The first Vintages release of the new year generally focuses on value, and this year follows the pattern. While I didn’t find many “superstar” wines, there are many good to very good wines, and many of those are at very attractive prices — perfect for winter weekday evenings around the family table. I’ve chosen seven whites and six reds that fit the bill.
The value theme is especially convincing for the white wines, for I have chosen seven varied and interesting offerings, all priced between $14.95 and $18.95. The first is a local off-dry Riesling from Featherstone, which is nicely complemented by the bone-dry Alsatian Riesling from Gustave Lorentz. The remaining five wines are a lively Grüner Veltliner from Austrian Fred Loimer, an Australian Chardonnay from Wakefield Estate, an old vines Grenache Blanc blend from the Côtes de Roussillon, a Coda di Volpa from Campanian producer Donnachiara, and the Mulderbosch Chenin Blanc.
GUSTAVE LORENTZ RÉSERVE RIESLING 2014, AC Alsace
Vintages #641639 • $18.95 • 750ml. • WD Score 89/100This Riesling from Alsace has a straight forward lemony, green apple nose with just a suggestion of Riesling minerality, and a dusting of dried herbs and dry earth. Truly dry, with firm acidity and lower alcohol, the palate is crisp and juicy, full of mouth-watering lemon and apple fruit, with a tart and drying finish. This will give great enjoyment to those who love crisp, dry Riesling.
Tasted Dec 4, 2015 • AMETHYST WINE AGENCY INC. (Agent) • Find it at your nearest LCBO • Share Review
FEATHERSTONE BLACK SHEEP RIESLING 2014, VQA Niagara Peninsula
Vintages #80234 • $16.95 • 750ml. • WD Score 88/100The wine is watery white, with a bright and pretty nose of white flowers, apple blossoms, lemon and lime juice, red apples, white peaches and a light stony minerality. The wine is off-dry with low alcohol, and its brisk acidity provides a pleasant sweet-tart texture and a drying finish. This is perfect with slightly spicy food, but excellent for sipping on its own. Very good value.
Tasted Dec 4, 2015 • FEATHERSTONE WINERY (Agent) • Find it at your nearest LCBO • Share Review
FRED LOIMER LOIS GRÜNER VELTLINER 2013, DAC Kamptal
Vintages #422717 • $17.95 • 750ml. • WD Score 89/100This youthful Grüner Veltliner nicely expresses the fresh and green side of the grape, with aromas of fresh lemon-lime and green apples along with green herbs and just a suggestion of an earthy undertone. Crisp acidity and lower alcohol carry the freshness to the palate, where a dusting of white pepper adds a little complexity to the fresh fruit and herbal flavours. This is an excellent value.
Tasted Dec 4, 2015 • LE SOMMELIER INC. (Agent) • Find it at your nearest LCBO • Share Review
WAKEFIELD ESTATE CHARDONNAY 2014, Clare Valley/Adelaide Hills, South Australia
Vintages #711556 • $14.95 • 750ml. • WD Score 89/100The nose exhibits fresh lemon, yellow apples, peach and vanilla aromas. Bright acidity balances the slightly elevated alcohol, and the fruit on the palate remains lively and fresh, with a pleasant creamy texture that contrasts with the lingering acidity on the finish. This is an excellent value in a crisp and modestly oaked Chardonnay.
Tasted Dec 4, 2015 • VIN VINO WINE MERCHANTS INC. (Agent) • Find it at your nearest LCBO • Share Review
SAINT-ROCH VIEILLES VIGNES GRENACHE BLANC-ROUSSANNE CÔTES DU ROUSSILLON AP 2014
Vintages #175232 • $16.95 • 750ml. • WD Score 89/100This pleasant white wine from Côtes du Roussillon is 80% Grenache Blanc (the balance is Roussanne). The nose is lightly herbal, with white flowers, lemon, lime, apple and white peach notes. The wine is dry, with elevated acidity and modest alcohol. I really enjoy the attractive bitterness that begins to show on the mid palate underneath the fruit and herbal flavours, and carries through to a lengthy finish.
Tasted Dec 4, 2015 • GLENCAIRN WINE MERCHANTS (Agent) • Find it at your nearest LCBO • Share Review
DONNACHIARA IRPINIA CODA DI VOLPE DOP 2013
Vintages #434241 • $16.95 • 750ml. • WD Score 89/100The wine is medium straw-yellow, with notes of lemon juice, yellow apples, honeydew melon, apricots and green herbs. The wine is dry, with elevated acidity, and while the alcohol is moderate, the body showed some richness. On the palate the fruit and herbs are supplemented by a slightly bitter apricot pit and almond note, that carries into the crisp finish. Really quite lovely, and another fine value from Campania.
