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Buyers’ Guide to VINTAGES July 11th – Part One

Spain’s Diversity Uncorked (Sort of)
By David Lawrason, with notes from John Szabo MS

David Lawrason

David Lawrason

Spanish wine continues to surprise, challenge and often delight both the palate and the pocket book. In May I spent a week in the Catalonia region, first in Priorat then in Penedès and Barcelona with its umpteen thousand restaurants. I had expected to be wowed by Priorat (about which I will write in depth soon) but I had not expected to be so impressed by the range, diversity and quality of the sparklers, whites (in particular) and reds emerging from other Catalan DOs (appellations) like Conca de Barbera, Costers del Segre and Terra Alta. And to think that such diversity, and such greatly improved winemaking, is being replicated in regions large and small from the Mediterranean to the Atlantic, and south into the centre of the country as well.

This VINTAGES release aims to showcase Spain’s regional and varietal diversity, and provides some decent value wines en route, if no stunning “must buy values”. But I would love to see more specialized regional releases from Spain. When was the last time VINTAGES mounted a feature solely on “France”, or “Italy”? Never! Spain’s regions need to be embraced the same way as Tuscany or Bordeaux or the Southern Rhône. And it certainly has enough regional diversity to provide several features over several months.

I have heard from two reputable sources that VINTAGES put out “a call” for Spanish wine submissions and received about 1,400 applications (on paper). Less than 50 were actually sampled, and only 15 were purchased (that’s just over 1%). The first shocker is that so many Spanish wineries want access to the LCBO/Ontario market; the second is just how ridiculously limited VINTAGES offerings are, with no other available retail venues for the wines. (See last month’s rant about Canadian wine for the reason why).

So yes, Spain is a brave new world for wine exploration and if you are curious you should seriously consider travelling there to grasp its vinous depth. Never mind that it is one of the most historically rich countries in the world. And that the food is fantastic as well, reaching far beyond stereotypes of paella, jamon and tapas.

WineAlign Bus to I4CThis week John and I offer our recommendations from the Spanish release, while Sara vacations and tastes in the south of France. We also offer other white wine finds. Next week John leads off with chardonnays coming to VINTAGES and the International Cool Climate Chardonnay Celebration July 17-19. We have a handful of seats remaining on the WineAlign bus to the Grand Tasting & Dinner on July 18. John Szabo will be joining the group for dinner, so you can compare tasting notes at the al fresco feast.

Spanish Cavas and Whites

Juvé & Camps 2011 Cinta Purpura Reserva Brut Cava, Penedès, Spain ($18.95)

David Lawrason – Fine character and complexity here from one of the most highly regarded producers of Penedès. It is aged 24 months on its lees before release. It shows a generous, complex nose of baked peach, hazelnut and dried flowers with a touch of lees. Nicely fresh but has some substance as well.
John Szabo – Another terrific Cava, on the more mature, richer side of the spectrum, for use at the table rather than aperitif hour.

Gramona 2006 Iii Lustros Gran Reserva Brut Nature Cava, Penedès, Spain ($49.95)

John Szabo – This was a brave listing by the LCBO, a $50 wine in a category that rarely exceeds $20. The wine, however, is absolutely superb. This has all of the class and complexity of great traditional method sparkling wine, crafted in artisanal fashion by Jaume and Xavier Gramona, the fifth generation of a family business established in 1881. If you thought Cava was trapped in the cheap and cheerful bubbly category, this will change your mind.

Juvé & Camps Cinta Purpura Reserva Brut Cava 2011 Gramona Iii Lustros Gran Reserva Brut Nature Cava 2006 Finca Las Caraballas Verdejo 2013 Pansa Blanca 2014

Finca Las Caraballas 2013 Verdejo,Vino de la Tierra de Castilla y Leon, Spain ($16.95)

David Lawrason – This is an organically produced, fairly deeply coloured young Verdejo. Not from Rueda but is made in the proximity. It is almost overripe with yellow plum jam/raisiny fruit, fennel, nut shell and waxiness. Quite full bodied, very smooth, with great flavour depth.
John Szabo – This will be a polarizing wine, already golden amber and clearly made in a highly oxidative style. But forget the standard paradigms. Is the wine good? On that score, the wine succeeds. This is like a juicy, overripe mango that has fallen from the tree, sprinkled with sea salt and a squeeze of lemon and tangerine. For the price, it’s worth the punt to expand your horizons.

Alta Alella 2014 Pansa Blanca, Catalunya, Spain ($14.95)

David Lawrason – Pansa Blanca is a local name for the xarel-lo grape, one of three used in Cava. This still wine version is produced by Alta Allela, a leading organic producer. It is very brightly made – no organic funk here. Expect fairly reserved, almost overripe yellow plum, mild fresh mint and spice.

Spanish Reds & Fortified

Cune 2010 Reserva, Rioja ($23.95)

Bodegas Ochoa Reserva 2007 Cune Reserva 2010John Szabo – Traditional Rioja is one of the great wines of the world, and CVNE (Compañía Vinícola del Norte de España), a grand old Bodega in the heart of Haro in the Rioja Alta, is one of the protagonists. Since 1879 they’ve been crafting wines like this Reserva, finely balanced, mid-weight, firm, nicely chiseled. Although drinkable now, this will be much better in 2-4 years, or hold until the mid ’20s without issue.
David Lawrason – This is quite refined, well balanced young Rioja from a classic, traditional producer. The nose shows fairly generous, soft aromas of cherry, vanillin, cedar and burlap/earthiness. It’s mid-weight, fairly tender yet generous.

Bodegas Ochoa 2007 Reserva, Navarra  ($24.95)

David Lawrason – This single vineyard tempranillo-cabernet-merlot blend has an engaging, very lifted nose of rosemary/mint, blackcurrant with meaty notes and some soya character. It’s mid-weight, elegant, dense and lifted with vibrant acidity.

Peña 2010 Roble Crianza, Ribera del Duero, Spain ($21.95)

John Szabo – A mid-weight, balanced, lively, saliva-inducing tempranillo, with light, dusty tannins and firm acids. This works nicely on a gastronomic level.

Maetierra Dominum 2007 Quatro Pagos, Rioja ($19.95)

David Lawrason – This is a ‘vino do pago’ or estate wine, assembled from four separately vinified sites (quarto pagos) belonging to a winery called Maetierra Dominum. It’s based on tempranillo; a mature Rioja showing lifted meaty, smoky, spicy and dark cherry notes. It’s medium-full bodied and quite dense, with some liveliness and further ageing potential.

Tomàs Cusiné 2013 Llebre, Costers del Segre ($15.95)

David Lawrason – This is a fresh young tempranillo (called llebre in Catalan) from an inland region of Catalonia. It has a lifted, spicy, peppery almost Rhonish nose with violets and generous wood spice. It’s quite soft, a touch sweet with some warmth (14% alc) and generosity.

Peña Roble Crianza 2010 Maetierra Dominum QP 2007 Tomàs Cusiné Llebre 2013 Chapillon Siendra 2011 Gonzalez Byass Del Duque Amontillado Viejo

Chapillon Siendra 2011, Calatayud ($14.95)

David Lawrason – This is from Bodegas Langa, the oldest and largest family winery in the interior, high altitude region of Calatayud. It is 80% old vine garnacha spiced with cabernet, merlot and syrah. The nose is almost sweet with violet/pansy florality, chocolate and ripe plummy/blackberry fruit. It’s open-knit, dense, soft and a bit sweet.

Gonzalez Byass Del Duque Vors Amontillado, Vinum Optimum Rare Signatum, Jerez, ($38.95)

Antonio Flores, Gonzalez-Byass

Antonio Flores, Gonzalez-Byass

John Szabo – Terrific to see this back on our shelves, an outstanding old Amontillado, one of my favourites from the excellent Gonzalez-Byass range. VORS means a minimum of 30 years of age, and the first whiff is “like opening the door of an antique shop” according to capataz Antonio Flores, in a fireworks display of complexity. The palate is explosive, powerful, yet still suave and smooth, with tremendous length. Needless to say, value is off the charts.

Other International Whites

Salomon-Undhof 2013 Kremser Tor Grüner Veltliner, Alte Reben, Kremstal, Austria ($21.95)

David Lawrason – From a classic Kremstal-based producer dating back over 200 years, this is a bright, rich and quite fruity young grüner – a bit softer than some, but it has polish and freshness. Expect gentle aromas of yellow pear/plum fruit. It is great to find this quality at the $20 mark.
John Szabo – If you like wines with a sense of place, you can’t go wrong with this genuine old vine beauty. I love the substance without excessive ripeness, and at 13.5% declared, this hits a fine balance. Give it another year in the bottle to really come together.

Domaine Des Baumard 2011 Clos de Saint Yves Savennières, Loire, France ($34.95)

John Szabo – For some inexplicable reason, the top wines of Savennières have never achieved the prices of other great whites from around the world, but they surely should be counted among them. This is ultra-classic chenin blanc with its honest, wet hay, barley, wheat cracker, and honey flavours, very generous texturally but shapely and firm, but more importantly, chock-full of sapid, salty mineral character. It’s the sort of timeless wine you can enjoy now or in a decade, or more. Best 2015-2026.

