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Chateau de Sales, AC Pomerol, 2005

Meritage – Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon & Franc
Chateau de Sales, AC Pomerol, 2005
Bordeaux, France

Pomerol produces the most expensive wines of Bordeaux. It is a tiny appellation on the Right Bank of the Dordogne river, but home to legendary estates such as Chateau Petrus.

This particular property, Chateau de Sales, is remarkable because it is the largest estate in Pomerol with over 100 acres under vine, and it has been owned by the same family for over 500 years.

The ideal weather in 2005 and the exceptional terroir produced a wine with milk chocolate, toast, black cherry and plum on the nose. The palate displays gorgeous layers of the same flavors, with plenty of weight, richness and ripeness. There is gorgeous length on the finish, excellent balance, and lovely complexity. Delicious!

Wine and food pairing: In Bordeaux the classic match is a fine piece of beef or lamb, or some hard cheese.

Kangarilla Road, 2010

Kangarilla Road, 2010
McLaren Vale, South Australia

McLaren Vale is perhaps the most beautiful of all the wine regions as it hugs the coastline, with its kilometers of sandy beaches, just outside the city of Adelaide. The heat of the Australian summer is slightly tempered by the cooling effect of the sea breezes.

Kangarilla Road has often received scores over 90 points and critics describe it as a classic Australian Shiraz. The super-ripe grapes bask in the sun, developing intense sweet aromas of blueberry, raisin and dark chocolate.

Only a moderate amount of new oak is used, allowing the wine to display its fruit-forward style and concentrated flavors. There is lovely balance between the richness of the fruit, the crisp acidity that cuts through it, and the supple tannins that house the wine.

Food and wine pairing: The best matches are with beef, lamb and hard cheese but it can be enjoyed by itself if you like full-bodied reds.

Babich Family Estate, 2012

Sauvignon Blanc
Babich Family Estate, 2012
Marlborough, New Zealand

Established in 1916 by Josip Babich, this winery has remained in family hands. It now ranks in the Top 50 World’s Most Admired Wine Brands, according to Drinks International.

This comes from Marlborough, the capital of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc. The region lies on the northern tip of the south island, and receives more sunshine hours than any other major growing region in the country.

The nose bursts with fresh and lively aromatics of melon, passionfruit and lime. The palate is dry, light in body, with a certain zest and purity of flavor, and the clean finish lingers. This is classic New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc.

Food and wine pairing: In hot climates this is the ultimate dry white wine, enjoyed as an aperitif or with light and fresh seafood dishes such as crab, salmon or scallops. It is also excellent with spicy dishes.

Selbach-Oster, Zeltinger Sonnenuhr, Spatlese, 2011

Selbach-Oster, Zeltinger Sonnenuhr, Spatlese, 2011
Mosel Valley, Germany

Since 1660 the Selbach family has been producing some of the very finest Rieslings in the Mosel Valley. This is arguably the greatest of all the German wine regions, which is known for the incredibly steep slopes, slate soils, and wines that are capable of ageing for decades. This wine comes from the Sonnenuhr vineyard which is close to the village of Zelting.

Typically pale in color, the nose exudes a gorgeous perfume of stone fruits like apricots and peaches, along with green fruits like apple and pear. On the palate the sweetness becomes evident, but the wine finishes in a drier style. There are notes of honey, pineapple and apricot, along with a subtle mineral character and a miniscule spritz that lifts the palate.

Food and wine pairing: The medium sweet character of the wine will suit spicy Indian and Asian dishes, and fresh fruit plates.

Chartron et Trebuchet, AC Meursault, 2011

Chartron et Trebuchet, AC Meursault, 2011
Burgundy, France

Chartron et Trebuchet is one of the old established merchants in Burgundy. They have been producing classic wines in the prestige appellations for generations. The House is particularly famous for white wines.

Meursault is one of the prestige appellations in Burgundy, known for producing some of the richest and fullest bodied Chardonnays in Burgundy. It is located in the Cote de Beaune, and is a relatively small appellation.

