L’opera des Vins ‘les années folles’ Vin de France 2015

Winery: A native of the Loire Valley, Jean-Pierre Robinot began crafting wine in 2002, prior to that he owned a natural wine bar in Paris and was the co-founder of the renowned independent wine publication: “Le Rouge et Le Blanc”. He has 10 hectares of vineyards in Jasnieres and Coteaux du Loire, and also purchases grapes from friends and neighbors that share the same winemaking philosophy and principles. His wines are known for their clarity of fruit, complexity and true expression of terroir.

Winemaking: All vineyards are farmed organically. Zero chemicals or additives of any kind are used. Only indigenous yeasts are used, sulphur is not added at all, no filtering or refining. Wines are not released until Robinot believes they are ready to drink.

Tasting Notes: Golden amber in colour with heady aromas of sea spray, seashells, honey, apricot and a trace of graham cracker. Delicate apricot, pear, peach and a shake of cinnamon are glossed by citrus acidity. Consistent, fine bubbles carry thru to the very end, chalky minerality and a squeeze of tangerine linger between each sip. Engaging, refreshing with an elegant edge, this is spectacular on its own, or with interesting foods. [I enjoyed it on its own, then with raw provolone and homemade bread and salty butter.]

Blend of Chenin Blanc and Pineau d’Aunis
Vin de France
France
Bottled by L’opera des Vins, Jean-Pierre Robinot
12% Alcohol
$32
Enjoy now thru 2019

Zuccardi ‘Serie A’ Malbec Mendoza 2016

Estate: The Zuccardi family has been making wine in Mendoza since 1963, when Alberto Zuccardi planted his first vines. Now in his 90’s, Alberto is known as a pioneering force in both Mendoza and the Uco Valley. Today, the multiple estate vineyards and winery are headed by Alberto’s son, José, along with José’s eldest son, Sebastián, and daughter, Julia [the 3rd generation].

The family believes in caring for the land and “using people rather than machines whenever possible”. Many of the families that worked with the company under Alberto’s leadership are still with the estate today. With over 800 hectares of vineyards, the family focuses on “coexisting with nature without damaging it”. Preservation of biodiversity is greatly important; more than 70 hectares are woods, over 1800 species of native flora are preserved, and biological corridors have been created. Chemical products are not used at all, the vineyards are farmed sustainably and organically, with 35% currently certified organic. Sustainable methods, including a comprehensive recycling program, composting of must and skins, and solar energy are utilized in the cellar.

‘Serie A’ stands for “Argentina Series” and was created as a means of expressing the “most representative grape varieties by recognizing the best growing regions specific to each and selecting top vineyard sites along the foothills of the Andes Mountains.” The Serie A line “demonstrates the richness and diversity of Argentina’s many micro-climates and soils”.

Philosophy: “The word ‘family’ is central to the way in which we have always run our business.”

Winemaking: Grapes are from different vineyards across the Valle de Uco, making “the wine more complete and complex”. Fermented with indigenous yeasts in concrete vats, part of the wine was aged in used French oak barrels for 10 months.

Tasting Notes: Deep red-violet in colour with aromas of black cherry, plum, leather and crushed black peppercorn. Black cherry, blackberry, dark chocolate and a shake of white pepper are framed by bright acidity and black tea tannins. Baked berries and baking spice linger on the velvety finish. Fruity and lush, fantastic on its own or with a wide variety of dishes.

100% Malbec
Mendoza
Argentina
Produced and Bottled by Familia Zuccardi
13.5% Alcohol
$15 [average price]
Enjoy now thru 2020

Rated 91 points by Wine Advocate

 

Sample submitted for editorial consideration.

Giacomo Fenocchio Barolo DOCG 2011

Estate: The Fenocchio family has been producing wine from their land in the heart of the Bussia in Monforte d’Alba since 1894. In 1964, Giacomo Fenocchio took over for the estate with the goal of crafting the finest wines in Barolo, so he purchased prime parcels in some of the best crus in the Langhe. Today, Giacomo’s son Claudio heads the estate and continues his father’s tradition of crafting character driven wines. Considered as one of the next stars in Barolo, Claudio’s is known for his minimalist, non-internationalist approach. He makes 11 different wines from 14 hectares of vineyards. His wines are renowned for their “level of terroir clarity that is only found in the top echelon of producers”.

