The Best and The Rest – LCBO Vintages Release Nov 23rd, 2019

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.

Nov 23rd, 2019 LCBO Vintages Release

Italy and France dominate the podium in this release including an Italian Solaia that I have declined to score since several highly respected reviewers, far more experienced than I, have already awarded it 100 points!

The Best



Moët & Chandon Grand Vintage Extra Brut Champagne 2012

Champagne, France |   VINTAGES#:  69773 $93.95

If the Crémant De Bourgogne also in this release is the Pauper then this classic Champagne is the Prince. It has abundant aromas of pastry and buttery, sourdough.  Aromatics of ginger, pear and ripe apple carry over to the palate.  It has a beautiful fine, lively mousse, lovely tension and a long finish.  Beautiful on its own but would star beside any holiday appetizer or meal.  Tasted Nov 15, 2019.     95


Chartron et Trébuchet Brut Crémant de Bourgogne 2016

Burgundy, France  |   VINTAGES#:  571661 $20.95

This lovely, lively and effervescent sparkling could be the star of the upcoming holiday season. Wet stones and minerals greet the nose and ripe orchard fruits and  ginger dance on the palate.  A very versatile, easy quaffer with a decent finish.  You could sip this on its own or serve it with appetizers or main courses.   Tasted Nov 15, 2019.  90


Delaforce Vintage Port 2000 

Douro, Portugal  |   VINTAGES#:  344861   $62.95

This robust Port is showing vanilla, cinnamon and red fruit on the nose and palate.  The palate is actually quite spicy and slightly reminiscent of those cinnamon red hot candies.    A delightful pour with good tension and great structure. Savour it with an after dinner platter of old cheese, nuts and dried fruits.  Tasted Nov 15, 2019.     92


Domaine de Rochebin Chardonnay Mâcon-Azé 2017

Burgundy, France |   VINTAGES#:  156943  $17.95

This rich Chardonnay has ripe apple tones with hints of spice and a flinty minerality on the nose.  It is full bodied and rich on the palate with lemon and ripe red apple tones. Nicely structured, this wine will stand up to pork roast or savoury poultry dishes.  Very good value.  Tasted Nov 15, 2019.  90

Red Wines

Solaia 2016

Tuscany, Italy  |   VINTAGES#:  987586  $457.95

What do you get from one of Italy’s premiere producer’s best vineyards, south facing, 1000+ feet above sea level, in a year where the vintage was a perfect growing season?  This Solaia blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Sangiovese and Cabernet Franc that has been garnering perfect scores from esteemed reviewers associated with, Wine Advocate and James Suckling. For my part I can tell you I loved the deep red fruit, layers of spice and earthiness and the silkiness of the palate. Still tightly wound, there is the promise of more goodness to come.  This will be absolutely stunning once it has a couple more years in the cellar to evolve. Tasted Nov 15, 2019.  N/R

Quintarelli Rosso Ca’ del Merlo 2011

Veneto, Italy |   VINTAGES#:  958595   $114.95

Any discussion of the legendary Giuseppe Quintarelli’s wines are peppered with superlatives and this will be no exception.  The tradition of excellence clearly continues.  This Corvina dominated blend is made in a combination of the Amarone and Ripasso method.  50% of the grapes are pressed immediately and 50% are dried for 2 months. Primary fermentation starts after a few days maceration using indigenous yeast.  The wine is racked and rests until February when it is racked on the Amarone lees and starts a secondary fermentation. It then spends seven years in large Slovenian oak.  The result is an absolutely stunning wine with aromas of strawberry, sweet hay and warm sunshine.  The palate is both vibrant and elegant. It almost defies description how the ample dried fruit forms the base and then vibrant red fruit almost leaps from the mix. Harmonious  and haunting.  You may want to savour this on its to give it your full attention. Otherwise think something like Osso Bucco alla Milanese.   Tasted Nov 15, 2019.  95

Zeni Barriques Amarone della Valpolicella 2013

Veneto, Italy  |   VINTAGES#:  472688  $56.95

Aromas of hazelnuts, dried fruit and sweet hay greet you on the nose. Gorgeously silky, smooth on the palate with concentrated cherry and fleeting mushroom notes.  The finish is excellent.  If you are an Amarone fan this will not disappoint.   Pair with braised beef short ribs of boar ragu.  Tasted Nov 15, 2019.     93

