Tagged with 'red wine'

Deckbusters!

It’s time for a slate of amazing wines for outdoor sipping (or outdoor gulping, I don’t know what kind of day you’ve had), this time in both reds and whites. I didn’t plan on including white wines in a Deckbusters email, but nor did I imagine that my own deck would reach 42C, so here we are, adaptable and thirsty. We begin with the Reds. 

REDS 

Kathryn Hall “Darwin” Syrah 2014, Napa Valley, USA. Ok ok yes, you’re not used to Syrah from Napa and yes, the only dude who reviewed it was Wilfred Wong (wine.com) and he’s weird, but if I’ve built up any trust with you, believe me when I tell you that this is INSANE value – it’s basically Shafer Relentless with less grip and far less price. Prizing power over subtlety, I had presumed that this bruiser earned its name in honour of all the other Syrahs it had to kill to achieve species dominance, but in fact it’s named for the northern Australian town where Kathryn Hall’s private plane had to make an emergency landing (winemakers: they’re just like us!). She and her husband Craig were so taken with the Shirazes they tasted that night that they resolved to pay tribute when they returned home with this gorgeously floral, opaque Syrah that burns villages and slays all enemies. Violets and blackberries rule the roost, with cassis, black pepper and pencil shavings leading towards a classically tempered body and a surprisingly elegant, long finish. Nothing but purple smiles when I tried it - a joyful find. 94 points Wilfred “Weirdo” Wong, 5 cases available, $59.99 +tax 

Comando G “La Bruja de Rozas” 2019, Sierra de Gredos, Spain. A returning champion to these pages, an elegant, fresh, eminently drinkable Garnacha from the hills surrounding Madrid. At the front of the pack of young winemakers seeking to redefine Garnacha for a new generation, Daniel Landi and Fernando Garcia treat the grape more like a Pinot Noir, prizing acidity and beauty over the oxidatively rustic styles Spain has been flooding the world with for decades. Quite floral and herbal on the nose, Bruja starts to show gamey, mineral notes on palate, reflecting the sandy, granitic soils in the vineyard. Medium bodied and perfectly balanced, this can handle most of what your grill throws at you. 93 points Robert Parker, 2 cases available, $52.98 +tax. 

Coudoulet de Beaucastel 2018, Cotes-du-Rhône, France. Another returning champion, this time representing the superlative 2018 Chateauneuf-du-Pape vintage (and only 2 Parky-points lower than their Grand Vin). Essentially a geographically inconvenienced Chateauneuf-du-Pape sitting across the street (and outside the appellation) from Chateau Beaucastel, the 2018 Coudoulet is a Prince wearing the King’s clothes: denser and darker than usual (more Mourvèdre in the mix than other years), showing bright red fruits, sage and white pepper before tumbling into a medium-full body with great freshness and a long, satisfyingly grippy finish. I’ve long gone on and on about the value of Coudoulet, nothing has changed. 93 points Robert Parker, 93 points Decanter, 3 cases available, Reg Price $39.98, Sale Price $37.98 +tax 

Finca Ygay Marqués de Murrieta Reserva 2016, Rioja, Spain. Enjoying quite a moment right now (the top wine from this house won Wine of the Year last year), Ygay builds on their momentum with this iconic 2016 Reserva, boasting its best scores in well over a decade. Sourced from a single estate at the bottom edge of Rioja Alta, this Tempranillo (with drinking buddies Graciano, Mazuelo and Garnacha) shows intense red and black fruit over a bed of crushed rocks (I can see someone blind tasting this as a Supertuscan). Full and generous in the mouth, the finish tightens up nicely with good acidity and fine tannins before lingering elegantly for well over a minute. Great now, great in 5 years. 95 points Guis Proensa*, 94 points Robert Parker, 4 cases available, $49.98 +tax 

 

