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Final Blend : Towing the Line / Align

by Anthony Gismondi

Anthony Gismondi Portrait Colour_Cropped

Anthony Gismondi

If you’ve ever wondered what the ‘align’ in WineAlign means, think come together or line-up. Although in the case of us critics it is more likely a case of get them on the same page of the website. The process reminds me a bit of the chaos of Italy where 60 million people pulling in opposite directions results in Ferrari, Prada, Gucci, Benetton, Armani, Piedmont Barolo, Tuscan Chianti and much more. At WineAlign we boast an equal strength although I’m sure the people responsible for shepherding our content onto these pages think otherwise as in it’s like herding cats.

In short, we have the freedom to do whatever we want most days with the caveat from management that we let you know once in a while what we are up to. Sounds easy, but I can vouch for all of us it rarely is. All of which leads to this month’s column that begins with some important news about how we display our notes on the Critics’ Profile pages – just in case you haven’t already noticed.

Our old version was coded to display our highest scoring (and often highest priced) wines first, regardless of when the note was posted. We now display our notes by date reviewed. It is far more timely and interesting in my estimation. You can still search the entire site using the Google custom search in the upper right hand corner of any page, but the new design to these pages, including links to their recent articles and Twitter feed, allows you to see the diversity and strength of our critics and exactly what they are tasting at the moment.

Ridge Lytton Springs 2012 Nicosia Fondo Filara Etna Rosso 2010Now we know that John Szabo is writing a book on volcanic wine and appears to be completely consumed by the thought of tuff, a porous volcanic rock also called ‘tufa’, although one should be careful not to confuse calcareous tuffa with the porous volcanic rock whose parallel etymological origins can sometimes be called ‘tufa’. I’m sure John will get to the bottom of the volcano and we will all hear about it, endlessly, between flights at the upcoming WineAlign 2015 National Wine Awards of Canada in Niagara Falls. Sorry John – those are sedimentary rocks you can see from the tasting room in Niagara. Nicosia Fondo Filara 2010 Etna Rosso.

Meanwhile Bill Zacharkiw has been running around California escaping the snow and cold and his beloved Maple Leafs searching for the next, less-is-more wine from the Golden State. Bill’s mission is to convert every sugar-loving, new-barrel toting winemaker into an organic, terroir bleeding, soul-searching wine grower that is completely in touch with his land. Look for many new California selections to get Bill’s stamp of approval in the coming months. I for one love the way Bill has embraced the New World with an Old World eye and when the stars align, well, look out. Expect to see more of Bill’s impromptu videos on penguins, beaches and elephant seals and surfers in the days to come. Ridge 2012 Lytton Springs.

La Posta Pizzella Family Vineyard Malbec 2011

Zuccardi Series A Bonarda 2012David Lawrason has been practically living in South America for the last three months when he’s not busy with the Canadian chefs and the Canadian Olympic team where he devotes a great deal of time raising money for Gold Medal Plates, and at the same time, the reputation of Canadian wine. We recently spent a few days together in Argentina searching for the minerality and electricity that excites us. We found it in spades and will report back soon on all our discoveries. Zuccardi 2012 Series A Bonarda.

Earlier this month Sara d’Amato judged alongside Jancis Robinson and a large group of respected woman wine tasters at the Argentina Wine Awards. This travel goes unrecognized by most Canadians but it’s an important part of bringing a Canadian perspective to the international wine scene. We are in the game now and that helps everyone making wine in Canada. La Posta Pizzella Family Vineyard 2013 Malbec

The rise of our French-speaking Quebec team has brought an even wider perspective to WineAlign, or as we’re called in Quebec – Chacun son Vin. While it may seem like Two Solitudes sometimes as we discuss scoring systems, somehow on the tasting bench we seem to easily come together when we are talking wine. Nadia Fournier, Rémy Charest and Marc Chapleau have been invaluable additions to the WineAlign milieu. All have been instrumental in bringing a fresh perspective to the judging room at the National Wine Awards of Canada.

As you read this WineAlign Team West: Treve Ring, Rhys Pender and DJ Kearney will be working the 37th Vancouver International Wine Festival greeting a 55-strong Australian contingent hell-bent on getting Canadians to ‘Savour” the new Down Under. There won’t be any critter labels this time around and don’t expect to see any kangaroos in the room. There’s a new mantra Down Under and it has to do with regions, or to be even more specific: place.


Some of the exciting labels at VIWF from Australia TODAY

Australia TodayOne need only pick up a bottle of modern-day Australian wine to see where the country is heading. Australia’s new generation of winemakers are doing what they do best, adapt, and in doing so they are headed back to their vineyards. Where once they would not think twice about blending wines from hundreds of kilometres apart the new reality is all about uniqueness and to take what the land will give you.

It’s a philosophy that may not be so new to the French or the Italians who love their appellations but Down Under it’s a radical and much needed departure for many in the wine business. Today the emphasis is on regionality and smaller vineyards and as mentioned taking what the land will give you. The difference between a Barossa shiraz and a Coonawarra shiraz are day and night and they should be celebrated, not blended away into one big tank. We will all be looking for it. For me the joy of the show is tasting so many different wines in one room. I leave you with a short list of tasty bottles to look for at the festival, should you have a ticket, or to pick up at your local government wine shop.

Gérard Bertrand Saint Chinian Syrah Mourvèdre 2011 Teusner Avatar 2013  Zuccardi Tito 2011Yalumba The Menzies Cabernet Sauvignon 2008

Southern France superstar Gérard Bertrand will be pouring his St Chinian 2011 Syrah Mourvèdre while the new kids on the Barossa block at Teusner will be pouring their Teusner Avatar 2013 Grenache Mataro Shiraz. Sébastien Zuccardi honours his grandfather Tito with the Zuccardi Tito Zuccardi 2011 Malbec – Cabernet Sauvignon – Ancellotta while winemaker Peter Gambetta has sent his amazing Yalumba The Menzies 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon from Coonawarra.

It’s been a great week so far, and best of all we are free to step out of alignment to cover it for you from our point of view.

~ Anthony Gismondi closes out each month with his Final Blend column – an expert insight into wine culture and trends, honed by more than 25 years experience as an influential and global critic. Click here to visit his WineAlign profile page.


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Les Soirées Vins et Gastronomie de Maclean’s – Montréal – 24 mars

Vivez une expérience gastronomique unique et dégustez de grands vins australiens au restaurant Maison Boulud à Montréal, au cours d’une soirée organisée par Maclean’s où vous serez reçu par des sommeliers et des chefs hors pair.


Vous adorerez le somptueux repas de quatre services, chacun combiné à un grand vin australien. En compagnie de la sommelière Véronique Rivest et du chef de la Maison Boulud, Riccardo Bertolino, vous serez invité à découvrir les subtilités des accords auprès des experts.

Billet à prix courant – 149 $
Abonnés de Maclean’s et membres de Chacun Son Vin – 99 $

Achetez vos billets ici

Vero and Riccardo

Notez à votre agenda:

Date de la soirée : Mardi 24 mars 2015

Restaurant : Maison Boulud, Montréal (Ritz-Carlton Montréal, 1288 Rue Sherbrook Ouest, Montréal)

Cocktail : 18 h 30 à 19 h

Souper : 19 h à 22 h

149 $  + TPS/TVQ par personne
99 $  + TPS/TVQ pour les abonnés de Maclean’s et membres de Chacun Son Vin

Achetez vos billets ici

Les vins qui seront servis:

Penfolds Bin 389 Cabernet Sauvignon
Coldstream Hill Yarra Valley Pinot Noir 2012
Wolf Blass Gold Label Chardonnay 2013
Wynns Coonawarra Estate Black Label Cabernet Sauvignon 2012

*Note : Pour demander l’option végétarienne, veuillez communiquer avec la gestionnaire de l’événement à l’adresse Afin de vous offrir une expérience gastronomique de qualité supérieure, votre chef et votre sommelier élaborent le menu à l’avance avec grand soin. Aucune substitution ne sera donc possible.*

Mason Boulud – À Propos:

Chez Maison Boulud, nous vous proposons la cuisine d’un chef formé par la tradition française, mais aussi inspiré par des décennies passées à New York. Le menu de Daniel Boulud accompagne les saisons en côtoyant la richesse de fournisseurs Québécois. Vous trouverez des charcuteries Lyonnaises, des saveurs Méditerranéennes, même notre célèbre hamburger, ainsi que des plats crées uniquement pour Maison Boulud. Le résultat: une cuisine à la fois raffinée et contemporaine, mais aussi très personnelle et chaleureuse, préparée par notre Chef de Cuisine Riccardo Bertolino. Situé au Ritz-Carlton, le restaurant, bar et lounge et ses salons privés maintiennent leur propre identité, pleine de vitalité. Néanmoins, l’ambiance de la rue Sherbrooke reflète la renaissance du Ritz-Carlton et son importance au cœur de la vie Montréalaise. : La véranda adjacente à la salle à manger jouit d’une vue d’une vue splendide sur les célèbres jardins paysagés de l’Hôtel Ritz-Carlton. Le décor intérieur est constitué de riches matériaux naturels avec ses murs de verre coloré et ses fastueux tissus.

