Seventeen for January 7, 2017


It’s only love when #french and #danish friends do dinner @michaelwuertz #herring #foiegras

I do like symmetrical things and prefer the irregular approach to writing and life. Method to madness is all in the perception and only really figured out when you learn to let your emotions run wild. You have to want to believe Godello as a writer knows what he’s talking about but you also need to trust the facts when you find them flooded into the seemingly unconnected mess of musical and multicultural references, veins and streams of consciousness.

Do you remember this commercial?

“You worked too hard and ate too much,

The cheesesteak made you green.

Let your aching head and stomach hear this message from old Speedy.”

Speedy here is voiced by the same guy (Dick Beals) that voiced Davey of “Davey and Goliath” and Ralph Phillips of “Looney Tunes.” Here we move forward, away from the mess and sting and sighs and slings of 2016, past the littering deaths of loved ones and icons, into the future that begins (in wine anyway), with the VINTAGES January 7th release. Forget the Alka Seltzer and listen up.

Drinking sparkling wine in January is a contagious and contiguous must for any self-respecting wine geek but who can afford Champagne after the bank-rolling of the holiday season? Fear not for alternative fizz is coming your way. So are tidy values for chenin blanc, viognier, grüner veltliner, malbec, negroamaro, tannat, graciano, sangiovese, garnacha, cabernet franc and syrah. You can also choose from five splendid blends from Dealu Mare, Valpolicella, Langhorne Creek, and Côtes Du Roussillon Villages. Please visit WineAlign for full reviews of these 17 in VINTAGES January 7th.


Budureasca Feteasca Regala 2015, Doc Dealu Mare, Romania (416800, $11.95, WineAlign)

@Budureasca  @WinesofRomania

Pisari Negroamaro 2014, Igt Salento Rosso, Puglia, Italy (473199, $13.95, WineAlign)


Man Vintners Free Run Steen Chenin Blanc 2015, Wo Coastal Region, South Africa (126847, $13.95, WineAlign)

@MANVintners  @WOSACanada  @WOSA_ZA  @vonterrabev

Heartland Stickleback Red 2013, Langhorne Creek, South Australia (116574, $14.95, WineAlign)

@heartlandwines  @TheVine_RobGroh


Laurent Miquel Nord Sud Viognier 2014, Vin De Pays D’oc, Languedoc-Roussillon, France (673236, $14.95, WineAlign)

@LaurentMiquel  @VinsPaysdOcIGP  @LiffordON


Cuvée Jean Philippe Blanquette De Limoux 2014, Traditional Method, Ac Southwest, France (467217, $14.95, WineAlign)


Rio Madre Graciano 2014, Doca Rioja, Spain (354753, $14.95, WineAlign)

@CSWS_BC  @RiojaWine


Baronia Del Montsant Flor D’englora Garnatxa 2011, Montsant, Spain (481333, $15.95, WineAlign)

@cellersCBM  @domontsant  @spain


Piattelli Premium Reserve Malbec 2013, Mendoza, Argentina (455808, $16.95, WineAlign)

@piattelliUSA  @ArgentinaWineCA


San Vincenti Chianti Classico 2012, Docg Tuscany, Italy (399907, $17.95, WineAlign)

Organized Crime Cabernet Franc 2013, VQA Beamsville Beench, Ontario (472530, $18.95, WineAlign)


Gérard Bertrand Grand Terroir Tautavel Grenache/Syrah/Carignan 2013, Ap Côtes Du Roussillon Villages, Languedoc-Roussillon, France (272575, $18.95, WineAlign)

@GBvins  @FWMCan  @LanguedocWines

Ca’ Del Monte Valpolicella Ripasso Classico Superiore 2011, Doc Veneto, Italy (475624, $19.95, WineAlign)

@Nicholaspearce_ @C_Valpolicella


Nikolaihof Wachau Terrassen Grüner Veltliner 2014, Wachau, Austria (85274, $20.95, WineAlign)



Château Bouscassé Madiran 2009, Southwest, France (743385, $21.95, WineAlign)

@LaurenceBrumont  @ImportWineMAFWM


Marquis De Montferrat Saint Joseph 2012, Ac Rhone, France (470443, $29.95, WineAlign)

@VINSRHONE  @RhoneWine

Soprasasso Amarone Della Valpolicella 2012, Docg Veneto, Italy (473124, $34.95, WineAlign)

  @C_Valpolicella  @Select_Wines

Good to go!

Twitter: @mgodello

Instagram: mgodello


15 Mind blowing wines of 2015

Old Sherry at the Cariñena Museo del Vino

Old Sherry at the Cariñena Museo del Vino

“You can choose your philosophy of critiquing just as you choose how to live. The freedom to personalize or substantiate thoughts on structure sacrifices the detail to meaning and meaning to preciseness.” I wrote that nearly a year ago. It holds true, as before, near, dear and clear to me today.

Extreme cold ushered in January of 2015 and the obvious lede was Coming wine from the cold. Halfway through the month an epiphany of sorts knocked upside the cerebral cortex, elaborated upon in Varietal Spanish wine. That smithy precursor would lead to revelations in October.

As January wound down and I prepared to hit the Niagara Icewine Festival, (revealed in We the Icewine) I first asked a matter of fat cat factual question, Is writing making a mess of wine? “The combined fugitive pieces of wine and its critics pose questions without answers. They must be asked very slowly.”

Related – Mind blowing wines of 2014

The weeks of suffering through frozen days and night breeds reflection and thought. While the temperatures remained cursedly south of 20 I begged the question, Why drink that?, “looking for heroic entablature and architectural wonder in bottles of wine. We see them as DNA and in their liquids we can read their entire future. We sip them again and again until we taste them for the first time. To remember generations.” Have wine forget winter.

