Good buys for summer sipping
Here’s more from the recent batch of new wine arrivals—mixed pairs, quickly tasted and rated.
To begin, two from the venerable house of Masi: a red and a white, one from Veneto and one from Argentina. Great buys, both of them, for your summer table.
Masi Modello Bianco delle Venezie 2011class="greybold"> ($11.99, general listing)
Every once in a while, a major label goes into bargain mode; it’s known in the trade as an LTO (limited-time offer) and this was one such. As if $11.99 weren’t bargain enough (it’s all relative, with your two-buck chuck), this one dropped by a buck for all of May and might still be hanging around some LDB shelves at the discount price. The producer terms it “a modern, innovative white wine…nevertheless maintaining Masi’s roots in Veneto”. What it is, is a gulper—and a good one, at that: mineral-y, fruity, rich, and biting nicely at the back of the tongue. Right as rain with risotto and a tasty apéritif, especially with a dash of amaro.
Masi Tupungato Passo Doble Malbec/Corvina 2010 class="greybold">(permanently reduced price is $14.99, specialty listing)
This Argentine treat made by the major Italian producer takes its name from the mountain, one of the highest in South America, that sits between Chile and Mendoza, the principal wine-producing province in Argentina. Masi carries the double tribute through by blending Argentina’s best- known and widely produced grape variety, Males, with the Italian Corvina variety, which is generally mixed with a handful of other reds to make Valpolicella and Bardolino. This is a delicious medium-bodied food wine that represents excellent value and suits dozens of dishes.
Hester Creek Character White 2011class="greybold"> ($19.99 at the winery)
Leading the swell of the new breed of Italian-style white blends in the South Okanagan, this is a textbook-good, state-of-the-art mix of Pinot Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, and the (relatively) rare Trebbiano. Good weight, good fruit, good balance, and a fine finish, with the grapes all sourced from estate vineyards along the Golden Mile. Take an initial gulp—never mind sipping!—and there it is: sunshine in a glass. Fine with grilled halibut with rhubarb and leafy greens; full in the mouth and versatile as can be. Worth the drive and a visit to the winery to stock up.
Hester Creek Trebbiano 2011class="greybold"> ($22.99 at the winery)
Go ahead and splurge: spend $23 on a white from B.C. you may not know. You’ll like what you taste. Nobody else in the province makes wine from this important European white grape variety. It originated in Italy, soon found a foothold in France, and is now estimated by some to produce more wine than any other variety in the world, even though it’s (still) relatively scarce here at home. Hester Creek has been making this wine—which is grey-green-golden in colour, with lush aromas and a silky finish for the palate—since ’68. It’s full and very fruity, a touch exotic with tingly acidity, and well suited to spritzing, if you like. Along with Hillside Estates’ Muscat Ottonel, it’s a real harbinger of impending summer.
And while we’re on the subject of Hillside, here’s a trio, just because I’ve got them to hand: a rich white, a foodie red, and one of the best new pinks of the season, from the Naramata winery with the new label look.
Hillside Rose 2011 class="greybold">($11.99 at the winery and selected Vancouver VQA stores)
An essential summer wine: lots of cherries right off the nose, a little bit sweet (nicely so), fresh and fruity, complex in the finish, great with food of all kinds. The mix is mostly Merlot, with Cabernet Franc, Gamay, and Pinot Noir. Total production was 543 cases, so there should be some around for a while into summer.
Hillside GewUrztraminer 2011class="greybold"> ($19.99 at the winery and VQA stores)
Soft and mellow, aromatic but sturdy, with a fresh, food-complementary finish and solid weight on the palate; rich and robust but still supple. The all–Naramata Bench fruit makes an off-dry lunch and dinner wine. If you like your Gewürz without flower petals in the smell and the taste, come here and drink deep.
Hillside Pinot Noir 2010 class="greybold">($24.99 at the winery and VQAs)
Deep raspberry and cherry aromas, and softer on the palate than many other Okanagan Pinots. It’s silky, without any harsh edges. Dry and hearty, robust and fruity; not so watery as many others from the same ’hood. This is a different style of Pinot Noir than you may be accustomed to; $25 may not be cheap for experimenting, but the result will please the questing wine palate.
Soon, some new South Africans and a little tribute to Gray Monk, celebrating a 30/40/50 triple anniversary this year. Check back in a few weeks.