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Jan. 26 - 2005 A Miracle Vintage ~ Tumultuous Week of Highs and Lows

Jan. 19 - Looking for Value? ~ Wines from Argentina to the Rescue

Jan. 12 - Looking Back - Looking Ahead ~ Spanish Wines Looking Up

Jan. 5 - New Year Bargains

Dec. 29 - Having a Sparkling New Year's Eve

Dec. 22 - Sumptuous Sippers ~ For days with Slippers

Dec. 15 - Wine Awards Canada - Charting 339 of Ontario's Best ~ Toasting Ontario's Best Sparklers from Brut to Gently Sweet

Dec. 8 - A Sparkling Vintages Release ~ But buy carefully

Dec. 1 - Holiday Gifting ~ The twin pack is the way to go

Nov. 24 - Eight Buys from Today's Vintages Release

Nov. 17 - Introducing the Signature Selection

Nov. 10 - 2005 Burgundy ~ The wine gurus like it!

Nov. 3 - Magic in Montreal ~ Le Marché an Inspiration for Local Wineries

Oct. 27 - Scary Times at Vintages ~ From Tricks to Treats

Oct. 20 -Best of the West

Oct. 13 -Today at Vintages ~ Bordeaux and Much More

Oct. 6 - Wine Auction Fever ~ Confessions of a Wine Auction Junkie ~ Forget Screaming Eagle and pass the Rum

Sep. 29 - Southern French Accents

Sep. 22 - Perfect for an Autumn day ~ Is that a bottle of spicy wine under your kilt?

Sep. 15 - A Celebration of the Ontario's harvest ~ Faces behind great wines

Sep. 8 - Reel Wines for Real Film Lovers ~ Can't snuggle? Here's what to smuggle! ~ Plus Ontario Recommendations

Sep. 8 - Reel Wines for Real Film Lovers ~ Can't snuggle? Here's what to smuggle! ~ Plus Ontario Recommendations

Sep. 1 - Dust off your Lederhosen ~ Austrian Wines Finally Unleashed in Vintages

Aug. 25 - Summer Twilight Selections ~ Spanish Synergy

Aug. 18 - The Wines of Chile ~ Soaring to the peaks of the Andes

Aug. 11 - Discovering Greece - a wine odyssey ~ Splendid Assyrtiko from Santorini

Aug. 4 - Spain - From the Classics to the Cutting Edge ~ Revving up for Rioja

Jul. 28 - Days of Wine & Roses no more! ~ Under $10 wines a rare breed

Jul. 21 - Que Sera, Syrah ~  Big, Smoky and Beautiful

Jul. 14 - Finding the best wine matches ~ Sizzling Seafood at Scaramouche

Jul. 7 - Sizzling Sauvignon Blanc ~ Vintages Best Buy Whites

Jun. 30 - In search of the Ontario Idol ~ Tracking down the best for Canada Day

Jun. 23 - Vintages Price Hikes ~ Hitting the customer where it hurts

Jun. 16 - Life After Yellow Tail

Jun. 9 - Rosé Rules ~ From serious to casual, unearthing that ambidextrous rosé

Jun. 2 - The ones that didn't get away! ~ Unearthing recent best buys - all under $20

May. 26 - New Zealand’s Natural Gems ~ The best of whites

May. 19 - Alsatian with that Crustacean?

May. 12 - Paradoxical Portugal ~ Old World Grapes with New World Appeal

May. 5 - Toronto's First Private Import Wine Fair ~ Private Imports Picking up Steam Despite LCBO Bullying

Apr. 28 - Toasting Mom with France’s Finest

Apr. 21 - Prime Time for California

Apr. 14 - Victims of Vintages

Apr. 7 - Delicious Ciders that won't break the Easter bank

Mar. 31 - Racy Rieslings ~ Perfect Springtime Sippers

Mar. 24 - Quest for the Best of Portable Potables ~ The Battle of the Boxes

Mar. 17 - For the love of the Irish ~ A Greek wine for St. Patrick's Day

Mar. 10 - VDN to the rescue ~ Sublime sweet bargains from southwestern France

Mar. 3 - Canada's greatest pinot noir? ~ If you can’t find the best, try LCJ’s less expensive bargains

