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Wine discussion from LCBO

Post any gems you have found at the LCBO that are reasonably priced. I've tried the majority of 10$ ontario wines and haven't been blown away yet. I've also found that men and women usually enjoy different wines so I'd really appreciate a women's perspective.

The only wine I've truly loved is the J. Lohr Merlot 2007 for 20$ and it's finally in stock again.

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  1. We just enjoyed a bottle of Sketches Rose from Tawse last night. I was very pleasantly surprised. Full flavoured yet crisp. Very nice rose.

    1. The BODEGAS Castano La Casona Monastrell (143743) from Spain is $8.70 and a bit bitter on its own for my liking, but fantastic with heavier, fattier food.

      La Casona
      1500 Royal York, Toronto, ON M9P3B5, CA

      3 Replies
      1. re: Crispier Crouton

        That's a rose also, isn't it Crispier Crouton?

        1. re: millygirl

          Nope, that's a full-on red 100% Monastrell (aka Mouvedre) ... and also my go-to cheap red here in expensive Ontario. You may be thinking of LA CASONA ROSE LCBO 175760, which is also a nice crisp dry rose.

          1. re: burningrome

            Yes, that's it! Can you tell, I've been in to the roses of late. However with today's rain and cold, I think it's time to move on.

      2. I'm rather fond of the Echeverria Reserva Syrah. $16 ish. We find it goes really well with meat pasta.

        1. I don't agree at all that men and women enjoy different wines any more than men and women enjoy different foods. As for suggestion, try:


          It's a medium bodied Rhone blend, cherry/plum fruit, decent tannins on the finish to give it some backbone and a very good buy at this price point. If you want more suggestions, the Wine Spectator bulletin board usually has a few LCBO threads going.

          1. Recently I've been using Alan Kerr's tasting reviews of the latest Vintages releases. I find his tastings are quite accurate and he samples a lot of wines each time. I think his posts show up 2 days before the Saturday release date. Here's the link: http://blogs.gangofpour.com/

            I don't think you're gonna find too many wines at $10 that you'll be "blown away" by. Perhaps increasing your budget to around the $15-25 range might get you better success (as per the Merlot you like).

            1. A few whites I enjoy are Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc ($18.95) from New Zealand, Vineland Estates Semi-Dry Reisling ($13.95) from Ontario and Cono Sur Viognier ($9.95) from Chile. As for reds I always enjoy Catena Malbec ($19.95) from Argentina.

              1. Any suggestions for a Chianti? Nothing too acidic and overpowering. I'm still somewhat of a wine novice and have yet to grow accustomed to really strong wines. I enjoyed a lovely 2006 Chianti Superiore by Fattoria Poggiarello last night at Origin and would love to find something similar. Last summer, I had the best Chianti ever while visiting Siena and have yet to find something as good in Toronto.

                1. We've really been enjoying the Tilia Cab Sauv from Argentina. It's been our "house red" for the summer and proven to be especially good w bbq.

                  If you like big reds, you should give this value-priced wine a try - $12.95 It's yummy good!!


                  3 Replies
                  1. re: Breadcrumbs

                    Coming Sept 18 to Vintages --

                    TOP VALUE WHITE WINES under $20 or so.
                    1. Henry of Pelham Barrel Fermented Chardonnay 2007 VQA Niagara
                    Escarpment: terrific balance of fruit and wood, vanilla, spices. Puts
                    the plank back into salmon, etc. +268342, $19.95, QPR: 90.
                    2. Tawse Sketches of Niagara Chardonnay 2008 VQA Niagara Peninsula: a
                    smart wine with lots of fruit and longer length. +89037, $19.95, QPR:
                    3. Chateau des Charmes Old Vines Riesling 2007 VQA NOTL: very
                    successful Alsatian style, loaded with concentration. +277228, $16.95,
                    QPR: 90.
                    4. Alamos Chardonnay 2009 Mendoza: useful and youthful, hits all the
                    right buttons. +801571, $13.95, QPR: 89.
                    5. Chateau du Juge Blanc 2008 Bordeaux: lovely MVC of sauvignon blanc
                    and Semillon, balance. +171082, $15.95, QPR: 90.

                    TOP VALUE RED WINES under $20 or so.
                    1. Vinecol Organic Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 Mendoza: MVC consistency,
                    off-dry finish, plumy but red fruit. +167270, $13.95, QPR: 89.
                    2. Ringbolt Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 Margaret River: excellent fruit
                    set, lovely persistent finish. It engaged me. +606624, $19.95, QPR: 90.
                    3. The Ruins Syrah/Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 WO Robertson SA: anoher
                    organic wine winner, good hit of Rhone Syrah here. Twist top. 14.8%
                    ABV. +18739, $14.95, QPR: 91.
                    4. Bod. Corral Don Jacobo Crianza 2005 Rioja: nicely aged, rich and
                    raisiny, plumy and pruney too. Delightful MVC Rioja. +937714, $13.95,
                    QPR: 91.

