Wine Picks LCBO Vintages Release March 16, 2019

The Liquor store gods continue to smile on us with the LCBO Vintages Release of March 16, 2019. Some exceptional value wines in many categories – sweet wine, Ports,  Southern France. We are talking mid-90 scores for under $30 in many cases.

If you are a Port lover consider stocking up with 2 very good value ports.  Check out the highly regarded  sparkling Crémant de Limoux;  Limoux region believed by historians to be the origin of produce sparkling wines in 1531.

A number of reds consistently rated in the mid -90s for under $30.

This release is a great chance to stock up with value wines.

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.


Bottled in 2016, DOP

644898  (S)   Score    92    $22.95

Mark Squires of says ‘ … Beautifully constructed this year, this is one of the best LBVs I’ve seen from Carvalhas …Tightly wound, lush in texture and finishing with waves of fruit and flavor, it is delicious, very concentrated and nicely structured … This is very nice and the price
is certainly right. It’s a great value. Drink Date: 2016-2035.


642173 (S)    Score 93      $16.95

David Lawrason says:  ‘This gold-amber sweet moscatel has an amazingly lifted, fine nose of orange, mint, ginger, pine and dried figs. It is full  bodied, sweet, soft and rich with all the balance provided by the 15% alcohol warmth and viscosity. This is delicious and massive value in the sweet wine  genre. Should be sublime with creme brulee, or “hold the creme brulee” and go it alone.’


(Traditional method, AC, Languedoc, France)
068239 (XD)     Score 90       $19.95

Vintage notes: This blend of Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc and Mauzac is crafted using the traditional method. There will be considerable intensity, with pear, citrus and mineral and an underlying toasty note. Crisp and lively with good length and structure, this will be a fine choice as an aperitif or with seafood mains.
Medium-bodied & Flavourful


CARTE NOIRE ROSÉ 2017 (AP Côtes de Provence, France)
319384 (XD)   Score  91       $19.95

Natalie MacLean of says ‘Love this southern French
rose year after year! Aromas of small field strawberries and dried herbs. Perfect for seafood. Drink: 2018-2020. Best Value Wine.’
Medium-bodied & Dry

White Wines

CAVE SPRING CSV RIESLING 2016  (Cave Spring Vineyard, VQA Beamsville Bench, Niagara Escarpment, Ont, Canada)

566026 (XD) Score 94    $29.95

Paul Gregutt of Wine Enthusiast says ‘Produced from the estate’s oldest  vines, this is a worthy reserve. This wine shows impressive depth and intensity, with powerful fruit flavors led by Satsuma orange and Meyer lemon. There’s a touch of spice and an underlying minerality. A sensational value … Editors’ Choice.’  Aromatic & Flavourful


462614 (XD) Score  93    $19.95

James Suckling of describes ‘Cool, delicately vegetal and smoky. Vibrant, yet finely-nuanced with lemon and lime juice flavors. A racy mineral finish. Drink or hold.’
Aromatic & Flavourful


946848 (XD)   Score 92       $19.95

Kerin O’Keefe of Wine Enthusiast describes ‘Savory and fresh, this opens on
alluring aromas of white flower, orchard fruit, citrus and a whiff of crushed rock while the palate offers creamy white peach, apple and lemon drop. A saline
mineral note lingers on the finish. Editors’ Choice.’
Light & Crisp

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

068817 (XD)  Score: 92    $29.95

Michael Godel of  says ‘If you’ve never had the pleasure of a moment alone with a Hidden Bench chardonnay it is here where you’ve come to the right place, vintage and bottle for which to begin the relationship. As full,
flavourful and generous of cool-climate chardonnay spirit as it has ever shown, the 2016 Estate work is pure, unbridled and effortless genius. What it exudes
in energy is only eclipsed by a hidden grace … creamy fruit, fine acidity and finer-spun texture … Spend $10 more on Bench chardonnay like this and you’ll
be drinking properly every time out. Drink 2018-2024. ‘
Full-bodied & Rich

Red Wines

DON’T TELL GARY SHIRAZ 2016 (Grampians, Victoria, Australia)
632620 (XD)   Score 95    $21.95

James Halliday of says ‘From the Grampians, matured in new and used French oak. The cool climate comes through strongly, giving the black fruits focus and length, coupled with overall balance; the finish is
fresh and vibrant. Drink By: 2031.’
Full-bodied & Smooth

HEWITSON MISS HARRY 2015 (Barossa Valley, South Australia)
Included in Wine Companion’s Top 100 Red Wines Under $25.