Feb. 24 - Cuvée 2007 ~ Ontario winemakers whoop it up

Feb. 17 - Pinot Noir Madness III ~ New Zealand takes another step forward

Feb. 10 - Burgundy Comes to Town ~ Despite Limited Vintages Buys ~ The Good News is Virtual Buying

Feb. 3 - Great Values South of the Equator ~ Both in Vintages & on the General List

Jan. 27 - Napa a go-go ~ Wine Parties vs. Tastings

Jan. 20 - Winemaker Niel Groenewald ~ Pushing the South African Envelope

Jan. 13 - Montreal Passion Vin ~ Delivering Excellence on Every Level

Jan. 6 - Off-the Beaten-Path Wines ~ Hard to Find in Today's Vintages Release

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Que Sera, Syrah
Big, Smoky and Beautiful 

© Michael Vaughan 2007

National Post Weekly Wine & Spirits Columnist
Saturday, July 21, 2007

To see this article as it appears in the National Post click here 

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).

Who knew how successful the lyrics "que sera, sera" would be when they first passed Doris Day's lips in Alfred Hitchcock's 1956 wonderful film, The Man Who Knew Too Much? While the grape Syrah is best known in France as the essence of the Rhone, many erroneously believe the song to be French. In fact, "que sera, sera" is a Spanish translation of the Italian "che sera, sera" from the film The Barefoot Contessa. Which I guess is no worse than the new world's use of Shiraz.

When making predictions for the millennium, I said that wines based on Syrah would become the greatest thing since Swiss cheese. Well it seems that I was right and that Syrah is on a rampage. The reason? Terrific flavours from ripe plums to smoky black cherries, along with well-structured, rich but harmonious wines, that work with a wide variety of dishes. Thankfully, today's Vintages release has some true destination bargain-priced Syrah that should not be missed.

Of course, I am tempted to replace my three-star system with puffs of smoke - I love the smokiness that one finds in a great Syrah. While some will not share my passion, in general people love it. Better yet, you don't have to have a degree in oenology to understand it. It is a very user-friendly grape. Of course, a lot depends on what you are eating - a subtle fillet of pickerel in a beurre blanc sauce is the wrong pairing.

BBQ ribs however, which are now at their glorious summer best, marry perfectly with Syrah. If I had to chose an all-round Syrah that is almost guaranteed to please every palate - and budget at a mere $12.95 - my number one choice would be the Concha y Toro Argentinean masterpiece from the heart of Mendoza, Trivento 2005 Reserve Syrah (663112). This remarkably fine wine has an extremely deep intense purple colour. The intense, spicy, licorice-driven nose is loaded with plummy, black cherries. All of which are reflected on the palate, which is solid, dry and well structured. The extra magic? Wonderful harmony and a blush of smokiness. Don't wait for the results of those paid-entry "best value" wine awards, the winner is staring you in the face. Get it while it's hot and available.

I wish I could say that you could stop reading, but there is more to come. In terms of style, elegance and finesse, a tip of the glass to J.L. Chave 2004 Saint-Joseph Offerus (937474) at $31.95. This well made wine typifies what a fine Northern Rhone Syrah is all about and works perfectly with food.

My last two recommendations, however, are perhaps the most exciting of the release - both Syrah with an abundance of complexity and smokiness. I lined up these two biggies side-by-side three times and tried to decide which was best. It wasn't easy, but in number-two position is Santa Barbara Winery 2004 Syrah (630616) at only $20.95 is something to behold - rich, smoky and cedary with lots of plummy, cassis, cherry flavours. Above all, it's smooth and ready to enjoy.

My number one choice comes from the Pyrenees Mountains of Australia's Victoria region. Wouldn't you guess that this extremely classy blend of 95% Shiraz and 5% Viognier has some serious Rhone roots in the form of the partnership with winemaker extraordinaire Michel Chapoutier. Domaine Terlato & Chapoutier 2005 Shiraz/Viognier (18887) at $25.95 is even better than the 2004 released earlier this year. This one has higher alcohol (14.5% vs. 13.5%) and more flavour concentration with a lingering, creamy, bitter chocolate finish. Wow!

