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Buyers’ Guide to VINTAGES June 27 – Part Two

Canada is Bigger than Canada Day
By David Lawrason, with notes from John Szabo and Sara d’Amato

David Lawrason

David Lawrason

As VINTAGES releases its token selection of new Canadian wines this week ahead of Canada Day – all ten of them among 120 new releases – John, Sara, Michael and I plus other WineAlign critics are in Niagara judging over 1400 Canadian wines at the National Wine Awards of Canada. I have never been one to overplay patriotism as a reason to drink Canadian wine, firmly believing that quality must be the driver of its success. These annual awards are a significant tool to that end, helping winemakers benchmark themselves, and providing consumers with the names of those wines that stand out. We will certainly be displaying the winners in the weeks ahead. Your inbox will be buzzing with the news.

But I am disappointed that VINTAGES, during Canada’s national week, has not greatly bumped up its Canadian representation. Why not devote an entire release to Canadian wine? There are certainly enough very good wines out there from B.C., Ontario, Quebec and Nova Scotia.

Well here’s why it’s not happening. The LCBO has a template that prescribes how many wines, from which countries/regions, get released every two weeks. And it’s really all about store/shelf management – keeping the same number of SKUs in the same locations within the same stores week after week, month after month, year after year, decade after decade. Arguably it is for the shopping ease and familiarity of consumers, but it’s more for the convenience of unionized staff. Heaven forbid they would have to create a new, enticing display of 100 great new Canadian wines on Canada Day. Much easier to plaster big very expensive posters in the window and call that a promotion.

I am not blaming any individual within the LCBO, except perhaps its leadership. The LCBO’s intrinsic and historic inflexibility is one reason that the Canadian wine industry – and those of all other countries in fact – are crying for some form of privatization. A model that will allow at least a tripling of SKUs sold within a network of stores that includes supermarkets, cold beer and wine stores, fine wine stores and regionally dedicated shops (these all exist elsewhere in Canada). A network that will allow the elasticity required to manage the ebb and flow of a product so wonderfully diverse as wine.

This summer I am more hopeful than ever. We are on the eve of major change in Ontario. By September ex-TD Bank chairman Ed Clark, mandated by Kathleen Wynn’s Liberals, is supposed to propose how wine in supermarkets might work. Which of course will be a welcome start when it finally does come about. But as listed above, supermarkets are only one piece of a much more diverse template that is required.

The Ontario wine industry itself is strongly in favour of independent wine shops selling both Ontario and imported wine. This a bold and crucial stance, because as I said, patriotism should not be the only reason that we buy Canadian wine. It must compete head to head in a fair retail environment, and at least some of Ontario’s winemakers have figured that out – often those that do best in the National Wine Awards.

My greatest hope is that Ed Clark also believes this. That he beats back the howls of the vested interests who seek advantage for themselves over what makes sense for the industry at large and the consumers it serves. Wine in supermarkets is a huge first step, but independent stores must soon follow.

As an interim step the existing private retail licenses granted to the large Ontario wineries before 1988 must be re-distributed among the many interests selling Canadian and imported wines. Ontario’s international trade partners cannot, and will not, disagree. When it is proven to work – which it will – many more licenses need to be made available. As many as the market demands. And Ontario will finally join the rest of the globe in terms of natural wine retailing. We are still, as we speak, an anomaly on this planet. And we are widely ridiculed.

We ask you to celebrate Canada Day with a bottle of Canadian wine, but in the true spirit of Canadian globalism, if you decide that a wine from France, Chile or New Zealand is what you want in the moment then do so without guilt. Canada welcomes all. Canada is bigger than Canada Day. Every person contributing to wine production somewhere in the world matters too.

Here are our picks from the June 27th release, plus a couple of recently tasted Canadian selections from VINTAGES Essentials

Canadian Wines

Vieni Estates 2012 Foch Vintage Reserve Ontario Canada ($19.95)

David Lawrason – Canada’s wine industry began with hybrids like marechal foch, and a few remaining old vine versions garner an almost cult-like following (eight were entered in this year’s wine awards). This deep, gnarly, rustic red explains their curious durability.
John Szabo – This is one of the best hybrid wines I’ve come across in long-term memory, great for the back yard or cottage with is smoky, forest floor, resinous herbs and dried plum flavours.

Calamus 2013 Steely Unoaked Chardonnay, Niagara Peninsula ($14.95)

David Lawrason – Unoaked chardonnay is often boring, giving us no reason not to drink pinot grigio instead (which can also be boring). This is a nicely fresh, quite fulsome unoaked chardonnay with ripe pear, florals and honey. Calamus has re-designed its labels and found some new energy  in its wines of late.

Vieni Foch Vintage Reserve 2012 Calamus Unoaked Chardonnay 2013 Sperling Vineyards Gewurztraminer 2013 Malivoire Musqué Spritz 201413th Street Cabernet Merlot 2012

Sperling 2013 Gewurztraminer, Okanagan Valley ($28.95)

David Lawrason – Born and raised on the family’s vineyard in East Kelowna, Anne Sperling is better known in Ontario as the veteran winemaker at Southbrook and formerly Malivoire. She also commutes home to BC to tend Sperling Vineyards. This is a quite delicate, off-dryish gewurz  from estate vines well positioned on a south-facing hill overlooking west Kelowna and the lake.

Malivoire 2014 Musqué Spritz Beamsville Bench, ($19.95)

John Szabo – Lively, fresh, off-dry, and yes, spritzy, Malivoire’s 2014 Musqué Spritz is an infinitely drinkable, aperitif-friendly white that goes down with alarming ease. A great wine to have around the house for the summer, for those impromptu afternoon occasions.

13th Street 2012 Cabernet Merlot, Creek Shores, Niagara Peninsula ($19.95)

David Lawrason – The 2012 vintage is perhaps the best all ‘round vintage Niagara has seen to date. Having been dealt nicely ripened fruit, JP Colas has delivered a quite lifted complex cab/merlot blend with notes of slightly stewed raspberry currant, herbs, leather, grilled red pepper and fresh herbs.

Culmina 2012 Hypothesis, Okanagan Valley ($39.95)

David Lawason – Since departing Jackson-Triggs when the label was sold to US-based Constellation Brands, Donald Triggs and his family have been carving out an ambitious new vineyard project on the benches of the south Okanagan’s Golden Mile. This is a very serious, sculpted, deep merlot-based red.
Sara d’Amato – From the recently delimited, sub-appellation of Golden Mile Bench, this BC Bordeaux blend has the complexity of left bank Bordeaux but the appealing, generous nature of a new world. Youthful and spicy but with excellent structure for mid to long term cellaring.

Culmina Hypothesis 2012 Malivoire Chardonnay 2012 Cave Spring Estate Riesling 2013 Queylus Reserve Du Domaine Merlot Cabernet Franc 2010

Malivoire 2012 Chardonnay, Niagara Peninsula ($19.95)

John Szabo – Made from essentially all Beamsville Bench fruit, Malivoire’s 2012 is a typically ripe and flowery, gently oaked, lively and well-balanced chardonnay. Acids are crisp and lively, and fruit is in the ripe orchard spectrum. Lovely wine, well priced.

Cave Spring 2013 Estate Riesling, Beamsville Bench, Niagara Peninsula ($17.95)

John Szabo – Cave Spring’s 2013 riesling is just off-dry but balanced, lively and vibrant, with arch-typical riesling profile – as reliable as they come.

Queylus 2010 Reserve du Domaine Merlot Cabernet Franc, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada ($39.95)

Sara d’Amato – A head turning Bordeaux blend from the hands of one of Canada’s most celebrated consultant winemakers, Thomas Bachelder. From rose and violets to blackcurrants and plums, this fleshy but structured palate is swoon-worthy.

International Reds

Finca Sophenia 2013 Reserve Malbec, Tupungato, Mendoza ($17.95)

David Lawrason – This is a very pretty, floral and lifted malbec that doesn’t succumb to oak from the high country at the north end of Mendoza’a Uco Valley.

Château Pey De Pont 2010, Médoc, Bordeaux $21.95

David Lawrason – The 2010 vintage continues to deliver great value among the petits chateaux. With well layered currants, spice, herbs, vanilla and a hint of maturing leather, this is ready to roll and should hold over the next three to five years.

Finca Sophenia Reserve Malbec 2013 Château Pey De Pont 2010 Gran Passione Rosso 2013 Domaine Le Clos Des Cazaux La Tour Sarrasine Gigondas 2012

Gran Passione 2013 Rosso, Veneto, Italy ($15.95)

David Lawrason – Lots here for $16! This is a very smooth, ripe and easy going ripasso with very good density. It has a nicely lifted nose of plum/cherry fruit, chocolate, some underlying meatiness and herbs.

Domaine Le Clos Des Cazaux 2012 La Tour Sarrasine Gigondas, Rhône France ($28.95)

John Szabo – A complete southern Rhône package here, classy and compelling, drinking well now, but should also hold a decade in the cellar quite comfortably. Best 2015-2025.

Il Molino Di Grace 2007 Il Margone Riserva Chianti Classico, Tuscany. Italy ($34.95)

John Szabo – There’s a lot of wine here for the money; this drinks up there with Brunello costing twice as much. I love the fully mature, earthy, mushroom and wet clay/wood- oxidative feel. There’s a touch of funk here to be sure, but it melds seamlessly with the rest of the ensemble. Best 2015-2022.

Domaine Le Clos Des Cazaux La Tour Sarrasine Gigondas 2012 Il Molino Di Grace Il Margone Riserva Chianti Classico 2007 Michel Gassier Les Piliers Syrah 2012 Sileni The Triangle Merlot 2013

2012 Michel Gassier Les Piliers Syrah AC Costières de Nîmes, Rhône, France ($18.95)

John Szabo – Here’s a fine value, lively and authentic syrah, floral and very pretty, with elegant tannins and vibrant acids. Very classy, and really well priced.  Best 2015-2020.
Sara d’Amato – Costieres de Nimes’ milder climate sandwiched between the southern Rhone and the Languedoc provides a haven for finicky syrah, allowing it to express itself in all its peppery and floral glory. An excellent value that has crowd-pleasing appeal.

