These are wines that I have bought for the latest Vintages release, September 1, 2012. A combination of scouring the Vintages magazine, past experiences, and some LCBO insider information have lead me to dip into my relatively small wine budget to try my luck at finding some gems. Typically, I will attempt to taste wines that I think I might want to buy more of, before they are all gone! The wines I pick are typically in the $15 - $20 range. This post may be rather long, but I like to explain the reasons why I think the wines are a good value, and hopefully you can use these tips to pick other great wines!
First of all, I decided on a little bubbly, the Reyes D'Aragon Brut Reserva Cava. This is should be a great value at $13.95 with a medium-full body and added depth of raisin and toast with the typical notes of yeastly, apple, and other bright fruit. Most think of Champagne when they think of sparkling wine, but the Champagne region sets prices collectively, maintaining a high price point across the board so you aren't getting anything for under $50. Great sparkling can come from some lesser-known sparkling wine regions such as Cremant d'Alsace and Cremant de Bourgogne (Burgundy) in France, and Cavas from Spain. Of course, I have also had some great sparkling wines from Ontario! And sparkling wines aren't just for celebrating - they are very versatile for food pairing, and great for palate-cleansing.
For a white, I picked Joseph Cattin Gewurtztraminer. The off-dry wines are not for everyone, but at 18g/L this wine is actually on the border between dry and off-dry and should be a little more balanced with it's acidity. Gewurtztraminers always seduce me with their rich aromatics of lychee, rosewater and sweet spice. Joseph Cattin is consistently good, but this 2010 vintage also won a Gold Medal with the Decanter World Wine Awards 2012. Gewurtz pair well with foods that are creamy and spicy (think curries).
For red wines, first of all I chose Sampietrana Vigna Delle Monache Riserva Salice Salentino 2006. Salice Salentino is D.O.C. in the Apulia (Puglia) region of Italy. Puglia is in the South East of Italy (the heel of the boot) and has a warmer climate. They typically produce wines made with the Negroamaro grape, although they also produce Primitivo wines (Italian Zinfandel grape). I have always been the most intimidated by Italian wines which I often found to be thin, acidic, and earthy with very little fruit. I now know I enjoy Salice Salentino D.O.C. wines because I find them to be more full-bodied and earthy, with rich dark-fruit notes and dark chocolate (Negroamaro means "black and bitter" in Italian). This Sampietrana has the added benefit of scoring 5/5 with Decanter, and an International Trophy at the Decanter World Wine Awards 2010. I will be opening this one tonight, as stocks are starting to become scarce!
Finally, I'm back to Spain with the Monasterio de las Vinas Reserva, a blend of 70% Garnacha (Grenache), 20% Tempranillo, and 10% Carinena (Carignan). Spanish reds can be a really great deal, as the Reservas have high standards for aging and you can often get well-aged, complex wines for about $20, typically with the Tempranillo grape. Grenache, however, is the grape of my moment and the nice ones will have rich red fruits, sweet spice, violet, and minerality. This one is a GREAT price and scored a 90 with Jay Miller of erobertparker.com.
Reyes D'Aragon Brut Reserva Cava 2009 - Spain - $13.95 - 194803
Joseph Cattin Gewurtztraminer 2010 - France (Alsace) - $16.95 - 224626
Sampietrana Vigna Delle Monache Riserva Salice Salentino 2006 - Italy (Puglia) - $15.95 - 247908
Monasterio de las Vinas Reserva - Spain - $13.95 - 166579
I will give my own opinion of these as I drink them, and let you know if I'm going to get more! If you're a keener like me, you can use the product codes to search the LCBO website to see where these wines are still available. Here is the full Vintages release for September 1.