So many wines…so little time!!
The July 9, 2016 LCBO vintage release actually focused on great value wines. How lucky for us! After scouring various reviews here is what I am buying for summer sippers and some mini-tasting scenarios. If you try them I would love for you to leave your comments below!
Domaine de la Tourmaline Muscadet Sevre & Maine Sur Lie 2014
LCBO 448555 $13.95
Muscadets are typically clean, bright whites. This one is described as light and crisp. Sur Lie means the wine was aged a bit longer on the lees (sediment left behind after fermentation) which imparts more flavour to the wine. This process is typically applied to Muscadet, Chardonnay and Champagne. It can soften the perception of oakiness and simply add a clean creaminess. Richard Hemming of jancisrobinson.com calls this one ‘a cut above superior’.
Update Sept 25, 2016: We had this with the Mango Shrimp Cups and it was delicious. It is bone-dry and refreshing. This is a ‘service’ wine… will support chicken, seafood, salads, cheeses. Serve with food for a clean, bright universally appealing wine at a very reasonable price.
LCBO 400440 $14.95
Another great value wine. Prosecco is sparkling wine, generally a bit lighter, in the 9% alcohol range, which makes it perfect for brunch or as an aperatif. Wineandspiritsmagazine.com describes it as ‘fragrant with green pear, lavender and honeycomb scents’, scoring it as a 90.
Mount Riley Limited Release Sauvignon Blanc 2015
LCBO 447425 $18.95
New Zealand is one of the foremost producers of Sauvignon Blanc (think Kim Crawford’s popularity). I think Sauvignon Blanc is a bit of an acquired taste…but for those that appreciate the herbal, mineral qualities of Sauvignon Blanc this is fantastic value. Bob Campbell scored this as a 95, indicating the Limited Release label indicates an even greater intensity and greater range of tropical fruit and herbal varietal flavours than the regular label.
There are a number of great values in the reds of this release. And there are some that would make great opportunities for ‘mini-tastings’.
Antiche Terre Venete Ripasso Valpolicella 2013
LCBO 178459 $16.95
Ripasso is known as the poor man’s Amarone. Ripassos get a flavour boost by being passed over the lees left over from the fermentation of the bigger Amarone wine. This one is great value, scored 90 by Nathalie MacLean and described as ‘Honkin’ big black fruit with great depths of flavour and concentration.’
Update Sept 25,2016 – I have now tasted this wine and it is worth every penny. In our tasting group of four it was preferred over another Ripasso that cost $10 more. There is a bit of vegetal nose in the beginning but it blew off. It opened up into a well-integrated, flavourful mouthful.
GSM – Tasting and Cellar Opportunity
GSM stands for Granache, Syrah, Mourvedre, a classic blend of grapes from France’s Rhone Valley region. Granache is the main grape with varying percentages of Syrah and Mourvedre. It typically produces a medium to full bodied, silky wine with characteristics of dark fruits and spices. The Granache can sometimes impart a candied cherry note while the Syrah will add notes of dark fruits and spiciness. Mourvedre is typically an earthier grape and will lend length and tannins to the mix.
Well known GSM expamples are Cotes du Rhone, Vacqueyras, Gigondas and the pinnacle of them all, Chateau-Neuf-du-Pape.
There are 2 great value GSM currently in stock that you could taste now and/or hold for a few years.
Schild Estate GMS 2013
LCBO 108183 $19.95
This is Australia’s Schild family’s take on the classic French blend. James Halliday of winecompanion.com describes this as a ‘gamut of red fruits retaining brightness and shape (and no confection). Exceptional Value’ Score 94
Update Sept 25, 2016: Wow – fruit, fruit, fruit. Smooth, smooth, smooth. Nice finish. Worth EVERY penny!
Try tasting this beside:
Xavier Cotes du Rhone 2012
LCBO 297317 $17.95
Jeb Dunnuck of erobertparker.com scored this as a 90 identifying notes of ‘licorice, roasted herbs, pepper and plenty of sweet fruit’. Update Sept 25, 2016: I tasted this with flank steak with a fairly bold peppery marinade. It held up very well- very smooth and fruity. I would definitely buy more of this one.
If you are feeling flush take the opportunity to add in Xavier Chateau-Neuf-du-Pape 2011 (LCBO 244814 @ $39.95 which Jeb Dunnuck scored at 92.
See if you can identify the difference in wine making style between Australia and France. And the difference between the Cotes du Rhone and Chateau-Neuf-du-Pape. Is double the price worth it?
Pinot Noir – Tasting and Cellar Opportunity
Pinot Noir is typically a cool climate grape, difficult to grow and unpredictable in the wine making process. A well made Pinot Noir is a thing of beauty though and highly sought after. Remember the movie Sideways?
The Burgundy region in France is famous for its Pinot Noir but other cool climates such as New Zealand, North West USA, and Canada’s Niagara region, among others, also produce quality Pinot Noirs. Two to try from this release will let you study the difference between a California Pinot and a New Zealand Pinot without breaking the bank.
Murphy Goode Pinot Noir 2013
LCBO 451360 $19.95
This one is described by Jim Gordon or Wine Enthusiast as elegant and fruity, spicy profile. He is talking about silky smooth cherry, raspberry with shades of cinnamon and clove. Score 90. Wow.. I can’t wait to try this one!
Compare that to
Mahi Pinot Noir 2013
LCBO 447532 $20.95
This one is also described as elegant with a ‘nose of red and black cherries, wild thyme and lavender, with hints of violet and underbrush. Scored 91 by Lisa Perrotti-Brown or erobertparker.com.
Bordeaux Cellar Opportunity
Bordeaux wines are probably the epitome of French wine for me. Bordeaux can easily cost $50 and then go into the stratosphere. So… I am happy to see 3 very reasonable representatives of the Graves and Haut-Medoc regions. These can be drunk now but based on the reviews and the vintage years I would lay them down for another couple of years before trying.
Chateau Dorleac 2014
LCBO 444315 15.95
James Suckling gave this one a 90 describing it as a ‘young red with solid core of dried berry and currant character. Full body, firm tannins and a pretty finish. Very long. Update Sept 25, 2016: I found this to be a substantial wine but the tannins overpowered any fruit going on in my opinion. I would serve with steak or strong cheeses to soften it.
Chateau Bernadotte 2012
LCBO 970178 $22.95
Roger Voss of the Wine Enthusiast describes this as ‘full in the mouth, structured and balanced, with ripe berry fruits bursting out from the tannic shell.’
Chateau Haut-Bellevue 2010
LCBO 444307 $26.95
This may be the best value, scored 91 by wineandspiritesmagazine.com. Described as a ‘classic claret with red fruit, cracked green peppercorn spice and stony tannins.’ Will continue to age with grace.