Sileni 2013 The Triangle Merlot, Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand ($19.95)

Sara d’Amato – Since the late 90s, Sileni has been producing a wide range of wines in the milder climate of Hawke’s Bay. This standout merlot shows terrific concentration and fruit but with a nervy acidic backbone that makes it versatile with food.

Ermete Medici & Figli Concerto 2013And for Something Special on the Patio This Summer…..

Medici Ermete & Figli 2013 Arte E Concerto Lambrusco, Emilia-Romagna  Italy ($19.95)

John Szabo – A long-time standard-bearer for Lambrusco, Medici Ermete’s Concerto, made from the Salamino member of the vast lambrusco family of grapes, is a deeply-coloured, very fruity and engaging wine, essentially dry (10 grams of residual sugar) and light-mid weight on the palate (11.5% alcohol). I like the dark berry flavours, the floral and peppery notes reminiscent of syrah done in carbonic maceration. Decent length. Perfect for the charcuterie board (is it a coincidence that the grape is named salamino, after the salami-like shape of its bunches?).

From VINTAGES June 27th, 2015

Lawrason’s Take
Szabo’s Smart Buys
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!

Castello Di Gabbiano Chianti Classico Riserva 2011

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20 bons vins à moins de 20$ pour juin

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 !

Notre équipe du Québec : Bill, Marc, Nadia et Rémy

Les choix de Marc Chapleau

Saint Clair Sauvignon Blanc 2014  : Tellement typé sauvignon de Nouvelle-Zélande, et tellement ok ! Ça sent tout plein l’asperge, le litchi, le pamplemousse, le buis, nommez-en, mais c’est convaincant parce que l’acidité est là et le sucre n’est pas trop marqué (4 g). Vraiment rien à redire.

Artazuri Garnacha 2013 : Quel bon achat ! Violacé, fruité et épicé, boisé aussi, mais l’ensemble est nerveux, bien tendu, pas si corsé et la finale est sur la fraîcheur. À 15 $ et des poussières, cet espagnol est un bon candidat pour les grillades estivales à base de viande.

Cistus Douro Reserva 2013 : Un assemblage de cépages indigènes portugais (base de tinta roriz, autre nom du tempranillo) sur le fruit, souple et coulant, mi-corsé seulement, et qui sera d’une belle polyvalence à table. À moins de 13 $, un très bon achat.

Saint Clair Marlborough Premium Sauvignon Blanc 2014Artazuri Garnacha 2013Cistus Reserva 2013Château Camarsac Vieilles Vignes 2010Mas Collet Montsant 2012

Château Camarsac Bordeaux supérieur 2010 : Nez de bordeaux relativement évolué, bien que le vin n’ait pas encore cinq ans. Ce dernier demeure bien vivant, cependant, l’acidité est marquée et tonifiante, les saveurs sont à peine corsées. Prometteur, malgré le début d’évolution ; revoir à l’horizon 2017-2018.

Mas Collet Montsant Celler de Capçanes 2012 : Rouge catalan robuste, solidement constitué. N’est pas sans évoquer certains rouges du Rhône sud, type gigondas ou châteauneuf-du-pape, en plus tannique, en moins charnu et en plus minéral. À 17,55 $, un bon rapport qualité-prix.

Les choix de Rémy Charest

Ce mois-ci, ma liste de vins va avec une trois questions estivales.

Premièrement, si un vin s’appelle le Lac des Roches, est-ce que ça veut dire qu’il est bon pour les parties de pêche et les filets de truite? Dans le cas de ce blanc accessible (moins de 13$), une cuvée qui existe depuis une bonne trentaine d’années, le nom réfère à un lac particulièrement rocheux situé non loin des vignobles de la maison Boutari. Quoi qu’il en soit, le vin est joliment parfumé et montre une fois de plus les vraies aubaines qu’offrent les vins grecs. (Et oui, je le verrais bien avec la truite.)

Boutari Lac Des Roches 2014Gérard Bertrand Grand Terroir Tautavel 2011Don Pascual Tannat Merlot 2013Chartier Créateur D'harmonies Le Rosé 2014Pétale De Rose 2014

Deuxième question, quel genre de rouge, pour le BBQ? Avec les sauces relevées ou les condiments des burgers et hot-dogs, mieux vaut rester dans le beau, bon, pas cher. Mais ça ne veut pas dire qu’on doive se limiter à un seul profil. On peut y aller avec du fruité généreux et de l’épice, comme on en trouve dans le Tautavel de Gérard Bertrand, ex-champion de rugby. Si on se tourne vers le tannat-merlot Don Pascual, de l’Uruguay, on sera plutôt sur des notes de fumée et de pied de tomate : une personnalité bien différente du précédent.

Troisième question : est-ce que le rosé, grosso modo, c’est toujours pareil? Pour m’amuser, j’ai goûté côte-à-côte celui de François Chartier et le célèbre Pétale de Rose. Un bon exercice pour voir les différences, plus que les ressemblances. Autant le premier est coloré, autant le deuxième est pâle. Le fruité du premier se présente de façon plus exubérante que celui du second, un peu plus aérien, et les textures sont également assez différentes. La bonne chose? Les deux sont bien secs, ce qui les rend d’autant plus rafraîchissants.

Les choix de Nadia Fournier

Envie de dépaysement en attendant les vacances? Il vous faut goûter le Pipeño 2014 de Louis-Antoine Luyt. 100 % país (vieux cépage amené au chili par les premiers missionnaires espagnols), élaboré dans la plus pure tradition chilienne, foulé et égrappé à la main et vinifié en cuve ouverte. Tout léger (12,5 % d’alcool), fringant, du fruit et des notes animales qui lui donnent un air un peu rustique, mais pas trop. Bon vin de soif à servir frais.

Sur un mode plus charnu et solide, le Tradition 2012 de Denis Ferrer et Bruno Ribière (Ferrer-Ribière) fera votre bonheur quotidien avec des grillades. Belle expression roussillonnaise des cépages syrah, carignan, mourvèdre et grenache. Gorgé de soleil, suave et gourmand, avec juste ce qu’il faut de tanins. À moins de 20 $, on achète les yeux fermés.

Louis Antoine Luyt Pipeno 2014 Domaine Ferrer Ribière Tradition 2012Argyros Atlantis White 2014Le Pive Gris Vin Rosé 2014Ijalba Genoli Viura 2013

Tout juste rentrée de Santorin, où j’ai redécouvert avec palsiir la cuvée Atlantis 2014 de la famille Argyros, qui a choisi d’assouplir la vivacité caractéristique de l’assyrtiko, avec une petite proportion d’athiri et d’aidani. L’exemple même du vin blanc sec et minéral qui évoque le bord de mer. Vite, sortez les fruits de mer!

Depuis son arrivée sur le marché québécois, le Pive Gris de la famille Jeanjean est l’une des valeurs sûres en matière de vins rosés. Toujours à la hauteur des attentes, avec des saveurs fruitées délicates, juste assez de gras, de vitalité et de salinité.

Autre valeur sûre, le Genoli 2014 de Ijalba charme toujours par sa fraîcheur et par l’originalité aromatique du cépage viura. À table comme à l’apéro, on appréciera sa présence en bouche à la fois friande et désaltérante. À ce prix, un must estival !

Les choix de Bill Zacharkiw

Frais et dispos !

Avec la température qui se réchauffe, il faut porter encore plus attention à la température de service, surtout pour les rouges. Siroter une bonne bouteille à l’extérieur par une soirée chaude, dépassant les 20 degrés, c’est formidable ; ce le sera cependant moins si le vin est lui-même à ces températures. Ayez donc un seau à glace sous la main, et plongez-y la bouteille si le vino réchauffe trop — pas plus de 18 degrés.

Les blancs sont souvent servis trop froids, mais pour certains c’est mieux ainsi. Exemple, le fabuleux 2013 Riesling de Selbach-Oster. Le vin est parfaitement équilibré en termes de sucre et d’acidité ; servez-le à 8 C et il conservera tout son charme.

Un bon chardonnay, c’est affaire d’acidité et de texture. Trop froid, et il n’y a que l’acidité qui ressort. Alors un vin comme le 2014 Chardonnay d’Argentine Salentein Portillo sera servi à environ 8 C, mais ne craignez rien s’il monte à 12 C : il n’en sera que plus aromatique et plus riche.

Selbach Oster Zeltinger Himmelreich Halbtrocken Riesling Kabinett 2013Salentein Portillo Chardonnay 2014Clos Bellane Côtes Du Rhône Altitude 2014Domaine Sauger Cheverny 2012Pierre Henri Morel Signargues Côtes Du Rhône Villages 2013

Le service du rosé est plus délicat. Servez bien froids ceux qui sont sucrés, mais les meilleurs, plus secs, comme le 2013 Côtes-du-Rhône Altitude du Clos Bellane, tolèreront jusqu’à 14 degrés. N’oubliez pas que ces vins sont faits à partir de raisins rouges et donc que pour révéler tous leurs arômes, il ne faut pas les traiter comme si c’était de la bière.

À 14 C, justement, les rosés et les rouges se rencontrent. Pour les rouges fruités et rafraîchissants, comme le 2012 Cheverny du Domaine Sauger, c’est le point de départ idéal. Mais ne dépassez pas la barre des 16 C, au risque de perdre le fruit et l’acidité croquante.

Les rouges plus puissants, tels le 2013 Côtes-du-Rhône Villages, Signargues de Pierre Henri Morel, devraient être servis à 16 C et ils gagneront en texture et en profil aromatique s’ils se réchauffent de quelques degrés.

