Fifteen ahead of VINTAGES April 15th

Yes we did. Who shucks’em cleaner anywhere close to the headwaters? #nobody @TideandVine

The VINTAGES April 15th release is all about value. I tasted through close to 100 over these past few weeks and wines under $20 are what stood out from the pack. My recommendations include four under $15 and six more under $18. Everything needed to get you through five months of impending warm weather is right here, right now. Enjoy.

Animus 2014, Doc Douro, Portugal (385302, $12.95, WineAlign)

@VFvinhos  @ProfileWineGrp  @winesportugalCA

Boutari Naoussa Xinomavro 2014, Pdo Naoussa, Greece (23218, $13.95, WineAlign)

@boutari  @KolonakiGroup  @DrinkGreekWine

Casal De Ventozela Espadeiro Rosé 2016, Vinho Verde, Portugal (450841, $13.95, WineAlign)

  @vinhosverdes  @winesportugalCA  @LeSommelierWine

Chateau D’aigueville Côte Du Rhône Villages 2015, Ac Rhône, France (479683, $14.95, WineAlign)

  @Eurovintage  @VINSRHONE

Lorca Selección Monastrell 2008, Do Bullas, Spain (380238, $15.95, WineAlign)

@BodegasRosario  @TheCaseForWine  @DOP_Bullas

Heartland Spice Trader Shiraz/Cabernet Sauvignon 2014, Langhorne Creek, South Australia, Australia (429241, $16.95, WineAlign)

From Langhorne Creek and reeking of exoticsim, the aptly-named Spice Trader is a glass of full-bodied shiraz-cabernet sauvignon savour. The seasonings are zesty, spirited, piquant and then finally, settled into a mulled warmth. Red peppercorn, cardamom and allspice bring a Malabar-Zanzibar, dhow-drift sail through the red fleshy fruit. No kernel is left uncracked and the spiked liquere leaves a lingering lift. More Langhorne than cabernet or shiraz but full of flavour. Drink 2017-2018.  Tasted January 2017  @heartlandwines  @TheVine_RobGroh

La Griffe Bernard Chéreau Muscadet Sèvre & Maine 2015, Sur Lie, Ap Loire, France (948182, $16.95, WineAlign)

@HHDImports_Wine  @LoireValleyWine

Alkoomi White Label Semillon/Sauvignon Blanc 2016, Frankland River, Western Australia, Australia (428383, $16.95, WineAlign)

@Alkoomi  @TFBrands

Château La Verrière 2014, Ac Bordeaux Supérieur, Bordeaux, France (349274, $17.95, WineAlign)

@MajesticWineInc  @BordeauxWines

Jaspi Negre 2013, Montsant, Spain (481085, $17.95, WineAlign)

@cocaifito  Grape Brands Fine Wine & Spirits

Tornatore Nerello Mascalese/Nerello Cappuccio 2014, Doc Etna Rosso, Sicily, Italy (487090, $21.95, WineAlign)

Domaine De Riaux Pouilly Fumé 2015, Ac Loire, France (200063, $25.95, WineAlign)

@LoireValleyWine  Old Cellar Collection

Closson Chase Closson Chase Vineyard Pinot Noir 2014, VQA Prince Edward County, Ontario (145888, $29.95, WineAlign)

@ClossonChase

Fontodi Chianti Classico 2013, Docg Tuscany, Italy (933317, $36.95, WineAlign)

    @rogcowines

Muga Prado Enea Gran Reserva 2009, Doca Rioja, Spain (743310, $57.95, WineAlign)

@bodegasmuga  @Vinexxpert  @RiojaWine  @Wines_fromSpain

Good to go!

