Thursday, January 15, 2015

The 500 Best-Value Wines in the LCBO 2015, Part 2 - 22 Tasted of 22

This is a followup to The 500 Best-Value Wines 2015 7th Edition by  Rod Phillips. In this entry I intend to purchase some 'new' wines from the 500+ wines listed in the Book.  The selections will be shown in THE LINEUP below with my TASTINGS to follow. Pick up the Book for the complete wine list indexed by source (Country, Province or State) and the author's tasting notes. This may be an opportunity to change your current plonk to something new and still stay within your budget.

Some statistics:

I've used the LCBO Website to find the status of new and discontinued wines. The Cornwall and Trafalgar outlet had 16 of the selected wines at the time of this entry. 
  • Excluding Rosés, Sparkling and Sweet there are 445 'Best-Value' reds and whites. Ten (2 whites, 8 reds) were not available as of this entry (according to the LCBO website). Among the 445 there are 91 (31 whites and 60 reds) marked as 'new'.  Earlier vintages of twenty-four (8 whites and 16 reds) of the 91 were tasted previously in this blog.  
  •  Of the 445 there are 168 Best-Value whites rated 5, 4½ or 4 (100 to 87) from 18 sources (Country, Province or State).
  •  Of the 168 Best-Value whites there are twelve 5s (94-100), fifty-seven 4½s  (90-93) and ninety-nine 4s (87-89). 
  • The leading sources for 'Best-Value' whites are Ontario (38), France (30), California (21), Italy (16), Australia (14), New Zealand (13) and Chile (10). Of 31 'new' whites there are no 5s.
  • Of the 445 there are 277 reds rated 5, 4½ or 4 Stars (100 to 87) from 16 sources (Country, Province or State).
  • Of the 277 there are thirty 5s (94-100), ninety-three 4½s  (90-93) and one hundred and fifty-four 4s (87-89).
  • The leading sources for reds are Italy (55), California (42), France (39), Chile (25), Ontario (23) and Spain (14). Of 60 'new' reds there are five 5s.
  • Of the 277 reds the book lists 60 that are 'new' with most of these from Italy (12), France and Ontario (each with 11) and California (8). Tastings of earlier vintages of fifteen of the 60 'new' wines had been entered in this blog prior to this year. 

I hope this contributes to an understanding of LCBO's sourcing and retailing of wines in Ontario.

PS. Jan 31 '15: Perhaps premature but at this point I'm inclined to sample each General Listed wine that is 'discontinued' as a possible source of excellent values.

Cheers, Ww  

THE LINEUP:  Reds and Whites

  • Root: 1 Carmenère Colchagua Valley 2012,  92-3  --  G, Donihue, Chile, #350546  $12.80 
  • Casa LaPostolle Gran Seleccion Carmenère 2012, 92-3  --  G, Rapel Valley, Chile, #168740   $14.90
  • Charles & Charles Red Blend 2013, 92-3  -- G, Washington State, USA, #363838 $15.95 
  • Tempus Two 'Limestone Coast' Cabernet Merlot 2011, 91-3  --  G, Pokolbin, New South Wales, #308197  $8.75
  • Oatley Tic Tok Pocketwatch Central Ranges Cabernet Sauvignon 2011, 90-2  --  G, New South Wales, Australia, #187179   $12.85* 
  • 35° South Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot Organic 2013, 87-1  --  G, Molina, Chile, #218859  $12.95
  • Bodega Volcanes de Chile Summit Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon Syrah 2013, 84-1  --  G,  Rapel Valley, Chile,  #350553  $10.95
  • La Mascota Cabernet Sauvignon 2012, 83  --  G,  Mendoza, Argentina, #292110  $13.95  
  • Michel Lynch Merlot Gran Vin de Bordeaux 2011, 83  --  G, Bordeaux, France, #361550  $17.05
  • Fowles Wine 'Are You Game?' Shiraz 2012, 82  --  G, Victoria, Australia, #327320  $17.05
  • Villa Ponciago Grand Vins Beaujolais-Villages 2012, 80  --  G, Fleurie, France, #325134  $14.95

