Monday, March 14, 2011

2006 Niagara Peninsula


2006 Alvento Aria, VQA Niagara Peninsula

It's been a while, this piece has been sitting as a draft for a few days. I'm becoming increasingly worried about the situation in Japan, and while my aunt assures us that they are ok, Naoto Kan's government is hardly inspiring confidence. Absolute incompetence, just a roomful of inept bureaucrats.

I picked this wine out of the sale bin. Vintages locations occasionally mark down a few bottles they desperately need to get rid of . . . usually not by much. Sales from the LCBO are hard to come by, like squeezing water out of a rock. But a very interesting proposition. A 100% nebbiolo wine from Niagara, and very courageous of Alvento to work on a grape that is virtually unheard of outside Italy. But do they succeed? Depends on your definition of success, as always. Is it just to make a good tasting wine, or is it to make an authentic, Niagara wine?

An interesting wine in any case. Very pale red in colour, almost turning slightly tawny on the rim. What I don't understand is the synthetic corks the producer chooses to close their bottles with. Somewhat counterintuitive to their ethos that they don't bottle wines if the quality isn't there. Bouquet is textbook nebbiolo, rose petals, fungal earth aromas, and sour red berries - quite delicate, flitting even. Palate is very lean, and does lack concentration. And therein lies the great debate about wines coming out of Niagara.

The climate is unequivocally cool climate. The question is whether wines made out of cool-climate vineyards express the authentic character of that varietal more than warmer climates. In many Niagara wines, this nebbiolo being the latest example, I find this to be true. It has all the aromatic components that are instantly recognizable - what it lacks is the intensity of true Barolo. But should this stop producers from attempting to make these wines? They will always be compared to the original, and they will always pale in comparison.

Can Niagara's cool climate ever produce wines of great distinction, not just cheap imitations? And what exactly defines a wine's authenticity?

Oh, and if you're interested in what we ate this with . . . it was beautiful with hotpot. High acid and lean body helps.


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