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Au diable la dépense

Hors des sentiers battus
par Marc Chapleau

Marc Chapleau

Marc Chapleau

On est le 19 décembre — peut-être le 20 voire le 21, si vous avez choisi de lire ce texte avec un peu de retard.

Pas grave. L’important, c’est que nous sommes vous et moi, au moment où l’on se parle, en plein temps des Fêtes. Or difficile d’y couper : Noël, le Jour de l’an et tout le tralala, ça rime avec cadeau. Ce qui n’empêche pas de penser d’abord à soi…

En ce sens bien précis : que vais-je donc pouvoir m’offrir et ouvrir comme gros canons, durant les nombreux bons gueuletons qu’on va se faire au cours des deux prochaines semaines ?

Car la vraie féérie, le moment magique entre tous, c’est quand on passe en revue le contenu de sa cave personnelle à la recherche des perles rares qu’il s’agira, les soirs venus, de profaner…

Dans mon cas, cela signifiait, jusqu’à voilà quelques années, sortir ma liste de cave méthodiquement consignée sur papier. Je la faisais à l’ordi, pas à la mitaine, ne vous moquez pas. D’ailleurs, je suis à ce point à jour et de mon temps que j’ai même passé par-dessus l’étape de Cellar Tracker et autres logiciels de gestion de cave : j’achète, je stocke et je n’enregistre strictement plus rien, par écrit ou électroniquement.

Je dois donc descendre à la cave pour savoir ce que j’ai encore de disponible et qui pourrait être bon à boire.

Photo Le Hobbit : la Désolation de Smaug

C’est un petit réduit, sous un escalier, sans climatisation assistée, ni système antivibrations, ni soupirail pour la ventilation. (Bref tout ce qu’il ne faut pas faire pour bien conserver ses vins, à en croire les pseudo-conseils prodigués un peu partout dans la sphère viticole.)

Une fois à l’intérieur, j’allume, je tasse un peu l’humidificateur –ma seule concession à la technologie et à l’orthodoxie, et encore, l’hiver seulement –, et je m’accroupis.

Puis là, je contemple mon or. Comme Séraphin, comme Scrooge, comme Gollum.

« Mes petits trésors adorés ! Mes précieux ! »

Chaque bouteille contient en effet bien plus que du vin. À travers chacune, alors que je suis là le cul par terre dans les profondeurs de mon sous-sol, j’entrevois l’occasion, j’anticipe le moment et, surtout, le goût que le liquide devrait avoir, les odeurs qu’il devrait exhaler, la qualité de son étoffe, de sa texture.

Ça va même plus loin encore, car j’anticipe également les réactions des amis, de ma blonde, de mes fils, des autres convives avec qui la ou les précieuses seront partagées.

Disons le tout net : plus que jamais, à Noël, bon vin rime avec partage. Je sais, c’est cucul comme énoncé. Mais hé ! c’est vraiment comme ça.

De toute manière, voici une exhortation qui sonnera moins cliché : ouvrez ces jours-ci ce qu’il vous plaira, peu importe que le vin que vous ayez en tête soit prêt à boire ou non, et peu importe si vous vous apprêtez à commettre, comme on dit, un infanticide…

En cette fin d’année, il n’y a pas de logique qui tienne. Il faut se faire plaisir et s’éclater — on aura ensuite tout 2015 pour le regretter, anyway.

À boire, aubergiste !

Parmi les canons que, perso, je prévois ouvrir prochainement, Château Margaux 2004. Je vous en parlerai dans mon texte qui sera publié le 2 janvier, lendemain de veille — pardon ! — lendemain du Jour de l’an.

En attendant, pour ceux et celles qui n’ont pas de réserve personnelle ou qui trouve que j’exagère et que je me goure et qui, donc, préfèrent acheter des vins plutôt que gaspiller les leurs, voici quelques belles bouteilles disponibles à la SAQ et au très bon rapport qualité-prix — ce qui ne veut bien sûr pas dire que certaines ne sont pas un peu dispendieuses.

Champagne Jacquart Brut Mosaïque – À 45 $, l’un des meilleurs achats à faire en champagne. Un vin ample et élégant, qui se laisse dangereusement boire tout seul.

Allegrini Amarone 2009 – Un rouge de Vénétie puissant et chaleureux, qui ponctuera admirablement les fins de repas.

Frescobaldi Brunello di Montalcino Castelgiocondo 2009  – De Toscane, un rouge fin et savoureux, qui vaut chacun des 51 $ qu’on en demande.

Jacquart Mosaïque Brut ChampagneAllegrini Amarone Della Valpolicella Classico 2009Frescobaldi Castelgiocondo 2009Aurelio Settimo Barolo 2006Le Serre Nuove dell'Ornellaia 2012

Aurelio Settimo Barolo 2006 – La couleur est pâle et orangée, mais le vin, même si seulement mi-corsé, déborde d’autorité. Un barolo tout à fait à point !

Le Serre Nuove 2012 dell’Ornellaia – Miam! Un rouge toscan aux accents bordelais (mêmes cépages que dans cette région française), serré et concentré.

Château Pesquié Artémia 2010  – L’appellation Ventoux ne court pas les rues, si bien qu’on pourrait hésiter avant de débourser 40 quelques dollars pour ce vin. Erreur ! Costaud et corsé, ce rouge du Rhône aura tôt fait d’emporter l’adhésion de tous, à table.

Domaine de Beaurenard Châteaneuf-du-Pape 2010 – Quel beau vin ! Quelles bonnes odeurs de mûre et de réglisse ! Du corps par ailleurs, et tout plein de fraîcheur.

Château Pesquié Artemia 2010Domaine De Beaurenard Châteauneuf du Pape 2010Joseph Mellot La Chatellenie Sancerre 2013M. Chapoutier Chante Alouette Hermitage Blanc 2012

Joseph Mellot Sancerre La Chatellenie 2013  – On dirait que ce sancerre a vu le bois (séjour en barrique), mais c’est plutôt son terroir de silex qui lui donne ce bon goût fumé. Un très bon blanc de la Loire vif et persistant.

Chapoutier Chante-Alouette Hermitage Blanc 2012  – Le prix est corsé (77 $) mais la qualité est exemplaire. Un blanc du Rhône Nord riche et puissant, à l’acidité par ailleurs bien présente. Un bon candidat pour les viandes blanches, ainsi que pour le cellier (horizon 2018-2020).

Voilà, vous avez là amplement de quoi vous amuser.

Joyeuses fêtes, groupe !

Marc

Note de la rédaction: vous pouvez lire les commentaires de dégustation complets en cliquant sur les noms de vins, les photos de bouteilles ou les liens mis en surbrillance. Les abonnés payants à Chacun son vin ont accès à toutes les critiques dès leur mise en ligne. Les utilisateurs inscrits doivent attendre 30 jours après leur parution pour les lire. L’adhésion a ses privilèges ; parmi ceux-ci, un accès direct à de bons vins !

Photo “Le Hobbit : la Désolation de Smaug”


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12 Reds for the Christmas Crunch

By David Lawrason

David Lawrason

David Lawrason

Well we can’t shorten the LCBO cashier line-ups for you, but WineAlign can reduce the time you spend in the store by helping you create your shopping list before you leave home. For weeks now we have been guiding you through your Holiday wine purchasing, and I suspect that many of you have already tuned in and done your shopping. The annual surge in traffic on WineAlign attests to that (we are having a banner year!). We are also welcoming dozens of new members every day. So if you are just joining us, here is what we have covered off in recent weeks.

Back in November, VINTAGES released its “finest” big guns, and we picked our faves, most of which will have evaporated from the shelves by now. From the last, huge December 6th release, we highlighted several whites, reds and fortifieds to add to your gift list. Earlier this week Steve Thurlow presented an intriguing selection of less expensive LCBO wines for The Five Days of Christmas, and last week Sara d’Amato guided you to VINTAGES recommendations for the various Personalities on your list. On December 23 watch for John Szabo’s annual Fizz Guide on the run up to New Years.

Today I simply want to present a varied selection of 12 international reds. They should prove to be horizon-expanding for those getting into wine. They are of excellent quality (over 90 points); good value (under $50) and still stocked in decent quantities (about 1000 bottles in inventory as of December 17). It’s up to you of course to decide why, which and how many you select: whether a single bottle for stuffing a stocking, a pair packaged as a host/hostess gift, a six-bottle splurge on wines for entertaining, or a generous twelve pack to seed the cellar of a new collector.

European Reds

Domaine Les Yeuses Les Épices Syrah 2012

Confidences De Prieuré Lichine 2010

Domaine De Vieux Télégraphe 2012 TélégrammeDomaine De Vieux Télégraphe Télégramme Châteauneuf Du Pape 2012, Châteauneuf Du Pape, Rhone Valley, France ($49.95) – This is the second wine of Vieux Télégraphe the flagship of the meticulous Brunier family. It is refined and engaging, a great gift for the wine fancier, but no harm done if it’s opened and decanted over the holidays.

Confidences De Prieuré Lichine 2010, Margaux, Bordeaux, France ($48.95) – From a great Bordeaux vintage that has been thrilling me in recent months, this is second wine of Chateau Prieuré-Lichine, the producer of a very refined cab-merlot based blend in the Margaux appellation.  It’s the ideal introduction to the seamlessness that can make Bordeaux very special. Ideal inspiration for the start-up cellar.

Domaine Les Yeuses 2012 Les Épices Syrah, Languedoc-Roussillon, France ($15.95) – This ebullient peppery syrah from the south of France is so well priced, you might consider gifting a six-pack as an instant “house wine” stock-up. Great for Mediterranean cuisine, and that includes pizza.

