Funny time of year, ain’t it? Are the winter blahs and blues really behind us? Today I believe they are. The sun shines and my immediate Ontario wine community family finds itself entrenched at the mid-point of a week filled with a persistent number of sequential events; California Wine Fair, LCBO lab, WineAlign group tasting, Austrian Wine Fair, County in the City, LCBO April 30th release. I will taste 300 wines this week. Easy.
As is my pejorative want, I tend to recommend, purchase and drink wines that seem to contradict the moment, the weather and the mood. Last week I prepped with The White Stuff, fighting off gelid temperatures and an intruding cold with pale tannin and clear fluids. The blues can always be dealt with when wine is in your life.
Wine doles out the importance of appeal, with the dynamism of narrative to bring truths to light and incite the tumescence of pleasure. Though I have been and will continue to enjoy more whites, today marks a necessary paradigm shift, towards accepting an open invitation to the reds.
The VINTAGES April 16th release is filled with such a summons, from Croatia to Chianti, Chinon to Coonawarra. I’ve got 10 reds to recommend. Here:
Vina Laguna Terra Rossa 2013, Istria, Croatia (450437, $15.95, WineAlign)
Juicy and ripe Croatian with survivalist acidity and some liquorice flavour dipped in tannin. Ferric and hematic, like deep Garnacha or Cannonau, welling with earth and dark red fruit. I can’t imagine it improving much but I can certainly see it pairing beautifully with a spice-rubbed roast chicken and potatoes. Points awarded for originality and sheer drinkability. Drink 2016-2018. Tasted April 2016 @ #vinalaguna
Couly Dutheil Les Gravières D’amador Abbé De Turpenay Chinon 2014, Ac Loire, France (446328, $19.95, WineAlign)
When Cabernet Franc properly and confidently exhibits grassy, herbaceous and red peppery accents the verse is written by Chinon and this Couly Dutheil takes a page out of that savoury book. This is wise, sage and tarragon bombed balm, with full on dark red fruit and mineral stony play. Quite rich for the genre, deep and full of oscillating (advancing) cool and (receding) warm tides. Extreme unction and flavour form Cabernet Franc. Were the Peninsula’s Lincoln Lakeshore Francs always this forthcoming then Niagara would surely rise above. Drink 2016-2019. Tasted April 2016 #CoulyDutheil @LoireValleyWine @
Hauner Salina Rosso 2013, Igp Sicily, Italy (440784, $19.95, WineAlign)
The basic Hauner Rosso picks up where the bigger brother Hiera leaves off, albeit with a flinty funk exposed. Red earth and redder fruit shales and strives for depth within the secondary framework and for all intents and purposes it really succeeds. There is some advanced character so don’t wait to enjoy. Personally I would like to see this paired alongside Sicilian Purpu Vugghiutu with a smear of briny, black olive tapenade. Drink 2016-2019. Tasted April 2016 #hauner @ @
William Fèvre Chile Espino Gran Cuvée Cabernet Sauvignon 2012, Maipo Valley, Chile (444430, $19.95, WineAlign)
The Fevre Cabernet take is decidedly Maipo, full of currants and a raging current of grand energy. Capsicum tingles the senses, red fruit wraps around the tongue and the barrel takes over the approach. Quite fresh and refreshing for the varietal play. Cabernet of altitude and a fresh attitude. Drink 2016-2020. Tasted April 2016 @ @ @
Bel Echo Pinot Noir By Clos Henri 2014, Marlborough, New Zealand (159137, $23.95, WineAlign)
Lovely aromatic Pinot Noir by Clos Henri, sumptuous, ideologically sweet and celebratory of its river stones terroir. The fruit is primed to ripeness, conjuring dreams of perfect weather and utter calm. The palate delivers the tension with precisely handled reason and well within the limits of healthy curiosity. Distinctly Marlborough and frankly effortless. Such ideal value. Drink 2017-2021. Tasted April 2016 @ @ @
Wynns Coonawarra Estate Cabernet/Shiraz/Merlot 2012, Coonawarra, South Australia, Australia (511600, $24.95, WineAlign)
The blend formerly known as “Cabernet Hermitage” involves vines dating back as far as 1969. Versatility and varietal integration is so very key to success when Cabernet, Shiraz and Merlot share the Terra Rossa sandbox, or any soil receptacle for that matter. This has real even keel, somewhat feminine character, silky smooth texture and is yet built on sharp wit. Would like to match it with seven straight nights of variegated dinners. A highly quaffable red blend that brilliantly shows the deft touch of winemaker Sue Hodder. Drink 2016-2020. Tasted April 2016 @ @ @ #wynnscoonawarraestate
Culmina R&D Red Blend 2014, BC VQA Golden Mile Bench, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia (445494, $25.95, WineAlign)
The research and development continues, reeling deeper in 2014, to sous bois, fraises du bois and with true raison d’être. A healthy press and crush fills the earthy cup with dark fruit, real determination and ripe darkness. This is assemblage to reach for dinner and reap serious reward. The culmination of R & D is this D-league red blend, Culmina 250. Drink 2016-2019. Tasted April 2016 @ @ @
San Felice Il Grigio Chianti Classico Riserva 2011, Tuscany, Italy (716266, $27.95, WineAlign)
A most perfectly funky, robust and dusty CCR with meat on its bones and velutinous structure in its demi-glace. Dried strawberry, roses and aniseed all contribute exoticism and danger. Colloquially old-school and yet at war with itself because of the welling up tension coursing through its Sangiovese-oozing arterial veins. A Duke of a Riserva not yet in its comfort zone and with so many years left ahead. Drink 2018-2024. Tasted April 2016 @ @ @
Mas Des Bressades Cuvée Quintessence 2013, Ap Costierès De Nîmes, Rhône, France (443085, $32.95, WineAlign)
Extracted from hyper-low yields, this is a big expression for Grenache, especially from the Costierès De Nîmes, built on a solid foundation of alcohol and rich fruit. Brings with it high tones, acidity and waves of chocolate ganache. Very reminiscent of say Fagus, hailing from Aragon’s Campo de Borja, but bigger, broader and more exuberant. The ambition is palpable and the curiosity, at least in terms of Grenache, should be encouraged. A fine example even if it may seem expensive to those who might not afford the stretch. Drink 2016-2020. Tasted April 2016 @ #MasdesBressades #costieresdenimes @
La Lecciaia Brunello Di Montalcino 2010, Tuscany, Italy (121905, $57.95, WineAlign)
Deep and driven Sangiovese inhalant, of fully exonerated fruit having developed a wide swath of brushstroke aromatics; red berries, cherries, earth, graphite, iron and the imagined, enchanted garden. Full bodied but so far from heavy, typically Brunello but atypically fresh and yet densely layered like sagaciously-executed mille feuille piccolo forno, Montalcino style. If you are going to buy one walk-in to VINTAGES available Brunello in plus-one increments, this just has to be the one. La Lecciaia will evolve slowly, effortlessly, with beguiling behaviour over a 20 years span. Drink 2018-2038. Tasted April 2016 @TheWineCoaches @
Good to go!
WineAlign: Michael Godel