Well, it appears summer is now here to stay.
As I write this newsletter the humidex is hovering in the 40° zone and the garden is lush and green. This is the season where we shift our menus to lighter fare and when our wine lists tend to lighter, more zesty food-friendly wines.
It’s somewhat odd, then, that the LCBO decided, when it assembled its release calendar, to opt for a wines of Veneto feature in early June – proceeding to select four Amarones, two Valpolicella Ripassos, four other big reds and three very average, insipid whites for the feature…go figure. If they needed to do a feature on northern Italy why didn’t they branch out and feature the brilliant and little-known delicate whites and reds from the Friuli region just north-east of Veneto?
Well, this is the story of the full release this weekend. Generally it’s made up of some very average wines, wines that don’t seem to reflect the seasonal shift. I hope readers stocked up the wines I commended for summer patio brunches and barbecues over the past several weeks: you won’t find enough this release to meet your needs. I did find a few summer tipplers but they are in the minority on this week’s value list.
As noted earlier this is not a stellar release – I guess that’s okay, we all have bad days and this release once again suggests to me we have too many Vintages releases. This isn’t to say there isn’t plenty of great value wine out there: the LCBO just doesn’t buy enough of it to sustain high quality releases some 24+ times a year. In any case, my recommendations are worth investigating….
Germany, Mosel – QmP Ürziger Würzgarten Dr. Hermann Riesling Kabinett 2008
We have seen a fairly good run of great value Mosel Rieslings over the past 6 months and this is very good news. Even the generally dry Kabinett wines show variable levels of sweetness but in all cases these are sublime wines that deliver food-friendly acid, plenty of citrus and wonderful aromatics. This wine has a solid mineral backbone, intense aromas and palate, a slight spritz on the attack and a bit of residual sugar which slightly softens the crisp acidity. The finish is long. This is a beautiful wine for grilled chicken breast or grilled halloumi cheese.
Medium dry, white wine – $16.95 per bottle
France, Southern Rhône – AOC Tavel Perrin & Fils Rosé 2010
For many, Tavel is the reference for Rosé and this wine will serve as a very fine case in point, albeit with the unfortunate Tavel price premium. This is an intense, reasonably complex red berry fruit-forward wine: what I call a serious Rosé. By this I mean the assertive fruit is complemented with a medium body, bright acid and light tannins which deliver structure that is a fie match with more demanding foods such as baked salmon. Very fine.
Extra dry, rosé wine – $19.95 per bottle
Ontario, Niagara – VQA Niagara Peninsula Alvento Elige 2007
Here we have a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot with a small amount of Cabernet Franc. This wine demonstrates the continuing evolution of Ontario reds…when made by an experienced Old World winemaker (in this case, Bruno Moos, formerly of Tuscany). This is an elegant wine which shows exceptional balance and complexity with very good ageing potential. If you love Bordeaux reds this wine is one you should try. It’s an outstanding value. Serve with roasted red meats. Keep for the next 5 – 7 years.
Extra dry, red wine – $19.95 per bottle
Chile, Maipo Valley – AOC Emiliana Winemaker’s Selection Cabernet Sauvignon 2007
I haven’t recommended many Chilean wines lately but this one stands out for both quality and value. There is concentrated red cherry fruit, complex tea and mint notes with chocolate and modest oak. The wine has great structure and very fine ageing potential, for less than $20.00! Don’t confuse this wine with the acceptable value Emiliana Novas Limited Selection Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot blend offered also in this release – not the same quality. Put down in your cellar for the next 3 – 4 years.
Extra dry, red wine – $18.95 per bottle
Italy, Tuscany – DOCG Chianti Classico Riserva Castello di Gabbiano 2007
This wine is made by a subsidiary of the Beringer Blass empire in an approachable, modern style that will be a hit with patio guests when you barbecue some rib steaks over the next few weeks–. Very round and ripe on nose and palate, this will appeal to everyone, especially if they like wood, chocolate, berry fruit and juicy acid. Not very demanding, just tasty and fun, at a very good price for a DOCG Chianti Classico Riserva. Excellent quality for the price!
Extra dry, red wine – $22.95 per bottle
Copyright© W. John Switzer 2003 – 2011.