Cab Sauvignon Alert

Drawing on fruit harvested from vines originating as French root-stock, coupled
with the relative softness imparted by a collection of 400 French oak barriques,
this neo-Bordeaux blended red of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cab Franc
nonetheless does impart the unique character of Bulgaria’s verdant vineyards.
Here in the Danube Plain wine growing region west of Sofia, in the tiny village of
Nisovo with its diminutive population of 120, the impressive underground cellar
of this vintner vies for attention only with a nearby rock monastery and 70 large
stone crosses of the reputed Templar graves mixed into the Roman cemetery.

It’s a historic and colourful context for what quizzically remains undiscovered,
yet very rich and prolific wine country. This is partially explained by the reality
that Bulgaria, being a key component of the former Soviet Union, directed most
of its premium exports to Russia and only now is gaining an improved reputation
in western markets for offerings other than the unfortunate flood of inexpensive
and unremarkable bulk wine that it released in the 1980’s. Fortunately for us,
this changing attitude of quality vs. quantity consciousness by Bulgarian vintners
continues to translate into modest price-points for their much more exceptional
wines – a case in point is the week’s DéClassé featured, Reserve Grade offering.

Having mostly been planted in the 1960’s to replace less-remarkable or archaic
varieties, these vineyards, blessed with some of the geographic benefits of being
situated on the same latitude as Bordeaux and Tuscany – are now fully mature.
Coupled with updated wine-making techniques that includes planned reduction in
yields in favour of more-concentrated fruit, the revitalized and dynamic wineries
of ‘Thrace’ are now creating modern wines that fully deserve the attention, the
appreciation and the votes of confidence by discerning buyers like you!

Horse Valley

VINTAGES – LCBO Product #363929 | 750 mL bottle
Price $ 16.95
13.5% Alcohol/Vol.
Sugar Content Descriptor: XD

Made in: Danubian Plain, Bulgaria
By: Wine Union JSC
Release Date: Feb 15, 2014

Tasting Note
This is a medium-bodied, smooth and fulfilling red with some classic flavour and
aroma notes of cherry, vanilla and spice. Try serving with heartier food fare such
as roasts, game, ratatouille and gnocchi with meat sauces.

Syrah Alert

AP Pic Saint-Loup is both a designated wine-making appellation and monolithic
limestone ridge rising up above the surrounding, relatively wild lands covered in
fragrant vegetative scrub (locally known as ‘garrigue’) – including an abundance
of thyme, rosemary, juniper and indigenous, wild grape vines sprawling across
13 municipalities and about 5800 hectares.

20 km inland from the Mediterranean shores of Southern France, this region
lies within the province of Languedoc and is a transition point from coastal plain
to the higher, inland plateau. The resulting character sees a split into 2 differing
climate zones/terroirs: one, allowing the heat-loving grapes such as Mourvèdre
to grow at lower altitude; the other, encourages Syrah and Grenache to thrive
further up. For this week’s DéClassé recommended bottling, it’s a 60%/40%
blend of the latter varieties. In both cases, the conditions conspire to yield fruit
that’s more elegant and somewhat more refined than from the nearby, hotter
plains. In most cases though, the offerings from Midi remain a bargain-hunters
treasure with beautiful, earthy and complex wine available at modest prices.

Ever since the Roman invasion of Gaul about 2,000 years ago, certain regions
have had a head start, both for developing wine making techniques and in the
establishing of desirable reputations for marketing their output. Remarkably,
this part of France still has the caché of being less-discovered territory where
vintners and consumers are being rewarded by the continuing elevation of their
standards and the exploration of modernized techniques.

As you are now also ‘in-the-know’ about this Gold Medal winner at the Concours
de Grands Vins du Languedoc-Roussillon in 2012, hit the store now, as it’s
likely to sell out within another couple of days!

Domaine Lambrusques

VINTAGES – LCBO Product #354142 | 750 mL bottle
Price $ 17.95
13.5% Alcohol/Vol.
Sugar Content Descriptor: XD

Made in: Midi, France
By: Les Vins Aujoux Sas
Release Date: Feb 15, 2014

Tasting Note
This medium to full-bodied wine is a smooth display of dark fruit flavours with
some of the expected, subtle notes of mocha, spice and pepper. Try this with
rack of lamb, risotto of all sorts, pasta bolognese and hard cheeses.

