Thursday, August 17, 2017

My Vintages Picks For September 2



Versatile French bubbly De Chanceny Brut Cremant from the Loire, $19.95, is painstakingly made like Champagne but using Chenin, Chardonnay and Cabernet Franc grapes. Nuances of flowers, apple, grapefruit, bitter lemon and toast with bright acidity (89). 
    Santa Anna Prosecco Superiore di Valdobbiadene, $19.95, is light and cheery (and superior!) with lemon curd-lime zest aromas preceding Bosc pear, apple and mineral flavor accents (88).
    Flat Rock Riesling 2015, $17.95, from the Twenty Mile Bench of Niagara offers a welcome whiff of those unmistakable oily mineral-petrol aromas of Germany’s classic Mosel Rieslings. It’s elegantly low alcohol at 9.5%, fresh with a touch of honeyed sweetness (93). 
    Capitel Croce 2015, $26.95, from the Venice area, available only in major LCBOs. Made by top producer Roberto Anselmi from Garganega, the grape of Soave, ultra silky smooth, ripe and almost buttery, offering orchard fruit aromas/flavors and a touch of beeswax (92).
    Pretty good in pink: Chanzy Vin de Provence-Coteaux Varois 2016, $15.95, is a mid-summer picnic cornucopia of super-ripe apricot, nectarine, pears, flowers and heather blossom, crisp and clean (90). 
    Chateau Gaby 2011, a Bordeaux red from Canon-Fronsac is 80% Merlot and 20% Cabernet Franc, $36.95, deeply concentrated and opulent, showing cedar, silky tannins, new leather and toasty oak (89). Enjoy now!
    Chateau Langlais 2000, $38.95, a Bordeaux from Puisseguin-Saint-Émilion already well aged! Showing evolved aromas of beef jus, black cherry, cigar box and old leather. Elegant and silky (92). 
    Pizza, pasta, picnics, burgers call for Casale del Giglio 2014, $18.95, from Lazio on Italy's west coast, made from Cesanese grapes, favorite tipple of the ancient Romans. Pleasantly fruity with raspberry, currants, violets and vanilla notes (88). 
    Treat yourself! A rarity (in Canada) from Sicily is Frappato 2015 made by Planeta, $24.95: vivid aromatics meld raspberries, pomegranates, black plums, roses, violets, minerals and cinnamon. Silky, salty, vibrant, smooth, irresistible flavors. Bring it on! (93).
    Lealtanza Reserva 2011, $19.95, offers great value with the classic ripe strawberry, vanilla, flowers and spiciness of Rioja, Mild tannins, fruity finish (91). 
    Blow the wad with Ornellaia 2013, the superTuscan from Bolgheri, $199.95 (hold that nickel!) Tightly knit, age-worthy Italian uber-red collectible to caress and use to tease your wine-loving buddies occasionally (97).
    Sweetly sexy Delaforce Vintage Port 2003, $77.95, is the classic dessert in a glass as well as mellow sipping nirvana (94), endless cassis, blackberry, plum, cherry and licorice. Tannins like satin. Now to 2030.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

It's All In The Balance: And Acidity Helps



Acids often get a bad rap. Acid tongue, acid rain, LSD, etc, and they also turn litmus paper red, remember? 

Some are corrosive, like hydrochloric, nitric, sulphuric; others are gentle, organic, like malic, lactic, citric, tartaric.

The last four are vital in winemaking.

It’s all about flavor balance and elegance, from sweet fresh-picked grapes to crisp well-made finished wines.   Some grapes and wines always pack an exciting buzz that prickles and cleans your palate. Their healthy acidity also wards off harmful bacteria and helps the wines age well.
    In warm regions, winemakers add a little tartaric, citric or malic to freshen a super-ripe harvest and avoid flabby wines.
    In cool areas like Ontario that’s not necessary. Good examples are two terrific white wines from Chateau des Charmes.
   
 First, the 2014 Old Vines Riesling, LCBO 277228, $18.95. This was among the first varieties pioneer Paul Bosc planted in Niagara and the grapes are from vines at least 20 years old. Crisp and unoaked, refreshing and delicious with an Old World aroma of flint, hints of white grapefruit and a ton of tangy lime zest (92)!
    
Equally, the 2016 Aligoté, a truly rare single variety in North America, is a great alternative to Chardonnay for the summer, LCBO 296848, $15.95 (91). Nuances of Granny Smith apple, Anjou pear and wet stone.  

Oh, and that great zippy acidity!

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Under New Ownership: Coyote’s (Re-)Run



A quality-focused, friendly, fun, dynamic Niagara winery with sustainability in mind. That’s Coyote’s Run, making small batch, handcrafted, estate-grown VQA wines.
    The St David’s operation is re-branding, with a shiny new website and new labels. Purchased in June, 2016 by a Toronto investor who loves high-quality VQA wine, it has a new head winemaker, Chris Protonentis, who worked alongside respected winemaker David Sheppard for three harvests and produced some of Ontario's best wine.
    A grad of the wine/viticulture program at Niagara College, Chris has made wine in Western Australia plus Niagara’s Stratus and Ridgepoint, including apassimento reds and an award-winning white Cabernet.
    Coyote’s Run is just 15 minutes away from Old Town Niagara-on-the-Lake with its lovely boutiques, stores and restaurants. The 65-acre property, in the flat, sprawling Four Mile Creek sub-appellation, grows Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir, Syrah, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.
    On the shore of what was ginormous Lake Iroquois in the last Ice Age 11,000 years ago, on one of the warmest sites in Niagara, the vineyard has two distinct soils; Red Paw, ancient red clay yielding bold, expressive wines; and Black Paw, dark, heavy clay that retains warmth and moisture delivering low yields and concentrated flavors.
    A great example of the latter is the 2015 Estate Syrah, $34.95. There’s only 200 cases of this thrilling example of rich, dark, smoky-tarry red with layers of blackberry, cassis and black plum, soon to be online and at the winery (93) or the sturdy Pinot Grigio 2016, $15.95, brimming with summer hay aromas, honeycomb, wet stone and orchard fruit notes (90), winery, online, LCBO.
    Coyote practices integrated pest management and precision viticulture focusing on canopy and environmentally sustainable viticulture. Grape pomace mulch increases organic material. Compost improves soil structure and adds nutrients. Cover crops include red clover, alfalfa and oil seed radish. Pruning, shoot tucking and positioning, leaf and fruit thinning are all done throughout the season to optimize fruit quality.
    Run, Coyote, run!   905-682-8310
    At the speed of digital flight, we now move to the Southwest of France for a pink and fruity moment: Chateau Clamens is a newbie at the LCBO, $18.95 for the delicious Cuvee Julie 2016, a rose of considerable charm (90).    A blend of the little known (around here) Negrette grape and the ubiquitous Syrah, it’s aperitif-perfect and heaven sent for light summer fare such as skewers, grilled meat or fish, salads and casual dining.
    Consistent winner of a slew of accolades, it’s berry-scented, dry and has a fresh citrus-apple tang. From Fronton, just north of Toulouse, the winery’s slogan is: “A thousand hours of sun, poured directly into your glass!” I’ll drink to that!