I did a cartoonish double-take, the kind that Adam Sandler or Krusty the Clown would do, when I looked out the window. If I had coffee in my mouth it would have sprayed. On the way down from my hotel room, heading towards breakfast, I looked to my right and saw sideways snow, already accumulating on the cars outside. The front desk staff must have seen my wide-eyed Three Stooges expression because they both said in unison “Welcome to Edmonton”. That was Saturday.
But I’m back home now, having successfully collected my son from university, and it seems like Vancouver, in contrast, will be getting a lovely streak of pleasant weather over the next couple of weeks. I take no pleasure in informing you that you are not ready for it. Do you have crisp, aromatic white wines from the world’s most famous Amarone producer? Do you have lush, creamy Provençale Rosés that will drown your patio in happiness? No?
Fret not, dear drinker, for I bring you awesome:
Quintarelli “Ca’ del Merlo” Bianco Secco 2017, Veneto IGT, Italy. By the time Guiseppe Quintarelli passed in 2012, he was such a mythical figure that many wine drinkers questioned whether he was real in the first place. A pioneer in concentration and intensity, Guiseppe led the Amarone movement away from rustic, oxidative wines, and towards purity of fruit and centre-of-the-sun mass and body (and even heavier price tags). This crisply structured white wine, half Garganega and the rest Trebbiano-Chardonnay-Sauvignon Blanc, is like the antidote to his glass-melting Amarones, conservatively nosed with white flowers and honeysuckle, and sneakily rich rather than obviously so, the body hides behind the structure. Very lovely, actually. Lees-stirred for texture and layers but not barrel-aged, great minerality, will theoretically age like a Loire wine but let’s not kid each other. Not yet reviewed, 2 6-packs available, $69.98 +tax
Rimauresq MAGNUM (1.5L) Rosé Cru Classique 2016, Côtes de Provence AOC, France. Because sometimes, the whole party has to know how awesome you is. Although the Cotes de Provence appellation is vast (and frequently dilute, as more and more producers cut corners to cash in on the hype), only 23 producers earned the title of Cru Classé (Classified Growth) in 1955, and Rimauresq – named after the “Real Mauresque” river that flows through the property – is often considered to be the top of the heap. Grenache and Cinsault (along with their weird cousins) are grown on north-facing slopes, so as not to overripen with the baked fruit notes that can befall that sun-drenched Mediterranean region. After a quick crush with minimal maceration and no barrel aging, we get a pale salmon-tinged glory of red fruit, spice and fresh melons. Big and generous and creamy but fresh and crisp – a gorgeous expression of Provence and a dandy way to win friends and influence people. Allow me to influence you when we pour this in the River District Vintage Room on Saturday at 3pm. 97 points Decanter, Platinum/Best In Show – Decanter World Wine Awards, 15 Magnums (1.5L) available, $81.98 +tax
Caves d’Esclans Whispering Angel 2018, Côtes de Provence AOP, France. Although the Pitt/Jolie wine called Miraval finally broke the dam on Provençale Rosé sales, one wine has risen above the ensuing flood to enjoy sustained buzz and actually outsell Miraval in many countries, and it happened based on word of mouth alone, Whispering Angel doesn’t market itself. Already an accomplished Bordeaux winemaker at Margaux’s Chateau Prieur-Lachine, Sacha Lachine (boy Sacha, not girl Sacha, because France) dove into Provence head first just over a decade ago and loosed his Terminator-esque Bordeaux ethics – optical sorting table, severe winery cleanliness, dominatrix-style vineyard management – upon a region historically known for picking stuff up off the ground and dusting it off. Sacha’s laser focus on purity of fruit shines through the vanilla-laced nose, and the chewy, mouthwatering body and clean finish remind me very much of being on a big boat in the sunshine. I don’t expect to have this for very long, I never do. Not yet reviewed (although it tends to consistently score around 93 points). 4 cases available, $42.98 +tax
Penner-Ash Viognier 2016, Willamette and Rogue Valley, Oregon. They don’t make much Viognier in Oregon, but Lynn Penner-Ash has never really paid mind to what anyone else is doing, a trait that was gloriously on display when I met her and her husband Ron 3 years ago at her winery in the Yamhill-Carlton AVA. Lynn comes at viticulture from a science perch, and bumped around Stag’s Leap and Chateau St Jean before landing in the Willamette in the late ‘80s. Her main gig is of course Pinot (two of which landed in WS Top 100) but she makes a tiny batch of Viognier – so tiny that it’s not even listed on the website (or submitted for review) – and it’s to die for. Neither as aromatic nor as oily as a Condrieu, but far more generous and rich than comparably priced Australian or BC offerings, jasmine and lime dance around pink apple and honeysuckle. Pretty and vibrant, with considerable afterburn. 2 6-packs available, $41.98 +tax
Until next time, Happy Drinking!