May 22 , 2009




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

An Exclusive for FBTI Supporters
Not Posted on the website until Friday, May 29th

Michael Vaughan’s May 23rd Update
Monday, May 25 Vintages Sale
Plus Some Vintages Best Buys

Today I am giving FBTI Supporters my exclusive, first-in-line access to the 42 items appearing in tomorrow’s Monday, May 25th Vintages Sale. An initial check indicated that all items (initially released last January 17, 2009) are currently available for sale, albeit in limited numbers. First, you can see our complete colour-coded summary of the sale list (two pages) – click here to see.

If you are interested in getting my review notes on an item, just click on the item of interest and you will immediately go to my detailed review, which in turn is linked to Vintages availability. It is extremely user-friendly, easy to use and convenient.

Better yet, it will not be posted on my website until next Friday, March 29th giving you a privileged window to be the first to take advantage of the sale.

There are lots of interesting items.  For example, if you are looking for a match for a bbq rib steak, don’t miss a tasty, elegant, plummy, red licorice flavoured Bordeaux, which has dropped from $27.95 to $23.20. Château de Bel-Air 2005 (61754) comes from the Lalande de Pomerol region and was initially recommended at the higher price with a **/**+ rating. Here is my tasting note: This blend of 75% Merlot, 15% Cabernet Franc, 5% Cabernet Sauvignon and 5% Malbec has a deep intense purple colour. Fairly spicy, ripe plum and red licorice nose. Dry, medium bodied, bright, plummy, ripe red cherry flavours with a lingering, tangy, red licorice finish.

Best Buys from the Vintages May 23rd release

Best buys in Saturday’s Vintages May 23rd release include my personal favourite, despite some disparaging reviews, from the South Island’s beautiful Nelson region Neudorf 2007 Tom’s Block Pinot Noir (120790) at $26.95. It has a surprisingly deep intense purple colour and a complex, intense, spicy, bright, black cherry purée nose with some vanilla stick notes. On the palate, it is dry, gently complex and quite smooth with medium-full bodied, nicely structured, refined, ripe black cherry purée flavours with a long, lingering finish. Aged 11 months in French oak, only 1170 cases were produced. It received a *** (out of **+) rating and some 200 cases are available.

From Sicily, don’t miss my sole “release highlight” - the complex & yet floral **/**+ Duca di Castelmonte 2007 Tripudium (117531) at $18.95. Only150 cases of 6 of this blend of Grillo, Chardonnay and spicy Zibibbo (a.k.a. Muscat of Alexandria) are available. It has a bright light yellow colour and a fairly intense, honeyed, spicy, ripe apple and yellow plum nose with some slight nutty notes. On the palate it is dry, medium bodied and well structured with harmonious, slightly spicy, ripe yellow plum flavours followed up by a lingering, tangy finish. Unoaked and great with seafood, it is ready to enjoy.

The best value Chard of the release is from South Africa’s Stellenbosch region Mulderbosch 2005 Chardonnay 2005 (717090) at $20.95 with a **/**+ rating. It has a light straw colour and fairly toasty, very attractive, spicy, fresh ripe pear purée nose. On the palate it’s dry, complex and medium bodied with zesty, ripe Anjou pear flavours and a lingering cedary, key lime pie finish. It is at its peak. Try with poultry and white meats.

Here are three recommended sparkling wines. First, the **+/*** refined, fruity Henry of Pelham Cuvée Catharine Brut (616441) at $29.95 is a VQA Niagara Peninsula made in the traditional Champagne method. It has a light straw colour and very attractive, slightly spicy, warm ripe lemon nose with some toasty notes. On the palate it is dry, tangy, bright and nicely structured with harmonious, medium bodied, zesty, ripe, lemon-melon flavours and a lingering, crisp, effervescent finish.

Finally, if you are looking for a pink sparkler, try the fruity Italian *+/** San Pietro 2008 Rosé Spumante Brut (120964) at $16.95. It has a bright light cherry pink colour and attractive, slightly honeyed, ripe cherry-apple nose. It is very effervescent on the palate with slightly sweet, ripe cherry, plum and apple purée flavours and a very pleasant, fairly crisp finish. It too is at its peak of drinkability. 

From Spain there is a decent méthode traditionnelle  *+/** 2005 Cristalino Brut Nature Cava (115808) at $16.95. It has a light yellow colour and spicy, ripe apple nose with some toasty notes. On the palate it is very dry, slightly leesy and effervescent with very crisp, medium bodied, dried ripe lemon flavours along with a tangy finish. Serve well chilled, it is ready to enjoy today.