December 4, 2012

These are a few of my favourite things

Each December, I like to assemble a selection of wines tasted over the last year. For one reason or another, these labels have left me speechless with a glass in one hand and a corkscrew in the other. It may have been a moment of discovery, an unimaginable bargain, or a bottle that quite simply knocked my socks off!  I don't place a price on pleasure and thus the labels listed below range significantly across the spectrum.  Incidentally, any one of these bottles will add a touch of class to your holiday festivities this month.  

I would like to wish you a very happy and safe holiday.  Drink lots of wine and share your  best bottles with those who are closest to you.

To quote Andre Simon, “Wine makes every meal an occasion, every table more elegant, every day more civilized.”

VINTAGES 322297 | 750 mL bottle
Bordeaux, France
A blend of Sauvignon and Semillon from the vines of Bordeaux mixed with a shot of brandy and delicately packed with personality.  Tastes of peach, apricot, and a touch of orange rind bitterness; creamy on the mid-palate; refreshing, and everlasting.  Advertised, as an aperitif but this will also work with light desserts. You’ll crave another sip.  Serve well chilled.

VINTAGES 290080 | 750 mL bottle 
Rhône, France
Located just over an hour from the Mediterranean Sea, Cairanne is the western-most village in the Côtes du Rhône Villages appellation. This outstanding Grenache based blend shows aromas of strawberry and sweet spices.  Medium bodied and uplifting with hints minerality followed by a core of plum sweetness that lasts through to the finish.  Sip it solo or with tapas on the side.

LCBO 269654 | 750 mL bottle 
Not that I have any sort of issue with Greek wine, but this one really caught me by surprise. Captivating from the first whiff to the very last sip. Floral delicacy with subtle tropical aromas but in no way aggressive.  Just a hint of effervescence and oak lead to an uplifting and highly refreshing taste – you’ll enjoy this! 

LCBO 621003 | 750 mL bottle 
Rioja, Spain
To be classified as Rioja Reserva, the wine must age for 3 years, of which one must be spent in oak prior to release for sale.  The wood softens the wine while at the same time adding a degree of complexity to the equation and this example is textbook.  Balance is key (the wood can overpower) and Montecillo has achieved perfect harmony in their 2006.  Red fruit abounds:  raspberry and cherry; a touch of smoke; the oak is present but in no way intrusive; perhaps just a hint of caramel - lovely.  I’ve paid much more for wine of this quality; the tannins are like velvet with a juicy sweet core and a lingering finish – is one bottle enough? 

VINTAGES 716142 | 750 mL bottle
Barossa, Australia
This wine ranks at #6 on my top 10 list of all-time favourite bottles.  I've included it here for a couple of reasons:  one, we opened it just the other day and I can still taste it!  And secondly, because on occasion you can still stumble upon a bottle of the '05 vintage on the store shelves. This wine (in my very critical opinion) is the perfect bottle of Shiraz molded in the finest new-world style.

Sourced from 1894 Shiraz plantings of a single estate owned 8 acre block. It spends 3 years in 100% new oak: 65% American, 35% French.   Super-concentrated, rich and almost viscous, it coats your senses with chocolate, ripe currants, and cassis. But it was the mix of raspberry tart and black pepper on the finish that won me over - a fantastic wine!  Decant 1-2 hours before serving. 

LCBO 38307 | 750 mL bottle
Champagne, France
This is not the popular Clicquot but I think it is the better one. Demi-Sec means half-dry or semi-sweet. Expect citrus notes, toasted almonds, and a smooth mouth feel. Nicely balanced; this is exceptional Champagne and it goes well as a dessert compliment or even all on its own.

LCBO 250134 | 750 mL bottle
Quebec, Canada
French-Canadian Maple Whisky!  A flurry of adjectives cannot do this beverage justice – you must try it.  I know people who dribble Sortilège over ice cream, mix it into cocktails, and even lace their coffee with a dash.  The traditional way however, is to serve Sortilège at room temperature over the rocks in a lowball glass.  The chill of the ice dances across your palate as it flirts with the warmth of the alcohol and the intoxicating sweetness of the maple syrup – Fantastique!  

LCBO 620641 | 500 mL bottle
This is really nice tawny and the 500ml bottle is perfect for sitting by the fire with your sweetie! There is an initial orange rind bite that some people like in their port (I don't) but it smooths out beautifully in the glass after a few minutes. And if there is any left the next day, it tastes like the Graham's 30 which is absolute perfection in a bottle if you ever have a chance to buy one.  Try this tawny at room temperature with milk chocolate.

A final thought before I leave you to make a mad dash for the wine shop...

“Few people have intellectual resources sufficient to forgo the pleasures of wine. They could not otherwise contrive how to fill the interval between dinner and supper.”

― Samuel Johnson
Boswell's Life of Johnson

Have a Wonderful Holiday


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Tyler is a member of the Wine Writers' Circle of Canada and the Guild of Sommeliers. He writes about and reviews wine both online and via a variety of circulating publications. In 2009 Tyler founded North of 9 Fine Wine, a free public wine education resource where he publishes his Thoughts, Theory, and Recommendations. For additional vinous related information and learning, follow on Twitter @TylerOnWine