Wednesday, September 25, 2013

September 28 - The First of Fall - Tuscany, Turkey and Chile (but just barely)

September 28th  and it’s the first release of fall. Three features this time around, the first  focusing on Tuscan options but wait, didn’t we just focus on Italy? As a tribute to the upcoming World Series, the second  feature is little more than a bunt sign of a feature on Chile - What, you blinked and missed it?  How can you tell this is a wine retailer run by government bureaucrats?  Four pages that sell nothing accompanied by  one page with one wine and one page with four out of the six pages devoted to Chile.  How perfect that the next page has a big turkey on it. I thought it was an editorial comment on the Chilean feature but it's actually the first page of the Thanksgiving one.
Looking at the cover when I first received the release, I thought “This’ll be very good”.  Upon further review, it’s not. It’s OK. There are some worthy wines, three sub $25 Cabs. I think you’ll find them tempting if your palate aligns with mine. They are definitely three different, new world perspectives on the Cabernet Sauvignon grape (sometimes with a little help from its friends).

Back to the turkey, I think the best wine to serve with it is not in the feature but rather is the $25.95 Stellar’s Jay from Sumac Ridge.  Is that Carole Pope I hear off in my subconscious? “Birds of a feather, flock together.  Yes they do, Yes”  Whoa, here comes a Nona Hendryx flashback too! The wine has enough acidity to cut the rich gravy yet with fruit to match nicely to the raisins and apricots in your stuffing.

The VRSS says 62-64 points again. On to the picks!

The Best Reds
LaPostolle Cuvee Alexandre Cabernet Sauvignon 2011 - $24.95 –  Tied for my number one pick  in the release. Tuck it away for a few months to allow it to settle and to get the best from it.  An Excellent wine – almost on par with the Concha Y Toro Terrunyo cab and about $5 less.
Gallo Frei Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 - $19.95 – At this price I had to look twice to see if this was the 375ml bottle. Turns out it’s not! If you like red and black fruit followed by flavours of smokey tar on the finish then this is for you. Tied for numero uno in the release.
Pirramimma Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 $24.95 – Among my favourite Aussie producers, their Shiraz, Petit Verdot and Cab are always first rate. Black fruits galore here!
Capezano Barco Reale di Carmignano 2010 - $16.95 – Underpriced for the quality. Worthy of your consideration. A cab / Sangiovese blend.
Tenuta di Trecianno Daniello Toscano 2008 -$29.95 – Decant this bad boy, or drop it in the cellar and forget it for a few years. Even decanted this one is probably not for immediate consumption.
Beronia Elaboraccion Especial Tempranillo 2010 - $!7.95 – Very tasty option from Spain. Always very good and aimed at a more global palate. Smooth fruit.
Luis Canas Crianza Rioja 2009 - $17.95 – Will benefit from some time in a cool dark place.
Fattroia Carpoli Sada Integolo 2010 – $18.95 - New to me but well scored and priced.
Oscars Estate Vineyard Shiraz Viognier 2010 $17.95 – Recommended in spite of Nathalie Maclean’s dreadfully overblown  review. This might be a 90 pointer. Shiraz with a touch of viognier to round out the aroma and flavour profiles.
Dirty Laundry and Burrowing Owl Merlot 2009 – In each case I think you can buy them direct from the winery.  Consider that option and think of it as your opportunity to make a political statement.
Chateau du Cedres 2009 - $21.95 – A malbec from Cahors, this is a terrific producer and given the quality of the vintage, this should be a very good, old world take on the grape.  Needs some time. Expect tannins, and black fruit.
Chateau Maris Las Combes  Minervois Cru La Liviniere 2009 - $25.95 – A Southern Rhone type blend. This should be nicely in its drinking window. Expect smoky  red fruitiness, or is that red fruity smokiness?

Big Bucks
Don Melchor Cabernet Sauvignon $79.95 – Good news and Bad news.  The good news, this is an exceedingly  high quality wine from Concha Y Toro and if it was from California it’d be $100. The bad news, it’s from Chile and not so many years ago it was under $45. Vintages Classics now has the 2003 listed for around $120. That’s insane! Save your bucks and if your Cab Sauv must be Concha Y Toro, buy the aforementioned Terrunyo when it becomes available.
Paul Hobbs Crossbarn –$47.95 -  A nice cabernet, this one seems to have jumped about 10 bucks(ok, $8) in a year. Maybe that’s where half the Frei Ranch markup went!
2 Brunellos ( Brunelli?), both in the $40 + range, but neither really excite me.
2 Hands Lilly’s Garden Shiraz -$59.95 – One of the Garden series wines from 2 Hands. Annually a very, very, good wine.

