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Monday, April 22, 2013

Apr. 27 Wine Picks: Appassimento + Organic Wines



Cover of April 27, 2013 Vintages Magazine
The next Vintages release will be on LCBO shelves on . The main feature in this release is on Italian wines that use the appassimento method to make wines, while the secondary feature is on organic wines.

Appassimento-method wines involve drying the grapes prior to pressing and fermenting. There are various ways to dry grapes, such as laying on racks or mats, mounting from rafters, often in barns; modern techniques of drying grapes involve temperature controlled chambers. The appassimento-style is usually applied to red wines using local varietals, while producing sweeter (off-dry) wines. However, the Masi Grandarella is a dry wine made using Refosco, and the international varietal Carmenère.

Amarone wines are also made using the appassimento method, however, these wines are allowed to ferment to full dryness, producing wines which have greater intensity of flavours and tannins. In this wine release, check out the Monte del Frà (80% Corvina veronese and Corvinone, 20% Rondinella) - you won't be disappointed.

Ripasso (meaning "repassed") is my personal favourite appassimento-style, and comes between the lighter Valpolicella and the robust Amarone. Essentially, leftover grape skins and seeds from Amarone (and Recioto) production are added to batches of Valpolicella to produce fuller bodied red wines that are more complex and flavourful than Valpolicella. The Remo Farina is a good example of this style and is made using 70% Corvina, 15% Rondinella, 5% Molinara, and 10% other grapes.

Recioto is the ancestor to both Amarone and Ripasso. Grapes for Reciotos are picked very late and very ripe, then dried on mats or racks for 4-6 months. This allows the sugars and flavours to concentrate, producing very sweet wines. If you'd like to taste this style, the Antolini is your best best in this release. It's made using a blend of Corvina, Corvinone and Rondinella.

Eco-friendly winemaking and organic wines are the secondary feature in this release. It wasn't too long ago when one immediately thought that organic wine equated to poor tasting wine. Times have changed quickly. Of the 6 wines featured, 3 are on my list and worth pursuing. Weingut Wittmann has been organic since 1990 and biodynamic since 2004, and their Riesling in this release is dry (not sweet). La Cappuccina winery has been family-owned since 1890, with the 4th generation controlling the reins now; they've been practicing organic farming since 1985; their Soave is made with 100% Garganega. And finally, we have an organic California chardonnay from Frog's Leap, a winery that also practices biodynamic farming techniques. The name "Frog's Leap" actually comes from a combination of "Frog Farm" (where it's first wines were made) and "Stag's Leap" (where Winemaker John Williams began his winemaking career, and a place I visited recently).

From the rest of the release, we have a couple of fine Italian single-varietal red wines. The Torrevento from Puglia is made from Nero di Troia, while the Fontanafredda from Piedmont is 100% Nebbiolo.

Enjoy my wine picks for this week! Let me know if you buy and taste any of these. I'd love to hear from you. Cheers!


Red Wine:
  • LANGA TRADICION CENTENARIA GARNACHA 2008 - DO Calatayud, Spain (#194795) (XD) - $14.95
  • CHILCAS SINGLE VINEYARD CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2009 - Colchagua Valley, Chile (#309757) (D) - $17.95
  • STALKING HORSE SHIRAZ 2010 - McLaren Vale, South Australia (#251215) (D) - $18.95
  • REMO FARINA MONTECORNA RIPASSO VALPOLICELLA CLASSICO SUPERIORE 2010 - DOC, Veneto, Italy (#056267) (D) - $19.95
  • MAYCAS DEL LIMARÍ RESERVA ESPECIAL SYRAH 2009 - Limarí Valley, Chile (#269423) (D) - $19.95
  • TORREVENTO VIGNA PEDALE RISERVA 2008 - DOC Castel del Monte, Puglia, Italy (#208256) (XD) - $20.95
  • MASI GRANDARELLA 2009 - Appassimento, IGT Rosso delle Venezie, Italy (#606921) (XD) - $25.95
  • HIDDEN BENCH TERROIR CACHÉ MERITAGE 2009 - VQA Beamsville Bench, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#505610) (XD) - $32.95
  • FONTANAFREDDA SERRALUNGA D’ALBA BAROLO 2007 - DOCG, Piedmont, Italy (#943290) (XD) - $39.95
  • IL MARRONETO BRUNELLO DI MONTALCINO 2007 - DOCG, Tuscany, Italy (#190108) (XD) - $46.95
  • MONTE DEL FRÁ LENA DI MEZZO AMARONE DELLA VALPOLICELLA CLASSICO 2007 - DOCG, Veneto, Italy (#047506) (D) - $48.95

White Wine:
  • LA CAPPUCCINA SOAVE 2012 - DOC, Veneto, Italy (#081489) (XD) - $14.95
  • HUFF ESTATES PINOT GRIS 2011 - VQA Ontario, Canada (#134221) (D) - $19.95
  • LOAN WINES UNWOODED SPECIAL RESERVE SEMILLON 2004 - Barossa Valley, South Australia (#301127) (D) - $15.95
  • CHÂTEAU TOUR DE CALENS 2009 - AC Graves, Bordeaux, France (#321323) (XD) - $19.95
  • WITTMANN RIESLING TROCKEN 2011 - Qualitätswein, Gutsabfüllung, Rheinhessen, Germany (#320366) (XD) - $20.95
  • GAIA THALASSITIS ASSYRTIKO 2011 - PDO Santorini, Aegean Islands, Greece (#315010) (XD) - $21.95
  • FROG’S LEAP CHARDONNAY 2011 - Napa Valley, California, USA (#713552) (XD) - $36.95

Rosé Wine:
  • KÖNIGSCHAFFHAUSER VULKANFELSEN PINOT NOIR ROSÉ TROCKEN 2012 - QbA Baden, Germany (#168237) (D) - $12.95
  • CHÂTEAU VAL JOANIS TRADITION SYRAH ROSÉ 2012 - AC Luberon, Rhône, France (#707281) (XD) - $14.95

Sparkling Wine:
  • LA MAISON DU CRÉMANT BRUT CRÉMANT DE BOURGOGNE - AC, Burgundy, France (#127811) (XD) - $17.95
  • LALLIER GRANDE RÉSERVE GRAND CRU CHAMPAGNE - AC, France (#225284) (D) - $48.95

Dessert Wine:
  • ANTOLINI RECIOTO DELLA VALPOLICELLA CLASSICO 2009 - DOC, Veneto, Italy (#135533) (S) (500 mL) - $28.95


The rest of the wines from this release can be found here.

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