Posts Tagged ‘wine shopping’

If I only had $100…I would buy at Vintages

Posted by Julie

Monday, November 28th, 2016

As we move towards the holiday season, Vintages always features “Our Finest” and it is a magnificent release. Everything from single malts to brandies, Grappa, Champagne and all delicious new delectable fine wines.


The only thing that I am complaining about is my measley $100 budget for this blog.  There are so many incredible luxuries in this release that a much bigger budget is required.  Note to self…I should talk to my editor about a ‘raise’.

Whether you are on a budget or like to splurge, there are still some tried and true wines that I always love to see.  The new styles are calling, like new shoes…like wine, you can never have too many shoes!
– Julie


If I only had $100, I would buy…
LCBO Vintages Release for November 26, 2016



Domaine de Vaugondy Brut Vouvray

Méthode Traditionelle, AC
$17.95 (Vintages #154567) 12.5 % alcohol

 In 1936 the Village of Vouvray was created as an Appellation d’origine contrôlée (AOC). Located along the right bank of the Loire river, Chenin Blanc is the dominant and almost exclusive grape of Vouvray.

Vouvray produces more than a million cases of wine a year. This straw coloured sparkling offers fine moussey bubbles that release alluring aromas of tropical fruit, toasted almonds, green apple and apricot. They also replay on the taste buds. Dry, medium bodied, it captures the senses with fruit flavours and a honey’d note towards the end. It’s a divine and elegant sparkling wine as an apperitif or to accompany grilled fish.


gerard-bertrand-la-clapeGerard Bertrand Grand Terroir La Clape

Syrah/Carignan/Mouvedre 2013
$18.95 (Vintages #370262) 13.5 % alcohol

I have become a fan of Bertrand wines, fantastic quality at great price points. This rich, sexy blend has aromas and tastes of dark cherries, plums and currants. A medium bodied red wine with soft tannins, some mocha and a savoury spice on the finish. Would be a perfect match to a hearty stew or lamb shanks.


san-felice-chianti-classico-2013San Felice Chianti Classico 2013

DOCG, Tuscany
$19.95 (Vintages #282996) 13% alcohol

Expressive wafts of floral red cherries introduce you to this classic Chianti. It’s an easy drinking red wine as sweet cherry and raspberry fruits explode on the palate. Bone-dry, medium weight and offers some earthy, leather notes on the finish. With a spicy lasagna, you’ve found yourself a great dinner party.


union-forte-2012Union Forte 2012

VQA Niagara Peninsula
$17.95 (Vintages #361758) 19.5%

This fortified port style wine is deep mahogany in colour with aromas of Christmas cake, dried fruit, roasted almonds and berries. The mouthfeel is smooth, creamy and mouthwatering. A range of layered fruit flavours on the palate, medium bodied and a deliciously sweet with a long dried blackberry finish.

Serve on ice as an aperitif or it would make a superb after dinner drink with some stinky blue cheese – a classic!


georgian-hills-bartlett-frozen-to-the-core-2014Georgian Hills Bartlett Frozen to the Core 2014

Blue Mountains, Ontario
$19.95 (Vintages #347401) 8.5% alcohol

Deliciously sweet but not cloying with intense aromas and flavours of ripe pear.

Georgian Hills produces other desert icewines: a Frozen to the Core Ida Red, a Vidal and Baked Apple all of which embrace fruit farming in the cool climate of the Georgian Bay wine region. Less expensive than other icewine their nectars are fruit driven and refreshing, deliver good acidity and plain delicious. Another reason to showcase our Ontario wines.


Grand Total = $94.75


If I only had $100…I would buy at LCBO Vintages

Posted by Julie

Friday, November 11th, 2016

About this time every year LCBO Vintages showcases ‘Star Quality’ as a feature of the release. We all know what this also means…’star prices’.   Icewine, French Champagne and sparkling wines flow prominently on the pages. I wish I could buy one of each however with my blog budget of $100, I’ll have to leave the Champagne for another time.

vintages-nov-12However, there are some star quality wines that I’d recommend to stock up on.

Also, there are several great wines coming out in large sized 1500 mL bottles. It sounds like a lot of wine, but if you are having a dinner party or a holiday feast, they are super easy to decant at the table and good value too. In particular, I’m thinking of the J. Lohr Seven Oaks Cabernet Sauvignon 2011 at $44.95 or Catena Malbec 2014 at $39.95.  Both red wines are heavy duty crowd pleasers and great accompaniments to lasagna, roasts or ribs.

No shortage of star quality in this release.




