Buyer’s Guide to VINTAGES April 29 Release

John Szabo’s VINTAGE’S Preview April 29: What’s Your Favorite “Classic Wine Region”

By John Szaabo, MS with notes from David Lawrason, Michael Godel, Sara d’Amato and Megha Jandhyala

This week’s report covers the VINTAGES April 29 release and its theme Classic Wine Regions. What defines a classic wine region is up for debate, though it would appear from the list of wines included in the thematic that it’s essentially another way of saying European wine regions. There are no non-European wines on the list. But really, either way, unless you’re buying wine as an investment, which would limit you to not only a handful of regions (almost all European) but also a surprisingly limited number of labels — somewhere between about 100 and 200, “investment grade wines,” out of the hundreds of thousands produced annually around the world — it’s a moot distinction today for anyone seeking pleasure. It’s maybe even a hindrance, steering consumers away from discovery, as “classic” would seem to imply “‘better,” than its opposite (upstart wine regions?). There’s pleasure, and certainly value, to be had almost everywhere wine is made today, and unearthing new favorites is a sport every wine lover should aspire to master. Almost to prove the point, the WineAlign Crü this week recommends a broad range of wines, with less alignment than usual (no “quads,” only a few triple alignments, lots of singles), showing that even hardened wine tasters veer off into different preferences, and as should you. Go on, find your own classics!

Vintages Buyer’s Guide April 29: Whites and Rosés

Château D'Aquéria Tavel Rosé 2022

Château D’Aquéria Tavel Rosé 2022, Rhône, France
$24.95, Noble Estates Wines & Spirits Inc.  
Michael Godel – Classic Tavel with wet stone and salty scents, like the cool insides of a marine cave. Then comes the glycerol texture, silky smooth glide of the elixir and the richly satisfying Tavel finish.
Megha Jandhyala – This is quintessential Tavel, cast in a dazzling hue, smooth as a glistening pale ruby, with delicate, refreshing mineral tones and beguiling notes of cherries, red berries, blood oranges, and pepper. It should make for a versatile companion to a variety of cuisines or an excellent aperitif on a cool spring/summer evening.
Sara d’Amato – Having just visited the estate of Aquéria, I was particularly impressed by the complexity of their proprietary process in the creation of their one and only wine. Close to a dozen grapes are grown in cool sandy soils in the largest contiguous vineyard in Tavel. Each red is paired up with a white for co-maceration before fermentation and maturation, never in oak. The result is a complex cornucopia of red fruit and flora that include strawberry, candied cherry, white peach, starfruit, dragon fruit, thyme and rose. Drink now or hold another 2-3 years.

Nicolas Potel Bourgogne Hautes Côtes De Beaune Blanc 2020

Nicolas Potel Bourgogne Hautes Côtes De Beaune Blanc 2020, Burgundy, France     
$34.95, Trajectory Beverage Partners
Megha Jandhyala – If you are seeking reasonably priced Bourgogne blanc, this rich but balanced example from Côtes de Beaune is worth exploring. It is silky, firm, and concentrated, with appealing fresh fruit flavours and nuances of toasted nuts and spice.
Sara d’Amato – Perched on high plateaus above the villages of the Côtes de Beaune impregnated with “Cru” designated sites, the more modest region of the Hautes Côtes is turning out wines of exceptional value and freshness. Here is a stylish, poised, and polished chardonnay picked at peak ripeness with delicate oak influence and impressive length.

Alliance Loire Les Lys Vouvray Sec 2021

Alliance Loire Les Lys Vouvray Sec 2021, Loire France
$22.95, Vinexx
Megha Jandhyala – For those who like dry Vouvray, the Les Lys delivers. I like the focussed notes of juicy citrus fruit, hints of toast, and delicately saline, basically dry palate. The finish is refreshingly zesty and subtly textured.
Sara d’Amato – Despite a tricky, low-yielding vintage in the Loire, there are some memorable chenin blanc based wines of considerable concentration to be found in 2021. This well-priced find from a large cooperative of significance is rather lush and fleshy without sacrificing freshness. Bright and salty with flavours of starfruit, green pear, and melon with great persistence.

Yalumba Organic Viognier 2021

Yalumba Organic Viognier 2021, Australia
$16.95, Family Wine Merchants
Sara d’Amato – It can be a challenge to strike the right balance with viognier – it is often either heavy and fatty or too thin and dilute. Yet Goldilocks would surely agree, that Yalumba’s organic viognier is just right, featuring lavish appeal that is underlain with a vibrant energy. You can expect a mid-weight wine brimming with peach, almond blossom, and toasty lees.

