The March 18 2023 LCBO Vintages Release is offering Flat Rock's Nadja's Vineyard Riesling 2019, one of only 4 Canadian wines to ever win Best in Show from Decanter World Wine Awards.
I am going to go right to the premium jackpot in the white wine section - Flat Rock Nadja's Vineyard Riesling 2019 Twenty Mile Bench, Niagara Escarpment, Ontario, Canada $36.95 VINTAGES#: 578625 scored 97 and Best in Show at Decanter World Wine Awards, 2022. That means that it was one of only 50 'Best in Show' awards out of 18,000+ wines submitted to the competition from 56 countries that year. And now you have the chance to experience one of the world's best Rieslings right here in your own back yard! I was anxious about quantities available because when I was trying to source it last fall it showed as Sold Out on Flat Rock's website. Flat Rock has confirmed 50 cases were reserved for the LCBO - so shop early! To quote Decanter ' The scents trace out citrus and cologne in pithy, zesty style, while the wine is no less zesty and pithy in the mouth: crunchy apple and juicy clementine with a twist of lemon peel. Crisp natural acidity, balanced and fruit-resonant, leaves the mouth tingling after every sip.' (S-21g/L) (Vintages notes suggest sugar is offset by good acidity and it is perceived as a dry wine.)
Marynissen Heritage Collection Charmed Sparkling 2020 VQA Ontario $19.95 VINTAGES#: 25233 This gets a 93 from Vic Harradine of winecurrent.com who calls it 'Exceptional Value! ' A blend of Riesling, Gewurztraminer, and Muscat made in the Charmat method, it will be aromatic, light and fruity. Off-dry, look for tropical fruit, lime and some minerality. Zesty, spicy and refreshing this would be a crowd pleasing choice for Easter Brunch or ham. (S-19 g/L)
Bailly-Lapierre Chardonnay Brut Crémant de Bourgogne Burgundy, France $28.95 VINTAGES#: 369066 By contrast to the above, this is traditional method, with lots of apple, lemon and minerality. Acidity is nicely balanced. Enjoy with seafood or Ham and Asparagus Crepes.
On the premium end, but recognized to be great value for the money - BC's own Blue Mountain Gold Label Brut Sparkling $34.95 VINTAGES#: 206326 gets a 93 from David Lawrason of winealign.com. He describes a generous nose of dried cherry along with apple, toasty bread notes. Medium bodied with intense mousse, great acidity and minerality. Plan to pair this with pastry appetizers like Balsamic Pear Tartlets or Australian Sausage Rolls.
In case you can't get the Nadja's Vineyard Riesling you can try Flat Rock Riesling $19.95 VINTAGES#: 43281. Flat Rock obviously are experts in Riesling and this one is also recognized as 'amazing value'. Vintages notes describe 'gorgeous mineral, peach, apple, lime citrus and superb vibrancy and zest. Intense, complex and an amazing value...' Off dry- try it with Holiday Ham with Brown Sugar Pineapple Glaze. (S-19g/L)
Zuccardi Serie A Torrontés 2022 Argentina $17.95 VINTAGES#: 389262 gets a 92 from Luis Gutiérrez of robertparker.com. This one seems to be leaning toward the citrus, herbal profile moreso than the floral (which I find can be overwhelming in this varietal). He calls it 'fresh and vibrant with depth of flavors and very nice precision'.
Two New Zealand Sauvignon Blancs of note this release. Giesen Uncharted Sauvignon Blanc 2021 Marlborough, $22.95 VINTAGES#: 26132 gets a 94 from Bob Campbell, MW of therealreview.com. Look for classic 'passionfruit, lime, gooseberry and lemongrass flavours supported by lovely fruity acidity'. (S-4 g/L)
Tiki Single Vineyard North Canterbury Sauvignon Blanc 2021 North Canterbury, $22.95 VINTAGES#: 19767 gets a 94 from Sam Kim of wineorbit.co.nz. Nose and palate show passionfruit, fig, lime peel with terrific fruit power and a persistent, impressive finish. (S-6 g/L)
As always, Portugal has a good value offering in Alice Vieira de Sousa Reserve Red 2020 Douro, Portugal $18.95 VINTAGES#: 548560 . It is being well received among critics. Look for generous dark fruit, vanilla and spice. Probably enjoyed best with food like charcuterie or roast.
There are a couple of good value Malbecs from Argentina. Alta-Yarí Reserva Malbec 2020 Valle de Uco, Mendoza, $20.95 VINTAGES#: 28086 gets 94 from Patricio Tapia of guiadescorchados.cl. Full-bodied and smooth, he describes 'a very floral malbec that is also generous in tart black fruits, a red with tremendous acidity and tannic tension'.
Consider also Benegas Estate Single Vineyard Malbec 2018 $25.95 VINTAGES#: 547331 that Decanter Panel scored 95. That means that at lease 3 of their experts reviewed the wine and agreed on the score. Look for cassis and mulberry, minerality with mountain herbs on the palate. Fesh and balanced with lots of energy and tension. Drink now -2031.
Enjoy either with Dutch Oven Brisket or Short Ribs.
Two good value Bordeaux this release - Château de Ribebon 2019 Bordeaux Superieur, France $17.95 VINTAGES#: 12281 gets a 91 and Editor's Choice from Roger Voss ofWine Enthusiast. Look for a well balanced, medium-bodied, fruity wine with tannins and spice and chocolate on the finish.
Château Hauchat 2019 Fronsac, France $19.95 VINTAGES#: 123489 is back. It gets a 90 from Sara d'Amato of winealign.com who describes it as fresh with generous, ripe, red and black fruit. Well integrated oak and good length round out the picture. Enjoy with Classic French Short Ribs.
Pesquié Édition 1912m Ventoux 2020 Rhone, France $19.95 VINTAGES#: 636159 gets high praise and 91 from jebdunnuck.com. A Grenache dominant blend with strawberry and cherry, peppery spice and licorice...'and just a beautiful wine'. Enjoy with Strawberry Balsamic Crostini.
This release is featuring Pinot Noir from around the world, although Burgundy is noticeably missing and most in the offering are getting mediocre reviews. I would put my money on Jackson Estate Vintage Widow Pinot Noir 2018 Marlborough, $29.95 VINTAGES#: 696294. It gets 95 from camdouglasms.com who has high praise for its layers of aromas from red berries and red roses to herbs and barrel spices. The palate is complex and elegant with some flowers and earthy notes, cherry, barrel spice, cloves and vanilla. Polished tannins complete the picture. Still young and taut, save it for late 2023. Enjoy with rack of lamb.
La Vite Lucente 2020 Tuscany, Italy $36.95 VINTAGES#: 747030. This is the little brother to the iconoclastic Super Tuscan Luce brand which easily runs well into the 3 digits. Here is a chance to experience the winemaker's finesse and similar terroir without breaking the bank. This is a robust Merlot/Sangiovese blend..'bursting with blue and black fruits, blueberries, blackberries, and macerated black cherries mixed with toasted vanilla and fresh tobacco. The palate reveals a savory note of tomato leaf, porcini mushroom, and fresh-cut cedar to match the full fruit. Smooth tannins and an elegant texture, with cassis and licorice crescendoing on the finish. ' This according to Wine Access. Enjoy with Braciole or steak.
PS. Super Tuscans are wines that use grapes or blend percentages that do not meet the DOC criteria so they have to be label IGT. This does not mean they are lesser quality so the Super Tuscan evolved to give them distinction. If you want to try a Super Tuscan for less check out Podere Montale Super Toscano 2016 $19.95 VINTAGES#: 28447 getting high 80s to low 90 scores.