Good bye and thank you for your hospitality South Africa @WOSA_ZA @WOSACanada @CapeWine2015

Good bye and thank you for your hospitality South Africa @WOSA_ZA @WOSACanada @CapeWine2015

I penned If it’s value you want, it’s South Africa you need and later in May, Shades of South Africa. Oh sweet, naive, wait until you travel there and see what’s really up, Godello. Same for A new Greek morning and Getting into Greece. One week in the Peloponnese and my psyche would be altered forever.

In March I explained Why it matters to taste wines again, urged sharing through the practice of Take a bottle, leave a bottle and waxed parenthetical in yet another meaningful soul-searching moment. Why hate wine? was waged with a comment on “the wine geek who hates certain wines. The wine aficionado who picks on specific bottles, bullies them to the point of hatred. Slags them beyond reproach. Rants to the world about the injustice of their existence.” Bugger off.

The Old Third, Pinot Noir 2008

The Old Third, Pinot Noir 2008

Then April. “The Ontario wine industry is the best kept secret in the world. It has grown, accelerated and advanced with more success than might have been imagined as recently as five years ago. Ontario winemakers have figured it out. The “world-class” comparative humanities of aging and longevity aside, the comprehensive and widespread phenomenon of excellence, regardless of vintage, is now an Ontario reality.” Now you know the answer to Why taste Ontario?

Related – 15 Canadian wines that rocked in 2015

In May further validation with Searching for Somewhereness and I’m a little bit County, setting the stage for an October visit to proportion enormity across ridges and eskers. Further understanding culled in The Old Third and older County wines and The ridges of Prince Edward County.

Saturday night @barquebbq #smokerschoice and '08 @bodegasmuriel #rioja #spain

Saturday night @barquebbq #smokerschoice and ’08 @bodegasmuriel #rioja #spain

“Wine is a commensurate animal, altricial such as it is, acaudal, acersous, agnostic, aculeate and allocryptic such as it is not. Wine that is not so much off the beaten path as actually growing on one.” Path straying wines. The game changer happened one day in May at Barque Smokehouse with Chiara De lulis Pepe and The natural wines of Emidio Pepe.

Cool Chardonnay at Ridley College

Cool Chardonnay at Ridley College

The June WineAlign National Wine Awards of Canada followed Ontario Wine Awards judging, inclusive of tastings at Niagara College, Creekside Estates, Ravine Vineyard, Trius, Treadwell CuisineDomaine Queylus and The Good Earth Wine Company. A great, learned experience at Master classes of Terroir shed brilliant light on Gamay. Then the most important query of the summer. Can Chardonnay get any cooler? Well, one of two. Great Chardonnay and Pinot Noir from Nova Scotia? My maritime wine sojourn is summarized in East coast swing 2015: Time, tides and wine.

View of the mountains from Tetramythos, Aigialia, Peloponnese

View of the mountains from Tetramythos, Aigialia, Peloponnese

My great Greek Achaian adventure was told in three tales, Till I reach Achaia groundBring me Achaia love and Gateway to Achaia, from Roditis to Mavrodaphne

South Africa’s memories spilled out in waves, from Once upon a time in the Western Cape to Wines of South Africa: It’s the fling itself, through South African duck dynasty and Wines of South Africa: Go Cars Go.

The Empire of Garnacha

The Empire of Garnacha

October and November trips to Aragaon, Catalonia and Franciacorta opened eyes and expanded minds like never before. We’ve Garnacha covered part one: Campo De Borja was followed by CariñenaSomontanoTerra Alta and Calatayud.

With Pablo Alvarez (#vegasicilia) and Laurent Drouhin (#josephdrouhin) at #fourseasonstoronto for #primumfamiliaevini Can there be a more visceral wine experience than tasting some of the world's greatest wine estates and all the while their principals just seem to only talk about history and family? Makes me think about parents, grandparents and children. About accomplishments, passing torches and smelling roses. Or something like that.

With Pablo Alvarez (#vegasicilia) and Laurent Drouhin (#josephdrouhin) at #fourseasonstoronto for #primumfamiliaevini…Can there be a more visceral wine experience than tasting some of the world’s greatest wine estates and all the while their principals just seem to only talk about history and family? Makes me think about parents, grandparents and children. About accomplishments, passing torches and smelling roses. Or something like that.

Far out, man

Far out, man

Here are some mind blowing wines tasted in 2015.

Tetramythos Roditis 2014

Tetramythos Roditis 2014

Tetramythos Roditis 2014, PDO Patras, Greece (SAQ 12484575, $15.75, WineAlign)

Pulled from four vineyards at 650-850m of altitude and from vines 19-42 years old. No skin contact though it shows a light, slight tinge of colour. Nearly platinum in its yellow hue, perhaps attributed to organics says Papagiannopoulos, Eighty per cent was achieved through natural ferment (with zero malolactic) plus “one tank for security.” Roditis can go clean or develop anti-austerity, texture, viscosity in the direction of a dirty projector. The Tetramythos glides “forward through the clover and the bergamot.” I can see what she’s seeing. Tasting like a leesy ripe peach, this is the best “basic” Roditis tasted in Achaia. Serious match of Aleria Restaurant‘s Sea Bass Tartare. Drink 2015-2020.  Tasted July 2015

To taste again @lafouceller in @doterraalta is today's master plan @VINOS_ICEX #lovegarnacha #garnatxablanca #crdoterraalta

To taste again @lafouceller in @doterraalta is today’s master plan @VINOS_ICEX #lovegarnacha #garnatxablanca #crdoterraalta

Lafou Celler Garnatxa Blanca 2014, DO Terra Alta, Spain (WineryAgentWineAlign)

