The March 19 2022 LCBO Vintages Release is a chance to stock up on Sparkling and some notable values in red wines.
One of the Features this release is the 18 'special' Online Exclusive wines. I haven't quite figured out the focus of the on-line exclusives (2 of them in fact are available in stores this release.) The high $20 range seems to be the starting pricepoint with quite a few north of that. Some ratings (but few); no descriptions - so you will have to do your homework on line to round out the picture. Name/Brand recognition is not even obvious to me at this point. My gut says it is a way to introduce more variety to the consumer with the least amout of cost/effort. So - jury is out on value to us wine lovers. Nothing in the 18 that I would recommend at this time.
Port lovers are in luck this release. Fonseca Late Bottled Vintage Port 2015 VINTAGES#: 87551 $23.95 Douro, Portugal (Unfiltered). Michael Godel of winealign.com gives this a 92 score. Wine Align wine writers are very discerning in their scoring so when they post a 90+ I sit up and listen! Michael calls it 'fruity beyond belief', fresh and from a 'banner vintage'. Unfiltered means it will continue to evolve in the bottle. You can drink it now or enjoy through 2030. IMHO- Port is the best bang for your buck out there so I will be stocking up on this one.
Here area your Sparklings for Easter brunch. The Charmat method means the wine is carbonated in stainless steel tanks vs. the more labour intensive traditional method using double fermentation, bottle aging, degorgment, dosage etc. That means it keeps it cheap and cheerful for us in a good way! Choose from :
Undurraga Royal Brut Sparkling Rosé VINTAGES#: 10580 $14.95 Leyda Valley, Chile gets a 95 from Decanter World Wine Awards. 100% Pinot Noir- They describe the palate as fruity, juicy and elegant with refreshing acidity and a long cherry finish. Expressive, joyful and cultured. Not bad for $14.95!!
Alvi's Drift Brut Blanc de Blanc 2020 VINTAGES#: 21163 $16.95 South Africa- 100% Chardonnay. Expect it to be fresh, fruity and zesty.
For a slightly weightier choice check out Valldosera Brut Nature Cava VINTAGES#: 311738 $19.95. It is traditional method so has more complexity. David Lawrason of winealign.com give it a respectable 89 and calls it a good, well balanced, crisp traditional method Sparking. Expect dried apple, almonds and hay on the nose and the palate and 'very good to excellent length'.
Invivo Graham Norton's Own Sauvignon Blanc 2021 VINTAGES#: 560284 $19.95 Marlborough, New Zealand is getting consistent good reviews. Sam Kim of wineorbitz.com.nz gives it a 94 and describes passionfruit and lime peel aromas with a pristine fruit intensity on the palate. Bright acidity and a impressive finish round out the enjoyment.
Pazo das Bruxas Albariño 2019 VINTAGES#: 417667 $21.95 gets a 95 from Decanter World Wine Awards and low 90s around the web. Many remark it is not the typical light and lively Albarinno- expect more intensity and exceptional concentration of lemon, lime and mouthwatering acidity. This would make a wonderful summer sipper with shrimp, calamari or creamy pasta.
Susana Balbo Signature Barrel Fermented Torrontés 2020 VINTAGES#: 384339 $21.95 Mendoza, Argentina gets a 94 from Patricio Tapia of quiadescorchados.cl. I will fess up that I am not a fan of the floral, light, crisp Torrontés. Susana Balbo's technique including barrel aging results in a weightier, spicy, herbal white fruit profile. Emphasis on herbal and acidic this my appeal to Sauvignon Blanc aficionados with an interesting twist. Enjoy with oysters, calamari or grilled white fish.
If you are a fan of the floral Torrontés then check out Zuccardi Serie A Torrontés 2020 VINTAGES#: 389262 $17.95 Salta, Argentina that gets a 91 from Luis Gutiérrez of robertparker.com. He describes it as citrus and floral with a dry fresh finish.
Portugal wins the Best Value award in reds again this release. Roger Voss of Wine Enthusiast gives Casa de Cambres Reserva Red 2016 VINTAGES#: 470377 $14.95 Douro, Portugal a 90 and describes it as rich and textured; generous black fruit and firm tannins. So another food match alhtough tannin may have softened since the tasting notes were written in 2020. This ranked #20 on Wine Enthusiast's Top 100 Best Buys of 2020.