Sori' Paitin Barbaresco 2010

Ontanon Gran Reserva 2001

Tenuta Sette Ponti 2011 CrognoloTenuta Sette Ponti Crognolo 2011, Tuscany, Italy ($34.95) – This is a very well made, mid-weight red that walks that fine line between Tuscan elegance and Italian heart. It’s a slightly rugged sangiovese buffed by a small proportion of cabernet and merlot, aged in new French oak. A fine specimen for those setting off to explore/cellar higher end Italian reds.

Ontanon 2001 Gran Reserva, Rioja, Spain ($39.95) – In my Dec 6 newsletter I focused on the joys of drinking older wines over the holidays. This is another that is ready to go, but will still age another five years. Spanish Rioja still leads the world in producing mature table ready reds you can buy off the shelf.

Sori’ Paitin 2010 Barbaresco, Piedmont, Italy ($41.95) – At some point every wine fan gets enthused about the gritty nebbiolo-based reds of Barolo and Barbaresco in northwest Italy. I tend to gravitate to the slightly lighter, earlier evolving Barbarescos, and this is a fine example from a great year. Needs ageing for about three years, or three hours aeration in a decanter.

New World

Calera Pinot Noir 2012

Wynns Coonawarra Estate Black Label Cabernet Sauvignon 2012

Domaine Tournon 2012 Shay’s Flat Vineyard ShirazDomaine Tournon Shay's Flat Vineyard Shiraz 2012, Pyrenees, Victoria, Australia ($37.95) – From a rugged outpost of granitic grape-growing 200km northwest of Melbourne comes a biodynamic shiraz by Michel Chapoutier, a leader in biodynamics in Rhone Valley. Click to read more about this French-styled syrah with outback ruggedness.

Wynns 2012 Coonawarra Estate Black Label Cabernet Sauvignon, Coonawarra, South Australia ($27.95) – Coonawarra is among my top three go-to regions in the world for cabernet sauvignon; just cool enough to showcase the herbaceous side of cabernet yet warm enough to capture classic blackcurrant fruit. Winemaker Sue Hodder’s sensibilities have drawn a fine portrait, at a very reasonable price.

Calera 2012 Pinot Noir, Central Coast, California ($33.95) – California has come a long way with pinot noir, guided by Josh Jensen’s pioneering work in the terrain of the Central Coast. This generous wine weaves Burgundian rusticity and California fruit ripeness, and is just plain delicious. Could grace your Christmas bird.

Frei Brothers Reserve Zinfandel 2012

Bodega Noemía A Lisa 2012

Hidden Bench 2010 Terroir Caché Meritage, Beamsville BenchHidden Bench Terroir Caché Meritage 2010, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario ($32.80) – Since 2005 Harald Thiel and his winemakers have been honing what is becoming one of the top Bordeaux-inspired red blends in Ontario (out of 100s that try this combo with very mixed success). I served it blind in a recent WSET class in Montreal, where a student who professed never to have found a Niagara red she liked, picked it as her favourite of the afternoon. Go to school here.

Bodega 2012 Noemía A Lisa, Patagonia, Argentina ($25.95) – From way off the beaten track, in the middle of scrub-infested nowhere in southern Argentina, this biodynamically grown malbec is nothing like those you might have had from Mendoza. It’s vibrant, funky, a bit meaty and shows some great finesse and depth for the money.

Frei Brothers 2012 Reserve Zinfandel, Dry Creek Valley, California, USA  ($24.95) – One of my great peeves of 2014 is the confection-ization of California red wines – and red zinfandel in particular. So this honest to goodness rendition of the California’s heritage grape came as a relief. I chalk it up to the Gallo’s deep roots among the old zin vines of the Dry Creek Valley. This is delicious.

Finally, if you just don’t have time to get out there to shop, you can always purchase a WineAlign gift certificate, and be responsible for turning your friends and family on to a lifetime of drinking better wine. Remember again to check in next week for The Fizz Report, and until then I hope you enjoy the run up to Christmas and all the anticipation.

David Lawrason
VP of Wine

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!


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A simple resolution for 2015

The Caveman Speaks
By Bill Zacharkiw

Bill Zacharkiw

Bill Zacharkiw

It’s not December 31 quite yet but it is never too early to make a few resolutions. If you are looking for a bit of inspiration, and want to do something good for the wine industry, then here’s a suggestion as to how you can make the wine world a better place.

Be courageous – choose indigenous grapes.

By indigenous grapes I mean grape varieties that have a history firmly entrenched in a particular region, having been grown there for a long period of time. While travelling the world’s wine regions over the last few years, I have seen old vine sylvaner in Alsace ripped out to make room for pinot gris. One hundred year old carignan in the Languedoc replaced with syrah. I could go on but the list is long and littered with dead vines.

While in some cases replacing the vines made sense, and made for better wine, in most cases it was simply a question of economics. Grape growers can get more money with well-known grapes, even if they are less well suited to that climate and soil type.

The reason they are doing this is because consumers, especially in North America, tend to drink the same grape varieties – cabernet sauvignon, chardonnay etc… And this makes me sad. With each indigenous varietal that is replaced, another thread of the wonderfully complex tapestry that is the world’s wine culture becomes a touch less colourful (read – the wines are less good.)

In many wine producing countries, people tend to drink locally as opposed to internationally. They drink wines from their own region, or if they branch out, from their own country. We are fortunate here in Canada to have a choice of wines from all over the world.

But with choice comes responsibility. Wine stores, whether they be government controlled monopolies or privately owned, might take a chance on a wine once but if it doesn’t sell, the wine will not be reordered.

So this leads me to you, the wine lover.

These wines might be made with unfamiliar grapes, or come from places you have never heard of, but that’s what so interesting about wine. Will you like everything? Not necessarily, but exposing your palate to different textures, flavours and aromas will merely expand your wine horizons. And my bet is that you will discover wines that you absolutely love.

The tide is starting to turn. In many of these regions, especially with younger winemakers, they are looking at their own indigenous varieties with more respect. I have seen winemakers searching out these old vines and protecting them rather than replanting them. They have started to understand that these grapes are not only part of their heritage, but what makes them distinctive.

So in 2015, forsake the familiar and make one out of every three bottles you buy something you’ve never tried before. Give the wine a chance. Try and understand it. You will be helping the wine industry, and you will make yourself a better and more knowledgeable drinker.

If you need some suggestions, then here are a few wines currently available in BC, Ontario or Quebec that you can try. As I mentioned sylvaner, try the 2011 from René Muré. Works as an exceptional aperitif as well as with lighter seafood. Another white in a similar vein comes from Greece and Domaine Gerovassiliou. The 2013 Assyrtiko/Malagousia is a beautiful example two indigenous grapes working hand in hand. The rare freisa grape gets a solo show in the juicy, earthy tobacco leaf layered Borgogno Langhe 2012 Freisa from Piedmonte. Pair with charcuterie and sip throughout the night. Of course, if you really want to support indigenous wines, pick up a bottle of sherry and support not only native grapes, but method as well. Bodegas Hidalgo La Gitana, a Manzanilla from Sanlucar De Barrameda is 100% palomino fino grape, and a bone dry tangy, salty, nutty sipper to signal festivities.

René Muré Sylvaner 2011 Domaine Gerovassiliou White 2013 Borgogno Langhe Freisa 2012 La Gitana Manzanilla

Looking for a really interesting white with body to spare? Elisabetta Foradori’s 2012 Manzoni Bianco will satisfy the most curious white wine drinker. Made with extended skin contact, which is unusual for white wines, it combines body and aromatics like few wines I have tasted this year. Similarly, Mastroberardino’s 2012 Greco Di Tufo showcases the stony, waxy power of the greco grape, by way of the volcanic soils throughout Campania. And Telmo Rodriguez 2013 Basa Blanco combines the familiar – sauvignon blanc – with the curious – verdejo and viura – in this herbal, citrus-driven, linear white.

Foradori Fontanasanta Manzoni 2012 Mastroberardino Greco Di Tufo 2012 Telmo Rodriguez Basa Blanco 2013

On the red side, the choice for indigenous grapes is just as interesting. Hailing from the region of Marcillac in France’s southwest, Lionel Osmin’s 2012 Mansois offers up delicate fruit and lots of exotic spice with fine, razor-sharp tannins.

One of my favourite reds from the past year is Arianna Occhipinti’s SP68. From Sicily’s DOCG appellation of Cerasuolo di Vittoria, it combines delicate fruit with beautiful acidity. Sicilian Beaujolais!

Marcillac Mansois 2012 Occhipinti S P 68 2013 Quinta Da Pellada Àlvaro Castro Reserva 2011 Tilenus Envejecido En Roble Mencía 2010

And if you are looking for a bigger red wine, try a blend of alfrocheiro, tinta roriz and touriga national. Alvaro Castro’s 2011 Dao is a beautiful example of how the region can produce finessed, yet very powerful wines. Rustic winter stews and casseroles were made to be served alongside a wine like Tilenus 2010 Envejecido En Roble, from Bierzo, Spain. The mencia grape’s wild and succulent black fruit and firm tannins might become a new cold weather favourite.

Happy holidays and new year folks!

Bill

“There’s enjoyment to be had of a glass of wine without making it a fetish.” – Frank Prial

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 critic’s reviews immediately. Non-paid users wait 60 days to see new reviews. Membership has its privileges; like first access to great wines!


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British Columbia Critics’ Picks December 2014

Supersized Sparkling Special

One of the things we love to do at WineAlign is to drink sparkling wine at every opportunity we get and I can honestly say, we never really get bored doing it. When you taste thousands of wines a year (somebody has to do it) you crave the freshness and acidity that is the hallmark of most great sparkling wines just to keep your palate sharp. Yet even if they are soft and perhaps slightly sweet à la prosecco, or pink and fizzy a la rosé the more you taste the more you come to really appreciate what is one of the most diverse categories of wines made in the world. So in the spirit of the holidays we’ve gifted you with a supersized Sparkling Special, with some of our favourite festive fizzes selected from hundreds of picks we tasted this year from under $15 to well over $200.

