available in Ontario October 29, 2016
When we see an increase in the number of sparkling wines coming through the Vintages release program, we know “’tis the season”. But sparkling wine should be enjoyed all year round: it pairs well with many foods, and certainly adds zest to those Tuesday evening meals. So while I start the presentation with one ultra-premium wine that probably deserves special occasion status for most of us, the other four wines are very reasonably priced, and bring a level of affordable deliciousness to any setting.
That premium wine is the vintage-dated 2008 Moët & Chandon Grand Vintage Brut Champagne, a compelling wine that balances on the line between complex evolution and underlying freshness. The other four traditional method sparkling wines range from $18 to $30, and include the highly rated Italian sparkler from Trento ($24.95), a tasty Crémant de Bourgogne ($23.95), a premium Cava ($29.95), and a value-laden Vouvray ($17.95).
The four reds reviewed include three Syrah/Shiraz wines — from Stellenbosch, South Africa, Australia’s Barossa Valley, and Niagara-on-the-Lake in Ontario — and a Cabernet Franc from the Niagara Escarpment.
2008 MOËT & CHANDON GRAND VINTAGE BRUT CHAMPAGNE AC
Vintages #69773 • $89.95 • 750ml. • 92/100This 2008 Champagne, a blend of 40% Chardonnay, 37% Pinot Noir, and 23% Pinot Meunier, has rested for more than six years on lees in the bottle. The wine is medium straw-yellow in colour. Complex notes of brioche, toast, hazelnuts and white chocolate surround aromas of white flowers and rich lemon-lime and yellow apple fruit, which shows a hint of bruising. The wine is very dry, with high acidity, modest alcohol and a palate that shimmers between creamy and crisp. The fruit is quite fresh on the palate, which is harmonious and elegant, with a lingering chalky-mineral finish. A lovely wine whose high-acid-but-still-ripe character reflects a cooler year with last-minute ripening.
Tasted Oct 7, 2016 • CHARTON HOBBS INC (Agent) • Find it at your nearest LCBO • Share Recommendation
FERRARI TRENTO BRUT DOC
Vintages #352153 • $24.95 • 750ml. • 90/100Sparkling wine is actually made throughout Italy, but it's fairly unusual to find imports to Ontario from Trentino/Alto Adige in northern Italy. This 100% Chardonnay, made using the traditional method, suggests that we should import more of them! The wine is medium yellow. Aromas suggest bright lemon and yellow apple fruit, with just a hint of bruising on the apple, underpinned by light toasty notes, with a garnish of white chocolate. The wine is very dry, with high acidity balanced by some creamy richness. The fruit remains fresh on the palate, and a stony minerality wells up on the finish. A terrific value indeed.
Tasted Oct 7, 2016 • PHILIPPE DANDURAND WINES LTD. (Agent) • Find it at your nearest LCBO • Share Recommendation
SIMONNET-FEBVRE BRUT CRÉMANT DE BOURGOGNE, AC, Burgundy, France
Vintages #126318 • $23.95 • 750ml. • 89/100Simonnet-Febvre may be the only Chablis producer to make a Crémant, and its Chablis sensibilities show in this wine. It is medium straw in colour, with glints of old gold. The nose is slightly dusty, toasty and nutty, with a core of vibrant green apple and lemon fruit. The wine is dry, with high acidity and modest alcohol, while a creamy richness on the palate softens the tart fruit with blanched almonds and brioche. The lengthy finish is crisp and fresh. Excellent.
Tasted Sep 23, 2016 • MARK ANTHONY BRANDS (Agent) • Find it at your nearest LCBO • Share Recommendation
SEGURA VIUDAS BRUT RESERVA HEREDAD CAVA, Méthode traditionnelle, DO, Spain
Vintages #558825 • $29.95 • 750ml. • 89/100This is a premium Cava, and is priced accordingly — more than twice the price of their widely available Brut Reserve. The wine is light straw, with yellow glints. The nose is pleasantly complex, suggesting white flowers, apples, pears and lemons, with a slight rubber-mineral note, and some toasty elements. The wine is dry, with brisk acidity, nicely balanced richness on the palate, and a firm mineral and slightly earthy undertone. The finish is lengthy and crisp. My only objection is with the packaging: substituting a lighter bottle and removing the unnecessary and heavy pewter-metal decorations might save a dollar, and in my view would enhance the product. But what's inside the bottle is very good.
