Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Jan. 09 Vintages release - Here we go again!

Let's start the year with a question. Why can't you find the Vintages delistings anywhere on the Vintages  (or LCBO) websites? I bought a Cornas that was $11 off the posted price but  I had to ask for a price check and not even the Vintages consultant knew about it!  I found the info on a wine forum and have no idea of how long it had been at that new pricepoint. LCBO, you work for me, so tell me these things!!!!

The first release of the year should allow your wallet to recover from the voracious Vintages attacks of the last few months. I say should but remember, we’re dealing with the LCBO here. In their inimitable wisdom they have started the year with a feature called “How to Be a SMART Shopper”  like they’re our best friend and have our interests at heart.  But at the same time they charge us exorbitant markups and provide limited selections and availabilities. New year….same old  transparently obvious LCBO.

 While there might be one or two ageworthy choices available in this release, they are outnumbered by the simple quaffers.
MULDERBOSCH CHENIN BLANC 2015 S 12 335 $14.95 Distinctive label, nice with oysters especially, but any seafood or fish will suffice.

Santa Rita Medalla Real Gran Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon 2011 -  699 cases of 12 $17.95  - Best QPR Cab in the release but you're better served to grab the '12 CARMEN Gran Reserva from the general list.
DOMAINE LE GRAND RETOUR PLAN DE DIEU CÔTES DU RHÔNE Villages 2013- 1299 cases of 12  $14.95 – Not a great vintage for Grenache so try one to confirm it’s as good as last year’s (which by the way was a terrific value) then consider buying a case. 
DOMAINE SAINT-ROCH VACQUEYRAS 2014 490 cases of 12 $21.95 Well priced for a Vacqueyras.
ANTICO SIGILLO PRIMITIVO DI MANDURIA 2013   1040 cases of 12 $19.95  - Expensive for a primitivo from Puglia, especially when bought in these quantities. Should be a great pizza or burger wine though.
BIBI GRAETZ CASAMATTA SANGIOVESE 700 cases of 12 $14.95  - This is a blend of  current and previous vintages, ready to drink alongside pizza or a homemade spaghetti and meatball supper.
SISTERS RUN CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2012 $15.95 - Always well priced and well valued. Meatloaf or burgers or sausage pizza.
GUNDLACH BUNDSCHU MOUNTAIN CUVÉE 2012   799 cases of 12 $19.95 – Parker calls it a Rhone look alike but I think it’s closer to the kind of blend you’d find from areas of the Midi. I will try one just because I like the winery for their sense of humour. You can spend time on their website and smile often.
FIRST PRESS CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2011 1287 cases of 12 $22.95 – Napa Cab, ok price. Not a great vintage so I don’t know why the LCBO bought so many bottles when both the ’12 and ’13 are available. Industrial wine, unaffected by vintage quality, I suppose.

POWERS CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2013   223 cases of  12 $22.95 The truth is I haven’t heard of this winery before. Although it is OK to be labelled as a Cab Sauv it is actually 88% Cab Sauv, 4 % Merlot, 4% Cab Franc, 2% Syrah and 2% Malbec. But wait, it gets better. These grapes are sourced from 7 different vineyards. Worth trying one if only for the wine tour of Washington State.

Big Bucks – After the last couple of months these don’t seem all that big – but the reality is you get what you pay for.
 LA PIEVE BAROLO 2011 $34.95 – Not a great vintage or producer but it’s well priced for a Barolo and is a good starting point. Give it a year or so in a cool dark place.

BAnfi Brunello but only if it’s a 2010. After the 4th of January this one’ll be 5 bucks off. If you can find one 2010, buy one and lay it down for 5 years minimum.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