Cheers,
Anthony

BC Team Version 3

Anthony Gismondi

One of the great benefits of bubbles is sparkling wine’s ability to make most any dish it is served with taste better. How can you beat that? All you have to do is be ready and by that we mean keep a couple of bottles of your favourites in the refrigerator chilled and ready to go.

The Parés Baltà Cava Brut, is my go-to Spanish sparkler. So sophisticated and clean, it works with most foods and the grapes are 100 percent organically grown. Green never tasted so good.

Many of you will know the quality and consistency of Blue Mountain Brut NV, but to really experience the best of BC sparkling wine you have to try the Blue Mountain Blanc de Blancs R.D. 2007. Like the 2006, this one hundred percent chardonnay is pure elegance and a wonderful expression of less is more. Cheese please.

A delightful surprise from Germany this year is the Selbach-Oster Riesling Brut 2011. Expect crunchy, crisp, Mosel fruit that runs from the front of the glass to back and will have your guests lining up for more. You can pair this with oysters, cheese straws, sashimi and more.

Parés Baltà Cava Brut Blue Mountain Blanc De Blancs R.D. 2007 Selbach Oster Riesling Brut 2011 Jansz Premium Cuvée

The current star of Oz bubble in the market is the Jansz Premium Cuvée N/V from Tasmania. We love its creamy textures and bright fruit.  A compelling drink for the price.

The prosecco prance is waning a bit but there is always room for the best and the Mionetto Il Moscato N/V is one of them. Well balanced and refreshing its peach flavours and baked apple mineral fruit are all in harmony with the bubbles. We love the crown cap.

A California classic and all class is the Schramsberg Blanc de Blancs Brut 2009. Rich but austere it’s as close to champagne as it gets at half the price.

Mionetto Il Moscato Schramsberg Blanc De Blancs Brut 2009 Bollinger Special Cuvée Brut Champagne Möet & Chandon Dom Pérignon Vintage Brut Champagne 2004

Speaking of Champagne we finish with two stars. The Bollinger Special Cuvée N/V  is no ordinary multi-vintage champagne with its high percentage of reserve wines. Complex and powerful it is a spectacular food wine from charcuterie to chicken or sashimi.

Finally perhaps for New Year’s we suggest the Champagne Dom Pérignon 2004. Winemaker Richard Geoffrey, never at a loss for the perfect words to describe his wine, has called the ’04 Dom Pérignon ‘tactile, dark and chiselled’. In the glass this wine is all serious a brooding sparkler whose lees and sparkle have yet to fully knit into what will surely be one of the great seamless Dom’s of the decade if not the first half of the decade. Happy New Year, for sure.

DJ Kearney

Henkell Riesling Dry Les Mesnil Grand Cru Blanc De Blancs Brut Champagne Henriot Brut Souverain ChampagneThere’s nothing like bubbly to get the heart thumping, the eyes twinkling and the appetite fully stimulated. Obviously famous for toasting special moments and milestones, sparkling wines also happen to be some of the most adept and deserving partners for food. I posit that we should drink sparkling more often for this reason alone – not just when a major celebration demands it.

For moments when I crave champagne, my two must-have’s are Henriot Brut Souverain and Le Mesnil’s unbeatable value Grand Cru Blanc de Blancs, both non-vintage wines that over-deliver on price, complexity and deliciousness.  I love the Henriot with briney oyster bisque and Le Mesnil with Dungeness crab eggs Benny.

For a crowd when lots of jolly fizz is needed, try the Dry Riesling from Henkell – it’s full of fresh and soft citrus appeal. Give it a frosty chill and serve as a welcome wine to break the ice and spark conversation.

Two more sparklers I find indispensable with food are both crémants. The surprisingly complex Paul Zinck Cremant d’Alsace – with some tender cheesy gougères , and Jean Bourdy Cremant de Jura is a minerally marvel paired with rustic pâté de champagne or frico.

Paul Zinck Cremant d’Alsace Jean Bourdy Cremant du Jura Bottega Gold Brut Prosecco Benjamin Bridge Nova Scotia Brut 2009

Finally two wines that dazzle for different reasons. The gleaming bowling pin bottle of Bottega Gold Prosecco, and the astonishing Benjamin Bridge Brut 2009 that elevates Nova Scotian hybrids to unheard of heights. It’s bubble or nothing for me this Christmas.

Rhys Pender MW

Bubbly should be consumed throughout the year, but over the Christmas holidays there seems to be many more great excuses to pop a cork.

At this time of year it is always worth spending some money on a bottle or two of delicious Champagne. There are many big Champagne brands out there but just because they are Champagne doesn’t mean they are all equally good. For me, one of the best and most consistently excellent from year to year is the Piper-Heidsieck Brut. Delicious for a $60 splurge. For a few more dollars you can get into some really interesting grower Champagne. Biodynamic, wild yeasts, 100% Pinot Noir, neutral oak and just delicious is the Marie-Courtin 2007 Efflorescence Extra Brut.

BC is stepping up its game when it comes to bubbly production with more and more traditional method wines coming on to the market and they are often a lot less expensive than Champagne. Many wines don’t see long lees aging but they have plenty of flavour, freshness and the trademark BC acidity. Try the Bella 2013 Westbank Sparkling Rosé for a good crisp example to help with those afternoon snacks with family and friends.

Piper Heidsieck Brut Marie Courtin Efflorescence Extra Brut Pinot Noir 2007 Bella 2013 Westbank Sparkling Rosé Summerhill Pyramid Winery Cipes Blanc De Noir 2008 Benjamin Bridge Nova Scotia Brut 2009Segura Viudas Brut Reserva Cava

For a BC bubbly with a little more toastiness from long lees aging, try the Summerhill Pyramid Winery Cipes Blanc De Noir 2008. It is quite complex and interesting and richer in style, perfect with richer canapés.

From the other side of Canada, exciting things are happening with bubbly in Nova Scotia. Benjamin Bridge is leading the way. The 2009 Brut has plenty of verve and intensity and complexity from a good few years of age. Think hybrid grapes can’t make good wine? This will change your mind.

With people dropping in over the holidays you should always have some bubbly on hand to greet them. After all, it is the festive season. The Segura Viudas Brut Reserva is good wine and the price is right so you can pour generously without breaking the bank. Go out and buy a case now. You won’t be disappointed.

Treve Ring

Domaine Carneros Brut 2008 No Unauthorized Reproduction @Jason DziverThose who know me can well attest to the fact I’m an avowed sparkling wine drinker. There are always bubbles chilling in my fridge, I have a secret stash (shh) hidden for impromptu celebrations (Tuesday!) and I’ve been known to pair sparkling wine to BBQ pork chops (a delight). My heart is in Champagne; for me, Champagne is not just the pinnacle of the sparkling world, but the pinnacle of the wine world. That said, my favourite thing about sparkling wine is its diversity; across region, grape and method, there is a style to fit every personality, budget, and yes – food.

From the west coast, one of the most singular sparklers is Road 13 Vineyards Sparkling Chenin 2011, with its racing acidity, green fig, green apple and chalk notes, it’s an ideal wine to crack (crown cap) with west coast oysters.

Our neighbours to the south, in California, know a bit about wine. And Domaine Carneros knows much more than a bit about sparkling wine. The Carneros winery was founded by Champagne Taittinger and holds close ties with the illustrious Champagne house today. Pick up the Domaine Carneros Brut 2008 for Champagne’s tradition, at half the price.

One huge benefit about the prosecco boom is that consumers are discovering there is more than one style, and importers are responding. I’ve noticed quite a few new interesting proseccos on our market recently, including the well priced, fuller bodied Terre Prosecco Extra Dry, the elegant, crisp and fresh Vaporetto Prosecco Brut and the generous, stylish Giusti Prosecco Brut. ‘Tis the season for brunching!

Terre Prosecco Extra DryVaporetto Prosecco Brut Giusti Prosecco Brut Lini 910 Labrusca Lambrusco Rosso Pierre Paillard Grand Cru Brut Rosé Champagne

It’s also the season for celebrating with friends. The Lini 910 Lambrusco is a jolly red hue, fruity and bright, and a great casual pour with pizza or cranberry decked poultry.

Sometimes, when the situation calls for Champagne, nothing else will do. I recommend picking up Champagne Pierre Paillard Grand Cru Brut Rosé NV, an elegant, subtly fruited grower Champagne, ideal for cheersing any festivities or for gifting to that special (lucky) someone.

About the BC Critics’ Picks ~

Our monthly BC 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 through BCLDB or VQA stores. All are currently available for sale in BC.

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!


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Beringer - Holiday the California Way


Vancouver Wine Festival

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On the Five Days of Christmas…

by Steve Thurlow

Steve Thurlow

Steve Thurlow

I know there are supposed to be Twelve Days of Christmas and one’s true love sends you a partridge in a pear tree, among other bizarre gifts, but actually this year most of us will only be feasting for a mere five days starting on Christmas Eve. So I put my mind to imagining not which gifts I would send but which wines I would be buying for these five special days. After checking my current Top 50 Best Value wines at LCBO I chose two for each day, all under $15. So here we go:

On Christmas Eve I imagine many will be giving or attending parties with nibbles, hors d’oeuvres, cheese plates, sausage rolls and the like. This calls for easy drinking, lively fresh wines. Cono Sur Bicicleta 2014 Viognier (9.95) is a delicious aromatic fresh white from Chile with lots of flavour and it is probably the best value white wine at the LCBO. For a red selection, let me recommend Cusumano Syrah 2013 ($11.95) from Sicily. It is a vibrant pure cool climate syrah with a fragrant nose and lots of flavour, mild tannin and it comes with a glass stopper, so there’s no chance of a corked wine!

