The focus on Chilean wines leads to many great value wines in the LCBO Vintages Release June 12 2021.
Some interesting Sparklings in this release… including a Pétillant Naturel and a ‘Pet-Nat’ (short for Pétillant Naturel ). These terms are indicative of an ancient winemaking approach (méthode ancestrale) that is characterized by minimal winemaking intervention and bottling before the first fermentation is finished. There are no secondary yeasts or sugars added. It is traditionally cloudy, unfiltered, and often bottled with a crown cap (like beer). Letting nature take its course means the results can be widely varied and ‘unpredictable’. Pet-Nat wines have become trendy of late, along with ‘orange wines’ that are still wines made in a similar manner with minimal intervention.
Full disclosure- I am not yet on the band wagon but if you are curious you may want to check out Steorra Pétillant Naturel Sparkling Chardonnay 2016 VINTAGES#: 20177 $34.95 or Southbrook Organic Pet-Nat Bubbly 2020 11768 $29.95.
Instead I am putting my money on :
Gemma Sparkling Rosé VINTAGES#: 18558 $18.95 Limari Valley, Chile that gets a 94 from Tim Atkin of timatkin.com. Chile has a well established Sparkling trade, although they don’t have strong Canadian distribution. This one is 70/30 Pinot Noir/Chardonnay with 24 months on the lees. He calls it ‘pale, haunting and complex’.
Joseph Cattin Brut Crémant d’Alsace VINTAGES#: 281329 $19.95 Alsace, France gets a 91 from Anne Krebiehl of Wine Enthusiast who describes ripe apple and shortbread aromas and ‘juicy,…fruity but subtle’ with a fine mousse, freshness and roundness.
The focus on Chilean wines is good news for us. There are 12 wines on offer this release and every one of them is scoring solidly in the 90s. In reality you could just pick your favourite varietal or try out a new one and you will have a winner. In honour of the abundance of good value, I have outlined my white and red wine picks in this separate section devoted to Chilean wines. (The ‘Rest of the World’ follows!)
William Fèvre Little Quino Sauvignon Blanc 2019 VINTAGES#: 17609 $15.95 Malleco Valley, Chile. William Fèvre of Premier Cru Chablis fame has chosen various sites in Chile to apply his ‘terroir’ talents to. Patricio Tapia of guiadescorchados.cl gives it a 92 and describes it as a delight ‘with herbal and citrus’ aromas’, a ‘light, fresh body’ with deep and penetrating flavours. Perfect for flavourful seafood.
There is no reason to leave out Montes Alpha Chardonnay 2018 VINTAGES#: 390203 $19.95 Aconcagua Costa, Chile James Suckling describes it as full-bodied and rich with cooked apples, lemons and vanilla with ‘pretty complexity’.
Casa Silva 1912 Vines Sauvignon Gris 2020 VINTAGES#: 19580 $19.95 Colchagua Valley, Chile. Sauvignon Gris is not a common grape and is mostly used a a blending grape in Bordeaux whites. Here as a varietal it is described as having ‘intense freshness supported by penetrating juicy acidity’ with spicy notes.
MAPU Reserva Carmenère 2019 VINTAGES#: 19242$13.95 Maule Valley, Chile. Carmenère (Carignan) is considered a signature grape of Chile. While it can have a distinctive ‘green-ness’ to it (think under-ripe fruit, stems and green pepper) it is becoming more fruit forward and approachable of late. This one gets a 92 from James Suckling who describes rose petals, blackberries and earthiness with fine tannins and a savoury finish. Incidentally ‘reserva’ in Chile is not necessarily an indication of quality; the designation is the choice of the producer with the criteria that it is 12 % alcohol and has seen some oak.
Errázuriz Syrah 2018 VINTAGES#: 387910 $21.95 Aconcagua Valley, Chile gets a 95 score from James Suckling who describes a complex nose with blackberries, black pepper and tar. Full-bodied and smooth it is ‘complex and intriguing’ with a delicious finish. Play off the ‘pepper-y’ nature of Syrah and serve with pepper steak!
Lapostolle Cuvée Alexandre Cabernet Sauvignon 2018 VINTAGES#: 947929 $27.95 Colchagua Valley, Chile also gets a 95 from James Suckling who describes aromas of black currants, violets and slate on the nose. Full-bodied with black olives and blue fruit on the finish. Decant for an hour or two before enjoying with steak or a full deli charcuterie board.
San Pedro Sideral 2018 VINTAGES#: 632927 $29.95 Cachapoal Valley Andes, Chile. This Cabernet Sauvignon/ Syrah dominated blend is getting high praise all around and is considered to be excellent value. Cellar this one for 2-3 years at least and then expect to enjoy blackberry, blue fruit, black pepper notes with vibrancy and excellent structure. Decanter gives it a 96 and calls it … classy with a long finish and generous fruit.
The Rest of the World….
What I am about to say may seem scandalous to some… but here goes… I don’t require a lot from my Rosé wines. A dry to off-dry wine with well balanced acidity and a few fruity or herbal defining characteristics. So … I am easily pleased by a decent wine from a trusted producer in the under $20 range. I just don’t see the complexity quotient keeping up with the prices ascending significantly from there.