107870 (XD)    Score 95     $24.95

James Halliday of  describes ‘A light, brilliantly coloured blend of grenache, shiraz, mourvedre, cinsaut and carignan.
A finely wrought and balanced wine with just about every spice and every red berry you can imagine from this Southern Rhone blend. A truly wonderful
trattoria wine that soars on the gently savoury finish. Drink By: 2030.’
Full-bodied & Smooth

CHÂTEAU MAGNOL 2015 Cru Bourgeois, (AC Haut-Médoc, France)
384271   (XD)  Score 95   $27.95

Ultimate Wine Challenge, 2018 notes : Dark berries, iron, and meat effuse
from the glass and the wine here outshines its catch-all appellation. A Bordeaux that shines in the moment, this could cellar for another ten years and would be a great accompaniment to many red meat dishes. Extraordinary. Ultimate Recommendation.
Medium-bodied & Fruity

(AP Côtes du Roussillon, France)

320499 (XD)         Score: 94        $19.95

Jeb Dunnuck of says ‘This wine is almost too good to be true. A blend of 70% Syrah and 30% Grenache that was brought up in
concrete tanks (Grenache) and demi-muids (Syrah), the 2015 Bastide Miraflors Vieilles Vignes reminded me of a mini Syrah from California’s Manfred Krankl (yes I just compared a $14 [USD] Syrah to Sine Qua Non). It’s a ripe, sexy, heady beauty that exhibits a deep, purple color as well as killer notes of smoked meats, chocolate, blackberry and black raspberries. Deep, unctuous, open knit and layered, it continues to change in the glass, has a seamless and silky profile, and not a hard edge to be found. It’s a sensational value that needs to
be tasted to be believed. Drink it anytime over the coming 2-4 years. Drink Date: 2017-2021.’
Full-bodied & Smooth

DESQUICIADO MALBEC 2016 (Tupungato, Uco Valley, Mendoza, Argentina)

631820 (XD)  Score  93     $15.95

Tim Atkin, MW of says ‘Desquiciado means “crazy” in Spanish,  and there’s something unusual about this blend of Malbec, Cabernet Franc and Grenache from organically grown grapes in Tupungato. Perfumed, balanced and complex with subtle spices, a hint of whole bunch sap and a long finish. Drink Date: 2018-2022.’
Full-bodied & Smooth


121145 (D) Score: 93      $15.95

James Suckling of  describes ‘Dried berry and spice with hints of rose petal on the nose. Full body. Round, velvety and ripe tannins. Gorgeous fruit. Drink or hold.’
Full-bodied & Smooth

WAKEFIELD JARAMAN CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2015 (Coonawarra/Clare Valley, South Australia)

142398 (XD) Score: 93      $24.95 note:  ‘Dull violet color. Aromas and flavors of boysenberry preserves and wild mint with a velvety, vibrant, dry medium-full body and a tingling, medium-length blackberry jam, wildberry skittles, thyme, and mixed peppercorns finish with chewy, fruit tannins and light oak. A true-to-form jammy Coonawarra Cab brimming with wild berry notes. Gold Medal. Exceptional. Cellar Selection.’
Full-bodied & Firm

(DOC Veneto, Italy)

974402 (D)   Score 92     $19.95

Vic Harradine of describes ‘Smoky notes and pipe tobacco
provide segue for a rich, ripe and luscious wash enveloping the palate, infusing the lingering finish and aftertaste – dried currant, dark raisin and fig interlaced with espresso roast and dark chocolate. It’s mid-plus weight with silky smooth mouthfeel and fully flavoured from cork pop to last drop. Just about as good as Ripasso gets at this or double the price.’
Medium-bodied & Fruity

INTRINSIC CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2016  (Columbia Valley, Washington, USA)
James Suckling of ‘A red with lots of sweet-tobacco and currant aromas and flavors. Medium to full body, round and juicy tannins and a flavorful finish. Harmonious and fine. Drink now.’
Full-bodied & Smooth
493379(D)        Sore 92        $29.95

XAVIER CÔTES DU RHÔNE 2016 (AP Rhone,  France)

