Syrah Alert

Having begun with the planting of its first vineyards in the so-called new world by
16th-century Spanish conquistadors, Chile’s somewhat surprising 500 year-long
history of making wine coupled with the recent development of new vine growing
regions – continues to impress and amaze. For a time, as of the mid-1800’s, its
output was of a middling grade, aiming to produce reasonably well-made bulk wine
for local markets and consumption. This fact is equally true of many, so-called old
world regions in Europe during the same time period and through to the middle of
the 20th century. Chile though has not simply kept pace with the rise of highly competitive, premium wine production and export, rather 
it has become a leader
on this globalized scene. They’re excellent wine makers!

Revealingly expressed in the often difficult history of the indigenous Mapuche
(earth people), is a reputation for personal courage, strong communal identity
and a fierce and unconquerable spirit. An essence of this carries forward, as
modern Chilean vintners continue to innovatively exploit challenging geography
for agricultural cultivation while demonstrating great concern for sustainability.
Framed between an endless Pacific coastline to the west and Andean peaks to
the east, the regional designation called Entre Cordilleras (between mountains)
is a collection of verdant, inland valleys including Colchagua: home to some of
the wine world’s most progressive vineyards – excelling at fashioning Malbec,
Syrah, Carménère and Cabernet Sauvignon wines.

For this week’s DéClassé recommended bottling of a ripe Syrah, the source is
Ninquén, meaning ‘Plateau on a Mountain’ and so it is. The 27-year-old Antu
estate is a visionary addition to the holdings of Viña MontGras, whose guiding
philosophy is based on the highly selective integration of agriculture into the
rugged, natural landscape. There’s very little that’s rough in this offering from
the brothers Hernán and Eduardo Gras, having spent 16 months settling in a
combination of 30% new and 70% second use, French Oak barrels. It’s ready
to be uncorked, though you might challenge yourself to put several aside for
another year – after having tried one now, outdoors at an upscale BBQ.


VINTAGES – LCBO Product #675371 | 750 mL bottle
Price $ 17.95
14.5% Alcohol/Vol.
Sugar Content Descriptor: XD

Made in: Colchagua Valley, Chile
By: Viña MontGras
Release Date: June 13, 2015

Tasting Note
A robust red wine made of dark, ripe plum and red current fruit. Soft tannins
blend easily with balanced touches of sweetness and spice. Try serving this
slightly chilled alongside rich, braised meat or barbecued vegetable kabobs
and marinated Portobello mushroom caps.

Provence Alert

Côtes de Provence is a grape growing region that stretches along the otherwise
famed Côte d’Azur (French Riviera) from Marseille to Nice. Several low mountain
ranges, particularly the Massif de la Sainte-Baume and the Massif des Maures,
act to partition its geographic zones. Currently, about 50% of all France’s rosé
originates from this DOC and it remains widely recognized, deservedly, as the
global gold standard of this wine style. Greeks were first to introduce wine to the
area around 600 BC and over the millennia, in the long lead up to the last several
centuries, fashioning Rosé has now become the primary focus and distinction.

In 1964, eight vineyard owners from the Saint-Tropez Peninsula elected to form
the Maîtres Vignerons de la Presqu’île de Saint Tropez brand. Setting out to be
much more than simply a marketing tool, the group benefits from the sharing of
resources such as production facilities and grape-growing advisement provided
by the staff of viticulturists. The shareholding vintners continue to cultivate and
vinify their own, terroir specific wines, but distribute their finished offerings under
this highly successful, cooperative umbrella.

This fresh and crisp rosé is truly a Provençal wine, blending 90% Grenache and
a small, 10% splash of Cinsault. As is typical for the vintners here, grapes are
harvested from multiple growths, with each batch made into individual wine that
then is selectively combined to achieve the desired balances. Fairly rounded and
reasonably weighty, this week’s DéClassé recommendation will complement and
keep up with a range of food flavours from the delicate to the barbecued and the
spicy. It’s a well-made, textbook version to introduce to guests who aren’t familiar
with the charms of dry rosé. The shapely, amphora-like bottle is also expressive
of the South of France and graces the best-laid tables; soon, perhaps yours also!

Carte Noir

VINTAGES – Product #319384 | 750 mL bottle
Price: $ 17.95
Wine, Rosé Wine
13.5% Alcohol/Vol.
Sugar Content : XD

Made in: Provence, France
By: Les Maîtres Vignerons de la Presqu’île de Saint-Tropez
Release Date: June 13, 2015

Tasting Note:
With aromas of cherry, red pepper and rose petals, this consistently well-made,
holiday in-a-glass, is a wonderfully delicate sipper but also an excellent match for
ratatouille, Nicoise salad, squash gratin or herbed, grilled fish and chicken.