Souvenez-vous : la meilleure façon de détruire un grand vin, c’est de le servir trop chaud !

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!

Wolf Blass Yellow Label Cabernet Sauvignon 2013

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20 under $20 for June

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 June version of the 20 under $20.

Chacun son Vin Critic Team

Chillin’ it with Bill Zacharkiw

As the temperature starts to climb towards more reasonable numbers, it’s important to pay extra attention to service temperature, especially for your reds. Drinking wine outside on a plus 20C night is amazing, unless your wine of course is the same temperature. So keep an ice bucket handy to give your wines a dunk if they start to creep too high. 18C is the maximum.

Whites are often served too cold, but some should be served on the cooler side. The fabulous 2013 Riesling from Selbach-Oster is one such example. The wine is perfectly balanced between its acidity and residual sugar, so keep it at 8C to maintain that equilibrium.

Good chardonnay is about acid and texture. Too cold and you just get the acid. So a wine like the 2014 Chardonnay from Argentina’s Salentein should be started at 8c, but don’t fear if it goes up to 12C. It will get more aromatic and rich.

Selbach Oster Zeltinger Himmelreich Halbtrocken Riesling Kabinett 2013Salentein Portillo Chardonnay 2014Clos Bellane Côtes Du Rhône Altitude 2014Domaine Sauger Cheverny 2012Pierre Henri Morel Signargues Côtes Du Rhône Villages 2013

Rosé service can be perplexing. If they are sweet keep them cold. But for top flight and very dry pink wines like the 2013 Côtes-du-Rhône Altitude from Clos Bellane, ideal service temperature is between 10-14C. Remember, these are made with red grapes and if you want to appreciate the aromatics, they can’t be served like a beer.

14C is where rosé and reds meet. For fruity and fresh reds, like the 2012 Cheverny from Domaine Sauger, it is the ideal starting point. Don’t let it go much over 16C or you will lose the crispy acidity and fresh fruit.

More powerful wines, like the 2013 Signargues Côtes-du-Rhône Villages from Pierre Henri Morel, should be started at 16C, but can warm up nicely a few degrees to highlight the texture and more subtle aromatic notes in this rich and complex wine.

Remember, the best way to turn a great wine into a bad wine is to serve it at the wrong temperature!

Marc Chapleau’s picks

Saint Clair Sauvignon Blanc 2014 : Very stereotypical sauvignon blanc from New Zealand, and very good! Nice aromatic complexity with notes of asparagus, litchi, grapefruit and boxwood, amongst others, but its success lies in its balance between acidity and residual sugar. At 4 grams/l, it does the job. No complaints.

Artazuri Garnacha 2013 : What a great buy! Purple toned, fruit and spice with notes of oak as well, but the ensemble has a beautiful twitchiness, so it is not overly powerful and there is a refreshing acidity on the finish. At around $15, this Spanish bargain is a great accompaniment for any meat you might want to throw on the grill.

Saint Clair Marlborough Premium Sauvignon Blanc 2014Artazuri Garnacha 2013Cistus Reserva 2013Château Camarsac Vieilles Vignes 2010Mas Collet Montsant 2012

Cistus Douro Reserva 2013 : a blend of indigenous Portuguese varieties dominated by tinta roriz, otherwise known as tempranillo. This is all about the fruit, textured and supple, and not so powerful that it looses its adaptability at the table. At under $13, a very good buy.

Château Camarsac Bordeaux supérieur 2010 : Typical Bordeaux nose that shows a slight evolution towards more tertiary aromas, even if the wine is barely 5 years old. But the wine still has lots of life as the acidity is still vibrant, the flavours still powerful. A promising wine for a short stint in the cellar and to be revisited in 2017-2018.

Mas Collet Montsant Celler de Capçanes 2012 : Robust Catalan red that is built for power. Harkens images of  southern Rhône wines from Gigondas and Châteauneuf-du-pape, though more tannic, less rich and more mineral. At $17.55, an excellent value.

Remy Charest’s Selection

This month’s affordable wines come with three summer questions…

First, if a wine is called Lac des Roches it should go well with a fishing trip, right? Well, this aromatic, low-priced Greek white (under 13$) would go well with a freshly caught trout, that’s for sure. Its name refers to a particularly rocky lake located not too far from the vineyards used by producer Boutari to produce this easy drinking, aromatic blend that shows, once again, the great deals you can get from Greek wines, especially the whites.

Boutari Lac Des Roches 2014Gérard Bertrand Grand Terroir Tautavel 2011Don Pascual Tannat Merlot 2013Chartier Créateur D'harmonies Le Rosé 2014Pétale De Rose 2014

Second question : what type of red goes well with a BBQ? When dealing with lots of sauces and spices, or the condiments used with burgers and hot-dogs, I say keep it simple and affordable. But that doesn’t mean there is only one profile available. For instance, you could go with generous fruit and spice, as exemplified by the Tautavel by ex-rugby champ Gérard Bertrand. Or choose a wine like the Don Pascual Tannat-Merlot, which is more on the smoky, tomato paste profile. Both do their thing very well.

Finally : do all rosés taste the same? Just for fun, I tasted the 2014 rosé by François Chartier side by side with the well-known Pétale de Rose. A good way to taste both the differences, as well as the similarities. While the former is rather colorful, the latter is extremely pale. The fruit character on the Chartier is a bit more exuberant, but the Pétale expresses itself in a more open, ethereal way. The best part? Both are quite dry, which makes them all the more refreshing.

Nadia Fournier’s selections

Need a change of scenery as you await your vacation? You have to taste the Pipeño 2014 from Louis-Antoine Luyt. 100% país (an ancient Chilean grape brought over by Spanish missionaries), made in the traditional Chilean way – sorted and crushed by hand and vinified in open cuves. Light (12.5 % abv), refreshing with lots of fruit and a subtle animal note that brings a certain rusticity, but well within reason. Good wine that should be served on the cool side.

On the richer and more powerful spectrum, the Tradition 2012 from Denis Ferrer et Bruno Ribière (Ferrer-Ribière) will more than adequately satisfy even around the BBQ. Beautiful expression of the Roussillon’s great grapes – syrah, carignan, mourvèdre and grenache. A wine that’s full of sunshine, suave and gourmand, with just enough tannin. At under $20, an easy purchase.

Louis Antoine Luyt Pipeno 2014 Domaine Ferrer Ribière Tradition 2012Argyros Atlantis White 2014Le Pive Gris Vin Rosé 2014Ijalba Genoli Viura 2013

I just returned from Santorini, where I re-discovered with pleasure the Atlantis 2014 from the Argyros family who have chosen the soften up the characteristic vivacity of the assyrtiko grape with a small proportion of indigenous grapes athiri and aidani. A wonderful example of a white wine, dry and mineral, that transports you the beach. Bring on the seafood.

Since its arrival on the Quebec marketplace, the Pive Gris from the Jeanjean family has been consistently one of the better rosés available. The latest vintage is just as good, with its delicate fruit notes, just enough richness, and full of vitality and a touch of salinity.

Another sure value is the Genoli from Ijalba. It always charms with its freshness as well as the aromatic originality brought by the viura grape. Whether drunk as an aperitif or at the table, it’s easy to appreciate it refreshing and thirst quenching nature. A Summer must!

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!

Wolf Blass Yellow Label Cabernet Sauvignon 2013

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Top 20 under $20 at the LCBO (June)

Your Guide to the Best Values, Limited Time Offers & Bonus Air Miles selections at the LCBO
by Steve Thurlow

Steve Thurlow

Steve Thurlow

Many summer whites and BBQ reds joined the Top list this month. With this many new selections there is surely a value shopping choice for everyone.

There are eleven new wines on the list for you to try with two coming from the recently delisted section. For the next four weeks another four wines already on the list are on promotion i.e.  have Bonus Air Miles (BAMs) that apply or have a Limited Time Offer (LTO), making these wines even more attractive; all this will surely make your June drinking more affordable.

The Top 20 under $20 are best buys among the 1,600 or so wines in LCBO Wines and the VINTAGES Essentials collection. This month I selected thirteen wines from 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 LTOs.

To make up the Top 20 under $20 I added another five wines, all with BAMs, that make them good choices and though none of them quite made it on to the Top50, they were all close.

The discount period runs until July 19th. So don’t hesitate. Thanks to WineAlign’s inventory tracking, I was able to ensure 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!


Villa Ponciago Beaujolais Villages 2012, Burgundy, France ($6.80 was $12.20 Discontinued. Limited quantities) – A charming fruity light red. Try lightly chilled with poultry. About 1000 bottles remain.

Eclipse Montepulciano D’ Abruzzo 2013 Abruzzo Italy ($7.55) New to Top 50 – The 2013 is the latest vintage of this well priced Italian red. Try with pizza and meaty or tomato pasta sauces.

Citra Sangiovese Terre Di Chieti 2013, Abruzzo, Italy ($7.75 + 4 BAMs) – A midweight dry vibrant red that is great with tomato sauces.

Villa Ponciago Beaujolais Villages 2012 Eclipse Montepulciano d'Abruzzo 2013 Citra Sangiovese Terre di Chieti 2013 Jean Philippe Janoueix l'Evidence 2011 Vila Regia 2013

Jean Philippe Janoueix L’Evidence 2011 Bordeaux, France ($7.95 was $14.00 Discontinued. Limited quantities) – A supple easy drinking Bordeaux red with charm and structure for enjoying with food. Try with roast beef. About 1700 bottles remain.

Vila Regia 2013, Douro Valley, Portugal ($7.95) New to Top 50 – A dependable versatile table red for a wide variety of dishes at a great price.

Spadafora Terrano Rosso 2012, Calabria. Italy ($8.15 + 3 BAMs) Top 50 June – A juicy well balanced southern Italian red for burgers or grilled sausages.

