Padthaway Shiraz

The Limestone Coast lies about halfway between Melbourne and Adelaide, and
its agricultural regions have been diligently diversifying their traditional farming
of cereals, pasture seed, vegetables and livestock grazing. As of the 1960’s,
they’ve also embraced the stepped challenges/rewards of grape growing and
winemaking — so much so that they now produce 20% of South Australia’s total.
Spanning 5 family generations, over a 165-year history, the Bryson farming clan
has made a significant contribution to the shift, having invested the last 50 yrs.
in refining the cultivation of premium-grade, red and white wine varieties, on their
own Phylloxera-free rootstock. Clearly, all the vineyard management details matter
to the dedicated trio of Bryson brothers; they’re also at ease with the sentiment
that what ends up in the bottle is ‘serious fun’!

Padthaway is an emerging, less-renowned member of the six sub-regions lying
within the Limestone Coast boundary; directly competing with the established
international profile of neighbouring Coonawarra: rightfully and highly regarded
for the qualities of its benchmark bottlings of Shiraz. The Potawurutj Aborigines
coined Padthaway’s name (‘good water’), referencing the underground aquifer
system and the abundant surface supply. When the forbearers of the Bryson’s
and other Europeans arrived in Padthaway during the 1850’s, the bio-diverse
landscape (ancient seabed) was still extensively covered by shallow freshwater
and so became known as ‘Mosquito Plains’.

Among many desirable attributes at work in this terroir, including sun-drenched
exposures in daytime offset by the cool coastal breezes at night, are the prized
Terra Rosa soils. Often associated with the Mediterranean basin generally, and
Italy in particular, this composition of ancient weathered limestone results from
the residual clay and non-soluble rock becoming oxidized (rusting); yielding the
characteristic reddish colour; imbuing the soil with essential minerals and good
drainage for the vine’s root system. Punctuating 190 hectares on the Bryson
Estate are outcrops and clusters of unusual, bulbous granite rock formations;
providing an evocative namesake and brand graphic for their baseline range of
wines: the Jip Jip Rocks.

This week’s DéClassé featured varietal bottling of Shiraz was finished by blending
batches from the 2013 vintage, after spending a year in a combination of new
and used, American and French oak barrels. With another 15 months in bottle,
it’s ready to go now, though will develop even more balance if left on your storage
rack for several more years. If you like your dry reds on the plush side, with some
youthful fruitiness and acidic vibrancy still at the forefront, then you should rush to
the LCBO’s Vintages section ahead of the anticipated crowd — and buy a bunch!

Jip Jip Rocks

JIP JIP ROCKS SHIRAZ 2013
VINTAGES – LCBO Product #673897 | 750 mL bottle
Price $16.95
14.5% Alcohol/Vol.
Sugar Content Descriptor: XD

Made in: South Australia, Australia
By: Bryson Family
Release Date: Feb 20, 2016

Tasting Note
Along with dominant currant and earthy cherry notes, this fulsome red also
incorporates subtle flavours of mocha and clove. Lightly spicy on the nose, the
oak influence is deftly incorporated into the wine’s supple body. Try serving with
marinated flank steak, smoked ham hock, hearty stews or mature cheeses.

Naoussa Xinomavro

From antiquity through to the modern age, the often hotly debated cultural and
territorial legacy of Macedonia has produced a wealth of opposing contentions.
The uncertainty about its people’s place within or aside of the Greek patchwork
is, in some part, fueled by the generalized fame of Macedonia’s best-known son
and iconic figurehead, Alexander the Great. Tutored by Aristotle and steeped in
Homer’s mythic tales, he could proficiently read, speak and conduct himself as a
Greek; as a complimentary second culture to his native Macedonian and its Slav
heritage. Under his leadership, the vast expansion of the so-called Greek Empire
would eventually dominate the Balkans, Asia Minor, Central Asia, Mesopotamia,
Persia and Egypt. Ironically for Greeks, the rise to this unrivalled supremacy in the
ancient world began with Alexander’s military campaign to subjugate rebellious
city-states in Greece’s homelands. In the wash of history, Alexander has become
viewed as archetypal Greek, and the former realm of the Macedonian Kingdom
has been partitioned among neighbouring territories in the Balkans and Bulgaria.
The portion that remains within the present day boundaries of northern Greece,
contains some of the region’s most prized vineyards; unique cool climate terroirs,
and specialized cultivation of one indigenous variety for the last 1,500 years!

The sub-region of Naoussa, along with its surprising geography of snowcapped
mountains, framing the forested foothills that spill onto a verdant central plain,
now also has an official VQPRD wine zone designation. The acronym’s aim is to
promote the highest quality standards for Greek wines and mark their distinct
origins within the country. Largely due to the leadership efforts of the dynamic
Boutari vineyard group, developing this classification and its requirements are
propelling Greece’s re-anointment as a reliable source of premium winemaking.
As example, this week’s DéClassé featured Naoussa 2013 is a polished version
of varietal Xinomavro wine; currently, the best-selling, ambassador wine style for
Greece’s worldwide export. As of 1879, 137-years of accumulated expertise by
this storied vintner has culminated in the enviable burden of being a benchmark
for how well that modern Greek winemakers are doing overall. Year in and out,
they substantiate their global reputation by consistently producing well-crafted
wines across a range of grades. The 2013 vintage of this entry-level offering is
no exception to the rule; it shows unsurpassable quality at a $13.95 price-point!

