Beaujolais Nouveau: your new BF wines

People attend the official launch of the 2012 Beaujolais Nouveau wine in the centre of Lyon early November 15, 2012 (photograph by Robert Pratta, Reuters).

The annual Beaujolais Nouveau release occurs on the third Thursday of November. Yesterday. Don’t panic, the Novello have yet to sell out. What began as a Euro tradition side by side with the more serious, Burgundian Paulée now includes the gleaning of Ontario fruitage. Wine rushed from the presses in premature excitement.

To some, the BN represents a window to the current vintage’s future, to others a curiosity show. Then there is the notion that the young wines are a feminine proposition, not unlike Rosé. While not exactly a girl’s best friend, a boyfriend or any other bf for that matter, they do represent a barely fermented rite of passage.

I tasted through 10 BN’s at the LCBO lab yesterday afternoon. France was afflicted with a calamitous 2012 for grape growing so expectations were low for the Nouveau. Conversely, Ontario was blessed with a hot, arid and promising vintage. Italy may have fared best. So which wines reign supreme in 2012?

One sample smelled like a gym locker. Another like sheep waste. One made me imagine candy laced with gasoline. Keep that one away from the children. These three samples nearly made me cry sweet tears of joy. Made me smile.

Photograph by Wayne Cuddington, Ottawa Citizen

Catalans Primeur Syrah Merlot 2012 (220533, $9.95) goes to extreme purple lengths to please. The Merlot shuns green notes and instead adds a balancing, candied quotient. Dry, herbaceous and savoury befitting its Roussillon roots. Fun for $10.  86

Negrar Novello Del Veneto 2012 (899955, $9.95) sports a slight reductive and waxy Rosé-like nose but this I can handle. Citrus and pepper reminiscent of a Syrah/Viognier dichotomy meets pressed apple and grape. Very quaffable Novello.  87

Joseph Drouhin Beaujolais Villages Nouveau 2012 (113266, $14.95) is the most serious of the lot, even if it doesn’t have to be. Richer extraction, fruit fortitude and revelatory acidity. I do note a hint of merde but also mineral and elemental satisfaction. Mission accomplished.  88

Good to go!

Five wines under $15 to seek out on September 15th

Photograph by Delphimages, Fotolia.com

Photograph by Delphimages, Fotolia.com

as seen on canada.com

When it comes to wine advice, the $64,000 question is “can you recommend some value wines?” I’m always happy to abide but how much do you want to spend? The typical response goes something like “I’m hoping to keep it at under $15 a bottle, without sacrificing quality, for those in the know. Is this a pipe dream?”

Related – The 2012 wine harvest and six current Ontario releases

It is very possible. The search for affordable, quality wines found recent gold in the New World group of progressive wine-making nations. The A-list includes Argentina, Chile, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand. It now seems the pendulum of frissonic retribution and excitement is switching back to the Old World. The wine-producing regions of Loire (France), Veneto (Italy), Sicily (Italy), Dão (Portugal) and Mencía (Spain) are certainly no Burgundy, Tuscany, Piedmont, Douro and Rioja. No matter. For my $15, these are the “new” lands I would look to first.

The grape: Sauvignon Blanc

The history: Sancerre of the Loire Valley, Marlborough of New Zealand and Bordeaux. The SB market oligopoly resides in these locales

The lowdown: Touraine rides inexplicably invisible on the global Sauvignon Blanc radar. Prices remain sneakily low as a result

The food match: Green, purple and yellow beans sautéed with garlic and good olive oil

Domaine Jacky Marteau Sauvignon Touraine 2011 (745349, $12.95) causes me to react with a start and murmur “this i have nosed before.” That therapeutic aroma would be Sancerre and this a tributary of an SB from a vineyard high above the offshoot Cher River. A Touraine to traverse switchback and likewise advise your visceral mind to drink without the least bit of hesitation. Purple moor scraggly grass, warm legumes, zippy solder. Strength in value.  87

The grape: Garganega

The history: Utilitarian and humble varietal from Italy’s Veneto region

The lowdown: Inexpensive Soave has improved in leaps and bounds. Case in point this excellent example under $15

The food match: Crispy-Skin Roast Turkey with cornbread stuffing

Adalia Singat Soave 2011 (289603, $13.95) offers more than a paucity of affirmative evidence for the discovery of quality Garganega under $15. Clean lemon, toasty wax and plaster aromas. Temerity of acidity for a common Soave. No umbrage but rather bud palate restorative on the smooth finish.  87

The grape: Nero D’avola

The history: Most planted red varietal of Sicily

The lowdown: The skins of pressed ND’a is deeply hued like Syrah and handled similarly in fashion.

