Buyers’ Guide to VINTAGES May 21 Release

Michael’s VINTAGES Review May 21: Critics’ picks, VINTAGES Online Exclusives for May 14 and Forever in Chianti Classico

By Michael Godel with notes from and Sara d’Amato and Megha Jandhyala (David and John are away)

Coming out of the May 2-4 long weekend is like waking up from a most vivid dream in which so much happened so fast you have to write it down with haste, before it’s all forgotten. Yet another 2022 climate apogee is experienced in the guise of Saturday morning’s humidity and heat quickly wiped away by a fast and violent storm during which felled trees lay prone across the GTA. This immediately followed by a cold air front rolling in and with it rain to soak a city to the bone. This is apparently a weather phenomenon known as a Derecho. It’s a widespread, long-lived wind storm that is associated with a band of rapidly moving showers or thunderstorms. Exceedingly rare for Canada. All the extreme changes in weather are absently inconsequential if likely unknown to our intrepid travelling critics David Lawrason and John Szabo, in southern Italy and Austria respectively. This report for VINTAGES May 21 and VINTAGES Online Exclusives May 14 brings you picks from myself along with Sara d’Amato and our impressive and talented “critic understudy” Megha Jandhyala.

This past week Sara penned a fascinating study of New York wines in her article “Discover the Wines of New York State.” Sara reports on the “iconic nervy rieslings of the Finger Lakes, the merlot-based blends of the North Fork of Long Island, the dry rosés of the South Fork, the aromatic whites of the Hudson River Valley and the curated grapes vinified in urban centres.” WineAlign readers should be aware of the new release of wines only available for purchase in online format. The wines can be ordered and delivered to the store of your choice or to your doorstep. In addition, there are also a few NY wines available now in VINTAGES.

Partnering with this month’s Buyers’ Guide is my lengthy (450 tasting notes and 50,000 words, give or take) report on the wines of Chianti Classico. In the article I recount The story of two hats, a prodigal ambasciatore‘s return, end of season reaction to the April 2021 frost, the significance of canaiolo and concepts of new agriculture. Over the course of four trips to the region in October, November, February and March I visited 37 estates, played chaperone to 10 top Canadian sommeliers (Scott Zebarth, Paige McIntyre, Kristi Linneboe, Joris Garcia, Caroline Beaulieu, Natalie Pope and Hannah Egan-Lee, along with WineAlign judges John Szabo MS and Nadia Fournier) and attended the 2022 Chianti Classico Collection. During this six month stretch I also filmed four videos for the LCBO, discussed the details of the territory’s newly minted 11 UGAs, taught 10 continuing education seminars and next week Toronto will welcome 30 producers along with the Consorzio Vino Chianti Classico for two days of Masterclasses, trade and consumer tastings. Click here for details.

VINTAGES Online Exclusives for May 14

As part of the LCBO and VINTAGES shift to a greater focus in the realm of online sales there were 41 items on the list for the May 14 virtual release. As mentioned in past Buyers’ Guides, the spring and summer months are only seeing one full VINTAGES in store release each time out but the WinAlign crü is tasting through as many VOEs (VINTAGES Online Exclusives) as our agency partners are willing to support. The offers from May 14 were an impressive lot and more than worthy of attention because the value quotient found therein for a set of wines is in the predominantly $25-45 range. These are not a precious bunch but mid-priced stunners, some perfectly positioned for immediate consumption while others will serve a consumer’s cellar for mid, if not long-term timing. Sara, Megha and I have amassed six from May 14 that act admirably on both accounts. 

Buyers’ Guide to VINTAGES May 21

The current release “explores a collection that shows off rosé’s myriad styles and uses” and the critics took note of two polar opposite if equally important choices. There are 16 VQA wines available, a small number that represents just 17 per cent of the total and yet more than a third are worthy of your hard earned cash. We expand on three of them for your perusal. The rest of the breakdown falls into place as follows: United States (17), Italy (16), Australia (7), Chile (6), Portugal (6), Argentina (3), Spain (2), South Africa (1), New Zealand (1) and Mexico (1). The French contingent is particularly strong, more than half of the Italians are from Tuscany and the fact that the United States has more representation than Canada is an issue we all need to take notice and where possible, speak out.

VINTAGES Buyer’s Guide Online Exclusives May 14: White

Creekside Iconoclast Sauvignon Blanc/Semillon 2018

Creekside Iconoclast Sauvignon Blanc/Sémillon 2018, Niagara Peninsula
$23.00, Trajectory Beverage Partners
Megha Jandhyala – This is a flinty, slightly reductive blend of sauvignon blanc and semillon with flavours of green pears and limes, and subtle tropical and herbaceous notes. Given its zesty acidity and fresh fruit flavours, it pairs well with light vegetarian South Asian fare like baingan bharta (smoked eggplant, cooked with onions, tomatoes, and spices).
Sara d’Amato – Sourced from two vineyards – Fruithaven for an abundant crop of sémillon and the Backyard Block for the tight clusters of sauvignon blanc. A very bright and juicy, expression of the Iconoclast white that is salty, brimming with lime and passion fruit. Stylishly reductive with nerviness and intensity.
Michael Godel – As barrel flinty, reductive and scintillating as ever. Forget old world comparisons because this sémillon and sauvignon blanc joint speaks for itself, knows from whence and how far it has come, captures the midlands between water and benches with great cause and effect. Delivers blows and punches, intensities and tropical fruit cup juices. 

