From the June 11 Vintages release in Ontario, I found a number of interesting red wines from Spain and France, and a unique rosé from South Africa. The Spanish wines include a 2011 Mencia from Bierzo, and three Tempranillo-based wines: a 2005 Ribera del Duero, a 2012 Costers del Segre and a 2010 Rioja. The French wines include a 2012 Crozes-Hermitage, a 2013 Gigondas, a 2014 Côte de Beaune from Maranges, and a 2014 Chinon. The rosé is a rare bird indeed, a 2015 from Stellenbosch, made with Petit Verdot.
The Mencia from Bierzo intrigued me for several reasons. You may be aware of the story — that prior to the 1990s, the wines made from the indigenous Mencia grape in Bierzo and neighbouring areas of north-western Spain were simple, fruity and light-coloured, probably from over-cropped and highly fertile vineyards. But in the 1990s, as old vineyards were rediscovered and enhanced, yields were lowered, and modern winemaking was embraced, the potential of the grape began to be realized. But this wine intrigues me because for my taste it has taken that road a step too far. It is very highly concentrated and extracted, with luxurious oak treatment that together shout “winemaking” rather than “terroir”. So while I still think that It’s an excellent wine, I know that many will appreciate it much more than I do. Food for thought!
CARRACEDO TINTO MENCÍA 2011, DO Bierzo
Vintages #167718 • $29.95 • 750ml. • WD Score 89.5/100The wine is deep, dense ruby-purple, and the suggestion of extreme extraction in the appearance carries over to the nose and palate. The nose is intense, beginning with coffee and vanilla-flavoured oak spice, then ultra-ripe and dense blackberry, black currant and plum fruit. The wine is dry, with slightly elevated acidity and elevated alcohol, with fine and firm tannins and a full body. On the palate the oak recedes a little, leaving the ripe black fruit, with a light menthol note peeking through, while the coffee and vanilla notes gather again on the finish. Many will find this luxuriously made wine highly attractive.
Tasted June 8, 2016 • TRADESA CORP. (Agent) • Find it at your nearest LCBO • Share Review
All three of the following Tempranillo-based reds bring excellent value.
BALBAS RESERVA 2005, DO Ribera del Duero
Vintages #85183 • $22.95 • 750ml. • WD Score 90/100This is an interesting Tempranillo blend (supplemented by 10% Cabernet Sauvignon) whose surprising youthfulness belies its age. The wine still shows some purple mixed with ruby-red, and woody dust and resin notes on the nose underlie blackberry and black cherry fruit with a light menthol lift. Firm acidity balances the elevated alcohol, with ripe and softening tannins. The body is full, and the fruit on the palate has a hint of freshness despite the remarkably slow evolution towards savoury and balsamic flavours. I would guess that the wine has been "refreshed" with younger wine to the maximum limit, but that shouldn't prevent enjoyment of the wine, especially at this attractive price level. Very approachable and appealing.
Tasted June 8, 2016 • TRADESA CORP. (Agent) • Find it at your nearest LCBO • Share Review
CASTELL DEL REMEI GOTIM BRU 2012, DO Costers del Segre
Vintages #982736 • $19.95 • 750ml. • WD Score 88.5/100The Catalunyan DO Costers del Segre is a set of scattered vineyard regions situated well inland, north of Priorat. This wine is a typical blend from the area, a mix of Spanish and international varieties: 30% Tempranillo, 25% Garnacha, 25% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Merlot and 5% Syrah. You'll find ripe red and black fruit on the nose, reminiscent of cherries, raspberries, blackberries and plums, with some vanilla, toast and cinnamon, and (perhaps surprisingly, given the overall ripeness) a very light green herb note. Elevated alcohol is balanced by slightly elevated acidity and fine tannins. The juicy fruit on the palate leads to a pleasant finish. This is accessible and ready to drink now — a great easy-drinking candidate for summer barbeques.
Tasted June 8, 2016 • PREVEDELLO AND MATHEWS (Agent) • Find it at your nearest LCBO • Share Review
LÓPEZ DE HARO CRIANZA 2010, DOCa Rioja
Vintages #377481 • $15.95 • 750ml. • WD Score 88.5/100This Tempranillo, supplemented by small amounts of Garnacha and Graciano, features red and black fruit on the nose: red cherries, raspberries and blackberries, with a sprinkling of baking spice, and hints of oaky dust and black olives. Firm acidity and fine tannins frame the bright fruit on the palate, with the savoury notes very much in the background, a light cedary undertone, and a lightly tannic finish. A very good value indeed.
