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Bill’s Best Bets – July 2015

Going weird with white is really not that risky
by Bill Zacharkiw

Bill Zacharkiw

Bill Zacharkiw

We are so fortunate in Quebec to have such exceptional access to so many wines from lesser known regions and appellations, especially from Europe. Often, these are the places one finds the strange grapes. While I love trying new grape varieties, I know many people are hesitant. So as many of you are on vacation over the next month, make an effort to try something new.

Here are some recently released white wines that fall into the category of “what the hell is that?” To make things easier for you, I have included comparisons, if possible, to well known wine styles and grape varieties so you know what you are getting.

The whites

If you want a wine that’s aromatic, rather than going for a pinot grigio, how about a moschofilero? You will find the same boisterous aromatics, but with a slightly richer texture. Indigenous to Greece’s Peloponnese, it’s a sure-fire hit and inexpensive alternative. Both the 2014 Mantinia from Tselepos and the 2013 Mantania from Greek Wine Cellars will do the trick.

If you like your wines a touch less aromatic but dry and crispy, à la sauvignon blanc, there are a number of alternatives. A killer wine I drank recently was the 2014 Cuvee Des Conti from Chateau Tour des Gendres. Made with a field blend of semillon, muscadelle with a bit of sauvignon, this is one of the best wines I have tasted this summer, and it’s under $20. Closer to home, the 2014 Cuvee William from Quebec winery, Riviere de Chene is wonderfully dry, and made with vandal-cliche, vidal and frontenac blanc.

Tselepos Classique Mantinia Moschofilero 2014 Greek Wine Cellars Moscofilero Mantinia 2013 Château Tour Des Gendres Cuvée Des Conti 2014 Vignoble De La Rivière Du Chêne Cuvée William Blanc 2014

For those searching for something delicate, that will work as both an aperitif and with lighter fare like white fish, oysters, and salads, how about the grape picpoul? This is the muscadet of the Languedoc and Chateau Saint-Martin de la Garrigue makes a great one, if richer than most. A true classic picpoul comes from the Maison Jeanjean, the Omarine and for under $13, won’t break the bank.

Château Saint Martin De La Garrigue Picpoul De Pinet 2013 Ormarine Picpoul De Pinet Les Pins De Camille 2014 Château Laffitte Teston Ericka 2013 Domaine Aupilhac Les Cocalières Blanc 2013

If you are looking for something more substantial, to pair with white meats or richer seafood, and want to try something other than chardonnay, then look to the 2013 Pacherenc du Vic Bilh from Chateau Laffitte-Teston. Made with gros and petit manseng along with petit courbu, this is a trippy wine that offers spice alongside the rich texture. One of the most regal wines I have tasted this summer comes from the Languedoc, and Domaine Auphilac. The 2013 Cocalieres is made with roussanne, vermentino, grenache and marsanne. Let this warm up to really appreciate its depth and texture.

What about those intriguing wines? The head scratchers which challenge, but reward you for taking a chance. One of those I absolutely loved hails from Corsica. The Corse Calvi 2014 Fiumeseccu from Domaine d’Alzipratu is one of those wines. Mineral, rich yet fresh, with a great complexity of fruit. If you love cooking with spice, this wine will eat it up! Of similar ilk, the 2013 Fiano di Avellino from Mastroberardino will spice up any seafood evening.

Domaine D'alzipratu Fiumeseccu 2014 Mastroberardino Fiano Di Avellino 2013 Dandy Sexy Dog Entre Pierre Et Terre Cidrerie Du Minot Crémant De Pomme 2013

And finally, most people don’t drink nearly enough bubbles. Nothing beats bubbles as an aperitif when it’s hot, and I love a good cider. From Entre Pierre et Terre, the Dandy Sexy Dog is a great cider – dry and refined. For a pure aperitif, if you want just a hint of sweetness, the Cremant from du Minot always impresses.

Bill

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

 

Editors Note: You can find Bill’s complete reviews by clicking on any of the highlighted wine names or bottle images above. Premium subscribers to Chacun son vin see all critic reviews immediately. Non-paid members wait 60 days to see newly posted reviews. Premium membership has its privileges; like first access to great wines!


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Darwineries

Hors des sentiers battus17 juillet 2015

par Marc Chapleau

Marc Chapleau

Marc Chapleau

L’évolution n’est pas qu’une théorie, dirais-je d’entrée de jeu pour singer ce bon vieux Charles. En tout cas, dans le vin, elle se vérifie. La preuve, si l’on veut, ce changement que j’ai pu observer au fil des années…

Quand j’en étais à mes premières armes dans le vin, je feuilletais jour après jour des livres comme Le Goût du vin, de l’oenologue français Émile Peynaud, et souvent je tiquais sur les photos : mais comment font-ils pour bien déguster dans de si petits verres, droits, ouvragés parfois, et qui ne se referment même pas vers le haut ?

À l’époque, fin des années 1980 et début des années 1990, le verre Inao (voir la photo) partout volait le show. C’était l’outil parfait, conçu par un sérieux et scientifique institut. Hauteur, largeur, épaisseur, courbes idéales, minceur du buvant pour un contact optimal là où on pose les lèvres… Bon sang ! un peu plus et on aurait couché avec, tellement il était canon, le petit !

[photo: À gauche, ce bon vieil Inao ; au milieu, l’Expert Tasting de Spiegelau ; et à droite, un verre qui ressemble au précédent mais en légèrement différent et en plus volumineux, fabriqué par Stölzle et que, personnellement, j’utilise de plus en plus.]

Marc1

 

L’ÉVOLUTION EN MARCHE

La prédominance de l’Inao a duré une quinzaine d’années. Puis, vers 2005, il a commencé à céder du terrain devant un nouveau venu : l’Expert Tasting, fabriqué par la maison Spiegelau, rachetée depuis par le géant Riedel.

Surtout pour les vins blancs, mais pas seulement, l’Expert s’est répandu comme une traînée de poudre : plus haut sur patte que l’Inao, moins pataud, et avec un calice plus gros, plus rond, qui laisse plus facilement les arômes s’exprimer.

Aujourd’hui, il n’y a pas photo, comme disent les cousins d’outre-mer, ceux qui ont un drôle d’accent pointu : au point où si nous, professionnels du vin, arrivons sur un lieu de dégustation et qu’on aperçoit de vieux et ringards Inao sur la table, eh bien on prend nos cliques et nos claques et on rebrousse chemin, pas question de déguster là-dedans.

J’exagère, à peine.

Sauf qu’on s’habitue à un format, et on en est rendu là, avec l’Expert Tasting. (Déguster dans un Inao demeure bien sûr possible, sauf que celui-ci a aujourd’hui la fâcheuse réputation de ne pas mettre les vins en valeur et, au contraire, de faire ressortir leurs éventuels défauts.)

LES AMOURS ÉPHÉMÈRES

Mais voilà, on n’arrête pas le progrès.

Moi qui ne jurais que par le remplaçant de l’Inao, voilà que je le trompe de plus en plus souvent. Même que ces temps-ci, l’Expert Tasting est à mes yeux devenu trop petit, trop étriqué, trop rabougri…

Je suis passé à l’acte pour de bon alors que j’achetais des verres pour un copain. J’étais dans la boutique, je capotais un peu sur l’étendue de l’offre — la segmentation est telle qu’on vend presque aujourd’hui des verres spécifiquement pour « vin rouge corsé du Nouveau Monde à base de cabernet-sauvignon moyennement boisé »…

Puis je vois les Exquisit du verrier « Stol-zé », ça doit se prononcer comme ça. J’aime leur forme, leur volume, j’en soupèse un, hmm, un peu lourd peut-être mais au moins comme ça, il ne sera pas trop cassant.

Il a une certaine surcharge pondérale, c’est vrai, mais rien à voir avec ces espèces de gros aquariums et de pots à fleurs qu’on nous propose parfois pour nous en mettre plein la vue.

Mainteant, la rangée d’Expert Tasting, à côté dans l’armoire, fait un peu pic-pic. Et que dire l’Inao ! Quel minus !

La seule chose qui me taraude, bien que je sois évidemment content d’avoir évolué, c’est : qu’est-ce que ce sera la prochaine fois ? Toujours plus gros, toujours plus haut ?

L’avenir le dira !

P.-S. Je n’ai pas ici parlé de l’autre référence, cet excellent verre avec lequel on déguste aujourd’hui tant le blanc que le rouge et le rosé et même le mousseux, parfois : l’Ouverture du fabricant Riedel, et plus précisément l’Ouverture à vin rouge.

~

À boire, aubergiste !

Voici mes suggestions de la semaine. Que vous boirez dans le type de verre que vous voulez, sauf que… s’il fait beau et pas mal chaud, mieux vaut opter pour un plus petit contenant, pour ne pas qu’une trop grande quantité de vin réchauffe trop vite. Le contexte, mon vieux, le contexte…

Le Pive Gris Rosé 2014 : Savoureux rosé du sud de la France, très pâle mais goûteux, avec de l’éclat et même un peu de gras, de texture. Bio, par-dessus le marché.