  • L'Arjolle Sauvignon Blanc-Viognier 2013, 89-2  -- G, Côtes de Thongue, France, #348904  $12.20 
  • UMA Coleccion Torrontés 2013, 88a-2  --  G, Mendoza, Argentina, #276626 $6.45  
  • Domaine de Pellehaut 'Harmonie de Cascogne' Blanc 2013, 88-2  --  G,  Sichel, France, #319665  $9.95 
  • Kate Radburnd Sun Kissed Pinot Gris 2013, 87-1  --  G, Hawkes Bay, New Zealand, #359000  $15.95
  • Willy Gisselbrecht Riesling Selection 2012, 85-1  -- G, Alsace, France, #315309  $9.95 
  • Douglas Green Sauvignon Blanc 2014, 84  --  G, Wellington, S. Africa, #367821 $10.80
  • Guy Saget Sancerre 2013, 82  --  G, Loire, France, #319657  $21.95*
  • Sterling 'Vintner's Collection' Central Coast Chardonnay 2013, 81  --  G, Sonoma, California, #669242  $15.95
  • Fowles Wine 'Are You Game?' Chardonnay 2013, 80  --  G, Victoria, Australia, #359984  $15.95 
  • McWilliam's 'Hanwood Estate' Moscato NV,  NR  --  G,  South Eastern Australia, #212696  $14.40 
  • Oatley Tic Tok Pocketwatch Central Ranges Chardonnay 2013, NR  --  G, NSW, Australia, #187104  $14.95     

  r-v - rating and value, n-r - not rated, NR - Not Recommended


MCWILLIAM'S HANWOOD ESTATE MOSCATO NV*,  South Eastern Australia, 7.5%  S  116g/L,  #212696  $14.40*  (Tasted February 8, 2015)

A General listing. *The Book shows the vintage as 2012, a price of $13.95 and a rating of 4.  My notes:  A mid yellow, crisp and clear and with a scattering of spritz on the glass a well as a jagged film receding quickly. A sniff reveals a delicate floral and honey scent accompanying a tart honey coated apple enveloping the palate. The sweetness lasts through a long finish balanced by refreshing acid. Have before or after a meal or snack, nothing hot or spicy just to enjoy. The low alcohol encourages quaffing that intensifies the fruit, body and texture as a nicely packaged appetizer or dessert wine. Perhaps an economical alternative to ice wine or Late Harvest?

FOWLES WINE 'ARE YOU GAME?' CHARDONNAY 2013, Victoria, Australia, 13.5%  XD  2g/L, #359984  $15.95  (Tasted February 3, 2015)

A General listing. *The Book shows the 2012 vintage and a rating of 4½. Also, the website shows a different label? My notes: The film recedes moderately from a ragged rim ending without a trace. The colour is a light yellow with an aroma of chilled lemon pith. A first sip shows a drier lemon pith, a penetrating tartness and then a just perceptible vanilla flavouring fading into a long dry finish. A lasting intensity permeates the palate although without appeal. Paired with Roasted Flattened Chicken and Herbs (drop the chili flakes) was refreshing but without complementing. Likely better with whitefish: grilled haddock, cod or tilapia and vegetables. A commercial white and a drink now. 80
OATLEY TIC TOK POCKETWATCH CENTRAL RANGES CHARDONNAY 2013*,  NSW, Australia, 12.5%  D  8g/L,  #187104  $14.95  (Tasted January 27, 2015)

A General listing produced by Robert Oatley Vineyards Pty Ltd.  The Book shows the 2012 vintage and a rating of 4½.  My notes: *The vintage in the Book is 2012.  The 2009 vintage at the same price was tasted on June 15, 2012 with a rating of 82.  The 2013 vintage, on the shelf at the LCBO, is almost void of colour and aroma. The flavour is mild apple fading on the palate as it continues through a long fresh finish. The aftertaste has a mineral accent with  a touch of acid but lacking varietal  character. If you have a bottle serve with seafood, grilled chicken breast or other flavoured entrée. Not recommended (NR)

