Thursday, January 31, 2013

Vintages February 2 - A good time to save some bucks!

This week’s main feature is called Signature Study, the selection of the signature grapes from a number of new world wine producing areas or countries. The presentation is pretty much as you would expect, big reds from Chile, whites from Ontario, as well as a red and white each from California, Argentina and Australia. I’m sure you can guess from which grapes the latter three reds are made.  The second feature is more fizz.
Looking for the positives, this is a release that makes one very happy because there is little temptation to spend much money! It scores an estimated 61on the VRSS.
The Whites
There are three inexpensive white options and they may be among the better QPR’s in the book.
Man Vintners Chardonnay $13.95 From South Africa, very well priced and a real mouthful.
Bestheim Reserve Pinot Gris 2011 -$14.95 – A gold medal winner but just dry so expect a slight sweetness to it.
Château de Pocé Touraine sauvignon blanc 2011 $13.95 Another Gold medal winner at a bargain price. This Sauvignon Blanc just shouts “Oysters anyone?”.

The Reds
Domaine Grand Veneur Les Champauvins Cotes du Rhone Villages 2010. - $18.95- A single vineyard offering from the domaine, this one delivers almost everything a good Gigondas or Chateauneuf might except the price. Expect the cognoscenti to rush for this one.

Yalumba  The Strapper GSM 2010 - $19.95 – I’m a big fan of the southern Rhone blends from almost anywhere but especially Oz. This one will deliver for you. Think of it as your favourite expensive Cotes du Rhone Villages  from a very hot vintage! Not huge, but big enough to hold its own.  Grilled or roast chicken is calling!

Jip Jip Rocks Shiraz 2010 - At $16.95 this one’ll be a good option for casual get togethers and BBQ’s come the summer. Mmmm, Lamb burgers!

Also, both Chapel Hill offerings should also be very very good in this release.
Cabernet Sebastiani Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 -$19.95 – Doesn’t get the high score of the KJ in the big buck options, but it’ll always please a crowd.
Suzanna Balboa Signature Malbec 2010  -$19.95– A rerelease methinks. The score is too high but it’ll be very good.
Tarapaca Gran Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon $16.95 – A well priced offering from the Maipo Valley. The Maipo  has always been among my favourite areas for Cabs from Chile so it’s worth trying.  I expect some coarseness to accompany the black fruit.
Les Halos de Jupiter 2010 Costieres de Nimes. $14.95 - Ah the geography lesson of last month paid off! Well priced for a fruity, pleasing blend.
Hecht and Bannier Cotes du Roussillon Villages 2010 - $23.95 – H&B is among the highest quality producers in the Midi. You’ll be happy with this bad boy but the two options from the Southern Rhone for $5 to $9 less will be just as good.
Stefano Farina Solers La Bocce 2009 – Italy, at $15.95 and well scored by Bruce Sanderson in the WS, this one could be a terrific accompaniment to rich pasta dishes.
Beronia Reserva 2008 - $18.95 – Spain,  High quality and always very tasty but I take umbrage with the Vintages Panel’s quote that it “really delivers for the price”. Sorry but this one really delivered when the price was $2 less. Now it just delivers.
The Big Buck Options
Tour de L’Ile Chateauneuf du Pape 2010 – $39.95 Another long lived option from the fabulous 2010 Vintage, this can be enjoyed early with sufficient decanting or some red meat to cut the tannins. Big and bold to be sure but this is one that I’d consider taking a pass on and trying the Clos Du Calvaire for $11 less.
Chappellet Signature 2009 - $68.95, I love  Chappellet’s wines, but this is just too much for what you’re getting. If you check out Vinopedia, you’ll find two and a half pages of retailers listed before you even hit the $50 mark.  The scary thing is, this’ll sell. But not to me!
Kendall Jackson Jackson Hills 2007 – $44.95. Hmmm, interesting review. Calls it young and yet says just drink though 2013. Seems at odds with itself. I’m at odds with the price.
Ebenezer Shiraz 2007 - $40.95 – After pushing against the $40 ceiling for so long, this big brute has finally broken  through it. Is it worth it? Only your palate can tell for sure but it is a huge mouthful of black fruit, pepper, hints of mint and alchohol.  
Tenimenti Angelini Val di Suga Brunello di Montalcino 2007- $49.95- From a wonderful vintage in Tuscany, this one is probably one of the best of the big buck options.
Cirrus Syrah 2007- At 33.95 this one is expensive for a wine whose ‘best before date’ from James Molesworth was last year. Take that part of his review with a grain of salt, but if you do buy, be advised you might not be buying for a 5 yr. rest in the cellar.

