the Signature Selection
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ON THE NAME
There is an explosion of celebrity wines. They are named after famous golfers, movie stars, producers, comedians, singers and rock stars (both alive and deceased). There's even an Italian porn star with her own brand. Unfortunately, what's in the bottle is haphazard. Being rich and famous doesn't necessarily mean great taste.
It seems that having a big name provides easy access to LCBO shelves. Of course, loads of money for LCBO marketing helps. Given all the yet-to-be-discovered gems, one has to wonder whether all these new wines are actually necessary, or simply marketing gimmicks.
I have tasted dozens of awesome wines that have been rejected by LCBO buyers. The key reason is that US wine critics haven't scored them yet. LCBO buyers don't get excited unless the wine gets a high score. By then it can be too late - they're all sold.
Many great undiscovered wines pop up in numerous competitions around the world. Last September I evaluated some 240 Sauvignon Blanc at South Africa's Veritas competition. It was here where I was cornered by a distraught winemaker. "We get gold awards - but in Ontario the LCBO doesn't bite."
It's challenging. Consider that two Veritas double-gold winners were rejected by the LCBO. How does one get them before the customer? The answer, according to my new friend, is to make them available through Ontario's private order/consignment system. And so the concept of the Michael Vaughan Signature Selection was born. Not a brand or a label but a designation of quality and value.
I decided that the best South African Sauvignon Blanc would be my first. It didn't happen. Veritas competition organizers would not provide me with the list of wines tasted. The three days making meticulous notes were wasted. No top wine to import, no recommendations to share with readers.
Returning to Canada sans signature, I happened to meet with UK wine enthusiast David Levin. As the owner of the deluxe Carlton Hotel in London, Levin had a vision of making world-class Sauvignon Blanc in its birthplace - the Loire. "It's prestige has been usurped by the New World," says Levin. "While we all have heard of great Sancerre, I wanted to create a mouthwatering, fruity, delicious white that could stand up to the best from anywhere."
When I tasted Levin 2006 Sauvignon Blanc, it was love at first sip. Its pent up fruit danced on the tongue with just the right acidity. Levin freed himself of the shackles of tradition making a modern wine in a stunning new winery in the old world. Like many greats, it wasn't available here.
It seemed that it would be the perfect inaugural candidate for my signature series. Within minutes, the deal was done and 56 cases are currently en route to the Ontario agent Woodman Wines & Spirits (estimated $26 a bottle).
Buying it will be easy. Warren Porter of sommelierservice.com will get it to you. In addition to wine storage, Porter runs a wine club and this will be one of his exclusive selections. Call or visit the sommelierservice.com booth (#170) at this weekend's Gourmet Food & Wine Expo. Also readers presenting this article will receive a complimentary copy of my November 24th edition of Vintage Assessments.
there, check out the Chilean booth for my wine
of the week. At only $11.15 you'll love the refreshing,
peachy, yellow grapefruit flavours of Casillero
del Diablo 2007 Sauvignon Blanc (578641). It's a
Coming Up Monday,
This event is a fun competition that challenges amateurs and professionals to identify the grape varietal, country/region of origin and vintage of a diverse range of international wines. It is sponsored by The Renaissance Project and Cool Climate Oenology and Viticulture Institute under the watchful eye of the founder/executive producer Phil Sabatino of Via Allegro Ristorante. Participation in the challenge is by appointment only and registration is free of charge. A serious list of outstanding prizes will be awarded to the winning contestants. It all takes place on the 32nd floor of the Four Seasons Hotel in Toronto. For more information please contact Jenn at 1- 905-688-5550 x4949 or email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.winetastingchallenge.com
- 2007 Tasting Note Database
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