enough in Canada is the Schramsberg Blanc de Blancs bubbly from California. Of all the California bubblies I’ve had this seems time and time again to be the best and while not cheap at around $50 it can give most Champagnes a run for their money.

Some things about wine are excessively frivolous, betraying any history a wine or region might have to jump on the latest bandwagon and mimic whatever is the current trend that might short-sightedly sell off a few cases. Thankfully, there are some wines that are like bedrock, wines that plod along successfully using the techniques and following the styles that have always worked, always been admired and always made delicious juice. They don’t have to follow trends because they were good wines in the first place and when you make good wine, you should not change. Penfolds may well be the kings of stubborn-ness to change and for that we are grateful. The Penfolds 2010 Bin 407 Cabernet Sauvignon is a great example giving great bang for its buck, American oak warts and all. It just plain delicious.

Domaine Christian Moreau Chablis 1er Cru Vaillon 2012Schramsberg Blanc De Blancs Brut 2009Penfolds Bin 407 Cabernet Sauvignon 2010Luigi Einaudi Barolo 2009Muga Reserva 2008

Two final wines that I just can’t help splurging on far too often are each classics of Italy and Spain. Barolo is just so charming, in spite of its vigorous tannins and acidity, and even young and rough around the edges it often has so much complexity of flavour and aroma that you can’t just drink it but need to think about it as well. The Luigi Einaudi 2009 Terlo fromBarolo is a great example of this youthful intrigue.

The Muga 2008 Reserva Rioja is also a wine that really works the mind with its complexity, ticking boxes in every tasting sphere from fruits, to plants and the earth and many things in between. The Muga is a fantastic savoury version that will have you wearing out your aroma wheel with overuse.

Treve’s Travels with her Corkscrew

I’ve been on the road much of this month, so my picks were influenced by where I’ve visited and what I’ve tasted en route.

In Penedès, after a long day wandering hillside forest vineyards and navigating the Catalan language, it’s nice to put your feet up and your cares away with a glass of Miguel Torres Floralis Moscatel Oro. This golden elixir has been made by the Torres family since 1946, and this heady, honey blossom sip does double duty as an apres (the Spanish don’t eat dinner until 10pm after all) or dessert wine.

The delicate and sensual Floralis is in stark contrast to the otherworldly landscape of Priorat, and the wild, dramatic reds produced there. Parés Balta Gratavinum 2πr appears on our market from time to time, though sadly, never lasts long because of high demand. The Garnacha and Carignena blend transmits the minerality of Priorat’s soils into a powerful, memorable and long-lasting memory.

A skip across the Tyrrhenian Sea and I was lost amidst the endless rolling hills of Tuscany. Though Barone Bettino Ricasoli (1809 – 1880) is credited with perfecting the ‘recipe’ for Chianti in 1872, his heir, 32nd generation Barone Francesco Ricasoli has continued to search for the secrets to the “mischievous” Sangiovese grape today. In the Ricasoli Colledilá Chianti Classico Gran Selezione 2010, it is expressed though this single varietal Sangiovese, a pure, structured and regal wine that embraces modernity as well as history. (click here for background on the new Gran Selezione Chianti Classico category)

Torres Floralis Moscatel OroGratavinum 2πr 2009Barone Ricasoli Colledilà Chianti Classico Gran Selezione 2010Castiglion Del Bosco Rosso Di Montalcino 2011Poggiotondo Toscana Bianco 2013

When have the most beautiful Tuscan grilled bread, olive oil, charcuterie and hunks of cheese in front of you (as is oft the case when travelling the wine roads of Italy), a bottle of Castiglion Del Bosco Rosso Di Montalcino 2011 is exactly what you need. Lively, tight and bright, with sun-warmed cherry and smoked salt, this juicy, everyday red will help inject a little la dolce vita into your day.

It’s always such a massive delight to find a dry, textured, intriguing white blend in a Tuscan sea of reds – especially one that clocks in under $15 back on our BC shelves. The Poggiotondo Bianco Toscana IGT 2013 does exactly that – and more – under the experienced and intuitional hands of Alberto Antonini. The indigenous Vermentino, Ansonica and Malvasia blend is fresh and exciting, full of motion and promise, and calls for the local spot prawns hitting tables across BC this week.

