Pinot Gris Alert

Pinot Gris is a white wine grape that originated in the neighbouring vineyards of
France’s Burgundy, then was proliferated around Europe – notably popularized
in Italy in the latter part of the 20th century where it’s known as Pinot Grigio.
Derived from the larger Pinot family of grapes, this pink-skinned version with low
acidity and relatively high sugar levels does very well in cooler growing conditions
such as Alsace and across the border around Baden, Germany.

Dating to the early 1700’s, the family winemaking estate of Joseph Cattin has
been based in the heart of the Alsatian vineyards south of Colmar, between the
villages of Voegtlinshoffen and Hattstatt. This storied region on the west bank
of the Upper Rhine near the German border has excelled at cool-weather grape
styles since the Middle Ages. The namesake of the current estate, Joseph, was
an early 20th century pioneer in combating the Phylloxera pest which did so much
damage throughout Europe and beyond. Apart from continuing the development
and expansion of what was then a modest 7 hectare property, he also studied
and subsequently developed vine grafting techniques which ultimately became
the viticultural model for many Alsatian growers to overcome the blight.

Later generations expanded the estate to over 50 hectares, as well as, engaged
numerous local growers to cultivate according to the family’s exacting standard.
With most of the combined vineyards sheltered in among the south-east facing
foothills of the Vosges mountains, these terroirs of the Pinot Gris AOC d’Alsace
with their highly variable soils and moderate climate help the vines yield a broad
range of early ripening fruit with well-rounded character.

This 2012 offering won Gold at the 2013 Concours Général Agricole de Paris
– this win being a follow-on to numerous medal accolades for previous vintages.

Pinot Gris

VINTAGES – LCBO Product #196956 | 750 mL bottle
Price $ 16.95
13% Alcohol/Vol.
Sugar Content Descriptor: D

Made in: Alsace, France
By: Cattin Freres
Release Date: August 30, 2014

Tasting Note
As is more typical with this wine style in an Alsatian version, it’s richer than its
Italian cousins with aroma and flavour notes of stone fruit, accented by hints of
almond and honey. Try serving this with a broad range of vegetable-based dishes,
pasta and cream sauces, or as an apéritif with foie-gras.

Petite Sirah alert

Mexican winemaking tradition is built on a historical foundation dating to early
in the 1520’s. Begun by and under the direction of the conquistadors, these
vineyards of ‘New Spain’ eventually became so successful that exports from
Spain to the Americas dwindled. In 1699, in response to the loss of revenues,
Spain’s King Charles II decided to prohibit all wine production in the colonies,
except for the making of a supply for the Church! This prohibition stayed in force
until 1821, finally only ending with Mexico’s independence from colonial rule.
Many missionaries refused to abide by this royal edict and in quiet defiance, they
continued to produce wine locally on a small-scale. Particularly significant in the
region was the work of Jesuit priest Juan Ugarte, who’s credited with planting
the first vines in Baja California when he arrived at the Loretto mission in 1701.

Since then, L.A. Cetto has become Mexico’s most successful exporting winery,
drawing on 1,200 hectares in the Valle de Guadalupe and continues to build on
the expertise and craft provided by its namesake Don Angelo Cetto – an Italian
immigrant who arrived in 1924. Following DéClassé’s recommendation of the
2011 vintage, this medium-bodied red from Anno 2012 again displays that soil,
climate and evolving skill in the vineyards of the arid Baja Peninsula is resulting
in highly competitive alternatives to the much-pricier offerings being produced
just across the border to the north.

Nonetheless, this varietal wine does owe its heritage to California’s Napa Valley
in the 1880’s, where the source grape was first imported and proliferated as a
variety which could resist mildew. In directly referencing the diminutive size of its
berries, early planters confused the vine for a Syrah clone, naming it (aptly, they
thought) ‘Petite Sirah’. Though still subject to continuing, vinicultural speculation,
it is now generally recognized as a variation of the French parent vine ‘Durif’.

With its attendant, naturally high levels of both tannins and acidity, it’s inherited
the ability to age and develop an even richer complexity – but is fully ready now.

L.A. Cetto 2011

VINTAGES – LCBO Product #983742 | 750 mL bottle
Price $ 11.95
13.5% Alcohol/Vol.
Sugar Content Descriptor: XD

Made in: Baja California, Mexico
By: L.A. Cetto
Release Date: Jun 22, 2014

Tasting Note
This earthy, spicy style of wine with formidable tannins and vanilla oakiness is an
ideal partner to serve slightly chilled with hearty and savoury dishes of all sorts
including ratatouille, fajitas, grilled mushrooms, peppers, beef or lamb.

Monastrell Alert

In the southeastern corner of Spain, not far from Valencia, the emerging region
of the Yecla DO is producing some highly distinctive wines crafted by using both
newer and traditional wine-making methods. With the beginning of a viticulture
dating back to the Phoenician period, followed by Roman development and finally
a near-contemporary golden period in the 18th century, the region’s reputation is
being re-energized by a generation of younger vintners engaged in mastering this
difficult terrain. Low organic content soils and arid conditions, counter-intuitively,
are yielding up very characterful grapes and their resulting wines.

Ramón Castaño, subsequently his 3 sons and now international consumers are
reaping rewards from the investment that began in the 1950’s and then slowly
began coming to fruition in the 80’s – with a shift away from bulk wine production
to the pursuit of quality bottlings based on the strength of local varieties.

To create this 2012 vintage of their special, limited production Solanera line,
Bodega Castaño is blending 70% Monastrell (better known in neighbouring
France as Mourvèdre) with 15% splashes of Cab Sauvignon and Garnacha
Tintorera (Grenache). As suggested in the translation of the wine name’s byline
Viñas Viejas, the fruit is being drawn from some of the vineyard’s oldest, most
mature vines. The unfiltered wine is then bottled after aging for 10 months in a
balanced combination of French and American oak barrels.

Monastrell is the star here and is so in spite of requiring a significantly longer
period of grape cluster maturation, often meaning that harvest doesn’t take
place until mid-October – though this does translate into a broad flavor profile
requiring less help from other varieties to round out the recipe.

After reading this introduction, check the LCBO’s online search engine for local
availability of this limited release, then immediately sprint to the nearest location
and buy as much as you can afford – it will happily cellar for another 2- 4yrs.


VINTAGES – LCBO Product #276162 | 750 mL bottle
Price $ 17.00
14% Alcohol/Vol.
Sugar Content Descriptor: XD

Made in: Yecla, Spain
By: Bodegas Castaño
Release Date: August 30, 2014

Tasting Note
Try serving with richer food fare such as beef ribs, barbeque pork shoulder,
lentils, wild rice and shitake or portabello mushrooms. Also with dishes spiced
with rosemary and thyme.