WHITES 

Wittmann Westhofener Riesling Trocken 2018, Rheinhessen, Germany. There is so much Riesling Hesitancy in the world today that I’ve largely abandoned the argument. If you’ve decided not to get a Riesling for yourself then there’s nothing I can say to change your mind, but I implore you: think of the sausages. Right now, all over this province, defenceless sausages are being grilled with no access to proper wine pairings – in fact, cases of grilled sausages being paired with Yellow Tail are dangerously on the rise. You can help by grabbing one of these sublimely delicious offerings from the Wittmann family, who’ve farmed around the old market town of Westhofen since 1663. The nose is an aromatic blast of tropical fruit and pastry, but the palate and finish are dry and focused, expertly suited to cut the fat of those helpless sausages. This is crackerjack stuff for the price, and pairs with Bratwurst like a key in a lock. 95 points James Suckling, 4 6-packs available, $59.98 +tax 

Sartori Marani 2018, Veronese Bianco, Italy. Returning in fine form, the unofficial White Amarone from the esteemed Amarone house Sartori shows the strength of the 2018 vintage in its long, persistent finish, full of minerality and glycerine. Holy cow, this wine is a lot. Garganega grapes from the Soave appellation (but declassified because of the process) are dried like Amarone grapes for a couple months before pressing, concentrating everything to produce a luscious, honeyed nose of peaches, melon and jasmine. A large footprint in the mouth, indeed, but not inelegant, with a balanced body and the aforementioned eternal finish. No ratings found. 4 6-packs available, $39.98 +tax 

Domaine Delaporte Sancerre Les Monts Damnés 2018, Loire Valley, France. There is, of course, nothing wrong with simple, linear Sancerre, but this ain’t that. Sourced from arguably the best vineyard in Sancerre, Delaporte’s take on Les Monts Damnes (the “damned hills”, to give you a feel for the amount of direct sun it gets) is a round but piercing blast of citrus and stones, softened with herbal and apple notes. It still starts and finishes with beautifully crisp austerity, it just has a nice fat middle: if Sancerre is a snake, the Les Monts Damnes is a snake that just ate a racoon. Brilliant stuff, doesn’t need food. 95 points Wine Enthusiast, 3 6-packs available, $76.98 +tax 

Venusa Bianco 2018, Mazzorbo, Venice, Italy. A millennium ago, the wines that the Venetian empire used to ship around the Mediterranean were actually grown right in Venice, in fact the area where the Piazza San Marco sits today used to be a vineyard, likely growing the ancient white grape Dorona di Venezia. Tourism, rising waters and urban growth pushed viticulture out to just a handful of islands in the Venetian lagoon, but as recently as 60 years ago Dorona was grown on Mazzorbo, Burano and Torcello, otherwise known as Native Venice. The flood of 1966 put the nail in the coffin of Venetian viticulture, and Dorona became nearly extinct. I say nearly because the Bisol family (Prosecco makers) discovered some Dorona in a private garden in 2002 and replanted it in their ancient walled vineyard on Mazzorbo (connected to the more populous Burano by a footbridge). The variety is perfectly suited for the salty, silty soils of the lagoon, which stress the vines and produce a wine – called Venusa – with an ethereal minerality aside the stone fruits and quince that dance lithely on the nose and palate. The short period of skin contact adds both golden pigment and some citrus rind astringency on the finish, wickedly unique, I’ve never quite had anything like this. If you only take one chance this year on a new, strange white wine, it should obviously be this. Not rated (production is too small). 4 6-packs available, $107.98 +tax 

Back Up Two Trucks! Top 100 Tuscan Cab and 97pt Vigno!

A couple of killer wines with silly ratings have made their way to me recently, and rather than giving each wine its own episode I decided to bundle them into one grand heads-up. These are both fantastic cellaring wines at civilized price points, in new-ish categories that aren’t yet priced to their fullest potential. Let’s dive in, starting with a returning champion: 

