Buyer’s Guide to VINTAGES May 27 Release

Sunshine Wines:  Rosés, Whites and a Venetian Take on Summer Red

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

With summer temperatures now finally entrenched in Ontario, at least for the next few days, Vintages’ rosé themed release for May 27 hits at a perfect time. Rosé is a terrific, all-purpose, gauzy backdrop for outdoor summer dining, and there are several that our WineAlign Crü recommends below. (John Szabo has been travelling and was unable to taste for this release.)

I find it fascinating that there can be so many shades of pink — from neon pink to wines so pale that they can only be described as alabaster. Colour intensity and shade may hint at flavour intensity, sweetness and weight, but colour is not a harbinger of quality. Price is the better metric. Good rosé will have a more precise balance between alcohol, sugar and acidity, and excellent length of finish no matter how subtle the flavours. I hope to find hints of red fruit plus herbs and spices and gentle florality.  European rosés tend to deliver this more often, but many New World renditions are also going down this path.

There are some very good whites and even a nifty orange wine on this release as well — again, ideal for summer sipping and meals. Sauvignon blancs from New Zealand and South Africa stand out with their great acid cut and lively green flavours juxtaposed by tropicality, but lovely Italian whites also add some diversity at good prices.

When it comes to summer reds, we seem fixated on big, fruity and jammy reds for the BBQ. But recent days spent in Verona, Italy, which was also basking in equally summery temps, have shifted my thinking.  I never saw a BBQ. Instead, it was the almost daily regimen of enjoying the freshness and smoothness of lightly chilled Valpolicella Classico or Bardolino with lighter cream-based pastas, risottos and prosciutto-based charcuterie. And I was often pleased to see this drinkability carry into heavier Ripasso and even Amarone styles when dining on roasted meats.

At this point I am not going to go into textbook detail explaining the production regimens of the five different styles of Valpolicella — the main red wine appellation (DOC) of the region. But there is something in the basic makeup, thanks to the corvina grape, that makes them immediately approachable, whether a basic Valpolicella from the plain, Classico and Superiore from the hills above Verona, or the ripassos and amarones which introduce more colour, weight and texture by using dried grapes. Corvina delivers palish colour, bright and decidedly red cherry fruit, good acidity and light tannin — the basis of its summery appeal. And the wines take a chill very nicely.

Fortunately, there are a handful of Veneto reds on this release, and in three instances, by sheer coincidence, I visited the wineries represented just last week.

Allegrini 2021 Valpolicella is the most basic in terms of DOC appellation, but it delivers scintillating flavours in a lean frame that makes it drink with almost white-wine freshness. It would be awesome with grilled vegetables or highly herbed lamb or chicken. This prominent winery based on the 16th Century Villa della Torre estate is making a great range of Valpolicella and IGT wines (these don’t conform to Valpolicella regulations).

Sandro Boscaini of Masi welcomed us at the home-base Serego Alighieri estate in Fumane. Among a huge array of wines, there is a higher-end, cherry wood barrel-aged MontePiazzo Valpolicella 2018 at Vintages (released in April) that demonstrates the serious side of Valpolicella. It could easily step up to herb-scented poultry an Italian sausage. And on this release, there is happy, pure and interesting Rose dei Masi from an obscure northeastern grape called refosco.

Farina is also on the docket, a growing family winery that has invested heavily in an array of new concrete egg fermentation vessels, large and small, plus a new restaurant and tasting area. Their Montecorna 2019 defines the modern iteration of ripasso, with perfumed, floral and oak aromas set in a very smooth texture. And their Amarone 2016 carries lovely complexity and elegance as well.

So, I urge you take these or Venetians for a spin this summer, along with any of our recommendations below.

Rosé and Orange

Izadi Larrosa Garnacha Rosé 2022

Izadi Larrosa Garnacha Rosé 2022, Rioja, Spain  
$17.95, Trialto Wine Group Ltd.
David Lawrason – This pale grenache (garnacha) rose shows a pretty nose that is quite lifted — with strawberry/red cherry, marzipan, grapefruit, herbs and some flint. It is firm, taut and mineral on the palate. Almost racy and tingly, with mouth-watering acidity. Chill well.
Megha Jandhyala – This is a fresh and fruity garnacha-based rosé, with cheerful flavours of ripe and candied red berries and cherries. I like the zesty, juicy palate. For under $20, it makes for a good addition to a summer party and should have broad appeal.

