Wine Picks LCBO Release March 31, 2018

With this LCBO Vintages Release for March 31, 2018 I am highlighting 26 wines scoring 90 points or more, many of which are in the $20 and under range.  And – want to see how you turn a $20 bottle of wine into a $40 bottle of wine? 

Let’s Talk About Aging Wines

Price Advantage

There are 10 wines featured in the Golden Oldies feature with prices ranging from $22 – $100.  The Merryvale Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 tops out the list at $99.95.  A quick check on  shows the 2010 and the 2012 release both scored on average 90 points. The 2010 to buy today is on average $10 (CDN) more  than the 2012.  If you extrapolate on that -say the price  increases $5/year- if you had been able to buy it 5 years ago you might have paid $25 less for the bottle.

Banfi Brunellos are another good example.  When Brunellos are first released in Ontario with the cellaring recommendation a 90 point plus example  can be bought for $32-$42.  If you buy an aged Brunello ie ready-to -drink a 2010 costs about $55 to buy today.

I bought the Cellar Suggestion from The Wine Lover’s Kitchen June2016 post for Wakefield Cabernet Sauvignon 2014, Scored 94 for $18.95.  A current  search of LCBO inventory shows there is still good availability for the 2014 but the price is now 24.95.


Besides the price advantage of cellaring there is also the question of quality and availability.

Many wine experts believe we drink our wines too young in general. Even though the recommendation may be to drink or hold, if the description is Full Bodied and Firm  or Food Friendly – it would probably benefit from more time in the bottle.

If the drinking window suggests several more years area possible, chances are the wine is on the young side and will continue to evolve.  It doesn’t mean you can’t drink it now but it may peak in another couple of years.


The next question to consider is – even if the price advantage doesn’t matter to you will you be able to source the particular wine several years from now?

The Wakefield Jarman Cabernet Sauvignon 2013, recommended in The Wine Lover’s Kitchen October 2016 Cellar Suggestions scored 94 for $24.95. It came with a recommendation to cellar 5 to 10 years. The LCBO no longer shows any inventory for this vintage.  The 2015 vintage scored 90 and is available for $24.95.  Which one would you rather enjoy in 2020?

The Moral of the Story

is…..for the price of an okay (or maybe even not so okay) bottle of wine in a restaurant + a some time and patience – you can have a great bottle of wine.

Maybe the Cellar Suggestions section holds a bit more appeal now? If so, cellaring wine can be a complex affair but it doesn’t have to be.

You can start with a wine rack in a cool, dark place like a root cellar or you can opt for a wine fridge that will keep your wines temperature controlled for you. And then there is the wine-cellar-porn – beautiful, cavernous rooms outfitted with tasting tables and 100s of bottles of wine.  Sigh….

Wine Picks

Use this link to check out availability of wines closest to you – LCBO store locator. Just enter the product number and your postal code to get a list of stores closest to you that have it in stock.



544064 Not Rated $15.95

This was not rated but for the price you can’t go wrong here. think Easter Brunch!  Vintages panel tasting notes: Here’s a bubbly that’s perfect for springtime. Aromas of juicy apricot, spring flowers and cotton candy just can’t wait to come leaping out of the glass. Ripe cantaloupe and tangy red grapefruit join in on the palate. Lightly chill and sip, or pour with seafood tempura or pasta primavera. Light & Fruity

White Wines


711556 (XD)                Score 94   $15.95

Vic Harradine of awarded this wine 4/5 stars calling it “… a generously textured, mouth-filling stream of crisp, refreshing flavour … Aromas of tropical fruit, ginger and nutmeg abound. They precede a medium-full bodied, tapestry of palate-bathing flavour – white nectarine, apple pie spice, nutty notes and gorgeous lemony tang. It’s well balanced, well priced and well…delicious. Long story short – pick up a few.” Score: 94  from Winemaker Challenge International Wine Competition, 2017 Full-bodied & Rich


540823   (XD)     Score: 92     $14.95
Patricio Tapia, Descorchados describes ‘Concentrated and herbal with lemon-like acidity. If you like mojitos, you’ll love this sauvignon.  Aromatic & Flavourful

BABICH BLACK LABEL PINOT GRIS 2016 (Marlborough, South Island, New Zealand)

447417 (D)           Score 92    $19.95
Bob Campbell, MW of describes ‘Rich and flavoursome wine with ripe
pear, guava and quince flavours. A smooth-textured wine with impressive weight and an intriguing hint of spice on the finish. Drink 2017 to 2021.  Full-bodied & Rich


065086    (XD)  Score: 91         $19.95

James Suckling of describes ‘A delicious and fruity white with sliced apple, pear and delicate cream undertones. Medium body. Crisp finish. Made from a blend of chardonnay and pinot bianco. Drink now.’  Light & Crisp

