I begin this report with three very good-value sparkling wines. The first is an excellent 2016 vintage Champagne from H. Blin — certainly a premium price wine at $74.95, but a great value at that price for the quality. The other sparkling wines are excellent values in both price and quality terms: the 2009 Graham Beck Cap Classique, and the non-vintage Veuve Ambal Grande Cuvée Brut Rosé Crémant de Bourgogne.
These are followed by ten terrific whites, for which in all but one case I used the term “minerality”, or a substitute for it, in my description. The first two are the very good 2015 Assyrtiko from Argyros, and the 2014 Elevation St. Urban Vineyard Riesling from NIagara’s Vineland Estates. These are followed by five Chardonnays and three expressions of Sauvignon Blanc.
Three of the Chardonnays are from Burgundy: a 2013 Montagny 1er Cru from Bouchard Père et Fils, the 2013 Vosgros Chablis 1er Cru from Louis Robin, and the 2014 Maison Chanzy Rully en Rosey Blanc from Côte Chalonnaise. The final two Chardonnays are the excellent 2014 Vasse Felix Filius Chardonnay from Margaret River, and a fine local wine from Henry of Pelham, their 2014 Estate Chardonnay.
The Sauvignon Blancs present three very different expressions of the grape from the Loire, Northern Italy and New Zealand: The 2014 F. Tinel-Blondelet L’Arrêt Buffatte Pouilly-Fumé, the 2014 Cantina Andriano Floreado Sauvignon Blanc from Südtirol/Alto Adige and the 2014 Two Rivers Convergence Sauvignon Blanc from Marlborough.
H. BLIN MILLÉSIME BRUT CHAMPAGNE AC 2006
Vintages #299990 • $74.95 • 750ml. • 92/100This vintage 2006 Champagne shows the interest of somewhat older Champagne. On the nose some bruised apple character blends with lemon and fresher yellow apple fruit, with light, nutty, butterscotch, white chocolate and brioche notes. The wine is essentially dry, with high acidity softened slightly by a hint of residual sugar. The mousse has a very fine texture, and while the autolytic character builds on the palate, the lemon and apple fruit maintain a core of freshness. Lightly herbal and mineral notes join the long, crunchy finish. What exhilarating complexity! 50% Pinot Meunier and 50% Chardonnay.
Tasted April 1, 2016 • APPELLATION WINES (Agent) • Find it at your nearest LCBO • Share Recommendation
GRAHAM BECK BRUT ZERO 2009, Méthode Cap Classique
Vintages #435453 • $22.95 • 750ml. • 90/100This excellent Cap Classique from Graham Beck provides an amazing value for lovers of sparkling wine. The nose is complex: lightly toasty and nutty, with suggestions of dry herbs, green apples, lemon and caramel. Brisk acidity and no additional sugar in the dosage means that the character of the palate remains very firm and crisp, with the citrus and apple notes dominating the modest autolytic character. The finish is long, crisp and mineral. Fine complexity for the price. 78% Chardonnay and 22% Pinot Noir.
Tasted April 1, 2016 • VINEXX (Agent) • Find it at your nearest LCBO • Share Recommendation
VEUVE AMBAL GRANDE CUVÉE BRUT ROSÉ CRÉMANT DE BOURGOGNE , Méthode Traditionnelle, AC, Burgundy
Vintages #439257 • $20.95 • 750ml. • 89/100This attractive rosé Crémant de Bourgogne is a blend of Pinot Noir, Gamay and Chardonnay. The wine is a medium salmon colour, with a nose reminiscent of strawberries, apple blossoms, delicate red apples and lemon, a light toasty note and a hint of sponge toffee. Brisk acidity and modest alcohol are accompanied by a pleasant, mouth-filling mousse that adds some richness while keeping the berry-citrus fruit fresh and zingy. Quite lovely, and a great value.
Tasted April 1, 2016 • SYLVESTRE WINES & SPIRITS INC. (Agent) • Find it at your nearest LCBO • Share Recommendation
ARGYROS ASSYRTIKO 2015, PDO Santorini
Vintages #387365 • $22.95 • 750ml. • 90/100The wine is light straw, with a bracing stony-mineral nose — briny, fresh, lemon-tinged sea shells. Elevated acidity brings with it more lemon and apple fruit on the palate, but what intrigues me so much is that there is some weight on the palate that actually heightens the minerality that lingers forever. A very good example of Assyrtiko.
Tasted April 1, 2016 • THE KOLONAKI GROUP INC (Agent) • Find it at your nearest LCBO • Share Recommendation
VINELAND ESTATES ELEVATION ST. URBAN VINEYARD RIESLING 2014, VQA Twenty Mile Bench, Niagara Peninsula
Vintages #38117 • $19.95 • 750ml. • 89/100The Elevation Riesling is a very light straw, with a delicate nose suggesting lemon, apple, grapefruit, white flowers and honey. The wine is made in a medium sweet style with very low alcohol, although the very brisk acidity keeps the wine well balanced. The flavours burst on the palate — rich, perfumed red apples and lemon-grapefruit with chalky minerality underneath and a slight hint of chemical-rubber that foretells a future evolution. This is drinking very well now, but will age gracefully for many years.
