something is rotten in pennsylvania (september 2, 2017 vintages release)

Our story so far is not a story at all. I learned this week that Pennsylvania’s liquor board is in the midst of a bribery investigation. My brain failed to find a way to find humorous satire in this news. Sorry.

You see, the People’s Republic of Canada is not the only country where the government controls the distribution of alcoholic beverages. For example, control boards exist in the Scandinavian countries. According to Wikipedia, seventeen states in the Excited States of America exercise some degree of government liquor distribution control. Pennsylvania is a state that operates with an approach that is very similar to the KGBO (a.k.a., the LCBO). I visited a Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board (PLCB) store this summer and could not help noticing the eerie similarities to the KGBO.

The scandal at the PLCB is a serious “pay to play” scheme. Alcohol producers and distributors used bribes (cash, trips, gifts, meals, sporting events and adult entertainment) to influence the PLCB’s decisions. Millions of dollars of fines have been handed out and people are facing jail time. Something is rotten, at least in Pennsylvania.

The PLCB is one of the USA’s largest wine buyer, exclusively making purchases for the state with the sixth largest population in the union. This should sound familiar to the citizens of the People’s Republic of Ontario, where the KGBO buys the wine for the most populous province is the dominion. Lead me not into temptation.

If a similar scandal emerges in Canada let’s hope it is not our normal low standards. I mean, was I the only one that was bored to tears with the Duffy affair?

Outstanding wines

Margan Family Hunter Valley Sémillon 2016 —VINTAGES#: 493338, $20, has an intriguing nose with a hint of smoke, great stone and tropical fruit flavors, acidity and length. A wine with complexity. You can age this wine or drink it now. Lovely.


Esprit Gassier 2016 Rosé —VINTAGES#: 490839, $20, has just about everything I look for in a Rosé. There is balanced red and citrus fruit, it is dry, good acidity and a touch of tannin on the finish. A really good Rosé.


Lealtanza Reserva 2011 Tempranillo —VINTAGES#: 208223, $20, has it all together, great fruit, complexity and structure at a great price (our friends in the Excited States pay $25USD for this wine). The red wine to buy in this release if you are able.


Wines to consider

Acrobat Pinot Noir 2014 —VINTAGES#: 421149, $30, is a fruit forward and balanced new world Pinot Noir. It’s a bit pricey (sells for $15USD in the Excited States) but a decent wine if you are a fan of Oregon Pinot Noir.


Domäne Wachau Terrassen Federspiel Riesling 2015 —VINTAGES#: 491902, $22, a wine where the published tasting notes do a pretty good job describing this wine (lots of citrus, good acidity). It’s too fruity for my taste but it was a wine that was appreciated and enjoyed by many of Sunday’s tasters.


Paul Jaboulet Aîné Les Jalets Crozes-Hermitage 2014 Shiraz/Syrah —VINTAGES#: 489443, $27, a wine where the published tasting notes describes the wine as having “rustic complexity”. We found it to be quite sophisticated and a polished Northern Rhone. It is a good price for a wine from this region and a fair price when compared to the amount my friends in the USA pay. A word of caution..the first bottle we opened was corked and the second bottle had a trace of funk on the nose. If you buy it be on guard for that smell of wet cardboard, have a backup bottle, and be prepared to return any flawed bottle for a refund.


Brancaia Chianti Classico 2015 Sangiovese —VINTAGES#: 519173, $25, needs air time to show its stuff. So give it an hour in a decanter before consuming. The wine slightly disappoints as the taste drops off noticeably in the mid-palate. Putting that aside, it’s an okay Chianti for your dinner table at an okay price.


Morgadio da Torre Alvarinho 2015 —VINTAGES#: 960955, $19, is an dry, enjoyable wine with bright fruit and good acidity. It’s a good patio wine.


La Chablisienne Chablis Beauroy 1er Cru 2014 Chardonnay —VINTAGES#: 490110, $35, is another wine that needs air time to show its stuff. So decanting this wine before consuming will result is a nice Chablis experience. The $35 price is reasonable for a Premier Cru Chablis.



Wines to avoid


The Foreign Affair Unoaked Chardonnay 2016 —VINTAGES#: 519009, $24, made using a partial appassimento process (a process where some of the grapes are dried before alcohol fermentation). While loved by the local wine critics no one in our tasting group enjoyed this wine.



Domaine Lafage Cuvée Nicolas Vieilles Vignes Grenache Noir 2015 —VINTAGES#: 354191, $17, is a jammy, fruity pie, fruit bomb that I didn’t enjoy.


Published by

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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