So.. my picks this release would be
Confidencial Reserva Rosé 2020 VINTAGES#: 19846 $15.95 Lisboa, Portugal. Portugal blends are famous for being reliable so the citrus, redcurrant, herbs, spices and minerality along with ‘brilliant, zippy acidity’ seem to fit my bill very well! Sip on its own or with seafood, light cheeses or summer salads.
If you are wanting a weightier Rosé to perhaps pair with pork or spicy ribs check out Masi Rosa dei Masi 2020 VINTAGES#: 377267 $16.95 Venezie, Italy. Medium-bodied, dry with red apple, strawberry and cherry. Cranberry tones should serve to add a bit of complexity, lifting it above the strictly ‘fruity’ designation.
If you are looking for something a bit fancier you can’t go wrong with the elegance and structure of French Rosé. Provence in particular excels at elegant restraint in a Rosé, typically balancing fruit and savoury with great structure. Gassier Sables d’Azur Rosé 2020 VINTAGES#: 33621 $18.95 Provence, France will fit this bill. Xavier Vignon Côtes du Rhône Rosé 2020 VINTAGES#: 450908 $17.95 Rhône, France will also be a good bet for a relatively rich mixture of red fruit along with some herbality and spice. Both are medium-bodied and dry.
Cellier des Dauphins Les Dauphins Cuvée Spéciale Côtes du Rhône VINTAGES#: 18600 $13.95 Rhône, France. It is tempting to put this in the ‘cheap and cheerful’ category but for the 90 score from Anna Lee C Iijima of Wine Enthusiast. A Grenache/Viognier dominated blend, the pineapple, citrus and yellow-apple notes are enhanced by hints of smoke and salt and subtle minerality. Full-bodied and rich this has all the makings of a Best Buy!
Another 90 for under $20. Cathedral Cellar Chardonnay 2019 VINTAGES#: 328559 $17.95 Western Cape, South Africa gets a 90 from Tim Atkin who calls it ‘focused and zesty with pear and lemongrass’ and ‘adroitly integrated 50% new wood’.
Kaiken Terroir Series Torrontés 2020 VINTAGES#: 330407 $18.95, Salta, Argentina. Fans of the aromatic Torrontés varietal will be interested in the orange citrus notes on the nose and palate here, the balanced acidity and pronounced fruity flavours. It is scoring consistently in the 90+ range among reviewers. Try it with spicy Thai food, tacos or Indian currry.
Henri Ehrhart Réserve Particulière Pinot Gris 2019 VINTAGES#: 392092 $18.95. A classic Pinot Gris here with ripe apple, pear, peach and honey accents. Wavering between dry and off-dry with good acidity. Any summer lunch fare would be good but seafood would really shine here.
New Zealand has some outstanding offers this release. Bob Campbell of therealreview.com ranks the following:
Eradus Sauvignon Blanc 2020 VINTAGES#: 225557 $19.95 Marlborough, New Zealand For under $20 it gets a 93 and is called a ‘moderately punchy Sauvignon Blanc’ (which might be a refreshing change from some of the Marlborough SBs on steroids)with gooseberry, lime, nettle and passionfruit along with mouth-watering acidity on a lengthy finish.
For a few dollars more you can sample the #2 ranked (of 17) Wairarapa Sauvignon Blancs of 2019. Luna Sauvignon Blanc 2019 VINTAGES#: 17567 $23.95 Martinborough, New Zealand has herbal and passionfruit contrasted with ripe nectarine and melon. Campbell describes ‘impressive purity with tangy acidity’.
On the premium end our our scale, Campbell calls Nautilus Chardonnay 2019 VINTAGES#: 331652 $27.95 Marlborough, New Zealand a ‘serious Chardonnay with cellaring potential’ through 2027. Moderately intense, with creamy texture and suggestions of peach, brioche, lime, ginger, nutty lees and a hint of flint.
Terra d’Aligi Tatone Montepulciano d’Abruzzo 2016 VINTAGES#: 994616 $16.95 There is a lot going on in the glass for the price here. Alexander Peartree of Wine Enthusiast gives it a 91 and describes a cherry/blackberry nose with tobacco and spices; a firm, full-bodied palate with berry and plum and a mix of spices. Tannins in evidence. Plan to serve this with robust dishes – grilled beef or lamb, salamis, lamb or duck sausage or hearty cheeses.
Spain is offering a chance to pick up a Rioja Reserva for under $20 in Marques de La Concordia Viña Alarde Reserva 2015 VINTAGES#: 10548 $18.95. Decanter (Amy Wislocki) gives it a 90 and describes it as supple and silky on the palate showing leather, red fruit and a touch of mocha. Enjoy it this summer.
Rcabernet Sauvignon 2017 VINTAGES#: 13181 $20.95 – I thought this was very good value with a fairly complex nose of black cherry, caramel and mint. Palate is fruit driven with some earthiness and sandy tannins. I gave it a 90.
Château Guillou 2016 VINTAGES#: 140483 $23.95 got a 91 from Roger Voss of Wine Enthusiast and Editor’s Choice designation. A Merlot dominated Bordeaux from Saint -Émilion with black-currant, rich texture and and ‘elegant structure’. Drink now or hold a couple more years. Enjoy with grilled beef or charcuterie.