There is a handful of great discoveries to be found among the ruins of LCBO’s leftovers from the pre- Christmas push. Some of these wines should be purchased in bulk (three or more), starting with a lovely German Sekt, Schloss Wachenheim Riesling Trocken Traditionelle Flaschengarung ($16.95 – #301366). It’s unusual for Riesling Sekts in Germany to be made in the traditional way, meaning a secondary fermentation in bottle. This is a rarity as well as a delicious bubbly. The nice part is it’s wonderful for every-day consumption because it comes in at under $17 (****+).
Speaking of every-day consumption wines, there’s a stellar white in this release that just blew me away. Luis Felipe Edwards 2010 Gran Reserve Rousanne ($16.95 – #309740). Here’s a grape you find primarily in the Rhône (France) and Australia, but these days they’re also growing it in Chile – who knew? The result is a wine with elegance and power. A peachy nose with lots of flavour on the palate, well worth its $17 price tag and one that brings summer to mind in the dead of winter (**** 1⁄2).
Two of the more exotic places for winemaking make a grandiose appearance this month. There is a great South African Cabernet and an Austrian St. Laurent. The Lady Anne Barnard 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon ($16.95 – #101758) is smoky with hints of the typical South African road tar/fresh earth nuances you find in a lot of their reds, but with lovely mocha and cassis on the finish, this wine leaves those unpleasantries behind (****). Then there’s the Rabl 2009 St. Laurent ($15.95 – #301960). St. Laurent is a staple grape for Austrian red wines. It is fresh and fruity, light in colour but like a Pinot in flavour. It is more like a Gamay-Pinot cross — lovely raspberry and strawberry aromas and tastes. Be a real Rabl rouser with this one and make sure this wine sees your glass in January so you can add St. Laurent to the list of grapes you’ve tried. This is also one you can put a chill on in the summer (****+).
Now it’s time to look at the January 19th release. Here the focus could not be more diverse: wines of British Columbia and Spain. The best British Columbia wine is the Mission Hill 2008 Quatrain ($44.95 – #218636) with a mocha note throughout, nice tannin grip along with spice and violet notes. This one still needs time but it is tasty when left open and decanted a few hours (****+). Try the Spanish Borsao 2010 Tres Picos Garnacha ($19.95 – #273748). It is a lush juicy wine full of great dark fruit, with a lovely chocolate core. The finish screams black cherry and vanilla with good tannins to keep it all real… real good, that is. I have had plenty of past vintages of this wine and have yet to be disappointed; plus there’s nice mid-term aging potential here, five or so years – maybe a little more (****+).
Those who dig on white, especially of the Chardonnay variety, need look no further than across the border to the good old USA for their fix in the form of J. Lohr 2011 October Night Chardonnay ($26.95 – #225375). The beginning seems very typical, but the end delivers tropical with vanilla notes, fresh white fruit along with hints of toffee and nice spice (****+).
If you’re looking for some home- grown talent, look no further than the Jackson-Triggs 2010 Grand Reserve Shiraz ($19.95 – #317941). Winemaker Marco Piccoli has packed loads of flavour into this version thanks to the good 2010 vintage: blueberry, black currants, roasted meat with a minor in pepper – lovely finish – this wine really shows some elegance and finesse (****+).
We’ll end with a couple of Chilean wines that should be on your radar on January 19th. For you value seekers, check out the Bisquertt 2010 La Joya Reserve Merlot ($13.95 – #301440) with its typically Chilean minty aromas and flavours of sweet blackberry, blueberry, mocha and spice (****). Step it up a notch to the Valdivieso 2009 Single Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon ($19.95 – #312769). It too might start out with that typically Chilean mintiness but then overwdelivers on dark fruit and has a terrific juicy core that’ll keep you coming back for more. This is just one lovely wine to pull out with beef stew or other hearty midwinter fare (**** 1⁄2).
That’s it for January. Check out my weekly selections(s) at www.ottawalife.com