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!