|August 02, 2006|
|Check out regular Vintages releases|
|Values there add to the LCBO selection|
If you usually buy wine from the LCBO General List and avoid Vintages wines because they’re all expensive, look again. There are plenty of reasonably priced wines in Vintages, as this Saturday’s release shows: about 22 wines at more than $20, 40 between $15 and $19.95, and 25 under $15.
And there are some very good values in the under-$15 group, like Cono Sur “Single Vineyard Visión” Sauvignon Blanc 2005 (684522), from Chile’s Casablanca wine region. Close to the cooling influence of the Pacific Ocean, it’s well-known for crisp, stylish Sauvignon Blancs, and this one has loads of fruit and a zesty texture. It’s a bargain at $14.95.
For a fruitier, softer-textured white, try Königsschaffhauser Pinot Gris Trocken 2004 (597500), from Germany’s Baden wine region. It’s quite dry, complex and nicely layered, with aromas and flavours of tropical fruit and a fruit called feijoa that has unmistakable musky aromas and flavour. It’s $13.95.
If you’re in the market for a robust red, there’s a terrific 2004 Malbec from Argentina: Del Fin del Mundo, or “End of the Earth,” from the southern Patagonia region. For $12.95 (681197) you get a lovely dry red, full of rich fruit flavours, with firm tannic grip. You can drink it now or put it away for two or three years.
Want a red that’s a bit more understated? Vintages has a nice organic Bordeaux, Château Chavrignac Rouge 2004 (002436). For $15.95 it delivers very solid dark and red fruit/berry flavours with hints of spice and earthiness.
These are just four of the 80-odd well-priced wines arriving on Saturday, and with new wines being released every two weeks, Vintages really adds to the selection available in the General List without breaking the bank. But remember that some of these wines come in small quantities, so you have to shop early to get them.
While I’m on the subject of the LCBO, it’s good to see VQA wines from Ontario separated from blended foreign and Ontario wines in LCBO stores but there’s still some distance to go. First, the blended wines are still referred to as “Cellared in Canada.” To most consumers that either means nothing or suggests that the wine was aged in Canada. It was, of course, blended in Canada, which is what the French translation, “Assemblé au Canada,” clearly states.
Wines of Ontario has a little card explaining what “Cellared in Canada” wines are, but it’s a bit ingenuous. It points out that they contain a minimum 30 per cent Ontario wine except when there’s a low crop in Ontario and more Ontario wine is needed for VQAclassified wines. Fair enough, but most of the “Cellared in Canada” wine on the shelves right now contains less than 10 per cent Ontario wine.
To add to the confusion, one LCBO store I was in last week had VQA wines on the “Cellared in Canada” shelves. If the LCBO and Ontario wine industry want to distinguish between them, they might start with a bit more transparency.
I have no problem with blending wines from different regions and countries. But they should be clearly labelled as such, and not obscured behind terms that are meaningless or misleading. That only suggests someone is trying to hide something.
Today, four wines from the General List.
ALICE WHITE CHARDONNAY 2005 A straightforward Chardonnay from Australia that delivers ripe tropical fruit flavours with notes of toasty oak. Medium-bodied and well-balanced, it pairs nicely with grilled white fish or pork. Alcohol 13 per cent; $12.70 (550491).
BELLINGHAM SHIRAZ 2003 A full-flavoured, fruit-forward Shiraz from South Africa that delivers solid dark fruit and berry flavours with decent structure and good balance. It’s a natural for grilled red meat dishes. Alcohol 14.5 per cent; $13.85 (554360).
CASILLERO DEL DIABLO MERLOT 2004 A well-priced, well-paced Chilean Merlot that gives you concentrated ripe dark fruit flavours (plum to the fore) with nice spicy notes. Well-balanced with light tannins, it pairs well with barbecue ribs. Alcohol 13.5 per cent; $11.85 (427088).
FRONTERA SHIRAZ-CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2005 This is a big bottle of fruity red from Chile’s Concha y Toro winery. It’s not too complex but it’s rich in sweet dark berry fruit flavours. If you’re having a crowd for a barbecue, this might be what you’re looking for. Alcohol 13 per cent; $14.85 for 1.5 litres (669093).
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