Our story so far:
It’s Saturday April 15th, 2016. The day is special as the KGBO of the People’s Republic of Ontario is releasing a fresh batch of wine. The compliant citizens of the republic are streaming into the sole place they are allowed to have the chance of buying a decent wine. The shelves are full of wine. These shelves hold a lot of mediocrity. No worries as there is one wine in the store that is quite extraordinary. The KGBO placed a small supply of the 2009 Muga Prado Enea Gran Reserva onto the shelves. A few astute citizens recognize that this bottle might just be a gem. No one knows that this is a special bottle better than Fernando, who is visiting Toronto from Burgos Spain. He knows the Muga winery well. He knows that Prado is a great bottle and, with a slightly smug smile, he places a bottle into his shopping cart.
As Fernandao heads towards the checkout an announcement comes over the PA system. The Prado is oversold and the KGBO is offering $50 compensation for anyone willing to give up their bottle. “Mierda que”, thinks Fernando. I will enjoy this wine with the Brandada de bacalao that I will cook for tonight’s dinner. Three other people accept the offer but Fernando keeps a close eye on his prize as he puts the bottle on the checkout counter.
“Sir, it is KGBO policy that you are to surrender this bottle. This bottle is needed for an important employee tasting this evening.” Fernando is taken back. “No” he declines firmly and then a sudden expression of confusion appears on his well-tanned face. “Sir, we need that bottle for our employees.” Fernando’s confusion increases. In Spain, he buys wine from his friends and no has spoken to him in this tone. The words he is hearing made no sense to him. He grabs the bottle of Prado and walks towards the back of the store. He needs time to think.
When security arrives Fernando shields the bottle like he was protecting an injured child. Alas, passive resistance has its limits. A tazered Fernando cuts his head as he falls to the ground. Stunned and confused he loses his wine and is dragged out of the building. The other patrons capture everything on their phones. They upload their videos and update their Facebook status. The videos go viral.
On Sunday April 16, the president of the KGBO holds a press conference to say that “KGBO policies and procedures were properly followed and the 2009 Muga Prado had elements of ripe blueberry, vanilla, coffee and chocolate and was probably the best Muga he ever tasted.”
Food and glasses are ready in the secret location of the Muddle Bunker beneath King Street in Toronto.
Please excuse the cheesy and opportunistic story but, given current events, I couldn’t think of a better way to mention the Prado. Thanks to Don Billy, the Muddle team did get to taste this great wine. I get the feeling that the security thugs would have tried the same trick with Don Billy. However, they quickly remembered that, as the Godfather of the Toronto Dental Underworld, he can meet force with force. Just as Pompey’s Legends backed away from engaging Caesar, Don Billy marched into Rome and secured us a bottle.
As of Saturday, there was supply in the KGBO system but no bottles remained in the entire republic by the end of that day. It’s a shame as I was hoping that you could have the opportunity to buy one. I was shut out too. Typing the code (743310) into www.lcbo.com results in “no products found.” Let’s hope that we see more of this wine in a future release.
I’d strongly encourage you to find room in your budget for a bottle of the $73 Jacquesson Cuvée No. 739 Extra Brut Champagne (234120). If you are in La Belle Province you can pick this wine up for $71. The 739 is an extraordinary wine at a great price. There is so many things going on in this wine. Delicious and complex. The wine is retailing in the People’s Republic for the same price as in the Excited States of America ($55US). Based on my double rule (doubling the US$ price roughly accounts for exchange, KGBO markup duties and taxes) you could expect to pay as much as $110CAD here.
This wine is a great example of the care we need to use when looking at the numeric scores of wine critics particularly when those scores are being doled out by James Suckling or James Halliday. Suckling gave the 739 wine a 92, practically the same score that he gave to a $16 Chilean Pinot Noir (discussed later) that no one in our group could drink. We fought to have another glass of the 739 and without hesitation dumbed our Echeverria into the spit bucket. I cannot think of a better way to illustrate the difference between a wine scored 92 and one scored 91. Jhezzzz. These scores are not even jokes. The scores are not even jokes because jokes are funny at least some of the time.
The value winner in for sparkling wine in this release is the $20 Conde de Haro Brut Cava 2013 (168559) from Muga. Yes, another good wine from Muga. No, they don’t pay me or give me free wine or pay for trips or are holding my children hostage or have compromising pictures of me. No, I don’t own shares in the company. The posted description of this wine is pretty accurate “Full of bread, toasted almond and apples. Lovely texture, very expressive and full of personality.” Stock up for the summer and send me a thank you note in the fall. This wine retails for $22US in the good-old USA so you are getting a major bargain here in the People’s Republic.