Saumur blanc Domaine Langlois-Chateau 2014  : Très bon blanc de la Loire à base de chenin blanc, à la fois vif et savoureux, marqué par des notes miellées ainsi qu’une odeur rappelant la résine de conifère.

Le Pive Gris Vin Rosé 2014Domaine Langlois Château St. Florent 2014Viña Cobos Felino Chardonnay 2014

Chardonnay Felino Vina Cobos Mendoza 2014 : Un restant de gaz carbonique avive dans ce blanc argentin des saveurs par ailleurs mûres, à la fois citronnées et vanillées. De la générosité (14,5 % d’alcool) ainsi qu’une certaine fraîcheur.

Rosé Le Grand Cros « L’Esprit de Provence » 2014  : Un rosé de Provence étonnamment puissant, corsé c’est dire, avec une belle richesse. L’équilibre est préservé parce que l’acidité est là, et qu’il n’y a pratiquement pas de sucre résiduel.

Pinot noir Pepik Josef Chromy Tasmanie 2013 : Un bon pinot noir du sud de l’Australie, de la Tasmanie en fait, au nez fumé, de rhubarbe et de mûre aussi. En bouche, l’ensemble est encore bien tendu, légèrement tannique.

Le Grand Cros l'Esprit de Provence 2014 Josef Chromy Pepik Pinot Noir 2013Masi Tupungato Passo Doble Malbec Corvina 2013Alma Negra 2013

Passo Doble Malbec-Corvina Masi Tupungato 2013 : Mariage réussi entre l’Argentine (le malbec) et la Vénétie (la corvina). Une certaine complexité au nez, des notes d’herbes amères et de griotte, notamment. En bouche la fraîcheur est là, sur fond agréablement tannique et astringent.

Alma Negra 2013 : Un assemblage de malbec (85 %) et de bonarda (15 %) et une coentreprise dans laquelle est notamment engagée la famille Catena. Résultat : un vin corsé, avec du coffre, passablement boisé mais aussi bien pourvu en fruit et en acidité.

Santé !

 

Marc

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


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Buyers’ Guide to VINTAGES July 25th, Part One: Wine to Chill

By John Szabo MS with wine notes from David Lawrason

Don’t Forget to Chill Those Reds

John Szabo, MS

John Szabo, MS

A water-and-ice-filled bucket might just be the greatest wine gadget ever invented. Just a few minutes in one of these simple but magical devices can turn your red wine from a flabby, alcoholic and soupy drinking chore, into a crisp, fresh and fruity thirst-quenching delight. Not only in summer, but throughout the year, red wines are almost always served too warm; anything above 20ºC is a service faux-pas akin to aerating in a blender. For many reds, 12º-14ºC is far better. Most restaurants are guilty of this disservice. All of those open reds sitting out on the back bar in July? Forget them. That goes for January too. Don’t be afraid to ask for the ice bucket when dining out. At home, you’re in full control, so use the fridge, or your own ice bucket, to bring those reds into the best temperature zone to maximize enjoyment.

This report focuses on and handful of reds (and whites), which are particularly sensitive to temperature. The LCBO calls them “Wines to Chill” – the main theme for the July 25th VINTAGES release. David and I have included our top picks that are best with a chill, including whites. Read on to find out why temperature matters, or just skip to the recommendations.

Why Temperature Matters

When it comes to eating and drinking, temperature matters. Cold cheese straight from the fridge, for example, offers only a shadow of its aroma and flavor potential. Warm soft drinks are mostly sugary, aggressively carbonated, and hard to swallow. Chefs also know that any dish served cold, such as terrines, patés, or soups, need to be slightly more salted than the same dish served hot, because your perception of salt decreases at lower temperatures; that’s to say things taste less salty. The interplay between temperature and sensory perception likely occurs by many mechanisms, including the direct action of temperature on sensory receptors, but in any case, it’s clear that people’s taste receptors are modulated by temperature change. Basically, the same foods and wines taste different at different temperatures, so when you’re serving wine, consider the effects, both positive and negative, of the wine’s temperature.

Aromatics

Temperature dramatically affects aromatics. At a chemical level, when a substance is warm, its molecules vibrate fast. When cold, they slow down. In other words, the colder a wine is, the slower and less volatile its aromatic compounds are, and thus the less aromatic a wine will be. At the other end, when a wine is too warm, many of the enjoyable aromatic molecules are so active they’re gone before you can smell them, leaving little but the light burn of alcohol vapors. It’s always smarter to err on the side of too chilled than too warm – cold wine will warm up. The only solution for a glass of hot red wine is an ice-cube, which is not ideal.

Taste and Texture

Beyond aromatics, temperature also affects wine texture and taste. Wine served cold seems more acidic (which makes it more refreshing), fruitier, and more tannic (which makes it more astringent and bitter). This is why red wines are generally served warmer than whites: they contain tannin (the substance in wine that causes the astringent, drying, mouth-puckering sensation), while whites and rosés rarely have any tannin at all. The curious thing about tannin is that you perceive its drying effect more at lower temperatures. That means if you take the same tannic wine and serve it at both 10ºC and 18ºC, the cooler sample will appear more astringent and more bitter, perhaps unpleasantly so. At 18ºC the wine will still be tannic, but much more tolerable. Then when decanted and served with a little salty protein, the tannins may no longer be a significant factor at all.

But many reds grapes have naturally low tannin levels such as Gamay, Pinot Noir, Grenache, Tempranillo, and Barbera. These wines are more enjoyable when served with a chill, as are most unoaked reds of any variety. You can increase the fresh, fruity aspect without danger of making them too astringent. Creeping alcohol levels across the world is yet another reasons to serve reds chilled to knock down the burn of alcohol. And because the majority of red wines produced today are intended for immediate consumption, that is, with little tannin, you can serve just about every thing in your cellar at least slightly chilled, especially in the summer and with spicy foods. Even your most prized bottle of massive, concentrated red wine is best below room temperature, which for most folks is above 20ºC.

Bottom line: serving wines cooler increases their crispness, fruitiness, and astringency, and decreases aromatic intensity. Serving wines warmer makes them seem more sweet, flabby and alcoholic, less fruity and less astringent.

Buyers’ Guide: Reds To Chill

Remelluri Lindes De Remelluri 2010 Viñedos De Labastida, Rioja, Spain ($22.95)
John Szabo – Here’s a classy, polished, well composed and elegant “second” wine from the respected Rioja house of Remelluri. Made from vineyards in the village of Labastida, adjacent to the historic Granja Nuestra Señora de Remelluri estate, it’s neither ultra modern nor traditional in style, finding it’s own just balance. I appreciate the finesse and elegance; a very classy wine over delivering by a wide margin. Best at 16ºC, from 2015-2022.

The Good Earth 2012 Gamay Noir, VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario ($19.95)
John Szabo – Gamay is a classic candidate for chilling, capitalizing on the variety’s mists of strawberry, raspberry and red currants, and increasing the cut of its juicy acids. The Good Earth’s wines have improved notably since bringing on winemaker Ross Wise (also at Keint-He), and this 2012 is delightful, especially alongside a plate of charcuterie or grilled sausages.

Remuelluri Lindes de Remelluri Viñedos de Labastida 2010 The Good Earth Gamay Noir 2012 Seven Terraces Pinot Noir 2013 Lailey Merlot 2013

Seven Terraces 2013 Pinot Noir, Canterbury, New Zealand ($19.95)
John Szabo – Lighter style pinot, like this crunchy, leafy, cool climate example from Canterbury on New Zealand’s south island, needs a light chill to deliver its full message of refreshment.

Lailey 2013 Merlot, VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario ($24.95)
John Szabo –  Merlot swings both ways, from delicate and elegant to dense and extracted. Derek Barnet’s version leans to the former style, an open, honest, no-nonsense wine with lovely fresh herbal notes, lively red and black fruit, minimal oak and maximum floral-violet character. It’s reminiscent of cool climate malbec, a positive association.

Buyers Guide: Whites (To Chill)

Dog Point Vineyard 2012 Chardonnay, Marlborough, New Zealand ($42.95)
John Szabo – This is a chardonnay of terrific intensity, so be sure not to serve ice cold (10-12ºC would be about right). Though the lovely, edgy, reductive-flintiness character will shine through at any temperature. A classy example from one of New Zealand’s most reliable and accomplished producers, and fine value in the worldwide context of premium chardonnay. Best 2017-2026.

Jean-Max Roger 2013 Cuvée Les Caillottes Sancerre, Loire, France ($26.95)
John Szabo – Here’s another terrific Sancerre from the ultra-reliable Jean-Max Roger, this one very floral and mineral, like an essence of chalk dust and sweet green herbs. Best 2015-2020.

