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20 Great Holiday Buys under $20 in British Columbia (December)

Holiday Picks from our West Coast Critic Team

This time of year we get asked the same wine questions over and over (and truthfully, we regularly ask ourselves the same questions too)!

What are the best wines to have at my {insert holiday function here}?

Which we all mean to say…

What are the best wines at the very best prices to have at my {insert holiday function here} because my budgets are all being directed elsewhere but I still want to enjoy delicious and special wines?

We understand. From celebratory dinners to family brunches and from office lunches to gift swaps to the big festive dinner, there are countless wine pairing possibilities – and countless ways to blow your budget. The BC team has gleefully shared some of our favourite under-$20 picks to see you through this busy month.

Happy holidays and cheers from the WineAlign west team.

- TR

BC Team Version 3

Anthony Gismondi

I love to decant a young inexpensive red in a simple, plain, glass decanter. Not only does it look good but 30 to 60 minutes of air allows the wine to show its stuff. There’s really not any downside and the upside is your under $20 reds will taste like you paid under $30. Here are five holiday party picks that will all improve with some air and because they are in a decanter they will keep your guests guessing about their price and origin until the reveal.

The Castaño Lujuria 2013 offers fresh, juicy, red wine that mixes merlot and monastrell that is perfect for wandering the party floor catching up with friends.

The Yalumba Shiraz Viognier Y Series 2011 beguiles with its floral nose, ginger, bacon and a black pepper, savoury black fruit aromas and flavours. Grilled meats or cheese work here.

Castano Lujuria 2013Yalumba Y Series Shiraz Viognier 2011Xanadu Next Of Kin Shiraz 2011Famille Perrin Réserve 2012Louis Bernard Cotes Du Rhone Villages 2012

Another Down under pick, this time from Western Australia is the Xanadu Next of Kin Shiraz 2011. A warm, ripe vintage has spawned a peppery, plum, chocolate flavoured red that works with lamb.

Is there better value red wine in Canada at the moment than Cotes du Rhone? The Famille Perrin Côtes du Rhône Rouge Réserve 2012 bears a ‘Reserve’ moniker but it doesn’t really need the meaningless qualifier. The palate is juicy with plummy, ripe raspberry fruit flavours you can serve with grilled pork or lamb chops.

Maison Louis Bernard works with over 20 vineyard owners in the Côtes-du-Rhône Villages appellation which spreads across some 4000 ha and 95 villages in Ardèche, Vaucluse, Drôme and Gard. Expect a slightly more complex structure and bouquet from this delicious Louis Bernard Côtes du Rhône Villages Rouge 2012.

DJ Kearney

Holiday brunch is on the calendar, and my festive home will soon be bulging with rellies, friends and no doubt, one or twelve kids and a few pets….   The adults are thirsty, the kiddies are hungry and the pets are out of control…. It’s predictable and beloved holiday chaos.

All the favourite recipes have been dusted off, a few new ones are trialed, and the holiday log crackles from the TV in my Yaletown condo. Bubbly is essential for toasts and well, good times in general. One of my favourites for a crowd is the streamlined Anna de Codorniu, with bright citrusy fruit, pillowy mousse and extra definition from a preponderance of chardonnay (70%), uplifting native Spanish grapes. The snowy white bottle and the sale price of $16.49 are two extra reasons to drink or stuff into a stocking.

I’ll also have a favourite Alsatian quichy dish, tarte a l’oignion made with Gruyere cheese and melted onions all bound in a savoury egg custard. An easy and regional pair is Kuhlmann-Platz Gewurztraminer, perfumed, just off-dry and hefty enough for the rich tart.

Codorniu Anna De Codorniu BrutKuhlmann Platz GewurztraminerOlivares Rosé 2012La Vuelta Syrah 2012Ganton & Larsen Prospect Admiral Shorts Okanagan Tawny

Ham and a heaped platter of juicy plump sausages need a rosé and a substantial red – I’ll give the Olivares Jumilla Rosado 2012 a big chill (yes, we can drink pink in the winter) and wow my guests with an Argentine syrah, La Vuelta 2012 that is one of the best bargains I’ve encountered lately.

Dessert (if anyone can manage) is sticky toffee pudding, mince tarts (made from my Mum’s quince mincemeat recipe), plus some local blue cheese, and I’ll offer a BC treat, the Ganton & Larsen Prospect Okanagan Tawny. Like port, it’s been lengthily aged in cask, and offers a mellow, sweet and warming winter drop. Amazingly there are over 200 bottles in the BCLDB system, so don’t miss the chance to taste this fortified BC hero. Eat, drink and be merry.

Rhys Pender MW

Christmas Day for me involves drinking pretty much all day, but certainly isn’t about over indulging. You don’t have to spend a lot to drink well on Christmas day, but as it is Christmas after all, I have stretched the budget a little beyond the $20 mark – but not much.

