LCBO Vintages release – June 9, 2012

Wines from Chile and the south of France are featured in this weekend’s Vintages release. The selection is a good one in the case of Chile and I have selected two of the feature wines for the Winesights Reader nod.

The highlight of this release is not necessarily the wines but rather the Vintages catalogue which you should pick up when you are in the store if you don’t already receive it by mail.  The hand of the retail merchandisers who call the shots at the LCBO these days is all over this classy magazine: informative content on grape varieties, food matches, regional profiles, etc; stunning photos; regional recipes, and… glowing wine reviews that tend to lean unduly on The reviews must be read with a big grain of salt but this aside, the Vintages team continues to push the bar with its editorial quality.

A stunning Chardonnay from South Africa and a handful of reds from Chile and France make the grade this week.  As always all the wines I commend are fine values.

South Africa, Elgin – WO Elgin Paul Cluver Chardonnay 2010

Paul Cluver is one of the leading makers in the Elgin district on the west coast of South Africa.  His Chardonnay is always elegant and the 2010 delivers on this promise.  This is a cool-climate Chardonnay and shows the classic citrus, green apple aromas and flavours associated with Chardonnay from cooler zones.  There is a modest amount of smoke and wood on the nose and palate; enough to lend complexity without interfering with the fruit expression. Well-structured, intense and complex, this is an exceptional value wine. The results from Decanter World Wine awards were released in late May and this wine was awarded a gold medal by the South Africa panel.

Extra dry, white wine – $21.95 per bottle

 Chile Elqui Valley – Mayu Reserva Carmenère 2009

Many find wines made with the Carmenère grape to be unpleasantly green.  This is a characteristic of the flavor profile of the grape: Merlot-like with a green pepper twist. This wine has some of the green pepper but the pepper is well-integrated with intense ripe stewed plum flavours, smoke, herbs, spice, wet earth and red cherry. This is a Carmenère to try if you have a bias against this grape: it will change your outlook for ever.

Extra dry, red wine – $17.95 per bottle (Chile feature wine)

Chile, Rapel Valley– Concha Y Toro Marques de Casa Concha Merlot 2009

Concha Y Toro is one the largest wine companies in the world.  Listed on the NYSE, the company was founded in the late 19th century and today reports annual revenues of over US$ 800 million.  The company makes wines from grapes grown in most regions of Chile, across the full spectrum of price ranges. The Marques de Casa Concha range is a mid-priced brand of wines made with the grape varieties Chile is best known for, including Merlot. This wine includes a portion of Cabernet Sauvignon which makes itself known with a cassis, mint character, accompanying the smooth, round plum we associate with Merlot.  This wine is full-bodied, ripe and complex with a fine fruit/acid/wood/tannin balance.  This wine will age nicely over the next 3 -5 years but can be enjoyed now.  Serve with a rack of veal roast.

Dry, red wine – $19.95 per bottle (Chile feature wine)

France, Southern Rhône – AOC Vacqueyras Montirius Le Clos 2007

At a France Trade Mission show in Toronto earlier this year this wine stood out as one of the highlights.  Montirius is a biodynamic family domaine in the small appellation of Vacqueyras and the reds from this producer have become very popular over the past few years.  Le Clos shows the classic Vacqueyras elements of bright red and black berry fruit, earth, garrigue, supple texture and a full body. Even though it is five years old I recommend you cellar this wine for another year or two so it will open up further. Serve with stews or grilled meats.

Extra dry, red wine – $28.95 per bottle

France, Roussillon – AOC Côtes du Roussillon Domaine Piquemal Tradition 2009

I have always avoided recommending any wines I import and I have successfully fulfilled this promise to the point I no longer operate my small produce agency (this is a story I will elaborate on in a future Winesights Reader posting…).  This wine was one of my staples when I ran my agency and it was always well received by my customers as a great value – even when I sold it at $18.95 per bottle.  The new agent did some kind of deal with Marie-Pierre Piquemal to get a price this low so I recommend you buy a few bottles and enjoy them with friends over barbecued burgers this summer.  A blend of Syrah, Grenache and Carignan, this wine has a  palate that is ripe and plummy with Mediterranean herbs and bright, juicy acid. This is not a complex or demanding wine…just a pleasing, bright red. Note the agency lists this wine at $19.95 per bottle so this price would appear to be one-time only LCBO special.

Extra dry, red wine – $15.95 per bottle (South of France 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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