available in Ontario from January 21, 2017
The first set of red wines that I have selected from the January 21, 2017 Vintages release includes three Pinot Noirs, a Gamay from Niagara, two Riojas and two Tuscans.
In my view, New Zealand has set the standard for new world Pinot Noir, with its ability to create lovely fruit-filled wines while maintaining the layering and depth that Pinot lovers should require. Here are two examples from Marlborough. The first is the premium 2012 Spy Valley Envoy Outpost Vineyard Pinot Noir Omaka Valley, and the second is the attractively priced 2014 Babich Black Label Pinot Noir. The third Pinot I am recommending is an excellent regional Bourgogne, the 2014 Marchand-Tawse Bourgogne Pinot Noir AC.
Gamay from Ontario continues to intrigue, and one long-standing favourite is the “Gamay Droit” from Chateau des Charmes. The latest vintage to be released in Vintages is the 2015 Château des Charmes St. David’S Bench Vineyard Gamay Noir Droit.
The two Riojas that I am recommending tend towards a traditional expression, in both cases Riservas with some years in bottle that are showing the consequences of aging in American oak. The first is a very fine offering from the prestigious producer CVNE, the 2010 CVNE Imperial Reserva DOCa Rioja. The second is actually a year older, the 2009 Don Jacobo Reserva DOCa Rioja.
Finally, I present two very attractively priced Sangiovese-based wines from Tuscany, the 2013 Basciano Chianti Rufina DOCG and the 2014 Rocca Di Montemassi Le Focaie DOC Maremma Toscana.
SPY VALLEY ENVOY OUTPOST VINEYARD PINOT NOIR 2012, Omaka Valley, Marlborough, South Island
Vintages #465872 • $49.95 • 750ml. • WD Score 90/100These grapes are sourced from Spy Valley's Outpost Vineyard in the Omaka Valley. The wine is medium ruby-red, with vibrant cherry, raspberry and blackberry fruit, with a dusting of cinnamon and vanilla, and a smoky-earthy edge. The wine is very dry, with lively acidity, medium alcohol and body, and fine tannins. The fruit on the palate is very pure and finely etched, certainly the leading story there, but the earthy and twiggy character remains in place underneath, the oak-derived spice is gentle, and a pleasant dried herb note appears towards the finish. Great new world complexity here, with enough Pinot character to satisfy most lovers of the grape. Quite lovely.
Tasted 1/6/2017 • TRIALTO WINE GROUP LTD. (Agent) • Find it at your nearest LCBO • Share Review
BABICH BLACK LABEL PINOT NOIR 2014, Marlborough, South Island
Vintages #465963 • $24.95 • 750ml. • WD Score 88.5/100This Pinot is made from fruit originating in estate vineyards located in the Waihopai (80%) and Wairau (20%) valleys in Marlborough. The wine is medium ruby-red, showing some garnet. The nose presents lots of pretty cherry, raspberry and blackberry fruit, slightly earthy, with floral and slightly candied notes on top. Bright acidity carries the lively fruit on the palate, with some good Pinot character, while the fine tannins mesh with the acidity on the lingering and lightly mineral finish. A good introduction to Marlborough Pinot.
Tasted 1/6/2017 • DIONYSUS WINES & SPIRITS LTD. (Agent) • Find it at your nearest LCBO • Share Review
MARCHAND-TAWSE BOURGOGNE PINOT NOIR AC 2014
Vintages #285601 • $27.95 • 750ml. • WD Score 89.5/100This is a very good regional red Burgundy from the cool and wet 2014 season. The wine is lighter ruby-red in hue, starting to show garnet on the rim. Vibrant aromas of red cherry, raspberry and cranberry fruit dance over earthy and twiggy undertones. Fresh acidity and fine tannins are carried on a mid- to light-weight palate, which has good Pinot depth and earthiness and a pleasant, fruit-filled and stony-mineral finish. Authentic in a modern style, and very good.
Tasted 1/6/2017 • BURGUNDY DIRECT LTD. (Agent) • Find it at your nearest LCBO • Share Review
CHÂTEAU DES CHARMES ST. DAVID'S BENCH VINEYARD GAMAY NOIR DROIT 2015, VQA St. David's Bench, Niagara-on-the-Lake
Vintages #346742 • $17.95 • 750ml. • WD Score 88.5/100This St. David's Bench Gamay is made from the "Droit" clone of Gamay Noir that Paul Bosc isolated in his vineyards in the early 1980s. The wine is ruby-red, still translucent though rather deeply coloured. Cherry, raspberry and blackberry aromas are graced with a floral scent and underpinned by notes of dry earth and humus. The wine is fully dry, with firm acidity, moderate alcohol, and slightly gritty tannins. The fruit repeats on the palate, and finishes with fine acidity and a tannic burr. This is a lovely wine with fine structure, that in my view would soar even higher with a touch less extraction. A must-try indeed.
Tasted 1/6/2017 • CHATEAU DES CHARMES (Agent) • Find it at your nearest LCBO • Share Review
CVNE IMPERIAL RESERVA 2010, DOCa Rioja
Vintages #424390 • $38.95 • 750ml. • WD Score 90/100Grapes for the Imperial Reserva are harvested from vineyards in the village of Villalba in Rioja Alta: 85% Tempranillo, 10% Graciano and 5% Mazuelo (Carignan). The wine is a somewhat deep cherry-red in hue, showing aromas of cherry, raspberry and blackberry fruit, with notes of vanilla and coconut. Acidity is still vivid and tannins are elevated but softening. While the fruit on the palate maintains some freshness, it is starting to dry and shows some leathery evolution, with a hint of briny olives. There is a little constrained heat that settles on the mid-palate, which resolves into a drying finish. Quite lovely and complex.
Tasted 1/10/2017 • VON TERRA ENTERPRISES LTD. (Agent) • Find it at your nearest LCBO • Share Review
DON JACOBO RESERVA 2009, DOCa Rioja
Vintages #313270 • $22.95 • 750ml. • WD Score 88/100This Rioja is 90% Tempranillo with the balance from Garnacha and Mazuelo (Carignan). The wine is cherry-red with garnet highlights. Notes of leather, black olives, tapenade and cedary resin surround a core of cherry and blackberry fruit. Firm acidity and fine tannins carry the palate, where the evolving fruit and oak-derived notes are meshing rather well, although I suspect oak will always be a factor in this rather old-school expression of the region.
Tasted 1/10/2017 • SAINT GERMAIN LTD. (Agent) • Find it at your nearest LCBO • Share Review
BASCIANO CHIANTI RUFINA DOCG 2013
Vintages #68163 • $15.95 • 750ml. • WD Score 88/100The wine is dark red in colour, with a very narrow red rim. Ripe black cherry and blackberry fruit, with subtle oak spice and a hint of cedary resin fill the nose. Acidity is brisk, the tannins are fine. The fruit is still quite fresh on the palate, with just the beginning of a leathery note, along with a suggestion of vanilla and resin. This is a very good value Chianti Rufina, ready to drink now, and over the shorter term.
Tasted 1/6/2017 • JOSEPH CIPELLI WINES & SPIRITS (Agent) • Find it at your nearest LCBO • Share Review
ROCCA DI MONTEMASSI LE FOCAIE 2014, DOC Maremma Toscana
Vintages #31005 • $15.95 • 750ml. • WD Score 88/100This 100% Sangiovese from Maremma is darker ruby-red, just starting to show garnet on the rim. Aromas suggest fresh and ripe cherry, blackberry and black currant fruit, licorice, earth, twigs and a note of cedar. Elevated acidity and fine tannins carry the rich, pleasant fruit into a moderate fruit-filled finish with a fine, drying astringency. Very good value
Tasted 1/6/2017 • IMPRESE INC. (Agent) • Find it at your nearest LCBO • Share Review