Ramon Roqueta Segalés, winemaker, soothsayer, visionary, seeker of the Garnatxa Blanca of today from “a narrow valley.” Ramon is very concerned with the valleys, the landscape, the geology, how the wind, the mediterranean climate and the ancient rivers that run through, having left their glacial deposits, all combine for this particular and most important expression of Garnatxa Blanca. Established in 2007, this wine was first released in 2011. Combines old and young fruit, some harvested fresher at a greener stage and others picked later, riper, brought together. Vinified separately, with some skin maceration, looking for fat to surround acidity. Ripe fruit (10 per cent) sees oak, the rest in egg shape concrete tanks with six to seven months of lees contact. Smells like a ripe peach, fresh and without sugar but instead a sprinkling of subterranean, ancient riverbed harvested salt. The tang is layered, variegated, mineral, mastered over and in corralling of oxidation, elaborated with gentle but forceful demand. “We learned that you can get a balance by harvesting and an early and a later stage, sometimes three times.” Finishes with lime, fresh squeezed, sweet tonic and distilled flowers. A wine that has succeeded in “mastering the oxidation process.” Plus the tannic (anti-oxidative) aspects offered in micro-oxygenation from the slightly toasted new oak. Approximate price $28.95 CAN. Drink 2015-2025.  Tasted October 2015  @lafouceller  @oenophilia1

Maps & Legends, from Cartology to Flotsam & Jetsam @ChrisAlheit @ZooBiscuitsWine #alheitvineyards #hermanus #capewine2015

Maps & Legends, from Cartology to Flotsam & Jetsam @ChrisAlheit @ZooBiscuitsWine #alheitvineyards #hermanus #capewine2015

Alheit Vineyards Flotsam & Jetsam Days of Yore 2014 (Winery)

Chris Alheit’s brand might allude to a chapter in J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Two Towers but Days of Yore must pay some homage to the 80’s thrash metal band and with great irony. This Cabernet Sauvignon and Cinsault blend is no Doomsday for the Receiver and certainly No Place for Disgrace. What it is instead is pure liquid brilliance. Old 1960 Cabernet Sauvignon bush vines are (even if unintentionally) farmed the way they used to be, back in the days of yore. Now cropped, tended and produced in pitch perfect cure, the resulting wine (when Cabernet is blended with Albeit’s dry-farmed, stomped and tonic-singular Cinsault) shows smoky depth and musicality. Sour-edged or tart can’t begin to describe the tang. It’s something other, unnameable, sapid, fluid and beautiful. It brings South Africa from out of the heart of its wayfinding darkness. Drink 2015-2025.  Tasted September 2015  @ChrisAlheit  @ZooBiscuitsWine

"If you can see the differences of terroir in Gewürz, then you won’t see it in Riesling" @AlsaceWines #olivierhumbrecht

“If you can see the differences of terroir in Gewürz, then you won’t see it in Riesling” @AlsaceWines #olivierhumbrecht

Domaine Zind-Humbrecht Gewürztraminer Clos Windsbuhl 2011, Ac Alsace, France (Agent, $64.00, WineAlign)

This is the most northerly Zind-Humbrecht vineyard, in Hunawihr. Like oil and water from this to 2012. So much more richness, unctuousness, classic western European riverbank gluck and heavy weighted metal. Layers upon layers of texture though not nearly as dramatically sweet as it might appear to be. Hides it so well, thanks to those remarkable Windsbuhl gifting phenols and intense grape tannin. This has presence so very rare in Gewürztraminer. In the end its a glass full of liquid gems, polished, elegant and refined. Allow the sugars several more years to fully realize its potential relationship with the acidity. Drink 2018-2033.  Tasted November 2015  @olivier_dzh  @TrialtoON  @AlsaceWines  @VinsAlsace  @drinkAlsace

Don Melchor Cabernet Sauvignon 2010

Concha Y Toro Don Melchor Cabernet Sauvignon 2010, Maipo Valley, Chile (403980, $70.00, WineAlign)

The 2010 Don Melchor harkens backwards, to years like 2001 and 2003, rephrasing and rewriting the paradigmatic book. From seven contiguous, sub-divided blocks of Cabernet, the ’10 speaks most highly of Lot Two, emphasized by chocolate, menthol and mineral, in cohorts with Lot Four, in elegance and depth. Extended glom and time-lapse picking between April 22 and May 27 was the casualty turned blessing of a cooler growing season in the semi-arid Mediterranean-like scrub desert of Puente Alto. The alluvial motion hauteur of slow-ripened fruit can’t be overestimated. The frame by frame capture has resulted in aromatics wafting off the charts; violet, anise, roasting cocoa bean, garrigue, ferric filings, mortar on wet stone, Cassis and eucalyptus. There is no heat, rendering the 14.6 declared alcoholic irrelevant. Best of all, it smells like Chile as much as it does Cabernet. There is no need to discuss the (97 per cent) CS in terms of Bordeaux, that is until you taste. Then the tobacco angst and silky texture elicit Margaux. Black currants and fine chocolate melt on the finish, still with a mouthful of stones. For winemaker Enrique Tirado, this may be his “El opus.” It will age effortlessly for 12-15 years. For anyone who purchased this wine more than 10 vintages ago, comparing current cost can be a byproduct in natural preoccupation. Who would not want a return to the sub-$50 Don Melchor going back a decade or more? Yet while tasting the present decimus, $100 crosses the fiscal mind and seems completely apropos. At $70 the clarity and sonority of its value is the blazon of an epistle. Few Cabernet Sauvignon dominant wines from Bordeaux or Napa Valley can compare. Drink 2016-2025.  Tasted April 2015  @conchaytoro  @MikeAikins1  @DrinkChile

Mullineux & Leeu Syrah Iron 2013, Wo Swartland, South Africa (WineryAgentWineAlign)

If such cure, grip, ferric grab and intense tannin has ever infiltrated South African Syrah it has not yet found its way over to me. In a side by side comparative tasting with the Schist Syrah this one wrestles to win. The Schist is all perfume and soft elegance. The Iron draws power to strength from strength. It is an unrelenting conduit of energy, from soil clearly designed to outlive humanity. The Syrah is a product of geological wonder and winemaking that steps aside to let the terroir speak its mind. Demanding and filled with tension now, time will soften the stranglehold and loosen the wires. Lots of time. Drink 2019-2028.  Tasted September 2015  @MullineuxWines  @MullineuxChris  @Nicholaspearce_

