Thursday, December 8, 2016

Vintages December 10th release - Another year come and gone

Well, here we are the final Vintages release of the year and to say the year has been ho hum would be overly complimentary to the year I think.  The combination of mediocre vintages in parts of the world combined with the reduction of the global value of the Canadian dollar has meant we’ve seen fewer exciting wines often at massive jumps in price. In the case of California, two or three stellar vintages in a row all came at a time when the Canuck buck was at its worst. Woe is us. Ah well, one more reason to drink I suppose. Below are my final picks from the final release of  the year 2016.
Whites and Bubblies
Pierre Luc Bouchard Muscadet  Sevre et Maine sur lie - $14.95 – one of the few real bargains in the release, this will please any and all white wine fans during the holidays.
Louis Moreau Chablis 2015 - $21.95 – Well priced for a pretty good quality Chablis.
Dirty Laundry Chardonnay 2014-$19.95- Should be almost burgundian in style.
Schola Sarmenti Nerio Reserva 2012 - $21.95 – Malvasia Nera and Negroamaro are blended to make an almost black wine that  has a lot going on. Ageworthy but can be enjoyed now as well.
Castellani Filicheto Vino Nobile di Montepulciano 2012 - $18.95 – Try one to see how you like it. I expect an intense looooong finish on this one. Give it time in the glass or decant.
Castelli del Grevepesa Clemente VII Chianti Classico Reserva 2011-21.95 – Well scored by Bruce Sanderson of the Wine Spectator, this’ll be a nice food wine as well as an interesting comparison with the CCR’s in the previous release.
A trio of sub $20 Spaniards make the list this week. (See I’m already showing signs of restraint here) – The Rioja Vega Crianza 2012 ($16.95), The Burgo Viejo Crianza 2012 ($15.95) and the Ardal Crianza 2010 ($19.95) should all be very nice quaffers with any holiday meal.
If Spain is not in your wheelhouse, try the Triptych Blend from South Africa. It’s always pleasing  at $16.95.
Getting bigger still, there are 4 Australians that merit attention. All come in just under or around the $20 mark. Among them is the terribly named Baron von Nemesis from Zonte’s Footsteps which has steadily risen in price but is well made; the Dandelion Vineyards 2014 Lionheart of the Barossa; the Thorn  Clarke Shotfire Quartage blend from 2014; and the Wakefield Cabernet  Sauvignon 2014. The latter is festooned with enough medals to pass as a South American general, but don’t hold that against it.
If you’re looking for a good Cabernet from the U.S., try either the Chateau Ste. Michelle from Washington St. @$21.95 or spend a few bucks more and go upscale for the St. Francis Cab ($29.95) from Sonoma. Both will be nice with something rare and red on a plate.

Big Bucks
The theme running thru the big buck choices this week seems to be price inflation. Some of these wines are increasing in price faster than the Vancouver and Toronto real estate markets.
Paul Hobbs Cross Barn Cab Sauv 2013 - $69.95. The August 2013 release of this wine was priced at $38.95. Think about that.
Francis Ford Coppola Director’s Cut Cab Sauv 2014 - $44.95. One of my favourites from Sonoma, but it has jumped about $10 so I’m trying to find alternatives (see the St. Francis above).
Trapiche Terrior Single Vineyard Finca Ambrosia Malbec 2011 - $39.95 – Among the better big malbecs, Trapiche produces usually 3 of these each year to highlight their superior vineyard managers. It’s quite an honour to be named.
E.Guigal Chateauneuf du Pape 2010 - $63.95 – Spectacular vintage in the Rhone and this one should be very well made. Ready to begin to be consumed now but great for at least another dozen years as well.

Domus Vitae Brunello di Montalcino 2007 - $63.95 – Best recent vintage prior to 2010 and right where you want it if you’re looking for a Christmas gift to drink this year (or over the next 10).

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Vintages November 26th release - Wallets at the ready? Go!

After a long delay, due in equal parts to a motorcycle tour to Alabama, travel to India, a sabbatical from work and just general boredom with the Vintages releases, we have returned with a new perspective. They say travel opens your eyes to things – our visit to Kerala, India and our subsequent attempts to buy some beer  there made the LCBO seem positively liberal (small L that is) in its policies. The line ups were long and the process was not dissimilar to the LCBO of the 1960’s when seeing the evil stuff was forbidden! That said, when we ventured to Goa, beer and beverage alcohol were plentiful, easily purchased and cheap. A 26’er of very good rum was the equivalent of $2.50 US. Finding a good wine was a different story.
Anyhow, enough about the world, let’s talk Vintages. The next release – November 26th – is annually the big holiday gift release which means dollars are up and QPR is down. There are some that are worthy of your attention but if you’re looking for reviews of wine over the $50 price point, look elsewhere my friends. Bad LCBO markups, Taxes and the weak Canuck buck are just taking too much of a toll on us! That means I can ignore the first 23 pages of the release – as much as I’d love to review any of the products therein.
Let’s take a trip down memory lane to start.
ALVEAR SOLERA 1927 PEDRO XIMENEZ – 19.95 for a 375ml - Do you remember how your old Aunt’s house smelled when you went to visit? In a cloud of mustiness she’d lean over and always want a big hug saying “Oh my you’ve grown so tall!” while she sipped on her glass of sherry. Well this recommendation is not your old Aunt’s sherry by any stretch. More post than pre meal, this be a beaut!
Looking for a bubbly? Try one of these three, all below $20 and should be fine.
DOMAINE DE VAUGUNDY BRUT VOUVRAY -$17.95- Chenin Blanc grapes – very nice.
GRAHAM BECK ‘BRUT’ -$18.95 – This superior producer of dry table wines has hit the mark here with a very tasty alternative to champagne.
FANTINEL Prosecco - $18.95 – A single vineyard production – great on its own or with lighter seafoods.
Looking for under $20 values in this release and while there are some, they are not easy to find so maybe we’ll bump the price to $30. My picks, pretty much in the order I’d pick them -
UMBERTO CESARI LIANO 2012 – $27.95 - Previous vintages of this wine were superb accompaniments to red meats or on their own. From the under appreciated Emilia Romagna.
COLUMBIA CREST H3 LES CHEVAUX Red Blend 2012 - $19.95- Anything from the Horse Heaven Hills seems to be impossible to mess up. Columbia Crest continues that trend here. Might be a bit too much oak for some.
SAN FELICE CHIANTI CLASSICO 2013 – $19.95 - A difficult spring (it was cold and dull) gave way to a better summer in Chianti and Three of Three from Gambero Rosso is hard to ignore.
VILLA CAFAGGIO CHIATI CLASSICO 2013 – $21.95 - Wonderful and consistent producer, this could do with a year or so in a quiet place but will be excellent after that. Decant if you must drink sooner.
BARON DE LEY Reserva 2010- $21.95 – Outstanding wine always. Great on its own, better with roast meats.
Two Valpolicellas – Monte del Fra  at $21.95 and REMO FARINA RIPASSO VALPOLICELLA CLASSICO SUPERIORE 2014 – $17.95 – Both beautiful  mouthsful  in name and product. Excellent to have on hand for both wine lovers and non wine lovers. Both groups can find enjoyment in these wines.
WYNN’S COONAWARRA ESTATE SHIRAZ 2012 – $22.95 - A very nice effort from a good producer  and from a region known more for Cabs that shiraz.
Cantine de Falco Falco Reserva - $18.95 – I have not yet tasted this wine but am going on 3 things – the Vintage was excellent, the blend of grapes are interesting,  and lastly, similar blends were among the best wines we had when visiting Puglia a few years back.
Ceppaiano Violetta 2010 – $22.95 - Again an excellent vintage that should be right in its drinking window.
BOSAO BOLE 2013-$15.95 – Might be the sleeper of the release. New to me but the producer is solid and consistent.

