Summer Somm Picks

Uncharted Wine Journeys

with Peter Pan, Grand Sommelier

Wednesdays  |  June – August, 2024

UNDISCOVERED TREASURES
(limited quantities)

Explore our curated selection of the best gems under $100. I’ve hand-picked each wine for its outstanding value and quality within its’ price point. Cheers! – Peter Pan

White

32020 Cave Spring “Cave Spring Vineyard,” Riesling, Lake Ontario, Canada 2020  |  $50

Discover the Uniqueness of the Lake Ontario Wine Region: The Niagara Peninsula, flanking Lake Ontario, is one of Canada’s most celebrated wine regions. The lake’s moderating effect creates a unique microclimate that is ideal for viticulture, protecting the vines from extreme temperatures and extending the growing season. This results in wines with vibrant acidity and intense flavor concentration, particularly well-suited for aromatic whites like Riesling.

History of Cave Spring: Established in 1978, Cave Spring Cellars is one of Canada’s pioneering wineries. Founded by the Pennachetti family, the winery is dedicated to crafting wines that reflect the terroir of the Niagara Peninsula. Over the decades, Cave Spring has earned a reputation for excellence, particularly with Riesling, which thrives in the region’s limestone-rich soils and cool climate.

Why Riesling Excels at Lake Ontario: Riesling flourishes in the Niagara Peninsula due to the combination of cool temperatures, mineral-rich soils, and the long, slow ripening period provided by Lake Ontario’s influence. This results in Rieslings that are both expressive and balanced, showcasing bright acidity, complex fruit flavors, and a distinctive mineral backbone. Cave Spring’s 2020 Riesling is a perfect example of this harmony, offering a crisp and refreshing wine that beautifully reflects its unique origin.

Perfect Pairing: CAVIAR & CRISPY LANGOUSTINE ROLL
The bright acidity and citrus notes of Cave Spring Riesling balance the richness of the caviar and crispy langoustine, while its minerality complements the caviar’s brininess. This pairing creates a refreshing and harmonious dining experience.

Flavor Profile:
Crisp, Citrusy, Mineral

Wine Score: 92 Points
This wine is a must-try for Riesling enthusiasts. Hailing from the VQA Niagara region, the Cave Spring Vineyard Riesling 2020 offers a delightful bouquet of fruit flavors, presenting a complex spectrum that makes for an intriguing tasting experience. The wine is pleasantly crisp with a slight bite, leading to a solid medium finish that is both satisfying and refreshing.
Given its complexity, crispness, and enjoyable finish, this Riesling deserves a high score. The wine’s well-balanced flavor profile and its ability to deliver a compelling tasting experience merit a score of 92 points on the 100-point scale.

Red

12081 Courrier, Grenache, Côtes Catalanes, Languedoc Roussillon, France 2015  |  $60

Exploring the Côtes Catalanes Wine Region: Côtes Catalanes is a sub-region within Languedoc-Roussillon in southern France, known for its diverse landscapes and unique terroirs. Bordered by the Mediterranean Sea and the Pyrenees Mountains, this area benefits from a warm, sunny climate and a mix of soils that are ideal for growing robust, flavorful grapes. The combination of these natural factors results in wines with great depth and character.

The Story of Courrier Grenache: The 2015 Courrier Grenache hails from old vines rooted in the rocky soils of Côtes Catalanes, a region often overshadowed by its famous neighbors, the Rhône Valley and Provence. Despite this, Côtes Catalanes has a rich winemaking tradition that dates back centuries, producing wines that are both distinctive and expressive. Courrier Grenache is crafted with care to highlight the region’s unique qualities, offering a wine that is both robust and refined.

Why Grenache Thrives in Languedoc-Roussillon: Grenache is particularly well-suited to the warm, dry conditions of Languedoc-Roussillon. The grape’s natural resilience and ability to thrive in rocky, well-drained soils make it a perfect match for the region. The result is a wine that is rich in flavor and complexity, with dark fruit notes, a touch of spice, and a velvety texture that reflects the sunny Mediterranean climate and varied terroir of Côtes Catalanes.