STERLING 'VINTNER'S COLLECTION' CENTRAL COAST CHARDONNAY 2013, Sonoma, California, 13.5%  D  6g/L, #669242  $15.95  (Tasted January 20, 2015)

A General listing. The Book shows the 2012 vintage and a rating of 4.  My notes:  The 2010 vintage with a price of $14.95 was tasted on May 1, 2012 and rated 82. A faint scent of burnt straw and lemon comes first while a swirl leaves a thin film swelling at the rim then quickly receding from a hilly edge. Chilled to 12oC a sip is dry with a subtle acid and lemon/honey dew flavour accentuated by more sips. Texture is smooth with a slight sweetness. A social sipper for an afternoon bridge party with light nibbles. Went well with spinach and feta stuffed Atlantic salmon . A pale straw colour matches the body and flavour. A commercial drink now. 81

WILLY GISSELBRECHT RIESLING SELECTION 2012, Alsace, France, 12.0%  XD  6g/L, #315309  $9.95  (Tasted January 31, 2015)

A General listing.  The Book shows the 2011 vintage and a rating of 4. The LCBO shows this as Discontinued.   My notes: A mid yellow colour, clean and crisp. A scent of dry lemon tainted with orange on the first sip, very dry and medium-bodied. A long fresh finish finely textured with a metallic edge lasting awhile. The film is thin fragmenting from a frail rim. No petrol but leaving a touch of glycerine on the lips detectable when sipping. Save for a quiet patio gathering with selections from a charcuterie of sliced rounds and soft cheeses... or with raw oysters, freshly grilled seafood, a bento box or curried vegetable dish. A drink now. 85

L'ARJOLLE SAUVIGNON BLANC-VIOGNIER 2013, Côtes de Thongue, France, 12.0%  D  10g/L, #348904  $12.20  (Tasted January 27, 2015)

A General listing. The Book shows the 2012 vintage and a rating of 4½.  My notes: A crisp, clean mid yellow with a fleeting aroma of apricot brightened by lemon. The film hangs from a jagged rim accumulating then dropping as a seamless layer. Serving chilled (10oC) mellows an acid bite while showing a dry texture and light apple flavour. A sweet edge combines for a long luscious finish with a light lanolin touch - end with a buffet selection. An aperitif leading into fresh oysters and an ice bucket white paired with delicate seafood entrées. A white to pause over for its differences. 89

KATE RADBURND SUN KISSED PINOT GRIS 2013, Hawkes Bay, New Zealand, 13.0%  XD  3g/L, #359000  $15.95  (Tasted January 23, 2015)

A General listing. The Book shows the 2012 vintage and a rating of 4½. Produced by the C.J.Pask Winery Ltd.  My notes:  There's a touch of auburn in this crystal clear mid yellow and the nose isn't except for a subtle acid. A light viscosity holds against the glass breaking free from a crinkly rim. Smooth, chalky, bright, a blend of Bosc pear and Myers lemon offers a different, flavourful, version of pinot gris. A few sips brings out a faint sweetness and a long querky finish. Have with seafood, finny or shell. Personally I would prefer with some fruit: pineapple, strawberries or mixed, if served as a sipper. A drink now.  87

DOUGLAS GREEN SAUVIGNON BLANC 2014, Wellington, S. Africa, 12.5% D  4g/L, #367821 $10.80¸ (Tasted January 20, 2015)

A General listing and rated 4 by Rod Phillips. WineAlign  rates this wine as 2½.  My notes:  A green tint to a subtle yellow for colour along with fine bubbles on the glass. A minor sweetness to a lemon/green apple nose. Then comes a refreshing tartness with a taste of melon and green apple and filling the palate with a flavour vapour and a long finish. Set up a tasting table with varied sauvignon blancs for an interesting comparison - definitely a different flavour profile from that of a Kiwi. Pair with Asian sweet & sour, sushi or serve as a refreshing summer patio sipper - combined with pineapple, strawberry or melon pieces. A drink now. 84

GUY SAGET SANCERRE 2013, Loire, France, 12.5%  XD  4g/L, #319657  $21.95*  (Tasted February 9, 2015)

