11 may 2019 vintages release

Hopefully, in time for your long weekend, TheMuddler returns from his partying, traveling, and rest.

Outstanding wines


Wines for wine geeks

If I was asked to write the tag line for the $32 CVNE Monopole Clásico 2015 | VINTAGES#: 489583, I would borrow Monty Python’s expression and say “and now for something completely different”. The posted tasting notes do not do this wine justice. This is a white Rioja wine made with a small amount of Sherry that is added during the wine-making process. It sounds a newly found gimmick but CVNE’s use of this process goes back 100 years. To me, the outcome brilliantly combines the attributes of both winemaking styles. The nose has elements of sour berries, stone fruit, and chamomile flowers. On the palate, there are fruit, nuts, spices, and saline-mineral notes. Please note that this is an oxidized style of wine so it may not be your cup of tea and this is the only reason I classified the wine as one for geeks. I think that this wine so good that I ordered a case.

There is a sad side to this tale as it is another example of our supply change, likely the KGBO, using their monopoly power causing the citizens of this People’s Republic to pay a 25% price premium to the amount paid by our friends in La Belle Province. I really find this gouging upsetting and unfair.


Wines to consider

If you are a fan of Rhone Valley white wine but struggle with either their price or lack of availability then try the $20 Pomar Junction Sidetrack White 2017 | VINTAGES#: 644492. This wine is a blend of Viognier, Roussanne, and Grenache Blanc and the attributes of each grape results in an intense wine with some complexity. The wine’s acidity and 7 grams of residual sugar mean this wine is best served at the dinner table.

wine_114643_webFans of the fruit forward nature that typically comes from New World Pinot Noir should try the $25 Rapaura Springs Reserve Pinot Noir 2017 | VINTAGES#: 645184. The posted tasting notes are accurate. This is textbook New World Pinot at a decent price. Well, the decent price comment is a relative one as in the People’s Republic of Ontario we typically pay more for a decent Pinot Noir. This wine retails for as little as $13 in its home country of New Zealand.


If you are looking for a cheap table wine consider the $16 Feudo Maccari Olli Grillo 2017 | VINTAGES#: 477877. The flavors of lemon zest and stone fruit are enjoyable. There is an unpleasant bitterness on the wine’s finish, an attribute that suggests to me that it will be hard to enjoy more than a glass of this wine without food to accompany it. cq5dam.web.1280.1280If you find yourself in a Barolo emergency then consider the $46 Damilano Lecinquevigne Barolo 2013 Nebbiolo  VINTAGES#: 454488. The posted tasting notes overstate the case. In the land of Barolo, you get what you pay for and rarely do you get a Barolo at this price point that you would boast about. Damilano’s Langhe Nebbiolo released last October was just as good as this wine at nearly half the asking price (sadly the Langhe Nebbiolo is sold out). If you buy the Barolo, you will find that the wine will benefit from decanting it a couple of hours in advance of serving.

wine_114677_webThe alcohol level in the $14 Honoro Vera Monastrell 2017 Monastrell (Mourvèdre)  | VINTAGES#: 167684 came across as out-of-balance. I find it hard to believe that the wine is 13.5% as stated on the KGBO’s website (note that the bottle states 15%). The wine is fruit forward, has a meaty gaminess and elements of dried fruit. The residual sugar is also a little high (6 grams). To me, this would be a good cooking wine for stews and, as stated in the tasting notes, likely would pair well with that same dish. Outside of that context, I this is a fine that I would struggle to enjoy more than a single glass.


Fans of Trimbach Riesling will not be disappointed with the $35 Trimbach Réserve Riesling 2016 | VINTAGES#: 247023. Well, I need to take that comment back as the price that the KGBO is now charging is disappointing. First the wine. I find Trimbach’s style to be predictable and consistent. Bone dry, steely in texture, with decent fruit, and acidity. This producer’s entry-level wines are very ordinary and not worth the money. This reserve ups the game a bit but honestly there is better and more complex Alsace Riesling at this price point (but good luck finding them presently at our government supply monopoly). The KGBO used to sell this wine for $25 and that’s the price point vendors charge in Europe. If you are in need of a decent but not fantastic Riesling and don’t mind paying the premium then try this wine.

clone_wine_74375_webI believe that significant time has passed since the KGBO release a good cru Beaujolais so the $25 Le Griottier 2015 Gamay | VINTAGES#: 635805 fits the bill. The posted tasting notes are accurate and the wine is a bit clumsy presently. A couple of years in the cellar would bring things together.wine_114699_web


Wines that I am avoiding

The $20 Marcel Cabelier Vieilles Vignes Pinot Noir 2016 | VINTAGES#: 511204 seems to be generating some buzz as last Saturday the bottles disappeared quickly from the shelves of my KGBO. I don’t get it. Perhaps we tasted wine from a bad bottle as the contents of our glass exhibited signs of instability. The wine’s nose was reminiscent of HP sauce and Ketchup. Exposure to air helped but the sauces kept returning. For that reason, I am staying away.

all natural wines have “barnyard” attributes (16 march 2019 vintages release)

Note that I will be away and not be able to comment on the 30 March 2019 release.