Tawse Sketches Of Niagara 2013 Riesling, Niagara Peninsula ($17.95)

David Lawrason – For several years now Tawse Sketches Riesling has been punching above its weight. Not in terms of complexity and structure, but in delivering effortless, super bright, balanced, sippable riesling with textbook fruit, florals and just enough minerality. The excellent 2013 white vintage in Niagara adds to its cachet. A great buy under $20.

Salomon Undhof Alte Reben Grüner Veltliner 2013 Domaine Des Baumard Clos Saint Yves Savennières 2011Tawse Sketches Riesling 2013Domaine Gerovassiliou Malagousia Vieilles Vignes 2014 Reinhold Haart To Heart Piesport Riesling 2013

Gerovassiliou 2014 Malagousia Vieilles Vignes, IGP Epanomi, Macedonia, Greece ($23.95)

John Szabo – I reckon you might as well have your introduction to this variety from the man who literally rescued it from near oblivion in the 1970s. Gerovassiliou is still the reference for Malagousia in Greece (and thus the world), and his 2014, a full, rich, fleshy, abundantly fruity wine, drinks like top end viognier.

Reinhold Haart 2013 Haart To Heart Piesport Riesling, Mosel ($19.95)

John Szabo – A terrific Mosel riesling to buy by the case, from one of the great producers in Piesport. I’d swear there is some declassified “GG” (Grosses Gewächs, or grand cru) blended in here.

And that’s a wrap for this edition. WineAlign has set new readership records in recent weeks, during a traditionally slower season. We thank you for your continued support and enthusiasm. We hope you are enjoying some down time during our not-yet-too-hot summer.

Cheers!

From VINTAGES July 11th, 2015

Lawrason’s Take
Szabo’s Smart Buys
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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Castello Di Gabbiano Chianti Classico Riserva 2011


International Cool Climate Chardonnay Celebration

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Buyers’ Guide to VINTAGES June 27 – Part Two

Canada is Bigger than Canada Day
By David Lawrason, with notes from John Szabo and Sara d’Amato

David Lawrason

David Lawrason

As VINTAGES releases its token selection of new Canadian wines this week ahead of Canada Day – all ten of them among 120 new releases – John, Sara, Michael and I plus other WineAlign critics are in Niagara judging over 1400 Canadian wines at the National Wine Awards of Canada. I have never been one to overplay patriotism as a reason to drink Canadian wine, firmly believing that quality must be the driver of its success. These annual awards are a significant tool to that end, helping winemakers benchmark themselves, and providing consumers with the names of those wines that stand out. We will certainly be displaying the winners in the weeks ahead. Your inbox will be buzzing with the news.

But I am disappointed that VINTAGES, during Canada’s national week, has not greatly bumped up its Canadian representation. Why not devote an entire release to Canadian wine? There are certainly enough very good wines out there from B.C., Ontario, Quebec and Nova Scotia.

Well here’s why it’s not happening. The LCBO has a template that prescribes how many wines, from which countries/regions, get released every two weeks. And it’s really all about store/shelf management – keeping the same number of SKUs in the same locations within the same stores week after week, month after month, year after year, decade after decade. Arguably it is for the shopping ease and familiarity of consumers, but it’s more for the convenience of unionized staff. Heaven forbid they would have to create a new, enticing display of 100 great new Canadian wines on Canada Day. Much easier to plaster big very expensive posters in the window and call that a promotion.

I am not blaming any individual within the LCBO, except perhaps its leadership. The LCBO’s intrinsic and historic inflexibility is one reason that the Canadian wine industry – and those of all other countries in fact – are crying for some form of privatization. A model that will allow at least a tripling of SKUs sold within a network of stores that includes supermarkets, cold beer and wine stores, fine wine stores and regionally dedicated shops (these all exist elsewhere in Canada). A network that will allow the elasticity required to manage the ebb and flow of a product so wonderfully diverse as wine.

This summer I am more hopeful than ever. We are on the eve of major change in Ontario. By September ex-TD Bank chairman Ed Clark, mandated by Kathleen Wynn’s Liberals, is supposed to propose how wine in supermarkets might work. Which of course will be a welcome start when it finally does come about. But as listed above, supermarkets are only one piece of a much more diverse template that is required.

The Ontario wine industry itself is strongly in favour of independent wine shops selling both Ontario and imported wine. This a bold and crucial stance, because as I said, patriotism should not be the only reason that we buy Canadian wine. It must compete head to head in a fair retail environment, and at least some of Ontario’s winemakers have figured that out – often those that do best in the National Wine Awards.

My greatest hope is that Ed Clark also believes this. That he beats back the howls of the vested interests who seek advantage for themselves over what makes sense for the industry at large and the consumers it serves. Wine in supermarkets is a huge first step, but independent stores must soon follow.

As an interim step the existing private retail licenses granted to the large Ontario wineries before 1988 must be re-distributed among the many interests selling Canadian and imported wines. Ontario’s international trade partners cannot, and will not, disagree. When it is proven to work – which it will – many more licenses need to be made available. As many as the market demands. And Ontario will finally join the rest of the globe in terms of natural wine retailing. We are still, as we speak, an anomaly on this planet. And we are widely ridiculed.

We ask you to celebrate Canada Day with a bottle of Canadian wine, but in the true spirit of Canadian globalism, if you decide that a wine from France, Chile or New Zealand is what you want in the moment then do so without guilt. Canada welcomes all. Canada is bigger than Canada Day. Every person contributing to wine production somewhere in the world matters too.

Here are our picks from the June 27th release, plus a couple of recently tasted Canadian selections from VINTAGES Essentials

Canadian Wines

Vieni Estates 2012 Foch Vintage Reserve Ontario Canada ($19.95)

David Lawrason – Canada’s wine industry began with hybrids like marechal foch, and a few remaining old vine versions garner an almost cult-like following (eight were entered in this year’s wine awards). This deep, gnarly, rustic red explains their curious durability.
John Szabo – This is one of the best hybrid wines I’ve come across in long-term memory, great for the back yard or cottage with is smoky, forest floor, resinous herbs and dried plum flavours.

Calamus 2013 Steely Unoaked Chardonnay, Niagara Peninsula ($14.95)

David Lawrason – Unoaked chardonnay is often boring, giving us no reason not to drink pinot grigio instead (which can also be boring). This is a nicely fresh, quite fulsome unoaked chardonnay with ripe pear, florals and honey. Calamus has re-designed its labels and found some new energy  in its wines of late.

Vieni Foch Vintage Reserve 2012 Calamus Unoaked Chardonnay 2013 Sperling Vineyards Gewurztraminer 2013 Malivoire Musqué Spritz 201413th Street Cabernet Merlot 2012

Sperling 2013 Gewurztraminer, Okanagan Valley ($28.95)

David Lawrason – Born and raised on the family’s vineyard in East Kelowna, Anne Sperling is better known in Ontario as the veteran winemaker at Southbrook and formerly Malivoire. She also commutes home to BC to tend Sperling Vineyards. This is a quite delicate, off-dryish gewurz  from estate vines well positioned on a south-facing hill overlooking west Kelowna and the lake.

Malivoire 2014 Musqué Spritz Beamsville Bench, ($19.95)

John Szabo – Lively, fresh, off-dry, and yes, spritzy, Malivoire’s 2014 Musqué Spritz is an infinitely drinkable, aperitif-friendly white that goes down with alarming ease. A great wine to have around the house for the summer, for those impromptu afternoon occasions.

13th Street 2012 Cabernet Merlot, Creek Shores, Niagara Peninsula ($19.95)

David Lawrason – The 2012 vintage is perhaps the best all ‘round vintage Niagara has seen to date. Having been dealt nicely ripened fruit, JP Colas has delivered a quite lifted complex cab/merlot blend with notes of slightly stewed raspberry currant, herbs, leather, grilled red pepper and fresh herbs.

Culmina 2012 Hypothesis, Okanagan Valley ($39.95)

David Lawason – Since departing Jackson-Triggs when the label was sold to US-based Constellation Brands, Donald Triggs and his family have been carving out an ambitious new vineyard project on the benches of the south Okanagan’s Golden Mile. This is a very serious, sculpted, deep merlot-based red.
Sara d’Amato – From the recently delimited, sub-appellation of Golden Mile Bench, this BC Bordeaux blend has the complexity of left bank Bordeaux but the appealing, generous nature of a new world. Youthful and spicy but with excellent structure for mid to long term cellaring.

Culmina Hypothesis 2012 Malivoire Chardonnay 2012 Cave Spring Estate Riesling 2013 Queylus Reserve Du Domaine Merlot Cabernet Franc 2010

Malivoire 2012 Chardonnay, Niagara Peninsula ($19.95)

John Szabo – Made from essentially all Beamsville Bench fruit, Malivoire’s 2012 is a typically ripe and flowery, gently oaked, lively and well-balanced chardonnay. Acids are crisp and lively, and fruit is in the ripe orchard spectrum. Lovely wine, well priced.