Domaine Font de Michelle Châteauneuf-du-Pape 2017

Rhône, France  |   VINTAGES#:  400358  $53.95

This elegant Chateauneuf-du-Pape opens with aromas of violets, red fruit and hints of sandalwood spices. Layers of gentle cloves open up as the nose keeps on giving.  It is mouth filling with ample fruit and hints of spiciness.  The finish is long and lingering. This deserves Chateaubriand. Tasted Nov 15, 2019.     93

Marchese Antinori Tenuta Tignanello Riserva Chianti Classico 2015

Tuscany, Italy  |   VINTAGES#:  512384 $49.95

From Tenuta Tignanello, home of the renown Solaia and Tignanello vineyards in the heart of Chianti Classico, this classic Chianti Reserva lives up to its pedigree.  Savoury notes of dried herbs lead on the nose and open up to raspberry and  cherry.  The palate is fruity and smooth with sandy tannins and a long  finish. Drinking beautifully  now but will continue to deliver for another decade. Serve with meat sauces and ragus.   Tasted Nov 15, 2019.    92

Aurelio Settimo Rocche dell’Annunziata Barolo 2014

Piedmont, Italy  |   VINTAGES#:  293761  $54.95

Enticing aromas of sweet hay and barnyard lead on the nose here with  underlying floral and spice notes. The palate is elegant with and spicy, textured with fine, fine tannin and a long, satisfying finish.  Serve with pumpkin pasta.   Tasted Nov 15, 2019. 91

Oreno 2017

Tuscany, Italy  |   VINTAGES#:  735597  $86.95

Oreno, a Super Tuscan blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon with a small percentage of Petit Verdot. this is still tightly wound but the concentration of rich fruit and well structured palate bode well for the future. Cellar for at least 2-3 years and then savour it with rack of lamb.    Tasted Nov 15, 2019.    91

Colinas de Ançã Baga Reserva 2014

Bairrada, Portugal   |   VINTAGES#:  11195  $16.95

This is a fun, fruity wine, quite robust with red cherry tart, vanilla and baking spices on the nose.  It is almost like cherry pie in a glass without the sweetness.  Full of fruit, highly approachable and perfect for party sipping with medium cheeses and pastry appetizers.  Very good value. Tasted Nov 15, 2019.  90

Papale Linea Oro Primitivo di Manduria 2015

Puglia, Italy  |   VINTAGES#:  261784  $22.95

Enticing deep chocolate and raisiny notes open on the nose before vegetal hints and hay float up. It is rich and smooth on the palate with hints of chocolate and coffee over dried rich red fruit. A very interesting offering that would pair well with Mexican mole. Very good value.    Tasted Nov 15, 2019.  .  90

Caparzo La Casa Brunello di Montalcino 2013

Tuscany, Italy |   VINTAGES#:  20750  $79.95

Hints of hay, smoke and leather float over notes of red cherry and red fruit on the nose. It is full-bodied with concentrated fruit but still tightly wound. This holds much promise for things to come after another 2-3 years in the cellar.    Tasted Nov 15, 2019.      90

Jean-Luc Colombo Le Pavillon des Courtisanes Cairanne 2016

Rhône, France  |   VINTAGES#:  120717  $21.95

This blend of Grenache and Syrah has abundant dark fruit on the nose and palate. Tannins are well integrated. At 14.5% alcohol it is a bit hot on the long finish.  This is a substantial wine that will pair well with hearty beef dishes. Very good value.    Tasted Nov 15, 2019. 90

Domaine Charles Audoin Au Champ Salomon Marsannay 2015

Burgundy, France  |   VINTAGES#:  429134  $60.95

This Pinot Noir opens with a lovely, pronounced nose of dried raspberry and hints of garrigue. Concentrated fruit on the palate with fine, fine, fine tannins and a medium finish.  Definitely a pleasant pour. Pair with Beef Bourguignon but should continue to evolve over the next couple of years.  Tasted Nov 15, 2019.    90

Tessellae Old Vines Grenache/Syrah/Mourvèdre 2017

Midi, France |   VINTAGES#:  343517  $18.95

This GSM blend has red berries and raspberry on the slightly floral, powdery nose. A fairly bold palate defined by field berries and textured with sandy tannins and a  long finish. Go local and pair with cassoulet. Very good value.   Tasted Nov 15, 2019.  90