The food match: Spaghetti with a Holy Trinity Meat Sauce of beef, pork and veal

Morgante Nero D’avola 2010 (40816, $14.95) burnishes purple to black in sheen, perfume and vim. Like incandescent charcoal.  Welling hematoma of Aussie licorice, baking spices and lingonberry. Maxes out Nero D’avola’s ability to defend itself against all food comers. Even pancakes and pigs in a blanket.  It should be noted that a second sample was corked.  90

The grapes: Touriga Nacional, Alfrocheiro, Tinta Roriz, Tinta Pinheiro and Jaen

The history: The emergence of Portugal’s Dão is upon us. Philosophy intent on oak forsaken for vineyard driven, honest wine

The lowdown: Cooperative produced kitchen sink blend aged for 12 Months in Steel Vats and in Cement-Coated Epoxy

The food match: Osh Savo, a Bukharan braise of beef, potato, lentils and dried fruit

Encostas De Penalva 2009 (293423, $14.95) is downright Joycean in unusual intelligence, sensitivity and character for a blend from a Portuguese cooperative. Soft perhaps, but nary a bitter deterrent mars this cup of crushed raspberries. A young artist’s deep portrait of Dão colour, forged of surreal fleshy extraction, verbose and flamboyant.  90

The grape: Mencía

The history: Indigenous red variety of Northwestern Spain that was once thought to be a cousin of Cabernet Franc

The lowdown: Bodegas Peique is your value maker out of Bierzo. They’ll be making this by the 100, 000’s before you can say “dios mios

The food match: Smoked Beef Brisket, bbq beef gravy

Peique Tinto Mencía 2010 (219204, $14.95) vanquishes hardship for violet pleasure. Sublunary stones rolling through subterranean tar beds of caramelizing sugars. Roses and red berry fruit rise from the burn.  88

Good to go!

Eight Under $28 From The April 28th VINTAGES Release

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

April 24, 2012

VINTAGES

http://blogs.canada.com/2012/04/24/eight-under-28-from-the-april-28th-vintages-release/

 

Vinea Garganega 2010 (230656, $13.95) sugars great Veronese IVR* promise out of the Veneto. Hyperglycemic green-eyed lady bass line and Hammond organ finger roll plum and honey-dew in a state of barm loaf. Glycerin of Amaretto and snappy Salak. Sour apple martini with candy swizzle stick, “soothing every wave that comes.”  88

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Canonica a Cerreto Chianti Classico Reserva 2007 (275867, $17.00) was surely not decanted from a straw flask into this sleek and marketable bottle. A precocious and gregarious ruffle of polish and cask modernity speak of the Cerreto’s new worldliness. Splashes of Cabernet and Merlot lean IGT and yet just enough Chianti brightness remains to keep it honest.  Scales (“never heard of him“) on the label are indicative of this balanced effort. Easy money.  88

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hogue Genesis Syrah 2009 (687822, $19.95) is a steadfast and decent wine so my exegesis begins at its central core. Black colour of a world still unformed. Heady like a stand of old growth forest; black oak, ash and walnut. B’reishit Washington Syrah where the bifurcation of quality and cost collide. Big wall of Syrah sound, perfect for headphones playing “no need to hide. Keep it dark.”  88

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vincent Girardin Vieilles Vignes MâconFuissé 2009 (264515, $19.95) the vibrant fresh maker, with crisp, apple taut fragrance and void of oak annoyance. Just a touch of baby fat and some mineral too. Well-balanced for under $20. Girardin’s (940825, $39) Santenay on this release is not to be missed.  88

