This week’s Vintages release is a whopping 150 SKU’s strong. This might be the largest Vintages release ever, measured by number of wines if not also by average price per bottle. Some 51 wines are priced at over $30.00 per bottle and by my rough calculation the average price is $34.50 per 750 ml bottle across the release! Ka-ching, ka-ching, I think they call it at the LCBO.
This is a great release featuring wines for holiday giving and it encompasses a selection of iconic wines from Argentina, Australia, California, France and Ontario along with some special spirits.
My recommendations have a distinct Chardonnay theme – great with roast turkey – and once again I provide a list of top value picks followed by some very attractive runners’- up.
The Chardonnays below demonstrate the diverse styles that climate and winemaking can deliver with this versatile grape.
Australia, Victoria, Yarra Valley – Coldstream Hills Chardonnay 2008
This is an excellent example of the cool-climate Chardonnay style that delivers elegance with assertive juicy stone fruit and citrus aromas and flavours. This wine is finely balanced and complex with modest vanilla and leesy elements. While this wine did not undergo malolactic fermentation the mouth feel is creamy with a solid mineral backbone and the finish is very long. My notes say the fruit dances on your tongue. This is a very good value wine and will surprise consumers who expect fat, blowsy Chardonnay from Australia.
Extra dry, white wine – $24.95 per bottle
Australia, South Australia, Barossa Valley – Torbreck Roussanne/Marsanne/Viognier 2008
Now we travel to a much warmer zone in Australia for a Rhône blend that is big and ripe. This blend is dominated by the Viognier grape and it shows fragrant aromas of white flowers, honey and lemon. The palate is medium/full-bodied with pineapple, apple and vanilla. The wine was aged in wood but the oak effect is modest and does not distract from the rich and juicy fruit. The finish is long and there is enough structure for this wine to continue to evolve in the bottle for the next 2 -3 years.
Extra dry, white wine – $19.95 per bottle
France, Burgundy – AOC Vaillons Chablis 1er Domaine Jean Collet & Fils 2007
This is another cool-climate Chardonnay from the northern-most reaches of Burgundy. This wine is finely-tuned with a lean and angular character that is the delight of well-made 1er Cru Chablis. This wine needs time to develop – it is quite closed on the nose and the palate is austere. Cellar for the next few years or use the Nuance aerator I describe above to give it a boost when you pour the wine. There is plenty of lime, toasted almond and chalky minerals with a leesy nose and palate. Complex and structured, this wine is a beauty.
Extra dry, white wine- $27.95 per bottle
France, Southern Rhône – AOC Châteauneuf-du-Pape Domaine du Vieux Télégraphe La Crau 2007
For the past few years I have served a Burgundy white and La Crau 2000 with our turkey. I still have a few bottles of that vintage and they continue to develop. My point? This is a great wine that looks pricy on the surface but it is a perfect example of the wonderful vintage that was 2007 in the southern Rhône and it will age nicely for the next 15 or more years. Made by the most exacting makers in the appellation, the Brunier brothers, this wine is concentrated and structured. It has aromas and flavours of black cherry fruit, stewed plum, black pepper spice, dark, wet soil and herbes de Provence. The tannins are still assertive and need time to achieve better integration and balance. The finish is long and memorable. This is a great wine at a price that compares with the price I paid for the 2000 some 7 years ago. Vive le Rhône!
Extra dry, red wine – $76.95 per bottle (Holiday Giving feature wine)
Spain, Catalunya – DO Catalunya Del Jalón Altos Las Pizarras 2005
This wine is 100% Garnacia (a.k.a. Genache) grown on vines that are at least 100 years years old. While we don’t see much Grenache which is not in a blend, it can make an interesting wine on its own: here we have a very good example of the type. It is full-bodied and is rich with plum, spice and cherry along with plenty of oaky character. This wine should be put in your cellar for a few years so the oak can recede and so the wine can achieve the harmony that it promises. Excellent value!
Extra dry, red wine – $18.95 per bottle
This week’s runners’- up are more pricy than my top-value picks but they still represent good value:
Spain, Ribera del Duero – DO Ribera del Duero Bodegas y Veñedos Alion 2006
Extra dry, red wine – $73.95 per bottle (Holiday Giving feature wine – sister wine to the storied Vega Sicilia this is a robust and concentrated wine that will develop well for the next 10+ years)
Ontario, Niagara – VQA Beamsville Bench Hidden Bench Chardonnay 2007
Extra dry, white wine – $35.20 per bottle (Holiday Giving feature wine – concentrated, structured wine with Old World character and complexity)
Ontario, Niagara – VQA Niagara Peninsula Le Clos Jordanne Village Reserve Chardonnay 2008
Extra dry, white wine – $25.00 per bottle (This is the entry level Chardonnay in the Clos Jordanne range – bright citrus fruit with hazelnut and stony minerals)
France, Burgundy – AOC Puligny Montrachet Les Folatières 1er Cru Domaine Alain Chavy 2008
Dry, white wine – $64.95 per bottle (This is a lean but rich and complex wine displaying the character of this appellation. Cellar for the next three years and enjoy for the following 5 – 6 years)
Originally published in WVN, November 27, 2010. Copyright© W. John Switzer 2003 -2010.