The Wine Lover’s Picks LCBO Vintages Release March 2 2019

Award Winning Ontario Wines outstrip the ‘Noble Napa’ features for value in the LCBO’s Vintages Release March 2, 2019. This is a great opportunity to experience world class Ontario award winning wines.

I don’t dispute that California and Napa in particular produce some amazing wines but the value quotient is hard to argue when our exchange rate disadvantages us to the tune of about 30% right out of the gate.  That puts most of them out of the under $35 ‘snack bracket’ featured here. Thankfully there are lots of other gems in the Sparkling category, a Pouilly-Fuissé under $35 along with some great French,  Argentinian and South African values.

Use this link to check out availability of wines closest to you – LCBO store locator. Just enter the product number in the search field in the upper right corner. When the product page comes up click on the Select Store button on the right margin.  A dialogue box will come up. Add your postal code to get a list of stores closest to you that have it in stock.

Or you can now order LCBO products on-line  .  Of late LCBO have indicated all release wines are available for on-line  ordering.

Here are my picks for some of the best value wines under $35 in this release.

Ontario Wines

Ontario has some stunning examples on offer.  Anything Southbrook and anything from 2027 Cellars fits the bill in my opinion.

SOUTHBROOK LAUNDRY VINEYARD GAMAY NOIR 2017  (VQA Vinemount Ridge, Niagara Peninsula)

646323   (XD)             Score: 92       $24.95

Vic Harradine of says ‘This is ProCert certified organic and biodynamic, suitable for vegans and vegetarians. The lifted nose of red and black berry fruit, mocha and wisps of smoke waft easily from the glass of this
medium bodied, nicely textured and deftly balanced gamay. It envelops the palate with a delicious wash of dark Bing cherry and red currant flavours decorated with excellent acidity, good structure and exquisite balance. Purity of palate-flavoured fruit persists through the long, mineral-infused finish and aftertaste.’  Light-bodied & Fruity

2027 FALLS VINEYARD RIESLING 2017 (VQA Vinemount Ridge, Niagara Peninsula)

294041   (M)    $18.95

Vintage Panel notes: An exceptional value, this off-dry Riesling from local terroir-whisperer Kevin Panagapka is grown in a single vineyard on Vinemount Ridge. Green apple, white peach and lime are made all the more enjoyable by evocations of mineral oil and crushed rocks, while brilliant acidity keeps things zippy and crisp on the finish. Drink over the next 4-5 years with pan-fried fish and Cajun-spiced fries or a garden salad.’  Aromatic & Flavourful

KEW MARSANNE 2016 (VQA Beamsville Bench, Niagara Escarpment)

485334  (D)      Score 90  $19.95

Score: Gold (National Wine Awards of Canada, 2018)[The NWAC did not include a tasting note.]

Michael Godel of says ‘The dominant marsanne (90 per
cent) is joined seamlessly by viognier in a white blend rich with barrel notes, nutty and toasty. Perhaps a touch less interesting on the palate but it’s welling
with presence and persistence. Metallic and effective, with great finishing bitters. Drink: 2018-2020.’ Aromatic & Flavourful


392357   (M)    $15.95

Awarded the 2018 Lieutenant Governor’s Award for Excellence in Ontario Wines.  This wine was also awarded a Gold Medal at the 2018 Ontario
Wine Awards.

Vintage panel notes:  Founded by German-born Herbert Konzelmann in 1988, this winery is situated on a site whose microclimate reminded him of Alsace. His 2016 Late Harvest Gewürztraminer is characteristically aromatic, ripe and richly textured. Intense and vibrant with precise rosewater, lychee, ginger, and
lemon citrus, this off-dry wine will be a fine match for lightly spiced ribs or an Indian curry. ‘  Aromatic & Flavourful


MALIVOIRE GAMAY 2017 (VQA Niagara Peninsula)

591313     (D)    Score: 90     $17.95

Score: Gold (National Wine Awards of Canada, 2018)  [The NWAC did not include a tasting note.]

