Wine Picks LCBO Vintages Release April 28, 2018

The LCBO Vintages Release April 28, 2018 is featuring cool climate  wines from Pacific Northwest, so Washington State, Oregon and British Columbia. And there is a very highly rated 10 Year Old Tawny Port going for $28.95 that will please port lovers.

So ….. Why are Decanter wine ratings so much higher than other ratings?

I got side tracked writing up this post because  I was wondering why the ratings from Decanter always seem to be significantly higher than the ratings from other wine critics.

In a nut shell Decanter tends to rate a wine against other wines of their peer group.  Their peer group also includes a price range.  So when they score, for example, the CHÂTEAU-THÉBAUD MELON DE BOURGOGNE 2012 as a 97 what they are saying is it is outstanding example of the melon de bourgogne grape made into Muscadet wine in the Loire valley  in the same price range.

Other wine critics don’t overtly take the price into consideration – they are rating the wine against the gold standard of  melon de bourgogne, Muscadet wines.  WineAlign scored the same wine 89.

So read into the scores carefully.  Decanter’s 97 score is saying it is  fantastic wine for its kind at $24.95.   Other critics at 89 points are saying it is an above average wine of that grape/style.  They may go on to acknowledge that it is a great value or very reasonably priced as an observation on the value proposition.

You can read more about the Decanter rating system here.

Jancis Robinson has created an very interesting chart on the difference between 100 point rating systems, 5 star rating systems and 20 point rating systems.  You can see her chart here .  (Note that the Decanter system has changed to the 100 point system since she created the chart.)

Value Highlights of LCBO Vintages Release April 28, 2018

Here are some of the  Best Value wines in this release under $35.00.  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.



223958 (S)  Score   95      $28.952

Richard Mayson of describes ‘Mature orange colour and seductive aromas of fruit cake, honey and a touch of spice. Mellifluous, smooth and suave palate yet beautifully fresh with a dusting of tannic spice on the finish.’


RIVAROSE BRUT Salon de Provence, (IGP Mediterranean, France)

515288    (D)     $18.95

Vintages panel tasting notes: ‘ Made from Syrah and Grenache, this pretty pink bubbly serves up lively cherry fruit and floral notes on a soft mousse. Chill and sip with grilled seafood or tempura veggies.’  Medium-bodied & Flavourful



400440   (XD)    Score 89   $16.95

This Prosecco scored 89 but Extra Dry Prosecco is not available every day so at this price it is a good chance for fans of XD Prosecco to stock up!

Vic Harradine of says ‘This provides great value as a light-on-its-feet sipper pouring well as a welcoming wine or when paired with lighter-styled appetizers. Toast, honey and earthy notes on the nose, it glides smoothly across the palate with mouth-watering flavours of lemon yoghurt, green tea and honey-tinged pear. This extra-dry Prosecco finishes in a blaze
of mouth-watering tang…clean, crisp and refreshing. Light & Fruity


I put this recommendation under ‘Other’ instead of ‘White’ because this is more like a dessert wine but is not officially designated as such. (There is no consistent definition of ‘dessert wine’.  This would be nice to serve at the end of a meal with a cheese plate or as suggested in the tasting notes, dried fruits and nuts.

COTNARI GRASA DE COTNARI 2015 (DOC Cotnari, Romania)

073205    (MS) $14.95

The Romanian variety Grasa is capable of producing dry and semi-sweet styles. A true gem, it’s found only in Romania, and even then there are only approximately 450 hectares planted. These are ripe, round wines with suggestions of walnuts, almonds and apricot. They are notably balanced and vibrant. This botrytis-affected wine will be ideal with nuts, dried fruit or blue-veined cheeses.
Aromatic & Flavourful

MEDEIROS ROSÉ 2017 (Vinho Regional Alentejano, Portugal)
451385   (XD)    $12.95

Typically crafted in a bright, sophisticated style that puts vibrancy and fruit at the forefront. You  can expect to find a floral, crisp, fresh wine with tangy red fruit and zesty citrus tones. A versatile blend of Touriga Nacional, Syrah and Aragonez that’s ideal for alfresco dining and will be superb, chilled, with grilled salmon. Easygoing & Fruity


In reading over the recommendations I notice all the recommended whites are Aromatic!  I must be trying to hurry summer on since that is when I tend to turn to the fruity, flavourful whites.

