Chardonnay growing in limestone soil - photo courtesy Cave Spring Cellars

The Terroirist - Chardonnay that Doesn't Suck

Part four in a continuing series.
If you're spending time flipping through the Vintages release catalogue for this Saturday, do yourself a favour and ignore the first half of the book. BIlled as a collection of their 'finest products' the actuality doesn't live up to the hype. Most of the products are either not really all that fine, or were released a few months ago, and they're still sitting on shelves. There are a few gems however, such as Gaja's Ca'Marcanda ($42.95, 745638) which is a fantastic lower-end Super Tuscan. The meat of this release is in the back pages, and there are more than a few nice products to put your lips around.

As an additional note, for obvious reasons, the LCBO isn't doing a release on December 24th, leaving me without any new products on which to write. To fill that slot then, I'll be doing a food and wine matching column, where I'll answer reader questions and provide suggestions for that perfect wine. If you have any meals that you want a wine matched with email me at with your questions. The more details you can include (what sorts of wine you normally like, what you're eating, etc...) the better I'll be able to make a recommendation.

Something Red
Casa Lapostolle 'Cuvee Alexandre' Syrah 2003 (Rapel Vally, Chile) $33.95, 627331
Unusually for a sub-equatorial wine, Casa Lapostolle has chosen to dub the grape as Syrah instead of Shiraz (they are two different names for the same grape, generally a north/south divide). Perhaps they were trying to conjure up images of the Rhone Valley in France, for this inky, nearly opaque purple wine certainly evokes that in its style. The nose is repleat with notes of chocolate, tar, dried fruit, and plum, which translate very similarly on the palate and this very full bodied wine fills your mouth. If you're drinking it now, open the bottle an hour before drinking, or keep it for a few years if you have a cellar.

Something White
Cave Spring 'CSV' Chardonnay 2002 (Niagara Peninsula, Canada) $30.00, 529941
Especially around Toronto, there seem to be two ingrained wine biases that are all too familiar: those who won't drink Ontario wine, and those who won't drink Chardonnay (I generally count myself amongst the latter group - though I'll make exceptions for exceptional Chards). This offering from Cave Spring Cellars out of Jordan, Ontario, should be enough to change the minds of either group. It is, in a word, fantastic. Many Chardonnays seem to be unable to find a happy medium between being over-oaked and being under-ripe (Stratus's Chard beign a notable (though pricey) exception) - thankfully the CSV hits the mark dead on. A pale gold-green colour visually, it presents aromas of butter, vanilla, melon, and pineapple. In the mouth, the butter notes are very evident, but spectacularly well integrated along with oodles of tropical fruit flavours. A perfect match for seafood dishes, especially buttery shellfish or rare tuna.

Something Different
Zwack Unicum Bitters (Hungary) $22.95 (500mL), 354851
Ever feel the need for a few shots of Jagermeister (say right after a meal, or right before a night out perhaps) but are tired of the same old green bottle? Me too. Thankfully Zwack's Unicum is going to be available shortly. Like Jagermeister, this is a herbal digestive liquere. Unlike Jager however, the Unicum has a touch of sweetness, and more aromatic notes, recalling almonds, cinnamon, and liquorice. Keep it in the freezer for those special occasions.

As always, happy drinking!

The Terroirist is published every other Thursday

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