This past week, when I was making my pilgrimage to the LCBO, one of the employees mentioned that a woman had been in looking for a wine that I had recommended, but it was one that they had not received.
This, I know, is frustrating. As this column is published a week ahead of each Vintages release, I usually suggest that, if you see a wine you are interested in, check early with the product consultant to see if it is being shipped to your store.
My articles go out to several on-line news sites, including a number in Northern Ontario – Sault Ste. Marie, North Bay, Elliott Lake and Timmins. If you live in more densely populated communities such as Barrie or Guelph, you probably will have access on the release dates to most of the wines featured.
In the north, the pickings are usually slimmer. This means that there are wines which won’t get to our shelves. For the March 31 release, Timmins will receive about a third of the wines, the Sault about half. Writing about them the week prior to the release gives readers a chance to put an order in while product is still available.
Until now, you could ask your product consultant to order them in for you, but that is about to change. Soon, if you want something not slated for your community, you will have to order it on-line from LCBO.com.
As of Friday, March 23, the March 31 products are not yet available for on-line purchase. If something I mention appeals, first check with your product consultant to see if it will be stocked. If not, keep checking the LCBO website until, when you bring up that product, it lists what is available in your preferred store and what is there for on-line purchase.
If you have more than one store near you with a good Vintages area, you can check for availability more readily at vintages.com. Scroll under “all cities” down to your community, and when you click there, it will bring up all the stores carrying the wines, and the number of bottles they are holding.
The question might be, why bother?
Truth is, there is a myriad of good wines already waiting for us on the LCBO’s “regular shelves”, not to mention hundreds more in the Vintages section. No need to fret, generally.
But then, there are always wines coming up that might have a special interest for us. Sometimes it is country or region of production, sometimes it is a favourite varietal, sometimes the wine carries a story of particular appeal, or sometimes the wine has achieved a stature or “score” that we can’t - or don’t want to - resist.
There is, after all, the thrill of the hunt.If you are a fan of red wines from the south of France, you are out of luck for the next release if you live in Sault Ste. Marie or Timmins, for example, as none of four well-reviewed wines are being shipped your way. Chateau Paul Mas Clos Des Mûres 2016, $19.95, is a rich tasting Syrah blend with a “Parker” 90. Clairmont Classique Crozes-Hermitage 2015, $19.95, from a fantastic vintage for the area is described “generous” and “suave”. Paul Jaboulet Aîné Plans de Dieu Côtes du Rhone Villages 2015, $22.95, from a well-respected producer is a “sexy beauty” – 90-92 say the Parker people. Chateau Peyros Tannat/Cabernet Franc 2012, $15.95, was #66 in the Wine Enthusiast’s “2017 Best Buys” – “dark and structured with powerful concentration”.
For those seeking wines from countries like Greece, Macedonia or Bulgaria, there are wines of interest – but you’ll have to order. (Note: currently you can still do this through your product consultant if you call by Monday – but this may not be the case for long.)
Bulgaria’s K Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon 2012, $14.95 has a respectable 90 from the Wine Enthusiast –black cherry, spice and soft tannins. Parker.com calls Ktima Pavlidis Thema Agiorgitiko/Syrah 2014, $21.95 from Greece “a rather Big Boy that has lots of flavor.” – 90. At the 2017 International Win Challenge, Republic of Macedonia’s Tikves Vranec Special Selection 2015, $16.95, took Gold with complex layers of rich and ripe fruit flavour.A couple of relatively inexpensive wines also fall into the “order-in” category. Sicily’s Messer Del Fauno Nero d’ Avola 2016, $13.95, has Vintages saying that it is “drinking beautifully right now. It’s silky and sumptuous with gobs of black cherry.”
Chile’s Secreto de Viu Manent Sauvignon Blanc 2016, $14.95, is “concentrated and herbal with lemon-like acidity” – 92 - Deschorchados.
In the Sault but not Timmins, for example, will be Argentina’s Don Cristóbal 1492 Bonarda 2016, $13.95, “an eminently drinkable Bonarda with juicy soft plum and bramble flavours.” – 90, Tim Atkin MW.
If you make an order, delivery can be made to your home or to the LCBO store of your choice. There is a $50 minimum per order. Sent to your home, there is a charge of $11.95 or $16.95, depending on how quickly you want the wine. Home delivery is expected to only take a couple of days.