Dog Point Vineyard Chardonnay 2012 Jean Max Roger Cuvée Les Caillottes Sancerre 2013 Momo Pinot Gris 2014 Bailly Lapierre Réserve Brut Crémant De Bourgogne

Momo 2014 Pinot Gris Marlborough, New Zealand ($19.95)
John Szabo – Tone down the impression of sweetness in this rich, Alsatian-style gris with a proper chill. It’s quite unctuous and indeed off-dry with overripe orchard fruit, yet balanced by more than sufficient acids. Length and depth are excellent for the money – a terrific option with spiced-up dishes.
David Lawrason Momo is a second label of Seresin, a prominent organic producer. NZ tends to like its ‘gris’ on the lush side. This has generous ripe peach cobbler, bready, honey and floral notes. It’s quite full bodied, fleshy and warm with some firm acidity. I wouldn’t open it for refreshment in the hot sun, but over an evening meal of chicken, pork – with Asian accents – it could perform very nicely.

Bailly Lapierre Réserve Brut Crémant De Bourgogne, Burgundy, France ($19.95)
John Szabo – Bubbles last longer in chilled wine, and are perceived as less aggressive. Low temp also hides the pinch of sugar added to virtually all sparkling wines to balance their ripping acids. This is a beautifully balanced crémant, elegant and fresh, with a fine streak of stony flavour, hazelnuts and marzipan, and fresh brioche. And half bottles ($11.95) are perfect for two.

Tenute Messieri 2012 Visioni Offida Pecorino, Marche, Italy ($16.95)
John Szabo – I love the unusual herbal and resinous, licorice, tarragon and citrus zest notes in this pecorino, a wine to take you out of the rut of standardized fruity white wines. Perfect for fresh herb-inflected salads and fish dishes on the terrace, chilled, of course.

d’Arenberg 2014 The Stump Jump White, McLaren Vale, South Australia ($14.95)
David Lawrason – This is a creative blend from one of the iconic producers of McLaren Vale, nicely combining riesling, sauvignon with Rhone white varieties like roussanne and marsanne. It is mid-weight and quite fresh without distinct characteristics, as often is the case with blends. Nicely bridges refreshment and richness, and it has the weight to stand up to grilled foods.

Tenute Messieri Visioni Offida Pecorino 2012 d'Arenberg The Stump Jump White 2014 Crossbarn Chardonnay 2013 Wolfberger Signature Muscat 2013 Miraval Rosé 2014

Crossbarn 2013 Chardonnay, Sonoma Coast, California ($29.95)
David Lawrason – This is from Paul Hobbs, a very successful international winemaker born and raised in a vineyard in upper New York State, and currently consulting at Stratus in Niagara.  The oak is very nicely played here – supportive of the peach fruit with leesy/vaguely toasty complexity. It’s mid-weight, serious yet fresh. A style to which more California wineries should aspire.

Wolfberger 2103 Signature Muscat, Alsace, France ($16.95)
David Lawrason – This is a dry muscat, a style that Alsace is doing better than any other region. I love the soaring aromas of lavender, spice, shaved ginger, orange marmalade and persimmon. Exotic indeed. Chill well and serve with Asian inspired salads, pad thai. I was reminded of Argentine torrontes.

Miraval 2014 Rosé, Côtes de Provence, France ($22.95)
David Lawrason – This is perhaps the best ‘Brangelina’ rose yet (by Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie). It’s more restrained and lower alcohol than previous years. Very pale pearl pink colour typical of Provence. Lovely soft and pure aromas of red plum, watermelon with vague herbs. It’s mid-weight, very smooth, dry and elegant. A fine afternoon sipper but do not overchill.

Ktima Gerovassiliou 2014 White, Epanomi, Greece ($18.95)
David Lawrason – No austerity measures here. This is a lively, firm blend of malagousia and assyrtiko – two principal indigenous grapes of Greece. It has a quite lifted, exotic nose of lychee, pineapple, fennel and clover honey, with some white pepper. It’s mid-weight, fresh, lively and quite spicy on the palate and finish. Very good value.

Ktima Gerovassiliou White 2014 Jermann Pinot Grigio 2014 Dal Cero Pinot Grigio 2013 Louis Jadot Clos de Malte Santenay Blanc 2011

Jermann 2014 Pinot Grigio, Venezia-Giulia, Italy ($31.95)
David Lawrason – I am dead certain most would never venture $30 on an Italian pinot grigio, but this does not mean the category can’t attain these heights. For a generation Jermann has been a leading producer of Italian white wines. And if you prize, elegance, purity, subtlety and finesse you will love this understated wine.

Dal Cero 2013 Pinot Grigio, Veneto, Italy ($15.95)
David Lawrason – This was not highlighted in VINTAGES Chillable feature but add it to the list.  It is a quite lovely, light, fresh and pure pinot grigio with apple, florals and lemon. Straightforward, zesty and pure with very good length. Ideal for an Ontario summer.

Louis Jadot 2011 Clos De Malte Santenay, Burgundy, France ($39.95)
David Lawrason – A good buy in serious white Burgundy – and underpriced because Santenay doesn’t have the cachet of neighbouring Chassagne-Montrachet.  It is quite powerful, well-structured and complex with lifted notes of barrel toast, lemon curd, pear puree, candle wax and toasted almond. It is mid-weight, firm and quite dry. Excellent length. Drink over the next three years (maybe longer).

 

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

From VINTAGES July 25th, 2015
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!


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BC Wine Report: Reinventing Tasting Rooms

by Rhys Pender, MWJuly 16, 2015

 

Rhys Pender, MW

Rhys Pender, MW

I’ve just come back from a quick visit to Walla Walla Washington, the town so nice they named it twice. If you haven’t visited the place, the region isn’t much to look at compared with the visual beauty of BC wine regions and in fact it was pretty hard to find any vineyards at all amongst the sea of golden fields of wheat. They have got one thing very right though in Walla Walla and that is the vibrancy of the town and the way the place is energized with over 20 small tasting rooms in the downtown, all within walking distance. This is a concept that I think could revitalize many BC towns.

Walla Walla is about the size of Penticton and equally remote as it is over four hours drive from the main markets of Seattle and Portland. Yet, it has managed to become a thriving wine town, a real food and wine destination. There are many parallels with Penticton in the Okanagan and imagine the boost the town could get if it too became a hub for the local wine industry with a vibrant downtown filled with tastings rooms?

It is not that things are going badly for winery tasting rooms in British Columbia but there is starting to be an awful lot of them and the pieces of the wine tourism pie are getting spread ever thinner as growth in the number of tasting rooms outpaces the growth in numbers of wine tourists. Naramata Bench now has nearly 40 wineries. Investment in creating an attractive tasting room and staffing it is resulting in lower and lower returns, unless the draw of a great wine reputation or such a magnificent facility is enough to help you take a bigger piece of the pie.

Tasting rooms are important for many wineries. Having customers actually make the effort and come to the vineyard and winery and see things first hand can result in a relationship that no amount of advertising, marketing and public relations could ever achieve. They can meet the main people involved in the business, see the vineyards and forever have that personal link to a place. But with so many wineries spread so far apart it makes it inefficient for both visitors and winery investment. Could downtown tasting rooms in the small towns of BC be just what is needed for a new lease of life?

Seven Hills Winery

Many of the wine towns of BC would hardly be considered to be bustling and instead are often teetering on the edge with many small but characterful shop fronts sitting empty and the towns looking and feeling unloved and neglected. Picture a number of wineries giving these empty shops a facelift and setting up individual or combined tasting rooms where wine lovers could come and taste a whole bunch of wines from a sub-region without having to drive for miles and miles between each stop.

Think of the benefits that could arise as these towns become destinations and all of a sudden there is the need for restaurants, cafés, artisans, small hotels and countless other amenities to cater to the tourist. Jobs, a boost to the economy – only good things as far as I can see. Less people driving on the road should also reduce risks of drinking and driving as people could park in a town for the night and explore the region’s wines before eating at its restaurants and staying at its hotels. This certainly seems to be the plan in Walla Walla.

A more visible presence in the town could also help wineries become a more integrated part of the local community, something that doesn’t always exist as the sudden rise of the wine industry has often been met by resentment and mistrust in small communities. Even though it isn’t justified and wineries are generally big supporters of local communities the feeling that winery owners are generally rich outsiders prevails. The world is full of examples where a community embracing its wine industry and vice versa has given a giant boost to its wellbeing.

It is understandable that many wineries would be against the concept of downtown tasting rooms as they have worked hard and spent a lot of money building destinations and a strong customer base that comes to visit the winery. Nobody would want these off-site tasting rooms to completely replace visits to a winery, as seeing a place and its vines is essential to showcasing a region and a brand. Downtown tasting rooms would have to be in addition to what is on offer and could take the form of a second tasting room for some producers. They would provide an efficient way for both growth in new wine customers and allow small wineries to have a presence when they can’t compete on grandeur for driving traffic to the winery door.

