Buyers Guide to VINTAGES – Nov 11th, 2017

Climate change, a strong new world contingent, Canadian gold, and a California wildfire fundraiser

By Michael Godel with notes from David Lawrason

Michael Godel

Michael Godel

The WineAlign team have been on the road of late and while that’s not exactly shocking news to our readers we do have all sorts of news to report on, from across the country and abroad. David has once again been travelling from coast to coast with Gold Medal Plates, the vinous and culinary roadshow founded in 2003. It is a Canadian institution. The primary goal of the GMP galas are to “celebrate Canadian excellence in food, wine, athletic achievement and entertainment.” The tour makes stops in 11 Canadian cities and raises funds for the Canadian Olympic Foundation to support Olympic athletes. Net proceeds are donated to support high performance programs such as Own The Podium. On November 16th David brings GMP to Toronto. The night will be a host to athletes, 800 guests and wondrous culinary creations by 10 sacrosanct chefs. Sara, John and I will be judging with David while spending the evening with Canadian Olympic medallists and recording artists. The once a year fundraiser is a chance to taste and judge the sagacious efforts by some of Ontario’s most venerated winemakers.

On a much more sobering note we continue to think about our neighbours in California and all they have struggled through as a result of the mass sweeping fires through wine country, towns and cities in the northern parts of the state. A very important fundraiser will be held on December 4th at the Liberty Grand Entertainment Complex in Toronto from 6:00-9:00pm. This incredible evening is in support of our industry friends and colleagues who have lost their homes, lives, businesses and properties as a result of the California Wildfires. The industry has banded together and says the California Wine Institute’s Paula Oreskovich, “we are going to put on ONE INCREDIBLE CALIFORNIA EVENT!!” Are you kidding me Paula!

California Wildfire Grand Tasting Fundraiser

No, she is not. Paula is very serious about helping California rebuild, The California Wildfire Grand Tasting Fundraiser will be an all-inclusive, walk around wine tasting event where wine lovers have an elite opportunity to sample premium and super-premium wines from the Golden State. The California wildfires have had a devastating impact on the communities in the beautiful North Coast wine region, affecting many of our industry friends and colleagues. All of us watched the natural disaster unfolding with great shock and sadness.  Many in the industry have been impacted by the fires through loss of lives, homes, businesses and personal property. As Northern California rebuilds, and community efforts and support flow in through donations and volunteering, we are reminded of the determination and resiliency of Golden State wine country. There are several fund-raising projects already underway in the U.S. However, we in Canada want to help and support the overall efforts to assist residents recovering from the most devastating wildfires in the state’s history. For information please click here.

In September and October John and I made two Italian pilgrimages, first to Tuscany and then to the vineyard planted shores of Lago di Gardo in northern Italy. I have spent quite a bit of time in Chianti Classico over the past two years and the occupation of study, investigation and discovery into the intricacies and multiplicities of the region’s sangiovese prepossess a lifelong infatuation. If the cumulative is a factor of compulsive obsession so be it and while decades of learning are left to attack, I feel like I’m getting closer to the varietal truth. Look for all 2019 bottles labeled Chianti Classico Gran Selezione to be filled with juice that is 100 per cent sangiovese. You heard it here. Around Lago di Garda we were immersed into the world of corvina and the Veneto wines it makes, in Rosato (called Chiaretto) and the reds of Bardolino. Look for reports on these regions in the coming weeks. Back in July I dove into barbera with the wines of Barbera D’Asti Del Monferrato E Nizza Monferrato. For my report on that please travel over to this WineAlign page, here.

As for this coming Saturday’s VINTAGES release, with John having covered Old World wines it’s now time to flip continents and hemispheres to concentrate on New World wines. Speaking of climate change, it is both curious and disturbing what these past eight months have delivered around the world. Hurricanes and wildfires have ravaged the southern, eastern and western parts of the United States and the Caribbean, but also British Columbia on our own west coast. In many wine regions of western Europe a dry winter was followed by a spring frost and scorching summer temperatures. Quantities are drastically down in 2017 and in areas where no rain relief occurred in September the harvest is a disaster. Here in Ontario we had an unseasonably cool and wet summer followed by well, summer in September and October. Ask any farmer, in Chianti Classico, Bardolino, Monferrato or Ontario and you will be told the same thing again and again. Climate change is the new global warming and it is very, very real.

With our minds in such a state of California preoccupation there can be no surprise that many of our New World recommendations come from this impressively strong contingent. The first VINTAGES November release is always chock full of California, from delicious purple juice to well-established, archetypal and expensive wines made by the region’s most famous heavy-hitters. With another approaching holiday season there is an expectation and a demand that these wines show up on LCBO shelves. In talking with Product Consultants you are left with no doubt. Consumers are already asking and wanting to know what day these wines will arrive.

Australia is consistently and increasingly one of the greater go to destinations for end of the calendar year, high-end (especially) reds though David’s sticky suggestion is also a perennial favourite. We explore Argentina, British Columbia and of course Ontario to round out our New World picks.

November 11th VINTAGES Buyers Guide:

Canadian Gold

Cave Spring Estate Chardonnay 2015, Cave Spring Vineyard, VQA Beamsville Bench, Niagara Escarpment ($18.95)
Michael Godel – A terrifically ripe, sweet fruit scented and fleshy vintage for Cave Spring’s estate chardonnay raises the Beamsville bar and the cool climate condition once again. Pour this for any sort of chardonnay lover anywhere in the world and they will all be duly impressed.

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Well, I for one am exhausted and ready to head out in search of some of these fine wines. David and John will be back with you for the November 25th release and until then, stay warm, stay safe and enjoy a glass.

Good to go!


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.

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

New Release and VINTAGES Preview