Thursday, November 20, 2014

Vintages November 22nd release - another year come and gone almost

November 22, 2014 is usually Vintages Best of the Best release. After the most recent release this one has a lot to atone for and at first glance it does so. From the sub $20’s (barely) to the multi hundred $’s, there is something for most wallets and reasonably good prices and bottles across all price points. Herein, I’ve tried to pick all the ones that are worthy of your consideration. Anything in the triple digits has been ignored – why would I tempt myself?
Whites and Bubblies
LOUIS BOUILLOT PERLE D'AURORE BRUT ROSÉ CRÉMANT DE BORGOGNE   599 cases $19.95  - Looking for a rose champagne?  Save your bucks and dive into this as a stand in. Great with brunch, popcorn, salmon (gravlax, smoked or planked) or just because your palate needs awakening.

 DOMAINE DE FUSSIACUS VIEILLES VIGNES POUILLY-FUISSÉ 2012  179 cases $27.95 or ALAIN GEOFFROY BEAUROY CHABLIS 1ER CRU 2012  299 cases $29.95  – I know it’s Christmas time, but how about a Chardonnay throw down? One of these two from Burgundy, a Hamilton Russell if you have one, the Clos Jordanne and maybe one of Stormin’ Norman’s creations from the county.  


 D'ARENBERG THE HIGH TRELLIS CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2011   447 cases $19.95 – An under rated cabernet and well priced.
GRANT BURGE THE HOLY TRINITY  2011 -  498 cases of 6 $29.95  - As close to a CdP as you’ll find from Australia. Will age well for a few years and is priced close  to where it should be.
WOLF BLASS GOLD LABEL CABERNET $24.95 – From Coonawara, this traditional Aussie  cab shows eucalyptus, black fruit and some hints of licorice.
SANTA RITA MEDALLA REAL GRAN RESERVA CABERNET  798 cases $17.95 – Age worthy, great with roasted or grilled beef or lamb. More loamy -greens and brown flavours in with the black fruit - than the High Trellis or the Wolf Blass.
SEVEN FALLS CABERNET SAUVIGNON2011 - $19.95 – Think of it as an H3 in slightly different clothes. ‘Smart Buy’ earlier this year in the WS, less smart in Ontario due to the LCBO’s pricing.
NOSTRE PAÏS COSTIÈRES DE NÎMES 2012 (Michel Gassier)  237 cases $21.95 – This is the middle priced of the three Costieres de Nimes in the release. Perhaps miscategorized for some nefarious reason, I would have thought this should be with the Rhone entries since other offerings in this release are categorized there. Since 2004 Costieres de Nimes has been in the Rhone. Per Wikipedia, the move of Costières de Nîmes to the regional committee of the Rhône valley was effected in the 19 July 2004 version.  Up until the version of 8 July 1998, which the 2004 version superseded, Costières de Nîmes was assigned to the regional committee of Languedoc-Roussillon.
LES HALOS DE JUPITER COSTIÈRES DE NÎMES 2012  594 cases $16.95 – Same Costieres de Nimes, excellent producer, much better price!
CHÀTEAU DE NAGES JT COSTIÉRES DE NÎMES 2012   238 cases $24.95  - Another Costieres de Nimes but this one knows from whence it came. Also the most expensive.
GRANDS SERRES LES HAUTES VACQUIERES VACQUEYRAS 2012  400 cases $24.95 – I never miss a chance to recommend a Vacqueyras.
M. CHAPOUTIER PETITE RUCHE CROZES-HERMITAGE 2012  196 cases $24.95 – From younger vines surrounding the renowned Hermitage, expect this to be ready sooner. Made with no exposure to oak, it’ll show pure syrah fruit.
PERRIN L'ANDÉOL RASTEAU 2012  443 cases $19.95 – Among the better of the lesser named villages in the Cotes du Rhone Villages, the Perrin family does everything right.
 FINCA CONSTANCIA ALTOS DE LA FINCA 2011   576 cases of 6 $21.95
FINCA EL ENCINALCRAINZA 2010 -$17.95 – 94 points from a panel at Wine and Spirits – my opinion of the wine is not quite that high, but for the price and with tapas or roasted or grilled meats it does come alive.
BODEGA DIVINA PROPORCIÓN MADREMIA 2011   167 cases $29.95 – Don’t spend  your money here. I guess the LCBO thinks we won’t calculate the exchange rate – 15 euros  equal $21.30 Cdn.

FAUSTINO I GRAN RESERVA 2001 12 748 $35.95 – 13 years old and a Decanter number one wine from last year, this was gobbled up earlier this year and I expect the same to happen again. Not a fruit bomb  but even now redolent of red berries, backed by tannins and acid this wine has plenty of stuffing to continue to age gracefully.  Perhaps the buy of the release.