Perfect Pairing: MAPLE LEAF FARMS DUCK POTSTICKERS
The bold and fruity notes of Courrier Grenache complement the rich, savory flavors of the Maple Leaf Farms Duck Potstickers. The wine’s hints of spice enhance the Luxardo cherry agrodolce sauce, while its smooth, velvety finish balances the crispy texture of the potstickers. This pairing creates a harmonious blend of flavors, elevating both the dish and the wine for a delightful dining experience.

Flavor Profile: 

Bold, Spicy, Velvety

Wine Score: 95 Points
The 2015 Courier Côtes Catalanes is a profound and powerful wine that encapsulates the essence of the South of France. This vintage is composed of 70% Grenache sourced from 70-year-old vines and 30% Carignan from 100-year-old vines, resulting in incredibly low yields of about ¼ ton per acre. Aged for three years in neutral 500-liter barrels and an additional three years in the bottle, this wine is beautifully mature and ready to drink, yet still holds youthful vigor. On the nose, it offers an enticing bouquet of blackberries, currants, gamey garrigue, and olive tapenade, complemented by floral nuances and hints of allspice and camphor. The palate is full-bodied and concentrated, yet retains an elegant, weightless texture. The wine is supple, with a vibrant and silky finish that lingers impressively.

Given its depth, complexity, and elegant structure, this wine deserves a high score. The meticulous care in the vineyard and cellar, combined with the age of the vines and the quality of the fruit, justifies a score of 95 points on the 100-point scale.

OBSCURE GEMS
(limited quantities)

I have ventured off the beaten path to bring you an extraordinary selection from lesser-known wine regions around the world. Each wine on this list has been carefully chosen for its unique character and outstanding quality, offering you an opportunity to explore obscure wine territories. – Peter Pan

SPARKLING

22000 Chapel Down, Tenterden, England Brut N/V  |  $100

Discovering Tenterden and English Sparkling Wine: Tenterden, located in the heart of Kent, England, is part of a region often referred to as the “Garden of England.” This area has become increasingly recognized for its ability to produce high-quality sparkling wines. The cool climate, combined with the chalky soils similar to those found in Champagne, creates an ideal environment for growing the classic grape varieties used in sparkling wine production.
 
The Legacy of Chapel Down: Chapel Down is one of England’s leading wineries, renowned for its innovative approach and commitment to quality. Established in the late 20th century, Chapel Down has quickly gained a reputation for producing some of the finest sparkling wines in the UK. Their vineyards in Tenterden are meticulously managed to ensure that each grape reaches its full potential, resulting in wines that are fresh, vibrant, and elegant.
 
Why Sparkling Wine Thrives in Tenterden: The cool, maritime climate of Tenterden slows down the ripening process, allowing grapes to develop complex flavors while retaining high acidity—an essential characteristic for sparkling wines. The use of traditional methods, similar to those employed in Champagne, ensures that Chapel Down Brut N/V has a fine mousse and a well-balanced profile. This wine is a testament to the growing excellence of English sparkling wines, offering a refined and refreshing experience.
 
Perfect Pairing: Steamed Line-Caught Sustainable Chilean Sea Bass
The crisp, citrusy notes of Chapel Down Sparkling Brut beautifully complement the delicate, flaky texture of the steamed Chilean Sea Bass. The wine’s elegant acidity cuts through the richness of the fish, while its subtle hints of baked bread enhance the dish’s savory nuances. This pairing elevates the flavors, making each bite a celebration of refined and balanced gastronomy.
 
Flavor Profile:
Crisp, Citrusy, Elegant
 
Wine Score: 90 Points
This Chapel Down Brut N/V from Tenterden, England, is a delightful expression of English sparkling wine. The wine boasts vibrant notes of crisp green apple and zesty citrus, complemented by a delicate hint of freshly baked bread. The fine bubbles and balanced acidity create a refreshing and elegant palate, showcasing the winery’s commitment to quality and craftsmanship. This sparkling wine is perfect for celebrations and pairs beautifully with seafood and light appetizers. A great alternative for Champagne.
The score reflects the wine’s clean and balanced profile, elegant fruit and yeasty aromas, and refreshing palate, which together make it a delightful and versatile sparkling wine.

