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VINTAGES Preview: April 26 Release (Part Two)

Four Fine Spanish Reds, A Smart Cape Cab & Sara’s Spring State of Mind
by David Lawrason with notes from John Szabo and Sara d’Amato

David Lawrason

David Lawrason

You may have sensed in last week’s preview that we found tasting VINTAGES release of “Great Value Bordeaux” to be a bit of a chore. Yes, we were collectively underwhelmed, and I must say there were several other wines on this release, particularly from California, that I found troubling too – or just not worth spending your dollars on. Were we in a bad mood, or perhaps tasting on a “root” day on the biodynamic calendar? It’s hard to say; but for my part some of the lower scores, as well as the higher scores, are part of an effort to battle “creeping scoring condensation” – that tendency to lodge the vast majority wines in a “safe” zone between 86 to 91 points.

The great advantage of the 100-point scale (which is really an 80 to 100 pinot scale) is the wider bandwidth on which to peg a numerical opinion. In my world – and I would argue in the world of WineAlign and 100-point wine scoring globally – an 80-point wine should still be drinkable even if notably compromised. And by the way, an 80-point rating is where the WineAlign “grape bunch” begins to be coloured in, our attempt to provide a quick visual representation of quality. On the flip side, many of the world’s top calibre wines should easily be scoring close to perfection above 95 points. Using the full range of 20 points provides a much clearer barometer of quality, and is thus much more helpful to shoppers.

As for why I pick certain wines to highlight in this report, value within any price range becomes the main criteria. There will be many other wines not mentioned that are also very much worth your consideration – so spend some time browsing the selections by all three of us.

The Stars Align
(wines independently recommended by two or more critics)

Domaine Du Tremblay Cuvée Vin Noble Quincy 2012Pepin Condé Cabernet Sauvignon 2012Pepin Condé 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon, Coastal Region, South Africa ($15.95). John Szabo – Pepin is the entry-level range from respected estate Stark-Condé established by American José Condé in Stellenbosch, named after his grandfather. It offers an authentically herbal, iodine-tinged, spicy range of aromatics on a mid-weight, light tannin and juicy acid frame, nicely balanced, stylish and savoury overall. Great price, too. David Lawrason – Both John and I have recently visited this estate in the fantastic, primordial Jonkershoek Valley, although at different times. I actually visited twice, and I was very impressed by the modern, vibrant wines, and their value. I brought their pinot home to Canada in my luggage. Hands down this beats virtually any cabernet you will find at VINTAGES or the LCBO under $20.

Lawrason’s Take

Domaine Du Tremblay 2012 Cuvée Vin Noble Quincy, Loire Valley, France ($20.95). There are many who find sauvignon blancs boringly similar. And I understand that position. So if you do like sauvignon you have to dig deeper – beyond the green – to the nuances that different terroirs offer. This little known appellation of Quincy in the Loire Valley near Sancerre is one more take, and I like its lighter, compact, shimmering appeal.

Yalumba Viognier Eden Valley 2012Oldenburg Chardonnay 2011Camelback Shiraz 2008Yalumba 2012 Viognier Eden Valley, South Australia ($24.95). On its website Yalumba trumpets that “it is the one of the most influential producers of viognier in the world”. A sweeping but carefully couched statement. And I happen to believe it’s true based on the work committed and the result in the bottle.  This is a difficult grape to grow, and to make into a widely acceptable style. I am not a personal viognier fan and would rarely buy it for myself because it’s either too blowsy or too restrained. This comes right up the middle with poise, complexity and honesty. Like it or leave it, but try this viognier if only to gauge your own tastes.

Oldenburg 2011 Chardonnay, Stellenbosch, South Africa ($22.95). The better wines of South Africa are currently offering huge value based on the weakness of the South African Rand against the Canadian dollar. Plus the fact that modern viticulture and winemaking are now as comfortable in the Cape as anywhere in the world. This bright, sleek, vibrant chardonnay picks up some of the green/herbal character of the local vegetation – called fynbos – making it just a bit different from most chardonnay peers around the world. This is a Flagship Store Exclusive.

Camelback 2008 Shiraz Sunbury, Victoria, Australia ($24.95). I was not expecting to be impressed by this wine – another critter brand on the face of it, even though camels are not indigenous to Australia (they were imported from India in the 19th C). But the combination of its age and origin in this less well-known, cooler region of Victoria (not far from Melbourne’s airport) have delivered a quite savoury, peppery yet full flavoured shiraz with Aussie weight and Euro flavours.

Viña Arana Reserva 2005Elias Mora Crianza 2009Ascheri Pisapola Barolo 2010Ascheri 2010 Pisapola Barolo, Piedmont, Italy ($44.95). If you are a Barolo fan you might want to go to Ascheri’s website (www.ascherivini.it) to comprehend the new regime that has led this house to make four different Barolo starting in this 2010 vintage. It’s a reaction to a complex new regulation involving Additional Geographic Designations in Barolo. Pisapola of the Verduno region will be made every vintage. I am sure it all makes some kind of local sense – but more importantly and broadly, this is excellent wine from a very good producer of modern nebbiolos that still respect their origin.

Elias Mora 2009 Crianza Toro, Spain ($22.95). Toro is an almost other-worldly enclave in north central Spain. Perched on a cliff above the Duero River the town was once the seat of Spanish authority to which Christopher Columbus came to seek financing for his voyages to America. Out on the river plain below and into the hills beyond the tempranillo grape (locally called tinta de toro) grows in heavily gravelled and limestone soils. The arid climate builds in serious muscle yet finesse. This crianza has spent 12 months in French and American oak barrels, which just seems to sponge up the fruit without really altering it.

La Rioja Alta 2005 Viña Arana Reserva, Rioja, Spain ($39.95). Spain offers several good wines in this release. There is the Faustino 1 Gran Reserva that someone has rated 97 points, but I was not in agreement that it is that superlative. I have given a higher rating to this mature classic from one of the great traditional houses of Rioja. The 2005 vintage was fantastic, and this has matured beautifully into prime time. This is a Flagship Store Exclusive.

Szabo’s Smart Buys

Maison Roche De Bellene 2011 Montagny 1er Cru, Burgundy, France ($26.95). Nicolas Potel’s negociant range, what he describes as “haute couture” Burgundy, finds its way regularly into my smart buys, achieving what so few Burgundies can: fine quality at prices well below the average for their respective appellations. The Côte Châlonnaise south of the Côte d’Or has long been a source of value red and white Burgundy (and Crémant), and applied to Potel’s formula, it’s as safe a bet as you can find. I love the green nut and mineral character of this Montagny; lovely stuff, ready to pour.

Ilocki Podrumi 2011 Premium Grasevina, Syrmia, Croatia ($23.95 ). If you like full-bodied aromatic whites in the style of, say, Alsatian pinot gris, (dry) gewürztraminer or viognier, this will fit the bill. It’s a premium-priced Croatian Grasevina (aka Welschriesling), but also very characterful, evidently concentrated, with loads of beguiling acacia and almond blossoms, ripe orchard, pear and orange flavours. Ready to enjoy.

Alvaro Palacios 2011 Velles Vinyes Les Terrasses Priorat, Spain ($46.95). Palacios’ old vines (though entry-level Priorat) has explosive wild violet and rock-rose tinged aromatics reminiscent of great Douro reds, with masses of fruit and superior extract/concentration, yet still retains a sense of proportion and grace. It’s the magic of the ancient schistous terroir of Priorat. Give this another 2-4 years in the cellar, or hold into the mid-twenties and beyond – it’s well worth the money.

Maison Roche De Bellene Montagny 1er Cru 2011Ilocki Podrumi Premium Grasevina 2011Alvaro Palacios Velles Vinyes Les Terrasses 2011Maetierra Dominum Qp 2006Château Puech Haut Prestige Saint Drézéry 2011

Maetierra 2006 Dominum QP Rioja, Spain ($22.95). The “QP” stands for quatro pagos, or four vineyards, as this is a blend of tempranillo, graciano and garnacha from four different estates in the Rioja appellation. A year and a half in new French oak gives this a spicy, heavily wood-influenced profile, but I appreciate the underlying tart red berry fruit. Ideally I’d revisit this in 3-5 years, at which point I’d expect the wonderfully savoury-herbal and spicy profile of mature Rioja to come out of its shell.

Château Puech-Haut 2011 Prestige Saint-Drézéry, Languedoc, France ($29.95). Fans of serious Rhône Valley reds should venture further west to the Languedoc, where similar conditions and essentially the same grapes, coupled with relative obscurity, often add up to great value. This is intense and concentrated, with impressive depth, and a generous helping of southern French-style scorched earth, garrigue, black fruit and licorice-spice flavours. Try again in 2-4 years to benefit from added complexity and better integration or hold till the early ‘20s.

Sara’s Sommelier Selections

Malivoire Riesling 2012Malivoire Musqué Spritz 2013Poderi Elia Moscato D'asti 2012Poderi Elia 2012 Moscato d’Asti, Piedmont, Italy ($15.95). A bouquet of fresh spring flowers is authentically presented in this affable and characteristically sweet Moscato with a great deal of charm. Winemaker Federico Stella’s strict attention to detail, sustainable practices and small lot production often make for head-turning wines.

