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An increasingly confusing Vintages catalogue
Hard to find what you are looking for & plan purchases

© Michael Vaughan 2005

National Post Weekly Wine & Spirits Columnist
Saturday, April 30, 2005


All listings are automatically linked to the LCBO database)
If there is a product that interests you, just click on the name below and you will instantaneously connected with the LCBO database. The product will appear in blue and all you have to do is click on the name again and then the next screen will provide details along with the store search. Just click on store search. The number of bottles in each store is updated nightly. Call the store first to see if stock still remains (each store phone number is listed).

Despite being April 30th, today sees the first part (the “A release”) of May Vintages release with 199 items. Unfortunately, anyone referring to the glossy 60-page Vintages catalogue is going to experience difficulty trying to figure out what & when things actually hit the shelves.

At one time, the monthly catalogue was laid out in a straightforward manner: first the A release before the second B release; whites before reds. It has now become a hopeless hodgepodge with whites mixed with reds and special country promotions up front. The four countries in today’s South of the Equator section include Vintages Essentials (without any vintage designation - all previously released) mixed with new releases mostly belonging to today’s release. Unfortunately, there is no indication as to what is white or red. Worse yet, all 29 ISD (In-Store Discovery) wines, which went on sale yesterday, no longer appear in the catalogue making it impossible to get an overview of what is being released.

Thankfully, National Post readers can get an all-encompassing, colour-coded, 4-page overview of the entire May release from my Web site with the npreader password (to see click here). Those looking for a white, for instance, will find all 66 whites together, listed by country, in a single place. Better yet, every item is identified by the release date, agent and the number of cases available.

Starting with New Zealand, a whopping 16 whites, 6 reds and one rose hit the shelves today. This is driven by the upcoming May 24-25 NEW ZEALAND WINE FAIR taking place at Toronto’s Alice Fazooli’s. For information call 1-888-993-9927 (to see click here). In passing, I am pleased that two days are slotted for this event. It is something that California wine fair organizers should consider, given the burgeoning 400+ wines and 100+ wineries presented during their very short one-day Toronto stopover.

Here are my New Zealand choices, all in screwcap formats. First, Kim Crawford 2004 Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc (975672) at $19.95 is bound to please fans. Fresh, gently grassy, ripe melon-apple aromas are followed up by dry, harmonious, ripe, melon, red apple flavours with a lingering, crisp, gently grassy finish. Some 400 6-packs of this charmer are available. Personally, I am a bit reluctant to splurge $31.95 on the very decent, albeit pricey, Cloudy Bay 2004 Sauvignon Blanc (304469).

Next, for Chardonnay fans, the hands down winner is Goldwater 2003 Roseland Chardonnay (991463 - $20.95), a solid, well structured effort also from the Marlborough region. Fermented in French oak - 15% new - the nose is slightly cedary with ripe lemon notes. On the palate, the ripe lemon, pear and baked apple flavours finish up with some spicy hints of lemon meringue.

From the reds, the North Island’s Hawkes Bay Sileni Estates 2002 The Triangle Merlot (586081) is a definite best buy at $17.95. Sporting 14% alcohol, the rich, mouthfilling, ripe plum and chocolate flavours show great length - perfection with a steak hot off the bbq.

A propos of last week’s column on what a difference a glass makes, I have now retasted the Kim Crawford  2004 Pansy Rosé (650325) at $17.95 in two glasses – my regular ISO and a larger Spiegelau. The plumy, raspberry-blueberry fruit of this Merlot-Cabernet Franc blend jumped out of the latter, making it quite delightful. Kim Crawford will be personally touring LCBO stores on Saturday, May 28th. He will be at the Summerhill LCBO (store #10) from 10:30 to 11:30 am, and then at Bayview Village LCBO (store #355) from noon to 2:00 pm.

At one time, it was possible to retaste all upcoming Vintages wines well before the release. Alas, that is no longer the case because the tasting dates are now just before the releases. I wish that Vintages could push its pretasting schedule earlier, permitting LCBO consultants and wine writers to get a better jump on upcoming releases. With only four days between the tasting and the release, many consultants don’t have spare time to put their notes in order.

Arguably today’s best buy comes from Australia, Craneford 2002 Semillon (651174) at only $14.95. This Barossa Valley gem has an intense, complex, Seville orange marmalade nose. It is dry, medium-full bodied and quite well structured with fairly juicy, cedar-tinged, melon and Seville orange marmalade flavours with great length and very good acidity. Perfect with poultry and/or spicy Thai dishes, only 100 cases are available!

Moving from the southern to northern hemisphere, none of six ISD 2001 Bordeaux now on the Vintages shelves were presented for evaluation. This certainly doesn’t help the French cause. Of course, neither does the release of two underwhelming Burgundies from Dufouleur - even at the low $20.95 (white) and $21.95 (red) price range.

Coming up: Licensees looking for value will be attending the Tuesday, May 3rd, afternoon South of France trade tasting of Vins de Pays D’Oc & Languedoc from 28 producers at the Carlu. Call Anne Popoff at Sopexa Canada (416-921-8400) and click here to see the list of wines being presented.

2001-2002-2003-2004-2005 Tasting Note Database
Our tasting note database from December 31, 2000 to February 2005, covers every Vintages release product for the past 50 months. There are more than 9,000 notes in the database data. Just enter the name of the product, supplier name or CSPC number. Or you can search by type of wine, country of origin, even wine agent! Nothing could be easier. Also you can get information on the agent by clicking on the agent’s name, as well as current LCBO store inventory by clicking on "Check LCBO Availability", which will automatically tell you the number of bottles at LCBO as of last night.

To use our Tasting Notes Database: click here

** For All Visitors **
Vintages May 2005 Release

To see the complete list of upcoming
199 products click here (sorted by date of release). It includes the number of cases, which wines were presented by the LCBO, our agent ID for every product,
as well as, the
In Store D
iscoveries” for May.
You can also see it sorted by agent
click here  

Copyright Food & Beverage Testing Institute of Canada 2005
Prior written permission is required for any form of reproduction
 (electronic or other wise) and or quotation.
Contact Michael Vaughan at