Sunday, 18 November 2018

Trio Infernal - Combier - Fishcer - Gerin RIU Priorat 2014

The Priorat is located just a short drive away from Barcelona, Spain.  Upon arrival, the steep slopes and sharp turns on the road is enough to take your breath away, but the wines even more so.  The growers and producers here know they are part of something special.  The dry climate, rolling hills and the poor soil makes it very hard for anything to grow.  But vines do, and that is all that matters.

The Priorat is famous for its llicorella soil.  Crumbling  bits of laminated slate that are almost dark copper in colour.  Vines dig deep to find moisture, water and nutrients in order to thrive.  This hard work reflects in the beauty of the wine, which has concentrated depth, intensity and complexity.

The Trio Infernal of Riu is a partnership between Laurent Combier of Crozes Hermitage, Peter Fischer of Provence, and Michel Gerin of Côte Rotie who come together to make top quality wines in the Priorat. Make no doubt about it, this is wine is wonderfully crafted, powerful and captivating. This has got to be one of the top new wines I have tasted this year, and here's why...

This is a blend of 33% Garnacha, Carignan, and Syrah aged 12 months in new oak.  The wine has a fruit forward excitement of modern wine making with the complexity and fierceness of old vines.  There is structure, depth, and rustic elegance  that instantly teleports you to the hills of Priorat.  This wine retains all the beauty and power that wines from this region is known for...but also with a welcoming freshness and vibrancy that leaves a lasting impression. 

Bold and beautiful fruit, showing blackberries, blueberries and dark cherries with bits of spice and earth.  Intense flavour with excellent acidity and soft tannins leading to an elegant finish composed of dark fruit with a good streak of minerality. Gorgeous wine.  Outstanding quality to price ratio. Drink now or in the next 4-5 years.

Monday, 5 November 2018

Anthony Carone: Pioneer of Quebec Pinot Noir

There is a lot of buzz about wineries in Quebec. Professionals and consumers alike have been recently pondering whether or not this is a place that can make good wine, or if terroir can even exist here?  These are not new debates, and it is worth mentioning that in any wine region, new or old, we are always learning, evolving, and experimenting.

To get a better understanding of wine in Quebec, the best person to paint a clear picture is someone who has been in the wine industry for the past 20 plus years, and who has a keen and clear vision of where they want their wines to go.  A pioneer, who has taken the all of the risk to plant European wine grapes in one of the most exciting regions of Quebec- that person is  Anthony Carone from the Lanaudière region of Quebec.

In 1990, Anthony left his desk job to undertake the risky initiative of making wine in Lanoraie, just northeast of Montreal.  To say he is experienced is an understatement. He was the very first to plant Pinot noir, one of the most difficult and finickiest wine grapes to grow in the 1990’s.  Since then, he has been experimenting with the different expressions of Pinot Noir, and one of his first cuvees was launching the VENICE brand; an elegant and structured Pinot Noir with some oak aging.  After gaining numerous awards and high scores from top wine critics, he launched the VERITÀ label; a fresh and pure expression of Pinot Noir, aged 100% in stainless steel. 

An opinionated person, you cannot help but be drawn to his honesty and his passion for wine making.  Stepping out of his comfort zone, he most recently launched  a 100% Pinot Noir called Apex -  a natural wine with minimal intervention and made following his family's traditional process.  This special parcel of Pinot Noir grapes had no chemicals added during the growing season and wine making process. Anthony is constantly pushing the limits and his love for Pinot Noir grown in Quebec and his vineyard boasts approximately one third planted with Pinot Noir grapes and the following trio of wines are estate grown on his Lanoraie vineyard.  

All three wines are an incredible example of the different expressions of Pinot Noir grown on Quebec soil.  At the moment, there is a rare opportunity whereby all three styles of Pinot Noir available at the same time.  These wines are available exclusively at fine grocers and online at 

Venice Pinot Noir 2015  $35

Coming from sandy loam soils, this Pinot Noir was aged 8 months in oak barrels, 75% in used American and 25% in New French oak.  Very fresh in style, there is an added complex notes of cloves, cedar, tobacco and earth.  There is a harmonious balance of acidity and fruit intensity with supple tannins that add just the right amount of texture.  An incredibly structured wine, with elegant style and a long, soft finish.  Drink now or in the next 5-6 years.

Verità Pinot Noir 2015  $28

Coming from sandy loam soils, this is a very fruit forward style of Pinot Noir.  Delicate and delicious notes of cherries, blackberries and dried cranberries on the palate with added spice and cloves.  The acidity is spot on, very refreshing with finely integrated tannins and soft mouthfeel.  The finish is fruity and fresh.  It is a very approachable and thirst quenching wine.  Drink now or in the next 2-3 years. 

