More from VINTAGES June 22nd, plus Italy north and south

Sicily goes native, Collio’s gialla paradise and our Buyers’ Guide, Part Two

by Michael Godel, with notes from Sara d’Amato

Oh, what a month it has been. With the first half of my personal 2019 wine journey nearing completion I reflect four weeks back on the glorious first two days of June exploration in Venice, the Adriatic’s jewel known as La Dominante, La Serenissima and “The Floating City.” I had just been tasting through friulano, pinot bianco, sauvignon and ribolla gialla in Collio, one of Europe’s most fascinating white wine crossroad regions in the Gorizia Hills of the Friuli-Venezia Giulia region where western Slovenia and northeastern Italy meet. Enjoy my first report: Enjoy Collio Experience 2019. Earlier in May I took in an aromatic and sensorial week on the island of Sicily, including two days of tasting more than 150 examples at Le Anteprime di Sicilia En Primeur 2019.  Please read my article: Notes from 2019 Sicilia en Primeur.

I’m in a Rialto state of mind

In Part One it was John Szabo MS who shared his thoughts on Loire variety comparisons, new wave Aussies and Smart Buys from last Saturday’s June 22nd VINTAGES release. John’s ruminating thoughts, analyses and general considerations came on the heels of an intense judging week spent in bucolic Prince Edward County at the National Wine Awards of Canada. It was as he reflected, “an extraordinary five days of tasting,” during which “21 deeply experienced judges from Vancouver Island to Nova Scotia sipped, weighed and appraised the merits of 1,831 wines and ciders from almost every province in the land, in what is surely the most well-organized, professional and fair wine competition I’ve seen anywhere in the world. The annual NWAC Award winners, including the top wineries of the year, will be revealed in mid-July, so lovers, and future lovers of Canadian wines stand by for the definitive guide.”

While the WineAlign crü is seemingly in constant and perpetual travelling motion we always have a minimum of two critic’s pulses on the local calendar because we are keenly aware of our readers’ needs, that is to find the best wines and the best wine values available in the VINTAGES bi-weekly releases. Please read on to browse the best of the rest still available on some shelves scattered through LCBO stores across the province.

Tenuta Sette Ponti Crognolo 2016 

92pts from both John Szabo and Michael Godel

More picks from the VINTAGES June 22nd release

Whites, Rosé and Dessert

Collavini T Friulano 2017, DOC Collio, Italy ($16.95)
Michael Godel – Always great to see the larger houses keeping friulano afloat and to bring Collio white wines to the world. It’s an expensive place to make friulano, ribolla gialla and sauvignon. Expect these floral aromas, round flavours and general ubiquity to show here albeit in a commercial introduction, but an important one nonetheless.

Best’s Great Western Riesling 2017, Great Western, Victoria, Australia ($19.95)
Michael Godel – Best’s does riesling from Great Western with dry intention albeit in highly juicy, lime cordial spirited dimension. Few rieslings anywhere layer fruit like this, with a sour green candy apple meets watermelon intensity in hard shell, concentrated form. It can be so much fun to drink riesling like this.

Hidden Bench Locust Lane Rosé 2018, VQA Beamsville Bench, Niagara Escarpment, Ontario ($23.95)
Michael Godel – Locust Lane is certainly one of Ontario’s top cru sites for Rosé. Along with Moira just a stone’s throw over a hill away there are some that just rise above and do so with great ease, like fruit fallen into the hand just before it had been plucked from the stem. That’s when you know Rosé had been grown, run and fermented just right.

Pondview Riesling Icewine 2016, (200ml), VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario ($34.95)
Michael Godel – Pondview’s riesling is expressly floral, bringing orange blossom and white rose to very pineapple flavoured fruit. It’s really sticky and honeyed, very glazed and then notable for not only good acidity but also some dry extract and tannin. Pretty solid Icewine I must say.

