Thursday, August 21, 2008

Saturday September 13, 2008 - Vintages Release

As we ready for harvest in Ontario it’s time to look back at where we have come from before we start making the new wines – or that’s the reasoning I can figure for the timing of the LCBO’s annual VQA release. There are 10 wines linked back to my website ( with full reviews – 4 of which already appear in the Vintages magazine. There is also a small Italian IGT release that follows my VQA picks; then we do the other dozen wines I recommend, including two Take a Chance wines,

Ontario …
Wanna know what’s happening in Ontario, then check out my website and sign up for the bi-weekly newsletter – it’s a simple as that. As for the wines that the LCBO is releasing here are the one’s I whole-heartedly recommend.

Magnotta 2006 Vidal Icewine - $29.95 - #0587154

Colio Estate 2005 CEV Cabernet Sauvignon - $19.95 - #0619510
Flat Rock Cellars 2006 Gravity Pinot Noir - $29.95 - #0001560
Henry of Pelham 2007 Gamay - $14.95 - #0291112
Hillebrand 2006 Trius Red - $19.95 - #0303800
Mike Weir Estate 2006 Cabernet/Merlot - $18.95 - #0000109
Pelee Island 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon - $24.95 - #0530576
Peninsula Ridge 2002 Reserve Cabernet Franc - $25.15 - #0086876

Jackson-Triggs 2006 Delaine Vineyard Chardonnay - $19.95 - #0623454 - Weekly Wine Note August 26, 2008
Malivoire 2006 Chardonnay - $21.95 - #0573147

Italy’s IGT …
The IGT designation was started out of necessity in Italy. You see there was a time when there was no IGT (Indicazione Geografica Tipica), there was wines of origin and quality wine designations, but these regions had lots of restrictions on them as to grapes that could be used, etc. So some maverick producers started stretching out of these restrictions – but they could not get the DOC or DOCG designation on their wines that had become recognized world wide. So these Super Tuscans, as they were starting to be known as, were labeled as Vino de Tavola (simple table wine); but these wines were so far above and beyond that description that they required something else. So in 1992 they developed the new IGT designation for those wine makers that were making fabulous wines of quality outside the restrictive older system. And now the LCBO celebrates some of these amazing wines in this release, some are names you may just recognize.

Take, for instance, the Ornellaia Le Volta 2006 ($25.95 - #0964221) … this $26 beauty tastes like a wine that should cost double the price, ripe and juicy, a delicious mix of red and black fruit that has flavours of anise and dark fruit; dry cocoa powder on the finish. Another beauty is the Apollonio Valle Cupa 2001 ($20.95 - #0084046), I think this wine is a steal at $21.00. A fun blend of Negroamaro and Primitivo this wine has intense black cherry and plum notes; there’s also some chocolate follow through into the flavour and smell for good measure. It tastes a touch sweet in the mid palate before it develops its dry dusty finish. The Banfi Centine 2006 ($17.95 – 0947440) is another under-priced spectacular wine. Rich in black fruit, good tannin firmness and ready to sit in your cellar for 5+ years to smooth out that earthy-dustiness. Finally, there’s the Allegrini Palazzo Della Torre 2004 ($24.95 - #0672931) a fruit forward flavourful red which is ultimately sippable right now; its well balanced with its red fruit, plum and cherry oriented tastes.

As far as the rest of the world goes, here they are, in alphabetical order:

Australia … Red …
Penfolds Bin 28 Kalima Shiraz ($34.95 - #0422782) – the notes in the mag say “good value”, while I can think of better values I can’t take away from this big, bold, black fruit monster that’s got herbs, spice and oak to spare. Age it a few years to bring out its smoother nature.

Austria … White …
Johanneshof Reinisch Sauvignon Blanc 2007 ($19.95 - #0089466) – not a grape often associated with Austria but they’ve done a good job on this one. Good citrus, nice lemon finish and a restrained bit of grassiness.

Chile … Red …
Intriga 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon ($19.95 - #0057901) – spicy chocolate, good black fruit and a very nice finish.
Santa Carolina 2006 Barrica Selection Merlot (#14.95 - #0027276) – good value in a reserve style Merlot. Lots of Merlot characteristics like spice and black fruit … can lie down for another 5+ years; if drinking now, decanting is recommended.
Tamaya 2005 Reserve Merlot/Cabernet Sauvignon/Syrah ($12.95 - #0062497) – incredible value … very fruity and well priced. This one is not going to blow you away but it sure as heck won’t disappoint either, smooth and delicious big on red fruit, full on taste.

