Thursday, March 31, 2011

Vintages Wine Selections for the April 2nd Release

In this release the LCBO features the wines of the French Bourgogne (Burgundy) and South Africa. While many of the great Bourgogne wines are out of our price range, I was still able to find several in the $15 to $25 range. The red burgundies are made from the pinot noir grape and the whites are chardonnay. What gives these wines such great character are the limestone soils on the hilly slopes and the cool climate. When I visited this region over 10 years ago, I was quite surprised to see that it was contained in such a small area. The wine-growing part of this area in the heart of Burgundy is just 40 kilometres long, and in most places less than 2 kilometres wide, hosting more than 3,000 wine producing domaines. The area is made up of tiny villages surrounded by a combination of flat and sloped vineyards on the eastern side of a hilly region, providing some rain and weather shelter from the prevailing westerly winds. The best wines - from "Grand Cru" vineyards - of this region are usually grown from the middle and higher part of the slopes, where the vineyards have the most exposure to sunshine and the best drainage, while the "Premier Cru" come from a little less favourably exposed slopes. The relatively ordinary "Village" wines are produced from the flat territory nearer the villages.

Most wine aficionados will agree that some of the best reds in the world, are the aged wines of Bourgogne. They display a distinct ‘barnyard’ nose, are a deep burnt red in colour and they will last on your pallet for a very long period of time. So, if the opportunity arises, buy one of the Grand Cru wines and age it properly for 10 years or more. The wait will certainly be worth it.

Finally, before I list this week’s selections, beginning this week, I will now feature a special recipe in each blog. Several of the Burgundy wines recommended this week, suggest food pairing with either duck or Coq au Vin. The Coq au Vin is a delicious recipe that includes a whole bottle of wine in the recipe and please remember, that when cooking with wine don`t go cheap. Cook with the same wine that you will pair with the meal. Please click on this link to download the recipe for Coq au Vin:

Selections for $20 to $25

Domaine Gille Côtes De Nuits Villages 2008, Ac, Prop. Récolt.; Burgundy, France
LCBO #210864; Rating – 91; $24.95

Excellent Burgundy for the price. A beautiful medium weight wine that`s packed with flavour and has excellent length. Serve with coq au Vin.

Alain Geoffroy Beauroy Chablis 1er Cru 2008, Ac; Burgundy, France
LCBO #733501; Rating – 89, $24.95

This vibrant and well-structured wine is a great value for a 1er Cru Chablis. Pairs well with any shellfish or seafood dish. Drink now or even cellar for 3 to 5 years.

Domaine Louis Moreau Chablis 2009, Ac; Burgundy, France
LCBO #124305; Rating – 89; $22.95

Very typical Chablis that is subtle, stony-mineral and with decent depth and intensity on the palate. Great for sipping or pairs well with shellfish or poached trout.

Red Wines for under $20

Rivera Cappellaccio Riserva Aglianico 2005, Doc Castel Del Monte; Puglia, Italy
LCBO #984120; Rating – 90; $18.95

A dark, bold and savoury wine that is medium-full bodied. Above average intensity and excellent length. Will benefit from another year in the cellar. Pair with bold, rich dishes.

Umani Ronchi San Lorenzo Rosso Conero 2007, Doc; Marche, Italy
LCBO #981191; Rating – 89; $15.95

John Szabo describes it as clean, ripe, fruity, delicately oaky, elegant, fresh and floral; black pepper and says it is a really fine drinking wine at a nice price.

The Oak Valley Blend 2005, Wo Elgin; South Africa
LCBO #214361; Rating – 88; $16.95

A Bordeaux style blend of primarily merlot and 27% cabernet franc. Dense and elegant with very good flavour depth. Drinkable now, but one or two years of aging will help to soften the tannins.

Domaine Roux Père & Fils Côte De Beaune Villages 2009, Ac; Burgundy, France
LCBO #208520; Rating – 88; $17.95

Simple and well priced Burgundy. Dry, medium bodied and balanced acidity. Try paired with grilled tuna, herbed steaks or roast duck.