MAGANA DIGNUS 2012 - $15.95 – A great Parker score and really well priced but new to me  and the Parker review is now 2 years old so don’t go crazy buying it until you’ve tried one.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

August 6 is here already! 3 whites, 6 reds make the grade.

Not a lot to pick from in this release but we are in the dog days of summer...

Cathedral Cellar Blanc de Blancs Sparkling Wine 2010 WO Western Cape South Africa,  $16.95 – Very well priced – nice with popcorn or potato chips. I know, I know, haute cuisine!

Thelema Mountain Vineyards Sutherland Chardonnay 2012  South Africa, $15.95 – Well priced and very good.

Inniskillin Montague Vineyard Chardonnay 2013  Niagara,   $24.95 – Previous vintages of this were very nice. Look for it to come on sale in your local Wine Rack store.

Gerard Bertrand Grand Terroir Les Aspres Grenache/Mourvedre/Syrah 2013 Cotes du Roussillon, $18.95 – Another of the Bertrand stable of wines. Very, very good.

Columbia Crest H3 Merlot 2013 Horse Heaven Hills Columbia Valley, $19.95 – liquid oak, vanilla and chocolate covered cherries.
Best's Bin No. 1 Shiraz 2013   Victoria,   $19.95 – The best of the Aussie shiraz this time around.
Chateau D’Angles La Clape 2012 - $17.95Try one, you might like it!

Ardal Reserva 2006 – $21.95Already with 10 years on it, this’ll be ready to go right away.

Hacienda Lopez de Haro Reserva 2009 Rioja, $17.95 – Older style Tempranillo – ready to go.

Monday, June 20, 2016

June 25th - Southern France this time around

It’s the June 25th release and the LCBO has taken a full 12 pages to sell a mere 14 wines in their Southern France feature. I will acknowledge that they are covering 3 or 4 regions but if the LCBO’s retail plan was to provide Ontario consumers with more choice, someone should tell them that given the choice of more well priced, quality wine or pretty pictures on pages, we consumers will opt for the former every time.
Also featured are Canuck wines for Canada Day and some Ontario Rosés.

Gerard Bertrand Gris Blanc 2015 – Available in 750ml and 1.5 litre bottles, here’s a white wine with a hint of a blush. Will satisfy both rosé fans and Pinot Gris and even perhaps Grigio fans.  Worth trying with shrimp and avocado salad.
Pierre Amadieu Le Grangeliere Vacqueyras 2014 - $22.95 – Among my favourite crus in the Southern Rhone, the wines of Vacqueyras are fruit forward and approachable but with enough tannic back bone to support some mid term ageing.
Borgo Scopeto Chianti Classico 2013 - $19.95 – Annually among my favourite non reservas from the Classico zone of Chianti and usually at an attractive price. A superior option to enjoy with pizza or pasta and a tomato/ meat sauce. Not a great vintage but I think this one’ll rise above it.
Domaine Les Yeuses ‘Les Epices’ Syrah 2013 -$15.95 – Good price and a very tasty option that usually over delivers.
Vega Moragona La Duna Single Vineyard Tempranillo 2011-$17.95 – Site specific so look for terroir differences to your usual Tempranillo blends. 20% new oak so the oak should be less pronounced than in some Riojas (for instance). Smooth, ready to go right now, but not built for long term aging.
Chateau St. Roch Chimeres 2014 - $19.95 – Mostly Grenache from a slightly tougher Grenache vintage, but worthy of a try.
Domaine des Terrisses Grande Tradition Gaillac 2012 - $17.95 – Selected only because this is a blend of unusual grapes, Duras, Braucol (aka Fer in France), and a soupcon of Syrah. If nothing else this’ll be a conversation starter among your wine geek friends.

Manus Dei du Chateau  Sixteen 2013 - $38.95 – From a ‘better than most’ recent vintage, this might be worth springing for if you’re looking for a bigger wine that you can rest for a short time.

Ridolfi Brunello di Montalcino -2010 - $48.95 – Wonderful vintage but a new producer for me. Ahhh, so many producers, so little time! 

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

June 11th release, Bubblies, Zins and Dad's day

June 11 means it’s time for the annual Father's day release. Like a profligate, prodigal son, the LCBO spends like mad but delivers disappointment for dad. A feature that provides a few OK bubblies is backed by a page wasting Zinfandel feature and one for Dad that manages to fit more (mostly mundane) bottles into fewer pages taken by the Zins.  Some good news this week is that my regular selections are all under $20 and even the big buck ones stay under $50.  
  • South Africa – Mulderbosch – Cabernet Sauvignon Rosé – 2015 - $12.95 – Always an amazing combination of quality and price, this is among my favourite rosés every year.
  • Rustenberg Petit Verdot Rosé 2015 – $13.95- Slightly more expensive than the Mulderbosch and an interesting new wine for me to try.  Might be the first Petit Verdot Rosé ever for me.
  • Conde Valdemar Rosé 2015 - $13.95 – Mostly Grenache, this will be a delight with grilled shrimp or other seafood.
  • Cattin Brut Rosé Cremant D’Alsace - $18.95 – a light rose colour adds an extra dimension to this sparkler’s strawberry notes.
  • De Chancey Excellence Brut Vouvray 2013 -$19.95 – Made with Chenin Blanc, if you’re a fan, dive in to its citrus goodness.
  • Rotari Brut Rosé $17.95 – Well priced for this one. Look for creamy pastry notes and sweet red fruit hints.
  • Chateau Grande Moulin Vielle Vignes 2012- $15.95 – Made from vines over 100 years old, three stars from Guide Hachette and this price make this among the best options in the release.
  • Domaine les Verrieres Les Sept Fontaines 2009 - $18.95 – Slightly more expensive and more aged, this is another good option. Should be right in its drinking window over the next year.
  • Zonte’s Footsteps Baron von Nemesis Shiraz 2013 - $17.95 – Among the goofier wine names but the bottle contents will surprise. Better than many at $7 more.
  • Balbas Reserva 2005 – Be careful here. The wine is from 2005 and the review is 6 years old. Buyer beware!
  • Lopez de Haro Crianza 2010 - $15.95 – Six years old and ready to drink right now.
  • Poggio Stella Vino Nobile de Montepulciano – 2011 - $24.95 – Ready to go with some air, serve with a thick, rare T bone.

