Mav Wine and Spirits Awards 2017

Every year, the editors of Quench choose the best assemblages, single varietal and other drinks from around the world. Tasters are Gurvinder Bhatia, Ron Liteplo, Tod Stewart, Treve Ring, Rick VanSickle, Sean Wood, Tony Aspler, Gilles Bois and Tim Pawsey.

Reichsgraf von Kesselstatt Scharzhofberger Riesling/Spätlese 2015, Saar, Germany ($45)

The steep, south-facing Scharzhofberger vineyard is one of the Saar’s most famous and climatically coolest site. With 6.6 ha, Reichsgraf von Kesselstatt numbers among the largest owners with holdings in the site. Loess, coarse grey and reddish slate (up to 70%) contribute to the characteristic minerality of this site. This striking wine certainly complies, with ample crushed stone, wet slate, honeyed pear, quince, yellow apple, crystalline lemon and earthy, dried herbs filtered throughout. (TR)

Culmina Saignée 2016, Okanagan ($24)

The blend of this rosé is Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Malbec — another brilliant effort in this style from Culmina. The nose is pretty with notes of strawberry, cherry and mineral made in a delicate, contemplative style. It’s gorgeously dry on the palate with a mix of red berries and subtle herbs. (RV)

Sea Star Stella Maris 2016, Southern Gulf Islands ($24)

White flower, honey and slight rose-petal top followed by a crisp palate of lychee and citrus; well-balanced acidity, juicy and lusciously textured with a touch of minerality before a crisp, dry finish. (TP)

Orowines Can Blau Kia Montsant 2013, DO Montsant ($25.50)

Anise, broken stone, wild blackberry lead this perfumed and wild Montsant. One of the great-value wine regions of the world, Montsant is a horseshoe around Priorat, sharing many of the same soils and all of the grapes. This is driven with the area’s singular llicorella (slate) soils, buzzes with limestone and is grounded with the clay along a tightly mineral and textural palate, perfumed with violets, anise and light peppery spicing. Finishes warm, and yearning for lamb or wild boar. This is a blend of Garnacha, Cariñena and Syrah that has spent 1 year maturing in French oak barrels. (TR)

Geoff Hardy K1 Tzimmukin 2009, Adelaide Hills ($73)

Made from slightly dried Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon grapes, reminiscent of Amarone. Clear, very deep garnet. Nose worthy of Cyrano de Bergerac: black cherries nestled in pipe tobacco and sprinkled with vanilla. Full-bodied; packed with very ripe cherry and plum flavours. The epitome of balance, it holds the high alcohol level very well. May last another couple of years, but why wait? Lovely with lamb sausage flavoured with lemon and thyme and served with a hearty ratatouille. (RL)*

Play Estate Improv 2014, Okanagan ($20)

This well-balanced blend of Merlot (70%) and Syrah (30%) sports appealing aromas of red fruit, mocha and vanilla before a well-textured, quite full-bodied palate wrapped in juicy acidity. Easy, well-integrated tannins and toasty notes from 14 months in used French oak. (TP)

Osoyoos Larose Le Grand Vin 2013, Okanagan ($48.95)

Dense purple in colour with a bouquet of cedar, black fruits and vanilla oak. Full-bodied and dry, the black plum and blackcurrant flavours are nuanced with bitter chocolate and finely resolved tannins. (TA)

Reichsgraf's Wolfgang Mertes, Mona Loch and Michael Weber
Masi Historic Venetian Estates Fojaneghe dei Conti Bossi Fedrigotti 2011, Rosso Vignetti delle Dolomiti IGT ($34.50)

An intriguing blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and a small percentage of Teroldego, the wine shows very dark in the glass, with dark fruit scents revealing distinctive blackcurrant, vanilla and a dash of clove. Intensely concentrated blackberry, blackcurrant and dark chocolate flavours are enveloped in velvety though still firm tannins, with a splash of vanilla evolving into a smoothly integrated, drying finish. (SW)

Boekenhoutskloof The Chocolate Block 2015, WO Western Cape ($40)

Boekenhoutskloof was established 1776 and today, in the hands of talented maverick winemaker Marc Kent, they are still kicking off great things, like the behemoth that is Chocolate Block, known in markets the world over (thanks to its 500,000 bottles per year). The 2015 Chocolate Block is a blend of Syrah, Grenache Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cinsault and Viognier —for the first time, this is all Swartland fruit. There’s a greater splash of Grenache than in previous years, which is noticeable up front on the massive florality here (the Grenache was matured in 600 L barrels to retain its fruity aromas and vibrancy). There is also mulberry, brooding black plum and kirsch on the full palate — one smooth and housed by fine, firm tannins. This is a polished wine, but not overtly so, with a textural fruitcake spicing throughout to a dark mocha finish. The wine matures in 1st (all the Cabernet Sauvignon), 2nd and 3rd fill French oak barrels (eight 2500 L French oak foudres) for 16 months before it undergoes a light egg-white fining and filtration. (TR)

Eric Texier Côtes du Rhône Village Vaison la Romaine 2013, AOC Côtes du Rhône ($25)

