Nine red wines: Canada, California, Italy and France

"... wines based on Bordeaux varieties from Canada, Pinot Noir from California, Brunello and other wines from Italy, and value-laden Beaujolais and Bordeaux ..."

available in Ontario after November 26, 2016

While the November 26th release is filled with super-premium-priced reds, I’ve selected nine wines from Canada, California, Italy and France that offer real value from my perspective. Five are good wines that are priced at $20 and under, so give value in the obvious sense. The other four are priced significantly higher, but offer interest and excellence at a fair price — good value in another sense.

Three Ontario wines based on Bordeaux varieties head the list: two premium wines, the 2010 Henry Of Pelham Speck Family Reserve Cabernet/Merlot and the 2012 Stratus Petit Verdot, and the value-priced 2015 Peninsula Ridge Beal Vineyard Reserve Merlot. The other North American offering is a rather compelling Pinot Noir from California, the 2014 Calera Pinot Noir.

My three Italian selections are headed by the 2009 Sassetti Pertimali Brunello Di Montalcino, that provides a faithful entry-point to Brunello at a lower-than-average price for the appellation. The other two wines are very good values, the 2013 San Felice Chianti Classico and the 2014 Tenuta Rocca Barbera D’Alba.

Finally, fine value is reitterated with my two selections from France, the 2015 Domaine De La Madone Le Perréon Beaujolais-Villages and the 2014 Château Roc De Levraut Bordeaux Supérieur.



Vintages #616433 • $39.95 • 750ml. • WD Score 91/100
The Speck Family Reserve wines from Henry of Pelham are the premium table wines from the estate, with grapes from their most-prized vineyards. This blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot was fermented in oak tanks, and aged for 20 months in French oak (60% new and the balance in one-year-old barrels). The wine is rather deep crimson red, and is just starting to show garnet on the rim. Hints of green herbs and cedar underlie black currant and blackberry fruit, with tobacco leaf and dusty oak adding complexity. The wine is dry, with firm acidity, balanced alcohol and a medium-full body. Tannins are fine and persistent, carrying the core of rich fruit on the mid-palate, with savoury, herbal cedary and dry leaf nuances providing real Cabernet character. Authentic Niagara Cab-Merlot from a warmer vintage — with fine, integrated oak treatment and no over-extraction of the fruit. Very good indeed.
Tasted Oct 21, 2016 • HENRY OF PELHAM FAMILY EST. WINERY (Agent)Find it at your nearest LCBOShare Review


STRATUS PETIT VERDOT 2012, VQA Niagara-on-the-Lake

Vintages #142638 • $38.20 • 750ml. • WD Score 89/100
Petit Verdot is rare in Niagara, because it generally ripens even later than Cabernet Sauvignon. But Stratus has been growing the variety, and occasionally makes a varietal wine, as in the warm and lengthy 2012 vintage. Grapes were harvested late in October, and the wine aged for about 20 months in French oak, 38% new. The wine is deep, dense, inky purple in colour. The nose is expressive, with slightly lifted ripe to over-ripe blackberry, black currant and plum fruit, as well as notes of damp earth, cedar and green herbs. The wine is dry, with balanced acidity and gritty, mouthcoating tannins. The dark, dense fruit carries some heat on the mid-palate, and the tannins persist into the finish. Very tannic, very extracted, and very much in the Stratus style.
Tasted Oct 21, 2016 • STRATUS VINEYARDS (Agent)Find it at your nearest LCBOShare Review



Vintages #257311 • $19.95 • 750ml. • WD Score 88.5/100
The wine is deep ruby-violet, showing pink on the rim. Bright and just-ripe blueberry, blackberry and black cherry fruit aromas are edged by menthol, cedar, and chocolate. The wine is dry, with crisp acidity, modest alcohol and a medium body. The fruit centres the palate, with the chocolate and lightly roasted notes contrasting with the cedar and menthol. Very clearly Niagara, emphasizing freshness and shorter-term drinkability.
Tasted Nov 17, 2016 • PMA CANADA LTD. (Agent)Find it at your nearest LCBOShare Review


