I have found an interesting assortment of wines from the April 30th release. The presentation begins with the excellent Tarlant Zero Brut Nature Champagne. This is followed by three good rosés. I generally prefer dry rosés, and the first two wines from Provence and Tavel are very good examples. If you prefer to move into the off-dry spectrum, then the third wine, from local producer Tawse Winery, is an excellent and very quaffable wine.
Then I review three Pinot Noirs. The first two are from Oregon, where the expression of the grape potentially combines new world fruit with older world savoury and earthy tones. And at their best they can be quite elegant, avoiding the excesses of over-ripe fruit and high alcohol that sometimes mar Pinots from further south. The third wine, from Marlborough, is a very competent and good-value Pinot that shows some New Zealand character.
Of the eight white wines presented, the first is an Albariño from Rias Baixas. This is followed by a good local off-dry Niagara Riesling, and then by an interesting Alsatian Gewürztraminer. There are three Chardonnays, headlined by Norman Hardie’s excellent 2014 Niagara Chardonnay, and backed by wines from Montagny and Chablis. Finally there are two Sauvignon Blancs from Marlborough, and from Quincy in the Loire.
TARLANT ZERO BRUT NATURE CHAMPAGNE AC
Vintages #996264 • $57.95 • 750ml. • 92/100We have a double emphasis here, as "Brut Zero" and "Brut Nature" are both terms that signify that no sugar was added when the wine was re-corked after disgorgement. So the wine is bone dry, with brisk acidity, very modest alcohol, and a medium body with a crisp, lightly creamy mousse. The lemon, apple, white flower, honey and brioche aromas translate to the palate with an additional underlying minerality that dominates the crisp, clean finish. A lovely blend of 1/3 each Chardonnay, Pinot Meunier and Pinot Noir. Very good value for an excellent Champagne.
Tasted April 15, 2016 • B AND W WINES (Agent) • Find it at your nearest LCBO • Share Recommendation
SAINT AIX ROSÉ 2015, AP Coteaux d'Aix en Provence
Vintages #451906 • $22.95 • 750ml. • 88.5/100This Provençal rosé is light salmon-pink, with delicate aromas of apple blossom, red apples, orange zest, strawberries and raspberries. The wine is dry, with tangy acidity, very modest alcohol and medium body. The fruit is crisp and clean on the palate, and the finish is pleasant and lightly mineral. Very linear and direct — one of my favourite rosés so far this spring.
Tasted April 19, 2016 • FAMILY WINE MERCHANTS INC. (Agent) • Find it at your nearest LCBO • Share Recommendation
DOMAINE MABY LA FORCADIÈRE TAVEL ROSÉ AC 2015
Vintages #701318 • $18.95 • 750ml. • 88/100This is a light neon-tinged pink rosé from Tavel. You will find fresh raspberry, strawberry and watermelon fruit on the nose, with a hint of spice and garrigue. While the wine is bone dry, and the acidity is slightly elevated, the alcohol is a little elevated too, giving a slightly fuller body and generating some warmth on the mid-palate. Light tannins add some welcome texture, and the fruit flavours take on a riper character on the palate, with a nuance of menthol adding complexity to the finish. A bigger, bolder rosé.
Tasted April 15, 2016 • STEN O. KJELLBERG (Agent) • Find it at your nearest LCBO • Share Recommendation
TAWSE SKETCHES OF NIAGARA ROSÉ 2015, VQA Niagara Peninsula
Vintages #172643 • $16.95 • 750ml. • 87/100This is the 2015 version of Tawse Winery's dependable Sketches of Niagara rosé. It's bright pink, and matching the colour you will find vivid aromas of watermelon and raspberry fruit, with a hint of green herbs and dry leaves. The wine is off-dry, with crisp acidity that helps keep it quite well balanced and fresh. The fruit explodes on the palate, where red apple and apple blossom notes add to the mix. Pleasant, simple and direct. A touch more acidity, or a little less residual sugar, would make this even better. Good value.
