September 25 , 2009




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

Michael Vaughan’s September 25th Update
Vintages Release Spanish Gems

vFrom the September 26th release:

Great Sparkling Value:
Recommended / Best Buy **/**+
Restaurant Friendly • Great by the Glass
Reserva Raventós Brut Cava (521773 - $14.95)
DO Penedès (349 Cases) (12.5%)  [Rus Woo]
From the house of Codorniu this extremely reasonably priced first class Cava hits the mark. Very bright light yellow colour.  Svlightly spicy, honeyed, ripe, lemon-melon nose.  Very effervescence slightly honeyed, faintly off-dry, harmonious, medium to medium-light bodied, slightly spicy, ripe lemon-melon flavours with a crisp lingering finish.  Last appeared in Vintages (**) on August 2, 2008 at $14.95 and was a Recommended/Best Buy. This one is even better with greater ripeness and depth of flavour!

Great Whites:
Recommended **
Restaurant Friendly • Great by the Glass

Avelino Vegas 2008 Aires de Arosa Albariño (131755 - $18.95)
DO Rias Baixas (129 Cases) (12.5%)  [Sig Win]
Medium light yellow colour.  A bit shy, mineral-tinged, slightly spicy, citrusy nose.  Attractive, dry, quite well structured, medium to medium-light bodied, with lots of lime-lemon-melon flavours on the lingering, mineral-tinged finish. Unoaked & great with seafood. Will work well bty the glass. Drinkability:  { N S SM }  Lot: L-2008

Great Reds:
Recommended / Best Buy **+
Restaurant Friendly • Great by the Glass
Bodegas Beronia 2007 Elaboración Especial Tempranillo (723643 - $16.95)
DOCa Rioja     (499 Cases) (14%)  [Rus Woo]
This 100% Tempranillo has an extremely deep intense purple colour. Lush, slightly spicy, vbuttered toast, ripe black cherry nose. Fairly tangy, dry, medium bodied, spicy, gently juicy, plummy-cherry flavours with cedar and smoke on the lingering finish. An easy-to-drink, smooth, wide-appeal style. I have always enjoyed this distinctive barrel-fermented Rioja (in new 225-litre American oak) - it is both modern and quite unique. It isn’t for traditionalists. The recommended 2006 (**/**+) was released on July 5, 2008 at $18.95.

Recommended *+
Restaurant Friendly • Great by the Glass

Casa de la Ermita 2005 Crianza
(956334 - $18.95)
DO Jumilla (350 Cs) (13.5%)  [Vin Glo]
Very deep intense purple-red colour. Spicy, slightly cedary, red licorice, plummy nose. Very dry, medium bodied, quite tangy, gently juicy, plummy, dried red cherry flavours with a lingering slightly cedary finish. Pleasant and ready-to-drink. Drinkability: { N S SM } Lot: L9132

Recommended **/**+
Condado de Haza 2006 Crianza 
(963348 $27.95)
DO Ribera del Douro (149 Cases) (14%)  [Cha Hob]
Extremely deep intense purple colour.  Cooked plum and cedary-sandalwood nose with some bitter chocolate notes.  Dry medium-full bodied, well-structured, intense, cedary, ripe plum flavours with a lingering, mocha-licorice-sandalwood finish. Superior to the recommended 2005 (**/**+) released on September 27, 2008 at $27.95. Drinkability: { n S SM M ML l xl

From the September 12th release:
Recommended *+
Restaurant Friendly • Great by the Glass
Bodegas Navarrsotillo 2007 Noemus Joven Organic (131839 - $14.95)
DOCa Rioja (400 Cases) (13%)  [Liv Vin]
This organic blend of 60% Tempranillo with 20% Garnacha and 20% Mazuelo has an deep intense purple colour.  Spy, slightly cedary, maturing plummy-cherry nose with some tropical fruit cocktail notes.  Slightly spicy, dry, bright medium bodied, plummy-cherry flavours with a lingering crisp finish.  Ready-to-drink. This organic wine contains 8 mg/L of free sulphur.  Drinkability: { N S SM }

