LCBO Vintages Release April 3 2021 features California and ‘food friendly wines’.
California and good value don’t always go hand in hand when you are buying in Canadian dollars. All is not lost though! Food friendly is mostly an old world style- not the juicy, smooth fruit bombs that are often marketed in North America. Italy and France are both showing well in this release. Take the ‘food friendly’ to heart- these wine are usually well structured, dry, fresh wines that complement a meal and vice versa-not in the deck and dock sipping category.
Here are my picks for good value wines under $35 from this release.
If you try any of these wines leave a comment below to let others know how you liked it! Or if you have found another gem in the LCBO share that too!
Château Bellevue La Forêt Rosé 20207 VINTAGES#: 219840 $14.95 Southwest, France is a dry well balanced red blend with strawberry and blackberry notes. Described as vibrant and fruity you might want to pick up a few a this price for your summer luncheons or picnics.
Premium Ontario Chardonnay is on offer this release in Bachelder Niagara Chardonnay 2018 VINTAGES#: 302083 $24.95 Ontario, Canada. David Lawrason of Wine Align gibes it a 91 and describes a balanced, complex Chardonnay. Vanilla, nougat, pear vague smoke on the nose. A creamy yet firm and dry palate with good length and some minerality on the finish.
If you are in the mood for a California style Chardonnay Parducci Small Lot Chardonnay 2018 VINTAGES#: 17577 $19.95 is described as Full-bodied and rich with wildflowers, pear, apple, honey and vanilla.
New Zealand has a few Sauvignon Blancs competing for our attention.
OTU Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2019 VINTAGES#: 17549 $17.95 Marlborough, New Zealand wins the value award with a 94 from Sam Kim or wineorbit.co.nz. He calls it a stunning expression and describes passionfruit, nectarine, green rockmelon and lime on the nose with impressive fruit on the palate. Concentration, fruit purity and refreshing acidity and a ‘superbly’ long finish all add to the value equation here. He describes a similar fuity/lime profile for SOHO White Collection Peggy Sauvignon Blanc 2020 VINTAGES#: 144386 $19.95 Marlborough, New Zealand and gives it a 93. -Still terrific value.
Leaning a bit more on the premium end of the scale is Sileni Straits Grand Reserve Sauvignon Blanc 2019 VINTAGES#: 17550 $23.95 gets a 92 from Tina Gellie of Decanter.com. She describes a mix of mango, peach and herbaceousness on the nose. Gravel, loam and silt soils, time on the lees add complexity to the palate.
My favourite Muscadet Sèvre et Maine may be gaining it popularity – the typical $14-$16 range seems to be edging up to the $18-$20 range. Still good value but it risks hitting the upper value limit since its charming, zesty, neutral can only take it so far. Nonetheless – I will be looking to pick up some Domaine des Tilleuls Les Vénérables Vieilles Vignes Sur Lie Muscadet Sèvre et Maine 2017 VINTAGES#: 18546 $18 Loire, France. Roger Voss gives it a 91 and credits 40-79 year old vines for the delicious fruitiness, lemon character and refreshing acidity.
A couple of interesting white wines from Italy. Neither will havign you oohing and ahhing over their complexity but they should enhance your lunch! Vesevo Beneventano Falanghina 2019 VINTAGES#: 289538 16.95, Campania, Italy won a Blue Gold at the Sydney International Wine Competition. From what I can find- that is an award for the food friendliest wine. They have it paired with a Chicken Rillette recipe. Expect a lemon, citrus, fresh wine. Pitars Friulano San Cristoforo 2018 Friuli, Italy VINTAGES#: 17700 $16.95 gets a 90 from James Suckling. Expect a crisp peach, apple, lemon luncheon wine.
Argentina is offering its typical good value in Artesano de Argento Organic Malbec/Cabernet Franc 2018 VINTAGES#: 17463 $ 16.95 Mendoza, Argentina. International Wine Challenge 2020 gave it a 92 citing a violet, aromatic nose, a floral palate with chocolate and cedar. I expect this will be a solid pour with the 30% Cab France adding some interest to the blend.
For a straight Malbec consider Salentein Reserve Malbec 2018 VINTAGES#: 640854 $17.95 Uco Valley, Mendoza, Argentina that gets a 91 from Patricio Tapia. Full-bodied and smooth with lots of red fruit.
Susan Balbo is also hitting it out of the value park with Susana Balbo Signature Cabernet Sauvignon 2018 VINTAGES#: 260919 $20.95 Mendoza, Argentina. James Suckling give it 94 and describes blackcurrants, walnut, earthiness and mushrooms. Tight and integrated this is a drink or hold. Decant a hour or so before serving if drinking now… or watch it unfold in your glass!
Carmenère can have some green pepper, unripe characteristics but it is becoming more commericially friendly in recent years. Laura Hartwig Single Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 2017 VINTAGES#: 13428 $15.95 Colchagua Valley, Chile. This appears to aim to please. James Suckling give it a 92 and describes chocolate, blackberry and red bell pepper (which I expect would be much softer than the more characteristic green pepper). Creamy tannins, walnut… if you are looking to explore a new varietal this is a great place to start with this one.
Sam Kim gives high marks to 2 Barossa Valley Shiraz’. JJ Hahn Section 72 Shiraz 2018 VINTAGES#: 15995 $17.95 South Australia, Australia gets a 92 and he calls it elegantly complex, with dark plum, cherry, game and nutmeg on the nose. A juicy palate with lovely fruity intensity and silky tannins. Thorn-Clarke Shotfire Shiraz 2016 VINTAGES#: 18796 $22.95 South Australia, Australia gets a 94 for a few dollars more. He calls this one a gorgeous, opulent shiraz with dark fruit, spice, hints of chocolate , cedar and vanilla. a few more superlatives- succulent, sumptuous, fleshy and wonderful.
Domaine Dozon Clos du Saut au Loup Chinon Rouge 2018 VINTAGES#: 19046 $23.95 is another chance to expand your palate. This 100% Cab Franc from the Loire region is getting consistently 90+ points among reviewers. Cab Franc is the up and coming darling of the red wine world, slowly but consistently gaining more attention. Roger Voss give this one a 92 and describes a ripe wine with spicy black-berry flavour, soft tannins well integrated. A concentrated, smooth pour. Drink now.
The Rhone value award this release goes to Lavau Vacqueyras 2017 VINTAGES#: 104927 $26.95J Rhône, France. Linedup behind Châteauneuf-du-Pape (C-d-p) and Gigondas in the prestige category it offers a similar albeit less elegant GSM blend. Compare the C-d-p at $57 and the Gigondas at $35 dollars in this same release. James Suckling gives this one a 92 and describes orange blossom, ginger, red cherry and raspberry aromas with a juicy smooth palate culminating in blood-orange and bitter chocolate on the finish.
Another palate expander – Planeta Frappato Vittoria 2018 VINTAGES#: 508655 $24.95 Sicily, Italy. Frappato is a Sicilian grape that is often associated with strawberry, roses and orange blossoms. This one scores consistently in the 90s year after year. Kerin O’Keefe of Wine Enthusiast gives it a 93 and describes strawberry, cherry, white pepper along with some smoke and pomegranate. Silky, bright and fresh- Editor’s Choice.