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Picking and choosing

Picking and Choosing Earlier this week, I read an on-line article in the Wine Spectator by noted writer, Matt Kramer, who identified the characteristic that best described the kinds of wines he sought out for his cellar as “particularity”
Picking and Choosing
Earlier this week, I read an on-line article in the Wine Spectator by noted writer, Matt Kramer, who identified the characteristic that best described the kinds of wines he sought out for his cellar as “particularity”.
Basically, he seeks out distinctive wines, often from “single vineyards”, with noted character that are, relatively speaking, affordable.
When it comes to “collecting” wine, I am at the stage that I am not interested in wines that can lie in wait for the long haul: there’s no point in having wines that are going to out-live me, thank you very much.
That said, I probably wouldn’t mind kicking myself, 20 years from now, because I didn’t lay in a case of 2011 Vintage Port from one of the great houses.
Finding the “particular” wines calls for paying attention and doing some homework, and while we are generally at the mercy of the LCBO, we can find  distinctive wines on consignment or private order from the various importers plying their trade in our province.
A good example, currently, is Dominio de Pingus Flor de Pingus from the Ribera del Duero region in Spain, the second wine of “Pingus”, a highly collectible old-vine red made by Danish winemaker Peter Sisseck.
The 2009 Pingus can be had for about $850 U.S., if you can find it, but the 2010 Flor de Pingus, with a 94 from Stephen Tanzer International Wine Cellar, is now on offer from the Profile Wine Group for $119.95 a bottle – minimum order of 6, and delivery and HST extra.
Contact Allan Leal at if you want to pursue this:  though exceptional, it is not inexpensive… but then again, it is all relative – bottom line, it has particularity.
If you do opt in, invite me over for a glass!
Most of the time, I am tempted to purchase either something “tried and true” or “something new”.
The Cave de Rasteau la Domelière 2012, $17, is a consistently reliable, tried and true Côtes du Rhone red produced from vines that are 40 years old on average, which usually translates into very good fruit.
The climate is Mediterranean, the primary grape Grenache, and therefore fruity, and this vintage is particularly flavourful with dark fruit and herbal notes.
Looking for something new at times demands a little homework, doing some cross-referencing for re-assurance perhaps, or it means taking note of new products from vineyards that already have great reputations.
Kabang Red 2011, $19.95, on the next “Vintages” release, is a new creation from Stratus in Niagara-on-the-Lake.
While the label featuring a cartoon character bushwhacked by an exploding cigar might be a little startling, it nevertheless is a clue to the depth of flavour this wine offers.
The iconic Stratus Red retails for $44, and each year goes through a series of blind tastings to determine the blend or ‘assemblage” for that vintage – excellent wines are often left available for other purposes, which may partially explain the creation of Kabang.
While the blend is very similar to a Bordeaux, there is also 21% Syrah, and this results in  Rhone- like characterisitcs, with deep dark fruit, a mint-like note, and lovely smooth balance: at $20 it is a Stratus bargain.
You never know when you will find something new, and that was the case  when I visited the St. Jacob’s Market and discovered Between the Lines Family Estate Winery from Niagara, only in its fourth year of operation.
I had a quick taste of their Cabernet Franc and their Rosé and was favourably impressed with both – the flavour depths were spot-on, and their prices $15 -$16 fair –but at present you have to buy the wine directly from the winery – or at the market!
We are unlikely to see any wines at our farmers’ markets unless and until the rules change, as all wines offered for sale have to leave the winery the day of the market, and any product left must return to the winery the same day.
Vintages July 19 Release will be on our shelves July 21.
From Campania, Mastroberardino Greco di Tufo 2012, $20.95, will be a perfect wine for the season with peach/apricot notes and good acidity – a Wine Enthusiast  90.
Domaine Bellevue Touraine Sauvignon Blanc 2012, $13.95, with a 16/20 from jancis is a gold-medal Loire “must” for those who treasure this grape.
Ontario’s Featherstone winery has a well-received 2013 Sauvignon Blanc for $17.95 with “well-defined flavours” and “structure and complexity” according to Ontario writer Rod Phillips.
Argentina’s juggernaut Zuccardi’s Serie A Chardonnay/Viognier 2012 blend, $14.95, should be a summer hit with lush peach and pineapple notes.
Renzo Masi Chianti Riserva 2009, $15.95, is a sure bet, with the Wine Spectator scoring it a 91 acknowledging its textbook tobacco, cherry, almond complexity, and suggesting it will drink well over the next 6 years.
If Barossa’s Small Gully Mr. Black’s Little Book shiraz 2011, $17.95, is true to form, it will deliver rich and ripe dark berry and cherry flavours that persist for pure enjoyment.
Earlier vintages of Manos Negras Malbec had me going back for more, and so I trust that the 2012, $15.95, will be equally tasty with almost caramel-like overtones – in other words, yummy.
Two Hands Sexy Beast Cabernet Sauvignon 2012, $25.95, may well make the Wine Spectator’s ‘Top 100’ list for 2014, with the 93 it received because it “has depth and presence, and the finish doesn’t quit.”
WildAss Rosé from Stratus has always been one of the most flavourful wines of this type, and this holds true with the 2013, $17.95 – a deeper pink in colour with a coppery tinge, the wine is tasty, mouth-filling and persistent – try it with barbecued shrimp!
Gassier Sables d’Azur Rosé 2013, $14.95, from Provence offers a contrast to the WildAss, with its paler tones, herbal nuances, and elegance – a quality sipper.
So, go forth, and find something you like!