Rocca Delle Macìe Chianti Classico Riserva 2006, Docg; Tuscany, Italy
LCBO #111641; Rating – 88; $15.95

Great value for a sumptuous red from Italy. Lots of fruit and finesse for the price. Try with cioppino (Italian fish soup).

Ortas Tradition Côtes Du Rhone Villages Rasteau 2009, Ac; Rhone, France
LCBO #998716; Rating – 88; $15.00

A young plumy and rich Rhone that is simple but still classic. Very serious wine for the money. Try it now or age for 2 or 3 years.

White Wines for Under $20

Kendall Jackson Vintner's Reserve Chardonnay 2008, California, USA
LCBO #369686; Rating – 89; $19.95 for 750ml; $11.95 for 375ml

A very pleasant and rich wine that is not over powered with oak. Nice balance and very good to excellent length. Will pair nicely with poached salmon and dill sauce.

Pelee Island Winery Vendange Tardive Pinot Gris 2008, VQA Pelee Island; Ontario, Canada
LCBO #224196; Rating – 88; $16.95

Medium gold colour with notes of apple blossom, peach and apricot. Very good length. Nice for sipping or serve with salmon or chicken accompanied with a peach-mango salsa.

Domaine Saint Saturnin De Vergy Bourgogne Hautes Côtes De Nuits Blanc 2009, Ac; Burgundy, France
LCBO #128686; Rating – 88; $18.95

A clean fresh French Chardonnay that is medium weight and delicately oaked. Easy drinking with very good to excellent length. Good entry level burgundy. Serve with classic roast chicken.

Friday, March 18, 2011

LCBO / Vintages - March 19, 2011 Release

In the upcoming March 19th release there are over 65 wines rated at 88 and higher of these 26 are under $20. With so many great wines to choose from, it can be difficult to select just ten or twelve, so this week I will select a few more wines than normal, including some big price tag items, that would be fabulous for a special occasion or to share with your wine loving friends.

Great Wines - Top of Class / High Rating / High Price

The top California wineries feature some of their best products on this release. Caymus, Opus One and Robert Mondavi all have wines rated at 92+ that sell in a range of $120 to $180 per bottle. I remember buying the Mondavi reserve in the mid-90’s for $50/bottle. It was a truly great wine and was even better after it was aged for an additional 10 years. Unfortunately, I drank the last bottle over a year ago L. I have had the Opus One on several occasions and I fondly remember touring the winery 15 years ago and enjoying several glasses after the tour. Opus is truly unique in that they employ the most advanced scientific techniques and equipment to produce a wine that is similar from vintage to vintage regardless of the climate changes within those years. While some oenophiles may think this is a tad boring, I would never turn down a glass or two.

All that aside, if I were to select just one from this outstanding list, what would I suggest?

Mission Hill Quatrain 2006, VQA Okanagan Valley; British Columbia, Canada
#218636; Rating – 92; $44.95

This is a blend of 41% Syrah, 32% Merlot, 14% Cabernet Franc, 13% Cabernet Sauvignon that is dark in colour, full bodied and with excellent to outstanding finish. Wine writer David Lawrason states that this wine compares equally well with the big California reds from Mondavi, Opus and Caymus …and at a fraction of the price. Decant now and serve with Lamb or age and wait another two or three years.

Value Wines – Under $30

Château Preuillac 2006, Ac Médoc; Bordeaux, France
# 713925; Rating – 89; $29.95

A wonderful left bank Bordeaux from the 2006 vintage. A medium-full bodied wine that you can drink now or age for another 1 to 5 years. A good value from Bordeaux.

Hamilton Russell Chardonnay 2009, Hemel En Aarde Valley, Do Walker Bay; South Africa
#931006; Rating – 91; $29.95

A clean, classy, elegant and refined style in an old world style. Terrific complexity, medium-full bodied and long finish that will age gracefully. This is typically $10 more than I would pay for a good chardonnay, but try a bottle and cellar it for a few years. It’s good value and similar California wines sell for 50% more. Serve with free range roast chicken or grilled salmon. Make sure to compare it with your favourite $15 chardonnay to see the difference.

