TheMuddler is eating and drinking in Italy and was not able to taste the wines from the 24 November 2018 Vintages release. His next report will be on the 8 December 2018 release.
Our story so far
News continues to stream out of Ottawa, the capital city of the People’s Republic of Canada. Not realizing that his microphone was on, Prime Minister Trudeau was overheard admitting that an email from an imprisoned Nigerian Prince was the inspiration behind his government’s approach to the recently introduced carbon tax. Trudeau was overheard saying:
“Gerald decided that we should help the prince out so we sent him $100,000 and any day now we will get all the money back plus a lot more. It later dawned on us that if the approach of people getting back more money than they paid works for a Prince in Nigeria then why wouldn’t it work for the government of Canada?”
Unconfirmed sources indicate that Trudeau’s most trusted advisor, Gerald Butts, called the carbon tax act the Universal Nigerian Prince Act for International Decarbonization. The name was changed at the last minute when Finance Minister Morneau pointed out that the UNPAID acronym would cause people to confuse the carbon tax with the government’s multi-billion-dollar Phoenix payroll system.
In other news of inspiration, TheWineMuddler issued a statement that he too was being blackmailed for his online indiscretions. On his website, TheWineMuddler posted that
“Anthony Weiner could learn a thing or two from the remorse demonstrated by Tony Clement. His apology’s complete-and-totally-believable sincerity inspired me to also admit to my tens of readers that I too have behaved badly on Instagram.” TheMuddler further stated that “I became suspicious that my online relationship was not genuine when “she” asked me to replace the Luc Maoni 99 point stickers on my Lederhosen with big bold James Suckling 100 points decals.”
TheMuddler attempted to turn the matter over to the police who commented that “while Mr. Suckling is the primary suspect, the list of potential suspects is too lengthy to pursue, and includes an unnamed former premier of the People’s Republic of Ontario. The OPP in an “off-the-record comment” also stated, “frankly, no one gives a shit.”
GTA wine events
Before we jump into the details of the Vintages release, if you live near the Greater Toronto Area, there are two upcoming wine tasting events that may interest you.
The November 28 WineTasters event is your opportunity to taste eight 2006 wines from the prestigious region of Cote-Rôtie. Details are available by clicking on this link.
The Toronto Vintners Club (TVC) is holding their annual holiday party on November 20. This event is your opportunity to sample a wide variety of great wines that were leftover from TVC previous events. You can register by clicking on this link.
At both of these events, you will enjoy great wine, meet friendly people and have a terrific evening.
10 November 2018 Vintages Release
I can save you a lot of time and money by saying upfront that there is little to get excited about in the 10 November 2018 Vintages release. You can stop reading now, and circle back to my previous posts, if your purpose in reading this blog is to identify decent quality price point wines. Just scroll down to the bottom of this post for one final laugh and skip the rest.
For those of you with nothing better to read, in my last post, I speculated that the KGBO (a.k.a., the LCBO) is ramping up to collect more of your hard-earned money as the holiday season approaches. With this release, the evidence supporting this theory mounts.
For example, the 29 September 2018 Vintages release contained 128 wines and 21 wines (or about 16%) exceeded $30 per bottle in price. The current release, 10 November 2018, contains 130 wines and 56 (or about 43%) exceeds $30 per bottle in price. In case you have not noticed, if you live in Canada and want to buy a bottle of wine to enjoy with your meal, or give as a Christmas present, you pretty much have to buy it from your provincial government’s monopoly. We all know that the government knows what it is best, including what wine you are allowed to buy and the price that you must pay for that privilege. This situation is seriously screwed up and I wish that others would grow a spine and speak up for wine consumers and collectors in this province and in Canada in general.
I agree with the posted tasting notes of the $17 Hidalgo La Gitana Manzanilla
Sherry—VINTAGES#: 745448. If you are a fan of, or just want to try a bone-dry-salty-fino sherry this one is for you. It is “an absolute delight”.
Wines to consider
I would stock up on the $29 Pirramimma Petit Verdot 2015—VINTAGES#: 986752 if the KGBO lowers the price. With the right combination of fruit, tannins, and earth this is an enjoyable wine that would complement a charred-protein meal. Two years ago, the KGBO sold this wine for $21 and they raised the price to $29 last year. That’s a 38% price increase in case you don’t want to do the math. In Australia, this wine retails for the equivalent of $22 CAD and Europeans pay a little bit more than that amount. Do you think that we are getting value here in the People’s Republic?
If you try the $24 Feudo Montoni Lagnusa Nero D’Avola 2015 Nero d’Avola—VINTAGES#: 523738 make sure that you give the wine a long decant. Fresh from the bottle, this wine is primary with overwhelming attributes of strawberry jam. With some air time, those unpleasant cooked jam attributes die down and the wine’s more interesting characters come through. I enjoyed with wine a lot more the second day that the bottle was open than the first. Galloni’s review that the KGBO posted is over the top and overstated. He doesn’t normally do such things. This wine retails for the equivalent of $18 CAD in Europe and is about $22 CAD in the USA. Again, we are paying a premium.
As a producer, I find Urbina to be inconsistent in the quality of their wine. I was therefore happy to learn that the $55 Urbina Gran Reserva 1996 Tempranillo—VINTAGES#: 355743 was a lovely aged and balanced wine. If you want to treat yourself or a loved one to a mature wine experience at a decent price this is a great opportunity.
