Buyers Guide to VINTAGES – July 7th, 2018

Red Dusk, plus More Good News for Canadian Wine
By David Lawrason, with notes from John Szabo, Michael Godel and Sara d’Amato

David Lawrason

David Lawrason

VINTAGES is featuring Mediterranean wines in this Saturday’s release, as if we need a heat reminder. I was actually in touch earlier this week with Sara d’Amato who takes an annual family vacation in the south of France in July. She said it was sweltering in the Mediterranean too.

Under such conditions I gravitate to drinking white, rosé and lager, but there is something to be said for lightly chilled reds as well, especially late in the evening as the sun sets over the dock, deck or garden. I just love the balmy temperatures between 8 and 10pm on days like this. A lot of good wine is being enjoyed at dusk, so for this week my red picks tend to be in the lighter, more chillable camp.

We will move to our recommendations in a moment, but first, while still feeling the afterglow of Canada Day, there is a good news story for the grape growers and wine industry in Canada.

On Wednesday, Federal Minister of Agriculture Laurence MacAulay announced $8.4 million in funding for grape growing research in Canada. A total of 23 activities will be benefit from the funding but a press release from the Canadian Grapevine Certification Network said one of the major objectives was “strategic management of grape vine diseases.”

There are two pieces of good news in this, aside from the money flowing into the industry. One is that there is something called the Canadian Grapevine Certification Network. Who knew? It will oversee the work of another new entity called The Canadian Grape and Wine Science Cluster. (Cluster is aptly cute, don’t you think?)

It’s stated goal is “to protect the Canadian grape and wine industry from the spread of economically devastating diseases and viruses by ensuring a sustainable supply of certified propagative grapevine material.” It also conducts “research into cold hardiness and sustainable management of soil, water and crop quality, to improve the quality of Canadian wines.”

Closson Chase Vineyard Chardonnay 2016

The other piece of good news is that the Canadian Grape and Wine Science Cluster is a coalition of grape growing and research organizations in the country’s four main grape growing provinces; British Columbia, Ontario, Quebec and Nova Scotia.

“This is the first time the four grape growing provinces have joined forces,” said Hans Buchler, Chair of the Canadian Grapevine Certification Network. The CGCN will co-ordinate and build on the research already being done in each of the four jurisdictions.

Brock University’s Cool Climate Oenology and Viticulture Institute (CCOVI) will lead the research in Ontario and will be involved in additional research across the country, said CCOVI Director Debbie Inglis.

It is heartening to see this kind of inter-provincial collaboration at the industry level. Vine material is easily transferred from province to province, and protecting it is fundamental to the $9 billion industry. Wouldn’t it be great if the politicians in each province could get together to ensure healthy inter-provincial distribution of the wines these vines produce? That too is fundamental.

Buyers Guide to VINTAGES July 7th

In case you missed them, our two previous VINTAGES previews talked a lot more about Canadian wine, including picks from the upcoming International Cool Climate Chardonnay Celebration. This time we head across the seas to find our recommendations.

The Whites

Loimer 2016 Grüner Veltliner, Kamptal, Austria ($22.95)
John Szabo – A reliably excellent wine/value from biodynamic producer Fred Loimer, the 2016 is open and fragrant, ripe yet properly peppery and green, with a fine mix of citrus and sweet herbs. The palate is crisp, dry, tightly wound and sharp in the right way. Enjoy now or hold short term. Best 2018-2022.
David Lawrason – This is a lively, mid-weight, almost spritzed young gruner with fairly ripe peach, mild pepper and honey on the nose. It is medium weight, fairly fleshy yet slightly piquant and sour-edged on the palate as well. Good fruit ripeness and depth here. Chill very well, but not stone cold.

Mas Des Bressades 2017 Cuvée Tradition Blanc, Costières de Nîmes, Rhône, France ($17.95)
John Szabo – A pleasantly mid-weight, round and fleshy, typical Mediterranean white (grenache blanc, marsanne, roussanne and viognier), with gentle acids. I like the sweet herb-tarragon character and the gentle white-fleshed fruit.
Sara d’Amato – A fragrant, unwooded white blend based on roussanne and grenache blanc with smaller portions of marsanne and viognier in the mix. Rather exotic and mouthfilling but balanced by freshness. A widely appealing white that is a versatile match for most of what comes off the barbecue but best with shrimp kabobs and pesto-laced summer salads.

