Grüner Veltliner Alert

At home in the main estate in Rohrendorf, the Klosterkeller (cloistral cellar) in
Siegendorf and Schlossweingut (castle winery) of the Sovereign Order of the
Knights of Malta in Mailberg, Austria’s Lenz Moser vintners are building on a
legacy that dates to early in the 11th century! More recently, they’ve been hard
at work since the mid 20th century – progressively establishing high production
standards for a broad range of white and red wines. Among many innovations is
the required commitment by the contract growers to the practices of organic
fertilizing and the natural bio-control of pests and weeds – all aided by the use of
an innovative vine training method called high-trellising.

One of the most important grape varieties grown in Austria, making up approx.
30% of all planted vineyard areas, Grüner Veltliner is gradually regaining a profile
internationally due to a marked increase in popularity and availability on the export
market. It’s an extremely fertile variety that’s a hybrid offspring of parent Traminer
and St. Georgen grapes and requires rigorous pruning and yield regulation so as to maintain its distinct character. It thrives in the deep ‘loess’ (loose, wind-deposited sediment) soils found here in Niederösterreich (lower Austria).

Amply demonstrated in this offering is the fact that Austrian vintners deserve
more international appreciation, particularly for their indigenous, varietal wines
such as Blauer Zweigelt and this week’s DéClassé recommended, textured and
well structured Veltliner. If you like somewhat bigger whites such as barrel-aged
Chardonnay or Gewürztraminer, then you’re in for a treat. Go on, at this modest
price-point – dare to give it a well-chilled whirl and be pleasantly surprised!

Lenz Moser

LENZ MOSER PRESTIGE GRUNER VELTLINER 2012
VINTAGES – LCBO Product # 71233 | 750 mL bottle
Price $ 13.95
12.5% Alcohol/Vol.
Sugar Content Descriptor: XD

Made in: Niederösterreich, Austria
By: Lenz Moser Gesselschaft M.B.H.
Release Date: August 30, 2014

Tasting Note
This is a subtly spicy white wine with some pepper and stone fruit notes. Try with
Asian fare such as Thai Kaffir lime-wrapped chicken skewers, spicy Chinese and
Vietnamese dishes. Also pairs well with fish such as snapper and salads or with a
variety of saltier charcuterie and cheese.

Côtes du Rhône Alert

Domaine Le Grand Retour is one of a trio of estates owned and overseen by
the 3 Aubert Brothers, who since 1981 have been forwarding the foundation
and traditions begun by their father. The 150 hectares of this property were
originally established by Algerian immigrants who again left the country for a
time, then returned to find their mature plantings ready to bear wine-making
fruit – hence providing the Domaine’s namesake of ‘the major return’!

Here, due south of neighbouring Burgundy, the Rhône’s abundant vineyards
straddle the river for 125 miles from Vienne in the north: producing red wines
exclusively built on the Syrah grape – to just below Avignon in the south: where
the GSM (Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre) or GSMC (add Carignan) blends are
fashioned. Significant wine-making history here dates back at least to the arrival
of the popes in the Middle Ages with Avignon, more recently, being anointed as
the ‘capital city’ of Rhône wines in 1966.

The DéClassé recommended red this week, is a bold, classic version of a 70%,
20%, 10% GSM extracted from 45yr.-old vine stock rooted in the warm, stony
limestone soils typical of the ‘Plan de Dieu’ sub-region within the larger Côtes
du Rhône Villages appellation. Enjoying a relatively hot and dry, localized climate
that’s ideal for the full maturation of these grape varieties, the geographic plain
which frames this designation of origin encompasses the towns of Jonquieres,
Camaret-sur-Aigues, Violes, as well as, the source of this week’s wine: Travaillan.
Though being a relatively new appellation (having only been created in 2005),
the classification nonetheless indicates the production of better quality wine
than from the fields of the nearby, generic Côtes du Rhône AOC.

This is a secondary release of the same vintage seen on shelves last year at this
time – a Gold Medal winner at the Concours Général Agricole de Paris 2012.

