Food & Drink

The New Guard: the best of the bunch from the LCBO’s fall release

The New Guard: the best of the bunch from the LCBO’s fall release
(Illustration: Jack Dylan)

Fashion is fickle, even in wine. There are occasional stampedes toward trendy brands: Argentina’s Fuzion and Australia’s Yellow Tail went the oenological equivalent of viral. And then there are deeper changes in taste over time. Two such seismic shifts have occurred over the last few years. The first is an acceptance of blends. The word is freighted with negati­vity because the cheapest wines are often thrown-together blends. However, some of Europe’s best wines have always been blends, and vintners elsewhere are starting to craft new fusions. The second change is a taste for lesser-known appellations. Languedoc in France and Sicily in Italy are challenging the market supremacy of overpriced wines from Bordeaux and Tuscany. In the New World, regions like Paso Robles in California and Leyda in Chile are taking on icons like Napa Valley and Maipo—and the newcomers are often more affordable. I’ve sifted through the LCBO’s massive fall infusion for the best of both trends.

Angels Gate 2010 Gamay Noir
14 Hands 2010 Hot to Trot Red $15.35 | Columbia Valley, Washington | 87 points Washington, the second-largest wine region in the U.S., is still deep in California’s shadow. This merlot is blended with cabernet, syrah and mourvèdre. It’s medium weight with rich cassis, herbs and cocoa. It’s a bit soft but finishes with a dry, green tension typical of the cooler climate. LCBO 226522
Amalaya 2011 Torrontés Riesling
Amalaya 2011 Torrontés Riesling $11 | Salta, Argentina | 87 points Argentina’s aromatic torrontés, which thrives in the high-altitude Cafayate region, is gaining traction. This leading producer anchors torronté’s exuberance with riesling’s firm acidity and minerality. Expect complex citrus, lavender, green herbs and pear flavours in a solid, off-dry and refreshing style. Chill well. LCBO 270470
Argento 2011 Bonarda
Argento 2011 Bonarda $10 | Mendoza, Argentina | 86 points Bonarda is a high-volume Italian grape that, when produced at lower yields in Mendoza, makes quality, deeply coloured, blueberry pie–scented reds. This is the first bonarda at the LCBO. It’s a bit coarse and tart (it’s under $10), but it has youthful energy. Chill lightly. LCBO 292458
Brumont 2011 Gros Manseng Sauvignon
Brumont 2011 Gros Manseng Sauvignon $13 | Côtes de Gascogne, France | 87 points Gros manseng, from the Pyrenees, makes intense, perfumed and citric whites. It finds a natural partner with herbaceous sauvignon blanc in this blend, which is light yet full of lime, nettle, pine, fennel and guava flavours, with an almost salty tang on the finish. LCBO 297234
Castaño 2009 Monastrell
Castaño 2009 Monastrell $11.80 | Yecla, Spain | 89 points The monastrell grape (known as mourvèdre in French) can create fragrant but sinewy and tannic reds. However, hot Yecla, near Spain’s Mediterranean coast, produces softer, richer wines. This award-winning example has a terrific nose of blackberry pie, black tea, lavender, fine oak and vanilla. Best 2014 to 2017. LCBO 300673
Clayhouse 2010 Adobe White
Clayhouse 2010 Adobe White $16 | Paso Robles, California | 87 points This is a creative five-grape blend, with spicy, floral viognier being the largest component (46 per cent) and nine per cent coming from a muscat-like table grape called princess. It’s clean and fresh, yet it shows California richness, with vibrant green plum and citrus flavours. Chill well. LCBO 297382
Domaine du Petit Clocher 2011 Anjou
Domaine du Petit Clocher 2011 Anjou $15 | Loire Valley, France | 88 points This well-made red is the first estate-bottled Anjou on the LCBO general list. It sports a deep ruby colour, with classic sweet raspberry and tobacco flavours. It’s supple initially with tannin and cab franc greenness on the finish. Best 2013 to 2016. LCBO 293514
Mayor de Castilla 2011 Verdejo
Mayor de Castilla 2011 Verdejo $11 | Rueda, Spain | 87 points The arid plateau around Rueda, northeast of Madrid, is an increasingly exciting source for whites from the verdejo grape, which combines herbs and citrus similar to sauvignon blanc and exotic tropicality like viognier. This new listing is a good example, with pepper and pineapple flavours and a fleshy, warm texture. TBA.
The Wolftrap 2011 Red
The Wolftrap 2011 Red $14 | South Africa | 88 points South Africa produces good blends inspired by those of France’s Rhône Valley. This dark, rich syrah-mourvèdre-viognier combination is juicy and fleshy, with fragrant aromas of blueberry, black pepper, chocolate and a touch of rosemary. It’s loaded with fruit and finishes on a spicy, dusty note. Best 2013 to 2016. LCBO 292557

Scores: David Lawrason assigns scores on a 100-point scale. They reflect a wine’s overall quality. A rating of 95 to 100 is outstanding; 90 to 94 excellent; 85 to 89 very good; 80 to 84 good.


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