Vintages Buyer’s Guide April 29: Red

Domaine Des Sénéchaux Châteauneuf-Du-Pape 2019

Domaine Des Sénéchaux Châteauneuf-Du-Pape 2019, Rhône, France
$63.95, Noble Estates Wines & Spirits Inc      
John Szabo – Rather shy on the nose at the moment, Sénéchaux’s 2019 is a broad and full-bodied wine on the palate, very ripe but still contained, with excellent fruit integrity and depth/length. There’s genuine density and complexity on offer, though still far from prime. Cellar another 2-3 years minimum, or hold into the early ’30s without concern. A satisfying, chewy and rich mouthful.

Caparzo Brunello Di Montalcino 2017

Caparzo Brunello Di Montalcino 2017, Tuscany, Italy
$51.95, The Case For Wine
David Lawrason – This is not the greatest Brunello ever built, but I was pleased by just how well it came together as it moves into mid-maturity.  This is a very gentle, poised brunello . It is a finely stitched tapestry of cran-raspberry red fruits, died herbs, distant wood smoke and forest notes. It is balanced, smooth and gently warming, with fine tannin.

Bachelder Les Villages Gamay Noir 2020

Bachelder Les Villages Gamay Noir 2020, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario
$24.95, Lifford Wine and Spirits (Select Wine Merchants)
David Lawrason – Thomas Bachelder brings as much focus and detail to gamy as he does his pinots. This has a pretty nose of strawberry, pepper, pink rose and fine barrel spice. It is light to medium bodied, smooth, warm and lively. Lovely fruit concentration here.
John Szabo – Another fine edition of Bachelder’s Niagara Peninsula blend of gamay, ripe in the generous 2020 vintage, supple and fruity, immediately engaging and appealing. I love the silky tannins and balanced-ripe acids; length too is impressive. A very sharp value overall. Drink or hold short term – this is pretty much à point.
Megha Jandhyala – A blend of fruit from six sites in the Niagara Peninsula, Thomas Bachelder’s Les Villages is a delightfully expressive and supple gamay. A pleasure to savour, with the potential for a variety of food pairings, it is also priced very fairly. I really like the balance between ripeness and freshness here, the tender fruit, and nuances of pepper and dried rose petals.

Heartland Stickleback Red 2021

Heartland Stickleback Red 2021, Langhorne Creek, South Australia
$19.95, The Vine Agency
David Lawrason – This is a modest and delicious pour by Ben Glaetzer, one Australia’s most heralded winemakers, who specializes in reds from Langhorne Creek, a small very coastal enclave growing very flavourful fruit. This shows very lifted eucalyptus/menthol nose with cranberry, cassis and all kinds of spice. It is medium weight, glossy and smooth without being overtly sweet. A great BBQ red.

Domaine Des Terres Dorées Le Ronsay Beaujolais 2021

Domaine Des Terres Dorées Le Ronsay Beaujolais 2021, Burgundy, France    
$19.95, The Living Vine Inc.  
David Lawrason – This is a very pale gamay – most Beaujolais run deeper coloured.  It sports a nicely lifted and pretty nose strawberry/cherry fruit, florals and pepper. There is an organics-based purity and energy I really like. It is notably light bodied and tart-edged, missing some richness but making up for it in drive and intensity.
John Szabo – Jean-Paul Brun’s entry point Beaujolais takes on a light and juicy, airy feel in the 2021 vintage, a wine of simple pleasures and lively fruit. There’s not much structure, so go ahead and chill it lightly for maximum refreshment and enjoyment, and drink over the near term..
Sara d’Amato – Dominated by rotundone which imparts a peppery character to the nose and palate of this gamay. This may prove a polarizing wine because if you are part of the 20-25% of the population that does not detect this aromatic compound, you may not understand what all the fuss is about. Regardless, here is a more complex and age worthy find than your typical basic Beaujolais, crafted with a light-handed touch and featuring notes of leather, cherry, anise and red pepper.

Alceño Twelve 12 Meses Monastrell 2019

Alceño Twelve 12 Meses Monastrell 2019, Jumilla, Spain
$17.00, The Case For Wine
David Lawrason – I was intrigued by the strident sappy, rosemary herbaceous note, then realized how it worked so well with the pure blackcurrant fruit. Then I realized it was only $17. It is not very complex, but there is generosity  warmth, energy and an appealing sweet-edge. The length is very good to excellent.

Viñalba Patagonia Reserva Malbec 2020

Viñalba Patagonia Reserva Malbec 2020, Patagonia, Argentina
$19.95, Glencairn Wine Merchants
Michael Godel – Grippy example of malbec, bigger than most from Patagonia and surely deserving of having Reserve be printed on the label. There’s a buzz to this wine and it should get more interesting with two more year’s time.

