LCBO Vintages release – December 6, 2014

This weekend’s release marks the end of calendar 2014 for the Vintages team, as this is the last release before the holidays. The release is another big one and it is arguably one of the best release I have seen – measured by variety, value and new names – over 50 new names in this release must be a record for Vintages. Well done!

This release is also a milestone for The Winesights Reader and its predecessor, the Winesights Vintages Newsletter: the end of 9 years of wine writing. As I say each year at this time, this is a run much longer than I anticipated (that is, if I even thought about how long I might do this bi-weekly thing…).

I get steady feedback from readers, feedback that tells me there are people out there who get value from my efforts. As regular readers know by now, this epistle is about value.

This edition of TWR may be a first: I recommend three fine value wines from Australia – all of which originate in cool-zones.

Australia, South Australia – Mountadam Eden Valley High Eden Estate Chardonnay 2009

Eden Valley is a region located in the Barossa Zone of South Australia but unlike its more famous neighbour, the Barossa Valley, Eden is a distinct cool-climate growing place. Elevation is high in the High Eden sub region and it is the home of only one winery, the Mountadam. These climate and elevation conditions lend themselves to growing grapes which deliver bright citrus, green apple and papaya fruit with a modest lashing of lees and oak to provide complexity, texture and depth. This wine has an Old World style which will surprise many who shy away from the big, blousy Aussie Chardonnays of old. Fine structure, balance and finish – this wine is a beauty at a very good price.

Extra dry, white wine – $21.95 per bottle

Australia, Victoria – Domaine Terlato & Chapoutier Shiraz/Viognier 2012

This is the first of two wines in this article made by non-Rhône ventures of Michel Chapoutier, the highly-regarded maker of wines in the northern Rhône. This is a northern Rhône-style wine made from a blend of Shiraz and Viognier, co-fermented to yield brilliant fruit expression. The wine has had no wood exposure and delivers bright berry fruit, savoury notes and a firm minerality. This is a delight and demonstrates the character of cool-climate winegrowing that can come from the state of Victoria. Brilliant!

Extra dry, red wine – $23.95 per bottle

Australia, Tasmania – Josef Chromy Sparkling 2008

This is a traditional method sparkling wine made of a blend of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes. Josef Chromy is a self-made immigrant from what was then Czechoslovakia who has lived in Tasmania for over 60 years. Latterly he has become a leader in sparkling wine production known for wines which display hallmark bright acid, brilliant fruit expression and a delicate body which is elegant and refined. This wine shows lemon and green apple aromas and flavours and modest brioche notes. The finish is long and taut. Serve on its own or as a starter for a holiday dinner.

Dry, sparkling wine – $29.95 per bottle

France, Champagne – AOC Champagne Château de Bligny Blanc de Blancs NV

Once again the Vintages team has delivered an exceptional value grower Champagne, this time from maker located in the southern zone of the Côte des Bar. This is complex, concentrated wine with a fullish body, bright citrus and brown apple fruit, biscuit, flinty minerals and a long finish. This wine will do well either as an aperitif or as accompaniment to any fare such as roast turkey, rib roast or salmon. Well-timed for the holidays, this.

Extra dry, sparkling wine – $49.95 per bottle

France, Roussillon – AOC Côtes du Roussillon-Villages Latour de France Domaine de Bila-Haut Occultum Lapidem 2012

This is the second Chapoutier wine on this week’s list. This one is a perennial favourite when it appears on the Vintages roster and for good reason: it is a full-bodied, full-flavoured, complex and expressive wine with great structure, character and ageing potential – all offered at a very good price for its quality. A Syrah/Grenache/Carignan blend this wine is full of the aromas and flavours of the south of France: blackberry fruit, black pepper spice, herbes de Provence and savoury notes. The tannins are firm but nicely integrated. This wine can be enjoyed now but will show its best after a few years in your cellar.

Dry, red wine – $24.95 per bottle

USA, California – Robert Mondavi Napa Valley Fumé Blanc 2013

This is the reference for Fumé Blanc, made by the maker who invented the concept: Sauvignon Blanc fermented and matured in oak vessels. This is a blend of S-B with a small amount of Semillon and is a finely balanced and crisp wine with understated citrus, apple and melon fruit, lees, a waxy texture, herbs, spice and stony minerals. This is a delightful wine that will appeal to all – serve on its own or with roast chicken.

Extra dry, white wine – $22.95 per bottle

In closing, best wishes for the holidays – whichever ones you celebrate.  Also, best wishes for a healthy, prosperous 2015!

à bientôt…

Copyright © W. John Switzer 2003 – 2014

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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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