Loimer Grüner Veltliner 2016Mas Des Bressades Cuvée Tradition 2017Domaine Chevallier Chablis 2016

Domaine Chevallier Chablis 2016, Bourgogne, France ($26.95)
Michael Godel – Straightshooter this frank and direct Chablis, bright of perfected acidity and posterizing for the category. One of the first 16s to grace the market it’s exemplary and stands tall for a category of wines that won’t have much to say, but when it does the quality will run high. This is a steal let me tell you because with scarcity of Premier Cru on the horizon you are warned to take advantage of this kind of quality at this gifting price.

Maculan 2016 Pinot Grigio, Veneto, Italy ($15.95)
David Lawrason – Great value here from one of the top white winemakers of northern Italy. It is light on its feet, fresh and so well balanced with quite complex aromas of pear, honeysuckle and almond. A little bit soft but there is a sense of minerality that stands in and delivers quality on the finish.

Maculan Pinot Grigio 2016Marcel Cabelier Chardonnay Vieilles Vignes 2014

Marcel Cabelier 2014 Chardonnay Vieilles Vignes, Jura, France ($19.95)
Michael Godel – Vines twenty-five years of age and up bring a proper and value added depth to chardonnay from the Jura with its very own bits of idiosyncratic behaviour. The ouillé style adds a very specific kind of oxidative citrus tartness and its just lovely, if quite possibly amazing. It really does speak of sharp apple fruit and lemons but only in theme or scheme, not definably obvious, but also unavoidable.

Chillable Reds

Paper Road 2016 Pinot Noir, Wairarapa, New Zealand ($26.95)
David Lawrason – This is nicely fresh, ripe pinot with well interplayed cherry, vanilla, smoke and spice – very typical of New Zealand pinot. It is medium weight, balanced, a bit fleshy and fruity on the palate, with some warmth. Just so enjoyable and tasty. Will down with ease – fair warning to consider two bottles if being shared by more than three people.
Michael Godel – Paper Road is perfectly taut and fruity North Island pinot noir open for business to add another feather in the Wairarapa cap. The Gladstone fruit from this clime and stony, alluvial soils is so well-toned and timed for interaction with acids and mild but sweet tannins. Cool climate, warm growing season, tons of fruit. Simply one of the best values anywhere in the pinot noir diaspora.

Paper Road Pinot Noir 2016Hamilton Russel Vineyard Pinot Noir 2017Jules Côtes De Provence 2014

Hamilton Russell 2017 Pinot Noir, Hemel-en-Aarde Valley, Walker Bay, South Africa ($58.95)
David Lawrason – This is a very smart, firm and tense pinot noir. So well balanced. The nose shows perfectly ripened cherry/raspberry fruit with subtle fresh mint/herbs, tidy oak toast and spice. It is medium weight, firm and nicely tannic, with excellent length. Put it in the cellar for a couple of years.

Marchand-Tawse 2014 Côtes de Nuits-Villages, Burgundy, France ($41.95)
David Lawrason – This is a very pretty, firm and juicy young pinot noir that captures the dark fruited/currant essence of the Cote de Nuits very nicely. It is not powerful, complex or deep but it has that essential Burgundy tension and balance. It is light to mid-weight, tart-edged and a touch stony on the palate, with fine acidity and tannin.

Monte del Frá 2016 Bardolino, Veneto, Italy ($15.95)
David Lawrason – This great little value continues a long tradition of over-delivering within the context of its lighter style. It is an un-oaked corvina-based blend from the slopes above Lago di Garda, and it brims with cran-blueberry fruit, pepper and vaguely meaty notes. It is light to mid-weight, fresh as a new day, slightly tangy and juicy. The finish is surprisingly long given the style.