The concept of downtown tasting rooms might not work for every place, as there simply might not be enough traffic through the town to justify it. It could, however, expand the number of customers as there are probably many potential wine customers who drive through places like Keremeos, Summerland, Oliver or Okanagan Falls to whom the wineries are merely names on signs and possibly considered too intimidating to visit. We can’t forget that many customers are still incredibly intimidated by wine and that visiting a winery would be like throwing oneself into the fire.

It is still legality that is holding back this concept. Currently, satellite tasting rooms are not allowed in BC although the issue has been at the forefront during the recent reforms to the liquor laws in the Province and the government appeared to support satellite tasting rooms as an area of priority. The concept was floated along with the idea of allowing sales of BC wine in farmers’ markets, which has received the green light and is happening successfully. For some reason, progression on satellite tasting rooms has come to a standstill.

It feels to me that allowing towns to showcase local wineries away from the traditional boundaries of their production facility could be a win-win for all. There would be benefits to the towns, reduced costs to the wineries, more consumers, a greater integration of the wine business with local communities and even a few safety benefits. This could help make some of these BC towns’ serious wine towns to visit. The side benefits are immense and, quite simply, the whole concept just makes sense.

Rhys Pender, MW

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WineAlign in BC

The BC Wine Report is a look at all things in the BC Wine Industry. In addition to this, we publish our popular 20 Under $20 shopping guide and the BC Critics’ Picks report including the wines that excite us each month. Treve Ring shares her wine travel adventures in a periodic report entitled: Treve Travels. 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. Hope you enjoy.

 


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Buy The Case: Cavinona Wine Agency

A Report on Consignment Wines in Ontario

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Each month we will taste wines submitted by one importing agent. WineAlign core critics will independently, as always, taste, review and rate the wines – good, bad and indifferent, and those reviews will be posted to WineAlign. We will then independently recommend wines to appear in our Buy The Case report. Importers pay for this service. Ads for some wines may appear at the same time, but the decision on which wines to put forward in our report, if any, is entirely up to each critic, as it is with our reviews of in-store wines.

These recommended wines can only be purchased by the case from importers registered in the LCBO’s Consignment Program. They are ‘already landed and stocked’ wines that can be delivered directly to your restaurant, home or office. For an explanation of the program, the process and our 10 Good Reasons to Buy the Case, please click here.

July – Cavinona Wine Agency

Cavinona was launched close to a decade ago as an independent business mainly to supply the Terroni Group of restaurants with unique Italian wines. The original company remit was to fill the gaps in selection of Italian wines then available through the consignment program in Ontario, which at the time was heavily skewed towards the usual name brand appellations. Traditional producers in under-represented regions were the focus, especially from the south. Such was the success that the portfolio was expanded significantly, and now covers a broad swath of the Peninsula (still exclusively Italian). Demand has also led to direct-to-consumers sales. But Cavinona’s emphasis on small-scale, regionally authentic producers, with few exceptions, remains largely intact. The wines provided to WineAlign for review represent just a fraction of the portfolio; the full selection can be sampled at any of the Terroni locations in Toronto, with many available by the glass. – JS   [Disclosure: John Szabo used to consult for the Terroni Restaurant Group]

Click on the wine name or bottle image to see full reviews by the WineAlign team. Prices shown below are retail and do not include taxes (licensee prices may be less). Cavinona has submitted their agency profile with more details below.

Cellaring Wine

Fattoria Di Milziade Antano Montefalco Sagrantino 2011

Fattoria Di Milziade Antano Montefalco Sagrantino 2011John Szabo – Sagrantino is a burly wine at the best of times, but in the hands of ultra-traditionalist Francesco Antano, following in his father Milziade’s footsteps, this example is a massive grizzly bear of a wine, with Amarone-like dried fruit extract. And at 15.5% alcohol there’s a significant dried grape component to be sure. This is how I imagine wine might have been made in Umbria in the 16th century (although probably sweeter). Tannins are thick and chewy – you’ll need a chain saw to carve a path to the finish if you open it now. It’s not to be touched without a giant roast of beef or lamb on the table, or hard cheese, or anything with salt and protein to soften the impact. Better yet, tuck this away for a decade; it will reward patience. For the Cellar.

David Lawrason – This is pricey, but not out of the realm at $50. This traditionally rendered example is 100% sagrantino aged over three years in large oak, and several months in bottle before release. It pours deep ruby black. The nose is chock full of blueberry/prunish and black olive fruit well framed by spicy, woodsy oak and licorice. It’s full bodied, dense and firmly tannic and drying yet surprisingly, not too austere. The length is excellent. Ready to drink now despite the tannins suggesting otherwise. They will melt into a hearty stew or lasagna.

Steve Thurlow – Though this is fine to drink now it will surely improve in the cellar over the next decade if one can resist. It is a deep almost opaque ruby red made from the sagrantino grape with an appealing elegant nose of black cherry fruit with a floral tone plus licorice, black olive, prune and tar. The fullbodied palate is well balanced by soft acidity making it feel lighter and adding to the elegance. The finish is dry with the fruit persisting well. Excellent length. It is fine now but will reward from some time in the cellar.

Fattoria Di Milziade Antano 2011 Montefalco Rosso Riserva

Fattoria Di Milziade Antano Montefalco Rosso Riserva 2011David Lawrason – Proprietor and winemaker Francisco Antano is making quite traditional, concrete fermented, long aged reds in Montefalco. The ‘Riserva’ is based on 65% sangiovese with sagrantino, merlot and cabernet sauvignon, aged 36 months in large barrels. This is a very seductive, rich but old-styled, slightly oxidative and volatile red. The bouquet nicely weaves complex leather, dusty wood, forest notes and curranty fruit, with a touch of acetone. It’s full bodied, dense and smooth with impressive texture. The acetic notes creeps on the finish. The length is excellent. Needs a rich meat dish.

Michael Godel – The WineAlign team tasted three wines by Milziade side by side by side. This was a great learning experience and a portal into their style. It also allowed us to imagine the aging potential of these monster reds from Umbria. This is Italian wine to define the meaning of provinciale, deeply ingrained for place, history and tradition. This Riserva is a perfect candidate for up to 10 years in the cellar.

Function Wines

Contadi Castaldi Franciacorta Rosé, Lombardy

Steve Thurlow – This is a very classy rose bubbly that would be a sure hit at an upmarket reception if those attending are Champagne lovers. It is a pale caramel in colour but there is little sign of worrisome oxidation to its complex nose of white cherry fruit with mineral and brioche aromas plus some floral and mild toffee notes, which could easily be mistaken for real Champagne. The palate is lightweight with a touch of sweetness and lively vibrant acidity. Finely balanced with very good to excellent length.

David Lawrason – This very pale, almost pearl pink traditional method rose is made from 60% chardonnay, 40% pinot noir, part of which was aged in barrel as a first wine. Together they were aged 24 months on the lees. It has a fairly generous, vaguely sour cherryish fruit, bready and mineral nose that could easily be mistaken for Champagne. It’s light-bodied, slim and quite elegant with a touch of sweetness. Really very tender, but not soft. The length is very good to excellent. Good value in elegant rose bubbly.

Micheal Godel – Franciacorta is not the most well-known or understood bubbles but it can be fascinating stuff. This is a total, classical, storied package of gastronomy in a bottle. Not so much Rosé as much as bubbles with a fostered history of age.

La Cavalchina 2014 Bardolino Chiaretto, Veneto

La Cavalchina Bardolino Chiaretto 2014 Contadi Castaldi Franciacorta RoséMichael Godel – It’s summer and with outdoor functions in full swing, every host needs to have a Rosé on hand. Bardolino from Verona in the Italian Veneto does blush in a beautifully subtle way. This Chiaretto is a true food Rosé. It has everything you might want or need to pair with a feast of cuisine.

David Lawrason – This pale coppery, onion-skin shaded rose is from the shores of Lago di Garda in northeast Italy. Chiaretto is the local name for the rose genre in this area. It has mild and subtle nose of dried strawberry and herbs. It’s light to medium bodied with firm but not tart acidity, a hint of background sweetness yet a dry, slightly mineral and earthy finish. Nice sense of poise and polish, with very good length.

Personal House Wines

Terre Di Giurfo 2013 Kudyah Nero d’Avola, Sicily

John Szabo – This is a pretty, floral, rather elegant version of Sicily’s flagship red variety, with fine-grained, dusty tannins and lively acids. I love the freshness and balance here, often missing in many over-wrought versions of nero d’avola. It’s the sort of versatile, easy-drinking, but authentic and characterful wine you want to have around at all times. Drink with a light chill.

Michael Godel – Kudyah is the arabic name for the Sicilian town of Licodea Eubea nearest to the producer Terre di Giurfo’s vineyards. Nero d’Avola not shrouded in oak, full of red fruit and all about simple, direct pleasure. A stress reliever. What else can you ask to get out of a house wine?

