Wine Picks <$35 from LCBO Vintages Release Nov 28 2020

The LCBO Vintages Release Nov 28 2020 includes a number of classic wines and some value ‘gems’. Check out the Sparkling wine that ranked #1 in the Wine Enthusiast’s list of Top 100 Wines of 2019! It may the best $23.95 you spend this year!

Fortified Wines

A nice selection on offer for Port lovers this release. Messias 10-Year-Old Tawny Port VINTAGES#:  87205 $29.95 Douro, Portugal gets a 92 score from David Lawrason of He describes dried dates, leather, cigar spice and an excellent finish.

2017 was an excellent year for Port so this Borges Soalheira Vintage Port 2017 VINTAGES#:  17512 $30.95 Douro, Portugal should be a real treat when it’s ready – after 2030! Roger Voss of Wine Enthusiast describes beautiful balance, ‘massive’ ripe black fruits, giving it a 94 score. For those with a reliable cellaring situation (wine fridge or cellar) this is a real find.

Here is a stocking stuffer for you – Graham’s 10-Year-Old Tawny Port VINTAGES#:  17506 $11.95 Douro, Portugal. It is only 200mL – so two glasses. It gets 92 from James Molesworth of He describes dates, figs, plum, cinnamon with black tea and hazelnut.

Sherry lovers will be interested in Hidalgo Faraon Oloroso Sherry    VINTAGES#:  471078 $21.95 Jerez, Spain (500 mL). This is a dry sherry where might expect creamy flan notes, persimmon, quince, dates, hazelnut and bitter orange- with a long, layered finish. James Molesworth provided the description above to a previous bottling and scored it 93, however, since sherry production is specifically designed to blend wines of consistent style and quality you can expect this one to be very similar.

Sparkling Wines

Two Proseccos on offer from the esteemed Valdobbiadene Superiore DOCG:

Nino Franco Brut Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore  VINTAGES#:  277574 $23.95 Veneto, Italy was ranked #1 on Wine Enthusiast Top 100 list for 2019. Kerin O’Keefe describes pear, citrus aromas and crisp yellow-apple, lemon and orange on a vibrant palate.

. Belcanto di Bellussi Extra Dry Prosecco di Valdobbiadene Superiore   VINTAGES#:  53215 $19.95 Veneto, Italy is bright and fruity. I like the Extra Dry aspect myself.

A reasonably priced alternative to Champagne, Marie-Pierre Manciat Brut Crémant de Bourgogne  VINTAGES#:  402362 $26.95 Burgundy, France gets 92 from Lisa Isabelle of who describes caramel apple, lemon and toasty biscuit from time on the lees. Ripe apple and brioche will add some complexity. Lisa describes good balance and long, full finish. Good value.

White Wines


Cave Spring is one of Canada’s premier Chardonnay producers and this one sounds like a real winner – Cave Spring Estate Chardonnay 2018 VINTAGES#:  256552 $19.95 Ontario, Canada. Louise Boutin of gives it a 91 and describes rich orchard fruit, anise and vanilla on the nose with ripe pear and peach not the palate with hits of citrus. Balanced with a lasting finish where anise and vanilla notes linger.


If you are a fan of full-bodied and rich with the typical California butter, oaky profile you will be interested in these two. First Press Napa Chardonnay 2018 VINTAGES#:  199810 $24.95 California, USA and Harken Barrel Fermented Chardonnay 2018  VINTAGES#:  16957 $21.95 California, USA.


Chile’s cool climate Leyda Valley can produce Sauvignon Blanc along the Marlborough herbal profile. Boya Sauvignon Blanc 2019   VINTAGES#:  389726 $14.95 Leyda Valley, Chile gets a 91 score from who describe herbal and citrys notes with good acidity. At this price expect ‘cheap and cheerful’ (in a good way!)


Mountadam High Eden Estate Chardonnay 2016   VINTAGES#:  333211 $29.95 South Australia, Australia gets a whopping 97 score from James Halliday of Other reviews are more restrained coming in around the 90 point mark. Halliday describes it as powerful with white peach and grapefruit. He calls it Special Value.