Maison Boulud

Achetez vos billets ici


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Buyers’ Guide to VINTAGES March 7th – Part One

South American Reds and Classic Whites
By John Szabo MS with notes from Sara d’Amato and David Lawrason

John Szabo, MS

John Szabo, MS

The main feature of the rather large March 7th VINTAGES release (135 products) is Tuscany, which David will lead next week. There are also mini-features on British Columbia, Kosher wines and St. Patrick’s Day (Irish Whiskey, naturally). But for this week we were drawn hors piste by a handful of compelling reds from South America, including a pair of Chilean wines that further bolster my case to consider this conservative country in a new light (See my January report entitled “Chile Into The Future”).

And considering that Sara d’Amato has just returned from judging the Argentina Wine Awards (the first wine awards judged by an all-female panel, to my knowledge) and additional travels around the country, and that David Lawrason is currently basking under the South American sun (on business, of course), the focus of this week’s report is not entirely whimsical.

As a bonus, Sara shares some still-vivid impressions from Argentina. We’ll also round out this week’s recommendations with the short list of top chardonnays and sauvignon blanc (and blends) from the March 7th lineup.

d’Amato on Argentina

An invitation to judge close to 700 wines at the Argentina Wine Awards with an all-star, all-female panel, followed by a cross-country discovery tour had me in the southern hemisphere for most of this month. A few very distilled thoughts on my experience:

1.     There is huge diversity of malbecs across the country. High elevations (where you’ll find the best) do not equate with cool, necessarily. Growers battle with the complications of high UV radiation, needing inventive canopy management to shade and protect their grapes, and specialized irrigation so that water does not immediately evaporate in the dry heat. What makes high elevation plantings special is the temperature difference between night and day – when the temperature drops six degrees per hour you can feel the night coming on, and can imagine the grapes shivering and almost feel the nervy tension being built in these wines. Most importantly, higher elevations offer soils with better drainage and low fertility (a good thing).

2.     Varieties other than malbec are on the rise. In fact, in a big surprise to all judges, none of the regional trophies this year were awarded to malbecs. Top prizes were awarded instead to bonarda, which is widely planted and has great potential to be the next “it” grape. Not only is bonarda easy to grow on the less “desirable” soils, it’s approachable, easy to drink and offers plenty of fruit and supple tannins. What else rocked my world: tannat, petit verdot, cabernet franc and sauvignon blanc. And although I can’t imagine finding a pure tannat from Argentina on our shelves any time soon, its dark and surprisingly supple fruity goodness, uniquely expressed in Argentina, is worth demanding. Sauvignon blanc and chardonnay, unlike their fresh expressions in neighboring Chile, offered both depth and ripeness that proved balanced and appealing.

If you find yourself in southern Ontario, the last of the Colomé Reserva Malbec from a previous VINTAGES release is a gem worth seeking out. To put this in perspective, the higher elevation plantings of the Uco Valley in Mendoza are around 3,000 – 4,000 feet in elevation. At Colomé, in the northern region of Salta in the Upper Calchaquí Valleys, the plantings are well over 3,000 meters making them the highest elevation vineyards on earth. This is a malbec that will make you rethink malbec.

Readily available across the province is the Alamos 2013 Malbec. Affordably priced, this distinctive, reliable and solid quality malbec is produced in the higher elevations of Mendoza in the esteemed region of Vistaflores. A textbook malbec, finely crafted and a great value. For an introduction to bonarda, you’ll see my note below for the Zuccardi 2012 Serie A – which is being release in VINTAGES on March 7th.

The result of the AWA’s can be found here: ~ Sara


VINTAGES March 7th Buyers Guide: South America

Emiliana 2012 Novas Gran Reserva Syrah-Mourvèdre, Cachapoal Valley (Colchagua Valley), Chile ($15.95)

Santa Carolina Specialties Dry Farming Carignan 2010 Emiliana Novas Gran Reserva Syrah Mourvèdre 2012John Szabo – Under the direction of César Morales Navia, the Novas line of organic wines from Emiliana is among the best values in South America. This syrah-mourvèdre blend is an excellent example of the shift to grapes that are better suited to parts of Chile (Mediterranean) than the maritime Bordeaux varieties that have dominated the scene since the 19th century. It’s stylish and rich, generously flavoured and long on the finish, far outperforming many competitors in the price category.
David Lawrason - Great value yet again from this leading producer of organic wines. It feels very much like a rather rustic Rhone but with more fruit exuberance. A lot of depth and life for $16. Very good to excellent length.

Santa Carolina 2010 Specialties Dry Farming Carignan, Cauquenes Valley (Maule Valley), Chile ($17.95)

John Szabo - The Santa Carolina Specialties range is another perfect example of even the very large, entrenched rear guard companies of Chile (Santa Carolina was established in 1875) looking to craft wines more representative of the country’s potential rather than the marketing department’s wishes. Led by Andrés Caballero, the Santa Carolina team has sought out new terroirs “where grapes are in perfect balance with soil and climate. These wines speak of forgotten varieties, dry lands and endless root systems, old vineyards and small scale farmers”, according to official sources. In my view, this is a terrific wine made from 80 year-old dry-farmed carignan vines in the Cauquenes Valley (Maule) in Southern Chile, a bit wild and rustic, but that’s the beauty of old carignan, like a characterful, wrinkled face that has seen the passage of a great many years. Enjoy with a rare-grilled, well-aged umami-rich, bone-in ribeye.

Cuvelier Los Andes 2009 Grand Malbec, Uco Valley, Mendoza, Argentina ($61.95)

John Szabo - Admittedly this is not the style of wine that I’m generally attracted to – the kind for which a fork and knife are as helpful as a glass – but this was so well done that it had to be mentioned. Fans of amarone and vintage port should line up for this 16.5% alcohol monster, a seriously dense and rich, ultra concentrated, smoky, wood-tinged, savoury red wine with massive structure and intensity. It would be hard to imagine stuffing more into a bottle of wine, or getting further in style from classic Bordeaux (from where the Cuvelier family hails and owns several château). This should also age magnificently.
David Lawrason - This 100% malbec is from one of the five French-owned estates in the magnificent desert compound in Vistaflores calles Clos de Los Siete.  Cuvelier is owned by Jean- Guy and Bertrand Cuvelier who are also the owners of Château Léoville- Poyferré and Château Le Crock in  Bordeaux. This is a very impressive, maturing rich, dense and elegant – very much in a French tone.

Zuccardi 2012 Serie A Bonarda, Santa Rosa, Mendoza, Argentina ($16.95)

Viña Tarapacá Gran Reserva Carmenère 2012 Zuccardi Serie A Bonarda 2012 Cuvelier Los Andes Grand Malbec 2009Sara d’Amato - Zuccardi is a true family affair and a big one that prides itself on innovation, finding unique sites and using cutting edge vinification.  The Serie A Bonarda is a great introduction to this seductive and ready-to-drink varietal that offers loads of fruit spice, gentle tannins and an impactful nature.
David Lawrason – The Zuccardi family has been growing bonarda in the eastern Santa Rosa region for decades, long before it became a trendy varietal. So they have a good supply of old vine stock. This nicely catches the fruity charm I am looking for from this grape – simple but exuberant, balanced and ready to drink.

Viña Tarapacá 2012 Gran Reserva Carmenère, Maipo Valley, Chile ($17.95)

David Lawrason - From a grand estate in middle Maipo this is a massive value in textbook carmenere!  The nose absolutely soars here with an up-draught of cassis, sappy evergreen, steak tartar and background oak. Powerful, deep and even for  carmenere lovers.

Buyer’s Guide March 7th: Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc (and blends)

Rodney Strong 2012 Chardonnay, Sonoma County, California, USA ($22.95)

Cave Des Grands Crus Blancs Mâcon Vinzelles 2013 Château De Cruzeau Blanc 2009 Rodney Strong Chardonnay 2012John Szabo – I’m quite sure this is the first wine from Rodney Strong that I’ve ever added to the recommended list, but this is a happy departure from the over-wooded and overly sweet cuvées of the past. I appreciate the freshness and subtlety on offer without sacrificing the ripe fruit you’d expect from Sonoma chardonnay. This is balanced and pleasurable drinking at the right price.

Château De Cruzeau Blanc 2009,  AC Pessac-Léognan, Bordeaux, France ($31.95)

John Szabo -  Each time I taste a wine of this quality I wonder why I don’t drink more great sauvignon-semillon blends. IN the context of all of the overpriced, oaky chardonnays of the world, this wine delivers terrific complexity and regional identity at an attractive price. ‘09 was, as you know, a ripe, highly celebrated vintage in Bordeaux and this is packed with flavor. Decant this before serving to maximize the enjoyment.

Cave Des Grands Crus Blancs 2013 Mâcon-Vinzelles, Burgundy, France ($17.95)

John Szabo - “We had a marvelous lunch from the hotel at Lyon, an excellent truffled roast chicken, delicious bread and white Macon wine.” I’m sure Hemingway was thinking of a wine like this when he wrote these words in A Moveable Feast, and no doubt actually drank several bottles of Mâcon with F. Scott Fitzgerald on picnics. This is simple but delicious country wine in the best sense, at a price that can only make upstart wineries with big loans to pay off cringe with envy.

M.Chapoutier Tournon 2013 Mathilda, Victoria, Australia ( $19.95)

Villa Maria Cellar Selection Sauvignon Blanc 2014 M.Chapoutier Tournon Mathilda 2013David Lawrason -  Although not specified on the label this is either wholly or in very large part made from viognier, the only white to my knowledge in this Rhone producer’s Australian portfolio. It makes sense as viognier too is a Rhone varietal. This is an intense, quite powerful white that rings with authenticity.