Christmas starts early with young kids and so after a few strong coffees a little glass of bubbly is good for livening you up for the next eating event. You don’t need anything fancy, as a splash of good orange juice is often in order, but it must be good enough to stand up on its own – not sweet, a little complexity, and freshness. Cava is always the best value and for just a few dollars above entry level you get some pretty delicious wine. The Freixenet Elyssia Gran Cuvée Brut does nicely.

The next Christmas event is brunch and we always try to have something that is not too heavy, saving room for the grand feast later on. Bubbly works so if there is any Cava left, that will do but it is also a great time to taste some interesting whites. A wine that goes with a great range of foods is Muscadet. The Château De La Gravelle Muscadet Sèvre & Maine 2013 is crisp, mineral and fresh.

Freixenet_Elyssia_Gran_Cuv_e_Brut_Cava_webChâteau De La Gravelle Muscadet Sèvre & Maine 2013Château De Pierreux Brouilly 2012Muriel Reserva 2008Falernia Reserva Syrah 2010Taylor Fladgate Late Bottled Vintage Port 2008

When you get on to the main meal of the day, we often go for something other than the traditional turkey or ham, the stomach still full from Thanksgiving. Roast leg of lamb or beef tenderloin works well and allows a number of red wine options. If you go with a lighter Christmas dinner or the traditional route, good quality Beaujolais is the way to go. Try the Château De Pierreux Brouilly 2012.

For something a little fuller bodied, it is often fun to try something with a bit of age or some interesting flavours as there is often time to sit around with family and savour complex flavours. In terms of value for money, Rioja is hard to beat for wines with some development. One good bet is the Muriel Reserva Rioja 2008.

Another meaty, interesting wine that will go with grilled or roasted meats beautifully and do well around the fire place on its own is the Falernia Reserva Syrah 2010 from Chile’s Elqui Valley.

Somewhat miraculously towards the end of the evening, there is room for some cheese, Stilton being a particular favourite. The best value wine to match with a strong, crumbly cheese is Late Bottled Vintage Port. These wines can offer amazing value for money. Try the Taylor Fladgate LBV 2008.

Treve Ring

We all think about matching wine with food, but what about matching wine with people? A bottle of wine is a lovely gift to give and receive, and even more so when there is more thought put into the purchase than just the colourful label. Wine certainly needn’t be expensive to be fantastic, or appreciated. One of my favourite gifts to give is a bottle I’ve specifically selected for someone, along with a handwritten neck tag about why I chose it for him or her – and yes, often with a food pairing suggestion too.

For The Cocktailist: Lillet Blanc is a classic French aperitif – meant to stimulate the appetite before the meal. Try it over ice, or use in cocktails – the golden honey, apricot, orange oil and earthy spice a complement to many spirits.

For The Hostess: Bringing wine to an event can be hit or miss. Just remember that bubbles go with everything! Cava is an easy like and affordable place to start – Jaume Serra Cristalino Brut is mind-boggling value for all the lively green apple and citrus enjoyment.

Lillet BlancJaume Serra Cristalino Brut CavaViñas Elias Mora 2010Hester Creek Pinot Gris 2013No Unauthorized Reproduction @Jason Dziver

For The Carnivore: Elias Mora 2010 is a big, structured black fruited savoury tempranillo from Spain’s Toro region that would make any grill king or queen happy. I suggest pairing with roasted tenderloin and chestnuts.

For The Locavore: From an area that has been approved as BC’s first official Sub-Geographical Indication – the Golden Mile Bench – comes the spiced Hester Creek Estate Winery Pinot Gris 2013, a natural for those who support our local producers (and want something tasty to pair with leftover turkey sandwiches).

For The Sweet Toothed: With icewine, a little goes a long way. All the better then for the BCLDB’s stocking-stuffer-sized 50ml Inniskillin Niagara Vidal Icewine 2012 for $8 (!), a perfect little nip of peach nectar and mandarin spice to pair with your gingerbread.


Thoughout the entire month the BC team will bring you timely and useful holiday selections. Our December Critics’ Picks will focus exclusively on sparkling wines, and for the next BC Report I’ll be sharing news on BC’s icewine harvest alongside tasting notes for different styles of local sweet wines. Anthony’s Final Blend will close off December with a look back on 2014 and a look ahead to the fresh new year.



Here’s a short-cut to the complete list searchable by store: 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 60 days to see newly posted reviews. Membership has its privileges; like first access to great wines!


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20 under $20 in British Columbia (November)

Monthly Picks from our West Coast Critic Team

No matter where we are in this vast vinous world (Similkameen, Vancouver, Chile, Australia…) we always have our ears finely tuned to value wines. Yes – we love to taste all wines, but we tire of the reserve, grand reserve, super premium reserve, icon extra reserve and every other uber, super, ultra premium tier wines – all with a price to match. When I talk to my colleagues about what they’re excited about, and what they’re drinking at home, it’s often under $20, and it’s a great find that doesn’t dent the bank account. That is what this column is about, and what we’re out there roving around and finding for you.

