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Weekend Wine: Where to?

Travel around the world with a trip to the LCBO
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Vin Greco, Wine All The Time

On Thursday, October 6, the LCBO will open its latest “Products of the World” Destination Store in downtown Waterloo with the emphasis placed on German wine.

Considering that you can’t easily tell where Kitchener ends and Waterloo begins, this makes sense.  Kitchener’s original name was Berlin, but it was changed with the outbreak of World War I, and Kitchener is the site of Canada’s major Octoberfest at this time of year.

According to the press release from “Wines of Germany”, the store at 115 King Street will feature an expanded German section that will include as many as 50 German wines many of which have never been seen in our province, and many which may have only been available through consignment or in restaurants in the past.

As part of the celebration, German ‘Wine Queen’ Anna Hochdoerfer will be present. There will be an opportunity to sample some of the wines, which will be served along with delicious food pairings. 

If you think you might be able to participate, please remember that King Street is being re-structured for the new Light rail transportation system, and parking is behind the store off Caroline Street.  It would be wise to plan your route ahead of time. I imagine you should be there soon after the store opens at 10:A.M.

If Kitchener is out of your way, there are other options to assuage a craving for good German Riesling.

From the September 17 release you may still find in many of our stores a Riesling Kabinett, the Geil Bechtheimer Rosengarten 2014. $18.95. Though it carries 40 grams of sugar per liter, some still find that, with its good balancing acidity, it comes across as medium dry, offering a lush sense of peach and apricot.  Vintages suggests serving it with pork tenderloin.

On the October 1 Vintages release, Heinz Eifel Shine Riesling 2015, $13.95, from the Pfalz region will have a lighter and racier impact than the Geil Bechtheimer above. Apple, pear and peach are noted along with some spice, and some lively mineral and acid impressions on the finish bring everything to a harmonious conclusion.

The German store is the newest of about a dozen such stores to-date, with the first, the Greek store, opening on the Danforth in Toronto about 16 months ago.  Other stores include a Portuguese store in the Stockyards district near “Little Portugal”, an East Asian store in Markham, and a Spanish store well out on Bloor Street West.

Most of us won’t have easy access to the Spanish specialty store, but we can take some solace with the new Spanish arrival to the general list, the Anciano 7 Year Gran Reserva Tempranillo 2007, $2 off until October 9 at $10.95.  It is an exceptional value, beautifully mature after two years in oak and 7 years in the cellar prior to release.  It is marked by round, cherry/plum flavours and smooth tannins – an awful lot of pleasure for the money.

The location of many of the stores would seem obvious, given the demographics of the sites chosen, but for some stores, the spots selected aren’t as clear.  Apparently, the volume of sales of a particular country at a certain store has warranted its designation. 

This might explain why a Pickering store last week became the South African destination store, with over 130 wines from that country now stocked, including 70 that are exclusive to that store.  Likewise, a store in Aurora now hosts Argentina, and the store at 65 Wicksteed in north central Toronto will bear the flag for Australia.  There are even three stores in Toronto that will specialize in Kosher wines.

Speaking of Argentina, Bodegas Norton, which has been a hit in Vintages with its Reserva Malbec (a Wine Spectator top 100) now has a Sauvignon Blanc on the regular list, at just $13.10.  It has a “snowflake” Wine Polar sticker on the front, which, as the wine chills, turns blue when the optimum serving temperature has been reached – and it works!

This wine is softer on entry than many Sauvignon Blancs, probably because of the partial treatment in older oak barrels, but the grapefruit and gooseberry notes show through on the lip-smacking finish.

In the future, we can expect stores to be designated for Italy, France, and the USA. Through these stores, the LCBO is intending to make wines available to the public that previously might only have been available on consignment or in restaurants.

In response to the question, what do people do who are interested in the wines, but don’t have reasonable access to the Destination stores,  LCBO Media Consultant, Christine Bujold  explained that the LCBO is also trying to expand its on-line purchase program to include many of the wines that otherwise are going to be found just in the Destination stores.

