Note that I will be away and not be able to comment on the 8 June 2019 release.
The $25 Portlandia Pinot Gris 2017 Pinot Gris Blend | VINTAGES#: 633735 impressed the tasting group. The posted tasting notes are accurate, including the comment that the wine benefits from decanting. This is not a patio sipper Pinot Grigio. It is a wine with complexity, weight, and body. To me, this wine is stylistically similar to Pinot Gris from Alsace and Alto Adige. Price wise the hardworking citizens of the People’s Republic of Ontario pay about a 15% premium to the amount paid by our friends in the Excited States of America. Given our government’s aggressive pricing and taxation schemes, the price that the KGBO is asking you to pay is okay.
The $20 Domaine de la Gaverie Sec Vouvray 2017 Chenin Blanc | VINTAGES#: 635847 is the QPR white wine that we tasted in this release. Vouvray wine at this price point typically is simple, with a predominance of apple in its profile, However, the Gaverie comes with some welcomed complexity and minerality. With 11 grams of residual sugar, there is some sweetness to the wine that is balanced by the wine’s acidity. In November 2016, the KGBO charged $14 for the 2015 vintage of this wine. That’s a 30% price increase in a 2 1/2 year period (an increase of over 15% compounded annually). Do you think that our government is treating us fairly?
Syrah lovers will appreciate the $25 Cave de Tain Grand Classique Crozes-Hermitage 2015 | VINTAGES#: 572230. The posted tasting notes, while being overly effusive, are accurate. This is an enjoyable and versatile wine. While our friends in the good old USA pay about the same amount of money for this wine, the lucky bastards in France (a mystical land where wine and cheese are not controlled substances) can buy this wine for the equivalent of $15 CAD. On my trip maybe luck will prevail, I will find a bottle, a nice baguette, and some cheese and have a lovely picnic.
Wines to consider
I am tempted to classify the $25 Hedges The Bourgeoisie 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon / Shiraz / Merlot | VINTAGES#: 665976 as a wine to avoid. To me, the wine came across as being very commercial in style, lacking structure, and prepared in a fashion designed to please a crowd. I consider this wine to be overpriced for its crowd-pleasing purpose but you may be okay with the $25 price point as Washington state wines at this price point typically are fruit bombs. The retail price in the USA is similar to the price charged in Ontario.
I classified previous vintages of the $18 d’Arenberg The Hermit Crab Viognier/Marsanne 2017 Viognier/Marsanne | VINTAGES#: 662775 as being outstanding. The 2017 vintage is also delicious but fresh out of the bottle the wine has a short length and some unpleasant bitterness on its finish. Decanting the wine helps significantly so if are a fan of previous vintages of this wine give it lots of air time before serving. The KGBO’s price point of this wine is the same as it was in 2007. Still, it is expensive by world standards with the folks in Pennsylvania (where there is also a government-controlled wine monopoly) pay the equivalent of $10 CAD and our cousins in Australia (where the state taxes wine even more than the Canadian governments) paying the equivalent of $14 CAD. I guess if the KGBO doesn’t raise prices for another few decades then global inflation will result in us catching up and we will eventually pay a fair price for this wine.
The $24 Stéphane Aviron Vieilles Vignes Morgon Côte du Py 2014 Gamay | VINTAGES#: 424804 strangely starts out as being a simple wine with an annoying confectioners sugar element. Exposed to lots of air (decanted for several hours or tasting a partially empty bottle the next day) the wine comes together and the contents of the glass are quite enjoyable. If you have the ability to age a $24 bottle of wine my guess is that the Aviron will reward your patience in a few years. I am compelled to point out that the LCBO charged $20 for the 2013 vintage (a shameful 20% price increase in a single year).
If you are seeking a simple patio wine then consider trying the $15 Muriel Fincas de la Villa Blanco 2018 White Blend | VINTAGES#: 645127. I find the floral nature to be a bit offputting and it is a wine that I tire of after a couple of glasses.
The $14 Marqués de Toro Finca La Moura 2012 Mencia | VINTAGES#: 545939 is a wine made in a full body, dense, ripe-dried fruit-forward style. I prefer Mencia wines that have more finesse than the Toro but the price tag and the style might appeal to you. This would also make a good cooking wine.
Wines for collectors
Joe R blessed our tasting group with the 2012 vintage of the $100 Kistler Les Noisetiers Chardonnay 2017 | VINTAGES#: 251223. We did not taste the 2017 vintage but collectors of California wine know Kistler’s quality and I have no doubt that the 2017 vintage will not shine in the balanced and old-school manner that showed in the 2005 vintage we tasted. Here is a wine where the LCBO’s price has not increased from at least the 2009 vintage. On top of that bit of information, the typical retail price in the Excited States is about the same as the price we pay in the People’s Republic of Ontario. Yes, $100 a bottle is expensive in anyone’s books but if you are a collector of California Chardonnay this wine is a KGBO bargain. Rioja lovers will not be disappointed with the $40 CVNE Imperial Reserva 2014 Tempranillo Blend | VINTAGES#: 424390. This is a classic, traditional, complex, well balanced Rioja that you can drink now or cellar for a long time. This is a wine that is fairly priced. The KGBO has not significantly increased the price of this wine from previous vintages, we pay about a 10% premium to the retail value in Spain, and about 10% less than our neighbors to the south.
Wines to avoid
Given the quality of the 2015 vintage in Chianti, I was expecting much more from the $20 Castello di Albola Chianti Classico 2015 | VINTAGES#: 339937. Other Vintages releases had 2015 Chianti wines at this price point that shined.