LCBO Vintages release – March 5, 2016 (WVN 232)

It has been a more challenging task this weekend to find values in a Vintages release which features California wines and Brunellos from Tuscany. Suffice it to say none of my selections come from the features…

Ontario, Niagara – VQA Ontario Henry of Pelham Family Tree Red 2013

Ontario has demonstrated strength in several grape varieties (think Riesling, Cabernet Franc, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir) but Ontario makers show some deftness when it comes to blends of sometimes odd, if not, unstated, combinations of grape varieties. This wine is a fine example of how a blend of perhaps weak fruit can be made into something interesting and pleasing. This is a blend of Syrah, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon and it works, despite its strange bedfellow character. For the price this is a well-made wine with some 17 months of maturation in barrel. It has oodles of red and black berry and cherry fruit, smoke, spice and earth notes. The acid is bright, the tannins are soft and fine-grained and the finish is long. Great value!

Dry, red wine – $18.95 per bottle

France, Burgundy – AOC Chablis Domaine Le Verger 2014

Chablis can be a simple and often austere wine but is always a wine that refreshes with its bright acid, flinty minerals and sleek texture. This is a good example of the classic style with bright and concentrated aromas and flavours of citrus fruit, green apple and spice. This is a balanced wine with a medium body that will be a fine match for roast chicken.

Extra dry, white wine – $22.95 per bottle

Chile, Maipo Valley – William Fèvre Espino Gran Cuvée Chardonnay 2013

William Fèvre is an old name associated with fine Chablis. The family sold its business late in the 20th century to the group which owns Bouchard Père et Fils and this provided capital to expand into New World places such as Chile – something many French makers have done over the past several years. This wine is the anti-Chablis (see above): it is a warm-zone wine which shows tropical fruit, medium-plus body, buttery texture, toasted nut and spice. It has elevated acid and is well-structured with a long finish. This is a very good new World Chardonnay!

Extra dry, white wine – $18.95 per bottle

Spain ,Rioja – DOCa Rioja Baron de Ley Reserva 2010

For a Reserva from Rioja this is a wine with much life and brightness, not heavily-oaked, brooding and dull. This is a wine full of intense spicy, herbal red and black cherry fruit with well-balanced oak and some signs of maturation – vanilla and leather stand out.  The tannins are finely-grained with a dusty character and there is soft acid to provide balance. The texture is lean and everything about this wine seems to express harmony. Very good with ageing potential for another 3 to 5 years.

Dry, red wine – $21.95 per bottle

Spain, Navarra – DO Navarra Bodegas de La Casa de Lúculo Jardín de Lúculo 2012

Navarra is best known for wines made with Tempranillo and Cabernet Sauvignon. This wine is unusual for the region – it is made from 100% Garnacha (Grenache, in French). You will find plenty of cherry-berry fruit and spice along with bright acid and modest tannins. Overall this is a finely-tuned wine which is balanced (alcohol comes in at a modest 13.5% – light for a single-variety Garnacha wine) and full of life.

Extra dry, red wine – $23.95 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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