Piemonte Gavi di Gavi

In the evocative parlance of northwestern Italy, a spasso tra i vigneti (‘walking in the vineyards’) can further translate as wading among undulating green waves of Nebbiolo grapes; mostly destined to become world-renowned Barbaresco and Barolo red wines. In the misty hills surrounding the town of Gavi, though, there’s a modest white delight also vying for increased attention. Considered a minor grape due to its very limited planting of approximately 1,500 hectares, the early ripening Cortese is nonetheless a long-established, indigenous variety that has been cultivated in pockets throughout Provincia di Alessandria since the early 17th century. While being well-suited to the micro-climate and soils of these northern Italian terroirs, consistently extracting flavourful wine from the relatively neutral, plump, yellow-skinned grape clusters remains an intriguing challenge for the otherwise skilled vintners of Piemonte. When they get it right, which is now often the case, the result is satisfyingly lithe, elegant and complex.

bersano

Businessman Giuseppe Bersano initially founded his azienda vinicola at the turn of the 20th century by purchasing a languishing, 12-hectare aristocratic estate belonging to the Count Cremosina. Over the next 50 years of family succession, and with the gradual acquisition of other nearby properties it became one of the Piemonte region’s leading wineries; now prolifically drawing from 230 hectares of vineyard on ten diverse and desirable estates. After a brief period of decline while under corporate ownership in the 1970’s, the various Bersano lands and cellars were acquired by the Massimelli and Soave winemaking families in 1985. Astutely, the current managing generation of these storied Piemontese clans have entrusted a passionate and highly regarded vintner, Roberto Morosinotto, with moving the brand’s traditions forward into its 2nd century.

This week’s DéClassé featured Bersano Gavi di Gavi 2014 is an accomplished example of what’s possible in fashioning modern, mid-weight Italian white wine. Finished in stainless steel tanks, the technique yields delicate layers of tropical fruit and green apple, floral aromatics, chalky minerality and citrus-tinged acidity. Overshadowed for a time by other Italian star white wines such as Verdicchio, Trebbiano d’Abruzzo, and Soave, this is a time-limited opportunity to compare your palette with what savvy Italians are currently drinking at home – while they export much of their Pinots abroad. If you have an appreciation for wine that emphasizes finesse, then this premium offering will be a seductive addition to your go-to list. To paraphrase Bersanos’s playful motto ‘if you want to drink well, get yourself a vineyard,’ I would say: ‘if you want to drink well this summer, get three bottles of the Gavi di Gavi 2014’ – and enjoy while it’s still young.

Bersano

BERSANO GAVI DI GAVI 2014
VINTAGES – LCBO Product #999979 | 750 mL bottle
Price $ 16.95
12% Alcohol/Vol.
Sugar Content Descriptor: XD

Made in Piemonte, Italy
By: Bersano Vini S.P.A.
Release Date: July 25, 2016

Tasting Note
This bright straw-yellow coloured wine with its flinty citrus character accented by light almond notes is an ideal compliment to summer hors d’oeuvres and a broad range of seafood such as scallops, calamari, and oysters, or with pesto dressed pasta, cheese filled ravioli and herbed poultry.

Mendoza Chardonnay

Long before its rising reputation as one of Argentina’s premier winemaking sub-regions, Luján de Cuyo already had an established history of being a garden for the indigenous Incan and Huarpe Peoples. In the centuries ahead of Spanish and Italian immigration, the clever and resourceful native populations were able to harvest a bounty of squash, corn, beans, and quinoa by developing irrigation dams and canals fed by the Mendoza River system; gradually transforming the landscape they called Araucanian cuyum puulli (‘sandy land’ or ’desert country‘). Eventually, in the 17th and 18th centuries, the mineral rich soils and long dry days blessed with a plethora of sun and a respite of cool nights combined as some of the most desirable conditions for cultivating grapevine, anywhere.
In the modern age, in large part due to a prolific output of the greater Mendoza region, Argentina has evolved into the wine world’s 5th largest producer!

susana-balbo-vineyard

Other evolutionary development has also occurred among Argentina’s vintners as they continually incorporate outside expertise (particularly French and Italian) with their own, significant cadre of home-grown talent. Since becoming the first Argentinean female to earn an Oenology degree in the early still-male-dominated 1980’s, Susana Balbo honed her wine craft at the renowned Catena and Zapata Bodegas before the 1999 launch of her own; made up of a wide-ranging portfolio that includes BenMarco, Susana Balbo, Nosotros, and Crios. With a 35-year focus on developing varietal whites, her continuing accomplishments include the informal anointment as the Queen of Torrontés, a third term as the President of Wines of Argentina’, and summarily maturing into one of the most influential, new-age winemaking ambassadors, at home and globally – felicitación.

As evidenced in this week’s DéClassé featured bottle of Crios Chardonnay 2014, self-described as a youthful ‘everyday’ wine, the emphasis is on freshness and a palatable finesse in the finishing; in the ‘Susana Balbo way’. With an over-oaked Chardonnay style now a vestige of past winemaking practice elsewhere, here in this recipe only 30% of the vintage sees a brief aging in barrel before blending with the majority that’s been stored in Stainless Steel tanks. The result is a crisp and balanced style that still features the acidic brightness, herbal accents and tropical fruit notes of the Chardonnay grapes; more so than the creamy vanilla tones that typically develop in fully oaked versions. At this price, it’s hard to imagine a better buy to make your summer ‘everydays’ special!