WHITE

23301 Badenhorst “Piet Bok se Bos,” Chenin Blanc, Swartland, Western Cape, South Africa |  $150

From the rugged landscapes of Swartland in South Africa’s Western Cape, Badenhorst’s “Piet Bok se Bos” Chenin Blanc 2018 is a testament to the depth of South Africa’s viticultural prowess. This Chenin Blanc, sourced from resilient old bush vines, delivers a symphony of ripe stone fruits and honey, with a striking minerality that lingers and highlights the adaptability of the Chenin Blanc grape.  
 
Flavor Profile:
Complex, Mineral, Honeyed
 
Wine Score: 91 Points
The 2018 Badenhorst “Piet Bok se Bos” Chenin Blanc from Swartland, South Africa, is a remarkable wine that captures the essence of the region. With aromas of ripe stone fruits and honey, it offers a rich and layered palate with vibrant acidity and a distinct minerality. The wine’s complexity and depth are enhanced by subtle notes of oak and spice, making it a versatile choice for pairing with a variety of dishes. This Chenin Blanc is a testament to South Africa’s winemaking potential.
This score is justified by the wine’s complex flavor profile, balanced acidity, and well-structured body, all of which contribute to its overall excellence and versatility for food pairings.

Red

11220 Bodega Garzon “Single Vineyard,” Tannat, Uruguay 2019  |  $90

Exploring the Unique Terroir of Uruguay: Uruguay, nestled between Argentina and Brazil, is a small but rapidly emerging wine-producing country known for its unique terroir. The rolling hills and proximity to the Atlantic Ocean create a temperate climate that is perfect for growing Tannat, a grape that thrives in the well-drained, mineral-rich soils of the region. The maritime influence helps moderate temperatures, allowing for a long growing season and the development of complex flavors.
 
The Story of Bodega Garzon: Founded in 1999, Bodega Garzon has quickly established itself as a leader in Uruguayan viticulture. The winery is renowned for its sustainable practices and innovative approach, which includes planting vineyards on rocky soils and utilizing modern winemaking techniques. Bodega Garzon’s commitment to quality and terroir-driven wines has earned it international acclaim, particularly for its Tannat, which has become a flagship variety for Uruguay.
 
Why Tannat Excels in Uruguay: Tannat, originally from the Basque region, has found a new home in Uruguay, where it has become the country’s signature grape. The combination of Uruguay’s climate and terroir allows Tannat to develop its full potential, resulting in wines that are rich in color, flavor, and tannic structure. The 2019 “Single Vineyard” Tannat from Bodega Garzon offers deep blackberry and plum flavors, layered with spice and earthy notes, and a robust tannic backbone that provides excellent aging potential.
 
Perfect Pairing: Mongolian Lamb
The bold and robust flavors of Bodega Garzon Tannat beautifully complement the rich, savory taste of Mongolian Lamb. The wine’s deep blackberry and plum notes enhance the lamb’s natural flavors, while its spicy undertones and firm tannins balance the dish’s sweetness and umami. This pairing creates a dynamic and harmonious experience, bringing out the best in both the lamb and the Tannat.
 

Flavor Profile:
Bold, Spicy, Robust

Wine Score: 93 Points
Bodega Garzon’s 2019 “Single Vineyard” Tannat is a bold and impressive wine from Uruguay. It features intense aromas of blackberry and plum, with underlying hints of spice and earthy undertones. The palate is robust and full-bodied, with firm tannins and a long, satisfying finish. This Tannat showcases the unique terroir of Uruguay’s rolling hills and the winery’s dedication to producing world-class wines. It pairs exceptionally well with grilled meats and hearty dishes.
The high score reflects the wine’s depth and complexity, rich tannic structure, and balanced acidity, which together highlight its potential for aging and its robust, expressive character.

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