Outward and inward nines for November 12th

Can somebody get the pin? The ninth green at Summit Golf & Country Club

Can somebody get the pin? The ninth green at Summit Golf & Country Club

This will be the last weekend of play for most southern Ontario golf courses, or at least the ones who are smart enough to lock down and protect their precious 7,000 yards of turf from irreparable 2017 damage. For many players there are two seasons, golf and wine buying. Now that the exceptional 2016 year of 50-plus, sunshine-blessed rounds of 18 are done, the time has flipped over to loading up for the holidays and stocking the cellar.

My outward and inward nine recommendations from the VINTAGES November 12th release cover one and then the other. The front is marked by balance relative to par; wines of value, amiability, varietal purity and regional respectability. Just have a look at some of these iconic names: Delas, Catena, Trimbach, Gabbiano, Hedges and Cave Spring. The back takes swings into under and over par territory. Some are choices that polarize with buyers, critics and geeks. Are they worth the cash? Only you can be the judge. Along with some of Niagara’s greats are selections that include Chablis, Gran Selezione, Veneto and Napa Valley.

So put away the sticks and hit the stores. Here are my top 18 recommendations coming to VINTAGES this weekend.

Front Nine

delas

Delas Viognier 2015, Vins De Pays D’oc Rhone, France (462465, $13.95, WineAlign)

Pretty darn textbook viognier in the broadest sense of the varietal word, aromatically waxy, tropical and medicinal. The low alcohol, high flavour and commercially managed acidity is balanced by cream and citrus. No more, no less, precise and managed with utmost professionalism. Drink 2016-2019.  Tasted October 2016    @VINSRHONE  @UNIVINS

karavitakis

Karavitakis Winery The Little Prince White 2015, Crete, Greece (465930, $14.95, WineAlign)

Here an interesting bit of local vernacular, Cretan style, with vilana (65 per cent) and vidiano (35) dishing up a distinctly and singularly endemic mineral impression by way of subtle hints from tropical fruit. The palate is rich, broad and marzipan creamy. The acidity is round and rambling, tying the whole kit and Crete kaboodle together. A worthy side venture into the Greek Aegean hinterland. Drink 2016-2018.  Tasted October 2016   @karavitakiswine  @VictoryWine  @winesofcrete  @DrinkGreekWine

thym

Thymiopoulos Vineyards Young Vines Xinomavro 2013, Naoussa, Greece (466474, $17.95, WineAlign)

The Young Vines is an orange to the Earth and Sky’s apple, of a change of fruit and a pace that is hot off the press. Yet it is not without some ancient wisdom. In some new world sites vines up to 15 years of age would be considered old growth adults. In a Greek vineyard like that of a Naoussan like Thymiopoulos, they are babies of the sun. The Xinomavro here is fresh, momentarily acts strikingly brazen, bracing and ultimately, blatantly beatific. With a glass of the young vines in hand to it I say, “it’s not the pale moon that excites me, that thrills and delights me. Oh no, it’s just the nearness of you.” Like Norah Jones in a glass, sultry, contemporary, lightly smoky, of a jazz aesthetic and a pop sensibility. And wild berries. So fresh, so good. Drink 2015-2019.  Tasted May 2015

parker

Parker Coonawarra Series Cabernet Sauvignon 2013, Coonawarra, Limestone Coast, South Australia, Australia (467571, $19.95, WineAlign)

The Coonawarra Series cabernet sauvignon is predominantly sourced from the Williams family vineyard (like that of the chardonnay) in Southern Coonawarra. There can be no separating Terra Rossa soil from what happens with (especially) cabernet sauvignon anywhere in the Coonawarra. Very cool and savoury cabernet with tart cranberry, currant and black raspberry aromas. Really crunchy, chewy and gritty wine with focus and grip. Drink 2017-2020.  Tasted October 2016  @parkerwine  @CoonawarraWine  @Select_Wines  @Wine_Australia

catena

Catena Malbec 2014, Mendoza, Argentina (468066, 1500ml – $39.95, WineAlign)

High mountain vines bring more than altitude to Catena’s most commercially visible and successful malbec. In magnum format it accentuates the herbs and the dry, dusty qualities. In here there is sweetness but from tannin and extract. Acidity is the catalyst to make this sing a mountain hymn. Such proper winemaking brings rain. Love the format. Drink 2017-2020.  Tasted October 2016  @LauraCatena  @CatenaWines  @ArgentinaWineCA  @winesofarg  @Noble_Estates

gabbiano

Castello Di Gabbiano Chianti Classico Riserva 2013, Docg Tuscany, Italy (216309, $22.95, WineAlign)

