Only four wines from Niagara are being released at Vintages this Saturday so we’re going a little farther afield to Prince Edward County and Burgundy (with a Niagara connection) for some LCBO recommendations this week.
While the release is relatively small, the choices available are excellent from the flagship Bordeaux-style blend from Chateau des Charmes, made only in the best vintages, to a personable Chardonnay from the County, a Burgundian white made by Niagara’s Thomas Bachelder and a fun, appassimento-style wine from Reif Estate called the Magician.
Here’s what to look for on Saturday at Vintages stores.
Rosehall Run Chardonnay Cuvee County 2010 ($22, 89 points) — The fruit for the Cuvee County is sourced from Hillier clay limestone vineyards in Prince Edward County. Aging in oak is for 14 months mostly in 500-litre puncheons, a third of which is new. This is a Chard that offers immediate pleasure with a ripe nose of apple, pear, vanilla, nutmeg and oak-inspired spices that are quite attractive from the get-go. The expressive, ripe fruit on the palate is fleshy but not flabby with apple-pear flavours and flinty minerality running through the core. A lovely Chard that’s drinking perfectly right now.
Chateau des Charmes Equuleus Paul Bosc Estate Vineyard 2010 ($40, 93 points) — I first tasted the components (50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Cabernet Franc and 25% Merlot) for this winery’s flagship red blend in May of 2011. It had all the hallmarks of a beautiful thing way back then. Now that it’s bottled, and has a bit of bottle age, its true beauty is beginning to emerge. To rise to Equuleus status (it’s only made in the best vintages), each of the three grape varieties must achieve at least 23.5º Brix at harvest. It’s aged for one year in French Tronçais and Allier oak barrels. The nose shows layers of complex fruit and spice. Think kirsch, cassis, black and red currants, alluring cocoa and lavish spice. It’s dense and rich on the palate and built on a pillar of firm tannins. The smoky wood spices are joined by cassis, blackberry, cherry, earth, bramble and fine dark chocolate that is mouth-coating and caressing. All that goodness still needs time to fully evolve. Wait for it, it will pay big dividends.
Reif Estate Magician Pinot Noir Shiraz 2011 ($30, 88 points) — A unique (probably safe to say the only one in the world) blend of kiln-dried Pinot Noir (60%) and Shiraz (40%) with 30% of the Shiraz and 20% of the Pinot dried to give the wine complexity and concentration. The nose is expressive with highly extracted plums, currants, blackberry, kirsch, sweet minty herbs and pepper spices with a subtle note of cocoa powder. It’s velvety smooth on the palate with ripe red fruits, red licorice, bramble, wild herbs, pepper and sweet oak spices.
Bachelder Bourgogne Chardonnay 2010 ($30, 90 points) — Lovely subtleties in this Chardonnay from Burgundy with cream, mineral, beeswax, citrus and apple fruit aromas. It is nicely integrated already with classic mineral, smoke, flint and fine fruit on the palate that presents itself in a clean, textured style. This is part of the three-region project by Niagara winemaker Thomas Bachelder that includes Chardonnays and Pinots from Niagara, Oregon and Burgundy.
Some other Ontario wines released but not reviewed:
• Greenlane Estate Riesling 2011 ($16)
• Huff Estates South Bay Chardonnay 2009 ($30)
• Viewpointe Estate Auxerrois 2011 ($15)
• Fielding Estate Cabernet Franc 2011 ($22)
• Norman Hardie County Unfiltered Pinot Noir 2011 ($35)