The Best and The Rest Feb 8th, 2020 LCBO Vintages Release

A few Rhone Valley stars in this release and a couple of rosés, including a Canadian, that will have you thinking forward to spring. Italy as always also makes a solid showing on the podium.

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.

Feb 8th, 2020  LCBO Vintages Release

The Best


François Martenot Les Marouettes Chablis

VINTAGES#:  11913   $24.95  Burgundy, France

Subtle citrus and wet stones on the nose.  Citrus is more pronounced on the palate which is refreshing with lovely texture and weight.  Clean with a medium finish.  Pair with poultry or veal.  Tasted January 2020.   90

Tupari Boulder Rows Sauvignon Blanc

 VINTAGES#:  12008  $31.95 Awatere Valley, Marlborough, New Zealand

Fans of classic Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc will not be disappointed here with pronounced herbalness and grassiness featured on the nose and palate.  There is a hint of white flowers floating above the minerality that a gives it  added interest. Not for the meek this one!  Pair with grilled fish and grilled spring vegetables.  Tasted January 2020.   90



Hecht & Bannier Côtes de Provence Rosé 2018

VINTAGES#:  410035  $25.95 Provence, France

Inviting sweet strawberries draw you in on the nose of this Provence rosé. While dry, the palate shows strawberry and field berries without being overly fruity.  Nice mouthfeel and weight.  This is refreshing on its own but would pair well with tea sandwiches or smoked salmon.  Tasted January 2020.    91

Three of Hearts Rosé 2018

VINTAGES#:  552562 $19.95 Ontario, Canada

Don’t let the delicate salmon colour and the subtle nose throw you off on this delightful blend of Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris.  With a bit of time and attention is offers up a complex nose of light raspberry and strawberry on the nose, topped off with grapefruit and  floral notes.  The palate is subtly fruity and bone dry with nice weight and balance. This well crafted rose is delicious on its own but would pair well with fish, poultry and salads.  Think ahead as well -it is perfect picnic fare as well.  Excellent value. Tasted January 2020. 91

 Red Wines

Petra Hebo Suvereto

VINTAGES#:  12094  $24.95,  Italy

This Italian blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Sangiovese demands your attention right out of the gate.   Dried raspberry the nose. Vibrant red fruit on the palate with a nod to wet stones.  It is refreshing, well integrated and nicely structured.  This will shine beside braised meat or duck confit.   Very good value. Tasted January 2020. 93

Pierre Amadieu Domaine Grand Romane Cuvée Prestige Vieilles Vignes Gigondas 2017

VINTAGES#:  968693 $32.95 Rhône, France

This Grenache, Mourvedre, Syrah blend offers up delicious raspberry and violets on the nose. The palate is fresh and vibrant with red berries.  Elegant and silky with a long finish. Harmonious from start to finish.  Pair with beef Wellington.  Tasted January 2020.  92

La Grande Gardiole Les Vieilles Vignes Châteauneuf-du-Pape

VINTAGES#:  12983  $48.95  Rhône, France

This Chateauneuf du Pape blend is unusual in that it is dominated by 65% Syrah with 25% Grenache and 10%Cinsault. The bouquet is showing complex aromas of dusty roses with  hints of caramel floating on dusty dried raspberries.  The silky smooth raspberry-driven palate has grippy tannins on the long finish.  Elegant and nicely structured. Pair with Chateaubriand or veal medallions in mushroom sauce.  Tasted January 2020.  92

Carpineto Riserva Chianti Classico 2015

VINTAGES#:  47118  $28.95  Tuscany, Italy

 Carpineto delivers as we have come to expect.  This Riserva has good concentration of dried raspberry and red fruits on the nose and palate.  Somewhat grippy tannins could use a bit of time to integrate.  Nice structure and finish. This will be a reliable pick to serve with charcuterie, roasts or spicy pastas.  Tasted January 2020.  91

Domaine Coudoulis Evidence Lirac

VINTAGES#:  13513 $19.95 France

This is elegance, taste and style all wrapped up and delivered for under $20! It has a lovely nose of fruity violets with hints of warm sunshine.  This GSM is beautifully silky on the palate with rich field berry notes. Then we are rewarded with a nice lingering finish. Very elegant and nicely structured. Very good value.  Pair with beef bourguignon or Daube. Tasted January 2020.  91

Castel del Lago Valpolicella Ripasso Superiore

VINTAGES#:  12411  $17.95 Veneto, Italy

Interesting black pepper  floats over dried red fruit on the nose. The palate is silky, smooth with ample fruit. The lovely fruit carries through to a generous finish. This might just become my ‘house red’!  Excellent value.  Pair with anything from pizza to steak.  Tasted January 2020.  91

