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Pangée, monolithe et Man at Work

Soif d’ailleurs avec Nadia

Nadia Fournier - New - Cropped

Nadia Fournier

J’avais envie de vous entretenir de l’Australie depuis quelques semaines – depuis le retour du Vancouver Wine Festival, en fait –, mais je cherchais encore l’angle idéal pour aborder un sujet si vaste. Finalement, l’idée m’est venue en entendant le nom le nouveau projet de Guy Laliberté: Pangéa.

En grec, Pangée signifie « toutes les terres » et désigne le super-continent qui abritait la totalité des surfaces immergées de la Terre, il y a 225 millions d’années, avant la dérive des continents.

« Qu’est ce que Pangée a à voir avec l’Australie ? », me direz-vous. Rien, vraiment. Sinon une impression que, même aujourd’hui, le pays encore est trop souvent abordé d’un seul bloc, un immense monolithe qui couvre trois fuseaux horaires et un peu plus de 30 parallèles.

Vrai, l’Australie produit encore des gros shiraz qui tachent, des vins blancs boisés et des cabernets qui sentent le menthol, mais limiter le pays à cela serait presque aussi réducteur que d’affirmer que le Canada ne produit que du vin de glace.

C’est loin, les années 1980

Pour nombre d’amateurs canadiens, l’Australie fut la découverte des années 1980. En tête du palmarès, une poignée de chardonnays qui ont connu un succès sensationnel au Québec. C’était l’époque de Mad Max et de Crocodile Dundee, Down Under de Man at Work jouait à la radio. Bref, les années 1980.

Le monde a évolué depuis, l’Australie aussi…

Il y a une dizaine d’années, conscients des que les pratiques de prix planchers – sur le marché britannique, surtout – étaient vouées à un échec, Wine Australia a complètement repensé ses communications. Fini l’image des vins bas de gamme et « sucraillons » avec les étiquettes de kangourous, de wallabies et autres clichés australiens. L’heure est au régionalisme. Les vignerons locaux savent qu’ils ont, eux aussi, de grands terroirs. Ne leur reste qu’à le prouver au reste monde.

Rencontré à Vancouver il y a un peu plus d’un mois, Chris Hatcher, vinificateur en chef chez Wolf Blass expliquait que les changements avaient été motivés par les marchés d’exportations, du Royaume-Uni surtout. « Avant, on faisait des vins épais, denses, concentrés et presque indigestes, pensant que c’était de grands vins. Un jour, nos clients étrangers ont menacé de nous tourner le dos. Ils voulaient moins de bois, plus de fraîcheur. On a écouté. »

Et fraîcheur il y a. Dans les blancs, comme dans les rouges.

Coldstream Hills Yarra Valley Chardonnay 2012 Wolf Blass Gold Label Chardonnay 2012 Wolf Blass White Label Chardonnay 2012À ma grande surprise, l’un de mes vins blancs favoris de cette 37e édition du Vancouver International Wine Festival, dont l’Australie était le pays vedette, fut le Chardonnay 2012 White Label (40 $ au LCBO) de Wolf Blass. Un blanc d’envergure qui tiendrait aisément la comparaison avec ceux d’appellations prestigieuses de la Côte de Beaune. Une surprise pour moi car, comme nombre d’amateurs de vin de ma génération, le nom Wolf Blass évoque davantage les souvenirs d’un vin rouge vaguement doucereux que ceux d’un blanc gras, tendu, minéral. Comme quoi, les idées reçues…

Même le Chardonnay 2012 Gold Label Adelaide Hills (25,25 $) m’a étonnée de la façon la plus positive qui soit. Certes boisé, mais pas du tout caricatural. Heureux mariage de vigueur et de vinosité, et un très bon rapport qualité-prix.

Dans la même veine, le Chardonnay 2012 Yarra Valley de Coldstream Hills (29,20 $) se distingue par sa texture nourrie et ses saveurs franches de poire et de fleurs blanches. Fondée en 1985 par le critique de vin australien James Halliday, ce domaine niché dans les collines de Yarra Valley, au nord-est de Melbourne, fait maintenant partie du groupe Treasury Wine Estate. 

Au sud d’Adélaïde, Chester Osborn (D’Arenberg) est surtout reconnu pour ses vins rouges musclés et chaleureux, mais il produit aussi de bons vins blancs. The Olive Grove 2012, Chardonnay, McLaren Vale (19,95 $) n’a rien d’innovateur, mais il a le mérite d’être sec et d’avoir un bon équilibre entre le gras et l’acidité, le bois et le fruit.

Toujours chez d’Arenberg, le The Money Spider 2012 (21,60 $) est devenu l’un de mes incontournables en matière de vin blanc australien. 100 % roussanne, des saveurs très fruitées et florales nettes et franches et une allure quasi méditerranéenne. Composé de riesling, de sauvignon blanc, de roussanne et de marsanne, son Stump Jump blanc 2013 (17,35 $) est l’exemple même du bon vin d’apéritif. Idéal avec du crabe du Québec!

D'arenberg The Olive Grove Chardonnay 2012 D'arenberg The Money Spider Roussanne 2012 D'arenberg The Stump Jump White 2013 Yalumba The Y Series Viognier 2013Brokenwood Hunter Valley Sémillon 2010

Enfin, dans l’ensemble du réseau, on trouve depuis quelques années le savoureux Viognier 2013 The Y Series (17,25 $) de la maison Yalumba, qui manifeste depuis longtemps un intérêt pour les cépages rhodaniens et qui semble être devenu maître dans l’art de façonner de bons viogniers.

Autre héros méconnu du pays: le sémillon de la vallée de Hunter, comme celui de la maison Brokenwood. Un vin singulier, qui ne pèse guère plus de 11 % d’alcool et qui acquiert avec l’âge une vinosté et des arômes complexes, qui ne sont pas sans rappeler de vieux riesling et les vieux Rioja blancs de Lopez de Heredia. Unique et incontestablement australien.

Un coup de rouge ? 

En rafale, et de régions très diverses, quelques uns des meilleurs Shiraz australiens goûtés au cours des dernières semaines.

Tout autour de la Baie de Port Phillip, l’État de Victoria produit de superbes vins de pinot noir dans les appellations de Geelong, Sunbury, Yarra et Mornington Peninsula, ainsi que dans les hauteurs des Macedon Ranges. En 1997, le Rhodanien Michel Chapoutier est parti à la découverte des terroirs australiens. En plus d’avoir lié des ententes avec des viticulteurs locaux pour former une entreprise de négoce et développé un vignoble en partenariat avec son importateur américain (Terlato), il a aussi créé son propre domaine, nommé en l’honneur de son port d’attache dans le Rhône. Son Shiraz 2012 Mathilda Victoria (22,90 $) est un bel exemple de shiraz moderne, élaboré avec le souci évident de plaire. Rassasiant, suffisamment équilibré pour être déjà apprécié maintenant et encore meilleur s’il est légèrement rafraîchi.

M.Chapoutier Domaine Tournon Mathilda Shiraz 2012 D'arenberg The Stump Jump Grenache Shiraz Mourvèdre 2011 Hardys Eileen Hardy Shiraz 2005 Yangarra Shiraz 2012Wynns Coonawarra Estate Shiraz 2012

Région viticole historique, densément plantée et dotée d’une immense diversité géologique, McLaren Vale s’étend tout au sud de la ville d’Adelaïde. Parmi les quelques vins offerts à la SAQ, on voudra retenir le Stump Jump Rouge 2011 (17,35 $), de d’Arenberg, un  cocktail de grenache, shiraz et mourvèdre.

Plus sérieux, le Eileen Hardy Shiraz 2005 est une référence de la région. Bon vin maintenant ouvert et à point, disponible en exclusivité dans les succursales Signature. Je m’en voudrais aussi de ne pas mentionner à nouveau le délicieux Yangarra Shiraz 2012 de Jackson Family Estate. À retenir au sein de l’élite régionale. 

Dans un tout autre registre, le Shiraz 2012 Coonawarra de Wynns (22,50 $) est l’œuvre de Sue Hodder, l’une des œnologues les plus talentueuses et les plus respectées du pays. Très bon shiraz à la fois généreux, mais dont la puissance contenue distille un charme certain.

Clonakilla Shiraz Viognier 2011Le meilleur pour la fin… 

Illustre domaine installé dans les collines qui surplombent la capitale australienne, Canberra, Clonakilla fut la première winery du pays à reprendre la célèbre recette de la Côte-Rôtie: syrah et viognier (ici complantés et co-fermentés). Cher, mais dans une classe à part, le Shiraz-Viognier 2011, Canberra District (99,50 $) est simplement exquis! Je me souviens que lors de la dégustation, l’un de mes collègues a souligné la ressemblance avec les Côte-Rôtie d’un certain Jamet… Voilà qui en dit long.

Santé!

Nadia Fournier

Pssst ! Envie de pousser le voyage en Océanie un peu plus loin ?

Le 5 mai prochain, Montréal accueillera un regroupement de vignerons du bout du monde dans le cadre de dégustation annuelle « La Nouvelle-Zélande dans un verre ».

Pour plus d’informations et pour profiter d’un rabais exclusif aux abonnés de Chacun Son Vin, cliquez ICI

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.)


