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Yeah, another LCBO rant, plus our (late) Niagara wine picks from the release today

By Rick VanSickle

We’re a little late with this, but here are Wines in Niagara’s picks from the Vintages release at LCBO stores today.

We like to get these recommendations out to readers well in advance of the release because many stores begin stocking shelves from the new wines as early as the Thursday before the official release.

But in its infinite wisdom, the LCBO recently changed how it delivers information to the media about these releases. Wine media used to receive PDFs with the full details a couple of weeks before the release, but recently changed the system to some archaic, complicated ordeal of clicking a website (when you think of it) where the info is stored, getting a secret code sent to your phone and then fishing out the release details. Sometimes it works, sometimes is doesn’t. It also means continuously checking for the release details and going through the whole process over and over.

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Fine, we’re only trying to help you sell wine, so understandably, why not make it as difficult as you can, LCBO?

I know, first world problems, right? The way I look at it, the LCBO should be more vigilant in supporting the wines they sell, so if there are people out there (hello!) attempting to help with that, and allows the LCBO to use reviews they publish at no cost to them, then they should at least get the info to media in a timely and easy to access way.

I certainly know that trying to communicate that the nameless people at the LCBO media centre is pointless. They don’t take suggestions and rarely respond to concerns. So here we are. Rant over.

Here are our (late) Niagara wine picks from the release on store shelves now, featuring Le Clos Jordanne, Bachelder and two wines from Foreign Affair:

Le Clos Jordanne Jordan Village Pinot Noir 2020 ($30, 91 points) — The Village Pinot has a perfumed nose with earthy/savoury notes, red currants, delicate spice notes, wild red berries, and a touch of cassis. It’s rich, savoury, and generous on the palate with dark cherries, currants, wild blackberries and silky tannins and elegant spice notes. The finish is long and lifted. Can cellar 4+ years.

Bachelder Les Villages Gamay Noir 2020 ($26, 90 points) — Even at this level, Thomas Bachelder, shown with Craig Wismer at the Gamay vineyard in the very top photo) wants consumers to get a taste of what he commonly refers to as “cru” level Gamay that is carefully curated from his key single vineyards in Niagara-on-the-Lake and the Bench. The goal is to create an expression of the terroir from all of Niagara that combines “the deep ripe fruit and silky tannins of Niagara-on-the-Lake with the delicate perfume and limestone angularity of the best Bench vineyard fruit,” he says. The 2020 vintage brings a richness and plumpness to the fruit, and it shows on the nose here with a ripe and succulent array of cherry-raspberry berries, plums, subtle spice notes, earth, and bramble. Those ripe red fruits are tempered somewhat by vibrant acidity giving lift to red berries and plums with added earthiness and savoury notes. Can cellar 3+ years. It’s sourced from Wismer-Foxcroft. Bai Xu, Bator, and Willms vineyards. The label on all the Villages wines in 2020 have an illustration by Shelley Szczucki that shows the appellations where the grapes are sourced.

NOTE: Watch for a full report on Thomas Bachelder’s 2021 Gamays and village Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays that will be posted here on Monday.

The Foreign Affair Amarosé 2022 ($20, 88 points) — A consistently solid rosé with a mix of Gamay, Riesling, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Sauvignon Blanc that is tweaked every vintage to maintain the style from vintage to vintage. It’s bright and fresh on the nose pretty red berries, cranberries and a pinch of citrus. It’s dry but the red berries are ripe and vigorous with lemon/citrus accents and juicy acidity on the finish.

The Foreign Affair Brut Rosé Sparkling NV ($25, 89 points) — A smartly priced charmat style blend of Riesling with a bit of Gamay and Malbec (mostly for colour). It’s bright and lively on the nose with persistent effervescence and plenty of citrus, apple, and red/dark berries. It’s flavourful and zesty on the palate with citrus, green apple, and berries. “This is just way more fun than serious sparkling,” said winemaker Rene Van Ede. “I have no problem crushing this bottle.”

Also in this report, but not reviewed by Wines in Niagara:

• Vieni Sparkling Mosato 2021 ($20)
• The Tragically Hip Ahead By A Century Chardonnay 2021 ($22)
• Cave Spring Estate Grown Cabernet Franc 2020 ($20)
• Wildass Red 2018 ($22)
• Flat Rock Pink Twisted Rosé 2021 ($18)