Cave Spring 2013 Estate Riesling, Beamsville Bench, Niagara Peninsula ($17.95)

John Szabo – Cave Spring’s 2013 riesling is just off-dry but balanced, lively and vibrant, with arch-typical riesling profile – as reliable as they come.

Queylus 2010 Reserve du Domaine Merlot Cabernet Franc, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada ($39.95)

Sara d’Amato – A head turning Bordeaux blend from the hands of one of Canada’s most celebrated consultant winemakers, Thomas Bachelder. From rose and violets to blackcurrants and plums, this fleshy but structured palate is swoon-worthy.

International Reds

Finca Sophenia 2013 Reserve Malbec, Tupungato, Mendoza ($17.95)

David Lawrason – This is a very pretty, floral and lifted malbec that doesn’t succumb to oak from the high country at the north end of Mendoza’a Uco Valley.

Château Pey De Pont 2010, Médoc, Bordeaux $21.95

David Lawrason – The 2010 vintage continues to deliver great value among the petits chateaux. With well layered currants, spice, herbs, vanilla and a hint of maturing leather, this is ready to roll and should hold over the next three to five years.

Finca Sophenia Reserve Malbec 2013 Château Pey De Pont 2010 Gran Passione Rosso 2013 Domaine Le Clos Des Cazaux La Tour Sarrasine Gigondas 2012

Gran Passione 2013 Rosso, Veneto, Italy ($15.95)

David Lawrason – Lots here for $16! This is a very smooth, ripe and easy going ripasso with very good density. It has a nicely lifted nose of plum/cherry fruit, chocolate, some underlying meatiness and herbs.

Domaine Le Clos Des Cazaux 2012 La Tour Sarrasine Gigondas, Rhône France ($28.95)

John Szabo – A complete southern Rhône package here, classy and compelling, drinking well now, but should also hold a decade in the cellar quite comfortably. Best 2015-2025.

Il Molino Di Grace 2007 Il Margone Riserva Chianti Classico, Tuscany. Italy ($34.95)

John Szabo – There’s a lot of wine here for the money; this drinks up there with Brunello costing twice as much. I love the fully mature, earthy, mushroom and wet clay/wood- oxidative feel. There’s a touch of funk here to be sure, but it melds seamlessly with the rest of the ensemble. Best 2015-2022.

Domaine Le Clos Des Cazaux La Tour Sarrasine Gigondas 2012 Il Molino Di Grace Il Margone Riserva Chianti Classico 2007 Michel Gassier Les Piliers Syrah 2012 Sileni The Triangle Merlot 2013

2012 Michel Gassier Les Piliers Syrah AC Costières de Nîmes, Rhône, France ($18.95)

John Szabo – Here’s a fine value, lively and authentic syrah, floral and very pretty, with elegant tannins and vibrant acids. Very classy, and really well priced.  Best 2015-2020.
Sara d’Amato – Costieres de Nimes’ milder climate sandwiched between the southern Rhone and the Languedoc provides a haven for finicky syrah, allowing it to express itself in all its peppery and floral glory. An excellent value that has crowd-pleasing appeal.

Sileni 2013 The Triangle Merlot, Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand ($19.95)

Sara d’Amato – Since the late 90s, Sileni has been producing a wide range of wines in the milder climate of Hawke’s Bay. This standout merlot shows terrific concentration and fruit but with a nervy acidic backbone that makes it versatile with food.

Ermete Medici & Figli Concerto 2013And for Something Special on the Patio This Summer…..

Medici Ermete & Figli 2013 Arte E Concerto Lambrusco, Emilia-Romagna  Italy ($19.95)

John Szabo – A long-time standard-bearer for Lambrusco, Medici Ermete’s Concerto, made from the Salamino member of the vast lambrusco family of grapes, is a deeply-coloured, very fruity and engaging wine, essentially dry (10 grams of residual sugar) and light-mid weight on the palate (11.5% alcohol). I like the dark berry flavours, the floral and peppery notes reminiscent of syrah done in carbonic maceration. Decent length. Perfect for the charcuterie board (is it a coincidence that the grape is named salamino, after the salami-like shape of its bunches?).

From VINTAGES June 27th, 2015

Lawrason’s Take
Szabo’s Smart Buys
Sara’s Sommelier Selections
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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Castello Di Gabbiano Chianti Classico Riserva 2011

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Top 20 under $20 at the LCBO (June)

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

Steve Thurlow

Steve Thurlow

Many summer whites and BBQ reds joined the Top list this month. With this many new selections there is surely a value shopping choice for everyone.

There are eleven new wines on the list for you to try with two coming from the recently delisted section. For the next four weeks another four wines already on the list are on promotion i.e.  have Bonus Air Miles (BAMs) that apply or have a Limited Time Offer (LTO), making these wines even more attractive; all this will surely make your June drinking more affordable.

The Top 20 under $20 are best buys among the 1,600 or so wines in LCBO Wines and the VINTAGES Essentials collection. This month I selected thirteen wines from Steve’s Top 50, a standing WineAlign list based on quality/price ratio. You can read below in detail how the Top 50 works, but it does fluctuate as new wines arrive and as discounts show up through LTOs.

To make up the Top 20 under $20 I added another five wines, all with BAMs, that make them good choices and though none of them quite made it on to the Top50, they were all close.

The discount period runs until July 19th. So don’t hesitate. 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

Villa Ponciago Beaujolais Villages 2012, Burgundy, France ($6.80 was $12.20 Discontinued. Limited quantities) – A charming fruity light red. Try lightly chilled with poultry. About 1000 bottles remain.

Eclipse Montepulciano D’ Abruzzo 2013 Abruzzo Italy ($7.55) New to Top 50 – The 2013 is the latest vintage of this well priced Italian red. Try with pizza and meaty or tomato pasta sauces.

Citra Sangiovese Terre Di Chieti 2013, Abruzzo, Italy ($7.75 + 4 BAMs) – A midweight dry vibrant red that is great with tomato sauces.

Villa Ponciago Beaujolais Villages 2012 Eclipse Montepulciano d'Abruzzo 2013 Citra Sangiovese Terre di Chieti 2013 Jean Philippe Janoueix l'Evidence 2011 Vila Regia 2013

Jean Philippe Janoueix L’Evidence 2011 Bordeaux, France ($7.95 was $14.00 Discontinued. Limited quantities) – A supple easy drinking Bordeaux red with charm and structure for enjoying with food. Try with roast beef. About 1700 bottles remain.

Vila Regia 2013, Douro Valley, Portugal ($7.95) New to Top 50 – A dependable versatile table red for a wide variety of dishes at a great price.

Spadafora Terrano Rosso 2012, Calabria. Italy ($8.15 + 3 BAMs) Top 50 June – A juicy well balanced southern Italian red for burgers or grilled sausages.

Fuzion Alta Reserva Malbec 2013 Mendoza, Argentina ($8.95 was $9.95) New to Top 50 – A soft fruity malbec that’s well balanced. Chill a little and try with pizza.

Fonseca Periquita 2012, Peninsula De Setubal, Portugal ($8.95 + 5BAMs) Top 50 June – A perennial favourite that keeps on delivering. It’s a midweight dry red that works well with lamb cutlets.

Spadafora Terrano Rosso 2012 Fuzion Alta Reserva Malbec 2013 Fonseca Periquita 2012 Mezzomondo Negroamaro 2013

Mezzomondo Negroamaro 2013, Salento, Puglia, Italy ($8.95) New to Top 50 – The 2013 now comes with a convenient screwtop. Same great value for a balanced fruity dry red for many food choices.

Bodegas Volcanes de Chile Summit Reserva Cabernet Syrah 2013 Rapel Valley, Chile ($9.95 + 7BAMs) – A midweight to full bodied juicy red at a great price. Grown on volcanic soils which adds to great its purity of flavour.

Santa Julia Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 Mendoza, Argentina ($10.95 was $12.95) New to Top 50 – A structured ripe fragrant cabernet that is cellar worthy, but you can also enjoy now with a steak after an hour in a decanter.

Guardian Reserva Red 2013, Colchagua Valley, Chile ($11.60 was $13.60) New to Top 50 – A complex red cabernet blend finely balanced with a fruity long lingering finish with some fine tannin. Try with a steak.

Bodegas Volcanes de Chile Summit Reserva Cabernet Syrah 2013 Santa Julia Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 Guardian Reserva Red 2013The Wolftrap Syrah Mourvedre Viognier 2013 Quinta Do Valdoeiro Baga Cabernet Sauvignon Syrah 2011

The Wolftrap Syrah Mourvedre Viognier 2013, Western Cape, South Africa ($12.95 was 13.95) Top 50 June – A red blend from the Cape that captures the essence of a Rhone red. Try with BBQ meats.

Quinta Do Valdoeiro Baga, Cabernet Sauvignon & Syrah 2011 Bairrada Portugal ($12.95) New to Top 50 – A fresh lively blend of the indigenous grape baga with two other grapes. Try with roast meats.