Fuzion Alta Reserva Malbec 2013 Mendoza, Argentina ($8.95 was $9.95) New to Top 50 – A soft fruity malbec that’s well balanced. Chill a little and try with pizza.

Fonseca Periquita 2012, Peninsula De Setubal, Portugal ($8.95 + 5BAMs) Top 50 June – A perennial favourite that keeps on delivering. It’s a midweight dry red that works well with lamb cutlets.

Spadafora Terrano Rosso 2012 Fuzion Alta Reserva Malbec 2013 Fonseca Periquita 2012 Mezzomondo Negroamaro 2013

Mezzomondo Negroamaro 2013, Salento, Puglia, Italy ($8.95) New to Top 50 – The 2013 now comes with a convenient screwtop. Same great value for a balanced fruity dry red for many food choices.

Bodegas Volcanes de Chile Summit Reserva Cabernet Syrah 2013 Rapel Valley, Chile ($9.95 + 7BAMs) – A midweight to full bodied juicy red at a great price. Grown on volcanic soils which adds to great its purity of flavour.

Santa Julia Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 Mendoza, Argentina ($10.95 was $12.95) New to Top 50 – A structured ripe fragrant cabernet that is cellar worthy, but you can also enjoy now with a steak after an hour in a decanter.

Guardian Reserva Red 2013, Colchagua Valley, Chile ($11.60 was $13.60) New to Top 50 – A complex red cabernet blend finely balanced with a fruity long lingering finish with some fine tannin. Try with a steak.

Bodegas Volcanes de Chile Summit Reserva Cabernet Syrah 2013 Santa Julia Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 Guardian Reserva Red 2013The Wolftrap Syrah Mourvedre Viognier 2013 Quinta Do Valdoeiro Baga Cabernet Sauvignon Syrah 2011

The Wolftrap Syrah Mourvedre Viognier 2013, Western Cape, South Africa ($12.95 was 13.95) Top 50 June – A red blend from the Cape that captures the essence of a Rhone red. Try with BBQ meats.

Quinta Do Valdoeiro Baga, Cabernet Sauvignon & Syrah 2011 Bairrada Portugal ($12.95) New to Top 50 – A fresh lively blend of the indigenous grape baga with two other grapes. Try with roast meats.


Citra Trebbiano D’Abruzzo 2013, Abruzzo, Italy ($7.75 + 4BAMs) – A ripe fruity white with a good depth of flavour and good palate length for such an inexpensive white.

Cono Sur Bicicleta Viognier 2014, Colchagua Valley Chile ($9.95 + 5BAMs) Top 50 June – An inexpensive fragrant white. Enjoy as an aperitif or with mildly flavoured seafood or white meat dishes.

Caliterra Sauvignon Blanc Reserva 2014 Casablanca Valley, Chile ($9.95 + 4BAMs) – A well priced fresh sauvignon with a fragrant nose. Try with grilled chicken or sautéed seafood.

Citra Trebbiano D'abruzzo 2013Cono Sur Bicicleta Viognier 2014 Caliterra Sauvignon Blanc Reserva 2014 Folonari Soave 2013 Errazuriz Estate Sauvignon Blanc 2014 Marqués De Riscal 2014, Rueda

Folonari Soave 2013, Veneto, Italy ($9.95 + 5BAMs) – A classic Italian white with delicate aromas and a juicy midweight palate. Try as an alternative to pinot grigio.

Errazuriz Estate Sauvignon Blanc 2014 Aconcagua Valley, Chile ($10.95 was $12.95) New to Top 50 – A cool coastal sauvignon with good varietal character. Try with sautéed scallops with a lemongrass dressing or creamy goats cheese salad.

Marqués De Riscal 2014, Rueda, Spain ($11.60 + 4BAMs) New to Top 50 – A delicious bright crisp fresh white with a very inviting fruity nose. Try with seafood.

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

Top 20 Under 20There are three ways that a wine gets into this monthly report of wines that are always in the stores either in the LCBO Wines section 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.

The Rest of Steve’s Top 50

In addition to the wines mentioned above, there are another 37 wines on the Top 50 list this month. So if you did not find all you need in this report, dip into the Top 50 LCBO and VINTAGES Essentials wines. There will surely be something inexpensive that suits your taste.

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

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

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


Steve Thurlow

Top 20 Under $20
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!

Catena Malbec High Mountain Vines 2013

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Le charme concret de la bourgeoisie

Hors des sentiers battus19 juin 2015

par Marc Chapleau

Marc Chapleau

Marc Chapleau

J’arrive de Bordeaux, où j’avais été invité pour présider le jury de la Coupe 2015 des crus bourgeois.

Quand on m’a demandé de prendre la parole lors de la remise du prix au gagnant (excellent et solide Château Lilian Ladouys), j’ai entre autres parlé du bordeaux bashing qui est à la mode, depuis quelques années.

En gros, ai-je laissé tomber du haut de ma tribune, et surtout à notre époque où le vin « nature », le plus dépouillé possible, a la cote, le bordeaux rouge, c’est ringard. Style : « Quoi ! Ta cave est pour moitié composée de bordeaux ! Arrive au 21e siècle, pépère ! »

Il est vrai qu’avec les prix éhontés commandés par les plus prestigieux grands crus classés et tout le bling-bling qui y est associé, le jet-set, la chasse à courre et tout ça, on est plusieurs à en avoir ras le bol d’être les dindons de la farce.

Sauf que… tout Bordeaux ne rime pas avec vie de château et aristocrates à gogo.

Bruno Segond - Chateau LousteauneufIl s’en trouve, j’en ai rencontré quelques-uns, qui n’ont pas l’air tout frais débarqués des pages du Paris-Match. Des vignerons ordinaires, passionnés, pas nécessairement pauvres, n’exagérons rien, mais pas hyper-friqués non plus. L’impression, quand on arrive chez eux, d’être tout sauf à Bordeaux – au sens où on l’entend souvent, c’est-à-dire dans un lieu empreint de glamour et souvent aussi d’ostentation, qui Latour, qui Margaux, qui Haut-Brion.

[photo : Bruno Segond, vigneron du Médoc et amoureux du Québec, propriétaire du Château Lousteauneuf, dont on trouve le 2010 actuellement à la SAQ. ]

Parmi ces propriétés plus abordables, plus accessibles, beaucoup de crus bourgeois. Désormais obligés de passer par la certification chaque année, alors que leurs illustres congénères grands crus classés se reposent pour ainsi dire sur leurs lauriers – depuis 1855.

On retrouve ces châteaux qui font partie de l’Alliance des crus bourgeois pour l’essentiel dans le Médoc et le Haut-Médoc, ainsi qu’en appellation communale, par exemple à Margaux et à Saint-Estèphe.

Il y en a beaucoup de ces crus bourgeois, et même trop : en 2012, le dernier millésime qui a été certifié, pas moins de 267. On s’en réjouit, le choix est légion, mais est-ce que cela ne dilue pas l’image de marque, la crédibilité ? Je ne suis pas le premier à poser la question, et un certain débat s’est enclenché là-bas, au sein du regroupement.


Quoi qu’il en soit, le terrain de jeu est grand, l’amateur a l’embarras du choix. L’avantage principal, le prix. Alors que les quelque 60 grands crus classés commandent un prix moyen plutôt olé olé, celui des crus bourgeois est de beaucoup inférieur. Ici, au Québec, il se situe dans la fourchette 20 $ à 40 $, plus ou moins.

Véronique Courrian - Château Tour Haut- CassanAutre immense atout : ils sont plus rapidement prêts à boire et néanmoins capables de vieillir une bonne dizaine d’années, voire plus. Témoin des 2005 goûtés sur place la semaine dernière ouverts, très convaincants, et des 2001 et 2000 tout à fait à point, encore bien en vie et en fruit.

[Photo : Véronique Courrian, du Château Tour Haut- Cassan (ses 2009 et 2010 sont à la SAQ), qui fait aussi une fameuse tarte au citron… ]

Tout ce qui précède ne revient pas à dire qu’il faut bouder les étiquettes bordelaises les plus prestigieuses, surtout si nos finances le permettent.

Mais un cellier bien construit, à côté de quelques grosses quilles à ouvrir lors d’occasions spéciales, contient tout plein de bons vins à la fois assez corsés, délicieusement tanniques, avec une acidité bien marquée et un mariage bois-fruit des plus réussis.

Pour ça, si on cherche, on n’hésite pas : la famille des crus bourgeois est toute trouvée.

À boire, aubergiste !

Parmi les crus bourgeois présentement disponibles à la SAQ et que j’ai goûtés, voici des suggestions.

Château La Branne 2009 : Un bon cru bourgeois du Médoc, concentré et charpenté, d’une savoureuse générosité. Prix (21 $) attractif.

Château d’Arche 2009 : Très bon bordeaux rouge, goûteux et aux tannins serrés, ainsi que d’une persistance notable.

Château La Branne 2009 Château d'Arche Cru Bourgeois 2009 Château Bernadotte 2009 Château Lestage 2009

Château Bernadotte 2009 : Corsé et généreux, bien soutenu par l’acidité et des tannins relativement serrés. Le bois est marqué, mais l’équilibre est là, ainsi qu’un certain potentiel.

Château Lestage 2009 : Relativement fin, concentré, aux tannins marqués mais de qualité, pas astringents. Le boisé est marqué, cela dit, soyez prévenus.

Château Loudenne 2010 : Serré et texturé, même relativement élégant, au boisé appuyé mais plutôt bien intégré. Déjà accessible, belle fraîcheur, et se conservera aisément jusqu’en 2020.

Château d’Escurac 2010 : Un médoc plus « sauvage » que, par exemple, le Loudenne, concentré et relativement tannique ainsi qu’un peu capiteux (14,5 % d’alcool). Bénéficiera d’être attendu encore deux ou trois ans.

