Mav Wine and Spirits Awards

By / Mavericks / December 6th, 2011 / 2

The Mav Wine and Spirits Awards have a great tradition of choosing the most interesting bottles to be released in recent years. This year brought us to the Old World and the resurgence of unique spirits from around the globe. Collated and tasted by Tony Aspler, Evan Saviolidis, Tod Stewart, Sean Wood, and Jonathan Smithe.



Nikolahof Wachau Riesling Klausberg 2006, Wachau ($99.95)
Sourced from the slopes over the Danube, this concentrated wine is starting to mature nicely, adding a slight nutty tone to the peach, grapefruit, apple, petrol, citrus and honey. Dry and full bodied, there is great ripeness and superb length. It still has another decade ahead of it, at least. (ES)

Alberta Premium 30 Year Old Limited Edition ($49)
Available in Canada only, the 100 per cent rye whiskey delivers nuances of vanilla, tangerine, fruitcake, spice and toffee along with snappy rye notes. Spice and vanilla reappear on the palate along with some charred wood and clove notes. Long and warm on the finish, it has some bite, without sharp edges. The 10 Year Old version offers a good fallback if this Limited Edition is hard to find. (TS)

Rubicon Estate Rubicon 2007, Rutherford, California, United States ($190)
Seamless structure, serious concentration and resonating complexity. Blueberry, black cherry, blackcurrant, vanilla, violet, tobacco leaf. Still young. Age up to 15 years. (TA)



Cruzan 9 Spiced Rum ($28)
Spiced rums are making a comeback and the Cruzan 9 (named after the nine spices in the blend) offers sweet vanilla top notes along with allspice, cloves, ginger and brown sugar, all without overpowering the essential rum flavours. Citrus, pepper and a hint of juniper round off the smooth, memorable finish. (TS)

The Botanist Islay Dry Gin ($45)
A limited edition gin from Scotland’s Bruichladdich distillery on the isle of Islay. The raw spirit is infused with 31 individual botanicals, 22 of which were sourced from the island itself. Lemon zest, juniper, coriander, pine nettles, sea air and wildflowers all make a showing in the multifaceted aromatics. Very dry with moderate heat and spice, it is nonetheless clean, fresh and citrusy. Certainly not your average gin. (TS)

Don Carranza Reposado Tequila “Grand Reserve Edition”, Mexico ($40)
Vegetal, herbal and mildly peppery on the nose with some mineral/wet slate overtones. The slightly earthy flavours of this well-structured tequila are given a boost by a touch a fruitiness and a dash of cracked pepper. Smooth, round and silky; a classy tequila for sipping neat. (TS)

Laurent Jouffe VS Grand Champagne Cognac, France ($80)
Behind the modern packaging lies a modern-styled cognac with a moderately intense nose of candied orange peel, plum, vanilla and caramel nuances. The style leans towards delicate and subtle with a good interplay between dried fruit, toffee and floral notes. (TS)



Feudo Principi di Butera Insolia 2010, Sicilia IGT, Italy ($10)
This example, from a respected producer in the Caltanissetta region of south central Sicily, displays characteristic varietal aromatic grapefruit and mineral, though evolving on the palate to somewhat sweetish apple and citrus with banana, with gritty mineral on the finish. (SW)

Luigi Francoli Grappa del Piedmonte Moscato, Italy ($37)
A very fragrant/floral grappa owing to the aromatic nature of the Moscato grape. Still sporting some characteristic earthiness, with a distinct grapey note. Very viscous, round and silky in the mouth with a touch of sweet fruit to balance out the more typical rustic notes. (TS)



Ledaig 10 Year Old, Scotland ($67)
From the Tobermory distillery on the Isle of Mull comes this complex malt that manages to successfully combine the aggressive smoke/peat/brine notes characteristic of typical Islay scotches with honey, clove and anise undertones more at home in a Highland offering. Very well balanced with smoky/salty/spicy flavours combined with some vanilla and coffee on the tail end. A unique and engaging whisky that’s reasonably priced to boot. (TS)

