Tuesday, July 30, 2013

August 3rd - I'm hoping there'll be a surprise or two but it doesn't look good!

Aug.03, 2010. The dreary releases of the summer continue with very few selections that make us want to race out and part with our hard earned dollars. Are there any ‘must buy’ wines in this release? In a word, One.
The VRSS staggers in at 54 points.

Pinks and Whites
Alain Jaume Domaine Grand Veneur Cotes du Rhone rosé - $14.95 – As summer rolls on, here’s another nice selection for the back deck.
Ken Forrester Chenin Blanc 2011-$17.95 – Last year’s release was very good. A refreshing, light  accompanyment to grilled tuna, or grilled veggies in goat cheese perhaps.
The Reds
If you’re a fan of reasonably priced Cabs, three leap out at me.
Santa Carolina Reserve de Famiglia Cab Sauv $17.95 (139 cases) and Montes Alpha Cab Sauv $19.95 – (1009 cases)  Two different takes on the same wine from  two different Chilean vintners. Both are good for the price and will accompany anything on the ‘Q.
D’Arenberg The High Trellis Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 - $19.95 – (319 cases) D’Arenberg seems to have fallen on hard times over the last few years. Their Dead Arm certainly does not generate the excitement it once did. The High Trellis continues to provide ample pleasure around the BBQ and is well priced.
Zonte’s Footsteps ‘The Lake Doctor’ Shiraz Viognier 2010 – (639 cases) A bargain at $16.95
Barone Riccasoli Rocco Guiciarda  Chianti Classico 2010 –$24.95  (599 cases) Always a nice food wine. On its own, less than thrilling but with a meal, it shines. Decant it for sure.
Big Bucks
St. Hallet Blackwell Shiraz - $34.95 – (383 cases of 6) Ignore the James  Halliday score, as usual it’s just too good to be true. However, the wine is a big bruiser that’ll provide ample pleasure in the right context and in the right crowd.
Raymond reserve Selection Cabernet $37.95 – Quality from Cali.

Cameron Hughes Lot 257 Cabernet - $34.95. Did you like their Lot 285? If so, try this one. If not, save your $$’s.

Monday, July 15, 2013

July 20th Vintages release.

July 20th  already!!!  Hot and wet means the time passes quickly, I suppose. This week’s primary Vintages  feature is “BBQ and Outdoor Entertaining” wines which I presume will go well with mosquitoes after all our rain. The second feature is Cool Climate Chardonnays.  I think they stretched the limits of what cool climate means in order to put together this group of wines.
The VRSS merits 64 to 68 points. Some “I must buy!” wines in this one and overall it is better than many have been lately. The problem will be finding the 'must buys' in any of the LCBO stores.
Whites, Roses and Fizzies
The Hamilton Russell Chardonnay 2011 is almost a cult chard that comes in at $32.95. Seems like a lot but if the label said Napa, this’d be $65 easy. There are only 150 cases of 6 coming to the province so cuddle up to your consultant, hope the central ordering system graces your local store with a healthy supply, and get there early!
Simonsig  Chenin Blanc at $12.95. Light, but full of flavour, halibut burgers strike me as the perfect match!
Cordoniu Pinot Noir Brut Rose Cava -$16.95 – 879 cases of 6 – From Spain  $16.96 - Bright Pink and fizzy, this’ll accompany spicier foods nicely or work well as an aperitif.
There are a few good reds, many under $20.
Casamatta Sangiovese 2011 – $14.95 – 698 cases - From the renowned and sometimes politically incorrect  producer Bibi Graetz   (if you’ve been to Florence and dined at the Golden View, you’ll know.).  I expect this to be good and disappear fast.  
Columbia Crest Grand Estates Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 – $17.95 – 599 cases – Since I’m in Ontario, at this price  I’d back up the truck except I know that in the next release or two the H3 cabernet will be  making another appearance so I’ll hedge my bets.  I like this wine a lot with anything red.
M. Chapoutier Occultum Lapidem 2010 - $24.95 – 199 cases – nice vintage, quality wine. A WS and RP fave although I prefer others from the region (for less $’s). Inflated score from Parker means you better be ready to fight for this one!
Roman Duvernay Vacqueyras 2010 $26.95 – 349 cases-  Fruit’ll burst from the glass in this rich and fulfilling sample from the southern Rhone.  Let the others fight over the Occultum Lapidem,  you can be quite happy with this option.
Mazzei Baddiola 2010 $18.95 - 599 cases -  A 92 pointer that will do better with food but can also be enjoyed on its own.
Cerro Anon Riserva 2006 - $17.95 – 599 cases-A blend of the best of Spain, tempranillo, grenache and mazuelo, this’ll be full and round with tapas.  
Vizcarra Senda del Oro Roble 2011 - $17.95 –629 cases- Tempranillo from the Ribeiro del Duero, this one is tucked away on its own page and might be the sleeper of the release. Certainly  Mr. Parker raved about it!
Cathedral Cellars Tryptich 2008 - $15.95 – 500 cases of this very popular, well priced, well made, South African red blend.
Small Gully ‘The Formula’ Shiraz 2008 -$18.95 – The number of cases (1669) in this release  is a testament to the popularity of this wine. Big, BBQ burger, grilled anything kind of wine!

