WineAlign

Find the right wine at the right price, right now.

British Columbia Critics’ Picks November 2014

Our critics have been on the move this month – crossing paths, and crisscrossing seasons between Vancouver, Similkameen, Okanagan, Whistler, Argentina and Australia. Whether we’ve just been in spring (flowering and bud break in the southern hemisphere) or dreaming of spring (the earliest icewine harvest ever for many in BC), the wines we’ve individually selected will warm you. Naturally, since we’re all crazy for food, our finds specifically pair with meals that will comfort.

Cheers ~ TR

BC Team Version 3

Anthony Gismondi

Wind, rain, snow and cold is all on its way and that makes it easier to slide into some richer wines from warmer climates to help warm up your disposition.

Zuccardi Q Tempranillo 2010 Beringer Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2011 Chateau de Caraguilhes Classique 2012From southern France my pick is a delicious organic Corbières: Chateau de Caraguilhes 2012. Believe me it is far easier to drink than to pronounce.

This syrah/grenache/mourvèdre/carignan blend is textured with savoury licorice undercurrent and makes a great match for fall’s cassoulets.

A tough year in Napa was no problem at Beringer where several vineyards from the valley floor to the mountain top contributed to a fresh and aromatic Beringer Cabernet Sauvignon 2011, ready to drink now with your steak.

If lamb is on your fall menu the Zuccardi Q Tempranillo 2010 will stand up to its wild flavours and impress with its richness, power. A bargain red for all you year-round barbecue fanatics this juicy and round high altitude (620m) is the best yet from Zuccardi. Impressive now but will age easily for five years.

DJ Kearney

Drinking whites in the winter is something I anticipate each year with the kind of deep-seated pleasure that stirs my soul and tastebuds. Earthy, savoury, botanical, spicy, broad wines embrace flavours in a bearhug of body and warming alcohol. Wines like creamy oaked chardonnay, ripe white Rhones, mineral-drenched Wachau gruners, honeyed Alsatians, Italians like arneis, top soave and vermentino, and even the right kind of rich, leesy, toasty champagne are perfect. The dishes that I crave and cook for these cool-weather whites are leek risotto, cream-braised endive, veal and mushrooms, roast pork with onion soubise, cauliflower and cheese, roast chicken with truffle oil…  you get the picture? Here are three whites that I am drinking now to warm palate and spirit.

Wolf Blass Gold Label Chardonnay 2013

La Spinetta Vermentino 2012

Verus Vineyards Pinot Gris 2012Wolf Blass Gold Label Adelaide Hills Chardonnay 2013 is broad and surging, with lemon curd, crème brulée and gingerbread flavours kept fresh and crisp with succulent acidity. Worth keeping for a few years for the oak to snuggle into the exotic fruit density, but will be delicious now with lemongrass risotto or winter baked fish with rich Mornay sauce.

La Spinetta Vermentino 2012 is a remarkable wine with savory flavours and emollient texture, held together with just enough acidity to coat the wine sleekly. Completely fascinating and serious vermentino for winter dinners or savouring by the fire.

An attention-getting smoky nose opens Verus Vineyards Pinot Gris 2012 from Slovenia before impressive mineral heft and complexity, reminding me of both Alsace and Soave. It’s a sign of the high calibre wines that Slovenia is capable of, and we want more sent our way, please.

Rhys Pender MW

With the holidays rapidly approaching, it is time to think about starting to loosen the purse strings a little bit and treating yourself.  You want to avoid the wines that are expensive on reputation ahead of quality, and hopefully we steer you on the right track with our winealign.com notes. Of course, there are many great wines that are worth the occasional splurge. There are also some great value alternatives if you look to some lesser-known regions.

Boutari Grande Reserve 2007 Poderi Di Luigi Einaudi Barolo Terlo 2009 Hamilton Russell Chardonnay 2013Chardonnay is still the greatest white wine and it turns up top quality wines in surprising places. Take the Hamilton Russell 2013 Chardonnay from the cool, coastal part of South Africa where it achieves wonderful elegance but still with some new world gumption.

One wine that is nearly always worth a splurge is Barolo. And not to just have a few sips, you need to sit with a big glass full and let it open up over time to enjoy all the nuances and complexities that lie hidden in its slowly evolving self. The Luigi Einaudi 2009 Barolo Terlo does just that.

Okay, we can’t all afford Barolo and there are some wines that offer a pretty good facsimile at much more approachable prices. The best bet for me is Xinomavro from Naoussa in northern Greece. While we don’t get a lot of good Greek wine options in BC, one stalwart on many BC Liquor Stores shelves is the Boutari Grande Reserve 2007 Naoussa. Great complexity for $23.

Treve Ring

When I approach pairing wines with food (or with seasons), it’s not so much about the flavours or the hue; it’s all about texture. My November wines are much like my November wardrobe – thick and layered, cozy and familiar, with grippy fabric, warming thread throughout and a comforting, lingering memory. Pass the wool scarf – I mean semillon!

Ferrari Carano Chardonnay 2012

Bartier Bros. Semillon Cerqueira Vineyard 2012

Alvear Pedro XimenezFerrari-Carano Chardonnay 2012 from Sonoma’s Alexander Valley is one such wine, full bodied and weighted on the palate, built with creamy pear and hazelnut paste, and primed to partner with your white sauced pastas or fish.

Bartier Bros. Semillon is another such wine that has palatable texture and depth that seems to grow each time I taste it. Though the 2013 is on the shelves now, I recently opened a 2012 (these wines age beautifully) and was impressed by its thorny, herbal wildflower spice and chalky, tactile acidity. Pair with pork belly, savoury risotto or scallops with herbed leeks.

And it’s hard to think of a more textured wine than pedro ximenez, some rumoured to be so thick and unctuous you can take with a spoon. Alvear Solera 1927 Pedro Ximenez is unapologetically and confidently a bit of a conundrum; exceptionally sweet, and overtly salty with baked figs, coffee and cloves that linger far past a single sip. Try this memorable PX with (or over) vanilla bean ice cream and cracked black pepper for a dessert you won’t forget.

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!


Advertisements

Beringer - Holiday the California Way

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

Sortir du placard

Hors des sentiers battus
par Marc Chapleau

Marc Chapleau sm

Marc Chapleau

La semaine dernière, mon collègue Bill faisait son coming out, confessant son amour pour les vins blancs du Rhône. Il ne dénigrait pas les rouges rhodaniens pour autant, cela dit. Heureusement, du reste, car sans lui réserver un chien de ma chienne, je l’aurais alors remis à sa place, notre anglophone préféré !

C’est que dans mon placard à moi, il y a justement ces grands rouges provenant tant du sud de la région, royaume du grenache, que du nord, où la syrah brille de tous ses feux – même si elle s’acoquine, ici et là, avec un peu de viognier.

Et si je suis entiché des côte-rôtie, des hermitages et des châteauneufs, c’est que mon baptême dans le monde du vin s’est en grande partie passé là-bas…

J’étais à l’époque, en 1986, rédacteur en chef du défunt magazine québécois Vins & Vignes, fondé par Pierre Séguin, devenu depuis un des grands experts de la Bourgogne. Comme premier reportage effectué sur le terrain, je me suis retrouvé dans le Rhône pour deux semaines.

Des diverses rencontres alors faites, celle chez Guigal s’avéra mémorable.

Pour commencer, comme Marcel avait à travailler dans son chai cet après-midi-là, c’est son père Étienne – le « E » de la raison sociale « E. Guigal » — qui nous a emmenés, ma blonde et moi, dans les vignes.

Le Château d'Ampuis, propriété de la famille Guigal, en plein coeur de la Côte-Rôtie.

Le Château d’Ampuis, propriété de la famille Guigal, en plein coeur de la Côte-Rôtie.

La maison Guigal venait de racheter sa voisine du bout de la rue, Vidal-Fleury, où le patriarche Étienne avait longtemps travaillé. Celui-ci, homme de peu de mots, sa casquette sur le crâne et son écharpe nouée autour du cou, nous a montré le vignoble, sans l’expliquer en long et en large. Pas disert, il était. Sauf que nous l’avons marché, ce vignoble, nous avons escaladé (c’est le mot) les coteaux pentus de la Côte-Rôtie avec lui, malgré ses 70 ans et quelques, qui emboîtait le pas.

Une petite dernière du tonnerre

De retour à la cuverie, Marcel Guigal, maintenant libre, nous fait visiter les lieux. Il s’arrête bientôt à une barrique pour nous faire goûter, prélevant à la pipette « une nouvelle cuvée dans laquelle nous plaçons beaucoup d’espoir et qui s’appellera “La Turque” ».

On venait de l’arpenter, cette parcelle. Une vigne de cinq ans, qui produisait depuis un an seulement. In petto, du haut de mes 28 ans, je me dis quelque chose comme « Cause toujours, monsieur Guigal, seules les vieilles vignes autorisent ainsi les plus fous espoirs, vous devrez attendre encore quelques années avant de tirer la substantifique moelle de la Turque… »

Jeune présomptueux !