If I only had $100, I would buy…
LCBO Vintages Release for Saturday November 12, 2016


dog-point-sauvignon-blanc-2015Dog Point Sauvignon Blanc 2015

Marlborough, South Island, New Zealand
$24.95 (Vintages #677450)  13.5% alcohol

I wouldn’t recommend wines with animals in the name unless it was star quality and this white wine is definitely one that gets top marks. Any easy sipping white wine that is pale in colour but packs a punch in taste and texture.  Aromatic white flowers start the senses with peachy apricots, tree fruit on the palate and a crisp lemon lime finish. It is a light-bodied Sauvignon Blanc with gentle finesse and one mouthwatering taste. Enjoy it on its own, with appetizers or light meals.



clayhouse-cabernet-sauvignon-2015Clayhouse Cabernet Sauvignon 2015

Paso Robles, California
$17.00  (Vintages #057869) 13.5% alcohol

Paso Robles is known for its abundance of olive oil, hot springs, almond orchards and wineries.  Mid-way between Los Angeles and San Francisco the landscape is mainly dry grassland. Roughly 24 miles from the Pacific Ocean, the climate is almost Mediterranean with long hot summers and brief cool winters. This landscapes allows the grapes to reach their absolute maximum potential which we then can enjoy in such vintages as the above. It tastes much richer than its’ terrific price point. Dark and opaque, black currant and plum flavours, smooth as silk with a some pencil shaving oak on the finish. Fruity but structured makes for easy drinking red wine. I’d pair it with any grilled meat or a prime rib roast. Delicious.



Clos de los Siete

Mendoza, Argentina
$23.95 (Vintages #622571) 14.5%

Since returning from a trip to Argentina this past February, a wine from Mendoza always makes its way to my shopping basket. This red wine blend nearly reaches nirvana for me. Predominantly Malbec (57%) with Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah in the follow up. Dark ruby with aromas and flavours of ripe blueberries, black cherries, currants with some mocha on the finish. This nectar  integrates soft tannins with fabulously smooth intensity and depth. Pair with the usual red meat suspects but worthy of a veal chop splurge.



Reif Vidal Icewine 2014

VQA Niagara-on-the-Lake
$24.95  (Vintages #544791) 10% alcohol

Reif Estate Winery has been a long time producer of fine Canadian icewine. This one is harvested from a 12 acre block planted in 1981. Those grapes have had lots of time to think about their future! The average picking temperatures range from -10 to -12 C and this vintage was harvested in January 2014.  Lusciously sweet with honey, toffee, apricots and peaches fill the senses with a memorable creamy mouthfeel. There is a little marmalade on the finish and it is a divine expression of icewine.  With some soft blue cheese it would be over the top.


Grand Total = $90.85



Sure…we’ll do wine shopping for seniors

Posted by Debbie

Monday, November 23rd, 2015

Have you started your wine shopping yet?  On my fridge, I have a magnet that reminds me “So many wines, so little time”. The truth is that we are creatures of habit and despite so many options,it’s often easier to simply reach for a bottle of wine that we know. Are you like that?

What can a personal wine shopper do for you?

Savvy Company Keep Calm & Drink Canadian Wine t-shirtAt Savvy Company, we are just a phone call away. When a friend called me recently and asked me to help her buy wine for her parent,  I thought – what a great job I have!

“My parents are in their 90’s.They drink a glass of Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc every day. And it’s been that way for years.” I have to admit, her parents have good taste in wine, yet I can only imagine what it is like to drink a zippy zingy high acidity wine each day. Shouldn’t it be that variety is the spice of life, as the saying goes?

I called her parents to find out what they really like and was on the ready to pick wines based on their preferences. After all, that is the role of a Sommelier!

Turns out that they buy this wine not only because they like it, they also know exactly where to find the bottles in the LCBO each time they go shopping. The net-net, they need shopping for wine to be dead easy. With both on the phone, they explained, “It is mesmerizing looking at the thousands of different wine labels. We just want to go in, pick up what we want and get out of there with our supply of wine for the next few days.”

Turns out, this ritual happens twice a week! The words on the magnet echoed in my head. Seniors, or for that matter, wine drinkers of any age, can enjoy the discovery of the world of wines without even stepping out their front door.

Keeping seniors off the streets

You know what I mean! There is no need for them to be driving on bad weather days during the winter bound for the wine store. Loblaws and Walmart have this figured out. Both have recently launched online grocery shopping service. Take it one step further, taxis and Uber will even pick up orders at the grocery stores and deliver to seniors’ residences or homes.

When it comes to delivering wine or craft beer, Savvy Company’s Sommeliers will take on this job. “It’s super easy,” explains Amanda Jackson of Savvy Company, “Our Sommeliers spend time finding out what they like in a wine, then arrange for a customized assortment from various wineries throughout Ontario. And it will be delivered right to their door – home, office or even retirement residence.”

