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Pets, vesses et autres impertinences

Hors des sentiers battus
par Marc Chapleau

Marc Chapleau

Marc Chapleau

J’ai un confrère qui n’aime pas le bois. Dès qu’il met le nez dans un verre et sent quelque chose qui évoque la barrique (la vanille, le fumé, le café torréfié), il fait la grimace. « Je déteste le bois… » C’est couru d’avance, dans ces cas-là : le vin en question va se faire écorcher et son score, s’en ressentir.

Quand même curieux puisque, perso, tout critique que je sois moi aussi par ailleurs, le bois, je puis vivre avec. C’est plutôt quand ça sent trop le pet que l’inconfort me guette. Le pet, oui. Prononcé « pette », à la québécoise, avec une intensité non contenue, et non « paix », comme nos amis français, qui ne manquent pourtant pas d’exubérance ni de véhémence, normalement.

Les vins « réduits » sont grevés par une telle odeur pouvant aussi évoquer l’écurie, le cheval en sueur. Une odeur, à sa décharge, qui finit souvent par se dissiper après une bonne aération.

Le confrère allergique au chêne ne déteste pas, lui, cette senteur… bien particulière. Justement parce qu’elle connote un certain type de vin, une philosophie, que, par définition, nonobstant la réalité objective, il aime bien.

Je pourrais bomber le torse en disant que c’est moi qui ai raison puisque, on s’entend, l’odeur de pet est plus largement reconnue comme déplaisante que celle de vanille ou de café frais.

Mais ce n’est pas mon genre. Et pas mon propos non plus, ici.

Affaire de générations, plutôt, comme le suggérait en substance ma consoeur Nadia, récemment. Les plus vieux auraient été habitués aux vins boisés, parfois lourdement, pour eux c’était et c’est encore souvent en quelque sorte la norme.

Touche pas à mon fruité !

Alors qu’aujourd’hui, à l’opposé, avec la mode des vins « nature » par exemple, tout ce qui se met en travers du fruit dans le vin, de l’odeur et du goût fruités, est sacrilège — et à rejeter du revers de la main. Ce que feraient allègrement bon nombre de jeunes nouveaux diplômés en sommellerie.

Cette vision des choses se défend. Moi le premier, j’ai grandi et fait mon apprentissage dans le vin en buvant de grands bordeaux des années 1980. Qui titraient à l’époque, pour mémoire, autour de 11,5 % d’alcool.

J’ai aussi pinté aux grands bourgognes de la même période. Enfin, « grands » n’est pas le bon mot puisqu’on se tapait alors pour l’essentiel des chambertins, des romanée-saint-vivant et des ruchottes-chambertin de négociants outrageusement minces et acidulés, tout à fait inintéressants. Mais on buvait des étiquettes alors on s’en foutait, et puis on se saoulait la gueule et donc c’était bien.

Fin de la parenthèse.

Avec mes bordeaux de la première heure, mes riojas et mes vieux garrafeiras portugais, j’aurais donc appris à affectionner le bois, comme aujourd’hui d’autres apprennent à l’abominer.

Bien entendu, la réalité est plus mouvante que cela. Je peux par exemple parfois m’accommoder de vins sérieusement déviants, les aimer au point de m’en resservir, tandis que mon collègue davantage non interventionniste ne dédaignera pas trinquer, à l’occasion, à un bon vieux grand cru classé bien boisé…

Comme quoi, encore une fois, tous les goûts et dégoûts sont dans la nature.

À boire, aubergiste !

Dans le camp des vins « boisés », appelons-les comme ça, j’ai récemment bien aimé :

Le Marques de Borba Reserva Alentejo 2011, rouge portugais puissant et profond et le savoureusement tannique Morellino di Scansano Terra di Talamo Tempo 2011, rouge toscan pour l’heure un peu fermé au nez et plus bavard en bouche. De Californie maintenant, le Qupé Syrah Central Coast 2012 est à la fois riche, généreux et doté d’une bonne fraîcheur. Toujours du Golden State, l’excellent Terre Rouge « Noir » Sierra Foothills 2010 n’est pas sans rappeler le châteauneuf-du-pape.

Marquês De Borba Reserva 2011 Terre Di Talamo Tempo Morellino Di Scansano 2011 Qupé Syrah 2012 Terre Rouge Sierra Foothills Noir 2010

En blanc cette fois, de Californie toujours, le Grgich Chardonnay Napa 2012 (prononcer Gueur-Gitche) assume très bien son côté boisé prononcé puisqu’il est par ailleurs nerveux (l’acidité) et assez profond.

Enfin, d’Australie, le Yangarra Shiraz McClaren Vale 2012 est très foncé, presque opaque, mais il n’a rien d’un mastodonte. Au contraire : le vin est puissant, certes, mais aussi tendu, d’une étonnante fraîcheur.

Grgich Hills Estate Chardonnay 2012 Yangarra Shiraz 2012 Louis Tête Morgon Les Charmes 2013 Domaine Michel Juillot Mercurey 2012

À présent, dans le cas des vins sinon pas boisés, du moins plus d’emblée axés sur le fruit — et souvent aussi sur la minéralité, résolument plus dans l’air du temps, j’ai retenu :

En rouge, le Morgon Les Charmes Louis Tête 2013, un très bon cru du Beaujolais, le Mercurey Michel Juillot 2012, un bourgogne rouge typé et énergique, harmonieux et d’une belle persistance, et le Cahors Les Laquets Cosse-Maisonneuve 2010 qui sent l’écurie sans que ce soit franchement « bretté » et bien tendu, par ailleurs.

Les Laquets Cahors 2010Domaine Gardiés Les Glaciaires 2013  Camin Larredya La Part Davant Jurançon Sec 2013 Stratus Riesling Moyer Rd Rr1 2013

En blanc, le Glaciaires Domaine Gardiès Côtes-du-Roussillon 2013 est réglissé et d’une belle pureté de fruit. Le Jurançon sec Camin Larredya 2013 est d’une rare élégance, en plus d’être vif et rafraîchissant.

Enfin, du Niagara, le Stratus Riesling RR1 Moyer Road 2013 est un modèle du genre, et il a des airs allemands avec son modeste 10,5 % d’alcool. Parfait pour l’apéro sur la terrasse, dès que les beaux jours s’installeront à demeure.

Bonne dégustation !

Marc

Note de la rédaction: vous pouvez lire les commentaires de dégustation complets en cliquant sur les noms de vins, les photos de bouteilles ou les liens mis en surbrillance. Les abonnés payants à Chacun son Vin ont accès à toutes les critiques dès leur mise en ligne. Les utilisateurs inscrits doivent attendre 60 jours après leur parution pour les lire. L’adhésion a ses privilèges ; parmi ceux-ci, un accès direct à de bons vins !


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Buyers’ Guide to VINTAGES April 18th – Part Two

New World Picks (and notes from the California Wine Fair)
By David Lawrason with notes from Sara d’Amato

David Lawrason

David Lawrason

The first week of fine weather in Ontario for many months has also kicked off the busiest period of wine tasting events of the year. So let’s raise one gigantic toast to the new season! Open something that shouts.

Last week we looked at Euro wines on the release, so this week it’s New World, and we will get to our picks shortly. But I wanted to outline the amazing array of wine events coming our way in the weeks ahead. The season unfurled on April 13th with the 36th annual California Wine Fair in Toronto (see more below), followed three days later by the 4th annual Prince Edward County in the City event. Then on April 20th Ontario’s leading terroir driven wineries present their wares at Somewhereness in Toronto. (Watch for an Ontario Wine Report on both of these important local wine events).

On April 22 the Premium Familiae Vini – an association of Europe’s leading family owned wineries – presents a VINTAGES sponsored tasting in Toronto, followed by a reception and dinner on the 23rd. This is a great chance to taste some of the classics from Europe. For PFV wines being released on April 18 search out our WineAligner reviews from great names like Hugel of Alsace, Perrin of the Rhone, Drouhin of Burgundy, Antinori of Italy and Torres of Spain and many more. Each family has a couple of wines represented (but of course we would prefer they each had many more on the shelf).

The following week, April 29, Portugal’s annual grand tasting runs at the Art Gallery of Ontario. On May 7 there is the New Zealand Wine Fair. Then three consecutive VINTAGES events are on the schedule: May 21 is Next Generation Germany; May 26 is Australia’s First Families and on June 4 in come the Italians for the Gambero Rosso Tasting. So no whining about nothing to do this spring! Check out events at VINTAGES.com.

WineAlign Bus Tour to Prince Edward CountyAnd not to forget our second annual “rolling limestone” WineAlign bus tour to the Terroir Wine Festival in Prince Edward County on May 9. We have two coaches ready to go from Toronto with stops at Hinterland, Rosehall Run and Norman Hardie, plus two and a half hours at the Terroir festival in Picton.

Both Sara d’Amato and I will be onboard to give you some colour commentary. Which is a great segue to one of my top picks of the release.

Norman Hardie 2013 Niagara Unfiltered Chardonnay, Niagara Peninsula ($39.20)

David Lawrason – Norman Hardie is of course based in Prince Edward County, but makes wines from prime sites in Niagara as well. I tasted this wine among six other high end chardonnays from Burgundy and elsewhere. It not only stood its ground, it stood tall. Very elegant, taut, well woven and showing great minerality and length.

