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LCBO Vintages Saturday Feb.4, 2012

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Last year I offered a lot of Italian whites with the suggestion that they may be the ‘style’ of the future. While Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc are likely to remain the pillars of white wine I’ll be surprised if we don’t see a strong third player emerging. A dry white wine with a ‘less obvious’ flavour profile. And a light, pure feeling – something along the lines of Pinot Grigio, but more interesting. It might be a blend of grapes and it might be a return to a regional personality over a grape one.

Winemakers all over the world are tired of producing Chard & Co and are excited by the potential of grapes that have been ignored and almost forgotten. All it takes now is for us to get involved by purchasing and drinking. This Vintages release offers six really good examples of this third style, from Italy, France, Austria, Greece and Argentina. I’ve included a sparkling as it fits the fresh, frank style of the other wines. All best suited to summer, so stock up.

In reds I’m also hoping for a bit of swing back to something lighter and less showy – bistro wines. My Bordeaux and Rhone picks are very bistro, as is the new-style Aussie Shiraz. There’s a coffee theme to my final two reds. And I don’t mean Tim’s.

White wines ‘THIRD STYLE’ – light and refreshing
1. BORGO CONVENTI 10 Pinot Grigio, Isonzo del Friuli, Italy 13276 $16.95
Here’s a fantastic white for the purist. Very dry with wonderful mineral freshness – in the Chablis-style. The lowly Pinot Grigio can be upscale if the producer tries hard enough. Classy aperitif.

2. CAVE de VIRE 09 Vire-Clesse, Burgundy, France 243782 $16.95
Vire is a parish in the Macon region – the home of non-oaked (pure) Chardonnay. This one is very dry, down-to-earth, but somehow also feels classy. It’s the French thing! Aperitif or seafood appetizer.

3. TSELEPOS 10 Moschofilero, Mantinia, Greece 724583 $16.95
I love the honest, unadorned feeling here – so simple and so good. A must-by for warm summer evenings. Super dry and refreshing with the appetizing savoury flavours typical of Greek whites. Has the seaside-salty-spray-feeling that’s so good in a summer wine. Aperitif or seafood.

4. WEINGUT ZAHEL 10 Gruner Veltliner, Austria 181594 $15.95 (from a previous release)
Gruner has the purity and lightness of a dry Riesling along with a citrussy zing. Spring day feeling – as suggested by the lime green label. Wonderful refresher or patio lunch wine.

5. GRAN LURTON 10 ‘Corte Friulano’, Mendoza, Argentina 66829 $19.95
Francois Lurton makes wine all over the world – sometimes it has French flair, and sometimes it’s commercially crowdpleasing. This is one of his most brilliant creations – a blend of four grapes crafted in the very pure style of Italian whites from the Friuli region (see wine #1). Super fresh and very dry with a slight earthiness. But the overall feeling is of elegance and poise. Very different from the bold flavoured whites we’ve become used to over the past few decades. What a great ambassador for blended whites. And a possible role model for our local white blends. And a kick in the pants for the theory that hot climates cannot produce cool-feeling whites. One sip and you’re not going to let the bottle get away. Treat yourself and good friends over the summer season. Great just to sip, or to start an alfresco meal.

6. CODORNIU Brut Cava ‘Seleccion Raventos’, Spain 521773 $14.95
This is not news to those who know, but Codorniu ‘Raventos’ is probably the best budget sparkling wine on the planet. Very dry, yeasty and loaded with Champagne-like teases. All of this at an everyday price.

 

 

 

OTHER WHITES
House Chardonnay
BLACKSTONE 10 Chardonnay, Monterey, California 994509 $15.95
Blackstone always wins me over with the frank feeling and value of their wines. This is good, mid-range, house Chardonnay – with great drinkability.

Something different
SMALL GULLY 08 Viognier ‘The Formula – Helen’s Harmony’, Barossa, Australia 269332 $19.95
Viognier is often peachy pretty but this is more punky. A livewire with appetizing savours flavours and lots of electricity. Sure there’s something exotic too but mainly what you get is a good-time-summer-evening feeling. Would be sensational with BBQ’d chicken smothered in fresh herbs.

Good local
KACABA 09 Chardonnay ‘Barrel Fermented’, VQA Niagara 262436 $22.95
Big Chard flavours with a suggestion of richness. But it’s also wild and zingy. Refreshing aperitif, and nourishing food wine.

Traditional Chardonnay
Mac MURRAY RANCH 09 Chardonnay, Sonoma Coast, California 262063 $21.95
Huge flavours and richness. Lush and very Californian. For the fan of big. Almost a dessert!

 

REDS
Bistro Red
CH. HAUT-CANTELOUP, Blaye, Cotes de Bordeaux, France 264747 $13.95
Earthy, refreshing and honest. A merlot/Cab with some punk – the original form. Appetizing, refreshing and not too alcoholic. Wine for everyday.

Bistro plus
LAVAU 09 Vacqueyras, Rhone, France 104927 $18.95
Regular readers will know of my fondness for Southern Rhone reds and lately I’ve been recommending lots in the rich, warmhearted style. This guy is lighter, more rustic, refreshing – not unlike a Burgundy (Pinot Noir). Rhone often has this feature. Wonderfully suggestive, very bistro – wine to impress the food as well as the company. Best with simply grilled meats.

Bistro
PLUNKETT–FOWLES 08 Shiraz ‘Stone Dwellers’, Victoria, Australia 265967 $19.95
Here’s something different in Aussie Shiraz – wine with an edge, and an earthiness. There is a suggestion of Shiraz’s home in the Rhone – a perfect Aussie/French combo experience. Part of the new Aussie styling – crafting wines that are as good with food as impressing people.

Rich, crowd-pleaser
MONTES 09 Carmenere, ‘Limited Selection’, Chile 256685 $14.95
Montes keeps scoring with wines at this price. This is over-the-top with crowdpleasing spicy flavours and smoothness. Red wine for the Grande, Mocca Latte drinker.

Novel Red
BARISTA 10 Pinotage, South Africa 172585 $15.95
Pinotage is a South African speciality that could be likened to our Baco Noir. Tart, wild and back-woodsy. An interesting detour when you’re tired of nice. This one has some ‘coffee shop’ flavours and warmth – hence the name. Best with braised or BBQed meats – winter or summer.

SWEET
G. MARQUIS 09 Vidal Icewine, ‘Silver Line’ VQA Niagara 262477 200ml/$27.95
From Magnotta winery who always deliver the most concentrated icewines, at the most reasonable price.

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Billy

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