Cono Sur Bicicleta Viognier 2014 Cusumano Syrah 2013 Lustau Solera Reserva Dry Amontillado Los Arcos Errazuriz Estate Series Merlot 2012

Roast turkey will be on the menu for Christmas Day Dinner in many homes. It is often a rich meal with the turkey and stuffing served with a rich thick brown gravy. It is tough to find a white wine for this, however dry aged fortified whites from Jerez in Spain are usually up to the task. Try Lustau Solera Reserva Dry Amontillado Los Arcos ($14.85). It is a very complex powerful wine with a rich intensely flavoured palate that lingers forever. It comes with 18.5% alcohol yet it’s finely balanced and is fantastic value. You will find it in the fortified wine section near the ports. Errazuriz Estate Series 2012 Merlot ($9.95) from Chile would be another good choice for this occasion. It’s midweight and very fruity with mild tannin and some nice spicy complexity.

Luccarelli Primitivo 2013 Trapiche Broquel Malbec 2012On Boxing Day we traditionally organize a beef dish for the main meal. So it’s time for some full-bodied reds. Trapiche Broquel 2012 Malbec 2012 ($14.95) has lots of charm, a gorgeous nose, great depth of flavour and excellent length and it is fantastic value. Another choice could be Luccarelli 2013 Primitivo from Puglia in the south of Italy, where Primitivo is the local name for Zinfandel. This opaque purple wine comes with ripe brambly aromas and flavours with some mild tannin and a long fruity finish.

Saturday is often the day for leftovers from the turkey dinner. I often conjure up a risotto with turkey meat and some of the vegetables, stuffing and sauces that are in the fridge. The Wolftrap White 2013 ($13.95 plus 5BAMs) is a rich delicious wine from South Africa and, though fun to drink on its own, will nicely match such a rich risotto. Pessoa Da Vinha 2010 Reserva Douro ($12.30 plus 5BAMs) from Portugal would be a great red wine for the same dish. It is exceptional value for a fruity well structured red with fragrant, pure berry aromas.

Sunday brunch, with some seafood on offer, could be accompanied by Monkey Bay 2014 Pinot Grigio ($13.95 +5BAMs). It comes from the warmer Hawke’s Bay region in New Zealand. It’s fresh and pure and fragrant with pear and melon fruit toned by minerality with hints of lemongrass. A good choice for a lively fresh red for brunch would be Cono Sur Bicicleta 2013 Pinot Noir ($10.95). It is very quaffable with juicy raspberry and cherry aromas and flavours. There is nothing to compete for less than $11 for such quality in pinot noir.

The Wolftrap White 2013 Pessoa Da Vinha Reserva Douro 2010 Monkey Bay Pinot Grigio 2014 Cono Sur Bicicleta Pinot Noir 2013

In case I did not select a wine for your occasion, remember that there are another 40 wines on my Top 50. So check out more wine values by dipping into the Top 50 LCBO and Vintages Essentials wines. There will surely be something inexpensive that suits your taste. In the New Year, I will be back with a look at the updated Top 50 list in our January WineAlign Top 20 Under $20 report.

Best wishes to all for Happy Holidays with family and friends and I hope the New Year will bring you every desire.

Steve Thurlow

Steve’s Top 50 Value Wines

Note: You can find our complete critic reviews by clicking on any of the wine names, bottle images or links highlighted. Paid subscribers to WineAlign see all critic reviews immediately. Non-paid users wait 60 days to see new reviews. Membership has its privileges; like first access to reviews of great value wines!

BAM= Bonus Air Miles until January 3, 2015


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La Marca Prosecco


Niagara Icewine Festival 2015


Kwaf - Club K

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Wines for the Personalities on Your Christmas List

By Sara d’Amato

Sara d'Amato

Sara d’Amato

Although it may not be possible to hop in to the LCBO for all your gifting needs over the holidays, you’ll certainly be able to please most of the personalities on your list with the gift of wine. In fact, there is nothing more perfect than the gift of wine for those hard-to-shop-for-folks, especially when time is tight.

This year, instead of a simple list of what I would most like to receive over the holidays, I will endeavor to be more selfless and put together a gift list based on needs and personalities you may encounter among your circle of friends and family.

Not only are these wines chosen because they are personality-appropriate, our experts have also vetted them as delicious.

The Jetsetter

Stobi Vranec 2010 Domaine de Sahari 2012A taste for the exotic is certainly what the jetsetter craves, so here are wines sourced from beyond the classic growing regions to rouse and inspire their adventurous spirit.

Domaine De Sahari 2012, Guerrouane, Morocco ($16.95) – A Bordelaise blend from Morocco which is surprisingly on the shelves of our LCBO. Elegant, floral and even subtle – certainly a diamond in the rough.

In reality, Morocco has some serious potential for producing quality wine in North Africa because of its proximity to the cooling Atlantic and higher elevation terrain which can combat the plentiful heat.

Stobi Vranec 2010, Tikves, Macedonia ($13.95) – Macedonian wine is slowly creeping into our market and its signature red grape is vranec – darkly coloured, crisp and tannic often with notes of exotic spice and chocolate.

The Chef

Whether they are a professional chef or that person in your life with great culinary prowess, (whose home you hope to get an invitation to over the holidays) a wine that a chef will appreciate takes some thought.

Southbrook Triomphe Cabernet Sauvignon 2012

Cave Spring Estate Bottled Gewürztraminer 2012

Di Majo 2011 Norante Contado Riserva Aglianico Del MoliseDi Majo Norante Contado Riserva Aglianico del Molise 2011, Italy, ($18.95) – Italian wine is widely regarded among the most food friendly styles of wine in the world which is in part due to its often high levels of acidity in whites and a common zesty bite in reds. Aglianico produces a full-bodied and flavourful red with vibrant acids that call for rich and aromatic Mediterranean flavours. Maybe they’ll even invite you back to try the pairing!

Cave Spring 2012 Estate Bottled Gewürztraminer, Cave Spring Vineyard, Beamsville Bench, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada ($17.95) – Chefs love to make use of the most local ingredients and what better offering than a food-friendly, local selection such as this from Ontario quality wine pioneer, Cave Spring.

The Vegan

Most people don’t realize that animal-derived products may be used in winemaking, especially during the fining process (which removes protein, yeast, sometimes colour and other undesirable organic compounds). However, there are many alternative fining agents on the market and wineries such as Southbrook produce lip-smacking wines that are also vegetarian and vegan friendly:
Southbrook 2012 Triomphe Cabernet Sauvignon, Niagara On The Lake, Ontario, Canada ($22.95)

The Martha Stewart

Perrier Jouet La Belle Epoque 2006 Descendientes de J. Palacios Pétalos 2012Everyone knows someone like this, the crafty DIYer whose home looks like it has just been the subject of a magazine shoot, whose beautifully presented meals seem effortless and who can pleasantly speak to just about everything. That friend who makes you wonder if they have the annoying super-ability to stop time, just for themselves, so that they can bake those six different types of shortbread just before you arrive. Well, it’s just about time you turn the tables and wow them with an exceptional bottle of wine that they know nothing about.

Descendientes de J. Palacios 2012 Pétalos, Bierzo, ($26.95) – Beautiful inside and out, this clean, floral, spicy and seductive blend is sure to whisk you off your feet. Palacios is a progressive producer who uses a region blend from several villages in the Bierzo region located in northwestern Spain (I bet they didn’t know that!).

Perrier Jouet 2006 La Belle Epoque, Champagne, France ($189.95) – Possibly the most beautiful wine bottle ever created, your artistic and resourceful friend will not want to throw this away once they have reveled in every sip of this exquisite and ethereal cuvée.

The New Parent

You can barely recognize them, sleepless, disheveled, and incoherent – these are the folks that need the gift of wine the most. And just because they don’t realize that they’ve accidentally just poured breast milk into their coffee, that doesn’t mean that they won’t appreciate a terrific bottle of wine. Throw in a night of babysitting and a massage and you’ll forever be their hero.

Delouvin Bagnost Tradition Brut Champagne, Récoltant Manipulant, Champagne, France ($47.95) – They are so busy that they forgot to celebrate the arrival of their child – an ornate and distinctive grower’s Champagne ought to fix that.

The Hipster

Bonterra Cabernet Sauvignon 2011 Lingenfelder Bird Label Riesling 2012 Delouvin Bagnost Tradition Brut ChampagneWhat to pair with topknots, plaid and carefully manicured facial hair? How about sustainably produced, unusual or esthetically pleasing labels with ample cool factor?

Lingenfelder Bird Label 2012 Riesling, Pfalz, Germany, ($14.95) – Lingenfelder is certainly an idiosyncratic producer with a keen sense of what will fly in just about every market. The attractive and vintage looking label is sure to catch the eye of your bohemian buddy and the wine inside is a funky and succulent treat.

Bonterra 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon, Mendocino County, California, USA ($19.95) – Travel and Leisure Magazine voted San Francisco the No.1 city for hipsters in the USA recently and luckily some of the world’s most revered wine regions are located a quick trek north.  This affordable, excellent value cabernet is organically produced and although widely pleasing, has edgy acidity that makes it a versatile pairing with almost any kind of cuisine.

The Health Nut

Cygnus Brut Nature Reserva Cava Le Clos Jordanne Village Reserve Pinot Noir 2011Health conscious folks still imbibe, but may need justification to do so. Recently, as reported in The Daily Mail, a former World Health Organization expert, Dr Kari Poikolainen, claimed: “The weight of the evidence shows moderate drinking is better than abstaining and heavy drinking is worse than abstaining . . .”  (as long as we don’t inflate moderate standards.) I’m willing to believe and perhaps those who want to justify their drink will do so as well. Need something more? It should be noted that wine is gluten-free, being made from grapes. Certain additives may contain gluten but even so, the vast majority of wines would contain such a small amount that they are generally considered safe even for those with Celiac disease (but a doctor’s advice is better than mine).

