The LCBO Vintages Release Jan 8 2022 is full of good value options. Spain and France are particularly well represented but there are a few gems from all over.
In fact, there are so many good value reds in this release I am going to sort them in to Cheap and Cheerful (in a good way); Punching Above Their Weight; and Upper Snack Bracket.
If you still have celebrations ahead of you then consider Emile Beyer Extra Brut Blanc de Blancs Crémant d’Alsace VINTAGES#: 16605 $24.95 Alsace, France that gets a 91 from Anne Krebiehl, of Wine Enthusiast. She describes a lemon profile and calls it ‘bright, elegant and bone dry.’ Seafood, chicken and pastries would be in order with this one.
Lubanzi Rosé Bubbles VINTAGES#: 21150 $17.95 Swartland, South Africa – this falls firmly in to the cheap and cheerful category. Prosecco-like with good balance and crispness. 100% Cinsault with cherry and candied strawberry according to the Vintage notes. Think casual brunch, Valentines brunch, summer picnic for this one.
The Fledge & Co Jikken Bareru Experimental Barrels Sauvignon Blanc 2019 VINTAGES#: 21157 $15.95 Western Cape South Africa gets a 91 from Tim Atkins, MW of timatkin.com. A blend of savoury salinity and a bit of floral with good acidity would make this a match for feta cheese dishes, goat cheese or poultry or whitefish.
Compare that to Domaine Bellevue Touraine Sauvignon Blanc 2020 VINTAGES#: 82305 $15.95 Loire, France that won Gold at the Concours des Vins du Val de Loire, 2021. Expect a smooth, easy drinking wine with some green apple and a hint of minerality or wet stones. This will also go with above said feta or goat cheese, poultry or whitefish.
If you are a fan of Pinot Gris then here is a chance to pick up an everyday sipper in Joseph Cattin Pinot Gris 2019 VINTAGES#: 196956 $14.95 Alsace, France. It got Gold in the Concours International de Lyon, 2020. Expect an aromatic wine with hints of spice and smoke, apricot honey and gingerbread according to the Vintages notes.
Villa Maria Wairau Valley Reserve Sauvignon Blanc 2020 VINTAGES#: 536201 $24.95 Marlborough, New Zealand gets a 95 from Sam Kim of wineorbit.co.nz who describes it as powerful and ‘immediately appealing’. Look for ripe nectarine and citrus on the nose with a ‘concentrated palate..flavoursome and mouthfilling’. I expect this wine will command your attention while the 2 Sauvignon Blancs above will have a ‘kinder, gentler’ profile!
Laurent Miquel Nord Sud Viognier 2020 VINTAGES#: 673236 $15.95 Languedoc, France. Expect some peachy stone fruit notes from the stainless steal and some vanilla notes from the oak aging. This would go well with chicken in fruity sauce, shrimp or turkey.
Cheap and Cheerful – in a good way
means a wine that delivers good value for an everyday sipper. It will not be a text book example of complexity but it should not disappoint in casual circumstances.
Piekenierskloof Six Hats Shiraz 2019, WO Swartland, South Africa VINTAGES#: 21193 $13.95 falls in to the cheap ad cheerful category. Vic Harradine calls it exceptional value and gives it a 92, describing berries and cherries on the nose and palate. Balanced with hints of peppery spice and ‘mouth-watering tang’. Enjoy with pizza, pasta, burgers, lamb or charcuterie.
El Angosto La Tribuna 2018 Grenache/Shiraz VINTAGES#: 16867 $13.95 Valencia, Spain is being recognized as good value across the board. Scores range from high 80s to James Suckling’s 92. He describes fresh strawberries, blueberries and violets, firm tannins and refreshing acidity. Think of it as a midweek sipper with burgers or charcuterie.
Cune Crianza 2018 Tempranillo Blend VINTAGES#: 39925 $15.95 Rioja, Spain is often on various annual Top 100 Best Buy lists. James Suckling is giving this Tempranillo a 92 and describes berry, cherry aromas with a bit of orange peel. Fine tannins and a fresh finish. Sounds like a match for pizza, tapas or pasta.
