Friday, October 17, 2014

Italy and Chile on Oct. 25th - Bring your wallet!

How can you tell we are into the home stretch for another Vintages year? Because in spite of the inclusion of two “Food and Drink” $17 specials in the release the big $ choices far outnumber the under $30 selections.   The big feature of this week’s release is an upper middle class of Tuscan wines. Oooops sorry, make that ‘Tuscan Treasures’.  It seems the LCBO’s misguided marketing manager associated with and answerable for all alliteration allocations is back. (With Tuscan Treasures to tipple as treats to your tastebuds!).
The second feature is Chile. So many wines that could have been included but weren’t. Ah well.
It’s quite early so I might make a few additions or subtractions – check back closer to the release date for the final picks.
My Top Pick is a Chianti Classico Riserva from Cestello D'Albola ARGENTINA
ALAMOS SELECCION MALBEC 2012 $16.95 -  Above average quality for the price.
MORANDÉ GRAN RESERVA CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2011   2399 cases $17.00 – Look for the typical   Chilean aroma and flavour  profile - earthy with some green notes backed by cassis and black cherry.
EMILIANA COYAM 2011   138 cases $29.95  - An unusual blend of grapes find their way into this biodynamic wine. Most to least syrah, carmenere, merlot, cab sauv, mourvedre and malbec are all included in the mix.   Expensive but different.
FAMILLE PERRIN LES CHRISTINS VACQUEYRAS 2012   249 cases $24.95 – On its own or with almost any   meal this should be great. I’d recommend it regardless.
CHIANTI CLASSICO RISERVA  CASTELLO D'ALBOLA RISERVA 2008 at $22.95 this is a 3 Glass winner from Gambero Rosso.  Counter balancing that is a very good but not quite as good score from Wine Spectator's Bruce Sanderson. That  tells me that you should buy one, try it and then go back for more if it meets your palate's criteria for fine wine.
ROCCA DI CASTAGNOLI CHIANTI CLASSICO 2011   2497 cases $17.00  - Pizza, spaghetti, burgers? It’s  a food wine.
RUFFINO MODUS 2011   797 cases $29.95  -  Usually a  James Suckling favourite
LEONARDO CHIANTI RISERVA 2010     698 cases $19.95 – Another food wine. 
COLUMBIA CREST GRAND ESTATES CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2012 838 cases $17.95 – Barely $10 in the US, this is considered good QPR for the LCBO and that is shameful!
BORDON GRAN RESERVA 2005 - $22.95 – Nine years old and in its prime. Expect delicate tannins and fruit to accompany any tapas you can imagine.

BIG BUCKS – aka Little Italy this week!
SOFFOCONE DI VINCIGLIATA 2011 from Bibi Graetz   An ISD  in the release so not many bottles and at not many stores.  At $34.95 this wine isn’t cheap but given some time it’ll be the perfect thing to accompany a homemade wild boar ragu over pasta or a slow roasted porcetta. Two or Three glasses of this overlooking the Arno made me a convert. Thank goodness it was before my cold set in as it was memorable.   I’ll let you google the origins of the name of the wine and then as a joke you can complain to your MPP about the LCBO promoting vulgarity and loose morals and having lost sight of their social responsibility mandate. In keeping with the name of this wine and the way they blow budgets, it’s time for a new head at the LCBO (a double (or is that triple?) entendre made more amusing when you realize the current one’s name is Bob Peters)! But do be careful  if you have to ask for this wine. Knowing how politically and socially correct Ontario is, you may be charged with sexually harassing your local Vintages consultant.  
GIACOSA BUSSIA BAROLO 2009   298 cases $39.95 cases 


TENUTA SAN GUIDO GUIDALBERTO 2012   191 cases of 6 $52.95 

 ORNELLAIA 2011   Tenuta dell'Ornellaia   442 cases of 6  $189.95  - Too rich for my blood.

  LIVIO SASSETTI PERTIMALI BRUNELLO DI MONTALCINO 2007   299 cases $45.95  - A great vintage in Brunello.

 POGGIO VERRANO CHANCE 2006   297 cases of 6   $37.95  - A new one for me to try perhaps.

 AVIGNONESI VINO NOBILE DI MONTEPULCIANO 2011   162 cases $35.95  - Consistent quality.

And now from the rest of the world
DOMAINE DU VIEUX TÉLÉGRAPHE LA CRAU CHÂTEAUNEUF-DU-PAPE 2012 219 cases $96.95  - This has gotten crazy price wise. I bought the 2004 release  for $40 something! Is it really that much better than two Usseglios? 
DOMAINE PIERRE USSEGLIO ET FILS CHÂTEAUNEUF-DU-PAPE  2010  219 cases $45.95 – Spectacular vintage in the Southern Rhone. This looks like a bargain next to the Vieux Télégraphe above.
 PASCUAL TOSO ALTA MALBEC 2011   200 cases of 6   $33.95 – Should only be $29.95 but is good enough to still recommend it.
 BURROWING OWL MERLOT 2011   278 cases $40.95  - Nationalistic choice of the week.

