By: Ted McIntyre
When Clubhouse Manager Walter Moon walked me through their wine cellar earlier this year at King Valley Golf Club in King City, Ontario, it reminded me that you don’t have to go to a five-star restaurant to find a truly noteworthy collection.
King Valley’s cellar houses more than 2,900 bottles and 200 labels in high season, including such sterling offerings as Penfold’s Grange, Napa Valley’s Joseph Phelps Insignia, Caymus and Beringer’s Private Selection, as well as large format bottles including a 1.5L Brovia Ca’ Mia Barolo—the latter a part of a strong Italian selection.
“We had three 2012 Caymus Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 40th anniversary editions, but one member ordered two of the them for his birthday celebration (at $650 apiece),” notes Moon, who also sold his 2003 Penfold Grange last year (you can still grab the ’04 for $875).
The showpiece is likely their Louis XIII Remy Martin, which is dispensed in $150-an-ounce portions. The bottle itself is worth about $2,500—“$800 empty, thanks to its hand-blown crystal,” Moon observes.
King Valley is also Bring-Your-Own-Wine-endorsed (with a $25 corkage fee per bottle), “since we have members who actually have bigger cellars than ours and who like to bring their own wines to show them off to other members and guests.”
But as North American golf facilities go, it’s hard to top the cellar at Crystal Springs Golf Resort, in Hamburg, New Jersey. Yes, the resort’s six golf courses aren’t bad, including designs from Robert Trent Jones and George Fazio (http://travelinggolfer.net/2016/06/21/crystal-springs-resort-quality-and-variety-of-golf-is-unmatched-in-the-region/), but the options for your post-round toast are positively mind-blowing.
Former resort owner Gene Mulvihill fancied himself a bit of an oenephile and helped assemble one of the world’s finest wine collections. How impressive is the place? They actually conduct a guided tour each afternoon of their Wine Spectator Grand Award-winning Wine Cellar at Restaurant Latour, which features a startling 6,000 labels and 75,000 bottles.
Fifty years in the making, the cellar features two opulently appointed dining and tasting rooms. Its contents include all the best vintages (1959, 1961, 1982, 1990, 1995, 2000, 2005, 2009, 2010 and more) of the great chateaux of Bordeaux and Burgundy. There are amazing vertical selections of Cheval Blanc, Ausone, Haut Brion, Lafite, Margaux, Mouton and others.
Burgundy also figures prominently, including verticals of the famed Domaine de la Romanee-Conti, consistently one of the world’s most expensive wines.
There are also highly sought-after California wines, and Italy is also well represented with multiple vintages of Bruno Giacosa, Roberto Voerzio, Paolo Scavino and other Barolo producers. There’s also an extensive selection of Super-Tuscans.
If you want something particularly special, though, try the 1947 Pétrus for $33,375 US. But if you’re inviting me, may I suggest the magnum of 1900 Chateau Latour Pauillac for $57,600 US.
You can contact the Traveling Golfer for my coordinates.
For a handful of somewhat more affordable options, see this month’s reviews below.
|Antano Reserva Rioja 2012 – Rioja, Spain ($17.15) – There’s a lovely subtle eucalyptus layer that rests upon a concentrated, leathery and velvety smooth Tempranillo blend. Very nice structure but a little loose on the finish and a bit more fruit would be welcomed. Overall, though, a very good value. 89|
|Chapoutier Les Vignes de Bila-Haut 2015 – Roussillon, France ($15.95) – Exceptional value here in this blend of Grenache (50%), Syrah (40%) and Carignan (10%). Aging in concrete tanks and stainless steel has helped maintain a rich, concentrated, earthy and stony fruit, with the Syrah mostly responsible for the rich nose of sour cherry, strawberry and blackberry. It paired great with lamb souvlaki. There are ratings up to 93 out there, but I’m comfy with a 91.|
