LCBO Vintages release – March 1, 2014

The first of three Vintages releases for the month of March hits the shelves at LCBO stores this weekend.  Wines from Canada, the USA, France and Australia made with the Cabernet Sauvignon grape are featured. The selection is interesting but none of the wines are a value so we have passed on the feature – this is a trend.

Two wines from central Italy get the nod this weekend along with one wine each from South Africa, Oregon and the Beaujolais zone of Burgundy. The wines selected this week are lighter than what one would seek in the blistering cold outside.  Call me an optimist…

South Africa, Stellenbosch – WO Stellenbosch Rustenberg Chardonnay 2012

I think some of the best value Chardonnays are made in South Africa.  This is the good news.  The bad news is many of these wines are over-oaked with the result they are blowsy and fat, with fruit which is hard to find in the midst of all the smoke and wood. Here we have a wine that shows fine balance between the wood and the exceptionally expressive fruit.  It has pear, green apple, lemon on the nose and palate accompanied by a hint of smoke and toasted almond.  The structure is solid and the finish is long and complex.  This is the weightiest wine of my selections this release.

Extra dry, white wine – $19.95 per bottle

France, Burgundy – AOC Côte de Brouilly Jean-Paul Brun Terres Dorées 2012

We had a conventional ferment Gamay in the last release with the Malivoire Gamay.  Now we go to the style most readers will be familiar with: a Gamay fermented using the carbonic maceration method of fermentation.  This approach delivers bright berry fruit, a lightish body, and a wine that is best consumed when young.  This wine has lots of berry, juicy acid, and a bit of savoury spice on the nose and palate and a long finish.  This is a light-bodied wine that will serve beautifully when the weather warms up and we can dine on the patio.

Extra dry, red wine – $17.95 per bottle

USA, Oregon, Willamette Valley – Castle Rock Pinot Noir 2011

Oh, to live in Washington State or New Jersey.  There I could buy a bottle of this wine for a little bit over $11.00… Castle Rock is a big operation which buys fruit from some 40 growers in Washington, Oregon and California and vinifies this fruit in local wineries close to the vineyards.  It has a big following in the popular wine press and has a well-deserved reputation for pleasing wines which are good value. This Pinot Noir is a popular, commercially-made wine which does a very fine job of punching above its weight in character.  It has a rustic light-weight palate with earth, bumble-berry fruit and herbs with soft tannins and plenty of juicy acid. I think this is a new listing for Vintages and I expect this wine will sell quickly.

Extra dry, red wine – $19.95 per bottle

Italy, Umbria – DOC Rosso di Torgiano Lungarotti Rubesco 2009

I haven’t seen this wine for many years: it was a General List standby in days of yore and it’s nice to see this old friend once again. It is a blend dominated by Sangiovese and it has a soft velvet texture accompanied by crisp acid and brilliant fruit.  The nose and palate are complex with red cherry-berry, plum and spice and earthy character on the mid-palate and finish.  The tannins are dusty and the finish is long.  Enjoy with grilled meats.

Extra dry, red wine – $19.95 per bottle

Italy, Tuscany– DOCG Chianti Classico Lornano 2009

Prices for Chianti Classico can wander all over the map; here we have an excellent value for for under$20.00. Why pay more when you get a classic Classico at this price?  This is a well-made wine with all the elements: dusty tannins, ripe berry fruit, juicy, food-friendly acid and a long dry finish.  This is a best buy that seeks al dente pasta in a spicy tomato sauce.

Extra dry, red wine – $17.95 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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