The sweet spot

Getting the best wine, cheap
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Getting the best wine, cheap
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vintagesVintages releases a new flight of about 100 wines every second Saturday. This coincides with my salary, a direct deposit which almost imperceptibly enlivens my bank account before it is overcome by grape-related purchases.

Unfortunately for me, the April 30 release is one of the best I’ve seen in many months.

It doesn’t have the expensive trophy wines that appear before Christmas, or the cheap palliatives that appear in January. It does, however, offer a wide variety of gems in the $20-30 range, which is the wine industry’s sweet spot, the price point where good value most often attains high quality. Here are some highlights:

Selbach-Oster 2008 Riesling Kabinett
($19.95 [Ed. Note: No longer available], Vintages #728543)
German Rieslings are some of the best bargains at the LCBO and this wine is especially underpriced. The bouquet is grippy and complex, offering minerality, MacIntosh apple, a hint of toffee and lots of spice. The palate is open and congenial, yet surprisingly complex and textured. As a whole, it languidly rests between overripe fruit and bright acidity. The stunning minerality and bright acids suggest that it will improve in the cellar for at least a decade. 91/100

Le Gravillas 2007 Gigondas
($23.95 [Ed. Note: No longer available], Vintages #078808)
Gigondas is an up-and-coming region in the Southern Rhone of France, and this superb red is a great wine from a great year. Espresso, graphite and black pepper crackle in the glass, giving it a backward and slightly bitter profile that it’s saved from being too severe by a wellspring of blackberry fruit. The solid, muscular tannins carry lots of flavour and complexity. Le Gravillas captures all the intensity that has made Gigondas famous, yet still manages to keep itself fresh and medium-bodied. Beware: the bitter tannin means it’s not for everybody, at least until it’s had four to seven more years in the cellar. 93/100

Don Jacobo 1995 Gran Reserva
($27.95 [Ed. Note: No longer available], Vintages #923748)
Finding a truly mature wine that’s prêt-à-porter is a rare treat. Even better, this mature bottle offers all the character of properly aged Rioja minus the rustic funk that so often accompanies these wines. It greets you with a gorgeous bouquet: generous and clean notes of lanolin, wax and milk chocolate. The palate is lovely and surprisingly clean, with a persistent and agile cherry flavour supported by a creamy texture of spice and cigar box. As a whole, it is juicy, figgy and lively. 90/100

Valle Reale 2007 Montepulciano D’Abruzzo
($17.95 [Ed. Note: No longer available], Vintages #216408)
The nose on this Italian red is a true curiosity: a bouquet of pastrami with additional hints of dark chocolate and ripe black cherry. It’s unusual but impressive and full of character. The structure shows fine tannin and balanced acidity, with congenial notes of plum, kirsch and sour cherry. With its complexity and well-delineated flavours, there is a lot to enjoy. It also has the potential to evolve and soften with some short term aging (two to five years). An excellent value and a fine food wine. 89/100


Matthew Sullivan is a civil litigator in Toronto. He blogs once a month here on lawandstyle.ca. The Short Cellar column also appears in the print edition of Precedent. Matthew can be reached at matthew@lawandstyle.beta-site.ca. Follow along on Twitter: @shortcellar.