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Découvrez La Nouvelle-Zélande  dans un verre

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Buyers’ Guide to VINTAGES May 2nd – Part One

Ontario Shakes Up Retail Alcohol Sales; Next Generation Germany; Smart Reds
By John Szabo MS with notes from David Lawrason and Sara d’Amato

John Szabo, MS

John Szabo, MS

Before we get to our picks this week, a word on some other important recommendations announced late last week. The big news in the Ontario beverage alcohol industry was of course the government’s announcement to shake up The Beer Store, the foreign-owned monopoly that accounts for 80% of beer sales in Ontario, forcing it to give local brewers better access to market. The government is also moving forward on the recommendation to allow the retail sale of beer in up to 450 grocery stores across the province. The move stems from a report commissioned by the government to find ways to generate more revenue from provincial assets.

On the surface it looks like a big change (and Wynne touts it as the biggest change to alcohol retailing since the 1920s when the LCBO was created), and it’s been a long time coming, but underneath the recommendations are a typically Canadian assemblage of compromise and concession and a game of shells. And consumers appear to be far down the list of interests to please. But it’s better than nothing.

It’s staggering to think that successive Ontario governments over nearly 90 years could have allowed The Beer Store (TBS), which is owned by Molson-Coors, Labatt (owned by Anheuser-Busch InBev) and Sleeman (owned by Japan’s Sapporo), all with head offices outside of Canada, to exist at the expense of local enterprise. For the small boys, access to market has always been the number one concern.

Now the government intends to require TBS to allow local brewers to buy shares in the distribution monopoly, which might suit the not-so-micro breweries like Mill Street or Steam Whistle just fine, but just how many truly micro-brewers will be able to play in the game remains to be seen, and many remain skeptical. In any case, apparently no more than 20% of shares will be offered, keeping the foreign ownership intact.

The government is also insisting that TBS invest $100m over four years to modernize what is surely one of the most drab retail environments in the developed world. But I’d wager that consumers are more interested in convenience and selection than fancy beer shops. How about allowing the Ontario Craft Brewers Association to open up their own shops? That would be true and fair access. “This would immediately increase distribution, visibility and availability of local craft beers as well as putting the profits back into the brewers to foster their growth and economic development”, says Dave Reed of the Forked River Brewing Co. in London, a recent micro start-up.

The plan to sell beer in grocery stores is also promising, but not as revolutionary as it seems, nor as helpful to small brewing businesses as other changes might have been. The Advisory Council has recommended that the LCBO be the sole beer wholesaler to grocery stores, which suggests that breweries will still need to churn through the administrative mire of the LCBO, as they already do for the privilege of selling through their retail network, before they can access grocery stores. Essentially, its looks like a monopoly expansion via the franchising of LCBO beer sales, rather than a true opening of the marketplace.

TheBeerStore

And there are still a lot of unanswered questions on how it will happen. “Will we run into Listing Fees? Shelf Fees? What products will they want to carry? They mention that 20% of shelf space will be reserved for Ontario craft beer, but how much of that will be for smaller brewers who perhaps cannot supply all their stores in Ontario?”, Reed asks.

There is also the risk that the move will only create a collection of smaller regional monopolies, as the equitable distribution of such precious retail beer licenses will be fraught with challenges. For this reason, don’t expect to see much beer in grocery stores anytime soon. “This new channel should be phased in over time with up to 150 outlets in operation by May 1, 2017”, says the Advisory report. Things move slowly in Ontario.

I’m reporting this not only because I drink beer, but also because the same discussion is playing out over changes to wine retailing, of keen interest no doubt to readers. The same Advisory Council is still currently reviewing options for wine distribution, and further recommendations for changes to the LCBO are forthcoming.

The Ontario wine industry is naturally observing the situation with great interest. Most local “craft” wineries complain about the access to market, which, outside of the winery itself, a handful of farmer’s markets, the lottery of an LCBO listing or costly hand-to-hand guerilla sales to restaurants, doesn’t exist.

Richard Linley, President of the Wine Council of Ontario, is “encouraged by the recent report on improving retail conditions for Ontario craft beer”, and trusts that “similar changes will be made for wine retailing in Ontario”. Ontario VQA wineries, he states, want an opportunity to compete, “but in a growing market that gives wine consumers new choice and increased convenience”.

Veiled in under these hopes is the reality that NAFTA and other international trade agreements make it illegal for Ontario to favour the sale of local wines at the expense of foreign products. (Since beer distribution is already controlled by the biggest multinationals, they’d never complain, while other craft local breweries around the world are, by most definitions, for locals and won’t likely be interested in taking on the Canadian government for trade violations.)

But wine is a different matter, with countless large, well-funded foreign companies, not to mention regional and country associations, chomping at the bit for access to a piece of our pocketbooks. So don’t expect an all-VQA wine shop or wine section in a grocery store anytime soon.

Allowing grocery stores to sell wine will raise all of the questions that beer retailing has raised, and many more. Franchising LCBO selections to grocery stores may improve convenience, a welcome change, but it would obviously not improve selection, either for Ontario or out of province/country wineries.

Striking the Right Balance - Report

Ed Clark, principal author of the report, stated on the CBC that the pre-NAFTA, grandfathered wine retailing licences enjoyed by a very few large Ontario wineries, the ones that bring you the Wine Rack and The Wine Shop kiosks and stores, need to be protected in any future changes to wine retailing. Anything that favours the sales of Canadian products is highly valuable, he said with patriotic grandeur. I wonder if Mr. Clark has any idea that the majority of the non-VQA wine sold in those shops is actually imported foreign bulk wine, blended and bottled in Canada. Are those licences really worth protecting? How about converting them to real private wine shop licences, with a requirement for minimum Can-con? I’m sure Harper can finesse that agreement with his delicate diplomacy.

“Allowing for beer and wine in grocery stores doesn’t go far enough toward allowing for true, independent retail which would offer consumers the best selection of wine, beer and spirits”, writes Heather MacGregor, Executive Director of Drinks Ontario, the association representing the majority of beverage alcohol agents and suppliers in Ontario. And I agree.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: private, independently run wine shops in Ontario (with the parallel existence of the LCBO) would increase consumer selection, provide access to market for local, out of province and foreign wineries hitherto excluded, create jobs, generate revenue for the province, download some of the retailing costs to private business instead of taxpayers, and well, make people happy. The model exists. No need to write yet another report. Your comments?

For details on how it can work, visit the Wine Council of Ontario-run website www.pairsperfectly.com

Note: the opinions of the author don’t necessarily represent the views of WineAlign nor any of its contributors.

~

Next Generation Germany 

If you’re still with me, let’s get on to this week’s recommendations. The May 2nd VINTAGES release sees a terrifically well-chosen selection of German wines arrive just ahead of the “Next Generation Germany” taste event in Toronto on May 21st. David Lawrason will be leading a trade tasting in the afternoon along with German Wine Queen Janina Hahn, exploring new developments and celebrating the latest generation of German vintners to crush the grape.

Vineyards in the Kaiserstuhl, Baden-9872

Vineyards in the Kaiserstuhl, Baden

I had the pleasure of the queen’s company for a couple of days this past March as I toured from Mainz down to Baden in search of volcanic terroirs and fine wine. But aside from the queen’s beauty, I was most struck by the change in attitude that has occurred over the last few years in Germany. Not so long ago, German vintners (like many Canadians), were almost apologetic about their cool climate and their “struggle” to ripen grapes, especially red grapes. That was during the bigger-is-better era of wine production.

But as the whimsical tide of fashion invariably changes, cool climates have become all the rage. Now, warm regions bend over backwards to be cool, going ever higher up mountain peaks or further out to the coast, stopping only short of floating vineyards on barges in cold seas. German vintners are now delighted to trumpet their natural coolness, and are enjoying a return to mainstream fashion.

Truthfully, German wines haven’t changed radically. They didn’t need to. The wine was always good, and many estates have multigenerational track records to prove it. So it’s not you, Germany, it’s us who have changed, and we’re glad to have you back.

The renewed self-confidence has had an impact however on the next generation. According to German Wine Institute chief Stefan Schindler, enrolment in viticulture studies is exploding. And it’s not just the sons and daughters of winemakers, but also many students from non-traditional wine families. A third winemaking school has opened in Neustadt, and all the courses are fully subscribed. Winemaking, too, has become cool. The future of more unapologetically cool climate, great German wine seems assured.

The selection offered on May 2nd includes some new and welcome names to the market, with most worth checking out. There’s also plenty of Alignment amongst the crü, so if you’re not afraid of being cool, there are several low-risk, high-pleasure options, and not just Riesling (though there’s brilliant riesling, too). My only regret is the absence of any German red wines, especially pinot noir, which is rapidly gaining prominence in Germany and abroad for good reason.

We’ve also included a handful of smart, miscellaneous red suggestions in this report, since not all wine can be white.

David follows up next week with an equally exciting range from New Zealand and the customary spring rosé collection.

Buyers’ Guide to Germany

Markus Molitor 2013 Haus Klosterberg Riesling, Mosel Valley, Germany ($20.95)

John Szabo – Triple alignment on this terrific riesling from Molitor, unsurprisingly, one of the Mosel’s leading producers. It’s at the drier end of the spectrum, and reverberates on and on with terrific energy and vibrancy. Best 2015-2023.
David Lawrason  – Young riesling is aromatically challenging off the top. Then add in Molitor’s aromatically reserved style. The result is a slow starter on the nose. But this is a very compact, well balanced and in the end riveting riesling, that just shouts Mosel in its own stern way.
Sara d’Amato – A serious riesling of tremendous value. The rather heavy stony soils of Klosterberg with high iron content produce mineral-driven and earthy wines with delicate fruit and great syle.

