More Outer Limit Wines

In Ontario we are deluged with local wines, California wines, French wines, Italian wines and to a lesser degree certain “flagship” stores carrying wines from countries such as Greece, New Zealand, Portugal, Greece, Israel etc. However occasionally from certain jurisdictions whether they be the former Eastern European Bloc countries, China or even Long Island New York or Arizona and New Mexico we get a dribble of their wines to taste.

To start with we try a Cabernet Sauvignon from Romania notoriously governed by the murderous Nicolae Ceausescu during the old Iron Curtain days. In those days wine from the “Eastern Bloc” was never promoted or advanced from an economic or export basis. A shame because Romania has been making wine far longer than Canada.

Languishing under communist rule for so long it has a catch-up game to play and its price is usually very attractive.

This wine has a black cherry colour. It exudes a gentle aroma of black cherry, raspberry, blackberry, charcoal and vanilla. The tannins are mild and the wine smooth as it chugs down the throat. On the palate some strawberry and cherry. Pleasing but not complex. A short finish we would classify this as a mid weight wine. It might pair well with Goulash. Drink now. The wine was aged a minimum of 6 months in French oak barrels.

(Cervus Magnus Monte, Cabernet Sauvignon 2015 Dealu Mare DOC CMD, Crama Ceptura, Ceptura County, Romania, $14.95, 750 mL, 13%, LCBO # 484741, Square Media Group Rating 85/100).

I have been hearing accolades about Arizonian red wine. If New Mexico can deliver with its sparking Gruet there is no reason Arizona can’t deliver with its wines.

The LCBO has brought in a rare example of a red wine from Arizona. It is called Tank 9 from Ardius Wine Company. A red blend but the label gives no clue as to the blend components.

It has a light black cherry colour. On the nose black cherry, smoke, raspberry and charcoal with a hint of decadent overripe strawberries. My guess is a blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and perhaps a dash of Grenache.

On the palate a bit of unpleasant sweetness rather like candy cane and cotton candy. Reminds me of Apothic Red from California with a sickening amount of residual sugar. However the fact sheet states only 2.3 grams of residual sugar per litre. Neither does the website indicate the blend.

A whopping 15.6 % alcohol.

An acceptable wine but not one I would recommend buying except for an educational perspective.

(Tank 9, 2013 Arizona Red Wine, Aridius Wine Company, Wilcox Arizona, 15.6%, $ 19.95, LCBO # 507509, 750 mL. Square Media Group Rating 85/100).

At best this might match with spicy Mexican food

Every once and awhile there is a Bulgarian wine released by the LCBO. In this case it is a Bulgariana Cabernet Sauvignon from the Thracian Valley.

Black cherry coloured with aromas of black fruit primarily blueberry, blackberry and some cassis. Blueberry is a hallmark of many Cabernet Sauvignons so we are getting a good start here.

Now what about taste? Firm tannins with blueberry pie, black cherry, dark chocolate and rhubarb on the palate. Lacks rich texture but give these folks a few more vintages. They are heading in the right direction.

Great with all manners of burgers particularly a black bean burger if you are skilled with a very difficult burger to get right. I have been trying for several years now and you really need the right herbs and spices and lots of garnish.

(Bulgariana 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon, Thracian Valley, BWI Inc, Bulgaria, $13.95,14%, 750 mL, LCBO # 419390, Square Media Group Rating 87/100).

My goodness a Sauvignon Blanc from Grover in India in collaboration with master blender Michel Rolland. Now this is real Outer Limit wine!

Platinum in colour. Aromas of lemon, peach and mango. There is a nice intensity and concentration of the aromas. On the palate there is as definite lack of acidity you find in most Sauvignon Blancs but that does not mean it is bad! There is some very light grapefruit, peach and guava on the palate. Very pleasing but very simple. This has very little in common with a New Zealand or Canadian Sauvignon Blanc but it is worth a try and its gentleness might be a perfect foil to some spicy Indian food.

(Grover Zampa Art Collection 2015 Sauvignon Blanc, Grover Zampa Vineyards Ltd., Raghunathpura, India, $ 16.95, 750 mL, LCBO # 498329, Square Media Group Rating 89/100).

The wine is from the Nandi Hills at an altitude of 1,500 metres. Grover Zampa is India’s second largest wine producer. By the way India produces some decent single malt Scotch.

To wrap this up let’s go with a Hungarian Furmint.

Platinum coloured. Aromas of pear, peach and apple. Simple if not a bit weak and scattered when the wine is initially opened and poured. I think decanting this will bring out some pineapple, guava and marzipan and an overall more intense aroma.

Very laid-back acidity. Sweetness on the palate. Enough to call this a medium dry wine particularly as it has 23 grams of residual sugar per litre. On the palate there is a certain heaviness despite the lack of any concentrated fruit. Enough of it to say this is a mid weight wine. What there is on the palate is some peach, apricot and mango. Upon aeration its length also increases.

A simplistic pleasing wine and its strange heaviness makes it the ideal match for chicken paprikash which I am told outside of Hungary the best can be found in Cleveland.

Drink this wine now. Although there is a Château in the name of the wine the label says produced by H-0269 and produced by H-3917. Sounds like a négociant wine.

(Château Hellha 2015 Furmint, Tokaji, H-0269, Bodrogkisfalud, Hungary, $15.95, 12%, 750 mL, LCBO # 484923, Square Media Group Rating 89/100).

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About the Author

Robert Stephen (CSW)
Robert K Stephen writes about food and drink, travel, and lifestyle issues. He is one of the few non-national writers to be certified as a wine specialist by the Society of Wine Educators, in Washington, DC. Robert was the first associate member of the Wine Writers’ Circle of Canada. He also holds a Mindfulness Certification from the University of Leiden. Be it Spanish cured meat, dried fruit, BBQ, or recycled bamboo place mats, Robert endeavours to escape the mundane, which is why he loves The Square. His motto is, "Have Story, Will Write." Email Robert Stephen