Eight cracking white wines and four sparklers

"... eight white wines — six scored at 90 points or better — and four value-laden sparkling wines ..."

Available in Ontario November 12, 2016

As usual, I’ve been able to find a cracking selection of interesting and quality-laden white wines, six of the eight being rated 90 points or better. I’ve added four good sparkling wines as well, headed by an excellent local Niagara product.

The selection begins with four Rieslings, three from Canada and one from Alsace. Two top-flight Canadian benchmarks are the 2014 Cave Spring CSV Riesling and the 2013 Charles Baker Picone Vineyard Riesling. The 2013 Trimbach Riesling continues to uphold its fine reputation with this vintage, and this dependable Alsatian Riesling is a very good wine to compare and contrast with the two Canadian benchmarks. And I was pleased to find that the 2015 Megalomaniac Narcissist Riesling offered good value — it’s great to see more good work from Sebastien Jacquey, who took over the winemaking duties at Megalomaniac in 2015.

Two Chardonnays include an excellent Chablis premier cru, the 2014 Louis Moreau Vaulignot Chablis 1Er Cru, and another release of the very dependable 2014 Henry Of Pelham Estate Chardonnay.  The final two wines are real favourites of mine, the 2015 Jermann Pinot Grigio and the 2015 Dog Point Sauvignon Blanc.

Leading the four sparkling wines is one of Niagara’s premium examples, the 2011 Henry Of Pelham Cuvée Catharine Carte Blanche Blanc De Blanc. Two very good and well-priced non-vintage crémants from France are the Bailly Lapierre Réserve Brut Crémant De Bourgogne and the Wolfberger Brut Crémant D’Alsace. My final pick is a dry, refreshing and very affordable Prosecco, the 2015 Asolo Superiore Extra Dry Prosecco.


CAVE SPRING CELLARS CSV RIESLING 2014, Cave Spring Vineyard, VQA Beamsville Bench, Niagara Escarpment

Vintages #566026 • $29.95 • 750ml. • WD Score 91/100
The 2014 vintage of the CSV (Cave Spring Vineyard) Riesling continues its tradition of excellence. The wine is watery white, with a subtle nose that suggests crushed limestone, light lemon, green apple and white flowers, with just a hint of rubber. The wine is just off-dry, with firm acidity, modest alcohol, and a lovely bright and engaging palate. Add grapefruit, grapefruit pith and honeydew melon to the fruit on the palate, and a lengthy, drying finish. So delicate, balanced, elegant and satisfying. This drinks beautifully now, but can age for many years if properly cellared.
Tasted Oct 14, 2016 • CAVE SPRING CELLARS LTD., (Agent)Find it at your nearest LCBOShare Review


CHARLES BAKER PICONE VINEYARD RIESLING 2013, VQA Vinemount Ridge, Niagara Peninsula

Vintages #241182 • $35.20 • 750ml. • WD Score 90/100
Since 2005 Charles Baker has been producing fine Riesling from the Picone Vineyard. The 2013 edition is light straw, with expressive red apple, lemon and honey notes, and considerable petrol aromas, considering the relative youthfulness of this wine. Definitely off-dry, the acidity is very firm, alcohol is low, and there is a sense of richness from the partly hidden residual sugar, which dries through the mid-palate and into the finish. Serious, substantive Riesling.
Tasted Oct 7, 2016 • STRATUS VINEYARDS (Agent)Find it at your nearest LCBOShare Review



Vintages #734517 • $23.95 • 750ml. • WD Score 90/100
The Trimbach Riesling is always dependable, and this vintage is a notch above the norm. The wine is light straw, with a complex nose suggesting stony minerality with a hint of rubber, a note of green herbs, then lemon, yellow apple and white peach fruit with a suggestion of honey underneath. The wine is very dry, with firm acidity, modest alcohol, and a crisp, clean and mineral palate, with some honeyed breadth underlying the lemony finish. Fine, firm and direct.
Tasted Oct 14, 2016 • WOODMAN WINES & SPIRITS (Agent)Find it at your nearest LCBOShare Review



Vintages #67587 • $17.95 • 750ml. • WD Score 88.5/100
Sebastien Jacquey is planting his feet firmly on the ground as the winemaker at Megalomaniac, and the wines are showing the effects. This Riesling is very light straw in colour, delicately aromatic, with a hint of mineral-rubber, and pleasant apple, lemon and melon fruit. The wine is rather dry, with brisk acidity all but hiding a modicum of residual sugar. The palate is fresh, clean and crisp, and the fruit lingers on the tart finish. By far the best Riesling from Megalomaniac that I've tasted.
Tasted Oct 7, 2016 • JOHN HOWARD CELLARS (Agent)Find it at your nearest LCBOShare Review



Vintages #525386 • $36.95 • 750ml. • WD Score 91/100
Vaulignot (or Vau Ligneau, as on the Wines of Chablis website) is the westernmost premier cru, a narrow valley with vineyards facing southeast, and so is a little cooler than the west-facing sites. The implication is that wines will generally be more taut and lean, and this is a great example. It is lighter straw in colour, and the nose presents subtle notes of crushed stones and seashells, with a little lemon and apple fruit. The wine is bone dry, with firm acidity. A lightly creamy texture gives a balancing breadth to the focused stony, saline minerality that drives the palate, and carries into the long finish. Textbook Chablis, pure and elegant. It is drinking well now, but will benefit from several years in cellar — and will evolve for many more.
Tasted Oct 14, 2016 • ARTISANAL WINE IMPORTS (Agent)Find it at your nearest LCBOShare Review


