Saturday, 26 May 2018

Top Picks - Vintages Release Saturday May 26th

Hey Fellow Wino's 

There is another vintages release today and I've picked a few fabulous finds I think you'll love. 

1. 2016 Krone Borealis, Vintage Cuvee Brut Sparkling, South Africa at $18.95

I love South Africa for many reasons, primarily it's an incredible value! This traditional method sparkling wine is made from 90% Chardonnay, 9% Pinot Noir and 1% Pinot Blanc. Expect a fresh mineral note such as oyster shells or limestone followed by tropical fruit flavours like Pineapple, fresh yellow apple, salted caramel and a baked pie crust leezyness says Tim Atkin, MW. Perhaps try this with some spicy Thai food and live a little on the wild side. How can you afford to not drink this?

2. 2015 Stephane Aviron, Vieilles Vignes, Moulin a Vent, Beaujolais, France at $23.95

The 2015 vintage was a warm one in France and most of Europe, so expect the fruit flavours to be a tad bigger than usual with hints of the new world in this very old world region. Pair with perhaps Pot-au-feu, or something more appropriate for the warmer weather, homemade burgers with perhaps some gruyere and bacon or grilled red peppers. Moulin a Vent is considered the best of the 10 cru's in Beaujolais. This is my addiction! 

Roger Voss from Wine Enthusiast magazine describes this wine as "A firm and structured cru wine from 100-year-old vines that has layers of firm fruits and tannins. It is a wine that is likely to mature well, with its wood ageing and a dry core. A blend from four parcels, it is concentrated and with a rich black-cherry character."  

I like a good Nero D'Avola from Sicily, often described as the Syrah of Sicily. It's not too often we have a chance to drink this stuff from the LCBO so when I see it, I go for it. Will this blow your mind, hardly, but toss in a decanter and pair with some meat on the grill I say go for it because I certainly will. 

The LCBO Vintages panel says "This wine's name, Gazzerotta, refers to the black-and-white magpies that fly over the neighbouring fields in autumn. There's nice dark cherry, plum, chocolate, anise and a touch of bacon in this complex little Nero d'Avola. Pour it with pasta carbonara or bacon-wrapped chicken skewers for a pairing worth crowing about." 

I am starting to really love Cabernet Franc, the almost middle child of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. This middle child, often overlooked, really is starting to come back in style as more and more people leave the comforts of the all mighty, Cabernet Sauvignon. 2016 was a hot vintage in Ontario so expect a pretty fruit forward wine, all things considered. Cabernet Franc has a sage/green pepper note to it so any meat on the grill with a salsa verde type dressing on top is a solid option! Alternatively, stuffed green pepper on the BBQ...oh my! 

I love a good Rose, not a sweet Rose, a good dry Rose. If you are like me, this is where it is at. The southern Rhone Valley has garrigue (wild french herbs) growing everywhere like ravenous dandelions and a good winemaker know's how to coax those flavours out of their grapes, such as this bottle. You could pair any Mediterranean food with wine from a nice fresh Salade niçoise to fresh seafood like grilled calamari or even lighter poultry options as well. We can't all afford to vacation in the south of France, but it doesn't mean you can't make your dinner table or better yet, backyard patio, feel like it. Pairs well with laidback french accordion music on a sunny afternoon. 

It's not too often we find wine from Umbria, let alone premium wine. This is quite a sophisticated wine (from landlocked central Italy) The food pairings call for premium fillets with pepper and Japanese mustard or roast beef with wasabi...perhaps for us old school folks some nice aged Proscuitto and cheeses. 

This wine is described on their website as "An elegant wine with solid structure, deep ruby colour and complex aroma that recalls marasca cherries and blackberries, followed by notes of violet, light mentholated hints and a spicy finish. A wine of great concentration, fruity and slightly balsamic, it has soft and velvety tannins with a long, lingering finish." 

Happy Sipping, 


Tuesday, 22 May 2018

1 Year Anniversary #30MinuteRule

Hey Fellow Wino's

I'd like to send a big thank you to all of my readers be they regular, or occasional, on my one year anniversary of starting my blog, Ryans Wine Picks. I started this blog because I wanted to share my passion for wine by educating and suggesting some great wines available to you.