Le Clos Jordanne 2011 Village Reserve Pinot Noir, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada ($30.00) – Cool climate pinots are known to have the greatest concentration of resveratrol – an antioxidant found in the skins of red grapes which lessens the likelihood of cancerous tumors.

Cygnus Brut Nature Reserva Cava, Méthode Champenoise, Penedès, Spain ($19.95) – The Zero Brut or Brut Nature styles are marketed as low-cal styles of wine. Due to the zero dosage (the sweet liquid added to traditional method sparkling wines before bottling), these wines are very dry and low-cal. As a bonus, this wine is also organically produced making it a more healthy option.

The Jock

Mike Weir 2013 Sauvignon Blanc Wayne Gretzky Estates No. 99 Cabernet Merlot 2010Hockey is winter, summer is football and basketball is there to bridge the gap. The Olympics shuts down your friend or family member’s house. During playoff season your sporty pal becomes incoherent. Fear not, with these selections you may be able to find some common ground with them even through game season.

Wayne Gretzky Estates No. 99 2010 Cabernet Merlot, Niagara Peninsula, $14.95 – This cabernet, not made by Wayne Gretzky (thankfully) but under this named label gets better and better with every vintage. Rich, muscular and agile – a wine a sportsman can be proud to call his own.

Mike Weir 2013 Sauvignon Blanc, Beamsville Bench, Niagara Peninsula, $14.95 – Although this label has been inconsistent in the past, I am holding the torch for this zesty and goosebump-inducing sauvignon blanc whose proceeds go to the Mike Weir Foundation, dedicated to advancing the physical, emotional and educational welfare of children in Canada (so you can feel charitable too!)

Seasons greeting to you and your eclectic group of friends and family!

Sincerely,

Sara d’Amato

Editors Note: You can find complete critic reviews by clicking on any of the highlighted wine names or bottle images. 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!


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Beringer Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2011


Niagara Icewine Festival2015

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Les bons choix de Nadia – Décembre

Le bon goût, la tourtière et le ragoût
par Nadia Fournier

Nadia Fournier - New - Cropped

Nadia Fournier

Chaque année, pour le plus grand plaisir de nos papilles d’enfants – et l’infortune de nos métabolismes fragiles –, la période des Fêtes amène son lot de démesure et d’excès. Bien que l’heure semble propice à l’abondance, ce n’est peut-être pas le meilleur moment pour sortir de votre cave de grandes bouteilles longuement attendues.

Parce qu’ils sont riches et relevés – sans mentionner qu’ils sont souvent accompagnés de marinades –, les pâtés à la viande, ragoûts, tourtières du Lac-Saint-Jean et autres plats traditionnels québécois risqueraient de masquer les subtilités d’un vin délicat. Ces plats copieux font, en revanche, d’excellents compagnons pour des vins plus chaleureux. On peut donc miser donc sur la chair fruitée ample et gourmande d’un vin rouge de Châteauneuf-du-Pape, de Vacqueyras, des Costières de Nîmes, ou encore sur l’étoffe tannique et la vigueur d’un cru de Provence, de Valence, des Pouilles, de la Californie, de Swartland en Afrique du Sud, une syrah ou une carmenère du Chili.

Une caisse de bons vins à moins de 15 $

Pour accompagner le buffet de Noël, nul besoin de dépenser une fortune ni de chercher LE vin qui créera l’accord parfait. D’abord, il est peu probable qu’un seul vin puisse convenir parfaitement à ce mariage de saveurs hétéroclites. Et puis, je ne sais pas pour vous, mais dans ma famille, on ne se prête pas à des dégustations sérieuses autour du ragoût de pattes. On jase et on boit distraitement.

Dans ce contexte, mieux vaut donc opter pour des vins « passe-partout », riches en fruit, souples, faciles à boire et relativement abordables.

Rouges ou blancs, les douze vins suivants sont tous assez polyvalents pour épouser les saveurs prononcées des plats de viande en sauce. Surtout, tous sont secs et donc parfaitement adaptés aux plaisirs de la table.

Rouges

À mon avis, le Portugal demeure l’un des secrets les mieux gardés en matière de rapport qualité-prix-plaisir. À cet égard, les vins de Lavradores de Feitoria sont remarquables. Cette coopérative du Douro dont l’activité s’étend depuis l’extrémité ouest de l’appellation, jusqu’au Douro Supérieur, a produit un très bon 2012, riche en fruit, compact et on ne peut plus fidèle à ses origines.

Pour 10 $ et des poussières, difficile de trouver mieux que le Herdade das Albernoas 2012. Le genre de vin polyvalent, à servir frais autour de 15°C.

Un peu plus corsé et tout aussi abordable, le Vila Regia 2013 Douro demeure l’une des valeurs sûres au répertoire général de la SAQ.

Lavradores De Feitoria Douro 2012 Herdade Das Albernoas 2012 Vila Regia 2013 Cistus Reserva 2012 Domaine de Moulines Merlot 2012 Jean Noël Bousquet La Garnotte Corbières

Si vous aimez les vins rouges solaires, le Cistus 2012, Douro de Quinta do Vale Da Perdiz est l’une des aubaines à saisir !

En plus d’être un bassin à aubaines hyperfertile, la région du Languedoc-Roussillon est l’une des régions les plus riches et les plus diversifiées de France. Chaque année, on peu acheter le Merlot du Domaine des Moulines les yeux fermés. Gorgé de fruit et juste assez charnu.

Dans la même veine de fruit et de garrigue, La Garnotte 2010 de Jean-Noël Bousquet porte un nom à consonance bien québécoise, mais est résolument méditerranéen par sa composition de syrah, de carignan et de grenache.

Illuminati Riparosso Montepulciano d'Abruzzo 2012 Mas Des Tourelles Grande Cuvée 2012En plus du Château des Tourelles dans les Costières de Nîmes, Hervé Durand et son fils Guilhem commercialisent un bon vin de Pays d’Oc sous l’étiquette Mas des Tourelles. La Grande Cuvée 2012 est issue de merlot, de syrah, de petit verdot et de marselan – croisement entre le cabernet sauvignon et le grenache – et vendue au répertoire général de la SAQ.

Certaines régions viticoles du centre et du sud de l’Italie, les Pouilles et les Abruzzes, par exemple, recèlent aussi quelques trésors de vins rouges à des prix attrayants. Produit aux limites des Marches, le Riparosso 2012 Montepulciano d’Abruzzo est juste assez rustique et corsé pour tenir tête aux saveurs prononcées de la tourtière et soutenu par une franche acidité qui laisse la bouche nette et ravivée.

Blancs

Les chardonnays se suivent et se ressemblent, le plus souvent. Bien qu’il ne soit pas très original, le Campagnola Chardonnay 2013 fait preuve d’une qualité irréprochable. Loin d’être une autre caricature, il offre en bouche de bons goûts de fruits, juste ce qu’il faut de gras et un bel équilibre. Le tout pour 13 $ et des poussières. On achète à la caisse!

Plus vif, comme le commande le cépage sauvignon blanc, le Fumé blanc 2013 Gran Reserva de la maison Carmen profite d’un élevage partiel en fûts de chêne qui tempère ses ardeurs et donne un vin étonnamment complet pour le prix. Sec, tranchant et idéal avec les huîtres.

Dans le même esprit, mais un peu plus guilleret et fruité, le Carrelot des Amants blanc 2013 mise sur un assemblage de sauvignon blanc et de gros manseng.

Campagnola Chardonnay 2013 Carmen Gran Reserva Fumé Blanc Leyda 2013 Carrelot des Amants 2013 Albis 2013 Bacalhoa Catarina 2013

Les amateurs de vins blancs aromatiques voudront aussi goûter le Albis 2013 de José Maria da Fonseca. Issu de moscatel, le vin est sec, mais agrémenté de parfums floraux qui rappellent certains vins de dessert.

Lui aussi produit dans le secteur de la péninsule de Setúbal, le Bacalhôa Catarina 2013 mise sur les vertus complémentaires des cépages fernão pires, arinto et chardonnay. Le premier lui donne son originalité aromatique, le second lui confère une acidité et une poigne dignes de mention et le dernier apporte une texture juste assez grasse pour laisser en bouche une sensation rassasiante, sans lourdeur. Très bon achat à moins de 15 $.

Champagne!

Qu’on se le dise: le mot « Champagne » sur la bouteille ne garantit en rien la qualité. La dénomination protégée certifie l’origine et la méthode, mais elle n’atteste pas de la rigueur ni du talent du vinificateur. Le vignoble le plus septentrional de France est capable du meilleur, comme du pire.

Mais lorsqu’il est élaboré avec des raisins de qualité et dans les règles de l’art, aucun autre vin effervescent ne peut rivaliser avec l’excellence du champagne. Avec ses sols crayeux uniques, son climat régulé par la Marne, ses cépages parfaitement adaptés et le savoir-faire millénaire de ses vignerons, la région de Champagne est un terroir inimitable.

Joseph Perrier Cuvée Royale Brut 2002 Drappier Pinot Noir Brut Nature ChampagneLe champagne est l’apéritif par excellence. C’est le moment idéal pour apprécier sa finesse et sa fraîcheur, et pour mettre nos papilles en éveil et en appétit. Pour accompagner un repas, mieux vaut choisir un champagne plus corsé, généralement composé d’une plus forte proportion de raisins noirs, comme celui de la maison Drappier. Force majeure de l’Aube, la famille Drappier produit un très bon Brut Nature Zéro dosage, issu exclusivement de pinot noir.
 Aucune liqueur d’expédition n’a été ajoutée au vin ; son onctuosité est donc attribuable seulement à la maturité des raisins.