Winemaking: Following agricultural practices passed on for 5 generations, the estate is both organic and sustainable. Grapes are from a 1 hectare, hilly vineyard at 350 meters in elevation with sand, clay and calcareous marl soil. Vines are 20 years old. Traditional method of long maceration with natural fermentation, 40 days in stainless steel tanks. Aged 6 months in stainless steel tanks, 30 months in large capacity Slavonian oak casks (25-35 hl) and successive refinement in the bottle.

Tasting Notes: Garnet with brick edges in colour with ever-revolving aromas of black cherry, candied violet, tar, roses, chocolate cherry tartufo and cherry pie. Layers of all the cherries [black red and a streak of sour] tarry earth, violet and orange peel framed by grippy tannins and fresh acidity. Licorice, crushed black peppercorn and earth line the lengthy finish. A bit of rustic charm to this Barolo, the complexity will only continue to increase with time. A lovely sip.

Pairing Suggestions from the Winemaker: meat, game and mature cheeses age which are so typical of the local kitchen, also goes very well with all the rich dishes of international cuisine.

Enjoy at 17-18°C [62-64°F]

100% Nebbiolo
Barolo DOCG
Italy
Estate Bottled by Azienda Agricola Giacomo Fenocchio s.s.
14.5% Alcohol
$30[average price]
Enjoy now thru 2026

Stratus Vineyards ‘Red’ Niagara-On-The-Lake VQA 2012

Estate: Located in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada, Stratus Vineyards was the world’s first fully LEED-certified winery in the world in 2005. The 62 acres of vineyards “are divided into 44 distinct blocs. Each one, its own small ‘somewhereness’.” The soil consists of layers of mineral-rich earth, resting on a limestone foundation, resulting in a “clay-loam mosaic” of individual soil types. The sustainable estate grows 10 varieties of red grapes and 6 varieties of white. In 2009 Stratus enlisted famed winemaker/viticulturist Paul Hobbs “to bring additional international perspective to its operations”.

Philosophy: “The wine we grow is dependent on the health of the land on which it is grown. We farm our vineyard and guide our winemaking as though our children’s future depends on it. Each vintage bottled is a reflection of this ongoing commitment.”

Winemaking: Sustainable and minimalist methods are followed. Aged 622 days in French oak, 35% new.

Harvest Note from the Winery: Summer temperatures continued to be above average with July being much drier than normal. Overall, the hot, dry climate resulted in the best growing season for Stratus to date and provided flawless fruit for an impressive lineup of wines.

Tasting Notes: Inky red violet in colour with aromas of vanilla, chocolate, cherry, strawberry, black pepper and a savoury wisp. Strawberry and raspberry glide over a mocha frame, supported by velvety tannins and good acidity. Black pepper, black cherry and a hint of earth comprise the lengthy finish. Decadent and suave, great on its own, with spicy dishes or rich chocolate desserts.

Blend of 29% Cabernet Sauvignon, 26% Cabernet Franc, 26% Merlot, 13% Petit Verdot, 3% Malbec, 3% Tannat
Niagara-On-The-Lake VQA
Canada
13.8% Alcohol
$44 [Canadian Dollars]
Enjoy now thru 2022

Prosper Maufoux Chablis 2016

Estate: Passionate about winemaking, Prosper Maufoux founded the Burgundian estate in 1860. Located in the village of Santenay, in the heart of the southern Côte d’Or, the estate has a long history of crafting high quality, terroir driven wines. Today the company is headed by Eric Piffaut, whose family’s winemaking roots in Burgundy go back to 1898. Winemaker Nadine Gublin is at the helm, receiving many accolades, including being named the first female “Winemaker of the Year” by France’s leading wine magazine, La Revue du Vin de France.

Winemaking: Grapes are gently pressed with the juice clarified at low temperature to preserve its freshness. Alcoholic and malolactic fermentation take place in temperature-controlled stainless steel vats, followed by ageing on fine lees in a stainless steel for 10 months.

Tasting Notes: Pale gold in colour with aromas of flinty minerals, honeysuckle and lemon. Yellow apple, pear and lemon meld with a flinty mineral core, fresh acidity highlights pink grapefruit on the dry, mineral driven finish. Elegant and svelte, excellent on its own or as a companion to a wide variety of dishes.

Pairing Suggestions from the Winery: Dishes featuring cream sauces and softer cheeses, poultry, roasted fish.

100% Chardonnay
Chablis AOC
France
Bottled at Rully by Prosper Maufoux
12.5% Alcohol
$27 [average price]
Enjoy now thru 2021

Sample submitted for editorial consideration.