Aussitôt humée et dégustée, le côte-rôtie La Turque 1985 nous jette par terre. Quelle profondeur, quelle race. Un bagout d’enfer. Comment est-ce possible, demandai-je à notre interlocuteur, les vignes sont si jeunes ? « Le secret est dans la taille », de répondre doucement son père Étienne, précisant un rendement très minime dont je ne me rappelle plus, désolé.

Quand on aime, on ne compte pas…

The rest is history. C’est peu après l’avoir goûtée lui aussi que Robert Parker, déjà bien installé au sommet de la critique mondiale, lui a décerné le score parfait de 100.

Je n’ai évidemment pu rapporter de La Turque pour la faire goûter à mes collègues du magazine, vu qu’elle allait passer au bout du compte l’incroyable durée de 40 mois en barrique de chêne, et donc qu’elle ne se serait commercialisée qu’en 1989.

Par contre, on a fait main basse sur une caisse de six bouteilles de ses autres côtes-rôties, trois La Landonne et trois La Mouline, toutes deux du millésime 1981. Au prix affiché sur le tarif de 23 $ pièce… alors qu’elles en valent plus de 300 $ aujourd’hui.

Le bouquet, c’est qu’au final, après être descendus au sud et avoir passé entre autres par les châteaux de Beaucastel et la Nerthe (je vous raconterai un jour), on s’est retrouvés à Charles-de-Gaulle avec 46 bouteilles à enregistrer – avant qu’on ne nous serre exagérément la vis à la frontière, comme aujourd’hui, cela revenait à seulement trois ou quatre dollars en droits et taxes par bouteille, sans égard à la valeur de celle-ci.

Il a fallu conscrire d’autres passagers, car on dépassait allègrement la limite de 12 bouteilles par personne prévue par les douanes. Pas mal de trouble, c’est vrai, et beaucoup d’encombrement.

Mais quel butin !

À boire, aubergiste !

J. L. Chave Selection Offerus St Joseph 2011 Yann Chave Le Rouvre 2011 Paul Jaboulet Aîné Domaine De Thalabert Crozes Hermitage 2010Évidemment, tout a été bu, depuis belle lurette. (D’autant je les aime jeunes, c’est bien connu, et cela m’a d’ailleurs causé quelques ennuis par le passé, j’y reviendrai aussi). Je n’en ai pas moins toujours gardé une affection particulière pour le Rhône — et y compris pour ses grands blancs, je rejoins l’ami Bill là-dessus.

Or à défaut de m’offrir ces grands crus pour la plupart devenus hors de prix, je me rabats, un peu comme on le fait avec les bordeaux, sur les seconds vins, ou du moins les noms moins prestigieux, mais qui produisent de très belles bouteilles, néanmoins.

Parmi les bons rouges du Rhône, tant du nord que du sud, bus récemment, je retiens le Crozes-Hermitage Domaine de Thalabert 2010, qui se révèle surtout en bouche et au potentiel évident. De la même appellation, j’ai bien aimé également le Yann Chave Le Rouvre 2011, à l’odeur qui surprend (le pet, un peu) mais néanmoins souple et élégant. Toujours en provenance du Rhône septentrional, le Saint-Joseph Offerus Jean-Louis Chave Sélection 2011 constitue à nouveau une valeur sûre, bien typée syrah.

La récolte est très bonne dans le Sud. À preuve, et à commencer par la fameuse famille dont j’ai parlé tout à l’heure, le Côtes-du-Rhône Guigal rouge qui n’en finit plus d’étonner : étant donné qu’il est produit à très grande échelle, sa qualité, à nouveau avec le millésime 2011, est franchement remarquable.

Autre valeur sûre de l’appellation, le Coudoulet de Beaucastel 2011 ne démérite pas lui non plus, même qu’il est plus charmeur que jamais, avec cependant toujours la même solide structure. Classé pour sa part dans les « Villages », le Domaine La Montagnette 2013, élaboré par l’une des meilleures – et plus petites – caves coopératives de France, est à la fois épicé et rafraîchissant.

E. Guigal Côtes Du Rhône 2011 Coudoulet de Beaucastel Côtes Du Rhône 2011 Domaine La Montagnette 2013 La Vieille Ferme Red 2013 M. Chapoutier La Bernardine Châteauneuf Du Pape 2010

En appellation côtes-du-ventoux cette fois, le La Vieille Ferme rouge 2013 est corsé et impeccable, comme à l’accoutumée.

Enfin, à Châteauneuf-du-Pape, appellation phare du Rhône Sud, le La Bernardine 2010 Chapoutier est très beau, serré et concentré, fin également.

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


Publicité

HR_WolfBlass_WebBanner_525px x 225px_FR

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

Buyers’ Guide to VINTAGES Nov 22nd – Part Two

Holiday Gift Bottles
By John Szabo MS with notes from David Lawrason and Sara d’Amato

John Szabo, MS

John Szabo, MS

This week the WineAlign crü has come together to offer some gift suggestions for the wine lovers on your holiday shopping list. And since all love is not equal, we’ve split the recommendations into three price categories: under $30, under $60 and “money is no object”. Instructions: select the recipient, select the price category, then cut and paste in the suggestion of your favorite WineAlign critic, and send. Don’t forget to include the write-up in the gift card; that way, if your recipient is disappointed, you can blame us.

Under $30

Vallado 2011, Douro, Portugal ($22.95)
John Szabo - The perfect wine for anyone looking for a horizon expansion. A dense and ripe red blend, thanks to the soon-to-be-legendary 2011 vintage (what a port year!). This will satisfy high-impact new world style wine lovers as well as those after a little more earth, minerality, genuine tension and structure. Enclose this photo of the magnificent Douro Valley for added vicarious value, and mention that Vallado has a beautiful boutique hotel, just in case.

View over the Douro River

Lungarotti 2010 Rubesco, Rosso di Torgiano, Umbria, Italy ($19.95)
John Szabo - A fine discovery for the Italian wine lover on your list who’s stuck in the more popular tourist destinations. Lungarotti single-handedly established this appellation surrounding the beautiful hilltop town of Torgiano in the “green heart” of Italy, as Umbria is known, and has been producing classic dusty, red-fruited sangiovese for decades. As fine as any Chianti at the price, and something a little different.

Finca Constancia 2011 Altos De La Finca, Vino de la Tierra de Castilla, Spain ($21.95)
David Lawrason - This is for the explorer on your list who relishes rich reds. Finca Constantia is a very modern new winery by Gonzales Byass – a large Spanish wine company based in Jerez. This creative multi-grape blend includes tempranillo, petit verdot and syrah. At this price you might want to buy several and spread them around – as a curio host/hostess gift, or for mates at the office Christmas party.

Quinta Do Vallado Vinho Tinto 2011 Lungarotti Rubesco 2010 Finca Constancia Altos De La Finca 2011 Paolo Conterno Bricco Barbera d'Alba 2013Humberto Canale Estate Sauvignon Blanc 2013

Paolo Conterno 2013 Bricco Barbera d’Alba, Piedmont, Italy ($19.95)
David Lawrason - For the lover of all things Italian (who may be also happen to be Italian) here is a wonderfully exuberant, approachable young barbera from one of my favourite Piemontese producers. The wines are always meticulous and exact for their variety. This would be ideal around a holiday charcuterie and cheese board. Better buy two or three.

Mcwilliam's Mount Pleasant Elizabeth Semillon 2007

Salomon Undhof Alte Reben Grüner Veltliner 2012Humberto Canale 2013 Estate Sauvignon Blanc, Alto Valle Del Río Negro, Patagonia, Argentina, ($14.95)
Sara d’Amato - Cool climate growing areas are all the rage and if you’ve wondered why, check out this exceptional value sauvignon blanc from the cool and arid reaches of Patagonia – one of the world’s most southerly wine regions. Humberto Canale is a pioneer of this sunny and windswept part of the world, having established the winery in the early 1900s.

Salomon Undhof 2012 Alte Reben Grüner Veltliner, Kremstal, Austria ($21.95)
Sara d’Amato - Flavour-wise, this is a textbook grüner veltliner but with more oomph and power than the norm. It is immediately impressive and is an excellent introduction to this exotic and compelling varietal.

McWilliams’s 2007 Mount Pleasant Elizabeth Semillon, Hunter Valley, Australia ($19.95)
Sara d’Amato - For those who love aged semillon, you will find this 2007 Hunter Valley an absolute treat. I couldn’t get enough of its lovely nuttiness, its youthful vibrancy and its long, creamy finish.

$30 to $60

Cune 2008 Gran Reserva, Rioja, Spain ($39.95)
John Szabo - As all great Rioja, this wine should be on the list for all old world pinot noir fans (including Burgundy) considering the parallels in elegance, finesse and minerality. They also age magnificently; mention to the recipient that he/she can drink it now or hold twenty years or more sin problema.

Confidences De Prieuré-Lichine 2010, Margaux, Bordeaux ($48.95)
David Lawrason - In great vintages like 2010 the “second” labels of famous chateau like Prieure-Lichine offer great value. I would give this to the budding, young wine enthusiast who would normally not fork out $50, but needs to experience the seamless finesse that Bordeaux, and indeed Margaux, does better than most. A very similar Margaux was my first true fine wine experience and I have never looked back.
John Szabo - I couldn’t agree more with David. This is very classy, elegant, highly pleasurable Bordeaux, and a great reference for Margaux. The budding sommelier/wine enthusiast will thank you for this experience.