Château Loudenne 2010 Chateau d'Escurac 2010 Château Fonréaud 2010 Château Lilian Ladouys 2010

Château Fonréaud 2010 : Fruit mûr au nez, excellente acidité en bouche, saveurs à peine corsées, légèrement astringentes, moyennement concentrées.

Château Lilian-Ladouys 2010 – le gagnant, avec son millésime 2012 de la toute dernière Coupe des crus bourgeois, et en passant, pour mémoire, on prononce la-dou-isse : Pour l’heure bien boisé, même très boisé, au point où l’on se demande si cela ne va pas s’assécher. Le nez est beau par contre, invitant, avec du fruit. Donnons-lui le bénéfice du doute.

Osoyoos Larose Le Grand Vin 2010UN PIRATE !

Et maintenant, je triche, mais voilà, j’avais inséré ce rouge de l’Okanagan dans la série de crus bourgeois pour voir de quel bois il se chauffait et vu qu’il ne se cache pas de vouloir en quelque sorte imiter les bons rouges du Bordelais.

Résultat ? Pari tenu pour le Osoyoos-Larose Le Grand Vin 2010, l’un des beaux Osoyoos de ces dernières années, goûté au milieu de la série de bordeaux et qui n’a pas démérité. Beau fruit au nez et en bouche, mais boisé marqué, et concentration moyenne. L’équilibre et la fraîcheur demeurent, tout de même. Devrait se conserver encore trois ou quatre ans.

Bonne dégustation !


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 !

Wolf Blass - S'elever tourjours plus haut


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Buyers’ Guide to VINTAGES June 27 – Part One

Pan-Am Wines; WineAlign’s Favourites of Customer Favourites
By John Szabo MS, with notes from Sara d’Amato and David Lawrason

John Szabo, MS

John Szabo, Master Sommelier

The Pan Am games are virtually upon the Golden Horseshoe. The 1.5 billion-dollar event has impacted the region significantly, motivating many infrastructure improvements like multiple sports venues, a long-overdue rail connection to Pearson, new HOV lanes, and a prettied-up Queen’s Quay. The games have even influenced the wine selections arriving in Ontario on June 27th. But the LCBO’s selection of Pan-AM-themed wines stack the odds in favour of the powerhouse countries and give little hope for the emerging ones.

It’s a shame that the elite competitors from little-known wine producing countries like Uruguay, Brazil and Mexico weren’t invited to compete against perennial favourites from Canada, the US, Chile and Argentina. Instead, those marginalized countries are represented only by their second-string wines, unprepared for international competition. If one of the goals of the thematic, as for the games, is to introduce us to the new stars and to expand Pan-American cultural awareness and respect, I’m afraid spectator-drinkers will go home with prejudices fully intact.

Rather than one of southern Brazil’s very good sparkling wines (Chandon Brazil, Cave Geisse, Vallontano?), we’re offered instead a weak and bony, fleshless, amateur bubbly from the cooperative Aurora Winery, which, according to their website, is “the largest of its kind in Brazil and produces beverages [my emphasis] to suit all tastes and occasions”. Hardly an inspiring training motto for the factory’s winemakers. But for $13.95, all you can expect is the regional high school team, not the world cup squad.

Uruguay with its flag-waving tannat grape has countless potential medal-winning entries, but it didn’t even qualify. Instead we have Del Pedregal’s bench-warming Cabernet Sauvignon, perfectly serviceable, worthy perhaps of a participation ribbon, but definitely not starting-team, medal material (Del Pedregal’s tannat wins all the medals). And Mexico, well, Mexico should have stayed home altogether. In a retirement home. Washed-up and oxidized, Freixenet de México’s entry should be watching the games from a reclining armchair. Is this really the best Mexico has to offer?

In the end, none of these countries will walk away with any new fans. And that’s the shame. It’s hardly a fair reflection of their sporting potential.

You could of course argue that no one will pay a high-priced ticket to see an unknown country perform, even if it’s the best in the event-category. And you’d probably be right. Stocking the LCBO shelves with expensive oddities is not smart planning, unless there’s an enthusiastic mascot on hand at every venue who can sell the ticket. But then again, if the proper infrastructure isn’t in place, then maybe the LCBO shouldn’t have been awarded the games at all. The risk of misrepresenting emerging countries is high.

So if you are going to the games on the 27th, preserve your unsullied impression of the mystery entries by keeping them a mystery, and go straight to see the marquee performers. The WineAlign odds-makers have lined up the top contenders from Canada, Chile, the US and Argentina, where medal chances are high.

The other theme of the release is “Customer Favourites”, a straightforward selection based on what has sold well in the past. These are the wines that you’ve voted for. This week’s report covers our favourites out of your favourite white wines (along with a handful of other irresistible wines that we’ll boldly predict as “future customer favourites”), while reds will be covered next week along with David’s lead-off on Canada’s finest for our national day.

Buyers’ Guide to Pan-American Wines

Montes Alpha 2012 Carmenère Colchagua Valley Chile ($19.95)

John Szabo – A big and muscular, Pan Am sumo wrestler of a wine with soft midsection, yet sufficient acids to keep the masses of fruit from falling out of the ring. Best 2015-2020.

Viña San Pedro 2012 1865 Single Vineyard Syrah, Cachapoal Valley, Chile ($19.95)

Sara D’Amato – A syrah that knocks it out of the park with perky peppercorn and notes of juicy black currants on its compelling palate that is sure to prove a backyard barbecue favourite.

Trapiche 2011 Fincas Las Palmas Gran Reserva Malbec, Uco Valley, Mendoza, Argentina ($16.95)

David Lawrason – This is impressively deep, full and flavourful for the money – a hefty Argentine malbec that manages some complexity. As the largest and one of the oldest wineries in Mendoza, some might categorize Trapiche as old school – but I rather like the inbred oak driven complexity. A grilling red.

Montes Alpha Carmenère 2012 Viña San Pedro 1865 Single Vineyard Syrah 2012 Trapiche Fincas Las Palmas Gran Reserva Malbec 2011 Sperling Vineyards Gewurztraminer 2013 Colomé Torrontés 2013

2013 Sperling Gewurztraminer, BC VQA Okanagan Valley, Canada ($28.95)

John Szabo – A sprightly, energetic, more hundred-meter-dash-than-marathoner of a wine in the gewürztraminer context. It’s marvellously aromatic in the varietal style, but much crisper, drier and firmer than the mean.
Sara D’Amato – A stunningly elegant gewürztraminer which features well-balanced, bright acids to counteract the characteristic fatness common to the varietal.  For a cross-cultural, Pan Am treat, try with a slightly spicy chile relleno.

Colomé 2013 Torrontés, Calchaquí Valley, Salta, Salta, Argentina ($13.95)

Sara D’Amato – From the world’s most elevated concentration of vineyards comes a smart and poised but characteristically value-priced torrontés. A restrained floral component and vibrant palate make for a widely appealing, easy summer sipper.
David Lawrason – Gran Altura is harvested at three different altitudes between 1800 and 3100 metres (which is lofty even for Argentina standards). The result is a delicacy and finesse rarely encountered in this show-off, highly aromatic variety. And at this price it’s amazing value. Make sure you chill well for garden sipping. Ideal for ceviche.

Our Favourites of Your Favourites Part One: White Wines

La Crema 2013 Chardonnay Monterey, California, USA ($26.95)

John Szabo – La Crema has slowly but surely been tightening the screws on their chardonnays, and while even the Monterey bottling, typically the tightest of La Crema’s range, wouldn’t have been among my favorites even just a few years ago, the 2013 hits the right balance. It’s still very much California, but happily tweaked for freshness and extended shelf-life. Best now-2023.

Casas Del Bosque Reserva Sauvignon Blanc 2014 Featherstone Sauvignon Blanc 2013 La Crema Monterey Chardonnay 20132013 Featherstone Sauvignon Blanc VQA Twenty Mile Bench, Niagara Peninsula, Canada ($17.95)

John Szabo – Featherstone, too, steps into my favourites line-up for the first time, with this strong 2013 sauvignon release. I like the mix of guava/passion fruit inflected with subdued herbal-grassy character, and the honest dusty-chalky finish. Just feels right.
Sara D’Amato – Don’t expect a grassy New Zealand style of sauvignon blanc nor a riper California fumé but rather a uniquely Niagara style with great balance and appeal. Sourced from grapes at peak ripeness, this mid-priced sauvignon blanc exhibits surprising viscosity and staying power with the refreshing flavours of cooler tropical fruits such as pineapple and passion fruit.

Casas Del Bosque 2014 Reserva Sauvignon Blanc, Casablanca Valley, Chile ($13.95)

David Lawrason – The world is increasingly dividing into three camps when it comes to sauvignon blanc, and given the time of year let’s call them summer camps – Camp Oh So Green, Camp Cool by the Lake, and Camp Deep in the Woods.  This is a New Zealand-inspired Camp Oh So Green blaster with intense capsicum, celery, dill on the nose and palate. A bit much for some, but a huge flavour hit for $13.95.

“Future Favourites” Part One: White Wines

Ken Forrester 2014 Old Vine Reserve Chenin Blanc, Stellenbosch, South Africa ($17.95)

John Szabo – I’m delighted to see the return of this excellent value from Forrester, my pick for a future Vintages favourite. The 2014 is a particularly steely and mineral version, still at least a year or two away from prime drinking, but this has the depth and stuffing to go the distance. Best 2016-2024.
Sara D’Amato – This exceptional chenin blanc has been a WineAlign favourite since 2009. Each subsequent vintage has been hit after hit – a testament to the consistency of the wines from this internationally acclaimed producer. This substantial and complex example of a variety that has found unique expression in South Africa delivers a great deal of impact for a petite price.