To continue on my path towards helping guide you onwards and upwards, I'd like to offer you a helpful tip which I call the "30-Minute Rule."

What is my "30-Minute Rule"?

Take any red wine, toss it in the freezer for 15 minutes, take that same red wine and place it in your glass and other guests and let it sit for 15 minutes. I then also suggest you swirl your glass for 30 seconds just prior to smelling and sipping. This will help take that warm edge off of your condo/home/car/TTC warm red wine and bring it down to a more appropriate 15-18C. The swirl is like a quick stretch before a 100M dash. It is very important to stretch I.E. oxygenate the wine and help bring it to life! Red wine should be served at room temprature, but that is based on 18th century french stone castles, not your central heat west facing glass condo :P

To further help simplify, an older big red should be served closer to 18C like a Bordeaux and decanted much longer while a younger smaller wine like a Beaujolais, which can be served a tad cooler around 16C and decanted less, if at all. This is a simple general rule to help you on your way.

Check out this video below


Here is what I was sipping this past long weekend :P

Happy Sipping and stay tuned for what my second year has in store for you!

Ryan Sullivan

Thursday, 3 May 2018

Top 5 Vintages Release Saturday, May 12th

Hey Fellow Wino's 

Saturday, May 12th, there are a few nice wines from Bordeaux and elsewhere I feel you should know about. Some of these wines, like Purple Angel, will be a "Start the Car" type moment as hoards of people elbow each-other for a bottle or two which is why I'm sending this out a week early. Grab your running shoes, helmet, elbow pads and prepare for battle. 

Bordeaux red wines as you know are almost always blends, Cabernet Sauvignon based on the left bank and Merlot or Cabernet Franc-based on the right bank. These grapes are grown all over Bordeaux, both left and right bank, it is just over time Vignerons have found based on the local Terroir, that certain grapes produce better wine in certain locations. For instance, Cabernet Sauvignon doesn't like too much water, so the gravel based soils on the left bank are perfect because they provide good drainage. Merlot, however, can handle a bit more water, so the clay and sandy soils of the right bank are simply better suited, as clay will hold more water than looser gravel. There is a multitude of factors from heat retention of clay vs limestone to microclimate effects, but that's the "2 cents" version. 

In Bordeaux vintage is essential. Vintage meaning, the year the grapes were grown. The perfect vintage is one where the grapes bud early, have a long growing season into September/October filled with moderate/warm days and cooler nights with the perfect amount of rainfall. If it was a hotter vintage, the left bank is your best bet while a cooler one, the right bank. Too much rain, go left bank where there is good drainage, too little, go right bank where the clay and sand help to retain water. See where I am going with this? 

The 2010 vintage was stunning, tannic, powerful, structured and rich, the best wines need 15-20 or more years to develop. I have several fabulous bottles from 2010 I am still holding onto. 

The 2015 vintage is truly an incredible vintage for Right Bank wines. Perhaps, not quite at the level of 2009, but close. Pomerol and Saint Emilion are just stunning! Rich, ripe, fleshy, opulent and even decadent, the wines taste and feel great! The Merlot on the clay soils is the highlight of the vintage, but the Cabernet Franc performed almost as well. The left bank Cabernet-based blends performed well and should last a very long time. 

The 2014 vintage, for instance, was a warm but rainy one, leaving the left bank Cabernet-based wines holding up well, but the right bank merlots were punished with rain. Depending on where in Bordeaux you were, 2014 was either great or good. 

The 2013 vintage was awful, the coldest and rainiest summer in nearly 40 years meant the grapes didn't grow to their full potential. The wine, like a waterlogged shoe. 

So, what does this mean to you, my valued readers? 

Some fabulous 2010 and 2015 Bordeaux's are out and just in time for some fillets on the barbecue! 

