Wine Picks <$35 from LCBO Vintages Release December 12 2020

The LCBO Vintages Release December 12 2020 has some interesting offerings. So I am going to feature a premium section for the wines you might want to splurge on along with the regular best value focused section.

The next release will be January 9 2021 when the ‘wine gods’ will take pity on us and feature Smart Buys!

Sparkling Wines

3 interesting options :

Gloria Ferrer Blanc De Noirs    LCBO#:  518596 $34.25 California, USA is traditional method that John Szabo of gives a 91 and describes an intriguing nose with ripe red berry and toasty-yeasty autolytics; a rich and creamy palate with impressive depth and length.

Trius Brut Rosé Sparkling VINTAGES#:  17690 $29.95 Ontario, Canada also gets a 91 from John Szabo so why not go local here and enjoy the raspberry-strawberry-pomegranate he describes with good complexity, taut on the palate and minimal dosage.

Albino Armani Extra Dry Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore  VINTAGES#:  16602 $22.95 Friuli, Italy sounds like a good bet that Kerin O’Keefe gives a 90 and describes white stone-fruit, spring blossom and wet stone on the nose as well as a creamy palate with peach apple and candied tangerine.

Fortified Wines

I fell in love with Vermouth on a visit to Spain so González Byass La Copa Reserva Vermouth    (750 mL) VINTAGES#:  17510 $24.95 Jerez, Spain sounds intriguing to me with its savory, clove, wormwood, orange, nutmeg, cinnamon, angelica and quina descriptors. Yum… makes a nice aperatif over ice with an orange slice I’m sure!

González Byass Nutty Solera Medium Oloroso Sherry 750 mL  bottle   |   VINTAGES#:  35204 $19.95 Jerez, Spain also sounds intriguing with toasted nuts, mocha, caramel, clove and all spice on the nose. Medium sweet and nicely balanced for sipping. And don’t forget this would be a great addition to any sauce or recipe.

You don’t see a Pedro Ximenez dessert wine on offer every day so this Alvear Pedro Ximenez de Añada 2015 375 mL  bottle   |   VINTAGES#:  499152 $24.95 Montilla-Moriles, Spain is a chance to try something different. Michael Schachner of Wine Enthusiast gives it a 92 and describes caramel, maple, toffee on the nose and palate. Expect this to be rich and lush. Serve with blue cheese, dried apricots, toasted almonds, or pour over ice cream!

Premium Selections

White Wines

Chardonnay lovers can’t go wrong with 2027 Cellars Wismer Vineyard FoxCroft Block Chardonnay 2018   VINTAGES#:  17663 $24.95 Ontario, Canada. Rick Van Sickle of gives it a 94 and describes a complex nose and palate featuring pear, toasted almond, citrus, toasted spices. Flinty minerality, salinity and finesse. This is a great example of some of the best Chardonnay Ontario has to offer.

Sidewood Estate is synonymous with premium cool climate wines from Adelaide Hills. The Mappinga line are from limited yields with attention to detail and ‘meticulous barrel selection’. Sidewood Mappinga Chardonnay 2017    VINTAGES#:  688291 $25.95 South Australia, Australia gets 96 from Vic Harradine of who calls it a ‘exceptional-value wine’. He describes baking spice, baked apple and ripe pear on the nose; the palates shows lemon zest and Royal Gala apple with some peach and spice. All that and a ‘lingering, luscious finish’.

Here is a chance to experience a Premier Cru white burgundy (Chardonnay) from one of Montagny’s top Premier Cru vineyards. Ruris Amor Les Burnins Montagny 1er Cru 2016  VINTAGES#:  16198 $29.95 Burgundy, France. Vintages describe ripe fruit, white floral notes and nutty undertones. Reviewers describe it as simple for a Premier Cru but fully displays French elegance and structure.

New Zealand’s Dashwood Sauvignon Blanc 2019  VINTAGES#:  465989 $23.95 Marlborough, New Zealand gets a 90 from MaryAnn Worobiec of She describes it as aromatic and distinctive with honeysuckle, litsea oil, Meyer lemon, peach and apricot on the nose and palate. Generous and intense. She calls it a Best Value to drink now.

Red Wines

At the top of our featured range, this Gran Reserva got a 94 from James Suckling. He describes spices, vanilla, black fruit and cherry liqueur. Despite the mandatory 2 year aging in oak followed by 3 years in bottle before release this is still a Cellar Selection recommended for drinking after 2024. LAN Gran Reserva 2011  VINTAGES#:  928622 $34.95 Rioja, Spain.

