Exceptional whites and delicious rosés, available July 9, 2016

I try not to over-use the term “exceptional”, but I believe that the first three white wines I present here easily qualify. I begin with a local Niagara wine, the excellent 2013 Flat Rock “The Rusty Shed” Chardonnay, and follow with a lovely 1er Cru Chablis, the 2014 Domaine Laroche Les Vaudevey, and the brilliant 2013 Pieropan La Rocca Soave Classico.

While many will dismiss the idea that Müller-Thurgau can make truly fine wine, I have come across some “exceptions” in the past year, and a little research suggests that some very fine examples are being made in Alto Adige — a case in point being the very fine 2014 Abbazia Di Novacella Müller-Thurgau from Valle Isarco Alto Adige. Then, continuing to break the mold of expectations, I recommend the 2012 Waterkloof Circle of Life from Stellenbosch, an intriguing Sauvignon Blanc-based blend that will sit well outside most people’s expectations of new world savvy. The final white wine dials down to a very good summer quaffing white, the 2014 Toi Toi Sauvignon Blanc — and there’s nothing in the least wrong with that!

Finally, the three rosés join the last wine as truly delicious wines for sipping and for the table. These are the 2015 Quails’ Gate Rosé from the Okanagan, the 2015 Famille Perrin Tavel, and the 2015 Henri Gaillard Rosé from the Côtes de Provence.


FLAT ROCK THE RUSTY SHED CHARDONNAY 2013, VQA Twenty Mile Bench, Niagara Peninsula

Vintages #1552 • $24.95 • 750ml. • WD Score 91/100
The Rusty Shed is Flat Rock's premium Chardonnay, and the 2013 edition is one of the finest yet. Ripe apple and lemon fruit are surrounded by smoky, toasty oak and vanilla. The wine is dry, with firm acidity and balanced alcohol, while on the palate the oak adds an impression of sweetness as it still dominates the palate. While I find the oak a little excessive at this point, the great acidity and depth of fruit will allow the wine to integrate over time. So give it another two years in bottle, and enjoy from 2018 on. This is a terrific value for a premium Niagara Chardonnay.
Tasted June 25, 2016 • FLAT ROCK CELLARS (Agent)Find it at your nearest LCBOShare Review



Vintages #416057 • $37.95 • 750ml. • WD Score 91/100
Vaudevey is a Premier Cru vineyard about 5 km due west of the town of Chablis, and south of the river Serein. The wine is light straw-yellow, with a stony-chalky nose that also features aromas of lemon, apple and dried herbs. Bone dry, with brilliant acidity and moderate alcohol, there is a light yoghurt and cheese rind note that melds with the bright lemony palate, which leads into a firm, chalk and stone finish. While this is a delicious and bracing Chablis that is drinking very weill in the short term, the wine will evolve gracefully in the cellar for at least ten years.
Tasted June 25, 2016 • SELECT WINE MERCHANTS INC. (Agent)Find it at your nearest LCBOShare Review



Vintages #92437 • $37.95 • 750ml. • WD Score 91/100
This is a premium single vineyard Soave from the premium producer Pieropan. The wine is medium yellow, with glints of gold. Intense aromas suggest white flowers, red apples, pears, apricots and lemon, with a stony minerality. The palate balances racy acidity with its rich, creamy texture, while a pleasing hint of apricot pit bitterness adds to the crushed stone and saline minerality that emerges towards the finish. This is a thrilling wine that justifies the price.
Tasted June 25, 2016 • VON TERRA ENTERPRISES LTD. (Agent)Find it at your nearest LCBOShare Review



Vintages #452557 • $19.95 • 750ml. • WD Score 90/100
While Müller-Thurgau can certainly be bland, soft and fruity, its best expression may be in Alto Adige, where a number of producers, including Abbazia di Novacella, create crisp and mineral-driven wines of interest. The wine is medium straw, with glints of yellow. Bright, fresh aromas of green apple, lime, grapefruit, white peach and white flowers fill the nose. The wine is bone dry, with crisp acidity and modest alcohol. The fruit on the palate takes on a spicy note, and deepens with a stony undercurrent. Topnotch wine — very refreshing and a tremendous value.
Tasted June 25, 2016 • WINE LOVERS AGENCY INC. (Agent)Find it at your nearest LCBOShare Review



Vintages #284588 • $19.95 • 750ml. • WD Score 89/100
This is an interesting and quite unique interpretation of Sauvignon Blanc, supplemented with Chenin Blanc and some Chardonnay. The wine is straw yellow, slightly reductive on the nose, with a smoky-mineral attack, and aromas of ripe lemon and apple fruit. The wine is dry, with plentiful acids and a creamy, rich texture. The smoky-reductive element dissipates on the palate, leaving honeyed ripe fruit that takes on a satisfying salty-mineral element on the finish. Very good wine, fine value — not your average New World Sauvignon Blanc!
Tasted June 25, 2016 • FAMILY WINE MERCHANTS INC. (Agent)Find it at your nearest LCBOShare Review


TOI TOI SAUVIGNON BLANC 2014, Marlborough, South Island

Vintages #454785 • $17.95 • 750ml. • WD Score 88/100
This is a pleasant Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc that features aromas of lime and grapefruit, with suggestions of hay, cut grass and a light mineral note. Fresh acidity masks a little residual sugar, keeping the palate dry and crisp, while grapefruit, melon and kiwi fruit flavours wash over the light grassy and herbal undertones. This is a straight-forward, easy-drinking Savvy, and a very good value.
Tasted June 25, 2016 • VON TERRA ENTERPRISES LTD. (Agent)Find it at your nearest LCBOShare Review


QUAILS' GATE ROSÉ 2015, Okanagan Valley

Vintages #275842 • $18.95 • 750ml. • WD Score 88/100
The Quails' Gate Rosé is mainly Gamay, blended with 10% each Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris. The wine is salmon-pink, with aromas of apple blossoms, and fragrant red apples, strawberries and cranberries. Fresh acidity balances a whisper of sweetness — the wine is barely off-dry — and circumscribes the moderate alcohol and body, while a slight apple skin tannin and a sprinkling of green herbs add some breadth and complexity. Very pleasant.
Tasted June 28, 2016 • HOBBS & CO. (Agent) • Find it at your nearest LCBOShare Review



Vintages #680801 • $19.95 • 750ml. • WD Score 89/100
This blend of Cinsault, Grenache and Mourvèdre is a pretty, medium-salmon colour. The nose suggests rich, ripe red apples, raspberries and cherries, with a greener note of honeydew melon. While the wine has a rather full body for a rosé, with some richness and texture from the alcohol and light tannins, there is enough firm acidity to balance the weight of the palate. The fruit carries through to a long finish — all in all an excellent, serious rosé.
Tasted June 28, 2016 • CHARTON HOBBS INC (Agent)Find it at your nearest LCBOShare Review


HENRI GAILLARD ROSÉ 2015, AC Côtes de Provence

Vintages #450825 • $16.95 • 750ml. • WD Score 88/100
This is a very good example of Provence rosé, a blend of Grenache, Cinsault, Syrah, Mourvèdre and Tibouren. It is light salmon in colour, featuring aromas of delicate peach blossoms, white peach, red apple, and lemon, with a sprinkling of dry herbs and garrigue. The wine is bone dry, with crisp acidity, modest alcohol, and very light tannins, and the fruit and herbs on the palate focus down into a drying, lightly mineral finish. Pleasant, elegant and extremely well-priced.
Tasted June 28, 2016 • MARK ANTHONY BRANDS (Agent)Find it at your nearest LCBOShare Review


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