Wednesday, July 15, 2015

July 25th Vintages Release - Sleep in, nothing to see here.

The last release of July is almost here and it’s time to pull a cork on a nice rosé and quietly consider just where this summer is going so quickly. While contemplating that unfortunate circumstance we can also consider this release - Three features this time around including Chill Out Summer Sippers, Argentina, and Greece. The latter two seem like afterthoughts used to fill up a few pages. As well there is an Ontario winery regurgitation.

There are some good wines here but none that I consider ‘must haves’.

Want to try something unusual? Try the TENUTE MESSiERI VISIONI OFFIDA PECORINO 2012 – Made with the Pecorino grape that is thought to have originated somewhere in the Sibilini Mountains. Note that 15 years ago this grape was planted on 215 acres in all of Italy.  This is not your everyday Pinot Grigio and it bears no relation to the cheese of the same name other than the Italian word for sheep is pecora.
Fielding UNOAKED CHARDONNAY 2013 - $14.95 – Always a tasty summer sipper - full, pure Niagara chard fruit in a glass. Well priced for what you get.
 PASCUAL TOSO RESERVE MALBEC 2012   349 cases of 12  $19.95 Solid,  standard Malbec – get that grill heated up. If you really need a sub $20 Malbec, this one will fill the bill.
D’ary’s Original 447 cases of 12 $19.95 – A consistently priced, well made wine from Oz. Big fruit across the palate. Syrah and Grenache.
PAXTON AAA SHIRAZ/GRENACHE 2012   575 cases of 12 $19.95  -Biodynamic and certified organic as well as just a bloody good pour.
CHÂTEAU PESQUIÉ TERRASSES 2013   649 cases of 12 $17.95  - From the Cotes de Ventoux this is a wine that used to perform above its price point when its price point was $14.95. Now it’s a tie.We used to pay less than Quebec, now they pay less. How'd that happen? Yes it is a Parker favourite so you’ll be getting lots of fruit.
GRAVILLAS SABLET Cotes du Rhone Villages 2013 - $15.95 - You might want to save yourself  2 bucks and buy the Sablet instead of the Pesquié. Or at least try one of each before diving in. This named village is among the superior viillages of the Cotes du Rhone but not quite up to AOC standards. The village name denotes an overall quality to the vineyards and producers of the area.
 DELAS LES LAUNES CROZES-HERMITAGE 2012   249 $24.95 – Superior syrah – give it some time and serve with rare lamb rack or chops.
TESSELLAE VIEILLES VIGNES CARIGNAN 2013 1293 cases of 12 $17.95 – Plenty of tannins and a big acidic mouthful to be sure. Look for dark fruits and herbal notes.  Very lightly oaked, if at all, as it is 80% aged in concrete, 20% in demi-muids (I presume oak). Not to be confused with the Tessellae GSM, this is another of U.S. Importer Eric Solomon’s productions and it would seem to be built to Parker’s palate.  Jeb Dunnuck certainly continues to propagate Parker’s palate perceptions post Parker’s departure. (all this alliteration is for the Vintages marketing team!)
MIRAVAL ROSÉ 2014   399 cases of 12 $22.95 The Jolie Pitt Perrin profitable pink production returns for another run.  I think this has been reduced in price by a buck or two over last year. It is a well made rosé but the bottle is a bit awkward and there are as good rosés for less. I wonder how many times that bottle and ice bucket fell over when they were staging the image for Vintages?
SAN FABIANO CALCINAIA CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2010 ISD 49 cases of 12  $24.95 An ISD with an unusually low price. Will be in very limited supply.
 BODEGAS ALTANZA - LEALTANZA RESERVA 2009 B 12 659 cases of 12  $19.95 Solid, pleasant food wine with some age on it.
 NAPA CELLARS CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2012   949 cases of 6 $26.95 –An OK BBQ wine if grilled steaks are in the offing.
 ST. FRANCIS CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2012    616 cases of 12 $29.95 – Another OK Cali cab.
LADIES WHO SHOOT THEIR LUNCH SHIRAZ, FOWLES WINE 2012   287 cases of 6 $35.95 – Expensive but a good wine. It goes with squirrel and rabbit and I just happen to have lots of both eating their way through my backyard garden. Could it be that some good grillin’ is in the offing? Furry things, you have been warned!
OSOYOOS LAROSE LE GRAND VIN 2010 ISD   84 cases of 6  $44.95 – The fruit is South Okanagan, the winemaking French. It is among the better Canadian wines. Give it a couple of years though.
CAPEZZANA CARMIGNANO 2010 ISD 12 29 $32.95  - In good vintages this is usually a superior wine. Over the next 5 years or so my expectation is that this’ll be very nice. It might be the sleeper of the release. An ISD so not many units at not many stores.

CAPARZO BRUNELLO DI MONTALCINO 2008 B 12 149 $44.95 – Still waiting on the ‘10s? This has some age on it and should be ready to go anytime. Decant it. 

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Vintages - July 11, Spain and C - cubed

This week’s release features Spain and Cool Climate Chardonnay. Regarding the former, I thought this week’s Spanish feature would be less attractive than many of the normal Spanish releases found in Vintages. It would appear that I’m not necessarily wrong.  Out of 18 possibilities, it would seem Vintages got only a few strong contenders in the Spanish feature.