Cune Gran Reserva 2008 Confidences De Prieuré Lichine 2010 Cuvelier Los Andes Grand Malbec 2009 Daniel Rion & Fils Les Grandes Vignes Nuits Saint Georges 2011 Henry Of Pelham Cuvée Catharine Carte Blanche Estate Blanc De Blanc 2008

Cuvelier Los Andes 2009 Grand Malbec, Uco Valley, Mendoza, Argentina ($61.95)
David Lawrason – An ideal gift for the wine drinker on your list who loves inexpensive Argentine malbec but might never spring for an expensive example. This is from one the great new properties of Mendoza, owned by the Cuvelier family that has made wine in France since the early 19th Century. They bring the Bordeaux vision of a structured, layered wine for cellaring, and it’s a dandy!

Daniel Rion & Fils 2011 Les Grandes Vignes, Nuits Saint Georges, Burgundy, France, ($59.95)
Sara d’Amato - This Nuits Saints Georges is impressive across the board from complexity to length and finesse. If pinot noir is the heartbreak grape, then prepare for a tear-jerking episode. But truly, pinot noir can provoke knee-quaking sensations when exceptional and this is an experience you won’t want to miss.

Henry Of Pelham 2008 Cuvée Catharine Carte Blanche Estate Blanc De Blanc, VQA Short Hills Bench, Ontario, Canada ($44.95)
Sara d’Amato - Whether to ring in the New Year or to crack open and enhance the mood, the Carte Blanche Estate Blanc de Blanc over-delivers and is a great way to get the experience of a vintage Champagne for a fraction of the price.

Masi Campolongo di Torbe Amarone della Valpolicella Classico 2007

Masi Mazzano Amarone della Valpolicella Classico 2007Money No Object

2007 Masi Mazzano Amarone della Valpolicella Classico, Veneto, Italy ($101.95) and
2007 Masi Campolongo di Torbe Amarone Della Valpolicella Classico, Veneto, Italy ($101.95)
John Szabo - So, if money really is no object, buy a bottle of each of these extraordinary amarones for someone special – preferably a friend you still intend to have in twenty years. Then, hopefully, you’ll also be invited to compare these two side by side, for a truly memorable experience. I’ve done it with the last handful of vintages of Masi’s two great crus (alas when far too young), and I love the consistently muscular, herculean strength of the Mazzano, accurately described by Masi as “austere and majestic”, as much as I love the ethereal finesse and opulence (relatively speaking) of the Campolongo di Torbe, “Masi’s elegant cru version of Amarone”. Both of these 2007s will surely be counted among the great Amarones of the modern age.

Stags’ Leap 2010 The Leap Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, USA ($89.95).
John Szabo – For the Napa collector, invite him to compare this wine, preferably blind, with more expensive versions. In the perilously over-valued world of Napa cabernet, this is an example with true depth, complexity and concentration that’s worth the money. There won’t be any disappointment.

Spottswoode Estate 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, California ($167.95)
David Lawrason - Regular readers know I struggle with the lack of value in California – not so much due to lack of quality but exaggerated pricing. Well if I were to buy one $100+ Napa cab as a gift for a California wine collector this would be it. Spottswoode is spot-on in terms of finding nuance and complexity. The cool 2011 vintage is panned by some, but I think it is providing added vitality and nuance.

Stags' Leap The Leap Cabernet Sauvignon 2011 Spottswoode Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2011 Barossa Valley Estate E & E Black Pepper Shiraz 2008 Château Pontet Canet 2010

Barossa Valley Estate 2008 E&E Black Pepper Shiraz, Barossa Valley, South Australia ($89.95)
David Lawrason - I suggest you don’t dither over this – it will be gone in a flash. It’s an iconic Barossa shiraz from a great vintage, and it’s packing incredible intensity, layering and depth. It’s actually decent value at $90, so if you were thinking in this generous but non-ostentatious price range for a business associate who loves wine, this is the ticket. And it doesn’t need to be cellared further, though it will certainly live another decade with ease.

Château Pontet Canet 2010, Pauillac, Bordeaux, France, ($249.85)
Sara d’Amato - Thrilling, riveting, downright sensational and perhaps the finest example from this Chateau I have ever tasted. Quite impressive already, this is also a gift with a great deal of staying power.

Volcanic Wine Tour

Still wondering what to do Friday night (November 21st)? Join me at the Gourmet Food and Wine Expo at 6:30pm, Metro Toronto Convention Centre, for an exotic tour of the world’s best volcanoes. And, of course, the exceptional wines that grow on them. Find out why I spent the last 4 months touring volcanoes from Hungary to the Canary Islands to Chile. To buy tickets, go to foodandwineexpo.ca. Guaranteed explosive fun.

That’s all for this week. Happy shopping and see you over the next bottle.

John Szabo, MS

John Szabo MS

From VINTAGES Nov 22nd:

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


Advertisement

Wynns Coonawarra Shiraz 2012

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

The Successful Collector – Sud-Ouest France and Duck

Julian Hitner reports on his latest trip to the assorted appellations of Sud-Ouest (Southwest) France, shedding some much-needed light on one of France’s most sundry winegrowing regions and its inhabitants’ enthusiasm for duck. His visit to the Southwest (courtesy of Sopexa) includes Cahors, Gaillac and Fronton, tossing in Madiran and Jurançon (both not visited) for their jigsaw-like significance. Readers may also wish to take note that the wines of the Dordogne (ex. Bergerac) have been omitted on account of the similarities to their counterparts in Bordeaux.

The most diverse region in France?
by Julian Hitner

Julian Hitner

Julian Hitner

In terms of sheer diversity, few regions are as varied as that of Sud-Ouest France. From titanically tannic reds and alternate renderings to whites of inordinate obscurity and rare dessert versions, the Sud-Ouest (Southwest) continues to writhe as one of France’s most enigmatic winegrowing sectors. Fortunately, many producers seem undeterred, crafting increasingly better wines in the hopes of attracting new followers. The odds seem in their favour, particularly as quality improves and prices even for premium versions remain relatively low.

Of reds, two appellations have traditionally enjoyed the strongest reputations: Cahors and Madiran. These days, the former, arguably the stronger of the two, owes much of its current revival to Malbec, the most important grape in Cahors (from which it originates) though made popular in Argentina. Most Cahors is a blend of two or three grapes, containing at least 70 per cent Malbec and up to 30 per cent Merlot and/or Tannat. But even this is changing, with increasing numbers of producers crafting wines containing 100 per cent Malbec in their top offerings. Over the past several years, VINTAGES has been diligent in its selections, with prices ranging from $15-60.

The history of Cahors is a fascinating one, worthy of a brief digression. As early as the Middle Ages, it was known as ‘The Black Wine’ because of its dark appearance and weighty structure, a choice drink for connoisseurs. Then in the late-nineteenth century phylloxera struck, annihilating most of the vineyards. At the time, shortsighted growers replanted with inferior, high-yielding hybrids, leaving Cahors all but a distant memory. This began to change in the years following the Second World War, when some producers banded together in faint hopes of reviving their beloved Black Wine. Though it has taken decades, these growers’ descendants have largely succeeded in replanting their vineyards, and are again crafting wine of outstanding dimension, elegance and quality.

Though back on form, the modern-day reds of Cahors (there are no whites) taste nothing like their Argentinean counterparts, the latter oftentimes much more concentrated and excessively oak-reliant. In Cahors, the most balanced examples, sourced from a wide range of terroirs (the higher terraces and plateau are considered top locations), often possess wonderful quantities of blackberries, purple fruits and menthol in youth, taking on more claret-like characteristics as they age, yet always retaining a unique sense of balance, crystalline texture and breed. What’s more, such wines are often resoundingly tannic, requiring several years (sometimes decades) of aging to open up. Vigorous decanting can do much to alleviate the mouth-puckering effects of a young bottle of Cahors.

Tannat Grapes (Courtesy Official Website for Madiran Wines)

Tannat Grapes (Courtesy Official Website for Madiran Wines)

This said, no wine of France is better known for its tannins than Madiran. The name of its principle grape says it all: Tannat. According to current regulations, this most tightly structured of French grapes most comprise at least 50 per cent of the blend. Other permitted grapes are Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Fer Servadou. As in Cahors, many producers are now crafting their finest versions with 100 per cent Tannat. With many exceptions, the best examples seem strikingly Bordelaise, containing similar flavour profiles of currants, blackberries and damson plums, albeit with much more tannic structure in youth. Time is Madiran’s friendly companion. As the finest bottlings age, they routinely tend to mirror their counterparts in Cahors and Bordeaux, assuming notes of cedarwood, tobacco and wild game. Modern winemaking methods have played no small role in the expanding success of this superb appellation, with many producers utilizing a technique known as ‘micro-oxygenation’ to soften tannins during the vinification and maturation process. Selections in VINTAGES are usually reasonable, with prices ranging from $15-30, sometimes more. Like Cahors, great Madiran routinely represents excellent value for money.

