The April 28 release at LCBO Vintages provides an opportunity to sample some tantalizing wines from one of Italy’s major wine-producing regions, the Veneto. The sampling ranges from fresh, sparkling Prosecco to the better-known white wines, Soave and Garganega, and the well-known red wines of the region, such as Valpolicella, Ripasso and Amarone, these latter produced with a blend of local varietals, principally Corvina and Rondinella, with Marinara, Negrara, Oseleta or others rounding out the equation. The release also includes a single-varietal Corvina, and an interesting blend of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon from Maculan.
The DOC Valdobbiadene is the home of Prosecco, which was revolutionized by enologist Antonio Carpenè, who was the first in Italy to develop the tank method of secondary fermentation for sparkling wines (known as Charmat). He established Carpenè Malvolti in the late 1800s (it is one of the Grandi Marchi, a grouping of some of Italy’s most respected wine families), as well as a school of enology in Conegliano, which still exists and is considered one of the best in Italy.
The Valpolicella DOC is centred around Verona, the name meaning ‘valley of many cellars’. To produce Amarone, the Valpolicella grapes are harvested in the fall, then spread out to dry (traditionally on straw mats) for several months. This process concentrates the sugars in the grapes, as the water evaporates. These dried grapes are then pressed and vinified, with the wine generally fermented in steel tanks and aged in barrel. The wine develops great concentration, and a combination of luscious fruit and substantial structure. Ripasso holds the middle ground between a Valpolicella and an Amarone, in terms of weight and substance. The pressed Amarone grapes are introduced to a young Valpolicella wine, which is given an extended maceration. The process tends to enhance the body of the wine, adding complexity, flavour and colour.
The secondary feature focuses on the white wines of Marlborough, New Zealand’s best-known and largest wine region. Marlborough is a cool-climate region, where the grapes benefit from sunny dry conditions and an extended ripening period that intensifies their flavours. Diurnal temperature variations are one of the reasons the white wines display such fresh, crisp flavours and texture. There’s a lovely range of varietal wines in this selection, from the classic zesty Sauvignon Blanc to a luscious Gewürztraminer, fruity Pinot Gris (the new ‘it’ varietal) and Chardonnay.
Among the Canadian wines in this release, I would recommend two white wines: the lively, well-balanced Pondview Chardonnay, and Malivoire’s very approachable Riesling, which displays a delicious marriage of ripe sweet fruit and fresh acidity.
Cheers and Enjoy, Susan
Vinea Garganega 2010
IGT Veronese, Italy
$13.95 (Vintages #230656) 13.0% alcohol
Fragrant aromas of peach, orchard fruit, a whiff of citrus and mineral waft from the glass of this dry, medium-bodied wine. Finely balanced, round and smooth, it offers flavours of ripe pear and yellow plum, soft citrus notes and lively fresh acidity. It finishes long, dry and fruity. A great choice to pair with seafood or a selection of soft cheeses.
Lawson’s Dry Hills Gewürztraminer 2009
Marlborough, New Zealand
$17.95 (Vintages #60129) 14.0% alcohol
Just off-dry, this award-winning wine offers lovely floral aromas, lychee, citrus, honey and spice. The texture is luscious and satin-like, the flavours display the characteristic spiciness, a replay of lychee and a clean fresh finish. Beautifully crafted and balanced, this wine will pair with salmon rillettes.
Maculan ‘Brentino’ Merlot/Cabernet Sauvignon 2009
IGT Veneto, Italy
$18.95 (Vintages #708297) 13.5% alcohol
This structured value-laden blend of the classic Bordeaux grapes offers tantalizing aromas of spiced plum, black fruit, nuances of cedar and earth. Dry, medium-full bodied, the wine showcases tasty red fruit, fresh acidity and somewhat grippy tannins. A match for meaty lasagna or grilled ribeye steaks, it will also cellar medium term.
Frei Brothers ‘Reserve’ Cabernet Sauvignon 2008
Alexander Valley, California
$23.95 (Vintages #38075)) 14.2% alcohol
Inky purple, this is a substantial, heady wine offering complex aromas of mint, cassis, cedar, sweet spice and earthy undergrowth. Dry, full bodied, it’s rich and robust, displaying great depth and intensity of fruit flavours, the perceptible tannins and fresh acidity bringing a fine balance. The long-lasting finish offers tasty lingering notes of vanilla and cedar. Enjoyable now, the wine is structured to cellar long term.
St. Hallett ‘Gamekeeper’s’ Shiraz 2009
Barossa, South Australia
$15.95 (Vintages #166991) 14.0% alcohol
Alluring aromas of black cherry, ripe red berries, spice and vanilla leap from the glass. Dry, full bodied this is a generous, fruit-forward wine that’s quite plush and softly framed, offering flavours of dark fruit and a nuance of chocolate. Toasty spiced oak garnishes the fruit-filled finish. Hedonistic and a great value, enjoy it now with your favorite barbequed meat!
Grand Total: $90.75
Tags: Carpene Malvoiti, Frei Brothers Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 Alexander Valley California, Lawson's Dry Hills Gewurztraminer 2009 Marlborough New Zealand, LCBO Vintages Release 2012, Maculan Brentino Merlot/Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 Veneto Italy, Malivoire Riesling, Marlborough New Zealand, Pondview Chardonnay 2010, Vinea Garganega 2010 Verona Italy