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Stephen Beaumont CSW CWE

Stephen Beaumont CSW CWE

1313 days ago

Stephen Beaumont scored this wine: 88/100

The description in the LCBO suggests this is extra dry. Clearly it is not, and neither is it a dessert wine. It has 27g/litre of sugar but getting hung up on sweetness is a terrible thing and sadly, the LCBO has perpetuated this concept in the minds of consumers, and possibly confused things all the more by changing the method they use to indicate sweetness, to the point that it has almost become THE selection factor for many. Sweetness, or more accurately, residual sugar, is only one factor in describing taste and style. This wine is a prime example of how the balance of acidity and fruit can affect the overall quality and enjoyableness. Despite having 27g/litre of residual sugar (clearly not "extra dry") the first impression is that of wonderfully clean, bracing, bright and enticing acidity. There is bags of citrus fruit and yet it is in fantastic balance with the level of sweetness, that together ensure a finish that is much longer than anticipated for a wine of this price, and that does not end with any trace of bitterness. These factors make for a wine that is immensely food friendly, pairing with white meats, Asian spiced dishes, fish, and a pungent blue cheese. This is a wine that is not too sweet, and not too dry. As Goldilocks would say, it is "just right" for drinking on its own, with food and at almost any time. Its versatility is remarkable and I was so impressed with this wine for the price that it has become, at least for now, one of my go-to faves. Oh, and did I mention that the name is so appropriate, because there are elements of slate minerality also mixed in with this pristine, clean white Riesling? Highly recommended

1321 days ago

Stephen Beaumont scored this wine: 90/100

Sadly I was unable to attend the Simply Italian Great Wines show in Toronto this year to meet up with Ricardo Curbastro the maker of stupendous Franciacorta sparklers. I tasted (and reviewed) two of his wines in 2015 and was greatly impressed with the quality, style and finesse that they exhibited. His Toronto distributor, Wine Moves (currently the only place we can purchase Ricci's wines) kindly provided a sample of his Extra Brut for my review. With vineyards skirting Lago d'Iseo in Lombardy (a gem of a lake where I remember witnessing a local wedding on a patio with the entire group bursting into spontaneous song), Curbastro uses equal proportions of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir in his Extra Brut. Not released until 48 months after harvest, the slow bottle ageing and extremely dry dosage results in a wine of distinction, albeit somewhat less approachable initially than the Saten and Brut. The colour is straw yellow, bright and with rising strings of remarkably tiny bubbles that burst on your tongue with initial acidity that then create a memorable creaminess. But before tasting, ensure you luxuriate in the yeasty, mineral aromas emanating from the glass. Again, I find them to be more subtle and reticent, especially when compared to the 100% Chardonnay Saten, but you know immediately that this is a wine of class and breeding. The creamy-soft mouthfeel, unmistakable Chardonnay characteristics, highlighted by Pinot Noir notes, is a prelude to a long and refined finish that leaves you wanting to repeat the show with another, then another sip. Extra brut sparkling wines, including Champagnes, can actually feel somewhat austere. Our modern palates are becoming increasingly used to higher levels of residual sugar, and this wine may not be as appealing or approachable to some, particularly as a drink-on-its-own aperitif. But pair it with salty hors d'oeuvre, wafer thin prosciutto or oysters (oh, I am salivating just writing this!) and you will be singing as loudly as those wedding guests in Iseo!

1674 days ago

Stephen Beaumont scored this wine: 86/100

Garganega may not be a grape you're familiar with, however if you have ever drunk a Soave, then you have already tasted Garganega (pronounced gar-GAN-ega). This wine is quite a find and excellent value for the price. Produced in the Verona region near to the Soave region, this actually contains 85% Garganega grapes and 15% "other" varieties that are unspecified (although I suspect trebbiano features in the mix). They are hand picked and vinified into a wine with great elegance, mineral overtones and zingy acidity. With a delightfully floral nose, much better than many Soaves that often trade on their name, this is a wine to enjoy with white meats, antipasti or fish and yet has enough going on in the mouth to be able to complement Asian inspired dishes without getting lost. It won a bronze medal in the 2014 International Wine Challenge and at $13.95 a bottle, offers a quality that is a long way above what the price would suggest. Highly recommended

