Wine discussion from LCBO
Post any gems you have found at the LCBO that are reasonably priced. I've tried the majority of 10$ ontario wines and haven't been blown away yet. I've also found that men and women usually enjoy different wines so I'd really appreciate a women's perspective.
The only wine I've truly loved is the J. Lohr Merlot 2007 for 20$ and it's finally in stock again.
From the February 5th 2011 LCBO Vintages Release
With the focus on Tuscany in this weekend’s release, if your preference is for a traditional grape varietal such as Sangiovese or even the more international flare of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, there are many intriguing wines to choose from. But of course, in our quest for discovery, North of 9 Selections has turned up a few ‘other’ interesting tasting opportunities. Let me show you a few...
2008 Pirramimma, Shiraz
You’ll have to move quickly if you want to get your hands on a bottle of this full-bodied Aussie gem. Port-like qualities here: thick, rich, and concentrated. Black fruit on the nose and lots of cocoa as it flows across the palate. At $24, this is underpriced. Decant 1-2 hours before serving. LCBO #987784/ $23.95 (D)
2007 Columbia Crest, H3 Merlot
Plenty of spice and black fruit on the nose. Medium bodied with initially an earthy taste which is followed quickly by more of the dark fruit. Quite dry on the finish. A very nice merlot. LCBO #209874 / $19.95 (XD)
2009 Kleine Zalze, Chardonnay
This was really nice. Initially, some peach and apple on the nose followed by a touch of vanilla and almond indicating time spent in oak, but on the palate, the flavours integrate nicely. Lovely; perfectly balanced Chardonnay from South Africa. LCBO #096495 / $15.95 (D)
2009 Ferraton Père & Fils, Samorëns Blanc
From the Rhône valley in France, the style is not normally available at the LCBO. Samorëns Blanc is a blend of 60% Grenache Blanc, 40% Clairette. With several bottles open on the table as I tasted, the floral aromas from this particular bottle overpowered the others: Flowers and tropical fruit notes followed by a medium body and the taste of apples and pineapple wrapped up by a crisp acidity. Try this one purely out of curiosity. LCBO #073916 / $13.95 (D)
Pierre Sparr, Rosè Brut, Crémant d’Alsace
Champagne is from Champagne; bubbles from elsewhere, no matter how good, cannot be called Champagne – it’s the law. This Alsatian crémant however, is made with the same care and technique though for a fraction of the price. The term brut implies dry. Fine bubbles are an indication of care taken during production whereas oxygen infused rapidly by carbonation would produce larger bubbles similar to a soft-drink. The aroma of strawberries hits you immediately followed by cherries and a toasty roundness in the mouth. Nice, but don’t over chill this one; try it at 10ºC. LCBO #039016 / $18.95 (D)
One for the Cellar:
2007 Ciacci Piccolomini, D’Aragona, Ateo
The Vintages release indicates DOC status for this wine but it is actually IGT which implies a deviation from traditional approved winemaking practices. This wine varies from what might be viewed as ‘religious’ in terms of wine production in Sant Antino,Italy. For this, Ciacci has named this wine Ateo which translates as ‘atheist’. This is the first year that Sangiovese has not been included in the blend leaving only Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot to create an international style that will appeal to many ‘big red’ enthusiasts. Expect a full-bodied wine dominated by dark fruit and spice. This will be lovely with a few years in the cellar; right now though, the tannic structure of the Cab. Sav. dominates. A great investment in taste at this price. Best after 2013. LCBO #211623 / $24.95 (D)
From the January 22, 2011 LCBO Vintages Release
2007 Messias, Grande Escolha
For most of us, Portugal represents Vintage and Tawny Port, the thick, rich and greatest example of fortified wine. But are you aware that the Portuguese also make really good dry red wine? This one is from Douro and is made with the same grape varietals used in the production of port except it’s not fortified with brandy spirits. Aromas of highly concentrated dark fruit with a hint of dark chocolate precede smooth blackberries accented by black pepper and spice. Try it with prime rib. LCBO #064691 / $17.95 (XD)
2009 Rolling Shiraz
