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A Rendezvous with BC Riesling

BC Report – August 2016

Rhys Pender

Rhys Pender MW

I’m recently back from a trip to Seattle where I was attending Riesling Rendezvous, a big love-in for riesling geeks from around the world. These riesling homages take place on a rotating schedule between Washington, Germany and Australia. My wife and I were there pouring our Little Farm Riesling but I was also there with my media hat on, filling my boots with what is happening in the world of riesling. A number of Canadian producers were pouring their wines alongside established heavyweights from Germany, Australia, France, Austria, New Zealand and all corners of the USA. In short, Canadian rieslings showed particularly well, raising many eyebrows when the wines were unveiled in the blind tastings and clearly showing that Canadian riesling is a serious, important wine that can stand up proudly on the global stage.

Riesling, as most of us know, has had its challenges in life. It has spent much of its existence being misunderstood. Its current status is a far cry from its early heady days in the late 19th and early 20th century when German riesling was considered one of the greatest wines in the world and its reputation and prices held equal to or above such illustrious wines as Burgundy and Bordeaux. I’ve always wondered how a grape with such history – that can be so crisp, refreshing, citrusy and lively – cannot gain widespread appeal amongst the masses, especially considering varieties like sauvignon blanc, pinot gris and even moscato somehow managed to become immense global brands. Surely riesling has all the elements to have similar appeal? But no, it has never happened and the much-written-about pending riesling revival or revolution has never materialized. I finally figured out at Riesling Rendezvous why this is. It is because riesling is just too complicated. Too complicated to be simple enough for casual wine drinkers to make sense of it. It is too complex in its flavours and too diverse in its styles. It simply can’t be reduced to a single simple message. Its strengths as a grape also turn out to be its weaknesses.

In fact, the only time riesling was close to being a massive global success was during the 70s and 80s when it firmly established the unfortunate and misleading image that it is always cheap, sweet, fruity and, for the most part, German. These stereotypes have held strong to this day despite the fact that this style seems to be on the decline. Ernie Loosen summed up riesling’s fight very well when he said, “it feels like we are hitting our head against a brick wall. The wall was built by us. But we are making progress.” Riesling producers are stubborn and will not give up easily. Many of us still think of German riesling as sweeter, light and delicate in style although this style is less and less popular in Germany. As John Haeger reports in his book Riesling Rediscovered, more and more German riesling is made in a dry style, and sweeter styles are mostly made for a North American market that is hanging on to the preconceived image. Germans themselves now drink mostly dry styles of riesling, similar to what North Americans would associate with wines coming from Alsace or Australia. Loosen talked of rebuilding the noble reputation of the grape and dealing with new markets and generations who might not hold negative preconceived ideas. Riesling may never be a great mass success but it certainly can build its quality reputation, and getting it in people’s mouths and letting them see what riesling really is all about is the answer.

Riesling Rendevous

But this is the BC Report and I am deviating off topic. Time to come back to BC and BC riesling. Things are looking pretty good in BC. There are now a number of producers making serious efforts to produce top quality riesling, and the results are impressive. At Riesling Rendezvous, Tantalus, Synchromesh, Kitsch, Martin’s Lane, Cedar Creek, Mission Hill and Little Farm were joined by Cave Springs and Hidden Bench from Ontario. Not surprisingly given the limited export reach of Canadian riesling, nobody in the international crowd picked out any of the BC wines (Tantalus, Synchromesh and Martin’s Lane) in the blind tastings (20 wines blind two days in a row) but all wines were heavily praised and there was pleasant surprise when the wines were revealed. One speaker commented that the quality of Canadian riesling might be the key takeaway message from the event. That’s quite the honour amongst hundreds of great rieslings from around the world.

Plantings of riesling in BC have actually grown strongly over recent years. There were 511 acres of riesling planted in 2014 (the last survey) making up 10% of the white variety plantings and 5% of overall acreage. It has grown 116% from 236 acres in 2004, but is still only the fourth most planted white behind pinot gris, chardonnay and gewurztraminer. The good news is that less and less of these grapes are being turned into wines made to the global riesling-stereotype style and instead are more focused on intense, serious, high quality wine. These could be in the bone dry, high acid style or the equally successful styles that balance racy acidity with residual sugar, but always with a powerful intensity of flavour. Serious wines.

Gray Monk Riesling 20138th Generation Riesling 2015La Frenz Riesling Freedom 75 2015Lake Breeze Winemaker's Series Riesling 2012Mt. Boucherie Riesling Estate 2013Oak Bay Gebert Family Reserve Riesling 2013Synchromesh Riesling Thorny Vines Vineyard 2015

It feels to me that the last few years have seen a really strong focus towards quality in BC. Not that good wines weren’t made, but most of the riesling seemed to be aimed at being a low price, broad crowd pleaser. More and more wines are a little pricier but a lot more intense and quality focused. This was evident in the recent judging of the National Wine Awards of Canada. To be honest, Ontario riesling has pretty much always been superior to BC in these competitions and while there were still many great Ontario wines, this year things were different and many of the best rieslings I personally tasted in my flights were from BC. Less simple, fruity wines and more serious, intense and concentrated examples. Seven of the top ten riesling overall were from BC this year including the Gray Monk 2013 Riesling which won a Platinum medal. An impressive showing.

This all bodes well for the future of the grape in BC. With the wine world taking notice and new generations coming along with open minds there is room for BC winemakers to explore just how good this complex grape can be.

Rhys Pender MW

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WineAlign in BC

In addition to Rhys Pender’s BC Report, we publish the popular 20 Under $20 shopping guide and the Critics’ Picks report which highlights a dozen of our favourites from the last month (at any price point). Treve Ring pens a wandering wine column in Treve’s Travels, capturing her thoughts and tastes from the road and, lastly, Anthony Gismondi closes out the month with his Final Blend column – an expert insight into wine culture and trends, honed by more than 25 years experience as an influential critic.

 


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Buyers’ Guide to VINTAGES – August 20, 2016

Hot August Whites from Germany and Beyond
by David Lawrason, with notes from Michael Godel

David Lawrason

David Lawrason

If there was ever a time and place to drink German riesling, with its crisp acidity, lithe body and blooming aromatics, it would be during steamy August evenings in Ontario. So a German wine feature in the August 20th release makes all kinds of sense.

However, it’s obvious from the petty selection of only five German wines that the LCBO figures we are not really into German wines (and perhaps more into Niagara, which is perhaps a good assumption). However, this German release should have been so much bigger and better. Only one is a must-buy. Another is pretty good for the money. The others are commercially driven and forgettable with frankly dumb, populist labels as the only reason they might be purchased.

Germany has tried for decades to colour its wine populist (Blue Nuns, Green Labels and Black Towers) but it is hopeless. No lowest-common-denominator wine from Germany can really capture what is so narrowly superb about great German wine.

So it’s time Germany stopped trying so hard to be mass market. It must pick its moments and bring Audi-like precision and confidence to its delivery. And the LCBO needs to recognize such wines when they are offered. This would be a good moment in history to strive for this. The devalued pricing of German wine currently favours those that can bring great value, like the very fine Schloss Schoenborn Qba Riesling recommended below.

To be balanced, there are some good German wines on the shelf from previous VINTAGES releases, if you want to use WineAlign’s Find Wine function. And the selection of German wines should improve a lot when the LCBO opens a “German destination store” in Waterloo this October. It will include all German wines on the General List and VINTAGES plus consignment offerings that will also show up at LCBO.com for home delivery.

Elsewhere on this release, I choose a variety of recommended wines focused on other aromatic, summery whites, plus some fine reds. John and Sara are deep into summer vacations, so Michael and I stand in.

Schloss Schönborn 2011 Riesling Qualitätswein, Rheingau, Germany ($16.95)
David Lawrason – Hailing from a venerable estate in the Rheingau this is great value –  a lovely, brisk, lively riesling with classic aromas of apricot, stone and a touch of honey and minty freshness. It’s light to medium bodied, with fine, mouth-watering acidity – but not at all austere. Stock up.
Michael Godel – Schloss Schönborn’s basic, entry-level, come and get it Qualitätswein is seemingly riesling from out of a designate void and no strings attached. It’s actually highly specified riesling but without label verbiage and from a most excellent vintage. There is a balanced, posit tug between acidity and sweetness, over the line and back again. The cumulative flavours recall long lasting pastilles, of gin, tonic and agave.

Thörle 2015 Feinherb Riesling, Rheinhessen, Germany ($18.95)
David Lawrason – Feinherb is a new term replacing the halbtrocken or “half dry” designation. The Germans love to tinker with their labels (and who can keep up?). This is a nicely generous, fairly soft but lively Rheinhessen riesling with lifted aromas of grapefruit, green apple and white flowers. It’s medium weight, with notable sweetness and a strong sour edge through the finish.

Schloss Schönborn Riesling 2011 Thörle Feinherb Riesling 2015 Tawse Sketches Of Niagara Riesling 2014

Tawse Sketches Of Niagara 2014 Riesling, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario ($18.20)
David Lawrason – This gold medalist at the 2016 National Wine Awards is wonderfully fresh, brisk and generous, with floral, honey, peachy aromas. It’s off-dry but brings scintillating acidity to the game. Towers above many German rieslings at this price.

Contini Pariglia 2014 Vermentino di Sardegna, Italy ($18.95)
Michael Godel – You might imagine riesling from calcareous soils or semillon off of dry, arid plains, but this vermentino is striking on its own accord and illuminates as a developing experiment. The next big thing perhaps for geeks and mineral freaks in search of a profound, axiomatic, aromatic experience?