Gigondas AOC is often described as ‘the little brother’ to Châteauneuf-du-Pape so expect quality to rival CdP at a substantially lower price. Josh Raynolds of gives Famille Perrin La Gille Gigondas 2018   VINTAGES#:  906073 $29.95 Rhône, France a 92-94 score and describes assertive fruit, herb and white pepper on the nose with intense raspberry, black cherry on the palate. Elegant in style with ‘floral-driven tenacity on its gently tannic finish’. In the mood for French elegance – try this one!

In the mood for a classic French Pinot Noir? Edouard Delaunay Septembre Bourgogne Pinot Noir 2018    VINTAGES#:  17485 $25.95 Burgundy, France gets a 91 from Decanter where Georgina Hindle describes juicy freshness, silky tannins that support well-structured fruit flavours. Clean and precise with great typicity.

Bordeaux Cellar selection in this Cru Bourgeois Château Cambon la Pelouse Haut-Médoc 2016  VINTAGES#:  16217 $34.95 Bordeaux, France. It ranked # 16 in Wine Enthusiast’s Top 100 Wines of 2019. Roger Voss gave it a 93 and calls it rich with generous tannins and dense black-plum fruit along with a hint of chocolate. Some reviewers suggest you could drink it could certainly benefit from another year or 2 in the cellar and hold for another 5.

Australia is also offering Richard Hamilton Little Road Shiraz 2018  VINTAGES#:  16056 $22.95 South Australia, Australia that gets a 95 from Jane Faulkner of who calls it Special Value and describes juicy red and black fruit, ripe tannins, choc-mint notes and plenty of intensity. She suggest a drinking window now through 2028.

Sam Kim or has high praise for Zonte’s Footstep Hills Are Alive Shiraz 2017 VINTAGES#:  522342 $23.95 South Australia, Australia and gives it a 95. Choose from descriptors like :…’ rich, opulent, complex bouquet of dark fruit, cocoa smoked game, spice and olive; sumptuous palate, outstanding fruit concentration, velvety…sensual mouthfeel. Drinking window now through 2030. Sounds like a wine for date night!

Value Selections

White Wines

Riesling lovers will be in for a treat with Château des Charmes Old Vines Riesling 2015  VINTAGES#:  277228 $18.95 Ontario, Canada. Rick Van Sickle of gives it a 91 and describes lime, lemon green apple and profound minerality on the nose; a zippy, fresh palate with a touch of honey along with lime, grapefruit, ginger and stony minerality. Sounds like classic Ontario Riesling, which we do well! And he suggest it has another 5 years of graceful aging to it!

Natalie Maclean calls Chateau Ste. Michelle Chardonnay 2018    VINTAGES#:  232439 $19.95 Washington, USA a fantastic value (scored 90) and describes lush ripe red apple, pear, toffee, lemon pudding and toast with good length.

We are in luck if we are looking for a reliable good value white wine to serve with our Holiday fowl or seafood. As you may know I think Muscadet Sèvre et Maine is one of the most reliable best value wines going. Domaine de la Tourmaline Muscadet Sèvre & Maine Sur Lie 2018 VINTAGES#:  448555 $16.95 Loire, France gets a 91 from Decanter World Wine Awards, 2019 who describe it as lively with lovely ripe pear and melon.

Domaine du Pré Baron Sauvignon Blanc Touraine 2019  VINTAGES#:  107128 $18.95 Loire, France got a Gold from the Sommelier Wine Awards 2020. Various notes describe fleshy fruit (gooseberry, tropical and citrus) with typical herbaceous notes. ( A Sancerre wannabe?)

Thornbury Sauvignon Blanc 2020    VINTAGES#:  734798 $18.95 Marlborough, New Zealand is recognizes as perennial good value with aromatic and tangy tropical fruit, grapefruit and intense herbaceous notes. Classic Marlborough.

There is fantastic value in Ken Forrester Old Vine Reserve Chenin Blanc 2019  VINTAGES#:  231282 $17.95 Stellenbosch, South Africa. John Szabo of give is a 92 calling it ‘extraordinary value’ with ‘complexity rarely encountered under $20’. He describes it as rich and fresh, creamy yet taut, fine-grained and lengthy. He also suggest you can drink it now but might become even more interesting after a couple more years in the bottle. At this price… need I suggest stocking up?

Avondale Jonty’s Ducks Pekin White 2017 VINTAGES#:  439554 $16.95 Paarl, South Africa would make an excellent choice for your Christmas turkey or fowl. A blend of Chenin Blanc, Roussanne, Semillon and Viognier makes it robust and aromatic with tree fruit and melon notes.

