available in Ontario from November 25, 2017
While longer-term readers know that my interest in white wines goes far beyond Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc, we get a constant stream of rather good examples of both grape varieties in Ontario. So with this release, I am recommending four more Chardonnays and three Sauvignon Blancs, along with three more treats.
The lead wine is a truly fine, but not in my view typical, Chardonnay from Napa Valley — the 2013 Grgich Hills Estate Chardonnay. Two examples from Niagara feature the 2015 Hidden Bench Estate Chardonnay from the Beamsville Bench, and the 2016 Henry Of Pelham Estate Chardonnay from the Short Hills Bench. The final Chardonnay is an attractively priced wine from Margaret River in Western Australia, the 2016 Robert Oatley Signature Series Chardonnay.
The three Sauvignon Blancs come from expected origins: two from the Loire include the 2016 Joseph Mellot la Chatellenie Sancerre, and the 2016 Domaine de la Chaise Touraine Sauvignon. The third is from Marlborough, New Zealand, the 2017 Stoneleigh Latitude Sauvignon Blanc.
The final three wines are the 2015 Tawse Sketches Of Niagara Riesling from Niagara, the 2015 Joseph Cattin Hatschbourg Gewurztraminer, an Alsace Grand Cru, and the 2016 Ilok Cellars Classic Graševina (Welschriesling) from Croatia.
GRGICH HILLS ESTATE CHARDONNAY 2013, Napa Valley
Vintages #346304 • $67.95 • 750ml. • WD Score 93/100This is a very fine Chardonnay on any measure, and to me it has very little to do with California as we now know it. It is a paler straw colour, with glints of old gold. The nose has a subtle, spacious breadth, with a firm, stony essence and the merest hint of lemon and green apples. The wine is firm, dry, and stony —- lightly reductive perhaps —- with a little more crisp lemon and green apple and green melon fruit showing through the stony-mineral frame. The finish lingers with petrichor-tinged acidity. Perhaps some elements of California are moving back in this direction, but Grgich Hills has always retained its ethos.
Tasted Nov 3, 2017 • ROGERS & COMPANY (Agent) • Find it at your nearest LCBO • Share Recommendation
HIDDEN BENCH ESTATE CHARDONNAY 2015, VQA Beamsville Bench, Niagara Escarpment
Vintages #68817 • $29.95 • 750ml. • WD Score 91/100Hidden Bench just continues to follow its well-defined agenda, without the hype surrounding some of the "edgy" Ontario wineries. This is a firm and accomplished Chardonnay: while the oak frame is definitely in place, with a resinous edge, there is a core of ripe but still fresh fruit, mostly lemon and apple, with a little melon and white peach too. The wine is dry, with lovely acidity and so much life on the palate — the resin notes have already dropped down to a very manageable undertone, and the acids firm the mid-palate and shape the lemony, stony finish. Really lovely. I'd give this at least another year in bottle (and maybe two), in order to tame the oak frame a little more, but it is eminently drinkable now.
Tasted Nov 3, 2017 • MARK ANTHONY BRANDS (Agent) • Find it at your nearest LCBO • Share Recommendation
HENRY OF PELHAM ESTATE CHARDONNAY 2016, VQA Short Hills Bench, Niagara Escarpment
Vintages #268342 • $19.95 • 750ml. • WD Score 89/100This is the first release of the 2016 vintage of this wine through Vintages. The bright mid-depth straw-yellow colour hints at the resin and oak spice that you will find on the nose, framing crisp lemon and apple fruit. Very dry, with crisp acidity, mid-weight and balanced, there is a lactic richness that enhances the pleasant fruit on the palate and helps to soften the oak notes. While quite approachable now, another year or two in bottle will help the oak to integrate and meld the wine into a more unified whole. Great value, and fine potential.
Tasted Nov 3, 2017 • HENRY OF PELHAM FAMILY EST. WINERY (Agent) • Find it at your nearest LCBO • Share Recommendation
ROBERT OATLEY SIGNATURE SERIES CHARDONNAY 2016, Margaret River, Western Australia
Vintages #350900 • $18.95 • 750ml. • WD Score 88/100An attractive, modern Chardonnay from Margaret River. Very subtle vanilla and resin notes frame bright lemon and green apple fruit on the nose. Firm acidity defines the palate, where the fruit takes on a slightly riper tone, moving into the melon and white peach spectrum, but retaining freshness. Nicely done, ripe but lively, and presented in a direct and focused manner. A fine value.
