Tuesday, June 19, 2012

June 23rd Vintages Release - Who Cares?

10 pages of cocktail recipes , ‘Summer Sippers’ and a Canada Day special add up to another “Who Cares?” release from our friends at the monopoly.  The cocktails especially are better suited to ‘Food and Drink’ and beg the question  “Does lime juice have a vintage?” This week’s release scores 50 out of 100*. That means it was delivered. There are no ‘must have’ wines in it but I might try one or two of the first four reds listed below.
*See last release’s review for a  summary of my 100 point Vintages release scoring system.
CASA DO VALLE GRANDE ESCOLHA 2011 $14. This is Vinho  Verde priced closer to where it should be.  Floral and ripe citrus and a smooth, creamy texture. Tangy lemon peel and minerality on the  finish. Pair with sushi or deep fried calamari.
ZONTE’S FOOTSTEP BARON VON NEMESIS SHIRAZ 2008 $17.95 Dreadful name but inside the bottle is a terrific wine offering a smooth mouthful of dark cherry, plum, and hints of black olive. Score: 91 (Harvey Steiman)
KAESLER STONEHORSE SHIRAZ/GRENACHE/MOURVÈDRE 2008  $20.95  A  GSM from the Barossa, think of this as an Aussie Vacqueyras,  62/28/10 blend, mostly in stainless steel; no new oak. Aromas of blueberry, fresh plum, and espresso lead to flavours of  black and blue fruit, bitter chocolate and spice.  Nice, long finish. Score: 91 (Josh Raynolds)
RAMÓN BILBAO RESERVA 2005  DOC  Rioja  One of this month’s  $17.00 Food and Drink specials, (Gee weren’t they $15 a few months ago?) Wine & Spirits magazine awarded this wine a score of 90 points (Dec. 2010) to go with the Decanter  5 star rating. Dark, subtle, and perfumed with 7 years age on it now this should be right in its drinking window. 
CONCHA Y TORO MARQUES DE CASA CONCHA CARMENÈRE 2010 $17.00 Not badly priced but I ask again, where did those short lived  $15.00 specials go (very nice wines at very nice prices)?  Dry, medium bodied with dark raspberry and black cherry  flavours, match up to anything grilled or roasted. 
MONTES ALPHA CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2009  $19.95 Priced where the Simi should be, this cabernet offers good value. Black currants and cherry aromas, chocolate and warm spice with hints of mint.  Terrific young, the palate has a freshness with similar, berry flavours,  spice and tobacco. Score: 91 (Daenna Van Mulligen)
SIMI CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2008 $24.95 Sourced from vineyards across the Alexander Valley, at $5.00 less this would offer true value.  Aged for 24 months in French and American small oak barrels, which impart notes of toffee, smoke and baking spices that mesh with the concentrated black cherry and blackcurrant flavours. 
LE GRAVILLAS SABLET 2010  AC Côtes du Rhône-Villages  $14.95 This wine was awarded a Gold Medal at the 2011 Concours Général Agricole in Paris. A solid wine at a good price, it’s medium bodied with  fruit and spice on the palate. Some  tannic grip accompanies the good length.
STAG’S LEAP WINE CELLARS ARTEMIS CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2007  $46.95 Napa  A big rich Cab to cellar. Blackberries, currants and sweet dark chocolate. Needs to rest in the dark for a while, it should improve in the bottle over the next 5 years at least. Score: 94 (Steve Heimoff, Wine Enthusiast)
TRIINITY HILL THE GIMBLETT 2009 – At $35.95, this is an uncommonly good,  tempting Bordeaux blend from NZ.
LIONELLO MARCHESI COLDISOLE BRUNELLO DI MONTALCINO 2006 93 points from Galloni and $41.95, this is worth a look if you have the wallet for it.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Vintages June 9th - Dad's Day, Chile, and the South of France

The previous Vintages release was the annual  90+ point edition and it got me thinking that perhaps I should begin to score the Vintages releases using the same 100 point scale. So from now on I’ll follow the Parker 100 point scoring method for each release.  As Parker scores a bottle of wine for just showing up, so will I give 50 points to Vintages for the physical catalogue just showing up in my Canada Post mailbox. If the LCBO discontinues that physical delivery, then so will I discontinue the free 50 points.  From there, if there are rosées  that I must buy, I’ll give them 2 points per wine to a max of 6. If there are bubblies that I must buy?  3 points per wine to a maximum of 6. Bubbly rosées  will be counted in  the bubbly category.  Whites that I must buy? 3 points to a maximum of 9. And the reds  that I must buy? 3 Points per wine to an unlimited maximum.  Extra points can be awarded for what I deem to be ‘exceptional value’. Yes you are correct, there won’t be many of those. Likewise points can be subtracted for what I perceive to be price gouging. And again you are correct, I do expect we’ll see more than a few of those situations.  Best of all since it’s my scoring scale I get to score what’s important to me. Does this mean the LCBO can have 100 point Vintages releases? Yes. Will it? Time will tell.  I scored this week’s release  62 (out of 100).