Red Wines

Cabernet Franc is steadily becoming the darling of Ontario winemaking so Family Tree The Padré Cabernet/Merlot 2018  VINTAGES#:  18667 $18.95 Ontario, Canada from the Speck Bros. should be interesting. Vintages call it a big and bold blend of Cab Franc, Cab Sauv and Merlot aged 16 month in oak. Natalie Maclean gives it a 92, calls it seriously gorgeous and describes aromas of black fruit and smoke.

This is a medium bodied, fruity choice for everyday sipping or celebrating. James Suckling gives Honoro Vera Monastrell 2018  VINTAGES#:  167684 $14.95 Jumilla, Spain. This Monastrell (known as Mourvèdre in other parts of the world) has ripe cherries along with gentle smoke and ‘we dark-stone edge’. Suckling also describes a rich palate with tangy raspberry and red plum. Drink or hold- so stock up at this price.

Australia’s Sister’s Run are always reliable, reasonably priced choices. Sister’s Run Calvary Hill Shiraz 2018    VINTAGES#:  222018 $19.95 South Australia, Australia won Gold at China Wine & Sprits Awards, 2020 and notes describe ‘..classic Barossa style with generous fruit, peppercorn and dark chocolate; soft, smooth tannins.

Sister’s Run Epiphany Shiraz 2018   VINTAGES#:  269464 $17.95 South Australia, Australia gets a 93 from Winemaker Challenge International Wine Competition, 2020 and is expected to deliver ripe dark fruit, sort ripe tannins in a highly approachable style.

As a Rioja Reserva Barón de Ley Reserva 2015   VINTAGES#:  958868 $21.95 Rioja, Spain has spent one year oak aging and two years in bottle before release so you can see the pricing spectrum between Reserva and Gran Reserva above. Thomas Matthews of gives this a 92 and describes plush texture, ripe flavours and graceful, spicy finish. Plum, currant, fig, licorice and graphite add to the complexity. Matthews also notes well balanced tannins and gentle acidity. You can drink this one now or cellar another 5 years. Not bad for $21.95!!

Portugal delivers value as we have come to expect in Cabeça de Toiro Reserva 2016  VINTAGES#:  168856 $17.95 Tejo, Portugal. Roger Voss of Wine Enthusiast gives this a 92 and describes it as big, bold and juicy with rich tannins and black fruit; balanced acidity and a spicy finish. It is a drink now that would pair nicely with all your beef or lamb holiday dinners or a charcuterie platter.

South Africa’s Cathedral Cellar Triptych 2016    VINTAGES#:  53124 $17.95 Western Cape, South Africa gets a 92 from Tim Atkins of who describes it as youthful, structured, oaky with lots of dark berry fruit, liquorice and Asian Spices. Drinking window now through 2026.

Jeb Dunnuck gives Halos de Jupiter Côtes du Rhône 2018  VINTAGES#:  276956 $17.95 Rhône, France an 89-91 range (because it had not yet been bottled). He describes a classic Rhone profile with purity of fruit, classic peppery herb and floral notes.

Château Belot Vignalet 2018   VINTAGES#:  15352 $17.95 Languedoc, France is a Syrah 50% , Grenache 35% and Mourvedre 15% blend that is described as complex with dark fruit, and hints of cedar tobacco and spice. A medium-bodied, fruity sipper at a good price.

Value priced Bordeaux cellar selection in Château Hyot Réserve 2015 VINTAGES#:  14667 $17.95 Bordeaux, France. Roger Voss gives it a 91 and describes it as well-balanced with rich black fruit, concentration and acidity layered with licorice and toast flavours. Drink from 2022.

In the mood for a California Cabernet Sauvignon? Check out Hahn Cabernet Sauvignon 2018   VINTAGES#:  57877 $19.95 California, USA that gets a 91 from Decanter World Wine Awards who describe plummy, smoky warmth, blackberries, sweet spice, cigar box and creamy mouthfeel. Sounds like a crowd pleaser.

Knotty Vines Cabernet Sauvignon 2017   VINTAGES#:  16193 $21.95 California, USA (Rodney Strong Vineyards) has some Merlot, Petite Sirah and Zinfandel in the mix adding to the complex ripe black fruit, oak spice, toast, coffee and chocolate. Bold, rich and concentrated. Sounds like another crowd pleaser.

Wine Picks <$35 from LCBO Vintages Release December 12  2020

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