Western Cape Rosé

Both a designated coastal wine region and historical centre, the dynamic town of Stellenbosch lies 50km inland of Cape Town in South Africa’s Western Cape province. Three centuries on in time and toil from the first planting of grapevine by Dutch and Huguenot settlers in 1690  — an under-developed plot of land that local farmers had dismissed as vuilplasie (‘dirty little farm’) was gradually converted into a vineyard. Launched with a fledgeling white wine vintage in 1992, the ever-evolving Mulderbosch winery has seen a number of development phases, both in its properties and its wine crafting talent. Star vintner Mike Dubrovnic led the enterprise through a period of expanded profile, and now under Adam Mason’s creative winemaking guidance, it continues to contribute to South Africa’s revival as a reliable source of very affordable, accomplished and terroir-distinctive wines.

This week’s DéClassé featured varietal Rosé is made from the so-called Don of red wine grapes, Cabernet Sauvignon. With distinctively compact blackberries and a thick-skin, Mulderbosch harvests these somewhat earlier than if it were destined to be finished as a full red wine. This particular practice of fashioning Rosé yields naturally higher levels of acidity, minerality, and brightness to the bottled aromas of the fruit. Exploiting a local geographic advantage, their vines are planted in well-drained, valley terrain below the Cape Fold mountain range. The surrounding hills also act as a funnel, directing cooling breezes into the vineyard rows; a critical benefit that counteracts the grape-wilting heat of South African summers.

This impressive 78-hectare farm has come a long way in a quarter century. Along with attaining critical and commercial success, the eco-friendly farming strategies that they’re employing qualify it as Certified Sustainable. Moreover, sections of the property have been dedicated to a conservancy that includes the rehabilitation of wetlands; better ensuring that the biodiversity of indigenous vegetation and wildlife will continue to thrive.

Local rumour has it that, once upon a time, only Mozart was played in the cellar during the cool fermentation processing of the grapes; perhaps imparting some layered finesse and playful sophistication into the developing wine? True or not, a great deal of investment by the vintner has been directed into this attractively priced, and unique bottling – that should translate into you picking up at least 3!

MULDERBOSCH CABERNET SAUVIGNON ROSÉ 2016
VINTAGES – LCBO Product #999821 | 750 mL bottle
Price $ 12.95
13.5% Alcohol/Vol.
Sugar Content Descriptor: D

Made in Coastal Region, South Africa
By: Mulderbosch
Release Date: July 22, 2017

Tasting Note
This is a dry, medium-bodied Rosé that’s full of delightful lip-smacking acidity. With cherry, ripe strawberry and pomegranate flavours, serve this well-chilled to preserve its crispness. Substantial on its own as an apéritif or along with summer citrus-laced salads, Thai spring rolls, sushi or an asparagus quiche.

Niederösterreich Grüner Veltliner

20 centuries ago in one of the newly conquered lands bounded by the Danube River, the legendary Roman military commander, Tiberius, recognized the untapped agricultural potential of its fertile valleys and plains. After having subdued the Celtic and Ligurian tribes who were loosely allied in the kingdom of Noricum, he set about establishing a legionary encampment that would grow into a large and prosperous regional capital, Carnuntum. Apart from mining the ore-rich mountains, which provided high-grade steel weaponry to the empire, the settlements other success was in developing farming estates in nearby territories that eventually included Kamptal (Kamp River Valley). To fulfil a social philosophy that deemed wine to be a daily necessity for all classes of its society, from slave through noble, these ‘provincial Romans’ introduced terraced vineyards as an agricultural innovation. The technology allowed growers to exploit the underused portions of the sloped terrain; expanding the cultivation of indigenous grapes such as the one they termed Veltin; resulting in a significant boost of harvest yields and the local wine supply. In the modern age, this corner of central Europe has become known as Niederösterreich (Lower Austria), and one of the distinctive wines that Austrian vintners have become uniquely expert at is called Grüner Veltliner!

