available after December 10, 2016 in Ontario
With their December release, Vintages brings out the big guns for the holiday season — often big wines, with prestige names and of course high to astronomical prices. But there are still lots of good and affordable wines available, and that is the segment of the release that I’ve decided to focus on here. I’ve chosen eleven red wines: five at $20 or less, four between $20 and $25, one at $30, and one at $46.
The list begins with three Pinot Noirs, the first two from New Zealand: the premium 2014 Cloudy Bay Pinot Noir and the very good and value-priced 2014 Momo Pinot Noir. The third wine is an interesting Pinot from France, but, unusually, from Provence rather than Burgundy, the 2013 Louis Latour Domaine De Valmoissine Pinot Noir. These are followed by two good Beaujolais, the 2014 Lucien Lardy Côte Du Py Morgon and the 2014 Jean-Michel Dupré Vignes De 1940 Beaujolais-Villages.
Three wines from Italy include a very nice introduction to Nebbiolo from northern Piedmont, the 2010 Travaglini Gattinara. My two Sangiovese-based recommendations are the 2013 Ricasoli Brolio Chianti Classico and the 2012 Castellani Filicheto Vino Nobile Di Montepulciano.
Finally, I present three new world wines based on grapes with a Bordeaux heritage. The first offering is another very good wine from Henry of Pelham, their 2012 Henry Of Pelham Estate Cabernet/Merlot. The final two wines are from Argentina and Chile respectively, the 2012 Estancia Los Cardones Tigerstone Malbec and the 2014 Montes Limited Selection Carmenère.
CLOUDY BAY PINOT NOIR 2014, Marlborough, South Island
Vintages #598813 • $45.95 • 750ml. • WD Score 90/100This is a rather deeply coloured, ruby-red Pinot. Bright cherry and blackberry fruit aromas take on a sense of depth, with dry earth and leaves underneath, and some light resin and vanilla notes around the edges. High acidity and fine, light tannins define the palate, where the fruit is quite ripe, yet still exuberant and fresh. It's very new world in impact, yet still has a sense of control and restraint that I appreciate. Certainly pricy, but a very good wine.
Tasted Nov 18, 2016 • CHARTON HOBBS INC (Agent) • Find it at your nearest LCBO • Share Recommendation
MOMO PINOT NOIR 2014, Marlborough, South Island
Vintages #163972 • $19.95 • 750ml. • WD Score 89/100Momo is the second label from the excellent Seresin Estate in Marlborough. The wine is medium ruby-red, showing some garnet on the rim. The nose focuses on lively blackberry and cherry fruit, with a slight earthy and twiggy undertone. The wine is dry, with fresh acidity and very fine tannins, the fruit is pleasantly tart on the palate, and the juicy, acidic finish picks up a stony mineral note. Some good Pinot character here, and a fine value.
Tasted Nov 18, 2016 • DIONYSUS WINES & SPIRITS LTD. (Agent) • Find it at your nearest LCBO • Share Recommendation
LOUIS LATOUR DOMAINE DE VALMOISSINE PINOT NOIR 2013, IGP Var
Vintages #714451 • $19.95 • 750ml. • WD Score 88/100This is a fairly unusual offering from Louis Latour: Pinot Noir from IGP Var, in Provence. Translucent ruby-red at the core, the wine shows some garnet on the rim. Bright cherry, raspberry and cranberry fruit aromas are complemented by darker berry fruit on the palate, with herbal and earthy notes underneath. The wine is dry, with fresh acidity and fine, persistent tannins. Lots of Pinot character here, and a very nice value.
Tasted Nov 25, 2016 • MARK ANTHONY BRANDS (Agent) • Find it at your nearest LCBO • Share Recommendation
LUCIEN LARDY CÔTE DU PY MORGON AC 2014
Vintages #468694 • $24.95 • 750ml. • WD Score 89/100This is an attractive and fresh Cru Beaujolais from perhaps the most famous of the six vineyards in Morgon, the Côte du Py. The wine is medium ruby-red, with pretty blackberry and black cherry fruit aromas. It is dry, with brisk acidity and fine, chalky tannins. The wine is full of verve, with the lively fruit carried by the acidity and tannins into a persistent finish that takes on a stony minerality. I applaud the neutral oak, that gives the palate some breadth without significant flavour. Lovely now, it will age for at least another five years, and perhaps more.
Tasted Nov 25, 2016 • HOBBS & CO. (Agent) • Find it at your nearest LCBO • Share Recommendation
JEAN-MICHEL DUPRÉ VIGNES DE 1940 BEAUJOLAIS-VILLAGES AC 2014
Vintages #468710 • $16.95 • 750ml. • WD Score 88/100The wine is bright ruby-red. Peppery and herbal notes complement the pretty blackberry and cherry fruit aromas. The wine is dry, with fresh acidity and fine tannins, and the fruit replays on the palate. Right on target for what it is, a very approachable and quaffable village-level Beaujolais.
