Your Summer Shopping Guide
Light and lively, bright and juicy, here are 20 wines that provide a lot of refreshment for not a lot of money.
You can find complete critic reviews and scores by clicking on any of the highlighted wine names or bottle images below
Let’s not rush the summer away, there are still a few weeks left to linger over those sunsets and simply relax before the madness of September arrives. To get you started the Leitz Dragonstone Riesling Kabinett 2014 will jump start any street party with its juicy, lively acidity and fresh orchard fruit flavours.
Similar in style is the Meyer Gewurztraminer 2014 but its litchi fruit and orange flavours make it a fine match for vegetarian dishes.
The folks at Spierhead are best known for their pinot noir but the Spierhead Pinot Gris Golden Retreat Vineyard 2015 is a delicious citrus, red apple-scented affair – almost a riesling in pinot gris clothing. The perfect weekend patio white.
If you are detecting a pattern here, remember it’s summer and I don’t like cheap sweet red wines. One my favourite Quails’ Gate party wines is the Quails’ Gate Chasselas – Pinot Blanc – Pinot Gris 2015. Orchard fruits, lime rind and the mysterious wet stone minerality call out a pizza off the grill.
Finally, the Seven Terraces Sauvignon Blanc 2015 is a passion fruit and jalapeño flavour bomb you can drink tonight – think a corn and bean salad. I promise to find some reds next time out. Enjoy the last weeks of summer.
Rhys Pender MW
I’ve picked a real mixed bag of wines this month that shows the diversity of place and grape you can get for your $20. First is a pair of Chardonnay wines from Australia and California. The Lindeman’s Bin 65 2015 vintage is the best in a long while for this good value wine. There is nice fruit but also some freshness making it very drinkable and at a great price.
The second Chardonnay is the Chateau St Jean 2014 Chardonnay from Sonoma in California. It is Californian in its generosity but keeps a nice fresh crispness.
Another white that I recently enjoyed is the Bartier Bros Lone Pine Vineyard Gewurztraminer 2014. Many find gewurz too pungent, thick and sweet but this one will surprise you with its freshness, dryness and elegance.
A wine that always delivers good value for me is the Gabbiano Chianti. The 2014 vintage is very savoury and meaty with lots of dried herbs, leather and spice. A lot of interesting flavour for under $15 and a real go to for something savoury for the BBQ.
It might be rosé season all year but I seem to drink even more of it in the summer. A good BC example is the River Stone Malbec Rosé 2015. It is a pretty big, intense, dark rosé and quite delicious.
A nostalgic tour of some of my favourite dependable deals had me tasting whites like Cono Sur Bicicleta Viognier 2015, humming with apricot and zesty citrus flavours. For just 10 bucks, it’s a perennial killer value.
So is the excellent Emiliana Adobe Chardonnay Reserva Orgánico 2015, made from organic fruit, just like Cono Sur.
An excellent red standby since 1970 is La Vieille Ferme Ventoux 2015, a chewy blend ready to jump into action with grilled sausages.
Or if a meatball pizza is blistering on my grill (yes, you can bbq pizza), then I’ll give Ricossa Barbera d’Asti Superiore 2012 a chill, and splash into a chunky tumbler. Fresh and juicy, it’s a true steal for under 15 bucks.
If big mouthfeel and sweet/spicy fruit is called for, Ravenswood Vintner’s Blend 2014 will do nicely. All great deals, all widely available, and all delicious.
Always on the hunt for new great fizz, I was thrilled to discover the Dibon Brut Reserve Cava this month. Bright, fresh and zippy, with earthy fennel, almond, pear skin, peach pit, heady brioche and meyer lemon brightened with brisk acidity makes for a lovely turn from the norm in this well-priced sparkler.
Hands down, one of BC’s top values for quality year over year is Blue Mountain Vineyards, and their new 2015 Pinot Blanc reinforces this. Entirely wild ferment this year, the thirty-year-old estate vines hold their own against the challenging warm 2015 vintage with ripe yellow apple, florals and white peach lined with apricot fuzz and spices.
From one BC Blue to another, the 2015 Blue Grouse Rosé from Cowichan Valley rested on skins for eighteen hours, giving fine, lithe tannins to quenching cranberry and juicy strawberry fruit. Finishes crisp and bright.
I am a huge fan of chenin blanc, South Africa, and killer values, and the Bees Knees Chenin Blanc Viognier 2015 scores the triad. Ripe pear, peach and melon carry this friendly and fuller Western Cape white before white florals, honeysuckle and fine spice take over on the waxy palate.
Sometimes you just need a little sweet thing. Santero Asti Dolce is a mid-sweet fizz to open brunch or close afternoon tea, with frothy bubbles cut with a pithy citrus and scented with white honey. With only 7.5% alcohol, this is an attractive choice for many reasons.
WineAlign in BC
In addition to our popular 20 Under $20 shopping guide, we publish the monthly Critics’ Picks report which highlights a dozen of our favourites from the last month (at any price point), as well as Rhys Pender’s BC Wine Report, a look at all things in the BC Wine Industry. Treve Ring pens a wandering wine column in Treve’s Travels, capturing her thoughts and tastes from the road. Lastly, Anthony Gismondi closes out the month with his Final Blend column – an expert insight into wine culture and trends, honed by more than 25 years experience as an influential critic.
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 60 days to see new reviews. Premium membership has its privileges; like first access to great wines!