The nose is gorgeous with medium to high intensity and notes of toast, smoke, lemon, vanilla and nuts. The palate is classically dry, medium to full bodied, still very youthful and vibrant with a good life ahead of it, and a lovely touch of buttery richness to complement the peach and citrus flavours. The acidity brings structure and style to a wine of breed and class.

Food and wine pairing: This is the perfect complement to fish dishes, pasta in a cream sauce, and poultry.

Villa Maria, Cellar Selection, 2011

Sauvignon Blanc
Villa Maria, Cellar Selection, 2011
Marlborough, New Zealand

Villa Maria is the most awarded family-owned winery in New Zealand. It was founded in 1961 by Sir George Fistonich who has been instrumental in putting the country in the spotlight for their crisp, fragrant Sauvignon Blancs and now the Pinot Noirs.

Marlborough is the center of production, located on the northern tip of the south island. The region enjoys a large number of sunny days and cool nights, which is perfect for ripening this varietal.

It’s a beautifully intense and lively wine, overflowing with aromas of ripe gooseberry, melon and passion fruit. The wine is dry, light bodied, with bracing acidity, showing clean and pure mineral characters on the finish. It’s classic Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc.

Food and wine pairing: The perfect match for smoked salmon, crab, and other light seafood dishes. It also pairs well with spicy food.

Domaine Zind-Humbrecht, Herrenweg de Turckheim, 2009

Domaine Zind-Humbrecht, Herrenweg de Turckheim, 2009
Alsace, France

This is unquestionably one of the greatest producers of Gewurztraminer in the world, and we’re delighted to be able to offer you this wine.

Gewurztraminer is a classic grape which thrives in Alsace. It’s true that the name of the grape can be a tongue-twister, and is best shortened to Gewurz, meaning spice in German.

The color is a classic pale gold, partly because the berries have a pinkish color which impacts the wine. The nose is perfumed, heady, and bursts with tropical fruits such as lychee and pineapple. The palate is slightly off-dry, full bodied, rich and ripe, with layer after layer of delicious flavors, including spice and exotic fruits, all leading into a beautiful long finish. This is a fabulous expression of Gewurztraminer.

Food and wine pairing: Spicy dishes like curry or Asian cuisine, and lovely to sip all by itself too.

Château Batailley, AC Pauillac, 2006

Meritage – Cabernet Sauvignon & Franc & Merlot
Château Batailley, AC Pauillac, 2006
Bordeaux, France

Pauillac is the most important appellation of the Medoc. It is home to 3 out of 5 of the First growths, namely Latour, Lafite and Mouton Rothschild. The gravelly soil and suitable climate combine to produce many of the finest wines in the world here. Chateau Batailley sits right in the heart of the appellation. It is a Grand Cru Classe from 1855, a high prestige.

The color is still deep and dark but with a shade of brick creeping into the rim, indicating some age and maturity. The nose has earthy aromas, cassis, tobacco and espresso. The palate shows a lick of vanilla, cedar, black cherry and smoke all wrapped up in a medium to full-bodied wine, with a touch of grip to the tannins, and beautiful long length. A classic Bordeaux, to say the least.

Food and wine pairing: Outstanding with beef, lamb or some cheddar cheese.

d’Arenberg, The Footbolt, 2010

d’Arenberg, The Footbolt, 2010
McLaren Vale, Australia

d’Arenberg has been crafting wines for three generations and is certainly considered a benchmark producer in McLaren Vale.

The McLaren Vale region lies just outside the city of Adelaide in South Australia. It is particularly famous for both Shiraz and Grenache.

It is inky black with a shade of purple at the rim, which is the sign of youth in red wine. The nose is a powerhouse of dark black fruits, sweet spices and vanilla. The palate is so rich and full, dense and concentrated, in a full bodied style. There are all the hallmarks of quality here – intensity of aromatics, concentration of flavor, balance between the tannins, acidity and alcohol, and lovely long length.