Tolaini “Legit” Cabernet Sauvignon 2016, Toscana I.G.T, Italy. A Tuscan powerhouse from the heart of Chianti Classico that – given the consistent accolades – should be priced closer to Solaia because it’s essentially the same model: Cabernet Sauvignon from a Chianti vineyard aged for 2 years in French Barriques, easily cellarable for 2 decades. We previously featured (and quickly sold out of) the stoic 2013, but this 2016 is thicker, arguably a little less angular, and should be approachable next year, this year if you wear pads. I’ve told Pierluigi Tolaini’s story before but in a nutshell: Born in Tuscany before moving to Winnipeg (the “Tuscany of Canada”, we can all agree), Luigi drove a truck there (whilst listening to a lot of American Jazz) and eventually bought the company, turning it into a trucking empire of the Canadian Prairies. Always seeking to return home, Luigi used his fortunes to buy vineyards in Castelnuovo Berardenga with the help of Michel Rolland. Now with young winemaker Francesco Rosi at the helm, the Tolaini winery began playing around with Bordeaux varieties and planted the Cabernet that became this proud creature, which Luigi called “Legit” after Thelonious Monk, whose music he loved. Deep and dark fruits like cassis and plum are held up on a ferrous platform of stemmy herbaceousness, this is very much a Tuscan wine and doesn’t seek to ape Napa or Bordeaux, although in frame it does kinda echo Saint Julien. Only released in excellent vintages (2013 was the previous one), this bottling is an event I don’t expect to see for another few years. Exclusive to Everything Wine. #13 – Wine Spectator Top 100 of 2020, 95 points Wine Spectator, 10 cases available, $64.99 +tax 

Garage Wine Co. Vigno 2016, Maule Valley, Chile. Our kids may never forgive us for all the Vigno we didn’t buy. Ridiculously priced for such Cellar Stars, the Vigno category (a shortening of “Vignadores de Carignan”) applies to dry-farmed, old-vine Carignan-led field blends from the Secano area of Maule Valley; it’s the most stringent appellation that Chile has, operably the only “real” one by European standards of control. Garage Wine Co.’s take on the category (from the Truquilemu lieu-dit) is freaking stunning – a very Piemontese structure supporting a bouquet of flowers and stones: violets, orange zest and black raspberries surrounded by rhubarb, gravel, smoked meat and earth, all on top of a medium-bodied, mineral frame with an acidic structure that can see through walls. The finish is long, rustic and Barolo-esque – New World freshness on an Old World castle – and though drinking with food now, will continue to evolve amazingly through 2030. There’s no way it stays this price. Carignan with Grenache and Mataro (Mourvèdre), exclusive to Everything Wine. 97+ points Robert Parker, 6 6-packs available, $89.99 +tax 

Until next week, Happy Drinking! 

Something special for your Thanksgiving feast

SOUTHERN RHONE

Domaine Oratoire St Martin “Haut-Coustias” 2015, Cairanne. The reason you don’t think about the southern Rhone village of Cairanne much is because you’ve never tried this. Tracing their winemaking roots back to 1692, the Alary brothers are pretty much the Royal Family of Cairanne, owning the prime spots and making powerful, totemistic wines in a town known for table tipples that tend to blend into the tablecloth. The Haut-Coustias site is a 90-yr-old south-facing vineyard on a hill of chalk, a terroir quite unlike its surroundings and one of the only sites in Cairanne that can fully ripen Mourvèdre, the dark, moody grape that makes up 60% of this blend (with 20% Grenache and 20% Syrah; the Haut-Coustias’ constitution is similar to Beaucastel’s Hommage a Jacques Perrin and about a tenth of the price). Gorgeous violets and nutmeg surround plums and blackberries with a healthy dose of black pepper, boldly spicy and unforgettable. I’ll be pouring this on Saturday at 3pm in the River District Vintage Room if you want to taste for yourself. One of the better values I’ve found this season. 94 points Robert Parker, 2 cases available, $52.98 +tax

Chateau Saint-Cosme 2017, Gigondas. Continuing an unbroken legacy that almost predates the fork, the Barruol family gets back to traditional hues after two hot, climate-changey vintages and breaks out the pepper mill. Black and white pepper fold around blackberry, ginger and black olives over a fresh, vibrant frame, forged in both foudre and concrete. Silky and persistent. Grenache leads the band (70%) with Syrah, Mourvedre and Cinsault all playing tambourine. Probably best after a 2 years nap to let the finish integrate. There’s something so consistent and so right about Saint-Cosme, quite independent from how delicious it is: year after year it tastes like this ancient village’s natural reference point. 93 points Wine Spectator, 2 cases available, $77.99 +tax

