Saturday, January 24, 2015

January 24th Vintages, these really are the dog days of winter!

First off, let’s take a quick look at the LCBO Vintages email for this release. It indicates that this week will have Superstars from Argentina and Chile but looking at the selection, these are the Dave Clarksons of South American wine, not the Sidney Crosbys. Buyer beware!

This week does have very few good options  below $20 but if you’re willing to spend more than $30, then there are a few worthy of your attention. Spain continues to be a source of well priced age worthy reds but not many here excite me. It’s not the only country represented in my choices though. France, Italy and the USA all earn mentions in the sub $30 range but not for the right reasons. There are a trio of  higher priced wines that will provide real pleasure for you.
El Molar 2011 - $17.95- Want a wine that you can sink your teeth in to? This is it. (Oh I kill myself sometimes!)  From Spain, this is among the better ones available.

Casas del Bosque Gran Reserva Syrah 2012 – Very nice Chilean syrah from the Casablanca Valley. Here’s looking at you kid.

Zonte’s Footsteps The Chocolate Factory Shiraz 2012 - $17.95 – Hate the producer’s name and the names they call their wines but the wines produced are first rate.

Hedges CMS -$19.95 – Too expensive really, but good nonetheless. Should be $17.95.

Vignobles de Balma-Venitia Cuvee St. Roch Vacqueyras 2011 - $24.95 – A new one for me, but I’ll try it. I like this village in the Southern Rhone.

Chateau Haut –Monplaisir Malbec 2011 -$17.95 –Want to compare a French malbec to the recently released Zolo from Argentina? Here it is, but leave it alone for a few years and serve it alongside something charred, yet red and bloody. Perhaps an earlier season  Game of Thrones episode?

Durigutti Cabernet Sauvignon  2010 - $19.95 – 2 bucks more than the Ravenswood, this is a better buy!

Ravenswood Cabernet Sauvignon $17.95 – Usually a well priced example of non Napa Cali fruit, this is nowhere near past examples but is an OK $13.00 wine.  Too bad it’s priced 5 bucks above that.

Big Bucks
Luca Malbec 32.95 – From Laura Catena and this year it made it to #19 in the the WS Top 100. The Luca brand is nestled above the Catena brand  in the upper middle of their marketing scheme and is quite excellent. Their  Chardonnay has been  one of my favourites for quite some time as well. This is as close to a superstar as there is in the release!
Gemma Barolo 2010 - $29.95 – Looking for a Barolo but don’t want to break the bank? Here’s another one hot on the heels of last release’s $32  one.
Chateau Fortia Cuvee du Baron Chateauneuf du Pape 2012 - $39.95 – If you have 5 years and a quiet dark place, this is the wine to buy.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

January 10th 2015 Release - Cheapies

January 10th and the new year starts with the traditional Vintages Smart Buy issue. In many cases you will be further ahead to watch for upcoming price reductions on higher quality, slower moving in store items than to buy from this collection. Which reminds me, as a tax paying citizen why do I have to rely on my local Vintages consultant to put up sales item signage when items are discontinued? Why can’t I find out the week or two before? Given ample patience and a few clever search keys, we used to be able to search the LCBO B2B website to freely see upcoming delists the week before the reductions took effect. At least then we were free to strategize our shopping to pick up the few true LCBO bargains available. (This has to be one of the few times where free, bargain, and the LCBO are used in the same sentence). But for at least a year now, my government’s retail monopoly has chosen to hide that info behind its firewalls. The info seems to be made available to a select few. Some websites seem to be able find the info and then use it as a carrot to sell access and to make a profit. Hmmm, they get access to the info and sell it to make a profit while you and I can’t access it to save ourselves a few measly bucks.  Life with the LCBO, ain’t it grand?
The RED selections
Poggio al Tuffo Rompicollo 2011 -$17.00 – Interesting how two reviewers can differ on a wine. Wine Advocate scored this one 87 points, Wine Spectator  92 points. Both reviews are positive but if your palate matches the WS reviewer’s then this is a well priced WS Top 100 wine.
Zolo Reserva Malbec 2011 – Another 2014 WS Top 100 wine but the LCBO had chosen to stealth release this one for some reason. At $17.95 you can do a lot worse, especially if you’re serving rare, grilled red meat on a platter.
Columbia Crest H3 Merlot - $19.95 – Consistently very good if you like ‘em woody (lots of oak).
Concha Y Toro  Serie Riberas Cabernet Sauvignon - $17.95 – A well scored, well priced, bargain from one of Chile’s  premier producers across all price points. Look for green and brown aromas and flavours  backing up dark purple fruits.
Puig – Parahy Cuvee Georges 2011- $16.95 – New to me and with a very interesting review from David Schildknecht, this seem like it’s worth a try – a red wine with Shrimp on the nose and Swiss Chard on the palate. Hmmm.
The White selections
Mulderbosch Chenin Blanc $14.95 – tasty and a change from Pinot Grigio or Chardonnay.
Wakefield from Oz and See Ya Later Ranch chardonnay from the Okanagan. Both under $18.
Big Bucks

Barolo – La Pieve - $31.95 –2010 – Perhaps one of the better Barolo vintages on record, some Barolophiles have been ignoring the last few vintages awaiting this one. Remember what I said about the 2010 vintage in the Southern Rhone? Well, it now applies to Barolo. This is not for immediate consumption though. Even at almost 5 years of age, this’ll enjoy a few more years in a quiet, dark place.