My focus in Part 2 of my release report is a selection of five terrific non-Canadian white wines that I think provide exceptional quality and value, with two of my favourites coming from South Africa. Two bonus wines at the end are a very good dry rosé from Luberon and an off-dry but crisp Prosecco.
The Rustenberg Chardonnay is a highlight: one of the best Chardonnays for under $20 that I have tasted in recent memory.
RUSTENBERG CHARDONNAY 2014, WO Stellenbosch
Vintages #598631 • $19.95 • 750ml. • 90/100This Chardonnay from South Africa features attractive aromas of lemon, apple and melon fruit, with sweet vanilla, a hint of smoky oak, and flinty minerality. The wine is dry, with fresh acidity, balanced alcohol, and a medium-full body. On the palate the oak and vanilla notes are integrating nicely into the lemon-apple core of fruit, and the slightly creamy texture is balanced by acidity and minerality on the finish. This is a terrific Chardonnay, priced very attractively.
Tasted May 13, 2016 • WOODMAN WINES & SPIRITS (Agent) • Find it at your nearest LCBO • Share Recommendation
It is interesting to compare the Rustenberg above with the Oatley Chardonnay below, which focuses more on reductive minerality and less on richness and breadth.
ROBERT OATLEY SIGNATURE SERIES CHARDONNAY 2014, Margaret River, Western Australia
Vintages #350900 • $18.95 • 750ml. • 88.5/100This is a very pleasant Chardonnay, with aromas of lemon, apple and white peach surrounded by slightly flinty, smoky and oak spice notes. It is dry, with crisp acidity, modest alcohol, and a medium-full body, that maintains lemon, grapefruit and apple fruit in a crisp and mineral frame, with vanilla and oak-spice underpinnings. An excellent value.
Tasted 13-May-2016 • EPIC WINES AND SPIRITS INC. (Agent) • Find it at your nearest LCBO • Share Recommendation
This is an expressive South African take on Chenin Blanc.
OLDENBURG VINEYARDS CHENIN BLANC 2014, WO Stellenbosch
Vintages #443358 • $20.95 • 750ml. • 89/100The wine is lightly reductive, with smoky-mineral notes, then bright floral notes and fruit aromas of lemon, apple, white peach and pineapple. It is dry, with high acidity, elevated alcohol, and a rich texture. There is a little more toasty oak presence on the palate, and the citrus notes are slightly sour-edged, with beeswax underneath. This is a very good expression of South African Chenin Blanc.
Tasted 24-May-2016 • WINEMOVES (Agent) • Find it at your nearest LCBO • Share Recommendation
Soave is often ignored and forgotten, but I am certain that this wine will pique your interest, and I know that it will provide you with incredible value.
PIEROPAN SOAVE CLASSICO DOC 2014
Vintages #946848 • $17.95 • 750ml. • 89/100This fine Soave from Pieropan has 15% Trebbiano di Soave to supplement the Garganega. Aromas of white flowers, dry herbs, lemon and apple fill the nose, with undertones of bitter almond and crushed stones. The wine is dry, with crisp acidity and moderate alcohol. I like the surprisingly rich texture that contrasts nicely with a light phenolic bitterness and minerality that rises on the finish. Excellent value and a good example of Soave.
Tasted 13-May-2016 • VON TERRA ENTERPRISES LTD. (Agent) • Find it at your nearest LCBO • Share Recommendation
This final white wine, a dry Furmint from Hungary, is a little off the beaten path for many, but is well worth exploring.
PUKLUS PINCÉSZET TOKAJI DRY FURMINT 2014, Tokaj-Hegyalja, Hungary
Vintages #445718 • $16.95 • 750ml. • 89/100While Furmint is best known as the grape in Tokaji dessert wines, it is also used to make interesting table wines, and this is a very nice example. The wine is lightly floral, with peach blossom and rosewater notes, and fruity aromas reminiscent of apricot, white peach and grapefruit. While the wine is off-dry, the brisk acidity masks much of the residual sugar, allowing the wine to read as rather dry. Alcohol is modest, and while the palate has some richness from the residual sugar, it remains crisp and fresh, with a slightly bitter apricot pit note underneath, and savoury-herbal flavours that complement the fruit. All in all, this is an excellent wine, and should be on anyone's "winediscovery" list.
Tasted 13-May-2016 • KARL K KOVACS AGENCIES (Agent) • Find it at your nearest LCBO • Share Recommendation
I’m on a bit of a mission to highlight some of the best rosé wines this summer, and this Luberon is another one of my picks.
CHÂTEAU VAL JOANIS TRADITION ROSÉ 2015, AP Luberon
Vintages #707281 • $15.95 • 750ml. • 88.5/100The wine is pale orange, with a nose suggesting aromas of red apples, cherries and pink grapefruit, with a light floral note. The wine is dry, with crisp acidity, moderate alcohol and a medium body, with just a whisper of tannin. The apple, grapefruit and cherry fruit reappear on the palate, which finishes crisply with a little stony minerality. Very good value.
Tasted 24-May-2016 • ALLEGRO WINE IMPORTS (Agent) • Find it at your nearest LCBO • Share Recommendation
Finally, Prosecco is an excellent go-to wine for summertime, and I think readers will be pleased with this example.
BELCANTO DI BELLUSSI PROSECCO DI VALDOBBIADENE SUPERIORE DOCG
Vintages #53215 • $19.95 • 750ml. • 88/100This is a textbook Prosecco. It pours a very light straw colour with a frothy mousse, and medium bubbles with some persistence. It has aromas of lemon, green apple and white peach fruit, with a light floral note. The wine is off-dry, but has such bright acidity that the wine stays fresh and crisp. Lower alcohol and body allow the crispness to wash through the palate, and the wine finishes with a fresh and lightly mineral character. Very good.
Tasted 13-May-2016 • MAJESTIC WINE CELLARS (Agent) • Find it at your nearest LCBO • Share Recommendation