This week diversion

It’s been a quiet week in Lake Control-be-gon, my home town, out there on the edge of totalitarianism. This week we started to see signs of Spring. For most people, this means a rising temperature and melting snowbanks but, for Jollie LeBlois, the first sign of Spring is the arrival of fresh artichokes at the Spadina Fruit Market. Jollie buys as many as he can carry. While he prunes away the uneatable leaves to get to the delicious core his thoughts drift to the sunny plains in Italy, Spain, and California where Spring arrived long ago. Whether the indicator is artichokes or snowbanks Spring was in the air in my home town.

It was a hard week for Jollie as he was suspended from participating in the Vintage Tasting Panel. On Monday, the panel gathered to taste natural wines. Jollie misunderstood and thought that they would be tasting wines naturally.  The nude Jollie sniffed and swirled the wines while he wondered why his colleagues were fully clothed. The rest of the panel, being polite and politically correct, said nothing about the disturbing display of nudity. That day, the panel came to the unfortunate false conclusion that all natural wines had attributes frequently described by wine critics as “barnyard.” Jollie spent the remainder of his week back in the store fetching “Classics” orders for the LCBO’s pretentious customers and helping others find their supply of “Girls’ Night Out”, in cans.

Father Suckling, who heard of LeBlois’s latest folly, came to the store to check on Jollie’s state. Father Suckling took it upon himself to engage and comfort the police officer that the LCBO hired to act as their security guard. Father Suckling made the flippant comment that the officer must find the assigned duty to be “a boring gig”, to which the officer replied, “you would not have said that 10 minutes ago when I tackled and wrestled a shoplifter.” Father Suckling rated Jollie’s recovery 96+ points.  The officer rated his conversation with Father Suckling 84- points.

Ah, the important lesson of avoiding making quick and inappropriate assumptions. The next time that I see a wine critic sipping wine in the nude or a police officer looking bored I will cut them some slack and show some them appreciation. They both might have a story to tell.

That’s the news from my home town. Where are the women are strong, all the men good looking, and all the wines are rated 100 + points.

My apologies to Garrison Keillor for poorly imitating the storyline of Lake Wobegon, his hometown.

GTA wine tasting events

If you will be in the greater Toronto area on Wednesday, March 27, you have a terrific opportunity to taste top-quality 2009 white Burgundy wines. The wines are all from Henri Boillot, one of Burgundy’s top producers. This tasting features a comparison of Meursault and Chassagne-Montrachet and will include village and 1er Crus wines. Details are available at www.winetasters.ca. A few seats are remaining.

If you be in the greater Toronto area on Tuesday, April 16, you have an exciting opportunity to explore the world of dessert wines. The tasting will take you around the world to explore the different styles of sweet wines and the grapes used to
make them. Details are available at https://www.torontovintners.org/upcoming-events.

The quest for a $10 decent wine

You may have noticed the recent articles in the Ontario media about wines available at the LCBO for less than $10. It started several weeks ago when the wine critic for The Star rated the $8 Toro Bravo a shocking 96 points, a rating that surely was the cause of the LCBO selling thousands of cases of this wine. The wine critic for The Globe also recently got into the act and rated the $10 Castillo de Monseran a much more lack-luster score of 88 points.

I secured a bottle of these wines and served them blind to the group gathered together on Sunday. The people did not know if they were tasting a $10 wine or a $40 wine. They did quickly conclude that the contents of their glasses were not enjoyable. Not one person finished the taste of these wines. We tired of the Toro Bravo very quickly and, for me, the finish dominated by the taste of saccharin was particularly unpleasant. Note that the Toro Bravo has 9 grams of residual sugar, which is about 3 to 4 times what a decent dry red wine contains (like processed food, sugar is often used to try to enhance the consumer’s taste experience). The Monseran has a finish that is dominated by acid. It is a clumsy wine that may work with food but it’s really hard to drink a glass solo. I have no use for the Toro Bravo and the Monseran is a cooking wine at best.

Two points before moving onto the topic of better wines.

First, my opinion is that the real purpose of wine scores is to sell crappy or mediocre wine. It’s that simple as it is that offensive and sad. The consumer falls for it all the time. A score of 96 points published in a widely-read paper moves thousands of cases of crap. I don’t know why critics do such things and I suspect impaired objectivity may be one of the source issues. Wineries, agents, and retailers love high score exposure as it sells what otherwise may not sell.