Villa Maria 2014 Cellar Selection Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough, New Zealand ($19.95)

David Lawrason - Marlborough is known for its very assertive sauvignons but there is a school going for less bombast and more compact structure. That is the book on Villa Maria in general as a matter of fact. This crisp, tart and mouth-watering with excellent focus and length, and an echo of wet stone on the finish.

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

Touring Tuscany & Piedmont

Consider joining me next October in Tuscany and Piedmont for an insider’s deluxe gastronomy tour via Indus Travel. Only fluffy, unlumpy pillows and high thread count sheets, plus daily diet of white truffles, cooking classes, 5-star relaxation and of course, plenty of wine tastings. It will be memorable. Details:

Tuscany and Barolo Tour with John Szabo MS

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

John Szabo, MS

John Szabo MS

From VINTAGES March 7, 2015:

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

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!

AdvertisementWynns Coonawarra Estate Black Label Cabernet Sauvignon

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20 under $20 for February

Monthly picks from our Quebec Critic Team

Ah yes, the end of the month. It’s the time when we pay for our excesses over the previous weeks. Well, fear not, this doesn’t mean that you still can’t drink well. Our four critics have chosen for you their favourite five under $20 wines that they have recently tasted. No cash? Still thirsty? No problem! Here is the February version of the 20 under $20.

Chacun son Vin Critic Team

Bill Zacharkiw’s picks

February is a short month, thankfully. So let’s bring out some interesting and aromatic whites as well as richer reds to battle against this nasty winter we’re having.

I recently tasted two whites with exuberant aromatics – floral and fruity – that made me think of Spring. From Australia, Hardy’s 2013 “The Gamble” is a unique blend of chardonnay and pinot gris, dry on the palate, beautifully aromatic, and is anything but a gamble at $17.

If you are like me, and a fan of German riesling’s blend of exuberant fruit and hyper minerality, the Monchhof’s 2013 Riesling is a superb entry-level wine from one of the Mosel’s top wineries.

Hardy's Chronicle 2 The Gamble Chardonnay Pinot Gris 2013 Mönchhof Mosel Qualitätswein Riesling 2013 Bonpas Grande Réserve Des Challières 2013 Norton Barrel Select Malbec 2012 Don Pascual Reserve Tannat 2013

But many of you are hunkering down and looking to warm the soul with some big reds. The wines of the Côtes du Rhône are known for their versatility, and the 2013 Grande Reserve des Challieres from Bonpas is just that. Bright fruit, good acidity and some decent tannin on the finish.

If you want a wine for some red meats, then look to South America for that mix of torque and value. Norton’s 2012 Malbec offers up great depth with loads of flavour. In a similar vein, but with even more complexity, the 2013 Don Pascual Reserve Tannat is an excellent option at a very easy to swallow price.

Remy Charest’s selections

White wine sales have been going up steadily at the SAQ these last few years, and I seem to be contributing personally to that trend. This month three of my five monthly picks are whites, even in this persistently cold weather.

It might be in part because of the heartwarming, sunny wines I’ve been stumbling onto, like the Domaine de Fenouillet 2013 Hautes Combes Faugères, round and flavourful, as you’d expect from a Languedoc white. It’ll make anyone happy in any season, whether with a wintery veal stew or a summery grilled fish. Same thing with the succulent and energetic Gaba do Xil 2013 Godello from Telmo Rodriguez. If you think Spain only delivers big reds, time for a refresher – literally and figuratively.

Domaine Fenouillet Hautes Combes Faugères 2013 Telmo Rodríguez Gaba Do Xil Godello 2013 Domaine Henri Naudin Ferrand Bourgogne Aligoté 2013 Fattoria Carpineta Fontalpino Colli Senesi Chianti 2013 Teliani Valley Saperavi 2011

Meanwhile, my ongoing quest for the best that aligoté can deliver has led me to the newly arrived 2013 vintage of the Domaine Henri Naudin-Ferrand Bourgoge Aligoté, which is quickly becoming my favourite. With such a great balance of freshness, minerality and weight on the palate, it has me smiling with every sip.

On the redder side of things, your mid-week bowl of pasta will be made all the more bright and enjoyable by a glass of fresh and lively sangiovese like the Fontalpino 2013 Chianti Colli Senesi by Fattoria Carpineta. And if you want to step away from the beaten path, try the Teliani Valley 2011 Saperavi, with its lovely red fruit and herbs. It’s a pleasant, modern version of a really ancient native grape from Georgia, one of the birthplaces of winemaking, thousands of years ago.

Marc Chapleau’s picks

Let’s start with a duo of Languedoc wines, and a little taste of heat that we all need right now.

The Languedoc wines in question are the white and red, 3 Grappes 2013 Domaine de la Chevalière.

The white covers the spectrum, showing a certain power, interesting aromatics and a solid acidity. The red is all fruit, without being at all candied. While not particularly powerful, it shows admirable freshness and has a touch more complexity with a delicate peppery finish. All for under $13.

Right next door in the Roussillon, the Mas las Cabes 2012 from Domaine Jean Gardiès. Shows the generosity of the south. Purple, with aromatics boosted by a touch of volatile acidity and finely honed tannins. At just over $18, an excellent purchase.

Domaine Laroche De La Chevalière 3 Grappes Blanches 2013 Domaine Laroche De La Chevalière 3 Grappes Rouges 2013 Mas Las Cabes Côtes Du Roussillon 2012 Colonia Las Liebres Bonarda 2013 Christian Moueix Merlot 2010

Let’s take a giant’s leap towards the southern hemisphere and Argentina and the Colonia Las Liebres 2013 Bonarda from Altos las Hormigas. A delicious red made with the relatively rare grape, bonarda, which has its origins in Italy’s Piedmont region. The wine is reminiscent of a quality Loire cabernet franc, just a little richer. And the price? Under $15.

For my final recommendation, back to Europe and to a wine that always shows great value, the Christian Moueix Merlot. An entry level red Bordeaux that always delivers, and the 2010 is as good as ever. Power and depth. Love it!

Nadia Fournier’s selections

Typical of the 2011 vintage, the Domaine Cazes Marie-Gabrielle is a very good red Roussillon where a touch of carbon dioxide left in the wine brings extra freshness as well as boosting the aromas of raspberry and dried herbs. The wine is quite open and ready to drink.

An excellent red from one of the Languedoc’s less known appellations, Faugères, is the Domaine de Fenouillet 2012 Combe Rouge with its notes of raspberry confit and garrigue. It is very clean and fresh, and so highly drinkable. Hard to find a more satisfying wine under $20.

Also at a very attractive price, the Bodegas Moraza 2013 Tinto Joven is a certified organic Rioja which is very seductive with its youthful fruit, as its name indicates (Joven means young is Spanish).

Domaine Cazes Marie Gabrielle 2011 Domaine De Fenouillet Combe Rouge Faugères 2012 Bodegas Moraza Tinto Joven 2013 Pala I Fiori Nuragus 2013 Pieropan Soave Classico 2013

The Pala I Fiori 2013 Nuragus di Cagliari is a very good white wine made with nuragus, a white grape from Sardinia whose origins date back to the time when the Phoenicians highly reputed for the quality of their white wines. Very satisfying for the price.

And finally, a classic amongst classics, to discover or rediscover for apero hour. The Pieropan 2013 Soave is fully in the spirit of the family style that they have had since establishing themselves in this classic region during the 19th Century.

Cheers !

The complete list: 20 under $20

Editors Note: You can find complete critic reviews by clicking on any of the highlighted wine names, bottle images or links. Paid subscribers to Chacun son vin 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!

Gabbiano - Take me to Tuscany

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20 bons vins à moins de 20$ pour février

Les choix de notre équipe du Québec

C’est bien beau, les bouteilles dispendieuses qui font vibrer d’émotion, mais au jour le jour, avec tous les autres comptes à payer par ailleurs, on a la plupart du temps envie de se faire plaisir avec de bons vins pas trop chers. Ça tombe bien ! À chaque fin de mois, nos chroniqueurs vous suggèrent 20 bonnes affaires à moins de 20 $ parmi les bouteilles qu’ils ont goûtées récemment. Santé !


Les choix de Marc Chapleau

Un duo en provenance du Languedoc, pour commencer. Et un peu de chaleur alors qu’on en a bien besoin.

Il s’agit des deux 3 Grappes 2013 Domaine de la Chevalière, en blanc et en rouge.

Le blanc est à la fois corsé, aromatique et nerveux, tandis que le rouge est très sur le fruit, comme on dit, sans être « bonbon ». Ce dernier n’est par ailleurs pas si corsé, finalement, il est rafraîchissant et rehaussé par une finale agréablement poivrée. À moins de 13 $ chacun, une affaire !

On reste tout près, dans le Roussillon, avec le Mas las Cabes 2012 Domaine Jean Gardiès. Violacé, généreux, avec une pointe d’acidité volatile et des tannins serrés. À un peu plus de 18 $, un excellent achat.