CALERA PINOT NOIR 2014, Central Coast

Vintages #933044 • $49.95 • 750ml. • WD Score 90/100
The wine is medium ruby-red in colour. Although the strawberry, raspberry and cherry fruit is quite ripe, there is a compelling florality and a damp earth and smoky spice element that identifies as Pinot. The wine is dry, with bright acidity and elevated alcohol that generates some warmth on the mid-palate. The fruit is vibrant and fresh, the tannins are fine and drying, and the finish is lengthy. Very California, but with lots of Pinot character. One of the more compelling California Pinots I've sampled this year.
Tasted Oct 21, 2016 • VINEXX (Agent)Find it at your nearest LCBOShare Review



Vintages #474734 • $49.95 • 750ml. • WD Score 91/100
The wine is ruby-garnet, showing garnet on the rim. The nose shows considerable maturation: cinnamon, cloves, leather, and drying cherry and berry fruit. The wine is dry, with firm acidity, a medium-full body, and fine drying tannins. It is light on its feet and quite elegant, evolving with a prominent baking spice element on the palate, and the fruit, while drying pleasantly, still shows a hint of freshness. Although the evolution is surprising given its age, this is still a very good wine — but I'd drink it over the shorter term for maximum enjoyment.
Tasted Nov 17, 2016 • BARRIQUE WINES & SPIRITS IMPORTS (Agent)Find it at your nearest LCBOShare Review



Vintages #282996 • $19.95 • 750ml. • WD Score 89/100
This Chianti is 80% Sangiovese, with the balance from Colorino and Pugnitello. It was fermented in stainless steel, and aged for twelve months in large Slovenian oak casks. The wine is ruby-red, with garnet showing on the rim. Pleasant aromas of cherry and berry fruit are accompanied by a note of tobacco leaf and slightly leathery and earthy undertones. The wine is dry, with brisk acidity, moderate alcohol and a medium body. Tannins are fine and persistent, while the fruit shows fresh and ripe on the palate, and the savoury elements recede a little. The fine tannins and crisp fruit linger on the finish. Very attractive and well-priced.
Tasted Oct 28, 2016 • CHARTON HOBBS INC (Agent)Find it at your nearest LCBOShare Review



Vintages #427583 • $16.95 • 750ml. • WD Score 88/100
The wine is a deeper ruby-purple in colour, with a hint of violet on the rim. Pretty red cherry, raspberry and blackberry fruit fill the nose, with a slightly confected red licorice note and contrasting green herbs underneath. The wine is dry, with fresh acidity and modest tannins. The fruit is pleasant and lively, but a slightly confected cough-candy and red nibs character is a little more obvious on the palate. The combination of higher acidity, lower tannins and lively fruit make this a very quaffable wine. Very good value.
Tasted Oct 28, 2016 • BARRIQUE WINES & SPIRITS IMPORTS (Agent)Find it at your nearest LCBOShare Review



Vintages #981175 • $15.95 • 750ml. • WD Score 88/100
This Beaujolais Villages is rather deep purple, with violet showing on the rim. Bright, ripe blueberry and blackberry fruit aromas are accompanied by a floral note. The wine is dry, with lively acidity, a medium body and fine but quite astringent tannins. The fruit is tart and fresh on the palate, and the finish is pleasant and crisp. Very good value.
Tasted Oct 28, 2016 • M.C.O. (Agent)Find it at your nearest LCBOShare Review


CHÂTEAU ROC DE LEVRAUT 2014, AC Bordeaux Supérieur

Vintages #468280 • $13.95 • 750ml. • WD Score 88/100
The wine is deep ruby-red, with a very narrow rim showing some garnet. Attractive blackberry, black currant and black cherry fruit fill the nose, with notes of tobacco leaf, earth and dark chocolate. Dry, with firm acidity, balanced alcohol and a medium body, the tannins are elevated but fine-textured. The fruit and savoury elements are dense but attractive — all-in-all, an amazing value for an attractive regional Bordeaux.
Tasted Oct 21, 2016 • MAJESTIC WINE CELLARS (Agent)Find it at your nearest LCBOShare Review



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