Konrad Salwey in the Kaiserstuhl-9903

Konrad Salwey in the Kaiserstuhl

Salwey 2013 Pinot Gris, Baden, Germany ($21.95)

John Szabo – Like David, I spent an afternoon with young Konrad Salwey last month and believe him to be making some of the Kaiserstuhl’s, and all of Baden’s, best wines. This pinot gris represents the (excellent) entry level, focused on refinement thanks in part to a change in philosophy as of 2011. “I was caught in the German quality system. Very often we left the grapes out too long. We could have gotten much more elegance if we had harvested earlier. This is the result of the shift. Best 2015-2020.
David Lawrason – In 2014 I spent a fascinating afternoon tasting is the cellars of the inquiring, intense Konrad Salwey. It started as a gentle fencing match as we felt each other out, but after a couple of pinot gris (before the pinot noirs) I knew I was in the company of a winemaker extraordinaire, and by the end of the day he was opening some great aged pinot noirs. This is lower tier in his range but very nicely done.

Sander 2013 Pinot Blanc Trocken, Rheinhessen, Germany ($15.95)

John Szabo – Pinot blanc (aka weissburgunder), may get little airtime, but it was the variety that most captivated me by its unexpected beauty while in southern Germany. This is a fine example of its delicate floral aromatics and neither austere nor overly soft texture. It would make a superb sipping wine for spring and early summer dining al fresco.
David Lawrason – I have been quietly intrigued by pinot blanc (weissburgunder) since first visiting Germany’s Baden years ago.  The interest re-kindled at a tasting of German pinot varieties in Mainz in 2014. The biodynamically produced Sander encapsulates everything I love about this grape, about which I plan to write more soon enough. Don’t miss this bargain opportunity to get to know it for yourself.

Ruppertsberger 2014 Linsenbusch Gewürztraminer Spätlese Prädikatswein, Pfalz Germany ($17.95)

John Szabo – A medium-dry version that delivers all of the perfumed richness and flavour intensity one would hope for from the grape and the price category. This is tailor-made for afternoon sipping, or with richer pâtés, foie gras, spicy Asian-inspired fare or softer cheeses.

Markus Molitor Haus Klosterberg Riesling 2013 Salwey Pinot Gris 2013 Sander Pinot Blanc Trocken 2013 Ruppertsberger Linsenbusch Gewürztraminer Spätlese 2014 Klumpp Riesling 2013 C.H. Berres Ürziger Würzgarten Riesling Kabinett 2012

Klumpp 2013 Riesling Qualitätswein, Baden, Germany ($19.95)

John Szabo – Klumpp is a rapidly emerging star from southern Germany that I’m happy to see in Ontario after tasting some superb wines in Deutschland. This vineyard blend offers both fleshy orchard and ripe citrus fruit along with the merest hint of sweetness. Fine value in a well measured style. Best 2015-2023.

C.H. Berres 2012 Ürziger Würzgarten Riesling Kabinett, Mosel, Germany ($24.95)

David Lawrason – This shows surprising ripeness for a kabinett (almost spätlese level), with classic peach, honey and stony aromas and flavours. Really quite delicious. Markus Berres is only the 21st generation to run this family winery in Mosel, and he has gone to screwcap. Good move.
Sara d’Amato – Consistently a top scoring wine, this Kabinett once again proves generous, rich and zesty with a great deal of character. So pleasurable now but hold onto it for another 5-6 years to experience the lovely honeyed, nutty and petrol flavours that come with evolution.

Buyers’ Guide to Miscellaneous Smart Red Wine Buys 

Marqués De Cáceres 2005 Gran Reserva, Rioja, Spain ($29.95)

John Szabo – While tasting wines like this I’m constantly reminded of the value that Spain offers, and it’s so very kind of them to cover the expense of storing wine for many years on top of it all for us. The reliable Marqués de Cáceres offers us a ready to drink gran reserva of tremendous complexity and superb balance, not to mention length, for a modest sum. Best 2015-2025.

D’angelo 2010 Aglianico Del Vulture, Basilicata, Italy ($17.95)

John Szabo – Tired of tutti frutti wines? This is for you. I love the absolutely fruitless, savoury, pot pourri-scented character of this wine, crafted in the very old school one from of Italy’s most swarthy red grapes and traditional producers on the slopes of the extinct Vulture volcano. It’s like wet, hot gravel and rusted iron. Sounds delicious, no? Best 2015-2020.

Terra Noble 2011 Gran Reserva Carmenère, Maule Valley, Chile ($18.95)

John Szabo – A tidy little value offering a wallop of sweet herbs and black fruit, and excellent depth and concentration for the money. Best 2015-2019.

Marqués De Cáceres Gran Reserva 2005 D'Angelo Aglianico Del Vulture 2010 Terranoble Gran Reserva Carmenère 2011 Château Tour Saint Vincent 2010

Château Tour Saint-Vincent 2010 Médoc, Bordeaux  ($23.95)

David Lawrason – The 2010 vintage continues to impress, a vintage where lower priced, unsung chateau rise up with structure and depth beyond their station in life. This is an 11-hectare cru bourgeois estate with thirty year old vines – 60% cabernet sauvignon and 40% merlot. It has power, depth and tension. Try one now and cellar a few.

G.D. Vajra 2011 Barbera d’Alba, Piedmont, Italy ($21.95)

David Lawrason – This is one of my personal favourites on this release, from a smallish, very enthused and engaged family winery. Barbera is never easy, but this fine somewhat juicy example builds in just the right fruit depth and complexity.

Somontes 2009 Reserva, Dão, Portugal ($18.95)

David Lawrason – Once or twice a year in comes a really fine Dao.  Long time readers might recognize my enthusiasm for this hilly, mineral rich region in the heartland of Portugal. This is one I would not hesitate to buy if you like nervy, wild berry-scented yet delicious reds.

G.D. Vajra Barbera d'Alba 2011 Somontes Reserva 2009 Cathedral Cellar Triptych 2012 Lanciola Le Masse Di Greve Chianti Classico 2010

Cathedral Cellar 2012 Triptych, Western Cape, South Africa ($16.95)

Sara d’Amato – High quality parcels of cabernet sauvignon, shiraz, merlot and tannat are blended to form Cathedral Cellars excellent value Triptych. Revealing, honest and ready-to-drink with compelling notes of smoke, pepper and plump, plummy fruit.

Lanciola 2010 Le Masse Di Greve Chianti Classico, Tuscany, Italy ($23.95)

Sara d’Amato – Almost entirely sangiovese, this traditional Chianti Classico is made up from Lanciola’s premium vineyard sites in Greve. A discreet and elegant wine but with a great deal of charm. Drinking optimally right now.

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

John Szabo, MS

John Szabo MS

From VINTAGES May 2nd, 2015:

Szabo’s Smart Buys
Sara’s Sommelier Selections
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!


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The beautiful frustration that is Burgundy

The Caveman Speaks
By Bill Zacharkiw

Bill Zacharkiw

Bill Zacharkiw

I am in Burgundy as I write this column. While I am gorging myself on some exceptional chardonnay, I’m here for the pinot noir. It is a bit of the holy grail. While most winemakers I talk with as I travel the globe might reference another place when talking about their wines, most seem happy to pursue an expression of where the grapes are grown. However mention to the vast majority of those winemakers who make pinot noir that their wine is “Burgundian” in style, and you will see even the most serious crack a smile.

What I like to call  “proper pinot” are wines that show a combination of fruit, acidity, minerality and tannin that are at once exceptionally delicate, and profoundly deep and lengthy. And I have tasted a number of very good pinot noirs from around the world, but few, if any, reach the heights of the best in Burgundy.

Why is that? Pinot noir requires a cool climate and a slow ripening period, which maximizes the aromatics and allows the grape to keep its acidity while at the same time developing ripe flavours and phenolics: tannins and colour. If the weather is just a bit too hot, the grapes can ripen too fast and you are left with grape juice. But too cool and the grapes don’t ripen fully and the resulting wines can be green and acidic. This is why the very best pinot noirs come from a relatively thin latitudinal band on the extremes of where grapes can be grown in both the northern and southern hemispheres.

While the mix of limestone and clay in the soils have something to do with it, Burgundy is home to very old vines. Add to that the accumulated wisdom of close to a thousand years of growing the grape, and you can understand why this place has it dialed.

But it is not without its hazards. Between 2011 and 2014, vignerons have had to deal with frost and/or hail every year. In some appellations, over 90% of the crop has been lost. Maybe that is why they are so humble. They are used to getting their butts kicked by Mother Nature.

There is something different about pinot noir people, those who collect and drink these wines. And for those of you who aren’t one of us, it might be a bit difficult to understand. But if they can be characterized by one word, I will borrow the characterization uttered by a wine writer friend of mine, Stuart Tobe: masochists.

Maxime at Domaine Georges Noellat makes a killer Echezeaux

Maxime at Domaine Georges Noellat makes
a killer Echezeaux

What’s it like to be a devoted pinot drinker? For me, it is more often than not a case of unrequited love. It might seem strange to spend inordinate amounts of cash on wines where you always expect to be disappointed in one way or another. Despite having drunk hundreds of pinots from around the world, I have to say that I have yet to have 100% satisfaction from any of these bottles. It’s not unlike having kids. Despite that they drive you absolutely nuts most of the time, nothing they can do will really stop you from loving them. And one, albeit brief, moment of joy is ample payback for all the annoyance and occasional disappointment.