Then there’s Gaillac, home to more obscure grape varietals than any other part of the Southwest. For producers, this is something of a double-edged sword: plenty of unique wines yet continuous confusion on the part of potential patrons. For reds, the primary grapes are Braucol (the local name for Fer Servadou) and Duras, oftentimes accompanied by Gamay, Syrah and the three main Bordeaux grapes (plus a few others). Braucol and Duras share many similarities. Both are medium-bodied at most and tend to contain flavours reminiscent of plums, blackberries and pepper. Only the best bottlings are usually aged in oak, and may be kept for at least several years. Simpler versions really ought to be consumed immediately. Selections in VINTAGES are minimal, though some decent examples may be had for less than twenty bucks.

Loin de l'Oeil Grapes (Courtesy Official Website for Gaillac Wines)

Loin de l’Oeil Grapes (Courtesy Official Website for Gaillac Wines)

The white wines of Gaillac are even more complicated. By tradition, the most common grape is Loin de l’Oeil (or Len de l’El), so named because of its long-stemmed clusters as it appears on the vine. Although occasionally appearing on its own, it is often blended with Mauzac (another major grape of the appellation), Ondenc, Muscadelle and Sauvignon Blanc, the latter largely viewed as an unwelcome intruder. Historically, such esoteric grapes were used to make sweeter-style wines of considerable quality. Now such bottlings represent only a very small minority. Instead, growers have increasingly turned to rosés and sparkling wines in order to increase sales. Crafted from 100 per cent Mauzac, sparkling versions in Gaillac are produced via the ‘ancestral method’ (or ‘méthode ancestrale’), whereby the wine is bottled during fermentation, thus trapping carbon dioxide inside the wine. As with the reds, quality remains patchy in a few cases, though there is no doubting the determination of the appellation’s many young winegrowers.

This same resolve has also taken hold in Fronton. Located just north of the city of Toulouse (one of the largest cities in France), this appellation is fairly easy to understand. In this soothingly pastoral neck of the Southwest, reds must contain at least 50 per cent Négrette, the most important grape in Fronton. Though 100 per cent is permitted, most growers opt to blend their wines with varying percentages of Fer Servadou and Syrah. Despite its name, Négrette may have a dark colour but does not take kindly to aging in oak. Usually light-bodied and containing moderate notes of damson plums, most Fronton is really best admired for its youthful freshness and fruitiness. As in Gaillac and other appellations, rosé versions are also now being produced in sizable volumes. Selections for both types of wine in VINTAGES are sparse, with prices hovering around fifteen dollars. As a recommendable everyday wine, Fronton is seldom expensive, for Toulouse is a thirsty city.

Map of Southwest France

Finally, there is the appellation of Jurançon, home to the most famous type of sweet wine in the Southwest. Many wine commentators and sommeliers have a soft spot for this distinctive, underrated offering, crafted in relatively small amounts and usually drunk at the beginning of a meal. As elsewhere, the grapes are unique: Petit Manseng and its thinner-skinned (and larger-berried) cousin Gros Manseng, along with Petit Courbu and several others of preposterous obscurity. Unlike Sauternes, these delectably sweet moelleux wines are not affected by botrytis, nonetheless left on the vine as late as December to order to concentrate their sugars and flavour content. In France, this process is known as passerillé. In Alsace, wines labelled as ‘Vendanges Tardive’ are treated almost exactly the same. In youth, great Jurançon often presents notes of honey, lemon curd and elderberries, becoming increasingly Sauternes-like as it ages, though almost never as full-bodied. Pickings in VINTAGES are uninspired, though are often extremely reasonably priced when available, usually at around $25 or less. Dry white versions, labelled as ‘Jurançon Sec’ (crafted mostly from the earlier-ripening Gros Manseng) usually cost only half as much, and are often recommendable as everyday wines.

As if choices from the Southwest aren’t varied enough, scores of other appellations also slowly on the ascendancy. Value for money is key to their future prosperity. Though almost never available in VINTAGES, names to watch out for are Marcillac, Buzet, Côtes du Marmandais, Côtes du Duras, Béarn (and Béarn-Bellocq) and Irouléguy, the latter the only French appellation located in Basque Country. For lovers of diversity in wine, this vast sector of France truly is a proverbial treasure-trove of possibilities.

A few estates to watch:

Château Bouissel (Fronton): Run by Anne-Marie and Pierre Selle, the wines of Château Bouissel are among the most enjoyable in Fronton. At this 22-ha estate, freshness and approachability are prominent features. Three reds are currently produced, along with a very clean rosé. Le Bouissel seems their most balanced label, crafted mainly from Négrette and equal parts Syrah and Cot (Malbec) Ontario representative: Ruby Wines & Spirits

Château Bouissel 2012 Le Bouissel Fronton is one of several impressive examples produced at this reputable estate. Though more serious wines are increasingly being attempted, the best wines of Fronton seem to be those that manage to retain a proper sense of fruit expression and approachability. This is just such a wine. Drink now or hold for up to four years or more.  

Domaine Rotier (Gaillac): One of the finest properties in Gaillac, this 35-ha property is owned by Alain Rotier and brother-in-law Francis Marre. Though the reds respectable enough, the estate’s sweet wine (crafted from 100 per cent Loin de l’Oeil) is a very special offering. Like many operations in this part of the Southwest, the future holds more potential than it does obstacles. Ontario representative: Rouge et Blanc

Domaine Rotier 2011 Renaissance Vendanges Tardives Gaillac harkens back to the days when this ancient part of winegrowing France was best known for its sweeter-styled wines. Impeccably styled and elegant, it is a shame more of these wines aren’t produced nowadays. Drink now or hold for ten years or more.

Domaine du Moulin (Gaillac): Owned by the Hirrisou family, the wines of Domaine du Moulin are among the most impressive in Gaillac. Concentration, cleanliness and character seem to be common traits, particularly as far as the premium labels are concerned. Every visitor to this charming appellation should make a point of tasting this property’s wines. Not represented in Canada

Domaine du Moulin 2012 Florentin is easily the greatest pure Braucol (Fer Servadou) I have tasted to date. Possessing first-rate fruit expression, harmony and character, I would have never believed this lighter-bodied grape could yield a wine of such seriousness. Drink now or hold for six years or more. Decanting recommended.

Château Bouissel Classic 2012 Domaine Rotier Renaissance Vendanges Tardives 2011 Domaine Du Moulin Florentin 2012 Domaine Du Prince Lou Prince Cahors 2011 Château Montus 2009

Domaine du Prince (Cahors): Owned by the Jouve family, the wines of Domaine du Prince (especially the more premium versions) are certainly among the more concentrated versions of the appellation. Recent vintages from this 27-ha property seem superb, which currently produces four reds and one rosé. This is a very serious operation. Québec representative: À Travers Le Vin

Domaine du Prince 2011 Lou Prince Cahors is the flagship bottling of the estate, sourced from two separate parcels. Like the property’s other premium labels, this marvellous offering manages to combine a unique sense of modernity with the inherent characteristics and flavours of a top-sited Cahors. Drink now or hold for a dozen years or more. Decanting recommended.  

Château Montus (Madiran): Generally considered the star estate of the appellation, the wines of Château Montus seldom disappoint. Owned by Alain Brumont, a master of Tannat, this stellar establishment currently produces five reds and one white. For Madiran enthusiasts, and fans of the Southwest of France in general, few properties are as significant. Québec Representative: Mark Anthony Brands

Château Montus 2009 Montus Madiran is a wine of outstanding character, power and breed. Just as significant, the Montus is not even the flagship label of the estate, which just goes to show how serious owner Alain Brumont takes his wines. Drink now or hold four fourteen years or more. Decanting recommended.

~

Duck (canard) and Sud-Ouest France:

Thanks to a sensational foie gras extravaganza at Château Montauriol (see list below) in Fronton and many other opportunities to partake of local specialties, Julian’s time in the Southwest of France was as much wine-themed as it was duck-oriented. Feast your eyes on his report.

As I am loath to the concept of photographing my food, a type of avant-garde ritual amongst smartphone and tablet owners as an alternate form of saying grace, I leave it to readers’ old-fashioned imaginations to conceive of the wondrous and innumerable types of duck (canard) cuisine to be found in the Southwest of France. Though enjoyed throughout France and many other parts of the world, few peoples seem as attached to this sinfully satisfying creature as the inhabitants of France’s southwestern quadrant, particularly in and around Gascogne.

Controversy aside, foie gras is the most celebrated genre, the best examples sourced from the livers of free-range ducks (though geese is considered superior) fattened on maize. Foie gras is produced in many formats. Those prepared ‘entier’ are generally considered the finest, consisting of the entire liver and usually containing no preservatives. Those presented as a ‘bloc’ are typically derived from smaller pieces whipped and condensed together. ‘Mousse’ de foie gras consists of puréed pieces, while ‘pâté’ is usually combined with other meat products. When cooked, entier or bloc versions (most common) are among the most appetizing of culinary delights. Foie gras is typically begun at the start of a meal, ideally with sweeter-style wines. Jurançon or sweet Gaillac are both optimal pairings.

Though modes of preparation are vast, two types of duck are most often served as main courses. Confit de canard is certainly the most decadent. Crafted from the leg, the meat is first rubbed with salt, herbs and garlic, after which it is covered in rendered fat. The duck is then cooked at a low temperature in the oven for at least several hours. The result is incredible flavour and richness. Another common type of duck is magret de canard, the breast of the bird, typically lined with a half-centimetre layer of fat on one side. Usually pan-fried and containing several slits for accuracy, a moist helping of magret de canard is one of the region’s great offerings. Cahors or Madiran are ideal accompaniments.

