LCBO Vintages release – July 23, 2016 (WVN 242)

This weekend’s best-value selections represent an eclectic cross-section of Old- and New World wines. Nice.

New Zealand, Marlborough – Villa Maria Cellar Selection Pinot Gris 2015

I think the Marlborough zone of the South Island suffers an unfortunate, narrow identity due to the overwhelming regional association with Sauvignon Blanc that has developed over the past 20+ years. This cool zone is home to some wonderfully aromatic whites made from Riesling and Pinot Gris, as well as noble Pinot Noir and Chardonnay wines – few of which we see due to the limited attention LCBO buyers give to wines made in this place with these varieties.  This Villa Maria is a fine example of what can be done: it has a rich texture, ample, concentrated fruit and fine balance.  Aromas and flavours of pear, peach, honey and lees dominate the senses.  There is a fine balance of acid and residual sugar and a long finish.  This is a beauty.

Dry, white wine – $19.95 per bottle

Italy, Umbria – DOC Rosso Di Torgiano Lungarotti Rubesco Sangiovese/Colorino 2012

This wine is modern ancestor of a General List staple from the late 1970’s to late-80’s  (…in 1981 the 750 ml bottle sold for $5.75). Rubesco remains a great value from those days and shows the characteristic inviting fruit and sound balance that I associate with wines from this under-appreciated region of central Italy. It has bright red berry and cherry fruit, round tannins, juicy acid and modest alcohol.  The structure is well-honed and the appeal will be universal when matched with, grilled steak, pasta in meat sauce or pizza.

Extra dry, red wine – $17.95 per bottle

France, Provence – AOC Bandol Hecht & Bannier Rosé 2015

To everyone’s chagrin wines from the small Bandol appellation are rare in these parts.  The reasons for the rare sightings are simple: the appellation is very small so there’s not a lot of wine available; the grape in these wines is Mourvèdre, which is not mainstream, is usually used in blends and on its own is not to everyone’s liking; and, of course, the wines of Bandol can be pricy.  All this said, this is a serious rosé which deserves your attention.  It is a blend of Mourvèdre with some Grenache and Cinsault – a blend of the south of France.  It is more deeply-coloured than the typical onion-skin rosés of Provence and has more heft on the palate – both good things! The palate is rich with red berry fruit, citrus, apple and spice.  It is concentrated and crisp with a long finish.  This is a wine not just for summer patio dinners but one which will do well with poached salmon in mid-February.

Extra dry, rosé wine – $24.95 per bottle

Chile, Limarí Valley – Santa Rita Medalla Real Syrah 2012

I have often observed on this site that Syrah is the black grape with the greatest potential in Chile, especially in the cool coastal Limarí region.  This wine is a fine example of the potential of Syrah with marginally too-much extract but which otherwise shows the savoury, black fruit, spicy, herbal Syrah of the Old World.  The ripe, extracted treatment suggests you need to match this wine with something hearty like a beef stew, brisket or braised ribs. There is plenty of acid so this is not a flabby New World-style wine and there is a fine tannic character to lend some firm structure and lend to an overall full-bodied balance.

Extra dry, red wine – $17.95 per bottle

Spain, Bierzo – DO Bierzo Merayo Las Tres Filas Mencia 2014

This is a tangy, juicy wine with floral notes on the nose and plenty of red – and blue berry fruit on the palate.  Wines made with the Mencia grape are normally meant for early consumption but this wine has a tannic character which warrants some time to soften before it hits its peak.  The fruit and acid are assertive so the structure will support ageing over the next two or three years. This is a brilliant and bright food-friendly wine which will be worth the wait.

Extra dry, red wine – $19.95 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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