Eight reds from the April 1 Vintages release

"... this selection of eight red wines from the early April Vintages release highlights just a few of my favourites ..."

This selection of eight red wines from the early April Vintages release highlights just a few of my favourites. The list begins with two excellent wines from Catena’s high altitude vineyards in Mendoza, their Agrelo Cabernet Sauvignon and their Paraje Altamira Malbec.

Niagara is represented by two very different wines, the 2012 Stratus Red, a Cabernet Sauvignon-based blend, and a new label from Thirty Bench, their 2015 Gamay-Pinot Noir blend called Double Noir. There is an interesting contrast in style and goal here!

The four remaining wines include two French wines: a Syrah blend from Michel Chapoutier and a Morgon from Domaine Ferraud, along with the Heartland Cabernet Sauvignon from Langhorn Creek in Australia, and a Central Otago Pinot Noir from Invivo.



Vintages #484303 • $22.95 • 750ml. • WD Score 90/100
This Cabernet Sauvignon is sourced from Catena's high altitude (950 metre) Agrelo Vineyard in the Uco Valley. It is somewhat deep but bright ruby-red, with blackberry, black currant and plum aromas, backed by a light menthol note, forest floor and hints of cedary resin. Well structured, with firm acidity, balanced alcohol and fine, slightly chalky tannins, that linger on the fruit-and-savoury finish. Nicely nuanced new-world Cabernet with an old-world sensibility — and a fine value to boot.
Tasted 3/30/2017 • TRIALTO WINE GROUP LTD. (Agent)Find it at your nearest LCBOShare Review



Vintages #492413 • $22.95 • 750ml. • WD Score 90/100
This Malbec is from Catena's Altamira Vineyard in Mendoza. The wine is deep, dense purple in colour. The nose is complex and appealing: it leads with a note of resin and spice,followed by black cherry, blueberry, blackberry and black currant fruit, with a hint of violets, and vanilla-chocolate underneath. Bright acidity and fine tannins define the palate, where a note of pepper and an edge of varietal green and menthol add to the luscious potpourri. Tannins linger with the ripe fruit on the finish. The wine sees 12 months in oak, mostly French with 15% American, and 35% of which is new. Lively, with lots of freshness. Another excellent value from Catena.
Tasted 3/30/2017 • TRIALTO WINE GROUP LTD. (Agent)Find it at your nearest LCBOShare Review


STRATUS RED 2012, VQA Niagara-on-the-Lake

Vintages #131037 • $44.20 • 750ml. • WD Score 91/100
There is no debating the excellence here in Stratus' premium blend from the warm 2012 vintage. In the glass you'll find a rich, ripe and tannic wine made from traditional Bordeaux varieties (including smaller amounts of Petit Verdot, Malbec and Tannat, in addition to the usual suspects). It is deep purple-red in hue, now showing mostly red on a very narrow rim. Core aromas of ripe to over-ripe plums, blackberries and black currants are met with a slight lift of volatility, backed by contrasting notes of sous bois and damp earth. Grippy, chewy tannins still dominate the palate, with elevated alcohol that imparts some heat, and firm acidity that contrasts with the fully ripe fruit that has just a hint of dried-fruit character. Rich, lush, dense and tannic, and very appealing to those who like high levels of ripeness and powerful structure. But the wine is also atypical for cool-climate Niagara, even in a warm vintage, although very much the house style. It's not just because of high levels of extraction during fermentation, and the significant use of oak, but also (even in this warm vintage) some apparent drying of fruit on the vine, that further heightens the concentration and impacts the character of the fruit.
Tasted 17-March 2017 • STRATUS VINEYARDS (Agent)Find it at your nearest LCBOShare Review



Vintages #493973 • $18.95 • 750ml. • WD Score 89/100
This is a second wine in Thirty Bench's new Winemaker's Blend series, that brings in fruit from outside the estate —in this case 100% from Niagara-on-the-Lake. As the name suggests, it is a blend of Gamay Noir (60%) and Pinot Noir (40%) — essentially an old-school Passetoutgrain with a useful and cool new name — that works very well in Niagara. The wine was aged for 10 months in French oak. It is medium ruby-red in colour. Pretty cherry, raspberry and blackberry aromas replay on the palate, where the lively acidity and fine but persistent tannins tighten and centre the fruit nicely, leaving a savoury undertone, and leading to a crisp, lingering finish. Firm and elegant.
Tasted 17-March 2017 • ANDREW PELLER LIMITED (Agent)Find it at your nearest LCBOShare Review


M. CHAPOUTIER BILA-HAUT OCCULTUM LAPIDEM 2014, AC Côtes du Roussillon-Villages Latour de France

Vintages #643239 • $25.95 • 750ml. • WD Score 89/100
This blend of Syrah, Grenache and Carrignan is from Michel Chapoutier's Bila-Haut property in the Côtes du Roussillon. The wine is rather deep red in colour, with ripe and slightly baked cherry and plum fruit, supplemented by notes of violets and dusty garrigue. The slightly elevated alcohol gives the palate a hint of warmth, balanced by robust acidity and complemented by fine tannins that persist into the pleasant finish. This is a crowd-pleasing full-bodied wine, with modest wood influence and plenty of warm, juicy fruit.
Tasted 3/30/2017 • PHILIPPE DANDURAND WINES LTD. (Agent)Find it at your nearest LCBOShare Review



Vintages #268052 • $17.95 • 750ml. • WD Score 88/100
This Morgon is rather deep purple in colour, with a lightly floral nose that suggests blackberries and black cherries. Bright acidity balances fine, chalky tannins. The palate is more intense and extracted than the nose suggests, with dusty raspberry, blackberry and cherry fruit, and a slightly earthy undertone. For me, this seems more like a village level quality rather than a cru Beaujolais, but at this price it is unfair to quibble.
Tasted 17-March 2017 • TRILOGY WINE MERCHANTS (Agent) • Find it at your nearest LCBOShare Review


HEARTLAND CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2013, Langhorne Creek, South Australia

Vintages #58099 • $19.95 • 750ml. • WD Score 88.5/100
This is a big, robust Cabernet, with no pretentions towards cooler climate elegance. The wine is deep ruby- red, and densely opaque. Very ripe blueberry, blackberry, black currant and plum fruit are complemented by notes of licorice, spice and cedary resin. Alcohol is a little warm (though constrained), tannins are fine but persistent, and the rich, ripe fruit takes on a slightly cooked component, although it remains appealing and juicy. A great value for fans of lush, ripe Aussie reds.
Tasted 3/30/2017 • FREE HOUSE ONTARIO WINE & SPIRITS (Agent)Find it at your nearest LCBOShare Review


INVIVO CENTRAL OTAGO PINOT NOIR 2014, Central Otago, South Island

Vintages #466029 • $24.95 • 750ml. • WD Score 88/100
This is a good-value Pinot Noir from Central Otago. The wine is deep ruby-red, with notes of ripe fruit: red cherries, blackberries and plums, with a sprinkling of oak-derived spice and cedar. While the alcohol shows some warmth, and the fruit is a little too ripe and extracted for elegance, this is a very pleasing, juicy wine that will find wide appeal.
Tasted 17-March 2017 • NICHOLAS PEARCE WINES INC (Agent)Find it at your nearest LCBOShare Review


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