Steve Thurlow of says ‘The 2017 is probably the best vintage ever of this well priced pure, lightweight and very versatile food red. The nose shows raspberry, plum and red cherry fruit with herbal and floral tones plus a hint of white pepper spice to add a little complexity. It is juicy and well balanced and very easy to drink. Chill a little and enjoy with mildly flavoured
meat and cheese dishes. Very good length. ‘
Light-bodied & Fruity

Sparkling Wines

13TH STREET PREMIER CUVÉE 2012 (Traditional method,VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada)

142679   (XD)  Score 95   $34.95

Awarded the 2018 Lieutenant Governor’s Award for Excellence in Ontario Wines.
Decanter World Wine Awards, 2018 notes:   ‘50% Chardonnay, 50% Pinot Noir. A rich and leesy nose with hints of caramelised apple. The palate is elegantly crisp showing grapefruit, citrus and elements of salt. ‘
Medium-bodied & Flavourful

VILARNAU BRUT RESERVA CAVA (Traditional method, DO, Spain) 

515254    (D) $15.95

Score: Gold Medal (Champagne & Sparkling Wine World Championship, 2017)

Vintage panel notes: ‘…. this is sourced from some of the highest and windiest
sites in Sant Sadurni d’Anoia. There’s plenty of apple and pear as well as solid autolytics – think fresh baked bread. ‘
Medium-bodied & Flavourful

White Wines

MONTES ALPHA CHARDONNAY 2016 (DO Aconcagua Valley, Chile)

390203 (XD)  Score: 93      $19.95

James Suckling of says ‘This is a very serious chardonnay with pie-crust and cooked-apple character. Full body, tight and focused. Beautiful and long. Small percentage of new wood and malolactic fermentation. Excellent. Drink now.’
Full-bodied & Rich


295717 (XD)   Score 91   $33.95
Vintage Panel notes:  ‘The Chardonnays of Pouilly-Fuissé are known for their precision, focus, intensity and richness. This one is floral and fruity with sweet apple tones and a fine mineral note. Nice citrus fruit too, and a refined freshness. Fabulous. Try it with a honey orange-glazed ham. ‘
Full-bodied & Rich

HUGEL GENTIL 201 (AC Alsace, France)

367284 (XD)   Score 90  $18.95

Ian D’Agata of describes ‘Pale bright yellow. Fresh aromas of mirabelle, nectarine, tangerine, minty herbs and crushed stone. Quite dry, juicy and elegant, featuring stone fruit and mineral flavors sexed up by a flinty
nuance on the end. Still a bit youthfully tight, but this is a marvelous Gentil, the best I remember from Hugel in years. It’s a delicious, lovely, fresh wine that,
though not the last word in complexity, is easygoing and full of early appeal. A very complex blend of Sylvaner, Riesling, Pinot Blanc/Auxerrois, and Pinot
Gris, plus a little Gewürztraminer, Muscat Ottonel and Muscat d’Alsace; 40 years ago Gentil used to be at least 40% Sylvaner but in recent times the blend of Pinot Blanc and Auxerrois had taken over, to my mind one of the main reasons for Gentil’s downfall. What one wants from a Gentil is mineral florality and freshness, not heavy-handed, honeyed and spicy aromas and flavors. Drinking Window: 2018-2023.’
Aromatic & Flavourful

WAIRAU RIVER SAUVIGNON BLANC 2017 (Marlborough, South Island, NZ)

014340 (XD)  Score 90  $19.95
Gold Medal winner and Judges’ Selection Award in the New Zealand White category at the 2018 TEXSOM International Wine Awards.

Joe Czerwinski of says ‘ Snow pea, cut grass, grapefruit –
the 2017 Sauvignon Blanc is a return to form for this historic winery. It’s medium-bodied, streamlined and crisp, with a bright beam of acidity that gives it strength and persistence. Drink Date: 2018-2020.’
Aromatic & Flavourful



(AC Alsace, France)

377721 (D)  Score 90  $19.95

Vintage panel notes:  ‘This offering delivers classic lychee, honey, apple, pear and rosewater tones in a wine that straddles dry and off-dry. Crisp and fresh with great precision, it will be a real treat with barbecued spicy Korean ribs.’
Aromatic & Flavourful

Red Wines

SIDEWOOD SHIRAZ 2015 (Adelaide Hills, South Australia)

