Monday, June 22, 2015

Vintages June 27th Release - Ho hum....

Here comes the June 27th release and for this week the main Vintages feature is something called “Customer Favourites”.  Is it just me or are there some odd choices among these customer favourites?  Those that made the recommended list here are prefaced by an F.
Also included are two other minor features. One is the Americas in honour of the Pan Am games. The LCBO will surely love them because our commutes in the GTA will drive us to drink even if we car pool! The other is a Canada Day feature. Both are ho hum.

You can pretty much skip this release completely and not be too upset.
VALENTIN BIANCHI  LEO PREMIUM MALBEC 2013     955 cases of 6   $19.95  - An almost premium bottle of juice. A great big Tuscan t-bone will be the perfect fit for this wine. Some of the proceeds go to underprivileged youth so you can feel good about pulling a cork.
F SUSANA BALBO SIGNATURE MALBEC 2012   866 cases of 12  $19.95 – Solid wine, solid winemaker.
CLAYMORE YOU'LL NEVER WALK ALONE   335 cases of 12   $21.95  - What do Liverpool football,  Rogers and Hammerstein, Gerry and the Pacemakers and this wine have in common? The song of the same name of course. Nice GSM blend.
F ZONTE'S FOOTSTEPS BARON VON NEMESIS SINGLE SITE SHIRAZ   640 cases of 12   $17.95 – I can understand naming the winery after the original currant field but the name of the wine itself seems pretty juvenile. That said, one expects this well made, modestly priced wine will mature better over the short term than the name will.  Stupid wine name, pretty good shiraz in the bottle tho.   
F ORTAS TRADITION RASTEAU 2013   698 cases of 12  $17.95  - OK wine but to be a customer favourite you’d expect that the wine would be really popular on its own merits, right? So why haven’t we seen one of these for over 13 months and why did we skip the 2012 Vintage and jump  from 2011 to 2013?  Or did I miss it in Vintages?  Perhaps it was a Food and Drink special under a different product code? If that was the case, it was only a favourite because it cost a buck less than this one.
DOMAINE LE CLOS DES CAZAUX LA TOUR SARRASINE GIGONDAS   195 cases of 12  $28.95 – Nice, give it a while though.  
MICHEL GASSIER LES PILIERS SYRAH 2012   349 cases of 12   $18.95 – Just OK.
F RUFFINO MODUS 2012 12 399  cases of 12   $29.95  - Give it some time. Always a pretty good example of a midpriced super Tuscan – typical Tuscan profile, this wine likes food and vice versa.
BADIA A COLTIBUONO CHIANTI CLASSICO 2012   299 cases of 12   $23.95 Organic,  3 glasses from Gambero Rosso, under $25. Worth a shot.
F VILLA MEDORO ROSSO DEL DUCA MONTEPULCIANO D'ABRUZZO   498 cases of 12    $19.95  - Worth a buy perhaps but let it rest for a time.
SAN SILVESTRO PATRES BAROLO 2010   279 cases of 12    $29.95  - New to me and Well priced for  a Barolo but be careful because sometimes you get what you pay for.

SPAIN – For Spanish wines this week is probably better than the upcoming Spanish feature. 

BORSAO BEROLA 2011   2997 cases of 12    $17.00   Another of the $17 specials that should really only be $15 and that are $12 to $13.99 in the US. This is a blend of 70% garnacha, 20% syrah and 10 % Cab Sauv, look for a ripe wine with blackberry and cassis notes perhaps with a hint of balsamic acidity on the finish.   
F BRECA OLD VINES GARNACHA 2012   1747  cases of 12    $22.95 $19.95 after all! - This was a favourite at $19.95 and  previous vintages of this garnered a 93 point score from Parker. Look what happened to the price. (Update: Turns out nothing happened to the price after all...although my store has a graffiti type price correction to $19.95 on the WOM poster). Similar quality and profile to the BorsaoTres Picos from last release.
F ARDAL CRIANZA 2005   1299 cases of 12    $16.95  - Solid Crianza with some age on it.    
BERONIA TEMPRANILLO ROSÉ 2013   399 cases of 12   $14.95  - Excellent producer, worth buying a few if you like a nice chilled rose while passing a summer’s day.
KIM CRAWFORD PANSY! ROSÉ 2014   2518 cases of 12  $17.00  - The annual gay pride release but there are many better price/ quality choices among the rose options.  Yes this is another of the $17 that should only be $15 or less wines.    
The Big Bucks
F TENUTA SETTE PONTI CROGNOLO 2012   587 cases of 12    $33.95  - A solid Tuscan, but 95 Points? James, calm yourself!
IL MOLINO DI GRACE IL MARGONE RISERVA CHIANTI CLASSICO 2007 - 199 cases of 12  $34.95  - Excellent year in Chianti and right in its drinking window. Loves food.
FATTORIA CARPINETA FONTALPINO DO UT DES 2011   249 cases of 12   $37.95  - Annually garners scores in the 91 to 93 range from all reviewers but, like others in this release, will benefit from some time.

F THE PRISONER 2013   279 cases of 12    $49.95  - Oh yes, now I remember this one! It’s the wine with the name that best describes the Ontario wine consumer. I’ve never had a bottle nor seen a bottle in any friends’ houses.  …has anyone?    

Monday, June 8, 2015

Vintages June 13 release makes Dad's day fizzle, and some Italian whites.

