Posts Tagged ‘If I had $100’

Southern Hemisphere picks at LCBO Vintages

Posted by Julie

Thursday, October 11th, 2012

Having raved about Ontario wines throughout September, it is now time to have a look at the southern hemisphere. The 13th October release at LCBO Vintages focuses on “Artisanal Aussies”  as well as premium Chilean sites. I don’t think there is any purposeful connection between the two countries except they both harvest their grapes in January or February and rely on favourable big heat conditions with little risk of frost or harvest time rains- lucky for them! Consequently, their wines can be big, ripe and luscious and this release certainly has some of those.

There are also some bottles well worth a pick-up from California, many are above my budget, but if a special occasion happens to be in the near future or you’d just like to splurge on a couple of bottles for the cellar, the Ravenswood Teldeschi Single Vineyard Zinfindel 2008 at $44.95 is rich and stunning as well as the Grgich Hills Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 at $74.95. The latter, made from biodynamic grapes with silky solid flavours is memorable and beyond. Both of these would cellar well and I would be ecstatic to come across one tucked away in 3-4 years.

Also, thanks to this release, I was reminded of an Ontario winery I have yet to explore called Coffin Ridge; Grey County’s first winery overlooking Georgian Bay. This release features their “Back from the Dead Red 2010” which I have included in my $100 dollar basket. This wine is made from the Maréchal Foch grape (pictured on left), which is something of an Ontario specialty.  I think of it as our Ontario “Beaujolais” as it has similar characteristics: light to medium bodied, fruity with lively acidity. The Maréchal Foch grape has been described as a vigorous, work-horse grape that is resistant to cold, ripens early, is frequenty used in blends, but not very often on its own. Both Malivoire and Coffin Ridge produce wines made from 100% Marchel Foch – bravo for our little known Canadian grape.

Halloween wine anyone?

For anyone hosting a Halloween party, with names like “Bone Dry Riesling, Resurrection Rosé and the above, they’d be “hallowed” on any tasting bar. Coffin Ridge also won two Double Golf/Best in Categories at the 2012 All Canadian Wine Championships for their 2011 l’Acadie Blanc and 2010 Marguette. So all to say, this is a winery to watch for and it’s already on my radar for next year’s Ontario journey.

So, the wines are picked. With minimal effort, I could put together a Halloween party; I just have to find a grape costume.


Oakridge Over the Shoulder Chardonnay 2011

Yarra Valley, Victoria, Australia
$24.95 (Vintages #285759)  12.3% alcohol

I am sometimes suspicious of a Chardonnay that is not golden yellow. This baby is very pale straw in colour and has many of the traditional Chard. flavours of pineapple, apricots and a  little pink grapefruit. It is wonderful to feature a dry, clean, crisp and refreshing Chardonnay that is smooth and subtle, medium bodied with a little toast and butter at the end of a very rich and delicious finish. I had the pleasure of tasting other products from the Oakridge winery and if anyone has a trip to Australia planned, it would be well worth seeking them out. I found all their wines to be complex and memorable.


Coffin Ridge Back from the Dead Red 2010

VQA Ontario
$17.00 (Vintages #260463)  12% alcohol

The Marchel Foch grape was formerly grown in the Loire, France, but because it is a hybrid (the crossing of 2 or more grape varieties) its’ cultivation is restricted by the European union. The grape was brought to Canada in 1946 by Brights Wines winemaker, Adhemar de Chaunac. How’s that for trivia?

The wine is a surprisingly deep plum in colour with aromas of mocha, sour cherry, plums, forest floor and a tad dusty smoke. It is bone dry (no pun intended!) light bodied, the above flavours follow through on the palate with a fair punch of acidity. It might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but with some fatty sausages to soak up all this Ontario grape – it would be magic.


Willy Gisselbrecht Tradition Gewurztraminer 2010

Alsace, France
$18.95 (Vintages #928390) 13% alcohol


There is no wonder that this was a Gold Medal winner at Concours Général Agricole 2011 in Paris.

I was going to say if only these aromas could be bottled but that is what Willy has done.  This lovely pale straw coloured wine is extremely floral with fragrances of red roses, white blossoms and lychee. While swirling this wine in the glass, I could not wait to taste it. Medium bodied, luscious, a little spice on the finish and all I could think of was enjoying this with some turkey curry (most of us have left overs) Pad Thai, spicey spring rolls or just a little chilled on its own – delicious.


Maquis Lien 2006

Colchagua Valley, Chile
$19.95 (Vintages #292250)  15% alcohol

An elegant silky beauty made from 42% Syrah, 30% Carmenere, 12% Cabernet Franc, 9% Petit Verdot, and 7 % Malbec; how could you not love it?  The Winery is located at the convergence of two rivers in the Colchagua Valley of Chile that benefits from a Mediterranean climate. Dark delicious ripe berries come forward on the palate, a little leather with just enough tannicky pucker to make an exqusite melange. Medium bodied mouthfeel but rich with a little spice on the end. Would be fabulous with any grilled meat.


Sasso Al Poggio 2006

IGT Toscana, (Piccini) Italy
$18.95 (LCBO #134809) 14 % alcohol

A dark ruby red that just glistens in the glass. Aromas of ripe cherries and a hint of licorice that follow through on the palate. Medium to full bodied; woodsy tastes with with a bit of chocolate and spice at the end of a long finish. Soft and rich in texture, an absolutely lovely smooth mouth feel; and I can’t count the dishes this could accompany, but lasagne and pasta bolognese certainly come to mind.

Grand Total: $99.80

whew – that was cutting it close !


Spanish Flavour Fiesta & Sparkling Wines

Posted by Susan

Thursday, March 15th, 2012

Hola España! If you enjoy Spanish wines, you’ll want to pay particular attention to the March 17 LCBO Vintages release. Included are a range of styles and varietals, including vibrant Albariño from Rías Baixas on the Atlantic, lively Verdejo from Rueda, Mencia from Bierzo and Monastrell from the plateaux of Almansa and Jumilla. There are also Tempranillo-based wines from the classic denominations of Rioja and Ribera del Duero. Almost all of these wines are under $20, many of them aged several years, offering great value.

As an example, the Cerro Añon Reserva blend of Tempranillo, Garnacha, Mazuelo and Graciano is from the 2005 vintage, the Vega Sauco Adoremus Tempranillo from the 2004 vintage. A younger wine such as the Olivares Altos de la Hoya Monastrell is a steal at $13.95.

Pick up the Vintages catalogue for suggested food matches to some of Spain’s signature grapes! If you enjoy the classic style of dry sparkling wine, produced using Pinot Noir and/or Chardonnay in what is known as the ‘Traditional Method’ (a precise measure of still wine, sugar and yeast is added during bottling, kick-starting the second fermentation in bottle, after which the wine rests on the lees and acquires yeasty, toasty notes), the secondary feature will be of interest. The selection ranges from Heidsieck Champagne through the Okanagan’s See Ya Later Ranch Brut, to the very tasty South African Graham Beck Brut sparkling. If you’re into pink, choose the Lefèvre Rémondet Crémant Rosé from Burgundy, Mumm Napa’s Sparkling Rosé, or Niagara’s G. Marquis Ice Rosé kissed with a touch of Cab Franc ice wine.