Graham Beck 2013 The Game Reserve Chardonnay, Robertson, South Africa ($16.95)

David Lawrason – Another surprise in the big chardonnay line-up this release comes from a remote region over the mountains, and away from maritime influence, in the Robertson region. There are limestone pockets here, and some fine chardonnays. This is not “great” but I am impressed that Graham Beck has delivered this much structure and character at $17.
Sara d’Amato – This pioneer of the sparkling variety in South Africa is also no stranger to chardonnay and this striking value is a standout. Get it, enjoy and thank me later.

Norman Hardie Niagara Unfiltered Chardonnay 2013 Graham Beck The Game Reserve Chardonnay 2013 Grgich Hills Fumé Blanc Dry Sauvignon Blanc 2013 Hall Sauvignon Blanc 2013 Rapaura Springs Reserve Sauvignon Blanc 2013

Grgich Hills 2013 Fumé Blanc Dry Sauvignon Blanc, Napa Valley, California  ($39.95)

David Lawrason – My attraction to this wine is not based on flash in the pan pizzazz, but on the solid, self-confident, nuanced ambiance it presents. I could see myself sitting with this wine over one or two bottles and not getting bored. Is it the biodynamics alone, or a winemaking idea? Very satisfying.

Hall 2013 Sauvignon Blanc, Napa Valley, California, USA ($34.00)

Sara d’Amato – Great California sauvignon blanc has a way of reeling me in like no chardonnay could ever do. Hall focuses on the sustainable production of Bordelaise varietals, thus choosing sauvignon blanc over chardonnay as its star white grape and we can be glad they do. On the riper style of the spectrum, this wild and wonderful example boasts impressive complexity, balance and appeal.

Rapaura Springs 2013 Reserve Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough, New Zealand ($21.95)

Sara d’Amato – A solid example of Marlborough sauvignon blanc without excessive grassy, vegetal or ammonia from under-ripeness. Elegant and herbaceous with notes of mineral, passion fruit and citrus along with a remarkable degree of body.

Barrandica Cabernet Sauvignon 2013

Franciscan Cabernet Sauvignon 2012

Treana 2011 RedTreana Red 2011, Paso Robles, California ($39.95)

David Lawrason This opaque, black wine is a blend of cabernet and syrah from the hotter Paso Robles region of the Central Coast. It’s massive and deep, and I was prepared to dismiss it as a hot chocolate bomb, but lo and behold it shows very good proportion and balance. Large can also be balanced.

Franciscan 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, California, USA ($29.95)

Sara d’Amato – With a warm, sunny summer and a cool harvest, 2012 in Napa is proving to be an interesting vintage and one hailed by many local producers as ideal for cabernet sauvignon. A structured, cellar-worthy find in the classic style of the Haut-Médoc.

Barrandica 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon, Vista Flores, Mendoza, Argentina ($16.95)

David Lawrason  One my most important observations from two visits to Argentina in recent months, is the growing importance of excellent cabernets (see next as well). This is from the Vista flores sub-region of the Uco Valley, a region I have come to know for its lifted floral character and a certain wash of intense fruit. Great value.

Sister's Run Epiphany Shiraz 2012

C.J. Pask Gimblett Road Syrah 2013

Tapiz Alta 2011 Collection Cabernet SauvignonTapiz Alta Collection Cabernet Sauvignon 2011, Mendoza, Argentina ($18.95)

David Lawrason, This is a balanced and complete if not huge cabernet – an absolute bargain. Argentine cabernet seems to pack in a centre of gravity that some lack (cabs can famously have a ‘hollow middle’).  There is even a sense of graphite minerality. Tapiz employs Pomerol-based Jean Claude Berrouet, perhaps accounting for the great sense of composure. In any event, it too is a great buy under $20.

C.J. Pask 2013 Gimblett Road Syrah, Hawkes Bay, New Zealand ($19.95)

Sara d’Amato – This Hawke’s Bay syrah has an expressive cool-climate nature that delivers a surprising amount of flavour on its lighter frame. Peppery, musky and savoury with an abundance of wild flowers and earth – unquestionably stylish.

Sister’s Run 2012 Epiphany Shiraz, McLaren Vale, Australia ($15.95)

Sara d’Amato – An engaging find, stripped down, generous and appealing with a great deal more concentration, power and structure than one would expect at this price. A classic example of the power and purity that can be attained from the Mediterranean climate of McLaren Vale.

Notes on the California Wine Fair

It’s amazing that this event has been going for 36 years in Toronto and almost as long in Ottawa. It is the social wine event of the year, with about 1300 showing up for the trade portion on Monday afternoon in Toronto and over 300 for the luncheon in the Royal York’s largest ballroom. The guest speaker – Margo Van Staaveren, the winemaker at Chateau St. Jean – gave a personal overview of life and wine trends in Sonoma County, her home for 30 years. Well established as a modern haven for chardonnay and pinot noir, I was most surprised to hear her comment that the hottest trend in Sonoma is the improvement in cabernet sauvignons from the inland areas like Dry Creek, Alexander and Knights Valleys. She closed her presentation quoting a new marketing slogan “True Wine Country” that made the Napa winemaker at our table bristle.

We also heard from Shari Mogk-Edwards the LCBO’s Vice President of Products, Sales and Marketing deliver the state of the California nation address, indicating that sales in Ontario amounted to $285 million last year, up 13% over the previous year, with higher growth than any other region (although still behind Ontario and Italy in overall  sales). She kept referring to the quality and value of California being behind the popularity, but I would argue that is more of a stylistic popularity, and a cultural affinity and comfort level. There is undeniable ease and familiarity to California wines. Value is certainly not part of my discussion around California and our sinking loonie will not help in the months ahead.

I spent my afternoon doing a checking out of new labels, and some classics, and getting a bead on the most interesting categories. There were 125 wineries in the room, each with several wines. So it was not a time for detailed reviews.

My first observation was that pinot noirs showed the most “new to me” labels and exciting quality. I was very impressed by the new Kiser “En Haut” from Mendocino County, Far Niente’s new En Route 2013 Les Pommiers; as well as Paul Hobbs 2012, Miramar Torres 2012 Mas Cavalls, Schug 2013 Carneros, Etude’s new Lyric 2013, and Jamieson Ranch 2013 Reata. California pinot is becoming more and more sophisticated every vintage it seems. Sure there are sweetish and hottish examples, but those working at the upper end of the quality spectrum are finding a groove. And the wines have a delicious factor that pinot does not often achieve elsewhere.

Over on the “cabernet sauvignon and friends” side there were some excellent wines indeed, but not as many new wines. I was most impressed by Far Niente 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon, Mt Brave 2011, Stags Leap 2011 Fay Vineyard, Heitz 2005 Cabernet, Chateau St Jean 2010 Cinq Cepages and Quintessa 2011. It is such an interesting exercise to relate the cool vintage 2011s to Bordeaux, with which there is so much in common. It’s all a matter of how much ‘green’ you like in your cabs.

The most disappointing category was zinfandel. I tasted a half dozen and none showed the great brambly, florality by which I judge good zin. The oak mocha machine is gobbling up this once grand category.

~

And that’s a wrap for this rather long-winded edition. Hope to see you out there on the busy wine circuit in the weeks ahead.

David Lawrason
VP of Wine

From VINTAGES April 18th, 2015:

Lawrason’s Take
Sara’s Sommelier Selections
Szabo’s Smart Buys
Buyers’ Guide to VINTAGES – Old World
All Reviews

Editors Note: You can find complete critic reviews by clicking on any of the highlighted wine names, bottle images or links. Paid subscribers to WineAlign see all critics reviews immediately. Non-paid members wait 60 days to see new reviews. Premium membership has its privileges; like first access to great wines!


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Blind Tasting 31 of the World’s Top Cabernet Blends

The Master Blend Classification

In late February and on the eve of the Vancouver International Wine Festival, eleven of Canada’s leading wine critics gathered in Vancouver for the third Wolf Blass Master Blend Classification Tasting. Our assignment was to “classify” 31 of the world’s leading Cabernet Sauvignon based blends in a blind tasting. The wines selected for the tasting met three basic criteria: the vintage was 2010, the blend was predominantly cabernet sauvignon-based; and the wine had to fetch a minimum $100 retail price. In the end the list included some impressive labels from France, United States, Chile, South Africa, New Zealand, Italy and Australia, painstakingly collected (an accomplishment in any Canadian market for sure) and randomly queued for solo tasting.

mbc2.

The Inspiration

The Master Blend Classification, inspired by the Bordeaux Classification of 1855 was also encouraged in part, by WineAlign’s own Bill Zacharkiw:

“I was asked to lead a tasting of Australian wines for my fellow Quebec journalists. With three winemakers present, I decided to throw everyone a curve ball, and have everyone, including the winemakers, blind taste their wines against comparable wines from around the world.

My goal was to show everyone, including the winemakers, where their wines stood against some pretty hot competition. And nothing defeats prejudice like blind tasting!

Well word got back to Wolf Blass chief winemaker Chris Hatcher about the stunt I pulled, and he loved the idea. And the next thing I know I am sitting in a room with $20,000 of wine and tasting through 30 of the world’s top cabernet blends. 

That was one year ago, the inaugural Master Classification Blend tasting session. It takes guts to do what Hatcher is doing, and this is one of the most educational and fun tastings of the year. And I am glad to have been part of its genesis.”

Thanks to Bill, that’s how we came to be seated in a well lit room in Vancouver, with 31 glasses of red wine in front of us totaling some $20,000 in value. Some of the group had joined Bill at the previous tasting (see last year’s Master Blend Classification and the WineAlign critics’ thoughts on 2009 vintage) so we knew what was likely in store – First Growths, icon wines, curveballs, eye-openers and detailed takeaway notes unrivalled anywhere in the world.

