The Jan 21 2023 LCBO Vintages Release has a number of gems in it. A Port, a Sherry a Rhone and lots of Cab Sauv among others.
I have had to give in to inflation and raise the limit to $40, otherwise we will likely never get to consider some of the entry level premium wines such as Sancerre, Châteauneuf-du-pape, Amarone etc.
Having said that there are lots of good value reds in particular in this release and Port lovers are in for a real treat! There are lots of good value Cabernet Sauvignons – you could do an around-the-world tasting and compare styles!
QUINTA DO CRASTO LATE BOTTLED VINTAGE PORT 2016 Vintages # 515536 $16.95 Unfiltered, DOP, Portugal Port Lovers! You are going to want to get on this!! This is a high quality Late Bottled Vintage Port that is unfiltered which means you can easily drink now or cellar til 2035 time frame. It gets a 92 from Mark Squires of robertparker.com who says although not the biggest or most powerful it is one of the best values – expressive and nuanced with the ability to age and become even more expressive. Think of it as a ‘mini-Vintange Port. (Note this is 375 mL which explains the price but it has the advantage that you won’t end up with an open bottle of Port on the sideboard for days or weeks.) If you want to know more about buying and serving Port check out What is Port and How Do I Serve It.
GONZÁLEZ BYASS NECTAR PEDRO XIMÉNEZ DULCE SHERRY Vintages # 87577 DO, Spain $26.95. If you are a fan of dessert wines or a fortified wine charcuterie session you will want to check this out. You don’t see a Pedro Ximinez in the LCBO every day. Decanter World Wine Awards, 2020 gave this a 95 and describe it as ‘Elegant and inviting, with layers of dark bitter chocolate, burnt orange and barley sugar leading on to a lush, rich palate of toffee, caramel and espresso.’ This will show beautifully served with Burnt Basque Cheesecake. Trust me – it’s my new guilty pleasure combo!!
This month features a number of true Champagnes so the prices are in the stratosphere on some. If you are looking for an everyday, brunch bubbly check out TORRESELLA PROSECCO Vintages # 400440 Extra dry, DOC, Italy Falstaff.at gives it a 90 and describe persistent perlage,hints of yeast, citrus fruit andsaline aromas. Precise and well-balanced with a ‘ luscious finish’.
On the premium end.. if you want Champagne quality at a more reasonable price SEGURA VIUDAS HEREDAD RESERVA BRUT CAVA Vintages # 558825 Traditional method, DO, Spain $39.95 Meridith May of tastingpanel.com gives this a 94. This is the Spanish version of the French ‘tête de cuvée’, which means the best, most prestigious and most expensive of Champagnes. So… consider sampling some of Spain’s best at a fraction of the cost of Champagne. Three years in the making, she describes it as refreshing with aromas of brioche, savory lemon and herbs. The palate has floral and smoky notes with some minerality, bread dough, lemon, lime chiffon, and vanilla. The attention to detail in the making has paid off in lots of elegant complexity.
First up in the ‘cheap and cheerful’ category we have BRUCE JACK CHENIN BLANC 2022 WO Western Cape, South Africa Vintages # 13356 South Africa’s signature grape showing ripe stone fruit and vanilla from the French oak. Pair with Spicy Thai Noodle Salad.
CHÂTEAU DE NAGES HÉRITAGE BLANC 2020 AC Costières de Nîmes, Rhone, France Vintages #479659 $22.95 This is a step up from the Vieilles Vignes label and is showing crushed citrus, herbs and white flowers on the nose. Medium bodied and textured with bright acidity, this Grenache Blanc dominant blend with 30% Roussanne, 15% Clairette, and some Viognier will go nicely Cornish Hen or roast pork.
TE AWA LEFT FIELD PINOT GRIS 2021 Hawke’s Bay, North Island New Zealand Vintages #630525 $24.95 New Zealand makes one of the best Pinot Gris outside of Alsace so this one looks promising. It is partially fermented on the skins adding complexity. Look for spices, ripe apple, pear, honeysuckle and bright acidity. Enjoy with Pork Chops with Mustard Caper Sauce.
JEAN PABIOT ET FILS DOMAINE DES FINES CAILLOTTES POUILLY-FUMÉ 2021 Loire, France Vintages #695908 $29.95 On the premium end, this Sauvignon Blanc is fermented and aged in steel and spent time on the lees. (So… no oaking here). This gets a 91 from Alison Napjus of winespectator.com. Look for a vibrant wine with harmonious nectarine, melon and lemon. Hints of vanilla and oak lend richness to a round palate with some salty minerality. Enjoy with Greek Tenderloin and Asparagus Gremolata.
GANDARADA 2019 DOC Dão, Portugal Vintages # 25447 $14.95. It is hard to get more accolades than this hearty Portuguese blend has – Best in Show and a 97 from Decanter World Wine Awards, 2021. A ‘wealth’ of fruit with depth and concentration; it will be best enjoyed with food like Brisket with Leeks and Onions. (Bear in mind: Decanter World Wine Awards scores are for wines in similar price category.)
