LCBO Vintages release – March 18, 2017 (WVN 258)

This weekend’s release delivers a number of fine values and this nice turn of events has prompted me to add a couple of wines to the traditional WVN roster of five recommended high-value wines. Enjoy!

France. Midi – AOC Minervois Chateau de Sérame Minervois Reserve du Château 2010

The Minervois appellation is one of my favourites in the Languedoc region.  The wines generally have more structure than those from most other zones in this part of France – partly because many vines are planted at elevations high enough for some night-time cooling and – because of an appellation-wide focus on quality in the vineyard and winery, both. Ch. de Sérame is a negociant blend of Mourvèdre (37%) with Grenache, Syrah and Carignan.  This assemblage provides a substantial body and firm texture that give much more interest than often found in the fleshy, ripe, fruit-rich wines from the Midi. The fruit is concentrated with blueberry, plum, and black cherry notes. There is a rustic character with evolving notes of chocolate and savoury elements along with herbal aromas that define the place.  This is an excellent wine.

Extra dry, red wine – $16.95 per bottle

France, Rhône – AOC Côtes du Rhone Guigal Blanc 2015

Guigal is an old-reliable maker whose wines run the gamut from northern Rhône super premium estate wines to everyday wines made from bought fruit grown in the south. This white is a delightful demonstration of the entry-level Guigal effort: light, floral aromatics. expressive fruit, fleshy mouth feel, crisp acid and a long finish. This is an elegant wine that would be a fine accompaniment for Easter dinner or patio dining late in spring.

Extra dry, white wine – $19.95 per bottle

France, Southern Rhône – AOC Châteauneuf-du-Pape Château La Nerthe 2013

Château La Nerthe – the château

Château La Nerthe is a true 18th century building reminiscent of the great buildings of Bordeaux wine country. This is unusual in the Rhône, if not throughout most of non-Bordeaux France, but, so too, are the wines of La Nerthe. The winemakers at La Nerthe have been blessed by the benevolence of the Richard family, who purchased the property in the 1980’s, who permit careful vineyard management and attentive, precise wine making; these elements combine to define the elegant and noble wines made at this place. This wine is a beauty and may be the best in many years: it has bright, delicate red and black berry fruit, noble structure with medium weight, crisp acid and velvet tannins and a long finish.  This wine will develop further with time in the bottle – give it 10 years, but drink now it you can’t wait. If you question why this wine makes my list, consider the quality I describe and consider that another great wine of the appellation, Château de Beaucastel (also housed in a true château), sells typically at $90 per bottle.

Extra dry, red wine – $52.95 per bottle

Italy, Veneto – DOC Soave Classico Pieropan 2015

Without checking my notes I don’t think I have recommended a Soave since I began writing these notes in late 2005: “never say never”, they say. Many Soave wines are insipid with little character nor structure.  They are made for immediate consumption with over-cropped grapes and in the process have done damage to the reputation of the zone, damage that is under repair with stricter regulations and a more granular system of classification that distinguishes better sub-zones from the rest. Pieropan is an example of the effects of these positive interventions with oodles of fruit, juicy acid, firm minerals and a light salinity reflecting the limestone substrate in the zone. Citrus, stone fruit and honey dominate the nose and palate.  The finish is crisp and clean.

Extra dry, white wine – $18.95 per bottle

Italy, Tuscany – DOCG Chianti Classico Borgo Scopeto 2013

This is a classic Classico. It has red cherry fruit, grainy, dry tannins and oodles of crisp acid. For the price you shouldn’t expect complexity but what this wine lacks on that front it makes up in refinement. Match  with pasta in tomato sauce and you have a match made in heaven.

Extra dry, red wine – $18.95 per bottle

Spain, Conca de Barberà – DO Conca de Barberà Cor Nord Red 2014

Conca de Barberà is a small denominación located inland in Catalonia, long known for quality fruit but not until recently for wines locally made with that fruit. Cor Nord Red amply demonstrates the potential of this region with a combination of expressive, approachable character at an exceptional price. This wine is a blend of Garnacha and Syrah with a small amount of an indigenous variety. The body is full, the fruit is ripe and bright, the texture is soft with ripe grainy tannins and the acid is bright. The structure is notable at the price and the finish is long. If you want to go off-piste for an exploration, this is a safe wine for your travels.

Extra dry, red wine – $ 18.95 per bottle

Portugal, Dão – DOC Dão Adro da Sé Reserva 2012

Here we have a classic northern Portugal red – big fruit, structure that keeps on giving and a modest price. The fruit is intense and shows very deep ruby in the glass. The wine is a blend dominated by Touriga Nacional and Tinta Roriz and displays flavours of stewed plum, black cherry and blackberry.  The tannins are assertive and the acid is juicy. The wine has received oak treatment and this adds complexity but doesn’t diminish the assertive fruit. This wine will develop harmony with a couple of years in the bottle but can be enjoyed now with roasts and grilled red meats

Extra dry, red wine – $15.95 per bottle

à bientôt…

Copyright© W. John Switzer 2003 – 2017.

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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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