Posted by SusanThursday, September 26th, 2013
Italy's Tuscany wine region is the main attraction in this weekend's LCBO Vintages release (beginning on Sept 28th). The classic ‘big three’ red wines crafted from the native grape variety, Sangiovese—Chianti Classico, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, and Brunello—and a number of blended red wines, usually classified as IGT (Indicazione geografica tipica), that bring to the palate the impact of classic French varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.
Explore the world of Super Tuscans
Some may know the story of how the Maremma, the coastal region of Italy on the Mediterranean, was the birthplace of what were called the ‘Super-Tuscans’. Mario Incisa della Rocchetta planted his first vineyard in the area with the intention of producing some Bordeaux-style red wines for his personal consumption. The wine he called ‘Sassicaia’, commercially released in 1968, along with Antinori’s Tignanello, launched the Super-Tuscan phemonema.
Over time, as this style of wine became more popular and spread more broadly through many Italian wine regions, the regulations were expanded to include the designation IGT to incorporate these unique wines into the standards of Italian wine law. These wines come from a specific geographic area, meet specified quality standards, and may also bear the name of the grape varieties from which they were produced. As an example of the longstanding presence of non-native varieties in Italy’s winemaking history, the Capezzana ‘Barco Reale’ di Carmignano (a great value) comes from a DOC—Carmignano—which has always required the inclusion of Cabernet Sauvignon in its blends. To quote the September 28 LCBO Vintages magazine, the IGT style ‘embodies the interplay of tradition and innovation that has always been at the heart of Tuscan winemaking’.
Give Thanks with Great Wines
With Thanksgiving fast approaching, this release brings a cornucopia of wines to choose from. There are Rieslings from Ontario, Alsace and Germany; Chardonnay from California and Australia. If you are prepping your Thanksgiving feast early, here are my top picks at the table; a richly flavoured Merlot from Ontario’s Angels Gate; the fabulous ‘Goldeneye’ Pinot Noir from Duckhorn or the classic Mercury of Domaine Faiveley; and Cascina Gilli’s clean yet concentrated Barbera d’Asti. For a Canadian sweep at the Thanksgiving table, consider starting with Sumac Ridge Steller’s Jay Sparkling Brut, moving to a choice of Angel’s Gate Mountainview Merlot or Tawse ‘Sketches of Niagara’ Riesling for the main, and then consider the hedonistic pleasures of Château des Charmes’ Vidal Ice Wine for dessert!
From the general release, I’m putting a focus on cellarable wines, including Paul Hobbs’ always impressive, concentrated ‘Crossbarn’ Cabernet Sauvignon, a great value Bordeaux—Château les Hauts de Palette—and from the Okanagan, Burrowing Owl’s 2010 Merlot.
Cheers and Enjoy!
Nottola Vino Nobile di Montepulciano 2009
$19.95 (Vintages #184960) 14.0% alcohol
Absolutely delectable, this fine red wine shows restrained aromas of red fruit, spice, earth and delicate floral notes. Dry, medium-full bodied and satiny in texture, the wash of intense red fruit is nicely offset by a spine of lively acidity and subtle tannins. Elegantly integrated oak offers a spicy note that accents the earthiness that persists on the finish. Enjoy this red wine now and over the next few years.
Lapostolle ‘Cuvée Alexandre Apalta Vineyard’ Cabernet Sauvignon 2011
Colchagua Valley, Chile
$24.95 (Vintages #947929) 14.0% alcohol
Deep purple, this powerful red wine produced from organic grapes offers great complexity and layers of aromas and flavours, including cassis, mint, spiced flowers, dried herbs and tobacco. Dry, full bodied, displaying gripping tannins and clean acidity, it has a firm base from which to showcase ripe, concentrated red and black fruits. Hints of sweet spice and pepper, along with a whiff of espresso linger on the finish. Cellar a further year or two, or decant and serve with rare red meats.
Graffigna ‘Centenario’ Late Harvest Malbec 2012
San Juan, Argentina
$14.95 (Vintages #322719) 12.5% alcohol
Deep ruby, this is a delightful incarnation of Malbec, offering tantalizing aromas of dried cranberries and black cherries, ripe dark berries and hints of smoke and spice. The jammy red fruit is attractively balanced with a backbone of clean acidity, notes of spice add interest, and there’s freshness on the finish. Serve this red wine with flourless chocolate almond cake.
Tawse ‘Sketches of Niagara’ Riesling 2012
VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario
$17.95 (Vintages #89029) 10.0% alcohol
Light-medium bodied and almost transparent, this is a fine value white wine bursting with aromas of nectarine, Japanese pear and lemon/lime. The sensation is one of subtly-wrought balance, the flavours suggesting the sweetness of lemon curd, along with lime, crisp apple and a touch of mineral.
Sonoma County, California
$21.95 (Vintages #574491) 13.5% alcohol
Inky and deep, this absolutely fabulous Zin offers rich blueberry and currant aromas, exotic spice notes, vanilla, earth and savoury toasty oak. Dry, full and rich, the dark fruit is succulent and spicy, the oak well integrated. The subtle structure brings great balance and harmony to the whole and delivers a surprisingly clean freshness on the big, fruity finish. Wow! You’ll want to stock up on this red wine!
Grand Total: $99.30