Debbie-bottle-boxCustomized wine delivery to seniors residences

“When I learned this service existed, I was very interested.”  Catherine Strevens – Bourque, Director of Lifestyles and Community Relations at the Rockcliffe Retirement Residence. “Customized wine delivery is an impressive  luxury and a service our residents appreciate.  Sage advice, excellent suggestions and  more impressively, Savvy Company will host a wine & cheese and provide ordering options.  This  is an absolute bonus and naturally,  a well attended social event!”

“No longer do we need to call our daughter to take us to the LCBO,” explains Alwyne Greenhalgh who is 92 and lives in her own home with her husband Roy. He pipes in, “Over the years, our personal Sommelier has found delicious wines that I would never have ventured to try. With service tailored to our budget, why wouldn’t anyone have wine delivered? It’s a great way to shop.”

And not just limited to seniors

Having deliveries of wine or for that matter craft beer is a service that’s available for everyone. Slowly it is being recognized as THE new way to shop. So ask yourself (or your aging parents), why bother with traffic when a personal Sommelier can pick wines especially for you to magically arrive at your doorstep. From the comfort of your own armchair, wine shopping has never been easier.

I’ll drink to that!



If I only had $100, I would buy….

Posted by Susan

Friday, May 22nd, 2009

If I only had $100, I would buy…

For the May 23, 2009 LCBO Vintages release


Fire up the BBQ, the summer weather is here. With so many wines to choose from, which ones to buy? 


Problem solved.  



I am part of a panel that samples the wines several weeks before they arrive on the store shelves at Vintages.  This means, I have made my list of ‘must buy wines’, weeks before the wines are in stock at your local LCBO.  To help you decide which wines to buy & serve with BBQ fare, here is my list if I only had $100, I would buy…



Worth every penny – Palliser Estate Pinot Noir, New Zealand

$28.95    Check Inventory at LCBO Vintages

New Zealand makes outstanding Pinots – this is my hands down favorite.  An elegant, medium bodied wine that with one swirl, smells like a bouquet of red roses. With one sip, tastes of red cherry & warm heat makes for a delicious wine that lingers forever.  Classic match for Pinot Noir is grilled salmon or serve this one with BBQ lamb chops & grilled portabello mushrooms.  Watch out, this wine will sell out fast!


Bring on the burgers – G7 Reserva Carmenère, Chile

$14.95    Check Inventory at LCBO Vintages

Carmenère is a crowd pleaser at a great price too! For the longest time, Chilean winemakers thought this grape variety was Merlot – until they put it under a microscope & discovered that it wasn’t.  Carmenère has become Chile’s signature grape variety. This wine is BIG, full bodied & ready to be paired with anything off the BBQ.  At this price…stock up for the summer!


Sip with sizzling steaks – Spellbound Old Vines Zinfandel, California

$20.95    Check Inventory at LCBO Vintages

This wine is not from Napa or Sonoma, rather from the small town of Lodi (a 40 minute drive from Napa) where vineyards look more like corn fields – rows upon rows that never seem to end.  Many vines are over 100 years old, looking more like little trees with dark bunches of grapes. Wines made with ‘old vines’ are full bodied intense & concentrated tastes of black plums, black cherry, molasses & dark chocolate.  Absolutely delicious!


Ribs are ready!  Casa Santos Sousão, Portugal

$21.95    Check Inventory at LCBO Vintages

A BIG wine made with Portugal’s up & coming grape variety – Sousão.  The full bodied wine is deep purple in colour & loaded with tastes of black plums, figs, cedar & vanilla with a touch of smoke.  Can’t go wrong with this one!




Can you spare $5?

This delicious white wine is worth adding to your shopping cart – Villa Giada Ceirole Moscato d’Asti, Italy

$18.95   Check Inventory at LCBO Vintages

Chill & sip during a picnic, before a BBQ feast or even with dessert.  The wine may smell sweet – but doesn’t taste sweet. Luscious flavours of honey, lime, mandarin will fill your glass with fine bubbles.  Lay out the cheese platter, or serve with summertime salads or BBQ pineapples & strawberries to enjoy with this wine. One word – DELICIOUS.




What about Rosé wines? 

I am in the midst of compiling a ‘Rosé Report’ of every Rosé wine that I have tried so far (hard work indeed!).  Email me to receive it directly or watch for my blog.


I went wine shopping with CTV Ottawa

Leanne Cusak (host of News at Noon), & I, roamed the aisles at the LCBO looking for wines that I consider ‘good buys’ priced under $15 and $20 bottle. 

