Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Vintages July 23rd release - A tour of Italy, some Chards, and a few goodies too!

As an Italian Grape Primer, this week’s release works pretty well but once past the 2 bottles a page ‘features’ this release strikes me as a new world vs old world shiraz/syrah fest! But more on that later, let’s start with the Italians. I think this overview of the more popular grapes in the Italian wine industry has been well done. As for the wines, nice variety, no blockbusters but no bank breakers either. There are some tasty options available around the $20 mark.

Terredora Loggia della Serra Greco di Tufo 2009 at $17.95 – want to try something new in whites? This might do it for you.

Tedeschi Capitel San Rocco Ripasso Valpolicella Superiore 2008 – one of the wines of the month, imagine a bargain priced almost-Amarone at $18.95

VESEVO BENEVENTANO AGLIANICO 2008 – usually black fruit and licorice notes, at $14.95 should be good.


FRANCO MOLINO BAROLO 2006 $29.95 – a real bargain for a Barolo – under $30 – but lay it down.

Also included this week is a cool climate chardonnay feature – best buys from it for me are the Inniskillen 3 Vineyards and the Ataraxia from South Africa.

Now on to the Shiraz/Syrah and blend fest:

This week’s release marks the return to the LCBO of last year’s wildly popular “The Formula” made by Australia’s Small Gully. Better still, No conspiracy theories this week! What you’ll get with the July 23rd release of The Formula Robert’s Shiraz 2006 may not be exactly what you got from the releases last February and August but it should be good. This is a new vintage (2006) and it’ll cost you a dollar more than last year’s effort if I recall correctly. Nonetheless it should be a smoking wine for casual gatherings around the ‘Q, the cottage, the backyard or the pool.

Equally enticing from OZ and a dollar less is the Wakefield Shiraz 2008 at $17.95.

Nk’Mip 2007 Syrah – Inca Meep is how I pronounce it…might be right, might not. A native Canadian winery that began as a joint venture between Canadian wine visionary Don Triggs and the local Indian band. Their ’07 Shiraz is a little overpriced at $31.95 but should be a beaut to compare to an ’07 Ontario version at an equivalent price. I’m betting on this BC one.

Tabali reserve Syrah 2008 from the Limari valley in Chile. At $19.95 this’ll stand up to the either of the Aussies above.

MAS DE LA DEVÈZE LA 66 2007 – From a terrific vintage in the Languedoc at $19.95. One more 6 and this would be a devil of a wine.

CHÂTEAU PUECH-HAUT PRESTIGE SAINT-DRÉZÉRY 2009 – 93 points from The Parker himself and $26.95? Expect OZ-doc or maybe the LangueVale. Big and fruity! This  score may also elicit a rush to buy it.

DELAS FRÈRES LES REINAGES GIGONDAS 2007 – A gigondas? What a surprise! I love this area more and more and the Brothers Delas are well known for their quality wines. Not cheap at $29.95 but a better buy than the Chateauneuf du Pape in this release.

CHÀTEAU DE NAGES JT COSTIÉRES DE NÎMES 2007 –A little expensive at $20.95 - The JT is Joseph Torres, the wine is 100% Syrah. Finely ground, densely pressed, well herbed lamb sausages on the bar-b-q while overlooking the bay. You know whose sausages, you know which bay, you know whose deck  and you know who you are…Heaven!


DOMAINE DE LA VIEILLE FERME DE L'EOURNE RASTEAU 2009 - $17.95 – Another of the named villages from the Cotes du Rhone Villages, Rasteau is usually fruit forward and eminently drinkable. I expect this one will be ready now, or can lay down for a year or three. But why wait?

Two Bargains

There are a couple of bargains that don’t fit the earlier categories.

Prelius Cab Sauv 2008 from Castello di Volpaia. At $17.95  The notes indicate it may not taste like a cab, just very good!

Alta Vista Premium Estate Malbec 2008 at $13.95. Is this a 90 point wine? I don’t think so but it’s very,very good and shows the Canadian wine industry exactly what they are up against in price, fruit and flavor profiles.

Big Bucks?

Yacochuya 2005 – at $50 bucks it’s a big amount to pay for an Argentinian Malbec but the best of them can hold their own with any wine from anywhere. Decant it carefully and let it breathe if you must try it but there is no rush to open. This effort from Michel Rolland might be the best of the big buckers but let’s temper Dr. J’s 95 points with 91 from Int’l Wine Cellar!

Balnaves Shiraz 2008 – at $34.95 it might not be fair to include it here but compared to the Aussies above it’s up there $-wise. Expect more mint notes than your normal big Aussie Shiraz.