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Arnoux & Fils Vacqueyras 2009 (264663, $19.95) is as modern as it gets for the appellation, right down to “The Vac” label. Sweet Kirsch, lifted raspberry jam, soft, fleshy and forward. Has just enough funk to keep it real. Will have broad appeal and represents excellent Dogg value, if you like the plush style. Betcha Snoop drinks it.   89

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Leasingham Winemakers Selection Bin 61 Shiraz 2008 (448241, $24.95) the Kitty of Clare Valley is back in town. A loyal and trusted friend, reminiscent of the ’99. Burns no rubber and “goes runnin’ nightly, lightly through the jungle.” Less power, more strength. Less jam, more brakes. This Highway 61 should not be accused of having put its “bleachers out in the sun.”  90

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Saltram of Mamre Brook Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 (48579, $24.95) may inexplicably enjoy cult status but for the money no other Barossa Cabernet can demand such respect. I would pay $25 for this over almost any $50+ peer within the appellation. Opulent, ruddy, bursting, pickled berries.  88

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Isole E Olena Chainti Classico 2008 (704346, $26.95) the beguiler welcomes with cinnamon, cherry spice and award winning roses. Poised, confident, simply phenomenal CC issue. Delicious now and will be perfect in five.  Better than when tasted in November 2011.  91

TN from Nov. 29, 2011,“…a mouthful of black fruit, bourbon cask aromas, dark and stormy. The barque of a ship’s ocean misted, wooden planks and of a smoked beef rib. Hard lines but hard to resist. Bloody good CC but certainly not traditional.  89

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Other Wines Tasted

Two Rivers of Marlborough Convergence Sauvignon Blanc 2011 (277707, $29.95) carries heavy alcohol bandwidth, tomato leaf pesto and band-aid across a frame of sweet lime concentrate. Hot for SB, over processed and heavy with silicone and collagen. Their will be superficial fans.  86

Chavet & Fils La Dame De Jacques Coeur Menetou-Salon Blanc 2010 (525048, $19.95) offers a rare VINTAGES sighting and would excite were it more Loire and less Marlborough. Salmagundi of pâté, gooseberry and kiwi, swathed by an alkaline grapefruit finish.  85

Torres Viña Esmerelda 2010 (113696, $13.95) zests halitious of ReaLemon and petroleum wax. Can’t help but hear the “smell of wine and cheap perfume” lyric played by a wedding band while the cast of Jersey Shore watch their drapery clad mothers put back the Esmeralda. Like Torrontoes with bad make-up. Won’t be tagging along on this Moscatel journey.  80

Colchester Ridge Crew Meritage 2007 (280990, $19.95) noses Ontario from the get go with burning campfire then wafts exotic towards Masala spice, brown derby dressing and horseradish root. Flavour of earth demi-glace, composted apple and black licorice.  84

Frei Brothers Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 (38075, $23.95) the “melody softly soaring through my atmosphere” is cute, sweet, lyrical and precocious. Gallo incarnate in the AlexanderValley. A death Cab for some but what’s not to like?  87

Stag’s Leap Winery Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 (996405, $49.95) the model of consistency vintage to vintage and head to foot. Runs black cherry in its veins with nary a cut, scrape or bruise. Napa varietal profiling in its poised, beating heart.  89

Andrew Rich Cuvée B Pinot Noir 2008 (127043, $29.95) carries currant, candied pomegranate and the rocky crush of clove studded juniper berry. Well made, on the elegant side of Pinot life, even Burgundian if that can even be articulated.  88

Mendel Malbec 2009 (108225, $24.95) typifies Mendoza replete with old vines fruit adding canorous body. Infundibular midriff slows the smouldering, swelling berry pleasure. Crucial minerals carry red grape fluid away from the viscera and out of the body.  87

Susana Balbo Signature Malbec 2009 (79798, $21.95) at the outset teases TCA, then VA. Paulliac nez of tabac et peau danimaux. That and a whack of new French Oak where vanilla, chocolate and coffee lambaste and pummel the senses.  NR