PENFOLDS BIN 407 CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2011 199 cases of 6  $44.95 – Penfold’s strategy to settle into the upper price points continues.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Better than a turkey of a release in honour of Thanksgiving

Ahhh,  the October 11th,  release. By the time these wines are made available turkey day will be just a few short days (or hours) away. The release features Sonoma and Piedmont but unless you’re spending big bucks I’ve pretty much ignored both of them. My opinion is that better value can be found in wines from regions of Spain, the Southern Rhone, and Oz this time around. As is usually the case, each of the following wines are good now  but will improve if left in a cool dark place for  at least 6 months to a year.

 BORSAO TRES PICOS GARNACHA 2012   $19.95 – This is not your typical Spanish tempranillo. Why? Because it’s 100% Grenache (Garnacha in Spain) and is always very good. Produced in a modern style the black and red raspberry notes come to the front but are supported by soft but present tannins.   
 MURIEL GRAN RESERVA 2004   $24.95 – The recent release of the 2008 reserva from Muriel was highly prized by the Decanter tasting panel and by yours truly.  This time around it’s their Gran Reserva. From a better vintage than the ‘08 and with 10 years on it but less than $25 if you like the flavour profile of mature Spanish Rioja wines, this’ll be for you.
 FERRATON PÈRE & FILS SAMORËNS CÔTES DU RHÔNE 2012   $14.95 – An OK price.  Great with anything from roast chicken to grilled steak.
DOMAINE CLOS DE SIXTE LIRAC 2011 - $24.95 – Annually a favourite from this slightly underappreciated village in the Southern Rhone. A quality producer and excellent short to mid term ager. I had a 2010 a week or so ago.  It was very good – dark red and black fruits, hints of licorice, a touch of kirsch and just a wee bit of herbiness all backed by still present tannins.  I expect the ’11 to be even more approachable.
LES HALOS DE JUPITER VACQUEYRAS 2010   $27.95 – A superior producer and a better to best vintage.  Not cheap for a Vacqueyras but perhaps worth it.
 BRUNEL DE LA GARDINE CROZES-HERMITAGE 2012   $23.95 – Smoked meat, hints of barnyard and black fruit. With some age it’ll taste better than it sounds. 
There are 3  sub $20 Aussies for consideration this week  - CHÂTEAU TANUNDA BAROSSA TOWER SHIRAZ 2011 $18.95, ELDERTON FRIENDS SHIRAZ 2011 $17.95 and  the D'ARENBERG D'ARRY'S ORIGINAL SHIRAZ/GRENACHE 2010 at $19.95.

PIRRAMIMMA SHIRAZ 2011   $24.95- Shiraz fans with an ever so slightly more subdued and perhaps intricate palate will enjoy the always fine Pirramimma Shiraz. This is about the worst score I can recall it receiving from a professional reviewer- this vintage was nothing to write home about – but in spite of that I think this wine will acquit itself quite well.    
SALTRAM MAMRE BROOK CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2012   $27.95  A cab that’ll need some time – and if you must buy a cab, try the John Merriman for a few bucks less.
SAN PEDRO 1865 SINGLE VINEYARD  CARMENERE 2011 - $19.95 – A WOM and good value.
 NK'MIP CELLARS MERLOT 2011   $24.95 – Nationalists take note, the wine is from among the best vineyard locations in the Okanagan, owned and produced by native Canadians working with Randy Picton and is first rate. Black fruit and mocha notes abound.
 RUSTENBERG JOHN X MERRIMAN 2011   $24.95 – A heads up tasting with the Mamre Brook would make for an interesting comparison.
 CATHEDRAL CELLAR SHIRAZ 2011 (KWV)   $15.95 – Always a solid bargain.
ST. HALLETT BLACKWELL SHIRAZ 2010   $39.95  - Disappointed because you missed out on the Ebenezer?  Go for this.   Impenetrable colour, black berry and cherry fruit, and white pepper.
CONCHA Y TORO TERRUNYO PEUMO VINEYARD BLOCK 27   $34.95  -  Carmenere  can be terrific wine. Once thought to be merlot, turns out it wasn’t, this has become Chile’s differentiator and its signature grape.  Roast up some animal protein and try this with it. BUT…Never mind this carmenere, when is the Concha Y Toro Terrunyo Cabernet  going to reappear on the Vintages shelves?
SORBERO CIABOT TANASIO Barolo 2009 - $37.95 – An excellent Barolo and great addition to the release. Lay it down and forget it for some time.
CASCINA DARDI BUSSIA BAROLO 2007 - $35.95 – 93 points from Galloni. Lay it down and forget it for slightly less time.