Shine On?Friday, September 06, 2013 by: Vin Greco
Here we are, at the end of summer – well, it is after Labour Day – and I find myself speculating once again, on what the LCBO is laying out for us in the next week or so.
The up-coming Vintages release, set for September 14, puts the focus - or “Shine” as they put it - on Ontario wines: ironically, for us here in the Sault, the LCBO seems to be snubbing us, as only two of the 19 wines featured are destined to be released here.
In our case, unfortunately, the wattage is pretty dim.
But to the release.
In the Vintages catalogue, a number or restaurateurs are interviewed, and, when asked which wines typify Ontario’s best, they generally identify Riesling, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Cabernet Franc.
I agree with them, for what it’s worth, as these are all grapes which grow best in a cool climate such as ours.
The sole Riesling scheduled for the Sault is from Flat Rock Cellars for $16.95.
It is in the style that I enjoy best: that is, off-dry.
Ed Madronich, President and chief Cheerleader, is truly dedicated to providing excellent wines at respectable prices; though summer is on the wane, this would be a great wine to enjoy when we are afforded one last warm and sunny day – honey and grapefruit together in a glass.
I would like to try Flat Rock Cellars’ Good Kharma Chardonnay, $16.95, described as “full-bodied and rich”.
If it delivers at this price, it’s a bargain, but you will have to place a private order by Tuesday if you hope to find it here.
Call 759-7740 to make your request.
The sole red Ontario wine destined for the Sault on this release is the Vintage Ink Mark of Passion Merlot-Cabernet 2010, $17.95.
A blend of 56% Merlot, 25% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 19% Cabernet Franc, this wine has decent reviews.
I expect it to show decent fruit in a blend reminiscent of St. Emilion, perhaps.
Despite the fact that may of those interviewed for the catalogue identified Cabernet Franc as a grape that is expressed very well in Ontario, there is only one such Cabernet Franc in the wines on the release.
It comes from Cooper’s Hawk a relatively new enterprise in the Lake Erie North Shore region.
It may be a very good wine, but at $39.95 a bottle, I have to scratch my head a little at this price for a wine with no track record or pedigree.
I think of a similar new enterprise in France, Chateau d’Angles La Clape, where the impressive wine is under $15 a bottle, and this from the man who was recently director of Chateau Lafite Rothschild, producer of one of Bordeaux’s – and the world’s – most prestigious wines. I reserve judgment.
If you’re interested in trying some of the best of Ontario wines,
Taste Ontario! ‘walk-around tasting’ is being held in Ottawa on October 7 and in Toronto on October 10 from 6:30 to 9:00 P.M.
Tickets are $65 per person, and can be purchased from Vintages at 1-800-266-4764.
Ontario aside, two whites that interest me are the Pfaffenheim Pinot Gris 2011, $14.95, from Alsace, and the False Bay Peacock Ridge Chenin Blanc 2012, $14.95, from South Africa.
Alsatian Pinot Gris tends to be satisfyingly spicy, rich, and just off-dry, and a gold-medal winner like this is very good value at this price.
Chenin Blanc, a grape usually associated with the Loire region of France, has found a niche in South Africa, and this offers a great opportunity to try a fulsome example of a wine that is often ignored or under-rated.
The red wines this month lead me to Nebbiolo, and more specifically, Barolo.
Nebbiolo is the primary vitus vinafera, or noble grape, associated with Piedmont in the north of Italy.
The name is associated with the Italian word for fog, which may reflect on the weather at time of harvest or on the grayish tinge that the grapes take on in maturity.
“Barolo” is the best region of production for this grape, and the wines can be relatively pricy; however, there is one on the regular list from Batasiolo, $4.00 off until September 15 for $25.95, and another you can order in on the September release, the Gemma, at $29.95.
Given that most Barolos run from $35 to $60 and much, much, much more, this is a chance to explore the product to determine if it suits you.
“Tar and roses” are common descriptors for Barolo, and the wine usually benefits from some bottle-aging.
If you’re drinking it young, it is wise to decant and let it aerate for a few hours. In fact, some writers in the past have suggested that the wine often tastes better a couple of days after opening than it did when first decanted.
When it’s properly mature, it develops a brick red tinge along with suppleness and depth. One sip will linger on and on.
We are also receiving 12 bottles of the Giuseppe L’Aurelio Nebbiolo d’Alba 2010, $20.95.
Again, lay it down for a couple of years, or decant for a few hours.
It received a good review from Ontario’s reliable winecurrent.com, accentuating the tannic structure, but recognizing an enticing interplay of dark fruit.
The only wines of significant quantify being shipped to us on the 14th are from Argentina.
Alamos Syrah 2012 is a good bet at $13.95, featuring the grape that has been rising in popularity, either under its European identity as Syrah or its Australian alter-ego, Shiraz.
This will be a good “red meat” wine, whatever you want to call it.
Zuccardi’s - think Fuzion - Santa Julia Magna 2011, an interesting blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec and Syrah, is a great buy for $14.95.
The Robert Parker crew bestows a cornucopia of delicious fruity descriptors on it and gives it a 90.
Among the wines still plentiful on the shelves in Vintages, Barco de Piedra 2011, $17.00 from Spain is also highly praised by Parker, who says it is “full-bodied, elegant, complex, and on a fast maturity curve.”
Until September 15, worth exploring is Broquel Malbec, $2 off at $12.95.
Now on the general list, it was very popular in Vintages where it used to be $15.95.
If you have a sweet tooth, consider California’s Pedroncelli Four Grapes Vintage Port, 2006, $3,90 off at $16.05 for 500 ml.
While they should be scolded for still using the term, “Port”, which should be reserved exclusively for the product from Oporto in Portugal, we get the idea they are trying to communicate about the style.
To be fair, the grapes used are exclusively Portuquese varietals such as are found in the authentic version.
It will be moderately sweet with deep plum and coffee notes, and would pair well with the traditional Stilton.
While the Vintages selection is more limited this time round, our options are still plentiful, and I’m sure we will be content with the quality.