Should you choose delivery to a store, there is no charge for delivery on an order of more than $50. This could take a couple of weeks, and you will be notified of its arrival. Though it takes longer, you don’t have to be concerned about being home for the delivery, or having to chase it down afterwards.
I tried it recently, and the store delivery took just about a week. To my mind, it’s the way to go.
Most people simply like to go to the store and pick up something to drink in the next few days. Ordering ahead may just be a complication they prefer to skip. For them and all of us there are really lots of choices even on the general list.Recently recommended in the Toronto Star are California’s Flipflop Cabernet Sauvignon and Flipflop Pinot Grigio, each $9.95. Normally, I would presume that such wines would be overly-sweet, not to my taste. Wrong. The Cab is mid-weight, with very good cherry-cola fruit which is just pulled back from being too sweet (9 g. of sugar/litre) with the arrival of an earthy, cinnamon note and brushed tannins on the finish. Easy-drinking, lighter fare.
The P.G. is surprising, with significant concentration and a rounded mouth-feel. There is a hint of spritz and good lemon flavour. On the finish there is a slight bitter note, but not enough to deter me from being happy to enjoy this wine again.
Australia’s Nugan Estate Pinot Grigio 2017, $14.95, is drier, but smooth and crisp with lingering citrus flavours. Try it with baked cod, or be prepared to serve it on the back patio this summer.
Saint Clair Family Estate Sauvignon Blanc 2017, $17.95, has all the emphatic flavour to make it a contender against other New Zealand efforts. Very rich, it carries suggestions of passionfruit, lime and grapefruit. It is not overly pungent and the finish is long and intense. The producers recommend it with grilled vegetables. Asparagus, anyone?
From the biggest organic/biodynamic producer in Chile comes the Emiliana Adobe Reserva Merlot 2016, $12.95, offering balance and harmony, warm red fruit flavour, gentle tannins and good length. Grill a chop, and enjoy.
Until March 31, Chile’s Santa Rita Estate Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, usually $14.95, is on sale for $11.95. Dry and deep, it will deliver very satisfactorily with good fruit, spice and structure. Try it, and see what you think.
Obviously, the selection is extensive. Vintages or regular list, you shouldn’t have a problem finding wine you like.
Here are some additional suggestions from the March 31 release.
Feudo Maccari Grillo 2016, $14.95, from Sicily is another of the Italian white varietals worth trying. “Dried mango and cooked pear character.” – James Suckling – 90.Wakefield Clare Valley Estate Chardonnay 2016, $15.95, is described by winecurrent.com as offering “a generously textured, mouth-filling stream of crisp, refreshing flavour” – 4 out of 5 stars. (Note: not slated for Sault Ste. Marie)
Huntaway Reserve Sauvignon Blanc 2014, $19.95. From New Zealand, “this hits the stylistic mark of Marborough Sauvignon blanc, rounded by ripe sweetness, feeling rich rather than sugary, with plenty of passionfruit, orange, and grapefruit flavor.” – 90 wineandspiritsmagazine.com.
St. Urbans-Hof Old Vines Riesling 2016 from Germany’s Mosel is described as “a pure well-sculpted off-dry version, with persimmon, lime and slate flavors coating the palate.” winespectator.com – 91.
The Grinder Pinotage 2015, $13.95, made from a cross between Pinot Noir and Cinsault, is one of those South African reds specifically crafted through careful charring of barrels to create the impression of coffee in a fruity red wine. If you haven’t tried it, you should. Time for a barbecue.
Lander-Jenkins Cabernet Sauvignon 2015, $19.95, hails from the dependable Rutherford Wine Company in California. The winemaker’s notes suggest that it is “silky and medium-bodied on the palate, showing lush flavors of blueberry, rich toffee notes and subtle touches of cranberry.”Kaiken Las Rocas Ultra Malbec 2015, $19.95, is a popular Vintages Essential that always pleases. “Interesting spicy and floral notes intertwined with black fruit aromas reminiscent of blueberries and blackberries. Good structure and soft tannins call for a second glass. The finish is fresh, complex, and persistent with fruit notes and subtle spicy undertones of rosemary, thyme, and dry flowers.” – justwineapp.com.
Chateau Haut Lalande 2015, $19.95 is a Vintage’s “Wine of the Month” from Bordeaux. Primarily Merlot, the Decanter World Wine Awards refer to “well-integrated toasty oak, dark red fruits and tannins, long elegant finish.” – 91.