- TR

BC Team Version 3

Anthony Gismondi

Though I’m writing this en route to spring in Chile, I’ve just left wind, rain and cold, so my mind is tuned to wines that will warm from the inside out.

A bargain red for all you year-round grilling fanatics is La Posta Tinto Red Blend 2013 and fun easy-sipping-style made from malbec, bonarda and syrah.

Syrah also dominates the Matchbook Dunnigan Hills Syrah 2011 from Yolo County in California. Here, a splash of cabernet sauvignon ups the smoky chocolate notes and results in a solid mid-week red.

La Posta Cocina Tinto Blend 2013Matchbook Syrah 2011Tommasi Vigneto Le Prunée Merlot 2012Graham Beck The Game Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2011No Unauthorized Reproduction @Jason Dziver

If your tastes veer more European, try the fresh Tommasi Merlot Le Prunée 2012  from Veneto, Italy with your grilled meats or mushroom dishes.

Graham Beck The Game Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2011 is ready to crack with your cheeseburger or beef dip, the smoked earth and cassis notes working with the freshness in this Western Cape rustic red.

And when you’re craving creamy pasta or warming clam chowder, pour a glass of the bread and orchard fruit-full Tinhorn Creek Chardonnay 2013 to match.

DJ Kearney

It’s time to lay in some wines for a crowd… trust me, November will evaporate and you’ll find the entertaining season arrives before you know it. Here are a few of my favourite bargains to stock up on this month.

Wyndham Estate Bin 222 Chardonnay 2013 has a spark of acidity that works well with a variety of dishes from seafood through poultry, and it’s always a smart idea to have a solid, well made chardonnay in the house.

Another great wine to stock up on is a varietally-sound, drinkable and affordable pinot noir – not an easy thing to find. Robert Mondavi Private Selection Pinot Noir 2012 covers all bases and impresses with its gorgeous pinot fragrance.

Wyndham Estate Bin 222 Chardonnay 2013Robert Mondavi Private Selection Pinot Noir 2012Montgras Cabernet Sauvignon Reserva 2013San José De Aguarón Monasterio De Las Viñas Reserva 2006Crios Torrontés 2013

With hearty beef or lamb braises to warm you from the inside out, a tankard of Montgras Cabernet Sauvignon Reserva 2013 from Colchagua, Chile will work well, with its currant, black plum and light smokiness.

If you are looking for a more savoury, Spanish red for your lamb, the Grandes Vinos y Vinedos Monasterio de las Vinas Reserva 2006 from Carinena, Spain is an exceptional value, with a chewy/silky blend of garnacha, tempranillo and carinena from vines aging 35-45 years offering up complexity and amazing value.

And if you really need a sunny lift? Stock up on Crios de Susana Balbo Torrontes 2013. A salty note adds interest to this dry, citrusy high-altitude Salta aromatic white.

Rhys Pender MW

This month I have been enjoying a lot of soft, rich, cuddly red wines. The Rhône, southern France and southern Italy are always good bets plus I have thrown in a new Bulgarian listing and one Similkameen grown red to the list this month. These all over deliver for under $20 and should be enjoyed with some hearty food, ideally standing around an open fire in the chilly fall air.

The Château Millegrand 2012 from Minervois is the perfect soft, warming style and great with anything grilled and meaty.

Another similarly styled southern French value buy is the 2012 Pierre Henri Morel Signargues Côtes du Rhône. Both have plenty of fruit but also lots of savoury notes to add complexity and interest.

Château De Millegrand Minervois 2012Pierre Henri Morel Signargues Côtes Du Rhône Villages 2012Verso Rosso 2013Lovico Gamza 2011Sandhill Cabernet Merlot Vanessa Vineyard 2012

Southern Italy also makes some very soft yet savoury reds perfect for around the fireplace. The 2013 Verso Rosso from Salento IGT is a good buy at $19.99.

Bulgarian wine practically disappeared from BC shelves over the last decade but there may be signs of a comeback. The 2011 Lovico Gamza is a delicious, light, juicy and fresh savoury red for just $13. Maybe there will be some Mavrud and Melnik coming to follow in Gamza’s footsteps?

Closer to home is the 2012 Sandhill Vanessa Vineyard Cabernet-Merlot. This is nice and ripe but shows some of the Similkameen minerality underneath its toasty oak.

Treve Ring

I’m writing this column, as I often do, at an airport, waiting for a flight. I’ve just spent a couple of weeks visiting wine regions in Australia and struck by the innovation and energy coming out of this vast country. Forget about critter labels and commodity wine – the new Australia is focused on regionality and freshness above all – and there are great values to be found.

With my vote for one of the most value-for-money wines on our market is the Tahbilk Marsanne 2010. An absolute steal for under $20, Tahbilk’s ties to the rare French-born Marsanne grape stretches back to the 1860’s when the first grapes were recorded. Though those initial plantings are no longer around, the Estate still produces Marsanne from 1927 plantings – some of the oldest in the world!

