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.