The options don’t end here. In salads, duck gizzards (gesiers) are quite common, as is smoked duck served in slices, usually from the breast. There are many others of greater complicatedness than the ones mentioned above, and I would list them, yet I am made to recall the trials and tribulations of my most beloved cartoon characters and feel the need to pause. It seems my appreciation of duck is not without a sense of screen imagery after all.

A duck feast at Château Montauriol (Fronton):

Foie gras de canard mi-cuit (half-cooked)

Fois gras de canard entier

Cou de canard farci

Rillettes de canard

Pâté de canard

Saucisse de canard

Magret de canard frais séché

Gesiers de canard (served in salad)

Tartare de canard

Carpaccio de canard (with garlic and parsley)

Cheers,

Julian Hitner

Click here for Julian’s complete list of red wines from Southwest France

Editors Note: You can find our 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!


Filed under: Featured Articles, Wine, , , , , , , ,

Les bons choix de Nadia – Novembre

Tout frais arrivés à la SAQ
par Nadia Fournier

Nadia Fournier - New - Cropped

Nadia Fournier

Chaque semaine, la SAQ met en vente de nouveaux arrivages de produits de spécialité qu’elle regroupe dans des lettres circulaires. Voyant combien celle-ci foisonnait de vins du monde entier, tous plus intéressants et attrayants, j’ai pensé vous en présenter un petit condensé à l’approche de la fin de semaine.

Bonne lecture et bonnes bouteilles!

Des vins rouges, tout azimuts

On voudra d’abord retenir le cabernet courant de la maison De Martino, fruit d’un assemblage de raisins de deux terroirs diffrents, l’un situé dans le secteur prisé de Isla de Maipo, l’autre au pied de la cordillère de la Costa, le Cabernet sauvignon 2012 adopte une forme très classique, très pure. Un rapport qualité-plaisir hors pair !

Depuis l’entrée en poste de l’œnologue Sebastien Labbe, cette maison appartenant au groupe Santa Rita ne cesse de progresser. Moins d’interventions au chai et une meilleure conduite des vignobles se traduisent ici par un Cabernet 2011 impeccable. À apprécier à table avec une viande saignante ou à laisser reposer jusqu’en 2018-2019.

Toujours dans l’Hémisphère sud, mais en Australie, le Are you Game 2010 tire profit du climat frais de la région de Victoria et séduit plutôt par sa vigueur et par son fruit, teinté des notes fumées et animales caractéristiques de la syrah de climat tempéré.

De Martino Legado Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 Carmen Gran Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon 2011 Are You Game Shiraz 2010 Château Toumalin 2009 François Villard l'Appel Des Sereines 2012

Lorsque goûté de nouveau en octobre, le Château Toumalin Canon-Fronsac 2009 commenté l’année dernière m’a paru encore plus rond et flatteur, laissant presque une sensation sucrée en bouche tant le fruit est mûr. Est-ce l’effet 2009 ? Quoi qu’il en soit, l’amateur de vin plein et joufflu y trouvera son compte.

Commercialisé comme simple Vin de France, L’Appel des Sereines 2012 de François Villard est de la trempe de bien des crozes-hermitage. Rien de bien compliqué, mais pour 20 $, on a dans son verre un excellent vin de soif mettant en valeur les attributs de la syrah.

Vins blancs secs, doux et effervescents

Domaine Gerovassiliou Malagousia Vieilles Vignes 2013 Domaine Vincent Delaporte Chavignol Sancerre 2013 Mönchhof Mosel Slate Spätlese Riesling 2011Créé au XIIe siècle par les moines cisterciens, Mönchhof est l’un des domaines les plus anciens de la Moselle. Le vignoble tenu par plus de deux siècles par la famille Eymael est la source du Riesling Spätlese 2011. Vu sa longueur en bouche, nul doute qu’on peut le laisser reposer en cave jusqu’en 2020, au moins.

La famille Delaporte est établie depuis le XVIIe siècle dans la commune de Chavignol, au coeur du Sancerrois. Jean-Yves et son fils Matthieu tirent, des sols de silex qui constituent la moitié du vignoble un très bon Sancerre 2013, intense et précis. À savourer au cours des cinq prochaines années, avec un fromage de chèvre. L’accord parfait !

Produit dans le nord de la Grèce, ce vin blanc est issu à 100 % de malagousia, une variété ressuscitée par Evangelos Gerovassiliou dans les années 1980-1990, alors qu’il était oenologue au Domaine Carras. Tant par ses parfums que par son attaque en bouche très vineuse, le Malagousia 2013 me rappelle chaque fois les bons vins blancs de la vallée du Rhône, avec un accent d’exotisme. À ce prix, difficile de trouver plus complet en matière de vin blanc aromatique.

Tout aussi parfumé, sinon plus, mais avec moins de poids en bouche, le Birichino Malvasia 2012 sied aussi bien à un apéritif entre amis qu’à une cuisine bien relevée d’Asie du Sud-est.

La saison des huîtres bat son plein. Et quoi de mieux pour mettre en valeur la salinité des délicieux bivalves qu’un vin de Galice, sur la côte ouest de la péninsule ibérique. L’oenologue Telmo Rodriguez a sillonné l’Espagne du nord au sud à la recherche de vieilles parcelles de vignes, souvent menacées d’arrachage. Produit sur l’appellation Valdeorras, dans la partie sud-est de la Galice, non loin de Bierzo, le Gaba do Xil 2013 est l’un des godellos les plus typés que j’aie goûté dans ma vie. À moins de 20 $…

Difficile de se distinguer dans un marché aussi saturé que celui du chardonnay. Pourtant, Pio Cesare prouve que le cépage blanc bourguignon a bel et bien sa place sur les terroirs de Barbaresco. Son Altro 2013 (l’autre en italien) est un peu le « petit frère » du Piodilei 2012, qui est plus vineux et davantage marqué par l’élevage en barrique.

Birichino Malvasia 2012 Telmo Rodríguez Gaba Do Xil Godello 2013 Pio Cesare l'Altro 2013 Pio Cesare Piodilei Chardonnay 2012 Claude Chevalier Blanc De Blancs Brut

Aller, soyons fous, des bulles!  Depuis une quinzaine d’années, Claude Chevalier, vigneron à Ladoix et actuel président du BIVB (Bureau interprofessionnel des vins de Bourgogne), réserve une partie de sa récolte annuelle afin de produire un vin effervescent. Sa production de Crémant de Bourgogne, au départ destinée à une consommation personnelle, est devenue de plus en plus populaire, au point où elle est maintenant exportée jusqu’ici.

Encore des vins italiens !

J’ignore si c’est l’effet du millésime, mais le Barolo 2009 « tout court » de ce domaine de Verduno mené par Gian Battista Alessandria, m’a paru sensiblement plus souple et capiteux que d’habitude. On peut espérer que quelques années en cave élargissent son spectre de saveurs.

Pour la première fois à la SAQ, un excellent vin rouge de Vénétie élaboré par la famille Campedelli, considérée à juste raison, parmi les acteurs les plus sérieux de la région. Bien qu’il n’ait pas l’étoffe des grandes cuvées du domaine, le Borgo Marcellise 2012 répond parfaitement aux attentes en matière de Valpolicella courant. Juteux, friand et léger en alcool. Je ne demande pas mieux.

Plus au sud, non loin de la ville de Sienne, la famille Colombini semble imperméable au vent de modernisme qui a gagné Montalcino depuis une quinzaine d’années. Leur domaine, Barbi, est une référence pour l’amateur de vins toscans traditionnels, comme cet excellent Brunello di Montalcino 2008. Pas de parfums boisés ni de manoeuvres oenologiques superflues, juste le goût inaltéré d’un bon vin rouge de Toscane.

Fratelli Alessandria Barolo 2009 Marion Borgo Marcellise 2012 Fattoria Dei Barbi Brunello Di Montalcino 2008 Fertuna Pactio 2010 Mastroberardino Lacryma Christi Del Vesuvio 2012

Dans le même esprit, le Pactio 2010 est élaboré par Fertuna, en partenariat avec le marquis Nicolo Incisa della Rocchetta, propriétaire de Tenuta San Guido et créateur du célébrissime Sassicaia. L’un des vins les plus achevés de Maremma que j’ai goûtés au cours des dernières années.

Tout au sud, une soixantaine de kilomètres au sud-est de Naples, Mastroberadino a joué un rôle de leader dans la préservation des cépages autochtones du Sud de l’Italie. Elle élabore régulièrement de bons vins originaux, dont le Rosso Secco 2012, composé exclusivement de piedirosso, deuxième cépage rouge le plus planté de Campanie après l’aglianico. Un peu rustique dans le meilleur sens du terme, gorgé de saveurs et assez long en bouche.

