Sunday, May 15, 2011

Buying into a Buying Strategy: 10 Tasted of 10

This is my twist on selecting wines from  Vintages' May 14, 2011 Release.

Wine critics and journalists usually have a distinct advantage when reviewing Vintages Releases. Being invited by Vintages and/or Distributors they can 'kick the tires' so to speak - try wines before they are released to the public.  I followed several critics for years and their columns and tasting notes often encouraged my choices for Vintages purchases. I've now altered my selection sequence. First I scan their tasting notes then apply a Value to each using their rating
and my  'Value Chart'This narrows down purchases to those showing a value that is 'Worth it', 'Buy a few more' or 'Stock up'.  This puts a budget component in my LCBO choices.

When you’re not on the hook for the bottle price it’s easy to focus on expensive wines and critics often emphasize the high end. But most reviewers include a few 'economy' or first tier wines as they do local wines as a courtesy to the on-a-budget consumer and the home industry. But I do have a budget and my interest is not political nor do I have a universal audience to satisfy.  My sole interest is to target highly rated wines that also have value. Unless you’re well healed or buying for a special reason and not concerned about price, are you aiming for value?

I've look at one critic’s choices for this Release.  Tony Aspler's Picks are listed below including his rating for each wine.  I then added the bottle price and a Value indicator using my  'Value Chart'.  My question to you is:  If a 'Value' rating were included for each bottle would you be more inclined to alter your purchase in favour of the higher value wine - with the proviso that tasting notes indicate the wines meet your occasion?

In this group none of the wines had the highest Value rating ‘Stock up’, ie.  I did not find any of these wines priced such that I would purchase for a rainy day or for cellaring.  Four were 'Not a value' and I'd either look for a lower priced wine or one with a higher rating. Three were 'Worth it' but exceeded my budget.  Perhaps this has become my strategy for getting my best buy although in this lot all but two exceeded my budget of $25.  After reviewing the tasting notes I decided to go on my own.

  1. Cordero di Montezemolo Monfalletto Barolo 2006 (91)  $52-Not a value
  2. Penfolds Bin 389 Cabernet/Shiraz 2007  (91)  $38-Worth it
  3. Chapel Hill Shiraz 2008  (91)  $25-Buy a few more
  4. Two Hands Gnarly Dudes Shiraz 2009 (91)  $27-Worth it
  5. Dr. Pauly - Bergweiler Riesling Spatlese 2008 (90)  $25-Worth it  
  6. Bonny Doon Beeswax Vineyard Le Cigare Blanc 2008 (90)  $30-Not a value
  7. Mer Soleil Barrel Fermented Chardonnay 2008  (90)  $35-Not a value
  8. Freeman Pinot Noir 2007   (90)  $45-Not a value
  9. Mustiguillo Mestis 2008  (90)  $16-Buy a few more
  10. Malivoire Ladybug Rosé 2010  (89)  $16-Buy a few more
Back to Vintages Shopping List:  I now resort to fingering through the Releases selecting wines based on:

    • A prior tasting in 5 years of blog entries
    • A new label that looks serious about wine
    • A balance of reds, whites, rosés and sparklers
    • A balance of traditional varieties and blends as well as indigenous grapes and styles
The ones I've selected from the May 14th release are listed below. I'll find out if I've stuck my palate out too far!

For those not aware or may have missed the CBC The Current’s Tom Harrington  interviewing Terry Mulligan on his challenge of the Prohibition era law preventing transport of wines across Provincial borders you can tune in to his pod cast.  There’s also comment from Daniel Lenko on this subject and the impact to his business, a legal challenge based on the law’s violation of Canadian Constitution and the inadequacies of BC MP Ron Cannon’s members bill to change the law. A response from a Liquor Board representative is included.  It’s thirty minutes covering prominent issues and well worth a listen.   

Cheers, Ww

THE LINEUP - grouped by reds, whites, rosés, sparkles and other:

  • Cline Ancient Vines Mourvèdre 2009,  94-3 --  V, Contra Costa County, California, #066084 $18.95 
  • Vineland Pinot Meunier 2009 VQA Niagara Escarpment, 91-2 --  V, Vineland, Ontario, #225508 $17.95  
  • Luigi Righetti Campolieti Ripasso Valpolicella Classico Superiore 2008,  87-Cellar  --  V,   Veneto, Italy, #695890 $16.95    
  • Pencarrow Pinot Noir 2009,  83  --  V, Martinborough, NZ, #692301 $21.95

  • E. Guigal Côtes du Rhône Vin Blanc 2009,  92-3  --  V, Rhône, France, #290296 $15.95
  • Quails’ Gate Chardonnay 2008 BC VQA Okanagan Valley, 85  --  V, Kelowna, BC,  #377770 $19.95 
  • Sols & Sens Côtes du Rhône-Villages Laudun 2009,  82  --  V, Rhône, France, #223438   $13.95