First and foremost it is the wood, or the lack of wood that stands out in the CCR 2013. It may be observed as a different kind of wood, less polished and more natural but what really wins out is the fruit. The cherries are surfeited by impressed tannin and linger with good tonic for a good length of time. Great restraint shown by winemaker Federico Cerelli. Drink 2018-2024.  Tasted June 2016  @castgabbiano    

trimbach

Trimbach Riesling 2013, Ac Alsace, France (734517, $23.95, WineAlign)

What pray tell might you ask more than this from Alsace riesling? Could you, would you demand more immediate gratification? Might you request more purity and clarity of soil, rock and regional understanding? Is there a need to better define citrus and dry extract in any finer way? Trimbach has it down and few can pinpoint with fewer words and more direct impression. How things ought to be. A tight vintage though, so wait 18 months before embarking on chapter one. Imagine the Cuvée Frédéric Emile possibilities. Drink 2018-2023.  Tasted October 2016  @trimbach  @annetrimbach  @WoodmanWS  @AlsaceWines  @ACT_Alsace  @VinsAlsace  @drinkAlsace

hedges

Hedges C.M.S. Cabernet Sauvignon / Merlot / Syrah 2014, Columbia Valley, Washington (948992, $23.95, WineAlign)

Copacetic and well-amalgamated vintage here for the Hedges CMS, a wine of deep singer-songwriter meets jazzy flavour and sensible grip. Though there are bitters and a display of fine if sweet tannic structure, this CMS hits not over the head or below the belt. Just a few jabs and a loving embrace. A blackstar Columbia Valley blend that flies past, like “seven tracks in 40 minutes and it’s musically distinct.” In this way it reminds me of Ben Greenman’s New Yorker piece, “The Beautiful Meaninglessness of David Bowie.” Or it makes me think of Bowie as so many Hedges wines do. It’s not that this wine offers no clear meaning but it dishes ambiguity in ways only it can do. Like the late glam star, it “can’t give everything. Away.” Or, as Greenman concludes, “unless, of course, that isn’t what it means at all.” Drink 2017-2020.  Tasted October 2016  @hedgeswine  @Noble_Estates  @WINESofWA

csv

Cave Spring CSV Riesling 2014, Cave Spring Vineyard, VQA Beamsville Bench, Niagara Escarpment, Ontario (566026, $29.95, WineAlign)

The vintage brings a concentration and a compression and the most fruit imaginable for the Beamsville bench and the CSV. How this iconic riesling solicits immediate attention and fruit-juicy love is really something and hasn’t been seen in a few years. The citrus is all flesh and juice, the mineral aspect full of tang. Unction and viscosity define the texture and the palate. Drink early and enjoy the hell out of this forward CSV riesling. Drink 2016-2021.  Tasted October 2016  @CaveSpring  @TheVine_RobGroh

Back Nine

baker

Charles Baker Picone Vineyard Riesling 2013, VQA Vinemount Ridge, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario (241182, $35.20, WineAlign)

There was this intuitive moment with Picone 2013 as if it was waiting on me. Not doting or soliciting, but waiting. I will admit to have been wondering, reeling and speculating. To peer or peek into what Mark Picone’s Vinemount Ridge vineyard would adjudge and then bestow Charles Baker’s riesling in 2013? Would it be a case of weight, hyperbole, a hang in the balance out of misjudged necessity? Nah. Picone is no longer a mature 20 year-old vineyard but now a wise old thirty year-old one. Picone 2013 is in fact a fun park mirrored image of itself, with haughty, aerified aromas and variegated, leaning to tropical fruit flavours, taut like a flock in line with the vintage. The riesling berries just seem to have imploded and the results that have followed are nothing if not intense. Imagine a Yogyakarta market and a two-wheeled, glass-cased push cart stacked with a pyramid of tart mangoes. The fruit had been picked just as the sugars had begun to run like sap and bleed sticky on the cracking skin. A mango is sliced and doused with the intensity of Java lime juice and then sprinkled with Laut Jawa salt. The flavours are searing, sweetly saline and quenching. Only this tart is this, where tart and acidity meet, intertwine and connect on an emotional level. Picone 2013. The first non-inoculated riesling at first and then touched up near the end. “The best vintage you could ask for in riesling,” notes Baker, “cloud-covered, a meeting of the minds, vibrant.” The arid, cranky one will live without fret for 15 years. Drink 2018-2028.  Tasted twice, October 2016  @cbriesling  @StratusWines

moreau

Louis Moreau Chablis Vaulignot Premier Cru 2014, Burgundy, France (525386, $36.95, WineAlign)