Believe me, I have been close. Drinking pinot noir is about nuance, requiring patience and attention. When the wines are at their peak, and the vast majority of the best require at least a few years to reach that point, they are as fun to smell as to drink. The bouquet can be intoxicating, and if I tend to associate this with some sort of sexual act, it is because it can be a sensual experience.

I remember drinking one Vosne Romanée that was sooo close. I compared drinking it to having the lips of my truest love so close that I could feel her breath, yet we remained separated by the thinnest of veils. The closer we got to the end of the bottle, the more sensual the experience became. It smelt of a liquified rose, perfumed, delicate. My nose was so close to the wine in my glass, I almost inhaled it. We took over an hour to drink the bottle, and as I got to my last sip, I swirled and swirled my wine. Please, I thought, just give me one perfect sip. But no, the wine coated my mouth like satin, so complex, so rich, and then just as I was getting that shiver, it cut short.

I wrote in my tasting note: “You stick your nose in the glass, it draws you closer but there is a thin veil of tannin and acid that keeps pushing you away. It is why we drink Burgundy. To on one hand be given a glimpse of perfection, only to be denied by the other.” It’s a beautiful frustration and if that experience did anything, it was to add fuel to the fire: to buy, cellar and drink even more of these wines.

So why do we do it? Marq deVilliers, in his book about pinot noir, The Heartbreak Grape, nailed it for me. “They called it (pinot noir) the heartbreak grape because it was so stubborn, so particular, so elusive, so damn difficult to get right. And also because when it was at its best it made the most sublime wine of all. The heartbreak grape? You cannot break a heart without having captured it first.”

Burgundy is expensive. Over the past week I have tasted so many great wines, from such fabled Grand Crus like Musigny, Richebourg. But these wines are unaffordable and even if you could pay for them, they are incredibly hard to find. So I have found some good, relatively inexpensive example for you to try.

There are some excellent generic Burgundies on the market. If you want a more classic style, with bright acidity and crunchy fruit, try the 2013 Ursuline from Jean-Claude Boisset, or the 2012 Le Chapitre from Rene Bouvier.

Jean Claude Boisset Bourgogne Les Ursulines 2013 Domaine René Bouvier Bourgogne Pinot Noir Le Chapitre 2012 Domaine Des Perdrix Bourgogne Pinot Noir 2012

If you want a richer style, with darker fruits and a more Cote de Nuits style, the 2012 Bourgogne from Domaine des Perdrix is very good.

One of my favourite inexpensive Burgundies is from the Mercurey appellation. The 2012 Chateau de Chamirey is a beautiful wine that shows impeccable balance between power and finesse. In Ontario you pick up the 2012 Domaine Faiveley also from Mercurey.

Château De Chamirey Mercurey 2012 Domaine Faiveley Mercurey 2012Nicolas Potel Santenay Vieilles Vignes 2011 Maurice Ecard Savigny Les Beaune 1er Cru Les Narbantons 2009

Part of what I love about pinot noir is the aromatics. If you want a nose full of beautifully ripe fruit try the 2011 Vieilles Vignes Santenay from Nicolas Potel. If you are in BC, you can find the lovely 2009 Savigny Les Beaune 1er Cru Les Narbantons from Domaine Maurice Ecard.

For more selections. Set your “Find Wine” filter to “Pinot Noir” from “Burgundy” and let us help you find the best examples at stores near you.

Bill

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

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


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Louis M. Martini Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2012

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BC Critics’ Picks – April 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.

What’s on our minds this month? From the looks of the picks submitted below, a lot. We’re dividedly focused on hockey, food, travels and Earth Day, but united in focus on interesting, unique, off-the-path wines. This month we’re excited about well-priced and BBQ-primed zinfandel, aristocratic Alsatian gewürztraminer, idiosyncratic Jura vin Jaune and a BS-free sustainable sauvignon blanc/semillon from the Okanagan – plus others.

And if you happen to be watching the playoffs, while on the road, contemplating dinner and want to drink a local wine – this month we’re focused on you. Cheers (and go Canucks).

Cheers ~ TR

BC Critic Team

Anthony Gismondi

It’s the Stanley Cup Playoffs in most of Canada so this month’s picks are all about calming down. The wine business, like hockey reporting, isn’t exempt from hyperbole so this month’s picks are about relaxing, just a bit, and drinking something authentic, understated and supportive to whichever team turns your crank. Go Canucks.

A wine that screams Tuscan and delicious most any night is the Le Volte dell’Ornellaia 2012. Suave with fine intensity and that signature savoury Bolgheri streak, it calls for pre-game spaghetti and meatballs.

Le Volte Dell'ornellaia 2012 Edmeades Zinfandel 2011 Radio Boka Tempranillo 2012

Following the comfortable theme, zinfandel works for hockey game gatherings and a current favourite is the Edmeades Zinfandel 2011 from its peppery, blackberry jam nose to its dense, sweet finish. Fire up the barbecue.

Finally a bargain you can find in private wine shops is Radio Boka 2012. Boka hails from Valencia, the home of oranges and paella, and in a similar fashion this red is as comforting as both. It’s dirt cheap, and even 30 percent cheaper in Ontario, but when you come from mountainsides and head-pruned, 25-50 year-old vines, well let’s just say it’s a good buy.

Rhys Pender, MW

Here are three wines that are just freaking delicious and worth seeking out.

The first is an old favourite, the Wynns Coonawarra Estate Black Label Cabernet Sauvignon 2012. I’ve been lucky enough to try cellared versions of this wine for decades as my dad often had a few older bottles kicking around when I was growing up. It was one of the few wines that got aged. It can easily go for a decade and there are probably few wines in the world that are as good a value bet for the cellar. And a secret, it is much more expensive in Australia than it is here in Canada!

Wynns Coonawarra Estate Black Label Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 Domaine Weinbach Gewürztraminer Cuvée Laurence 2012 Domaine Barmes Buecher Rosenberg Riesling 2012

I recently got the chance to visit the stunning vineyards of Alsace and one of my visits was with the charming Catherine Faller of Domaine Weinbach. We went through a lineup of 14 impressive wines, all of which ooze complexity, power and intensity. The Domaine Weinbach Gewürztraminer Cuvée Laurence 2012 was particularly delicious, especially the bottle I had later with foie gras.

Another great Alsatian producer I visited was Barmes-Buecher. Such a charming family and the wines do not disappoint for being excitingly unique and interesting. One of their wines that has appeared from time to time in BC is the Rosenberg Riesling 2012, with its great texture and length. Worth seeking out.

DJ Kearney

Halibut season accounts for my three white choices this month. From Campania, the captivating Masseria Frattasi Acquafredda Fiano Beneventano IGT 2013, a rich but lively fiano for halibut marinated in lemongrass, lime leaf and coconut milk, then crisply grilled.

Masseria Frattasi Acquafredda Fiano Beneventano 2013 Colle Stefano Verdicchio Di Matelica 2013 Domaine Stéphane Tissot Arbois Savagnin 2000

For the linear but highly flavourful Colle Stafano Verdicchio di Matelica DOC 2013, halibut needs nothing more than a generous squeeze of lemon before slipping into a bamboo steamer.

For this magical Vin Jaune 2000 from savant winemaker Stéphane Tissot the halibut needs a beurre blanc made with the Vin Jaune, or serve after the fish with Compte cheese, another famous gift from the Jura.

Treve Ring

With April’s burst into spring, I’m always reminded how lucky we are to live in this corner of the globe, and what an outstanding and awe-inspiring diversity of environments that makes up our province. With Earth Day falling this week, it’s a perfect time to set to drinking wines that are purposefully grown and produced with sustainable measures in mind.

Claus Preisinger is one of Austria’s hottest winemakers. Youthful, driven, modern, consciousness and innovative – his aim is to create that typify terroir, and his vineyards are completely biodynamic to honour that. Basic 2011 is just that – a beauty blend of zweigent and blaufrankisch that pairs perfectly with blistered crust margarita pizza with arugula.

Claus Preisinger Basic Red 2011 Le Clos Du Tue Boeuf La Butte 2013 Lock & Worth Sauvignon Blanc Semillon 2013

An equally dedicated producer is Le Clos du Tue-Boeuf, a project via Thierry and his older brother Jean-Marie. Together they farm the organic and biodynamic vines in Touraine, making charming, refreshing wines like La Butte 2013, a gamay with tart cranberry, perfumed tayberry and lissom body. Ideal with lentils and cured meats. #GoGamayGo.

The very best way to go green this Earth Day is to buy and support local producers, and save on shipping costs and goods around the globe. Lock & Worth Sauvignon Blanc & Semillon 2013 is a low-interventionist, herbal and stony textured white, crisp and pure and ideal for toasting our beautiful growing region.

~

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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Gabbiano - Take me to Tuscany


New Zealand in a Glass - Canadian Tour

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

Tempting Tempranillo (a.k.a. Murder in the Woods)

Will “So, You Think You Know Wine?” contestants Pay Chen, Brad Royale, and Véronique Rivest be able to conquer the tempting tempranillo at Table 5?

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. Cullen then issues each player a score but not without, first, testing a few of his own theories against the experts. A champion eventually emerges.

2015-04-21_11-55-34

You may have noticed that the first few rounds have been challenging for everyone. The tables get better and better as more of the ‘classic’ varietal character of future wines shines through. We thought it would still be fun to share these first few rounds with you.

