LCBO Vintages release – November 14, 2015 (WVN 225)

We are now back at the TWR news desk after some travel that involved no wine-related activity.

Apologies to those who wait with great anticipation for my bi-weekly recommendations. The fact is, there has not been a great deal of interesting wine offered by the Vintages team this fall. – so, over the past month we have not missed much. There are two exceptions – see below.

This low-value assessment continues to this weekend’s release. While there are some fine wines offered there are not a great deal of values in the offerings. There is one important reason for this: the weak Canadian dollar is killing – or shall we say, redefining – the traditional value segment for imported wines.

Consider a bottle of California wine that costs the LCBO or its agent US$8.00 at the winery. By the time it hits the local shelf his wine will cost the consumer C$20.00, if the Canadian dollar trades at par with the US dollar. This same bottle will cost the LCBO retail consumer C$24.65 when the Canadian dollar drops to US$0.77. As both the US dollar and the Euro have appreciated against the Canadian dollar over the past year the price of wines from major country New World and Old World are adversely affected by the weak loonie.

Let’s face it: we now have to re-calibrate our definitions of value – that is, the quotient derived when you solve the quality/price fraction. This means that best value wines that might have cost under $20.00 per bottle in the past will now be priced in the $24 – $25 per bottle range. This unfortunate situation will be the new-normal until our economy develops a sustainable balance of outputs from resources, manufacturing and services – maybe for the rest of my lifetime…

This suggests Ontario and BC makers have an opportunity to place our local wines more front and centre as a source of high value.

Please note this week’s selections and those for the next two releases will have holiday meals and celebrations in mind, along with the ongoing search for value.

Ontario, Prince Edward County – VQA Prince Edward County Closson Chase Chardonnay 2013

This is a wine made by the now-retired founding winemaker at Closson Chase, Deborah Paskus. Paskus was the pioneer who demonstrated Ontario fruit could be used to make world class Chardonnay when she and Steven Temkin partnered to make the hallowed Cuvée Temkin-Paskus Beamsville Bench 1998 Chardonnay. The 2013 is a rich and full-bodied wine with a creamy texture, brilliant citrus and tropical fruit, crisp acid and a very long finish. The oak treatment has seen only modest new wood so the fruit shines through. The structure of this wine will allow it to develop well over the next 5 -7 years. This is a classy wine at an exceptional price which will sell quickly so run-don’t walk to your nearest LCBO Vintages corner.

Extra dry, white wine – $27.95 per bottle

Ontario, Niagara – VQA Beamsville Bench Hidden Bench Terroir Caché Meritage 2011

It is difficult to make a quality Meritage blend in Ontario as most vintages don’t allow the Cabernet Sauvignon to achieve adequate ripeness. Place is thus important in our climate so adequate heat units can accumulate to ensure sufficient to avoid the unripe green character that is a marker of cool-zone Cabernet Sauvignon. This wine delivers: it is ripe, yet elegant and shows dark plum fruit, juicy acid and firm, tannins that need time to soften. This is a wine to place in a back corner of your cellar for another 2-3 years. Consider it an accompaniment to your rib roast on New Year’s Eve 2019.

Extra dry, red wine – $38.20 per bottle

France, Southwest – AOC Cahors Château Croze de Pys 2010

This is a traditional style Cahors which means it shows the full-frontal tannic structure that has been a longstanding hallmark of wines made with the Malbec grape in this part of France. These, along the wines of AOC Madiran, are the wines that have been found to be the most effective in contributing to healthy coronary arteries. Croze de Pys is intense with aromas and flavours of blackberry, plum, earth, herbs and spices. This is a wine that should spend some more time in your cellar so the tannins become better integrated – but be warned the tannins will always be part of the pleasure of this wine. Serve with a beef stew, cassoulet or a veal roast.

Extra dry, red wine – $16.95 per bottle

France, Burgundy – AOC Moulin-à-Vent Manoir du Carra Les Burdelines 2012

Moulin-à-Vent is arguably the most noble and age-worthy of all the crus of Beaujolais. I say arguably only because the same is often said of the wines of the Beaujolais cru, Morgon. In both cases these cru wines have depth and structure that is anything but what you might otherwise associate with the light, fruity wines of the Beaujolais. Burdelines has red fruit and floral notes on the nose while the palate is firm and well-structured with red fruit, bright acid and lean tannins. You can enjoy this wine now but it will evolve over the next few years to become a complex, layered wine with supple texture.

Extra dry, red wine – $22.95 per bottle

Some notable values from earlier releases:

Ontario, Niagara – VQA Niagara Peninsula Tawse Sketches of Niagara Riesling 2014

One of my perennial favourites for quality and price is this little beauty. It is off-dry but has juicy acid which provides a fine balance for either sipping or as match with chicken, turkey or pork. The aromatics are floral with brown apple and honey and these continue on the palate – a wonderful example of Ontario Riesling at an unbeatable price. This wine was released on October 17 and supplies are ample in LCBO stores everywhere.

Off-dry, white wine – $17.95 per bottle

France, Southern Rhône – AOC Côtes du Rhône Domaines Perrin Coudoulet de Beaucastel 2013

This is an exceptional value price for one of the most reliable premium CdR reds (the price has remained constant for several years, despite fluctuating currency prices!). The 2013 is ripe, round, finely-balanced and well-structured. It embodies the classic bright and inviting character of red CdR with complexity that punches well above the appellation. Coudoulet is a blend of Grenache, Mourvèdre, Syrah and Cinsault, an assemblage that gives wonderful complexity and structure. There is bright red berry/cherry fruit, some savoury notes, brilliant crisp acidity and lean, finely-grained tannins. The finish is long.

Extra dry, red wine – $29.95 per bottle (October 17 release item – supplies are good across the LCBO network)

à bientôt…

Copyright© W. John Switzer 2003 – 2015.


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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