Godello

Twitter: @mgodello

Instagram: mgodello

WineAlign

A March of French grapes to dinner

Vineyard PHOTO: FILE/POSTMEDIA NEWS

as seen on canada.com

With just about a month to go before grapevines in temperate climates begin an annual cycle by entering bud break, the 1st of March signals those first thoughts of renewal. I for one wait with anticipation to see how a new growing season will treat unique plantings. Like Rosewood’s Sémillon on the Beamsville Bench or Margan’s in Australia’s Hunter Valley. Like Tempranillo in California or Bonarda in Argentina. Like Palmer Vineyard’s Albariño on the North Fork of Long Island or Cabernet Franc in Prince Edward County.

Related – More Current Release Wines

But let’s face it. Once in a while credit needs to be given where credit is due. Five French grapes have dominated the landscape. This great group of world traveler grape varietals is known as Vitis Vinifera, the common European grape, cultivated worldwide to produce wine everywhere. Deserved or not and disagree if you must but Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Syrah continue to rule the world.

These most famous of the familiar entrenched their pedigreed roots in France. Their success is that of Burgundy, of Bordeaux and the south of France. My anti-‘somewhereness‘ post if you will. This is to remind us of how we came this far, why we are all here, incessantly tasting, discussing and forever posturing about all things wine. Here lies a disparate group, all fashioned from erudite French grapes and produced in five different countries. Fine wines to work with dinner. All are available to seek out right now.

From left to right: Tarima Monastrell 2010; Vintage Ink Mark of Passion Merlot/Cabernet 2010; Te Awa Chardonnay 2010; Devils’ Corner Pinot Noir 2011; and Château La Vieille Cure 2009

The grapes: Monastrell, a.k.a. Mourvèdre

The history: From Bodegas Volver in the Alicante zone of southeastern Spain, fermented and aged sur lie in stainless steel

The lowdown: Surprisingly full-bodied and rich for the price. Laugh while you can but why wouldn’t you buy this?

The food match: Roasted Sweet Potatoes and Fresh Figs

Tarima Monastrell 2010 (310151, $12.95) of intense purple like Bindweed’s eye or an Alicante barrel cactus flower. Not to mention the crazy label’s Passion Flower. Spring fragrance, modern in milk chocolate and berries in vanilla simple syrup. Citrus note adds breadth and food pairing asperity. Alluring and seductive, a vixen of modern Spanish wine fashion.  87  @CSWS_Inc 

The grapes: Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon

The history: Virtual winery owned by Canadian giant Vincor

The lowdown: Aussie winemaker Keith Bown blends selected grapes from several Niagara Peninsula vineyards

The food match: Brisket Burnt Ends, smoked barley risotto

Brisket Burnt Ends, smoked barley risotto (Photo: Jill Chen/freestylefarm.ca)

Vintage Ink Mark of Passion Merlot/Cabernet 2010 (250209, $17.95) exudes NP passion with an exhibitionist’s amp stamp display. Clearly defined vinifera fruit, fine cedary lines. Alcohol is noticeable and is tempered by pencil lead, Zaida’s pipe tobacco and brier fruit that curls around the heat, landing on the button.  88

The grape: Chardonnay

The history: Single estate vineyard in the Gimblett Gravels wine growing region in Hawkes Bay, North Island, New Zealand

The lowdown: One of my most favourite wine discoveries is an off the charts, zinging value white from the South Pacific

The food match: Grilled Herb & Citrus Marinated Chicken Breasts

Te Awa Chardonnay 2010 (301135, $18.95) gives off a good dose of char but in a Penderish way with knowledge that it will dissipate, integrate and elevate this stony ‘River of God’ into a fine, swirling eddy of hard bop goodness. Gorgeous green enamel Ngaruroro meandering to gold. Oleic, alluvial consistency, with a sense of creamed corn, barren straw and built of a gravel verve, taking risks like a Sonny Rollins riff.  91  @TeAwaWinery

The grape: Pinot Noir

The history: Second label of Tasmania’s Tamar Ridge from the Brown Brother’s in Victoria, Australia. The Devil’s Corner is a calm section beyond a treacherous stretch of the Tamar River

The lowdown: Three words for you. Fruit, freshness, drinkability.

