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anthony gismondi wine picks

When Less is Far More

  • 6 bottles
  • $180

I’m absolutely elated to present another mixed pack of wines chosen by our good friend Anthony Gismondi, of Gismondi On Wine. The focus of Anthony's When Less Is Far More pack is a mutual friend, Alberto Antonini, one of the world’s few savant winemakers. Alberto describes himself as a 'peasant' (admittedly with a PhD) and his true gift is knowing when to get out of the way of vines and wines. He’s intuitive, passionate, atuned, and utterly beloved around the wine world.

Looking at all the past offerings pitched our way, I have concluded that New District customers are spoiled. Clever themes, top wines and fair prices make it difficult for any outsider, like me, to come up with an equally tantalizing offer. But, I think I may have found a theme you will enjoy this month. It’s not about a grape, a place, or even a price. It’s far more interesting; it’s about an Italian magician, consulting winemaker Alberto Antonini.

These days, Antonini’s reputation precedes him. He is the champion of the less is more cause, but, is quick to caution that one needs to know a lot before he or she can do less. No one would argue that great wine is always about site, but terroir without energy, ideas, and vision, is simply a piece of dirt and that is where Antonini enters the picture.

Antonini loves to discover the history of a place, about the people who make it tick and the information they have amassed over generations. He is also genuinely interested in old vineyards and the life of the vines that came before. It’s a vital connection to the past, and what has worked for generations. He talks incessantly about purity, tension and vitality in wine. He shuns new oak, over-extracted ‘dead’ fruit, chemicals and additives of any kind.

Today, the soft-spoken oenologist freely admits it took him many years to unlearn all the things he was taught in wine school—namely that Mother Nature was the enemy that need controlling. His personal mantra made a 360 degree turn years ago. Today he preaches drinkability and simplicity, challenging consumers to forsake the Schwarzenegger wines for those that resemble Michelangelo’s David.

Antonini’s philosophy has found favour around the world, including in our own Okanagan Valley where he works closely with winemaker Matt Dumayne and the team at Okanagan Crush Pad, spearheading a ground breaking bio-dynamic project in Summerland’s Garnet Valley. When he’s not in B.C. or tending his own vines in the heart of Chianti Classico at Poggiotondo, his family estate, Antonini has numerous projects all over the world to keep him sharp: Armenia (Areni); Argentina (Altos las Hormigas, Argento, Familia Zuccardi, Trapiche and more including a new project in Patagonia); Uruguay (Bodega Garzón); Italy (Castello Di Bossi, Renieri and Tassi among more than a dozen others); Portugal (Sogrape); Chile (Vina Leyda, Intriga, William Fèvre, Luis Felipe Edwards and Concha Y Toro); California (Seghesio and Renwood) and Australia (Greenock Farm, Barossa Valley and Greenstone – Heathcote).

With all that as background, we offer a special selection of wines from some of Alberto Antonini’s projects which show off his less is always more philosophy. Each bottle tells a unique story of place and people and time. If you can work those parameters into your wine tasting rituals, you will have found the key to enjoy the soul of every wine.

Cheers from all of us at Gismondi on Wine,

Anthony Gismondi

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Bio Trio

  • 3 bottles
  • $100

This striking trio celebrates a specialised and painstaking kind of farming called Biodynamics. Developed by Rudolf Steiner in the early 19th Century (who is also responsible for the Waldorf education system), biodynamics essentially teaches us to treat vines as the ancients did, following the rhythms of nature and using homeopathic cures, rather than agro-chemicals and pesticides.

Eight preparations variously using quartz, yarrow flowers, chamomile blossoms, stinging nettles, oak bark, dandelion blossoms, or valerian flowers are applied to vines and the all-important compost pile. Some of these treatments are encased in animal parts, then buried or hung in trees for months.

And the dynamizing? The plants, dung or quartz is stirred into water (ideally rainwater) vigorously, changing direction every time a vortex forms. The remedies are then applied in sync with phases of the moon and planets. Yes, it’s complex, but biodynamics is also spreading like wildfire through the wine world. Grape farmers who give it a try see the vines become more resistant to disease, and winemakers find a special balance in the fruit. Biodynamic wines have the lowest levels of added sulphites, and are better for the planet. See for yourself in three wines: an earthy, light-limbed Pinot Noir from Burgundy named Oka for the horse that plows the vineyard; a serious, suave rich red from Chile; and a perfectly poised Riesling from B.C.’s first biodynamically certified vineyard.

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Similkameen Superstars

  • 6 bottles
  • $165

Rugged, individual, pioneering, and wind-battered are words that evoke the remarkable Similkameen Valley. This striking region lies to the west of the southern Okanagan Valley; the Richter Pass connects them, and it’s a truly jaw-dropping drive. A narrow valley with low rainfall, hot summers, cold nights, a whistling daily wind, and mineral-rich soils imprints Similkameen wines a unique identity.

Gorgeously ripened fruit, high-pitched acidity and salty mineral complexity can be found in each of these six superstars. A trio of whites bring you an ultra-dry, limey-stony Riesling, Chasselas with a caress of oak, and streamlined, pristine Chardonnay. Red grapes love the Similkameen’s stony terraces and strong sunshine. You’ll want your biggest glasses for these handsome reds: a peppery and savoury Syrah, a Merlot that melts in the mouth, and a majestic five-grape Bordeaux-styled blend.

