Prosecco Alert

Historical references to lightly sparkling wines in the Veneto region date to the
1100’s and were much sweeter in the 12th century compared to the popular
styles being fashioned today. With the burgeoning profile and interest in this
delightful wine internationally, progressive Italian producers have had to take
pro-active steps toward guarding the unique, regional nature of their Spumante.
The traditional grape family for this, the bubbliest of all Italian white wine styles,
was for a very long time, colloquially known as Prosecco; likely to have originated
around the namesake town of Prosecco close to the Slovenian border. Official
rebranding of the name to Glera in 2009 now means that these grapevines can
be cultivated and marketed in other wine-producing regions in the world with the
new designation, but only those wines which specifically originate from DOCG
Prosecco and its various sub-regions, such as this week’s DéClassé featured
bottling from DOCG Treviso, may be labelled as bonafide Prosecco.

The sparkling wines from Italy’s geographic, north-eastern corner are distinctive
in their own right, though the vintners have employed and innovated the French
method called Charmat to achieve their form. After an initial fermentation, the
second infusion of yeast continues the converting of sugars and provoking the carbonation that provides the wine with its bubbled froth. This key finishing step
is done in large, pressurized Stainless Steel tanks rather than the bottle, so
results in a fresh, crisp fruit flavour with less of the toasted character that is
more typical in its distant French Crémant cousins.

The long rows of white pebble covered vineyards on the La Jara farm create an
appealing aesthetic while suppressing unwanted weed growth around the root
stock. Most importantly, the stones absorb the heat of daytime sun, then slowly
release the stored energy in the evening, extending exposure time of the grape
clusters to a warm microclimate; deepening their fruity character. Now in the
guiding hands of Massimo and Paolo Marion, generational family history here on
the gravelled banks of the Piave River dates to 1891and is in a renewed phase
of thriving commercially while progressively applying organic farming practice.

Avoid overchilling, but keep at cool temperature while trying in a wider mouthed
goblet rather than in slender stemware. Your brunch guests will appreciate you
having another bottle, standing by, brimming with steely fruit – to top them up.

La Jara Brut

VINTAGES – LCBO Product #402438 | 750 mL bottle
Price $ 15.95
11.5% Alcohol/Vol.
Sugar Content Descriptor: D

Made in: Veneto, Italy
By: Agricola La Jara
Release Date: Apr.4, 2015

Tasting Note
This informal sparkler has an abundance of fresh apple and pear with a nutty
finish. Try as an apéritif ahead of traditional Easter Brunch fare or as a spritzy
complement to smoked salmon and assorted savoury pastry appetizers.

Crémant Alert

Established in 1942, exports from the Clairette de Die AOC in the Rhône Valley
continue to be under-represented on North American store shelves. Largely
overshadowed by offerings from other French Crémant producing regions such
as the Loire Valley, Alsace and Bourgogne, this translates into very competitive
price-points for extremely well made bubbly – equally suitable to serve up as an
informal apéritif or to punctuate special events without breaking your budget.

As of the 20th century, the production recipe for sparklers from Clairette de Die
has evolved to include three white-skinned grapes varieties built predominantly
on a base of the region’s star Clairette, with Aligoté: a so-called ‘poor cousin’ of
Chardonnay and Muscat à Petits Grains: one the world’s oldest grape varieties,
rounding out the blend. Finished in the ‘méthode traditionelle’, this process is
defined by a secondary fermentation in the bottle that’s kick-started by adding a
dose of ‘liqueur de tirage’: a blend of wine, sugar and yeast. The gas-producing
step generates an abundance of Carbon Dioxide, infusing Crémant style wines
with its characteristically fine, frothy mousse. Rich flavour notes, particularly the
nutty or toasty ones most associated with traditional Champagnes, result from
the young wine being exposed to the expired yeast in the bottle (sur-lie) for at
least 9 months. Moreover, this wine typically doesn’t rely on the use of grapes
of a specific vintage year, rather it often incorporates several years of harvest
to better-ensure the unique consistency expected from each individual producer.