CHÂTEAU LES PINS DE BOSSUET 2015 AC Bordeaux Supérieure, France Vintages #26305 $16.95 Roger Voss of Wine Enthusiast gives this a 90 and describes an ‘opulent’ full-bodied smooth red here with black-plum, toasty oak and weighty, richness. Not bad for $16.95! Enjoy with Red Wine Braised Beef.
DOMAINE DE LA BORIE BLANCHE 2020 Minervois, Languedoc, France Vintages # 28543 $17.95 This Syrah dominant blend with 30% Grenache is fruity with earth and spice tones. Full-bodied and smooth enjoy with Cassoulet or a hearty stew.
KAIKEN SELECCIÓN ESPECIAL CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2020 Vintages # 143248 Mendoza, Argentina $18.95 Kaiken is always good value and the Seleccion Especial bodes for even better value. It gets a 91 from James Suckling who describes notes of blueberries, blackberries, dark cherries, pine cones, lemon leaves and sweet spices. Tannins are fine and powdery.
Both Argentinian Malbecs are good value this month. SALENTEIN RESERVE MALBEC 2020 Valle de Uco, Mendoza Vintages #640854 $19.95 and SUR DE LOS ANDES RESERVA MALBEC 2019 Mendoza Vintages #208322 $19.95 both get 91 from James Suckling. Salentein is full-bodied while Sur de Los Andes is described as medium body – both have plum and chocolate notes and are round, flavourful and approachable.
If you are looking for a ‘Tuscany fix’ you have a couple of good choices, both scored 92 by James Suckling. SAN VINCENTI CHIANTI CLASSICO 2019 Vintages #399907 $19.95 has mulberries, violets and earthy tones with firm, powdery tannins. LA CASTELLINA REALE 2016 Vintages #28418 $22.95 has a beautiful clear currant and cherry character with a hint of spice. Medium-bodied and polished with fine tannins enjoy with Spaghetti or Eggplant Parmigiana.
SHANNON RIDGE HIGH ELEVATION CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2019 Vintages # 16182 Lake County, California $21.95. It gets a 92 from Jim Gordon of Wine Enthusiast who describes it as bold, nicely spicy with black-cherry and blackberry flavors accented by hints of cinnamon, nutmeg and vanilla. Moderate tannins. Enjoy with Black Pepper Beef.
Staying in the Cab category but from Washington, consider POWERS CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2018 Columbia Valley, USA Vintages # 434456 $19.95 This gets a 90 from James Button of decanter.com who describes leafy dark fruit aromas, a grippy palate balanced by good acidity, black and blue fruits and some spice from 20 months spent in oak. Drink now through 2028.
MONTERRA CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2019 McLaren Vale, South Australia Vintages #12835 $19.95 is scoring low 90s around the web. Look for cassis, sweet cherry, subtle tobacco and spicy oak aromas. The palate is concentrated and finely textured with excellent weight. Harmonious, robust and structured according to Sam Kim of orbitz.co.nz.
SISTER’S RUN BETHLEHEM BLOCK CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2019 Gomersal, Barossa South Australia Vintages # 360636 $19.95 is also scoring low 90s. Dave Brookes of winecompanion.com.au gives it a 92 and describes it as ‘ Good-value drinking’ with generous black fruit, licorice, dark chocolate, cedar, oak spice and a blast of choc-mint on the back end. Supple and ripe with superfine tannins.
ZONTE’S FOOTSTEP LOVE SYMBOL GRENACHE 2021 McLaren Vale, South Australia Vintages #668582 $21.95 Grenache lovers will want to know about this one. It won Gold at Melbourne International Wine Competition, 2022 and is getting 90 ish scores among critics. Big with lots of red fruit and delicate tannins, this will be an easy sipper on its own or pair with Winter Tomato Chèvre Tart.
CHRONIC CELLARS PURPLE PARADISE RED BLEND 2020 Vintages # 30801
Paso Robles, California $22.95 This Zinfandel blend gets a 91 from Matt Kettman of Wine Enthusiast, calling it Editor’s Choice. With a reputation for overdelivering, look for elderberry, black plum, scorched earth, crushed rock and tar aromas that carry to the palate. Full-bodied and smooth.
XAVIER VIGNON LIRAC 2019 AP, Rhône, France Vintages # 636183 $24.95 This may well be the best value in the release if you are a fan of Châteauneuf-du-pape (CdP) wines. Lirac is just across the Rhône from Châteauneuf-du-pape and in the hands of Xavier Vignon, who has spent decades consulting to the stars of Rhone winemaking, so this Grenache/Syrah (80/20) blend has to be a hit. Look for a complex marriage of garrigue and licorice with mixed berries and hints of oak. Full-bodied and silky with a delicious finish. Drink now through 2026. Enjoy with Beef Tenderloin.
DELHEIM GRAND RESERVE 2017 WO Stellenbosch, South Africa Vintages # 26094 $31.95 On the premium end this is Delheim’s flagship wine. It scoring 91-95 among critics. Platter’s South African Wine Guide, 2022 gives it a 95 and describes this cab as ‘stellar’ with elegant and ripe tannins, delicious acidity and a touch of vanilla. A Bordeaux style blend that would rival the best Left Bank Bordeaux according to some. Enjoy with Pistachio, Black Olive Crusted Beef Steak.