Whites

Citra Trebbiano D’Abruzzo 2013, Abruzzo, Italy ($7.75 + 4BAMs) – A ripe fruity white with a good depth of flavour and good palate length for such an inexpensive white.

Cono Sur Bicicleta Viognier 2014, Colchagua Valley Chile ($9.95 + 5BAMs) Top 50 June – An inexpensive fragrant white. Enjoy as an aperitif or with mildly flavoured seafood or white meat dishes.

Caliterra Sauvignon Blanc Reserva 2014 Casablanca Valley, Chile ($9.95 + 4BAMs) – A well priced fresh sauvignon with a fragrant nose. Try with grilled chicken or sautéed seafood.

Citra Trebbiano D'abruzzo 2013Cono Sur Bicicleta Viognier 2014 Caliterra Sauvignon Blanc Reserva 2014 Folonari Soave 2013 Errazuriz Estate Sauvignon Blanc 2014 Marqués De Riscal 2014, Rueda

Folonari Soave 2013, Veneto, Italy ($9.95 + 5BAMs) – A classic Italian white with delicate aromas and a juicy midweight palate. Try as an alternative to pinot grigio.

Errazuriz Estate Sauvignon Blanc 2014 Aconcagua Valley, Chile ($10.95 was $12.95) New to Top 50 – A cool coastal sauvignon with good varietal character. Try with sautéed scallops with a lemongrass dressing or creamy goats cheese salad.

Marqués De Riscal 2014, Rueda, Spain ($11.60 + 4BAMs) New to Top 50 – A delicious bright crisp fresh white with a very inviting fruity nose. Try with seafood.

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 in the LCBO Wines section 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

In addition to the wines mentioned above, there are another 37 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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Catena Malbec High Mountain Vines 2013

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Buyers’ Guide to VINTAGES June 27 – Part One

Pan-Am Wines; WineAlign’s Favourites of Customer Favourites
By John Szabo MS, with notes from Sara d’Amato and David Lawrason

John Szabo, MS

John Szabo, Master Sommelier

The Pan Am games are virtually upon the Golden Horseshoe. The 1.5 billion-dollar event has impacted the region significantly, motivating many infrastructure improvements like multiple sports venues, a long-overdue rail connection to Pearson, new HOV lanes, and a prettied-up Queen’s Quay. The games have even influenced the wine selections arriving in Ontario on June 27th. But the LCBO’s selection of Pan-AM-themed wines stack the odds in favour of the powerhouse countries and give little hope for the emerging ones.

It’s a shame that the elite competitors from little-known wine producing countries like Uruguay, Brazil and Mexico weren’t invited to compete against perennial favourites from Canada, the US, Chile and Argentina. Instead, those marginalized countries are represented only by their second-string wines, unprepared for international competition. If one of the goals of the thematic, as for the games, is to introduce us to the new stars and to expand Pan-American cultural awareness and respect, I’m afraid spectator-drinkers will go home with prejudices fully intact.

Rather than one of southern Brazil’s very good sparkling wines (Chandon Brazil, Cave Geisse, Vallontano?), we’re offered instead a weak and bony, fleshless, amateur bubbly from the cooperative Aurora Winery, which, according to their website, is “the largest of its kind in Brazil and produces beverages [my emphasis] to suit all tastes and occasions”. Hardly an inspiring training motto for the factory’s winemakers. But for $13.95, all you can expect is the regional high school team, not the world cup squad.

Uruguay with its flag-waving tannat grape has countless potential medal-winning entries, but it didn’t even qualify. Instead we have Del Pedregal’s bench-warming Cabernet Sauvignon, perfectly serviceable, worthy perhaps of a participation ribbon, but definitely not starting-team, medal material (Del Pedregal’s tannat wins all the medals). And Mexico, well, Mexico should have stayed home altogether. In a retirement home. Washed-up and oxidized, Freixenet de México’s entry should be watching the games from a reclining armchair. Is this really the best Mexico has to offer?

In the end, none of these countries will walk away with any new fans. And that’s the shame. It’s hardly a fair reflection of their sporting potential.

You could of course argue that no one will pay a high-priced ticket to see an unknown country perform, even if it’s the best in the event-category. And you’d probably be right. Stocking the LCBO shelves with expensive oddities is not smart planning, unless there’s an enthusiastic mascot on hand at every venue who can sell the ticket. But then again, if the proper infrastructure isn’t in place, then maybe the LCBO shouldn’t have been awarded the games at all. The risk of misrepresenting emerging countries is high.

So if you are going to the games on the 27th, preserve your unsullied impression of the mystery entries by keeping them a mystery, and go straight to see the marquee performers. The WineAlign odds-makers have lined up the top contenders from Canada, Chile, the US and Argentina, where medal chances are high.

The other theme of the release is “Customer Favourites”, a straightforward selection based on what has sold well in the past. These are the wines that you’ve voted for. This week’s report covers our favourites out of your favourite white wines (along with a handful of other irresistible wines that we’ll boldly predict as “future customer favourites”), while reds will be covered next week along with David’s lead-off on Canada’s finest for our national day.

Buyers’ Guide to Pan-American Wines

Montes Alpha 2012 Carmenère Colchagua Valley Chile ($19.95)

John Szabo – A big and muscular, Pan Am sumo wrestler of a wine with soft midsection, yet sufficient acids to keep the masses of fruit from falling out of the ring. Best 2015-2020.

Viña San Pedro 2012 1865 Single Vineyard Syrah, Cachapoal Valley, Chile ($19.95)

Sara D’Amato – A syrah that knocks it out of the park with perky peppercorn and notes of juicy black currants on its compelling palate that is sure to prove a backyard barbecue favourite.

Trapiche 2011 Fincas Las Palmas Gran Reserva Malbec, Uco Valley, Mendoza, Argentina ($16.95)

David Lawrason – This is impressively deep, full and flavourful for the money – a hefty Argentine malbec that manages some complexity. As the largest and one of the oldest wineries in Mendoza, some might categorize Trapiche as old school – but I rather like the inbred oak driven complexity. A grilling red.

Montes Alpha Carmenère 2012 Viña San Pedro 1865 Single Vineyard Syrah 2012 Trapiche Fincas Las Palmas Gran Reserva Malbec 2011 Sperling Vineyards Gewurztraminer 2013 Colomé Torrontés 2013

2013 Sperling Gewurztraminer, BC VQA Okanagan Valley, Canada ($28.95)

John Szabo – A sprightly, energetic, more hundred-meter-dash-than-marathoner of a wine in the gewürztraminer context. It’s marvellously aromatic in the varietal style, but much crisper, drier and firmer than the mean.
Sara D’Amato – A stunningly elegant gewürztraminer which features well-balanced, bright acids to counteract the characteristic fatness common to the varietal.  For a cross-cultural, Pan Am treat, try with a slightly spicy chile relleno.

Colomé 2013 Torrontés, Calchaquí Valley, Salta, Salta, Argentina ($13.95)

Sara D’Amato – From the world’s most elevated concentration of vineyards comes a smart and poised but characteristically value-priced torrontés. A restrained floral component and vibrant palate make for a widely appealing, easy summer sipper.
David Lawrason – Gran Altura is harvested at three different altitudes between 1800 and 3100 metres (which is lofty even for Argentina standards). The result is a delicacy and finesse rarely encountered in this show-off, highly aromatic variety. And at this price it’s amazing value. Make sure you chill well for garden sipping. Ideal for ceviche.

Our Favourites of Your Favourites Part One: White Wines

La Crema 2013 Chardonnay Monterey, California, USA ($26.95)

John Szabo – La Crema has slowly but surely been tightening the screws on their chardonnays, and while even the Monterey bottling, typically the tightest of La Crema’s range, wouldn’t have been among my favorites even just a few years ago, the 2013 hits the right balance. It’s still very much California, but happily tweaked for freshness and extended shelf-life. Best now-2023.

Casas Del Bosque Reserva Sauvignon Blanc 2014 Featherstone Sauvignon Blanc 2013 La Crema Monterey Chardonnay 20132013 Featherstone Sauvignon Blanc VQA Twenty Mile Bench, Niagara Peninsula, Canada ($17.95)

John Szabo – Featherstone, too, steps into my favourites line-up for the first time, with this strong 2013 sauvignon release. I like the mix of guava/passion fruit inflected with subdued herbal-grassy character, and the honest dusty-chalky finish. Just feels right.
Sara D’Amato – Don’t expect a grassy New Zealand style of sauvignon blanc nor a riper California fumé but rather a uniquely Niagara style with great balance and appeal. Sourced from grapes at peak ripeness, this mid-priced sauvignon blanc exhibits surprising viscosity and staying power with the refreshing flavours of cooler tropical fruits such as pineapple and passion fruit.

Casas Del Bosque 2014 Reserva Sauvignon Blanc, Casablanca Valley, Chile ($13.95)

David Lawrason – The world is increasingly dividing into three camps when it comes to sauvignon blanc, and given the time of year let’s call them summer camps – Camp Oh So Green, Camp Cool by the Lake, and Camp Deep in the Woods.  This is a New Zealand-inspired Camp Oh So Green blaster with intense capsicum, celery, dill on the nose and palate. A bit much for some, but a huge flavour hit for $13.95.

