Wine Picks LCBO Vintages Release Dec 8, 2018

I wish there was a wine lottery I could enter to be able to try some of the iconic wines gracing the LCBO shelves this month.  Since I have not won that, or any other lottery here are the best value wines for your money from the Dec 8, 2018 Vintages release.  Check out the $31 Right Bank  Bordeaux that consistently outscored a $67 Right Bank Bordeaux.


Use this link to check out availability of wines closest to you – LCBO store locator. Just enter the product number in the search field in the upper right corner. When the product page comes up click on the Select Store button on the right margin.  A dialogue box will come up. Add your postal code to get a list of stores closest to you that have it in stock.

Or you can now order LCBO products on-line  .  Of late LCBO have indicated all release wines are available for on-line  ordering.

Here are my picks for some of the best value wines under $35 in this release.

Sparkling Wine

If you haven’t already stocked up on bubbly from the earlier November recommendations I would check for stock on them.  Check out the Sparkling recommendations from Nov 24 release here and Nov 10 release here.  If not this Crémant de Bourgogne is  a reasonable value amidst all the pricey champagnes.

Traditional method, AC, Burgundy, France

991562  750 mL (D)   Score 91  $19.95

Crafted from 100% Chardonnay, this is made in a fresh, zesty style with lemon, lime, apple and toast tes and underlying earthy and mineral tones. Always a great value option to Champagne. Wine Enthusiast tasting notes: Ripe and soft, impressively rich, with tight citrus minerality.
Medium-bodied & Flavourful

Sweet Wine

TWLK:   You don’t see a Sauterne on the shelf every day, escpecially at this price and this rating.  Note is is 375 ml bottle but a little goes a long way.


514679 375 mL (S)   Score 92   $24.95

James Molesworth of describes ‘Lovely creamed pear, honey and yellow apple fruit flavors glide along, with a lush, rounded feel and lingering flashes of honeysuckle and apricot. Rich, but fresh and open-knit. Drink now through 2032.’
Aromatic & Flavourful

White Wines

FLAT ROCK RIESLING 2016, VQA Twenty Mile Bench, Niagara Escarpment, Ont, Canada

043281   750 mL (M)  Score 91-93+    $17.95

Carolyn Evans Hammond, of Toronto Star says ‘ Love the great concentration and detail of this bottle. The wine erupts with mouthcoating flavours of dried apricot and chin-drip peach shot through with lime sorbet and lemon squirt
acidity. It’s off-dry, but the sugared fruit is counterbalanced by racy acidity, a gentle salinity and a lingering note of grapefruit pith that scrapes the palate clean. Wow. Just wow. Due to the cooling effect of the sweetness, acidity, and fruit-forward nature of this wine, it’s a dead ringer for fiery, full-flavoured fare such as Thai curries or spicy Sichuan dishes.’
Aromatic & Flavourful

PIERRE SPARR MAMBOURG PINOT GRIS 2015, AC Alsace Grand Cru, Alsace, France

686451 (M) 750 mL   Score 92   $25.95

Anne Krebiehl, MW of Wine Enthusiast says ‘The Sparr family has been crafting fine wine in Alsace since 1680. Pinot Gris is one of
the four “noble” grapes of Alsace, and this one’s honeyed fruit and bright citrus tones exemplify the ripe, rich style that distinguishes Alsatian PG.’
Aromatic & Flavourful

CHARLES BAKER B-SIDE RIESLING 2017, VQA Twenty Mile Bench, Niagara Escarpment, Ont, Canada

523845       750 mL (M)   Score 90  $21.95
Vintages notes:  Charles Baker’s single-vineyard Rieslings are among the most definitive expressions of Ontario Riesling available. These wines, sourced from the Ivan and Picone vineyards, have captured the imaginations of wine lovers and critics alike, setting new standards for excellence. The B-side Riesling is a blend of younger vines from these sites and will deliver complex fruit and spice in a crisp, refreshing package, with plenty of that Niagara zest. It will be superb with pork chops.
Aromatic & Flavourful

AP Loire, France

391847750 mL (XD)   Score 90    $16.95

Natalie MacLean of says ‘Great value here … bone dry  with gooseberry, citrus and a flinty minerality characteristic of the Loire region with its sandy, chalky and flinty clay soils. Excellent Old World Sauvignon Blanc that has the herbal grassy power and concentration of a New World
wine … Finishes brightly with lemon zest. Pair with vegetarian dishes. Best Value Wine. Drink: 2018-2021.
Aromatic & Flavourful