Flor De Vetus 2013 Verdejo, old vines from Segovia, DO Rueda Spain ($15.95)

John Szabo –  Verdejo has the (unfortunate) tendency to turn into a Delmonte tropical fruit cup, but not so this example, from several old parcels all above 850 meters in the western corner of Rueda. It’s unusually subdued, with lovely cut and dense texture on the palate, and the sort of energy and depth that’s uncommon at this price. This is much more about stony-salty-mineral flavours than fruit, yet neither lean nor shrill, which is nice.

Ken Forrester Old Vine Reserve Chenin Blanc 2014 Flor De Vetus Verdejo 2013 Marrenon Doria Luberon 2012 Château Saint Genès 2013 Monte Del Frá Ca' Del Magro 2012

Marrenon 2012 Doria Luberon, Rhône, France ($17.95)

John Szabo – An excellent wine from the extensive Marrenon coop (1200 members farming over 7,000 hectares!). This is one of their top whites made from selected parcels, a blend of Vermentino (rolle), grenache blanc and a splash of Roussanne, harvested late and vinified together. The result is an engagingly floral wine with fully ripe orchard fruit (peaches, apricots), and gentle but fresh, palpably chalky palate. 20% barrel fermentation goes virtually unnoticed, save for the textural creaminess. I’d love to see more wines like this, especially at the price.
David Lawrason – This is a classy, understated summer white from vineyards on the clay limestone slopes of the Luberon in southern France. The estate was founded in 1966 by Petula Garcia , a wealthy Brazilian who fell in love with the Provence countryside (as wealthy people often do). This is a fresh, slender blend peachy white made from  60% vermentino, 30% grenache blanc and 10% roussanne.

Château Saint Genès 2013, Bordeaux Blanc, France

David Lawrason – This is a fine little value in white Bordeaux, blending semillon and sauvignon blanc. Often white Bordeaux is barrel-aged but if there is oak here it’s very discreet indeed. It’s from a property in the Cotes de Blaye, where vines are grown on gravelled soils with limestone underpinning. Lovely precision!

Monte Del Frá 2012 Ca’ Del Magro, Custoza Superiore, Veneto, Italy   ($17.95)

David Lawrason – Made from local varieties that grow in low-yielding vineyards on the slopes above of Lago do Garda, this a subtle, fresh young white that would work very nicely on the shore of your lake as well. Or by the pool. It reminds of a mid-weight Soave with subtle aromas of peach, yellow flowers and almond. Nicely made by one of my favourite houses of Italy’s northeast.

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

From VINTAGES June 27th, 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!

Castello Di Gabbiano Chianti Classico Riserva 2011

International Cool Climate Chardonnay Celebration

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British Columbia Critics’ Picks June 2015

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. 

We’re filing these picks this week with one eye on The Nationals, starting shortly. While many in June are anticipating the end of the school year and the start of summer holidays, we’re gearing up for a week of intensive Canadian wine ‘studies’ in Niagara and meeting 1500 or so Canadian wines (plus our cross-Canada colleagues and our international honourary Canuck, Dr. Jamie Goode). Since Anthony is busy prepping the back room, flights, scores and entries, he will not be submitting his top three wines this month for WineAlign West June Critics’ Picks. That said, follow him and our entire WineAlign judging crew on Twitter and Instagram (#NWAC15) for our favourite wines and flight insights in real time, starting next Tuesday, June 23.

Cheers ~ TR

BC Critic Team

Rhys Pender, MW

There are so many great and interesting wines out there it really is amazing what we can find. However, there are also a lot of very uninteresting wines out there that offer zero excitement – we wade through those for you. Fortunately for all of us, it is challenging to pick three monthly critics picks because there are many wines that thrill and energize every month. This isn’t just about expensive, well-known wines but often about those that either do something a little different or are just simply delicious.

Orofino Scout Vineyard Syrah 2014 Juan Gil Monastrell 2012 Elixir Côtes De Provence 2014My first pick is a wine that everyone who wants to understand rosé should taste. It is from Provence, it is bone dry, it is delicious and I probably could drink it endlessly all summer. It is Elixir Côtes De Provence 2014.

The second is a wine that I was lucky enough to enjoy on the same day after the rosé just mentioned. It was evening now, the sun had dropped, I was sitting outside looking at the pink clouded dusk and there was a bit of chill to the air. Jumilla from Spain is often so warming and rich and when it is old vines from a good chalky vineyard it manages to be rich and mineral at the same time. The Juan Gil 2012 has pulled this off nicely.

Another exciting thing about picking these wines is new discoveries, and in particular, bold wineries trying things to make something special. Orofino vineyards in Cawston has produced something very special. They took some of the top quality syrah from Scout Vineyard in Cawston and put it in raw concrete from Osoyoos and let it ferment wild without any interference from oak. Orofino 2014 Wild Ferment Syrah is amazingly fresh, textural and complex and worth seeking out because it is so wonderfully drinkable and “good” different. And they didn’t make very much of it (available directly from the winery).

DJ Kearney

Marchand and Burch Mount Barrow Pinot Noir 2012

Howling Bluff Summa Quies Pinot Noir 2012

Domaine Du Dragon Cuvée Prestige Rosé 2014I’ve been sipping many interesting bottles at tastings in Vancouver (and at home), including lovely, stony classic rosés from Provence. I love the evocative name of Domaine du Dragon Côtes de Provence ‘Cuvée Prestige’ 2014, and the savoury austerity and grip of this almost all-cinsault rosé. Crusty baguette, salty tapenade and a slight chill on the wine is perfect for la nuit blanche.

Then two pinots… the Howling Bluff Summa Quies Pinot Noir 2012 is beautifully in tune now, with emphatic fruit and a gutsy Burgundian flair. It’s a sockeye salmon-worthy wine with bright cherry flavours, subtle tannins and juicy acidity.

Marchand & Burch Mount Barrow Pinot Noir 2012 is a wine I have tasted twice this year and each time been enchanted. Textured, woodsy and vinous, it’s got a stellar pedigree, a killer Art Nouveau label, and duck written all over it.

Treve Ring

Like my colleagues above, I’m seeing this heat wave through rose coloured (wine) glasses. One of my favourite BC rosés from last year thankfully pulled a repeat with their latest vintage. Lock & Worth Cabernet Franc Rosé 2014 has the same palest hue, delicate wild strawberries, minerality and orange pith I recall, though with a touch more padding on the mid palate this year. Welcome maturity, finesse and drinkability.

Weingut Bründlmayer Kamptaler Terrassen Grüner Veltliner 2009 Devil's Corner Pinot Noir 2014 Lock & Worth Cabernet Franc Rosé 2014Always exciting to see a Tasmanian wine on our shelves, and even more so when it’s this delish. Devil’s Corner Tasmania Pinot Noir 2014. With Intoxicating florals, exotic spices, minerality, iron, dried forest and a fresh palate textured with stony grip, this savoury wine is a fantastic new addition to our market.

Some times you’re in the mood for light and quaffable, and sometimes you’re in the mood for serious, contemplative, can’t-look-away wine. Weingut Bründlmayer Kamptaler Terrassen Grüner Veltliner 2009 is definitely the latter. Now with a bit of age (and fortunately a vintage still found on our shelves), this wine shows Brundlmayer’s strength in consistently crafting complex and mineral-driven grüner veltliner, built to age. A complex stunner – especially when poured with herb, fennel and white wine-laced moules frites.


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.

Wolf Blass Yellow Label Cabernet Sauvignon 2013

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Season 5, Table 9 of “So, You Think you Know Wine?”

The Root: 1 Carmenère (a.k.a. It’s Chile in Here)

The oh-so serious sport of wine tasting is receiving a major reality check in Season 5 of WineAlign’s “So, You Think You Know Wine?”. Without any clues, host Seán Cullen takes each table through the swirling, sniffing, and gurgling ritual of wine tasting – asking them to correctly identify the grape, country, region, vintage, and price of the wine.

Table 9 brings together David Lawrason, Bill Zacharkiw, and Zoltan Szabo to up-root the secrets of this red wine. Zoltan leads off with a strong opinion on country, but it’s the value quotient that fools everyone on this little bargain.

Tensions are mounting as the scores have now been released. ONLY the top six will advance to the playoffs. Here’s a look at how the contestants are doing so far, not including today’s episode.

Click here to watch Table 9 or read on to learn more about the contestants and the scoring method.

Score Card:

Score up to Table 8

Table 9

As always, the video series brings together Canada’s top wine experts, but this time a few well-known food personalities have taken on the daunting task of competing against wine critics, sommeliers, and wine educators.

David Lawrason

David is a principal critic and VP of Wine for WineAlign. He is also co-head judge for the National Wine Awards of Canada and the World Wine Awards of Canada. He is wine columnist for Toronto Life and Ottawa magazine, a WSET instructor with Fine Vintage Ltd, and National Wine Advisor to Gold Medal Plates, a chef competition held in ten cities that raises funds for Canada’s Olympic and Paralympic athletes. He also reviews Ontario wines for

David Lawrason

Bill Zacharkiw

Bill is a partner and principal critic at Chacun son vin. His writing career began in 2004 with The Caveman’s Wine Blog, one of the first on the internet. For the last 5 years he has been the weekly wine writer for the Montreal Gazette. His articles are carried across Canada via and other newspapers. Bill can be heard on CHOM FM (Montreal) every Friday morning to talk about Wine that Rocks.

Bill Zacharkiw

Zoltan Szabo

Zoltan has worked in the hospitality industry for two decades and on three continents.  He worked his way up from dishwasher to sommelier to general manager.  Nowadays he’s a consultant, wine judge, educator, and journalist. In 2009, he won the title of Grand Champion in the prestigious Wine Tasting Challenge.

Zoltan Szabo

The Scoring

The scoring on each wine remains similar to past seasons with points for Variety, Country, Region, Appellation, Vintage and Price.