Vaulignot was created in 1976, one of the last Premier Crus to gain such status within the association. Note that Moreau’s nomenclature is Vaulignot instead of Vau Ligneau, but the meaning is exactly the same. Really round and rich Chablis with a relative and realistic purity specific to place. This alights as a sun-drenched and lemon waxy chardonnay with enough (thank you very much 2014) tension to keep it rolling right along. What Vaulignot brings to the Chablis table is stick to your tongue, mouth and ribs persistence and vitamin water mineral enhancement. In a way it is caught in the Chablis netherland between up front gregariously fruity and strikingly mineral/acidity piercing. Great length in this vintage. Drink 2016-2020.  Tasted October 2016  @MoreauLouis1  @vinsdechablis  @purechablis  @BourgogneWines  @vinsdebourgogne

hb

Hidden Bench Terroir Caché Meritage 2012, VQA Beamsville Bench, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario (505610, $38.00, WineAlign)

I would not have thought it possible but the ’12 TC Meritage is open for business. The fruit is near-perfect for what these parts of the Beamsville Bench can offer and the normal gnashing is frozen as if suspended, which it likely is. In its current state it is all berries and dusty tannins, ripe, ripe acidity and plenty of outright happiness. A wisely structured Terroir Caché from Marlize Byers as only she could coax and extend. Drink now (not) or wait five years. Points in between may be confounding. Drink 2020-2030.  Tasted October 2016  @HiddenBench  @BenchVigneron  @MarkAnthonyON

coyote

Coyote’s Run Rare Vintage Pinot Noir 2013, VQA Four Mile Creek, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario (296863, $39.95, WineAlign)

A tart and robust vintage for the rare pinot noir, deeply ingrained into earth, sun and savour. This is distinctly varietal to Four Mile Creek with haute sapidity and exceptional length. The rusty accents inject piercing citric life into strawberry rhubarb pie. The tannins gnash their terrible teeth and the fruit hides for dear life. I’m not sure any Rare Vintage David Sheppard-ed pinot noir has ever delivered such mean structure. The next Niagara growing season should contribute to an ever more impressive showing because the fruit will almost certainly be up to the tyrannical task. Not to mention the coincidental crossroads 30th Sheppard vintage of making wines in Ontario. Meanwhile, from the cloudy, windy 2013 vintage his pinot noir will live long and prosper. Drink 2018-2025.  Tasted October 2016  @coyotesrun

pelham

Henry Of Pelham Cuvée Catharine Carte Blanche Blanc De Blanc 2011, Méthode Traditionelle, VQA Short Hills Bench, Niagara Escarpment, Ontario (315200, $44.95, WineAlign)

t’s always a highly anticipated taste when a vintage dated Cuvée Catherine is on the table sidled and promoted with the bar raised to epic heights from a striking chardonnay vintage like 2011. With acidity a given as the elephant in the room the formidably elegant Blanc de Blanc glides ethereally to press upon the olfactory nerve major and then grace the palate with fine mousse, citrus and biscuits. This is a benchmark for Ontario and Canada with only Benjamin Bridge’s B de B styled Gaspereau Valley gemstone sparkler in the same elite league. Enjoy this now and for 15-20 blissful, fizz-friendly years. Drink 2016-2032.  Tasted October 2016  @HenryofPelham  @SpeckBros

brolio

Barone Ricasoli Castello Di Brolio Chianti Classico Gran Selezione 2012, Docg Tuscany, Italy (942607, $59.95, WineAlign)

A Chianti Classcio first borne in 1997 with the plan to create a maximum quality blend as an expression of the estate’s diverse terroir. A meticulous selection is combed from the estate’s vineyards, spread over 230 hectares of land. Though early on the fruit may have emerged out of good but not yet exceptional vineyards, nearly 20 years later the sangiovese (90 per cent) with cabernet Sauvignon and merlot (or perhaps petit verdot) adheres to grand vin excellence. The wood regimen is 18 months in tonneau followed by 18 in bottle. Perhaps you will not find a more accomplished, perfectly judged, matter of factly expressed Gran Selezione. Sangiovese in equality of spicing with fruit, acidity and tannin, perfectly integrated toast, wood impact and textural drive. Stefano Capurso admits this about the transition from Chianti Classico to Gran Selezione.”It’s a matter of compromise between what is needed for the small producers and the need to express through crus for the large ones.” Drink 2018-2025.  Tasted May 2016  @barone_ricasoli  @imbibersreport  @chianticlassico

quintarelli

Quintarelli Primofiore 2012, Igt Veneto, Italy (20867, $66.95, WineAlign)