1. 2010 Château Godard Bellevue, Côtes de Bordeaux, Francs, Bordeaux, France at $14.95
The first thing I did, was a double take...2010 for under $15? Qu'est ce que fuck? The Côtes de Bordeaux - Francs appellation sits on the Right Bank and is where this blend of 65% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Franc and 15% Cabernet Sauvignon was grown. The wine is maturing nicely and showing fresh plum and cherry, tobacco, leather, and cedar, with spicy and meaty notes. This is an outstanding value from the great 2010 vintage. Because this wine is Merlot-based and from the 2010 vintage, expect a rather soft/plush mouthfeel. It won't be as concentrated as some other producers and may not be the best wine for a fine aged cut of meat, but to pair with homemade burgers, I say buy two! 

2. 2010 Château Pierre de Montignac, Medoc, Bordeaux, France at $24.95
This wine is a little more my speed, 52% Cabernet Sauvignon, 46% Merlot and 2% Petit Verdot from the Médoc (Left Bank) in Bordeaux from the famed 2010 vintage for $25. With rich fruit that is balanced by tight acidity, this shows both the structure and the fragrant red and black berry flavour of the vintage. The acids cut through the wine to shape its freshness, highlighting its dark tannins. I would decant this and pair with two nice steaks for you and a loved one, perfect date night in as this bottle at a restaurant would probably sell for $100 or more. 

3. 2010 Domaine de Viaud, Lalande-de-Pomerol, Bordeaux, France at $32.95
This blend of 85% Merlot and 15% Cabernet Franc is perfect to sip by itself, perhaps after dinner and the sun has set. Beautiful 2010 vintage of deep colour with a lot of structure, predominantly red and blackcurrant with undergrowth, robust, ample, and a beautiful persistence. I find an aged Merlot-based wine such as this one, so plush on the palate, that while some fine French cuisine would always be nice, it's not required.  

There are quite a few other 2010's and 2015's from Bordeaux that vintages are releasing, and honestly, I encourage you give them a try. I feel however I've picked three that offer a good quality-to-price ratio, the foundation of my wine consumption philosophy. 

Spanish wine is ohh so much more than classic Rioja. This 100 % Tinta de Toro (Tempranillo) from 40-plus year old vines is from the Toro wine region. Look for dark cherry, tobacco leaf and dark chocolate on this savoury, dry red. The thing I like about wine from Toro is something I like to call the "Earth Factor" you'll understand once you have a sip, perfect for people who love to garden. All seriousness though, lamb on the barbecue, friends and family over, gypsy kings or flamenco music on the stereo and a few bottles of this wine, you'll thank me later. 

Step aside Kia Rio and Toyota Corolla drivers, this wine is for the big girls and big boys only, you need not apply. Purple Angel is the wine from Montes in Chile, a truly stunning example of what Chile can produce. If this wine came from Bordeaux, Barolo or Napa I wouldn't be able to afford to drink it because it would be 3 times the price or more. James Suckling, a respected wine critic gave this wine a very high point rating and claimed "This is perhaps the greatest Purple Angel ever. Full body, tight and compressed with an amazing texture and density. Fantastic fine tannins that are silky and polished. I love the energy and intensity. A blend of 92% Carmenere and 8% petit verdot. One for the cellar but I can't wait to drink it again."

 I personally don't ever write the score a wine received in my blog because to me wine is more than numbers, but trust me, this wine is highly regarded. Purple Angel will sell out within 48 hours of release if not sooner so if you think it's too expensive, I understand, but then you wouldn't understand either! I have two 2014's in my mini cellar and can't wait to adopt this new baby angel into my little wine family. If it were socially acceptable, I would take my 2-2014's and soon to be 2-2015's in a stroller to the local coffee shop and park, showing them off like all of the other proud parents.

Did you know that the cellar room in at Montes Winery is staged in a theatre like fashion and plays Gregorian Chants (choir music) to the aging barrels of wine? Now that is some serious Fengh Shui. 

Who knows, maybe after a bottle you may start seeing angles? 

Happy Sipping, 

Ryan Sullivan 

Vintages, Saturday May 25th, 2019

Hey Fellow Wino's I've got some new picks for you to try out from today's vintages release. 1.  Blue Mountain Gold Label Bru...