Domaine De Riaux Pouilly Fumé 2009, Ac; Loire, France
#200063; Rating – 90; $22.95

Pouilly Fumé is derived from the sauvignon blanc grape. This is great value compared to its neighbour in Sancerre. It’s mid-weight, complex and with excellent finish. Try it with lightly spiced shrimp or calamari with a dash of lemon.

Sparkling under $20

Domaine Roger Luquet Blanc De Blancs Crémant De Bourgogne, Ac; Burgundy, France
#957894; Rating – 88; $19.95

Above average complexity and good value for the price. From Burgundy made in the Champagne style.

Rosé – It’s worth a try!

Prieuré De Montezargues Tavel Rosé 2009, Ac; Rhone, France
#216390; Rating – 90; $19.95

This is not the Rose that your Grandmother would drink …this is the real McCoy! Great depth of flavour and full body. Fruity but not sweet. Great value. A must for warm patio days, try it on its own well chilled or with smoked salmon or cold lamb salad.

Value Reds under $20

Cistus Reserva 2007, Doc Douro; Portugal
#145052; Rating – 89; $18.95

This is a big, generous full bodied red made from a blend of classic port grapes. Nice balance and length. This would pair nicely with a robust beef stew or aged cheese.

Beringer Founders' Estate Shiraz 2009; California, USA
#919654; Rating – 89; $19.95

Wonderful concentrated flavours made in the style of French Syrah. Very good length and good value. Serve with a slow cooked roast of beef.

D'arenberg The High Trellis Cabernet Sauvignon 2007, Mclaren Vale, South Australia
#943456; Rating – 88; $19.95

Nicely complex, medium-full bodied with good to excellent length.

Rocca Di Castagnoli Tenuta Di Capraia Chianti Classico 2007, Docg; Tuscany, Italy
#135277; Rating 88; $18.95

This is classic Chianti Classico. Dry, full bodied with decent length. Serve with a nice Italian meat dish.

Montebuena 2009, Doca Rioja; Spain
#211029; Rating – 88; $12.95

100% Tempranilla with dark colour and outstanding concentration. A sneak preview of the 2009 Vintage in Rioja. Great value and will drink well for 6 – 8 years.

Cave De Monterail Côtes Du Rhône Villages Séguret 2009, Ac; Rhone, France
#195065; Rating – 88; $13.95

A medium bodied Rhone, dry with nice layering. The finish is full, rich and long. Great value. Pick up a few bottles for summer quaffing.

Villa Ponciago Beaujolais Villages 2009, Ac; Beaujolais, France
#207449; Rating – 88; $15.95

Fragrant, flavourful Gamay from Beaujolais with medium body, balanced acidity. Very good length. Serve with a slight chill with steak frites.

Value White Wines under $20

Studert Prüm Riesling Kabinett 2009, Qmp, Wehlener Sonnenuhr; Mosel-Saar-Ruwer, Germany
#970129; Rating – 90; $18.95

A fine German Riesling. Beautifully balanced, light fruit flavours and excellent length.

Varanda Do Conde Alvarinho/Trajadura Vinho Verde 2009, Doc, Sub Região Monção E Melgaço; Portugal
#966663; Rating – 89; $13.95

A fine, complex and zesty young white. Grapefruit flavours, good length and great value.

Morgan Sauvignon Blanc 2009, Monterey California, USA
#411488; Rating – 89; $18.95

Medium light, attractive, floral. Highly recommended.

Famille Bougrier Grande Réserve Touraine Sauvignon Blanc 2009, Ac; Loire, France
#196733; Rating – 88; $14.95

This region is home to some of the world’s finest sauvignon blanc, and this is no exception. Fresh. Lively and very good length. Great value. Try with pan seared scallops and grilled asparagus.

Friday, March 4, 2011

March 5th Vintages Release at the LCBO

Vintages Release for March 5, 2011

This release has some wines in the over $20 range that are quite wonderful, but I’m focusing on the under $20 products that are drinkable now.