 On the C cubed front  (Cool Climate Chardonnay), It is interesting to note that a couple of the chards, although given ample page space will actually provide fewer cases than some of this week’s ISDs. It never ceases to amaze me how LCBO marketers/ buyers can get away with things like this.  Yes these wines are in limited supply. So why waste all that space and customer good will on an item that’ll make the LCBO little money and will barely be available never mind widely available? VSO them or ISD them.  The LCBO motto seems to be  “Unfortunately we sold out of that one but we have this one that is similar (and we have hundreds of cases of it)”. Answering your critics is not necessary if  you’re running a monopoly and Head Office has never been concerned with that down at the cash cow by the lake. They just let the front line Vintages consultants take the heat. 

In summary, there are some whites and roses in this week’s release and not too many worthwhile reds.  

THE WHITES – as you can tell I have become enamored  of the white wines of Ontario  especially the chards now that we’ve gotten away from the oak bombs of not that long ago….

CAVE SPRING ESTATE BOTTLED CHARDONNAY 2013   299 cases of 12 $18.95 
FLAT ROCK THE RUSTY SHED CHARDONNAY 2012   43 cases of 12 $24.95  
NORMAN HARDIE REISLING 2013 - A mix of county and Niagara fruit, this was highlighted on Anthony Bourdain's visit to Quebec (on CNN). Martin Picard gave it a glowing recommendation and I think it's fair to say he's tasted a few good wines in his time.
WESTCOTT LILLIAS UNOAKED CHARDONNAY 2013   111 cases of 12 $20.00  - Prefer the unencumbered fruit without the vanilla of oak? Worth a shot. This is a new winery (not just to me, they’ve only been in production for a few years). Worth a try or a visit if you’re in the Niagara area.
BACHELDER OREGON CHARDONNAY 2012   100 cases of 12 $29.95 – Canadian wine maker’s west coast US property, excellent track record. 
TORO DE PIEDRA GRAND RESERVE CHARDONNAY 2014   216 cases of 12 $17.95     
THERAPY VINEYARDS PINOT GRIS 2013   111 cases of 12 $19.95
SERESIN ESTATE MOMO SAUVIGNON BLANC 2013   1007 cases of 12  $18.95 – New Zealand Sauvignon blanc, look for grassy notes.
 DOG POINT SAUVIGNON BLANC 2014   1626 cases of 12  $24.95 –More citrus than the Momo.  
  VIDAL-FLEURY CROZES-HERMITAGE 2012   143 cases of 12 $24.95 – Rhone syrah – very good with lamb.  
  DOMAINE TOURNON MATHILDA SHIRAZ 2012   449 cases of 12 $19.95 – An OZ production with some  Southern Rhone sensibilities.
  BREMERTON COULTHARD CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2012    209 cases of 12 $21.95  - Big cabby goodness. Cassis and perhaps a hint of soy sauce. I know, it sounds weird, but there it is.  Don’t get too excited by the score, that’s a James Halliday number.
  GERARD BERTRAND GRAND TERROIR LES ASPRES   398 cases of 12 $18.95  - An SMG, From Cotes du Rousillon.  
CUNE RESERVA 2010   837 cases of 6 $23.95 – If I buy only one wine from the Spain feature this’ll be it.
Valdemar Fincas Valdecuco Roble 2012 - Expect nice smokiness and fruitiness

MARQUES DE CACERES ROSADO 2014   499 cases of 12  $13.95 or for five bucks more pick one of these  two. 
HECHT & BANNIER CÔTES DE PROVENCE ROSÉ 2014   249 cases of 12  $18.95 
DOMAINE LAFOND ROC-ÉPINE TAVEL ROSÉ 2014   299 cases of 12 $18.95 

HAMILTON RUSSELL CHARDONNAY 2013    112 cases of 6 - $39.95 – Hmmm, seems like the SAQ not only scooped the LCBO and received their allocation sooner but also brought it to market for 10% less!  If you’re near the border or going to be in Montreal (or anywhere else in that province) check the SAQ website to find a store with product and buy this one there. It is a renowned wine from South Africa and traditionally outstanding.  Ageworthy in the short term yet if you stage a blind Chardonnay tasting, one of these might just win the day.  Apple, as well as some tropical fruit combined with subtle hints of vanilla and just the right note of acidity make it a keeper for sure.
Update - I tried a bottle of this wine on the weekend. It is not up to the 2012 as far as I'm concerned. Smokier, slightly woodier, less fruit but got better with  fresh salmon steamed on a bed of dill. The H-R is not a hot weather sipper to be sure.

PEARL MORISSETTE CUVÉE DIX-NEUVIÈME CHARDONNAY 2012   22 cases of 6 $35.20  - A bit of an ‘under the radar’  Ontario wine producer of  mostly Chards and Pinot Noirs. Only 22 cases of 6 though so why bother giving it a quarter of a page?  
TORBRECK THE STEADING 2010  47 cases of 6 $51.95 – Torbreck’s own website calls this perhaps the most important wine in the Torbreck portfolio – no small thing when you consider some of their wines retail for hundreds of dollars. This GSM is usually huge and an interesting wine to compare to a first rate, hot vintage Chateauneuf.
DOMAINE DE SAINT SIFFREIN CHÂTEAUNEUF-DU-PAPE 2012   199 cases of 12 $44.95 – Powerful CdP, very ageworthy as well.
RUFFINO DUCALE ORO RISERVA GRAN SELEZIONE CHIANTI   348 cases of 6  $44.95  - Another of the new Gran Selezione Chianti Classicos.