Only and distinctly Quintarelli, of that Negrar perfume and the kind of salumi cure no other producer can seem to procure. Though an infant and a baby to more mature vineyard selection Quintarelli adult bottlings, the Primofiore is full of exotics, of clove, cardamom, liquorice and meaty char. There is a sweetness to Quintarelli fruit and a remarkable resistance to astringency. This particular 2012 IGT is smooth and soothing. It is dangerously easy to consume. Drink 2017-2027. Tasted October 2016    @LiffordON

stag

Stags’ Leap The Leap Cabernet Sauvignon 2012, Napa Valley, California (142844, $89.95, WineAlign)

Signature cabernet sauvignon from Stag’s Leap from the first of the dry Napa vintages is dusty and high-toned to a high degree. Pure berry distillate and a savoury linger lead off and yet the closemindedness is still a youthful issue. There is a beautiful sense of florality behind the veil of aridity and big room tannin and yet the fruit is so very ethereal when it comes to tasting. Yes the dinging acidity and dastardly tannin will be a constant reminder of structure but without over compensation from the barrel the DJ Kylo driving beat will always be helpful. Gorgeous wine from Christophe Paubert. Put it in the time machine. I’ll take that leap in the dark. Drink 2019-2027.  Tasted October 2016  @stagsleapwines  @SLDistrict  

forman

Forman Cabernet Sauvignon 2012, Napa Valley, California (143925, $160.00, WineAlign)

Forman’s 2012 is a big, vibrant, robust and dusty expression, full of fruit, more fruit and nothing but fruit. Though the price is exceptional, the combined stylistic and level of honesty is formidably forman-ible. It is a rare opportunity and execution indeed when sweetness is culled from extract without the necessities of manipulated winemaking, oak usage included. The naked purity of this wine from an exceptionally dry, ripe and efficiently evolved vintage leads this cabernet sauvignon down a long, purposed and grandiloquent road. Drink 2018-2030.  Tasted October 2016  @rogcowines  @NapaVintners  

Good to go!

Twitter: @mgodello

Instagram: mgodello

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Earth and sky

apostolos-thymiopoulosvin-johnszabo-post-tastes-with-jaschabaraness-barquebutchers-xinomavro-naoussa-earthandsky-youngvines

Barque Butcher Bar, October 2015

earth-and-sky

Thymiopoulos Vineyards Yn Kai Oupavós Xinomavro 2013, Unfiltered, Naoussa, Greece (Agent, $31.00, WineAlign)

From a place with a mere 18 registered wineries and only five produce more than 50,000 bottles on any commercial scale. Most of the fruit is bought by the cooperative and many vines were ripped out in favour of cash crop plums and peaches. There are only 400 hectares under vine. Along comes Apostolos Thymiopoulos with his 2003 oenology degree and family xinomavro vines aged seven to 15 years on red granite slopes and only heavy soils in the valley below. His farming is organic and biodynamic with plans to be the first to achieve the Demeter certification. All his wines are estate except for the production of Xinomavro for Marks and Spencer – from 40 growers he has convinced to farm organically. The estate vineyards are located in two villages, Trilofos and Fytia. The blend of the two is Yn Kai Oupavós. The Earth and Sky separates itself, does relay new and “other” layers than the young vines. Whereas from quick stainless and painless you would say “who needs oxygen when you have young vines,” you now wish for a slow, micro-oxegynated development. The natural fermentation comes across to express xinomavro in its most natural way, in its natural habitat. Like looking a grape in the eye and it talks directly to you, revealing itself in ways that only it can, in this bottle. Still the tannins take over after a few minutes and convey a sense of future-documented purpose. Spent 18 months in 90 per cent French and 10 per cent Austrian barrels, 20 per cent new every year, used until the 5th fill. These are fully ripe tannins but from 30 days maceration they are elongated, stretched and oh so cherry chewy. In 2014 it was a difficult vintage so there will be a “declassified” generic Naoussa but in 2015 they will again produce single-vineyard wines. The crystal ball also shows some concrete eggs and large foudres. Apostolos has only just begun his long vinous journey into the heart of Naoussa. Drink 2017-2024. Tasted October 2015  @thymiopoulosvin  @VictoryWine  @NaoussaWine  @DrinkGreekWine

