The November 14 release is extensive and quite memorable. The only problem from a reader’s point of view is that most of the wines that caught my fancy were rather expensive — not poor values in a price/quality sense, since they are all very fine wines, but expensive in absolute dollars. But in this first post, I will present two sparkling wines and seven fine red wines that are under (or in one case only slightly above) $30, and in fact most of the red wines are closer to the $20 mark. Overall these are undoubtedly wonderful values. My second post will feature six excellent reds that sell for more than $40. My third post will feature a variety of white wines from all price levels, but again are all wines that I consider to be very good. You will see that no matter what the price, I am very enthusiastic about them.
So here I begin with two sparkling wines: the first a Canadian wine from the fine Okanagan producer Blue Mountain, and the second a premium Cava from the well-known house of Sigura Viudas.
BLUE MOUNTAIN GOLD LABEL BRUT, Disgorged 03/15, Méthode Traditionnelle, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia
Vintages #206326 • $28.95 • 750ml. • 90/100This sparkler shows straw-coloured with yellow glints. It has an interesting nose: slightly herbal with a suggestion of mint, then lemon, green apples and a hint of strawberries and melons. The crisp acidity makes the wine seem quite dry, and the fresh, lively palate shows fruit and berries to great advantage, as they culminate in a slightly astringent and toasty finish. Very good.
Tasted Oct. 16, 2015 • ROGERS & COMPANY (Agent) • Find it at your nearest LCBO • Share Recommendation
SEGURA VIUDAS BRUT RESERVA HEREDAD CAVA, Méthode Traditionnelle, DO, Spain
Vintages #558825 • $29.95 • 750ml. • 90/100While I'm not attracted to the heavy bottle with its pewter base and crest, the contents of the bottle are very good indeed. The nose begins with a strong toasty and nutty presence, proceeding with a seam of herbs and twigs, all of which surround a core of lemon and green apples. The wine is dry, with just a suggestion of residual sugar that is mostly hidden by the acidity. The crisp green and red apple and lemon flavours come forward on the palate, and the finish stays fresh with a nice acidic kick. An excellent premium Cava.
Tasted Oct. 16, 2015 • CHURCHILL CELLARS LTD. (Agent) • Find it at your nearest LCBO • Share Recommendation
The first red is an interesting and slightly challenging Xinomavro from Boutari that shows the fine structure of the grape and significant evolution in bottle.
2008 BOUTARI GRANDE RESERVE XINOMAVRO, PDO Naoussa
Vintages #140111 • $18.95 • 750ml. • 90/100Xinomavro is sometimes compared to Nebbiolo, perhaps unfairly, but the grounds for the comparison are its structure: higher tannins and acidity, and its colour, which tends to medium ruby-garnet. This example fits the profile nicely. It shows lots of garnet in the glass. The nose is filled with savoury, tertiary notes, with hints of fruit remaining. The tannins have softened, but the acid remains firm, giving some freshness to the diminishing cherry and blackberry fruit that are largely overshadowed by the leathery, earthy notes. I would drink this soon, for although the reputation suggests that this can last for many more years, I wonder whether its raison d'être might become interest rather than pleasure. A very cool wine!
Tasted Oct. 23, 2015 • THE KOLONAKI GROUP INC (Agent) • Find it at your nearest LCBO • Share Recommendation
But sometimes we don’t want a challenge — just a really pleasant drink.
2012 MANOIR DU CARRA LES BURDELINES MOULIN À VENT AC
Vintages #424796 • $22.95 • 750ml. • 89/100Here is an easy-drinking Beaujolais that will enhance almost any casual meal. Notes of cinnamon and other baking spices supplement the pleasant strawberry, raspberry and cherry fruit aromas. Balanced alcohol and modest tannins are supported by a brisk acidic bite that keeps the cherry-berry fruit fresh and vibrant. Good value.