Mid June brings another  so so release. The features are Bubblies (reasonable to ridiculous price wise), Dad’s day specials, and Italian Whites. In trying to go beyond Pinot Grigio for the latter, our intrepid Vintages team has come up with 5 other wines. 
From this release, here are the ones that interested me for one reason or another.
Bastide Miraflors Vielles Vignes Syrah Grenache 2013 -  799 cases of 12 - $19.95 – The ‘over the top’ Parker review will have you wrestling for this one - with the adjectives that he used to describe the wine you’d think this was a wine for the ages! Best to temper your enthusiasm and follow the Sol Mandlsohn credo “If you get some, you get some but if you miss it, you miss it.”
CHATEAU Eugenie Cuvee Reserve D’Aiuel Cahors 2011 -297 cases of 12 - $20.95 – One for the cellar. Do not open for three or four years as it needs time to calm the tannins. If you’re still eating beef or lamb by then, this’ll be terrific.
Xavier Ventoux 2012 -709 cases of 12 - $15.95 – Every so often a nice, well priced, sophisticated wine sneaks in beneath the radar. This could be one of them.
NINQUÉN ANTU CHILEAN MOUNTAIN VINEYARD SYRAH 2013   550 cases of 12   $17.95 – Watch for serious vanilla intermixed with chocolate and black fruits. Usually an excellent choice for the price but it’ll need to be left alone for a bit.
VIÑA TARAPACÁ GRAN RESERVA CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2012   547 cases of 12  $17.95 - OK price for an OK Chilean.
ELDERTON HIGH ALTITUDE CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2013   447 cases of 12  $19.95  - From the Eden Valley region, which if you squint is a subset of the Barossa Zone. This is worth a try if you really like the estate cab but don’t like the estate cab price (this means you Doug!). Site specific vineyard but priced similar to the old ‘Elderton Friends’. I’d try one to see how the new line is panning out.
MOUNTADAM PATRIARCH SHIRAZ 2010   249 cases of 12  $29.95 – Interesting that the Elderton wine above is from  Eden Valley but is indicated as being from Barossa. This Mountadam wine manages to get properly listed as being from the High Eden subregion of the Eden Valley wine region within the Barossa zone.  Someone needs a geography lesson for the Elderton next year. The Mountadam is worth  trying  head to head with an Elderton Estate Shiraz if you have one.
MIALI MATER PRIMITIVO 2010   299 cases of 12  $18.95 – A Zinfandel cousin with a bit of age. Great for BBQs , burgers and the like.
AMBRA SANTA CRISTINA IN PILLI CARMIGNANO 2011   222 cases of 12  $23.95 – A sleeper methinks. Mostly Sangiovese and Cabernet, should be very nice with a little age.
BORSAO TRES PICOS GARNACHA 2012   848 cases of 12  $19.95  - This has previously been  highly recommended  by me among others. For me, the last couple of bottles that I had were absolute oak bombs – vanilla extract in black raspberry juice. Buyer beware because I’m not sure if my palate or the wine has changed.
SNOQUALMÍE CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2012   447 cases of 12  $16.95 – Organic and well scored from a good producer.  Save yourself at least 5 bucks and take this over the Cali alternatives.
RODNEY STRONG CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2012   836 cases of 12  $22.95 – An OK Cali alternative.
SILVER BUCKLE RANCHERO RED 2010   359 cases of 12  $21.95 – Any wine that stirs memories of a Ford Fairlane turned into a pickup truck has to be worth a try. Too bad there isn’t some El Camino in this release for a road, err taste test against it.
 (ZUCARDI) VIDA ORGÁNICA MALBEC ROSÉ 2014   449 cases of 12  $13.95 – Organic production, reasonable price.
MONTE ZOVO BARDOLINO CHIARETTO 2014   349 cases of 12  $13.95 – A dryish wine promoting sweet cherry and exhibiting a full mouthfeel.
Pieropan LA ROCCA Soave Classico 2011 -$39.95 - #2 from the Wine Enthusiasts top 100 last year. Expect puckering astringency and subtle fruits.
TWO HANDS BELLA'S GARDEN SHIRAZ 2012    181 cases of 6  $63.95 – Always superior.
PAUL HOBBS CROSSBARN CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2012 167 cases of 12  $62.95. Jumped almost $20 in the last few releases. Yes, you probably can do better for much less.
OPUS ONE 2011    99 cases of 6  $444.95-  Not a chance!
TENUTA SETTE PONTI ORENO 2011    163 cases of 6  $76.95 – I have to ask, why wasn’t I born rich?   If I was, I’d buy almost 6 of these before I bought one of the Opus One.   
J. LOHR HILLTOP CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2012    701 cases of 6  $40.95 – A single vineyard produced by  a quality Paso Robles winery.

CASTELLO DI AMA RISERVA CHIANTI CLASSICO 2009   324 cases of 12  $34.95  - The third Vintages release of the 2009 vintage of this wine. While it has been highly recommended in the past, I found one of the three smaller 375 ml bottles I purchased a while back to be suffering from apparent premature oxidation. Another reader reported similar findings. Bad cork seal? Bad bottle? Bad batch?  All of the above? Perhaps. Before I consider buying more of this I think it’s time to try one from the previously released 750 mls. Done, last day of May and it was suddenly Novemberish so a meal of Osso Buco was in order. The wine was good but this is not a ‘sit and guzzle’ wine for sure. This is an ‘open me, sip me, and taste me change while you’re preparing and cooking something over a period of a couple of hours’ wine. With sufficient air, this becomes a perfect ‘accompany a very good meal’ wine.