For this release I’ve chosen a smaller set of wines than usual, but the quality level is very high. I count six of the eleven wines as “90 point” wines or higher, which for me is an extremely high accolade. The other five are very good too, and hold some real interest.
I begin with three red wines. First is the 2008 Donatella Cinelli Colombini Brunello Di Montelcino. 2008 was a cooler vintage in Tuscany, which means that acidity is potentially high, and full ripeness required the best vineyard sites — and this is a very successful example. Second is a 2013 Pinot Noir from Elk Cove in Willamette, followed by a pretty 2013 Fleurie from Domaine des Nugues.
The whites begin with a very good example of Crémant de Bourgogne, the non-vintage N° 21 Brut from Jean-Charles Boisset. Then I’m very pleased to present three brilliant Canadian Rieslings in three rather different (though delicious) styles: the 2012 Charles Baker Picone Vineyard from Vinemount Ridge in Niagara, the 2014 Culmina Decora Riesling from the southern Okanagan, and the 2014 Tawse Sketches of Niagara from the Niagara Peninsula.
The final four whites take us on a whirlwind tour of regions and grape varieties from around the world. The 2014 Loggia Della Serra Greco di Tufo from Terredora in Campania is a remarkable value, and you’ll see my excitement about it in my review. This is followed by the 2013 Sauvignon Blanc from Marlborough producer Clos Henri, and a 2014 Pinot Gris from Alsace, the Schlumberger Les Princes Abbés. I end with an interesting “wine discovery” suggestion, an intriguing dry and aromatic Moschofilero from Domaine Skouras, a highly respected winery based in the Peloponnese.
2008 DONATELLA CINELLI COLOMBINI BRUNELLO DI MONTALCINO DOCG
Vintages #113357 • $44.95 • 750ml. • 92/100This is a fine 2008 Brunello from the well-regarded Donatella Cinelli Colombini. The wine is rather deep (though still translucent) ruby-red with definite garnet on the rim. Ripe and drying sour cherry, plum and dusty violet aromas are underpinned by notes of leather, wet clay, earth and mushrooms. Brisk acidity and elevated but fine tannins frame the palate, where the fruit and floral elements retain more freshness than the nose suggests, adding a hint of orange zest, while the leathery-earthy components recede just a little. This is a lovely and elegant wine, with complexity and depth. It is a real treat to be able to purchase a slightly older vintage.
Tasted March 4, 2016 • LE SOMMELIER INC. (Agent) • Find it at your nearest LCBO • Share Recommendation
2013 ELK COVE PINOT NOIR, Willamette Valley
Vintages #234534 • $42.95 • 750ml. • 90/100The wine is still a youthful medium ruby-red, with a light pink rim. The nose is dominated by floral and fruit aromas — pretty cherry, raspberry and blackberry — complemented by a light savoury, leafy and earthy note and a suggestion of vanilla and oak spice. Crisp acidity balances the fine, chalky tannins, and the fruit has pleasant tart and ripe elements that lead into a crushed rock minerality on the finish. This is a convincing expression of Willamette.
Tasted March 19, 2016 • B AND W WINES (Agent) • Find it at your nearest LCBO • Share Recommendation
2013 DOMAINE DES NUGUES FLEURIE AC
Vintages #447219 • $24.95 • 750ml. • 88/100The wine is medium ruby-red, with hints of violet on the rim. Vibrant blackberry, black cherry and black currant fruit aromas, both tart and ripe, form the core of the nose, with notes of forest floor, dry earth and a whiff of black pepper. The wine is dry, with brisk acidity and modest alcohol, and slightly chalky tannins. There is some concentration of fruit on the palate (much firmer than a basic Beaujolais), some breadth that suggests at least modest barrel aging, and a stony minerality that lingers on the finish. A good cru Beaujolais.
Tasted March 19, 2016 • AMV - WHIZ TRADING LRD (Agent) • Find it at your nearest LCBO • Share Recommendation
JCB N° 21 BRUT CRÉMANT DE BOURGOGNE, Méthode Traditionnelle, AC
Vintages #371831 • $27.95 • 750ml. • 89/100This Crémant de Bourgogne from Jean-Charles Boisset ticks off all the boxes for me. There is some yeast, toast and nutty-almond character surrounding the pleasant lemon and apple fruit. It is almost dry, with brisk acidity that turns the modest sweetness into a creamy richness on the palate, and that carries the tart fruit into the lingering finish. Very good indeed.
Tasted March 4, 2016 • CHARTON HOBBS INC (Agent) • Find it at your nearest LCBO • Share Recommendation
2012 CHARLES BAKER PICONE VINEYARD RIESLING, VQA Vinemount Ridge, Niagara Peninsula
Vintages #241182 • $35.20 • 750ml. • 92/100The 2012 edition of Charles Baker's Picone Vineyard Riesling elevates this highly successful wine to a new level. Bright aromas of lime, lime blossoms and green apples complement a stony minerality, with an underlying note of chemical-rubber. While the wine is technically off-dry, the crisp, piercing acidity largely masks the residual sugar, infusing the palate with mouth-watering freshness, then gathering into a honeyed base that underlines the tart citrus and crushed rock minerality on the lingering finish. Focused, linear and exhilarating.