Did you know that Oxford Landing is a place, not a brand? I have proof, drinking this bright and sunny Oxford Landing Pinot Grigio overlooking riverfront Oxford Landing, in the sleepily scenic Riverland region in South Australia.

Tahbilk Marsanne 2010Oxford Landing Pinot Grigio 2013Yalumba The Y Series Viognier 2013De Bortoli Db Selection Petite Sirah 2011De Bortoli La Boheme Pinot Gris And Friends 2013

Credited, rightfully so, with saving viognier from extinction, the Yalumba Y Series Viognier remains a consistent staple and benchmark for this exotic, apricot spiced grape. Partner with your Thai or Vietnamese dishes for pairing perfections.

If you’re grilling up a quick weekday steak to ward off the chill, De Bortoli Family Selection Petite Sirah 2011 would be a great choice. Uncomplicated sweet plum, dark cassis over a polished, cool finish will match up to your easy midweek dinner plans.

DeBorts, as they’re casually called, have just recently released a new line of wines into Canada. The La Boheme line is a higher tier wine, in smaller production and focus on region. La Boheme Pinot Gris & Friends 2013 is from grapes sourced in the cooler upper Yarra Valley, highlighting the tart lemon, anise and pear skin character of pinot gris, alongside aromatic friends gewürztraminer and Riesling.


Watch for the BC WineAlign crew’s monthly Critics’ Picks, as well Anthony’s Final Blend and DJ’s overview of wine judges mentoring judges. Later this month, I will kick off a series taking a closer, detailed look at Australia’s regionality and John Szabo, Bill Zacharkiw and I write a joint piece about our travels through Portugal – Bill, John and Treve’s Excellent Portuguese Adventure. You can check out John’s terrific introduction to the diversity of Portugal here.



Here’s a short-cut to the complete list searchable by store: 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 60 days to see newly posted reviews. Membership has its privileges; like first access to great wines!

Calliope Figure Eight Red 2012

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20 under $20 in British Columbia (October)

Monthly Picks from our West Coast Critic Team

Giving thanks for wine. We have much to be thankful for in BC. We have a thriving, exciting and vibrant wine industry, currently in the midst of a beautiful harvest. We have a selection of outlets to purchase wine, both government operated and independent, ensuring a wide and ranging selection of products at all price points. We have some of the top sommeliers and wine professionals in the country (sorry everywhere east), undoubtedly talented, educated and supportive of each other. And our wine culture, though young and concentrated, is building and confident. I am thankful for a national portal like WineAlign, that unites drinkers, agents, geeks, consumers and professionals all, in our shared quest for great wines. And I am thankful for you, our readers, who fuel our drive to bring you the best, and our best. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours – TR

BC Team Version 3

Anthony Gismondi

A few favourites for the long weekend. Whether it’s turkey or ham or salmon or simply a piece of cheese all of these wines work with family and friends and we couldn’t be more thankful.

Chardonnay is on a roll around the globe and the Louis Latour Ardèche Chardonnay 2012 is a favourite given how it walks the fine line between rich and lean – plus it is terrific value to boot.

The new Moon Curser Carmenere 2012 speaks to site and climate, I love the pepper and chocolate we see in top Chilean examples. (Sorry for cheating above the $20 here)

Louis Latour Chardonnay L'ardeche 2012 Moon Curser Carmenere 2012 Tabalí Reserva Pinot Noir 2012 Tormaresca Trentangeli Castel Del Monte 2010 Crios De Susana Balbo Malbec 2013

Still in Chile, turkey and pinot can be a comfortable fit and the Tabali Reserva Pinot Noir 2012 fits that bill. The palate is soft and alluring with enough sweet fruit and spice to please a diverse crowd.

More turkey wine and a crowd pleaser is the Tormaresca Trentangeli Castel del Monte 2010. Rich dense warm and spicy it will stand up to the big dinner flavours.

That goes ditto for the handcrafted Crios Malbec by Susana Balbo Dominio de Plata 2013. Aromatic floral/violet black fruits will draw you deep into the glass. Happy Thanksgiving.

DJ Kearney

Thanksgiving is almost upon us and I give thanks for variety in wine; for the simple fact that we can waltz into a wine store and choose a bottle or five from dozens of countries, hundreds of grapes and thousands of producers. Diversity is wines greatest strength, so let’s celebrate a world of choice.

I blind-tasted Nobilo’s Regional Collection Sauvignon Blanc 2014 this past August at our World Wine Awards, and wow does it deliver freshness and zing for a great price. I’ll be pouring it before Thanksgiving dinner paired with goat’s cheese crostini.

Next up is a sensational South African white, Wild Olive Old Vine Chenin Blanc 2013, and you should run, not walk to buy a case. Pair it with pear, thyme and parmesan stuffed mushrooms.

