The Best &The Rest- LCBO Vintages Release April 27, 2019

Exciting news folks!   I now have access to the media tastings for the LCBO Vintages releases!  That means I will be able to  review and rate  a curated sample of some 60 + wines  from each release.

So here are the highlights of the wines that I actually tasted and reviewed.  This is based on the sub-set of wines Vintages put on offer for review.  The Best are the highest scoring  based on my tasting experience.  The Rest are the remaining wines reviewed and include wines of interest and value.

Subscribers to my newsletter will receive my reviews a few days prior to the release.  My reviews will be published on-line a week after the release date.  If you want to receive my standouts from the tasting in your basket before the release date  you can sign up here.

The Best


(VQA Short Hills Bench, Niagara Escarpment, Ont, Canada) 616466 (XD)   $29.95

This is a big wine right from the get go! A complex nose with pronounced oak tempered by soft buttery notes. Even some underlying fresh citrus notes! A textured oaky palate, slightly ‘gritty’ in a pleasant way. Long satisfying finish. This is forceful wine but not overpowering. It would go with creamy garlicky dishes or old cheeses. Tasted 2019. 92

Full-bodied & Rich

ROSEROCK CHARDONNAY 2016 (Eola-Amity Hills, Willamette Valley, Oregon, USA) 573568 (XD)  $41.95

Pale almost clear. This is an impressive wine with Just a hint of oak in evidence that thankfully does not overpower the freshness of this beautifully balanced wine. Tasted April 2019. 92

MATAHIWI ESTATE SAUVIGNON BLANC 2018 (Wairarapa, North Island, New Zealand) 402677 (XD)    $17.00

A classic NZ Sauvignon Blanc at an amazing price. Clean and crisp with a pronounced herbaceousness and cat pee on the nose, softened with hints of white flowers. Satisfying on the palate. Medium weight and nicely balanced. Very long finish. Excellent value. Tasted April 2019. 91

Aromatic & Flavourful

TAPIZ ALTA COLLECTION CHARDONNAY 2016 (Uco Valley, Mendoza, Argentina) 629410 (XD)   $19.95

Uco Valley delivers again! Aromatic nose with white flowers and spicy citrus. Citrus carries to the palate with lemon peel and candied ginger. Pleasant long finish. Drink with quiche, salad or white fish. If you are a fan of unoaked, fruity chardonnay this one’s for you. Tasted April 2019. 90

SANPAOLO FIANO DI AVELLINO 2017 (DOCG Campania, Italy) 631705(D)      $19.95

This is a very interesting wine that commands your attention. A complex nose with bright notes of citrus. Floral tones are balanced by some nuttiness. Palate is medium weight with some astringency. Try it with creamy pasta. Tasted April 2019. 90

KUNDE CHARDONNAY 2016 (Sonoma County, California, USA) 750 mL (XD)   $24.95  639716

This conforms to the big, buttery, rich stereotype of California Chardonnays, but in a good way. Pronounced but not overpowering. Deep gold in the glass. Lovely, oaky nose with hints of sandalwood and spice. Palate is citrusy and refreshing. This is a lovely, well integrated wine. Slightly hot on the palate. Good value.Tasted April 2019. 90

DOMAINE SEGUIN POUILLY-FUMÉ 2017 AC Loire  750 mL (XD) $29.95 637876

Clean and clear with a somewhat reserved nose. Overall stone, flint and minerality inform the palate. Nicely balanced, medium body. Would be good with seafood. Tasted April 2019 90

WILLIAM HILL NORTH COAST CHARDONNAY 2016 North Coast  750 mL (D) $19.95  288555
Gold in the glass and buttery on the nose. Popcorn on the palate to complement the buttery nose. Somewhat silky mouth feel even with the high alcohol in evidence. Medium long length. Great value at $19.95. Tasted April 2019. 89

Red Wines

TREANA CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2015 (Paso Robles, California, USA) 639518 (D)    $39.95

Inky purple in the glass. A complex and inviting nose with mint and sandalwood. Silky smooth on the palate. This is a beautifully structured and integrated wine. Serve with beef tenderloin, grilled steak. Tasted April 2019. 93

(AC Rhone, France) 033852(D)   $17.95

This is an easy sipper with the signature Rhone finesse and refinement. Light enough to sip with light cheeses but enough body to serve with a tenderloin or steak. Excellent Value.  Tasted April 2019.  90

UMBERTO FIORE BARBARESCO 2015 DOCG 750 mL (XD) $27.95  636670

Brick red in the glass. Smokey violets and lilac waft up in the glass. Floral notes do not carry to the palate. Medium bodied with tannins still very much in play. Serve with Italian meat and ragu. Tasted April 2019. 90

(DOCG Veneto, Italy) 631630 (D)     $39.95

This is a lovely ‘entry level’ Amarone. Light smoke and tobacco on the nose. Silky and smooth on the palate. Nicely balanced. This is a feminine Amarone, if there is such a thing. Medium finish. Serve with Osso bucco or pasta. Tasted April 2019. 90

