available in Ontario from December 9, 2017
These red wines are from the last Vintages release for 2017. It’s a varied selection, from many corners of the developed wine world, led by two excellent premium priced wines, and followed by six very good values: three less than $20 and three more between $20 and $25.
The first wine is an exceptionally fine aged Rioja, the 1994 Faustino I Gran Reserva. This wine won’t be for everyone, both because of price and because of its evolved, mature nature. But if you are curious about how fine reds can age, this is a worthy example. The second is the 2013 Castello di Ama San Lorenzo Gran Selezione Chianti Classico, an excellent example of the genre that manages to combine the extended wood and bottle aging demanded of the category, without obscuring the elegance and finesse of Chianti Classico itself.
For lovers of Bordeaux blends, I have recommended wines from Niagara and Australia: the 2015 Thirty Bench Winemaker’s Blend Red, VQA Beamsville Bench, and the 2014 Tahbilk Cabernet Sauvignon Nagambie Lakes, Victoria.
The next two wines are a bright and cheerful Beaujolais, the 2014 Vaucher Père & Fils from Fleurie, and a pretty, fruit-filled Portuguese wine, the 2014 DAC Tinto from Dão.
The final two wines are the 2014 A To Z Wineworks Pinot Noir, that provides a very good expression of Oregon Pinot Noir at a very reasonable price, and another wine from Portugal, the more generous and riper-fruited 2014 Joao M. Barbosa Lapa dos Gaivoes from Alentejo.
FAUSTINO I GRAN RESERVA 1994, DOCa Rioja
Vintages #929489 • $68.95 • 750ml. • WD Score 92/100While this wine is 23 years old, and is certainly showing its age, it still has an essential life at its core. It is medium-depth garnet in the glass, and the nose is a complex of savoury elements: hints at dried resin, celery salt, damp earth, black olives and leather — the list could extend as you explore — with a little dried cherry essence that reminds you of the glorious fruit that once was. And yet, despite all those evolving elements that largely translate to the palate, there is still a lightness and life-affirming acidity — a savoury freshness if you will — that fights through some earthy and bretty elements and builds towards the lingering balsamic, salty and stony finish. This is a compelling wine for me, but it is rather pricey, and should only be purchased by those who want to explore an evolved, mature wine. If you decide to take the plunge, I think that it will reward your efforts.
Tasted Nov 23, 2017 • SELECT WINE MERCHANTS INC. (Agent) • Find it at your nearest LCBO • Share Review
CASTELLO DI AMA SAN LORENZO GRAN SELEZIONE CHIANTI CLASSICO DOCG 2013
Vintages #418897 • $50.95 • 750ml. • WD Score 91/100This is one of the most compelling Gran Selezione Chianti Classicos that I've tasted recently, confirming my preference for the cooler (later harvested) "classic" vintages such as 2013. First, this is mid-depth red in colour, not the extracted deep purple or red of many wines in this genre. And while there is lots of oak, and it needs further time to integrate, it by no means overwhelms the bright, vibrant cherry and berry fruit, or the underlying savoury black olive and herbal essence. Acids are brisk, tannins are still a little aggressive and mouth-coating, but give this wine another two years in bottle and it will begin to sing. I'm looking forward to that!
Tasted Nov 23, 2017 • HALPERN ENTERPRISES (Agent) • Find it at your nearest LCBO • Share Review
THIRTY BENCH WINEMAKER'S BLEND RED 2015, VQA Beamsville Bench, Niagara Escarpment
Vintages #320986 • $24.20 • 750ml. • WD Score 90/100Winemaker's Blend, with its dark label, is part of Thirty Bench's brand extension beyond its Small Lot estate wines, that will continue to feature the winery's traditional white label. This deep, dense purple-hued wine is a blend of Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. The wine is full-bodied, with bright acidity and fine, lightly grippy tannins. I enjoyed the ripe, juicy, blackberry, black cherry and black currant fruit, with its lightly twiggy undertone, all resting within an obvious but not overbearing oak and coffee-tinged frame. Depth and interest in a very attractive package.
Tasted Nov 23, 2017 • ANDREW PELLER LIMITED (Agent) • Find it at your nearest LCBO • Share Review
TAHBILK CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2014, Nagambie Lakes, Victoria
Vintages #138818 • $22.95 • 750ml. • WD Score 89/100This is a rather elegant, fruit-filled Cabernet Sauvignon. Acidity and tannins are firm, the core of blackberry and black currant fruit is accompanied by some raspberry and red plum notes too, all nicely ripe, but with a light freshness that is complemented by hints of menthol and green herbs. Oak is modest and has little taste impact beyond an undertone of cedary resin. Very attractive now, with acidity and tannins that will support some extended time in the cellar. A good value indeed.
Tasted Nov 23, 2017 • GRAPE EXPECTATIONS WINE AGENCY (Agent) • Find it at your nearest LCBO • Share Review
VAUCHER PÈRE & FILS FLEURIE AC 2014
Vintages #534339 • $16.95 • 750ml. • WD Score 89/100This bright, cheerful Fleurie is medium depth ruby-red in colour. Subtle earthy tones introduce notes of ripe cherries, blackberries and blueberries, with a whiff of pepper and violets. The wine is dry, with firm, slightly chalky tannins and crisp acidity that keeps the ripe fruit fresh and lively on the palate, and then focuses into a stony, tart and pleasantly astringent finish. A fine value.
Tasted Nov 23, 2017 • VINOLUNA (Agent) • Find it at your nearest LCBO • Share Review
DAC TINTO 2014, DO Dão
Vintages #523589 • $16.95 • 750ml. • WD Score 89/100What a delightful wine and a great value too! It starts with the vibrant notes of violets and cherry blossoms, then raspberry, red cherry and blueberry fruit. The wine is lighter-bodied, with fine tannins and bright acidity, that lets the fresh fruit dance on the palate. Charming, quaffable, the perfect wine to sip while chatting, or to pair with lighter party fare, pizza or charcuterie. Quite delicious, and a perfect house red for the holiday season.
Tasted Nov 23, 2017 • TERRA FIRMA WINES (Agent) • Find it at your nearest LCBO • Share Review
A TO Z WINEWORKS PINOT NOIR 2014, Oregon
Vintages #229781 • $24.95 • 750ml. • WD Score 89/100Garnet-coloured in the glass, the nose presents attractive, ripe strawberry, cherry and blackberry fruit. Fresh acidity and firm tannins frame the bright fruit on the palate, as the sweet, ripe fruit expression is balanced by an earthy undertone that bestows some Pinot Noir authenticity. This nicely represents its Oregon roots, straddling the line between the old and new world.
Tasted Nov 23, 2017 • NICHOLAS PEARCE WINES INC (Agent) • Find it at your nearest LCBO • Share Review
JOAO M. BARBOSA LAPA DOS GAIVOES 2014, Vinho Regional Alentejano
Vintages #523605 • $18.95 • 750ml. • WD Score 88/100This is an attractive, accessible wine, with its ripe blackberry and plum fruit aromas, and simple oak spice and chocolate notes in the background. The fruit is very ripe on the palate, with fine, dense tannins and enough acidity to provide balance. Some dried earth notes combine with a cedary undertone on the finish. A crowd-pleasing, modern wine that should pair nicely with heavier winter fare.
Tasted Nov 23, 2017 • 30 50 IMPORTS (Agent) • Find it at your nearest LCBO • Share Review