The April 16 2022 LCBO Vintages Release has a number of premium value standouts we don’t see everyday. There are also lots of Rosés and fun whites in anticipation of patio weather!
Domaine des Bernardins Muscat Beaumes de Venise 2020 $23.95 Vintages #: 442160 Rhone, France. (Note 375 mL) This will be a real treat for fans of Tokaji or Vin Santo style wines. Fortified to 15% ABV this has a rounded, fresh palate with pear, crab apple, quince and beeswax according to Matt Walls of decanter.com, who gave it a 93. There are typical hints of rose and orange that lend a bit of a floral touch. This would pair with pastries, crème bruléé, strawberry cheesecake or fruity desserts. You could also serve it with an after dinner charcuterie of Camembert, dried apricots, roasted almonds and strawberry cream cheese bites.
Rosé season is upon us! There are some interesting Rosés this release so consider stocking up to be ready for patio season!
Lakeview Cellars Serenity Pinot Noir Rosé 2020 $15.95 Niagara Peninsula, Ontario VINTAGES#: 16953 won Bronze at the 2021 National Wine Awards of Canada. Michael Godel of winealign.com calls it super value being well made with ‘crunchy red fruit’ finishing with sweet basil. Dry with some saline quality. Enjoy with Poached Salmon in Dill Sauce or trout.
Famille Perrin Réserve Rosé 2021 $15.95 VINTAGES#: 719062, Cotes du Rhone, France. Famille Perrin is of Châteauneuf-du-Pape fame so they know a thing or two about winemaking!. This is juicy, focused with strawberry, citrus, Provençal herbs and spice according to Vintages notes. At only 2 grams RS it is dry, and medium-bodied so it will stand up to dry rub ribs, grilled chicken or light charcuterie. Try it with Ham and Asparagus Crepes.
Pasqua 11 Minutes Rosé 2021 $19.95 VINTAGES#: 556142 another dry, medium-bodied is getting low 90 scores and rave reviews with lots of superlatives like ‘sublime’, ‘delightful’, ‘remarkably balanced’. If you are in the market for an elegant, bright, tangy, fruity Rosé – this one’s for you! Think blush pasta sauce, salmon or strawberry chicken salad sandwiches.
There are a few wines this release in the fruity, aromatic, off-dry style that will go well with Thai, light curry, shrimp or chicken dishes, honey/garlic wings etc.
- Viña Esmeralda 2020 $14.95 VINTAGES#:113696, Catalunya, Spain. This is a fun wine in the ‘cheap and cheerful’ category. Aromatic apple blossom, peach and melon notes over a medium to full -bodied crisp, fruity palate. (8 grams RS)
- Peter Lehmann Layers Semillon//Muscat/Gewürztraminer/Pinot Gris 2019 $16.95 VINTAGES#: 22983, South Australia. Expect refreshing citrus, peach and spice with lots of character. Aromatic and off-dry. (12 grams RS)
- Willy Gisselbrecht Tradition Gewurztraminer 2019 $ 19.95 VINTAGES#:928390, Alsace, France is a great choice for Thai or light curry if you are a fan of Gewurztraminer’s sweet, spiciness. This one is a classic- rich with citrus, peach, honey and lychee and ginger. (23 grams RS)
A white Rioja can be a rich experience. Ontañón Vetiver Viura 2018 $16.95 VINTAGES#:437707, Rioja, Spain is 100% Viura. Viura is known to express the clay and limestone-rich soil in which it is grown. This one is oak-aged for about six months in oak and spends an additional six months in bottle prior to release. Look for subtle floral hints on the nose and a rich mouth-feel with tropical fruit, grapefruit and a bit of white pepper and toast. Try it with this Creamy Seafood Pasta or Quick Pickled Shrimp.
France is making a good show in the value category this release as well.
Famille Sichel Sirius 2019 $17.95 VINTAGES#: 23980 is a classic Sauvignon Blanc/Semillon Bordeaux blend. Roger Voss of Wine Enthusiast gives it 92 and describes ‘delicious citrus acidity allied to tropical fruits and cinnamon.’ Fruity, textured, balanced with minerality and ‘zingy orange zest’. Enjoy with grilled chicken, salmon or white fish.
Domaine Gendron Cuvée Clos Cartaud Vouvray 2018 $18.95 VINTAGES#:22584 Loire France gets a 90 from John Szabo of winealign.com who says it is classic Loire Vouvray (Chenin Blanc) with apple, chamomile, wet hay, plum and apple blossom aromas. Palate is dry, rich and well balanced. Very good length. Very good value for $18.95. Enjoy with Apple Cheddar Tart appetizers or Pork Tenderloin with Prune Sauce.
Most NZ Sauvignon Blanc are respectable even at their worst but this one seems to hold some promise of being a head above the crowd.