Xavier Arcane XV Le Diable 2015

Rhône, France    VINTAGES#:  526301  $19.95

Don’t let the Vin de France  AOP fool you. The grapes for this 100% Mourvedre are sourced from 17 different plots with 100 year old vines.  Because some plots are in Chateauneuf-du-Pape it can’t be called a Côtes de Rhône.  This Xavier endeavor has been made with all the attention to detail that Xavier is known for.  A rich medley of dark fruit and raspberry define the nose and palate.  It is robust, well structured and well integrated at this point with very fine tannins.  The finish is long and lingering.   A very satisfying pour indeed.  Serve with a robust stew.   Tasted Nov 15, 2019.    90

Château de Nages Vieilles Vignes Costières de Nîmes 2016

Rhône, France |   VINTAGES#:  40964 $19.95

Raspberry preserves define the nose.  Dried raspberry and bramble on the palate with a bit of licorice on the finish. Substantial but not overpowering you could enjoy it on its own or pair with beef stew.  Very good value.  Tasted Nov 15, 2019  90

The Rest


Château Fuisse Juliénas 2016

Beaujolais, France |   VINTAGES#:  11356  $16.95

Delightful red plum and cinnamon on the nose. Fruit defines the palate on this medium bodied, smooth sipper.  This would be a great choice for a party red to sip on its own or serve with poultry or veal.   Tasted Nov 15, 2019.  89

Gérard Bertrand Réserve Spéciale Viognier 2017

Roussillon, France |   VINTAGES#:  147975 $14.95

This 100% Viognier has hints of lemon, white pepper and minerality on the nose.  Lemon leads on a nicely balanced palate.  Nice body and backbone. Would go well with lemon chicken or shrimp.  Tasted Nov 15, 2019.   89

Joseph Cattin Riesling 2017

Alsace, France |   VINTAGES#:  259788  $14.95

Field clover and chamomile on the nose. It is silky, smooth on the palate but finishes with a touch of sourness. Pair with chicken.    Tasted Nov 15, 2019.   88


   Balthasar Ress Hattenheim Riesling Kabinett 2018

Rheingau, Germany  |   VINTAGES#:  11652  $24.95

Petrol on the nose floats over apricot and blossoms.  Just off-dry, it is silky, smooth on the palate with stone fruits definitely in play. This would pair beautifully with  apricot or mango stilton and crackers. Tasted Nov 15, 2019.  89


Umberto Cesari Liano Sangiovese/Cabernet Sauvignon 2016

Emilia-Romagna, Italy |   VINTAGES#:  225086 $27.95

Bright notes of cherry and a hint of floral on the nose lead to red fruit and licorice on the palate.  The tannins need time to settle down but it will be sure to reward after a couple of years in the cellar.   Tasted Nov 15, 2019.   89

Frescobaldi Castello di Pomino Pomino Bianco 2017

Tuscany, Italy |   VINTAGES#:  65086  $19.95

This Chardonnay/Pinot Bianco blend is refreshing with peach and ginger on the nose.  It is medium bodied with textured stone fruits on the palate.    Pair with pizza bianca or light, lemony pasta dishes.    Tasted Nov 15,  89

Ca’ d’Or Bianco Pagus Soave Classico 2017

Veneto, Italy  |   VINTAGES#:  11138  $17.95

This Soave is fruity and floral on the nose with hints of white pepper and ginger.  The palate is smooth, lemony and slightly.  Nice balance and structure.  Serve with savoury chicken or creamy pasta.   Tasted Nov 15,  88

Nals Margreid Punggl Pinot Grigio 2016

Südtirol-Alto Adige, Italy |   VINTAGES#:  395756  $29.95

This Pinot Grigio has the typical clean, crisp nose but has more body and is rounder than many Pinot Grigios on offer. Lemon and pear notes with some minerality on the palate.  Serve with white fish in lemon pepper.   Tasted Nov 15,  88


Coutada Velha Signature Red 2017

Alentejo, Portugal|   VINTAGES#:  11152  $15.95

Bright red fruit on the palate with a few savoury hits. Fruit dominates the palate which is smooth and has just enough tannin to provide good structure.  A very pleasant pour that would go well with spaghetti and meat sauce, pizza or ribs.  Very good value.    Tasted Nov 15, 89


Follas Novas Albariño 2018

Rias Baixas, Spain  |   VINTAGES#:  488981  $17.95

This 100% Albariño has generous, ripe tropical fruit  on the nose that carry to the palate.  Smooth and fruity  and all around pleasant.  Could easily be sipped on its own or paired with calamari or halibut.  Tasted Nov 15, 2019.   89


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The Best and The Rest -  LCBO Vintages Release Nov 23rd, 2019

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