The Aug 13 2022 LCBO Vintages Release has lots of good value wines starring Portugal and Italy among others!
Look for great value from Puglia and Sicily in Italy and great body from Australia in particular but there is something for everyone!
La Fleur de François Brut Crémant de Bordeaux Bordeaux, France $16.95 VINTAGES#: 648170. I rated this little gem 92 in 2019 and since winemakers go to great lengths to ensure consistency in non-vintage Sparklings I assume the quality remains. Also it won Gold at the Concours de Bordeaux 2020. Note the price!!! (pssst….. think ahead to Thanksgiving….)
Carolyn Hetke rated this wine as 92/100 with the following review:
This sparkling is a delight with a clean, fresh nose and a hint of white flowers. No discernable mousse but it dances on the tongue with refreshing hints of citrus. Beautiful balance and good length. Serve on its own or with seafood canapés. Excellent value. This would be a very versatile sparkling so at this price – you may want to stock up. Tasted August 2019. www.thewineloverskitchen.com
Viña Esmeralda Rosé 2021 Catalunya, Spain $16.95 VINTAGES#: 490920 This is a fun, unassuming Rosé if you are looking for a burst of red fruit from the Grenache. Ripe and rich with a hint of sweetness (although it is only 4 grams/L). Enjoy with fresh cheeses, fruit skewers or chicken salad.
Château Val-Joanis Tradition Rosé 2021 Rhone, France $19.95 VINTAGES#: 707281 is a perennial favourite among reviewers. Look for fresh, juicy peach and cherry with a hint of savoury. Perfect for Pickle Brine Chicken!
Sables d’Azur Rosé 2021 Cotes de Provence, France $19.95 VINTAGES#: 33621 gets a 91 from Natalie Maclean. Look for dry, medium body, juicy red berries, some savoury and mineral hints. Enjoy with Poached Salmon with Dill Sauce.
Sandhill Rosé 2021 British, Columbia, Canada $21.95 VINTAGES#: 19532 This 60/40 Merlot Gamay Noir blend is gettingn 90-92 among critics. Look for ‘gorgeous’ strawberry, raspberry notes with bright, refreshing acidity. Enjoy with salmon or spinach salad with strawberries and raspberries!
My Italian friends rave about Grillo wine. It isn’t offered routinely so this is your chance to check it out! Curatolo Arini Grillo 2019 Sicily, Italy $14.95 VINTAGES#: 23915 gets a 90 from Kerin O’Keefe of Wine Enthusiast who labels it a Best Buy. Crisp with citrus and stone fruit and a hint of salinity this is a perfect match for seafood, white fish or calamari.
Thierry Delaunay Touraine Sauvignon Blanc 2021 Loire, France $16.95 VINTAGES#: 391847. This has been a ‘cheap and cheerful’ staple in my summer wine stock. An enjoyable Loire style Sauvignon Blanc with gooseberry, citrus and a hint of minerality – enjoy with chicken or seafood.
Featherstone Phoenix 2021 Niagara Peninsula, Ont, Canada $18.95 VINTAGES#: 519025. This is consistently getting 90ish among critics. For fans of Gewürztraminer, this one is off dry and showing rose, melon, grapefruit, lychee, pear and ginger. Aromatic and flavourful, approaching medium body this would go well with roast poultry (think Thanksgiving), or Thai food.
Flat Rock Unplugged Unoaked Chardonnay 2020 Niagara Escarpment Ont, Canada $17.95 VINTAGES#: 68015. This is getting consistent 90 scores among critics who describe citrus,and appe with good acidity and lively ‘spritz’. Enjoy with St. Paulin cheese or white fish.
Mountadam Five-Fifty Chardonnay 2019 Eden Valley, South Australia $17.95 VINTAGES#: 22984 gets a 92 from Sam Kim of wineorbit.com and #4 rank of Top Chardonnays of Eden Valley 2019. Full-bodied and rich with peach, nut, nougat and citrus. Well balanced with a ‘generous’ finish. Enjoy with grilled chicken or Cobb salad.
Martin Codax Mara Martin Godello 2020 Monterrei, Spain $17.95 VINTAGES#: 25613 If you are looking to expand your palette here is a chance to try a good example of a fairly rare North American offering. Godello is bone dry, crisp with a grapefruit, lime, cilantro profile and a hint of saline. Enjoy cold cold cold with fish tacos (and cilantro!) or calamari.
Any of the New Zealand Sauvignon Blancs on offer are rating consistently in the low 90s but the value award goes to Mud House Sauvignon Blanc 2021 Marlborough, New Zealand $19.95 VINTAGES#: 190454. Look for rockmelon, grapefruit, nectarine and citrus, bright acidity and a long finish. While most are scoring 90 ish on average Greywacke Sauvignon Blanc 2021 $25.95 VINTAGES#: 164228 is getting mid 90’s so if you want a premium pour consider it with its ‘remarkable texture with striking power and length’.
The value award for reds this release has to go to Portugal. Guarda Rios Red 2020 Alentejano, Portugal $12.95 VINTAGES#: 25257, an Aragonez/Syrah/Trincadeira blend got 97 (and Platinum) from Decanter World Wine Awards 2021 and scores well (90s) among published critics. Look for ripe blackberry, chocolate, olive, tobacco and garrigue with juicy acidity and supple tannins. Stock up for BBQ or stew season ahead!