Big Bucks cuz Dad’s worth it!
  • Beringer Napa Valley 2013 $49.95 – Great vintage, fine producer, big $$’s.
  •  Tenuta La Fuga – Brunello di Montalcino - 2010 - $42.95 – Well scored by the very credible Bruce Sanderson, from a brilliant vintage. Let Dad snooze on the sofa while this one sleeps in the cellar.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Vintages May 28th - Venice sinks and Judgement more like Judge Judy

May 28th’s release has two features - Venice is the big one followed by a review of products from some of the American wineries involved in the Mid 70’s Judgement in Paris. On the Venice front are a few different reds but the best selections are two white styles - the well made Soave and a Prosecco. The reds? Mmmmm, my opinion right now is there is not so much to pick from up to and including a couple of Big $ Amarones.
The Judgement in Paris feature reflects the weak Canadian dollar and Napa wine prices in general.
Picks? Vintages maintains its streak of less than thrilling releases so there are few that you need to rush out for again this week.
Pieropan Soave Classico 2014 – Do not expect a buttery chardonnay. This is rated Dry by the LCBO, but perhaps due to its acidity, I’ve found past vintages seem dry beyond that level. Superior producer. Excellent with summer salads.
Belcanto di Bellussi Prosecco Valdobiadine $19.95 – Want a nice dry Italian bubbly? Here you go.
NZ - Saint Clair Family Estate Pinot Gris Rosé 2015 -$16.95 – Not 100% Pinot Gris but rather a blend of Pinots (Gris and Noir) combined to produce a slightly deceptively labelled rosé.
Peninsula Ridge Beal Vineyard rosé 2015 - $13.95 – An excellent and very well priced Ontario rosé. Serve chilled with fish tacos, chicken fajitas, or any hard/ soft cheese, coldcut combo that your heart desires.
TUSCANY - Carpineto Vino Nobile de Montepulciano Riserva 2010 - $29.95 – With 2010 being heralded as THE vintage in Montalcino, it stands to reason that the vintage should be almost the same a mere 20 kms to the east in Montepulciano. At half the price of the Banfi, look for this to be a bargain ‘baby Brunello’. Yes it is a different sangiovese clone, but very similar and great with the same types of food.
Viticcio Chianti Classico 2012 – $20.95 – Ready to drink and enjoy with any tomato sauced, pasta based dishes. Nothing too complex here but enjoyable.
SPAIN - Borsao Tres Picos 2014 - $19.95 – The last few vintages have been less to my taste but I’m willing to try again with this perennial favourite. Still not badly priced (do not take that to mean well priced), this is a quality wine and a good expression of Grenache.
Tobia Seleccion Crianza 2010 - $21.95 – A wine that comes with a warning. While being well scored by the Toronto Star wine reviewer, her review reads like this wine is a midwinter classic. If you buy, consider holding until November perhaps even until your first tourtiere of the season.
Australia - D’Arenberg The Footbolt Shiraz 2013 – A big gulp to be sure. Teethstaining grapes from the McLaren Vale.
CHILE - Montgras Antu Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 - $17.95 – A very good wine, spiced and oaked in good proportion and less of the green notes that some Chilean cabernets can propose.
ARGENTINA - Benmarco Malbec 2013-$17.95 – Huge production so it’s difficult to say if the quality can be maintained across the entire run, but this is a producer who has pleased in the past. Grill something red and don’t expect too much complexity though.
Kaiken Ultra Malbec -$19.95 – Knock 5 points off Suckling’s score and you’ll get what you expect.
Domaine Mathieu Chateauneuf du Pape 2012 $41.95 – From the latest of the truly good vintages in the region, this should still be just coming into its drinking window.

Banfi Brunello di Montalcino 2010 – 5 bucks lass and I’d buy but just too rich for me now.

Monday, May 9, 2016

May's Favourites Release. Really? This was the best you could do?

The first release of May oft times set us up for a summer of backyard grilling and cottage visiting. This year? Not so much. While this is supposed to be a ‘Favourites’ release, I  think there are a few options of interest but to be kind, let’s call it a release you can miss without suffering. No cabernet catatonia, no grenache grief, no merlot melancholy, no pangs of pinot envy, no syrah sorrow, not even xenophobia induced by a lack of, dare I state it, xinomavro. Just go about your life. Or check out the remnants of some past Vintages releases. Me? I’m considering the Gigondas, the Shotfire, and maybe one Barolo on price alone, but c’est tout.
There’s also a nod to New Zealand if you are a fan.
RHÔNE - PIERRE AMADIEU ROMANE-MACHOTTE GIGONDAS 2013 598 cases of 12 $24.95 – In a better year this would be a brilliant buy but even taking into account the Grenache issues for this vintage it is a pretty good option.  Look for more pepper notes than usual.
OZ - THORN-CLARKE SHOTFIRE QUARTAGE 2013   335 cases of 12 $21.95 – Well made, well done wine. Never lets you down.  
OZ - ZONTE'S FOOTSTEP LAKE DOCTOR SHIRAZ 2013 1997 cases of 12 $17.95  - Pretty good quality in the Aussie style.
MIDI -   GÉRARD BERTRAND SYRAH/GRENACHE 2013 1199 cases of 12  $16.95 – Vintages begins to be a Bertrand playground again.
MIDI - SAINT-ROCH VIEILLES VIGNES SYRAH/GRENACHE 2013 615 cases of 12  $16.95 – A toss up between these two from the Midi.  
GREECE - BOUTARI GRANDE RESERVE XINOMAVRO 2010 450 cases of 12  $18.95  - A well priced entry into better, if not finer, Greek wines.
PIEDMONT - CASETTA BAROLO 2011 299 cases of 12 $29.95  - A Barolo under $30? Seems like a no brainer for at least one but hold for a few years and decant well before serving.
TUSCANY -RENDOLA ROSSO DI MONTALCINO 2009 599 cases of 12 $15.95  - Bargain priced Rosso for the BBQ  ready to drink right now if not last year.
 TUSCANY -SAN LEONINO CHIANTI CLASSICO 2012 299 cases of 12  $19.95  
SOUTH AFRICA - CATHEDRAL CELLAR SHIRAZ 2014 (KWV) 559 cases of 12 $16.95  - Solid summer quaffer.
ONTARIO - FIELDING ROSÉ 2015 119 cases of 12 $15.95 – OK pink from a good family producer.  
SPARKLING WINE-BURGUNDY- BAILLY LAPIERRE RÉSERVE BRUT CRÉMANT DE BOURGOGNE 800 cases of 6  $19.95  - Like a pink sparkler every now and again but don’t want to break the bank? Here it is.
TUSCANY -VAL DI SUGA BRUNELLO DI MONTALCINO 2010 198 cases of 12 $48.95 – Another from the brilliant 2010 vintage. 

RHÔNE - DOMAINE COURBIS SAINT-JOSEPH 2013 118 cases of 12 $36.95  - Vines of the Northern Rhone were not as hurt by the cold spring so this is a Rhone vintage where the North is better than the south. 

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

The $17 Pata Negra Reserva 2010 from Spain

Here's an update on the Pata Negra in the last release at $17.00. You may recall it got a scathing review from my brother when recently released in BC. In spite of that, and because I found a very different lot number, I bought 3 on the weekend. The lot number I bought was lot L-L095 and the bottles were terrific.  Yes I went back and bought a few more. Very similar to the first release of Muriel Reserva last year - big, dark cherry notes, some red cherry too, some vanilla from well integrated oak, and spicy notes.

