15 Top Releases

15 Top Releases

Wine of the WeekObikwa 2007 Shiraz, Western Cape, South Africa ($9.65, 87 points, 527499)Huge value for less than 10 bucks. This brand new vintage shows an exuberant nose of blackberry, lilac, campfire smoke and clove. Mid-weight, slim and a touch sweet with soft tannin; it’s ready to drink. Very good density, acidity and length for the money, with lingering bacon and vanilla flavours. Watch for the 2007 vintage when shopping; the 2006 bottles, which are not as good, may be on shelf.

Here are some of the more interesting new LCBO and Vintages releases to cross my palate in recent days. Selected for diversity of price and style, all are good value in their respective price ranges. Availability figures are as of October 29. Use the LCBO number provided to check at www.lcbo.com for availability.

Under $15KWV Cathedral Cellar 2005 Chardonnay, Coastal Region, South Africa ($14.95, 89 points, 328559)Took gold in the Canada-based International Value Wine Awards this year, as it did in other international competitions. Full-blown, oaky chardonnay style is actually going out of vogue, but this is an excellent example. Big nose of wood smoke, pineapple-mango, lemon, roasted nuts and resin. Full bodied, smooth, creamy and a touch sweet. Excellent length. Vintages. Largest stock (162 bottles) at Bayview and Sheppard.

Santa Rita 2007 Sauvignon Blanc Reserva, Casablanca Valley, Chile ($13.55, 88 points, 275677)This new vintage has a well-defined, fairly intense Casablanca nose, with considerable cool-climate dill, green pepper, gooseberry jam and grapefruit character. Medium-full bodied with a smooth, generous, ripe pineapple palate that dries to grapefruit bitterness on the finish. Quite peppery as well. Very good to excellent length and focus. Wide availability at the LCBO.

Santa Rita 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon 120, Rapel Valley, Chile ($10.55, 86 points, 218644)Lots here for $10, and it’s better than the more expensive, oddly flavoured Santa Rita Cabernet Reserva. Deep colour. Generous, if diffuse, nose of ripe blackcurrant, clove and nutmeg spice and a touch of salami. Medium-full, quite warm and soft with some bitter green tannin. Good length dominated by pepper and evergreen. A great red for Friday night with ordered-in pizza and wings. Wide availability at the LCBO.

Penascal 2005 Tempranillo, Castilla y Leon, Spain ($9.95, 85 points, 343434)Spain’s native tempranillo is more reminiscent of young shiraz in this new, screw-capped vintage, with smoky, meaty and peppery notes and ripe black-cherry fruit. Mid-weight with typical Spanish softness and a dry, chalky finish. Good length, mostly bitter charred flavor that lingers. Late season BBQ red. Wide availability at the LCBO.

Oracle 2006 Sauvignon Blanc, Western Cape, South Africa ($10.95, 84 points, 36764)A new listing that shows quite intense, slightly sweet, tropical styling with pineapple, persimmon and fresh dill aromas. Medium-full bodied, fairly soft with lively C02 spritz and a bitter orange-grapefruit finish. Very good length. Flavourful, if a bit coarse. Wide availability at the LCBO.

$15 to $25Goats Do Roam 2005 Goat-Roti, Coastal Ranges, South Africa ($19.95, 91 points, 943175)The new vintage continues to impress. This is a clear example of a northern Rhone dressed in New World. Bright, deep, garnet-black colour. Reserved nose of iodine, black olive, cherry-currant and milk chocolate. Medium-full bodied, very smooth, supple and elegant, but avoids being too soft or soupy. Very fine tannin. Excellent length. Best now to 2013. Vintages. Largest stock (505 bottles) at Woodchester Mall in Mississauga.

Louis Bouillot Perle d’Aubore Brut Rosé, Crémant de Bourgogne, France (18.95, 89 points, 48793)A good buy in festive bubbly, so stick a couple away for the holidays. Fairly deep, bright salmon colour. Quite lifted toasty, nutty nose with generous sour-cherry fruit that’s distinctly pinot noir. Full bodied for bubbly, quite powerful, with very good acid lift. Not the finesse of Champagne but flavours are quite similar. Very good to excellent length. Vintages. Largest stocks (over 70 bottles) at Bayview and Sheppard and Queens Quay.

Van Ruiten 2004 Old Vine Zinfandel, Lodi, California ($18.95, 89 points 58685)Not profound but exactly what I want from a mid-priced zin. Sweet, plummy, bramble-berry fruit, decked out with generous barrel-driven smoky oak, bacon and mocha. Medium-full bodied, open knit, well proportioned with a peppery, slightly hot finish. Very good to excellent length. Now to 2011. Vintages. Huge stocks—largest (over 600 bottles) at Bayview and Sheppard.

Yalumba 2005 Wild Ferment Chardonnay, Eden Valley, South Australia ($17.95, 90 points, 39271)Good Burgundian complexity for the price. Lifted aromas of cooked pear with an almost burnt smokiness, yeast, spice and mossy greenness. Some minerality. Medium-full bodied, initially sweet with ripe fruit up front then a smoky nutmeg finish. Solid and a bit hot. Excellent length. Vintages. Widely available—largest stocks (170 bottles) at Bayview and Sheppard and at Laird and Eglinton.

Batasiolo 2004 Barbaresco, Piedmont, Italy ($23.95, 88 points, 37051)Not one of the great vintages amid a string of very good years, but there is some charm; it is correct and it’s well priced. Not a bad intro to Piedmont’s difficult nebbiolo world. Light garnet colour. Classic nose with earthy, sour-cherry, cereal, leather and spicy notes. Light to medium bodied, lean and a touch sour, but there is enough fruit to balance it reasonably well. Nebbiolo’s infamous tannins are in check. Very good length. Drink now to 2012. Vintages. Large stocks—over 300 bottles at Bayview and Sheppard.

$25 to $50Zind-Humbrecht 2005 Riesling Gueberschwihr, Alsace, France ($39.95, 93 points, 686246)What a great riesling. Absolutely bang on from the nose to finish. Huge and exotic yet classic nose of apricot, petrol, ginger and honey. Medium weight, barely off dry, with a creamy, silky texture and very fine acidity. Some alcohol burn on the finish, but not enough to derail all this fruit. Excellent length and focus. Now to 2012. Vintages. Largest stock (60 bottles) at Bayview and Sheppard.

Ruffino 2003 Ducale Oro Chianti Classico Riserva, Tuscany, Italy (44.95, 92 points, 353201)Only made in the best years, this Ducale Oro is a very fine example of a classic Chianti, with much more depth and finesse than most achieve—frankly, worth the money if you might consider paying this much for a Brunello. Garnet-brick evolving colour. Great maturing sangiovese nose of autumn leaves, underbrush, leather, chocolate and rich cherry-redcurrant jam and fig fruit. Smooth bright acid, fine tannin; complete. Focused with excellent length. Best 2008 to 2012. Vitnages. Largest stock (577) bottles at Weston and Hwy. 401.

Finagara 2004 Esparão Reserve, Alentejo, Reguengos, Portugal ($25.95, 90 points, 606590)This is a big, sweet California-style red from several grape varieties grown in the hot southern interior. Big, sweet and ripe with a port-like nose of vanilla and black cherry. Some earthiness and American oak sweetness.Very generous, full, sweet and warm but also has some tension. Excellent length. Now to 2012. Vintages. Largest stock (945 bottles) at Queens Quay.

Over $50Château Rouget 2004 Pomerol, Bordeaux, France ($55.95, 91 points, 51433)