LE CLOS JORDANNE VILLAGE RESERVE CHARDONNAY 2011   309 cases of 6 $30.00  - 5 cents less and it doesn’t get stuck here with the big boys. Too bad.
CUNE GRAN RESERVA 2008   996 cases of 6 $39.95 – Already 6 years old but will be better if aged for a few more, if you can keep your hands off it. A quality Rioja from a quality producer.
TWO HANDS BELLA'S GARDEN SHIRAZ 2012   299 cases of 6 $63.95  - Now back in its sweet spot  points wise (the mid 90’s), Micheal Twelftree and this wine epitomize  everything good about Oz wine. This was the #16 wine in this year’s WS Top 100 Wines. 
BAROSSA VALLEY ESTATE E&E BLACK PEPPER SHIRAZ 2008   79 cases of 6 $89.95 – Huge, brilliant wine but you do have to love those big boys and have lots of $$’s.
CHÂTEAU DE BEAUCASTEL CHÂTEAUNEUF-DU-PAPE 2012   249 cases $89.95 – Among the finer CdP’s every year, this’ll need at least 7 years to open up, and probably more like 10.
DOMAINE DE VIEUX TÉLÉGRAPHE TÉLÉGRAMME CHÂTEAUNEUF    149 cases $49.95 – Vieux Telegraphe’s first wine has gotten crazy price wise (into  Beaucastel territory) so this  their 2nd cru is available. There are better CdP’s around for the $$’s.
LA VITE LUCENTE 2012 (Luce Della Vite) Luce Della Vite   248 cases $34.95 – Luce’s second wine.
TENUTA SETTE PONTI CROGNOLO 2011  299 cases $34.95 – James Suckling gave this 95 points, everyone else gave it 90. You be the judge – I think the lower score is a better indication of the wine.
BREZZA SARMASSA BAROLO 2009 139 cases $49.95 – Tremendous score for a very age worthy wine.
FATTORIA DEI BARBI BRUNELLO DI MONTALCINO 2008  247 cases $49.95 – Well made, slightly more fruit forward yet still a traditional Brunello.
A couple of ISD’s which you may or may not be able to find:
MEERLUST RUBICON 2008 - $33.95 – a South African Bordeaux blend that really delivers. 

CASTELLO DI NIPPOZANNO VIGNETO MONTESODI RISERVA  CHIANTI RUFINA 2010 $49.95 – Priced in Brunello territory, this is a fine vintage of a rarely available wine.  Needs time.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

November's First release is a bit of a dud....

I just checked the calendar. It is November 1st not April 1st !!!! Yet here we are, with about 7 wines   recommended from this entire release!  Seems like a cruel joke - how can we be at this late time in the year and only be recommending 7 wines (with an average price of about $35.00)?  Because, just because.

Next week I’ll take a look at the Vintages Christmas gifts – but they are less inviting! than last year and last year was not a great year.

CHATEAU STE. MICHELLE INDIAN WELLS CABERNET SAUVIGNON     335 cases $25.95  - Roast beef, roast pork, steaks? I expect this to be very good and one of the best buys  in this release.  It is ready to drink now with spice, cedar, currant notes, but flavours will age on the short term into more oaky vanilla and black cherry.


Argentina appears to be the Spain of this release, with quality across a number of price points. The two sub $20 wines are both very good for the money but my recommendation from the release is:

Manos Negras Malbec Atrevida 2010 - $22.95 – Should be right in its drinking window.  It behooves you to pair with anything with hooves (and then hoover it down). Look for this phrase next year in Vintages.

ALVARO PALACIOS CAMINS DEL PRIORAT 2013 321 cases $24.95 – Very young, so give it some time.

VIÑA REAL ORO RESERVA 2009   449 cases of 6  $29.95  - Almost a pick.  Almost.

Expensive for Argentina so it’s in the big bucks, FINCA FLICHMAN DEDICADO 2011 $29.95 – Apparently produced only in exceptional years, this blend reflects the quality that can be achieved. Ageworthy but also ready to drink with some air and some red meat.  I’ll spring for one for that prime rib roast.
CONCHA Y TORO TERRUNYO VINEYARD SELECTION CABERNET  2010 335 cases of 6  $34.95 – Among my favourite Cab Sauvs. To my palate and especially to my wallet this is a better buy than C y T’s  flagship Don Melchor as it is very close to just  as good most years.  

ONTANON GRAN RESERVA 2001   200 cases $39.95

LE VIEUX DONJON CHÂTEAUNEUF-DU-PAPE 2012     148 cases $63.95  - If I were to buy one it would be  just to keep a vertical alive.