New Zealand

Two interesting Sauvignon Blancs on offer – Blind River Sauvignon Blanc 2018 VINTAGES#:  141499 $22.95 Marlborough, New Zealand has an oaked component to it adding texture and complexity. gives it a 94 and describes pronounced mineral, green pepper and nettle character with subtle fruit. Fans of the bold grassy, herbal Sauvignon profile will be interested in this one. Hãhã Sauvignon Blanc 2019  VINTAGES#:  388363 $19.95 Marlborough, New Zealand gets a 93 from Sam Kim of wineorbit who describes a fruitier profile with lime, passionfruit and lemon; an intense and vibrant palate with excellent fruit purity. Pick your profile or experiment and compare the 2 styles.

South Africa

Two Chenin Blanc on offer – the signature white grape of South Africa. Jardin Inspector Péringuey Chenin Blanc 2019   VINTAGES#:  443473 $17.95 Stellenbosch, South Africa has tropical fruit, buttered popcorn, vanilla and oak tones according to the Vintages panel. Excellent value. Expect Vondeling Petit Blanc Chenin Blanc 2019    VINTAGES#:  16011 $14.95 Voor-Paardeberg, South Africa to be fruitier and tang-ier with peach, guava, melon, citrus and floral tones.


*** Have some fun here and compare the Petit Blanc Chenin Blanc above to Ambroisie Vouvray 2017  VINTAGES#:  15616 $16.95 Loire, France. Same grape but I would expect the French style to be more refined and restrained but still showing fruit (pear, quince) and minerality (from Vintages notes).

Great value here in Thierry Delaunay Touraine Sauvignon Blanc 2019   VINTAGES#:  391847 $16.95 Loire, France that gest a 90 score from David Lawrason of He describes ‘complexity and richness without numbing sauvignon character’. Spearmint, lime, dill and caper aromas with a fresh, lively palate with ‘excellent flavour depth’. Compare the restraint here that doesn’t sacrifice the experience with the bolder New Zealand Sauvignon Blancs above.

For Pinot Gris fans the epitome of Pinot Gris is on offer from Alsace Trimbach Réserve Pinot Gris 2016 VINTAGES#:  971762 $ 31.95 Alsace, France. Anne Krehiehl of Wine Enthusiast gave it a 93 and describe ripe Mirabelle plum and pear on the nose and concentrated taut palate.

Here is a chance for Chardonnay lovers to experience a classic French Chardonnay. Domaine Jean-Pierre Sève Terroir Pouilly-Fuissé 2017   VINTAGES#:  681056 $34.95 Burgundy, France. Pouilly-Fuissé is a highly respected AC in the Mâconnais  sub-region of Burgundy. This is an entry level Pouilly-Fuissé but you should still expect refined elegance here with subtle fruit and nicely integrated subtle oak.

Red Wines


If you want to support local consider Featherstone Red Tail Merlot 2017    VINTAGES#:  131540 $19.95 Ontario, Canada that gets a 92 from Vic Harradine of He describes spice and rich dark berries on the nose an rich, ripe fruity palate with tang and baking spice. He calls it ‘a value-packed gem’.


Excellent value in Monasterio de las Viñas Special Selection Old Vine Garnacha 2016 VINTAGES#:  10635 $16.95 Cariñena, Spain. Monasterio wines are a staple at many of my casual wine events. This one gets a 90 from Jeb Dunnock who describes mulled cherries, dried earth and licorice on the nose and a polished palate. Over- delivers!

Thomas Mathews of gives Muriel Fincas de la Villa Reserva 2015 VINTAGES#:  276030$20.9 Rioja, Spain a93 score and describes it as generous, rich and round with cherry, fried currant, licorice, vanilla and spices flavours. Grab a few- you can enjoy now through 2030.

Alceño 12 Meses Monastrell 2016  VINTAGES#:  398925 $15.95 Jumilla, Spain gets a 92 from James Suckling who describes bright plums and blackberries with a vibrant, juicy, fine-boned appeal. Apparently has the weight to drink now of hold for a few years.


Portugal continues to offer good value in Fiuza Eminente Reserva Tinto 2017 VINTAGES#:  646042 $15.95 Tejo, Portugal. Roger Voss of Wine Enthusiast gives it a 90 score describing a seriously structured wine with rich, black plum fruits. Best Buy. This was a forcefully wine when he tasted it Nov 2019, so maybe plan to serve this one with a stew or a roast.


