Follow the Muddler
I am trying to speed up the process of letting you know the wines at the KGBO (a.k.a., the LCBO) that I think have merit by posting my findings to Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. You can search, find and follow thewinemuddler on any of the above platforms.
On those platforms, I will post the wines that I think are worth your money and will not post comments on wines that I tried and don’t intend on recommending. Sadly, most of the wines that I try from the KGBO fall into the latter category. These wines suffer from mediocrity. The KGBO like virtually all wine retailers use the spurious scores and comments of wine critics to inflate the appearance of quality in the wines they are trying to sell. A government-controlled monopoly that has no accountability to its customers and high government levies also means that the wines available in Canadian provinces are often overpriced. Mediocre and over priced wines…quite the tag line.
While social media tools have advantages, I find them lacking with respect to the ability to post comments. Therefore, I intend to use this blog to provide summary information and commentary, along with the occasional piece of satire.
This week’s diversion
It’s been a quiet week in Lake Control-be-gon, my home town, out there at the edge of totalitarianism. Our little town is part of the geographically vast People’s Republic of Canada where, in the recent election, the people granted Chairman (a.k.a., Prime Minister) Trudeau a second term.
Canada is a land of political opportunity that may be unmatched elsewhere. Where else can a former-part-time-high-school drama teacher hold the highest office in the land? Alas, choosing a leader was not an easy decision for our citizens. After careful thought, the people opted for a bumbling Mr. Dressup Jr., over an equally qualified and highly engaging former insurance clerk. The puddle of relevant experience in our little G7 country is a shallow one.
Closer to home, the outcome of the national election worried Emperor Ford of the Province of Ontario. With his popularity rapidly declining our Emperor finds himself desperate to raise his appeal. With his great and unmatched wisdom (well, with perhaps the exception of one other world leader), he spends hours contemplating the messages that lay hidden in the results of the federal vote. He then assembles his cabinet to announce a revelation.
My friends, I discovered the real reason Trudeau won the election.
O wise one, was it his love for the environment and pipelines?
Nope, not even close.
Then was it his ability to keep promises
like balancing the budget and electoral reform?
Think bigger, damn it, you people are such small thinkers
Oh please tell us all-knowing one.
The real reason people voted for Trudeau is
the camping tax credit. The poor want financial help to
go camping. They don’t want help paying the rent
or heating their homes or feeding their families.
What they really want is to forget that they are
poor by experiencing the joy of camping.
But Trudeau also thinks small and I know how to best him.
<<stunned silence fills the room>>
We will win the votes of the people by helping
the poor experience the virtues of fine wine.
Trudeau is spending 150 million dollars on camping and
we will best him by giving people a wine tax credit.
And, remember to get the tax credit people will
have to buy wine. Our government operates a wine monopoly
so this tax credit will win votes while costing
us almost nothing. The poor will be able to drink
fine wine and truly forget their problems.
The plan is the work of a genius. Tell us O’wise One,
how can we make sure that the people
drink good wine and not plonk?
I thought of that matter too and it’s easy to solve.
We link the amount of the rebate to the wine’s score.
For example, Carolyn Evans Hammond of The Toronto
Star awarded the 2017 Toro Bravo 96 points. When
someone buys that wine they will receive 96% of the
tax rebate. If they buy plonk, say a wine rated 87 points,
they will only receive 87% of the rebate. This way the
good citizens will enjoy sitting in a leaky tent in the rain
while sipping a fine wine like Toro Bravo.
We are speechless O’Wise one. Speechless.
As of November 1, 2019 the wines below were available. Consider asking your LCBO Product Consultant for a store transfer if a wine is not available at your preferred location.
Wines that stood out
The $23 Castello di Bossi C. Berardenga Chianti Classico 2015 Sangiovese Blend | VINTAGES#: 994608 is an enjoyable table wine made in a traditional Chianti style. The price is fair when compared to the price in the USA and Italy. A solid Italian house wine.
