LCBO Vintages release – March 19, 2011

The feature of this weekend’s LCBO Vintages release is wines from Spain and Portugal.  This should be a veritable feast of high-quality value wines and it delivers to a limited extent.  I found two feature wines that I think will appeal to value hunters but this is no where near the number of values I expected.

At the other end of the spectrum there are a number of icons in this week’s sub-feature: California Icons.  Prices in this group are truly iconic, starting at a modest $44.95 for a Beringer Chardonnay and quickly rising to $339.95 for a 750ml bottle of Opus One 2007.  Some fine collectibles are found in this group but they don’t register on my value scale.

So, the Vintages team blew its budget on expensive Californians at the expense of high value, modestly -priced Iberian wines…my assessment.

For the first time in a while my selections are from five countries, with no runners’-up.  Here are the top five, by a fairly wide margin over number six…all sound values.

Germany, Mosel – QmP Riesling Kabinett Wehlener Sonnenuhr Studert-Prüm 2009

Made from grapes grown on a fabled vineyard on a west-facing, steep slope of the Mosel River this wine is exceptional and it is offered at an exceptionally good-value price. It shows lime, honey, green apple and spice on the nose.  The palate is off-dry with intense grapefruit, honey and  minerals.  The acidity is high so the effect is one of balance and sound structure.  This is a must-buy perfect food wine which will match well with a roasted rack of pork.

Medium-dry, white wine – $18.95 per bottle

Portugal, Vinho Verde – DOC Vinho Verde Varanda do Conde Alvarinho/Trajadura 2009

Here we have another exceptional good value food-friendly wine. There is a light effervescence on the palate – typical of Vinho Verde – which accentuates this as an appealing and approachable light-bodied beauty.  It has plenty of citrus, honey and green grass on the nose and palate.  The body is juicy and there is a stony backbone to add structure and some complexity.  Great value! Stock up for summer lunches. Serve with avocado salad.

Extra dry, white wine – $13.95 per bottle (Feature wine)

France, Southern Rhône– AOC Tavel Prieuré de Montézargues Rosé 2009

Tavel is the traditional home of south of France rosé and here we have a structured wine that demonstrates where rosé is going: more structure, colour and complexity than the pale, watery, light-weights of the past. This is another wine to buy in bulk for summer sipping and salads.  It displays ripe red fruit, apple, spice, herbs, and juicy acid.  It is well-made by Alain Dugas  – son of the former winemaker at Château La Nerthe in Châteauneuf-du-Pâpe – from low-yield Grenache, Cinsault and Clairette.

Extra dry, rosé wine- $19.95 per bottle

Chile, Rapel Valley – Altaïr Sideral 2005

Sideral is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Carmenère – not so odd when you consider that Carmenère was once considered to be a grape related to Merlot.  This is a concentrated and well-structured wine that has very good ageing potential.  It is complex on the nose with ample amounts of stewed plum, spice, blackcurrant, and herbs. The body is full with excellent structure:  intense blackcurrant, smoke, spice, light vanilla and wet black earth. Juicy acid, dusty tannins and a longish finish make for a balanced wine.  Cellar for the next 4 – 6 years and serve with roasted leg of lamb.

Dry, red wine – $24.95 per bottle

Spain, Bierzo – DC Bierzo Peique Tinto Mencia 2009

Bierzo is a small region is the north west of Spain known for red wines made with the Mencia grape.  Mencia makes wines that are aromatic, fruity and feature firm tannins – some compare Mencia with the character of Cabernet Franc.  The Peique Mencia is made from old vines Mencia and was lees-aged with only limited oak-ageing.  The result is a complex and full-bodied wine for the price with a youthful, fruit-forward, juicy personality. This wine will match well with grilled meats – great for the upcoming barbecue season.

Extra dry, red wine – $13.95 per bottle (Feature wine)

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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