Fleury Père et Fils Cépages Blancs Extra Brut Champagne 1990, Champagne, France (Winery, Agent, WineAlign)

The expediency of weighted oxidation in flight flies effortlessly as a traveller propelled with verve and intrepid behaviour. Dried tangerine and so many tannic aspects are exaggeratedly exceptional for Champagne, fast forward thrusted and draughted with effortless urge. Derived as if from concrete shaped in purest form, of and before life. The dried fruits and a pith so calming are gathered for a level of citrus almost never before encountered. A very, very special 25 year-old bottle of bubbles from a pioneering organic and biodynamic producer in Courteron. Drink 2015-2020. Tasted February 2015  @ChampagneFleury

Most exciting wines tasted in a long time @winesorarg #carasur #bonarda #criolla #argentina #valledecalingasta

Most exciting wines tasted in a long time @winesorarg #carasur #bonarda #criolla #argentina #valledecalingasta

Cara Sur Bonarda 2014, Barreal, San Juan, Agrentina (Approx. $140)

Dry farmed, mordant and agile varietal red, a garagiste of a dirt road, in minuscule production, from natural run-off water and wild yeast. Only 500-600 bottles are produced, from north of Mendoza, in the Valle de Callingasta and Zuccardi funded. The natural cure is off the charts, the Emidio Pepe of Argentina, in which winemaking is really just perfect. Smells like the scrape of the amphora, already imbued of the aromatics of years, the answers of age, the design of ancients. You could keep this in the glass for a week and it will hardly evolve. Imagined as a 40 year wine for sure. Purity incarnate. Drink 2015-2040.  Tasted August 2015  @winesofarg

As I get on the 707 @penfolds 1999 #cabernetsauvignon carries me far away #treasurywineestates #southaustralia #bookofdreams

As I get on the 707 @penfolds 1999 #cabernetsauvignon carries me far away #treasurywineestates #southaustralia #bookofdreams

Jonata La Sangre De Jonata Syrah 2008, Santa Ynez Valley, Santa Barbara County, California (220517, $150.00, WineAlign)

A tremendously ripe, rich and layered Syrah that has few equals or rivals in California so in that sense the price is benevolently justified. Winemaker Matt Dees is no flash in the pan. His wines are cerebrated and cogitated with no stone left unturned. They are showy, chiselled wrestlers, boxers and ultimate fighters but they are the real deal. This ’08 is a veritable protein potpourri, of wafts from the finest boucherie, all hung limbs and wrapped sheep’s cheeses, in caves, on counters and under glass. The expression is also very Côte Rôtie meets côte de bœuf rôtie, with added luxe perfume, chalk and lacy grain. The fruit boundaries are endless, the chew meaty, cured and smoky. Ultra Syrah of never wavering red fruit in a packed vessel with alcohol declared at a meagre 14.9 per cent. Even if it is really more like 15.5, the wealth of fruit, acidity, tannin and structure can handle the heat. With so much happening, this wine will age like the prized hind quarters and mother’s milk solids it smells of. Jonata La Sangre De Jonata Syrah 2008 says something and I’d love to hear what that is 15 years down the road. Drink 2018-2028.  Tasted May 2015  @WoodmanWS  @CalifWines_CA

As I get on the 707 @penfolds 1999 #cabernetsauvignon carries me far away #treasurywineestates #southaustralia #bookofdreams

As I get on the 707 @penfolds 1999 #cabernetsauvignon carries me far away #treasurywineestates #southaustralia #bookofdreams

Penfolds Bin 707 Cabernet Sauvignon 1999, South Australia, Australia (Agent, $175.00, WineAlign)

The Bin 707 was first produced in 1964 though passed over from 1970 to 1975 and then in 1981, 1995, 2000, 2003 and 2011. With Grange in mind, were it to look in the mirror, it would see its reflection as Cabernet Sauvignon. A true South Australian Claret, multi-regional blend from Barossa Valley, Coonawarra, Padthaway, Robe and Wrattonbully. The ’99 was the 28th and as I get on board in 2015 and taste the 707, it carries me so far away. Today, in this world and how we play it, this is as fresh as Cabernet Sauvignon can be. It reads like a book of dreams. It is a miller of fruit, in secondary ester of refinement. It is a jet airliner, leaving behind a voluminous, velutinous trail of exhaust. “I feel like it’s all been done,” but not like this, aged for 18 months in 100 per cent new 300 litre American oak hogsheads. Not with this precision from veraciously selected fruit. Not like this. Look to 2025 for the tertiary period to begin. Drink 2015-2024. Tasted August 2015 @penfolds  #treasurywineestates 

Fino, Don P.X. '86 and '62 w: @sorgatoBTA @toroalbala @LeSommelierWine Magical, impossible, unchanging. Bucket list to revisit in 150 years #pedroximenez #bodegastoroalbala #montillamoriles #spain

Fino, Don P.X. ’86 and ’62 w: @sorgatoBTA @toroalbala @LeSommelierWine Magical, impossible, unchanging. Bucket list to revisit in 150 years #pedroximenez #bodegastoroalbala #montillamoriles #spain

Bodegas Toro Albalá Don P.X. Reserva Especial 1962, Do Montilla Moriles (424085, $205.00, WineAlign)

Unlike the 1986 which under recent European law (because it is not a red wine) must not be named Gran Reserva, this grandfather of a Pedro Ximenez is free to be what it’s supposed to be. A wine that was housed in a home somewhere in the village 10 years before the winery was created. A wine harvested in 1962, then took two months to ferment (to 7 or 8 per  cent alcohol). Estate distillate was added to fortify and raise it to 17 per cent, followed by a slumber for two years in concrete vats. The final resting place was in American wood where it slumbered peacefully for 49 years until it was bottled in 2011. In a show of future forward thinking and in retrospect, of historical allegiance, the signature on the bottle belongs to its original maker. Egresses from such delicate aromas, from citrus to coffee and stands in remarkable freshness belying its 50 years. The nuts are smoked with a zesting by citrus and a dusting in nutmeg. Chestnut and hazelnut curiously form a crasis of sensation, airy and creamy like mousse, sabayon or Caudreau. If you allow it, the finish will not let go. The sugar (300 g/L RS) and acidity (5.73 g/L TA) are the tangible aspects of its futuristic longevity. Like the ’86 this is another dessert wine secured of natural preservatives; undefined, magical, impossible. These wines opened could last for 20 plus years, unchanged. Unopened that number could surpass 100, without question, no problem. Like honey, this is an earthly substance that can last, seemingly forever. So, one glass of P.X. every day, going forward, for self-preservation. Drink 2015-2060. Tasted October 2015  @LeSommelierWine

