Buyer’s Guide to VINTAGES April 30 Release

John Szabo’s Vintage’s Preview April 30: “A Meal without Wine is a Bit Sad,” and Classic Regions

By John Szabo, MS with notes from Michael Godel and Megha Jandhyala (David and Sara are away)

A Meal without Wine is a Bit Sad

Despite ongoing worldwide disruptions to economies and supply chains, skyrocketing production costs caused by fuel increases, rising “dry goods” costs such as bottles, corks, labels, and cardboard, and ballooning shipping costs, and a dreadfully challenging 2021 vintage, among other alarming happenings, the European wine industry is showing remarkably strong resilience, supported by consumers, voters and politicians across the EU.

Perhaps most crucially, the European parliament voted in late February to reject recommended cigarette package-style health warnings on wine labels, which, had they been accepted, might have triggered the end of EU funding for industry promotion upon which the industry is heavily reliant (along with countless thousands of PR companies around the world).

In France, incumbent president Emmanuel Macron, who famously said, “a meal without wine is a bit sad,” defeated Marine Le Pen in the run-off election in late April. Unlike some of his predecessors, like Nicolas Sarkozy who preferred Coca-Cola, and Jacques Chirac who was fond of Corona, Macron is a staunch defender of drinking wine, openly admitting to drinking two glasses a day (who doesn’t under-report?). Earlier this year, La Revue du Vin de France (the country’s most significant wine magazine) named President Macron “personality of the year” thanks to his industry support, the first for a French President. The closely watched election victory has been called by some observers a victory for the French wine industry, the world’s second largest producer and third largest exporter (2020 stats). Despite strong urging by winegrowing unions across France, however, citizens in parts of Champagne, Provence, Languedoc, Corsica and Alsace still voted for Le Pen. Of course, non-winemakers are voters, too.

In the fine wine arena, UK-based Sotheby’s auction house netted a record-smashing total of $132-million (U.S.) in sales in 2021, up 44 percent on Covid-affected 2020; and 12 percent ahead of 2019, thanks mainly to the reopening of wine-and-spirits auctions in France. Liv-ex, the London-based global marketplace for the wine trade, reported recently that its “Fine Wine 50” index has remained stable over the past quarter, and has outperforming the major markets, such as the FTSE100 and Dow Jones.

So, while you should expect to pay more for all wine in the near future, there are signs that the industry is strong and here to stay, at least for now. After all, a meal without wine is quite sad indeed.

Introducing WineAlign Understudy Megha Jandhyala

Megha Jandhyala has a doctorate in law and is WSET 3 certified. She is currently enrolled in the Advanced Sommelier program. She writes about wine and, though she is passionate about wines from all over the world, she is especially interested in emerging wine regions, such as Valle de Guadalupe in Mexico and Nashik in India. She explores the relationship between wine and food in her writing, with a focus on cuisine from the Indian subcontinent. She hopes to highlight the ways in which wine and different expressions of subcontinental regional cuisine can enhance one another, sparking new conversations in the process.

Many of you will have already noticed her reviews on WineAlign and you’ll be seeing more in the future.

Vintages Buyer’s Guide April 30: White & Rosé & Sparkling

Medici Ermete & Figli Arte E Concerto Lambrusco 2020

Medici Ermete & Figli Arte E Concerto Lambrusco 2020, Emilia Romagna, Italy
$20.95, Profile Wine Group (VinVino)
Megha Jandhyala – Perfectly ripe raspberries, strawberries, sour cherries, and fresh wildflowers abound here, while silky tannins, zesty acidity, and a refreshing effervescence make this a versatile and food-friendly wine.
Michael Godel – Re-tasting the Concerto as often as possible is a really prime idea because it reveals new elements each time. This occasion brings about an aromatic whoosh that makes your eyes go wide and sets up for a fresh view of flavours on display. Blackberries never assembled so vividly in Lambrusco and here they do so with power, accent and grip.

Vignerons De Buxy Buissonnier Montagny 2019, Burgundy, France
$20.95, Vinexx
John SzaboHere’s a terrific value white Burgundy from the ever-reliable Vignerons de Buxy cooperative in the heart of the Montagny appellation in the Côte Châlonnaise. I like the ripe citrus and mostly orchard-fleshed fruit, shifting as far as apricot and nectarine. There’s no wood influence to report, just a touch of creamy-leesy notes. Length is good. Cool, classy, composed, ready to drink.

Izadi Larrosa Rosé 2021

Izadi Larrosa Rosé 2021, Rioja, Spain
$16.95, Noble Estates Wines & Spirits Inc.
Michael GodelStraight garnacha makes for a simply composed and skillfully rendered Rosé. Straight ahead crunchy and satisfying blush. Easy, well-priced and quenching.

