Wine Maven: September October 2018

The Wine Maven talks about Ports to drink this fall, a new Tempranillo from Nathalie Bonhomme and why we should take a look at Marlborough’s (NZ) other grape varieties, especially Chardonnay.

by Mary Bailey

el Grand Bonhomme
el Grand Bonhomme

Nathalie Bonhomme is one of our favourite people in wine. Her Stick Man red and white (Petit Bonhomme and el Bonhomme) are regulars in the fridge door and with Friday night pizza. Now, she has released a more serious wine, el Grand Bonhomme, 100 per cent Tempranillo from Castilla y Leon, close to Ribera del Duero in northern Spain. The grapes from old vines are grown at altitude (over 800 metres) creating a wine of elegance and depth. Profound in flavour but not heavy, every sip is a delight. We love the rich, dark red fruit, the hint of stony minerality and the lovely freshness.

Find at Color de Vino, $33.

Croft 430th Anniversary Celebration Edition Ruby Reserve

Croft 430th Anniversary Celebration Edition Ruby Reserve
Croft 430th Anniversary Celebration Edition Ruby Reserve

Croft’s distinctive house style is based on the high-quality fruit from Croft’s jewel in the crown, the Quinta da Roêda vineyard, which contains some of the oldest vines in the Douro. The aromas are complex and vibrant— intense cassis, dark cherries and fresh plum coupled with delicate violet and rose petal florals. The texture—typical Croft roundness with firm tannins and fresh acidity. The flavour? Expect loads of berry fruit with lingering strawberry and cherry notes. All in all, a fine drink. The bonus? It doesn’t require any more aging and can be left open for up to two months, without a loss in quality. History buffs will love the label, a reproduction of the Sinking of the Spanish Armada in 1588 painting by Jan Luyken, $30.

Taylor’s Limited Edition Tawny Port

Taylor’s Limited Edition Tawny Port
Taylor’s Limited Edition Tawny Port

The unique bottle design is based on the original, hand-blown, one litre Taylor’s flask, first used in the 1730s. The wine, blended from Taylor’s extensive Tawny stocks, is delish and ready to drink now. It opens with aromas of plums, plump raisins, figs, with background notes of cigar box and leather. Love the grippy, yet well-integrated tannins and the dry-ish, lingering finish. In between are luscious Christmas cake spices and flavours. Enjoy this well-rounded Tawny in a great package, slightly chilled, $70.

Quevedo 30-year-old White Port
Quevedo 30-year-old White Port

Something we are seeing more of these days is white port, often drunk with tonic or in a cocktail. Here’s one you don’t want to mix. The Quevedo 30-year-old White Port deserves your attention, and, it’s one of the few Ports made from organic fruit available. The aromas are similar to an Amontillado Sherry, reminiscent of dried flowers and fruits, especially orange. It’s off-dry, not too sweet, with intense flavours. It finishes with a lovely crispness, never cloying, leaving your palate primed for another sip. Love the spicy white Christmas cake notes. Drink all on its own, slightly chilled, in a beautiful glass. Find at Devines, Hicks and other fine wine shops, $110, or so.

Clive Jones, head winemaker at Nautilus
Clive Jones, head winemaker at Nautilus

Clive Jones, head winemaker at the iconic New Zealand producer Nautilus was in town this summer to talk wine. Specifically, about how the Marlborough region is evolving. The distinctive style of the Sauvignon Blanc made there (crisp, lean, fresh and green) put the region on the map. (In 1985 there were 80 wineries; there is 667 now.) Yet, the overwhelming popularity of the style has created its own dilemma, more demand than the region can possibly fill. So, in order to increase sales, some wine companies increased yields and brought in grapes to augment (perfectly legal, the rules state the grapes in wine called Marlborough has to be 85 per cent grown in the appellation) their own supply of local fruit. But, this can lead to lower quality and eventually harm the reputation of the area. Clive and other responsible winemakers decided to do something to uphold what’s special about the region. They registered the trademark 100 per cent Marlborough and started an association which requires a commitment to restrict yields, use only Marlborough-grown fruit, bottle the wines in the region and undergo regular audits. It’s a guarantee of authenticity and we should start seeing the trademark on wine of the 2018 vintage.

The other thing Clive wants us to know? Look beyond Savvy to discover the other grape varieties the region grows well—Chard, Pinot, even Grüner Veltliner. The Chardonnay blew our minds, beautifully balanced, restrained, elegant, yet with vibrant new world energy in the juicy fruit. Really delicious and affordable too.

Look for the Nautilus Chard in stores later this fall.

Find these wines at better wine shops. Prices are approximate. Check for stockists in your neighbourhood.

Event Calendar

Wed, September 5
Viberti Giovanni Wine Tasting, Keg n Cork Liquor Company, 780-461-0191

Fri, September 7
Wine 101 Tasting Class, Aligra Wine and Spirits

Sat, September 11
Bodega & Cavas de Weinert Winemaker Dinner, The Glass Monkey

Thu, September 13
Culmina Family Estate Winery, Dinner with Don Triggs, Ernest’s, 780-471-8685

September 14-15
The Mashing: Spirits, Cider and Beer Festival,

Sat, September 15
Fall Open House, Hick’s Fine Wines,

Thu, September 20
Ricasoli Winery Winemaker, Dinner with Filippo Vanni, Sorrentino’s St. Albert, 780-459-1411

Thu, September 20
Merlot Meets Monet Tasting, Li Ka Shing Centre, 8602 112 Street, Eventbrite

Thu, September 27
Luigi Bosca Winemaker Dinner with Pablo Cúneo, The Glass Monkey,

Wed, October 3
Sartori di Verona Winery Winemaker Dinner with Serge Leveque, Bistecca, 780-439-7335

Fri, October 5
Cheap ‘n Cheerful Wines Under $25 Tasting, Aligra Wine and Spirits

Fri, October 5
Buena Vista Winery Winemaker Dinner, Ernest’s Dining Room, 780-471-8685

Tue, October 9
Ken Forrester Tasting, Hick’s Fine Wines,

Thu, October 11
Gérard Bertrand with Nicolas Galy Tasting, Hick’s Fine Wines,

Fri, October 12
Gerard Bertrand Winemaker, Dinner with Nicolas Galy, Revel Bistro and Bar, 587-524-3333

Wed, October 17
Champagne Taittinger Winemaker Dinner with Mikael Falkman, Solstice Seasonal Cuisine, 780-488-4567

Thu, October 18
Champagne Taittinger Tasting with Mikael Falkman, Vines Riverbend Wine Merchants, 780-434-9444

Tue, October 23
Greywacke Vineyards Tasting with Richard Ellis, Vines Riverbend Wine Merchants, 780-434-9444

Thu, October 25
Germany and Austria—Europe’s, Unsung Heroes with Marcia J. Hamm, Hick’s Fine Wines,

mark the date

A Sunday in November 
Truffle and Wine Dinner, Sorrentino’s Downtown,