LCBO Vintages release – December 10, 2016 (WVN 251)

This weekend marks the last Vintages release of 2016 and thus the last before the Christmas and New year’s holiday celebrations.  There are some 160 distinct products offered in this release and if it isn’t the largest release ever, it must be close to this lofty achievement.

As fits the LCBO release pattern this last release of the season may also be the most expensive of the year. This, of course, creates challenges for the value buyer, especially if their budget is constrained by other holiday demands.

TWR comes to your rescue and I list below my biweekly handful of fine values, with an eye to seeking the best matches for your holiday meals.

Enjoy (and shop early)!

Ontario, Niagara – VQA Niagara-on-the-Lake Château des Charmes Old Vines Cabernet/Merlot 2012

I generally believe Ontario is not very good at red Bordeaux blends – there are some exceptions but these are among the super-premium producers who only make these wines in years where there is enough heat to ripen the Cabernet Sauvignon grapes. Otherwise we end up with wines that are thin, green and not what one wants.  The 2012 vintage in Ontario was hot and this wine is a testament to what heat will do for this blend: it is ripe with intense black fruit – cherry, blackberry and cassis – herbal notes and the character one would seek from that special part of France that is Bordeaux.  While the fruit is still bright, there are signs of development with savoury and earth notes on the nose and palate. The structure is very fine with assertive tannins which are showing soft character, juicy acid and a fullish body with a long finish. This is an exceptional value from a long-time local maker of solid wines.

Extra dry, red-wine – $21.95 per bottle

France, Burgundy – AOC Mâcon-Bussières les Clos Joseph Drouhin 2014

Call wines from the Maconnais poor person’s Burgundy and you diminish this fine effort from an under-rated, high-value zone; in fact, this is a wine from a very small named village where almost all fruit grown is purchased by Drouhin. I always find whites from the Macon full of bright, taut acid and this wine delivers. It has modest oak treatment so the fruit still shines but on a bed of toast, spice and light vanilla. The palate is concentrated with yellow apple, lemon and leesy notes.  The finish is long, crisp and clean. Buy a few bottles – this is a great value.

Extra dry, white wine – $20.95 per bottle

Australia, Victoria – Tahblik Nagambie Lakes Marsanne 2015

Marsanne is a mainstay white grape in the Rhône valley, best found in blends in the great crus of the northern Rhône.  Tahlbik has become a successful proponent of this wonderful grape and grows exceptional fruit on old vines in cool central Victoria. This is a correct version of Marsanne with flesh on the palate, modest alcohol, tree fruit and citrus aromas and flavours.  This version has a some pleasing tropical and spice notes which lend complexity and overall appeal. As with all Marsanne wines this Tahblik will evolve into a more complex and interesting wine but it can be enjoyed now with food or as an aperitif.

Dry, white wine – $17.95 per bottle

Australia, South Australia – Wynns Coonawarra Estate Chardonnay 2015

This is an unoaked Chardonnay which will remind many readers of a reductive Chablis: brilliant acid, citrus and tree fruit, along with no wood treatment. It is clean, crisp and linear with expressive fruit, modest alcohol and exceptional balance between the elements: fruit, acid and alcohol.  This is a beauty and will be a wonderful accompaniment to a juicy turkey.

Extra dry, white wine – 17.95 per bottle

Italy, Piedmont – DOCG Gattinara Traviglini 2010

Gattinara is a wine made from the noble grape of Piedmont, Nebbiolo, the same grape used in the great wines from the region: Barolo and Barbaresco.  Gattinara comes from a zone further north than its more esteemed cousins and cannot be compared with these more expensive and sought-after wines.  While Gattinara shows the floral aromatics and flavour profile of the Nebbiolo grape it does not have the heft and structure we would expect from say, a Barolo.  Now that we have positioned this wine a lesser version of the Piedmont style, let’s give it its due: it is full of red cherry fruit, savoury notes and leather, all befitting its early-stage development. It has an elegant character with medium-weight body, lean acid and firm, sleek tannins.  The finish is long.  This will be a good match for roasted red or white meats.

Extra dry, red wine – $29.95 per bottle

à bientôt…

Copyright© W. John Switzer 2003 – 2016.