The Best and The Rest Feb 22nd, 2020 LCBO Vintages Release

Canada is making a good showing this release with some high scoring choices including a Sparkling, a Chardonnay, a Sauv Blanc/Semillon blend, a Cab Franc and a couple of Canadian Bordeaux style blends. Consider going home-town-proud this release!

Here are the highlights of the wines that I sampled at the media tasting for this LCBO Vintages Release.  This is based on the sub-set of wines Vintages put on offer for review.  The Best are the highest scoring based on my tasting experience. The Rest are the remaining wines I happened to review and include wines of interest and value

The Best


Megalomaniac Bubblehead Sparkling Rosé

VINTAGES#:  363655  $34.95  Niagara, Ontario, Canada

The Megalomaniac Bubblehead Sparkling Rosé pedigree includes winning Gold at both the National Wine Awards of Canada and the All Canadian Wine Championships in 2018.  I would say this one shows the same promise with enticing toasty notes on the nose along with slightly floral and ripe orchard apple notes. It is very effervescent  and dry a good acid seam. Ginger and apple on the finish extend the experience.  This would suit any occasion but would be particularly wonderful with puff pastry bundled appetizers. Tasted February 2020.    91



Hidden Bench Estate Chardonnay 2017

VINTAGES#:  68817   $29.95  Niagara Escarpment, Ontario, Canada

Hidden Bench is one of the masters of Ontario Chardonnay and this one does not disappoint.  This is an elegant wine, nicely balanced and structured.  The oak is well integrated and adds richness to the overall experience. Lovely, long finish. Savour this one  with pasta with cream sauce or saltimbocca. Tasted February 2020.  92


Mud House Sauvignon Blanc

VINTAGES#:  190454    $19.95    Marlborough, New Zealand

This Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc has lovely, bright, grassy notes on the nose that carry to the palate. Not overpowering -just inviting. Hints of white flowers over the herbalness.   Very nice structure and balance. All delivered with a nice long finish. Serve with quiche or salad. Very good value. Tasted February 2020.    91


Xanadu DJL Chardonnay

VINTAGES#:  12653   $24.95  Margaret River, Western Australia

Whole bunch pressing, 80% fermented in seasoned French oak with wild yeast fermentation and 9 months of stirring on the lees blended with  20% tank fermented  pays off in character and complexity here. Gentle toasty and rich, stone fruit aromas float up in the glass. Medium bodied with slightly creamy apple and apricot flavours show on the palate along with a nice citrus seam. Nicely structured with a long finish. Pair with chicken or veal.  Tasted February 2020.   91

Creekside Iconoclast Sauvignon Blanc/Semillon 2017

VINTAGES#:  520627  $23.00   Niagara, Ontario, Canada

This Semillon Sauvignon Blend has a rich, inviting nose with light oak and buttery tones that carry to the palate.  Medium bodied and dry with undertones of ripe orchard apples. Pleasant medium finish.  Serve with Maple Roasted or Stuffed Pork Tenderloin.  Drink now.  Tasted February 2020.    90



 Red Wines

Kew Vineyards Estate Heritage

VINTAGES#:  11958  $39.95  Niagara Ontario, Canada

This is a well crafted 100% Cab Franc made using appassimento method. It has a complex nose of mint, chocolate, dried fruit, also showing a bit cedar and eucalyptus. It is rich with good dried fruit concentration on the palate.  All nicely integrated at this point with solid,  long finish. Serve with braised short ribs. Tasted February 2020.   92

Beringer Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2015

VINTAGES#:  91058 $59.95 California, USA

This is a dense, smooth drinking Cabernet Sauvignon with a bit of Merlot, Petit Verdot and Zinfandel adding interest. Rich and ample dark, brambly fruit showing on the nose and palate with nice weight and balance.  Silky with a long, rich finish.  This deserves Chateaubriand.  Tasted February 2020.  92

Teusner The Gentleman Cabernet Sauvignon

VINTAGES#:  12843  $23.95  Barossa, Australia

This Cabernet Sauvignon opens with a beautiful nose of dusty violets and eucalyptus floating on top of black fruit. Plenty of cassis and dark, rich fruit on the palate, perhaps a hint on the candied side. Overall, a rich, silky smooth, fruity pour. Drinking well now but will hold for another few years.  Enjoy with lamb shanks or burgers. Good value.   Tasted February 2020.   91

Ironstone Merlot 2017

VINTAGES#:  704353   $17.95  Lodi, California, USA

Excellent value here with this fruity Merlot.  Black licorice and wild cherry mingle on the nose and surprisingly, carry over to the palate in spades!  Very interesting pour here!  Rich, smooth and fruity this will appeal to many. Drink now or within the next few years.  Serve with spicy ribs.  Tasted February 2020.     91