995746   (M)      Score: 91    $22.95
Aleksandar Zecevic of describes “A pure, well-sculpted, off-dry version, with persimmon, lime and slate flavors coating the palate. Hints of orchard blossom and herbs add to the complexity, making you reach for another sip. Drink now through 2024. Smart Buy.’
Aromatic & Flavourful

BACHELDER NIAGARA CHARDONNAY 2015 (VQA Niagara Peninsula, Canada)

302083   (XD)      Score 91    $24.95

Carolyn Evans Hammond of says ‘… It’s a stunning cool-climate Chardonnay. The restrained scents of lemon zest, salt and stone; smooth almost oily texture; and understated
flavours of lemon oil, buttered popcorn and white peach purée – all shot through with balancing acidity makes it taste instantly alluring and supremely drinkable. For a surefire pairing, serve it with broiled seafood with lots of butter for dipping.’  Full-bodied & Rich

FEUDO MACCARI GRILLO 2016 (IGP Terre Siciliane, Italy)

477877    (XD)      Score 90          $14.95

James Suckling of describes ‘A dense and fruity grillo with dried mango and cooked pear character. Full body and flavorful. Drink now.’ Aromatic & Flavourful

WILDASS RIESLING 2016   (VQA Niagara Peninsula, Canada)
129700  (M)     Score 90      $17.95

Vic Harradine of describes ‘Sharp spice and floral aromas waft from this just-barely off-dry, value-packed, Niagara riesling. It streaks across the palate with great élan,
blood orange, tart lemon-lime, notions of white peach and flinty minerality mingling with white peach and ripe pear. It’s medium bodied with good texture and a clean, crisp finish and aftertaste. Pair with skillet-seared freshwater fish or grilled calamari.’ Aromatic & Flavourful

HUNTAWAY RESERVE SAUVIGNON BLANC 2014 (Marlborough, South Island, New Zealand) 

536276   (XD)      Score: 90            $19.95

Tasting note from say ‘Part of the Lion wine portfolio, Huntaway is made at Wither Hills by Matt Large, fourth generation of a family of rose growers in
Marlborough; he previously worked as head winemaker at Kim Crawford. This hits the stylistic mark of Marlborough sauvignon blanc, rounded by ripe sweetness, feeling rich rather than sugary, with plenty of passion fruit, orange and grapefruit flavor. It’s layered, open and ready to enjoy.’  Aromatic & Flavourful

HOWARD PARK FLINT ROCK CHARDONNAY 2016 (Mount Barker, Great Southern,
Western Australia)

410027  (XD)    Score: 90            $22.95

Huon Hooke of describes ‘Fresh, fruit-driven lemony aroma, straightforward and vibrant. The palate is much the same: crisp, taut, fresh and lean, with vitality and fresh fruit but not a lot of complexity. Acidity is crisp and bracing. It calls for fish. Good value. Drink Date:2017-2023.’  Full-bodied & Rich


Red Wines

KAIKEN LAS ROCAS ULTRA MALBEC 2015 (Mendoza, Argentina)

050849    (XD)   Score: 93             $19.95

James Suckling of describes ‘Beautiful aromas of roses, plums and blueberries. Subtle. Medium to full body, very fine tannins and a clean finish. Wonderful finesse and polish. Shows the elegance of the vintage in a very positive way. Drink or hold.’  Full-bodied & Smooth

KILIKANOON PRODIGAL GRENACHE 2013 (Clare Valley, Australia)

482547    (XD)     Score 93        $24.95

(James Halliday of describes ‘Sweet red berried fruit, yes, but much more than that. This is a wine with the ability to pick its moments. It’s elegant for the most part, start and finish, but when it’s time to go, it pours on the boysenberried, earthen, spice-shot spearmint flavours, ushering fine-grained, smoky tannin along with them. Drink by 2025. Special Value.’
Full-bodied & Smooth

WEINERT CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2006 (Mendoza, Argentina)

656363   (XD)    Score: 93        $25.95
James Suckling of says ‘The classic winery of Mendoza made another winner here with licorice, mushroom, spice and berry character. Full body, fine tannins and
a fresh and spicy finish. Drink or hold.’  Full-bodied & Smooth


380188   (XD)  Score: 93   $29.95

Natalie MacLean of describes ‘A spectacular Californian Cabernet
that tastes like a cult classic but without the price tag. Aromas of fleshy black plum, blackberry and cigar box. Decant 1-2 hours and pair with a rare steak. Highly recommended. Drink by: 2022.’
Full-bodied & Firm

ALEJANDRO FERNÁNDEZ DEHESA LA GRANJA 2008 (Vino de la Tierra de Castilla y León, Spain)

192476    (XD)  Score: 92    $21.95

John Szabo, MS of describes ‘Generously spicy and wood-inflected, this is clean, cedar and sandalwood-scented, exotic and complex, with a wide range of fruit, earth, spice and
herb flavours. The palate has great presence, mouth filling and generous without heaviness, and terrific length. This is the best Dehesa I can remember tasting – a superb value. Really lovely, solid wine; beware the heavy sediment that has already been thrown – you’ll want to stand this up for a day and decant.’  Full-bodied & Smooth