The line-up from Emidio Pepe

The line-up from Emidio Pepe

Emidio Pepe Montepulciano d’Abruzzo Riserva 1983, DOC BIO Abruzzo, Italy (Agent, $279.95, WineAlign)

Give Emidio Pepe’s reds thirty odd years to develop and the impossible happens. To postulate in a moment’s assessment without remembering the pious tradition with which this was made would be a crime against Pepe, Abruzzo, the natural world and the wonders of the universe. With this much passage the spice cupboard that emits is wow times a thousand. Clove, cinnamon, cardamon, orange peel, galangal and like golden raisins that pass through quarries to become rubies. This wine is perfect. It has not broken down an iota. It requires no decanting. It defies logic, perception and time. There is no sediment, only energy. Speaks from the glass as if it were a child of destiny and mythology. The 1983 Emidio Pepe Montepulciano d’Abruzzo Riserva arrives from along the same road taken but its transmogrification proves that the result, with thanks again to the endemic froth, is different every time. Drink 2015-2029.  Tasted March 2015

Gaia Gaja and 1978 Barbaresco #veryproud #nebbiolo @StemWineGroup

Gaia Gaja and 1978 Barbaresco #veryproud #nebbiolo @StemWineGroup

Gaja Barbaresco 1978, Piemonte, Italy (Agent)

Tasted with Gaia Gaja as an added, as good a bonus as there ever was to an already exceptional line-up of Gaja wines, the 1978 Barbaresco is untangled, untwisted and liberated. Nebbiolo spoken with the utmost clarity. Cherries falling from the tree the moment the tips of fingers come within a hair of the touch. Spring is indeed in the air (despite it being early fall), a trick of the Gaja Genesis tale, “fields of incentive covered with green.” A mesmerizing Barbaresco, pure as driven snow, clear as a pool of fallen rain, quiet as an undisturbed slumber. Ancient longings of leather and dusty cocoa are but pipe stuffing, not yet lit. This Nebbiolo is pretty, feminine, beautiful and forcefully elegant. “When you’re asleep they may show you, aerial views of the ground, Freudian slumber empty of sound.” Only available from Nebbioli of the highest caste and order. Drink 2015-2028.  Tasted September 2015

Five little ducks all in a row @BellaVistaVino #anothersongaboutthefizz #franciacorta #largeformats #1987 #1989

Five little ducks all in a row @BellaVistaVino #anothersongaboutthefizz #franciacorta #largeformats #1987 #1989

Bellavista Winery Brut Sparkling 1987, Franciacorta, Italy (From a Six litre bottle, Agent, Winery)

Tasted alongside a 750 mL, Magnum, Jeroboam and nine litre 1989. The Methuselah is the first wine to show similarly to any of the others so the comfort level rises and yet this rocks out flinty and reductive most like the 3L. The energy is consistent, but here the spice is magnified and the nutty sense that showed in the Magnum has come forth. This seems to combine the pique aspects of both the Magnum and the Jeroboam. A best of all worlds bottle plus what it brings that neither had. Absolute freshness. Does not evolve in the glass in its first few minutes like the others that came before. It evens glistens unlike the others, as if it knows how complex, special and alive it is. This is the bomb for sure. Dart straight through the heart. Crazy exceptional Sparkling wine. It should be interesting to try and assess, which is a major act of liberty in assumption, to gauge with accuracy how format affects age. To close one’s eyes tight and place a number on each wine, to where it has evolved and why. Here, Jeroboam still three to five years away from even that beginning. Truly. Drink 2018-2037.  Tasted November 2015  @BellavistaVino  @Noble_Estates

Good to go!

Twitter: @mgodello

Instagram: mgodello

WineAlign: Michael Godel


Garnacha covered part two: Cariñena

Cariñena rocks! Autochthonous soils and their stones @DoCarinena @winesofgarnacha #bushvines #aragon #espana

Cariñena rocks! Autochthonous soils and their stones @DoCarinena @winesofgarnacha #bushvines #aragon #espana

This is the second of five instalments for a comprehensive study concerning the wines of Garnacha from the regions of Aragón and Catalonia.

In October of 2015 WineAlign colleague Sara d’Amato and I travelled together with Christopher Waters of Vines Magazine.  The trip’s mission was to discover Spain’s Wines of Garnacha in their natural habitat, the five distinct and allied Denominación de Origen in the regions of Aragón and Catalonia.

Related – For a comprehensive report by Sara d’Amato and I read WineAlignDiscover the Flavours: Wines of Garnacha

Our host in Zaragoza was The Spanish Institute for Foreign Trade (Instituto Español de Comercio Exterior, ICEX), the Wines of Garnacha campaign and the office of Garnacha Origen. The trip was orchestrated with expertise by Aragón Exterior Managing Director Ignacio (Nacho) Martinez de Albornoz and Head of Wines from Spain (ICEX) Alfonso Janeiro. Our chaperones were Ignacio, Sofía González Martínez, Ivo André Alho Cabral and Roser Mestre, in Zaragoza and on expeditions to the five DO’s that comprise the wines of Garnacha.

