Wine Maven: November December 2018

by Mary Bailey

Lisa Tinturini from La Magia
Lisa Tinturini from La Magia

Lovers of the Sangiovese grapes will eventually be seduced by Brunello. The hill town of Montalcino in southern Tuscany is surrounded by the vineyards of the Brunello region. La Magia is new to Alberta but not new to Brunello. “We started in 1974,” says Lisa Tinturini from La Magia; “there were 20 wineries. Now there are over 200.

La Magia Brunello di Montalcino

“We don’t have vineyards here, vineyards there. We have 15 hectares in one plot, all Sangiovese, all certified to Brunello and certified organic. The Rosso Montalcino is coming from there too, from the younger vines, replanted 10 years ago.” says Lisa.

We tasted the 2014 Rosso di Montalcino, the 2013 Brunello and the 2012 Brunello Riserva at a dinner at Kitchen by Brad.

The wines are elegant, balanced and transparent in their communication of vintage and terroir. The Rosso, pure Sangiovese, juicy and easy to drink. The 2013 Brunello was delicious and the Reserva is brooding, powerful, with high acidity and ripe, not chalky tannins. “If you can wait, drink in 10-12 years,” says Lisa. “2012 was a perfect vintage. 2013 was a bit more humid and the wines are more approachable, ready to drink now.”

Taittinger champagne

Mikael Falkman of Champagne Taittinger is one of our favourite people in wine—urbane, knowledgeable and truly a lover of the Champagne region. “Taittinger’s style is all about freshness and elegance,” he says. “Our fruit comes from 35 different cru with over half coming from our own vineyards (we are the largest landowner in Champagne).” Start with the Brut NV for a terrific example of the house style and continue on with the Prelude, arguably one of the best value for money wines around. The Prelude spends five years on the lees, is made from all Grand Cru fruit and although it is called NV, it is actually from the 2012 vintage. The wine has abundant floral aromas, is rich with notes of brioche and savoury flavours with a long and balanced finish. And don’t forget spiffy gift boxes are available for all Taittinger Champagne.

Seedip spirits

You may find your next cocktail at Woodwork or Three Boars is made with a non-alcoholic spirit called Seedlip. The unique flavours and aromas arise from a proprietary distillation process similar to gin making. The result? A bracing tonic with pure, intense flavours, yet, without the alcohol. It’s now available in three styles—the woodsy Spice 94, the floral Garden 108 and the new citrusy Grove 42, made with bitter orange, mandarin, blood orange, lemongrass, ginger and lemon. It’s warm, sunny and uplifting flavours will make you forget about the dark days of winter ahead. Available at Sherbrooke Liquor, in the gin section, Maven & Grace and at the Italian Centre South, $45.

Prosecco Gummies

The last time we talked about the clever and delicious gummies made with Prosecco we had heaps of calls and emails. Let’s just say there are more of these adult-only candies around this time and, bonus, they are in a bigger container! Sugar Sin Classic Prosecco Gummies in a jar, $20, available at Bella Casa, Bon Ton Bakery, Italian Centre Shops North and South and Maven & Grace.

Pablo Cúneo
Pablo Cúneo of Luigi Bosca

“We’re known as a traditional winery from Argentina, but we are actually on the vanguard,” says Pablo Cúneo, the engaging head winemaker at Luigi Bosca. “We have the passion and the knowledge to do things—like being the first Argentine winery to launch Sauvignon Blanc. We were pioneers in establishing the Malbec DOC and we were the first to do Bordeaux-style blends in the higher end wines.”

Their vineyards are in the prized parts of Mendoza—Luján de Cuyo, Maipú and the Uco Valley. Luigi Bosca arranges its wine in several collections each having a particular message, from every-day drinking to world-class wines suitable for aging. The best part? Even the iconic wines are great value. “It’s easy to make wine in Argentina, due to the climate. We have intelligent, innovative people and healthy grapes from great sites.”


“In Piedmont it’s the Barbera and Dolcetto we drink every day,” says Claudio Viberti talking about the wines his family produces, “and making a good Barbera is harder than making Barolo. Power is easy, elegance is the hard part.” The Barbera is fun and juicy, very fresh, with blueberry notes and vibrant acidity. The Dolcetto d’Alba Superiore is also juicy, with lovely violet and Amarela cherry notes and sweet ripe fruit. The Langhe Nebbiolo possesses a pure expression of the fruit. The Buon Padre Barolo is attractively lean, with lively acidity and a long finish. Here’s to drinking wine like the Piemontese.

Ruinart on ice at The Butternut Tree dinner
Ruinart on ice at The Butternut Tree dinner

Dinner at The Butternut Tree with Ruinart Champagne exceeded every expectation. Scott Downey’s cooking is precise yet approachable. His coast to coast menu began with east coast oysters and seaweed and carried on with Quebec duck, west coast mushrooms and prairie vegetables. Really fine. I love Ruinart for its elegance and subtlety. The wines are made with a high proportion of Chardonnay (or all Chardonnay in the Blanc de Blanc) and are characterized by a fine bubble, loads of chalky mineral along with a sense of a sea breeze—a briny fresh quality—and citrus in the flavours. Ruinart Brut began the evening, followed by the Blanc de Blanc NV, Dom Ruinart Blanc de Blanc 2004 and the Rosé. The 2004 was a deeper, richer, more savoury expression of Chardonnay, which paired beautifully with chef Downey’s mushroom dish. The robust Rosé (made with 20 per cent Pinot) was a slam dunk with the tender, juicy and flavourful duck. “The style of Ruinart could be summed up in two words—aromatic freshness,” says Brent Sutcliffe, brand ambassador for Ruinart.

Find the wines at Aligra, Campbell’s, Color de Vino, DeVine Wines, Keg and Cork and other fine wine shops. Not all wines available in all stores.

Event Calendar

Wed, November 7
Viberti Giovanni Wine Tasting, Keg n Cork Liquor Company, 780-461-0191

The Taste of the Languedoc Gerard Bertrand Wine Dinner, Wildflower Grill, 780-990-1938

Tue, November 13
Port Wars Wine Dinner
The Workshop Eatery, 780-705-2205

Tue, November 20
Bordeaux Tasting with Bill Medak
Color de Vino,

Thu, November 22
Australian and New Zealand Tasting, Elisabeth Muir, Negociants, Everything Wine, 780-417-3356

Sat, December 1
Color de Vino Open House
Color de Vino, 780-439-9069

Wed, December 5
Liquor Select Open House
Liquor Select, 780-481-6868

Thu, December 6
Hicks Open House
Hicks Fine Wines, 780-569-5000

Thu, December 6
Aligra Wine & Spirits Open House
Aligra Wine & Spirits

Wed, December 12
Bubbles Galore!! Festive Sparkling
Wines, Color de Vino

Thursdays in December
Cibo Big Bottle Thursdays
Cibo Bistro, 780-757-2426