Buyers’ Guide Part Two:  March 2nd, 2019

From Quintessential to Charismatic, Highlights from the Old World

By Sara d’Amato, with notes from David Lawrason

Sara d'Amato

Sara d’Amato

These icy times and morning views of a windswept wasteland have kept many of us in hibernation these past few weeks. Some among us have escaped such as Michael Godel and John Szabo who have been tasting their way through Tuscany. In their absence David Lawrason and I continue to find value here at home through the LCBO channels and beyond. Last week David focused on new world selections at VINTAGES in his report with an emphasis on Napa Valley so this week it is time for a closer look at the old world. From this small but consumer favourite-focused release, we have managed to find a wide range of Euro gems representing classic regions to more obscure, wow-worthy bargains.



Stags' Leap Winery Merlot 2015


Izadi 2017 Blanco, Rioja, Spain ($19.95)
Sara d’Amato – A great value white blend dominated by viura, the white star of Rioja, accompanied by malvasia, garnacha blanca and tempranillo blanco. An aromatic style that is delightfully floral and salty. The palate has weight and presence but without any notable oak flavours from the new French oak that was used. Pure and fresh, fleshy and fruity with lingering flavours of pear, peach and lemon blossom. A sophisticated find sure to spark conversation.

Hugel Gentil 2016, Ac Alsace  ($18.95)
David Lawrason – Gentil is one the better known and in my view most successful Alsatian blends. It has the weight and richness typical of Alsace, but presents freshness and fruit at the same time. Expect aromas of white flower, peach and lemon. There is a hint of sweetness but the acidity is finely attuned, creating a refreshing lemony finish.

Baron de Hoen 2017 Réserve Gewurztraminer, Alsace, France ($19.95)
Sara d’Amato – In terms of concentration and sultry appeal, this is a terrific value from the Cave de Beblenheim, the cooperative that is responsible for the Baron de Hoen label that is capable of offering notable typicity and refinement at a small price. A rich find, loaded with viscosity, notable sweetness, and abundance of lychee, ginger and rosewater, forming a cushion of comfort on the palate. Try with runny cheese or an exotic fruit cocktail.

Izadi Blanco 2017, Doca Rioja 2017  Hugel Gentil 2016, Ac Alsace 2016  Baron De Hoen Réserve Gewurztraminer 2017

Domaine du Chalet Pouilly 2016 Pouilly Fuissé, Burgundy, France ($33.95)
Sara d’Amato – A spot-on example of this richer Burgundian style, this classic incarnation from 2016 features an abundance of tender fruit along with a saltiness and a surprising note of petrol. Great complexity that feels fully unveiled on the palate. Approachable yet still with a refreshing tang on the finish. Chalky with nicely integrated wood treatment that is drinking beautifully now.

Mâcon Lugny Les Charmes 2017, Burgundy, France ($21.95)
David Lawrason – This is a softer, riper style of Macon chardonnay with pale gold colour and a soft, fairly complex nose of apple crumble, vague smoke and wet stone. It is medium weight, nicely cushy yet narrows to a dried, more mineral-driven finish. Some nuttiness as well. Works hard to deliver complexity and structure beyond its price.

Domaine Du Chalet Pouilly Pouilly Fuissé 2016  Mâcon Lugny Les Charmes 2017


Vignerons de Buxy Millebuis 2016 Mercurey Rouge, Burgundy, France ($29.95)
Sara d’Amato – Mercury is an undervalued region these days as this example from the Vigneron de Buxy Millebuis shows with clarity. This elegantly spiced pinot noir offers notes of white pepper, juniper, grape and black cherry. Light but not simple. A classy, modern style with wide appeal with a touch of stylish reductivity.

Château Des Tours Brouilly Vieilles Vignes 2016, Beaujolais, France  ($21.95)
David Lawrason – Love this Brouilly! It has a very lifted, peony florality and peppery nose with sweet cherry jam fruit aromas. Some fresh hay as well. It is medium weight, smooth, bordering on sweetness but really just richly fruited. It is quite smooth, with good acidity and fine, almost no tannin. Some minerality on the finish.

Pierre Amadieu 2015 Romane Machotte Gigondas, Rhône, France ($28.95)
Sara d’Amato – Rich, peppery and lightly reductive, there is a great deal to love about this dynamic and rather complex find for a very fair price. Juicy, spiced fruit is lifted by firm tannins. Full-bodied, powerful and yet restrained. Very good length. Best 2020-2024. Tasted February 2019.