La Cappuccina 2014 Soave, Veneto, Italy ($15.95)
David Lawrason – This is an organically produced Soave. It’s a classic – not hugely expressive but classy with a subtle, detailed aromas of yellow plum, licorice and wildflowers. It’s mid-weight with only medium acidity but the balance is very good. Will grace an elegant patio seafood, poultry or pork meal that’s not all about grills and sauces.

Contini Pariglia Vermentino di Sardegna 2014 La Cappuccina Soave 2014 Cave Spring Estate Bottled Chardonnay Musqué 2014André Goichot Les Guignottes Montagny 2014

Cave Spring 2014 Chardonnay Musque, Beamsville Bench, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario ($16.95)
David Lawrason – From a particular chardonnay clone with muscat florality, this is a unique wine that Cave Spring has mastered. It is solid and interesting year after year, involving some aromatic razzle dazzle with solid pear fruit, waxy, pepper and lime. It’s medium weight, firm and dry with some mid-palate generosity.

André Goichot 2014 Les Guignottes Montagny, Burgundy, France ($26.95)
Michael Godel – As in the case of Chablis, 2014 is a stellar vintage from the ever-increasingly excellent Côte Chalonnaise subregion from which chardonnay fervently shines. André Goichot’s fruit is rich, ripe and beautifully pressed, expressed and plays with the determination of the mineral obsessed. Simply wow Montagny.

Lighthall Progression Sparkling 2014

Guy Charlemagne Blanc De Blancs Grand Cru Réserve Brut ChampagneGuy Charlemagne Blanc de Blancs Grand Cru Réserve Brut Champagne, Champagne, France ($61.95)
David Lawrason – This will slice and dice beautifully during a classy reception or light dinner on a tepid, hot August night. It is a nicely firm, balanced and elegant Champagne with very generous, complex toasty, dried fruit, hazelnut and vaguely earthy aromas. It’s all here. Really like the firm, stony mouth-watering feel.

Lighthall 2014 Progression Sparkling Wine, VQA Ontario ($20.00)
Michael Godel – Progression is 100 per cent sparkling vidal by Glenn Symons, a.k.a. “Ward 5 Brut,” made in the Charmat method, that is, by secondary fermentation in the bottle. Vidal has never played a tune like this before. Charmat or otherwise, grapes grown on Lighthall’s beautifully stark, wind-swept and electrifying property destined for sparkling wine does so with profound meaning. It’s simply meant to be.

Norman Hardie 2014 County Unfiltered Pinot Noir, VQA Prince Edward County ($45.20)
Michael Godel – A second taste four months later confirms the impossibility from Hardie in 2014, a vintage that just begs for Norm’s magic handling, from exemplary, slow-developed, quixotically sweet Pinot Noir fruit off of a vintage’s hyperbole of low-yielding vines. Humility only exceeded by impossibility.

Quinta Nova de Nossa 2011 Senhora do Carmo Colheita Tinto, Douro, Portugal ($19.95)
Michael Godel – The label tells us it’s “unoaked.” Brilliant. Such knowledge is power and usually an exclusive bit reserved for whites, especially chardonnay. Why not tell us your red wine spent no time in barrel? This is nothing short of awesome for the consumer. This Tinto is a terrific summer red when served with a chill that will serve and protect your palate and your will.

Norman Hardie County Unfiltered Pinot Noir 2014 Quinta Nova De Nossa Senhora Do Carmo Colheita Tinto 2011 Castello Collemassari Rigoleto Montecucco Rosso 2013 Celler De Capçanes Mas Donís Barrica Old Vines 2014

Castello Collemassari 2013 Rigoleto, Montecucco Rosso, Tuscany, Italy ($17.95)
David Lawrason – From a little known zone south of Montalcino in Tuscany, comes a lighter bodied, nicely energetic and juicy red that is organically grown. Expect quite generous, complex, redcurrant and cherries, herbs, leather and meaty notes and a touch of oak. Very generous, if not highly structured or age worthy, but it is balanced and delivers nicely for the price.

Celler de Capçanes 2014 Mas Donís Barrica Old Vines, Montsant, Spain ($17.95)
David Lawrason – A delicious if slightly rustic blend of old vine grenache and syrah from the region that encircles Priorat southwest of Barcelona. It has a lifted gamey, smoky/flinty nose with sour red fruit and oak vanillin. It’s medium-full bodied, open knit, sour edged and a touch volatile, but it works overall. Imagined savoury, grilled lamb kebobs as I tasted this.

Tune in next week when John returns from unknown vacation whereabouts to present his preview of this release. Sara is still drinking Tavel on riverbanks in the south of France.

Cheers

David Lawrason
VP of Wine

 

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


For Premium Members, use these quick links for easy access to all the top picks in our New Releases:

New Release and VINTAGES Preview

Lawrason’s Take
Michael’s Mix
All August 20th Reviews 


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Beringer Knights Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2012

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Les bons choix de Marc – Août 2016

L’Alsace, pays du blanc
par Marc Chapleau

Marc Chapleau

Marc Chapleau

Le vin fait voyager, on le répète sur tous les tons depuis de nombreuses années. J’ai pris l’adage au pied de la lettre, le mois dernier. Mais la mise en contexte, pour commencer.

Je devais me rendre en Alsace en juin, entre autres pour aller à Millésime Alsace, une foire viticole qui se tient chaque année à Colmar. Un coup du sort m’a toutefois empêché d’y aller, j’ai finalement dû renoncer. Embêté d’avoir fait faux bond à mes interlocuteurs alsaciens, je me suis dit que j’allais m’y rendre quand même… en passant par la SAQ. Goûter les vins d’un pays, c’est ce qu’on dit, nous transporte d’emblée dans ces contrées.

Bon, c’est un peu exagéré. On ne retrouve en effet pas la lumière alsacienne, son architecture, ses collines et ses montagnes, sa tarte à l’oignon et sa choucroute, dans chaque bouteille qui vient de là-bas.

Mais…  tout de même, on y accède indirectement, en pensée. C’est d’ailleurs l’impression que j’ai eue en goûtant le dernier millésime du Gentil d’Hugel, dont je parle plus bas, avec mes autres bons achats.

Il faut dire que cette cuvée rassemble les principaux cépages de la région : riesling, sylvaner, pinot blanc, pinot gris, gewurztraminer et muscat. Dans une seule et même bouteille, tout le fruit de l’Alsace.

LA QUESTION DU SUCRE

Ce Gentil contient du sucre – 4,4 g par litre, selon saq.com. La plupart des vins alsaciens, pour l’essentiel blancs, en contiennent d’ailleurs à divers degrés.

En langage de tous les jours, celui de la majorité des consommateurs, ces vins sont fruités — trop, au goût de certains.

Les gens n’ont pas tout à fait tort d’associer fruité et sucré ; un fruit, lorsqu’il est mûr, comme c’est le cas pour la plupart des raisins récoltés pour faire du vin, est nécessairement sucré.

Cela dit, ce n’est pas tant la quantité de sucre dans le vin qui importe, comme l’équilibre. Si par exemple l’acidité est élevée, le sucre passe comme une lettre à la poste, il ne fait pas broncher. Le vin demeure rafraîchissant, et éminemment recommandable. Surtout à table et, dans le cas des vins alsaciens, avec des mets d’inspiration asiatique, encore l’un des meilleurs accords possibles.

GOÛTER L’AIR DU PAYS

Bien sûr, aller goûter les vins sur place demeure l’expérience ultime, qui marque durablement.

Commence à ce propos aujourd’hui même et se poursuit jusqu’au 15 août, la Foire aux vins d’Alsace, à Colmar, le coeur de l’Alsace viticole.

Si vous êtes en France, sur le point de partir, ou du type à ce point impulsif que vous iriez volontiers comme ça, à la toute dernière minute, l’occasion serait belle de se familiariser avec la production d’une région encore relativement peu fréquentée, que tout le monde connaît mais que pas assez de gens encore côtoient sur une base régulière.

NOS OLYMPIQUES À NOUS !

Concours des meilleurs vins du canadaChangement de sujet : les vrais Jeux s’ouvrent aujourd’hui, à Rio, mais nous, de Chacun son Vin, avons déjà tenu les nôtres, en juin.

Il s’agissait en fait d’une compétition nationale, où au-delà d’un millier de vins canadiens ont été évalués par notre comité d’experts réunissant des dégustateurs du Québec, du reste du Canada et de l’étranger.

N’hésitez pas : pour boire québécois ou canadien et pour boire bien, consultez notre site faisant état des résultats aux Concours des meilleurs vins du canada

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À boire, aubergiste !

Gentil 2015 Hugel — d’abord on prononce, au choix, hu-jel ou hu-guel. Ensuite, on saura qu’il s’agit d’un blanc à la fois léger, fruité et nerveux, pas compliqué et précisément pour cette raison, plutôt passe-partout — à table comme à l’apéritif, c’est dire.

Fernand Engel Riesling Réserve 2013 — Assez finement typé riesling au nez, des airs d’Allemagne, même. La bouche suit, assez délicate, pas cristalline comme dans la Moselle, n’exagérons rien, mais une relative pureté de fruit, un caractère sec (3,5 g), une bonne acidité. Très bon, et à prix très ok !

Léon Beyer Gewurztraminer 2013 — Très bon gewurztraminer signé Beyer, ce qui ne surprend pas, la maison ayant une excellente réputation. Nez attrayant de rose légèrement fanée, de poivre aussi et du tonus en bouche, peut-être même un soupçon d’acidité volatile et de gaz carbonique, ça ne s’effondre pas, bien au contraire !

