LCBO Vintages release – April 16, 2010

I am just returned from London where I was once again a judge on the Rhône panel at the Decanter World Wine Awards (DWWA).  The results will appear in the October issue of Decanter magazine so we will wait until that time to discuss the event.

At DWWA: Steven Spurrier and Mark Williamson (Willi of Willi's Wine Bar, Paris)

Suffice it to say this is the prestige event in the world of English language wine journalism with leading experts in each region participating as regional chairs: John Radford (Spain), Richard Mayson (Portugal), Stephen Brook (California), Ian d’Agata (regional Italy),  Michael Hill-Smith, MW (Australia), Andrew Jefford (Languedoc-Roussillon), John Livingstone-Learmonth (Rhône), Michael Schuster (Burgundy), James Lawther, MW (Bordeaux), Jim Budd (Loire), Tom Stevenson (Champagne and Alsace) and so on, all under the steady leadership of Steven Spurrier.

Team Canada, led by Tony Aspler, had a star line up of Zoltan Szabo and two MW’s from British Columbia: Barbara Phillip and Rhys Pender.  A very fine team with balanced BC/Ontario depth.

I’ll report more later this year, in the meantime all judges are bound to keep our secrets on the results.

This weekend the best-value highlights of the Vintages release have nothing to do with the release themes, wines of New Zealand and wines for Easter.  Instead I recommend some very fine wines that will do well as we approach the warm weather patio and barbecue season, hopefully over the next couple of weeks, and a winter wine that will be well worth the wait until later in the year.

There are some very fine wines on this week’s recommended list:

Ontario, Niagara – VQA Beamsville Bench Malivoire Gewürztraminer 2009

Gewürztraminer is one of the specialty grapes at Malivoire and this wine is a perfect demonstration of the success to be achieved by specialization.  There is a floral, perfumed character on nose and palate with intense lychee, honey and spice in a luscious, full-bodied package.  This wine shows Gewürz correctness with a long, clean finish. Serve with spicy Asian food.

Medium dry, white wine – $24.95 per bottle

California, Napa Valley – Grgich Hills Fumé Blanc 2009

This is another intensely flavoured wine, with some of grassiness of Sauvignon Blanc but it is full-bodied and dominated by juicy lime and grapefruit aromas and flavours delivered in a spicy, zesty package.  This is an exceptional food wine and will go well with grilled scallops or smoked turkey salad. It’s a bit pricey but as noted above, this is the challenge faced by California….

Extra dry, white wine – $29.95 per bottle

Argentina, Mendoza – Urraca Malbec 2008

This wine comes from the Argelo district of Mendoza, a zone known for structured, intense wines.  This wine is a case in point: it is concentrated, structured and has a long finish, not your fruit-forward, everyday Mendoza Malbec. It shows spicy, slightly oaked, plum and cherry flavours with balance acid and tannins. This is a wine that will match well with a medium-rare grilled rib steak.

Extra dry, red wine – $19.95 per bottle

France, Northern Rhône – AOC Crozes-Hermitage Domaine de La Ville Rouge Inspiration 2007

While tasting some 240 wines over the past four days, it was a delight tasting some exceptional value Crozes-Hermitage wines that sell for prices just a tad over those charged for AOC Côtes du Rhône. Here is an example of the type: a complex and intense wine with wet earth, sleek tannins, juicy acid, savoury notes, black pepper spice and stewed plum.  Quite a mouthful!  This wine is made in a traditional style so don’t look for a lot of oak, extracted fruit or sweet chocolate notes.  Buy some bottles for beef stew next winter.  This wine is from a very good vintage and will cellar for the next 3 -5 years.

Extra dry, red wine – $21.95 per bottle

Italy, Umbria – IGT Umbria Falesco Vitiano 2008

Long-time readers may remember this as the original run, don’t walk wine.  It’s been five years since we last saw this favourite and it is as tasty as ever – unfortunately $2.00 higher in price. A blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon Blanc and Sangiovese, this is a supple, juicy beauty.  It has red cherry, spice and ripe plum on the palate. This is a perfect wine to serve with pasta and tomato sauce.  It’s still a run, don’t walk wine!

Extra dry, red wine – $ 15.95 per bottle

That’s it for this week.

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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