The Sept 9 2023 LCBO Vintages Release a little something for everyone.
There are a number of premium wines included in this release and several grape varieties are represented with a number of choices. It makes for a good opportunity for tastings to explore different styles and regions.
This release has a lot of Burgundian Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Champagnes, among other premium selections that don't fit in my target $40 cap. As I say every year the release from now to the New Year tend to showcase more and more premum wines. All good for the well heeled among us but I am a bit worried that our selection of good value wines may be suffer as a consequence.
All that to say start planning for the Fall and the holidays now!
HENRY OF PELHAM SPECIAL SELECT LATE HARVEST VIDAL 2019 Ontario, Canada Vintages #395228 $19.95 375mL This is a 'poor man's' Ice Wine.... If you are a fan of Ice Wine or a sweet wine you will want to know about this one! Vic Harradine, of winecurrent.com gives this a 93 and describes honey and caramel aromas while the palate is 'pure ambrosia'! Look for honey, apricot, peaches with counterbalancing lemon on the palate and aftertaste. If you think you might serve a sweet wine with your Thanksgiving apple pie this is for you! Alternatively, serve it with a charcuterie board of blue cheese, almonds, and dried apricots. (S - 141 g/L)
KEW VINEYARDS CHARDONNAY CUVÉE SPARKLING 2016 Traditional method, VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario Vintages #28978 $23.95 Ontario's Kew specializes in Sparkling wines and this one is a winner. Michael Vaughan of vintageassessments.com gives this a 90 and describes a spicy nose with lemon/apple, toasty notes and citrus that carry over to the palate. Dry medium-bodied and well structured with a effervescence through to the finish. This is a Best Buy and will serve you well with your Thanksgiving turkey, Apple Cheddar Tarts or any celebratory moment.D - 7 g/L)
GRAHAM BECK MÉTHODE CAP CLASSIQUE BRUT PINOT NOIR/CHARDONNAY ROSÉ SPARKLING Western Cape, South Africao Vintages# 175588 $24.95 Score - 91 timatkin.com. The title says it all folks! Pinot/Chardonnay blend. Graham Beck is tried and true and always good value. Tim Atkin says to look for strawberry and red currant fruit, fine lees and a fresh, well-balanced finish. (XD - 7 g/L)
HECHT & BANNIER CÔTES DE PROVENCE ROSÉ 2022 Provence, France Vintages #410035 $25.95 A classic Provençal - dry, herbal, with mouth-watering acidity and hints of fruit. This will stand up to a meal of poultry or calamari or serve with soft cheese. (XD - 3 g/L)
HÃHÃ SAUVIGNON BLANC 2022 Marlborough, South Island NZ Vintages #388363 $18.95 This classic NZ Sauvignon Blanc gets a 93 from Sam Kim wineorbit.co.nz who describes it as 'fabulously fragrant' with crunchy apple, nectarine and lemon peel
aromas. A vibrant, fruity palate offers up a very pleasurable pour. Pair with Dijon and Tarragon Grilled Chicken. (XD - 3 g/L)
Here is a chance to compare Ontario Riesling style with German Rieslings.
