Buyers Guide to VINTAGES – April 28th

The Pacific Northwest, Germany and Much More
By David Lawrason, with notes from John Szabo, Michael Godel and Sara d’Amato

David Lawrason

David Lawrason

There are two themes in VINTAGES April 28 release: wines of the Pacific Northwest (including B.C.), and wines of Germany. Both are potentially exciting features and goodness knows both regions can make great wines, but the WineAlign team found the selections rather underwhelming on this occasion. It is the same old story of VINTAGES buying to a specific, moderated $18 to $25 price point that takes a lot of the more interesting wines out of consideration. The problem hits American wines hard, as they are already battling difficult exchange rates.

I was primed for the Pacific Northwest selection following the terrific Oregon wine event in Toronto in mid-April, brilliantly conceived and executed by Toronto’s own Will Predhomme (also a WineAlign National Wine Awards judge). An in-depth terroir-based trade seminar moderated by our John Szabo highlighted differences in Oregon sub-apps (many of which feature volcanic soils, of course). Fans of Prince Edward County pinots, for example, will love the pinots from the Eola-Amity Hills AVA that get maximum Pacific cooling influence through a break in the coastal hills called the Van Duser Gap.

There is no doubt that Oregon – that now boasts almost 700 wineries and over 30,000 acres under vine (numbers virtually the same as all of Canada) – has built up a strong cache of leading-edge if notably expensive wines. There are in particular some great pinots and chardonnays being made – and they are drilling deeply into terroir. But none of VINTAGES offerings really caught that buzz, except for the intriguing Osoyoos-Larose 2014 from B.C.

Likewise, Germany is also hotbed of next generation of innovation, precision, terroir wines and great value! Not just with classic rieslings, but with the pinot family of grape varieties originating in Burgundy, like pinot noir (spatburgunder), pinot gris (grauerburgunder) and pinot blanc (weissburgunder) that prosper in the warmer Pfalz and Baden regions. VINTAGES six-wine selection acknowledges this trend, but again the offerings – all under $20 – are competent but hardly compelling. And so, people will try and buy, and not be particularly blown away, and not likely to return to the “category”. How on earth does Germany get ahead? Certainly the LCBO general list selection scrapes the bottom of the vat, none making the cut in the last annual Toronto Life Eating and Drinking Guide I compile every autumn.

Last week in Part One, John assembled a collection of mineral driven wines in recognition of a new book called “Vineyards, Rocks, and Soils: The Wine Lover’s Guide to Geology”. There are some hot picks in case you missed them. This week we offer some recommendations from the Pacific Northwest, Germany and other wines that caught our fancy.

Buyers Guide to VINTAGES April 28th

Pacific Northwest

Pearce-Predhomme 2016 Pinot Gris Yamhill-Newburg, Willamette Valley, Oregon, USA ($28.40 – Consignment)
John Szabo – I failed to find any Pacific North West wines to recommend in this themed release, but this wine, available in consignment, is surely worth a mention. The combination of a French winemaker with 30 years experience in the US, and the vision of Will Predhomme, a sommelier who knows what Willamette Pinot Gris should taste like, and importer Nicholas Pearce who knows what the markets wants and needs, have come together to create one of the best examples I’ve tasted in some time. It’s bone dry and succulent, but also fleshy and generous, with signature aromas of ripe citrus (orange, tangerine), apples and delicate florality. It’s exactly the kind of wine I often reach for in my cellar for its versatility at the table – no wood but lots of substance, richness and acids. (12/cs, Nicholas Pearce Wines)…

There are 16 more VINTAGES Release recommendations this week that are currently only available to our premium members. This complete article will be visible to all members 30 days after publication. We invite you to subscribe today to unlock our top picks and other Premium benefits.

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That’s a wrap. Enjoy your release-day shopping.

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.

Lawrason’s Take
Szabo’s Smart Buys
Michael’s Mix
Sara’s Sommelier Selections

New Release and VINTAGES Preview