Do I have a great bottle for you today! It’s from a recent Vintages release. What is this “Vintages release” you may ask? At the LCBO, there are two sections: there is the general listing, which is the stock that is always available and takes up the biggest section of the store. Then there is the Vintages section, which offers more specialty wines. With the exception of Vintages Essentials, which tend to be the popular favourites of the Vintages section and are always available, the selection in Vintages is constantly changing. Every two weeks, it introduces 125 new fine wines from around the world. This is known as the “Vintages release,” and it is a pretty exciting time for wine geeks in Ontario. The LCBO even prints out a magazine to announce the upcoming release. It always has great pictures and interesting articles, followed by a list of the newly released wines. You can pick up a copy about a week before the release at the LCBO, or read the digital copy online.
Now that we have that definition out of the way, let’s get on with the good stuff!
Yesterday we had a barbecue to go to, so we needed wine (obviously). A lot of people tell me that they drink only white in the summer and red in the winter, which I think is crazy talk. Why limit yourself to only half of the available wines based on the weather? Ok, I understand that with this insane heat lately, you maybe don’t want to be drinking a super heavy red. It just doesn’t have that refreshing quality one might crave when it is so hot and humid you start sweating as soon as you step out the door. What I have here is a wine I promise you will want to drink all year round.
Back to the BBQ. We were having steak, and I just can’t drink white wine with grilled steak. That is one food that really demands a red in my books, no matter what it’s doing outside. So I went to the Vintages section and looked for something under $20. There are actually lots of bottles available in that price range, particularly in the new releases (check out this page from the Vintages magazine or peruse the whole list).
I ended up picking this Langa Garnacha, from the Catalayud region in northeastern Spain. Garnacha is the main grape grown in this region, but it is also grown in France (code name: grenache), where it is a main component of Côtes-du-Rhône wines. This grape may be thin-skinned, but packs a whole lot of flavour. It is typically heavy on the fruit flavours (strawberry, raspberry, cherry, but also black pepper and licorice) and tends to yield a high alcohol content. The Langa is pretty true to this benchmark. I jotted down the following tasting note at the BBQ:
– sweet spice, tobacco, blueberry, blackberry, black cherry, chocolate, pepper, licorice, smoke
– medium-full bodied, low tannin, high alcohol
The typical pairing for garnacha wines is grilled lamb, but it was fantastic with our deliciously fatty grilled steak. The smokiness of the wine went so well with the grilled meat, and the dark fruit flavours made it really difficult to put down. I am salivating just thinking about it. Plus, it was great without food as well. I am seriously considering running out and getting a case right now. If you are planning on doing the same, do it quickly! This wine was released over a month ago, so stocks are running low, and because it’s in Vintages, once it’s gone, it’s gone for good.
Let me know if you end up trying it and tell me what you think in the Comments! Also, if you want to get an email every time there is a new post on Wining with Mel, just click on the +Follow button at the bottom-right of your screen.