Buyers’ Guide to VINTAGES – Sept 17th, 2016
Gutsy Global Finds
by Sara d’Amato, with notes from David Lawrason and Michael Godel
From the Côtes-du-Rhône to the Western Cape, we bring you the best international selections of this September 17th VINTAGES release. Last week John Szabo MS highlighted outstanding wines in the Ontario feature and some of our favourites from beyond the release. This week you can expect a strong showing of sparkling wines from Spain to Champagne along with a riveting sparkler from Thirty Bench in Niagara (because we just can’t get enough of Ontario).
A surprising number of the wines in this release are audacious, bold and creative examples of stalwart wine regions. They show classic structure and flavour profiles but hail from atypical vintages like that of 2013 in Chablis or 2014 in the southern Rhône. Others are crafted by the hands of maverick winemakers such as Jeff Carrel who has become influential across Europe or, from a new generation of winemakers pushing for more sustainable wine growing such as that of Alsace’s Christian Beyer.
In other news, it is an extremely busy tasting time here in Toronto with premier trade and consumer shows just about every week. Next up on the calendar is the “Spain is Wine” event on the evening of Monday, September 19th. Over 275 wines will be poured from over 55 wineries. Tickets are selling quickly so be sure to reserve online.
Fall is also a busy time for winemakers coming to town. WineAlign is pleased to present several intimate dinner events for you over the coming months. If you are in Toronto on Oct 3rd, you can join David Lawrason as he hosts the charming Marcelo Papa from Concha y Toro at George Restaraunt. (Ticket info)
Our Top Picks from the Sept 17th VINTAGES release:
Buyers’ Guide: White, Sparkling and one of the world’s great sweet wines
Thirty Bench Sparkling Riesling, VQA Niagara Peninsula ($34.95)
Michael Godel – With some dosage provided by Thirty Bench’s stellar Steel Post vineyard, this is a sparkling riesling not to be missed. One, Garner wouldn’t waste a thimble-full of her riesling to make less than stellar sparkling wine and two, it’s really good.
Amirault Les Quarterons Crémant de Loire, Loire, France ($22.95)
Sara d’Amato – A gutsy extrovert offering impressive depth of flavour but classic structure and style. Quite dry with chalky mineral notes a light bready character and a great deal of fruit. An impressive find at this price that will give you reason to celebrate even the most trifling of occurrences.
Schiopetto 2013 Sauvignon Collio, Italy ($32.95)
David Lawrason – We routinely park pigeon-hole sauvignon as NZ, or Loire, or Bordeaux in style. This wonderfully elegant, seamless wine is something different all together. Variety ceases to matter. It is a gorgeous, aromatic white with seamless texture and flavour integration. And exotic as well.
Man Family Warrelwind 2015 Sauvignon Blanc, Western Cape ($13.95)
Michael Godel – The afrikaans warrelwind cools the vineyards and spins the windmills. The concept is not lost on what it does for high altitude sauvignon. Man Family wines is giving this semi-pun gent, fully energetic stuff away. Lots of bang for just a few bucks.
Château La Nerthe 2014 Châteauneuf-du-Pape Blanc, Rhône, France ($56.95)
Sara d’Amato – The 2014 vintage in the southern Rhône was unusually cool and thus the growing season was also longer than the norm. The resulting wines offered supple tannins but bright acidity. La Nerthe’s 2014 CND is wonderfully expressive of the well-defined wines of this vintage. Due to its impressive structure, it is a cellar-worthy find but still capable of charming now.
Antinori Castello Della Sala 2014 Cervaro Della Sala, Umbria, Italy ($57.95)
David Lawrason – This is one of the great white wines of Italy, and if seemingly too pricy it is actually a bargain compared to more expensive Burgundies, Alsatian whites of the same quality level. A rich, satiny and elegant chardonnay based wine from a high altitude site near Orvieto.
Pazo Das Bruxas 2014 Albariño, Rias Baixas, Spain ($19.95)
Michael Godel – This Torres Albarino venture into northern Spain is a fine example of electric Galicia. It may not be a revolutionary bottle but it’s as close to jazz-rock fusion Albarino as you are likely to find.
