If I only had $100, I would buy these wines at Vintages

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If I only had $100, I would buy . . .

LCBO Vintages Release as of Saturday, October 29, 2011

California’s famed Sonoma region, the cradle of wine production in northern California, is at the forefront of the October 29 LCBO Vintages release, offering the opportunity to sample wines from a variety of sub-appellations (AVAs, or American Viticultural Areas) characterized by their own unique terroir. Some of the better-known AVAs include Dry Creek Valley, Alexander Valley and Russian River Valley. There are also more commodious AVAs, such as Sonoma Cast and Northern Sonoma, that allow wineries to create unique wine styles by blending grapes grown in quite different climatic zones. Russian River is one of the coolest AVAs, and is known for its well-made Pinot Noir. Dry Creek tends to be cool in the valley, and warmer on the hillsides, where Zinfandel shines. The Alexander Valley is warmer still, sheltered from the cool Pacific breezes, and reliably ripens rich, distinctive Cabernets. The Sonoma Valley is warmer to the north, so that vineyards in the lee of Sonoma Mountain produce some very attractive Chardonnay. The town of Sonoma itself, for those who may visit, is quite historic, with old missions buildings and barracks, while the surrounding hills host some of the more famous wine estates established in the 19th century. Among the Sonoma wines on offer, Paul Hobbs’ Crossbarn Chardonnay is finely crafted and balanced, while the Benzinger Family Cab Sauv is deep and rich.

For something a little lighter, try the Et Cetera Sauvignon Blanc. With the holiday season fast approaching, the party feature offers a range of wines at a variety of price points. For a well-priced, flavourful well-crafted red, try the Sabor Real Tempranillo ‘Viñas Centenarias’.

If you’re feeling adventurous, try the intriguing Lento Lamezia Riserva, a blend of three indigenous grapes of Calabria. A favorite Ontario white is Tawse ‘Sketches of Niagara’ Riesling, while 13th Street has a delightful blend called ‘Red Palette’ (both wineries have been featured in Savvy Selections). And if you want to impress, offer a bottle of Château de Beaucastel Coudoulet de Beaucastel, an outstanding and complex wine that can be enjoyed now or cellared long term.

There are some other attractive values in the release, including a Chilean Carmenère at $12.95 and the always reliable Lingenfelder ‘Bird Label’ Riesling at $13.95. One of my absolute favorite sparkling wines is also on offer, Louis Bouillot ‘Perle Rare Brut’ Crémant de Bourgogne, at $19.95, a lovely sipper for a party, or for a cheery evening at home. So many wines, so little time . . .

Cheers and Enjoy,

Susan

Louis Bouillot ‘Perle Rare Brut’ Crémant de Bourgogne 2007
AOC Bourgogne, France
$19.95 (Vintages #178137) 12.0% alcohol

Pale straw with a delicate yet abundant mousse, this vintage dry Crémant offers a lovely nose of stone fruit, honey melon, citrus and lightly toasted bread. Crisp acidity and lively minerality offer a fine counterpoint to the orchard fruit and citrus. A hint of the toasty lees lingers on the long vibrant finish. Pop the cork for any occasion!

Natura Chardonnay 2011
Casablanca Valley, Chile
$15.95 (Vintages #61895) 14.0% alcohol
Using organic cultivation to bring out the character of the terroir and the full expression of the grapes, Emiliana offers this unoaked refreshingly crisp Chardonnay. Dry, medium bodied, it proffers aromas of melon, peach, apple and citrus, delivering a zesty emphasis on the apple and citrus on the palate. Juicy and flavourful, with a hint of warmth on the finish, this is a great value. Shrimp salad with a lemon dressing, or grilled salmon anyone?

Mitolo ‘Jester’ Cabernet Sauvignon 2010
McLaren Vale, Australia
$21.95 (Vintages #43244) 14.9% alcohol
Twenty percent of the hand-picked fruit was air-dried for 8 weeks, adding depth and texture to this ripe well-crafted Cab. A subtle earthiness and scent of spiced rose underlies the ripe berry fruit and vanilla. Dry, medium-full bodied and generous, the well-integrated tannins and refreshing acidity provide balance to the ripe spice-infused fruit. Long, fresh spicy on the finish, it’s looking for a nice juicy steak

Château Moulin de Canhaut 2006
AOC Médoc, France
$17.95 (Vintages #190983) 13.0% alcohol
An award-winning blend of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon this dry medium-full bodied Bordeaux has an intriguing nose offering a whiff of old-fashioned rose, smoke, spice, cassis and field berries. Rich, smooth and flavourful, it’s remarkably fruity, though well balanced with fine acidity and well-integrated tannins. Layered notes of spice, pepper and underbrush add complexity, a trace of roasted coffee beans lingering on the finish. A very good value, this wine is well matched with hearty meat dishes.

Sabor Real Tempranillo ‘Vinas Centenarias’ 2007
DO Toro, Spain
$15.00 (Vintages #244772) 14.5% alcohol
Produced from ancient century-old vines, this Tempranillo shows a hint of mahogany and enticing aromas of licorice, cigar box, spice and raspberry/blueberry pie. Dry, medium-full bodied, it’s deftly structured and balanced, offering ripe fruit on the palate embellished with subtle earthy notes, herbs and spice that follow through on the extended finish. Pick up a few bottles of this exceptional value, as it is expected to cellar a further 5-7 years.

Grand Total: $90.80

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Enjoy this second wine of one of Châteauneuf-du-Pape’s premier producers!

Château de Beaucastel Coudoulet de Beaucastel 2009
AOC Côtes du Rhône-Villages, France
$29.95 (Vintages #48884) 14.0% alcohol

A blend of Mourvèdre, Grenache, Syrah and Cinsault from a producer proud of its natural winemaking strategy—no chemicals, pesticides or herbicides are used, and the wine is unfiltered—this wine is reliably good year after year. Attractive red berry fruit, spice, autumnal notes and a hint of leather drift from the glass. Dry, full bodied, rich with ripe black fruit, spice and herbs, the wine is round and balanced, firm, well-integrated tannins and fresh acidity providing just the right counterpoint to the well-ripened fruit. A savoury spicy wine that keeps you coming back for just another sip. You’ll want to enjoy it now, but a couple of bottles will cellar long term.

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