LCBO Vintages release – July 9, 2011

This weekend’s Vintages release features 90+ wines along with All-Occasion Sparklers.  The sparklers are interesting, albeit more pricy than the quality warrants (except a Roederer Estate Brut from California – unfortunately not the Reserve I wrote about in the last Newsletter, but a wine I recommend at $27.95 per bottle).

As for the 90+’ers, I generally ignore scores as the hype surrounding high-scoring wines at the front line retail shelf is a racket and the 100 point scale, like so many rating systems, seems to be prone to grade inflation. The critic is as culpable as any in this game that feeds a frenzy for wines which all taste the same and which display limited local individuality.  On this point it is interesting that all but three of the 90+ wines are scored by Wine Spectator or the Wine Advocate (Robert Parker and team). Expect big, oaky reds…and four whites of variable credentials.

Notwithstanding this rant about the sins of scores, several of my selections are from the 90+ feature.  Call this very good selection by the Vintages team…

There are some value wines elsewhere in the release and while they are somewhat pricey they are good values.

There is a dominant red wine character to this week’s selections, with a strong French/Rhône sub-theme.

France, Northern Rhône – AOC Crozes-Hermitage Blanc Ferraton Père et Fils La Matinière 2009

Monsieur Rhône, John Livingstone-Learmonth, writes this month in Decanter magazine of the wonderful treats to be found in the white wines of the Rhône valley – difficult sale they may be.  Here we have a well-priced example of the case for treats he makes. This wine is dominated by Marsanne – a grape which makes soft, nutty and age able wines – and shows stone fruit and citrus elements on a flinty mineral backbone. The nose is clean but a bit retiring so pour before serving to allow the wine to open up  for your guests.  The finish is clean and long.  Serve with grilled pork chops or a shrimp omelette.

Extra dry, white wine – $19.95 per bottle

France, Burgundy – AOC Morgon Côte du Py Dominque Piron Les Pierres 2009

Morgon is considered to be one of the serious crus in the Beaujolais-Villages classification.  It is unusually tannic, compared to the lighter wines of the region and it has an affinity for cellaring. The Côte de Py is the source of the best incarnations of Morgon – elevated with volcanic soil, the wines from this climat are distinct and prized.  This wine has fine structure, rich berry and cherry character, spice, firm tannins and tertiary elements of chocolate and smoked meat.  The finish is long.  Cellar for the next 4 -5 years.

Dry, red wine – $22.95 per bottle

South Africa, – WO Cape Agulhas Lomond Syrah 2008

This Syrah is concentrated, and full-bodied with expressive fruit, spice, smoke and earth notes. Despite the full mouth feel, this is a pretty wine that has a complex character not unlike a northern Rhône cru. Nicely-priced, this would be a great wine to do a comparative Syrah  tasting with the Saint-Joseph, next.  Serve the two wines side-by-side with a root vegetable-laden beef stew.

Extra dry, red wine – $19.95 per bottle (90+ feature wine)

France, Northern Rhône  – AOC Saint Joseph Domaine Vincent Paris 2009

Vincent Paris a well-regarded young winemaker in Cornas who also has a small parcel of old vines in Saint Joseph, the source of this very fine wine.  This is a fruit-forward, supple delight: plenty of cherry, blueberry, black pepper and savoury Syrah elements in a concentrated, medium-bodied package. If you are an Old World Syrah-phile this is a wine you must buy. Pricy for a Saint Joseph, this is still very good value.

Extra dry, red wine – $28.95 per bottle

USA, Oregon – Cooper Mountain Reserve Pinot Noir 2008

Cooper Mountain winery is a long-established Pinot Noir pioneer in the northern Willamette Valley, known for its terroir-driven wines.  This Pinot Noir is modern in style with a fruit-forward nose and palate – cherry, ripe raspberry – made complex with smoke, forest floor and spice.  The palate is juicy, the tannins are grainy and the finish is long.  This is an understated, elegant wine that will go well with fatty fishes, such as salmon or rainbow trout.  Enjoy over the next 5 years.

Dry, red wine – $29.95 per bottle (90+ feature wine)

One runner up this week deserves comment:

France, Southern Rhône – AOC Gigondas Domaine des Bosquets 2007

This wine would have made the top five, except for its lofty price.  The 2007 vintages was exceptional in the southern Rhône and this wine is an embodiment of the things that make 2007 what it has become.  This is a Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre blend with a rustic, big character – ripe blackberry, blueberry, herbes de Provence, spice, and wet earth. The tannins are assertive and need time to become more rounded. Cellar for the next 3 -5 years to allow it to round out to a lush, southern Rhône classic.  Serve with cassoulet.

Dry, red wine – $31.95 per bottle (90+ feature wine)

 The Collector’s Item for this release is a very fine value:

Ontario, Niagara – VQA Beamsville Bench Hidden Bench Terroir Caché 2008  

The 2008 vintage was not a solid one with a long, cool spring and a wet summer.  The vintage was late as a result with late-ripening grapes such as Cabernet Sauvignon helped by a long, mild fall.  This said those vineyards that followed careful practices for canopy management and yield produced very fine reds such as this.  Terroir Caché 2008 is a concentrated red with still-firm tannins, excellent fruit expression and juicy acid.  I suggest another 2 years in the bottle before serving with a rack of lamb.

Extra dry, red wine – $35.20 per bottle

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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