Malivoire 2013 Musqué Spritz, Beamsville Bench, Ontario ($19.95). In a spring state of mind, I have chosen yet another floral, juicy and engaging selection that is bursting with flavour. There is a certain air of whimsy about this delightfully effervescent gem that will have you feeling carefree in no time.

Malivoire 2012 Riesling, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario ($15.95). Winemaker Shiraz Mottiar has rocked this riesling – a varietal that has not been the winery’s forte. Despite the untraditional bottle shape, the wine delivers a classic nervy and zesty mouthfeel, loaded with an abundance of mineral and saline.

Dürnberg Rabenstein Grüner Veltliner 2011Cascina Del Pozzo Roero Arneis 2012Dürnberg RabensteManoir Du Carra Fleurie 2010in 2011 Grüner Veltliner, Weinviertel, Austria ($24.95). Produced from 50-year-old vines perched on the high slopes of the village of Falkenstein, this delightful grüner spends a year in large barriques with fine lees gaining extra body and complexity. Traditional and very typical of the varietal with lovely peppery notes along with cool stone and juicy grapefruit. The packaging makes this an attractive host gift or a centerpiece at the table.

Cascina Del Pozzo 2012 Roero Arneis, Piedmont, Italy  ($18.95). With the warm weather finally upon us, I’m delighted to have discovered so many interesting white wines in this release. Arneis, although difficult to cultivate due to its low acid, susceptibility to mildew and its “rascally” nature, can prove a real delight when properly treated and offers notes of wildflower, fresh herbs and pear. This is truly a fresh breath of spring air.

Manoir Du Carra 2010 Fleurie, Beaujolais, France ($24.95). This cru Beaujolais really caught my eye or should I say tongue offering seductive flavours and textures while putting forth a great deal of complexity. Fleurie is often touted as the “Queen of Crus” in Beaujolais and is the most widely exported of the crus. Although this version may be light on the characteristic floral nature of Fleurie, it is certainly chalk full of flavour and energy. Ideal for short-term cellaring or immediate consumption.

Winemaker’s dinner with Inniskillin’s Bruce Nicholson in Ottawa – May 1st

Bruce Nicholson

Bruce Nicholson

Inniskillin’s Bruce Nicholson is one of Canada’s most respected and awarded winemakers, lifting Inniskillin into a 5th place finish in the 2013 National Wine Awards ‘Top Wineries’ category. He, along with the Ottawa Citizen’s Rod Phillips, will be hosting a winemaker’s dinner at Graffiti’s Italian Eatery in Kanata on May 1st, exclusively for WineAlign members. Bruce will guide you through a select offering of Inniskillin wines, each paired with a specially prepared dish. He will speak about the unique viticulture and terroir of the Niagara region and talk about the history behind the winery that brought modern Ontario wine to life. (Click here for more details)

And that’s a wrap for this edition. Watch next week as we look at VINTAGES May 10 release feature themes on South America and Germany.

Cheers,

David Lawrason
VP of Wine

From the April 26, 2014 VINTAGES release:

Lawrason’s Take
Szabo’s Smart Buys
Sara’s Sommelier Picks
All Reviews
April 26 – Part One – Champagne & Bordeaux

Editors Note: You can find our Critic’s complete 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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Reaching out for Silent Auction Wines

Supporting Second Harvest’s food rescue program
By Julian Hitner

Second Harvest logoOn Sunday 8 June 2014 at Corus Quay (25 Dockside Drive) beginning at 6:00 p.m., hundreds of gourmet cuisine and wine connoisseurs will be flocking to Toronto’s revitalized waterfront for a calorically colossal evening of great foods, craft beers, and fine wines. Toronto Taste is organized every year by charitable food distributor Second Harvest (the largest in Canada), the event also includes a silent wine auction, which I have headed for over five years.

Obviously, we need wines to make this happen. This year, we are reaching out to legions of wine-lovers and agents throughout Ontario in hopes of securing a few extra donations for this year’s exciting charitable event. In exchange for your generosity, your name or organization (if desired) shall appear on the auction bidding sheet. All donors shall also receive a tax receipt based on the appraisal value of the wine. There is no minimum amount (or value) you have to submit. We’re happy to take everything we can get and auction it off to support those in our city who most need our help.

Second Harvest

If you would like to donate some wine, please contact me at julianhitner@hitnerwine.com or telephone Jennifer Chow (416.408.2594 ext. 240) at Second Harvest directly. To make things as easy as possible, all submissions will be picked up at your place of residence or business. Though we will be accepting donations right up until the last week of May, we need to get a head start on this right away. Sorting and cataloging of all these wines takes time!

Cheers,

Julian Hitner


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Vintages Preview for April 26, 2014 (Part One)

Champagne and Bordeaux 2009-2010
By John Szabo with notes from Sara d’Amato and David Lawrason

John Szabo, MS

John Szabo, MS

Three out of five featured Champagnes in the VINTAGES April 26th are outstanding. But the main feature, red Bordeaux from 2009 and 2010, has a far less impressive hit rate. This is not the first time I’ve been disappointed by wines from these two celebrated vintages; many fall on the overripe, hard and violently oaky side, and it’s not just youthful exuberance. It’s a reminder of the clear and present danger of ‘calling’ a vintage across an entire (in this case, enormous) region. David Lawrason agrees, describing the release as “really slim pickings”. I’ve nevertheless highlighted a trio of engaging wines at fair prices, while Sara d’Amato and David also share their top picks.

The Stars Align on the Champagne/Sparkling Feature

There was plenty of synchronicity this week, with critics aligning on three of the five Champagnes on offer (with recommendations from at least two critics), and one trifecta, as close to a guarantee of quality as we can provide.

Marguet Père & Fils Grand Cru Brut Champagne 2006Moutard Père & Fils Cuvée Des 6 Cépages Brut Champagne 2006Fleury Blanc De Noirs Brut ChampagneMarguet Père & Fils 2006 Grand Cru Brut Champagne, France ($65.95). John Szabo – The vineyards are all grand cru, with Chardonnay from the Côte des Blancs and Pinot Noir from old vines in the Montagne de Reims. Ageing on the lees for five years gives this a rich and powerful, nicely yeasty-toasty profile, while a lovely mix of orchard fruit and citrus/orange, along with toasted almonds, dried flowers and brioche notes to amp up the complexity. Dosage and acidity are nicely lined up and the length is terrific; lovely stuff, for current enjoyment or mid-term hold. Sara D’Amato – A powerful Champagne, classic, leesy and oozing with charm, it’s hard to tear yourself away from such a compelling bottle. Marguet prides itself on using sustainable and organic methods of production throughout their range. David Lawrason – This fine Champagne is a clinic on how well top vintage Champagnes can age. And it is much less expensive than many vintage Champagnes from the larger companies. This family firm in Ambonnay has been making Champagne for five generations.

Moutard Père & Fils Cuvée Des 6 Cépages Brut Champagne 2006, France ($87.95). John Szabo – An extra $20 buys you the top bottle on my list. The Moutard-Diligent family can trace its history in the southern part of Champagne known as the Côte des Bar as far back as 1642. But while most of the region has moved on to focus on just three varieties – pinot noir, pinot meunier and chardonnay, this estate still grows three almost forgotten (but still authorized) champagne grapes: arbanne, petit meslier and pinot blanc. These are blended with the big three to make the “Cuvée des Six Cépages”. The 2006 is beautifully mature and toasty at this stage, with dazzling hazelnut, white chocolate and brioche aromas, and wonderfully creamy, intensely flavoured palate. It’s a very classy and refine champagne, drinking beautifully now. Sara D’Amato – Perhaps my top pick of this rather impressive sparkling feature. A must taste if Champagne is your weakness.

Tawse Spark Riesling 2012Schloss Reinhartshausen Brut Riesling Deutscher SektCharles De Cazanove Brut Rosé ChampagneChampagne Fleury Blanc De Noirs Brut, France ($54.95). John Szabo – The Côte des Bar is home to the first, and still one of the very few biodynamic vineyards in Champagne, converted in 1989. This cuvée has been made every vintage since 1955 when, it was created by Robert Fleury. The reserve pinot noir wines used to assemble this cuvée are aged in large oak foudre, adding a notably burnished, pleasantly oxidative flavour profile: toasted almonds and hazelnuts, dried fruit  and plenty of toasted wheat bread with honey. This will appeal to fans of traditional, mature Champagnes, or what the French call “le gout anglais”, suitable for sipping but even better for the table, and, say, a hazelnut-encrusted sea bass. Sara D’Amato – Looking for a bubbly to serve with your main course? This pinot noir Champagne offers a heavier weight and more substantial profile that can live up to a versatile assortment of main courses from fatty fishes to roast pork. I love the wild complexity of this highly memorable Champagne and its statement making character.

Charles De Cazanove Brut Rosé Champagne, France ($54.95). David Lawrason – This large one-million bottle company has been through several ownership changes and now belongs to a family-owned group. This quite delicate wine catches the essential, subtle fruity charm I look for in rosé Champagne. It’s a blend of 50% pinot noir, 20% pinot meunier, 15% chardonnay and 15% coteaux champenois rouge.

Schloss Reinhartshausen Brut Riesling Deutscher Sekt, Rheingau, Germany ($17.95). David Lawrason – It is very rare to see quality German sekt at VINTAGES, and not only is this a good example, it is very well priced. Riesling sparklings are often a bit one-dimensional with riesling’s acidity the focal point (eg Tawse’s Spark). In this example I actually found some Rheingau-based complexity and minerality, a fine German riesling with bubbles.