A General listing. The Book lists as 2012 vintage and rated 4½  by Rod Phillips. My notes: The Canadian agent, Churchill Cellars, described this product on their webpage . The colour is a crystal clear mid yellow and the aroma is green pea with the scent and tartness of gooseberry added. The film is smooth and moderate leaving a rounded rim that slowly recedes. Chalk and straw continue into a long finish building with each sip.  Have with a tray of soft cheeses or seafood entrees. We're pairing it with a shrimp casserole by Derf. The finish is long extra dry needing a suitable accompaniment - ie. a meal white.  82

DOMAINE DE PELLEHAUT 'HARMONIE DE CASCOGNE' BLANC 2013, Sichel, France, 11.5%  D  8g/L,  #319665   *$9.95  (Tasted January 26, 2015)

A General listing and rated 4 by Rod Phillips. The LCBO indicates this wine has been discontinued. Original price *$12.95 - suggested purchase price is 5-7€.  My notes:  A staple white and a blend of Ugni Blanc, Colombard, Gros Manseng, Chardonnay, Sauvignon, and folle blanche" balanced each vintage. The colour is a crystal clear mid yellow and has a fresh aroma of vines before blossoming. A swirl gave a thin film receding quickly from a crinkly rim. A crisp bite leaves the palate dry with light herbal notes, not identifiable to me but appealing. A meal white to pair with fresh seafood grilled in a lemon butter sauce and rice side, or bento box of tempura pieces. I'm serving with pecan crusted baked haddock and puréed parsnip/cauliflower side. The winery website says of the 2014 vintage "to be drunk young, within 24 months of the harvest" which should apply to each vintage. 88 

UMA COLECCIÓN TORRONTÉS 2013, Mendoza, Argentina, 13.0%  D  8g/L, #276626 $6.45  (Tasted January 29, 2015) 

A General listing and rated 4 by Rod Phillips.  My notes: The only Argentinan white marked 'new' - 'Discontinued' according to the LCBO.  A clean, crisp mid yellow colour with a indistinct herbal and almost negligible floral nose slowly released on pouring - air on ice or, my preference, is aerating. The film is moderate receding cleanly from a rippled rim. The first sip (12-14oC) bursts with indistinct, subtly sweet, intense flavours and leaves the palate dry and grassy. A complex character, medium-bodied and with a taste that's, once acquired, interesting as a sipper. Pair with grilled seafood, fin or shell. Buy a dozen in for a social event.  88a

35° SOUTH CABERNET SAUVIGNON MERLOT ORGANIC 2013, Molina, Chile, 14.0% D 6g/L, #218859  $12.95  (Tasted January 19, 2015)

A General listing and rated 4 by Rod Phillips. WineAlign  rates it 2.5. Made by Vina San Pedro.  My notes: A deep charcoal tinted ruby that leaves a smooth film with a slight rim flowing a group of slow legs. There's a pleasing tartness to a woody fruit aroma giving this appeal as a sipper. A hint of sweet adds to the wood, tobacco and berry jam blend starting the first sip and continuing through a lonnnggg finish ending warm with a tannin lining. Perfect with a seven hour lamb leg roasted with navy beans.  A meal red or at least sipper with buffet nibbles to soften the ending. 87

FOWLES WINE 'ARE YOU GAME?' SHIRAZ 2012, Victoria, Australia, 13.7%  XD 4g/L, #327320  $17.05  (Tasted January 20, 2015)

A General listing and rated 5 by Rod Phillips.  My notes: A sniff, a sip and I aerated. Very sharp and full of white pepper ready to attack your buds. Aerating takes away the initial intense bite leaving a tasty blend of immature berries. Ruby deepened by smoky soot and leaving a viscous film to slowly build a rounded rim dropping a veil of tears. The first sip separates bright fruit from forest floor with drying tannins lasting through a long bitter finish. Quaff for intensity or slurp for part red currant with touch of chokecherry. Not a sipper so much as a red to match Texas chile or spice rubbed back ribs. Possibly cellar for five years to help mellow intensity. Overpowered a seven hour leg of lamb. Save for a beefy sauce. 82

