Vouvray, Viognier or Zinfandel? Get to Know Your Grapes!

The Jan 6 , 2018 LCBO release features many different good value wines with a wide range of varietals.  Here is a chance to explore Vouvray, Viognier or Zinfandel grapes without breaking the bank.

So.. whether you enjoy ‘self study’ or group wine tastings there is something in this release for everyone. You can use the notes below to get familiar with the standardly recognized characteristics of the different grapes and/or regions.

Use this link to check out availability of wines closest to you – LCBO store locator. Just enter the product number and your postal code to get a list of stores closest to you that have it in stock.

Check out the other good value wines recommended from the Jan6, 2018 LCBO release here.

Vouvray (Chenin Blanc)

Vouvray is region in the Loire region of France.  Wines labelled as Vouvray are made using the Chenin Blanc grape. More than 50% of the wines produced are sparkling wines often labelled ‘methode traditionnelle’.  Still wines can range from lean and minerally to sweet and aromatic depending on the style.

Sparkling  wines can be Brut (dry)  with less than 12 grams of sugar/L or Demi-Sec (sweet) with 32-50 grams of sugar/L.

Still Vouvrays can be Sec with less than 8 grams of sugar/L, and increasing off dry to sweet labelled Tendre,  Demi-Sec Moelleux respectively.

Chenin Blanc is a very widely popular grape in South Africa as well.

Examples

 CHÂTEAU MONCONTOUR TÊTE DE CUVÉE BRUT VOUVRAY 
(Traditional method, AC, Loire, France)

207936 (D) 750 mL $17.95 Vintages tasting note: This wine is well poised between crisp young fruit and a more mature character. Apples and citrus fruits are right up front, balanced by acidity and with nuts and toast flavors developing. That makes for a refreshing wine that is also complex.
Drink now. Score: 90 (Roger Voss, Wine Enthusiast, Dec. 31, 2016) Medium-bodied & Flavourful

Bougrier Vouvray Chenin Blanc (France)

253229 $15.95    STYLE – Off-dry & Fruity  Light gold colour with aromas of peach, pear and mango; slightly off-dry, good acidity, light to medium body’

TUSSOCK JUMPER CHENIN BLANC 2017 (WO Western Cape, South Africa)

480764 (XD)  $12.95  Vintage notes: “South African winemakers have come a long way in their technique, especially with white wines. The upfront tropical guava, ripe peach and pineapple here are an excellent example of a rich, ripe style of Chenin. At $12.95, it’s a must-try; something to try if you’re a fan of Vouvray.” Full-bodied  Rich

Viognier

The home of modern day Viognier is the region of  Condrieu in France.  Other countries have started producing Viognier, most notably Australia, USA, Italy, South Africa and Chile.  Viognier is a full bodied wine with floral and fruity notes – think honeysuckle, peaches, tangerines.  The French style has a dry minerality to it that keeps it from becoming too perfumy or cloying. Done right Viognier can be as complex  and full-bodied as Chardonnay. Wine styles vary widely by country and producer from light and spritzy to bold and creamy.

PAUL MAS ESTATE VIOGNIER 2016 Nicole Vineyard, IGP Pays d’Oc (Midi, France)

370098  $13.95       This is listed as XD – so the lowest end of the sweetness scale- expect no perceived sweetness.    TASTING NOTE: Paul Mas is one of the most exciting producers in the South of France. They strive to impart their wines with a sense of “luxe rural”: everyday (or simple) luxury. Under the stewardship of Jean-Claude Mas, the winery has become a trailblazer for the quality revolution that has gripped this part of France. Their 2016 Viognier is a great example. Floral and intense with ample suggestions of honey, apricot, peach, pear, citrus and minerality. A balanced wine that delivers impressively on the qualityand-value ratio. (Vintages panel, Feb. 2017) Aromatic & Flavourful

Zinfandel

Zinfandel covers both ends of the spectrum.

White Zinfandel (or Blush wine) is a light bodied, sweet fruity wine that was designed to appeal to a broad market range. It is often appreciated most by those new to the world of wine since it has an easy entry flavour profile.

Red Zinfandel is a bold, spicy red often characterized by high alcohol volumes 13-17%.  Red Zinfandel has become a signature grape of California. Zinfandel is fruity on the palate -think blueberry, cherry, plum, boysenberry and cranberry. You can also expect spiciness -black pepper and smoky tobacco – none of it subtle!

They are made from the same grape although lesser quality grapes can be used in White Zinfandel because the processing and sugar content make it more forgiving. Zinfandel and the Italian  Primitivo are the same grape but different viticulture and winemaking techniques produce significantly different outcomes.

Examples

PASO CREEK ZINFANDEL 2015 (Paso Robles, Calfornia, USA)

279810     $20.95  TASTING NOTE: Paso Robles is to Zinfandel as joy is to full: Zinfandel is this historic region’s most famous variety. This one is crafted in an approachable, crowd-pleasing style, putting plenty of ripe, intense red fruit front and centre. It has good depth and a nice smoky edge. Juicy and fresh with excellent balance. Well-made and well-priced, this will be superb with grilled ribs with a spicy rub. (Vintages panel, May 2017) Full-bodied & Smooth

PARIS VALLEY ROAD ZINFANDEL 2014 (California, USA)

535377     $17.95  TASTING NOTE: Sourced from sites in Paso Robles and southern Monterey County, this is a well-crafted wine with exceptional broad appeal. Aromas and flavours of blueberry pie, strawberry, bumbleberry, cherry, raspberry, leather and a touch of licorice make for a wonderfully layered, complex wine. This is big, juicy and proud Zinfandel, but it remains soft, round and approachable. A real treat with fruit so ripe that the wine – though dry – has an almost off-dry taste profile. There is just so much to like here, including the price. (Vintages panel, May 2017) Full-bodied & Smooth

MASSERIE PISARI PRIMITIVO 2014 IGT Salento Rosso (Italy)

270306    $13.95  TASTING NOTE: The grapes of Puglia enjoy plentiful sunshine and cooling ocean breezes that help promote the region’s notably fruity, structured, robust wines. This 2014 Primitivo has a wealth of bright strawberry that meshes very nicely with suggestions of herbs, dried fruit, and toast to produce a layered, complex, satisfying wine. (Vintages panel, June 2017) Full-bodied & Smooth

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