I found a rather wide-ranging selection of white wines from the Vintage September 5 release that I wanted to review. There are three Rieslings, including a value-packed local Riesling from Flat Rock Cellars, and two dynamic and brilliant Mosel Rieslings. These are followed by five Chardonnays: two excellent local offerings, two from Chablis, and one from Napa. My “WineDiscovery” pick is an intriguing Viognier-Marsanne blend from Australia, followed by three Sauvignon Blancs and a Muscadet. Red wines follow in Part 2.
All three Rieslings are interesting and compelling in their own right, but the third, the 2009 Studert-Prüm, is both an amazing wine and a stunningly good value.
FLAT ROCK RIESLING 2014, VQA Twenty Mile Bench, Niagara Peninsula
Vintages #43281 • $16.95 • 750ml. • 88/100This is a fresh and juicy Niagara Riesling. The wine is light straw, with crisp minerality, pleasant red apple, lemon-lime and white flower aromas. It is quite off dry, and the lively acidity does a fairly good job balancing the residual sugar. Well-priced.
Tasted Aug 21, 2015 • FLAT ROCK CELLARS (Agent) • Find it at your nearest LCBO • Share Recommendation
CLEMENS BUSCH MARIENBURG KABINETT RIESLING 2013, Prädikatswein
Vintages #424234 • $28.95 • 750ml. • 90/100Here is a textbook medium-sweet Mosel Kabinett Riesling. You will find honeyed aromas of red apples, apple blossoms, lemon, lime and honeydew. Acidity is high, balancing significant residual sugar, leaving the wine rich and honeyed, yet light bodied and full of stony minerality. Quite lovely. Drink now or cellar for five to ten years.
Tasted Aug 21, 2015 • HALPERN ENTERPRISES (Agent) • Find it at your nearest LCBO • Share Recommendation
STUDERT-PRÜM GRAACHER HIMMELREICH SPÄTLESE RIESLING 2009, Prädikatswein
Vintages #409680 • $21.95 • 750ml. • 91/100This is an exceptional Mosel Riesling, classified as a Spätlese or late harvest wine. This has a gorgeous Riesling nose: the beginnings of mineral-rubber character, with honey, red apples, lemon and grapefruit overlaying a slatey minerality. The wine tastes more off-dry than sweet, with high acidity balancing significant residual sugar. With just the beginnings of bottle age showing on the palate, the wine still remains fresh and crisp, with a honeyed overlay, and a savoury note on the finish that intrigues. It's hard to believe that this is a 2009. Complex and beguiling.
Tasted Aug 21, 2015 • VINEXX (Agent) • Find it at your nearest LCBO • Share Recommendation
Here are five rather diverse Chardonnays. I particularly recommend the two local Niagara wines, and the premier cru Chablis is very fine. But my “value” pick is the base Chablis, showing just how good such wines can be. The Napa Chardonnay is a good bet for those who like the warmer, riper expression of Callifornia.
HIDDEN BENCH CHARDONNAY 2013, VQA Beamsville Bench, Niagara Peninsula
Vintages #68817 • $28.95 • 750ml. • 90/100This is a rich, slightly creamy Ontario Chardonnay, with lots of oak spice and vanilla framing fresh lemons and red apple, with baked yellow apples and a contrasting herbal-savoury tone. Brisk acidity keeps the wine taught and elegant, and while another year or two in bottle will further soften the wood influence, it is integrating nicely and doesn't mask a streak of stony minerality that builds on the finish. Drink now, or hold for three to five years.
Tasted Aug 21, 2015 • HIDDEN BENCH VINEYARDS (Agent) • Find it at your nearest LCBO • Share Recommendation
HENRY OF PELHAM ESTATE CHARDONNAY 2013, VQA Short Hills Bench, Niagara Peninsula
Vintages #268342 • $19.95 • 750ml. • 89/100This is a well-rounded Niagara Chardonnay. Elevated acidity nicely balanced a cream and yoghurt texture, with subtle yellow apple, lemon, white peach and floral notes backed by a touch of oak spice, walnuts and vanilla. This is a very good value, and is certainly ready to enjoy now. But anther year in cellar should allow the wood component to fully integrate.
Tasted Aug 21, 2015 • HENRY OF PELHAM FAMILY EST. WINERY (Agent) • Find it at your nearest LCBO • Share Recommendation
DOMAINE LOUIS MICHEL & FILS FORÊTS CHABLIS 1ER CRU AC 2012
Vintages #231936 • $39.95 • 750ml. • 91/100Premier Cru Chablis is always worth seeking out and trying — often one of the best values in premium white wine — and this is no exception. Aromas of green apples, lemon, lime and white flowers, with a leesy-yoghurt note, are underlaid by an impression of crushed rocks. The palate is crisp and firm, and doubles down on the mineral elements, and yet there is some creamy richness that provides some breadth, and carries the lemon and apple fruit. This is a lovely and harmonious wine.
