Posts Tagged ‘wines for the holidays’

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

Posted by Amanda

Friday, November 13th, 2015

LCBO Magazine Nov 14The LCBO Vintages release on November 14 focusses on “Star Quality” and “Ports”. Neither feature needs explanation except to say the star quality wines featured in this release are too pricey for my budget.

But I thought it’s time we started stocking up for the Christmas season and putting a few gems aside that don’t get finished in one sitting. A nice variety of Ports never goes amiss and there’s some star quality here to finish not one but several dinner parties with panache.



If I had $100, I would buy these wines at LCBO Vintages…
Saturday November 14, 2015


Forté 2007Forté 2007

VQA Niagara Peninsula
$16.95 (Vintages # 361758) 18% alcohol

This was a delightful surprise to add to my basket for many “after dinners”. A pretty pale ruby, almost mahogany in colour, this light to medium bodied vintage port is nothing to scoff at. The grapes are a blend of Cabernet and Merlot with a pinch of Syrah thrown in.

Sweet but not cloying, dried cherry flavours, spiced nuts with a hint to toasted hazelnuts; it’s one nice sip. I always think of Portugal as “port” land where it is supposedly named after the city of Oporto harbour and for this price point it’s going to be a great new addition to my spirits cupboard.


Loosen Bros. Dr. L Riesling 2014Loosen Bros. Dr. L Riesling 2014

Qualitätswein, Germany
$13.95 (Vintages #599274) 8.5% alcohol

The Mosel’s steep, south facing slopes are the perfect climate for Riesling. Although generally cool conditions the vines are given full exposure to the sun. The grapes ripen slowly which offers bright acidity to the slightly off-dry white wine. The Dr. Loosen estate has been family owned and operated for over 200 years so they’ve had lots of time to get it right. Medium bodied and fruity, this white wine would be a great match for a spicy curry or an afternoon sipper.

Taylor Fladgate Fine White PortTaylor Fladgate Fine White Port

DOP, Portugal
$15.95 (Vintages #69856) 20% alcohol

This deep peach coloured wine must be the new “white”. It reminded me of a dry sherry but had flavours of rich baked apples. There is texture and the expression of toasted almonds and molasses in the long warm finish of this port, almost akin to a bittersweet honey. It makes for a great aperitif or a lovely drink on its own or over ice.


Lustau East India Solera SherryLustau East India Solera Sherry

DO, Spain
$24.95 (Vintages #342931) 20% alcohol

If you could purée creme brûlée and put it in a glass, it wouldn’t be a far notion from this creamy sherry. Dark golden in colour, it is delicious. Silky smooth with some Christmas spice and an underlying seam of acidity on the finish. It reminded me of butter pecan pie – rich and satisfying, especially for those who are prone to sweeter wines. I would serve this as a desert wine with any of the above possibilities or on ice for an afternoon delight.


Segura Viudas Brut Reserva Heredad CavaSegura Viudas Brut Reserva Heredad Cava

DO, Spain
$29.95 (Vintages # 558825)

This lovely Cava integrates a selection of Macabeo and Parallada grapes into an exciting sparkling white. Rich in flavour but not on sweetness, lots of fresh apples and apricot aromas and flavours from nose to palate to finish. In the LCBO Vintages publication for 14 November, another Savvy sommelier, Susan Desjardins, gave this 4.5 stars (out of 5) and wrote “Displays depth and lovely balance, intense aromas of pear, citrus and toasted butter pastry entice.. dry, bright and fresh….”   I couldn’t have said it better so thought I would quote Susan.

The bottle also offers great bling for the table with an attractive silver embossing on the bottle and a wine coaster cradling the bottom. It would make a fabulous gift since you get to enjoy the wine and have a decorative coaster for afterwards. Talk about 2 gifts in one, how much fun is that?

GRAND TOTAL – $101.75



If I had $100…I would buy these wines at Vintages

Posted by Julie

Friday, December 5th, 2014

It’s the most wonderful time of the year, as the song goes, with friends, festivities, and family get togethers.  Vintages in the LCBO never disappoints.  In this weekend’s release (December 6) I wanted to buy one of everything….but remembering that I only have $100 and several dinner parties ahead of me I’m looking for value – for you and me.

