A+ wines at Vintages – many under $30!


The latest LCBO Vintages release offers some great 90 point wines, many under $30.00. Who really decides whether a wine ‘makes the grade’ or not?  For this “If I had a $100, I would buy’ blog, I purposely chose to write on wines that captured 90 points from a panel of experienced wine judges.

Wine scores baffle me. Hardly fair that some wine critics can make or break the sale of a wine and we rarely are there any reviews about ho-hum wines. Thankfully, we all have different tastes and there are no right or wrongs in what you chose to enjoy. It would be a major yawn if we all sought the same style of wine or picked from only one wine region.

During my years of wine tasting I learned to know what makes a well-balanced wine, but sometimes I enjoy a big blast of dark red fruit on my palate without many tannins or a white wine that squirts acidity to wake up my senses. So much depends on the time of day, type of food, certainly the company and just what you feel like tasting.

BTW – if your budget permits, there are several new French champagnes at Vintages that were served at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), but drats – I have a budget of $100 and I’m going to stick to it.

Remember, there are no rights or wrongs in tasting wine – enjoy and succumb!

Cheers & Enjoy!



Achaval Ferrer Malbec 2011

Mendoza, Argentina
$24.95 (Vintages #24737) 14.5% alcohol

Deep inky purple in colour with origins in France, but now Argentina’s signature grape. This red wine has lots of guts ! Once you get past the aromas of some floral earthy mustiness and leather you are besot with dark velvety fruit plums on the palate with a little spice and cocoa on the finish. Round but not too tannicy. I found the wine to be deliciously intoxicating, smooth and rich. Argentinians are known for their grilled meat so I would suggest spicey sausages, blackened chicken, a tomato salad and some crusty bread to make a fabulous rustic dinner. When I put two “yums” after my tasting notes, I know to put at least one bottle in my basket.

Cave Springs CSV Riesling 2009

VQA Beamsville Bench, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario
$29.95 (Vintages #566026) 11.5% alcohol

Cave Springs may be best known for its signature Riesling and while it may seem like a lot to pay, it’s worth every cent. Cave Springs winemaker, Angelo Pavan, crafts cool-climate wines in the European tradition of Alsace which results in top quality wine expressing minerality and great acidity. This Riesling is one of my all time favourites tasting what the very best of Niagara has to offer. Slightly minerally and a tad off-dry, this nectar has beautiful stone fruit flavours: apricots, peaches, some green apple and grapefruit with a wet stone long crisp finish. It is elegant and refined. If the Queen invited me for dinner, I would proudly this wine!

USA Gallo Family Laguna Vineyard Chardonay 2009

Russian River Valley, Sonoma County, U.S.A.
$19.95 (Vintages # 544981) 14.2% alcohol

Rich golden in colour, aromas cross between creme caramel, butterscotch pudding and buttered toast. Not sure you’d like a white wine that has aromas of the above? It’s easy to understand where these flavours come from with grapes grown in the Russian River and fermented in oak barrels, hints of poached pears, ripe pineapple which make this Chardonnay rich and creamy. It is a white wine that would stand up to steak or would make the perfect accompaniment to a lobster salad at lunch and not just for the ladies who lunch!

Australia Mount Langi Ghiran Billi Billi Shiraz 2009

Victoria Region, Australia
$17.95 (Vintages 719575) 14% alcohol

Aromatic fragrances of rich red and dark berry fruits which give this red wine such a dense colour. It is loaded with flavours, brimming with dark fruit, but more medium bodied on the palate. The black currant, dusty leather and soft tannins would marry perfectly with some lamb chops or it would be nice just on its own. It has the long berry spicy finish found in a well made Aussie Shiraz. A class act at that price point.

Grand Total: $ 92.80



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