Huber ‘Hugo’ Rosé Sparkling NV

hugosparkling

Estate: 10th generation winegrower Markus Huber took over his family estate at the age of 23 and has become renowned for his focused, mineral driven wines. The 99 acre estate is located in the tiny Traisental region of northeastern Austria, an area famous for its Grüner Veltliner. The vineyards have the characteristic limestone soil of the area and are located on small terraces that are certified sustainable, with a large portion of organic methods also utilized. The ‘Hugo’ line of wines are “excellent values for everyday drinking”.

Winemaking: Fermented in stainless steel, then aged sur lie for 4 months [the finished wine sits on residual fruit and yeast particles].

Tasting Notes: Pale coral/copper in colour with aromas of strawberry, rain washed minerals and fresh bread. Fantastically consistent, fizzy bubbles buoy tart raspberry and strawberry flavors. Brioche, minerals and floral hints linger cheerfully on the dry finish. Great on its own or with light dishes, a fun deviation from Prosecco or Cava.

Blend of Zweigelt and Pinot Noir
Austria
Bottled by Markus Huber
12% Alcohol
$12
Enjoy now

Bellavista Alma Cuvée Brut Franciacorta DOCG NV

almafranciacorta

Just under $30, this is much more interesting, and a better value then the array of Champagne to be found around the $35 mark.

Estate: Bellavista is a family estate consisting of 90 hectares of vineyards spread across 10 communes within the Franciacorta DOCG in Lombardy, northern Italy. The estate was founded when 2nd generation winemaker Vittorio Moretti bought the hill called ‘Bellavista’, because of its stunning view. The vineyards are known for their glacial, stony soils that provide an ideal environment for the Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes that makeup Franciacorta.

Philosophy: Expressing “nature, purity and truth. Trust in man and in his potential. A sense of responsibility for the future so that we can guarantee continuity over different generations.”

Winemaking: The vineyards are farmed using sustainable methods and a minimal approach is taken in the winery processes. Grapes for Alma are sourced from “107 plots ranged over 10 different Franciacorta municipalities (‘horizontal blending’)”. Made in the “Traditional Method” the different parcels of grapes are all vinified separately. Additionally, the wine is blended with “reserve wines, which come from between six and nine earlier vintages (‘vertical blending’)”. At least 15% of the wine is fermented and matured in small white oak casts [no new oak is used]. Matured in the winery’s cellar for at least 4 years. The Alma Cuvée represents “our tradition, inspired by the pure essence of harmony” and is a “homage to the place where we have laid our roots, which we love and defend”.

Tasting Notes: Pale gold in colour with soft aromas of apple, pear and rain washed minerals. Citrus, apple and pear flavours are framed by consistent, fizzy bubbles and complimented by a fresh acidity. Golden honey glides atop bitter almond notes and minerals on the crisp finish.

80% Chardonnay, 19% Pinot Nero, 1% Pinot Bianco
Franciacorta
Italy
Produced and Bottled by Azienda Agricola Bellavista
12.5% Alcohol
$27

23 at Pillitteri Winery

pillitterivine

Vines in late November at Pillitteri Winery

Committed to creating a legacy for the generations to follow him, 3rd generation wine grower Gary Pillitteri founded the Pillitteri Winery in 1993. Gary began working in the vineyards alongside his grandfather and father in his native Sicily, and carried his passion for viticulture to Canada. Initially he and his wife grew fruits and vegetables on the estate, but in 1998 Gary decided to experiment with making a small batch of Vidal Icewine. Upon winning a gold medal right out of the starting gate, Gary decided to plant vines and open a winery. Today there are just over 100 acres of vineyards, and Gary’s grandchildren [who grew up working in the vineyards] are managing the export side of the winery, establishing themselves as the 5th generation of the Pillitteri winemaking family. Alongside their renowned Icewine, [which is currently receiving many accolades in the UK] the estate also crafts traditional Niagara wines such as Gewürztraminer, Riesling, Chardonnay, Cabernet Franc and Merlot. Additionally, Gary’s roots in winemaking in Sicily is evident in their Riserva Famiglia line, in which grapes from only the best vintage years are handpicked and crafted using the Appassimento method, creating big, bold reds.

During my recent trip to Niagara on the Lake the Pillitteri Winery was my first introduction to the splendid Niagara region. I enjoyed a tasting of nearly a dozen wines and purchased quite a few bottles to take home! [They do not charge for their tasting flights, they ask instead for a donation to be made to one of the many charitable organizations they support.] They offer vineyard and winery tours, which I had fully intended on doing, but I unfortunately ran out of time, so I will have to wait until my next trip to NOTL [Niagara on the Lake].