Click here to watch Table 5 or read on to learn more about the contestants and the scoring method.

Table 5

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.

Brad Royale

Brad has been involved in retail and restaurant management for fifteen years and he is now the Wine Director for Canadian Rocky Mountain Resorts. He has won multiple awards for his wine programs. In 2012 Brad launched his own wine label, Kitten Swish…it’s delicious.

brad royale

Véronique Rivest

Véronique won second place at the prestigious Sommelier du Monde Competition in 2013, in fact, she is the first woman ever to have made it to the podium. She is a wine columnist for Ottawa’s Le Droit newspaper and Radio-Canada and she has just opened her own wine bar in Gatineau, Quebec called Soif.

veronique

Pay Chen

Pay has been working in television since 1998 and is now an experienced TV and radio host, writer and producer with a passion for food, fitness, and travel. She currently hosts The Pay Chen Show on Newstalk 1010 and is frequently seen and heard on morning shows and national daytime programs as guest host or expert.

pay

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 5.

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

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 feedback@winealign.com 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.


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Balderson Cheese

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Pets, vesses et autres impertinences

Hors des sentiers battus
par Marc Chapleau

Marc Chapleau

Marc Chapleau

J’ai un confrère qui n’aime pas le bois. Dès qu’il met le nez dans un verre et sent quelque chose qui évoque la barrique (la vanille, le fumé, le café torréfié), il fait la grimace. « Je déteste le bois… » C’est couru d’avance, dans ces cas-là : le vin en question va se faire écorcher et son score, s’en ressentir.

Quand même curieux puisque, perso, tout critique que je sois moi aussi par ailleurs, le bois, je puis vivre avec. C’est plutôt quand ça sent trop le pet que l’inconfort me guette. Le pet, oui. Prononcé « pette », à la québécoise, avec une intensité non contenue, et non « paix », comme nos amis français, qui ne manquent pourtant pas d’exubérance ni de véhémence, normalement.

Les vins « réduits » sont grevés par une telle odeur pouvant aussi évoquer l’écurie, le cheval en sueur. Une odeur, à sa décharge, qui finit souvent par se dissiper après une bonne aération.

Le confrère allergique au chêne ne déteste pas, lui, cette senteur… bien particulière. Justement parce qu’elle connote un certain type de vin, une philosophie, que, par définition, nonobstant la réalité objective, il aime bien.

Je pourrais bomber le torse en disant que c’est moi qui ai raison puisque, on s’entend, l’odeur de pet est plus largement reconnue comme déplaisante que celle de vanille ou de café frais.

Mais ce n’est pas mon genre. Et pas mon propos non plus, ici.

Affaire de générations, plutôt, comme le suggérait en substance ma consoeur Nadia, récemment. Les plus vieux auraient été habitués aux vins boisés, parfois lourdement, pour eux c’était et c’est encore souvent en quelque sorte la norme.

Touche pas à mon fruité !

Alors qu’aujourd’hui, à l’opposé, avec la mode des vins « nature » par exemple, tout ce qui se met en travers du fruit dans le vin, de l’odeur et du goût fruités, est sacrilège — et à rejeter du revers de la main. Ce que feraient allègrement bon nombre de jeunes nouveaux diplômés en sommellerie.

Cette vision des choses se défend. Moi le premier, j’ai grandi et fait mon apprentissage dans le vin en buvant de grands bordeaux des années 1980. Qui titraient à l’époque, pour mémoire, autour de 11,5 % d’alcool.

J’ai aussi pinté aux grands bourgognes de la même période. Enfin, « grands » n’est pas le bon mot puisqu’on se tapait alors pour l’essentiel des chambertins, des romanée-saint-vivant et des ruchottes-chambertin de négociants outrageusement minces et acidulés, tout à fait inintéressants. Mais on buvait des étiquettes alors on s’en foutait, et puis on se saoulait la gueule et donc c’était bien.

Fin de la parenthèse.

Avec mes bordeaux de la première heure, mes riojas et mes vieux garrafeiras portugais, j’aurais donc appris à affectionner le bois, comme aujourd’hui d’autres apprennent à l’abominer.

Bien entendu, la réalité est plus mouvante que cela. Je peux par exemple parfois m’accommoder de vins sérieusement déviants, les aimer au point de m’en resservir, tandis que mon collègue davantage non interventionniste ne dédaignera pas trinquer, à l’occasion, à un bon vieux grand cru classé bien boisé…

Comme quoi, encore une fois, tous les goûts et dégoûts sont dans la nature.

À boire, aubergiste !

Dans le camp des vins « boisés », appelons-les comme ça, j’ai récemment bien aimé :

Le Marques de Borba Reserva Alentejo 2011, rouge portugais puissant et profond et le savoureusement tannique Morellino di Scansano Terra di Talamo Tempo 2011, rouge toscan pour l’heure un peu fermé au nez et plus bavard en bouche. De Californie maintenant, le Qupé Syrah Central Coast 2012 est à la fois riche, généreux et doté d’une bonne fraîcheur. Toujours du Golden State, l’excellent Terre Rouge « Noir » Sierra Foothills 2010 n’est pas sans rappeler le châteauneuf-du-pape.

Marquês De Borba Reserva 2011 Terre Di Talamo Tempo Morellino Di Scansano 2011 Qupé Syrah 2012 Terre Rouge Sierra Foothills Noir 2010

En blanc cette fois, de Californie toujours, le Grgich Chardonnay Napa 2012 (prononcer Gueur-Gitche) assume très bien son côté boisé prononcé puisqu’il est par ailleurs nerveux (l’acidité) et assez profond.

Enfin, d’Australie, le Yangarra Shiraz McClaren Vale 2012 est très foncé, presque opaque, mais il n’a rien d’un mastodonte. Au contraire : le vin est puissant, certes, mais aussi tendu, d’une étonnante fraîcheur.

Grgich Hills Estate Chardonnay 2012 Yangarra Shiraz 2012 Louis Tête Morgon Les Charmes 2013 Domaine Michel Juillot Mercurey 2012

À présent, dans le cas des vins sinon pas boisés, du moins plus d’emblée axés sur le fruit — et souvent aussi sur la minéralité, résolument plus dans l’air du temps, j’ai retenu :

En rouge, le Morgon Les Charmes Louis Tête 2013, un très bon cru du Beaujolais, le Mercurey Michel Juillot 2012, un bourgogne rouge typé et énergique, harmonieux et d’une belle persistance, et le Cahors Les Laquets Cosse-Maisonneuve 2010 qui sent l’écurie sans que ce soit franchement « bretté » et bien tendu, par ailleurs.

Les Laquets Cahors 2010Domaine Gardiés Les Glaciaires 2013  Camin Larredya La Part Davant Jurançon Sec 2013 Stratus Riesling Moyer Rd Rr1 2013

En blanc, le Glaciaires Domaine Gardiès Côtes-du-Roussillon 2013 est réglissé et d’une belle pureté de fruit. Le Jurançon sec Camin Larredya 2013 est d’une rare élégance, en plus d’être vif et rafraîchissant.

Enfin, du Niagara, le Stratus Riesling RR1 Moyer Road 2013 est un modèle du genre, et il a des airs allemands avec son modeste 10,5 % d’alcool. Parfait pour l’apéro sur la terrasse, dès que les beaux jours s’installeront à demeure.

Bonne dégustation !

Marc

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


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Emmène-moi en toscane! avec Gabbiano


Festival des Vins de Nouvelle-Zélande - Montréal

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Buyers’ Guide to VINTAGES April 18th – Part Two

New World Picks (and notes from the California Wine Fair)
By David Lawrason with notes from Sara d’Amato

David Lawrason

David Lawrason

The first week of fine weather in Ontario for many months has also kicked off the busiest period of wine tasting events of the year. So let’s raise one gigantic toast to the new season! Open something that shouts.

Last week we looked at Euro wines on the release, so this week it’s New World, and we will get to our picks shortly. But I wanted to outline the amazing array of wine events coming our way in the weeks ahead. The season unfurled on April 13th with the 36th annual California Wine Fair in Toronto (see more below), followed three days later by the 4th annual Prince Edward County in the City event. Then on April 20th Ontario’s leading terroir driven wineries present their wares at Somewhereness in Toronto. (Watch for an Ontario Wine Report on both of these important local wine events).

On April 22 the Premium Familiae Vini – an association of Europe’s leading family owned wineries – presents a VINTAGES sponsored tasting in Toronto, followed by a reception and dinner on the 23rd. This is a great chance to taste some of the classics from Europe. For PFV wines being released on April 18 search out our WineAligner reviews from great names like Hugel of Alsace, Perrin of the Rhone, Drouhin of Burgundy, Antinori of Italy and Torres of Spain and many more. Each family has a couple of wines represented (but of course we would prefer they each had many more on the shelf).

The following week, April 29, Portugal’s annual grand tasting runs at the Art Gallery of Ontario. On May 7 there is the New Zealand Wine Fair. Then three consecutive VINTAGES events are on the schedule: May 21 is Next Generation Germany; May 26 is Australia’s First Families and on June 4 in come the Italians for the Gambero Rosso Tasting. So no whining about nothing to do this spring! Check out events at VINTAGES.com.

WineAlign Bus Tour to Prince Edward CountyAnd not to forget our second annual “rolling limestone” WineAlign bus tour to the Terroir Wine Festival in Prince Edward County on May 9. We have two coaches ready to go from Toronto with stops at Hinterland, Rosehall Run and Norman Hardie, plus two and a half hours at the Terroir festival in Picton.

