This one’s for the floodwaters ravaged and oppressed in cottage country and to a much lesser extent, the city dwellers, this morning’s sunshine respite notwithstanding, faced with a few more days of wet April doom and gloom. There is always wine to cheer you up. County in the City presented by Wine Align is a must not miss event tonight at the Berkeley Church.
For the rest of you keeping score at home, here are five sure bet $20 wines guaranteed to get you through the last week of April showers.
The grape: Chenin Blanc
The history: From one of the oldest Loire wine-making estates (Pierre Chainier) in the Vouvray A.O.C.
The lowdown: Loire Chenin Blanc ranges from dry to sweet and creamy sparkling. This is designated semi-dry but it tends dry because of a strong limestone mineral component
The food match: Basque Pintxos
Clos De Nouys Demi-Sec Vouvray 2011 (322669, $19.95) has already begun to stun in citrine and a petrol whiff plays the stage while the other aromas wait in the wings. Earthy for a white wine, a vin tuffeau-jaune if you will, no doubt imparted by the creamy, calcareous-argillaceous limestone soil. Sweet pear and the stuff of almonds lurk in the shadows. To taste there is little cloying danger and even a touch of cheese rind. It’s really quite dry, like Großes Gewächs German Riesling, but its balance is impeccable. 91 @imbibersreport
The grape: Pinot Gris
The history: Prince Edward County born and bred proprietor Lanny Huff teams with Burgundy born winemaker Frédéric Picard
The lowdown: Really a white and sparkling specialist (though they do grow Merlot), Huff’s Pinot Gris is a character study unlike any other PEC peer
The food match: Agedashi Tofu
Huff Estates Pinot Gris 2011 (134221, $19.95) initiates contact in a fusty, gamy way, not unlike some of my favourite reds in Montalcino and Châteauneuf-du-Pape. But this is Alsatian-styled Pinot Gris we’re talking about here. Fortunately a huff and a puff blows the dank aside and it gets peachy in West Indies pepper sauce after that. Lots of piquant character in this Prince Edward County charmer. 90 @HuffEstatesWine
The grape: Pinot Noir
The history: From the eponymous body of water at the eastern entrance of the Cook Strait and the Tasman Sea, separated by the White Cliffs from the more famous Cloudy Bay
The lowdown: From grapes grown in the Awatere Valley, this is essentially cool climate Pinot Noir and it shows
The food match: Barque Smoked Miami Beef Rib
Clifford Bay Pinot Noir 2010 (309500, $19.95) with its bright lights, big acids is spanking, aromatically clean. Raspberry fruit driven, big barking red dog, tart balanced (13.5 per cent abv) and full of pluck and punch. Would go nicely with the Barque of smoked meats. 89 @cliffordbaywine
The grapes: Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Tannat
The history: The Wildass line of wine from Stratus Vineyards seems to say “always look on the bright side of life.”
The lowdown: Laid back brand in appearance from J.L. Groux and team but this assemblage is no couch potato
The food match: Whole-Wheat Penne, spring greens, sausage
Stratus Vineyards Wildass Red 2011 (86363, $19.95) is a trailing vine of sweet ever-bearing, toffee coated candy strawberry. A wolf steppin‘ out of its Niagara comfort zone, reminding me of a red wine made by The Foreign Affair, in dried fruit (not jam) as if it were made in the appassimento method. It’s simply J.L. coaxing maximum concentration from vines in a balanced vintage and frankly this is better than most Veneto Valpolicella at the same price. This Wildass is “like a true nature’s child,” born to be wild. 89 @Stratuswines
The grape: Petite Sirah
The history: Also known as Durif, a black-skinned variety developed by Dr. Durif, a French nurseryman living in the south of France in the late 1800’s
The lowdown: California has embraced the grape and although it remains much maligned, when acidity and balance play their part, it can be so much more interesting than Cabernet Sauvignon, especially in Paso Robles
The food match: Beef Shanks braised in red wine
Eos Estate Winery Petite Sirah 2011 (317677, $19.95) is certainly Cabernet-like with its rich berry fruit forward first step but it never goes over the top. The alcohol (13.9 per cent) remains in check, it’s minty and eucalyptus cool and white pepper gives it good bite. Exotic, smokey edge. 90 @EOSwinery
Good to go!