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Weekend wine: The hunt is on

This week Vin shares a new list of 'must have' wines, limited time offerings and other temptations
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Vin Greco, Wine All The Time

No sooner do we think that we’ve probably seen more than enough good buys for a while, than we find ourselves inundated with even more temptations.  Not only does the next round of Limited Time Offerings begin this coming Monday (February 27), but the LCBO rolls out an In-Store Vintages sale featuring 80 of what they call ”must-have” wines… must have, that is, if you can find them.

Those who live in bigger areas will have the luxury of checking out a number of stores that have Vintages sections. The major Toronto stores at Queen’s Quay and Summerhill will have almost everything, while Barrie and Guelph readers will have a great selection. In the north, the pickings are leaner.

The sensible thing would be just to check your stores to see what they might have, and not worry about it. In every city, you’ll find good wines, and it is an opportunity to try something you might not normally drink.

If you go to vintages.com, click on “special offers” and scroll down, you will find “In-Store Sales” and a list of the 80 products on offer.

If you’re eager, you may be able to impose on friends who live near stores that do have the wine you want.  But then, you might just be expending more effort that it is worth.  It may just be a matter of how much you enjoy the thrill of the hunt, not to mention the wine at the end of the quest.

Among the white wines, Australia’s Yalumba Y Series Unwooded Chardonnay 2015 will be just $12.75. Clean tropical fruit throughout, with lemon-lime on the finish. True Chardonnay character prevails all the way.

The Midi is not the typical place that we would look for this varietal, but Foncalieu Le Versant Sauvignon Blanc 2015, now $11.25, has nice varietal character and is “a great sipping wine” according to Vintages.

From Spain’s Rueda region, we have Beronoia Rueda Verdejo 2015, $11.25. Rare to find on its own, it is “crisp, light, zesty and dry…with lime green apple, banana, pineapple leek and spring pea” according planetgrape.com. – 88.

Reds outnumber whites by better than 6 to 1 with this sale. Le Cirque Grenache Noir/Carignan/Syrah 2013, will be just $12.75and can be found in all our readership areas.  Tank-aged, it has “tons of black raspberry, kirsch, licorice and spice” and is “full-bodied, pure and polished” according to  robertparker.com – 91.

Chateau De Gourgazaud Reserve 2013, $13.75, is 4i0% Syrah, and Vintages says that it is “juicy rich and complex”, with “impressive cassis and black fruit tones.”

Evans & Tate Metricup Road Cabernet /Merlot 2013, will be $16.75.  Australia’s winecompanion.com refers to “attractive flavours of black currant, chocolate and dried herbs” – 92

From Argentina, we have Dramatis Personae Selecto Reserva 2010, down to $14.25. This substantial wine with a long finish shows vanilla and spice and baked black cherry, and has a 90from the Wine Enthusiast.

That should provide a sense of what you might expect to find. If you are disappointed, you can console yourselves with the very good wines on the LTO list for the next several weeks. 

This is especially true with some great choices from Washington State. The Velvet Devil Merlot 2014, normally $18.95, will be $15.95. This is an incredibly rich and smooth Merlot, with a broad brush of very soft tannins and the impression of ripe, red fruit with everything integrated harmoniously.

Kung Fu Girl Riesling 2015 will now be $3 off at $16.95. Honey Crisp apple balancing good acidity is the hallmark with this off-dry Riesling which made the Wine Spectator’s “Top 100” last year, where it was described as ”lively and fruit-centred.” - #45 – 90.

These wines are the creation of Charles Smith and in terms of presentation represent a slightly off-centre approach reflective of a free spirit.  These labels have been purchased by Constellation Brands.  While Smith himself will no longer be the winemaker, they will continue to be made in the Wahluke Wine Company facility, with fruit from the same vineyards.  Smith will still be making some other wines, including another Riesling on the March 4 release, Charles & Charles Art Den Hoed Vineyard Riesling 2015, $16.95

Also on LTO from Washington are threeColumbia Grand Estate wines, as well as theColumbia Winery Cabernet Sauvignon. They are at pretty much the same price point and will be $3 off at $14.95, except for the Grand Estate Merlot, which is $2 off at $15.95.

The 2013 Grand Estate Merlot earned rave reviews on the Natalie MacLean website, where it was described as gorgeous and richly layered, as well as powerful and concentrated.

The 2014 Grand Estate Cabernet Sauvignonwas considered a “2016 Top Value” by the Wine Spectator which described it as “broad, generous, and inviting” with “cherry, currant, and red plum” characteristics – 91.