Both Sara d’Amato and I will be onboard to give you some colour commentary. Which is a great segue to one of my top picks of the release.

Norman Hardie 2013 Niagara Unfiltered Chardonnay, Niagara Peninsula ($39.20)

David Lawrason – Norman Hardie is of course based in Prince Edward County, but makes wines from prime sites in Niagara as well. I tasted this wine among six other high end chardonnays from Burgundy and elsewhere. It not only stood its ground, it stood tall. Very elegant, taut, well woven and showing great minerality and length.

Graham Beck 2013 The Game Reserve Chardonnay, Robertson, South Africa ($16.95)

David Lawrason – Another surprise in the big chardonnay line-up this release comes from a remote region over the mountains, and away from maritime influence, in the Robertson region. There are limestone pockets here, and some fine chardonnays. This is not “great” but I am impressed that Graham Beck has delivered this much structure and character at $17.
Sara d’Amato – This pioneer of the sparkling variety in South Africa is also no stranger to chardonnay and this striking value is a standout. Get it, enjoy and thank me later.

Norman Hardie Niagara Unfiltered Chardonnay 2013 Graham Beck The Game Reserve Chardonnay 2013 Grgich Hills Fumé Blanc Dry Sauvignon Blanc 2013 Hall Sauvignon Blanc 2013 Rapaura Springs Reserve Sauvignon Blanc 2013

Grgich Hills 2013 Fumé Blanc Dry Sauvignon Blanc, Napa Valley, California  ($39.95)

David Lawrason – My attraction to this wine is not based on flash in the pan pizzazz, but on the solid, self-confident, nuanced ambiance it presents. I could see myself sitting with this wine over one or two bottles and not getting bored. Is it the biodynamics alone, or a winemaking idea? Very satisfying.

Hall 2013 Sauvignon Blanc, Napa Valley, California, USA ($34.00)

Sara d’Amato – Great California sauvignon blanc has a way of reeling me in like no chardonnay could ever do. Hall focuses on the sustainable production of Bordelaise varietals, thus choosing sauvignon blanc over chardonnay as its star white grape and we can be glad they do. On the riper style of the spectrum, this wild and wonderful example boasts impressive complexity, balance and appeal.

Rapaura Springs 2013 Reserve Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough, New Zealand ($21.95)

Sara d’Amato – A solid example of Marlborough sauvignon blanc without excessive grassy, vegetal or ammonia from under-ripeness. Elegant and herbaceous with notes of mineral, passion fruit and citrus along with a remarkable degree of body.

Barrandica Cabernet Sauvignon 2013

Franciscan Cabernet Sauvignon 2012

Treana 2011 RedTreana Red 2011, Paso Robles, California ($39.95)

David Lawrason This opaque, black wine is a blend of cabernet and syrah from the hotter Paso Robles region of the Central Coast. It’s massive and deep, and I was prepared to dismiss it as a hot chocolate bomb, but lo and behold it shows very good proportion and balance. Large can also be balanced.

Franciscan 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, California, USA ($29.95)

Sara d’Amato – With a warm, sunny summer and a cool harvest, 2012 in Napa is proving to be an interesting vintage and one hailed by many local producers as ideal for cabernet sauvignon. A structured, cellar-worthy find in the classic style of the Haut-Médoc.

Barrandica 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon, Vista Flores, Mendoza, Argentina ($16.95)

David Lawrason  One my most important observations from two visits to Argentina in recent months, is the growing importance of excellent cabernets (see next as well). This is from the Vista flores sub-region of the Uco Valley, a region I have come to know for its lifted floral character and a certain wash of intense fruit. Great value.

Sister's Run Epiphany Shiraz 2012

C.J. Pask Gimblett Road Syrah 2013

Tapiz Alta 2011 Collection Cabernet SauvignonTapiz Alta Collection Cabernet Sauvignon 2011, Mendoza, Argentina ($18.95)

David Lawrason, This is a balanced and complete if not huge cabernet – an absolute bargain. Argentine cabernet seems to pack in a centre of gravity that some lack (cabs can famously have a ‘hollow middle’).  There is even a sense of graphite minerality. Tapiz employs Pomerol-based Jean Claude Berrouet, perhaps accounting for the great sense of composure. In any event, it too is a great buy under $20.

C.J. Pask 2013 Gimblett Road Syrah, Hawkes Bay, New Zealand ($19.95)

Sara d’Amato – This Hawke’s Bay syrah has an expressive cool-climate nature that delivers a surprising amount of flavour on its lighter frame. Peppery, musky and savoury with an abundance of wild flowers and earth – unquestionably stylish.

Sister’s Run 2012 Epiphany Shiraz, McLaren Vale, Australia ($15.95)

Sara d’Amato – An engaging find, stripped down, generous and appealing with a great deal more concentration, power and structure than one would expect at this price. A classic example of the power and purity that can be attained from the Mediterranean climate of McLaren Vale.

Notes on the California Wine Fair

It’s amazing that this event has been going for 36 years in Toronto and almost as long in Ottawa. It is the social wine event of the year, with about 1300 showing up for the trade portion on Monday afternoon in Toronto and over 300 for the luncheon in the Royal York’s largest ballroom. The guest speaker – Margo Van Staaveren, the winemaker at Chateau St. Jean – gave a personal overview of life and wine trends in Sonoma County, her home for 30 years. Well established as a modern haven for chardonnay and pinot noir, I was most surprised to hear her comment that the hottest trend in Sonoma is the improvement in cabernet sauvignons from the inland areas like Dry Creek, Alexander and Knights Valleys. She closed her presentation quoting a new marketing slogan “True Wine Country” that made the Napa winemaker at our table bristle.

We also heard from Shari Mogk-Edwards the LCBO’s Vice President of Products, Sales and Marketing deliver the state of the California nation address, indicating that sales in Ontario amounted to $285 million last year, up 13% over the previous year, with higher growth than any other region (although still behind Ontario and Italy in overall  sales). She kept referring to the quality and value of California being behind the popularity, but I would argue that is more of a stylistic popularity, and a cultural affinity and comfort level. There is undeniable ease and familiarity to California wines. Value is certainly not part of my discussion around California and our sinking loonie will not help in the months ahead.

I spent my afternoon doing a checking out of new labels, and some classics, and getting a bead on the most interesting categories. There were 125 wineries in the room, each with several wines. So it was not a time for detailed reviews.

My first observation was that pinot noirs showed the most “new to me” labels and exciting quality. I was very impressed by the new Kiser “En Haut” from Mendocino County, Far Niente’s new En Route 2013 Les Pommiers; as well as Paul Hobbs 2012, Miramar Torres 2012 Mas Cavalls, Schug 2013 Carneros, Etude’s new Lyric 2013, and Jamieson Ranch 2013 Reata. California pinot is becoming more and more sophisticated every vintage it seems. Sure there are sweetish and hottish examples, but those working at the upper end of the quality spectrum are finding a groove. And the wines have a delicious factor that pinot does not often achieve elsewhere.

Over on the “cabernet sauvignon and friends” side there were some excellent wines indeed, but not as many new wines. I was most impressed by Far Niente 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon, Mt Brave 2011, Stags Leap 2011 Fay Vineyard, Heitz 2005 Cabernet, Chateau St Jean 2010 Cinq Cepages and Quintessa 2011. It is such an interesting exercise to relate the cool vintage 2011s to Bordeaux, with which there is so much in common. It’s all a matter of how much ‘green’ you like in your cabs.

The most disappointing category was zinfandel. I tasted a half dozen and none showed the great brambly, florality by which I judge good zin. The oak mocha machine is gobbling up this once grand category.

~

And that’s a wrap for this rather long-winded edition. Hope to see you out there on the busy wine circuit in the weeks ahead.

David Lawrason
VP of Wine

From VINTAGES April 18th, 2015:

Lawrason’s Take
Sara’s Sommelier Selections
Szabo’s Smart Buys
Buyers’ Guide to VINTAGES – Old World
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!


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WineAlign PEC Bus Tour

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Blind Tasting 31 of the World’s Top Cabernet Blends

The Master Blend Classification

In late February and on the eve of the Vancouver International Wine Festival, eleven of Canada’s leading wine critics gathered in Vancouver for the third Wolf Blass Master Blend Classification Tasting. Our assignment was to “classify” 31 of the world’s leading Cabernet Sauvignon based blends in a blind tasting. The wines selected for the tasting met three basic criteria: the vintage was 2010, the blend was predominantly cabernet sauvignon-based; and the wine had to fetch a minimum $100 retail price. In the end the list included some impressive labels from France, United States, Chile, South Africa, New Zealand, Italy and Australia, painstakingly collected (an accomplishment in any Canadian market for sure) and randomly queued for solo tasting.

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The Inspiration

The Master Blend Classification, inspired by the Bordeaux Classification of 1855 was also encouraged in part, by WineAlign’s own Bill Zacharkiw:

“I was asked to lead a tasting of Australian wines for my fellow Quebec journalists. With three winemakers present, I decided to throw everyone a curve ball, and have everyone, including the winemakers, blind taste their wines against comparable wines from around the world.

My goal was to show everyone, including the winemakers, where their wines stood against some pretty hot competition. And nothing defeats prejudice like blind tasting!

Well word got back to Wolf Blass chief winemaker Chris Hatcher about the stunt I pulled, and he loved the idea. And the next thing I know I am sitting in a room with $20,000 of wine and tasting through 30 of the world’s top cabernet blends. 