The release  focuses on Chile, Southern France and  what seems to be an afterthought  Father’s day feature.  It appears our Vintages friends have taken to watching Chile’s Food Network and the South of France Travel Network instead of focusing on buying the best wines for the best prices.  Other than my one favourite standby (or is that standbuy?), Chile is for the most part a disappointment. While there are a few  interesting  wine options available from the Languedoc in Southern France, nothing from there really jumps out at me. 
CODORNÍU PINOT NOIR BRUT ROSÉ CAVA Spain, $17.95 At least now I can say that I enjoy pinot noir even if it’s just in a bubbly rosé. Fragrant nose, full of ripe cherry, raspberry and wild strawberry fruit. The palate is dry and brisk, with a lengthy, fruity finish.  
 COYOTE’S RUN BLACK PAW VINEYARD CHARDONNAY 2010 175 cases of 12 $21.95, Niagara.  A complex, single vineyard Chardonnay that shows butterscotch, vanilla, poached pear and touch of citrus zest on the nose. On the palate, it’s a bit more robust with notes of mineral, flint and well integrated fruit.  Indications are that this can be cellared for a few years as well.
REDS, in the order I’ll probably  pick ‘em.
 CONCHA Y TORO TERRUNYO VINEYARD SELECTION CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2009 Maipo Valley 396 cases of 6 $29.95   Cassis, raspberry, cherry and woodsmoke accented by subtle spice. At less than half the price of its famous brother  Don Melchor, it’ll age nicely for 5 to 7 years in the cellar and only after that will the Don Melchor  pedigree  begin to assert itself. So maybe it’s not quite as ageworthy, big deal! Even with that mid term cellaring  potential, it’ll be drinking very well now (but decant please) served with a slab of something red on the plate. 
ROMAIN DUVERNAY VACQUEYRAS 2009 400 cases of 12 $24.95 While both Vacqueyras are very good, go for price over age and take this one. 65% Grenache, 20% Syrah and 15% Mourvedre aged in tank and old wood so it’ll be less oaky than some may be accustomed to.  A veritable cornucopia of aromas and flavours including  charcoal, licorice, chocolate and sweet blackberry and kirsch fruit. Broad, full-bodied and concentrated, it should drink well for a decade. Score: 93 (Robert Parker Jr)
CHATEAU STE. MICHELLE CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2008 198 cases of 12 $19.95 A spicy big red with a subtle tobacco and chocolate scents  giving way to ripe fruit flavors. The texture shows fine, peppery tannins  complementing the ripe fruit and providing an elegance that belies the price.  In spite of the 93 points score, I’m not sure this is up to their Indian Wells offering, but it’s close.
NORTON RESERVA MALBEC 2008 $17.95 699 cases of 12 A plush big wine offering  velvety blackberry, fig paste and black currant jam notes backed by raspberry ganache and espresso. Well priced for the quality. Score: 90 (James Molesworth)
DOMAINE DES FÉES CÔTES DU RHÔNE 2010 499 cases of 12 $14.95  Unfiltered. If I recall correctly this is the first of the 2010 CdR’s and CdRV’s to hit the Vintages shelves. Grenache and Syrah,  try one  to compare the new vintage to your  ‘09’s so you can see the effect that light ageing  has on the wines.  A bargain compared to Vacqueyras, Gigondas and Chateauneuf du Pape.  Score: 90 (Robert Parker Jr)
HEGARTY CHAMANS NO. 2 GRENACHE/MOURVÈDRE/CINSAULT 2009 279 cases of 12 $21.95 “smells of cinnamon-dusted, lily- and peony-garlanded, candied cherry” , now wait just a minute! How many of you out there have even bothered to smell  your lilies or peonies never mind make a garland of them, dust them with cinnamon then lay them on candied cherries and smell that?  Schildknecht’s reviews get  me everytime!