                    1. re: Dean Tudor

                      I've loved Ringbolt in the past so tks for the heads up on this one. Also the Rioja sounds awesome, I'll likely grab a case of that.

                      1. re: Breadcrumbs

                        Rocca della Macie for Chianti Classico.

                  2. Here is a link to the Vintages website. All new releases are posted online, in advance of the release,in a pdf format flipbook (I preferred the old format). It lists all wines and spirits in the release along with tasting notes for each wine. It's a great tool. You can also search the vintages website with advanced options for price, region, varietal, etc.

                    As an aside, if you enjoyed the J. Lohr Merlot, try the Madrigal Merlot 2005. It's a leaner style of merlot with decent structure - not a big fruit bomb.


                    2 Replies
                    1. re: sloweater

                      Hardly an independent assessment. They are the retailer and I take their 'reviews' (and scores) with a huge grain of salt (which probably means I'm consuming too much salt). They're notorious for using descriptions/scores for a completely different vintage than the one available.
                      And their 'wines of the month'/similar features are PAID-FOR ads - agents/producers pay a premium to be listed here.

                      And, of course, their product codes are re-used from vintage to vintage - I've often found 2 different vintages in the same shelf bin - and once found 4 different vintages.

                      Stick to the independent reviewers (such as Alan Kerr and Dean Tudor, both mentioned above - and the several others that exist).

                      1. re: estufarian

                        With all due respect, for a novice wine buyer, the tasting notes and reviews are more than adequate for wines under $20. You may as well stop buying Decanter, the Wine Spectator, and any other food/wine publication that is beholden to advertising if you're concerned about biased reviews.

                        Unless you are planning on spending a chunk of time researching every wine purchase, the Vintages site is just fine.

                    2. I wouldn't touch any wine from Niagra, too many misses for the number of hits.
                      The contrary to this is Rioja, mostly hits, relative to the number of misses. Therefore much better value. ( + syoung above, has a sensible recommendation)
                      If you want a simplistic value white, then Ardeche by Latour works. Again as the folks mention above, Sauvignons from New Zealand are mostly well made.

                      1862 Queen St E, Toronto, ON M4L1H1, CA

                      32 Replies
                      1. re: AzulH

                        I have to admit, as much as I love having a wine region so close to home, like you, I find the Niagara (area) wines just haven't been able compete in terms of value for $ with other wines. Even when foreign content rules were relaxed due to Ontario's poor growing conditions, the blended final products were over-priced relative to competitors from counties such as Australia, Chile and Argentina. I love South America for value priced wines. Although technically they're deemed "new world", their vines have been in the ground just as long, if not longer than those in Europe. IMHO of course!!

                        1. re: Breadcrumbs

                          You guys obviously miss this bit of news from the Toronto Star:
                          http://www.thestar.com/news/gta/artic.... ;-)

                          I agree that Ontario wines are generally bad QPRs although I try to buy them sometimes just to support the region. It doesn't help that local critics like Stimmell and MacLean overrates local wines, sometimes by a lot. I'll be trying some of the 2009 vintage to see if they're is as good as the producers claim, though I fully expect continued overpricing.

                          1. re: syoung

                            Except for Clossan and Chase and a few others, I tend to agree about Ontario wines but as I said above, try Tawse Sketches Rose. Great value and a very nice general purpose house wine.

                            1. re: syoung

                              Why in the world should anyone buy wine or anything else just because they are local? If they can't compete on merit, let them die. Besides, its very hypocritical attitude. If everyone in the world thought this way, the Canadian economy, which depends very heavily on exports, would suffer more more than most.

                              1. re: evansl

                                Because sometimes when you want something virtuous, you need to invest in it first.

                                1. re: justsayn

                                  What is virtuous about local wine?

                                  (Or even much local agriculture, which often is less environmentally sustainable).

                                  1. re: BigBabyYeezuS

                                    If we went back to 50 hectare family farms the urban areas could not be fed, and food would be brought in from China.

                                  2. re: justsayn

                                    Have to agree with BBY here. I see no logic in that statement.

                                2. re: syoung

                                  As a card carrying oenophile with a cellar of nearly 400 bottles, let me wade in on this. With the exception of some lovely Pinot Noirs, the reds here are pretty much wanting. However, the whites are exceptional and our cold climate Chardonnays and Rieslings are really top drawer. The really exceptional vintages, like the 09' Nuet Blanche from Hidden Bench, are not given to the gov/pigs at the L.C.B.O., but can only be found at the vineyard or finer restaurants. I suggest a visit to both Hidden Bench near St. Cath. and Norman Hardy in the county in order to sample the finer whites. I buy all my Ontario wine in bulk from my twelve go-to Ontario wineries and never set foot in an L.C.B.O. I deal with three knowledgeable wine agents who can get me about anything. I agree that buying local just for political reasons is absurd, but there are some great local wines here which should not be missed. So get in your car, drive down to Niagara or P.E. county, get to know the vintners and sample some wine not available in the Commie liquor stores.