“Future Favourites” Part One: White Wines

Ken Forrester 2014 Old Vine Reserve Chenin Blanc, Stellenbosch, South Africa ($17.95)

John Szabo – I’m delighted to see the return of this excellent value from Forrester, my pick for a future Vintages favourite. The 2014 is a particularly steely and mineral version, still at least a year or two away from prime drinking, but this has the depth and stuffing to go the distance. Best 2016-2024.
Sara D’Amato – This exceptional chenin blanc has been a WineAlign favourite since 2009. Each subsequent vintage has been hit after hit – a testament to the consistency of the wines from this internationally acclaimed producer. This substantial and complex example of a variety that has found unique expression in South Africa delivers a great deal of impact for a petite price.

Flor De Vetus 2013 Verdejo, old vines from Segovia, DO Rueda Spain ($15.95)

John Szabo –  Verdejo has the (unfortunate) tendency to turn into a Delmonte tropical fruit cup, but not so this example, from several old parcels all above 850 meters in the western corner of Rueda. It’s unusually subdued, with lovely cut and dense texture on the palate, and the sort of energy and depth that’s uncommon at this price. This is much more about stony-salty-mineral flavours than fruit, yet neither lean nor shrill, which is nice.

Ken Forrester Old Vine Reserve Chenin Blanc 2014 Flor De Vetus Verdejo 2013 Marrenon Doria Luberon 2012 Château Saint Genès 2013 Monte Del Frá Ca' Del Magro 2012

Marrenon 2012 Doria Luberon, Rhône, France ($17.95)

John Szabo – An excellent wine from the extensive Marrenon coop (1200 members farming over 7,000 hectares!). This is one of their top whites made from selected parcels, a blend of Vermentino (rolle), grenache blanc and a splash of Roussanne, harvested late and vinified together. The result is an engagingly floral wine with fully ripe orchard fruit (peaches, apricots), and gentle but fresh, palpably chalky palate. 20% barrel fermentation goes virtually unnoticed, save for the textural creaminess. I’d love to see more wines like this, especially at the price.
David Lawrason – This is a classy, understated summer white from vineyards on the clay limestone slopes of the Luberon in southern France. The estate was founded in 1966 by Petula Garcia , a wealthy Brazilian who fell in love with the Provence countryside (as wealthy people often do). This is a fresh, slender blend peachy white made from  60% vermentino, 30% grenache blanc and 10% roussanne.

Château Saint Genès 2013, Bordeaux Blanc, France

David Lawrason – This is a fine little value in white Bordeaux, blending semillon and sauvignon blanc. Often white Bordeaux is barrel-aged but if there is oak here it’s very discreet indeed. It’s from a property in the Cotes de Blaye, where vines are grown on gravelled soils with limestone underpinning. Lovely precision!

Monte Del Frá 2012 Ca’ Del Magro, Custoza Superiore, Veneto, Italy   ($17.95)

David Lawrason – Made from local varieties that grow in low-yielding vineyards on the slopes above of Lago do Garda, this a subtle, fresh young white that would work very nicely on the shore of your lake as well. Or by the pool. It reminds of a mid-weight Soave with subtle aromas of peach, yellow flowers and almond. Nicely made by one of my favourite houses of Italy’s northeast.

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

From VINTAGES June 27th, 2015

Szabo’s Smart Buys
Lawrason’s Take
Sara’s Sommelier Selections
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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Castello Di Gabbiano Chianti Classico Riserva 2011


International Cool Climate Chardonnay Celebration

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Introducing a new Mobile Version of WineAlign

We’re pleased to announce that our new Mobile Version of WineAlign is now available.

LoginBased on the feedback from our recent (and ongoing) member survey we now better understand the need for an improved mobile experience. So we’ve decided to accelerate the release by making this version available today. Yes, it’s still BETA – but we believe it’s quite good and we’ve been enjoying it for the last month.

The website, mobile.WineAlign.com, has been optimized for the mobile browsing experience and is ideally suited for use while you are shopping for wine at the LCBO, SAQ, or BC Liquors Stores.

The site is bilingual and supports shoppers across Canada.

It’s as easy as 1,2,3 to bookmark this site on your mobile phone and then access it like an app.

Mobile WineAlign1-ListMobile Details

Okay, so how do you access our new mobile site on your phone?  It’s super simple:

Point your phone’s browser to mobile.WineAlign.com or mobile.ChacunSonVin.com

Login to site using your WineAlign credentials.

Steps illustrated below (iPhone):

1) Select the Share icon at the bottom of your screen

2) Click on Add to Home Screen

3) WineAlign Icon will show up on your device

AddToHomeScreen

Click on image for larger version

Steps for Android: 

Point your phone’s browser to mobile.WineAlign.com or mobile.ChacunSonVin.com

Login to site using your WineAlign credentials.

Follow the same steps above and create a bookmark/link/icon on your screen.

Android1

Click on image for larger version

Android2

Click on image for larger version

Note: If are accessing the regular WineAlign site via your phone you should logout of that first before attempting to bookmark the new site.

FREE apps are coming for Apple and Android!

We are currently working on incorporating this new site into a downloadable application but it’s not quite ready yet. We know you’ve heard this from us before. The fact is that it’s a massive job to write applications from scratch for each of the mobile platforms. We started down that path several years ago and had released an Apple app and had an Android app in beta testing. When Apple upgraded their mobile operating system last year it broke our app and the cost to fix the app was almost more than what it cost to develop it in the first place. At that time we decided to pull the Apple app and find a better approach.

Luckily in the four years since we started down the mobile development path the tools to build mobile apps have advanced light years.  We’re now using those tools and our highest priority project is incorporating our new mobile site into apps for Android and Apple. The new app will include bar-coding support and it will be FREE. Our Shop & Scan app should be ready for major platforms in the next month.

In the meantime, we hope you enjoy the new Mobile Version of WineAlign. If you have any questions or concerns, please drop us a note at feedback@winealign.com


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Buyers’ Guide to VINTAGES June 13 – Part Two

Best Bets for Dad and More of the Pink Stuff
By Sara d’Amato, with notes from David Lawrason and John Szabo MS

Sara d'Amato

Sara d’Amato

Although Father’s Day is the official kick-off of barbecue season, if you’re a true Canadian, you never really stopped. But surely the return of heat requires you to kick it up a notch in the refreshment category. As the rosés continue to roll out, (and they will stop, soon) we can’t get enough of their appealing, food friendly nature and their thirst-quenching properties. Once again, the majority of our picks come from the world’s most reputed pink destination, that of the south of France. The region is now producing roughly 8% of the world’s rosés which have become top priority as global demand rapidly increases. I’ll be returning to this southern destination in the next few weeks and look forward to reporting on ever-changing trends, unique finds and new ways to beat the heat.

Our Father’s Day picks encompass our most exciting finds outside of the Italian subset that was covered by John Szabo in last week’s report. A very international selection, there is sure to be something to be found for just about any personality and gifter’s price range. One of the strongest and highest scoring categories this week are the wines from Spain and Portugal so keep an eye out for great value in this growing section. David Lawrason has just returned from both of these sunny destinations and you will surely hear more from him on this subject shortly.

FATHER’S DAY PICKS

Whites and Sweet

Quinta Do Alqueve 2013 Tradicional, Tejo, Portugal ($14.95)

Loveblock Sauvignon Blanc 2013 Laurent Miquel Nord Sud Viognier 2013 Quinta Do Alqueve Tradicional White 2013David Lawrason – I have just returned from Portugal where I was very impressed by the quality improvement of white wines. This beauty from a smallish family estate in Tejo (formerly Ribatejo) 40kms northeast of Lisbon explains why things are getting so interesting. It is made from local varieties – 90% fernao pires, 10% arinto grapes that were grown at low yield and hand sorted before fermentation. It reminds a bit of viognier but more compact, subdued and nuanced somehow. Very classy white at a great price.

Laurent Miquel 2013 Nord Sud Viognier, Vin De Pays d’Oc, France ($14.95)

Sara d’Amato – A great value summer white that will stand up to at least 3/4 of what you put on the barbeque. Love the ripe, fleshy appeal of this viognier which has a refreshing backbone of vibrant acids.

Loveblock 2013 Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough, New Zealand ($24.95)

David Lawrason – It’s priced a bit above the norm for Marlborough sauvignon, but the quality is there. Erica and Kim Crawford’s Loveblock property overlooks the Awatere Valley, and uses some Awatere fruit (along with Waihopai fruit) in this wine, which provides a more compact, firm frame than we often see from Marlborough. There are also intriguing fresh herb/green notes on the nose (dill, green pepper) along with lime and green apple. Its balance is the key to my recommendation.