If you can find that lot number, buy it. And let me know what you think. If you bought a different lot number (as you can tell from the photo it's somewhere on the back label usually) tell me which one you bought and what you thought of yours.
Update 2 - I stopped in to the Oakville Cornwall store on the weekend. They had a few of the lot number above and many from different lot numbers. The telling statement about the lots came from a consultant who mentioned that a customer had bought and returned an entire case because it was 'terrible'.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

April 30th Vintages - Lots of options, I suppose.

This final release of April means 4 months have gone in another year. Holy smokes, time flies when you’re drinking wine. This week’s Vintages release is a cornucopia of diverse wines and styles. Three different options this week - The Pacific Northwest, Australian Whites, and lastly Roses from around the world. It’s a release that has a lot of promise. Most of it unfulfilled. Ah well.
LOIRE -   CHÂTEAU DE LA BRETESCHE MUSCADET SÈVRE ET MAINE SUR Lie  799 cases of 12  $13.95 – Melon de Burgogne grape  doing a great impression of an unoaked, full fruit, bargain priced chard.
BURGUNDY -   VINCENT MOTHE CHABLIS 2014    249 cases of 12 $26.95  
WASHINGTON St - HOGUE Genesis Meritage – Good, solid wine for the upcoming BBQ season. Black fruits with oak in support. If you like the CC H3 red blend, this’ll be right for you too.
ARGENTINA - LAMADRID SINGLE VINEYARD RESERVA MALBEC 2012   2998 cases of 12  $17.00  A good wine, not up to Suckling’s score but probably 90. Great for the BBQ with marinated steak, burgers or rare lamb chops.
AUSTRALIA -   WAKEFIELD JARAMAN CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2013   380 cases of 12 $24.95 – Wakefield is renowned for the QPR of their wines. This one goes a little upscale but should be very nice.
Australia – SIDEWOOD SHIRAZ 2013 -$19.95 – Festooned with plenty of gold and scored like crazy by Halliday, this is a new Shiraz for me but I’ll be trying it. The ‘drink by 2043’ is pretty difficult to believe. I expect to be long gone by then but so will Halliday, so how is anyone going to call him on it?
AUSTRALIA -   MITOLO JESTER CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2013   493 cases of 12 $22.95 – Good stuff this.  
RHÔNE -LE GRAVILLAS PLAN DE DIEU CÔTES DU RHÔNE-VILLAGES 2014   598 cases of 12 $17.95 – As good as the Domaine le Grand Retour from recent releases? This one is a year younger and 3 bucks more. I’d buy the latter if it’s still available.
TUSCANY - TENUTA DI CAPRAIA CHIANTI CLASSICO 2013   649 cases of 12 $21.95 – Nice, fruit driven Chianti Classico – not a great year though. Did I say it was cold and wet that May?
SPAIN - DOMINIO DEL VIENTO CRIANZA 2011   712 cases of 12  $16.95  - Might be the better of the two Spanish selections this week.
SPAIN -  MARQUÉS DE CARRION PATA NEGRA RESERVA 2010   2991 cases of 12 $17.00 – Price is right but only if this comes in like the Muriel 2008 Reserva of last year. If so, it might be a box worthy purchase. However, two bottles of this were thin, insipid, uninspired, oaky messes when bought and tried at two different times by my brother and sister in law in B.C. The wine was released there recently (for substantially more $, I might add) so I was looking forward to their opinions. Their palates are finely tuned to the old world so for them to be so unimpressed, it had to be less than mediocre. Here’s the lot number from their second bottle – my public service announcement now comes to a close with two words – buyer beware.

ROSE TABLE WINE – Sitting on the deck

 MIDI - L'OSTAL CAZES ROSÉ 2015   447 cases of 12 $14.95  
PROVENCE - GASSIER SABLES D'AZUR ROSÉ 2015   1199 cases of 12$15.95  

SPAIN - VIÑA REAL ROSADO 2015   794 cases of  6 $15.95; MUGA from the previous Catalogue -$13.95
ARGENTINA -TRAPICHE TERROIR SERIES FINCA AMBROSIA SINGLE VINEYARD – An ISD so 49 cases of 6 at $39.95 – I love these single vineyard productions from Trapiche. Impenetrably dark, unctuous fruit and a bottle made for wrist curls or for bar fights.
NORMAN HARDIE UNFILTERED CHARDONNAY 2014   131 cases of 12 $39.00 – Perhaps not quite so puckering as his PEC Chard, but very good nonetheless.  

Tuscany-RENDOLA BRUNELLO DI MONTALCINO 2004   300 cases of 12  $39.95 – Want to know what your 2010’s will be like in 12 years? Try one of these. 2004 was almost as good a vintage as 2010 so fear not. 

Thursday, April 7, 2016

April 16th Vintages release - Not too much to get excited about.

April 16th and the LCBO Vintages team brings us a feature called European Vocation. This terrible play on European Vacation had us looking forward to Shari Mokg Edwards starring as Clark Griswald in one of those expensive, tax payer sponsored, LCBO web videos. Sadly twas not to be. I guess she lacks the comic chops, but that’s not to say the LCBO doesn’t make us laugh with this release.
AUSTRALIA - DANDELION VINEYARDS LIONHEART OF THE BAROSSA SHIRAZ  1150 cases of 12  $21.95 – Creeping up in price but a perennial favourite here in Ontario. Big, bold, Barossa.  
BRITISH COLUMBIA -  CULMINA R&D RED BLEND 2014   166 cases of 12  $25.95  - From Don Triggs’ latest wine adventure, this is worth trying if only to see how he’s doing. The winemaker was formerly the maker at Osoyoos Larose I think.
RHÔNE - DOMAINE LE GRAND RETOUR PLAN DE DIEU CÔTES DU RHÔNE VILLAGES -   997 cases of 12  $14.95 – Annually a favourite chez moi and at the monopoly. Always nice to get a wine produced almost next door to Chateauneuf and at 1/3rd the price. Good value.  
RHÔNE - SANTA DUC ROAIX LES CROTTES 2010 391 cases of 12  $19.95 – Another of the ‘under the radar’ named Villages (not quite a cru) and from a great vintage. This should be right in its drinking window now and over the next year or two. I read somewhere that this was ‘too hard to sell as ROAIX’ so the fruit is now included in the Santa Duc Quatre Terres CdR-V. A little expensive but worth a shot.
FRANCE, SOUTHWEST - CLOS TROTELIGOTTE K-OR MALBEC 2014   299 cases of 12  $18.95 – Great producer, clever name playing on the Cahors region. Give it a few years then it’d be fun to try blind with a Malbec from Argentina to see the differences in style.
PUGLIA - TORMARESCA TORCICODA PRIMITIVO 2013   274 cases of 12  $20.95 – BBQ time, so why not an Italian Zin from  ANTINORI?
TUSCANY  - SAN FELICE IL GRIGIO CHIANTI CLASSICO RISERVA 2011   298 cases of 12  $27.95 – Solid producer and  year, but not cheap. One might be worth a try.
 TUSCANY  - GUADO AL TASSO IL BRUCIATO 2013   288 cases of 12  $25.95  - A blend of Cab Sauv, Merlot and Syrah  also from Antinori.
SOUTH AFRICA -  RUSTENBERG CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2013   299 cases of 12  $19.95  - Silver medals at 4 different major wine shows as well as scores of 89 and 90 points from critics not named Suckling give this wine credibility. While new world in place, this is a slightly more Bordeaux style of cab sauv.
SPAIN - CVNE RESERVA 2011   694 cases of  6  $24.95  - Excellent producer, ageable but also drinkable now.
SPAIN -VIÑA REAL CRIANZA 2012   996 cases of 6  $18.95  - Ditto. How’s that for a detailed review?
CALIFORNIA - MICHAEL DAVID FREAKSHOW CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2013   658 cases of 12  $26.95 – What a great label! Described as reminiscent of the Sgt Pepper Album cover (you kids can ask your parents), this is a big wine from the Phillips brothers in Lodi California.  
Tuscany -AVIGNONESI VINO NOBILE DI MONTEPULCIANO 2012   166 cases of 12  $39.95 – Visiting the wineries around Montepulciano and gauging the locals’ impressions of the newish owners of Avignonesi was quite interesting last fall. The opinion seemed to be that they were outsiders and were not interested in the traditional ways nor integrating themselves. The locals all had another winery that they recommended we visit instead of going there. Avignonesi wines do score well though it appears they have decided to move into Brunello territory, price wise.
BURGUNDY -CHÂTEAU-FUISSÉ TÊTE DE CRU POUILLY-FUISSÉ 2012 ISD  34 cases of 12  $41.95 – Tasty chardonnay but $$’s.  
Tuscany - LA LECCIAIA BRUNELLO DI MONTALCINO 2010   147 cases of 6  $57.95 – Too many $$’s for me.   
Tuscany -IL GRIGIO DA SAN FELICE GRAN SELEZIONE CHIANTI CLASSICO   333 cases of 6  $46.95  - You know this was Wine Enthusiast's #1 wine last year, right? Just sayin'.