LCBO Vintages magazine Dec 6First, there’s all kinds of divine “fizz” out there to tickle your tastebuds and reasonably priced sparklers such as the two new Cava’s in this release.  They are dry, snappy and the genesis to any dinner or party. To me, December is all about sparkling wine.  Served in a beautiful flute with 2 or 3 pomegranate seeds for panache, it’s as elegant as any champagne and no one knows or even cares if you spent $15 or $50. Bottom line, sparkling wine is festive and fun and everyone enjoys it. You can never have too much fizz!

When you are shopping for others, don’t forget about yourself. There’s one beautiful wine that I would recommend to everyone including the Queen: “Ladies Who Shoot Their Lunch Shiraz 2012”  (LCBO #243592 $35.95) is the pinnacle of Shiraz’s. I have tasted hundreds of wines in 2014 and this one always rises to any occasion.

I love to showcase Canadian wines and this release offered so many great ones. Have fun shopping and don’t forget, if you find something delicious, go back and get a few bottles. Once it’s gone, it’s gone.  Sometimes even I forget my own advice!

It’s Christmas time, share your cheer and goodwill.

My best to you for the season,

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

December 6, 2014


Summarroca Gran Reserva Brut Cava

Sumarroca Gran Reserva Brut Nature Cava 2009

DO, Spain
$18.95 (Vintages # 393504) 11.5% alcohol

Ever wonder what that “DO” means?  DO  stands for “Denominacion de Origen” similar to our VQA in Ontario.  It’s part of a regulatory classification system for the country’s highest quality products. It can be applied to everything from olive oil to honey to fruit.  This Cava is delicate, pale in colour, light bodied and totally refreshing. Reminiscent of toasted almonds and apricots with a little herbaceous-ness on the finish not often detected in a sparkling white.  I would recommend light or-d’oeuvres so not to crowd the tastes; perhaps some delicious little crackers, you don’t have to break the bank to be elegant. That old expression, “less is more”.


Featherstone ChardonnayFeatherstone Canadian Oak Chardonnay 2012

VQA Niagara Peninsula
$21.95 (Vintages # 149302) 13.5% alcohol

I hadn’t planned to feature a Chardonnay however I could not waste the opportunity to taste something new. This Chard. really wowed me. I can’t wait for the release. Aromas of creme caramel and layers upon layers of tropical fruits, soft, not overwhelming in oak so don’t let the “oak” in the name scare you off.  As you whirl it around the tongue this white wine is so soft in the mouthfeel, medium to full bodied and there are some wines, I can only describe as yummy.   A great sipper on its own but I think it would marry well with chicken in parmesan crust with a little white sauce, green beans, now its getting “yummier”.


De Sousa Seasons MeritageDe Sousa Seasons Reserve Meritage 2012

VQA Niagara Peninsula
$15.95  (Vintages #315911) 13% alcohol

Unbelievable to find a Meritage at that price point that tasted so delicious. Once again I am wowed by a Canadian winery. Red Meritage must be a blend of two or more of the five traditional Bordeaux grapes such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet France, Petit Verdot or Malbec. Historically, Meritage wines are considered to be highly rated and the winery must be a member of the Meritage Alliance and adhere to the above regulation. Rich red fruits on the palate, medium bodied, light tannins with a little leather and dust on the finish. Layered with lots of berry flavours, a great sipper on its own but pot roast comes to mind, with lots of root veggies and don’t forget the “jus”.


Vineland Pinot MeunierVineland Pinot Meunier 2012

VQA Beamsville Bench, Niagara Peninsula
$17.95 (Vintages# 225508) 12% alcohol

Juicy, juicy, juicy….the aromas were almost like sticking your head in a bouquet of ripe cherries. Pinot Meunier is often used in blends such as Champagne, however it is an incredible grape just on its own and grown in our own backyard. Medium bodied with soft tannins with a fruity red berry finish, it is a red wine that would be agreeable to everyone. It is also versatile enough to marry with chicken to a beef stew and it’s just great on its own with a varietal cheese plate.


Alma Negra BlendAlma Negra Blend 2011

Mendoza , Argentina
$19.95 (Vintages #384297)  13.5% alcohol

This new to Vintages product is a blend of the Bonarda and Malbec grapes. Aromas of dark ripe plums and cherries carry through to the palate and make for a huge mouthfeel of lusciousness. Good acidity with soft tannins, beautifully balanced and a great new find. It’s dark and rich, served with any grilled meat from ribs to steak (not to mention its packaged in one sexy black bottle) I promise the folks around the table will comment.  It’s a gem of a red wine.


