LCBO Vintages release – March 5, 2011

Wines of Chile and Argentina are featured in this weekend’s Vintages release. Along with the Vintages feature, the LCBO inserted a Chile/Argentina flyer in newspapers on Saturday. With these promotions this was a big weekend at LCBO stores reflecting the continuing growth in quality and popularity of the wines from these countries – both known for producing wines of great value, using varietals that are easy to enjoy.

A couple of the feature wines made my value list but this week the value list is dominated by some exceptional food-friendly whites from Ontario, France, Australia and New Zealand.

There is also a small feature of wines from the other (LCBO terminology) northern Italy:  Trentino, Alto Adige, Liguria, Friuli.

Unfortunately the wines from the northern Italy feature don’t make the grade:  bad selection by the Vintages team, in my mind.  The wines from these regions can be exceptional with structure: acid, body and expressive fruit – all great with light fare.  Not this time.

I should apologize for the preponderance of whites…from the Loire… made with Sauvignon Blanc… but these wines are all different and are each very fine values.  Buy a sampler of a few of these wines and do a comparison…it will be instructive.

The lean and juicy wines from the cool-climate Loire Valley show their true strength when it comes to matching with fine food.

Ontario, Niagara – VQA Twenty Mile Bench Twenty Twenty-Seven Cellars Featherstone Vineyard Riesling 2009

This wine is made by Kevin Panagapka, a young graduate of Niagara College, who uses grapes and winemaking facilities at Featherstone to make this exceptional Riesling. It has lime, green apple and spice on the nose.  The palate is crisp, juicy and full of citrus fruit, melon and minerals.  The body is light, making this an elegant wine with potential for further development over the next 5 or 6 years.  Serve with breaded veal cutlet.

Dry, red wine – $24.95 per bottle

Argentina, Salta – Calchaqui Valley Colomé Amalaya 2008

This is a blend of Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Tannat (!).  While it might seem an odd blend, it works.  Red and dried fruits dominate with some spice and a very smooth mouth feel combining to make this wine an easy-drinker – characteristics that have made Argentinean Malbec so popular.  Don’t let this description fool you, however: there is excellent structure – acid and tannins, both – to ensure this wine will match with roasted meats.

Extra dry, red wine – $18.95 per bottle (Feature wine)

New Zealand, South Island, Marlborough – Astrolabe Voyage Sauvignon Blanc 2009

Astrolabe is a well-regarded maker, owned by Simon Waghorn, who makes wine for his own brand as well as for a number of other Marlborough wineries.  He uses fruit from several Marlborough sub-regions to make wines considered to have cult status in New Zealand.  This wine is intense on the nose and palate with lime, grass, tropical fruit, gooseberry and tinned asparagus dominating.  This is a very dry, medium-bodied wine with zesty acid and a long, clean finish. Serve with spicy Asian dishes.

Extra dry, white wine- $21.95 per bottle

France, Loire – AOC Sancerre Bernard Reverdy et Fils 2009

Minerals, grapefruit, lime, spice, honey, green apple, intense flavour, crisp acid, minerals, long finish.  This is an elegant wine that will be a perfect accompaniment to summer lunchtime salads on the deck. This is a better wine and a better value than the Vintages essentials Loire Sauvignon Blanc, at a very good price.

Extra dry, white wine – $22.95 per bottle

France, Loire – AOC Menetou-Salon Blanc 2009

Another juicy, high acid wine for your consideration, this is a stunning example of Loire Sauvignon Blanc – minerals, high acidity, citrus and grassy character, honey and exceptional balance.  The perfect food wine, this is one to try…for lovers of pungent New World Sauvignon Blanc this wine will broaden your horizons with its comparative understatement.  Serve with grilled scallops.

Extra dry, white wine – $18.95 per bottle

Once again I suggest some wines that almost match the top 5 for quality and value:

Australia, South Australia– Penfold’s Thomas Hyland Chardonnay  2009

This is a creamy, oak-rich Chardonnay which shows fine balance with crisp acid and ripe apple, pineapple and lime aromas and flavours.  Very lean – not your typical fat Aussie Chard! (Extra dry, white wine – $19.95)

Chile, Limari Valley – Concha Y Toro Maycas Limari Reserva Syrah 2009

This is an intense cool-climate Syrah showing juicy black fruit, spices, and wood that will have less effect with a couple of years in the cellar.  This is an outstanding value at $14.95 per bottle. (Feature wine)

France, Bordeaux– AOC  Pessac-Léognan Château Couchery Blanc 2008

Sauvignon Blanc dominates this blend (10% Semillon) and it delivers a vegetal character on the nose and palate with grass, citrus fruit, mint, minerals and plenty of crisp acidity. Excellent body and structure: serve with grilled chicken breast or a tuna steak. (Extra dry white wine -$22.95)

France, Loire – AOC Bourgueil Domaine Matabrune 2009

Bourgueil wines are made with Cabernet Franc and this wine shows exceptional fruit and herbal complexity on both nose and palate. Great acid and a very long finish – serve with grilled veal chops. (Extra dry, red wine $14.95 per bottle)

Ontario, Niagara – VQA Niagara Peninsula Strewn Terroir Merlot 2006

This is a dark fruity wine with very rich oak yielding a balanced, juicy wine.  Slight barnyard, savoury aromas add to the interest and complexity. (Extra dry, red wine – $19.95 per bottle)

The next Vintages release will be on the shelves on Saturday March 19. Wines of Spain, Portugal and California (icons) will be featured at that time.

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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