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  • Monday, April 13, 2015

Apr. 18 LCBO Wine Picks: Putting Family First

Wine Picks from April 18, 2015 LCBO VINTAGES Release
The next LCBO VINTAGES release will be in stores across Ontario on . In this release, the major theme centres around "Family", with Europe's Primum Familiae Vini (PFV) and California's Wagner Family being the focus.

PFV is an exclusive guild of top winemakers from Europe, making many top wines that I'm sure you have at least heard of. Wines from all 11 members are featured in this release, and you can taste many, if not all, of these wines at a special VINTAGES walk-around tasting event on April 22 and also meet each of these winemakers at a reception/dinner on April 23. Tickets and details can be found here.

Established by Eloy Lecanda in 1864, the Vega Sicilia estate has changed owners many times before finally settling into the hands of the Alvarez family in 1982; the Vega Sicilia Alion is 100% Tempranillo. Symington Family Estates was established in 1882 and now remains the only family-owned Port company; Master Blender Charles Symington brings us his 2000 Warre's Colheita Tawny Port. Pol Roger was established in 1849 and produces some of best Champagne around. In this release, there is the 2004 Brut (60% Pinot Noir / 40% Chardonnay) and the 2006 Brut Rosé which is based on the Brut Vintage, but adds approximately 15% of still Pinot Noir prior to bottling and second fermentation - both of these Champagnes are a little sweet.

Antinori Solaia 2011 - IGT Toscana, Italy (93 pts)

I've been a big fan of wines from Famille Perrin, and their Beaucastel CdP is back in VINTAGES, consisting of 30% Grenache, 30% Mourvèdre, 10% Counoise, 10% Syrah and 5% Cinsault, and can be enjoyed now or cellared for up to 2 decades. Marchesi Antinori is arguably the most recognizable name in Italian wine and his 2011 Solaia (75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Sangiovese, 5% Cabernet Franc) is featured as the benchmark in this release; it should be cellared for a few years and enjoyed over the next decade.

The last PFV wine is from Egon Müller-Scharzhof. His great-great-grandfather Jean-Jacques Koch purchased the legendary Scharzhof estate in 1797, a site widely believed to be planted by the Romans and in near-continuous use ever since. Egon Müller makes wine in several countries, but only produces Riesling, including the Château Belá Riesling from Slovakia.

2006 Abad Dom Bueno Crianza from DO Bierzo, Spain (90 pts)
From the rest of the release, the latest vintage of the Bila-Haut is back in VINTAGES with an unspecified blend of Syrah, Grenache and Carignan. A pair of Spanish red wines are returning to VINTAGES a year older - the 2006 Abad Dom Bueno (100% Mencía) and the 2007 Conde de Valdemar (90% Tempranillo, 5% Mazuelo/Carignan and 5% Graciano.) From Veneto is the Brigaldara that consists of 40% Corvina, 20% Corvinone, and 40% Rondinella / Molinara / Sangiovese.

For fans of sweet Riesling, seek out the Ontario wines from Cave Spring and Henry of Pelham. If you prefer dry Rieslings, check out the Trimbach version or venture off the beaten path with the wine from Slovakia. Look at the Buissonnier Montagny if you prefer your Chardonnay unoaked, as the other two Chardonnays recommended below are oaked.

Lastly, the Blanc de Blancs Cremant sparkling wine has a little bit of sweetness and is made using Pinot Blanc and Auxerrois.

This was a very good release at the low end of the price scale for red wines. Stock up and enjoy my wine recommendations for this week. Cheers!

Red Wine:
  • BRIGALDARA VALPOLICELLA 2013 - DOC, Veneto, Italy (#917864) (XD) - $14.95
  • ABAD DOM BUENO CRIANZA 2006 - DO Bierzo, Spain (#244699) (XD) - $15.95  reviewed here
  • SECRETO PATAGÓNICO CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2012 - Patagonia, Argentina (#399204) (XD) - $18.95
  • FALERNIA RESERVA SYRAH 2010 - Elquí Valley, Chile (#208371) (XD) - $18.95
  • CARPINETO CHIANTI CLASSICO 2012 - DOCG, Tuscany, Italy (#356048) (XD) - $19.95
  • CHÂTEAU SAINT-NICOLAS 2010 - AC Cadillac Côtes de Bordeaux, France (#405829) (XD) - $19.95
  • POEIRA DUSTY 2010 - DOC Douro, Portugal (#405100) (XD) - $19.95
  • CONDE DE VALDEMAR RESERVA 2007 - DOCa Rioja, Spain (#947309) (XD) - $19.95

