Ahhh, the joys of a well stocked cellar

The Terroirist - Touriga Time

Part Two of a continuing series exploring the new wines and spirits coming to Toronto.

Terroir: The combination of soil, topography and microclimate in a vineyard where grapes are grown.
Terroirism: The belief that terroir affects the grapes, and thus, how the wine will taste.
Terroirist: One who holds the above belief.

The October 29th release has a focus on Australia: reasonable (but far from the exceptional value it was 10 years ago) value, powerful, flavourful wines. Generally I find that it's tough to go wrong with an Australian wine - there are few lacklustre Aussie wines that make it to the international market - but equally tough to find really exceptional beauties, especially at the lower price points. Still, Aussie wines have their quirks; they tend to be best on their own, often overpowering even strong foods.

On another note, the Muga Rioja which I recommended last time apparently sold out at some stores in under an hour - I hope everybody got a chance to try it!

Something Red:
St. Hallett 'GST' 2004 (Barossa, Australia) $23.95, 660910
When I first saw the label on this blend of Grenache, Shiraz, and Touriga Nacional (hence the name 'GST') I was apprehensive. Touriga is a grape that is rarely found outside of the Douro Valley area of Portugal, and even then is generally heavily blended with other grapes to make port. It is an intensely flavoured grape, and while it goes down a charm when loaded with it's natural sugars, I was curious to see how it would fare in a dry Australian wine: it fares very well indeed. A bright ruby colour, the wine gave off a complex nose with aromas of cinnamon, leather, and grapey stewed fruit, with what I thought was a hint of grass. On the palate, it was expectedly big, with mouth-filling velvety tannings, and loads of berry, spice and tar. Absolutely sublime, and could easily stand up to roasted game.

Something White:
Foss Marai Prosecco (Veneto, Italy) $18.95, 729392
Canadian appreciation of Prosecco tends to go in phases: it's either regarded as a fun little fizzy wine to sip casually, or as the ugly sister to France's Champagne. If more bottles like this Foss Marai production start making it to our shores, Prosecco might actually start getting a bit more respect around these parts. A pale greenish-gold in colour, my glass was awash in lots of tiny bubbles; always a good sign. The nose was surprisingly forceful, sending tones of honey, flower petals, and peach my way. In my mouth, the bubbles exploded into a fine mousse, and the honey and peach notes returned, along with some pleasant spice. This isn't a cheap way out of Champagne, it's something else altogether, it can stand up on it's own. Perfect with brioche, sliced apples, or mixed berries.

Something to dream about:
Andrea Oberto Barolo 2000 (Piedmont, Italy) $49.95, 717264
While I generally try to focus on wines that are affordable to everybody (which is why I'll always start with Something Red and White) sometimes I stumble across wines that arn't cheap, but are still excellent value. This is one of them. It ain't cheap, but it's worth every penny if you're looking for something to really impress your taste buds - and your date. Unusual for Barolos in general (and the 2000 vintage in particular) this is a wine designed to be drunk now; it's not going to keep improving significantly in your cellar. The wine is a light brick colour, with an already broad rim that shows its age. The nose was simply gorgeous, full of a complex mix of cinnamon, cherry, liquorice, herbs, chocolate, and raspberry. The palate was equally full and similarly flavoured, with a brisk vein of acidity running through it, and a flavour that I couldn't quite put my finger on, but it was delicious. If you're a wiz in the kitchen, cook up a beef and portobello stew; it would match famously.

The Terroirist appears on blogTO every other Thursday.

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