Tasted Oct 7, 2016 • CHURCHILL CELLARS LTD. (Agent) • Find it at your nearest LCBO • Share Recommendation
CHÂTEAU MONCONTOUR TÊTE DE CUVÉE BRUT VOUVRAY, Méthode traditionnelle, AC, Loire
Vintages #207936 • $17.95 • 750ml. • 88/100This is a pleasant traditional method sparkling Vouvray, meaning that it is made with 100% Chenin Blanc. The wine is light yellow, with aromas of green apple and lemon fruit, a hint of beeswax, blanched almonds and a light toasted brioche note. The wine is technically off-dry, but the high acidity masks most of the residual sugar. A slightly waxy and honeyed texture underlies the crisp, fresh palate, with tart citrus and stony minerality lingering on the finish. A very good value.
Tasted Oct 7, 2016 • S. SCHIRALLI AGENCIES LTD., (Agent) • Find it at your nearest LCBO • Share Recommendation
2013 RUSTENBERG STELLENBOSCH SHIRAZ, WO Stellenbosch
Vintages #399246 • $19.95 • 750ml. • 90/100This Shiraz is a member of Rustenberg's excellent and value-priced multi-vineyard "regional" range of wines from Stellenbosch. The wine is deep ruby-purple in hue. The nose is largely fruit-driven, with ripe (but not over-ripe) blackberry, black cherry and plum fruit, with just a hint of savoury that I perceived as dry leaves, dry herbs and cedar. The wine is dry, with firm acidity, elevated but balanced alcohol, and ripe, softening tannins. The palate focuses on the rich, ripe fruit, with a lightly earthy undertone, and the fruit and tannins linger on the finish. This is an excellent new world Shiraz with an acknowledgement of the grape's old world roots.
Tasted Oct 25, 2016 • WOODMAN WINES & SPIRITS (Agent) • Find it at your nearest LCBO • Share Recommendation
2014 TORBRECK WOODCUTTER'S SHIRAZ, Barossa Valley, South Australia
Vintages #927533 • $28.95 • 750ml. • 89/100This is a big, bold and ripe Barossa Shiraz. The wine is deep, dense ruby-red, showing dark red on the narrow rim. On the nose a slightly roasted character suggesting coffee and dark chocolate complements aromas of blackberries, blueberries and plums. The wine is fully dry, with balanced acidity, rather high alcohol, and elevated though softening tannins. The fruit on the palate is very ripe indeed, and while some heat builds, there is some freshness too. A light menthol lift appears on the finish. This is a very good value.
Tasted Oct 25, 2016 • NOBLE ESTATES WINES & SPIRITS INC. (Agent) • Find it at your nearest LCBO • Share Recommendation
2013 CREEKSIDE ICONOCLAST SYRAH, VQA St. David's Bench, Niagara-on-the-Lake
Vintages #471797 • $22.95 • 750ml. • 89/100This Syrah hails from the Queenston Road Vineyard on St. David's Bench in Niagara-on-the-Lake, and includes a small percentage of co-fermented Viognier. The wine is deep ruby-red in hue. The nose shows peppery black currant and blackberry fruit, with a light floral lift. The wine is dry, with brisk acidity, moderate alcohol, and fine, slightly chewy tannins. This is a style that I really like — the ripe, tart fruit combined with the fresh acidity really reflects Niagara, and while there is significant oak treatment, it is integrating seamlessly. Very elegant indeed!
Tasted Oct 25, 2016 • HOBBS & CO. (Agent) • Find it at your nearest LCBO • Share Recommendation
2013 CAVE SPRING CELLARS CABERNET FRANC, VQA Niagara Escarpment
Vintages #391995 • $19.95 • 750ml. • 88.5/100This Cabernet Franc is sourced from vineyards on the Beamsville Bench. The wine is a relatively deep ruby-red. Aromas of tobacco leaf, green herbs and cedar underpin blackberry, black currant and plum fruit, with hints of resin and roasted coffee. The wine is dry, with brisk acidity, elevated alcohol and fine, ripe tannins. A little heat gathers under the juicy fruit on the palate, where the green notes recede and the pleasant acid-driven blackberry fruit takes on a menthol note as the finish lingers. A fine value that shows some Niagara character.
Tasted Oct 25, 2016 • CAVE SPRING CELLARS LTD., (Agent) • Find it at your nearest LCBO • Share Recommendation