Second, while I think the search for good wine at a cheap price point is noble, we need to recognize the economic realities that are one of the problems of having an overly taxed substance being controlled by a government-run monopoly. Check out the July 2018 LCBO pricing policies by clicking on this link. In the details described in the document, you will find that the $10 retail price point means that the LCBO paid $3.90 for that bottle of wine. That $3.90 covers shipping, marketing, production, and (hopefully) some profit for the hardworking producer. At the $10 price point, the actual cost of the wine in the bottle is trivial and that is the amount of quality that you should also expect to find in your glass.

Outstanding wines

There are two enjoyable red Bordeaux wines in the release that are offered at a decent price point.

First, is the $28 Château Magnol 2015 Bordeaux Red | VINTAGES#: 384271. This is a classic-styled Bordeaux and the warm 2015 vintage resulted in a wine that is nice and ripe (often one finds a presence of unpleasant vegetal notes in cheaper Bordeaux wines). I would not cellar it for 10 years as suggested by the tasting notes nor do I think that the wine is “extraordinary.” But, we found this wine to be a nice wine at this price point. That said, you can pick this wine up in Rochester for the equivalent of about $20CAD, meaning out there on the edge of totalitarianism, we pay a 40% premium.


Second, is the $25 Château Teyssier 2015 Bordeaux | VINTAGES#: 226035. Again, it’s likely that the ripeness of this wine comes from the 2015 vintage. This wine has an intriguing nose and it is made in a modern style with a flavor profile and length that many people will find very appealing. In France, this wine retails for the equivalent of $22CAD.


If you are in need of a house white wine consider the $20 Pieropan Soave Classico 2016
Garganega Blend | VINTAGES#: 946848. Hey, this wine will not win awards but it is crisp, focused, has body, some complexity, and decent acidity. It will work with food and enjoyable on its own. In Italy and Pennsylvania (a state where the people also put up with a government liquor control board), this wine retails for less than $15CAD.



Wines to consider

If your budget is ultra value wines (say around $15) then consider buying the $14 Castaño Casa Carmela 2015 Monastrell (Mourvèdre)  | VINTAGES#: 639930. In his typical style, wine critic Luis Gutiérrez gives an over-the-top review that retailers such as the KGBO love to publish. It’s a drinkable and much more enjoyable than the Toro Bravo or the Monseran that are discussed above.


If you are a fan of oak-forward Chardonnay then consider the $30 Hidden Bench Estate Chardonnay 2016 | VINTAGES#: 68817. It’s a little too oaky for me and the price point is too high for the underlying quality of the wine (a real struggle for Ontario producers simply because they have higher input costs). The posted tasting notes are a sappy and embarrassing overstatement.


The $52 Giacosa Fratelli Bussia Barolo 2013 Nebbiolo  | VINTAGES#: 344721 is made in the modern style and can be consumed now. This is Barolo emergency wine. For example, say you are heading to your friend’s place for dinner, you call him from the LCBO, and your friend “why don’t you bring a Barolo?”.


Fans of Super Tuscan wines will enjoy the $44 Poggio Verrano Dròmos 2010
Cabernet Sauvignon Blend | VINTAGES#: 107383. This full-bodied wine is ripe, rich, balanced and enjoyable. The posted tasted notes are accurate. From a value perspective, consider the conflicting comments that this wine retails for the equivalent of $60CAD in Europe but our cousins in La Belle Province can pick up this wine at the SAQ for $40.


The $20 Provolo Campotorbian Ripasso Valpolicella Superiore 2012 Corvina Blend | VINTAGES#: 974402 is a good-value Italian red wine that we tasted in this release. The posted tasting notes are effusive and overstate the case. If you need a decent Italian table wine, consider buying a few bottles. With 9 grams of residual sugar, the wine is slightly sweet, and that feature is something that most people will appreciate (even if they say that they don’t like any sweetness in their wines). There is enough acidity to balance things out.


If it is a Spanish table wine that you seek then buy a few bottles of the $25 Balbás Reserva 2006 Tempranillo Blend | VINTAGES#: 85183. Made in a smooth oak forward style this wine will appeal to the tastes of many people. I intend to research this producer. This wine was released at least once previously (I first commented on this wine in a March 2018 post) and there are a lot of bottles in the system. Balbas Ardal must be a massive producer.


If you are a fan of Italian Syrah, or you wish to try one, then give the $47 Terralsole Solista Syrah 2006 | VINTAGES#: 574053 a try. This wine is elegant, mature, balanced, and quite enjoyable. It’s a good wine to bring to a dinner party.


Wines that I am avoiding

The $20 Bastide Miraflors Syrah/Vieilles Vignes Grenache 2015 Syrah/Grenache—VINTAGES#: 320499 is a wine that was previously released on March 3, 2018. Yes, the same wine, the same stupid review, and the same price one year later. If first you don’t succeed, try, try again. We did not taste a bottle from this release but in my comments last year I described this wine as:

“…a tannin bomb. The posted tasting notes are just nonsense as is the score of 94 points. Jeb your stock just got lower in my book.”