Related – We’ve Garnacha covered part one: Campo De Borja

Restaurante Palomeque, Zaragoza

Restaurante Palomeque, Zaragoza

As we did each evening before heading out the following morning to a particular DO, Sofía, Ivo, Ignacio and Roser introduced the intrepid Los Canadienses travellers to the wines of that DO over dinner in  Zaragoza.  For the wines of Cariñena the matchmaking happened at Restaurante Palomeque, a Zaragozan institution that bridges exemplary regional cooking with 21st century acumen. The dishes at Palomeque were as much exciting as they were down to earth. The cast of Cariñena could not have chosen a more supporting role.

Loganiza de Graus con setas (trompetilla negra) #Palomeque #Zaragoza Somontano sausage filled with black trumpet mushrooms

Loganiza de Graus con setas (trompetilla negra) #Palomeque #Zaragoza Somontano sausage filled with black trumpet mushrooms


What is most glaring about Cariñena is the prevalence of a prairie geography and how it differs in stark contrast to the other DO’s in Aragon and Catalonia. Though mountains (including Moncayo) loom in the distance,  Cariñena’s obvious dissimilitude to other wine growing regions has as much to do with climate as it does with soils. The Cariñena terra is primarily composed of clay and limestone, with very little in the way of slate like you find in Campo de Borja. The ground’s constitution aggregates with a significant absence of altitude, relative to the hills of Somontano, Calatayud and Terra Alta. That said, the are’s best examples of Garnacha are culled from vines that grow at reasonably impressive heights. What all of this essentially translates to is the basic, hard fact that the harvest here is completed earlier. At the point of our visit (October 18-19), the reaping was 90-95 per cent done. The brusque and breviloquent conclusion sees to less acidity and tannin, more elegance and less ageing potential, as compared to (certainly) Calatayud.

The autumn of old #Cariñena bush vines @DoCarinena #garnachaterroir

The autumn of old #Cariñena bush vines @DoCarinena #garnachaterroir

Calatayud is the DO to offer the best compare and contrast with Cariñena, just as a similar distinction can be ascertained with Somontano and Terra Alta. Campo de Borja is the outlier, unique, singular, the brother from another mother. Very important is the increased Mediterranean influence in Cariñena. Calatayud has more extreme seasons, particularly in spring and summer. In Cariñena, some striking, ancient Garnacha bush vines exist (and again, produce the region’s best bottles), but the age of the vines are generally younger. This aspect separates it from all of the other DO’s, especially when the discussion centers around the laying down of Garnacha.

The wine museum of Cariñena

The wine museum of Cariñena

After a brief tour through the wine museum housed in the offices of Cariñena’s DO, Christopher, Sara and I sat down for an extensive and brutally honest tasting with Care winemaker Jorge Navascues Haba.

Wines of Cariñena at Restaurante Palomeque

Wines of Cariñena at Restaurante Palomeque

Bodegas Solar de Urbezo Garnacha 2014, Cariñena, Spain (Winery, AgentWineAlign)

From old bush vines (40-66 yrs) with some altitude. A family winery Garnacha with a gravelly feel, not so much rustic as gritty, for Cariñena and with really fine and necessary acidity. Reaches black cherry near ripeness, though being struck by that acidity (from altitude therefore later ripening) but more so from recent changes in winemaking. Judging ripeness has become the catalyst and in 2014 this is a wine of terrific extract, restraint and pinpoint focus. Possessive off Motherwell like brushstrokes, thick swaths of fresh blue-green cool colour and shaded by naturalism, in cure without funk. A good example of “good ripeness.” A lean and direct example. Only three chippy months of oak was used. All in all this is just prime freshness with a minor amount of green tannin. Approximate price $18.95 CAN. Drink 2015-2017.  Tasted October 2015  @UrbezoWines  @bwwines

Bodegas Solar de Urbezo Garnacha 2013, Cariñena, Spain (WineryAgent, WineAlign)

Carries with it more attitude in 2013, from a vintage that seems to have delivered variable ripeness over the course of the picking weeks. Definitely and devilishly imbued with complexity, from floral, through medicinal by way of bitters and across many angles. Has real garnet, Garnacha tang levied out of vivid acidity, sweet limestone tartness and those ever-bearing fruity bitters. Perhaps more interesting if not as accessible as the follow-up ’14. Drink 2015-2016.  Tasted with the Wines of Garnacha, Toronto, November 2014

Menguante Garnacha 2014

Vinedos Y Bodegas Pablo Menguante Garnacha 2014, Cariñena, Spain (WineryAgentWineAlign)

From one of the more stated quality terroirs with elevation (between 500-650m) and stony-clay-chalk soils. In almost every and all respects it shies in a subdued, restrained and reserved quality. This quiet repetition and still the phenolics seem optimized, the acidity resolved and the tannins in relative, correct ripeness. Another family project, small and philosophically sound in practices. Working one of the highest and best quality vineyards in Cariñena. “The waning moon,” for a biodynamic outfit, not certified, the old vines in that altitude receiving the most benefits from the Cierzo wind. From this it is easier to cultivate organically and biodynamically because of nature’s pest control. Some 80-year old vines throw wisdom and culled subterranean culture into the mix. A bit of citrus and chalk bleeds on the very fresh finish. Drink 2015-2018.  Tasted October 2015  @GranViu  @VinexxWine

Vinedos Y Bodegas Pablo Menguante Garnacha Selección 2012, Cariñena, Spain (WineryAgentWineAlign)

Two years on and with more oak this is a very different animal than the subdued ’14, integrated but on the other side of the aromosphere. The oak is dominant, vanilla and cocoa are the great waft in what is ostensibly pitch perfect fruit, in bottle on the dark side of the moon. Coconut, vanilla extract and cinnamon. The wood brings layered and sheathed character. Very plush and notes Jorge, “if you come to Cariñena to experience Garnacha, this wine will allow you to discover the wonders of American oak.” The deep fruit and earth melded into and by the barrel makes for a very pleasurable drop. The ’08 released into the Ontario market in November 2014 lends credence to the ageability of this Garnacha. Drink 2015-2019.  Tasted October 2015

Vinedos Y Bodegas Pablo Menguante Garnacha Selección 2011, Cariñena, Spain (WineryAgentWineAlign)