CHÂTEAU-THÉBAUD MELON DE BOURGOGNE 2012 (AC Muscadet Sèvre et Maine, France)

541458 (XD)   Score 97     $24.95 tasting notes describe ‘A smoky character on the nose, magnified by notes of white peach and salty minerals with intriguing hints of almond paste and white flowers. It has a richly textured, beautifully integrated palate with a rewarding zip of lychee and stone fruit. There is a lifted acid freshness with a satisfying, lingering finish; a very precise wine. Outstanding.
Drinking Window: 2017-2026.  Aromatic & Flavourful


915157  (M)  Score   92       $26.95 2

Here is a chance to experience a Grand Cru Alsace wine if you are a fan of  medium sweet riesling.  Anne Krebiehl, MW of Wine Enthusiast says ‘All the rich and aromatic flavors of ripe peaches unite in this fruity wine. The fruit sweetness is balanced by zesty freshness. Together, they create a lip-smackingly sweet and intense flavor experience. This is full-on and medium-sweet with a
clean finish.  Aromatic & Flavourful

SOHO WHITE COLLECTION PINOT GRIS 2017 (Marlborough, South Island, New Zealand)

536169  (XD)    Score  91     $19.95

As you may know I am a big fan of New Zealand Pinot Gris so I was delighted to see this one in the release.  Stocking up……Sam Kim of describes ‘Pristine and attractively fragrant, the fabulously expressed bouquet shows nectarine, rockmelon, mandarin and poached pear  characters. The palate is juicy and vibrant, and delivers bright fruit intensity and supple mouthfeel, wonderfully supported by refreshing acidity. A lovely drink. At its best: now to 2019.
Aromatic & Flavourful

MOMO SAUVIGNON BLANC 2016 (Marlborough, South Island, New Zealand)

009167 (XD)    Score :  91      $19.95

I have a 2015 of this in the fridge as I am writing this.  It is absolutely delightful with some stone fruit notes along with the typical herbalness.   2016 has also been highly rated so consider stocking up if you are a fan of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc.

Bob Campbell, MW of describes ‘Ripe, mellow sauvignon blanc with tree fruit, peach, melon and red capsicum flavours. A subtly succulent wine in charming, easy-drinking
style. Drink 2017 to 2020.  Aromatic & Flavourful


420828 (XD)  Score:  91        $21.95

This is interesting because dry and gewurtraminer don’t often go in the same sentence.   Note the descriptor is still ‘aromatic’ so I expect the typical fruit and flower notes of a Gewurtz will still be there.

Paul Gregutt of Wine Enthusiast says ‘This outstanding wine should earn the somewhat difficult grape many new fans. It opens up beautifully with ample aeration and is true to variety without giving the impression of cheap perfume, emphasizing spice over powdery scents and showing plenty of ripe fruit, from Asian pear, to pineapple to jicama. Ranked #35 in the 2017 Wine Enthusiast Best Buys.  Aromatic & Flavourful




Red Wines

(Mendoza, Argentina)

512202 (XD)     Score:  96    $14.95

Decanter World Wine Awards, 2016 tasting notes:  ‘The addition of Cabernet Sauvignon
and Petit Verdot to the blend works brilliantly, bringing complexity and class. The nose is elegant,
loaded with cassis, plum, violet, spicy and peppery notes and leads on to a full-bodied palate with a pure fruit expression and fine tannins. Finishes long.’  Full-bodied & Smooth

THE THIEF? GRENACHE/SHIRAZ/MATARO 2015 (Barossa Valley, South Australia)
534768  (XD)    Score:   95      $24.95

Australian Wine Showcase notes:  ‘A pretty red fruit and strawberry nose. Expressive and elegant with a great mouthfeel and balance. Rich red fruit, leather, earth and pepper with a crisp acidic backbone. A great option for an Irish stew.’ Full-bodied & Smooth

