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Nov. 19 - Beaujolais Nouveau Celebrates 54 Years

Nov. 12 - Vintages Release Best Buys ~ From California to Bordeaux

Nov. 5 - "Eyes Wide Shut" ~ Taste, texture and scent in motion

Oct. 29 - Tricks & Treats in Today's Vintages Release ~ Some Awesome Aussi Highlights

Oct. 22 - Perfect Fall Libations ~ Obscure varieties from Welschriesling to Semillon

Oct. 15 - Hop Scotch ~ The biggest whisky release on record

Oct. 8 - A Toast to the Turkey ~ Many whites, some reds and even a sparkling rosé

Oct. 1 - Barolo the King of Italian Reds

Sep. 24 - A Flood of Upcoming Tastings ~ but not a Vintages Classics in Sight

Sep. 17 - A Great Ontario Harvest ~ From just-released wines to a terrific new guide

Sep. 10 - Film Fest Fizz ~ Finding that Oscar-Winning Drink

Sep. 3 - Delicious Long Weekend Drinking ~ All but one under $20!

Aug. 27 - A new way of coding drinkability ~ And getting the best out of that bottle

Aug. 20 - The "New" Vintages Catalogue

Aug. 13 - Bargains Galore ~ Spirited Summer Matchmakers ~ From Boulard Calvados to Grand Marnier

Aug. 6 - Dealing with Disappointments ~ This Bicyclette has a flat tire!

Jul. 30 - LCBO Alternatives? ~ Regulations handcuff importers to LCBO warehouse

Jul. 23 - A French Sparkler & Greek Whites in Today's Vintages Hit Parade ~ In-Store Discoveries Reviews Disappear

Jul. 16 - French Rosé Rocks ~ Too bad you can't find them at the LCBO

Jul. 9 - Today's Vintages Release ~ Small in size but big in buys!

Jul. 2 - The Wines of Canada by John Schreiner ~ Interesting but a little thin

Jun. 25 - Boning Up for Canada Day! ~ ABC - Anything But Chardonnay A Best Buy ~ Trilogy of Grass-Free Sauvignon Blanc

Jun. 18 - Austria's Wines on a roll

Jun. 11 - Where there's Chardonnay there's Hope ~ 2,879 cases at Vintages! ~ Plus 79 New Items in Today's Vintages Release

Jun. 11 - Bottle of the Week
Kim Crawford 2004 Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc ~ Kick starts the screwcap revolution

Jun. 4 - Bodega Norton 2004 Chardonnay ~ A too-good-to-be-true Argentina gem from the General List ~ LCBO Price Book now a thing of the past!

Jun. 4 - Bottle of the Week
Codorniu Brut Clasico ~ Puts some sparkling Classics to shame

May. 28 - A Trip in a Glass ~ Fine wines to transport you to far-away destinations

May. 28 - Bottle of the Week
Zoom-Zoom-Zoomers! ~ Campari: Seeing Red ~ Setting the World Ablaze

May. 21 - Toasting Queen Victoria ~ With Discounted Reds! ~ Grab these bargains while they last!

May. 21 - Bottle of the Week
Putting a little spice into your Victoria Day Long Weekend

May. 14 - Sprouting Up Like Tulips ~ Excellent 2003 Whites at Vintages

May. 14 - Bottle of the Week
2004 Terra Boa Blanco ~ A Bargain Priced Springtime White from Portugal

May. 7 - Prince Edward County's Field of Dreams ~ Long Dog Winery - No Long Shot!

May. 7 - Bottle of the Week
For Mother's Day! ~ Veuve Clicquot La Grande Dame Champagne ~ A priceless bubbly for that priceless mother!

Apr. 30 - An increasingly confusing Vintages catalogue ~ Hard to find what you are looking for & plan purchases

Apr. 30 - Bottle of the Week
Rosemount Shiraz on a Roll!

Apr. 23 - The Wine Glass ~ The Key to getting the most out of your wines

Apr. 23 - Bottle of the Week
Making the Rum Transition

Apr. 16 - All we are saying is give pink a chance

Apr. 16 - Bottle of the Week
Talus 2002 Zinfandel ~ A Zinfully Good Anti-Luddite!

Apr. 9 - Don't be screwed by a bad cork ~ Screwcaps are the answer

Apr. 9 - Bottle of the Week
2003 Mouton Cadet Blanc ~ Canada's best selling white Bordeaux

Apr. 2 - From Fizz to Pop ~ Putting some zip into Spring

Apr. 2 - Bottle of the Week
Underberg the Ultimate Digestif! ~ Only a full bottle will do!

Mar. 26 - Canada's #1 Wine Festival 27th ~ Vancouver Playhouse International Wine Festival

Mar. 26 - Bottle of the Week
Smooth & Satisfying ~ A Luxury French Brandy at a Great Price!

Mar. 19 - German Classics for Easter

Mar. 19 - Bottle of the Week
A liqueur that Grows on Trees!

Mar. 12 - Ontario's Vinous Peaks ~ Great quality directly from the wineries!

Mar. 12 - Bottle of the Week
A Special Treat for St. Patrick's Day

Mar. 5 - Today at Vintages ~ Chardonnays starting at $8.95!

Mar. 5 - Bottle of the Week
Cynar - A One-of-a-Kind Aperitif

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Dealing with Disappointments
This Bicyclette has a flat tire!

© Michael Vaughan 2005

National Post Weekly Wine & Spirits Columnist
Saturday, August 6, 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).

