The Tomato

Wine Maven

in 2016 July August, Wine, Wine Maven

by Mary Bailey

Benjamin Silver at The Marc.

Benjamin Silver at The Marc.

Benjamin Silver’s first job in wine was in Martha’s Vineyard. Now the down-to-earth Bay Stater makes wine on the other American coast in Santa Barbara county from French and Italian varietals— Pinot Noir, Cab Sauv and Cab Franc, Nebbiolo and Sangiovese. The Trentotto File Syrah has full-throttle aromas and flavours, gaminess and spice; the 2010 Nebbiolo, tar and roses, smoke and violets along with firm meaty tannins, suitable for aging. Find the best selection of Silver wines at Devines and Crestwood, in the $45-$50 range.

Trentotto File Syrah

Trentotto File Syrah

2010 Nebbiolo

2010 Nebbiolo

Three rosé to drink this summer (you can call them pink, but don’t call them sweet)

Xavier Rose

Xavier Rose

Pure Provence Rosé

Pure Provence Rosé

Culmina Saignee

Culmina Saignee

Xavier Rosé (AOP Côtes-de-Provence, France, under $20.) We fell in love with the wines of consultant oenologist Xavier Vignon during a visit this spring, thrilled by their pure expression, clarity and balanced flavours. The Côtes-de-Provence, a blend of Grenache, Cinsault and Syrah, is a breath of fresh air—pale salmon, with elegant crisp acidity and a whisper of berry fruit, entirely refreshing. This will be your fridge door rosé all summer long.

Pure Provence Rosé (AOP Côtes-de- Provence, France, under $20.) Provence rosé producers have a fair amount of latitude around which grapes can comprise the cuvée, creating an intriguing journey for the drinker and a compelling reason to try a new one every time you shop. The Pure Provence is a juicy blend of Grenache, Syrah and Rolle, tasting of zesty citrus and red fruits, a versatile and delicious wine for lazy summer afternoons.

Culmina Saignée (Okanagan Valley, BC, $25ish) Saignee is an old school red wine making process— some of the must is ‘bled’ off, thereby concentrating the juice remaining and creating a more complex rosé. The juice is Culmina’s Hypothesis made from the Bordeaux varietals (Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Cabernet Franc) grown on the Triggs’ family estate. We love the more structured style of this wine. While still in the bright and sunny rosé family, you’ll find more complexity and body along with terrific minty, savoury and red fruit notes. This rosé can take you right through dinner.

Langlois Blanc Brut

Langlois Blanc Brut

Langlois Rose Brut

Langlois Rose Brut

Dianna Funnell, Sherbooke Liquor and Flavien Lepert, Langlois Chateau.

Dianna Funnell, Sherbooke Liquor and Flavien Lepert, Langlois Chateau.

Looking for an affordable bubble? Think crémant

These are the sparkling wines made in the traditional method (like Champagne) in regions of France other than Champagne, such as Crémant d’Alsace, or Crémant de Bourgogne for example, giving you a similar high- quality wine for a lot less cash. We are especially taken with the Crémant de Loire from Langlois-Château. The house grows 71 hectares of vines in the Loire Valley, 45 in Saumur, 11 in Saumur Champigny and 15 in Sancerre, all Terra Vitis certified (sustainable viticulture). The Blanc Brut is made from Chenin Blanc, Chardonnay, and Cabernet Franc. It spends at least 24 months on the lees which creates a fine rapid mousse, always a sign of quality for bubbly wines. We loved its elegant mineral and citrus flavours. Prefer pink? The Rosé Brut is 100 per cent Cabernet Franc, spends a minimum of 18 months on its lees and possesses delicious fresh strawberry aromas and flavours. Both are dry, elegant and ready for all sorts of festive occasions, $27-ish.

Mission Hill grows fruit in several parcels all over the Okanagan allowing them to make small lots of characterful wine that express terroir. We tasted several recently with head winemaker Darryl Brooker.

