Wine Maven: May June 2019

The Wine Maven: Enjoy spring’s new crop of wines from Argentina, Germany, Canada, France and Italy and lots of wine dinners, happenings and events for every budget.


by Mary Bailey

13th Street Winery
13th Street Winery

Check out the new kid on the block, 13th Street Winery. J.P Colas, who was head winemaker at Domaine Laroche in Chablis, works with the fruit from 13th Street’s own 40 acres and buys from trusted local growers as well. The 2017 June’s Vineyard Chardonnay (450 cases) has lovely pear aromas, complexity, attractive lemon cream notes and a long vibrant finish, under $30. The 2017 Gamay Noir (2300 cases) is as juicy as we would expect an Ontario Gamay to be (that’s a good thing) and is a delicious glug, under $30. Also from 13th Street are the Burger Blends—ideal with, you guessed it, burgers. The red is a spicy and fruity Gamay/Pinot Noir blend; the white is an off-dry mostly Riesling with a bit (20 per cent) of Pinot Grigio. Easy on the palate and the wallet, around $20.

Martin Moll (L) and Nik Weis go to dinner at Otto’s
Martin Moll (L) and Nik Weis go to dinner at Otto’s

“I don’t make Riesling, I make Mosel,” says Nik Weis of St Urban’s Hof (pronounced oooff) “The great wines of the world move you emotionally. They make you remember—great Champagne, great Burgundy, great Mosel. Think of the best wines, Comtes Lafon Burgundy, Greywacke, Condrieu or white Hermitage, Kistler Chardonnay, great Mosel. The Mosel will stick out. It has recognizability and a strong character. The total is more than the sum of its parts. We are not just making wine,” he says. “We are making something that will last a long time. That’s quality.”

St Urban’s Hof wines
St Urban’s Hof wines

Today, St Urban’s Hof farms 33 hectares of Riesling on top sites (Piesport, Ockfen and Wiltingen) of the middle-Mosel and the Saar (its tributary). The family firm is also responsible for Riesling in Ontario but that’s another story.

On a recent visit Nik Weis displayed the informal side of Mosel wines at an Otto sausage dinner. The 2014 Bockstein Ockfen Spatlese is from the steep and slatey grosse lage (cru) vineyard Bockstein near Ockfen in the Saar. It’s a lovely wine with tremendous aging potential, yet charming right now with its citrusy melon, guava and honey flavours, impeccable balance and a long penetrating finish. Another wine tasted at Otto’s was the 2016 Wiltinger Alte Reben (old vines, planted in the 1930s), also from the Saar. Zingy, alive in the mouth, with spicy florals, finishes dry with some salty minerality. Balanced and delicious.

Gabriela Millan (Luigi Bosca) cradles the Finca Los Nobles Cabernet Bouchet Field Blend
Gabriela Millan (Luigi Bosca) cradles
the Finca Los Nobles Cabernet Bouchet Field Blend

We drink a lot of wine, 90 litres per capita,” says Gabriela Millan, export director for Luigi Bosca premium Argentine producer. “Maybe because of that, a lot of wineries didn’t export until the ’80s.”

Luigi Bosca wines
Luigi Bosca wines

The Gala 1, launched in 2001 to celebrate 100 years of production, is Malbec with 10 per cent Petit Verdot and five per cent Tannat. It’s an aromatic and flavourful wine—thyme, violets, plums with a richness but not heaviness in the mouth, very good acidity and round tannins.

The Gala 2 is 85 per cent Cabernet Sauvignon, 10 per cent Cabernet Franc, five per cent Merlot. “Before the Malbec juggernaut Argentina was all about Cabernet,” says Gabriela “It was the most exported wine.” Blackberry, cassis, chocolate, some freshness, eucalyptus, ripe rolling tannins. Napa Cab fans will love this.

Finca Los Nobles is an old vineyard at altitude in Luján de Cuyo. This wine is a field blend of low-yielding Malbec and Petit Verdot—warm, chocolate, abundant red fruit, well-balanced with ripe firm tannins. Also from Finca Los Nobles is a field blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Bouchet. “Not Alicante Bouchet,” says Gabriela. “These are old clones of Cab Franc, from a priest in St. Emilion named Bouchet.”

Icono is the top bottling of Luigi Bosca. Merlot and Cabernet from Los Nobles have a long maceration followed by fermentation and aging in new French. Bottled without filtration in a heavy almost opaque glass bottle A classic old school wine meant to age 25 years.

Céline Champalou pouring at Color de Vino
Céline Champalou pouring at Color de Vino

“Since forever the peasants have worked with the moon,” says Céline Champalou of Domaine Champalou as we talk about how everything old is new again. “Use the moon for the bottling—there is less sulphur and more fruit when the moon is waning,” she says. “Help nature and she will help you. We are sustainable. It’s important for diversity; we use cover crops, the vines are near the forests and we make places for bats so they can eat the bugs.”

Domaine Champalou makes incredible Chenin Blanc in Vouvray in the Loire Valley. The wines of this AC can be sec (dry) demi-sec (off dry), sparkling or made in a botrytized style called moelleux. Try the Champalou Brut, a delicate and refined bubble made in the traditional method with two years on lees, $32. The Champalou Sec is equally as refined, a still wine with flavours of honey, flowers, intense quince and peach, $31.