446146   Score 96    (XD) $19.95

James Halliday, says ‘Has a highly fragrant bouquet,
verging on outright perfume; spicy notes are part climate, part whole bunch-derived, and the multiclone backdrop provides a beautifully poised palate.
Very good value. Drink By: 2030.’
Full-bodied & Smooth

KAIKEN ULTRA LAS ROCAS MALBEC 2016 (Mendoza, Argentina)

050849 (XD)   Score 94  $19.95

James Suckling of describes ‘A soft and round-textured red with stones and blackberries. Full body, subtle chocolate and berry character and hazelnut undertones. Turns rich on the finish. A blend of top vineyards. Drink now.’
Full-bodied & Smooth

PESQUIÉ ÉDITION 1912M VENTOUX 2016 (AP  Rhone, France)

636159 (XD)   Score 93     $17.00

Jeb Dunnuck of  says ‘A new cuvee that’s from higher
elevation vineyards, the 2016 Ventoux Edition 1912M is made from 70% Grenache and 30% Syrah that I suspect was brought up all in tank. It’s a ripe, sexy, yet concentrated wine that offers lots of black cherries, violets, lavender, raspberry and mineral-driven aromatics. Clean, medium to full-bodied, and with rock-solid mid-palate depth, it’s going to drink beautifully for upwards of a decade, although there’s absolutely no need to delay gratification’.
Full-bodied & Firm

(DO Leyda Valley, Chile)

632919 (XD)   Score 93  $19.95

Patricio Tapia, Descorchados says ‘This is from a selection of 2 blocks facing south, a rather cooler orientation in Leyda. And you can taste it, especially in the acidity that accompanies the fruit flavours, instilling tension and freshness. The finish, in fact, is inundated by a refreshing sensation that makes you want another glass. Everything else is red fruit and light earthy
touches in a textbook pinot.’
Medium-bodied & Fruity


368548  (XD)    Score 93    $19.95

James Suckling of describes’ Dark cherries, plum compote, dried sage, lavender and crushed stones. Full body, medium-chewy tannins, a good line of acidity and a tight finish. Drink now. ‘
Full-bodied & Firm

ARANWA MALBEC RESERVE 2013 (Mendoza, Argentina)

631812(XD)  Score 92     $17.95

James Suckling of describes ‘ A red with intensity plus blackberry and blueberry character. Full body, very silky and refined. Shows length and beauty. Drink or hold.’
Full-bodied & Smooth


128629 (XD)   Score 92   $18.95

Natalie MacLean of says ‘The 2015 vintage of the robust
Luigi Bosca is made from the classic Cabernet Sauvignon grape. It’s beautifully balanced with deep layers of dark fruits, including blackberry, cassis and dark plum with a lick of dark spice and smoke. Ripe tannin with a supple mouthfeel. Decant one hour and enjoy with a rare steak.’
Full-bodied & Smooth

CHÂTEAU DES TOURS BROUILLY 2016 (AC Beaujolais, France)

637835  (XD)    Score 91     $21.95

Roger Voss of Wine Enthusiast  says ‘This estate has been vastly improved
since it was bought by the Richard family whose coffees are familiar in many French cafés. Richly aromatic and juicy, this wine is full, packed with fruit
and acidity, and already delicious to drink.’
Medium-bodied & Fruity

(Cauquenes, Maule Valley, Chile)

630350   (XD   Score 91    $24.95

Michael Schachner of Wine Enthusiast says ‘This wine’s roasted, savory bouquet contains blackberry, cinnamon, olive, earth and oak aromas. It hails from Pirque, one of Chile’s hotbeds for traditional Cabernet Sauvignon. The palate is chewy and deep, with spicy black-fruit flavors and oak-derived notes of cinnamon and nutmeg. Dark fruit and herbal touches flood the finish. Drink:
now-2023.’ Full-bodied & Firm


