The June 18 2022 LCBO Vintages Release star values are in the Sauvignon Blancs but there is also a nice selection of Sparklings and Ontario wines.
An interesting development in this age of ‘inflation’ and ‘shrinkflation’. Ontario wine prices are coming in line. If you choose wisely, I will wager you can get a better wine from Ontario for the same money as you can from a US wine….
Three interesting Sparklings this release that run the gamut from cheap and cheerful to premium. There is one for every occasion from brunch to lunch, afternoon sipping or gift giving.
Arts de Luna Organic Brut Nature Sparkling DOP Cava, Spain 12.95 VINTAGES#: 25073 gets a 92 from Guía de Vinos y Aceites de España. Reviews all mention it is fresh with green apple, grapefruit and some smoky, flinty notes. Creamy with well integrated bubbles and good length.
In the middle is Kim Crawford Extra Dry Prosecco DOC Italy, $22.95 VINTAGES#: 25374, scoring consistently in the 90 point range. Kim Crawford’s first Prosecco from Northern Italy is true to form. Look for pear, tropical fruit, a fruity mousse and a clean dry finish. Perfect for seafood lunch such as Creamy Shrimp Tarte or afternoon sipping on its own.
On the premium end Chandon Brut Sparkling Rosé, California, $34.95 VINTAGES#: 405555 ranked #70 on Wine Spectator Top 100 Smart Buys 2021. If you are looking for a gift to impress – look no further! Vintage notes describe it as ‘vibrant and generous, with layered strawberry, fresh ginger, sice flavors that build toward the snappy finish.’ Enjoy now with salmon, or Strawberry Balsamic Crostini.
Cabriz Rosé 2020 Portugal $13.95 Vintages # 30445 is in the cheap and cheerful category that will be an easy sipper if you are looking hints of strawberry and apple. Enjoy on its own or with salmon or Spicy Strawberry Salad.
Lost Poet Rosé 2021 California, USA $19.95 Vintages #25117 is being well received among critics. Dry, with strawberry, citrus and floral rose notes it will pair well with Rolled Cream Cheese Tea Sandwiches, light appetizers or quiches.
Hidden Bench Locust Lane Rosé 2021 $24.95 Vintages # 68833 Niagara Peninsula. Locut Lane Rosé scores in the low 90s year after year. David Lawrason of winealign.com gives this year a 92. Look for tart red berries, with some grapefruit notes and lots of stony minerality. Length is outstanding. Critics are calling this a ‘stellar vintage’. Enjoy with Cucumber Gazpacho with Shrimp Relish and Paprika Syrup.
Santa Margherita Stilrose 2021 Lombardy, Italy $24.95 Vintages # 659565 gets a 90 score from Natalie Maclean who describes it as medium-bodied, dry with fresh red berries and hints of citrus and almonds. Enjoy with calamari or Margherita pizza.
Rabl Löss Grüner Veltliner 2020 $16.95 Vintages # 295709. Gruner Veltliner is gaining in popularity in North America for its dry, crisp, slightly spicy profile. This one got a 92 from Natalie Maclean. She calls it ‘dry and vibrant on the palate with bright lemon-lime zest, white-fleshed stone fruit and white pepper flavours.’
There are 2 Sauvignon Blancs running neck and neck for the best value award. Thornbury is classic NZ Marborough while Skuttlebutt from Margaret River, Australia has a fruitier profile.
Thornbury Sauvignon Blanc 2021 $18.95 Vintages # 734798. Critics are raving about this one! ‘This 2021 vintage is probably one of the best value SauvyB’s you’ll find anywhere. Trophy winner for Champion Sauvignon Blanc at the NZ Int’l Wine Show 2021 is an absolutely outrageous gong for a wine at this price! And the judges were clearly blown away too. “Sauvignon Blanc drinkers rejoice, this is a terrific example of high-quality Marlborough wine at an unbelievable price. Taste the passionfruit & limes, its crisp dry & ready to go. The judges could not fault it.”
Skuttlebutt Sauvignon Blanc/Semillon 2020 $18.95 Vintages # 47621 gets 94 from James Halliday of winecompanion.com. He describes a blend of kaffir lime, white peah and passionfruit balanced by with crisp acidity. Enjoy with Asparagus Soup with Parmesan Custard, calamari or green salad.
Ontario has three offerings of particular interest this release.
Cave Spring Estate Gewürztraminer 2019 $19.95 VINTAGES#: 302059 gets a 91 from John Szabo of winealign.com. He describes it as aromatic and intense with an ‘almost opulent palate’. Fans of Gewurzt will appreciate the intensity of this one with a ‘long, long finish’. Enjoy with Thai or take a page from the Alsatians and enjoy with Spring Herb Quiche or seafood.