  • Zenato Bardolino Chiaretto 2010,  89-2  --  V, Veneto, Italy, #045203 $11.95
  • Gassier Sables d’Azur Rosé 2010,  89-2  --  V,  Provence, France, #033621 $13.95

  • Masottina Extra Dry Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore NV,  91-2  --  V, Veneto, Italy, #216317 $19.95
(G - General Listing, V - Vintages, r-v - Rating-Value)


QUAILS' GATE CHARDONNAY 2008 BC VQA Okanagan Valley, Kelowna, BC, 14.0% D, #377770  $19.95  (Tasted May 19, 2011)  CS

A Vintages Release on May 14, 2011.  John Schreiner rated this 90 (May 18, 2010) describing it as follows: “There are notes of citrus on the nose and the palate. The hint of oak and of the lees fleshes out the wine which, nevertheless, finishes with a clean, focussed and refreshing crispness.”  My notes:  A light blond with a hint of green and a subtle aroma or citrus and stone fruit. The stone fruit carries through to the first sip including a citrus tang that refreshes the taste buds. Finishing dry with tang then slowly fading to a grassy citrus. Very clean and having a smooth intro to the palate makes this an interesting sipper or pairing with chicken or fish dishes. A drink now - not for cellaring, likely past due.  85


A Vintages Release on May 14, 2011.  My notes:  If Niagara could infuse as much fineness and abundance of bubbles in a $20 Pinot or Chardonnay Brut they’d become ‘world renown’. This has a Danish blond colour with streams of fine bubbles flowing endlessly from the sides of the glass. The film is thin with many fast tears and there’s a scarce aroma of grapefruit and vanilla. The spritz refreshes the palate flooding it with creamy flavours of grapefruit and melon, not heavy but delicate. The finish has a creamy touch to a grapefruit citrus. Quaff or sip well chilled this is very enjoyable. Serve unreservedly to guests of all inclinations - they will enjoy. Have with salty crackers or fresh oysters with lime slices. Have on the patio or toast to special occasion. This should keep for a few years - hopefully Vintages will continue to make it available but you never know.  91

SOLS & SENS CÔTES DU RHÔNE-VILLAGES LAUDUN 2009, Rhône, France, 13.5% XD, #223438   $13.95  (Tasted May 26, 2011)  CS

  A Vintages Release on May 14, 2011. A blend of 60% Grenache, 30% Viognier and 10% Roussanne.  Awarded a Gold Medal at the International Wine Challenge 2010.  My notes:  This has a soft butter gold colour and has a fairly thin film not showing tears but a lacy rim. Hardly any nose unless given time to go off chill then shows a mild lemon and hint of floral. The first sip is bright with light lemon, touch of cooked apple. The finish is extra dry with a mineral edge. Not enough fruit for a sipper but interesting nevertheless from start to finish. Have with seafood or bacon wrapped scallops as a refresher at a buffet table. I’d expect no improvement if cellared. So much for International Gold Medals.  82

PENCARROW PINOT NOIR 2009, Martinborough, NZ, 14.5% XD, #692301  $21.95  (Tasted May 20, 2011)  CS

A Vintages Release on May 14, 2011.  A Palliser Estate wine awarded a Gold Medal at the 2010 Air New Zealand Wine Awards. Rated 88 (Sept/Oct 2010) and described by Stephen Tanzer, International Wine Cellar, as ‘… Red and black fruit aromas are complicated by mint and flowers. In a very ripe and rather beefy style, notable more for its impression of strong extract than for complexity of flavor. Finishes with dusty tannins.”   My notes:  A granite glint sets this as a wine with a reserved attraction. The film is firm with many long slow legs and the penetrating tang rouses an initial interest. The distracting warmth of the first sip convinces me to let it sit for awhile - thirty minutes which didn‘t help. Raspberry and strawberry aromas blend with oak, medium-bodied, dry with no sweetness, attractively smooth. The finish repeats the penetrating character putting fruit and texture out of balance, attractive perhaps for scotch drinkers but too hot as a sipper for me. Have with well seasoned bbq’d ribs or steaks. Cellaring is not likely to mellow the roughness. 83
GASSIER SABLES D'AZUR ROSÉ 2010,  Provence, France, 12.5% XD, #033621  $13.95  (Tasted May 14, 2011)  CS

A Vintages Release on May 14, 2011.  My notes:   A blend of Grenache, Syrah and Cinsault delivered in an attractive package shaped as coquettish as the salmon pink colour and aromatic scent of talc. Bone dry at first sip and silky smooth, tart with fresh berry and mineral flavours querying do I like it? or do I not? Medium-bodied with a fullness that flows the flavour mix to every corner of the palate. My decision is that there’s much to enjoy. Sips went well with appetizers of grilled coconut shrimp and fresh strawberries. Cellaring a year could smooth out some rawness to add to the rating.   89