Margaret River, Western Australia

350900 750 mL (XD)   Score 90     $18.95

Vic Harradine, describes ‘Powerful aromas of toasty oak and
spice on the nose precede a balanced and beautiful flow of sweet-tinged Golden Delicious apple, ripe pear and Mirabelle plum nicely juxtaposed with a
glorious rush of racy lemon acidity on the back palate and persisting through the long finish – clean, crisp and refreshing. This is medium-full bodied with good texture and delivers a price-quality balance tipped wildly in your favour. Pour with roast bird and all the extras. Value’.
Full-bodied & Rich

ROBERT MONDAVI FUMÉ BLANC 2017, Napa Valley, California, USA

221887 750 mL (XD)   Score 90  $22.95
Vintages notes:  This iconic Napa expression is intense with a rich
mouthfeel. It features toast, vanilla and roasted fruit tones along with ripe, bright apple, melon, lemon zest and tropical notes. The addition of roughly 15% Semillon adds a gorgeous silkiness to the texture. An intriguing classic, it will have good versatility at the dinner table and will work equally well with turkey dinner or grilled fish.’
Aromatic & Flavourful

Red Wines

WAKEFIELD JARAMAN SHIRAZ 2016, Clare Valley/McLaren Vale, South Australia

377036 750 mL (XD)   Score 95   $24.95

Vic Harradine, syas ‘ This has excellent depth, complexity and balance throughout. Exotic incense, and red berry fruit aromas precede a glorious wash of tangladen ambrosia delivered by luscious mouthfuls of ripe mulberry fruit, black cherry, cassis and kirsch liqueur flavour adorned with dark bittersweet chocolate and notes of espresso roast. It’s full bodied and fully textured with a lengthy mouth-watering finish. It’s drinking well now and will to 2025. Value.’
Full-bodied & Smooth

TRAPICHE GRAN MEDALLA MALBEC 2014, Uco Valley, Mendoza, Argentina

467977 (XD) 750 mL  Score 94   $24.95

James Suckling of syas ‘The Uco Valley produces nearly half of the Malbec grown in Mendoza and a disproportionate percentage of the country’s top wines. The structure, youthful dark fruit and floral notes in this Malbec, from one of Argentina’s oldest producers, articulate the region’s quality in spades.’
Full-bodied & Smooth

LA POSTA PIZZELLA MALBEC 2017, Mendoza, Argentina
166298 750 mL (XD)  Score: 93      $15.95

James Suckling of describes ‘Lots of black licorice to this malbec as well as citrus, bark and some moss. Tightly wound with firm tannins, driven acidity and a very minerally finish. Drink now.
Medium-bodied & Fruity

TWLK:  If you are looking for a good value Bordeaux, this one consistently outscored the Croix Canon Grand Cru Saint-Emilion 2012 at $66.95 a bottle with a similar blend of 75% Merlot and 25% Cab Franc.

CHÂTEAU PUYGUERAUD 2016, AC Côtes de Bordeaux – Francs, France

550277  750 mL (XD)   Score: 93-94   $30.95

TWLK:  This is 80% Merlot, 15% Cab Franc and 5% Malbec.
James Suckling of james says ‘This is really rich and powerful.
Full-bodied, round and chewy. Very long and dense. It’s really something. Better than the 2015. Best ever?’
Medium-bodied & Fruity

DO Yecla, Spain
511519 750 mL (XD) Score  93     $17.00

Robert Parker Jr. of says ‘ The 2014 Campo Arriba comes from one of the highest elevations in Yecla and it’s a blend of 70% Mourvèdre, 20% Syrah and 10% Grenache aged three months in small French oak. This winery, started in 1925 by the Candela family, has really hit pay day with this amazing value. Blackberries, blueberries, acacia flowers, and chalky minerality dominate the aromatics and flavors. It is full-bodied, the price
is absurdly low for a wine of this quality, and I suspect it can age nicely for another 5-6 years, although its true value is its exuberance, fruit purity and density. Drink Date: 2016-2022.’