Nobilo Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2014 Wild Olive Old Vines Chenin Blanc 2013 St. Hubertus’ Pinot Blanc 2013 Stoneleigh Pinot Noir 2013 Goats Do Roam Red 2013

A different kind of botanical white is St. Hubertus’ Pinot Blanc 2013, with precise apple and citrus and the herbal note of the Okanagan’s ‘garrigue’; try this with Dungeness crab cakes.

To round out dinner of either whole baked sockeye salmon or the traditional turkey (smoky bacon atop), I love the 2013 Stoneleigh Marlborough Pinot Noir, and the Goat’s Do Roam 2013 chewy Cape red blend.  Being thankful for delicious under-$20 wines is EASY!

Rhys Pender MW

The wine world is so diverse and there are some great wines at great value from all over the place. Take the Campo Viejo Reserva Rioja 2008. A lot of interesting flavours for just $20.

Just creeping under the $20 thanks to a limited time offer, you should stock up on the Wakefield Riesling 2013. This crisp, dry Aussie riesling is fresh and juicy for now and should also cellar well, so tuck a few in the cellar.

Another interesting wine is the Feudo Maccari Nero D’avola 2012 from Sicily. This has the ripe fruit of sunshine but lots of meaty goodness, an excellent wine for beside the fire over the winter.

Campo Viejo Reserva 2008 Wakefield Clare Valley Riesling 2013 Feudo Maccari Nero D'avola 2012 Muscadet Sevre Et Maine Chateau De La Gravelle 2011 Yalumba The Y Series Viognier 2013

One of the most craveable styles of wine is anything crisp and refreshing and that tastes like licking a wet rock from a mountain stream. The Château de la Gravelle 2011 Muscadet Sèvre et Maine fits the bill nicely. Just add freshly shucked oysters.

Cool nights call for warming meals and there is no better wine to go with Indian curry than viognier. The Yalumba Y Series Viognier 2013 is always a good bet.

Treve Ring

I’m admittedly not the traditional sort, so my Thanksgiving plans generally involve picnics, pizza, brunch or BBQ. However, I always invite folks over – sometimes newly acquainted, sometimes decades-known, often a mix – to share in the festivities. Therefore, my Thanksgiving wine picks veer more to communal camaraderie than a specific menu.

Therapy Vineyards Freudian Sip 2013 will unite a crowd, if not for its herb perfumed florals, then for its memorable label and name.

A well made, well balanced, well priced riesling is good to have in your arsenal, bonus points that it’s from the Mosel. Be sure to stock up on Deinhard Green Label Riesling 2012 for Thanksgiving and beyond.

Therapy Freudian Sip 2013 Deinhard Green Label Riesling 2012 Kendall Jackson Avant Chardonnay 2013 Piccini Fiasco Chianti 2012 Bodega Renacer Punto Final Malbec 2012

Monterey’s Kendall Jackson Avant Chardonnay 2013 demonstrates how far full-bodied Cali chardy has come, with its lemon, applesauce and gentle lees, it is a great wine to dispel the ABC myth with (test it on your company).

You needn’t fear this holiday fiasco. The Piccini Chianti Fiasco 2012 proudly utilizes the old school basket to present this tart cranberry and fresh cherry Tuscan red.

And if you do find yourself out grilling, like I most likely will be, you may need a spicy, hearty red. The solidly built, stylishly packaged Bodega Renacer Punto Final 2012 Malbec, from Mendoza, Argentina will partner with the fall chill, whatever meats you have grilling and your Thanksgiving table.


Watch for Anthony’s insightful Final Blend which speaks to the importance of vintage, followed by the BC WineAlign crew’s monthly Critics’ Picks, as well as Rhys Pender’s look at natural wine in BC. In the meantime, I have shared my take away notes from the biennial Wine & Culinary International Forum in Barcelona.



Here’s a short-cut to the complete list searchable by store: 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 60 days to see newly posted reviews. Membership has its privileges; like first access to great wines!

Calliope Figure Eight Red 2012

Filed under: News, Wine, , , , , , , , , ,

British Columbia Wine Report

Back to {WINE} School TimeSept. 9, 2014

by Treve Ring

Treve Ring

Treve Ring

Even though it looks like BC’s public schools will not be back in session any time soon due to a bitter and lengthy teachers’ strike, September’s arrival signals back to school for many lucky BC students. Wine students.

After a busy summer for most of the trade, autumn is a natural slide back into indoors, books and studies. There are classes for all levels of professional and amateur wine students, both informal and accredited, all over the province. Classes vary widely in scope, instruction and cost, and potential wine students should do a little homework to find out what method best suits their needs; it can be confusing to know the difference between ISG and WSET and CMS and beyond – a whole lingo of acronyms in itself! As a wine professional with a funny little alphabet of post-noms, I’m constantly queried on the best way for people to improve their wine knowledge – be it for their personal pleasure, or for improving their career. For this Back To {Wine} School BC Wine Report, I’m going to give you the Coles Notes on the various programs available.