After a couple of hours of contemplative tasting followed by some adept spreadsheet calculations, the collective results were revealed.

Top Ten 2010

IMG_06042010 Chateau Latour

2010 Chateau Montrose

2010 Chateau Haut Brion

2010 Chateau Cos d’Estournel

2010 Chateau Léoville-Barton

2010 Chateau Léoville-Las Cases

2010 Antinori Solaia

2010 Ornellaia

2010 Vasse Felix Heytesbury

2010 Chateau Lafite

Master Blend Classification Event Director, George Samios, noted the quality of the lauded 2010 vintage was evident, with less than 2.25 points differentiating the top 10 wines.

“The eleven judges had a great diversity of background and we saw some really robust and dynamic discussion about all of the wines. Key themes continued to be the oak to fruit relationship and also the respective “characters” of some regional wines.

~ TR

Thoughts and themes from our WineAlign critics:

Bill Zacharkiw:

The Vancouver tasting confirmed what many have said, that 2010 in Bordeaux was an extremely good vintage especially if you value acidity. My top five wines were all Bordeaux (in order): Chateau Latour, Chateau Cos d’Estournel, Chateau Montrose, Chateau Léoville-Las Cases and Chateau Lynch-Bages.

Compared to the tasting of the 2009’s, when Bordeaux pumped out some pretty ripe wines, this year’s tasting showed that when Bordeaux has a more classic vintage, they really stand out from the pack. Last year, my top 10 was divided up pretty evenly between wines hailing from Italy, Chile and California.

Château Latour 2010 Château Cos D’estournel 2010 Chateau Montrose 2010 Château Léoville Las Cases 2010 Château Lynch Bages 2010

It comes down to character, and I have always felt that the riper the grapes are picked, the less they are distinctive. This year I was able to guess which wines were from Bordeaux, while last year tasting the 2009’s, I wasn’t nearly as precise.

Anthony Gismondi:

It was fun to be in Vancouver for a change, for a tasting of this magnitude and what turned out to be a showdown between California and Bordeaux. Both regions seemed more subdued in 2010 dealing with slightly cooler fruit. In my estimation California wines come about their ripeness and hedonistic demeanor in a more natural way than the Bordelais examples, i.e. sunshine and heat, versus optical sorting machines and cooler, low yielding vineyard sites.

That said, it is amazing how the gap between styles has closed over the last two decades, so much so that picking the appellation of any of these wines with certainty is a bit of a mug’s game. What I do know is that in all my travels through the New World, when you meet transplanted French people making wine in warm climates you usually find very interesting wines, and that was the case on this day.

Opus One 2010  Harlan Estate Proprietary Red 2010 Almaviva 2010

In the end I chose the luscious Opus One over the more mineral and restrained Chateau Haut Brion, and while they are studies in opposite style, Opus One is really hitting its stride, especially bringing some much welcomed elegance to the Napa Valley theme. I’m guessing ten years from now the scores could be reversed. The Harlan Estate Red was as elegant as I can remember, and that gave it the edge over the Dominus on my score sheet although both are superb. The best value among the French wines has to be the sturdy, well-crafted Château Léoville-Barton.

Back to the French transplants, with Chile impressing and Almaviva just barely inching the Joseph Phelps Insignia on my card. Both are delicious wines and will be ready before the French bottles reach their glory. The leaner, cooler, more mineral resinous wines’ futures lay ahead of them; Chateau Montrose, Chateau Pichon Comtesse de Lalande and the Antinori Solaia round out my top wines scoring 91 points or higher.

Joseph Phelps Insignia 2010 Château Pichon Longueville Comtesse De Lalande 2010 Wolf Blass Black Label Cabernet Sauvignon Shiraz 2010

It was a tough trial for the Wolf Blass Black Label Cabernet Sauvignon Shiraz, now in its 38th Vintage with its 40 percent shiraz. Winemaker Chris Hatcher, to his credit, thought the acid was too high and so did I.

There may need to be a different world order in 2016, and perhaps opening up the pricing restrictions could allow that. Certainly I have had wines from Argentina and Canada that would challenge several labels and need to be at the show.

mbc7

Rhys Pender, MW:

It was a suitable birthday present that I got to sit down at the end of February and taste 31 of the world’s most iconic Cabernet based wines, all from the 2010 vintage. Following on from last years tasting of the 2009 vintage, this was another good year for Bordeaux wines to strut their stuff. They performed pretty well, comprising six of my top 10 wines and nine of the top 12 when all tasters scores were averaged.

The surprise this year was the performance of the Italians. Last year I found them very new world and overly fruity and heavy on winemaking, but this year two were in my top four (Antinori Solaia and Ornellaia). The leathery, meaty, savouriness was back along with plenty of ripe, concentrated fruit.

Antinori Solaia 2010Ornellaia 2010Ridge Vineyards Monte Bello 2010

The Californian wines caused a bit of strife amongst the tasters. Some wines were holding on to that lush, sweet style and while others were a bit more structured and less manipulated. There were scores both high and low for each style suggesting that California is in a bit of a state of flux as to what style its icon wines should be. I loved the Ridge Monte Bello as did a few others, but overall it finished quite a way down the list.

When tasting this calibre of wine, you have to basically disregard price as they are all expensive. But that said, a few of the wines that were expensive and from what should be a very good vintage disappointed. But that is always the way in wine and that is what keeps it interesting. 2011 with a cool year in Bordeaux should be very interesting indeed.

DJ Kearney:

The Master Blend Classification is aptly named. Handling cabernet sauvignon takes masterful hand; blending is what adds grace and charm to Bordeaux’s haughty black grape, and the courage to rank/compare/classify cabernet blends is a useful and meaningful endeavour. Well done to Wolf Blass and ‘Hatch’ for the third incarnation of this self-imposed measuring stick. It is an incredible privilege to take part in this iconic tasting.

It does not need to be said again that all tasters were surprised (sometimes gob-smacked) by the ‘reveal’. The very young Bordeaux wines – all acknowledged stars – showed intractable and shuttered, (downright dour in some cases), and their Cali and Oz counterparts beamed in comparison. My highest scores landed on both a classic aristocrat, as well as the Wolf Blass Black Label…. Nice when the quality gap is narrow, between wines made worlds apart. My overall highest scores where for a happy mix of new and old world blends. In retrospect, the 2010 Bordeaux, despite the glorious vintage, were tightly bound and difficult to taste.

Château Haut Brion Premier Grand Cru Classé 2010Château Margaux 2010 Sena Red 2010

My top five included both the focussed and fleshy Wolf Blass Black Label 2010 from McLaren Vale and Langhorne Creek, followed by the brooding, savoury and spiced Chateau Haut-Brion 2010.

Chateau Margaux 2010 revealed its pedigree immediately, with intense perfume, potent cassis and the luxuriant aroma of fine, new French casks. Pauillac’s Chateau Latour 2010 emanates power and pedigree, even though it has years of unwinding ahead of it. While Eduardo Chadwick’s Seña 2010 displays lovely balance, depth and fruit right now.

IMG_0605mbc8

Treve Ring:

What an honour to taste these gloried wines, en masse, and have a bit of solo time to meet each one.

Upon reflection, my top notes were written for Bordeaux, with the structured savouriness and gravitas of Chateau Latour taking first rank, followed closely by the smoked stone and white pepper of Chateau Beychevelle and the peppery potency of Chateau Cos d’Estournel. The fine bones, bacon and gravels of Chateau Pichon Longueville was compelling and singular, even though I felt I was tasting through a faulted bottle, and a pair of Léovilles (Chateau Léoville-Barton and Chateau Léoville-Las Cases) charmed with their potential. Of course, these were still all far too young, but testament to the 2010 vintage that they impressed and showed as well as they did at this stage.

But all my highest scores weren’t reserved for the graphite youthful grippiness of 2010 Bordeaux. I also appreciated the generosity of fruit balanced with tempered, integrated tannins in the dense Wolf Blass Black Label. Henschke Cyril Henschke, Vasse Felix Heytesbury and Opus One also surprised and impressed me with their lavishly fruited, moderately oaked and positively floral direction.

Château Beychevelle 2010 Henschke Cyril Henschke 2010 Vasse Felix Heytesbury 2010 Vergelegen 2010

Would I have scored them as I did if I knew their retail price? Probably not. That’s the benefit of tasting blind, removing all name and price prejudices and shouldering up a $2500 bottle (Chateau Lafite) alongside one more than 25 times less (Vergelegn Estate GVB).

As this was my first Master Blend Classification tasting, I have no comparable event to hold it against. That said, I’m already looking forward to a line up of the 2011 vintage, when the playing field appears to be a bit more leveled globally.

En Français

Marc Chapleau wrote about his experience at Master Blend Classification in his column for Chacun Son Vin here.

To view the entire lineup of wines at the third annual event click on: Master Blend Classification

Editors Note: You can read complete critic reviews by clicking on any of the highlighted names, bottle images or links. Paid subscribers to WineAlign see critic reviews immediately. Non-paid users wait 60 days to see newly posted reviews. Membership has its privileges; like first access to great wines!


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Margaret Swaine’s Spirits Review – April 2015

Fashionable Spirits
by Margaret Swaine

Margaret Swaine

Margaret Swaine

In my constant travels around the globe, I often come across hot new trends in drinking. Sometimes the connection with the place seems natural such as the prohibition style bars (a password required to enter) in North America and the growing farm to shaker movement among mixologists in the hip hoods in America. Other trends are head-scratchers.