Encore plus vineux et nourri, le Joseph Perrier Cuvée Royale 2002 est devenu l’un de mes classiques au cours des dernières années. À la fois très élégant, mais assez étoffé et vineux pour accompagner un repas.

Avec des huîtres, rien n’égale à mon avis la fraîcheur et l’allure aérienne d’un bon blanc de blancs. Celui de la maison Henriot, par exemple, offre chaque année une expression très fine du cépage chardonnay, avec une minéralité digeste et désaltérante.

Le viticulteur Emmanuel Lassaigne a quitté la cave coopérative, banni les désherbants et prouvé à tous que le département de l’Aube – souvent considéré comme le parent pauvre de la Champagne – pouvait donner des vins aussi inspirés que ceux de la Marne. Si vous ne connaissez pas déjà Les Vignes de Montgueux, Blanc de blancs, hâtez-vous d’aller en succursales!

Henriot Blanc De Blancs Brut Champagne Jacques Lassaigne Les Vignes De Montgueux Blanc De Blancs Larmandier Bernier Terre De Vertus Premier Cru Pascal Doquet Premier Cru Brut Pascal Doquet Horizon Brut Blanc De Blancs

Poussant encore plus loin la complexité et la minéralité, Pierre Larmandier cultive son vignoble en biodynamie et il en tire ce vin somptueux, qui offre une expression à la fois mûre, distinguée et épurée du cépage chardonnay sur le Terroir de Vertus, dans la Marne.

Hormis quelques rares vins de saignée, les champagnes rosés sont généralement issus d’un assemblage de chardonnay, « coloré » par l’ajout de pinot noir et de pinot meunier. Toujours plus chers et rarement aussi complets que leurs équivalents blancs. Raison de plus pour souligner la qualité de celui de Pascal Doquet. Une effervescence fine, des saveurs précises et persistantes, et un prix on ne peut plus attrayant.

Dans le présent arrivage du magazine Cellier, on retiendra aussi la cuvée Horizon Brut Blanc de blancs. Rappelons que le vignoble de la famille Doquet est conduit en agriculture biologique.

Cristal Brut Vintage Champagne 2006 Champagne G. Gruet Et Fils Blanc De BlancsÉgalement mis en marché dans le cadre du lancement du magazine Cellier, le Gruet, G. et Fils; Blanc de Blancs fera plaisir aux amateurs de champagne à l’affut d’aubaines (37,25 $). Bon vin de facture classique; j’ai bien aimé ses goûts briochés.

Enfin, si on ne profite pas de la période des Fêtes pour se gâter, quand le
fera-t-on? Le Roederer Cristal Brut 2006 s’inscrit dans la continuité des derniers millésimes. Préoccupé de maintenir un bon taux d’acidité naturelle dans les moûts, Jean-Baptiste Lecaillon a commencé à repenser le travail à la vigne dès 2000. Roederer s’est à nouveau imposée par sa gestion avant-gardiste, devenant propriétaire du plus important vignoble champenois cultivé en biodynamie. Loin d’être le seul fruit d’une habile campagne de marketing, le Cristal s’inscrit dans l’élite des champagnes hauts de gamme.

Cellier de Noël – suite et fin du rapport d’un jour feuille…

Il y a un peu plus d’une semaine, je vous racontais les aléas d’une journée feuille, où tous les vins paraissent ternes et manquaient de fruit. Dans de telles conditions, il est difficile à mon avis d’avoir une idée juste de la qualité réelle des vins. Parmi la vingtaine de cuvées dégustées, voici donc ceux qui, ce jour-là, se présentaient le mieux.

Les étoiles de la Toscane

Bien qu’il soit certainement le plus connu et le plus prestigieux des supertoscans, le Sassicaia, Bolgheri 2011 a très peu en commun avec les cuvées modernes et plantureuses qui sont peu à peu devenues la norme à Bolgheri. Bien qu’un peu moins complet et complexe que d’autres millésimes récents, le 2011 se situe néanmoins dans une classe à part.

Plus modeste et issu d’un millésime un peu moins chaleureux, le Difese 2012 est le véritable second vin de la Tenuta San Guido, berceau du Sassicaia.

Sassicaia 2011 Le Difese 2012 Le Serre Nuove Dell'Ornellaia 2012 Fontodi Flaccianello Della Pieve 2011 Tignanello 2011

Toujours à Bolgheri, Le Serre Nuove 2012 de la Tenuta dell’Ornellaia a beaucoup d’étoffe et de prestance en bouche. Je dois même avouer que j’ai parfois plus de plaisir à boire ce vin que le grand vin d’Ornellaia. Surtout pour une fraction du prix.

Dans son domaine de Panzano en plein cœur du Chianti Classico, Giovanni Manetti est un monument de la viticulture toscane. Son Flaccianello della Pieve 2011 est issu de l’agriculture biologique. Bien que légèrement en recul par rapport aux millésimes précédents, le 2011 n’en demeure pas moins un très bon exemple du genre.

Le Tignanello 2011 m’a paru un peu plus complet que le Flaccianello. Créé au début des années 1970 par Piero Antinori, ce vin n’a pas pris une ride et continue de se bonifier au fil des millésimes. Est-ce un signe que les travaux effectués il y a quelques années sur le vignoble de la Tenuta Tignanello portent fruit?  

Deux monuments de Barolo

Ferdinando Principiano Serralunga Barolo 2010 Poderi Aldo Conterno Barolo Bussia 2010Très bien ficelé dans le style moderne affectionné par la famille d’Aldo Conterno, Barolo Bussia 2010 c’est-à-dire costaud, plein en bouche et très structuré, mais enrobé d’une chair fruitée mûre et généreuse. Bien qu’il en impose déjà en bouche, il n’atteindra vraiment son apogée que vers 2018-2020.

Plus modeste, mais aussi nettement plus facile à apprécier en jeunesse, le Barolo 2010 Serralunga de Principiano Ferdinando est tout à fait fidèle à l’esprit d’un bon nebbiolo, tant par sa forme, que par ses accents d’herbes séchées et de terre humide. Le genre de bouteille à ouvrir lors d’un repas pour deux et à savourer lentement, très lentement.

~

Veuillez aussi prendre note que Le guide du vin 2015 est en librairies depuis le 12 novembre. La nouvelle édition a été complètement repensée et s’articule désormais autour des populaires Grappes d’or. Plus de 1000 vins, dont au moins une centaine dégustée en primeur, des codes QR à scanner afin de faciliter vos recherches sur SAQ.com, des vidéos et plus encore!

Joyeuses Fêtes! À votre santé!

Nadia Fournier

Note de la rédaction: vous pouvez lire les commentaires de dégustation complets en cliquant sur les noms de vins, les photos de bouteilles ou les liens mis en surbrillance. Les abonnés payants à Chacun son vin ont accès à toutes les critiques dès leur mise en ligne. Les utilisateurs inscrits doivent attendre 60 jours après leur parution pour les lire. L’adhésion a ses privilèges ; parmi ceux-ci, un accès direct à de bons vins !


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Bill’s Best Bets – December

This holiday season:  Go Big!
by Bill Zacharkiw

Bill Zacharkiw

Bill Zacharkiw

I was looking through some old photos the other day and one in particular caught my attention. It was taken maybe 10 years ago, and it was of a Thanksgiving meal with a dozen or so friends. We were seated around a long, wooden table, raising our glasses to the camera. And on the table were six identical bottles of Bordeaux. But what caught my eye was the size of the bottles. They were big, they were magnums.

A magnum is a double bottle, holding 1.5L of wine. And I’m a big fan. Many of the most memorable wines that I have drunk have come from a magnum. I was lucky enough to taste a glass of a Veuve Cliquot which was put in its magnum in 1953: an absolutely spectacular wine that still had a ton of freshness despite being over 50 years old. One of my greatest white wine experiences was a 1996 magnum of Chablis, La Moutonne, that I drank in 2008. The wine was at its apogee: an almond-type nuttiness combined with green apples. Fresh, flavourful and rich. With a salmon tartare, sprinkled with sesame, it was mind-blowing.

Magnums are considered the ideal bottle size for aging wine. How wines age is not completely understood, but one factor that changes with the size of the bottle is the ratio of air to the quantity of wine. So while a magnum may hold twice as much wine compared to a standard 750mL bottle, because of its shape it does not have twice as much air between the bottom of the cork and the wine. To throw in a tech term here, this headspace is referred to as the ullage.

Bisol Crede 2012, Conegliano Valdobbiadene (1500ml)Pascal Doquet Horizon Blanc De Blancs (1500ml)

As white wines are more sensitive to oxygen than reds, magnums tend to be better for long-term cellaring. For red wines, the effects of this different ratio of oxygen to wine is less noticeable in the short-term, but over the long haul, personal experience has shown that the magnum is again the bottle size that allows for the most balanced and best aging of the wine.

But not everyone cellars wines. The reason I’m talking magnums now is for another reason. We are heading into the heart of the holiday season, when we often find ourselves gathered around the dinner table with family and friends. And maybe it’s because they are rarer, and people don’t often see them at their dinner table, but whenever I bring out a magnum, the reaction is always the same. It adds a definite “wow” element to the evening.

So if you are looking to give a bottle of wine as a gift to someone who has, or is starting a wine cellar, think “big.” As most people don’t collect magnums, your generosity will stick out because of its rarity and when they eventually do open up the bottle, there’s a good chance you will be remembered for your gift. So give one to your boss. :)

But even if it is simply a question of finding a wine to serve to a gang, a number of excellent wines are available in magnum which can be enjoyed right now, and they aren’t that expensive. So rather than buying two bottles, show up for dinner with a magnum, it’s a bottle that has “party” written all over it!