La Pieve Barolo 2010

Piedmont D.O.C.G., Italy
1674 days ago

Stephen Beaumont scored this wine: 91/100

Barolo is one of my favourite wines. Made with the Nebbiolo grape in the Piemonte region of north west Italy, they are robust wines that can usually benefit from significant time in bottle. This wine was tasted at an unusual tasting of Italian wines at l'Alliance Francaise in Toronto. The entire evening was conducted in French, as is the raison d'ĂȘtre of the organization, and we were guided through the tasting by a French sommelier. The room was filled with Francophiles who can often be dismissive of wines from their neighbour, but nobody could dispute the considerable quality of this Barolo. The characteristic tar and rose bouquet set up the palate to receive a multi-layered experience that paired well with the sharp, tangy blue cheese that was passed around to accompany it. Personally, I'd have preferred a simple Parmigiano but probably because that combination evokes some amazing memories of trips to Piedmont when I did just that - ate chunks of aged Parmesan cheese with 20-year old Barolo on sun-soaked terraces overlooking the vines of La Morra. Heaven. On. Earth. While this is not an earth shattering example of Barolo, it is very characteristic and actually represents good value for a wine of this quality. It is made in the more modern style that traditionalists still shun - lighter and less oaked than the old styles that needed 10+ years to make them approachable. But this wine has ample tannin and structure and while already 5 years old, will benefit from more bottle age up to another five. Plenty of earthy notes come through and the finish is luxurious and multi-faceted, changing several times and leaving a hint of pepper and spice, all against a dark berry backdrop. Barolo always seems like a winter wine to me. Drink with game, roasts and grills. It definitely needs food.

Riserva Santa Margherita

Lamole di Lamole Riserva Santa Margherita Chianti Classico 2010

Tuscany D.O.C.G., Italy
1674 days ago

Stephen Beaumont scored this wine: 89/100

Italian wines at l'Alliance Francaise? Yes, that just happened! I was a guest of l'Alliance in Toronto for one of their regular cheese and wine evenings and the theme was Italian wines, presented entirely in French as is the tradition there. Often, Francophiles are a little dismissive of wines from other countries but those present were polite while tasting three good wines from their Latin neighbour, especially as they were accompanied by cheeses that mostly came from Quebec. Phew! Santa Margherita is best known for its superior Pinot Grigio, so it was fun to taste a red wine from the same producer - this Chianti Classico Riserva 2010. Chianti of course is made in Tuscany and must contain 80% Sangiovese grapes. While other grapes are allowed in the blend, they are strictly controlled and this particular example is 100% Sangiovese (the accompanying Powerpoint slide suggesting these was also nebbiolo in the blend, this is absolutely not the case and never would be). There was a little of the tell-tale burnt orange colour on the meniscus (the usually clear rim around the edge of the wine) and the colour was ruby-garnet - the colour of blood - as suggested by the grape name. Bright red-fruit notes and pleasingly balanced acidity coupled with soft tannins made this a good wine to accompany cheese, but would be even better with plain grilled beef. A pleasant wine that is drinking well now.

Stephen Beaumont CSW CWE

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Memorable Wine

There have been so many, but probably a dinner with all five 1961 and 1962 Bordeaux First Growths! Amazing!

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First Wine

I was too young to remember my first ever wine however I started drinking wine when on a French exchange visit in the Loire Valley at age 13, diluted with water of course, which is the way all French kids start to enjoy their national beverage!

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Unusual Wine Experience

Spending time with the late Didier Dagueneau in his heyday. I stayed with the family overnight in Poully-sur-Loire, sleeping on the floor of his son's room after enjoying a sumptuous but simple dinner prepared by his wife and accompanied by his incredible Pouilly Fume, including the exquisite Silex. His three year old son corrected my French, with an endearing lisp!

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Current Fav Wine

I am particularly partial to all of Catena wines from Argentina. The Malbec is extraordinarily good value!

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Winner World's Best Drink Writer
WFour-Time Winner James Beard Foundation
Five-Time Winner Association of Food Journalists
Six-Time Winner Bert Greene Award
Best Wine Literature Book Gourmand World Cookbook Awards
Online Writer of the Year Louis Roederer International Wine Writing Award