Solar flares and justice for wine

While the move is just a baby step towards free wine trade in this country, the federal government is stepping away from the inter-provincial wine business. The repeal of a 1928 Prohibition law is hardly earth shattering news but it is a positive gesture and an ideological note aimed at the provinces to consider a similar and progressive course.

Shout out to the Henderson sisters, Courtney and Erin, for voicing their opinion, minus the grating, wine geek whine, concerning the passing of Bill C-311. Without this all important first chess move there is no future on the subject. The provincial monopolies are adamant that direct shipping of wine across borders will remove up to $300 million per year from the tax coffers. The law reform now opens the debate to prove that theory wrong.
The law allows you to order a firearm and have it shipped to your door, by courier. That’s what Sandra Oldfield of British Columbia’s Tinhorn Creek Winery did. Not a prosecutable offence! Cautiously optimistic kudos goes to an Ontario commission currently addressing wine shipping regulations. Arthur Kirkland would note “at this point, I would just like to say that what this committee is doing in theory is highly commendable. However, in practice, it sucks.” Arthur, let’s hope you’re wrong.
Now I turn my attention to the sun which continues to unleash its power upon the earth in the form of solar flares. Sun-kissed wine values continue to flourish at price points affordable to all.
The grapes: Carignan, Grenache and Syrah

The history: From the largest Appellation d’origine contrôlée in Languedoc-Roussilon

The lowdown: A microcosmic tour of southern France in a single bottle of wine

The food match: Fresh ground brisket, flat-iron and chuck sliders with cheddar, bacon and tomato jam

Chateau Ollieux Romanis Cuvée Classique Corbières 2009 (VINTAGES 281162, $15.95, SAQ 10507163, $17.65) betters le nez de Cyrano by a Pinnochio. Might just be the wood talking but the depth and girth is uncanny. Carignan, a.k.a., the hunchback of red French grapes, carries the load. It’s beauty is unearthed by the royalty of 30% Grenache (acidity) and 30% Syrah (tannin). A bouquet garni wafts through the Romanis cathedral and the orchestra’s A Day in the Life note holds on for the bows. Midi IVR* at its finest.  89

The grape: Chardonnay

The history: Oak plays no role. Think rocks, minerals and sharp fruit instead of butter and toast

The lowdown: If it’s not Premier Cru, Chablis is often disappointing. Geoffroy makes good from non-classified, less than estimable vineyard fruit

The food match:

Alain Geoffroy Domaine Le Verger Chablis 2010 (181289, $18.95) built of a “cold steel rail” is not accidentally, tragically on the verge of maximum dryness. Three pistols strong and searing Burgundy, mouth-puckering with green apple chalk.  Brings “on the brand new renaissance” so I wish you were here. Hip IVR* performance, vintage in, vintage out.  89

The grape: Sangiovese

The history: Producer of pedigree remembers its past but has a foot firmly cemented in the present

The lowdown: The Poliziano VNM had been closer to the $30 mark since 2004. This is a great vintage IMHO. Don’t miss it.

The food match: A great steak (Porterhouse or Rib-Eye) on the BBQ with Kosher salt, pepper and extra-virgin olive oil.

Poliziano Vino Nobile Di Montepulciano 2007 (988055, $25.95) should never be ignored. Does VNM get any better than this? Circumnavigates the Tuscan code, both ancient and modern. Assigns meaning to anagogic red fruit and flashes like a solar flare. Puzzling paradox of transparency and rich tinct. Chianina Bovi strength will need aeration or five plus years to relax.  90

The Splurge Wines

The grape: Chardonnay

The history: Ed Spragia was the winemaker at Beringer. His personal Chardonnay is biscuitous but good CVR**

The lowdown: This release adds an emphatic notch on the side of fair pricing

The food match: Steamed P.E.I. Lobsters and a twice-baked potato

Sbragia Home Ranch Chardonnay 2009 (52720, $34.95) from on the range in the Dry Creek Valley, “where seldom is heard a disparaging word.” Water-buffalo type comes out to play with buttered corn and elegant oak integration as the muted smell of smoked casks. A nearly $10 price reduction stares down in the face of the California price-fixing, conspiracy theorists.  89

The grape: Pinot Noir

The history: Transplanted Burgundian style shows most true to form in Oregon’s Willamette Valley

The lowdown: This is Lemelson’s most elegant bottling

The food match: Braised, plum glazed and crispy roasted pork bellies

Lemelson Thea’s Selection Pinot Noir 2009 (278721, $36.95) is a beautifully balanced effort. Coal smoke, meed, griottes and comestible tree fruit fragrance. Thyme and sage rubbed through fingers.  Sweet, resinous low country heartbreak.  90

Good to go!

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