From the August 29th release:
Recommended *+
Restaurant Friendly • Great by the Glass
Etim Selection 2006 DO Monsant
(681345 - $15.00)
This blend of 60% Garnacha, 30% Carinena, [Carignan] and 10% Syrah aged for 6 months in seasoned French and American oak. Extremely deep intense purple colour. Spicy, juicy, black cherry nose. Dry, spicy, well balanced, medium bodied, ripe, plummy-cherry flavours with a lingering, slightly cedary finish.


Michael Vaughan’s September 11th Update
"Taste Ontario" Trade Tasting &
September 12th Vintages Release

vNext Thursday’s Taste Ontario trade tasting features 150 wines from 42 wineries. A number of these wines are available for direct sale to licensees and are not available at the LCBO. For your convenience, we are providing you with the 50-page trade tasting bookletclick here to download. Note that all prices quoted are for licensees.

I am sure that readers are familiar with my passion for Pinot Noir. So let me say how pleased I was to find what I consider to be the best buy Pinot Noir in Ontario. Make a beeline to table #4 vand taste the remarkably delicious *** (91.5 points) Cave Spring Cellar 2007 Estate Pinot Noir a wonderfully fruity, well-structured, harmonious, plummy-cherry flavoured effort that deserves to be on every discerning wine list in Ontario. Best yet is the licensee price, only $28.53. Don’t miss ordering a case or two, total production was only 500 cases. (Note that this may all be a bit premature - the price still has to be finalized and the sample I tasted was not the just-bottled batch which will go on sale in a few months time). Here are the specs:

Alcohol:  13.3%
Residual Sugar:  4.9g/L
Blend and grape source: 100% Estate grown Pinot Noir
72% Clone 115 planted 1999, 20.3 Brix
15% Clone 777 planted 2000, 21.4 Brix
10% Clone 667 planted 2000, 21.4 Brix
3% other
Yield: 3.27 tonnes per acre
Maceration time: 12 days
Barrel age: 16 months
Unfined and minimally filtered

Two terrific Chardonnays from the Saturday September 12th release will also be available to taste. First is **/**+ (88.5 points) Rosehall Run 2007 Cuvée County Chardonnay (132928  - $17.95). This VQA Prince Edward County white has 12.7% alcohol and a bright, medium yellow colour. The nose is fairly intense, quite complex and slightly spicy with attractive, ripe lemon-melon fruit along with some very slightly leesy, toasty notes.  Dry, quite well-structured, medium bodied, flavourful, ripe, lemon-melon-pear flavours with a very fine, lingering, crisp finish.  Lots of complexity for the money.

A highlight is ***/***+ (93 points) Hidden Bench  2007 Estate Chardonnay (68817 - $35.20) from the Beamsville Bench with 14.3% alcohol. The nose is intense, complex and slightly toasty with ripe lemon and key lime pie notes. Intense, medium to medium-full bodied, harmonious, slightly spicy, ripe lemon-lime flavours with some faintly smoky, vanilla-tinged, mineral notes on the lingering, dried pear finish.

To sign up for the trade event click here.

Coming Up:

Saturday, July 7 & 8 - Hillebrand Jazz
[Niagara-on-the-Lake] Bring your favourite chair or blanket and listen to the sounds from the lawn overlooking the Stone Road Vineyard. VQA wines and wine country cuisine available for purchase. Held at Hillebrand Estates Winery, 1249 Niagara Stone Rd., Niagara-on-the-Lake, from 4 pm to 8 pm. For more information visit
Tickets $30.00 per guest. For further information, please call 1-800-582-8412.Coming up

Michael Vaughan’s September 4th Update
Vintages August 29th Annual Clearance Sale & August 31st Delist Sale

vHere is the full list of the annual summer Vintages August 29th clearance/bin end sale. There are 177 items on discount and the complete list along with my ratings and full tasting note details.