Rich red fruit greets you right off the top combined with some earthiness. The two actually balance each other out nicely. On the palate, sweetness and lots of it coats your tongue with ripe juicy fruit and a hint of spice. It is by no means a full-bodied Shiraz; the style is much lighter and very easy to drink. A bargain at this price. LCBO #203133 / $14.95 (D)
2009 St. Donatus Irsai Oliver, Balatonlellei
Irsai Oliver is a type of white grape native to central Europe and in this example, Hungary. The awkwardness of the name has not added to the appeal of this very fragrant varietal though that should not deter your interest in trying something new. On the nose: Aroma is not the correct word; perfume is more accurate and you must try it to believe how pronounced the fragrance actually is. Crushed rose petal bath soap, if you can imagine it – very interesting. On the palate: fresh acidity highlighted with touch of lime on the finish. Can I say that it even tastes like flowers? Delicate but very pronounced and recommended. LCBO #012070 / $12.95 (D)
2009 Terres Blanches, Muscat Sec
From the south of France, this wine greets you with aromas of lemon and orange. There is also a floral note which is very typical of the Muscat grape. Sec implies a dry wine but this one is not overly-so. Serve this alongside lemon chicken to someone who will only drink Chardonnay and watch their expression. A perfectly balanced wine. LCBO #200048 / $13.95 (D)
2004 Croft LBV Porto
Late Bottle Vintage (LBV) is port which is ready to drink much earlier than the traditional vintage port style. LBV has been filtered and/or fined and therefore will not benefit from additional bottle age and at 6 years old, this one is quite rich and smooth offering up chewy dark fruit with a touch of pepper and some heat. The open air did seem to take the spicy edge off within an hour or so. LCBO #087601 / $17.95 (S)
One for the Cellar:
2008 Domaine Bernard Defaix, Côte de Lechet, Chablis, 1er Cru
Chablis is a satellite of the French appellation of Burgundy. The Chardonnay here has a pronounced minerality and freshness when compared to its buttery counterparts in the Côte de Beaune. This premier cru will benefit from 2 to 5 years in the cellar over which it will develop a fullness on the palate to balance out the crisp acidity right now. Aged Chablis is always worth the wait. LCBO #950667 / $31.95 (XD)
From the Dec 11th LCBO Release
2008 Yalumba, Shiraz/Viognier
Viognier is a white grape varietal which makes this Aussie red a touch unusual. Yalumba has blended a very small amount of the fragrant Viognier with their mighty Shiraz, a varietal typical of south Australia. The result is a powerhouse wine which I found a touch aggressive straight out of the bottle. After an hour of breathing time however, the deep inky purple Shiraz began to show its softer side. This full bodied wine seemed to mellow nicely in the glass with some air though make no mistake, while it is very good, it is also a very dry Shiraz and not one to sip on its own but instead, will pair perfectly with a rich red meat dish. Decant 1-2 hours before serving. LCBO #524926 / $19.95 (XD)
2008 De Martino Legado, Riserva Cabernet Sauvignon
Opened at lunch, the nose was quite fragrant but the mid palate was flat - nothing to write home about was my initial reaction but later in the day - Wow! The nose exploded with peppermint and the mouth-feel rounded out nicely. It is bone dry with dark fruit and an earthy aftertaste. A very interesting Chilean wine for sure! Decant 2 hours before serving LCBO #205674 / $14.95 (XD)
2009 Bougrier, Vouvray
'Consistently excellent' best describes this Chenin Blanc from the Loire Valley in France. Bougrier's Vouvray is one of my 'go-to' wines and it never disappoints. The style is off-dry with notes of exotic fruit and a hint of honey plus just the right amount of acidity to pair will a multitude of foods or simply on its own as an aperitif. Save yourself the trip back to the store and buy a few bottles. LCBO #106880 / $13.95 (MD)
2008 Jackson-Triggs, Proprietors' Grand Reserve Chardonnay
This Niagara Chardonnay has spent 8 months in new oak and that style is quite prevalent in the vanilla and almond extract notes but these characteristics are balance by some nice tropical fruit and good acidity. This is a big wine and a rare opportunity where a white will also benefit from decanting. Let it breath for an hour. Very good. LCBO #593996 / $20.95 (D)
Royal Oporto 10-year old Tawny Port
