A Report on Consignment Wines in Ontario
Written by David Lawrason
In this regular feature WineAlign tastes wines submitted by a single importing agent. Our critics independently, as always, review and rate the wines – good, bad and indifferent, and those reviews are posted to WineAlign. We then independently recommend wines to appear in this 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.
For an explanation of the program, the process and our 10 Good Reasons to Buy the Case, please click here.
I have known David Thompson of Vintage Trade from his beginnings in the wine industry in Ontario many years ago. He is a man smitten by the grape to be sure, but also meticulous and keen to succeed in the difficult task of running a small, quality focused importing agency in Ontario.
“Some people say I have the best job in the world.” David says, “In some ways that may be true, but keeping wines available and working through the LCBO provides great challenges. The ‘best’ part of my job is finding interesting, and often, unique wines that deliver more than you expect. I am actively travelling to seek out new gems”.
David is joined by three accomplished wine professionals, Alex Hamilton in Toronto, John Kent in Waterloo, and Aaron Shaw in Ottawa, the latter a former winner of Tony Aspler’s “Ontario’s Best Professional Blind Taster” award.
Vintage Trade has a thoroughly global view of the wine world – with representation in this offering from Italy, Australia, Austria, New Zealand and France. So I was very curious to have this opportunity to sit down with John Szabo, Steve Thurlow and Michael Godel at WineAlign, to taste some of the portfolio Vintage Trade is offering to Ontario licensees and consumers.
As usual with this Buy the Case feature – when discussing wines only available by the case – we offer some thoughts on how you might consider using the wines you purchase.
Rabl 2015 Grüner Veltliner Spiegel, Kamptal, Austria ($17.95)
David Lawrason – This fine young gruner veltliner has some delicacy yet excellent tension, with classic grüner white pepper, lemon blossom and waxy notes, with some pear fruit. Certainly a fine summer wine (this summer or next). Moderately priced to pour by the glass, from a highly reputed Austrian producer. Move customers and friends up and over from pinot grigio.
John Szabo – 2015 is turning out to be a very appealing vintage in central Europe, and Austria has turned out some lovely, ripe and immediately friendly gruner, such as this one from Rudi Rabl, a perennial favourite in the Vintage Trade portfolio. It offers plenty of fleshy, ripe but fresh orchard fruit, Asian pear, spiced apple and nectarine, with crunchy acids and length very good. This would make a terrific house pour this summer.
Michael Godel – Rabl’s Spiegel is so young and fresh it pops and spins in grüner veltliner mineral centrifuge, easily and clearly speaking in the classic nature of the variety. It’s time to go grüner on the patio, dock or any space in the afternoon sun. House Wine.
Steve Thurlow – Spiegel grüner is dry and quite rich with zesty lemony acidity and, as usual, it’s good value for money.
Feudo Disisa 2015 Grillo, Sicilia ($19.95)
Steve Thurlow – Grillo is in my opinion the finest of Sicily’s many indigenous white grapes and this is an excellent unoaked example. Expect fine aromas of pear, melon and pineapple fruit with floral and ginger spice notes. The palate is very smooth with the fruit well balanced by firm vibrant acidity. Long lingering fruity dry finish. Excellent length. Try with baked salmon or roast veal.
David Lawrason – This fine grillo has aromas mindful of fresh fig, even banana peel, with hints of exotic elderflower and anise. It’s medium weight, dry, yet fleshy with pleasant grapefruit bitterness and stoniness on the finish. Very nicely balanced with excellent focus and length. Worth exploring by the case and sharing a few with friends. although you might decide to keep it all for yourself.
Giusti Prosecco Rosalia, Veneto, Italy ($14.95)
Michael Godel – Really lively Prosecco to sip alone, by mimosa or in a fraises. Can’t think of any reason not to pour it whenever bubbles are required. Restaurant pour by the glass.
David Lawrason – A decent Prosecco at the price in a category where qualitative differences are measured by a hair’s breadth. Chill and dispense liberally at large functions.
Middle Earth 2015 Sauvignon Blanc, Nelson, New Zealand ($18.95)
David Lawrason – This is a crisp, compact Nelson sauvignon blanc – not as intense and brash as many from neighbouring Marlborough, and leaning green with aromas of green pepper/asparagus, green apple and a slightly earthy note. It’s bright, lively and fresh with a touch of rounding sweetness. Another by the glass summer selection. Nelson, by the way, may not be technically Middle Earth in the Tolkien-esque sense, but it is the middle geographic point of New Zealand.
Rust en Vrede 2012 Estate, Stellenbosch, South Africa ($59.95)
David Lawrason – My highest scoring wine (93) from the Vintage Trade collection is from a classic Stellenbosch estate. It’s medium-full, slender and with riveting acidity and structure, plus excellent to outstanding length. A bargain for those who normally spend way more on classic Bordeaux style reds.