Maceratino Alert

Anchored around a renovated villa in the verdant rolling hills that characterize
the commune of Macerata is the Cantine Sant’Isidora: an estate that’s part of
the lesser-known wine-making zone DOC Colli Maceratesi Ribona. A somewhat
obscure grape variety Maceratino (aka Ribona) provides this sub-region of the
Le Marche with its moniker. The late-maturing and high yielding variety creates
fragrant clusters of golden fruit and is one of the indigenous white wine vines
thriving here between the Apennine mountains and central Italy’s Adriatic coast.

Farming on a relatively modest vineyard plot of thirteen hectares, the winery’s
soils which surround the ancient monastery originally built by Franciscan friars,
are indeed blessed due to their Argillaceous limestone nature. With abundant
clay and calcium carbonate, this composition and temperate maritime climate
contribute greatly to create an excellent grape-growing terroir.

Moreover, as Le Marche continues to be overshadowed (happily) by some of its
neighbours such as better-known Tuscany, price-points remain proportionally
lower and there’s somewhat less pressure to replace near-arcane varieties like
this week’s DéClassé-recommended offering with commercial grapes such as
Chardonnay and Pinot Grigio – though a few other local stars like Verdicchio and
Pecorino are gaining ground and popularity.

Surprisingly, having only been aged in stainless steel holding tanks for 6 months,
with a scant several more in bottle, this delightful, fresh, medium-bodied white
will hold its crispness in cellar for at least 2 more years (up to 5 in fact). So try
some of this noteworthy vintage before someone decides that this delicate, yet
deeply flavourful and versatile wine style is no longer in vogue!

Isidoro Pausula

VINTAGES – LCBO Product #362947 | 750 mL bottle
Price $ 15.95
12.5% Alcohol/Vol.
Sugar Content Descriptor: XD

Made in: Marche, Italy
By: Società Agricola Pinto
Release Date: Feb 1, 2014

Tasting Note
Though listed as an extra dry wine, this does lightly hint at a touch of honeyed
sweetness along with its supple blend of stone and citrus fruits. It’s equally at
home served alone, as apéritif with Pecorino cheese, or try with Porchetta,
most Indian dishes and anything prepared with Chanterelle mushrooms.

Shiraz Alert

Here in Australia’s Limestone Coast wine region, 300km south of Adelaide, the
Bryson Family has a 5 generation-long farming tradition that for the past 50 yrs.
or so has been focused on producing premium-grade red and white wine grapes
cultivated on their own rootstock – that’s an impressive, additional challenge to
take on as a grower. More often than not, vintners will purchase rootstock from
nurseries that specialize in the complex grafting and nurturing of young vines. To
undertake this knowledgeable labour is an indication that every detail matters in
the production of wines for the signature line aptly known as Jip Jip Rocks!

The estates’s 190 hectares of vineyard are located in the beautiful and historic
Padthaway Valley, home to the unusual, bulbous-like rock formations that litter
the landscape. Among many desirable attributes at work in this terroir, including
sun-drenched exposures in daytime offset by the cool maritime breezes at night,
are the prized Terra Rosa soils. Often associated with the Mediterranean basin
and Italy in particular, this composition of ancient, weathered limestone results
from the residual clay and non-soluble rock becoming oxidized (rusting), yielding
up the characteristic reddish colour – imparting a bountiful supply of essential
minerals, as well as, providing excellent drainage to the vine’s roots.

This week’s DéClassé-recommended bottling of 100% Shiraz has spent a year
in a deftly rotated combination of new and older American and French oak barrels
then another 15 months in bottle to get to its current level of maturity. Though
ready to go now, with youthful fruitiness still at the forefront, this could continue
to develop on your rack for several more years. If you like your red wines on the somewhat voluptuous side – then don’t hesitate to buy a bunch!

Jip Jip Rocks

VINTAGES – LCBO Product #673897 | 750 mL bottle
Price $ 16.95
14.5% Alcohol/Vol.
Sugar Content Descriptor: XD

Made in: South Australia, Australia
By: Bryson Family
Release Date: Feb 1, 2014

Tasting Note
Apart from classic notes of cherry, this also incorporates chocolate and mocha
coffee. Though spicy on the nose, the oak is nonetheless very well-incorporated.
Try serving this with your Sunday night roast pork or beef, with hearty stews,
casseroles or mature cheeses.