Domaine Laroche De La Chevalière 3 Grappes Blanches 2013 Domaine Laroche De La Chevalière 3 Grappes Rouges 2013 Mas Las Cabes Côtes Du Roussillon 2012 Colonia Las Liebres Bonarda 2013 Christian Moueix Merlot 2010

Un pas de géant, maintenant, vers le grand Sud et jusqu’en Argentine avec le Colonia Las Leibres 2013 Bonarda de Altos las Hormigas. Un délicieux rouge argentin élaboré avec un cépage relativement rare et d’origine piémontaise. Le vin ressemble à un bon cabernet franc de la Loire, en plus généreux et plus riche. Le prix ? Moins de 15 $ !

Retour vers l’Europe et vers une bonne vieille valeur sûre : le Merlot 2010 Christian Moueix. Un bordeaux rouge d’entrée de gamme meilleur que jamais dans cette livrée 2010, corsé et profond, et avec du tonus. On aime !

Les choix de Bill Zacharkiw

Heureusement, février est le mois le plus court. N’empêche qu’on a encore besoin de blancs aromatiques et de rouges assez riches, pour composer avec cet hiver qui n’en finit plus.

J’ai récemment goûté deux blancs exubérants, floraux et fruités, qui m’ont fait penser au printemps. D’Australie, le Hardy “The Gamble”, qui associe le chardonnay et le pinot gris, est bien sec et superbement aromatique. Franchement, à 17 $, difficile d’y résister !

Hardy's Chronicle 2 The Gamble Chardonnay Pinot Gris 2013 Mönchhof Mosel Qualitätswein Riesling 2013 Bonpas Grande Réserve Des Challières 2013 Norton Barrel Select Malbec 2012 Don Pascual Reserve Tannat 2013

Si vous êtes comme moi un grand amateur de riesling allemand au fruité intense et à la minéralité marquée, le Monchhof 2013 Riesling, vin d’entrée de gamme d’un des plus réputés domaines de Moselle, constitue une véritable affaire.

Cela dit, je sais que plusieurs meurent plutôt d’envie ces jours-ci de se réchauffer l’âme avec un rouge généreux. Les côtes-du-rhône sont alors tout désignés, et notamment le 2013 Grande Réserve des Challiers de Bonpas : une bonne masse de fruit, acidité notable et une finale agréablement tannique.

Autres bons candidats pour accompagner les viandes rouges, les vins d’Amérique du Sud, à la fois toniques et relativement bon marché. Le Norton 2012 Malbec, par exemple, a de la profondeur et il est très savoureux. Dans le même style, en un peu plus complexe, le 2013 Tannat  Don Pascual offre tout ce que l’on recherche, à très bon prix.

Les choix de Rémy Charest

Les ventes de vin blanc sont en hausse depuis plusieurs années, à la SAQ, une tendance lourde à laquelle je semble contribuer personnellement : en effet, trois de mes choix du mois, malgré le froid, sont des blancs.

Évidemment, ça peut être des blancs ensoleillés, qui réchauffent tout autant qu’un rouge costaud et mûr. Par exemple, le très beau Faugères blanc Hautes Combes du Domaine de Fenouillet, avec sa rondeur en bouche et ses saveurs expressives typiques des blancs du sud de la France, a de quoi faire plaisir en toute saison, sur une blanquette de veau aussi bien qu’un poisson grillé. Même chose pour le Godello Gaba Do Xil, de l’excellent Telmo Rodriguez, succulent et énergique : si vous pensez que l’Espagne, c’est seulement des rouges puissants, voici l’occasion de vous rafraîchir les idées – et le palais !

Domaine Fenouillet Hautes Combes Faugères 2013 Telmo Rodríguez Gaba Do Xil Godello 2013 Domaine Henri Naudin Ferrand Bourgogne Aligoté 2013 Fattoria Carpineta Fontalpino Colli Senesi Chianti 2013 Teliani Valley Saperavi 2011

De plus, ma quête constante des meilleurs aligotés se poursuit, et j’ai retrouvé avec bonheur, sur un nouveau millésime (2013), celui qui devient clairement mon préféré, soit le Bourgogne aligoté du domaine Henri Naudin-Ferrand. Quand un vin s’équilibre aussi bien, en fraîcheur, en minéralité et en rondeur, ça me met un vrai beau sourire aux lèvres.

Côté rouge, le petit plat de pâtes du milieu de semaine sera bien mis en lumière par un sangiovese frais, fruité et fringant comme le Fontalpino de la maison Carpineta, issu des environs de Sienne (appellation Chianti Colli Senesi). Et pour vous dépayser solidement, pourquoi ne pas découvrir les beaux fruits rouges et les notes de fines herbes délicieuses du Saperavi Teliani Valley, agréable version moderne d’un cépage indigène de la Géorgie, un des plus anciens lieux de production de vin de la planète.

Les choix de Nadia Fournier

Domaine Cazes, Marie-Gabrielle 2011, Côtes du Roussillon
: Assez typé du millésime 2011, un très bon vin du Roussillon auquel un léger reste gaz apporte un tonus appréciable et rehausse les saveurs de framboise et d’herbes séchées. Assez ouvert pour être apprécié dès maintenant.

Domaine de Fenouillet, Combe Rouge 2012, Faugères
: Très bon Faugères aux goûts de framboise confites et de garrigue. Très digeste et on ne peut plus satisfaisant à moins de 20 $.

Bodegas Moraza, Tinto Joven 2013, Rioja: 
À un prix attrayant, ce rioja issu de l’agriculture biologique séduit avant tout par son caractère juvénile, comme l’indique son nom. Joven signifiant jeune en espagnol.

Domaine Cazes Marie Gabrielle 2011 Domaine De Fenouillet Combe Rouge Faugères 2012 Bodegas Moraza Tinto Joven 2013 Pala I Fiori Nuragus 2013 Pieropan Soave Classico 2013

Pala I Fiori, Nuragus di Cagliari 2013: 
Bon vin blanc composé de nuragus, un cépage blanc de Sardaigne dont les origines remontent au temps des colonies phéniciennes et jadis réputé pour donner des vins blancs modestes. Tout à fait satisfaisant à ce prix.

Pieropan, Soave Classico 2013
: Enfin, un classique d’entre les classiques, à découvrir ou redécouvrir à l’heure de l’apéritif. Le 2013 est tout à fait dans l’esprit des vins blancs de la famille Pieropan, établie à Soave depuis le 19esiècle.


La liste complète : 20 bons vins à moins de 20$

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!


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La guéguerre entre la bière et le vin

Hors des sentiers battus
par Marc Chapleau

Marc Chapleau

Marc Chapleau

Dans le coin gauche, les amateurs de bière. Dans le droit, les mordus de vin. Malgré des rapprochements évidents ces dernières années, le fossé demeure. Les uns sont jaloux, tandis que les autres sont déjà pas mal snobs, par bouts…

Je discute de ça aujourd’hui après avoir entendu la semaine dernière un reportage à l’émission Bien dans son assiette, à Radio-Canada. On y parlait d’un dépanneur, à l’Ange-Gardien, en Montérégie, qui a deux celliers où ils font vieillir toutes sortes de bières.

Jamais, à mes débuts comme chroniqueur, on n’aurait imaginé que les bières puissent se bonifier à plus ou moins long terme, comme du vin — sauf exception et notamment les « grands crus » des trappistes belges de Chimay.

J’étais au Voir à l’époque. Ma chronique hebdomadaire s’appelait « Bières et vins ». J’y parlais surtout de ces derniers, mais quand même, une fois sur cinq environ, je consacrais mon papier à la bière et notamment à nos microbrasseries alors naissantes. (Salut, Peter McAuslan et Jérome Denys !)

Je n’étais pas un expert ès houblon, et je n’en suis toujours pas un. Mais j’aimais et j’aime encore beaucoup.

La seule chose qui me désolait et me désole toujours, c’est de voir que bien des amateurs de bière, des passionnés j’entends, souffrent encore d’un complexe d’infériorité par rapport au vin.

Beer vs wine

Et à l’inverse, beaucoup d’accros au vin font preuve de condescendance face à la bière, qu’ils n’estiment bonne que si elle désaltère et si elle n’est pas trop goûteuse… Genre dans l’escalier, l’été, après un déménagement et avec de la pizza.

Et pourtant.

Sur le plan aromatique et gustatif, le monde de la bière est plus complexe que celui du vin. Étant donné qu’elle est souvent additionnée de divers ingrédients parfois insolites, elle livre en effet un vaste éventail d’odeurs et de goûts, dont on n’arrive d’autant pas à faire le tour qu’il sort de nouvelles cuvées à une vitesse incroyable — quasi chaque semaine, juste ici au Québec.

Tandis que le vin doit pour beaucoup son attrait et son aura à sa complexité davantage d’ordre géophysique – le climat, le sol, la topographie, le drainage, etc. Il séduit, aussi, parce que certaines bouteilles, ouvertes après 20, 30 voire 50 ans, peuvent être encore d’une insolente jeunesse.

Recracher ou ne pas recracher

Autre grande différence entre les deux mondes, les moeurs, les us et coutumes…

Ainsi, exemple, j’ai organisé jusqu’ici, notamment pour le magazine Protégez-Vous, quantité de bancs d’essai sur le vin et aussi plusieurs sur la bière.

Pour ces derniers, nous avons réuni des sommités du milieu brassicole qui ont évalué les divers produits de manière on ne peut plus professionnelle.