France … Red …
(Rhone) – Alain Jaume & Fils Close de Sixte 2005 ($26.95 - #0076349) – three good Rhone wines are on offer, but I liked this one the best. First it’s the price but after that you have to like the red/black fruit mix and nice robust cherry sweet oak finish.

France … White …
(Alsace) – Willm Gewurztraminer Clos Gaensbroennel 2002 ($32.95 - #0308601) – the most interesting wine in this release. There’s a heavy bite of spice with some petrol, which highlights what happens to a Gewurzt when it ages. In the mouth there is an interesting sweetness and fun spiciness … it’s a cool wine but I have no idea where you would drink it or with what to serve it with. Neat little bit of sweetness.
(Loire) – Roger et Didier Raimbault Sancerre 2006 ($26.95 – 0082255) – a great Sauvignon Blanc so far removed from New Zealand that die hard Kiwi-lovers will have a hard time recognizing the grape. Nice freshness, a touch of sweet-kissed wood and fresh mown lawn with a great finish.

Germany … White …
Loosen Bros. Dr. L. Riesling 2007 ($14.95 -#0599174) – still one of the best value Rieslings on the LCBO shelves. Great taste, beautiful nose, lots of apple, nice lemon … from the front palate to the final lengthy finish this one is great.

Italy … Red …
(Veneto) – Michele Castellani Campo Casalin Amarone della Valpolicella Classico 2006 ($50.95 – 0946558) – when you hear people talking about the smoothness and deliciousness of Amarone, this is the kind of wine they are referring to. Smooth and plumy, black cherry and chocolate, rich, juicy and delicious. Sure it’s pricy but this is an exceptional wine.

Italy … White …
(Friuli) – Attems Cicinis 2006 ($29.95 - #0075432) – Speaking of exceptional, it seems the Italians may have a lock on that this release, with both reds and whites that out-perform their price-point. This white blend delivers good apple, some peach, vanilla woodsy finish with a touch of butter and creamy caramel can also be found in there. Yum – Mee.

Spain … Red …
Bodegas Castano Hecula Monastrell 2005 ($13.95 - #0718999) – I recommended this a few months ago when it was a $1 less and said it was great value; it’s still good value at a buck higher … buy it by the case and enjoy.
Onix Fusio 2006 ($27.95 – 0074872) – there’s a nice dark chocolate nose to this one that follows into the mouth with nice fruit and soft oak.
Raimat Vina 43 Tempranillo 2004 ($16.95 - #0743039) – super smooth and tasty, my notes say “yummy and juicy” red fruit, plumy, spicy, herbed – lots going on here, it’s sippable, enjoyable and not too expensive. Simply lovely.

USA … Red …
(California) – Jacuzzi Primitivo 2005 ($18.95 - #0067736) – Zinfandel’s Italian brother comes to California in this tasty little treat. It is a refined version of the usual plumy jammy Zins of California, sure there’s still lots of fruit, with chocolate and plum being the most dominant, but this one shows a bit of old world elegance.

Ports and Sherries …
Spain – Emilio Lustau East India Solera Sherry ($16.95 / 375ml - #0713636) – Sweet sherry with a copper colour, the taste of hazelnuts and almonds and a toffee/caramel finish – and even with all that it somehow manages to finish dry. Lovely for dessert or with cheese, dried fruits and nuts.

Take a Chance on Me …
Usually I recommend something that’s good value and tasty that you would not otherwise think of, this time I have two things to point you in the direction of, and that’s because I just couldn’t make up my mind as to which was more interesting. First there’s the Portal Lagrima Port ($17.95 - #0642397 - Portugal), a sweet white port that tasted of honeyed spiced peachs with a touch of apple, a sweet sensation; and very different from the usual white ports I’ve tried. My other selection may seem a little more straight forward, L.A. Cetto 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon ($10.95 - #0405597 – Mexico), a very Zin-like nose with a plumy taste, a very sippable bbq red, not for everyone’s taste, but if you look at the price you won’t mind passing this around at that last bbq gathering of summer, just to gauge others opinions on a Mexican wine.

Grape Guy Top 3 … what I’ll be lining up for on September 13, 2008
Loosen Bros. 2007 Dr. L Riesling - $14.95 - #0599274 – Germany
Tamaya 2005 Reserve Merlot/Cabernet Sauvignon/Syrah - $12.95 - #0062497 – Chile
Apollonio Valle Cupa 2001 - $20.95 - #0084046 - Italy

Happy Shopping.

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