VINELAND ESTATES ELEVATION ST. URBAN VINEYARD RIESLING Niagara Escarpment, On Canada Vintages#38117 $22.95 The Elevation line of Vineland's Riesling is always a good bet year after year. If you are a fan of off-dry Ontario Riesling this low alcohol (8.4%ABV) shows bright citrus and herbal minerality. Enjoy with Vermouth Seared Scallops on Fennel. (M - 36 g/L)
An LCBO buyer must have been to Germany lately. There are a number of German Rieslings in this release so you can pick your level of sweetness. DR. LOOSEN BLUE SLATE RIESLING KABINETT 2021 #160846 $26.95 is a classic example of a medium sweet (MS - 43 g/L) Reisling. Look for citrus, peach balanced with some acidity. A great choice for curry or Thai cuisine. (MS - 43 g/L)
PAULY GENERATIONS RIESLING 2021 #21033 $25.95 It is off-dry, balanced and fresh with flinty minerality underlying pear and citrus notes. Enjoy with Roasted Pear and Pecan Salad with Blue Cheese Dressing. (M - 19 g/L)
RINGS RIESLING 2021 #33734 $28.95 is Alsation style, dry bright and refreshing with apple, pear and citrus notes. Enjoy with Ginger Crusted Roast Pork with Maple Mustard Sauce . (XD - 0 g/L)
STADT KREMS RIED WEINZIERLBERG 1ÖTW GRÜNER VETLINER 2021 DAC Kremstal, Austria Vintages # 33783 $28.95 1ÖTW signifies a 1st growth vineyard. The designation is only used in lower Austria so its absence is not a negative but when you see it- it is a sign of quality. We don't see 1ÖTW in the LCBO often so Gruner Vetliner fans will want to check this one out. Stuart Pigott of jamessuckling.com gives this a 96 and describes an intense nose of peach, chamomile and dried flowers. The palate has 'Magnificent richness and refinement' and a 'long and very graceful finish'. Enjoy this with -what else? Oktoberfest Schnitzel . (XD - 0 g/L)
JEAN-MAX ROGER CUVÉE LES CAILLOTTES SANCERRE 2021 Vintages #65573 $36.95 This scores consistently low 90s year after year. Roger Voss of Wine Enthusiast gives this vintage a 90 and describes it as ripe and concentrated from aging on the lees. It has bright acidity 'with citrus flavors and white fruits in harmony'. (XD - 2 g/L) 750mL
The cheap and cheerful selection this release is:
ASCHERI BARBERA 2021 Langhe, Piedmont, Italy Vintages #219790 $16.95 This is being widely well received with scores high 80s to low 90s. Looking for a spaghetti wine? Vintage notes call it a 'classy, intense, long wine, with rich black fruit, plum, earth and spice.'
(XD - 4 g/L)
CHATEAU ST. JEAN CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2020 California USA Vintages # 38034 $17.00. Good news! This is scoring in the 90/91 range among several critics! Full bodied, concentrated and silky smooth. Look for cassis and blackberry flavours, excellent balance and structure. Enjoy with Balsamic Marinated Sirloin Steak. (XD - 3 g/L)
CHÂTEAU LES TOURELLES 2019 Cadillac Côtes de Bordeaux, France Vintages #426247 $17.00 Roger Voss of Wine Enthusiast gives this a 90 and describes it as a rich Merlot with soft tannins and juicy acidity. (XD - 2 g/L)
There are several Malbecs on offer this release. Here are my top 3 choices:
LA POSTA PIZZELLA FAMILY MALBEC 2021 Mendoza, Argentina Vintages #166298 $17.95 Critics are raving about the value this Malbec represents. James Suckling gives it a 93 and describes blueberries and cherries with some nutty aromas. Medium bodied with firm tannins, it has tension and focus. 'Excellent price'. Enjoy with Ottolenghi Lasagne With Mushroom Ragu. (XD - 3 g/L)
CAMELEON MALBEC 2021 Mendoza, Argentina Vintages #24875 $18.95 All reviews agree you should try this one... it is easy to love! It is dense, intense with mulberry, liquorice and plums. Delightful and age-worthy. Score - 95 (International Wine Challenge, 2022) Enjoy with Beer Can Stuffed Burgers. (XD - 2 g/L)
If those aren't available consider LUZ DE NOCHE 2021 Vintages # 32138 $19.95 also scoring low 90s.
ZENATO ALANERA 2019 Veneto, Italy Vintages#451724 $18.95 This is made with 50% dried grapes (Amarone style) and 50% fresh fruit. Look for lush black plum with a long finish of spiced plums and herbs. 'Vibrant and intense in equal portions' according to Jeff Porter, Wine Enthusiast who scored it a 91. [Drink till 2028+.] Enjoy with Braciole. (D - 10 g/L)
MURIEL RESERVA 2017 Rioja, Spain Vintages #276030 $19.95 This is getting low 90 scores from various respected sources. Great value here.... Mike DeSimone of Wine Enthusiast gives it a 92 and describes aromas of dark plums and forest floor. The palate is dense with notes of eucalyptus and clove above black currant, blackberry, cacao and tobacco leaf. This is going to be a big wine best enjoyed with food like charcuterie or Slow Cooker Savoury Beef Pot Roast. [ Drink now - early 2030s.] (XD - 2 g/L)
Cab Franc - the new darling of the red wine world! Here are 2 good bets so pick your price point.