Gérard Bertrand Perles De Grenache Rosé 2022

Gérard Bertrand Perles De Grenache Rosé 2022, Pays d’Oc, Languedoc, France   
$19.95, Family Wine Merchants
David Lawrason – This typically pale, grenache rosé performs beyond expectation. It captures a generous nose of strawberry candy, jasmin and orange peel and delivers a nicely firm and well-structured style with very good to excellent length. There is subtle touch of anise on the finish so typical of Mediterranean rose.
Megha Jandhyala – This is a dry, delicately floral rosé, with a succulent and supple palate that reminds me of juicy, fleshy summer berries and pink grapefruit. Well-priced and easy to enjoy, this is a reliable option for those looking for a rosé to please a broad range of palates..

Foris Vineyards Rosé of Pinot Noir 2022

Foris Vineyards Rosé of Pinot Noir 2022, Rogue Valley, Oregon, USA       
$19.95, DB Wine & Spirits Inc.
Michael Godel – Single vineyard and a pinot noir Rosé surely grown and made with purpose. Delicate yet with subtle grip and an ability to seek food pairings like rare duck breast and shredded poached pork.
David Lawrason – This pale rosé nicely captures the fragrance/perfume of pinot noir rosé with red currant/cherry fruit, a certain Champagne-like ambiance with florality too. It is delicate, yet warm and quite intense.
Sara d’Amato – An affordable pale-pink rosé made entirely from estate-grown fruit from Foris’ Maple Ranch Vineyard in the Rogue Valley, the southernmost AVA in Oregon. Whole-cluster pressed and notably refreshing with an appealing varietal typicity contributing flavours of red cherry, red currant, dried mint and wet leaf. Dry, clean and refreshing, this nicely packaged rosé at a very fair price will get you through the hottest of summer nights.

Confidencial Reserva Rosé 2022

Confidencial Reserva Rosé 2022, Vinho Regional Lisboa, Portugal
$16.95, Majestic Wine Cellars
Michael Godel – Rosé season picks can come from anywhere and looking beyond the south of France will open doors for new discoveries. Portugal can gift light, salty and vaguely fruity as well, as here with this delicate Lisbon example. Simply delicious.

Masi Rosa Dei Masi Rosé 2022

Masi Rosa Dei Masi Rosé 2022, Rosato Trevenezie, Veneto, Italy 
$19.95, Authentic Wine & Spirits Merchants      
David Lawrason – Made from the higher acid refosco grape that flourishes in Italy’s northeast, this is a finely tuned and balanced rosé with pink/orange shading. It has lifted redcurrant/sour cherry fruit with fresh sage and grapefruit subtleties. It is fresh and crisp with a slightly bitter blood-orange finish.

Caves d'Esclans Rock Angel Rosé 2021

Caves d’Esclans Rock Angel Rosé 2021, Côtes de Provence, France
$49.95, Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits
Sara d’Amato – With more intensity, structure and mineral edge than d’Esclans Whispering Angel, Rock Angel is one of the best-known premium rosés on the market. Rosé, like any other colour of wine takes an investment to achieve quality. This is a very technical wine made from night harvested grenache and rolle grapes that were manually then optically sorted, followed by gentle nitrogen pressing and then partially fermented in barrel. Notably pale, mid-weight with distinctive garrigue, saltiness and freshness. Crafted to impress.

Pomelado Orange Wine 2021

Pomelado Orange Wine 2021, Vinos De La Tierra De Castilla, Spain         
$16.95, The Living Vine Inc.
David Lawrason – This skin fermented white shows a bundle of exotic and intriguing flavours like sultana raisin, orange peel, tamarind, mint tea and spicy aromas. Almost like a vermouth or amaro, which I find very appealing. It is full bodied, smooth, dry and quite bitter. The focus and length are excellent.