One white wine in this release that is worth your hard-earned money is the $22 Mitchell Watervale Riesling 2014 (487785). Nice acidity, citrus, a bit of floral and a wonderful oily mouth feel that I value. The taste lingers (the wine has good length), it’s dry and does not disappoint. In Australia, this wine retails for $18CAD so, all things considered, the price you are paying here is pretty good.
Another good white wine to purchase is the $16 Muralhas de Monção Vinho Verde 2015 (80374). You may know Vinho Verde as the fun summer wine with a lovely spritz. You buy a bottle for $10 and drink on your deck or dock or whatever. The Muralhas is a Vinho Verde that will open your eyes to the possibility that Vinho Verde can grow up, lose most of that spritz and take on some complexity. The local wine critics think this one is a patio wine but the Muddle team thought that this wine was worthy of a place at your dinner table.
Rose fans should stock up on the $15 Château Lauduc Classic Rosé 2016 (491860). It may be because this wine is primarily Cabernet Franc but for $15 there is some stuff going on in this wine, including some structure (tannins) on the finish and a bit of bitterness. It’s bone dry, has some minerality and red fruit flavors. A word of caution. When we first opened this wine the smell took you directly to funky town. Very unpleasant. If this happens to you (it didn’t happen on my second bottle) decant it first or give it some time in an open bottle and in your glass. The funkiness goes away and you are left with a great value. The local critics felt that this wine was simple. They should have given it more air time.
The good value red wines we tasted from this release was the $20 Domaine des Quatre Vents Fleurie 2014 (2378). This wine pushes a lot of the right buttons. Good fruit, some earthy undernotes, smoke, peppery and decent tannins. It retails for $20US in the Excited States and for $22 in Quebec. Therefore, the price you pay the government here is good value.
The other is the $16 Lorca Selección Monastrell 2008 (380238). Monastrell is the same grape as Mourvedre, and yes, you can go to LCBO and buy a wine that is nearly 10 years old for $16. Dark cherries, Asian spices, smoke, nice firm tannins. It’s a decent and ready to drink…a wine that is a little different.
Looking for a novelty wine? One that is not drinkable but will generate debate and discussion? Then go buy a bottle of the $16 Montefino Tinto Reserva 2010 (165159). Assemble your guest with the ladies on one side of the room and the gentlemen on the other. Ask them to smell and describe the wine. In our group, the guys said the wine smelled like “used urinal pucks” and “old hockey equipment”. The ladies described the smell as “manly” and “quite interesting”. Attention Calvin Klein…maybe there is a new men’s cologne formula to be had.
The men described the taste as, well, “not good” (after all… what do you expect when tasting something that smells like a used urinal puck). The ladies described the taste as “disappointing…it’s like everyman I met…after I got to know him… he was disappointing”. We managed to recover from this awkward moment (it was kind of awkward because there were men in the room and we apparently smell like old hockey equipment if we are lucky). How? By using the time-tested technique of comic relief by reading out loud the comments from the wine critics “If you’re a fan of more mature wines with complex earth, leather, dried fruit and spice notes, don’t miss this one.” Good times.
In fairness, maybe we got a bad bottle but no one at Saturday’s tasting were in a hurry to test that theory.
Wines that fall into the “okay” category include the:
- $22 Louis Bouillot Perle d’Aurore Brut Rosé Crémant de Bourgogne (48793), which is an okay dry sparkling rose with predominantly cherry flavors
- $14 Casal de Ventozela Espadeiro Rosé 2016 (450841), with primarily strawberry flavours
- $20 Barón de Magaña 2010 (280552), which was okay but tasted old and tired and lacked the appeal that were present in the other wines we tasted
Wines to avoid include the:
- $16 Echeverria Gran Reserva Pinot Noir 2014 (485284), a fruit bomb and little else (shame on you James Suckling, who gave this wine 91 points)
- $25 Rockcliffe Third Reef Chardonnay 2015 (480202), concentrated vanilla and apples, just too forward and simple (shame on you James Halliday, who gave this wine 93 points)
- $22 Michel Gassier Nostre Païs 2014 (295410), flat and boring
- $17 Alkoomi White Label Sémillon/Sauvignon Blanc 2016 (428383), simple and lacked appeal
Use the find store feature on the LCBO website (www.lcbo.com) to determine where you can buy wines that interest you. The locator on http://www.lcbo.com works better than the locator on http://www.vintages.com. Copy the product number, perform a search with that number and use the “find a store” feature.
Product Consultants can request a transfer from another store to the one that is better for you. The KGBO may be the controlling monopoly but you are the customer.
The next Vintages release is Saturday April 29. Hopefully I will have my tax return done and be able to post comments on Tuesday May 2.