I have highlighted nine very attractive sparkling and white wines from the June 11, 2016 Vintages release in Ontario. The three traditional method sparkling wines include the fine Californian non-vintage Chandon Blanc de Noirs, a 2010 South African Cap Classique Brut Rosé from Graham Beck, and a 2011 Brut Nature Gran Riserva Cava from Sumarroca.
The white table wines feature two Canadian Rieslings: the 2015 Nadja’s Riesling from Flat Rock Cellars, and Tawse’s 2014 Sketches of Niagara Riesling. Three Chardonnays are headed by a third Canadian wine, the 2013 Estate Bottled Chardonnay from Cave Springs Vineyards. This is followed by the 2014 Flametree Chardonnay from Margaret River, and a very good 2009 Premier Cru Chablis from Jean Dauvissat. The final white wine is a textbook Sancerre, the 2014 Chaumeau-Balland & Fils Domaine La Grande Maison Sancerre.
DOMAINE CHANDON BLANC DE NOIRS , Méthode Traditionnelle, California
Vintages #419374 • $30.95 • 750ml. • 90/100This traditional method sparkler, from the California subsidiary of the French Champagne house Moët & Chandon, is a blanc de noirs — that is, a white wine made from the black grapes Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. It is rich and toasty, with aromas of sweet brioche, lemon, ripe apple and delicate white floral tones. The wine is just off-dry, although the brisk acidity keeps the palate crisp and firm. The toast, brioche and vanilla notes dominate the palate, although the crisp lemony flavours still balance the richness. Chandon continues to excel with this non-vintage offering.
Tasted May 27, 2016 • CHARTON HOBBS INC (Agent) • Find it at your nearest LCBO • Share Recommendation
GRAHAM BECK BRUT ROSÉ 2010, WO Western Cape, Méthode Cap Classique, South Africa
Vintages #4085 • $21.95 • 750ml. • 90/100Méthode Cap Classique is the regulated South African term for traditional method sparkling wines, and Graham Beck has been a very consistent producer of these wines for our market. This 2010 rosé is another fine example. The wine is 80% Pinot Noir with the balance Chardonnay, but rather unusually the gapes are co-fermented and vinified as a rosé, rather than blended after fermentation. The wine is a medium salmon-orange colour, with pretty aromas of lemon, strawberry and raspberry fruit, surrounded by a firm base of toast and brioche. The wine is dry, softened with a touch of residual sugar that adds richness to the palate, but is essentially masked by the brisk acidity. The crisp lemon and berry fruit lead into a drying finish. Nicely structured, with a pleasant toasty character that allows the fruit to shine.
Tasted May 27, 2016 • VINEXX (Agent) • Find it at your nearest LCBO • Share Recommendation
SUMARROCA GRAN RESERVA BRUT NATURE CAVA DO 2011
Vintages #393504 • $18.95 • 750ml. • 88/100This is a very dry Cava, without added sugar in the dosage when the wine is topped up after disgorgement — hence the term "Brut Nature". It displays a core of lemon and yellow apple fruit aromas, that may reflect the Chardonnay component, with white flowers, a light herbal and earthy tone underneath, and some toasty notes. The wine is crisp, with the light toasty and bready flavours on the palate that surround a focused citrus-lemon core. Very good Cava.
Tasted May 27, 2016 • NOBLE ESTATES WINES & SPIRITS INC. (Agent) • Find it at your nearest LCBO • Share Recommendation
FLAT ROCK NADJA'S VINEYARD RIESLING 2015, VQA Twenty Mile Bench, Niagara Peninsula
Vintages #578625 • $24.95 • 750ml. • 89/100I always look forward to the latest edition of the consistently interesting Nadja's Vineyard Riesling. The 2015 is watery white, and the glass fills with delicate aromas of lime, red apple and delicate peach, with apple blossoms. The wine is decidedly off-dry, but the crisp, fresh acidity and the sweet but tart fruit balance the palate very well, and the low alcohol keeps the palate so very delicate and light. Perhaps not a typical Nadja's, but a very good effort indeed.
