Do you know any sweatshops I could call? (22 July 2017 Vintages Release)

Our story so far

Wine critic and cigar aficionado James Suckling needs help. His followers are diminishing. His social media presence non-existent. He is convinced that the second issue holds the key to the first and he is calling one of the favors owed to him by TheMuddler.

James: I need more exposure…Facebook, twitter, Instagram. Okay MuddleMan, you need to help me.

TheMuddler: Me? Help? With social media? What do I know about social media exposure? I write a silly blog with 9 followers.

James: You? You know shit. But you do know Justin. He’s the king of social media. Christ even Trump loves him. You need to call Justin and get his advice on what I need to do.

TheMuddler: I barely know the man. He came once to my Vintage tastings and frankly it was a disaster.

James: But, he came, he tasted wine, he owes you. Give him a call.

[A couple of days go by…]

James: Christ, what took so long? No forget that. What did Justin say?

TheMuddler: He said that you have to invest in socks.

James: Socks!? What the fuck does that mean?

TheMuddler: Well, as I understand it let’s say that you are reviewing a Fuzion Malbec and you decide to give it a score of (say) 94 points.

James: Sounds plausible…go on.

TheMuddler: Instead of handing out those gold stickers to put on bottles you get the Fuzion logo along with the 94 embroidered on your socks. Then you get yourself a photo op, you pull up your pant leg, your sock and your smiling face is captured in a photo, you post, you tweet, Huffington Post picks it up and Bob’s Your Uncle you are a hit. Apparently, it’s that easy.

James: Embroidered socks? I need a Fuzion Malbec embroidered sock?

TheMuddler: Well, Justin kind-of owns the embroidered sock “brand”. And he’s cuter and has better hair than you. Do be a copycat. Gloves will come across as old and stuffy. You need something young and fresh. If I were you I’d go with condoms, cloth condoms to place over wine bottles. On a cloth-wine-bottle condom, there will lots of space so you could include a tagline too.

James: Such as?

TheMuddler: Such as “James Suckling – protecting wine from low scores.”

James: Do you know any sweatshops that I could call?


The KGBO (a.k.a. the LCBO) our all-knowing-and-caring-government monopoly, had a release last Saturday. Once again, Muddle Central was active on Sunday afternoon buying and tasting wines and trying to determine the bottles worthy of your hard-earned money.

Outstanding wines

The $17 Domaine des Tourterelles Macon Villages 2015 (VINTAGES#: 489799) is a winner. The Vintages panel must have stopped at the medical marijuana dispensary before tasting this wine. It’s not “soft and charming” but a Chardonnay with some body, ripe fruit and an enjoyable slightly bitter finish. Interesting wine and good value.


The $22 Bernard Fouquet Le Petit Clos Dry Vouvray 2015 (VINTAGES#: 489468) is delicious. Solid tropical and apple fruit, good acidity and a long finish. A home run here. This wine also belongs in the collector’s corner as aging it a few years would be rewarding.


I can’t say enough good things about the $47 Produttori del Barbaresco Barbaresco 2012 (VINTAGES#: 708826). I love the Nebbiolo grape and the cooperative that makes this wine provides the world with a good product at a good price. During our tasting, we experienced the classic Nebbiolo nose of Roses, tar and cherry fruit. You’ll not tire of smelling this wine. On the palate, this well balanced wine also delivered. Suggest that you decant this wine at least 2 hours before serving. This wine also belongs in the collector’s corner as it will age and evolve for many years.

If you are in the Excited States of America you can buy this wine for $29USD. So, using the double the cost rule (to account for duty, exchange and the exorbitant KGBO markup) one could expect to pay as much as $58 here. Our KGBO is providing good value but they could do better. The 2013 vintage sells in La Belle Province for $37. While it is not the same vintage, the significant price difference illustrates that the LCBO needs to take lessons from the folks running the SAQ. As a monopoly, the SAQ are doing a better job serving their customers.

Collector’s corner

My best way to describe tasting the $38 Pearl Morissette Cuvée Dix-Neuvième Chardonnay 2014 (VINTAGES#: 303602) is that you are in for an experience. Great texture, fruit, aromas, and balance with a touch of oxidation. We have to pay for good Canadian wine and this one is worth the price. There are very few bottles left in the KGBO system. If you are not in Ottawa you likely will have to ask for an in-store transfer or contact the winery.