Hart Brothers Littlemill 21 Year Old Sherry Cask, Scotland ($170)
Independent bottlers like Hart Brothers are able to source individual lots of rare whiskey, sometimes from mothballed distilleries like Littlemill. One of (if not the) oldest distillery in Scotland, the product of this Lowland distillery is held in high regard by aficionados. This sherry-casked version is intensely aromatic with hints of cocoa, tobacco, dried apricot, sultana and crème brûlée. Evident woody flavours balanced by dried fruit, malt and cocoa powder notes. Warm and spicy all the way down. (TS)



Trimbach Gewurztraminer Vendanges Tardives 2005, France ($59)
No other wine region on earth makes better Gewürztraminer than Alsace. This sweet VT is a perfect example of the exotic aromas and flavours that can be coaxed from this perfumed variety. The nose shows highly extracted grapefruit, wild honey, lychee, nutmeg and musk. It’s unctuous and fleshy on the palate with concentrated sweet fruits and spices. Just add the foie gras. (ES)

Taylor Fladgate Scion, Portugal ($3500)
This is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, at a once-in-a-lifetime price. In 2008, winemaker David Guimarens learned of the existence of two barrels of 1855 tawny port, which were part of a distinguished Douro family’s private reserve.  In 2009, the last surviving female member passed away, with no children. Her heirs, many of whom were not related, decided to sell the two barrels to Taylor. In 2010, the wine was bottled, after having spent 155 years in cask. Incredibly, there are no faults, and the long hot aging process has concentrated the wine to an unbelievable depth and complexity. The dark walnut colour unfurls the red carpet in the form of cherry blossom chocolates, dried fruits, spice, liquorice, and dried flowers. The finish is über long with loads of caramel, nuts and spice, as well as great acidity, bordering slightly on VA. To further put the glory of this wine into perspective, it was made from pre-phylloxera vines in the same year the famous Bordeaux classification was conceived. (ES)

Dows 1970 Vintage Port, Portugal ($270)
Although maturing, this Port is ready to drink. On the nose, the fruit is dry, and has an orange peel and nutty component. In the mouth, the fruit is more youthful, with a peppery edge chiming in on the superb finale. It should drink well for another 20 years. (ES)

Fonseca Vintage Port 2009, Portugal ($100)
Big, rich and full-bodied, the 2009 Fonseca possess a saturated colour and a bouquet of crème de cassis, plums, raisins, spice, violets, dark cherries and earth. There is a long finish and 40-plus years of longevity. (ES)

Croft Vintage Port 2009, Portugal ($75)
I believe the Croft style offers accessibility and richness, and this is the best edition to date. Crème de cassis, plums, boysenberry and cocoa are all present. It is approachable now, but will only benefit from age. 30 years of life ahead. (ES)


Viña Tondonia Blanco 1989, Spain ($48)
Lopez de Herredia is, sadly, the only Rioja-based winery (at least that we know of) that continues to make this well-aged style of white wine. Asian spices combine with hints of candied lemon, marmalade, dried herbs and a hint of resin. Mouth-filling and rich, it manages to be at once complex and subtle with traces of oxidation and even a hint of tannin that gives way to a long, caramel-tinged send-off. A gloriously un-modern white wine that absolutely needs to be paired with paella or other traditional Spanish dishes. (TS)

Megalomaniac Narcissist Riesling 2009, Niagara ($17.95)
I am very impressed with Sue-Ann Staff’s Rieslings from 2009, both from her namesake winery, as well as those she produced at Megalomaniac. Medium bodied, it is a wine with bright acidity, a touch of residual sugar and a profile of lime cordial, peach, honey and minerals. There is excellent length. (ES)

Valle dell’Acate Case Ibidini Insolia 2010, Sicilia IGT ($14)
From the southwestern Ragusa province, this example shows a striking initial resemblance to an oaked Chardonnay, with buttery citrus and vanilla on the nose. Secondary scents of melon and creamy texture, contrasted with gritty bite and gently assertive acidity, are more typical of Insolia. (SW)



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