LCBO Vintages release – June 25, 2011

Canada Day approaches and this weekend Vintages celebrates the upcoming event with a feature on Argentinean wines for barbecue season.  The usual Malbec suspects are included in the feature, along with some fine Torrontes whites and reds made with Tempranillo and Cabernet Sauvignon. I think Argentina is making some good wines for very low prices but they don’t provide a great deal of interest after the initial fruit explosion.

There are two additional sub-features this weekend: Clean and Crisp whites and a selection of Canadian wines.

This release is a very good one, the first in a while.  There are many great values in all styles and price ranges.  It was a tough choice to select the top five, so there are some runners’-up this week. There were many feature wines to choose from and a couple made my recommended best value list.

Ontario, Niagara – VQA Niagara Peninsula Jackson-Triggs Entourage Silver Series Méthode Classique 2006

With the cool climate we enjoy in Niagara and the strength of our Chardonnay and Pinot Noir presence it is a natural that we would make fine sparkling wine.  This bottle is an example of this potential. This wine was aged in bottle for three years before disgorgement so it shows good biscuit, yeast character on the nose.  Aromas of citrus fruit promise more citrus on the palate and it is delivered along with a stony mineral backbone. Prickly mousse, lean acid and a long, dry finish make this wine an excellent value.  Well done!

Extra dry, sparkling wine – $22.95 per bottle (Canada Day feature wine)

France Provence, – AOC Bandol La Bastide Blanche Rosé 2010

I recommended a Tavel Rosé in the last edition of WVN.  Now we have a Mourvèdre-based Rosé from the neighbouring south of France region, Provence.  This wine is a pale salmon in colour, typical of Provençal Rosé.  It has better body and firmness than the colour might suggest – this is the grape variety showing its personality. Very dry on the palate with crisp acidity this wine is dominated by strawberry and herbal notes.  It has a long, clean finish.  Serve with salade niçoise.

Extra dry, rosé wine – $21.95 per bottle

Spain, Galicia – DO Rias Baixas Bodegas Martin Códax Salterio Albariño 2010

Here we have a perfect wine for summer sipping: a beautifully aromatic nose of stone fruit and white flowers is followed by a reasonably intense, fleshy, mid-weight palate.  Ripe peach, citrus, stony minerals, zesty acid and a long finish.  Very good wine for your patio entertaining – serve on its own or with grilled shrimp.

Dry, white wine – $17.95 per bottle (Clean and Crisp feature wine)

Australia, South Australia – Wynn’s Coonawarra Estate Shiraz 2008

Readers now know I shy away from South Australia Shiraz – too fat and flabby, verging on sweet, more chocolate than black pepper, more wood than savoury, etc., etc. Well then, let’s call this wine the anti-S.A. Shiraz.  It has very fine fruit expression, nice tannins, very good balance, judicious use of wood, sound structure, lots of spice and earth, minerals and a long, clean finish.  In a blind tasting it would be hard to pinpoint this wine as from South Australia.  A very good value which will age nicely for the next 3 – 5 years.

Extra dry, red wine – $19.95 per bottle

France, Languedoc – AOC Faugères Château Saint-Roch de Laurens 2007

Faugères is one of the many under-recognized appellations in the Midi region of France.  It is one of the most consistent regions in this diverse area, known for flavourful and robust blends made from Syrah, Grenache and Carignan (with smatterings of Cinsault  and Mourvèdre, depending on the producer. This wine is a perfect comfort-food accompaniment at a very good price, so you should stock up now for dinners on cold mid-winter evenings.  It has intense flavours, good concentration and yet it retains its Old World classiness – oodles of fruit, a bit of wood and plenty of herbal, savoury earthiness.  Run, don’t walk for this wine!

Dry, red wine – $18.95 per bottle

 There are two fine wines that didn’t quite make the A-list grade this week:

France, Bordeaux – AOC Graves Château Rahoul 2005

This is a very fine value from the excellent 2005 vintage: dried fruit, cherry, leather, juicy acid, grainy tannins and a long finish. Serve with a rib steak. Buy a case of this wine and forget about the 2010 Bordeaux Futures (see below).

Extra dry, red wine – $29.95 per bottle

Italy, Friuli –  DOC Colli Orientale del Friuli Torre Rosazza Pinot Grigio 2009

This is another example of the character and depth possible with Pinot Grigio when grown at low yields in a cool-climate zone.  There is plenty of intense green apple, minerals and juicy acid, which makes this wine a beautiful accompaniment for soft creamy cheeses such as brie and camembert.

Extra dry, white wine – $19.95 per bottle

 And finally, the Collector’s Item for this release:

Italy, Tuscany – IGT Alta Valle della Greve Poggio Scalette Il Carbonaione 2007

This is a relatively unknown icon from a very small IGT zone in the heart of Chianti Classico country. It is made with 100% Sangiovese  and was matured for 15 months in a mix of new and old French oak barriques.  This is a concentrated wine with bright red cherry and blackberry fruit, smoke, grainy tannins and plenty of acid.  It is finely balanced and has an elegant mouth feel.  This wine will improve in your cellar over the next 7 – 10 years.

Extra dry, red wine – $58.95 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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