Primarily grown in Austria, Grüner Veltliner (Grew-ner Velt-leen-er) is a flagship white wine variety making up nearly a third of all plantings, with spillover into the neighbouring Czech Republic, Hungary and Slovakia. As a hardy and prolific vine, its suitability to these terroirs is tied to the rich löss (wind-blown soils) that have built up in the geography of ancient volcanic calderas; settling over top of crushed stone beds that provide drainage for mildew-free growing conditions. As of 2009, Austria’s wine laws have evolved to include DAC designations for both Veltliner and Riesling wines in order to clearly distinguish between the regional sources of the grapes and to promote higher quality levels. Additionally, the bottling is graded and priced according to either a ‘Classic’ finishing style of 12.5% abv (with no wood influence) or ‘Reserve’ at 13.5%abv (with some integrated wood allowable). As with this week’s DéClassé recommended Rabl Grüner Veltliner Langenlois 2015, the ‘Classic’ version is somewhat lighter-bodied, unoaked and largely intended to be enjoyed as a fresh, zingy young wine that blooms with food pairing – and it does!

rudolf-rabl

70km north-west of the capital, Vienna, the designated Kamptal DAC wine zone is centred around the Baroque-esq town of Langenlois. Surrounded by forested mountains and ringed by vineyards, this idyllic setting has been home to Weingut Rudolph Rabl for 265 years and counting. In the mid-18th century, 20 hectares of the estate’s land tracts began as a traditional farm with mixed crops and livestock. After adding grapevines, the business remained confined to selling bulk wine in barrel to local innkeepers – up until the early 20th century. In 1986, Rudolf Rabl Junior was enlisted into the family business and progressively entrusted with his father’s passion; ultimately allowing the winery to expand to 80 hectares and bloom into one of the largest estates in the valley. The distinctive icon of a green Raven depicted on Rabl (‘little Raven’) labels marks their line of well-crafted, entry-level wines; consistently offered at an exceptionally modest price-point.

All in all, it’s taken some time for North American markets to embrace white wine styles other than the enduring stars such as Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio and Soave. So, in the spirit of more deeply exploring the horizon of your established tastes, add this varietal wine to your DéClassé recommended list of alternate, characterful dry whites: Sylvaner, Picpoul de Pinet, Tsinandali, Gavi, Pecorino, and Vinho Verde. Consider buying half a case while being reminded that Grüner Veltliner offers the promise of longevity in the bottle; making it a worthy candidate for some short-term cellaring, over the next 2 – 5 years.

RABL GRÜNER VELTLINER 2015
VINTAGES – LCBO Product # | 750 mL bottle
Price $ 14.95
12.5% Alcohol/Vol.
Sugar Content Descriptor: XD

Made in Kamptal, Austria
By: Weingut Rudolph Rabl
Release Date: July 22, 2017

Tasting Note
This is a bright and elegant wine with flavour notes of apple, lemon balm and lime, delicate pepper spice, loads of ripe acidity and an intriguing minerality through the remarkably long finish. As apéritif, serve with Prosciutto crostini, smoked fish, or with mains of veal schnitzel, grilled asparagus and white-sauced artichoke.

Veneto Prosecco Superiore

Historical references to lightly sparkling wines in the Veneto region date to the 1100’s, though these were much sweeter in the 12th century compared to the popular versions being fashioned today. With the burgeoning profile and interest in this delightful wine style, internationally, progressive Italian producers have had to take pro-active steps toward guarding the unique, regional nature of their Spumante. The traditional grape family for the bubbliest of all Italian white wine styles was colloquially known as Prosecco for a very long time; likely to have originated around the namesake town that lies close by to the Slovenian border. The official rebranding of the name to Glera in 2009 now means that these grapevines can be cultivated and marketed in other wine-producing regions in the world with the new designation, but only those wines which specifically originate from DOCG Prosecco and its various sub-regions may be labelled as bonafide Prosecco.



Though the sparkling wines from Italy’s north-eastern corner are distinctive,  the vintners have employed and innovated the French production method called Charmat to achieve their form. After an initial fermentation, the second infusion of yeast continues the converting of sugars and provokes the carbonation that provides the wine with its bubbled froth. This key finishing step is done in large, pressurised Stainless Steel tanks rather than the bottle, and so results in a fresh, crisp fruit flavour with less of the toasted character that’s more typical in its distant, French Crémant cousins.

