Great tastes from around the world!

I had to be reminded recently that September is still summer. The kids are back in school, schedules go back to normal, and the days are getting shorter. On the bright side, the bugs are gone, the days are still warm (usually) and it’s still great to get outside and do some grilling. Have some friends or family over on a weeknight, and enjoy one of these great wines from around the globe. Cheers! 

Valenciso 2007 Rioja Reserva, Rioja, Spain

Possibly my new favourite Rioja – just kidding, it is my new favourite. I’m loving the liquorice and cherry notes with cola, spice box, and hints of orange peel on the nose. Flavours are consistent and it has got great weight in the mouth along with black pepper and a tasty finish. Cellar with confidence till around 2020. $44

Colene Clemens 2011 “Adriane” Pinot Noir, Chehalem Mountains, Oregon

Good quality and expression of the grape here with plenty of fruit, earth, spice, and tomato leaf leading into a clean and consistent experience for the mouth. A little blackberry fruit complements mid-weight tannins (for pinot noir) and a long silky finish. Match with duck, salmon, or thick homemade burgers. $52

Sandhill 2011 Small Lots Viognier, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia

One of my favourite viogniers coming out of Canada. Bright peach and white blossom, vanilla pod, mineral and orange peel aromas lead to a tight, floral palate with mineral and stone fruits. Plenty of layers to give the palate a workout, drink now or through 2016. $35

Frank Family Vineyards 2012 Chardonnay, Napa Valley, California

Red apples, crushed lime, a little oak and buttered popcorn lead on the nose, while oak figures a little more prominently on the palate. A near-perfect example of what big, buttery chardonnay should be like. Drink with richer soups or pastas, or on its own – just to savour…. $48

Josef Chromy NV Tasmanian Cuvée

From waaay down under comes this sleek and stylish sparkling wine made in the traditional method. Blended around pinot noir and chardonnay, it’s full of crisp apple, almonds, toast, and mineral aromas with all the style and pizazz you expect from champagne. A new classic. $33

Chateau de Martinat Côtes du Bourg 2009 Bordeaux, France

A nose that brings cigar box, tar, cherry, cassis, cedar and plum, this blend of merlot with cabernet sauvignon and malbec packs plenty of earthy flavours and just a touch of grippy tannins. A well made wine that should handle the last of the summer barbecues, and keep in the cellar 2-3 years with ease. $23

Sandhill 2010 Small Lots Two, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia

Limited in 2010 to only 11 barrels, the blend is centered around cabernet sauvignon with merlot and a few others for good measure. Expect cherry and cedar characters with tons of spice, blueberry, tobacco leaf and just the right amount of bell pepper. Drinking very well now, it can cellar up to 5-7 more years. $35

Tantalus 2012 Chardonnay, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia

Packed to the brim with apple fruits, lemon and lime, and rife with mineral tones, this is an exciting chardonnay to drink. Bright flavours, purity of fruit, and a wonderful, clean finish – so good! Drinking now, you get all the tension between acid, fruit, and mineral. Enjoy with a little seafood, or invite me over and I’ll help you drink it. $35

19 Crimes 2012 Shiraz Durif, Victoria, Australia

Woody tones and cherry fruits show on the nose with coffee bean, black raspberry, and vanilla making an appearance. Black liquorice, and black fruits lead the palate with firmer tannins and some bright acids. I’m thinking this will pair very well with beef ribs, good burgers, or meaty pasta sauces. $22

Durbanville Hills 2013 Sauvignon Blanc, South Africa

Fresh grapefruit, lime, and melon aromas with a distinct note of apple skins, the palate is light and crisp with a little jalapeño and mineral cleaning up on the finish. A refreshing change from the Kiwi style of sauvignon blanc. $17

Savian 2012 Pinot Grigio, Venezia, Italy

Relatively new to the market, the Savian is awash in apple fruits, floral aromas, apple rock candy, and peach. A little acidic zing brings life to the fruits and overall it’s a great glass of pinot grigio. Oh, it’s organic too if that helps. $21

La Casona de Castaño 2013 Old Vine Monastrell, Yecla, Spain

Bright, ruby red in the glass, the aromas are of fresh berries, with spice box, dried cane, and some wicked violet notes. Made from 40-60 year old vines and striking a fine balance between fruit and earthiness, the long spicy finish will keep you coming back. $14

Tom Firth is the contributing drinks editor for Culinaire Magazine and the competition director for the Alberta Beverage Awards, follow him on twitter @cowtownwine. 

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