First image of this post
  • Date publishedMonday, February 2, 2015

Feb. 7 LCBO Wine Picks: Italy + Southern Hemisphere

LCBO Wine Picks from February 7, 2015 VINTAGES Release
The next LCBO VINTAGES release will be on shelves across Ontario on . The major feature of this release highlights 11 native grapes found in Italy, while the mini-feature highlights wines from the 5 major winemaking powers in the Southern Hemisphere - Chile, Argentina, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand.

Italy has many native grape varieties - over 500 at last count. VINTAGES highlights only 11 of these grapes, and only 3 of the 17 wines are included among my wine recommendations below. If you prefer dry, floral and fragrant white wines, check out the Falanghina grape. Tuscany is synonymous with Sangiovese, but also goes by various other names within the region. The Salcheto Vino Nobile di Montepulciano is made with this grape, but goes by its local name - Prugnolo Gentile, while the Villa Cafaggio uses Sangiovese. Lastly, if you've ever tried some of the Zinfandels from California and found them too sweet, then check out the dry, earthy Primitivo (a.k.a. Zinfandel) from Puglia.

One other Italian wine is included in the magazine, but for some reason not part of the native Italian grape theme - a Pecorino from Abruzzo. The last Italian wine to be included below is a traditional Bordeaux blend from Poggio al Tesoro - 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, balance is Merlot and Cabernet Franc.

From the mini-feature, a total of 4 wines from Chile, Argentina and South Africa are worth your attention. Chile's winemaking power Concha Y Toro brings us a Carmenère that hails from a single block within a single vineyard, while Fabre Montmayou from neighbouring Argentina has a Malbec that comes from vines over 60 years old. Both wines from South Africa made my list of wine picks - a Chenin Blanc (the most widely planted white grape in the country) and a Shiraz (a.k.a. Syrah and rising in popularity in South Africa.)

Hess Collection 19 Block Mountain Cuvée 2010 from Mount Veeder, Napa Valley, California, USA (91 pts)
The rest of the release features yet another fabulous Mencía wine from Bierzo, Spain, as well as a red blend from Hess Collection (68% Cabernet Sauvignon, 14% Malbec, 11% Syrah, 6% Merlot, and 1% Petit Verdot) that I had the pleasure of tasting at the winery last June.

In white wines, the Sancerre is a Sauvignon Blanc, while the wine from Switzerland is made using the Chasselas grape. Last, but definitely not the least, is a 9-grape, dry white wine blend from Austria that will be available only on VINTAGES Flagship stores.

Enjoy my wine recommendations from this release! Cheers!

Red Wine:
  • FEUDI SALENTINI LUPORANO PRIMITIVO DEL TARANTINO 2012 - IGP, Puglia, Italy (#395368) (XD) - $17.95
  • VILLA CAFAGGIO CHIANTI CLASSICO 2011 - DOCG, Tuscany, Italy (#176776) (XD) - $19.95
  • J. LOHR SOUTH RIDGE SYRAH 2012 - Paso Robles, California, USA (#948240) (XD) - $19.95
  • RUSTENBERG SHIRAZ 2011 - WO Stellenbosch, South Africa (#399246) (XD) - $19.95
  • FINCA LA CUESTA 2011 - DO Bierzo, Spain (#166702) (XD) - $19.95
  • FABRE MONTMAYOU GRAN RESERVA MALBEC 2011 - Mendoza, Argentina (#279802) (XD) - $22.95
  • SALCHETO VINO NOBILE DI MONTEPULCIANO 2011 - DOCG, Tuscany, Italy (#685180) (D) - $29.95  reviewed here
  • CONCHA Y TORO TERRUNYO PEUMO VINEYARD BLOCK 27 CARMENÈRE 2011 - Entre Cordilleras, Peumo, Cachapoal Valley, Chile (#562892) (XD) - $29.95
  • HESS COLLECTION 19 BLOCK MOUNTAIN CUVÉE 2010 - Mount Veeder, Napa Valley, California, USA (#018879) (XD) - $49.95  reviewed here
  • POGGIO AL TESORO SONDRAIA 2010 - DOC Bolgheri Superiore, Tuscany, Italy (#292391) (XD) - $49.95

White Wine:
  • REICHSGRAF VON KESSELSTATT RK RIESLING 2008 - QbA Mosel, Germany (#733295) (M) - $15.95  reviewed here
  • WEINGUT ZAHEL RIEDENCUVÉE GRÜNER VELTLINER 2013 - Wiener Lagen, Austria (#181594) (XD) - $16.95
  • ECO PECORINO D’ABRUZZO SUPERIORE 2013 - DOC, Abruzzo, Italy (#395020) (XD) - $17.95
  • OCONE FLORA FALANGHINA 2012 - DOP Taburno Falanghina del Sannio, Campania, Italy (#326694) (XD) - $18.95
  • REDSTONE CHARDONNAY 2011 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#398966) (XD) - $18.95
  • CAVES ORSAT FENDANT 2013 - AC Valais, Switzerland (#402669) (XD) - $19.95
  • SIMONSIG CHENIN AVEC CHÊNE CHENIN BLANC 2012 - WO Stellenbosch, South Africa (#282772) (XD) - $25.95
  • DOMAINE DE SAINT-PIERRE SANCERRE 2013 - AC, Loire, France (#170258) (XD) - $26.95
  • WIENINGER NUSSBERG ALTE REBEN WIENER GEMISCHTER SATZ 2012 - DAC, Wien, Austria (#395640) (XD) - $37.00