Contadi Franciacorta N/V Brut, Lombardia

John Szabo – No house should be without a stock of bubbly on hand, and this Franciacorta plays double duty: classy (and expensive) enough to impress on special occasions, yet not so far out of reach that grabbing a bottle on Tuesday night will end in financial ruin. Contadi (est. 1987) is a quality spin-off operation from the excellent Bellavista winery in the same region (under the Terra Moretti umbrella), a lovely fullish and fleshy Franciacorta, on the richer side of brut to be sure, ample, mouthfilling and satisfying.

David Lawrason – Franciacorta is considered the finest classic method sparkler of Italy. It’s a nicely slim, fairly intensely flavoured bubbly with a hint of sweetness cushioning the tart acidity. Expect complex aromas of dried pear/apple fruit, almond, light toast and an undercurrent of mushroomy earthiness. Lively, light and pleasant on the palate, with serious flavour depth. Excellent length; very good value.

Terre di Giurfo Kudyah Nero d'Avola 2013Contadi Castaldi Franciacorta BrutCarvinea Frauma 2008

Gifting Wines

Carvinea 2008 Frauma, IGT Salento Rosso, Puglia

John Szabo – Although this is a thoroughly modern wine made by consulting oenologist Riccardo Cotarella in his unabashedly international style, and has little to do with Pugliese traditions, it’s nonetheless a bottle with massive appeal that will impress widely. The blend of 60% Aglianico, and 40% Petit Verdot yields plenty of dark, ultra ripe fruit, very dense, battling with generous lashings of coffee-flavoured oak for domination on the palate. This could handily compete with many in the super Tuscan genre; be sure to share with your naysaying friends who believe that Italy begins and ends in Florence.

David Lawrason – Wow – great aromatic fireworks here, with considerable depth and elegance. No wonder it has earned a rare three glasses from Gambero Rosso. The winery is small but consulting winemaker Riccardo Cotarella is a big name in Italian wine. Love the lifted, complex riot of dried currant/pruny fruit, soya, balsamic, olive and smoked herbs. It’s full bodied, intense yet silky on the palate, with excellent to outstanding focus and length. Love the mineral/pencil lead trail petit verdot leaves on the finish.

Steve Thurlow – This is an excellent complex Italian red that would be a good restaurant wine by the glass since it is from a relatively unknown region and is consequently well priced for such a complex wine and would benefit from some promotion (plus any wine remaining in an opened bottle would probably improve over several days). It has a very enticing nose of dried blackcurrant, black cherry and prune fruit with smokey bacon, dried herbs, kelp and tobacco. The palate is midweight and very juicy with fine balancing tannin and vibrant acidity. Excellent length and great focus. Will gain in complexity as the tannins fold into the wine.

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For more reviews, visit the agent’s profile page on WineAlign: Cavinona Wine Agency. Because these wines are not in stores, remember to click “All sources” and “show wines with zero inventory” to see all of the reviews.

Cavinona Wine Agency

Editors Note: You can find complete critic reviews by clicking on any of the highlighted wine names or bottle images above. 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!

This report was sponsored by the Cavinona Wine Agency. WineAlign critics have independently recommended the above wines based on reviews that are posted on WineAlign as part of this sponsored tasting. Cavinona has provided the following agency profile with more details on their consignment program and delivery options.

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Cavinona Wine Agency

Cavinona Wine AgencyCavinona is an Ontario-based wine agency that imports Italian wines.

Cavinona has handpicked over fifty wine producers throughout the Italian peninsula and distributes their wines exclusively to the Terroni family of restaurants and to private consumers through our online store at www.cavinona.com.

We seek out small regional producers who are driven by passion for quality and devotion to traditional Italian culture. All our wines come from producers who go against the grain of mass marketing and the homogenization of wine. Rather, they strive to uphold the principles of regional diversity. Our producers create wine that reflects the indigenous grape varieties and the soils and climate of their region.

Our goal is to offer the best expressions of Italy’s enormous range of native grape varieties. From vintners whose winemaking philosophies tend toward tradition and minimal intervention, we invite you to discover wines that are true to the grape, the people and the place.

For consumers living within the Toronto area we offer daytime delivery to your home or office starting at $10.50 for the first case (5 cases or more are free). For clients living outside of the Toronto area we can also ship wines to an LCBO of your choice at no extra cost. The shipment usually takes 2-4 weeks, but may take up to 8 depending on the business of the season and distance the case must travel. Your chosen LCBO store will give you a call to let you know when your order has arrived.

You can subscribe to our Newsletter here.

www.cavinona.com – (416) 203-6108

 


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Season 5, Table 11 of “So, You Think you Know Wine?”

Quality Côtes du Rhône (aka Succulent Richness)

Table 11 brings us to the end of the preliminary rounds of So, You Think You Know Wine? Jennifer Huether MS, John Szabo MS, Will Predhomme, and Brad Long battle it out for a spot in the semi-finals. Watch John have an Archimedes moment, Jennifer and Will give very confident answers, and Brad’s beard of dreams.

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Click here to watch Table 11 or read on to learn more about the contestants and the scoring method.

Score Card:

Have a look at the score card below to see how the contestants are doing. 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.

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Table 11

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.

Jennifer Huether, MS

Jennifer is the first and only female Master Sommelier in Canada. She has a wealth of experience in hospitality and restaurant managment which includes creating award-winning wine program as head sommelier for Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment. She then went on to become brand ambassador and education director for Cliff Lede Vineyards and now is brand ambassador for Jackson Family Wines.

Jennifer

Brad Long

Brad is a well-known Toronto chef who has appeared on the Food Network’s show Restaurant Makeover. For 10 years he was head chef at the Air Canada Centre and he is now owner of Cafe Belong and Belong Catering.

brad

Will Predhomme

Will Predhomme is a prominent Canadian Professional Sommelier, beverage business development specialist, and industry liaison. Will’s experience reflects a career based in the beverage alcohol, hospitality, education, government and private sectors. For several years, he was the Senior Sommelier at Canoe Restaurant. Now he teaches WSET courses, is o-producer of Ontario and Oregon-made wines, host of The Globe & Mail Wine Basics videos, and is Managing Director of Predhomme Market Insights. He is an Advanced Sommelier with the Court of Master Sommeliers and in 2010 he won the title of Best Ontario Sommelier.

will

John Szabo, MS

John is Canada’s first Master Sommelier. He’s a partner and principal critic for WineAlign and authors the bi-monthly Vintages Buyer’s Guide. John is wine editor for Toronto’s CityBites Magazine and is author of Pairing Food and Wine For Dummies. John also designs wine programs, teaches, speaks, judges and travels around the world, and to round out his experience and get closer to the land, he also owns a small vineyard in Eger, Hungary, the J&J Eger Wine Co. These days you’ll find him climbing volcanoes.

John 1

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
Table 9 – Root: 1 Carmenère 2012
Table 10 – Villa Maria Private Bin Pinot Noir 2012

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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Chablis – the Original Cool Climate Chardonnay

Treve’s TravelsJuly 14, 2015

by Treve Ring

Treve Ring

Treve Ring

In light of this week’s i4c in Niagara and the 5th anniversary of the International Cool Climate Chardonnay Association, it seemed fitting to take a closer look at the original cool climate chardonnay, Chablis.

Back in 2011, thirty Ontario wineries came together to form the International Cool Climate Chardonnay Association as a not-for-profit group dedicated to reinstating Chardonnay’s dignity. According to organizers at inception, “It’s time for Chardonnay to return to centre stage. It’s time for the re-birth of Cool.”

All ‘Bout Chardonnay

Chardonnay is proof positive that everything old becomes cool again. After attaining a pinnacle of popularity in the late 1980s, the inevitable backlash spurned the ubiquitous ABC movement – Anything But Chardonnay. Naysayers flogged the overoaked, flabby, mass-produced wines that had been pumped out to meet consumer demand worldwide. The adaptable and hearty grape flourishes easily in most climates and conditions, making it one of the most widely-planted grape varieties on the globe, planted in more wine regions than any other. The final results are a spectrum of flavours and styles – from pristine Blanc de Blancs Champagne to flinty and precise Chablis and from noble Burgundian heavyweights to creamy Californian ripeness and yes, even to lusciously sweet icewine.

The Chardonnay grape itself is fairly neutral, owing a great deal of its flavour to vineyard and winemaking decisions. It’s a blank canvas for winemakers to colour and control – too oft, in the past, with overuse of wood. When oak isn’t allowed to overpower, the clean, crisp nature of the grape emerges. Cooler climates preserve this freshness and help balance the alcohol, which is naturally on the higher side. Higher altitude and latitude helps, as does aggressive pruning and canopy management. Clonal selection is key too, as there are dozens of clones, each with pros and cons to be matched to site. When yields are kept low and hands are kept at bay, chardonnay is a terroir transmitter. Chardonnay especially loves limestone and chalky soils – found in abundance in the grape’s traditional and glorious homeland of Chablis and Burgundy.