Tasted Nov 14, 2017 • EPIC WINES AND SPIRITS INC. (Agent) • Find it at your nearest LCBO • Share Recommendation
JOSEPH MELLOT LA CHATELLENIE SANCERRE AC 2016
Vintages #525154 • $29.95 • 750ml. • WD Score 89/100The subtle nose suggests a stony, mineral breadth with a light citrus backdrop. It is bone-dry, with firm acidity, engendering more lemony fruit on the palate, accompanied by the merest hint of an herbal, grassy and earthy edge over a bed of wet stones. Very good value in a Sancerre, showing just a tinge of ripeness from the 2016 vintage.
Tasted Nov 10, 2017 • LIFFORD WINE & SPIRITS (Agent) • Find it at your nearest LCBO • Share Recommendation
DOMAINE DE LA CHAISE TOURAINE SAUVIGNON AC 2016
Vintages #452540 • $16.95 • 750ml. • WD Score 88/100Rather vegetal and grassy off the top, fresh, bright lemon, grapefruit and green apple fruit are nestled behind the initial impression. Very dry, with crisp acidity, moderate alcohol, and mineral and stony base. Very much old world in tone, more about the vegetal-herbal savoury elements and the stony minerality than the fruit. A good value.
Tasted Nov 10, 2017 • GRAND CRU WINE & SPIRIT MERCHANTS (Agent) • Find it at your nearest LCBO • Share Recommendation
STONELEIGH LATITUDE SAUVIGNON BLANC 2017, Marlborough, South Island
Vintages #324228 • $21.95 • 750ml. • WD Score 89/100A mainstream Marlborough Savvy, with that sweaty, vegetal and grassy attack, and a grapefruit and green apple core. The fruit on the palate largely overpowers the vegetal and earthy elements, as the firm acidity focuses into an essence of citrus-grapefruit with green apple and melon notes too. The finish extends as white grapefruit and green herbs take on a stony, petrichor essence. Really very enjoyable.
Tasted Nov 3, 2017 • CORBY SPIRIT AND WINE LIMITED (Agent) • Find it at your nearest LCBO • Share Recommendation
TAWSE SKETCHES OF NIAGARA RIESLING 2015, VQA Niagara Peninsula
Vintages #89029 • $18.95 • 750ml. • WD Score 89/100This is a very attractive sweet-tart Niagara Riesling. The nose has a pretty, honeyed lemon and apple fruit essence, with an airy breadth that suggests wet stones and the precursor of some Riesling mineral-rubber. It is definitely off-dry, but the vivid acidity enacts a tart overriding impact that dries the palate, and infuses the finish with a stony, lemon-tinged essence. This sweet-tart persona is perhaps the most approachable and accessible style of Niagara Riesling.
Tasted Nov 14, 2017 • TAWSE WINERY INC. (Agent) • Find it at your nearest LCBO • Share Recommendation
JOSEPH CATTIN HATSCHBOURG GEWURZTRAMINER 2015, AC Alsace Grand Cru
Vintages #259770 • $24.95 • 750ml. • WD Score 89/100This is a peachy, floral, rosewater-tinged Gewürztraminer, with a firm centre of apricot, melon, apple and lemon aromas, and a spicy edge. It is medium dry — with 30 grams/litre of residual sugar — and when you add some tropical fruit cup complexity to the fruit on the palate, you get full-blown Gewürz complexity, but acidity is firm enough to keep the richness in balance. Charming and luscious.
Tasted Nov 10, 2017 • DIONYSUS WINES & SPIRITS LTD. (Agent) • Find it at your nearest LCBO • Share Recommendation
ILOK CELLARS CLASSIC GRASEVINA 2016, Croatia
Vintages #517474 • $13.95 • 750ml. • WD Score 88/100An interesting wine made from Gra?evina, the Croatian name for Welschriesling, a higher acidity and somewhat aromatic grape grown mostly in central Europe. The wine is pale straw in colour. Immediately the nose suggests an earthy, vegetal and light grassy edge — reminiscent of some aspects of both Grüner Veltliner and old world Sauvignon Blanc — with bright lemon, grapefruit and apple fruit hiding behind. The wine is dry, with bright acidity and modest alcohol — fresh, grassy and citric. At $14 bring it on!
Tasted Nov 10, 2017 • ROLAND AND RUSSELL (Agent) • Find it at your nearest LCBO • Share Recommendation