available in Ontario in December, 2016
There were so many interesting and attractive white wines released in December, most at compelling prices, that I found it difficult to keep this list to a manageable length. Here are fifteen of my favourites. They include five Chardonnays from around the world, three Canadian Rieslings, three Sauvignon Blancs, including a good white Bordeaux, and four wines from less-well-known grape varieties: Trebbiano di Lugana, Gewûrztraminer, Verdejo and Marsanne.
My first three Chardonnays are from Marlborough, Chablis and the Sonoma coast, three of my four highest rated wines, and also bearing the highest prices, though not high relative to quality. These are the 2014 Cloudy Bay Chardonnay Marlborough, the 2014 Domaine Jean Collet & Fils Montmains Chablis 1Er Cru, and the 2014 La Crema Chardonnay Sonoma Coast. My two other Chardonnay selections are both from Burgundy, the 2014 Joseph Drouhin Mâcon-Bussières Les Clos and the 2015 Louis Moreau La Vigne Blanche Chablis.
I’ve also placed this white Bordeaux, the 2014 Clarence Dillon Clarendelle Blanc Bordeaux, next to the Chardonnays, because of a broad similarity in style — certainly it can take a similar place at the table.
The three Canadian Riesling recommendations are all off-dry to semi-dry, but display Niagara’s firm acidity that is well able to balance significant residual sugar. These are the 2015 Vineland Estates Elevation St. Urban Vineyard Riesling VQA Niagara Escarpment, the 2014 Tawse Limestone Ridge North Riesling VQA Twenty Mile Bench, and the 2015 Featherstone Black Sheep Riesling VQA Niagara Peninsula.
Unlike the white Bordeaux listed above, the two new world Sauvignon Blancs from New Zealand and Chile show much higher-intensity aromatics. These are the 2015 Villa Maria Cellar Selection Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough, and the 2015 Amaral Sauvignon Blanc Leyda Valley.
The final four wines are also in the aromatic spectrum, and certainly have lots to interest those who would like to explore the world of wine. These are the 2015 Zenato San Benedetto Lugana DOC, the 2015 Ruppertsberger Linsenbusch Gewürztraminer Spätlese Prädikatswein from the Pfalz, the 2015 Flor De Vetus Verdejo Old Vines from Segovia, DO Rueda, and the 2015 Tahbilk Marsanne Nagambie Lakes, Central Victoria.
CLOUDY BAY CHARDONNAY 2014, Marlborough, South Island
Vintages #359513 • $36.95 • 750ml. • 92/100This is a fine Chardonnay from Cloudy Bay. It is medium straw in colour, slightly reductive on the nose, with a touch of oaky resin underlying bright lemon, apple and melon fruit, with a nutty almond note. The wine is dry, medium-full-bodied, with a lovely rich texture that enhances the fruit, and then lightens as the firm acidity focuses into a stony-mineral finish. An exhilarating balance between New Zealand fruit and Burgundian sensibility.
Tasted Nov 18, 2016 • CHARTON HOBBS INC (Agent) • Find it at your nearest LCBO • Share Recommendation
DOMAINE JEAN COLLET & FILS MONTMAINS CHABLIS 1ER CRU AC 2014
Vintages #405704 • $34.95 • 750ml. • 91/100This premier cru Chablis is straw-coloured, with aromas of lemon, green apple and wet limestone, and a nutty-resin nuance that suggests the beginnings of bottle evolution. The wine is dry, with lively acidity, moderate alcohol, and lots of freshness on the palate, and an acidic, stony and saline bite on the finish. Compelling and attractive.
Tasted Nov 25, 2016 • MIH SELECTIONS (Agent) • Find it at your nearest LCBO • Share Recommendation
LA CREMA CHARDONNAY 2014, Sonoma Coast
Vintages #962886 • $29.95 • 750ml. • 90/100This Chardonnay from the Sonoma Coast region shows some cooler climate sensibility and restraint in the winemaking, while retaining its California character. It is light yellow in colour, with aromas of lemon and yellow apple fruit, blanched almonds and a hint of vanilla on the nose. The wine is dry, with firm acidity, balanced alcohol, and a lightly creamy texture on the palate while retaining lots of freshness. The oak treatment is nuanced, and the overall effect is very attractive.