Grand Total: $ 94.75



‘Tis the Season for Snazzy Sparkling wines

Posted by Julie

Wednesday, December 5th, 2012

Holiday season is upon us, so it’s no wonder that one theme for this next release on December 8 at the LCBO Vintages features is “Fabulous Fizz”, also known as sparkling wine.

There is nothing more celebratory or inviting than being given a glass of sparkling wine when you go into someone’s home and this release offers all kinds of festive fizz. Of course if you are in for the big splurge there are some new Champagne releases starting at $44.95 going to $299.95 for a rare Dom Perignon Rosé Champagne. My features however show that you don’t need to break the bank to enjoy great bubbly.

Sparkling wine is generally lower in alcohol than many table wines with more delicate flavours to entice the palate. This makes it a great aperitif to serve with hors d’oeuvres, especially salty ones. The bubbles act as palate cleansers which send you reaching for one more nibble. For this reason sparkling wine is also known to be incredibly food friendly from appetizers through to desert. During the Christmas season, I add pomegranate seeds to the sparkling wine which, in a tall flute, makes for a very festive presentation.

So don’t neglect to have a few sparklers on hand. What is not enjoyed before Christmas, can provide some “pop” at New Year’s. There are some new, some old and I am sure you will find one to suit your budget.

Since this will be my last “If I had a $100” blog until next year, I wish you a fabulously, fizzy season.

Cheers, Santé, Salute, Aplausos to my readers!


Oyster Bay Brut Sparkling Cuvée

New Zealand
$21.95 (Vintages #163634) 12% alcohol

Some of you may be familiar with the Oyster Bay Chardonnay on the LCBO general list so it was a real treat to see that the winemakers made a sparkler just in time for the Christmas season. Produced with the same finesse that is given to their Chard., this does not disappoint and tastes similar to Champagne, done in the Charmat style. (This is when the wine undergoes a secondary fermention in bulk tanks and is bottled under pressure.) A lovely nose of lemon-lime, fine moussy bubbles with a creamy texture in the mouth feel. It is a lovely sipper on its own with hors d’oeuvres and could easily go to the table to serve with salad and seafood.

Jackson Triggs Entourage Grand Reserve Brut 2008

VQA Niagara Peninsula
$22.95 (Vintages #234161) 12% alcohol

The wine was fermented first in stainless steel tanks and like the above Traditional Méthode or Méthode Classique, it was then aged in the bottle for 3 years before being disgorged (removing the sediment). A blend of Pinot Noir (70%) and Chardonnay 30%) how could it not be anything but elegant and refined? It has a generous mousse (wine speak for lots of tiny bubbles) aromas of white blossoms and almonds, with creamy tastes of apples, citrus and apricots. It’s one classy wine!

Domaine Du Clos De L’Epinay Tete De Cuvée Brut Vouvray 2007

AC, Loire Valley, France
$19.95 (Vintages #298398) 12% alcohol

The Chenin Blanc grape varietal initially hails from the Loire valley of France. It is known for its’ great acidity which means it can be blended, or produced on it’s own in everything from sparkling to still wine to luscious desert wine. This sparkler has lots of “nose” giant flavours of yellow apples, almost a little sweet spice reminiscent of baked coconut pie but dry and a pinch vegetal. All these fabulous flavours dance on the palate with a delicious hazel-nutty finish. Another great partner for seafood appetizers or a fish course.

Masottina Brut Prosecco

DOC, Treviso, Veneto, Italy
$16.95 (Vintages #297838) 11.5% alcohol

I can’t count the number of times I have served Prosecco (and Cava, below) to start a dinner party and this is the new kid on the block. Very pale in colour with a slightly greenish hue, delightfully aromatic; white blossoms and fresh scents of apple and pear, with a slightly edgy taste of citrus on the palate. It sure gets those taste buds moving before sitting down to the main course and is a great all year round sparkler. This would be a fabulous prior to a creamy hot or cold soup, depending on the season. It also goes without saying it’s a splendid beginning to some Italian food.

Naveran Dama Extra Brut Cava 2010

DOC, Spain $17.95 (Vintages #223602) 12% alcohol

Fresh and lively with aromas of tropical fruit and a little spice. A blend of Chardonnay and Parellada grapes gives it a fairly weighty mouth feel for a sparkling wine with lots of bubbles to create lingering fruit flavours on the finish. A great start to a paella dinner or with tapas or just on its own. Lots of flavours and interest, a great value wine.