Crios

CRIOS CHARDONNAY 2014
VINTAGES – LCBO Product #243196 | 750 mL bottle
Price $ 13.95
14% Alcohol/Vol.
Sugar Content Descriptor: XD

Made in Mendoza, Argentina
By: Susana Balbo
Release Date: June 11, 2016

Tasting Note
This pale golden/yellow and medium-bodied white has an abundance of tropical fruit aromas and flavours. Serve with canapés of goat cheese/roasted pistachio, lightly curried vegetable pasties and pickled yellow cherry peppers, or with mains of apple and sausage stuffed chicken breast and lemon buttered asparagus.

Western Cape Rosé

Both a designated coastal wine region and historical center, the dynamic town of Stellenbosch lies 50km inland of Cape Town in South Africa’s Western Cape. Three centuries on in time and toil; from the first planting of grapevine in 1690 by Dutch and Huguenot settlers — an under-developed plot of land that local farmers had dismissed as vuilplasie (‘dirty little farm’) was gradually converted to vineyard. Launching with a fledgling vintage of white wine in 1992, the ever-evolving Mulderbosch winery has seen a number of development phases, both in its properties and its wine crafting talent. Star vintner Mike Dubrovnic led the enterprise through a period of expanded profile, and now under Adam Mason’s creative winemaking guidance it continues to contribute to South
Africa’s revival as a reliable source of very affordable, terroir-distinctive wine.

This week’s DéClassé featured varietal Rosé is made from the so-called Don of red wine grapes, Cabernet Sauvignon. With distinctively compact blackberries and a thick-skin, Mulderbosch harvests these somewhat earlier than if it were destined to be finished as a full red wine. This particular practice of fashioning Rosé yields naturally higher levels of acidity, minerality, and brightness to the bottled aromas of the fruit. Exploiting a local geographic advantage, their vines are planted in well-drained valley terrain below the Cape Fold mountain range, where the surrounding hills funnel cooling breezes into the vineyard; helping attenuate the sometimes grape-wilting heat of South African summers.

mulderbosch-vineyard

This impressive 78-hectare farm has come a long way in a quarter century. Along with attaining critical and commercial success, the eco-friendly farming strategies that they’re employing qualify it as Certified Sustainable. Moreover, sections of the property have been dedicated to conservancy; including rehabilitation of wetlands; better ensuring that the biodiversity of indigenous vegetation and wildlife will continue to thrive.

Local rumor has it that, once upon a time, only Mozart was played in the cellar during the cool fermentation processing 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, and unique bottling – that should translate into you picking up at least 3!

Mulderbosch

MULDERBOSCH CABERNET SAUVIGNON ROSÉ 2015
VINTAGES – LCBO Product #999821 | 750 mL bottle
Price $ 12.95
13.5% Alcohol/Vol.
Sugar Content Descriptor: D

Made in South Africa
By: Mulderbosch
Release Date: May 11, 2016

Tasting Note
This is a dry, medium-bodied Rosé that’s full of delightful lip-smacking acidity. With cherry, ripe strawberry and pomegranate flavours, serve this well-chilled to preserve its crispness. Substantial on its own as an apéritif or along with summer citrus-laced salads, Thai spring rolls, sushi or asparagus Quiche.

Maipo Cab Sauvignon

Having begun with the planting of European Vitis Vinifera vines by 16th-century Spanish conquistadors and missionaries, Chile’s 500-year history of fashioning wine coupled with the recent development of new growing regions continues to amaze and impress. For a period as of the mid-1800’s, the aim was to simply produce inexpensive bulk wine; to serve local markets and consumption. This is equally true of most so-called old world regions in Europe during the same time; right up until the mid-20th century. Since then, though, Chile has accomplished far more than keep pace with the evolution of highly competitive, premium wine production and export; rather, its diligent vintners have forged a leadership role, globally. They’ve truly become world-class winemakers!

montgras-vineyard

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. The essence of these attributes carries forward, as modern Chilean vintners innovatively exploit challenging geography for agricultural cultivation, while demonstrating studied concern and care for its sustainability. Framed between an endless, snaking Pacific coastline to the west and the folded slopes of Andean peaks to the east, the new regional designation, Entre Cordilleras (‘between mountains’) is a group of inland valleys that includes the well-known Colchagua and the long-established Maipo, lying south of the capital Santiago. Excelling at Malbec, Carménère, and Syrah, the larger region has also had success with classic French reds, Cab Franc, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon wines — justifying the reference, ‘South America’s Bordeaux’.

This week’s DéClassé feature of Montgras Antu Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 is one of the Viña MontGras sub-brands for wines that head winemaker Santiago Margozzini describes as ‘exploratory’. Both light-hearted and serious, the term signals that Chilean vintners continue to play with and refine local cultivars of grapes that were imported at various points in the 19th century. Well-suited to the terroirs of their new home, and guided by local expertise, these should now be thought of as uniquely Chilean — and so it is. This bottling is ready to be uncorked, though you might challenge yourself to put more aside for another year or so – after having tried one; outdoors at an upscale BBQ.

boc ANTU 2014en bot

MONTGRAS ANTU CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2013
VINTAGES – LCBO Product #444703 | 750 mL bottle
Price $ 17.95
14.5% Alcohol/Vol.
Sugar Content Descriptor: XD

Made in Maipo Valley, Chile
By: Viña Montgras
Release Date: May 28, 2016

Tasting Note
Offering up loads of dark berry and cherry aromas and flavour, this deeply Ruby red wine also has some pleasing pepper and toasty oak notes well-integrated into a soft and creamy texture. Try this as a compliment to grilled food fare of all sorts: vegetable and meats; with a generous helping of Chilean cilantro salsa.