Max Ferd. Richter 2013 Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Kabinett, Mosel, Germany ($21.95)

Patricius 5 Puttonyos Tokaji Aszú 2003 Leyda Single Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc 2014 Max Ferd. Richter Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Kabinett 2013John Szabo – I suppose I’ll never tire of recommending (and drinking) the gems from the Mosel, especially from these top vineyards that have been celebrated for about 2000 years. For me, wines like these are the white equivalents of classified Médoc or grand cru red Burgundy, only, double check the price. That’s right, only here are legendary vineyards given away for $22. Best 2015-2028.
Sara d’Amato – What a find! Think your dad doesn’t like riesling? Think again – this racy gem is sure to win him over and the price is too good to be true. This centuries’ old top site produces some of the most dynamic and exhilarating rieslings on earth.

Leyda 2014 Garuma Single Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc, Leyda Valley, Chile ($19.95)

John Szabo – A bright, punchy, crunchy Chilean sauvignon from the genuinely cool but sunny Leyda Valley. There’s plenty of vibrancy and a nice mix of citrus and passion fruit flavours with lingering acidic tang.

Patricius 2003 5 Puttonyos Tokaji Aszú, Hungary ($39.95)

John Szabo – This is the best tokaji to come into VINTAGES for as long as I can remember, and in fact one of the best sweet wines as well, even more astonishing considering the price. It’s a furmint-based, botrytis-affected wine from one of the leading producers in the region, which delivers the complexity that can only come with great wine and a dozen years in the cellar – three in barrel and the rest in bottle (a recent release). This is really pretty, fragrant and delicate, infinitely drinkable, rich but far from heavy or cloying. Try it with duck à l’orange or pork belly, and learn what all the fuss over tokaji in the last 500 years is about. Best 2015-2033.

Reds

Cara Nord 2013 Conca De Barbera, Catalonia, Spain ($19.95)
David Lawrason – Huge value here – an aromatic explosion, followed by a nervy, mouthwatering palate and excellent length. It’s a blend of grenache, syrah and 20% garrut (mourvèdre) the Rhône varieties also widely used throughout Catalonia, culminating as it were in some of the great wines of Priorat. Conca de Barbera neighbours Priorat to the northwest on the other side of the Montsant mountain range, a flatter terrain with limestone based soils instead of Priorat’s unique slate. Winemaker Tomas Cusine – who also makes Montsant DO red – is fashioning a reputation for dynamic, expressive wines, and this certainly explains his success.

Roux Père & Fils 2010 Vougeot Les Petits Vougeots 1er Cru, Burgundy, France ($74.95)

Sara d’Amato – A wine with wonderful finesse, elegance and class. Attention fans of classical music – although the wine is much too complex to find an adequate food pairing, it would match wonderfully with the restrained but twinkly and complex nature of a Mozart concerto.

Cara Nord 2013 Roux Père & Fils Vougeot Les Petits Vougeots 1er Cru 2010 Burning Kiln M 1 Merlot 2013 Catapereiro Escolha 2012

Burning Kiln 2013 M 1 Merlot, Kiln Dried, Ontario, Canada ($34.95)

Sara d’Amato – Have a dad who likes big, bold and impactful wines? Surprise him with this tobacco kiln-dried merlot made in a rich appasimento style from the emerging Ontario region of South Coast, Norfolk County. I was impressed with the presence and structure of the wine which is surprisingly not showy or overdone. Excellent with just about anything a barbecue can handle.

Catapereiro 2012 Escolha, Vinho Regional Tejo, Portugal ($15.95)

Sara d’Amato – There is such a wealth of extravagant and voluminous Portuguese and Spanish selections in this release that it was hard to find only one to put forth. Due to the excellent price/quality ratio of the Catapereiro, it wins out as the sinful find of the day.

Ninquén 2013 Antu Chilean Mountain Vineyard Syrah, Colchagua Valley, Chile ($17.95)

John Szabo – Ninquén’s Antu, from a rare volcanic mid-valley hillside site in Colchagua offers not just weight and depth, but freshness as well. For the money it’s a substantial wine, and with another 2-3 years in the cellar should evolve into an even more complex and balanced expression. Best 2015-2021.

Montebuena 2012 Cuvée KPF DOCa Rioja, Spain ($14.95)

John Szabo – Just plain tasty and lively little wine from Rioja, with real vibrancy, fresh fruit and integrated herbal spice, offering much more complexity and enjoyment than one usually finds in the price category. Serve lightly chilled and drink it up, with pleasure.

Ninquén Antu Chilean Mountain Vineyard Syrah 2013 Montebuena Cuvée K P F 2012 Two Hands Bella's Garden Shiraz 2012 Wynns Coonawarra Estate John Riddoch Cabernet Sauvignon Limited Release 2010

Two Hands 2012 Bella’s Garden Shiraz, Barossa Valley, Australia ($63.95)

David Lawrason – Come to papa for Father’s Day! This is an extraordinarily delicious red – powerful, seamless and oozing fruit. Yet so nicely nuanced, almost silky and balanced at the same time. There are six wines in Two Hand’s “Garden” series. This is sourced from several Barossa sites, open top fermented, aged 18 months in French oak (many Barossa shiraz are in American) and bottled without fining or filtration.

Wynns 2010 John Riddoch Cabernet Sauvignon, Coonawarra, Australia ($99.95)

David Lawrason – This In-Store Discovery will not be in wide distribution but is worth tracking down – a wine I rated outstanding at 95 points. I cannot think of a much more exciting and exacting expression of cabernet sauvignon, let alone Australian cabernet sauvignon. Read my tasting note for all the descriptors, but I will say here that the BLICE quality measurement elements (balance, length, intensity, complexity and expression) line up almost perfectly. Be prepared to cellar it for a while. It really is a bit too firm to fully enjoy now but I am betting it will let go by 2018 and live much longer.

Rosé

Domaine De Triennes 2014 Rosé IGP Méditerranée, Provence, France ($17.95)

John Szabo – Both of my rosé picks from this release are from Provence – there’s simply nowhere else on earth that does it as consistently, and as tastily, as the South of France. This is a confident rosé, not trying too hard to please. Classically pale, essentially dry, herbal and fruity with a generous helping of complexity.

Carte Noire 2014 Rosé Côtes de Provence, France ($17.95)

John Szabo – Another arch-classic Provençal rosé, discreet, dry, light, and flavourful.

Domaine De Triennes Rosé 2014 Carte Noire Rosé 2014 Château D'aquéria Tavel Rosé 2014 Monte Zovo Bardolino Chiaretto 2014

Château D’Aquéria 2014 Tavel Rosé, Rhône, France ($21.95) (319368)

Sara d’Amato – From the world HQ of rosé, Tavel, comes the inevitable return of Château d’Aquéria on the shelves of VINTAGES. Although the quality wavers from vintage to vintage, this incarnation is in top form and well worth the penny for serious fans of the pink.

Monte Zovo 2014 Bardolino Chiaretto, Veneto, Italy ($13.95)

Sara d’Amato – On a much more playful note, this Bardolino Chiaretto, made in northeastern Italy from similar grapes that make up the wines of Valpolicella, is like a bite of cold watermelon on a hot summer’s day. Albeit dry, it provides an abundance of refreshing and inexpensive pleasure that is simply delightful.

John Szabo will be back next week reporting on our top picks from the June 27th release. Until then, stay refreshed.

Cin, Cin!

 

Sara d’Amato

From VINTAGES June 13th, 2015

Sara’s Sommelier Selections
Szabo’s Smart Buys
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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Castello Di Gabbiano Chianti Classico Riserva 2011

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What’s New at the LCBO – June 2015

Between our VINTAGES Buyers’ Guide and Steve Thurlow’s top picks from the LCBO Wines, we have the whole store covered each and every month.

Niagara, Macedonia and More
by Steve Thurlow

Steve Thurlow

Steve Thurlow

The wines on the shelves at the LCBO are constantly changing and I am tasting the new ones all the time. Many favourites are always there but the range and variety is gradually being updated. I have selected 11 new wines that have refreshed the system out of the 50 or so that I have tried since I last reported. Most are on the shelf already with the rest arriving over the next few weeks.

Among the many new wines added are some well priced selections from Ontario and Greece. I have selected two inexpensive VQA wines and three finely priced Greek wines for you to consider. The Greek selection at the LCBO has seen some excellent new additions over the last few months. If you’re curious to discover more about wines from Greece, you may want to read John Szabo’s recent article on Reasons to Drink Greek.

For now I suggest you read on, pick a few of these that appeal and then check the inventory at your local LCBO which should be set up as your Favourite Store. You can find my complete review by clicking on any of the wine names or bottle images highlighted below. 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 reviews of great value wines!

Reds

Fielding Estate Winery Fireside Red Cabernet

Kir Yianni Paranga 2012

Tsantali RapsaniTsantali Rapsani 2011 2011, Macedonia, Greece ($12.80) – Made from vineyards on the slopes of Mount Olympus from three indigenous grapes, it is a midweight well structured red with the fruit supported by firm tannin and vibrant acidity with a long very dry finish. Needs some protein, try with creamy cheese or juicy roast meats.

Kir Yianni Paranga 2012, Macedonia, Greece ($14.30) – This is a modern styled red blend with little evidence of its Greek origin. It is fullbodied and quite vibrant with very good length. Try with lamb cutlets.