Apex Vin Nature Pinot Noir 2017 $22

Made with indigenous yeasts, fermented on skins (70% stems)  for 12 days with manual punchdowns throughout,  no enzymes, gravity filtration, nothing added – nothing removed.  Aged in stainless steel tanks, this is the very first vintage of Apex and it is outstanding.  This is if very fruit forward, with finesse and freshness.  Crunchy, bright red fruit like strawberries, cherries, and red currant. Spice and earth framed by an incredible acidity and raspy tannins.  APEX is extremely well balanced and incredibly easy to drink.  Finish is all about the delicious and bright fruit.  Drink now. 

Sunday, 19 August 2018

Marchesi Antinori : 600 Years of Winemaking History

When a family has been in the business of making wine since the 14th Century,  it can be considered one of the most important in Italy, and Marchesi Antinori has been making some of the finest.  In 1966, Pierro Antinori took the reigns in the family business and since then has been full force into improving and striving for excellence in his wines.  This same passion and drive is now in the hands of his three daughters Albiera, Alessia and Allegra.  Their portfolio of wines show the many faces of what Tuscany and Umbria have to offer, at all different price points. 

I was recently invited to a tasting hosted by Mark Anthony Wine and Spirits, where  I was able to taste through a wine range of their products.  All the of the wines listed below are my favorites from the tasting, and I think they best represent the passion and love that the Antinori family has for their winemaking. 

Photo: Wine Spectator

Villa Antinori Bianco 2016
SAQ: 12392574  $17.80

This is a blend of Trebbiano (80%) and Malvasia (20%) showing lots of lemon and grapefruit with a palate cleansing acidity.  A nice mineral streak, very balanced and uncomplicated wine making for easy and enjoyable wine. Drink now. 

Pèppoli 2016
SAQ : 10270928  $20.00

Dark cherries and blackberry fruit dominate with soft and silky tannins.  Dusty earth and violet makes it way around the palate, as does the vinrant acidity.  The wine finishes some plum and vanilla.  Drink now or in the next 4-5 years. 

Il Bruciato Tenuta Guado al Tasso Bolgheri
SAQ: 11347018  $24.95

Cherry, blackberry and black current shows a lot of volume supported by a nice acidity. The fruit has a baked quality, as is the wine is soft with a nice persistent and concentrated finish.  The oak is coming through but ever so elegant and balanced.  Excellent quality for the price.  Drink now or in the next 5-6 years.

Badia a Passignano  Chianti Classico Gran Selezione
SAQ: 403980  $54.25

Using only the best grapes, this wine has notes of blackberry, plums, and dark cherries with balsamic and vanilla notes that make the palate round, smooth and very elegant.  Tannins are soft grained with an acidity is still holing on and very vibrant.  This wine has still a great margin for further development.  Drink in the next in 10-12 years. 

Guado al Tasso Matarocchio 2013
SAQ: 1369297  $451.00

This is an absolutely stunning wine.  It’s the kind of wine that sort of stops you at first sip and carries you off somewhere.  Made with 100% Cabernet Franc grapes, there is an incredible concentration of blackberries, cherries and plum with bits of undergrowth and leather.  It has a super fine palate, plush, elegant and soft fruit with the perfect amount of dark chocolate and cloves. Tannins are ripe and smooth, but still plenty of kick to carry along the aging process…and all of this balanced by an incredibly bright acidity.  Elegant and classic finish. Absolutely beautiful. Hold on to this one for at least another 8-12 years.

A very special thank you to Francesco Visani, commercial director of Antinori and Mark Anthony Wine and Spirits Quebec for the incredible tasting and opportunity.  

Once again, the delicious meal at Le Muscadin was outstanding.  Not only was the food impeccable, but the warm welcome was especially appreciated.  You walk into the restaurant and are treated like family.  If you ever in Old Montreal, do not miss this place.  I highly reccomend the grilled steak, which melts in your mouth....such incredible flavour.  Thank you to Le Muscadin for a memorable dining experience.  

Wine Shots:

Tuesday, 31 July 2018

Pio Cesare: Wines with a Modern Approach in a Traditional Style

When we think of Piedmonte, we think of Barolo and Barbaresco.  When we think of Barolo and Barbaresco, we ultimately think of Nebbiolo, a wine that commands attention, respect and a little bit of patience.  These same three characteristics rang true when I met  Pio Boffa, the producer of the family owned winery Pio Cesare, in Piedmonte, Italy. 

