Tuesday, June 18, 2013

June 22nd Vintages Release - The Southern Rhone, South Africa and Canada Day

June 22nd was hoped to be a superior release if only because it focuses on three recent vintages of wines from the Southern Rhone. By now most of you are aware of my preference for the wines produced there. Sharing the focus this week are a few nondescript South Africaners. The Vintages crew could have done so much better there! Also included are some Canada Day options.
For easy week night suppers or pizza Fridays, it’s hard to beat a good, well priced, Cotes du Rhone Villages. For bigger more special meals, Gigondas or Vacqueyras will always fill the bill. And for the real meal deal, especially if you have a restaurant that will allow you to bring your own wine, a Chateauneuf du Pape from 11 of the last 13 years will give great pleasure. Avoid 2002 and drink 2008 early if you already have it. Otherwise, avoid that year too.

Overall, the release is perhaps the strongest one this year and pointwise it easily makes it into the mid-70's. So let’s dive in and see what awaits us. The southern Rhone options are OK, but two of my  top three value picks  are from Washington St and OZ

Rhones under $30
Of the 2010’s the Domaine Coudoulis Lirac 2010 at $17.95 should be a nice bargain if it comes anywhere near to the Alain Jaume offering from the same village.
The Croix Valong is well priced at $15.95 and should be ready to drink asap.
Among the 2011’s the Ferme du Mont Cotes du Rhone Villages at $17.00 should be $15.00 if the LCBO wanted to fulfill Ontario consumers and not just its coffers.
The Ortas Estellan Gigondas is really well priced at $19.95. I’ll recommend it on price alone.
Domaine St. Gayan Gigondas 2009 - $29.95 – Almost creeping into CNdP pricing, this’ll be nice but for about a buck more you might want to investigate the general list’s Southern  Rhone CndP options.
My  other Southern Rhone picks have slipped into the big buck category so look for them there.
The Other Under $30 reds
Waterbrook Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 –$19.95 -  Until now this is an almost unseen producer here in Ontario. If you like the Columbia Crest Grand Estates or  H3 lines, you should be all over this one!
Three Rings Shiraz 2008 - $19.95 – Among the better buys in the release.
The Hedonist Shiraz 2009 – $23.95 - From the McLaren Vale, disregard the 94 points but do regard the award as Australia’s Best Exported Wine for 2011. Considering over 14,000 wines are exported and all were tasted, this is quite a coup for Walter Clappis.
Peter Lehmann Layers STMG – 2010 – Shiraz, tempranillo, mourvedre and Grenache. At $17.95 this is a worthy choice instead of the Cotes du Rhone s offered in this release.
Finca el Origen Gran Reserva Malbec  2010 - $21.95 – Big burly malbec looking for something red and grilled.
Concha Y Toro Marques de Casa Concha Syrah 2009 $19.95 – Above average syrah – a nice new world counterpoint to the Aussies above.
Chateau Los Boldos Vielles Vignes 2010 – $18.95 and 5 stars from Decanter but Not well known to me. Chilean Cabs can be  an acquired taste – some exhibit green flavours.
Calliope Figure 8 Red 2010 – $22.95- Syrah and merlot from the folks who bring you the hyped and highly priced Burrowing Owl.  Both are a rare sight here in Ontario.
Chateau Maris La Touge Minervois La Liviniere Syrah 2009 - $19.95 – An option for you syrah fans (and old fans of the Yankees or baseball in general )out there. Put the empty above your fireplace and reunite Mantle and Maris! Oh I kill myself sometimes!
Vina Eguia Reserva 2007 - $17.95 - Well priced but not as well priced as it could be. This one was available for $10 in the U.S.

