Monday, March 5, 2012

March Madness pervades the LCBO Vintages Offices

Three releases this month - let’s consider it the LCBO’s version of March Madness! Here’s a preview of what I consider to be the highlight wines of the next two March releases. These selections are subject to change or expansion once I have a chance to review the releases more closely. March 17th is a Spanish focus - see notes below for picks from that one but the March 31 one is not completed yet now completed as well. For instance, next one is a Spanish focus and I haven’t yet picked any. Also, few cheapies and no white wines or bubblies have been chosen yet either. So remember, it’s early people, but it’s best to conserve your precious financial resources now!

March 31 Preview
In keeping with the March Madness theme, this week the LCBO presents a full court (Corte) press. Or maybe someone in the LCBO’s marketing department  has a date before a judge and it’s playing on their mind. Either way, there are 5 wines named Corte  (or Corté) in this  release. Regardless of that fact , this one is a better release than the last bunch we have been subjected to.

DOMAINE DE LA JANASSE CÔTES DU RHÔNE 2009 650 cases $15.95 Number 1 - super fruit'll jump from the glass, bit of tannic backbone, great producer.
ALAIN JAUME TERRASES DE MONTMIRAIL GIGONDAS 2009 220 cases $27.95 Number 2 - think Chateauneuf for much less. Structure, fruit, another terrific, high quality producer.
CHATEAU STE. MICHELLE INDIAN WELLS MERLOT 2008 199 cases $25.95 Number 3 - mocha, chocolate, black fruits. Like the Columbia Crest H3, but a few bucks more.
ARGENTINA (pick one)
ZUCCARDI Q MALBEC 2009 419 cases $19.95 Number 4 (tie)
VISTALBA CORTE B 2008 636 cases $19.95 Number 4 (tie) (I like this one a lot)
ACHAVAL FERRER MALBEC 2010 374 cases $23.95 Number 4 (tie) - I like this one even more but 4 bucks is four bucks!
LA CASTELLINA TOMMASO BOJOLA CHIANTI CLASSICO 2007 349 cases $21.95 Number 5 - on price and name ( see below)
MONSANTO CHIANTI CLASSICO RISERVA 2007, 299 cases $29.95  Number 6 but only because I can't help but think of genetically modified corn when I see this producer's name. I know, I know, it's not the same one!

Among the also rans, but almost in the selection list:
Aldiano Montepulciano D’Abruzzo Riserva 2007 – At $17.95, A nice casual pizza vino with some sophistication.
Domaine Grosset Cairanne CdR-V – 2009 – At $17.95 it’s a buck less than the wine of the month, from a named village. Probably the better buy among those two.
Les Dolia Laudun CdR-V -2009 – $18.95 and ready to drink, this should accompany anything on the grill very nicely too.
There are two from among my favourite producers in the midi. Hecht and Bannier and Gerard Bertrand are both first rate. I brought Bertrand’s  top of the line wine,  L’Hospitalitas,  back from France last year and am just waiting for the right reason to open it. His L’Hospitalet, a Southern Rhone blend from the  ’05 and ’07 vintages was a go to wine for me. This week’s Minervois should be very good at $15.95.
H & B’s products are oft  superb and this week's Cotes de Rousillon Villages merits  another David Schildknecht opus. The only caveat with it is that I’m a little shakey on the ’08 Vintage. Try one to be sure before you leap in with both feet.
There are three under $20 Shiraz to choose from – all are OK. The best from Oz is actually the Moculta from BVE (a favourite producer) but is a wee bit overpriced. As a result I’ll take a pass on it.
From France, White fans have 2 Chablis that should be superb and the Roquetaillade La Grange Blanc is an easy sipper.
From NZ, the Momo Sauvignon Blanc is always first rate – with shrimp on the bar-B or scallops,  mmmmm!
Big Bucks
Terre Nerre Brunello di Montalcino 2006 - $35.95 – Both Brunellos manage equal scores but I’d go with the ’06 on vintage quality and price. The '06 will need some time to come around though. Look for it in a cool dark place in a couple of years.
Corte Pavone Brunello di Montalcino 2005 – $49.95 – Previous vintages ( 01, 03) have left me longing for a good Chianti instead.

2 Chateauneuf du Papes – Both from 2009, I’d hold off, at least one of these will eventually be marked down  I’m sure.

If I was to buy a big bucker, it's be one of these two.

TWO HANDS BELLA'S GARDEN SHIRAZ 2009 499 cases of 6 $64.95 Gee why wasn’t I born rich instead…?
SODARO FELICITY CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2006 111 cases $43.95 - a new one for me to try.

ST. FRANCIS CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2007 559 cases $29.95 - this and the Elderton are kind stuck in between.
299 cases $30.95 I wish it was a few bucks less!

CORTÉ RIVA CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2005 383 cases $39.95  - I'm sure they marked this down in previous releases of this vintage. Who's friends with this distributor?

March 17 Preview
PICCINI CHIANTI CLASSICO RISERVA 2007 599 cases $18.95 Number 2

QUINTA DO PORTAL GRANDE RESERVA 2006 149 cases $28.95 Number 5


WAKEFIELD SHIRAZ 2009 900 cases $17.95 Number 3 Tie for value

ST. HALLETT BLACKWELL SHIRAZ 2009 384 cases of 6 $29.95 Number 3 Tie for quality but the Halliday score of 96 points is off the chart – 91, 92 points is a far more realistic score.
Pascal Toso Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 and the Luigo Bosca Blend 2008 - Both are first class producers making first class products. I'll go with the Toso on price.
Oh yeah, there's a Spain focus - my top picks are the young Mencia, the Pago de Valdoneje - it fits under $15 too - or the Vega Sauco Adoremus 2004 or perhaps the Valdemar Inspiracion 2006.
See Ya Later Ranch Brut  and Lefevre Remondet Brut Rose Cremant de Burgogne
Michel Chiarlo Barbera d'Asti Superior 2009 - $14.95 - worth a try
Manas Negra 2007 - $14.95 - Grilling something like burgers? Midweek? Here's the ticket.
Cathedral Cellars Chardonnay 2010- $14.95 Faultless producer of inexpensive South African wines.
Foncalieu Cotes du Rhone Villages - 2009 - $14.95 - Juicy, fruit driven with some acidity. Good reflection of the vintage.
Mocali Brunello De Montalcino 2006 - 279 cases - '06 is an excellent vintage just now beginning to make it to the LCBO. Clearly Bruce Sanderson likes it a lot and it's under $50. The review reads like this one will be a Basil special.
Chateau de Beaucastel 2009 - $89.95 - 249 cases - One for long term cellaring - spend $90 now but you can't enjoy it for 10 years.

Concha y Toro Don Melchor 2007 - $79.95 - 299 cases of 6 Tremendous wine. Black fruit, smoke, hints 'o mints. If this was from Napa it'd be twice the price. First bottles I bought were $40. Out of my range now.
Yalumba Menzies Coonawara Cabernet 2007-Only 95 cases of 6 - $53.95 - If you thought there was mint on the Don Melchor, wait until you try the Menzies. Open one  and you'll soon have a room full of koala bears.
Treanna Red 2008 239 cases $39.95