For many Canadian wine lovers, Mouton Cadet was a gateway into French wine. One of the first global wine brands, Mouton Cadet was launched in 1930 as a red wine made from components that didn’t make the cut for what was then the second growth Château Mouton-Rothschild. As production grew, grape sourcing expanded beyond the Pauillac appellation, where the chateau is situated, to other regions. The ability to blend across appellations in Bordeaux contributed to Mouton Cadet’s consistent quality and continued to stimulate sales growth.
Mouton Cadet created its white blend in the early 1970s, around the time that Château Mouton-Rothschild was promoted to first growth status after years of lobbying. It joined Château Lafite Rothschild, Château Latour, Château Margaux, and Château Haut-Brion as the top estates decreed by the 1855 Classification. Since then the family-owned property and its associated chateaux and brands have continue to innovate.
Since the 1990s, the Mouton Cadet range has expanded to include a rosé as well as a series of smaller production reserve labels, including red wines from Saint-Emilion and Pauillac and a sweet white from Sauternes. Today, the range is estimated to sell 12 million bottles in 150 countries.
One of those recent additions, Mouton Cadet Héritage 2017, is featured amongst this week’s recommendations. The red wine stands out on store shelves thanks to its throwback label, based on the original 1930 artwork for Mouton Cadet. It also sticks out in the glass due to its classic style. It’s a distinctive dry red, with firm structure and complex flavours that are equal parts savoury and fruity that’s more austere and serious than, say, the upfront and easy-to-appreciate juicy fruit that defines another suggested wine, the Joliesse Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon 2018 from California.
Owned by the Boisset family, which got its start making wine in Burgundy before expanding its operations to other parts of France and around the world, Joliesse’s name was inspired by the French word for grace and loveliness. The Joliesse cabernet is more modern in style and made for mass appeal in style, with increased fruitiness and sweetness on the palate, qualities that most of today’s popular brands seek to embrace. There’s certain to be different audiences for it versus the Mouton Cadet, but it’s nice to compare and contrast the wine styles and see one of the wine world’s original brands stay its course.
Attems Pinot Grigio 2019 (Italy)
Made with pinot grigio grapes grown in Fruili, this enjoyable dry wine is refreshing, nicely balanced and ready to drink. It offers classic stone fruit and citrus flavours with noteworthy flavour intensity and pristine freshness. Drink now to 2022. Available in Ontario at the above price, $19.49 in British Columbia, various prices in Alberta, $18.95 in Quebec, $24.99 in New Brunswick.
Bachelder Wismer-Foxcroft Nord Chardonnay 2018 (Canada)
One of the highlights of the new online release of single vineyard wines from veteran wine maker Thomas Bachelder, the Wismer-Foxcroft Nord selection is produced from vines planted in 1993. This is made in the rich, ripe style that Bachelder is known for, with ripe citrus and buttery notes nicely balanced by vibrant acidity, minerality and a lingering, refreshing finish. Despite the warmth of the vintage, this is classic and age worthy. Drink now to 2028. Available direct through bachelderniagara.com.
Baron Philippe de Rothschild Mouton Cadet Héritage 2017 (France)
Héritage represents a step up in quality from the well-known Mouton Cadet red, which features a revised version of that wine’s original label from 1930. This is a dry and medium-bodied red, with firm structure and savoury intensity from the blending of merlot with 8-per-cent cabernet sauvignon and 7-per-cent cabernet franc. It’s a traditional style that’s best enjoyed with a meal or after a few more years in bottle. Drink now to 2024. Available in Ontario at the above price, $24.99 in British Columbia, various prices in Alberta, $24.95 in Quebec.
Château de Nages Vieilles Vignes Costières de Nîmes 2017 (France)
A blend of old vine and organically certified grenache, syrah and carignan from the Rhône Valley, this classic sweater weather red offers an appealing and intense range of spicy, herbal and fruity flavours. It’s robust and ripe with terrific regional identity. Drink now to 2023. Available in Ontario at the above price, $19.05 in Quebec.
Don Melchor Cabernet Sauvignon Puente Alto Vineyard 2017 (Chile)
The 30th anniversary release of Don Melchor is special. Mostly cabernet sauvignon with a splash of cabernet franc, this is a fresh, fragrant and layered red wine that’s built to last. Subtle savoury notes add interest to the ripe core of cassis and dark fruit flavours of this full-bodied red, which comes highly recommended. The focused nature of the wine suggests more time in bottle – or a long spell in a decanter – is required to show its full personality. Drink 2023 to 2035. Available in Ontario at the above price, part of the LCBO’s Nov. 5 Classics release at vintagesshoponline.com, $149.99 in British Columbia.
Joliesse Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon 2018 (United States)
Made in a crowd-pleasing style, this ripe and fragrant expression of Californian cabernet offers a core of cherry, blueberry and fig flavours accented by floral, vanilla and spice notes. Its sweet fruit character is balanced by smooth tannins and bright acidity. Drink now to 2022. Available in Ontario at the above price, $21.99 in British Columbia, $18.90 in Quebec.
Ruffino Romitorio di Santedame Chianti Classico Gran Selezione 2016 (Italy)
Romitorio di Santedame was first released in 1990 as one of the Ruffino’s wineries bids to craft a SuperTuscan red blend. It has since evolved to be one of the winery’s top-of-the-line Gran Selezione releases, the highest-quality tier for Chianti Classico wines. A blend of sangiovese and colorino from a single vineyard in Castellina, this is a full-bodied and flavourful red marked by black cherry, blackberry and earthy notes. Its style makes it instantly accessible, but it also has the structure and concentration to age. Drink now to 2034. Available in Ontario.
Sacred Hill Pinot Noir Marlborough 2018 (New Zealand)
Founded in 1986, Sacred Hill is located in Hawkes Bay, but also produces wines from a number of estate-owned vineyards in Marlborough. This a vibrantly fruity and refreshing pinot noir with appealing berry and peppery spice notes. Its simple and straightforward style makes it ready to drink now. Drink now to 2022. Available at the above price in Ontario, various prices in Alberta, $21.95 in Quebec.
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