One of the latter was a collection of Georges DuBoeuf General listed wines, three are included below. This combined with a collection from the south of France was cut short when I spotted the Angels Gate Gift Pack… I thought ‘Why not do VQA Gift Packs?’. Not those from ’volume’ producers but those from Craft wineries, either Ontario or BC. It’s not likely I’ll get to Niagara or PEC between now and yearend so I’m dependent on the LCBO bringing the product to a nearby Outlet. I wonder if the LCBO has a program to bring Craft seasonal products to some of their outlets or whether a policy of minimum volumes prevent it.
Depending on how they are defined - I‘ve picked 25,000 cases total, all varietals, as the upper capacity - I’d guess there are twenty or so Niagara Craft wineries some of which are ‘virtual‘. How many of these will market seasonal Gift Packs and will have shelf space - rather, aisle space as most boxes form islands in the aisles - is uncertain. My opinion is if you don't go to the market the market will not come to you.
The Angels Gate GP contains four 375mL bottles, 2 reds and 2 whites. This size suits me as most of my wine consumption is for tasting. Preferable to the 50mL in the US (The Tasting Room). I’d like to see more VQA wines available year round in the 375mL size packed as varied fours or sixes and mixed or single wineries. The closest to selective packages is WinerytoHome, however I didn't see seasonable Gift Packs on their website (1).
I’ll keep my eyes open adding to the Lineup. However, if you come across a Gift Pack to consider I’d be your friend for life or 750mL whichever comes first.
I’m striking out on Craft VQA Gift Packs… most in the aisles are ‘boutique’. Moving ‘ever onward’ … I’ve added a Masi Gift Box, as that‘s been reliable in past years. Others being considered include Tommasi, Concha y Toro, Louis Jadot, Yvon Mau (the Bordeaux Discovery Chest is an interesting mix). These aren‘t VQA and certainly not Craft but well known for consistency. I’m hoping Liberty School and Wyndham will show up one day - and one or two Crafts from Canada…
(1) A comment about online purchasing: Don't you find that wines advertised online take on the personality of the site, usually the site's Wine Critics. Wines cease to be products of a specific winery and of a winemaker carrying his enthusiasm for his craft?
THE LINEUP - grouped by reds, whites, Gift Packs, sparkles and other:
- Zenato Rosso Veneto IGT 2008, 88-2 -- G, Veneto, Italy, #208579 $11.95
- Hob Nob Pinot Noir 2008, 86-1 -- G, Languedoc, France, #184069 $12.95
- Georges DuBoeuf Crus du Beaujolais Brouilly, 86 -- G, Romanèche-Thorins, France, #070540 $16.95
- Louis Jadot Bourgogne Pinto Noir 2008, 82 -- G, Bourgogne, France, #162073 $18.60
- Les Hautes de Janeil Syrah Grenache 2008, 78 -- G, Languedoc, France, #162214 $12.95
- Hob Nob Merlot 2008, 78 -- G, Languedoc, France, #184077 $11.95
- Domaine de Vedilhan Viognier 2009, 81 -- G, Languedoc, France, #162081 $13.00
- Angels Gate VQA Gift Pack (4x375mL) -- G, Ontario, Canada, #189969 $34.95
- Angels Gate Unoaked Chardonnay 2008 VQA Niagara Peninsula, 91-2
- Angels Gate Merlot 2007 VQA Niagara Peninsula, 89-1
- Angels Gate Cabernet Merlot 2007 VQA Niagara Peninsula, 89-1
- Angels Gate Riesling 2008 VQA Beamsville Bench, 88-1
- Masi Campofiorin & Masianco w/ Stopper (2x750mL) -- G, Veneto, Italy, #187948 $34.95
- Masi Campofiorin Rosso Del Veronese 2007 IGT, 88-1
- Masi Masianco Pinot Grigio & Verduzzo 2009 IGT, 92-3
- Katnook ‘Founder’s Block’ Sparkling Shiraz 2008, 88 -- V, Coonawarra, Australia, #053330 $24.95
- Santa Margherita Brut Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore NV, 87-1 -- V, Veneto, Italy, #687582 $17.95
- Villa Sandi Prosecco DOC NV, 81 -- G, Veneto, Italy, #249722 $14.95
(G - General Listing, V - Vintages, r-v - Value levels, GP - Gift Pack)
ANGELS GATE WINERY SELECT VQA GIFT PACK (4X375), Beamsville (Map it!), Ontario, #189969 $34.95 CS
An excerpt from the AG website: “To date the total vineyard holdings include approximately 100 acres. This acreage provides about 40% of our total grape needs. Grape varieties include: Chardonnay, Riesling, Gewurztraminer, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, and Shiraz. Our first vintage was in 2000 and we yielded a very small production of only 3 wines. In six short years our production has increased to 14,000 cases featuring 18 different wines.” My notes: When I searched using the winery name Google locates Angels Gate on Lincoln Road rather than Mountainview Road. Neighbouring wineries, Rosewood Estates and Thirty Bench, are correctly shown and Angels Gate is the larger property just south and west.
