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waters on wine

Which alcoholic beverage would you bring to share at a party? Considering the steady stream of lockdowns and social restrictions we’ve faced, it may have been a while since you’ve considered the question. But answers from consumers in the United States produced interesting results for the 2022 Silicon Valley Bank State of the Wine Industry report, which was released last week.

The annual report assesses current conditions in the American wine industry and helps to forecast for the year ahead based on proprietary research and economic and behavioural trends among consumers.

Market research firm Harris Poll found that people aged 65 or older were the only group that overwhelmingly supported wine as something to bring and share. For those in the 35 to 44, 45 to 54 and 55 to 64 brackets, wine and beer were virtually tied for top spot, with spirits, hard seltzers and ready-to-drink selections following behind.

The biggest challenge facing the wine industry is the 21 to 34 cohort, where wine trailed behind beer, spirits, flavoured malt beverages and hard seltzers, such as Mike’s Hard Lemonade and White Claw. This group showed support across all the alcohol categories, with a preference for spirits and craft beers, which have a better value per serving.

Considering their aging fan base, wineries need to do a more effective job marketing and selling its product to consumers. Proven sales strategies from the past aren’t relevant for younger health-conscious, multicultural consumers who increasingly choose spirits, beer, and spiked seltzers over wine.

If you’re looking for wine to bring to a party to share with others or simply enjoy yourself, here are nine selections that made an impression recently.

Albert Bichot Héritage 1831 Bourgogne Pinot Noir 2019 (France), $24.95

Rating:89 /100

A blend of mostly tank and barrel (20 per cent to 30 per cent) aged wines contributes to the appealing ripe and fruity style of this pinot noir from the warm 2019 vintage. Silky texture, nice concentration and intensity of fruit make this a solid expression of pinot and a great value from Burgundy. Drink now to 2024. Available in Ontario.

Castello di Ama Ama Chianti Classico 2019 (Italy), $35.95

Rating:92 /100

Founded in 1970 in Gaiole, near the southern edge of Chianti Classico, Castello di Ama has become one of the most impressive producers in Tuscany. The Ama Chianti Classico label was first released in 2010, when the estate’s traditional red wine was elevated to the new Gran Selezione category. The current release is an elegant and layered red, with vibrant fruit and fragrant earthy and spicy notes. A blend of sangiovese with merlot, this dry wine is refreshing and complex even in its youth. Drink now to 2029. Available in Ontario at the above price, $44.99 in British Columbia, $29.35 in Quebec.

Cellier des Dauphins Cairanne 2018 (France), $19.95

Rating:90 /100

Cairanne is a recently established cru (as of June, 2016) in the southern Rhône. A single village makes up the entire appellation. The hot and dry conditions make predominantly red wine (95 per cent) each year. Made by Cellier des Dauphins, the large co-operative that makes the Prestige and Reserve Côtes du Rhônes wines that have become staples in many Canadian markets, this Signature release is a dry, full-bodied red with easy-drinking appeal. The 2018 vintage offers attractive juicy dark fruit flavours with earthy and floral notes. Drink now to 2026. Available in Ontario.

Clos de Luz Massal 1945 Cabernet Sauvignon 2018 (Chile), $21.95

Rating:90 /100

Clos de Luz is a family-owned winery established in 1945 in the Almahue Valley in Cachapoal. This rich and flavourful red comes from older vineyards from the 750-acre estate, which contribute to its serious structure and intense flavours suggesting dark fruit with cedar and chocolate notes. Drink now to 2028. Available in Ontario.

El Abuelo Organic Tempranillo Monastrell 2020 (Spain), $10.45

Rating:86 /100

This simple and enjoyable dry red comes from Almansa in the Castilla-La Mancha region where Bodegas Piqueras, which makes El Abuelo, is the largest of 12 wineries. Produced from organically grown tempranillo and monastrell (aka mourvèdre), this is a flavourful red with ripe cherry and berry fruit and oak-derived chocolate and smoke notes. Decant for best enjoyment. Drink now to 2024. Available in Ontario.

Feudo Maccari Olli Grillo 2020 (Italy), $15.95

Rating:89 /100

Interest in wines from Sicily continues to surge in Canadian markets, especially for refreshing and flavourful white wines such as this one made from the grillo grape. The mix of zesty lemon and juicy peach fruit is enhanced by fragrant herbal and floral notes. Drink now. Available in Ontario at the above price, $26.49 in British Columbia, various prices in Alberta, $24.95 in Manitoba.

Kitsch Pinot Noir 2020 (Canada), $40

Rating:90 /100

Based in Kelowna, B.C., Kitsch offers an exciting portfolio centred on riesling, chardonnay and pinot noir. The fresh and juicy house style for pinot puts the focus on fruit, with a core of sweet and tart berry and cherry fruit that’s balanced by spice and coffee notes. Drink now to 2028. Available direct through kitschwines.ca.

Red Barn at Jagged Rock Discordian Chardonnay 2020 (Canada), $30

Rating:90 /100

A new estate winery in Anthony von Mandl’s portfolio, Red Barn at Jagged Rock produces its small batch wines from a single vineyard on the Black Sage Bench near Oliver, B.C. This was fermented and aged exclusively in concrete, which contributes to its creamy and appealing texture without detracting from the purity of its wet stone, citrus and green apple character. Inviting and refreshing, this is a terrific chardonnay to enjoy now and over the next three to five years. Drink now to 2026. Available at the above price direct through artisanwineshop.ca.

Penfolds Bin 128 Coonawarra Shiraz 2019 (Australia), $53.99

Rating:92 /100

Penfolds Bin 128 has been produced with shiraz grapes grown in Coonawarra, South Australia since 1962. Aged exclusively in French oak barrels, this offers a pleasing mix of bright fruit and savoury notes. Approachable and with a fragrance that draws you in, this is a lovely expression of Bin 128. Drink 2023 to 2039. Available in British Columbia at the above price, $45 in Alberta, $42.49 in Saskatchewan, $55.99 in Manitoba (2018 vintage), $50 in Ontario (Jan. 27 online release through vintagesshoponline.com), $54.99 in New Brunswick.

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