Ridge Three Valleys 2011 - $35.95 – A California Blend, the majority zinfandel, great for beef or anything grilled.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

September 14 - Ontario wines and the end of summer

September 14 release. Sorry for the late posting but I was in BC for a week enjoying the sunshine, wines,  golf, kayaking, as well as some fine fish and seafood. 
Yes this is the last release of summer 2013. Is it a worthy release for this auspicious occasion? Nah! It appears to be just much more of the same from our friends at Vintages. It gratuitously presents wine writers opinions of Ontario wines (Here’s the Coles notes version  -  ‘Please look at me, experts say I’m special’). The release also presents  a nice little restaurant travelogue in a ‘Come eat here cuz I like Ontario wines’ kind of way.  I thought that the LCBO was selling beverage alcohol, not pimping restaurants.  Wait a second,  why not do an equivalent article pimping Ontario wine bloggers? Blog traffic skyrockets, Google Bucks start flowing in! We can turn our blogs into money making enterprises and not have to worry about all that restauverhead (see what I did there?).  As a mystery blogger  I’ll pose for a pic perched before my PC  in my gonch and motorcycle helmet swirling a nice Cabernet and looking every bit the world weary, motorcycle riding, wine aficionado that I think I am!  Also, I’ll appeal to the 1%’ers out there which will help to satisfy the LCBO’s quest to appeal to minorities. Can’t get more minority than that! 
Back to the release!  A few interesting wines. Most of the balance, uninspiring.
In spite of the paucity of recommended wines, the few I liked, I really liked so the VRSS score is 62-64 points.  
Norman Hardie PEC Chardonnay 2011 $35.00 – I love the county and it’s my blog so I can like this wine if I want to!  And I do want to! This has become a cultish icon among Canadian wines and is priced accordingly.  Stormin’ Norman should go into the Canadian Wine Hall of Fame for no other reason than Matt Kramer’s WotY mention. That little paragraph introduced (exposed?) Norman’s wine to the world (well to the US anyway).  By simple geographic proximity, all of PEC has benefited.  Is it a great wine?  Try it heads up against a good Chablis or Pouilly Fuissé and you be the judge.   
Alain Jaume Vacqueyras Le Grand Garrigue 2010 – $24.95- On August 25th I had a bottle of the 2009 vintage from an earlier release (at $22.95 by the way).  It was served at home with an opener of saganaki, then ably accompanied  spicy lamb skewers with an equally spicy tahini sauce alongside the Mediterranean flavours of fresh oregano and peppery olive oil on a feta and tomato salad. The spiciness of the lamb/ tahini brought out the pepperiness of the 20% syrah in the Vacqueyras blend. And of course 2010 was a gold star vintage. While ready to drink anytime, you can certainly give this a few more years in your cellar. I’ll pick up more than a few of this one, even at this price!
Mas d’Auzieres Les Eclats 2007 – $17.95- Really? 2007? Brother to Sypathie pour les Stones  which  was a recommended wine a year or so ago. This one should give you a good idea of how your Midi 2010’s will be in a few years time. I think the vintages are similar. This of course assumes that you were and are able to keep your hands off your samples from the later vintage.  I was not!  I do recommend you  consume this ’07 in the near future.
As in the previous release, Spain has come to the front with an apparently  terrific selection of wines. The one that appeals most to me is the Bodegas LAN Gran Reserva 2005 at $28.95.
Big Bucks
Ste. Michelle Ethos – Wow, Part One. $44.95. It might be worth it BUT I had a bottle of the previously recommended Ste. Michelle Canoe Ridge Cabernet at almost $10 less than this and it was sooooo good.  Rich, mouthfilling, lot’s of spice, cedar , black currants and other black fruit.  It was a natural combination served with rare filets, baked potatoes and  caesar salad. So, I repeat, $44.95? Rather than buy two of these I think I’lI just buy 2 more Canoe Ridge and an H3 until they’re gone. Another enticing option for a left coast cab might be last release’s Beringer Cab at $49.95.
M. Chapoutier  La Bernardine 2010 - $49.95 – Wow, part two! Too much $’s. There are lot’s of 2010 CdP’s around for much less.
Jim Barry The McRae Wood Shiraz 2008 - $56.95 – Wow part three! Top of the line price for a top of the line Aussie Shiraz. Give it some air. Rare though, it’s an ISD.

Corte Pavone Brunello Di Montalcino 2007 - $49.95 – 96 points from Monica Larner. Not cheap but hard to argue with the score.