The man walks into the room at La Chronique in Montreal, and I immediately stand up a little taller, as he unknowingly commands presence and attention.  Nothing is left to chance as Mr. Boffa was keeping a close eye to every minute detail before the tasting with journalists began. Meticulous, he made sure each wine was at the perfect temperature and in the correct order, not shy to express exactly how the tasting was to be orchestrated. 

In 1881, his great grandfather Cesare Pio (at that time, it was common for people to place last names first and the first names last) founded the estate with a desire make small quantity wines with the highest possible quality.  Cesare Pio was an entrepreneur in various fields, but what started as a hobby quickly turned into something much more meaningful, and he started making wine for himself and the generations after him.  Today, the family has strictly kept the quality, tradition, respect and dedication for the wines that Cesare Pio had started so many years before. 

Barolo and Barbaresco  as we know them today, was not the same when it was initially being produced over a hundred of years ago, as they were quite sweet. Pio’s great grandfather was the first to not only erase the sweet styles, but also one of the first to make sure his wines were being exported across the world. 

Today, Pio Cesare does not make huge quantities of wine, as it is not the aim of the family.  The aim of the family is to produce, year after year, a wine that is loyal to the style of the wine that was made by the years and generations before, in the sense they are trying to portray the true essence of the terroir of Barbaresco and Barolo.   This can be difficult to do, given there is not only a change in climate, but the clones of the grapes and the people behind the wines have also changed.  As each generation comes into the business, they have their own ideas, their own opinions as to how they think things should be done, and adjustments need to be made.  “But if we keep the word respect in mind, if we adapt with the environmental and scientific changes that come, we will always respect the desire of what my family wanted to do generations ago, which is to make a style of wine that can express purity, finesse and elegance.”

One of the ways they stay true to their tradition is by blending wines from different vineyards. “This is our way of being classic, traditional, a way of being close to the way our family has been making wine.”  Since 2012, Pio Cesare has added a small quote on their labels.  Please don’t call this wine regular.’  Mr. Boffa explains, “In the industry, there is a tendency for people to believe  that the Barolos with the name of single vineyards have to be considered higher of quality, but this is not the case. In the past, at the end of the 1800’s, Barolo and Barbaresco was made by blend different locations in order to give the best expression of place.  By knowing the potential of each location, they would really produce a wine by blending grapes from the different locations which becomes the real essence of the entire location.”

The wines of Pio Cesare have a mid of a modern approach, yet set in a traditional style.  Nebbiolo is allowed to show its potential here - a gentle expression of fruit that is multifaceted.  Wines that are great young, but like people, with age get better and better.  A very special thank you to Mr. Pio Boffa and Elixirs Vins et Spiritueux for this incredible tasting.  

Pio Cesare Fides 2013
SAQ: 10802349  $45.00

Meaning ' Faith' in Latin, this 100% Barbera offers juicy strawberries and sour cherries, and spices.  Plenty of acidity, crunchy tannins and perfect kiss of oak.  There a great concentration of red fruit and bits of earth on the finish. Lovely. Drink now or in the next 8-10 years. 

Pio Cesare Oltre 2014
SAQ: 11353047  $32.25

This is a blend of Nebbiolo, Barbera, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon.  This wine is fresh and intense with ripe cherries, blackberries and plum.  The hints of tobacco and spice present themselves mid way through the sip as does the grippy tannins and very bright acidity.  Medium bodied, and smooth of the palate, this wine is very approachable and easy to drink.  The finish is nicely structured with an earthy touch.  Drink now or in the next 8-10 years.
Pio Cesare Barbaresco 2014 
SAQ: 00905026 $72.00  

A classic, well made Barbaresco which displays notes of cherries, strawberries, plums and roses.  The fruit is intense, ripe, and ever so delicate. Soft spices dance across the palate, with the slightest hint of vanilla. This wine has power and depth, but keeping balance and elegance throughout.  This is a very special wine with plenty of aging potential. Hold on to this for a bit... drink in the next 10-12 years.

Pio Cesare Barolo 2012

This wine is layered in intense cherries, strawberries and plum with spice, dry earth and beautiful floral elements.  The youthful tannins add depth and texture, and will tame down given some time. The vibrant acidity is balanced with a great depth of fruit and licorice and flowers.  The long, elegant finish ends on loads of cherries, with a fine mineral streak. Gorgeous.  Be patient here - do not open this for at least another 6-8 at the very least.  With the raspy tannins, fruit and high acidity, this has great aging potential.