The class you chose depends on your end goal. If you’re a beginning amateur (CONsumer) who would like to understand the difference between chardonnay and cabernet, you may not need or want an accredited course. There are numerous courses at community rec centres and colleges, as well as continuing studies courses offered through universities such as the University of British Columbia. Some private wine shops offer a series of courses to customers, which is a great way to learn more about what’s at your local shop. These courses are often offered in the evenings or weekends, and aimed at widening your world wine scope in a more casual and consumer-appropriate way.

IMG_4912If you’re in the industry, or want to be, you will want to find an accredited course, for PROfessionals. Certification from an accredited education provider will be helpful on your resume, and provides a standard level that is recognized widely. At the entry levels, the instruction between the programs is similar, but as you progress through your studies, you’ll want to know what your end goal is so you can direct your path. You’ll also learn how to taste (yes, and spit) professionally and methodically as well as how to taste wine blind – more than just a nifty party trick.

End Goal: MW vs MS

Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET)

This globally recognized, multi-tiered program is great for people just starting wine studies or for those who have informal and/or self-guided training as you can enter at any level that suits. Courses build from Level 1 through 3 into increasingly detailed material about the world of wine and spirits, as well as blind tasting skills. Level 4 is the Diploma level, and is comprised of 6 different detailed units, each focusing on an aspect of global wine business or style. The Diploma is usually a 2-3 year program, and can be taken in class or through Distance Education. There are very few schools worldwide able to administer the Diploma program on behalf of the Wine & Spirit Education Trust, based in London, England. Completion of the WSET Diploma is the stepping stone to become a Master of Wine (MW), the highest academic/wine business qualification in the world. *WineAlign’s Rhys Pender is an MW.

There are a few different schools in BC that are accredited for WSET instruction and classes run at various schedules year round, but only the Art Institute of Vancouver is certified to teach the Diploma level. Diploma courses run on a globally synched calendar – meaning all students around the world write exams on specific dates. Other WSET providers in BC include WinePlus+, Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts, Fine Vintage and the BC Wine School.

Court of Master Sommeliers (CMS)

IMG_6838Though not a permanent fixture in BC, the Court of Master Sommeliers leads the Introductory Sommelier Course and a Certified Sommelier Course through the Art Institute of Vancouver each fall. Unlike WSET and their focus on global wine business, the focus of CMS instruction shifts to wine service, and completion of their Advanced Sommelier level is the gateway to becoming a Master Sommelier (MS), an exam process chronicled in the documentary SOMM. *WineAlign’s John Szabo is an MS. Vancouver’s CMS courses will be taught via the Art Institute at the end of September and afford students the chance to gain an accredited designation from CMS. Vancouver classes fill up quickly; students who are marching on towards their MS have to travel to the United States to write the Advanced Level exams.

There are other accredited courses in BC that are more localized geographically (International Sommelier Guild) or specialized (French Wine Scholar, Italian Wine Specialist). For budding winemakers and grape growers, the Viticulture and Wine Studies Program at Okanagan College is a great place to start.

And now for the Homework…

Unlike most schools, the best part about wine studies is homework. Tasting, tasting, tasting wines from around the globe – benchmarks and oddities – to set your palate and your wine compass. I’m a lifer – a lifetime student – who is excited and grateful to learn new things every time I pick up a glass.

Here are a series of wines that I think everyone, at any level, should experience. Consider it homework.

If you can learn to say Weingut St. Urbans-Hof Riesling Ockfener Bockstein Kabinett 2011, you’re ahead of the game, and even more when you start to grasp off-dry and intense Mosel Riesling.

After learning German, Greek will be easy – especially when you have the sunny and likable Boutari Moschofilero 2012 from Peloponnese, Greece in your tasting glass.

You will learn how some wineries deftly merge modernity with centuries of tradition, as with the Barone Ricasoli Colledilà Chianti Classico Gran Selezione 2010.

Or how producers are reclaiming biodynamic and natural farming techniques to lead today’s brigade of responsible natural wines, like Beaujolais’ Christophe Pacalet Chiroubles 2011.

In our locavore province, students will be schooled on important local wines, like Naramata’s Nichol Vineyard Syrah 2010, made from Canada’s oldest Syrah vines.

St. Urbans Hof Ockfener Bockstein Riesling Kabinett 2011 Boutari Moschofilero 2012 Barone Ricasoli Colledilà Chianti Classico Gran Selezione 2010 Christophe Pacalet Chiroubles 2011Nichol Vineyards Syrah 2010

A big part of the class will be learning type and benchmarks for regions. Sonoma’s Ferrari-Carano Fumé Blanc 2011 should be on every wine lover’s playlist for its creamy oak and lemon curd balance.

And Canalicchio di Sopra Brunello di Montalicino DOCG 2008 makes for a great lesson in elegant Brunello di Montalcino from a very good vintage.