I consider the $36 Abacela Fiesta Tempranillo 2015 | VINTAGES#: 629147 to be an expensive gimmick wine (that is, “hey, let’s try a Tempranillo from Oregon). Stick to Spain, especially at this price point.

89 points, the lowest score he ever awarded a confession (2 march 2019 vintages release)

This week diversion

It’s been a quiet week in Lake Control-be-gon, my home town, out there on the edge of totalitarianism. Winter raged on but the locals take the cold temperatures in stride.

The cold weather was not the only subject that caused chatter in the town. The majority of the citizens of Lake Control-be-gon may be stoic Lutherans and Catholics but that does not mean that they don’t enjoy a little drama to heat up their of their daily lives. This was a happy week in my hometown as fate or fortune provided the town folk lots to talk about.

Another scandal hit the Mayor’s office. The Control-be-gon Moon, our local paper, captured Mayor Trudeau’s photo as he dashed from his office to take sanctuary in the church of Our Lady of Perpetual High Wine Scores. The Moon’s front page photo caused Jollie LeBlois to comment to the crowd gathered at the Tim Horton’s that our mayor had the same look on his face years ago when he was the high school hero who fell off his snowboard in front of all the twirling cheerleaders.

Our mayor never got over his difficult childhood. Most of us stop believing that monsters hide under our bed and anxieties lurk deep in our bedroom closet. But, our mayor knows these demons exist and since his childhood, he has relied on the contents of his sock drawer to protect him.

Our major is deeply indebted to his protective socks. The morning of that fateful photo, he bypassed his favorite Desmarais socks, rummaged past his numerous pairs of Bombardier socks, and confidently slipped on his pair of SNC Lavalin socks. Our mayor didn’t choose well; the socks failed him and, not only did monsters emerge from under his bed, those socks didn’t provide Mayor Trudeau with sufficient grip to close the door to his anxiety closet.

Safely in the confession booth, Mayor Trudeau attempted to empty the darkness from his heart to the all-knowing Father Suckling. The confession was going swimmingly until our mayor attempted to mitigate his guilt by stating that “sometimes people draw different conclusions from the same experience.” The unimpressed Father Suckling heard the mayor say this before. Contrition in a confession is like tannins in red wine. Their presence provides the necessary structure to support the other elements. Father Suckling found that the confession lacked this structure and rated our mayor’s performance a scant 89 points, the lowest score he ever awarded to a confession or a bottle of wine.

Deputy-mayor Ford was thankful for the mayor’s woes as it distracted the town folk’s attention from his firing of Hans Blair, the town’s deputy dog catcher. Mayor Trudeau is trying to recapture his snowboarding social status and our deputy-mayor never stopped being the playground bully. It’s rumored that her husband’s firing so upset Lulu Blair that she sought comfort in downing cans of Jeb Dunnick 96+ points rated wine.

That’s the news from my home town. Where are the women are strong, all the men good looking, and all the wines are rated 100 + points.

My apologies to Garrison Keillor for poorly imitating the storyline of Lake Wobegon, his hometown and to Rex Murphy for blatantly and shamelessly stealing his line about the high school champion falling off his snowboard in front of the twirling cheerleaders.


Before we jump into the 2 March 2019 release, I would like to point out one item and one wine tasting that has seats available still.

First, I am extremely frustrated with the KGBO’s new http://www.lcbo.com. The most aggravating issue is finding stores that have the product you seek. You can work around that problem in two ways. One approach is to type your hometown into the search field that appears when you click on “Check Nearby Stores (you first have to click on the + next to Buy In-store). The other option is to use http://www.vintages.com until the KGBO takes down that site. I believe that the Vintages site will eventually disappear as my understanding is the KGBO will combine their three sites (www.lcbo.com, http://www.vintates.com, and http://www.vintagesshoponline.ca). Having consumers deal with three sites is confusing, consolidation is a noble goal, but so far the KGBOs efforts have made their customers worse off.

Second, if you will be in the greater Toronto area on Wednesday, March 27, you have a terrific opportunity to taste top-quality 2009 white Burgundy wines. The wines are all from Henri Boillot, one of Burgundy’s top producers. This tasting features a comparison of Meursault and Chassagne-Montrachet village and 1er Crus wines. Details are available at www.winetasters.ca.

Outstanding wines

If you are a fan of California Cabs and if you find yourself in need of a decent house red wine then stock up on the $20 Chateau St. Jean Cabernet Sauvignon 2016 | VINTAGES#: 38034. This wine is commercial in style, with aromas and flavors true to what one expects from a Cab from California. Remember that most California winemakers try to please the palate of Pastor Parker by evaluating the alcohol and sugar content of their wines. This one is no exception but Chateau St. Jean pulls it off and for $20 you will have a decent house red wine.


