In this second post for the November 14 Vintages release, I present six premium reds. I begin with the 2012 Stratus Red, one of Niagara’s finest Bordeaux-style blends. This is followed by two excellent Pinot Noirs, the 2013 Cloudy Bay from Marlborough, and a 2013 Marsannay. The final three wines are a Saint-Émillion, a Barbaresco and a Brunello.
2012 STRATUS RED, VQA Niagara-on-the-Lake
Vintages #131037 • $44.20 • 750ml. • 92/100The newly released Bordeaux-style blend (29% Cabernet Sauvignon, 26% Merlot, 26% Cabernet Franc, 13% Petit Verdot, 3% Malbec, and 3% Tannat), is perennially one of Niagara's finest, and this may be the best to date. It shows as very youthful deep purple in the glass, with a vibrant, complex nose suggesting rich cherry, blackberry and black currant fruit, supplemented by vanilla, cedar, fresh herbs and dry earth. The palate is dense and rich, with just-elevated alcohol, balanced acidity, and firm, grippy tannins. Black currant and ripe plum fruit power through the palate, with baking spices and dry earth leading into a long, drying finish. Tannins are still fierce, and need some time to integrate — cellar for 3-5 years at least. So if you are tempted to drink this in the shorter term, you should decant.
Tasted Oct. 23, 2015 • STRATUS VINEYARDS (Agent) • Find it at your nearest LCBO • Share Recommendation
2013 CLOUDY BAY PINOT NOIR, Marlborough, South Island
Vintages #598813 • $44.95 • 750ml. • 90/100This is a youthful Marlborough Pinot Noir from Cloudy Bay that nicely represents its origins. You'll find that ripe but fresh cherry and berry New Zealand nose, with a pleasant earthy undertone. The palate is nicely balanced, with the lightly chalky tannins and elevated acidity holding the alcohol in check, while fruit, earth and a vanilla note linger on the acid-chalk finish. Lovely stuff.
Tasted Oct. 23, 2015 • CHARTON HOBBS INC (Agent) • Find it at your nearest LCBO • Share Recommendation
2013 DOMAINE CHARLES AUDOIN AU CHAMP SALOMON MARSANNAY AC
Vintages #429134 • $49.95 • 750ml. • 90/100Here is a good Pinot Noir from Marsannay, at the extreme northern end of the Côte de Nuits. It is youthful ruby-red, with a ruby-pink rim. Notes of fresh berries, cherries, twigs and earth fill the nose, and replay on the palate with a bracing, crisp freshness. Moderate tannins have just enough presence to provide a gentle frame. All in all, this is just a lovely mouthful of Burgundy.
Tasted Oct. 16, 2015 • FBM INC. (Agent) • Find it at your nearest LCBO • Share Recommendation
2000 CHÂTEAU HAUT CORBIN, AC Saint-Émilion Grand Cru
Vintages #425439 • $58.95 • 750ml. • 90/100Yes, this is a premium-priced wine, but it is from the very strong vintage of 2000, and is drinking well now. The wine is a deep, dark ruby-garnet, showing garnet on the narrow rim. You will find evolved leathery notes, with drying remnants of blackberry, black currant and plum fruit over cedar and dusty earth. Acidity is elevated, alcohol is balanced, and while the tannins have softened, there is still a pleasant chalky residue. The leathery and dried fruit flavours continue on the palate, with some of the plum and berry notes retaining a ripe freshness. Dry fruit, cedar and earth linger on the finish. Buy this for a treat — the cellaring has been done for you, and while you can hold this for some years, enjoy the experience now!
Tasted Oct. 23, 2015 • MARK ANTHONY BRANDS (Agent) • Find it at your nearest LCBO • Share Recommendation
2011 PAITIN SORI' PAITIN BARBARESCO DOCG
Vintages #106591 • $48.95 • 750ml. • 91/100This is a lovely Barbaresco. Vibrant blackberry and dried cherry fruit, baking spice and a hint of violets expand on the nose. Acidity and alcohol are elevated but balanced. The fine tannins cushion the bright fruit flavours, that take on a richer plum note along with a lightly earthy tone, and drive the wine into its precise, compact finish. Great stuff, that can cellar for many years, but is quite approachable in the shorter term.
Tasted Oct. 23, 2015 • GROUPE SOLEIL (Agent) • Find it at your nearest LCBO • Share Recommendation
2008 RUFFINO GREPPONE MAZZI BRUNELLO DI MONTALCINO DOCG
Vintages #926402 • $49.95 • 750ml. • 92/100This 2008 Brunello is showing some tawny-orange on the rim, suggesting that evolution is well under way. And yes, the nose reflects this, with dried cherry and berry notes, leather, and a rich, earthy backdrop. It's complex, slightly volatile with a hint of vinyl, but lovely nevertheless. On the palate the cherry fruit is fighting for life against the inevitable change into dried fruit extract and leather, helped by the bright acidity. And while the tannins are softening, they are still very evident. Quite a wonderful wine, and worth the price. I'd be happy to drink this now, though I'm sure it would be worth observing the changes of the next five years or more.
Tasted Oct. 16, 2015 • CONSTELLATION BRANDS INC. (Agent) • Find it at your nearest LCBO • Share Recommendation