Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Oct.27th Vintages release - Bored Oh and I rant again!

The October 27th Vintages release focuses on Bordeaux 2009 and a few smaller California vineyards. But let’s take a minute to ignore them and review one of the ‘Food and Drink’ specials. Remember our friends at the monopoly buy these wines in industrial quantities, anywhere from 2000 to 5000 cases, and tout them as something special for you. The  LENA DI MEZZO RIPASSO VALPOLICELLA CLASSICO SUPERIORE 2009 is one of them now for sale at $17.00. My first thought was ‘Hey wasn’t this out earlier this year?’ Well, yes the previous vintage was in the March 31st 2012 Vintages catalogue. The wine is now being foisted on the unsuspecting public for a dollar and 5 cents more than the previous vintage. So while Dalton** freezes wages in the public sector, his minions at the LCBO can blithely go ahead and jack up prices like they’re in some Sam Walton wet dream! It’s beyond crazed. Oh and in the review, that previous vintage was a point better. So let’s summarize:
  • Canadian dollar vs the Euro?  Stronger.
  • Wine quality? Weaker.
  • Quantity purchased (one would think for a massive volume discount)? Huge, but apparently no discount, at least not to the buying public!
  • Price? More expensive!  
  • Lubricant used? eeeYow, Not the way I feel! 

How stupid does the LCBO think we are?  Folks, not since the first $15 specials have these Food and Drink ‘specials’ been truly special. Boycott them until they  become something truly special again!

Now on to the release. Bordeaux holds little charm for me and the California wines are over priced. But that’s not to say this is a bad release – just MOTS from the LCBO. The VRSS is 62. There are options to tempt your tastebuds.
** Written before he flew the coop.

2009 MEERLUST CABERNET SAUVIGNON - $24.95 ooops $28.95– I expect big things here.
Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate: 91 pts
CONCHA Y TORO TERRUNYO BLOCK 27 CARMENERE 2009 – To my palate, the Terrunyo brand is always the best value and  among the best quality of all Chilean wines. This one is no exception and although it’s not cheap, you’ll find terrific enjoyment served with rack of lamb or rare beef. Terrunyo tier of wines never exhibit the green and brown flavours I get from some Carmeneres or other Chilean reds  - very hard to beat.
2010 PERRIN & FILS L'ANDÉOL RASTEAU CÔTES DU RHÔNE-VILLAGES - $19.95 From the Perrin family of the Rhone, an excellent, if somewhat expensive Cotes du Rhone named village. On par with Perrin’s Cairanne and Vinsobres offerings but for some reason a couple of bucks more. Save yourself two dollars and buy them first but if they’re sold out, go for this one.

94 points – James Halliday (Australian Wine Companion) so take the score and subtract  3 or 4 but a terrific producer and a big wine for sure! For the $5 savings,  it gets the nod over the Brave Faces.

2011 TWO HANDS BRAVE FACES - $29.95 – Another from the Two Hands team. A GSM to match up to anything from the Southern Rhone… always very good.

2008 MARCHESE ANTINORI TIGNANELLO ESTATE CHIANTI  CLASSICO RISERVA $29.95 (499 cases of 12)  Formerly known as Tenute Marchesi Antinori' Chianti Classico Riserva, this is now taking advantage of the awareness of the Tignanello brand. Look for this one to climb in price over the next few years for no other reason than it is Tig’s baby brother. Ahh I’m such a skeptic. The Wine Advocate gave it 91 points stating “presents a dark, almost saturated color. It is a bigger, fatter wine packed with super-ripe, jammy plum, raisin and licorice flavors on a structured frame of notable power as well as length”


2010 WYNNS COONAWARRA SHIRAZ  $22.95  (503 cases of 12)

2010 LECONFIELD COONAWARRA MERLOT  $22.95 (191 cases of 12) Awarded a bunch of medals and trophies from the various Australian wine shows.

2008 LANGMEIL BLACKSMITH BAROSSA VALLEY CABERNET SAUVIGNON $24.95  (255 cases of 12) – 89 points from both RP and WS, 91 from WE

CLOS DE LOS SIETE 2009 $21.95 – a rerelease of the popular Michel Rolland blend. Big, bold and excellent with anything red or grilled or any combination thereof.

SANTA CAROLINA RESERVE DE FAMILIA CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2009 – Well priced at $17.95 this is an excellent wine for the money. Open early or decant to allow the air to hit it, then serve with anything grilled or roasted.