Try a few of these great values and pass this link on to all of your wine loving friends. Have a great weekend ...Greg

Red Wines

Concha Y Toro Maycas Del Limari Reserva Syrah 2009; Limarí Valley Chile
#209916; Rating – 91; $14.95

You can’t go wrong with a $15 wine that is rated so high. This is clearly the best value of the release and I’m sure it will go quickly. Full bodied, dense, complex and a great finish. Try it now or let it sit for a year or two and it will get even better.

Perrin & Fils Les Sinards Châteauneuf Du Pape 2007; Ac; Rhone, France
#5975; Rating – 90; $19.95

Solid value for this full bodied red. Very good finish. Drinkable now or cellar for up to 10 years.

Spy Valley Pinot Noir 2009; Marlborough New Zealand
#203752; Rating – 89; $12.95 for 375 ml half bottle

A nice treat for an evening by yourself. Medium bodied that will go well with roast pork or roast chicken.

Tabalí Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon 2008; Limarí Valley Chile
#58446; Rating – 89; $14.95

Another great value wine to try this month. Very typical cabernet structure and character. Enjoy over the next five years with grilled meats.

La Cova Dels Vins Ombra 2006, Doc Montsant; Spain
#132589; Rating – 89; $16.95

A wonderful blend of garnacha, carinena and cabernet sauvignon, that may remind you of pinot noir. Mid-weight, excellent length and value and will show best form 2012 to 2017.

Terre Di Rubinoro Vino Nobile Di Montepulciano 2006, Docg; Tuscany, Italy
#206862; Rating – 89; $17.95

An Intriguing blend of Sangiovese, Canaiolo, and Mammolo, full bodied, earthy with a full finish. A very good wine for the money that will drink well from now to 2015.

Mas Des Bressades Cuvée Tradition 2009, Ac Costières De Nîmes; Rhone, France
#143099; Rating – 88; $14.95

A dark syrah, grenache blend that is very peppery and floral. It’s medium weight with very good to excellent length that will carry through over the next 4 to 5 years. Try with a nice rib eye steak with a peppercorn sauce. At this price it’s worth a try.

Vaeni Naoussa Xinomavro Damaskinos 2004; Greece
#60731; Rating – 88; $13.95

Step outside your comfort zone and try something different. An old world style red similar to sangiovese, traditional rioja or nebbiolo. Very good finish and will age well for 5+ years. Excellent value.

White Wines

S. Cristina Massoni Lugana 2009, Doc; Lombardy, Italy
#200097; Rating – 90; $17.95

Lugana is another name for Trebbiano di Soave, the second most widely planted grape in the world. This white has a fresh floral and citrus nose. Will pair well with Mediterranean lemon chicken or a risotto with shrimp, leek or spinach.

Concha Y Toro Maycas Del Limari Reserva Especial Chardonnay 2007, Limarí Valley; Chile
#162040; Rating – 90; $19.95

This is Concho Y Toro’s special reserve. It’s light to mid-weight chardonnay with load of flavour and excellent finish. It will get better over the next 18 months.

Cave Spring Estate Bottled Gewürztraminer 2009, VQA Beamsville Bench, Niagara Peninsula; Ontario
#302059; Rating – 89; $16.95

Medium bodied, floral, with citrus notes. Well balanced. For those that have not tried a “Gewurz” it is an excellent pairing with any Asian cuisine (Thai, Chinese, Indian). Order some takeout and give it a whirl.

Chavet Menetou Salon Blanc 2009, Ac; Loire, France
#525048; Rating – 88; $13.95

This is wonderful Sauvignon Blanc from the famous Loire Valley. We don’t get access to many of these good wines, so this is one to grab. From the LCBO’s description: “Gold Medal winner at the prestigious 2010 Concours Général Agricole in Paris. This vibrant wine showcases all the crispness, citrus fruit and herbaceous fresh-cut grass character that characterizes Sauvignon Blanc from the Loire. A food-friendly white that will delight with herbed chicken, or seafood dishes.”