& Treats in Today's Vintages Release
is almost Halloween and today’s Vintages release of 105 items has loads
of treats and even a few tricks. For Canadian producers, the scariest
thing about this release is the spotlight on Australia, which consists of
37 wines taking up almost half of the Catalogue. Over the past decade
Australian imports have exploded. From out of nowhere, it is now the third
largest supplier after France and Italy.
is astonishing to think that for many years, the number one selling red in
Canada has been Wolf
Blass Yellow Label Cabernet Sauvignon at
$16.90. Why is this so surprising? Because almost everywhere else, the
best selling wines are often cheap and not all that cheerful. But not
here; Canadian dedication to quality is a testimonial to our national
palate - our willingness to put the money where our mouths are!
said that, it seems that the new generation of recently hatched “critter
wines” have invaded the market. Number one on the hit parade is
now South Australia’s Yellow
which has just catapulted to the top. The secret: a catchy label and a low
price (although not as low as in the US). The key, however, is its
simplicity – a juicy, just-off-dry style that any beginner can enjoy,
with or without food.
Tail (Aussi slang for young kangaroo) was originally launched exclusively
in the US in 2001 at $4.95, just above the price of cheap jug wine. From
200,000 cases in 2001, sales have exploded to an estimated 8 million cases
best sellers of yesteryear, such as Portugal’s Mateus Rose and
Germany’s Blue Nun, Yellow Tail is basically an entry wine leading to
bigger and better things. Those wanting to taste Australia’s best,
however, should look at today’s release. My top-buy Aussi white, for
instance, would be the delectable Wolf
Blass 2004 Gold Label Chardonnay 2004
(606186) at $21.95. This screwcap gem from the Adelaide Hills in South
Australia has an intense, lifted, lime purée nose with buttery, brioche
notes. It is refined and yet well structured on the palate with slightly
spicy, toasty, lingering, ripe pear purée flavours. Score it 90+ points.
While Semillon is still a bit of a mystery, when well done it is a perfect refuge from a world of me-too styles. Better yet, it is capable of improving/evolving for many years to come. Those looking for a classic example should try Lindemans 2000 Semillon Bin 9655 (558627) at $23.95. It comes from the Hunter Valley in New South Wales and will definitely wow your palate with terrific mouthfeel, despite a surprisingly low alcohol of only 10.5%. This is the result of using old vines with low yields. Bright light yellow in colour, the nose is quite complex with slightly spicy, lemon meringue and lime notes. On the palate it is solid, very dry and slightly tart with candied grapefruit peel and lemon drop flavours. A real oyster wine.
terms of the Australian reds, one of the best buys is Yalumba
2003 Oxford Landing Cabernet Sauvignon/Shiraz
(283689) at $12.95 with a screwcap closure. This South Australia,
ready-to-enjoy, crowd pleaser has 14.5% alcohol and a very deep intense
purple colour. The spicy, juicy, ripe black cherry flavours have lingering
cassis notes. Half bottles are available at $6.95 (657718).
highlights are a pair of very well made Syrah, or as the Aussis say,
Estates 2003 Hill Of Gold Shiraz
(614784) at $22.95 comes from the Mudgee region in New South Wales. Look
for medium-full bodied, well-structured, still youthful, stewed plum,
cedar- chocolate flavours with some lime purée on the lingering finish.
It’s even better than the 2002, which was released last December at
The best buy red at $29.95 is the extremely tasty Wolf Blass 2002 Gold Label Shiraz (590273). The nose is slightly smoky with ripe plums, black cherries and vanilla bean. This well-structured, smooth but extracty effort from South Australia’s Barossa Valley shows ripe plum, vanilla and wonderful cherry flavours with hints of smoke and lime.
Ontario against the Aussi onslaught are three Vintages releases from
Delaine Vineyard owned by Don and Elaine Triggs. As the CEO of Vincor, Don
has the wine made at the nearby Jackson-Triggs facilities. While the Pinot
Noir is disappointing, both solid, well-structured, Bordeaux-based
releases are worth trying.
Vineyard 2002 Merlot
(922294) at $24.95 has a complex, cedary, spicy, cigar-box nose with plum
purée and chocolate notes. The
well-structured, fruity, Xmas plum cake flavours complete with cassis and
chocolate notes would be perfect with a roast beef. Moving up to $29.95,
the previously released Delaine
Vineyard 2002 Cabernet/Merlot
(989269) shows even more complexity with roasted red pepper, plum and
smoky lime purée flavours along with a lingering chocolate finish
the real treat of the release is very well-priced Champagne for everyday
Brut Premier Cru Champagne
at $37.95 is a wide-appeal style. Elegant and medium bodied with honeyed,
ripe melon flavours, it also comes in half bottles at $19.95 (919456) and
magnums $75.95 (650978).
Apparently Halloween gremlins got into the re-release of Antinori 2000 Chianti Classico Riserva (512384) at $34.95. It showed very well last May when it hit the shelves at $37.95, but there is something definitely amiss with this latest shipment. Both bottles were quite cooked with stewed plum flavours - suggesting heat-related problems during shipment and/or storage here in Ontario. When these kinds of things happen, the LCBO should do the right thing and put its customers on alert. Assuming that the rest of the shipment is equally disappointing (the code number L224518 is etched on the side of the glass bottle), these wines should be discounted with a permanent ink mark (say an asterisk) on the label thereby avoiding confusion premium previously shipped bottles.
Thursday, November 3rd, there are two dinner events may be worth
exploring. The first is a Clarendon Hills Wine Dinner.
The five-course gourmet dinner and matching Clarendon Hills wines
will be held at Truffles at the
Four Seasons Hotel starting at 6:30 pm. The cost is $175 per person.
Unfortunately, no details on the wines being served have been provided. To
see the menu click
here. Call Truffles at 416-928-7331 for further information.
the same night, Beerbistro
will host the Compass Box Whisky Collection dinner. Tickets are $100 per
no details on the menu and/or whiskies being served have been provided. Contact
Beerbistro at 416-861-9872 for information.
Saturday, November 5, 2005 at 7:30
pm, the Spirit
of Toronto presents
its annual fine whisky gala designed for the appreciation of premium
spirits in a comfortable and elegant setting, with the industry’s most
respected distillers, bottlers and blenders.
Tasting Note Database
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