Chablis Terroir & The Idea of Climats

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The name Chablis originates from two Celtic words: “cab” (house) and “leya” (near to the woods). Remnants from a Neolithic village, and later structures dating back to the Gauls show that humans lived in the area for centuries. Romans brought vines to Chablis between the 1st – 3rd Century, establishing vine growing and wine production before Cistercian Monks arrived in the 12th Century.

The northernmost wine district of Burgundy, Chablis is on the fringe of where chardonnay can ripen and thrive naturally. The continental climate contributes to wines with distinct acidity and purity of flavours and aromas, with warm summers and cold, often snowy winters. Sudden freezes in April or May pose a huge threat to budding or flowering vines; major efforts are made to mitigate frost damage and to heat the vineyards as soon as the threat of frost arises. Gas burning and oil vine heaters, chaufferettes, were first used in Chablis the 1950’s and are still in use in some low lying areas today, where fog threatens to pool. These heaters can help limit frost damage by maintaining temperatures above freezing even at -5°C. Spraying vines with water when temperatures drop is another method, creating a wee igloo around the vine bud. Naturally, both heating and spraying are costly measures, though not as pricey as hiring helicopters to hover over the vineyards to break up and warm frost-risk air – a practice among some producers.

Rolling hills and valleys extend out like a star from the town of Chablis, halved by the serenity of the River Serein. The river divides the region into two distinct parts: The Left Bank and the Right Bank. There are approximately 5400ha under vine divided amongst 350 growers and spread over approximately 20km from north to south and 15km from east to west. The Premier Cru and Grand Cru sites are clustered in the nexus of the star, with the seven contiguous Grand Cru climats hugging the right bank slope above Chablis.

Walking map showing the proximity of the Grand Crus to town of Chablis

Walking map showing the proximity of the Grand Crus to town of Chablis

Soils are key here, with the precisely delimited climats mapped along the range of soil types and altitude. The notion of climats, the first written trace of which was scripted in Chablis (1540), is a shared ethos across Bourgogne and illustrate the inherent importance of the terroir. These named plots of vines have unique and subtle combinations of aspect, slope, elevation and soil geology, each transmitting a unique identity and character. In Chablis, 47 climat names can appear on wine labels; 40 for Premier Cru and seven for Grand Cru.

Chablis’ soils are located in a sedimentary basin. The main substrate is Jurassic limestone, specifically Kimmeridgian, dating back 150 million years and composed of tiny, comma-shaped fossilized oyster shells that once laid on the ocean floor. The premier and grand cru climats are located on these soft, chalky fossil-bearing Kimmerdidgian slopes, alternating with bands of gray marl. Hard calcareous limestone called Portlandian tops the plateaus, and are home to the Petit Chablis vineyards.

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The Appellations & Their Wines

There are four appellations in Chablis: Petit Chablis, Chablis, Chablis Premier Cru and Chablis Grand Cru.

Domaine Laroche Petit Chablis 2014 Domaine Louis Moreau Petit Chablis 2014 Jean Paul & Benoît Droin Petit Chablis 2013Petit Chablis is planted almost exclusively on the hillside plateaus and on Portlandian soils. Fresh, crisp and with subtle white florals and salty minerality, these refreshing wines are meant to be enjoyed in their youth.

Jean Paul & Benoît Droin 2013 Petit Chablis

Domaine Louis Moreau 2014 Petit Chablis

Domaine Laroche 2014 Petit Chablis

Chablis is the largest of the four appellations in terms of surface area and production, and thus has a wide range of styles based on age of vine and winemaker. They typically have greater structure than Petit Chablis, but still inherent drinkability in youth. The appellation village of Chablis is produced in the communes of Beines, Béru, Chablis, Fyé, Milly, Poinchy, La Chapelle-Vaupelteigne, Chemilly-sur-Serein, Chichée, Collan, Courgis, Fleys, Fontenay-Près-Chablis, Lignorelles, Ligny-le-Châtel, Maligny, Poilly-sur-Serein, Préhy, Villy and Viviers. In the Chablis appellation there are no named climats, though many lieu-dits (named sites).

Domaine Gautheron 2013 Chablis

La Chablisienne 2012 La Pierrelée

William Fevre 2012 Chablis Champs Royaux

Garnier & Fils 2013 Chablis

Jean Marc Brocard 2013 Chablis Vieilles Vignes

Isabelle et Denis Pommier 2014 Chablis

Domaine Gautheron Chablis 2013 La Chablisienne La Pierrelee Chablis 2012 William Fèvre Champs Royaux Chablis 2012 Garnier & Fils Chablis 2013 Jean Marc Brocard Sainte Claire Vieilles Vignes Chablis 2013 Isabelle et Denis Pommier Chablis 2014

Chablis Premier Cru is comprised of 40 climats, 17 of which are more commonly used as main climats. Each has its own style traversing from vibrant and mineral to delicate and fruity. They lie on sloping Kimmeridgian soils either side of the River Serein, with the most sought after climates resting on the right bank, encircling the Grand Crus. In youth, these wines are not as aromatic as Petit Chablis and Chablis, through with a few years age their well-built structure impresses. The main climats include Mont de Milieu, Montée de Tonerre, Fourchaume, Vaillons, Montmains, Côte de Léchet, Beauroy, Vaucoupin, Vosgros, Vau de Vey, Vau Ligneau, Beauregard and Fourneaux.

Domaine Hamelin 2013 Chablis Premier Cru Beauroy

Jean-Paul & Benoit Droin 2013 Chablis Premier Cru Vaillons

Domaine Hamelin Chablis Beauroy Premier Cru 2013 Domaine Jean Paul et Benoit Droin Chablis Premier Cru Vaillons 2013 La Chablisienne Montée de Tonnerre Chablis 1er Cru 2012 Corinne et Jean Pierre Grossot Chablis Premier Cru Vaucoupin 2013

 

La Chablisienne 2012 Chablis Premier Cru Montée de Tonnerre

Corinne et Jean Pierre Grossot 2013 Chablis Premier Cru Vaucoupin

Domaine Laroche 2012 Chablis Premier Cru Les Montmains

Domaine Laroche Chablis Premier Cru Les Montmains 2012 Domaine Pattes Loup Chablis Premier Cru Beauregard 2013 Domaine Christian Moreau Chablis Vaillon Premier Cru 2011

Domaine Pattes Loup 2013 Chablis Premier Cru Beauregard

Domaine Christian Moreau 2011 Chablis Premier Cru Vaillons

Chablis Grand Cru comprises the top sites of the region, and the heights of the quality pyramid. Seven contiguous climats arc along the right bank of the River Serein, directly north east of the town of Chablis. Vineyards face the sun at altitudes of 100-250 metres and exclusively on Kimmeridgian limestone and marls. The wines are very long-lived, with most starting to reach potential after 10-15 years of age. Intense minerality, flint, dried fruits, citrus and honey are hallmarks, as well as a striking balance between vibrant acidity and concentrated richness.

Each Grand Cru is defined by its own unique characteristics. From left to right:

Bougros – full bodied, robust, mineral and supple. Watch for the special ridge, Côte Bouguerots

Domaine William Fèvre 2011 Chablis Grand Cru Bougros Côte Bouguerots

Preuses – Very stony soils. long and noble, finessed, with exceptional aging capacity

La Chablisienne 2012 Chablis Grand Cru Les Preuses

Domaine William Fèvre Chablis Bougros Côte Bouguerots Grand Cru 2011 La Chablisienne Chablis Grand Cru Les Preuses 2012 Joseph Drouhin Chablis Grand Cru Vaudésir 2009 La Chablisienne Château Grenouilles Chablis Grand Cru 2012

Vaudésir – lively, floral, rounded and ripe, voluptuous

Joseph Drouhin Vaudon 2009 Chablis Grand Cru Vaudésir

Grenouilles – floral, fruity, softer and richer in body. Grenouilles means frogs in French, referring to the closeness of this Grand Cru to the River Serein.

La Chablisienne 2012 Chablis Grand Cru Grenouilles

Valmur – mineral, nervy, though fruity and very well balanced

Jean Paul & Benoit Droin 2013 Chablis Valmur Grand Cru

Domaine Jean Paul et Benoit Droin Chablis Valmur Grand Cru 2013 Jean Marc Brocard Chablis Grand Cru Les Clos 2010 Domaine Laroche Chablis Les Blanchots Grand Cru 2012

Les Clos – mineral and powerful, big and chewy, with great aging potential

Jean Marc Brocard 2012 Chablis Grand Cru Les Clos

Blanchot – floral, supple and finessed, often subtle and easily appealing

Domaine Laroche 2012 Chablis Grand Cru Les Blanchots

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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!


International Cool Climate Celebration

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The Search for Summery Wines

The Caveman SpeaksJuly 14, 2015

By Bill Zacharkiw

Bill Zacharkiw

Bill Zacharkiw

I get asked a lot for wine suggestions, especially from my friends. Here’s a conversation that I had a few weeks back. Name was changed to protect the innocent.

