available in Ontario on October 28, 2017
We have a very satisfying array of sparkling wines with this release, and these are my four recommendations. The 2009 Grand Cru Blanc de Blancs Champagne from Le Mesnil is not only a terrific wine on its own account, but at $62.95 it is also probably the best value (performance/price) Champagne I’ve tasted this year. The second wine is not Champagne, but is a very good offering from Champagne producer Louis Roederer’s Anderson Valley Estate in Sonoma — their Brut Sparkling cuvée. The third and fourth wines are appealing Crémants, both priced at $19.95: a new release of the Bailly Lapierre Réserve Brut Crémant de Bourgogne, and the Pierre Sparr Brut Rosé Crémant d’Alsace.
The first Pinot Noir is Norman Hardie’s 2016 unfiltered Niagara. It’s interesting to me that Hardie’s Niagara Pinots seem to be approaching the style of his County wines — a good thing in my view — making this rather atypical for Niagara Peninsula Pinot. The second is the 2015 vintage of Roche de Bellène’s excellent Cuvée Réserve Bourgogne. Their 2014 was my go-to regional Burgundy over the past six months, and I’m guessing that many will enjoy the modicum of extra ripeness from the 2015 vintage. The final Pinot is a very interesting, slightly smoky wine from Baden, Germany, the 2014 Kilian Hunn Pinot Noir Qualitätswein.
The final wine is a charming, quaffable cru Beaujolais, the 2015 Cuvée Mélinand from the village of Chiroubles.
LE MESNIL GRAND CRU BLANC DE BLANCS CHAMPAGNE AC 2009
Vintages #514208 • $62.95 • 750ml. • WD Score 93/100This is a very fine vintage Champagne from the Cooperative-Manipulant Le Mesnil, with grapes selected from a variety of Grand Cru vineyards. It pours medium-depth bright yellow, with glints of gold. A core of lemon-apple fruit is surrounded by subtle but complex aromas of toast, sweet brioche, hazelnuts and white chocolate. It is dry, with a pleasantly creamy breadth and texture that immediately tightens with an acidic bite, that carries into a stony, drying finish. A very attractive price for a very well-made and enticing Champagne.
Tasted Oct 6, 2017 • B. COJOCARU AGENCIES INC. (Agent) • Find it at your nearest LCBO • Share Review
ROEDERER ESTATE BRUT SPARKLING , Anderson Valley, Mendocino, California
Vintages #294181 • $37.95 • 750ml. • WD Score 91/100Roederer Estate, with vineyards in the Anderson Valley, is Champagne Louis Roederer's California outpost that was founded in 1982. This compelling sparkling wine gives an impression of spacious breadth on the nose, with delicate apple, lemon and pear fruit, a hint of white peach and blossoms, inside a subtle toast and hazelnut frame. The palate begins with a rich and creamy attack, but firms as the bright acidity takes over, drying the palate and finishing with a lingering astringent and saline essence. A very good, high quality wine, and a reasonable value at the higher end of non-champagne sparklers.
Tasted Oct 6, 2017 • AUTHENTIC WINE & SPIRITS MERCHANTS (Agent) • Find it at your nearest LCBO • Share Review
BAILLY LAPIERRE RÉSERVE BRUT CRÉMANT DE BOURGOGNE , Traditional method, AC, Burgundy
Vintages #991562 • $19.95 • 750ml. • WD Score 89/100This Crémant de Bourgogne is released in Vintages on a fairly continual basis, and deservedly so. The current edition is up to standard: its bright, crisp nose has pleasant toasty notes under bright lemon and apple fruit. It is dry, with a creamy richness balanced by firm acidity. There is a slight bruising of the fruit on the palate, with a subtle white chocolate richness added in. Lots of life and charm, and a fine value.
Tasted Oct 6, 2017 • VINEXX (Agent) • Find it at your nearest LCBO • Share Review
PIERRE SPARR BRUT ROSÉ CRÉMANT D'ALSACE , Traditional method, AC
Vintages #39016 • $19.95 • 750ml. • WD Score 88/100This is an attractive and well-made Crémant d'Alsace. Subtle aromas of yeast and toast precede a core of lemon and apple fruit, with hints of strawberries and apple blossoms. Just off-dry, with a pleasant generosity from subtle residual sugar nicely balanced by crisp acidity, that tautens the palate and carries into the finish, where lingering berry notes add complexity to the lemony-stony finish.
Tasted Oct 6, 2017 • DU CHASSE WINES & SPIRITS (Agent) • Find it at your nearest LCBO • Share Review
NORMAN HARDIE UNFILTERED NIAGARA PINOT NOIR 2016, VQA Niagara Peninsula
Vintages #208702 • $44.95 • 750ml. • WD Score 90/100This is Norman Hardie's unfiltered Niagara Pinot Noir, that has drawn closer in style to his trademark County wine. It is very translucent ruby-garnet, with a wide, pale, garnet rim. Bright but delicate sour cherry, raspberry and cranberry aromas are accompanied by a lift of violets and hints of dry earth and spice. Alcohol is very low at just 11.4%, and while the acidity is brisk, it seems more constrained than that of his County Pinot, despite the similar low alcohol. A whisper of a tannic burr persists into the gentle, fine-spun cherry and stone finish. For me, the slightly diminished acidity makes this an earlier-drinking wine.
Tasted Oct 17, 2017 • HARDIE WINES (Agent) • Find it at your nearest LCBO • Share Review
ROCHE DE BELLÈNE CUVÉE RÉSERVE PINOT NOIR BOURGOGNE AC 2015
Vintages #299859 • $21.95 • 750ml. • WD Score 89/100Roche de Bellène delivers another vintage of their fine red Burgundy. The wine is medium-depth red in colour, with bright and ripe sour cherry, raspberry and cranberry aromas, and a light floral lift. Fine silky tannins underlie the tart but ripe fruit, with a little earthy undertone appearing, and mingling with the tart fruit on the finish. Very modern, reflecting the warmth of 2015, but still with a pleasant depth of Burgundian character. Quite lovely — a fine value and a Best Buy.
Tasted Oct 6, 2017 • NICHOLAS PEARCE WINES INC (Agent) • Find it at your nearest LCBO • Share Review
KILIAN HUNN PINOT NOIR 2014, Qualitätswein
Vintages #523985 • $18.95 • 750ml. • WD Score 88/100This is an interesting Blauer Spätburgunder (Pinot Noir) from Baden in southwest Germany. It has some old-world Pinot character: from the appearance — ruby-red, with garnet on the rim — to the smoky attack, with delicate cherry, raspberry and blackberry aromas, and the deep earthy undertone. Firm acidity and fine tannins balance the alcohol that shows an edge of warmth. But in the end the acidity and tannins win, and the finish is filled with juicy fruit, and lingers with a tart sour cherry and tannic finish. A tremendous value.
Tasted Oct 6, 2017 • JOSEPH CIPELLI WINES & SPIRITS (Agent) • Find it at your nearest LCBO • Share Review
CUVÉE MÉLINAND CHIROUBLES AC 2015
Vintages #526699 • $17.95 • 750ml. • WD Score 88/100This is a simple, attractive Beaujolais. Perhaps its very dense, dark red colour suggests unnecessary extraction, but the pretty blueberry, blackberry and black cherry aromas translate into ripe, juicy fruit on the palate, enhanced by twiggy and earthy undertones. Acidity is bright and the tannins are fine and persistent — together they focus the fruit and gather it into the pleasant, drying finish. There's lots of easy pleasure here!
Tasted Oct 6, 2017 • RUBY WINES & SPIRITS (Agent) • Find it at your nearest LCBO • Share Review