VINELAND PINOT MEUNIER 2009 VQA Niagara Escarpment, Vineland, Ontario, 13.0% XD, #225508  $17.95  (Tasted May 23, 2011)  CS

A Vintages Release on May 14, 2011. Pinot Meunier is rarely made as a stand-alone varietal.  My notes:  My first Meunier. I found it similar to Pinot Noir - mid ruby colour, nose a blend of strawberry and raspberry but muted so both are separately indistinguishable. Smooth film with long legs and the first sip is smooth, well balanced acid and tannins giving a dryness that coats the mouth. The dryness continues into the long finish ending dry and woody. Has interest as a medium-bodied, polite sipper but would pair nicely with most entrées: salmon, tuna steak, rabbit, veal or pork. Stood up well with an orange-ginger beef stew on a salad of bean sprouts and baby spinach. Cellaring for several years is a possibility and may bring out more depth.  91
LUIGI RIGHETTI CAMPOLIETI RIPASSO VALPOLICELLA CLASSICO SUPERIORE 2008,  Veneto, Italy,  13.5% XD, #695890  $16.95  (Tasted May 24, 2011)  CS

A Vintages Release on May 14, 2011.  My notes:  The 2003 was tasted on March 22, 2006 as a 'drink now'.  Five vintages later the 2008 has a classic label and pours a mid ruby in the glass. The aroma has tones of dark chocolate, liquorice and black cherries nicely balanced with a spiciness that suits. A fairly firm film shedding long slow legs and the first sip stings on all fronts then leaves a metallic sharpness in its tracks. Tooth cleaning with flavours of red cherries and a strong warmth if you’re sipping. Better paired with a tomato pasta with chorizo sausage pieces. Not a drink now but one for the cellar - five to eight years is my guess. Unless you prefer 'paesano' or home style I'd skip it.  87 Cellar  

CLINE ANCIENT VINES MOURVÈDRE 2009, Contra Costa County, California, 15.0% XD, #066084   $18.95  (Tasted May 16, 2011)  CS

A Vintages Release on May 14, 2011.  My notes: My imagery of an 'ancient vines' mourvédre: visual, texture and flavour profile, is of a sedate men’s club complete with smoking jacket and Havana cigar. The Cline 2009 has a dense overripe black cherry colour and an aroma full of spice, forest floor, blackberry and black cherry - air a short while. Predicting velvety smoothness and depth the film sticks then runs slow long legs on the glass.  The first sip confirms all: full-bodied, deeply textured, concentrated fruit and tannins, a polite bite combined with smoky oak. Starting with intensity the finish fades slowly retaining all elements until ending dry with a touch of mild tobacco.  Well balanced, suitable for a fireside read or pair with prime rib, beef tenderloin, venison, ie. anything meaty. Cellaring for several years may mellow some minor roughness.  94 

E. GUIGAL CÔTES DU RHÔNE VIN BLANC 2009,   Rhône, France, 13.5% XD, #290296  $15.95  (Tasted May 16, 2011)  CS

A Vintages Release on May 14, 2011.  Rated 89 by Robert Parker Jr.  (Oct. 2010) and described as “… usually 50% Viognier and the rest a blend of Roussanne, Marsanne, Clairette and Bourboulenc aged in tank, is just lovely. Fresh honeyed notes with some tropical fruits and other assorted citrus all jump from the glass of this medium-bodied, crisp, fresh wine, which over-delivers in personality, flavour and complexity.”  My notes:A light golden blond showing a firm film that gradually accumulates slow tears. The nose needs time to develop as the glass goes off chill then it’s a subdued grapefruit pith with a tinge of citrus. Flavours are smooth expanding as the palate warms - starting with a bright grassy kiwi melon turning to a tart citrus then a penetrating almost-ripe grapefruit/melon. The finish is interesting for the touch of oil on the lips the fruit having faded to a subtle grassy melon and tang.  This would pair nicely with most seafoods either appetizers or entrées. Ideal with lobster tails or Alaskan King crab pieces and was fantastic with grilled Pacific salmon.  Cellaring for several years would likely do well.  92

ZENATO BARDOLINO CHIARETTO 2010, Veneto, Italy, 12.0% D, #045203  $11.95  (Tasted May 30, 2011)  CS

A Vintages Release on May 14, 2011.  My notes: The 2007 vintage was tasted June 28, 2008 with a rating of 89. Made from Corvina and Rondinella grapes left on skins only a few hours to extract a peachy pink colour. It met all of the criteria of a ‘social sipper’. Now a loonie cheaper the 2010 has the same colour, perhaps a tad deeper to a salmon. A floral, peach and red currant aroma meets the nose with a strawberry smoothness and blend of berries and watermelon for flavours. Finishes refreshing and dry. Enjoyable as a patio sipper with the roundness leaving an appropriate intro to buffet sandwiches followed by petits fours - or just sip.  This could cellar well for a few years. 89 

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