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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. 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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Sizzling Sauvignon Blanc
Vintages Best Buy Whites
Title Holders vs. The Challengers
© Michael Vaughan 2007
National Post Weekly Wine & Spirits Columnist
Saturday, July 7, 2007

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

The recommended 2005 Trius Red is currently not available at the LCBO, only the less satisfactory 2004. The 2005 vintage is currently only available at the winery.

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).

It's hot, hot, hot and I am in the world capital of Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough, New Zealand. My guide is Jim Robertson, Pernod Ricard's emissary for New Zealand's mega Montana-Brancott winery, which happens to be Marborough's first winery. PR also owns a slew of other premium properties including Framingham (famous for its Riesling/Gewurztraminer), Stoneleigh and Church Road in Hawkes Bay.

We sit down in the tasting room where I am confronted by the winemaker and almost three-dozen wines. I work my way through a new series of site-specific - Sauvignon Blanc reflecting the different styles coming our of four different Marlborough sub-regions. Being freshly bottled, the stylistic variations have not had an opportunity to blossom. Nevertheless, it is exciting to see exactly what each of these regions can produce (to see the New Zealand tasting notes click here). Of course, the ultimate question is: which will consumers prefer?

I had hoped that today's Vintages release focusing on Sauvignon Blanc might address that question. It does to a degree; I like the "main event" thematic idea pitting "title holders" vs. "the challengers". My key reservation about the 22 wines featured is the inclusion of non-stellar selections and the absence of any terrific Sauvignon Blanc from Austria's exciting southern Styria region. Also absent: any great Canadian Sauvignon Blanc. Sadly, Vintages has too many mediocre reruns. I am referring to the stuff in the Vintages Essentials collection, which are essentially paid-for listings - not always destination wines based on quality.

Getting down to the task at hand, under bold and zesty heading my best buy is the "title holder" from New Zealand Mount Riley 2006 Sauvignon Blanc (981670) at $18.95. It is very dry and medium-light bodied with very zesty, gooseberry-rhubarb-pear flavours. "The challenger" is the disappointing, light, tart Mulderbosch 2006 Sauvignon Blanc (933424) at $18.95 (it used to be very good). If you want something tasty, buy Newton Johnson 2006 Sauvignon Blanc (714212) at $16.95, which was released in Vintages April 14 and has bright, slightly grassy, ripe melon flavours. It is made from grapes coming from Walker Bay and Elgin regions. There is still a lot available - click on the name of the wine to see which LCBO stores carry it.

While nothing from Australia was worth a detour, I liked both under-$20 California selections. My best buy would be the ready-to-drink Geyser Peak 2005 Sauvignon Blanc (340208) at $15.95 with its very gently honeyed, ripe lemon-melon flavours. Showing a touch of maturity is the spicy De Loach 2003 Sauvignon Blanc (34769) at $18.95 from the Russian River Valley.

From the old world, we have a great Lurton duo from Bordeaux. My best buy selection is Jacques & Francois Lurton 2005 Sauvignon Blanc (33282) at $15.95 with is bright, medium-light bodied, ripe, melon-lemon-peach flavours. It comes with a screwcap closure. Next is 2005 Château Coucheroy (597708) at $17.95, which is made by their dad André Lurton. It has a cork finish and a bit more body with ripe yellow grapefruit flavours along with 10% Semillon.

A well-priced charmer from Spain's Rueda is Marqués de Riscal 2006 Sauvignon Blanc (976514) at $14.95. Look for pleasant, refreshing, peachy, ripe lemon flavours.

Finally, my red wine of the release is 2005 Trius Red (303800) at $19.95. This VQA blend of 47% Cabernet Sauvignon, 42% Cabernet Franc and 11% Merlot that should not be missed. The most attractive Trius tasted in years and the first effort by new winemaker Darryl Brooker - congrats! It's dry, only medium bodied and well-balanced with ripe, plummy-crancherry flavours followed up by a mocha-chocolate-cedar finish. This 2005 comes from a very low yielding year - only 25% of normal production. Anyone attending this weekend's Hillebrand Jazz at the Winery shouldn't miss trying it. Tickets $30.00 per guest. For information on the July 7-8 afternoon events call 1-800-582-8412 or click here. The recommended 2005 Trius Red is currently not available at the LCBO, only the less satisfactory 2004. The 2005 vintage is currently only available at the winery.

Red Buy of the Week
An Exclusive Website Recommendation

From the Rhone's Costières de Nîmes comes on heck of a red - Mas des Bressades 2005 Cuvée Excellence (Vintages 708750) a steal at $16.95. It rates **/+ out of *** and might best be described as being dry, harmonious & smoky. There are 600 cases available. The agent is Torion Trading. My tasting note: Fairly intense, gently juicy, ripe plum nose with some smoky sandalwood notes. Dry, fairly juicy, spicy, well structured, medium bodied, ripe plum and cherry flavours with a crisp, complex, slightly earthy, lively finish. A consistently recommended fine buy. Drinkability { N S SM m }

National Post readers wanting to see how Ontario wines fared are invited to download our 2007 Ontario Wine Awards Summary - a complete, convenient compilation of four competitions and 204 awards click here.

Coming up

Saturday, July 7 & 8 - Hillebrand Jazz
[Niagara-on-the-Lake] Bring your favourite chair or blanket and listen to the sounds from the lawn overlooking the Stone Road Vineyard. VQA wines and wine country cuisine available for purchase. Held at Hillebrand Estates Winery, 1249 Niagara Stone Rd., Niagara-on-the-Lake, from 4 pm to 8 pm. For more information visit
Tickets $30.00 per guest. For further information, please call 1-800-582-8412.

Sunday, July 8 - Niagara Farm to Table Experience
[Niagara-on-the-Lake] The Bosc family invites you to come and experience a celebration of Niagara’s fresh bounty, produced locally and brought directly from the farm to your table, presented by Chef Erik Peacock and Grower Dave Irish featuring fava beans and Niagara beets. Held at Chateau des Charmes, 1025 York Road, Niagara-on-the-Lake, from 4:30 to 6:30 pm. Tickets are $50.00 per person. For tickets contact Allison Vandenbos at 905-262-4219 ext.27 or email or click here for more information 

Tuesday, July 10 - Beerbistro American Beer & BBQ Dinner
This event will be the headline of Beerbistro's American Beer and BBQ festival. Hosted by Lucy Saunders, author of the books Cooking With Beer  and Grilling With Beer. Held at the Beerbistro - 18 King St. E.
For more information and detail contact the Beerbistro at 416-861-9872 

Thursday, July 12-14 - Shakespeare in the Vineyard
[St. Catharines, Ontario] For this year's Shakespeare in the Vineyard event, the Niagara Falls Theatre Society presents The Winters Tale directed by Michael Madden. Held at Henry of Pelham Winery - 1469 Pelham Rd., R.R.#1.
Tickets are $25. For reservations please call the Brock University Centre for the Arts at 905-688-5550 ext. 3257.

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 7 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
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

Copyright Food & Beverage Testing Institute of Canada 2007
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