CAVE SPRING ESTATE GROWN CABERNET FRANC 2021 Beamsville Bench, Niagara Escarpment On, Canada Vintages # 523001 $20.95 The 2020 vintage of this was recognized as a complex, plush, layered wine and great value. According to Vintages notes the 2021 is showing 'notable structure and depth while staying plush and accessible' . Look for ripe plum, cassis, savoury herbs and a hit of mint. Enjoy with Montreal Spice Marinated Lamb Chops . (XD - 2 g/L)
If you are Cab Franc fan then you will want to know about this premium one! This Alta-Yari scores mid 90s consistently year after year. ALTA-YARÍ GRAN CORTE 2020 Gualtallary, Valle de Uco, Mendoza, Argentina Vintages # 24894 $32.95 is a ' stunning assemblage of Cabernet Franc with 35% Malbec and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon' according to Tim Atkins of timatkins.com. He gives it a 96 and says it is fresh and balanced with thyme, wet stones, tangy red plum and black cherry. Drink now through 2030. Enjoy with Ribs With Spicy Blackberry Sauce . (XD - 2 g/L)
LE CLOS JORDANNE JORDAN VILLAGE PINOT NOIR 2020 Niagara Peninsula, On, Canada Vintages #33894 $29.95 This is scoring consistently in low 90s among critics. Rick VanSickle of winesinniagara.com gives it a 92 and describes an earthy nose with red currants and delicate spice. The palate is rich and generous showing dark cherries and other dark fruits. Tannins are silky and the finish is long. Can't ask for much more than that in a wine! Enjoy with Crispy Duck with Cherry Port Sauce. (XD - 3 g/L)
CLOUDLINE PINOT NOIR 2021 Willamette Valley, Oregon USA Vintages #159970 $29.95 This is consistently scoring low 90s. Erin Brooks of robertparker.com gives it a 91 and describes cranberries and dark fruits on the nose with some welcome mushroom, lavender hints as well. Light-bodied and soft it has generous fruit and a long floral finish. All agree it is 'easy to drink'! (XD - 2 g/L)
There are 6 Australian Shiraz in this release and all are good bets and good value. My top 2 picks for price/value ratio are:
SISTER'S RUN EPIPHANY SHIRAZ 2020 McLaren Vale, South Australia Vintages # 69464 $19.95 Score 94 from Sam Kim of wineorbit.co.nz. Rich and aromatic with dark fruit, cedar and spice on the nose. Powerful palate with velvet tannins. (XD - 4 g/L)
DON'T TELL GARY SHIRAZ 2020 Victoria, Australia Vintages #632620 $19.95 Grampians, Victoria Score - 92 from Jeni Port of winecompanion.com.au. She calls it a 'super-generous, ripe shiraz' that over delives for the price. Look for dark, sweet berries and plums, with earth, chocolate, toasted spice and nicely integrated oak. (XD - 3 g/L)
CASTELLO DI BOSSI C. BERARDENGA CHIANTI CLASSICO 2020 Tuscany, Italy Vintages #994608 $22.95 This gets a 93 from James Suckling who describes it as layered and juicy red with currant, cedar and some walnut character. Mushroom and savoury notes give it 'real Chianti Classico character'. (XD - 2 g/L)
Getting in to the premium wine levels.....
CHÂTEAU MAUVESIN BARTON 2019 Moulis-en-Médoc, Bordeaux, France Vintages #11727 $34.95 This gets a 93 from Georgina Hindle of decanter.com. She calls it 'One to seek out and hold on to'. She describes the nose as 'incredibly welcoming' with floral black fruit. The palate has great energy 'pushing the red fruit flavours across the palate.' Long finish with good persistency and freshnesss. Drink 2025 - 2036. (XD - 2 g/L)
There are 2 premium Rhone wines of offer, scoring Score - 95 and 96 respectively from Decanter World Wine Awards, 2022:
VIDAL-FLEURY VACQUEYRAS 2020 Vintages #394643 $37.95 50% Grenache, 30% Syrah, 20% Mourvedre. Complex with plum, blackberry and juniper on the nose. Palate has bright juicy red and dark fruits on the palate with some spicy, slightly oaky notes. Long, elegant, spicy finish. Drink now - 2028+. Score - 95 (Decanter World Wine Awards, 2022) (XD - 4 g/L)
TERROIR DARONTON GIGONDAS 2020 Vintages #34102 $39.95 A blend of
77% Grenache, 15% Syrah, 8% Mourvedre. it is rich and full and 'luxurious' with ripe red berries. Tannins are grainy and gritty. 'Harmonious' with 'precision and pep.' Enjoy now through 2028. Score - 96 Decanter World Wine Awards, 2022) (XD - 0 g/L)