Thursday, March 20, 2014

March 29th - Vintages 'Spring has sprung' release

The feature of this release is Thirty Reasons to love Vintages. Oh brother! So typical of a government operation to toot its own horn.  If they can give us thirty reasons to love them, they must be doing a good job, right?  Suuuure.  Reading through the thirty reasons my first thoughts were that the propaganda  ministry has been hard at work and that this might be the first Vintages catalogue that  could be considered a work of fiction.  Somehow I think it would be much easier for us to come up with more than thirty one reasons to not love the LCBO.  
This release comes hot on the heels of the previous ‘California release for the wealthy’.  This one could be California for the middle class.  Am I enthused?  Not especially by the release but for me there is one wine that I’ll buy.  It’s relatively well priced, has some age on it and comes in just under $25. OK ok, I have now found one reason to like Vintages this week.
The Reds
The wine that interests me the most in the release? Domaine Montirius Terre des Ainés Gigondas 2007 - $24.95 – This is the entry level Gigondas from Montirius.  A wonderful vintage, nicely aged, from a very good,  biodynamic producer. This should be everything you could want to accompany grilled or roasted fowl, lamb or beef. It’s in a perfect place right now and will be for another few years. On the nose it could be meaty and a little funky early on but that funk should blow off. On the palate expect dark fruits, lots of herby notes,  hints of licorice and a nice finish. 80%Grenache and 20%mourvedre, from vines at least forty years old but some that were planted as early as 1925.
The Black Chook 2012 -$17.95 – Shiraz viognier blend. Want  your wine bottles to be dressed up like Idi Amin or Augusto Pinochet?  Then this is the vino for you. The bottle image is sporting more medals than the leader of a third world military junta; this wine is probably terrific for the price but the medals are a bit much, aren’t they?  Especially if they’re for Kangaroo Crossing’s annual  Sheep Shearing and Wine Festival.  Tone ‘em down boys and girls. Yes the wine  scores 90’s from anyone who reviews it so, if you like the style,  you will get what you expect for your dollars. Fans of the Formula should step up for this Aussie take on a Cote Rotie blend.
Wakefield Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 - $17.95 – Always high quality and very well priced. Decoration wise,  the bottle is not quite in the Pinochet range. 
Cathedral Cellars Shiraz 2009 - $15.95 – Think of this product line as a South African, slightly  less expensive, Wakefield.
Yalumba The Strapper GSM 2011-$19.95 – An Aussie GSM that’ll be tasty around the BBQ this spring.
Santa Rita Medalla Real Carmenere 2009 - $17.96 – Smokey, merlotesque wine from Chile. A nice departure from Cab Sauv if you’re grilling burgers or saucisses.
From California, a few sub $30 Cabernet options:
Chateau St. Jean at $29.95, Napa Cellars 2011 Cabernet at $25.95, Rutherford Ranch 2011 at $21.95 all are pleasant alternatives offering plenty of fruit including black cherry and cassis as well as some cedar nuances. All are ready for immediate consumption, the St.Jean will age.
The Whites and Rosés
Darenberg Hermit Crab Viognier/ Marsanne 2012 -  $19.95– an Aussie take on a white Rhone blend. It’s not as good as the written review, but it’ll be a nice change.
Jip Jip Rocks unoaked Chardonnay 2012 - $15.95– well priced, no butter, all fruit.
Kim Crawford 2013 Pansy – $17.95 - From the well known New Zealand  producer,  this rosé is just off   dry. It was originally developed for and targeted at the gay market in New Zealand and Australia -  hence the tongue in cheek name (oh what a bad pun that one is!). It’s a nice patio wine for those first warm days of spring when the sun is shining and this damn winter is but a fading memory. 
The Big Bucks
Beronia Gran Reserva 2006 - $34.95 – The delights of Spanish wines! If this was from Bordeaux it’d be twice the price. From a more modern than traditional producer, this one is almost eight years old and should be in a very nice place right now.  Serve with tapas, hard cheeses, or grilled anything.
Gemma Giblin Riserva Barolo 2006 - $40.95 – Superior review from Decanter, well aged already and not a bad price for a Barolo.

