Thursday, May 27, 2010

The May 29th Vintages release - Smokin' Argentinians, and an "I was wrong" this time!

OK, so last review I was wrong about this LCBO Vintages Glabal Focus. The Argentinian focus brings us some previously unshared beauties as well as a few old favourites. Price wise, some good under $20 wines, each of which call out for something red on a hot grill. The mainly Malbecs that are available then stretch up to the mid to upper $30’s for a couple of intriguing cellar worthy brutes that will require all your composure not to open early to taste.
Ignore the Loire unless you're a white wine fan and head for Italy and OZ for the other picks. This is a pretty good release!
My picks are a dead heat among the first 5 Argentinians below and the Frescobaldi TENUTA DI CASTIGLIONI, the Zilzie Shiraz and the Yalumba Cigar. Your choices should be driven by cellaring capabilities and your bank book. Whatever the choice, you can't go wrong!
If and it is a big if, you are lucky enough to find some TRE, then all recommendations are off - just buy it.

LUIGI BOSCA RESERVA MALBEC 2007 Dark, with a core of plum, melted fig and iron covered by dark cocoa and espresso. A flash of minerality peeks in on the long, rich finish. Drink now through 2011. A WS Smart Buy and one of my favourite malbecs, especially for the price. Score: 90 (James Molesworth) $17.95

ACHAVAL FERRER MALBEC 2008 Bottled without fining or filtration so Decant gently due to the lack of filtration. A massive dense wine, finishes long and cries for red meat! …. Score: 91 (Jay Miller) $23.95

CALATHUS ROBLE MALBEC 2007 Uco Valley, Mendoza(Finca Don Carlos) Winner of a Gold Medal at the Concours Mondial de Bruxelles 2009. Another complex wine that, given time, will evolve in your decanter. Score: 91 (Jay Miller,) $19.95

LUCA MALBEC 2008 Uco Valley, Mendoza They just keep getting bigger and more complex! This bad boy needs a year in a dark place and then open well in advance of grilling some rib eyes. Score: 93 (Jay Miller) $31.95

FLECHAS DE LOS ANDES GRAN CORTE 2006 Mendoza A blend, so more dimensions and underflavours (Malbec, Merlot and Syrah) ... spent 17 months in new French oak. It is opaque, leggy and very aromatic with scents that come and go as it opens. Think ‘Ode to Lorraine’ with magnificent Malbec fruit replacing the Cabernet. Demands cellaring or decant really early and fight off the temptation to try it! Or don’t fight and just succumb…According to JM, best from 2015 to 2030. Score: 94 (Jay Miller) $38.95

The "What wine should I bring to a bar brawl?" recommendation -
Finca El Origen Gran Reserva Malbec 2008 Uco Valley, Mendoza $19.95 – I don’t often recommend a wine for its bottle but if you like to work out while pouring your wines, go for this puppy. To paraphrase and plagiarize Monte Python, It is another good fighting wine, the bottle of which is particularly heavy and should be used only for hand-to-hand combat.

And just so you can compare an old world Malbec to the Argentinians, try the 2006 Mas del Perie Tradition Malbec Cahors - $18.95 : Scored 91 but may not be the fruit bomb that the South Americans deliver.

YALUMBA MENZIES THE CIGAR CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2006 Coonawarra, S A .. aromas of ripe dark fruit and smoke This velvety smooth, full-bodied Cabernet Sauvignon is richly flavoured with plum, blackberry and spice. The winemaker suggests pairing it with roast duck with all the trimmings. $24.95

ZILZIE SHIRAZ 2008 Barossa, South Australia, Regional Collection The Sydney International Wine Competition judges wines on their own and with a specific dish. The dish was Stuffed Eye Fillet of Beef on Carrot Puree with Broad Beans. Excellent value! A beautiful wine. Hints of pepper. Bright fresh berries with subtle oak and a real lovely hint of spice. Maybe a touch of Viognier. A cool climate Shiraz. A very pretty style with elegance and balance. Score: Blue Gold (Steve Flamstead) $17.95

BACKSBERG PUMPHOUSE SHIRAZ 2006 WO Paarl TASTING NOTE: Sleek and racy, with mouthwatering
acidity keeping the red currant, fig and raspberry ganache flavors lively, while graphite and fruitcake hints flitter through the fleshy finish. Drink now through 2010. Score: 90 (James Molesworth)$21.95