|Collingwood Toasted Maplewood Finished Whisky – Collingwood, Ontario ($32-$34.95) From Canada’s longest continuously owned and operated distillery—pretty sure they’re talking about the actual building in Collingwood—comes this artisanal corn/rye/barley 40% alc. blend. (Okay, it’s actually owned by American distilling giant Brown-Forman and bottled in Kentucky, but it’s made in Ontario!) After maturing in their own handmade white oak barrels and distilled using pristine Georgian Bay water, a cluster of maple staves is added to the batch—something unique for Canadian whisky. The result is a nose of honey maple graham crackers, caramel, butterscotch and fresh rose petals. I swear there’s some Granny Smith apple in there too. On the palate, it’s soft and creamy with dark maple syrup, toffee, vanilla and a bit of barley, finishing nice and warm. I love the big flask-shaped bottle too, which probably pays homage to bootlegger bottles of the past, as well as the grommet in the neck, which assures easy, spill-free pouring. Serve it neat, or try a “Collingwood Sour” with 1.5 oz. of Collingwood whisky, 1.5 oz. of simple syrup and 2 oz. of lemon juice. Mix it all together in a shaker filled with ice and pour into an ice-filled glass. 87|
|Dixon’s Gin Fusion – Guelph, Ontario ($2.85 per 473 ml can) As it says right on the can, this is “a crisp blend of ginger, cucumber, mint and lime,” and it’s all there with a noticeable punch of 5% alcohol, thanks to the backing of Dixon’s VirGIN gin. There’s enough zing and a sufficient lack of sweetness and weight that I can imagine this being a pretty popular summer deck sipper, particularly for those who shy away from sweet, fruity coolers.|
|Rocca Delle Macie Moonlite 2015 – Tuscany, Italy ($17.95-$18.95) (Consignment only) – A restaurant-only wine (unless you can make a connection with Canadian agent Profile Wine Group), this well-priced blend of Chardonnay (40%), Vermentino (40%) and Pinot Grigio (20%) was a hit at a Rocca Delle Macie tasting in Toronto earlier this month. It deftly straddles the line of acidity, fruit and freshness, without leaning too far in any direction, and has picked up some added character and minerality from its native soils. There’s a distinct aroma of white flowers, with lemongrass, pineapple and a hint of green apple in the glass. Pair it with light appetizers or on its own this summer. 90|
|Rocca Delle Macie di Fizzano Chianti Classico Gran Selezione 2013 – Tuscany, Italy ($33.95) – Stony soils have elevated the aromatics of this predominantly Sangiovese (95%) creation, with 5% Merlot mixed in to help add to its exquisite structure. Aged two years in French oak with an additional year in the bottle before release, this great wine opens with rich fruit, including black cherry, dried cherry and red currant, as well as clove and lively tannins, leading to a lengthy, smooth finish. 92|
|JP Azeitao Syrah Rosé Bacalhoa 2016 – Portugal ($8.95) – Portugal is famous for delivering quality wine at price points Canadian producers can’t possibly compete with for a variety of reasons. Among those wines is this dry, pale pink rosé. A nose of fragrant wildflowers and hints of strawberry are accompanied by a refreshing but restrained acidity. Try it as an aperatif or with a pre-dinner salad. 87|
|Honsberger 2016 Rosé – Lincoln, Ontario ($21.95) (Winery only) – Rosé can sometimes be a throwaway wine for many producers—concocted from leftover red grape varietals. But this one has been as tenderly nurtured as a hothouse orchid. It might well be the most expensive rosé to make in Ontario and should probably retail around $35, given the time and resources required, including the handpicking and thinning of the vines reserved for this wine. Released Mother’s Day weekend of this year, it’s derived from Cabernet Franc grapes (Honsberger only grows Riesling and Cab Franc) and is as elegant as Audrey Hepburn, boasting terrific notes of raspberry, cherry and strawberry. Don’t be fooled by its pale shade of pink, says winemaker Kelly Mason. “I was really focused on making a very dry, Provence-style rosé. I don’t care so much about the colour; it’s more about the aromatics.” And the taste! Enjoy this as a summer aperitif or pair it with any charcuterie board that has brie, camembert, gouda or aged cheddar, and prosciutto, salami, capicollo, beets and asparagus. 91|
|Honsberger 2015 Cabernet Franc – Lincoln, Ontario ($26.95) (Winery only) – Although it has only been about two months since bottling, this is already a pretty sophisticated creation that is packed with rich, dense fruit, including cherry and tart cherry, as well as tobacco and a little mocha. Wild fermentation adds further character. That process requires more time, but Honsberger has always shown plenty of patience before releasing anything. Great structure and no rough edges to this one, despite its youth. Another six months of bottle aging should really make it sing. Pair it with red BBQ meats, such as steak, burgers, stews, pulled pork and smoked meats. 90|