What a decent Chianti at a slightly better price point? Then try the try the $20 2016 San Vincenti Chianti Classico Vintages# 399907 . A Tuesday night pizza wine and an enjoyable wine solo that is true to its Sangiovese roots. We are getting a price break on this one as it retails for about 10% more in the USA.
If you prefer a GSM (Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre) blend for your table wine, give the cheap and cheerful $20 Schild Estate Vintages # 108183. A good buy for the money. This wine retails for 10% cheaper in La Belle Province and the same is true in the good old USA.
It’s nice when you can find a decent Chablis at a fair price on the shelves of the KGBO. With just a kiss of oak, the $26 Ropiteau Chablis 2017 Chardonnay | VINTAGES#:10338 is enjoyable and a good cellar protector. A decent buy for Chablis fans.
In the People’s Republic of Ontario, it’s difficult to find a decent Barbaresco wine at a reasonable price. Here’s one…the $37 Michele Chiarlo Reyna Barbaresco 2015 VINTAGES#: 583260. Fans of wines made from the Nebbiolo grape will enjoy this wine. Collectors will want some bottles to protect the more expensive Nebbiolo based wines in their cellars from premature consumption.
Here’s a decent white table wine at a budget-friendly price. You can try the 2017 Critone Bianco Val di Neto Chardonnay Blend (VINTAGES#: 169169) for $18 a bottle. The wine does not have the complexity that is described in the posted tasting note but it’s a versatile wine at a fair price (priced similarly in the USA).
Who would pay $30 for a Pinot Gris(PG)? Me for one because PG wine from this Alto Adige winery is like quality PG from Alsace. The Nals Margreid Punggl Pinot Grigio 2015 | VINTAGES#: 395756 will set you back $30. This wine’s complexity emerges after 20 minutes. Decant and enjoy. Even with the 7% price increase from the previous year, we are paying a fair price at the KGBO (a.k.a., the LCBO) as this wine retails in the USA for the same price.
I’ve been waiting for the LCBO to put a decent house sparkling wine on the shelf, one that does not suck and one that your bank account will appreciate. Try the $19 Graham Beck Brut Sparkling (Vintages 593483). It’s a little high on the residual sugar but it works. Beck’s Graham Beck Méthode Cap Classique Brut Rosé Pinot Noir/Chardonnay (175588) is also a great value pick.
If it is champagne you seek the best value on the KGBO shelves presently is the $55 Gaston Chiquet Tradition 1er Cru Brut Champagne | VINTAGES#: 665851. A solid, reliable, enjoyable wine from a really good producer.
Wines for collectors
When Ian D’Agata, my favorite wine critic, says a wine is “hauntingly beautiful” I pay attention. The Fuligni Brunello di Montalcino 2013 (VINTAGES#: 245225) will set you back $100. Yes, that’s a lot of money but when I tasted this wine I am sure that I heard angels singing. A small price to pay to hear angels sing. The price in Ontario is not a bad one as our friends in the USA pay about $10 less for this wine. It’s significantly cheaper in Europe.
Your bank account will not allow you to acquire a $100 wine for your cellar? At a cheaper price point of $25, the Bodega Piedra Negra Gran Lurton Single Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 VINTAGES#: 980334 is one to consider. This wine is not any where near the same class as the Fuligni. It’s is a well made cab, one that is already 6 years old but cellaring it for a few more years will pay dividends. The Suckling score of 95 is ludicrous but you’ll get 95% of Ford’s wine credit. The price is roughly the same as amount paid in the USA.
A re-release of the $70 Torres Mas La Plana Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 | VINTAGES#: 129676 is worth grabbing if you failed to get bottles on the first release in 2018. I’ve collected this wine for a long time and know how beautifully it ages. Put it away for as long as you can stand it. Until the release in 2018, the LCBO charged $60 for this wine. Thankfully, they did not increase the price yet another 17% with the re-release. With no ability to challenge the KGBO’s pricing who knows what we will pay next year. The SAQ in La Belle Province sells this wine for $65. Our American friends have to pony up the equivalent of $90CAD for this wine. There’s not many bottles remaining in the KGBO system.