from bad to worse (17 march 2018 vintages release)

In the news today we learned that the People’s Republic of Canada announced strict regulations on the packaging of legalized marijuana. Cannabis must be marketed in bags resembling No Frills potato chips sacks. The bags must have benign and boring labeling, contain a warning that the product contains THC and clearly state that consumption of the product may cause sudden hunger for raw cookie dough and other unhealthy but delicious snacks.

Packaging must also contain warning imagery of uncomplimentary pictures of unattractive people gorging themselves on chocolate or salty food items and staring aimlessly at inanimate objects. Ironically, one of the government-approved images is a picture of an obese man sitting in his underwear in front of a TV munching away on a large sack of No Frills potato chips.

Convenience store operators, fearing the imagery will result in a reduction in snack revenue, are outraged. Potato farmers, being a much more optimistic group, are acquiring hectares of land to expand their crop. The Pillsbury Dough Boy would neither confirm nor deny the construction of additional dough plants in the People’s Republic of Ontario. The Girl Guides of Canada announced that they have acquired the right to setup cookie stalls outside of authorized cannabis distribution sites.

In sympathy to the plight that the government is imposing on the cannabis industry, the Ontario wine industry decided to adopt similar packaging principles. Bags of wine will now be labeled “wine”, will clearly state that the contents contain alcohol and that consumption of the product may result in sleepiness and unintended procreation.

It will be up to the consumer to guess whether the wine is white or red or pink as knowing the wine’s color could result in increased consumption. Labelling imagery will focus on unattractive people passed out on public park benches in various states of undress. An industry spokesperson denied that Dan Aykroyd and James Sucklings were the lead male models for the photo shoot. Suckling rated the imagery 98 points.

Many wine-industry observers have pointed out that the decision really amounts to no change in current practices.

Enough silliness. Well, maybe just a few lines more.

So how is the KGBO doing these days?

The KGBO? Well, they were borderline for a while… then they crossed the border.

(I apologize to the author(s) of Ghostbusters for the two lines above).

I thought that the KGBO’s (a.k.a., the LCBO) last Vintages release (3 March 2018) was bad but the current release is worse. The theme of this release was wines from classic Euro regions. The wines we sampled from this release were of mediocre or poor quality or poor value. Recommending wines from this selection is challenging.

Once again, we failed to find a single still white wine that was exciting. It is hard to believe that the last time we found a white wine that I was comfortable recommending was a month and one-half ago. It’s an outcome that is shameful. Don’t you wish that we had a shopping alternative to the LCBO?

There is good news to share. While you may not wish to buy the wines in this release, if you did, you now can order all the wines in this Vintage catalog online. I assume that this ability will apply to future releases. The LCBO was behind the times and I think we need to thank the people in their back office that worked hard to bring this ability to customers.

Ordering online is a time saver. Now there is no need to engage in that frustrating search to find the store and the place in the store that has the wine that you wish to try. Ordering online will also save you money by avoiding (or minimizing) those impulse buys to which we all succumb.

Outstanding wines

From the 3 February 2018 release the $17 Stars Brut Nature Reserva Cava 2015—VINTAGES#: 515221 provides good value. Several people in our tasting group preferred this wine to the champagne discussed below. This sparkling wine is nicely balanced, not overly complex, has decent length and finishes nicely. It will work when the setting is sipping it on its own and will work with food such as shellfish and other seafood. This wine is not available online. If a store near you does not have supply ask your product consultant to do a store transfer. wine_104746_web

Fans of dessert wines probably can’t go wrong with buying the $30 Grand Tokaj Tokaji Aszú 5 Puttonyos 2013—VINTAGES#: 539650. The posted tasting notes are pretty accurate. We had the opportunity to contrast this wine with another Tokaj that was 13 years older. Drink this Tokaj young if you enjoy freshness of fruit or let it age if you enjoy richer wines with some caramel overtones. This wine would work well with desserts or a cheese course. Thoroughly enjoyable (our bottle was empty at the end of our tasting time) and great value when compared to higher-cost wine from the Sauterne region of France. This wine is available for the equivalent of $18CAD in the United States. Before you get too pissed-off at being ripped off by the government note that our friends in La Belle Province pay $51. Yes, it is shocking to learn that greed also exists in the Quebec government. Shocking and about as surprising as a Donald Trump tweet. Governments in Western Canada are charging similar to the amount charged in Quebec. Shameful.grand_tokaj_tokaj_aszu_2013_5_puttonyoskesz_web