ROCKCLIFFE THIRD REEF SHIRAZ 2015 (Great Southern, Western Australia)

453209    (XD)    Score:    94       $19.95

James Halliday of describes ‘A spicy/savoury pulsating theme runs deep below the fruits on the surface of this medium-bodied shiraz, with all the birthmarks of its
cool grown origin. Red and black cherry join blackberry to provide the melody of a more than usually complex wine. Special Value. Drink By: 2030.’  Full-bodied & Smooth

YERING STATION VILLAGE PINOT NOIR 2015 (Yarra Valley, Victoria, Australia)

552166    (XD)     Score:    93     $24.95

Steven Creber of describes ‘Open-fermented, and then 11 months in mostly seasoned 500l French oak. For a fairly modestly priced Yarra pinot there is some genuine
complexity here. Aromas of sour cherry, crab apple and a touch of forest floor with a smoky oak overlay. Lovely texture; supple and seamless, with flavours swirling all round the palate, and an impressively long, sappy tannin finish. Special Value. Drink By: 2022.’   Medium-bodied & Fruity


368910  (XD)    Score 93      $32.95

Bruce Sanderson of says ‘This is dense, with black cherry, blackberry, tobacco and leather flavors, picking up mineral and spice details on the long aftertaste. Shows ample tannins, fine depth and complexity.  Drink now through 2023. Medium-bodied & Fruity


546515 (XD)      Scoer:   92     $18.95

James Suckling of  says ‘The aromas of plum and sweet tobacco are very attractive. Turns to a medium to full body, firm and silky tannins and a fresh and clean
finish. Always very well done. Drink or hold.’   Full-bodied & Firm

419770 (XD)   Score:   92               $23.95

Jeb Dunnuck of  says ‘One of the best values I’ve tasted in a long time … Smoking good notes of cassis, black currants and hints of plum all emerge from this rich,
beautifully textured, layered beauty that has solid tannic grip, a silky, elegant texture and a great finish. It has real elegance and finesse and is a dark fruited, unctuous beauty … Drink date: 2017-2021’    Full-bodied & Firm


Cellar Suggestions

MORANDÉ GRAN RESERVA CARMENÈRE 2014 (Single vineyard, Maipo Valley, Chile)

371112     (XD)   Score:   91    $17.00

This is scoring consistently highly among wine writers.  Vintage panel says ‘You can expect a balanced and expressive wine with rich cherry and dark fruit tones, herbs and notes of toast and cloves. An ideal pairing for peppered lamb medallions.’  Full-bodied & Smooth


CHÂTEAU LE PEY 2014 (Cru Bourgeois, AC Médoc, France)

548255 (XD)    Score:   91   $22.95

Roger Voss of Wine Enthusias  says ‘This Cru Bourgeois estate has produced a structured wine that is still showing strong wood-aging flavors. Toasty as well as ripely fruity, it has firm tannins and good aging potential. The aftertaste is fruity and spicy. Drink from 2019.’   Full-bodied & Smooth




538504     (XD)    Score:   90        $17.95

Silver Medal winner at the 2017 Concours des Vins du Sud-Ouest France.

Roger Voss of Wine Enthusiast says ‘This is a powerfully ripe wine. It has layers of great black fruits and firm tannins. Both indicate a wine for aging. It has a concentrated juicy character along with acidity and a dry structured core. Drink this wine from 2019. Editors’ Choice’.  Full-bodied & Firm

HIDDEN BENCH ESTATE RIESLING 2016  (VQA Beamsville Bench, Niagara Escarpment, Ont, Canada)

183491 (D)  Score :   91        $23.95

Vintage notes:  Hidden Bench places the purity of the fruit and the clarity of the expression of place first and foremost; they employ a non-interventionist approach to their wine making, which includes the use of geothermal cooling and heating and natural yeasts. Since 2015/2016, the majority of the wines crafted at Hidden Bench, including this Riesling, are vegan friendly
and certified organic by Pro-Cert. Look for a zesty, mineral-rich wine with bright citrus, peach
and apple fruit.’   Aromatic & Flavourful


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