Bill’s Best Bets – September 2015
September Cellier release
by Bill Zacharkiw
It’s back to school and back to tasting the monthly SAQ Cellier release for the gang at Chacun son Vin. We will be timing these emails to give you a head’s up on the best selections from these limited release wines. The SAQ has begun offering some of these wines online prior to them being released in their stores, so if you want to be sure to be get your hands on these bottles, order them online.
The September release, where the focus is on France, is one of the strongest I have tasted. It is chockfull of both bargain wines as well as a touch pricier bottles that can fill holes in your wine cellar if you need to reload. So let’s get right to it.
Bordeaux fans have no lack of choice here with a number of bottles from the very different 2009 and 2010 vintages. These are for the most part “ready to drink”, though a few show the stuffing to be able to handle some extra cellar time.
My top three were the 2010 Château Tayet for sheer power, the 2010 Château Lacombe for its balance and restraint, and the 2009 Hanteillan, which shows surprising finesse and complexity for a wine of such a hot vintage. “Feminine with a temper” is how I described it. All of these wines are under $25, so no need to spend a fortune for a very good Bordeaux.
The Southwest is well represented in this release as well. For fans of the deep and dark wines of Cahors, try either the 2009 Cuvée ‘A’ from Château Les Haut D’Aglans or the 2004 Cuvée d’Exception from Château Gautoul. Cahors typically needs some age to show what its got, and these are both primed and ready to drink.
For a white, especially if you have a cellar, the Jurancon Sec from Charles Hours, Cuvée Marie, is always a treat. While fine to drink right now, 3-5 years more of age for this 2013 is ideal. If you love whites with tension, then this is it.
Rhône fans are also well taken care of with two exceptional wines. The 2012 Saint Joseph, Parcelle de Jean from J. Boutin is like a mini-Cornas with its cassis fruit and edgy mineral note. And if you love the beefy southern Rhône wines from Rasteau, the 2012 L’Argyle Bleu from Beaurenard is a treat. Hailing from Châteauneuf-du-Pape, these boys know their grenache.
Finally from the Languedoc-Roussillon, there are also a few wines to highlight. While the region’s reputation has been steadily climbing, thankfully the prices have not, so you will still find great wines at very reasonable prices.
One of my favourite wines year in, year out is the Corbières from Domaine St-Jean de la Gineste. The 2013 is as good as any I have tasted and for me, is what “table wine” is all about – infinite drinkability.
While the Gineste wine is more delicate and with great acidity, if you want a more powerful, richer wine, go for the 2014 Mon P’tit Pithion from Olivier Pithon. Sun drenched fruit without any noticeable oak.
Some of the most structured wines in the south are made in the Minervois-La Liviniere. The 2011 Natural Selection from Château Maris shows ripe fruit with firm tannins. Drinks well now but will no doubt reward with a few more years of age.
One of the more interesting wines of the tasting was the 2011 ‘Comme Avant’ from Domaine Modat. So earthy and so rich, this Côtes du Roussillon is worth investigation, especially if you are a fan of eating wild red meats like deer.
And finally, if you want a good under $20 viognier, which is not easy to find considering the grape’s need for low yields, the 2014 from Michel Gassier honours what makes viognier such an interesting wine – nuanced fruit, minerality and a long, rich finish.
We also tasted a few under $15 wines, with a few that surprised. I’ll wait until the 20 under $20 at the end of the month to reveal my favourites.
Happy September folks,
“There’s enjoyment to be had of a glass of wine without making it a fetish.” – Frank Prial
Editors Note: You can find Bill’s complete reviews by clicking on any of the highlighted wine names or bottle images above. Premium subscribers to Chacun son vin can see the complete list of September Cellier New Releases here, and can see all critic reviews immediately. Non-paid members wait 60 days to see newly posted reviews. Premium membership has its privileges; like first access to great wines!