please complain that the bread is stale (vintages release 19 january 2019)

This week’s diversion

The People’s Republic of Ontario has launched a survey under the guise of obtaining the public’s feedback on how to modernize alcohol choice in Ontario. It will not shock you to hear that I am a total cynic on this matter.

All political organizations, both public and private, know the importance of seeking stakeholders’ views. The leaders of these organizations also know that the act of seeking is the sole important task; there is no need to act on the input. None. Zero. Zippo. These are feel-good actions and they have the same value as feel-good words. I don’t recall a temporary tax that went away or a neutral tax that was ever neutral.

This feel-good internet survey costs nothing and I suspect that’s what its outcome is worth. A feel-good action that will provide feel-good sound bites. This time the sound bites will be used to support more bumbling actions of Chairman Ford of the People’s Republic. In the end, assuming that you remember the beginning, you will not feel well at all.

I find that many of the survey’s questions to be leading. And (BIG SIGH), I get depressed because I can’t help thinking that many (most?) participants will not have experienced the benefits of a real market, one that is not controlled by government supply management. Here are a few examples to illustrate my point.

How about feeling joy when buying excellent wine from the owner of the little enoteca where they just ate lunch…or legally consuming wine while picnicking in a park…or visiting a wine store that specializes in your favorite Italian wines…or taking advantage of the rich selection of old and young wines that are readily available in markets like Europe, Hong Kong, the UK, or the USA…or, if price is the vice, saved a lot of money buying table wines from a high-volume retailer such as Costco?

If someone has not taken advantage of the lifestyle in a place where the state does not consider wine to be a controlled substance then he or she might think and say that there is no need for change. When you are starving and someone gives you a sandwich, you eat it with joy. You may not even recognize that the bread is stale and, if you do, you would not suggest that the experience would be better if the bread was freshly baked.

Let’s be realistic and not be surprised when change, if any, to the laws relating to wine in Ontario is not substantive and we hear our politicians repeatedly express the modern day mantra that the government “sought the views of the public.” That said, completing the survey will not cause harm so please please please add voices to the chorus calling for privatization.

Oh, another thing, this survey is like elections of old. You can vote it as often as you like. Here’s the link: https://www.ontario.ca/form/alcohol-choice-and-convenience-for-the-people-survey. The survey closes Feb. 1st. Remember to vote early and vote often.

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 February 15, the Toronto Vintners Club (TVC) will present a tasting of Chianti Classico Gran Selezione. Gran Selezione is a new classification for Chianti. It was created in 2013 and the Gran Selezione classification is a step up in quality from the well-known Chianti Classico designation. Gran Selezione wines must be made from estate grown grapes of a single vineyard (or selection of the estate’s best parcels) and must age for 30 months before they are released. Details on this event are available at https://www.torontovintners.org/events.

On February 27, WineTasters will be exploring all things port. This tasting will an introduction to port, featuring the different styles: Vintage Port, Late Bottled Vintage Port, Colheita, Tawnies, and a Ruby. This event is a chance for you to see what you get at different price points, the outcome of cellaring port, and your chance to determine your preference for the different port styles. Registration details will be posted soon at www.winetasters.ca.

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.

Outstanding wines

Are you in need of a good house white wine? Then try the $18 Jardin Inspector Péringuey Chenin Blanc 2016—VINTAGES#: 443473. The posted tasting notes are accurate. The wine has some complexity, balance, length and decent acidity. It’s enjoyable on its own or with food. We are paying about the same price as our friends in Europe so the KGBO (a.k.a., the LCBO) is providing us with a fair price. A lot to like for less than $20.

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I really enjoyed the $17 Borgo Scopeto Chianti Classico 2015 Sangiovese Blend—VINTAGES#: 23325. This wine works solo or with food. The posted tasting notes are accurate. The price is similar to what the folks in Italy pay. Again, a lot to like in this one.

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The $40 Marqués de Murrieta Capellanía Reserva Blanco 2013 Viura (Macabeo)—VINTAGES#: 230011 may not be a white wine in your price range but this white Rioja is outstanding. We are being gouged on the price compared to Europe and the USA but we seldom see white Rioja of this quality in the People’s Republic of Ontario. The analogy of a starving person and a sandwich made with stale bread comes to mind.