I got a note last week from a reader asking why I don’t I do more to warn people about newly released disappointments. It seems that this unhappy camper had picked up a bottle of Shiraz from the south of France from the July 23rd and didn’t like it. Because the wine in question was the first French effort from one of the world’s largest wineries, the reader went on to suggest that perhaps I was afraid to pan it.

Well comments like that certainly get the juices flowing. First, I don’t have enough space to list all the items that should be avoided - this is the kind of stuff that appears in my newsletter and website. Second, if something is awful, extremely overpriced and/or over-hyped, I try to caution readers. The are tens of thousands of simply ok wine that might even be enjoyed by some and shouldn’t be given a big thumb’s down.

While some of the greatest wines come from tiny wineries, I do not support the notion “the smaller the better”. I have tasted an enormous number of disappointing wines from tiny producers. Conversely, mega wineries can produce terrific, as well as, mediocre wines. Imbibers must keep in mind that a wine may be cork-tainted without tasting obviously corked. When this happens, just return it with your receipt to the LCBO for refund.

Getting down to the item in question, there are 1,011 cases of Red Bicyclette 2003 Syrah (586776) $17.95 at Vintages. This French Vin de Pays d’Oc has been made for Gallo by Le Caves de Sieur d’Arques. I have now tasted it three times and, unfortunately, this inauspicious bicyclette has a bit of a flat tire. It is rather innocuous with slightly tangy, plum and sandalwood flavours. Perhaps this particular batch of 2003 (the lot number on the back label is L4322A) has been constructed for US mass market, where having too much character/flavour is a bad thing. Basically, it is not worth $17.95!

Moving on, kicking off today’s Vintages release recommendations is a dynamic duo from New Zealand. Somehow Vintages managed to get the selling price of the first recommended white wrong. The dry, lip smacking, grassy, grapefruit tinged Jackson Estate 2004 Sauvignon Blanc (963124) sells for $19.95, not $13.95 as listed in the Catalogue. Even at the higher price, it is still a fine buy.

I was also informed by Vintages that the $18.95 price of Jackson Estate 2004 Unoaked Chardonnay (696286) would be dropped to $17.95. I have now been told that the price will remain the same - will not change from $18.95! Perhaps it is just a case of Vintages zero gravity where what goes up doesn’t come down.

This tasty Chard comes from the Marlborough Region of the South Island where owner John Stichbury and his wife Jo live on the family homestead built by John’s grandfather, Adam Jackson in 1902.  Winemaker Mike Paterson has done an admirable job creating this super fresh, peachy, ripe lemon flavoured effort, which is meant for immediate enjoyment. It will be great with seafood.

With all the heat and humidity, nothing beats a frosty glass or two of Portuguese Vinho Verde and in today’s release you will find a good one made from Arinto and Loureiro grapes. Quinta de Santa Maria 2004 Vinho Verde (704858) at $12.95 is designated as a Colheita Seleccionada. It has honeyed, melon-yellow grapefruit flavours and a dry, tangy finish.

Looking for an inexpensive, cheerful Sauvignon Blanc? Don’t miss Haut-Poitou 2004 Sauvignon (119222) at only $10.95 from the French VDQS northwest region around Poitiers. Look for gently grassy, refreshing, lime-tinged, grapefruit and ripe lemon flavours.

Searching for something spicy? Try the 2003 Muscat Sec Terres Blanches (653188) at $13.95. This Vin de Pays d’Oc from the French Midi has lovely, lightly spicy, honeyed, Muscat-lychee aromas but is fairly dry on the palate. A winner with hot Thai cuisine.

Excellent for afternoon or evening sipping is the August ISD (In-Store Discovery) Dr. Thanisch 2002 Graacher Himmelreich Riesling Spatlese (655456) at a well-priced $19.95. As Vintages now refuses to put these wines out for assessment, I managed to taste the trio of new German ISDs thanks to Ron Fiorelli of the German Wine Institute. Look for gently honeyed, gently sweet but refreshing, melon-grapefruit-Seville orange marmalade flavours. Yummy!

At the peak of accessibility is the well-structured California McManis 2003 California Viognier (658112) at $19.95. This maturing gold medal winner from the 2004 California State Fair has slightly spicy, stewed lemon-pear flavours that would marry well with roast chicken.

As for the multitude of reds, one of today’s best buys is Septima 2002 Malbec/Cabernet Sauvignon (604678) at $10.95. This crowd-pleasing Mendoza blend is very bright and juicy with lots of ripe black cherry flavours. Owned by Codorníu of Spain, this new, state-of-the-art winery is located in the prime growing area of Agrelo at the foot of the Andes.

Finally, those yearning for a great Rhone should make a detour for Clos du Calvaire 2001 Châteauneuf-du-Pape (728139) at $35.95. This blend of 70% Grenache, 20% Syrah, 5% Mourvedre and 5% Cinsault has a sturdy 14.5% alcohol and yet shows surprising accessibility with its extracty, spicy, roasted black cherry flavours.

2001-2002-2003-2004-2005 Tasting Note Database
Our tasting note database from December 31, 2000 to May 2005, covers every Vintages release product for the past 53 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 Releases
 To see the complete list of upcoming 91 products from the
August 20, release
click here (sorted by date of release).
You can also see it sorted by agent click here

To see the complete list of upcoming 102 products from the
3 release, including 19 In-Store Discovery items,
click here (sorted by date of release).
You can also see it sorted by agent click here

Copyright Food & Beverage Testing Institute of Canada 2005
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