Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Vintages Marketing - oxymoron or bunch of morons? The March 2nd release.

The spiffy Vintages release catalogue for March 2nd has among the most glaring goof ups ever, even for the monopoly! The front cover and almost a quarter of a page within has an image of one wine, the Eberle Chardonnay. Is it for sale in this edition? Nope.  Not in the book, not in the stores, not even in the general list. But there it is - front cover all by itself!

What a joke! Who proofs these things?

Forgetting for the moment the cover debacle, let’s look at the March 2 release in more detail. Already two full months are gone in 2013 and to date our friends at Vintages have really whimpered through them.   This release appears to be more of the same – gurgitations if not regurgitations , rehashes, and  rereleases.  California and South Central Italy are the primary features this time around.  It’s also time for another round of Food and Drink ‘$17 that really should be $15’ Specials. Yawn.

Looking for more numbers? This is a 62 point release on the VRSS.

I think the following sub $20 wines  will provide a small ray of sunshine for you this March. Each should deliver if QPR is important to you.

Cave de Rasteau ‘La Domeliere’ 2010 – $15.95 – 1001 cases. Another Cotes du Rhone Villages from the 2010 vintage and one that was a Smart Buy in the WS. The 2010 CdRVs must come to an end but Vintages seems to have pulled a lapin out of their chapeau to bring this one to market. Do watch the local wine writers’ reviews – Beppi,  Stimmell, Winealign, etc. - and if you read a glowing review of this wine, see if the reviewer identifies which lot number he or she tasted.  Michael Vaughan at Vintage assessments is often very good about highlighting the lot numbers he’s tasted in his subscriber based newsletter. This long after the very good WS review there may be a few different lots combined to make up the 1000 cases and the quality can vary wildly from lot to lot. If you find a great one, buy it up. If you get a bad one take it back and check the other boxes/ bottles  in your store to see if there’s a different lot to try.  Or go to another store. The next lot might be far superior.
eMinor Shiraz 2010 - $18.95 – 399 cases - From BVE, this is no Ebenezer, but it’ll be very good and should be adaptable to those early spring BBQs. Save yourself $11 and buy this over the Mollydooker Boxer.
Aldiano Montepulciano d’Abruzzo Riserva  2008 $17.95 – 549 cases- Not to be confused with Vino Nobile de Montepulciano, this’ll be a tasty, busy mouthful of food friendly goodness.  Historically not as sophisticated as Vino Nobile, think of the Abruzzo as  “the Full Monty”  -raucous and loud. It was an editor’s pick in the Wine Enthusiast.
Casale dello Sparviero Chianti Classico Riserva 2009 $18.95 –A WoM so there’ll be lots - 1399 cases.  A well priced Chianti Classico Riserva, expect red fruits , olive notes, some meatiness but without the rich depth and fullness of the ‘06s and ‘07s. A food wine.
Apollonio Copertino Rosso 2007 – $16.95 – 449 cases - Another change of pace - 70% Negroamaro, the balance Montepulciano, Malvasia and Sangiovese. Previous vintages have been nice for the price. Good on its own but also ready to accompany whatever you’re serving from pizza thru eggplant parmesan to spaghetti bolognese. For a casual meal   you won’t go far wrong.

Altamira de Los Andes Reserva Malbec 2009 – $28.95 - 279 cases - From the Uco Valley, this one is a little cher but it’ll be more than good to share.  Red meats call its name – NY strip steak with a peppercorn sauce or maybe cross the ocean and match to bistecca alla Fiorentina!

Mollydooker The Boxer Shiraz 2009 - $29.95 – 223 cases -Cough medicine? Grape Syrup with a shot? Big is too small to describe this wine. Massive perhaps?  Great gobs of fruit, it’ll be teeth staining and palate purpling.  Who knew purple could be a verb?

Big Bucks
SAN GIORGIO UGOLFORTE BRUNELLO DI MONTALCINO 2006 $47.95 – 199 cases– A well praised offering, scored over 90 from all the major reviewers. I’m not familiar with the producer, but it might be worth a shot if only because the 2006 vintage was so good in Tuscany.

California, ho hum.  The good reds are way over my price ceiling. 
The whites? There might be one or two but I’ll take mine from Ontari-ari-ario. “Especially the chardonnay” he said with more than a hint of sarcasm.  

Friday, February 8, 2013

February 16 - Tuscany and Passover - ho hum.

Tuscan Triumphs and Passover Prerequisites – still more alliteration from our moribund monopoly’s marketing mooks and midriffs (ah ha, two can play at that game!). The Tuscan feature is an interesting history lesson but not a compelling reason to spend.  Once again the Passover wines are just that, wines I’ll pass over. Another ho hum release barely scores 62 points on the VRSS.
Best wine for the $ in the release is the Delas Freres Crozes Hermitage Les Launes 2010 – $20.95 199 cases The pick of the release for me. Last year’s and many  vintages  prior have been excellent . Expect  full, ripe, black fruit, hints of pepper and licorice. If you must open now, decant it otherwise give it a year or more in a nice quiet place.
Schild Estate Shiraz 2009 – 499 cases, the inside back cover and 92 points counterbalance the higher price of  $28.95. This winery has been the subject of a number of reports outlining some  questionable conduct concerning re (and re and re)  releases of  their WSTop 10 wine a couple of vintages ago.. Even yours truly chimed in at one point. But the wine always scores well in the WS and has made their Top 100 multiple times.   Expensive and getting more so but next to the pricing insanity that is the Penfold’s lineup (see Bin 389), it appears to be downright cheap!
Palacios Remondo La Montesa 2009 - $17.95 - A real bargain for a Rioja. 349 cases.
Turkey Flat GSM sorry SGM, 2010- $19.95. Full ripe southern Rhone blend from Oz. Unlike last release’s the Strapper, there’s more Shiraz than Grenache this time. Look for a meatier wine with just hints of raspberry.
OK there is a Tuscany feature so I should find a couple to put in the top 10 – my best bets are:
Castello di Querceto Chianti Classico Riserva 2008 – $27.95 Calls out for a multi course Tuscan feast. These wines are so good with food.
Poliziano – Vino Nobile de Montepulciano- 2009 - $25.95- Black fruits, good mouthfeel, very tasty.
Bodegas Balbas Ardal 2005 $16.95 – Ready to drink immediately, this has as much age as it’ll need and should be soft and smooth.
McPherson Basilisk 2010 Shiraz/ Mourvedre 2010 - $18.95 –Based on the image, the bottle appears to be festooned with multitudinous gold medals.  If the wine lives up to half of them this should be pretty good. But look carefully at them to be sure they’re not all from the Humptydoo Tractor Pull and Wine Show.
Luigi Bosca Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 – At $17.95, this is a terrific, crowd pleasing cab value. Burgers are calling from the ‘Q!
Big Bucks
Majella Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 - $36.95 – My choice for the Cabernet of the release. Coonawarra terrior will impart mint and black fruit flavours, not as cassis-y as a Napa Cab but the climate and soils of the region really lend themselves to this grape.
Terre Nere Brunello di Montalcino 2006 - $34.95 – A Brunello at Chianti prices. Among  the buys of the release! Of the other Three Brunelli, I prefer the Altesino – too bad it’s over my price ceiling!