There are some unique, iconic wines in this release, including the Chateau Montelena Chardonnay, the Bordeaux-style red blend Opus One by Mondavi and Baron Philippe de Rothschild, Concha & Toro’s Don Melchor Cabernet Sauvginon, Château de Beaucastel Châteauneuf-du-Pape, and my absolute favorite, the Quintarelli Valpolicella Classico Superiore 2002. Released following the death of its legendary winemaker Giuseppe Quintarelli earlier this year, it’s not to be missed. Among the Canadian wines, Flat Rock’s Twisted white wine is always fresh and flavourful, Henry of Pelham’s Barrel Fermented Chardonnay is a well-crafted value, and the Aces Okanagan Seven Deuce Red is substantial and tasty—and entertaining!

Cheers and Enjoy,

If I only had $100, I would buy . . .
LCBO Vintages Release as of Saturday, March 17, 2012

See Ya Later Ranch
Brut n/v

VQA Okanagan Valley, B.C.
$20.95 (Vintages #271049) 12.5% alcohol
Here’s a very nice value from the south-central Okanagan, a well-crafted sparkler also produced using the traditional method. Dry, medium bodied, it’s fresh with aromas of grilled grapefruit, floral notes and a hint of nut. The nutty note replays on the dry, medium-bodied palate, fine mousse offering a clean fresh texture and carrying attractive flavours of citrus and orchard fruit through an extended, lively finish. Pick up a few bottles to celebrate spring!

Lefèvre Rémondet Crémant de Bourgogne Brut Rosé n/v
AOC Bourgogne, France
$15.95 (Vintages #265306) 12.0% alcohol
You can’t go wrong with this great value from Burgundy. The color of fresh cranberry juice, it offers appealing clean aromas of red berry fruit and lightly-grilled toast. The mousse is fine and delicate, fresh red fruit flavours crisp and bright—think cranberry, pie cherry and red currant. It finishes tangy, crisp and fruity. What’s not to like—stockpile a few bottles for casual gatherings.

Cerro Añon Reserva 2005
DOCa Rioja, Spain
$18.95 (Vintages #114306) 14.0% alcohol

Principally Tempranillo, this blend displays its lengthy oak aging with notes of vanilla, sandalwood and toast adorning red and black berries. Dry, medium-full bodied, plush and lively fruit wraps around still-perceptible tannins and fresh acidity, nuances of vanilla and sweet spice adding complexity. Charry toasty notes persist on the lasting dry yet fruit-filled finish. A substantial wine crafted for long-term cellaring, offering excellent value.

Wakefield Shiraz 2009
Clare Valley, Australia$17.95 (Vintages #943787)) 14.0% alcohol
From one of Australia’s first families of wine, this is a dry, substantial wine showcasing a subtle yet defined structure. Fragrant with ripe berries, spice, pepper and vanilla, the texture is tangy with fresh acidity, ripe tannins creating a clean frame for the spice-infused dark fruits washing across the palate and through the toasty finish. You’ll want a few bottles of this award-winning wine to enjoy now and to cellar medium term.

Quinta Nova Pomares 2009
DOC Douro, Portugal
$16.95 (Vintages #214007) 13.5% alcohol

Semi-transparent ruby, this attractive blend of classic Port grapes features high-toned aromas and flavours of red fruit, spice, dried herbs and vanilla. Dry, medium bodied, the impact on the palate is lively and fresh, the texture is appealingly silky, the tannins sleek and subtle, the finish tangy and refreshing. A well crafted wine that offers good value, drinking well now and cellarable short term.

Grand Total: $90.75

Worth the splurge: An iconic wine from a legendary producer …

Quintarelli Valpolicella Classico Superiore 2002

DOC Valpolicella, Italy
$79.95 (986117) 15.0% alcohol

Can a wine engender bliss? If so, this is the one! A decade old, released just after the death of its illustrious winemaker, Giuseppe Quintarelli, this fine garnet wine offers subtlty, elegance, depth and pure tasting joy. On the nose, whispers of leather, earth, evolved fruit, dried cherries, subtle spice and vanilla layer, mingle and merge on the palate. Pure silk, the texture is lush yet remarkably fresh, the tannins supple. There’s a sense of warmth and earthiness, of exquisite integration and balance, and a finish that lasts and lasts. Dinner out or this wine – no contest!



Start 2012 with Smart Buy wines at LCBO Vintages

Posted by Susan

Friday, January 6th, 2012

To kick off the new year, the first LCBO Vintages release on Saturday January 7th offers the opportunity to experiment with some relatively unknown European varietals and to re-stock your wine cabinet with some excellent well-priced values. Consider two whites, shoulder to shoulder in the Alpine regions of France, Roussette de Savoie, and Switzerland, the classic Chasselas (known locally as Fendant). Both offer lovely aromatics, good balance and texture, and under $20.  Among the reds, the little-known region of Irouléguy in southwestern France offers a powerful blend of Tannat and the Cabernet grape varieties, while Italy’s Sicily wine region delivers a classic savoury wine just made for meaty pasta dishes called Nero d’Avola.

Among the ‘Smart Buys’, there’s great value in Konzelmann’s Reserve Sauvignon Blanc (just off-dry) and Sue-Ann Staff’s mouthwateringly delicious Semi-Dry Riesling – both under $15 and both wineries featured in our Savvy Selections. Among the red wines, Chile offers great value and powerful flavours in the Koyle Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon.  Argentina delivers loads of flavour with the Urban Uco Malbec/Tempranillo red wine blend while Australia’s award-winning Jip Jip Rocks Shiraz fills your mouth with full-bodied fruit. Italy’s Tuscany offers the ripe yet dry Ripa delle Mandorle from Vicchiomaggio, a site with a historic castle where Leonardi da Vinci is reputed to have painted the Mona Lisa.

LCBO’s general release (main shelves in the store) also offers some excellent values, including the rich round Bordeaux Supérieur, Château la Croix de Queynac and the outstanding full-bodied Sabor Real crafted from the fruit of 70+-year-old vines. And don’t miss Pondview’s Bella Terra Cabernet Franc, a wine that was featured in Savvy Selections in the spring of 2011.

Below is my shopping list for 6 good value wines at prices that will be kind to your wallet!

Cheers and Happy 2012,

If I only had $100, I would buy . . .
LCBO Vintages Release as of Saturday January 7, 2012

Sue-Ann Staff  Semi-Dry Riesling 2008
Niagara, Ontario
$14.95 (Vintages #258632) 10.0% alcohol
Produced from grapes harvested from 4 separate parcels, this is Sue-Ann Staff’s first wine as proprietor. Pale yellow-green, there’s a whiff of petrol over mineral notes and the aromas of zesty citrus, ripe stone fruit and fresh-picked apple. Light-medium bodied and off-dry, this wine displays a great balance of fresh acidity, underlying minerality and tangy fruit that persists through the lasting finish.

Domaine de Mignaberry 2008
AOC Irouléguy, France
$18.95 (Vintages #251611) 13.0% alcohol
Primarily Tannat blended with the Cabernets, this deep violet wine from southwestern France is dry, medium-full bodied, and loaded with flavours framed by a firm structure. There’s intriguing complexity on the nose—earthy herbal notes, a whiff of spicy flowers, an elusive gamey nuance and the richness of ripe dark berries. The tannins make their presence felt, the lush berry fruit balanced with fresh acidity, the herbal notes suffusing the palate and lingering on the extended dry finish. Choose a hearty stew to match this hearty wine or cellar mid-term.

