LCBO Vintages release – March 15, 2014

This weekend’s Vintages release features iconic wines from California.  This is an excellent release for the collector: the feature selection is a who’s-who of collectible Californians, ranging in price from $34.95 to $170.95 per bottle.

Unfortunately none of the feature wines makes the value list this week. This may be a surprise for some, considering the effusive praise I have heaped on the California marketing machine over the past two newsletters. Despite the quality of the wines selected for this week’s feature they are simply not value buys.

Three of the wines selected as the best values in this release are from…France.  This should be no surprise despite my recent rants: France is one of the best sources of value wines anywhere in the world.  My only complete is the French need to do a much better job telling the story to the world of wine consumers/

South Africa, Stellenbosch – WO Stellenbosch Rustenberg RM Nicholson 2010

Here we have the first of two Bordeaux blends in my selection this week, both dominated by Cabernet Sauvignon – with some Syrah thrown into this wine to add some savoury notes to the fruit stew. It is deep ruby in colour and concentrated on both nose and palate with ripe aromas and flavours of black currant, herbs, spice, coffee and chocolate.  The palate is balanced and pleasing with soft, assertive tannins, a medium-full body, bright acid and a long finish.  Enjoy now.

Extra dry, red wine – $19.95 per bottle

France, Burgundy –AOC Moulin á Vent Domaine Richard Rottiers 2011

Moulin á Vent is the finest of the Beaujolais crus. It is never cheap so when you see a price of $24.95 you simply suck it up and pay: it’s worth it. These wines have more structure, power, intensity and tannins than the everyday light, fruity wines of Beaujolais – Berry Brothers & Rudd, an ancient wine merchant in London describes Moulin á Vent as the most Burgundian of all the Beaujolais appellations.  Because of the structure, Moulin á Vent wines are age-able – meaning they will improve with time – often for up to 10 years.  This wine delivers: it has structure, brilliant fruit, an earthiness on the nose and palate and a long finish.  Buy a few.

Extra dry, red wine – $24.95 per bottle

France, Bordeaux – AOC Médoc Château Le Vieux Serestin 2009

This is a wonderful bargain Bordeaux red. It is made in the classic Left Bank blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petit Verdot and Cabernet Franc.  The body is medium weight, fruit dominates the nose and palate with only a modest amount of oaky character and the elements are all in synch: tannins, acid, fruit.  There is plenty of bright berry and black currant fruit along with some spice and mocha.  Drink now.

Extra dry, red wine – $17.95 per bottle

France, Southwest – AOC Cahors Clos La Coutale 2011

Cahors has come a long way over the past decade.  Winemaking has evolved in this time so that wines that formerly required years of bottle age to tame wild and hairy tannins can now be consumed within a handful of years following the vintage.  This selection is a fine demonstration of the modern style of Cahors and should be purchased if you are a believer in the beneficial effects of the high tannin wines from this part of France: Malbec (or Cot, as the grape is locally known) is the grape of Cahors wine and in this part of the world it is associated with elevated tannins that produce healthy, clean coronary arteries when consumed regularly. This is a wine that will best accompany hearty meat dishes.  It has ripe black berry fruits, savoury notes on the nose and palate firm and grippy tannins and an overall character of a wine made with absolutely no intervention.  Buy a few bottles; consume a couple now and lay down the remainder for a few years.  Enjoy!

Extra dry, red wine – $17.95 per bottle

Portugal, Douro– DOC Douro Borges Reserva 2009

I have come to appreciate the elegance and food-friendly personality of reds from the Douro. This wine is a more substantive wine than the lighter-weight norm and carries concentrated stewed cherry and plum fruits, firm tannins and the bright acidity that is part of the Douro character. The body is full, the palate has a stony mineral background and the finish is long.  This is a very fine wine for the price and it will evolve well in the cellar for the next 3 -5 years.

Extra dry, red wine – $21.95 per bottle

à bientôt…

Copyright© W. John Switzer 2003 – 2014.


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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