40+-year-old Grenache, Carignan and Cinsault fill the frame of this Côtes du Rhône from naturalist leader and pioneer Eric Texier. Biodynamic principles lead Texier’s intelligent, questioning, terroir-driven philosophy. In La Romaine, the grapes were whole-cluster fermented in cement vats. Black plum leads the mineral-driven palate of the structured, medium-bodied red, with wild strawberry, raspberry and a fragrant red currant on the tight core, reflective of the grapes in the blend. Acidity is quenching, and tannins are downy fine and leathery. An alluring mineral-salts entice on the finish. (TR)



Pinot Noir

Meyer Family Vineyards Reimer Family Vineyard Pinot Noir 2013, Okanagan ($50)

Elegantly perfumed classic Pinot nose offers enticing scents of strawberry and fine spice. Shifts towards more cherry-like flavours in the mouth with velvety tannins; still somewhat forward acidity, and a light splash of milk chocolate. (SW)

Five Rows Craft Wine Pinot Noir 2014, Niagara ($55)

This classic Niagara Pinot shows a lighter red colour in the glass with aromas of brambly raspberry, violets, earth, beetroot, savoury cherry, mushrooms and elegant spice notes. It’s tight at this stage but forgiving, with a medium tannic structure, brambly red fruits, mineral notes, complexity and length through the finish. (RV)

Villa Wolf Pinot Noir 2014, Pfalz ($15.15)

Dark red with light ruby reflections. Red berries, soft oaky and earthy notes. Light body, velvety tannins, soft texture, nice fruity taste. Notes of fruit stones appear in the slightly bitter, fresh finish. Drink up with soft cheeses or charcuterie. (GBQc)

Norman Hardie County Pinot Noir 2014, Prince Edward County, Ontario ($50)

The king of Prince Edward County seems to be a master of delivering fresh, elegant, flavourful, layered and complex wines while maintaining incredible drinkability. We need to get over the “heavier is better” mentality and this wine goes a long way to help the cause. Remarkably, the alcohol content of this wine is only 10.9%. (GB)


Château Dereszla Tokaj Aszú 5 Puttonyos 2009, Tokaj-Hegyalja, Hungary ($45.95/500 ml)

Old gold in colour with a honeyed, waxy nose of peaches. Medium-bodied, with a flavour of apricot jam balanced by lively acidity. Rich and full on the palate with great length. (TA)

Gardet Extra Brut 120 Anniversary NV, France ($65.67)

A blend of a dozen vintages. Clear, medium-deep gold, with lots of fizzy bubbles. Complex nose featuring yeast, ripe apple, cultured butter, lime and caramel. Creamy mouthfeel; full-bodied, classic and elegant with a long finish. Drink up. (RL)*

Tantalus Blanc de Noir 2014, East Kelowna ($24)

Beautiful pale pink, lifted strawberry and red fruit aromas with some toasty notes, followed by a creamy palate buoyed by well-balanced acidity and freshness with great length and a lingering wild raspberry finish. (TP)

Sperling Vineyards Brut Reserve 2010, Okanagan ($50)

Disgorged in 2014, this elegant bubble displays fine, persistent mousse with delicately perfumed floral scent, citrus and green fruit notes. Lemon-citrus and green apple flavours contrast with creamy brioche leading into a lean, grippy mineral finish. (SW)


Narutotai Yamahai Tokubetsu Junmai, Japan ($35/720 ml)

Couple things here: Yamahai and Tokubetsu. The first is a brewing method that uses a unique yeast starter (look it up) while the latter means “special” (though what is “special” is rather undefined — typically a higher rice-polish ratio than the category usually employs). On the nose, toasted nuts, melon, cucumber, mild banana and some creamy/lactic “funk” (thanks, Yamahai). Quite dry in the mouth, with herbal, savoury, steamed rice, cocoa and vanilla flavours. (TS)

MIO Sparkling Sake, Japan ($13/300 ml)

Looking for something different in your bubbles? Try sparkling sake. MIO (named after the Japanese term for iridescent spray-trailing cruise ships) sparkling sake offers red apple, sweet pear, strawberry cream and some earthy/mushroom “out there” aromas and a medium-sweet palate that showcases a delicate fizz highlighting pear and apple nuances. At a mere 5% ABV, it’s a perfect weekend brunch washdown. (TS)

Gorin Junko Koshino Label, Japan ($80/720 ml)

This is a blended sake with the component parts being Gorin Junmai Daiginjo (45% rice polish with no additional alcohol added) and Gorin Junmai (60% rice polish with no additional alcohol) and with a label designed by Junko Koshino. Slightly earthy on the nose with a trace of mushroom and wet slate, but also with a nice fruity component, thereby showing elements of both sake styles. Quite rich and viscous in the mouth with fruity/nutty notes. A nice match with the pan-seared jumbo scallop with truffle cream sauce. (TS)

Hokko Junmai, Japan ($20/720 ml)

Brewed with Hitogotchi rice polished to 70%, it shows distinct banana and pineapple aromas, with more subtle melon/almond/nougat. At +5 SMV (“sake meter value”), it’s dry and crisp, mildly fruity and elegant. Great with lighter dishes (and worked well with asparagus/lemon/basil risotto). (TS)



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