Cannonau Alert

Founded in 1899 by two intrepid travelling immigrants who originally hailed from
Piedmont in the north-western corner of the Italian mainland, Eriminio Sella and
Edgardo Mosca provide the namesake for the century old Sella & Mosca winery.
The wine loving pair eventually arrived on the shores of Sardinia, second largest
island in the Mediterranean and quickly set to work establishing what has now
become one of the largest vineyard estates in Europe. The sprawling landscape
of 1,200 acres, just inland from the historic port city of Alghero, is purposefully
punctuated by extensive plantings of Oleander, Maritime Pine, Eucalyptus shrub
and Palms in order to maintain the property’s admirable level of bio-diversity.

For this week’s DéClassé recommended bottling of Cannonau dI Sardegna,
the grape is Cannonau, better known elsewhere as Grenache, Garnacha or
Garnaxa. Traceable to the very early Middle Ages, Sardinians proudly claim that
this popular variety is indigenous to the island and was then proliferated about
the Mediterranean basin during the rule of the Kings of Aragon. Now among the
the most widely planted grapes in both the old and new wine growing world, this
version does have a distinct character due to the Sardinian terroir that includes
a unique combination of a warm climate with coastal clay and sand soils. Here,
vines are cultivated in a novel bush style rather than along the more traditional
trellis method, which with the benefit of the Grecale wind, tempers the growing
conditions and helps to minimize damage by insects and other biological pests
such as the Botrytis mold.

This Reserva-grade offering from 2010 has been aged for 2 years in very large
Slavonian Oak barrels. Renowned and much sought after for their tight-grained
characteristic, these vessels impart a more subtle accent of wood to the flavour
profile of a wine that’s best served alongside hearty foods. As an LCBO Vintages
‘Essentials’ listing, it’s on shelves year-long at consistent stock levels – so, should
it become one of your go-to favourites, it will be readily available.

Connau di Sardegna

VINTAGES – LCBO Product #425488 | 750 mL bottle
Price $ 17.95
13.5% Alcohol/Vol.
Sugar Content Descriptor: XD

Made in: Sardinia, Italy
By: Sella & Mosca
Release Date: Dec. 1, 2014

Tasting Note
This is a fairly traditional, Ruby coloured, medium-bodied wine with a good
complexity of red berry, fruit-forward flavours that will nicely compliment
red meat dishes, pork ribs, game of all sorts, pâté and strong cheeses.

Picpoul Alert

Pinet is a small coastal municipality in southwest France situated nearby to the
edge of the saltwater Thau Lagoon. Though only having a modest population of
around 1300, this is nonetheless the heart of the Picpoul de Pinet AOC. As
one of the proud members of this vibrant, historically rich, wine-producing region,
the Ormarine winery is a co-operative dating to the early 1920’s. This era also
saw the rebirth of other local vineyards that had to painstakingly recover from
the widespread decimation of their plantings by the Phylloxera pest earlier on.

Ormarine’s wine-growing area, within sight of the lapping shores and cooling sea
breezes of the Mediterranean, is a unique chalky-clay plateau rich in limestone,
quartz gravel and otherwise covered with Garrigue. This coastal vegetation is
made up of an assortment of small aromatic bushes, which like the local grapes,
have gradually adapted to thrive in the near-drought climate of summertime.
These growing conditions are fortuitously punctuated by late season humidity,
thereby encouraging the fruit to plump up, reaching full maturity before harvest.

A favourite style of the Emperor Napoleon III, these premium wines result from
the somewhat obscure, golden skinned grape originally called Piquant-Paul, later
as Picapulla and finally as Piquepoul. Translating as ‘stings the lip’, the moniker
references naturally high levels of acidity and mineral accents that distinctively
characterize this ancient variety. Used to create a dry and citrus-scented style
of varietal white wines, they are a perfect complement to shellfish as the fruit’s
acidity balances-off the saltiness. Generally food-friendly, Picpoul is also very
satisfying alone as a well-chilled apéritif offering with chocolates!


VINTAGES – LCBO Product #525287 | 750 mL bottle
Price $ 12.95
12.5% Alcohol/Vol.
Sugar Content Descriptor: XD

Made in: Midi, France
By: La Cave de l’Ormarine
Release Date: Jan. 24, 2015

Tasting Note
A very lively wine style with lemony overtones and pleasant, refreshing grapefruit
flavor notes. Hints of minerality and the tangy finish make for an ideal partner to
oysters, crab, mussels, grilled fish or rich cheeses and charcuterie.