Koyle ‘Reserve’ Cabernet Sauvignon 2008
Alto Colchagua, Chile
$15.95 (Vintages #256073) 14.0% alcohol
An outstanding value, this deep ruby Cab, hand harvested and aged in French oak, is refined and stylish. There’s beguiling complexity at first scent—minty herbal notes, spice, tobacco leaf, cedar and berries. Dry, medium-full bodied, the fresh texture and ripe tannins frame vibrant red fruit—raspberry and cherry—with hints of cedar and spice persisting on an extended dry savoury finish. Pick up a few bottles. Try a bottle with prime rib and cellar the remaining ones mid term.

Montes ‘Limited Selection’ Pinot Noir 2009
DO Casablanca Valley, Chile
$14.95 (Vintages #37937) 14.0% alcohol
Here’s another great value, a dry medium-bodied ruby Pinot that offers enticing aromas of earth, beetroot, red field berry and mineral. Dry, medium bodied, the silky texture is complemented by lively acidity and vivid red berries—strawberries, red currant, cranberries. Just lovely balance, the attractive notes of spice and white pepper carrying through the tantalizing vibrant finish. This is another multiple purchase that would pair well with duck confit on yam chips served with a cranberry-orange garnish.

Vicchiomaggio Ripa delle Mandorle 2009
IGT Toscana, Italy
$15.00 (Vintages #677930) 13.5% alcohol
From a storied Tuscan property, this blend of Sangiovese and Cabernet proffers a lovely nose—floral nuances, berry fruit, spice and vanilla captivate. Beautifully balanced, it’s dry yet silky, medium bodied, ripe berry fruit caressing the palate, the spice and vanilla replaying right through the scrumptious finish. Just delicious, it would be a good match for osso bucco.

Sabor Real 2008
DO Toro, Spain
$15.95 (Vintages #172932) 14.5% alcohol
The last release of October offered the Sabor Real Vignas Centenarias, and here is yet another great Tempranillo, produced from 70+-year-old vines. Inky purple, the plush aromas are of rich dark spiced fruit, exotic spice, cigar box and some elusive floral nuances. Subtly structured, it’s dry, full-bodied, velvety with great depth of flavour – just loaded with spicy dark fruit. Lingering notes of spice, vanilla and sweet toast persist on a warm finish. A candidate for medium-term cellaring, it’s a great value.

Grand Total: $95.75


If I only had $100, I would buy . . . LCBO Vintages Release as of Saturday, December 10, 2011

Posted by Susan

Thursday, December 8th, 2011

On December 10, the grand finale of 2011 LCBO Vintages releases arrives with an extensive lineup of dazzling sparkling wines and fabulous still and dessert wine selections to savour over the holiday season. Consider a lovely salmon pink Champagne, such as Moutard Père & Fils Brut Rosé de Cuvaison, a classic California sparkler, such as the Gloria Ferrer Sonoma Brut, the vibrant, creamy Pierre Sparr Brut Réserve Crémant d’Alsace, or one of my Niagara favorites, 13th Street Cuvée 13 Sparkling Brut Rosé. It was served to the Queen during the grand re-opening of the Museum of Nature!

For sumptuous main courses, there are some outstanding values under $20 among the reds:  consider Viña Cobos Felino Malbec, Montes Alpha Carmenère, Ingoldby Shiraz, Les Hauts de Castellas Vacqueyras and Terre Nere Rosso di Montalcino. Looking for a white with panache, try Malivoire’s Musque Spritz, Gray Monk’s Gewürztraminer, Astrolabe`s Sauvignon Blanc or Anne Boecklin Pinot Gris Réserve.

Then there’s dessert, and what a selection! Poli Amaro, an Italian bitters, is a classic herb-infused digestif, or for a special sweet treat, try Warre`s Colheita Tawny. On the lighter side, both the Quady Essencia Orange Muscat and the Robert Mondavi Moscato d`Oro are delightful. For that special someone, the release features a number of iconic cellarable wines, such as Osoyoos Larose Le Grand Vin 2007 (magnum), Mission Hill Oculus 2007, Beringer Napa Valley Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon, San Guido le Difese 2009 (from the makers of Sassicaia).

The wines in our $100 selection will get you started, but you may want to treat yourself in order to take full advantage of this release. Arrivederci til 2012!

Cheers and Happy Holidays,


Robert Mondavi Moscato d’Oro 2009Napa Valley, California
$20.95 (Vintages #687392) 8.0% alcohol 375 ml

Enjoyable from start to finish, the aromas include floral notes, stone fruit and key lime pie. The wine displays a lovely balance of sweet and tang, the stone fruit and lime replaying. A fine soft fizz in combination with the subtle flavours and texture make this a very appealing and refreshing end to a holiday meal.

13th Street ‘Cuvée 13’ Sparkling Brut Rosé
 VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario
$24.95 (Vintages #147504) 12.5% alcohol

A brilliant salmon pink, this fine sparkler is a classic blend made in accordance with the méthode traditionelle of Champagne. It spent almost 3 years on the lees and displays this on the nose, which includes subtle toast, floral, and berry notes. Light-medium bodied, it has a fine, creamy mousse and refreshing acidity. Soft hints of toast and nuts carry through on the impressively long finish. A great wine for appetizers or lighter fare.

Viña Cobos ‘Felino’ Malbec 2009 Mendoza, Argentina
$19.95 (Vintages #188067) 15.0% alcohol

Paul Hobbs’ wines consistently offer value, quality and a fine taste experience. This deep violet Malbec is no exception. There’s attractive complexity on the nose and palate—red and black berries, subtle floral notes, spice, herbs and an elusive mineral quality. Dry, medium bodied, fresh in the mouth, it’s well structured, the bright raspberry and blackberry fruit wrapped in fine tannins, the finish offering warm peppery nuances. Don’t hesitate to pick up a few bottles.

Château Rochecolombe Côtes du Rhône 2009 AOC Côtes du Rhone, France
$14.95 (Vintages #255034) 13.5% alcohol

Deep violet, this award-winning blend of Syrah, Grenache and Mourvèdre is laden with ripe berry fruit, dried fruit notes and sweet spice. Dry, medium-full bodied, it bursts on the palate with spiced berries, notes of vanilla and toast. Well-integrated tannins and lively acidity assure an appealing taste experience that finishes with a spicy flourish. Pick up a few bottles to enjoy over the holiday season.

Terre Nere Rosso di Montalcino 2007DOC Montalcino, Italy
$17.95 (Vintages #249524) 13.5% alcohol

Semi-transparent ruby, this versatile Sangiovese delivers value and balance. Enjoy the intricate play of aromas—smoke, red fruit, spice, dried herbs and notes of toast. Dry, medium bodied, the wine’s rich, sweetly spiced fruit is balanced by a dash of white pepper, a fresh texture and ripe tannins. The lively fruit finish freshens the palate and brings you back for the next sip. Choose this wine to match a roasted root vegetable ragout, or a hearty meat stew.

Grand Total: $98.75


Here are a couple of outstanding, eminently cellarable wines at the higher end!