Tasted June 8, 2016 • WINEONLINE MARKETING COMPANY LTD (Agent) • Find it at your nearest LCBO • Share Review
The first two French wines are fine examples from the northern and southern Rhône.
DOMAINE BELLE LES PIERRELLES CROZES-HERMITAGE AC 2012
Vintages #451880 • $27.95 • 750ml. • WD Score 90/100This Syrah is deep, dense ruby-purple. Bright blueberry, blackberry and black currant fruit aromas are surrounded by violets, garrigue, scorched earth and stony minerality. Elevated acidity and fine but slightly gritty tannins provide the core strength behind the medium-full body, that carries the fruit and savoury elements into a lengthy, mineral finish. Wood influence is modest and well-integrated — and overall this Crozes-Hermitage is both stylish and approachable. Drink now or cellar for three to five years.
Tasted June 8, 2016 • TERRA FIRMA WINES (Agent) • Find it at your nearest LCBO • Share Review
OLIVIER & LAFONT GIGONDAS AC 2013
Vintages #452300 • $29.95 • 750ml. • WD Score 89/100This is a Grenache-dominant blend from Gigondas, with 20% Syrah and 10% Mourvèdre. Rich and ripe red and black fruit aromas fill the nose, suggesting strawberries, raspberries, blackberries and plums, with a light menthol lift, with dried herbs and pepper notes hovering in the background. The wine is big and bold, with balanced acidity, noticeable alcohol, elevated but fine tannins, and a full body. Ripe, rich, pleasing and approachable.
Tasted June 8, 2016 • VON TERRA ENTERPRISES LTD. (Agent) • Find it at your nearest LCBO • Share Review
Maranges is the most southern village appellation of the Côte de Beaune, and can be the source of less expensive but good quality Burgundies that are particularly suitable for drinking when young.
VALÉRIE & PHILIPPE JEANNOT MARANGES AC 2014, Côte de Beaune
Vintages #448845 • $27.95 • 750ml. • WD Score 88.5/100This is a village-level wine from Maranges AC in the Côte de Beaune. It looks and smells like modern Burgundy: medium-depth ruby-red, just hinting at garnet, with aromas of raspberry, cranberry, cherry and pomegranate fruit, a hint of orange zest, all over notes of dry leaves and earth. It is crisp, with fine tannins that lightly persist through to the finish. The bright and lively fruit fills the mid-palate, dancing over earthy, savoury and cedary undertones. This pleasant, zesty Burgundy gives lots of pleasure now, and I don't think I could resist drinking it over the next year or two — but it can certainly be aged for three to five years.
Tasted June 8, 2016 • MARCHANDS DES AMERIQUES INC (Agent) • Find it at your nearest LCBO • Share Review
I have a real soft spot for Chinon, and this example shows its youthful fruit along with a little of the herbaceous aspect of Cabernet Franc.
SOURDAIS CHINON AC 2014
Vintages #451898 • $16.95 • 750ml. • WD Score 87.5/100This is a bright, tart and lightly herbaceous Chinon — Cabernet Franc unadulterated — with no cover-up or makeup to hide its nature. Fresh and ripe blueberry, blackberry and plum fruit dominate the nose, with hints of green herbs, cedar and dry earth. The wine is dry, with brisk acidity and fine, persistent tannins. On the palate the ripe fruit is supplemented by a light menthol top note, slightly liqueured black cherry cough medicine, and deeper forest floor notes. If you like Cabernet Franc character, this is a great value indeed.
Tasted June 8, 2016 • IAN J CAMPBELL & ASSOC. (Agent) • Find it at your nearest LCBO • Share Review
Finally, this rosé from Rustenberg in Stellenbosch (see my brief article here) may possibly be the only one made from Petit Verdot, and it is certainly worth trying.
RUSTENBERG PETIT VERDOT ROSÉ 2015, WO Simonsberg - Stellenbosch
Vintages #451773 • $13.95 • 750ml. • WD Score 87.5/100Petit Verdot is an unusual grape with which to make rosé, but it actually makes sense if you want a rosé that shows some real colour. With just 45 minutes from crushing to pressing, the small, deeply-coloured grapes are able to impart a lovely medium salmon-pink colour to the wine. Aromas of cherry, raspberry, strawberry, watermelon, fragrant red apples and apple blossoms compose the attractive nose. The wine is dry, with medium alcohol and a medium-full body, and while the acidity is slightly elevated, I would have enjoyed just a touch more to bring this into full balance. A hint of tannic burr and some herbal-fennel notes on the palate add some complexity. All-in-all, a very good rosé at an excellent price.
Tasted May 27, 2016 and May 31, 2016 • WOODMAN WINES & SPIRITS (Agent) • Find it at your nearest LCBO • Share Review