- Angels Gate Merlot 2007 VQA Niagara Peninsula, 13.0% D (Tasted December 3, 2010) The back label says “… vinified using premium fruit and .. aged for 12 months in small French oak barrels. The nose is full of dark berries, chocolate, leather and a hint of smoke…. Warm youthful tannins. The finish is soft and velvety…” My notes: An aroma of dusty cherries, some red some black amid a deep ruby with a see thru brilliance. A thin film showing scalloped edges and fast legs giving way to flavours of red currants and raspberries, light-bodied with a silky texture easily quaffed. The finish combines a light acid, tannins and succulent flavour remnants - nice. An elegant sipper to please an afternoon post-bridge crowd. Have with a ham steak or veal shank and buttered herb pasta. It would be curious to come back to this in three years - suspect more depth. 89
- Angels Gate Cabernet Merlot 2007 VQA Niagara Peninsula, 13.0% D (Tasted December 3, 2010) The back label says “… a blend of Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot grapes from a selection of Niagara vineyards…” My notes: Blackcurrant and blackberry politely scented and a sombre hued black cherry skin colour. Long legs run quickly and the first sip has drying tannin, a balanced acid and flavours that follow the scent. A pleasing sipper, somewhat mild but carrying the essence of fruit forward to the palate and the finish. Dry and drying. Suitable to sip any afternoon. Light? A bit… not your thing is you’re into Auz reds. Closer in body and temperament to France but uniquely Ontario, clean and bright, I’d say. Have with T-bone or a tuna steak. Quite versatile. Cellar a few years but taste yearly - not a lot to develop. 89
- Angels Gate Riesling 2008 VQA Beamsville Bench, 11.0% D (Tasted December 8, 2010) The back label says “… the limestone soils bring forward the minerality and acidity of Riesling. … fermented in stainless steel at cool temperatures…” My notes: An interesting scent of lemon blossoms and persimmons (I’m reaching!) and a pale blond colour are pluses as a sipper. Very clean first sip with concentrated lime zest to liven the buds and light acids to refresh the palate. This carries through to the finish although fairly short in itself ending with a light, tart, mineral taste. Serve very chilled with fresh oysters or crab cakes. Pair with grilled halibut, scallops or serve with lobster/King crab pieces with clarified butter. Cellaring a year OK, longer perhaps not. 88
- Angels Gate Unoaked Chardonnay 2008 VQA Niagara Peninsula, 13.0% D, (Tasted December 3, 2010) The back label says “… fermented in stainless steel tanks at cool temperatures to enhance the varietal character. …” My notes: The amber tinted bottle inferred a butterscotch aged chard but No.. this is a soft blond, a clean aroma of fresh and spicy lemon pineapple with a firm film receding slowly leaving lacy edging then lots of long legs. Smooth, not quite puckering tart, lemon zest and melon flavours and a long spicy finish all add up to an interesting sipper. A flexible dinner white for chicken, pheasant, duck, whitefish or salmon, and shellfish. Cellaring for a few years should soften tart and deepen textures - drinking well now. 92
LES HAUTES DE JANEIL SYRAH GRENACHE 2008, Languedoc. France, 13.0% D, #162214 $12.95 (Tasted December 1, 2010) CS
A Francis Lurton wine on the General shelves and described anonymously (undated) as "Deep ruby with purple hints; black fruit with touch of smoke aromas; dry, medium body, good core of fruit flavours and medium tannins, drink now or hold 1 - 2 years." My notes: This has a firm film running a few tears, slow to start then accumulating. Letting air for twenty minutes is recommended as the nose starts out with a heavy earthy scent needing time to dissipate. The colour is a purple hued ruby, very dense in the glass and the first sip has a velvet texture, a sharpness and full tannins that carry masked black fruit and tobacco flavours. The finish wanes slowly leaving an unusual spice edge to mostly forest floor, liquorice and woody berries. Not a sipper. Pair with heavily flavoured stews or bbq’d beef. Cellaring may settle some of the rudeness but I’d avoid this vintage. 78
GEORGES DUBOEUF CRUS DU BEAUJOLAIS BROUILLY 2009, Romanèche-Thorins, France (Map it!), 12.7% D, #070540 $16.95 (Tasted tbd) CS.