Fielding Estate Fireside Red Cabernet 2012, VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario ($14.95) – An appealing blend of cabernet franc and cabernet sauvignon that’s built for a few years of maturation in the cellar. Decant for an hour and enjoy with a steak.

Whites

Lindemans Bin 85 Pinot Grigio 2014, South Eastern Australia ($10.95 also 1500ml $19.70) – This wine has been around for a few years, I know, but the 1.5L version is new, so it’s even better value for a well-balanced fruity sweetish white. Try well chilled with cheesy pasta dishes.

Mauro Chardonnnay 2014, Puglia, Italy ($11.50) – A fresh lively chardonnay with good focus and palate length and a nice floral tone to the pear and melon fruit. Try with cheesy pasta sauces.

Domaine Glinavos Primus Zitsa 2013, Zitsa, Greece ($12.60) – Made from the indigenous grape, debina, this is a food friendly easy drinking white. It’s lightly floral and herbal with a zesty fresh palate. Try with seafood pastry nibbles.

Lindemans Bin 85 Pinot Grigio 2014 Mauro Chardonnnay 2014 Domaine Glinavos Primus Zitsa 2013 Norton Barrel Select Sauvignon Blanc 2014

Norton Barrel Select Sauvignon Blanc 2014, Mendoza, Argentina ($12.95) – A barrel matured sauvignon with nicely integrated oak and a rich creamy palate. Try with creamy pasta sauces.

Lagaria Chardonnay 2013, Trentino, Italy ($13.55) – A pure, fresh, apparently unoaked chardonnay with aromas of white peach with lemon sherbet, white flowers and clover honey. Try with roast chicken.

Cheval Quancard Réserve Blanc 2013, Bordeaux, France ($13.90) – A typical Bordeaux white with oak aromas nicely woven into the lemon, apple pear fruit. It’s vibrant and juicy with a solid structure from oak and brisk acidity. Very good length.  Try with roast veal or pork.

Lagaria Chardonnay 2013 Cheval Quancard Réserve Blanc 2013 Rockway Vineyards Block Blend Riesling 2013 Balthasar Ress Hattenheimer Schützenhaus Riesling Kabinett 2013

Rockway Vineyards Block Blend Riesling 2013, VQA Twenty Mile Bench, Ontario ($13.95) – A delicious well priced Ontario riesling, minerally soft with just enough sweetness for balance. Try with oysters or creamy goats cheese.

Balthasar Ress Hattenheimer Schützenhaus Riesling Kabinett 2013 Rheingau, Germany ($17.95) – This classic Rheingau riesling is a soft, off-dry, very fresh riesling with just enough sweetness to counteract the acidity with a generous palate and a long, dry and crisp finish. Try with lemon chicken stir fry.

*****

We would love to get your feedback on this report. Meanwhile check our my list of Top 50 wine values by dipping into the Top 50 LCBO and VINTAGES Essentials wines. There will surely be something inexpensive that suits your taste. In two week’s time I will be back with a look at the updated list in our WineAlign’s Top 20 Under $20 report.

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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Tavernello Collezione Friuli Grave Sauvignon 2013

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Top 20 under $20 at the LCBO (May)

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 I selected 13 wines from Steve’s Top 50, a standing WineAlign list based on quality/price ratio. You can read below in detail how the Top 50 works, but it does fluctuate as new wines arrive and as discounts show up through Limited Time Offers (LTOs).

With all of the wines on promotion, now is a great time for value wine shopping. There are six new wines on the Top 50 for you to try and for the next four weeks there’s another seven wines already on the list that are on promotion i.e. have Bonus Air Miles (BAMs) that apply or are on sale (LTO), making these wines even more attractive; all this will surely make your May/June drinking more affordable.

To make up the balance of this report’s Top 20 I added another seven wines, all with BAMs, that make them good choices. Though none of them quite made it on to my standard Top 50, they were all close.

The discount period runs until June 21st. So don’t hesitate. 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

Casal Thaulero Merlot/Cabernet Sauvignon 2013, Terre Di Chieti, Abruzzo, Italy ($7.75) New to Top 50 – A balanced dry red with a lot going on for the money.

Citra Sangiovese Terre Di Chieti 2013, Abruzzo, Italy ($7.75) New to Top 50 – A midweight dry vibrant red that is great with tomato sauces.

Casal Thaulero Merlot Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 Citra Sangiovese Terre Di Chieti 2013 Yellow Tail Reserve Shiraz 2012 Tini Sangiovese Di Romagna 2012

Yellow Tail Reserve Shiraz 2012, Southeastern Australia ($8.95 was $15.95) New to Top 50 – A charming wine with perfumed aromas, that’s full bodied with ripe sweet blackberry fruit. Grab an armful at this price before it is all gone. There were over 1300 bottles left when we published.

Tini Sangiovese Di Romagna 2012, Sangiovese Di Romagna, Italy ($8.95 was $10.95) Top 50 May – A very drinkable lightweight Italian red for pizza and meaty pasta sauces. Best to chill a little.

Emiliana Adobe Reserva Merlot 2013, Rapel Valley, Chile ($10.95 was $12.95) Top 50 May – A lot of depth and complexity for such an inexpensive wine. Its clean and lively with pure aromas and flavours and very good length.

Emiliana Adobe Reserva Merlot 2013 Mountain Fish Agiorgitiko 2012 Borsao Garnacha Selección 2012 Thelema Mountain Red 2012 Faustino V Tempranillo Rosado 2014

Mountain Fish Agiorgitiko 2012, Peloponnese, Greece ($11.10 was $13.10) Top 50 May – Agiorgitiko is one of Greece’s best indigenous red grapes; grown widely in the Peloponnese region. This is a deep purple red with lots of fruit and food friendly acidity. Try with lamb cutlets.

Borsao Garnacha Selección 2012, Campo De Borja, Spain ($11.95 + 4BAMs) – A lightly oaked fresh young Spanish red that’s quite full bodied with a soft warm finish. Chill lightly and enjoy with pizza.

Thelema Mountain Red 2012, Western Cape, South Africa ($12.90 + 6BAMs) – This delightful blend of shiraz and five other grapes comes from high mountain vineyards above Stellenbosch. It is very smooth and quite dense. Try with pizza or burgers .

Faustino V Tempranillo Rosado 2014, Rioja, Spain ($12.90) New to Top 50 – This deep fuchsia pink rose is almost a light red. Match with mildly flavoured meat dishes.

La Posta Cocina Tinto Blend 2013, Mendoza, Argentina $12.95 plus 8BAMs Top 50 May – An easy drinking well balanced red with juicy berry fruit lively acidity with just enough tannin and a mild spicy tone.

La Posta Cocina Tinto Blend 2013 Guardian Reserva Red 2013 Errazuriz Estate Series Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 Errazuriz Estate Pinot Noir 2013

Guardian Reserva Red 2013, Colchagua Valley, Chile ($13.60 + 6BAMs) – A complex red cabernet blend finely balanced and fruity long lingering finish with some fine tannin. Try with a steak.

Errazuriz Estate Series Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 ($13.95 + 9BAMs) – A midweight juicy cabernet with aromas of plum and raspberry fruit, with pencil shavings and herbal tones. Not as powerful as some, but has some charm.  Very good length.

Errazuriz Estate Pinot Noir 2013, Aconcagua Valley, Chile ($13.95 plus 8BAMs) Top 50 May – This is a delicious Chilean pinot with a good depth of colour, a fragrant nose and a well balanced complex palate.  Try with seared tuna.

Whites

Citra Trebbiano d’Abruzzo 2013, Abruzzo, Italy ($7.75) New to Top 50 – A ripe fruity white with a good depth of flavour and good palate length for such an inexpensive white.

Cono Sur Bicicleta Chardonnay 2013 Chile ($10.45 + 5BAMs) – A bright fresh chardonnay with peach and apple fruit and soft complementary oak aromas and flavours.

Citra Trebbiano D'abruzzo 2013 Cono Sur Bicicleta Chardonnay 2013 Fleur Du Cap Chardonnay 2013

Fleur Du Cap Chardonnay 2013, Western Cape, South Africa ($10.80 was $12.80) Top 50 May – A rich smooth intense old style chardonnay with well integrated oak spice. Try with fish and chips.

Mascota Vineyards O P I Chardonnay 2014 Argentina ($10.95 was $12.95) Top 50 May – A rich flavourful chardonnay with just a touch of oak and a firm dry finish.

Villa Wolf Riesling 2013 Pfalz, Germany ($14.80 + 8BAMs) – A juicy flavourful well balance riesling thats almost dry with lovely racy acidity and very good length. A very versatile food wine with seafood, pastry and white meat dishes.

Mascota Vineyards O P I Chardonnay 2014 Villa Wolf Riesling 2013 Wolf Blass Yellow Label Chardonnay 2014 Pocketwatch Chardonnay 2013

Wolf Blass Yellow Label Chardonnay 2014, Padthaway Adelaide Hills, South Australia ($14.95) New to Top 50 – An elegant fresh lightly oaked chardonnay with very good length.