Marchand Tawse Côtes De Nuits Villages 2014Monte Del Frá Bardolino 2016

Domaine d’Albas 2015 Rouge, Minervois, Languedoc, France ($15.95)
David Lawrason – This is a good value, mainstream, modern southern French red based on syrah, grenache and mourvedre. It is medium-full bodied, rounded and fresh with plummy fruit, violet florality and a touch of pepper. Drinks easily with good fruit in this ripe vintage. Chill a little.

Richer Reds

Leeuwin 2013 Prelude Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot, Margaret River, Western Australia ($32.95)
David Lawrason – Leeuwin is one of the founding estates of Margaret River, a now famous cabernet-merlot region that mimics Bordeaux on the other side of the world. This is a delicious, rich yet compact red brimming with currant fruit, meatiness, herbaceousness/mint and well sewn oak. This is a complex, deep yet lively, edgy and intense wine that performs above its price.
Michael Godel – The perfect storm hovers above this tasting; Leeuwin Estate, cabernet sauvignon from Margaret River and a price tag of $33 dollars. The balance forged by fruit, acidity and a force of invisible tannin structures this wine towards such an established credibility that is almost indivisible. The length is forever so that one sip accounts for so much, but the juicy nature begs for repetition so back you go for more. In the end, again and again there is this Margaret River savour that’s rooted in red fruit and silent earthy accord.

Leeuwin Prelude Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot 2013Jules Côtes De Provence 2014Antica Hirpinia Taurasi 2010

Jules 2014 Côtes de Provence, Provence, France

Sara d’Amato – Only about 10% of wine that comes out of Provence now is red due to the fierce demand for local pink. While cabernet sauvignon is on the rise, its production is still quite limited compared to other red grape varieties of the region such as grenache, syrah, cinsault and mourvèdre. More and more, carefully produced, substantial cabernet-based reds are worth some attention such as this incarnation from Jules made up of 90% cabernet sauvignon and 10% syrah. Really great value here in this ageworthy and beautifully balanced Côtes de Provence.

Antica Hirpinia 2010 Taurasi, DOCG Campania, Italy ($36.95)
John Szabo – Here’s a beautifully mature(ing) Taurasi, full of wild violet and hibiscus – beguilingly perfumed – also with plenty of dark fruit, earth, burnt rubber, hot rocks and more, a wild aromatic ride. It’s full, savoury, firm but not hard, with excellent length, drinking really well now, and with complexity that would make many a Brunello or Barolo shy. A great gateway into the excellent wines of the appellation, cellared for you, at a very fair price. Best 2018-2025.

Planeta 2012 Noto Nero d’Avola, Noto, Sicily, Italy ($27.95)
John Szabo – Notably mature at this stage, Planeta’s nero from Noto is earthy and umami-driven, offering dried mushroom and raisined fruit character, a range of intriguing flavours to be sure. Still lightly dusty and grippy, with balanced-firm acids, there’s an appealing rusticity here; drink with some equally rustic, salty protein, perhaps some simple herb-inflected lamb chops on the wood-fired grill.
Sara d’Amato – Noto, the southern portion of the eastern Sicilian province of Siracusa, is known for small production nero d’avola that is a rare find on our side of the pond. Known for its dry heat and white calcareous soils, nero d’avola is at is most aromatic in Noto, a belief firmly held by Planeta who started a movement to re-invest in the region in the late 90s. Salty, spicy with a compelling tapestry of dark fruit flavours, this effortlessly appealing read is ready to drink now.

Planeta Noto Nero d'Avola 2012Adegamãe Dory Red 2015

Adegamãe 2015 Dory Red, Lisboa, Portugal ($15.95)
David Lawrason – This is a great buy in delicious, drinking red that has just enough structure to be serious and noteworthy. It blends Portugal’s touriga nacional (florals, red plums) with syrah (olive, smoked meat) and other varieties. It is medium weight, fairly fleshy, and open knit – almost with a hint of sweetness. Yet it battens down on the finish.

And that is a wrap for this week. If you are out there enjoying the summer doldrums, carry on.

David Lawrason
VP of Wine

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.

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

New Release and VINTAGES Preview

WineAlign Exchange