Posted by SusanFriday, January 18th, 2013
Our Sommelier Susan Desjardins started her year off right - tasting an array of Spanish wines and was treated with some wines from BC too. In this weekend's LCBO Vintages release (January 19) features on the wines of Spain - a country that as Susan tells you in this blog - has a long history of winemaking, varied terroir, and winemakers who work with traditional native grapes while also creating powerful blends using international varieties.
History of Spanish wine making 101 . . .
Archeologists have found evidence of wine cultivation dating back to the 3rd and 4th millennia BC. And the tradition carried on through the Roman empire, with evidence of winemaking in this period to be found throughout the country. Much of Spain is barren plateau, where strong winds, scorching sun and limitations on irrigation led to the cultivation of bush vines. These can be seen, for instance, in Jumilla and Yecla, where one finds many vineyards displaying old, gnarled Monastrell vines. These conditions have led to widely spaced planting, making Spain the country with the largest amount of land under vine, although it traditionally falls behind France and Italy in volume of production. However, since irrigation was officially permitted in the mid 1990s, vineyard owners and winemakers have also planted international grapes varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot using more common wire trellising and spacing systems. There’s great value to be had from Spanish wines, and a delightful range to choose from: finely crafted ‘methode traditionelle’ sparkling Cava, crisp tangy whites made from Albariño, full-bodied Tempranillo or flavourful native Mencía, tasty Garnacha blends, and the famed Sherry from Jerez.
All of these are on offer in the release, along with a small but focused selection of BC wines (I have visited all of these wineries and unreservedly recommend their wines, if your budget allows). Then, there is the main release . . . an opportunity to compare Henry of Pelham’s Riesling with that of Alsace’s Joseph Cattin, to sample Opawa’s well-priced New Zealand Pinot Noir, to enjoy the luxurious Cline Cellars Cashmere, or to select Les Hauts de Castellas Vacqueyras for the cellar. So many wines, so little time, but we hope you have the opportunity to appreciate the selection of 5 wines below.
Cheers and Enjoy!
Alvarez de Toledo Godello 2010
DO Bierzo, Spain
$13.95 (Vintages #308049) 12.4% alcohol
From an estate established in the XVth century, this straw-hued white wine offers richness and complexity of aromas and flavours. On the nose, a touch of slate, apple, ripe citrus and floral notes. Dry, mid-weight, it beguiles with a round, ripe texture, lightly spiced peach, citrus and mineral nuances riding a wave of fresh acidity through a flavourful, fruity finish. Enjoy now and add a few bottles for the short-term cellaring.
VQA Okanagan Valley, B.C.
$19.95 (Vintages #321588) 12.6% alcohol
Brilliant pale gold, this wine is fragrant with floral notes, lychee, stone fruit, citrus and spice. Off dry, lusciously fruity, the tropical aromas replay on the palate, the spice extending through the fruit-filled, delicately pithy finish. This pioneering Okanagan winery once again delivers a sumptuous wine to pair with lightly spiced dishes.
Borsao ‘Tres Picos’ Garnacha 2010
DO Campo de Borja, Spain
$19.95 (Vintages #273748) 14.5% alcohol
Produced from low yielding old vines, the inky dense color of the wine portends the weight and substance in the glass. First the sweet aromas—vanilla, cedar, leather, spice and berries ripe to bursting. Dry, velvety and full bodied, this wine delivers a mouthful of juicy ripe fruit garnished with exotic spice, dried herbs and subtle oak. Soft ripe tannins underpin the fruit, the richness of the flavours persisting through the lengthy finish. A great value to enjoy now or cellar medium term.
Jackson-Triggs ‘Niagara Estate Grand Reserve’ Shiraz 2010
VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario
$19.95 (Vintages #317941) 13.5% alcohol
Inky ruby, this is a substantial wine with alluring aromas of mint, pepper dancing over rich ripe red and black fruit. Dry, full bodied, the menthol comes through on the palate mingling with succulent spiced black fruit, a hint of coffee bean and a dazzling peppery note. Fermented in French and American oak for 12 months, the firm structure complements the ripe fruit, while the peppery garnish persists on the finish. A fine value to serve with rare roast beef, or cellar medium term.
AOC Puisseguin St-Émilion, France
$19.95 (Vintages #307140) 14.5% alcohol
From a celebrated vintage, this is another award-winning wine that offers great value. Aromas include ripe black cherry, plum, spice and a whiff of smoke. Dry, medium-full bodied, the texture is very smooth, the red fruit ripe, the notes of spice and pepper building across the palate. Fine tannins and acidity along with subtly-integrated oak balance the rich fruit flavours, while the warm, spicy finish makes this a great wine to serve on a cold winter day. Or cellar medium term.
Grand Total: $93.75
Worth the splurge:
Mission Hill ‘Family Estate’ Quatrain 2008
VQA Okanagan Valley, BC
$44.95 (Vintages #218636) 13.5% alcohol
This blend of Merlot, Syrah and the Cabernets is composed from some of the estate’s best south-Okanagan fruit, fermented separately, aged in French oak. Highly aromatic and intense, the nose offers boysenberry, black cherry, spiced floral notes, and sweet cedar. Built on a firm frame, this dry, full-bodied blend delivers depth and complexity, flavours of cassis, black plum, spice and herbs with notes of toast carrying through the long finish. Serve with robust meat dishes; drink now to 2019.