Start 2012 with Smart Buy wines at LCBO Vintages

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To kick off the new year, the first LCBO Vintages release on Saturday January 7th offers the opportunity to experiment with some relatively unknown European varietals and to re-stock your wine cabinet with some excellent well-priced values. Consider two whites, shoulder to shoulder in the Alpine regions of France, Roussette de Savoie, and Switzerland, the classic Chasselas (known locally as Fendant). Both offer lovely aromatics, good balance and texture, and under $20.  Among the reds, the little-known region of Irouléguy in southwestern France offers a powerful blend of Tannat and the Cabernet grape varieties, while Italy’s Sicily wine region delivers a classic savoury wine just made for meaty pasta dishes called Nero d’Avola.

Among the ‘Smart Buys’, there’s great value in Konzelmann’s Reserve Sauvignon Blanc (just off-dry) and Sue-Ann Staff’s mouthwateringly delicious Semi-Dry Riesling – both under $15 and both wineries featured in our Savvy Selections. Among the red wines, Chile offers great value and powerful flavours in the Koyle Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon.  Argentina delivers loads of flavour with the Urban Uco Malbec/Tempranillo red wine blend while Australia’s award-winning Jip Jip Rocks Shiraz fills your mouth with full-bodied fruit. Italy’s Tuscany offers the ripe yet dry Ripa delle Mandorle from Vicchiomaggio, a site with a historic castle where Leonardi da Vinci is reputed to have painted the Mona Lisa.

LCBO’s general release (main shelves in the store) also offers some excellent values, including the rich round Bordeaux Supérieur, Château la Croix de Queynac and the outstanding full-bodied Sabor Real crafted from the fruit of 70+-year-old vines. And don’t miss Pondview’s Bella Terra Cabernet Franc, a wine that was featured in Savvy Selections in the spring of 2011.

Below is my shopping list for 6 good value wines at prices that will be kind to your wallet!

Cheers and Happy 2012,
Susan

If I only had $100, I would buy . . .
LCBO Vintages Release as of Saturday January 7, 2012

Sue-Ann Staff  Semi-Dry Riesling 2008
Niagara, Ontario
$14.95 (Vintages #258632) 10.0% alcohol
Produced from grapes harvested from 4 separate parcels, this is Sue-Ann Staff’s first wine as proprietor. Pale yellow-green, there’s a whiff of petrol over mineral notes and the aromas of zesty citrus, ripe stone fruit and fresh-picked apple. Light-medium bodied and off-dry, this wine displays a great balance of fresh acidity, underlying minerality and tangy fruit that persists through the lasting finish.

Domaine de Mignaberry 2008
AOC Irouléguy, France
$18.95 (Vintages #251611) 13.0% alcohol
Primarily Tannat blended with the Cabernets, this deep violet wine from southwestern France is dry, medium-full bodied, and loaded with flavours framed by a firm structure. There’s intriguing complexity on the nose—earthy herbal notes, a whiff of spicy flowers, an elusive gamey nuance and the richness of ripe dark berries. The tannins make their presence felt, the lush berry fruit balanced with fresh acidity, the herbal notes suffusing the palate and lingering on the extended dry finish. Choose a hearty stew to match this hearty wine or cellar mid-term.

Koyle ‘Reserve’ Cabernet Sauvignon 2008
Alto Colchagua, Chile
$15.95 (Vintages #256073) 14.0% alcohol
An outstanding value, this deep ruby Cab, hand harvested and aged in French oak, is refined and stylish. There’s beguiling complexity at first scent—minty herbal notes, spice, tobacco leaf, cedar and berries. Dry, medium-full bodied, the fresh texture and ripe tannins frame vibrant red fruit—raspberry and cherry—with hints of cedar and spice persisting on an extended dry savoury finish. Pick up a few bottles. Try a bottle with prime rib and cellar the remaining ones mid term.

Montes ‘Limited Selection’ Pinot Noir 2009
DO Casablanca Valley, Chile
$14.95 (Vintages #37937) 14.0% alcohol
Here’s another great value, a dry medium-bodied ruby Pinot that offers enticing aromas of earth, beetroot, red field berry and mineral. Dry, medium bodied, the silky texture is complemented by lively acidity and vivid red berries—strawberries, red currant, cranberries. Just lovely balance, the attractive notes of spice and white pepper carrying through the tantalizing vibrant finish. This is another multiple purchase that would pair well with duck confit on yam chips served with a cranberry-orange garnish.

Vicchiomaggio Ripa delle Mandorle 2009
IGT Toscana, Italy
$15.00 (Vintages #677930) 13.5% alcohol
From a storied Tuscan property, this blend of Sangiovese and Cabernet proffers a lovely nose—floral nuances, berry fruit, spice and vanilla captivate. Beautifully balanced, it’s dry yet silky, medium bodied, ripe berry fruit caressing the palate, the spice and vanilla replaying right through the scrumptious finish. Just delicious, it would be a good match for osso bucco.

Sabor Real 2008
DO Toro, Spain
$15.95 (Vintages #172932) 14.5% alcohol
The last release of October offered the Sabor Real Vignas Centenarias, and here is yet another great Tempranillo, produced from 70+-year-old vines. Inky purple, the plush aromas are of rich dark spiced fruit, exotic spice, cigar box and some elusive floral nuances. Subtly structured, it’s dry, full-bodied, velvety with great depth of flavour – just loaded with spicy dark fruit. Lingering notes of spice, vanilla and sweet toast persist on a warm finish. A candidate for medium-term cellaring, it’s a great value.

Grand Total: $95.75

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