The number 23, and combinations of 2’s and 3’s has been significant to Gary Pillitteri throughout his entire life. He has crafted ‘Twenty Three’ wines to be versatile, easy drinking, and easy to pair with food.

pillitterisparkle

Twenty Three Sparkles
Racy and light with intriguing aromas of citrus, banana and a hint of toast. Cheerful apple and lemon notes mingle with generous bubbles, traces of honey linger between each sip. Fun and fresh on its own or with light snacks.
12% Alcohol
$12

pillitterirose

Twenty Three Rose 2013
Deep, clear red-coral in colour with radiant aromas of strawberry and candied violet. Vibrant, strawberry and cherry flavours are held in check by a beaming acidity. A clean, fruity finish keeps you reaching for more. Sweet but not cloying, this is a fantastic sweet wine for those that say they don’t like sweet wines. [It only ranks a 2 out of 10 on the LCBO Sweetness Descriptor and Sugar Code Comparison Chart, denoting it is “medium-dry”. Or seco for Italian wines, sec in French and trocken on German labels.]
12.5% Alcohol
$13

pillittericabmer

Twenty Three Cabernet Merlot 2013
Transparent garnet in colour with aromas of cherry, gingerbread spices and dry, dusty earth [dry tannins were beckoning from the aroma]. Sturdy, yet polished flavours of cherry, cranberry and leather wrap seamlessly around a core of food friendly acidity, finishing with dry tannins, spice and hints of plush fruit. As with the other Twenty Three wines, this is lovely to sip on its own or with a wide variety of dishes.
12.5% Alcohol
$13

Prices listed are in Canadian Dollars

Chateau Tour Grise Saumer Brut Non Dose 2004

tourgrise

Estate: Chateau La Tour Grise is located in the tiny village of Le Puy Notre Dame in the Saumer region of the Loire Valley in western France. The estate dates back to the 15th century, whilst the surrounding areas have been under cultivation for 1000 years. At the helm are Philippe and Françoise Gourdon, who have become renowned for crafting expressive, terroir driven wines that “tell you where they come from and what kind of year they had”. Philippe Gourdon is passionate about biodynamic viticulture and “hands-off traditional vinification”. Mournfully those two beliefs tend to get French vine growers in trouble with appellation control authorities, and Philippe Gourdon is no exception. He chose not to submit his wines for Saumer appellation, and by doing so he lost his right to display not only Saumur Blanc on his labels, but also the name of his estate, La Tour Grise. For an interesting synopsis of the estate, check out The Wines of La Tour Grise.

Winemaking: The estate has been certified biodynamic since 1998. Traditional biodynamic methods are used such as mineral and vegetable teas and preparations for the vines; cows roam the vineyards for weed control and fertilizer purposes.

Tasting Notes: Deep gold in colour with aromas of lemon, honey, minerals and delightful hints of funk. Captivating flavours of lemon curd on toast join flowery chamomile and savoury garique herbs on a current of dense bubbles. Toast, chalk minerals and traces of smoky honey linger enticingely between each sip. A complex and engaging sparkler that is stunning on its own or with a wide variety of dishes, especially brunch type ones.

100% Chenin Blanc
Sumer
France
[Bottling information not listed on the label]
12% Alcohol
$17
Enjoy now thru 2017

Mionetto Cuvée Sergio 1887 NV

sergio

Estate: Founded in 1887 by Francesco Mionetto in the village of Valdobbiadene just north of Venice, the estate has been producing Prosecco for over 125 years. It has established itself as the most popular brand of Prosecco in the U.S., committed to providing “the American wine lover with new and innovative styles of wine”. Along with numerous certified organic Prosecco, the majority of their grapes are grown using organic methods, as most of their farmers do not use chemicals.  Additionally, many of their wines are suitable for vegans.

Philosophy: “Passion, tradition, research and excellence”.

Winemaking: ‘Cuvée Sergio 1887’ is part of the Luxury Collection, one of the many lines the estate produces. At the core of the Collection is “Full involvement of the senses. Sinuous appeal with a charming personality”, along with a combination of versatility and excellent quality. The cuvee was crafted by master vintner Sergio Mionetto to honor “the exceptional legacy handed down by Francesco Mionetto” 125 years ago, and to capture the characteristics of the native grapes made using the Charmat Method.

Tasting Notes: Pale gold in colour with aromas of red apple and minerals. Light apple and mineral notes reflect the aromas and are buoyed by small, dense bubbles leading to the high point of each sip; the dazzling, bright lemon and honey finish. The right balance of acidity, dryness and sweet notes make this fantastic on its own or with a variety of light dishes [and deserts].

“Blend of white wine grapes” [I was unable to verify varietals or percentages.]
Veneto
Italy
Produced and Bottled by Mionetto SPA
11% Alcohol
$13
Enjoy now