Check out this Spansh Rioa for $16.95 that gets a 91 from Thomas Matthews of winespectator.com. He describes Valdelacierva Crianza 2016 VINTAGES#: 438713 $16.95 Rioja, Spain full-bodied and frim with ripe black cherry, boysenbery, licorice and some minerality. Bold, modern, juicy. Sound like a big wine so enjoy with charcuterie or Spanish tapas now through 2030. Click here if you want to host a Rioja tasting with recipes for lots of delicious Spanish tapas.
Another promising Spanish choice. Campo Arriba Old Vines Monastrell/Syrah/Tintorera 2018 a Monastrell (Mourvèdre)/Syrah/Garnacha VINTAGES#: 511519 $17.95, Yecla, Spain. James Sucking gives it a 91 and describes attractive dark berry and dried-flower character with cedar and walnut. Medium to full-bodied with firm tannins and plenty of fruit - so plan to enjoy with some protein -like meat or cheeses to soften the tannins. Drink now through 2024. (See link above for Rioja tasting and Spanish Tapas ideas).
Château Le Cap 2018 VINTAGES#: 11838 $16.95 AC Blaye Cotes de Bordeaux get a 91 from Roger Voss of Wine Enthusiast. A Merlot dominant blend he describes as opulent with ripe black fruits and still solid tannins that need to soften. Plan to cellar for a year or so or decant for an hour or so. Tame those tannins and serve it with Sirloin Top Roast With Bordelaise Sauce.
Huentala Sombrero Malbec 2019 VINTAGES#: 17449 $16.95 Uco Valley Mendoza, Argentina. Can you ever go wrong with Uco Valley? This litte gem is scoring consistently low 90s around the web. James Suckling gives it 93 and describes it as having drive and seriousness with blue fruit, red licorice and walntu aromas leading up to an flavorful finish. Medium bodied and fruity would be a party sipper or go with burgers and pizza.
Cecchi Storia di Famiglia Chianti Classico 2019 VINTAGES#: 540922 $17.95 Tuscany, Italy gets a 93 from James Suckling and is earning its good value designation around the web. Expect cherry, chocolate with some leather/tobacco notes. Medium bodied- enjoy with Eggplant Parmigiana.
Remo Farina Ripasso Valpolicella Classico Superiore 2019 VINTAGES#: 999946 $18.95 Veneto, Italy is scoring consistently well aroud the web. Natalie Maclean of nataliemaclean.com gives it a 91 and describes it as rich, juicy and smooth. Notes indicate dark cherry, sweet dried tobacoo leaf, pepper and baking spices. Seve with Duck Ragù or Meatloaf with Italian Sausage.
Mitolo Jester Cabernet Sauvignon 2016 VINTAGES#: 43224 $19.95 South Australia, Australia is getting low 90s around the web. Joe Czerwnski of robertparker.com says it is terrific value with fresh, leafy notes over cassis and cherry with soft dusty tannins on the finish. Enjoy with Spicy Black Pepper Beef.
Barossa Valley is always reliable when it comes to Shiraz. Check out Barossa Valley Estate Shiraz 2019 VINTAGES#: 402701 $19.95 South Australia, Australia has pepper, spice and red licorice according ot International Wine Challenge Notes, 2021 who gave it a 90. Rich, concentrated and nicely crafted. Sounds like a party sipper or match for Slow Cooker Hoisin Bourbon Ribs.
Vina Montgras is a large respected, Chilean producer and Leyda Valley is one of the better and reliable locations. So Montgras Amaral Syrah 20197 VINTAGES#: 21958 $19.95 Leyda Valley, Chile hs 2 things going for it. Patricio Tapia of guaidescorchados.cl gibes it a 93 and describers it as a classic cold-climate Syrah with crunchy red fruit and bacon-like notes. Round, acid and juicy. So enjoy this racy Syrah with Ottolenghi Mushroom Ragu Lasagne or Steak with Peppercorn Sauce.
On the premium end, you will want to know about Xavier Arcane XV Le Diable 2015 VINTAGES#: 526301 $29.95 France. Reknown wine consultant and winemaker with impeccable attention to detail; Xavier always delivers quality and this one is outstanding. Jeb Dunnock of robertparker.com gives it a 94 and describes detailed attention to winemaking technique, resulting in dark bruit, peppery herbs and spice in a full-bodied layerd pur. He calls this almost 100% Mouredre a 'beauty' with 'awesome purity, integrated acidity and plently of structure. Will drink beautifully now thourgh 2026 and beyond. Aficionados may want to cellar a couple.