CHARLES & CHARLES RED BLEND 2013, Washington State, USA,  13.9%  D  8g/L,  #363838 $15.95  (Tasted January 25, 2015)

A General listing.  The Book shows the 2012 vintage and a rating of 4.  My notes: A blend of 68% Cabernet Sauvignon and 32% Syrah. A blend of 68% Cabernet Sauvignon and 32% Syrah. The colour is deep purplish ruby. A faint black cherry is prominent on the first sniff. A scent of  blueberry comes next, some white pepper for brightness and soft blackberry in between, a balance that makes for a pleasing sipper. Also there's an appealing velvet touch, dry tannins and a warmth to carry the total through a long finish. Can be paired with a broad spectrum of flavourful meat entrees. My choice would be Beef Wellington or a Roast with Yorkshire Pudding with lots of gravy. Cellar several years staying at present peak or even improve with soft chocolate tones. With an empty bottle at 1.5 lbs so much for the eco system.  92

OATLEY TIC TOK POCKETWATCH CABERNET SAUVIGNON CENTRAL RANGES 2011, New South Wales, Australia, 14.0%  D  8g/L, #187179   $12.85*  (Tasted January 28, 2015)

A General listing and rated 5 by Rod Phillips. *Price reduced from $16.00. The LCBO shows this wine as Discontinued.  My notes:  A deep purple colour with a smooth film that leaves a rounded rim quickly showing a ring of tears. Full-bodied, tart with a blueberry blackberry flavour dense and bright touching the palate and continuing as a long, sweet berry finish. Moderate not major warmth. Moderate tannins that balance savoury grapes. Sip solo or with pigs-in-a-blanket, ie. buffet fare. Serve with steaks, lamb kebobs or beefburgers - very flexible. Should keep for several years gaining a point or two.  90

ROOT: 1 CARMENERE COLCHAGUA VALLEY 2012, Donihue, Chile, 13.5%  D  7g/L, #350546  $12.80  (Tasted January 17, 2015)

A General listing and rated 4 by Rod Phillips. Produced by Vina Ventisquero Ltda. My notes: The roots of the vines planted were unaffected by disease of the early years in Chile. The colour is a purple tinted ruby, opaque to view. A swirl leaves a medium film with a ragged rim flowing wide slow legs. A sniff reveals a background of ripened blackberries but polite, shows a tartness to the nose and palate as well as subtle smoky liquorice. Full with a centre part muted where freshness could be although there's a breadth to the taste with an acid high and a smoky low. A different sipper that would complement savoury steaks, barbecued ribs and hamburgers. If preferred, cellaring for several years could level peaks. I found it a super drink-now consequently an excellent value. 92
VILLA PONCIAGO GRAND VINS BEAUJOLAIS-VILLAGES 2012, Fleurie, France, 12.0% XD  4g/L,  #325134  $14.95  (Tasted January 22, 2015)

A General listing and rated 4 by Rod Phillips.  My notes:  A clear deep ruby colour leaving a thin film to drain slowly from a lace edge. A dusty light cherry scent almost negligible and the first sip has a fine tannin balanced by a moderate acid followed by a thin cherry. The finish is short on body ending with  a layer of dry dust and faint fruit. Past peak (if there was one). Have with grilled chicken or Cornish hen.  80

CASA LAPOSTOLLE GRAN SELECCION CARMENERE 2012, Rapel Valley, Chile, 13.5%  D  7g/L,  #168740   $14.90  (Tasted January 23, 2015)

A General listing and rated 5 by Rod Phillips. The LCBO shows this as Discontinued.  My notes:  The 2008 vintage was tasted on November 22, 2010 with an 89 rating - price $15.95. The 2012 vintage is a deep purple almost black with a viscous layer flowing a ring of slow tears. The nose has a softness matching its full blackberry and plum scent beautifully balanced with black pepper that develops from the first sip until a bit brash. If you lean toward a dense full-bodied red, quaff. If you prefer a meal red with tannins and acid to complement a rare beef roast or T-bone, sip more moderately. The finish has a full dryness undisturbed by latent bright fruit. Cellaring five years should quell the beast. 92

