LCBO Vintages release highlights – April 12 and April 26, 2014

I am back at the Winesights desk after a month of travels. Apologies for the radio-silence from this end.

There is some catching up to do on my sojourns in Madeira, Cava country and the annual judging at the Decanter World Wine Awards. We will report on some of these goings-on over the next few weeks.

There were two Vintages releases while I was travelling and neither was noteworthy. This posting will update readers on a couple of highlights from these releases.

The April 12 release featured wines made in the Veneto region of Italy in the appassimento style, using either air-dried grapes or conducting a second fermentation of Valpollicella wine by passing the wine over pomace from Amarone wine.

The wines I preferred from this release are not selected from the feature, but both have a solid Ontario connection:

USA, Oregon – Bachelder Willamette Valley Chardonnay 2011
Thomas Bachelder has three projects underway currently, one in each of Ontario, Burgundy and Oregon. How he does the musical chairs routine during harvest across thousands of kilometres and 9 time zones is a mystery but he does indeed succeed, witness this wonderful, Old World style New World wine. You will find plenty of tree fruits, chalky minerals, toast, roasted almond and spice on the nose and palate. The body is medium in weight and the finish is very long and clean. This is a well-made wine with finesse and fine nuance.

Extra dry, white wine – $29.95

Ontario, Niagara – VQA Niagara Peninsula Tawse Sketches Cabernet/Merlot 2011

The Tawse brand has been solidly built and recognized with tons of Canadian Wine Award medals on the back of the high-end wines Maury and team have assembled over the past 10 years. I think the Sketches series is more interesting than the big brother wines as the little brothers consistently display fresh fruit and structure without adornment (i.e. wood). This red is a little beauty, very pure and fresh with lots of bright berry and apple fruit, sleek tannins and bright acid. This is a pretty wine with complexity and harmonious balance.

Extra dry, red wine – $20.95 per bottle

The April 26 release featured value wines from Bordeaux, covering wines priced between $16.95 and $29.95. The sub-feature was sparkling wines made in a number of styles from a variety of places.

I recommend one wine from each of the features:

France, Bordeaux – AOC Haut-Médoc Château Maurac 2010

This wine is classified as a Cru Bourgeois, a category uniquely Médocian, situated below Grand Cru Classé, and which is dynamic, meaning wines are re-assessed annually by an oversight body that affirms – or otherwise – the Cru status of each wine. These wines traditionally have represented very good value and I seek them whenever they are available. This wine is dominated by Cabernet Sauvignon and shows, mint, cassis, herbs and some modest smoke and vanilla. It is well-structured with bright acid, grippy tannins and expressive fruit, all in balance. This wine can be consumed now but will evolve nicely over the next 5 – 7 years. Serve with roasted red meats.

Extra dry, red wine – $24.95 per bottle

France, Champagne – AOC Champagne Fleury Blanc de Noirs Brut NV

Fleury is a family-owned biodynamic producer located in the small Côte des Bar zone in the southernmost reaches of the Champagne region. This is a stunning wine with plenty of brioche, lime, flinty minerals, tightly-wound acid, hefty body, creamy mousse and a very long finish. The price is very attractive so you may want to buy a few bottles for upcoming celebrations. How about a bottle for Mother’s Day lunch?

Extra dry, sparkling wine – $54.95 per bottle (rs 2 g/L)

All the wines listed above are available in good supply across the LCBO system.

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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