Like Cabs but not into Cali-Cabs? Then give the $24 Wynns Coonawarra Estate The Siding Cabernet Sauvignon 2016 | VINTAGES#: 333229 a try. I find that Wynns makes their wines in an old-world style. The result is a Cabernet that has new-world ripe fruit with some of the finesse that I find appealing in wines from the old-world. This wine would also benefit from time in your cellar. Unfortunately, the KGBO is gouging us on the price as this wine retails in the equally-highly-taxed country of Australia for the equivalent of $15 CAD. The pricing stinks so I will be holding my nose when I buy this one.


Not looking for a Cab and prefer a fruit-forward Pinot Noir? Then taste the $20 Viña Leyda Single Vineyard Las Brisas Pinot Noir 2016 | VINTAGES#: 632919. This wine has the red fruit flavors one expects in a new world Pinot Noir, fruit-forward but not overdone, nicely integrated oak, and decent structure. A versatile wine at a decent price.



Prefer Gamay to Pinot Noir? Then you may want to try the $20 Les Croix Rouges Juliénas 2017 Beaujolais | VINTAGES#: 634691. This is a fun red wine and the nice level of acidity makes it a wine that would work with food.


It was not that long ago that one could find a decent wine for less than $15. The government-mandated-annual tax and price increases have moved the bar such that it is now hard to find a decent wine for less than $20. I think that you will find the $13 Swartland Winemaker’s Collection Chenin Blanc 2018 | VINTAGES#: 631523 to be a time machine that, from a price perspective, takes you back to a better time. I found that the posted tasting notes to be accurate. Fair warning, a local wine critic found this wine to be wanting. But, the people that tasted this wine blind last Sunday concluded otherwise. FYI, this wine sells for the equivalent of $5 CAD in South Africa.


As the Monty Python troop used to say “and now for something completely different”. Trying venturing away from the ubiquitous international grape varieties and try the $22 Monte del Frà Lugana 2017 White Blend  | VINTAGES#: 631051.  The posted tasting notes are accurate. With 8 grams of residual sugar, you may detect some sweetness but it’s integrated with the other things going on in this interesting white wine.


Another outstanding blended white wine is the $19 Hugel Gentil 2016 White Blend | VINTAGES#: 367284. This one will appeal to fans of Alsatian wines. Ian D’Agata did a great job in the posted tasting notes that describe this wine. Fair warning, if you are not a fan of Gewurztraminer you may not like this wine. The blend contains just a touch of this distinctive grape. That touch works for me and will work for Gewurztraminer fans but not the grape’s foes.


Wines to consider

Once in a while, I long for the days when I would run into a wine that possed personality that stemmed from the contents of the glass being rough around the edges. Winemakers now strive for smoothness. The outcome, especially for low-end wines, is a boring and unpleasant wine (see my comments on the Campos de Enanzo Basiano below for an example). I love the rustic nature of the $15 Cantina San Paolo Aglianico 2017 Aglianico | VINTAGES#: 473132.  This wine reminded me of the days before so many producers made wine to please Father Suckling and Pastor Parker.  Sipping this wine and having it with food made me happy so I am buying more. Fair warnings: (1) you may find that the elevated acidity makes this wine a little too hard to enjoy solo, (2) the other people in our tasting group were not fond of this wine, and (3) the local wine critics give this wine a ridiculously high score.


The $24 Mazzei Ser Lapo Riserva Chianti Classico 2015 Sangiovese Blend | VINTAGES#: 288530 makes me angry so I reluctantly place it in the category as a wine you should consider buying. If you taste it you will likely conclude that this wine is quite yummy, smooth, and very drinkable. It’s made to please Father Suckling, who awarded the wine with a ridiculous score of 95 points. Why does this wine anger me? Well, to me it does not have the charm that I expect and I need from Sangiovese. If the palate and influence of these freaking wine critics spoil Sangiovese it will really piss me off.


Looking for a simple white wine? One that, if summer were here, you would sip on your patio? Then give the $20 Izadi Blanco 2017 Viura/Malvasia | VINTAGES#: 586396 a try.


Wines that I am avoiding

It’s with some sadness that I will be avoiding the $20 Kew Marsanne 2016 | VINTAGES#: 485334. The disappointment stems from me enjoying previous vintages of this wine. This vintage I found the use of oak to be heavy-handed and clumsy. To me, the result is a Marsanne wine trying to be a heavily oaked Chardonnay.

You can feel the burn when you taste the $19 Luigi Bosca Cabernet Sauvignon 2015  VINTAGES#: 128629.  That burn stems from alcohol that is not integrated with the other components of the wine. After being open for a day, the wine was dead. Given the other Cabernet Sauvignon choices in this release, I don’t see any reason to buy this one.