Tasted April 19, 2016 • TAWSE WINERY INC. (Agent) • Find it at your nearest LCBO • Share Recommendation
WILLAKENZIE ESTATE GISÈLE PINOT NOIR 2013, Certified Sustainable, Yamhill-Carlton, Willamette Valley
Vintages #452656 • $36.95 • 750ml. • 91/100Here is a very satisfying Pinot from the Yamhill-Carlton sub-region of Oregon's Willamette Valley. This actually looks like Pinot, with its rather translucent ruby-garnet core. The nose features pretty strawberry, raspberry and cherry fruit, and lightly savoury-earthy notes. The wine is dry, with brisk acidity, moderate alcohol and fine, persistent tannins. The pleasant fruit is ripe but still lively on the palate, with savoury undertones, and the whole package has a restraint and elegance that nicely straddles the new world-old world divide.
Tasted April 15, 2016 • GLEN-WARD WINES INC. (Agent) • Find it at your nearest LCBO • Share Recommendation
MAISON L'ENVOYÉ TWO MESSENGERS PINOT NOIR 2013, Willamette Valley
Vintages #453357 • $36.20 • 750ml. • 90/100I'm happy that we are seeing more Pinot Noir from Oregon's Willamette Valley here in Ontario. The nose is complex, presenting rich and ripe aromas of strawberry and raspberry fruit, cinnamon candy, vanilla and spice, but also an intriguing beet root and earthy underpinning. The wine is dry, with crisp acidity, modest alcohol, and fine-grained, grippy tannins. This is so much a new-world Pinot, but without the flabbiness that can come with riper fruit, and an earthy core that still has some real Pinot character. Very attractive to drink now, but another year in bottle will allow the wood-driven notes to soften and integrate.
Tasted April 15, 2016 • TERRA FINE WINES (Agent) • Find it at your nearest LCBO • Share Recommendation
SUGAR LOAF PINOT NOIR 2014, Marlborough, South Island
Vintages #447359 • $24.95 • 750ml. • 88/100Here is a fresh, simple New Zealand Pinot Noir. It pours ruby-red and shows garnet on the rim, with a pretty, slightly lifted nose that has aromas suggesting cherries, raspberries, cranberries and vanilla. It is dry, with brisk acidity and moderate, fine-grained tannins, while the ripe fruit on the palate shows a light savoury-earthy undertone, and the fruit and acidity carry through into the brisk, pleasant finish. Very New Zealand, and all you could hope for from a Pinot Noir in this price range.
Tasted April 19, 2016 • H.H.D. IMPORTS (Agent) • Find it at your nearest LCBO • Share Recommendation
QUINTA DE COUSELO O ROSAL 2014, DO Rías Baixas
Vintages #440362 • $23.95 • 750ml. • 90/100This is an Albariño from Rias Baixas in northwestern Spain. The wine is light yellow, and shows the floral, apple blossom, red apple, lemon and white peach aromas that are fairly typical of the variety. Acidity is fresh and crisp, and the apple, lemon and peach notes reverberate on the palate. A crisp, clean, firm and stony finish.
Tasted April 15, 2016 • WINEONLINE MARKETING COMPANY LTD (Agent) • Find it at your nearest LCBO • Share Recommendation
FEATHERSTONE BLACK SHEEP RIESLING 2015, VQA Niagara Peninsula
Vintages #80234 • $16.95 • 750ml. • 88/100This is a good Niagara Riesling, that follows the approachable sweet-tart expression that is so popular in the region. The wine is watery white with glints of straw colouring. The nose features bright floral, candied apple, lemon and lime aromas, that carry through to the palate with zingy apple and lime fruit. The wine is decidedly off-dry, but the fresh acidity keeps the palate crisp and linear. Good value.
Tasted April 15, 2016 • FEATHERSTONE WINERY (Agent) • Find it at your nearest LCBO • Share Recommendation
ANNE DE LAWEISS VIEILLES VIGNES GEWURZTRAMINER 2013, AC Alsace
Vintages #141226 • $20.95 • 750ml. • 88.5/100This is a less-ripe Gewürztraminer that shows lovely grapefruit, honey, apple blossom and spicy aromas. While it reads as dry, there is just a little residual sugar showing around the edges, largely masked by fresh acidity. The aromas replay on the palate, where the grapefruit and spice dominate and finish clean and crisp. Quite charming.