Descendientes De J. Palacios Pétalos 2011, Bierzo (1500ml) Château De Chamirey Mercurey 2012 (1500ml) Bersano Costalunga Barbera d'Asti 2010 (1500ml)

The one thing to consider when buying a magnum is whether it’s for immediate drinking or for the long-term. Sparkling wines are definitely “drink now” purchases and if you want Champagne, Pascal Doquet’s Blanc de Blancs will rock both your palate and a plate of raw oysters. For those without a Champagne budget, go for a mag of the 2012 Crede from Bisol. It’s always one of the better Proseccos on the market.

Need a red for turkey dinner, complete with cranberry sauce and all the fixings? For $32.30, Bersano’s 2010 Barbera-d’Asti Costalunga is as much a bargain in magnum as it is in a standard 750mL. If your taste is more for pinot noir, then the 2012 Mercurey from Château de Chamirey is great value for its $64 price tag. And if you would like something more exotic, Alvaro Palacios’ 2011 Petalos is a great example of the mencia grape.

If you want more torque, Quebec-born Nathalie Bonhomme’s 2012 El Bonhomme brings lots of fruit and power for $39. And for something a touch more modern, a real crowd pleaser is the 2010 Celeste from Torres. If you want something with a bit of age, then Ijalba’s 2008 Rioja should do the trick, and all for $47.

As I said, magnums make great gifts, especially for those who collect wine. One of my favourite producers from Italy’s Piedmont is the co-op Produttori del Barbaresco. The 2009 Ovello Riserva is already drinking well, but will easily hold for another 5-10 years.

El Bonhomme Valencia 2012 (1500ml)Torres Celeste Crianza 2010 (1500ml)Ijalba Reserva 2008 (1500ml)Barbaresco Riserva Produttori Barbaresco Ovello 2009 (1500ml)Castello Di Nipozzano Mormoreto 2011 (1500ml)Domaine De La Vieille Julienne 2010
For longer aging, the 2011 Mormoretto from Castello di Nipozzano will easily get better over the next decade. Another wine built to last is the 2010 Châteauneuf-du-Pape from Domaine de la Vieille Julienne. Silky, densely textured and with a great story to tell – you simply need a bit of patience.

Happy holidays folks,

Bill

“There’s enjoyment to be had of a glass of wine without making it a fetish.” – Frank Prial

Editors Note: You can find Bill’s complete reviews by clicking on any of the highlighted wine names or bottle images above. Premium subscribers to Chacun son vin see all critic 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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Top 20 under $20 at the LCBO (December)

Your Guide to the Best Values, Limited Time Offers and Bonus Air Miles selections at the LCBO this month

by Steve Thurlow

Steve Thurlow

Steve Thurlow

I was in Italy last week and found a wine from Sardinia to join the Top 50. In total there are 11 new wines on the Top 50 for you to try. Sadly four of those have joined the list because they have been discontinued, so their price has dropped by around 25% to clear inventory. There are still good stocks of all four, so take advantage while you can.

Additionally seven wines, already on the list, have Bonus Air Miles (BAMs) that apply, making these wines even more attractive for the next five weeks or so; all this must make your December drinking more affordable.

The Top 20 under $20 are best buys among the 1600 or so wines in LCBO Wines and the Vintages Essentials Collection. I select most from wines on Steve’s Top 50, a standing WineAlign list based on quality/price ratio. You can read below in detail how the Top 50 works, but it does fluctuate as new wines arrive and as discounts show up through Limited Time Offers (LTOs).

The discount period runs until January 3rd. So don’t hesitate. Thanks to WineAlign’s inventory tracking, I can assure you that there were stocks available, when we published, of every wine that I highlight.

Editors Note: You can find our complete critic reviews by clicking on any of the wine names, bottle images or links highlighted. Paid subscribers to WineAlign see all critic reviews immediately. Non-paid users wait 60 days to see new reviews. Membership has its privileges; like first access to great value wines!

Reds

Apelia Agiorgitiko 2012 (1000ml), Greece $9.95 plus 4 BAMs
Agiorgitiko is one of Greece’s best red grapes. This is a is fruity, midweight, well balanced good everyday wine.

Esporao Alandra Red 2013, Alentejo, Portugal $7.60
NEW TO TOP 50 – A ripe fruity vibrant red with a fragrant nose of blackberry and blackcurrant fruit with some floral and spicy notes. Try with salty fatty meats like salami or soft creamy cheese like brie.

Casa Planeta Syrah 2012, Sicily, Italy now $7.95 was $9.95
DISCONTINUED AT LCBO – A lightweight, very drinkable versatile food wine for pizza and meaty pasta sauces. 500 bottles remain.

Apelia Agiorgitiko 2012Esporao Alandra Red 2013Casa Planeta Syrah Igt 2012K W V Contemporary Collection Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot 2013Sella & Mosca Rosato 2013J. Portugal Ramos Loios Red 2013
KWV Contemporary Collection Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot 2013, Western Cape, South Africa now $7.95 was $9.45
DISCONTINUED AT LCBO – Great value for a balanced fruity red blend with mild aromas of plum, lemon and blackcurrant jam. Simple clean and refreshing. Try with sausages. 1600 bottles remain.

Sella & Mosca Rosato 2013, Alghero, Sardinia, Italy now $8.95 was $9.80
NEW TO TOP 50 – This summer rosé has gone on sale to clear inventory. It is a deep salmon pink almost light red, very fruity yet dry with very good length. Try with baked ham. Over 5000 bottles remain.

J. Portugal Ramos Loios Red 2013, Alentejo, Portugal $9.05
NEW TO TOP 50 – A ripe, fleshy, clean, easy-drinking wine with soft tannins and fresh red berry fruit flavours with more complexity than you would expect for such an inexpensive wine.

D’Arenberg The Stump Jump Grenache/Shiraz/Mourvèdre 2011, South Australia now $9.95 was $14.95
DISCONTINUED AT LCBO – This delicious fragrant plummy red will soon be no longer available. Around 1500 bottles remain so pick up a handful, while you can, at this great price. 1500 bottles remain.

Errazuriz Estate Series Merlot 2012, Curico Valley, Chile now $9.95 was $13.95
DISCONTINUED AT LCBO – This is a ripe, fairly soft and plummy merlot with mild oak spice. It’s midweight smooth with a long finish. Try with a rack of lamb. 1000 bottles remain.

D'arenberg The Stump Jump Grenache:Shiraz:Mourvèdre 2011Errazuriz Estate Series Merlot 2012Pessoa Da Vinha Reserva Douro 2010La Posta Cocina Tinto Blend 2013Guardian Reserva Red 2012Graham's Late Bottled Vintage Port 2008

Pessoa Da Vinha Reserva Douro 2010, Douro Valley Portugal $12.30 plus 5 BAMs
TOP 50 DECEMBER – A very fruity well balanced rich red wine with a solid structure and very good length.

La Posta Cocina Tinto Blend 2013, Mendoza, Argentina $12.95 plus 8 BAMs
TOP 50 DECEMBER – An easy drinking well-balanced red with juicy berry fruit, lively acidity, just enough tannin, and a mild spicy tone.

Guardian Reserva Red 2012, Colchagua Valley, Chile $13.65
NEW TO TOP 50 – A complex red cabernet blend, finely balanced and fruity, with a long, lingering finish, and some fine tannin. Try with a steak.

Graham’s Late Bottled Vintage Port 2008, Douro Valley, Portugal now $15.45 was $16.95
TOP 50 DECEMBER – A full-bodied, very fruity, smooth, rich and powerful port with a fragrant nose.

Whites

Apelia Moschofilero 2013 (1000ml) Greece $9.95 plus 4 BAMs
Moschofilero is one of Greece’s best indigenous grapes. This is a fresh dry white with lifted aromas of floral apple, with a green olive herbal tone, plus some mineral notes.

Mascota Vineyards O P I Chardonnay 2013, Mendoza Argentina $12.95o
NEW TO TOP 50 – A classy rich flavourful chardonnay with just a touch of oak for added complexity and structure.

Apelia Moschofilero 2013Mascota Vineyards O P I Chardonnay 2013Monkey Bay Pinot Grigio 2014The Wolftrap 2013

Monkey Bay Pinot Grigio 2014, Hawkes Bay, New Zealand $13.95 plus 5 BAMs
TOP 50 DECEMBER – This is a is fresh, pure and fragrant grigio, with pear and melon fruit, toned by minerality with hints of lemongrass with a rich lively fruity palate.

The Wolftrap White 2013, Boekenhoutskloof, Western Cape, South Africa $13.95 plus 5 BAMs
TOP 50 DECEMBER – An appealing aromatic nose of peaches, melons, spices and floral notes lead to rich creamy palate with crisp acidity and lots of fruit.

Frisky Beaver White 2013, VQA Ontario $13.95o
NEW TO TOP 50 – A gewurztraminer led white blend that’s aromatic, almost off-dry and very flavourful.

Lustau Amontillado Solera Reserva Los Arcos, Jerez, Spain $14.85
NEW TO TOP 50 – A complex dry white with beautiful nutty, citrus, toasty aromas. Perfectly balanced, would be excellent with roast turkey and a rich brown gravy.

Frisky Beaver White 2013Lustau Solera Reserva Dry Amontillado Los ArcosLustau Solera Reserva Dry Oloroso Don NunoErrazuriz Max Reserva Sauvignon Blanc 2013

Lustau Solera Reserva Dry Oloroso Don Nuno, Jerez, Spain $14.85
NEW TO TOP 50 – This tawny brown dry white has been aging for decades, yet still gives an impression of freshness with nutty raisin fruit. Intensely flavoured and finely balanced. Try with rich pork or veal dishes.