Beringer ‘Napa Valley Vineyards’ Cabernet Sauvignon 2006
 Napa Valley, California
$39.95 (Vintages #91058) 13.9% alcohol

An imposing, powerful wine, this Cab appeals with intense full aromas of dark fruit, sweet spice, toast and subtle autumnal notes. Dry, full bodied, rich ripe dark fruit, sweet spice, vanilla and toast suffuse the palate. Well-integrated tannins and fine fresh acidity frame the concentrated flavours of red and black berry. Subtle toasty notes underlie the lengthy well-balanced finish. Serve with rare prime rib, or cellar long term.

Tenuta Sette Ponti Crognolo 2008 
IGT Toscana, Italy
$33.95 (Vintages #727636) 14.0% alcohol

The intriguing nose seduces—floral notes, mineral, nuances of spice and vanilla intermingle with ripe cherry and berry fruit. On the palate, this dry, mid-weight Sangiovese-dominated wine exhibits lovely balance—fine acidity, well-integrated tannins and fresh cherry/berry fruit—the long finish offering a hint of toast. A fine wine to share with friends over the holiday season, or to cellar medium term.


If I only had $100, I would buy these wines at Vintages

Posted by Susan

Thursday, November 24th, 2011

With the holiday season approaching, you may want to select wines for entertaining at home or for offering a host that you know are consistently available. The Vintages Essentials program is a great choice! A defined group of products, always available at select LCBO retail outlets, Essentials is a collection of hand-selected, finely crafted wines from around the world whose proven popularity makes them a reliable choice for any event.

The  LCBO Vintages releases provide a great opportunity to discover new wines and spirits, but once they’re sold out, the release wine are no longer available. The program was created to satiate the increasing consumer desire for interesting boutique wines, as opposed to the large-scale production wines that could supply every store year round. So when a wine sells out, it’s the end of that vintage – or year of production – and to get more from these small-scale wineries you just have to wait until next year.

The wines in the program are regularly reviewed, and choice wines are added periodically. Recent additions include the south Okanagan’s Osoyoos Larose (626325, $45.00), a Bordeaux-style blend known for its depth and ageability, Frescobaldi CastelGiocondo’s spicy Brunello di Montalcino (650432, $49.95) and Cakebread Cellars’ opulent Cabernet Sauvignon (710426, $99.95).

The collection includes a number of  icewines, iconic Champagnes, and a wide selection of white and red wines for all occasions, including Canadian wines such as Henry of Pelham Sauvignon Blanc (430546, $14.95), Trius Red (303800, $21.95) and Mission Hill ‘Reserve’ Cabernet Sauvignon (553321, $22.95). The medley below is designed to offer a range of wines that will please every palate, readily accessible for hosting or gifting as you attend various events through the holiday season.

Cheers and Enjoy,


Willm ‘Réserve’ Riesling 2009
Alsace, France
$15.95 (Vintages #11452) 12.5% alcohol
Dry, zesty and juicy, this medium-bodied hand-harvested Riesling offers a bouquet of aromas with floral, stone fruit and citrus predominant. On the palate, it’s a pure citrus play—grapefruit and lemon/lime to the fore with flinty notes. They replay on the lingering tangy aftertaste making a great match with light appetizers or creamy seafood linguini.

Anselmi San Vincenzo 2010
Veneto, Italy
$16.95 (Vintages #948158) 12.7% alcohol
Here’s a bright golden blend of Garganega, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc that offers light floral and tree fruit aromas. Medium bodied with a refreshing acidity, it has appealing sweet fruit flavours—pears and peaches come to mind. It’s well integrated and balanced with a crisp and lingering finish. This is a versatile wine that pairs well with a range of light meat or pasta dishes.


Pérez Cruz ‘Réserva’ Cabernet Sauvignon 2009
Maipo Valley, Chile
$14.95 (Vintages #694208) 14.5% alcohol
Offering exceptional value, this dry, medium-full bodied hand-harvested wine features complex aromas—cherry berry fruit, toasty oak, sweet spice and a whiff of herbs. The texture is smooth, the tannins ripe, the taste experience flavourful and well-balanced. Attractive notes of dark chocolate and spice garnish the long polished finish. A great choice for rich meat dishes.


Mitolo ‘Jester’ Shiraz 2009
McLaren Vale, Australia
$21.95 (Vintages #659607) 15.0% alcohol
If you enjoyed the Mitolo ‘Jester’ Cabernet Sauvignon featured in a recent Vintages release, you will also enjoy this vibrant Shiraz. From vineyards that benefit from a maritime climate and long even ripening period, this ample wine is partially barrel fermented, then aged in French oak for nine months. Deep, dark and loaded with blackberry and boysenberry jam flavours, this dry, full-bodied wine offers great depth of fruit, notes of licorice, spice and toast, and a fine supporting frame. Approachable and generous, enjoy it now with grilled meats and roasted veggies, or cellar medium term.


Tommasi Ripasso Valpolicella ‘Classico Superiore’ 2009
Valpolicella, Italy
$19.95 (Vintages #910430) 13.0% alcohol
Expect depth and intensity from this classic wine of the region, which undergoes a second fermentation with the still-warm skins of the partially dried grapes pressed for Amarone. The aromas and flavours display added complexity, the core of black cherry and berry augmented with notes of sweet dried fruit. Spice, pepper and hints of cedar join the chorus. A rich, smooth, dry full-flavoured wine, it will pair well with robust meat dishes, but is very enjoyable with a fine Pecorino, dried fruits and roasted nuts.

Grand Total: $89.75


For an outstanding bubbly, elegantly packaged, try this unique Cava from the November 26 release.

Segura Viudas ‘Brut Réserva Heredad’ Cava
DO Penedès, Spain
$29.95 (Vintages #558825) 12.0% alcohol

Golden, with some green notes, this limited-production Cava, a blend of the first pressing of estate-grown Macabeo and Parellada, displays depth and lovely balance. Intense aromas of pear, citrus and toasted butter pastry entice. Dry, bright and fresh, it has a refined creamy mousse and a lively, crisp texture. Rich flavours of Bosc pear and lemon-lime wash across the palate and linger on the clean, persistent finish. A sparkling wine of presence and weight in an elegant hand-blown bottle with a pewter crest and base, it presents well as a gift or served at any holiday gathering.


If I only had $100, I would buy these wines at Vintages

Posted by Susan

Thursday, November 10th, 2011

If I only had $100, I would buy . . .

LCBO Vintages Release as of Saturday, November 12, 2011

As the holiday season approaches, premium wines and gifts for that special someone are the theme in the upcoming Vintages releases.

The principal feature in the November 12 LCBO Vintages release includes a range of top-of-the –line wines. Among the whites, a Moet & Chandon Vintage Champagne as well as select Chardonnays from California, New Zealand and Burgundy. Unique blends such as the Jonatas Todos Red, signature Malbec from Argentina and Shiraz from Australia, classic Bordeaux and Italy’s grand slam of Barolo, Brunello and Amarone are but a few of note among the reds. In this selection, several Canadian wines beckon including the Closson Chase ‘Beamsville Bench’ Chardonnay, Flat Rock’s ‘Gravity’ Pinot Noir, and Mission Hill’s ‘Quatrain’.

Looking for something sweet to share with your sweetie, or for a special holiday season meal? You’ll appreciate the extensive collection of dessert wines on offer. Consider a 10-year-old Tawny Port, a Trockenberenauslese from Germany, Moniak Mead (honey wine) from the UK, a rich Recioto from Valpolicella, or a luscious and lively Canadian treat such as Henry of Pelham’s Cabernet Franc Ice Wine.

