i had a great day in the vineyard (7 july 2018 vintages release)

Our story so far: needs no introduction.



I’m waiting with great anticipation for the new-raw-satirical material that the new Chair of the People’s Republic of Ontario will provide.

If you care about wine, beer, and liquor retail in Canada then consider reading the article “It’s time for Ontario to step into the present and follow Alberta’s lead on booze” from the National Post. My perspective? Sure Alberta’s system is better than the approach that exists in all other provinces but why not have the open market that exists in much of the world?

The summer months are upon us and the group that gathers to taste a cross-section of the Vintages release is smaller. So, this report is brief.

Outstanding wines

The $20 Marcel Cabelier Vieilles Vignes Chardonnay 2014—VINTAGES#: 485839 represents decent value. Tasted blind, we did not peg this wine as chardonnay. The posted tasting notes are accurate. The wine scored high points with me it has some complexity, is bone dry, low 12.5% alcohol, and has bracing acidity that refreshes and makes the wine food friendly. wine_107334_web

I was starting to think that, with the government imposed mandatory price increases, the days of seeing a decent value wine under $20 were over. Then the $16 Domaine d’Albas Rouge 2015 Syrah/Grenache—VINTAGES#: 562587 comes along. Don’t go crazy as the posted tasting notes overstate the case. This is a decent and rich table wine with enough complexity to prevent boredom. Most importantly, this is not a pop-and-pour wine. The “dirty socks” on the nose blows off with exposure to air and that exposure also enhances the wine’s flavors. This wine needs a hard decant an hour before consumption. You can’t make friends wearing dirty socks and will not make friends with a pop-and-pour approach with this wine.Domaine_d_Albas_Rouge_2015_web

Wines to consider

A staple champagne for me is the $55 Drappier Carte d’Or Brut Champagne—VINTAGES#: 726281. My palate is totally biased towards this producer and I buy their wines at the KGBO (a.k.a, the LCBO) and the SAQ when allowed.


Not willing to pay $55 for a decent bottle of champagne? Then consider the $44 Gardet Cuvée Saint Flavy Tradition Brut Champagne—VINTAGES#: 924654. This wine appears regularly in Vintages releases. It punches above its weight and represents decent value in the entry-level champagne category.


I think that the $27 Lavau Vacqueyras 2014 Grenache/Syrah/Mourvèdre—VINTAGES#: 104927 needs some time to come together. Fans of fruit-forward wines can drink this now as the structure is sufficient to support the ripeness of the fruit. But, this wine would be much better with at least 3 years of bottle age. Five or more years would be better. The posted tasting notes are accurate.Lavau_Vacqueyras_2014_web

I bought the $23 Barón de Ley Reserva 2013 Tempranillo—VINTAGES#: 958868 because I have tasted the producer’s Gran Reserva and thought it to be excellent. Often, I enjoy the Rioja Reservas as much, and sometimes (because of less time spent with oak) more. Not this time. Tasted blind, few pegged this wine as one that came from Spain. To me, the wine is made in an overly commercial style. It’s purpose would be a wine that is versatile, one that you could bring to a party and it will appeal to many people.


Wine for wine geeks

Our blind tasting of the $45 Hamilton Russell Chardonnay 2017—VINTAGES#: 931006 proved to be controversial. The tasters did not pin this wine as being Chardonnay nor was it unanimously liked. The wine is very rich, with tropical fruit flavors (guava) and a fair amount of oak coming from fermentation in the barrel. The wine also has some bitterness on the finish, an attribute that I found pleasant.  My struggle with this wine stems mainly from its price. From at least 2009 to 2014, the KGBO sold this wine for $33. The 2015 vintage in South Africa was excellent and the price for that release jumped 33% to $45. My guess is that the price stayed there because of the cult-like status that the wine achieved with that vintage. Don’t get me wrong, this is a good wine. I admire Noble Estates (the agent) for recognizing and developing a brand and getting paid for it. I have no doubt that the wine will sell out, I will buy one or two for aging as I am curious about whether the wine will improve with some time in the bottle.


Wines to avoid

The $25 Clarence Dillon Clarendelle Red 2014 Bordeaux Red—VINTAGES#: 28837 was a big disappointment for me. My experience with previous vintages of this wine created an expectation that I would experience a decent wine. I tried two bottles. The first bottle tasted flat…little fruit, limited structure, short length. It was like a bottle of wine that was open a week ago. Basically a nearly dead wine. Thinking that my experience may have stemmed from a bad bottle, I returned the bottle and opened its replacement. Same result. This is not a good wine. I guess that I enjoy contradicting Mr. Suckling who claims the wine to be “a solid Bordeaux for the money”.  Good grief. This wine was one of the KGBO’s “wines of the month”. There’s a lot of it in the system.




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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