Seven red wines — Syrah, Grenache, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon

"... three wines from southern France, Merlots from Stellenbosch and Niagara, and Cabernet Sauvignons from Australia ..."

available in Ontario from January 21, 2017

My second set of red wines from the January 21, 2017 Vintages release includes three wines from southern France, Merlots from Stellenbosch and Niagara, and two Cabernet Sauvignons from Australia.

The lineup is headed by a terrific Saint-Joseph Syrah from the “Sélection” négociant label of the iconic J. L. Chave, his 2013 J. L. Chave Sélection Offerus Saint-Joseph AC. Continuing southward, we have a Grenache blend, the 2014 Lavau Vacqueyras AC, and then south and west from there a value-priced Carignan blend from Corbières, the 2013 Château Des Aladères Sélection Vieilles Vignes AP Corbières.

The first of two Merlots is from the fine South African producer Rustenberg, their 2014 Rustenberg Merlot WO Simonsberg-Stellenbosch. The second is what I believe to be the last estate Merlot from Rosewood Estate in Niagara, before their Merlot vines were pulled due to winter kill, their 2013 Rosewood Select Series Merlot.

The final two wines are a Cabernet Sauvignon blend from Margaret River in Western Australia, the 2013 Forester Cabernet/Merlot Margaret River, and an intriguing lighter-weight Cabernet from Coonawarra, the 2013 Mojo Cabernet Sauvignon Coonawarra, South Australia.



Vintages #359109 • $36.95 • 750ml. • WD Score 91/100
This is a terrific Syrah from the négociant "Sélection" line of the iconic J.L Chave. The wine is rather deep ruby-red. The nose shows blackberry, black cherry and plum fruit, with light floral and earthy notes. Firm acidity balances moderate alcohol and chalky tannins. The fruit is rich and ripe on the palate, with undertones of dry earth and smoked meat. Textbook Saint-Joseph!
Tasted 1/6/2017 • HALPERN ENTERPRISES (Agent)Find it at your nearest LCBOShare Review



Vintages #104927 • $25.95 • 750ml. • WD Score 88.5/100
This is a Grenache blend that has 40% Syrah and 10% Mourvèdre. It is deep purple, with aromas of ripe blueberry, blackberry and plum, and hints of pine and garrigue. Firm acidity and lightly chewy tannins balance the elevated alcohol that shows a little heat. The fruit is very ripe (but not over-ripe), and nicely juicy on the palate, with nuances of cedar and menthol on the finish. An approachable southern Rhône that drinks very well now, but can certainly bear some cellar time.
Tasted 1/10/2017 • CONNEXION OENOPHILIA (Agent)Find it at your nearest LCBOShare Review



Vintages #431726 • $14.95 • 750ml. • WD Score 88/100
The wine is deep purple. Smoky, roasted coffee and earthy notes surround a core of blueberry, blackberry and black currant aromas. Lively acidity and firm, chewy tannins define the palate, where the juicy fruit dominates, but gentle herbal and menthol notes emerge with the earthy and smoky undertones to complement the fruit on the finish. An excellent value!
Tasted 1/10/2017 • TASTEVIN SELECTIONS (Agent) • Find it at your nearest LCBOShare Review


RUSTENBERG MERLOT 2014, WO Simonsberg-Stellenbosch

Vintages #404194 • $19.95 • 750ml. • WD Score 89/100
The wine is rather deep ruby-red, and features aromas of ripe cherry, blackberry and plum fruit, with a light floral lift, a whiff of coffee bean, and an earthy, dry-leaf undertone. Firm acidity balances slightly elevated alcohol, with grainy tannins — overall quite well balanced and full-bodied — with rich juicy fruit that carries into the finish. Crowd-pleasing in the nicest sense, and an excellent value from a very good South African producer.
Tasted 1/17/2017 • WOODMAN WINES & SPIRITS (Agent)Find it at your nearest LCBOShare Review



Vintages #211896 • $19.95 • 750ml. • WD Score 88/100
This wine was originally released at Vintages in March 2015, and now we get to see it with another 22 months of bottle age. It is translucent ruby-red, showing garnet highlights and garnet on the rim. Bright cherry, raspberry and plum aromas are supplemented by vanilla, spice and cedar. The wine is dry, with brisk acidity, moderate alcohol and fine tannins. The fruit is still lively and juicy on the palate, with notes of vanilla and spice on the finish. Exuberant, lively and an excellent price. Sadly, I believe that this is the last Merlot from the Rosewood Estate vineyards, since they had to pull their Merlot vines which suffered terribly from the frigid winter in 2014.
Tasted 1/17/2017 • ROSEWOOD ESTATES WINERY (Agent) • Find it at your nearest LCBOShare Review


FORESTER CABERNET-MERLOT 2013, Margaret River, Western Australia

Vintages #480152 • $27.95 • 750ml. • WD Score 89/100
This Cabernet Sauvignon blend has slightly more Cabernet than Merlot, with small amounts of Petit Verdot and Malbec. It is deep, dark, ruby-red in colour, with a warmer red on the narrow rim. On the nose, a core of ripe plum, blackberry and black currant fruit is surrounded by notes of cedar and twigs, with an earthy underpinning. Brisk acidity enlivens the medium-full body, with fine, ripening tannins that linger and build. A hint of menthol lifts the ripe fruit on the palate, now enhanced by blueberry notes, with integrating cedar and oak-derived spice.
Tasted 1/6/2017 • LOYAL IMPORTS (Agent) • Find it at your nearest LCBOShare Review


MOJO CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2013, Coonawarra, South Australia

Vintages #383539 • $17.95 • 750ml. • WD Score 88/100
This 100% Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon pours deep ruby-red, with a narrow red rim. Ripe and juicy raspberry, blackberry and black currant aromas are complemented by notes of violets, mint and green cedar. The wine is fully dry, with fresh acidity, moderate alcohol and fine tannins. The fruit on the palate is juicy and fresh, pine and cedar notes appear, and oak treatment is modest and integrated with subtle vanilla and chocolate underneath. The lively fruit lingers on the slightly chalky finish. A lighter-bodied Cabernet that will give lots of enjoyment over the short to medium term.
Tasted 1/17/2017 • STEM WINE GROUP (Agent)Find it at your nearest LCBOShare Review


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