Food and wine pairing: For those who enjoy a full bodied red wine this can be sipped by itself, but it pairs best with red meats and hard cheeses.

In memory of Laurence Faller, Domaine Weinbach, Alsace

On May 14th this year I was blindsided by the tragic news that one of the most talented winemakers in Alsace, Laurence Faller, had suffered a heart attack and left this world. She was 47.

Since hearing the news I keep thinking of her, and every time I see a bottle of her wine I buy it, and it’s all quite emotional.

I only met her a few times. I know her mother much better, the lovely Collette, who runs the estate. But I’ve been so stunned by this news that I wanted to write a small tribute to this amazing lady, who I will always remember.

Domaine Weinbach is unquestionably one of the greatest wineries in the world. They sit at the pinnacle of quality in Alsace. The Grand Cru Rieslings are outstanding, the Pinot Gris’ are fantastic, but my favorite of all are the Gewurztraminers, especially the late harvest, or VT.

I discovered their wines during blind tastings for Qatar Airways, and on several occasions they won the entire category and we purchased the wines. Qatar went on to win “Best Sweet wine in the Sky” at the UK Cellars in the Sky awards, not once but twice, which is unheard of. And so back in 2008 I decided I needed to go and visit this winery myself, meet the people, and learn more about them.

I sent a letter of introduction and gave my background, and a day later the visit request was confirmed. When the day finally came I showed up at this gorgeous small Hanzel and Gretel winery tucked away in a tiny village in Alsace ringed by the Vosges mountains. It was magical. Steeped in history, stunning, but without pretense. I rang the doorbell, and Laurence answered.

Everyone would agree that her natural beauty was overwhelming. She was beyond gorgeous. And after I introduced myself as James from Canada she gave the warmest smile, creating a lovely relaxed atmosphere immediately, and welcomed me in. We talked for a while about her wines and the estate, and occasionally her young kids would come running in asking her a question, and you could see in their eyes and feel in the atmosphere that it was a close family and her kids simply adored their Mum.

She then took me through the cellar explaining some incredible techniques that she used in winemaking, but what stood out was her non-interventionist approach, which is a technique in itself. It requires supreme ability, experience and confidence not to be tempted to fiddle with wines too much. For many of the sweet wines she told me the staggering fact that some fermented for over 12 months, naturally.

It was a long, fun and fascinating visit. Then Collette, her mother arrived, and Laurence introduced me “we have a wine lover from Canada today Mama, his name is James”. It was at that moment I fully realized that Laurence had no idea that I was a major Buyer of her wines. It was clear that all she had been told was that a winelover from Canada was coming to visit. And she had just given me a few hours of her precious time, opened a number of her best bottles, told me everything I wanted to know about her wines and Alsace, and been so incredibly warm and friendly.

This was how Laurence treated everyone, regardless of who they were. It left a huge impression on me.

Collette took over and brought me back to the family house and sat me down at the kitchen table, She bought out some lovely small bites and insisted on pouring more samples. I must have tasted about 20 wines. We talked for about another hour before I insisted that I had taken up far too much of their time.

As we wrapped up Collette shyly asked me, without wanting to pry, “so, James, what are you doing for your activity in Canada?”. I was so humbled by the generosity of their hospitality that I avoided saying more than we had a wine school, but I did feel it was important to at least mention that Qatar Airways was delighted to have their wines on board.

“QATAR! You are Qatar?! Mais non, why don’t you tell me before??? I totally forgot. You are Mr. Cluer,” she berated me in a loving way, both of us then laughing.

The point is this. The late Laurence Faller was one of the kindest Winemakers that I have ever been lucky enough to meet. Her generosity with her time, wine, humor, and her warmth is something I will never forget. She was like this with everyone.

I hope that the remarkable Laurence Faller rests in peace, loved by many. I hope her kids grow up knowing how special she was. My thoughts and prayers go out to her Mum Collette, who I wish I could give a big hug to right now. And I hope that you go out today and buy a bottle of her extraordinary wines – Domaine Weinbach.