This week Vintages highlights Australia and the wealth of wine coming from Down Under.
While it was the iconic juicy and powerful Shiraz of Barossa that really shot Oz to fame on this side of the world, there’s so much more to the winemaking country than just the plump red wine. Indeed, hilly Eden Valley produces exceptional Riesling, cooler Coonawara makes some fabulous Cabernet Sauvignon and McLaren Vale is producing interesting varietals like Tempranillo and Grenache. We’ve also recommended a spectacular traditional method sparkling coming from Tasmania – a cool climate island with a climate similar to Ontario.
Speaking of Ontario, we’ve included a good handful of local recommendations below along with a sprinkling of wines from around the world.
Katnook Cabernet Sauvignon, Coonawara, South Australia 2012
$29.95 Vintages 590471
Bright, fresh and streamlined with juicy red and black fruit lifted by rosemary and menthol notes and a crushed peppercorn finish. 91 points.
Two Hands “Fields of Joy” Shiraz, Clare Valley, South Australia 2013
$28.95 Vintages 432963
Raspberry jam and black pepper make up this juicy, easy going red in the style that made Australia famous over here. A very inviting crowd pleaser. 89 points.
D’Arenberg “The Custodian” Grenache, McLaren Vale, South Australia 2012
$19.95 Vintages 713040
Masculine and richly textured with firm tannins and sweet oak spice, flavours of red cherry, raspberry and black pepper dominate. There’s a whopping 14.6% alcohol here, which shows the slightly hot finish. 88 points.
Josef Chromy Sparkling, Tasmania 2010
$29.95 Vintages 393629
A equal blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir in this traditional method bubbly, which is generous and fleshy with with ripe peach, yellow apple and lemon curd flavours. Full bodied and flavourful, this is a joy to drink. 90 points.
Huff Estates “Cuvée Peter F. Huff” Sparkling, VQA Prince Edward County, ON 2010
$40 Vintages 198754
Always a top rated sparkler coming out of Prince Edward County, this is dry and mineral-driven with aromas and flavours of flint, wild flowers, toasted brioche, fresh lemon and green apple. Soft mousse and focused acid make for an elegantly bright and complex fizz. 89 points.
Le Clos Jordanne “Claystone Terrace” Chardonnay, VQA Twenty Mile Bench, Niagara Peninsula, ON 2012
$40 Vintages 56929
Aromas of flint, light apple/pear and toasted cereal notes give way to a rich and creamy palate with flavours of juicy tree fruit, caramel and a nice flinty streak. 89 points.
See Ya Later Ranch Pinot Gris, VQA Okanagan Valley, BC 2014
$17.95 Vintages 263699
See Ya Later Ranch is named for the cheeky story of how the original owner discovered his new bride wife had left him in 1919 – with a note left in the frying pan reading, “See ya later.” For the rest of his life he signed all his correspondence by the same exacting farewell. (See Erin’s write up on SYL Ranch here). Pinot Gris is a top performer in the winery’s profile – and this shows classic notes of white peach, floral and a subtle smokey/flinty note with a tangy grapefruit finish. Oily and rich in mouthfeel, try this with fried crab cakes, pad Thai or chicken tikka. 88 points.
Flat Rock Cellars “Unplugged” Chardonnay, VQA Twenty Mile Bench, Niagara Peninsula, ON 2014
$16.95 Vintages 68015
Bright and focused with green apple, lemon/lime and flinty mineral. Zippy acidity makes this a great aperitif or the perfect partner to fresh oysters, grilled white fish or spaghetti with clams. 88 points.
Creekside Estate “Marianne Hill” Riesling, VQA Beamsville Bench, Niagara Peninsula, ON 2014
$19.95 Vintages 443572
Lively with lemon, grapefruit and tangy freshness on the palate with just enough ripe peach sweetness to plump out the palate. 89 points.
Henry of Pelham Reserve Baco Noir, VQA Ontario 2013
$24.95 Vintages 461699
Lots of depth here with juicy blackberry, mocha and smoke with a bit of black pepper spice. Soft, plush and plump, this is a good option for beef stew by the fire. 89 points.
Trimbach Réserve Pinot Gris, Alsace 2012
$23.95 Vintages 971762
Gently off dry with fresh, easy drinking appeal. Flavours and aromas of peach, apricot and white flowers. We can see this on the deck with grilled spicy prawns. 88 points.
Béjot “Les Bouchots” Montagny 1er Cru, Burgundy, France 2013
$27.95 Vintages 438002
Tangy with yellow grapefruit, green apple and lemon flavours. Good focus with bright acidity and nice weight. 88 points.
Delas Saint-Esprit Côtes du Rhône 2012
$16.95 Vintages 729962
Tart red currant and cherry mix with black pepper and cedar spice on this plump, juicy and easy drinking CDR. Great approachability for BBQ ribs and burgers. 88 points.
Raymond Usseglio Cuvée Impériale Châteauneuf du Pape, Rhône 2012
$57.95 Vintages 22319
Dusty dark fruits, leather, black pepper spice and licorice aromas swirl on the nose, while the plush palate features concentrated flavours of toasty blackberry, cassis and vague earthy notes. Medium bodied with fine-firm tannin, this is both powerful and elegant and can easily go another 10 years. 90 points.
Michele Chiarlo “Le Orme” Barbera d’Asti Superiore, Piedmont 2013
$16.95 Vintages 265413
Chiarlo is one of our favourite Piedmont producers for easy drinking, weekday wines that still show care and complexity – and don’t break the bank (see out thoughts on the recently released Gavi here). This shows a tart red cherry centre surrounded by macerated black cherry, blackberry and dark chocolate with a bitter cranberry finish. Pair with bacon cheese burgers, mushroom risotto or grilled sausage and peppers. 88 points.
Abbadia Ardenga Brunello di Montalcino, Tuscany 2010
$49.95 Vintages 672337
Elegant and refined, this shows inviting aromas and flavours of juicy red raspberry, violet, fresh earth and toasted spice. Terrific depth and concentration. Fine-firm tannin and bright acid. This could go til 2025 without a problem, or enjoy tonight with braised oxtail, roast game birds or seared duck breast. 90 points.
Waimea Pinot Gris, Nelson, South Island 2012
$18.95 Vintages 408682
Crunchy white fruits, peach, floral, honeycrisp apple and a touch of lychee round out the flavours and aromas of this intriguingly ripe and fresh Pinot Gris – a varietal which is quickly becoming our favourite offering from NZ. The supple weight offers a bit of seriousness to this flavourful quaffer which would be a nice pairing for onion tart, baked ham or mild seafood curry.
Muriel Gran Reserva, Rioja 2005
$28.95 Vintages 984187
At 11 years old this is still fabulously fresh and vibrant, though some seductive earthy notes are showing through – which only adds to the class of this imminently drinkable wine. The nose shows black licorice, black berry and sweet oak notes of caramel and mocha while the palate has real elegance and grace with great depth, fine-firm tannin and a balanced, bright acidity. A joy to drink. 91 points.