Domaine Fernand Engel Réserve Riesling 2013Hugel Gentil 2015 Léon Beyer Gewurztraminer 2013Pfaffenheim Cuvee Jupiter Riesling 2013 Pfaffenheim Black Tie Pinot Gris Riesling 2015 Domaine Marcel Deiss Alsace 2014

Pfaff Riesling Cuvée Jupiter 2013 — Peut-être moins sec que par le passé, mais toujours aussi satisfaisant, et presque aussi nerveux. Beau fruit bien typé, et avec les notes de sapinage souvent associées aux rieslings.

Pfaff Black Tie 2015Moitié pinot gris, moitié riesling, 11 g de sucre résiduel, superbe acidité, saveurs mi-corsées bien tendues, bien nerveuses. Avec le homard, sans hésiter.

Deiss Alsace 2014 — Un assemblage qui n’est pas sans rappeler celui du Gentil d’Hugel — sans sylvaner ni muscat, toutefois. Tout plein de fruit, un peu de sucre (5,5 g), mais un surcroît de profondeur, dans celui-ci. Prix plus élevé, aussi, autour de 26 $.

Fleury Fleur De L’europe Brut Champagne Calera Pinot Noir 2013Et maintenant un rouge, pas de l’Alsace parce qu’en dépit de quelques réussites ici et là, le pinot noir, notamment, y est rarement mémorable.

Par contre, le Calera Pinot Noir Central Coast 2013 est à la fois riche, puissant et rafraîchissant — et l’apport boisé, quoique notable, est bien maîtrisé. La belle Californie !

Enfin, une fois n’est pas coutume, un champagne, l’excellent Fleury Fleur de l’Europe, à seulement 53 $. Je sais, l’addition est corsée, mais étant donné qu’on nous matraque au Québec depuis de nombreuses années avec des prix gonflés pour les champagnes, on se console comme on peut. Celui-ci, chose certaine, est vif tout en étant fin, presque aérien.

Marc

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

 


PublicitéBeringer Founders' Estate

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From Riesling to Rosé – Rhys’ European Wine Adventure

Text and photos by Rhys Pender MW

Rhys Pender_Portrait_2015

Rhys Pender

Learning about the world of wine can be more confusing than enlightening, especially when learning about wine regions. Things are complicated and it is no wonder wine is intimidating. Everything seems clear after diligent studying of textbooks, encyclopedias and sitting through wine classes. But when you start to delve deeper into what makes a wine region tick, and look at the different aspects, altitudes, soils and more, you find that the more you try to generalize about any one place, the less accurate those simplifications become. Not only is it impossible to learn all the nuances that make a region unique but there is also the fact that things are always changing and evolving – wine styles, people and even climate. To understand a region properly, there is no better way than to jump in your car or on a plane and go there and find out for yourself what is really happening. That is really the only way to know what is going on.

Wine writers and educators spend a lot of time travelling, trying to answer those questions that exist only between the lines in our textbooks. We want to give current and accurate information in our articles and lectures, and believe me, keeping up with the world of wine is a full-time job.

A few months ago I took a fascinating journey that I recommend to anyone: a wine adventure from the homelands of riesling in Germany, south through Alsace and Burgundy, into the embrace of Beaujolais’s lovely gamay and to the refreshing jugs of rosé in the south of France. I learned a lot, answered a lot of questions, and created many more.

With daily flights from various parts of Canada to Frankfurt, Germany, this is a wine route that is well suited for Canadians to get a taste of many different styles of European wine. The only difficulty is that at the end you are stuck in the south of France and you need to get back to Frankfurt. Or, maybe, you could just stay there, something I have been tempted by many times before. Here is part 1 of what I found out is happening on my road trip from Riesling to Rosé.

Germany

I set off on my trip in March with a visit to ProWein in Germany. ProWein is the annual trade wine show in Düsseldorf where the wine world, literally, comes to Germany. Talking to producers, it seems this show has become number one on the international calendar. I had two and half days to work through 5,800 wineries. As you can imagine, you need to have a plan and having appointments is highly recommended. But if you are in the trade, ProWein is definitely your one stop shop for accessing the world of wine.

I had never been to German wine country before this trip and was completely blown away by the severity of some of the vineyards, particularly in the Mosel and Rheingau. It is inconceivable today that anyone would plant vineyards on sheer, near-vertical cliffs, and even more so that anyone in this modern age would work them. I drove around for hours mesmerized by the staked vines clinging tenuously to the rock. It is not surprising that in some areas these steep vineyards are being abandoned, but the best of them make wine that is too good to ignore. The industrious Germans have found a way to make it work with trolley systems to transport grapes, and equipment strung up between the vines.

Rheingau VineyardRheingau Soil or rocks more like

Germany is one of those countries that seems to always be a step or two ahead of what is written in any textbook. Thankfully, most of us have managed to get over the misconception that Germany is all about cheap, sweet, fruity white wines, and most people now think of good quality, low alcohol, delicate yet intense Riesling that nicely walks the tightrope between residual sugar and vibrant acidity. This is the image of Germany through textbooks, but the reality on the ground is something different again. These sweeter wines are still made but most of it is for the export market. The Germans are drinking dry (trocken), powerful Rieslings that often are closer in style to those of Alsace or Austria than the German stereotype. They have been at it for a long time in Germany and change is inevitable. The kids running around at Peter Jakob Kühn winery were the 13th generation. I wonder how many guises German wine has been through in that time?

The other misconception is that Germany produces almost exclusively white wine. Riesling still, thankfully, has 22.9% of the acreage but Pinot Noir (Spätburgunder) is up to 11.5% and Dornfelder up to 7.8%. Red varieties now account for over 35% of production, but we rarely see these in Canada (Canada is Germany’s fifth largest export market by value) because the Germans drink it all themselves. In Germany, you will get to try some pretty tasty Pinot Noir (See David Lawrason’s take on Germany and Pinot Noir here). Thirty years ago, at a time when many north Americans formed their opinions about German wines, red grapes made up only 13%. This is quite a significant change for the world’s tenth largest producer of wine.

VDP_Faehnchen_braun_RGBKünstler Hochheimer Hölle Riesling Kabinett Trocken 2013 Künstler Hochheimer Stielweg Old Vines Riesling Trocken 2013There is also a move away from the traditional Prädikat labelling (terms like Kabinett, Spätlese, etc.) to more of a single vineyard focus. The VDP (Verband Deutscher Qualitäts- und Prädikatsweingüter), known by its black eagle logo that appears on member’s bottles, is an association that has always focused on the combination of producer, site and quality. It uses a Burgundian model based on vineyard site, with the top wines known as Erste Lage or Grosse Lage, the Grand Crus of the movement. The dry wines from a Grosse Lage vineyard will be labelled Grosses Gewächs and be labelled Qualitätswein Trocken. Sweeter versions use the Prädikat terms.

A lot of the best wines I tasted are not available in Canada but a few of the producers I visited that do appear from time to time are Auguste Kesseler, Baron Knyphausen, Kloster Eberbach and Künstler. There were also delicious sparkling wines from Schloss Vaux but I haven’t seen these in Canada yet.

After Germany it is a just a few hours drive across a deserted border into France and Alsace.

France – Alsace

Being in Alsace is like being in a fairy tale, at least in some villages. It is a cross between Germany and France, therefore becoming its own unique world. The food is brown, hearty and German. But for wine, Alsace is like no other place on earth. It is not just the stunning terroir of near vertical vineyards but also the attitude of the people. Alsace is a bit of a hub for the natural, the biodynamic, for those who want their wines to express the terroir without the winemaker sticking his bag of tricks in the way. Certainly not all Alsatian wine is of this low-manipulation style but there are enough producers to make it a movement rather than just a novel rarity.

The best quality wines of Alsace, in my opinion, come in two different styles. There are those like Domaine Zind-Humbrecht, Domaine Weinbach, Bott-Geyl and Barmès-Buecher who make incredibly interesting wines that vary from vintage to vintage and are never boring. The other style of top Alsatian wine is a little more predictable and is based on purity of flavours and intensity. I would put the wines of Domaine Zinck and Trimbach in this category.

There is a lot of character in the different terroirs of Alsace and these will often show through in the wines. Acidity, power, complexity, body and minerality all vary considerably from site to site and many producers make an impressive number of different wines.

Riesling is king, and to me, makes the best wines, but the Gewurztraminer is also something that can be very special in Alsace. Gewurz better suits the sweetness that the warm, dry, sunny Alsatian climate gives, handling it better than Pinot Gris, which can be overblown in alcohol levels. The Alsatians like to drink their Gewurz with a bit of age, something we don’t really do much in Canada, but a bit of time in the bottle serves to give a nice savoury edge and the wine drinks a little drier than the overt floral, fruity sweetness it often shows in its youth.

It can be hard work tasting in Alsace, not because the wines aren’t delicious, but because the curiosity of the producers means that many of them make dozens of different wines. At Zind-Humbrecht I tasted through 14 wines and it was amazing how different each wine was, showing how much terroir can differ within a region and how much it can influence the wines. Winemaking at Zind-Humbrecht is pretty hands off. It isn’t religiously “natural” winemaking in the extreme sense but the farming is biodynamic and basically the wines are left to do their own thing in big old vats, sometimes taking a year or more to finish fermenting in the cool cellar (the ambient temperature is about 8°C in winter) and often stopping with a smidge of residual sugar. The wines are always intensely flavoured, interesting and most of all have a wonderful texture that is hard to match in Riesling from other parts of the world.

