Friday, September 30, 2011

October 1st Vintages release - a few good buys but no 'I've got to have that!'s

The October1st Vintages release has three subfeatures – Syrah/ Shiraz from around the world, How to start a Cellar, and Thanksgiving simplified. Prices are slowly rising as we head to Christmas but there are still some bargains to be had in this release.
Let’s review them in that order, shall we. Syrah starts with old world, Rhone versions from Guigal, one from the North and one from the south. The North is a Cote Rotie which traditionally  includes a soupcon of Viognier – yes I have my beret on for that bit of phrasing. For those who snicker at the Aussies proudly making this blend, here’s where it originated. Snicker no more. The second is a Crozes Hermitage, not to be confused with the Northern Rhone’s very expensive  Hermitage appellation.  Both are expensive for what you’ll get. If I had to choose between these two, I’d go with the ’07 Crozes Hermitage. OZ is next up with 5 offerings from  $17  thru $90. The best of these for me are the Thorn Clarke Terra Barossa 2009 at $`16.95 and the always impressive Ebenezer from Barossa Valley Estates at $39.95. The Mitolo GAM might be as good but it’s more money. The Elderton Command is an amazing wine too but again, too much money by far! Of all the Syrahs from other countries the Fess Parker The Big Easy Syrah is  the best @$34.95
Following the syrahs, the LCBO offers up  Cellar Choices – ironic when you consider that the LCBO has changed their returns policy so that none of the recommended wines could be returned if faulty, if held until the LCBO suggests you hold them. Of all of these, the Luigi Bosca Single Vineyard Malbec is the best QPR choice and is ready for consumption now with a little decant and a bleeding slab of red meat. If you want to try something different go for the Mollydooker Maitre D’ Cabernet Sauvignon. This is a polarizing winery. You either love their wines or hate them. They are BIG, they are viscous, and they are in your face. Subtle and understated? I don’t think so.
The Thanksgiving choices? Try ‘em if you’d like to. I prefer to simplify this further – it’s a turkey, it's gravy, it's stuffing  - just serve and drink what you like.
The rest of the release? There are some good under $20 wines available.
The Coyote’s Run Pinot Gris 2009 at $17.95 should be nice.
Argentina – along with the Bosca Malbec try:
LaMadrid single Vineyard Cab Sauv at $13.95 should be a very good buy.
Nieto Senetiner Don Nicanor 2008 $16.95 – a nice blend.
Australia – along with those mentioned above:
The Yalumba FDW 7C Chardonnay – at $23.95 this is from a high quality producer and is a subset of their best grapes. Maybe not 95 points good but very good nonetheless.
Hickinbotham Cab Sauv/ Shiraz 2009 at $15.95 is a screaming buy.
South Africa –
The Post House Penny Black 2008 – $19.95 - The kitchen sink blend with Shiraz, Merlot, Cab Sauv, Petit verdot and a wee touch of Chenin Blanc but it’ll be tasty. Apparently this one failed the LCBO lab testing so was not available.
Cave de Roquebrun Roches Noir 2009 - $19.95 – A gold medal winner at Vinalie 2011. Should be very nice.
Royal Tokaji 5 Puttonyos Tokaji Aszu 2006 $19.95 for 250 ml – A WS Top 100 dessert wine – nice to finish off Thanksgiving or perhaps try an ice wine throw down?
A well priced Barolo and a well priced Brunello highlight the Italian section. The Marchesi Di Barolo 2005 at $34.95 is a rerelease I think. The Caparzo Brunello2005 should be a real  buy for Brunello fans at $39.95

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Vintages Sept.17th release - Liberace played rugby, who knew!?

The LCBO looks to be giving all the anal retentive early shoppers a head start at their Christmas gift lists with the spread in this week’s Vintages release. There are lots of $15 to $25 wines to spend on but also a truckload of $40 and up wines that seem more destined to be corporate Christmas gifts than to be the usual weekend drinkers. In this release a trio of focused specials also greet the shopper – to this observer’s palate, most rate a pass as in take a pass, not rating a passing grade. Bordeaux ’08 is described as a sleeper vintage – one glass and you’ll be nodding off. Pinots from France and Oregon? Yawn. New Zealand premium wines? Big bucks, but samples just as good of the same grapes are available for half the price. And speaking of New Zealand,  what was the LCBO thinking and where did they find the hand model to hold that rugby ball for the Rugby World Cup? Those look a lot more like Liberace’s fingers  than say, Jonah Lomu’s!
The good news? This is a better release than the last couple.
Top Red Picks
2009 Alaine Jaume Domaine Grand Veneur Clos de Sixte Lirac - $23.95 – Less expensive than in previous years, this should be a smoking wine for the next 4 or 5. My palate loves the GSM’s and this one is no exception!  Alain Jaume is a terrific, high quality Rhone producer. My pick of the release!
2008 Durigutti Mendoza Malbec - $16.95 - #74 in last year’s Wine Spectator Top 100, good to go now over the next few years. At under $17, throw a steak on and let’s get to it!
2008 Thorn-Clarke Terra Barossa Shiraz / Cabernet / Petit Verdot - $14.95 – Always good value for the price.
2007 Finca Flichman Paisaje de Barrancas Shiraz / Cabernet / Malbec - $17.95 – Could be the real sleeper of the release. A blend of three grapes from a single vineyard site and a real mouthful.
Top White Picks
2009 Gehringer Bros Pinot Gris $17.95 – If you enjoyed their unoaked Chard from earlier this year, or if you’re a fan of Kettle Valley’s Pinot Gris, then I think you’ll like this one. Slight pinkish hue due to the exposure to skins for a short time.
2010 Mount Riley Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc - $15.95 Fans of New Zealand Sauv Blanc – step right up.
2010 Spice Route WO Darling Sauvignon Blanc - $14.95 – A Citric, grassy, SB from South Africa. Well priced to accompany a seafood dish!
The Rest
Jip Jip Rocks 2009 – Scored well but past vintages have left me unimpressed. Perhaps this’ll be better.
2008 Rivera Violante Nero di Troia - $15.95 Well scored by all reviewers (86 to 87 points) and a very solid wine with fall foods or on its own.
 2007 First Press Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon - $19.95- First released last year, this is an OK Cali Cab for the money. It was better than I expected it to be last year.
2007 DOURO RESERVA RED from QUINTA DO COA – Wonderful review. If you are a fan of Quinta do Crasto Old Vines Reserva and are P.O.’d that you can’t get more, this will be a close approximation. Slightly tart to bitter annise notes on the finish. Not cheap though. 
Bodegas LAN 2003 at $26.95 is ready to drink now.

Big Bucks, Major Money, Piles o’ pennies
2008 Two Hands Bella's Garden Barossa Shiraz - $63.95 : #2 in the WSTop 100 last year. Is money no object? Line up early and with elbow pads on probably.
2007 Te Mata Hawkes Bay Coleraine  Cabernet Sauvignon / Merlot / Cabernet Franc - $59.95- An unusual blend from New Zealand, we don’t see a lot of Cab Sauvs from there to be sure even if they are blended with other grapes.  
2008 Faust Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon - $39.95
2004 Ladera Lone Canyon Vineyard Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon - $64.95  
 Encore appearance from an earlier Release:
2006 Barone Ricasoli Casalferro 2006 at $39.95  was a very nice big wine on first release.
2009 Perrin La Gille Gigondas - $29.95  - I really like this wine, even at this price. Ageworthy, complex, delicious. 
A couple of Spaniards have been rereleased as well but the 2008 Arrocal at  $15.95 is your best bargain bet.