The Tomato

Wine Maven

in 2016 January February, Wine Maven

by Mary Bailey

Bender Hofpäsch Mosel

Bender Hofpäsch Mosel

Andreas Bender Hofpäsch Mosel Riesling Auslese
The wine comes from a steep red slate slope near Liewen where Bender lives. Hofpäsch translates roughly to front porch. Can he see the vineyard from his front porch? Not exactly, but the idea is that this is wine from the neighbourhood. The extraordinary concentration, heady aromas and flavours of quince, peach, citrus, honey and juicy minerality combined with the knife-edge balanced acidity makes this wine one for the ages. $34.

Bender Riesling Sekt

Bender Riesling Sekt

We have become huge fans of the Bender Riesling Sekt
We love the small persistent bubble, its gorgeous elegance, the beautiful acidity and the under $30 price tag. Canada isn’t the only country that over taxes wine—German sparkling producers pay the schaumweinsteuer, a tax on sparkling wine which dates back to Bismarck’s time. $28.

Brolio Chianti

Brolio Chianti

Rocca Guicciarda Chianti

Rocca Guicciarda Chianti

Barone Ricasoli export director Ollalla Lopez Corona came to dinner at Sorrentino’s Downtown last November to talk Chianti. The menu, by new Sorrentino’s chef Claudio Tentenni, and executive chef Sonny Sung, was a master of understatement to allow the focus to be on the wines, which have a long history. The Baron Ricasoli is credited with actually inventing Chianti in 1872. Highlights: The classic Brolio is always reliable Sangiovese, ruby red verging on brick in colour, lots of cherry and licorice aromas with lovely, slightly chalky tannins and some nice spice on the palate. $20.We also tasted the Rocca Guicciarda Chianti Classico Riserva, mostly Sangiovese with some Merlot and Cabernet—sweet violet and cherry aromas, a savoury spicy palate, with lots of depth and finesse. Drink now or cellar for five to seven years. $28.

Giacobbe Soave

Giacobbe Soave

Cortona Syrah

Cortona Syrah

Francesca Dal Cero was here in early December for a sold-out dinner at Solstice Seasonal Cuisine. Her family makes wine in the Veneto and in Tuscany in the relatively new DOC of Cortona where Syrah is allowed. What is special about the Corte Giacobbe Soave is the volcanic soil unique to the eastern part of the appellation, which gives the wine a specific minerality and a lovely green floral note. It tasted of toasted almonds and lemon, with an intriguing salinity. Dal Cero Corte Giacobbe Soave $20. We also enjoyed the Selverello Cortona Syrah. “We use a different training system for our Syrah in Cortona called alberello,” says Francesca. “Cortona is a good area for Syrah as we have very hot days and cool nights.” The Dal Cero Syrah is elegant, fresh and complex with tasty spicy notes and a long finish. Dal Cero Selverello Cortona Syrah, $26

Westmorland Extra Dry Gin

Westmorland Extra Dry Gin

Sonoma Rye Whiskey

Sonoma Rye Whiskey

Two new small-batch, family-owned premium spirits to try. Gilpin’s Westmorland Extra Dry Gin is about as crisp a gin as you can get. Botanicals include juniper, sage, and borage with citrus peel, coriander and angelica for a distinctively dry gin. $61.

The rich and spicy Sonoma Rye Whiskey Cask Strength is aged in new charred American oak barrels then finished in old wood and tastes of white pepper, vanilla and allspice. Be careful, cask strength means it’s 109 proof. $97.

Tio Pepe

Tio Pepe

Noe VORS

Noe VORS

People are coming back to sherry,” says Christopher Canale–Parola of Gonzales Byass. Let’s hope so as the drink has so much to offer in flavour and value. Let’s start with Tio Pepe, classic Fino sherry, fragrant and dry, ideal with almonds, olives, small plates and one of the best buys around, $20. Then we’ll move on to Noe VORS Sherry on the other end of the spectrum, rich, complex, intensely sweet, made for dried fruit and nuts and conversation. The Pedro Ximénez grape and long aging in the solera system result in a wine of great distinction. The VORS designation stands for Very Old Rare Sherry, wines of an average age of at least 30 years. $34.

TentCard-V2

Ich Bin Parisien, $5 from each bottle of specially selected French and German wines available at Ling Nan, Festival Place and Normands, goes to support victims of the Paris attacks. Normand’s Restaurant will be having a fundraising dinner sometime this winter.

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