The first Vintages release for calendar 2015 is now on the shelves of your local LCBO store. This release has a seasonal theme that is fitting for the post-holiday season: Smart Buys. This theme has a simple premise – by early January our resources are tapped out so our appetite is for quality wines at modest prices.
The Vintages buyers have done an adequate job in this release but there is a message at the heart of the release: to get the best value in today’s market you must expect to spend at least $20.00 per bottle. Below this threshold there is wide variability and often modest structure and character, even among Vintages selections.
South Africa, Western Cape – WO Western Cape Mulderbosch Chenin Blanc 2012
This wine is a true stunner and wins the best-value award for this release. It has brilliant concentrated fruit, a slightly viscous texture, and a very long finish. On the nose and palate you will find pear, melon, honey, spice and the slightest hint of oak. This is a beauty and it will develop nicely for the next five years. Run, don’t walk for this one!
Extra dry, white wine – $14.95 per bottle
Australia, McLaren Vale – D’Arenburg The Footbolt Shiraz 2011
A perennial Vintages offering this wine is a very fine Shiraz: well-balanced with no South Australia extremes of ripeness and chocolate. This is a complex wine with bright acid, smooth tannins and stewed plum and cherry flavours. The finish is long. It will be a good match for barbecued steaks or chops. There is enough structure for this wine to evolve over the next 3 to 5 years.
Dry, red wine – $21.95 per bottle
Australia, Tasmania – Brown Brothers Devil’s Corner Pinot Noir 2013
For the second release in a row a wine from the cool-zone of Tasmania has made my list. This time it is a Pinot Noir and it makes the grade for its structure. This wine won’t win any awards for complexity although it does show an appealing flavour profile of bright cherry-berry fruit with some savoury and earth tones. The structure is made of the bright fruit, juicy acid, light, grainy tannins and a long finish. Pretty good.
Extra dry, red wine – $23.95 per bottle
France, Bordeaux– AOC Haut-Médoc Château Beauséjour Hostens 2010
If there is a best-value runner-up in this release, this wine is it. This beauty punches well-above its weight with a complex nose and palate along with exceptional structure. Your will find concentrated red and black fruit, spice, leather and herbs. The tannins are grippy and the acid is bright. I expect this wine will develop further over the next 3-5 years. It is noteworthy that this wine was only one of two reds awarded a gold medal in the Bordeaux category at the 2012 Decanter World Wine Awards. This is another Run, don’t walk winner (This is a first: two RDW wines in one release!).
Extra dry, red wine – $22.95 per bottle
Italy, Tuscany –DOCG Castello Di Bibbione Riserva Chianti Classico 2009
Here we have a classic Classico: bright, juicy cherry fruit, dusty tannins and a long, clean finish. Overlay on top of these classic elements, intense fruit character, some savoury notes and you have a winner at a very attractive price.
Dry, red wine – $22.95 per bottle
Copyright © W. John Switzer 2003 – 2015