Thursday, January 23, 2014

Vintages heads to Australia for the first release of February.

Two features start off the February 1 release, Australia and something called new discoveries or some such thing. There’s a limited but good selection of mid priced Aussie standards  and not much in the new finds to tempt me .  Not a brilliant release by any stretch of the imagination but some good wines if you have some holes to fill.

There is some good news though. Jan 25 saw the start of a bin end sale. Among the items reduced in price were the leftover 1500 ML bottles from Christmas. Look for the big bottles of Chateauneuf du Pape, Chianti,  and  the Petalos Mencia to be the best of that lot. It’s a good time to buy them for a future Christmas/ New Year/ BBQ/ family  party.

Best Bets from this release

KATNOOK ESTATE CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2010    440 cases of 6 $29.95 – Among my favourite Australian cabernet sauvignons this one usually exhibits more currants and less mint than many Coonawarra cabs.  Looking forward to a few of these! 
SCHILD ESTATE OLD BUSH VINE GMS   299 cases  $19.95 – From a well known family producer  that seems to have recovered from some questionable conduct of  a few years back.   I like the Aussie takes on this southern Rhone blend and expect this to provide much pleasure.
 MONTIRIUS GARRIGUES VACQUEYRAS 2011     199 cases $27.95 – Clos Montirius is a biodynamic producer in the Southern Rhone. If you value care of the land as well as care in winemaking, this is a great selection.  Montirius is always a little expensive for this named CdR Village (Vacqueyras – Vah-kay-rahs, apparently the s is not silent.),  but the good news is you get what you pay for.  Garrrigues (Gah-reeg) refers to the aromas and flavours imparted by the plants of the Mediteranean basin.  Beneath the big fruit, think subtle rosemary, thyme, floral herbs de Provence type aromas and the same very slightly resinous flavours of the same herbs. This might not be quite as age worthy as their Vacqueyras ‘Le Clos’ but who can wait that long anyway? 
DANDELION LIONESS OF MCLAREN VALE SHIRAZ 2011  639 cases $19.95 – If you like the Lionheart of the Barossa, you’ll probably really enjoy Dandelion’s  take on Shiraz from the McLaren Vale. 
DANDELION VINEYARDS LIONHEART OF THE BAROSSA SHIRAZ   191 cases, half bottles-  $10.95 – Little bottles of what has become a Vintages regular. Solid and classy.  
CH├éTEAU TANUNDA GRAND BAROSSA CABERNET SAUVIGNON    1198 cases $19.95. Big numbers of this big wine.  Doug - This could be a substitute for the Elderton Cab. Partial fruit from vineyards in Eden Valley.
 MONTES ALPHA CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2011    1034 cases  $19.95 –Always  steady and rock solid.  
BENMARCO MALBEC 2012      400 cases $18.95 – If you missed out on the Norton in the previous release, this is not a bad alternative.
JIP JIP ROCKS SHIRAZ 2011 – 505 cases $16.95 – Well priced Aussie option.
Big Bucks
Nothing this time around.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Vintages Jan 18 release - Spain and friends

It’s interesting to recall that last year there were many releases  featuring  other locales but the Spanish components of said releases  oft provided the best wine options.  The primary feature this week is Spain and it’s my opinion that The Vintages crew have done themselves proud with wines in this release. Certainly it seems superior to last year’s Spanish focus.  Also, while this release has a substantial number of tasty Spanish options your choices are not limited to that country. There are many other favourites from old and new world venues as well. 
My preliminary thoughts concerning this release are that it is very good. The VRSS comes in at 66 – 70 points. The QPR of many of the wines adds temptation too.  But, be aware the January sale that I mentioned in the Jan.04 release notes  is a reality beginning on the 25th!

The Picks
Planets de Prior Pons 2009 - $24.95 – 239 cases -  Last year’s was a very tasty wine, a veritable kitchen sink blend but full bodied, fruity, tannins in place. I expect big things here. My premier pick in the release.
Columbia Crest H3 Cabernet Sauvignon 2011 - $19.95 – 556 cases-  A consistently pleasing wine that provides a consistently superior sophisticated flavour profile.
Norton Malbec 2010 - $17.95 – 558 cases - Well priced and great with anything grilled.
Sisters Run Bethlehem Block Cab Sauv 2011 - $16.95 – 639 cases - The Blue Gold Top 100 finish cinches it for me especially at this price point. Try a couple for sure if you can find them.
Hacienda Lopez de Haro Reserva 2005- $17.95 -  659 cases - Looking for a traditional Rioja style wine? Look no further and this one is right in its drinking window if you can’t wait!
Mas Perinet Perinet 2005 - $16.95 – 349 cases – A well priced option right in its drinking window.
The Cantele Salice Salentino Reserva 2009 at $14.95 from Italy  garnered 3 of 3 from Gambero Rosso. At that price it’s worth a flyer!  349 cases.
Finca El Encinal Crianza 2010 – $17.95 – 998 cases – Lots on hand and a big score.

Le Gravillas Vielle Vignes Gigondas 2011 - $24.95 - 329 cases - You just know the Gigondas will make the cut! 
Wakefield Jaraman Cab Sauv 2010 - $24.95 – 335 cases- Wakefield is a superior producer at the sub -$20 price point. That makes this one worth taking the step up to try it. It’s a blend of Clare Valley and Coonawarra fruit so as the review says, you can expect some cassis and some mint.
Cave les Coteaux du Rhone Panicaut Plan de Dieu 2012 at $15.95. 998 cases of 6.Very young but if you leave it alone for a year  you might be pretty happy you spent the bucks.
The Show - $17.95 – 836 cases - Less sophisticated than the H3 but lots of flavour and good with burgers or ribs.
Ontanon reserve 2004 - $25.95 –334 cases
Castello di Querceto Chianti Classico 2011 – $24.95 - 499 cases - A young chianti, fruit forward and ready to drink or hold.
Fattoria La Ripa Chianti Classico Riserva 2009 -$26.95 218 cases – I like the producer.

The Big Bucks
La Perla del Priorat Clos des Fites 2006 – $30.95- 149 cases- 93 points from Neal Martin this crianza should provide similar flavours to the Prior Pons above but be softened slightly by age. Just entering its drinking window.

PALAZZO BRUNELLO DI MONTALCINO 2006 $59.95 299 cases of 6 – 95 points is hard to ignore. ’06 was a superior vintage in the region and this one should just be coming into its own now.