Il Poggione Brunello di Montalcino 2013

  VINTAGES#:  551176   $72.95   Tuscany, Italy

Inviting warm hay, concentrated dried fruit and hint of tobacco greet you on the nose.  The palate is clean with dried fruit and nutty notes. A bit of slate-like minerality showing as well. Drinking beautifully right now with a delicious, lingering finish.  This will also stand up to several years of cellaring.  This beauty would pair well with osso bucco or lamb shanks. Tasted February 2020.  91

Castelforte Valpolicella Ripasso

VINTAGES#:  13448   $17.95  Veneto, Italy

This has a beautiful rich, raspberry nose with subtle tones of smoke and meat with vibrant red fruit -cherries and raspberries on the palate.  Fresh and all beautifully balanced and harmonious.    Pair with spicy pasta or pizza.  Very good value.  Tasted February 2020.    91

Señorío de la Antigua Finca Cabanela Mencía 2012

VINTAGES#:  481549   $13.95  Castilla y León, Spain

If you are not familiar with the Mencia grape this is the perfect place to start! Medium bodied with ripe raspberry and red currant on the nose and a hint of barnyard adding complexity.  From a single vineyard with 35-50 year old vines.  Great fruit concentration, silky smooth with good weight.  Excellent value. Drink or hold for a few years. Serve with charcuterie, firm cheeses, burgers or any light BBQ fare.  Tasted February 2020.    91

Toi Toi Clutha Pinot Noir

VINTAGES#:  12607  $27.95  Central Otago,  South Island, New Zealand

This Pinot Noir offers up bright cherry notes with just a hint of perfume on the nose. The palate is clean, smooth and  replete with red cherry.  Nice balance. Serve this with smoked duck breast salad.  Tasted February 2020.  90

Château Saint-Hilaire

VINTAGES#:  13981  $24.95  AC Médoc, Bordeaux, France

This Cab dominated Bordeaux blend has a complex nose with chocolate, hints of coffee and underlying brambly fruit. Good fruit concentration on the palate.  Smooth, well integrated and drinking nicely. Pair with tourtiere. Tasted February 2020.   90

The Tragically Hip Fully Completely Reserve Red 2017

VINTAGES#:  411595  $24.95  Nigara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada

A lovely Canadian Bordeaux style blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cab Franc with an enticing nose of dried red fruit, a hint of garrigue and dusty rose. The palate is quite fruit driven with great balance and structure.  Serve with steak or grilled game sausage.  Tasted February 2020.   90

Burrowing Owl Athene 2015

VINTAGES#:  371336  $44.95  British Columbia, Canada

This Syrah/Cabernet Sauvignon blend has lifted notes of black fruit that carry to the palate.  Silky, smooth and beautifully integrated. It is rich and thoroughly enjoyable through the long finish.  Serve with Beef Wellington. Drink or hold.  Tasted February 2020.         90

Tolaini Al Passo 2006

VINTAGES#:  164954     $29.95  Tuscany, Italy

This is an seductive blend of Sangiovese, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. Black cherry and dark fruits on the nose  with ample fruit on the palate and fine, dusty tannins.  If you like Bordeaux style wines but lean toward a fruitier showing this wine is for you! Full-bodied, fruity, firm but smooth. This would complement a wide range of dishes from tourtiere to ox-tail stew, firm cheeses or charcuterie. Tasted February 2020.   90

Enrico Serafino Picotener Nebbiolo

VINTAGES#:  12736   $38.95   DOC Langhe, Piedmont, Italy

This Nebbiolo clone, Picotener, which is apparently difficult  to cultivate, has been revived in Langhe. It opens with bright fruit on the nose and a hint of savoury thyme. It is smooth with subdued but fresh fruit on the palate and firm tannins. Nice balance, good structure. Think of Barolo but fresher, more vibrant and without the barnyard.  This is a very enjoyable pour.  Pair with spaghetti or spicy pasta dishes. Drink now or cellar 2-5 years. Tasted February 2020.    90

Finca Nueva Gran Reserva

VINTAGES#:  13625   $38.95  Rioja, Spain

This silky, smooth Rioja is drinking beautifully, still showing red fruit on the palate, well-integrated oak and a hint of spice. Pair with Manchego cheese and Jamón Ibérico.   Tasted February 2020.   90


The Rest


Torbreck Old Vines Grenache/Shiraz/Mourvèdre 2013

VINTAGES#:  10223   $24.95  South Australia, Australia

This 65% Grenache/10% Shiraz/25% Mourvedre is showing dusty notes of sandalwood spice over dried strawberry on the nose.  The fruit and the spice carry to the  palate.  Silky, smooth and rich with good fruit concentration and a medium plus finish.  Pair with beef bourguignon. Drink now or cellar for up to 5 years. Tasted February 2020.    89


Southbrook Triomphe Merlot 2013

VINTAGES#:  418830  $27.95  Niagara, Ontario, Canada

Certified organ,  this hand-harvested Merlot has nice fruity, ripe plum notes on the nose and palate.   15% Gamay has been added to up the fruit and juiciness factor.  This supple sipper goes down so easily with lovely balance and structure. Serve with ribs or lamb burgers. Tasted February 2020.  89