Related – Getting into Greece

Also available in VINTAGES November 12th, 2016

Thymiopoulos Vineyards Young Vines Xinomavro 2013, Naoussa, Greece (466474, $17.95, WineAlign)

The Young Vines is an orange to the Earth and Sky’s apple, of a change of fruit and a pace that is hot off the press. Yet it is not without some ancient wisdom. In some new world sites vines up to 15 years of age would be considered old growth adults. In a Greek vineyard like that of a Naoussan like Thymiopoulos, they are babies of the sun. The Xinomavro here is fresh, momentarily acts strikingly brazen, bracing and ultimately, blatantly beatific. With a glass of the young vines in hand to it I say, “it’s not the pale moon that excites me, that thrills and delights me. Oh no, it’s just the nearness of you.” Like Norah Jones in a glass, sultry, contemporary, lightly smoky, of a jazz aesthetic and a pop sensibility. And wild berries. So fresh, so good. Drink 2015-2019. Tasted May 2015

Good to go!

Twitter: @mgodello

Instagram: mgodello

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Getting into Greece

Thymiopoulos Young Vines Xinomavro 2013 and Yn Kai Oupavós 'Earth and Sky' Xinomavro 2012

Thymiopoulos Young Vines Xinomavro 2013 and Yn Kai Oupavós ‘Earth and Sky’ Xinomavro 2012

Tomorrow I fly to Greece. The Globe and Mail and most of the global media would have you believe that the country is gripped by fear and uncertainty. I’m going anyway. I would imagine the people of Greece understand your concerns but in the world of New Wines of Greece everything is business as usual and the country remains of the safest places to visit. It will be the most interesting of times, in life and in wine.

My Greek adventure will focus on the region of Achaia, in Patra, Diakofto and Kalavryta. I will visit with and taste the wines of Parparoussis, Kotrotsos, Loukatos, Achaia, Antonopoulos, Karelas, Hahalis, Union of Cooperatives of Patras, Aegialia, Oenoforos, Katsikostas, Cavino and Tetramythos.

A capital and paramount taste of Greece came to Toronto’s Sudbury-Glass Factory on May 5th. Fifty-one wineries were represented. The ingress to the New Wines of Greece was formidable and collectively the 150 plus wines spoke of a language that contains the ancient loneliness of ruins. They also spoke in presence of a present that looks with modern eyes to the future.

Related – A new Greek morning

Tomorrow I will head to Achaia, a part of the northern coast of the Peloponnese. The sweet red vin doux of Mavrodaphne, the Muscat of Patras and the lemon-saline whites of Roditis await. There will also be surprises I am not yet able to fathom.

In addition to a handful of exceptional wines tasted at the May event, on July 11th VINTAGES will be releasing two worthy adversaries to consider against a world of whites for the summer patio, cottage and all-around quenching season. Once you go Malagousia you may never go back.

Alpha Estate Axia Malagousia 2014, Pgi Florina, Greece (371666, $16.95, WineAlign) From the VINTAGES July 11th, 2015 release

Alpha Estate Axia Malagouzia 2014

Alpha Estate Axia Malagouzia 2014

A northwestern Greece, Amyndeon cuvée fashioned by winemaker Angelos Latridis, this Malagouzia resides on the metallic meets mineral spoke. The alloy is spoken in medium-bodied tones though it lengthens recursively to include bright, ripe orchard fruit. A solid, reputable and worthy venture into the world of new and varied varietal play, set to repeat. Drink 2015-2018.  Tasted June 2015  @EstateAlpha  @Eurovintage

Cavino

Cavino

Cavino Grande Reserve Nemea 2008, Pdo Greece (295618, $17.95, WineAlign)

Tasted once again, this time beside the $15 Nemea Reserve 2009, a wine that shows the subtle difference, namely the antiquity and rust that pronounces in the GR. If the fruit is cleaner and more direct in the Reserve, in the GR it is more like Schetos, black and strong. Try it at @BarqueButchers. Drink 2015-2018.
From my earlier note of April 2015:
St. George persists as a tremendous deal in Peloponnese red. Rustic charm and righteous liqueur fill the air from drift to waft. Prime Agiorgitiko acidity and fine-grained tannin. This will live for 7-10 years. Drink 2015-2018.