Enfin, bien que je ne les aie pas goûtés récemment, je m’en voudrais de ne pas porter à votre attention les quatre vins suivants :

Quinta de Foz de Arouce, Branco 2011
Vinho regional Beiras

Domaine de l’Ecu, Granite 2013
Muscadet-Sèvre Maine

Domaine de l’Ecu, d’Orthogneiss 2013 
Muscadet-Sèvre et Maine

Le guide du vin Phaneuf 2015Fleury, Rosé de Saignée, Brut
Champagne

Tous des vins de terroirs, fidèles à leurs lieux d’origine, et qui ont fait preuve d’une constance exemplaire depuis quelques années.

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!

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 !


Publicité
Wolf Blass - Cuisinez comme un chef

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

Buyers’ Guide to VINTAGES Nov 22nd – Part One

Shakeup in the Rhône & Dynamic Global Reds
By Sara d’Amato with notes from David Lawrason

Sara's New Pic_Sm

Sara d’Amato

While John Szabo is busy scaling volcanoes (the life of a wine writer is a difficult and perilous job) I am only too happy to fill in with my thoughts on this week’s enormous release. In fact, as we approach the holidays, these releases will not get any smaller and the selections become quite varied with plenty of big names and labels. As wine writers, we are working double time in order to keep up with it all (as I mentioned, we have it tough).

Editors Note: You can find complete critic reviews by clicking on any of the highlighted wine names or bottle images. You can also find the complete list of each VINTAGES release under Wine >> New Releases. Remember, however, that to access this list and to read all of the reviews you do need to subscribe (only $40/year). Paid subscribers get immediate access to new reviews, while non-paid members do not see reviews until 60 days later. Premium membership has its privileges; like first access to great wines!

Rhône and the Midi

In the midst of some heavy hitters in this release, there is an impressively large number of wines from the Rhône and the Midi that collectively deserve a closer look. It just so happens that this is the region in which I have summered, ever since I was a little tike, and have made some discoveries as of late that are really quite a shakeup for this usually quite consistent region.

First, unusual weather patterns, especially in the winter of recent vintages, have thrown many wrenches into what is a generally a stable region. For example, the heat-seeking grenache is at an all-time low in the Rhône and southern France due to harsh cold snaps over the winters of 2010, 2011 and 2012, causing damage, and in some cases vine death, along with low fruit set at the onset of the growing season. So what does this mean? Well, certainly it means less grenache in blends and often less alcohol and concentration. But tribulation in the world of wine can often yield surprisingly fabulous results and critics worldwide are praising these unique, recent vintages as some of the finest in the last several decades. The resulting wines are stripped down and characterized by purity of fruit and mineral along with a certain finesse making for a compelling outcome.

Second, syrah, oh syrah, is experiencing a heyday both in the northern Rhône where it reigns supreme and in the south where it is experiencing temporary higher concentrations in blends. Cooler temperatures in the north have only enhanced the grape’s naturally peppery, floral character and in the south it benefited from a shorter growing season and some increase in the activity of the Mistral – the cooling, drying wind that sweeps through the Rhône valley (reportedly having caused the madness in Van Gogh that lead him to cut off his own ear). Yes, syrah needs coolness to thrive and fully express its sensual, spicy nature. Extreme heat squashes and fattens this stirring variety and thus it is often carefully planted at higher altitudes or in more shaded locales in southern France. Those wines that featured higher ratios of syrah in these past vintages also benefited from increased concentration due to naturally low yields, most notably in 2012.

Finally, who’s heard of Rasteau, Vacqueyras, Lirac and Tavel? More of you than ever before thanks to efforts by houses such as Perrin and other like-minded producers who push to highlight these distinctive southern regions. Châteauneuf-du-Pape may be the kingpin of the south, but many of the surrounding appellations have stepped up in terms of quality and their competitive prices may have you spending your money on them instead.

Without further ado, our thoughts on the best of the lot followed by statement making reds from around the globe:

Grands Serres Les Hautes Vacquieres Vacqueyras 2012

M. Chapoutier Petite Ruche Crozes Hermitage 2012

Saint Roch 2013 Vielles Vignes Grenache Blanc/MarsanneSaint Roch Vielles Vignes Grenache Blanc Marsanne 2013, Côtes Du Roussillon, Languedoc-Roussillon, France ($15.95)
Sara d’Amato – The whites of the southern France remain unknown to many consumers on this side of the pond,ok but the few that trickle in should not be overlooked. This is a fine, well-priced offering that boasts impressive freshness, vibrancy and elegance.

Chapoutier Petite Ruche Crozes Hermitage 2012, Rhône, France ($24.95)
David Lawrason -  If you need convincing about the difference that biodynamic viticulture makes, buy one bottle of this and another 2012 Crozes-Hermitage to compare directly. This is an absolute northern Rhône classic syrah, firm yet generous with excellent length.
Sara d’Amato – Naturally low yields of concentrated syrah have produced a more firm and robust version of this far-reaching northern Rhône appellation – a product of an exceptional vintage.

Grands Serres 2012 Les Hautes Vacquieres, Vacqueyras, Rhône, France ($24.95)
David Lawrason – There have been about dozen Vacqueyras released in 2014, and all but one or two were excellent buys – if you like your southern Rhônes to be rich, dense and complex, as this example shows. I am coming around to the idea that most Vacqueyras are bigger than most Châteauneuf-du- Pape, at half the price.

Perrin & Fils L'andéol Rasteau 2012

Domaine De Vieux Télégraphe Télégramme Châteauneuf Du Pape 2012

Chàteau De Nages 2012 JT Costiéres De NîmesChâteau De Nages JT Costiéres De Nîmes 2012, Rhône, France ($24.95)
Sara d’Amato – Formerly part of the Languedoc, Costieres de Nimes has aligned itself with the Rhône and is now its most southern appellation. The region features a unique microclimate which is significantly cooler than its surrounding appellations (but no less sunny). This version is both robust and vibrant with exceptional balance.

Domaine de Vieux Télégraphe 2012 Télégramme Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Rhône, France ($49.95)
Sara d’Amato – A lighter, brighter Châteauneuf-du-Pape and one which is terrifically approachable. The blend boasts a classic, traditional feel with plenty of garrigue, musk and earth.

Perrin & Fils 2012 l’Andéol Rasteau, Rhône, France ($19.95)
Sara d’Amato – Since 2010, Rasteau is an independent AOC in the Rhône Valley and focuses a great deal on grenache. This example is a wine of contrast featuring an abundance of succulent, zesty fruit along with a rich, mouth-filling texture and a dose of peppery syrah.

World Reds

Calera Pinot Noir 2012

Domaine De l’Herminette 2013 Grand Cras MorgonDomaine De L'herminette Grand Cras Morgon 2013, Beaujolais, France ($19.95)
David Lawrason – This young textbook Morgon nicely bridges the two styles of Beaujolais that I like. The aromatics showcase very pretty fruit and florality, while the palate battens down with more mineral driven character, and becomes more pinot-like.

Calera 2012 Pinot Noir, Central Coast, California ($33.95)
David Lawrason – Josh Jensen of Calera almost single-handedly gives pinot noir cred in California with his calcerous-soiled single vineyard wines from high on remote Mt. Harlan in San Benito County. This edition calls on fruit from Central Coast locales but possesses the same structure and complexity as the now very expensive editions. It runs in the family.

Josef Chromy 2010 Pepik Pinot Noir, Tasmania, Australia ($18.90)
Sara d’Amato – This high-tech, cool climate winery has produced a sensational result in this nervy pinot noir at a steal of a price. An exciting, modern style with no shortage of personality.

San Felice 2010 Il Grigio Chianti Classico Riserva, Tuscany, Italy ($27.95)
David Lawrason – Go to school on authentic Chianti – a 100% estate grown sangiovese aged 80% in larger, old Slavonian and 20% in smaller French barriques. No merlot or cabernet to in-fill more berryish fruit, it has all kinds of savoury, sour red fruit complexity – a lovely texture.

Tenuta Stefano 2009 Farina le Brume Langhe, Piedmont, Italy ($16.95)
David Lawrason – If you are Barolo/Barberesco fan, or want to know what they are all about, without paying $40 to $60, try this maturing nebbiolo from the Langhe zone that surrounds those two famous appellations. Lacking some of their depth perhaps but bang-on nebbiolo.

Josef Chromy Pepik Pinot Noir 2012 San Felice Il Grigio Chianti Classico Riserva 2010 Tenuta Stefano Farina Le Brume Langhe 2009 Cavino Grande Reserve Nemea 2008 Meerlust Rubicon 2008

Cavino 2008 Grande Reserve Nemea, Greece ($17.95)
Sara d’Amato – Agioritiko ages so gracefully and here is a perfect example to highlight this characteristic. Although the wine is drinking beautifully now, it is certainly still kicking and has opened to offer an impressive array of flavours.

Meerlust Rubicon 2008, Stellenbosch, South Africa ($38.95)
Sara d’Amato – This iconic Bordelaise blend from Meerlust had me at first sip. Its pleasant maturation did not deter the flood of flavours on the palate of this complex and highly appealing wine.

~

TT_Session_VolcanicWinesAnd that concludes this week’s edition of the Buyer’s Guide. We will be back next week with Part Two featuring John’s picks and many heavy hitters under VINTAGES’ “Our Finest” Feature.

