Three sparkling wines and six new world reds

"Three terrific sparkling wines are great values as well, although at different price levels. I also recommend six new world red wines, mostly from the antipodes, including four Pinot Noirs, a Grenache blend and a Shiraz ... "

available August 6, 2016

Most of us have serious budget constraints, and so price considerations can’t be ignored when we are selecting wines. While I try to make my judgements of quality independent of price, I bring price into consideration when I decide which wines to recommend and which reviews to publish. That’s the issue of “value”, that trade-off between price and quality, and the first sparkling wine provides a great example.

When you taste sparkling wines rather widely, it is amazing to the extent that Champagne continues to stand out in terms of quality and style, but of course prices are high. In Ontario, prices for Champagne start at about $40 at the low end, and of course rapidly elevate from that point. Being price conscious, and assuming that WineDiscovery readers are too, I seldom publish reviews of Champagnes that I love when they exceed $75, and I keep a sharp eye open for examples near the entry point. Today’s leading wine fills the bill, the fine Gardet Cuvée Saint Flavy Brut Tradition Champagne, that retails for $42.95.  While that’s not a Tuesday night wine price for most of us, I think that it’s a very good value if you are looking for Champagne.

While value extends up and down the price ladder, and there are good values below $20, it’s pretty rare to find truly excellent wines below $20 — that is, excellent in an absolute sense. But the second sparkling wine comes pretty close to that mark, the 2010 KWV Cathedral Cellar Blanc de Blanc Brut, for just $16.95. It has significant age sur latte (on the lees in the bottle), and complexity far beyond my expectations at the price. The third sparkling wine also provides excellent value in a more youthful package, the Labouré-Gontard Brut Crémant de Bourgogne for $20.95.



Vintages #924654 • $42.95 • 750ml. • WD Score 91/100
This is a fine traditional blend of mostly black grapes: 45% Pinot Noir, 45% Pinot Meunier, and 10% Chardonnay. A light floral note overlays fresh lemon and apple fruit, with brioche and toasty underpinnings — all rather subdued but very pleasant. The wine is dry with a little residual sugar, very crisp acidity and a light, creamy texture. There is some generosity on the mid-palate that tightens into a crisp and saline-mineral finish. Fresh, simple, elegant and quite seductive — a lovely Champagne at a very competitive price. Highly recommended.
Tasted July 26, 2016 • VINEXX (Agent)Find it at your nearest LCBOShare Review


KWV CATHEDRAL CELLAR BLANC DE BLANC BRUT 2010, Méthode Cap Classique, WO Western Cape, South Africa

Vintages #462762 • $16.95 • 750ml. • WD Score 90/100
This Cap Classique — traditional method sparkling from South Africa — is showing some maturity, while maintaining lots of life and freshness. Honeyed lemon and yellow apple fruit aromas are couched in a light brioche and toasty frame. The wine is dry, with its slight residual sugar countered by high acidity, and some richness on the palate that showcases the fruit and honey flavours, while the toasty character evolves into a light, nutty, almond finish. An excellent wine by any standard, and an exceptional value indeed.
Tasted July 26, 2016 • PHILIPPE DANDURAND WINES LTD. (Agent)Find it at your nearest LCBOShare Review


LABOURÉ-GONTARD BRUT CRÉMANT DE BOURGOGNE , Traditional method, AC, Burgundy, France

Vintages #401018 • $20.95 • 750ml. • WD Score 89/100
This is an enticing example of Crémant de Bourgogne made from a blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Fresh floral, lemon and apple aromas are enhanced by light notes of brioche, toast and almond paste. The wine is dry, with bracing acidity, modest alcohol, and a slightly creamy texture. Lots of freshness with red apple ripeness on the palate, and the finish is crisp, tart and toasty. Very pleasant and well-made.
Tasted July 26, 2016 • H.H.D. IMPORTS (Agent)Find it at your nearest LCBOShare Review


Of the four Pinot Noirs, the first two are premium examples from New Zealand and San Luis Obispo County, California respectively. These are the 2014 Cloudy Bay Pinot Noir from Marlborough, and the 2012 Hartley Ostini Hitching Post Quinta Del Mar Pinot Noir. The second two are great value wines around the $20 level: the 2013 Momo Pinot Noir from Marlborough, and the 2014 Josef Chromy Pepik Pinot Noir from Tasmania.


