LCBO Vintages release – January 18, 2014

The main feature this release is wines from selected regions of Spain. Wines of British Columbia are offered in a small and disappointing sub-theme (disappointing except for one of the best traditional method sparkling wines made in Canada: Blue Mountain Brut – Extra dry, selling for $27.95 per bottle).

The Spanish selection is very good and two very fine wines make my list.

Ontario, Niagara – VQA Niagara Escarpment Rosewood Merlot 2011

Merlot is one of the varieties Rosewood is known for and this wine demonstrates why.  It is a balanced wine with grainy tannins, expressive fruit, gentle oak and bright acid.  The alcohol is modest at 13.5% and the body is light delivering a refined mouth feel. There is plenty of bright fruit and spice: ripe plum, black cherry and berry dominate. The finish is long and clean.

Extra dry, red wine – $22.00 per bottle

Germany, Mosel –Qualitätswein Mönchhof Robert Eymael Riesling 2011

This is a bright, little treasure, wine.  It is medium-sweet but the sugars are offset by zesty acid to deliver a wonderful texture on the palate.  It is aromatic with lime, honey and ripe apple on the nose and palate and the finish is long and crisp.  The alcohol registers at 8.5% to complete an overall sublimely-balanced package.

Medium sweet, white wine – $16.95 per bottle

Greece, Naoussa– PDO Naoussa Boutari Grande Reserve 2007

Xynomavro is the main grape in this wine from Macedonia, a grape Oz Clarke describes in his book, Grapes & Wines as acidic and dark-coloured.  This grape makes wines some compare with Barolo, that is, a wine that is tannic, acidic, profound and in need of a long period in the cellar. This wine can be enjoyed without a long ageing as it has already logged time in the bottle.  It has cherry, spice, wet loam and wood on the nose and palate and there is juicy acid, flaky tannins and modest body weight.  If you want a Barolo-like experience at a much lower price than you would pay for a Barolo, this is a wine worth trying.

Dry, red wine – $16.95 per bottle

Spain, Rioja – DOCa Rioja Hacienda Lopez de Haro Reserva 2005

This wine stands out as fine reserva at an exceptional price.  Despite its years it is a youthful wine with bright fruit and wood expression that does not dominate. Like the Rosewood this wine is lighter in body and has fine balance.  Aromas and flavours of cherry, plum, and spice are accompanied by juicy acid, sleek tannins and a long finish.  This is a fine wine that will be best enjoyed over the next three to five years.  Run, don’t walk for this one!

Extra dry, red wine – $17.95 per bottle

Spain, Priorat – DOCa Priorat Planets de Prior Pons 2009

Priorat has become a zone of great appeal among collectors due to the rock-star status of some of the winemakers who came to the region from other places in the late 1980’s.  This wine is understated when compared with some of the assertive wines the region has become known for – this is a good thing in my mind and seems to be a theme across all but one of the wines I selected from this release.  It has berry fruit, herbs and spice on the nose and palate.  The mouth feel is taut with medium-weight tannins and crisp acidity. This wine will develop further over the next 5-7 years.

Extra dry, red wine – $24.95 per bottle

à bientôt…

Copyright© W. John Switzer 2003 – 2014.

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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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