Releases like this can make for a very short list within our target $100, but as always, we’ve found some excellent buys outside the release features as well. Don’t blow the whole holiday shopping budget, as there will be more outstanding fine wines and sparklers in the next November release and the final release of 2011 in early December!

Cheers and Enjoy,


Lenz Moser ‘Prestige’ Trockenbeerenauslese 2008
Burgenland, Austria
$19.95 (Vintages #729657) 10.0% alcohol 375 ml

Golden tending to amber, produced from select botrytis-affected berries, this harmonious well-balanced dessert wine is rich with aromas of preserved peach, apricot jam and fruit marmalade. Full bodied, luscious and satiny in texture, the apricot replays, tangerine joining the chorus, providing a perfect counterpoint of tang and honey. The underlying structure delivers a refreshing lift on the lengthy fruit-filled finish. Enjoy on its own or match it to apple strudel with crème anglaise.

Willamette Valley Vineyards Pinot Gris 2009
Willamette Valley, Oregon
$18.95 (Vintages #940528) 13.0% alcohol
Whole cluster pressed, aged sur lie, blended with a touch of Muscat and Pinot Blanc, this Pinot Gris evokes the sun-ripened fruits of summer. Delicate floral aromas and the scent of ripe orchard fruit drift from the glass. Dry, medium-full bodied, it’s rich, ample yet refreshing, the ripe fruit matched by a seam of fine acidity and a trace of minerality. Smooth yet fresh, delivering a lasting fruity finish, this is a well-crafted wine.

Stalking Horse Shiraz 2008
McLaren Vale, Australia
$17.95 (Vintages #251215) 15.0% alcohol
Aged in new American oak, inky and voluptuous, the aromas of vanilla, sweet spice, rich ripe black fruits, and an elusive smoky note leap from the glass. Fruit forward—think boysenberry jam and blackberries—the wine has a distinctive note of black licorice, a smooth, velvety texture, and a subtle structure. An ample, rich wine offering a sweetly spiced warm finish, enjoy it now and over the next few years.

Delas Frères ‘Saint-Esprit’ Côtes du Rhône 2009
AOC Côtes du Rhone, France
$14.95 (Vintages #729962) 13.5% alcohol
Dominantly Syrah blended with Grenache, Carignan and Mourvèdre, this deep violet Rhône blend is fresh and vibrant on the nose—raspberry and boysenberry to the fore, a hint of vanilla and a whiff of garrigue that transports. Dry, medium-full bodied, beautifully balanced and structured, it delivers a wash of lively fruit across the palate, a lingering peppery note and a fresh dry crisp finish. At this price, a few bottles are in order!

Duque de Medina Gran Reserva 2000
DO Cariñena, Spain
$18.95 (Vintages #148494) 12.5% alcohol
Ruby with a touch of garnet, this mellow, well-aged wine offers evolved aromas and flavours. Floral and autumnal notes, a hint of leather and subtle sweet ripened fruit drift from the glass. Displaying a velvety texture, dry, medium-full bodied, the taste experience is all about restraint and integration—tannins that melt, acidity that freshens the red fruits, hints of sweet spice and cocoa adding complexity, a lasting slightly warm finish. Very appealing and easy to drink, you could enjoy this with bison bourgignon.

Grand Total: $90.75


For a premium wine to gift or cellar, consider Mission Hill’s Quatrain!

Mission Hill Quatrain 2008
VQA Okanagan Valley, B.C.
$41.95 (Vintages #218636) 14.0% alcohol

Following on the heels of the 2006 vintage, featured in the March 15 Vintages release, this blend of Merlot, Syrah and the Cabernets is composed from the estate’s best south Okanagan fruit, separately fermented and aged in French oak. Highly aromatic and intense, the nose offers boysenberry, black cherry, spiced floral notes, and sweet cedar. Dry, full bodied, built on a firm frame, the wine delivers depth and complexity, flavours of cassis, plum, spice and herbs, and notes of toast that carry through on the long dry finish. Serve it with robust meat dishes or age 5-7 years.


If I only had $100, I would buy these wines at Vintages

Posted by Susan

Thursday, October 27th, 2011

If I only had $100, I would buy . . .

LCBO Vintages Release as of Saturday, October 29, 2011

California’s famed Sonoma region, the cradle of wine production in northern California, is at the forefront of the October 29 LCBO Vintages release, offering the opportunity to sample wines from a variety of sub-appellations (AVAs, or American Viticultural Areas) characterized by their own unique terroir. Some of the better-known AVAs include Dry Creek Valley, Alexander Valley and Russian River Valley. There are also more commodious AVAs, such as Sonoma Cast and Northern Sonoma, that allow wineries to create unique wine styles by blending grapes grown in quite different climatic zones. Russian River is one of the coolest AVAs, and is known for its well-made Pinot Noir. Dry Creek tends to be cool in the valley, and warmer on the hillsides, where Zinfandel shines. The Alexander Valley is warmer still, sheltered from the cool Pacific breezes, and reliably ripens rich, distinctive Cabernets. The Sonoma Valley is warmer to the north, so that vineyards in the lee of Sonoma Mountain produce some very attractive Chardonnay. The town of Sonoma itself, for those who may visit, is quite historic, with old missions buildings and barracks, while the surrounding hills host some of the more famous wine estates established in the 19th century. Among the Sonoma wines on offer, Paul Hobbs’ Crossbarn Chardonnay is finely crafted and balanced, while the Benzinger Family Cab Sauv is deep and rich.

For something a little lighter, try the Et Cetera Sauvignon Blanc. With the holiday season fast approaching, the party feature offers a range of wines at a variety of price points. For a well-priced, flavourful well-crafted red, try the Sabor Real Tempranillo ‘Viñas Centenarias’.

If you’re feeling adventurous, try the intriguing Lento Lamezia Riserva, a blend of three indigenous grapes of Calabria. A favorite Ontario white is Tawse ‘Sketches of Niagara’ Riesling, while 13th Street has a delightful blend called ‘Red Palette’ (both wineries have been featured in Savvy Selections). And if you want to impress, offer a bottle of Château de Beaucastel Coudoulet de Beaucastel, an outstanding and complex wine that can be enjoyed now or cellared long term.

There are some other attractive values in the release, including a Chilean Carmenère at $12.95 and the always reliable Lingenfelder ‘Bird Label’ Riesling at $13.95. One of my absolute favorite sparkling wines is also on offer, Louis Bouillot ‘Perle Rare Brut’ Crémant de Bourgogne, at $19.95, a lovely sipper for a party, or for a cheery evening at home. So many wines, so little time . . .

Cheers and Enjoy,


Louis Bouillot ‘Perle Rare Brut’ Crémant de Bourgogne 2007
AOC Bourgogne, France
$19.95 (Vintages #178137) 12.0% alcohol

Pale straw with a delicate yet abundant mousse, this vintage dry Crémant offers a lovely nose of stone fruit, honey melon, citrus and lightly toasted bread. Crisp acidity and lively minerality offer a fine counterpoint to the orchard fruit and citrus. A hint of the toasty lees lingers on the long vibrant finish. Pop the cork for any occasion!

