Le Sommelier has two new wines in the LCBO’s Vintages on January 21.

“For the price it can’t be beat!” | “Top value alert!” | “Best buy!” | “Plenty of character”

All this praise is for the two wines in this Saturday’s VINTAGES release.

 One of Italy’s oldest families, Guicciardini Strozzi, can trace it’s heritage to the Mona Lisa. The winery was founded in 994 (not missing a leading digit!) which as the LCBO’s research team discovered, predicates the first historical mentions of Tuscany’s famous white grape Vernaccia by about 280 years!! A solid value at only $15, the 2015 Villa Cusona Vernaccia di San Gimignano is a great winter white, to compliment seafood based pasta dishes, or conversations as you cozy up around the fireplace. Oh did I mention? In the 1970s, Prince Girolamo Strozzi (founder and first president of Consorzio della Vernaccia) started selling the wine around the world, a business he still runs with his wife Irina and his two daughters Natalia and Irina Jr.

The red wine we arecfeaturing in this release is the 2014 Primarius Pinot Noir from Oregon’s prestigious Willamette Valley. The 2014 is apparently going down in history as one of the best vintages of recent times. I had a representative from an Oregon winery tell me a few months ago, that if a winemaker didn’t make good wine in 2014, they should get out of the business! Not only was the vintage good, the terroir in the valley is diverse, and great for Pinot Noir. The Willamette Valley’s old, volcanic and sedimentary seabed, overlaid with gravel, silt, rock and boulders was brought by the Missoula Floods. Red Jory soil, the most common found above 300 feet, provides excellent drainage for superior quality wine grapes. There are numerous soils within the Willamette Valley alone, each imparting character on Oregon Pinot Noir.

And that’s the concept with the Primarius Pinot Noir… a blend of different estate vineyards, that all impart their own profile, yielding a complex wine through the sum of its parts! 

Two great wines, without breaking the bank. Really thrilled about this release – hope you will venture out and try both of these wines. Please let me know what you think!

Bernard Stramwasser

Le Sommelier
Twitter: @LeSommelierWine
Instagram: @LeSommelierWine

Guicciardini Strozzi Villa Cusona Vernaccia di San Gimignano DOCG 2015

“Guicciardini Strozzi is one of the oldest wine families in Italy – the earliest historical records for the Cusona estate date to 994 – and they predate the first historical mentions of Tuscany’s famous white grape Vernaccia by about 280 years. Vernaccia di San Gimignano is one of Italy’s oldest and most respected white wines. This example offers impressive floral tones with ripe peach, pear and apple tones. Fresh and crisp and long.” (VINTAGES panel, May 2016)


“Top value alert! Light and elegant but immensely flavourful. Starts out quietly but builds in intensity on the palate. Notes of lemon and saline, blossom, dried grass and brine along with almond and pear make up the complex flavour profile. Highly compelling. Tasted January 2017.” – 89 points (Sara d’Amato, WineAlign.com, Jan 2017)

“Vernaccia, to me, has never been about bright fruit and flowers. There is something a bit more brooding, earthy and dried about it. This is a nicely ripe, fairly substantial example with generous aromas of dried flowers, honey and a certain waxiness. Some anise as well. It’s medium bodied, warm and fleshy with some bitterness. Very good to excellent length, with some nuttiness on the finish. Seafood pasta. Tasted January 2017” – 88 points (David Lawrason, WineAlign.com, Jan 2017)

“Typically Vernaccia with as much balm and herbology as there is fruit and stone. There is this really nascent white peach and yellow plum aromatic symbiosis, followed by good acidity, especially for the vintage. This is a really well-thought on and managed San Gimignano. For the price it can’t be beat. Drink 2016-2019. Tasted January 2017.” – 88 points (Michael Godel, WineAlign.com, Jan 2017)

Varietal: Vernaccia
Region: Tuscany, Italy
Price: $14.95 (per bottle)
LCBO#: 172726

Primarius Pinot Noir 2014

“Best Buy! Northwest Wine Academy grad Sarah Cabot enters her second decade of crafting Pinot Noir in Oregon, and this youthful and affordable release marks her first vintage for Precept at its Dundee winery. Sweet and toasty oak tones make for aromas of grilled strawberry, dark cherry, blueberry and bittersweet chocolate. Inside, it’s a mouthwatering drink of black currant, boysenberry and strawberry, backed by a finish of watermelon and additional toast. Precept increased the production of this by more than 20 percent from the 2013 vintage, which makes it easier to find.” Score – Excellent (Andy Perdue & Eric Degerman, greatnorthwestwine.com, June 15, 2016)

“With tones lifted, brightness magnified and acidity causing a stir it can only be pinot noir, from Oregon and accompanied by something saline mobilizing. Tiptoes nicely on the edge of a precipice where volatility and earthly brine walk hand-in razor hand, this taut and distinguished red is wound tight, with its limbs walking bristly and a bit disproportionally ahead of the body. There is this feeling of compounding fruit trying to catch up, from cranberry to pomegranate and then some bitter tannins towards the finish. Plenty of character abounds up and down the wire. Drink 2017-2020. Tasted January 2017.” – 89 points (Michael Godel, WineAlign.com, Jan 2017)

Varietal: 100% Pinot Noir
Region: Oregon, USA
Price: $29.95 (per bottle)
LCBO#: 402180

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