Variety:  3 points
Country, Region, Appellation:  up to 4 points
Vintage:  up to 2 points
Price (within 10% on either side): 1 point

Let the games begin! Pour yourself a glass of wine and watch table 8.

For those of you new to our video series, “So, You Think You Know Wine?”, we have saved all previous episodes under the Videos tab.

Previously on Season 5 of “So, You Think You Know Wine?”:

Table 1 – Wolf Blass Gold Label Chardonnay 2013
Table 2 – Creekside Sauvignon Blanc 2013
Table 3 – Catena Cabernet Sauvignon 2012
Table 4 – The Grinder Pinotage 2013
Table 5 – Faustino VII Tempranillo 2012
Table 6 – Gnarly Head Pinot Noir 2012
Table 7 – Laroche Chablis St. Martin 2012
Table 8 – Gabbiano Chianti Classico Riserva 2010

We hope that you find this new series entertaining and that you have as much fun watching as we did filming. As usual, please send your comments to and feel free to share this video with your friends and family.

Special thanks to our glassware sponsor, Schott Zwiesel, for their beautiful glasses and carafes used during filming.

Balderson Cheese

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Les choix de Nadia pour juin

Éloge du vin blanc
par Nadia Fournier

Nadia Fournier - New - Cropped

Nadia Fournier

Je vous écris cette semaine depuis la Grèce. Le soleil plombe, la mer est d’un bleu turquoise, l’accueil est chaleureux, les pieuvres sèchent sur les cordes à linge et les vins sont délicieux. Ce n’est pas pour vous embêter que je vous raconte tout ça, mais pour une petite mise en contexte.

Hier soir, avec mes compagnons de voyage, nous nous sommes rendus dans une taberna où nous attendait un couple de vignerons de l’Attique, ainsi que le meilleur agneau que j’aie goûté depuis longtemps. Il y avait bien quelques vins rouges sur la table pour accompagner la bête – du cabernet même –, mais à mon avis, les mariages les plus intéressants se déclinaient en une autre couleur. Mes coups de cœur de la soirée : Savatiano 2011 et Retsina du Domaine Papagiannakos. Deux vins blancs. Et il ne s’agit pas d’exceptions.

Il y a maintenant quelques années que je multiplie les essais d’accords entre les viandes rouges grillées et les vins blancs et je continue d’être surprise par les résultats. Mon meilleur match jusqu’à présent demeure l’Assyrtiko Estate du Domaine Argyros, servi avec des côtelettes d’agneau et du steak de veau grillé. Un pur régal!

Estate Argyros Assyrtiko 2013 Papagiannakos Savatiano 2014En gros, si je prends la peine de vous dire ça c’est que la semaine dernière encore, j’étais dans une succursale de la SAQ et j’ai entendu des amies débattre du choix de vin pour accompagner le repas sur le barbecue. L’une ayant envie de boire du blanc; l’autre arguant que « du blanc avec des steaks, ça n’avait pas d’allure ».

Et pourquoi pas? Soit, on chante toujours les louanges des tanins pour soutenir les protéines d’une viande saignante, mais aucun accord classique ne devrait nous contraindre à boire un vin dont on n’a pas soif.

Bref, si tout comme moi, le retour des journées chaudes vous donne plus envie de vin blanc que de rouge tannique, je vous incite à faire confiance à votre instinct. Les vins blancs sont souvent beaucoup plus solides et beaucoup plus polyvalents qu’on ne le croirait.

Défiez donc les conventions, écoutez votre soif. 

Soif de blanc

Introduits pour la plupart dans la dernière promotion Cellier, une série de bons vins blancs d’été qui feront votre bonheur à table ou à l’apéritif. 

À vue de nez, on pourrait craindre un excès de soufre dans ce vin de Monacesca di Cifola, mais il n’en est rien. Le Verdicchio di Matelica 2012 offre plutôt une expression minérale, qui rappelle la nature volcanique des sols de la région. Un vin blanc de caractère, arrondi par un léger reste de sucre qui atténue son caractère tranchant.

Sur un mode un peu moins minéral et un peu plus nourri que la moyenne de l’appellation Verdicchio Dei Castelli di Jesi Classico 2012, La Staffa Rincrocca de Riccardo Baldi est à la fois sec et friand, bien mûr, mais harmonieux. À servir frais, mais pas froid.

Poursuivons dans la minéralité avec un très bon Riesling 2013, Mosel de Mönchhof. Léger comme une plume (9 % d’alcool) et plein de vitalité, il donne l’impression de croquer dans une pomme verte bien juteuse. 

La Monacesca Verdicchio Di Matelica 2012La Staffa Rincrocca Verdicchio Dei Castelli Di Jesi Classico 2012Mönchhof Mosel Qualitätswein Riesling 2013Schreckbichl Colterenzio Pinot Grigio 2012Au Bon Climat Pinot Gris 2013La Moussière Sancerre 2014

Co-op fondée en 1960 par une trentaine de vignerons italiens, Colterenzio regroupe aujourd’hui plus de 300 producteurs et 300 hectares de vignes, dont elle tire le Pinot Grigio 2013 Südtirol Alto Adige. Un pinot grigio plus substantiel que la moyenne, pas exubérant, mais passe-partout et idéal à l’apéritif. 

Nettement plus ample et généreusement nourri par le soleil de la Californie, le Pinot gris – Pinot blanc 2013 Santa Barbara de Jim Clendenen (Au Bon Climat) présente une attaque en bouche franche et nerveuse, mais aussi une texture onctueuse qui se mariera à ravir avec des côtelettes de porc grillées.

Dans un tout autre registre, infiniment plus subtil, complexe et nuancé, La Moussière 2014 est un pur régal. Bien plus que du sauvignon blanc, plutôt une expression pure et racée du terroir de Sancerre. L’effet de la biodynamie? Peut-être bien, affirmait Alphonse Mellot, de passage à Montréal il y a quelques semaines pour présenter une verticale de la cuvée emblématique du domaine. « Ces 15 dernières années en biodynamie nous ont permis de gagner en pureté et en profondeur et de développer ce côté salin qui fait saliver. » De 2014 à 2000, tous les vins dégustés avaient en commun une solide assise en bouche, une certaine intensité contenue et un équilibre exemplaire. Le 2000, étonnamment jeune, n’accusait pas la moindre fatigue. Mon conseil : achetez-en six bouteilles pour la cave. Votre patiente sera récompensée.

Un peu de couleur, quand même

En plus de contribuer au succès de Bellavista à titre d’oenologue, Mattia Vezzola veille sur Costaripa, la propriété qu’avait fondée son grand-père sur les rives du lac de Garde, où il élabore quelques vins effervescents, ainsi que le RosaMara 2014 Valtènesi (19,95 $), un savoureux rosé, composé de groppello, de sangiovese, de marzemino et de barbera.

On retiendra aussi le Rosé 2014 de la gamme Chartier, Créateur d’Harmonies. Fruit d’un assemblage de cinsault et de grenache, coloré, mais parfaitement sec, avec de bons goûts de fruits qu’une amertume élégante rehausse en finale.

Encore plus abordable, le Château La Lieue rosé 2014 (16,90 $) est d’une qualité irréprochable cette année encore. Issu de l’agriculture biologique, léger comme une plume, mais loin d’être faible en saveurs.

Costaripa Rosamara 2014Chartier Créateur D'harmonies Le Rosé 2014Château La Lieue Coteaux Varois En Provence 2014Domaine Ruet La Fontenelle Chiroubles 2013Affinato In Carati Scavino Barbera d'Alba 2012Bela Voda Vin Rouge 2012

Enfin, dans le dernier Cellier, les inconditionnels de vins rouges voudront aussi mettre la main sur le Chiroubles 2013 La Fontenelle du Domaine Ruet. De style plus charnu que la plupart des vins de Chiroubles, mais non moins savoureux et digeste. 

De la maison Paolo Scavino, le Barbera d’Alba 2012, Affinato in Cara (26,05 $) est un excellent vin rouge de facture moderne, ample et riche de goûts de fruits mûrs; pas très corsé, mais plein de vivacité et assez long en bouche.

Envie d’exotisme, il vous faut absolument goûter le Tikves Bela Voda 2012, de Macédoine. Fruit d’un assemblage de plavec et de vranec, un croisement entre deux vieilles variétés dalmatiennes. Bonne mâche tannique, grain assez ferme, enrobé d’une chair fruitée mûre qui plaira à la fois aux amateurs de vins européens et du Nouveau monde.


Présentation dela fonction CELLIER

Nouvel arrivage CELLIERAfin de vous guider encore mieux dans vous achats et faciliter vos emplettes, nous avons ajouté une fonction spéciale au site Chacun son vin pour nos membres Privilège.

Chaque fois que la SAQ met en vente ces nouveaux arrivages, vous n’aurez qu’à visiter notre site et cliquer sur l’onglet «Vin» puis sur «Nouvel arrivage CELLIER», dans le menu déroulant. Aussi simple que cela !

Vous pourrez ainsi lire mes notes de dégustation sur tous les vins du CELLIER, en un seul et même endroit.


Nadia Fournier

Cellier 04 juin et 11 juin

Note de la rédaction: 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 somme de 40 $ par année. (Les membres inscrits bénéficiant d’un accès gratuit doivent, pour leur part, attendre 60 jours avant de pouvoir accéder à tout notre contenu.)

Wolf Blass Yellow Label Cabernet Sauvignon 2013

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Buyers’ Guide to VINTAGES June 13 – Part Two

Best Bets for Dad and More of the Pink Stuff
By Sara d’Amato, with notes from David Lawrason and John Szabo MS

Sara d'Amato

Sara d’Amato

Although Father’s Day is the official kick-off of barbecue season, if you’re a true Canadian, you never really stopped. But surely the return of heat requires you to kick it up a notch in the refreshment category. As the rosés continue to roll out, (and they will stop, soon) we can’t get enough of their appealing, food friendly nature and their thirst-quenching properties. Once again, the majority of our picks come from the world’s most reputed pink destination, that of the south of France. The region is now producing roughly 8% of the world’s rosés which have become top priority as global demand rapidly increases. I’ll be returning to this southern destination in the next few weeks and look forward to reporting on ever-changing trends, unique finds and new ways to beat the heat.