Graciano Alert

Bodegas y Viñedos Ilurce, representing 4 generations of diligent labour, is
a family company originally founded by Grandfather Amador Escudero in 1940
shortly after the Spanish Civil War ended. Their property in the Baja district, one
of 3 sub-regions of La Rioja that also includes Alta and Alavesa, has significant
plantings of old vine Graciano grapes on their 60 hectares of chalky, alluvial soil
– with most of these mature vineyards now averaging at least 40 years of age.

More typically, this highly regarded region’s wines are built around Tempranillo,
with Garnacha, Graciano and Mazuelo(Carignan) varieties incorporated in small
quantities as blending components, adding aroma, body or flavour depth. Now,
under the nervy and innovative guidance of younger Spanish vintners, Graciano
is experiencing a renaissance as an excellent varietal wine on its own, despite
its commercial liabilities of being notoriously low-yielding and mildew susceptible.

The wine trade in the La Rioja region is both storied and in a state of transition.
Apparently, the earliest mention of viticulture is preserved in a document known
as ‘Carta de población de Longares’ (Letter to the settlers of Longares) dating
to 1063 with the first legal recognition of Rioja wine bestowed in 1102 by the
King of Navarra and Aragon. In terms of its relative quality and practices, local
wine merchants have a long history of establishing Bodegas to market wines
made from intermixed fruit supplied by approx. 20,000 growers, in turn drawn
from the harvests throughout all 3 sub-regions. More recently, to better typify
its wine styles and output, Bodegas are becoming more discerning and are now
beginning to source grapes from only single zones in these allowable regions.

This week’s DéClassé recommended bottle is consistent with the latter practice
and results in an over-achieving table wine that defines exceptional value. Also,
having spent about 11 months in French Oak, it has sufficient structure to age
well in the cellar for at least another 2 – 5yrs. – meaning you won’t have to rush
through the second or third bottle that you bought after drinking the first.

Rio Madre

VINTAGES – Product #354753 | 750 mL bottle
Price $ 14.95
14.5% Alcohol/Vol.
Sugar Content Descriptor: XD

Made in: Rioja, Spain
By: Bodegas Y Vinedos Ilurce
Release Date: Jan 10, 2015

Tasting Note
Dark fruits lend notes of black cherry, blackberry, pomegranate and a pleasant
touch of licorice. Try serving this medium-bodied and slightly spicy wine with beef
tenderloin, steak frites, chorizo and lentil stew or with strong cheeses.

Primitivo Alert

Primitivo’s name is derived from the combination of several Latin terms, loosely
translating in meaning as ‘the first to ripen’. The grape variety also has a popular
relative that’s cultivated and flourishing in California’s vineyards called Zinfandel.
After much debate and speculation, viticulturalists have finally determined that
the near genetic twins are descendent from the Croatian parent grape Crljenak
Kastelanskj (aka Plavina). The Italian clonal version featured here in this bottling,
is lighter-bodied, somewhat drier and significantly price-competitive with almost
all of the unjustifiably, overpriced American ‘Zins’, making for a very satisfying
combination of value and restraint after the holiday feasting!

Established in 1921, three generations of vintners at Varvaglione Vigne & Vini
have developed the brand into one of the premier, exporting producers from the
Puglia region after an initial history of focusing on bulk wine production aimed at
local consumption. Framed between the Ionian and Adriatic seas, the 400km
long coastal area is punctuated by the Salento Peninsula, often referred to as
the ‘heel’ of south-eastern Italy. Its astonishing level of wine-making output and
ever-rising quality is built on the ancient traditions first begun by the enterprising
Phoenicians, then followed by Spartans who settled here in 706BC from Greece.

First discovered by Benedictine monk Filippo Francesco Indellicati as a wild vine growing within the monastery gardens in the 17th century, various varieties
of Primitivo were proliferated throughout this suitable agricultural zone, arriving in
Taranto Province 100 years later. Here, the highly distinctive red soil character
results from the blending of calcareous fossils and iron oxide mixed with the clay
and silt loam base. Specifically, it’s the iron content that promotes soil drainage,
contributing to almost perfect conditions for the grapevine to thrive.

This week’s DéClassé recommendation is a well made, entry level example of
what is on offer from this sun-drenched region – at an attractive price-point, for
a limited time only. Buy several to nicely compliment your casual dining.

12 e Mezzo Primitivo

VINTAGES – LCBO Product #395053 | 750 mL bottle
Price $ 13.95
12.5% Alcohol/Vol.
Sugar Content Descriptor: XD

Made in: Puglia, Italy
By: Vigne & Vini Varvaglione
Release Date: January 10, 2015

Tasting Note
A very fruity palate typical of the grape style with aromas of mixed berries,
plums, spice and vanilla. Try with some classic winter comfort foods such as
braised brisket, veal scaloppini, pasta Bolognese or a Neapolitan-style pizza.