I had every intention in writing about Rosés this week, but the July 9 Vintages Release struck me as one of those rare offerings that are particularly value-laden, and I decided just to write about it instead. If you wanted to, you would be happy just drinking wines from this release for the next 6 months.
When I say “value-laden”, I am referring to wines that generally sell between $15 and $25, and I am usually happier when they are in the bottom half of that bracket.
Granted, there can be bargains above that which will happen when wines normally quite a bit higher in other jurisdictions appear at the LCBO for significantly less.
Depending where you live, you might want to check with your local store by the morning of Tuesday, July 5 to ensure that they will be receiving wines you are interested in, or have then place a private order for you.
But to the wines.
Williams & Humbert Walnut Brown Medium Sweet Sherry, $13.95, is hard to beat for a lush and heady sweet fortified wine. winealign.com remarks on “loads of complexity” and calls it “full bodied, sweet, dense and focused”, giving it a 92.
Reinforcing what I wrote in my last column about enjoying sparkling wine more often, Torresella Prosecco, $14.95, will please you all summer. winesandspiritsmagazine recommends pouring it as the guests arrive, and remarked particularly on its “green pear, lavender and honeycomb scents.” (90)
Calfornia’s Ca’ Momi Ca’ Secco Sparkling White, $17.95, has 4 stars from winecurrent.com. Vic Harradine refers to flavours of lime, lemon, peach and pineapple, calling it “mouth-watering delicious” and a “drink-me-now gem”.
Made in the traditional method with secondary fermentation occurring in the bottle, Domaine Allimant-Laugner Brut Crémant d’Alsace, $19.95 will certainly have more weight than the Prosecco. winealign.com identifies hay, dried flowers and some earthiness on the nose, with good length and “lemony tartness and nuttiness” on the finish. (89) I would pair it with cedar-planked salmon.
When it comes to Rosés, the LCBO has over 300 listed at this time of the year, and on this release, there are a number of good ones. Rosés are generally made by limiting the skin contact of red grapes during fermentation. As a result, the colour can be anywhere from the palest pink to the deepest, almost red blush. The taste, however, is very much dependent on the type of grapes used, as that is where the flavour originates.
Tahora Medeiros Rosé 2015, $12.95, hails from Portugal and is a blend primarily of the native Touriga Nacional grape along with Syrah and some Tempranillo. It is new to the LCBO, and the Vintages Panel suggests there is some body to it, pointing out a “generous palate” and recommending it with tuna steaks.
Domaine Lafage in France’s Roussillon has a reputation for excellent wines at a good price, and so I am tempted by theirTessellae Rosé 2015, $15.95. In addition to stone-fruit flavours (peach, plum etc.) there is a suggestion of field herbs: that is, the “garrigue” for which the region is noted. Like most good rosés, there is a refreshing crispness on the finish.
Ontario is no slouch when it comes to good Rosés, and Featherstone Rosé 2015, $15.95 waves the local flag with intimations of strawberry-rhubarb and will be perfect with lighter summer dishes.
Miraval Rosé made by Perrin for Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie has star quality imbued in it and has quickly become extremely popular. The 2015, $22.95, is a pale pink and elegantly made with significant depth, the fruit and acidity in perfect tension. Now you can drink what the stars drink… and afford it.
With White Wines, we can begin with Chardonnays. While none are really inexpensive, there are a few between $15 and $20 that are solid, and a couple of others under $30 that are exceptional.
Ironstone Chardonnay 2014, $17.95, bears a Wine Enthusiast 89, with “fruity and vivid” flavours and “crisp and tangy” texture.
Chile’s Tabali Reserva Especial Chardonnay 2013, $18.95, seems to have an earthy nature, according toerobertparker.com, which mentions soil and salinity and chalky tannins. They conclude that it is a “fresh, mineral wine, full and round with very good acidity.” (90+)
B.C.’s Tinhorn Creek Chardonnay 2014, $19.95, is warm and spicy and very aromatic with floral and herbal elements on the nose. It is generously flavoured with just a kiss of oak.
The Globe & Mail’s Beppi Crosariol believes that the Henry of Pelham Speck Family Reserve Chardonnay 2013, $29.95, is better than many California Chardonnays costing twice as much. It is, he says, full-bodied, elegant, luscious and beautifully balanced.
California’s La Crema Chardonnay 2014, $26.95, has 5 stars from Writer Rod Phillips, who really likes its “food-fitness” along with its purity, integration and harmony.
Sauvignon Blanc is decently represented with one from Chile, one from France, and another from New Zealand which stand out.
The Casa Del Bosque Reserva 2015, $14.95, delivers the expected kiwi and grapefruit flavours, but with more body and ripeness that we often expect from New Zealand examples. A little bit of barrel fermentation adds to the texture.
Domaine De La Chaise Touraine Sauvignon 2014, $14.95 gives us a classic French turn on the varietal. A gold medal winner from the Loire, this has the heady aromas for which the grape is noted along with ripe grapefruit and herbal notes.
Mount Riley Limited Release Sauvignon Blanc 2015, $18.95, ups the intensity and breadth of tropical and herbal flavours according to Bob Campbell MW who gave it a 95.
Other whites on the release worth noting include Gérard Bertrand Réserve Spéciale Viognier 2014, $14.95. This has generally very good reviews for its aromas and its creamy peach and citrus flavours. There are nutty notes on the finish which some may find reminiscent of almond.
