British Columbia Critics’ Picks September 2016
Post Labour Day Picks
I love that Rhys took the tack of skipping reds for his critics’ picks this month. White and rosé wines are perfectly acceptable post Labour Day, and highly drinkable year-round with all matter of foods. Plus, his picks set me up perfectly to recommend trios of other hues: a set of reds, fortifieds and fizz.
Cheers ~ TR
Our monthly BC Critics’ Picks is the place to find recent recommendations from our intrepid and curious BC critics – wines that cross geographical boundaries, toe traditional style lines and may push limits – without being tied to price or distribution. All are currently available for sale in BC – through BC Liquor Stores, private wine shops or direct from the wineries. Inventory is also available when linked to BCLDB stores.
Rhys Pender, MW
It might be the start of Fall and it is definitely getting cooler but it doesn’t mean we have to switch to a red wine only diet. My three picks this month are an eclectic bunch, none of them red.
The first is a true classic of the wine world. A misunderstood classic, but something that everyone should try. The McWilliam’s Mount Pleasant Elizabeth Semillon 2007, from Australia’s Hunter Valley, has been aged for you so you get to see the magic that happens to semillon with a few years in bottle. With plenty of acid and appearing as a lean, mean wine in its youth, Hunter Valley semillon miraculously evolves with time to something honeyed and complex and rich while staying zingy and crisp. And at under $30 it is great value.
Chardonnay is coming on in leaps and bounds in BC and one of the new ventures is showing that, taken seriously, BC is capable of producing top class chardonnay. CheckMate is one of the Von Mandl Family Estate projects, dedicated to just chardonnay and merlot. There are five chardonnay in the lineup and one of my top picks is the CheckMate Capture Chardonnay 2013, a nice balance of crisp freshness, complexity and richness. Not inexpensive but certainly a high quality wine.
Don’t relegate rosé just to the summer months now that the weather is cooling. It is still a delicious food wine at any time of year. You don’t stop eating charcuterie just because fall is around the corner and so why would you stop drinking the perfect wine for pairing with it? France’s Elixir Côtes De Provence 2015 is probably the best rosé I have had this year. Great drinkability with complexity and flavour intensity, it is worth the few dollars more that it costs than most rosé wines in the BC market. Thanksgiving dinner would be another perfect pairing for this one as well.
While spanning summer rays with autumn’s chill this month, pour some fizz that sits very well at any season. Lambrusco combines red-fruited grapes with lively bubbles, making for a stealth food-pairing tool. Cleto Chiarli Premium Vecchia Modena Lambrusco di Sorbara is from lambrusco sorbara, one of many varieties of the lambrusco grape. Pretty floral, light and tight, with rhubarb, fresh cranberry, subtle balsamic and pink grapefruit rind streak across this savoury, nimble light red, suited for apero hour. Lini Lambrusco Rosso 910 is darker plum in hue, with dark cherry, wild blueberries and balsamic riffing off tannins enough to tackle bigger protein, plus fresh and taut acidity to carry it off.
If Lambrusco doesn’t suit your plans, seek out the special Blue Mountain 2008 Blanc de Blancs R.D. Méthode Traditionelle. Chardonnay is whole cluster pressed before spending seven years on the lees before disgorging in March 2015. Racy, crisp and fine from tip to lingering tail, with a lick of lees to build out the corners and counter the austerity. Ample lemon and green apple is scented with biscuit and lingers with lively vibrancy on the palate.
Reds do warm, and many are well suited to the foods of fall: think wild mushrooms and roasted squash. The 2014 JoieFarm Gamay is a true charmer, with and without food. This is the brightest, freshest, most savoury JoieFarm gamay in memory. Dark cherry, herbal raspberry and plum are contained by a lithe but firm structure, more akin to Cru Beaujolais than North American gamay. #GoGamayGo.
A pair of southern France reds reminded me of tucking into roasted fowl, lentils and steak frites. Famille Perrin 2013 Rasteau L’Andéol’s dark cherry, black raspberry, and thorny florals fill this meaty red. Flirting with wildness, there is a garrigue and white pepper herbaceousness that filters throughout the fleshy palate. Scrubby Mediterranean herbs season Languedoc’s Chateau D’Angles 2012 Classique Red La Clape, from the limestone laced sloped soils of La Clape. Syrah, grenache and mourvedre were grown without chemicals and before bottling without fining or filtering. The result is a finely textured, medium bodied, bistro-rustic red, scented with plums, wild cassis and thorns.
Finally, a trio of fortifieds that will see you from the front to the finish of an evening. Manzanilla’s delicacy is evident in Hijos de Rainera Perez Marin La Guita Manzanilla, the result of the wine’s proximity to the sea. Pretty and finessed, with fine crystalline citrus, delicate white floral and a whisper of fine sea salt through the bone dry finish. Ideal with sardines on toast.
Next up in weight and hue, but still dry, El Maestro Sierra Oloroso 15 years old opens with subtle treacle notes, fine earth and boozy walnuts. Confident and slightly punchy, with roasted wood and oxidative notes leading until subtle bitter orange enters on the finish. Rustic and authentic, can stand up to meatballs, spiced potatoes bravas or smoked jamon.
Don’t let the word “cream” scare you off from Lustau Sherry Solera Reserva Deluxe Cream Capataz Andres. By definition, Cream sherry has more than 115 g/l RS, so you can be expecting a sweet, or dolce, drop here. Darker walnut in hue, caramelized brown sugar, crème brûlée and dried fig is soft, warming and hugging on the palate, welcoming pairing with nut tarts or pumpkin pie.
WineAlign in BC
In addition to our monthly Critics’ Picks report, we also publish the popular shortlist 20 Under $20, as well as the Rhys Pender’s BC Wine Report, a look at all things in the BC Wine Industry. Treve Ring pens a wandering wine column in Treve’s Travels, capturing her thoughts and tastes from the road. 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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