Garnacha Alert

Southeast of the somewhat better known regions of La Rioja and Castilla Y Léon
is the town and designated wine region of Calatayud. Nestled in the province of
Zaragoza, part of the medieval kingdom of Aragon, 5,600 hectares of vineyards
stretch out along the south-facing slopes of the Sierra de la Virgen mountain
range and along the winding Ebro River valley. The namesake for this area can
be traced back to the Moorish occupation of Spain, when local governor Ayud,
had built a fortress called a Qalat situated where the current town now stands.
With even older history and early vinicultural traditions recorded by local poet
Marco Valerio Marcial, commissioned by roman Caesars Titus and Dominicus,
wine has been made here for about 2,500 years.

More recently, due to significant investment and the upgrading of facilities, the
enterprising vintners of the Calatayud DO now produce over 14 million liters of
wine annually, though are still challenged to establish a reputation and position
in the export market. Fortunately for local buyers here, this translates into very
competitive prices for classic, old world wine fashioned from 100% Garnacha
vines that are in many cases are over 100 years old!

Bodegas Langa, with its own rich family history, has staked a relatively new claim
nearby to Mount Vicor (circa 1982) and is bio-dynamically farming grapes here
without the use of either chemical fertilizers, insecticides or weed killers. An arid
landscape challenges the deeply rooted vines to extract the necessary nutrients
and moisture from the rocky limestone soil, resulting in characterful grapes and
wine. After harvest, a combination of old and contemporary techniques sees the
fruit fermented in stainless steel vats during several stages of around 20 days
each (with naturally present yeast) then transferred to American oak barrels for
an additional 11 months of ageing before bottling.

Generally, this unfussy production style with less filtering and handling, results
in an earthy, soft and unusually dark Garnacha wine style. Year in and out, it’s
a perennial LCBO Vintages favourite and certainly will be on many best-buy lists
again – buy one to try before quickly stocking up on as many as you can afford!


VINTAGES – LCBO Product #194795 | 750 mL bottle
Price $ 14.95
14.5% Alcohol/Vol.
Sugar Content Descriptor: D

Made in: Calatayud, Spain
By: Bodegas Langa Hnos
Release Date: June 13, 2015

Tasting Note
Full bodied aromas of red fruit and spice with flavour replays of cherry, raspberry
and some smoky notes. Very smooth and rounded. Will complement most red
meats, slow cooked BBQ ribs, roasted poultry and strong cheeses.

Cabernet Rosé Alert

A designated coastal wine region and historic town, Stellenbosch lies 50km east
of Cape Town in South Africa’s Western Cape province. Three centuries onward
in time and toil from the first vine stock having been planted by European settlers
in 1690, a small, under-developed plot of land that local farmers had dismissed
as vuilplasie (dirty little farm) was gradually converted to a vineyard. Having begun
with a fledgling white wine vintage, the still-evolving Mulderbosch winery has seen
a number of development phases of both its properties and wine crafting talent.
Star vintner Mike Dubrovnic led the enterprise through a noteworthy period of
expanded profile for the brand and now under Adam Mason’s creative guidance,
it continues its significant contribution to South Africa’s revived reputation as a
reliable source of very affordable, terroir-distinctive, world-class wine.

This varietal Rosé is made from the so-called Don of red grapes – the compact,
black berries of the thick-skinned Cabernet Sauvignon. Harvested somewhat
earlier than if destined to be finished as a full red wine, this particular practice
of fashioning Rosé yields naturally high levels of acidity, minerality and brightness
to the bottled aromas of the fruit. Exploiting a geographic advantage, the vines
are planted in well-drained terrain lying in sheltered valleys below the Cape Fold
mountain range. Cooled by a wind tunnel effect between the surrounding hills,
the resulting breezes guard against the potentially, grape-wilting summer heat.

This very dynamic 78-hectare farm has come a long way in a quarter century.
Along with attaining critical and commercial success, the eco-friendly farming
strategies employed qualify it as Certified Sustainable. Moreover, sections of the
property have been dedicated to nature conservancy that includes rehabilitation
of wetlands – better ensuring that the biodiversity of indigenous vegetation and
wildlife will also continue to thrive.

Local rumor has it that only Mozart was played in the winemaking cellar during
the cool fermentation process of the grapes, perhaps imparting some layered
finesse and playful sophistication into the developing wine! True or not, a great
deal of investment by the vintner has been directed into this attractively priced
bottling, which should translate into you thinking of picking up at least 3!


VINTAGES – LCBO Product #999821 | 750 ml bottle
Price $ 12.95
13.5% Alcohol/Vol.
Sugar Content Descriptor: D

Made in: Coastal Region, South Africa
By: Mulderbosch
Release Date: May 30, 2015

Tasting Note
This is a dry Rosé that’s medium-bodied, full of lip-smacking acidity with ripe
apple, watermelon, strawberry flavours and aromas. Serve this well chilled to
preserve its crispness as an apéritif or alongside summer salads, vegetable
spring rolls, sushi or quiche.