Bodega Garzón and the Wines of Uruguay

When one thinks about exciting wine producing regions it can be guaranteed that Countries like Uruguay, Croatia and Canada don’t happen to be at the top of peoples list of must try wines but the fact of the matter is, these regions are producing some outstanding high quality wines at incredible values.

The 2015 Bodega Garzón Tannat Reserva is not the cheapest wine from the region but it’s still good value in the $25-30 price range. To most this doesn’t seem like an incredible value but when you assess the quality of this wine and of the winemaking techniques used it all makes sense. With that in mind there are others producing solid wine at even better prices.  FullSizeRender

Bodega Garzón is one of the truly exciting producers pumping out excellent quality wines in the region. While they’re still experimenting with the varying microclimates to find the best grapes for each region it’s clear that Tannat and Albarino are leading the charge at Bodega Garzón and in at other vineyards in the country. Tannat in particular has become the countries most popular grape and much like Malbec in Argentina it’s being produced at a very high quality and for a reasonable price. I think it’s smart to focus on and make a market for your wines. Being known for a certain type of wine can also helps to establish a platform to boost a countries profile in the industry.

The Bodega Garzon Tannat is pretty closed down at this young age but opens up after some time in glass. Dark cherry, plum, raspberry, vanilla, violets, wet stone and spice. Surprisingly smooth and refreshing with medium + body and acidity. The vineyards proximity to the Atlantic Ocean, at about 10-15km are a definite positive for this wines. As others have commented it has helped keep the extraction of the wine in check so the tannins are not as harsh as can be found in some other examples. I’d drink this any day of the week it really is a pleasurable and easy to drink wine that will develop some complexity moving forward. Another 3-5 years would be ideal but it can go longer if well kept!

Looking for something out of the box? Try some of the delicious wines coming out of Uruguay!

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2015 Bodegas Volver Tarima Hill Old Vines Monastrell

Over the past six months some of the best value wines that I’ve had the pleasure of drinking are Spanish. Of those Spanish wines over half of them were Monastrell or Monastrell based blends. While a lot of the Monastrell’s have been from Jumilla this one is from the hills near Alicante. The vines are between 45-80 years old and produce small yields. A juicy wine with lots of well integrated oak (aged in oak for 20 months). IMG_2149

This year the wine has vaulted in popularity with its appearance at #17 on the Wine Spectator Top 100 List. At $17 (US) and $25-30 (Cad) this is handily the cheapest wine in the top 20 and one of the cheapest on the entire list. But I’m not here to encourage you to try it because it’s on some list. I only found it out after the fact, I purchased because I love this grape variety and see a great future for singe varietal Monastrell as I’m starting to see some exceptional examples pop up at outrageously good prices.

This wine has notes of black cherry, blueberry, black plum, vanilla, toast, pepper, clove and slate. A well made wine in the international style that’s as big as any California Cab I’ve had recently. Medium + tannin, medium + acidity, full-bodied, high alcohol with an intense long finish. Perfect for any big hunk of red meat you’re wanting to eat this holiday season!

Have a favourite single varietal Monastrell? I’d love to hear about it as this grape is easily becoming one of my favourites!

Happy Wine Wednesday everyone!

Cheers!
Ben

2015 Ventisquero Grey Glacier Las Terrazas Vineyard Pinot Noir

The fickle Pinot Noir grape is one grown in various cool climate regions around the world. Referred to as the heartbreak grape for the fact it’s difficult to grow and cultivate. Despite this fact there’s no other wine grape that has such a loyal and die-hard following. Many are aware of the top Pinot Noir’s coming out of Burgundy in France and these wines deserve their accolades but the reality, at least in my opinion, is that the average wine of the region, while tasty, can often be just plain boring. With $30-$50 often being the price for many of the Bourgogne or village level wines. This price, for many, is not affordable on a daily or even weekly basis.

I consider myself a lover of Pinot Noir, maybe not as fanatical as some but it’s definitely one of my favourite grape varietals. Right up their with Syrah from the Northern Rhone and Barolo from Italy. IMG_2139

One of my first blog posts here was actually about the value of Chilean Pinot Noir, and while this Pinot is a lot more expensive at $25, it’s still a great deal. The wine was aged in about 1/5 new French Oak with further barrels aged in 2 and 3 year old French Oak. This adds some complexity to the mulled earth, black cherry, black plum, redcurrant and raspberry fruit showing through on this wine. Some light baking spice notes from oak and a raw savoury finish. Elevated acidity with medium – tannin, medium – body, medium alcohol and medium + intensity and finish. This is a tasty and interesting Chilean Pinot that like so many are nice to drink now but I suspect this could develop in a positive way for at least the next 8-12 years. Fairly complex wine with some thoughtful oak usage. Tastes more like a Carneros from California than a French example, nevertheless this one is worth every penny.

Hope everyone had a good weekend!

Cheers,
Ben

2016 Altovinum Evodia Old Vines Garnacha

When I think of Grenache (Garnacha) I think of a wine that’s blended along with a variety of other grapes to make a pleasant easy drinking wine. There’s no doubt though that Grenache can be so much more. Many of us know how good the Grenache based  Chateauneuf-du-pape is, fewer about the highly concentrated Grenache based wines of Priorat but single varietal examples of this grape are often excessively ripe and not at all interesting. This example from Altovinum Evodia made from old vines looks to change that and at a fraction of the price of the aforementioned wine regions.

According to Wine.com “Eric Solomon met Jean-Marc Lafage and Yolanda Diaz. Together they “discovered” a unique village in Calatayud, Atea. At 1000 meters above sea level it is the highest elevation village in the whole DO. Even more interesting is that the soil here is black schist, the same soil one can find in the Priorat.” FullSizeRender (9).jpg

I can definitely see the Priorat resemblance in this wine, while the yields here are still a bit higher than Priorat and the wine not blended with Carinena and international varietals there’s definitely potential here to produce some world class wines. In fact, the profile of single wine Grenache has definitely improved over the past 5 years, with a few excellent examples currently available in my market (Newfoundland, Canada).

So if you’re looking to try some serious, concentrated and affordable Grenache look no further than this example. Notes of dark cherries, blueberries, raspberry, humidor, thyme and a slate minerality.  Pretty much medium + profile across the board. An amazing value at $15 Canadian (as low as $8 in US market and European market).

2010 Closson Chase S. Kocsis Vineyard Chardonnay

While the main Closson Chase vineyards are based in Prince Edward County in the far east of Ontario this high quality Canadian producer also grows some fabulous  grapes in  in the Beamsville Bench area of the Niagara Peninsula. Along with Norman Hardie, IMG_2114Henry of Pelham, Clos Jordanne and Stratus the wines of Closson Chase are easily some of my favourite Canadian wines. While I certainly enjoyed this 2010 Chardonnay it was their 2010 Pinot Noir from PEC that turned me on to the full potential of what Canadian wine can be. Needless to say Deborah Paskus, the wineries former esteemed winemaker and continued parter did a great job with this wine.

This wine is hitting its peak now. The first thing that hits you when you smell this wine is a big hit of pineapple, further notes of melon, peach and some apricot are coming through along with cream, honey and light toast. A well-balanced wine and while it’s not my favourite style of Chardonnay but a wine that is incredibly well done nonetheless.

Have a favourite Canadian wine? I’d love to hear about it!

Cheers,
Ben