HENRY OF PELHAM ESTATE CHARDONNAY 2014, VQA Short Hills Bench, Niagara Peninsula

Vintages #268342 • $19.95 • 750ml. • WD Score 89/100
This is the fourth Vintages release of the 2014 Estate Chardonnay from Henry of Pelham over the past year or so, the last being in September. I've rated it similarly each time, and my last note stands: " ... the oak frame is really beginning to integrate, and while there is still a slight resinous note on the nose, it is now mostly lemon and apple fruit, with a light vanilla undertone. The wine is dry, with brisk acidity, balanced alcohol, and a lightly creamy texture. The oak is receding on the palate, leaving vibrant but now mellowing apple and lemon fruit. The finish is lengthy. This is a great value that is drinking nicely now, but will reward three or more additional years of cellar time." It remains an excellent local value.
Tasted Oct 7, 2016 • HENRY OF PELHAM FAMILY EST. WINERY (Agent)Find it at your nearest LCBOShare Review



Vintages #117093 • $34.95 • 750ml. • WD Score 90/100
This is a premium Pinot Grigio from Venezia Giulia in northeastern Italy. The wine is medium straw-yellow, with bright yellow glints. The vibrant nose displays green and red apple, lemon, melon and white peach aromas, with notes of fresh white flowers. The wine is dry, with fresh acidity, balanced alcohol and a medium body. The palate is clean and fresh, the fruit repeats, and a hint of bitterness rises on the finish. Quite lovely.
Tasted Oct 14, 2016 • HALPERN ENTERPRISES (Agent)Find it at your nearest LCBOShare Review


DOG POINT SAUVIGNON BLANC 2015, Marlborough, South Island

Vintages #677450 • $24.95 • 750ml. • WD Score 90/100
Dog Point's Sauvignon Blanc is one of my favourite New Zealand Sauvignons in this price range. The wine is light straw, with an intense, slightly reductive nose, suggesting smoke, flint, and smoky jalapeno notes, over drying herbs, lemon and grapefruit. The juicy grapefruit dominates the palate, as the herbal and vegetal notes recede, and the finish is lengthy, with lingering grapefruit and mineral notes. Always enjoyable.
Tasted Oct 7, 2016 • TRIALTO WINE GROUP LTD. (Agent)Find it at your nearest LCBOShare Review



HENRY OF PELHAM CUVÉE CATHARINE CARTE BLANCHE BLANC DE BLANC 2011, Méthode traditionelle, VQA Short Hills Bench, Niagara Escarpment

Vintages #315200 • $44.95 • 750ml. • WD Score 91/100
This is a fine vintage-dated blanc de blancs — 100% Chardonnay — from Henry of Pelham, 20% barrel fermented, and aged for 54 months on lees in bottle. The wine is light straw-yellow, with light toast and brioche notes surrounding yellow apples, lemon and white flowers, with a blanched almond nuttiness. High acidity hides a whisper of residual sugar that adds some breadth to the palate while retaining a fresh and tart core. Some toastier notes gather on the finish, underlying the tart fruit and lingering acidity. Elegant and nicely balanced.
Tasted Oct 14, 2016 • HENRY OF PELHAM FAMILY EST. WINERY (Agent)Find it at your nearest LCBOShare Review



Vintages #991562 • $19.95 • 750ml. • WD Score 89/100
This Crémant is a blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Gamay and Aligoté. The wine is light straw in colour, with a slightly reserved nose suggesting lemon, red apples and white flowers. The wine is dry, with some residual sweetness hidden by the fresh acidity, and a softly creamy body. Light brioche and pear notes add to the fruit, and the finish is lingering. This is a very relaxed and easy-going wine that will please widely.
Tasted Oct 7, 2016 • VINEXX (Agent)Find it at your nearest LCBOShare Review



Vintages #460832 • $18.95 • 750ml. • WD Score 88.5/100
This traditional method sparkling wine is largely Pinot Blanc. The wine is light straw in colour. Fresh green apple, apple blossom, pear, honeydew and lemon aromas fill the nose and replay on the palate, which is dry, with high acidity, modest alcohol and body, and lightly creamy. The lengthy finish is crisp, acidic, and lightly mineral. This is an excellent value.
Tasted Oct 7, 2016 • SYLVESTRE WINES & SPIRITS INC. (Agent)Find it at your nearest LCBOShare Review



Vintages #262881 • $16.95 • 750ml. • WD Score 88/100
This is a light, crisp, clean and refreshingly dry Prosecco. Lemon, green apple, honeydew melon aromas are complemented by notes of white flowers and dried herbs. The palate stays crisp and clean through to the drying, acidic finish. A very good value, and a style that I like — this will serve as a fine aperitif.
Tasted Oct 7, 2016 • PREVEDELLO AND MATHEWS (Agent)Find it at your nearest LCBOShare Review




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