À cette nuance près : nos amis « bièrologues » (sic) ne recrachent pas, même s’ils ont à goûter jusqu’à une trentaine de bières en moins de deux heures. Nous avions pourtant scrupuleusement mis un crachoir à la disposition de chaque dégustateur.

Certes, les taux d’alcool sont moins élevés que dans le vin, mais quand même, les 6 % et 7 % sont de moins en moins rares, surtout avec les IPA et les Double voire Triple IPA avec des IBU d’enfer.

Mais au fond, en dedans de moi, je savais dès le départ qu’ils n’allaient pas cracher…

C’est culturel.


Ça ne cadre pas, pour eux, avec le caractère convivial de la bière. Ça fait aussi moins prétentieux — cela, ils ne le disent pas, c’est moi qui l’infère. Mais un des juges, une fois, s’en est ouvert à moi après coup, la dégustation terminée.  Il avait goûté à ma médecine, pour ainsi dire, et l’exercice s’était de fait déroulé de manière très rigoureuse, très clinique.

« Bizarre de goûter comme ça, dans le silence le plus total », lâche-t-il après que je lui eus demandé comment il avait aimé l’expérience. « Je croyais que le monde du vin était plus jojo que ça… Dieu que vous êtes sérieux ! »

Hmm… bibi est peut-être pudique à ses heures, certes, mais je connais dans le milieu une flopée de très très joyeux lurons. Et non, ça me tente, mais je ne donnerai pas de noms.

Par ailleurs, tout différents se disent-ils des amateurs de vin, les mordus de bière poussent très fort pour faire valoir les accords à table, tenant mordicus à montrer que les bières sont à cet égard aussi bonnes, aussi « performantes », que les vins. Alors que le sujet, soit dit entre nous, a tendance à se ringardiser.

Enfin, consolation, s’il est un domaine où houblon, malt, levure et cie dament royalement le pion au vin, c’est bien en matière de production nationale, les meilleures broues produites ici au Québec étant de classe mondiale. Alors que nos vins, sauf ceux de glace, n’y sont pas encore, dans l’ensemble.

Résultat des courses : on peut parler d’un match nul, entre la bière et le vin. Que tout le monde dépose les armes et s’embrasse.

Nous sommes tous frères.


À boire, aubergiste !

Une fois n’est pas coutume, et puisque nous nous intéressons essentiellement sur Chacun son Vin aux produits vendus à la SAQ, voici ma playlist de bières à découvrir ou redécouvrir, parmi celles qu’on trouve assez régulièrement dans les magasins du monopole.

Notez que je n’ai pas encore commenté sur notre site la grande majorité des bières suggérées, sauf la Cuvée des Trolls.

De Belgique

* Silly Scotch Ale

* Duvel

* Orval

* Chimay toutes couleurs et tous formats

* La Duchesse de Bourgogne (sucrée un peu mais quand même)

* La Cuvée des Trolls Brasserie Dubuisson

* Rochefort Trappistes 10 et Trappistes 8

* Mort Subite Kriek Cerise et Framboise (même si faciles et doucereuses)


* Young’s Double Chocolate Stout

* Samuel Smith Nut Brown Ale

* Fuller’s London Pride Ale


* L’Alchimiste Pale Ale (Joliette)

* Simple Malt Cascade Pale Ale américaine (Montréal)

* Rauchbier Marzen (Allemagne, goût fumé prononcé)

* Samichlaus (Autriche, bière à 14 % d’alcool, presque du vin, pour la curiosité.)

Santé !

Et n’oubliez pas d’avaler.


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 !

Gabbiano NL


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British Columbia Critics’ Picks February 2015

A Special VIWF Edition

Our monthly BC Critics’ Picks 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. Don’t despair if WineAlign is not showing inventory. Some wines mentioned are only available in the BC Liquor Store at the Vancouver International Wine Festival Feb. 26-28, 2015. Others can be found at your favourite private wine shop.

It’s the week of the Vancouver International Wine Festival, and our BC critics have selected their top three recommended wines not to miss.

Cheers ~ TR

BC Team Version 3

Anthony Gismondi

It’s wine festival month in Vancouver and hard to believe it is year 37. I have attended them all in some fashion and written about most of them but I never really get tired of entering the international festival tasting room where hundreds of wines are poured daily for the trade and public. Each year I rate the best booths at the festival, ahead time, based on the wines that will be poured and the principal who will pour them. It is hardly an exact science and it’s not an indictment of the other wineries attending just a personal opinion based on, well, 37 years of experience.

Wynns Coonawarra Estate Black Label Cabernet Sauvignon 2012Zuccardi Tito 2011Yalumba The Octavius Old Vine Shiraz 2008My top three wines you shouldn’t miss in 2015 are:  Yalumba The Octavius, Familia Zuccardi Tito Zuccardi, and Wynns Coonawarra Black Label Cabernet Sauvignon.

Yalumba’s 2008 The Octavius is old vine shiraz sourced from Barossa and Eden Valleys, and is a powerful, rich, ripe and smooth flagship wine that was built to last. Yalumba’s global communicator and storyteller, Jane Ferrari, will be on hand throughout the week.

Familia Zuccardi 2011 Tito Zuccardi is Sebastian Zuccardi’s tribute to his grandfather Alberto, or Tito as he was known, and is a delicious mix of new and old grapes (malbec, cabernet sauvignon and ancellotta).

Finally vine star Sue Hodder will pour her amazing Wynns Black Label 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon, a wine she has guided into the future with rich textures, moderate alcohol and plenty of fruit.

See you inside the tasting room.

DJ Kearney

I’ve just returned from a fast and furious week in South Australia and have nothing but Aussie wines in my heart and mind now… also a couple of new pairs of R.M Williams jeans on my legs too! Diversity and sheer joy of drinking is what we have in store for us as some of the biggest wine personalities in the world are coming to party with us in the last week of February.

Penfolds St. Henri Shiraz 2010Thorn Clarke Shotfire Quartage 2012Devil's Lair Chardonnay 2012I’ll be tasting as much as I can, but will not miss three favourites. Devil’s Lair in cool and breezy Western Australia make luxuriant oaked chardonnay, and you’ll find the 2012 Margaret River Chardonnay incarnation full of richness and finesse. It’s an emphatic reminder that chardonnay with a restrained embrace of oak is one of life’s great, great pleasures.

A wine that shows the cooler side of the Barossa Valley is the Shotfire Quartage 2012, from Thorn-Clarke. The wondrous 2012 vintage gives extra dimension and vinosity to one of the most consistent and lovely Bordeaux blends ever, at this price.

Finally – there will be a massive crowd around the Penfolds table, to taste the epic wines of course, but also to hang with DLynn Proctor, who won our hearts in SOMM, the 2012 movie that cast a vivid spotlight on a few characters in pursuit of the Master Sommelier pin.

Now Penfolds Winemaking Ambassador, he’s a smooth guy to listen to as you sip the glorious 2010 St. Henri. It is astonishing, and the $65 price is too-good-to-be-true. (For more from the world of Oz, check out my recent article: Oceans, Altitudes and Attitudes)

Rhys Pender MW

Vancouver Wine Festival is always a treasure trove of interesting wines. I recommend looking through the list and honing in on those wines that you can’t normally buy or taste. From the theme country Australia, look for Semillon young and old, Riesling, Coonawarra Cabernet and wines from some of the cooler re-emerging regions. There is much to learn about Australia.

Black Hills Nota Bene 2012Barossa Valley Estate Ebenezer Shiraz 2007Jansz Premium CuvéeOne wine style that few know about Australia is its sparkling wine. Tasmanian winery Jansz will be on hand and those in the trade should get a chance to try the Jansz Premium Cuvée N/V. Freshness, balance, acidity, excellent.

I’m looking forward to trying the 2010 vintage from Barossa Valley Estate’s Ebenezer Shiraz. There has been some 2007 kicking around in BC that was excellent value.

For a non-Australia wine, this festival might also be the first chance for many to try the Black Hills 2012 Nota Bene. After too very cool vintages in 2010 and 2011, this vintage finally shows all the work winemaker Graham Pierce and team have been doing.

Make sure to do a bit of research online before heading in to the festival tasting room and hit those interesting wines first. See you at the festival!

Treve Ring

Gonzalez Byass Noe Pedro Ximenez Aged 30 YearsSt. Urbans Hof Ockfener Bockstein Riesling Kabinett 2011D'arenberg The Dead Arm Shiraz 2009I trust you’ll be spending a lot of time in the Australia section (Treve’s Travels Part I and Part II may be added incentive). Be sure not to miss d’Arenberg 2011 The Dead Arm Shiraz, an iconic McLaren vale wine made in very small amounts due to the fact that the aged vine has been affected by ‘Dead Arm Disease’ and can only eke grapes out of one trunk. I have tasted the 2009, so looking forward to this new-to-shores release. Rarified and special.

Don’t forget about amazing wines from the rest of the world. I’m looking forward to trying the Weingut St. Urbans-Hof 2012 Riesling Ockfener Bockstein Kabinett. The 2011 vintage was exciting and intense, proving that low alcohol wines (8%) can be satisfying in their doe-nimble lightness.

And finish off with an exceptional example of one of the richest, most intense and rare sherries you’ve probably come across. Gonzales Byass Noe Pedro Ximénez is designated a VORS (Very Old Rare Sherry) with an average age of 30 years, staggering concentration, alluring sweetness and depth of flavour that you’ll be tasting as you head off (safely on transit / designated driver) from the tasting floor.