Rotem & Mounir Saouma “Inopia” 2016, Cotes-du-Rhône Villages. The 97+pt Chateauneufs by Husband/Wife crime-fighting duo Rotem and Mounir (also of Burgundy’s hallowed Lucien Le Moine) were presented on these pages a few weeks ago, but these stellar, overachieving  CdRVs come from a rocky, nearly barren plot near Orange that was so tough to cultivate they named the wines Inopia, from the Latin meaning “made from nothing”. The Blanc is mostly Grenache Blanc with Roussanne and Marsanne, gorgeously silky with jasmine, brioche and pear notes over a robust frame with a touch of salinity. The Rouge is almost entirely Grenache with bits of Syrah and Cinsault, bright red fruits and lavender, medium-bodied and hella-versatile. I can’t stress the value of these enough: rather than a mishmash of lesser fruit (like most houses entry-levels are) these are single-vineyard expressions from one of France’s most exciting contemporary houses – Wednesday wines for the well-informed, if you will. I am in with both feet on this.
Blanc, 92 points Wine Spectator, 3 6-packs available, $40.98 +tax
Rouge, 90 points Wine Spectator, 3 6-packs available, $40.98 +tax

 

NORTHERN RHONE

VERTICAL: Domaine Jamet 2013, 2014 & 2015, Côte-Rôtie. You can see the Alps on a clear day from Le Vallin, the high plateau over Côte-Rôtie where Jean-Paul and Corinne Jamet make their traditionally ethereal wines (it’s also where they made their son Löic, who now works the vineyards with them). This “assemblage” cuvée, built from fruit in 15 different vineyards around the appellation, avoids destemming and sees almost no new barrels, so it’s a truth-serum Syrah, honestly and nakedly expressing the slate and granite terraced slopes of Côte-Rôtie in all their peppery, bacon-y glory. The Jamets have a devoted following worldwide, which is why it’s way-cool that I can offer the following:
Côte-Rôtie 2013, 94 points Robert Parker, 94 points Vinous, 3 bottles available, $165.99 +tax
Côte-R
ôtie 2014, 96 points James Suckling, 95 points Vinous 8 bottles available, $165.99 +tax
Côte-R
ôtie 2015, 97 points Vinous, 96 points Robert Parker, 9 bottles available $165.99 +tax

E. Guigal “La Landonne” 2014, Côte-Rôtie. The only one of the “La La”* Cote-Rôties by Guigal to not contain any Viognier, this 2014 Landonne is dark, deep, and more focused than someone jumpstarting a nuclear submarine, an impressive feat in a challenging vintage. The nose has notes of smoked meats stuffed with sage and olives, with hints of blackberries that have fallen under the grill, the deployment is smooth but the finish has notes of bar fights and leg-hold traps. This is a wine to be buried, hidden amongst the muggles until its eleventh birthday – only then can you announce that it is actually a wizard. 98 points Robert Parker, one wooden 3-pack available, $526.98 +tax

René Rostaing “La Landonne” 2015, Côte-Rôtie. Not quite as famous or historically significant as Guigal’s take on the same vineyard (Guigal put Côte-Rôtie on the map and single-handedly saved Viognier from extinction – in contrast, I just learned how to set a DVR recording from my phone), but Mr. Rostaing’s Landonne certainly approaches the Guigals in quality and longevity. Blackberry, fig, tobacco and bacon are just some of the attributes of this ever-changing nose, the palate is elegant power: it’s a medium weight at best but the intensity is almost frightening. Still several years out from true joy, but this 2015 will get there a tad quicker than other vintages. 99 points Robert Parker, 3 bottles available, $249.98 +tax

E. Guigal “Ex Voto” Blanc 2012, Hermitage. The best white Hermitage I’ve tasted besides Chave, from the Ermite and Murets parcels on Hermitage hill. Both stoic and generous, the nose teems with stone fruits, brioche, green apple, ginger and mint, omg. Beeswax and citrus deploy on palate, with that gorgeously viscous sewing-machine-oil texture and finish so prevalent in Marsanne. Drinking amazing now, drinking amazing in 15 years, all because it is made of magic. 97 points Wine Spectator, 8 bottles available, $249.98 +tax

Until next week, Happy Drinking!!

 

*The “La Las” are 3 Cote-Rôties by Guigal from 3 vineyards: La Mouline, La Turque and La Landonne, they are widely considered to be the appellation’s benchmark.

