LCBO Vintages release – April 16, 2016 (WVN 235)

Spring has sprung – for a couple of days at least. For the wine lover this brings on visions of strawberry-laden rosés and crisp, light whites. Unfortunately, as the LCBO takes a cautious approach in its buying practices we have to postpone our rewards for another release or two before the wines of spring hit the shelves. Hence we will focus this weekend on what can be best-called transition wines – the wines that get us through the weeks where it’s not too cold but not yet warm enough to change our diet for the warmer season.

We have an eclectic regional representation in my value picks this release.  This is what I like and I hope you do too!  This said, note the upward price creep… not good.

Ontario, Niagara – VQA Twenty Mile Bench Vineland Estates Elevation St. Urban Riesling 2014

First, a bit of tangled history: the Schmidt brothers, Allan and Brian, are the stewards of Vineland Estates and sons of Lloyd Schmidt, founder of Sumac Ridge winery in the Okanagan Valley and an early importer of vinifera vinestock in the 1970’s. The early vinifera vines of Vineland Estates were planted by founder, Hermann Weis, a German grower who pioneered what has become one of our champion varieties – Riesling – on the St. Urban plot. These vines date from the late 1970’s, old vines by Ontario standards.  This wine is a finely-tuned beauty with low alcohol, elevated acidity and wonderful citrus fruit, honey, stony minerals and a long, clean finish. Beautiful, classic and wonderful value.  Buy lots!

Medium-sweet, white wine – $19.95 per bottle

France, Bordeaux – AOC Graves Château Haut Selve 2012

This wine is now a regular at Vintages and a regular value selection here at TWR. This is blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot and reflects the quality and approachability that are my reference points for the wines of Graves. It is a bright, fruit-forward wine with modest oak treatment and solid structure considering the price. The palate is rich with red and black berry fruit, earth notes which denote some development and crisp acid. Hold for a year or two and serve with grilled meats.

Extra dry, red wine – $24.95 per bottle

Greece, Santorini – PDO Assyrtiko Argyros 2015

Stand back, this is a hefty white that deserves room. It is intense and concentrated with exceptional structure, complexity and character. Here you will find oodles of citrus fruit, spice, herbs, honey and astringent, chalky minerals. This wine will take you back to the heat and sunshine of the Greek islands without the airfare. Serve with Mediterranean salads and grilled white fish.

Extra dry, white wine – $22.95 per bottle

Italy, Tuscany – DOCG Morellino di Scansano Terre di Talamo Tempo 2012

If you have not heard of Morellino de Scansano, that’s OK. Let me explain: Morellino is the local name – on the southwest coast of Tuscany – for the grape known elsewhere in Tuscany as Sangiovese.  It has the character of a classic Sangiovese (think Chianti) with medium-light weight, crisp, tart acid, modest dusty tannins, bright red cherry fruit.  In other words, this is a great wine for food, especially pastas in tomato sauce, or a tray of prosciutto.

Extra dry, red wine – $ 21.95 per bottle

California, Napa Valley – Robert Mondavi Fumé Blanc 2014

Here we have another favourite of TWR, a blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon, fermented and briefly matured in oak. This is an intense and complex wine which gains more complexity than wood effect from the oak treatment – good news! To the eye, the colour is very pale but behind this modest exterior lies a surprising wine which will delight. It is bright and crisp with green apple, lemon, spice and smoke (hence fumé). The acid is assertive and contributes to a delightful experience. Serve on its own or with roast chicken.

Extra dry, white wine – $22.95 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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