Ringbolt 21 Barriques Cabernet Sauvignon – 44.95 – The Ringbolt  $20 Cab is a  perennial Ontario favourite in the $20 and under  range and is from Yalumba’s Margaret River property. The 21 Barriques  might take them to another level  as their  top priced option . It’s named for a parcel of exceptional quality that produces about 21 Barriques annually. I suppose it might be worth a try  to see how it compares to their regular bottling but  two of their regular cuvée for the price of one of these makes it really hard to justify.   

Friday, March 7, 2014

March 15th - a California gold rush and Hand Crafted wines

Saturday, March 15, 2014 – California wines and Hand Crafted wines are the features. That means grab your wallet, get there early and be ready to watch some wealthy guys whining!  You see, California means huge bucks and some cultish wines. Dominus scored 100 points, Pahlmeyer has a name, the Beringer in this release is renowned. But holy smokes, these are expensive wines and it’s not Christmas!  The Dominus order was reduced, the price was bumped up and there just won’t be enough! I’m going to see if I can get an empty Dominus box, close it up and just put it in a cart and walk around one of the big stores with it. What fun that'll be.
Without a winning lottery ticket I can ignore California completely so overall it’s a pretty unexciting release. It does have one must buy for me though along with one or two old favourites and perhaps a couple that are worth taking a flyer on.
 The VRSS is a deceptive 54. For me, there is only one ‘must buy’ but there are a few good wines to fill in holes in your cellar.
The Reds
Chile -  SANTA CAROLINA RESERVA DE FAMILIA CABERNET  SAUVIGNON 2010  949 cases of 6 $18.95 –the Santa Rita reserva/ this one/  the Marques de Casa Concha – the three Chilean Cabs are interchangeablely good. 
France Midi - MAS D'AUZIERÈS LES ÉCLATS 2009  545cases $18.95 – Right in its drinking window and a nice Southern Rhone blend from the Languedoc.
South Australia - THORN-CLARKE SHOTFIRE QUARTAGE 2011 334cases $21.95 – Use one word to describe it?  Ok, opaque.
South Australia - YALUMBA SHIRAZ 2012 571cases $19.95 – An Underappreciated vintner.
Spain – Senorio de los Baldos 2009 - $19.95 -  A more modern take on things from Ribera del Duero region of Spain.
Spain – Lacrimus Crianza 2009 -$18.95 – Rustic means tannic and drier.  This is a wine for laying down and avoiding.  Give it time.
South Africa - RUSTENBERG RM NICHOLSON 2010 237cases $19.95 – A nice SA take on a Bordeaux blend.
USA - RODNEY STRONG CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2009   798cases $21.95  - Solid Sonoma cab.
Whites and Fizzies
SOUTH AFRICA - MULDERBOSCH CHENIN BLANC 2011 281 cases $14.95 – I really enjoy Mulderbosch Sauv/ Blanc and Rose.  I also enjoy South African Chenin Blanc. So I figure this is a sure bet.
WASHINGTON STATE - CHARLES & CHARLES CHARDONNAY 2012 335cases $15.95 – A Tasty, well priced alternative.
ITALY - ROTARI ROSÉ   437cases of 6  $17.95

TUSCANY - CASTELLO DI AMA CHIANTI CLASSICO RISERVA 2009 200 cases  $35.95 – While visiting Italy last year  we enjoyed a bottle of the 2007 vintage of this wine. It was among the very best wines of our two weeks there, so good that I sought it out to be one of the wines that we brought back in our suitcases. As good as the ’07 was, I expect this vintage to be even better but not because ’09 was a better vintage to grow grapes. Rather it'll be better for the grapes that have gone into the bottle.  For the 2009 vintage, the Di Ama CCR  includes the grapes that would normally be used to produce their very expensive single vineyard bottlings. At $36 I know it seems expensive for a CCR but compared to the prices of their single vineyard options it's a screaming bargain. A bargain that I expect  to be every bit as good and as ageworthy as many a Brunello.  Give it some time in the dark - but if you must open it sooner, do aerate and decant.

Ridge Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 - $60.95 – Too bad this one is over my own self imposed price point. $12 less and I’d buy a couple. By the way, it’s sold in Italy, France and Germany for $15 less than here! Don’t even look at the US prices.
Dominus, Beringer, Pahlmeyer – not a chance.