Le Grand Retour

DOMAINE LE GRAND RETOUR PLAN DE DIEU 2011
VINTAGES – LCBO Product #224592 | 750 mL bottle
Price $ 13.95
14.5% Alcohol/Vol.
Sugar Content Descriptor: XD

Made in: Rhône, France
By: Aubert Frères, Prop.-Récolt.
Release Date: Aug 16, 2014

Tasting Note
Dark, silky-smooth with rich fruit and savory notes, the complexity of aromas and
flavours in this bottling exceeds its general pedigree of an ‘entry level’, southern
Rhône wine. Try serving with duck, lamb, stuffed eggplant, bean stew with sage or
strong cheeses.

Vouvray Alert

Overlooking both the river and expansive hillsides of its meandering valley, 130
or so hectares of Château Moncontour make up one of the oldest estates in
the Touraine, a sub-region of the Loire – also known as ‘the garden of France’.
The current building dates back to the Renaissance period, having been built by
King Charles VII. Among many noteworthy tales, including being ravaged by an
unfortunate fire during the revolutionary period, the sculpted, ivy-covered, white
fairytale turrets of the château and its adjacent bramble-lined riverbanks were
prized by 19th century, local French writer: Honoré de Balzac, who featured it in
some of his writings while perhaps savouring the bounty of its vineyards!

Like most Crémants, this week’s very effervescent bottling has been produced in
a double fermentation method known as “méthode Champenoise” – in the late
1980’s though, the term was made proprietary to only wines originating from
within the Champagne region to the north-east. This was justified in order to
guard the distinct typicity of the region but doesn’t necessarily suggest greater
quality. Moreover, highly variable pricing for bona-fide Champagnes tends to be
among the most arbitrary of all wine styles – frequently more informed by what
the market is willing to pay rather than how much effort has been invested by
the vintner. Having said all that, note that this week’s DéClassé recommended
varietal offering from the Vouvray AOC is made with 100% Chenin Blanc
grapes and produced in an equivalent manner known as ‘méthode traditionnelle’.

Moncontour’s current custodial vintners are the Feray Family, who since 1994
have been drawing on numerous small plots dotted throughout the villages of
Vouvray for their Chenin Blanc fruit. Influenced by the limestone and clay soils
found here, this variety has a distinct mineral component along with a naturally
high level of acidity – making it an ideal base for sparkling versions of Vouvray
that are also known as ‘pétillant’. Having spent at least 22 months ageing in
the bottle before disgorgement, final corking and release, this is so modestly
priced that you will chide yourself endlessly for not having bought more before
having to wait again until next August or perhaps even a touch longer!

Chateau Moncontour

CHÂTEAU MONCONTOUR TÊTE DE CUVÉE BRUT VOUVRAY
VINTAGES – LCBO Product #207936 | 750 mL bottle
Price $ 17.95
12% Alcohol/Vol.
Sugar Content Descriptor: D

Made in: Loire, France
By: Château Moncontour
Release Date: August 16, 2014

Tasting Note
Straw yellow colour, apricot aromas, a nutty note and lively, refined mousse
make this a refreshing counterpoint for warm weather and ‘al fresco’ meals.
Try as an apéritif or with lighter fare such as fresh salads, goat cheese, pâté
and seasoned crisps or moderately spicy Asian appetizers.

Barbera Alert

With a history dating to the late nineteenth century, Cantine Giacomo Ascheri
has been doing things their way for some time now. On one level, this means
shying away from the commercial temptation to plant international varieties and
remaining committed to the development of long-standing, indigenous grapes. In
the case of this week’s DéClassé recommendation, this translates as a varietal
bottling of 100% Barbera sourced from their Podere di Rivalta estate between
the communes of La Morra and Verduno – situated at the center of the famed
Piemonte wine-growing region.

