Five Chardonnays, a Chenin Blanc and a Pinot Gris

"... five Chardonnays from South Africa, Chablis, Niagara, Pouilly-Fuissé and California, a Chenin Blanc from South Africa and a Pinot Gris from Oregon ..."

available in Ontario on September 30, 2017

On WineDiscovery, we have a penchant for lean and fine-boned Chardonnay, and three of the recommendations are definitely in this camp: a compact and focused wine from South African producer Hamilton Russel, a Chablis 1er Cru from Jean-Marc Brocard, and a finely drawn Chardonnay Musqué from Cave Spring in Beamsville. Then two more wines take on a richer and more fulsome persona (and more obvious oak too), but still maintain great balance: a Pouilly-Fuissé from Domaine des Deux Roches, and a surprisingly balanced and attractive California Chardonnay from Robert Mondavi.

The sixth wine is the very interesting and value-driven Vinum Africa Chenin Blanc from Stellenbosch, South Africa, while the seventh is the charming A to Z Pinot Gris from Oregon.


HAMILTON RUSSELL CHARDONNAY 2016, WO Hemel-en-Aarde Valley, Walker Bay

Vintages #931006 • $43.95 • 750ml. • WD Score 92/100
This is a lean and compact offering from Hamilton Russel. Oak spice and resin frame understated lemon and apple fruit. The wine is dry, with bright, piercing acidity that reflects only partial malolactic conversion, but a subtle leesy creaminess helps balance the sharp acids. Obviously there has been a real effort to keep this wine on the side of freshness, and the effort succeeds. But I'd cellar this for at least two years (it will last much longer than that), to promote better integration of the oak. But after all is said, it's just a terrific, focused wine.
Tasted Sept 9, 2017 • TRIALTO WINE GROUP LTD. (Agent)Find it at your nearest LCBOShare Review



Vintages #488825 • $31.95 • 750ml. • WD Score 91/100
The wine is medium-depth yellow with glints of gold. Vanilla and light notes of resin frame very subtle lemony-apple fruit aromas, with a lift of white flowers. The fruit is more forward on the palate as the oak notes subside, and a leesy richness develops. But the firm acidity wins through, adding a light sour edge towards the finish, and drying with a lingering salty, lemon character. Note that there may be some bottle variation: one of three bottles tasted was slightly oxidative and less attractive. This is a very modern Pouilly-Fuissé that succeeds because of its great acidity.
Tasted Sept 9, 2017 • BARRIQUE WINES & SPIRITS IMPORTS (Agent)Find it at your nearest LCBOShare Review



Vintages #159012 • $43.95 • 750ml. • WD Score 91/100
A compelling Chablis from the cooler 2014 vintage. Light smoke and a flinty stoniness precede finely-etched lemon and green apple fruit, and lingering notes of sea shells and iodine. The wine is bone-dry and firm, but with a leesy breadth and weight that contrasts with the lean, stony and drying mid-palate and finish. Classic Chablis for sure.
Tasted Sept 9, 2017 • PREVEDELLO AND MATHEWS (Agent)Find it at your nearest LCBOShare Review



Vintages #310409 • $29.95 • 750ml. • WD Score 90/100
It's nice to see that the swing back towards more elegant wines is even reaching California, and is beginning to show itself in this mainstream wine. Subtle aromas of vanilla and resin provide a gentle backdrop for lemon, yellow apple and white peach fruit. The expected richness and creaminess of the palate is enlivened by bright acidity, while the alcohol is moderate, and the wood flavours remain nicely constrained. California, but with welcome finesse and elegance.
Tasted Sept 9, 2017 • ARTERRA WINES CANADA INC. (Agent) • Find it at your nearest LCBOShare Review


CAVE SPRING ESTATE BOTTLED CHARDONNAY MUSQUÉ 2015, Cave Spring Vineyard, VQA Beamsville Bench, Niagara Peninsula

Vintages #246579 • $16.95 • 750ml. • WD Score 89/100
Previously released in June. Chardonnay Musqué is an aromatic clone of Chardonnay, and this wine is sourced from a single block of the Cave Spring Estate vineyard. Charming fragrances of white flowers and peach blossom are followed by notes of white peach, lemon, and perfumed red apples. The palate is dry and crisp, the fruit is bright and precise, with a lingering lemon, peach and wet-stone finish. This is a fine alternative for those looking for an unoaked Chardonnay.
Tasted Sept 9, 2017 • CAVE SPRING CELLARS LTD., (Agent)Find it at your nearest LCBOShare Review



Vintages #739995 • $15.95 • 750ml. • WD Score 89/100
Quite a convincing Chenin Blanc from Stellenbosch. It is bone-dry, with firm acidity and surprisingly modest alcohol. On the nose, light smoke and toasty aromas preface just-ripe lemon and apple fruit. The barrel notes give some breadth that balances the acidity, while the fruit expands towards the finish that dries with a nutty and toasty undertone. Firm, bright and fresh — and a very good value indeed.
Tasted Sept 9, 2017 • NOBLE ESTATES WINES & SPIRITS INC. (Agent)Find it at your nearest LCBOShare Review


A TO Z PINOT GRIS 2015, Oregon

Vintages #258145 • $19.95 • 750ml. • WD Score 88/100
An engaging Pinot Gris from Oregon. The perfumed red apple, lemon and melon fruit on the nose nicely reprise on the palate. But because the wine is just off-dry, there is a little extra texture and weight, and a light honeyed element, although the firm acidity maintains a brisk freshness. A very pleasant apple skin bitterness adds interest on the finish. Simple, direct and quite enticing.
Tasted Sept 9, 2017 • NICHOLAS PEARCE WINES INC (Agent)Find it at your nearest LCBOShare Review


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