Domaine Weinbach Furstentum Grand Cru Gewurztraminer 2011 Domaine Weinbach Gewürztraminer Cuvée Laurence 2012I learned some interesting things about using horses in the vineyard too. Zind-Humbrecht uses two horses as part of their viticulture program, but to do the entire vineyard they would need 10-12 horses. The animals need feeding three hours before working and then can only work for three hours. It is slow going too, taking about one week to plow one hectare of vines. Basically it takes a horse five days to do what a tractor could in half a day. They now match the soil conditions to the choice of tractor or horse. In some cases the tractor can be too powerful and do more damage than good. I found this pretty fascinating stuff. For viticulture geeks there was plenty of ground breaking (no pun intended) stuff at Zind-Humbrecht; the most important thing about organic or biodynamic viticulture is how close the grower observes what is happening in the vineyard and can adapt unique management to the unique situations.

At Domaine Weinbach (a tasting of 13 wines) the wines are of a similar style to Zind-Humbrecht. They make wine from 120 different plots, and all the wines show intensity of flavour, rich textures and complexity. The Riesling and the Gewurztraminer again stood out for me as well as the delicious 2014 Sylvaner Reserve. Two of the Gewurztraminer are now available in BC, the delicious Cuvée Laurence 2012, and the crazy Furstentum Grand Cru 2011.

My next stop was at Bott-Geyl where I notched up a tasting of 19 wines. The single vineyard and Grand Cru Rieslings showed amazing minerality and great richness of texture. These wines are also wild ferments and spend up to a year in old wood before bottling.

Domaine Barmès Buecher Crémant 2012 Domaine Barmes Buecher Riesling Alsace Grand Cru Steingrübler 2011At Barmès-Buecher, the dynamic family team of Geneviève Barmès and her children Sophie and Max are creating some eclectic and often delicious naturally inspired wines from some of the old vineyards that came together when Geneviève Buecher and her late husband François Barmès started the winery in 1985, incorporating vineyards that had been in the families since the 17th century. The family was hit with tragedy in 2011 when François passed away, but his children Max and Sophie came to the rescue to help their mother and I don’t think I have ever met a nicer, more generous and more energetic family in the wine business. I tasted through another 19 wines with the three of them and found more rich, delicious, textured and layered Riesling showing off a number of different terroirs (nine different vineyards including three Grand Cru sites). Quebecers get the best selection including the tasty 2011 Riesling Steingrubler GC. The 2012 Crémant d’Alsace Brut is also a good value bubbly.

My final Alsace visit was at Domaine Zinck, in Eguisheim. I thought that storks’ nests on top of fairy tale-like buildings hundreds of years old was something only of movies and imagination, but in Eguisheim it is alive and well. So is the young family of Phillippe & Pascale Zinck of Domaine Zinck. The winery was started by Phillippe’s father Paul, and now runs 20 hectares of grapes spread over 50 plots ranging in size from the largest at 1.7 ha down to just 0.06 ha. It sounds like a logistical nightmare, but 15 ha is located around the town of Eguisheim. Phillippe was born in Eguisheim and is a strong believer that 80% of the flavour in the wine comes from the grapes. They mostly work with stainless steel but are slowly incorporating larger oak casks into the mix. Phillippe talks of the difficulty in making Pinot Gris, saying there is only a small window to harvest when you get the right balance. They must be pretty good at finding this because their Pinot Gris Portrait 2012 won the International Trophy Best Off-Dry at the 2014 Decanter World Wine Awards.

Paul Zinck Cremant d’Alsace Domaine Zinck Portrait Series RieslingThe Portrait Series Riesling 2013 is a good value choice and is available in BC through private stores. There is also a little bit of the Grand Cru Riesling around and both the Pfersigberg 2012, a chalky, mineral, laser wine, and the Eichberg 2012, plusher, richer and more exotic, were delicious. It is worth putting these away for a few years. As Phillippe puts it, “when the Grand Cru wines are young you can’t smell the terroir, it takes about 5 years and then you have both the fruit and the aged complexities.” There is also the delicious Zinck Cremant d’Alsace which is excellent value at just over $20 in BC.

I feel like in Western Canada we are missing a lot of the best of Alsace. The top wines are definitely the Rieslings but the market seems keener on the Pinot Gris and Gewurztraminer here. It would be nice to see more people try these intense, mostly dry, mineral driven Rieslings and see what they are missing out on. 

Part 2 will see the adventure continue south into Beaujolais…

 

Rhys Pender, MW

 


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Laissez-vous surprendre par les vins d’Allemagne ! – Mardi 17 mai

Salon des vins allemands à Montréal

La tournée canadienne de Riesling & Co. fait escale à Montréal le 17 mai prochain à la Galerie Lounge TD

Afin de promouvoir les saveurs étonnantes et la polyvalence exceptionnelle des vins allemands, l’événement Riesling & Co. arrive à Montréal ce printemps.

vins d’Allemagne

En effet, le 17 mai prochain, une vingtaine de producteurs allemands proposant plus de 100 vins se rassembleront à la Galerie Lounge TD pour offrir aux invités la dégustation de vins allemands la plus exhaustive au pays. Des accords gourmands seront préparés par quatre chefs réputés : Michèle Forgione (Impasto, Gema, Chez Tousignant), Paul-André Piché (Gargantua, Blind Pig, La Tannerie), Tommy et Frédéric (Pork Shop) et Yoan Boullion (Balmoral).

« Quelle meilleure façon pour les amateurs de vins de découvrir la polyvalence des rieslings et pinots allemands, et de partager leur passion avec les vignerons invités, » affirme Mme Ulrike Lenhardt, de l’Institut des vins allemands, qui sera à Montréal spécialement pour l’occasion. Tant les sommeliers que les chroniqueurs, les œnophiles et les gastronomes s’entendent en effet pour dire que les vins allemands s’accordent très bien avec une variété de mets.

Les vins d’Allemagne, soumis dans ce pays à des lois rigoureuses, offrent une très grande variété de produits convenant à toutes les occasions, à toutes les cuisines et à tous les goûts.

Le secret de cette grande compatibilité, c’est la variété des styles (sec à sucré, mousseux ou tranquille), des cépages (riesling et pinot noir notamment, deux des plus populaires) et des degrés de richesse (de léger à corsé). Sans compter que grâce à un climat plus frais, les vins présentent généralement plus d’acidité (un élément vital aux meilleurs accords vins-mets) et un taux d’alcool moins élevé que leurs pairs issus de climats plus chauds.

Autre avantage de l’acidité plus élevée des vins allemands, ceux-ci se conservent mieux une fois ouverts. N’hésitez donc pas à ouvrir plus d’une bouteille et à déguster pour décider du meilleur accord pour l’occasion, car vous pourrez ranger les autres bouteilles ouvertes au réfrigérateur en prévision d’un prochain repas.

« Si vous n’êtes pas déjà friand de vins allemands, c’est que vous n’avez tout simplement pas encore trouvé celui qui vous convient !  »

Chose certaine, rien de tel que le salon des vins allemands du 17 mai prochain pour découvrir, par vous-même, à quel point nos vins et la cuisine apprêtée à toutes les sauces sont faits pour s’entendre.

C’est un rendez-vous !

Acheter vos billets

Acheter vos billets

DATE / LIEU :

Mardi 17 mai – Galerie Lounge TD, 2e étage, 305 rue Sainte-Catherine Ouest, Montréal H2X 3X5

Dégustation informelle – Goûtez à plus de 100 vins

  • Rencontrez plus de 20 vignerons et propriétaires
  • 18 h 30 à 22 h
  • Billets d’entrée : 60 $ avec le code CHACUNSONVIN — tous les échantillons de vins et d’aliments sont compris (prix courant 70 $ )
    Une partie des profits sera remise à la Tablée des chefs

Les amateurs de vins qui souhaitent participer à la dégustation en soirée sont invités à visiter : Soirée Riesling & Co. Vins d’Allemagne

Les abonnés de Chacun son Vin ont droit à un rabais de 10 $ sur le prix courant du billet d’entrée de 70 $. Indiquer le code promotionnel : CHACUNSONVIN

Acheter vos billets

Pour plus d’information, veuillez contacter : Elisabeth Charland, Brad
Tel: 514-871-1616 poste 269 /  elisabeth.charland@brad.ca

Acheter vos billets


 

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German Wine Fair – Toronto – May 18, 2016

Be Surprised by German Wines!

Riesling & Co. Canadian Tour stops in Toronto on May 18th at the Arcadian Loft

Back by popular demand, the Riesling & Co. 2016 German Wine Fair returns to Toronto this spring.

Wines of Germany logoOn May 18th, 35 celebrated German wineries offering 100+ wines will assemble at the Arcadian Loft to offer guests the most extensive German wine tasting in Canada. Many winemakers and winery principals will be on hand to discuss their fabulous wines with you. Food pairings will be prepared by Oliver and Bonacini.

Picture1“What better way for wine enthusiasts to discover the versatility of German Rieslings and Pinots, than when matched with the passion of the visiting winemakers,” notes Ulrike Lenhardt of the German Wine Institute, who will be in Toronto for the event.

Queen JosefineGuests will also have the opportunity to meet a real live Queen – German Wine Queen Josefine Schlumberger will be attending to educate visitors on German wines.

German wines are generally heralded as great food friendly wines. This is a very bold statement, but most sommeliers and other food and wine professionals will agree. In the belief that food and wine pairing is a very personal experience, you are encouraged to experiment and discover your own favourites.

