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Jul 30, 2007 07:50 PM

Any local review forum for newly released LCBO Vintages wines? [moved from Ontario board]

I didn't want to post this in the general wine forum in Chowhound, since it's mostly geared towards Ontario readers.

I've been scouring the Vintages release of their new wines bi-month, trying to catch that stellar yet well priced wine (i.e. < $30). Usually I focus on the ones that have a higher rating, preferably something from Winespectator, since I really don't know any other good way to choose from their vast selection of wines.

I'm certainly no wine expert, but do love a nice bottle of wine to go with my home cooked meals. So just wondering, besides actually paying for membership with an online wine review site, are there any local forums or Chowhound members that review the various wines that are newly released from LCBO?

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  1. There are tons of free options...

    The only wine discussion board that I know of that touches on vintages releases is the Robert Parker web board, there's usually a good thread or two about what people are targeting at upcoming vintages releases -

    David Lawrason has a wine blog with open comments (that no one ever comments in) at Toronto Life -

    While they aren't discussion boards, all of the usual local media suspects provide free on-line reviews of each Vintages release:
    Michael Vaughn, National Post:
    Gord Stimmel, Toronto Star:;q=stimmel...
    Do a search for Beppi Crosarial at the Globe...even the Toronto Sun has a wine column by their photo editor Rick Van Sickle.

    There are also free e-newsletters like Nat Decants (meh), Billy's Best Bottles and Worlds of Wine (by Rod Philips, the Ottawa Citizen's wine columnist).

    Another option is the online software (I use it to keep track of my cellar). It has consumer reviews and scores from the likes of Tanzer, Parker, etc. for the majority of Vintages' offerings (it's free to try, but subscription based).

    5 Replies
    1. re: gogol

      There are two threads about LCBO releases in the Toronto section of eGullet. One is LCBO Vintages Corner (which I started in '04)) and the other is LCBO Thread. Both threads have had their moments, but have languished with no interest or postings since April.

      There is also a LCBO discussion group in Yahoo Groups, and it is very quiet. It has the advantage of being led by Dean Tudor, but few of the 120 or so members participate.

      So, the time is right for a LCBO Releases thread on Chowhound. If it fails here, then there is no hope for us!

      1. re: jayt90

        jayt90, I would love to see an ongoing or update thread like that about the new LCBO releases. Only problem for me is that after I buy the wine, I usually let it sit in my basement/cellar for a few months before I even get to taste it. I guess I should taste it early, and if it's good then buy more to cellar for the long haul...

        BTW, what do you guys think about the reviews from Tony Aspler? I hear them on the news all the time, but never bothered to go out and actually buy his recs.

        1. re: Royaljelly

          There are some wines that should be tasted same day (release date) and you can get an idea of which ones from the hype, ratings, and price point. If I open one of these at noon on Saturday, and want more, I can check the availabilty at (it will be a day late) or call the Vintages consultant to get some put aside.
          If that doesn't work, I may ha to 1:30 ve to chase the wine in several outlets before mid afternoon, if I really want more.

          I'm neutral on Aspler. He seems to have a lot of links to the industry, but you have to admire his writing and persistence over the years. His descriptions are too dramatic for me.

          I really enjoy Konrad Ejbich on CBC-1, for his enthusiasm, wide-ranging knowledge, and down to earth descriptions. He is on at12:30 on Radio Noon, for one Friday each month (can't remember which Friday!)

      2. re: gogol

        Wine Spectator Forums under Wine Conversations also has threads on upcoming vintages releases similar to what gogol describes for the Robert Parker web board. Look for threads titled along the lines of "Vintages Sept.15 Release".

        1. re: Redshifted

          my favourite LCBO reviewer who includes vintages is billy of billy's best bottles. he puts out a book each year, but updates his website frequently.

      3. Winecurrent ( sends out a newsletter the week before every vintages release with tasting notes for most of the new wines being released.

        1 Reply
        1. re: mgs

          The nice thing about Winecurrent is that it of late it has also been reviewing consignment wines. It's always nice to have options other than Vintages/LCBO...