This week’s feature of Prevedello Asolo Superiore Extra Dry Prosecco 2016 comes from a hillside vineyard around Asolo – the picturesque walled town that lies 40km inland from Venice in Italy’s Veneto-Friuli region. This family-run winery is yet another successful endeavour by Toronto-area restaurateur, France Prevedello, who has diligently been at the forefront of developing several dozen notable eateries since the 1970’s. You can now confidently add Prosecco wine-making to the list of his culinary accomplishment.

Serve well-chilled and keep at a cool temperature while enjoying it in a wider mouthed
goblet rather than in slender stemware. Your brunch guests will appreciate you
having another bottle standing by, brimming with steely fruit – to top them up!

PREVEDELLO ASOLO SUPERIORE EXTRA DRY PROSECCO 2016
VINTAGES – LCBO Product #262881 | 750 mL bottle
Price $ 16.95
11% Alcohol/Vol.
Sugar Content Descriptor: D

Made in Veneto, Italy
By: Prevedello
Release Date: June 24, 2017

Tasting Note
This informal sparkler has an abundance of fresh apple, pear, and white peach, with a mildly nutty finish, wrapped up in a creamy body. Try serving with Brunch food fare or as a spritzy complement to smoked salmon canapes and savoury pastry appetizers.

Loire Sèvre et Maine

Aptly referred to as the ‘Garden of France’, the 630km run of the Loire Valley and its namesake river represents a broad diversity of agricultural zones that produce food crops, flora, orchard fruit, and of course grapevine. With a 2,000-year history that spans early Gaulish, Roman, and then medieval French legacies, the vineyard-lined waterway is punctuated by an array of astonishing Chateaux and was named a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2002. Anchored by the city of Nantes, the western portion that’s closest to the Atlantic is the heartland of Muscadet wine making; marketed under the designation of Muscadet-Sèvre et Maine AOC. Here, a concentration of 23 towns and villages in the watershed lands of the Sèvre River and its Petit Maine tributary output about two-thirds of France’s total for this distinctive, varietal wine style. A combination of volcanic and alluvial soil imparts vital minerals that promote optimal vine growth, and the underlying beds of chalky limestone and gravel provide the required drainage in an often, damp maritime climate. Unsurprisingly, the flinty white wines that are produced under these conditions is a natural compliment to both the river’s abundance of freshwater fish and seafood of the nearby Ocean!

This week’s DéClassé recommendation of Réserve du Chiron Muscadet Sèvre et Maine 2015 is fashioned from 100% Melon de Bourgogne grapes, which is the sole variety used to produce Muscadet. Initially imported by Dutch traders in the 17th century, the plantings around Nantes were primarily used for making ‘brandewijn’ – a distilled wine with added Brandy Spirits. After suffering a particularly hard freeze called the ‘Black Frost’ that killed off most of the region’s vineyards in 1709, King Louis the XIV is reputed to have ordered widespread replanting with a hardier variety then known as ‘Muscadent Blanc’. As a parent grape of the present day ‘Melon de Bourgogne’ cultivar, it has endured many stages of being in and out of commercial favour due to its relatively neutral nature. Somewhat more modern production techniques such as leaving the unfiltered wine stored in tanks on its lees (expired yeasts) over the winter months, the ‘Sur-Lie’ ageing process helps develop additional complexities of flavour, aroma and a creamier texture in the wine.

La Cave du Coudray is demonstrably one of the region’s masters for this inherently lean wine style – evidenced by winning multiple Gold Medals at the Concours des Vins du Val de Loire and the Concours Général Agricole de Paris in 2016. If you’re a seasonal fan of refreshing white wine Spritzers during the warmer weather, then try uncorking a well-chilled Muscadet – and leave out the ice cubes and soda water!

DU CHIRON MUSCADET SÈVRE & MAINE SUR LIE 2015
VINTAGES – LCBO Product #413757 | 750 mL bottle
Price $ 13.95
12.0% Alcohol/Vol.
Sugar Content Descriptor: XD

Made in Loire, France
By: La Cave Du Coudray
Release Date: June 10, 2017

Tasting Note
This pale golden-hued wine is delicately scented with stone fruit and citrus aromas, making for a zippy, mineral-edged wine style built around generous levels of acidity. Try serving with poached sole, stuffed trout, oysters, scallops or a cool crab salad – it’s also pleasing as a chilled apéritif with a lemon slice!