Full-bodied & Smooth

THE BLACK CHOOK SHIRAZ/VIOGNIER 2016, McLaren Vale/Padthaway, South Australia

066738 (XD) 750 mL  Score 93    $18.95

James Halliday of says ‘This superb Shiraz is a real customer favourite, in part because of the value it offers but also because of the splash of Viognier that adds a floral lift to the dark fruit and peppery spice notes. A food-friendly Aussie that’s always a hit.’
Full-bodied & Smooth

KAIKEN ULTRA LAS ROCAS MALBEC 2015, Mendoza, Argentina

50849750 mL (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

SUPERIORE 2015, DOC  Veneto, Italy
165662  750 mL (D)   Score 92      $22.95

James Suckling of says ‘A very pretty nose of dried lavender, rose petals and sweet morello cherries. Medium to full body, lots of tension, fine acidity and a minerally, driven finish. Drink now.’
Full-bodied & Smooth

WO Paarl, South Africa

383547  750 mL (XD)  Score 91  $16.95
Vintages panel note: The Pekin Red is a supple, tasty blend of Shiraz, Cab Sauv, Merlot, Cab Franc, Malbec and Petit Verdot. It shows good structure and
balance, with mixed red and black fruit alongside touches of vanilla and earth. Really nice and a great value, too. This is a wine with broad appeal and the
range to work with a variety of grilled meats, and even turkey.
Full-bodied & Smooth

WAKEFIELD CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2016, Clare Valley, South Australia

744235  750 mL (XD)     Score 91        $19.95

Gold Medal winner at the China Wine & Spirits Awards Best Value 2018. notes: Garnet black color. Attractive, spicy, fruity aromas and flavors of spiced berries, creme Anglaise, and hint of bouillon with a silky, tangy, fruity medium-to-full body and a tingling, engaging, long chocolate lemon and orange peels, dark roasted pecans, flower petals, and cedar finish with well integrated, chewy tannins and moderate oak. A supple and inviting cabernet that will [complement] a fine steak. Exceptional.’
Full-bodied & Smooth

AC, Rhône, France 

995548 (XD) 750 mL      Score 91      $22.95
Josh Raynolds of says ‘The Chave family dates its involvement in
wine production in the Northern Rhône to 1481 and is responsible for some of
the most treasured wines from this iconic region. This powerful, generously fruity, richly flavoured wine is from select parcels around Vinsobres and Cairanne in the Southern Rhône.’
Medium-bodied & Fruity

Maipo Alto, DO Maipo Valley

076307   750 mL (XD)    Score  91 $21.95

James Suckling of says ‘Cool and fresh. A sleek cabernet
with some real elegance. The dry tannins carry the long finish beautifully. Drink or hold. ‘
Full-bodied & Smooth

SEIN 2011, DO Alicante, Spain

391896   750 mL (XD)     Score: 90    $17.95

Luis Gutiérrez awarded this wine a rating of 92 points, saying “… The palate combines the roundness of the old Monastrell and the freshness of the young
Syrah, and comes through as quite drinkable and pleasurable …” (, Oct. 30, 2013)

Beppi Crosariol of  says ‘This chunky-rich blend of 60-percent monastrell with 40-per-cent syrah is mighty ripe, tipping the scale at 15-per-cent alcohol. It dishes up plenty of stewed-fruit and cocoa character, like a prune-raisin chocolate bar, but there’s discipline and depth thanks to the peppery syrah and savoury oak. A big mouthful for the money. ‘
Full-bodied & Firm

AP Languedoc, France

413237  750 mL (XD)   Score 90    $16.95

Jeb Dunnuck of says ‘A smoking value … mostly Syrah, with 31% Grenache, that was completely destemmed and aged partially in Bordeaux barrels. Its saturated purple color is followed by a ripe, modern-style, creamy Languedoc that offers loads of cassis, licorice and
smoked herbs. Drink this Old-World fruit bomb over the coming 2-3 years. Drink Date: 2017-2020’
Full-bodied & Smooth

TWLK:  I take Decanter scores with a grain of salt because they score the wine compared to others in the same price range – not against the gold standard of the varietal or region.  This one has however consistently scored in the low 90s.