MONT TAUCH LE TAUCH FITOU 2009 299 cases of 12 $19.95 A blend of Syrah, Carignan and Grenache received a Decanter World Wine Awards  Gold Medal in 2011.   Juicy raspberry and blueberry aromas. Mouth-watering, chunky black currant fruit palate with chalky notes. Chewy tannins and bold acidity. Score: 5 stars out of 5 from Decanter.
DOMAINE PIQUEMAL TRADITION 2009 399 cases of 12 $15.95 Unfiltered and bargain priced,  this earned a Gold Medal at the Concours Général  Agricole 2011 in Paris.
MONTIRIUS  LE CLOS VACQUEYRAS 2007 199 cases of 12 $28.95  Organic, if that matters to you, and a quality producer. Has steadily increased in price for no apparent reason and in spite of a devalued euro.  50/50 Grenache and Syrah, the 2007 vintage exhibits  kirsch liqueur, licorice, and  herbs, and a full-bodied, long finish. 
CHÂTEAU DU TRIGNON GIGONDAS 2006 219 cases of 12  $29.95 Right in the drinking window for this more classically styled vintage (compared to ’05 or ’07). Tea, dried plum, raspberry and fruitcake notes backed by a long perfumy, minerally finish. Drink now through 2016. $29.95
GÉRARD BERTRAND GRAND TERROIR GRENACHE/SYRAH 2009 349 cases of 12 $18.95 From a Languedoc  producer of some of my ‘well priced’ favourites, this should really be  a buck less.  The nose has cassis, cedar and bright floral aromas. Medium bodied  with  a sweet core of cherry and ripe cassis flavours.
ARDAL CRIANZA 2005 Ribera del Duero 489 cases of 12 $16.95 A ready aged blend of Tempranillo and  Cabernet Sauvignon. Grill something red!   
LUIGI BOSCA CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2009 599 cases of 12 $17.95 This well-balanced Cab shows off the ripe cassis and blackberry fruit as well as the toasty wood and mocha flavours. A good value for the barbecue season, so throw some thick cut steaks on the grill and enjoy! 
FONTANAFREDDA SERRALUNGA D’ALBA BAROLO 2007 DOCG 199 cases of 12  $29.95 Don’t get too excited about this price, the bottles are 500ML, not 750s. The good news is they’ll age faster in bottle and they’re a superb  Barolo to have when you feel like more wine but can’t face a full sized bottle. In the ’07 look for delicate floral aromas, then espresso, chocolate, and black cherry. Notes say drink after 2018 but I finished my last bottle of the 2005 just last week and it was superb. Score: 94 (Monica Larner)
MARZIANO ABBONA PRESSENDA BAROLO 2007 DOCG 199 cases of 12  $43.95  Sweet black cherries, menthol, spices and licorice all come together in this deep, satisfying Barolo. Needs a few years in the cellar. Antonio Galloni says “This is a fabulous effort. “Anticipated maturity:  2015-2027. Score: 94
BARONE RICASOLI CASTELLO DI BROLIO CHIANTI CLASSICO 2008 DOCG 199 cases of 12 $59.95   Suckling had the ’06 vintage of this wine as the WSTop 100 #5 wine of the year so his review is no surprise. It was a smokin’ wine then and this one’ll  be the same I suspect. Big Bucks!  Score: 94 (James Suckling, jamessuckling.com )
 POGGIOTONDO BRUNELLO DI MONTALCINO 2006 DOCG 399 cases of 12  $34.95  Very well priced for an ’06 Brunello.   The 2006 Brunello di Montalcino Poggiotondo is a big wine but despite its size and richness the wine shows both nuance and balance. These qualities echo on the finish with hints of smoke, tar and incense. Not for the fruit bomb fans out there. Score: 93 (Antonio Galloni, May 2011)
MITOLO SAVITAR SHIRAZ 2008  McLaren Vale 63 cases of 12 $54.95 – With the very limited number of cases to be made available, this really should be an ISD. Get there early if you expect to see a bottle  never mind buy one!  Sourced  from a select part of the GAM block this’ll be that McLaren Vale almost black purple with blackberry and cassis notes and it’ll hint at balsamic. Full-bodied with concentrated dark berry and spice flavours. Only 63 cases in the province so why waste page space on it? Score: 93+ (Lisa PerrottiBrown)