333229   (XD)    Score 90 +   $23.95

Mike Bennie of  says ‘Restrained, leaner cabernet of
intense blackcurrant/cassis fruit scents and flavours with a pretty solid cedar overlay. Sits in the palate medium weight, maybe even a touch ‘lean’ in a way
and certainly finishes with a slightly watery but also nicely tannic chew, a dichotomy of sorts. Big word for saying that it’s a wine almost a whole, but feels like a bit of cellar time might just be the blessing. It’s a good, restrained wine for the price, offering a sense of elegance. Drink: 2019-2025. ‘
Full-bodied & Firm

(WO Western Cape, South Africa)

068775  (XD)   Score 90    $16.95

Vintages note:  The Manor House ultra-premium collection comprises single-varietal wines made from some of Nederburg’s best-of-best fruit. The line was
inspired by the beautifully proportioned Cape Dutch manor house built in 1800 by Nederburg’s founder, Philippus Wolvaart. Expect a bold, spicy Shiraz
brimming with dark fruit and pour it alongside sizzling steak.’
Full-bodied & Smooth

Cellar Suggestions

(DOCG  Tuscany, Italy)

288530 (XD)    Score 95     23.95

As cited by James Suckling, this wine is ready to drink now, but should you wish to follow its evolution further, it will reward another 8-10 years in your cellar.
James Suckling of  says ‘There’s cedar and tobacco here,
but it’s backed up with lovely, fresh wild strawberries, raspberry cheesecake and redcurrants. Full body, polished tannins and beautifully linear acidity. Finishes long and elegantly.’
Medium-bodied & Fruity

SAN PEDRO SIDERAL 2016 (DO Cachapoal Valley, Chile)

632927 (XD)   Score 93   $29.95

Tim Atkin, MW of  says ‘Sideral is always an assemblage of
five varieties, dominated by Cabernet Sauvignon and (in this instance) supported by Syrah, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Carmenère. This is sweet, scented and ripe with mint and dark berry fruits and scented
vanilla oak. Drink Date: 2020-28.’
Full-bodied & Smooth

THE FOREIGN AFFAIR DREAM 2016 (VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ont, Canada)

364380 (XD)    $29.95

Vintages note:  This dreamy red blend uses a portion of dried grapes and spent over a year in a combo of French, American and Hungarian oak barrels. Tuck the wine in the cellar and let it slumber for 2-3 years, or decant it tonight and expect rich dark fruit, smoke and chocolatey notes that’ll nicely  complement steaks, ribs or smoked cheeses.’
Full-bodied & Smooth

Good Bets

The wines highlighted below may not have been rated by critics but are wines that come from consistently high quality producers or regions that epitomize the characteristics of a certain varietal or style. In other words… good value wines that I would gravitate to without hesitation!

DOMAINE DE VAUGONDY BRUT VOUVRAY (Traditional method, AC, Loire, France)

154567 (D) $19.95
Vintages note: The autolytic character from the second fermentation (the same process used for Champagne) really shines; that is not to suggest that
it dominates, just that it adds a lovely toastiness to the whole. The apple, pear and citrus fruit here is wonderful – it’s sharply defined and tangy, while the
acidity is perfectly razor-sharp and biting. This is a fantastic, intense Chenin sparkler. Enjoy with seafood or even a charcuterie platter; the acidity here is more than a match for the salt and fattiness of the meat.’
Medium-bodied & Flavourful

(AC  Loire, France)

107128    (XD) $18.95

Vintages note:   Domaine du Pré Baron is a member of the Terra Vitis organization. This group of French wine producers is committed to growing high-quality grapes without the use of chemical treatments. They employ many of the principles of sustainable agriculture, organic viticulture and biodynamics. From the famed Touraine, this Sauvignon Blanc will deliver characteristic notes of lemon citrus, grass, asparagus and gooseberry
with a snappy, driving acidity and a saline mineral note. Ideal for seafood dishes.
Aromatic & Flavourful

(DO Navarra, Spain)

644484 (XD)   Score 89   $11.95

Vintages note: This wine was sourced from vines ranging between 30 and 50 years of age. Tempranillo is easily one of the most approachable, food-friendly
grapes out there, and this example has lots to like: impressively defined red and black fruit and notes of earth, vanilla, spice and mineral, plus a delightful
hint of mint. Juicy, balanced and structured, this wine will be great with grilled ribs, lamb kebabs, grilled sausages or burgers.
Medium-bodied & Fruity

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