That’s a wrap for this edition of Critics Picks. Check out our Top 20 under $20 coming up in two weeks, and get DJ Kearney’s lowdown on the 2013 vintage in BC, an excellent year after some ups and downs – Treve Ring

Editors Note: You can find complete critic reviews by clicking on any of the highlighted wine names, bottle images or links. Paid subscribers to WineAlign see all critics reviews immediately. Non-paid members wait 30 days to see new reviews. Premium membership has its privileges; like first access to great wines!


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Top 20 under $20 in BC (May 2014)

There are many reasons to celebrate May in BC : Cinco de Mayo, Mother’s Day, the Victoria Day long weekend, the kick of to Spot Prawn Season and ever longer daylight hours. We’re also celebrating the kick off to our new monthly column, 20 Under $20, where our BC critics bring you 20 wines readily available in BC Liquor Stores and VQA stores across the province.

Cheers ~

BC Team Version 3

Anthony Gismondi

You don’t get much for $20 in government because most of that money is tax, shipping, packaging and well just about anything but the juice but I’m knocked out by the pinot character in the 2013 Lomas del Valle Pinot Noir from Casablanca, Chile

Looking for a party riesling? The 2012 Chateau Ste. Michelle Riesling from Washington State is fresh and skinny with quaffing, candied, red apple and lime flavours. Drink all summer.

Italian pinot grigio gets a bad rap but your pals will be rapping if you share a bottle of 2013 Oxford Landing Pinot Grigio from South Australia. Juicy, slightly sweet palate with light lees, lemon, butter, peach and grapefruit flavours shouts grilled pizza.

Lomas Del Valle Pinot Noir 2013  Chateau Ste. Michelle Riesling 2012  Oxford Landing Pinot Grigio 2013  M. Chapoutier Les Vignes De Bila Haut Côtes Du Roussillon Villages 2012  Vina Cono Sur Single Vineyard Block 25 Syrah 2012

How about a delicious example of bio-dynamically grown fruit at a giveaway price that you can serve to crowds. Reach for the 2012 M. Chapoutier Domaine de Bila-Haut Rouge packed full of plummy, wild smoky, peppery, fruit flavours.

Back to Chile for the 2012 Cono Sur Single Vineyard Block 25 Syrah from Valle de San Antonio $20. Great value in a single vineyard offering with fresh plummy peppery fruit roast pepper flavours.

DJ Kearney

Riesling from the sunny Pfalz usually guarantees generous ripe fruit, and the off-dry Rudolf Muller Bunny Riesling 2012 does exactly that for under $15 bucks.

Try these two local rosés next time you are ordering Vietnamese or Thai take away; the SpierHead Rosé 2013 is dry, snappy and brimming with Okanagan identity, while the Hester Creek Rose 2013 shows a brashly fruit-forward style and will take on incendiary chili heat.

Rudolf Muller Bunny Riesling 2012  Spierhead Winery Rosé 2013  Hester Creek Rose 2013  Grooner Grüner Veltliner 2012 Bodegas Castano La Casona Old Vines Monastrell 2013  Nederburg Cabernet Sauvignon 2013

Sometimes a few glasses of friendly light white is what you need to get to know a new grape.  Austria’s signature white variety Gruner Veltliner embraces a range of styles from rain-water fresh and delicate, to bone crunchingly dry and austerely mineral.  The Meinhard Forstreiter Grooner 2012 sits at the lighter end of the spectrum; value-priced, crisp and screwcapped for freshness.

The new vintage of Bodegas Castaño’s La Casona Monastrell 2013 shows great line and length for under 10 bucks and is a staggering value here in BC.  Bring out the best in old vine monastrell with a smoky burger or spicy-tangy grilled chorizo.

In the category of great bargains that fly under the radar, Nederburg Winemaster’s Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 does what real wines should do:  show grape and place with ease and confidence.

Rhys Pender MW

Californian Cabernet seems to either be sweet and candied or just too expensive so the Louis Martini 2012 Sonoma County Cabernet Sauvignon is quite refreshing. A little old school with lots of oak but also lots of fruit and it is dry.

A lighter, fresher and juicier option is the Mt. Boucherie 2012 Family Reserve Gamay Noir. There isn’t much acreage of Gamay in BC, surely there should be more?

Another crisp juicy red that embraces rather than fights the cool 2011 BC vintage is the Bartier Scholefield 2011 Red. Try it slightly chilled on a warm afternoon.

