Lawrason’s Best New Releases

Lawrason’s Best New Releases

Wine of the WeekDomaine des Aubuisières 2006 Vouvray Cuvée de Silex, Loire Valley, France ($16.95, 89 points, 57042)A real steal for fans of Loire chenin blanc or anyone wanting something a little different to open a classy wine-focused dinner. This is tender, delicate and a touch sweet, so it won’t impress as a bracing acid-driven thirst quencher. It does, however, have subtlety and a satiny elegance, with poached pear (quince), honey and a touch of damp hay. Very good length. Lovely wine. Largest stock (96 bottles) at Bayview and Sheppard. Vintages.

In the weeks ahead, this blog will become my chief venue for reviewing new releases from Vintages, the LCBO and wines available direct from importers and Ontario wineries. All wines will be immediately available via the source indicated at the end of each review. The very short deadline of the Web means I can check availability one day and post the review the next. Not even the daily newspapers can be that current.

My ratings out of 100 are for quality and do not reflect price of the wine, but value is a major criteria for selection. Some selected as newsworthy new releases may not quite measure up in the value department but are still worth knowing about. The wines below are listed within four price categories, moving from least to most expensive. To look for Vintages and LCBO availability at your local store, go to Product Search at

Under $15J&F Lurton 2006 Malbec, Mendoza, Argentina ($11.15, 84 points, 28829)A new general listing from the globe-trotting Lurton brothers. It’s very youthful and shows a whiff of sulphur that comes across as corned beef or pastrami, but there is also good blackberry, plummy fruit with licorice and peppery notes. Mid-weight, fleshy; decent weight and concentration for the price. Some dry tannin. Very good length. Widely available in LCBOs across the GTA.

$15 to $25Arboleda 2005 Merlot, Aconcagua Valley, Chile ($15.95, 88 points, 45864)Great value. It’s quite a vibrant, tense red. Deep colour and a piquant, penetrating nose of blackcurrant and eucalyptus with meaty notes. Medium-full bodied, dense and a touch sour. Flavours don’t waver and run towards excellent length. Best 2008 to 2011. Vintages. Largest stock (322 bottles) at Queens Quay.

Mike Weir 2006 Chardonnay, Niagara Peninsula ($15.95, 85 points, 000026)A youthful, tight, crisp Chablis-like style of chardonnay with flinty matchstick sulphur, yellow apple, grapefruit and vague spice. Lively, tingling, taut grapefruity palate. A bit more like sauvignon than chardonnay but has some mouthwatering presence and a peppery finish. Very good length. A bit austere. Not much oak here. Widely available in GTA. New Vintages Essential.

Trumpour’s Mill 2006 Pinot Gris, Prince Edward County, Ontario ($16.95, 87 points)The surprisingly deep, bright, yellow-gold colour suggests oxidation but the reason is botrytis (a beneficial type of grape fungus common in the damp 2006 vintage in Ontario), which has also left its fingerprint on the apricot aroma with touches of hay and honey. Looks, smells and feels like an Alsatian pinot gris with good weight and viscosity. The finish is crisp and lean with firm county acidity. Very good length. Available only at the winery for now, but it’s destined for some LCBO stores in the weeks ahead. Available at

Cave Spring 2006 Pinot Noir, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario ($17.15, 87 points, 417642)One of the best value 2006 pinot noirs yet tasted from Ontario. Shows pale, garnet-ruby colour. Nicely high-toned nose with all kinds of spicy, smoky character from new wood plus cherry jam. Mid-weight, firm, light and slightly brittle but well proportioned. Sour red currant-cherry and cinnamon finish. Very good focus and length. Largest stock (66 bottles) at Weston and Hwy. 7. Available at the LCBO, the winery or at

Mike Weir 2006 Cabernet Merlot, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario ($18.95, 88 points) This new vintage joins the Vintages Essentials program and finally scores par for the Mike Weir brand, whose profits go to a foundation for children. Nose lifts off with a generous, slightly burnt, coffee bean; chocolate; herbs; leathery, meaty notes and currant fruit mindful of classy Bordeaux. Mid-weight, slightly lean and sour, but has some mid-palate sweetness and finesse. Well focused with equally penetrating length. Best 2009 to 2012. Widely available in GTA. New Vintages Essentials.

Trumpour’s Mill 2006 Gamay, Prince Edward County, Ontario ($18.95, 87 points)This is entirely from Prince Edward County fruit at Grange of Prince Edward. Think of it is a pint-sized pinot, with four months barrel ageing adding appealing spiciness to the sour-cherry, cranberry, strawberry fruit. Very pale in colour, but 13 per cent alcohol, good acidity and decent fruit depth combine to create a fine, elegant texture. Length is very good. Drink now to 2010. Available at

Viljoensdrift 2004 Serenity, Robertson, South Africa ($24.95, 91 points, 37523)Like so many Cape wines, it shows complexity and concentration way beyond its price. A traditional style, featuring the Bordeaux varieties including petit verdot. Deep black ruby-garnet colour, with a generous nose of ripe, almost dried blackcurrant fruit, dried herbs, licorice and some wet earth minerality. Full bodied, dense yet streamlined, with excellent to outstanding length. Drinks well now, should age through 2015, maybe longer. Largest stock (32 bottles) at Yonge and Summerhill. Vintages.

Trumpour’s Mill 2006 Victoria Block Chardonnay, Prince Edward County, Ontario ($24.95, 88 points)The Grange of Prince Edward’s 100 per cent estate-bottled, single-vineyard chardonnay is the most stylish wine yet made by Jeff Innes, catching fragrant, spicy new French wood, vanilla, peat smoke, apple and a touch of flinty, limestone-driven county minerality on the finish. Mid-weight, slightly lean with very good acidity and length. Best 2008 to 2011. Very good length. Available at

$25 to $50Château Lalande 2003 Saint-Julien, Bordeaux, France ($38.95, 91 points, 43893)One of the best values from Vintages’ recent Bordeaux release. This very fragrant Cru Bourgeois level red is just heading into its prime time with some leathery nuances amid very generous fresh pine, creamy mocha and raspberry jam typical of 2003. It’s mid-weight, supple, smooth and fairly dense. Not quite the length of some others in the release, but very good. Best now to 2012. Largest stock (68 bottles) at Bayview and Sheppard. Vintages.

Château Mont-Redon 2005 Châteauneuf-du-Pape Blanc, Rhone Valley, France ($33.95, 90 points, 43133)This is a quietly elegant white, with a touch of oak spice and vanilla nicely marrying with the subtle melon, yellow plum and fresh fig fruit. Something a bit different the next time you are looking for a rich white at dinner. It’s medium-full, rich and poised with a drier finish than expected. Excellent length and focus. Could use a year for the oak to settle back at bit. Best 2009 to 2011. Largest stock (81 bottles) at Bayview and Sheppard. Vintages.

Over $50Thunevin 2003 3 de Valandraud, Saint-Emilion Grand Cru, Bordeaux, France ($56.95, 91 points, 45997)The classy “second” label of one of the famous “garagiste” wineries of St. Emilion. It’s plush, very ripe and a rich merlot-based red, almost California-like in this hot vintage, with a ripe cherry, mocha and cedar nose. Medium weight, elegant and supple on the palate, perhaps a bit low in
acid for long-term keeping, but why do that? There is some tannin that could use another year or three; but overall this is drinking well right now. Very good to excellent length. Best 2008 to 2012. Largest stock (160 bottles) at Woodchester Mall in Mississauga. Vintages.