November 27, 2017

The Giving Season

Assuming you showed responsible restraint on Black Friday – recognizing that fabulous wine is really all that matters – we humbly present a veritable cornucopia of seasonal selections for drinking, for gift-giving, and for your own cellar (because you deserve it).


WINES FOR DRINKING (not too hard on the wallet)

Château Pesquié 2015 ‘Les Terrasses’ Blanc, Ventoux
Retail:  $19.95/btl  (12 btl/cs)

90 points – Vic Harradine,
“Alluring aromas of green apple, chalky minerality and citrus introduce a tangy line of crisp, palate-bathing flavour redolent of lemon curd and pineapple intertwined with mineral notes and Granny Smith apple. This is medium weight with good mouthfeel and a crisp and refreshing, lip-smacking finish and aftertaste—this offers very good value. Pour alongside pan-seared scallops or grilled fish”


McManis 2016 Pinot Noir, California
Retail:  $20.95/btl (12 btl/cs)

91 points – Vic Harradine,
“The price-quality balance in this spicy, fruity pinot tips in your favour. The lifted nose of savoury, peppery spice and berry fruit leaps from the glass. It bathes the palate with a nicely textured, medium-bodied flow of ripe, jammy black currant and dark cherry interwoven with crunchy, red fruit tang. Flavours replay on the dry finish and aftertaste, Pour with chicken, turkey, pork or duck.”


WINES FOR GIFTING (thinking ahead to the holidays)

Cave Spring 2015 ‘CSV’ Chardonnay, Beamsville Bench
Retail:  $29.75/btl  (12 btl/cs)

91 points – David Lawrason,
“From 41 year old estate vines, this is was fermented in French barriques and larger puncheons. It such a well composed, complex and balanced chardonnay. It shows generous if not hugely intense aromas of dried apple, spice, honey, light toast and subtle butterscotch. Mid-weight, balanced and firm, with some creaminess yet solid acidity and minerality. The length is excellent.”


Prà 2015 ‘Staforte’ Soave Classico, Veneto
Retail:  $41.95/btl (6 btl/cs)

96 points – Louise Boutin,
“This is Soave at its absolute best. The 100% garganega has a charming nose of orange blossom, tangerine, apricot, yellow apple, sweet brioche and minerality. Only the best grapes from high altitude, volcanic soil and south exposure find their way into this delectable medium-bodied beauty. Ageing sur lie with six months active bâtonnage brings soft and round texture supporting flavours of yellow apple, tangy pink-grapefruit and delicious chalky minerality for a long, balanced and elegant finish. Pair with your favorite lobster or crab dish for a perfect match.”


Scarbolo 2014 ‘Ramato XL’ Pinot Grigio, Grave del Friuli
Retail:  $31.95/btl (12 btl/cs)

A remarkable and dramatic wine, showing off the tremendous potential of this often bastardized noble grape. Hand harvested, old vines, low yields…
50% of the fruit is de-stemmed, and left on the skins for 4 days of maceration at a controlled temperature of 17 - 19°C, allowing for partial fermentation. After soft pressing, 30% of the juice completes its fermentation in 500 L oak barrels, and the remaining juice in stainless steel tanks.
The other half of the fruit harvested is de-stemmed and left on the skins for two days of cold maceration. After pressing, this juice is transferred to stainless steel tanks for fermentation.
Aged for 18 months on the noble lees in stainless steel and oak tonneaux with frequent bâtonnages. Bottle aged for at least 6 months.
The resulting wine is a rich copper colour (‘Ramato’) with brilliant highlights and an oily consistency. Ripe cantaloupe, papaya, and mandarin rind, with notes of “Millefiori” honey. On the palate, creamy, persistent and elegant with a generous minerality. Pair with raw seafood and shellfish, prosciutto and melon, risotto, pasta dishes and cheese.


Loveblock 2014 Pinot Noir ‘Someone’s Darling Vyd’, Central Otago
Retail:  $34.95/btl (12 btl/cs)

92 points – Joe Czerwinski, Wine Enthusiast
“This is intense and muscular without being overdone. Herbal and peppery notes bring nuance to the concentrated flavors of dark plum, mocha and baking spice. The finish is richly tannic but not hard, making it approachable now but capable of aging through 2030.”


WINES FOR YOUR CELLAR (because you’ve earned a treat)

Philip Togni Vineyard, Spring Mountain, Napa 2014 MIXED CASE
3 bottles each –

Philip Togni 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon
and ‘Tanbark Hill’ Cabernet Sauvignon 
Retail:  $1080.70/case  (6 btl/cs)

97 points – Antonio Galloni,
Togni's 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon Estate is quite dark and powerful, but also very much medium in body. Graphite, smoke, savory herbs, mint, leather and a core of inky dark red and purplish fruit infuse this deep, beautifully layered Cabernet Sauvignon. The 2014 is a wine built on energy and aromatics that won't hit its stride until at least age ten.”
90 points – Antonio Galloni,
“The 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon Tanbark Hill Vineyard is an attractive wine, although the effects of the drought are felt in the wine's somewhat stressed personality and roasted fruit profile. Savory, ripe and expressive, the 2014 Tanbark Hill is a pretty Cabernet to enjoy over the next handful of years.”