Our Father’s Day picks encompass our most exciting finds outside of the Italian subset that was covered by John Szabo in last week’s report. A very international selection, there is sure to be something to be found for just about any personality and gifter’s price range. One of the strongest and highest scoring categories this week are the wines from Spain and Portugal so keep an eye out for great value in this growing section. David Lawrason has just returned from both of these sunny destinations and you will surely hear more from him on this subject shortly.


Whites and Sweet

Quinta Do Alqueve 2013 Tradicional, Tejo, Portugal ($14.95)

Loveblock Sauvignon Blanc 2013 Laurent Miquel Nord Sud Viognier 2013 Quinta Do Alqueve Tradicional White 2013David Lawrason – I have just returned from Portugal where I was very impressed by the quality improvement of white wines. This beauty from a smallish family estate in Tejo (formerly Ribatejo) 40kms northeast of Lisbon explains why things are getting so interesting. It is made from local varieties – 90% fernao pires, 10% arinto grapes that were grown at low yield and hand sorted before fermentation. It reminds a bit of viognier but more compact, subdued and nuanced somehow. Very classy white at a great price.

Laurent Miquel 2013 Nord Sud Viognier, Vin De Pays d’Oc, France ($14.95)

Sara d’Amato – A great value summer white that will stand up to at least 3/4 of what you put on the barbeque. Love the ripe, fleshy appeal of this viognier which has a refreshing backbone of vibrant acids.

Loveblock 2013 Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough, New Zealand ($24.95)

David Lawrason – It’s priced a bit above the norm for Marlborough sauvignon, but the quality is there. Erica and Kim Crawford’s Loveblock property overlooks the Awatere Valley, and uses some Awatere fruit (along with Waihopai fruit) in this wine, which provides a more compact, firm frame than we often see from Marlborough. There are also intriguing fresh herb/green notes on the nose (dill, green pepper) along with lime and green apple. Its balance is the key to my recommendation.

Max Ferd. Richter 2013 Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Kabinett, Mosel, Germany ($21.95)

Patricius 5 Puttonyos Tokaji Aszú 2003 Leyda Single Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc 2014 Max Ferd. Richter Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Kabinett 2013John Szabo – I suppose I’ll never tire of recommending (and drinking) the gems from the Mosel, especially from these top vineyards that have been celebrated for about 2000 years. For me, wines like these are the white equivalents of classified Médoc or grand cru red Burgundy, only, double check the price. That’s right, only here are legendary vineyards given away for $22. Best 2015-2028.
Sara d’Amato – What a find! Think your dad doesn’t like riesling? Think again – this racy gem is sure to win him over and the price is too good to be true. This centuries’ old top site produces some of the most dynamic and exhilarating rieslings on earth.

Leyda 2014 Garuma Single Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc, Leyda Valley, Chile ($19.95)

John Szabo – A bright, punchy, crunchy Chilean sauvignon from the genuinely cool but sunny Leyda Valley. There’s plenty of vibrancy and a nice mix of citrus and passion fruit flavours with lingering acidic tang.

Patricius 2003 5 Puttonyos Tokaji Aszú, Hungary ($39.95)

John Szabo – This is the best tokaji to come into VINTAGES for as long as I can remember, and in fact one of the best sweet wines as well, even more astonishing considering the price. It’s a furmint-based, botrytis-affected wine from one of the leading producers in the region, which delivers the complexity that can only come with great wine and a dozen years in the cellar – three in barrel and the rest in bottle (a recent release). This is really pretty, fragrant and delicate, infinitely drinkable, rich but far from heavy or cloying. Try it with duck à l’orange or pork belly, and learn what all the fuss over tokaji in the last 500 years is about. Best 2015-2033.


Cara Nord 2013 Conca De Barbera, Catalonia, Spain ($19.95)
David Lawrason – Huge value here – an aromatic explosion, followed by a nervy, mouthwatering palate and excellent length. It’s a blend of grenache, syrah and 20% garrut (mourvèdre) the Rhône varieties also widely used throughout Catalonia, culminating as it were in some of the great wines of Priorat. Conca de Barbera neighbours Priorat to the northwest on the other side of the Montsant mountain range, a flatter terrain with limestone based soils instead of Priorat’s unique slate. Winemaker Tomas Cusine – who also makes Montsant DO red – is fashioning a reputation for dynamic, expressive wines, and this certainly explains his success.

Roux Père & Fils 2010 Vougeot Les Petits Vougeots 1er Cru, Burgundy, France ($74.95)

Sara d’Amato – A wine with wonderful finesse, elegance and class. Attention fans of classical music – although the wine is much too complex to find an adequate food pairing, it would match wonderfully with the restrained but twinkly and complex nature of a Mozart concerto.

Cara Nord 2013 Roux Père & Fils Vougeot Les Petits Vougeots 1er Cru 2010 Burning Kiln M 1 Merlot 2013 Catapereiro Escolha 2012

Burning Kiln 2013 M 1 Merlot, Kiln Dried, Ontario, Canada ($34.95)

Sara d’Amato – Have a dad who likes big, bold and impactful wines? Surprise him with this tobacco kiln-dried merlot made in a rich appasimento style from the emerging Ontario region of South Coast, Norfolk County. I was impressed with the presence and structure of the wine which is surprisingly not showy or overdone. Excellent with just about anything a barbecue can handle.

Catapereiro 2012 Escolha, Vinho Regional Tejo, Portugal ($15.95)

Sara d’Amato – There is such a wealth of extravagant and voluminous Portuguese and Spanish selections in this release that it was hard to find only one to put forth. Due to the excellent price/quality ratio of the Catapereiro, it wins out as the sinful find of the day.

Ninquén 2013 Antu Chilean Mountain Vineyard Syrah, Colchagua Valley, Chile ($17.95)

John Szabo – Ninquén’s Antu, from a rare volcanic mid-valley hillside site in Colchagua offers not just weight and depth, but freshness as well. For the money it’s a substantial wine, and with another 2-3 years in the cellar should evolve into an even more complex and balanced expression. Best 2015-2021.

Montebuena 2012 Cuvée KPF DOCa Rioja, Spain ($14.95)

John Szabo – Just plain tasty and lively little wine from Rioja, with real vibrancy, fresh fruit and integrated herbal spice, offering much more complexity and enjoyment than one usually finds in the price category. Serve lightly chilled and drink it up, with pleasure.

Ninquén Antu Chilean Mountain Vineyard Syrah 2013 Montebuena Cuvée K P F 2012 Two Hands Bella's Garden Shiraz 2012 Wynns Coonawarra Estate John Riddoch Cabernet Sauvignon Limited Release 2010

Two Hands 2012 Bella’s Garden Shiraz, Barossa Valley, Australia ($63.95)

David Lawrason – Come to papa for Father’s Day! This is an extraordinarily delicious red – powerful, seamless and oozing fruit. Yet so nicely nuanced, almost silky and balanced at the same time. There are six wines in Two Hand’s “Garden” series. This is sourced from several Barossa sites, open top fermented, aged 18 months in French oak (many Barossa shiraz are in American) and bottled without fining or filtration.

Wynns 2010 John Riddoch Cabernet Sauvignon, Coonawarra, Australia ($99.95)

David Lawrason – This In-Store Discovery will not be in wide distribution but is worth tracking down – a wine I rated outstanding at 95 points. I cannot think of a much more exciting and exacting expression of cabernet sauvignon, let alone Australian cabernet sauvignon. Read my tasting note for all the descriptors, but I will say here that the BLICE quality measurement elements (balance, length, intensity, complexity and expression) line up almost perfectly. Be prepared to cellar it for a while. It really is a bit too firm to fully enjoy now but I am betting it will let go by 2018 and live much longer.


Domaine De Triennes 2014 Rosé IGP Méditerranée, Provence, France ($17.95)

John Szabo – Both of my rosé picks from this release are from Provence – there’s simply nowhere else on earth that does it as consistently, and as tastily, as the South of France. This is a confident rosé, not trying too hard to please. Classically pale, essentially dry, herbal and fruity with a generous helping of complexity.

Carte Noire 2014 Rosé Côtes de Provence, France ($17.95)

John Szabo – Another arch-classic Provençal rosé, discreet, dry, light, and flavourful.

Domaine De Triennes Rosé 2014 Carte Noire Rosé 2014 Château D'aquéria Tavel Rosé 2014 Monte Zovo Bardolino Chiaretto 2014

Château D’Aquéria 2014 Tavel Rosé, Rhône, France ($21.95) (319368)

Sara d’Amato – From the world HQ of rosé, Tavel, comes the inevitable return of Château d’Aquéria on the shelves of VINTAGES. Although the quality wavers from vintage to vintage, this incarnation is in top form and well worth the penny for serious fans of the pink.

Monte Zovo 2014 Bardolino Chiaretto, Veneto, Italy ($13.95)

Sara d’Amato – On a much more playful note, this Bardolino Chiaretto, made in northeastern Italy from similar grapes that make up the wines of Valpolicella, is like a bite of cold watermelon on a hot summer’s day. Albeit dry, it provides an abundance of refreshing and inexpensive pleasure that is simply delightful.

John Szabo will be back next week reporting on our top picks from the June 27th release. Until then, stay refreshed.

Cin, Cin!


Sara d’Amato

From VINTAGES June 13th, 2015

Sara’s Sommelier Selections
Szabo’s Smart Buys
Lawrason’s Take
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!

Castello Di Gabbiano Chianti Classico Riserva 2011

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WineAlign Reviews

Coldstream Hills Pinot Noir 2008