From my earlier note of November 2014:

Nemea strikes again. Dark rust, earth juiced on and of the . Like Sangiovese with attitude, made by Romans, like Syrah the way it was made in mythological times, by Greeks. A classical garden. This is actually quite modern and expressive for Agiorgitiko. Acts as if it were a touch clay (or amphora) baked but it’s really just a Peleponnese take on oak aging (18 months) and further bottle rest (12 months). This is right in its window and will be friendly for three to five years more. What a steal.

Last tasted May 2015

Thymiopoulos Vineyards Yn Kai Oupavós ‘Earth and Sky’ Xinomavro 2012, Unfiltered, Naoussa, Greece (371666, $19.95, WineAlign)

By my count this is Apostolos Thymiopoulos’ ninth vintage of the “Ghi kai Uranos,” a Xinomavro that while consummately Naoussan, could sketch out in seriatum somewhere between Cru Beaujolais and Barolo. The 2012 leans further to the side of the Nebbioli, but of a deep, dark and richly modern variety. More earth than sky, the ferric grit mixed with tar and roses symbiotically subsume one another. This intoxicating perfume goes right to the back of the aromatic and aneurusma eye. This wine has never shown so much body and wealth of layered flavour. Earth and sky, both, together meeting as if for the first time, love immediate, in whole accord, nodding and acknowledging the ten years of time needed to consummate their union. Drink 2017-2022.  Tasted May 2015  @thymiopoulosvin

Nicole Artopoulos of Victory wines and Spirits with Godello

Nicole Artopoulos of Victory wines and Spirits with Godello

Thymiopoulos Young Vines Xinomavro 2013, Naoussa, Greece (Agent, $20.00, WineAlign)

The Young Vines is an orange to the Earth and Sky’s apple, of a change of fruit and a pace that is hot off the press. Yet it is not without some ancient wisdom. In some new world sites vines up to 15 years of age would be considered old growth adults. In a Greek vineyard like that of a Naoussan like Thymiopoulos, they are babies of the sun. The Xinomavro here is fresh, momentarily acts strikingly brazen, bracing and ultimately, blatantly beatific. With a glass of the young vines in hand to it I say, “it’s not the pale moon that excites me, that thrills and delights me. Oh no, it’s just the nearness of you.” Like Norah Jones in a glass, sultry, contemporary, lightly smoky, of a jazz aesthetic and a pop sensibility. And wild berries. So fresh, so good. Drink 2015-2019.  Tasted May 2015

Domaine Gerovassiliou Malagousia Vieilles Vignes 2014, Thessaloniki, Greece (416792, $23.95, WineAlign) From the VINTAGES July 11th, 2015 release

Domaine Gerovassiliou Malagousia Vieilles Vignes 2014

Domaine Gerovassiliou Malagousia Vieilles Vignes 2014

Malagousia of a singular concentration and energizing as if by waters of Okeanos. Intensely, organically and historically purposed, of salinity that is perfectly mineral, but also fleshy and fruity, as if sourced from fresh water. Flavours are echoed in the guise of briny sea creatures and flinty eruptions coming together in a pool of ancient waters. Full open water rolling swells of unctuous palate depth, mineral to a titan degree and offering such a perfect foil for grilled seafood, dropped with pungent herbs and squeezes of citrus. Drink 2015-2020.  Tasted June 2015  @ktimagerovass  @KolonakiGroup  @DrinkGreekWine  @ShopGreekWine  @SteveKriaris

Peza Union Nissos

Peza Union Nissos Red 2013

Peza Union Nissos Red 2013, PGI Crete (Winery, No CDN price)

A fascinating red blend composed of Kotsifali (80 per cent) and Syrah (20) grown in south-central Crete. The thick-skinned variety Kotsifali releases resin and essential oils into the must and in the final product there is a keen sense of dark plums. It’s rich and dusty, not unlike Merlot but so much more island rustic Mediterranean, with attributes akin to the black olive, caper and garrigue aspects of southern France. The Syrah ensures this ratio and also helps to soothe the tannic grit. The Nissos also possesses a sense of coffee, but of a more natural crushed concoction, like chicory. Fine wine but certainly verdant, agrarian and countrified, though beautifully charming.  @winesofcrete

Gavalas

Gavalas

Gavalas Winery Assyrtiko Natural Ferment 2014, PDO Santorini, Greece (Winery, No CDN price)

