LCBO Vintages release – January 23, 2016 (WVN 229)

This weekend there is a France focus and a bright, juicy red focus in my selections. These are wines that will match well with winter cuisine but which also will serve well in the spring and summer when the barbecue season is in force.

Australia, Victoria – Fowles Stone Dwellers Shiraz 2013

This wine comes from the high-elevation Strathbogie ranges zone of Victoria a place that has a cooler climate and a distinctly wide diurnal range (warm days and cool nights). The effect of this climate is to slow ripening and thus allow greater development of concentrated fruit character and typically elevated acid. This wine is concentrated and complex with red and black berry fruit, black pepper spice herbs, savoury elements, juicy, tart acid and modest, flaky tannins. The finish is long. For the price this is a well- balanced wine with a fine northern-Rhône personality.

Extra dry, red wine – $19.95 per bottle

France, Bordeaux – AOC Castillon – Côtes de Bordeaux Château des Demosielles 2010

Castillon is a lesser appellation situated on the fringes of the (more expensive) Saint Émilion zone on the right bank of the Dordogne River. The wines from this place can be variable reflecting the dominance of caves cooperatives in the appellation and often difficult climate conditions that can affect vintage quality. Merlot is the dominant grape grown here but all wines are blends with Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon in the assemblage. This wine is a fine demonstration of the possibilities of Castillon with a smooth texture, a reasonably complex nose and palate and solid structure for the price. There is still ripe berry fruit on the palate along with extensive development – earth, spice and vanilla on both nose and palate. Drink now with grilled meat.

Extra dry, red wine – $17.95 per bottle

France, Southern Rhône – AOC Côtes du Rhône Domaine de La Janasse Blanc 2014

The only white to make the list this weekend is a small-production cuvée made by a family maker in Chateauneuf-du-Pape. It is a blend of five white varieties, dominated by Grenache Blanc with small portions of Clairette, Borboulenc, Viognier and Roussane. Considering the blend and the complexity in the glass, one could mistake this wine for a white C-N-P. It has concentrated pure citrus and stone fruit (no oak in this wine), bright acid, a fleshy texture on the mid-palate and a long finish. Serve with roast chicken.

Extra dry, white wine – $21.95 per bottle

France, Northern Rhône – AOC Crozes-Hermitage E. Guigal 2012

I consider Crozes-Hermitage to be the most consistent best-value incarnation of northern Rhône Syrah available. Combine this assessment with the Guigal name – the leading grower/negociant in the north, if not the whole Rhône – and you have a winner. In many ways similar in style to the Stone Dwellers Shiraz (above) this wine has some more visible oak and smoke, and a more earthy character. This is a fine representation of the Old World style of Syrah with a slightly reductive nose. The finish is very long and even though this wine fetches $29.00 at checkout this is a fine value.

Extra dry, red wine – $28.95 per bottle

Portugal, Douro – DOC Douro Vale de Bonfim 2013

Here we have another bright, juicy red, ready for food. This wine is made by the Symington family, one of the leaders in the Port trade and one of the members of Primum Familiae Vini, an exclusive association made up of twelve of the best-known family-owned winemakers in the world – including Antinori, Perrin, Rothschild, Torres, Hugel, to name a few. This aside, this is a beautiful wine with a medium body, bright, ripe plum fruit, assertive, sour acid, herbs and spice, modest oak and a long finish. This wine is surprisingly complex and well-structured for the price.

Extra dry, red wine – $15.95 per bottle

à bientôt…

Copyright© W. John Switzer 2003 – 2016.

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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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