Mission Hill Terroir Series 2012 Sunset Ranch Unoaked Chardonnay, (Okanagan Valley, $30ish). Very little of this remarkable Chardonnay is made every year as it’s the same fruit that creates Perpetua, Mission Hill’s iconic chard. Chablis enthusiasts will love the story of the pure cool climate fruit—quiet at first, with a whiff of lively lemon and chalky mineral, followed by layers of pear and citrus flavours with a persistent finish. On the other hand, the Lone Pine Chardonnay (Okanagan Valley, $30ish) is barrel fermented, with about 25 per cent new French—impeccably balanced with just enough roundness and texture to keep fans of full-on buttery chard very happy indeed.

Mission Hill 2014 Reserve Pinot Noir (Okanagan Valley, $30ish). Sadly, lovers of the heartbreak grape have become accustomed to disappointment—it’s so hard to find a decent everyday drink that actually tastes like Pinot. Look no further: this bottling satisfies, possessing savoury forest floor aromas and juicy red fruit flavours at a price that is a bargain in pinot world.

Mission Hill Terroir Unoaked Chardonnay Mission Hill Pinot Noir
Alois Lageder practises biodynamic agriculture high in the sudtirol region of Italy, close to Austria. It’s a gorgeous area, hilly, with apple orchards interspersed with vineyards. The mix of German and Italian language and culture is charming, as are the wines; Gewurz, Pinot Grigio, Riesling and indigenous reds such as Lagrien and Schiava. Here’s two to try:

2104 Porer Pinot Grigio (Sudtriol, Alto Adige, Italy, $38). The Porer single vineyard Pinot Grigio stands out in the sea of indifferent PeeGee on the shelf, not just because of the high altitude or the care and attention paid to the grape growing, but because it tastes so darn good. Aromatic, with sublime tension, the rich honeyed citrus and stone fruit held in check by a lovely salty minerality and backbone of (almost) razor-sharp acidity. Medium- bodied, long on the finish, find on the list at Uccellino.

2015 Gewürztraminer (Sudtriol, Alto Adige, Italy, $32)
Gewurz can overpower, too much spice, too thick, too much. This wine remains elegant to its core, dry, with evanescent floral notes, lychee, subtle spice and an attractive pithy bitterness on the finish.

Porer Pinot Grigio

Porer Pinot Grigio

Gewurztraminer

Gewurztraminer

Lisa Caputo (cibo bistro) and Lorenzo Marotti-Campi (Marotti Campi) taste Orgiolo.

Lisa Caputo (Cibo Bistro) and Lorenzo Marotti-Campi (Marotti Campi) taste Orgiolo.

Lorenzo Marotti-Campi makes beautiful wines on the east coast of Italy from grapes most people have never heard of, Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi and Lacrima di Morro d’Alba. The whites are delicious—stony, peachy, nutty, excellent with pasta, light meats, or all by themselves. (You can find the Salmariano by the glass at Bar Bricco.) The Lacrima finds expression in the Orgiolo Lacrima di Morro d’Alba Superiore, a full-bodied red with fine and persistent tannins; Xyris with a soft bubble and touch of sweetness, plus a delicious rosé. “Lacrima was disappearing because it is so hard to grow,” says Lorenzo; “and it’s a polarizing grape for wine drinkers—fragrant and floral, it’s not for everyone.”

Where it really shines is with food—mushrooms, duck, rabbit, pork (like the pork ragu served at a recent Corso 32 Marotti-Campi dinner).

“People never ask are those your grapes, especially wines that come from across the ocean,” says Lorenzo. “But that is the most important thing. These vineyards are for my kids; I am going to take more care. A colleague wants me to join a movement called Vignerons Indépendants. I don’t like groups usually but that one is for me.” – Lorenzo Marotti-Campi.

Prices are approximate. Wines are available at Aligra, Bin 104, Color de Vino, Fine Wines by Liquor Select, Hicks Fine Wines, Sherbrooke Liquor Store, Unwined and other good wine shops. Not all wines in all shops.

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