The beginning of the new year has brought a good amount of new wine releases to retail shelves. I’ve recently had the chance to sample through a bunch of selections, whether new vintages or new wines to our market, and I’m pretty excited about these fresh faces.
This column will be a two-parter, with another slate of newbies profiled next week. I have everything from lively sparkling wine to a sturdy, broad-shouldered Cabernet; we’ll look at things this week from lightest to heaviest.
Cono Sur Brut Rosé
(Bio Bio, Chile; $17.99, B.C. Liquor Stores)
Cono Sur has always delivered bang for our buck, and this sparkling pink wine allows the trend to continue. The Pinot Noir in this fizz comes from Bio Bio in the south of Chile, a cool-climate region that keeps those plum and cherry flavours bright and buoyant with zippy acidity, carrying ’em toward the lengthy, citrusy, and slightly herbaceous finish. It’ll do just fine with assorted cheeses, charcuterie, and salty fried snacks.
Crudo Organic Catarratto Zibibbo 2016
(Sicily, Italy; $17.99, B.C. Liquor Stores)
The island charm of Sicily is in full force here, with Catarratto bringing both lemon blossom and orange pulp to the aromatics and front of the palate. Zibibbo, more commonly known as Muscat of Alexandria, carries the end with a tropical chime; think hibiscus, litchi, and pomegranate. There’s an octopus on the label, which makes for fun branding, but I can’t help but think it a good pairing suggestion as well.
Schloss Reinhartshausen Dry Riesling 2016
(Rheingau, Germany; $22.99, B.C. Liquor Stores)
It’s Riesling, it’s dry, and it’s really floatin’ my boat these days. There’s a little bit of a spritz here, keeping things nice and fresh. While expected components like lime and green apples are indeed on offer, there’s a lovely twang of guava and a drop or two of honey added to the mix, providing a little extra character.
Domaine De l’Olivette Blanc 2016
(Pays d’Oc, France; $15.99, B.C. Liquor Stores)
This blend of organic Grenache Blanc and Marsanne sings with yellow plums, gooseberries, star fruit, and Honeycrisp apple. A definite crowd pleaser, and at this price, it’d be handy to have an extra bottle or two around, ready for unexpected company.
Garnier et Fils Chablis 2015
(Burgundy, France; $37 to $42, private liquor stores)
I grabbed a bottle of this Chablis most recently at Marquis Wine Cellars on Davie Street and was smitten with the lemony aromatics, along with the tangy river-rock elements on the palate all drenched in fresh-squeezed pomelo and pink grapefruit. The big fail on my part was not having fresh seafood at the ready.
Domaine Lafage Côté Est Roussillon Blanc 2016
(Côtes Catalanes, France; $17.99, B.C. Liquor Stores)
There’s a waxy richness to this Grenache Blanc and Vermentino blend; the wild-asparagus and young-almond flavours are livened up by jasmine and gardenia flowers, with a little squeeze of mandarin orange as it trails off toward the end. There’s a good weight here, too: perfect for mild curries, barbecued chicken, and sharp cheeses.
Jean-Maurice Raffault Chinon 2016
(Loire Valley, France; $22.99, B.C. Liquor Stores)
This Cabernet Franc is fresh as can be, zippy and bright with red bell peppers and heirloom tomatoes, dusted with fresh oregano, thyme, and basil, then finishing quite mineral and dry. It’s quite light on its feet; do ensure it’s served with a bit of a chill to keep all those wonderful flavours elevated.
Arrowood Knights Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2013
(Sonoma, California; $51.46, Everything Wine)
It’s tough to find decent California Cabernet at a good price these days, especially one as well-built as this. If you’re looking for an opulent red ultraplush wine with sweet, ripe fruit, this ain’t it. What we have here instead is a balanced composition of red and black currants, dusty cocoa, espresso, cedar, and eucalyptus, all on point and showing well. There’s also a good streak of minerality and dusty tannins keeping everything in check. Hey, it’s still a Cabernet Sauvignon; feel free to give it a good decanting first so all those flavours can easily develop. Food pairing–wise, think lamb shank, sirloin steak, hamburgers, and other meaty delights.