A huge benefit of formal classes is tasting a series of wines beyond most peoples’ budgets. Tasting stunning, shining grower Champagnes, like Champagne Pierre Gimonnet & Fils ‘Cuis 1er Cru’ Blanc de Blancs NV Brut will make you forget you’re at ‘school’.

Ferrari Carano Fumé Blanc 2011 Canalicchio Di Sopra Brunello Di Montalcino 2008 Pierre Gimonnet & Fils Brut Blanc De Blancs 'cuis' 1er Cru Concha Y Toro Marques De Casa Concha Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 Hidalgo La Gitana Taylor Fladgate 10 Year Old Tawny Port

And another, oft overlooked benefit? Your savvy instructor can introduce you to very tasty wines at very tasty prices, like the brambled and cassis-clad Concha y Toro 2012 Marques de Casa Concha Cabernet Sauvignon, from the Maipo Valley, Chile.

Context is everything, and your instructor will paint a hazy picture of Jerez’s history when introducing you to the idiosyncratic Hidalgo La Gitana Manzanilla from Southern Spain’s Sanlucar De Barrameda.

Similarly, when you are tasting wines – like Taylor Fladgate 10 Year Old Tawny – from the oldest demarcated and regulated wine region in the and start to grasp that you’re learning, and tasting history all at once, you’ll want to stay a student forever.

Treve ~

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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20 under $20 in British Columbia (September)

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

BC Team Version 3

Anthony Gismondi

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.

Quails’ Gate Dry Riesling 2013 Bodegas Castano La Casona Old Vines Monastrell 2013 Santa Rita Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon 2011 Gabriel Meffre Plan De Dieu Saint Mapalis 2012 Blue Mountain Pinot Blanc 2013

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.

DJ Kearney

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.

The Royal Old Vine Steen Chenin Blanc 2013 Nobilo Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2013 D'arenberg The Hermit Crab Viognier Marsanne 2013 Crios De Susana Balbo Malbec 2013 Anderra Cabernet Sauvignon 2013

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.

Kris Pinot Grigio 2013Gehringer Brothers Private Reserve Riesling 2013Edna Valley Paragon Chardonnay 2011 CedarCreek Gewurztraminer 2013 Cellar Hand Punch Down Red 2012

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.

Treve Ring

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.

Bonterra Chardonnay 2012 Telmo Rodriguez Basa Blanco 2013 Bottega Vino Dei Poeti Prosecco Thornhaven Pinot Meunier 2012 Miguel Torres Sangre De Toro 2012

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.



Here’s a short-cut to the complete list searchable by store: 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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Fall in the vineyards, photos courtesy of Treve Ring

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20 under $20 in British Columbia (August 2014)

Monthly Picks from our West Coast Critic Team

Even though we’ve just made it through the National Wine Awards, our national judges are already preparing – mentally at least – for the The World Wine Awards of Canada (WWAC14), coming up in a few short weeks. These recognize the best wines SOLD in Canada anywhere, regardless of where they are from. They are judged in categories under $15, $15 to $25, and over $25 to a maximum of $50. What’s so fantastic about these awards is that we are judging Canada blind beside wines from France, Australia, Chile, Spain and beyond.

While we’re gearing up for Toronto mid-month, our BC critics have been reflecting on World Wine Awards from past years and anticipating what terrific values we might be seeing in our glasses in competition this year. 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

Looking back at 2013 “Sauvignon Blanc” results from the World Wine Awards, the top five labels were: Robert Mondavi 2011 Fume Blanc, Napa, Mapu 2011 Sauvignon Blanc, Chile, Giesen Sauvignon Blanc 2012, New Zealand, Arboleda 2013 Sauvignon Blanc, Chile and The Ned Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand. There’s no telling how the 2014 results will go but here are five of my current favourite white sauvignons to finish off the summer on the patio.

The Robert Mondavi Fumé Blanc 2012 is easily the best value sauvignon in the country.

No less impressive, save for it drab packaging and Don Max designation, is the Errazuriz Sauvignon Blanc Don Max Reserva 2013, it’s mix of citrus and dried herbs with enough passion fruit to give it a fruity underbelly. It is delicious.

Robert Mondavi Fumé Blanc 2012 Errazuriz Max Reserva Sauvignon Blanc 2013 Blue Mountain Sauvignon Blanc 2013 Nobilo Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2013 Leon De Tarapaca Sauvignon Blanc 2012

Locally, the Blue Mountain Sauvignon Blanc 2013 is a fresh, electric-style sauvignon with grassy, grapefruit, gooseberry flavours.

You can spell the Nobilo Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc Regional Collection 2013 c-l-a-s-s-i-c, with no shortage of passion fruit, melon and bell pepper notes.

Finally the big steal is León de Tarapacá Sauvignon Blanc 2012, the perfect luncheon-style sauvignon that is a kinder gentler version of New Zealand sauvignon blanc.

DJ Kearney

Wine’s greatest strength is its diversity – and it’s such an exciting time to be a wine lover when diversity can come at a bargain price.