Domaine Champalou wines
Domaine Champalou wines

Céline was part of a group of French winemakers visiting from the Loire Valley and Bordeaux. The wines of Domaine du Salvard (Cheverny) stood out for pure pleasure and value. Though the AC is best known for Sauvignon Blanc, the rosé was impressive—a Gamay-Pinot Noir blend that practically crackled with fresh acidity, beautiful lime strawberry and cherry fruit flavours, bone dry, tasted like spring, $23. (The red is a pick for Fridge Door Wines for Spring, pg. 26).

Last but not least, another lovely sparkling wine for the bubble heads. Cabernet Franc is the red of choice for Saumur and the Chateau de Targé Saumur Brut Rosé is appealing, refreshing and delicious, $32.

Paul Jaboulet wines
Paul Jaboulet wines

“Good Hermitage is always majestic. Slow to mature, very deep in colour, magnificently and hauntingly savoury rather than sweet and flirtatious, the quintessential Syrah,” Jancis Robinson.

Fans of northern Rhône wines are always happy to enjoy the offerings of Paul Jaboulet. Bought by the Frey family in 2005, the wines, especially the legendary Hermitage La Chappelle ($305) are magnificent. For everyday, we love the 2016 Parallele 45, with its white pepper, hints of lavender, cherries and wild berries in spades. The 2016 Parallele 45 Rosé is equally engaging with fine acidity, strawberry and spice notes and zingy grapefruit on the finish, under $20.

The 2016 Crozes Hermitage Les Jalets, is made with 30 per cent fruit grown on the steep terraces of one of the best Crozes-Hermitage sites in Mercurol, then aged in large neutral barrels. It has a terrific aroma of smoky meats and cranberries along with the characteristic pepper and red fruits. Drink with grilled anything and, try chilling it down for 15 minutes first, $33.

Italian wines
Italian wines

Two Italian wines–one is white, from the centre of le Marche. The other is a red from the Aeolian Islands, far south. The 2016 Pievalta Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi Classico Superiore DOC (just call it the Pievalta Verdicchio) is a delight, nervy, fresh and delicious. The grapes are thoughtfully grown on calcareous clay and sandstone (the vineyard is Demeter certified) and the winemaking is pretty hands off. A wine to have with anything seafood, $27ish.

2016 Ypsilon IGT Terre Siciliane Rosso, is a Nerello Mascalese blend with Nero d’Avola and Corinto Nero grown on Lipari (Aeolian Islands) by Tenuta Castellaro. Nerello Mascalese is the new fave grape from Italy and it’s no wonder. It’s just so exhilarating, similar in body to Pinot Noir, with an exuberance that’s hard not to love—think Retriever puppies—fresh red fruit, lively acidity and fine-grained tannins. Drink slightly chilled this summer, $35ish.

Spanish wines
Spanish wines

Wines from Spain continue to delight with their excellent quality to value ratio. We love the Don Aurelio 2017 Verdejo La Evolucion from Valdepeñas in central Spain. It’s full-bodied with tropical aromas, a rich texture and fruity, citrusy lychee flavours. Have with vegetable tempura or Thai seafood stew, under $20. Also from the family-owned Navarro Lopez, two well-made reds. They are considered vino de la tierra de castilla because they use grape varieties that are not stipulated by the DO in their region.

The 2015 Premium 1904 has 70 per cent Tempranillo, 30 per cent Syrah in the blend. Fans of profound reds will be over the moon. Balanced, firm ripe tannins, luscious red and black fruit, with an underlying presence of warm oak. Drink now with grilled beef or lamb or cellar for five to seven years, $33. The 2017 Premium 1904 Graciano is unusual in the sense you rarely see Graciano on its own (it’s part of the blend which makes Rioja great). The wine is deeply coloured, cheerful, with lowish tannins and superlative juicy red fruit, under $30.

Find these wines at Bin 104, Color de Vino, DeVines Wines, Jasper Wine Market, Lacombe Spirits, Liquor Select, Hicks, Sherbrooke Liquor. Not all wines in all shops. Or search at

Event Calendar

Wed, May 8

Culmina Wine Dinner, Ernest’s Dining Room,

Summerhill Wine Dinner Cave Paleo Beastro

Sun, May 12

Mother’s Day Brunch, Madison’s in the Union Bank Inn, 780-401-2222 or Open Table

Prime Rib + Champagne Mother’s Day Brunch Buffet, XIX Terwillegar and St. Albert,

Mother’s Day Brunch, The Butternut Tree, 780-760-2271

Rosé all (Mothers) Day, Cavern, 780-455-1336

Wed, May 15

The Spring Tasting Menu Dinner, The Butternut Tree, 780-760-2271

Thu, May 16
Rosé in May Fundraiser, Aligra Wine and Spirits,

Wed, May 22

Annual Spring Fling for Charity, Fine Wines by Liquor Select, 780-481-6868

Dinner with Nathalie Bonhomme, Expo Centre,

Fri, May 24

The Grapes vs Grain Dinner, Ernest’s Dining Room,

Sat, May 25

Undercover Wine Tastings Sherbrooke Liquor, Eventbrite

Mon, May 27

Australian Wine Dinner XIX Terwillegar, 780-395-1119

Tue, May 28

Glenfarclas Masterclass with George Grant, Chateau Louis, or 780-452-2337

Mon, June 10

Indulgence, Delta by Marriott Edmonton South Conference Center

Tue, June 11

Blasted Church Wine Maker Dinner, The Butternut Tree, 780-760-2271

Sun, June 16

Father’s Day Brunch, The Butternut Tree, 780-760-2271

Wed, June 19

Gins in June, Aligra Wine and Spirits,

Sat, June 22

Undercover Wine Tastings, Sherbrooke Liquor, Eventbrite