Vinho Verde Alert

Monção is the most northerly sub-region of the Vinho Verde DOC, which in turn
is in the most northerly province of Portugal on the frontier with Galicia. As this
terroir is also bordered by the damp, western coastal climate, the grapes grown
among the forested hillsides which line these misty valleys – are fast maturing,
white wine varieties. Moreover, the grapes are necessarily grown in an overhead
canopy style, that promotes good air circulation, lessening the possibility of fungal
disease which can be more prevalent with these elevated moisture levels.

This week’s recommended vintner is Adega Cooperativa Regional de Monção,
based in the heart of Melgaço – a historical town whose intriguing stone walls
provide both the bottle’s namesake and graphic. Over the past several decades
in particular, they’ve achieved an enviable reputation as a consistent producer
of high quality wine – despite the numerous variables involved in sourcing grapes
from 1,700 individual growers, each of whom contributes from vine plots that
are typically only 2 acres or less.

Becoming a seasonal tradition, early springtime now sees DéClassé promoting
a Vinho Verde, though this year the LCBO release has come out a touch later.
This so-called ‘green wine’ (more likely to mean ‘young’) is built around a blend of
2 noble grape varieties: the indigenous, Portuguese Trajadura (15%) along with
the somewhat-more aromatic Alvarinho (85%). The latter has a distant Spanish
heritage from across the border – providing the characteristic spritziness and
contributing a slightly higher level of alcohol than is the norm for this delightful
wine style. Spring has sprung, so celebrate by uncorking some of this very bright
bottled sunshine to enjoy alongside patio brunch-fare!

Muralhas

MURALHAS DE MONÇÃO VINHO VERDE 2012
VINTAGES – LCBO Product #80374 | 750 mL bottle
Price $ 14.95
12% Alcohol/Vol.
Sugar Content Descriptor: D

Made in: Monção e Melgaço, Portugal
By: Adega Coop. Regional de Monção
Release Date: Apr 26, 2014

Tasting Note
This refreshing wine has aromas of ripe peach and apricot coupled with apple
flavours and a pleasing acidity and minerality. A natural compliment for seafood
of all kinds, also try with white meats, pasta and light cream or pesto sauces.

Cab Sauvignon Reserva Alert

Founded in the 1870’s, Bodegas Torres has over the course of 140 years or
so, been the major driving force in putting Spain’s now-famous Penedès region
on the international wine-making map. Numerous impediments along the way,
including the partial destruction of the winery during the civil war (1936-39),
have inspired and motivated the evolution of this vintner’s practices away from
simply being a bulk wine supplier to now thriving in the current status as a
renowned bottler of vintage offerings in 50 different styles – though many of
these will only be produced in appropriately good harvest years.

The Torres Family has been based in the town of Vilafranca del Penedès since
its inception as a company and has progressively expanded its holdings to over
1,700 hectares of vineyard growing at 3 levels of successively higher elevation:
coastal, central and high. The harvested fruit is vinefied and allowed to slowly
mature in the more than 2O,OOO barrels that are stored in stacks along an
impressive 2 kilometers of underground galleries!

Wine has been cultivated on the Mediterranean shores of the Iberian Peninsula
since the Phoenician period, though for this week’s benchmark, Reserva grade
red, we have Miguel A. Torres to thank for the contemporary vision of introducing
Cabernet Sauvignon to Penedès during the 1960’s and 70’s; a time when only
local, obscure white wine varieties were the norm. Along with promotion of the
French ‘emperor of red varieties’, an additional innovation came in the choice of
using indigenous Tempranillo grapes as a blending partner, better-known in the
Catalonian vineyards southwest of Barcelona as Ull de Llebre (hare’s eye).

A perennial listing in the LCBO’s Vintages Essentials catalogue, this remarkable
value is available year-round, though for the next week or so, it’s sale-priced so
as to make way for the upcoming vintage; an opportune time to reevaluate the
quality of Spanish wine and this bottle would be the ideal starting point!

Gran Coronas

TORRES GRAN CORONAS CABERNET SAUVIGNON RESERVA (V)
VINTAGES – LCBO Product #36483 | 750 mL bottle
13.5% Alcohol/Vol.
Sugar Content Descriptor: D
Limited Time Offer
Was: $ 19.00
Now: $ 18.00
Until Apr 27, 2014

Made in: Penedès, Spain
By: Miguel Torres S.A.,
Release Date: Apr 18, 2013

Tasting Note
With a deep red hue, this dense and silky-rich red imparts aroma and flavours
of cherry, plum, red current and characteristic coffee, vanilla bean and leather
notes – that tend to arise from its slightly extended period of barrel ageing. It’s
perfect with charcuterie, cheeses, pasta with lemon cream sauce, vegetarian
paella, as well as, filet mignon, roast chicken, grilled lamb.

