It happens annually. The month previlged month of December greedily hosts the season of human excesses. We spend money excessively. We eat excessively. And, we drink vino excessively. Man, the season of excess is a grand one.
Even grand things must end and the season of excess usually concludes when we step on the scale and check our credit card balance. These events mark the beginning of “I am fat and broke” season. The beginning of I am fat and broke season is much easier to predict than the weather.
I think that the folks at the KGBO (a.k.a., the LCBO) choose the wines to include in the first release in January reflect this season. The selection of wines is the mirror opposite of our weight (we are fat and the number of wines is thin) and they know that you are financially challenged so they pay close attention to making sure that the wines have a low price point. Such is the nature of the 5 January 2019 Vintages release.
Last weekend, the season of excess was still in force so the muddler tasting group was also thin in number. We tasted a few wines only so this report is brief.
GTA wine events
Before we jump into the details, if you live near the Greater Toronto Area there are two upcoming wine tasting events that may interest you.
On January 15, the Toronto Vintners Club (TVC) will be tasting 2009 red Burgundy wines. This event is your opportunity to sample wines from the Côte de Nuits and the Côte de Beaune, including four Grand Cru and two Premier Cru wines. Details are available at https://www.torontovintners.org/events.
On January 23, WineTasters will be featuring cellar-worthy wines focusing on wine gems that were part of previous Vintages releases. This event is your opportunity to taste a terrific cross-section of different varietals, both familiar (Cabernet Sauvignon, Tempranillo, Riesling, etc.) and lesser-known varietals like Aglianico and Mencia. Details are available at https://winetasters.ca/cellar-starter-wines.
At both of these events, you will enjoy great wine, meet friendly people and have a terrific evening. I will attend both events so if you attend please say hi.
Wines to consider
If you truly are broke and you want a cheap red wine to drown a few sorrows then consider the $13 Ken Forrester Petit Pinotage 2017—VINTAGES#: 631564. Let’s face the facts. This is an engineered “Mc” wine. It is simple and comes across as a tad sweet. If you chill the wine, it would work with a hamburger and it may be the crowd-pleaser that helps preserve your bank account. This wine definitely is a “pop and pour” as the contents of the bottle after it was open for a day were not enjoyable.
A high amount of acidity is one characteristic of wines made from the Barbera grape. The acidity makes the wine food friendly and the $16 Michele Chiarlo Le Orme 16 Months Barbera d’Asti 2016—VINTAGES#: 265413 is no exception. If you like acidic wines you will enjoy this wine solo but I suspect that having food with this wine will enhance most people’s enjoyment. The posted tasting notes are accurate.
From the 2015 to 2016 vintage, we are required to pay $2 more per bottle. That’s a shameful 14% increase in price. I guess that the KGBO doesn’t really care about the broke part of fat and broke season. Release after release, we have seen examples of exorbitant increases in price. What other monopoly has this kind of unmitigated pricing power? I don’t understand why the people of Ontario put up with this abuse.
The $18 Cecchi Storia di Famiglia Chianti Classico 2015—VINTAGES#: 540922 is a bit of an enigma. Tasted blind, few identified this wine as Chianti (contrary to the posted tasting notes). The aromas of iron and blood blew off with time in the glass. The tannins also initially were very aggressive. The contents of the bottle were much more enjoyable on the second day that the bottle was open and the wine went practically well with the dal I enjoyed for lunch. This outcome is consistent with the notes that I published when this wine was first made available as part of the 28 April 2018 Vintages release.
If it is Chianti yee seek then check the availability of wine identified in more recent posts of this blog. There is better Chianti at this price point but if you need to buy the Cecchi make sure that you give the wine a good decant before enjoying it.
The highlight of the wines tasted from the 5 January 2019 release for me is the $17 Solà Fred 2017 Carignan—VINTAGES#: 636258. We don’t normally see the KGBO offering us a single varietal Carignan-based wine. The posted tasting notes are accurate and I enjoyed the full-bodied dried fruit nature of this wine. I think it is a great wine to enjoy on a cold winter night or to accompany a rich meat-based dish.
Wines to avoid
Okay, to be fair, if you are a fan of Retsina wine then you will enjoy like the $8 Kechris Kechribari Retsina White – Light Dry—VINTAGES#: 581942. If you have never tried this highly maligned style of wine then this may be your chance to give one a try. In a group setting, the tasting experience will be a conversation starter for sure. The truth is, I don’t know anyone (including me) that enjoys the medicinal pine needle aromas and flavors of Retsina. Thus, I concluded that most people should avoid this one.