Mayacamas 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon, Mount Veeder, Napa
Retail:  $215.95/btl (12 btl/cs)

(93-96) points – Antonio Galloni,
“The 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon is shaping up to be a real beauty. Pliant and nuanced, the 2012 caresses the palate with a total sense of silkiness. Bright red cherries, mint, spices and flowers are all laced together in a supple, radiant Cabernet Sauvignon that captures the essence of the vintage. The purity of the fruit here is simply striking, but the 2012 is not a powerhouse, rather it is a wine built on finesse. Rose petals, mint, sage and a hint of white pepper add an element of exoticism on the high-toned, expressive finish.” 


Kistler 2014 Chardonnay Kistler Vineyard, Sonoma Mountain
Retail:  $144.95/btl (12 btl/cs)

98+ points – Lisa Perrotti-Brown,
“The 2014 Chardonnay Kistler Vineyard has very pretty white grapefruit, lemon curd and white peach notes over nuances of honeysuckle, allspice and baker’s yeast plus a touch of chalk dust. Full-bodied and packed with finesse, the rich, concentrated citrus and stone fruit flavors are beautifully marked by crisp acidity and it finishes with loads of mineral layers.
Kistler Vineyards remains one of the absolute benchmark producers of great Sonoma Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, sitting right up there with the highest quality examples of these grapes from throughout the world. While the wines come from as wide a range of top terroirs as Sonoma can provide, interestingly nearly all of the Chardonnays are produced from a proprietary selection of Wente clones taken from a Larry Hyde block in the early 1980s. The exception is the Kistler Vineyard, which contains some original Martin Ray Mount Eden clonal material. This can be found in the straight Kistler Vineyard Chardonnay bottling, as opposed to the Cuvee Cathleen, which is mainly Wente selection. All the vineyard-designate Chardonnays are produced in precisely the same manner, meaning the differences between them are almost exclusively down to the differences in terroir. And as readers will see from my notes, the differences are striking.
Now the bad news – I tasted mainly wines from the 2014 vintage for this report, where, despite it being a drought year, yields were pretty much average. In 2015 and 2016, poor flowering meant that yields were hit dramatically for Kistler, down 25-30% in 2015 and as much as 40% in 2016.”


WINES FOR PARTIES (because we’ve got a few MAGNUMS)

Cave Spring 2009 ‘CSV’ Blanc de Blancs, Beamsville Bench
Retail:  $44.75/btl  (6x 750mL/cs)

96 points – Vic Harradine,
“This is a stunning example of what can be accomplished with premium estate fruit, one-half of a decade of patience and the careful stewardship of a masterful winemaker, Angelo Pavan. This offers a profusion of mousse and seemingly endless stream of fine-bead bubbles. It delivers a fairly tight stream of citrus, sharp minerality and wisps of apple and pear on the palate. Recently disgorged, this will evolve over time, but delivers the goods even now. It finishes in a blaze of tang and fruit flavour.”


Château Pesquié 2015 ‘Quintessence’ Rouge, Ventoux (magnums)
Retail:  $99.95/btl (3 x 1500mL/cs)

98+ points – Jeb Dunnuck,
“Tasted as a final blend, the inky colored 2015 Ventoux la Quintessence is a step up over previous vintages, and I suspect it will be the greatest vintage for this cuvee to date. Not harvested until the 18th of October (which is average to early for this terroir... they finished on October 31st in 2013), it has sensational purity and polish, with full-bodied richness, a big mid-palate, ultra-fine tannin and killer notes of creme de cassis, blackberries, licorice and graphite. Count me as a fan and it's anther wine that will see its 20th birthday in fine form.”


Noelia Ricci 2014 'Godenza' Sangiovese Superiore, Emilia-Romagna (magnums)
Retail:  $99.95/btl (6 x 1500mL/cs)

Tre Bicchieri – Gambero Rosso Editore
“Marco Cirese has revolutionized the family's historic estate, Tenuta Pandolfa, with an extraordinary staff full of enery: Francesco Bordini supervising work in the rows and cellar... The change has been so extreme and overwhelming that they decided on a new name that underlined how different thi project was. This brand brings together grapes from the Pandolfa estate and the family's historic vineyards.
Godenza 2014 is a subtle, complex wine of great finesse, with earthy, spicy notes and well-managed fruit on the nose, over a supple, fresh, consistent, focused palate with delicate citrus notes.”