CLOUDY BAY PINOT NOIR 2014, Marlborough, South Island

Vintages #598813 • $44.95 • 750ml. • WD Score 90/100
The wine is a youthful-looking, translucent ruby-red. A core of bright cranberry and blackberry fruit is graced by notes of violets, dried herbs, earth and wood smoke. There is an impression of richness on the palate, but the ripe fruit is nicely balanced by the earthy-savoury elements, the brisk acidity and fine tannins. This is a slightly richer, riper wine that stays true to its Pinot roots — all-in-all, quite delicious.
Tasted Aug 2, 2016 • CHARTON HOBBS INC (Agent)Find it at your nearest LCBOShare Review



Vintages #456715 • $58.95 • 750ml. • WD Score 90/100
Get into Sideways country with this Pinot Noir from the Hartley Ostini Hitching Post. This wine has lots of real Pinot character, starting from its just medium-depth ruby-red hue that shows a little garnet on the rim. The nose is slightly smoky, with ripe (but still fresh) raspberry, cranberry and cherry fruit, a lift of violets, and an earthy, dry-leaf undertone. While the wine definitely shows its California origin — the fruit on the palate is ripe and the tannins are soft — it's not over-extracted, the alcohol remains moderate and in balance with reasonable acidity, there is some real savoury earthiness, and no, Miles, it doesn't taste like f*@%ing Merlot!
Tasted Aug 2, 2016 • GLEN-WARD WINES INC. (Agent)Find it at your nearest LCBOShare Review



Vintages #162990 • $21.95 • 750ml. • WD Score 89/100
The wine is medium ruby-red, hinting at garnet near the rim. Crisp and fresh raspberry, cranberry and cherry fruit aromas are accompanied by notes of dry leaves, a sprinkling of fresh herbs and an earthy undertone. The wine is dry, with bright acidity, moderate alcohol, and fine tannins. There's a slight "greenness" that underlies the crisp fruit on the palate, and carries into the tart and lightly mineral finish. Very much a cool climate expression of Pinot Noir at an exceptional price.
Tasted Aug 2, 2016 • B AND W WINES (Agent)Find it at your nearest LCBOShare Review


MOMO PINOT NOIR 2013, Marlborough, South Island

Vintages #163972 • $19.95 • 750ml. • WD Score 88.5/100
Momo is the second label of the fine producer Seresin Estate, and the wines are always worth exploring. Vibrant raspberry, cranberry and cherry fruit aromas are accompanied by light floral notes with hints of dried herbs and pepper. Brisk acidity and fine, slightly chalky tannins carry the big, bold fruit into a textured and slightly tart finish. Very attractive and well-priced.
Tasted Aug 2, 2016 • DIONYSUS WINES & SPIRITS LTD. (Agent)Find it at your nearest LCBOShare Review


The final two wines are richer, riper and bolder wines from Australia. These are the 2013 Kilikanoon Killerman’s Run Grenache/Shiraz/Matoro blend from the Clare Valley, and the 2013 Best’s Bin No. 1 Shiraz from Great Western, Victoria.



Vintages #412189 • $19.95 • 750ml. • WD Score 88.5/100
Pleasant cherry, plum and blackberry aromas are complemented by deft notes of menthol and spices. While I caught a nuance of cedary-resin, in fact the wine was matured in large, older French oak hogsheads, and the wood influence is minimal. The wine is dry, with brisk acidity, and moderately elevated tannins that build over the palate, and elevated alcohol that remains balanced with the tannic structure and rich, ripe fruit. Juicy, accessible and very drinkable over the shorter term — and a very good value.
Tasted Aug 2, 2016 • CHARTON HOBBS INC (Agent)Find it at your nearest LCBOShare Review


BEST'S BIN NO. 1 SHIRAZ 2013, Great Western, Victoria

Vintages #222323 • $19.95 • 750ml. • WD Score 88/100
This is a lush, approachable Shiraz. It's deep purple, with a nose that suggests ripe raspberry, blueberry and blackberry fruit, with mint and chocolate. The wine is dry, with brisk acidity, generous alcohol, a full body and soft tannins. The juicy fruit fills the palate, and the herbal-minty notes take on a menthol tone. This is a crowd-pleaser in the best possible way — and presents a fine value.
Tasted Aug 2, 2016 • FAMILY WINE MERCHANTS INC. (Agent)Find it at your nearest LCBOShare Review



Share post