LCBO Vintages release – October 11, 2014 (WVN 202)

The main feature in this Thanksgiving Day weekend Vintages release is wines from the Sonoma region in California. This area is made up of a number of famous wine zones including Sonoma Coast, Sonoma County, Russian River Valley, Carneros, Dry Creek Valley and so on.

This feature was accompanied by the first big trade and consumer wine shows of the fall, the Sonoma County event at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto on October 9.  This is another event sponsored by the California trade and once again demonstrates effective coordination of marketing activities by the people who organize such things for California wine makers, the largest exporter of wines to the LCBO Vintages program.

It is a reflection of the number of different zones in Sonoma each with its own climate, terrain and elevation that a number of different grape varieties prosper here, and also that a number of distinct wine styles come from this region.

This cross-section of varieties and styles is represented in the feature, as is a wide range of prices.

A handful of wines for the Piedmont region of Italy is presented in a second feature in the release. One of the wines from this feature makes my list this week.

This is another big release, measured by the number of wines available. Apparently the Vintages team now buys smaller lots of more wines for each release and expects these smaller lots to sell quickly, more quickly than in the past. The consumer benefits from this new policy with more choice, which is good… the downside is LCBO front-line staff members are under growing pressure to put more wines on the shelves in 0ften-confined Vintages display areas…

British Columbia, Okanagan Valley – VQA Okanagan Valley NK’MIP QWAM QWMT Chardonnay 2011

The winery and the wine look like airport codes but don’t mistake this for a tightly-packed, dismal experience the way air travel now feels. No, this is a very fine example of a Canadian warm-zone Chardonnay. If you don’t like rich, ripe wines with oodles of intense tropical fruit (banana and mango), fleshy texture, toast, roasted almond and vanilla, this is a wine you should try. It has all of the above-noted hedonistic elements but also has crisp acid and a backbone of flinty minerals to give this wine some fine structure and character.

Extra dry, white wine – $22.95 per bottle

British Columbia, Okanagan Valley– VQA Okanagan Valley Blue Mountain Brut NV

The brut from Blue Mountain has become a reference standard for traditional method sparkling wines made in Canada. It has complex lemon, green apple and peach fruit and a fresh brioche character on the nose and palate. The acid is taut and zesty, the body is medium in weight and the finish is long and clean. Overall this is a balanced wine with fine structure and a refined personality. Exceptional value.

Extra dry, sparkling wine – $27.95 per bottle

France, Alsace – AOC Alsace André Blanck et Ses Fils Altenburg Gewürztraminer 2013

If you have never tasted an Alsatian late-harvest wine this would be a good place to start without the cash outlay the more expensive sweet wine which is a regional favourite. This is a complex and ripe wine with flavours of honey, lychee and peach accompanied by elevated levels of crisp acid. The result is a balanced wine that will be a match for spicy foods, or as an accompaniment to desserts or cheese.

Medium-sweet white wine – $19.95 per bottle

South Africa– WO Stellenbosch Rustenberg John X Merriman 2011

This wine is a Bordeaux blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petit Verdot, Malbec and Cabernet Franc. It is deeply coloured, concentrated on the nose and palate with very solid structure for the price. The palate is ripe and spicy with black berry, blackcurrant and plum flavours, firm tannins, and a long finish. This wine is an amazing value for l
overs of Bordeaux-style wines which are cellar-worthy for extended periods.

Extra dry, red wine – $24.95 per bottle

Italy, Piedmont – DOC Langhe Borgogno Freisa 2012

Langhe is a lesser denominazione in Piedmont, deep in the shadows its more famous siblings, Barolo, Barbaresco and even, Dolcetto. This wine is made with the grape, Freisa, an ancient variety, indigenous to Piedmont known to make wines noted for light, garnet colour, fresh-forward fruit and assertive tannins and acid. The result is a wine which calls for hearty meat dishes. This is a perfect wine at a pretty good price which will be a great accompaniment to braised ribs or rack of lamb.

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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