available in Ontario from February 3, 2018
Here are eight wines from eight different grape varieties or blends and from seven different wine regions. I love the diversity, and all the wines are recommended for interest, balance, delicious drinkability and very good value.
The two sparkling wines are the excellent 2011 Patrick Chan Blanc de Blancs from Flat Rock Cellars on Niagara’s Twenty Mile Bench, and the 2015 Stars Brut Nature Reserve Cava. The six white table wines include the 2016 Argyros Assyrtiko from Santorini, a second release of the Chenin Blanc blend from the fine Paarl producer Avondale, their 2015 Jonty’s Ducks Pekin White, a 2016 Gewürztraminer from Niagara producer Fielding Estates, the 2016 Rabl Kittmansberg Grüner Veltliner from Kamptal in Austria, an intriguing wine from Sicily, the 2016 Inzolia dei Fornelli, and an unusual blend from the Loire, the 2015 Domaine de la Fruitière Vignes Blanches.
PATRICK CHAN SPARKLING BLANC DE BLANCS 2011, VQA Twenty Mile Bench, Niagara Escarpment, Ontario
Vintages #546291 • $29.95 • 750ml. • WD Score 91/100This subtle Niagara sparkler honours skater Patrick Chan: you can toast him as he skates for a medal at the 2018 Olympics in South Korea. Leesy, biscuity notes presage subtle lemon and yellow apple fruit, with an herbal-minty edge that shows for a few moments after the wine is poured. It is off-dry, with a little honeyed sweetness that dries nicely as the brilliant acidity firms and shapes the palate. A fine balance of toast, subtle fruit and herbs, with a gentle blanched almond nuttiness that emerges on the lemon-tinged, stony finish. Santé Patrick!
Tasted Jan 19, 2018 • FLAT ROCK CELLARS (Agent) • Find it at your nearest LCBO • Share Review
STARS BRUT NATURE RESERVA CAVA DO 2015
Vintages #515221 • $16.95 • 750ml. • WD Score 89/100A very direct and focused Cava here: toasty-leesy notes edge nuanced lemon and apple fruit, with that underlying Cava tone that reminds me of a very subtle resin. I really like the palate — the wine is bone-dry, light bodied, crisp, focused and almost austere. The finish is dry and stony. A very good wine and a fine value too.
Tasted Jan 19, 2018 • HANNA NEAL WINE MERCHANTS INC (Agent) • Find it at your nearest LCBO • Share Review
ARGYROS ASSYRTIKO 2016, PDO Santorini
Vintages #387365 • $27.95 • 750ml. • WD Score 90/100This is an Assyrtiko that revels in its mineral character. The nose has a spacious depth and breadth that suggests wet stones and sea shells, with a light lemony essence. The palate carries a surprising denseness and weight, but the flavour is all lemon and stones, with an underlying saltiness that infuses the finish. Savoury, salty, quite weighty, and so seafood friendly.
Tasted Jan 19, 2018 • THE KOLONAKI GROUP INC (Agent) • Find it at your nearest LCBO • Share Review
AVONDALE JONTY'S DUCKS PEKIN WHITE 2015, WO Paarl
Vintages #439554 • $15.95 • 750ml. • WD Score 90/100This is a second release of the 2015 vintage of Jonty's Ducks Pekin White, based on Chenin Blanc and supported by Roussanne, Muscat de Frontignan, Viognier and Semillon. The organically grown grapes are fermented with natural yeasts, and are aged in stainless steel and larger oak barrels on fine lees. What an attractive wine! Let's start with the lightly smoky-stony nose that shows lemon and yellow apple fruit. Bright acidity balances a lightly honeyed richness, while the cohesive yellow apple and lemon fruit on the palate takes on a touch of caramel, briefly suggesting Tarte Tatin. Yet the acidity is too firm for that impression to linger, as the wine returns to its tart lemon and stony-mineral beginnings. An excellent value.
Tasted Jan 19, 2018 • RARE EARTH WINES (Agent) • Find it at your nearest LCBO • Share Review
FIELDING GEWÜRZTRAMINER 2016, VQA Niagara Peninsula
Vintages #146753 • $19.95 • 750ml. • WD Score 89/100This is a style of Gewürztraminer that I enjoy: the grapes seem less ripe, so alcohol is modest, acidity is higher, and aromatics are clear but slightly restrained. The nose is freshly floral, with white peach, apricot, lemon and red apple fruit. The wine is off-dry, with bright acidity, and a fresh, vibrant palate — very direct and focused. The firm Niagara acidity and lower alcohol will make this very versatile with food.
Tasted Jan 19, 2018 • FIELDING ESTATE WINERY (Agent) • Find it at your nearest LCBO • Share Review
RABL KITTMANSBERG GRÜNER VELTLINER 2016, DAC Kamptal
Vintages #346007 • $16.95 • 750ml. • WD Score 89/100A nuanced earthy-stony breadth underlies a core of muted lemon-apple fruit, with a tinge of white pepper. The palate has a pleasant, slightly oily weight, rather neutral on the attack, but a lemon and apple intensity builds, with hints of wet stones and earth underneath. The wine is surprisingly intense and focused, with much more Grüner Veltliner character than I'd expect for this price. Both a fine introduction to Grüner and an excellent value.
Tasted Jan 19, 2018 • THOMPSON VINTAGE TRADE LTD (Agent) • Find it at your nearest LCBO • Share Review
INZOLIA DEI FORNELLI 2016, DOC Sicilia
Vintages #539932 • $22.95 • 750ml. • WD Score 89/100Inzolia, a rather aromatic grape indigenous to Sicily, is one of the traditional components of Marsala, but these days is often used to make a varietal table wine. This example is surprisingly bright and fresh: notes of white flowers and peach blossoms presage ripe peach, melon, yellow apple and lemon fruit. The wine is dry, with just enough acidity to keep the palate full of life, and a stony edge emerges and drives into the finish. There's a subtle weight that reflects its warm, southern origin, but the balance towards freshness makes this a very food-friendly wine. Definitely worth exploring.
Tasted Jan 23, 2018 • PARADIGM FINE WINE AGENCY (Agent) • Find it at your nearest LCBO • Share Review
DOMAINE DE LA FRUITIÈRE VIGNES BLANCHES 2015, IGP Val de Loire
Vintages #527184 • $15.95 • 750ml. • WD Score 89/100This is a terrific little wine. While I prefer my Loire varieties unblended, this blend of Melon de Bourgogne, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Folle Blanche is a delight. It is a firm, focused wine, quite dry, with bright acidity and very modest alcohol. I love the grapefruit edge from the Sauvignon Blanc, with a little generosity from the Chardonnay, and the stony, savoury, just-ripe ethos of the Loire itself. A fine introduction to the Loire — in spirit if not in composition. Very good value.
Tasted Jan 19, 2018 • SIGNATURE WINES & SPIRITS (Agent) • Find it at your nearest LCBO • Share Review