by Michael Pinkus
Over the summer, which honestly feels like a lifetime ago, I got the opportunity to taste a number of wines from the Galleon portfolio of Dandurand Group (a wine and spirits agency/importer in Ontario). As circumstances dictated, they wanted to start an online wine store so we could all still get our hands on top-tier wines, during the pandemic, without having to go out for dinner, or even get out of the house, to get them.
Below is a list of my top selections and reviews.
As a bonus … LUXE and myself have secured you—our dedicated readers—a 10 per cent discount on your first purchase. Visit the Luxe Collection at Galleon Wines where you can use the Promo Code: LUXE10 at checkout to receive your 10 per cent discount … which applies to all wines, not just those I recommend. So, take a poke around their store and see what you can find for gifts, or for yourself before the holidays. Cheers!
Just a quick note about ordering from an agent: taxes are not included as they are in the LCBO.
Good ★★★ ½
Very Good ★★★★
Excellent ★★★★ ½
+ Wines with a little bit extra.
Taglio del Tralcio 2017, Re Manfredi
Aglianico del Vulture, Italy, $26.95
Having visited the region a number of years ago, I was impressed with the wines they produced, especially the Aglianico del Vulture that showed elegance and minerality along with vibrant fruit character and tertiary flavours. Aglianico is the grape and “del Vulture” is where the grapes come from; grown in the volcanic soils located near Mt. Vulture in southern Italy. Re Manfredi, a relatively young winery (established in 1998) brings a modern feel to old established grapes: smoky, mineral and plum greet the nose, while on the palate pencil shavings, spiced-cherry, and peppered-licorice take charge; as this wine opens it doles out notes of mocha, chocolate, coffee and even some tobacco.
Mas Cavalls Pinot Noir 2015, Marimar Estate
A wine that is slow to open, but once it does, it’s a joy for the palate. Nose is almost muted throughout its time in glass, but the background hides the fruit behind a note of black licorice … It’s on the palate where this wine really shines: spiced-cherry, blackberry and pepper start things off. At 14.2 per cent alcohol some of that heat finds its way into the mouth, but it does not become a distraction as cherry-kirsch, smoke, dark chocolate, coffee bean also makes an appearance. After an hour open, the wine is just one big red and black fruit explosion with a touch of tart cranberry on the finish. A wine to discover over the course of an evening.
Rioja Riserva 2014, Castillo La Bastida
★★★ ½ +
This 100 per cent tempranillo wine is from the Rioja region of Spain, but those looking for “old school” Rioja might want to look the other way, this one settles in halfway between old-style and modern Rioja. It starts with 18 months in a mix of 70 per cent American and 30 per cent French oak … and yes that oak definitely has an influence on the nose and palate: vanilla, blackberry, cedar and licorice kick things off on the nose; while lots of dark fruit, sour cherry and spice hit the palate. The finish is where the wood really starts to show itself more prominently, with notes of nutmeg, cedar chips, smoked-cocoa, and licorice. The cedar never seems to let go no matter how long it’s open—but the acidity and fruit do help it along.
Barolo DOCG Serralunga D’Alba 2014, FontanaFredda
The striped label on this bottle is pretty iconic, especially to Barolo drinkers. The wine spends time in both barrique (small barrels, 225L) and in casks (2,000L barrels) for 12 months, it then rests in bottle for another 12 months (but can be longer depending on the vintage). The aromas are muted, but the palate really packs a punch: black and sour cherry with light mocha and spices plus the rhyming couplet of anise and cassis. 2014 is one of those “challenging”, “difficult” and “hard” vintages for Italy and so it might be best to drink this Barolo sooner than later, but still a pretty impressive wine all considering.
Conca de Barberà, 2015 Gran Muralles, Torres
A wine with an interesting story behind it. The grapes are carinena, garnacha, monastrell (all quite recognizable to Spanish wines fans); the other two are found varieties: garro and querol—once thought to be extinct but were literally found in the backyards of their countrymen. The average aging time is about 18 months in French oak. The most striking part is the red fruit notes along with red licorice, anise, cassis and chalky/smoky notes—there is a certain minerality that carries the wine, but also a silkiness that just can’t be denied along with a fresh clean acidity … all ending with a chocolate-raspberry-cherry combo that seduces you back to the glass again and again.
Trento DOC, Brut, Ferrari
Make some room over the holidays for a bottle or two of this gorgeous brut sparkling wine from Italy … 100 per cent chardonnay all hand-harvested and spending a minimum of 24 months on lees in the traditional sparkling method (aka: Champagne method). This is not prosecco. Fresh and clean with lots of green and mac apple fruit, some citrus notes and a subtle smokiness achieved from that time on lees—concentrate hard enough and you’ll find some floral nuance as well, otherwise just enjoy. It’s a wine that’ll bring a smile to your face, and joy to you and your guests.