LCBO Vintages release – June 23, 2012

As Canada Day approaches so summer follows.  If summer is just on our doorstep I ask what season have we experienced over the past fortnight?  If you and I are confused by the withering heat we have endured recently just think how the poor grape vines in Niagara, Lake Erie and Prince Edward County must feel.

With the summer weather sitting top of mind in southern Ontario it is fitting that Canada Day wines, refreshing summer sippers and cool cocktails are featured in this week’s Vintages release. My recommendations draw on three of the cool refresher wines offered.

This release is one of the weakest for the value shopper I have seen in a while.  It was tough to deliver recommendations that are true values but the five wines I list below all meet the tough value for money standards that the Winesights Reader subscribes to. In fact, the prices in this week’s selection are very good.  The LCBO really puts the pressure on agents and producers, at least for our benefit.

Australia, South Australia – Wynn’s Coonawarra Estate Chardonnay

Coonawarra is a cool-climate zone in the Limestone Coast region of South Australia.  It is known as the source of the best quality wines made from the Cabernet Sauvignon grape in Australia and its Rieslings are growing in reputation behind the shadow of the great Cabs.  Wynn’s is a very large maker with a strong brand position as maker of value-for-money wines across the full spectrum of its quality categories.  This wine is a classic cool climate Chardonnay with exceptional crisp citrus and green apple aromas, flavours and acid.  Aged in oak, the wood treatment is modest and the fruit expression is stunning.  This is a great wine at a very attractive price. Buy a case.

Extra dry, white wine – $18.95 per bottle

 New Zealand, Marlborough, South Island – Astrolabe Province Sauvignon Blanc 2011

Astrolabe is a relatively new producer in the Wairau zone of Marlborough on the south island of New Zealand.  The Province range is its entry level category with the wines being made from bought fruit grown throughout the Marlborough region.  This wine is a crisp, fresh, intense and pungent demonstration of Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc at its best. It has a richness and depth that stands out at this price, with plenty of gooseberry, grassy, herbal character to satisfy all the sensory demands of S-B lovers. This is a fine value at a price that directly compares with the local New Zealand retail price.

Dry, white wine – $21.95 per bottle (Refresher Course feature wine)

Italy, Südtirol-Alto Adige– DOC Südtirol-Alto Adige Tiefenbrunner Pinot Grigio 2011

The third white in this week’s selection is a beautiful rendition of a complex, intense Pinot Grigio.  Alto-Adige is the northernmost region of Italy, more German than Italian in its culture and gastronomy.  It is the home of crisp, aromatic white wines usually made from Riesling and Gewürztraminer grapes. This wine fits the regional mold with powerful citrus and tree-fruit aromas and flavours, accompanied by a crisp and lean acid backbone. The length is long with lingering green apple and grapefruit flavours. This wine will accompany well salads and white meat dishes, or can be served as an aperitif. Beautiful.

Extra dry, white wine – $17.95 per bottle (Refresher Course feature wine)

Spain, Rioja – DOCa Rioja Ramón Bilbao Reserva 2005

Ramon Bilbao is an old operation now part of a large Spanish beverage conglomerate.  The Reserva is a blend of Tempranillo (90%) with some Graciano and Mazuelo grapes, aged in oak for some 18 months. While it is from the 2005 vintage, this wine still shows bright and fresh flavours of black berry fruit. The fruit is accompanied by complex flavours of toast, chocolate and spice. The weight is medium and the texture has a velvet and supple feel. The wine shows delightful balance and understated character throughout the palate and finish. Very good value, this wine can develop for a further 2 -3 years.

Extra dry, red wine – $17.00 per bottle

Italy, Piedmont – DOCG Moscato d’Asti Michele Chiarlo Nivole 2010

Moscato d’Asti is a perfect wine for the heat and humidity we experienced this week.  The alcohol level is low (usually in the 5-6% range), the body is light and crisp, the flavours are fresh and clean and the bubbles are delightfully light. Made from the Moscato Bianco grape this wine shows the grapy character of the Muscat family, with some honey and melon in the background. Buy a few bottles.

Medium-sweet, frizzante wine – $16.95 per bottle (Refresher Course 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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