that ship has sailed for me already (11 november 2017 vintages release)

Please note that TheMuddler will be muddling his way through Italy over the next three weeks. Therefore, there will not be a post on the Vintages November 21 release. Observations on the December 9 release will be posted on December 12.

Our story so far: The Globe’s Marsha Lederman wrote an excellent article about the collateral damage that occurs when a powerful man is outed. She highlights the damages caused by Louis C. K. to his co writer of the show Better Things. This article and the seemingly daily revelations coming out of Hollywood got me thinking about powerful men in the wine industry. For example, if James Suckling behaved like Louis C. K. what do you think would happen? Would the dialog go something like:

James: I’ve tasted your wine and I like it a lot. Before I write up my review I want you to take this.

Female Winemaker: It looks like a hotel room key. Why would you give me a hotel room key?

James: It’s the extra key to my room. Be there around 8:30. I’ll be done my daily cigar by then. Do your hair up nice and wear something sexy.

Female Winemaker: And, if I don’t come to your room what happens?

James: Well, I would be forced to give your wine a low score.

Female Winemaker: Like a 95 instead of a 96?

James: Exactly!

Female Winemaker: I’ll take my chances with James Halliday.

But neither of the two James is the alpha male of the wine industry. Even in retirement, Parker is the man. What if you found out that Parker behaved like Harvey Weinstein? Would looking at a Parker wine score of 95+ then make you feel as icky as watching a Kevin Spacey movie? That ship has sailed for me already.

Outstanding wines

The KGBO (a.k.a., the LCBO) wants more of your money. People are starting to think about gift giving so in this release our wine monopoly seemed to have focused on higher-price-point wines. I didn’t find any value oriented wines that I would consider to be outstanding purchases (although there are a few decent purchases identified below). There are two wines, however, that if you have the budget then the wines are outstanding buys.

The first is the $63 Weinbach Cuvée Laurence Gewurztraminer 2015 —VINTAGES#: 581975. The posted tasting notes of Ian D’Agata are spot on and I would add that the balance provided by this wine is wonderful. I’m not a huge Gewurztraminer fan but when a wine like this one comes along it changes my mind. It’s wonderful alone and wonderful with food. The price that you are paying is okay. It retails in the Excited States for $35USD (so with exchange and taxes and KGBO inspired tariffs you could be paying up to $70CAD).


The second is the $70 Domaine Servin Bougros Grand Cru Chablis 2013 Chardonnay—VINTAGES#: 145623.  Yep, if you are willing to pay the $70 you can have a white Burgundy grand cru. The wine in this bottle is the real deal and it would age nicely in a cellar. If you pop the cork of a bottle take your time with this wine. It will evolve and change in your glass as the wine get exposed to air and warms up. A lovely experience. And the price? Well, if you think we are gouged in the People’s Republic of Ontario then consider that our comrades in British Columbia have to pay $100 if they want this wine. Our friends in the USA pay $80USD. You may not like paying $70 for a bottle of wine but on a relative basis it’s a bargain.



Collectors corner

The $55 d’Arenberg The Dead Arm Shiraz 2013—VINTAGES#: 430512 likely will be a perpetual recommendation of mine. We tasted the 2013 next to the 2005 vintage and the group got a look into the future. Buy this wine and age it for several years and enjoy the experience.


I think that the $39 Château Bouscassé Vieilles Vignes Madiran 2006 Tannat Blend—VINTAGES#: 132415 will reward the patient collector. We tasted this wine along with a bottle from the 1998 vintage. The 1998 had years of life left and had a taste profile that would cause even experts to believe they were drinking a decent aged red Bordeaux wine. If you have the ability to age this wine another 10 years (more or less) then consider buying this wine. It also showed well after a few hours in the decanter so if you want to drink one earlier make sure you give it lots of air.


Wines to consider

The $20 abouré-Gontard Rosé Crémant de Bourgogne Sparkling—VINTAGES#: 460816 is okay. The red fruit is not out of balance and I enjoyed the acidity the wine provided. It’s fizz is so aggressive, however, that the experience with the bubbles resembles the one you experience when you drink soda pop. A good wine for Mimosas but a tiring wine to drink on its own.

If the European Union does not sue the KGBO for describing this Crémant as a “Champagne experience” then we should consider launching our own court action. I mean seriously…does the tasting panel really think this wine tastes anything like Champagne? What a shameful write-up.


The $23 Clos de los Siete 2013 Malbec Blend—VINTAGES#: 622571 is a bold and balanced red wine with nice structure. This wine is drinkable now and would make a good house red wine. A potential case buy, one where you drink some now and age the others to watch how the wine involves. A good buy.


The $33 Marie-Pierre Manciat Les Petites Bruyères Pouilly-Fuissé 2016 Chardonnay—VINTAGES#: 374553 is an okay buy for fans of the Pouilly-Fuissé style. For me, the perfume on the nose is not the type I like and I think there are better buys at this price point.


For a release with a theme of “the romance of France” there was a lot of Italian Chianti Classico. We selected and tasted four wines.

Our bottle of Lamole di Lamole Riserva Chianti Classico 2012 Sangiovese—VINTAGES#: 280651 was DOA (a flawed bottle).

The $31 Castello di Ama Chianti Classico 2014 Sangiovese—VINTAGES#: 515759 is fine but not worth the money. I adore this producer but 2014 was a poor year and I don’t think that this vintage is worth paying the asking price. It’s upsetting when a wine critic says “excellent quality for this difficult vintage” and, then gives it a score of 92. Well, it James Suckling at it again. Yes, that statement is technically correct but shouldn’t these critics have the consumer’s interest at heart? People has tons of wine buying options and you don’t have to buy a wine because it is “excellent quality for this difficult vintage.” For example, our group preferred the $23 Mazzei Ser Lapo Riserva Chianti Classico 2013 Sangiovese Blend—VINTAGES#: 288530 to the $31 Castello di Ama. The Mazzei Ser Lapo is a decent Chianti Classico at a decent price.


The winner of the Chianti Classico tasting group was the $45 Ruffino Ducale Oro Gran Selezione Riserva Chianti Classico 2012 Sangiovese Blend—VINTAGES#: 353201. This wine has a lot more complexity than the others Chiantis we tasted. Very enjoyable but, for me, it’s not worth the price.



Wines to avoid

The $23 Ardal Reserva 2006 Tempranillo Blend—VINTAGES#: 167700 is over oaked. Coconut explodes from the glass and dominates the taste. Decanting the wine did not help. Tasting the open bottle the following day didn’t help either. If you like this style of Spanish wine then it’s not a bad buy. But, for me, this wine is not enjoyable and one that I would avoid. Apparently, this is a re-release of the same vintage and the two releases could not be more different.

When I arrived at my LCBO store my product consultant said “you must be here to buy the Athos…everyone is calling…it’s flying off the shelves.” Against my better judgment I bought a bottle of the $29 Corte Medicea Athos 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot
—VINTAGES#: 475996 to taste.

The wine is selling fast because of the tasting note and the score of 99 out of 100. It takes a special person to come up with the pile of bullshit that is written to describe this wine. The tasting note even goes so far to say “one of the best ever red wines”. When the people in our group tasted this wine a puzzled expression appeared on their faces. The expression was not one of happiness that you would expect upon tasting “one of the best ever red wines.” The expression was one of confusion and mild disgust. This is an engineered wine that lacks any character. Save your money. Please.



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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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