OZ - BAROSSA VALLEY ESTATE EBENEZER CABERNET SAUVIGNON   221 cases of 6   $39.95 – Ebenezer syrah is (doing my best Jimmy Fallon doing his best Donald Trump) “HUUUGE!” I see no reason for the cab to be anything less.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Vintages April 2 - Old vs. New - At my age, you know who I'm cheering for!

A release that features comparisons of a number of old and new world  wines. The good news here is that you get to see not only the stylistic  differences in the wines but also the differences in the way wines are marketed and sold in the old and new world. As you may have noticed, one often focuses on the place, the other mostly on the grape.
NORTON RESERVA CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2012   558 cases 0f 12  $17.95 – Among the better buys in the release, this Cab will offer lots to accompany your spring BBQs.
JIM BARRY THE LODGE HILL SHIRAZ 2013   748 cases 0f 12 $24.95 – 2013 would have been harvested in the March April timeframe so this one has a wee bit of age on it. The Lodge Hill is always a favourite, slightly cooler climate and ready to go, big but not overwhelming.
ZONTE'S FOOTSTEP AVALON TREE CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2013   638 cases 0f 12  $17.95 – A new one for me. Based on their shiraz wines I have no reason to expect anything less than a good product.
THORN-CLARKE SHOTFIRE SHIRAZ 2013   390 cases 0f 12  $21.95  - Excellent
XANADU DJL CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2012   248 cases 0f 12 $22.95 – Baby brother to their excellent and recently released Xanadu Cab which sold out at my local stores faster than you can say Olivia Newton John.
CHILE- EMILIANA COYAM 2012 - $29.95 – The 95 points from Suckling is over the top, but the fact that this is an organic product is important to some people. Fans of Chile may also like the Vina Terapaca in this release. 93 points (oh Mr. Suckling – give it a rest!) and only $17.95.
BRUNEL DE LA GARDINE CROZES-HERMITAGE 2014   148 cases 0f 12 $23.95 – Unfair to compare this to a 2013 Aussie Shiraz, if only because  a 2013 Shiraz is closer to a Northern Hemisphere 2012 Vintage wine and will be considerably more ready to drink. That said, Crozes Hermitage  wines are age worthy in the mid term and are well produced.  
Gerard Bertrand LA CLAPE CSM 2011 - $18.95 – Good wine, right in its drinking window now.
MAS DES BRESSADES CUVÉE TRADITION 2014   614 cases 0f 12 $16.95  - OK wine for the price.
DAUVERGNE RANVIER GRAND VIN COTES DU RHÔNE-VILLAGES   417 cases 0f 12  $18.95  - A Grenache based wine from a bad year for Grenache. Might be worth trying one just to see.
STELLENRUST TIMELESS 2011   133 cases 0f 12  $19.95  A very good South African Bordeaux blend.
HOGUE GENESIS CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2013   502 cases 0f 12  $18.95 – Well priced, similar in profile to the Columbia Crest Cabernet.  
Italy - VENETO
ZENATO VALPOLICELLA SUPERIORE 2013   1198 cases 0f 12 $17.95  - A W.o.M. and I would describe this as a solid wine, very serviceable and sure to please a wide variety of palates.  Aged  for approximately 12 months in barrel.
ALOIS CUNTO PALLAGRELLO NERO 2011 -  28 cases 0f 12 $24.95  - An ISD, so few and far between unless you live in one of the chosen areas. Floral and spicy, expect harsh tannins fronted by black fruits. 
SPAIN – BODEGAS LANGA PI 3.1415 CONCEJON - $20.95- Like the Mencia grape was in Bierzo a few years back, here’s a wine grape that is unheard of outside of Aragon in Spain. Made from Concejon grapes, this is something different to try. Fulfills the Vintages responsibility to bring us ‘different’ products, I guess.
RHÔNE – JEAN-LUC COLOMBO TERRES BRÛLÉES CORNAS SYRAH 2012 ISD   22 cases 0f 6 $72.95 – Cornas is old world syrah at its finest.
SPAIN - TORRES SALMOS 2012   147 cases 0f 6 $30.95  
S.A. – BOEKENHOUTSKLOOF THE CHOCOLATE BLOCK 2013   232 cases 0f 12 $39.95  
OZ - MOLLYDOOKER TWO LEFT FEET 2014   98 cases 0f 12  $33.95  
B.C. - BURROWING OWL SYRAH 2013   166 cases 0f 12 $40.95 

Friday, March 11, 2016

March 19th Vintages Release notes - Italy and Israel.

