LCBO Vintages release – March 7, 2015 (WVN 211)

Wines from Tuscany are featured this weekend at Vintages outlets.

Italy – and more specifically, Tuscany – is a favourite for LCBO Vintages buyers. Wines from this part of the world are very attractive – food friendly, full of flavour and structure and popular across all consumer segments. They sell well.

This said, the selection of wines is not particularly interesting for the value seeker and only one feature makes my list.

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

This local Riesling has become established as an approachable, correct, go-to wine for many consumers who in the past might have avoided Riesling wines. Why is this? It has enough residual sugar to balance the otherwise too taut acid and deliver an appealing fruit-forward, high-value wine. Look for bright citrus and green apple fruit and a light flinty mineral backbone. The acid is bright and juicy, making this wine a great match for roast pork or chicken.

Medium-dry, white wine – $17.95 per bottle

Australia, Victoria– M. Chapoutier Tournon Mathilda White 2013

Here we have another fine Old World-style wine from one of the most reliable cool zones in Australia. This is a blend of Rhône varieties – Viognier and a small proportion of Marsanne – with no wood exposure during fermentation or maturation. The result is an aromatic beauty with intense fruit expression on the nose and palate, dominated by ripe peach and lemon. This is not a complex wine but it has sound structure and weight: it hankers for a grilled, bone-in pork chop.

Extra dry, white wine – $19.95 per bottle

Australia, South Australia – Penfolds Bin 28 Kalimna Shiraz 2011

Call this a baby Grange if you wish. This is a big Shiraz with plenty of concentrated black fruit, hefty weight and elevated alcohol – all in fine balance. For readers who don’t appreciate the ripe, sweet, flabby Shiraz of many entry-level labels your will find in this bottle a finely-made wine with character and complexity (the fruit is sourced across several zones of South Australia, warm and cool, both). The fruit shows early signs of development, including savoury notes, modest leather and cocoa. This wine can be enjoyed now but will be at its best after another 7 – 10 years in the cellar.

Extra dry, red wine – $34.95 per bottle

France, Midi– AOP Côtes du Roussillon Villages Domaine Lafage Château Saint-Roch Chimères 2012

As long as the cold winter weather continues we will need comfort wines such as this. This is a classic Midi blend (Grenache, Syrah, Carignan) with plenty of ripe fruit, bright, juicy acid and soft tannins. Fresh and bright this is an approachable wine with sound balance and a long finish. Match with a beef stew, chili or my favourite south of France comfort food, cassoulet. For my cassoulet recipe see my TWR posting of September 11, 2011.

Extra dry, red wine – $18.95 per bottle

Italy, Tuscany – DOCG Chianti Classico Castelli dei Grevepasa Panzano Chianti Classico 2008

This is an excellent demonstration of classic Classico. It has bright red cherry fruit, flaky/dusty tannins, crisp and taut acid, modest weight and a long finish. There are signs of early development but there is still some time to go before the tannins soften and this wine peaks.

Extra dry, red wine – $23.95 per bottle (Tuscan Renaissance feature wine)

à bientôt

Copyright © W. John Switzer 2003 – 2015

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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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