John Szabo – Cape classic Rust en Vrede crafts fine traditional wines, and this 2012 estate cabernet-shiraz blend, with a splash of merlot, is a classy beauty. The nose is chalk-full of ripe but fresh dark fruit and spice, integrated, high-quality barrel notes, and the first signs of mature, bottling ageing, savoury aromatics. This expands impressively on the back end, and complexity is already solid, and will only get better. Try after 2018 for a fully evolved and complex expression; well worth the premium price.
Steve Thurlow – This is a beautiful red blend from one of the Cape’s top estates. It is classically styled and like many South African wines sits between old and new world. The palate is smooth and rich and very even with a beautiful structure to the fruit. It is very harmonious and very elegant with excellent length.
Michael Godel – A big, hearty and beefy mess of an iron-rich cabernet sauvignon and syrah dominated red blend, massive and balanced. It can be done, especially when Stellenbosch is rendered in such a clean way. Will drink in perpetuity. I’d be happy to open this and reminisce in 2027. Cellaring Wine.
Giusti 2014 Antonio, Veneto, Italy ($39.95)
John Szabo – The most impressive wine in the Giusti portfolio, this is a polished, stylish, modern Venetian red blend of cabernet sauvignon, merlot, cabernet franc and little-known local variety recantina. It’s more elegance than power, with fine-grained tannins and lovely crisp acids. This is fine wine, not yet at peak; in 2-4 years this will be very seductive I’m sure.
David Lawrason – Here’s an unusual, delicious and well structured red for the esoteric Italian wine list or collector’s cellar. Quite lovely, with lifted floral plummy, berry aromas – quite floral actually. It’s medium weight, fresh and lively but also shows some elegance and restraint.
Steve Thurlow – This is a delicious full-bodied red still very youthful with the oak not yet well integrated on nose and palate. The palate is well balanced with firm acidity and mature tannin. Very good to excellent length.
Chateau de la Charriere 2013 Santenay 1er Cru “Les Gravieres”, Burgundy, France ($51.95)
Michael Godel – Les Gravieres has always been for me a Santenay climat that gives generously, of sweet red fruit and the balancing underlay of earth. It also does so with organza texture and litheness. Charriere’s 2014 matches that ideal. This is fine and exemplary Gravieres with five healthy years ahead. Gifting Wines of Six Packs – please.
David Lawrason – We so seldom see Santenay – the more moderately priced yet serious pinot from the southern end of the Cote de Beaune. Collectors might want to grab a case, and split – or not. This mid-weight pinot nicely combines the elegance of fine Beaune red with the somewhat chunkier character expected of Santenay. The length is excellent. Approachable now, should hold through 2022.
Bibi Graetz NV Casamatta Rosso, Tuscany, Italy ($17.95)
John Szabo – An intriguing, ‘solera’ style red blend where younger wine is blended with older wine to develop complexity and smooth out vintage variation. This is not your average sub-$20 new Tuscan release to be sure, but rather one for fans of mature, savoury pleasantly rustic reds. Tannins are light and dusty, and this would best be served at the table with some salty protein, salami and the like. An idiosyncratic wine perhaps, but elegant and highly appealing, not to mention fine value.
Zorzal Terroir Unico Malbec, Gualtallary, Uco Valley, Argentina ($17.95)
David Lawrason – Grown in one the highest sites in Mendoza this young malbec has a lovely, lifted, almost floral nose with mulberry jam, some fresh sage/thyme and vaguely earthy notes. It is medium-full bodied, with great energy, acidity and life. A little extra lift here in a category than can be too heavy-handed. By the glass in a steakhouse or BBQ restaurant.
Hamelin Bay 2012 Rampant Red, Margaret River, Australia ($22.95)
David Lawrason – This is an easy going blend of shiraz, merlot and cabernet from a WA property dating back to 1992. A bit pricey but it’s has generous, slightly candied Aussie blackcurrant, menthol/eucalyptus, black pepper and oak spice. It’s mid-weight, loosely structured and tannins are quite soft. By the glass and BBQ red, lightly chilled.
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 Vintage Trade. WineAlign critics have independently recommended the above wines based on reviews that are posted on WineAlign as part of this sponsored tasting. Vintage Trade has provided the following agency profile.
About Vintage Trade
Vintage Trade is a small yet passionate team of wine professionals who meet the highest service standards. We represent well researched boutique wines that offer value, winemaking excellence, and exceptional vineyard quality and management.
Vintage Trade has been working with the liquor board, private consumers and the hospitality industry for 15 years, taking pride in offering exclusive wines from exceptionally dedicated vintners and actively traveling to seek new “gems”.
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