Provençal Rosé

Two and a half millennia’s worth of experiment and refinement in viniculture, give or take a few centuries, surely demonstrates a commitment to getting it right. In these ancient vineyards dotted among the tumbling limestone bluffs and some still-wild scrubland, a colourful panoply of migrant tribes, religious monk orders, dukedoms, kingdoms, and empires have introduced new varieties of grapevine — adapting them as regional cultivars and a diversity of styles. In antiquity, Greek settlers farmed the maritime landscape for 500 years before Caesar strode ashore triumphantly at Marseilles in 49BC. The occupation would endure for four centuries and provide Provence with its modern name derived from the long-held Latin title, Provincia Romana. With the sudden demise of the Western Roman Empire, a succession of Ostrogoths, Visigoths and Germanic Burgondes took turns making their preferred wines before being absorbed into the Kingdom of the Franks in the 8th century. Invasion by North African Berbers, then the rising of Charlemagne’s Carolingian Empire, was followed by a litany of other feudal Frankish or Italianate kingdoms. So it continued throughout the Crusades and Medieval Periods — up until 1481 when Louis XI firmly embraced Provence as a unique territory in the France we know today. Somewhere along the historical way, Provençal winemakers finally settled on the challenges and rewards of becoming the global gold standard for the fashioning of Rosé.

When cultivating grapes, especially Grenache, Syrah, and Cinsault, it’s a blessing in the Côtes de Provence AOP to see 300 days of yearly sunshine; better ensuring that the fruit will have reached peak maturity by harvest. If you’re a local vintner aiming to fashion crisp and refreshing wines from these relatively robust varieties, then it’s also beneficial for the vines to experience a significant cooling-off in the evening as a respite from the stressful, daytime heat. If you’re a painter, then the vista of the Arc Valley, framed by mountains and low-lying hills on 3 sides might be as inspiring as it was to Cezanne in his landscape composition, Mont Sainte-Victoire and the Viaduct of the Arc River Valley.

Call it ‘Provence’s sun-drenched bounty’ and know that it’s plentifully expressed in this week’s DéClassé recommended bottling of Gassier Sables d’Azur Rosé. It’s a classic blend of the grapes listed above, with the Cinsaut adding softness and bouquet to the salmon-pink formulation. As an excellent example of why this charming wine style continues to enjoy a renaissance of appreciation worldwide, it’s attractively bottled in the slender and curvy glass vessel known regionally as a flûte à corset: a playful association to the garment, and shapely effect. What’s not reined-in here is an abundance of delicately layered flavour. Buy 3 (at least)!

GASSIER SABLES D’AZUR ROSÉ 2016
VINTAGES – Product #33621 | 750 mL bottle
Price: $ 16.95
Wine, Rosé Wine
12.5% Alcohol/Vol.
Sugar Content: D

Made in Provence, France
By: Advini
Release Date: May 27, 2017

Tasting Note
Fresh red berry, melon, and sweet citrus zest dominate the aroma and flavours of this dry and vibrant wine. Perfect as an aperitif served alongside Sushi, salads, Prosciutto Crostini and goats’ cheeses or with mains of stuffed Mediterranean peppers, herb-roasted poultry and sweet potato gratin.

Pinet Picpoul Blanc

Characterfully part of the Occitanie region in southwest France, the hamlet of Pinet sits six miles inland from the unusual coastal zone of a saltwater lagoon, the Etang de Thau. In spite of a modest population of 1,300, this is the heart of the Picpoul de Pinet AOC and so has a disproportionately high concentration of winemakers who specialize in the fashioning of Picpoul – once the favoured style for Emperor Napoleon III. Regionally distinctive, this premium white wine is made with a lesser-known, golden-skinned grape originally called Piquant-Paul, later as Picapulla, and finally now, Piquepoul Blanc.

Referencing the grape’s high levels of acidity and mineral accents, Picpoul’s name translates as ‘stings the lip’ – though it doesn’t really, of course! Historically, this lively fruit was blended with another obscure variety, Clairette, creating a tangy wine style called Picardin – millions of liters of which were shipped northwards along the networks of canals to Paris each year. Susceptible to various pests, the vines fell out of vinicultural favour in the late 19th century. Able to thrive in sandy Mediterranean soils, Picpoul Blanc is once again a resurgent variety in the coastal vineyards that surround Pinet.