Full-bodied & Smooth

(AC Rhone, France) 993964 (XD)     $52.95

Lovely ruby colour. This is an elegant, refined blend. Some light cherry and red fruits still emerge on the palate. Silky mouthfeel. Good length with a pleasant finish. Begs for beef bourguignon. Tasted April 2019. 90

Full-bodied & Smooth

CAVE DE VISAN GRANDE RÉSERVE VISAN 2015 AC Côtes du Rhône-Villages  750 mL (XD) $15.95  494682

Dark cherry coloured. Fruit has receded but this remains a nicely blended and structured wine. Tannins are refined. Nice lingering finish. Serve with light cheeses, duck or turkey. Tasted April 2019. 89


The Rest


CALVET BRUT CRÉMANT DE BORDEAUX ROSÉ 2015 Traditional method, (AC Saint-Émilion, Bordeaux, France)624759 (XD) $19.95

A pretty blush salmon colour in the glass. What’s not to like about a fine mousse, a delicate strawberry nose and some lively acidity. Slight bitterness on the medium finish. Tasted April 2019. 88


Traditional method, AC Saint-Émilion, Bordeaux, France  750 mL (XD) $19.95

A pretty blush salmon colour in the glass. What’s not to like about a fine mousse, a delicate strawberry nose and some lively acidity. Slight bitterness on the medium finish. Tasted April 2019. 88


PENINSULA RIDGE BEAL VINEYARD CABERNET ROSÉ 2018 VQA Beamsville Bench, Niagara Escarpment  (D) $14.95  177840

Salmony pink in the glass, fruity nose without being sweet and cloying. Palate starts out slightly tart and lively ending with some perceived sweetness. Food friendly – would stand up to salmon, trout and salads with berries. Tasted April 2019  89

MAS DES BRESSADES CUVÉE TRADITION ROSÉ 2018 (AP Costières-de-Nîmes, France) (XD)     $16.95  950576

Strong salmon/pink in the glass. Hints of cherry on the nose. Very dry. This is a  lovely well integrated rosé. Ladies who lunch on seafood and salads lunch will love it! Tasted April 2019.  89


FEATHERSTONE FOUR FEATHERS 2018 (VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ont, Canada)  750 mL (D) $14.95  341586

This will be a fun summer sipper or spritzer base. Pronounced nose of tropical fruit ( pineapple & lychee). Very aromatic, off dry with lots of tropical fruit on palate. Tasted April 2019. 87

VQA Twenty Mile Bench, Niagara Escarpment  750 mL (M) $19.95

This off dry Riesling delivers whole heartedly on the classic aromatic, petrol nose. Some secondary stone fruit notes (peach). The intensity of the nose doesn’t quite carry over to the palate but it has a satisfying waxy, mouth feel. Medium finish. Tasted April 2019. 88

(XD) $22.95  537076

Pale and clear lemon in the glass. Aromatic & complex nose of peaches and stone fruits. Palate leans toward wet stone and is not as fruity as suggested by the nose. Medium weight and balanced with a long finish. A touch more acid would have made this a wine that demands attention. Nonetheless it would be a delight to sip on its own just for the nose! Tasted April 2019. 89

NOBLE VINES 242 SAUVIGNON BLANC 2017 Single vineyard, Monterey 750 mL (XD) $18.95  639591

A simple Sauvignon Blanc with a mildly herbal profile on the nose and palate but a bitter on the finish. Tasted April 2019. 85

COLUMBIA CREST H3 CHARDONNAY 2014  Horse Heaven Hills, Columbia Valley 750 mL (XD)     $19.95  441998

Medium gold in the glass, this has an interesting nose of waxy lemon. Oak and alcohol tend to dominate the palate. Big and bold. Tasted April 2019. 88


L’AMI DES CRUSTACÉS CLASSIQUE PINOT BLANC 2016  AC Alsace  750 mL (XD) $17.95  644427

The name ‘Friend of Shellfish’ says it all -clean, crisp and lively. Nicely balanced with hints of salinity and fruitiness. Try it with…what else? Seafood. Tasted April 2019 88

DOMAINE SEGUIN POUILLY-FUMÉ 2017 AC Loire  750 mL (XD) $29.95 637876

Clean and clear with a somewhat reserved nose. Overall stone, flint and minerality inform the palate. Nicely balanced, medium body. Would be good with seafood. Tasted April 2019 90

AP Rhone  750 mL (D) $16.95  644385

Rhône elegance in evidence here. The powdery, soft floral nose eventually gives up a hint of oaky meatiness. Medium weight, the high alcohol level is evident but does not overpower the aromatics on the palate. Lovely long finish. A lot going on here for the money. This elegant wine would stand up to creamy seafood, Coquille St. Jacques, even lamb or swordfish. Tasted April 2019. 89


BLACK FOREST DRY PINOT GRIS 2016 Qualitätswein (Badischer Winzerkeller) 750 mL (D) $15.95  645150

This 2016 is starting to show a deeper gold colour. The nose is clean but a bit tight with just a suggestion of stone and minerality. The palate is slightly spicy, medium weight with a medium finish. Tasted April 2019 89