Tasted Nov 18, 2016 • B AND W WINES (Agent) • Find it at your nearest LCBO • Share Recommendation
JOSEPH DROUHIN MÂCON-BUSSIÈRES LES CLOS AC 2014
Vintages #470401 • $20.95 • 750ml. • 89/100Bussières lies just north of the Pouilly-Fuissé zone in the Mâcon, and Les Clos is one of its key vineyards. Half the wine was aged in stainless steel and half in 500-litre oak casks. It is straw in colour, with creamy lemon and yellow apple aromas backed by hints of resin and spice. Brisk acidity brightens the fresh fruit and spice on the palate, and leads into a lengthy, tart finish. An excellent value and a very good basic white Burgundy from Mâcon.
Tasted Nov 25, 2016 • PHILIPPE DANDURAND WINES LTD. (Agent) • Find it at your nearest LCBO • Share Recommendation
LOUIS MOREAU LA VIGNE BLANCHE CHABLIS AC 2015
Vintages #474932 • $21.95 • 750ml. • 88/100The wine is light straw in colour. Aromas of green apple, lemon and stony minerality replay on the palate. The wine is bone-dry with firm acidity and a pleasant, creamy-leesy texture that adds some breadth, before re-focusing into a stony, chalky finish. This is a good, basic Chablis that benefits from the warmer 2015 vintage.
Tasted Nov 25, 2016 • ARTISANAL WINE IMPORTS (Agent) • Find it at your nearest LCBO • Share Recommendation
CLARENCE DILLON CLARENDELLE BLANC 2014, Bordeaux AC
Vintages #28845 • $23.95 • 750ml. • 88/100This is an attractive white Bordeaux: 70% Sauvignon Blanc, 25% Semillon, and 5% Muscadelle. The wine is medium straw-yellow. The nose is fairly neutral, with notes of white flowers, lemon and green apple, and the merest hint of grass and dry herbs. Firm acidity balances the medium body, that has a lightly creamy texture suggesting lees aging in neutral oak. Elegant and attractive.
Tasted Nov 25, 2016 • M.C.O. (Agent) • Find it at your nearest LCBO • Share Recommendation
VINELAND ESTATES ELEVATION ST. URBAN VINEYARD RIESLING 2015, VQA Niagara Escarpment
Vintages #38117 • $19.95 • 750ml. • 90/100The elevation Riesling is sourced from Vineland's St. Urban Vineyard, originally planted between 1979 and 1981. The wine is watery white, with glints of straw. Vivid aromas of red apple, lemon, lime, pear and white peach fruit are graced by apple blossoms. The wine is medium-dry, with vibrant acidity, softened by the residual sugar that gives the delicate fruit on the palate a subtle richness. Let the wine sit on your tongue, swallow, and enjoy the lingering fruit. I love the fact that there is no early petrol here, just the ethereal purity of the fruit from the vineyard.
Tasted Nov 18, 2016 • VINELAND ESTATE WINES LTD., (Agent) • Find it at your nearest LCBO • Share Recommendation
TAWSE LIMESTONE RIDGE NORTH RIESLING 2014, VQA Twenty Mile Bench, Niagara Escarpment
Vintages #431593 • $23.95 • 750ml. • 89/100The wine is watery white in colour. Aromas of apple blossoms, red apple, lemon and lime front a stony minerality and the beginnings of a Riesling rubber character. The wine is medium-dry, with the sweetness balanced by high acidity, so the palate is crisp, light-bodied and fresh. A very attractive sweet-and-tart expression, with underlying steely minerality.
Tasted Nov 25, 2016 • TAWSE WINERY INC. (Agent) • Find it at your nearest LCBO • Share Recommendation
FEATHERSTONE BLACK SHEEP RIESLING 2015, VQA Niagara Peninsula
Vintages #80234 • $16.95 • 750ml. • 88/100This is the fourth release of this wine, and my previous note is still valid. "I think that with this vintage, the Featherstone Black Sheep Riesling returns to good form. The wine is very light straw in colour, with a lively nose suggesting apple blossoms, perfumed red apples, lemon, lime and just a hint of rubbery minerality. The wine is decidedly off-dry, but the high acidity masks some of the sweetness, emerging as a richness on the attack. But the crisp, fresh acidity gathers force over the mid-palate, and lingers on the zingy, mineral finish. This is a very nice expression of the sweet-tart style of Niagara Riesling."