December 12th Vintages - Another year has come and gone

The December 12, 2015 release is the last of the year. As I look back on my summaries and notes for the year, what a boring, bland one it has been for Vintages. Ah well, we can hope for better things to come in 2016.
Two picks this week are the result of me letting my eyes overrule my nose and palate. The pair of La Posta malbecs have terrific new labels designed by Jose Canales. To my eye they more than do their job – they provide an eye catching, traditional yet modern invitation to the wine. Their styling is almost Spanish Rioja (or very old school Barolo) meets neon meets modern. If you’re a fan of the Catena malbecs it is also worth noting that both these wines are produced in collaboration with Laura Catena and winemaker Estella Perinetti.
LA POSTA PIZZELLA MALBEC 2014   934 cases of 12 $16.95 – From the Pizzella family’s vineyard in the renowned La Consulta region of the Uco valley. Given a bit of time it’ll be a good accompaniment to any rich meal, from rare beef all the way to a cassoulet.   Drink 1-3 years.
LA POSTA ANGEL PAULUCCI VINEYARD MALBEC 2014   923 cases of 12 $15.95 – From Angel Paulucci’s vineyard in the Ugarteche subregion of Luyan de Cuyo. As a food pairing the producer recommends it with anything from grilled meats to a wild boar, sage and dried cherry risotto.  
SALENTEIN RESERVE MALBEC 2013   847 cases of 12 $17.95 – Any of the three Malbecs will be good choices.
D'ARENBERG D'ARRY'S ORIGINAL SHIRAZ/GRENACHE 2012  511 cases of 12 $19.95 – Southern Rhone blend from Australia.
PIRRAMIMMA WHITE LABEL CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2012 700 cases of 12 $23.95 – Always a terrific wine from one of my favourite producers.
VIÑA TARAPACÁ GRAN RESERVA CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2012 550 cases of 12 $17.95 – Not a bad cab for the $$’s.
GÉRARD BERTRAND GRAND TERROIR PIC SAINT LOUP 2011 697 cases of 12 $18.95 – This month’s release from the seemingly ubiquitous Mr. Bertrand presents more of the goodness of the Midi.
MAZZEI CASTELLO DI FONTERUTOLI SER LAPO RISERVA 2011 - 994 cases of 6  $23.95 – My number 1 pick, this is a rerelease of the 2011 that we saw last April. And that is my only concern about this Ser Lapo. Otherwise, it’s always very good. Darker and more brooding than some CCR’s but with a few years on it this is just coming into its own. It will provide years of pleasure. Galloni’s review says to hold it for another couple of years but my palate says it’s ready to go right now. Last weekend’s bottle was superb and worthy of the score.
CASTELLO DI FONTERUTOLI CHIANTI CLASSICO 2013 179 cases of 12 $13.95 – The bargain priced little brother to the Ser Lapo.
BORSAO TRES PICOS GARNACHA 2013 964 cases of 12 $19.95 – Formerly a favourite of mine but the last few bottles were, to my palate, too oaky. This in spite of Parker’s review indicating the wine was aged in older French oak barrels and stainless steel.  The wine was very well made but just not exactly to my taste anymore. It’s a buy for most though.
VINA POMAL RESERVA 2010 - $21.95 – Well scored by both Decanter and Wine Spectator, this is my Tempranillo of the month. Same price as the W o M but  a better wine I think.
RODRIGUEZ SANZO LACRIMUS CRIANZA 2011 699 cases of 12 $18.95 – Previous vintages of this Tempranillo have been terrific so let’s take a chance.
BALBÁS CRIANZA 2011 799 cases of 12 $18.95 – Another well priced Tempranillo that is consistently good.
CHATEAU STE. MICHELLE INDIAN WELLS RED BLEND 2012 335 cases of 12  $25.95 _ The Indian Wells Cab seems to have flown under the radar – good news for me – perhaps the same’ll happen here.
RODNEY STRONG CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2013 1115 cases of 12 $22.95
GIUSTI BRUT ASOLO PROSECCO 279 cases of 12 $19.95
BIG BUCKS- being the time of year it is, the Big Bucks choices are plentiful.
LUCA MALBEC 2012 499 cases of 6 $32.95 – A big inky wine just made for a very rare steak. Also, this is the appropriate bottle to arm yourself with if you’re going to get into a bar fight. To call it substantial is an understatement. 
BAROSSA VALLEY ESTATE EBENEZER SHIRAZ 2008   480 cases of 6 $39.95 – Lamb chops anyone? Chewy wine, decant carefully.
LUCE DELLA VITE LA VITE LUCENTE 2013 299 cases of 12 $34.95
LAN GRAN RESERVA 2007 360 cases of 12 $31.95
BURROWING OWL ATHENE 2012   112 cases of 12 $44.95
TENUTA SAN GUIDO GUIDALBERTO 2013 198 cases of 6 $52.95  

MONTES PURPLE ANGEL 2012 498 cases of 6 $59.95 – Carmine, crimson, claret coloured, Carmenere for the LCBO alliteration fans. This is among the best Carmeneres made. A little Petit Verdot in the blend gives it some more licorice notes than your usual Carmenere.  It’s a beaut but too many bucks.