Majella Shiraz 2008 (269308, $29.95) is a vitrified, mined vine of depth and power but short on finesse. Heavy extract with a touch of soap and mired in the details of oak. “The wheels are spinning but the car, neutral.”  86

Esprit de Pavie 2008 (244020, $32.95) shows good spirit as it amalgamates 2nd wine fruit from iconic Pavie, Monbousquet, Clos L’eglise and St. Columbe. Spiced coffee cake and soft yet pretty purple fruit. Obdurate push back indicates three years of cellaring will help. Would have been a CVR** steal at $20-25.  89

Brancaia Tre 2009 (164715, $22.95) the SGM speaks of identity theft and lack of spirit. Once upon a Tuscan, now a global commodity playing on MOR radio stations. This bottling recently rushed to great success but there is now “a question of your honesty, yeah your honesty.” Sure it’s delicious but what’s with “all this machinery making modern music?”  Pair not with pasta asciuta normale87

StefanoAccordini Acinatico Ripasso Valpolicella Classico Superiore 2009 (85159, $19.95) is pitchy for a valpo with splendiferous up front fruit. Cimmerian red plum joined by buff vanillan cocoa and velveteen in the mouth. So far so good but ultimately flaccid and void of oomph.  86

Allende 2006 (954560, $24.95) in extant cantillates oak, oak, oak. What happened to my Rioja? Tempered Tempranillo so no fear that it may seize. Pendulous and potent, well-mannered, ready to please. Go Condado de Haza over this for sure.  87

Perrin Réserve Rosé 2011 (719062, $15.95) is warm and balanced, all strawberry, all the time. Nutty for its ilk.  86

 

 

IVR* – Vintage Direct Intrigue-to-Value Ratio

CVR* – Vintage Direct Curiosity-to-Value Ratio

 

 

Good to go!

 

Academy Awards Wines

 

Oscar Night

February 26, 2012

 

The Oscars. Ritual television rivaled only by the Super Bowl. The AA’s speak to a wine crowd while the SB leans Wings and Beer fest. Here some recent tastings from VINTAGES to help transition from cliché opening number through three hours of pomp and pride.

 

 

ALOIS LAGEDER BENEFIZIUM PORER PINOT GRIGIO 2008 (231274, $16.75) dumbs down in a most descendant,  positive way and explains why one wine is an open book and another a deep well. PG so often a Limp Biscuit, insipid, pale, lifeless. This more of an every day Sexsmith crooning Costello, writing the book. From Alto Adige and punched up, acting more like Gris, or even Kabinett from a closer neighbour across the Alps. Watercolour of pomade and propellant. Wheat grassy, honey nut, marzipan cheery. Some evolution on it, as if almost oxidized Chardonnay but fresh still. On the card at Barque  88

ALOIS LAGEDER BENEFIZIUM PORER PINOT GRIGIO 2008
  

TOMASSI RIPASSO VALPOLICELLA CLASSICO SUPERIORE 2009 (9014304, $19.95) is Tony Calabria’s tipple of choice for Oscar night. Sibilated sweet, reductive treacle and red licorice Lola in a bottle. Kinky, tangy and tasty like cherry cola, “C.O.L.A. Cola.” Will flatter the best available Pizza on Award’s night, like the one at Mama’s at Yorkdale, circa 1978. “This is this.”  87

TOMASSI RIPASSO VALPOLICELLA CLASSICO SUPERIORE 2009

NOTTOLA VINO NOBILE DI MONTEPULCIANO 2006 (184960, $15.95) seeps searing Sangiovese, Earl Grey Tea at the seams so drink up. A whiff of Brett huffs and puffs but the artist‘s house is all Siena brick and no straw. A sophisticated palate tears the roof of the sucker so this VNM Gives Up The Funk. Calcium Carbonate, cherry, licorice and umbrella pine dominate the wafts from this actualized, mellow member of the noble Tuscan wine parliament89

 NOTTOLA VINO NOBILE DI MONTEPULCIANO 2006

 

 

 

Good to go!