I am not a fan of Ontario Riesling and a friend once told me that Riesling made by Charles Barker might change my mind. I find most Ontario Riesling to be one dimensional with a flavor profile that reminds me of canned apple juice. My friend was right about the $35 Charles Baker Picone Vineyard Riesling 2013 (VINTAGES#: 241182). It’s a sweet wine but the acidity balances it out. There are apple flavors but they are not canned and there is other citrus fruit flavors present. Great length. Buy this wine to show your friends that Ontario Riesling can be good. I can bring myself to buy a bottle but with a $35 price tag I cannot rationalize adding it to my collection (for example, I compare this wine to the $21 Dr. Hermann Erdener Treppchen Riesling Spätlese 2010 (VINTAGES#: 181917) that was part of the last Vintage release and conclude the Erdener is significantly better value).


Value wines to consider

The $17 Cathedral Cellar Brut Sparkling 2010 2010 (VINTAGES#: 296426) is a good value sparkler. The wine offers some complexity, including having fruit components other than apple (apple being a common flavor profile for a sparkling wine that is not from Champagne). This wine would be popular at your party and would not break the bank.


The $18 Xavier Côtes du Rhône 2015 (VINTAGES#: 297317) would be a good wine to accompany food from your BBQ. Good berry fruit, smoky, pleasant floral aspects and decent tannins. I experienced heat on the finish so I’m guessing the declared 14.5% alcohol is on the low side.

On a side-note, I picked up an order of Clos Mogador 2013 and noticed that the KGBO placed a sticker over the 15% declared alcohol level. The sticker indicates an alcohol level of 16.3%. I struggle to imagine how I will enjoy this wine so it may be going back. I blame Packer for encouraging producers to make wine in this style. These levels of alcohol are such a turn off. We are not high-school students looking for a cheap buzz.


If you are looking for a crowd pleaser for a gathering or a house red wine consider the $20 La Tremenda Monastrell 2012 (VINTAGES#: 490011). Ignore the essay-styled tasting notes. Good fruit, good structure and acidity. A bit high in alcohol.


Wines to avoid

The $20  Villa Sandi Cuvée Oris Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore (VINTAGES#: 738542) does not live up to the hype in the tasting notes. It’s too floral and sweet for my taste but if you like that style it’s an okay buy.

The $27 A To Z Wineworks Pinot Noir 2014 (VINTAGES#: 229781) is primarily a fruity new world Pinot Noir that lacks structure. My palate is not sophisticated enough to pick up the mushroom, smoke and spices described in the tasting notes (and others involved in the tasting agreed).

The $35 Luca Malbec 2014 (VINTAGES#: 167312) is a nice Malbec but not worth the asking price. This wine is aimed at the lover of Argentina Malbec who has a large budget. I find it interesting that one wine critic describes this wine as sophisticated and another says that it lacks lacks some elegance. I do appreciate the honestly when they publish both views.

The $18 Arboleda Single Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc 2015 (VINTAGES#: 510339) is… my view…awful. I couldn’t get past the vegetable nose that reminded me of green tomato chow-chow. What I smelled and tasted could not differ more than James’s tasting notes. If you are a fan of this style of Sauvignon Blanc or are looking for a wine to serve with a hotdog smothered with chow-chow and relish then with Bud’s For You. At our tasting, most of the wine went down the sink.

The $30 Castelforte Amarone della Valpolicella 2013 (VINTAGES#: 496414) comes across as fruity and sweet. Fans of Amarone would be better served with paying more for a wine more representative of this style and region. You are worth it.

I could not get past the predominance of dill on the $17 Las Cepas Costalarbrol 2013 (VINTAGES#: 483404). In fairness, the local wine critics like this wine as did a couple of people at the tasting. Dill is not uncommon on red Rioja wine and I just don’t enjoy wines that display this attribute.



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The Wine Muddler

The Wine Muddler blog is a reflection, criticism, and research of The LCBO Vintages Release. It is composed by Rick Wood from Toronto Ontario. The Wine Muddler is the satirical musings of a man muddling through life in search of good wine

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