The Brunello – Il Marroneto 2005 - $49.95, not cheap but ….

2 Napa Cabs - Mount Eden at $49.95 or Silver oak at $112.95 – nah, forget about it!

The Chateauneuf du Pape Domaine de la Presidente Nonciature 2007 - $44.95

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

The July 9th Vintages Release – A few good buys but mostly overrated and overpriced 90 pointers.

The July 9th Vintages Release has a few good buys but mostly overrated and overpriced 90 pointers. For fans of fizz, there are a couple of tasty options for you without breaking the bank on Champagne.
What am I buying? I’m not blown away by the release. I might buy a few LANs (so good with food), and no more than singles of a Schild,  a  Cicchitti and a Tenuta di Ghizzano if I can find one.
Cicchitti Gran Reserva 2004 – Tannins should be very soft in this 7 year old for $21.95. I’ve held off buying Malbecs lately so I might have a small hole to fill. Lamb Chops? Steaks? Mmmm.
LaMadrid Cab Sauv 2007 – At $16.95 this should also very nicely accompany something grilled and bleeding.
Schild Shiraz 2007 – Although the 2007 Schild Shiraz ranked number 43 in the WS top 100 of 2009 it is OVERPRICED at $27.95. This should be $20 to $22. Also, you may recall the questionable winemaking ethics that Schild displayed last year. Schild management was  caught with their pants down making a ‘No one will catch us, let’s profit while we can!’ rerun of their 2008 vintage with afterthought bought, non estate fruit once their original 2008 vintage became a 2010 WS Top 10 wine.  The fact that the 2007 vintage of a Top 100 wine is still available concerns me that this may be another of the same sneaky doings only done a year earlier before anyone was aware.  I have a bottle of the ’07 at home that I purchased a year or two ago in BC (at about the same price – hello LCBO!) so I’ll be checking lot numbers and doing a head to head with one from this release. Let’s see if my somewhat crude palate can detect a difference and of course let’s see if the LCBO got taken again (see my opinion of the Dandelion Shiraz a few weeks back). Watch this space for the results. Oh and I will only be buying one. Another Schild note, Wine Spectator did an Aussie Wine review recently and refused to include Schild’s 2008 Estate Shiraz in their ‘Top Aussie wines’ in spite of it making the Top 10 of their Top 100 last year.  The quality issues with the second batch of ‘08s are apparently just too big to overlook. So buyer  beware with this ’07 and especially buyer beware if the ’08 makes an LCBO appearance in the future!!! It might be very good, but then again  it might be drek.  It amazes me that a company could, would and did jeopardize their reputation for such short term, limited profits.
The Rhone
Domaine Des Bosquets Gigondas 2007 – At $31.95, this is considerably more expensive than other recent LCBO releases of wines from Gigondas but might be worth buying one. I would describe this as a better buy than the Chateau Neuf du Pape in the release.
Domaine Duseigneur  Antarès Lirac 2007 Lirac is another of the named villages in the Cotes du Rhone Villages, so it’s a step or two up in quality. At $19.95 this 2007 vintage wine should be ready to drink and for you fans of the environment, it’s organic. 
Viticcio Bere 2007 – A super Tuscan at $17.95? And 90 points? What’s the catch?
Tenuta di Ghizzano 2007 - $29.95 – 94 points from the usually stingy Antonio Galloni for under 30 bucks. Hard to argue but get there early for it! This wine’ll probably be lucky to make it to the shelves. 
Paolo Leo Salice Salentino Reserva 2006 comes in at only $14.95 for a Decanter  gold medal winner. Again, it’s very hard to argue!
Arrocal 2008 - $16.95 for a nice young tempranillo. This wine could use a bit of time to come together but then should be quite nice.
 Bodega LAN Reserva 2005 – LAN is a terrific producer of quality Spanish wines. A great food wine at a good price $19.95.
Atalon 2004 From Napa should be a very nice sample of what a Napa cab should be. Except, look at the prices from around the world and look at the Napa Cab price - $36.95? Too much.
Avoid the true Champagnes and save your money. I’d go with one of the following:
Roederer Sparkling Brut from California at $28.95  or the even better priced and slightly pink hued  Louis Bouillot Cremant De Bougogne  for $18.95.
Three under Thirteen
Pléyades Reserva 2005 – At  $12.95 this might be the bargain sleeper red of the release.
Vina Aljibes Syrah rosé 2010 – Tapas on a summer deck? Good call!
Cesari Bardolino Chiaretto Classico rosé 2010 – should be a tasty rosé to serve with a nice seafood antipasto.