2010 HECHT & BANNIER MINERVOIS - $19.95 Ah yes, another very good wine but if you want to save a couple of bucks there are better options available for less at the time of this writing. Look for the Millegrand from this same area or perhaps one of the Perrin southern Rhone named Villages (Vinsobres, Cairanne)  a few releases back

2010 DELAS FRÈRES SAINT-ESPRIT CÔTES DU RHÔNE - $15.95  (349 cases of 12) As good a price as we seem to be able to get for a terrific vintage from the Rhone.

2009 ROCCA DELLE MACIE TENUTA SANT’ALFONSO CHIANTI CLASSICO $21.95  (379 cases of 12)Bruce Sanderson gives it 90 pts “Black currant, violet, black cherry and licorice aromas and flavors take on a salty tang as this red develops on the palate. Ripe and rich, with dense tannins on the long aftertaste. Best from 2014 through 2020.

CHATEAU SENEJAC $28.95 A lower level Pontet Canet

2009 CHATEAU LESTRUELLE CRU BOURGEOIS - $18.95  (1,499 cases of 12)
WS 90 pts “Nicely toasty, with vanilla and espresso notes up front, but the core of raspberry, blackberry and boysenberry fruit rushes in behind it, with a long, licorice-filled finish.  Should settle in nicely.  Best from 2012 through 2017.  


 a solid core of ripe apple and apple blossom aromas and flavors, mixing with hints of anise and smoke, with a nut note that lingers on the modest finish. Crisp and fresh overall. Drink now. 6,500 cases made. –AN  89 points – Robert Parker


 2009 DOMAINE DU VIEUX TÉLÉGRAPHE LA CRAU CHÂTEAUNEUF-DU-PAPE - $79.95 Wine Spectator James Molesworth 94 pts “This is crammed with fruit, spice and structure, as braised fig, plum skin, cassis and anise notes wrestle with roasted apple wood, melted red licorice and tar for now. The embedded grip should carry the finish until this assimilates fully. Best from 2014 through 2024.  

LINDAFLOR MALBEC 2007 $42.95 – From the Uco Valley, this is a massive offering. I believe the wine was at least co-vinified with Michel Rolland. If you like the Clos de los Siete, think of this as its bigger, bustier, more experienced sister who just returned by way of Paris from a summer in Australia.

2009 TENUTA SETTE PONTI CROGNOLO TOSCANA  $32.95  (349 cases of 12) NOTE: This wine marks the second label of Oreno.

2010 TENUTA SAN GUIDO  GUIDALBERTO TOSCANA  60% Cabernet  Sauvignon, 40% Merlot  $47.95  (199 cases of 6)  Guidalberto, the second wine of the iconic Sassicaia estate.

STAG'S LEAP WINE CELLARS ARTEMIS CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2008 $51.95 – Here’s a conundrum, and I don’t mean the wine. Well I do mean the wine but not that wine, this wine. It scored 82 points from the WS and 95 from WE. How can there be 13 points difference between two educated palates? I’ll split the difference and guess we’ll be getting something closer to 90 than to 80, but 90 points for $52 is still not great QPR.

HAUTS DE PONTET CANET $ 54.95 – Second wine of Pontet Canet.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Oct. 13 - OZ and Chile get the cover but Italy gets the picks