Tasted Aug 21, 2015 • H.H.D. IMPORTS (Agent) • Find it at your nearest LCBO • Share Recommendation
JEAN-MARC BROCARD CHABLIS AC 2014
Vintages #424820 • $21.95 • 750ml. • 89/100This wine shows how good base Chablis can be. It has a typical Chablis nose suggesting lemon-lime, green apples and stony minerality. Acidity drives the crisp and stony palate, that has just enough fruit and texture to stop short of austerity.
Tasted Aug 21, 2015 • PREVEDELLO AND MATHEWS (Agent) • Find it at your nearest LCBO • Share Recommendation
FRANCISCAN CHARDONNAY 2013, Napa Valley
Vintages #496125 • $24.95 • 750ml. • 89/100This is a very affordable Napa Valley Chardonnay. It is light straw-yellow, with oak spice aromas preceding lemon, yellow apple and white flowers, with just a hint of butter. The wine is dry, with brisk acidity, balanced alcohol and a rich and creamy texture. All-in-all, with its controlled wood usage and pleasant ripeness, it is an attractive expression of Napa.
Tasted Aug 21, 2015 • CONSTELLATION BRANDS INC. (Agent) • Find it at your nearest LCBO • Share Recommendation
My “winediscovery” wine is this interesting Viognier-Marsanne blend from Australia.
D'ARENBERG THE HERMIT CRAB VIOGNIER-MARSANNE 2013, McLaren Vale, South Australia
Vintages #662775 • $19.95 • 750ml. • 89/100While most wine lovers are very aware of Australia's affinity for growing Rhône red varieties such as Syrah, Grenache, Mourvèdre, they may be much less aware of a tradition of growing Rhône white varieties, Viognier but also some Marsanne. So this Viognier-Marsanne blend is an excellent opportunity to embark on some "winediscovery". The wine is light straw with glints of yellow. On the nose I found aromas of white flowers, lemon, yellow apple, a spicy note, and a hint of resin that reminded me of turpentine — by no means what you think of as typical Viognier. On the palate the flavours drove more into a typical range, adding white peach and apricot notes, a honeyed richness, broad, deep and quite complex. This is an interesting wine, well worth the price of tasting.
Tasted Aug 21, 2015 • CHURCHILL CELLARS LTD. (Agent) • Find it at your nearest LCBO • Share Recommendation
All three of the following Sauvignon Blancs are worth purchasing. But for pure value, the third one from Chile should be considered, while the first, from Saint-Bris in Burgundy, may particularly intrigue you because of its origins.
BAILLY LAPIERRE SAINT-BRIS SAUVIGNON BLANC AC 2014
Vintages #424655 • $19.95 • 750ml. • 89/100I always feel obliged to mention that Saint-Bris is the only Burgundian appellation that both allows and requires Sauvignon Blanc (or Sauvignon Gris). Nor should the potential success of the grape here be surprising, given that Sancerre and Pouilly Fumé are just a hop, skip and a jump to the west, with similar climate and geology. This is a very good example: with a fresh and pretty nose of sweet lemon-lime, grapefruit and white flowers, with a light herbaceous element suggesting cut grass and green peppers. The palate is crisp, fresh and stony — liquid limestone and crushed rocks — with the fruit receding slightly to the background. Very attractive.
Tasted Aug 21, 2015 • VINEXX (Agent) • Find it at your nearest LCBO • Share Recommendation
PAUL PRIEUR ET FILS SANCERRE AC 2014
Vintages #350421 • $26.95 • 750ml. • 88/100This is a nicely made Sancerre. The aromas focus on lemon, green apples and crushed rocks, with just a hint of cut grass that lets you know the grape variety. It is dry, with elevated acidity and moderate alcohol, and while it has a little more generosity and breadth than I expected, the palate still shows its minerality from start to finish.
Tasted Aug 21, 2015 • CARTO ENTERPRISE (Agent) • Find it at your nearest LCBO • Share Recommendation
BOYA SAUVIGNON BLANC 2014, Leyda Valley
Vintages #389726 • $14.95 • 750ml. • 88/100Here is a very good value Sauvignon Blanc. It is herbaceous and vegetal, to the point where it's almost earthy. Then there is lime and green apple, with a stony minerality. It is dry and crisp, without much generosity but very fresh and clean. It grows on me as I taste it further.
Tasted Aug 21, 2015 • SYLVESTRE WINES & SPIRITS INC. (Agent) • Find it at your nearest LCBO • Share Recommendation
Finally, Muscadet remains one of the best-value white wines available. It is a real workaday essential for lovers of fish and shellfish, with its cuttingly direct, fresh and tangy presence. And those qualities make it a terrific refresher and pick-me-up, so It is always worth keeping a bottle or two at the ready.
DOMAINE LA HAUTE FÉVRIE SUR LIE MUSCADET SÈVRE & MAINE AC 2014
Vintages #390625 • $13.95 • 750ml. • 88/100This is a very good value Muscadet. Aromas of bright lemon-lime, green apples and white flowers are backed by crushed rock minerality. The wine is dry, with high acidity, and very modest alcohol. Fruit and floral flavours reappear on the palate, with nuance of zesty yoghurt, but it the stony minerality takes over from the mid palate to the finish.
Tasted Aug 21, 2015 • CONNEXION OENOPHILIA (Agent) • Find it at your nearest LCBO • Share Recommendation