Queylus Tradition Chardonnay 2019

Queylus Tradition Chardonnay 2019, Lincoln Lakeshore, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario
$29.95, Marchands des Ameriques
Michael Godel – With Niagara’s International Cool Climate Celebration just two months away, it is time to think about chardonnay. The Tradition is extracted, concentrated, and buttery — really capturing the possibility of the vintage. Voluminous, especially at this level.
Megha Jandhyala – This graceful Ontario chardonnay made by Kelly Mason has an especially appealing texture, at once luxurious and lissom. I love its creamy, almost billowy softness, supported by lithe acidity, and its many layers of flavour.

Stina Cuvée White 2021

Stina Cuvée White 2021, Island of Brac, Croatia
$21.95, Croatia Unpacked
Megha Jandhyala – Here is an opportunity to try a distinctive and beguiling white blend from Dalmatia. It is full of character, with radiant stone and tropical fruit, subtle salinity, and an attractively smooth and glossy palate.
Michael Godel – Freshness incarnate from a singularly salty and satisfyingly delicate two-varietal white from this Dalmatian island. A bottle will disappear quickly so be sure to buy two.
Sara d’Amato – This southern Dalmatian blend matches indigenous varieties of posip and vugava with the roundness and familiarity of chardonnay. A refreshing, flinty find that with notable intensity and very good concentration. An elegant supper sipper that should play well with a multitude of foods including baked goat cheese, raw oysters, coriander-infused ceviche and pesto on grilled chicken.

Rocca Delle Macìe Campo Maccione Vermentino 2021,

Rocca Delle Macìe Campo Maccione Vermentino 2021, Maremma, Tuscany, Italy
$16.95, Vin Vino Wine Merchants Inc.   
David Lawrason – The vermentino grape is a rising star in coastal Italy, from Liguria down to Tuscany and out into the islands like Sardinia. This is a racy, acid-driven lemony and herbal white, with a mineral streak. It is, polished and very fresh, with an evergreen bitterness. Great value!
Megha Jandhyala -This is a zesty, refreshing, flavourful vermentino from Maremma that should pair wonderfully with light seafood like white fish and clams. The fact that it costs under $20 and is certified organic adds to its appeal. 
Sara d’Amato – If you like sauvignon blanc, it’s likely you’ll be a fan of vermentino. This Tuscan, coastal-grown example is delightfully sapid, lightly peppery and fresh with a delicate herbal character. Keep a chilled bottled on hand for a refreshing summer pick-me-up when the humidity stifles.

Cape Point Vineyards Noordhoek Sauvignon Blanc 2022

Cape Point Vineyards Noordhoek Sauvignon Blanc 2022, Cape Town, South Africa
$17.40, PV Wine & Spirits Agency         
David Lawrason – This is a fulsome rounded and well-balanced sauvignon with tropical kiwi and green pepper notes. Very much in the Cape style, not NZ or France. There is richness and warmth it is a sense of grip and minerality I really like. The focus and length are excellent.
Megha Jandhyala – As is often the case with wines from South Africa, this is a well-priced and delicious sauvignon blanc from the Western Cape. It is balanced, fleshy, rounded, and distinctly herbaceous, with notes of capsicum, herbs, and juicy tropical and citrus fruit.
Sara d’Amato – A scintillating sauvignon blanc from the seaside village of Noordhoek, grown on the mountainous slopes of the Cape Peninsula. Even if this is not your go-to grape variety, there is still a great deal to appreciate about this well-balanced, not overtly herbaceous, expression that exhibits refreshing acidity, sea salt and appealing viscosity.

Graham Norton Sauvignon Blanc 2022

This is not from a single appellation in NZ, but it does have a very lifted green caper, fresh dill, lime pith and celery nose that points me to the Awatere Valley in Marlborough. It is light to mid-weight, crisp, zesty and firm — not too tropical or sweet edged — with a spicy, slightly hot and zesty finish.


