LCBO Vintages release – February 20, 2016 (WVN 231)

This week’s selections are slightly more varied in their origins than recent issue of my newsletter. This is good and reflects on the quality of choices made by the Vintages team – it’s nice to see!

Ontario, Niagara – VQA Beamsville Bench Thirty Bench Riesling 2013

We have several exponents of the merits of fine Riesling in Niagara: Cave Spring, Tawse, Hidden Bench readily come to mind. The Niagara region winery that probably ranks at the top as the true Riesling specialist is Thirty Bench with its terroir-driven range of dry, high-wire, juicy gems – I can feel the grapefruit acid juice on my palate as I write this sentence… This is the entry-level wine to the range and is an exceptional wine regardless of price. It is crisp and intense with brilliant citrus fruit and stony minerals. There is a wonderful balance of acid and sugar to make this a versatile wine for either food or sipping.

Dry, White wine – $18.95 per bottle

Italy, Tuscany – DOCG Vernaccia di San Gimignano Teruzzi & Puthod 2014

Vernaccia is an Italian grape that is hard to pin down – in fact, it seems to have many variants depending on where it is grown. The best incarnation is that grown in the DOCG zone of San Gimignano, the famous town of medieval towers in Tuscany. Teruzzi & Puthod is one of the best makers and this wine is an attest to the reputation of this house. This is a very fine wine – light in body, with oodles of tangy acid, citrus flavours, herbal notes and a firm minerality. The finish is long and clean – a perfect wine for fish dishes.

Extra dry, white wine – $16.95 per bottle

France, Loire – AOC Vouvray Château Moncontour Cuvée Prédilection Brut 2012

This is the first run-don’t walk sparkling wine I have found in a long while. Vouvray is made with the Chenin Blanc grape which readers now recognize as a WVN favourite – it is complex and versatile with character that evolves well as it ages (especially in Vouvray where it can be medium- dry, sweet, sparkling or sweet-botrytized). This is a traditional-method sparkling wine that shows the best of Chenin Blanc: honey, pear, brown apple and a bit of spice. The acid is bright and crisp, the mousse is creamy and persistent with just enough leesy brioche to complete the nose and palate. Great!

Extra dry, sparkling wine – $19.95 per bottle

France, Burgundy – AOC Bourgogne Roche de Bellene Cuvée Réserve Pinot Noir 2013

Lovers of Pinot Noir, this wine is for you. This is a traditional entry-level Burgundy which will give you no clues to its place but that’s okay at the price. Roche de Bollene is a small negociant known for high quality wines from Premier Cru and Grand Cru appellations which span Burgundy – with an emphasis on the Côte de Nuits. The quality assigned by the firm to its high-end wines is also applied to this regional appellation. It is full of Old World elements: subdued but expressive fruit, earth, savoury notes, herbs, spice, modest, finely-grained tannins, and crisp acid. The body is light and the finish is long. If you have spent your time to date consuming gallons of Central Otago Pinots, this is a wine to expand your understanding of the variety.

Extra dry, red wine – $19.95 per bottle

Australia, South Australia – Peter Lehmann Barossa Layers Shiraz/Tempranillo/Mourvèdre/Grenache 2012

This is an interesting Rhône-style blend with a Tempranillo twist – more Rhône than Barossa in character. While the fruit is ripe is does not have the dense, sweet, heavily-oaked character we generally experience with the Shiraz-dominated blends from this region. Rather, you will find in this bottle a complex, balanced wine with fine structure. It has an earthy nose with some savoury elements that continue on the palate along with plenty of red and black berry fruit. The tannins are smooth and the acid is juicy. This wine will appeal to wine lovers who may not normally seek a red from the Barossa Valley.

Dry, red wine – $17.95 per bottle

à bientôt…

Copyright© W. John Switzer 2003 – 2016.

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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