The Whites and Pinks
Vinum Africa Chenin Blanc 2011 - $15.95 – Seeking something different from the normal  Chardonnay or Pinot Grigio options for your summer guests? A worthy option here to be sure! If not, try the following pair.
Flat Rock Unplugged Chardonnay 2012 $16.95 – A fine sample of Ontario fruit – no toast, no smoke, just cold climate fruit.
Sileni Pinot Gris Cellar Selection 2011 - $17.95 – For those fans of Pinot Gris or even Pinot Grigio, here’s a  viable selection to please their palates.
Muralhas de Moncao Rose 2012 - $`12.95, just off sweet and with a touch of spritz to it. Younger palates might enjoy this one.
Chateau Montcontour Cuvee Predilection Brut Vouvray 2010 – $18.95 Not overly dry, this’ll be a nice summer sipper for BBQ’d salmon, shrimp or chicken skewers or on it’s own as an aperitif.
The Big Bucks

Grant Burge Corryton Park Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 – At $32.95 this one creeps into the Big Bucks zone but is worthy of your consideration. Halliday’s score of 96 is probably 3 or 4 points high, but 92 or 93 is still an impressive score.
Of the Chateauneuf du Papes available in the release, ageworthyness seems to be the key to the pricing of them. So if you figure you won’t be around to be drinking them 20 years from now, why bother spending the extra dollars?
Chateau Mont Redon 2009 - $39.95 – Will be ready to drink within a year, or after being decanted for some time.
Vieux Clocher Symphonie Les Galets 2009 – $34.95 - Bigger burly style. No wimpy wine here to be sure.
Between the 2010 Chateauneufs, I’ll go for the Chateau La Nerthe for a few dollars over the Domaine de la Charbonniere. My experience with the La Nerthe is that I have really enjoyed it 8 to 12 years from vintage dates. The Charbonniere? Always good, but not quite so enjoyable.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

June 8th Release - a Quickie summary

In case you wonder, I missed reviewing the May 24th release as I was in Tuscany catching a very bad case of strep throat and a head cold. My sense of smell and tastebuds were shot. Talk about a fate worse than death!  In the middle of wine heaven with no olfactory and gustatory senses. Life can be cruel sometimes!
June 8th release celebrates Argentina, Dad’s Day and Ontario Roses. It’s another dull release with no ‘must buy’ wines.
Alamos Chardonnay 2012 - $13.95 – Hard to go wrong at that price with summer (and spritzers)  in the offing.
Domaine Raoul Gautherin et Fils Chablis 1er Cru 2010 - $28.95 – Up there in price for a white but I might spring for this to accompany some planked salmon.
Rolland Lavanturer 2010 - $19.95 – Nice wine.
The Red Picks
Decoy 2010 -$29.95 – Second label to Duckhorn, this is as good a price as the LCBO as I can recall the LCBO selling  this wine. That’s not to say it’s a bargain, just to say it won’t get much better, pricewise. Special note, for $5 more I ‘d spring for the Girard Cab from Napa.
Chakana Estate Selection Red 2011 - $29.95 – Scoring a 94 from the palate that walks like a man (RP) will not hurt the demand for this red blend. Expect  bigness in every way from the the top cuvee of this good MOR producer. If you can throw a slab of beef on the barbq, you’ll get even more from it!
Les Vignes de Bila Haut Cotes du Rousillon 2011 –$14.95 -  Looking for a nice sophisticated wine under $15? This could be the ticket. From Chapoutier’s Languedoc holdings, annually this is a good buy.
Domaine de la Tete Noir Vacqueyras 2010 - $22.95 – The second recent release from this supplier.

The Big Buck delights
Finca Altamira Navigato Family Reserve 2008 - $46.95 – Interesting to study the scores on this wine a bit. WS gave it an 88, Jay Miller sees fit to plop 93 big ones on it. Another big red blend. If you like Achaval Ferrer’s Quimera and have some disposable income, take a shot!
Ridge Santa Cruz Estate 2009 $52.95 – Think of it as the baby Monte Bello at an almost affordable price. Too bad it’s over my $50 ceiling.

Sebastiani Secolo Red 2007 – Some age on it and although expensive at $42.95, might be worth a look.