A grand, beguiling, sensuous, perhaps even pushing the boundaries of voluptuous Garnacha, “a wine that describes THE Garnacha,” according to dining companions in Zaragoza. Velutinous in composure and texture, with an orange skin finish. Here the gap is bridged, from traditional to modish, by nature and into seductive polish. The peeled citrus finish is also one of great mouth-watering acidity, intrigued by l’air de panache and laced by spice. Very well done. Drink 2015-2018.  Tasted at Restaurante Palomeque, Zaragoza, October 2015

Vinedos Y Bodegas Pablo Menguante Garnacha Blanca 2014, Cariñena, Spain (WineryAgentWineAlign)

One of the very few white Garnacha from Cariñena and the only example sampled in Aragon, alongside dinner in Zaragoza at Restaurante Palomeque. The mineral skips like a stone across the palate, white Grenache walking on water like a bone of peach skin and the weightlessness of almond paste. So subtle, breathless, atomic and minute. Mineral in ways to mimic Alsace, of low pH and high grape tannin, “the waning moon” is poignant to anti-fruit extreme and yet so refreshing it will, with age, point to honey and petrol. Drink 2015-2022.  Tasted October 2015

Lechuza Garnacha 2014, Cariñena, Spain (Winery, WineAlign)

The Lechuza “owl” is a collaboration between Valkyrie Selections and local winemaker Ana Becoechea from old vines vineyards just outside the town of Cariñena. This Garnacha Tinto from 45 year-old vines is borne with nature’s funk and an earthy dusting in the way Merlot can be. A chalky grit in distilled, liquid form carries a river of grain marked by the milled smell of warm cereal. Persistent, lengthy and purposed. Smell’s like victory. An excellent pairing to Somontano pork sausage filled with little black trumpet mushrooms at Restaurante Palomeque. Approx. $15 CAN. Drink 2015-2019.  Tasted October 2015

Lechuza Garnacha 2012, Cariñena, Spain (WineryWineAlign)

Named for the prevalence of owls, here old vines Garnacha is uncovered out of clay and calcareous soils. You can really smell and taste the natural vineyard funk, thankful to no oak, fresh and unctuous in simultaneous fashion, yet full and yes, lifted. Highly perfumed, and incredible value at $10 US. Impossible actually. Old vines, likely 40-45 years. You can smell the violets for sure. Approx. $15 CAN. Drink 2015-2017.  Tasted October 2015

Covinca Terrai OVG 2013, Cariñena, Spain (Winery)

From a good-sized cooperative with almost 1.700 hectares of vineyards where native varieties like Garnacha, Mazuela or Cariñena are merged with others such as Tempranillo, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Macabeo, Syrah and Chardonnay. Fruit purity escalated, with just a quick dose of oak, both French and American, more than seemingly good sized barrel, because there is integration and balance. Not the longest Garnacha in the DO but certainly a pleasurable drop. A bit sour-edged and lactic on the backside though a diplomatic red effectively considered. Drink 2015-2017.  Tasted October 2015

Terrai OVG 2014

Terrai OVG 2014

Covinca Terrai TLG Torrelongares Old Vine Garnacha 2014, Cariñena, Spain (Winery)

The vines in here are old by Cariñena stain cards (45 years) and the rich, suave texture brushes the velvet reasoning. Antecedent the median regional perfume and with Mediterranean effect, seen by an increase of the savoury, through briny black olive and caper. The converse flip side slides softer tannin, riper fruit of gregarious behaviour and that savour is a step up from the tart OVG. Accumulation sports a meaty, protein laced sensation. Comparatively speaking, this has more guts and virility. The mix of satin and natural cure matches beautifully with Palomeque’s Foie Gras Migas. Drink 2015-2019.  Tasted October 2015

Bodegas Prinur Garnacha Vinas Viejas 2013, Cariñena, Spain (Winery)

A family winery with soils gravelly and with (not so common to Cariñena) slate and even more singular with some vines that are 100 years-old or more. Vines sit at altitudes of 600m (Cariñena) and 800m (Consuenda) above sea level. The old vines sports some raisin and prune ripeness with evolution void of the natural cure necessity, “a zombie wine,” notes Jorge. Here it is hard to recognize Garnacha, with age that could be 2009 or 2010, along with a showing of VA. This is a flawed but very curious wine. Sour and tightly tannic on the finish but not long. Very disjointed. Cooked fruit. From such a warm to scorching vintage.  Drink 2015-2016.  Tasted October 2015  @bodegasprinur

Gastranomia Zarogazana 101 at #Palomeque...Zamburiñas Gallegas with Paniza Rosé @winesofgarnacha #Zaragoza #aragon #espana #scallops

Gastranomia Zarogazana 101 at #Palomeque…Zamburiñas Gallegas with Paniza Rosé @winesofgarnacha #Zaragoza #aragon #espana #scallops

Paniza Garnacha Rosé 2014, Cariñena, Spain (WineryAgentWineAlign)

The rusty, saline savour stands to be counted in a firm and responsibly, if surprisingly tannic blush. Talc, funk and serious tang but certainly not antiquity. Don’t expect the fruit to jump out and bite you in the behind, nor has it jumped the shark. Quite the structure for $12, sapidity and ping. Wow Rosado. Slightly higher in RS than Provence. Drink 2015-2018.  Tasted October 2015

Paniza Garnacha Rose

Paniza Garnacha Rose

Paniza Agoston Grenache and Syrah 2014, Cariñena, Spain (Winery)

From a 50-50 split with elevated sugar and acidity. French and American oak with an absence of restraint, and the oxy modernity of plush and pitch. The Syrah is so dominant in every way. The olives, pepper and bovine syndication is blatant and bullish. “Not a fair fight,” chimes in Jorge, and “that’s the point.” Dark and not so mysterious. “A winemaking wine.” No idea of origin but “a good palate.” Drink 2015-2016.  Tasted October 2015

Paniza Garnacha Vinas Viejas de Paniza 2012, Cariñena, Spain (Winery)