Tasted May 27, 2016 • FLAT ROCK CELLARS (Agent) • Find it at your nearest LCBO • Share Recommendation
TAWSE SKETCHES OF NIAGARA RIESLING 2014, VQA Niagara Peninsula
Vintages #89029 • $17.95 • 750ml. • 89/100The wine is watery white with hints of straw. A light rubbery-petrol note precedes delicate apple blossoms, lemon, red apple, honeydew melon and white peach aromas. While off-dry, the wine has fresh acidity that yields a sweet-tart palate: crisp, pretty, lively and nicely balanced. Always a very good value.
Tasted May 27, 2016 • TAWSE WINERY INC. (Agent) • Find it at your nearest LCBO • Share Recommendation
CAVE SPRING CELLARS ESTATE BOTTLED CHARDONNAY 2013, Cave Spring Vineyard, VQA Beamsville Bench, Niagara Peninsula
Vintages #256552 • $18.95 • 750ml. • 89/100This is the fourth re-release of this fine local Chardonnay, and I'll quote my original review (and score) from the original July 11, 2015 release. "This wine is fresh and vibrant, with a modest oak-spice frame underpinning aromas of fresh lemon, green apple and white flowers, that still allows a stony minerality to peek through. The wine is bone dry, with elevated acidity, nicely balanced with a little yoghurt texture, that adds richness and slightly softens the crisp fruit and mineral notes on the palate. Good length. Perhaps my favourite Cave Spring Chardonnay from the recent vintages I am familiar with." My updated comments are that I found a little more smokiness on the nose, and additional light butterscotch notes on the palate. But crispness and minerality still hold firm. A great value indeed.
Tasted May 27, 2016 • CAVE SPRING CELLARS LTD., (Agent) • Find it at your nearest LCBO • Share Recommendation
FLAMETREE CHARDONNAY 2014, Margaret River, Western Australia
Vintages #446724 • $24.95 • 750ml. • 89/100This is a very nice example of Margaret River Chardonnay. The wine is light straw-yellow, lightly herbal, with lemon, green apple, and light oak spice and vanilla. Bone dry, with brisk acidity, the firmness of the structure is balanced by a light creamy texture, while the fresh lemon and apple fruit carry into the stony-mineral finish. Very good effort.
Tasted May 27, 2016 • BRAND NEW DAY WINES & SPIRITS (Agent) • Find it at your nearest LCBO • Share Recommendation
JEAN DAUVISSAT VAILLONS VIEILLES VIGNES CHABLIS 1ER CRU AC 2009
Vintages #457002 • $49.95 • 750ml. • 90/100The wine is medium-yellow, consistent with its six years in bottle. The nose is slightly oxidative, with a hint of aldehyde and blanched almonds, balanced by still-fresh lemon and apple fruit aromas and light floral notes. The wine is bone dry, with high acidity that keeps the palate quite fresh, and slightly pushes back the oxidative character. This wine is evolving quite nicely, gaining complexity and interest. Certainly drinkable in the short term, it would also be interesting to cellar this for further evolution.
Tasted May 27, 2016 • CORK AND CROWN (Agent) • Find it at your nearest LCBO • Share Recommendation
CHAUMEAU-BALLAND & FILS DOMAINE LA GRANDE MAISON SANCERRE AC 2014
Vintages #452532 • $24.95 • 750ml. • 89/100Here is a fine expression of Sancerre. The wine is light straw with glints of yellow. The nose starts with stony minerality, followed by a light herbaceous edge, with lime and green apples, and then circles back to that stony minerality. The wine is bone dry, with high acidity that emphasizes the chalky texture of the palate, with its core of green apples and lime, and light grassy-herbal notes dancing around the edges. Very good.
Tasted May 27, 2016 • BARRIQUE WINES & SPIRITS IMPORTS (Agent) • Find it at your nearest LCBO • Share Recommendation