Tawse Spark Riesling 2012, Limestone Ridge Estate Vineyard, VQA Twenty Mile Bench, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada ($19.95). Sara d’Amato – A great sparkling riesling delivers a punch that traditional chardonnay based Champagnes just can’t quite achieve. Here is a lovely example of such a punchy, dynamic sparkler from a producer who focuses on Niagara’s star grape varieties. Both elegant and energetic with the sophistication worthy of a classy affair or decadent pairing with oysters.

The Bordeaux Rouge Release

While the 2009 and 2010 are widely considered to be back-to-back “vintages of the century”, and there are some absolutely monumental wines (see for example my review of the 2009 Château Margaux, tasted in a blind lineup last October), neither vintage offers carte blanche to buy across the board.

As Sara d’Amato points out, “this rather unremarkable release will have you happy you are a WineAlign subscriber, as it has but a few well-priced and satisfying wines. Heavy demand for these vintages means that they have been likely picked over and we are seeing what remains.”

Tasting the collection from the April 26th release, as well as many others that have come through in the last year or so, I find the quality spotty. Certainly in some cases at least the wines have moved into a dark period when the hatches are all battened down and there’s little pleasure to be had – in such cases patience is required – but they’ll be fine wines when they finally unwind.

But a good many of the ‘petit’ and mid-range châteaux appear to have been overly enthused by the clement weather, gleefully allowing ripeness and extraction to get away while they were busy placing big orders with local barrel makers to up the percentage of new wood in anticipation of uncommon fruit intensity. The end results are often baked, rippingly tannic and oaky, quite the opposite of what I’d hope for from Bordeaux (I can find that style of wine elsewhere for a fraction of the cost). Where a more even-handed, reasoned approach was applied, however, the results are excellent, and in some cases offer fine value.

Château La Croix Chantecaille 2009Château Haut Selve 2010Château Donissan 2010Over on the right bank, a château that seems to have gotten everything right without going over the top is Château La Croix Chantecaille and its 2009 Saint-Émilion Grand Cru ($29.95). John Szabo – This merlot dominant (2/3, with 1/3 cabernet franc), velvet-textured St. Émilion is certainly satisfying, ripe and plush, but with well-measured wood spice and enough succulent acidity to keep the palate focused. Best 2015-2026.  Sara D’Amato – Bordering the region of Pomerol, at a mere couple hundred meters from the vineyards of Petrus, Château La Croix Chantecaille produces some exceptional wines consulted on by Michel Rolland’s team. This is perhaps the most impressive wine of this Bordelaise feature which expresses the modern appeal of the 2009 vintage. Be prepared to carry away more than a bottle or two, especially at this price.

The Graves AOC south of Bordeaux on the left bank of the Garonne/Gironde (and the smaller more prestigious Péssac-Léognan enclave within it) are the source of some of the most reliable pleasure-price ratios in the region, as evinced by such wines as the 2010 Château Haut Selve, Graves ($21.95). John Szabo – A property established only late last century, yesterday in Bordeaux terms, Haut Selve has quickly become one of the leading players in the Graves, collecting an impressive haul of international medals of late. The 2010 perfectly strides that knife-edge of ripeness and freshness, allowing neither aspect to dominate, while delivering finesse and subtlety. This should be best after 2016 and hold into the mid ‘20s.

For solid sub-$20 Bordeaux, consider the 2010 Château Donissan, Listrac-Médoc ($17.95). John Szabo – It’s a firm, nicely balanced, lean but juicy Médoc, with dusty tannins, lively acids, and a nice mix of red and black berry fruit. Best now-2020.

Château Lamartine 2010Château Le Bourdillot Séduction 2009Château Le Bourdieu 2010Château Le Bourdieu 2010, Médoc ($20.95). David Lawrason – This is one of the more charming and better value entries in an otherwise rather underwhelming release of petits châteaux Bordeaux. No great depth or structure but it nicely shows the light-hearted elegance of the sandier soils near the Gironde estuary on the northern tip of the Medoc peninsula.

Château Le Bourdillot Séduction 2009, Graves ($18.95).  Sara d’Amato – The name is not wrong – the wine is rather seductive with impressive depth and structure for the price not to mention a voluptuous body and nicely integrated exotic spice. Somewhat modern and certainly appealing which is more a trait of the vintage than the region. Produced from 20-year-old vines and a straight 70/30 cabernet sauvignon and merlot blend.

Château Lamartine 2010, Castillon Côtes De Bordeaux ($16.95 ). Sara d’Amato – Castillon is a lesser-known appellation on the right bank of Bordeaux on the way to the city of Bergerac, near St. Émilion. It often produces wine of very good value from heavier, clay-based soils that are more suited to merlot-dominant blends. Surprisingly very good quality stems from this entry-level wine that has been machine harvested followed by grape sorting, cold maceration and finally 18 months ageing in concrete vats (an old world norm that produces consistently, solid results without unnecessary flavours of oak). I loved the traditional feel of this slightly earthy, sweaty blend brimming with charm.

Happening at WineAlign

Inniskillin logoFor our Ottawa area members, there’s an opportunity to join us for an exclusive dinner at Graffiti’s Italian Eatery in Kanata. Hosted by WineAlign’s Rod Phillips, Inniskillin winemaker Bruce Nicholson will guide you through a select offering of Inniskillin wines, each paired with a specially prepared gourmet dish. Bruce will speak about the unique viticulture and terroir of the Niagara region and talk about some of the history behind one of Niagara’s most iconic wineries. (Click her for more details)

That’s all for this week. See you over the next bottle.

John Szabo, MS

John Szabo, MS

From the April 26, 2014 VINTAGES release:

Champagne/Sparkling
Bordeaux Rouge
All Reviews
April 26 – Part Two

Editors Note: You can find our Critic’s complete 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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Winemaker’s Dinner with Award Winning Inniskillin Wines (Ottawa)

WineAlign is delighted to present a multi-course dinner with each course expertly paired with the award-winning wines of Inniskillin on Thursday, May 1st in Kanata. 

Rod Phillips

Rod Phillips

Join us for an exclusive dinner at Graffiti’s Italian Eatery in Kanata with winemaker Bruce Nicholson, as he guides you through a select offering of Inniskillin wines, each paired with a specially prepared gourmet dish. Bruce will speak about the unique viticulture and terroir of the Niagara region and talk about some of the history behind one of Niagara’s most iconic wineries.

Bruce will be joined by Rod Phillips (WineAlign, Ottawa Citizen).

Event Details:

Date:  Thursday, May 1, 2014
Location: Graffiti’s Italian Eatery, Kanata
Reception: 6:30 – 7pm
Dinner: 7:00pm – 9:30pm
Tickets: $80.00 (plus taxes and fees)

Please note tickets are limited, so book early to avoid disappointment.

2014-04-14_10-19-05

Purchase Your Tickets Here

Menu

Each course is paired with an Inniskillin wine.

Baby Arugula, figs, prosciutto, goat cheese, reduced balsamic vinaigrette.

Crispy Blue crab cake, mango relish, and shaved fennel.

Seared duck breast with roasted parsnip, shallots, potato and heirloom carrots in a tarragon and orange glaze.

Fresh fruit Martini with Chocolate Almond Biscotti

*There are no substitutions*

 

About Bruce Nicholson:

Bruce Nicholson

Bruce Nicholson, Winemaker, Inniskillin Niagara

Bruce Nicholson joined Inniskillin Wines, Niagara-on-the-Lake as Winemaker on January 1, 2007, after an outstanding career in the Okanagan where he was Senior Winemaker for Jackson-Triggs Okanagan Estate in British Columbia.

Born and raised in Ontario’s leading wine region, the Niagara Peninsula, Nicholson was intrigued by the winemaking industry from an early age. After studying Sciences at Ontario’s Ryerson University and University of Windsor, Nicholson apprenticed in winemaking in Niagara before heading out to Western Canada. Ironically he approached Inniskillin Co-Founder Karl Kaiser in his first attempt for a job in the Niagara wine industry. As fate would have it, that job did not materialize, and now Nicholson has come full circle to lead Inniskillin’s winemaking team following Kaiser’s retirement in 2006.

Recognized for his broad skills and talent, Nicholson was selected to lead Jackson-Triggs Okanagan Winery in 1993, and has since been credited for creating its award-winning Okanagan VQA wines. He has gained considerable recognition in the international arena as well as leaving an indelible mark in the history and growth of the British Columbia wine industry.

When the opportunity presented itself, Nicholson was eager to apply his experience and skills in Niagara leading the Inniskillin Winemaking Team which includes Assistant Winemaker Marc Pistor and thirty year veteran Cellar Master J.R. Patterson. Nicholson’s wines are both distinctive and defined. He is dedicated to his career goal of staying true to the individual characteristics of the varietals while ensuring that it reaches its maximum potential. He pays attention to both the Science and the Art of winemaking, commenting, “I enjoy working with the good acidities here in Niagara and I believe the potential is endless.”

About Graffiti’s

SEE and BE SEEN at the newly refreshed Graffiti’s Italian Eatery, conveniently located in the Holiday Inn Kanata. The ideal choice for breakfast or casual fine dining for lunch or dinner, Graffiti’s is perfect for special occasions or meeting friends and colleagues. Featuring modern italian cuisine, Graffiti’s offers a variety of “Venetian inspired” menu selections, including our clay oven fired gourmet pizzas and focaccia flatbreads, tantalizing pastas, plus a full range of entrees including Black Angus beef selections.

