Wednesday, September 15, 2010

My Picks: Vintages Release -- September 18

This week’s release features “Ontario’s Signature Styles” as the main event, with wines from Douro (Portugal) as the undercard. But (it pains me to say this) it’s the Douro wines that are the more interesting, with only one of the Ontario wines worth your consideration in this release.

Coincidentally, nothing over 14% ABV.


AGRIVERDE NATUM 2008, DOC Montepulciano D'Abruzzo (Abruzzo, Italy); #180224; Price: $ 12.95; 13.0% ABV
100% Montepulciano; it’s in Abruzzo where this varietal variety is most widely planted. (And not to be confused with Vino Nobile di Montepulciano from Tuscany; they make that one mostly from Sangiovese.) Fermented in steel and aged 24 months in the bottle before release. A great match for pasta with a tomato-based sauce.

Off the Beaten Track


CAVE SPRING CSV CAVE SPRING VINEYARD RIESLING 2008, VQA Beamsville Bench (Ontario); #566026; Price: $29.95; 11.0% ABV
Top of the line from Cave Springs, as the price shows. Made from low-yielding old vines (old for Niagara, that is). Fermented in stainless steel for 4 weeks with cultured yeasts; then aged for 3 months on the spent yeast. Can be drunk now or aged for 10 years. Refreshingly light-bodied. Regular readers know that I prefer very dry Rieslings. Rated Medium Dry on the International Riesling Foundation’s scale, but it’s a worthy exception.

TBILVINO TSINANDALI DRY WHITE, Kakheti (Georgia); #26658; Price: $12.95; 13.0% ABV
A blend of the Georgian varietals varieties, Rkatsiteli and Kakhetian Mtsvane. Widely planted across Eastern Europe, winemakers use Rkatsiteli for its spicy and floral aromas and its acidity. Mtsvane brings the fruit aromas. Formerly one of the key producers in the Soviet Union, the winery lost its biggest market in 2006 with the Russian embargo and turned to other markets (like ours). Far, far off the beaten track. At this price, worth a try.

ROBERT OATLEY SAUVIGNON BLANC 2009, Pemberton (Western Australia); #186106; Price: $17.95; 12.2% ABV
Western Australia has a cool Maritime climate, perfect conditions for growing Sauvignon Blanc down under. Cool fermentation, no oak.

KAMANTERENA XYNISTERI 2008, Paphos (Cyprus); #179911; Price: $11.95; 12.4% ABV
100% Xynisteri, native to Cyprus. Look for citrus and green apple flavours. Drink ASAP. Produced by a cooperative formed in 1947, uniting 10,000 family producers from 144 villages!

FONTANAFREDDA GAVI DEL COMUNE DI GAVI 2009, DOCG Gavi (Piedmont, Italy); #75440; Price: $15.95; 12.5% ABV
100% Cortese, native to northwest Italy. Gavi makes the best wines from Cortese. Cool fermentation, aged 4 months in stainless steel. Look for citrus and floral aromas. Drink now.


Two selections from the Douro wines, followed by a good choice from the other side of Iberia:

QUINTA DO CRASTO OLD VINES RESERVA 2007, DOC Douro (Portugal); #990572; Price: $34.95; 13.4% ABV
A blend of 25 different varietals varieties (!) all from vines that are over 70 years old. Hand picked. Aged 16 months in 85% French oak and 15% American oak.

QUINTA DOS ACIPRESTES RESERVA 2007, DOC Douro (Portugal); #167627; Price: $21.95; 14.0% ABV
A blend of Touriga Nacional and Touriga Francesa, both varietals varieties used traditionally in making Port (also from the Douro region). 14 months of aging in French, American and Eastern European oak.

DESCENDIENTES DE J. PALACIOS PÉTALOS 2008, DO Bierzo (Spain); #675207; Price: $21.95; 13.5% ABV
From a region (Beirzo in northwest Spain) and a varietal variety (Mencia) that have come out of nowhere in the last few years. Palacios is a top producer. Get it.

FROGMORE CREEK PINOT NOIR 2006, Tasmania (Australia); #182972; Price: $26.95; 14.0% ABV
We don’t see too many wines from Tasmania; a shame because it’s a great cool climate wine region, perfect for Pinot Noir. Handpicked. 48-hour cold soak on skins, followed by fermentation in stainless steel, Malolactic fermentation in oak, then aging 10 months in 30% new and 70% seasoned French oak. Frogmore Creek’s winemaker is from the Loire Valley and trained at Dijon University.

PIETRO RINALDI MADONNA DI COMO 2008; DOC Dolcetto D'Alba (Piedmont, Italy); #182261; Price: $16.95; 13.0% ABV
100% Dolcetto (little sweet one). Alba is home to the best producers. Fermented in stainless steel, followed by Malolactic fermentation, then aged in stainless steel for six months. Known for high acidity and soft tannins, red and black fruit aromas. Meant to be drunk young.


A blend of 80% Chardonnay and 20% Aligote, made in the traditional method, as in Champagne. Great bargain.

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