Côtes du Rhône Blanc Alert

Continuing in the focus on lesser-appreciated white wine styles that offer up
an engaging alternative to Sauvignon, Chardonnay and Pinot Grigio, this week’s
DéClassé recommended bottling is a reintroduction of Côtes du Rhône Blanc.
This distinctive version is produced by the Perrin Family who are unfortunately,
frequently mistaken as a bulk wine producer. They are actually a storied, local
vintner (currently 2 brothers) building on a legacy of a century of wine making.
180 hectares of vineyard including their Château de Beaucastel, are situated
between the Ouvèze and Aigues rivers in south-central France near Cairanne
and Joquieres. Five generations onward, the family owned winery has traditions
spanning several centuries. The current holdings represent steady, progressive
investments made since the early 1900’s that have with careful management
– now reached their full potential and terroir distinctiveness.

This is a fairly typical Rhône blend of unoaked, aromatic white varieties including
50% Grenache Blanc offering an acidic base, 20% Viognier and an equal parts
mix of Marsanne, Roussanne adding both aroma and texture. This combination
of grape characteristics coupled with bio-dynamic, unobtrusive wine-making
techniques, results in a crisp, fresh, medium bodied white that’s easy-drinking,
as well as, extremely versatile with food pairings.

This bottling is ready to drink now, but also cellarable for another couple more
years. Don’t over-chill, so as not to lose the depth of flavour available here. This
might be a refreshing add to your upcoming, Easter brunch event.

Perrin Fils Cotes Du Rhone Blanc

PERRIN & FILS RÉSERVE CÔTES DU RHÔNE BLANC 2012
VINTAGES – LCBO Product #499509 | 750 mL bottle
Price $ 14.95
13.0% Alcohol/Vol.
Sugar Content Descriptor: XD

Made in: Rhône, France
By: Perrin & Fils
Release Date: Apr 12, 2014

Tasting Note
Dry, very fresh and nicely balanced with tropical fruit, stone fruit and almond
aromas and flavours. Try serving as apéritif or with pasta dishes and pan-fried
chicken, steamed mussels, clams or grilled fish.

Dão Blend Alert

In the reputational shadow of the better-known Portuguese wine making regions
of Alentejo and Douro, the rich offerings from the Dão are rightfully beginning to
gain more notoriety for sublime quality and consistently accessible price-points.
A case in-point, is this week’s DéClassé recommended Colheita 2010: product
of the wine-making vision of Manuel Viera, who draws on some of the very best
vine stock on the 100 hectares in the Quinta dos Carvalhais estate.

Some geographic keys to this successful terroir is that the vineyards of Dão are
surrounded on 3 sides by the Serra da Estrela, Serra do Caramulo and Serra da
Nave Mountains that offer protection from uncertain swings of Atlantic weather
systems to the west and harsh continental climate to the east. The soils here are
primarily crushed granite mixed with sand and clay. Tending to yield grapes with
fairly high levels of acidity, this provides the wine with a brightness to balance-off
the otherwise already supple, dense fruit.

A full-bodied blend built on the Touriga Nacional grape (83%), Alfrocheiro (13%)
and Tinta Roriz (4%), this has spent 12 months maturing in a combination of
French and American Oak ‘hogsheads’ (60gl. barrels). In part, these indigenous
grape varieties reference why Portuguese wine continues to display a distinct
character of ‘somewhereness’, contrary to creeping homogenization elsewhere.

As with all good Dão reds, this wine has excellent ageing potential and will hold
its prime drinking condition for up to 10 years. So, stock up on this vintage year
– winner of the 2012 International Wine & Spirit competition’s Quality Award.

Quinta Dos Carvalhais

QUINTA DOS CARVALHAIS COLHEITA 2010
VINTAGES – LCBO Product #13474 | 750 mL bottle
Price $ 17.95
13.5% Alcohol/Vol.
Sugar Content Descriptor: XD

Made in: Dão, Portugal
By: Sogrape Vinhos
Release Date: Mar 29, 2014

Tasting Note
Leading with intriguing, aromatic hints of vanilla and cinnamon, this bottling is
loaded with lush fruits, balanced off by the dry, savoury tannins. As an almost
full-bodied red, its best served with game dishes, rich stews and buttery cheese.