The Buying Guide: Cellar Worthy (Rewarding Patience)

By / Wine + Drinks / January 25th, 2023 / Like

Excerpt from The Buying Guide originally appearing in previous print issues of Quench Magazine. Our tasters are Tony Aspler (TA), Gurvinder Bhatia (GB), Michelle Bouffard (MB), Michaela Morris (MM), Tim Pawsey (TP), Christopher Sealy (CS), Brie Dema, and Donatella Dicca (DD).

All wines listed are recommended by our experienced panel of tasters. Each wine is rated based on its varietal character, representation of style and/or region, balance and price-quality ratio. Readers should assess these, and all wines, using the same criteria. Browse our experts’ tasting notes to find the wines that may appeal to your taste or pique your interest to try something new. After all, one of the best parts about wine is the discovery. The prices listed are approximate retail prices and will likely vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. A large number of these wines can be purchased across Canada and the USA, so check with your local private wine store or liquor board for availability.

(Rewarding patience):

Wines that will not only benefit from some time in your cellar, but will evolve, develop and reward those with patience. Cellaring times are recommendations only and optimal drinking windows will depend on each individual wine lover’s personal preference.

Intersection Alluvia Merlot, 2016, British Columbia Canada ($29)

Aptly named for a block of Merlot planted on alluvial soils left by an ancient creek system. Vibrant red and black fruit with mineral hints, wild bramble and blackberries – an intense fruit-driven entry but with elegance and excellent focus. The generous and well-balanced palate is defined by mulberry, raspberry, ripe blackberry and pepper spice with lushness that lasts right through the finish. Superb mouthfeel, tension and balanced acidity with well-integrated oak, this is layered and textured. (TP)

Cusumano Noà Sicilia DOC ‘Vigneto Sotto Le Case’, 2016 Sicily Italy ($32)

A blend of 40% Nero d’Avola, 30% Merlot and 30% Cabernet Sauvignon. The dense purple-black colour suggests a powerful, full-bodied wine. The nose offers rich plum, vanilla and oriental spices while the palate expresses flavours of plum, prune and licorice held together with ripe tannins. (TA)

Dievole Novecento Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG, 2016, Tuscany Italy ($35)

95% Sangiovese with a splash of Canaiolo and Colorino give the wine a deep ruby colour. The intense bouquet of cedar, cherry and oak spice promises a rich palate, which it delivers in spades. Well-structured with ripe tannins and an intriguing saline note on the finish. (TA)

Lang Vineyards Syrah-Viognier Okanagan Valley VQA, 2018, British Columbia Canada ($35)

Quite simply, the best Syrah I’ve tasted from BC this year. Deep purple in colour. The nose is cedary, spicy and savoury offering black-berry with a floral top note. Medium-bodied and dry with flavours of blackberry and black cherry carried on lively acidity to an end taste of dried herbs and white pepper. (TA)

Township 7 Reserve 7 Okanagan Valley VQA, 2018, British Columbia Canada ($39)

Winemaker Mary McDermott continues
to build an impressive portfolio across the board, especially with this blend of 50.5% Merlot, 32% Cabernet Sauvignon and 17.5% Cabernet Franc. Inviting, vibrant aromas of black berry fruits with some sage hints lead to a mulberry, damson and raspberry palate with spice and pepper notes. Well-structured tannins and juicy acidity play with the generous fruit character in perfect harmony, with just a touch of savoury. Balanced and layered, this is very approachable now but with no shortage of aging potential. (TP)

Château Montus Madiran AOC, 2016, Southwest France ($39)

Compelling scents of dark wet earth and rust weave through warm blackberries. While full, this is not rich. Imposing tannins kick in quite quickly reaching a manageable crescendo. They are slightly arid though not drying and there is enough fruit to pad the frame. Savoury and irony with an energetic finish. If you like your wines firm, this is drinking now but has the genes to last another 5 to 10 years, during which time its earthiness will amplify. (MM)

Domaine Vincent Carême Vouvray AOC ‘Le Clos’, 2019, Loire Valley France ($50)

This wine is so beguiling that before realizing it, I had finished a glass. Made from gnarly, 60-year-old Chenin Blanc vines, it offers succulent orchard fruit notes of quince and apricot laced with mineral and just a hint of mushroom. The acidity is bracing and linear in this structured white. It flows effortlessly across the palate and simply vibrates with positive energy. I’d take a chance on this and buy a couple of bottles to tuck away for 5 to 10 years. (MM)

Tantalus Riesling Okanagan Valley VQA ‘Old Vines’, 2018, British Columbia Canada ($40)

The 2021 BC Lieutenant Governor’s Awards Wine of the Year title is well deserved for this complex, electric, chalky, chiseled master-piece. Floral and herbal aromas with citrus zest and a touch of tropical fruit lead into focussed, mineral driven, penetrating flavours of lime, pear and tangerine. A multi-dimensional delight that reveals more with every swirl of the glass and taste, but it is still just a baby. Put away a few bottles, if not a case and watch this beauty continue to develop and evolve over the next decade and more. (GB)

Roberto Voerzio Disanfrancesco Langhe DOC Nebbiolo, 2013, Piedmont Italy ($65)

Roberto Voerzio, one of the original ‘Barolo Boys’ of the modern movement, manages to present a wine that, both traditionalists and newcomers to Nebbiolo will agree, is all about pleasure. The wine is still in evolution presenting ripe forest berry fruit, plum and glimpses of candied cherry. Aromatics persist with dusty florals, spice and vanilla to black licorice. There are notes of tobacco, truffle and mint starting to emerge. The palate is very fine with tannins wanting to spend a little longer in the cellar, yet willing to relax with a decant. At the core, the flavours are still youthful berry and more plum, with a creaminess verging on chocolate. A classic wine in the modern era of Barolo. (CS)