A completely different animal in Assyrtiko, an edible that makes contact, by skin, with a nose that is entirely spontaneous and natal. The blanketing of perfunctory aromatics is startling, invigorating and comforting. In some ways it is a more dangerous Assyrtiko, as if it walks a razor’s edge and might bleed out its character at any moment. That tension and risk esteem is what drives the natural mechanism and renders it oxidative in just the right sort of way. So very pronounced in citrus, even at the expense of mineral until the finish. Its fullness and complexity allows acidity to survive and thrive. A wild one to be sure. Drink 2015-2020.  Tasted May 2015  @Santoriniwines

Santo Santorini Grand Reserve 2012

Santo Santorini Grand Reserve 2012

Santo Santorini Grand Reserve 2012, Pdo Santorini (Agent, Price Unknown)

Here Assyrtiko of an aroma never before nosed, like a bleed of fresh concrete, minerals under a computational microscope focused on the sense of smell. Like a wreath of dried white roses. This is an elixir of immortality, a nectar of gods and demigods. Already indicating the initialization of a slow-honeyed development, there will be 15 years in its quiescent and recessed future. This is the Greek equivalent of Bordeaux Blanc, a Grand Cru Classé in the guise of Santorini. Drink 2017-2027.  Tasted May 2015  @santo_wines  @KolonakiGroup

Biblia Chora

Biblia Chora

Biblia Chora Olivos White 2013, PGI Pangeon, Greece (Agent, Price unknown)

A remarkable and au courant 50/50 blend of Assyrtiko and Sémillon, like stumbling upon an undiscovered truth in assemblage. The wine spent nine months in oak, solidifying and hydrating the salinity. It certainly has an essence and a presence that reminds of OZ, of a Hunter Valley structure but the Olivos is so much more piercing, of citrus and mineral, due to the confidence and alpha variety élan of Assyrtiko. It’s also more direct and linear, of acidity and a double whammy of minerality. Salient brackish brine, chalky limestone like Burgundy and yet thinking, feeling, dreaming in Bordeaux. Just wow. Drink 2016-2022.  Tasted May 2015  @KolonakiGroup  @Wines_ofNorthGR

Good to go!

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Part Two: A 30 march of value reds

PHOTO: MONKEY BUSINESS/FOTOLIA.COM

as seen on canada.com

Today’s date may read April 5th, 2013 but as far as I’m concerned, it’s still March. Winter chill hovers like a suffocating raft over a simmering cauldron of consommé. We are the suds, the weather our nimbus and we can’t wait to rent our effervescent clothes, break free from the mackerel sky and walk into spring.

Related – More March wine reviews

The coming weeks worth of frosty nights and their refusal to hightail on out of here must then be quelled by belly warming, hearty meals shared in kind with big, bold red wines. Here is a 15-strong list available now and in a store near you.

From left: Domaine Les Yeuses Les Épices Syrah 2010, Calmel + J Joseph Faugères 2009, Château Gadet Terrefort 2010, Herdade Penedo Gordo Vinho Tinto 2010, and Otazu Premium Cuvée 2007

The French

Domaine Les Yeuses Les Épices Syrah 2010 (177584, $13.95) is a remarkable price for a Vin Pays d’Oc acting as a ringer for a Mark Kent (Boekenhoutskloof) Franschhoek meets the Northern Rhône. A dish of roasted pork belly, boar musk, lacquer, black olive and sun-baked earth would work. Good follow-up to the 2009 Septaguanarian of pork perambulations. Impossible balance for a pittance.  87

Château Agnel Cuvée Phillipe Minervois 2009 (309195, $15.95) is no pretender, this disciplined study in equilibrium. Blessed with a freestyle swimmer’s ability to master strokes in one varietal medley. More Grenache than Syrah, more Yannick than Michael. Exercises a learned rusticity, acts “old enough to face the dawn.” An angel of the morning bursting forth in floral scents and reaching out with a graceful length. Languedoc red as microcosmic study in an Olympian, southern French pool.  88  @FrontierWine

Calmel + J Joseph Faugères 2009 (310193, $16.95) conjures up full-on hedonism in roasted mutton, garrigue, black raspberry jus and a shot ‘o java. Full-bodied, mochafied richesse, juicy, easy to consume if  never to be seen again. All for $17.  89  @LanguedocWines

Château Gadet Terrefort 2010 (307231, $20.95) waltzes out in empeltre olive, plum sangria and creamy chocolate. Turns roast meaty in gritty tannin, struts great intensity for Médoc, like a “black-haired flamenco dancer,” de color rojo oscuro, not unlike modern Montsant. “Pass me a bottle, Mr. Jones.”  90  @ProfileWineGrp 

