VINTAGES Buyers’ Guide – July 6th, 2019

Cool All Over Again

By David Lawrason, with notes from Michael Godel

It’s annually ironic that the word cool gets bandied and batted about ad nauseum in Ontario during the hottest days of the year. It is all because of the International Cool Climate Chardonnay Celebration (I4C) coming up July 19 -21 in Niagara, which John Szabo and team will tackle in a separate newsletter next week. I have sweltered through several I4Cs.

But Vintages has jumped aboard the cool train with this release too, its magazine blaring Super Cool on the cover, and its feature pages actually explaining what cool climate means in the New World of wine (where the majority of climates are hot and getting hotter).


As a wine educator with Fine Vintage Ltd, and teacher of the Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET) curriculum, I would like to congratulate VINTAGES for the job they have done on this piece. They have cutely explained the various “Chill Factors” (water, altitude, aspect, latitude) that make it possible to make fine wine in hot places. And on page 12 of the magazine they have provided a chart that describes the differences between four common grape varieties grown in cool climates and warm climates, although it could have been a longer list.

Very useful stuff, and it only leaves the consumer the task of understanding wine geography enough to complete the landscape. A tidy list of cool and coolish climate regions in the New World would have helped. So, allow me:

In terms of VINTAGES selection for the Cool theme and the rest of the release, there are the usual number of hits and misses. And what has become the norm since March of this year, less than half the products (65 of 142) were presented for preview tasting by the media. There have been discussions around rallying the wine trade to provide samples of the missing wines, but nothing seems to be happening en masse, and well, summer is here and you know….time to chill.

Michael and I present our non-chardonnay picks below, and will add our chardonnay picks to John’s guide next week. All however are currently posted to WineAlign.

Vintage’s Buyer’s Guide July 6th

White and Sparkling:

Dog Point Sauvignon Blanc 2018, Marlborough, New Zealand ($26.95)
David Lawrason – This leading producer has developed a local fan club with it is brisk, nervy and mouth-watering style, and intense flavours crammed with wild herbs, grapefruit and distinctive flinty reduction.
Michael Godel – The expressive nature of this very special and particular sauvignon blanc simply covers the scene. The fruit quality is equal to the energy and few Sauvignon Blancs will age like this one can and will.

Demorgenzon DMZ Sauvignon Blanc 2018, Stellenbosch, South Africa ($17.95)
David Lawrason – The slopes overlooking False Bay in Stellenbosch produce some dynamic sauvignons.  This is very good value in a full on, well balanced quite intense example. Boldly fruited and racy.

Bricklayer’s Reward Sauvignon Blanc 2017, Niagara Peninsula ($18.95)
David Lawrason – Bricklayer’s is a brand by Lake Erie North Shore based Colio, but here they have gone to Niagara for the fruit, and delivered an admirable sauvignon with lifted aromas of juniper, dill, lime leaf and some passion fruit.

Domaines Schlumberger Les Princes Abbés Pinot Gris 2016, Alsace, France ($23.95)
David Lawrason – Tasted just last week at the large, family-owned Domaine in Alsace, it joins others in the Les Princes Abbes entry series as a very good value.  Quite lush and tropical yet surprisingly elegant.

Quadrus White  2017, Douro, Portugal ($19.95)
David Lawrason – This is a new wave Portuguese white, with a nice sense of purity, balance and even some richness. Not great aromatic intensity but it harnesses pleasant, clean melon, lemon and vaguely spicy notes.

Villa Conchi Brut Rosé DO Cava, Spain
Michael Godel – Simple, lovely, yeasty and finely crafted traditonal method Cava with a pink twist. Sweetly herbal, plenty of orange in juice, zest and pith. Very workable, serviceable and amenable.


Kara Tara Pinot Noir 2017, Elgin, South Africa  ($29.95)
Michael Godel – Young vines ready to produce high level pinot noir fruit and a grandi botti upbringing take this Elgin wine into the realm of the elegant and the beautiful. The tonalities are quite high and the tannic structure quite notable for Elgin pinot noir.
David Lawrason – Deeply coloured, firm with dark cherry fruit and a bit unyielding now but well balanced with classic cranberry on the finish. I’d be willing to bet a few bottles in the cellar.

Geyser Peak Block Collection Walking Tree Cabernet Sauvignon 2015, Alexander Valley, California ($29.95)
David Lawrason – Good value in the overpriced California cabernet pool, where many at this price start to shows signs of sweetness and/or greeness. Solid and ripe.  A Wine of the Month so quantities will be large.
Michael Godel – Just what you might expect from Alexander Valley cabernet sauvignon with a richly tart, berry torte fruit set, good expanding acidity, lots of chocolate and plenty of drive. Another example of tasting climate change with richness pulled from an early pick

Château Hyot 2015, Côtes de Bordeaux – Castillon 2015 ($16.95)
David Lawrason – Generous, juicy and quite fragrant merlot based red from one of my favourite appellations of the right bank, especially where value is concerned. Not highly structured, but plenty of flavour and depth for the money.

Castelgreve Riserva Chianti Classico 2013, Tuscany, Italy ($22.95)
David Lawrason – A Wine of the Month, now just starting to mature this lean, energetic sour red-fruited Chianti is very typical of the vintage. It has good intensity, firmness and almost crispness, yet remains well balanced.

Fattoria Le Pupille Morellino Di Scansano Riserva 2015, Tuscany, Italy ($26.95)
Michael Godel – Elisabetta Geppetti’s Riserva 2015 is a natural, embodied beauty of sangiovese in Morellino clothing, subtle in that Brett and volatility fade in the background while sweet fruit sways in the fore.
David Lawrason – One of the original labels from the warmer coastal Maremma region, this quite full, rich sangiovese-based red offers up a complex compote of sour cherry jam, herbs, subtle meaty/bloody notes and some oak vanillin.

Domaine Chante Perdrix Châteauneuf Du Pape 2016, Rhone Valley, France  ($45.95)
David Lawrason – Very impressive, fragrant, full bodied, generous and almost svelte Chateaunneuf that’s quite accessible in its youth, but will cellar well.

And that’s a wrap for this week. John returns next week with bucket load of chardonnays that will be poured at I4C.

My chardonnay future also includes I4C, and perhaps I will see you at the dinner on July 17 for Domaine LaRoche of Chablis, which I had the pleasure of visiting in France just last Sunday. In the weeks ahead I will be writing more on Chablis in general, as well as Alsace. I spent all last week hiking in Alsace and have some observations to share, as well as great photos by photographer Ben Champoux.

On July 18, there is a dinner with Lucio Matricardi, winemaker for Italy’s Mezzacorona, Stemmari and Rotari wines.

(NOTE: Premium members receive 24 hours advance notice for winemakers’ dinners. Both these events were sold out before we could send invitations to our regular members. Premium membership has its privileges.)

And on July 22, watch this space as we begin to announce results of the 2019 WineAlign National Wine Awards of Canada, category by category, ending with the announcement of Best Performing Small Winery of the Year on August 1 and Winery of the Year on August 2.

Until next time,


Use these quick links for access to all of our Top Picks in the New Release. Non-Premium members can select from all release dates 30 days prior.

Lawrason’s Take
Michael’s Mix

New Release and VINTAGES Preview