Natura Chardonnay 2011
Casablanca Valley, Chile
$15.95 (Vintages #61895) 14.0% alcohol
Using organic cultivation to bring out the character of the terroir and the full expression of the grapes, Emiliana offers this unoaked refreshingly crisp Chardonnay. Dry, medium bodied, it proffers aromas of melon, peach, apple and citrus, delivering a zesty emphasis on the apple and citrus on the palate. Juicy and flavourful, with a hint of warmth on the finish, this is a great value. Shrimp salad with a lemon dressing, or grilled salmon anyone?

Mitolo ‘Jester’ Cabernet Sauvignon 2010
McLaren Vale, Australia
$21.95 (Vintages #43244) 14.9% alcohol
Twenty percent of the hand-picked fruit was air-dried for 8 weeks, adding depth and texture to this ripe well-crafted Cab. A subtle earthiness and scent of spiced rose underlies the ripe berry fruit and vanilla. Dry, medium-full bodied and generous, the well-integrated tannins and refreshing acidity provide balance to the ripe spice-infused fruit. Long, fresh spicy on the finish, it’s looking for a nice juicy steak

Château Moulin de Canhaut 2006
AOC Médoc, France
$17.95 (Vintages #190983) 13.0% alcohol
An award-winning blend of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon this dry medium-full bodied Bordeaux has an intriguing nose offering a whiff of old-fashioned rose, smoke, spice, cassis and field berries. Rich, smooth and flavourful, it’s remarkably fruity, though well balanced with fine acidity and well-integrated tannins. Layered notes of spice, pepper and underbrush add complexity, a trace of roasted coffee beans lingering on the finish. A very good value, this wine is well matched with hearty meat dishes.

Sabor Real Tempranillo ‘Vinas Centenarias’ 2007
DO Toro, Spain
$15.00 (Vintages #244772) 14.5% alcohol
Produced from ancient century-old vines, this Tempranillo shows a hint of mahogany and enticing aromas of licorice, cigar box, spice and raspberry/blueberry pie. Dry, medium-full bodied, it’s deftly structured and balanced, offering ripe fruit on the palate embellished with subtle earthy notes, herbs and spice that follow through on the extended finish. Pick up a few bottles of this exceptional value, as it is expected to cellar a further 5-7 years.

Grand Total: $90.80


Enjoy this second wine of one of Châteauneuf-du-Pape’s premier producers!

Château de Beaucastel Coudoulet de Beaucastel 2009
AOC Côtes du Rhône-Villages, France
$29.95 (Vintages #48884) 14.0% alcohol

A blend of Mourvèdre, Grenache, Syrah and Cinsault from a producer proud of its natural winemaking strategy—no chemicals, pesticides or herbicides are used, and the wine is unfiltered—this wine is reliably good year after year. Attractive red berry fruit, spice, autumnal notes and a hint of leather drift from the glass. Dry, full bodied, rich with ripe black fruit, spice and herbs, the wine is round and balanced, firm, well-integrated tannins and fresh acidity providing just the right counterpoint to the well-ripened fruit. A savoury spicy wine that keeps you coming back for just another sip. You’ll want to enjoy it now, but a couple of bottles will cellar long term.


If I only had $100, I would buy these wines at Vintages

Posted by Susan

Thursday, September 29th, 2011

If I only had $100, I would buy . . .

LCBO Vintages Release as of Saturday, October 1, 2011

Taste a world traveller in the October 1 LCBO Vintages release, which offers a range of different styles of Syrah/Shiraz from around the world. Why the two different spellings?Cooler climates such as the Northern Rhône, the original home of Syrah, produce ageworthy wines known to be dry and structured, characterized by bright fruit flavours, black pepper and mint. In climates where the warmth allows the grapes to fully ripen, such as South Australia, winemakers will often label their wines as Shiraz to distinguish their wines as bigger, more full bodied, ripely fruity, spicy and more softly structured. Of course, there are wines of every style in between and from newer regions, such as Chile and Argentina where the climate facilitates the creation of a wine with fairly soft texture and ripe sweet fruit underpinned with the classic Rhône structure. And Syrah is also found in a range of blends, including the wines of the southern Rhône, where it typically is blended with varietals such as Grenache, Mourvèdre, Cinsault and Carignan.

There’s also a good example of an Australian blend in this release, Hickinbotham’s Shiraz/Cabernet Sauvignon. Consider tasting a range of these wines, from Guigal’s classic Crozes-Hermitage, to the powerful full-bodied eminently ageable Barossa Valley Estate Ebenezer Shiraz, to the Syrah from Chile or Sicily. The substantial secondary feature is perfect for those who want to start a cellar. The quality of the fruit, levels of acidity and tannic structure are critical factors affecting the ageability of wines. With certain varietals and blends, classic examples being Burgundian and Bordeaux wines, methods of oak aging are also of significance. Perhaps you selected one or two Bordeaux wines from the Septembere 17 release to start your cellar. With this release, you can consider two Canadian whites—Le Clos Jordanne’s Talon Ridge Chardonnay, or Vineland’s St. Urban Riesling—a Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa or South Australia, a Burgundy from Domaine Bouchard Père et Fils, a Brunello or Barolo from Italy, and a Vintage Port, among others. You won’t go wrong with any of these and can create a small selection to choose from and to build on in the future.

Finally, Thanksgiving is just around the corner, and there are some wines in this release that are a perfect match for that festive meal. For an all-Canadian line-up, consider the Cranberry Wine from Stoney Ridge to whet your appetite or with the meal, a choice of Tawse Sketches of Niagara Chardonnay or Wayne Gretzky’s Pinot Noir for the main course, and finish up with the Pomme de Glace Ice Cider with your apple pie and ice cream!

Happy Thanksgiving,


Vineland ‘St. Urban’ Riesling 2009
VQA Niagara Escarpment, Ontario
$19.95 (Vintages #38117) 8.4% alcohol
While almost transparent, this wine is very fragrant—pear, sweet citrus and a fine mineral quality drift from the glass. Definitively off-dry, there’s a faint hint of spritz, lovely lemon-lime flavours, traces of stone fruit and mineral, balanced by a clean stream of fine acidity. Beautifully crafted and tasty, you just want more . . . so buy a few bottles, as this will cellar medium-long term.

Babich ‘Black Label’ Sauvignon Blanc 2010
Marlborough, New Zealand
$17.95 (Vintages #9142) 14.0% alcohol
Big and substantial are not the usual terms for a Sauvignon Blanc, but they’re just right in the case of this fragrant wine. Inhale the aromas and savour the rich flavours of ripe tropical fruit—imagine lime-splashed papaya—gooseberry, nettle and a hint of fresh ginger. Beautifully balanced, dry, full on the palate, this is a gorgeous wine with some zip on the fruit-filled finish.

Luigi Bosca ‘Single Vineyard’ Malbec 2008
Luján de Cuyo, Argentina
$21.95 (Vintages #74922) 14.4% alcohol
The impressive pedigree—fruit from a 70-year-old vineyard, 14 months oak aging—from a highly reputable producer portends the quality and depth of this wine. Notably complex and lush aromas of berry, plum, cocoa, toasty oak and dried herbs lead the way to a full dry velvety palate that’s equally complex. Subtly framed by ripe tannins and fine acidity, rich fruit flavours and notes of cocoa persist on the lasting supple finish. Drinking well now, the wine will cellar 5-7 years.