2014-04-14_10-35-47

Note: Our winemaker events have been consistently and quickly selling out.  If you are interested in attending then we advise you to purchase your tickets as soon as possible to avoid disappointment.

Purchase Your Tickets Here

 

 

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Les bons choix de Marc

Comment résoudre le casse-tête de Pâques
de Marc Chapleau

Le problème avec Pâques, ce n’est ni le jambon, ni l’agneau et ni le chocolat traditionnels que l’on s’escrime à marier à tel ou tel vin. Non, la vraie difficulté, le vrai casse-tête, c’est qu’il n’y a justement plus de coutume qui tienne. De nos jours, on doit en effet s’attendre cette fin de semaine là à manger à peu près n’importe quoi, et souvent un peu de tout, au cours du même repas.

Marc Chapleau sm

Marc Chapleau

Moralité : il nous faut un ou des vins passe-partout, à même d’accompagner sans trop de dommage une grande variété de plats.

Surtout qu’il arrive souvent que l’on ne sache même pas ce qu’on va manger précisément, étant donné qu’on est invité. Dans ces cas-là – et à moins d’être impoli comme moi et de texter la veille à ses hôtes pour s’enquérir du menu –, pas de risques à prendre. Et surtout pas de gros rouges tanniques, l’heure étant en règle générale à la légèreté, à la table même comme autour.

Fort bien, direz-vous, mais que fait-on si on mange de l’agneau ? Un rouge costaud s’impose alors pour soutenir la comparaison, non ?

Un rouge assez généreux, oui, mais pas nécessairement tannique ni relativement astringent.

Quoi qu’il en soit, voici, à divers prix, des pistes pour se tirer d’affaire en présence de différents plats, et j’oserai dire jusqu’au traditionnel jambon.

Commençons justement par ce cochon, tiens. Ma suggestion : oubliez le vin, pour une fois, et accompagnez-le d’un autre type de grand cru, la savoureuse bière belge Chimay Trappistes Grande Réserve vendue en bouteille de 750 ml au prix très raisonnable de 10,70 $. Pour une poignée de dollars, la chance de s’offrir l’une des plus grandes bières au monde !

Vous grimacez ? Trop triviale, une bière ?

Dans ce cas, pourquoi pas l’un de nos excellents cidres locaux, en train de gagner – ou de regagner – l’estime des Québécois.

Chimay Trappistes Grande Réserve Extra Forte  Cidrerie Du Minot Crémant De Pomme 2013  Domaine Lafrance Cidre Mousseux  Michel Jodoin Cidre Mousseux Rosé  Tabali Reserva Especial Chardonnay 2012

Parmi les meilleurs disponibles sur le marché, le Crémant de pomme rosé du Minot, le Cidre mousseux « avec un soupçon de cidre de glace » Domaine Lafrance et le Cidre rosé mousseux Michel Jodoin.

Autrement, si vous n’aimez pas les bulles, le jambon avec os simplement bouilli et servi sans trop de façon s’accommodera, en blanc tranquille, d’un chardonnay comme le très bon Tabali Reserva Especial Chardonnay 2012, à 19 $ et provenant de la vallée de Limari, au Chili.

DES ROUGES PASSE-PARTOUT

Dog Point Vineyard Pinot Noir 2011Margrain Vineyards Home Block Pinot Noir 2010Schug Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast 2012Du côté des vins rouges qui pourraient aller avec la plupart des viandes et même l’agneau, de même qu’avec les quiches et autres préparations typiques des brunchs, ne faites ni une ni deux et optez pour du pinot noir. Mais pas de Bourgogne : plutôt du Nouveau Monde, pour avoir plus facilement et à bon compte un vin plus généreux et plus fruité, plus consensuel aussi, à même de plaire à une majorité.

Trois bons choix à la SAQ présentement. De Californie d’abord, le Schug Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir 2012, à 28,20 $. Puis, deux vins de Nouvelle-Zélande : à 35 $, le Margrain Home Block Pinot Noir 2010 et, un cran meilleur mais aussi un bon cran plus cher (48,75 $), le Dog Point Pinot Noir 2011. À servir rafraîchis, les trois, après un passage d’environ 45 minutes au frigo.

ET LE CHOCOLAT ?

Je n’allais pas l’oublier. Sauf que, ça me gêne un peu, nous sommes ici sur un site de vin et de boissons alcoolisées… mais voilà, il y a aussi qu’on y dit les vraies affaires, rien n’est arrangé avec le gars des vues.

Tommasi Recioto Valpolicella 2010Alors voici : le meilleur accord avec le chocolat, et de loin, c’est avec un bon café – et je ne blague pas. Maintenant, si vous y tenez, essayez le Recioto Valpolicella Tommasi 2010, à 26 $ la demi-bouteille. Moins sucré qu’un porto, et porté par une très belle acidité, cet excellent vin de dessert de la Vénétie ne titre au surplus que 13 % d’alcool. Ça se boit en criant coco !

À noter que ce serait également une excellente idée d’oublier toute nourriture et de le siroter pour lui-même, en plein air, sur la galerie, en priant très fort pour que le beau temps s’installe à demeure et que l’été, bientôt, ressuscite…

Voilà pour ma contribution en liquide au happening pascal. Ne forcez pas trop sur le chocolat, ça tache les doigts. À très bientôt !

Marc Chapleau

P.-S. Et avec tout ça je n’ai même pas parlé du rosé, pourtant le vin passe-partout par excellence ! Je vous invite donc à aller jeter un oeil sur le dernier texte de Nadia Fournier [Les choix de Nadia – Cellier], qui en recommande un très bon.

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 grands vins!


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Best Buys in BC – Easter Spotlight

Peter Cottontail is en route, hopping down the bunny trail to appear either as a chocolate benefactor or an entrée, depending on your family plans (and sense of humour, I suppose). From Easter egg hunts to leisurely spring brunch to a multicourse dinner, Easter long weekend is often centered around food. As we all know at WineAlign, wine and food goes together as organically as Easter morning and treats. With that in mind, we based this month’s Best Buys picks around what we will be pairing to this long weekend’s feasting. 

BC Critic Team

Anthony Gismondi

Sunday is Easter and with the two big turkey holidays (Thanksgiving and Christmas) behind us, the question is, will it be ham, lamb, pork or fish and which wines should you be thinking about pairing with your choice? This month we explore some of the classic Easter matches. I know, they are no rules anymore when it comes to pairing food and wine, but as mother might say “If your friends were jump off a bridge would you do it too?” Maybe she was thinking about those people who drink shiraz with halibut and cabernet with sushi just because someone said drinking red wine is good for you. Years of experience have taught me some wines react better with certain foods than others. The trick is to know which is which.

One of Easter’s problematic matches is that handsomely glazed ham awash in sugar (pineapple) and salt. Both ingredients tend to bring out the bitterness and tannins in wine. The pairing is not insurmountable as long as you think about fruity, lighter structured reds with supple tannins. Garnacha from Spain or grenache from France should do the job. My pick is M. Chapoutier Belleruche Côtes du Rhône 2012, a mix of grenache and syrah it yields a juicy, fresh, peppery, black fruit flavoured red perfect with the fat and sweetness of the ham. Where white wine is in play a non-wooded or lightly wooded pinot grigio (or gris) would be equally acceptable and my pick is a local favourite: Mission Hill Pinot Gris Reserve 2012. Its round, full, fatter palate with passion fruit, pink grapefruit, and baked green apple is just the ticket to handle the busy flavours of a holiday ham.

M. Chapoutier Belleruche Côtes Du Rhône 2012  Mission Hill Reserve Pinot Gris 2012  Domaine De Bila Haut Occultum Lapidem 2011 Falernia Reserva Syrah 2010

Lamb is more of a slam dunk pairing for syrah or shiraz. A roasted leg of lamb allows for plenty of manoeuvring room with red wine but the classic match is syrah or shiraz. Plenty of minty, lamb flavours call for an equally intense red to tame them and you get that with syrah or syrah blends such as the M. Chapoutier Domaine de Bila-Haut Occultum Lapidem 2011, a classic stony, savoury, umami styled Roussillon with juicy black fruit that is rich and intense. Lamb is the perfect foil. The crazy syrah value is Falernia Syrah Reserve 2010 from the Elqui Valley in Chile. Its black pepper, black cherries, chocolate and tobacco will surely melt every mouthful of lamb.

The delicate flavour of pork makes it an ideal candidate for citrus-based marinades and you can choose red or white wine for the match, but the best is riesling. One of the best new world values is the Peter Lehmann Wigan Riesling 2008 from the Eden Valley. Its juicy lime aromas, electric riesling flavours and zesty minerality will all tame the pork. Locally my pick is the Red Rooster Riesling 2012. The style is off-dry, with refreshing acidity and delicious lemon, peach and guava fruit flavours that should carve their way through the pork.