Montes Alpha Syrah 2020

Montes Alpha Syrah 2020, Valle De Colchagua, Chile
$20.95, Profile Wine Group (VinVino)    
Sara d’Amato
– It is hard to find syrah quite like this elsewhere than in Chile. Generous aromatics include menthol, botanicals, and blackberry. The ripeness of fruit on the palate is juxtaposed with cooling acidity. A wine that should prove a match for charred barbecued flavours and sticky sauces.
Michael Godel – The Alpha is syrah residing on the black olive, caper berry Mediterranean-style side of the varietal tracks yet its fruit is so modern and silky. Squeaky clean syrah, smooth and peppery. No overt structure but will drink well for a few years.

Barone Ricasoli Brolio Bettino Chianti Classico 2018

Barone Ricasoli Brolio Bettino Chianti Classico DOCG 2018, Tuscany, Italy
$20.95, The Case For Wine
Michael Godel  – Extra level of luxe and mature fruit, a combination of verdant savour and dusty mineral that is expressly a matter of Gaiole vernacular. Length and this sangiovese has it, from La Madonna to Monti and back.

Brigaldara Amarone Classico 2017

Brigaldara Amarone Classico 2017, Amarone Della Valpolicella, Veneto, Italy
$74.95, Rogers & Company  
Michael Godel – A farm of viticultural, vini-cultural and all-around cultural sustainability would and should be the kind of place to turn out a great Amarone from the challenging 2017 vintage. Running no Amarone fever and in fact there is a succulence and a grace, even in such a youthful stage.
John Szabo – A lovely and perfumed, old school style Amarone here from Brigaldara, a classic and reliable name in the region, clean, and delivering all the expected dried, red fruit and old wood flavours, like entering a museum, with dried flowers (carnations) and sumac to add interest. The ensemble is really well balanced and not showing any signs of stress, widespread in the hot 2017 vintage. You’ll want to cellar another 3-5 years at yeast for full flavour development, though texturally it’s already quite pleasing; I don’t believe this needs extended, decades-long cellaring.

Barón De Ley Gran Reserva 2015

Barón De Ley Gran Reserva 2015, Rioja, Spain
$32.95, Noble Estates Wines & Spirits Inc.  
John Szabo – Maturing, marvellously perfumed, sultry and spicy, American oak-influenced wine in the classic style to be sure, yet neither overwhelmed by it; the palate enters smooth and silky before tightening up on the back end thanks to crunchy acids, framing the wide range of flavours and drawing saliva. I’d suggest another 2-3 years in the cellar for further textural smoothing and flavour development – this will make a fine bottle in time, and attractive value.
Megha Jandhyala – For those who appreciate cultivated, aged Riojas, this classically styled gran reserva from Cenicero in Rioja Alta is an excellent, modestly priced option. Richly perfumed, with resonant flavours, a refined texture, and a captivating finish, it is ready to enjoy now but can also be cellared for 4-5 years.

Château Potensac 2018

Château Potensac 2018, Médoc, Bordeaux, France 
$75.95, Noble Estates Wines & Spirits  
Sara d’Amato – Potensac is part of the Delon Family of wines who also manage the 2nd growth Château of Léoville-Las-Cases in Pauillac – a partial determinant of price. The quality here meets expectations in this assemblage that is just coming into its own. Youthful energy is tamed by the weight of generous black fruit while notes of bramble, bergamot and dried orange peel add the wine’s complex spice mix. Collectors, take note.

Emiliana Novas Organic Gran Reserva Carmenère 2020

Emiliana Novas Organic Gran Reserva Carmenère 2020, Colchagua Valley, Chile
$17.00, PMA Canada
Sara d’Amato – Perfectly ripened carmenère is epitomized in this accessibly-priced, organic red from Emiliana’s Novas line. Pleasurably tense and juicy with more flair and aromatic intrigue than the norm.

Le Serre Nuove Dell'ornellaia 2020

Le Serre Nuove Dell’ornellaia 2020, Bolgheri Rosso, Tuscany, Italy
$75.95, Mark Anthony Group
Michael Godel – Le Serre Nuove has spent the better part of two decades mapping out and defining its own design. It is a wine of prominent structure and 2020 will be one of those longer lived vintages.

Cave Spring Estate Grown Cabernet Franc 2020

Cave Spring Estate Grown Cabernet Franc 2020, VQA Beamsville Bench, Niagara Escarpment, Ontario
$19.95, Cave Spring Cellars
Megha Jandhyala – This is a flavourful, succulent cabernet franc from Niagara’s Beamsville Bench, representing good value. I like the well-integrated and balanced flavours of lush fruit, barrel spice, and green bell peppers.

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

John Szabo, MS

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.

Szabo’s Smart Buys
Lawrason’s Take
Michael’s Mix
Sara’s Selections
Megha’s Picks

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