297317 (XD)  Score 90     $17.95

Jeb Dunnuck of says ‘The 2016 Côtes du Rhône is a winner. Blackberries, flowers, violets, hints of pepper all give way to a fresh, yet rich, beautifully textured red that has fine tannin and the purity of fruit that’s
common in the vintage.’
Full-bodied & Smooth

(AP Côtes du Roussillon-Villages, France)

647925 (XD)     Score 90      $20.95

Double Gold Medal winner at the 2018 Sakura Japan Women’s Wine Awards.
Joe Czerwinski of  says ‘ The medium-bodied, spice-driven
2016 Vin d’Altitude is a blend of Carignan, Grenache, Syrah and Lledoner Pelut from high-altitude vineyards near the village of Ansignan. Red and green peppercorns are accented by red currants and tart cherries, while the tannins remain fine and silky on the long finish. Drink Date: 2018-2023.’
Full-bodied & Smooth

(DOC Trás-os-Montes, Portugal)

632232 (XD)  Score   90       $16.95

Joshua Greene of says ‘Grown in the hills north of Douro, this wine would likely be considerably more expensive if it were from a fancier neighborhood. As it stands, it’s pretty chic – silky in its texture, sunny in its flavors. Its red fruit tastes of crushed strawberries while a cool, earthy tone of rocks and minerals infuses that fruit, lending it depth and persistence. Grab a case to drink this winter; the wine should really begin to open by spring. Best Buy.’
Medium-bodied & Fruity

Cellar Suggestions

Bottled in 2017, DOP

644880  (S)    Score 94   $29.95

Mark Squires of  robert says ‘ … from old vines (an average of 80
years) … This has tightened dramatically … more than a little astringent. Underneath, there is still that fine fruit, which eventually asserts itself … The mid-palate shows good concentration, especially in the context of this
lighter-styled vintage. It does have all the freshness I expect in the vintage, though. This is an excellent effort by Crasto, but it does need some rest … Drink Date: 2026-2065. Score: 94


645358 (XD)  Score  93     $29.95

Jeb Dunnuck of  says ‘The 2015 Cotes du Roussillon Villages Tautavel Les Vingt Marches is a hidden gem in this vintage. Made from mostly Syrah, with 20% Grenache and 10% Carignan, this full-bodied, deep and  voluptuously textured red is loaded with notions of plums, violets and spice, with some Syrah meatiness developing with air. Completely destemmed and aged all in tank, I’d enjoy bottles over the coming 4-6 years. Drink Date: 2017-2023.’
Full-bodied & Smooth

(Mount Barker, Great Southern, Western Australia)

632075 (XD)    Score    91     $18.95

James Halliday of says ‘From Blocks 5 and 6 on the dry grown Highfields Vineyard, mainly Gin Gin clone, but with some Dijon clones 76, 95 and 96, crushed and pressed straight to 50/50% French barriques and stainless steel, some wild yeast fermentation at cool temperatures, partial mlf left 7.08g/l acidity. Tightly structured, with unsweetened citrus flavours, grapefruit to the fore. Needs time. Drink By: 2021.’
Full-bodied & Rich


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!

(WO Swartland, South Africa)

634659(XD) $16.95

Vintages panel note : Ripe and floral with impressive balance and ripe dark fruit, plums, vanilla and spice. Crafted in a juicy, crowd-pleasing style that finishes long and creamy. Quite simply, this is a tasty little wine. A great choice for lamb kebabs or burgers.’
Full-bodied & Smooth

REDSTONE CHARDONNAY 2016 (VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ont, Canada)

398966    (XD)      $19.95

Vintages panel note:  Another winner from Moray Tawse and his team, Redstone Winery was named for the large stones and red clay soils of the vineyard. This Chardonnay has sharply defined apple, citrus and
mineral tones alongside vanilla and spice. Crisp, supple and creamy, this versatile wine will be a huge hit paired with grilled lobster or pork chops.
Full-bodied & Rich

FIELDING PINOT GRIS 2017  (Estate bottled, VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ont. Canada)

251108 (XD)    $21.95

Ontario winemakers are showing increasing interest in Pinot Gris, one of the noble grapes of Alsace. Fielding is particularly adept with it, producing wines
of considerable structure that express a great depth of fruit character. This one will be juicy and floral with honeydew melon, orchard fruit, citrus and spice. It has the freshness and zesty acidity to be enjoyed on its own but would be particularly great with a creamy seafood pasta.
Aromatic & Flavourful


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