  • ALPHA CRUCIS TITAN SHIRAZ 2012 - McLaren Vale, South Australia (#377069) (XD) - $24.95
  • GREYWACKE PINOT NOIR 2011 - Marlborough, South Island, New Zealand (#402651) (XD) - $49.95  Flagship Store Exclusive
  • LOUIS JADOT BEAUNE BOUCHEROTTES 1 ER CRU 2009 - AC, Burgundy, France (#121319) (XD) - $59.95  Flagship Store Exclusive
  • CHÂTEAU DE BEAUCASTEL CHÂTEAUNEUF-DU-PAPE 2012 - AC, Rhône, France (#711317) (D) - $89.95
  • ALIÓN 2011 - DO Ribera del Duero, Spain (#199331) (XD) - $89.95
  • ANTINORI SOLAIA 2011 - IGT Toscana, Italy (#987586) (XD) - $251.95  reviewed here

White Wine:
  • LA JOYA GRAN RESERVA VIOGNIER 2014 - Colchagua Valley, Chile (#168542) (XD) - $15.95
  • HENRY OF PELHAM ESTATE RIESLING 2012 - VQA Short Hills Bench, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#557165) (M) - $17.95
  • VIGNERONS DE BUXY BUISSONNIER MONTAGNY 2011 - AC, Burgundy, France (#382879) (XD) - $19.95
  • CHÂTEAU BELÁ RIESLING 2012 - Muzla, Slovakia (#410951) (XD) - $24.95
  • CAVE SPRING CSV RIESLING 2012 - Cave Spring Vineyard, VQA Beamsville Bench, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#566026) (M) - $29.95
  • TRIMBACH RÉSERVE RIESLING 2011 - AC Alsace, France (#995316) (XD) - $29.95  Flagship Store Exclusive
  • NORMAN HARDIE NIAGARA UNFILTERED CHARDONNAY 2013 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#184432) (XD) - $39.00
  • RAMEY RITCHIE VINEYARD CHARDONNAY 2011 - Russian River Valley, Sonoma County, California, USA (#394528) (XD) - $90.00  Flagship Store Exclusive  reviewed here

Sparkling Wine:
  • CAVE DE HOEN MAUSBERG BLANC DE BLANCS BRUT CRÉMANT D’ALSACE - Méthode Traditionnelle, AC, Alsace, France (#171785) (D) - $17.95

Dessert Wine:
  • REIF VIDAL ICEWINE 2013 - VQA Niagara River, Ontario, Canada (#544791) (S) (200 mL) - $24.95
  • CHÂTEAU SUDUIRAUT 2011 - AC Sauternes, 1 er Cru Classé, Bordeaux, France (#296012) (S) (375 mL) - $55.85  Flagship Store Exclusive

  • WARRE’S COLHEITA TAWNY PORT 2000 - DOC, Portugal (#411702) (S) - $39.95

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


  1. I agree it was a decent release for value reds, even as the focus was on far more expensive/overpriced offerings, but there was also quite a bit of recycling, which I find irritating given the limitations already placed on consumers by the LCBO and its monopoly.

    For example, the Abad Dom Bueno was already released last year. It's a great Mencia -- a 90 for me -- and an exceptional value, but it's not new. The Conde de Valdemar, which looks interesting, is also a re-release. I suppose this gives consumers another shot at good wines at good prices, but there's an over-reliance on familiarity at the LCBO, as if they're pushing specific brands and excess inventory instead of challenging consumers with new and interesting products. That's a generalization, I know, and not entirely fair, but there it is.

    That said, I like your picks, even if I wasn't terribly enthused generally. I like Chapoutier, and the Bila-Haut is great value, but I wasn't as impressed by the Occultum Lapidem as most of the critics were, so I think I'm staying away. And while I like Chilean Syrah, Falernia's wines tend to be way overdone.

    Of course, there's a lot to like in the PFV feature, including the Vega from RDD, but those prices are likely too high for most.

    Anyway, onward we go... hopefully there will be more to like in the next one.

  2. Though as an addendum to my last comment I must say that one of the more intriguing wines of this release is the Condado de Haza Crianza 2010. This is also a re-release, I think, but its main appeal is that it's made by Alejandro Fernandez of Pesquera fame. This one seems bigger and oakier (and Godel didn't much care for it, though that makes me want it more), but if Pesquera can be seen as a surrogate for Vega-Sicilia (as it's right across the street), the Condado can be seen as a surrogate for Pesquera, which is almost twice the price. That's not always the best or right way to look at wine, but when the top end is out of your range, whether it's in Bordeaux or RDD or wherever, you do need to look for surrogates to get a sense of the place and the quality.

  3. I agree – there was quite a bit of recycling, something I seem to be noticing more and more of these days. In a way it’s good (because those that missed out the first time can pick up that same wine now), but at same time it’s also a con because it’s keep new wines off the shelves. Perhaps the solution is to have bigger shelves (unlikely to happen) or perhaps they keep the wines at the warehouse and you need to place an order to have it shipped to your favourite store?

    The next release looks like it has more high-priced wines as part of its main feature.

    Completely agree – looking at surrogates is an excellent way to explore wines from a specific area.


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