The food match: Confit of Duck, roasted potato, sautéed corn, pea shoots, cherry compote

Devils’ Corner Pinot Noir 2011 (317966, $20.95, SAQ, 10947741, $24.80) is radiant in scenic, ruby tone full of red spice opposite a cloying tang. Bobbing red apples caught in a juicy hurricane of vibrant acidity. “Pistol shots ring out in the barroom night.” Builds off the sound and the fury and lasts. For hair-trigger gratification and will do up to three years time.  89  @BrownBrothers 

The Splurge

The grapes: Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon

The history: From Fronsac, in the Libourne area of the Right Bank of the Dordogne. Owned by an American team, The Old Parsonage Inc

The lowdown: Winemaking consultant Christan Veyrey (an associate to Michel Rolland) produces wines intended to peak between four and six years after bottling

The food match: Grilled NY Striploin, potato puree, asparagus, peppercorn butter

Château La Vieille Cure 2009 (191452, $36.85) has got the near-Brett funk I come to expect from a serious bottle of French red wine. Tobacco, swelling blackberries obfuscating with Châteauneuf-du-Pape- like heft and charm. Has got a leaden, lustrous chemical element, licorice and smoked meat. This is so good and not out of whack with Futures ($34) and current US ($34) pricing. To cure what ails you.  91  @EuropvinWines

Good to go!

Canada, let me pour your Thanksgiving wines

Michael Godel (photographs courtesy of Marc Rochette, marcrochette.com)

as seen on canada.com

Who do we owe a debt of gratitude for this long weekend respite? Frobisher, Lincoln, Parliament, Congress? Who can really lay claim to be called founder of Thanksgiving?

In 1879, Canada’s Parliament declared November 6th a day of Thanksgiving and a national holiday but had to do so each year by proclamation. On January 31st, 1957, a proclamation was issued fixing permanently Thanksgiving Day on the second Monday in October, thus eliminating the necessity of an annual proclamation. “A Day of General Thanksgiving to Almighty God for the bountiful harvest with which Canada has been blessed… to be observed on the second Monday in October.”

Back in the 1750’s, this joyous celebration was brought to Nova Scotia by American settlers from the south.”Thanksgiving in Canada is the second Monday in October, because by the time the last Thursday of November comes around Canada is frozen solid and a turkey won’t thaw,” writes Tom Johnson of the Louisville Juice. Guess Tom never made it up to Canada for the winter of 2011/2012.

It’s worth planning a Thanksgiving meal without any reason but to be hungry. Conversely, pouring a glass of wine alongside the harvest feast is simple necessity in my world, borne of my constant economy and curiosity.

Now, I’m not suggesting we all go out and fill a curved goat’s horn with fruit, grain and Pinot Noir. There are better ways to get your cornucopia or horn of plenty on. No, not those ways. Invite the family over, cook like a wild person and pour any one of the following wines.

The grape: Monastrell

The history: A thick-skinned varietal from Jumilla, in the northeast region of Murcia of southeastern Spain

The lowdown:  Customarily a hard nut to crack. This soft number is a red wine drinker’s sundowner

The food match: Goat Cheese on Crostini rubbed with olive oil and garlic

Casa Castillo Monastrell 2010 (165621, $13.95) to sniff is a bit oxy and to look is more than a bit purple. Enters territory of unfamiliar conjugations and be warned to watch out for the splinters but hey, it’s $14!  Built for a Raynolds/Miller North American palate, assays more like reposing Garnacha than trundling Monastrell, but there is beauty in the house.  87

The grape: Chardonnay

The history: Macon-Fuissé is found in southern Burgundy and the Roman Emperor Fussiacus is thought to be the founder of the village of Fuissé

The lowdown: Ostensibly organic farming, this Chard is achieved through manual harvesting and fermentation in stainless steel. Chablis like and better value

The food match: Crispy-Skin Roast Turkey, cranberry, sage stuffing and turkey gravy