How did the mania for Gin-Tonic bars in Spain start? England surely has top claims to that drink – but no. Spain is now the world’s biggest gin consumer per capita, with demand increasing at an average of 18 percent over the past five years. (The Philippines consume the largest volume of gin: the local Ginebra San Miguel celebrates its 181 birthday this year.) I’ll write more about this trend when we finally head into warmer weather.

In Charleston when I saw a flight of Grand Marnier on the drink menu in Belmond hotel’s Charleston Grill, I got curious. Grand Marnier, a cognac based orange liqueur first created in 1880, is a fine French tipple but to offer three versions of it in a flight is unusual.

Locals informed me that Charleston has such a craze for Grand Marnier that the city is the number one consumer of it per capita in the world. They call it GrandMa and mostly drink it like a shooter. I tracked down this trend to an odd law and a chef.

A South Carolina law restricted bars and restaurants to serving liquor from mini-bottles until 2005. Chef Bob Carter, at the helm of the highly popular Peninsula Grill in the late nineties (until 2011) used to show up at events with minis of GrandMa and cajole colleagues into taking shots with him. He started a mania that is only now beginning to slow.

Fireball, a Canadian whisky punched up with a strong hit of cinnamon, is fast becoming the shooter of choice not only in Charleston but throughout North America: it’s one of the most successful liquor brands in decades. Sales have reached the million cases level and it all started in Canada.

Fireball Cinnamon Whisky Liqueur 1792 Ridgemont Reserve Barrel Select Kentucky Straight Bourbon

It began as a Dr. McGillicuddy’s brand but really took off when it was renamed Fireball. It’s now owned by Sazerac North America Inc which also owns well-loved bourbons such as Buffalo Trace, Blanton’s, Eagle Rare and “1792” Ridgemont Reserve. I’ve met recently with the master distillers and blenders in the company and tasted through a lot of their products, but no one presented Fireball to me at that time. Now having just tasted it – I can see why. It’s so powerfully cinnamon with a burning finale it would kill the palate for their more “subtle” whiskies.

As to the Kentucky whiskies, Buffalo Trace’s first official registration of still 113 was in 1787 though it’s very likely they were distilling before then. By the mid 1800’s there were over 300 registered stills in Kentucky. Almost all were forced to cease during Prohibition between 1919 and 1933. Only four, including Buffalo Trace, were allowed to continue distilling for medicinal purposes. People must have been mighty sick at the time. Over six million prescriptions were written during Prohibition entitling the bearer to a pint of whiskey.

Buffalo Trace Kentucky Straight BourbonEagle Rare Single Barrel 10 Years Old Kentucky Straight BourbonW. L. Weller 12 Year Old Kentucky Straight BourbonSazerac 6 Years Old Straight Rye Whiskey

Buffalo Trace gets its name from the pathway taken by buffalo on their ancient Westerly migratory route. The company claims to be the only producer using five recipes for whiskey products: three rye recipe bourbons, one barley and one wheat bourbon. These five recipes create a matrix under which the individual brands are made.

For example Buffalo Trace, Eagle Rare and George T. Stagg all are made according to Buffalo Trace rye recipe #1, the key difference is length of time in wood which changes the balance and flavour profile of them. Buffalo Trace rye recipe #2 is used to make Elmer T. Lee, Hancocks Reserve and Rock Hill.

The wheat bourbon recipe make W.L. Weller and Pappy Van Winkle. The wheat gives a mellower, softer profile which softens the wood effect allowing Pappy to be aged more than 20 years without being overly oaky. The straight rye recipe, a spicy, peppery brew, is used for Sazerac and Van Winkle Family Reserve Rye 13 Year Old.

Master Blender at Buffalo Trace, Drew Mayville (a Canadian who started at Seagram’s in Waterloo about 34 years ago) told me the key to the success of the company is innovation. They continually try out new ways to make whiskey to come up with an ever better product. One example is a “cured oak” whiskey aged in barrels made from oak staves that have been aged (seasoned) outdoors for 13 months instead of their average of six. They have micro-distilleries to try out for example brown rice bourbon recipes and the like.

Ken Pierce, Director of Distillation at Barton, said that the Sazerac Company has a good eight to nine ideas to innovate the Canadian whiskey category. I doubt that will mean more Fireball type recipes, despite that liquor’s runaway success. We can only bid our time like a barrel in a warehouse until the big reveal.

Cheers,

Margaret Swaine

To find these and other picks at stores near you, click on: Margaret’s Whisky and Spirits

Editors Note: You can read Margaret Swaine’s complete reviews by clicking on any of the highlighted names, bottle images or links. Paid subscribers to WineAlign see critic reviews immediately. Non-paid users wait 60 days to see newly posted reviews. Membership has its privileges; like first access to great spirits!


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VINTAGES Presents: Primum Familiae Vini

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Buyers’ Guide to VINTAGES April 18th – Part One

The Old World
By John Szabo MS with notes from David Lawrason and Sara d’Amato

John Szabo, MS

John Szabo, MS

This week’s report cherry picks the top smart buys from the Old World in the April 18th release. We’ve highlighted a fine collection of classics from familiar friends like Italy and France (including one triple alignment), while Spain gets a nod with wines ranging from $14 up to $90, for one of the best bottles from the Iberian Peninsula. Adventurous drinkers will find discoveries from Slovakia and Hungary. Next week David will lead the discerning charge into the new world.

If it’s not already in your google calendar, be sure to carve out some time to attend the “County in the City” tasting of Prince Edward County wines on April 16th in Toronto, details here. The WineAlign crü will be there scouring the room for the best from Canada’s coolest and stoniest region. And on April 14th, for our members in Ottawa, WineAlign is hosting Beringer Winemaker Laurie Hook. Got to love a tasting that showcases wines from volcanic, cobbled rock and alluvial soils (details here).

Whites and a Rosé

Trimbach 2011 Réserve Riesling, Alsace France ($29.95)

John Szabo – You have to appreciate that the Trimbach house style has remained virtually unchanged over several centuries. Here, the wines are decidedly dry and austere in the best sense, relying on sheer density rather than sugar for their weight. The grapes for the reserve are source entirely from the village of Ribeauvillé, mainly old vines (40 years average), on clay-limestone soils. And although this usually ages magnificently (and slowly), the 2011 is surprisingly ready to enjoy, and won’t require, nor benefit much from long term cellaring. Best 2015-2026.

Tokaj Kereskedoház 2012 Grand Selection Semi-Dry Tokaji Furmint, Tokaj, Hungary ($16.95)

John Szabo – Don’t be put off by the semi-dry designation; this is drier than most purportedly “dry” commercial chardonnays, not to mention more complex. 2012 was the first vintage for well-regarded winemaker Károly Áts, who brings over two decades experience to Tokaj’s largest producer. This plump, pineapple, pear and sage flavoured wine is well worth a look, especially with some lightly spiced southeast Asian dishes or salty west coast oysters.

Trimbach Réserve Riesling 2011 Tokaj Kereskedoház Grand Selection Semi Dry Tokaji Furmint 2012 Hugel Riesling 2012 Vignerons De Buxy Buissonnier Montagny 2011 Château Belá Riesling 2012

Hugel 2012 Riesling, Alsace, France ($24.95)

David Lawrason – That Hugel riesling and other Hugel labels like Gentil (also on this release) are not available continuously in Ontario is a travesty of our system. This is so refined, layered and downright delicious – textbook Alsatian styling with a modern sensibility. It could make a riesling-lover out of the most reticent.

Vignerons de Buxy 2011 Buissonnier Montagny, Burgundy, France  ($19.95)

David Lawrason – This tender and nicely polished young chardonnay makes a return engagement after a debut last autumn. Glad to see quality and value being rewarded. The Buxy Co-op (located in the Côte Châlonnaise) is one of the largest in Burgundy and an evident success.

Château Belá 2012 Riesling, Muzla, Slovakia ($24.95)

Muga Rosé 2014 Gradis'ciutta Pinot Grigio 2013Sara d’Amato – A Slovakian riesling made under the guidance of renowned Mosel producer Egon Müller, co-owner of Chateau Belá. This must-try, drop-dead beauty is edgy and tense with outstanding length. Off-the-beaten-path but certainly not a gamble.

Gradis’ciutta 2013 Pinot Grigio, Collio, Friuli, Italy ($19.95)

Sara d’Amato – The sur-lie aging of this pinot grigio has created the presence and texture to balance the wine’s razor sharp acids. Immensely attractive, this punchy grigio is no pushover.

Muga 2014 Rosé, Rioja Spain ($13.95)

John Szabo – A genuinely dry, simple but highly appealing, strawberry and red cherry-scented rosé from one of the region’s most reliable producers. Full stop. A perfect start to spring.

Reds

M. Chapoutier 2013 Les Vignes De Bila-Haut, Côtes du Roussillon Villages, France ($15.95)

John Szabo – While Chapoutier’s Rhône wines are rightfully admired widely, his Roussillon operation is where I go shopping for the top values in the portfolio. Bila Haut is regularly a terrifically fruity, dense and compact, savoury and complex southern French red, which delivers an extra gear and flavor dimension above the price category.
David Lawrason – It’s hard to choose between this and the neighboring, fresh, elegant fruit driven Roussillon Le Cirque, so don’t choose. Buy some of each! “Bila haut” by tres serieux, biodynaminista Michel Chapoutier has been a great buy in juicy yet well-formed southern French reds for a decade. This vintage is very satisfying once again.
Sara d’Amato – Southern French charm bottled at an indisputable price. A hand-harvested blend of syrah, grenache and carignan offering a real sense of place with enticing aromas of lavender, pepper, earth, smoky meat, underbrush and wild berries.