The LCBO called this 200ml bottle a 'Stocking Stuffer' and I agree whole-heartedly. If you have not yet tried Tawny Port, this is the perfect place to start. Tawny is an oak-aged fortified wine and the 10-year designation is the average time the wine has spent aging in wood. The oak softens the wine's hard edges and slowly changes its colour to a soft tawny-brown. Traditionally, port is served on the cool side but I prefer mine at room temperature with milk chocolate - Wow! LCBO #661223 / $12.95 (S)
One for the Cellar:
2005 Ascheri Vigna dei Pola, Barolo
The 2000 version of Ascheri's Vigna dei Pola was voted top wine at the North of 9 Fine Wine Barolo tasting last March. Italy's Barolo is a product of the Nebbiolo grape varietal and wines from the 2005 vintage will benefit from at least 7-10 years in the bottle. Vigna dei Pola is aged as separate components in large Slovenian oak, new barriques, and stainless steel and then rejoined before bottling. Expect a big wine which is surprisingly light in colour filled with red fruit, subtle earthy notes, and a touch of spice. Cellar it until 2012 - It's worth the wait. LCBO #739920 / $41.95 (XD)
To put this list in context:
"Just the other week 13th Street’s Peter Bodnar Rod posed this question to the judges of Intervin 2010 (Christopher Waters, Thomas Bachelder, Linda Bramble, Darryl Brooker, Sara D’Amato, Christopher Freeland, April Kilpatrick, Craig McDonald, Paul Pender, Sue-Ann Staff, Margaret Swaine, Zoltan Szabo, James Treadwell, Deanna Van Mulligen, and little old me)
And so we present for you the list compiled that evening, and Oh Boy, have we got a list for you…"
1. Segura Viudas “Brut Reserva” Cava Penedes Spain (LCBO GL# 158493) $14.95
2. Jacob’s Creek Chardonnay/Pinot Noir “Bottle Fermented” Australia (Still trying to track this down! – JD)
1. Babich Sauvignon Blanc New Zealand (LCBO GL# 620054) $16.05
2. Cono Sur Riesling Chile (LCBO GL# 156653) $9.95
3. Weingut St. Urbans-Hof ”Urban” Riesling QbA Mosel Germany (LCBO GL# 184051) $14.95
4. Pfaffenheim Pinot Blanc Alsace France (LCBO GL# 22855) $12.95
5. Fritz Haag Riesling Germany (Occasionally seen)
6. Gatao Vinho Verde Portugal (Occasionally seen)
7. Louis Jadot Chardonnay Burgundy France (LCBO VINTAGES# 933077) $18.95
8. Rabl “Käferberg” Grüner Veltliner Austria (LCBO VINTAGES ONLINE# 32532) $29
9. Lailey “Select Late Harvest” Riesling Niagara Ontario (WINERY ONLY) $25 (375ml)
10. KWV Chenin Blanc South Africa (LCBO GL# 18689) $8
1. Bodegas Montecillo Rioja Reserva Spain (LCBO GL# 621003) $18.45
2. Vinicola Botter “Ogio” Primitivo Puglia Italy (LCBO GL# 86421) $8.85
3. La Vieille Ferme Côtes du Ventoux Rhône Valley France (LCBO GL# 263640) $11.95
4. Bodegas Casona “La Casona Old Vines” Monastrell Jumilla Spain (LCBO GL# 143743) $8.70
6. De Bortoli “Deen Vat 10″ Pinot Noir South Australia (LCBO GL#61622) $15.05
7. Juan Gil Monastrell Jumilla Spain (LCBO VINTAGES# 74888) $12.95
8. Louis Jadot Beaujolais France (LCBO VINTAGES# 5918) $9.95 (375ml)
9. Condado de Haza Crianza Ribera del Duero Spain (LCBO VINTAGES# 963348) $24.95
10. Sue Ann Staff Baco Noir Niagara Ontario (WINERY ONLY)
1560 Yonge St., Toronto, ON M4T 2S9, CA
1862 Queen St E, Toronto, ON M4L1H1, CA
4949 Bathurst St, Toronto, ON M2R1Y1, CA
I wouldn't touch any wine from Niagra, too many misses for the number of hits.
The contrary to this is Rioja, mostly hits, relative to the number of misses. Therefore much better value. ( + syoung above, has a sensible recommendation)
If you want a simplistic value white, then Ardeche by Latour works. Again as the folks mention above, Sauvignons from New Zealand are mostly well made.
1862 Queen St E, Toronto, ON M4L1H1, CA
I have to admit, as much as I love having a wine region so close to home, like you, I find the Niagara (area) wines just haven't been able compete in terms of value for $ with other wines. Even when foreign content rules were relaxed due to Ontario's poor growing conditions, the blended final products were over-priced relative to competitors from counties such as Australia, Chile and Argentina. I love South America for value priced wines. Although technically they're deemed "new world", their vines have been in the ground just as long, if not longer than those in Europe. IMHO of course!!
You guys obviously miss this bit of news from the Toronto Star:
I agree that Ontario wines are generally bad QPRs although I try to buy them sometimes just to support the region. It doesn't help that local critics like Stimmell and MacLean overrates local wines, sometimes by a lot. I'll be trying some of the 2009 vintage to see if they're is as good as the producers claim, though I fully expect continued overpricing.