Following strict wine laws, German wines offer great variety, and one can find a wine for any occasion, matching any food and satisfying almost anyone. If you don’t love German wines, you just haven’t found the right one for you.

 

WineAlign subscribers receive $10 off the regular ticket price of $75 with promo code WINEALIGN.

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Event Details: Walk-around tasting
Date: Wednesday, May 18th, 2016
Place:  Arcadian Loft, 8th Floor, 401 Bay Street, Toronto
Time: 6:30pm – 9:00pm Purchase Tickets
Tickets:  $65 with access code WINEALIGN (regular price $75)

Germany Tasting

Wine lovers interested in attending the evening tasting are encouraged to visit: www.ticketweb.ca for ticket information and search Riesling and Co. German Wine Fair.

For further information please contact: Lisa Ulrich, Wines of Germany c/o Andros Communications
Tel: 905 637 2100  lisa@androscom.com .

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Bill’s Best Bets – April 2016

The beautiful complexity that is Alsace
by Bill Zacharkiw

Bill Zacharkiw

Bill Zacharkiw

As I write this, I’m looking out my hotel window at the Strasbourg train station. It’s an interesting building – all glass, reminds me of a massive doughnut seen from its side. Figures they would make something so complicated yet strangely beautiful here. After all, this is Alsace.

Of all the world’s wine regions I have travelled, few stories are harder to tell than Alsace. What makes it any more complicated than any other region? Well, that’s a lot easier to answer.

The soils

The great wine regions have a variation in soil types, though they tend to be variations on a central theme. Germany’s Mosel has its slate. Chablis owes its distinctiveness to oyster laden Kimmeridgean soils. The Northern Rhône is primarily granite, and Burgundy is Burgundy because of its stratified limestone and clay.

Despite being only 50 km wide and around 100 km in length, Alsace has a dizzying array of soil types. A dominance of one type of rock in a soil will alter the growing conditions of the vine and ultimately, the final wine. In Alsace, there are six distinct families of soils and within those, dozens of subtle variants.

Maurice Barthelmé from Albert Mann revealing the _dirt_ about The Granc Cru Hengst

Maurice Barthelmé from Albert Mann revealing the dirt about The Granc Cru Hengst

So you get everything from granite to limestone, volcanic to shale, sand to marl. In practical terms the result is that the same grape can show very different personalities. Grown in granite, expect floral and fruity aromas and a delicate acidity. A slate soil will be very austere, and more dominated by acid. Limestone brings citrus notes and depending on the amount of clay will bring more or less body.

The grapes

When you travel through Chablis, with its one grape variety and one soil type, you are tasting how chardonnay changes its expression depending on subtle variations in exposition and climate.

In Alsace, there are five main grapes: riesling, muscat, pinot blanc, pinot gris and gewurztraminer. There is also excellent pinot noir and auxerrois which is often blended in with pinot blanc and sylvaner. That’s eight different varieties for only 15,000 hectares of vines. Burgundy, excluding Beaujolais, has roughly twice as much vineyard but grows predominately two grapes, chardonnay and pinot noir.

Riesling growing in the Steinart Grand Cru

Riesling growing in the Steinart Grand Cru

There are also different perspectives on what is “ripe.” Some winemakers are looking for botryitis, or noble rot, in their wines so they tend to have some sweetness. Others are pushing for as dry as possible, which is definitely more a tendency, especially amongst the younger winemakers. Both are great, but again, very different wines.

So herein lies the dilemma. A riesling, for example, can be grown in a wide variety of soils, harvested at different levels of ripeness, and made in a wide variety of ways. How can you possibly say it is “one thing.” You simply can’t.

The people

In my many travels, I have never witnessed a place with such an interesting and deeply rooted culture. They have so much in common with each other, such pride, yet can have such different visions.

It is a region of intense religiosity and spirituality. Both Catholic and Protestant influences can be seen everywhere. It is the meeting ground of the Latin and Germanic cultures. The region has bounced back and forth between German and French control to the point that even their traditional dialect is a blend of German and French.

How complex are Alsatian soils_ Pierre Gassmann showing me 20 different rock types collected around his village

Pierre Gassmann showing me 20 different rock types collected around his village

One of the results of this mix of French rationalism and love for terroir, and the more Germanic love for nature, is that Alsace is one of the most environmentally conscious regions I have ever visited. It is the spiritual home for bio-dynamic grape growing. Organic viticulture is more the rule here than the exception.

So in the spirit of embracing the plurality of expressions and the complexity, suffice to say that centuries of wine making history, combined with the world’s greatest soils and noble grapes which are perfectly adapted to the terroir, no matter what you find in your glass, there’s a good chance it will be very worthy of your interest.

For those of you new to Alsace, a great place to start is with a blend. While each winery does it differently, what is often labelled “Gentil” must be composed of a minimum of 50% riesling, muscat, pinot gris and/or gewurztraminer. Try the 2012 Trilogie from Barmes-Buecher for its minerality and reserved fruit, or the more expressive, fruitier and slightly sweet 2014 Black Tie from Pfaffenheim.

Domaine Barmès Buecher Trilogie 2012Pfaffenheim Black Tie Pinot Gris Riesling 2014 Josmeyer Mise Du Printemps Pinot Blanc 2014 Trimbach Pinot Blanc 2014 Domaine Albert Mann Pinot Gris Grand Cru Hengst 2012

With snow crab being in season, time to go pinot blanc. Delicate and nuanced, it will support the sweet and subtle flesh of the crab to perfection. If you can find a bottle, try the 2014 Mise de Printemps from Josmeyer. Simply put, an extraordinary wine. A classic which once again does the job well, the 2014 Pinot Banc from Trimbach won’t let you down.

Pinot gris is the most mysterious of the Alsatian grapes. The Grand Cru wines can lived for decades, and properly should be drunk after a decade in bottle as time allows for them to “eat up” their sweetness and develop amazing complexity. If you are into cellaring wines, then pick up a few bottles of the 2012 Grand Cru Hengst from Albert Mann. This is a beast with its apricot and lemon notes and is so richly textured. A touch more accessible, the 2013 Loberger Weingarten is a touch leaner yet shows great finesse. If you want it completely dry, then pick up the great gris from Leon Beyer.

Now on to riesling. Sadly, just last week we learned that Etienne Hugel passed away. He was a great ambassador for both his family estate and for the wines of Alsace in general. One of my go-to wines has always come from Hugel. Their basic riesling is dry and mineral, but with texture – classic Alsace riesling. And the 2014 lives up to its reputation. If you want a wine with more texture and just a bare hint of sweetness, the 2014 Vignoble d’E from Ostertag is an excellent wine, and ideal for a spicy stir fry.

Domaine J. Loberger Pinot Gris Weingarten 2013 Léon Beyer Pinot Gris 2013 Hugel Riesling 2014 Vignoble d'E from Ostertag Jean Louis Schoepfer Gewurztraminer 2014 Domaine Weinbach Cuvée Théo Gewurztraminer 2014

And finally, for you fans of powerful wines with no lack of aromatics, two gewurztraminers that are textbook. The 2014 from Jean Louis Schoepfer is quite dry but does not lack in texture but shows nicely restrained aromas. If you want a more classic gewurz, which shows layers of richness, spice and fruit, then look no further than the 2014 Cuvee Theo from Weinbach. In my books, one of the classic expressions of the grape. Bring on the Munster cheese.

Bill

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

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


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Les bons choix de Nadia – Février 2016

De grands terroirs sous-estimés
par Nadia Fournier

Nadia Fournier

Nadia Fournier

Le monde du vin est vaste. De plus en plus vaste. L’année dernière, on recensait une soixantaine de pays producteurs. La France, l’Italie, les États-Unis et l’Espagne dans le peloton de tête; la Lettonie, le Kyrgyzstan et le Zimbabwe comme bons derniers.

Le Zimbabwe, quand même!

Malgré cette apparente diversité, j’ai l’impression de vous parler sans cesse des mêmes appellations, des mêmes vins. Évidemment, on ne peut réinventer la roue – qu’elle ait trois ou quatre boutons – à chaque chronique. Puis, comme notre travail consiste avant tout à vous guider dans vos achats, nos recommandations sont tributaires de l’offre à la SAQ.

La sélection du Cellier du mois de février, par exemple, est somme toute assez conservatrice. Outre quelques exceptions, l’offre se résume aux régions européennes classiques : Bordeaux, Madiran, Cahors, Sancerre, Barolo, Rioja, Douro et quelques vins de Toscane. Cela dit, bien que peu novatrice, la sélection compte de très bons achats, tous commentés plus bas.

Mais pour être certaine de ne pas vous laisser sur votre soif, je vous donne en prime quelques suggestions de vins abordables qui proviennent de régions encore trop souvent sous-estimées, sinon snobées.

À la vôtre!

Dão, Portugal 

Carvalhais Duque De Viseu Red 2013 Quinta Das Maias Dâo 2012Avec les investissements soutenus dont elle bénéficie depuis une vingtaine d’années, cette région qui a beaucoup souffert du monopole de coopératives instauré sous la dictature, est en voie de réhabilitation. Si les vins de table du Douro ont été la révélation portugaise des années 1990, ceux du Dão pourraient d’ailleurs être celle de la présente décennie.