At last year’s Awards the 2012 Monkey Bay Pinot Grigio absolutely shone in the Under $15 category. The 2013 is pretty darn tasty too, especially with a frosty chill and gourmet nachos.

One of my favourite regions to drink from is Austria and I’ve got my fingers crossed that this alpine, landlocked country will be well-represented at the August judging. The Domaine Wachau Gruner Veltliner Terraces 2012 is a crisply taut dry white with subtle fruit and a saline aspect that’s tasty with cheese, or brined then grilled prawns.

Monkey Bay Pinot Grigio 2013 Domäne Wachau Terraces Grüner Veltliner 2012 Trivento Amado Sur Torrontes Viognier 2013 Falernia Reserva Syrah 2010 The Wolftrap Syrah Mourvèdre Viognier 2013

Trivento’s Amado Sur Blanco 2013 is a dry and joyful blend of torrontés, viognier and chardonnay that demonstrates how fresh and lively Argentine whites can be.  It’s a great price that’s slashed to $12.99 in BC Liquor Stores until August 30th.

I admire the Falernia Syrah Reserva 2010 every time I encounter a bottle. From the 2010 earthquake vintage, it’s a moving wine to drink, and is showing black fruit, pepper and the sinewy qualities of cool-climate syrah. A runaway winner at last year’s Worlds, I sure hope to see more of Falernia’s range at the WWAC14.

Finally another staple of mine, especially when the charcoal grill is hot and smoky baby back ribs are getting their final burnish, bring on the Wolftrap Red 2013.

Rhys Pender MW

The Rhône valley always seems to feature well in the World competition, the soft and rich texture of both the red and white wines appealing to the judges. An impressive and well priced Rhône red tasted recently that is worth seeking out is the Cave De Rasteau La Domelière Rasteau 2010.

The WWAC judging always turns out some amazing value discoveries, wines you should buy by the case. There was no pinot blanc in the winners list last year but this variety does consistently offer excellent value. The Inniskillin Okanagan Pinot Blanc 2012 is a great crisp, fresh summer white.

Malbec is no stranger to the limelight in the value price points but most of it comes from Argentina. There is also serious, if slightly lighter and fresher, malbec being grown over the hills in Chile. A great value example is the Viu Manent 2012 Estate Collection Malbec from Colchagua Valley in Chile.

Cave De Rasteau La Domelière Rasteau 2010 Inniskillin Okanagan Pinot Blanc Reserve 2012 Viu Manent Estate Malbec 2012 Quails' Gate Chenin Blanc 2013 Tinhorn Creek Pinot Gris 2013

The WWAC is always a good chance for some of the lesser known grapes to get some attention. The Red Single Varieties and White Single Varieties categories see some exciting entries from all over the world. Chenin Blanc is not the rarest but surely not that well known either. A great example tasted recently is the Quails’ Gate 2013 Chenin Blanc. It is explosive, powerful and crunchy and great value.

Always a consistent performer is the Tinhorn Creek Vineyards Pinot Gris. The 2012 vintage was a judges’ choice at last years WWAC and it will be interesting to see how the 2013 vintage does. It is richer, rounder and more lush than previous vintages offering something a little different and will stand up well to mild curries, poultry and rich white fish.

Treve Ring

As I noted in my intro, the great thrill of the World Wine Awards is seeing how Canada stacks up blind against wines from all corners of the globe. One Canadian wine that excelled last year in its category was Wild Goose Mystic River Pinot Gris 2012, proving pinot gris needn’t be bland and banal or expensive.

Another Okanagan winery that held its weight (and earned its weight in medals) is the Gray Monk Riesling 2011, from a winery forging Germanic roads in BC for decades, and always for a reasonable price.

Wild Goose Pinot Gris Mystic River 2012 Gray Monk Riesling 2011 Campo Viejo Reserva 2008 Segura Viudas Brut Reserva Cava Sogrape Gazela Rosé

Outside of Canada, we always expect certain countries, and regions to fare well in the under $25 category. While many countries are strong here (Chile, Argentina, South Africa and Australia amongst them), right now Spain and Portugal’s values are second to none, and I think both countries will be big contenders in this year’s competition. Rioja’s Campo Viejo Reserva 2008 value is extremely hard to beat year over year, as the classic tempranillo and graciano blend is traditional and modern all at once.

Of course, Cava is practically equivalent to amazing value, and Segura Viudas Brut NV is top of the heap for taste, value, consistency and availability in any market, worldwide.

And I’m particularly keeping a close eye on Portugal this year, a country category buoyed by a very strong showing in B.C. This summer, there is often a bottle of Gazela Vinho Verde Rosé around, and with good reason. Easy, breezy, off-dry, interesting and pink – what more could you ask for in a $10 patio wine?


Follow along as WineAlign’s BC critics, as well as all of our national critics, tweet, facebook and instagram live daily from the World Wine Awards of Canada (#WWAC14) from August 18-22.

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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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 Reviews

Coldstream Hills Pinot Noir 2008