Friday, January 25, 2013

BP goes slumming on the General List and finds a gem and a gold star for a Vintages consultant

Clos du Calvaire from Domaine du Pere Pape 2010 – I recently opened the 2007 vintage of this wine (purchased from Vintages a number of years ago) and thought it was splendid. So when I saw the 2010 for under $30 at my local LCBO, I had to jump in and try one. The 2010 vintage of this Chateauneuf du Pape has to be among the best buys on the General List at the LCBO right now.   Decanted for an hour or so, it shows a slightly reticent nose with hints of funk that leads to forest floor. That soon gives way to cassis and then ganache notes. On the palate, it’s fruit driven with cassis/ black berries and red raspberry notes.  It finishes nice and long with olive and licorice notes supporting the fruit, but is also possessed of enough acidity to accompany the richest of dishes (slow cooked lamb shanks perhaps). At $28.95 this is every bit as good as CdP’s costing $6 to $11 more.  It should sell like crazy but it seems to be oh so  cleverly concealed in plain view on the general list.  It’s nice to find a well priced wine that is available for more than two weeks, will age for years but can also be enjoyed now. I stocked up on it.  Above are my tasting notes, now let's do the math. At about half the price of the brilliant 2010 Vieux Donjon and I’d say at the very least 96% as good, it would seem a no brainer!  Seek one out and let me know if you concur. BP gave this bad boy 92 points and I feel it'll only improve over the next 3 to 7 years given proper storage. It'll age much longer but my palate seems to like these best around that age.

Planets from Prior Pons in the Priorat region of Spain earned my local consultant the gold star. At $22.95 and from the Jan.19 Vintages release, this was not among my recommendations last week but should have been! At the suggestion of my local Vintages consultant Anna, I tried a bottle of this. It’s a fabulous wine! Accompanying osso bucco, we had it immediately following a bottle of Il Greppo Greppicante 2007, which if memory serves me correctly was a WS Top 100 wine. The Planets was head and shoulders above it in quality of (warning: LCBO alliteration alert!) fruit, fullness, and finish. This Spanish blend was a standout. Thanks to Anna for her suggestion! 

Monday, January 14, 2013

January 19 - A few Spanish bargains and more

The January 19th release features a number of options priced in the under $20 range from that bastion of bargains, Spain. Also featured, but at a far higher average price point is the Okanagan. Regardless of whether or not my wallet was beaten to within an inch of its life over Christmas and New Years (it was ) only three wines make my ‘must buy’ category.  While there might be other options available, these three really stand out to provide a combination of value and quality.  

The release scores 62 on the VRSS. Below in order are the wines that interest me.

Columbia Crest H3 Merlot 2009 – $19.95 Ripe, hints of black cherry, chocolate, vanilla, coffee. From Columbia Crest’s  renowned Horse Heaven Hills (H3)  vineyards. I really enjoy this merlot.
Borsao Tres Picos Garnacha 2010 – $19.95 My top pick from the Spanish entries, this Grenache comes from a terrific producer. Do you like raspberry? Wait for it, you’ll get it.
Les Hauts de Castellas 2010 Vacqueyras – $19.95- I expect we’re getting near the end of the entries from the Southern Rhone’s brilliant 2010 vintage so buy some while you can.
Luzon Seleccion 12 Meses  Crianza 2008 – From the South of Spain  so loaded with fruit (and like the wine below, an  unusual  Crianza for us). Among all the Spanish 90 pointers, this one is a real 90 point wine, not a Jay ‘Captain 90’ Miller 90 point wine.  
Solar de Sael  Crianza Mencia 2007 from Bierzo. Made from Mencia grapes so don’t expect your normal Spanish Crianza. Unlike most Spanish Crianzas we see this is not tempranillo.  Crianza refers not to the region or the grape but rather to the amount of time the wine spends in wood prior to bottling – one year.
Heartland Shiraz 2009 - $19.95 – Usually not so mouth filling and unctuous as their Director’s Cut, this one should be pretty good nonetheless.
Domaine Tournon Shay’s Flat  Shiraz 2010 –$29.95  From Michel Chapoutier’s multinational wine oligarchy, this Aussie option scores and fits into the Parker style very well.  95 points? I doubt it, but it’ll be good and there are many others that are far more expensive and not nearly as good!
MollyDooker the Maitre D’2010 – $29.95 - Massive Cabernet fruit from Southern OZ. Very close to jammy!  
Edge Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 $26.95 – A Cali cab without pretense but still with the ‘more than it’s worth’ price tag. Enjoyable but $21 or $22 is an accurate reflection of the contents of the bottle.
Wakefield Shiraz 2010 - $17.95 – Wakefield produces perennial quality bargains regardless of the grape. The Wakefield Shiraz from the Clare Valley may pack in some nori notes as well as everything in the review. If you’re a fan of older style Bin 61, you might enjoy this at 7 or 8 dollars less.
Marceau Chateauneuf du Pape 2009 - $34.95 – If this was the Marcel Marceau CNdP, could I say a word about it? Has anyone had this producer before? Not me, so I am intrigued enough to mention it and perhaps buy one.