Sara d’Amato – The name “Pazo” refers to the country cottages inhabited by witches and beings of Galician folklore who would perform spells and dances with the goal of ensuring the harvest of fruit of the highest quality. This fresh and spritely albariño is grown close to the Atlantic ocean benefitting from a long and temperate growing season which allows for the preservation of a great deal of natural acidity. Under the envelope of Torres this is a wine best suited for the dinner table and is both stylish and sophisticated.
Simonnet Febvre & Fils 2013 Côte de Lechet Chablis 1er Cru, Burgundy ($42.95)
Michael Godel – Wines that deliver a sense of place or, as we like to refer to it here in Ontario as “somewhereness,” always seem to stand out. This is a striking Chablis, drawn out of an atypical vintage and from the venerable Côte de Lechet Premier Cru.
Emile Beyer 2012 l’Hostellerie Gewurztraminer, Alsace ($39.95)
Michael Godel – Like other great producers in Alsace, Beyer can pull off the impossible while simultaneously sharing a commonality with other traditionalists. This classically styled gewurztraminer is conditioned to be off-dry but the sweetness is the furthest thing from your mind. The Alsace dominion over lieux-dit, low-yield wine turns into subtle, refined Eguisheim culture from Emile Beyer. Even if gewürztraminer is your last go to white wine variety this is the one to try.
Château des Charmes 2015 Vidal Icewine, Niagara-on-the-Lake ($45.95/375ml)
David Lawrason – Here at home we tend to forget that Ontario icewine is truly one of the world’s great sweet wines. Can we please just accept it is sweet, then move on to discuss how gorgeous, layered and refined it can be. If you have forgotten let this beauty reel you back in. Such finesse with an intriguing dryness and linearity on the finish.
Buyers’ Guide: Gutsy & Characterful Reds
Les Darons by Jeff Carrel 2014, Languedoc-Roussillon, France ($17.95)
Sara d’Amato – A stylish, grenache dominant blend aged entirely in concrete vats that offers an abundance of ripe and spicy southern fruit. Jeff Carrel is a flying winemaker consulting on projects throughout Europe and is known for his big personality. His aim is focus on regional expression through his projects. His characterful Languedoc blend is truly a true demonstration of that.
Paul Jaboulet Aîné 2013 Secret de Famille Côtes-du-Rhône, Rhône, France
($16.95) (400333) Sara d’Amato – Jaboulet’s southern blend tastes more northern due to its peppery syrah flavour dominating the palate. The fruit takes center stage here, is authentic, pure and restrained by welcome acidity. Full-bodied but not overt with curbed tannins from some maturity. A sophisticated find at an easy to swallow price.
Rocca Delle Macìe Chianti Classico 2014, DOCG Tuscany ($10.95/375ml)
Michael Godel – The case for half bottles can never be overstated, especially with Chianti Classico quality in a very getable vintage and perfect for two large glasses with any pasta imaginable. The Zingarelli family Chianti Classico 2014 is as expected, classic. Hits all the appropriate and life-affirming sangiovese notes.
Viña Tarapacá 2013 Gran Reserva Carmenère, Maipo Valley, Chile ($17.95)
David Lawrason – I have flagged this wine before. It is not for everyone – a wrenching, bold and gutsy red with carmenere’s sappy evergreen notes around the cassis fruit. Could I drink a whole bottle, perhaps not. But I would sure love the energy and purity of the first glass with a rack of lamb.
Quinta de Saes 2013 Red, Dão, Portugal ($18.95)
David Lawrason – I am not highlighting this for its boldness, or elegance. It has neither. I simply want to mark the evolving charm of Portuguese reds. This is a very pretty, youthful Dao with fragrant blackcurrant, violets and pepper on the nose and palate. At a very fair price.
Heirloom 2015 The Velvet Fog Pinot Noir, Adelaide Hills, South Australia ($24.95)
David Lawrason – Always on the lookout for intriguing pinot, this is a riveting, intriguing example from a green enclave in the hills above the suburbs of eastern Adelaide. Very minty, cranberry, clove aromas are almost shocking in their intensity. Not Burgundy, not Oregon, not Niagara. All Australia.
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