Alión 2011, Ribera Del Duero, Spain ($89.95)

John Szabo – Top Spanish reds have yet to command the cache of certain other celebrated regions for myriad reasons, but the wines of Vega Sicilia come as close as any. Considering the superlative quality of the 2011 Alión, a tempranillo of massive structure, complexity and ageability, this remains a very smart buy. Revisit after 2020 for best enjoyment.
Sara d’Amato – Drink now or anticipate the delight it will bring in a decade or more. The 2011 Alión exhibits all those exciting little faults that make for a brilliant, compelling and all-consuming experience.

M. Chapoutier Les Vignes De Bila Haut Côtes Du Roussillon Villages 2013 Alión 2011 Torres Celeste Crianza 2011 Fattoria Dei Barbi Brunello Di Montalcino 2009

Torres 2011 Celeste Crianza, Ribera del Duero, Spain ($20.95)

John Szabo – I admit I greatly admire Miguel Torres, one of the most consistent and reliable names in the global wine industry. Every wine, it seems, is crafted in an appealing style that at the same time manages not to sacrifice the regional identity of its respective appellation. This 2011 Ribera Del Duero does the job nicely, delivering plenty of engaging and fresh red and black berry fruit with a significant but balanced dose of wood in the Spanish style. Best now-2025.

Fattoria Dei Barbi 2009 Brunello Di Montalcino, Tuscany, Italy ($49.95)

John Szabo – Barbi does old school style Brunello very well, the way sangiovese was intended to be rendered in my view. This 2009 has evolved nicely, delivering engaging candied red fruit flavours, dried earth, zesty herbs, faded flowers and so much more. I love the delicate tannins, the balanced acids and the exceptional length – a very harmonious wine all in all. Best now-2025. 2025

Le Cirque 2013 Grenache/Noir/Carignan/Syrah, Côtes Catalanes, Roussillon, France ($16.95)

David Lawrason – Here is yet another success from a French co-op – Les Vignerons de Tautavel Vingrau, located in the village of Tautavel in Languedoc-Roussillon. For archaeology buffs this village houses the European Centre for Prehistoric Research. Tautavel Man, an early hominid, unearthed near here is perhaps the oldest human remain in Europe. Nothing prehistoric about this wine however.  It is a pretty, poised and fresh young, modern southern French blend with an easy, breezy drinkability.

Joseph Drouhin 2012 Côtes De Nuits-Villages, Burgundy, France ($34.95)

David Lawrason – Drouhin is another class act from France that for my entire career has been badly represented in Ontario. The house possesses such fine, white gloved hand interpretation of Burgundy, without sacrificing appellation character. Côtes de Nuits-Village will never deliver profound pinot, but I really like the refinement here. A bit pricy but a textural masterpiece.

Le Cirque Carignan Mourvèdre Syrah 2013 Joseph Drouhin Côtes De Nuits Villages 2012 Château Bonnin Pichon 2010 Brigaldara Valpolicella 2013

Château Bonnin Pichon 2010, Lussac St Emilion, Bordeaux, France ($21.95)

Sara d’Amato – Like me, you might find yourself double checking both the price and the appellation of this right bank blend from the Lussac satellite region of St Emilion. Age-worthy, complex and maturing with grace – a wine that exceeds all expectations.

Brigaldara 2013 Valpolicella, Veneto, Italy ($14.95)

Sara d’Amato – A textbook Venetian blend that refreshingly tries to be nothing but a juicy, honest wine offering simple pleasures. One could expect no greater refinement and appeal from a $15 bottle of Valpolicella.

That’s all for this week. See you over the next bottle.

John Szabo, MS

John Szabo MS

From VINTAGES April 18th, 2015:

Szabo’s Smart Buys
Sara’s Sommelier Selections
Lawrason’s Take
All Reviews

Editors Note: You can find complete critic reviews by clicking on any of the highlighted wine names, bottle images or links. Paid subscribers to WineAlign see all critics reviews immediately. Non-paid members wait 60 days to see new reviews. Premium membership has its privileges; like first access to great wines!


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County in the City - Toronto - April 16


Exclusive Beringer Winemaker’s Dinner – April 14 – Ottawa

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20 Under $20 in BC : April 2015

April Fools in BC

If you’re reading this column, you are interested in wine. If you are from BC, you doubtlessly know about the recent changes to our liquor laws (yes, more changes) as of April 1, 2015. As part of the government’s effort to “level the playing field”, all the prices of wine in the BC Liquor Stores is now displayed without taxes, as Anthony notes below. This means that you have to be quick on your feet or have calculator in hand to know the price for your purchases (multiply the shelf price by 1.15). Private wine stores have followed suit, as the optics of having shelf prices 15 percent higher than your major competitor (your elected government) isn’t a positive.

For now, we’ve decided to try to keep our 20 Under $20 wine picks under $20 ALL IN (including the taxes), meaning the shelf prices of the wines below will be approximately $17.40 or less. We’re waiting to see how it all shuffles out over the coming weeks, and while the dust settles, WineAlign West is still hard at work to find you the best wines that you can purchase with a $20 dollar bill.

~ TR

BC Critic Team

Anthony Gismondi

It’s no secret that it’s getting harder and harder to find wines under $20 a bottle in BC and this month it looks as if government clearly agrees after it removed the PST and GST from its display price, dropping prices, at least for a few feet, by 15 percent. It’s a sleight of hand we could live without but when the taxes are as high as they are in BC what else can they do but try to deceive customers by hiding the ultimate price of its products. This month my picks are truly under $20 taxes all in. But I’m not sure how long that can continue as wine prices and taxes soar in BC.

Sumac Ridge Estate Winery Private Reserve Pinot Noir 2013 Santa Carolina Reserva Pinot Noir Casablanca Estate 2013 Pentâge Pinot Gris Estate Bottled 2013 Dunavár Pinot Grigio 2013

Pinot noir is never cheap but two bottles worth looking for as mid-week reds are the Sumac Ridge 2013 Pinot Noir Private Reserve and the Santa Carolina Reserva Pinot Noir Casablanca Estate 2013. Both offer a modicum of pinot noir flavour and would be perfect with a Margarita style pizza or a salmon salad.

Still with pinot, this time gris or grigio, it looks as if it is the only variety that consistently sells for less than $20. We love the latest Pentâge Winery 2013 Pinot Gris with its mineral salty notes and candied red apple flavours. Speaking of bargains, the Dunavár 2013 Pinot Grigio is as fresh and bright as you could want for $10.

Torres Viña Esmeralda 2014 Wild Goose Autumn Gold 2013Matua Hawkes Bay Sauvignon Blanc 2014Château St. Jean Fumé Blanc 2012

If spicy, Pan-Asian take-out is on your mind you can pair it up with the exotic, generous, spicy/limey litchi fruit flavours of the Torres 2014 Viña Esmeralda or a personal, local favourite, Wild Goose Autumn Gold 2013, the latter a delicious mix of roughly one-third gewürztraminer, riesling and pinot blanc, just sweet enough to tame any spice.

Finally, the lighter dishes of spring will work better with clean, fresh sauvignon blanc such as the crisp, mouth-watering, tropical fruit scented Matua Valley 2014 Sauvignon Blanc from Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand. Or in a slightly richer category, consider the Chateau St. Jean 2012 Fumé Blanc out of Sonoma County, California. It works well with goat cheese, pasta or shellfish dishes. 

Rhys Pender MW

This month’s selections are partially inspired by recent visits to Argentina and Alsace. There are many amazing wines, and while the best can set you back a few dollars, there is also a theme of great value in these areas. The best and most expensive wines are rarely crazy prices and this translates to the value range as well, where you get a lot of quality for the price.

I’m starting off with a pair from Alsace. Domaine Zinck is now run by Philippe and Pascale Zinck after taking over from Philippe’s father, Paul, who started the domain in 1964. They have expanded the estate vineyards and modernized things but kept making serious wines. Available at the BC Liquor Stores is the 2012 Pinot Blanc, a great way to compare an Alsace version with some of the quality BC wines made from the same variety.

Another great variety in Alsace is Gewurztraminer. Not for everyone’s taste because of its lush richness and often with a bit of residual sugar, there is no doubt it is the best wine to pair with richer, spicier foods. Foie gras is also a great match with sweeter versions. Try the 2013 Kuhlmann-Platz for a great priced version.

Paul & Phillipe Zinck Pinot Blanc 2012 Kuhlmann Platz Gewurztraminer 2013 Michel Torino Cuma Organic Torrontés 2013 Tinhorn Creek Merlot 2012

In Argentina, when the weather warms up you crave juicy, refreshing Torrontés. It is aromatic but not sweet and is a fantastic aperitif wine or one to just sip on its own for refreshment. The Michel Torino Cuma brand is not only great value but also organically grown.

From BC, one of the benchmark wines has always been Tinhorn Creek Merlot. It has always been great value and had a strong following. After a couple of tough vintages on the Bordeaux grape varieties (2010 and 2011 were very cool vintages), 2012 was much better and the Tinhorn Creek Merlot is the best it has been in many years.

DJ Kearney

Self-imposed frugality will govern my wine spending now as I look towards summer and the holidays I dream of taking. As the weather gets a little brighter, the frisky Fritz 2013 Riesling from Gunderloch buoys my spirits with its cheeky fruit and sheer ease of drinking. No food required, but a fiery black bean and mango salsa and good corn chips would be the ticket.

Two local aromatic whites are also in my fridge: Mission Hill’s 2013 Reserve Pinot Gris for when I need dry, assertive white wine, and the expressive Quails’ Gate 2014 Gewurztraminer which packs a punch of fruit in a confident off-dry style for a simple (and budget) chickpea curry or lettuce wraps.