From variegated (schist, clay, loam and chalk) soil at the base of the Iberia Mountains at 800m altitude. Has a multi-terroir funk and a level of unctuousness mixed with savour from altitude. Sour but rigid and tempered acidity. Chalky yet cool and with much character and personality. Two oaks give obvious and integrated flavours. Were it not quite so ripe this would be a wine to see what can be done with Garnacha from Cariñena and five plus years. A bit sweet. If it were three instead of six, this would age like it should, low and slow. Drink 2015-2018.  Tasted October 2015

Artichokes and clams, Restraurante Palomeque, Zaragoza

Artichokes and clams, Restraurante Palomeque, Zaragoza

Grandes Vinos Beso de Vino Garnacha Rosé 2014, Cariñena, Spain (Winery, Agent, WineAlign)

Here Rosado advances into the glo but stops short of cool thanks to a retreat into warm aridity and salinity. Together they deliver, with strawberry and a bit of Co2. Refreshing, as if blush Vinho Verde. With a briny sea creature like clams or scallops (Zamburiñas Gallegas) it actually accentuates the crustaceous amplification, in both directions. Aprox. $9.99 CAN. Tasted October 2015  @BesodeVino  @GrandesVinos_CA  @Noble_Estates

Grandes Vinos Beso de Vino Garnacha Old Vine 2014, Cariñena, Spain (WineryAgentWineAlign)

The Beso de Vino is produced by the third largest cooperative in Spain. It is basic, straightforward, red fruit juicy Garnacha from low altitude, flat clay soils of Cariñena. Character comes in a modern, big box style, more international than regional. There is a dusty component mixed with a chew of Bubbilicious and no shortage of tangy fruit to match with wide ranging cuisine. Simple and effective Garnacha. Has travelled to where it needs to be. Drink 2015-2016.  Tasted October and November 2015

Grandes Vinos Corona de Aragón Garnacha Special Selection 2013, Cariñena, Spain (WineryAgent)

Another commercial wine with a North American market intent. Elevation gives cooler savour and yet it’s volatile and short. Boletus sensation, the sour a bit of a deterrent, but it has savoury interest. Drink 2015-2016.  Tasted October 2015

Grandes Vinos Anayon Garnacha 2013, Cariñena, Spain (Winery, 424424, Agent, $30.95, WineAlign)

A perched Garnacha, of a kind entrenched in the lush, the stylized, the worked and of smoothed edges. Extreme modernity, of a fast forward prepared cure, with similar fruit to the Corona but different winemaking. The fruit perhaps lags a bit behind the acumen. Possessive of an intriguing wild mountain herb. Drink 2015-2019.  Tasted October 2015

Bodegas San Valero Particular Garnacha 2014, Cariñena, Spain (Winery, Agent)

Musty, mushroom and an hour ago tobacco linger, cool modern savoury and pitchy sweet though aromatically, not in taste. High acidity and much cocoa/espresso. High yield Garnacha (50 hL/L). Commercial to be sure. Drink 2015-2016.  Tasted October 2015  @bodegasanvalero  @ImportWineMAFWM

Bodegas San Valero Particular Garnacha 2012, Cariñena, Spain (WineryAgent)

Combines Cariñena and Tosos fruit, of the same high yields, with a similar profile with some volatility. Cocoa, chocolate, coffee and liquorice.  Very firm and rigid wine. Not fresh and fruity that’s for sure. Resinous and the long direction taken with wood. Drink 2015-2017.  Tasted October 2015

Bodegas San Valero Particular Garnacha Vinas Centenarias 2014, Cariñena, Spain (WineryAgent)

From 80 plus year-old vines, this has the levels of kirsch and high toned fruit I would hope for in an old vine Garnacha. Still the espresso, the cocoa and the high levels of acidity, more aridity, firm and quite striking. This is a meaty, savoury and mountain herbal expression. Really impressive. Cariñena and Villanueva fruit. Pretty? Sure. Volatile? Yes. Polarizing? Certainly. This is where the style goes with time and this kind of winemaking. Drink 2015-2019.  Tasted October 2015

Care Finca Bancales 2012

Care Finca Bancales 2012

Care Finca Bancales Garnacha Reserva Vinas Viejas 2012, Cariñena, Spain (WineryWineAlign)

The most prized perfumed is found here, standing out among the extensive Cariñena line-up, of oaked violets arranged with aromatic presentation. One of the very few that truly preserve a heightened level of quality and identity for the region. From old (80 year-old vines) up at high altitude. Fashioned with carefully selected fruit and dealt a cool fermentation, followed by one month of maceration. Aged in bigger volume, old and new (300-500l barrels). “We are not pioneers, we are imitators,” admits winemaker Jorge Navascues Haba. What’s special is the size of the barrels and the mixture of oaks. Here Garnacha that should and will certainly live another six to eight years. Shows off enough fruit to match the tannin and the acidity pulsating in full rage. Grainy like few others yet with wooing, seductive, elegant, ripe red fruit. This is the benchmark for Garnacha from Cariñena with ego checked and left at the door. Drink 2015-2022.  Tasted October 2015

Bodegas Ignacio Marin Duque de Medina Garnacha 2014, Cariñena, Spain (Winery)

From a family winery (largest in Cariñena) and a wine unlike any other yet in Aragon. Mature, nearly caramelized, nutty and almost desert like. Very low in acidity and tannin. Oxidative. Quick work. Drink 2015.  Tasted October 2015

Bodegas Ignacio Marin Old Vines Garnacha 2010, Cariñena, Spain (Winery)

Touched, volatile, nutty to fruitcake, turntable vinyl and vaporizing. A flavour that recalls white cocoa and spun white wool. Once forbidden fruit playing hard to get. Old school, chiseled, locked in. Freshness no longer its number one asset. Drink 2015.  Tasted October 2015

Welcome to the Hotel #Cariñena

Welcome to the Hotel #Cariñena

Good to go!

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WineAlign: Michael Godel