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Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Tasting: New Wines in February 2010

1. Chateau des Charmes Riesling 2008 VQA Niagara-on-the-Lake, $12.45,
+61499 LCBO: done up in stainless, slight and light citrus tones, but
refreshing length. Good bones and flesh, dry style but also useful as a
sipper. 12.5% ABV.
2. Chateau des Charmes Riesling Late Harvest 2007 VQA Niagara-on-the-
Lake, $21.95 per 375 mL bottle, +432930 Vintages: about 1600 cases
made. A perpetual award winner (Ontario Wine Awards 2009 Gold). Expect
peaches, apples, some orange marmalade, and later some apricots kick
in. Great Riesling character, off-sweet. The winery suggests pairing it
with any kind of chocolate. 10.5% ABV.
3. Chateau des Charmes Cabernet Franc 2007 VQA Niagara-on-the-Lake,
$13.95, +277236 LCBO (new listing): done in a warm vintage, just
crawling with over the top concentrated black fruit (blackberries,
black currants, black cherries) but not sweet. Nine months in all
French oak, crackling smoke and toast throughout. Nifty, and a steal at
the price. 13% ABV.
4. Southbrook Poetica Chardonnay 2007 VQA Niagara-on-the-Lake, $50
retail, $40.61 licensee: the highest level at Southbrook (premium
reserve wines), taken from seven of their best barrels (60% new Vosges
and 40% used French barrels), aged for 19 months. Toasty butterscotch,
tastes more expensive than it is, rich, full and lush finish with a
memory. An excellent wine for BYOW by diners, or a licensee can
certainly sell it at a $20 markup and still make a profit.
5. Skouras St. George 2007 Nemea Greece, +162321, $16.95 Vintages on
April 3: from Agiorgitiko grapes, made in new clean style for appeal to
non-Greeks. 13.5% ABV. Delicious mocha tones with a juicy finish. 150
cases. Terrific pairing with a lamb-topped pizza with squash and potato
pie (with mint and sheep's cheese).
6. 2008 Muscat of Limnos Greece, +61119, $11.95 Vintages on April 17:
very much like Zibibbo and Muscat de Beaumes de Venise, at about 15%
ABV. Expect orange, caramel, baked apple, raisins. Paired against a
lemon tart made with Red Fife wheat flour. Terrific value, won't hang
around the LCBO long at this price. Snap it up. 250 cases.
7. Kir Yianni Paranga 2008 Naoussa Greece, +62596, $13.95 Vintages on
May 1: 13.1% ABV, from Macedonian Xinomavro grapes, with some syrah and
merlot similar to a light pinot noir (shades of recent French Languedoc
scandal!!). Raspberries and light cherries dominate, and did well
against a lamb topped-pizza with squash and potato pie (with mint and
sheep's cheese). Last vintage available in Ontario was 2005. 200 cases.
8. Sigalas Santorini 2008 Greece, +74781, $22.95 Vintages on May 1:
14.2% ABV. 2009 Gold Medalist. Needs time to breathe, paired with an
"herb jam" with wild herbs, and roasted five-hour eggs. Excellent
matching, I thought, especially with some tangerine notes and
minerality. Could be cellared. Last vintage available in Ontario was
2006. 150 cases.
9. Charles Baker Riesling 2008 Picone Vineyard VQA Vinemount Ridge:
made at Stratus, this is by now the premier Riesling in Ontario. Fruit
has always been sourced from four acres on Chef Marc Picone's farm,
being 25-year old vines. This is the fourth vintage, $35 a bottle, with
(as Baker says) "just enough cases produced". Baker's vision is to
harmonize minerality, acidity and sweetness into balance. Expect a
delightful raciness, augmented by the green apple-lime complex of
flavours, great finishing tones. It is evocative of the best "sweet and
sour". A keeper, should get better with the acid and the sugar to keep
it all structurally alive through 2020. I promise to be here for that!

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