How I make my selections...

Rarely will I publish a review of a wine that I did not enjoy; my taste is purely individual, as is your own. If I write about a particular wine, I do so because I also want you to try it.

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Friday, March 18, 2011

Selections for March 19, 2011

The March 19th LCBO Vintages release presents the wine enthusiast with several options in terms of region and price.  With the focus on Spain, Chile, and California, there are both bargains to be found and inflated prices to avoid; I’ll outline a few for you in this weekend’s North of 9 Selections. 

Spain consistently offers the best value for your money in terms of ready-to-drink red wine and I encourage you to explore this area.  Next door, Portuguese winemakers extend their skills well beyond the traditional fortified style of Vintage and Tawny Port.  Portugal presents some truly fascinating tasting opportunities for those who wish to deviate from the frequently travelled wine route.  It’s always a pleasure to drink a big California red and this weekend, the LCBO is advertising the ‘Kings of Cali: Icons & Cult Classics’ – that just sounds expensive doesn’t it?  These wines are always full bodied, rich, and flavourful.  In fact, robust might be the correct description, but all this comes at prices that in my opinion are inflated well beyond what is realistic.  If you wish to splurge for a special event, then do try a big Cali, you won’t be disappointed, but in general, there are much better deals to be found in the pages of this release.  As always, I have found a few interesting labels for your tasting pleasure. 

My ‘Selections’ this weekend include two red: the first of which is a fascinating Italian style followed by something different from Portugal.  The two white selections this weekend are: an Alsatian dry Riesling and a slightly unusual twist on Niagara Chardonnay.  From Burgundy, I found nice crémant, and for your cellar, a faithful Aussie to enjoy a few years down the road. 


2007 Tezza, Ma Roat, Ripasso - Italy
This is a logical follow-up to last week’s North of 9 Amarone tasting at the Bistro.  Ripasso is a richer style of wine than basic Valpolicella due in part to the ‘re-passing’ of the juice over the previously crushed grapes use to make the estate’s more powerful Amarone.  The partially dried Amarone skins add both flavour and body to the lighter base wine.   This one shows some earthy aromas followed by raspberry and cherry notes; light to medium bodied with a slight balsamic tang which I quite like.  Enjoy this with a tomato based pasta dish.  LCBO #263418 / $15.95 (D)

2004 Encostas de Estremoz, Touriga Franca - Portugal
Touriga Franca is one of the five main grape varieties used in the production of Port. In this case, the grape must remains unfortified.  Deep red in the glass and very aromatic showing notes of black cherry and licorice.  Smooth tannins with more dark fruit in the mouth and some smoke on the finish.  The 14.5% alc/vol creates a rather full bodied feel on the palate. Very good.  LCBO #190561 / $17.95 (D)


2008 Cave Spring, Chardonnay Musqué - Canada
This is a clone of the traditional white Chardonnay grape and the term musqué in the name implies pronounced aromatics. Another and perhaps more familiar example is Gewürztraminer, the musqué clone of the Traminer grape.   Expect a mix of minerality, citrus and a black pepper finish which lingers for at least a minute.  Atypical Chardonnay for sure but really enjoyable.  Try this one with lemon pepper chicken.  LCBO # 246579 / $15.95 (D)

2009 Cave de Hoen, Riesling - France
From Alsace, this Riesling shows aromas of lemon and tropical citrus on the nose while light, dry and crisp in the mouth.  Good acidity here (think green apples); sips well on its own or will pair nicely with lighter fare foods.  LCBO # 196782 / $15.95 (D)


Domaine Roger Luquet, Blanc de Blanc, Crémant de Bourgogne - France
A lovely alternative to the more expensive wines of Champagne and for a quarter of the price.  Blanc de Blanc literally means ‘White of Whites’ stating that no black fruit such as pinot noir was used in the production of this wine.  Made using the ‘traditional method’, this crémant is purely chardonnay and shows just a touch of sweetness and typical toasty notes surrounded by crisp acidity for the style.  Quite nice.  LCBO 957894 / $19.95 (D)

One for the Cellar:

2007 Penfolds Bin 28, Kalimna Shiraz – Australia
This is a south Australian new-world explosion of fruit and spice; I never seem to tire of it.  Expect a big, full bodied style that will pair well with a herb or a peppercorn meat dish.  It is approachable now with decanting 2 hours prior to the meal but will become more complex with an additional 2-4 years in the cellar. Enjoy after 2013.  LCBO # 422782 / $34.95 (XD)