Click Here to View

Remember that only Vintage Assessments Supporters get all the tasting details & links in advance of the sale.

Also, the August 31st Vintages Delist which features 27 items from the May 2 Vintages release.

Click Here to View

Michael Vaughan’s August 28 Update
August 29th Vintages Release &
Annual Vinages Clearance/Bin End Sale

Tomorrow’s Vintages release coincides with the annual summer Vintages August 29th clearance/bin end sale. There are 177 items on discount and the complete list along with my ratings and full tasting note details have been available exclusively for our FBTI supporters for the past week. This will be shared with website visitors next week, so check back then. Better yet, why not become an FBTI Supporter today and receive the sale list and release information in advance. We have a limited-time $20 discount to easy the pain. According to our fans, the $65 investment is well worth it. Click here to sign up today.

click here to see

Today, I am making public the Vintages August 17th sale of 61 items from the March 28 and April 11 releases. A great summer sipper is the Mission Hill 2006 Family Estate Reserve Sauvignon Blanc (57430) a recommended **+ best buy at $19.95 – now only $16.35.

Check out the tasting note from our database:
Only Vintage Assessments supporters get all the details & links in advance of the sales

August 29th Vintages Release

As for tomorrow's Vintages release, my associate Julian Hitner has his top ten list in Sommelier Selects click here to see. In addition, here are some of my favourites:

Michael Vaughan's RECOMMENDED – Whites
scored out of a potential ***+

New Zealand
** Coopers Creek 2007 Chardonnay/Viognier A Best Buy
Gisborne, North Island (249 Cases) (13.5%) [Nob Est]
(127480 - $16.95)
Light straw colour. Attractive, fairly intense, honeyed, slightly spicy, rhubarb-melon-lemon nose. Perhaps a shade off dry. Medium to medium-light bodied, honeyed, spicy, juicy, ripe melon-lemon flavours with some tropical fruit cocktail notes on the lingering, finish. Screwcap closure. Drinkability: { N S SM }

** Yalumba 2008 Wild Ferment Chardonnay A Best Buy
Barossa, South Australia (399 Cases) (13.5%) [Mar Ant]
(39271 - $17.95)
Medium straw colour. Gently spicy, ripe lemon and dried Anjou pear nose with some shy toasty notes. Dry, medium bodied, flavourful, slightly spicy, ripe lemon-melon-lime flavours with some toasty notes on the long lingering finish. Screwcap closure. No malolactic, but less stirred with eight months in French and American oak. Drinkability: { N S SM m}

** Bodegas O. Fernier 2008 Urban UCC Torrontes A Best Buy
Lafayette Valley, Salt (249 Cs of 6) (13.5%) [Eur Int]
(128645 - $11.95)
Light straw colour. Intense, quite spicy, ripe, honeyed, lemon-melon nose with lychee notes. Dry, very bright, medium to medium-light bodied, tangy, very spicy, lychee-Muscat flavours with a long crisp finish. Ready-to-drink - try with spicy cuisine. Drinkability: { N S sm }

**/**+ Kurt Darting 2007 Gewürztraminer Spätlese A Best Buy
QMP, Dürkheimer Nonnengarten (120 Cases) (9.5%) [HHD Imp]
(127373 - $19.95)
Medium-light yellow colour. Fairly complex, intense, very spicy, baked apple-lemon-melon nose with some lychee notes. Rich, sweet, honeyed, medium bodied, very spicy, lychee -driven, baked apple flavours with a long lingering finish. Ready to enjoy with spicy dishes. All four prior releases have been Kabinett quality with 9.5 to 10.5% alcohol. Drinkability: { N S SM }

**/**+ 2008 Goats do Roam White A Best Buy
WO Western Cape (Fairview/Charles Back) (600 Cs) (13.5%) [RKW Win] Lot 9014 (B-L) (943167 - $11.95)
Light yellow colour. Very attractive, youthful, honeyed, ripe melon-lemon-pear nose. Smooth, dry, medium to medium-light bodied, harmonious, slightly spicy, ripe lemon-melon flavours with a crisp lingering finish. Well priced and ready to enjoy with very good acidity. Screwcap closure. Better than the recommended 2006 (*+/**) released on July 7, 2007 at $12.95. Drinkability: { N S SM m }.