5 Australian Artisanal wine  producers  and new  Chilean Hot spots are the focal points this week.  On the Aussie front, the optimist in me says “Cool, the LCBO is on the leading edge, finding both small but high quality producers who march to the beat of their own drummer  and new regions of exciting wine production.” The skeptical pessimist in me says,”Who are these guys and how much are their wines really worth?” Since we can’t find many of their wines anywhere else, we can’t get a real feel for the markups we’re being exposed to. So unlike the bigger international names, we don’t know how really badly we’re getting hosed.  I suppose the reality is somewhere on a scale between the optimist and the pessimist, but I’ll let you all decide for yourselves just where you think you are on that scale.
And speaking of scales, for the Aussie wines it would appear the tasters doing the reviews are using two different scales. Certainly the more generous scores are those of  James Halliday who is somewhat infamous for his high point  scores for Australian wines. Is it patriotism, or perhaps  he just really  likes the Aussie style?  Anyhow if you must have a number take his reviews with a grain of salt and subtract a minimum of 3 points.  This is also a good process to follow with some well known local reviewers of Ontario red wine too.
For the Chileans, I like the look of two whites which are outlined below. 
The VRSS this week is as good as most have been lately, which is to say mediocre,  barely over 60 points.  Both the whites and the reds that interest me are just that, interesting.  Certainly none are compelling.
MAZZEI SER LAPO 2007 CHIANTI CLASSICO RISERVA – $24.95 - 95 points from Suckling means this WoM will blow out quickly in spite of the usual big WoM quantities. In general  the reviews in Cellar Tracker and other wine sites are positive but not quite so numerically  effusive.  In his printed review  Suckling wastes so few  words in describing  the wine’s  flavour profile that he comes across as almost  Gary Cooperesque.  I picture him slurping, spitting, squinting, stating (pause) “I’m 95 on that.”, then  riding off into the sunset. Oh, in a rented, bright red convertible, not on a horse. I will buy one or two to see if they’re up to the score.  2007 was a terrific vintage in Tuscany but this review was also from Suckling’s post Wine Spectator days, when he became more of a marketer for himself and seemingly the wineries he reviews.
SASSO AL POGGIO 2006 - $18.95 – I always have grave concerns when the LCBO comes up with a wine from someone’s Top 100 a year after the printed review was published, especially one priced and scored so well. But let’s wait and see on this one. If the wine is good enough but does not get locally reviewed it could be the sleeper in this release hidden as it is so far back and letting that big scoring  WoM gather all the attention.
MASI GRANDARELLA 2008 – $24.95 - Want an Amarone without the full Amarone price tag? This could be it.  Use of non allowed grapes means it can’t wear the name but it is there in most other ways. A very good wine.  Dry, and yet also fruity. Very worthy  if you enjoy that style, methinks.
FLECHAS DE LOS ANDES GRAN MALBEC 2009 - $21.95 – A very tasty, big steak wine, or is that a big, very tasty steak wine? If you need to bring a wine to a BBQ, you can’t go wrong here.
JEAN LUC COLUMBO LES FEES BRUNES CROZES HERMITAGE 2009 $24.95 – Syrah from a nice vintage and producer.
GUARDIAN PEAK SMG2009 – $19.95 - A South African take on the Southern Rhone blend .
PAXTON SHIRAZ GRENACHE 2010 - $19.95- McLaren Vale fruitiness means instant enjoyment for a well priced red blend.
LAN GRAN RESERVA 2004 - $27.95– A food wine with some age on it, built for roast meats or tapas. A very high quality and consistent producer,  this wine’ll accompany almost anything on a plate.   Black olives, saganaki, spanakopita (yes I know they’re Greek not Spanish),  Serrano ham wrapped fingerlings with cheese, dry rubbed ribs, grilled red meats or chicken….mmm!
Two White wine Chileans catch my eye and perhaps my palate. The CASA LAPOSTOLLE 2011 CHARDONNAY at $24.95 and the well scored single vineyard Leyda  Sauvignon Blanc 2011 at $16.95.  The latter is described as having received a perfect score of 5 stars from Decanter.  A note to the proof readers at Vintages, 5 stars is not necessarily perfect, just exceptionally good.
Two Cotes du Rhones from Caves de Rasteau should be very tasty - either one will provide pleasure. I’d stick with the ’09 and save your $$’s.
O. FOURNIER ALPHA CRUX 2004 – $41.95 - Loads of everything in this one. The wine is expensive but at eight years old is also nicely ensconced in its drinking window so it’ll give lots of pleasure immediately. Did someone say rare prime rib?
MARCHESI DI BAROLO 2006 - $34.95 – Well priced, well scored for a bigger than some Barolo. Lay it down for a year or two, then serve with roast game. More subtle and sophisticated than many of this week’s other  picks.
ORNELLAIA LE VOLTE 2010-$29.95 –  Ornellaia’s third wine but the name Ornallaia that says it all.
THREE RIVERS RED 2009 - $19.95 – At this price  point it’s another of the same from Washington St. in a blend that’ll provide enjoyment  if not sophistication  during late season BBQs.
COUDOULET DE BEAUCASTEL 2010 - $29.95 – When is a Cotes du Rhone not a Cotes du Rhone? When it’s from the famed Beaucastel winery.  Priced up there with some Gigondas this is a serious, laying down and giving it some  time  kind of wine. Tannins abound and early on can almost overwhelm.  Not your mother’s Cotes du Rhone for sure!
SPICE ROUTE CHAKALAKA 2009 – $24.95 With a name like this you can’t take the wine too seriously and that’s as it should be. This wine is a blend of 6 grapes so think of it as a party with 6 of your most boisterous friends.