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  • Monday, March 16, 2015

Mar. 21 LCBO Wine Picks: Cali Icons + Southwest France

Wine Picks from March 21, 2015 LCBO VINTAGES Release
The next LCBO VINTAGES release will be on shelves this . The major theme of this release highlights many of the biggest names in California's wine scene and is titled "Cali Icons". As such, we find many high-priced wines that are beyond the reach of most people. However, if you have the deep pockets or are really into wine, there are 5 wines worth your attention and all are north of $70.

First up is the Ridge Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon that hails from the Santa Cruz Mountains and contains 14% Merlot, 3% Petit Verdot, and 1% Cabernet Franc - it will drink well for the next 6-7 years. The Grgich Hills Cabernet Sauvignon is organic & biodynamic and almost all Cab with just dashes of Petit Verdot (5%), Cabernet Franc (3%) and Merlot (1% ). The Cade Cabernet Sauvignon is also all Napa Valley fruit, but specifically from Howell Mountain, and includes 7% Merlot to round out the blend. The Dominus is the most expensive wine in the release and it is composed of 86% Cabernet Sauvignon, 9% Petit Verdot and 5% Cabernet Franc and can be enjoyed over the next decade. Lastly, the Cakebread Dancing Bear Ranch is available as part of the Flagship Store Exclusive release and contains 13% Cabernet Franc and 2% Merlot.

The mini-theme of this release features 6 big, food-friendly wines from Southwest, France. From this portion of the release, only a premium Cahors made the list - a red wine that is 100% Malbec from vines that are 60+ years old.

If you're looking for quality red wines under $20, this release is a little light. However, there is a big 100% Xinomavro from Greece that could be aged for at least another 10 years. There is also traditional Bordeaux-blend from Ontario - a 2012 Cab Franc/Cab Sauv/Merlot blend from Pondview. Actual Bordeaux wines that are worth considering are a Cab Sauv/Merlot blend from Les Charmes de Magnol and a Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot/Cabernet Franc/Petit Verdot (60/35/4/1%) from iconic Château Pontet-Canet.

In white wines, the only blend is from Rhône's E. Guigal and it consists of 65% Viognier, 15% Roussane, 10% Marsanne, 8% Clairette, and 2% Bourboulenc. For sweet wine lovers, you'll want to check out either Riesling from Germany or Ontario, or the Pinot Gris from Alsace.

Enjoy my wine picks for this week. Cheers!

Red Wine:
  • CASTELLO DI AMA RISERVA CHIANTI CLASSICO 2009 - DOCG, Tuscany, Italy (#403824) (XD) (375 mL) - $16.95
  • BOUTARI GRANDE RESERVE 2008 - PDO Naoussa, Greece (#140111) (XD) - $17.95
  • PONDVIEW RESERVE CABERNET/MERLOT 2012 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#307561) (XD) - $18.95
  • LES CHARMES DE MAGNOL 2010 - AC Médoc, Bordeaux, France (#403709) (XD) - $18.95
  • CHAKANA ESTATE SELECTION RED BLEND 2012 - Mendoza, Argentina (#322602) (D) - $26.95
  • CHARLES CIMICKY RESERVE SHIRAZ 2012 - Barossa Valley, South Australia (#685594) (XD) - $31.95
  • CHÂTEAU PINERAIE L’AUTHENTIQUE CAHORS 2011 - AC, Southwest, France (#408294) (XD) - $39.95

  • RIDGE ESTATE CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2011 - Monte Bello Vineyard, Santa Cruz Mountains, California, USA (#089284) (XD) - $73.95
  • GRGICH HILLS ESTATE CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2010 - Napa Valley, California, USA (#071407) (XD) - $80.95  reviewed here
  • CADE CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2011 - Howell Mountain, Napa Valley, California, USA (#325027) (XD) - $112.95
  • CAKEBREAD DANCING BEAR RANCH CABERNET SAUVIGNON/CABERNET FRANC 2011 - Howell Mountain, Napa Valley, California, USA (#220459) (XD) - $159.95  Flagship Store Exclusive
  • CHÂTEAU PONTET-CANET 2011 - 5e Cru, AC Pauillac, Bordeaux, France (#297739 / #300335 / #297747 / #298885) (XD) - $174.85
  • DOMINUS 2011 - Napa Valley, California, USA (#212381) (XD) - $176.95