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Wines to consider

If you are like me and are a fan of sherry then consider the $22 Bodegas Yuste Aurora Oloroso Sherry—VINTAGES#: 609982. This sherry will not set your world on fire but it is a lovely drink at a decent price. The wine critic James Molesworth did a good job on the tasting notes. I enjoyed drinking this sherry solo and it works well with olives, nuts and the typical sherry fare.wine_112540_web

The $19 Borgo Scopeto Borgonero 2015 Sangiovese Blend—VINTAGES#: 421396 is a nice Tuscan red wine. I disagree with James Suckling’s views that the wine has “the right amount of acid intensity.” To me, this statement is correct if you were enjoying this wine with food. This is a great value wine for your table and one that I would pick to match up with Italian cuisine.

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The $26 Bischöfliche Weingüter Trier Piesporter Goldtropfchen Riesling Kabinett 2016—VINTAGES#: 629998 is a good example of why I have a problem with the way the LCBO rates a wine’s sweetness. They use the concept of “perceived sweetness” and you can read about it at http://www.lcbo.com/content/lcbo/en/pages/wine/wine-sweetness-chart.html#.XEtyhnbYrnE. Even by their own published chart, considering a wine like the Bischöfliche with 62 grams of residual sugar to be “medium sweet” is misleading. Yes. the Bischöfliche has lots of acidity but this is a sweet wine. Sweet wines have a purpose and this wine would work with a tart dessert or spicy food. Many (most?) people will have trouble drinking this wine solo.

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Collector’s corner

If you are willing and able to shell out $38 for a collectible Chenin Blanc then consider the Mullineux Old Vines White 2017 Chenin Blanc Blend—VINTAGES#: 556597.  If you pop this bottle now you may detect both a funny nose and after taste. It comes together with time in the glass but I think that time in the bottle is what is needed for this wine to shine. My guess is that a few years in the cellar will result in a wine that provides you with a rewarding experience.

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Wines to avoid

The tasting group was not fond of the $47 Meerlust Rubicon 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon Blend—VINTAGES#: 64329.  This wine may come together with cellaring but the fruitiness and tannins that I experienced in the glass did not make me confident that it was worth the effort and risk. The last time that the KGBO allowed us to buy this wine was the 2010 vintage that was released in 2017 and sold for $38. That’s a shameful 11 percent compound price increase. I’m sure that you get an 11% pay raise every year. Right?

I am hoping that the $40 Jean-Marc Brocard Vau de Vay Chablis 1er Cru 2015
Chardonnay—VINTAGES#: 159012 is not an indicator of where the price is going with wines from Chablis. In a release in 2014, the 2012 vintage of this wine sold for $30. Perhaps this wine needs time in the bottle to shine but, tasted blind, the contents of the bottle did not impress our group. Many people pegged it for a cheaper Chardonnay from South Africa.

My guess is that there are tons of the $23 Château l’Argenteyre 2015 Bordeaux
—VINTAGES#: 632976 in the KGBO system. The wine critic Neil Martin sometimes does a good job describing a wine. This time his comments are over the top. He also left out “soggy cornflakes” and “poopy diaper”, two descriptors used by people who tasted this wine on Sunday. This is an unpleasant wine to drink. Bad bottle? I doubt it as the local wine critics also did not like what they tasted.

I understand the need to have crowd-pleasing, reception style wines. However, in attempting to achieve that result, wine-makers sometimes over-engineer the outcome. That’s what I think happened with the $18 Château L’Escadre 2015 Bordeaux—VINTAGES#: 630046. The first few sips are fine but I found that I tired of this wine quickly and it made me angry that I spent money on this one even at this price point. The wine was no better on day 2.

One of the comments made after blind tasting the $18 Le Gravillas Séguret Côtes du Rhône-Villages 2016 Grenache Blend—VINTAGES#: 309260 was “this tastes like the cheap stuff that I used to drink in university.” This wine is pretty simple and fruity and my money and I will not part for wines made in this style.

I struggle to enjoy a wine that is fruity and has an artificial sweetener aftertaste. Unfortunately, that’s my perception of the $20 Gabarda Selección 2015 Grenache/Carignan—VINTAGES#: 629139. I’m avoiding this one.

 

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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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