I have little doubt that you’ll pause before spending $28 for the Argyros Assyrtiko 2016 Assyrtiko—VINTAGES#: 387365. The pause will be caused by your brain wondering “why would a Greek wine command such a price?” Further, people who last year bought the 2015 vintage from the KGBO (a.k.a., the LCBO) for $22 will not just wonder but also think WTF? If you love a minerally / salinity / food friendly white wine forget the price and buy this wine.
We had the opportunity to do a side-by-side tasting of the 2016 vintage to the 2015 vintage. I can report with confidence that time in the bottle will enhance your purchase. If you are able to store this wine for a year or two then your efforts will be rewarded. If you are not willing or able to store this wine then I beg you to decant it for at least an hour before its consumption. We exposed the 2016 to lots of air and the difference air time makes in this wine is remarkable. It’s the difference between an overpriced fruit forward wine and a wine that is special. The posted tasting notes are accurate but the wine needs that air for the components to shine.
I initially thought that the massive 27% price increase was a blatant tax grab from the People’s Republic of Ontario but the limited information available online indicates that the price increase applies globally.
The clear value winner of this release is the $16 Avondale Jonty’s Ducks Pekin White 2015 Chenin Blanc Blend—VINTAGES#: 439554. The posted tasting notes are accurate and I would add that the wine has a touch of pleasant bitterness on the finish. This wine is a blend and my research indicates that there is Chenin Blanc, Roussanne, Muscat, Semillon, and Viognier in the mixture. This wine is good on its own and would work very well with food. I will be braving the Toronto cold weather and will bring home many bottles to enjoy. My bank account will appreciate my efforts.
There are two “Super Tuscan” wines in this release that deserve your attention. The first is the $35 Le Macchiole Bolgheri Rosso 2015 Red Blend—VINTAGES#: 483412. This wine is just delicious. There is great red and black fruit, nice acidity and tannins. You can drink this wine now or age it in your cellar. With a great producer and a good vintage you cannot go wrong. This is a wine with finesse. The price we are paying in the People’s Republic is not bad considering the amount of tax that is embedded in the $35 price. The wine sells for $30USD in the Excited States of America. If you lived in Italy you might make this €15 bottle your house wine.
The second is the $39 Poggio Verrano Chance 2007 Merlot/Cabernet Sauvignon/Cabernet Franc—VINTAGES#: 239707. The published tasting notes are accurate. The Chance will appeal to people that like full-bodied wines. The wine has power but it is balanced, delicious and very enjoyable. It’s a wine for hearty dishes and cold nights. It’s a decade old now and will easily age longer but I willing to bet if you buy this wine it will hard to keep your corkscrew away from the bottles.
The local wine critics believe the $30 Domaines Schlumberger Kessler Pinot Gris 2012 Pinot Gris—VINTAGES#: 249623 is mature and ready to drink. We fortunately were able to contrast the 2012 with a bottle of the 2006 vintage from Doctor C’s collection. Our conclusion? The 2012 needs some bottle time to shine. Decanting will not accelerate this natural aging process. Sure you can buy and enjoy this wine now but a few years in the bottle will make a big difference.The nose on the $60 Machard de Gramont Vieilles Vignes Nuits-Saint-Georges 2015 Pinot Noir—VINTAGES#: 539825 is intriguing. There is fruit and herbs and animal attributes that cause you to linger and wonder. I just love smelling this wine. On the palette bright red berries dominate and the intensity of fruit is off-putting. This is a wine that needs to age, perhaps for a long while, to give it a chance to come together. In time you may have a stunning wine or you may have a disappointment. There are no guarantees especially in Burgundy land.Wines to consider
If you are a fan of Shiraz and are looking for a good house red then consider trying the $20 Boschendal 1685 Shiraz 2015 Shiraz/Syrah—VINTAGES#: 542787. It’s a well balanced wine with black and red fruits flavors. The tannins provide decent structure and also a dusty finish that I enjoy. The South Africans are kicking ass in the value department.
I struggle to understand why Paolo Scavino would produce a 375ml bottle of their 2013 Barolo Nebbiolo—VINTAGES#: 531137. Scavino is a great producer that makes a polished style of Barolo. Yes, you can drink them early, especially when paired with food but most people buy Barolo to place in the cellar to mature for a few years. A collector typically doesn’t seek 375ml bottles as accepted wisdom is that wine in these small bottles does not age well. I think the reason one would buy the bottle in this release is to taste the 2013 vintage. It is a great vintage so, fair enough, if you wish to find out for yourself spend the $37 for a half bottle and give it a try. Wines to avoid
The $30 Patrick Chan Sparkling Blanc de Blancs 2011 Sparkling—VINTAGES#: 546291 is simple, appley and overpriced. If this wine was $15 it would be a decent sipper. I’ve yet to find a celebrity based wine that’s worth the asking price.
We may have been tired when we tasted the $23 Inzolia dei Fornelli 2016 Insolia—VINTAGES#: 539932 but we felt the content of the glass was not worth the asking price. In fairness the local wine critics love and praise this wine but on Sunday it failed to excite the group.
We found the $18 Novellum Chardonnay 2016 Chardonnay—VINTAGES#: 390781 to be thin, simple and not worth the money. The local wine critics love this wine. Frankly we struggled to pick up the attributes they experienced. There’s a disconnect between what we experienced from our bottle and the content of the tasting notes.
The published tasting notes on the $20 Jean-Paul Dubost Beaujolais Villages Climat le Tracot 2015 Gamay—VINTAGES#: 527051 are nonsense. Neil Martin describes this wine as superb. He must chew a lot of gum as we thought the flavor of Hubba Bubba Bubble gum dominated this wine (bubble gum flavor is a common trait in cheap Beaujolais). This wine has a long finish, unfortunately.
We were baffled by the scores that the $43 Secret de Schistes Syrah 2014 Shiraz/Syrah—VINTAGES#: 440669 received. This wine comes across as very commercial in style. There’s a lot of wood influences and the smell and flavors push you towards the cherry cola spectrum. The score of 95 from Jeb Dunnuck of Robert Parker is silly and it may be worth noting that previous vintages also received very high scores from this critic. The local wine critics also give this wine high scores. Also troubling is the 33% price increase since the previous release of this wine in the People’s Republic of Ontario. My money is best spent elsewhere.
Barone Ricasoli Rocca Guicciarda Riserva Chianti Classico 2014 Chianti—VINTAGES#: 943613 is peppery and light. I guess the dead give away was Suckling’s score of 91. That might be the lowest score he has handed out. Ever.
Suckling also granted the $17 Feudo Maccari Noto Nero d’Avola 2015 Nero d’Avola—VINTAGES#: 339101 a score of 91. I guess that I am just not a fan of the Nero d’Avola grape but on Sunday I was not alone. The other people in our tasting group quickly dumped their glasses and moved on too. A food wine perhaps but I have yet to figure it out.
The appealing attribute of the $22 Pinacle de Fakra 2012 Syrah/Cabernet Sauvignon—VINTAGES#: 641670 is the underlying earthy tones. But this curiosity fades quickly and you are left with beetroot and dried fruit flavors. This is another wine with a long finish, unfortunately. Two years ago the 2010 vintage retailed for $15. The 2012 is not worth that price either and I mention the prior price because this is the third wine in this release that I noted had a very significant price increase. One has to wonder why.