Wednesday, June 22, 2011

June 25th Vintages release – Some terrific bargains and one or two bigger buck highlights.

School is out and as if on cue the LCBO makes at least two bargain priced (for them) high quality wines available for summer quaffing. Whether you’re at the cottage, around the pool, or just when the kids become too much these wines’ll provide inexpensive ‘go to’ enjoyment. The best of these cheap and cheerful wines are sophisticated, somewhat complex, and only $15.  Even better, it appears the LCBO has purchased  the wines in industrial quantities so there’ll be no shortage of them for quite some time. You might consider case lots anyway though!
I had been looking forward to the Argentina focus in this release but it is a bit of a disappointment. Completely overshadowed  by  the quality bargains in the  balance of the release, it seems to be  a rehash of almost ‘general list’  type wines. The wines presented from Argentina are all good wines  but  when the LCBO puts a region in focus, they should be striving to present  good,  better,  and  best.  And they should strive to present  regional greatness, not just more of the same. Oh, and price them competitively with the best of the pricing that is available less than an hour away.  From the LCBO HQ -  take the Gardner/QEW combo, drive west, then  south, then east, across the bridge over the Niagara river if you need to find pricing samples.  Is this asking too much? Rhetorical, I know.
In this release there is also a July 1st Canada Day focus. Nationalists might find pleasure in one of two Ontario white wines:  the Gretzky Sauvignon Blanc from Niagara or the Huff chardonnay from the cool climate PEC.

The Best for the Least 
Perrin Vinsobres Les Cornuds 2009– $15. A high quality Cotes du Rhone Villages from the excellent 2009 vintage, this wine is a blend of Syrah and Grenache and annually rates around 90 points from all the reviewers. The 2009 vintage should be that good or better and provide drinking enjoyment for a few years. The hard part will be letting it age that long.  Unlike my next recommended wine you can serve this with anything from grilled lamb chops to roasted or  rotissereed chicken. A food match  here if you have a Starsky’s nearby. Stop in for their vacuum packed sun dried tomato and basil flattened chicken. Amazingly good on the ‘Q and I think it’ll pair nicely with this wine.
Marquis Phillips Shiraz 2008 – This time from Oz, another $15 beauty for those who like to get their new world fruit via viscose, teeth staining, palate coating,  almost black, purple  fluids. Great around the BBQ, it’ll stand up to anything grilled, spicey  and smoky but is also an easy quaffer.  Quaffers  beware though. This is a 16% alchoholic exocet.  Is that a hole in your hull or have you had too many glasses of this wine?  Ahhh, it’s  an Argentina theme this week so  what would these  wine reviews be without at least one Falklands war reference – even if the wine in question  isn’t Argentinian? 
Mulderbosch Rose – A Cab Sauv rose for $12.95. Annually, one of my favourite roses.  Great on a sunny deck with seafood antipasto, grilled shrimp, chicken satays, soft cheeses or just by itself. Serve nicely chilled and buy lots.
Gladiator Primitivo – Cousin (uncle?  grandfather?) to zinfandel, this is annually a very good primitivo and available for a not too bad price of  $15.95. Another wine to be enjoyed in the presence of charred meat  or while fighting Goths, or both.
2007 Cotes Du Rhone Visan Garde des Lions – From the terrific 2007 Vintage, this just sneaks in under $15 but should be right in its drinking window now.
A Spanish equivalent from  TORRES,  GRAN SANGRE DE TORO RESERVA 2007 at $ 15.95 should be a not bad Spanish take on a Southern Rhone blend
2007 MALBEC CARLA CHIARO $14.95 – Ready to drink and a buy at under $15.
Ben Marco Cabernet Sauvignon and the Zuccardi Q are OK. The Ben Marco might be the better buy at $16.95
Altocedro’s Tempranillo will be a good choice for something a little different.  Might provide an opportunity for a new world vs old world tempranillo throwdown $16.95
Cheap Whites?
Alamos Chardonnay at 13.95
SOLAR DAS BOUÇAS LOUREIRO VINHO VERDE – if you’re looking for something white,  light and refreshing, with just a hint o’ frizzante, try this vinho verde from Portugal. $13.95
So there they are, 11 wines all under $17.
The Big Buck Wines
There aren’t many that stood out but there is a pair of Italians that caught my eye.
The Viticcio Chianti Classico reserva 2007 is my first choice. The ’06 was super, and the ’07 should be even better. Worth picking some up and leaving them for a while in a cool dark place. Open with some friends who’ll appreciate them.
Strap on your helmet if you’re going after the POGGIO SCALETTE IL CARBONAIONE 2007. It appears to be almost 10 bucks less than the ’06 for perhaps a slightly better vintage. Even at almost 60 bucks the 97 points will have the door crashers out to load up.  I’d let them battle for it and grab a few of the Chianti above instead.