LA BRANCAIA TRE 2007 IGT Toscana This wine was #10 in Wine Spectator’s Top 100 Wines of 2009 so best of luck finding a bottle. Get out early and ask often! Fullbodied, with velvety tannins and a long, softtextured finish that shows loads of fruit. Sangiovese, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. Best after 2010. Score: 93 (James Suckling,) $25.95

MARCHESI DE’ FRESCOBALDI TENUTA DI CASTIGLIONI 2007 IGT Toscana TASTING NOTE: Superb Wine – load up on this one. It’s ready to drink with a little breathing and it’ll age like me! Intense aromas of currant, raisin and licorice, with hints of toasty oak. Full-bodied, with velvety tannins and a powerful currant, blackberry and mineral aftertaste. Dense, and all in reserve. Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Sangiovese. Best after 2013. Score: 93 (James Suckling) $21.95

MARCHESI DE’ FRESCOBALDI CASTELLO DI POMINO 2006 DOC Pomino Rosso Harmonious and refined. Think Burgundy. Pinot Nero, Sangiovese and Merlot. Best from 2010 through 2015. Score: 90 (James Suckling,) $19.95

Terra d'Aligi Tatone Montepulciano d'Abruzzo 2006 - $15.95 : A gold medal winner, for $15.95 you cannot go wrong.
PICCINI CHIANTI CLASSICO RISERVA 2006 The 2006 vintage ranks as one of the finest in Tuscany. Good balance and ripe red fruit aromas and flavours are to be found in this Chianti. Pair this lively, versatile red with everything from tomato-sauce-based pasta recipes to dishes featuring fish, chicken and pork. $19.95

VOLPAIA CHIANTI CLASSICO 2007 DOCG (Giovannella Stianti) TASTING NOTE: The 2007 Chianti Classico is a pretty, well-balanced wine. In this vintage the wine has a level of richness that is sometimes missing. I like the wines of this producer, but there is so much to choose from in this release! Score: 88 (Antonio Galloni,) $22.95

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

May 15th Vintages release - Not much in this one...overpriced Burgundians, two great (but expensive) Italians and one lonely bargain from Spain

I've decided to become very selective about my recommendations this week for a number of reasons. More and more I find the LCBO's Vintages Global Focal Points gives them an opportunity to foist overpriced and underqualitied and underqualified wines off on the Ontario consumer. This time it's Pinot Noirs from Burgundy -oooo, pretty cover... (Oui mais Monsier BP, c'est le terroir!). It ain't the terroir, it's watery, insipid, weak wine that needs food to be drinkable. The heartbreak grape indeed. The real heartbreak is what the consumer feels when they have their first taste!

California Chardonnays? Yawn. What, did they have a bunch in the warehouse?

As for the Rose wines stick with the Ros-eh wines from Niagara - the Featherstone and the Fielding and the Ladybug should all be good.

Next release, if it's anything like the recent Chilean release, BP gets disappointed by Argentina but I'm sure someone had a nice trip to take pretty piccies!

On to the Picks:
Either of the Suzanna Balbo creations from Argentina will be very good value for you.

2004 Castelgiocondo Brunello - a rerelease from Frescobaldi this is a spectacular wine from a very good vintage but it's also $49.95. If you can afford to leave it for a few years, do so. Otherwise, decant in the morning to drink with an evening meal - and visit it throughout the day to taste the evolution. There night be some left for supper but I doubt it.
2005 Barolo Serralunga $27.95 - An OK vintage and a spectacular price for a Barolo, especially one worthy of 90 points. This'll be gone fast. Dare I say it? Think Italian Pinot Noir.
MANGA DEL BRUJO 2007 - $15.95 – Think of an inexpensive Spanish Chateauneuf du Pape – 'the Wizard's Sleeve' should be a smoking buy based on last year’s vintage. The traditional Rhone blend plus a bit of Tempranillo thrown in to the mix. Let it breathe to soften a bit.
For something different let's try a Portugese white, the Vinho Verde from Muralhas de Moncao for $13.95. Could be a terrific summer sipper with snacks on the deck or by the pool and yes it does have a bit of fizziness on the tongue.