Pérez-Cruz ‘Limited Edition’ Syrah 2009
Maipo Alto, Chile
$19.95 (Vintages #588812) 14.0% alcohol
Produced from hand-picked grapes wrested from stony soils, this is a dry, medium bodied wine with layered aromas and flavours. Earthy herbal notes, a hint of balsamic, a whiff of spiced rose and the tang of ripe raspberries mingle with focused dark berry fruit,The texture is appealingly fresh, the tannins somewhat chalky, the overall experience intriguing and consistently flavourful through the lasting finish. A match for lamb or beef.

Feudo Principi di Butera Syrah 2008
IGT Sicilia, Italy
$16.95 (Vintages #247510) 13.0% alcohol
Appealing aromas of rich ripe dark fruit, sweet spice and smoky toast waft from the glass. Dry, medium-full bodied, the core of intense berry fruit wraps around a firm structure, the notes of spice and pepper lasting through a balanced savoury finish. Approachable and very flavourful, this is a wine to enjoy with robust meat dishes.

Grand Total: $96.75


Tuck this Barolo away in the cellar – a great value!

Marchesi di Barolo Barolo 2005
DOCG Barolo, Italy
$34.95 (Vintages #168179) 14.0% alcohol
A very attractive, elegant designed-to-age wine that offers subtle alluring floral notes and aromas of earth, red fruit, toast and vanilla. Dry, medium bodied and tight-knit, the tannins are notable, the flavours of wild strawberry, pepper and spice box balanced by fine acidity. Delivering a long intense finish, this wine is a great value. Created for long-term cellaring, hold it for a few more years, or serve decanted accompanied by veal chops with porcini mushrooms.

More about my blog post: If I only had $100, I would buy…
There is a myriad of wines out there, so it’s often a challenge deciding what to select when the LCBO Vintages catalogue comes out every two weeks or so. Like a kid in a candy shop, your attention darts from one treat to another, but what to choose . . . Something to serve to your guests this weekend? Something to put away for a special occasion? Something to store for a autumn afternoon?

I recognize that each person’s tastes and preferences are unique. “If I had $100 . . .”, will be posted just prior to LCBO Vintages releases and will highlight unique wines I have tasted that provide good value; the selection will total no more than $100.

Occasionally, I may include an optional wine – you can substitute or add it for a little more or a little less! Print this off as your shopping list knowing that these wines have been selected by a Savvy Sommelier who has sipped, savoured & swirled countless wines before they arrived on the shelves in Vintages.  Hopefully you too will find a new favorite wine.  And when you do, quickly save your pennies to buy a bottle or two more.  Warning that once a wine is gone from a particular Vintages release, that vintage, and sometimes that wine, is gone for good!


If I only had $100, I would buy these wines at Vintages

Posted by Susan

Thursday, September 15th, 2011

If I only had $100, I would buy . . .

LCBO Vintages Release as of Saturday, September 17, 2011

Highlighting the 2008 vintage in Bordeaux, the September 17 LCBO Vintages release also includes an opportunity to compare cool-climate Pinot Noir originating from Oregon and Burgundy as well as a special selection of four New Zealand wines. The 2008 vintage in Bordeaux was full of ups and downs, including erratic bud break in the early spring and a killing frost in April that severely reduced yields. The early summer was wet and damp, impacting flowering. Although the sun shone in July, August and early September were cool requiring green harvesting which further reduced yields. Fortunately, the warm dry weather returned in September and carried through October, creating favorable harvest conditions for those properties willing to let their fruit hang. In general, it seems the fruit was in good condition, but there was much less of it. Bordeaux watchers indicate there is significant variability from one appellation to another, so this LCBO Vintages feature creates the opportunity to compare a wide range of wines from both left and right bank producers. Look for fragrance, freshness and fruitiness.(1) Select a wine from each major region, for instance Château Pontet-Caillou and Château des Moines, and give them a try! And keep in mind that the October 1 release features wines chosen for those beginning a private cellar – with the September 17 selection of Bordeaux wines, you can get a head start right now! The Pinot Noir face off features samples from the 2008 and 2009 vintages in Burgundy and Oregon’s Williamette Valley which, like Burgundy, has a number of sub-regions (known as AVAs) that produce distinct types of wines. This is another opportunity to compare and contrast wines whose character will vary, in this case based on geography, terroir, clonal selection, growing philosophy and winemaking methods. Parent’s Bourgogne Pinot Noir and Red Shot Lane Pinot Noir offer a good starting point. Finally, if you are an aficionado of premiium New Zealand wines, you can choose from a Sauvignon Blanc, a Chardonnay, a Pinot Noir and a Bordeaux-style blend, all rated 90+.



Château le Grand Moulin Cuvée Collection 2008
AOC Bordeaux, France
$15.95 (Vintages #245357) 13.0% alcohol

This award-winning wine gets points for value and approachability. There’s a nuance of vanilla drifting over lovely rich spiced fruit. Dry, mid-weight, it’s subtly structured, silky on the palate and loaded with ripe red cherry/berry flavours, notes of fines herbes and spiced toast garnishing the mid-length finish. Savour it now or put some bottles aside to enjoy in the next couple of years.

Château des Moines 2008
AOC Lalande-de-Pomerol, France
$22.95 (Vintages #206789) 12.5% alcohol
Semi-opaque, ruby hued, this Merlot-based Bordeaux delivers aromas of smoky toast, spicy roses, cedar and field berries. There’s a firm underlying structure, a velvety caressing texture, and an attractive balance of fresh acidity and concentrated flavours of plum, dark berries, spice and roasted peppers. Persistent and dry on the finish, it’s a good candidate for mid-term cellaring.

Domaine Parent ‘Bourgogne’ Pinot Noir 2009
AOC Bourgogne
$19.95 (Vintages #597971) 13.8% alcohol
This is a very nice value, delivering a subtle floral fragrance, earthiness and aromas of spiced red berries. Dry, medium bodied and supple, there’s a well-crafted balance of tangy red fruit, soft tannins and lively acidity. A lovely flavourful well-structured wine. Enjoy it now with roast duck breast, or cellar medium term.

Gehringer Brothers ‘Private Reserve’ Pinot Gris 2009
VQA Okanagan Valley, British Columbia
$17.95 (Vintages #347203) 13.2% alcohol
Dressed in the pink straw tint of an autumn grass, this is a mouthwateringly delicious wine with tantalizing aromas of stone fruit, honey melon, musky floral and subtle citrus notes. Dry, medium bodied and fresh, the fine flavourful orchard fruit rides on a backbone of lively acidity, finishing with a tangy little kick. A versatile wine that’s a great value.

Emiliana ‘Winemaker’s Selection’ Syrah/Mouvèdre 2007
Colchagua Valley, Chile
$18.95 (Vintages #243394) 14.5% alcohol
Biodynamic vineyard and winemaking practices were used to produce this dense tantalizing wine. Complexity on the nose—earthy autumnal notes, sweet herbs, a hint of tapenade and rich dark fruit—is evident on the palate. Dry, medium-full bodied, fresh acidity and firm structure frame dark berries and cherries overlaid with enticing nuances of toast, herbs and spice. A wine that lingers and invites another sip, and another. Enjoy it with grilled beef marinated in balsamic and herbs.

Grand Total: $96.75

More about my blog post: If I only had $100, I would buy…
There is a myriad of wines out there, so it’s often a challenge deciding what to select when the
LCBO Vintages catalogue comes out every two weeks or so. Like a kid in a candy shop, your attention darts from one treat to another, but what to choose . . . Something to serve to your guests this weekend? Something to put away for a special occasion? Something to store for a autumn afternoon?