March 19th has almost arrived, (or if you’re reading this after that date, it’s come and gone), and with it comes a mixed bag of global wine options. Although Vintages features Italy and Israel this time around, there is a reasonably good variety of wines and wine origins from which to choose. I’ll sort them by country this week and highlight my top flight choices with an asterisk or two.
LUCA LABORDE DOUBLE SELECT SYRAH 2013 335 cases of 6 $29.95 – While expensive for an Argentinian Syrah, the Luca line of wines produced by Laura Catena is always very good. Gets the omnipresent 90+ points from James Suckling.
ALTA VISTA PREMIUM ESTATE MALBEC 2013 419 cases of 12 $19.95 – OK QPR
HOWARD PARK MIAMUP CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2013 – $22.95 - A very tasty western Australian Cabernet. Less in your face than some Southeasterners from Australia.
*MONTGRAS ANTU SYRAH 2014 598 cases of 12 $17.95 – Always excellent. Best given a bit of time and served with anything red that’s been grilled.  Look for hints of vanilla, and lots of chocolate and black fruits.
MONTGRAS INTRIGA CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2012 199 cases of 12  $22.95 – A close second to the Syrah, this cabernet from the Maipo Valley should be very good over the next few years offering currants, mint and hints of loam.
*Chateau du Cedre CEDRE Heritage 2012 - $17.95 – Chateau du Cedre is among the better houses in the Cahors region, producing superb Malbecs.  Roger Voss scored this 94 points but suggests you wait a couple of years to open. If you must open it, decant it early for a meal of grilled meats.
CHÂTEAU DE L'OU INFINIMENT SYRAH 2012 279 cases of 12  $26.95 -100% syrah grapes from the Languedoc.
**LE GRAVILLAS CÔTES DU RHÔNE-VILLAGES SÉGURET 2014 698 cases of 12 $16.95 – When you can get a named Village for under $17, even if the village is not one of the ones regarded as a cru, you should consider it. This is among the first of the 2014’s to come in. 2014 appears to be regarded as a good vintage in the South Rhone.
NOZZOLE CHIANTI CLASSICO RISERVA 2011 1298 cases of 12 $19.95 – Lots of cases so no rush here.
*BARONE RICASOLI ROCCA GUICCIARDA RISERVA CHIANTI 799 cases of 12 $24.95 – Always very good, this wine loves to be paired with braises, stews, Bolognese sauce – oh hell, any Italian food.
*LA BRACCESCA VINO NOBILE DI MONTEPULCIANO 2012 299 cases of 12 $24.95 – From Antinori’s Montepulciano estate. Having tasted through a number of 2012  Vino Nobiles last fall, I expect this to be very good. Best given a wee bit of time to allow it to rest, you can serve over the next 3 years or so with any Tuscan specialty. Perhaps a big T bone?
*SEÑORÍO DE SOTILLO CRIANZA 2011 599 cases of 12  $19.95 – Dark, but not brooding fruit.
There are also at least three wines from the Vintages Essentials that are  worth considering this month. Each is on sale and they are among the better offerings. Look for the Louis Martini 2013 Cabernet, the Wynn’s Coonawarra Cabernet or the Two Hands Gnarly Dudes Shiraz.
MUGA SELECCIÓN ESPECIAL 2010   152 cases of 12 $39.95 – Terrific producer, classic Spanish style. 
THORN-CLARKE WILLIAM RANDELL SHIRAZ 2012   89 cases of 6  $44.95 – Like ‘em big? I mean really big? Here’s your pick.
IL MOLINO DI GRACE IL MARGONE GRAN SELEZIONE CHIANTI 2010 149 cases of 12  $39.95 – The top of the Chianti Classico pyramid from Il Molino di Grace.
ORNELLAIA 2012   199 cases of 6 $195.95 - $200? Fahgedaboudit! Out of my snack bracket.
CHÂTEAU MONT-REDON CHÂTEAUNEUF-DU-PAPE 2011   167 cases of 12 $46.95
BARONE RICASOLI CASALFERRO 2011   38 cases of 6 $51.95 – A single varietal (merlot) from a single vineyard in Gaiole (Chianti). The Baron is renowned for his quality – curses, two bucks lass and I might spring for one of these.
Donnatella Cinelli Columbini Brunello di Mantalcino 2008 $44.95 – Never has the value of a vintage been more obvious than with this wine. The 2010 was available for $58. An older but much less heralded vintage, this one comes in almost $14 less.

OLARRA ERUDITO RESERVA ESPECIAL 2009   99 cases of 6  $37.95 – Good, but don’t let the score fool you and there will not be many of them around.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

March 5 Release - Let's just tear out the first half, throw it away and go bargain hunting (relatively speaking) from the rest

This release features Californians (mostly from Napa) which I chose to completely ignore. The sky high prices for these wines make them unfit for my consumption. I almost had to ignore those in the Brunello feature as well but having been in Montalcino last summer, I must confess a twinge of fondness and interest. The price I paid for the Piccolomini Pianrosso single vineyard offering compared to the price the LCBO is charging for the normale is a like an ice cold shower. Reality really bites. That said, the March 05 release has some wines that are worth your consideration.
Spain figures prominently in my selections from this release and with good reason. There are a number of apparently fine wines
Baron de Ley 2010 Reserva at $21.95  One of the WOMs, it’s an ok priced Rioja that’ll age nicely for years  and provide ample pleasure with food right away.
Bordon Rioja Reserva 2009 $19.95 -Equally good,  with one more year of age on it, and two fewer dollars expense,  this subtle food wine will not overpower but rather complement your meals.
Jardin de Luculo 2012 – Are you looking for something other than Tempranillo? Here’s a well scored Grenache that will be good for a few years to come.
Descendientes  de J. Palacios Petalos 2013 - $24.95 - A collaboration of Alvero Palacios and Ricardo Perez,  the wine is produced using 100% Mencia grapes from the  Bierzo region. It is annually a treat both visually and to your tastebuds. Give it a bit of time or decant.
Sisters Run Cow’s Corner GSM 2014 $16.95– So far in 2016 it seems Sister’s Run is this year’s Gerard Bertrand, seemingly a new offering available in each Vintages release. The GSM is a new one for me but I’ll try it just because of my fondness for this blend. Think of it as a slightly expensive Cotes du Rhone.
Xavier COTES Du RHONE 2012 -$17.00 – One of The Food and Drink ‘Specials’-No need to rush for this one. There are almost 3500 cases of it. Upper priced for most Cotes du Rhone but from this negociant/ producer it might be a worthwhile selection. If you’re a penny pinching C d R fan I suggest you look around for some leftover 2013 Domaine le Grand Retour Plan de Dieu or drop into the Languedoc for some leftover 2012 Chateau des Aladeres Vielle Vignes. Both were $14.95
JOSH Cabernet Sauvignon 2013- $17.00 – The other Food and Drink Special. Seems like a not bad price for a Cali cab from a good year but I’m not familiar with the producer. 3000 cases minus 1 means there’ll be lots. If you’re a cab fan, compare it to the Columbia Crest in this release to see if it’s as good. Reviews do seem OK.
Columbia Crest Grand Estates Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 - $17.95 – Ready for short term consumption, this is a solid, well made wine if a little heavy handed with oak sometimes.
Castello di Bibbione Chianti Classico Reserva 2010 - $22.95 – OK priced Chianti from a good vintage.
John X Merriman – Rustenberg 2012 $24.95 presents a Bordeaux blend from South Africa that can be enjoyed for the next 5 – 8 years.
Finca el Origin 2013 Malbec – $19.95 – The other WOM will provide a great accompaniment to burgers or sausages from the grill.
NK’MIP CELLARS QWAM QWMT 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon - $28.95 -A flashy, fleshy, sophisticated cabernet from the Southern Okanagan. The native Canadian band’s land may be the best grape growing soil in the entire valley.  Pronounced as follows, (Nk'Mip: in-Ka-meepQwAM QwMT: kw-em kw-empt), Winemaker Randy Picton said some years ago, "It took a leap of faith for the band to use a name that was so hard to pronounce,"  but the name honours both the terrior and the heritage of the band.
It’s very hard to pass up the Brunelli in the release but one of my New Year’s resolutions was to hold the line at an absolute max of $50. So far so good! Let’s start the big buck options with:
LUCA G LOT Chardonnay 2013 $34.95 – OK, let’s get the elephant in the room out of the way immediately. Yes I am recommending an Argentinian Chardonnay that sells for $35 bucks! Were this a Cali chard of this quality, it’d be at least two or three times the price. It would be fun to have a Chard-off among this one, something from Napa, a premiere cru Chablis, the Hamilton Russell and say Norman Hardie’s or last year’s Closson Chase PEC County chardonnay. After the tasting, enjoy them all with fresh, pan fried pickerel, bass or even some shrimp on the bar-b. Life doesn’t get better.

