Wednesday, March 25, 2015

April 4th, Happy Easter, may the bunny bring you egg-cellent wines!

Two releases ago it was Tuscany, this time around we’re off to Venice. If you’re a fan of the styles of the region, go for them. The Zenato Valpolicella is always solid but I would definitely pick a few wines from other regions that are in this release before that one. Among the reds, two Spanish, two French, then one each from Italy, Greece, OZ and Wahington St. make the grade. 

My picks, in order this week.
Muriel Reserva Vendimia Seleccionada 2008 - $18.95 – If it’s the correct wine, it was Decanter’s number 8 wine from 2013, and was terrific when previously released (last year). For under $20 it’s a thought provoking wine on its own that becomes even better with food.  Tapas here we come! Only concern is this is the second LCBO release of this wine and sometimes they’re not quite so good the second time around….. just sayin’.
Alain Jaume Clos de Sixte Lirac 2012 - $24.95 – Always superior and although ready to drink with some decanting, this one will be even better in a year or two. Look for black fruit on the palate, licorice hints on the finish. I wish it was a few dollars less, but don’t I always?
Mazzei Ser Lapo Chianti Classico Reserva 2011 - $24.95 – Young but always first rate if you are patient enough. Do give it some time though.
Finca Villacreces Pruno 2012 - $21.95- If I recall correctly, two years ago this flew off the Vintages shelves. Last year it was almost as good but was a slower mover comparatively speaking. It’s all in the review I guess. Vineyards right next to Vega Sicilia, the Spanish equivalent to a Bordeaux first growth, it should be good over the next 5 or 6 years.
Dandelion Vineyards Lionheart of the Barossa 2012 - $19.95 – A winner in the Ontario market, and from a great Aussie vintage, this one should be superior for those fans of it. Big black fruits, white pepper, and maybe hints of soy sauce (or is that salty seaweed?). And available in two sizes so when you want a bottle and a half, you can have them (but only if you thought ahead).
Gerard Bertrand Fitou 2011 -$17.95 – This wine might be the second best buy in the release and would be higher among my picks if not for the following. At one of the Vintages consultant tastings both of the   samples were suffering from apparent premature oxidation. So try one early if you buy more than one or better still visit a store that allows tastings. Bertrand is among the finer producers in the Languedoc and his wines are generally deeply flavoured, complex and often deliver a level of sophistication and quality above their price points. There should be plenty going on here but the above concerns me.
Columbia Crest Grand Estates Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 - $17.95 Excellent producer. Two warnings – one, watch out for the oak and two, their H3, which is a slightly better wine is on sale in April for three dollars off at $16.95.  Buy it instead.
Costa Lazaridis Amethystos Red 2011 - $23.95 – Is dinner Greek themed? Saganaki, spanakopita, souvlaki and tzatziki? Try this one. Fruit forward reflecting the Michel Rolland style.  
The choices above mean I won’t even consider going above $40 in this release.
Hess Allomi Vineyard 2012 - $39.95 – Might buy one for a special occasion. The pro reviewers rarely seem to score this one where I think it should be but given some time, it’s a very, very nice wine. Full of black current, cedar and very full bodied. $10 (a full 25%) over the US price though.
Burrowing Owl Syrah 2011 - $39.95 – Big bucks for a renowned Canuck producer of first rate wines. Maybe buy one to put away for Canada Day.
Ebenezer Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 - $39.95 – Massive comes to mind when contemplating this wine. It is a big brute, vicious on your wallet, viscous on the palate to be sure. Not a brilliant vintage in South OZ but a very classy producer.

Monday, March 16, 2015

March 21, finally some interesting wines, but not the Icons.

March 21, 2015 and this Vintages release finally provides us with one that has a variety of medium  priced options that are, unlike previous releases, not lacking in interest. There are more than a few delectable, selectable wines, and considering not a single one is from this week’s Big Dollar Napa errr California  contingent, I think that’s a great percentage from the balance of the release.
Pick carefully, some of the choices are going to have to find a quiet, cool, dark spot on the floor of your basement for a while.
Here we go, once again sorted by country, my best bets get an asterisk beside their names.
Chateau Vincens 2011 $17.95 334 cases  ****– A Wine Enthusiast Top 15 wine from 2103. At this price you expect a fruit bomb for immediate consumption but this one wants to be treated like the cave dweller it is. Just leave it for in the dark for 3 years or more.
LUCA LABORDE DOUBLE SELECT SYRAH 2012 335 cases of 6 $24.95 ****– Among the upper level of the Catena brands, the Luca Syrah has managed to consistently pull down scores of over 90 points for its sophistication, flavor profile and depth.
Chakana Estate Selection Red Blend 2012 $26.95 **** but only 249 cases of 6 – Malbec, Cab Sauv, and Syrah. Strap on the elbow pads and call in the favours. If you can find a few of these, I’m sure there’ll be a battle to buy them just based on Parker’s review.
 PASCUAL TOSO BARRANCAS VINEYARDS RESERVE CABERNET 349 cases of 12 -  $19.95 – Probably will be almost as good as the above and all cab.
BISQUERTT LA JOYA GRAND RESERVE SYRAH 2012 495 cases $16.95 ****– Another end of year Top 100 wine, this time from Wine Spectator, this one should be good and solid, especially at the price.
SCHILD ESTATE SHIRAZ 2012 599 cases of 12 $24.95   - A blind taste off between this and the Luca might yield some very interesting and surprising results.  Keep in mind that Schild has tried to go upscale with some single vineyard products so what was their ‘estate’ shiraz in past years may not be the same this year. Spiffy label though.
 YALUMBA THE GUARDIAN SHIRAZ/VIOGNIER 2010   447 cases of 10 - $21.95 – Another Cote Roti-esque option from Oz.
THE MENTORS  SHIRAZ 2011  KWV   139 cases of 6 $29.95 – A few bucks over the Luca and Schild but worth buying if you’re going to have a shiraz-fest and want the out of town sleeper. 
MARCHESI DE' FRESCOBALDI TENUTA DI CASTIGLIONI 2011 ****  600 cases of 12 $21.95  - Always a very solid performer. Best left alone for a year (up to 7 or 8) but can be decanted and enjoyed right now with something red on a plate. Disregard Suckling’s comment. He has scored this wine the same in past vintages.
 VILLA CERNA RISERVA CHIANTI CLASSICO 2010   270 cases of 12 $28.95 – Worth one if only for the vintage.
BOUTARI GRANDE RESERVE 2008 ****   299 cases of 12 $17.95 – A well priced Xynomavro – think cab franc visits the nude beaches of the Aegean.
Big Bucks
 BREZZA BAROLO 2010 217 cases of 12 -$46.95
Chateau Pinerai l‘Authentique 2011 only 116 cases of 6 - $39.95 – 5 Stars from the oft derided Decanter magazine, but that is a terrific score. While this one appears readier to consume, it’ll still benefit from a bit of time.
CASTELLO DI AMA RISERVA CHIANTI CLASSICO 2009 184 cases of 12 - $16.95 – Small bottles for those of you who are fans of the producer. I am, and bought a bunch of the 750ml bottles so I can open these to see how the bigger brothers are maturing. Makes the big bucks because these are half bottles.

And a bunch of overpriced Cali stuff that is way above my level of affordability. YMMV.