WineAlign in BC

In addition to our monthly Critics’ Picks report, we also publish the popular shortlist 20 Under $20, as well as the BC Wine Report, a look at all things in the BC Wine Industry. Lastly, Anthony Gismondi closes out each month with his Final Blend column – an expert insight into wine culture and trends, honed by more than 25 years experience as an influential and global critic.

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


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Margaret Swaine’s Spirits Review – February

250 Years of the Finest Cognac
By Margaret Swaine

Margaret Swaine

Margaret Swaine

The world’s most popular cognac house is celebrating its 250 anniversary this year. Expect to see a lot of deserved hoopla around Hennessy over the next months as the maison embarks on “The Hennessy 250 Tour” around the world following the footsteps of the Grand Tours the family has made through the centuries. Along with the travelling exhibit comes the launch of a new collector’s blend.

The patriarch and founder, Richard Hennessy, an Irish man of minor nobility, after fighting in the army of King Louis XV settled in Cognac and created the Hennessy trading company in 1765. Jean Fillioux joined forces with the Hennessy family becoming chief cooper in 1806. His son Christophe later became master blender for the Hennessy brand.

The connection of the Hennessy and Fillioux families has remarkably continued to present day. Eight generation Maurice Richard Hennessy is brand Ambassador for Hennessy (the cognac house is part of LVMH – Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy – today) and Yann Fillioux is Master Blender.

Yann is responsible for the creation of Richard Hennessy, Paradis Impérial and now Hennessy 250 Collector Blend. Not yet in Canada, shipping across the globe is expected to begin in April. I had a sneak preview at Château de Bagnolet, a magnificent 1810 house on the banks of the Charente.

Hennessy 250 Collector Blend

Fillioux and his team have been working on this special blend since 2010. In the spirit of the 250 anniversary, 250 barrels each holding 250 litres have been produced, from which the house will release 60,000 bottles for around 450 Euros each.

At Château de Bagnolet the cognac was paired with appetizers that brought out its notes of saffron, nutmeg, bitter orange, salted caramel and florals (e.g. scallops with saffron sauce or maki roll with cilantro). I don’t have ‘pro’ tasting notes as it was a stand up cocktail situation, but I can tell you that the spirit was so appealing that most of us kept wanting more.

“For the 250 birthday, we’re spending energy saying we are like trees,” said Maurice Hennessy. “We have 250 year old roots but want to grow to the sky. We have the stock to do much; warehouses full of aged cognacs.”

Hennessy creates its cognacs from the four “premier grand cru” winegrowing areas of Cognac; namely the Grande Champagne, Petite Champagne, Borderies and Fins Bois. (The grape ugni blanc accounts for 95% of the AOC Cognac.) The company works with some 1,500 independent grape growers, 560 bouilleur de cru (growers who distill their own product) and 20 distillers in the region and has three distilleries that they own.

Fillioux and his tasting committee meet every workday morning to taste through cognac eaux-de-vie to decide which samples to accept or reject and the potential of the spirit – therefore which barrels to put it into – older or new.

Their cognac is always matured in Limousin type barrels made at their own cooperage, La Sarrazine, where barrels are hand assembled on location. Because wood is such an important part of the flavour of cognac (think of the long ageing in barrel) Hennessy tightly controls their wood supply, using only oak from sustainably managed forests in the Limousin region from 100 to 150 year old trees. The cut wood is aged outdoors for several years before use.

About 15,000 to 20,000 new barrels go into use each year. The rest of the cognac slumbers in older barrels.

Hennessy V S O P Cognac Hennessy Black Cognac Hennessy V S CognacOf the approximately 200 cognac producers, four dominate and of those Hennessy is the biggest in sales and value worldwide. Hennessy VS Cognac, the America’s best-selling cognac is aged from two up to eight years in oak and is a blend of up to 40 different batches.

Hennessy Black contrary to its name is one of the lightest coloured cognacs in the range aged entirely in seasoned barrels (no new oak ones). Hennessy VSOP first created in 1817 by Jean Fillioux, is a blend of eaux-de-vie that’s four to 15 years old that’s sweet and gentle on the palate.

I have a true fondness for Hennessy X.O. as the cognac I purchased whenever I wanted to really treat myself even when I was a struggling student. Hennessy X.O. created in 1870 was the only XO on the market for its first 100 years. The company has always insisted on a minimum age of 10 years for their XO and has pushed the Bureau National Interprofessionnel du Cognac (BNIC) to make this the case for all. In 2018 the ten year minimum age rule will be in force.

Paradis was created in 1979 by Maurice Fillioux when Hennessy was asked for an “ultra-prestige” cognac higher in quality than XO. This bliss in a bottle has been sold in Canada but I haven’t found any lately. (Check with Agent Charton Hobbs for availability in BC & Saskatchewan)

Hennessy X.O. CognacHennessy ParadisHennessy Paradis Impérial

Paradis Impérial which I consider the most sophisticated and elegant (can I say feminine?) of all can be found in several provinces. It’s a blend created by Yann Fillioux in 2010 out of 35 to 130 year old cognacs matured in seasoned old barrels. Only one out of 1000 is good enough to get in these bottles. The original blend was created at the request of the Imperial Court of Russia in 1818 by the Empress. Fillioux pays tribute to this first commission, nearly 200 years later.

Richard HennessyWonderfully masculine Richard Hennessy created in 1996 to honour the founder is on the other end of the spectrum: robust, full and bold. Both are ultimate taste experiences well worth the price should you be flush enough to afford a bottle or an ounce.

For those of us with more modest wallets, the Hennessy VS and Meukow VS fit the bill. Meukow VS Cognac in an attractive black panther decorated bottle, is rich and full bodied with powerful depth. So too do two exceptionally value-priced products made by women cellar masters at other producers.

Gautier VS Cognac from one of the oldest Cognac houses established in 1755, is gently oaky, harmonious and mellow (created by cellar master Isabelle Couprie).

The latest creation of cellar master Mrs. Martine Pain at St-Rémy is St-Rémy Small Batch Reserve, which while not a Cognac (the wines come from other regions) is a mighty fine brandy. Aged for more than six years in small oak barrels, it’s flavourful and fleshy with caramel apple sweetness.

Meukow V.S. Cognac Cognac Gautier V.S. St Rémy Small Batch Reserve Brandy

Here’s to putting a little celebration into your glass.

Margaret Swaine

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

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


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Cellier : le nouvel arrivage du 19 février

Il y a du nouveau, sur Chacun son Vin ! Nos membres Privilège bénéficient d’un accès immédiat et exclusif aux commentaires de dégustation liés aux nouveaux arrivages Cellier.

Chaque fois que la SAQ mettra en vente ces vins spéciaux, vous n’aurez sur notre site qu’à cliquer sur l’onglet «Vin» puis sur «Nouvel arrivage Cellier», dans le menu déroulant. Aussi simple que cela !

Cet accès exclusif, ainsi que la possibilité de lire dès leur publication tous les commentaires de dégustation publiés sur Chacun son Vin, est offert à nos membres Privilège pour la modique somme de 40 $ par année. (Pour leur part, les membres inscrits bénéficiant d’un accès gratuit doivent attendre 60 jours avant de pouvoir accéder à tout notre contenu.)

En ce début de février, Nadia Fournier nous recommande, justement, de belles bouteilles qu’elle a pu déguster parmi le tout dernier nouvel arrivage Cellier. Elle nous emmène notamment aux Îles Canaries… 

Suivez le guide !


Les Choix de Nadia
par Nadia Fournier

Nadia Fournier - New - Cropped

Nadia Fournier

Ce mois-ci, ce n’est pas moi qui ai « Soif d’ailleurs », mais tous les vignerons Québécois expatriés auxquels la SAQ a décidé de faire honneur dans le dernier numéro du magazine Cellier. Une bonne idée, puisqu’ils sont de plus en plus nombreux à tenter l’aventure viticole, ici ou ailleurs.

Entre autres vignerons cités dans l’article qui leur est consacré, soulignons Pascal Marchand et Patrick Piuze, tous deux établis en Bourgogne, ainsi que Thomas Bachelder (Bourgogne, Niagara et Orégon), Francesco Bellini (Marches italiennes), puis Alain Rochard et Laurent Farre (Languedoc), dont les vins ont été commentés il y a deux semaines, lors du premier arrivage Cellier.

Parmi la quinzaine de vins mis en marché ce matin, deux cuvées californiennes élaborées par Patrice Breton. En 2001, cinq ans après avoir créé Mediagrif (une firme spécialisée dans le commerce électronique), cet entrepreneur a quitté son poste de direction et troqué le monde des technologies pour la vigne. Après quelques années à parfaire ses connaissances viticoles et à parcourir la Californie à la recherche de parcelles, il a signé son premier millésime en 2003.

J’avoue avoir peu d’atomes crochus avec la corpulence de son Proprietary Red 2013, mais j’ai bien apprécié la vinosité et la tenue en bouche du Chardonnay 2013 Apriori, tout à fait recommandable à moins de 20 $.

On voudra aussi retenir le vin du Domaine Queylus, à Niagara. Propriété d’un regroupement d’investisseurs québécois – dont Champlain Charest, du déjà regretté Bistro à Champlain – qui ont confié les vinifications au Montréalais Thomas Bachelder. Le vignoble est conduit en agriculture biologique et est la source, entre autres, d’un bon Pinot noir 2012 de facture moderne, qu’on pourra laisser reposer en cave jusqu’en 2018.