Peter Lehmann Wigan Riesling 2008  Red Rooster Riesling 2012 Louis Roederer Brut Premier Champagne Cono Sur 20 Barrels Limited Edition Pinot Noir 2011

Let’s see now – all that leaves is B.C.’s signature fish: the salmon. In its simplest form the pre-meal smoked salmon (and cream cheese) can be a delight to share with your dinner guests. In this case I’m sticking to sparkling wine and a classic Louis Roederer Brut Premier Champagne N/V. Fruity, mineral, oyster shell, nutty, floral undertones set the pace for a delicious pre-dinner aperitif that will stand up to the smoke and salmon. If salmon is the main course you may want to consider the classic B.C presentation: cedar-planked salmon. In this case the dense ‘meaty’ oily fish with its smoky flavours can play host to a rich New World pinot noir. My pick is Cono Sur 20 Barrels Pinot Noir 2011. Clearly one of the better Chilean pinots we have tasted this year and still affordable. Look for fruit sweetness and tangy acidity pulling at each other and causing pleasing tension, perfect for salmon. Happy Easter.

DJ Kearney

I love Easter for the egg hunts, the bonnets, the 4 day weekend and especially the non-stop feasting.  Drinking, cooking and eating a wide variety of flavours from all corners of the Easter-celebrating world demands a broad range of wine styles.

8th Generation Riesling 2012Wolf Blass Gold Label Chardonnay 2012Château De Sancerre Sancerre 2012A whole baked or grilled salmon can feed an extended family crowd with minimal fuss.  Whether you wrap fillets in puff pastry or simply stuff with citrus, and aromatic herbs, white wine needs to have some substance and architecture to contend with richness and intense fish flavour.  The Chateau de Sancerre 2012 offers the necessary beam of focused citrus, crunchy acidity, and persistence.

A richer partner for salmon (and excellent with baked ham too) is a Wolf Blass Gold Label Chardonnay 2012 – a stunner that’s not just brilliantly priced, but an ager as well.  Make a lipsmacking, glossy lemon butter sauce for the salmon for optimal pairing magic.

Smoky, succulent sweet-salty baked bone-in ham is not only a centerpiece, it will yield a motherload of meals all week-long. A barely off-dry Riesling for the luscious texture, sweet glaze and crunchy, fatty bits like 8th Generation Riesling 2012 will keep your palate cleansed and tingling through every bite.  Add herbes de provence to the brine, darken the glaze honey and red wine, and uncork a smooth southern Rhone wine like the M. Chapoutier Belleruche Côtes du Rhône 2012.  And if you are roasting a rosemary-marinated leg of lamb for Easter dinner, their Côtes du Rhône will fit like a velvet-y glove.

Rhys Pender, MW

Easter is just around the corner, a time when the promise of spring is in the air, but it still can be chilly and I am not yet ready to switch wine focus to just light, crisp and chilling whites, bubbly and rosé. It is a time to sit on the fence with something refreshing for the afternoon apéro, with something a little more warming to suit the cool evenings.

Gonzalez Byass Tio Pepe Palomino Fino Extra Dry SherryGérard Bertrand Château L'hospitalet 2011 Spier Signature Chenin Blanc 2012 Rodney Strong Cabernet Sauvignon 2011

Easter food is also well suited to these kinds of wines. If you do lamb or ham or if the Easter bunny ends up in your pot, a softer, earthy red or a full-bodied white will do the trick. For apéro, be brave and try the Gonzalez Byass Tio Pepe Fino Sherry. This slightly odd salty, bready and crisp wine grows on you with time, particularly if served with snacks of roasted nuts, olives and anything deep-fried. When moving onto Easter dinner try the Gérard Bertrand 2011 Château l’Hospitalet La Clape for its soft, savoury warmth, the similarly themed M. Chapoutier Belleruche Côtes du Rhône 2012 or a fuller bodied white such as the Spier Chenin Blanc 2012 from South Africa. If roast lamb is your Easter treat, the Rodney Strong Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2011 has the right mix of flavour intensity and structure to match well.

Treve Ring

As spring sunshine returns to BC, my mind turns towards the warmth of Spain. The extreme diversity across the land of bulls affords wines to suit all tastes and menus. Easter Brunch will be brightened with the consistent, crisp, bright (organic!) brut cava from Pares Balta – a sparkling steal of a deal with pure apple, citrus and stone. If roasted pork or rabbit is on the menu, Toro’s Elias Mora 2010 would suit, reflecting the sunwarmed heat of the renegade region through its red-fruited, unfiltered 100% tinta de toro (tempranillo). Should herb grilled lamb be making an appearance, a fitting match is Vinos de Finca’s Losada 2009 from Bierzo, highlighting the mencia grape in this lush, juniper-scented big red.

Parés Baltà Cava Brut Viñas Elias Mora 2010Losada Bierzo 2009 Domäne Wachau Terraces Grüner Veltliner 2012 Domaine Lathuiliere Pisse Vieille Brouilly 2012 Lini 910 Labrusca

But Spain doesn’t reserve all my attention this holiday weekend. The savoury Domaine Wachau 2010 Gruner Veltliner Terraces from Austria caught my memory this month, intriguing with its anise textured and honey kissed notes. Try it with the first of the halibut season. Much closer to home, Stag’s Hollow 2013 Riesling from Amalia Vineyard on Osoyoos’ west bench would make for a fantastic versatile bottle for the table; the shining peach, lime and creamy peach a match for dishes porcine, poultry or piscine. I poured the pure and structured deliciousness of Domaine Lathuiliere Brouilly Pisse Vieille 2012 for a Cru Beaujolais tasting this month, impressing the trade group with its blend of stony seriousness and berry fruitiness. This old-vine gamay would be a brilliant fit for your Easter turkey or cran-glazed ham (#GoGamayGo). If, like me, your traditions are decidedly unconventional, pick up the dry, fruity Lini 910 Lambrusco from Italy’s Emilia-Romagna region. The striking bottle has ripe berry depth and enough tannin to take on salmon, tuna or poultry, plus fresh acidity and lively bubbles to lend to the festivities.

Editors Note: You can find complete 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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Les choix de Nadia – Cellier

Beaux, bons et pas toujours chers
de Nadia Fournier

Nadia Fornier

Nadia Fornier

Il y a quelques semaines, la presse spécialisée était conviée à déguster une trentaine de vins présentés dans le dernier numéro du magazine Cellier. En toute justice, je dois avouer que la qualité d’ensemble était particulièrement satisfaisante. Ce qui n’a pas toujours été le cas au cours des derniers mois.

Aussi, plutôt que de se limiter aux vins italiens de renom comme le laisse supposer la page couverture, le présent arrivage mise sur une sélection assez hétérogène. Du Médoc à McLaren Vale (Australie), en passant par le Roussillon et la vallée de l’Okanagan, on en trouvera pour tous les goûts.

Guilhem & Jean Hugues Goisot Bourgogne Côtes D'auxerre 2012Parmi les vins qui seront mis en marché demain, le 17 avril, peu de nouveautés, mais une poignée de valeurs sûres que l’on revisitera avec un plaisir sincère, comme cet excellent Bourgogne Côtes d’Auxerre Pinot noir 2012, l’Empreinte du Terroir (22,25 $), produit par la famille Goisot. Régal de suavité et de fraîcheur, ce vin étonne par son étoffe en bouche et regorge de saveurs fruitées très pures, évoquant la cerise acidulée. Élégant, digeste et tout à fait dans l’esprit du millésime 2012 en Bourgogne. Son originalité repose, entre autres, sur une petite proportion de césar, un cépage obscur que l’on retrouve presque exclusivement à Irancy, une appellation du nord de la Bourgogne. Mordus de pinot noir, faites-en provision !

Loin d’être en reste, les amateurs de vins de Bordeaux voudront mettre la main sur ce duo médocain d’une qualité irréprochable. Tellement bons qu’ils pourraient même reconquérir ceux d’entre vous qui ont tourné le dos à Bordeaux depuis la montée stratosphérique des prix au cours de la dernière décennie. Car en plus d’être abordables, ces deux vins s’inscrivent parfaitement dans l’idée que l’on se fait d’un bon « claret ». Cette expression britannique presque désuète aujourd’hui s’emploie traditionnellement pour désigner les vins rouges du Médoc que l’on buvait avec plaisir à table, tant ils étaient digestes.

Château Les Ormes Sorbet 2009Château Tour Haut Caussan 2009Rien de flamboyant donc, dans ces deux crus bourgeois. Plutôt un profil très classique qui mérite d’être signalé dans le contexte du millésime 2009, qui a donné naissance à des vins particulièrement denses et concentrés.

Château Tour Haut-Caussan, Médoc 2009 (30,50 $)

Sur la commune de Blaignan, à une douzaine de kilomètres de St-Estèphe, ce cru bourgeois est la source d’un vin solide, charpenté et d’une mouture très médocaine. La matière est mûre, avec juste ce qu’il faut d’aspérités tanniques pour donner du tonus à l’ensemble. On peut déjà l’apprécier, mais il continuera de se bonifier jusqu’en 2020.

Château Les Ormes Sorbet, Médoc 2009 (35 $)

Jean Boivert a laissé en héritage une belle propriété d’une vingtaine d’hectares devenue l’un des meilleurs crus bourgeois du nord du Médoc. Le 2009 profite d’un usage intelligent de la barrique, qui met en valeur l’étoffe et la structure caractéristique du cabernet sauvignon, sans en dénaturer les arômes. Déjà savoureux, son équilibre lui permettra de tenir aisément jusqu’en 2020.