Vignerons De Buxy Millebuis Mercurey Rouge 2016   Château Des Tours Brouilly Vieilles Vignes 2016   Pierre Amadieu Romane Machotte Gigondas 2015,

Isole e Olena 2015 Chianti Classico, Tuscany, Italy $34.95
Sara d’Amato – A bright, elegant Chianti Classico largely produced with the estate’s signature sangiovese dominance along with 15% canaiolo and 5% syrah. Notably refined with elegant, streamlined tannins. Appealing and bright with flavours of bing cherry, red apple skin and lively acidity on the nervy palate. Still quite firm. Best 2020-2024

Piazzano Colorino 2015, IGT Toscana, Italy ($35.95)
David Lawrason  – The deeply coloured colorino grape has long been a backseat blending variety to bolster often pale sangiovese, but here it takes centre stage in a luminous wine with a lovely fine-pointed and detailed nose of blackcurrant-raspberry fruit with cedar, gentle herbs, spice and oak. It is full bodied, firm, fairly dense and elegant with fine if just slightly green tannin. Some graphite as well. The length is excellent.

Isole E Olena Chianti Classico 2015   Piazzano Colorino 2015

Euro Bargains

Cantina San Paolo 2017 Aglianico, Campania, Italy ($14.95)
David Lawrason – Wow!  Now here’s great value!  This captures so much for only $15. Great structure and depth but in that dry, grippy Euro style that you need to embrace up front. Its’ aglianico.  Expect lifted currant fruit thyme, pepper, old spicy wood and earthiness. It is medium weight, warming, drying and thoroughly engaging. The length is excellent, surpassing the price.
Sara d’Amato – A lighter style of aglianico made in a ready-to-drink fashion that may just be the best deal of this release. High on the acids but overall made with a light-handed touch and offering great purity of flavour. Not a solo sipper, pair with food, decant or wait another 2-3 years. Distinctive of varietal and at a very good price. Seek out if you are curious about the varietal but don’t want to spend the $$.

Zangaura SaperaviI 2016, Kindzmarauli, Kakheti, Georgia ($14.95)
David Lawrason – Saperavi – the signature grape of Georgia  – produces wines that remind me of zinfandel, another antique variety. The nose is soft but generous with blackberry/plum jam fruitiness, subtle sage, vanillin and licorice. It is full bodied, fairly dense, soft but not soupy or too sweet. Tannins are quite fine, alcohol is a bit amped.

Campos de Enanzo 2017 Basiano Tempranillo, Navarra, Spain ($11.95)
Sara d’Amato – From the northern Navarra region, this 100% tempranillo is sourced from the estate’s oldest vineyards. It is a surprisingly good value, juicy and loaded with black fruit. Well-structured with natural spice and tomato leaf adding complexity on the palate. An intriguing wine with notable elegance. Better paired with food such as a charcuterie plate for optimum enjoyment.

Tuzko Tolnai Kékfrankos 2015, Hungary ($18.95)
David Lawrason – Kekfrankso is marginally better known as blaufrankisch in neighbouring Austria. This is a pale red with lovely, quite lifted aromas of currant/raspberry fruit with seedy, peppery, fresh dill and tobacco notes. It is light to mid-weight, nicely balanced, very savoury and spicy with good acidity and gentle tannin. Quite delicious for fans of lighter, cooler, clime reds.

Cantina San Paolo Aglianico 2017   Zangaura SaperaviI 2016   Campos De Enanzo Basiano Tempranillo 2017   Tuzko Tolnai Kékfrankos 2015

Stay tuned for upcoming reports on Amarone, Chianti and Brunello which were thoroughly tasted by our WineAlign team at the recent Anteprima tastings in Italy showcasing new vintages to come to market. Other innovative old-world wine regions such as Austria and Rousillon will also be in the spotlight shortly with updates on new appellations and up-and-coming trends.

Also, if you would like to be part of the action and taste alongside pros, don’t miss out on a day of fine wine, amateur and professional blind tastings, the live Best Ontario Sommelier Competition and a gala dinner featuring sommelier selected pairings with cuisine from Oliver & Bonacini on Sunday, April 14th. Tickets and information here: CAPS Best Ontario Sommelier Challenge 2019.


Sara d’Amato

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
Sara’s Sommelier’s Selections

New Release and VINTAGES Preview

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