Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The January 5, 2013 Vintages release.

  A new year always brings hope and although by now I should know better, resolutions. Wine wise, our hope is for better things from the people tasked with buying the biweekly Vintages releases at the LCBO.  Last year (2012) seemed like a rough one from where I was sitting.  Resolution wise, I have two, one for me, one for the monopoly.  The first one is for me to try to be nicer to them. The second one? It can be summed up in four simple words - Better wine, lower prices.  The resolution can be said many ways, as simply Better wine, lower prices,  or mix the 4 words  in a  Q and A, “Wine Prices? Better Lower.” or perhaps mix ‘em as a threat “Wine prices better lower!” (with the unspoken “or Hudak says you’ll all be sent to your rooms”). If the monopoly can manage to live by the mantra BW-LP, then the year 2013 will have a chance to be regarded as a success.  
On to the new release. Traditionally the first release of the year is the LCBO’s attempt to defibrillate your dead wallet. Their hope is that the bargains populating this release will have the wallet reviving effect of an electric shock after that  crise cardiaque of conspicuous consumption brought on by three of the  last four releases of 2012. See I can be illiterately alliterative, or was that alliteratively illiterate? And I can mix my metaphors too!   I’ll bet I could have a job naming each future feature (see there’s another!) in the upcoming Vintages releases, if I want one.  And yes, I AM trying to stick to my resolution to be nice!
For the Jan.05 release, the VRSS is low at 62 points.
The Picks
All Reds, no whites or fizzies make the grade this time around.

Finca VillaCreces Pruno 2010 - Steel toed boots, elbow pads and mouth guards may be called for when you go for this one - At $19.95 and from just next door to the renowned Vega Sicilia in the Duero, the Parker review quoted in the Vintages catalogue says you could pay from $75 up to $150 for a wine of this quality.  It is a WoM (wine of the month) so there should be lots but watch out, with a Parker review like this one I expect  they’ll be blowing out of the stores. If you buy a box, don’t hesitate to let it rest for a bit.  If the wine is as good as the review, kudos to the Vintages buying team for managing to pull this one off. If it’s not as good , well  I’ll try to be nice.

El Molet Tinto 2009 –$14.95 The wine was number 33 on the Wine Enthusiasts Top 100 Best Buys for 2012 and best of all it’s buried way at the back on the bottom of a page.  My opinion? This might be a great wine to have when you feel like letting your hair down. “What? It’s Molet not mullet? Oh…..Never mind.” (With apologies to the late Gilda Radner as Emily Litella).

The first release also contains two more of the Food and Drink ‘$17 that should be $15’ wines. One is an Australian with a silly name - Baron von Nemesis Shiraz from Zonte’s Footsteps. Where is the monocle on pack? Recent vintages of this wine score and drink above the price point (and the silly name). It shows lots of black fruit, white pepper and licorice hints while not breaking the bank.

Another good QPR option from OZ should be the Mr. Black’s Little Book ($17.95) from Small Gully, the same folks who delivered the Formula to the Ontario market. If this one matches that for hedonistic pleasure at a reasonable price, then it’ll be worthy of some attention. Being a WoM means there’ll be plenty of it as well.

Terres D’Avignon Reserve des Armoirres 2010 – At $14.95 this gold medal winner should provide ample pleasure for midweek meals,  Friday pizzas, or as an option for a big open house gathering that doesn’t merit you opening one of your higher price point wines. Lots of up front fruit and a slight tannic backbone, it’s ready for immediate consumption.

Coppi Peucetico Primitivo 2007 – Past vintages have been pleasant surprises, especially at the price. Another super pizza/ lasagna/ burger wine and very well priced at $13.95.

Charles and Charles Cab Sauv/Syrah 2010 - $15.95 is a good price for this Washington St. collaborative effort. Look for some upfront fruit and in spite of the syrah, a hint of Bordeaux in the tobacco notes.

 Alta Vista Premium Estate Malbec 2010 - $14.95 – A fine inexpensive malbec for those nice warm January days that allow you to fire up the BBQ for burgers.

Thorne Clarke – Shotfire Cab/ Shiraz 2010 – At $24.95, this is getting expensive, especially compared to the two Australian options up above. Is this  $7 better than them? It’ll be very good, but I don’t think so.

The Big Bucks

Our Big Bucks category starts a bit lower than usual just because there are so few over $25 in the release.
La Pieve Barolo 2008- At $28.95, it’s hard to beat this price for a Barolo. You’d have to go to the general list to match it methinks.  A good intro to an early drinking sample of one of the world’s  great wines at a price that won’t break the bank.
Monsanto Chianti Classico 2008 - $29.95 – A previous vintage made the WS Top 100. On its own  I’m not sure the wine was worthy of those previous accolades but it is much better with food than alone, to be sure. Steak Florentine, pasta with a fresh tomato sauce, eggplant parmesan are all better off with it.
Kendall-Jackson Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve 2009 – $34.95 – Your standard Cali cab, always very solid.
Keenan 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon - $60.95. Out of place in this release? Yes it is but there are benefits to being the big fish in the small pond!

And a new member of the Vintages Essentials has been added – Stags Leap Cellars Napa Cab. Nice wine but expensive ($49.95).  It’s early to say this but the key will be to watch for it as the vintage years begin to change. You can usually get a slight buy (10% off) then.