A General listing described anonymously (undated) as “Ruby red colour; raspberry & cherry fruit with herbal notes; light- to medium- bodied; soft, round and quaffable. Serve slightly chilled.” My notes: A bright pink edged red cherry in the glass with a firm film and a fresh sweet raspberry cherry jam nose. Smooth, pucker bright, fresh crushed fruit flavours that saturate the palate then carry into the finish with a slight tooth cleaning ending. Light-bodied with full flavours makes this a pleasant patio sipper, slightly chilled. Pair with pan fried breaded tilapia or chicken breast. Some may say ’too jammy’, others will say ‘festive‘. I say ’a light nouveau without the nail polish‘. 86
LOUIS JADOT BOURGOGNE PINOT NOIR 2008, Bourgogne, France, 12.5% D, #162073 $18.60 (Tasted December 15, 2010) CS
A General listing described anonymously (undated) as “Bright pale ruby colour; cherry and red berry aromas with a touch of earthy spice and beetroot; dry, medium body, well balanced with well integrated acidity, red berry flavours and a touch of earth and mushroom on the finish. Serve slightly chilled with roasted duck or chicken, pork, gourmet sausage, well done beef and salmon steaks. ” My notes: An interesting red currant and cherry aroma tapering off quickly and a colour that is a see-through red cherry. The first taste is unsweetened cherry drop, dry through to a moderate finish with light tannins and acids making this a simple light-bodied sipper. Throw in a few cubes and have as a refresher, i.e. not a meal red - but if you must, have with light fowl, arctic char or bacon wrapped asparagus. A drink now. 82
DOMAINE DE VEDILHAN VIOGNIER 2009, Languedoc, France, 13.0% D, #162081 $13.00 (Tasted December 9, 2010) CS
A General listing described anonymously (undated) as “Clear straw colour; peach, apricot and honeysuckle aromas; medium body, peach and apricot flavours with balanced acidity and a touch of spice in a medium finish.” and the back label “From Paul Boutinot and vineyards in the Narbonne region of southern France. Nose of peaches, apricots and pears…. Intensely concentrate fruit flavours on the palate, with a hint of zestiness… “. My notes:Starts with the pour as an intense citrus floral settling to an aromatic waft and a pale gold in the glass. The film is firm with a slowly falling even scalloped edge. Very full in the mouth with a buttery texture and a melon citrus flavour that continues full into a long ending with an overdone mouth presence - not a sipper. Pair with Chinese sweet and sour chicken, grilled scallops, sticky rice and orange sauce, a savoury beef strips and noodles. Serve well chilled. 81
HOB NOB MERLOT 2008, Languedoc, France, 13.0% D, #184077 $11.95 (Tasted December 10, 2010) CS .
A General listing and a Georges DuBoeuf wine. The back label says “Blackcurrant, blackberry, mint and liquorice, soft finish.” My notes: A smidge of blackcurrant and blackberry in the soft nose along some earthy notes. The colour is a rich brooding ruby and a swirl sees quickly receding scalloped edging with some fast tears. An unusual flavour of black fruit and antiseptic, the latter carrying through to a short finish - airing/decanting for twenty minutes helped. A simple sipper somewhat unappealing - better with finger foods: liver paté on crackers, party sausage or mini pizzas. A drink now. 78
HOB NOB PINOT NOIR 2008, Languedoc, France, 13.0% D, #184069 $12.95 (Tasted December 8, 2010) CS
A General listing and a Georges DuBoeuf wine. The back label says “Black cherry, refined, elegant.” My notes: The colour of black cherry skins and a delicate scent of spice, cherries and mushroom slow to develop. The film is light with fast legs and scalloped edging that quickly recedes. The smoothness of the first sip leaves a sweet liquorice and red cherry flavouring fading to liquorice then mineral and fine tannins for a moderate finish. Makes for a smooth sipper with interesting highlights but shallow unless regularly refreshed. Pair with liver and onions, veal schnitzel with spatzle or sliced turkey and mixed veggies. A drink now. 86
MASI CAMPOFIORIN & MASIANCO WITH STOPPER (2X750), Veneto, Italy, #187948 $34.95 CS
Both wines go through an original Masi process giving each the freshness of newly picked fruit with a full and complex structure. Includes a Pulltex (View it!) wine pump and stopper - easy to use and worth the investment.
