It’s the first week of July and everyone should know this is the first week of the Tour de France, the famed 21-day bicycle road race which travels through the diverse countryside of France. This is one of the best ways to experience France – from your armchair in front of the television with a glass of vin de table in one hand and your channel remote in the other.
Not one to miss a marketing theme opportunity, the LCBO has adopted a Tour de France theme in this week’s Vintages release. This is a cute and well-executed theme with wines chosen from selected regions which match with different stages of this year’s Tour route.
The sub-theme in the release features wines from a number of makers who will participate in this year’s International Cool-Climate Chardonnay Celebration.
This release was disappointing, perhaps in the context of my General List tasting. I found only four wines I can recommend for value. A couple of theme wines make my list.
British Columbia, Okanagan Valley – Blue Mountain Chardonnay 2010
Blue Mountain is a well-established family operation known for well-structured wines that are considered by many to be the best in B.C. This wine is a case in that point: it is bright and crisp with lots of green fruit acid. It shows apple, spice, peach, lemon and pear on the nose and palate and has a firm backbone of flinty minerals on the mid-palate. For lovers of Burgundy-style Chardonnay this wine has a slightly reductive nose that will please. The finish is very long. A bit pricy on the surface, but tasting will reveal this wine to be an exceptional value.
Extra dry, white wine – $23.95 per bottle (Cool Chardonnay feature wine)
Italy, Sardinia – DOCG Vermentino de Gallura Superiore Sella & Mosca 2011
Vermentino is a white grape, widely planted the length of Italy, but which finds its best expression in Sardinia. It is an aromatic variety with lemon and nut aromas and flavours. It makes wines that show crisp acid and a fairly firm structure. This wine shows the character of Vermentino with some added peach, herbal and apple complexity on both nose and palate. It has a long finish and is an absolute delight for summer sipping or as a match with a shrimp salad. Drink young.
Dry, white wine – $15.95 per bottle
France, Southern Rhône– AOC Gigondas Guigal 2009
This is a blend of Grenache, Mourvèdre and Shiraz, assembled to make a firmly-textured, expressive wine that will age and improve with cellaring for the next 3 -5 years. It has bright red and black berry fruit, the distinctive herb and garrigue aromas and flavours of the southern Rhône, along with pepper spice and a modest amount of oak. This is a complex wine with solid structure – bright acidity and firm tannins – and a long finish. Buy some bottles and lay down. Serve with rack of lamb or beef stew.
Extra dry, red wine – $29.95 per bottle (Tour de France feature wine)
Portugal, Dão – DOC Dão Alvaro Castro Red 2008
Like the Portuguese red I reviewed from the General List, above, this wine is a bright, fruit-forward wine with plenty of juicy acid to please the palate of any red wine lover. Befitting its higher price this wine is more complex, balanced and structured than its GL sibling. It has concentrated blueberry and blackberry aromas and flavours, along with herbs, savoury notes and chocolate on the mid palate. This is a very fine wine with a long juicy finish. Serve with grilled meats.
Extra dry, red wine – $16.95 per bottle
Copyright© W. John Switzer 2003 – 2013.