Pour en finir avec l’hiver

La Rectorie Côté Mer Rosé 2012Tandem Macula 2006Envie de célébrer l’arrivée (très tardive) du printemps ? Pour conjurer le mauvais sort et tromper Mère nature, le vin rosé n’a pas d’égal. Surtout s’il est façonné dans les règles de l’art, comme celui des frères Parcé au Domaine de la Rectorie, Côté Mer rosé 2012 (25,80 $). Sur leur domaine de Collioure, à une vingtaine de kilomètres de l’Espagne, les frères Parcé élaborent ce vin tout à fait singulier issu de grenache, de carignan et de syrah. Stylistiquement à mi-chemin entre un rosé et un vin rouge léger, leur Côté Mer fait preuve d’une complexité nettement supérieure à la moyenne. Vineux, généreusement fruité et ponctué de notes salines qui le rendent encore plus digeste et lui confèrent un charme fou!

Pour accompagner l’agneau pascal, on retiendra aussi ce bon vin de Navarre issu d’un assemblage bordelais : Tandem Macula 2006, Navarra (22,55 $). Produit dans le nord du pays, à l’est de la Rioja, cet assemblage de cabernet sauvignon et de merlot séduit par son nez de fruit noir et de paprika. La bouche est mûre et le temps a permis aux tanins de se fondre, mais le vin ne manque pas de tonus et laisse en finale une agréable sensation de fraîcheur malgré ses 15 % d’alcool. À boire au cours des deux prochaines années.

Vins italiens de renom

Castello Del Terriccio Tassinaia 2006Casanova Di Neri Tenuta Nuova Brunello Di Montalcino 2008Mis en marché dans l’arrivage du 3 avril dernier, les vins suivants étaient encore offerts en quantités significatives au moment d’écrire ces lignes.

Casanova di Neri Tenuta Nuova 2008, Brunello di Montalcino (70,50 $)

Même s’il n’a pas l’envergure du savoureux 2007 commenté l’an dernier, le Tenuta Nuova est à retenir parmi les références en matière de Brunello moderne. Rond, mûr et très suave, des odeurs de bitume et de fumée, sur un fond de fruits bien mûrs et d’épices. Sa trame tannique fondue le rend déjà agréable à boire; il le restera jusqu’en 2018.

Castello del Terriccio Tassinaia 2006, Toscana (29,95 $)

Replanté vers la fin des années 1980, le domaine de Gian Annibale Rossi di Medelana profite des conseils de l’œnologue Carlo Ferrini depuis ses débuts. Fidèle au style affectionné par Ferrini, ce vin composé de cabernet sauvignon, de merlot et de sangiovese est fondu par le temps, mais aussi étonnamment jeune. Savoureux, agrémenté d’un bon goût de fruits noirs, bien servi par l’élevage et d’une longueur appréciable.

Ornellaia 2011Bibi Graetz It's A Game 2011Ornellaia 2011, Bolgheri Superiore (189,25 $)

Propriété exclusive de la famille Frescobaldi depuis 2005, Ornellaia reste fidèle au style suave et plantureux qui a fait son succès. Le 2011 fait preuve de beaucoup d’étoffe et s’appuie sur un assemblage bordelais, dominé par le cabernet sauvignon (51 %). Sphérique, accessible et enrobé par un usage calculé du chêne français, qui arrondit ses angles et l’agrémente de notes de vanille, mais fort bien tourné dans un style moderne. À boire sans se presser entre 2015 et 2020.

Bibi Graetz It’s a game! 2011, Toscana (34,25 $)

Interprétation généreuse et sphérique du cépage sangiovese par l’œnologue Bibi Graetz. Peu ou pas d’aspérités tanniques, une profusion de saveurs d’eau-de-vie de fruits et de réglisse noire et une finale chaleureuse. Pas très toscan dans le style, mais résolument méditerranéen.

C’est tout pour cette semaine, mais nous nous reverrons très bientôt !

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 30 jours après leur parution pour les lire. L’adhésion a ses privilèges ; parmi ceux-ci, un accès direct à de grands vins!


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A WineAlign Event Report: J-T’s Marco Piccoli Shines at EPIC Dinner

An event recap by David Lawrason

A full house of fifty WineAlign guests gave a long ovation after a five-course dinner at EPIC Restaurant in the Fairmont Royal York Hotel in Toronto on Thursday night. They were treated to one of the best wine and food pairing evenings in my recent memory, and in the process got to know the affable Marco Piccoli, the winemaker for Jackson-Triggs Ontario VQA wines.

Co-hosted by WineAlign, the evening showcased five top-of-the-line Grand Reserve wines by Jackson-Triggs, each paired with a course by EPIC’s chef Joshua Dyer.

Marco Piccoli, Jackson-Triggs

Marco Piccoli, Jackson-Triggs

The Royal York’s EPIC was a fitting locale for the event as it was the first downtown, fine dining restaurant in the city to embrace Ontario VQA as its core wine list, back in 2001. That was the year, by the way, that the Canadian Wine Awards (now the WineAlign National Wine Awards) were launched, at The Royal York Hotel.

Marco Piccoli, who was raised and schooled in Italy, talked constantly about the quality, diversity and potential of Ontario’s best wines, and at the end of the dinner, he encouraged the guests to continue to bring VQA wine to their tables on all occasions. “It absolutely works with food as well as any wine in the world” he said.

At this point a guest asked if any of the wines contained off-shore fruit, a good question, I thought, from a consumer perhaps more familiar with Jackson-Triggs “International Canadian Blends”. Marco Piccoli replied simply that these were all VQA wines, and that means they are 100% Ontario grown.

Over a flute of Jackson Triggs 2010 Entourage Grand Reserve Sparkling Sauvignon Blanc Marco spoke of his childhood fascination with wine thanks to his father’s home winemaking efforts in his home in Udine in Friuli, an important white region in northeastern Italy. He also recalled reading about Canadian wine in school texts during his college program – which covered the subject in less than two pages. A chance meeting with Donald Ziraldo, then of Inniskillin who also was raised in Udine, encouraged him to come to Niagara for a season in 2005, and he has never left.

The first course of the evening carried on with the sauvignon blanc, as the Jackson Triggs Grand Reserve Sauvignon Blanc 2012 was niftily paired with a sweet pea and crab soup. Cool as a cucumber. Piccoli, who admitted being a fan of sauvignons in his native Friuli and makes a similarly restrained but fresh style in Ontario, considers it one of the best white varietals for Niagara.  Production at J-T has jumped to 40,000 cases a year.

Course number two matched an excellent truffle-scented mushroom and ricotta ravioli with Jackson Triggs Niagara Estate 2011 Grand Reserve Shiraz – an elegant, lighter weight shiraz with well tuned pepper, fruit and earthy notes. Piccoli recalled having no expectation for the syrah grape in Ontario when he arrived, but with subsequent experience since Jackson-Triggs first bottled syrah in 2004, he now thinks it is one of the best red grapes for Ontario.

The third course was the greatest surprise and perhaps best match of the evening: butter poached lobster claw in a chili spiked broth served with a brilliant, pure and exacting Jackson Triggs 2012 Grand Reserve Gewurztraminer. The lychee/mandarin fruit played beautifully against the chili broth, and rich texture of the wine was ideal with the lobster. Piccoli explained how the difficult gewurz grape is ideal in Niagara, but that it requires determination to grow and make it well.

The main course presented a tender cornish hen served à la coq au vin, matched with Jackson Triggs Niagara Estate Grand Reserve Merlot 2011. Again, a refined melding of flavours and textures as the wine presented classic Niagara lightness and freshness.  Piccoli explained how merlot – despite its sensitivity to winter cold – has become a mainstay in Niagara’s ‘Bordeaux’ reds, both solo and blended with cabernet varieties.

The dessert course showcased a lemon lime curd with the 2008 Jackson Triggs Proprietor’s Grand Reserve Riesling Icewine – again a brilliant pairing picking up on the maturing almost marmalade citrus notes in the wine. Here Piccoli’s passion for ice wine clearly showed through, calling it Ontario’s greatest wine and explaining that his original curiosity about Niagara was piqued by the fact that Ontario – which makes a drop of the world’s wine bucket – had become globally famous thanks to this one style.

It was a great finale to an evening that surpassed all expectations.

EPIC Restaurant - Fairmont Royal York

EPIC Restaurant – Fairmont Royal York

Note: Our winemaker events do tend to sell out quickly. If you are interested in attending a future event then we advise that you to purchase your tickets as soon as possible to avoid disappointment.


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Le monde du vin selon Nadia

Les cornichons

Nadia Fornier

Nadia Fornier

Comme nombre de jeunes Québécois une fois le cégep terminé, je suis partie avec mon sac à dos à la découverte de l’Europe. Je pensais y passer six mois, et de vignoble en vignoble, je me suis fait prendre au jeu. J’y suis restée près de deux ans.

À mon retour, j’avais 22 ans et je rêvais de la « grande Bourgogne ». Mais comme beaucoup de gens hélas, j’en parlais bien plus que j’avais l’occasion d’en boire.

Un jour, devinant mon intérêt pour le vin – j’en parlais sans cesse –, un collègue de la restauration m’a offert d’assister à une soirée de son club de dégustation. J’ai sauté sur l’occasion.