MICHEL LYNCH MERLOT GRAN  VIN DE BORDEAUX 2011, Bordeaux, France,  13.0%  XD  4g/L, #361550  $17.05  (Tasted January 29, 2015)

A General listing and rated 41/2 by Rod Phillips.  My notes:  There's a bitter side to a lightly flavoured first sip that encouraged aerating - but not yet. There's a purple tint to the dense ruby and the thin film runs tears quickly from a smooth rim. Fine tannins, very dry and a light red cherry flavour starts a moderate finish. On the rough side of Merlot, minimum finesse, perhaps past peak. Aeration removes some of the bite but bramble shows. Overall aeration is not recommended. Have with meat lovers pizza - was good with lamb burgers.  83

BODEGA VOLCANES DE CHILE SUMMIT RESERVA CABERNET SAUVIGNON SYRAH  2013, Rapel Valley, Chile,  14.0% D  xG/L,  #350553  $10.95  (Tasted February 2, 2015)

A General listing and rated 4 by Rod Phillips. My notes:  A rocking motion leaves a viscous film with an ebbing ring of tears. A swirl coats the glass then slowly forms a rim draining through long legs. The colour is  charcoal ruby. A sniff notes a subtle scent of black cherries tainted by vanilla and a delicate tang. Not much fruit in the first sip although a fine tannin, a light acid and dark fruit combination is an OK introduction. Finishing dry with a woody flat blackberry and lasting long in the mouth could make this an adequate sipper but I'd say more of a grilled or broiled red meat dinner wine.  A drink-now.  84

TEMPUS TWO 'LIMESTONE COAST' CABERNET MERLOT 2011 , Pokolbin, New South Wales, 13.5% D  7g/L, #308197  $8.75*  (Tasted February 1, 2015) 

A General listing and rated 4 by Rod Phillips. Discontinued by the LCBO.  My notes: The same vintage of this wine (priced $16.95) was tasted in May 2014 and rated 90. There's a deep ruby red with a cardinal glint waiting to be sipped. The film lays still while accumulating at a rounded rim then drop a few slow tears - a tilt rains a ring of slow legs. A woody soft oak aroma on a ripe cherry base is inviting as a late night solo sipper. Luscious, velvety with fine tannins describe a first impression then adds ripe raspberry cherry to flavour a smoky smooth finish. Serve with lamb chops, lamb souvlaki or savoury seven hour leg of lamb. Ageing has mellowed earlier acids and balanced now's tannins with soft fruit for lip licking appeal.  91   

LA MASCOTA CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2012,  Mendoza, Argentina, 14.0%  D  7g/L, #292110  $13.95  (Tasted February 4, 2015) 

A General listing and rated 4 by Rod Phillips. WineAlign rates this vintage 2.5.  My notes:  An opaque to view ruby with  film that sticks forever before receding leaving a lacy rim and set in concrete tears. The first sip is silky, viscous on the lips and drying tannins throughout the mouth. A flavour of flat blackberries and a light acid, full-bodied, penetrating going into a long unexciting finish. Leave judging for several sips so fullness can express itself - not as warm as expected, a quiet smoky sipper to have with a grilled assortment, a buffet of soft cheeses and fatty appies, or serve with beef ribs and T-bones. Too late to cellar.  PS. And an eco-unfriendly 1.5lb bottle. 83

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

The 500 Best-Value Wines in the LCBO 2015

The 3rd and 4th editions of  Rod Phillips’ book The 500 Best-Value Wines in the LCBO were reviewed earlier in this blog and I found the new content in this recent release worth the purchase. On my way through I gained an alternate perspective of LCBO practises as well as a grading of many new products most of which are already on LCBO shelves. From an earlier review: "The writing style remains relaxed and concise. There's no flamboyancy in either the early chapters, written for someone new to wine, or in the tasting notes for each of the wines... ".   