Pinet is also home to the cooperative Cave de Pomerols. Founded in 1932, this group now boasts 350 growers who tend to over 800 hectares of highly productive vineyards in a landscape that is basically a chalky-clay plateau, rich in limestone, quartz gravel, and otherwise covered with Garrigue. Lining the coast, this indigenous vegetation is made up of small aromatic bushes, which like the local grapes, have gradually adapted to thrive in the near-drought climate of summertime. Though challenging, these growing conditions are fortuitously punctuated by late season humidity, thereby encouraging the fruit to plump up and reach full maturity before harvest.

As in this week’s DéClassé recommended bottling of Beauvignac Picpoul de Pinet 2016, the traditional varietal white wine style is dry and citrus-scented. It also has a long-standing reputation for being a perfect complement to shellfish – with the wine’s acidity balancing the saltiness of the food. However, Picpoul is generally food-friendly, as well as, fulfilling when served alone as an apéritif. Don’t expect a big-bodied white wine here, rather be prepared for a delightful succumbing to its beguiling lightness and verve.

BEAUVIGNAC PICPOUL DE PINET 2016
VINTAGES –LCBO Product #350124 | 750 mL bottle
Price $ 14.95
12.5% Alcohol/Vol.
Sugar Content Descriptor: D

Made in Midi, France
By: Les Costières de Pomérols
Release Date: May 27, 2017

Tasting Note
A very lively wine style with lemony overtones of citrus fruit, pleasantly refreshing grapefruit flavours and a hint of minerality on the tangy finish. It’s an ideal partner with seafood, grilled fish, rich and savoury cheeses or salty charcuterie.

Rioja Garnacha Tinto/Tempranillo

As a signature example of both Spanish modern and old school winemaking methods, this fresh-fruited red represents the vanguard for well-made table wines in Spain’s blossoming, quality revolution. Here in the extremely hot wine country around Alfaro, it’s a desirable combination; deftly pairing innovation with deeply rooted tradition. It is modern in that the updated production style of minimal handling and filtering helps to preserve the brightness of the wine, balanced with a soft and integrated presence of Oak. The old school facets are a blending proportion of 40% Garnacha Tinta (Grenache) into the 60% Tempranillo base, as well as, incorporating small batches of finished wine from the previous vintage (max. 15%). Both are typical in Rioja Baja, the most prolific of the 3 La Rioja sub-regions – home to this week’s DéClassé featured wine from the renowned vintner, Bodegas Palacios Remondo.

Winemaker and visionary figure, Alvaro Palacios, has for some time now been making news in the wine world with his influential strategies of promoting the development of quality over quantity. In 2015 he was the news, having been declared Decanter Man of the Year by the well-regarded journal. It’s a crowning juncture in a key transition period for this cutting edge winery that purposefully dared to cut output from 200,000 cases of unremarkable bulk wine down to 50,000 of refined grades – a business risk that’s now paying off.

La Vendimia (‘the harvest’) is a solid version of a Spanish Joven designation; a decidedly young wine that has been barrel-aged for less than six months. Here on the arid, rocky slopes of Monte Yerga, the Bodega draws fruit from 40 hectares of 10 – 40-year-old vines; grown organically without irrigation, at some of Rioja Baja’s highest altitudes (+550m). Along with the varietal bottling of 100% Tempranillo, famously fashioned in the other two La Rioja sub-regions of Alta and Alavasa, this is as close to a perfect, informal sipping wine that Spain currently produces. By design it’s meant to be enjoyed young and year-on-year it continues to be offered at a fair price-point. That’s still very much the case!

La Vendimia

PALACIOS REMONDO LA VENDIMIA 2015
VINTAGES – Product #674564 | 750 mL bottle
Price $ 16.95
14.0% Alcohol/Vol.
Sugar Content: XD

Made in: Rioja, Spain
By: Bodegas Palacios Remondo
Release Date: May 13, 2017

Tasting Note
Consistently well made, this cherry-coloured, fruit-driven wine reveals aromas of blackberry jam, raspberry and a hint of Garrigue (fragrant, wild Mediterranean shrubs). Enjoy this on its own or with hearty fare such as Ratatouille, lamb ragout, or pretty much most BBQ-roasted dishes.