July 3, 2009




All recommendations are linked to the LCBO database enabling you to do an instant store search for current inventory.

Michael Vaughan’s July 3rd Update

Upcoming Vintages July 6th Sale
Vintages July 4th Release

Monday’s Vintages Sale sees discounts on 41 items all from the February 28, 2009 release. There are a couple of good buys and FBTI Supporters can download the list as of today in the FBTI Supporter section (click here). If you want to become a FBTI Supporter click here and we will send you the fully detailed list with my tasting notes immediately. If you can wait, the details will be posted next Friday, July 10th.

Vintages July 4th Releases
Recommendations all Under $20

As for the tomorrow’s Vintages release, here are some of my top buys. My best value Chardonnay at only $15.95 is the bright, well balanced ** (out of ***) Australian Hope 2007 Chardonnay (651331). My notes read, “light yellow colour with a very spicy, zesty, cedar-tinged, ripe lemon nose which exhibits some Anjou pear notes. On the palate it is solid, dry, medium bodied and well structured with some lemony, slightly cedary, ripe
pear puree flavours."
Best with white meats and poultry. Some 596 cases are available

It is closely followed by Niagara College 2006 Barrel Fermented Chardonnay (40634) at $18.95 also with a ** rating. This VQA St. David's Bench has a rather deep medium yellow colour and an attractive, fairly intense, very spicy, tangy, ripe, melon-baked apple-pear nose with just a hint of initial sulphur. On the palate, fairly dry, spicy and fleshy with ripe pear purée flavours and a gently cedary, lingering, tangy, caramel-tinged finish. Better than the 2005 (*+) which was released on April 28, 2007 at $18.95.

If you want a tasty, ready to enjoy red, don’t miss Chateau de la Tuilerie 2007 Syrah/ Grenache (126128) at $15.95 which scored a very respectable *+/**. It originates from Costières de Nîmes section of the Rhoneand has a very deep intense purple colour. The nose shows excellent complexity with slightly smoky, spicy, warm, baked, plummy-cherry fruit. It is dry, harmonious and medium bodied with ripe, plum-cherry flavours along with a lingering finish. Well structured and ready-to-drink.

Some great values from Spain include Torres 2005 Celeste Crianza (672691) at $19.95. This well-structured effort **/**+ from Ribera del Duero is made from Tempranillo and has a very deep intense purple colour. The nose shows good complexity with slightly cedary, warm baked plums and ripe black cherries. On the palate it is dry, quite well structured and medium to medium-full bodied with harmonious, ripe plum and baked black cherry flavours plus a lingering, cedary finish. Very similar to the recommended 2004 (**) was released on April 26, 2008 at $19.95. In terms of drinkability, you can have it today, but perhaps in
12-18 would be ideal.


Michael Vaughan’s June 26 Update

A Tumultuous Week
Vintages ISD Obscurity
The New Vintages Sale
Culinary Classes at Inn at Manitou

It’s almost as if the employees union negotiators and LCBO management had conspired to bring about a settlement at the very last minute.
Customers frantically lined to buy and sales skyrocketed – the highest single day sales ever over $60 million.

Of course, not every wine was in the buyer’s cross-sites. Take the tasty Riesling from New York’s Finger Lakes – Hermann J. Wiemer 2006 Dry Riesling(V90332) at $29.95. Only 56 cases were released as an ISD (in store discovery) on Saturday June 20th. According to the mandate laid down by Tom Wilson, the LCBO vice president in charge of Vintages, wine writers are not allowed to taste or even photograph these ISD products. The reason given is that this might create excess demand, thereby resulting in some customer requests that they be able to buy the wines via their local Vintages outlet. While the possibility of such an inconvenience occurring for the LCBO is almost unfathomable, Wilson decided not to continue giving wine writers access to these wines.

One wonders, how is the customer able to get the scoop on these wines? In some instances, LCBO consultants are allowed to taste these ISD items, presumably enabling them to make recommendations. Secondly, there is a list of ISDs on the Vintages website. Unfortunately, it isn’t used by many customers. And guess what wine was forgotten in the current listing? The $30 Hermann J. Wiemer 2006 Dry Riesling. It seems that of the 56 cases safely tucked away in 14 Vintages outlets, the first week’s total sales amounted to a miniscule 15 bottles.

One would think that the folks at Vintages should be encouraging the wine media to taste, photograph and write about all the products they sell. Many customers have been repeatedly disappointed by LCBO sales hype featured with these wines and it just doesn’t make sense to relegate hard-to-sell wines to ISD obscurity. It is a loss for the producers, agents, LCBO (in terms of revenue) and, of course, customers.

Vintages July 22nd Sale

Meanwhile, a quick look at the most current June 22nd Vintages sale of February 14 remnants reveals a number of significant buys. Our fully-linked, user-friendly list of Vintages sale items reveals that South Africa can deliver great value (to see our list click here).

Excellent Pinotage is hard to come buy, so when Vintages released Meerendal 2004 Pinotage (96347) at $19.95, I gave it a Recommended Best Buy with a **/**+ (out of ***+). My note reads: Extremely deep intense purple colour. Spicy, vanilla-tinged, stewed plum, prune and cranberry nose. Dry, medium bodied, fairly extracty, plummy, baked cherry flavours with a long, lingering, very slightly herbal, sandalwood finish. Drinkability: { N S SM M ml }. The good news is that now it’s even a better buy at only $16.90.

Once again, it’s disappointing that the folks at Vintages don’t want you to know that it’s on sale. Take a look at the current LCBO website listing for this wine and there isn’t a word about the $3.30 reduction in price (click here to see). Those who have tasted this wine will be rushing to LCBO stores to buy another bottle.

Culinary Classes at Inn at Manitou

Why not explore the cooking classes at the Inn at Manitou on the upcoming July 3rd weekend? There is a special rate of only $299 per nite - the second person stays/dines/plays for free.

Chef, Bernard Ibanez, entertains and educates the amateur cook or would-be chef. Each weekend includes two Cooking sessions where you will explore and create some of his most secret recipes. Call for 1-800-571-8818. Availability is limited.

All Package Rates include:
* Room Accommodation based on Double Occupancy.
* Welcome Fresh Fruit in Room
* Morning Wake-Up Coffee or Tea and Sliced Oranges brought to your room
* Three meals daily (breakfast, lunch and dinner)
* Afternoon Tea served daily in the Tea Room.
Free use of Tennis Courts, Mountain Bikes, Sail Boats, Canoes, Kayaks,
Pontoon Boat Cruise, Daily Yoga or Exercise Classes and Gym Equipment,
Daily Heath Walk, and Out Door Heated Pool.

Visit: www.manitou-online.com