We blind tasted the $50 Viña Tondonia Reserva 2005 Tempranillo Blend—VINTAGES#: 356337 twice. The first bottle was boring and flat and flawed. The wine in the second exhibited balance, earth elements, complexity, and character. If you purchase this 13-year-old beauty make sure that you experience the latter. If not, recork the bottle and return it to the LCBO for a full refund.
I am slowly learning about Portuguese wine. I admit to my ignorance and prejudice as I really struggle with paying premium prices for wines from this country. The breaking of these prejudices is another benefit of the blind tasting format. The $39 João Brito e Cunha Quinta de S. José Touriga Nacional 2015 Touriga Nacional—VINTAGES#: 568857 is a wine with character, richness, chocolate notes, and balance. Unfortunately, I choke at the price that the KGBO charges for this wine. In Portugal, this wine retails for the equivalent of $13 CAD. The price jumps as high as $25 in France. How can the folks at the KGBO sleep at night knowing that we are being forced to pay $39 to enjoy this wine? Shameful.
Wines for collectors
The $108 Kistler Sonoma Mountain Chardonnay 2016—VINTAGES#: 183921 is a wine of consistent quality and a favorite choice of many collectors. If you are seeking an ageable, fruit-forward Chardonnay with a very healthy dose of oak then this wine is your ticket. The price is a stretch but it sells for almost the same amount of money in the Excited States of America (a.k.a., the USA).
We did not taste the $94 Château de Beaucastel Châteauneuf-du-Pape 2016 Grenache blend—VINTAGES#: 711317 but, thanks to Paul B, we did enjoy a bottle of the 2000 vintage. Collectors know that Beaucastel needs at least 20 years in the bottle to shine. I would not recommend buying this wine unless you play to cellar it for many years. By accounts, the 2016 vintage was outstanding and the price that we pay in the People’s Republic of Ontario is comparable to prices charged in Europe. Our friends in America pay a premium for this wine.
Wines to avoid
I was really disappointed in the $30 Gordon Columbia Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2015
Cabernet Sauvignon Blend—VINTAGES#: 950295. This is an odd wine with both overripe and green vegetal notes and a predominance of wood. For the money, I would expect a more interesting and integrated wine. This wine retails for more money in the good old USA. Pursue other options.
This year I am avoiding the $18 Ken Forrester Old Vine Reserve Chenin Blanc 2017—VINTAGES#: 231282. This wine consistently represents great value but to me this vintage is odd. With the wine having searing-out-of-balance acidity and fruit flavors that tend towards the simpler apple end of the fruit spectrum I see little reason to rush out and buy this wine this year. I duly note that, in our blind tasting format, two glasses of this exact same wine was poured and tasted side-by-side. None of us identified that the wine in the two glasses was the same. What was the difference between those two glasses? The contents of the glass on the left (the glass that people found “interesting”) was served quite cold. The contents of the glass on the right (the glass that people found “weird”) was served slightly chilled. A humbling experience and one that taught the lesson of the importance of a wine’s serving temperature.
The $23 Domaines Schlumberger Les Princes Abbés Pinot Gris 2015—VINTAGES#: 21253 is an awkward wine. The residual sugar comes across as being too high for me, the fruit flavors are simple pear and apple and there is an unpleasant bitterness on the finish. If you need to buy an Alsatian white wine then consider Schlumberger’s $30 Kessler Riesling 2015—VINTAGES#: 61176. It is a more interesting wine and worth the extra money.
Please don’t believe James Suckling’s score of 95 points that he awarded to the $42 Château Haut-Brisson 2015 Bordeaux—VINTAGES#: 514661. One value of using the blind tasting format is that the contents of the glass are judged without knowledge of the producer’s pedigree or the price of the wine. Our tasting group did not enjoy this wine’s ripeness, dark fruit, and oak. Will it all come together with 5 to 10 years bottle age? Maybe. But I am not risking my $42.
There is nothing technically wrong in the posted tasting notes on the $14 Zacharias Assyrtiko 2017—VINTAGES#: 588814. Those notes just omit that the package is not overly enjoyable, at least in the view of our tasting group.
The $39 Capraia Effe 55 Gran Selezione Chianti Classico 2013 Sangiovese—VINTAGES#: 573451 was a big disappointment. The wine in the bottle that we opened was thin, green and probably flawed. A bad bottle? Maybe. I’m not risking it at this price.
We blind tasted the $29 Corte Medicea Atos 2015 Merlot—VINTAGES#: 475996 twice and twice the contents of our glasses failed to please. The posted tasting notes are silly as we found the wine to be disappointing, primary, out-of-balance, heavily oaked and singular. Things did not improve on day two. This wine is not worth the money. Note that the wine critic Luca Maroni awarded this wine 99 points. Talk about absurd. Please ignore such ratings when you are trying to decide a wine to buy. It’s a sad state of affair.
The $15 Castano Hecula Monastrell 2015 Monastrell (Mourvèdre)—VINTAGES#: 718999 is a raspberry jam, sour patch kids candy fruit bomb mess. This one went straight into the dump bucket. The posted tasting notes are shameful.