April 3, 2009




All recommendations are linked to the LCBO database enabling you to do an instant store search for current inventory.

Michael Vaughan's Liquid Assets
Vintages Sale Bargains
Easter Wine & Food Pairings
Best Buys from the April 11th Release

Last Monday, I gave FBTI Supporter's access to the 71 March 30th Vintages sale items (originally listed last November) appearing exclusively on our website. Many of these iems are still available and we are pleased to present details to our general readership. There are two formats. First, a fully linked, colour-coded sale list (two pages) – click here to see. There is also five pages of detailed, linked, tasting reviews of every sale item – click here to see.

As next Saturday's Vintages April 11th release will likely be available this Thursday, April 9th I have decided to provide some advance reviews of my recommendations. It features 110 selections with two thematics. This first is "perfect Easter food & wine paings" with 22 releases. The second is "Eco wines are booming" with 20 selections.

Starting with the former, there are openers, closers and then matches for ham, salmon, lamb and turkey. Honestly, I can't see some of the matches, but for what it's worth, here are some of my recommendations.

Those looking for a Champagne-inspired opener should try the ** (out of ***+) flavourful effervescent Dufouleur 2005 Crémant de Bourgogne Brut (47241) at $21.95. This Burgundian blend of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Aligoté has a very pale straw colour and crisp, ripe, lemon-melon nose. On the palate, it's dry, gently honeyed, very pleasant and medium-light bodied with slightly spicy, ripe, lemon-melon flavours.

For ham, the tasty, albeit very floral, Domaine de Gourgazaud 2007 Viognier (734533) at $15.95 is quite OK with *+/** rating.
This French Vin de Pays d'Oc has slightly honeyed, light, ripe melon aromas along with some spicy, wild flower notes. On the palate it's dry, spicy, medium-light bodied and quite harmonious with tangy, ripe melon flavours with a crisp, yellow grapefruit finish.

An even better ham bet might be Malivoire 2008 Ladybug Rosé (559088) at $15.95. This *+/** homegrown VQA Niagara Escarpment blend of Cabernet Franc, Gamay and Pinot Noir has a medium-light reddish pink colour. The nose is quite attractive with spicy, honeyed, plum-strawberry notes. It's fairly dry, harmonious and medium-light bodied with spicy, plummy, strawberry flavours.

The Vintages Catalogue suggests the Loron 2007 Bourgogne Blanc (110304) at $19.95 with salmon. I feel, however, that this ** best buy and the Pinot Noir would actually be better with turkey. This 100% Burgundian Chardonnay has a forward medium light yellow colour. The nose is gently complex and slightly spicy with toasty, ripe lemon meringue notes. It's dry, medium bodied and quite harmonious with tangy, ripe lemon meringue flavours and a lingering, somewhat toasty finish.

The excellent Brancott 2006 Reserve Pinot Noir (93708) at $29.95, which hails from the Central Otago region of New Zealand and rated **/**+ should also go well with turkey, or even better, duck. It has a surprisingly deep intense purple color and a rather spicy, stewed cherry nose with lots of vanilla-cedar notes. It's dry, medium bodied, very spicy, plummy, intense, dried ripe red cherry and raspberry flavours with a lingering, tangy finish. It comes with a screwcap closure and will probably get even better with another year of aging.

Ironically, I thought that the Georges Duboeuf Domaine des Sablons 2007 Saint-Amour (2923) at $19.95, which the Vintages Catalogue recommends with turkey, would go better with either salmon or ham. This Beaujolais single cru Gamay was rated **, it has a fairly fruity, ripe plum and red apple nose. It's dry, medium bodied and loaded with fresh, ripe plum and red cherry flavours along with a lingering, crisp finish.

My best buy organic wine hails from Chile's Casablanca Valley and is absolutely ready to drink. The tangy yellow grapefruit flavours of Natura 2007 Sauvignon Blanc Special Lot (93914) at $15.95 hit the spot. With a terrific quality/price ratio, it has an excellent  **/**+ rating. The nose is attractive, fresh and slightly spicy with honeyed, faintly peachy, ripe melon-grapefruit notes. On the palate it is dry, tangy and medium-light bodied with slightly spicy, ripe lemon-grapefruit flavours with a lingering, crisp, very gently grassy finish. It comes with a screwcap closure, is completely unoaked and would be perfect for seafood or oysters. This organic wine contains 23 mg/L of free sulphur.