Kabang Gewürztraminer 2013, $17.95, hails from Stratus Vineyards in Niagara-on-the-Lake, and it has some bottle age going for it. Stratus is dedicated to producing wines of high quality, and “Kabang” is one of their second labels, along with “Wild Ass”. Gewürztraminer has a significant nose often suggesting rose or lychee, and the flavours come through with good depth.
Now to the Reds.
The Loire gives us Hubert Brochard Les Carisannes Pinot Noir 2014, $17.95 which will be on the lighter side with ripe cherry and earth notes, according to the Vintages Panel. Still, it has short term cellaring potential, but could be enjoyed this summer with chicken or salmon.
Oak Bay Pinot Noir 2012, $19.95 hails from the Okanagan valley, and winealign.com identifies ripe cherry, raspberry and spicy oak, calling it “well made, honest and eminently drinkable. (90)
Murphy-Goode Pinot Noir 2013, $19.95, comes from California, and here the fruit is accompanied by clove and cinnamon, according to the Wine Enthusiast, which also commented on its “silky-smooth texture”. (90)
Kaiken, well-respected for its Malbec, is represented on the release by its Terroir Series Corte Cabernet Sauvignon 2014, $15.95, which has satisfying depth and warm plummy flavours along with a hint of chocolate and cigar box. It is smooth and ripe.
Sivas-Sonoma Cabernet Sauvignon 2013, $24.95 took gold at the California State Fair with a score of 94. After 18 months of aging in mostly American oak, it presents with cooked cherry and black currant and some coffee and pepper notes. It has good depth, and some tannin in support.
Thorn-Clarke Shotfire Cabernet Sauvignon/ Shiraz, 2013, $21.95, is about 50/50 in terms of blend. According to theWine Enthusiast, it could stand some time in the cellar in order to let the “sturdy, chewy fruit flavors and mocha” develop. (90)
Shiraz, Syrah, and other Rhône Varietals
Undurraga Sibaris Gran Reserva Syrah 2013, $16.95, is a bit of mystery, in that there aren’t many reviews available, but I trust the producer, and the price, and expect it to live up to the name, Sibaris, and to be hedonistic and full of ripe flavours.
Australia’s 3 Ring Shiraz 2014, $18.95, will definitely deliver as the Wine Spectator’s Harvey Steiman rated it a 92, calling it “plush and spicy” with a “long, vivid finish”.
Xavier Côtes du Rhône 2012, $17.95, is a Grenache-based blend. erobertparker.com writes “Licorice, roasted herbs, pepper and plenty of sweet fruit come together in this medium to full-bodied, layered and textured effort.” (90).
M. Chapoutier Les Vignes de Bila-Haut Côtes du Roussillon Villages 2014, $14.95, also bears “Parker Praise” (89-91) which remarked on its terrific purity and balance and flavour notes of raspberry violets and peppery herbs.
Tessallae Vieilles Vignes Carignan 2014, $17.95, is a red sibling to the rosé mentioned earlier. The Parker group describes it with terms like “delicious”, “dense” “vibrant,” and “fleshy”. (90).
While there are more than a dozen well-made and well-priced reds featured in this category, I will just mention a handful.
Fattoria Le Calvane Quercione Chianti Colli Fiorentini 2014, $13.95 presents us with a chance to try a simple but tasty red from the neighbourhood of Florence itself. This is the kind of wine that typically finds itself in a carafe in a Florentine café, so buy a bottle, sit back with some salami and cheese, and pretend you are right there in Italy.
Coppi Peucetico Primitivo 2010, $14.95, from Puglia is already 6 years old, and the winery delivers nicely with each release. Italy’s version of Zinfandel, this will present substantial plummy flavour with a satisfying intensity on the finish.
Sicily’s Baglio di Pianetto Nero d’Avola 2013, $14.95, drew a score of 89 from the Wine Spectator. It is a “sleek red…fresh and minerally, with sculpted tannins and a long, spiced finish.” You could lay it down as it will improve over the next 5 years.
Ripasso has become the “go to” category for Veneto wines, and the Antiche Terre Venete Ripasso Valpolicella 2013, $16.95 exemplifies the attraction. Natalie MacLean identifies “honkin, big black fruit with great depths of flavour and concentration.” (90)
D’Angelo Aglianico Del Vulture 2012, $18.95, is a big, brooding wine from southern Italy, this time Basilicata.erobertparker.com suggests a drinking window of the next 10 years, and while describing it as “voluptuous and shapely” they still identify a “sense of precision and sharpness” shaped by tannin and acidity. (92)
Olarra Laztana Reserva 2010, $19.95, from Rioja won the International Trophy in the Decanter World Wine Awards last year, recognized for being “Intense, balanced and archetypal, with warming aromas of dark cherry spice, tobacco and berries.” It has a “suave palate … [and] fabulous concentration.”
Señorio de Los Baldὶos 2009, $19.95, from the more northerly Ribera del Duero region is also a Tempranillo.erobertparker.com explains “the palate has a keen citric thread that marries well with the plush cassis, blueberry and dark cherry fruit.” (93)
Whew! As I said at the beginning, the release is chock full of wines to seek out and enjoy – and while I have gone on…and on, and on…., I’ve really had to “cherry-pick” at that. So, seek, and ye shall find.