Creekside Laura’s Red 2016

VINTAGES#:  117960  $25.00  Niagara, Ontario, Canada

This Bordeaux style is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, Petit Verdot and Malbec.  It has a classic nose with restrained dried raspberries under a hint of violets. Nice structure and balance with fine, sandy tannins very much in play. Medium finish.  You can drink this now but it will benefit from 2-3 years in the cellar as well.  Serve with saucy ribs. Tasted February 2020.  89


Santa Alicia Anke

VINTAGES#:  13427  $18.95  Maipo Valley, Chile

With 55% Carmenère, 30% Petit Verdot and 15% Syrah this blend has a fresh nose with attractive green pepper and vegetal notes. The palate is also fresh and vibrant with lots of fresh red plum and currant. Medium finish.  Serve with BBQ kebabs.   Tasted February 2020.     89


Château du Breuil 2014

VINTAGES#:  633081  $24.95  Bordeaux, France

This Merlot dominated blend reminds me why I am partial to Haut-Médoc.  This is a fine example with a classic nose of  dusty  roses over restrained fruit. It is full-bodied and intense although there is a slight suggestion of candied cherry on the palate.  Otherwise nicely balanced with soft tannins on the finish.  Serve with beef stew now or hold another couple of years.   Tasted February 2020.  89

Cuvée Joseph Talmard Mâcon Chardonnay 2017

VINTAGES#:  392712  $16.95   Burgundy, France

This is an agreeable, clean chardonnay leaning subtly toward the tropical fruit spectrum.  It has nice weight and balance.  All very harmonious.  Good value.  Enjoy it with Granny Smith apple slices topped with Saint Paulin cheese.  Tasted February 2020.   88


Fontevecchia Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi Classico Superiore

VINTAGES#:  11140  $14.95  Marche, Italy

This is clean, crisp and refreshing with a lovely nose of white flowers and clover. Light bodied and nicely balanced.  Serve with shrimp or scallops.  Tasted February 2020.    89

Scarànto Chianti

VINTAGES#:  13454  $15.95 Tuscany, Italy

Fresh raspberry on the nose with a hint of mint. Bright and ample fruit on the palate.  Lovely and  smooth with a long finish. Good value.  Enjoy with spicy sausage, pasta or pizza.   Tasted February 2020.    89

Castel del Lago Lugana

VINTAGES#:  13447    $16.95    Veneto, Italy

This entry level Lugana is showing light lemon on the nose that carries to a somewhat waxy but clean palate.  Drink now. Serve with lemon asparagus risotto.   Tasted February 2020.   88

New Zealand

Whitehaven Chardonnay

VINTAGES#:  12621  $22.95   Marlborough, South Island New Zealand

This is a light-bodied Chardonnay with a soft, round mouthfeel.  Unfortunately some of its charms are lost to the pronounced oak that dominates the nose and palate.   This would make an easy sipper on its own or serve with chicken flatbread.  Tasted February 2020.  87


Abad Dom Bueno Mencía 2013

750 mL  bottle   |   VINTAGES#:  291989  $16.95  Bierzo, Spain

Mencia delivers a robust wine here with  red fruit on a clean nose.  Smooth with good fresh, fruit concentration on the palate. Full- bodied with good structure and no obvious tannins.  Highly quaffable.  Good value for everyday easy drinking. Serve with pizza or charcuterie.  Tasted February 2020.  89

South Africa

Noble Hill Syrah

VINTAGES#:  12686  $18.95  WO Simonsberg-Paarl South Africa

This  Syrah has  a bit of Mourvedre and Viognier in the blend.  The result is a smoky pour with ample dark fruit and a hint of pepper. All nicely balanced and integrated. No rough edges to be seen here.  Pair with charcuterie. Tasted February 2020.  89

United States

Spoken Barrel Cabernet Sauvignon

 VINTAGES#:  13239  $24.95 Washington, USA

This Cabernet/Syrah/Merlot blend has nice dark plums and a hint of violets on the nose.  Balanced and smooth with lots of fruit on the palate.  A bit of spice and tannin add complexity to the mix. This will appeal to a wide audience. Drinks nicely on its own but would pair with stew or burgers as well.  Tasted February 2020.    89


Garzón Estate Cabernet Franc/Tannat

VINTAGES#:  12651  $16.95 Uruguay

Bodega Garzon has been doing some great things with Tannat of late, even having their 2015 Tannat Reserve make Wine Spectator’s Top 100 Wines  in 2017.  This 80% Cab Franc/20% Tannat has dusty rose on the nose with wet stones; vibrant red currant on the palate and soft, grainy tannins. Good structure and balance.  Medium bodied and very approachable.  There is a lot going on in this glass!  Pair with cassoulet or duck confit.  Good value.   Tasted February 2020.  89

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The Best and The Rest  Feb 22nd, 2020 LCBO Vintages Release

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