 

Vintage Port 2016 and more

Hi Everyone!

 

With Santa’s Dandruff still sprinkled all across this chilly land, it’s time to discuss the new bonkers vintage of the wine world’s best internal Firestarter: Port. When sipped slowly, great Port warms the heart and curls smiles further upwards. When consumed with abandon, Port’s proven magical powers include:

 

1) Not caring if it’s cold out

2) Not caring that you don’t have a jacket on

3) Ability to create better words

 

Now, these newly-released Ports from the instantly-classic 2016 vintage certainly aren’t for chugging, in fact they’re not really ready for sipping yet. These are the seeds of future awesomes, brilliantly dense fortified wines to anchor your cellar (or fridge); 2016 is the best declared Port vintage since 2011, and perhaps since 1994, but only time will tell. To the juice:

 

2016 VINTAGE PORTS:

 

Taylor Fladgate Vintage Port 2016. The flagship of the Guimaraens fleet. If David’s wines were the Justice League, Taylor Fladgate would undoubtedly be Superman. Boasting a body that could repel bullets, the muscle and power contained underneath the black-fruited licorice defies science, although it’ll be about a decade before we on earth can understand its language. Plus it can see through walls and it knows if you're lying. 100 points James Suckling, 98 points Wine Spectator, #23 Top 100 of 2018 (Wine Spectator), 98 points Wine Enthusiast. 6 full-size bottles available at $145.99 +tax, 12 half-size (375ml) bottles available at $77.99 +tax

 

Dow’s Vintage Port 2016. Always the picture of elegance, this is Dow’s first declared vintage since winning Wine Of The Year (Wine Spectator) for their 2011 Vintage Port. Soft floral notes surround the expected dark fruits, and the slight minerality peeks out just before the welcome acidic lift on the finish. That brightness ties a bow on everything and holds the key to Dow’s longevity, the house style is a shade drier than most. 98 points Wine Spectator, 98 points Decanter, 5 bottles available, $120.99 +tax

 

Warre’s Vintage Port 2016. Every player has their card to play, and for Warre’s, the oldest British Port house, that card is Touriga Franca, the indigenous Portuguese grape variety that takes centre stage in this rustic field blend. Violets, chocolate and bramble lead to endless silken layers in the mouth and a juicy finish of anise and roses. 98 points Wine Spectator, #14 Top 100 of 2018 (Wine Spectator), 98 points Decanter, 5 bottles available, $108.99 +tax

 

OTHER PORTS:

 

Taylor Fladgate Single Harvest Tawny 1968. In arcane Portuguese terms, this is a Colheita (Col-hee-YIGH-tah), meaning that it’s a Tawny Port (different from the ruby Vintage Ports) from a single vintage, which is rare, as most Tawny Ports consist of many vintages blended together to an average age (10, 20, 30 etc.). This 1968 drinks like a sext, with caramel figs amongst the almonds and butterscotch. Give it a chill in the fridge for a half hour for maximum yesness. 98 points Wine Spectator, 3 bottles (each in its own wooden box) available, $279.99 +tax

 

Taylor Fladgate Vintage Port 1994. This pillar of modern architecture has been described on these pages before, but I thought some of you may want an example of what the 2016 will be like in its window of glory. Still youthful, still racy, the tannins are well integrated and the fruit is finally starting to come into focus. Tastes like genius. 100 points Wine Spectator, 6 bottles available, $359.99 +tax

 

Stay safe, stay warm, and Happy Drinking!!

Greetings from Esoteria

Hi Everyone!

I rarely make resolutions, but this year I have decided to get weirder. Not personally (not possible), but in the selections of wines that I present to you. Although I’ve always strived to find classic wines with great ratings, I must admit to being a tad restless – there is a wide, electric-kaleidoscope of wines out there that I haven’t been featuring, simply because the region or producer is too small or too strange to submit for reviews or points.