Domaine De Fussiacus Macon-Fuissé 2009 (279000, $16.95) takes more than a lutte raisonée approach and blows my Fuisséing mind. Sits in a museum of scents, like Pomace Brandy by way of French Marc. Like toasted pine nuts in basil pesto. Verve, gusto, spine.  88

The grapes: Syrah, Malbec and Cabernet Sauvignon

The history: All French grapes but only in Argentina do they meet up like this

The lowdown: No longer atypical colección from Mendoza

The food match: Slow-Roasted Rump Roast, duck fat potatoes

Finca Flichman Paisaje De Barrancas 2009 (17129, $17.95) joins together as perfect a circle as could be dreamed from an Argentinian SML assemblage. A berry collective, refined and showing chocolate restraint. Seductive scents, velvet mouth feel, good length and balance. Simple and structured.   89

The grape: Pinot Noir

The history: Pinot grown in a bowl surrounded by mountains at the world’s southernmost wine region

The lowdown: Central Otago on the South Island of New Zealand is the most exciting emerging Pinot locale on the planet

The food match: Pork Shoulder, Bacon and Lingots Cassoulet

Thatched Hut Pinot Noir 2011 (242933, $19.95) is so bright I’ve gotta wear shades. When a $20 wine is able to pull off the status quo from a region where that quo is $40 and up, you know the future alights for Central Otago. Vanilla, capsicum and tangy cranberry sauce meet a zinging swish of fresh texture and pop in the mouth. “Heavenly blessed and worldly wise,” the Hut will sing at the harvest table.  88

The grape: Zinfandel

The history: Yet refuted cousin to Italian Primitivo

The lowdown: Bumble berry bramble typifies Mendocino Zin. Savoury note gives this guy balance

The food match: Smoked Turkey, fresh and tart cranberry sauce

Artezin Zinfandel 2010 (302943, $21.95) initially heads out on the Zin train with dangerous extraction but stops for the night over a campfire of herbs, anise and pine brush. Plums and sourish cherries simmer in the pot. The style is a full on uprising and welcoming to those who “get on board.”  89

The grapes: Grenache, Mourvedre and Syrah

The history: Consummate blend for Côtes-du-Rhône-Villages

The lowdown: This really is as good as it gets for CDRV. A few more dollars but this one rivals many Vacqueyras, Gigondas and even Châteauneuf-du-Pape

The food match: Willowgrove Farms Hormone-Free Smoked and Pulled Pork

Domaine Les Grands Bois Cuveé Maximilien Cairanne 2010 (286336, $21.95) is extraordinary for the appellation. Pitch purple, world-class milk and dark chocolate swirl, creamy silk. The stuff of recent phenomenon, where rocks, dreams and raspberries are crushed and scattered like cake bits over the loam.   91

The grape: Shiraz

The history: The jam from down under

The lowdown: Once a quarter there pours an OZ Shiraz that stands above the crowd

The food match: Braised Short Rib, creamy polenta, green peppercorn jus

Blackjack Major’s Line Shiraz 2008 (280941, $24.95) deserves a 21-card salute for its Victorian, cool, calm and collected demeanor. Blueberry, tar, spice box and wood smoke baked in a pie. Chocolate and vanilla hardly play a part. You may “swear and kick and beg us that you’re not a gamblin’ man,” but I dare you to try this Bendigo. You’ll want to do it again90

The Splurge

The grape: Riesling

The history: Niagara’s signature grape goes ethereal in the hands of winemaker Dianne Smith

The lowdown: Along with Charles Baker’s Picone Vineyard bottling, this Old Vines effort is as good as I’ve tasted in 2012

The food match: BBQ Chicken, goat cheese croquettes

Green Lane Old Vines Riesling 2010 (283432, $29.95) from the oldest block down on the Lincoln Lakeshore is a flat-out mouth-watering, comestible ferment of grapes. Pale lemon/lime soda but a radiant rider. Mosel in trocken mode, bursting with azoic water, pear and persimmon aromas. Rousing acidity jumps to and fro. Wow!!  91

Good to go!