Aromatic Wines for Spring
March 2018

Spring is just around the corner. Before you know it, tulips start popping up, Easter is here, and the birds are chirping. This is the time of year that I stop thinking about big red wines and rich whites, and start drinking more aromatic wines.

 

The following are just a small sample to pique your interest. We always have upwards of 250 wines available, dozens of which come in cases of six and over twenty selections in cases of 12 half-bottles.

 

You can call or email anytime to “talk wine”: 647 955 8872 or [email protected]. I hope to hear from you.

 

Sincerely,

 

Chris

La Giustiniana
“Cru Lugarara” Gavi di Gavi DOCG 2016
$25.95 per bottle, cases of 12

 

If over the years you have ever asked me to recommend “something new”, I have almost certainly recommended our Gavi di Gavi.

 

La Giustiniana is a Gavi di Gavi specialist, bottling three seperate vineyard designates of the Cortese grape. The wines are all fermented in stainless steel, with some ageing on the lees. Lugarara’s sandier soils produces the most open and inviting bottling.

 

Fresh, delicate and pretty, it shows soft yellow fruits, peaches and lychee with citrus blossom aromatics. The wine is nice and crisp, dry, a little spicey and it has loads of minerality and plenty of different citrus notes. This wine also ages remarkably well. Drink it as you would unoaked Chardonnay or dry Vouvray.

 


Agricola Punica
“Samas” Isola dei Nuraghi IGT 2016
$26.95 per bottle, cases of 6

 


“Samas” is a blend of 80% Vermentino, Sardinia’s premier white, and 20% Chardonnay. Both are fermented in stainless steel and left on the lees for 40 days. The individual wines are then blended and matured in concrete vats until bottling. It is not fined or filtered.

 

It is crisp yet creamy, a medium-to-full bodied fresh white with aromas and flavours of apple, white peach, sea spray, and fresh lemon. Consider this if you’re looking to replace your “go to” Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc.

 

Is anyone else craving calamari?

 

“Aromas of stones and hints of sand with sliced peaches and lightly cooked apples. Full body and hints of cream and almonds on the palate. Complex fruit and freshness on the finish. Drink now.”

92 points, JamesSuckling.com, Nov 2016

 

“Bright straw with golden highlights. Peach and rose water are complicated by chamomile on the intriguing nose. Bright and fresh; a peppery zing enlivens the ripe white stone fruit and herbal flavours. Finishes long and tactile, featuring an herbal nuance.”

91 points, Ian D’Agata vinous.com, Mar 2018


 

Terra Costantino
“deAetna” Etna Bianco 2015
$33.95 per bottle, cases of 6

 

Last month we featured the Etna Rosso, now it’s the Bianco’s time in the spotlight. This gorgeous blend of Carricante and Catarratto is so minerally it’s almost chalky. It is clean and poised, like “Italian Chablis” if you will. This is one of my favourite whites.

 

Fruit comes from the Terra Costantino estate’s carefully tended Certified Organic vineyard on the southeast slope of Mount Etna.

 

“The pear and stone character with hints of flint are impressive. Medium body, some phenolic texture. Flavourful finish. Drink now. Made from organic grapes.”

92 points, JamesSuckling.com, Oct 2017

 


Weingut Hirsch
“Grüner Veltliner “Hirschvergnügen” 2014
$22.95 per bottle, cases of 12

 


If you’re not drinking Grüner Veltliner yet, I highly recommend taking the plunge. It is simply one of the most interesting grapes, and the wines are very exciting. It’s a medium-bodied wine with low alcohol at full ripeness.

 

I think of it as having the acidity of Riesling, the herbal edge of Sauvignon Blanc, the earthiness of Pinot Blanc, the fruity and spicey notes of Pinot Grigio. There is no better wine to pair with salads, or difficult to match foods like asparagus.

 

“The new label will be the ongoing label, as I seem to have been in a minority-of-one who liked the label changing each year. Ya happy now? The wine will make you happy if not; ripe, tobacco-y and smoky, deep and earthy and almost tannic in the finish. Really huge for 11.5% alc, it tastes like a mushroom stock you threw a few drops of Sauv-Blanc into.”

Terry Thiese, Skurnik Wines, 2014


Astrolabe
“Awatere” Valley Sauvignon Blanc 2017
$22.95 per bottle, cases of 12

 

Astrolabe is one of the most prominent names in New Zealand’s wine industry. You’ve likely had a bottle of their super-popular Astrolabe Marlborough “Province” Sauvignon Blanc.

 

This Awatere Valley bottling is more appellation-specific than the regional bottling. The fruit is farmed in a very stoney, very dry, but relatively cool sub-appellation of Marlborough where due to more extreme growing conditions, small grapes with intense aromas are the norm. The winery’s hallmark balance of acidity and minerality is on display here as well.

 

The 2017 has just arrived, and so has not yet been reviewed, but the 2016 and 2015 both received 95 points from Bob Campbell MW:

 

“Typically grassy Awatere Valley Sauvignon Blanc, with classic tomato leaf, nettle, chalky mineral and capsicum flavours. Nicely weighted wine with a dry, but not austere, texture. Impressive concentration and length.”

95 points, Bob Campbell, MW, Jan 2017

 


Volpaia
Chianti Classico 2014
$30.95 per bottle, cases of 12

 

Volpaia’s wines can be summed up with one word: elegance. Always the more aromatic and supple style of Chianti Classico, the wine is dry, gentle, and pretty. Very fine tannins give the wine presence on the palate, yet never pull focus from the savoury, perfumed varietal character of Sangiovese.