Approx. 100km from Thessaloniki, this particular estate is both the oldest and
original one of the six regional appellations that Boutari has land holdings in.
Among the region’s nine villages that include the region’s namesake: Naoussa,
vineyards are located on the sunny, southeast-facing slopes surrounding Mount
Vermio. Irrigated by runoff, these calcium-rich clay and loam soils provide the
perfect conditions for Xinomavro grape growing. Despite being a prolific variety
that’s thrived here for eternity, the grape has frequently fallen in and out of
commercial favour. Under the stewardship by Boutari, this variety is resurgent
and demonstrating its desirability for producing satisfying medium-bodied wine
with the potential to age and develop complexity. Rightly compared to Italy’s
Nebbiolo-based wines such as Barbaresco and Barolo, it shares many of the
basic attributes such as ample acidity levels married with firm tannins.

This vintage is a charmingly youthful bottling that can be had inexpensively and
then reward 3-5yrs. of cellaring by becoming even smoother and more rounded.
Buy at least 3. Decant one for several hours to enjoy now and stow the others
away to grace a sumptuous winter’s meal later on in 2021. Or, in exercising
some admirable discipline, wait even a bit later for the magic to happen!

Naoussa

BOUTARI NAOUSSA 2013
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: February 6, 2016

Tasting Note
This distinctive red wine has flavours of cherries, raspberry with hints of vanilla
and cocoa. Fairly typical of Naoussa style wines, it’s pleasingly tart and earthy in
a balanced combination. Try serving as apéritif with hard cheeses or with mains
of grilled kabobs, hearty casseroles, and porcini risotto.

Niederösterreich Grüner Veltliner

20 centuries ago, in one of the newly conquered lands bounded by the Danube
River, the legendary Roman military commander Tiberius capably recognized the untapped agricultural potential of its valleys and plains. After having subdued the
Celtic and Ligurian tribes who were loosely allied in the kingdom of Noricum, he
set about establishing a legionary encampment that would grow into a large and prosperous regional capital, Carnuntum. Apart from mining the ore-rich mountains
for iron, which provided high-grade steel weaponry to the empire; the settlements
other success was in developing farming estates in the nearby territories, eventually including Kamptal (Kamp River Valley). To fulfill a Roman social philosophy that
deemed wine a daily necessity for all classes of society, from slave through noble,
these ‘provincial Romans’ introduced terraced vineyards as agricultural innovation.
The technology allowed growers to exploit the underused sloped terrain; expanding
the cultivation of indigenous grapes such as the one they termed Veltin; resulting in
a significant boost of harvest yields and the local wine supply. In the modern age,
this corner of central Europe became known as Niederösterreich (Lower Austria)
and one of the distinctive wines that Austrian vintners have become uniquely expert
at is called Grüner Veltliner.

Primarily grown in Austria, Grüner Veltliner (Grew-ner Velt-leen-er) is a flagship
white wine variety making up nearly a third of all plantings–with spillover into the neighbouring Czech Republic, Hungary and Slovakia. As a hardy and prolific vine,
its suitability to these terroirs is tied to the rich löss (wind-blown soils) that have
built up in the geography of ancient volcanic calderas; settling overtop of crushed
stone beds that provide drainage for mildew-free growing conditions. As of 2009, Austria’s wine laws have evolved to include DAC designations for both Veltliner
and Riesling wines; to clearly distinguish between the regional sources of the fruit
and to promote higher mean levels of quality. Additionally, the bottling is graded
and priced according to either a ‘Classic’ finishing style (12.5% abv with no wood influence) or ‘Reserve’ (13.5% with some integrated wood allowable). As with this week’s DéClassé recommended Rabl Grüner Veltliner Langenlois 2013, the
‘Classic’ version is somewhat lighter-bodied, unoaked and largely intended to be
enjoyed as a fresh, zingy young wine that blooms with food pairing–and so it does!

rudolf-rabl

70km northwest from Vienna, the Kamptal DAC is centered on the Baroque-esc
town of Langenlois. Surrounded by forested mountains and ringed by vineyards,
this idyllic setting has been home to Weingut Rudolph Rabl for 265 years. In the
mid-18th century, 20 hectares of estate land began as a traditional farm with mixed crops and livestock. After adding grapevines, the business was confined to selling
bulk wine in barrel to local innkeepers until the early 20th century. In 1986, Rudolf
Rabl Junior was enlisted into the family business and his father’s passion, which
allowed the winery to expand to 80 hectares; becoming one of the largest estates
in the valley. The distinctive icon of a green Raven depicted on Rabl (‘little Raven’)
labels represents their line of well-crafted, entry-level wines being offered at an exceptionally attractive price-point.

All in all, it’s taken some time for North American markets to embrace white wine
styles other than the enduring stars such as Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot
Grigio and Soave. So, in the spirit of more deeply exploring the horizon of your established tastes, add this varietal wine to your DéClassé recommended list of alternate, characterful dry whites: Sylvaner, Picpoul de Pinet, Tsinandali, Gavi,
Pecorino, Sèvre et Maine, and Vinho Verde. Consider buying half a case while
being reminded that Grüner Veltliner offers the promise of longevity in the bottle;
making it a worthy candidate for some short-term cellaring–over the next 2-5yrs.

Rabl Gruner Veltliner

RABL LANGENLOIS GRÜNER VELTLINER 2013
VINTAGES – LCBO Product #377457 | 750 mL bottle
Price $ 14.95
12.5% Alcohol/Vol.
Sugar Content Descriptor: XD

Made in: Kamptal, Austria
By: Weingut Rudolph Rabl
Release Date: January 23, 2016

Tasting Note
This is a bright, fresh and elegant wine with flavour notes of apple, lemon balm
and lime, delicate pepper spice, loads of ripe acidity and an intriguing minerality
thru the remarkably long finish. As apéritif, serve with prosciutto crostini, smoked
fish, or with mains of veal schnitzel, grilled asparagus and white sauced artichoke.