Thursday, May 13, 2010

My Picks: Vintages Release -- May 15

Here’s my shopping list for the Vintages Release on May 15.

The Kentucky Derby takes place in May…and now it’s our turn to have our run for the rosés. The weather is warming up, I've fired up the BBQ, and my swingin’ habitat (the golf course) is open. That’s my spring in Ontario and thoughts also turn to rosé on the patio. They’re the perfect spring/summer wine, flexible in matching with so many foods. This week’s release is the first major rosé rush of the season, and there are some good picks available, one of which is Biodynamic from Ontario.

What do I look for in a rosé? A rosé that has vibrant flavour and crispness, so be sure to always buy the youngest available. With rare exceptions, older rosés will have lost aromas, flavours, and acidity. Most rosés in the LCBO this summer should be 2009 but occasionally some older ones (leftovers from last summer, or worse) will show up on the shelf so beware. I like my rosés as dry as possible (no white zinfandel for me...ugh). Check out the rosés from Spain, especially from Penedes (near Barcelona).

[A note to my Québec readers:  One of my perennial favourites among the rosés is Vin Gris de Cigare Rosé (California) from Bonny Doon Vineyards, which is run by a true pioneer, Randall Grahm.  The rosé is a blend of Grenache, Cinsault, and Roussanne; 13.0% ABV.  The 2009 is now in the SAQ stores (#10262979) at $20.90.  Vintages carried this wine for a few years but, regrettably, not lately.]


TEMPLE BRUER CABERNET/MERLOT 2006, Langhorne Creek (Australia); #165803; Price: $19.95; 13.5% ABV
A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (61%), Merlot (28%) and Cabernet Franc (11%). Aged fifteen months in American oak. Certified as A-Grade Organic by the Australian Certified Organics (ACO). Should be great with BBQ lamb.

Here’s that Biodynamic rosé from Ontario:
SOUTHBROOK CABERNET ROSÉ 2009, VQA Niagara-on-the-Lake (Ontario); #168492; Price: $18.95; 12.8% ABV
Certified Biodynamic by Demeter. A blend of Cabernet Franc (76%), Merlot (15%), and Cabernet Sauvignon (11%). 400g (lightweight) bottle! Excellent. Just hate the hokey label.

Off the Beaten Track

Now, 5 more rosés to get your summer going:

DOMAINE LAFAGE PARFUM DE VIGNES ROSÉ 2009, AC Cotes du Roussillon (France); #167528; Price: $14.95; 13.0% ABV
Scent of a Vine. A blend of Syrah (50%), Grenache (40%), and Carignan (10%). My very favourite rosés come from Catalonia, a traditional area that spans the French-Spanish border. Spain ceded the northern part, now called Roussillon, to France in 1659. Try it with some BBQ sausage, or paella.

MUGA ROSÉ 2009, DOCa Rioja (Spain); #603795; Price: $12.95; 13.0% ABV
A Spanish rosé, this one’s from Rioja. A blend of Garnacha (60%) Viura (30%) and Tempranillo (10%). Viura is a white varietal, so they make this rosé by blending red wine and white wine together, a method that the EU has now banned, except for (presumably) traditional production, like Muga. Hmmm, drink a forbidden wine!  [UPDATE]

CHÂTEAU LA TOUR DE L'ÉVÊQUE ROSÉ 2009, AC Cotes de Provence (France); #319392; Price: $18.95; 12.7% ABV
For many, Provence defines classic rosé. A blend of Cinsault (39%), Grenache (28%), Syrah (17%), and some other stuff.

CHÂTEAU D'AQUÉRIA ROSÉ TAVEL 2009, AC Rhone (France); #319368; Price: $18.95; 12.9% ABV
For others, it’s Tavel that’s the classic rosé! Grenache (50%), Clairette (20%), Cinsault (15%), Mourvèdre (10%), and Bourboulenc (5%), all vinified separately, then blended. The Tavel designation is for rosé only. Aquéria is the largest estate of Tavel. Hand harvesting and destemming. Natural yeasts. According to the winemaker, the Grenache lends fruitiness and body; Cinsault, finesse and length in the mouth; Clairette and Bourboulenc, aromas of fruit and flowers; and Mourvèdre, an intense, vibrant color, red fruit aromas and flavours, and longevity. Sounds good to me!  Tasting Note

MALIVOIRE LADYBUG ROSÉ 2009, VQA Niagara Escarpment (Ontario); #559088; Price: $15.95; 12.5% ABV
A blend of Cabernet Franc (86%), Gamay (11.5%), and Pinot Noir (2.5%). From one of my favourite producers, it’s justifiably popular. For once, the herd is right.

Now, 2 whites and 3 reds, including an all-too-rare pick from BC:

ALTA VISTA PREMIUM TORRONTÉS 2008, Cordillera de los Andes (Argentina); #37127; Price: $13.95; 14.0% ABV
The neighbourhood wine for some in Ottawa. No Malolactic Fermentation and no aging in oak. Crisp, the way I like my Torrontés, which could become the signature white of Argentina.

LA JOYA VIOGNIER RESERVE 2008, Colchagua Valley (Chile); #168542; Price: $13.95; 14.3% ABV
A great summer BBQ wine. 100% Viognier. No oak. Look for tree fruit and floral aromas.

QUAILS' GATE PINOT NOIR 2007, VQA Okanagan Valley (British Columbia); #585760; Price: $24.95; 14.0% ABV
Unfortunately, BC wines qualify as “off the beaten track” in Ontario, which is a shame! Quails’ Gate specialises in Pinot Noir. This one is aged in new and used French oak for 11 months. I’m going to try it with the classic BBQ salmon on a cedar plank.

MAS IGNEUS BARRANC DELS CLOSOS 2006, DOCa Priorat (Spain); #166660; Price: $19.95; 15.0% ABV
A blend of Garnacha (80%) and Carinena (20%). Aged 3 months in French oak. Filtered. Mas Igneus pioneered organic viticulture in the Priorat but they're not yet producing this wine from 100% organic grapes.

CAVE DE LA CÔTE GAMARET/GARANOIR 2008, VDP Selection Suisse Romande (Switzerland); #160739; Price: $19.95; 13.3% ABV
OK, hands up…anybody ever heard of Gamaret or Garanoir? I didn’t think so. Me neither. Gamaret is a cross between Gamay and Reichensteiner (huh? it's a white grape developed in Germany in 1939). Garanoir has the same parents but it's a different grape. A Swiss researcher developed both. Sounds like another Pinotage story. Way out of the mainstream, it’s unquestionably worth a try.

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