Bernardeschi Governo all’Uso Rosso

VINTAGES#:  13519  $19.95  Tuscany, Italy

This 70% Sangiovese/30% Merlot is solid in all respectes.  There is a hint of garrigue on the nose along with dried fruit while showing generous cherry and red fruit on the silky, smooth palate. Good fruit on a long finish. Very approachable.  Good value.  Pair with spicy pasta, pizza or burgers.  Tasted January 2020..  90

Casca Mountain Vineyards 1808 Reserva

VINTAGES#:  11149  $16.95  Douro, Portugal

 Lovely spices and chocolate dance on the nose of this rich blend of Touriga Nacional and Tinto Roriz.  Spiciness complements the fruity palate. All nicely integrated and harmonious.  This is a substantial wine that would pair well with hearty stews,  short ribs or your favourite comfort food. Excellent value.   Tasted January 2020.  90

Black Sage Vineyard Shiraz

VINTAGES#:  11818  $31.95  British Columbia, Canada

An interesting nose of cocoa, black fruit and light vegetal notes.  Pronounced, lush black plum and bramble on the palate with fine, soft tannins.  Highly quaffable, with everything in balance,  and winding up with a lingering medium plus finish.  Pair with ribs or lamb. Tasted January  90

Tuck Beckstoffer The 75 Wine Company Cabernet Sauvignon

VINTAGES#:  13692  $37.95  California, USA

This Cabernet Sauvignon opens with subtle dark fruit and vegetal notes  and then offers up cinnamon and cloves.   Ample dark fruit on the palate which is smooth with fine, fine tannins. Ends with a long, lingering finish. Enjoy with steak or grilled portabello mushrooms.  Tasted January 2020.  90

The Rest


Zuccardi Polígonos Malbec 2016

VINTAGES#:  568915  $29.95  Mendoza, Argentina

This has a rich nose with hints of perfumed leather.  Ample dark  fruit on the palate with sandy tannins on the finish. Highly quaffable.  Pair with burgers, ribs or grilled beef. Tasted January 2020.   89


Back 10 Smitten Sparkling

VINTAGES#:  14440  $24.95 Niagara, Canada

This fun, off-dry sparkling has lemon, lime with some interesting creaminess going for it.   It is crisp and refreshing on the palate with a lively mousse.  Would be a wonderful sipper on its own or pair with shrimp or scallops.  Tasted January 2020.   89

Casa-Dea Pinot Noir 2016

VINTAGES#:  296210 $21.95 Ontario, Canada

Well done Casa-Dea.  This leans toward a Burgundian Pinot Noir – a lovely, medium cherry colour in the glass with cherry, sandalwood spice and hints of barnyard on the nose. Happily all that delight carries to the palate which is dry, medium weight and shows dried fruit and spice. A hint of bitterness on the otherwise pleasant, decent finish.  Pair with duck breast in cherry sauce.  Tasted January 2020.  89

Palatine Hills Riesling 2016

VINTAGES#:  520395  $17.95  Ontario, Canada

Distinctive petrol floats on a waxy nose. The off-dry palate offers up notes of  honey, licorice and orange citrus.  Light with a somewhat soft mouthfeel. Pair with soft cheeses. Tasted January 2020.   88


Arboleda Carmenère 2015

VINTAGES#:  46284  $19.95 Aconcagua Valley, Chile

Smoked green bell peppers greet you on the nose with lively hints of black fruit peaking through. Smooth on the palate with ample, brambly fruit.  Tannins are soft and chalky. This food friendly Carmenere would go well with short ribs or hearty stews. Tasted January 2020..  89

Casa Silva Lolol Gran Terroir de La Costa Syrah

 VINTAGES#:  10806   $19.95 Colchagua Valley Chile

An interesting Syrah somewhere between the fruit driven Australian style and cooler climate restraint, which may be a result of the Humboldt Current and the wide diurnal swings in temperature in Colchagua Valley.  Medium bodied, fruity and pleasant.  Pair with pizza, burgers or charcuterie.  Tasted January 2020.   88

Escudo Rojo Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon

VINTAGES#:  13434   $17.95 Maipo Valley, Chile

An easy drinking Cabernet Sauvignon, replete with ample raspberry, cherry and black fruits on the palate.  The palate is fairly vibrant with a medium finish.  Highly approachable, great for a party sipping wine or serve with lamb burgers.   Tasted January 2020.   88