For those of you in the Toronto area, please join WineAlign’s John Szabo MS at the Gourmet Food and Wine Expo on Friday, November 21st for an exotic tour of the world’s best volcanoes! And, of course, the exceptional wines that grow on them.  The Volcanic Wines tasting will take place from 6:30 to 8 pm at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre.  To buy tickets, please go to foodandwineexpo.ca.

Sara d’Amato

From VINTAGES Nov 22nd:

Sara’s Sommelier Selections
Lawrason’s Take
All Reviews


AdvertisementPenfolds Bin 389 Cabernet Shiraz 2011

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

Top 20 under $20 at the LCBO (November)

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 am delighted to have found many new great values at the LCBO this month. From among all the wines I have tasted since I last reported to you, I have found nine new wines to join the Top 50.

Additionally many wines on my Top 50 Best Values list are discounted and some have Bonus Air Miles that apply, making these wines even more attractive for the next four weeks or so; all making your fall 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 this time runs until November 29th. 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

Fuzion Alta Reserva Malbec 2013, Mendoza, Argentina $8.95 was $9.95
NEW TO TOP50 – A fruity juicy malbec for pizza and meaty pasta sauces.

Xplorador Carmenere 2012, Central Valley, Chile $9.15 was $10.95
DISCONTINUED AT LCBO – Sadly this juicy, fruit-forward red will soon no longer be on the shelf.  There are over 800 bottles in stock so one can still enjoy at the sale price for a while I think.

Berco Do Infante Red Reserva 2012, Lisboa Region, Portugal $9.80 + 4BAMs
From the Lisbon area in Portugal comes this tasty fruity red, great for pizza and burgers.

Fuzion Alta Reserva Malbec 2013 Xplorador Carmenere 2012 Berco Do Infante Red Reserva 2012 Tini Sangiovese Di Romagna 2012 Beso De Vino Old Vine Garnacha 2011

Tini Sangiovese Di Romagna 2012, Emilia-Romagna, Italy $9.96 + 6BAMs
A Sangiovese (the Chianti grape) that’s great with tomato sauces.

Beso De Vino Old Vine Garnacha 2011, Carinena, Spain $9.95 + 5BAMs
A fresh vibrant soft juicy red ideal for grilled meats made from grenache (aka garnacha).

Argento Cabernet Sauvignon 2012, Mendoza, Argentina $9.95 + 4BAMs
An inexpensive cabernet with lots of varietal character and a decent structure without too much confection.

Cusumano Nero d’Avola 2013, Sicily, Italy $9.95 was $11.95
TOP50NOVEMBER – Super value for $9.95; worthy of a multiple bottle purchase of this delicious Sicilian red.

Quartetto 2009, Alentejano, Portugal $10.00 plus 4BAMs
Made from four native Portuguese grapes. Chill slightly and enjoy with pizza, burgers and meaty pasta sauces.

Argento Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 Cusumano Nero d'Avola 2013 Quartetto 2009 Farnese Casale Vecchio Montepulciano d'Abruzzo 2013 Pelee Island Lighthouse Cabernet Franc 2011 Luccarelli Primitivo 2013

Farnese Casale Vecchio Montepulciano D’abruzzo 2013, Abruzzo, Italy $10.95
NEW TO TOP50 – The 2013 is a very good vintage for this very classy Italian red. Ripasso lovers should be shopping here at less than $11!

Pelee Island Lighthouse Cabernet Franc 2011, Ontario VQA $10.95 was $11.95
NEW TO TOP50 – A juicy fruity ripe cabernet franc for roast meats or lamb cutlets.

Luccarelli Primitivo 2013, Puglia, Italy $11.05
NEW TO TOP50 – Known as zinfandel in California, this is a full-bodied succulent red great with a rack of lamb.

Carmen Cabernet Sauvignon Reserva 2013, Colchagua Valley, Chile $11.45 plus 4BAMs
NEW TO TOP50 – Great value for a fragrant ripe well balanced Chilean cabernet.

Miguel Torres Sangre De Toro 2012, Catalonia, Spain $12.95 + 8 BAMs
This wine has been around for ever and still keeps going strong. Time to try again. Always a safe bet.

Carmen Cabernet Sauvignon Reserva 2013 Miguel Torres Sangre De Toro 2012 Trapiche Broquel Malbec 2012 Carpineto Dogajolo Rosso 2012 Errazuriz Max Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon 2012

Trapiche Broquel Malbec 2012, Mendoza, Argentina $12.95 was $14.95
TOP50NOVEMBER – Was great value at $14.95 now outstanding at $2 off. Time to stock up on this delicious elegant malbec.

Carpineto Dogajolo Rosso 2012, Tuscany, Italy $14.45
NEW TO TOP50 – A fragrant soft red with lots of flavour and character for a wine at this price.

Errazuriz Max Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon 2012, Aconcagua Valley, Chile $15.95 was $18.95
NEW TO TOP50 – 2012 is one of the best vintages ever for this classic Chilean cabernet. Enjoy while $3 off.

Whites

Poquito Moscato Sparkling (375ml) Spain $2.85 was $5.00
DISCONTINUED AT LCBO (Over 8,000 in inventory currently) – This floral sweet summer bubbly listing is coming to an end so this half bottle has gone on sale. Pick up an armfull, chill well and enjoy as an aperitif.

Cono Sur Bicicleta Viognier 2014, Colchagua Valley, Chile $8.95 was $9.95
TOP50NOVEMBER – Was already the best value white in Ontario; now a $1 off. It’s time to stock up on this fragrant juicy white.

Poquito Moscato Sparkling Cono Sur Bicicleta Viognier 2014 Cono Sur Bicicleta Pinot Grigio 2014 Cono Sur Chardonnay Reserva Especial 2014

Cono Sur Bicicleta Pinot Grigio 2014, Central Valley, Chile $9.90
NEW TO TOP50 – This delicious grigio has deservedly been so popular since it launched in the summer that the LCBO keeps running out of it. Use WineAlign’s inventory tracking to make sure there is some in your store and pick up a few.

Cono Sur Chardonnay Reserva Especial 2014, Casablanca Valley, Chile $12.95
NEW TO TOP50 – The new vintage is quite sauvignon like; fresh lively with just a touch of oak and mouthwateringly delicious.

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, 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.

How I Choose the Top 50

I constantly taste the wines at the LCBO to keep the Top 50 list up to date. You can easily find all of my all Top 50 Value Wines from the WineAlign main menu. Click on Wine =>Top 50 Value Wines to be taken directly to the list.

Every wine is linked to WineAlign where you can read more, discover pricing discounts, check out inventory and compile lists for shopping at your favourite store. Never again should you be faced with a store full of wine with little idea of what to pick for best value.

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 November
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!


Advertisements

Boschendal 1685 Chardonnay 2013

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

Bill’s Best Bets – November

The other side of the Rhône
by Bill Zacharkiw

Bill Zacharkiw

Bill Zacharkiw

Every successful wine region has an identity, mostly founded on the wines that sell best, which is hopefully based on what they do best. In the Rhône, that identity is definitely red, and based on syrah in the north, and grenache in the south. While the region’s best estates definitely merit this “red-putation,” the downside is that their white wines tend to be overlooked. And that’s a shame, because many are truly world-class.

One of the problems in navigating the whites of the Rhône, and this is more directed at the south, is that there are a variety of different grapes being used, which will have an effect on the flavour and more importantly, texture profile of the wine. Most, however, will tend to be on the richer end of the texture spectrum.

So let’s start with the easier to understand region, the north, where some of the world’s greatest white wines are produced.

The duo of Marsanne and Roussanne

M. Chapoutier Chante Alouette Hermitage Blanc 2011 Domaine Jean Louis Chave Hermitage Blanc 2011 Two grapes which for the most part mimic one another. Both are relatively low in acidity, though roussanne is considered a touch more aromatic. For those of you with a love for richer whites like chardonnay, then these wines should be right up your taste alley.

The most reputed wines come from Hermitage. On these granitic soils, the wines, despite their intense richness, manage to show an admirable mineral quality, which is more associated with cooler climate whites.

White Hermitage is an extraordinary wine and despite low acid and being completely dry, still somehow manages to be one of the best whites for aging. The reason is due to the fact that these two grapes have a high proportion of what is called “dry extract,” what is left in a wine if you boiled off all the liquid. And as they age, they tend to get leaner and leaner as they “cannabalize” their own fat.

The downside is that they can be quite pricey. If you have the cash, then best to start at the top. Jean-louis Chave’s 2011 Hermitage is a rich and already beautifully textured wine that will live for decades. More accessibly priced is Chapoutier’s 2011 Chante-Alouette. Made with 100% marsanne, it shows all the hallmarks of white Hermitage.

Domaine Belle Les Terres Blanches 2012 Pierre Gaillard St Joseph 2012 Pic & Chapoutier Saint Péray 2011You can find some exceptional whites in Saint-Joseph and Crozes-Hermitages, especially on sites which have more granite and limestone. A great example is from Domaine Louis Belle. The 2012 is a perfect example of these two great grapes grown on granite, but at a fraction of the price of a Hermitage. I was particularly impressed by Pierre Gaillard’s 2013 Saint-Joseph. Peaches, mineral, great depth and texture. Wow.

