available in Ontario from December 9, 2017
Three Rieslings from Niagara and two from Germany head this list, with two fine white Burgundies, a Sancerre, a Marsanne blend from the southern Rhône, an Albariño from Rías Baixas, and a Pinot Gris from the Willamette Valley.
The Niagara Rieslings include the excellent 2015 Estate Riesling from Hidden Bench, the 2016 Charles Baker Ivan Vineyard Riesling, and the 2016 Featherstone Black Sheep Riesling. The German Rieslings feature the 2016 Spätlese Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling from Studert-Prüm and the 2016 Dr. Loosen Blue Slate Riesling.
Our four terrific recommendations from France include a 2013 Saint-Romain from Maison Ambroise, the 2015 Maison Roche de Bellene Vieilles Vignes Bourgogne, the 2016 Sancerre Cuvée Les Caillottes from Jean-Max Roger, and the 2015 Coudoulet de Beaucastel Blanc, a Côtes du Rhône from Château de Beaucastel.
The final two wines are an Albariño, the 2016 Valtea from Rías Baixas, and a pleasant Pinot Gris from the Willamette Valley, the 2015 Brella Pinot Gris.
HIDDEN BENCH ESTATE RIESLING 2015, VQA Beamsville Bench, Niagara Escarpment
Vintages #183491 • $23.95 • 750ml. • WD Score 91/100As always, Hidden Bench stays firmly on course with its Estate Riesling. This is their entry level Riesling — air quotes around "entry level" please — assembled from across the estate Riesling plantings, as opposed to their upper tier wines from single vineyards. The nose is stony and savoury, with just the merest hint of Riesling resin, and firm citrus and apple fruit. While the wine is technically off-dry, acidity is very firm and the palate is dominated by focused Riesling stoniness, with savoury dried herbs, subtle lime, lemon and green apple fruit, and a drying stony-salty finish. A Niagara benchmark.
Tasted Nov 21, 2017 • MARK ANTHONY BRANDS (Agent) • Find it at your nearest LCBO • Share Review
STUDERT-PRÜM WEHLENER SONNENUHR RIESLING SPÄTLESE 2016, Prädikatswein
Vintages #912659 • $27.95 • 750ml. • WD Score 90/100A compelling spectrum of citrusy green apple, melon, pear and peach aromas are graced by white flowers and apple blossoms, with a wet stone undertone. The palate exudes a honeyed richness — medium sweet but with vivid acidity that creates a balancing juicy tartness. And while apricot and peach introduce the flavour panoply, the palate dances through the complexity that the nose suggests, and finishes with a firm, lingering stony-lime essence. Complex, harmonious and quite lovely.
Tasted Nov 17, 2017 • VINEXX (Agent) • Find it at your nearest LCBO • Share Review
CHARLES BAKER IVAN VINEYARD RIESLING 2016, VQA Twenty Mile Bench, Niagara Escarpment
Vintages #395921 • $27.20 • 750ml. • WD Score 89/100So attractive and full of life — the wine is certainly off-dry, with sweetness portraying as juicy red apple, melon and peach fruit, broadened by honey, but balanced by tart lemon-lime underpinnings that focus the palate and drives into the wet stone finish. The nose shows an edge of Riesling rubber that adds depth, but perhaps is a touch aggressive given the youthfulness of the wine. Overall very good, with the structure to reward additional time in the cellar.
Tasted Nov 23, 2017 • STRATUS VINEYARDS (Agent) • Find it at your nearest LCBO • Share Review
DR. LOOSEN BLUE SLATE RIESLING KABINETT 2016, Prädikatswein
Vintages #160846 • $22.95 • 750ml. • WD Score 89/100A stony breadth hints of rubber, foretelling future bottle evolution, then notes of honeyed lime and green apple fruit fill the nose. Vivid acidity tames the residual sugar, while the fruit on the palate takes on a more generous ripeness as ripe pear and melon notes add to the mix. The finish lingers with an impression of lime and wet stones. This is a fine introduction to medium-dry Mosel Kabinett: rounded and honeyed, yet tart and fresh — and, of course, delicious.
Tasted Nov 17, 2017 • SELECT WINE MERCHANTS INC. (Agent) • Find it at your nearest LCBO • Share Review
FEATHERSTONE BLACK SHEEP RIESLING 2016, VQA Niagara Peninsula
Vintages #80234 • $16.95 • 750ml. • WD Score 88/100Six months on from its previous release in August of 2017 (review here), the wine is a little less showy on the nose, with a Riesling stony edge surrounding muted notes of white flowers, lime, green apple and melon. The wine is off-dry, with bright acidity that brings life to the palate and nicely balances the residual sugar. A juicy, tart and mineral finish, and a fine value.