Don’t worry, I haven’t moved into a yurt and renamed myself Treasure. These wines aren’t themselves bizarre, they’re just undiscovered and unusual.  I’ll still scour the province to bring you the newest exciting, must-have wines and great points-to-price ratios, but from time to time I hope you’ll allow me to show you snapshots of the Awesome World of Wine that exists far from the main roads, somewhat unsung but no less essential and no less beautiful. To the juice:

Domaine du Cellier “Cuvée Clemence” Rousette de Savoie 2016, Savoie, France. A pretty postcard from the French Alps. You’ve probably never tasted the white grape Roussette (also known as Altesse) but then you’ve likely never encountered a wine from Savoie (often Anglicized to Savoy) either, so here’s a great regional primer: https://winefolly.com/review/savoie-wine-guide/ . This Cuvée Clemence is a rich, oily masterpiece of quince, lavender and flowers, medium weight and dry with a touch of honey on the long finish. Acts like a Northern Rhone White (Marsanne/Roussanne) but with more aromatics. Gets nuttier and toastier with 5 years of down time but is super-yowzers now – I’m not waiting. Exclusive to EW River District. 3 6-packs available, $42.98 +tax

Suvla “Sir” 2011, Gallipoli, Turkey. The only thing unusual about this Syrah-based blend is where it comes from: if I didn’t tell you it was from Turkey, you’d be jumping up and down with glee for finding such a great-value French wine. Two thirds Syrah with Grenache, Merlot and Cab Franc, Sir is from family-owned vineyards on the Gallipoli peninsula, the European side of Turkey, and it drinks like a southern Rhône blend from a hot year. There are many unpronounceable rustic grapes in Turkey that make wines of varying weirdness, but Sir is not one of those. Oodles of dark berries and licorice weigh down the tongue before the spicy finish caps off with elegant acidity and astringency. Try it for yourself this Saturday at 3pm in the River District Vintage Room, I think you’ll agree: this is the nicest Rhône wine that isn’t. 3 6-packs available, $40.98 +tax

Moulin Touchais Coteaux du Layon 1994, Anjou, France. Founded in 1787 overlooking the middle section of the Loire River, the 8 generations of winemakers at Moulin Touchais have all followed a curious business model: they only make the dessert wine they’re most famous for in the years where the intermittent fog brings botrytis (Noble Rot, same process as Sauternes) to their Chenin Blanc vineyards – and that happens almost never. Since every late harvest is wildly different (especially when you let the indigenous yeast just do its thing), every sparse vintage of their Coteaux du Layon is varied in sweetness, and this 1994 is on the drier side – think more like an oily, ripe Auslese than an Icewine – with wildly vibrant acidity. Heather and honeysuckle drive the floral nose, clean, juicy and fresh on palate, finishes with sweet lemon curd and a touch of brioche. Gorgeous. 2 6-packs available, $50.98 +tax

Chateau d’Epire Savennieres 2016, Anjou, France. Just across the river from Coteaux du Layon is Savennieres, home to some of the richest, most concentrated dry Chenin Blanc this side of South Africa. The schist-grown Chenin (known as Pineau de Loire, locally) is lees-aged in neutral wood, and the extra junk in the trunk, alongside Chenin’s natural acidity, is a recipe for a long cellar journey – although the absence of tannins makes it quite crushable, presently. Drinking is winning and holding is winning, here, and the Bizard family has spent 6 generations getting the syncopated, drawn-out harvest just right so that you have enough acidity and enough glycerine to do both. That bumping sound you hear is your patio asking you to get some of this for summer. 3 6-packs available, $58.98 +tax

Fasoli Gino “Sande” Pinot Nero Veronese 2008, Veneto, Italy. Telling you that this is the best 10-year-old Amarone made from Pinot Noir you’ll ever drink is a) absolutely true and b) not helpful, because no one else does anything close to this. The Pinot, grown north of Verona, is harvested early, around the end of August to preserve essential acidity, then laid to dry on straw mats (like Amarone) before crush, followed by a 4-year residency in French oak. Sande is to Pinot as Hulk is to Dr. Banner, but perhaps not in the way you might think. Unlike Amarone, Sande is not opaque (Pinot isn’t that pigmented, even when in near-raisin form) and the wine isn’t sweet at all, the aromatics and mid-palate, however, burn with the rage of a dying star. Intense and focused, more elegant than hulks usually are, and also a bit of a cult item back home. 12 bottles available, $85.98 +tax

 

Until next time, Happy Drinking!!
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