Errazuriz Max Reserva Sauvignon Blanc 2013, Aconcagua Valley, Chile $15.95 plus 10 BAMs
TOP 50 DECEMBER – Great complexity and balance, this is unmistakably sauvignon, with an herbal tone to the tropical citrus fruit. Try with rich creamy cheese dishes to balance the wine’s acidity.

How does a wine get selected for the Top 20 under $20.

There are three ways that a wine gets into this monthly report of wines that are always in the stores either on the LCBO “General List” or the VINTAGES Essential Collection.

- On Sale (LTO’s or Limited Time Offers): Every four weeks the LCBO discounts around 200 wines  I have looked through the current batch and have highlighted some of my favourites that offer better value at present…. so stock up now.

- Bonus Air Miles (BAM’s): If you collect Air Miles then you will be getting Bonus Air Miles on another 150 or so wines…a few of these have a special appeal for a while.

- Steve’s Top 50: Wines that have moved onto my Top 50 Best Values this month. This is on an-on going WineAlign selection (Top 50,) that mathematically calculates value by comparing the price and rating of all the wines on the LCBO General List. You can access the report any time and read more about it now.

Steve Top50The Rest of Steve’s Top 50

There are another 36 wines on the Top 50 list so if you did not find all you need above for your current needs dip into the Top 50 LCBO and Vintages Essentials wines. There will surely be something inexpensive that suits your taste.

To be included in the Top 50 for value a wine must be inexpensive while also having a high score, indicating high quality. I use a mathematical model to make the Top 50 selections from the wines in our database. I review the list every month to include newly listed and recently tasted vintages of current listings as well as monitoring the value of those put on sale for a limited time.

Before value wine shopping remember to consult the Top 50 (Click on Wine =>Top 50 Value Wines to be taken directly to the list), since it is always changing. If you find that there is a new wine on the shelf or a new vintage that we have not reviewed, let us know. Moreover if you disagree with our reviews, tell us please us. And if you think our reviews are accurate, send us some feedback since it’s good to hear that you agree with us.

The Top 50 changes all the time, so remember to check before shopping. I will be back next month with more news on value arrivals to Essentials and the LCBO.

Cheers!

Steve Thurlow

Top 20 Under $20 for December
Top 50 Value Wines

Editors Note: You can find our complete critic reviews by clicking on any of the wine names, bottle images or links highlighted. Paid subscribers to WineAlign see all critic reviews immediately. Non-paid users wait 60 days to see new reviews. Membership has its privileges; like first access to great value wines!


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Les bons choix de Marc – Décembre

Pas de trouble !
par Marc Chapleau

Marc Chapleau sm

Marc Chapleau

Je vous recommande plus loin des mousseux et des champagnes de circonstance, en cette saison, mais j’aimerais d’abord parler d’elle.

Elle, cette sommelière émérite qui a eu récemment pas mal de cran, j’ai trouvé.

Comme ça, au beau milieu d’une dégustation réunissant cinq ou six chroniqueurs ainsi qu’un producteur, ma consoeur a en effet levé l’index en haussant les sourcils, pour exprimer sa dissension : « Je suis désolée, mais j’ai un problème avec les vins troubles comme celui qu’on vient de nous servir… Pour moi, un bon vin se doit aussi d’être limpide, à la base. »

Nous venions de goûter une série de vins pour ainsi dire courants, très bien faits, vifs et savoureux, quand le vigneron de passage nous fit découvrir quelques cuvées produites à beaucoup plus petite échelle, sur le mode « vin naturel ». Très peu manipulés, c’est notamment dire, et à la couleur de fait un peu diffuse, pas vraiment transparente.

Ces vins élaborés en quantités confidentielles étaient surprenants. Ils n’arboraient certes pas les canons habituels de la beauté viticole, mais ils n’en étaient pas moins très bons et même racés, pour certains.

Mais je comprenais quand même très bien l’inconfort, la réticence de mon amie sommelière.

Comme si le caractère limpide du vin allait de soi, et qu’on devait partir de là avant de juger ensuite de la qualité des odeurs et des saveurs, ainsi que de l’équilibre d’ensemble.

Loyal et marchand ?

Comme si ce trouble perçu dans notre verre de vin « nature » cachait quelque chose, comme s’il empêchait ce dernier d’être de « qualité loyale et marchande », comme le disait jadis l’expression de droit commercial.

Cela dit, je n’ai pas été longtemps béat devant l’aplomb de ma voisine de table.

Car la réplique d’un autre collègue à l’esprit vif a aussitôt fusé : « C’est parce que tu as été conditionnée, comme nous tous. Les vins, autrefois, n’étaient pas clairs et brillants comme ils le sont aujourd’hui. »

On aurait donc désappris à aimer le côté « imparfait » du vin, son caractère parfois peut-être un peu bourru, sur tous les plans, mais ô combien « naturel ».

Hum… Voilà un argument qui porte, lui aussi. Me voilà donc ambivalent, depuis cet épisode, à mon corps défendant.

Or donc, voici où nous en sommes : la couleur du vin, sa limpidité, importe-t-elle, oui ou non ?

Tout dépend, oserai-je dire, du type de vin en question. Un vin « nature » du Jura un peu trouble ne détonne pas tant que ça. Tandis qu’un griotte-chambertin bien reposé et bien carafé aux contours pourtant flous et à la robe imprécise… moins certain.

La beauté, serais-je tenté de conclure, est dans l’oeil de celui qui regarde.

Qu’en dites-vous ?

À boire, aubergiste !

Il s’agit maintenant de vous aiguiller vers de bonnes bouteilles qui ne vous désarçonneront pas trop — par leur couleur, leurs odeurs ou leur goût. Je devrais donc jouer de prudence, et ne recommander que des valeurs sûres.

Hélas, impossible. Au sens où aucun vin ne plaît à tout le monde sans exception, il s’en trouve toujours un ou une comique pour dire tout haut « Non, désolé, j’ai essayé mais ce n’est pas vraiment ma tasse de thé… »

Ça me choque ? Au contraire ! C’est bien connu : pour faire son chemin dans le vin, il faut absolument écouter sa voix intérieure et dire tout haut ce qu’on pense pas nécessairement tout bas — comme ma consoeur, tout à l’heure, devant son verre à la couleur trouble.

Et puisqu’on est au début décembre et que vous savez quoi va nous arriver dessus à la vitesse grand V… place aux mousseux.

D’abord quatre quasi-champagnes, dans la mesure où sans atteindre les sommets de finesse qu’on arrive à produire autour de Reims et Épernay, ces mousseux élaborés ailleurs en Europe et dans le monde s’en approchent, pour une fraction du prix.

Pour peu que l’atmosphère soit festive – ou si le party est pris solide, comme on dit –, inutile de sortir l’artillerie lourde (et chère), rabattez-vous sur ces substituts d’excellente qualité.

À retenir, enfin : on ne se trompe pour ainsi dire jamais, si l’on donne en cadeau un champagne. Même l’amateur de vin le plus difficile se réjouira et acceptera avec le sourire. Parole !

À bon prix
 
Hors Champagne, et à prix plus raisonnable (23,40 $), on trouve par exemple du Luxembourg le Crémant Poll-Fabaire Brut, étonnamment fin et bien nerveux. De Bourgogne cette fois, autre beau crémant que ce Bailly-Lapierre Vive la Joie, au nom ô combien quétaine mais par ailleurs vif et profond.

Poll Fabaire Brut Crémant De Luxembourg Bailly Lapierre Vive La Joie Gratien & Meyer Crémant De Loire Flamme Brut Laurens Clos Des Demoiselles Tête De Cuvée 2011

Plus miellé, plus épicé également, le Crémant de Loire Cuvée Flamme Gratien & Meyer est à nouveau très recommandable cette année.

Enfin, on descend vers le sud et l’appellation crémant-du-limoux (dans le Languedoc) avec l’excellent Laurens Clos des Demoiselles Tête de Cuvée 2011, qui combine pour ainsi dire les attributs des précédents avec un assemblage à 60 % de chardonnay, auquel s’ajoute notamment 15 % de chenin blanc.

Le grand jeu

Du côté des champagnes, un rosé pour commencer – un type de vin que je trouve pourtant d’ordinaire trop cher, eu égard à la qualité. Sauf que ce Alain Thiénot Brut Rosé vaut les 69 $ qu’on en exige !

En blanc de blancs, le Pascal Doquet Horizon, à 48,50 $, est à la fois fin, épicé et floral, tout en délicatesse.

Thiénot Brut   Pascal Doquet HorizonDevaux Blanc De Noirs BrutRoederer Estate L'ermitage Brut 2005

Également fin et au caractère dépouillé, subtil, le Devaux Blanc de Noirs Brut, à 50 $ – celui-ci, au contraire du précédent, est fait uniquement à partir de raisins « noirs », c’est-à-dire rouges… désolé pour la confusion, on est comme ça, dans le monde du vin. (On dit aussi « vin blanc » alors qu’en réalité on se frotte plutôt à diverses nuances de jaune.)

Je triche avec ma dernière suggestion. Enfin non, sortir cette bouteille équivaudra à jouer le grand jeu, sauf que le vin ne vient pas de Champagne ni même de France. Il est de Californie, imaginez. Et excellent, vif et riche tout à la fois, avec des notes délicatement briochées. Masquez cette bouteille de Roederer Estate L’Ermitage Brut 2005 (55 $), et annoncez à la ronde un très bon champagne.

Ils n’y verront que du feu !

Santé !

Marc

Note de la rédaction: vous pouvez lire les commentaires de dégustation complets en cliquant sur les noms de vins, les photos de bouteilles ou les liens mis en surbrillance. Les abonnés payants à Chacun son vin ont accès à toutes les critiques dès leur mise en ligne. Les utilisateurs inscrits doivent attendre 30 jours après leur parution pour les lire. L’adhésion a ses privilèges ; parmi ceux-ci, un accès direct à de bons vins !


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