Moving wine’s spotlight around

| January 5, 2015 | 0 Comments
France’s 2009 Château Peyros Madiran sells for $14.95 at the LCBO’s Vintages.

France’s 2009 Château Peyros Madiran sells for $14.95 at the LCBO’s Vintages.

Many countries and cultures have developed successful wine industries. Some are very old and others are quite new, and many of them make wildly different expressions of wine. That said, they also share many things. They all shepherd the natural process of fermentation. They all create a drink that speaks of a time and a place. They also all vie against one another for space on shelves, good reviews and our dollars. Today’s world of wine is huge, and the stage is crowded. For better or worse, there are certain wines and grapes and regions that, more often than not, get top billing. Enduring classics or the next big thing, they are the stars of the show. They dominate our conversations and the selection of what is poured into our glass. They are a familiarity that provides a perceived guaranty of deliciousness.
But, what of the unfamiliar? While small production levels or poor market presence can cause many wines to be overlooked, much of the lack of appreciation is due to poor recognition rather than a fair judgment or understanding of their merits. Many wines limited to supporting roles are just as compelling and delicious as their more recognisable brethren.
Some of these undervalued wines aren’t new to the block. A perfect example is Madiran. Coming from the southwest corner of France (halfway between Bordeaux and the border with Spain), this wine was given its AOC (appellation d’origine contrôlée or controlled designation of origin — a geographic certification in France) in 1948.
Despite all the years of production, these muscular and expressive reds are often overlooked. Made up of either 100 percent Tannat, a grape varietal aptly named for its very tannic nature, or a blend of mostly Tannat with small amounts of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc or Fer, these wines are generally made with aging in mind. An example of the tremendous value of this appellation can be found in the structured and powerful 2009 Château Peyros Madiran, available through Vintages for $14.95. A blend of Tannat, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc, this wine exhibits enough ripeness and warmth of dark fruit to be enjoyed immediately, but will show even better in a few years.
While Champagne generally held onto its revered reputation, many other wine regions have succeeded in producing impressive sparkling wines. One of these would be Franciacorta from Italy’s Lombardy region. With innovative rules such as labels being printed with disgorgement dates (the date the sparkling wine completed its production cycle) and longer yeast contact time requirements than Champagne, this region has, since the 1970s, been on a mission to produce only world-class sparkling wines. A great example is the 2008 Bellavista Rosé. This blend of 62 percent Chardonnay and 38 percent Pinot Noir possesses an intense bouquet and a persistent and lively mousse. On the palate, it’s fresh and elegant. This tasty bottle is available through the SAQ for $68.25.
This phenomenon of exclusion is also found in New World areas. For many wine drinkers, the terms Malbec and Mendoza are synonymous with Argentine wine. Many would be surprised at the fascinating and distinctive expressions of Malbec coming from other parts of that vast country. One of those wines is Bodega Noemía’s 2012 “A Lisa” from the Patagonia region. A blend of 90 percent Malbec, 9 percent Merlot and 1 percent Petit Verdot, this redolent and vibrant wine provides generous aromas and flavours of red fruit. The structure is persistent and the lengthy finish has a mineral note. This fascinating Malbec is only $24.95 at Vintages.
The epic story of wine is only going to get bigger and more complicated. And I’ll argue that it doesn’t hurt to push the spotlight around a little bit.

Pieter Van den Weghe is general manager and wine director at Beckta dining & wine.

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Pieter Van den Weghe is general manager and wine director at Beckta dining & wine.

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