The $13 There Tussock Jumper Chenin Blanc 2017 | VINTAGES#: 480764 is alternative to the Swartland Winemaker’s Collection discussed above. I found the Tussock had a strange banana profile to the noise and has an odd distracting finish.

Fans of red Bordeaux should avoid the $30 Château de Barbe Blanche 2015 | VINTAGES#: 48066. The high alcohol burn is evidence that this wine was made to please Father Suckling and Pastor Parker.

What to read an exaggerated tasting note from the Vintages panel? What to taste a cheap wine trying to be smooth? Then try the $12 Campos de Enanzo Basiano Tempranillo 2017 | VINTAGES#: 644484. This is an okay cooking wine and nothing more.


he was distracting the hijinks of the children (16 february 2019 vintages release)

This week’s diversion
(with apologies to Garrison Keillor)

It’s been a quiet week in Lake Control-be-gon, my home town, out near the edge of totalitarianism. Winter ravaged on but the natives take the cold temperatures in stride. In my town, the residents stoically endure the weather in the same manner as they cope with the government controlling their daily activities.

Father Suckling’s exorcism of the anti-high-wine-score demons that took up residence in Jollie LeBlois’ soul resulted in Jollie’s return as a functioning member of society.  As one might expect after such trauma, Jollie began wandering the streets in a zombie-like manner. This lobotomized behavior so impressed LCBO management that they immediately hired the perpetually happy Jollie. Jollie spent his days smirking among the wine bottles, uttering a Rainman mantra (high scores, lots and lots of high scores), while he replaced Robert Parker 94 point stickers with the more consumer-friendly Jeb Dunnick 96+ point version.

With his hard work resulting in soaring sales, Jollie landed a spot on the Vintages Tasting Panel. During his first tasting, he watched in awe as the panel arrived at the groundbreaking revelation that Chianti pairs well with “pasta bolognese or mature cheeses.” Jollie’s contribution was to express the thought that someone should let the folks in Italy in on this discovery asap.

Down at the Tim Horton’s, the TVs blared the latest update from the scandal that is ransacking Ottawa’s Politburo. Pastor Parker (the removal of his stickers putting him in a foul mood) upset the crowd when he stammered loudly that the resignation of Comrade Butts was the equivalent of the school bus driver throwing himself under the bus because he was distracting the hijinks of the children. Father Suckling calmed the situation by purchasing two double-doubles and the gathered crowd then enjoyed a lively debate on whether the coffee was worthy of 96 or 97 points. Restaurant Brands International was forced to print the lower score stickers from Pastor Parker when Father Suckling refused to waive solicitor-client privilege.

That’s the news from my home town. Where are the women are strong, all the men good looking, and all the wines are rated 100 + points.


My report on this release is quite late. My apologies.

Outstanding wines

The $19 La Guardiense Janare del Sannio Greco 2017 VINTAGES#: 631085 is my value white wine pick in the release. The flavor profile is more citrus than the stone fruit as stated in the posted tasting but otherwise, the Vintage panel did a decent job describing this wine. The level of acidity is quite nice in this versatile white wine. This wine retails in Italy for about the equivalent of about $16CAD. Locations elsewhere in Europe pay about the same amount of money as we do here in the People’s Republic of Ontario.


The wine that caused the groundbreaking revelation that “Chianti pairs with pasta bolognese or mature cheeses” is the $19 Renzo Masi Riserva Chianti 2015 Sangiovese Blend VINTAGES#: 969469. This wine will not set your world on fire. It’s a bit rustic, has good acidity, and the typical red fruit and earth that one expects in a decent Chianti. All of these attributes appeal to me and I was low on Tuesday night wines so I bought a few bottles.


It appears that the $23 Rioja Vega Crianza Edición Limitada 2015 Tempranillo / Graciano VINTAGES#: 638783 is sold out. If a supply appears and you find yourself in need of a well-balanced-value Rioja then consider grabbing a few bottles.  While the 95 point score is ridiculous, the posted tasting notes do a decent job.


Wines to consider

It appears that the $29 La Regola 2011 Cabernet Franc Blend VINTAGES#: 420653 is already sold out. Perhaps the powers at our all knowing and all controlling monopoly will provide us with more product. I found the presence of fresh green bell pepper in a fully ripe wine to be interesting. Sipping and observing how this wine improved over a three day period also indicates that this wine would reward cellaring. The posted tasting notes are accurate. Fans of Cab Franc-based wines should consider trying this example from sunny Italy. The vintage of this wine that was included in the May 2016 Vintages release retailed for $22. That $7 increment represents about an 11% annual compounded price increase (nearly 32% in total over the 3 years). Someone is being very very greedy and should go confess to Father Suckling. I bet that you are wishing that you could be so greedy in your annual salary adjustment. Go ahead and try. If the KGBO can do it then why not you?