Hacienda López de Haro Crianza 2018 VINTAGES#: 377481 $15.95 Rioja, Spain gets a 92 from Decanter World Wine Awards 2021. Their notes describe ripe red and black fruit with a plush and spicy palate.
Punching Above Their Weight –
are wines that have a bit more complexity to recommend them than the Cheap and Cheerful category and – lucky for us – we are delighting in the fact they we might have happily paid more than the asking in return for the quality.
Domaine Fond Croze Confidence Côtes du Rhône 2019 Grenache/Syrah VINTAGES#: 20951 $11.95 might well be the hit of the release. This Grenache dominant blend is scoring 90 ish consistently around the web. Joe Czerwinski of robertparker.com describes black cherries with hints of dark chocolate and raspberries; mouthwatering acids and silky tannins. There is enough structure he suggests it will drinkable through 2026. All that for 11.95…. Sounds like you could sip it on its own or with finger foods as well as beefy pasta or pizza.
Roger Voss of Wine Enthusiast has identified a Best Buy in Marquis de Bern 2018 VINTAGES#: 21091 $13.95 Merlot/Cabernet Sauvignon, Bordeaux, France and gives it a 91. His notes call it a rich wine with spicy black fruit. It was young with bright acidity when tasted in 2020 but he predicted it will be ripe, concentrated and ready from 2021.
Fortant Grands Terroirs 2018 Syrah/Grenache VINTAGES#: 20713 $15.95 Minervois, France will be a perfect choice for a cold winter night when you are huddled over French Onion Soup, beef stew or hearty pasta with lamb or boar. It is a smoky, big Northern-Rhone style with black plum, licorice and ‘a beautiful long finish’ according to the International Wine & Spirit Competition 2020 notes (who gave it a 97). ‘Delicious and serious’ – enjoy with food.
Folklore Cabernet/Merlot 20187 VINTAGES#: 20879 $17.95 Western Australia, Australia seems to be a solid choice according to John Szabo, MS of winealign.com who gives it a 91. He describes ripe black fruit, minor oak in the background, soft and creamy tannins. He calls it a pure, well made wine- not overly complex but offering a ‘great deal of pleasure.’ If you are a fan of Cab dominant Bordeaux then give this a try and see how Australia does it.
Château La Pirouette 2016 VINTAGES#: 21087 $18.95 Bordeaux, France is getting consistent 90s among critics. I also gave it a 90 when I tasted it in 2019. ‘This Cru Bourgeois is a blend of 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 45% Merlot and 5% Petit Verdot. The nose is enjoyably smoky with subtle dried strawberry notes. The dried fruit carries over to the palate. Hints of cedar emerge as well. Nice balance and structure. Serve with lamb, beef dishes. Very good value. Tasted August 2019. www.thewineloverskitchen.com’
There are 2 Argentinan Malbecs that edge out the others in the value quotient. Viñalba Reserva Malbec/Touriga Nacional 2019 Valle de Uco, Mendoza VINTAGES#: 442459 $19.95 gets a 97 from Decanter World Wine Awards 2020. They describe blackberry, citrus, coffee and mocha notes. Best of all – ‘Refreshing with wonderful purity of fruit, refined tannins and long finish.’
If you can’t find that one look for Finca El Origen Reserva Estate Malbec 2019 VINTAGES#: 65664 $17.00 Mendoza, Argentina. James Suckling gives it a 93 and describes good structure with blueberry and licorice notes with some underlying minerality. Note that it is still firm so drink now with some salami, steak or old cheeses. Or stick in your cellar for a few years to allow it to soften.
Two Australian Shiraz offerings of interest. Vic Harradine of winecurrent.com has identified exceptional value in 3 Rings Shiraz 2018 Barossa Valley, South Australia VINTAGES#: 15495 $17.95. He describes black fruit and mixed spice, a creamy mouthfeel and dark chocolate. Enjoy now or through 2028 with beef or lamb.