Tasted March 4, 2016 • STRATUS VINEYARDS (Agent) • Find it at your nearest LCBO • Share Recommendation
2014 CULMINA DECORA RIESLING, BC VQA Okanagan Valley
Vintages #444836 • $24.95 • 750ml. • 90/100This is a fine dry Riesling from Donald Triggs' Culmina winery. While the aromas centre on lime, apple, apple blossoms and grapefruit, there is a hint of a chemical-rubber note that turns into a chalky minerality as the bouquet expands. The wine is dry, with very elevated acidity and balanced alcohol — certainly not austere on the attack, although the acidity continues to unfold and comes to the fore on the mid palate. The wine finishes with tingling, stony minerality. I was surprised to find such a compelling Riesling from this far south in the Okanagan. But the combination of altitude, high in the western hillside south of Oliver, and the deft handling of the vineyard and harvest, have created an expressive and piercingly direct Riesling. Very good indeed.
Tasted March 4, 2016 • FAMILY WINE MERCHANTS INC. (Agent) • Find it at your nearest LCBO • Share Recommendation
2014 TAWSE SKETCHES OF NIAGARA RIESLING, VQA Niagara Peninsula
Vintages #89029 • $17.95 • 750ml. • 89/100The Tawse Sketches of Niagara Riesling continues to deliver good value. You will find a pretty, complex, aromatic nose: aromas suggest honey and beeswax, then apple blossoms, ripe red apples, lime, lemon, melon and white peach. The wine is significantly off-dry, with high acidity that keeps the wine nicely balanced. Crisp, fresh fruit replays on the palate, building into a long, tart, mineral finish. A pleasing "sweet-tart" rendition of Niagara.
Tasted March 19, 2016 • TAWSE WINERY INC. (Agent) • Find it at your nearest LCBO • Share Recommendation
2014 TERREDORA DI PAOLO LOGGIA DELLA SERRA GRECO DI TUFO DOCG
Vintages #983197 • $19.95 • 750ml. • 91/100Greco (along with Fiano) is one of the great white grapes of Campania, and one of its finest expressions is from the Greco di Tufo DOCG, the origin of this wine. Although the wine is lightly aromatic, with fruit aromas suggesting lemon, melon and yellow apples, the non-fruit elements — an herbal (almost minty) note, an earthy minerality, and an undertone of blanched almonds — took precedence on the nose. The wine is bone dry, with crisp acidity and modest alcohol, and yet despite its crisp and dry structure, it carries a sense of richness and density on the palate. Here the slight earthiness recedes, and the fruit displays its vibrant youthfulness, although the finish returns its mineral and almond-tinged base. This is lovely to drink now, but the nose is suggesting a little of its path going forward. Put one or two away to see how this evolves over the next three to six years. A great value for an ageworthy wine.
Tasted March 4, 2016 • HALPERN ENTERPRISES (Agent) • Find it at your nearest LCBO • Share Recommendation
2013 CLOS HENRI SAUVIGNON BLANC, Marlborough, South Island
Vintages #675629 • $28.95 • 750ml. • 90/100The wine presents a classic, vibrant, high-intensity New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc nose, with earthy bell pepper and herbal aromas, backed by yellow grapefruit, apple and melon fruit notes. The wine is dry, with high acidity, very slightly elevated alcohol, and a rich, full body that has a slightly creamy texture. On the palate the bell pepper takes on an earthier jalapeno note with a suggestion of mint and dry herbs, while the grapefruit and apple flavours and a crushed stone minerality dominate the finish. This is a big, bold and juicy Sauvignon Blanc.
Tasted March 4, 2016 • CHARTON HOBBS INC (Agent) • Find it at your nearest LCBO • Share Recommendation
2014 DOMAINES SCHLUMBERGER LES PRINCES ABBÉS PINOT GRIS, AC Alsace
Vintages #21253 • $21.95 • 750ml. • 89/100The wine is light yellow, with a complex nose suggesting white flowers, lemon, red apple and peach, all floating over a base of honey and beeswax. The wine is dry with some noticeable residual sugar, checked by slightly elevated acidity. The pleasant, ripe fruit on the palate has some richness, and carries to the finish with a streak of bitterness that Pinot Gris often exhibits. This is a pleasant wine, representing its Alsatian origins nicely, and is a very good value.
Tasted March 4, 2016 • VINEXX (Agent) • Find it at your nearest LCBO • Share Recommendation
2014 SKOURAS MOSCHOFILERO, PGI Peloponnese
Vintages #442178 • $17.95 • 750ml. • 88/100Moschofilero is a very aromatic (usually darker-skinned) grape from the central Peloponnese in Greece, and this is a very nice introduction to it. The wine is a light straw colour, with a very fragrant and complex nose that suggests rose petals, peach blossoms, ripe peach, apricot and Meyer lemon, complemented by crisp, stony minerality. The wine is dry, with very modest alcohol and elevated acidity. The fruit and floral notes replay on the palate, where a slightly bitter apricot pit note nicely contrasts with the firm acidity that carries into a long, aromatic finish. I think this qualifies as a "wine discovery" wine, that will take you a little off the beaten path. Excellent value.
Tasted March 4, 2016 • THE KOLONAKI GROUP INC (Agent) • Find it at your nearest LCBO • Share Recommendation