Best Value Red of the Release
Not an easy choice. While there were some fine New World reds, I opted for the old world with some great values from both Spain & Portugal. In this instance I selected a Bordeaux simply because it always tends to be challenging to find really well-priced value, especially something that you might want to lay-away for a few years.

France - Bordeaux
**+ 2003 Château Haut-Maurac A Best Buy
AC Médoc (Oliver Decelle) (149 Cases) (12.5%) [Sig Win] Lot: L0505
(125641 - $24.95)
Extremely deep intense purple colour. Spicy, ripe, plummy-cherrry nose with some cedar-sandalwood notes. Dry, medium bodied, fairly well structured, ripe, plummy-cherry flavours with a cedar-tinged, fairly crisp finish. This recently revitalized left bank Medoc chateau was bought by Olivier Decelle in 2000. In the following year he reduced yields dramatically to just 35 hl/ha. One-third of the 60% Cabernet Sauvignon and 40% Merlot blend is aged in new French oak. Decelle is best known for his fine Roussillon estate Mas Amiel in Maury. Drinkability: { n S SM M ml l }

Michael Vaughan’s August 14 Update
Under $20 Picks from the Vintages August 15th Release

The August 15th Vintages release features 89 items and has a focus on Chile (15 selections) and southern white Burgundy (5 selections). I must say that I was surprisingly impressed with the latter.

A ** release highlight (out of ***) and best buy from Chile's Casablanca Valley is Casa Lapostolle 2008 Casa Chardonnay (396986) at $14.95. The nose is quite intense and very spicy with zesty, ripe lemon-melon-rhubarb notes. On the palate it's dry, very crisp and medium bodied with slightly spicy, somewhat honeyed, tangy, ripe lemon-pear-rhubarb flavours followed up sdby a lingering, faintly toasty finish.

The best value from Burgundy is the ** Vincent 2007 Champ Brule Macon-Villages(127423) at $18.95. It has a bright, light yellow colour and gently complex, nutty, slightly spicy, baked, ripe lemon nose. Dry, crisp and slightly spicy, it's surprisingly flavourful with ripe lemon-melon-apples followed up by a slightly nutty finish.

From New Zealand's South Island Marlborough region Wairau Valley comes Wither Hills 2009 Sauvignon Blanc (919514) at $17.95. It rated **+ (out of ***) and is a best buy. Look for attractive, gently spicy, honeyed, grassy, lemony, grapefruit aromas and a dry, fresh, harmonious, slightly spicy, somewhat grassy, yellow grapefruit flavours with a lingering be great with seafood.

Two picks from Ontario. The first is Creekside Estate 2007 Laura's Blend White (121764) at $17.95 with a **/**+ rating. This VQA Niagara Peninsula is an assemblage of Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Viognier, Pinot Gris and Riesling. It has intense, spicy, very pleasant, slightly honeyed, ripe melon nose. Dry, crisp, spicy, zesty, ripe-melon-lemon fruit with honeyed grapefruit on the lingering finish. It too comes with a screwcap closure and is ready to drink.

The second is the best-priced Merlot to come out of Ontario in quite some time. Cave Spring Merlot 2006 (235051) at $16.95 is designated as a VQA Niagara Escarpment and has an excellent **/**+ rating. Medium deep red with some ambering on the edges, it has a slightly spicy, plummy, red licorice nose with some sandalwood notes. It has dry, medium bodied, slightly spicy, ripe plummy-cherry, licorice-tinged flavours very nicely.