Best’s Bin No. 1 Great Western Shiraz 2018, Victoria, Australia Vintages# 222323 $21.95 gets a 95 from James Halliday of winecompanion.com.au. He describes ‘high quality intensity, focus and length’ and calls it a special value with spicy pepper and ‘black forest floor fruit’. Enjoy now through 2038. (Shows how much structure is there if its lifespan is predicted to be >dozen years.)
Bordeaux lovers are in luck this release. There are 2 Merlot dominant offerings that scored highly in the 2020 Decanter World Wine Awards. (See the note below about the scoring criteria for Decanter World Wine Awards versus the Decanter panel scores.) Pick the Bordeaux in the score/price range that appeals to you.
I wouldn’t expect Château La Commanderie du Bardelet 2019 VINTAGES#: 21282 $15.95 Bordeaux, France to be as complex as the Bourdieu below but it got a 93 from Decanter World Wine Awards 2020 who describe a ‘Mouth-filling and opulent palate with ripe black cherry and raspberry’ and ‘a long, appetising finish’. Still god value and a good match for beef, lamb or cassoulet.
Château Bourdieu No. 1 2019 Merlot/Cabernet Sauvignon/Cabernet Franc VINTAGES#: 21095 $22.95 gets a 95 from Decanter World Wine Awards 2020. Their tasting notes reference ‘pure and driving damsun, cherry and plum’ with subtle vanilla oak and a deep, long palate of ripe fruit and fine-grained tannins. Everything seems to be in balance here and pointing toward a lovely pour. Enjoy this with classic short ribs, herbed stews or mature cheeses.
Upper Snack Bracket–
means a wine at the upper end of our target range with some special interest factors.
Olarra Laztana Gran Reserva 2011 Tempranillo Blend 750 VINTAGES#: 22489 $28.95, Rioja Spain. If you are a fan of Rioja you will want to know about this one. It got a 95 score from the Decanter panel. See the note below for details but in a nutshell the 95 is an average of 3 Decanter experts wine reviews basic on typicity for a Rioja Tempranillo. (That means a lot!) Note this is a 2011 Vintage and it is getting rave reviews 10 years in with another 10 good years estimated ahead of it. Descriptors of cherry, strawberry, spice, firm yet creamy tannins, still young energetic and refreshing. Definitely a wine to be enjoyed with food so pick your favourite tapas, steak or charcuterie board and enjoy.
La Vite Lucente 2019 VINTAGES#: 747030 $34.95 Tuscany, Italy. If you are looking for a feature wine or a gift wine consider La Vite Lucente. Each vintage typically scores 90-93 ish and 2019 was a good vintage. Its claim to fame? It is the second wine of Luce della Vite house in Montalcino, Tuscany, after the famed SuperTuscan Luce; a Sangiovese/ Merlot blend that runs anywhere from $200 -$1,000 at the LCBO. La Vite Lucente is typically Merlot/Sangiovese with a dash of Cabernet Sauvignon and a little less oak treatment than its big brother. You can get an introduction to the winemaking finesse and terroir without breaking the bank with La Vite Lucente 2019. According to the Vintages notes expect a powerful wine, yet silky and bright with dark cherry, plum, mocha and spice. Will evolve 10+ years.
Decanter Wine Score Notes
A note about the Decanter World Wine Awards – in Awards ratings they rate the wines based on varietal, regional and price range. This is different from a straight Decanter rating where the rating is based on an average of 3 expert tasters who are assessing the wine for typicity ie true to its region. Price is not known or taken into account.
Both ratings are of value if you understand what you are looking at. A Decanter World Wine Award rating will tell you that wine’s standing among its peers within its price range. A straight Decanter rating will tell you the wines standing as compared to its varietal or recognized blend in its own region.
Therefore consider the difference in impact of Bordeaux ratings above from the Decanter World Wine Awards and the Olarra Laztana Gran Reserva 2011 from the Decanter panel.