Sparkling Wine:
  • POULET ET FILS BRUT CRÉMANT DE DIE - Méthode Traditionnelle, AC, Rhône, France (#392555) (D) - $17.95
  • TAITTINGER PRESTIGE BRUT ROSÉ CHAMPAGNE - AC, France (#993113) (D) - $89.95

Fortified Wine:
  • FONSECA QUINTA DO PANASCAL VINTAGE PORT 2001 - Bottled in 2003, DOP, Portugal (#402354) (S) (375 mL) - $39.95

Dessert Wine:
  • FEATHERSTONE SELECT LATE HARVEST CABERNET FRANC 2011 - VQA Twenty Mile Bench, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#210757) (S) (375 mL) - $19.95  reviewed here

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


  1. This is my first comment at your site, but I've long been a fan of your reviews (including at WineAlign), and particularly of your Vintages previews. I find our tastes often... align.

    Without having tasted anything in advance, and just going by the reviews and my own research and interests, my list includes the same Primitivo, which seems like by far the most interesting/elegant of those on offer. I'd also add the Abbona Papa Celso, as Piedmont may be my favourite Italian wine region -- it seems a bit expensive at 24,95, but perhaps not unreasonably so. I'm also looking at the Ilauri le Pinciaie Montepulciano d'Abruzzo, mainly as a reach beyond the usual, and the Cappellaccio Aglianico, though I haven't seen any reviews for that one yet. Overall, while I know Szabo called this Italian feature hopelessly corporate, I do find it's a helpful introduction for those looking to understand -- and broaden their understanding of -- Italian wine beyond the obvious, given how difficult it can be to get into Italian wine given the many distinctive regions and varietals. And while it doesn't appear to be a great showcase of quality, a few do stand out, including a couple of whites, always a great value (and a great detour into something different).

    Beyond Italy, the Finca la Cuesta probably tops my list, mainly because I love Spanish wine in general and Mencia/Bierzo in particular. I just had the Godelia Red 2009 the other day, and it was absolutely fantastic (90). As a Carmenere fan, I'm also drawn to the Concha Y Toro Terrunyo Peumo, but the price is a bit steep at 29.95. Still, if it's one of the best Carmeneres out there, I'm not sure I'll be able to resist.

    I can't say this release interests me nearly as much as the one two weeks ago, when there were a good 6-8 Spanish reds that caught my attention, not to mention the Casas del Bosque Syrah from Chile and the Tenuta Rocca Ornati from Italy, but, as always, there are some gems.

  2. Thank you for your comment, Michael! It's a pleasure to hear from readers! :)

    Based on your comments, it sounds like we do have similar tastes in wine. I'm not a Primitivo/Zinfandel guy, but I would agree that this is probably the most interesting wine of the release. I did read Szabo's report on this release as well and do agree - this seemed to be a bunch of popular/safe bet wines with a sprinkling of a few different wines. I did feel a little underwhelmed with the Italian wines in this release, especially when compared with the many great (white) wines I tasted at the Italian tasting last November. Hopefully some of those get a chance to hit the shelves at some point this year.

    Yup - lots of good values coming out of Spain, and Mencia is probably the biggest hidden secret out there. As for the Carmenere, the price is a bit steep, but you won't find many (if any) better than this one by Concha Y Toro. Chile does some very nice Syrah as well - and I expect we'll see more from that region.


  3. Funny, when I went to the LCBO today to have a look at the new releases, none of the Italians from the main feature really appealed to me. Sometimes you can do all the research you want, but when you're on a budget, as almost all of us are, you have to pick and choose carefully, whether you're buying 1 from a new release, or 5, or 10. I may still pick up that Primitivo, or possibly the Papa Celso, but I think the small number of Italian wines from the main feature on your list speaks to how generally unexciting that feature is.

    Anyway, I did go for the Carmenere. Maybe this is one of those releases where quality should come before quantity, and I'd rather have this one than a couple of mediocre reds for half the price. I suppose it needs to be put away for a couple of years, but I'm tempted to go for it and see if it really does stand out.

    Question on another one: How do you find this Mencia compares to other recent options, including those from Bodega Del Abad, including the Gotin del Risc from the last release? The reviews suggest it might be a bit rough at this point.

  4. Well... I'll be honest. I never go to the LCBO to browse and look for a wine. I already know what I want - get in, find what I'm looking for, and get out. And yes, I'm on a budget just as most of the rest of us. Agreed - for the most part, the Italian feature was rather unexciting.

    Awesome! Let me know what you think of the Carmenere. For me, quality always wins over quantity.

    The Bodega Del Abad would still be my favourite of the three, while the La Cuesta would be a close 2nd. You could give it another year or two as it's only about 3.5 years old.

    p.s. Apologies for the delayed reply - been a bit busy the last couple of days.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.

Blog Archive

Posts by Tag

Recent Posts

Recent Posts Widget


My Zimbio
Blogarama - Drinks & Beverages Blogs
Top Wine Sites
Wine blog
RSSChomp Blog Directory