Tasted Nov 25, 2016 • FEATHERSTONE WINERY (Agent) • Find it at your nearest LCBO • Share Recommendation
VILLA MARIA CELLAR SELECTION SAUVIGNON BLANC 2015, Marlborough, South Island
Vintages #974527 • $19.95 • 750ml. • 89/100This Sauvignon Blanc is a welcome regular at Vintages. The wine is light straw in colour, with a nose that has a light vegetal and grassy nuance, but a core of lemon, grapefruit and green apple notes. It is dry, with a touch of residual sugar well-hidden by high acidity. The palate is crisp and fresh, focusing on the grapefruit juice and zest flavours, with the herbal and grassy notes receding. The finish is firm with a tingle of stony minerality. This continues to be one of the most dependable and attractive basic New Zealand Sauvignon Blancs.
Tasted Nov 18, 2016 • PHILIPPE DANDURAND WINES LTD. (Agent) • Find it at your nearest LCBO • Share Recommendation
AMARAL SAUVIGNON BLANC 2015, Leyda Valley
Vintages #367292 • $14.95 • 750ml. • 88/100This Sauvignon Blanc hails from the Amaral property of Chile's Montgras Winery, located near the Pacific coast in the Leyda Valley. The wine is light straw in colour, with a nose that suggests cut grass and asparagus followed by clean citrus — lemon and grapefruit — and green apple aromas. The wine is dry, showing fresh acidity, balanced alcohol, and a medium body with a creamy texture. On the palate the vegetal notes recede, leaving bright lemon, grapefruit and apple notes, with a hint of stone fruit, while the finish is fresh and crisp. The wine is simple, straightforward and quite delicious — and a compelling value.
Tasted Nov 18, 2016 • KIRKWOOD DIAMOND CANADA PARTNERSHIP (Agent) • Find it at your nearest LCBO • Share Recommendation
ZENATO SAN BENEDETTO LUGANA DOC 2015
Vintages #707158 • $17.95 • 750ml. • 88.5/100Lugana DOC is south of Lake Garda and due east of Verona. This wine is 100% Trebbiano di Lugana, the main white grape of the DOC, that is also known locally as Turbiana, and elsewhere as Trebbiano di Soave and Verdicchio, among many other names. The wine is light straw in colour, lightly floral, with aromas of lemon, green apple, apple blossoms and white peach. Dry, with fresh acidity and moderate alcohol, the floral and fruit notes play delicately on the palate, and the wine finishes briskly with just a note of bitterness. Very good value indeed.
Tasted Nov 25, 2016 • JOSEPH CIPELLI WINES & SPIRITS (Agent) • Find it at your nearest LCBO • Share Recommendation
RUPPERTSBERGER LINSENBUSCH GEWÜRZTRAMINER SPÄTLESE 2015, Prädikatswein
Vintages #320473 • $17.95 • 750ml. • 89/100This is a moderately aromatic Gewürztraminer from the Pfalz in southern Germany. It is medium yellow with glints of gold. Aromas of peach blossom, ripe peach, apricot, yellow apple and grapefruit are supplemented by ginger and spice, with just a hint of soapiness. The wine is medium-dry, with 34 g/L of residual sugar that adds a richness and creaminess to the texture of the palate, where the fruit takes on a honeyed note. It is nicely balanced — pretty, juicy and quite delicious.
Tasted Nov 25, 2016 • CARTO ENTERPRISE (Agent) • Find it at your nearest LCBO • Share Recommendation
FLOR DE VETUS VERDEJO 2015, Old vines from Segovia, DO Rueda
Vintages #320259 • $15.95 • 750ml. • 88/100This is an excellent introduction to the Verdejo grape, that flourishes in the Rueda region of Spain. The wine is light straw in colour, fragrant and floral, with aromas suggesting apple blossoms, red apples and lemon. It is dry, with fresh acidity, balanced alcohol, and a rich and creamy texture, that refocuses on the finish with a light bitterness that complements the acidity. A fine value.
Tasted Nov 25, 2016 • TRIALTO WINE GROUP LTD. (Agent) • Find it at your nearest LCBO • Share Recommendation
TAHBILK MARSANNE 2015, Nagambie Lakes, Central Victoria
Vintages #117945 • $17.95 • 750ml. • 88/100This pleasant, lively Marsanne is lighter straw in colour, with glints of old gold. Bright aromas of apple blossom, honeysuckle, lemon, red apple and white peach are edged by a note of dried herbs. The wine is dry, with fresh acidity that infuses the fruit on the palate with freshness, and lingers on the stony finish. Very good.
Tasted Nov 18, 2016 • GRAPE EXPECTATIONS WINE AGENCY (Agent) • Find it at your nearest LCBO • Share Recommendation