Château Senejac 2009 (193037, $28.85, 11350145, SAQ, $26.85) walks a rustic, oxygenated Bordeaux tightrope threatening to fray but an earth, tar tincture and Mediterranean sense of longevity keeps this Haut-Médoc wound tightly together. Olive, licorice and Sambucan spice infuse in smokey tones.  91

The Portuguese

Herdade Penedo Gordo Vinho Tinto 2010 (218339, $13.95) from Alentejo, Portugal is very modern, full of lush, dusty berry fruit and void of hard lines. Licorice tang, suet roasted meat built on local grapes (Alicante Bouschet, Touriga Nacional, Aragonez and Trincadeira). Refines the nature of its origins.  87  @winesportugalCA

Quinta Do Penedo 2009 (313676, $18.95) of Syrah-like sheen jonesing to purple sets out muted but after a swirl opens to black cherry bubble gum. Alfrocheiro and Touriga Nacional work effortlessly together to fashion a Dão whose “white clouds have turned it black.”  This one can come away with me anytime.  88  

The Spanish

Otazu Premium Cuvée 2007 (313809, $16.95, SAQ 11387298, $18.70) plays an intense, gritty Navarran riff full of earthy expletives. Addictive, salty, marinated olive, black cherry plethoric red that stops you in your tracks. Makes use of Tempranillo, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. Reminds me of the Hecula or the Manga del Brujo but is so much edgier, crazed, frantic. Wild stuff.  88  @bodegaotazu

Beronia Gran Reserva 2005 (940965, $32.95) has smoothed its cigar smoked extremities with vanilla cream. The sour cherry tang is a necessary advocate for balance and structure. This classic and classy Riojan is ready and willing to sit at the dinner table along side Chorizo, Jabali and stuffed Piquillos.  89  @WoodmanWines

The Argentines

La Puerta Reserva Bonarda 2009 (67801, $18.95) is a serious, brooding, dark and mysterious gem from  Famatina Valley in the north-west of the Province of La Rioja. Red stone fruit, vanilla bean and an Andean rock face of tannin. Once you go cool-climate, altitudinous Argentinian Bonarda, you may never go back to Malbec.  88  @LaPuertaWines

Versado Malbec 2010 (317008, $24.95) takes on Argentina by way of Southbrook (Ontario) and Sperling Family Vineyards (British Columbia) in the estimable hands of winemaker Ann Sperling. Husband and oeno-guru Peter Gamble joins forces to beeline straight for Luján de Cuyo typicity in deep cherry, pitching to black, solder spice and herbs smoldering in oak.  Cool and minting in its alveolate void. Interesting to say the least.  88  @VersadoWine

Versado Reserva Malbec 2009 (316984, $59.95) seems to travel a Hobbsian path laid out like Cobos cobblestone. At nearly two and a half times the cost of the Versado normale you might expect a revelation and you get one or two, if you allow your senses to drift out-of-body, into a lead crystal, Malbec state of consciousness. Tons of charcoal clouding the infundibular annals of the wine. Emerges as a scherzo in velvety tones, texture and structure.  90  @ArgentinaWineCA

The Californians

Langtry Guenoc Petite Sirah 2011 (19935, $17.95) is a more than commendable example out of the less than glamorous Lake County. At only 13% abv, the Langtry is modest and shy by PS standards, heavenly scented by blueberry, white chocolate and eucalyptus. California PS can be formidable stuff but here “I got a California rainbow to come give them thunder clouds a rest.”  87  @LangtryGuenoc

Highway 12 Highwayman 2010 (319186, $27.95) is a proprietary blend of Cabernet Franc (50%), Cabernet Sauvignon (30%) and Merlot (20%) from Sonoman Michael Sebastiani. Present but not overbearing 14.3% alcohol, decadent despite its roots but tempered by good chocolate, olives and herbs. The kind of brambly, inky blend you might swear had some Zinfandel or Syrah in the mix but straight Bordeaux it is. A whack of wine for $28 originally released down south at $42.  90  @highway12winery

The Australian

Dandelion Vineyards Lion’s Tooth of McLaren Vale Shiraz/Riesling 2010 (311233, $19.95) is not a typo or a joke. Riesling does round out this McLaren Vale Shiraz, not Viognier. Only an Aussie would take this risk and help me Rhonda if it doesn’t work. “I can give you lots a reasons why” this works and number one is balance. The dash of white kicks the red into gear – it may be a strange sensation for which there is no prior frame of reference, but boy if it don’t put me on a beach.  88  @mrkcstr

Good to go!