Frescobaldi Castelgiocondo 2010 $49.95 – Don’t spring for the litre and a half when their 750 ml slides in under the $50 mark. You‘re better off buying two of them but there is something to be said for those big bottles! 

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Feb.20 Vintages - Australia takes centre stage

Vintages February 20th release features Australia and, while it has some of the same old same olds, it also has some new and different wines for us. Interesting that the winery occupying half a page in the Adelaide Hills section is not represented in the release. Odd? Not for the LCBO. I’m sure whoever took the pic had an enjoyable choco vino tasting at that winery. And I’m sure the owners of Hahndorf Hill were content not to deal with the LCBO. Giving the Penfolds mirror almost a quarter of a page baffles me as well. I cannot imagine a real retailer publishing a retail catalogue and giving up three quarters of a page to suppliers not even in the catalogue.  
Another personal opinion is that many of the wine critics’ scores are somewhat elevated for the wines presented. James Halliday and Campbell Mattinson are Australian wine writers and are not dissimilar to many of our own local writers in that respect. Let’s just say they are susceptible to nationalistic tastebuds, shall we? On the other hand, James Suckling seems more interested in promoting his wine website - high scores keep his name before the public on shelf talkers and that drives subscriptions to his site. Keep these facts in mind and reduce their numerical scores by 2 to 5 points and you will get a better idea of what to expect in the bottles. On to the picks!
Twelftree Greenock Ebenezer Grenache Mataro 2012 – $23.95- 399 cases of 6 - Expect a sleek OZ take on the Southern Rhone stalwart. Twelftree Wines, from Michael Twelftree of Two Hands fame, is a limited collection of Grenache based wines. They’ve been sourced from vineyard sites to present the best of what both the grapes and sites have to offer. Here the Grenache is from near Moppa Springs and the Mourvedre (Mataro in Oz) is from a vineyard near the village of Ebenezer in the Barossa Valley.
3 Rings Shiraz 2013- $18.95 – 888 cases of 12 and as the label says, “It’s magic”. And not badly priced either.
Xanadu Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 - $29.95 – 199 cases of 12 in the release. A winner of the Cabernet Trophy as the best cab in the national wine show in Oz. From the Margaret River area, expect more Bordeaux influences than those exhibited by the Katnook below.
Katnook Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 -$29.95 –332 cases of 6 - A wonderful cabernet from the Coonawarra region, expect black fruit and hints of eucalyptus. Great with lamb and historically 91- 92 points in my book.
Jip JIP Rocks Shiraz 2013 - $16.95 – 998 cases of 12 of this well priced, solid wine for BBQs.
Penny’s Hill Cracking Black Shiraz 2013 -$21.95 – 503 cases of 12 Big, rich, dark wine from the McLaren Vale.
D’Arenberg The Custodian Grenache 2012 - $19.95 – 998 cases of this good sub $20 wine.
Also in the release is ‘Fields of Joy’ from the Two Hands Picture Series. While the Picture Series identifies the entry level wines in the Two Hands portfolio it does not represent a reduction in quality. ‘FoJ’ is from grapes grown in the Clare Valley region and as Michael Twelftree described an earlier vintage “…Clare Valley is easily one of the most soft and elegant regions I work with in Australia. The wines have a lifted aromatic profile and a very tight and slightly lean palate that is … caressing and silky, I always love Clare for its feminine nature.”
LaPosta Armando Bonarda 2014 $14.95 647 cases- of 12 – Fruity, but balanced. If you’re looking for something different you might want to give this a try.
Gadais Muscadet Sevre & Maine – 2013- $15.95 – Feeling like a white? There’ll be 504 cases of this somewhat underappreciated  wine from the Loire. Made from the Melon de Borgogne grape and right in its drinking window.
Muriel Gran Reserva 2005- $28.95 –898 cases- Looking for an older wine? This has 10 and a half years on it but is still going strong. Ready to serve immediately with charcuterie, tapas or anything grilled or roasted. The 2008 Muriel Reserva was excellent and I expect nothing less from its older, bigger brother (the 2005).
Glaetzer Bishop Shiraz 2013 – $40.00- 255 cases of 6 - I had a previous vintage of this alongside Glaetzer’s Amon Ra and there was little, if anything to choose between the two. Super wine.

Raymond Usseglio Cuvee Imperiale Chateauneuf du Pape 2012 – $57.95 - 120 cases and superb, from vines over 100 years old. In 2010 this cuvee flirted with 100 points. If you can afford it, this might be worth wrestling for.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Feb.06 - Southern France and South Africa