Tasted Nov 21, 2017 • FEATHERSTONE WINERY (Agent) • Find it at your nearest LCBO • Share Review
MAISON AMBROISE SAINT-ROMAIN AC 2013
Vintages #522185 • $44.95 • 750ml. • WD Score 91/100This is a compelling white Burgundy. Smoky, reductive, with lots of oaky resin, the nose at first hides much of the lemon and apple fruit. But the palate comes alive with vivid acidity as the fruit emerges, with a tart citrus, green apple essence. The oaky frame retreats, as the finish takes on a stony, saline edge. While full of life and drive, and exhilarating to drink right now, another year or two in cellar will help to tame the oak frame. Top notch.
Tasted Nov 17, 2017 • BRAND NEW DAY WINES & SPIRITS (Agent) • Find it at your nearest LCBO • Share Review
MAISON ROCHE DE BELLENE VIEILLES VIGNES BOURGOGNE CHARDONNAY AC 2015
Vintages #299867 • $22.95 • 750ml. • WD Score 90/100This is a fine, compact white Burgundy: a suggestion of breadth from older barrels, nuanced lemon, apple and melon fruit, and a savoury, herbal undertone. Firm acidity anchors the palate, full of life with its subtle fruit, and a lingering savoury, stony finish. Full value, and then some.
Tasted Nov 17, 2017 • NICHOLAS PEARCE WINES INC (Agent) • Find it at your nearest LCBO • Share Review
JEAN-MAX ROGER CUVÉE LES CAILLOTTES SANCERRE AC 2016
Vintages #65573 • $27.95 • 750ml. • WD Score 91/100Les Caillottes — referring to the stony, limestone-clay soils — is one of my favourite cuvées from Jean-Max Roger. The subtle earthy, vegetal and grassy notes don't hide a lemony-grapefruit essence, that catches just a glint of riper melon and white peach fruit. The wine is dry, with an acidic, white grapefruit tone on the palate, and then a stony, grapefruit-tinged finish. There is just a hint of extra ripeness here that reflects the warm fall after a difficult growing year in the eastern Loire. So lovely — I'm still tasting the stony grapefruit as I write my notes.
Tasted Nov 17, 2017 • CONNEXION OENOPHILIA (Agent) • Find it at your nearest LCBO • Share Review
CHÂTEAU DE BEAUCASTEL COUDOULET DE BEAUCASTEL BLANC 2015, AC Côtes du Rhône
Vintages #48892 • $34.95 • 750ml. • WD Score 90/100This is a satisfying savoury and mineral-tinged Marsanne blend. Subtle notes of dried herbs introduce muted lemon, yellow apple, melon and white peach fruit. It is dry, with firm acidity and balanced alcohol, and while the fruit gently replays on the palate, the wine narrows into a lemon and herb finish, carried on a lightly astringent, stony minerality. This wine so much reflects a renewed appreciation for subtlety and balance in white wines from the south of France.
Tasted Nov 17, 2017 • CHARTON HOBBS INC (Agent) • Find it at your nearest LCBO • Share Review
VALTEA ALBARIÑO 2016, DO Rías Baixas
Vintages #518019 • $22.95 • 750ml. • WD Score 90/100A lovely bright fruit and floral nose presents a depth of crisp lemon, pear and green apple fruit, with just a hint of Albariño peach, all over a bed of wet stones and sea shells. The zippy acidic edge balances the slightly riper palate, that shows more peach blossom, peach and melon fruit, and then focuses into the salty, stony finish. Appealing, with fine typicity and vibrant life.
Tasted Nov 17, 2017 • NEWGENWINES (Agent) • Find it at your nearest LCBO • Share Review
BRELLA PINOT GRIS 2015, Willamette Valley
Vintages #514950 • $21.95 • 750ml. • WD Score 88/100This is a pleasant wine moving towards a "gris" style as the name suggests. Light honey and waxy notes are followed by generous red apple and lemon fruit with hints of melon and white peach. The wine is off-dry, with surprisingly crisp acidity. A subtle generosity underpins the gentle fruit, while a whisper of residual sugar lingers with the balancing acidity on the finish. This is an attractive alternative for those who love their basic Pinot Grigio — try as an enticing apéritif.
Tasted Nov 23, 2017 • NICHOLAS PEARCE WINES INC (Agent) • Find it at your nearest LCBO • Share Review