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Not Your Dad's Cab...

  • 6 bottles
  • $270

We all love Cabernet Sauvignon. After all, it’s the world’s most planted red wine grape. Cab gives us dark fruit and chocolate flavours, muscular tannins and luscious, full body. Our fresh look at Cabernet Sauvignon takes us to six countries where this grape makes highly distinctive wines.

Bordeaux is the archetype for this grape, and Chateau Tour Saint Bonnet is an earthy Cab-Merlot blend from one of the greatest vintages of all time. Showing complex development, it definitely deserves a prime steak. You’ll be dazzled by the potency and suave texture of Clos des Fous - did you know Chile is nicknamed the Bordeaux of South America? Howard Park’s Miamup Cab is mint chocolate with melting tannins; Crossfork Creek is lush and ripe from all that Yakima Valley sunshine; and Hendry’s supple beauty is from the year Napa was rocked by a powerful earthquake. And Cabernet Sauvignon would not exist without its parent, Cabernet Franc - look for the same blackcurrant fruit and firm structure in Naramata’s Upper Bench Cabernet Franc, plus the added stamp of Okanagan sagebrush fragrance. Start the grill, set out the big-bowled glasses and get your Cab on!

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#RoséAllDay

  • 3 bottles
  • $100

Go to the pink side! Rosé is the biggest global trend in wine, growing by double digits around the world. Why? Because wine lovers everywhere are (finally) realizing that Rosé offers unbeatable refreshment and variety. Unlike the sugary, simple blush wines of yesteryear, modern Rosés combine the crisp and thirst-quenching value of a white, with the grippy structure of a red.

Our Rosé trio offers a world of discovery: a classic dry and minerally Rosé from the South of France featuring old-vine Syrah, Grenache and Cinsault; an outstanding, refined bubbly from Nova Scotia made from the Champagne grapes; and a coveted, micro-production beauty from Sea Star on Pender Island. All three burst with glorious fruit, are dry, ultra-crisp, and just waiting for garden dinners of steamed mussels, crab cakes or spicy pork kebabs.

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I'll Have What She's Having

  • 6 bottles
  • $170

These are the six wines I am pouring alongside dinner at home. Like you I love wine, and find the greatest pleasure in a broad range of flavours and styles. There is a powerfully spicy dry Gewurztraminer from Bartier Bros. that I love to pair with pâté, and a zesty, succulent blend from Clos du Soleil in the rugged Similkameen Valley that's killer with goat's cheese.

The third white in my 6-pack is Le Vieux Pin's Ava, a Rhone-styled blend of Viognier, Roussanne and Marsanne. Full-bodied, fragrant and botanical, it's what I crave with free-range roasted chicken. When it is time for light and juicy red, JoieFarm's PTG - an unusual duo of Gamay and Pinot Noir - will be in my oversized glass; and to pair with crispy duck breast, I'll choose an earthy, gutsy, ripe Pinot Noir from Naramata's Moraine made by a winemaker who, like me, has a black belt. And finally, a grape I think is one of the best fits for the Okanagan, Cabernet Franc. This edition from Nichol is a marvel of herbal sagebrush and dark savoury fruit, made from just 13 rows of vines planted in 1989.

I hope you find these six authentic B.C. wines as refreshing and exciting as I do.

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Pinot Noir

Proper Pinot

  • 6 bottles
  • $200

Pinot Noir is wine's Holy Grail. Both farmers and winemakers often become obsessed with this most noble and venerable grape. From the Burgundy region in France, Pinot Noir is a great fit in the cooler parts of B.C. like Naramata or Vancouver island. Emandare and Unsworth are both Cowichan Valley Pinot Noirs, ethereal yet ripe and juicy.

Meyer and Liquidity from Okanagan Falls offer intense cherry and spice. Tightrope's Naramata version is pure and earthy, while across the lake in Summerland, Tyler Harlton's TH Pinot Noir is suave and woodsy. This curated case spotlights the excellent 2014 vintage where the growing season was steady and warm. Mushroom risotto, baked salmon, or simple grilled lamb sausages will complement with ease.

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Iconic Whites

  • 6 bottles
  • $165

Warm, sunny days call for cool, crisp white wine. Whether it's Dungeness crab season, or time for year-round favourites such as grilled chicken or pork chops, this sextet from the paler end of the spectrum will impress.

From aromatic and crisp to full-bodied and oak-kissed, the Iconic Whites highlight B.C. wine's unique marriage of freshness and ripeness. Serve them up on a hot August night, solve your wedding present dilemma, (we'll take care of the card), or your private Dîner en Blanc. Or, just be prepared for visitors. Patio season is here.

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BC Weekend Double Header | New District

Patio Perfect Pair

  • 2 bottles
  • $40

Relax outdoors with a pair of homegrown crowd-pleasers. Narrative is a laid-back and juicy blend of Syrah and Gamay, while Terravista's peachy small-production Viognier is an aromatic beauty. These sensational values pair well with finger foods, good friends, or simply some downtime in the hammock.

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