Yee gods, seems like yesterday we were celebrating the New Year and already another month is gone! The first release of February brings us 2 features – Southern France and South Africa. Both are somewhat underappreciated regions which should be a good thing for your wallet. If the Vintages buyers are on the ball we should have some tasty well priced bargains.  Key word in both these statements is ‘should’. Here we go.
PIERRE-LUC BOUCHAUD MUSCADET SÈVRE ET MAINE 2014   336 cases of 12 $14.95 – At a tasting last year I was sure this was a far more expensive white Burgundy. Shame on me! It turned out to be a Loire Muscadet Sèvre et Maine produced from 100% melon de bourgogne grapes. It’s an excellent option if you’re looking for a well priced daily drinker to replace more expensive chardonnays. Terrific on its own or with some grilled shrimp, and even better with fresh water pickerel or bass.
KEN FORRESTER OLD VINE RESERVE CHENIN BLANC 2015   300 cases of 12 $17.95 – Good, new world, chenin blanc. (There’s a Cali alternative for $1 more that you also might want to try this week).
Three Cabs/ Bordeaux blends from South Africa. All are very good.
RUPERT & ROTHSCHILD CLASSIQUE 2012 A 12 503 cases of 12 $22.95 
RUSTENBERG RM NICHOLSON 2013   299 cases of 12 $19.95 
CAVE DE ROQUEBRUN LA GRANGE DES COMBES SAINT-CHINIAN  277 cases of 12 $18.95 – Consistent, quality  wine.
 HECHT & BANNIER MINERVOIS 2013   279 cases of 12   $19.95   I tend to think of Minervois reds as the  equivalents of a lower cru Cotes du Rhone Villages. H and B are excellent producers.
FONCALIEU RÉSERVE DU CROUZAU ST. GERVAIS CÔTES DU RHONE VILLAGES 2012-  599 cases of 12 $16.95 – From the named village of St. Gervais, this is a well priced option and from a better year for Grenache (better than 2013 for sure) in the Southern Rhone.
DOMAINE DE LA COLLINE ST-JEAN VACQUEYRAS 2012 300 cases of 12  $24.95
BOUTARI NAOUSSA XINOMAVRO 2013 450 cases of 12 $13.95 – Grill something to accompany this well priced quality wine and be comfortable serving your guests xinomavro instead of Cab Sauv, Malbec or Shiraz. Roughly translated to acid black, that about sums this one up.
SISTERS RUN CALVARY HILL SHIRAZ 2013 - $15.95 – Well made, slightly less ostentatious (that is to say, fewer medals on the bottle) shiraz.
THE BLACK CHOOK SHIRAZ/VIOGNIER 2014   1063 cases of 12 $17.95 – Festooned with enough medals to sink a super freighter, this wine is a good if somewhat old school shiraz.
CASTELLI DEL GREVEPESA CLEMENTE VII CHIANTI CLASSICO 2010  599 cases of 12 $20.95  - 2010 was a wonderful year in Tuscany, and this should be in its prime.
COLUMBIA CREST H3 LES CHEVAUX RED BLEND 2012   335 cases of 12  $19.95  - A  crowd pleasing blend  for parties and BBQs. I’ve found the Columbia Crest wines a little heavy on the oak lately but YMMV.
4 Bubblies for Valentine’s Day from well known producers
GÉRARD BERTRAND CUVÉE THOMAS JEFFERSON BRUT CRÉMANT DE LIMOUX 2014  499 cases of 6 $19.95 – Something a little different from Gerard Bertrand. Could be time for a Cremant fest! This nice blend of Chenin and Chard is perfect to say Cheers while playing Ch-Ch-Changes at your next Bowie themed house party.
NINO FRANCO BRUT VALDOBBIADENE PROSECCO SUPERIORE   400 cases of 12 $21.95  - Worth searching out.
PIERRE SPARR BRUT ROSÉ CRÉMANT D'ALSACE 330 cases of 12  $18.95  - Well known Alsace producer, high quality  in both still and sparklers. Butted up against Germany and Switzerland, Alsace produces some terrific cool climate wines.
SOUTH AFRICA - GRAHAM BECK BRUT ROSÉ   499 cases of 6 $19.95 – One more well known producer, this time from South Africa.
ROCCA DELLE MACÌE RISERVA DI FIZZANO SINGLE VINEYARD 2011  117 cases of 12 $32.95 – This single vineyard wine meets all the requirements to be a Gran Selezione and should be terrific. Not necessarily a contemplation (or is that meditation?) wine, this’ll be wonderful with any Tuscan cuisine.
Secret des Schistes 2011 – This wine, made from 100% syrah grapes, gets a wonderful score from Jeb Dunnuck. Does it live up to it? Maybe, but the wine is new to me and with Crozes Hermitages and St. Joseph’s available for less, I'll have a hard time spending this much. 
BURROWING OWL MERLOT 2012 167  cases of 12 $39.95  
SAN GIACOMO BRUNELLO DI MONTALCINO 2010   111 cases of 12  $49.95 – Well scored by all, and from the 2010 vintage (broken record time, I know!) this’ll be ready now with a good decant but superb in a couple of years.

CHÂTEAU LA NERTHE CHÂTEAUNEUF-DU-PAPE 2012   99 cases of 12 $49.95 – Expensive for the quality you’ll get. It’s tough to decide if you should spend the $50 on a Brunello instead.  

Monday, January 18, 2016

January 23rd - Argentina, Chile and Portugal

This week we get the featured  Argentina + Chile and  Portugal backs them up. It’s another yawner but there appear to be a few more QPR bargains this time than in the year’s first one - the supposed ‘smart shopper’ release. This one also has a few intermediate priced wines ($18 – $30) worthy of consideration.  Don’t overthink them though and my recommendation is, should you see some leftovers that you really enjoyed from past releases, don’t hesitate to spring for the known entities.
From a release perspective, let’s just say if the LCBO was the Leafs, they’d be on at least a two game losing streak.
CONO SUR SINGLE VINEYARD EL RECURSO BLOCK 18 CABERNET 2014 349 cases of 12 - $18.95 – From a single vineyard in the Maipo valley, expect some black fruit and green aromas and flavours, hints of mint, loam and currants.
TONELES TONEL 22 2013 - $17.95 – A well scored Malbec but it is new to me.
Trapiche Broquel Bonarda 2013 - $14.95 – A lesser known and not widely imported wine, Bonarda is worth trying. Also known as Charbono (in the U.S.) and Douce Noir or Corbeau (in France).  The price is right for this example and the producer superior. Fruit forward and not too tannic but requires a long growing season to fully ripen. In a poor year expect green, vegetal flavours.
SANTA ALICIA GRAN RESERVA CAB SAUV 2011 - $15.95 – Right in its drinking window.
Concha Y TORO Carmenere 2013 $19.95 – Serve up this Chilean wine with smoky BBQ’d beef. Not Cab Franc, not Cab Sauv, nor Merlot but hints of each.
TERRAZAS DE LOS ANDES RESERVA MALBEC 2013   613 cases of 12 $18.95 – Lamb or beef Burgers? Nice pairing.  
HUGH HAMILTON  JIM JIM  THE DOWN-UNDERDOG  SHIRAZ 2013   829 cases of 12 $15.95 – Very solid Aussie product.
WAKEFIELD CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2013   2111 cases of 12 $17.95 – There is a reason that the LCBO bought so many bottles. It is always solid for the price.
SHINGLEBACK DAVEY ESTATE SHIRAZ 2012  223 cases of 12 $23.95   Expensive for the release but perhaps worth it.
 LA FERME DU MONT PREMIÈRE CÔTE CÔTES DU RHÔNE 2013   1007 cases of 12 $15.95 – A CdR that will be fine to serve on any occasion or with any meat from roast chicken to lamb to beef to pork.  
LES AMOURIERS SIGNATURE VACQUEYRAS 2012   239 cases of 12 $26.95 – A better vintage than 2013, worth opening the wallet for one or two.
E. GUIGAL CROZES-HERMITAGE 2012  199 cases of 12 $28.95  - A nice syrah from the Rhone’s  best known negotiant, this’ll be good now and provide pleasure to come. Save it for a rack of lamb. 
CARPINETO CHIANTI CLASSICO RISERVA 2010   249 cases of 12 $29.95 Also expensive for this release but from a superior vintage. Worth trying one or two and this one should be ready to drink but also hold if you wish.
BASCIANO CHIANTI RUFINA 2012   $15.95 A food wine to be sure but well priced and I expect a fuller, darker wine than most regular (non Classico) Chiantis. Try with bison or wild boar ragu and pasta. Ok, substitute lamb or pork if you wish.
LANDER-JENKINS CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2013 899 cases of 12 $18.95 – New to me. This could be a pleasant surprise for its price. For those familiar with ‘The Show’, think of it as that wine without the marketing.  Nothing too sophisticated but I expect it’ll fit well round a BBQ later in the spring.
KENDALL-JACKSON VINTNER'S RESERVE CABERNET SAUVIGNON   499 cases of 12 $22.95 Solid. Will never have you saying “Wow, what’s that?” but also will never have you saying “Ewwww, what’s that?”
FATTORIA DEI BARBI BRUNELLO DI MONTALCINO 2010   223 cases of 12 $49.95 – If decanted for an hour or three this one is usually ready to drink. Trying not to sound like a broken record, this is from what is considered a great vintage.