La thématique de la soirée portait sur la Bourgogne et le Jura. J’étais dans mon élément, tout allait bien, relativement bien. La gêne tombait peu à peu, mon syndrome de l’imposteur s’estompait. Puis, c’est arrivé…

L’un des derniers vins blancs de la soirée était un vin « naturel » du Jura issu de savagnin. Lorsque mon tour fut venu de prendre la parole, j’ai souligné la tenue en bouche et l’équilibre du vin, ajoutant que j’avais beaucoup aimé, même si a priori, j’avais été un peu déconcertée par son nez de cornichon à l’aneth.

Visiblement insulté, le propriétaire de ladite bouteille s’est lancé dans un discours aussi pompeux qu’interminable, au terme duquel j’avais perdu toute assurance. En résumé : j’aurais mieux fait de me taire. Peu lui importait que j’en aie vanté les nombreux mérites, que j’aie salué son équilibre et sa texture. En évoquant les cornichons à l’aneth, j’avais réduit son vin au statut de vinaigre…

À partir de cette soirée, j’ai commencé à me méfier de mes perceptions et cet épisode a continué de me hanter, même après plusieurs années à fréquenter le vin de façon professionnelle.

Puis, il y a deux ans, lors d’un séjour dans le Jura, j’ai eu la chance de rendre visite au vigneron-artiste qui était à l’origine de ce fameux vin. Incognito, jouant les touristes. Tout allait bien, merveilleusement bien, nous passions un agréable moment. Puis, c’est arrivé… Encore! Le nez dans le verre, j’ai redécouvert l’arôme du plus terrifiant des condiments.

J’étais encore à débattre en mon for intérieur quant à l’opportunité d’interroger ou non le vigneron à ce sujet, que je me suis entendu dire, du bout des lèvres, mais quand même.

–      Au risque de vous offusquer ou de paraître ridicule, est-il possible que je retrouve dans ce vin des parfums de cornichon à l’aneth?

J’ai fermé les yeux et serré les dents en attendant sa réponse.

–      C’est loin d’être ridicule, mademoiselle !

–      Ah bon ?

–      D’abord, les arômes d’aneth et de fenouil sont assez fréquents sur ce savagnin. Je ne sais pas pourquoi, mais c’est souvent comme ça. Et puis, le vin doit bien contenir près d’un gramme d’acide acétique, ce qui explique la notion de vinaigre…

–      Vous n’êtes pas fâché?

–      Pas du tout. Est-ce que le vin vous plaît ?

–      Absolument!

–      Alors, c’est tout ce qui compte !

Le savagnin, les cornichons et moiVoilà! Fin de la conversation. Neuf années d’incertitude balayées en deux minutes. Le savagnin, les cornichons et moi étions réconciliés. Enfin !

Si je vous raconte tout ça, c’est que je sais combien le monde du vin peut être intimidant. Surtout au début. Mais ce serait bien dommage de bouder son plaisir par peur du ridicule. Le vin ne devrait-il pas être une source de volupté et de découverte plutôt que d’angoisse ?

Certaines personnes de votre entourage donnent l’impression d’être plus calées que vous en matière de vin ? Et alors ?

Il y a une époque dans la vie de tout amateur de vin où l’on explore sans vraiment connaître. Et ce sont peut-être les moments les plus excitants. Ceux de l’éveil à des textures et à des saveurs nouvelles. Un plaisir purement sensoriel, zéro intellectuel.

Alors, allez-y, osez vous prononcer ! Votre appréciation d’un vin ne fera peut-être pas l’unanimité. Qu’importe. Nul ne détient le monopole du bon goût. C’est l’idée même de Chacun son vin : une pluralité d’opinions pour une pluralité de vins.

Car en plus de vous donner accès aux commentaires de chroniqueurs professionnels, Chacun son vin vous donne accès à un forum gratuit. Je me joins donc à Bill, Marc et Rémy, mes complices dans cette nouvelle aventure, pour vous convier à y participer, sans gêne et sans modération. Au plaisir de vous lire et d’échanger avec vous.

À propos des étoiles

Plutôt que d’adopter la notation sur cent points comme certains de mes collègues de Chacun son vin, j’ai préféré garder les mêmes barèmes que pour Le guide du vin, c’est-à-dire une séquence de zéro à cinq étoiles.

Chaque vin que je décris est donc noté dans sa catégorie et non pas dans l’absolu. Ainsi, un vin courant a autant de chances qu’un grand cru de se mériter une note de quatre étoiles, pour autant qu’il s’avère excellent dans sa catégorie.

Mais surtout, gardez en tête que ce sont les mots qui décrivent le vin, pas les étoiles ni les pourcentages…

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Vintages Preview April 12 Release (Part Two)

Wines on the Cusp of Spring, California and Boisset
by David Lawrason, with notes from Sara d’Amato and John Szabo

David Lawrason

David Lawrason

Easter is late this year, which is entirely fitting because spring has been late too. It is trying to break through, and yes we are in a rush, but there is still cool weather ahead, particularly in the evenings. Not much lolling about on the deck for dinner even though the sun is not setting until almost 8pm. This week’s VINTAGES release provides a fitting selection of wines for the cusp, from springy rieslings to mellow chardonnays and pinots, to a few warm and cuddly reds. Last week John Szabo and Sara d’Amato featured Veneto’s rich smooth ripassos and amarones, and I would add two thumbs up to Monte Del Fra 2010 Lena Di Mezzo Ripasso Valpolicella And Zenato 2009 Amarone Della Valpolicella Classico in particular. But there are many more good buys out there, and I had to do some serious editing of all the wines I wanted to mention. Thankfully John and Sara have included some of them.

Before launching in however, a word on the California Wine Fair in Toronto which saw yet another year of jam-packed trade and consumer portions. There is always such buzz at this event – but from all accounts the trade portion was uncomfortably crowded. But it does explain why California wine has become the leader at VINTAGES and is moving up in the ranks on the LCBO general list as well. There was lots of back slapping and congratulating going on as the Californians and the LCBO brass took turns at the podium at the annual Toast to California lunch – and indeed the sales numbers are something to celebrate. The only negative word was by the LCBO’s Nancy Cardinal who warned, gently, that California be cautious on pricing and value in the face of hot competition. To be more blunt, I think California owns the worst price quality ratio at the LCBO today. And I might have also added a warning to dial back on the creeping sweetness in their lower end red wines in particular. I love California as much as anybody else in that room, but what I was thinking, and what others were saying in the hallways, needs to be said aloud as well.

The dashing Jean Charles Boisset dashed through Toronto as part of the California Wine Fair – where he addressed the luncheon and explained why it is that a Frenchman is so infatuated with California, and how he is tuning California’s exuberant fruit to a more elegant French sensibility at the wineries he now owns – De Loach, Raymond and Buena Vista. Before the fair he gathered local scribes to taste through some of his California and Burgundy wines under the JCB label, and they were really very fine, polished and exacting. I particularly loved a new pinot noir called Maritus that is comprised of 47% Burgundy-grown pinot shipped to California where it was blended with 53% Sonoma pinot. Very, very fine indeed! About 20 cases will be offered in Ontario in the months ahead at $123.00.

The Stars Align
(Wines independently highlighted by two or more critics)

13th Street 2011 June’s Vineyard Riesling, Creek Shores, Niagara Peninsula ($19.95). John Szabo – 13th Street’s June Vineyard, planted in 1999 to the less common Riesling clone 49 from Alsace is particularly rich in decomposed yellow limestone, which one supposes contributes the wet rock/limestone minerality to complement a nice mix of citrus and orchard fruit. The overall impression is less of fruit and more of savoury-earthy flavours, while the off-dry palate lingers impressively. Fine concentration and depth overall – one of the finer June’s rieslings in recent memory. David Lawrason – Of a wide international selection of rieslings on this release, the “June” is the most intriguing. Sourced from a single, limestone strewn vineyard it offers lift, complexity and structure and a particular spice I am finding more often now as Niagara’s riesling sites mature.

Bachelder Oregon Chardonnay 2011 Rolf Binder Highness Riesling 2012 13th Street June's Vineyard Riesling 2012Rolf Binder 2012 Highness Riesling, Eden Valley, South Australia ($18.95). David Lawrason –This is a pretty, complete and bright wine. It was made by Christa Deans, daughter of founder Rolf Binder senior. She has worked in Champagne and is now focused solely on white wine making, bringing a soft touch (without resorting to exaggerated sweetness) to a genre more often displaying hard edged virility.  Sara d’Amato – The softer, more floral style of Australian riesling, in this case primarily sourced from the Eden Valley, is delightfully represented here. Certainly approachable but not a pushover, the wine delivers an abundance of nervy tension and excitement. Formerly known as “Veritus”, this well-respected house, steeped in history is now run by a dynamic duo of siblings and focuses on producing premium Barossa wines.

Bachelder 2011 Oregon Chardonnay, Willamette Valley, Oregon ($29.95). David Lawrason – As much as Oregonians like to see their wines as cooler and more Burgundian than California, many Oregon chards and pinots are still a bit blowsy in my books. It has taken a Canadian who has worked in Burgundy to create a wine that has some real leanness and tension. Nicely done Mr. Bachelder. Sara d’Amato – Bachelder’s Oregon chardonnay lacks immediate appeal – in fact, it is a bit of a head scratcher at first. It requires patience and an adventurous spirit to fully reap the rewards of this complex and slowly unveiling beauty. There is something quite reminiscent of Chablis in the wine’s verve and tautness along with its chalky and slightly lactic character. Be sure to sip this over the course of the evening as not to miss a moment of its quiet evolution.

