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Wine: Masi Costasera Amarone della Valpolicella Classico 2012

Most people have at least heard the name ‘Valpolicella’ in connection with Italian wine before, and this is chiefly because the Valpolicella DOC ranks as only second behind the Chianti DOC in terms of total production for the entire country.  Within the general Valpolicella DOC, however, there are several smaller name-controlled areas, including the prestigious Amarone della Valpolicella DOCG.

Most of the wine from the whole Valpolicella region is typically a blend of the Corvina grape, along with Rondinella and Molinara. Today’s selection, a 2012 vintage from the Masi Costasera winery in Amarone della Valpolicella, is also one of these blends, but it is also augmented by a lesser known varietal known as Oselet. I picked up a bottle of this past October or November and I would have to say that this one of the nicest wines I tasted all year.

Amarones are known to be bold, very alcoholic, full bodied wines. This one is 15% alcohol, and actually quite dry at 11 grams of sugar per liter, while the body is indeed full, with an almost chewy texture. It is moderately acidic, thus offsetting the sweetness somewhat, with tannins that are bold, yet smooth, and last well into the finish.

On the nose, there are fresh dark berries with hints of blackberry jam, cedar, earth and musky notes of forest floor. The palate is every bit as rich and features dark plum, sweet tobacco, chocolate and woody notes with a curious, but very pleasant popcorn quality. At the very end, there are also grass and herb highlights which round out the overall effect very nicely. Generally, this is the sort of rich, robust wine that pairs well with strong, hearty dishes, but I found it to a truly lovely sipping wine all by itself…

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Domaines Rouvinez Fendant Côteaux de Sierre 2017

Today’s selection is the second of two Swiss wines I sampled over the past Christmas vacation. The first was the Pinot Noir blend called Cave St-Pierre Dôle du Valais 2016, that I have already told you about, and which, like today’s wine, is produced in Switzerland’s Valais AOC. I didn’t rate this white quite as highly as the Pinot Noir blend, but it is still worth a mention as it employs a grape, most commonly known as Chassalas, that is not widely known in North America (as yet, at least), and which I had never had before. In Switzerland, Chasselas is known as Fendant, it is, apparently, the most planted variety in that country. It is raised as a table grape in some places, and is used to make wine in France, Germany, Portugal, Hungary, Romania, New Zealand and Chile. In France, it is best known for being blended with Sauvignon Blanc to produce the Loire wine, ‘Pouilly-sur-Loire’.

This wine cost me $21.00 at Quebec prices, and contains 12.5% alcohol and has less than 1.2 g/L of residual sugar. It is a pale yellow and my bottle had just a touch of effervescence, although this was likely not intentional.

The nose is quite muted comprising golden apple, peach and lychee, along with some honey, half-dried grass, and just a touch of fennel. It is light-bodied, very dry, and quite crisply, even sharply, acidic. On the palate, there is both gold and green apple, a little tropical fruit in the background, the same touch of honey as on the nose, as well as an additional, and very pleasant note of hazelnut.

For my own personal taste, I would preferred just a little more residual sweetness to round out the acidity but, that being said, this is a very pleasant sipping wine that should appeal to a broad range of white wine fans.

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Cave St-Pierre Dôle du Valais 2016

Over this past Christmas vacation, I sampled a number of wines from some of the less celebrated wine producing regions, including a couple of interesting ones from Switzerland. This one I am featuring today is a red, Pinot Noir blend from the Valais AOC. The blend includes Gamay (which is blended with Pinot Noir in other regions, including Burgundy), but it also contains a varietal I have not had before called Diolinoir. I had to look this one up, but it turns out to of Swiss origin and is a cross between a Pinot Noir and a grape called Rouge de Diolly. I have been unable to find out much about it as yet and I do not know if there are any single varietal wines made with it.

In any event, this blend has resulted in a medium full-bodied wine that has a pleasant, almost satiny texture. It is off-dry, with low-medium acidity, and has very smooth tannins, making it an easy sipping wine.

On the nose, there are muted red berries, with a touch of raspberry jam, along with notes of cedar, some spice, and a rather curious hint of buttered toast. Plum comes through on the palate, along with sour cherry, just ripened raspberries, and a hint of pepper. There is also an earthy quality, with background notes of herbaceous undergrowth and dried leaves.

Overall, this is very interesting, quite complex and decently rounded. I paid about $21.00 CDN for this (Quebec prices) and found it very good value for the money.

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Niagara Estate Iniskillin 2014

My database of wine tasting notes includes almost no entries with a 1 star rating… that particular score is pretty much reserved for wines that are undrinkable. Two stars, in contrast, means that a wine is capable of being imbibed without too much agony, but which is not generally worth the money. I don’t give that rating very often either, as it happens, but, unfortunately, that is how I felt about today’s selection. Your mileage may vary…

  • Winery: Iniskillin Wines Inc.
  • Price: $16.60 CDN
  • Alcohol: 13.5%
  • Sugar: 3.7 g/L

The color is a medium light ruby and the nose is a muted, but still aromatic, red berry with a little oak and a faint vegetal quality underneath. It is quite light bodied, with moderate to low acidity and little in the way of tannins. The aromatic berries on the nose really don’t come through much in the mouth and there is a forest-floor effect along with a distant hint of dried flowers. The overall effect is a bit flat, except for a tease of spice at the very end, and there is a vague ‘over-cooked’ quality here and there. This would be fine for cooking but I wouldn’t buy it for drinking again.