John Szabo’s VINTAGES Preview – May 26th, 2018

Man-made wines; And the Best Sommelier in the Americas is…
By John Szabo, MS, with notes by Sara d’Amato and Michael Godel

John Szabo, MS

John Szabo, MS

Following last week’s assessment of women in the wine business by Sara, and a collection of excellent wines that happen to be made by women, this week we’ll cover the best of the rest, “man-made” wines from the May 26th release. And, do you like drama? Stories of triumph and defeat? Watching other people test themselves to the limit of their abilities from the comfort of your armchair? Tune in this afternoon to watch the finals of the ASI & APAS Contest of the Best Sommelier of the Americas live from Montreal. (Thursday May 24th 3PM – 6 PM EST). At the time of writing, Canada’s top two sommeliers, Carl Villeneuve-Lepage and Pier-Alexis Soulière, MS, are still in the hunt along with competitors from Mexico, Argentina, Peru and Brazil. At this level, it comes down to the tiny details.

Give Men a Chance
I have to say that most of my top picks from the May 26th release were already included last week. I made no conscious effort to single out these wines. In fact, I was tasting through the release without knowing the main thematic. It’s simply how the chips fell. It’s sad that women still need to be singled out in such a way, as though their efforts wouldn’t be recognized without an artificial distinction like this. I guess it shows how backwards and unbalanced the wine industry still is, or at least perceived. In any case, give the men a chance this week – they can occasionally pull off some drinkable stuff, too.

Errazuriz Aconcagua Alto Carmenère 2015

Buyers Guide to VINTAGES May 26th:

Man Made Wines

Studert-Prüm 2016 Maxiominhof Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Kabinett, Mosel, Germany ($25.95)
John Szabo – From a leading estate in the Mosel, and easily one of the region’s grand cru sites, this 2016 Kabinett delivers lovely fresh aromatics in the classic ripe peach-nectarine-apple spectrum with more than a dash of florality and wet stone. The palate is off-dry but tightly delineated and fresh, finishing on acidulated notes, giving it a dry overall palate impression. Juicy, succulent, lovely. Best after 2019, although tasty now. 

Studert Prüm Maxiominhof Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Kabinett 2016The Doctors' Rosé 2017

The Doctors’ Rosé 2017 Marlborough, South Island ($19.95)
John Szabo – A relatively new addition to John Forrest’s range of naturally low-alcohol wines, this rosé, composed of pinot noir with 30% arneis, is perfectly delightful and flavourful at just 9.5% alcohol, virtually indistinguishable from any other good rosé. Arneis, Forrest tells me, ripens early at low sugar in his Marlborough vineyards, making it a useful blending partner for this cuvée. I like the sharp red fruit flavours, the gentle floral character from the arneis, and the crispy-crunchy acids. Kudos to Forrest for breaking the code on how to produce low alcohol wines without resorting to technology in the winery – just meticulous, carefully timed vineyard management. A model to follow (though he won’t reveal all of his secrets). Forget the low alcohol angle and just enjoy a bottle at lunch.
Michael Godel – The Doctor’s Rosé brings a bit of complexity to 2017 with some fine washed rind cheese/Loire-ish sweet funk on top of already sweet, salty, fine and sapid red fruit. It’s a potential foil for so much varied cuisine.

Fielding Rosé 2017, VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario ($15.95)
Michael Godel – Fielding’s latest Rosé is not only unlike the others but also unrecognizable from itself. The sweetness is different, almost late harvest so perhaps Richie Roberts has taken a turn by adding a twist of minor experimentation. No compromise to sapidity or energy is noted. It really works.

Fielding Rosé 2017Westcott Vineyards 2014 Temperance Red Blend 2016

Westcott Vineyards 2016 Temperance Red Blend, Vinemount Ridge, Ontario, Canada ($19.95)
Sara d’Amato Here is another airy summer red based on a southern Burgundian tradition of passe-tout-grains blending gamay and pinot noir. Juicy with pure varietal character expressed and notable fruit spice. Serve with a slight chill to highlight the wine’s verve.

Marrenon Versant Nord Luberon 2015, Rhône, France ($15.95)
Sara d’Amato One of the most southern regions of the Rhône Valley, the Luberon is home to rocky, Provençal landscapes on which are perched Medieval villages and Renaissance remnants. The region is more prolific with rosé than with red but this example is quite typical of the local style. A blend of 80% syrah and 20% grenache from north facing sites. Low temperature fermentation helps preserve the aromatic character which are generous and exuberant. Lovely floral notes compliment the authentic blackberry and black currant fruit all of which are cut by freshness on the palate.

Isole E Olena Chianti Classico 2014, Tuscany, Italy ($31.95)
Michael Godel – The unflappable and erudite Barberino Val d’Elsa winemaker Paolo de Marchi has always held a soft spot for syrah which in his mind was about blending in an earlier ripening variety with sangiovese, for colour and for pleasure. The challenge of 2014 is no adversarial animal for this CC, in fact it embraces the savour to not only handle it, but to wrap it up in a loving embrace. No one owns the pure vintage Chianti Classico like Isole e Olena and it is just now coming into its own.

Marrenon Versant Nord Luberon 2015Isole E Olena Chianti Classico 2014Marchesi Di Barolo Sarmassa Barolo 2013

Marchesi Di Barolo Sarmassa Barolo 2013, Piedmont, Italy ($77.95)
Michael Godel – Through five years to post harvest the Sarmassa is yet unrelenting, so richly wound and intertwined. Structure is the name of this Cru’s Barolo game and in the ways of nebbiolo knowhow there will be five years ahead easy before any notable change. Acidity is strong and tannins stronger so forget about the roses for the time being. Charm and beauty are reserved for the next decade.

Camporeale Aglianico 2016, Campania, Italy ($13.95)
Sara d’Amato One of the top values of this release, this bright, ethereal and peppery aglianico offers a wealth of botanical spice and sea breezy aromatics. Perfectly balanced ripeness with delicious flavours of licorice and red fruit. Chill slightly to enhance the wine’s naturally refreshing quality.

Camporeale Aglianico 2016Château Brown 2010Mr. Riggs The Magnet Generation Series Grenache 2015

Château Brown 2010 AC Pessac-Léognan, Bordeaux ($66.95)
John Szabo – Maturing nicely now, with warm stone/baked brick, earth, leather and cigar box spice, this is classic Péssac-Léognan through and through. The palate is dense and rich, structured and concentrated, a real genuine mouthful at a very high quality level. Great length. Really classy stuff. Drinking now or hold another 10-15 years. Tasted May 2018. 2018 2030

Mr. Riggs The Magnet Generation Series Grenache 2015, Mclaren Vale, South Australia ($25.95)
Michael Godel – From a parcel of land where century grenache vines have lived The Magnet is a grenache of juice and just enough accompanying structure to keep it thriving and grooving along. The Magnet attracts as it should, with smoke and pepper, faint chocolate and great warmth. The bottle is in fact much heavier than the wine.

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

John Szabo, MS

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

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