Tedeschi Capitel Nicalò Valpolicella Superiore 2018  VINTAGES#:  984997 $17.95 Veneto, Italy gets a Best Value Wine nod and a score of 90 from Natalie Maclean who describes a smooth, mouth-watering Valpolicella with dark Cherry, savoury herbs, mocha and pepper spice.

Barone Ricasoli Rocca Guicciarda Riserva Chianti Classico 2017  VINTAGES#:  943613 $24.95 Tuscany, Italy gets a 92 from James Suckling has a mouthwatering description of ripe red plums, walnut, flower and ‘light peanut undertones’. Medium body with ‘fine tannins….creamy body, polished finish.’ This is about as good as it gets at this price for a Riserva Chianti Classico!

This Amastuola Primitivo 2016  VINTAGES#:  300004 $16.95 Puglia, Italy is a no brainer for me for several reasons. 1) I am newly fascinated and enthusiastic about Primitivo (same grape as Zinfandel but Italian style is much, drier more balanced and reserved than the California style). 2) Judges unanimously awarded this Gold at the Sommelier Wine Awards 2019 and I have so much respect for the knowledge and passion of sommeliers! 3) Look at the price! The sommelier notes describe describe it as dry and lean, fresh with black fruits, good acidity and some savoury notes of olives, pine and eucalyptus. Plan to enjoy this style with a meal be it pizza, roast beef or pasta.


Two offerings from Vacqueyras, Southern Rhone region. Vacqueyras is a designated ‘cru’ region along with Gigondas, where they style is very similar to Chateauneuf-du-Pape and the quality can rival the more famous appelation.

So think about the value in Famille Perrin Les Christins Vacqueyras 2017  VINTAGES#:  973453 $24.95 Rhône, France that scored a 92 from Josh Reynolds or Paul Jaboulet Aîné Les Cypres Vacqueyras 2016  VINTAGES#:  15450 $28.95 Rhône, France that gets a 90 from Joe Czerwinski of compared to an entery level Chateau-neuf-du-Pape at $40 +.

Still in Southern Rhone with Grenache blends Xavier Vignon Côtes du Rhône 2018 VINTAGES#:  297317 $17.95 Rhône, France gets a 91 from James Suckling. He describes violets, blueberries on the nose and fresh, juicy dark cherry and cassis on the palate. Anything with Xavier in the name is guaranteed to be carefully and ‘correctly’ crafted.


Australian reds in this offering all rate very highly but there are a couple that represent Special Value.

Turkey Flat Butchers Block Red Blend 2017   VINTAGES#:  90241 $19.95 South Australia, Australia gets a 95 from James Halliday. This is a Shiraz, Grenache Mataro blend from 150 year old vines. Halliday describes red, blue, black berry fruits with subtle oak and gentle tannins.

Vic Harradine gives a 93 to Jim Barry Barry Bros Shiraz 2017  VINTAGES#:  16036 $19.95 South Australia, Australia. He describes a ‘brambly’ nose with violet and red cherry. Lots of superlatives here – ‘gorgeously textured, value infused’, ‘excellent tang’, ‘beautiful finish’.

Vic also gives 3 Rings Shiraz 2017   VINTAGES#:  15495 $17.95 South Australia, Australia a 90 score for its nose of dark berry fruit, mixed spices and savoury herbs. The palate is pronounced black currant ja, dark chocolate with hints of kirsch liqueur. He goes on to describe the finish as balanced and long. This one sounds like it has been crafted to be a crowd pleaser.


Another Uco Valley winner in Clos de los Siete 2017  VINTAGES#:  622571 $24.95 Mendoza, Argentina. James Suckling scored it a 95 with lots of superlatives about black and blue berries, chocolate, hazelnut. Polished tannins with a beautiful reserved, long finish. Drink now or cellar for a few years. What’s not to like here?

James Suckling also gave El Enemigo Los Paraisos Bonarda 2016 VINTAGES#:  17286 $21.95 Mendoza, Argentina a 95 score. He describes it as smoky, earthy with dried mushrooms and wet earth. Long finish, meaty, fluid and gorgeous. -Bonarda is the second most planted grape in Argentina and can be fruity and/or big and bold. This one from old vines seems to pack a fair bit of heft. Try it with a winter stew or roast.

Wine Picks <$35 from LCBO Vintages Release Nov 28 2020

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