But for a bargain, look to the appellation of Saint-Péray. Just south of Cornas, old vines grown on this hillside of granite and limestone are the source of not only superb versions of the style, perhaps a touch more mineral and fresh, but at very reasonable prices. Try the 2011 from Pic & Chapoutier.

Viognier and Condrieu

François Villard Le Grand Vallon 2011Condrieu, just south of the Rhône’s northernmost appellation Cote Rotie, is where one of wine world’s most elusive and temperamental white grapes, viognier, reaches its greatest expression. Viognier is perhaps the white version of pinot noir, attempted by many but mastered by few. Why is it so difficult? Viognier is a grape which has a relatively low acidity, and when grown in regions that are too warm, can easily become flabby. So the key is to find a climate which is warm enough to ripen the grape while not moving into over-ripeness.

Yields are always very low, which is why these wines are rare and often quite expensive. However, when you drink great Condrieu, there is nothing like it. I have called it on a number of occasions an oboe concerto for your mouth. Great Condrieu is subtle, often showing delicate florals and honeysuckle, and notes of white stone fruit like pear and peach. The texture tends to be oily as opposed to buttery, and the length is exceptional. There is a “low level”, almost saline mineral hum that continues for minutes after every sip.

Condrieu works magnificently with lobster, scallops, and richer cheeses. Look no further than François Villard’s 2011 Le Grand Vallon for an excellent example of how good these wines can be.

The mixed bag of southern whites

In the southern part of the Rhône, things are not quite as uniform with respect to grapes, and therefore wine styles. Although they represent a relatively small amount of the total production, many wine makers are particularly proud of their white wines, even though they are far less well-reputed.

Clos Bellane Les Échalas 2010 Château Mont Redon Lirac Blanc 2012Unlike in the north, wine makers have a number of grapes to choose from, including clairette, bourbelenc, viognier, marsanne, grenache blanc and roussane. Many clairette based wines tend to be quite fresh at first, but as they age, can gain a certain amount of richness.

On a more northern taste profile, try the biodynamically grown Clos Belanne. There isn’t a ton of bottles left but this was one of my favourite whites I have tasted over the past few months. A great example of a white that balances freshness with a richer texture is 2012 Mont-Redon’s Lirac. Clairette-based, but with grenache blanc, roussanne and viognier, it is a great deal for the $23 price tag.

One of my fetish wines are white Châteauneuf-du-Pape. It represents less than 5% of the total production, but these wines can be very long-lived. Grenache blanc and Clairette are the primary grapes, but many producers also use roussane and another grape called bourboulenc. Jerome Quiot, who makes a great white Châteauneuf-du-Pape  describes these wines as “having two lives.” The first life”, he says is “refreshing, youthful, but still rich enough for white meats. But after 5 years, they gain a smoky, truffle quality that makes them perfect for cheeses.”

Chateauneuf Du Pape Blanc Domaine De Nalys 2012

Quito’s 2011 Domaine du Vieux Lazaret Domaine Du Vieux Lazaret 2011is a great introduction to the style, as is the 2012 Domaine de Nalys. Both are under $40 and exemplify how these whites can show great complexity and depth, while maintaining a wonderful freshness.

At a Christmas dinner a few years ago, I was fortunate enough to drink a 1989 bottle of Château Beaucastel, Châteauneuf-du-Pape vieilles vignes. This is made entirely with roussane grapes from vines that are a minimum of 75 years of age. It was rich, honeyed and just oxidized enough to have some interesting nutty notes. On a night when a lot of great wine was poured, this is the bottle that I remember.

One final note about service – these wines must be served on the warmer side of the spectrum if you want to appreciate fully their richer textures. Start them at 10C and let them warm up. I have drunk them up to 18C and they are fantastic.

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!


Advertisement
Beringer Private Reserve Chardonnay 2012

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

20 under $20 in British Columbia (November)

Monthly Picks from our West Coast Critic Team

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

- TR

BC Team Version 3

Anthony Gismondi

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

DJ Kearney

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rhys Pender MW

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Treve Ring

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

****

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

Cheers,

Treve

Here’s a short-cut to the complete list searchable by store: 20 under $20 in British Columbia

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


Advertisements
Calliope Figure Eight Red 2012

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

Margaret Swaine’s Spirits Review – November

A Plethora of Great Spirits
by Margaret Swaine

Margaret Swaine

Margaret Swaine

As we head towards winter, more and more great spirits are being launched from our Canadian distilleries and coming to our shores from abroad. Recently I talked with Dave Broom, author of the World Atlas of Whisky about this boom in spirits.

Broom has been writing about spirits for 25 years. Two of his eight books (Drink! and Rum) won the Glenfiddich award for Drinks Book of the year. The Whisky Atlas (an updated 2nd version which includes Canada) is a visually gorgeous, well written book that would make an excellent gift for the whisky lover. You can find it on Amazon or in Chapters Indigo (indigo.ca).

Canadian Club Chairman’s Select 100% RyeBroom told me he’s a huge fan of Canadian whisky and the innovative spirit that drives our distilleries. When I showed him Canadian Club’s new Chairman’s Select 100% Rye Whisky he said he had to get a bottle before he returned to the UK. It’s distilled at Alberta Distillers who really know their rye. “Alberta Distillers makes more rye whisky than anyone else in North America. They are the experts,” said Broom.

“The rye boom has just started in Europe,” he said. “The new wave of distilleries are using rye. There are three great ones from distilleries in England now for example.”

As to Scottish whisky, he said we really haven’t seen such a distillery boom since the 1890’s. There are now 114 distilleries in Scotland with another ten in the planning. “My fear is that soon after the 1890 boom there was a bust. I hope this time people are looking properly to the long issue. It’s a long term business,” Broom said.

Ireland has about 20 new distillery applications and there are now even 7 distilleries in England (four years ago there was only one).

The trend to “finish” a scotch in a barrel that’s different from the traditional ex-bourbon barrels is starting to slow down according to Broom and that’s a good thing. “Barrel finished when it works is great. Sadly it doesn’t as frequently as it should,” he said. I just tasted Tullibardine 225 Sauternes Finish Single Malt and would say this is one that does.

Tullibardine Sauternes 225 Finish Single Malt The Balvenie 12 Year Doublewood Old Pulteney 12 Year Old Hghland Single Malt Scotch Bowmore 12 Years Old Islay Single Malt Ardbeg Supernova Islay Single Malt

Balvenie Doublewood 12 Year Old is matured first in American bourbon barrels, then oloroso sherry oak casks. Keep your eyes out for Balvenie Tun 1509, a single barrel sherry cask version that is expected to sell for around $163.

I’m glad to see the lovely Old Pulteney 12 Year Old Highland Single Malt from Inverness Distillers back on the shelves. Bowmore Islay 12 Year Old Single Malt is another classic but with the peaty, briny, smoky Islay character. For a powerful hit of peat, Ardbeg Supernova Islay Single Malt delivers it in a big way.

Mount Gay Rum Black BarrelIn other brown spirits, Mount Gay Rum has just launched Black Barrel, a small batch blend of matured double pot distillates and aged column distillates finished in deeply charred bourbon casks.

Angostura is well known the world over for its Angostura bitters and for its rums. It all began in 1824 when founder Dr. Johann Siegert first produced aromatic bitters in Angostura, Venezuela (today called Ciudad Bolivar). In the 1870’s, Dr. Siegert’s three sons migrated to Trinidad and transferred the Angostura business there.  Over the years, Angostura Aromatic Bitters became a required product on every bar around the world as an integral ingredient in premium cocktails. (Bitters have become a huge trend today with many other companies making their versions.)

The family’s Siegert Bouquet Rum became a Trinidadian tradition up until the early 1960’s and part of the company’s rich rum heritage. By 1965, Angostura was making more money from rum than from their bitters according to master distiller John Georges. In the 1970’s, Angostura expanded, acquiring the Fernandes family distillery, which was founded in the 1890’s by Manuel Fernandes, an immigrant from Portugal, and known for making high quality rums. This year marks the 190th anniversary of Angostura.

The company aims for subtlety and finesse in their products by using high quality molasses, a proprietary yeast isolated in 1947, continuous still distillation and aging in charred American first fill bourbon oak casks Angostura 5 Year Old aged a minimum of five years, is a light blend made for cocktails. Angostura 1919, a blend of rums up to eight years old, is pretty, delicate and silky. Angostura 1824 aged for a minimum of 12 years is a deeper, heavier, “chewable” rum.

Angostura Anejo 5 Year Old Rum Angostura 1919 8 Years Old Rum Angostura 1824 Aged 12 Years Rum

Cocktail lovers might want to download the free Angostura app of excellent cocktail recipes. A dash of bitters in your drink is sweet heaven.

Cheers!

Margaret Swaine

To find these and other picks at stores near you, click on: Margaret’s Whisky and Spirits

Editors Note: You can read Margaret Swaine’s complete reviews by clicking on any of the highlighted names, bottle images or links. Paid subscribers to WineAlign see critic reviews immediately. Non-paid users wait 60 days to see newly posted reviews. Membership has its privileges; like first access to great spirits!


Advertisement

Glen Garioch Founders Reserve Highland Scotch Single Malt

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

@WineAlign

WineAlign Reviews

Coldstream Hills Pinot Noir 2008