Tasted Dec 4, 2015 • THE CASE FOR WINE (Agent) • Find it at your nearest LCBO • Share Review
MULDERBOSCH CHENIN BLANC 2015, WO Western Cape
Vintages #675421 • $14.95 • 750ml. • WD Score 88.5/100The Mulderbosch Chenin Blanc is a dependable value wine from the Western Cape in South Africa. The nose is expressive, showing lemon, yellow apples, white peach and white flowers. The wine is dry, crisp, and clean, with balanced alcohol and an underlying creaminess that adds to the richness of the palate, with just a suggestion of vanilla. A salty-stony minerality builds under that richness, and carries into a lengthy finish.
Tasted Dec 4, 2015 • ABCON INTERNATIONAL (Agent) • Find it at your nearest LCBO • Share Review
The reds are a little pricier, and the first two are very good indeed: a 2007 Rioja from Allende, and an Haut-Médoc from Château Cambon la Pelouse. I conclude with two new world Pinot Noirs from Oregon and New Zealand respectively — the 2012 Foris and the 2013 Te Kairanga — followed by a good Beaujolais from Morgon producer Domaine Dupré, and the Perrin “Nature” Côtes du Rhône in a half bottle.
ALLENDE 2007, DOCa Rioja
Vintages #954560 • $29.95 • 750ml. • WD Score 90/100This 2007 Rioja still has plenty of rich, ripe cherry, blueberry, blackberry and plum fruit on the nose, that is beginning to add some drying and leathery notes around the fresher core. Crisp acidity, balanced alcohol and still-grippy tannins frame the palate, where the lovely fruit is enhanced by cedar, tobacco and dry earth notes. Despite the obvious richness and ripeness, there is a sense of real elegance too. This is a complex and compelling wine that is drinking very well now, but can certainly age further in bottle over the next five or more years.
Tasted Dec 4, 2015 • M.C.O. (Agent) • Find it at your nearest LCBO • Share Review
CHÂTEAU CAMBON LA PELOUSE 2010, AC Haut-Médoc
Vintages #199190 • $37.95 • 750ml. • WD Score 90/100Château La Palouse is in the commune of Macau, south of Margaux in the Haut Médoc. This blend of 52% Merlot, 44% Cabernet Sauvignon and 4% Petit Verdot shows deep ruby-red, with an expressive nose suggesting rich and ripe blackberries, black currants and plums, with baking spices and vanilla. Firm acidity balances elevated grippy tannins, while notes of dry earth and forest floor supplement the ripe fruit on the palate, adding depth and complexity. Decant for early drinking or hold for at least three to five years.
Tasted Dec 4, 2015 • VINEXX (Agent) • Find it at your nearest LCBO • Share Review
FORIS PINOT NOIR 2012, Rogue Valley
Vintages #937128 • $24.95 • 750ml. • WD Score 89/100This a good introduction to Oregon Pinot Noir, that often sits on the divide between old world and new world Pinot. Aromas of raspberries and blackberries dominate, with top notes of orange zest and violets, and twiggy-earthy notes underneath. Crisp acidity, soft tannins and balanced alcohol present the ripe fruit on the palate, here weighing more towards its west coast roots. All-in-all, this is a very pleasant Pinot for the price.
Tasted Dec 4, 2015 • DB WINE & SPIRITS INC. (Agent) • Find it at your nearest LCBO • Share Review
TE KAIRANGA PINOT NOIR 2013, Martinborough, North Island
Vintages #744946 • $26.95 • 750ml. • WD Score 89/100This is a very pleasant expression of Martinborough Pinot Noir, that combines vibrant cherry and berry fruit, with a lightly earthy and savoury background, and a suggestion of baking spice and vanilla from moderate oak aging. The slightly chalky tannins are complemented by crisp acidity, and the alcohol is well constrained and balanced. This is a very good Pinot for the price — highly recommended.
Tasted Dec 4, 2015 • SELECT WINE MERCHANTS INC. (Agent) • Find it at your nearest LCBO • Share Review
DOMAINE DUPRÉ VIGNES DE 1935 MORGON AC 2012
Vintages #440297 • $19.95 • 750ml. • WD Score 89/100This is a very pleasant Beaujolais from Morgon, with its mix of tart and ripe cherry, raspberry and blackberry fruit enhanced by some underlying twiggy and earthy notes. Bright acidity carries the palate, supported by modest and supple tannins, with the vibrant fruit enhanced by a waft of black pepper. Very good value for this Morgon.
Tasted Dec 4, 2015 • HEXAGON WINES (Agent) • Find it at your nearest LCBO • Share Review
PERRIN NATURE CÔTES DU RHÔNE AC 2014
Vintages #10363 • $9.95 • 375ml. • WD Score 89/100The Perrin Nature is made from organically certified grapes. The wine is a youthful ruby-violet, with aromas of ripe blueberries, blackberries and plums, with a dusting of herbs and garrigue, followed by a light menthol lift. Brisk acidity balances the slightly elevated tannins, and the lovely fruit on the palate carries through to a long juicy finish. This is a very pleasant offering, and the half-bottle format is sometimes just the ticket for a lighter week-day meal.
Tasted Dec 4, 2015 • CHARTON HOBBS INC (Agent) • Find it at your nearest LCBO • Share Review