Grand Total: $ 99.75

(maybe in the New Year I will hit $100.00 spot on)




If I only had $100, I would buy…

Posted by Susan

Thursday, November 11th, 2010

“If I only had $100, I would buy…’
LCBO Vintages Release as of Saturday, November 13, 2010

The principal feature of November 13 LCBO Vintages release is a wide range of fine wines for the holiday season, whether to serve with you favorite seasonal fare, or to wrap up & give as a special gift. There’s also a mini feature on select wines of Tuscany as well as some interesting Bordeaux-style blends from Niagara. From this array, there are many wines that could be cellared. 


Given the size of the release, the principal selection includes a sparkling and a dessert wine, as well as some versatile appetizing reds—there are some other fabulous Sangioveses (Ricasoli and Castelgiocondo, for instance), but we only have $100 to spend!


If you are in the mood to splurge, the ‘Optional Wines’ include a Burgundy – a perfect match with turkey and a couple of fine reds which you may want to put on your Santa wish list, or enjoy with friends during the holidays. As always, it’s a challenge to choose the wines for this selection, but I hope you’ll enjoy those highlighted below.




Cave de Lugny Crémant de Bourgogne 2007 (sparkling)
AOC Burgundy, France
$17.95 (Vintages #184764) 12.0% alcohol
Bright and golden, there’s a great rush of frothy fizz in the glass, with some enticing aromas of toast and tangy citrus. Dry and equally frothy on the palate, this is a crisp sparkler with mouthwatering flavours of lemon-lime, green tea and toast. Tasty and refreshing, it’s a great wine to offer your guests to whet their appetite for the holiday turkey. A well priced bubbly with a moderate level of alcohol!


Henry of Pelham ‘Reserve’ Cabernet/Merlot 2007
VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario
$24.95 (Vintages #395855) 13.5% alcohol
If you can’t get enough of the 2007 vintage, here’s a wine that can be enjoyed now or cellared for 3-5 years. This appealing blend has complex and captivating aromas—roasted herbs, tobacco leaf and hints of vanilla mingle with red and black berry fruit. Dry, medium-full bodied, with a firm structure, grippy tannins and tangy acidity, the berry flavours replay on the palate and carry through on the finish, garnished with notes of cocoa and toast. Consider alternate holiday fare – match to beef tenderloin with a tarragon mushroom sauce.

Louis Jadot Beaune 1er Cru 1999
AOC Beaune, France
$26.95 (Vintages #641308) 13.5% alcohol
This is an absolute steal! Run, don’t walk to your local LCBO Vintages this Saturday. Brick notes herald the age of this delicately fragrant dame. Notes of earth, red  berries and a hint of truffle replay on the graceful palate. Soft tannins and fine acidity match perfectly the attractive berry fruit and autumnal notes that carry through on the lingering finish. Wow your friends with a glass before the meal, and then enjoy it with the holiday turkey, or duck with a cherry glaze.

Doga delle Clavule Morellino di Scansano 2008
DOCG Morellino di Scansano, Italy
$16.95 (Vintages #184986) 13.0% alcohol
Produced from a clone of Sangiovese, this deep ruby wine has rich ripe aromas of spicy red and black berries with a hint of red licorice. Dry, medium bodied, with a velvety texture and ripe tannins, it has a fresh stream of acidity and lovely nuances of toast and herbs. Berry rich on the finish, notes of dark toast linger. Soft and fruity enough to enjoy on its own, or serve it with herbed roast pork loin.  

Quady ‘Essencia’ Orange Muscat 2007
$13.95 (Vintages #299552) 15.0% alcohol
Who could resist ending a holiday meal with this lovely dessert wine? Peachy gold, and a treat for the senses, it has consistent appealing aromas and flavours of honeyed apricots, candied orange rind and sweet clementines. The luscious flavours and texture are balanced with lively acidity, leading to a warm, sweet yet fresh finish. Delightful, and a great value. Serve it with orange and lemon tart.

Grand Total: $100.75 (you’ll forgive me for being ‘just’ over won’t you?)