The Cave Poulet et Fils winery represents 4 generations of winemakers who’ve
passed on family traditions now guided by Emmanuel Poulet. 20 hectares of
vineyard property are situated next to the Parc Naturel Régional Du Vercors in
the southern, sheltering shadow of the Vercors Massif, a series of mountainous
limestone plateaus rising up between 2 tributary rivers that spill into the Rhône.
Here, vine stock thrives in the fertile, calcium-rich soils that have accumulated
as erosion deposit, typical in the valleys of this rugged and picturesque region.

You’re unlikely to find a more satisfying bottling of bubbly in this price category
and other judges agree, having awarded it a Gold Medal at the Concours des
Crémants de France et Luxembourg, 2013.

Cremant de Die

VINTAGES – LCBO Product #392555 | 750 mL bottle
Price $ 17.95
11.5% Alcohol/Vol.
Sugar Content Descriptor: D

Made in: Rhône, France
By: Earl Cave Poulet Et Fils
Release Date: Nov. 7, 2015

Tasting Note
Has light floral aromas with field berry accents followed by the expected flavour
tang of citrus and apple, hints of peach, apricot. Try serving at brunch with smoked
salmon, with starters such as asparagus or along with stronger cheeses.

Vouvray Alert

Overlooking both the river and expansive hillsides of its meandering valley, 130
or so hectares of Château Moncontour make up one of the oldest estates in
the Touraine, a sub-region of the Loire – also known as ‘the garden of France’.
The current building dates back to the Renaissance period, having been built by
King Charles VII. Among many noteworthy tales, including being ravaged by an
unfortunate fire during the revolutionary period, the sculpted, ivy-covered, white
fairytale turrets of the château and its adjacent bramble-lined riverbanks were
prized by 19th century, local French writer: Honoré de Balzac, who featured it in
some of his writings while perhaps savouring the bounty of its vineyards!

Like most Crémants, this week’s very effervescent bottling has been produced in
a double fermentation method known as “méthode Champenoise” – in the late
1980’s though, the term was made proprietary to only wines originating from
within the Champagne region to the north-east. This was justified in order to
guard the distinct typicity of the region but doesn’t necessarily suggest greater
quality. Moreover, highly variable pricing for bona-fide Champagnes tends to be
among the most arbitrary of all wine styles – frequently more informed by what
the market is willing to pay rather than how much effort has been invested by
the vintner. Having said all that, note that this week’s DéClassé recommended
varietal offering from the Vouvray AOC is made with 100% Chenin Blanc
grapes and produced in an equivalent manner known as ‘méthode traditionnelle’.

Moncontour’s current custodial vintners are the Feray Family, who since 1994
have been drawing on numerous small plots dotted throughout the villages of
Vouvray for their Chenin Blanc fruit. Influenced by the limestone and clay soils
found here, this variety has a distinct mineral component along with a naturally
high level of acidity – making it an ideal base for sparkling versions of Vouvray
that are also known as ‘pétillant’. Having spent at least 22 months ageing in
the bottle before disgorgement, final corking and release, this is so modestly
priced that you will chide yourself endlessly for not having bought more before
having to wait again until next August or perhaps even a touch longer!

Chateau Moncontour

VINTAGES – LCBO Product #207936 | 750 mL bottle
Price $ 17.95
12% Alcohol/Vol.
Sugar Content Descriptor: D

Made in: Loire, France
By: Château Moncontour
Release Date: August 16, 2014

Tasting Note
Straw yellow colour, apricot aromas, a nutty note and lively, refined mousse
make this a refreshing counterpoint for warm weather and ‘al fresco’ meals.
Try as an apéritif or with lighter fare such as fresh salads, goat cheese, pâté
and seasoned crisps or moderately spicy Asian appetizers.