now be a good boy and pop that bottle of bordeaux (vintages 31 march 2018)

Our story so far… the year is 2088 and the scene is a hospital room where an elderly man is recovering from liver transplant surgery. His grandson is dutifully visiting.

How are you feeling today Grandpa?

Well, very well, well enough to pop a cork or two. Did you bring the wine from the cellar like I asked you to?

Yes, I did as I was asked, but Grandpa should we really be drinking wine here in the hospital? This is your third liver transplant. I’m scared what the doctors will say.

It’s the fourth kido but who’s counting? Don’t worry about the doctors kid…I’m a Super Elite member of the KGBO’s Burgundy Carpet Club. I’m one of the doctor’s most important customers. They know who butters their bread and they know that if they zip their lips it will keep me happy.

Grandpa, you mean the LCBO, someday you will have to explain why you keep calling them the KGBO. I can’t remember how you became a Super Elite member. And, what does that mean exactly?

It goes back a long time kid. The year was 2018 to be exact. It was an election year in the People’s Republic of Ontario. Things were not looking good for the governing party so they started sweetening the pot and promised the Proletariat lots of “free” goodies. It started with free dental care, then free daycare for the little ones, then free prescription drugs. As the election drew on, the free services promises just kept getting grander. Then someone, I don’t remember or care who, promised a LCBO loyalty program. They have different levels based on the amount of money you spend at the LCBO…the top level being Super Elite. In 2018 by spending a million dollars at the LCBO I became Super Elite for life and that status entitles me to a free liver transplant every decade. Super Elite members go to the top of the transplant list, no questions asked.

2018 was the year they legalized pot right Grandpa?

Yep. And the government jerks almost ruined the free liver giveaway by saying the loyalty program should also include free lung transplants for all the Super Elite potheads. We had to wait until 2022 until the government found someone stupid enough to lend them the money for that promise. Do you know how the government does all this kid?

No, how?

The same way I spent a million dollars on wine in 2018. You borrow the money and you screw over the next generation. My dad did it to me, I did it to your dad, and he screwed over you. It’ll be your turn soon. If you are going to screw someone over make sure you go large. The problem is that it’s gotten pretty big so you may have to screw over the rest of the country and not just the next generation. Maybe loop the Americans in too. Think big and screw over the whole continent if you can. I know you’ll find a way and will make me proud.

Will I get a free liver Grandpa?

No worries. You’re in the Will my boy. You get my Super Elite card when I finally go. Now be a good boy and pop that bottle of Bordeaux.


Thanks to big John C for the idea and inspiration for the silly story.

Onto the wines in the 31 March 2018 release as there are a couple of buys to put on your list.

Outstanding wines

The $16 Sansilvestro Sabbie Roero Arneis 2016—VINTAGES#: 541482 is the value white wine buy in this release. Finally, after nearly a month of nothing to recommend, a good value white wine comes along. The tasting notes are accurate. Wine styles made from the Arneis grape typically can be floral and fruity or can be mineral focused. Minerals are what I like and this wine, from a producer not known to me, delivers some complexity and minerality at a great price. A wine you can sip on its own and a wine with enough acidity to work well with food. Try one and, if you are like me, you’ll end up ordering a case. We pay $4 less for this wine than the folks pay in Italy and $6 less than our friends in the Excited States of America. I think that it’s a great buy.bottiglia-roero-arneis-sabbie_webCollector’s corner

The $23 Balbás Reserva 2005 Tempranillo Blend—VINTAGES#: 85183 is a somewhat mysterious wine to me. After our tasting on Sunday, I did some reading. One source asserts that this is the 5th time that the LCBO has released this vintage of this wine. It is at least a second release as the local wine critics have twice posted tasting notes (some complimentary, some not). If 5 times is correct then the size of the production is huge (I could not find information about quantity on the producer’s website).

The color of the wine in the glass does not indicate a wine that is 13 years old. It got me thinking that I might be looking at a rat. The mystery continues as the wine’s taste is youthful. The taste is a little disjointed and a little too much wood but, thanks to John C, we had the chance to do a comparative taste of this wine (allegedly the 2005) against the 2001 vintage. The 2001 was a well-practiced choir singing with all the components in harmony. We could identify these components in the 2005 and felt this wine would come together with more time in the bottle.

In the end, whether the wine in this release is the 2005 vintage or some other year is probably not relevant. The issue is like well-done breast augmentation surgery. Whether they are fake or real might make interesting speculation and gossip but don’t get uppity and let’s just acknowledge that no one really cares and it just doesn’t matter. A victimless crime at the worst.

The current vintage (2012) retails in Spain for the equivalent of $35-41CAD. So for $23 for the 2005 go buy a couple bottles and stick them in your cellar. Try one in 5 years or so and see what you think. I’m guessing that the contents will be singing. wine_71815_web

Wines to consider

The $80 Hedges Family Estate Red 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon Blend—VINTAGES#: 1594 is expensive but worth the money. Why? Because if you not able to source wine in the USA this release is your opportunity to taste a very good wine from Washington state. The KGBO does a really poor job sourcing Washington state wines. Most of their selections they put on the shelves are cheap fruit bombs. If that is your experience with Washington state wine then the Hedges will change your mind about this wonderful wine region.

