JULIAN HITNER TORONTO WINE CONSULTANT

"For love of everything that is wine"

WINES OF THE WEEK FOR SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 15, 2007

Great Stuff from the Iberian Peninsula:

These are exciting times for the winegrowing regions of Spain and Portugal. Not only has quality never been higher, but the sheer selection of items available has become ever-more fantastic! Ten years ago, such was not the case, as most wines (especially from Spain) were only of acceptable quality. This has entirely changed, and I am happy to recommend a few bottles that I think any true wine enthusiast would very much enjoy.

RED WINES

(1) Bodegas Fontana
      -'Gran Fontal'
      -La Mancha, Spain
      -Vintage 2001
       (Drink Now or Hold)
      -L.C.B.O. PRICE: $19.95
      -L.C.B.O. # 28118
       (widely available at L.C.B.O.
       stores with a Vintages section)
     
-8.25/10



COMMENT: On trying this wine at the 'Tasting Tower' at Summerhill, I could not help but noticing the fine balance of all its components. With lots of dry fruit on the nose (this wine is made from the Tempranillo grape varietal), as well as the tiniest hint of sweetness on the mouth, this wine carried both charm and 'good spirit,' even though the alcohol/vol. is 13.5%. Very good value!

PAIRING SUGGESTION: Pork tenderloin with a small honey glaze --- enjoy!

(2) Quinta de Cabriz
      -'Reserva'
      -D
ão, Portugal
      -A blend of 3 grapes
      -Vintage 2003
       (Drink Now or Hold)
      -L.C.B.O. PRICE: $14.50
      -L.C.B.O. # 664631
       (available in most larger
       L.C.B.O. outlets)

      -8/10



COMMENT: Though best known for its Port, Portugal is one of Europe's most unique winemaking countries, in that they utilize almost exclusively their own local grape varietals. This has resulted in the making of some the world's most individualized (and underrated) table wines! A blend of three grapes (Touriga Nacional, Tinta Roriz, and Alfrocheiro Preto), the 2003 'Reserva' of Quinta de Cabriz boasts a lovely mouthfeel with great fruit; and is an excellent example of the direction of quality Portugal is advancing.

PAIRING SUGGESTION: Chicken wings with barbeque sauce --- enjoy!

WHITE WINES

(1) Adegas d'Altamira
      -'Brandal'
      -Rias Biaxas, Spain
      -
Albariño
      -Vintage 2005
       (Drink Now)
      -L.C.B.O. PRICE: $19.95
      -L.C.B.O. # 39875
       (available at many L.C.B.O. outlets)
      -8.25/10




COMMENT: Thougn perhaps not widely known, Albariño is one of Spain's most important white grape varietals, and increasing numbers of Spanish winemakers are well-aware that this grape is capable of producing some very fine white table wines. For its part, this particular wine is quite mellow, overall, with lovely fruit and end notes. As the world becomes more and more tired of the same old white grape varietals, higher-quality white wines such as those made from Albariño will probably become increasingly popular, especially in North America.

PAIRING SUGGESTION: Pea soup with a little bit of ham --- enjoy!

(2) Vinhos Sogrape
      -'Quinta de Azevedo'
      -Vinho Verde, Portugal
      -Blend
      -Vintage 2006
       (Drink Now)
      -L.C.B.O. PRICE: $11.95
       (only a few bottles left within
       the L.C.B.O. system)
      -L.C.B.O. # 727115
      -8/10




COMMENT: Released in March 2007, this wine was well-received by the 'L.C.B.O. audience,' myself included. Carrying a tiny natural fizz, with just a few apricots for flavour (among other fruit), I found this wine extremely refreshing (and very well-priced). In general, I would argue the L.C.B.O. could use a few more higher-quality whites from Portugal --- the potential for greatness is most certainly there.

PAIRING SUGGESTION: Light cheese and fine crackers --- enjoy!

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