In its turn, the Columbia Cabernet Sauvignonscored 90 with the Wine Spectator for being “rich, full-bodied, and well-structured with firm tannins.” Tastes noted included blackberry, oak and cocoa.

The Grand Estate Chardonnay also was acclaimed by Natalie MacLean, who noted the creamy texture brought about by the weekly stirring of the lees over an 8 month period of fermentation in barrel.  Butterscotch and tropical fruit make a great impression, with good resolution on the finish because of the acidity.90.

You might want to compare this with the Toro de Piedra Grand Reserve Chardonnay 2014, $17.95 starting Monday.  This one comes on full bore with rich tropical fruit and buttery caramel.  It is simply delicious. Find it in Vintages.

Already reduced to $16.25, Jackson-Triggs Niagara Estate Grand Reserve Sauvignon Blanc 2013 is a winner. Recently I have tried both big-flavoured New Zealand examples and more subdued offerings from France. This hits in the middle, and should please everyone.  The texture is terrific, with perfect balance, and the flavours which suggest new mown grass and sunshine along with subtle grapefruit are spot-on.  The same wine is available in the Wine Rack stores.

There are plenty more wines on the LTO list for the next month, so take a stroll and find some good ones. For example, Piqueras Black Label Old Vine Garnacha Almanso DO at $2 off will be just $9.95.  It spends 6 months in American oak and has very good red fruit and vanilla spice notes, with good acidity bringing harmony to the finish.

Vintages March 4 Release

Whites

Pietro Marini Torrontes 2015, $13.95.  Torrontes is a signature grape for Argentina, very aromatic and, though dry, is very fruity – peach, even lychee is suggested.  While not related, it can remind people of Muscat, or Moscato.

Vinum Africa Chenin Blanc 2015, $15.95. As much as Torrontes is associated with Argentina, Chenin Blanc has a new home in South Africa, where it also goes by the name, “Steen”.  Here, you might detect cinnamon on the nose, and then consistent good fruit - some pineapple, some peach follow through with some lime and minerality on the finish.  The winery suggest that it would be perfect with Asian cuisine.

Domaine A Deux Sauvignon Blanc 2015, $13.95, is a new listing from the Loire.  Vintages suggests citrus and gooseberry flavours and crisp, fresh acidity.  Why not see how it stands up to the Jackson-Triggs Grand Reserve?

Zenato Pinot Grigio 2015, $17 – While it may be a little pre-mature for sitting out on the patio sipping a refreshing dry white wine, it might not be too early to start picking up a bottle or two.  If so, start with a good Pinot Grigio from one of the Veneto’s most reliable producers.  It has the tart apple and citrus notes you expect and good crispness through the finish.

Inniskillin Montague Vineyard Chardonnay 2014, $24.95.  If, stylistically your preference is for elegance in your chardonnay, look no further than this gem from one of Ontario’s oldest vineyards.  While relatively low in residual sugar -5.3 g/l – you wouldn’t know it from the taste. The fruit is ample, though silky and smooth and very, very tasty. The winemaker, Bruce Nicholson suggests pear, fig, vanilla and melon, and I would suggest he’s right!  It is quite satisfying on its own, and would be excellent with lightly seasoned pork or chicken. It will be available at the Wine Rack stores as well.

Reds

La Garnacha Salvaje Del Moncayo 2014, $14.95.  New to the LCBO, this wine is a result of a special project seeking out the best sites in Spain for Garnacha.  The vines are old, and the wine spent a little time in oak. According to decanter.com, it is “juicy and fresh [with] wild berry and spice flavours and a succulent mouthfeel. -  91

Mayu Reserva Carmenère/Syrah 2014, $15.95– this Chilean blend is a little unusual, but it evidently works. “A spicy fruit-driven, soft red with a nice mixture of black pepper, smoky bacon, bright cherries and herbal leafy aromas.” robertparker.com – 90.

Columbia Crest H3 Merlot 2014, $20.95 – from a very good production region in Washington, this wine brings “aromas of dark spice, fleshy blackberry and smoke”, says Natalie Maclean –92.  Others detect earth, cherry, leather and cocoa , so you buy it and decide!

Tom Gore Cabernet Sauvignon 2014, $19.95 -  While really big red wines can be attractive and enjoyable, there is a lot to be said for a wine that comes through right down the middle with a perfect strike. This vintage of the Tom Gore Cabernet has great balance, with ripe –but not over-ripe – fruit, weight that is exactly in the middle, and a robe of gentle tannins which, along with right-on acidity, knits this wine together admirably.  Like the Inniskillin Montague Chardonnay, here is a wine that you can appreciate all by itself, or enjoy with gently flavoured food.  This is good stuff.