In the hands of the winemaker
When money is no object a great growing season or a great vineyard is what you look for when purchasing a wine. However, since most of us are on a budget, the best values can be found in the hands of the winemakers. They can create great wines from humble beginnings – a little science, a little art, a little voodoo? The winemaker can turn an inexpensive grape into a premium wine using subtle winemaking techniques.
The wines this month are based on familiar varietals – Chardonnay and Shiraz – but when blended with other complimentary grapes they become something quite special. The reds are not the typical bold Shiraz wines that Australia is famous for – rather they are smooth, silky, and sophisticated.
HARDYS Stamp Series Chardonnay Semillon
LCBO 335638 | Price: $ 9.95
Winemakers trick – blend a lime citrus Semillon with a buttery, melon Chardonnay
This is a dry white wine but the nose is sweet, with undertones of sour fruit Skittles (Yes, I said Skittles). The taste has light sweet nectar taste. Semillon balances out the wine with a clean finish and hints of oaked Chardonnay – not at all overpowering. There is no doubt that Chardonnay is the star but the Semillon makes a case for best supporting actor.
YALUMBA – Y Series Shiraz Viognier
LCBO 624494 | Price: $ 14.95
Winemakers trick – add a small percentage of floral white wine to a deep red Shiraz
The winemaker at Yalumba Wines has added a small percentage of the white Viognier grape to the otherwise earthy and tobacco Shiraz. The white wine Viognier adds a scented floral nose and softens the tannins nicely. The result is a delicate smooth wine that reminds me of a soft-spoken Cotes du Rhone. Pay attention to this wine in order to fully appreciate it.
Yalumba takes its environmental responsibilities seriously and is proud to be the first wine company in the world to receive the Climate Protection Award from the US Environmental Protection Agency.
That’s pretty cool.
WOLF BLASS – Shiraz Grenache Red Label
LCBO 494336 | Price: $ 14.95
Winemakers trick – gently press the grapes to avoid extracting too much tannin, oak some of the blend
Shiraz Grenache is another Rhone-style blend. However, some people find the Australian style overly tannic. In this wine the grapes have been gently pressed to avoid the heavy tannins usually associated with Australian Shiraz. Some of the harvest is lightly oaked and then blended with the rest of the wine before bottling. This is a clever way to soften the wine and bring out the ripe fruits of the Shiraz. The wine exhibits rich plum and cherry flavours with a hint of spice. Smooth and delicious. Thanks Wolf (if that is your real name).
About the Sommelier –Travis Oke travels the world vicariously through the Vintages catalogue and the LCBO shelves. He is still waiting for an invitation to guest host on the Food Network’s Thirsty Traveler.