Châteaux Vieux Chevrol 2019

Châteaux Vieux Chevrol 2019, Lalande De Pomerol, Bordeaux, France    
$31.95, Woodman Wines & Spirits         
David Lawrason – Now maturing, this merlot- based blend from Pomerol’s adjacent neighbour shows some gloss and elegance. Aromas are very complex with all kinds of hay, cedar, leather and oak spice around the ripe fruit. Lots of class here. Drinkable now through 2030.
Megha Jandhyala -This gently maturing “right bank” Bordeaux from a satellite appellation of Saint-Émilion is relatively accessible in terms of price and drinkability. Leafy and herbal, with supple red fruit, and notes of leather, prunes, and delicate spice, it can be enjoyed now with some decanting.
Michael Godel – More than impressive concentration but a stage presence and a level of complexity that should be impossible for satellite Pomerol at this price. Should drink well into the next decade, or even longer.
Sara d’Amato – Aged to near optimum drinkability, this elegant Lalande de Pomerol showcases the quality and balance of the excellent 2019 vintage. Relaxed and sophisticated with notes of tomato leaf, rosemary, rosebud, ripe red cherry, licorice, graphite and worn leather. Complex but mellow with some gentle wood spice that lingers on the finish of excellent length.

Creekside Iconoclast Syrah 2020

Creekside Iconoclast Syrah 2020, St. David’s Bench, Niagara on The Lake, Ontario
$25.00, Trajectory Beverage Partners
Megha Jandhyala – For those who appreciate a good syrah, this is a charming example from Ontario. It is firm, yet supple and deliciously peppery and herbal, with notes of perfectly ripe black cherries, sweet spices, and a splash of olive brine.
Michael Godel – A terrific vintage for Bench reds out of Niagara with fruit animosity and meaty character. Iconoclast makes a grand and structured statement.

Allegrini Valpolicella 2021

Allegrini Valpolicella 2021, Veneto, Italy
$18.95, Lifford Wine & Spirits Inc.         
David Lawrason – This shows a lifted, engaging nose of redcurrant/raspberry/cranberry fruit with considerable rosemary/thyme herbality. Almost peppery as well. It is mid-weight, so juicy and fresh with all kinds of flavour. The balance and length are excellent. Chillable.

Farina Montecorna Ripasso Valpolicella Classico Superiore 2019

Farina Montecorna Ripasso Valpolicella Classico Superiore 2019, Veneto, Italy
$19.95, Majestic Wine Cellars   
David Lawrason – This is a nicely gentle, smooth if marginally sweet ripasso with notable vanillin couching the bright cherry and floral notes. It is light to medium bodied with lively acidity, easy warmth and mild tannin — still showing some youth. Chill lightly.

Alejandro Fernández Dehesa La Granja 2016

Alejandro Fernández Dehesa La Granja 2016, Vino De La Tierra De Castilla Y León, Spain
$23.95, Trialto Wine Group Ltd.
David Lawrason – This classically styled red is 100 percent tempranillo from an estate vineyard near Zamora. It was aged two years in barrel and further in bottle. The nose shows a generous nose of savoury dried herbs/fennel, caraway, leather and dried fruit. It is medium-full bodied, smooth, warm and quite rich. Chill a bit.
Sara d’Amato – A highly approachable yet traditional expression of tempranillo from Castilla y Leon that has been aged two years in barrel and, until now, in the bottle. Pleasantly revealing with tannins almost fully resolved and a wealth of ripe red fruit enhanced by gentle spice. An undeniable treat for the price.

Tenuta San Guido Le Difese 2020, Castagneto Carducci,

Tenuta San Guido Le Difese 2020, Castagneto Carducci, Tuscany, Italy
$43.95, Sylvestre Wine & Spirits
Megha Jandhyala – Le Difese represents an excellent opportunity to dip one’s feet into Tenuta San Guido’s impressive repertoire, which includes the celebrated Sassicaia. The 2020 vintage is sangiovese-led, with captivating, supple fruit, delicate herbs and spice, and a silken, refined texture. Though approachable now, it can be cellared for 4–5 years.

And that is a wrap for this edition. With Vintages now on its pared-down summer release schedule, and the entire WineAlign team heading to B.C. for the National Wine Awards of Canada from June 23 to 29, we will not be publishing a newsletter review of the Vintages June 24 release, although we hope to taste and publish some notes on our return in early July. We will also post any June 10 Online/Flagship Exclusives that come our way.

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.

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

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