Au Portugal, on entend souvent dire que les vins du Dão empruntent certains traits caractéristiques à ceux de la Bourgogne ou du Beaujolais. Fruité et goulayant, doté d’une certaine mâche tannique, tout en conservant une immense « buvabilité ». Le cépage touriga nacional n’a pourtant rien en commun avec le pinot noir ou le gamay et donne plutôt des vins puissants et tanniques dans le Douro. Mais sur les sols de granit du Dão, où il profite autant de la fraîcheur de l’océan atlantique que de celle des montagnes, il est la source de vins élégants et tout en nuances, comme le Quinta das Maias 2012, ou le Duque de Viseu 2013. Tous deux vendus sous la barre des 20 $. 

Muscadet, France

Depuis une dizaine d’années, les vins du Muscadet sont enfin sortis des limbes. grâce au travail d’une poignée de vignerons qui ont redonné leurs lettres de noblesse à ces vignobles situés au sud-est de Nantes. La région en avait grand besoin : le muscadet est sans doute l’un des vins blancs dont la réputation a le plus souffert de la vague industrielle qui a régné sur plusieurs vignobles de France après la seconde moitié du 20e siècle.

Soumis à des rendements immenses, le cépage local melon de bourgogne n’a longtemps donné que de petits vins vif et sans âme. Le muscadet constitue une excellente alternative économique pour les amateurs de vins blancs secs, non-boisés et désaltérant comme ceux de Chablis. Ses notes salines et minérales évoquent tantôt les coquilles d’huîtres, tantôt l’odeur de cailloux chauffés au soleil.

Les meilleurs vins de l’appellation peuvent aussi reposer en cave pendant une bonne dizaine d’années. Ils acquièrent alors des arômes des notes d’hydrocarbures et de cire d’abeille qui rappellent de vieux rieslings.

Guy Bossard (Domaine de l’Écu) a été l’un des premiers vignerons à redynamiser le Muscadet. Évoluant à contrecourant, il a en converti à l’agriculture biologique dès 1975, le domaine familial aujourd’hui géré de façon tout aussi rigoureuse par Fréderic Niger Van Herck. La cuvée Granite 2013 est l’un des beaux exemples du genre à la SAQ. 

Maule, Chili

Ce qui se passe en ce moment dans le vignoble chilien est fascinant. Un vent de renouveau souffle sur le pays depuis quelques années, entrainant sur son passage de nouvelles générations de vignerons. Rien à voir cependant avec la révolution technologique et oenologique qui avait permis de moderniser les méthodes de vinification dans les années 1980 et d’accroitre la concentration. Certains vous diront qu’il s’agit plutôt d’un retour en arrière : des raisins cueillis moins mûrs, moins d’interventions au chai et aussi moins de bois neuf.

Frappés par la sècheresse dans les régions viticoles les plus septentrionales, plusieurs acteurs importants de l’industrie viticole chilienne manifestent un intérêt croissant pour les régions de Maule et d’Itata. Les cépages carignan, cinsault et país – dont plusieurs vignes centenaires qui abondent dans ce secteur – sont maintenant pris au sérieux et donnent des vins aussi authentiques que délicieux.

Élaboré par Pedro Parra, chasseur de terroir et ambassadeur du renouveau chilien, le Clos des Fous Cauquenina 2013 est l’archétype du vrai vin de terroir. Issu de vignes âgées de 80 ans en moyenne (carignan, malbec, syrah, país, cinsault et carmenère) il évoque autant la terre que du fruit, par ses parfums de feuilles mortes et ses tanins un peu granuleux.

Domaine de L'ecu Granite 2013 Clos des Fous Cauquenina 2013 Kerpen Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Spätlese Trocken 2014

Les riesling allemands… secs! 

Malgré la croyance populaire, tous les rieslings germaniques ne sont pas doux. À visiter les régions viticoles d’Allemagne, on pourrait même croire que les rieslings demi-secs sont une espèce menacée. Depuis une bonne trentaine d’années, les Allemands ont largement adopté les vins secs, dépourvus de sucre résiduel, au détriment de tout autre style de vin. En fait, la survie des riesling demi-sec tel qu’on les connait repose essentiellement sur la demande des acheteurs étrangers.

Au 19e siècle, les vins germaniques étaient plus secs que ceux de France et titraient jusqu’à 12,5 % d’alcool. Ce n’est qu’après la Première guerre mondiale que les vins ont commencé à évoluer vers un style demi-sec. Pour des raisons financières, les entreprises viticoles ont été contraintes d’accélérer le processus des vinifications. Ainsi, plutôt que de laisser le sucre présent dans le moût de raisins se transformer complétement en alcool – ce qui pouvait prendre un an voire plus, si la température extérieure ralentissait l’action des levures – plusieurs ont entrepris de bloquer la fermentation au printemps, lorsque les vins avaient encore une généreuse quantité de sucre résiduel. Ils pouvaient alors mettre le vin en bouteilles dès l’été et l’expédier avant la prochaine vendange.

Pour redécouvrir le riesling allemand sur un mode sec, vif et tranchant, goûtez le Riesling Trocken 2014 de la maison Kerpen, produit sur les des coteaux vertigineux du cru Wehlener Sonnenuhr, dans la Mittelmosel. Qu’un vin apte à vieillir et provenant d’un des plus grands terroirs viticoles de la planète coûte moins de 25 $ devrait suffire à vous convaincre de l’essayer. 

Cellier – Février 

En rafale, mes coups de cœur parmi les vins qui ont été mis en marché les 4 et 18 février dans le cadre du lancement du dernier Cellier. Pour consulter la liste complète des vins du dernier arrivage, commentés par Marc Chapleau, Bill Zacharkiw et moi, cliquez ICI.

Le Château Cormeil-Figeac, propriété de la famille Moreaud, fait face aux châteaux Figeac et Cheval-Blanc, à Saint-Émilion. En 2010, Coraline et Victor ont produit un vin harmonieux, franc et net, qui marie la rondeur du merlot à la vivacité du cabernet franc, avec un esprit de dépouillement qui fait le charme des bons bordeaux classiques. (38 $)

Château Cormeil Figeac 2010 Péraclos 2010 Michel Rolland Bordeaux 2010 Château La Fleur Pourret 2009 Château de Cenac Cuvée Prestige Malbec 2011

Le Péraclos 2010, Montagne Saint-Émilion offre une interprétation ambitieuse de ce terroir secondaire de la rive-droite. Encore jeune et marqué par l’élevage; compact et conçu pour plaire aux amateurs de vins costauds. (19,95 $) Nettement plus rond et accessible dès aujourd’hui, le Bordeaux 2010 de Michel Rolland est l’expression même d’un merlot mûr, gorgé de saveurs confites et porté par des tanins rond. (21,60 $) Dans le même registre, le Château La Fleur Pourret, Saint-Émilion grand cru 2009 affiche la générosité caractéristique du millésime. Le vin est cependant tissé de tanins assez fermes et n’accuse aucune lourdeur en bouche. (31 $)

Bon vin de Cahors issu à 100 % de malbec, le Château Cénac, Cahors 2011, Cuvée Prestige s’avère plus aromatique que concentré ou puissant. Droit et assez bien tourné. (17,50 $)

Dans le Piémont, Sergio Germano élabore des vins de facture moderne, qui mettent à contribution les barriques neuves. Son Barolo 2010 est gorgé de fruit et d’épices et soutenu par des tanins compacts. Encore jeune et très vigoureux, il devrait se bonifier d’ici 2018. (49,75 $)

Ettore Germano Barolo 2010 Marqués de Murrieta Finca Ygay Reserva 2010 Lavradores de Feitoria Douro 2013 Alves de Sousa Gaivosa Primeros Anos 2012 Guy Breton Régnié 2013

Célèbre pour sa cuvée Castillo Ygay Gran Reserva, Marques de Murrieta produit aussi une version Reserva commercialisée sous le simple nom de Ygay. Le Rioja Reserva 2010 est une belle bouteille à revoir dans 5-6 ans. (29,70 $) 

Disponible en très bonnes quantités dans le réseau et vendu pour moins de 15 $, le Lavradores de Feitoria, Douro 2013 ne titre que 13 % d’alcool, mais il a beaucoup de volume en bouche. À ce prix, on serait fou de s’en passer. (14,80 $) Un peu plus riche et boisé, le Gaivosa 2012, Primeros Anos, Douro est joufflu et assez rassasiant à sa manière. (20,95 $) 

Et pour terminer sur une note de légèreté, le Régnié 2013 de Guy Breton fera le plus grand bonheur des amoureux du gamay. Comme plusieurs vignerons de la région, Breton a fait ses classes aux côtés de Jules Chauvet, père du mouvement des vins naturels. Son Régnié est souple, coulant, gorgé de fruit et irrésistiblement digeste. (28,30 $)

Santé!

Nadia Fournier

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


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Buyers’ Guide to VINTAGES March 21st – Part Two

Southwest France, Riesling & the Best of the Rest
By John Szabo MS with notes from Sara d’Amato

John Szabo, MS

John Szabo, MS

The deep southwest remains one of those lost and misunderstood corners of France, as seemingly impenetrable as the local accent. I’ll never forget watching a news report in Paris in which a farmer from the Gers, a region to the west of Toulouse, was being interviewed. His accent was so thick the TV station posted subtitles so the rest of France could understand.

The region’s two marquee appellations, Cahors and Madiran, featured in the March 21st release, could likewise use some subtitles to help consumers understand them a little better. I was also inspired by a quartet of rieslings from three classic regions, and Sara and I have a handful of additional smart buys for you, filling in the gaps while David continues his peripatetic wine research.