Collavini T Friulano 2017, Doc Collio  Best's Great Western Riesling 2017, Great Western, Victoria  Hidden Bench Locust Lane Rosé 2018, VQA Beamsville Bench, Niagara Escarpment  Pondview Riesling Icewine 2016, VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario (200ml)

Jean Max Roger 2017 Sancerre Cuvée Les Caillottes, Sancerre, Loire, France ($30.95)
Sara d’Amato – A clean cut, textbook style of Sancerre, racy and mineral-driven with spine-tingling excitability. A touch of lees flavour adds more dimension to the rather complex palate. Youthful, bright and dynamic with notes of white pepper and flint lingering on the finish.

Domaine de L’idylle 2017 Jacquère Savoie, Savoie, France $16.95
Sara d’Amato – A clean and precise jacquère from the alpine region of Savoie exhibiting exceptional purity with an ethereal quality. Peppery, zesty and refreshing. Effortlessly drinkable with notes of lemon, lemon juice and mineral along with white peach, Bartlett pear and pine needle. Great pairing with dishes that involve melted cheese.

Garamvári Balatonlellei 2017 Muscat, Balatonboglar, Hungary ($11.95)
Sara d’Amato – Great value for those lazy summer cottage weekends, here’s a juicy, ethereal and highly drinkable muscat with a refreshing nature. Floral notes and peach are most notable on the delicate palate. Just off-dry and very well balanced. Lingering flavours of mineral and green apple with a crunchy texture.

Roquefeuille 2018 Léa Rocks Rosé, Var, Provence, France ($15.95)
Sara d’Amato – A great value, summer fresh rosé, zesty and sophisticated but uncomplicated. Created by Léa Rouyet of Château Roquefeuille with a pleasantly modern pop label. Notes of peach and cherry, with a solid vein of acidity and just the well balanced alcohol.

Jean Max Roger Sancerre Cuvée Les Caillottes 2017, Sancerre   Domaine De L'idylle Jacquère Savoie 2017, Ac   Garamvári Balatonlellei Muscat 2017, Pdo Balatonboglar   Roquefeuille Léa Rocks Rosé 2018, Igp Var


Thomas Goss Merlot 2016, McLaren Vale, South Australia ($16.95)
Michael Godel – To be honest, only Australia can produce merlot this bluish lush but also this ferric. At this price it represents a juggernaut of available possibility.

Penley Estate Phoenix Cabernet Sauvignon 2016, Coonawarra, South Australia ($19.95)
Michael Godel – Here my friends is the poster child, not just for Coonawarra but for all cabernet sauvignon grown in the diaspora. This is what you expect and hope for in a wine made in large quantities; fruit well expressed, acidity high and mighty and integration ensued.

Lamole Di Lamole Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG 2014, Tuscany, Italy ($29.95)
Michael Godel – Another year has helped soften the terroir effects from Alberese (marl – clayey limestone), Galestro (schistous clay) and Macigno Toscano (sandstone) to release i profumi di Lamole. Winemaker Andrea Daldin is very proud of his work in 2014, the challenge as great as ever, but he’s sure he’s done great work. A vendemmia ultra-selezionale.

Thomas Goss Merlot 2016, Mclaren Vale, South Australia   Penley Estate Phoenix Cabernet Sauvignon 2016, Coonawarra, South Australia   Lamole Di Lamole Riserva Chianti Classico 2014, Docg

Tenuta Sette Ponti Crognolo 2016, IGT Toscana, Tuscany, Italy ($34.95)
Michael Godel – The sangiovese speaks with clear vernacular and for the wild bush known as “Cornus.” Young vines (less than 20 years of age) deliver the freshness that this label wants, needs and promises, yet in 2016 the ripe fruit, seeds, stems and attitude all add up to more structure than the norm.

Ridolfi Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2013, Tuscany, Italy ($49.95)
Michael Godel – Ridolfi’s is certainly loyal, historical and traditional Brunello with blood orange meets chocolate and vintage character that speaks to a house knowingly in delivery of soil and year. Always properly made and well-priced.

