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Week-end wine recommendations
Photo credit: Maison Gabriel Meffre 

For your drinking pleasure on this chilly first week-end in December, I offer a mixed bag of under 20$* whites & reds! My apologies for the extended blogging hiatus…a gorgeous little baby named Charlie is my excuse. He has graciously agreed to start sleeping for more than 2 hours in a row, so I should be back to inundating the web with my wine musings shortly!

* Okay, I added one over 20$ red…but it is worth every single extra penny!

(What do VW, PW and LW mean?  Click on my wine scoring system to find out)

Laurus Côtes du Rhône Blanc 2015 – 93pts. VW

Viognier and Roussanne predominate in this highly textured, fragrant, full-bodied white. Aromas of white peach, yellow apple, ripe lemon and acacia feature on the nose. The medium weight palate offers a lovely freshness, concentrated stone fruit flavours and spicy oak nuances. The finish is long and layered.  This is an absolute steal at under 20$.

Where to buy: SAQ (19.95$), agent: Elixirs Vins & Spiritueux

Attems Pinot Grigio 2016, Venezia Giulia – 88pts. VW

This is a clear step up from the majority of thin, neutral Pinot Grigios flooding liquor store shelves these days.  Suprisingly fragrant, with yellow apple, quince and ripe lemon aromas. Crisp and dry on the palate, with a subtly creamy, layered texture, and interesting savoury nuances on the moderate length finish. Great apéritif wine.

Where to buy: SAQ (18.55$), agent: Mark Anthony Wine & Spirits

Gustave Lorentz “Réserve” Pinot Blanc 2016, Alsace – 89pts. VW

If you haven’t discovered the wines of Alsace yet, you are missing out! While not considered a “noble grape” in Alsace, well-made Pinot Blanc is often lively and rounded, with pretty orchard fruit aromatics, a subtle smokiness and an attractive, ever-so-slightly off-dry finish. Gustav Lorentz “Réserve” ticks all the boxes, with nice depth of ripe citrus and apple flavours on the smooth, medium weight palate. The finish is faintly honeyed, balancing the fresh acidity nicely.

Where to buy: LCBO (17.95$), agent: Amethyst Wines 

Casa Ferreirinha “Papa Figos” 2016, Douro – 89pts. VW

Inviting nose of ripe dark fruit and red cherries, with floral and spiced hints. Moderately firm on the palate, this medium bodied Douro blend displays lovely freshness, powdery tannins and a dry, lifted finish. A quarter of the blend is matured in used barrels, rounding out the structure and bringing a subtle earthiness to the mix. Fantastic value for this highly versatile, food friendly red!

Where to buy: SAQ (16.95$), agent: Authentic Wines & Spirits Quebec

Domaine Theulot-Juillot Mercurey Vieilles Vignes 2015 – 91pts. PW

If you love juicy, fragrant, silky textured red Burgundy (but have stopped buying them due to the scary prices these days) this wine is for you! The nose is subdued, with moderately complex earthy, red berry and tea leaf notes developping upon aeration. The palate, however, is wonderfully vibrant, brimming with tangy red fruit. Medium bodied, with well integrated spicy, toasty oak. Moderately firm, fine-grained tannins frame the dry, lengthy finish.

Where to buy: LCBO (26.95$)



SAQ Selection Rhône

I buy a lot of wine. A LOT. At the more affordable end of the spectrum, the LCBO tends to beat the SAQ in pricing so I do some shopping there whenever possible. But as I live in Montréal, the majority of my wine is bought at the SAQ. Also, they have a far superior range of French wines (surprise, surprise). So I was very much looking forward to the launch of the SAQ’s new loyality card “Inspire”. Visions of huge cost savings danced in my head. And then, finally, the big day came! I could sign up for my card. I raced to the SAQ website where a big INSPIRE banner ad informed me that “it would be crazy to miss out”. They didn’t have to tell me twice. I am not crazy! So I clicked on the link to find out that I will get a…wait for it…1$ rebate every time I spend 200$. Wow.

Here is the deal as I have understood it: for every 1$ spent, the SAQ awards you 5 points. Once you have accumulated 1000 points, you get a 1$ credit on your card. Granted, this is just the regular, every day deal and does not account for promotions whereby, for limited periods, you can get double points or more if you purchase certain, specified items. A glass half full, we-have-no-other-choice-but-to-shop-at-the-SAQ-so-just-need-to-take-what-we-can-get, type of person would surely tell me to stop complaining. Until now there wasn’t any sort of reward system for spending lots of dough at the liquor store. Comparatively, this is not bad.

So, while I am a little disappointed, I will acquiesce for now and hope that the “Inspire” program does finally live up to its promise. And, to be fair, the cost savings aspect is only one part of the overall concept. Using your card at purchase will allow the SAQ to catalogue your buying patterns and offer you personalized wine suggestions. They also plan to offer contests, events, workshops and all sorts of other fun stuff. I suppose, if I were a gracious sort of person, I would say that this sounds alright. But my stubborn side still thinks that 200$ for a 1$ discount seems a little uninspiring.