Le Clos Jordanne Jordan Village Chardonnay 2019 $24.95 Vintages #: 20455 gets a 92 from Christopher Waters of theglobeandmail.com. He describes it as ‘vibrant and intense’ with pear and candied lemon flavours. Drink now but it will evolve for the next couple of years. Enjoy now through 2027 with roast chicken. Or think ahead to Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners…
Hidden Bench Estate Riesling $24.95 Vintages #: 183491 gets a 91 from David Lawrason of winealign.com. He describes it as a ‘solid Riesling’ barely off-dry and balanced by good acidity. Ripe pear, pinapple, spice some herbal undertones, lemon and a touch of petrol – you can’t ask for much more, if anything, in a Riesling! He goes so far as to suggest Hidden Bench is producing Canada’s best Riesling but perhaps the best outside of Europe…. That is saying a lot!
In the cheap and cheerful category there are a few refreshing white wines on offer. They won’t blow you away with complexity but they will be an enjoyable, quaffable pour. Ratings fluctuate from 88-90 and are probably driven by how much you are a fan of the style or varietal.
Muralhas de Monção Vinho Verde 2021 Portugal, $15.95 Vintages # 80374- always zesty with a bit of refreshing spitz. This has peach apricot and lemon notes.
Hermanos Lurton Verdejo 2020 Rueda, Spain $16.95 Vintages # 405571 scores high 80s to 90. Look for nectarine, peaches with good acidity and a hint of spice.
Corbières is always a good bet for good value. Château de Vaugelas Le Prieuré Corbières 2019 Languedoc, France $15.95 Vintages # 154617 is 40/35/25 Syrah/Grenache/Carignan & Mourvèdre blend that promises to be a fruity, easy pour. Medium bodied with soft tannins this will have wide appeal for casual burgers, BBQ sausage or Bar-B-Barn Copy Cat Ribs.
Rucahue Family Reserva Red Blend 2018 Valle del Itata, Chile $16.95 Vintages # 24763. Decanter World Wine Awards gave it a 95 (meaning it is an excellent wine for the price). 70% Cab Sauv and 30% Cab Franc- it is fresh, fruity with some vanilla/oak. Structured tannins and racy (high acidity). Plan to enjoy with Pan con Tomate or something off the grill.
Mountadam Vineyards Five-Fifty Cabernet Sauvignon 2019 Barossa, Australia $17.95 Vintages # 18006 is getting high 80s to low 90s scores but all agree it is good value. Look for black currant along with signature cedar and spice with vanilla oak. A lengthy delectable finish according to Sam Kim.
Dandelion Vineyards Lioness of McLaren Vale Shiraz 2019 McLaren Vale Australia $21.95 Vintages # 357475. Dandelion Vineyard wines always score consistently well among critics. Sam Kim gives this one a 95 and calls it ‘superbly rich and sumptuous’ with black/blueberry, vanilla oak and warm spice. ‘Graceful and velvety’. Drink now through 2034. Enjoy with Peppercorn Steak.
Campos Reales Edición Especial Tempranillo 2018La Mancha, Spain $19.95 Vintages # 25555 is getting good reviews all around. James Suckling gives it a 93 and describes deep blue fruit with violet, gravel, cedar and wood. Smooth and silky. Enjoy with Spanish Pimentón Pork.
There are 2 Malbecs from Valle de Uco, Mendoza, Argentina worth considering:
Kaiken Ultra Malbec 2019 $19.95 Vintages # 50849. Kaiken Ultra is always good value and an excellent choice. James Suckling gives this a 94 and describes blueberries, violets, chocolate with some spice and minerality. ‘So gorgeous’. Enoy with ribs or anything off the BBQ!
BenMarco Malbec 2019 $19.95 Vintages # 657601 gets a 94 from Patricio Tapia of guiadescorchados. Look for lots of fruit and floral notes with spicy touches. Firm tannins with lots of freshness and tension. Plan to enjoy with food – brisket, ribs, steak.
Bieler Born to Run Cabernet Sauvignon 2018 USA $21.95 Vintages #: 137034 gets a 90 from Fiona Adams of Wine Enthusiast and it ranks #27 on Wine Enthusiast’s Top 100 Best Buys of 2021. Look for ripe plum, blueberry and cassis with some tobacco an spice. Tannins are grippy and finish is ‘plummy’. Enjoy with steak or ribs.
Château Castegens 2016 Bordeaux, France $17.00 Vintages # 25838 gets a 93 from Roger Voss of Wine Enthusiast. He calls it a solid, concentrated wine, ready to drink from 2023. Merlot dominant blend , look for rich black fruit, good tannic structure and good acidity. Enjoy with Red Wine Braised Beef .