But wait… there’s more!!! It is a toss up because Gandarada 2019 Dao, Portugal $13.95 VINTAGES#: 25447 also scored 97 in Decanter World Wine Awards 2021 and got Best in Show! This is a meatier, plummy wine with depth and extraction and ‘hugely characterful…for winter’s nights’. It will age well for a few years so stock up!
Not as impressive but nevertheless, a charming pour La Chimera d’Albegna Raffaello Sangiovese 2018 Maremma Toscana, Italy $14.95 VINTAGES#: 25797 will be a quaffable accompaniment to burgers or pizza or any patio refreshments. Classic Sangiovese with raspberries, herbs and silk tannins.
Sicily’s Nero d’Avola grape is a great source of good value wines. Messer del Fauno Nero d’Avola 2020 Sicily, Italy $14.95 VINTAGES#: 538132 is a ‘tasty and stylish’ pour according to Natalie Maclean. Look for dark cherry, blueberry with hints of licorice and fine tannins. An easy partner for burgers, pizza or pasta.
Basciano Chianti Rufina 2018 Tuscany, Italy $16.95 VINTAGES#: 68163 gets a 90 from Bruce Sanderson of winespectator.com. (Others have a range of 88-90) Nevertheless, at this price you are guranteed a satisfying pour of dense, rich black cherry, blackberry with some leather and tobacco. Good balance and good lenght. This is a great wine for patio BBQs or for recipes like Red Wine Braised Beef where you want one bottle for the pot and one for the table!
13th Street Expression Series Cabernet/Merlot 2020 Niagara Peninsula, Ont. Canada $17.95 VINTAGES#: 18880. This is getting consistent 90 scores among critics. Look for meaty blackberry, grainy tannins , some spice and a decent finish. Keep it for another year or decant and plan to serve with BBQ fare.
Cantina di Verona Ripasso Valpolicella Superiore 2019 Veneto, Italy $17.95 VINTAGES#: 424960 is getting high praise among critics. Look for red fruit and plums. Medium bodied and fruity with good structure and richness. Enjoy with pizza, spaghetti, risotto or burgers.
Puglia A Source of Great Value Wines.
Their Primitovo (known as Zinfandel in North America) is an elegant old world style pour, not as bold and fruit forward as its California counterpart. Papale Linea Oro Primitivo di Manduria 2017 Puglia, Italy $21.95 VINTAGES#: 261784 actually made me swoon when I tasted it! I am not alone – David Lawrason of winealign.com gives it a 90 and describes it as a ‘plush, soft and generous red’. A warm weather red showing ripe fruit, dried herbs, spice and soft tannins. This one deserves a good steak or Braciole.
Pietra Pura Mandus Primitivo di Manduria 2019 $18.95 VINTAGES#: 216457 will also be a good bet, showing ripe fruit, cocoa, vanilla and spicy pepper.
Bollato di Guarini Negroamaro/Primitivo 2020 $17.95 VINTAGES#: 17884 has scores ranging from high 80’s to mid 90’s so I think some personal preference is coming in to play. So… if you are fan of either or both Negroamaro and/Primitivo this unusual blend may be for you! Look for rich red fruit, leather and spice. Serve with lamb or stew or firm cheeses.
Le Gravillas Sablet Côtes du Rhône-Villages 2019 Rhone, France $17.95 VINTAGES#: 78790 won Gold at Concours des Vins Orange and is scoring low 90s among critics. Look for ripe ark fruit, pepper and hints of tobacco. This will take you from burgers to steak.
Vaucher Père & Fils Fleurie 2020 Beaujolais, France $17.95 VINTAGES#: 534339 gets a 94 from rodphillopsonwine.com who describes red fruit, spice with good acidity. No tannins to speak of. If you have red wine fans at your Thanskgiving table consider serving this lightly chilled with your bird and all the fixings.
A word on the Bordeaux on offer this release. Vintages have done a good job of finding favourable reviews but research is showing the average rating for those under $35 is running around 85/86 points. Nothing wrong with that if you are wanting a quaffable Bordeaux… just pick your price accordingly.
Warwick Professor Black Pitch Black 2017 Stellenbosch, South Africa $19.95 VINTAGES#: 24250. This little gem is getting consistent rave reviews around the web and scores 91-93. A Bordeaux blend featuring Cab Sauv and Cab Franc with a touch of Cinsaut thrown in. Bold, earthy yet delicate fruit. Lots of superlatives! Pair with steak or lamb. Drinking beautifully now but worth cellaring a few for 5 years or so as well.
Wirra Wirra Church Block Cabernet Sauvignon/Shiraz/Merlot 2019 McLarn Vale South Australia, $21.95 VINTAGES#: 24034 is getting consistent reviews in the 90s. James Halliday gives it a 94 and calls it Special Value and a ‘gold plated bargain’. Look for a big, bright, smooth pour with lots of fresh fruit and ripe tannins. Enjoy with steak or ribs or burgers.
Zonte’s Footstep Blackberry Patch Cabernet 2019 Fleurieu, South Australia $19.95 VINTAGES#: 353193 is being called amazing value under $20. Full-bodied and firm with spicy raspberry and dark fruit on the palate. Plan to enjoy with food-burgers, steak or charcuterie.