Gunderloch Fritz's Riesling 2013 Mission Hill Reserve Pinot Gris 2013 Quails Gate Gewurztraminer 2014 Vina Chela Reserve Malbec 2013 Bota Box Old Vine Zinfandel

I’ve also selected a couple of reds that will keep my piggy bank bulging, including Viña Chela’s cheerful Malbec 2013 – smooth, smoky and organic for spicy grilled chorizo-in-a-bun. Also watch for the Bota Box Old Vine Zinfandel, holding 4 bottles-worth of good tasting red in a bag-in-box offering that over delivers.

Treve Ring

Errazuriz Max Reserva Sauvignon Blanc 2013 Trapiche Pure Malbec 2012 Norton Barrel Select Malbec 2010With a jump on this month’s World Malbec Day, stock up on Norton 2010 Malbec Barrel Select and pour its smoky tobacco and cassis with a thick wedge of BBQ beef. For a few bucks more, I recommend grabbing the Trapiche 2012 Pure Malbec – a chance to taste what pure Malbec is like, unharnessed and unsuppressed by oak.

Of course, there are more colours in the rainbow than malbec blue. A quick hop over the Andes lands you in Aconcagua Valley, and as you continue towards the coast you’ll come across this vibrant, spring fresh Errazuriz Don Max Reserva Sauvignon Blanc 2013, tropical-fruit ready to meet your fruit chutneys or white fish. 

~

WineAlign in BC

In addition to our popular 20 Under $20 shopping guide, we publish the monthly Critics’ Picks report and include the wines across any price point and channel that excite us each month, as well as the BC Wine Report, a look at all things in the BC Wine Industry. Lastly, Anthony Gismondi closes out each month with his Final Blend column – an expert insight into wine culture and trends, honed by more than 25 years experience as an influential and global critic.


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Laughing Stock Wine Club

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C’est le printemps, enfin ! Les choix de Nadia pour avril

par Nadia Fournier

Nadia Fournier - New - Cropped

Nadia Fournier

La semaine dernière, mon collègue Bill Zacharkiw vous a déjà communiqué ses coups de cœur, parmi les vins du Nouvel arrivage Cellier, mis en vente les 2 et 16 avril.

Sans doute inspirée par le début imminent des séries éliminatoires de la Ligue nationale – avec ou sans la participation de Pacioretty aux côtés du CH –, j’ai choisi de vous présenter ma sélection hebdomadaire sous la forme d’une série de trios.

Un panaché de produits du présent Cellier et d’autres belles bouteilles fraîchement arrivées en succursales et une petite thématique légère en ces temps d’austérité économique et climatique.

Trio Beaujo

Aussi élève du regretté Jules Chauvet, Jean Foillard est un nom important de l’appellation Morgon, où il façonne des vins plutôt raffinés, élégants et dotés d’un excellent potentiel de garde. Son simple Beaujolais 2013 (23,70 $) est à découvrir. Servir frais et boire avec un plaisir gourmand.

Georges Descombes Brouilly 2013 Château Cambon Beaujolais 2013 Jean Foillard Beaujolais 2013Sous la gouverne de Marie Lapierre – veuve du regretté Marcel Lapierre – et de Jean-Claude Chanudet, le Château Cambon est lui aussi exploité en agriculture biologique. On y produit un très bon Beaujolais 2013 générique (23,45 $), passablement substantiel et doté d’une personnalité affirmée.

Georges Descombes applique la même philosophie peu interventionniste dans l’élaboration de ses vins du Beaujolais. Plus étoffé et concentré que la moyenne de l’appellation, son Brouilly 2013 (24,80 $) mise néanmoins à fond sur la rondeur fruitée du gamay.

Trio « Rhone Rangers » 

Comme Bordeaux avec ses cabernet et merlot, le Rhône et ses cépages inspirent un nombre croissant de producteurs étrangers. Constatant que leur climat était plus comparable à celui d’Avignon qu’à ceux de Beaune ou de Margaux, un groupe de producteurs californiens, comiquement surnommé Rhone Rangers, a commencé à implanter les cépages rhodaniens dans différents secteurs de la Côte Ouest américaine.

Dans son vignoble de Santa Cruz (Bonny Doon Vineyard), Randall Grahm ne jure que par les syrah, grenache, mourvèdre, counoise, carignan et autres variétés méditerranéennes. Adepte de la biodynamie depuis plusieurs années maintenant, le créateur du très populaire Cigare Volant atteint selon moi un nouveau sommet cette annnée avec le Cigare Volant 2009 (49,50 $). Tout aussi séduisant que par le passé, mais surtout plus complexe et multidimensionnel, il repose sur des tanins d’une grande finesse.

Yangarra Shiraz 2012 Birichino Besson Grenache Vineyard Vigne Centenaire 2012 Bonny Doon Le Cigare Volant 2009Sous l’étiquette Birichino, John Locke – ancien vinificateur chez Bonny Doon – commercialise le Grenache 2012 Besson Vineyard (24 $). Un grenache hors norme, ne serait-ce que par sa couleur très pâle. Souple, rond et relevé de bons goûts de kirsch et de cacao, il donne presque l’impression de croquer un Cherry Blossom, sucrosité et mal de dents en moins.

Je triche un peu ici en vous amenant en Australie, mais pas tant que ça, puisque Yangarra appartient à des intérêts californiens depuis 2001. Racheté par Jess Jackson et Barbara Banke (Jackson Family Wines), ce domaine de McLaren Vale est maintenant conduit en biodynamie et donne ici un vin d’un équilibre exemplaire. Dégustée à trois reprises depuis février, le Shiraz 2012 me plaît davantage à chaque fois. Tanins serrés, pureté et un registre aromatique complexe, que les Anglais décriraient comme «savory» et les Japonais, «umami». L’une des meilleures syrahs du Nouveau Monde dégustées au cours des derniers mois, et pas la plus chère… 

Trio sud-ouest de la France 

Château Larose Trintaudon 2009 Château Laroque 2009 Domaine Elian da Ros le Vin est une Fête 2013Au sud-est de Bordeaux, sur la rive gauche de la Garonne, les Côtes du Marmandais sont très largement dominée par une importante cave coopérative. De retour au vignoble familial après avoir fait ses classes en Alsace (Zind-Humbrecht), Élian Da Ros n’a pas tardé à s’imposer comme un leader qualitatif de l’appellation. Assemblage de merlot, de cabernet franc et d’abouriou, Le Vin est une Fête 2013 (21,05 $) a tout pour plaire. Un vin de soif, façon Sud-Ouest; charnu, plein de vitalité et abordable.

À l’abri des courants de mode qui ont soufflé sur la Gironde depuis une vingtaine d’années, la famille Beaumartin veille sur cette propriété de Saint-Christophe-des-Bardes, à l’est de Saint-Émilion. Son Château Laroque 2009 (66,50 $) est déjà excellent, mais il a l’équilibre et la matière nécessaires pour gagner en profondeur et en nuances au cours de 5-7 prochaines années. 

Château Larose Trintaudon est la plus vaste propriété médocaine, avec ses 175 hectares. Son Haut-Médoc 2009 (26,05 $) porte l’empreinte du cabernet sauvignon, tant par ses senteurs de cuir et de poivron rouge, que par son cadre tannique très droit. Très bon 2009 sur un mode plus classique qu’exubérant.

Trio mencia

Ronsel Do Sil Vel'uveyra Ribeira Sacra 2012 Gotín del Risc Mencía 2010 Enedina 2012Située tout au nord de l’Espagne, entre la Galice et la Rioja, la petite appellation Bierzo a le vent dans les voiles depuis une dizaine d’années. Principal outil des vignerons, le cépage mencía est aussi connu sous le nom de jaén dans la région du Dão.

Projet commun de Raúl Pérez et de Pablo Frías (bodegas Tilenus), deux œnologues vedettes de la région. Ensemble, ils signent le Enedina Bierzo 2012, un vin de facture moderne, stylistiquement à mi-chemin entre Bierzo et les vins de la Rioja.

Sur un mode encore plus costaud et mettant davantage le bois de chêne à contribution, le Bodega del Abad Gotín Del Risc 2010 (17,90 $) est assez flatteur, avec son attaque en bouche ronde, mais repose sur des tanins fermes, qui assurent son tonus.

Enfin, je dois avouer un penchant tout naturel pour le délicieux Mencía 2012, Vel’ Uveyra de Ronsel do Sil, le projet de Pablo Blanco et Olivier Rivière dans la Ribeira Sacra, une appellation de création récente (1996) et seule D.O. galicienne consacrée au vin rouge.

Trio rosé : pied de nez à la grisaille

Pétale de Rose 2014 Le Pive Gris Vin Rosé 2014 Domaine de la Rectorie Côté Mer Collioure Rosé 2013Les frères Parcé n’ont plus à prouver leur talent dans l’élaboration de vins racés et distinctifs. Leur Côté Mer Rosé 2013 Collioure (27 $), en soi, donne envie de célébrer le retour des beaux jours. Salin comme une brise marine, pimpant, plein de vitalité, il fait néanmoins preuve d’un registre de saveurs complexes et d’une tenue de bouche digne de mention. Plus cher que la moyenne, mais impeccable!

Parmi les valeurs sûres à la SAQ en matière de rosé, le Pive Gris 2014 est toujours aussi satisfaisant dans sa catégorie. Issu de l’agriculture biologique, désaltérant et parfumé comme il se doit. D’autant plus recommandable qu’il est vendu sous la barre des 15 $ (avec un rabais de 1 $), jusqu’au 19 avril 2015.