Lest one thinks that Ontario Wines are being neglected, the LCBO has opened about 20 “Our Wine Country” Boutiques featuring Ontario VQA wines exclusively. A few are in the Niagara region, but there are others in such places as Aurora and Owen Sound. The Owen Sound store was chosen because it ranked 27th in the province out of 645 stores in sales of VQA wines.

I don’t know of any stores of this type in Northern Ontario, but hope to find out soon where the others are located.   When I do, I will pass the word along.

In any case, our options continue to expand.  I’m sure visiting any of these stores would be a treat.

October 1 Vintages Release

White Wine

Boschendal Rachelsfontein Chenin Blanc 2015, $12.95, is another steal from this value-oriented South African winery. A New Zealand writer, Michael Oliver, calls it “beautifully balanced” with a “full and broad mid-palate”. He identifies peach, lime and orange flavours.  Compare this with “The Pavillion”, Boschendal’s good $9.05 Chenin Blanc on the regular list.

Foncalieu Le Versant Sauvignon Blanc 2015, $14.95, hails from France’s Midi region. The winery refers to lime, kiwi and passionfruit on the nose, and Vintages remarks on “grass and herbs with tropical fruit.”

Novellum Chardonnay 2014, $17.95, also from the Midi, is described by beveragedynamics.com as “the best value in Chardonnay you can find, with ”complex fruit and mineral tinged flavors”. This is another white from Domaine Lafage, which also makes La Cadireta, another very tasty Chardonnay and also a wine in which Viognier plays a supporting role.  Apparently the flavour is enhanced, too, by introducing a botrytis effect in barrel for 20% of the wine.

Southbrook Triomphe Chardonnay 2014, $22.95, is a solid organic entry from Niagara.  winealign.com refers to “lemon butter and thyme flowers with a slight popping corn elevation”, and recommends laying it down for up to 18 months to allow everything to integrate harmoniously.

Red Wine

This release has a mini-Tuscan slant to it. Tenuta Sette Ponti Crognolo 2013, $29.95, is a Super-Tuscan blend of Sangiovese and Merlot. James Suckling identifies ripe currants, blueberries and vanilla, and calls it “stylish, savoury, and delicious.”  95

Ruffino Riserva Ducale Oro Riserva Gran Selezione Chianti Classico 2011, $47.95, represents the top of the line from Chianti’s Classico district. The production is pains-taking, beginning with selection of the best fruit, careful aging first in concrete, followed by further winnowing of the best lots for aging in large neutral oak barrels and finally in smaller, second-use oak barriques.  It is replete with deep dark cherry, tobacco and forest flavour, coming in like silk and leaving like velvet.  At end it is sumptuous, and it begs you to take the time to appreciate everything it has to offer.

From the September 3 release, Il Molino di Grace Chianti Classico 2012, $19.95, is still available, and with time to breathe opens up very nicely, with some strawberry fruit and licorice – and tannin aplenty right now.  Lay it down for a few years and you will love it. (Originally I thought that ”Grace” was pronounced “Grah- chey” –Italian, right? No.  It is Grace, like Ace –the name of the American family that owns the property and is making really good wine!)

Moving away from Italy, New Zealand’s Kim Crawford Hawke’s Bay Merlot 2013, $19.95, is the berries!  On the nose and the palate the impression is of ripe strawberries, along with some chocolate/coffee notes. The flavours persist, and the tannins just begin to reveal themselves late on the finish. Serve this with a leg of lamb, and the lamb would say, ”Thank-you.”

If you want to steal a march on Hallowe’en, Coffin Ridge Back From the Dead Red 2014, $19.25, is just the ticket. A mélange of hybrids Maréchal Foch and Baco Noir, along with the noble varietals Cabernet, Merlot, and Gamay, this will be a perfect red for party fare come October 31.

Gabriel Meffre Laurus Côtes du Rhône-Villages 2013, $17.95, carries a winespectator.com 89, described there-in as being ”solid with a warmed fruitcake note…followed by lightly mulled raspberry and plum fruit and a lively twinge of raspberry.”

Barahonda Barrica Monastrell/Syrah 2012, $17.95 earned a 91 from Robert Parker Jr. who called it a “ripe, medium-bodied, opulent, fleshy red” and attributed to it “copious notes of blackberries, licorice, camphor, white flowers and pepper.”

Enjoy!