Louis M. Martini Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 Mt. Boucherie Family Reserve Gamay Noir 2012  Bartier Scholefield Red 2011Errazuriz Max Reserva Syrah 2011 Segura Viudas Brut Rose

There is lots of excitement about cool climate Syrah and Chile is one of the best positioned to make this style. Try the Errazuriz Max Reserva 2011 Syrah to see what it is all about.

Right about now I need some bubbly (which is true whenever you might read this) and the Segura Viudas Brut Rosé Cava is always a great value. Serve it on its own or with just about anything that isn’t red meat.

Treve Ring

If you are a Food Network fan, search out Entwine Chardonnay 2011 from Californaia. Karl Wente, 5th generation winemaker, teamed up with the Food Network’s executive chef to concoct an approachable, modern chardy to pair with food.

Many aromatic white blends are a cacophony of grapes. In Stoneboat Chorus 2012 however, the old vine Germanic grapes come together in complete melodic harmony.

You can enjoy the classic flavours of Mosel Riesling at an amazingly affordable price with the dependable and consistent Dr. Pauly Bergweiliger Riesling 2012. Pass the spot prawns!

There is no mistaking the spring sunshine and fresh cut grass in this vibrant glass of The Ned Sauvignon Blanc 2013 from Marlborough’s Waihopai Valley. It could be spring in the middle of winter if you’re drinking this.

Entwine Chardonnay 2011  Stoneboat Chorus 2012  Dr. Pauly Bergweiler Riesling 2012  The Ned Sauvignon Blanc 2013

That’s a wrap for this first edition of 20 Under $20. Stay tuned for our Critics Picks Buyers Guide coming the third week in May – a round up of the most interesting wines our intrepid B.C. team has tasted in recent weeks.

Editors Note: You can find complete critic reviews by clicking on any of the wine names, bottle images or links highlighted. Paid subscribers to WineAlign see all critics reviews immediately. Non-paid users wait 30 days to see new reviews. Membership has its privileges; like first access to great wines!


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WineAlign Launches in British Columbia

TORONTO/VANCOUVER – February 27, 2013 – Vancouver International Wine Festival – WineAlign, Canada’s largest and most popular online wine site, today announced its launch in British Columbia. WineAlign is making its debut in B.C. with more than 4,500 wines from the British Columbia Liquor Distribution Branch (BCLDB) being amalgamated into the WineAlign database.

WineAlign answers the question shoppers ask themselves every time they go to the wine store: “What is the best wine in my price range that I can buy in this store right now?” WineAlign will provide B.C.-based wine consumers with ratings and multiple critic reviews on wines available at their local BC Liquor Stores. It will also provide inventory levels at their nearest BCLDB store. 

WineAlign was founded four years ago by Toronto web entrepreneur and wine lover Bryan McCaw, with the aim of providing immediate, objective and comprehensive advice to shoppers at Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO) stores. In 2012 WineAlign attracted over 967,000 different people, making it one of the busiest wine sites in Canada.

Anthony GismondiWineAlign is pleased to announce that Vancouver’s Anthony Gismondi is now a partner and will be the lead critic in British Columbia. Well known and respected in B.C. as wine columnist for the Vancouver Sun and co-host of the Best of Food and Wine with Kasey Wilson on AM650, Anthony is also a national and international voice in the wine world, and brings a wealth of experience and his ‘consumer-first’ perspective to WineAlign.

“I have a great deal of respect for the WineAlign team already in place and am excited to be joining them as a principal critic and partner in a purely wine-focused role,” says Gismondi. “I also look forward to assisting with taking WineAlign to a new level nationally as plans are put in place to roll it out across the country.”

Other B.C. based critics will be announced shortly, joining a national team that includes partners David Lawrason (Toronto Life, Ottawa Magazine), Master Sommelier John Szabo, Margaret Swaine of the National Post, Wine for Life educator Steve Thurlow, Rod Phillips of the Ottawa Citizen, wine writer Janet Dorozynski of Ottawa, and sommelier Sara d’Amato of Toronto. The team is set to become even larger as WineAlign prepares to launch in Quebec in the months ahead.

Each critic provides their own reviews, giving consumers a spectrum of opinions with which they can “align”.  The pro’s reviews are complemented by thousands of consumer reviews. The highly engaged community can offer their opinions and use WineAlign as their personal shopping list and wine cellar inventory system.

Following its debut in B.C., WineAlign will be exploring partnerships with private wine retailers in an effort to provide an even wider service to B.C.-based consumers.

Visit WineAlign at the Vancouver Playhouse International Wine Festival to meet the team and see a demonstration.

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