LCBO Vintages release – February 5, 2011

Tuscan wines from the 2007 vintage are featured in this weekend’s Vintages release along with some prize winners from the State of Washington and some romantic wines for Valentine’s Day celebrations.

What is a romantic wine, you might ask?  Any wine your lover wants it to be.

In this case the LCBO has covered some obvious bases with sparklers across many price ranges, value-priced Icewines and an attractive Rosé from Bordeaux.

The selection of Tuscan wines is very appealing with a number of excellent values included in a reasonably large cross section of new producers and well-known and popular DOC’s.  Some 7 wines are classified as IGT – Indicazione geografica tipica – meaning they are made from grapes/blends that are not permitted by the more restrictive DOCG/DOC categories.  Some of the best new wines from Italy are classified IGT and wines in this feature bear out that fact of life in Tuscany.

Wines from the Tuscany feature figures prominently in my best value selections – unusual for a Vintages feature…Two Rhône reds also get the nod this week – another unusual development but the wines I recommend are winners from quality producers

France, Bordeaux – AOC Pessac-Léognan Domaine de Chevalier Rosé de Chevalier 2009 2008

A Bordeaux Rosé this wine, made from a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot grapes.  As you might expect from the blend this Rosé is medium-bodied with excellent structure.  The nose and palate are complex showing spice, red and black fruit and juicy acid. The fruit is intense and very fresh.  The finish is long. This wine is ready now and would be a perfect match with grilled salmon.

Dry, rosé wine – $18.95 per bottle

France, Northern Rhône – AOC  Crozes-Hermitage Domaine Belle les Pierrelles 2007

Domaine Belle is a standard-bearer for this appellation and the 2007 is a fine vintage: all ingredients for a wine to test.  To top it off, this is one of the best quality Crozes we have seen in Vintages for many a year, at an excellent price. There is black pepper, smoked meat, blackberry and some on the nose and palate.  The tannins are firm but well-integrated, the acid is zesty and the finish is long.  This wine will improve over the next 4-6 years.  Serve with a roasted leg of lamb.

Extra-dry, red wine – $22.95 per bottle

France, Southern Rhône – AOC Vacqueyras Montirius Garrigues 2009

I haven’t selected a red from the southern Rhône for a very long while.  Why is this?  For the past several years the Vintages team has been spending its Rhône budget on lesser appellations with a particular focus on the wines from small caves cooperatives – where they can best exercise their buyer clout.  Montirius is a very fine producer in the smallish appellation of Vacqueyras and this wine is an excellent example of what we used to get routinely from this part of France in the Vintages program – complex, correct and good value.  This is a blend of Grenache (70%) and Syrah, both from old vines.  Red and black fruit, garrigue, lavender, black pepper and a hint of chocolate are found on the nose and palate.  This wine is still young and I would recommend cellaring for the next 2-3 years.  Excellent wine/excellent value!  Montirius is biodynamic, BTW.

Extra dry, red wine- $23.95 per bottle

Australia, Tasmania – Jansz Premium Sparkling Rosé NV

Tasmania is a cool-climate zone and is rapidly becoming known for exceptional wines.  Unfortunately production volumes are low so there isn’t a lot of wine that gets out of the Antipodes.  Jansz makes only sparkling wines from the traditional grapes of the Champagne appellation: Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. This wine has been bottle aged for some 2 years so it has a fine biscuit nose.  The palate is rich with strawberry, lees and citrus flavours. The body is medium-weight and the mouth feel is refined and elegant with delicate and precise mousse.  This is a great wine, demonstrating the lean and crisp character of cool-climate fruit.  A beauty!

Dry, sparkling rosé wine – $24.95 per bottle

Italy, Tuscany – IGT Toscana Brancaia Tre 2007

This wine is a blend of Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, all grown in estates in Tuscany.  This is an intense wine with a complex nose of red fruit, herbs, mocha and spice.  The palate is very dry with rounded tannins, juicy acid and a medium body.  Flavours of red fruit, coffee, spice and chocolate lead up to a long finish.

Extra dry, red wine – $24.95 per bottle

The runners’- up:

Germany, Pfalz – QmP Ungsteiner Herrenberg Pfeffingen Scheurebe Spätlese 2008

Aromatic, intense fruit, honey and some tropical notes characterize this sweet-ish and juicy wine. Balanced, complex, sound value.  (Medium-sweet, whiter wine – $19.85 per bottle)

Italy, Tuscany – DOCG Chianti Classico Isole e Olena 2007

Fruit-forward, balanced and elegant.  Plenty of crisp and bright red fruit.  This is an outstanding Chianti Classico. (Extra-dry, red wine – $26.95 per bottle)

France, Bordeaux – AOC Lalande-de-Pomerol Château des Moines 2008

Right bank, Merlot-dominated, this wine is a balanced, attractively-priced value.  Concentrated fruit, soft tannins, exotic wood, spice and medium acid.  (Extra-dry, red wine – $22.95 per bottle)

Italy, Tuscany – IGT Toscana AIA Vecchia Lagone 2007

Almost super-Tuscan in its provenance and blend (Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc) this wine will age for the next 3 -4 years and deliver complexity and structure way above its weight. (Extra-dry, red wine – $21.95 per bottle)

Following the mediocre quality of the last release I take my hat off to the Vintages team for a quality effort in assembling this release…selecting the handful of best values was much tougher this weekend.

à bientôt…

Copyright© W. John Switzer 2003 – 2011.

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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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