Tasted April 1, 2016 • VINELAND ESTATE WINES LTD., (Agent) • Find it at your nearest LCBO • Share Recommendation
BOUCHARD PÈRE & FILS MONTAGNY 1ER CRU AC 2013
Vintages #653683 • $29.95 • 750ml. • 90/100This Montagny is light straw-yellow, and features aromas of lemon and yellow apples, white flowers, with a lightly reductive-smoky nuance with stony minerality. Brisk acidity balances the lightly rich and creamy body, with hints of barrel spice underpinning the pleasant fruit, and the minerality building on the finish. There is enough complexity here to make this of real interest — a good value in a fairly basic Burgundy.
Tasted April 1, 2016 • WOODMAN WINES & SPIRITS (Agent) • Find it at your nearest LCBO • Share Recommendation
LOUIS ROBIN VOSGROS CHABLIS 1ER CRU AC 2013
Vintages #445304 • $31.95 • 750ml. • 90/100This wine has a chalky-mineral, citrus-apple nose, made more complex with some lees and beeswax notes, and perhaps just a hint of oak. High acidity and modest alcohol frame the medium body that has a slight lactic creaminess. The palate holds the fruit flavours very lightly, and the underlying chalky minerality carries into a slightly saline finish. I love the way that this wine combines a subtle complexity with the pure directness of Chablis. This is an excellent value for a 1er Cru Chablis.
Tasted April 1, 2016 • CONNEXION OENOPHILIA (Agent) • Find it at your nearest LCBO • Share Recommendation
VASSE FELIX FILIUS CHARDONNAY 2014, Margaret River, Western Australia
Vintages #416511 • $24.95 • 750ml. • 90/100The wine pours straw-yellow, with tart lemon and green apple fruit aromas surrounded by subtle notes of vanilla, cedar, flint and crushed rock. The wine is bone dry, with fresh acidity, modest alcohol and a medium body. The palate is fresh and clean, with a slightly creamy texture that carries the apple and lemon fruit into the crisp and stony finish. I really appreciate the firm structure, and the lovely, balanced fruit and minerality. Excellent value for this terrific wine.
Tasted April 1, 2016 • B AND W WINES (Agent) • Find it at your nearest LCBO • Share Recommendation
MAISON CHANZY RULLY EN ROSEY BLANC 2014, Côte Chalonnaise
Vintages #446286 • $26.95 • 750ml. • 89/100This is a pleasant and direct wine. The nose fills with smoky resin, vanilla, yellow apples and lemons. The palate is fresh and crisp, surprisingly tart and mineral, and full of life. This doesn't hold back at all, and is a very good, modern (but refined) expression of Côte Chalonnaise .
Tasted April 1, 2016 • TASTEVIN SELECTIONS (Agent) • Find it at your nearest LCBO • Share Recommendation
HENRY OF PELHAM ESTATE CHARDONNAY 2014, VQA Short Hills Bench, Niagara Peninsula
Vintages #268342 • $19.95 • 750ml. • 88.5/100Henry of Pelham's dependable Estate Chardonnay has hit the Vintages shelves again. The nose is slightly resinous, but still shows lots of fresh lemon and apple fruit, white flowers and crushed rock minerality. The wine is nicely balanced, with elevated acidity, a creamy texture and lovely apple-citrus notes. This is quite elegant, and very drinkable now, but another year in bottle will help integrate those woody notes and let the core shine unimpeded. A fantastic price-value ratio.
Tasted April 1, 2016 • HENRY OF PELHAM FAMILY EST. WINERY (Agent) • Find it at your nearest LCBO • Share Recommendation
F. TINEL-BLONDELET L'ARRÊT BUFFATTE POUILLY-FUMÉ AC 2014
Vintages #169730 • $24.95 • 750ml. • 90/100This is a lovely old world expression of Sauvignon Blanc. The nose is all about the chalky minerality, with very little fruit except for hints of lemon, lime and apple. Fresh acidity, modest alcohol and a medium body define the palate, with just a little richness that keeps the wine from complete austerity, followed by a lengthy, chalky-lime finish. A very good Pouilly Fumé.
Tasted April 1, 2016 • THE CASE FOR WINE (Agent) • Find it at your nearest LCBO • Share Recommendation
CANTINA ANDRIANO FLOREADO SAUVIGNON BLANC 2014, DOC Südtirol/Alto Adige
Vintages #435396 • $19.95 • 750ml. • 90/100Here is a compelling expression of Sauvignon Blanc from the northern Italian region of Südtirol (Alto Adige) in the Southern Alps and Dolomites near the Adige river. Aromas of apples, lemons, white flowers and dry herbs nicely foretell the palate, where I also found light herbal notes — more earthy than green, with no shrillness — and stony, saline minerality. Crisp acidity drives the palate, where a slight creaminess adds weight to the moderate alcohol, and a light phenolic bitterness carries into the mineral finish. A very good wine at a terrific price.
Tasted April 1, 2016 • B AND W WINES (Agent) • Find it at your nearest LCBO • Share Recommendation
TWO RIVERS CONVERGENCE SAUVIGNON BLANC 2014, Marlborough, South Island
Vintages #277707 • $23.95 • 750ml. • 90/100This is a charming expression of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc. The wine is watery white with glints of straw. The pretty nose of grapefruit and hay is underlined by dry herbs and a hint of earthiness. The wine reads as dry, although the high acidity may hide a nuance of residual sugar. Bright grapefruit dominates the palate, while grassy and herbal notes sit underneath the fruit. The long, stony finish is fresh and clean. Very good indeed.
Tasted April 1, 2016 • BGS INTERTRADE LTD. (Agent) • Find it at your nearest LCBO • Share Recommendation