Buyers’ Guide March 21st:
Southwest France, Cahors, Madiran & Fronton: Lost in Translation

Cahors

Considering Argentina’s success with malbec, a grape that originates in southwest France on either side of the Lot River near the town of Cahors, you’d have thought that some reflected spotlight would have shone back home. But I’d wager that most enthusiastic drinkers of deeply fruity malbec from Mendoza would have little inkling of the grape’s true origins, a perfectly understandable knowledge gap considering for one that the French original is rarely labeled with the name of the grape, but more importantly, how radically different the two styles are.

Ironically, these days it’s Argentina that has a more clearly defined style for the variety, and the old world is busy reinventing itself. It’s been fifteen years since I’ve been to that corner of France, so I asked local writer and wine importer Alain Laliberté for his most recent impressions of the region – Laliberté is somewhat of a specialist and has travelled there on many occasions over the last decade for his importing business.

“A generation of young producers have picked up the baton since the turn of the century, with a far more rigorous approach to quality than the previous generation. And they’ve already had a big impact”, he reveals [my translation]. “The rustic, bony wines of the ‘70s, ’80s and even ‘90s, with their drying tannins, have ceded place to structured wines that are more like an iron fist in a velvet glove.”

Cahors has indeed improved a great deal, and the top examples highlight malbec’s floral character, like a field of violets, and bring graceful natural acidity to bear on chiseled tannins, lifting and framing the wine. It was in fact that naturally high acid working with green tannins in the past that made the old “black wine” of Cahors so unruly.

Pont-Valentré, Cahors. (Photo from tripadvisor.ca)

Pont-Valentré, Cahors. (Photo from tripadvisor.ca)

There are also notable style differences depending on precisely where the grapes are grown, as the Cahors appellation has three distinct areas. “Malbec from the low-lying, gently inclined parcels facing the Lot River are less dense”, Laliberté confirms, “while the elevated inclines above produce more structured wines.” The Cahors most suitable for long ageing, however, are those grown on the iron-rich limestone plateau that sits above the river and the other two areas, which yields the most firm and dense wines, according to Laliberté, but also the most finessed. Clos Troteligotte, one of the producers Laliberté represents, has vines on the plateau and produces no fewer than six malbec cuvées according to the concentration of iron in each micro-parcel. (Clos Troteligotte K-Or Cahors 2012 is set to be released in April or May).

For more immediate gratification, try the Château Pineraie 2011 l’Authentique ($39.95) from this release. It’s a bold and seriously pure malbec from the plateau. Sixty year-old vines are harvested very ripe and grapes are fermented in wooden vats (more oxygen, softer tannins) before ageing in barriques, 2/3rds of which are new, for a year and a half. The net result is a dense and supple wine with excellent quality tannins: ripe but firm, fine-grained and neatly woven. Even at the premium price this over-delivers. Best 2015-2026.

Madiran

Tannat, the principal variety in the appellation of Madiran even further southwest of Cahors in Basque country, has yet to really garner any significant international attention. Unlikely Uruguay has made it somewhat of a signature variety, and I’ve seen it pop up in regions as far-flung as Greece and Australia, but its wiry, impermeable character make even malbec look like a plush and cuddly stuffed animal, and has limited its appeal in a new world looking above all for soft, fruity wines. During my first visit to Madiran in 2000, my palate was stripped of all flesh and saliva after a barrel tasting of just four wines, needing a full afternoon to recover from the blitzkrieg of tannin.

It’s not tough to imagine why micro-oxidation (or “micro-ox”), a technique of gently dosing wine with oxygen bubbles to soften tannins, would have been invented here to deal with tannat. But as in Cahors, more attentive viticulture, lower yields, and riper grapes have altered the style landscape. Also, in theory tannat need only represent 40% of a Madiran final blend, even if in practice the percentage is much higher, and producers have the option of adding cabernet franc, cabernet sauvignon or fer to complement (it’s telling that cabernet sauvignon would be considered a softening variety here).

Château Pineraie l'Authentique Cahors 2011 Château Peyros Vieilles Vignes Madiran 2009 Château Bellevue La Forêt 2011

Most take advantage of the rules and blend 20%-30% of other grapes, as in Château Peyros 2009 Vieilles Vignes Madiran ($18.95). For this old vines cuvée, average 50 year-old Tannat is blended with 20% of cabernet franc to great effect yielding a very pretty, violet-scented example with an engaging medicinal note, like walking into an herbalist’s shop. For the money you’d be hard pressed to find more complexity; this is a flavour trip into wonderland. Now five years on it’s drinking very well, though it’s still Tannat, and tight tannins call for salty protein. Best 2015-2021.

Fronton

It seems only one estate waves the flag internationally for the small AOC of Fronton north of Toulouse and its unique specialty, négrette. Sara d’Amato recommends it:Château Bellevue La Forêt 2011 ($13.95). The blend is primarily made up of négrette, a grape found in very few places outside of Fronton or the southwest. As the name suggests, it produces deeply coloured wines, spicy with medium tannins but short on acids. In this case it is blended with syrah (adding appealing notes of black pepper and purple flower), cabernet franc and cabernet sauvignon. Impactful and memorable.”

Buyers’ Guide March 21st: Riesling Rules!

A quartet of excellent rieslings from regions with proven track records of success – Germany, Alsace and Ontario – inspired this mini-thematic. Gather your tasting group and line these up for a thorough schooling in riesling styles. Lovers of classic Mosel will find happiness in the Dr. Hermann 2010 Erdener Treppchen Kabinett Riesling ($17.95). It would be hard to imagine stuffing more regionally distinctive character, and just plain lots of wine, into a bottle for less. And if you saw how steep and difficult to farm the Treppchen vineyard is, you’d almost feel guilty. Almost. This wine will live on until the early ‘30s no doubt.

Ontario is by now internationally recognized for the quality of its riesling, and March 21st sees two of the finest examples offered. Since the first vintage in 2002, Flat Rock Nadja’s Vineyard Riesling ($19.95) has turned heads. The 2013 is yet another lean, tightly wound, sharp riesling the way we like them, finely woven and very nicely balanced. Drink or hold until the early ‘20s.

And with an even longer track record, and some of the oldest riesling vines in Canada panted in the late 1970s, Vineland Estates 2012 Elevation St. Urban Vineyard Riesling ($19.95) continues on in the Germanic tradition, carrying amazing flavour intensity on a featherweight, 9% alcohol frame. I like the off-dry, crisp-balanced, spiced apple flavours and the lingering apple blossom finish. Drink through 2022.

Dr. Hermann Erdener Treppchen Kabinett Riesling 2010 Flat Rock Nadja's Vineyard Riesling 2013 Vineland Estates Elevation St. Urban Vineyard Riesling 2012 Trimbach Riesling 2012

If you prefer your riesling fully dry and upright, you need only knock on the centuries old house of Trimbach, where dry riesling has been a specialty since 1626. The 2012 Trimbach Riesling ($21.95) is a terrific, arch-classic dry Alsatian style with deceptive intensity and length on a seemingly light frame. This quivers and reverberates on and on. Best 2015-2022.

Buyers’ Guide March 21st: More Smart Buys

Force Majeure 2011 Collaboration Series VI Red Mountain, Columbia Valley ($64.95)

John Szabo – In a short time Red Mountain has become Washington State’s premium red wine AVA, and Force Majeure one of its maximum interpreters. Paul McBride planted his first vines in 2006, but while waiting for them to mature, embarked on a series of collaborative wines with Ciel du Cheval vineyard. The series is being phased out as estate fruit comes into production, so it’s unlikely we’ll see this again, a sturdy and well-structured blend of mourvèdre and syrah with a splash of grenache offering plenty of dark fruit and spice, integrated wood, and liqueur-like concentration. Best 2017-2026.

Tinto Pesquera 2010 Reserva, DO Ribera del Duero, Spain ($44.95)

John Szabo – One of my first great wine moments involved a bottle of Pesquera, and happily, some years later, the wine is still as memorable. There are few places, and indeed fewer wines on earth that can pull off such a fine balance of fruit and oak, structure and suppleness. This wine also ages magnificently, and I recommend cellaring another three years or so before making your own memories. Best 2018-2030.
Sara d’Amato – An iconic, generous wine sure to etch itself in your memory. Drink selfishly or please, give a taste to a first time wine drinker and you may just be responsible for the birth of a new oenophile.

Force Majeure Collaboration Series VI 2011 Tinto Pesquera Reserva 2010 Domaine J. Laurens Le Moulin Brut Blanquette de Limoux E. Guigal Côtes du Rhône Blanc 2013

Domaine J. Laurens Le Moulin Brut Blanquette De Limoux, Languedoc, France ($18.95)

Sara d’Amato – Limoux is known as the “original Champagne” as the bubbly was thought to have come about in the 16th century, close to 200 years before Champagne became prominent. With lots of depth, succulence and creaminess, this appealing and frothy example has me wanting to celebrate.

E. Guigal Côtes du Rhône Blanc 2012, Rhône, France ($18.95)

Sara d’Amato – White Rhône floats my boat and it is a shame we see it so infrequently on our shelves. This is a fine, well-priced southern example, very characteristic and easy to appreciate. Notes of lush apricot, lavender and crunchy sea salt will have you salivating. Try with white fish in a peppery lemon butter sauce.

That’s all for this week. But in case you missed it, check out d’Amato’s and my report on Cuvée 2015 and the best from Ontario, complete with compromising photographs! See you over the next bottle.

