LCBO Vintages release – March 17, 2012

Featured in this weekend’s release is a cross-section of wines from Spain, organized by grape variety and matched with fitting foods from Spain. For me the quality of the photography in the Vintages catalogue outstrips the quality and value of the wines: if you can’t be good…look good. This said, one very fine feature wine makes the list this week.

The release also features some icons, at iconic prices.  If you are running low on Opus One, Château de Beaucastel, Château Montalena Chardonnay or Concha y Toro Don Melchor Cabernet Sauvignon, this is the time to replenish your supplies.

Despite the number of icons, in this release, the overall depth of quality was fairly low. The wines I do recommend are the best values – and they would be standouts even in a release loaded with values.

Ontario, Niagara – VQA Twenty Mile Bench Flat Rock The Rusty Shed Chardonnay 2010

This is the kind of wine I wish we saw from Niagara on a more consistent basis: concentrated and complex, at an accessible price.  Ontario wines are on the uptick but still too many deliver varietal correctness without depth of flavor.  If I have a complaint about this wine it would be the oak treatment is a bit excessive for my palate.  The oak is matched with intense, ripe fruit character: lemon, mango, pineapple and secondary elements of vanilla, spice and toast.  The body is firm and the overall structure is attractive.  The finish is long. Well done!

Extra dry, white wine – $24.95 per bottle

Austria, Kamptal – DAC Kamptal Bründlmayer Kamptaler Terrassen Grüner Veltliner 2010

This wine will be a perfect match for your next Wienerschnitzel dinner: plenty of crisp acid, ripe, spicy fruit and a taut mouth feel that will balance nicely with the rich texture of the white meat. There is lemon, green apple, and white pepper spice on the nose and palate. The palate has a distinct mineral backbone throughout and the finish is medium-long.  Elegant and refined, this wine is a beauty.

Extra dry, white wine – $19.95 per bottle

 South Africa, Western Cape  – WO Western Cape Graham Beck Méthode Cap Classique Brut Sparkling Wine

The Graham Beck Brut is one of the old reliables in my book.  It consistently delivers bright citrus fruit, chalky minerals, creamy mousse, crisp acid and a long finish…all for under $20.00 per bottle.  It doesn’t have much yeast/brioche in the nose but for this price you can’t expect a long period on the yeast (this wine typically sits in the cellar for 15 – 18 months before disgorgement). Buy a case….it will go fast.

Extra dry, sparkling wine – $18.95 per bottle

France, Southern Rhône – AOC Vacqueyras Jean-Marie Arnoux Vacqueyras 2009

This is very-attractively priced wine for the maker and the appellation.  It is an intense, complex wine with bright, ripe fruit, herbs and black pepper on the nose and palate.  It has very good structure with appealing acid and firm tannins complementing the concentrated black berry and stewed plum fruit.  This is a full-bodied wine with ageing potential for the next 5 – 7 years.  If you want to replenish your cellar with a perfect winter-food match wine then pick up several bottles of this Vacqueyras.

Extra dry, red wine – $21.95 per bottle

Spain, Rioja – DOCa Rioja Baron de Ley Gran Reserva 2001

Yes, this wine is from the 2011 vintage.  Very old-style Rioja, this: lots of rustic, smoky, old wood. Lots of spicy, red cherry fruit.  Lots of signs of a mature wine: earthy, cedar and tea leaf notes.  There is plenty of juicy acid and the body is medium in weight.  This is an all-rounder that delivers exceptional quality, structure, harmony and depth for the price.  Buy a few bottles for the big dinners coming up on your social calendar.

Extra dry, red wine – $29.95 per bottle (Spain feature wine)

à bientôt…

Copyright© W. John Switzer 2003 – 2012.


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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