Newsletter #277 - Read & React: Report from Italy

23 Feb 2017

 Newsletter #277 

February 23, 2017


  • WineReview: Read & React - Report from Italy

  • Grape Guy’s Picks of the Bunch: New & Noteworthy Wines

  • Weekly Wine Video Series:  A Recap of The Latest Videos

  • Ontario Wine UpdatesRe-Tastes and Other Interesting Finds

  • Grape Guy Events:  Make The Most of Your Trip to Wine Country

WineReview:  Read & React - Report from Italy

Florence, San Gimignano, Montepulciano, Montalcino, Faenza … what do all these places have in common? They all have an anteprime in February and I was there.

Some of my reports are already up (San Gimignano / Chianti Lovers / Toscana / Vino Nobile) while others are coming … to give you a broad look: Chianti is Chianti, they have always made good wines but the soon-to-be current vintage (2015) is going to be an easy recommend with lots of fruit at the surface and structure behind it.  San Gimignano is known for Vernaccia, a white grape we rarely see here, but the quality from their 2016 is impressive and will be an easy to recommend wine for summer, when and if they cross "the pond".  Montepulciano is home to the Vino Nobile, which is releasing their 2014 wines and 2013 reserves; tough vintages bring out the best in some vintners while others flounder - in this vintage the cream rose to the top.  And in Montalcino where Brunello is king, the 2012 were presented and there was just some wonderful wines to be had (what more can you really expect from a 5-star vintage). My final stop was Faenza, heart of the Romagna region (known more widely as Emilia-Romagna) here they grow Sangiovese and sometimes feel over-shadowed by their Tuscan neighbours … in the past I would have agreed with that statement, but a corner has been turned in 2015 and their wines are showing a delightfully flavourful fruit and restraint oak with acid backing instead of the other way around.

Which then brings me to my “read & react” for you … while at a dinner in Romagna, I was talking with a wine writers from a Scandinavian country - we were tasting a wine made from 95% Sangiovese and 5% Cabernet Franc, it was being poured alongside 2 other wines, both 100% Sangiovese and of the same DOC - which means the Franc was allowed and it met the standards required for the region. There were four of us in the discussion: an American, a Brit, the Scandinavian and me (Canadian, if you weren't aware) … three of us agreed in the order of preference of the wines, but the Scandinavian journalist was in diametric opposition to us for the following reason: "I want my wines from the region to be 100% Sangiovese, and the one with the Franc added is an inferior wine." As mentioned, the addition is allowable, within the rules, and thus a proper wine, but he refused to be swayed on the issue even when confronted with the idea that without the addition of the Franc the wine would have been diminished in stature. This is rather a black and white view of wine, for without the allowance of being about to shade in of the gray areas you would lose complexity and possibly make inferior wines. He would not even consider the wine because it did not fit into his narrow box of what these wines should be made from versus what they could be.

So I ask, should the wine regions of the world conform to your view of what you believe they should be, no matter the outcome, or are you willing to bend to meet them halfway for the sake of a better wines? If regional history dictates mono-varietal, but forward progress means adding "seasoning" through the use of another, for a better outcome, are you willing to bend your world wine view? Or are you one who is steadfast against any aberration in your wine?  Have your say on Facebook (Michael Pinkus Wine Review page) or Twitter (@TheGrapeGuy)

(Just for the record, I thought the wine with the Franc was the better of the three wines)


Grape Guy’s Picks of the Bunch:  New & Noteworthy Wines

16 Mile Cellar 2013 Chardonnay, Civility ($24.95) - W
The question here is why pay more for the Civility when the entry-level Rebel is such a darn good value for five dollars less … that’s an easy one to answer: more Chardonnay. If you like a delicate version, Rebel is your baby, but here Chardonnay gets amped up with buttery-caramel aromas plus vanilla and apple … the palate feels creamy with apple and lime adding depth of flavour plus a mineral aspect all wrapped up with zesty acidity on the finish.  Price: $24.95 – Rating: ****+

Also check out the review for the 2013 Rebel Chardonnay

Chateau des Charmes 2014 Pinot Noir, Paul Bosc Vineyard ($35.00) - W
The Chateau is not the first place I think about for Pinot Noir, but maybe this is the year that all changes: aromas of rich cranberry, cedar and black raspberry which follows onto the palate, adding smoke and white pepper along the way – this one needs a couple more years to fully reveal itself, by then it will impress even more than it does now.  Price: $35.00 – Rating: ****

Dark Horse 2014 Meritage, Velegro ($34.95) - W
Merlot dominates this blend followed by Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc, using a barrel regime of 18 months in both French and American oak. Nice aromas and flavours that contain cinnamon, blackberry, black cherry, plum and smoky-cocoa … finish has cedar and cranberry with a pleasant linger of each – I can see this one rounding out fully in a couple of years.  Price: $34.95 – Rating: ****