Patricio Brongo (anciennement chez Cryomalus) s’est pour sa part lié à la famille Moraza dès 2013, dans la région de la Rioja. Aujourd’hui, il assiste sa conjointe dans le travail à la vigne et représente les vins de la Bodega Moraza au Québec. À prix doux, le Tinto Joven 2013 est un bon Rioja de consommation courante, à apprécier au cours des deux prochaines années.

Enfin, même si j’ai moins d’affinités avec le style adopté par Nathalie Bonhomme, je suis persuadée que son El Grand Bonhomme 2012, produit dans la région de Castille et Léon saura plaire aux amateurs de sensations fortes. Plantureux et copieusement boisé, il pourrait se bonifier d’ici 2017.

Patrice Breton Apriori Proprietary Red 2013Patrice Breton Apriori Chardonnay 2013Domaine Queylus Pinot Noir 'tradition' 2010Bodegas Moraza Tinto Joven 2013El Grand Bonhomme 2012

Deux bons vins de Galice

Paco & Lola Albariño 2013Ronsel Do Sil Vel'uveyra Ribeira Sacra 2012Appellation de création récente (1996), Ribeira Sacra est la seule D.O. galicienne dédiée au vin rouge. Ronsel do Sil est né d’un partenariat entre Pablo Blanco et le Français Olivier Rivière, établi dans la Rioja Alta depuis 2004. Ensemble, ils produisent le Vel’ Uveyra 2012, délicieux vin rouge qui doit son originalité au mencía, le cépage de l’appellation Bierzo. À découvrir!

Toujours en Galice, juste au-dessus de la frontière portugaise, l’appellation Rias Baixas se consacre exclusivement à l’élaboration de vins blancs. Le cépage albariño y donne un vin aromatique et passablement parfumé, désormais très populaire chez nos voisins américains. Celui de la bodega Paco & Lola – vendu pour la première fois à la SAQ – a d’ailleurs été servi à la première hollywoodienne du film Vicky, Cristina, Barcelona (Woody Allen). (Fin de la rubrique mondaine.) Et le vin? Rien de complexe, mais assez caractéristique du cépage albariño, frais et facile à boire.

Encore Bordeaux…

Généralement correct, Les Allées de Cantemerle 2010, second vin de Château Cantemerle, ne rencontrait pas pleinement les attentes lorsque goûté il y a quelques semaines. Néanmoins, un Haut-Médoc de bonne facture, à revoir dans quelques années.

Évoluant toujours dans l’ombre de voisins plus prestigieux comme Montrose et Cos d’Estournel, Lafon-Rochet est un cru d’autant plus intéressant à surveiller que son prix est plus resté sensé. Même la seconde étiquette – Les Pèlerins de Lafon-Rochet 2010 – est à retenir parmi les bons vins de Saint-Estèphe sur le marché.

Une impression tout aussi favorable pour La Devise de Lilian 2010 du Château Lilian Ladouys, acquis en 2008 par l’homme d’affaires Jacky Lorenzetti, aussi propriétaire de Château Pédesclaux. Un excellent Saint-Estèphe en devenir, très structuré, sans être massif, gorgé de fruit noir, il déployait en bouche un registre de saveurs aussi nuancées que persistantes. À 31 $, on peut acheter les yeux fermés.

Un peu moins d’enthousiasme pour le second vin du Château Belgrave, une propriété située non loin de la commune de Saint-Julien. Techniquement irréprochable et assez représentatif du millésime 2009 par sa rondeur. Un peu trop poli et convenu à mon goût, mais correctement boisé et conçu pour plaire.

En revanche, que de bons mots pour La Réserve de Malartic 2010, du Château Malartic-Lagravière, qui est une autre manifestation des progrès accomplis depuis le rachat de la propriété par la famille Bonnie, originaire de Belgique. Élaboré sous les conseils de l’œnologue Michel Rolland, un vin de facture moderne, mais surtout digeste et faisant preuve d’une élégance certaine.

Château Cantemerle Les Allées De Cantemerle 2010Les Pèlerins De Lafon Rochet Château Lafon Rochet 2010Château Lilian Ladouys La Devise De Lilian 2010Château Belgrave 2009La Bastide Blanche Bandol 2011

Un trio méditerranéen

Argyros Assyrtiko 2013San Patrignano Aulente 2013La Bastide Blanche Bandol 2011La plupart des vins du pourtour méditerranéen sont prêts à boire dès leur commercialisation. L’exception est évidemment le Bandol qui arrive à sa plénitude après cinq ou six ans. Celui de la famille Bronzo, au domaine de La Bastide Blanche offre une assez bonne tenue en bouche dans sa version 2011, bien qu’il soit un peu moins structure que d’habitude. Les impatients peuvent donc l’apprécier dès maintenant, mais il sera à son apogée dans un an ou deux.

De Provence vers l’Italie… Bien qu’il soit davantage répandu en Toscane, le cépage sangiovese est aussi implanté en Émilie-Romagne. Le Aulente 2013 est un bon vin ample et de facture moderne, fort séduisant par sa matière fruitée mûre et ses accents vanillés.

Enfin, sur l’île de Santorin, en Grèce, la famille Argyros élabore d’excellents vins de table qui mettent en relief l’originalité des variétés locales et privilégie un style plutôt vif et nerveux pour ses vins blancs secs. L’Assyrtiko 2013 est vinifié exclusivement en cuve d’inox et déploie en bouche la salinité caractéristique des vins blancs de Santorin. L’exotisme des îles grecques, à prix abordable.

À la vôtre !

Nadia Fournier

Tous les vins mis en vente le 19 février
Les favoris de Nadia

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!



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Oceans, Altitudes and Attitudes

The Cool Climate World of Oz
By DJ Kearney


DJ in legendary (and chilly) Steingarten Vineyard earlier this month, absorbing the sunshine

Journey into the elegant cool-climate world of Australia. See how high altitude wine regions and ocean proximity, combined with evolving winemaking practices and attitudes, have influenced the wines being crafted in Oz. At the upcoming Vancouver International Wine Festival, the ‘Oceans, Altitudes and Attitudes’ trade seminar is the ideal way to get the skinny on trends in Austrlalia viticulture in 90 action-packed minutes. My WineAlign colleague, Australian-born Rhys Pender MW and I will moderate our way around the country, as we taste wines that embody our triple themes of ocean, elevation and new perspectives.

There is much on the move down under. History, evolution and revolution have shaped this sun-baked land’s wine industry in a profound way. Australian wines reach so far beyond their stereotyped soft-and-generous fruit style: nowadays there are raspy light reds, bladerunner whites and crisply sharp bubbles that will utterly shred your preconceptions about Australia being just a hot place to grow grapes. Truth is these wine styles have always quietly existed, but changes in the vinescape, vineyard sites and attitudinal shifts have made these cooler-grown wines much more of the norm.


Attitudes: The Winds of Change

The Vigneron: One of the most important attitude shifts that’s really taken hold across the country is the fusing of grapegrowing and wine making roles. Phil Reedman MW, a respected Adelaide-based industry consultant sees this as a key qualitative change, he told me when we were tasting in the Barossa last week. Nowadays, big and small wineries are adopting the French notion of the vigneron…. where the farming of grapes and the making of wine are indivisible. The rough translation of vigneron is ‘winegrower’ and this notion that importantly connects the vineyard and the winery has permeated philosophies of big and small producers. Abel Gibson, from the tiny, wonderful winery Ruggabellus is a grower/winemaker who fashions miniscule amounts of truly exciting wine in the variable terrain of Barossa. He has planted a vineyard high in the breezy hills and is babying vines through their infancy with the same singlemindedness that he lavishes on the barrels of wines that bubble away and then relax in old casks at his tiny home/winery. On a completely different scale, Sue Hodder, chief winemaker at Wynns Coonawarra Estate, also embodies this shift, and she is every bit as involved and intimate with her much more substantial vineyard land. It shows in each bottle and tier at Wynns, where every flavour and structural element is always absolutely in the right place, and wines have an effortless balance and poise.

When to pick: Attitudes about picking times constitute an important shift according to the great winemaker Phil Laffer, who has seen the country flourish during 30 vintages at Lindeman’s and 20 years steering Jacob’s Creek. He’s seen Australia shift from fortified to table wines and been an instrumental part of the astonishingly successful charge to export markets. Picking dates are now as much as 4 to 6 weeks earlier in some regions. Picking raisined grapes and making high alcohol wines in the past was simply cheaper; less grape spirit was needed to boost them to 20% alcohol or more, and flavours were not so important. Now, almost obsessive care is taken in picking for flavour, balance and freshness.

Brave New Grapes: Jeremy Oliver, author of Australia’s Wine Annual, points to changing views of the grape scape, and increasing interest in Mediterranean varieties, especially Italian reds like sangiovese, barbera and nebbiolo. He states that though there is still much to learn (and vineyards need to mature), a few regional associations are emerging, like sangiovese with McLaren Vale, the King Valley and Heathcote; nebbiolo with the Adelaide Hills, McLaren Vale and Heathcote; barbera with the King Valley, the Lower Hunter Valley and Mudgee. Tempranillo is showing well in sites from Clare to McLaren Vale to Victoria, and best of all chardonnay seems to be finding a true comfort place of balance all over the country, where acids are less screeching, fruit is more chiselled and confidently forward, oak is far more judiciously used. Good thing too, give that there are over 25,000 hectares of it planted.


