Uncovering the Best Classics Red
Michael Vaughan 2005
simply unfair!” That’s the comment from an irate Classics customer
who couldn’t get into the recent Classics preview tasting because it was
sold out. He is rightfully upset because only attendees willing to shell
out $95 are able to get special access to the Classics and place their
orders prior to everyone else. Unfortunately, there was only one
pretasting here in Toronto so if you happened to live in Ottawa or
Windsor, you were simply out of luck. Even more ominous, last Fall
Vintages started featuring a number of wines exclusively available to
attendees. All in all, customers shouldn’t feel that they there are
being blackmailed by the LCBO to get access to wines.
my viewpoint the Classics should be sold at designated stores across
Ontario where all customers could pay for the privilege of tasting them.
Unfortunately, cheap, effective, easy equal access seems to be the last
thing Vintages wants. With no level playing field, consumers are stuck
with a laborious, wasteful system that favours those lucky enough to
attend these exclusive pretastings.
of this takes on an air of urgency as the Classics ordering deadline
approaches. With 185 new items plus 28 repeats, you have to fax, mail or
e-mail your order by 5 pm this coming Wednesday, February 9. If you
don’t make this, then you will have to wait until February 23 for
telephone ordering. And then, just maybe, you might be able to pick up
your purchases at a nearby store in early March!
is a bit of good news-bad news in this release. First the good - this is
the first Classics release that has more than just one or two spirits. In
addition to a $299 Grappa, two Scotch and some three-dozen previously
released lots of Macallan (starting at $1,695 a bottle); there are nine
exciting new French brandies. The bad news is that not one was featured
for tasting at any of the LCBO’s various tasting events - despite the
current French promotion.
few Classics are must buys, some gems that
are definitely worth tracking down. The best Classics red tasted in years
was shining brightly at table number two: Mitolo
2002 Shiraz G.A.M. (596031 - $54) from
Australia’s McLaren Vale. This deep intense purple coloured beauty has a
wonderful, gently smoky, rich, ripe black cherry nose with some lime purée
notes. Wonderfully juicy and medium-full bodied, the complex, plumy, ripe
black cherry flavours are truly something to behold – a real stunner.
was a mad rush for this highlight where
orders were limited to 4 bottles per customer.
Usually only 25% of the total purchased is allocated to the Classics
pretastings. In this case, of the 40 cases of Mitolo purchased, 15 were
sold meaning that only 125 bottles (25 cases) are left for non-attendees.
Given the limited number of bottles, orders have now been reduced to a
maximum of two. Buy it – you will like it!
thankful that the LCBO ordered it (albeit in excessively small
quantities); that it was served at the pretasting and that individual
sales were limited. In a privatized system, it would have all ended up in
the hands of just a few privileged customers. For more information contact
the Ontario agent The Case for Wine at 416-482-0241 where some small
quantities of the supposedly even better 2003 are still available (along
with other highly-rated Mitolo selections).
is interesting to note that Frank and Simone Mitolo only recently
established the winery in 1999. In 2001 winemaker Ben Glaetzer became a
partner in the business. G.A.M. represents the first initial of each of
the Mitolo children's first names - Gemma, Alex and Marco. The Shiraz
grapes were hand harvested at around 3 tons an acre from the Willunga
district of McLaren Vale, South Australia. Each parcel was fermented on
skins for 10 days followed by barrel fermentation, which was followed by
16 months of aging in 70% American oak & 30% one-two year old
French/American oak. Although fairly high in alcohol (15%), it has good
acidity (6.4 grams/litre).
Deiss 2001 Riesling Saint-Hippolyte
(588764) is a fine buy at $35. This terrific, versatile, food-friendly
Alsatian white has an intense, slightly honeyed, ripe melon-lemon-lime
nose with some mineral notes. Crisp, dry and medium-full bodied, the ripe
lemon-melon flavours linger perfectly on the palate. The family-owned
vineyards can be traced back to 1744 when the Deiss family settled here.
Utilizing biodynamic viticulture, it is able to extract terrific flavours
by low yields and very slow methodical fermentation – up to six months
– with extended lees contact and stirring.
For more on today's Vintages release click here.
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