Whitehaven Greg Single Vineyard Reserve Sauvignon Blanc 2020 $23.95 VINTAGES#:325944 Awatere Valley, Marlborough NZ is getting rave reviews in the 93-95 point range. Powerful and pungent with aromas of citrus, spice, and peach with wet stone minerality adding complexity to the bouquet. The nose reflects the palate which is beautifully balanced with ‘an abundance of acidity and fine fruit spice’ according to Cam Douglas, Master Sommelier. Enjoy now through 2025 with scallops, Warm goat cheese salad or salmon with chimichurri sauce.
2027 Cellars Wismer Vineyard Foxcroft Block Chardonnay 2020 $24.95 VINTAGES#: 421362, Niagara Escarpment, Ontario. 2027 Cellars makes some of the best Chardonnay Ontario has to offer, consistently scoring in the 91-93 range. Expect ripe citrus, green apple, some spice and overall wonderful balance and depth. Full bodied and rich this one will take you from holiday ham or fowl to seafood or pastry appetizers.
Elk Cove Pinot Gris 2019 $29.95 VINTAGES # 955906 Willamette Valley, Oregon, USA. After Alsace, Oregon is recognized as a producer of fine Pinot Gris wines. This one ranked #10 in Wine Enthusiast’s Top 100 Wines of 2020. It is getting consistent 91/92 scores. It is aromatic and dry (5 grams RS) with grapefruit, lemon and citrus apparently more prominent than the typical apple/pear. Good depth. Enjoy with Swedish Shrim Sandwich, chicken or pork tenderloin.
Prova Cega 2019 $14.95 VINTAGES#: 446054 Douro, Portugal. I am going to put this at the high end of the ‘cheap and cheerful’ category. The 2016 Reserva won Gold at the Decanter World Wine Awards 2020, so I am betting the blend and producers technique are all solid, as most Portuguese wines are. Vintages notes call it floral and ripe with dark cherry, red fruit, licorice and spice. ‘Great-value, elegantly structured, fun wine’ says it all. Enjoy with burgers, pizza or grilled mushrooms, eggplant etc. Check it out early- you may want to go back for more!
Another fine Portuguese, Syrah dominant, blend Cabeça de Toiro Reserva 2017 $17.95 LCBO#: 25248 Tejo, Portugal gets a 91 from Roger Voss of Wine Enthusiast. Look for black fruit, spice and good balance. Tannins were still firm when tasted in 2020. Open it beside your BBQ and enjoy it with anything that comes off it!
Bollina Bormida Primitivo 2018 $16.95 VINTAGES#: 23033 Puglia, Italy is getting repsectable reviews in the 90ish range around the web (the Luca Maroni’s scale is unique to him and does not correlate to the 100 point system adopted by established critics so don’t jump at his 98 score). However this is being described as a well structured, balanced and well integrated wine with lots of black fruit along with a bit of smoke and oak. Worth considering beside your Lasagne with Mushroom Ragú or Eggplant parmigiana. Same logic applies to Bollina Menas Calabria Rosso 2019 $17.95 VINTAGES#: 23066 Calabria, Italy. However this did make Maroni’s list of best Italian wines so I think we are safe to assume it will be a respectable pour. Look for cherry, blackberry, mocha and vanilla in this one. Pair with aged cheese and charcuterie. Try this one with Pistachio, Black Olive Crusted Beef Steak.
Nero d’Avola is a lesser known grape which makes it a bit of a gem value-wise. Feudo Maccari Noto Neré Nero d’Avola 2018 $17.95 VINTAGES#: 339101 Sicily, Italia is polished and refined according to Vintages notes. Look for blackberry, black olives, blueberries with hints of stone. Nicely structured, long finish – what is not to like. Full-bodied and smooth enjoy with lamb or charcuterie with Sicilian Caponata.
Fans of a robust Malbec will be happy to see Nieto Senetiner Don Nicanor Malbec 2018 $16.95 VINTAGES#: 178657, Mendoza Argentina. It is scoring 90-93 among critics. James Suckling describes tar and blackberry on the nose and palate, good structure. Full-bodied and smooth enjoy with charcuterie or steak.
Lamadrid Single Vineyard Bonarda 2019 16.95 VINTAGES#: 232652 Mendoza, Argentina ranked #37 in Wine Enthusiast’s Top 100 Best Buys of 2020 and got a 91 from Michael Schachner of Wine Enthusiast. He describes dark plum and berry flavors and a generous pour. Not overwhelming complex but ‘lusty and fresh’. Enjoy with Ribs With Spicy Blackberry Sauce or Ooh-la-la Burgers.