750 mL (XD)     Score 90     $17.95
Decanter World Wine Awardsnotes : 60% Grenache, 20% Syrah, 20%
Mourvedre. A lovely fruit-driven style with expressive fruits of the forest characters and juicy raspberry acidity.’
Full-bodied & Firm

GIESEN THE BROTHERS PINOT NOIR 2016, Marlborough, South Island, New Zealand

402685   750 mL (XD)     Score 90   $32.95
Vintages panel notes: The fruit for this is harvested and fermented in small batches and aged in a mix of old and new French oak. This is quite a robust Pinot with great raspberry, sour cherry and earth tones. Caramel and spice round out the complex flavours nicely. Great for duck, or meaty fish such as tuna or salmon.
Medium-bodied & Fruity

DOCG Tuscany, Italy

216309   750 mL (XD)   Score 90     $22.95

Antonio Galloni of says ‘The 2014 Chianti Classico Riserva
is a very pretty wine. Sweet tobacco, leather, spice, menthol and dried black cherry notes suggest that it won’t be an especially long-lived Riserva, and the
slightly forward aromas and flavors result in an openknit, expressive wine that is ready to drink now. Drinking Window: 2017-2021’.
Medium-bodied & Fruity

Cellar Suggestions

EMILIANA COYAM 2014. Los Robles Estate, DO Colchagua Valley, Chile

063891  750 mL (XD)  Score 95   $29.95

Tim Atkin, MW of says ‘This brilliant six-variety blend of
mostly Syrah and Carmenère with lesser amounts of Cabernet Sauvignon, Mourvèdre, Malbec and Petit Verdot is one of Chile’s greatest reds. Smooth, subtle and savoury, it’s much more than the sum of its parts, with Asian spices, red and dark berry fruit and fine tannins. Drink Date: 2019-2026.’
Full-bodied & Smooth

CONFIDENCIAL RESERVA 2014. Vinho Regional Lisboa, Portugal
452789 750 mL (D     Score 92     $13.95

Roger Voss of Wine Enthusiast says ‘One of the top wines from this
producer, this blend of at least 10 grape varieties comes from its estate. The wood aging has added sophistication to this already concentrated wine.
With black fruits to the fore and firm tannins, it will age well. Drink from 2019. Editors’ Choice.’
Medium-bodied & Fruity

AC Rhone, France

995548  750 mL (XD)    Score 91      $22.95

Josh Raynolds of describes ‘Lurid ruby. Ripe cherries and red
berry liqueur on the deeply perfumed, spice-tinged nose. Shows impressive power and breadth on the palate, offering rich black raspberry and bitter cherry flavors complicated by hints of lavender and peppery spices. The smooth, gently tannic finish delivers solid punch and repeating red berry and floral notes. Drinking Window: 2020-2026’
Medium-bodied & Fruity

Good Bets

The wines highlighted below may not have been rated by critics but are wines that come from consistently high quality producers or regions that epitomize the characteristics of a certain varietal or style. In other words… good value wines that I would gravitate to without hesitation!

TWLK:  This wine has received 90 scores from various reviewers.

DOC Abruzzo, Italy
994616 750 mL (XD) $15.95

Vintage notes: This stunning value in Montepulciano spent 24 months in Slavonian oak barrels. It’s wonderfully balanced and shows plenty of ripe red fruit, violets and spice wrapped in lovely silky texture. Perfect for spaghetti
and meatballs, or manicotti.
Medium-bodied & Fruity

AP Midi, France

175232  750 mL (XD)  Score 89 -91  $16.95

TWLK:  This one has mixed ratings but others are in the low 90s.  Saint-Roch and Cotes du Rousillon are generally known for consistent good value wines.
Joe Czerwinski of says ‘A blend of Grenache Blanc (80%) and Roussanne (20%), the 2017 Vieilles Vignes Blanc displays bright, pristine aromas of pear, melon and pineapple. It’s medium-bodied, ripe and round yet with a tart, crisp finish of lime zest and brine. Drink Date: 2018-2019.
Full-bodied & Rich

North Coast, California, USA
025106 (XD) 750 mL $24.95

This super-popular wine from the Delicato family is a perennial treat that delivers classic Cali cassis, with ripe black fruit delicately framed by toasty oak, spice and chocolate notes. Easy to enjoy, it has broad appeal and is always a winner with a crowd.
Full-bodied & Smooth


McMANIS ZINFANDEL 2017., Certified Green, Lodi, California, USA

256735   750 mL (D)    $21.95

Vintage notes: Lodi is one of the best regions for California’s heritage
grape, Zinfandel. This popular expression comes from a well-known and beloved family and was matured in both American and French oak. You can expect a fine-grained, smoky, fruity wine with vanilla and coconut underlying the ripe dark berry, cherry and bright strawberry notes that are  characteristically a part of this earthy wine’s makeup. A wine for meat
pies, portobello mushroom burgers or pulled pork.
Full-bodied & Smooth

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