If I only had $100, I would buy . . .
LCBO Vintages Release as of Saturday, October 1, 2011
Taste a world traveller in the October 1 LCBO Vintages release, which offers a range of different styles of Syrah/Shiraz from around the world. Why the two different spellings?Cooler climates such as the Northern Rhône, the original home of Syrah, produce ageworthy wines known to be dry and structured, characterized by bright fruit flavours, black pepper and mint. In climates where the warmth allows the grapes to fully ripen, such as South Australia, winemakers will often label their wines as Shiraz to distinguish their wines as bigger, more full bodied, ripely fruity, spicy and more softly structured. Of course, there are wines of every style in between and from newer regions, such as Chile and Argentina where the climate facilitates the creation of a wine with fairly soft texture and ripe sweet fruit underpinned with the classic Rhône structure. And Syrah is also found in a range of blends, including the wines of the southern Rhône, where it typically is blended with varietals such as Grenache, Mourvèdre, Cinsault and Carignan.
There’s also a good example of an Australian blend in this release, Hickinbotham’s Shiraz/Cabernet Sauvignon. Consider tasting a range of these wines, from Guigal’s classic Crozes-Hermitage, to the powerful full-bodied eminently ageable Barossa Valley Estate Ebenezer Shiraz, to the Syrah from Chile or Sicily. The substantial secondary feature is perfect for those who want to start a cellar. The quality of the fruit, levels of acidity and tannic structure are critical factors affecting the ageability of wines. With certain varietals and blends, classic examples being Burgundian and Bordeaux wines, methods of oak aging are also of significance. Perhaps you selected one or two Bordeaux wines from the Septembere 17 release to start your cellar. With this release, you can consider two Canadian whites—Le Clos Jordanne’s Talon Ridge Chardonnay, or Vineland’s St. Urban Riesling—a Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa or South Australia, a Burgundy from Domaine Bouchard Père et Fils, a Brunello or Barolo from Italy, and a Vintage Port, among others. You won’t go wrong with any of these and can create a small selection to choose from and to build on in the future.
Finally, Thanksgiving is just around the corner, and there are some wines in this release that are a perfect match for that festive meal. For an all-Canadian line-up, consider the Cranberry Wine from Stoney Ridge to whet your appetite or with the meal, a choice of Tawse Sketches of Niagara Chardonnay or Wayne Gretzky’s Pinot Noir for the main course, and finish up with the Pomme de Glace Ice Cider with your apple pie and ice cream!
Vineland ‘St. Urban’ Riesling 2009
VQA Niagara Escarpment, Ontario
$19.95 (Vintages #38117) 8.4% alcohol
While almost transparent, this wine is very fragrant—pear, sweet citrus and a fine mineral quality drift from the glass. Definitively off-dry, there’s a faint hint of spritz, lovely lemon-lime flavours, traces of stone fruit and mineral, balanced by a clean stream of fine acidity. Beautifully crafted and tasty, you just want more . . . so buy a few bottles, as this will cellar medium-long term.
Babich ‘Black Label’ Sauvignon Blanc 2010
Marlborough, New Zealand
$17.95 (Vintages #9142) 14.0% alcohol
Big and substantial are not the usual terms for a Sauvignon Blanc, but they’re just right in the case of this fragrant wine. Inhale the aromas and savour the rich flavours of ripe tropical fruit—imagine lime-splashed papaya—gooseberry, nettle and a hint of fresh ginger. Beautifully balanced, dry, full on the palate, this is a gorgeous wine with some zip on the fruit-filled finish.
Luigi Bosca ‘Single Vineyard’ Malbec 2008
Luján de Cuyo, Argentina
$21.95 (Vintages #74922) 14.4% alcohol
The impressive pedigree—fruit from a 70-year-old vineyard, 14 months oak aging—from a highly reputable producer portends the quality and depth of this wine. Notably complex and lush aromas of berry, plum, cocoa, toasty oak and dried herbs lead the way to a full dry velvety palate that’s equally complex. Subtly framed by ripe tannins and fine acidity, rich fruit flavours and notes of cocoa persist on the lasting supple finish. Drinking well now, the wine will cellar 5-7 years.
Pérez-Cruz ‘Limited Edition’ Syrah 2009
Maipo Alto, Chile
$19.95 (Vintages #588812) 14.0% alcohol
Produced from hand-picked grapes wrested from stony soils, this is a dry, medium bodied wine with layered aromas and flavours. Earthy herbal notes, a hint of balsamic, a whiff of spiced rose and the tang of ripe raspberries mingle with focused dark berry fruit,The texture is appealingly fresh, the tannins somewhat chalky, the overall experience intriguing and consistently flavourful through the lasting finish. A match for lamb or beef.
Feudo Principi di Butera Syrah 2008
IGT Sicilia, Italy
$16.95 (Vintages #247510) 13.0% alcohol
Appealing aromas of rich ripe dark fruit, sweet spice and smoky toast waft from the glass. Dry, medium-full bodied, the core of intense berry fruit wraps around a firm structure, the notes of spice and pepper lasting through a balanced savoury finish. Approachable and very flavourful, this is a wine to enjoy with robust meat dishes.
Grand Total: $96.75
Tuck this Barolo away in the cellar – a great value!
Marchesi di Barolo Barolo 2005
DOCG Barolo, Italy
$34.95 (Vintages #168179) 14.0% alcohol
A very attractive, elegant designed-to-age wine that offers subtle alluring floral notes and aromas of earth, red fruit, toast and vanilla. Dry, medium bodied and tight-knit, the tannins are notable, the flavours of wild strawberry, pepper and spice box balanced by fine acidity. Delivering a long intense finish, this wine is a great value. Created for long-term cellaring, hold it for a few more years, or serve decanted accompanied by veal chops with porcini mushrooms.
More about my blog post: If I only had $100, I would buy…
There is a myriad of wines out there, so it’s often a challenge deciding what to select when the LCBO Vintages catalogue comes out every two weeks or so. Like a kid in a candy shop, your attention darts from one treat to another, but what to choose . . . Something to serve to your guests this weekend? Something to put away for a special occasion? Something to store for a autumn afternoon?
I recognize that each person’s tastes and preferences are unique. “If I had $100 . . .”, will be posted just prior to LCBO Vintages releases and will highlight unique wines I have tasted that provide good value; the selection will total no more than $100.
Occasionally, I may include an optional wine – you can substitute or add it for a little more or a little less! Print this off as your shopping list knowing that these wines have been selected by a Savvy Sommelier who has sipped, savoured & swirled countless wines before they arrived on the shelves in Vintages. Hopefully you too will find a new favorite wine. And when you do, quickly save your pennies to buy a bottle or two more. Warning that once a wine is gone from a particular Vintages release, that vintage, and sometimes that wine, is gone for good!