Paddy Borthwick Sauvignon Blanc 2020

Paddy Borthwick Sauvignon Blanc 2020, Wairarapa, North Island, New Zealand
$19.95, Nicholas Pearce Wines Inc.
John Szabo – Clean, evidently fresh and youthful, indeed still a touch closed on the nose, but the palate reveals a vintage of substantial character and depth from Borthwick. Fruit slips into the uncommon orchard fruit category, with white peach and apple flavours, with excellent weight and density in the price category. The broad texture helps carry 14% alcohol, while gentle, ripe acids do their part to frame the ensemble. Succulent, juicy, highly appealing, an excellent vintage for this wine. I’d let this sit another 6 months- one year for a fully developed experience. 

Mohua Sauvignon Blanc 2020, Marlborough, New Zealand
$19.95, Rogers & Company
Michael Godel – Far from pungent and spicy, more so mellow and anti-dramatic. Harmonious and exotic with good sweet acids and so much upside.

Vintages Buyer’s Guide April 30: Red

Capraia Chianti Classico Gran Selezione Effe 55 2016

Capraia Chianti Classico Gran Selezione Effe 55 2016, Tuscany, Italy
$43.95, Majestic Wine Cellars
Michael Godel – Great glycerin fruit is met at the aromatic gates by Gaiole’s green savour but in this instance the fruit wins. Warm and soothing, almost menthol seasoned finished. A modern whoosh of sangiovese style.
John Szabo – Maturing, polished and savoury, highly complex Gran Selezione here from Capraia, fully within the category register and classically-styled. I love the supple, silky texture, reaching an impressive state of refinement, while acids remain resolute, binding together the dark fruit, herb and dried orange peel flavours. Drink or continue to hold into the late 2020s. 
Megha Jandhyala – This Chianti Classico Gran Selezione is drinking beautifully now, showing signs of development but still retaining vibrance and concentration with flavours of dried cherries, pot pourri, dried herbs, spice, leather, and a hint of balsamic vinegar.

Château De Montfaucon 2019

Château De Montfaucon 2019, Lirac, Rhône, France
$24.95, Nicholas Pearce Wines Inc.
John SzaboRipe and pure, fleshy and supple, this is a broad and appealing mouthful of wine, loaded with black cherry fruit, with licorice and road tar adding some spice. I like the round, suave texture, the voluptuous fruit extract, and the overall balance and harmony even at 15% alcohol. Drink or hold 3-5 years or so, and serve with a slight chill.

Maison Chanzy Les Fortunés Bourgogne Pinot Noir 2019

Maison Chanzy Les Fortunés Bourgogne Pinot Noir 2019, Burgundy, France
$25.95, Tastevin Selections
Michael GodelFortune smiles upon this AOC Bourgogne of purity, deliciousness and straightforward drinking. Don’t come around here looking for structure but do embrace the cellar defending character and properties of this wine.

Catena Agrelo Cabernet Sauvignon 2019, Mendoza, Argentina
$21.95, Noble Estates Wines & Spirits Inc.
Megha JandhyalaA concentrated, perfumed cabernet sauvignon, at once ripe, but also vibrant, generous, yet graceful, this is a wine of intensity and balance. Lively acidity and refined tannins support the rich flavour profile and oak notes are prominent but thoughtfully incorporated. Length is excellent.
Michael Godel
Agrelo is a good healing and cooling ground for cabernet, keeping it safe from overheating and developing too much alcohol. A healthy pour of Cassis, acids firmly intact and not overly tannic.

Quadrus Red 2015

Quadrus Red 2015, Douro, Portugal
$22.95, Halpern Enterprises
John Szabo
From vineyards in the heart of the Douro’s historic Cima Corgo, and selected by Toronto restaurateur Tony Amaro of Opus Restaurant, this is the finest vintage yet of Quadrus to reach our shores. The nose is a riot of ripe black and blue fruit with marked violet florality, the palate broad, balanced and fleshy. It’s delicious now, but at the slow rate it seems to be evolving – showing very few signs of evolution 5 years in – I suspect this will sit comfortably in the cellar for a few years while gaining in savoury complexity.

Monte Del Frà Lena Di Mezzo Valpolicella Ripasso Classico Superiore 2018, Veneto, Italy
$24.95, Signature Wines & Spirits Ltd.              
Megha Jandhyala –
Luminous silken strands of dried red roses, ripe and dried cherries, juicy raspberries, and subtle chocolate notes are woven together in this alluring Ripasso. Tannins are fine and acidity is bright. There is a trace of sweetness and diffused alcoholic warmth on the palate that is pleasing, balanced by tart fruit and acidity. Length is very good, the finish a charming, red-fruited embrace.

That’s all for this report. See you around the next bottle.

John Szabo, MS

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.

Szabo’s Smart Buys
Megha’s Mega Picks
Sara’s Selections
Michael’s Mix

New Release and VINTAGES Preview

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