Lui aussi en promotion jusqu’au 19 avril, le Pétale de Rose 2014 (20,25 $ moins 1 $) de Régine Sumeire ne connaît aucun fléchissement. Animé d’un léger reste de gaz, frais et délicatement vineux, c’est l’archétype du bon rosé de Provence.

Santé!

Nadia Fournier

~

Présentation dela fonction CELLIER

Nouvel arrivage CELLIERAfin de vous guider encore mieux dans vous achats et faciliter vos emplettes, nous avons ajouté une fonction spéciale au site Chacun son vin pour nos membres Privilège.

Chaque fois que la SAQ met en vente ces nouveaux arrivages, vous n’aurez qu’à visiter notre site et cliquer sur l’onglet «Vin» puis sur «Nouvel arrivage CELLIER», dans le menu déroulant. Aussi simple que cela !

Vous pourrez ainsi lire mes notes de dégustation sur tous les vins du CELLIER, en un seul et même endroit.

À la vôtre!

Nadia Fournier

Les favoris de Nadia – Cellier 2 avril
Les favoris de Nadia – Cellier 16 avril

Note de la rédaction: Cet accès exclusif, ainsi que la possibilité de lire dès leur publication tous les commentaires de dégustation publiés sur Chacun son Vin, est offert à nos membres Privilège pour la somme de 40 $ par année. (Les membres inscrits bénéficiant d’un accès gratuit doivent, pour leur part, attendre 60 jours avant de pouvoir accéder à tout notre contenu.)


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Gabbiano - Emmène-moi en Toscane !

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Season 5, Table 4 of “So, You Think you Know Wine?”

Grinding to a Halt (a.k.a. The Crusher)

Will “So, You Think You Know Wine?” contestants Zoltan Szabo, Brad Royale, and Chris McDonald be stoked or stumped by the mystery wine at Table 4?

Without any clues, host Seán Cullen takes each table through the swirling, sniffing, and gurgling ritual of wine tasting—asking them to correctly identify the grape, country, region, vintage, and price of the wine. Cullen then issues each player a score but not without, first, testing a few of his own theories against the experts. A champion eventually emerges.

So, You Think You Know Wine? Table 4

You may have noticed that the first few rounds have been challenging for everyone. It is important to note that some of these crowd-pleasing wines, while tasting good, may lack some of the varietal characteristics that would lead our experts to the correct answer. The tables get better and better as the varietal character of future wines shines through. We thought it would still be fun to share these first few rounds with you.

Click here to watch Table 4 or read on to learn more about the contestants and the scoring method.

Table 4

As always, the video series brings together Canada’s top wine experts, but this time a few well-known food personalities have taken on the daunting task of competing against wine critics, sommeliers, and wine educators.

Zoltan Szabo

Zoltan has worked in the hospitality industry for two decades and on three continents.  He worked his way up from dishwasher to sommelier to general manager.  Nowadays he’s a consultant, wine judge, educator, and journalist. In 2009, he won the title of Grand Champion in the prestigious Wine Tasting Challenge.

Zoltan Szabo

Chris McDonald

Chris has worked in Toronto restaurants for 40 years. He started out as a busboy and quickly traveled up the ranks eventually becoming chef and owner of two of Toronto’s most loved restaurants – Avalon and Cava.  He’s now taking a well-deserved break before he starts his next adventure.

Chris McDonald

Brad Royale

Brad has been involved in retail and restaurant management for fifteen years and he is now the Wine Director for Canadian Rocky Mountain Resorts. He has won multiple awards for his wine programs. In 2012 Brad launched his own wine label, Kitten Swish…it’s delicious.

Brad Royale

The Scoring

The scoring on each wine remains similar to past seasons with points for Variety, Country, Region, Appellation, Vintage and Price.

Variety:  3 points
Country, Region, Appellation:  up to 4 points
Vintage:  up to 2 points
Price (within 10% on either side): 1 point

Let the games begin! Pour yourself a glass of wine and watch table 4.

For those of you new to our video series, “So, You Think You Know Wine?”, we have saved all previous episodes under the Videos tab.

Previously on Season 5 of “So, You Think You Know Wine?”:

Table 1 – Wolf Blass Gold Label Chardonnay 2013
Table 2 – Creekside Sauvignon Blanc 2013
Table 3 – Catena Cabernet Sauvignon 2012

We hope that you find this new series entertaining and that you have as much fun watching as we did filming. As usual, please send your comments to feedback@winealign.com and feel free to share this video with your friends and family.

Special thanks to our glassware sponsor, Schott Zwiesel, for their beautiful glasses and carafes used during filming.


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Balderson Cheese

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Final Blend: Niagara Falls, Step by Step, Inch by Inch

by Anthony Gismondi

Anthony Gismondi

Anthony Gismondi

It’s that time of the year again when the WineAlign team gears up in preparation for the National Wine Awards of Canada. The annual search for the best wine in the country is now in its 15th year at least for David Lawrason and me. It started back in Toronto in 2001 under the aegis of the now defunct Wine Access Magazine and for the last three years the WineAlign team has picked up the Canadian wine baton and run with it.

The Nationals have never been an easy feat to pull off. It’s not like the Canadian wine industry is one big happy bunch of folks who can’t wait to get into a room and work together. In fact, the wine scene very much mirrors the convoluted, patchwork quilt of people who make up this country and its culture. Every year when David and I sit down to prepare for The Nationals we feel a great deal of pressure to make sure all of the country’s wines can be brought together in one room to be assessed over one week and produce what we hope are unimpeachable results.

But getting everyone to buy in is tough.

Wineries have their reasons for entering or not entering competitions. All we can do is run the most rigourous tasting in the county, if not the world. After that, all we can hope for is that by applying the highest standards to our work, we convince everyone that getting their wine in front of a broad selection of experienced tasters from across the country is good for consumers, wineries and Canadian wine culture.

By the time we assemble 18 judges and an equal amount of people in the back room for a full week of work we are happy not to lose too much money. But on the bright side this spring we want to explore the real reasons the entire WineAlign team will be in Niagara Falls this June. We love wine and we can’t wait to find out who is making the best examples of Canadian wine in 2015.

Nk'mip Cellars Qwam Qwmt Pinot Noir 2012 Norman Hardie County Unfiltered Pinot Noir 2012 Painted Rock Red Icon 2011 Hidden Bench Tête De Cuvée Chardonnay 2011

We can’t wait to see who will top the competition this year. Could this be the breakthrough for Nk’Mip Cellars or Norman Hardie, Painted Rock or Hidden Bench – I’m sure Mission Hill and/or last year’s winner Peller Estates Winery Niagara-on-the-Lake will have something to say about that. Will the syrah flights grab the highest marks; will Laughing Stock top the charts again? Will Canadian chardonnay continue its ascension to a place we can all be excited about? It’s what makes this the most important week in wine in Canada.

Mission Hill Perpetua Osoyoos Vineyard Estate 2011Andrew Peller Signature Series Sauvignon Blanc 2012Laughing Stock Vineyards Syrah Perfect Hedge Vineyard 2012

With the doors now open to the National Wine Awards of Canada 2015 it will be interesting to see if we can entice more entries from Quebec and Nova Scotia. Both regions have been working hard at raising their game and there’s no better proving ground than our five-day blind tasting, where every wine is given equal and fair shot at showing its best.

What we do know is the quality level of the wines entered has risen exponentially in recent years as all the work going on in Canadian vineyards is finally coming to fruition. It’s not easy to make the finals and it’s even tougher to win against all the other finalists but that’s what makes it worth entering.

Maclean's - WineAlign Awards ResultsThere’s no better benchmark for Canadian wine producers to discover how they measure up against their neighbours and competitors across the country, and frankly there is no better tool for Canadian wine drinkers to use then the results of the Nationals to see how their favourites measure up.

Speaking of results, each year we continue to speed up the process of getting the story out sooner than later. We expect to publish the full results, including awarding the prestigious Canadian Winery of the Year, online at WineAlign by the end of July 2015. That should help everyone find more of the winning wines over the summer and busy fall/harvest season and hopefully inspire many of you visit one of Canada’s spectacular wine regions.

Two years ago we instituted the first full integration of the results into the WineAlign website and have had nothing but positive feedback from you, our readers, who enjoy being able to access the results while standing in wine shops and wineries. Last year, the results of both of our awards The Nationals and the World Wine Awards of Canada were printed in a special section of Maclean’s magazine and we are pursuing similar options in 2015.

In 2014, we had 1,335 different wines entered from 219 wineries across Canada. (Click here to see the results from the 2014 National Wine Awards of Canada.) This year, we expect to be bigger and better than ever, with a new record for entries.

You can follow all the action at #NWAC15 as we prepare for the awards throughout the spring right through the judging where up to the minute thoughts fly from the front room judges and back room organisers. As I finish this piece, the first riesling entry for 2015 has just been entered. Last year we were privileged to taste 96 different riesling from all over the country. If that doesn’t inspire you to be a part of the 2015 National Wine Awards of Canada, we are not sure what ever will.

See you all (virtually) in Niagara Falls in June.

 

~ Anthony Gismondi closes out each month with his Final Blend column – an expert insight into wine culture and trends, honed by more than 25 years experience as an influential and global critic. Click here to visit his WineAlign profile page.

