John Szabo’s VINTAGES Preview – March 18th, 2017

Tasting Ontario and Miscellaneous Best Buys
By John Szabo, MS, with notes from David Lawrason

Last week the annual Taste Ontario event saw a record number of wineries participate, closing in on 50 out of the province’s 165 or so (including fruit wineries). But virtually all of the top names were in attendance pouring current releases, mostly from the latest trilogy of strong vintages, 2014-15-16, giving a comprehensive snapshot of the province’s wine industry. In a special report to be published tomorrow, the WineAlign crü share their top new releases.

The VINTAGES March 18 theme of Premium California was amply covered last week, so this week David and I offer up some top smart buys, with a heavy lean to the old world. And in other news, congratulations to Emily Pearce-Bibona, crowned CAPS Best Ontario Sommelier 2017 last week. See competition details and results here.

Best Ontario Sommelier Competition 2017 - Winners and Judges

March 18th Buyers’ Guide:


Château La Nerthe 2013 Châteauneuf-du-Pape AC Rhône ($52.95)
John Szabo – A generously proportioned, complex and spicy wine, fullish but balanced, vibrant and zesty, with a certain measure of finesse and elegance, a rarity in this appellation. Length and depth are terrific. This will turnout to be a classic vintage for La Nerthe – one for classicists and hedonists alike, with genuine depth and complexity. Drink or better yet hold into the late 20s.

Château La Nerthe Châteauneuf Du Pape 2013Cara Nord 2014 Red

Cara Nord 2014 Red, DO Conca de Barberà Catalonia, Spain ($18.95)
John Szabo – A spicy, light, fresh and herbal blend of garnacha-syrah-garrut from this coastal region near Barcelona. I like the lightness of being, the lively acids, the leanness and cut. With a bit of charcuterie and a light chill, this would be a treat. Best 2017-2022.

Borgo Scopeto 2013 Chianti Classico, Tuscany, Italy ($18.95)
David Lawrason – Great value in a quite elegant, supple and balanced Chianti for sipping or lighter meals. Very pretty aromas of currant/strawberry jam, sandalwood and gentle spice. It is balanced, nicely dry and warming.

Borgo Scopeto Chianti Classico 2013Stellenrust Peppergrinder's Shiraz 2012

Stellenrust 2012 Peppergrinder’s Shiraz, Stellenbosch, South Africa ($19.95)
David Lawrason – The maturing leathery, peppery, dried meat nose, with olive, fresh herbs and the Cape’s ferrous minerality may not hit all tastes, but this is very complex, well structured and deep, especially for $20.

Sparkling and White

Pierre Gimonnet 2009 Cuvée Fleuron 1er Cru Blanc de Blancs Brut Champagne AC ($72.95)
John Szabo – A beautifully toasty and mature champagne with classic Blanc de Blancs flavours of almonds and white chocolate alongside bright citrus. The palate is seamlessly integrated with exceptional length, complexity and depth. Superb value in a vintage BdeB to be sure.

Pierre Gimonnet Cuvée Fleuron 1er Cru Blanc De Blancs Brut Champagne 2009Loosen Bros. Dr. L. Sparkling Riesling

Loosen Bros. Nv Dr. L. Sparkling Riesling, Germany ($14.95)
John Szabo – Here’s a fine sparkling value in the charmat method, crisp, essentially dry, very fruity-floral and varietally correct. Perfectly sippable.

Le Fils Des Gras Moutons 2015 Muscadet Sèvre-Et-Maine Sur Lie, AC Loire, France ($14.95)
John Szabo – Firm, lean, sharp and tart, not to mention very stony and oyster shell flavoured, this is, in other words, textbook Muscadet. It’s like spring rain on a piece of granite. For shellfish, or sipping.

Eradus 2015 Sauvignon Blanc, Awatere Valley, Marlborough New Zealand ($18.95)
David Lawrason – A sauvignon for sauvignon lovers, with herbal fresh dill, celery, pea  shoot and cucumber aromas and flavours typical of the cooler Awatere. It’s sleek, juicy and sour-edged with excellent persistence and length. Tasted March 2017

Le Fils Des Gras Moutons Muscadet Sèvre Et Maine Sur Lie 2015Eradus Sauvignon Blanc 2015Le G De Château Guiraud 2015

Château Guiraud 2015 Le G, AC Bordeaux ($27.95)
John Szabo – Abundantly aromatic, with effusive sweet herbs and tropical fruit wafting off the top, the dry white of Guiraud (the equivalent to Yquem’s “Y”), is a fullish, fresh, honeydew melon, pears-in-syrup, maraschino cherry, Delmonte fruit cup-flavoured wine. Sauvignon has clearly ripened to a very high degree, tempered with well-integrated oak flavours, and intensity is high. Very good length and depth. A top notch effort, and well priced. Best 2017-2022.

That’s all for this report. See you over the next bottle.


John Szabo, MS

Use these quick links for access to all of our Top Picks in the New Release. Non-Premium members can select from all release dates 30 days prior.

Szabo’s Smart Buys
Lawrason’s Take
Sara’s Sommelier Selections
Michael’s Mix

New Release and VINTAGES Preview


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