LCBO vintages release – July 19, 2014 (WVN 196)

This weekend is arguably the height of summer, the time when we all try to spend as much time as possible in the outdoors. This means meals on the patio served from the grill.

If this scenario is familiar then this weekend’s vintages release is aimed at your palate. The main feature of this release is labelled Best BBQ wines and there are some exceptional wines in this group, one of which makes the value list.

This is a strong release – one of the best in a while – so the feature wines all met with intense competition.

This is also the big weekend on the Ontario wine calendar. Starting Friday July 18 and continuing to Sunday August 20 the fourth edition of the International Cool-Climate Chardonnay Celebration will take place at several venues in Niagara wine country. The Vintages team has once again joined the celebration with a sub-feature in this weekend’s Vintages release. Ten wines from the New – and Old World are featured in the release and while all are very fine, none is a value when compared with other wines on offer.


The competition seems to have been won hands’-down by the Old World with a cross section of four countries represented.

Germany, Mosel – QbA Dr. Pauly-Bergweiler Riesling 2012

This may be an entry-level quality Riesling but don’t let that classification get in the way: this is an excellent value. There is plenty of brown apple, peach, lime, spice and stony mineral on the palate. The texture is lean and crisp with the modest residual sugar nicely-balanced with the acid. The finish is long and clean. This is an excellent sipper or serve with appetizers before dinner.

Off-dry, white wine – $13.95 per bottle

France, Midi – AOC Côtes du Roussillon-Villages Château Saint-Roch Chimères 2011

A blend of Grenache, Syrah and Carignan this is a pleaser from an appellation that is the home of pleasing wines. It is laden with dark berry and plum fruits, spice, garrigue and stony minerals. The tannins are round and ripe and the acid is juicy. It has wonderful structure and a round mouth feel. This is a truly fine BBQ wine that hankers for burgers, chops or ribs.

Extra dry, red wine – $18.95 per bottle (BBQ feature wine)

France, Northern Rhône – AOC Crozes-Hermitage Cave de Tain 2011

Cave de Tain is a cave-cooperative based in the small village of Tain l’Hermitage, capital of Hermitage country. Befitting its location this c-c delivers quality on a consistently high level, regardless of the appellation. This wine offers everything a lover of Old World Syrah seeks: blackberry fruit, black pepper, black olive, herbs and savoury notes. The fruit is fresh and unadorned by winemaking. The texture is bright and juicy with light tannins that give some structure but don’t interfere with the pure pleasure of the fruit. Well done! Enjoy with grilled chicken.

Extra dry, red wine – $21.95 per bottle

Italy, Tuscany– DOCG Chianti Classico Riserva Castello di Gabbiano 2009

This producer is a maker of consistently good-value wines and this wine is another demonstration of its formula. This is a finely-textured wine made from the Sangiovese grape. The body is fullish with round tannins and a depth that is amazing for the price. It is well into its middle age with cherry fruit, spice and dark chocolate on the notes and palate. The finish is long. Serve with grilled or roasted red meats.

Extra dry, red wine – $22.85 per bottle

Spain, Bierzo – DO Bierzo Abad Dom Bueno Crianza 2006

I have no explanation for this exceptional value run-don’t-walk beauty. Crianza is the category of Spanish wines with the least amount of oak ageing before bottling and these wines typically are best consumed young. Here we have a wine that has evolved in the bottle to become complex beyond anything you might reasonably expect at the price. It has a vast array of cherry/berry fruit on the nose and palate along with floral notes and spice – all markers of the Mencia grape. There has been a longish oak regime as reflected in the glass – enough to add to the complexity without taking anything away from the fruit. Drink now and over the next year.

Extra dry, red wine – $14.95 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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