I recognize that each person’s tastes and preferences are unique. “If I had $100 . . .”, will be posted just prior to LCBO Vintages releases and will highlight unique wines I have tasted that provide good value; the selection will total no more than $100.

Occasionally, I may include an optional wine – you can substitute or add it for a little more or a little less! Print this off as your shopping list knowing that these wines have been selected by a Savvy Sommelier who has sipped, savoured & swirled countless wines before they arrived on the shelves in Vintages.  Hopefully you too will find a new favorite wine.  And when you do, quickly save your pennies to buy a bottle or two more.  Warning that once a wine is gone from a particular Vintages release, that vintage, and sometimes that wine, is gone for good!



If I only had $100, I would buy these wines at Vintages

Posted by Susan

Thursday, September 1st, 2011

If I only had $100, I would buy . . .
LCBO Vintages Release as of Saturday, September 3, 2011

If you enjoy the complexity, depth and texture of big red blends, the September 3 LCBO Vintages release delivers! The release leads with classic Bordeaux blends, such as Château le Monteil d’Arsac. There’s Inniskillin Okanagan’s Merlot-dominated Meritage, de Toren Z, a rich South African Bordeaux-style blend that also leads with Merlot, classic Rhône blends such as the Lavau Gigondas (Mourvèdre, Grenache and Syrah) and the Domaine Chante Cigale Tradition Châteauneuf-du-Pape, a blend which can include as many as 13 varietals, although this one is principally Grenache, married with regional classics such as Syrah, Mouvèdre and Cinsault.

Other blends include Yalumba’s Iconic Cabernet Sauvginon/Shiraz, combining the plush texture and spice of the former varietal, with the structure and aging potential of the latter, and classics such as Brigaldara’s Amarone. A Spanish winemaker, discussing her wines, once said that she felt that blending was the best way to create wines—in this manner, she could bring out the unique attributes of each varietal and vintage, blend the wines to optimize particular characteristics and offer unique intriguing creations with significant complexity.

For those interested in the building blocks of a classic blend, there’s a fabulous education in the component tasting and presentation by Pascal Madevon, winemaker and vineyard manager at Osoyoos Larose. At a seminar a couple of years ago for instance, he described the 2008 Grand Vin, leading with Merlot, providing big structure and volume, Cabernet Franc, whose chocolaty notes and strong tannins envelope and provide more power, Malbec contributing a big nose and acidity, Petit Verdot the source of more tannic structure and aromas, and Cabernet Sauvignon adding complexity and additional ageability to the blend.

In addition to classic red blends, we are seeing more appealingly aromatic blended whites from Ontario and British Columbia, for instance, 13th Street’s White Palette, included in an earlier release, and Road 13’s Honest John’s White in the current release. It includes Riesling, Kerner, Gewürztraminer, Schoenerger, Muller Thurgau and Pinot Gris, delivering lifted and complex aromatics on a backbone of zesty acidity. Try some of these blends, and take the opportunity to compare say an Australian Cab Sauv/Shiraz blend with a varietal Australian Shiraz or Cabernet Sauvginon.

The second feature marks the 150th anniversary of Italian unification with a selection of wines from some of Italy’s best-known appellations and varietals—Piemonte’s Dolcetto, Barbera and Barbaresco, Sangiovese-based Chianti Classico and Morellino di Scansanco from Toscana, a tasty Amrarone from Valpolicella, and Negroamara and Primitivo from Puglia in the south. There’s something here for every palate and pocketbook. This selection includes an irresistible dessert wine, Muscat de Beaumes-de-Venise. Share it with friends over the long weekend!

de Toren Z 2008
WO Stellenbosch, South Africa
$32.95 (Vintages #178194) 14.5% alcohol

Well-crafted and finely balanced, the aromas of this classic Right Bank Bordeaux-style blend draw you right in—dark berry and plum, roasted peppers and sun-kissed herbs. Dry, medium-full bodied, robust yet supple, the components all knit together—well-integrated tannins, lovely fresh acidity and ripe fruit nuanced with mint and herbs. The finish is long, warm, fruity and slightly peppery. Full flavoured and just plain delicious.

Luis Felipe Edwards ‘Reserva’ Merlot 2009
Colchagua Valley, Chile
$14.95 (Vintages #250340) 14.0% alcohol
Enjoy the tantalizing array of aromas—floral, herbal, spice, raspberry and black cherry—in this big, deep inky wine. Dry, medium-full bodied, displaying lively texture and great underlying structure, the flavourful fruit is complemented with a replay of spice and herbs, some notes of toast garnishing the lengthy warm dry finish.

Inniskillin ‘Winemaker’s Series Barrel-Aged’ Pinot Gris 2009
VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario
$19.95 (Vintages #177766) 14.0% alcohol
Offering an elegant twist on the varietal, this dry award-winning medium-bodied wine is subtle, spiced and fruity on the nose. Lush yet lively in texture, it brings to mind preserved peaches, honeyed roast pear and lemon chiffon pie. There’s a nice lift from spice and pepper on the fresh lasting fruity finish. Delish!

Domaine des Bernardins Muscat de Beaumes-de-Venise 2009
AOC Beaumes-de-Venise, France
$16.95 (Vintages #129999) 15.0% alcohol (375 ml)
It’s a dream, seducing you with notes of dried apricot, peach nectar, honeysuckle, honey and fruit of the vine. The texture is luscious and silky, the sumptuous preserved stone fruit and dried mango is poised on a backbone of generous acidity, and a hint of warmth glides through the delectable finish. A lovely closer, sip it on its own or with an orange crème brulée, or cellar long term.

Grand Total: $84.80

Worth the splurge:
Here’s a tasty modestly priced Amarone for your enjoyment!
Corte Majoli Amarone della Valpolicella 2007
DOCG Valpolicella, Italy
$33.95 (Vintages #81943) 15.5% alcohol

Head straight to the display for this classic value-laden Amarone. Savour the warm aromas of ripe fruit, dried berries, chocolate-coated caramel and cedar. Dry, medium bodied, the texture is like satin across the palate, the balance exquisite, and the layers of flavours fascinating—from ripe red fruit, through bittersweet chocolate, a toffee-like note and exotic spice. The finish is warm, fruity and so tasty, you just want more. Savour it with an aged Pecorino.

More about my blog post: If I only had $100, I would buy…
There is a myriad of wines out there, so it’s often a challenge deciding what to select when the
LCBO Vintages catalogue comes out every two weeks or so. Like a kid in a candy shop, your attention darts from one treat to another, but what to choose . . . Something to serve to your guests this weekend? Something to put away for a special occasion? Something to store for a autumn afternoon?

I recognize that each person’s tastes and preferences are unique. “If I had $100 . . .”, will be posted just prior to LCBO Vintages releases and will highlight unique wines I have tasted that provide good value; the selection will total no more than $100.

Occasionally, I may include an optional wine – you can substitute or add it for a little more or a little less! Print this off as your shopping list knowing that these wines have been selected by a Savvy Sommelier who has sipped, savoured & swirled countless wines before they arrived on the shelves in Vintages.  Hopefully you too will find a new favorite wine.  And when you do, quickly save your pennies to buy a bottle or two more.  Warning that once a wine is gone from a particular Vintages release, that vintage, and sometimes that wine, is gone for good!