Tasted Oct. 23, 2015 • TERRA FIRMA WINES (Agent) • Find it at your nearest LCBO • Share Recommendation
The final five wines are excellent, serious, but highly drinkable reds: a very good Bordeaux from Graves, two Riserva Chianti Classicos, a Valpolicella Ripasso, and a Syrah-Cabernet Sauvignon blend from South Africa that presents a Bordeaux-like structure and presence with a very affordable South African price.
2010 CHÂTEAU RAHOUL, AC Graves
Vintages #226043 • $29.95 • 750ml. • 90/100This is a very good wine from the 2010 vintage in Graves. It is a deep, dark ruby-red, with a nose suggesting dark fruit: blackberries, black currants and plums, with top notes of mint and dried herbs, and an undertone of earth and asphalt. There is some gentle heat on the mid-palate, balanced by firm acidity and ripe tannins. The fruit on the palate is ripe and slightly brooding, and the fruit and tannins carry through to the lengthy finish. A very good wine, and fairly priced.
Tasted Oct. 23, 2015 • PHILIPPE DANDURAND WINES LTD. (Agent) • Find it at your nearest LCBO • Share Recommendation
2008 IL MOLINO DI GRACE RISERVA CHIANTI CLASSICO DOCG
Vintages #382945 • $23.95 • 750ml. • 89/100This 2008 Chianti Classico Riserva is showing some cherry and floral aromas, a light volatility, and nicely evolved leathery notes. The cherry and berry fruit are fresher on the palate, where the bright acidity balances the evolving savoury and earthy tones. This is a very cost-effective way to explore a slightly older wine that shows some good complexity as it ages.
Tasted Oct. 23, 2015 • FRONTIER WINE MERCHANTS (Agent) • Find it at your nearest LCBO • Share Recommendation
2012 MARCHESE ANTINORI CHIANTI CLASSICO RISERVA DOCG
Vintages #512384 • $32.95 • 750ml. • 91/100Here is a youthful Chianti Classico Riserva that hits all the right notes. It's from the famous Tignanello vineyard, in the heart of the Classico region, and shows the great qualities of the vineyard in a package that allows the fruit to shine. The nose of cherry, raspberry and blackberry fruit is complemented by a top note of violets and a riff of cinnamon and cloves. Crisp acidity, balanced alcohol and firm tannins support the pretty, juicy fruit on the palate, with a fruit-and-tannin finish. There is a lovely attack to the wine, and a little further time in bottle should see the tannins calming nicely. A rewarding example of Classico Riserva.
Tasted Oct. 23, 2015 • HALPERN ENTERPRISES (Agent) • Find it at your nearest LCBO • Share Recommendation
2012 MICHELE CASTELLANI I CASTEI COSTAMARAN RIPASSO VALPOLICELLA CLASSICO SUPERIORE DOC
Vintages #972406 • $19.95 • 750ml. • 89/100Valpolicella Ripasso is very popular here in Ontario, and this is one I can recommend. Fresh cherry fruit and a light volatile lift complement the dry cherries, rich plum, red currant, sweet red licorice and dry earth aromas. There is just enough acidity to balance the elevated alcohol and lingering tannins. Fruit on the palate is rich and ripe, with hints of cinnamon and other baking spices adding to the complexity. This is a very good example of the style.
Tasted Oct. 23, 2015 • IAN J CAMPBELL & ASSOC. (Agent) • Find it at your nearest LCBO • Share Recommendation
2009 GRAND VIN DE GLENELLY RED, WO Stellenbosch
Vintages #360339 • $19.95 • 750ml. • 90/100This $20 wine is quite a tour de force. It's a Shiraz-Cabernet Sauvignon blend, with smaller amounts of Merlot and Petit Verdot. It's deep, dark ruby-purple, with a hint of red on its narrow rim. The nose features rich blackberry, plum and black currant fruit — fully ripe and a little cooked. There is some heat on the palate, with ripe tannins, and the slightly jammy fruit is underpinned by chocolate and vanilla notes. Perhaps a little more "Bordeaux" than "Shiraz", but in any case very good value and widely appealing.
Tasted Oct. 23, 2015 • H.H.D. IMPORTS (Agent) • Find it at your nearest LCBO • Share Recommendation