The section 'How I Describe The Wines' details the author's approach that avoids reference to specific fruits, spices and florals arguing 'very few people can distinguish these flavours in wine'.  This is one aspect to which I don't subscribe. A large portion of my tasting dictionary is based on the local fruit, spices and florals experienced growing up in Ontario, travelling across the provinces and to wineries in other countries. Tasting notes in the Book use words such as 'well textured', 'dense', 'full-bodied', 'smooth', 'tannic', 'well structured', etc., I call these the 'mechanics' of a wine. They are the structure and framework on which the scents and flavours are borne. In my opinion one supports the other and wine is not completely described without a balance of both. 

My wife recently asked about a new wine* brought home to try. "There's something about this wine that lasts - not fruity but smooth and full in the mouth - it's different" she said. I sipped from my glass with the followup "I'd say it's similar to the subtle sweetness and smoky density of the Australian liquorice we sometimes have". Her response surprised me - "now that you say it I can see it, feel it, smell it!"   (*Argentinan Vina Alicia Paso de Piedra Malbec 2010.)

In this example I knew my audience. If I had said the same thing in a public tasting group I likely would have heard a few snickers. If I had stayed with 'smooth, full-bodied and well textured' it likely would have brought puzzled looks from my wife still trying to understand the missing elements in the wine just tasted. Tasting is using each of our senses and then using our ability to describe enough aspects to reach understanding - communicating.

Communication styles vary and can be different if attempting to find common ground among a wide audience. Perhaps this author's view, an international wine judge and award winning journalist, has found common ground. North American tastes and aromas could be completely out of context in eastern countries. Words such as 'well textured', 'dense', 'full-bodied', 'smooth', 'tannic', 'well structured', etc., the  'mechanics' of a wine, may be more easily assimilated than scents and flavours based on 'Mac apples, Bosc pears, Damson plums' or could that be 'Mango. Papaya, Kiwi and Quava'. Words communicate. If it works, as it does for hundreds of critics, then their notes have been effective. A professional critic knows his audience and modifies his language for best clarity.

I'd also amplify another observation brought forward in the Book. That's an increase in prices suggesting 'a dollar or more' for wines on the General shelves. Since I purchase, mostly below $20, labels released by Vintages, I also find increases but more frequently in the 20 - 30% range. Well known wines that are $18.95 at the winery become $26 in Vintages. Customers with the means accept these uplifts as reasonable levies to help a cash strapped Provincial government. Prices go up to solve a current shortfall but seldom come down when the urgency has gone. Those without income flexibility often find quality no longer available at their price point. Avoiding plunk, or 'crap' as one journalist summarized, is becoming difficult.

Another difference is the Book's claim that one vintage is as good as another. I find each vintage has its own story. At the lower price point there's an opportunity for varieties to be blended and for lower grades of grapes to constitute much of the wines at this level. Each vintage can be highly dependent on varying quality in wide areas of a wine region. Individual wineries can negotiate with their buyers for 'new' entry level labels based on annual availability of marginal crops. Be sure to check the vintage before you purchase.

Consistent referral to the Book will help break the habit of buying the same ole stuff while, hopefully, not bringing home plonk. Whether wine consumers want to break from current tastes and habits is an open question. Once a Leaf always a Leaf! to use a local sports sentiment.

My use of the Book is to explore 'new' wines, of which there are 60 reds and 31 whites, in particular those blends or grapes hoping to broaden my tasting experience.  The plan is to taste selections in the next few weeks in Part 2 of The 500 Best-Value Wines in the LCBO 2015. 

As always, just my opinion,

Ratings Summary:
96-100 Extraordinary
90 - 95 Outstanding
86 - 89 Interesting to Excellent
80 - 85 Drinkable to Enjoyable
70 - 79 Uninteresting to Simple
60 - 69 Unpleasant
50 - 59 Unacceptable

5  Stars        It’s hard to imagine better quality (94-100 points).
4 ½  Stars     Excellent quality (90-93 points). 
4 Stars         Very good quality (87-89 points).
3 ½ Stars    Good quality (85-86 points).
3 Stars    Well-made wine but without distinction (82-84 points).