If you like OLD…
MONTIVERDI VIGNETO CIPRESSONE CHIANTI CLASSICO 1998 $ 24.95 – If you want to see how some of the ’06 or ’07 Chianti Classicos will age, the LCBO has a ’98 available in this release for under $25. Nice for those who like some maturity in your wines.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Veneto and Dad's day are nothing special - the June 11 Vintages release

Let's start with special thanks to Rick from Ottawa and Laura from Guelph for their comments on the Dandelion Shiraz. Don't be shy, folks, feel free to add your 2 cents worth!

This week’s focus is on another of the big 3 Italian regions. This time around it’s Veneto, home of Amarones and Valpolicellas among others but I didn’t see much to enthuse me. As well, there  appears to be almost an afterthought entry for Father’s day. For that, there are some big buck selections that are just too much for this time of year.
Summer is here and I find myself really busy so for the next little while you’ll find me cutting back on my entries and just highlighting the wines I’m considering.  My first choices are:
Gigondas La Cave L’intense Gigondas 2007 – From a renowned year in the Southern  Rhone at $26.95 I’ll be picking up a few of these.
Castello De Gabbiano Chianti Classico Reserva 2007 – $22.95 Also great vintage in Chianti, this one can be enjoyed now or be good for a short lay down.
Pascuale Pelissero Bricco San Giuliano Barbaresco 2007 – Should be an excellent wine especially with food. Decant this one and let it breathe for a time. $27.95
Now lets move on to an under $20 Shirazfest. Ok so maybe it’s a syrahfest too but it’s a fest….
For me, the first choice in the fest will be the Thelema Shiraz 2006 – For a buck or two more than the following pair of Aussie Shiraz, spring for this South African beauty! It should be big and bold – a superb wine at this price point. $19.95.
A pair of entry level shiraz from two great Aussie  producers,  Elderton and Barossa Valley Estates. Both are within a buck of one another and both very good for the price. Elderton Friends and BVE E minor shiraz should be great BBQ wines for casual get togethers  and BBQs.
Jean Claude Fromont Le Comte de Parme Crozes Hermitage 2009. A really well priced syrah from another great vintage in the Rhone. $16.95
Last entry in the ‘fest is the Falernia Reserva Syrah 2007 from the Elqui Valley in Chile. 90 points from Jay Miller and only $15.95, this should not disappoint. I’m not familiar with the producer, nor the region, so it slips down in my ratings.
The near misses:
Catena Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 from Argentina. Terrific producer, good solid wine. Are you grilling something red?  You’ll never be disappointed with this one. $19.95
Vitalonga Terra di Confine 2006  $22.95 Might be the sleeper of the release, especially if you are a Vino Nobile de Montepulciano fan.
 Castiglion Del Bosco Rosso di Montalcino 2006 – At $19.95, this should be a very nice on its own but even better with food.
Bodegas Hermanos Laredo Senorio de Laredo gran reserva 1998. Yes, 1998 and  $25.95. For you fans of older wines who can’t wait for your own stash to age.
Last but not least, if you are looking for something really special for your wine cellar, there is an ISD that could be the ticket. A 3000 ml (4 normal bottles) of the 2006 Barone Ricasoli Castello di Brolio Chianti Classico for $247.95. This wine was #5 on the WS TOP 100 of 2009 and is a terrific wine that’ll age gracefully until that special big event.  Very few bottles of it are available though!