 

“Unique aromas of dried raspberry, lemon rind and lilacs follow through to a medium body, fresh acidity and a clean, vivid finish. From organically grown grapes. Drink now.”

92 points, JamesSuckling.com, Aug 2016

 

“I keep hearing that the public has turned away from Chianti. Perhaps people are tired of familiar names, or maybe Chianti was its own worst enemy, regularly redefining itself in the 20th century until nobody knew what to expect. Regardless, the result is that many of the wines can be great values, like this one from Volpaia, gorgeously fragrant of cherries, herbs, tobacco and earth, with the acidic structure characteristic of the Sangiovese grape.”

Eric Asimov, New York Times, Jan 13, 2017


Terrapura
Aconcagua Valley Pinot Noir 2016
$14.95 per bottle, cases of 12

 

Founded in 2005 by Alfonso Undurraga (of the Chilean wine family) and José Miguel Ovalle (winemaker and viticulturist), Terrapura’s aim is to craft honest, delicious Chilean wines from the best fruit available, from the best valleys and appellations.

 

The Pinot Noir comes from the Aconcagua Valley, a stark, hot valley between the Andes and the Pacific. On the nose, this Pinot is intense: aromas of cherries and blueberries dominate, accompanied by a hint of cracked pepper. The palate is soft and silky with good structure and a long, pleasant finish. Perfect as an aperitif or poured with salmon, beef tenderloin, or mushroom risotto.

 

The 2016 vintage is a new release that has yet to be reviewed. Previous vintages have consistently been named Best Buy by Wine Enthusiast.

 


Capiaux
“Chimera” Pinot Noir
Russian River Valley 2015
$55.95 per bottle, cases of 12

 

Sean Capiaux is the winemaker and CEO of O’Shaughnessy Estate on Howell Mountain. There he makes his eponymous wines from fruit sourced from some of California’s premier Pinot Noir vineyards in Sonoma County and Central California. Most are bottled as single vineyard wines, but “Chimera”, bottled under his own name, is a blend of these vineyards, a rich and full-bodied wine with intense dark fruit flavours.

 

“His (Sean Capiaux’s) 2015 Pinot Noir Chimera comes primarily from Russian River vineyards but a tiny percentage is from the Sonoma Coast and even a drop or two from the Santa Lucia Highlands. This wine has a deep ruby colour and a big, sweet kiss of raspberry, black cherry, incense and floral notes. It is medium-bodied, lush, long and again, sexy and heady. It is one of his biggest cuvées (925 cases). It should be drunk over the next 4-6 years.”

92 points, Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate, Dec 2016

 

“The Capiaux 2015 Pinot Noir Chimera is plump, juicy and expressive, with all of the richness and lushness of the vintage. Bright red cherry and pomegranate flavours are propped up by bright veins of salinity and aromatic lift that give the wine its brilliance. The blend of sites, all from Russian River, works beautifully here. 2017-2023.”

92 points, Antonio Galloni, vinous.com, March 2017

 


Paul Hobbs
Russian River Valley Pinot Noir 2014
$89.95 per bottle, cases of 6

 


The Paul Hobbs 2014 is wonderful Pinot Noir. The fruit was hand harvested at night to retain acidity, the fruit was crushed and cold soaked for five days, then macerated for 16. Natural yeast fermentation was allowed and spontaneous malolactic fermentation occurred afterward in barrel. The wine was aged for 11 months in French oak, 43% of which were new barrels. The wine was bottled unfined and unfiltered.

 

“The 2014 Pinot Noir (Russian River Valley) is terrific. Bright, nuanced and savoury, the straight Russian River Pinot has all the attributes of this strong vintage. Sweet floral notes round out a Pinot that is understated and silky.”

93 points, Antonio Galloni, vinous.com, March 2017

 

“Exhibits a distinctive streak of crushed rock and loamy earth amid the tannic wild berry and savoury notes, showing a kiss of oak and transforming into a celebration of licorice and anise elements. Drink now through 2025.”

93 points, Wine Spectator, Feb 2017


Nicolas-Jay
Willamette Valley Pinot Noir 2015
estimated $113.95 per bottle, cases of 6
arriving late June 2018

 

Nicolas-Jay is the culmination of thirty years of friendship between famed Burgundian winemaker Jean-Nicolas Méo (of Méo-Camuzet) and visionary music entrepreneur Jay Boberg, and their shared love of Oregon Pinot Noir.

 

At Nicolas-Jay, they have created a new classic by applying knowledge gained from working with the Grand crus of Burgundy upon the finest grapes from Oregon. This includes fruit from the older vines of Nicolas-Jay’s own organically farmed Bishop Creek Vineyard on the hillsides of the Yamhill-Carlton appellation, as well as grapes from other top Willamette Valley vineyards, including Nysa, Momtazi, Hyland and La Colina. From this fruit, Jean-Nicolas, Jay and talented associate winemaker Tracy Kendall make alluring and expressive wines that convey the special character of Oregon Pinot Noir.

 

2015 is another excellent vintage in Willamette Valley: hot and dry, with a huge crop of really high quality Pinot Noir.

 

“A lovely and delicately complex wine, with expressive violet and raspberry aromas and harmoniously layered cherry, floral tea and stony mineral flavours that glide through a long finish. Drink now through 2021”

91 points, Wine Spectator, Oct 2017