Newton Johnson Pinot Noir 2012Domaine Drouhin Pinot Noir 2011Newton Johnson 2012 Pinot Noir, Upper Hemel en Aarde Valley, Walker Bay, South Africa ($26.95). David Lawrason – Excellent value here in an authentic cool climate, pale and almost lean pinot that will intrigue Burgundy fans. In March I spent two days in this serene “Heaven and Earth” Valley near Hermanus; a breeding ground for terrific, cool climate pinots and chardonnays, and I too am now convinced that the area down the coast southeast from Cape Town – and I include Elgin and Elim – is a bona fide pinot region. John Szabo – Newton Johnson crafts elegant and refined pinot noir from the light granitic-sandy soils of the upper Hemel-en-Aarde Valley, and this is a fine example of the house style. Don’t be deceived by the pale colour, however, as this packs in great length and depth for the price. The region clearly has another serious player to join the ranks of pioneers like Hamilton-Russell. Best now-2018.

Domaine Drouhin 2011 Pinot Noir, Dundee Hills, Willamette Valley, Oregon ($39.95). Sara D’Amato – Everything about this bottle looks French and one could easily both purchase and consume this wine without being the wiser. Inside and out it is elegant and refined and offers a highly complex palate. Long established for over a century in Burgundy, the house of Joseph Drouhin has become a critics’ darling. Its roots in Oregon go back to the mid-80s when current winemaker Veronique Drouhin (daughter of Robert Drouhin) touched down in the state after receiving her Masters in enology. Feeling a real sense of connectedness and appreciation of place, she and her brother Philippe (viticulturalist) manage this impressive US property. John Szabo – Drouhin’s 2011 Dundee Hills pinot is a pleasantly earthy, rustic, savoury and spicy wine in the classic old world style, complete with grippy, dusty tannins and saliva-inducing acidity and minerality. Length and depth are superior. In the end, this comes off as a very well made, woodsy, old world-inflected pinot, and should appeal to pinot noir lovers from both sides of the pond. Best after 2016.

Lawrason’s Take

JCB N° 21 Brut Crémant De Bourgogne ($27.95). The JCB brand involves both California and Burgundy wines. This excellent cremant could pass for Champagne, such is its tight core and generous, complex flavours. Jean Charles Boisset said they worked on finding the right balance for eight years before finally putting this wine on the market last year.

Aquinas Philospher's Blend 2009Perrin & Fils Réserve Côtes Du Rhône Blanc 2012J C B N° 21 Brut Crémant De BourgognePerrin & Fils Réserve 2012 Côtes Du Rhône Blanc ($14.95). Since tasting Perrin’s stunning white Châteauneuf-du-Pape a couple of years ago, then subsequently the white Coudelet and even the diminutive La Vieille Ferme blanc, it has become obvious this family is turning out some of the best whites of the Rhône. No exception here – great polish, fruit and balance. At a super price!

Aquinas 2009 Philospher’s Blend, Napa Valley, California ($32.95). I approach moderately priced Napa wines with skepticism. Often they are inferior wines trading up on the Napa name. This is an example of one that delivers quality on target – very much the philosophy of this winery. Winemaker Greg Kitchens has compiled a quite elegant, complex red based 79% on cabernet with merlot and 6% petit sirah that fills in the corners.

Dominio Del Plata 2012 Crios Malbec, Mendoza, Argentina ($13.95). It’s not hard to find inexpensive fruit-packed malbec nowadays but it is hard to find examples with some elegance, flair and fun drinkability. Susanna Balboa has found the secret in this straightforward, well priced “Crios” brand.

Crios De Susana Balbo Malbec 2012Concha Y Toro Marques De Casa Concha Carmenère 2008Jim Barry The Cover Drive Cabernet Sauvignon 2010Concha Y Toro 2008 Marques De Casa Concha Carmenère Peumo, Rapel Valley, Chile ($19.95). Carmenère, the late ripening cabernet-like grape that Chile has adopted as a speciality, is undervalued up and down the price spectrum. It is capable of wines of great structure, complexity and depth when it ripens well. And Peumo has turned out to be prime terroir. This wine borders on the majestic – very impressive indeed and almost sinfully cheap for the quality it delivers.

Jim Barry 2010 The Cover Drive Cabernet Sauvignon, Coonawarra, South Australia ($26.95). Jim Barry is based in the Clare Valley but the family purchased 14 acres of old cricket pitch within the Coonawarra appellation and planted it to cabernet. Under third generation winemaker Tom Barry the wines are showing great lustre and depth and this cabernet sourced both from Coonawarra and Clare is fine example at a very fair price.

Sara’s Sommelier Picks

Fielding Estate 2013 Sauvignon Blanc, Beamsville Bench, Ontario, ($18.95). An even-keeled sauvignon blanc that is just perfectly ripe without the green, overtly grassy character often associated with the varietal yet it still boasts a juicy, vibrant palate. Fielding has really struck a wonderful balance with this sauvignon blanc making it one of the best I have tasted from Niagara in recent memory (and at a price almost anyone can swallow).

Ulisse Unico 2012 Pecorino, Terre Di Chieti, Abruzzo, Italy ($19.95). Here is a wine that scores highly on everything from complexity to approachability and exhibits terrific energy and purity of fruit. Open, expressive and easy on the wallet. A romantic detail: “pecora” in Italian means “sheep” and the name of this varietal is attributed to the contribution of the sheep grazing the mountainsides where this varietal produces its most enticing berries.

Tawse 2011 Sketches Of Niagara Cabernet/Merlot, VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada ($20.95). Classically styled but undeniably approachable, this Bordeaux blend from the careful hands of Tawse winery is a terrific value. The 2011 growing season in Niagara was a bit of a mixed bag with cool, rainy months followed by a hot and dry period and then a rainy harvest, which produced an unpredictable vintage of sorts. Tawse certainly seems to have managed well with this charming, harmonious and polished blend.

Fielding Estate Sauvignon Blanc 2013  Ulisse Unico Pecorino 2012  Tawse Sketches Of Niagara Cabernet Merlot 2011  Trivento Amado Sur Malbec Bonarda Syrah 2012  Château La Croix De Gay 2010

Trivento 2012 Amado Sur Malbec/Bonarda/Syrah, Mendoza, Argentina ($16.95). A fresh, modern wine that blends three red varieties that have found solid roots in Argentina. A memorable wine with wide appeal and plenty of grip and spunk – one of the top red values in this release.

Château La Croix De Gay 2010, Pomerol, Bordeaux, France ($47.00). Not to be missed – a stunner of a Pomerol that features impressive depth and complexity, even for the price. The wine is gracefully ageing and really beginning to reveal itself at this stage so can be consumed now or, happily, over the next 5 years. As is the right bank tradition, this is primarily a merlot based red with a relatively small dose of cabernet franc. Surprisingly, this is one of only two French reds in this release.

Szabo’s Smart Buys

L'Ecole No. 41 Red Wine 2011Godelia 2009 Red BierzoGodelia Red 2009, Spain ($20.95). In the last half decade, Bierzo has emerged as one of my favorite red wine appellations in Spain. Old vines, reasonable prices and a singular freshness rarely found in other parts of Spain contribute to the appeal. This is another fine, fragrant example of mencía, replete with dark berry fruit and violets, succulent and mouth filling palate with undeniable density and genuine old vine concentration (40-80 years old). It’s the sort of wine that makes you wonder why you would ever spend $20 for a basic commercial wine with barely half as much character. Best now-2021.

L’Ecole N° 41 2011 Red Wine, Columbia Valley ($29.95). This “Red Wine” (blend), sourced from several Columbia Valley vineyards as well as the press fractions of the L’Ecole Nº41’s estate fruit, is a maturing, evidently very rich and ripe red from this Washington State pioneer. The palate is dense and compact, firmly structured, and certainly as concentrated and deep as many Californian wines at twice the price. It will definitely appeal to fans of full bodied and powerful red wines. Best now-2023.

Julicher 99 Rows Pinot Noir 2010Cuvée Benkovac 2010Julicher 99 Rows 2010 Pinot Noir Te Muna Road, Martinborough, North Island ($24.95). This is a savoury, concentrated, generously extracted but balanced Martinborough pinot noir from a vineyard on the celebrated Te Muna Road Terrace and its alluvial gravel soils, purchased by Wim Julicher in 1996. I find this captures the savoury essence and wild fruit nature of the region accurately; this won’t be mistaken for Burgundy, but so much the better for its authentic regional character. Depth and concentration are well above the mean, and this should be taken seriously by pinot noir fans of all stripes. Best now-2020.

Cuvée Benkovac 2010 Croatia ($15.95). What an intriguing value this blend of cabernet sauvignon, merlot and syrah, grown in the coastal Dalmatian vineyards of northern Croatia is: savoury, spicy, resinous and potpourri scented, with a touch of leathery brettanomyces and volatile acidity to be sure, yet it seems to works well in the ensemble. Tannins are light and dusty, by now more or less fully integrated, while savoury dried fruit lingers. Well worth a look for fans of savoury, traditional old world wines done well.  Best now-2019.

That’s all for this week. See you over the next bottle.

David Lawrason
VP of Wine

From the April 12, 2014 VINTAGES release:

Lawrason’s Take
Szabo’s Smart Buys
Sara’s Sommelier Picks
All Reviews

Editors Note: You can find our Critic’s complete 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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