That was one year ago, the inaugural Master Classification Blend tasting session. It takes guts to do what Hatcher is doing, and this is one of the most educational and fun tastings of the year. And I am glad to have been part of its genesis.”

Thanks to Bill, that’s how we came to be seated in a well lit room in Vancouver, with 31 glasses of red wine in front of us totaling some $20,000 in value. Some of the group had joined Bill at the previous tasting (see last year’s Master Blend Classification and the WineAlign critics’ thoughts on 2009 vintage) so we knew what was likely in store – First Growths, icon wines, curveballs, eye-openers and detailed takeaway notes unrivalled anywhere in the world.

After a couple of hours of contemplative tasting followed by some adept spreadsheet calculations, the collective results were revealed.

Top Ten 2010

IMG_06042010 Chateau Latour

2010 Chateau Montrose

2010 Chateau Haut Brion

2010 Chateau Cos d’Estournel

2010 Chateau Léoville-Barton

2010 Chateau Léoville-Las Cases

2010 Antinori Solaia

2010 Ornellaia

2010 Vasse Felix Heytesbury

2010 Chateau Lafite

Master Blend Classification Event Director, George Samios, noted the quality of the lauded 2010 vintage was evident, with less than 2.25 points differentiating the top 10 wines.

“The eleven judges had a great diversity of background and we saw some really robust and dynamic discussion about all of the wines. Key themes continued to be the oak to fruit relationship and also the respective “characters” of some regional wines.

~ TR

Thoughts and themes from our WineAlign critics:

Bill Zacharkiw:

The Vancouver tasting confirmed what many have said, that 2010 in Bordeaux was an extremely good vintage especially if you value acidity. My top five wines were all Bordeaux (in order): Chateau Latour, Chateau Cos d’Estournel, Chateau Montrose, Chateau Léoville-Las Cases and Chateau Lynch-Bages.

Compared to the tasting of the 2009’s, when Bordeaux pumped out some pretty ripe wines, this year’s tasting showed that when Bordeaux has a more classic vintage, they really stand out from the pack. Last year, my top 10 was divided up pretty evenly between wines hailing from Italy, Chile and California.

Château Latour 2010 Château Cos D’estournel 2010 Chateau Montrose 2010 Château Léoville Las Cases 2010 Château Lynch Bages 2010

It comes down to character, and I have always felt that the riper the grapes are picked, the less they are distinctive. This year I was able to guess which wines were from Bordeaux, while last year tasting the 2009’s, I wasn’t nearly as precise.

Anthony Gismondi:

It was fun to be in Vancouver for a change, for a tasting of this magnitude and what turned out to be a showdown between California and Bordeaux. Both regions seemed more subdued in 2010 dealing with slightly cooler fruit. In my estimation California wines come about their ripeness and hedonistic demeanor in a more natural way than the Bordelais examples, i.e. sunshine and heat, versus optical sorting machines and cooler, low yielding vineyard sites.

That said, it is amazing how the gap between styles has closed over the last two decades, so much so that picking the appellation of any of these wines with certainty is a bit of a mug’s game. What I do know is that in all my travels through the New World, when you meet transplanted French people making wine in warm climates you usually find very interesting wines, and that was the case on this day.

Opus One 2010  Harlan Estate Proprietary Red 2010 Almaviva 2010

In the end I chose the luscious Opus One over the more mineral and restrained Chateau Haut Brion, and while they are studies in opposite style, Opus One is really hitting its stride, especially bringing some much welcomed elegance to the Napa Valley theme. I’m guessing ten years from now the scores could be reversed. The Harlan Estate Red was as elegant as I can remember, and that gave it the edge over the Dominus on my score sheet although both are superb. The best value among the French wines has to be the sturdy, well-crafted Château Léoville-Barton.

Back to the French transplants, with Chile impressing and Almaviva just barely inching the Joseph Phelps Insignia on my card. Both are delicious wines and will be ready before the French bottles reach their glory. The leaner, cooler, more mineral resinous wines’ futures lay ahead of them; Chateau Montrose, Chateau Pichon Comtesse de Lalande and the Antinori Solaia round out my top wines scoring 91 points or higher.

Joseph Phelps Insignia 2010 Château Pichon Longueville Comtesse De Lalande 2010 Wolf Blass Black Label Cabernet Sauvignon Shiraz 2010

It was a tough trial for the Wolf Blass Black Label Cabernet Sauvignon Shiraz, now in its 38th Vintage with its 40 percent shiraz. Winemaker Chris Hatcher, to his credit, thought the acid was too high and so did I.

There may need to be a different world order in 2016, and perhaps opening up the pricing restrictions could allow that. Certainly I have had wines from Argentina and Canada that would challenge several labels and need to be at the show.

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Rhys Pender, MW:

It was a suitable birthday present that I got to sit down at the end of February and taste 31 of the world’s most iconic Cabernet based wines, all from the 2010 vintage. Following on from last years tasting of the 2009 vintage, this was another good year for Bordeaux wines to strut their stuff. They performed pretty well, comprising six of my top 10 wines and nine of the top 12 when all tasters scores were averaged.

The surprise this year was the performance of the Italians. Last year I found them very new world and overly fruity and heavy on winemaking, but this year two were in my top four (Antinori Solaia and Ornellaia). The leathery, meaty, savouriness was back along with plenty of ripe, concentrated fruit.

Antinori Solaia 2010Ornellaia 2010Ridge Vineyards Monte Bello 2010

The Californian wines caused a bit of strife amongst the tasters. Some wines were holding on to that lush, sweet style and while others were a bit more structured and less manipulated. There were scores both high and low for each style suggesting that California is in a bit of a state of flux as to what style its icon wines should be. I loved the Ridge Monte Bello as did a few others, but overall it finished quite a way down the list.

When tasting this calibre of wine, you have to basically disregard price as they are all expensive. But that said, a few of the wines that were expensive and from what should be a very good vintage disappointed. But that is always the way in wine and that is what keeps it interesting. 2011 with a cool year in Bordeaux should be very interesting indeed.

DJ Kearney:

The Master Blend Classification is aptly named. Handling cabernet sauvignon takes masterful hand; blending is what adds grace and charm to Bordeaux’s haughty black grape, and the courage to rank/compare/classify cabernet blends is a useful and meaningful endeavour. Well done to Wolf Blass and ‘Hatch’ for the third incarnation of this self-imposed measuring stick. It is an incredible privilege to take part in this iconic tasting.

It does not need to be said again that all tasters were surprised (sometimes gob-smacked) by the ‘reveal’. The very young Bordeaux wines – all acknowledged stars – showed intractable and shuttered, (downright dour in some cases), and their Cali and Oz counterparts beamed in comparison. My highest scores landed on both a classic aristocrat, as well as the Wolf Blass Black Label…. Nice when the quality gap is narrow, between wines made worlds apart. My overall highest scores where for a happy mix of new and old world blends. In retrospect, the 2010 Bordeaux, despite the glorious vintage, were tightly bound and difficult to taste.

Château Haut Brion Premier Grand Cru Classé 2010Château Margaux 2010 Sena Red 2010

My top five included both the focussed and fleshy Wolf Blass Black Label 2010 from McLaren Vale and Langhorne Creek, followed by the brooding, savoury and spiced Chateau Haut-Brion 2010.

Chateau Margaux 2010 revealed its pedigree immediately, with intense perfume, potent cassis and the luxuriant aroma of fine, new French casks. Pauillac’s Chateau Latour 2010 emanates power and pedigree, even though it has years of unwinding ahead of it. While Eduardo Chadwick’s Seña 2010 displays lovely balance, depth and fruit right now.

IMG_0605mbc8

Treve Ring:

What an honour to taste these gloried wines, en masse, and have a bit of solo time to meet each one.

Upon reflection, my top notes were written for Bordeaux, with the structured savouriness and gravitas of Chateau Latour taking first rank, followed closely by the smoked stone and white pepper of Chateau Beychevelle and the peppery potency of Chateau Cos d’Estournel. The fine bones, bacon and gravels of Chateau Pichon Longueville was compelling and singular, even though I felt I was tasting through a faulted bottle, and a pair of Léovilles (Chateau Léoville-Barton and Chateau Léoville-Las Cases) charmed with their potential. Of course, these were still all far too young, but testament to the 2010 vintage that they impressed and showed as well as they did at this stage.

But all my highest scores weren’t reserved for the graphite youthful grippiness of 2010 Bordeaux. I also appreciated the generosity of fruit balanced with tempered, integrated tannins in the dense Wolf Blass Black Label. Henschke Cyril Henschke, Vasse Felix Heytesbury and Opus One also surprised and impressed me with their lavishly fruited, moderately oaked and positively floral direction.

Château Beychevelle 2010 Henschke Cyril Henschke 2010 Vasse Felix Heytesbury 2010 Vergelegen 2010

Would I have scored them as I did if I knew their retail price? Probably not. That’s the benefit of tasting blind, removing all name and price prejudices and shouldering up a $2500 bottle (Chateau Lafite) alongside one more than 25 times less (Vergelegn Estate GVB).

As this was my first Master Blend Classification tasting, I have no comparable event to hold it against. That said, I’m already looking forward to a line up of the 2011 vintage, when the playing field appears to be a bit more leveled globally.

En Français

Marc Chapleau wrote about his experience at Master Blend Classification in his column for Chacun Son Vin here.