Wapisa Malbec 2018 $19.95 VINTAGES#: 631879 Patagonia, Argentina wins the value award for reds this release (see the Clos Jordanne Pinot Noir below which runs nose to nose). Most Malbecs we see come from Mendoza and the higher the altitude the better. This is still cool climate but from the Atlantic coast. The wine maker is of Château Pétrus fame. Tim Atkin of timatkin.com gives this a 95 and suggests it has the ‘delicacy and finesse of a great Bordeaux red.’ Michael Schachner of Wine Enthusiast describes earthy black fruit aromas with hints of prune and cinnamon. Ripe with cool climate acidity. Enjoy with Steak with Peppercorn Sauce.
Wente Beyer Ranch Zinfandel 2018 $21.95 VINTAGES#: 66118, California, USA. California Zin fans will be happy to see this on offer! It is scoring in the 89-91 range. Critics agree it is more restrained than they typical California Zin with 14% ABV nicely integrated. Look for lots of cherry and dark fruit, orange zest, some herbal notes and a decent finish. Although I do not normally chill Zin, critics are suggest a light chill on this will deliver the most freshness. Enjoy on your patio with Tequila Ribs or Marinated Flank Steak.
Ravenswood Old Vine Zinfandel 2018 $21.95 VINTAGES#:942599 Lodi, California USA is also in the 89-90 range and is a bit more robust with smoky black fruits on the nose and plum, cinnamon and vanilla on the palate and a long finish. Enjoy with the ribs and steak suggest above!
Mayor de Castilla Reserva 2014 $21.95 VINTAGES#: 23420 Ribera del Duero, Spain gets a 95 from Decanter World Wine Awards, 2020 who call it ‘Beautiful!’ and give it a 95. Soft tannins, with lively acidity and truffle, forest floor, dried cherry and mints and herbs on a long finish. Enjoy with burgers to steak or lamb.
Castello di ColleMassari Montecucco Rosso Riserva 2016 $22.95 VINTAGES#: 23039 Tuscany, Italy is scoring 91-94 around the web. 80% Sangiovese, it is silky with a long, structured finish. Look for raspberry, pepper and citrus aromas with cherry, wildberry and hints of minerality on the palate. Fine tannins with balanced acidity. Enjoy with Braciole or Pork Osso Buco.
While any of the Australian Shiraz on offer this release would be a reliable pour, The Hedonist Shiraz 2016 $23.95 McLaren Vale, South Australia stands a bit above the crowd with a 95 from International Wine Challenge and 92-94 from other critics. Look for dense cherry, mint and smoke on the nose and blueberry/blackberry spice on the finish. Full bodied and robust, enjoy with charcuterie, grilled mushrooms or beef.
Le Clos Jordanne Jordan Village Pinot Noir 2019 $24.95 VINTAGES#: 33894 Niagara Peninsula, Ontario. Ontario is well suited to growing Pinot Noir and in the hands of the talented Thomas Bachelder – we have a winner here. Critics are giving this consistent low 90-93 scores and all agree it is outstanding value for this well made, impressive Pinot. Rick VanSickle of winesinniagara.com describes dark cherries and forest berries. Expect some forest flour, spicy notes , excellent balance of acid/alcohol/tannins and excellent length on the finish. Drinkable now but you could cellar this for another year or 3 even. Enjoy with Montreal Spice Marinated Lamb Chops or Venetian Duck Ragù.
Château Pierre de Montignac 2015 24.95 VINTAGES#: 437954 Cru Bourgeois, Médoc, France. Of the 3 Bordeaux on offer this is the best value IMHO. Cru Bourgeois is a designation of superior quality that can be applied for and awarded annually. The Bordeaux system of Premières Crus, Deuxièmes Crus, Troisièmes Crus amazingly still carries huge influence on the wine market – from a list that was ‘whipped up’ in 1855 under Napoleon preceding the Universal Exposition in Paris. There has only been one significant amendment to that list since, in 1973 when Château Mouton-Rothschild was elevated to first-growth from 2-growth. So…. Médoc wineries that didn’t make the 1855 list need another way in the modern world to acknowledge superior quality…Cru Bourgeois is status is it. The status is given to the wine itself and not blanketed on the Château. Wine Spectator has a good detailed article on the sytem if you are curious to know more.
Château Pierre de Montignac 2015 24.95 VINTAGES#: 437954, from a great vintage, is described as intense and layered, succulent and intriguing. The ripe dark fruit are taking a step back in deference to the bottle aging cedar, coffee and toasty oak notes. Finish is long and powerful. There are lots of superlatives about weight and complexity swirling in every review of this one. Some suggest it is peaking now and should be enjoyed now or within the next couple of years. A classic to be enjoy with – what else? Roast with Bordelaise sauce!
If you prefer a Right Bank Merlot dominant blend Château Teyssier 2019 $25.95 VINTAGES#:226035 Montagne-Saint-Émilion, Bordeaux, France is scoring 90-93 consistently. James Suckling is calling it ‘ripeand rich with walnuts and chocolate’. Full-bodied and firm still – he calls it chewy- I would cellar this for another year or so.