With the showcase theme for the May 26th Vintages release being "new 90 + wines plus Portugal's hotspots" - the expression "so little time, so many wines" immediately comes to mind. There is a tremendous melange of wines from all over the world to enjoy this summer racing in at over 90 points. And while Portugal has most often been renowned for their Port, which comes from the Douro region in northern Portugal,for such a small country it produces a remarkable diversity of wine. Probably the most important or leading grapes include Tinta Barroca, Touriga Nacional, Alentejo , Bairrada, Malvasia, and Dao to name just a few producing hearty red wines and Loureiro and Alvarinho producing Vinho Verde, a zesty white wine (the latter is magnificent with seafood). Traditionally, Vinho Verde, also called the "green wine" is light and a tad spritzy with low alcohol which translated means it's a fabulous "all afternoon" refreshment. In this release, the Vinho Verde has 13% alcohol so while I don't recommend sipping all afternoon, it makes for a lovely crisp aperitif.
Only a handful of Portugal's grape varietals have crossed the Atlantic leaving the country full of indigenous grapes to largely enjoy only when you visit. The geography consists largely of hardened rock slopes of schist and granite. It's hard to imagine that vines survive in such unmerciful conditions however the rocks drain the water and force the vine's roots down into the earth for nourishment. There is viticulture all over Portugal except in the high central and northern mountain peaks.
This Release also offers many bold, smokin' hot reds that are longing to be accompanied by some grilled lamb chops or sausages. The meaty blasts of reds from Southern Australia will be on the shelves ready for Father's Day and I would recommend the Small Gully Formula Robert's Shiraz 2006 at $19.95 or for a real splurge for Dad, the 2006 Barossa Valley Estate Ebenezer Shiraz at $39.95 will make the day more than memorable. For those who are having a more traditional prime rib roast for an upcoming special occasion, the selection of subtle beauties from Southern France will bring back memories of your last trip. The Mont Tauch Le Tauch Fitou 2009 (think mushrooms) from Midi (France) at $19.95 as well as the Chateau du Trignon Gigondas 2006 at $29.95 are reminiscent of sitting down to a Chateaubriand steak with béarnaise sauce.
Finally - the selection of roses are abundant with almost every country represented in this release. To say rosés no longer blush, is an understatement and the stunning array of colours from pale orangey salmon to bright cranberry are beautiful and cheerful, inexpensive companions for a sunny day.
Cheers and Enjoy,
If only I had $100, I would buy . . .
AC, Alsace, France
$17.95 (Vintages # 39016) 12% alcohol
I admit to being a pushover for a sparkling wine but this medium-bodied white "sparkler" made from 100 per cent pinot noir grapes breathes flavours of fresh strawberries and yellow fruits; apple and peaches with a subtle floral nose. The palate is cleansed with just the right amount of acidity making this a fun patio sipper or elegant starter to a dinner party. I would be at fault not to mention the glistening pink colour and the wine has enough energy to take your palate from pre-dinner through to some lightly grilled shrimp. Dry and fruity, the mouse (wine-speak for fine bubbles) explode on the palate and are a fabulous match to salty hors d'oeuvres such as parmesan crisps.
VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario
$15.95 (Vintages #279778) 11% alcohol
This elegant white local talent Riesling is slightly off dry with flavours of grapefruit and minerals on the nose, the latter no doubt as a result of the soil from the Beamsville Bench and Niagara on the Lake. A little melon and stone fruit on the palate make it fresh and great company to serve with a pork tenderloin. It is also a lovely sipper on its own. Definitely a great choice to have a few bottles "in stock" for over the summer.
Sonoma Coast, California, U.S.A.
$19.95 (Vintages #47787) 13.9% alcohol
I often think that Pinot Gris is just a nice white wine for sipping while enjoying some conversation or a good book, but this vintage release definitely proves me wrong. It is balance of citrus and spice, peaches, pears, figs and an aftertaste of melon, with even a hint of mango. It is complex, medium bodied with a delicious fresh taste and the aforementioned flavours just dance in the mouth. This Pinot Gris is complex with blockbuster flavour, nice on its own or with some baked chicken or pasta with a creamy sauce. I can't wait for to stock up on this one.
Marlborough, South Island, New Zealand
$24.95 (Vintages #179200) 14.0% alcohol
These red grapes were hand picked from vineyard in lower Waihopai and Brancott valleys, fermented in small vats with wild yeast and aged in French oak barrels giving the Pinot Noir aromas of sweet and sour cherries, violets, spice box and vanilla. Lots of TLC went into making this plummy and juicy wine which results in a smooth and velvety mouthfeel with a fabulous long finish of fruits and tannins. I would pair this wine with just about anything - absolutely delicious!
Cunha Martins Reserva 2008
DOC Dao, Portugal, Btld. by Uniao Comercial de Beira
$14.95 (Vintages #276188) 13% alcohol
This dark inky splendour oozes aromas of blueberries and earth, a pinch of campfire smoke with a hint of spice. It's loaded with ripe dark dense fruit flavours but is backed by perfect tannins, to ensure you return for more. Finishes dry but lingers on fruity. Enjoy with grilled sausages or it could be cellared for a couple of years.
Grand Total: $93.75
More about my blog post: If I only had $100, I would buy….
Let's face it, some days I find going into the LCBO overwhelming and I am a sommelier. I easily lose focus in forgetting what I came to buy. I have gone with the intention of buying some Riesling or Rosé to serve at a BBQ and come out with different bottles of Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Sauvignon - not that there is anything wrong with the latter,then my husband will comment, "I thought you were going to pick up….?"
What can I say? I get so excited when I see so many new vintage releases that I really need to make and stick to a list, however the Vintage releases are my weakness and forgiveness to myself. These new releases are usually a one shot deal. I have bought a bottle to try, loved it, then gone the next day to pick up a few more bottles only to be told "It's all gone, sold out, it was too good a buy, that was not going to last"!
I sigh momentarily then I remember that next month there will be a another release and perhaps I will find something even more memorable than the last bottle that was so delicious but no longer available.
This spring, my challenge to you is to try something different every time you shop for wine - you may just discover a new favourite varietal to sit back and share with a friend. Warm spring cheers, Julie
Tags: 2006 Barossa Valley Estate Ebenezer Shiraz, Astrolabe Voyage Pinot Noir 2009, Chateau du Trignon Gigondas 2006, Colaneri Estate Stellucha Riesling 2009, Cunha Martins Reserva 2008, Julie Stock Savvy Company Sommelier, MacMurray Ranch Pinot Gris 2010, Mont Tauch Le Tauch Fitou 2009, Pierre Sparr Brut Rose D'Alsace, Pinot Gris 2010 MacMurray Ranch, Savvy Company, Small Gully Formula Robert's Shiraz 2006