Everything Wine And More

Ruth Blakely
 
March 13, 2019 | Ruth Blakely

Tuscany: Beyond Sangiovese

Many of us grew up buying a cheap bottle of Chianti that came in a basket and college kids turned into a candle holder.  As the decades passed fantastic wines from the Chianti region made their way into the Alberta market.  The wines made primarily from the Sangiovese grapes remain some of the best food wines in the world.  

In the mid to late 20th century, some maverick wine makers scoffed at the strict Italian wine rules and began making premier wine with grapes that most people associated with France.  Fantastic wines made with Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot started to garner rave reviews and loyal fans.  Wine critic Robert Parker is often credited with coining the term ‘Super Tuscan’ to describe these special wines.

The Italian DOC and DOCG rules meant some of Italian wines commanding the highest prices had to be called Vino da Tavola – or ‘table wine’.  The rules changed in 1992 when the IGT (Indicazione Geografica Tipica) classification was created to accommodate them.  Now some of the premier DOCs include Super Tuscans.

Wines such as Sassicaia, Masseto, Ornellaia and Solaia come with big price, but deliver consistently spectacular wine.  They age incredibly well and are often a trophy holding pride of place in a fine wine cellar.

There’s good news for the rest of us though.  You don’t have to spend hundreds of dollars to enjoy these wonderful wines.  Antinori’s Tignanello is an opulent Tuscan superstar at less than half the price of the others - blending the traditional Sangiovese cherry aromas with deeper darker fruit from the Cabernet Sauvignon. 

Castel’In Villa’s Santacroce is another massive Cabernet Sauvignon blended with Sangiovese that delivers fruit, structure complexity and depth. It’s not priced like most people’s everyday drinker but is less than the cost of a gas fill-up for a big SUV.

Even more budget friendly is the Tenuta Sette Ponti Crognolo which is both Sangiovese and Merlot resulting in a wine that’s bursting with flavour without completely blowing the budget.  

Sangiovese still accounts for more than half of the vines planted in Tuscany, but they are not the only game in town.

Viva Italia!

Time Posted: Mar 13, 2019 at 2:07 PM
Ruth Blakely
 
January 19, 2019 | Ruth Blakely

Wines of the Rhone Valley

Winter – the Perfect Time for Wines from the Rhone

The Rhone valley in Southern France is one of our favourite regions here at Everything Wine and More. The full bodied multi-layered wines pair perfectly with a winter stew or a nice roast.

The Rhone is divided into North and South.

The north is dominated by Syrah, the rich blackberry, clove and pepper finish shows exceptionally well in the premier wines of Cote-Rotie. Producers such as Guigal and Cuilleron (among many others) make wine that show both power and elegance. While some can be consumed young, many really shine after years in the bottle. If you are drinking your Cote-Rotie young it will improve with decanting and something meaty to pair. 

Also from the north comes the rich black pepper and smoked meat aromas from the stunning Cornas. The region itself is very small but it produces some of the ‘biggest’ wines in the Rhone. Cornas is known for grippy tannin and is another wine that is at its best after some time in the bottle.

Affordable ($40 and under)  tasty options from nearby Crozes-Hermitage are a great introduction to the region.

White wine lovers have much to celebrate in the northern Rhone as well as it’s the home to Condrieu, arguably the best expression of Viogner anywhere in the world. The tropical fruit aromas play well with a hint of citrus and some will find gingerbread and allspice. Keep these in mind for upcoming Easter dinner. 

In the hotter south Grenache is dominant. From the well-priced Cotes-du-Rhone to the powerful Chateauneuf-du-Pape, Grenache is king of this sometimes underappreciated region. In Chateauneuf-du-Pape, the Grenache is blended with Mouvedre to give it structure, Cinsault for bouquet and more than a dozen other grapes producing a bold, well-balanced wine. Look for Beaucastel at the top of the market, but there are dozens of other excellent producers in the region. Cotes-du-Rhone is a bargain hunter’s dream.

The whites in the south are most often Rousanne and Marsanne. Often blended together the fatty rich mouth-feel of the Marsanne is well balanced by the more acidic and elegant Rousanne. The wines are medium bodied and often exhibit apricot and mandarin notes.

The next time you think of French wine – think Rhone!

Time Posted: Jan 19, 2019 at 8:09 AM
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