Michel Gassier Château De Nages JT White 2020, Costières De Nîmes, France
$28.95, Profile Wine Group
Megha Jandhyala – Floral, with flavours of ripe apples, white peaches, and grapefruit, and a subtle lees-signature, this is an expressive and nuanced roussanne-based blend. Citrus-rind bitterness contrasts with the juicy, ripe fruit, while the  faintly honeyed and textured nature of the palate mirrors the intricacy of its flavours.

Blank Canvas Grüner Veltliner, Berakah Vineyard 2015, Rapaura, Marlborough, New Zealand
$31.95, Nicholas Pearce Wines Inc.
Sara d’Amato – The location on the label gets awfully precise, a sign of a serious wine. This single-vineyard incarnation is a production of wife-and-husband team Sophie Parker-Thomson MW and Matt Thomson who completed 50 vintages in NZ. This young vine expression of grüner offers surprising depth and complexity whose flavours have been gracefully meshed but not marred by bottle age.

Neil Ellis Amica Sauvignon Blanc 2018

Neil Ellis Amica Sauvignon Blanc 2018, Stellenbosch, South Africa
$32.95, Nicholas Pearce Wines Inc.
Michael Godel – Very fresh and upright varietal stuff. Tons of Stellenbosch warmed and then cooled fruit, still gelid and granita like, a sauvignon blanc you can take a bite from, with punchy acidity and terrific stage presence. Bring this to the party and be the life thereof. 

VINTAGES Buyer’s Guide Online Exclusives May 14: Red

Baettig Vino De Viñedo Los Parientes Pinot Noir 2020, Traiguén, Valle Del Malleco, Chile
$33.95, Nicholas Pearce Wines Inc.
Michael Godel – There is a Pommard like richness, intensity and layering and while the singularity seems Chilean it’s more than that. The black dirt in Viñedo Los Suizos and the Traiguén atmosphere may yet to be known in this hemisphere but with the Baettigs on the case the future is surely volcanic.

Post Scriptum De Chryseia 2019

Post Scriptum De Chryseia 2019, Douro, Portugal
$34.95, Mark Anthony Group
Sara d’Amato – A finely crafted Douro blend exhibiting a full-bodied mouthfeel, light on oak and with a focus on fruit and freshness. Built to reveal more with age.
Michael Godel – The series of notes appended to a completed letter, article, or book in this case are heady and ripest of berries red, black and blue, a veritable hematoma of raspberry, blackberry and blueberry. Acids are crunchy, tannins are smooth as silk and the seamlessness of the composition, inclusive of chalky liquidity, is beautiful to behold. 

Jean Baptiste Jessiaume Santenay 2018, Bourgogne, France
$37.95, The Case For Wine
Michael Godel – An archetype in every respect, generous from 2018, perhaps not quite at the level of what will surely come from 2019 but a gift of pinot noir pleasure nonetheless. This right proper and well executed Santenay hits the Beaune button on the proverbial head.

Muddy Water Pinot Noir 2018

Muddy Water Pinot Noir 2018, Waipara, South Island, New Zealand
$39.95, The Living Vine
Michael Godel – The wine moves with fluid motion and there is always this bittersweet refrain. Sweet fruit meeting salt of the earth, grounded and softly sung. In the end this might say “I’ll always be my mother’s daughter. My veins run with muddy water.” 

Bachelder Wismer Parke Pinot Noir 2019

Bachelder Wismer Parke Pinot Noir 2019, VQA Twenty Mile Bench, Ontario
$44.95, Lifford Wine & Spirits (Select Wine Merchants)
Michael Godel – A child that can’t sit still, sweetly soulful rebellious soul, angst over the meaning of life and in a way a reflection of its maker. You can feel the ripples in this pinot noir, the genesis of its origins and the way it has grown, evolved and changed tune.

VINTAGES Buyer’s Guide May 21: White & Rosé

Château D'aquéria Tavel 2021

Château D’aquéria Tavel 2021, Rhône, France
$24.95, Noble Estates Wines & Spirits Inc.
Megha Jandhyala – Here is a concentrated rosé from Tavel that glitters like a red Mexican fire opal, with flavours of ripe red fruit, juicy blood orange, pepper, and wet stones. Its intensity, lively acidity, and delicate, silky tannins, make it a versatile and food-friendly wine that should pair well with rich, savoury, and flavourful South Asian foods like egg biryani.
Sara d’Amato – Deeply coloured as ever, this potent rosé has ‘vin de garde’ qualities and at the same time a delight to drink now and if so, best to enjoy at the table. Pair with salty grilled salmon, pancetta wrapped pork loin, or a fricassee of spring mushrooms.
Michael Godel
– Tavel as Tavel is a beautiful thing, glowing of colour, reeking of place and in delivery of more succulent red fruit than any of it’s southern French Rosé ilk. 