BELLARIA OLTRE GRECO DI TUFO 2017 DOCG  Campania 750 mL (D) $22.95  632281

Straw coloured. Interesting, very aromatic nose with tropical spice and pineapple that avoids being cloying. Medium weight palate. Slightly gritty mouth feel but floral, fruit and spice notes carry through to the palate. Reminiscent of a Torrontes, this would go with fruited stilton, figs, pears and creamy cheeses. A very interesting wine! If you are looking to expand your palate start here! 89


Red Wines


BURROWING OWL MERLOT 2015  BC VQA Okanagan Valley   (XD) $39.95

Deep garnet colour in the glass. The nose has a seaweed character that gives way to cedar and mint. Palate has intense black fruit and is hot with alcohol and mature tannins. Serve with hearty beef or lamb dishes. Tasted April 2019. 88


CASTORO CELLARS ESTATE GROWN ZINFANDEL 2015  Paso Robles  750 mL (XD) $24.95  645432

Inky, purple in the glass. Raisins on the nose. Fruity palate, smooth and full bodied. Long finish. Would be great with spicy pizza, lamb burgers. Tasted April 2019. 88

DUCK POND PINOT NOIR 2016  Oregon  750 mL (XD) $29.95  427872

Garnet in the glass. This wine is still young and tight. Bright black cherry on the palate with high, chalky tannins. Needs time. Tasted April, 2018 88

SOKOL BLOSSER PINOT NOIR 2015  Dundee Hills, Willamette Valley
750 mL (XD) $37.95  748434

Dusty garnet colour. Beautiful nose of cherries and woodsy forest. Fruit is lost on the palate to the grippy tannins. Weightier than your average Pinot Noir. Long finish. Would go with charcuterie or tenderloin. Tasted April 2019. 89

WINES OF SUBSTANCE CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2016 Columbia Valley  750 mL (XD) $23.95  419770

Solid garnet colour. Subtle nose, subtle palate. Tannins are still very much in evidence. Should open up more with time. Tasted April 2019. 88


Apalta Vineyard, Colchagua Valley  750 mL (XD) $27.95  947929

Deep garnet in the glass. A hint of petrol on the nose. Fruit has receded but it is still a big and intense wine. Best enjoyed with food to balance the tannins that are still very much present. Try it with BBQ ribs or steak. Tasted April, 2019 89

MONTES ALPHA SPECIAL C UVÉE CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2015 DO Cachapoal Valley  750 mL (XD) $24.95  649160

Dark and inky in the glass. It opens with a fairly pronounced barnyard nose that eventually gives way to smoky tones. Lots of fruit on a hot palate. Lots of tannin still in play. Serve with substantial BBQ meats, stews and charcuterie. Tasted April 2019. 88


CHRIS RINGLAND SHIRAZ 2017  Barossa, South Australia  750 mL (XD) $24.95  633479

Bright ruby colour in the glass. Brett dominates the nose. Lots of fruit on the palate leaning toward candied cherry. Try it with pizza, burgers or sip on its own. Tasted April 2019  88

COLAB AND BLOOM SHIRAZ 2016 Barossa, South Australia  750 mL (XD) $18.95 632562

Dark ruby coloured. Spicy nose with a hint of mint. Lots of fruit on the mid palate with a silky and smooth mouth feel. Big wine with high alcohol. Try it with spicy pasta, spicy pizza, burgers or sausage. Tasted April 2019. 89

HARDY’S TINTARA GEOLOGY SHIRAZ 2016 McLaren Vale, South Australia 750 mL (XD) $18.95  632570

Dark purple in the glass. Everything about this wine is big – fruity, spicy nose and palate to match. Palate is almost overpowered by the alcohol. Best enjoyed with food.Tasted April 2019. 88

South Africa

BELLINGHAM HOMESTEAD SAUVIGNON BLANC 2017 WO Cape Town  750 mL (XD) $17.95  636027  

The waxy, petrol nose is reminiscent of an older Riesling. The vegetal notes tend toward the woodsy, wet leaves end of the spectrum. Tasted April 2019. 86


LAVAU RASTEAU 2015 AC Rhone 750 mL (XD) $20.95  394650

Medium-full bodied, well structured, well balanced and pleasant. This is an easy sipper on its own or serve with light beef or lamb dishes. No rough edges anywhere to be seen here. (Tasted April 2019) 88


IGT Veneto 750 mL (XD) $14.95  638494

This is a cherry coloured, light and easy sipper. Smooth and fruity. Will be great for patio sipping alone or with bruschetta, pizza or pasta. Tasted April 2019. 86


BAIGORRI CRIANZA 2015  DOCa Rioja  750 mL (XD) $24.95

Garnet coloured. Smokey and leathery on the nose, less so on the palate. Well balanced. Medium finish. Tasted April 2019. 88

O. FOURNEIR URBAN RIBERA TINTA DEL PAÍS 2015  DO Ribera del Duero 750 mL (XD) $19.95  645804

Garnet coloured. This is a pleasant unassuming, medium bodied, well blended red. Nicely balanced. Tannins are dusty and chalky on the finish. Perfect to go with tapas. Tasted April 2019. 88





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