How I make my selections...

Rarely will I publish a review of a wine that I did not enjoy; my taste is purely individual, as is your own. If I write about a particular wine, I do so because I also want you to try it.

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Saturday, December 18, 2010

Selections for Nov 27, 2010

From the November 27th 2010 LCBO Vintages Release

This is indeed a great time of the year to buy fine wine and as always, the LCBO has pulled out all the stops for the holiday season by showcasing some of the very finest labels available.  A word of warning though, if I may:  while the popular (and expensive) labels are boldly advertised on the colour pages of the latest release, the real value is tucked away inside the catalogue.  I'd like to recommend a few very good labels for your enjoyment over the holidays: two red, two white, a fortified selection, and one for the cellar.  I hope that you enjoy them as much as I did.


2001 Beronia Gran Reserva
At a recent tasting, I had the pleasure of sampling the younger sibling of this wine, Beronia's Reserva,  and found it to be very impressive. The label in this release however, is the next step up and let's just say that 'You are in for a real treat.'  In Spain, a gran reserva must spend a minimum of five years in the winery of which two must be in oak casks or barrels.  The oak softens the wine and imparts a complexity that simply cannot be replicated in stainless steel.  A bodega (Spanish for winery) will only produce a gran reserva in exceptional years and the Beronia Gran Reserva is the product of great care in the cellar from an outstanding vintage.  Try this with brazed lamb or pork tenderloin with grilled vegetables. LCBO #940965 / $31.95 (D)

2007 Tenuta Sette Ponti, Crognolo
This is primarily a Sangiovese based wine (90%) with the remainder made up of Merlot.  The grapes are grown on vines which are on average 30 years old and thus produce rich and complex fruit. Expect a full bodied oak aged wine that is smooth on the palate and will pair perfectly with a pasta and meat sauce.  Wine Spectator rated this one #30 on their Top 100 Wine of 2009 list.  Decant 1-2 hours before the meal.   LCBO #935460 / $31.95 (XD)


2007 Hidden Bench, Estate Chardonnay
I'll admit that I am rather critical of the wines we produce here in Ontario.  Not because I don't enjoy them - that statement would be untrue, but instead, because I will not sell Ontario short by over-praising an average product simply for its familiarity.  Ontario wines will succeed on the world stage not by popularity but for their high quality as clearly demonstrated by this selection.  In terms of Chardonnay, Burgundy is undoubtedly the epicentre of world while others endeavour to recreate a similar product which bares a uniqueness to their own region.  Some do so very well, others fall short, while a few even over do it, but in each case, the producer will always add his or her own flare. Ontario's Hidden Bench hit the nail right on the head in 2007 with their Estate Chardonnay.  The exceptional vintage conditions in Ontario that year allowed both red and white varietals to ripen to their full potential laying the path to a great wine by any standard.  There is a soft oakiness to this Chardonnay; a touch of the old-world with some refreshing notes of the new.  While quite full on the palate, this wine has some soft citrus notes that follow up its traditional oaked style. You could easily pair this with a delicate white fish and I will confidently say that it even has the stuffing the accent your holiday turkey feast. LCBO #068817 / $35.20 (XD)

2007 Rene Mure, Signature Pinot Gris
A very clean wine.  I'm not normally a Pinot Gris enthusiast but with wine this good, I may soon become one. Some tropical fruit and quite light on the palate. Crisp and very refreshing.  Try this Alsatian white as an aperitif or pair it with fettuccini chicken alfredo - perfection!   LCBO #597757 / $17.95 (MD)


2000 Sandeman, Vau Vintage Port
Think of this as faux fur or leather; it's not exactly the real thing, but it is certainly not far off the mark - Vintage Port with a modern twist and perhaps a little more user friendly.  It's not ruby or LBV, no, this is vintage port for those who don't have the patience to wait 15-20 years.  While not on par with the 2007 Warre's VP (found on the same page), I did enjoy this, but then it is also 1/3 the price. You really can't go wrong here.  Decant 2 hours before serving to soften any hard edges and enjoy it with a rich dessert. LCBO #973768 / $29.95 (S)

One for the Cellar:

2007 Catena Alta, Malbec
Malbec is a grape once abundant in France's Bordeaux region but the cool Atlantic climate and the vine's susceptibility to frost damage restricted the varietal's potential and plantings in France have slowly dwindled over time.  In the warm sun that shines on the foothills of the Andes mountains in Argentina however, the grapes thrive and in resent years, the world has gulped down Malbec by the truckload - literally.  While the masses call it Fuzion, I have spent painstaking amounts of time and energy trying to get potential wine enthusiasts 'off the juice' and on to truly great Malbec.  Sure this one is expensive but this it's also the very best Malbec in the world - full stop.  Catena Alta requires 2 years in the cellar to soften, after which it becomes approachable.  Expect notes of mocha, dark chocolate and black fruit; the wine will become rich and complex. So if you can't shake the 'Kool-Aid' at least buy two bottles of this one, but don't drink them yet.  Instead, tuck the bottles away in a cool dark place, free of odours and vibration and forget about them for a while.  When the time comes around, invite me over for dinner and I promise that I won't say 'I told you so'...   LCBO #982355 / $49.95