Bordered on three sides by the Alps, the region comes by its moniker honestly
‘at the foot of the mountains’. Apart from the featured offering of the Fantonelle
from the Barbera D’Alba DOC, the verdant valleys and plain here produce a wide
range of notable grapes and wine styles including Barolo, Nebbiolo, Dolcetto and
various frothy versions of Asti! 
Food-wise, white Truffles, Porcini mushrooms and
the signature pasta Agnolotti provide a 
basis for many flavourful pairing options.

In Italy, Barbera is considered to be the quintessential ‘wine of the people’ as it’s
a staple and affordable table wine. With less commercial payoff, it is frequently
assigned to growing in less-desirable plots and as it enjoys fewer advantages of
terroir, it can sometimes be difficult to tame and bring to full maturity. Due to
very unusual though favourable swings in climate during 2011, this example is
nicely rounded and concentrated, demonstrating what’s possible with the grape.
It’s ready to be enjoyed now in a fresh, fruity state or could be allowed to become
more complex with some extra time tucked away. This is a benchmark vintage, so
budget allowing – buy lots and get some of this limited stock now!

Ascheri

ASCHERI FONTANELLE BARBERA D’ALBA 2011
VINTAGES – LCBO Product #982462 | 750 mL bottle
Price $ 17.95
14% Alcohol/Vol.
Sugar Content Descriptor: D

Made in: Piedmont, Italy
By: Ascheri Giacomo
Release Date: August 2, 2014

Tasting Note
Berry, plum, some restrained spice notes and a subtle touch of sweetness
characterize this deep, ruby-red wine. It’s medium-bodied with bright acidity,
so try with roasted meat and game dishes, root vegetables or strong cheeses.

Naoussa Alert

The Naoussa region in Macedonia, apart from its picturesque landscape of
rolling hills overlooking the central plain, now also carries an official wine zone
designation VQPRD – an acronym suggesting the highest standard of quality for
Greek wines which have a distinct, geographic origin. Due in part to the efforts
of the dynamic Boutari vineyard group, this EU-mandated classification is at the
heart of Greece’s gradual reemergence as a significant wine making source,
with varietal Naoussa wine being the current, best-selling premium export from
Greece worldwide. This storied vintner, established in 1879, also has the highly
enviable reputation (and burden) of being elected as one of several ‘Winery of
the year’ by Wine and Spirit magazine for a remarkable, ongoing 17yr. streak!

Here in Northern Greece, this holding is one of six appellations and is
made up of 9 villages including the region’s namesake: Naoussa. These historic
vineyards are located on the sunny, south-east facing slopes of the foothills
surrounding Mount Vermio, where the calcium-rich soils composed of clay and
loam provides the ideal conditions for the Xinomavro grape. Having originated
and thrived here for countless centuries, the vines have frequently fallen in and
out of commercial favour. More recently, under the regional stewardship by
Boutari, this variety is again amply demonstrating its desirability for producing
big-bodied red wines with the potential to age well and develop added complexity.

Often compared to Italy’s Nebbiolo grape used for the making of Barolo wines,
this vintage is still young and could use some more time to settle down. It is an
excellent example though of a noteworthy, promising bottling that can be had for
a song now, then reward 2-5yrs. of cellaring by becoming a smooth and rounded
collector’s item. Buy 3 – try decanting one bottle for several hours to enjoy now,
then put the other 2 away to grace a sumptuous winter’s meal later on in 2016
or, with the exercising of some discipline, wait even a bit little later!

Boutari Naoussa

BOUTARI NAOUSSA 2009
VINTAGES – LCBO Product #23218 | 750 mL bottle
Price $ 13.95
13.5% Alcohol/Vol.
Sugar Content Descriptor: XD

Made in: Naoussa, Greece
By: Jean Boutari & Fils S.A.
Release Date: Aug 02, 2014

Tasting Note
With flavours of vanilla, cocoa, red berry and cherries, it’s both tart and earthy
which is fairly typical of nutty Naoussa style wines. Try serving with grilled meats,
heavier casseroles, porcini risotto and hard cheeses.