The July 11, 2015 Vintages release brings a lot of interest, especially with white wines. But before I present some of those in later posts, I will begin here with a beautiful Amontillado Sherry, and then present six very good sparkling wines.
In subsequent posts about this release I will feature some Chardonnays in anticipation of the 2015 I4C, Niagara’s International Cool Climate Chardonnay Celebration, a set of other white wines from more or less “mainstream” varieties, and a set of “adventure wines”, white wines from varieties that most consumers are less familiar with.
Amontillado is a sherry that started life as a fino (aging “biologically” under flor), and then was allowed to continue aging oxidatively as the flor died off. In this case we have a grand old sherry with an average age of at least 30 years, as signified by the term Vinum Optimum Rare Signatum (VORS).
GONZALEZ BYASS DEL DUQUE VORS AMONTILLADO, Vinum Optimum Rare Signatum, DO
Vintages #694331 • $38.95 • 375ml. • 93/100What a nose! It is intense, with aromas reminiscent of rich oily walnuts, toffee, caramel, dates, raisins, dried apricots, toasted almonds and coffee, and yet there is still a sense of freshness that gives a glimmer of a more youthful time. The wine is fully dry, with brisk acidity and high alcohol (21.5%) that certainly generates some heat on the palate. It's rich and smooth, with mouth-filling flavours of nuts, dried fruit and old wood. This is an amazing wine and a very fine value.
Tasted June 26, 2015 • WOODMAN WINES & SPIRITS (Agent) • Find it at your nearest LCBO • Share Recommendation
I don’t think there is any room for a concept of “too much sparkling wine”. In this release we have a very good assortment of well-priced sparklers, including a local “ancestral” from Hinterland, two traditional method wines from Chile and Burgundy made with traditional Champagne grapes, two Cavas which are also traditional method, and a frizzante Lambrusco red.
2014 HINTERLAND ANCESTRAL SPARKLING, VQA Ontario
Vintages #426023 • $25.00 • 750ml. • 88/100Hinterland is the Prince Edward County winery that specializes in sparkling wine. The Ancestral is a modern take on the méthode ancestrale, the original way of making sparkling wine by capturing CO2 from the primary fermentation. My understanding is that here this happens in a tank fermentation prior to bottling, since there is no sediment in the wine. This is a bright pink, gamay-based wine with an effusive nose suggesting strawberries, cherries, red apples and apple blossoms. The wine is fresh and crisp, still off-dry but not cloying at all — to my perception, at least, it has become a little drier over the past few years, and this has brought balance and focus. A fine patio sipper.
Tasted June 26, 2015 • HINTERLAND WINE COMPANY LTD. (Agent) • Find it at your nearest LCBO • Share Recommendation
CORDILLERA PINOT NOIR BRUT BLANC DE NOIR, Méthode Traditionnelle, Curicó Valley
Vintages #404129 • $25.95 • 750ml. • 89/100From the Chilean operation of Miguel Torres, we have this excellent Blanc de Noir made from Pinot Noir. The nose is fresh and bright, suggesting white flowers and apple blossoms, green apples, lemon, strawberries and light brioche notes. The wine is brut/dry, with crisp acidity, well-balanced, with a fine mousse, and a fresh and lengthy finish. Well-priced for a serious sparkler.
Tasted June 26, 2015 • FAMILY WINE MERCHANTS INC. (Agent) • Find it at your nearest LCBO • Share Recommendation
LOUIS BOUILLOT PERLE D'AURORE BRUT ROSÉ CRÉMANT DE BOURGOGNE AC
Vintages #48793 • $19.95 • 750ml. • 88/100This is a blend of Pinot Noir, Gamay and Chardonnay all from Burgundy. The wine is light salmon in colour, and the nose suggests strawberries, red apples and apple blossoms, and yeasty bread notes. The wine is brut, with just a suggestion of residual sugar balanced with good acidity. The palate is pleasantly fruity and crisp, with a firm but not harsh texture. This is a very good Crémant de Bourgogne at a very fair price.
Tasted June 26 and July 7, 2015 • CHARTON HOBBS INC (Agent) • Find it at your nearest LCBO • Share Recommendation
This Lambrusco is a much lighter and prettier wine than the heavier, more intense and almost earthy 2013 MEDICI ERMETE & FIGLI ARTE E CONCERTO LAMBRUSCO reviewed for the June 27 release.
2013 CANTINA DI CARPI E SORBARA OMAGGIO A GINO FRIEDMANN LAMBRUSCO DI SORBARA DOC
Vintages #419101 • $14.95 • 750ml. • 88/100The Lambrusco di Sorbara variety usually makes the lightest and most delicate Lambruscos, and that is reflected here. The wine is a lighter pinky-red, with a nose reminiscent of fresh strawberries, apple blossoms, red apples, white flowers and even a lightly toffee-covered apple. With its elevated acidity, the wine is very dry and the crisp mousse is lively and fresh. Very attractive indeed.
Tasted June 26and July 7, 2015 • GARAGE WINE COMPANY (Agent) • Find it at your nearest LCBO • Share Recommendation
I’ll end with two very good Cavas. The first is an incredible value, far above the mean in terms of interest and complexity, but at a very reasonable price. The second is at the very top level, but bears the burden of a premium price equivalent to that of many of the grower’s Champagnes we see here. Because of that comparison, it is a difficult purchasing decision, but nevertheless stands on its own merits.
2011 JUVÉ & CAMPS CINTA PURPURA RESERVA BRUT CAVA, DO Cava
Vintages #352864 • $18.95 • 750ml. • 89/100This Cava is made from all three of the Cava varieties: Macabeo, Xarel-lo and Parellada. It displays quite ripe fruit, light lemon and yellow apple and white flower aromas, with a light toasty brioche note. It is brut, with crisp, elevated acidity, but the fruit and toast lengthen and deepen on the palate, and the toasty notes extend to a pleasantly long finish. Highly recommended.
Tasted June 26 and July 7 2015 • VIN VINO WINE MERCHANTS INC. (Agent) • Find it at your nearest LCBO • Share Recommendation
2006 GRAMONA III LUSTROS GRAN RESERVA BRUT NATURE CAVA, DO Cava
Vintages #413963 • $49.95 • 750ml. • 92/100This Xarel-lo based wine (75%, with the balance Macabeo) aged at least six years on lees before disgorgement. The wine is medium straw-yellow, with a fine and persistent mousse. The nose is lovely: toasted brioche, a hint of caramel apple, ripe and slightly bruised yellow apples, and rich lemon with some florality and a nutty toasted almond nuance. The wine is bone dry and crisp yet the bottle evolution has brought a surprising generosity and almost softness that contrasts with obvious acidity. What a lovely wine, and if you abstract from your possible preconceptions about the pricing of Cava, this is a fine purchase. Highly recommended.
Tasted June 26, 2015 • TRIALTO WINE GROUP LTD. (Agent) • Find it at your nearest LCBO • Share Recommendation
Part 2 continues with a sample of Chardonnays and a brief introduction to the I4C, the annual International Cool Climate Chardonnay Celebration held in Niagara, this year from July 17-19, 2015.