Wine of the Week for January 28, 2008

Red Guitar Old Vine Tempranillo/Garnacha 2005 - $12.85
Style: R3
Spain: Navarra

Here’s two Old World grapes done in a New World style. The nose presents spice and oak off the top, followed by caramel, dark berries, sassafras, vanilla, and ginger aromas. The velvety smooth palate has just hint of sugar, with juicy raspberry flavours and light tannins. Fairly full bodied, and very good length, with a touch of bitterness on the close. An intriguing dance between traditional and modern tastes … and development in the glass is amazing. Try with any sort of roast, goulash or steak & kidney pie. (LCBO 54007)

Worth looking for...

Duque de Viscu 2004 - $12.85
Style: R3
Portugal Dao

I noticed a few bottles of this one at a couple of different Vintages stores. It shows intense garrigue out of the gate, settling down to rich ripe red berries and a hint of spice. Rich and juicy with "old boot" tannins, and tasting of blackberry, blueberry and raisin atop a firm acid core. Rustic but with loads of character and may even become more interesting over the next two years. (Vintages 546309)

Wine of the Week for January 14, 2008

Drostdy-hof Chardonnay 2006 - $9.60
Style: W1
South Africa

Can an under $9 wine actually be good? Until Feb 3, the LCBO is offering a full dollar off this little gem. The nose shows tropical fruits, spiced apple, almond, and butter. A racy acidity supports green apple, baked lemon and toast flavours. Very good body and length, it's a bit young and nervous right now, but quite enjoyable. Just for fun, tuck a couple away to see what happens. A nice companion for ocean fish, pork or sea foods. (LCBO 343202)

There's been a lot of press coverage lately about the LCBO pushing the average price point on their store shelves. This doesn't mean that bargains will disappear, but it may make my job a bit trickier. What really concerns me, though, is that their stated mandate for VQA wines (i.e. actually Canadian wines) is a narrow price band - $10.95 - $13.95. That suggests that there will be more VQA wines for me to recommend to you, but based on past experience, I expect that this policy will translate to less choice, not more. We'll see...

Wine of the Week for January 7, 2008

Caves de Papes Cotes de Ventoux 2006 - $10.85
Style: R2

France: Rhone

Deep black cherry colour in colour, this grenache-based wine shows rich and spicy with a slightly gamey note. Aromas include plum, black currants and earth with a touch of leather. Round and creamy with a cool acidity, firm, slightly-dusty tannins, and dried berry flavours. Very good body and length. A bit young, but very yummy with loads of character. A good match with red meats, moussaka or lamb.

Worth a Look..

I've spoken out regularly on the market's steady move toward a just a few popular grapes. Here are two very good arguments to make every effort to preserve diversity in the vineyard. (My thanks to Mountain Road for "volunteering" these wines or review.)

Mountain Road Marechal Foch 2003 - $12.95
Style: R1

One of the best Hybrid grapes, Foch was instrumental in helping the Ontario wine industry get over its dependence on varieties such as Concord and Niagara. Deep black garnet colour, the wine shows rich spice, smoke, black currant, plum, and a bit of earth. There's a nippy spice on the palate, with firm tannins, cherry and blueberry flavours. Very good body and length. Light and fruity and very food friendly with just the right amount of "Foch funk".

Mountain Road Gamay 2003 - $12.95
Style: R1

In the event you don't know this bit of trivia, Gamay is the only red grape grown in Beaujolais, and it shows great promise for Ontario as well. Deep ruby garnet colour. The somewhat gamey nose shows prune, leather and smokey aromas. Very smokey on the palate, with firm tannins, cherry-cinnamon flavour and a light profile. Medium bodied and with very good length, it's on a par with the some of the best Beaujolais. Will last another two years in the cellar and it's an incredible bargain. Try with turkey or mainstream chili