Collector’s corner

I’m convinced that the $50 Obsidian Ridge Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2014—VINTAGES#: 544940 will shine with some bottle age. The wine is tannic in its youth but all of the components of a good California cab are present in your glass. If you insist on consuming this wine young please give it a long decant. Twenty four hours would not be too long. I will be placing a couple of bottles in my cellar and will try hard to keep my hands off them so they will be around to enjoy in a decade. Our friends in the Excited States can buy this wine for about $25USD. They are very fortunate indeed and if I lived there I would back up the truck.Obsidian_web

Wines to consider

My view is you need food to enjoy the $18 Fontanafredda Eremo Langhe Rosso 2014
Barbera/Nebbiolo—VINTAGES#: 454041. The Barbera grape in this blend creates a lot of acidity in the wine’s taste profile and you need some fat to balance out the experience. A decent table wine. Italian wine for Italian fare.wine_94904_web

If you are need of a cheap drinkable utility wine then consider the $15 Confidencial Reserva 2014 Red Blend—VINTAGES#: 452789.  A fruit forward wine with primarily red berry flavors. It is a basic wine and has some acidity so it will be okay at your table too. If $2 is material to you then consider the $13 Beyra Vinhos de Altitude Red 2015 Tempranillo—VINTAGES#: 408120. It’s even simpler but is enjoyable in small quantities (a wine that you likely will tire of quickly).

You’ll have to cough up more money to get our two preferred choices in this category. Starting with the $23 Baigorri Crianza 2014 Tempranillo—VINTAGES#: 376376, for your extra money you get a wine with some character, a little complexity, better balance, and more versatility. In Spain this wine will cost you the equivalent of $14CAD but in the Excited States one pays the equivalent of $32CAD. My advice to my friends in the USA…don’t buy this wine. It is not worth that amount of money.clone_wine_53584_web

If you are willing to up your game by spending a little more money then consider the $30 Baigorri Reserva 2009 Tempranillo—VINTAGES#: 319814. For $30 you get a wine that is nearly 10 years old. The fruit is still going strong and the wine has wonderful black-tea tannins. It’s a wine with character and quite enjoyable (our bottle was empty at the end of the tasting). Value is okay as you are basically paying the same price as the folks in Spain fork out for a bottle.clone_wine_69204_web

Wines to avoid

We tired quickly of the $52 Moutard Père & Fils Cuvée Prestige Brut Champagne Pinot Noir/Chardonnay—VINTAGES#: 514372. Yes, there is nice ginger and apple flavors but even with a high dosage of 10 grams of sugar this wine is overly acidity and leaves one with a funny aftertaste in your mouth. There are better champagnes in this price point or near this price point.

The flavors described in the posted tasting notes for the $45 Viña Cobos Bramare Malbec 2014—VINTAGES#: 123729 are pretty accurate. What the reviewer does not state is the lack of integration and balance of these flavors. This is an over-the-top wine and I doubt that years of bottle age would correct its jumbled state. Save your money and the assault on your palate.

Want another wine to assault your palate? Then go stock up on the $19 Anima di Negroamaro Lizzano Negroamaro Rosso Superiore 2014 Negroamaro—VINTAGES#: 536300. The posted tasting notes are nonsense. This wine is a high alcohol, high sugar, over-ripe dark fruit mess. Avoid.

In contrast, the $32 Marchand-Tawse Bourgogne Pinot Noir 2014—VINTAGES#: 285601 is a thin, flat and basically an unimpressive wine. The posted tasting notes are just silly. Can someone help me understand why professional wine critics think that they are in the business of selling wine?

Weird is the best word that I can use to describe the $17 Anselmann Edesheimer Rosengarten Siegerrebe Spätlese 2016 Siegerrebe—VINTAGES#: 910554.  Having no experience with the Siegerrebe grape acquiring a bottle to have a taste was worth a try but it was not an experience we wanted to repeat. A very-sweet and floral wine looking for a purpose.

Only lovers of overly grassy Sauvignon Blanc could possibly like the $21 Tenuta Ulisse Pecorino 2016—VINTAGES#: 249128. I do realize that the Pecorino grape is not Sauvignon Blanc but the aromas and flavors of this wine burst nasty Sauvignon Blanc attributes. To describe this wine as “light and crisp” is silly. To say that it has “mineral overtones” is misleading. To give it a score of 96 is a joke. To say that it is exclusive and rare is thankful.



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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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