Château de Fontaine-Audon Sancerre 2016

VINTAGES#:  745893 $32.95 Loire, France

A classic Sancerre with restrained white blossoms on the nose with a  bit of talc. It is bone dry, just short of austere. The palate is showing grass, asparagus and minerality.  Nice balance.  Pair with pasta primavera or seafood liguine.  Tasted January 2020..     89

François Martenot L’Or de la Terre Bourgogne Aligoté

VINTAGES#:  11912   $15.95  Burgundy, France

Clean and crisp with good weight and a textured mouthfeel. Some minerality on a fairly neutral but well balanced palate.  This would make an elegant wine for ‘ladies who lunch’ on chicken and salad.  Tasted January 2020    89

Château La Fleur Grands Landes 2009

VINTAGES#:  387522  $19.95  Bordeaux, France

This  80% Merlot/15% Cabernet Franc/5% Cabernet Sauvignon opens with an enticing nose of dried raspberries in warm sunshine.  Fruit on the palate is restrained with some fine, drying tannins.  Pair with old cheeses and charcuterie or hearty stew.  Tasted January 2020.     89

Château Vrai Caillou 2016

VINTAGES#:  348292  $15.95  Bordeaux, France

50% Merlot/20% Cabernet Sauvignon/30% Cabernet Franc,  this Bordeaux blend opens with an interesting nose of brambleberry and  violets and some spicy notes. The palate shows restrained fruit with herbal highlight of thyme and a hint of cedar.   Pair with Mushroom Fricasée or French onion soup. Good value.  Tasted January 2020.   88


Ca’ Del Sette Appassionante

VINTAGES#:  12837  $19.95 Veneto, Italy

In a twist on Veneto’s penchant for drying grapes, the grapes for this red  are late harvested after partially drying on the vine.  It has a beautiful nose of mushroom, warm hay and dried fruit reminiscent of an Amarone.  Fruit on the palate is fairly pronounced and slightly candied.  Lots going on here for the money.  Good value. Pair with eggplant parmigiana or lasagna.   Tasted January 2020   .  89

Donnachiara Irpinia Aglianico 2015

VINTAGES#:  262956        $24.95       Campania, Italy

Vibrant cherry notes on the nose and  palate. Good weight. Smooth drinking with very fine tannins. Serve with spaghetti and meatballs.  Tasted January 2020.    88

Tornatore Nerello Mascalese/Nerello Cappuccio 2017

VINTAGES#:  487090   $23.95  Sicily, Italy

Spicy cherry showing on the nose and palate here. Light bodied with very fine tannins.  Straightforward but distinctively lightly spiced.  Serve with lasagna. Tasted January 2020.   88

Tenuta Iuzzolini Cirò Rosso Classico

VINTAGES#:  13034  $17.95 Calabria, Italy

Made from 100% Gagliappo grapes, this is a  light to medium bodied wine with medicinal but fresh cherry on the nose and palate.  Hints of hay add a bit of depth. Pair with osso bucco or saltimbocca. Tasted January    87


Cabral Reserva

VINTAGES#:  11632  $13.95  Douro, Portugal

This lovely and smooth blend of Portuguese grapes has good concentration of fruit on the nose and palate.  Rich and smooth drinking with a decent finish.  No rough edges here. Enjoy with beef pot roast. Good value.   Tasted January 2020.    89


Dominio de Punctum Pomelado Orange Wine

VINTAGES#:  12119  $16.95 Spain

This Orange wine, made from Sauvignon Blanc, is made like a red wine with skin contact.  ‘Orange’ in this case is more of a medium  golden colour. It is showing nutty almond notes on the nose with rich ripe apples tones underneath.  Some salinity as well. The palate is dry and tangy, just shy of bitter and reminiscent of a tart, tangy sherry. While not for all, this is one of the better examples of orange wine that I have tasted. If you are a fan or just plain curious about the orange wine rage this is good example at a great price.   Pair with tapas.  Tasted January   88

South Africa

Le Riche Chardonnay

VINTAGES#:  12431 $19.95        Stellenbosch,  South Africa

Smoky oak dominates the nose and palate on this Stellenbosch Chardonnay. There is an underlying seam of citrus on the palate that attempts to  break up the oak.  Think California style but less rich and buttery.  Pair with creamy pasta or chicken. Tasted January  89

United States

Airfield Estates Merlot 2012

VINTAGES#:  420703  $29.95      Washington, USA

Inky purple in the glass this Washington Merlot delivers a smooth but gripping burst of black plum on the palate. Tannins very much in play.  Enjoy with BBQ  ribs. Tasted January 2020.     89


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