Wines for wine geeks

I may develop a rule that when I am in doubt on how to categorize a wine I will just call it a geek wine. The $20 Viña Leyda Canelo Single Vineyard Syrah 2015 VINTAGES#: 632703 was the cause of my dilemma. This Chilian wine is a chameleon. Out of the gate, to me, this wine tasted fresh and fruity like a decent Pinot Noir. With time in the glass, the wine took on some of the classic Syrah attributes, including the presence of bacon fat that is often found with Syrah-based wines from the Northern Rhone valley. If you are willing and able to age a $20 wine, my guess is that the Leyda Canelo would reward patient collectors.


Wines that I am avoiding

I dislike the taste of saccharin in wine, so I am not a fan of the $29 Quartier Pinot Noir 2016 VINTAGES#: 632554. In any event, at the time of writing, it appears that this wine is no longer available.

I have previously fessed up to my sensitivity to what I perceive to be unpleasant sulfur attributes that are present in many Sauvignon Blanc-based wines. To me, the $22 Awatere River by Louis Vavasour Sauvignon Blanc 2017 VINTAGES#: 492272 has this unpleasant characteristic. I also found it out-of-balance both in terms of elevated acidity lacking support and an unpleasant bitter finish. That said, the local wine critics love this wine. Maybe I am out-to-lunch and should have sent my glass over to them instead of pouring it down the drain. This bottle will be returned for a refund.

gossip spreads quickly and blasphemy transcends denominations (2 february 2019 vintages release)

This week’s diversion
(with profound apologies to Garrison Keillor)
(and apologies to readers who don’t get the obscure Americana cultural reference)

It’s been a quiet week in Lake Control-be-gon, my home town. Winter unleashed its anger this week and people avoided the artic temperatures by staying home. Sales at the KGBO liquor control board plunged but, no worries, the rate of government-encouraged shoplifting also declined prodigiously.

The cold weather was also responsible for the large number of comments submitted on the communist sounding “choice and convenience for the people” survey. Chairman Ford, while posing with his doppelganger Wiarton Willie, tried to ease fears by reassuring that any change to wine retailing in the People’s Republic will be based his government’s three guiding principles of rhetoric, impulse, and reversal. Not being one to miss a photo opt, Chairman Trudeau added that he would overrule any change that involved a pipeline or did not address wine’s obvious gender inequality issues.

Down at the Tim Horton’s, Jollie LeBlois spoke of this travels and he regaled people with implausible tales of lands where the government did not treat wine as a controlled substance; places where people had a choice, store owners had the expertise, and wine was taxed the same way as other life essentials.

The gathered crowd’s acceptance was intoxicating and Jollie decided to push at the edges. The crowd gasped when he shouted that wine scores  “lack meaning.” Tragedy struck quickly with his follow-up claim that good wine sells itself and “the real purpose of scores is to help wineries and retailers move their mediocrity.”  Unfortunately for Jollie, gossip spreads quickly and blasphemy transcends denominations.

Recognizing the dangerous work of a cult, Father Suckling, of the Church of Our Lady of Perpetual High Scores, ordered Jollie’s detention and administered the standard exorcism of intermittent waterboarding until one correctly identifies the difference between a James Halliday 96 point Australian Shiraz and one that he rates 98 points. Over at the Lutheran church, Pastor Parker provided solace to the confused masses with a stirring and timely sermon on the importance of your ability to believe in what you cannot believe.  Under a full moon, Jeb Dunnuck sacrificed a goat in the KGBO’s parking lot “just to be on the safe side”.

With the blessing of these Dukes and Duchesses of Deception, the 100 point scale experienced a resurrection, of sorts. Such was Jollie LeBlois’ 15 minutes of fame. That’s the news from my home town. Where are the women are strong, all the men good looking, and all the wines are rated 100 + points.

GTA wine events

If you live or will be visiting the Greater Toronto Area, there are two upcoming wine tasting events that may interest you.

On February 19, the Toronto Vintners Club (TVC) will present a tasting of Chianti Classico Gran Selezione. The Gran Selezione designation was created in 2013 with the objective of providing a category of Chianti that 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 compare and contrast the five styles of port and determine the style(s) that you prefer. Details on this event are available at https://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

If you are a fan of Italian red wine then the KGBO (a.k.a, the LCBO) managed to provide you with two great wines in this release.

First up is the $28 Vinosia Taurasi Santandrea 2013 Aglianico—VINTAGES#: 172692. I think that Campania’s star is rising as the region is doing wonderful things with the Aglianico grape. Yes, this wine has a firm tannic backbone but it provides the necessary structure for the other things going on with this wine. This is a great food wine and a full-bodied wine to sip on a cold winter’s night. If you wish, you may age this for a long time in your cellar. Unfortunately, this is a wine where we are being fleeced by KGBO greed. It would be so nice to be in Italy where I could happily (and legally) sip this wine with grilled meats at a BBQ in the park for the mere price of $21CAD a bottle.