MASI MASIANCO PINOT GRIGIO & VERDUZZO 2009 IGT, 13.0% D, (Tasted December 5, 2010) A General listing under Product code #620773 and priced $14.95. The label says “… The richness of the perfumes… of [the Pinot Grigio grape] cultivated at Castions de Strada, in the Fruili region, complements the structure of the native Verduzzo grape, deliberately picked slightly over-ripe and matured on plateaux…” My notes: The Verduzzo grape is given a short drying period, Apassimento, before pressing. This has a golden colour with a slight peach tone and has balance, flavour, a honeyed texture, aroma, depth and lip smacking lusciousness. Full-bodied with the spice of pinot grigio coming out in the nose and flavour yet smooth and deeply structured from the Verduzzo. The finish is long and full of fresh fruit. Have with fish or a cheesy pasta dish. 92
MASI CAMPOFIORIN ROSSO DEL VERONESE 2007 IGT, 13.0% D, (Tasted December 4, 2010) Product code #155051 and priced at $17.95 on the General shelves. The back label says “This wine, called Ripasso [freshly picked grapes are refermented with a percentage of semi-dried grapes of the same type] … since 1964, [this method] combines simplicity and grace combined with power and majesty. It is rich, full-bodied, round and velvety, and has an ageing potential of 10 to 15 years…” My notes: Nectar Angelorum Hominus I would guess means ‘nectar of man and angel’. The colour is a garnet hued mid weight ruby and the nose has a warm woody scent of plums and ripe berries. A firm film leaves scalloped edging as it slowly recedes and the first sip is silky with well established tannins, a moderate acid and a mix of forest floor, red currants and berries. The silk and fruit rush then continue evenly waiting for the next sip. A soft full-bodied and polite sipper. Pair with grilled beef strips, shanks of lamb or a crockpot stew. ’Simplicity and grace’ are there - not so much ’power and majesty’. 88
ZENATO ROSSO VENETO IGT 2008, Veneto, Italy, 13.5% D, #208579 $11.95 (Tasted December 7, 2010) CS
The back label says “Cuvee of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Corvina Veronese grapes. … A ruby red coloured wine with the typical spicy flavour of the Corvina and hints of red fruit. Extremely soft tannin deriving from the Merlot.” My notes: A representation of each grape is evenly expressed in this purple tainted ruby red. A firmly layered film with stained long legs is left on the glass. A slightly earthy scent of freshly crushed fruit is on the nose and a silken dry texture coats the mouth with a delicate touch of black fruit. A polite sipper light in fruit but full in depth with soft tannins. Pair with sautéed or grilled red meats, or have with vegetarian pizzas or meaty pizzas not too spicy. May cellar for a year, not likely longer. 88
KATNOOK FOUNDER'S BLOCK SPARKLING SHIRAZ 2008, Coonawara, Australia, 12.5% D, #053330 $24.95 (Tasted December 9, 2010) CS
Released by Vintages on November 27, 2010 described by their Panel (April 2010) as “Opaque ruby in the glass; simply laden with full fruit aromas such as plum, cherry, and delicious blackberry with a hint of minty goodness that delivers just that extra touch of something special. Dry, with a creamy mousse and lots of ripe berry fruit on the palate… “. My Notes: From the Wingara wine group and seldom available in Ontario. The 2004 was cellared in December 2007 and was last tasted in September this year - ‘lip smacking luscious’ with a rating of Ww87 V1. The 2008 is priced $5 higher and has the same blackberry colour with aromas of steely blackberry with a touch of blackcurrant. There’s a deep colour of blackberry as a setting for a profusion of fine to moderate size bubbles - no mousse to speak of. Tiny bubbles stream across the surface to the rim as a sensation of fizz fills the first sip. A flavour of minerals and soft blackberries is muted by a steeliness and a short finish. Less fruit driven than previous vintages. Serve with a buffet table of stuffed mushrooms, bacon bit topped breads or proscuitto wrapped asparagus. A drink now that could keep for a few years. 88
SANTA MARGHERITA BRUT VALDOBBIADENE PROSECCO SUPERIORE NV, Veneto, Italy (Map it!), 11.5% XD, #687582 $17.95 (Tasted December 7, 2010) CS
. A Vintages release on September 4, 2010 rated 4 of 5 by Tony Aspler (Who?) (November 6, 2009) and described as "...pale straw with a lime tint. Nose: minerally, nutty, peach. Taste: light to medium-bodied, dry, bitter almond and citrus flavours." My notes: A touch of yeast but mostly a citrus zest and mineral nose with a profusion of bubbles to release the aromas then settle quickly. A light blond and a dry tartness in the first few sips that wakens the taste buds. Muted flavours of a white peach and lemon blend flowing to a long mineral finish. An aperitif to have with oysters or for a toast before after a meal. Paired well Swiss Chalet chicken. 87
VILLA SANDI PROSECCO DOC NV, Veneto, Italy, 11.0% D, #249722 $14.95 (Tasted December 11, 2010) CS
A General listing described anonymously (undated) as “Clear, pale lemon yellow colour; clean aromas with intense mineral mineral and citrus notes; off-dry, light bodied, with citrus and herbs, with a vigorous mousse.” My notes: Also available in 375mL at $7.95 as #194191 (CS). A burst of medium-sized bubbles covering the surface then settling quickly. The nose has a mineral taint to a yeasty aroma and the first sip is dry, starting soft then the acid kicks in with a nice touch of delicate lemon icing. A refreshing sipper, simple, the spritz adding interest with each sip followed by a short finish ending with a smooth mineral coating. Pair with stuffed mushrooms or grilled scallops - has a short interest span by itself. A drink now. 81