Pushing the Limits: Altitude

Orange is the Cool: In the last few decades, Australians have begun to scale the hills, planting at unheard of heights and teasing wonderful freshness and natural acidity from grapes. What’s the point of elevation? In a nutshell, lower temperatures mean slower, even ripening for forward fruit flavours, without a shred of raisiny over-ripeness, lighter tannins and precise acids. Sunlight is different as well, giving greater light intensity without heat units. Orange is a classic example. Located in the Tablelands of New South Wales, it’s a few hours’ drive from Sydney. A true cool-climate region defined by the high altitudes within the Shires of Orange City, and defined by an elevation boundary as well as a geographic footprint. To use the GI, vineyards must be above 600 metres above sea level (lower reaches use the Central Ranges appellation). While most plantings are young, dating only back to the 1980’s, there are over 1,500 hectares planted already, indicating the interest in this cool growing region. Vineyards climb from 600 metres to over 1,100. The temperature change is significant for a vine: at 650 metres the average January temperature is 21.5 º C, but at 950 metres it drops to 18.5 º C at the height of the growing season. Grape harvest is delayed by 1 week for every 100 metre rise in elevation.

Whites like sauvignon blanc and chardonnay are a natural fit in Orange, as are aromatics like riesling and pinot gris, but light and juicy shiraz wines (often styled with a drop of viognier) are captivating too. Pinot noir may have a future, but plantings are small still. It’s important that altitude is matched to grape variety – thicker-skinned cab and shiraz can struggle to ripen at 1000 metres, and do well a little lower, whereas you can dial in chardonnay at any height and create peachy to lemony fruited beauties. Philip Shaw, famed winemaker at Lindemans, Rosemount and Southcorp, became fascinated with Orange and planted vines in 1989, giving Cumulus winery its start. He believes that merlot is a perfect variety for Orange, but there are still just 200 hectares, compared to shiraz’s 400 hectares.

Prized Fruit for Sharpening Blends: Tumbarumba is another region to watch. Half way between Sydney and Melbourne, and just a 3 hour whiz from Canberra, the air and water are mountain-pure. With 1180 growing degree days and an average maximum temperature of 18.3 º C, it enjoyed a stellar reputation as a grapegrowing region (rather than a winemaking one) since the 1980’s when premium wine grapes were planted at altitudes of 300 metres to over 850. A quick troll through the Tumbarumba Vignerons Association shows that this cool-grown prized fruit goes into top wines from Penfolds, Treasury to McWilliams and Clonakilla. Next time you are enjoying Penfolds magnificent Yattarna chardonnay, you’ll taste a little bit of Tumbarumba’s cool environment.


Steingarten Vineyard

Sublime Steingarten: Also high and cool is Eden Valley’s Steingarten Vineyard, a remarkable hilltop site that just sits on the Eden/Barossa boundary. At about 450 metres of elevation it’s not the highest vineyard in Eden (Pewsey Vale is higher) but it is venerable and yields intense, nervy fruit riesling fruit that hums and crackles with electricity. Jacob’s Creek chief winemaker Bernard Hicken describes the unique and site-specific features of Steingarten (only 450 cases worth of fruit comes from this low-yielding vineyard) as far from the Barossa Valley norm. There is a 2-3 ºC degree temperature difference from valley floor to the vineyard, as well as a notable diurnal shift of 12-15 ºC. Vintage is felt sharply here, with picking times varying by 2-3 weeks year by year. Global warming has had an effect too, as picking dates have advanced 3-4 weeks over the last 20-30 years. The 30 degree slope looks truly Germanic, and its sharp incline attracts downdrafting cold winds, known as katabatic or gully winds, cooling Steingarten further in the late afternoon and early evening. Visiting in early February was a chilly experience, but you immediately understand the piercing acidity that helps this stately riesling age for decades. The vine’s spindly trunks belie their 53 years – they have been stressed by dense planting, wind abuse and meagre exposure to morning sun only. This vineyard is a poster-child for cool-climate if ever there was one.

Chill in Adelaide: Just to the south of Barossa, the Adelaide Hills are as hot as a tin shed roof these days. ‘Hot’ as in ultra-cool and fashionable, where wines of finesse and varietal intensity have been turning heads for years now. It’s a very large wine region, but with small, undulating and often steep hills, marked by cool nights and growing degree days as low as 1172. Mount Lofty’s summit is 710 meters, but much of the vineyards lie at well over 400 meters, and many of Australia’s elite vignerons work or source fruit from this distinctive area. The sub-region of Picadilly Valley is 1-2 ºC cooler still that Steingarten vineyard in the Eden Valley. Taste the Wolf Blass Gold Label Chardonnay 2013, and its riveting acidity and vivid lemony fruit offers a good insight into the potential of the Adelaide Hills.

Adelaide Hills

Adelaide Hills


Australia: the Ocean Effect

The Sunburned Country: For sun-deprived Canadian wine lovers fixated on our deeply romanticized images of Oz (Christmas at the beach, shrimp-on-the-barbie every day, it never, ever snows!) it can be hard to imagine how Australian wine might have anything whatsoever to do with the concept of ‘cool climate’, even though ‘cool’ is now the coolest thing an Aussie wine can be. So, maybe it is surprising to learn that of the more than 60 fine-wine regions of Australia, 24 are ‘true cool-climate’ and as cool, or cooler, than Bordeaux, famous for its moderate maritime climate. After all Australia is an island, and that one of the oceans surrounding it (the Great Southern) is a notorious source of nasty winds.

Three wine regions that are blessed with a maritime climate beneficial for winegrowing are Margaret River in Western Australia, the Mornington Peninsula in Victoria, and the island state of Tasmania (read Treve’s Travels Part I & Part II for details on these regions and their wines). In all of them climate is moderated by close proximity to large bodies of water, with cooling ocean winds creating a longer growing season that makes possible fresher, more elegant wines with an ideal balance between fruit and acid.

To put ‘cool’ in relative perspective, it is instructive to refer to the Heat Summation system, developed at UC Davis, whereby cumulative ‘degree days’ for a wine region are calculated (using a slightly tricky formula) totaling the number of degrees above 10°C (50°F) during the 7 month growing season. There are five classifications: Region 1 (<1390) is ‘very cool’; Region 2 is ‘cool’ (1391-1670), and so on. Using this system, growing degree days (GDD) ratings for Champagne and Burgundy are 1031 and 1164 respectively; Bordeaux 1392, and Napa 1499. In comparison, Northern Tasmania’s GDD rating is 1020, Margaret River is 1690, and Mornington ranges from 1080 – 1570. For comparison, Penticton in the Okanagan Valley is 1320.

Mighty Margaret River: If the GDD of 1690 for Margaret River looks on the high side here, it is important to note that the Margaret River region is literally surrounded by water. While temperatures inland can be stinking hot, Margaret River temperatures are modified by a legendary wind from the south called the ‘Freemantle Doctor’ that brings cool air from the ocean, creating the moderate growing conditions to produce the famously elegant wines of Australian icons Leeuwin, Cullen, and Vasse Felix. Without the ocean effect, the wines would be very different.

Dr. Thomas Cullity of Vasse Felix planted the first vines in Margaret River in 1967, in red gravel in redgum country, with clay about 18” below the surface; in 1972 he bottled Margaret River’s first cabernet sauvignon.

As any visitor to Melbourne soon learns, bracingly cool (ok, bloody cold) breezes can scream in from the Southern Ocean at any time; it is safe to say that there is a distinctly ocean-affected climate. The Mornington Peninsula south of the city has become renowned as a cool-climate wine region, with a global reputation for pinot noir – a grape once deemed ‘impossible to grow’ in Australia.

By virtue of being cool, Tazzie has become one of Australia’s hottest regions. Launceston at the north end of the island is not just cool: at 1020 GDD’s it is flat out super-cool. Here the ocean breezes from the Bass Strait are at least as important in winter as in summer – keeping the temperatures up and protecting the vines from frosts. This is sparkling country.

Some wines that show the affect of oceans, altitudes & attitudes :

Vasse Felix Cabernet Sauvignon 2011, Margaret River

Wynns Black Label Cabernet Sauvignon 2012, Coonawarra

Wolf Blass Gold Label Chardonnay 2013, Adelaide Hills 

Rolling Shiraz 2012 Orange, New South Wales

Jansz Premium Cuvee NV Methode Tasmanoise, Tasmania

Stonier Pinot Noir 2013, Mornington Peninsula

Steingarten Riesling 2013, Eden Valley

Vasse Felix Cabernet Sauvignon 2011Wynns Coonawarra Estate Black Label Cabernet Sauvignon 2012Wolf Blass Gold Label Chardonnay 2013Rolling Shiraz 2012Jansz Premium CuvéeStonier Pinot Noir 20132015-02-19_15-38-03

~ All critics’ shared their top 20 Under $20 at the VIWF, and will chime in on their top 3 wines to taste at the festival in our joint BC Critics’ Report early next week. Finally, Anthony Gismondi’s Final Blend column will take a look at tasting notes, critics and where the WineAlign team is tasting, travelling and focusing.

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WineAlign Reviews

Coldstream Hills Pinot Noir 2008