Tasted April 15, 2016 • RUBY WINES & SPIRITS (Agent) • Find it at your nearest LCBO • Share Recommendation
NORMAN HARDIE UNFILTERED CHARDONNAY 2014, VQA Niagara Peninsula
Vintages #184432 • $39.00 • 750ml. • 93/100I always consider Norm Hardie's Chardonnays from both Prince Edward County and Niagara Peninsula to be benchmark Chardonnays for Ontario. Time and time again, with all of his wines, Norm manages to produce wines with very modest levels of alcohol, and with the expected high acidity that accompanies this, and yet is able to coax his fruit to develop inexplicable levels of ripeness, given the low sugar levels implied. This 2014 Chardonnay from Niagara has lovely green apple, lemon and white flower notes that nestle in a light vanilla, toasty and cedar-resin frame. Brisk acidity and lower alcohol define the palate, that gains some weight from a leesy creaminess. The oak-derived flavours recede on the palate, replaced by a welling stony minerality that carries into the lengthy finish. Complex, rich, yet firm and slim — a wonderful contradiction.
Tasted April 15, 2016 • HARDIE WINES (Agent) • Find it at your nearest LCBO • Share Recommendation
VIGNERONS DE BUXY LES CHANIOTS MONTAGNY 1ER CRU AC 2013
Vintages #159020 • $24.95 • 750ml. • 88.5/100This is a Montagny from the dependable Vignerons de Buxy co-operative. Pleasant apple and lemon fruit aromas are cushioned in a slightly resinous and vanilla background. The wine is crisp and dry, the fruit is fresh on the palate, with a little creaminess adding texture, and the wood element shows more as a light nutty flavour on the palate. Lengthy crisp and mineral finish. Good value.
Tasted April 15, 2016 • VINEXX (Agent) • Find it at your nearest LCBO • Share Recommendation
VINCENT MOTHE CHABLIS AC 2014
Vintages #390468 • $26.95 • 750ml. • 88/100Here is a good expression of base Chablis, from its lightly smoky, chalky, lemon and apple nose, to the dry, crisp, high-acid palate, where the lemon-lime core centres the stony minerality. It is simple, direct, and focused. Very good.
Tasted April 15, 2016 • C & E WORLDFINDS (Agent) • Find it at your nearest LCBO • Share Recommendation
MARISCO VINEYARDS THE KING'S FAVOUR SAUVIGNON BLANC 2015, Waihopai, Marlborough, South Island
Vintages #374165 • $19.95 • 750ml. • 89/100This is a representative and well-priced New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc. The wine is watery white with glints of straw. The nose tells you where it comes from, as vivid aromas of grass, green peppers, grapefruit, lime, green apples and a slightly earthy-smoky underpinning fill the glass. Crisp acidity and moderate alcohol keep the palate fresh and clean, while the grapefruit and apple fruit drive into the finish, that has a lingering mineral residue. Very good effort.
Tasted April 15, 2016 • AUTHENTIC WINE & SPIRITS (Agent) • Find it at your nearest LCBO • Share Recommendation
JEAN-MICHEL SORBE QUINCY AC 2014
Vintages #608877 • $21.95 • 750ml. • 88.5/100This is a Sauvignon Blanc from Quincy, which is situated in the heart of the Centre-Loire, southwest from Sancerre. The nose features high-intensity aromas of grass and green herbs, lemon, grapefruit, and chalky minerality. On the palate the grassy notes recede into the background, while grapefruit and green apple notes come to the fore, and lead into a long, stony-mineral finish. A good example of Loire Sauvignon Blanc.
Tasted April 15, 2016 • MACDONALD AND COMPANY (Agent) • Find it at your nearest LCBO • Share Recommendation