 


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Concha Y Toro Don Melchor Cabernet Sauvignon 2010

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Top 20 under $20 at the LCBO (April)

Your Guide to the Best Values, Limited Time Offers & Bonus Air Miles selections at the LCBO
by Steve Thurlow

Steve Thurlow

Steve Thurlow

The Top 20 under $20 are best buys among the 1600 or so wines in LCBO Wines and the VINTAGES Essentials Collection. This month, most of the wines selected are wines that are also on Steve’s Top 50, a standing WineAlign list based on quality/price ratio. (You can read in detail how the Top 50 works below).

There are many wines on promotion in April, such that eight on today’s Top 20 list have Bonus Air Miles (BAMs) that apply or are on sale (Limited Time Offer), making these wines even more attractive for the next four weeks or so. You may notice that two wines come from the VINTAGES section of the store. I normally don’t include wines from here, except for VINTAGES Essentials, since they rarely offer as much value as those in the LCBO’s general list section and they tend to sell through very quickly. However, I made an exception here since there are large stocks and they both offer great value. I was in Chile and Argentina for the last three weeks leading a wine tour and had the chance to re-taste both of them.

April’s promotional period runs until the 26th, so don’t miss your chance to make these wines even more affordable. Thanks to WineAlign’s inventory tracking, I was able to ensure that there were stocks available, when we published, of every wine that I highlight.

Editors Note: You can find our complete critic reviews by clicking on any of the wine names, bottle images or links highlighted. Paid subscribers to WineAlign see all critic reviews immediately. Non-paid users wait 60 days to see new reviews. Membership has its privileges; like first access to great value wines!

Reds

Apelia Agiorgitiko 2012 (1000ml), Greece ($10.15 + 4 BAMs). New to Top 50: Agiorgitiko is one of Greece’s best red grapes. This is a clean fresh red wine that is fruity, midweight and well balanced making it a good everyday red.

Spadafora Terrano Rosso 2012, Calabria, Italy ($8.50 + 3 BAMs). Top 50 April: A recent listing that shows plummy fresh aromas with no oak and a midweight juicy palate. Try with burgers.

Portugal Ramos Loios Red 2013, Vinho Regional Alentejano, Portugal ($9.30). New to Top 50: This is a ripe, fleshy, clean, easy-drinking wine with soft tannins and fresh red berry fruit flavours with some complexity and good depth of flavour.

Apelia Agiorgitiko 2012 Spadafora Terrano Rosso 2012 J. Portugal Ramos Loios Red 2013 Hardys Stamp Of Australia Shiraz Cabernet 2013

Hardys Stamp Of Australia Shiraz Cabernet 2013, South Eastern Australia ($9.85 + 5 BAMs). A  fresh pure syrah/cabernet blend, very linear with great focus. Good depth of flavour with lots of fruit and very good length.

Fuzion Alta Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 Mendoza, Argentina ($9.95 + 5 BAMs). Top 50 April: A soft flavourful and well structured cabernet for a good price.

Pessoa Da Vinha Reserva 2010 Douro Valley, Portugal ($11.20 was $12.20). Top 50 April: An opaque full-bodied purple wine with a fragrant pure nose of blackberry fruit with well integrated oak spice plus vanilla and herbal tones. Decant for an hour and enjoy with a steak.

Carmen Reserva Carmenère 2013, Colchagua Valley, Chile ($11.45). New to Top 50: An aromatic carmenère with just the right amount of ripeness. Very good length.

Carmen Cabernet Sauvignon Reserva 2013, Colchagua Valley, Chile ($11.45). New to Top 50: A well priced fragrant caberent that’s full-bodied and deeply flavoured. Try with lamb cutlets.

Fuzion Alta Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 Pessoa Da Vinha Reserva Douro 2010 Carmen Reserva Carmenère 2013 Carmen Cabernet Sauvignon Reserva 2013 Trapiche Broquel Malbec 2012

Trapiche Broquel Malbec 2012, Mendoza, Argentina ($12.95 was $14.95). Top 50 April: A fruity malbec with herbal and floral tones and, though full-bodied, seems lighter due to vibrant lemony acidity. It finishes firm and dry with very good length.

Emiliana Adobe Reserva Merlot 2013, Rapel Valley, Chile ($13.05 + 8 BAMs). New to Top 50 EARTH DAY SPECIAL DURING APRIL: A lot of depth and complexity for such an inexpensive wine. Its clean lively with pure aromas and flavours and very good  length.

Santa Carolina Specialties Dry Farming Carignan 2010, Cauquenes Valley, Chile ($17.95). VINTAGES EXCEPTIONAL VALUE: A beautiful full-bodied vibrant red that’s elegant with a wild character. Try with lamb cutlets.

Emiliana Adobe Reserva Merlot 2013 Santa Carolina Specialties Dry Farming Carignan 2010 Firestone Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 Wynns Coonawarra Estate Black Label Cabernet Sauvignon 2012

Firestone Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 2012, Santa Ynez Valley, California, USA ($19.90). New to Top 50: An elegant refined cabernet that’s ripe without being overripe with just enough oak, finely balanced with excellent length.

Wynns Coonawarra Estate Black Label Cabernet Sauvignon 2012, Coonawarra, South Australia ($27.95). New to Top 50 from VINTAGES Essentials: First a disclaimer. This is more than $20. But it is so awesome and such great value that it got into my Top 50 list this month and I wanted to tell you all about it. So if you want to splurge a little and enjoy, this is a superb, very drinkable, very classy cabernet with layers of flavour and a refined very appealing pureness. Finely balanced with excellent length.

Whites

Apelia Moschofilero 2013 (1000ml), Greece ($9.95 + 4 BAMs). New to Top 50: Moschofilero is one of Greece’s best indigenous grapes. This is a fresh dry white that pinot grigio adherents should try.

K W V Contemporary Collection Chenin Blanc 2014, Western Cape, South Africa ($9.45 + 4 BAMs). Top 50 April: Clean well made white at a great price. Good depth of flavour and palate length. Try with seafood or mildly flavoured chicken dishes.

Apelia Moschofilero 2013 K W V Contemporary Collection Chenin Blanc 2014 Frisky Beaver White 2013 The Wolftrap White 2013

Frisky Beaver White 2013, VQA Ontario ($13.95). New to Top 50: An aromatic off-dry white which is smooth and juicy. A nice aperitif or try with seafood. Don’t be misled by the wacky packaging; there is some quite serious wine inside.

The Wolftrap White 2013, Western Cape, South Africa ($13.95). New to Top 50: A very aromatic intensely flavoured pure white, that is rich and very creamy. Try with pork chops.

Monkey Bay Pinot Grigio 2014, Hawkes Bay, New Zealand ($13.95). New to Top 50: A good basic pinot grigio with a fragrant, floral, peachy nose with some minerality. It is clean, fresh with a crisp almost dry finish.

Monkey Bay Pinot Grigio 2014 Segura Viudas Brut Reserva Cava Santa Carolina Gran Reserva Chardonnay 2012

Segura Viudas Brut Reserva Cava, Spain ($14.45). New to Top 50: Best value bubbly under $15 at LCBO. Fresh nose with pure apple pear flavour, a soft creamy texture and very good length.

Santa Carolina Gran Reserva Chardonnay 2012, Casablanca Valley, Chile ($15.95). VINTAGES EXCEPTIONAL VALUE: Fantastic value for a serious very bold chardonnay for rich white meat dishes.

How does a wine get selected for the Top 20 under $20.

Top 20 Under 20There are three ways that a wine gets into this monthly report of wines that are always in the stores either on the LCBO “General List” or the VINTAGES Essential Collection.

– On Sale (LTO’s or Limited Time Offers): Every four weeks the LCBO discounts around 200 wines. I have looked through the current batch and have highlighted some of my favourites that offer better value at present…. so stock up now.

– Bonus Air Miles (BAM’s): If you collect Air Miles then you will be getting Bonus Air Miles on another 150 or so wines…a few of these have a special appeal for a while.

– Steve’s Top 50: Wines that have moved onto my Top 50 Best Values this month. This is on an-on going WineAlign selection (Top 50,) that mathematically calculates value by comparing the price and rating of all the wines on the LCBO General List. You can access the report any time and read more about it now.

The Rest of Steve’s Top 50

I am pleased to tell you that we have now worked through the massive recent delist at the LCBO, such that none of the wines currently on the Top 50 list rely on a delist price to be there. In addition to the wines mentioned above, there are another 33 wines on the Top 50 list this month. So if you did not find all you need in this report, dip into the Top 50 LCBO and VINTAGES Essentials wines. There will surely be something inexpensive that suits your taste.

To be included in the Top 50 for value a wine must be inexpensive while also having a high score, indicating high quality. I use a mathematical model to make the Top 50 selections from the wines in our database. I review the list every month to include newly listed and recently tasted vintages of current listings as well as monitoring the value of those put on sale for a limited time.

Before value wine shopping remember to consult the Top 50 (Click on Wine =>Top 50 Value Wines to be taken directly to the list), since it is always changing. If you find that there is a new wine on the shelf or a new vintage that we have not reviewed, let us know. Moreover if you disagree with our reviews, tell us please us. And if you think our reviews are accurate, send us some feedback since it’s good to hear that you agree with us.

The Top 50 changes all the time, so remember to check before shopping. I will be back next month with more news on value arrivals to Essentials and the LCBO.

Cheers!

Steve Thurlow

Top 20 Under $20
Top 50 Value Wines

Editors Note: You can find our complete critic reviews by clicking on any of the wine names, bottle images or links highlighted. Paid subscribers to WineAlign see all critic reviews immediately. Non-paid users wait 60 days to see new reviews. Membership has its privileges; like first access to great value wines!


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Montresor Soave Classico 2013

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WineAlign Reviews

Coldstream Hills Pinot Noir 2008