On June 2 Vintages reduced the prices by up to 25% on fifty wines sold through its Vintages ShopOnLine service. WineAlign critics have reviewed about half the sale items (those with larger inventories) and those notes are now published. Move quickly to ensure you get what you want!
Vintages Shop On Line allows you to browse and purchase from a selection of items that are purchased in much smaller quantity than regular Vintages in-store releases. Once you have set up an on-line account with Vintages, you pay full price up front for your selections (the wines are already landed in Ontario) and your order is shipped to an LCBO store near you. The website indicates two to four week delivery, at which point you will be phoned by store staff to pick up your purchase.
In recent weeks Vintages has begun to allow wine media to preview these wines at the LCBOs HQ in downtown Toronto, and WineAlign is fully dedicated to bringing you our selections in a timely fashion to help you take advantage before stocks dwindle.
The “Sale” selection spans the globe. They are wines that have not sold quickly for any number of reasons – often I think because they are less well known. Going off the beaten path is not a natural tendency when one considers more expensive wine, but this is exactly where some of the best value are to be found. And we are glad to be able to help you understand what you are getting from these more obscure labels.
The one concern always when buying wines on sale, is whether they are heading “over the hill”. I did find several instances of maturing wines, but only one – a 2001 Cenntanaio Archibaldo – was clearly past its best. On the whole, most are right in their drinking window, and don’t require a lot more cellaring. I would certainly be drinking the whites over the next year.
It was a fascinating tasting, so we have gathered three WineAlign critics to go into a bit more detail on two wines (each) that they found particularly intriguing and/or worth your serious consideration:
Sara D’Amato’s Picks
Chateau Musar White 1995 from Lebanon’s most famous winery is, admittedly, not a wine for everyone. However, it is difficult not to find something fascinating about this rare, aged white blend that is drinking spectacularly at its peak. From its deep ambered colour to it exotic, layered nose and sensual cornucopia of flavours, Chateau Musar certainly delivers and with the VSO sale price, the temptation is ripe. This was has already been cellared for you, all that is left is to enjoy. A sure-fire conversation piece, Musar’s 1995 white is certain to create a lasting memory. Was $85.00. Now $67.00.
Joseph Drouhin 2007 Puligny Montrachet Les Folatières 1er Cru from Burgundy is most definitely a wine with exceptional cellaring potential and would make a fine, a very reasonably priced addition to any Burgundy collection. Although 2007 proved to be a challenging growing season for much of Burgundy, it was saved by meticulous viticultural practices and thoughtful foresight turning its irregularities into a surprisingly remarkable vintage. Drouhin’s style focuses on purity of fruit and expression of terroir. In order to achieve this outcome the house commits to practices such as wild yeast fermentation, primarily use of older oak and controlling every aspect of the process such as the length of time barrel staves are weathered. Was $89.00. Now $69.00.
John Szabo’s Picks
Reinhold Haart Riesling Spätlese 2004 Piesporter Goldtröpchen from the Mosel-Saar-Ruwer in Germany is already comfortably inside the perfect window of drinking enjoyment. And since it was already undervalued, an additional 25% off makes this totally irresistible. Top German rieslings, it seems, are still a tough sell. For me, and many who have tasted broadly from around the world, Mosel riesling is the epitome of the grape, with a profile that really can’t be reproduced anywhere else. (See my report on the June 11th Vintages release with a focus on the Mosel for more details.) It’s just that their inimitable style is out of step with the times. The majority drinkers, especially those new to the pleasures of wine, are still looking for bigger, bolder, riper wines. This wine, and the Mosel in general, is quite simply the antithesis, or the antidote, if you will, to mass market preferences. If finesse, delicacy, vibrancy and astonishing minerality are in your drinking lexicon, this wine is for you – a superb example all in all. Was $39.00. Now $29.00.
Château La Garde 2007 Pessac Léognan Bordeaux, France. While Bordeaux never seems to make me quiver with the same happiness as certain other regions, I’m definitely susceptible to the pleasures offered by a well-made example with ample regional typicity and above average class and depth. Ask a very fair price, and I’m even more interested. I take some satisfaction knowing that 2007 is supposed to be, by all accounts, a “second rate” vintage, lost within a decade in which there were multiple “vintages of the century”. It all depends on your definition of great vintage I suppose. The hype surrounding the big years in Bordeaux drives average prices up to ludicrous levels like nowhere else on earth, and like lambs to the slaughter they go. Happily for me, I tend to prefer the more slender years, which also correspond to lower prices. The ’07 Château La Garde is a beautifully proportioned wine, drinking wonderfully now. But will likely not last 30 years, so if you’re planning that far ahead, this isn’t for you. I’m going to be drinking tonight, or within a couple of years, and I’ll enjoy immensely this complex, savoury, smoky, spicy Péssac-Léognan, tending to a lighter, more elegant expression. Tannins are fine-grained, acid is fresh and finish is fragrant. A classic expression of Graves all in all, and for just $25, a top value at that. Was $33.00. Now $25.00.
David Lawrason’s Picks
Rimu Grove 2007 Pinot Noir Bronte from Nelson in New Zealand was already a good buy at $25, but at $19 it’s irresistible to a pinot fan like yours truly. My order is already in, and yes I left some for others but only about four cases remain. I have been paying very close attention to New Zealand pinots lately, especially those more complex examples from Otago, Martinborough and Nelson. (I am finding that most Marlborough pinots are pretty enough but lack complexity beyond their raspberry fruit). And I like Nelson pinots in particular because this seaside enclave on the northwest corner of the South Island tends to impart a certain vibrancy. (Otago is more power, Martinborough is finesse). Nelson is one cool place, climatically and metaphorically, a small town at the head of the Waimea Estuary that makes its living from bountiful orchards, vineyards and seafood fished on from the cold ocean at its doorstep. Rimu Grove’s was founded in 1995, with vineyards perched on a hill on the Bronte Peninsula, virtually surrounded by the sea. Perhaps the location is responsible, but there is just something compelling and powerful about this wine. Was $25.00, Now $19.00.
Telmo Rodriguez 2006 Lanzaga from Rioja, Spain is a thoroughly modern approach in one of the world’s bastions of tradition. I first met Telmo Rodriguez, the young dynamo and impassioned proponent of Spanish wine, this spring when I was at the Vancouver Playhouse International Wine Festival. Spain was the theme country, and Telmo sat on several panels where he crusaded on the behalf of obscure Spanish grapes and regions and respect for Spanish lands and heritage. His wines meanwhile spoke of brightness, elegance and depth, with wonderful fruit purity. I met him again at the Lifford Grand Tasting in Toronto in May where both he and his wines once again shone and charmed. I will say no more, except that if you have not yet tried his wines, here is a great opportunity to do so, at a more than reasonable price. Lanzaga is a 100% bush vine blend of tempranillo, graciano and garnacha from the Rioja Alavesa region. Was $29.00. Now $22.00.
Get the most complete coverage of Vintages Shop On Line new releases as they arrive, every month.