Domaine Langlois 2016 Château Saumur Champigny, Loire, France ($21.95)
Sara d’Amato – My top pick for summer red in this release is this seductive, peppery, lightly reductive Loire cabernet franc. Perfumed with an abundance of just ripe purple fruit and a delicate tannic texture. Effortlessly drinkable and notably sophisticated. Chill just slightly for best expression.

Tenuta Sette Ponti Crognolo 2016, Igt Toscana   Ridolfi Brunello Di Montalcino Docg 2013  Domaine Langlois Château Saumur Champigny 2016

Coming into bella Sicilia, Etna shrouded and looming

Sicily’s Viticultural Year: 2018

For those who keep such records, 2018 will go down as the fifth hottest year on the Mediterranean  Italian island since 1900. Sicilia en Primeur took place between May 6th and 10th, 2019 as Assovini Sicilia presented that peculiar vintage to 100 international wine journalists through three days of eno-wine tours and two more of anteprime in Siracusa. This sixteenth edition of Sicily en Primeur hosted 50 producers in the Ortea Palace Luxury Hotel of Ortigia, with more than 500 wines available to taste. The technical presentation was delivered by Mattia Filippi, winemaker and founder of Uva Sapiens. Five masterclasses were presented by five Masters of Wine; Vineyards with a sea view, Travelling through time, DOC Sicilia, Etna, a constantly evolving territory and Small Destinations, a great history.

We learned three simple truths about the Sicilian wine industry because of the collective reaction to the heat brought forth by 2018. First, production numbers were consistent with 2017. Second, the other two wine production regions of Italy with similar horizontal exactitudes were Piedmont and Tuscany. Third, Sicily proved that staying true to core values, paying attention to quality and limiting yields in the name of productive balance puts the island’s denominations in a league with the country’s elite.

Ortigia Island

To keep reading on about aromatic whites and the age-ability of Siclian reds, please slide on over to my article: Notes from 2019 Sicilia en Primeur.

Enjoy Collio Experience 2019

Collio is in fact one of Europe’s most fascinating wine regions, a white wine specialist located in the Gorizia Hills of the Friuli-Venezia Giulia region. The amphitheatre of Collio vineyards follow a line along the western border of Slovenia in the northeastern corner of Italy. It is here where centuries of a mélange of multicultural histories meet in a venn diagram of multifarious Italian, Slovenian and Austro-Hungarian mythology.

My trip to Collio in the last days of May was indeed an experience of territory, vineyard, cellar and people. Though the varietal quintet of ribolla gialla, friulano, malvasia, pinot bianco and sauvignon are representative of the heart, head, mind, body and soul of the producers, it is the Collio Bianco that has emerged as a front runner for spokes-wine of the place. The appellative white blend unites and really ties the territorial room together.

A scenic drive north from Venice brings Collio slowly into view and truth be told, nowhere else in northern Italy looks, feels or smells like this place. When the sun goes down over the Cormons hills time finds a way to pause, suspend and stand still. When you stand on the terrace at Marco Felluga Russiz Superiore you can’t help but forget about the me and the I, but instead melt into the we and the here. At San Floriano del Collio your insignificance becomes magnified and you travel back in time, to arts, letters, painting and sculpture, to Nazis occupying a cave that is now the cellar and to a luxurious banquet set in a romantic time. It’s all very uplifting, disturbing and completely fascinating. Finally, when you walk in the Collio vineyards you get a sense of the what, why and how from these vines, the nature of the region and its wines.

San Floriano Del Cóllio, Friuli-Venezia Giulia

To keep reading on about a walk in the Collio vineyards plus Collio Bianco, Ribolla Gialla, Friulano, Malvasia, Pinot Bianco and Sauvignon, check out my article Enjoy Collio Experience 2019.

Thanks for reading up about the wines of Sicily, Collio and the June 22nd VINTAGES release. The WineAlign team will return next week with pre-release recommendations for July 6th, along with new and extensive coverage from tastings both past and coming up in the near future.

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.

John’s Top Picks
Michael’s Mix
Sara’s Sommelier Selections

New Release and VINTAGES Preview

Tenuta Sette Ponti Crognolo 2016 

92pts from both John Szabo and Michael Godel