French Sparkler & Greek Whites
I don’t think that anyone is overly concerned that this is the smallest Vintages release of the year with only 57 items. I suppose that if the LCBO selected better products, they could easily do away with 80% of the release, although I am always surprised that some of the vilest wines manage to eventually sell through.
To make the
selection even smaller, Vintages now refuses to preview in-store discoveries
(ISD) apparently because demand might become too big. It all sounds like a
lot of hot air to me. Meanwhile Vintages will now release a new catalogue
every two weeks apparently to increase visibility and sales. If they are
interested in sales, why did they remove the ISDs from their catalogues
earlier this year? I doubt that doubling printing expenses will have any
major impact on sales as they have no competition. Also gone is the August
Vintages clearance sale. I am told that they don’t need it any more!
All the summer
heat and insanity is enough to drive one to drink. Nothing could be better
than a frothy cold glass of Bailly
Lapierre Crémant de Bourgogne 2001 Chardonnay (680686) at $19.95. This
100% Chardonnay comes from Burgundy and is made in the classic Champagne
method. It is a lovely sparkler with excellent, ripe lemon-melon flavours, a
good mousse and fine structure. Ready to enjoy, it is surprisingly elegant
with a fine lingering finish. At half the price of the real thing, it is
of the Danforth gearing up two week’s from today, Vintages has
a well-deserved spotlight on Greek wines – 6 whites and 5 reds. But what a
selection. While the whites are ok, none of the reds are what I would call
destination wines. How Vintages came up with these, especially the 300 cases
of cooked Tsantalis Naousa 1999
Epilegmenos Reserve at $12.95 featured on the front cover, is beyond me.
There are great Greek reds out there but, unfortunately, Vintages didn’t
Of the whites, my first pick would be 2004 Santorini Assyrtico (627760) at $14.95. It is produced from Assyrtico grapes grown on the beautiful Greek island of Santorini. The slightly honeyed, floral, ripe apricot, beeswax nose gives way to dry, harmonious, melon and tangy ripe lemon flavours with a lingering refreshing light finish.
would be Kir-Yianni 2003 Samaropetra
(653766) at $15.95, which comes from the 5.4-hc Vin de Pays de
Florina vineyard in northeastern Greece. This blend of Sauvignon Blanc,
Gewurztraminer and the indigenous Roditis grape has a very bright, gently
grassy, refreshing grapefruit peel nose. Dry, very crisp and medium-light
bodied, the lively, ripe lemon-grapefruit flavours are followed up with a
slightly grassy finish. It is imported by Spondi Fine Wines & Spirits
who specializes in Greek wines. You can check out their website at www.spondi.com
Here are three
other fine values worth buying, all under $14. First from Portugal is the
de Santa Maria 2004 Vinho Verde Colheita Seleccionada (704858) at
$12.95. This blend of Arinto and Loureiro is dry, crisp and medium-light
bodied with tangy, yellow grapefruit flavours with harmonious finish.
Second, from Spain’s Rueda region,
Bodega Viña Bajoz 2004 Ovacion
(909382) hits the spot at $12.95. This blend of 60% Verdejo and 40% Vivra
has attractive, vibrant, ripe melon-lemon with a lingering, very gently
grassy, tangy, unoaked finish. Finally from Italy’s Trentino is
2003 Chardonnay Barricato 40
at $13.95. Look for crisp Anjou pear and ripe lemon flavours with a tangy,
lingering, vanilla tinged finish.
will be interested in the food friendly
Markus Huber ‘Hugo’ 2003 Grüner Veltliner 2003 (641506) at
$15.95. It comes from the Reichersdorf/Traisental region not far from Vienna
and has unoaked, gently honeyed, ripe lemon aromas with some schisty notes.
Dry, harmonious and medium bodied, the well-integrated, ripe lemon-melon
flavours work perfectly with seafood.
buy of the release is a Vin de Pays des Côtes de Gascogne from
southwest France. The Colombard-based
2004 Domaine des Cassagnoles (931212) can’t be beat for current
consumption at an incredible $8.95. The tasty, tangy, Anjou pear and ripe
yellow grapefruit flavours are a huge improvement over the 2003.
Only a few reds jumped out in today’s release. From the Hawkes Bay region of New Zealand’s North Island comes Oyster Bay 2004 Merlot (692343) at $18.95. Look for spicy, very bright, plumy, juicy red cherry and pimento flavours with sandalwood notes on the finish. Meanwhile, from Australia’s Bendigo region of Victoria is the tasty Water Wheel 2003 Memsie (656637) at $15.95, which is perfect for the BBQ and has a convenient screwcap closure. This well-priced blend of 83% Shiraz, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon and 7% Malbec is loaded with fruit.
As for the red wine of the month, the Blason De Bourgogne 2003 Pinot Noir (657387) at $16.95 gets a qualified recommendation. Don’t expect anything that you can lay away. This drink-today effort has a pleasant gently spicy, rather fruity, red cherry-raspberry nose. On the palate it is very crisp and somewhat light bodied with a cherry-tinged taste. It is ready to drink today, but would be challenged by flavourful dishes or anything with a smoky BBQ sauce.
At the premium end of the spectrum, the best red is a Coteaux d’Aix-en-Provence called Château Calissanne 2001 Clos Victoire (982207) at $34.95. This blend of 60% Syrah and 40% Cabernet Sauvignon is worth every penny. It has a very deep intense purple colour and lovely, complex, slightly smoky, raspberry jam nose. It is well structured and harmonious on the palate with plum purée flavours and gently smoky, juicy, black cherry notes on the lingering finish. Try with a rack of lamb.
best things about the Greek release are the spirits. If you like Italian
grappa don’t miss
Tsipouro 2004 (680793) at $27.95 for 700 ml. Clear in colour, the
nose is quite lovely - slightly sweet, grassy, ripe pears. It has a fairly
dry, slightly grassy, green pear flavours that linger on the palate.
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