Saint Aix Rosé 2021

Saint Aix Rosé 2021, Coteaux D’Aix En Provence
$24.95, Family Wine Merchants
Sara d’Amato – The AIX rosé embodies the higher altitude freshness of the Côteaux d’Aix and in this vintage a luminous, more pigmented hue. Get it while you can as Provençal rosé is a hot commodity these days. This incarnation is bright and effortlessly charming with flavours of raspberry, cherry blossom and lavender.
Michael Godel – A fine, pale and salmon hued southern French Rosé but here’s the kicker. For the first time there’s some colour back in so it seems the shift may be on again, like inflation and interest rates. The aromatics and especially the flavours come away more pronounced and intense. It feels like this is what we’ve been waiting for in Rosé. 

Hidden Bench Fumé Blanc 2019, Rosomel Vineyard, Beamsville Bench, Ontario
$29.95, Mark Anthony Group
Michael Godel – Here in 2019 the escape is fast and furious. Still holds title as the yeah-starter, marker, benchmark and harbinger for the sauvignon blanc enveloping sémillon bench ideal. The citrus-herbal swirl is dizzying, the extract off the charts and the future potential possibilities half the fun.

Domaine Le Verger Chablis 2019

Domaine Le Verger Chablis 2019, Burgundy, France
$29.95, EX-Cellars Wine Services
Megha Jandhyala – From the left bank of the Serein, comes this Chablis with a compelling nose of ripe apples, pears, chalk, and toasted bread, and a palate awash in juicy lemons and crunchy green apples. Silky, taut, yet supple, with firm acidity, it is a textural delight.
Sara d’Amato – Lemon oil and bitter-lush, this lightly oily Chablis from Alain Geoffroy, features much more complexity than you’d expect from the average, commercial Chablis at this price. There is a great deal of texture, from a lessy contribution  bolstered by an oily and acidic combo. Cleanly made, light and bright but not dilute. 

VINTAGES Buyer’s Guide May 21: Red

Tessellae Old Vines Grenache/Syrah/Mourvèdre 2019, Côtes du Roussillon, Languedoc-Roussillon, France
$19.95, EX-Cellars Wine Services
Sara d’Amato
– Tessellae is a joint venture between long-time business partner Eric Solomon and winemaker/négociant Jean-Marc Lafage. This old vine blend of grenache, syrah and mourvèdre emanating from the black schist and clay-limestone soils near Maury in the Upper Agly Valley offers a great deal of concentration for the price. The tannins are pleasurably ripe lending a velvety carpeted feel to the palate. The wine is gracefully matured so that there is a combination of dry and fresh fruit to be felt along with a notable Mediterranean character such as fig, tomato water, and pomegranate that linger on the food-friendly finish of very good length.

Viticcio Chianti Classico Docg 2018

Viticcio Chianti Classico DOCG 2018, Tuscany, Italy 
$22.95, Glazer’s Canada
Michael Godel – A vintage Annata that’s perfectly ready to roll and Viticcio captures both the excellence and the correctness therein. The 53rd vintage is truly a charm. 

Château Bouscassé Madiran 2016

Château Bouscassé Madiran 2016, Southwest France
$22.95, Mark Anthony Group
Michael Godel – It’s been some time since a taste of Madiran expressed such equanimity and joy, not to mention fruit first emotion. That’s not to say the structured selectiveness is not part of the make up but with air and the right food there’s no reason not to drink some of these in mid decade. 

Château Le Puy Emilien 2018

Château Le Puy Emilien 2018, Bordeaux, France
$34.95, Noble Estates Wines & Spirits Inc. 
Michael Godel – No matter the youthful age of a le Puy there is always this sense of maturity, existential development and raison d’être. Feels like it’s aged already but that’s just a teaching matter, of confidence and in knowing how to present itself. Hard not to fall in love with yet another 2018 Bordeaux because of the restraint, balance and careful level of swarthiness. The value quotient runs high so fall headfirst into this beautiful wine.

Burrowing Owl Merlot 2019

Burrowing Owl Merlot 2019, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia
$42.95, Wyse Wine Agency
Megha Jandhyala – This is a dense and complex merlot from the Okanagan, a rich harmony of ripe plums, blackberries, liquorice root, tobacco, vanilla, dark chocolate, and cloves. Dried violet petals contribute to its allure.
Sara d’Amato – Located in the deep south of the Okanagan, this lush plot in the heart of the desert is home to some spectacular scenery and often well-balanced wines. Case-in-point, this merlot can please the most skeptic of critics. Featuring bold flavours and a voluminous mouthfeel, this velvety-ripe merlot offers both compelling texture and rich fruit expression. The oak is generous and should continue to integrate over the next 3-4 years in bottle. Cellar for a touch longer if you prefer a more demure expression of merlot.
Michael Godel
– Only a select few can do the varietal Okanagan relationship any prouder than the Owl. Between acid pump ups and tannic pull downs the 2019 is just right there, with imminent grip and looking ahead structure to set this up for longer term success. Hard to beat and yet again another vintage of dialled back restraint, calm and collectedness. 

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.

Megha’s Mega Picks
Sara’s Selections
Michael’s Mix

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