LCBO Vintages release – March 31, 2012

Wines for Easter celebrations are featured this weekend in the Vintages section of your local LCBO store. This means that wines for different types of meals are on offer: wines for Sunday brunch, wines for dinner feasts, wines for giving and wines for relaxed, casual meals.  Ah, marketing: you can sell anything if you make it an occasion!

As you would expect, this weekend’s feature wines run the gamut of style, prices and value. Signs of spring abound this release: crisp whites, some rosés and lighter reds.  More to come…just like warmer weather.

There are some good values this release and I list them below.

Ontario, Niagara – VQA Beamsville Bench Cave Spring Estate Bottled Gewürztraminer 2010

I consider Cave Spring to be one of the best and most consistent makers of white wines in Canada, best exemplified by the classic CSV Riesling.  This Gewürz continues the tradition of correct whites from this maker with its lychee, citrus, spicy, slightly off-dry personality. The mouth feel is round and the acidity is bright but well-balanced with the weight and intensity of the fruit.  Great length, great price.  Serve with spicy fusion foods.

Medium dry, white wine – $17.95 per bottle

 Germany, Mosel – QmP Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Spätlese Studert-Prüm 2007

Speaking of great prices here we have a wine from a storied Mosel einzellagan (individual site), the Sonnenuhr, named for the ancient sundial which sits mid-way up the precipitously steep wall of this property near the Mosel valley village of Wehlen. This wine displays the complexity and balance of a maturing Mosel Riesling.  The lime fruit is accompanied by honey and melon with evolving earthy notes and flinty minerality. There is some residual sugar reflecting the Spätlese ripeness level but the assertive acid offsets the sweetness to deliver a fine balance. Serve with roast turkey or a crown of pork roast.

Medium, white wine – $17.95 per bottle (Easter dinner wine)

France, Midi – AOC Côtes du Roussillon-Villages Hecht & Bannier 2008

The ultimate wines to serve with comfort foods are the reds from the Roussillon.  This wine is a perfect candidate to be brought out when cold November winds start to blow later this year. This wine is Grenache-dominated blend with Syrah, Carignan and Mourvèdre selected from parcels throughout the Roussillon zone located near the border with Spain. The aromas and flavor are intense with ripe and spicy black fruit character accompanied by the herbal, garrigue notes of the region. The mouth feel is ripe, round and plush and the sleek tannins add structure.  Serve with braised ribs of beef with onion and root vegetables.

Extra dry, red wine – $22.95 per bottle

Italy, Puglia – DOP Salice Salentino Rosso Riserva Taurino 2008

The growing popularity of the wines of southern Italy continues to gain momentum.  This momentum is fed by the character of the indigenous varieties of the region such as Negroamaro and Malvasia Nera, the grapes blended to make DOP Salice Salentino. This wine is made by one of the notable producers in the denomenazione and is a perfect wine to buy in anticipation of summer barbecues. It punches well above its weight in complexity and structure with plenty of ripe, dark fruit, spice, smoked meats and leather. The tannins are firm and chalky, just waiting for some chewy red meat.

Extra dry, red wine – $14.95 per bottle

Ontario, Niagara – VQA Beamsville Bench Cave Spring Cellars CSV Blanc de Blancs Méthode Traditionelle Brut 2004

With this release we have a WVN first: two wines from the same producer get the WVN nod in the same issue.  The CSV Blanc de Blancs is a testament to the potential of Niagara region as a source of fine traditional method sparkling wines.  The CSV Brut was made to celebrate 25 years of winemaking at Cave Spring Cellars and unfortunately is available in limited supply at only a handful of Vintages locations. This wine was aged on the lees for 5 years in bottle and shows exceptional aromas and flavours of brioche.  The palate is bone dry with creamy mousse, tart citrus fruit and a long, crisp finish. This wine will stand up to any grower Champagne and do so at a very appealing price. Check lcbo.com for locations and get there early on Saturday morning.  The CSV Blanc de Blancs will move quickly.

Extra dry, sparkling wine – $39.95 per bottle

We have a good value Collector’s Item this weekend from Bordeaux.

France, Bordeaux – AOC Pessac-Léognan Château Larrivet Haut-Brion 2004

Don’t confuse this wine made at a domaine situated near the village of Léognan with the Premier Grand Cru Château Haut-Brion, the famed property located some 10 km further north, near the village of Pessac. Ch. Larrivet Haut-Brion is an old property under renewal at the hands of the Gerveson family, best known as the makers of the expensive jams with the calico lids, the Bonne Maman line. This wine is an example of the progress underway at this property.  It is now hitting its stride and showing more harmony and less rusticity than it did in its early years.  It has a complex nose and palate with forest floor, savoury elements, spice box and red cherry and plum fruit. The tannins are sleek and the acid is bright and juicy.  The finish is long.  This wine is an excellent value showing the character of its region, from a property that flies under the radar. Cellar for the next 4 – 6 years.

Dry, red wine – $48.95 per bottle

à bientôt…

Copyright© W. John Switzer 2003 – 2012.

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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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