Tasted Nov 25, 2016 • HEXAGON WINES (Agent) • Find it at your nearest LCBO • Share Recommendation
TRAVAGLINI GATTINARA DOCG 2010
Vintages #713354 • $29.95 • 750ml. • WD Score 90/100This Nebbiolo from Gattinara in northern Piedmont reflects the cooler climate of the region. The wine is medium ruby-garnet in colour. Raspberry, blackberry and red cherry fruit aromas fill the nose, with a pretty floral lift, and just the beginnings of a leathery evolution. The wine is dry, with bright acidity, and firm, grainy and lingering tannins. The fruit is fresh and juicy on the palate, with earthy and mineral undertones that focus with the tannins on the lengthy finish. The oak treatment — Slovenian casks of various sizes — has added depth to the palate, but is not a taste factor. I really enjoy this expression of Nebbiolo — a very nice introduction to the wines of northern Piedmont.
Tasted Nov 25, 2016 • S. SCHIRALLI AGENCIES LTD., (Agent) • Find it at your nearest LCBO • Share Recommendation
RICASOLI BROLIO CHIANTI CLASSICO DOCG 2013
Vintages #3962 • $22.95 • 750ml. • WD Score 89/100This is an attractive and attractively priced Chianti Classico: Sangiovese, with 15% Merlot and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon. The wine is rather deep ruby-red, just hinting at garnet on the rim. Rich blackberry, black currant and black cherry fruit aromas are complemented by spice, vanilla and dark chocolate. The wine is dry, with brisk acidity and fine tannins that build on the mid-palate, underpinning the fresh and ripe fruit, and lingering on the finish. Lots of structure, fruit and energy — a great value.
Tasted Nov 25, 2016 • CHURCHILL CELLARS LTD. (Agent) • Find it at your nearest LCBO • Share Recommendation
CASTELLANI FILICHETO VINO NOBILE DI MONTEPULCIANO DOCG 2012
Vintages #184937 • $18.95 • 750ml. • WD Score 88/100This is an interesting introduction to Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, 90% the required Prugnolo Gentille clone of Sangiovese, and 10% Canaiolo. The wine is deep ruby-red, with dense cedary, blackberry and black cherry fruit, with hints of violets and dry herbs, and the beginnings of tobacco and leather notes. Dry, with firm acidity and fine, persistent tannins, the fruit is dense on the palate, quite ripe, with some black currant and spicy plum notes chiming in. All-in-all, a very good value.
Tasted Nov 25, 2016 • RUBAIYAT WINE AND SPIRIT MERCH. (Agent) • Find it at your nearest LCBO • Share Recommendation
HENRY OF PELHAM ESTATE CABERNET-MERLOT 2012, VQA Short Hills Bench, Niagara Peninsula
Vintages #395855 • $24.95 • 750ml. • WD Score 89/100This is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot from estate vineyards on the Short Hills Bench. It is deep, dense ruby-purple, but starting to show red on a very narrow rim. Minty blackberry, black currant and plum fruit are underlaid by notes of dry earth, resin and vanilla. Dry with a medium-full body, the firm acidity keeps the robust fruit full of freshness on the palate, and the fruit, earthy tones and tannins meld on the lengthy finish. Very drinkable now, but another year will help the oak integrate further — and this will thrive much longer than that in the cellar.
Tasted Nov 25, 2016 • HENRY OF PELHAM FAMILY EST. WINERY (Agent) • Find it at your nearest LCBO • Share Recommendation
ESTANCIA LOS CARDONES TIGERSTONE MALBEC 2012, Salta
Vintages #468041 • $24.95 • 750ml. • WD Score 88/100The wine is deep purple. Bright blueberry and blackberry fruit is fully ripe without being over-ripe. The wine is dry, with some underlying sweetness balanced by firm acidity. Tannins are fine-grained but persistent, and menthol notes build on the mid-palate over very ripe fruit. The fruit and tannins linger on the finish. A bigger wine, but not overdone, maintaining some elegance.
Tasted Nov 18, 2016 • NOBLE ESTATES WINES & SPIRITS INC. (Agent) • Find it at your nearest LCBO • Share Recommendation
MONTES LIMITED SELECTION CARMENÈRE 2014, Colchagua Valley
Vintages #256685 • $14.95 • 750ml. • WD Score 87.5/100The wine is deep red, with a hint of purple on the rim. Bright floral notes combine with blueberry, blackberry and plum fruit, over notes of cedary resin, roasted coffee, dry earth and twigs. It is dry, with elevated alcohol and gritty tannins that coat the mouth and persist into the finish. A very good value, and widely appealing.
Tasted Nov 18, 2016 • VIN VINO WINE MERCHANTS INC. (Agent) • Find it at your nearest LCBO • Share Recommendation