        2. Your challenge here is that the well-reviewed wines sell out quickly, so will be gone by the time you read about them on a discussion site!
          To my knowledge, the ONLY place that reviews every wine is a subscription site - Michael Vaughan's
          All of the others, including newspapers, only review a selection.
          The best free option is
          But you need to calibrate your palate to the reviewers. Try something they don't recommend and see if you like it! (That's a much better test than trying something they recommend).

          4 Replies
          1. re: estufarian

            If we start a thread (and I'm pretty sure we will) there seems to be enough interest here to research and discuss hot prospects before they appear on the shelves.Looking at all the sites mentioned in the preceding posts, it should be easy to identify 'sleepers' even without RP's designation.

            1. re: jayt90

              I would be interested in a new thread on this....I usually check out the first in line reportsfrom Lawreson - - I think they run about $75 per year, but very good notes and generally quite acurate.

              1. re: DDD

                To second estufarian's comment, palate calibration is key.

                I subscribed to wine access for a year, but I found Lawrason's palate way out of whack with my own.

                He tends to dramatically over-rate Canadian wines (With his 100 point scale I think you need to knock 7 to 10 points off a Canadian red and five to 7 from the whites to get a more realistic read). He also seems to have a fetish for flabby, one-dimensional (albeit cheap) Portuguese reds.

                Caveat emptor.

                1. re: gogol

                  Almost every local critic overrates Canadian wines - not that they're bad - just overrated for the quality actually delivered.
                  Jancis Robinson tasted a number late last year and wrote an article in the Financial Post. She has detailed notes on her site - but you have to be a member, so I'm reluctant to post them here but will email to anyone who requests if you promise not to publish and retain for personal use only.

                  Incidentally she rated most around 15-16 points out of 20 (and these were ‘the crème de la crème of Canadian wine’ ) with 17 being the top mark given (for a 2002 wine that was retrieved from a cellar - no longer available anywhere - and it cost $40 then and $50 for the latest vintage - if you can find it).
                  Yes, Canadian wines are indeed improving - but at those prices (which reflect favourable LCBO markups - domestic wines receive a significantly lower markup than imports, so true market price would be much higher), I need to taste them blind against comparably priced imports - and in many (most?) such tastings, they haven't outperformed.
                  How do we put this - maybe Lawrason, Aspler, Ejbich et al now taste so much Canadian wine, that their palates have become 'acclimatized'. Certainly they failed (at the start) to shout out when the 2002 'ladybug taint' problem materialized, only jumping in when others started publicizing the issue. And to his credit, it was Michael Vaughan (see Wineassessments link above) who really publicized this issue, although I'm aware of a number of producers who knew of the problem.
                  And of course, that brings into question the whole process by which VQA wines are 'legitimized' by a tasting panel - why did they not detect this taint?
                  To be fair, some producers did refuse to sell that vintage (as VQA). But I believe we need some "tough love" in assessing Canadian wines to ensure that those with 'true' quality receive recognition instead of being submerged by dubious 'Gold medal Winners' and suchlike.
                  PS Has anyone found an icewine that's worth its price? And which will potentially last for 25+ years like those from Germany?

          2. Ok folks, seems like there's some interest here in starting a regular thread about the new releases. So I'll start a new thread in the Wine board and hope we get enough participants...

            1 Reply
            1. re: Royaljelly

              Excellent. I'll be looking in at least once a week.

              We may have to promote it on the other board to get it moving.

            2. I have intense curiousity on this newly established winery located in Niagara Peninsula after reading a review on the winemaker. The winery, built by 3 Quebecoise, has deep connection with Boisset of Dom. de la Vougerie of Burgundy and they are destined to produce serious Chardonnay and Pinot Noir which is old-world in style.

              I would be grateful if anyone, just anyone who could tell me where I can buy them! Apparently they are sold out just the minute it as out on shelf at the LCBO stores in Canada and that's how good they are!!

              PLease visit here.

              <a href=';> Wine Club </a>

              1 Reply
              1. re: farel

                Sounds like Le Clos Jordanne.
                They're good but not world-beating. With only two releases (publicly - although a little of the first 'unofficial' year was produced), give them time and we'll find out whether the hype is justified.
                Because of the hype, they sell out immediately in Ontario (some are restricted to 1 bottle per person). But the same wines are available by the caseload in Quebec - the hype hasn't reached that far!