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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

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Dust off your Lederhosen
Austrian Wines Finally Unleashed in Vintages
© Michael Vaughan 2007
National Post Weekly Wine & Spirits Columnist
Saturday, September 1, 2007

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

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It's depressing, the way Vintages works. All summer I have been thirsting for some refreshing Austrian whites; but only one has appeared in the past three months. Stadt Krems 2006 Grüner Veltliner Sandgrube (687913) made its Vintages debut on July 21st at $14.95. It's dry and fairly light bodied with spicy, lemony, melon flavours and a lively unoaked finish. This easy drinking summery quaffer works best with seafood.

Ditto for the alternative less expensive Sal'mon Groovey 2006 Grüner Veltliner (669606) at $12.95, which is still available from last May. Crisp and very dry, the zesty, ripe lemon-yellow grapefruit flavours are great for a hot summer day. This hip rendition comes in a screwcap bottle and is ready to be consumed anywhere and perfect for the younger crowd.

I had hoped to see it reappear soon. Sadly, next week's Vintages "Product Needs" letter specifies that only Austrian wines in the $14-$30 range can apply. It seems that Sal'mon Groovey is too cheap for Vintages buyers, who are definitely forcing us to choose from higher priced wines. If something doesn't sell because the price is too high, Vintages doesn't really care. The reason? If 75% is not sold within 90 days, the supplier is forced to pay the LCBO a 20% rebate. How sweet it is.

As for the current dearth of Austrian wines, the drought is over - well almost. Today's Vintages release features 9 Austrian wines. I was on the verge of dusting off my lederhosen until I previewed the LCBO selection. I wish I could be more enthusiastic. Most are ok, but few are worthy of a detour. And the prices? Well as they say: up, up and away.

My two recommendations are based on Muscat grapes: one fairly dry, the other very sweet. The first is Moorhof 2006 Muskat Ottonel (728667) at $15.95. It's loaded with spicy Muscat flavours with a bright, dryish, grapefruit peel finish. Too bad about the price - I was told by the agent that Vintages had agreed to a $13.95 price (it last appeared at $12.95). Nevertheless, it is still a tasty destination - especially with Thai or Indian cuisine.

The second is a terrific icewine-inspired winner from Burgenland, where the grapes don't have to freeze to become supremely rich and lush. Lenz Moser 2004 Prestige Trockenbeerenauslese (729657) at $19.95 per half bottle has intense, sweet but balanced, candied lemon-melon and Seville orange marmalade flavours with a long finish. Great for dessert or with fois gras.

As the "Pinot Pilgrim", I have saved the best for last or so it would seem. There are 25 Pinot Noir on offer, plus another 5 hidden, untasted, in-store discoveries. Most are uninspiring. The best buy is from Chile's cooler Bío Bío Valley - Vińa Porta 2005 Reserve Pinot Noir (38836) at $15.95. It is very slightly earthy and complex with roasted plum and baked black cherry flavours and a lingering cedary finish. It is terrific - what a shame that it wasn't pre-tasted by the wine consultants.

The best Pinot Noir on show is Bouchard Pere & Fils 2005 Volnay Caillerets 1er Cru Ancienne Cuvée Carnot (43240) at $86.95. This class act shows good complexity and depth of flavours focusing on vibrant, plummy, gently juicy, ripe cherries. It is very drinkable today but will certainly evolve over the next five years.

In between these two is a roller coaster of quality - let the buyer beware. To see the Pinot Noir reviews, click here. Use the npreader password to login.

Finally, coming up on Tuesday, September 4 is the Spanish Wine Society's Marques de Riscal tasting with tapas at the Toronto Lawn Tennis Club. Details are posted on my website and tickets are $71 members / $78 guests. Call Barry Brown at 416-927-9464.

2001 - 2007 Tasting Note Database
Our tasting note database from December 31, 2000 to August 2007, covers every Vintages release product for the past 81 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.

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Copyright Food & Beverage Testing Institute of Canada 2007
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