John Szabo’s Vintages preview for Oct. 15
Tuscany & Argentina –
Tuscany and Argentina are featured in the October 15th VINTAGES release, familiar territory for most wine lovers. The former is a fully developed region with parallel streams of both ultra-traditional and post-modern, while the latter is a newcomer to the scene, still navigating the intricacies of selling wine internationally. Both are popular sources for wine. Of the Tuscans in this release, my most serious enjoyment was caused by the 2007 POLIZIANO VINO NOBILE DI MONTEPULCIANO DOCG $25.95, also my top smart buy. It’s a model that I’d love to see more Tuscan producers follow: pure class in a classic and recognizably Tuscan style. Like the region, the traditional and the modern co-exist in harmony at Poliziano. The winery is partly powered by clean, renewable solar energy and is equipped with all the modern winemaking aids. Yet the style remains resolutely classic: a mid-weight, sangiovese-dominated wine, with balance, integrity and complexity, relying more on finesse and refinement rather than heft, raw power or wood. The finish lingers on beautifully. Other recommended Tuscan wines include 2007 TENUTA DI NOZZOLE LA FORRA CHIANTI CLASSICO RISERVA DOCG $29.95 and 2008 VOLPAIA CHIANTI CLASSICO DOCG $21.95 . See the full list of recommended Tuscan wines here.
Bye-bye Big Bottles
Argentina delivers a couple of top wines, but first a rare deviation to the not recommended: basta with the heavy bottles, por favor. Argentina is one of the guiltiest countries when it comes to the outmoded crime of stupidly heavy bottles – it’s like 1997 calling all over again. I’d say that most switched-on wine drinkers are no longer fooled by the facile attempt to add value by adding ounces to bottle weight. The gravitas comes from within, where the money should be spent.
Needless to say, there’s also the consideration of the serious environmental impact of producing, shipping and recycling heavier bottles. In this area the LCBO is a world leader – as of January 1st Ontario will not stock any wines in bottles weighing more than 420g (the most criminal come close to 1kilo, empty). Though this restriction is officially for wines at or below $15 retail, “favourable consideration will be given to product offers that are lower in weight”, says senior LCBO VP of Sales and Marketing Bob Downey. Thus any suppliers offering lighter weight bottles at premium price points will have an advantage over competitors. We can only hope that suppliers won’t just artificially raise the price of their wines above $15 so they can keep their barbarian bottles. Should you find yourself at Vintages and you haven’t gotten in your work out for the day, do a few curls with either 2006 NAVARRO CORREAS STRUCTURA ULTRA IP Mendoza, Limited Release $34.95 or 2007 RIGLOS GRAN CORTE Mendoza $37.95, though you may be stiff in the morning.
On the brighter, lighter side, there are a couple of brilliant Argentine wines in the release, headlined by 2008 CATENA ALTA MALBEC Estate Lots, Mendoza $49.95. Catena has been a leader and a pioneer for over one hundred years in Mendoza, and the experience, and confidence, shows. This ’08 has obvious class and complexity with beguiling violet-floral notes, ripe but fresh black fruit, and well-integrate wood spice, while the palate shows uncommon freshness and liveliness and tremendous length. Also excellent and worth the premium price is the 2009 CATENA ALTA CHARDONNAY Estate Lots, Mendoza $39.95.
Closer to the affordable value end of the scale, try the 2006 DURIGUTTI RESERVE MALBEC Mendoza, Unfiltered $26.95 or the 2008 LUIGI BOSCA RESERVA CABERNET SAUVIGNON Maipü, Mendoza $17.95, both well-balanced, representative examples. See all recommended Argentine wines here with reviews.
As for the top ten smart buys, well worth pointing out is the superb 2009 LE CLOS JORDANNE LE CLOS JORDANNE VINEYARD PINOT NOIR VQA Niagara Peninsula, Twenty Mile Bench $45.00. By general consensus, 2009 is the best vintage yet for LCJ, and for Ontario pinot noir in general (see my article). I predict that this will be a turning point for the Ontario industry. The full range from Le Clos is impressive so watch for this and other upcoming releases. You’ll also find an impressive bubbly from New Zealand for $21.95, a textbook Alsatian gewürztraminer, and a sturdy French country red for $16.95 that will be perfect with your autumnal game dishes, roasts and braises. See them all here. Fom the October 15th Vintages release:
Top Ten Smart Buys
Recommended Tuscany at A Glance
Recommended Argentina at A Glance