481051  (XD)       Score: 91+      $24.95

Lisa Perrotti-Brown, MW of describes ‘Deep garnet-purple colored, the 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon Blocks Road is scented of black currant pastilles, blackberry pie and menthol
with hints of bay leaves and pencil shavings. The medium-bodied palate delivers a great intensity of black fruit and cedary flavors supported by firm, grainy tannins and a lively backbone, finishing with hints of dried herbs. Drink Date: 2017-2029.’  Full-bodied & Smooth

SEGHESIO SONOMA ZINFANDEL 2016 (Sonoma County, California, USA)

942151      (XD)     Score 90-91         $29.95

Vintages notes: …This super-popular Zinfandel is crafted using grapes sourced from prime sites across Sonoma. This selection allows Seghesio to really take advantage of the diversity of Sonoma’s remarkable terroir, letting the best of the region shine through. This is a wine that perennially balances drinkability with intensity. Expect flavours of lifted black fruit, with touches of herbs and pepper spice. To honour Seghesio’s Italian heritage, pair this with Italian-style slow-roasted ribs.’ Full-bodied & Smooth



541474  (XD)   Score: 90      $16.95
Ian D’Agata of describes ‘Good dark ruby-red. The pure, bright nose combines red cherry, raspberry, menthol and licorice. Fresh, juicy and approachable, but with sneaky concentration to the flavors of black cherry and sweet spices. Finishes long, with dusty tannins
and well-judged extraction. Lovely Montepulciano d’Abruzzo that’s hard to resist right now. Drinking window: 2016-2018.’ Medium-bodied & Fruity


528646     (XD)     Score 90     $16.95
Vintages panel notes: ‘ Bardolino is grown in the hills of Verona east of Lake Garda and is based on the same grapes as Valpolicella. This elegant little stunner serves up plenty of fresh red cherry, black plum, grilled herbs and licorice along with a hint of fruity bubblegum. Enjoy with pasta primavera in an herbed tomato-cream sauce, or simply chill lightly and sip on a hot day.’
Light-bodied & Fruity

THE LACKEY SHIRAZ 2016 (Australia)

005199  (XD)     Score 90      $17.95

Natalie MacLean of describes ‘Big, bold and black fruit with delicious fleshy ripeness wrapped in toasty oak. Polished tannins. Black pepper with a hint of eucalyptus on the
finish. Pair with grilled meats. Best Value Wine.’   Full-bodied & Smooth

CHÂTEAU PAUL MAS CLOS DES MÛRES 2015 (AC Côteaux du Languedoc, France)

286393   (XD)       Score 90   $19.95
Jeb Dunnuck of says ‘The 2015 Coteaux du Languedoc Clos des Mures is an inky colored effort from this estate that has plenty of oak and modern character, yet also has terrific black raspberry and cassis fruit, hints of spice, full-bodied richness and a rounded, hedonistic texture. It’s not going to be for those craving high acidity and lightweight aromas and flavors, but
it has loads to love and is well-made. The blend is 85% Syrah, 10% Grenache and 5% Mourvèdre.
Drink Date: 2017-2024.’  Full-bodied & Smooth


Cellar Suggestions


534750  (XD )  Score: 95    $21.95

James Halliday of  says ‘The varieties are picked and fermented separately. A powerful, yet disciplined and focused wine with a treasure trove of spiced fruits on the bouquet, then a palate laced with tannins. This is as close to belligerent as a GSM can come, but it’s not bluster, just the real deal for cellaring. Drink By: 2026. Special Value.’  Full-bodied & Smooth


541029  (XD)     Score: 93      $19.95

Bruce Sanderson of describes ‘Heady flavors of cassis, blackberry, violet and ink mark this intense red. Powerful, yet fruity and fresh, with a peppery, minerally finish. Grill some beef for this bad boy. Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Sangiovese. Best from 2018 through
2025. Best Values.’   Medium-bodied & Fruity


537811    (XD)  Score 90     $19.95

John Livingstone-Learmonth of describes ‘Full robe, dark centre. The bouquet is potentially deep, will flourish if left until spring 2017 and decanted. There is stylish black fruit at its
heart, some raspberry. The palate attacks well, offers generous content with suave tannins rolling through, is very typical of 2015. The fruit lingers in a neat spot as it ends. This is w.o.w. Crozes, all very engaging. Drink Date: 2022-23’ Medium-bodied & Fruity


549659   (XD) $21.95

TASTING NOTE: Nebbiolo, the grape behind the famous wines of Barolo and Barbaresco, is prized for its ability to mature gracefully over time. This wine exhibits gorgeous evolution in the form of leather, cured meat, plum sauce, fresh and dried red cherry, tobacco and rose petals. Savour this beauty through 2030 with roast beef and shaved truffles, or charcuterie and flavourful cheeses. (Vintages panel, Feb. 2018) Full-bodied & Firm



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