Release Best Buys
almost tinsel time and yet another Vintages release is upon us. Today’s
120-item Vintages Catalogue leads off with an 8-page section entitled “Great
Things Big and Small”. They
are, of course, referring to some two-dozen highlighted half-bottles and
magnums. Unfortunately, with few exceptions, none of these wines are
sampled meaning who knows if they are worth buying. Ditto for many of the
many of the
appearing in the next 10-page section. The same goes for
all the Vintages InStore Discoveries,
which have also been purged from the catalogue. The bottom line is that if
the LCBO wants to promote these wines, they have to get them assessed
locally. Relying on dated, unreliable, American tasting notes simply will
back in the tasting lab, I did manage to come up with three stellar best
buy whites. While it some may not think that this is perfect time of year
for Riesling, there is one new charmer to contend with from New
Zealand’s Waipara region in the South Island. Stratum
(661686) at $16.95 is a versatile crowd pleaser that really hits the spot.
The nose is refined with lime tinged, ripe lemon-apple-rhubarb notes. On
the palate, it has just the faintest hint sweetness with harmonious, ripe
lemon-melon flavours and a zesty finish. A perfect pick-me-up companion
for seafood and poultry dishes.
other pair of best buys comes from California and they are both
Chardonnays. The least expensive at $16.95 is Santa
Barbara Winery 2004 Chardonnay
(989152). The barrel-fermented effort has a
rather intense, toasty, spicy, ripe pear nose. These spicy notes are quite
predominant on the palate and are balanced by slightly honeyed,
vanilla-tinged, expressive, ripe pear flavours. This crowd-pleaser would
work well with spicy dishes, especially poultry.
Vintner’s Reserve Chardonnay
(369686) at $21.95 was a bit of a surprise
because I have never have been a big fan of K-J’s overtly tropical
style. Well this one finally hits the mark. It is dry, well structured and
harmonious with elegantly spicy, ripe Anjou pear flavours followed up by a
lingering, lime-tinged finish.
looking for something a bit different might venture forth and try a new
white from Italy’s Veneto region. Masi
2004 Colbaraca Soave Classico
at $16.95 is a single vineyard blend based on Garganega, about half of
which is aged in stainless steel for the fruit and the other half in oak
barrels for complexity. The result is an appealing, medium-light bodied,
refreshing, ripe lemon-melon flavoured white with a slightly nutty finish.
on to reds, once again two wines from California take centre stage. The
first in an old reliable, Bonny
Doon 2003 Ca’del Solo Big House Red
(308999) priced at $18.95 in screwcap. From the depths of this very deep
intense purple coloured elixir comes an avalanche of spicy sweet cassis
and raspberry fruit. Look for
plumy, juicy, ripe black raspberry flavours with a lifted, spicy, black
that some of the Italian grapes found in earlier editions have disappeared
- only a touch of Barbera remains. Today’s blend is predominantly Syrah,
Petite Sirah and Carignane, which
are basically from the French Rhone/Languedoc region. This 2003 is an
improvement over the 2002, which appeared earlier this year.
At just a dollar more, Santa Barbara Winery 2001 Syrah (630616) at $19.95 offers great accessibility. With a whopping 15.3% alcohol, this well-structured, gently smoky red offers stewed ripe plum and cassis flavours with an excellent lingering finish - a perfect reflection of ripe Santa Ynez Valley fruit. This tasty versatile effort is at its peak and will go will with roast lamb, mushroom risotto and a variety of hearty autumnal dishes.
on to the Vintages
Wine of the Month,
I am pleased to report that they finally have a winner. It is always
challenging to find great Bordeaux at under $20, and, thankfully, this
well-structured winner from the Lurton stable offers great drinking value.
Château Grossombre Bordeaux
(943712 - $18.95 is a blend of 67% Cabernet Sauvignon and 33% Merlot. It
is dry, crisp and well balanced with delightful, tangy, ripe plum-cherry
flavours and a lifted, slightly cedary finish. Owned by André Lurton’s
daughter Béatrice, this ancient property is located in the
Entre-deux-Mers region on the left back of the Dordogne. It has been
lovingly restored and is now producing splendid wines.
dessert, don’t miss picking up a bottle or two of
2004 Elysium Black Muscat
(276840) at $15.95 (375 ml).
For whatever reason, this gem from California hasn’t been seen in
Vintages for over two years. Light red colour, the nose is seductively
sweet and juicy with gobs of black cherry-Muscat fruit. Ditto for the
palate: sweet, creamy and yet vibrant with lingering, Black Muscat
delicious sweetie, this time from Ontario, is Southbrook
(339044) at $14.95 for 375 ml. This must-buy for the upcoming holiday
season has a very intense, sweet cassis nose. It is dense, rich and sweet
but balanced on the palate with brilliant cassis flavours and a lovely
lingering finish. An international award-winning effort, it is perhaps the
best release to date and is the perfect gift for overseas visitors.
This Sunday, November 13 from 2 to 6 pm the Archibald Orchards will hold their Customer Appreciation Day. Call the Archibald Orchards at 905-263-2396 or email email@example.com for more information.
up next Thursday, November 17 at 6 pm is the annual French Chamber of
Commerce bash "BEYOND NOUVEAU”- Festival of Beaujolais at the
Ontario Club. In addition to music & traditional bistro fare, all 10
Beaujolais Cru, two appellations and both Nouveau will be poured. Tickets
are $50 for members of the French Chamber of Commerce ($60 for
non-members) and can be purchased by calling 416- 205-9820.
in the day, the LCBO will
present an opportunity to taste this year's Nouveau Release.
Held at the LCBO Summerhill store (at Yonge &
Summerhill from 11:00 am to 2:00 pm. Contact the Summerhill store
for more information at 416-922-0403.
you visit our Vintage Assessments website next week for the lowdown on
this year’s Nouveau release. I will be reporting on the following list
of 8 wines, some of which have been tasted in advance:
Stores and Vintages
Tasting Note Database
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Notes Database: click
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