Optional wines definitely worth the splurge:

Château Montelena Cabernet Sauvignon 2006
Napa Valley, California
$51.95 (Vintages #718452) 14.1% alcohol
The reputation of this iconic winery, and of California wines, was set when its 1973 Chardonnay was selected as the top-rated wine at the now famous 1976 ‘Judgement of Paris.’ This is a serious wine for classic Cabernet lovers.  Aromas of cigar box, spicy vanilla, cassis and a hint of licorice waft from the glass. Dry, structured and bursting with spicy dark berry flavour, the wine has fine acidity and ripe tannins which will support further cellaring. Lovely, balanced, with a lingering trace of dark chocolate on the persistent finish, serve it with prime rib.

Bodegas Callia ‘Winemaker’s Reserve’ Grand Callia 2006
San Juan, Argentina

$34.95 (Vintages #175661) 14.0% alcohol
Crafted from a blend of Shiraz, Malbec, Merlot and Tannat, this is a compelling wine of depth and intensity. Pure aromas of tangy black fruit are garnished with notes of vanilla and licorice. Dry, full bodied and structured, fine acidity and firm tannins underpin dark berry flavours. Hints of toast and cocoa persist on the dry and flavourful finish. Savour now with robust meat dishes or over the next 7-10 years.  

Château de Mirande Mâcon-Villages 2009
AOC Mâcon-Villages, France
$17.95 (Vintages #183749) 13.0% alcohol
This is just a lovely Burgundy that would be a fine match with turkey dinner. It pours in a generous dense stream, glowing golden in the glass. Fragrant aromas of yellow plum, pear, vanilla and light toast waft from the glass. On the palate, it’s dry yet luscious and round with flavours of stone fruit, toast and vanilla riding on a fresh backbone of citrusy acidity. Flavourful and persistent on the finish. A fine value.


More about my 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!



Holiday Values from Vintages

Posted by Susan

Friday, December 19th, 2008

I’m a great one for that elusive combination of quality and value in a wine.  This holiday season, in addition to its regular selection of holiday spirits, LCBO Vintages is offering a range of products from previous releases that provide excellent value for money.  If you want a special wine for Christmas dinner or New Year’s Eve, or something to share with family or friends of a cold winter’s evening, visit you local Vintages boutique and speak to the product consultant about their special holiday sales and promotions.

As an example, if you’d like some refreshing fizz to get you in the holiday spirit, there are a range of products available.  I recently served the Nino Franco Prosecco di Valdobbiadene Brut (#349662, $17.45, marked down from $20.95) at a birthday party.  This wine is produced on a family estate in the Veneto by an innovative winemaker who is the grandson of the original owner.  This is a bright, balanced bubbly with aromas of pear, apple and citrus that persist on the palate.   Light-bodied with a fine effervescence, it has a well-defined seam of acidity that will have you coming back for more.

If you’d like something a little more regal, consider the Segura Viudas Brut Reserva Heredad Cava (#50864, $31.95, marked down from $37.95).  Segura Viudas is the crown jewel and an independent operation of the producer Freixenet.  A very special wine, the Heredad is the only Segura Viudas cava where the bottle is hand turned as it is aging.  I visited the 6 stories of underground cellars at Segura Viudas last year – the Heredad has its own special resting place.  Reserva Heredad is composed of 2/3 Macabeo and 1/3 Parellada, which are two of the three grapes used to produce cava in Spain (the third is Xarel-lo).  It experiences a very long aging process and has lovely toasty aromas and a very persistent finish.  The wine is captured in a unique bottle with intricately worked designs on the base and a heraldic brand on the bottle itself.  This would make a magnificent gift for a special person.

If you’re thinking of sitting by the fire some cold evening, snacking on cheese and crackers, consider a bottle of Amarone from these special Vintages offers.   For instance, the Giuseppe Campagnola Amarone della Valpolicella (#76653, $36.95, marked down from $46.95), or the Valpantena Torre Del Falasco Amarone (#922161, $42.95, marked down from $54.95).   Amarone is produced using three indigenous Italian grapes:  Corvina, Rondinella and Molinara.  Select bunches of the grapes are handpicked in the fall, then dried in a controlled environment until February to create concentration of the sugars.  After pressing and fermentation, the wine is aged 18-24 months in oak.  This process produces a rich, full-bodied wine with hints of dried fruit and chocolate.  At 15% alcohol, it is bound to create the warmth we all need at this time of year.  

Enjoy a happy holiday season!  All of us at Savvy Company want to see you next year, so remember to drink responsibly.