April - November 2020 Vintages Releases + A Few More

30 Oct 2020

Since there are no Vintages tastings at the LCBO head office these days, I must rely on what comes to the door for my tasting notes … These are the bottles I recommend that were released, from April through November, that are still available (as of publication) at LCBO stores. At the very bottom you will also see a list of wines from the general list … those are wines available all the time, and in some cases, online.



Chombart & Speck 2018 Cave Mystere MerlotCave Mystere
$18.95 – France – LCBO 17232 … (coming in November)
From the house of Chombart (Chateau Lamothe du Haut) and Speck comes Cave Mystere from the Cadillac sub-region of Bordeaux. If Speck sounds familiar then you are paying attention to Ontario wine circles, they are the ones behind Henry of Pelham and this new project of theirs is a real coup. Supple dark fruit: cassis, blackberry balanced with cedar, oak and anise … the fruit is juicy and plump while the acidity keeps it from jumping into the California lane for Merlot. Opens quickly and within 20 minutes you get a pretty lush wine. Consume now – 2027.  (****)

Laura Hartwig 2017 Edicion de Familia
$27.95 – Chile – LCBO 14147 … (coming in November)
This 4-grape blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (44%), Malbec (38%), Petit Verdot (12%) and Cabernet Franc (6%) from Chile starts off very minty on the nose than follows on the palate; loads in coffee, cassis, blueberry and gentle peppery notes. It’s mainly fruit forward with a minty-peppery backing.  (*** ½+)


Chateau Pey La Tour 2016 Reserve du Chateau
$21.95 – France – LCBO 349308 … (October 31, 2020)
Nice value priced Bordeaux red with some aging potential, but also drink-now-ability … dark berry fruit with cedar, leather and earthy notes before the blackberry takes over and the cinnamon / nutmeg appears on the finish.  (*** ½+)

Joliesse 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon
$17.00 – California – LCBO 16564 … (October 31, 2020)
This easy drinking Cabernet has a little smoky note on the finish – but before that there’s sweet blackberry, cherry, vanilla, black licorice on the juicy mid-palate.  (*** ½)

La Causa 2015 Cinsault Gran Reserva
$18.95 – Chile – LCBO 16802 … (October 31, 2020)
A big hit of strawberry and cherry with sweet red fruit notes on a pseudo-candied nose. There’s a cherry Kool-Aid, red licorice and black cherry flavour that is quite enjoyable, plus a little pepper picks at the tongue before the smooth silky finish levels everything out. This wine will make friends and new Cinsault fans.  (*** ½+)

Sacred Hill 2018 Pinot Noir Marlborough
$19.95 – New Zealand – LCBO 277665 … (October 31, 2020)
This Marlborough Pinot Noir hits the right notes with its beet root, cranberry and sour cherry – the acidity helps balance the wine and there’s also a subtle earthy/spicy note.  (*** ½+)

Wakefield 2018 Merlot, Clare Valley
$19.95 – Australia – LCBO 683201 … (October 31, 2020)
Juicy, almost jammy, blue fruit with hints of smoke – you’ll find raspberry and even  hits of blackberry as it opens … it’s a big Merlot with a big hit of fruit.  (*** ½+)

Chateau Ste Michelle 2017 Cabernet SauvignonCh Ste Michelle
$21.95 – Washington – LCBO 269357 … (October 17, 2020)
For a “mass market” wine this really shows some punch and value for money. Lots of fruit-juiciness here with red and black cherry notes fighting with the red cocoa and floral … palate layers all that in plus a mocha element to the finish, silky tannins and, an easy drink-abilty – this is a wine that wants to make friends, and it succeeds.  (****)

Clos de los Siete 2016 Red
$24.95 – Argentina – LCBO 622571 … (October 17, 2020)
Dark fruit, mocha and black cherry with a little charred-smoky note and big tannin punch – this is one of the better Clos de los Siete to come out in quite a while (the past few have been quite simple) – this one actually has layers of both fruit and spice that gives it the kind of character that will be enhanced with time in cellar.  (****)

Imagery 2017 Cabernet Sauvignon
$23.95 – California – LCBO 14369 … (October 17, 2020)
This soft and easy drinking Cali-Cab is chocked full of blackberry, chocolate, cherry and vanilla … pleasant and tasty, if just a little on the sweet-fruited side … this is an alternative or better yet a step up for you Apothic Red drinkers.  (*** ½)

Best’s Great Western 2019 Riesling
$19.95 – Australia – LCBO 688259 … (October 3, 2020)
Subtle peach and petrol notes with some delicious apple and lemon zest on the finish, ends up being quite dry.  (*** ½+)

Chateau Teyssier 2016 Montagne Saint EmilionCh Teyssier
$24.95 – France – LCBO 226035 … (October 3, 2020)
One of those Bordeaux wines at a good price that sneaks up on you at how well it will age and tastes great now. Smoky nuances hang around with black cherry, cassis and blackberry fruit adds in subtle notes of cedar, spice and an earthy character … there’s even some coffee bean on the finish. Drink now or lie down for a decade.  (****)

Cloudline 2018 Pinot Noir
$26.95 – Oregon – LCBO 159970 … (October 3, 2020)
Certainly very Oregon, as there is no way to mistake this for a Pinot Noir anywhere else: earthy, strawberry, cranberry with subtle notes of oak/cedar and sandy-esque tannins. There’s also a nice age-ability factor here that has this one sitting in the cellar 3-7 years.  (****)

Drumheller 2017 Cabernet SauvignonDrumheller
$18.95 – Washington – LCBO 551473 … (October 3, 2020)
A really tasty, well-priced Washington Cab that will have you sipping Lionel Richie style (all Night Long). Plenty of mocha, blackberry, cherry-vanilla plus some burnt/smoky coffee notes on the finish. It’s a mix of dark fruit and mocha and a real pleasure to drink.  (****)

Joseph Drouhin 2018 Les Clos Macon-Bussieres
$24.95 – France – LCBO 470401 … (October 3, 2020)
A lovely nose that has so much potential: hints of smoke, peach cobbler and mineral – but the palate seems muted with only a touch of apple and minerality. It’s good it just feels like it should be better.  (***+)

La Fleur de Francois NV Cremant de Bordeaux
$16.95 – France – LCBO 648170 … (October 3, 2020)
This Cremant needs a little time in glass to breathe and then opens up showing notes of lime and green apple with a creamy mid-palate and nice mousse plus the finish goes grapefruit pith with notes of floral and a nice acid punch.  (*** ½+)


Chateau Bellevue La Foret 2018 FrontonCh Bellevue Foret
$14.95 – France – LCBO 354134 … (September 19, 2020)
This Negrette based wine from the region of Fronton has a small bit of Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah added to the blend: dark fruit, pepper with smoky, cocoa and blueberry notes – the tannins are firm yet soften-able with time … ready now but it’ll age nicely over the next 5-7 years.  (****)

Chateau Mont-Redon 2016 Chateauneuf-du-Pape
$54.95 – France – LCBO 959627 … (September 19, 2020)
Chateauneuf is known for many things ageability, power, richness but this Mont-Radon has a surprise in store for you on the finish. It starts off with those nice red and black fruit notes, adding in pepper, mocha, dark chocolate, coffee bean and red cherry along the way, with each sip another “something” comes along, there’s even some strawberry-rhubarb notes and yes there are good tannins and a richness of fruit … but there’s also a lovely minerality that adds delicacy to the finish and that’s the surprise.  (****+)

Peter Lehmann 2017 Layers
$16.95 – Australia – LCBO 138883 … (September 19, 2020)
Layers either refers to the grapes: Shiraz, Mourvedre, Tempranillo and Grenache or the layers of different flavours within the wine. Starting with earthy, smoky, coffee then cassis, black cherry and vanilla are layered in! The mid-palate is most definitely mocha-based. Well priced for what it is ... tasty  (*** ½)

Seven Falls Cellars 2016 Merlot
$21.95 – Washington – LCBO 420711 … (September 19, 2020)
This wine has lots of fruit: blackberry and blueberry mostly, that delivers a juicy fruit core while mocha and vanilla kick in for added notes of complexity. In about a year this will be an even bigger fruit explosion as it still shows a little baby fat on its bones.  (****)

Villa Maria 2018 Sauvignon Blanc Reserve
$24.95 – New Zealand – LCBO 536201 … (September 19, 2020)
Grapefruit and vanilla with a creamy mouthfeel and some pretty floral notes that start on the nose and the hopscotch around on the long finish.  (*** ½+)

Domaine La Decelle 2018 Cotes du Rhone Villages Blanc, Valreas
$15.95 – France – LCBO 14037 … (September 5, 2020)
This 50/50 Viognier/Marsanne from 50-year-old vines in the Rhone Valley is a great match with the red of the same name – put both on the table and let your guests decided because they can’t go wrong with either … This white is pleasant and fruity with nectarine, pear and apple along with delicate minerality. The white fruit is fresh and light and there’s even a hint of floral all balanced out by delightful acidity. Perfect for fall or even winter evenings.  (****)

Ferraton Pere & Fils 2018 Samorens Cotes du RhoneFerraton
$16.95 – France – LCBO 168708 … (September 5, 2020)
Red berry fruit with hints of mocha, black cherry, white pepper and a mineral / stoniness … it has a nice juicy core and on herbal note to the finish – just to give it a little something extra, other than fruit.  (****)

Lafazanis 2018 Geometria Moschofilero
$17.95 – Greece – LCBO 15753 … (September 5, 2020)
This is a very dry white with lots of floral and apricot notes … in fact, the floral is quite in-your-face, not to the level of Gewurztraminer or Torrentes but it’s definitely in the same vein.  (***+)

Rocca delle Macie 2017 Chianti Classico Riserva Famiglia Zingarelli
$24.95 – Italy – LCBO 930966 … (September 5, 2020)
It’s a pretty spot-on Chianti Classico with anise, balsamic, mocha, smoke and tobacco and that does not take into account the fruit profile of black cherry, plus red and black currants – good acidity with a nice tannin backbone will have you drinking this well into 2027.  (****)

Sartori 2015 Valpolicella Ripasso SuperioreSartori
$29.95 – Italy – LCBO 15084 … (September 5, 2020)
This Ripasso is fruit forward and delicious, full stop … for those looking for dark cherries, blackberry, mocha, cedar and good spice character this wine delivers … and did I mention the fruit continues its domination throughout – yeah I think I just did.  (****)

Torres 2017 Celeste Crianza
$21.95 – Spain – LCBO 210872 … (September 5, 2020)
The tannins fight for dominance with juicy red berries like raspberry and cherry … there’s a brightness here that at times comes across lean. The finish shows notes of cinnamon and spice with some aeration the mid-palate kicks it up a notch with sweet cherry and smoked-vanilla.  (*** ½+)



Bodegas Enrique Mendoza 2017 La Tremenda MonastrellTremenda
$17.00 – Spain – LCBO 490011 … (August 22, 2020)
This red starts off quietly, but then with a little time open packs quite a wallop. Mature raspberry and strawberry notes with some licorice All-Sorts, with a dash of pepper and mocha for good measure. Once it opens up it’s layered and shows nice complexity, a clean finish with a real spicy kick … a wine to drink now or lie down 4+ years.  (****)

Columbia Crest 2017 Merlot H3
$19.95 – Washington – LCBO 209874 … (August 22, 2020)
From the Horse Heaven Hills sub-appellation in Washington State – this smooth, silky Merlot doles out what you’ve come to expect from California_versions of this grape: black cherry, blackberry, plum, blueberry and vanilla – simple yet tasty.  (*** ½)

M. Chapoutier 2017 Domaine de Bile-Haut Occultum Lapidem
$26.95 – France – LCBO 643239 … (August 22, 2020)
Fruit is red cherry, strawberry with hints of rhubarb, while the smoky-earthy-minerality adds an extra layer of excitement.  (*** ½)

Rinaldi 2018 Moscato d’Asti
$19.95 – Italy – LCBO 13988 … (August 22, 2020)
Moscati d’Asti is a very summery beverage, or a reminder of summer, depending when you drink it. Fuzzy peach, apple blossom and rose petal notes … really pretty and fun to drink with its hint of fizz. One of life’s truly great guilty pleasures.  (*** ½)

Wakefield 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon JaramanWakefield
$24.95 – Australia – LCBO 142398 … (August 22, 2020)
Aromas of eucalyptus/menthol grip the nostril hairs and pulls you in … cherry and blackberry provide a juicy core with cocoa and spice adding depth … there’s notes of strawberry, cherry and pepper on the mostly red fruited finish that lingers.  (****)

Ivory & Burt 2017 Old Vines Zinfandel
$19.95 – California – LCBO 479303 … (August 8, 2020)
From the tasty-but-sweet Zinfandel department comes this Old Vines version … vanilla, plum, Christmas cake: nutmeg and clove with a sweet juicy dark fruit finish. It’ll make friends where ever it is consumed.  (*** ½+)

Lealtanza 2015 Reserva, Rioja
$23.95 – Spain – LCBO 208223 … (August 8, 2020)
Cedar dominates this red wine while red fruit and smoke interweave themselves on the palate throwing in cocoa and coffee bean notes. This is some pretty ‘old school’ Rioja.  (*** ½)

M. Chapoutier 2018 Les Vignes de Bila-Haut, Rousillon Blanc
$15.95 – France – LCBO 485656 … (August 8, 2020)
A fleshy wine that brings melon and lemon together with a mineral note to the finish.  (*** ½)

JULY 2020

Anthonij Rupert 2013 L'Ormarins Blanc de Blancs
$24.95 – South Africa – LCBO 15681 … (July 25, 2020)
This 100% Chardonnay sparkling wine from South Africa is a delight for the senses, especially for those who dig on sparkling wine with a little age on it. 20% of the wine is barrel-fermented and the blending of the cuvee begins after 12 weeks. It then gets bottled for its secondary fermentation, which takes 4 years, after it is disgorged it is rested a further 8 months under cork. The results are a bubble with a richness in the mouth and notes of biscuity and baked apple plus a subtle creamy vanilla finish - all isbacked with delightful acidity. A sparkling wine lovers delight at a very good price.  (****+)

Chateau de Nages 2016 JT (Red - Organic)
$26.95 – France – LCBO 736876 … (July 25, 2020)
This 93% Syrah with a splash of Mourvedre (7%) is one of those wines you can’t quite put your finger on why, but you do know you like it, a lot … starting with the fruit driven nose to a juicy core; a palate of strawberry, raspberry, red cherry and cran-cherry; but it’s not all fruit, there’s also mocha, red licorice and a little oak-char helping keep that fruit core balanced; there’s also a lovely long finish.  (****)

Gloria 2018 Reserva Douro
$16.95 – Protugal – LCBO 146522 … (July 11, 2020)
Nice red fruit up front with hints of vanilla and spice … there’s a peppery kick on the finish that leads to tannin a punch that bites back. Give 2-3 years or use a big glass.  (*** ½+)

Isabelle et Phillipe Germian 2018 Le P’tit Leon BeauneGermain
$32.95 – France – LCBO 14750 … (July 11, 2020)
Juicy red cherry with white pepper and licorice – there’s even a touch of floral, a delicate Pinot that really satisfies.  (****)

Lange Twins 2016 Estate Grown Cabernet Sauvignon
$24.95 – California – LCBO 572305 … (July 11, 2020)
This Cabernet from Lodi delivers mocha, black cherry and plum – it seems pretty simple stuff all with a sweet chocolate finish, but it is also tasty and will make friends and fans easily – look out for the kick somewhere on the third or fourth sip and that’s what pumps this wine up a notch.  (*** ½+)

Ruffino 2017 Modus
$29.95 – Italy – LCBO 912956 … (July 11, 2020)
One of those Super Tuscan wines that won’t break the bank: 37% Sangiovese mixes with 32% Merlot and 31% Cabernet Sauvignon aged together for 12 months. Tannins are bold, so a few more years in the cellar are needed – but oak, spice, vanilla and blackberry do make an appearance.  (****)

JUNE 2020

Bodega LAN 2012 Reserva RiojaLan 2012
$24.95 – Spain – LCBO 42929 … (June 13, 2020)
Nice up-front dark fruit and spice mixed with smoke: primarily cassis, blackberry and white pepper with cedar backing.  (*** ½+)

J. Bookwalter 2018 Readers Chardonnay
$19.95 – Washington – LCBO 634162 … (June 8, 2020)
This “Chardonnay” has 20% Viognier added to the mix to add a little weight … it drinks well with apple and melon notes plus subtle spice and good acidity … curl up with a good book, a glass and the evening is made.  (*** ½)

MAY 2020

Clos Maragnac 2010 Graves
$27.95 – France – LCBO 11655 … (May 2, 2020)
A Bordeaux that’s ready to drink but still has the stuffing to last 5 more years. Smoky and earthy with cassis and tobacco on the mid-palate, while coffee bean and bittersweet dark chocolate darts in and out amongst a tannic backbone … definitely a wine to be enjoyed now, but still decantable to soften those rough edges.  (*** ½+)

APRIL 2020

Benziger 2017 Chardonnay, Sonoma County
$19.95 – California – LCBO 34777 … (April 18, 2020)
Lots of oak, creamy butterscotch and peach cobbler permeates this bottle of Chardonnay all culminating in a caramel apple finish. Typical California at this price point.  (***+)


Ambroisie 2017 Vouvray
$16.95 – France – LCBO 15616 … (General List)
Pretty Vouvray with floral, lemon candies, pear, mineral with a grapefruit cocktail finish.  (*** ½)

Angus the Bull 2017 Cabernet Sauvignon
$18.95 – Australia – LCBO 602615 … (General List)
This is Australia’s answer to Apothic Red with its chocolate and red cherry core – juicy and easy drinking - very approachable and friendly.  (***+)

Argento 2019 Chardonnay SeleccionArgento
$11.50 – Argentina – LCBO 591701 … (General List)
This is a wine that has a little of this and a little of that but not a lot of anything: apple, pear, peach with a creamy texture and a touch of acidity on the finish.  (*** ½)

Bodega Toro Centenario 2019 Malbec
$9.60 – Argentina – LCBO 12452 … (General List)
An easy drinking Malbec with hits of blackberry, cassis and white pepper and just a bit of spice that doesn’t get in the way of all that juicy fruit.  (*** ½)

Just 2019 Merlot
$11.10 – France – LCBO 17528 … (General List)
From France’s Pay D’oc (Languedoc) comes this easy drinking affair that has a little pepper, some black cherry, subtle spice and is quite enjoyable for those that don’t want to pay too much for their Merlot pleasure.  (*** ½)

Mouton Cadet 2017 Heritage Bordeaux
$25.95 – France – LCBO 14447 … (General List)
Dark and smoky fruit with cedar notes, cinnamon all with a big tannin punch – definitely needs a few years to come around.  (*** ½)

Paco & Lola 2019 AlbarinoPaco & Lola
$19.95 – Spain – LCBO 350041 … (Vintages Essential)
The polka-dot label is distinctive, but the newer version foregoes the flashy colourful dots for a black and white motif, giving it a more serious tone … and good thing, because this is the best version of the Spanish staple (at the LCBO) I have tried to date: fresh melon, peach and citrus notes lead, while there’s also a hint of pineapple … Jazzy with good acid jingle, on the tongue; bright and crisp with yellow grapefruit on the long finish – a real delight for any time of year.  (****)

Tarapaca 2019 Cabernet Sauvignon Reserva
$13.90 – Chile – LCBO 647636 … (General List)
Subtle nose that’s smoky and minty with lots of red fruit and anise on the palate – quite pleasant and easy drinking.  (*** ½)



Casale del Giglio 2018 CesaneseGiglio
$20.15 – Italy – Consignment: Profile Wine Group
Another delicious bottle of this nearly extinct grape, but if they keep making these wines this good everyone will want to jump on the bandwagon. Lots of spicy dark fruit with mocha-cherry and black pepper all rounded off with a nice acid punch giving the wine a lovely backbone. Tannins settle by the third sip and red fruit begins to emerge on the fruit palate, while the dark dominates the finish.  (****+)

Casale del Giglio 2019 Bellone
$17.15 – Italy – Consignment: Profile Wine Group
This Lazio white made from the Bellone grape is a mouth-filling affair with tropical fruit backed by lemon drops with a hint of oak.  (*** ½)

De Saint-Gall Champagne NV Blanc de Blancs Premier Cru
$59.95 – France – Consignment: Kylix Wines
This is textbook Chardonnay sparkling or should I say Champagne (because it really is) – a minimum of 4 years on lees, in bottle and it has developed those beautiful biscuity and bready notes with baked apple slipping in the longer it sits in the glass. As you continue to sip and savour the creamy middle develops into almond biscotti dipped in tart lemon icing. A real treat.  (****+)

Lungarotti 2018 L’U, Umbria RossoLungarotti
$19.99 – Italy – Consignment: Profile Wine Group
I tried this wine for the first time with the 2016 vintage and was thrilled at the depth of this Merlot/Sangiovese blend from Umbria … but then 2016 was a delight of a vintage in Italy, so it was destined to be good. Now the 2018 appears on shelves and it might just be a touch better than the ’16. Rich with smoky, mocha and cassis notes all backed by a good tannin structure – as it opens blueberry and blackberry appear with subtle coffee bean notes on the finish. You have to buy it in six-packs, and it is worth having this wine in quantity.  (****+)



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