The $19 Viberti La Gemella Barbera d’Alba 2016 Barbera—VINTAGES#: 632372 is a well-made and balanced Barbera. Wines made from the Barbera grape can be overly acidic but this one has great balance. The Vintage Tasting Panel did a good job in describing this wine although the suggested food pairing seems to be somewhat random to me. Based on the locations of the worldwide supply, I am guessing that this wine is made for the North American market. It is readily available in the good old USA at about the same retail price point. A great table wine and a great buy.



The pleasant surprise for me at the tasting was how well the two Portuguese wine we tasted blind showed. The $16 Opta Red 2015 Touriga Nacional Blend—VINTAGES#: 633834 had many of the characteristics of a good Côtes du Rhône. Try a bottle and just might conclude that you have a great value table wine on your hands.  FYI, this wine retails for the equivalent of $10CAD in Europe. Do you still think that the People’s Republic of Ontario KGBO provides you with great value and are treating your money with respect? Sure you do…if you think  60% premium is nothing.



If you follow this blog then you know that Spanish wines often perform well in our blind tasting process. The $24 Marqués del Puerto Reserva 2010 Tempranillo/Mazuelo—VINTAGES#: 638767 is a versatile and aged red wine.  The oak is a bit too forward for my taste but the style of this nearly decade-old wine will appeal to people’s taste and the wine would be a hit in several settings.


Wines to consider

I think that you will be rewarded if you cellar the $25 Mommessin Grandes Mises Saint-Amour 2016 Gamay—VINTAGES#: 630053 for a couple of years. I like my wines to be less fruit forward and thus my conclusion that time in the bottle will help the fruit integrate with the other components of this wine. Other people will find the lovely wild-strawberry jam fruit profile will be too hard to resist and their bottles will disappear quickly. The posted tasted notes are accurate. Comparable pricing exists in other jurisdictions making the price charged by our government monopoly a fair one.


I had trouble classifying the $27 Faiveley Bourgogne Pinot Noir 2015—VINTAGES#: 528018. The ripeness of the 2015 vintage caused many people in our tasting group to guess that their glass contained decent Oregon Pinot Noir. Fans of fruit forward styled red Burgundy will enjoy this wine. The KGBO is charging us 12.5% more this year than they charged for the 2014 vintage last year. Sigh.


The second Portuguese red to consider is the $14 Porta da Ravessa Reserva Tinto 2015 Touriga Nacional Blend—VINTAGES#: 631010. This one is slightly cheaper than the Opta, the fruit is darker, and also has dried characteristics. An enjoyable wine at the price point and is a good candidate for a value based house red wine.


Something weird is going. In this release we see, for at least the third time, the $24 Ardal Selección Especial Reserva 2006 Tempranillo Blend—VINTAGES#: 167700.  Our tasting group did not taste the first release (I think in February 2017) of this wine. We did taste the second release (November 2017) and we thought that it was an oaky mess. Apparently, this producer bulk stores this wine and releases it in batches. Based on the bottle we opened from this release, the content is pretty good. Still, I can’t help wondering if I want to buy a wine where there is so much variation. Bottom line is that we liked this wine and if you are looking for an aged wine to accompany grilled proteins give it a try.


Wines that I am avoiding

I guess that I learn the hard way as I am sticking with my quest to find good Argentina Cab Fran at a reasonable price. The $20 Catena Appellation San Carlos Cabernet Franc 2016—VINTAGES#: 450106 was a disappointment. The lengthy tasting note from Luis Gutierrez says little. The wine is okay, I tired of it quickly, and I see little reason to buy it.

The $15 The White Ribbon Semillon 2018—VINTAGES#: 474031 is a pleasant, simple and boring wine. The Vintage Tasting pannel completely overstates the description of this wine. I am using the leftover contents of the bottle for cooking and it’s fine for that purpose.

Another quest, this one the search for good-value-white-Bordeaux wine, will continue. The $17 Château Lamothe de Haux 2017 Bordeaux—VINTAGES#: 635698 even disappointed the Sauvignon Blanc fans in our tasting group. This is a simple wine that we tired of immediately.  The posted tasting notes are very overstated and I cannot comprehend how Wine Enthusiast could rate this wine #55 of their top 100. Seriously? I guess they were on a budget and only tasted 100 wines when they came up with their list.

It breaks my heart to say that this year I will not be buying the $30 Coudoulet de Beaucastel Côtes du Rhône 2016 Grenache Blend—VINTAGES#: 48884. This wine is a perpetual favorite of mine but the value of the blind tasting format saved me money this year. Our tasting group speculated that their glass contained a “dumbed down Côtes du Rhône” and not the second wine of one of Châteauneuf-du-Pape’s best producers.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


the start of i am fat and broke season (5 january 2019 vintages release)

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.