Sara’s Sommelier Selections – July 20, 2013
This week’s food friendly picks feature wines to survive the heat wave, a brilliant cool climate chardonnay, a barbecue worthy red and a classic Bordelaise beauty. One of a sommelier’s important jobs is to ensure that there is something for everyone on your list. Matching wine to various personalities is just as important as matching wine to food and being intuitively keyed in to your guests’ temperaments and whims, and the impressions they are trying to make. Reading people is a skill you can learn, but with many sommeliers this trait is inherent. This week’s picks should all have wide appeal and are safe choices with people of diverse tastes.
Need to impress guests from out-of-town? The following two selections are sure to persuade even the greatest skeptics that our cooler climate can produce some exceptional wines.
Tollgate Fumé Blanc 2009, Niagara Peninsula, ON $24.95
Tollgate is a subset label of Stratus, renowned for its iconic assemblage wines, producing wines from estate grown grapes, meant for immediate enjoyment. The label is intended for restaurants and is therefore priced in the sweet spot for licensee wine lists (which is considerably lower than the Stratus label). Conditions in 2009 in Niagara were cooler and favored white wines, producing this exceptionally seductive and compelling fumé style sauvignon blanc. Nicely structured and holding up surprisingly well given its age. Food pairing: California rolls
Bachelder Wismer Vineyard Chardonnay 2010, Niagara Peninsula, ON $44.95
Well worth the splurge, this quintessential cool climate chardonnay hails from one of the most celebrated sites in Niagara and is produced by one of Canada’s most respected masters of this varietal, Thomas Bachelder (formerly of Le Clos Jordanne fame). If you are unable to make it to any of the i4C (International Cool Climate Chardonnay Celebration) events taking place in Niagara all weekend long, treat yourself to this example that has the wine world abuzz. Food pairing: Crab cakes with béarnaise sauce
It’s hard to be elegant when sweating through a heat wave but the following selections can assist in this endeavor. Like a splash of cold water, these refreshing, taught, dry but charming wines are sure to improve your mood.
La Ferme Du Mont La Truffière 2011, Côtes Du Rhone, ON $15.95
La Ferme du Mont is a small winery making a big splash with critics worldwide impressing the likes of Robert Parker and Jancis Robinson. Winemaker Stéphane Vedeau recently came to Toronto to give us a taste of his supremely elegant wines which are slowly set to be released at VINTAGES/LCBO over the next year. One of the first in the lineup is this food-friendly, savory, summery white Rhone blend of roussanne, marsanne, viognier and grenache blanc. Food pairing: Almond crusted chicken
Couly Dutheil René Couly Chinon Rosé 2012, ON $15.95
My rosé pick of the week is a cabernet franc from Chinon, where this varietal is star and is featured most often on its own in all its aromatic, esoteric glory. This example however is terrifically approachable, dry and offers well above average complexity for the price. Food pairing: Orange fennel salad
For those hard and fast red wine drinkers who refuse to categorize a Beaujolais as such and crave power and substance even in the heat of summer, the following selections will be right up your alley. Here are two memorable, statement-making wines that are sure to satiate.
Château Pindefleurs 2009, Saint-Émilion Grand Cru, ON $28.85
A great wine to purchase now and keep in the cellar for a special wintery occasion. Still youthful and from a critically lauded vintage, the Pindefleurs will require some decanting at least an hour prior to drinking if enjoying now (or better yet, set a reminder for 2023 and crack it open at its peak). Modern in its style with opulent baking spice but has the fruit stuffing and impressive structure to match. Best paired with a hearty dish with some fatty protein to help curb the tannins. Food pairing: Roasted prime rib
Quinta De Ventozelo Touriga Nacional 2009, Douro, ON $19.95
If you’re looking to wow your guests but don’t want to spend a fortune, here’s the wine for you. Touriga Nacional produces high quality wines and blends in many regions throughout Portugal and is the heart and soul of Port wine. A few countries outside of Portugal, most notably in the new world, are beginning to try their hand with this varietal on small scales given its resulting high caliber wines. The Quinta De Ventozelo is consistently a terrific value with satisfying intensity and yet plenty of food pairing potential, especially in barbecue season. Food pairing: Bacon wrapped dates
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From the June 22, 2013 Vintages release: