Sparkling and white wines — Champagne, Burgundy and much more

"... great sparkling wines, Chardonnays, Sauvignon Blancs, Rieslings and more ..."

available in Ontario from January 21, 2017

My final set of reviews from the January 21, 2017 Vintages release presents two sparkling wines and eight white wines. The list is headed by the truly excellent 2006 Pol Roger Vintage Brut Champagne, one of the most impressive Champagnes I’ve had the pleasure to taste in the past year or two regardless of price. It’s a bit unfair to place the second sparkling wine next to the Pol Roger, but within its own frame of reference the non-vintage Joseph Cattin Brut Rosé Crémant D’Alsace more than holds its own.

I’ve rated both of the Chardonnays and a Sauvignon Blanc from Sancerre at 90 points. These are the 2014 Marchand-Tawse Bourgogne Chardonnay, the 2014 Spy Valley Chardonnay Marlborough, New Zealand, and the 2014 Jean-Max Roger Cuvée C.M. Sancerre Blanc.

The remaining five wines provide interest and value at $19.95 and less: a Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, two Rieslings (the first a medium-dry Mosel and the second a drier Alsace), a Grüner Veltliner from Austria and a Cortese from Gavi in Piedmont.

  • 2015 Dashwood Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough
  • 2015 Loosen Bros. Dr. L Riesling Qualitätswein
  • 2015 Cave Vinicole Du Vieil Armand Riesling AC Alsace
  • 2015 Rabl Langenlois Grüner Veltliner DAC Kamptal
  • 2015 Michele Chiarlo Le Marne Gavi DOCG


Vintages #411793 • $95.95 • 750ml. • WD Score 94/100
This vintage 2006 Champagne, made from 60% Pinot Noir and 40% Chardonnay, has rested more than eight years on its lees in bottle prior to disgorgement. The wine is medium yellow-gold in colour, and while the nose doesn't jump from the glass, it is deeply nuanced and layered, with a core of lightly bruised apple, ripe apricot and fresher lemon fruit, surrounded by notes of sponge toffee, brioche and white chocolate, and even a light floral lift at the end. The wine reads as dry, with its residual sugar masked both by the high acidity and the beginnings of bottle evolution, while the finish brightens and lingers, with a saline-mineral texture. Lovely, complex and ready-to-enjoy.
Tasted 1/6/2017 • HALPERN ENTERPRISES (Agent)Find it at your nearest LCBOShare Review



Vintages #264572 • $19.95 • 750ml. • WD Score 88/100
This non-vintage sparkler is a regular offering at Vintages, and I like this current version quite well. This 100% Pinot Noir is darker salmon in hue, with aromas of lemon, red apples, strawberries and a nuance of toast. It is dry, with a small amount of residual sugar hidden by the bright acidity. Fruit on the palate is crisp, softened just a little by the lightly creamy texture, and the finish is firm and tart. A very good value.
Tasted 1/6/2017 • DIONYSUS WINES & SPIRITS LTD. (Agent)Find it at your nearest LCBOShare Review



Vintages #414557 • $28.95 • 750ml. • WD Score 90/100
This is a regional Bourgogne from the Marchand-Tawse partnership. The wine is light yellow, with smoky notes hiding aromas of lemon, apple, and white flowers. The wine is bone dry, with bright acidity, moderate alcohol and a medium body. Hints of resin don't detract from the core of lemon, apple and melon fruit on the palate, which remains crisp and firm through to the lengthy finish. Drinking wonderfully now, the wine has so much life that a year or two in cellar will continue the integration of oak, and should help this evolve into an even better wine. Highly recommended.
Tasted 1/6/2017 • BURGUNDY DIRECT LTD. (Agent)Find it at your nearest LCBOShare Review


SPY VALLEY CHARDONNAY 2014, Marlborough, South Island

Vintages #57737 • $22.95 • 750ml. • WD Score 90/100
We don't see very much barrel-fermented and aged Chardonnay from Marlborough in Vintages, and so this is a great opportunity to try one. The wine is light straw in colour, with smoky lemon and apple aromas, and a top note of white flowers. The wine is dry, with fresh acidity, medium alcohol and a lightly lactic, creamy texture. The smoky element recedes on the palate although it doesn't disappear, and the lemon, apple and melon elements come to the fore. The finish is quite lovely, with the citrus lingering and taking on a crushed stone undertone. Nicely done, and a fine value indeed.
Tasted 1/6/2017 • TRIALTO WINE GROUP LTD. (Agent)Find it at your nearest LCBOShare Review



Vintages #196667 • $27.95 • 750ml. • WD Score 90/100
Jean-Max Roger continues to deliver benchmark Sancerre. The CM cuvée is a blend of grapes from caillotes soil — clay-limestone soils strewn with rocks or caillotes, hence the C — with those from the terres blanches or white soils which are Kimmeridgian marls — hence the M from marls. The wine is a lighter straw-yellow. Subtle notes of green herbs and grass, with deeper undertones of stone and chalk, surround a slim core of lemon and green apple fruit. The wine is dry with a light-medium body, and a slight leesy creaminess balances the vivid acidity. The core of lemon-apple fruit expands on the palate as the herbal-grassy notes recede, but the chalky minerality persists through the lengthy finish. Excellent.
Tasted 1/6/2017 • CONNEXION OENOPHILIA (Agent)Find it at your nearest LCBOShare Review


DASHWOOD SAUVIGNON BLANC 2015, Marlborough, South Island

Vintages #465989 • $18.95 • 750ml. • WD Score 88.5/100
This is an attractive, mainstream Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc. The wine is light straw-yellow, with vivid grass, bell pepper and dried herb aromas, that rather overshadow the lemon, green apple and melon fruit on the nose. The wine is dry, with firm acidity, moderate alcohol and a medium body. The fruit comes to the fore on the palate, and the citrus element becomes more definitely grapefruit, complemented by apple and melon notes. The finish is pleasant and drying. A good value wine with lots of verve.
Tasted 1/6/2017 • LIFFORD WINE & SPIRITS (Agent)Find it at your nearest LCBOShare Review


LOOSEN BROS. DR. L RIESLING 2015, Qualitätswein

Vintages #599274 • $13.95 • 750ml. • WD Score 88.5/100
Dr. L. is one of the better values in Mosel Riesling. The wine is light straw, with pretty aromas of red apple, lemon-lime and white flowers, with just a hint of Riesling minerality. The wine is medium-dry, with low alcohol and vibrant acidity, and some richness from the sweetness. Pear and melon flavours add to the lemon-lime and apple fruit, and a stony-mineral finish dries nicely as the acidity lingers on the palate. This is a great value.
Tasted 1/6/2017 • SELECT WINE MERCHANTS INC. (Agent)Find it at your nearest LCBOShare Review



Vintages #205807 • $19.95 • 750ml. • WD Score 88/100
This Alsace Riesling is light straw-yellow in hue. The nose presents aromas of lime, lemon, red apple and melon, and gives a sense of breadth and richness. The wine is dry, and while the small amount of residual sugar is well-hidden by brisk acidity, it gives a generous richness and roundness to the palate to balance the crisp and tart fruit. A very pleasant rendition of Alsace Riesling.
Tasted 1/6/2017 • NATURAL VINES (Agent)Find it at your nearest LCBOShare Review



Vintages #377457 • $14.95 • 750ml. • WD Score 88/100
The wine is a lighter straw-yellow in hue. Aromas of white flowers, lemon and green apples are complemented by stony minerality and a slightly earthy note. With its high acidity, the wine presents as quite dry, with a lighter body and a pleasant, lightly creamy texture. The fruit on the palate seems a little riper and more complex, adding white peach and melon, while the creaminess dissipates on the finish, leaving a mineral-like residual. A very nice wine, and a tremendous value.
Tasted 1/6/2017 • THOMPSON VINTAGE TRADE LTD (Agent)Find it at your nearest LCBOShare Review



Vintages #228528 • $16.95 • 750ml. • WD Score 87.5/100
I think that Gavi, made from the Cortese grape in southern Piemonte, deserves a little more love than we normally give it. The wine is light straw, with a delicate floral note that graces aromas of lemon, green apple, melon and white peach. The wine is very dry, with lively acidity and modest alcohol. The fruit delicately gathers on the crisp, clean palate, that finishes with lingering citrus and salty minerality. A fine value.
Tasted 1/6/2017 • UNIVINS AND SPIRITS CANADA INC. (Agent)Find it at your nearest LCBOShare Review


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