John Szabo, MS

John Szabo MS

From VINTAGES March 21, 2015:

Szabo’s Smart Buys
Lawrason’s Take
Sara’s Sommelier Selections
March 21st Part One – Icon Wines Demystified
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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Niagara Riesling: Making the Case

Ontario Wine Report
John Szabo MS

John Szabo MS

John Szabo MS

Is riesling Niagara’s most reliable grape? Aside from indestructible hybrids like vidal, most local growers point to either riesling or chardonnay as the best performing white grapes in Ontario. And I’d argue that while top Niagara Chardonnays are surely excellent, they also come at a price, usually $25 and up for the best, and often over $50. Fine riesling on the other hand, can regularly be had for under $15, while even at the very top end prices have yet to exceed $40.

The style and flavor spectrums for chardonnay and riesling are of course not comparable, but if you’re looking for regional and varietal paradigms, riesling wins on value every time. And when it comes to ageability, riesling is hard to beat. I recently tried a 1989 Vineland semi-dry riesling that was astonishingly good, a wine that cost well under $10 on release.

Some of the oldest vines in Niagara are riesling, with several parcels planted back in the late 1970s still producing. These old vines are the origin of some of Niagara’s best. Geeks will revel in discussions over clones and the subtly different wines they produce; Weiss 21 brought by Hermann Weiss to Vineland Estates from the Mosel is the most widely planted, producing a tighter, leaner more citrus-driven style. The so-called Clone 49, an Alsatian clone, delivers a broader, fuller, more pear-flavoured riesling in my experience. But of course it’s the dirt that matters most, a fact put into clear relief after a recent riesling-focused tour through Niagara wine country.

Vertical Tastings of some of the best Niagara Rieslings

According to Tom Penachetti of Cave Spring, vine age and soil depth are critical quality factors. “The sweet spot is on the bench under the Escarpment”, he says, referring to mainly the Beamsville Bench and Twenty Mile Bench Sub-appellations. Hydrology, or water availability, is one of the reasons, with the best sites benefitting from the springs and ground water that drain off of the Niagara Escapment.

Soils are thinner on top of the escarpment, Penachetti continues, and can dry out too quickly, or retain too much water. He believes the sites with heavier clays are best for riesling. But there are exceptions, such as the excellent Charles Baker’s Picone vineyard Riesling and Tawse’s Quarry Road Riesling, both from the Vinemount Ridge sub-appellation on top of the Escarpment.

Soils further from the Escarpment, down by shores of Lake Ontario tend to be more sandy, with less clay and limestone, and tend to produce softer, fruitier, more peachy Rieslings. Yet even here, a few patches of heavier clays such as the vineyard at Back Ten Cellars, what the locals call “the brickyard”, yield more nervy, compact wines.

In any case, Niagara has much to offer in a range of styles. Here are a few to seek out to conduct your own tour of Niagara Riesling. Click on each for full tasting notes.

Top Values: Both Inexpensive and Representative

Vineland Estates 2013 Dry Riesling, Twenty Mile Bench ($13.95). A regional paradigm, with apple cherry blossom and green apple aromatics, lovely crisp acids and surprising depth.

Vineland Estates 2013 Semi-Dry Riesling, Twenty Mile Bench ($13.95). All from the original St. Urban’s Vineyard planted in the late 1970s. Although semi-dry, this is beautifully balanced between  generous and fleshy texture and lean and taught acids. There’s a fine, elegant bitterness from phenolics, which also helps to dry out the palate.

Vineland Estates 2013 Dry Riesling Vineland Estates Riesling Semi Dry VQA 2013 No Unauthorized Reproduction WineAlign @Jason Dziver Cave Spring Estate Riesling 2012

Château des Charmes 2012 Riesling Old Vines, Niagara-on-the-Lake ($16.95). This wine captures the richer style of riesling from the warmest part of Niagara (mostly St. David’s Bench fruit), widely appealing in the fuller and broader riesling category.

Cave Spring 2012 Riesling Estate, Beamsville Bench ($17.95). A very fine vintage for this reliable wine, ripe and verging on exotic, even if winemaker Angelo Pavan doesn’t use any aroma-enhancing enzymes, believing that it sacrifices too much texture (enzymes split sugars and make them unavailable for fermentation and hence glycerol/alcohol production).

Top Escarpment/Bench Sites: A Glassful of Limestone

Tawse 2012 Carly’s Block, Twenty Mile Bench ($31.95). From Tawse’s oldest riesling block planted in 1978, this is one of the top Rieslings of the vintage in my view. Considering its track record, this should age beautifully – I’d revisit after 2016 for maximum enjoyment.

Tawse 2012 Quarry Road Vineyard, Vinemount Ridge ($23.95). Quarry Road is on top of the Niagara Escarpment, planted 50-50 with Clone 49 and Weiss 21. I’ve tasted the 2012 a couple of times now, and the wine seems to be gaining in tightness and freshness, amazingly enough. Relative to the Carly’s Block, this is a tight and angular expression, though the balance is pitch perfect.

No Unauthorized Reproduction WineAlign @Jason Dziver Tawse Quarry Road Riesling 2012 Cave Spring CSV Riesling 2010 Fielding Estate Lot 17 Riesling Fielding Vineyard 2013

Cave Spring 2010 CSV Riesling, Beamsville Bench ($29.95). Another Niagara classic, the CSV is always built to age. It’s one of the broader and fuller styles of Ontario riesling, and the 2012 reflects both the later harvest (full ripeness) policy of the house and the warm vintage. I’d suggest enjoying this anytime over the next half dozen years.

Fielding Estate 2013 Riesling Lot 17, Beamsville Bench ($27.95). From 17 rows of the oldest riesling on the estate planted in 2000 with clone 49, this is very pear-driven, off-dry, zesty and crisp, though edging to a drier style with each vintage it seems. It’s the finest riesling from Fielding to date.

Thirty Bench 2012 Small Lot Riesling Wood Post ($30); Thirty Bench 2012 Small Lot Riesling Steel Post ($30); Thirty Bench 2012 Small Lot Riesling Triangle Vineyard ($30). Here’s a chance to do a perfect side-by-side comparative tasting of three different vineyards all made in the exact some way, all from the estate vineyards on the Beamsville Bench, from vines of approximately the same age. Thirty Bench has done in-depth studies on their terroir and there are indeed measureable differences, so it’s not just your imagination.  See if you can pick up the The “Wood Post’s intriguing herbal-pine needle nuances, the Steel Post’s perfect pitch and green apple citrus-lime character, and the richness of the Triangle Vineyard, the most forward and generous of the series.

Thirty Bench Small Lot Wood Post Riesling 2012 Thirty Bench Small Lot Steel Post Vineyard 2012 Thirty Bench Small Lot Triangle Vineyard Riesling 2012Showcase Ghost Creek Riesling 2012Back 10 Cellars The Big Reach Riesling 2012

Top Lakeshore/Niagara-on-the-Lake Rieslings – The broader, fuller styles

Trius 2012 Showcase Ghost Creek Riesling, Four Mile Creek ($25). Ghost Creek is one of the original Hillebrand vineyards planted in the 1980s, though this hails from a more recent planting with clone 49. The vineyard sits on an old, very stony, dried up creek bed with shale and limestone and thus good drainage. The 2012 is a full and fleshy, ripe and substantial wine, one of the best from the Four Mile Creek sub-appellation.

Back 10 Cellars 2012 The Big Reach Riesling, Lincoln Lakeshore ($25). The Back Ten Cellars vineyard sits on heavy red clay soils in the Lincoln Lakeshore sub-appellation, in which yields of a measly 2 tons per acre are considered successful. For this wine only free-run juice is used. It’s quite a broad and full wine with evident concentration, denser and more compact than Bench Rieslings.

Vinemount Ridge – for acid Freaks

Charles Baker 2012 Riesling Picone Vineyard, Vinemount Ridge ($35). From now 35 year old vines in this vintage, the 2012 is rivetingly tight and pure, concise and focused, in my view the finest Picone Vineyard riesling to date, even after the excellent 2011.

No Unauthorized Reproduction WineAlign @Jason Dziver

Flat Rock Nadja's Vineyard Riesling 2013

Charles Baker Picone Vineyard Riesling 2012Flat Rock Cellars 2013 Nadja’s Vineyard Riesling, Twenty Mile Bench ($19.95). Nadja’s vineyard was planted in 2000, a two-ha parcel just under the top of the Escarpment and Flatrock’s coolest site, ripening up to two weeks later than the parcel below the winery. This is fragrant and pretty, lean and tightly wound example of Niagara Riesling.

2027 Cellars 2012 Falls Vineyard Riesling, Vinemount Ridge ($25). Falls vineyard is 2027 Cellars’ tightest and most riveting riesling, true to sub-appellation, with significant minerality.

The Stylistic Outlier

Pearl-Morissette 2012 Riesling Cuvée Foudre “Black Ball”, Twenty Mile Bench ($25). This wine is not yet released and it remains to be determined whether it will be labeled as VQA Riesling, or VQA at all, as François Morissette tells me it has already been rejected twice by the VQA tasting panel, even though it has past the laboratory analysis and been deemed chemically stable. (It was also rejected in past vintages, which is the origin of the cuvée name “Black Ball). In any case, it doesn’t fall into any known model of Ontario riesling, being at once fully dry with malolatic fermentation fully finished, and aged in large old foudres from Alsace and bottled unfined and unfiltered with minimal sulphur. It’s a wine of texture more than aromatics, and you’ll need to think along the lines of other stylistic outliers like, say André Ostertag in Epfig or Clemens-Busch in the Mosel, to really get this.

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

John Szabo, MS

John Szabo MS

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


 

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