Anyone who has stood staring at a wall of bottles can relate. Those moments in the liquor store, trying to pick a bottle of wine, not being able to make a decision.
Most buyers have a price point in mind. Under $15, $15-20, $20-25, $25-50 and sky’s the limit. The WineAlign Wine Awards focus on finding values in these price ranges. As one of the WineAlign critics, I am part of a team that tastes and subsequently recommends what to buy and what to avoid. Over the past week I have posted nearly 70 tasting notes and reviews for the VINTAGES, November 9th release. Some of the wines are also available in other provinces.
Life is indeed too short to drink bad wine. As always, I encourage reading, tasting and as much trial and error as time mixed with budget constraints allow. If I can help make the purchasing less painful, here then are ten current release wines available right now at or near that $17 sweet spot.
A basic and purposeful Riesling from Dr. Loosen, medicinally perfumed, waxy and in part reminiscent of calcium citrate. At $13 it may speak quickly and arrive at an abrupt halt but it’s sweet, salty and effective. 87 Tasted October 4, 2013
ROSEWOOD MEAD ROYALE HONEY WINE 2008 (296178, 500 mL, $14.95)
From honey bees to world class wine “Files in at 12.5% abv in a vintage where honey outsells water. Well-balanced, this is the dessert wine of the bees’ mile-high club. Whiffs of the flowers they feed upon with a touch of ginger and lavender. The honey comb pool beneath the (aged Gouda) cheese is worth the price of admission.” 88 Tasted October 2012 @RosewoodWine
HINTERBROOK SAUVIGNON BLANC 2011 (359372, $16.95)
Constrained and exacting Sauvignon Blanc. Pale, cloaked, lithe and balmy. Shows good tang and juicy acidity, assisted in kind by breezy, long and even-tempered fruit. Looks away from the dearly Sauvignon Blanc bereft, of blanched green vegetable, grass and Niagara gold. Builds to a mouth tingling grapefruit finish. The right grape (like red counterpart Cabernet Franc) to foster down at the Lincoln shore. 88 Tasted October 4, 2013 @Hinterbrook
ROCKWAY SMALL LOT RESERVE WHITE ASSEMBLAGE 2012 (359315, $16.95)
Though Chardonnay dominates the blend (75 per cent) it is not the aromatic master of its domain. The Gewurztraminer (15) and Riesling (10) are more than bit players, imparting medicinal, floral and tropical smells. A white blend with the leesy tang a la Loire or Alsace, figuratively rendering captain Chardonnay as a dispensable member of the team. Does not really make much sense but Niagara white assemblage is a funny business and takes years to master. Just ask J-L Groux. 86 Tasted November 5, 2013 @RockwayWine
VINTAGE INK MARK OF PASSION MERLOT/CABERNET 2011 (250209, $17.95)
Noticeable coarse ground dried clay and spice note, then rehydrated, soluble and integrated into ripe damson and licorice. Intense for the vintage and the price, if a bit like a lick of the inside of a copper pipe. Leaves a scar and a lasting impression. 87 Tasted November 5, 2013
CHILENSIS LAZULI 2010 (348128, $17.95)
It’s easy to get lost in the depths of this Maule Valley ink, to be “drowned in out in that deep blue sea.” The pitch of a moonless sky. The animal musk of a muscular, four-legged mammal with horns. The growl of a grizzly bear and the bite of a cobra. These are the traits of an $18 Chilean red blend that pulls no punches and tips the scales above its weight. A crushed Lapis intensity singing the blues like a Clare Valley demasiado caro. Buy a few and put them away to see if five years will honour the effort. 91 Tasted November 5, 2013 @ViaWines
On one hand this Vinsobres might be given mini Beaucastel due because of its alpine, alluvium flaunting and marine molasses, haunting and violent Rhône aromas. On the other hand, that’s a stretch. Savoury redolence from long-stemmed berries and licorice work favourably but there lacks the framework and layering to sublimate more than the obvious. Tastes great but pontificating forward, what will it look like? Hold the galets. It’s $18. Great value. 89 Tasted November 5, 2013
SANTA VENERE GAGLIOPPO ROSSO CLASSICO CIRÒ 2009 (52332, $17.95)
Cheery, cherry fresh, uncomplicated and juicy Gaglioppo as a bite of ripe, just picked plum. A moment of anxiety keeps the fruit honest and will allow this Calabrese to offer food-paired pleasure, like ripe cherry tomato, soft cheese and fresh basil. 88 Tasted November 5, 2013
DE CHANCENY EXCELLENCE BRUT VOUVRAY (352237, $20.95)
Anything but obvious Sparkling Chenin Blanc. Extreme arid behaviour and highly seasoned by grapefruit, lemon curd, ginger and horseradish. Exciting example to Jones over a staid set of forbearers, a bubbly bottle of “white lightning ‘stead of mountain dew.” 91 Tasted October 4, 2013 @LoireValleyWine
Good to go!