We are paying a premium for the wine’s age. Comparable vintages and age of this wine sells in the USA for about $60CAD. So $80 here in the People’s Republic of Ontario is not a bad deal. However, recent vintages (2012 to 2014) retail in the Excited States for $30CAD. The price of the 2015 vintage pops back up to $50CAD.

The posted tasting notes are accurate. This is a wine that that is enjoyable now and will age and take on more complexity for years to come. Hedges_Family_Estate_Red_2005_web

The $17 Bellingham Homestead Chardonnay 2016—VINTAGES#: 544247 is really well put together for the money. This wine has classic Chardonnay attributes (if you like Chardonnay, you will like this wine). The tasting notes of kumquat and marmalade are accurate. A good value wine for when you are in the mood for a decent Chardonnay. The Ontario price is the same as the price in Europe.clone_wine_91477_web

The most appealing attribute of the $19 Pierre Sparr Altenbourg Riesling 2015—VINTAGES#: 906016 is the petrol (kerosene) on the nose. Petrol is typical in many rieslings but normally develops when the wine has some age. It was the first attribute we noticed and one that is not mentioned in the published tasting notes. I dare you to taste this wine and not think of ham and other cured meats.

A word of warning…this wine has 15 grams of residual sugar. After reading the criteria posted on the LCBO website I am mystified on how they could consider this wine to be dry. Don’t be fooled on your purchase as your palate will detect sweetness in this wine. If you don’t like that attribute then do not buy this wine. To be enjoyable this wine needs food (pork, cured meats, spicy dishes). The Ontario price is the same as that paid by the folks in France.Pierre_Sparr_Altenbourg_Riesling_2015_webThe $17 Falesco Poggio Dei Gelsi 2016 White Blend—VINTAGES#: 541490 should not be served too cold. At the right temperature, the wine has nice lemon and apple flavors and acidity crisp enough to work with a salad or deep-fried foods like calamari. This wine is a dock / deck / balcony wine and a refreshing change for the normal dock wine fare. Price-wise we are paying a $5 premium to the amount paid by the folks in Europe. I guess our government needs the money to pay for those liver transplants.clone_wine_94894_webWines to avoid

The $30 Lake Sonoma Winery Cabernet Sauvignon 2014—VINTAGES#: 380188 is a basic California cab. It is not a bad wine as there is a decent balance between the fruit, acid, and tannins. The wine retails in the USA for as little as the equivalent of $20CAD. That amount of money is what this wine is worth and what it delivers. The published tasting notes are nonsense. A “spectacular” wine it is not. The comment that this wine “tastes like a cult classic but without the price tag” is as silly as getting a free liver every decade.

The $20 Loma Larga Lomas del Valle Quinteto 2015 Cabernet Franc Blend—VINTAGES#: 546721 has a nose of summertime compost bin. On the taste, the wine comes across as confused and disconnected. This was not a pleasant wine for our tasting group. Decanter gave it a score of 95 and the local wine critics also rated this wine highly. Perhaps we had a bad bottle but I’m staying away from trying this one again.

The $25 Kilikanoon Prodigal Grenache 2013—VINTAGES#: 482547 is a highly fruit forward wine with intense blackberry jam flavors and characteristics. The tasting notes indicate boysenberry flavors and I could be convinced of that fruit instead of blackberry as I my boysenberry experience is limited to eating cheap yogurt in my childhood. In either case, this style of wine is not my cup of tea. The tasting notes are silly, especially when the conclusion is that this wine is a special value. Give me a f-ing break.

The $15 K Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon 2012—VINTAGES#: 484949 is a fruit bomb. The nose is strawberry compote. The wine’s flavors lack integration and there is an unpleasant finish. The posted tasting notes and the wine’s score make no sense. I was really cheering for this wine to turn out to be good. I visited Bulgaria several years ago and thought the region had potential as the people there were wonderful and the country has centuries of winemaking history. The effect of communism liggers as long and as nasty as this wine’s finish.

The $20 Clairmont Classique Crozes-Hermitage 2015 Shiraz/Syrah—VINTAGES#: 537811 is a pretty simple wine that centers on fresh blueberry characteristics. A 2015 Crozes-Hermitage should sing and this one just croaks. The posted tasting notes are dribble. The local wine critics love this wine so I’m confused. My solution? Simple. Avoid this wine.

Want a dry riesling? I don’t think that you will find one in this release. The other riesling to consider trying is the $18 Selbach Incline Riesling 2016—VINTAGES#: 523928 and this wine has 17 grams of residual sugar. Yet the KGBO considers this wine to be dry, meaning “no distinct sweetness well rounded with balanced acidity” (quoted from the LCBO website). Come on man, this is a medium sweet wine as sweetness is the first thing from this wine that the brain detects. The wine is simple and it’s a wine that needs help from spicy food.  I’ve categorized this wine as one to avoid because of the asking price. This wine retails for the equivalent of $11CAD in the USA. The price in Ontario is a ripoff.





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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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