Best Buy of the Week
Exclusive Website Recommendations

Dona Paula Estate 2005 Malbec (Vintages 661819 - $16.95). This Recommended - Best Buy wine rates *+/** out of *** and might best be described as spicy cherries. There are 400 cases available. The agent is Authentic Wines. My tasting note: Extremely deep purple colour. Dried cherry nose with some spicy vanilla notes. Dry, well structured, harmonious, ripe plum and warm black cherry flavours with a lingering finish. The similar 2004 was released on March 4, 2006 at $15.95. A great BBQ red. Drinkability: { N S SM M }

Del Fin del Mundo 2005 Reserva Pinot Noir (Vintages 684548 - $14.95). This Recommended - Best Buy wine rates *+ out of *** and might best be described as rich mocha. There are 250 cases available. The agent is Bogdan Cojocaru. My tasting note: Deep red colour. Spicy, gently complex, baked plum and dried ripe cherry nose. Gently juicy, medium bodied, spicy, ripe plum and baked cherry flavours with a lingering extracty mocha finish. This 2005 appeared as an InStore Discovery on August 4, 2006 at $13.95. Drinkability: { N S SM }

Andre Brunel 2004 Cotes-du-Rhone L'Enclos (Vintages 40972 - $16.95). This Recommended wine rates *+ out of *** and might best be described as juicy fresh strawberries. There are 350 cases available. The agent is John Hanna and Sons. My tasting note: Medium deep purple colour. Spicy, rather intense, attractive, fresh ripe crushed strawberry aromas. Medium bodied, dry, juicy, ready to enjoy, plummy, fresh strawberry flavours. Drink up, at peak. Drinkability: { N S SM }

Vintages Delisting

Starting this Monday, July 23rd, 88 Vintages products will be put on the delisting sale. To see the detail list click here

Coming Up

Saturday, July 21 - Fiesta Buckhorn 2007
[Buckhorn, Ontario] Fiesta Buckhorn is an event that features Canadian wine, beer and local cuisine, held annually in Buckhorn, Ontario, Canada. This sampling event features more than 75 exhibitors and live jazz music in the park. Held from 12:00 to 7:30 pm. Admission is $12 per person. For more information

Sunday, July 22 - Canadian Smooth Jazz and Wine
[Niagara-on-the-Lake] The Bosc family invites you to the Canadian smooth jazz and wine with Amy Sky and Marc Jordan. All net proceeds go to the St. Catharines General Hospital Foundation. Held at Chateau des Charmes, 1025 York Road, Niagara-on-the-Lake, concert door opens at 1:30 pm (lunch starts at 12:00 pm). Tickets $40.00 per person or $75 with lunch (prepared by Stephen Treadwell). For tickets call 905-323-3863 or visit or click here for more information.

Monday July 23 - The Outer Limits of Ontario Wine
This event will feature about 30 wineries, presenting their non-VQA eligible wines. There will be a number of fruit wines, blends of fruit and grape, grape wines, fortified grape wines from non-traditional areas and wines from Ontario's more traditional areas that are not allowed VQA varietals. Held at Savoy Bistro & Lounge - 253 Victoria St., from 6:30 to 9:00 pm. Tickets are $30 per person, and to register please click here. For more information, please call the Wine Line at 416-921-9798.
A trade only tasting will be held earlier from 2:00 to 4:00 pm.

2001 - 2007 Tasting Note Database
Our tasting note database from December 31, 2000 to July  2007, covers every Vintages release product for the past 80 months. There are more than 15,000 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 products from the
July 21 release, including In-Store Discovery items,
click here (sorted by date of release).
You can also see it sorted by agent click here

To see the complete list of upcoming products from the
August 4 release, including In-Store Discovery items,
click here (sorted by date of release).
You can also see it sorted by agent click here

To see the complete list of upcoming products from the
August 18 release, including 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 2007
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