Carrie: Bill, we want to buy a few cases of wine to bring with us to the country. We’re there for three weeks and I don’t want to stress about wines when we are up there. Can you suggest a few Summery wines?

Bill: What’s a Summery wine? You mean like white wines?

Carrie: You know I don’t like white that much. You keep forcing them on me and yes, they’re alright but that’s not what I am talking about. You know – summer wines.

Bill: No, I have no clue about what you are talking about. You mean rosés? Most people only drink those in the summer.

Carrie: I’ll get a few, sure. But that’s lunch and afternoon drinking. I need good reds.

Bill: Summer reds? You mean as opposed to winter reds? I didn’t realize red wine was seasonal. What are you eating?

Carrie: How would I know? Stop messing with me, you aren’t being any help at all. You’re Mr. fancy sommelier wine critic.

Bill: (Pause) So really what you are asking me is if I were to take a few cases of wine with me to the country, and that’s all I could drink, what would I bring? It’s like that desert island question where if you could only drink one wine for the rest of your life, what would it be? I always answer German riesling or Champagne. You should bring lots of those.

Carrie: Yes, I remember that German wine. Didn’t we drink that last time at your place? That was yummy, but I can’t remember the name.

Bill: Hey you remembered! That was the 2013 from Selbach Oster. It’s a great pre-dinner wine when you are cooking and when you eat spicy shrimp and other seafood. And if you want a deadly little sparkling wine for cheap, try the 2013 Vouvray from Vincent Careme or the 2011 Reserva Brut Cava from Juvé y Camps.

Selbach Riesling 2013Domaine Vincent Carême Vouvray Brut 2013Juvé y Camps Cinta Purpura Reserva Brut Cava 2011

Carrie: Ok, you’ve done aperitif, how about one of your pale rosés? You’ve actually convinced me on those.

Bill: Ha! No more sip sack sweet pinks for you! Go for either the Petale de Rose or the Pive Gris. They are my go to pinks these days. For a little more full-bodied rosé, try the 2014 Brotte Les Eglantiers Tavel.

Pétale de Rose 2014Le Pive Gris Vin Rosé 2014Brotte Les Eglantiers Tavel 2014

Carrie: Okay, pinks, bubbles and rieslings. What’s good with trout if hubby can actually catch a trout.

Bill: I would go with something crisp. Try an assyrtiko from either Gaia, Sigalas or my lil jewel from Argyros.

Gaia Thalassitis Assyrtiko 2013Sigalas Santorini 2013Argyros Atlantis White 2014

Carrie: Ok, I’ll try them. Now onto the important stuff – the reds.

Bill: Oh yes, the summery reds. Barbecue wines you mean.

Carrie: Exactly.

Bill: You need a few Burger wines. You guys eat Hamburgers don’t you?

Carrie: Of course.

Bill: Sounds strange but you need a red that goes well with ketchup. A red that you can chill a bit and crank it back but with a touch of green that will go well with the ketchup. My favourite ketchup wine is carmenère. Try the Cono Sur or Carmen. They have some torque as well.

Carrie: Now you are actually helping.

Bill: No problem. This is actually fun. So now a few wines to go with barbecue sauce – ribs, chicken pieces, pork chops – stuff like that. I would go new world here – California, Australia. Wines with loads of oak and lots of fruit, alcohol sweetness, especially if your sauce is a little spicy. Take a good zinfandel like the Lake Sonoma Dry Creek Valley or Ravenswood Besieged. They are a little more expensive but worth it.

Cono Sur Cabernet Sauvignon Carmenère 2013Carmen Reserva Carmenère 2013Lake Sonoma Winery Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel 2010Ravenswood Besieged 2013

Carrie: What about steak? We eat a lot of steak.

Bill: Steak wines. You can go wherever you want. I mean any wine with some good tannin that has done some time in oak will do. (Pause) But nothing too serious. Okay I see what you mean now by summer wines. I wouldn’t go Bordeaux, Rioja or Barolo or anything like that. I would go with wines like those zins I mentioned, or for a change try some Rhône wines. Rhône reds are great, been drinking a lot of those recently. Try the Saint Cosme, Signargues from Morel or Les Halos De Jupiter.

Château de Saint Cosme Côtes du Rhône 2013Pierre Henri Morel Signargues Côtes du Rhône Villages 2013Les Halos De Jupiter Côtes du Rhône 2012

Carrie: Okay perfect, you will write everything down.

Bill: Not everything. I’ll give you a few specific wines and for the rest just find wines you want to try in the same style. But bring an ice bucket, hopefully it will be hot.

Carrie: We keep the whites in the fridge.

Bill: No, the ice bucket is for your reds. If it’s hot out, make sure it is always handy so you can dunk your bottle in it to keep temperature down. Hot red wine is gross, and you always serve your reds too warm.

Carrie: You are such a snob. You make me nervous every time you come over.

Bill: Okay, I won’t bring my own glass with me this time if it makes you feel better.

Carrie: Such a total snob.

:)

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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Margaret Swaine’s Spirits Review – July 2015

Super Cool G&T’sJuly 13, 2015

by Margaret Swaine

Margaret Swaine

Margaret Swaine

Last column I promised to write more about the gin and tonic bar craze. Well summer is here and it’s time to mix up a long cool one with tips from the experts on how to make it perfect.

While the G&T seems a simple two ingredient highball, today there are a multitude of variations and ways to “perfect” the drink. In his 2014 book The Spirit of Gin: A Stirring Miscellany of the New Gin Revival, Matt Teacher writes about the London Gin Club in England: “Members can rejoice at the large selection of garnishes that have been specifically paired with each of the gins. The variable one has to choose from when selecting the perfect combination include the gin label, the brand of tonic, the accoutrements or garnishes, the form of ice and sometimes the addition of other flavors such as bitters.”

Toronto’s Nota Bene restaurant has a special G&T menu that enables customers to build their own by selecting first from the rotating choice of a dozen or so gins, then picking a tonic and the type of ice from the list. Two of my favourites were Botanist Gin on cubed ice with the house tonic garnished with lime wheels, cardamom and rosemary and Dillon’s Gin 22 on a single large cube of ice with Fever Tree tonic garnished with lemongrass, cucumber and dried hibiscus flowers.

The Botanist Islay Dry Gin Dillon's Unfiltered Gin 22Nota Bene’s owner Chef David Lee was inspired to do a G&T bar after his travels to Spain. On a recent trip to Spain, I too noticed Gin-Tonic bars were all the rage and have been told that “Gin Tonicá” is practically Spain’s national cocktail.

Matt Goulding in his article in time.com, wrote about Spain’s obsession with gin and tonics. “When I tell people that Spain is the best place in the world to drink a gin tonic, a drink created by the British army in India as a defense system against malaria, I’m invariably met with skepticism…. But “gin tonics” (in Spain, they use the English name, but drop the “and” so that it comes out cleaner) have captured the attention of Spain’s chefs, bartenders and alcoholics alike,” he wrote.

Apparently the country is now the world’s biggest gin consumer per capita, with demand increasing at an average of 18 percent over the past five years. I’ve not found anyone who can say why a niche taste became a mainstream mania in Spain, except perhaps that it suits the climate and Mediterranean lifestyle of the country.

The Gin-Tonic bar I went to in the historic centre of Aranda de Duero, north of Madrid, matched brands of gin with different flavours of Schweppes Tonic such as Pink Peppercorn, Orange Blossom & Lavender, and Cardamom & Ginger. I haven’t seen that range of Schweppes tonics in Canada yet but there are a growing number of artisanal tonics available both made here and abroad.

Jack's Tonique (photo: Amenh Tsan)

Jack’s Tonique (photo: Amenh Tsan)

Fever-Tree premium Indian tonic water from the UK is a great brand that blends natural botanical and quinine flavours. Q Tonic from New York claims hand-picked quinine from the Peruvian Andes. In the Atwater market in Montreal, I found Jack’s Tonique, an artisan tonic water concentrate that’s made in Gatineau from cinchona bark (the source for quinine), honey instead of sugar, fresh lemon grass, Sicilian lemon juice, ginger and lavender.

Mathieu Guillemette and Joël Beaupré launched Jack’s Tonique in the spring of 2014 to make the best G&T’s ever. They say their tonic goes particularly well with Tanqueray, Dillon’s gin from Niagara, North of 7 gin from Ottawa and Piger Henricus gin from Quebec. You can find stores that carry Jack’s via their facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/JacksTonique

This brings us to the question of what gin to use in a G&T. Beyond the obvious – aka your favourite – I’d say switch around depending upon what flavours you’re in the mood for.

In Canada, more and more delightful gins are being made by artisan producers. Ungava made by Domaine Pinnacle in Quebec is flavoured with indigenous Canadian botanicals of our far north such as Nordic juniper, Labrador tea leaf, crowberry, cloudberry and wild rose hips. Piger Henricus gin from Quebec features parsnips as its secret ingredient along with juniper, coriander, angelica, lemon peel and cardamom.