My release "must try white" is made from the indigenous Grillo grape from Sicily. Italy's Feudo Montoni 2007 Grillo (116319) at only $13.95 is a ** destination. The nose is very attractive with spicy, yellow grapefruit and wild flower notes. It has dry, bright, medium-light bodied, spicy, yellow grapefruit flavours with a lingering, tangy finish. A perfect versatile warm weather white, which will be perfect with grilled calamari.

Happy Easter


Michael Vaughan's Liquid Assets
Best Buys in the Vintages
March 28th Release

Tomorrow's Vintages March 28th release features 100 selections. It has a Spanish focus with 16 "tempting Tempranillo" reds  along with a "Wines of Burgundy" thematic featuring 8 wines from four houses.

Starting with Tempranillo, this is the best release of Spanish reds in the past decade with more than half of the wines receiving a "recommended" rating. Four are under $20. One of the most popular listings is bound to be Bodegas Palacios Remondo 2007 La Vendimia (674564) at $15.95. It rated *+/**. This 50-50 blend of Tempranillo and Garnacha has a fairly deep intense purple colour. Juicy, ripe cherry nose with some cedary notes. Dry, medium to medium-light bodied, gently juicy, ripe, plummy-cherry flavours with a lingering, spicy, harmonious, vanilla-tinged finish. An international, wide-appeal style.

For organic wine fans, don't miss the **, Bodegas Navarrsotillo 2004 Magister Bibendi Crianza (118125) at $19.95. This blend of 90% Tempranillo and 10% Garnacha has a very deep intense purple colour. Attractive, slightly spicy, plummy, raspberry-cherry nose with some nuances of cedar. Dry, well balanced, medium bodied, ripe plum and juicy red and black cherry flavours with a lingering vanilla tinged finish. This organic wine contains 6 mg/L of free sulphur.

In the $20 plus range, there are five recommended reds. My top buy would be the ***, Bodegas Valdemar 2001 Conde de Valdemar Gran Reserva (114504) at $39.95. This blend of 85% Tempranillo, 10% Mazuelo and 5% Graciano has an extremely deep red colour with an ambering edge. Fairly intense, complex, mature, intense, plums, prunes and sandalwood vanilla nose. Dry, well structured, harmonious, medium-full bodied, ripe, plummy, sandalwood flavours with lingering, gently cedary finish.

If you are on a budget the **+/***, Ontañon Reserva 2001 (725895) at $25.95, would be one to try. This blend of 95% Tempranillo and 5% Graciano has a deep intense purple colour. Intense, spicy, vibrant, ripe Damson plum nose with some vanilla notes. Dry, very bright, medium bodied, harmonious, well structured, ripe, plummy, cherry flavours with a lingering, gently cedary finish.

Of the five white Burgundies, three are recommended. The best buy with **+ is Chartron & Trebuchet 2006 Saint-Romain Blanc (110296) at $24.95. This 100% Chardonnay has a bright very light yellow colour. Intense, spicy, vibrant, ripe rhubarb-ruby grapefruit aromas. Attractive, dry, medium bodied, harmonious, tangy, ripe lemon-melon-grapefruit-rhubarb flavours with a lingering zesty finish.

Of the three red Burgundies, only Domaine Michel Caillot 2005 Beaune 1er Cru Les Avaux (116111) at $39.95 was recommended with **+/***. Fairly deep intense purple colour. Complex, somewhat cedary, stewed plum and black cherry purée nose. Dry, medium to medium-full bodied, well structured, plummy, ripe cherry flavours with a lingering, slightly cedary finish.

Other best buys include a **+ Italian white - Torre Varano 2007 Taburno Falanghina (106351) at only $16.95. This 100% Falanghina, which is native to the Campania region, has a fairly deep yellow colour. Intense, spicy, complex, honeyed, lemon meringue nose with some floral-beeswax notes. Dry, medium-full bodied, harmonious, well structured, rhubarb-tinged, ripe lemon meringue flavours with a lingering, quite delicious, fairly high acid, toasty finish.

From British Columbia, don't miss the **+ Mission Hill 2006 Family Estate Reserve Sauvignon Blanc (57430) at $19.95. Light yellow colour. Fresh, juicy, ripe grapefruit-melon aromas. Dry, harmonious, medium bodied, nicely structured, ripe melon flavours with a lingering, ripe grapefruit finish. Showing very nicely.