Big Bucks
Fantina Cascina Dardi Bussia Barolo Riserva 2004 - $39.95 – With 9 years on it, this one is entering its primetime.  Very well scored by Anthony Galloni.
Domus Vitae Brunello  di Montalcino 2007 – $45.95 - Wonderful vintage. I’m not familiar with this one.
Mollydooker Blue Eyed Boy 2009 - $55.95 – Shiraz, big shiraz. 139 cases of 6. Always scores over 90 in the American wine mags. Not for the faint of heart.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Vintages July 6th Release - The dog days of summer come early?

July 6th Vintages Release provides 4 features – the first is California, the second Pure Pleasure – a white wine compendium of fresh and fruity flavours (Take that you LCBO alliterationists), a Niagara on the Lake tourist feature and last but not least  a page containing 12 limited production/ release Ontario wines. Funny thing about this last one though. These wines ‘won’t be on your Vintages shelves’.  You have to go to the LCBO link in the Vintages catalogue  (well actually you have to go four clicks from the link) to find the stores that might be carrying each of these wines. Really? Whose brain child was this? As of this writing on June 25th, the wines are already in store and available so you can be sure the demand for most of them can be best described as tepid. I think Gord Stimmel wrote about them in last weekend’s Star too.
Back to the wines in the release.  It would appear that this one is a return to the mediocrity to which we have become accustomed.  The release works very hard to score only 64 points in the VRSS.  Those of you pressed for time can turn to page 42 for the best (or is that the only good?) single page in the release.  If they are to your tastes, the five wines on the page should provide good QPR value. In a bizarre Big M tribute (or maybe it was to Darryl Sittler?) two of them were #27 on the Wine Enthusiast’s Top 100 wines of the year for ’11 and ’12.
Kung Fu Girl Evergreen Reisling 2011 – $18.95 – 279 cases - Sweet on the fore palate but with sufficient acidity to balance the sweetness, I quite like this wine. So does my 20 year old daughter.  My wife? Not so much. Buy accordingly.
Chateau Ste. Michelle Indian Wells Cabernet Sauvignon - $25.85 – 167 cases. This one is a favourite of mine in spite of the fact that the LCBO has the Indian Wells Cab overpriced by between eight and ten dollars. Spice, black fruit- currants especially, hints of cedar.
Dandelion Vineyards Lionheart of the Barossa – $20.95- 767 cases- A big Barossa Shiraz that has become quite popular here in Ontario. Peppery, black fruit, nice hints of licorice, and for you visual marketing types, a very classy label.
Mazzei Ser Lapo Chianti Classico 2008 $24.95 – 599 cases of 6 – Well scored, 93 points from James Suckling but remember this is James Suckling, Web Wine Guy, not the JS of the Wine Spectator. The ’06 and ’07 of this wine were very good. You can do far worse in this release.
Pinyolet Garnacha 2011- $17.95 – 499 cases - Grenache, so expect big raspberry aromas and flavours. Mr. Parker’s review reads like one for a big southern Rhone bargain!
Vina Olabarri Gran Reserva 2004 $24.95 – 279 cases - A Rioja for you fans of the genre.
Cameron Hughes Lot 285 Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 - $29.95 – 299 cases – I had to work very hard to find something worthwhile in the Cali feature of the release. This wine could be very good or less than average. At this price it had better be very good.  
There are eight rosés in this release. My picks are two west coast options and an Ontarian. Try  the See Ya Later Ranch Nelly 2011 or the Charles and Charles  2012 rosé or the Featherstone 2012 at $16.95, $15.95  and $14.95 respectively.
BIG Bucks
Spend ‘em if you’ve got ‘em –
Mastrojanni Brunello di Montalcino 2007 – $49.95 - Very well scored and age worthy! Galloni and Suckling liked it a lot!
Xavier Cuvee Anonyme Chateauneuf du Pape 2009 - $59.95 – Parker says 96 points. Give it a few years in a quiet dark place before you try to find out!