Watch the TV segments

See our shopping list



Cheers & Enjoy!     


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If I only had $100, I would buy…

Posted by Susan

Thursday, April 30th, 2009

So many wines, so little time.  With the LCBO Vintages stocking their store shelves with new inventory of wines every 2 weeks, it can be mesmerizing to figure out which wines to purchase.  Unlike trying on a pair of new shoes or flipping through a book to read the author’s writing style, the tough part about wine shopping is that you really can’t try the wines before you decide to put them into your shopping cart.


Comes along my savvy idea of ‘If I only had $100, I would buy.” (go ahead & say this with the tune of the Barenaked Ladies song in your head!)


As part of the small community of wine writers & media, I am invited to sample the wines several weeks before they arrive on the store shelves at Vintages.  This means, I have made my list of ‘must buy wines’, weeks before the wines are in stock at your local LCBO. 


To help you navigate through the rows of newly released wines, I will post my ‘If I only had $100, I would buy” blog , before each Vintages release (the 2nd and 4th weekend of every month).  This is simply a list of good value wines that will amount to no more than $100. By no means do you have to buy what I suggest, this is simply my list of what I plan to buy.


Click here to download & print this handy shopping list.  Let me know if this is helpful or to pass along your wine tips.


Cheers & Enjoy,

Follow me:


If I only had $100, I would buy…

For the May 2, 2009 LCBO Vintages release


Can’t get enough of –Pierre Sparr Cremant d’Alsace Rosé, France (sparkling rosé)

$19.95    Check Inventory at LCBO Vintages

Outstanding! Refreshing, dry, crisp, well made & easy drinking with a nice light mousse (winespeak: fine bubbles). Made with Pinot Noir grapes, this salmon coloured bubbly is perfect for any occasion, welcome friends with a glass when you have a dinner party, or have on hand to unwind.  No need to wait for a celebration to pop a sparkling wine – life is too short!


My new House White Wine – Domaine Gérard Neumeyer Le Berger Pinot Gris, France

$18.95    Check Inventory at LCBO Vintages

Did you know that Pinot Gris is the same grape as the popular Italian Pinot Grigio?  In France, the Alsace region is famous for making dry, crisp, refreshing Pinot Gris wines….and this is a mighty fine example! Refreshing with pear, light floral aromas & a taste that reminds me of the yummy juice in a can of mandarin oranges.  The zippy acidity creates the clean taste with a long finish.   Serve chilled on its own, or with white fish or a meal of ham with sweet potato. Delicious!


My new House Red Wine – Santa Julia Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon, Argentina

$13.95    Check Inventory at LCBO Vintages

Created by Familia Zuccardi Winery – the same winery that produces the ever popular FuZion Shiraz-Malbec red (that is only $7.45), this wine is another example that price tags are not indicators of quality.  Full bodied, with intense aromas & flavours of figs, delicious red fruit, cedar, vanilla with a hint of smoke (these last 3 characteristics come through because the wine has been aged in oak barrels).  Perfect for the nights when you fire up the BBQ to grill hamburgers, steak, sausages & pork chops. 


Go local – drink Ontario –  Niagara College Teaching Winery Unoaked Chardonnay 2006 VQA, Ontario

$14.95    Check Inventory at LCBO Vintages

Ontario continues impress & this is another fine example.  This is the college that many of Canada’s new winemakers are learning from the experts & getting their hands on training.  Believe it or not this wine is a class project!  Not to be overlooked as the college is turning many heads with the coveted awards it is winning for their wines.  This Chardonnay is light bodied with aromas that remind me of the first bite into a green apple with lively acidity & minerals (think a sandy beach).  Every sip is refreshing, with a lime & lemon finish.  At this price, it is easy to stock up your fridge. Chill to drink on its own or with rainbow trout, cold shrimp, sushi, or as you nibble on cheddar or parmesan cheese.  


INSIDE SCOOP: Niagara College Teaching Winery will be featured in our Savvy Selections wine of the month club. Every month, three different bottles of premium Canadian wine from a featured winemaker are delivered straight to your door. These are wines you won’t find at the LCBO or SAQ — handpicked by us for your enjoyment. Subscribe online at


For your weekend BBQ – Porta Boldo Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon, Chile

$21.95    Check Inventory at LCBO Vintages

Made with organically grown grapes, this big bold full bodied red wine is loaded with luscious flavours of blackberry, fig jam that warms you with every sip.  Delicious with a hint of mint & smoke as it lingers in your mouth.  This one is begging to be enjoyed with anything from the BBQ.  Fire it up!