Here is a link to the Vintages website. All new releases are posted online, in advance of the release,in a pdf format flipbook (I preferred the old format). It lists all wines and spirits in the release along with tasting notes for each wine. It's a great tool. You can also search the vintages website with advanced options for price, region, varietal, etc.
As an aside, if you enjoyed the J. Lohr Merlot, try the Madrigal Merlot 2005. It's a leaner style of merlot with decent structure - not a big fruit bomb.
Hardly an independent assessment. They are the retailer and I take their 'reviews' (and scores) with a huge grain of salt (which probably means I'm consuming too much salt). They're notorious for using descriptions/scores for a completely different vintage than the one available.
And their 'wines of the month'/similar features are PAID-FOR ads - agents/producers pay a premium to be listed here.
And, of course, their product codes are re-used from vintage to vintage - I've often found 2 different vintages in the same shelf bin - and once found 4 different vintages.
Stick to the independent reviewers (such as Alan Kerr and Dean Tudor, both mentioned above - and the several others that exist).
With all due respect, for a novice wine buyer, the tasting notes and reviews are more than adequate for wines under $20. You may as well stop buying Decanter, the Wine Spectator, and any other food/wine publication that is beholden to advertising if you're concerned about biased reviews.
Unless you are planning on spending a chunk of time researching every wine purchase, the Vintages site is just fine.
We've really been enjoying the Tilia Cab Sauv from Argentina. It's been our "house red" for the summer and proven to be especially good w bbq.
If you like big reds, you should give this value-priced wine a try - $12.95 It's yummy good!!
Coming Sept 18 to Vintages --
TOP VALUE WHITE WINES under $20 or so.
1. Henry of Pelham Barrel Fermented Chardonnay 2007 VQA Niagara
Escarpment: terrific balance of fruit and wood, vanilla, spices. Puts
the plank back into salmon, etc. +268342, $19.95, QPR: 90.
2. Tawse Sketches of Niagara Chardonnay 2008 VQA Niagara Peninsula: a
smart wine with lots of fruit and longer length. +89037, $19.95, QPR:
3. Chateau des Charmes Old Vines Riesling 2007 VQA NOTL: very
successful Alsatian style, loaded with concentration. +277228, $16.95,
4. Alamos Chardonnay 2009 Mendoza: useful and youthful, hits all the
right buttons. +801571, $13.95, QPR: 89.
5. Chateau du Juge Blanc 2008 Bordeaux: lovely MVC of sauvignon blanc
and Semillon, balance. +171082, $15.95, QPR: 90.
TOP VALUE RED WINES under $20 or so.
1. Vinecol Organic Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 Mendoza: MVC consistency,
off-dry finish, plumy but red fruit. +167270, $13.95, QPR: 89.
2. Ringbolt Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 Margaret River: excellent fruit
set, lovely persistent finish. It engaged me. +606624, $19.95, QPR: 90.
3. The Ruins Syrah/Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 WO Robertson SA: anoher
organic wine winner, good hit of Rhone Syrah here. Twist top. 14.8%
ABV. +18739, $14.95, QPR: 91.
4. Bod. Corral Don Jacobo Crianza 2005 Rioja: nicely aged, rich and
raisiny, plumy and pruney too. Delightful MVC Rioja. +937714, $13.95,
Any suggestions for a Chianti? Nothing too acidic and overpowering. I'm still somewhat of a wine novice and have yet to grow accustomed to really strong wines. I enjoyed a lovely 2006 Chianti Superiore by Fattoria Poggiarello last night at Origin and would love to find something similar. Last summer, I had the best Chianti ever while visiting Siena and have yet to find something as good in Toronto.
Recently I've been using Alan Kerr's tasting reviews of the latest Vintages releases. I find his tastings are quite accurate and he samples a lot of wines each time. I think his posts show up 2 days before the Saturday release date. Here's the link: http://blogs.gangofpour.com/
I don't think you're gonna find too many wines at $10 that you'll be "blown away" by. Perhaps increasing your budget to around the $15-25 range might get you better success (as per the Merlot you like).
I don't agree at all that men and women enjoy different wines any more than men and women enjoy different foods. As for suggestion, try:
M. CHAPOUTIER LES VIGNES DE BILA-HAUT CÔTES DU ROUSSILLON-VILLAGES 2008 VINTAGES 168716 $ 15.00
It's a medium bodied Rhone blend, cherry/plum fruit, decent tannins on the finish to give it some backbone and a very good buy at this price point. If you want more suggestions, the Wine Spectator bulletin board usually has a few LCBO threads going.