LCBO Vintages Release – January 22, 2011

This Saturday’s Vintages release features wines from Chile and SouthWest France.

Unfortunately the feature wines selected for this release are too simple for my palate and none made the grade on my list for value and quality.  This is too bad as both regions are showing improvements in quality and are known for modestly-priced accessible wines.  I think the Vintages team was seeking to keep its New Year 2011 offerings at accessible prices (i.e. below $15.00 per bottle) and in the process has delivered a list of insipid, below-average wines: wines that don’t do the Vintages brand justice, in my mind.

South West France – the regions of Cahors, Madiran and the lesser-known regions of Gaillac and Fronton – is showing enormous development in recent years.  Historically the wines from these parts of France were hairy and rustic and required extended bottle-aging to soften and eventually appeal to tender palates.  Cahors is the traditional home of Malbec, the grape now known for its round and juicy Argentinean character. Wines from Madiran are made with the Tannat grape – the grape best-known for its high levels of heart-healthy anthocyanins.  These are grapes that all wine lovers should explore from different regions to see the effect of terroir on their presentation.

There are some inexpensive wines from the South West of France in the release that you may wish to try.  Ask your local product consultant for some suggestions that will fit your palate.

While this release is one of the weakest in a while there are still a handful of good values, headlined by some very classy white wines.

Germany, Mosel – QmP Haus Klosterberg Markus Molitor Riesling Spätlese 2008

Stunning value for a well-made Mosel Riesling, this wine shows intense aromas and flavours with a very long finish.  Honey, spice, stone fruits and orange citrus are accompanied by stony minerals on the palate.  There is a hint of botrytis on the nose and palate adding to the overall complexity of this wine.  The body is light to medium and I suggest you serve this wine with a lightly breaded veal cutlet or a halibut steak.

Medium-dry, white wine – $22.95 per bottle

France, Loire – AOC Pouilly-Fumé Cédrick Bardin 2009

I love the wines of the Loire almost as much as I love the oohs of pleasant surprise when I present one of these wines to a group of skeptics. Made with 100% Sauvignon Blanc grapes there is plenty of grapefruit citrus and mineral character reflecting the cool climate and limestone substrate of the upper Loire valley. The acid is bright and juicy and the finish is long.  This is a perfect wine match for spicy Thai food.

Extra-dry, white wine – $21.95 per bottle

France, Champagne  – AOC Champagne Vandières Delouvin Nowack Carte d’Or Brut NV

Valentine’s Day is on the near horizon and this calls for a celebration sparkler.  Here’s the perfect match for the need at a very fine price. The colour is a deep yellow-gold indicating extended time in bottle.  The nose is resplendent with biscuit, lemon and toast.  The palate shows very good weight and has excellent structure and complexity.  Toast, biscuit, bright and juicy citrus flavours are all present.  The mousse is assertive and creamy. Be forewarned: the LCBO brought in only a small number of cases and this wine will move quickly…great value!

Extra dry, sparkling wine- $39.95 per bottle

Portugal, Dã0 – DOC Dão Casa de Santar Red 2007

I expected 2010 to be a break out year for Portugal at the LCBO and for some reason the Vintages buyers didn’t deliver as I expected.  2011 seems to be off to a good start on the Portuguese front so perhaps I was just a few months ahead of myself.  This wine is an excellent value and has bright red fruit, spice, some hints of chocolate, juicy acid and fine tannins.  It is very fresh and quite refined for the price.  This wine will be a good match with cold chicken or steak salad this summer.

Dry, red wine – $14.95 per bottle

Italy, Tuscany – DOCG Vino Nobile di Montepulciano Nottola 2006

This wine is made by one of the better producers in the town of Montepulciano.  It is a blend, where often Vino Nobile is made with 100% Sangiovese grapes (or Prugnolo Gentile as the grape is known in the area). This wine is rustic with an earthy nose laden with rich aromas of red cherry and toasted oak. The palate is medium to full-bodied with complex cherry, herb spices and smoke.  The acid is zesty and the tannins are grainy and dusty.  The finish is long. This is a fine wine from a great value denominazione.  Match with home-made lasagne.

Extra dry, red wine – $18.95 per bottle

The runners’- up:

Ontario, Niagara – VQA Beamsville Bench Rosewood Estates Merlot 2008

Another example of the very good value Rosewood Estates is becoming known for, this wine is ready to drink now.  Black fruit, spice, modest tannins and a strong finish. (Extra dry, red wine $20.00 per bottle)

Italy, Veneto – DOC Prosecco di Valdobbiadene Nino Franco Brut

If the Delouvin Nowack Champagne is too rich for your budget this will be an excellent substitute or a great wine to keep in your working supply for sparkling occasions.  From an excellent maker – Extra dry, sparkling wine $18.95 per bottle.

France, Languedoc – AOC Coteaux du Languedoc La Clape Château Camplazens La Garrigue 2007

This wine is a blend of Syrah and Grenache and is approachable now.  It has very fine complexity on the nose and palate and is a great wine for winter comfort food dinners (Dry, red wine $16.95 per bottle).

The next Vintages Release will feature 2007 reds from Tuscany and prize winners from Washington State.  It will hit the shelves on February 5, 2011.

à bientôt…

Copyright© W. John Switzer 2003 – 2011.

Author: John Switzer

I am wine writer, educator and tour guide. From 2005 to June 2014 I published a bi-weekly newsletter, the Winesights Vintages Newsletter (WVN). This Newsletter was closed in July 2014 when the Government of Canada put in place the onerous administrative requirements of Canada's Anti-Spam Legislation. The legacy of WVN continues on this blog spot where I post wine-related articles as well as reviews of a small selection of best-value wines from each bi-weekly LCBO Vintages release. I hold the WSET Diploma, I am a WSET Certified Educator, I teach in the WSET program at the Independent Wine Education Guild in Toronto where I am the past Director of the WSET Diploma program. Since 2010 I have been a judge at Decanter World Wine Awards on the Rhône panel and I am a member of the Society of Wine Educators.

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