White Rock Vineyards Claret, 2018, Napa Valley California USA ($99)

Rich, concentrated and layered with an abundance of plum, blackberry, wild berry, spice, liquorice, mocha and mineral that are integrated and balanced, combining power and finesse, polished yet firm tannins with a long, lifted finish. A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot with small percentages of Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. This should continue to develop well over the next 5-8 years. (DD)

Palladino Barolo DOCG ‘Parafada’, 2016, Piedmont Italy ($101)

Palladino is one of Serralunga d’Alba’s finest and most understated producers. The Parafada is rich and elegant with an immense complexity from the first perfumed aromas which capture you and draw you in to the never-ending lingering finish that keeps bringing you back for another taste. The wine is a complete, elegantly wrapped package with harmonious red fruit, spice, herbs and liquorice, firm, yet graceful tannins and a robust, yet lithe frame. (DD)

Argiano Solengo Toscana IGT, 2018, Tuscany Italy ($110)

Bordeaux grapes Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot and Merlot are given a 5% lift of Sangiovese. The 2018 is very Bordeaux-esque on the nose with a minty greenness, blackberry and black currant punctuated by sweet, toasted oak. Very concentrated, rich and densely packed on the palate. The fruit absorbs all the wood. At the moment, tannins are immediate – very chewy and robust. I’d give this a couple of years to fully knit and mellow somewhat. (MM)

White Rock Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon ‘Laureate’, 2016, Napa Valley California USA ($170)

Rich and plush layers of black cherry, wild berry, currant, plum, anise and fresh herbs with amazing depth and complexity, concentrated and intense, but still incredible elegant and stylish with texture and balance, finishing with a long, persistent aftertaste. Has the tannic structure, freshness and abundance of fruit to age well and continue to evolve for at least a decade. (DD)

Culmina Family Estate Winery Hypothesis Golden Mile Bench Okanagan Valley VQA, 2016, British Columbia Canada ($46)

A Merlot dominant blend yields lifted red and black fruit with wild bramble and earthy hints, before a palate of cassis, black cherry, dark plums, blackberry, leather, clove and pepper spice. Layered with supple tannins and velvet mouthfeel through a lingering, spicy finish. (TP)

Clos de L’Oratoire des Papes Châteauneuf-du-Pape AOC, 2019, Rhône Valley France ($56)

Rich and powerful yet elegant, this is spicy with concentrated notes of dried herbs, black olives, ripe raspberries and cassis. While the wine has great balance, it needs 7 to 10 years to come together and show its full potential. Classic and well-executed. A tribute to the talented winemaker Édouard Guérin. (MB)

Château Branas Grand Poujeaux Moulis-en-Médoc AOC, 2016, Bordeaux France ($58)

(Merlot 50%, Cabernet Sauvignon 45%, Petit Verdot 5%) 2016 was an outstanding vintage in Bordeaux and there are many gems for the cellar at affordable prices. This is a great example. Lush and ripe yet fresh with notes of cocoa, plum, cedar and integrated vanilla. Already enjoyable to drink now but with time, the tannins will soften, and the wine will exude more depth. (MB)

Paolo Scavino Barolo DOCG, 2017, Piedmont Italy ($60)

The bouquet has many layers and the combination of rose petal, red cherry, black licorice, leather and sweet tobacco is very seductive. However, the palate is tight right now. With time, the dusty tannins will resolve and integrate, and this will show more equilibrium and complexity. Hold 7 to 10 years if you can. (MB)

Domaine Labet Chardonnay Côtes du Jura AOC ‘Les Varrons’, 2017, Jura France ($90)

I decided to taste this wine over two flower days in accordance with the biodynamic calendar as flower days are said to accentuate the floral aromatics for white wines raised with biodynamic methods. This Chardonnay is from one of the top natural wine producers of the Jura. Immediate notes of ripe golden apple and apple skin with subtle tones of sweet white florals, wet stone and the brightness of tart citrus. Day 2, the wine revealed more mellow and expansive aroma. Made in the ‘topped up’ style of Jura wines, it is crystal clear and showing harmonized reductive tones. On the palate, the Chardonnay hits you with intensity and verve. Angular citrus flavours and tension are key characters of the wine. Length and persistence for days. Decant and enjoy this wine over a few hours. (CS)

Galardi Terra di Lavoro Campania IGT, 2013, Campania Italy ($99)

Truly one of Campania’s great reds based on the flagship variety Aglianico. There is a healthy dose of Piedirosso which serves to soften. Time has also mollified tannins somewhat, though they are still chewy and firmly present as they spread across the palate. Lashings of licorice, smoke, earth and tobacco envelop black plum and dried cherry fruit. Already nine years old, this still has a solid five years of prime drinking ahead of it. If you get your hands on a more recent vintage, best to tuck it away for a couple of years. (MM)

Nicolas Feuillatte Palmes d’Or Brut Champagne AOC, 2006, Champagne France ($135)

Though co-op producer Nicolas Feuillatte is better known for high-volume, wallet-friend-ly Champagnes, Palmes d’Or is their flagship cuvée. It is an equal blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir from vineyards located primarily in the Vallée de la Marne. The wine shows a striking balance, benefiting from the roundness, weight and fruit from the Pinot and the elegant, fine aromas and flavours of the Chardonnay. It carries just enough sugar to bring forward the body of the wine and drive the fresh-baked brioche notes. Drinking very well at present but could also be enjoyed over the next 5 to 7 years. (BD)


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