LCBO Vintages release – October 25, 2014 (WVN 203)

The holiday season must be nigh. How do I know this?

Two reasons support my fearless forecast. First, Hallowe’en is coming at the end of the week and this means Christmas decorations will pop-up in every retail site across the land on November 1.

The second signal is equally reliable: the average price of product in recent Vintages listings has increased steadily. This weekend there are 150 wines on offer and of these 36 are priced over $40 per bottle. We will go higher, I assure you.

A partial reason for the high prices this weekend is the main feature: wines of Tuscany. There are some icons in the feature and this represents a great opportunity for collectors to update their cellars. The sub-feature is wines of Chile which ties-in with the Chilean Wine Festival this coming week in Toronto. A wine from each feature is on my list.
Despite the size of this release I was disappointed there were not more value wines in the selection. Herewith, my recommendations…

Ontario, Niagara – VQA Niagara Peninsula Tawse Sketches of Niagara Riesling 2013

I say this every time the subject comes up but I think the Tawse Sketches series is one of the best-value lines available in Ontario. These wines are made from fruit sourced throughout the Niagara region and display consistent varietally-correct character, with minimal evidence of winemaking interference. This wine displays lime and green apple notes on the nose and palate with crisp, assertive acid balanced with off-dry levels of residual sugar. The fruit is concentrated and expressive and the finish is long and clean. Beautiful!

Medium-dry, white wine – $17.95 per bottle

France, Midi – AOC Saint-Chinian Château de Ciffre Terroirs d’Altitude 2011

Saint-Chinian is a small appellation in the complicated maze of appellations that is the Languedoc. The wines from this zone are powerful and full-bodied, made from blends of Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre with traditional use of Carignan in decline. This wine is intense and rich with ripe fruit, grippy tannins and juicy acid. It shows some development with earth notes and displays the herbs and spice we expect from wines made in this part of France. This will be a fine accompaniment to stews and roast this winter.

Extra dry, red wine – $17.95 per bottle

Chile, Maule Valley–Miguel Torres Cordillera de Los Andes Syrah 2010

In 1979 the Torres family of Catalonia, Spain became the first outside investor in the Chilean wine industry. This wine shows the character of a Syrah grown in a Mediterranean climate such as the Maule Valley: it is an Old-World style Syrah with bright fruit, juicy acid and delicate tannins. The black cherry/berry fruit is fairly intense and is accompanied by spice and black pepper. The wine shows overall balance and if there is a shortcoming it is a finish that falls off quickly. Otherwise this is a very fine wine made from a grape that shows well in Chile.

Extra dry, red wine – $19.95 per bottle (Chile feature wine)

South Africa– WO Western Cape Graham Beck Brut Sparkling Wine

This is an old reliable that has all the elements one expects from a well-made traditional method sparkler, usually at a much higher price. The nose has aromas of light toast and lemon. The palate is firmly-textured with creamy mousse, bright acid, flinty minerals and lemon and brown apple fruit. Very good value and an ideal wine for a holiday season open house.

Extra dry, sparkling wine – $19.95 per bottle

Italy, Tuscany – DOCG Chianti Classico Castello d’Albola Riserva 2008

This is a complex, very good value Chianti Classico Riserva with fresh cranberry, cherry fruit and early signs of development: wet loam and cedar notes on the nose and palate. Despite its advancing age and the early development, the fruit is bright and fresh. There is plenty of juicy acid and spice and the tannins are drying and well-integrated. This will be a perfect match for pasta in tomato sauce.

Extra dry, red wine – $22.95 per bottle (Tuscan feature wine)

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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