To view the entire lineup of wines at the third annual event click on: Master Blend Classification

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


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Margaret Swaine’s Spirits Review – April 2015

Fashionable Spirits
by Margaret Swaine

Margaret Swaine

Margaret Swaine

In my constant travels around the globe, I often come across hot new trends in drinking. Sometimes the connection with the place seems natural such as the prohibition style bars (a password required to enter) in North America and the growing farm to shaker movement among mixologists in the hip hoods in America. Other trends are head-scratchers.

How did the mania for Gin-Tonic bars in Spain start? England surely has top claims to that drink – but no. Spain is now the world’s biggest gin consumer per capita, with demand increasing at an average of 18 percent over the past five years. (The Philippines consume the largest volume of gin: the local Ginebra San Miguel celebrates its 181 birthday this year.) I’ll write more about this trend when we finally head into warmer weather.

In Charleston when I saw a flight of Grand Marnier on the drink menu in Belmond hotel’s Charleston Grill, I got curious. Grand Marnier, a cognac based orange liqueur first created in 1880, is a fine French tipple but to offer three versions of it in a flight is unusual.

Locals informed me that Charleston has such a craze for Grand Marnier that the city is the number one consumer of it per capita in the world. They call it GrandMa and mostly drink it like a shooter. I tracked down this trend to an odd law and a chef.

A South Carolina law restricted bars and restaurants to serving liquor from mini-bottles until 2005. Chef Bob Carter, at the helm of the highly popular Peninsula Grill in the late nineties (until 2011) used to show up at events with minis of GrandMa and cajole colleagues into taking shots with him. He started a mania that is only now beginning to slow.

Fireball, a Canadian whisky punched up with a strong hit of cinnamon, is fast becoming the shooter of choice not only in Charleston but throughout North America: it’s one of the most successful liquor brands in decades. Sales have reached the million cases level and it all started in Canada.

Fireball Cinnamon Whisky Liqueur 1792 Ridgemont Reserve Barrel Select Kentucky Straight Bourbon

It began as a Dr. McGillicuddy’s brand but really took off when it was renamed Fireball. It’s now owned by Sazerac North America Inc which also owns well-loved bourbons such as Buffalo Trace, Blanton’s, Eagle Rare and “1792” Ridgemont Reserve. I’ve met recently with the master distillers and blenders in the company and tasted through a lot of their products, but no one presented Fireball to me at that time. Now having just tasted it – I can see why. It’s so powerfully cinnamon with a burning finale it would kill the palate for their more “subtle” whiskies.

As to the Kentucky whiskies, Buffalo Trace’s first official registration of still 113 was in 1787 though it’s very likely they were distilling before then. By the mid 1800’s there were over 300 registered stills in Kentucky. Almost all were forced to cease during Prohibition between 1919 and 1933. Only four, including Buffalo Trace, were allowed to continue distilling for medicinal purposes. People must have been mighty sick at the time. Over six million prescriptions were written during Prohibition entitling the bearer to a pint of whiskey.

Buffalo Trace Kentucky Straight BourbonEagle Rare Single Barrel 10 Years Old Kentucky Straight BourbonW. L. Weller 12 Year Old Kentucky Straight BourbonSazerac 6 Years Old Straight Rye Whiskey

Buffalo Trace gets its name from the pathway taken by buffalo on their ancient Westerly migratory route. The company claims to be the only producer using five recipes for whiskey products: three rye recipe bourbons, one barley and one wheat bourbon. These five recipes create a matrix under which the individual brands are made.

For example Buffalo Trace, Eagle Rare and George T. Stagg all are made according to Buffalo Trace rye recipe #1, the key difference is length of time in wood which changes the balance and flavour profile of them. Buffalo Trace rye recipe #2 is used to make Elmer T. Lee, Hancocks Reserve and Rock Hill.

The wheat bourbon recipe make W.L. Weller and Pappy Van Winkle. The wheat gives a mellower, softer profile which softens the wood effect allowing Pappy to be aged more than 20 years without being overly oaky. The straight rye recipe, a spicy, peppery brew, is used for Sazerac and Van Winkle Family Reserve Rye 13 Year Old.

Master Blender at Buffalo Trace, Drew Mayville (a Canadian who started at Seagram’s in Waterloo about 34 years ago) told me the key to the success of the company is innovation. They continually try out new ways to make whiskey to come up with an ever better product. One example is a “cured oak” whiskey aged in barrels made from oak staves that have been aged (seasoned) outdoors for 13 months instead of their average of six. They have micro-distilleries to try out for example brown rice bourbon recipes and the like.

Ken Pierce, Director of Distillation at Barton, said that the Sazerac Company has a good eight to nine ideas to innovate the Canadian whiskey category. I doubt that will mean more Fireball type recipes, despite that liquor’s runaway success. We can only bid our time like a barrel in a warehouse until the big reveal.

Cheers,

Margaret Swaine

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

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


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WineAlign Bus Tour - Prince Edward County


VINTAGES Presents: Primum Familiae Vini

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Second annual WineAlign Bus Tour to the Terroir Wine Festival and Much More! – Saturday May 9th.

Please join us for a fun (and wine) filled day in the ‘County’. We’ve planned an excellent adventure to Terroir, the County’s premier wine festival, as well as stops for lunch and dinner and wine tasting at several of our favourite wineries. Terroir is the annual showcase for new County wines.

Last year’s sold-out trip was so much fun and the feedback so overwhelmingly positive, that we decided to add a second bus this year.

Get on the bus!It’s a full day including:

  • Luxury coach travel between Toronto & Prince Edward County
  • Sparkling wine introduction to the county at Hinterland Estates
  • Gourmet lunch/dinner with wine at Rosehall Run Winery
  • Gourmet pizza lunch/dinner with wine at Norman Hardie Winery
  • Terroir Wine Festival in Picton, Ontario
  • Colour commentary by WineAlign’s David Lawrason & Sara d’Amato

Note that both buses will be visiting all the places listed above, only the order will be slightly different for each bus.

We’ve put together a fantastic day.  The cost of the sparkling welcome, lunch, Terroir and dinner including all taxes and gratuities is about $130.00.  Add onto the expense of driving from Toronto and you’re north of $200.00.  The price of our trip is $175.00 which includes all wine, food, taxes, fees and gratuities.  On top of that you’ll have room on the bus to store any wine you purchased at our stops, not to mention the peace of mind of not having to drive.

PURCHASE TICKETS HERE

Sparkling Introduction the County – Hinterland Winery

If you haven’t already had the chance to try one of Hinterland‘s sparkling wines, you are definitely in for a treat as we sample wines currently available at the winery. “Vicky Samaras and Jonas Newman decided to focus on sparkling wine from the start in 2007, and today make an excellent range of traditional, charmat and ancestral method bubbly.” – John Szabo, MS.

Terroir Wine Festival 

The Terroir Wine Festival is held annually in the historic Crystal Palace in Picton Ontario.  Many County wineries will introduce their new spring releases and serve their own unique wines paired with delicious cheeses and other gourmet food tastings.  We’ll spend two and a half hours enjoying and sampling the best wines the County has to offer.

Lunch or Dinner at Rosehall Run

Rosehall Run is one of our favourite wineries in the County crafting a wide range of critically aclaimed wines.

Food will be provided by Picnic catering.  Picnic PEC is a food truck operating out of Prince Edward County, ON. They offer picnic style lunches using the freshest, local produce and artisanal ingredients with a focus on healthy and tasty.

Lunch: (includes a gourmet sandwich, salad & wine)

Sandwiches:  Banh Mi, Caprese, Salami ; Salads: Kale Salad, French Fingerling Potato Salad, Quinoa Salad

Dinner: (served buffet style and includes wine)

Choice of pan seared pickerel or Cajun-spiced fried chicken. Salads: Pasta limone with asparagus, Kale salad, Mixed greens salad.

When purchasing tickets you will be able to see more details on the food options and you will be able to choose your lunch or dinner options.

Lunch or Dinner at Norman Hardie Winery

Norm’s gourmet wood-oven pizzas are almost as famous as his Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.  As his guest you’ll get to enjoy a pizza, salad, wine (and Norm!) during our visit.

Norm Hardie

 

PURCHASE TICKETS HERE

Itinerary: 

Itenary

We want to make our bus trip a great experience for everyone.  The last thing we want to do is deal with anyone who has over-indulged.  So while there will be lots of wine to drink, we encourage our members to spit in order to keep their palates sharp and better enjoy the amazing wines available in the County.

WineAlign promotes the responsible, legal and enjoyable consumption of wine to adults over 19 years of age. Please drink responsibly. Please arrange a designated driver to and from Yorkdale, or take public transit.  We will be emailing a RELEASE, WAIVER OF LIABILITY, AND ASSUMPTION OF RISK AGREEMENT out to all participants that will have to be signed and collected when boarding in Toronto.

PURCHASE TICKETS HERE

Below are comments and survey results from last year’s inaugural bus trip to the county.  We expect many people from last year’s trip to come back… that’s why we added the second bus.  Last year’s bus sold out in only a few days.  If you are interested in attending, please purchase your ticket quickly to avoid disappointment.

Terroir 2014 CommentsSource: 2014 WineAlign County Bus Tour Survey Comments

2014 PEC Bus Trip - Survey Results

Source: 2014 WIneAlign County Bus Tour Survey Results

PURCHASE TICKETS HERE

 


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Coldstream Hills Pinot Noir 2008