Hinterland 2015 Syrah, Red Herring ($35.00) - W
From the Wismer-Parke Vineyard in Niagara comes the very first red table wine to bear the name “Hinterland” – a formerly all-sparkling producer – according to Jonas Newman (owner and winemaker) “you gotta do something with the place once the sparkling is put to bed” (I’m paraphrasing a little here). His Syrah is pretty damn textbook Ontario here with dark brooding fruit, cracked black pepper and Montreal smoked meat spices … add in a long finish and you too will be wondering “who knew Jonas could also make good Syrah?” Obviously he did and now we know too.  Price: $35.00 – Rating: ****

Karlo Estates 2015 Pinot Noir ($35.00) - W
The Derek Barnett red-era has arrived at Karlo and it seems apropos it kicks off with a Pinot Noir. This non-estate all Prince Edward County fruit Pinot is aged 11 months in third and fourth fill barrels keeping fruit intact. The aromas are classic beet root and cran-cherry while the taste is a mix of black and sour cherry, white pepper and delicate tannins. This is a huge step in the right direction for Karlo Estates.  Price: $35.00 – Rating: ****

Trius 2014 Chardonnay, Oliveira Vineyard Showcase Series ($35.00) - W
Following is the footsteps of the tremendous 2013, the ’14 might seem a little disappointing (at first) but it’ll round into another beauty is about 6 months (just in time for summer). Nose leads with buttery-vanilla and adds spiced apple while the palate offers good acidity along with peach, apple, vanilla and some jazzy spiced up character on the finish.  At time of tasting it seemed a little tight – so that 6 more months should help it greatly.  Price: $35.00 – Rating: ****+

Availability legend:  W (Winery) – L (LCBO/Vintages) –  OL (On-Line)

Wine Meme of the Month ...

The Weekly Wine Video Series: A Recap of the Latest Videos

The Weekly Wine Videos
Every week I'll introduce you to another fabulous wine that you've just gotta try – Check out the YouTube Channel Now

Weekly Ontario Wine Videos

Video #204 - Trius 2012 Grand Red (Niagara)
Video #205 - Hinterland 2009 Les Etoiles (Prince Edward County)
Video #206 - Fielding 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon (Niagara)
Video #207 - Trius 2013 Wild Ferment Chardonnay (Niagara)


International Wines Series ... 

Catena 2013 San Carlos Cabernet Franc (Argentina)
Cono Sur 2015 Quebrada Alta Single Vineyard Chardonnay (Chile)
Chasselay 2014 Quatre Saisons Beaujolais (France)

Subscribe to the YouTube channel by clicking here

Ontario Wine Updates Re-Tastes and Other Interesting Finds

Taste it Again: 2 Chards Different Results
Taste it Again: Coyote's Run 2009 Pinot Noir, Black Paw Vineyard
Taste it Again: Trius 2005 Red
May 24 Weekend (Ontario / California / Spain)
Taste it Again: Hillebrand 2010 Red Shale Cabernet Franc
Taste it Again: Cave Spring 2008 Dolomite Riesling

From the Cellar (blog)
When it’s not an Ontario wine, here’s what I’m pulling out of the cellar
New Posts Added


PODCAST:  Two Guys Talking Wine ... NOW WEEKLY
Join me and my co-host Andre Proulx as we discuss all things wine, and sometimes we're not afraid to go off topic
Episode 29 - Talkin' Champagne Flutes
Episode 30 - Talkin' to Alberto Zenato
Episode 31 - Talkin' to Louis Moreau
Episode 32 - Talkin' to Len Pennachetti


Vintages Release (blog)
February 18, 2017 - Available Now
February 4, 2017 - Available Now

OntarioWineReview’s bi-weekly newsletter is devoted to the love, enjoyment and promotion of the wines of Ontario and the wineries that make them.

What can the Grape Guy do for you … Michael Pinkus (Grape Guy) provides a variety of wine related services that you might be interested in taking advantage of:  he gives lectures, leads seminars, conducts tastings, sets up tours; consults, selects and judges.  He also gives interviews, broadcasts, podcasts and writes.  Contact the Grape Guy if you require any of these services or have any questions.

Psst, Pass It On
… keep the good wine flowing. Forward this newsletter to your mom in Milton, your son in Smith Falls, or any other family member or loved one that you know needs good wine advice.

Socially Speaking …
Follow Michael Pinkus, the Grape Guy’s (almost) daily Tweets at .
You can become a friend on facebook:!/mepinkus
Those who are “Linked In” can find Michael at .

To contact us with feedback, article ideas, comments, concerns or questions – email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. We look forward to hearing from you!

© 2017. All rights reserved. You may use the content of this newsletter by including full credit to Michael Pinkus, Grape Guy and a link to

Get Our Newsletter

* indicates required

Follow Us on Social Media

Facebook Twitter Instagram YouTube