Spain gets a special spotlight in current Vintages release, and there are some winners for barbecue season.
I will admit it, I have a love affair with Spanish red Riojas. Sure there are lovely reds from other Spanish regions, Ribera del Duero, Tierra de Castilla, Toro, Bierzo and others, but when I go to grill a rack or crown of lamb, it is the scents of sandalwood incense, coconut, violets and even mocha which drive me to salivate. Plus a bare hint of mint shows up too, and out come the mint sauce and jelly.
Spain is a special spotlight in the current Vintages release, and last week I hailed Murove Roble from Toro as a killer best buy. This week, shown with full review with bottle images, is Finca Constancia, which is rich and very elegant.
Gonzales Byass 2011 Finca Constancia $18.95 (Spain) From Tierra de Castilla, this is a rich red, with lavish fruit. A bouquet of plum, vanilla and black cherry leads into red currants, black plum and kirsch dominated flavours. A perfect harmony of fruit and oak. LCBO #376384 Food suggestion: Lamb lasagna. Rating: 90
But wait, if you buy now, my top rated Rioja this time is Baigorri Crianza 2009 (#376376, $23.95, rating 92) with refined sandalwood, vanilla, coconut, mocha, violets and black cherry. Very stylish and delicious. Oh, don’t spit this wine — instead thread your lamb roast through that barbecue spit.
I also promised some big luxury reds that are actually (gasp!) worth the pricetags on the bottle.
From Niagara, Hidden Bench Terroir Caché 2010 Meritage (#505610, $38.20, 92+) is a lush gush of mocha, chocolate, blackberry, vanilla, black cherry and coconut. This is a worthy alternative to the much more pricey La Brunate from this Beamsville Bench winery.
California’s best effort this release is Beringer Cabernet Sauvignon 2011 (#91058, $49.95, 92+) with its violets, raspberry, blackberry and chocolate in elegant endlessly transforming layers.
Australia shines with Barossa Valley Estate 2007 Ebenezer Shiraz (#971705, $39.95, 92+) with its big blowsy smoked meat, blackberry, blueberry and cassis complexity, with an amazingly velvet ultra smooth texture.
Also from Down Under, a red made in the dried grapes amarone style, Nugan Alfredo Dried Grape 2012 Shiraz (#376707, $26.95, 91+) shows lovely upfront vanilla, blackberry, iodine, black olives, blueberry pie and black cherries in a very round, mouth-filling style.
South Africa came though with a rich The Chocolate Block 2012 (#129353, $39.95, 91), a mainly shiraz blend that show big blackberry, cedar, black plum, and licks of chocolate in the rich finish.
Bordeaux has one knockout, Château Phélan Ségur 2010 (#260505, $78.85, 93) showing lovely coconut, vanilla, cigar box, exotic spices, plum and black cherry density. It is an “In-store Discovery,” which means it’s only in a few stores and good luck tracking it down.
I could mention a few more, but my words would not be kind. So for the other 100 plus wines, you are on your own!
Article by Gordon Stimmell, published in The Star on Thursday, July 10th 2014.
Picture from Bodega Finca Constancia-González Byass