Ungava Canadian Premium GinPiger Henricus GinGeorgian Bay GinParlour Gin

Dillon’s in Beamsville, makes their Unfiltered Gin 22, by passing vapour through 22 botanicals. Georgian Bay Gin vapour infused with wild juniper, earthy angelica, lavender and more is bright with juniper and clean fresh botanical notes.

Alberta’s aromatic and well spiced Parlour Gin from Eau Claire distillery has the traditional juniper notes along with hints of rosehip, Saskatoon berry, mint, coriander and citrus that finish with cinnamon and ginger spice.

Victoria Gin, hand produced in small batches on Vancouver Island and distilled from ten botanicals (natural and wild gathered) is packed with personality. With Vancouver’s triple distilled Yaletown Gin, juniper and coriander jump forward in the bouquet.

Victoria GinYaletown Craft GinThe London No. 1 GinSipsmith London Dry Gin

London is the home of gin – so naturally there are many lovely ones to recommend from the mother country. The London Gin #1 is instantly recognizable by its distinct azure blue colour and sophisticated palate. Sipsmith London Dry Gin is a relative newcomer that’s beautifully crafted. Broker’s Premium London Dry delivers a delightful well-balanced style that’s value priced.

Death's Door Gin Broker's Premium London Dry GinNew to Canada from Wisconsin is Death’s Door Gin, with a focus on just three botanicals: juniper, coriander and fennel seeds.

The final step to a great G&T is the glass itself. Regarding that, bartenders are increasingly recommending serving G&T in a balloon shaped glass with plenty of ice and a garnish tailored to the flavours of the gin to best enhance the experience. (The balloon shape gathers the aromas of the drink at its opening.)

The gin and tonic has been raised to an art form. One that delights and refreshes the palate, far removed from its medicinal past.

Margaret Swaine

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

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


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Les choix de Nadia – Juillet 2015

Les classiques et les autres
par Nadia Fournier

Nadia Fournier - New - Cropped

Nadia Fournier

Au moment où je vous écris, j’en suis à plancher sur les premières sections du Guide du vin 2016, dont on célèbre cette année la 35e édition! Comme chaque année à cette période, je me questionne. Pourquoi écrire et surtout, pour qui ? Qu’est ce qui intéresse les lecteurs ? Y a t-il des mots, parmi les descriptifs utilisés, qui leur parlent davantage, d’autres qui les laissent songeurs ?

En début d’année, un lecteur m’avait suggéré d’abandonner le terme vineux, pour définir un vin blanc gras. « Trop archaïque et redondant » à ce qu’il paraît. J’ai choisi d’écouter son conseil. Il n’a pas tort après tout.

L’année dernière, c’était le mot « fraîcheur » qui revenait trop souvent aux dires d’un autre fidèle du guide. Plutôt bon signe, non ? C’est déjà mieux que lourdeur. J’ai tout de même tenté de corriger le tir et de substifuer le « F word » par quelques synonymes, quitte à changer les tournures de phrases. Ça fait toujours du bien de se renouveler.

Puis, la semaine dernière, j’ai reçu un message d’une lectrice assidue qui me laisse encore dubitative. Sur un ton très courtois, elle (appelons la Madame P.) questionnait l’emploi des expressions « moderne » et « classique ». Deux termes largement utilisés dans le jargon des chroniqueurs en vin, mais qui, au fond, ne veulent rien dire pour elle.

Commençons donc par la modernité. Qu’est ce qu’un vin moderne ? Mis à part quelques rares traditionnalistes et adeptes du mouvement « nature », presque tous les vins produits aujourd’hui ne devraient-ils pas être qualifiés ainsi, étant donné qu’ils bénificient de connaissances œnologiques modernes et de technologies de pointe ? Peut-être bien, sauf que pour les chroniqueurs, le terme « moderne » réfère davantage au style de vin, qu’à la méthode. De manière générale donc, un vin moderne présentera un taux d’alcool plus élevé que la moyenne, un fruit très mûr, une acidité modérée, des tanins ronds et des parfums boisés marqués.

En fait, portés à l’extrême, les vins modernes tendent à se ressembler au point où il devient difficile de déterminer leur région d’origine. Des vins puissants, lourds, gommeux et boisés qui pourraient venir d’à peu près n’importe où sur la planète.

À l’opposé, les classiques portent clairement la marque de leur lieu de naissance. Des vins très typés de leur origine, soit par leurs arômes, soit par leur texture, leur grain tannique particulier, leur vivacité, leur fermeté, leur souplesse. Vous savez, ce genre de vin sur lequel on rêve de tomber dans une dégustation à l’aveugle? On plonge le nez dans le verre, on ferme les yeux et on sait tout de suite. (Remarquez, on se fait aussi avoir parfois, souvent même).

Pour vous illustrer la chose, voici quelques bons vins goûtés cette semaine. Cabernets chiliens, bonarda argentine, quelques sauvignons blancs d’horizons divers et d’autres vins qui, à leur manière, sont autant de classiques de leurs régions d’origine.

Et merci Madame P. ! C’est toute une chance de pouvoir écrire pour des amateurs de vins aussi curieux, pour des lecteurs aussi allumés!

À la vôtre!

Revisiter le cabernet chilien

Carmen Gran Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon 2012

Cousiño Macul Antiguas Reservas Cabernet Sauvignon 2012

Clos des Fous Cabernet sauvignon 2011, Grillos CantoresClos Des Fous Cabernet Sauvignon 2011 (21,65 $)
Ce vin m’a réconciliée avec le cabernet au Chili. Le 2011 est mis en valeur par un usage intelligent de la barrique et présente la droiture tannique propre au cépage; beaucoup de tonus et aucun excès de concentration. Autant de vertus qui le rendent très agréable à boire.

Cousino-Macul Cabernet sauvignon 2012 Antiguas Reservas (18,95 $)
Ce cabernet serait plutôt un contre-exemple en matière de classique chilien. Jadis d’inspiration très européenne, ce domaine de Maipo a entrepris un virage moderne il y a une bonne dizaine d’années. Résultat : plus d’alcool – les vins sont passés de 12,5 % à 14 % d’alcool – de puissance et de rondeur, au détriment de la « buvabilité ». Flatteur, mais un peu lourd.

Carmen Cabernet sauvignon 2012, Gran Reserva, Maipo Alto (18,75 $)
En plus de très bons vins blancs vendus à la SAQ (à des prix d’aubaine), l’œnologue Sebastien Labbe façonne ce cabernet d’envergure dans les hauteurs de Maipo. Moins de bois neuf que par le passé, une très belle qualité de fruit, qui s’appuie sur un tissu tannique dense et bien mûr. Dégusté sur deux jours, le vin était nettement meilleur le lendemain. La carafe s’impose.

D’agrumes et d’asperges 

Clos Henri Petit Clos Sauvignon Blanc 2014

Errazuriz Fumé Blanc 2014

Caliterra, Sauvignon blanc 2014, TributoCaliterra Tributo Single Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc 2014 (16,95 $)
Installée dans Colchagua, l’entreprise Caliterra appartient à Eduardo Chadwick, aussi propriétaire de Errazuriz. Bon Sauvignon typiquement chilien, tant par sa vivacité, que par ses parfums d’asperges vertes et d’agrumes.

Errazuriz, Fumé blanc 2014 Estate Series (14,95 $)
Issu d’un assemblage de sauvignon blanc provenant de deux différentes régions : Casablanca et Aconcagua Costa. Vif, débordant de vitalité et très charmant avec son nez d’agrumes et de piments jalapeño.

Clos Henri, Sauvignon blanc 2014, Petit Clos (19,65 $)
Le style des vins produits à Marlborough par le Français Jean-Marie Bourgeois et ses fils me semble plus précis depuis un an ou deux. En 2014, le Petit Clos est impeccable. Beaucoup de plaisir à moins de 20 $.  

D’autres classiques 

Raventos I Blanc L'hereu Conca Del Riu 2012

E. Guigal Crozes Hermitage 2011

Nieto Senetiner, Bonarda 2014, BenjaminBenjamin Nieto Senetiner Bonarda 2014 (11 $)
Bon vin de soif à la mode argentine, en ce qu’il met en valeur toute la souplesse et les bons goûts fruités du cépage bonarda. Encore meilleur servi frais autour de 14-15°C.

Guigal, Crozes-Hermitage 2011 (27 $)
Un Crozes assez représentatif de son appellation, facilement reconnaissable à ses parfums fumés et ses tonalités animales. Un peu de réduction à l’ouverture, ce qui s’estompe après une demi-heure en carafe. À boire d’ici 2017.

J Raventos i Blanc, l’Hereu 2012, Conca Del Riu (20,65 $)
Même s’ils ne font plus partie de l’appellation Cava, les vins de Pepe Raventos demeurent parmi les meilleures références en la matière. Comme toujours, un très bon achat à 20 $!

~

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