White Wine:
  • RABL LÖSS GRÜNER VELTLINER 2013 - DAC Kamptal, Austria (#295709) (XD) - $14.95
  • CAPE POINT VINEYARDS SAUVIGNON BLANC 2013 - WO Cape Point, South Africa (#285221) (XD) - $15.95
  • DR. HERMANN ERDENER TREPPCHEN RIESLING KABINETT 2010 - Pradikätswein, Mosel, Germany (#402420) (S) - $17.95
  • E. GUIGAL CÔTES DU RHÔNE BLANC 2013 - AC, Rhône, France (#290296) (XD) - $18.95
  • WOLFBERGER SIGNATURE PINOT GRIS 2013 - AC Alsace, France (#398172) (D) - $18.95
  • FLAT ROCK NADJA’S VINEYARD RIESLING 2013 - VQA Twenty Mile Bench, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#578625) (D) - $19.95  reviewed here
  • TRIMBACH RIESLING 2012 - AC Alsace, France (#734517) (XD) - $21.95
  • DOMAINE LE VERGER CHABLIS 2013 - AC, Burgundy, France (#181289) (XD) - $22.95
  • SAINT CLAIR WAIRAU RESERVE SAUVIGNON BLANC 2013 - Marlborough, South Island, New Zealand (#415653) (XD) - $35.95
  • CALERA CHARDONNAY 2013 - Mt. Harlan, Central Coast, California, USA (#968925) (D) - $49.95

The rest of the wines from this release can be found here.


  1. Yes, another disappointing main feature -- this time not because they underwhelm but because the prices are so high. Alas. I understand the LCBO caters to all tastes and all budgets, but still. You think maybe they could include a few more reasonable offerings. In any event, the whole idea of "icons" makes me ill.

    Not much from the rest, I agree. It looks pretty thin overall. The Southwest France mini feature is disappointing -- the one you chose is promising but is pretty expensive. I'm happy you mentioned the Charmes de Magnol, which I thought was the best of the affordable French reds, maybe the only one worth getting. The Boutari is also promising, but I've been off Greek reds lately for being too rubbery, at least the inexpensive ones. The Chakana looks good, if also a bit much.

    Not on your list, but on mine, are Bisquertt La Joya Syrah and the Casa Silva Los Lingues Carmenere, both of which look like great values from Chile. And, I admit, I'm on a bit of a Chile kick at the moment. I had that Emiliana Novas Syrah-Mourvedre over the weekend and it's just an awesome value for a very, very good wine.

    Finally, the Tarima Hill Monastrell from Alicante looks intriguing. Probably quite Parkerized, hence the high score from Parker himself, but perhaps worth a look.

  2. Right on - based on the title alone, you could tell it was going to be a pricey release more suitable for the holiday season. I'm not too fond of the idea of "Icons" either - just another ploy to bump up prices.

    Overall, it was a thin release on the low-end of the price scale. The Dr. Hermann Riesling is probably the one wine I will buy from this release.

    Emiliana has become one of my favourite Chilean producers.

  3. I ended up going for the Tarima Hill (going against the grain for me given that it's a Parker-approved/Parkerized wine) and the Vineland Elevation St. Urban Riesling (which I notice you don't have on your list -- do you rank it behind the Flat Rock?). I usually only go for white on an ad hoc basis, mostly in the warmer months, but this looks like something special.

    I also couldn't resist the Tinto Pesquera, despite the price. Sometimes you have to splurge, no?

  4. Actually, the only reason I didn't have the Vineland Elevation St. Urban Riesling is because I already featured it last August and December.

    The Vineland Riesling is my favourite of the two and the one I have in my cellar. :)

    True - sometimes we can't resist the urge to splurge.

  5. Ah, I must have forgotten that you had it in there before -- though I usually focus more on your red recommendations than your white ones.

    Good to know, though. I've long thought, like many others, that Riesling is one area where Ontario really can compete on a global scale with the very best (and that our insistence on making wines for the commercial market generally lowers our standards as well as our longer-term potential -- e.g. why Ontario Syrah?!). And while good Ontario reds require you to spend $30 or more, the fact that you can get a world-class Ontario white like this one for less than $20 is pretty amazing.

    By the way, you were right about the Vina Tarapaca Carmenere in the March 7 release. What a fabulous wine at a fabulous price. Textbook Carmenere, which I love. It's a 90 for me. Along with the Emiliana Novas, Zuccardi Bonarda, Santa Carolina Carignan, and Kaiken Ultra, that release is looking better and better in terms of affordable, great-value reds -- and that also says a lot about what's coming out of South America these days.

  6. No worries, Michael. There's a lot of good wine I've recommended - even I had to look exactly when I had recommended it. :) Also, as an aside, I noticed that it will be on sale for $16.95 come March 30th. A steal at that price!

    I 100% agree - Ontario does great Riesling, and often at very good price points and can easily compete with the best in the world. I put them right up there with Mosel and Alsace.

    You're welcome. :) Yup, South America continues to pump out good value - and I hope they keep doing so.


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