Pocketwatch Chardonnay 2013, Central Ranges, New South Wales, Australia ($15.00 + 10BAMs) – Expect an enticing nose of lemongrass, peach and ripe pear aromas with well integrated oak spice and lovely patisserie vanilla, like a baker’s shop. The palate is juicy, midweight and very creamy with elegant fruit.

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 in the LCBO Wines section 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

In addition to the wines mentioned above, there are another 37 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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Spy Valley Sauvignon Blanc 2014

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What’s New at the LCBO – May 2015

Between our VINTAGES Buyers’ Guide and Steve Thurlow’s top picks from the LCBO’s general list, we have the whole store covered each and every month.

Everything’s Coming Up Rosés
by Steve Thurlow

Steve Thurlow

Steve Thurlow

It is spring at last in my part of Canada, and summer will not be far behind. So that means one thing at the LCBO – it’s time for rosé wines. Most places in the world enjoy rosé wines all year round but we are programmed by the LCBO only to seek them out for the few months of the year that comprise our summer. As a consequence the vast majority of rosés now arriving in the stores are seasonal listings and will disappear from the shelves come fall.

Rosés are light red wines. Usually they are made from red or black grapes with minimal skin contact between juice and skins after pressing. Hence you get the flavour of the wine grape, with only a splash of red colour and a hint of the vegetal flavours and tannin that comes from the skins. They can be sweet or dry, just like red wines. The dry ones, for me, are perfect for alfresco dining, slightly chilled, with mildly flavoured meat dishes.

Rosé wines are increasingly popular and there is a record number of new ones this year. WineAlign colleague, Sara d’Amato has already highlighted several pinks from recent VINTAGES releases and I have tasted and reviewed about 40 from the LCBO’s general list in the last few weeks alone. Sadly many failed to impress despite some beautiful packaging which will help some no doubt sell well. However those of you who care about quality and value will zero in on the six that I have selected below.

The wines on the shelves at the LCBO are constantly changing and I am tasting the new ones all the time. Many favourites are always there but the range and variety is gradually being updated. In addition to my six rosé picks I have chosen to highlight another seven new wines that have refreshed the system out of the more than 70 that I have tried since I last reported. Most are on shelf already; the rest will arrive over next few weeks.

I suggest that you read on, pick a few that appeal and then check on inventory at your local LCBO which should be set up as your Favourite Store in Find Wine at WineAlign. You can find our complete critic reviews by clicking on any of the wine names or bottle images highlighted below. 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 reviews of great value wines!

Rosés

Citra Cerasuolo Rosé d’Abruzzo 2014, Abruzzo, Italy ($8.45) – A great price for a nice fresh rosé. Try with baked salmon or seared tuna. Best 2015 to 2016.

Cono Sur Bicicleta Pinot Noir Rosé 2014, Bio Bio Valley, Chile ($9.95) – Delicate rhubarb and cherry fruit aromas lead to finely balanced palate with very good length. Try with roast chicken. Best 2015 to 2016.

Bodega Volcanes Summit Reserva Rosé 2014, Central Valley, Chile ($9.95) – A very fruity rosé with a lot of flavour and creamy smooth rich palate. Enjoy with baked ham. Best 2015 to 2017.

Citra Cerasuolo Rose d'Abruzzo 2014 Cono Sur Bicicleta Pinot Noir Rose 2014 Bodega Volcanes Summit Reserva Rose 2014 La Vieille Ferme Cotes Du Ventoux Rosé Faustino V Tempranillo Rosado 2014 Henry Of Pelham Rose 2014

La Vieille Ferme Cotes Du Ventoux Rosé 2014, Rhone Valley, France ($10.95) – This is a typical Rhone rosé with lots of flavour and a long dry fruity finish. Try with roast chicken or veal. Best 2015 to 2016.

Faustino V Tempranillo Rosado 2014, Rioja, Spain ($12.90) – This shocking pink rosé is hard to miss on the shelf in its distinctive tall bottle, so grab a few and enjoy with mildly flavoured meat dishes. Don’t overchill or you might miss the good stuff! Best 2015 to 2016.

Henry Of Pelham Rosé 2014, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario ($12.95 until May 24th was $13.95) – Consistently this is a good rosé every year with a dried herbal tone to red fruit flavours. It is vibrant in colour and mouthfeel. Lots going on for the money, so pick up a few while on offer. Best 2015 to 2017.

Reds

Mcguigan Black Label Shiraz 2013, South East Australia ($10.90 and 1500mL $19.85) – I know this well-balanced fruity shiraz has been on the shelves for years but the 1500mL format is new and makes for even better value if you can find enough friends to help you enjoy all that wine. Best 2015 to 2016.

Luccarelli Primitivo 2013, Puglia, Italy ($10.95 and 1500ml $19.95) – The 750mL bottle is joined on the shelf by a 1500mL version making this full-bodied ripe lively opaque wine even better value. Best 2015 to 2016.

Mcguigan Black Label Shiraz 2013 Luccarelli Primitivo 2013 Cliff 79 Cabernet Shiraz Norton Barrel Select Malbec 2013 Dominio Del Plata Crios Limited Edition Red Blend 2013

Cliff 79 Cabernet Shiraz, South East Australia ($10.95) – This non-vintage red blend is quite drinkable when lightly chilled despite being a little sweet, since there is enough mild tannin and acidity for balance. Very good length. Try with mildly spicy meaty sauces. Best 2015 to 2016.

Norton Barrel Select Malbec 2013, Mendoza, Argentina ($12.95) – Lots here for the money. Deeply flavoured with fine tannin and soft acidity, though sweetish it is balanced. Chill a little and enjoy on its own or with mildly flavoured cheese. Best 2015 to 2017.

Dominio Del Plata Crios Limited Edition Red Blend 2013, Mendoza, Argentina ($14.95) – A cellar worthy red that needs an hour or two in a decanter if consumed now to fully open up. It is an opaque purple-red with loads of flavour with a sweetish fruity appeal, though the tannins kick in big time on the finish. Best 2016 to 2020.

Nobilo Regional Collection Sauvignon Blanc 2014 Nugan Estate Third Generation Chardonnay 2013Whites

Nugan Third Generation Chardonnay 2013, New South Wales, Australia ($11.95) – A rich powerful fully oaked chardonnay with very good length and a long intense fruity finale. Try with strongly flavoured white meats like roast pork or veal.

Nobilo Regional Collection Sauvignon Blanc 2014, Marlborough, New Zealand ($16.95) – A very harmonious fairly typical Kiwi sauvignon with a zesty lemony fruit palate and very good length. Try with rich creamy cheese sauces.

*****

We would love to get your feedback on this report. Meanwhile check our my list of Top 50 wine values by dipping into the Top 50 LCBO and VINTAGES Essentials wines. There will surely be something inexpensive that suits your taste. In two week’s time I will be back with a look at the updated Top 50 list in our WineAlign’s Top 20 Under $20 report.

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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Bottega Prosecco

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LCBO Announces First Regional Specialty Store

by John Szabo MS, WineAlignMay 3, 2015

 

There will be some happy Greeks on Toronto’s Danforth Avenue!

John Szabo, MS

John Szabo, MS

The LCBO, in a progressive move, has confirmed it will be moving ahead with a pilot project to create regional specialty stores across the GTA. LCBO Executive VP Dr. George Soleas shared the development with WineAlign, revealing that the concept will be trialled in store 4, the flagship location on the Danforth in the heart of the Greek community, starting May 25th.

According to Soleas, “90-100 Greek wines and spirits will eventually be stocked in their own prominent section, including up to 50 pulled directly from the consignment program, ranging in price from about $15 to $50″.

This nearly triples the current offering in LCBO stores, and several of the consignment wines recently reviewed by WineAlign will soon be on shelves. It’s the first time that wines from the consignment warehouse, restricted to case lot sales and often subject to delays and delivery charges, will be incorporated into LCBO stocks. Mr. Soleas says, the move is designed to increase the selection in under-served categories, in the demographic areas where demand is highest.

According to Steve Kriaris of the Kolonaki Group, Ontario’s largest importer of Greek wines & spirits, “the additional benefit is not only larger selection, but also, finally, that premium Greek wines will be available by the bottle. Until now consumers have had to buy most of the premium offerings in full case lots, which, of course, is limiting”.

Dr. Soleas revealed that Portugal is scheduled next, and if the pilot proves successful, other stores will be designated to carry a deeper selection, including consignment products, from specific countries and regions. He said he has been working on this initiative for some time and is pleased that it is going ahead.

For me, while it’s not as progressive as fully privatized specialty shops, it’s a welcome move, opening up consumer access to the vast range of wines available in the province that fly under the radar in consignment. WineAlign will endeavour to review as many of these wines as possible, especially through our new consignment wine review program called “Buy the Case” that is launching imminently.

Over 30 Greek wines carried by the LCBO were reviewed and posted to WineAlign last week, many of which are featured in my report called Confident wines from Original Vines: Reasons to Drink Greek. Many will also be available for tasting by trade and media at the annual Wines of Greece fair May 5 in Toronto.

Cheers,

John Szabo, MS

John Sazbo, MS


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Coldstream Hills Pinot Noir 2008