                                  1. re: TorontoTuna

                                    In your opinion!
                                    Without getting into a 'my cellar is bigger than yours' discussion, the only thing that matters is whether one likes the wine, and what it costs.
                                    You have unjustly (IMO) criticized the red wines of Canada. My favourite is Syrah, which I have found consistently tasty across most producers. But pinots have been variable to the point that I'd never buy one without trying. And the latter are more expensive than most Ontario wines - double jeopardy. Those I have liked just don't taste of 'pinot' - as I understand it; they may be fine wines - they're just not 'pinot'.
                                    And, in the county, my suspicion is that much of the plantings are 'Davis approved clones' (by definition for a different climate) - which could explain why they just don't taste 'as anticipated' for me.

                                    1. re: estufarian

                                      Estufarian, re: Syrah - Can you recommend any particular stand out years/producers?

                                      1. re: Apprentice

                                        I prefer some age, but that's just not likely (although Southbrook does release some as part of its 'Whimsey' lineup - I'm sitting on some of that). Most recently got Lailey Vineyard 2012 at LCBO - but it's mostly through the system already - still some at Liberty Village ($27.20) - but could still be available at the winery.
                                        I have leads on a couple more - but need to check them out first, both for 'quality control' and to ensure I get my fill before publicising!

                                        Also, the Jackson Triggs (which I haven't tried) is released on October 2 ($32.95). They imply a 'special vineyard' - Delaine, which they hype as 'premium' - but that's probably marketing hype as it's about 100 acres in size and grows all of Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Syrah, Chardonnay, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Gewürztraminer, and Semillion (sic). Any vineyard that includes both Riesling and Syrah CANNOT make 'premium' versions of both.
                                        I may try a bottle, but the promo already raises my hackles. Nevertheless, I'll calm down if the product is good.
                                        Strangely, this release is the 2010 - but the 2011 is already sold out at the winery!

                                          1. re: estufarian

                                            There are a few reds that one can consider local that I have found over the years that have ranged anywhere from good, to borderline excellent.

                                            I have been fairly impressed with the Pinot's and Syrah's from Lailey (though those were ones I purchased when at the winery years ago so I am unsure as to their distribution via the LCBO). Another diamond in the rough, though the consistency is in question was a Meritage from NCT about 4-5 years ago that was borderline excellent, and a steal for under $25.

                                            The whites as mentioned are quite good (and consistent), Riesling and late harvest ice wines being our finest points.

                                            I would like to try some more offerings from Hidden Bench given the frequency it is mentioned on this board.

                                            At the end of the day, while we do produce some very good wines locally, I still will reach for say a Williams Selyem Pinot (or even one of their Chard's for that matter) over anything local as we still cannot achieve the same depth they can in say California or France and that is no fault of our own, simply geography.

                                            1. re: Sadistick

                                              I've also had some good stuff from NCT - both red & white; although their wines are patchy - as always taste before buying, if possible.
                                              LOVE Williams-Selyem (but not the prices) - but I've sometimes found them in restaurants (not in Canada) for less than the retail prices, so that's where I'll splurge (in California, Santa Barbara specifically). For Chard, I'm a Talbott fan (plus anything from Santa Cruz; Sonoma Coast also good but more expensive). The Talbott Kali Hart Chard is currently our 'house white' and a few bottles are still around in LCBO (and my cellar!). Which brings me back to 'quality' and 'price'. The Kali Hart is $23.75 - Ontario Chard (of quality) tends to be well above that price.

                                              My favourite pinots from North America are usually from the Wente clone (often now referred to as the Mount Eden clone as the graftings are usually taken from there). Apart from Mount Eden itself, they are also planted in the Hirsch vineyard (one of the Williams-Selyem sources) and I've just ordered a case each of the Hirsch Pinot and Chard from their Ontario agent (that's a rare splurge for me, but with limited distribution, it's an opportunity to get something that is hard to find - and incidentally made by the W-S winemaker).

                                              1. re: estufarian

                                                I will have to keep a look out for the Talbott.

                                                Interesting facts regarding the Wente clone, I enjoy the Hirsch vineyard, probably amongst my top 5 from them.

                                                Curious, you mentioned WS's Ontario Agent...I was under the impression that they had 0 distribution in Ontario let alone Canada, hence the constant struggle of bringing in their wines as I have them shipped to a warehouse in NY. Do tell!

                                                1. re: Sadistick

                                                  Yes, my past tasting of W-S Hirsch prompted me to risk the 'Hirsch' winery (and vineyard). I tried to make it clear by mentioning it was made by the W-S winemaker.
                                                  For certainty, the PN is the Hirsch Vineyards PN, San Andreas Fault.
                                                  The Chard is definitely the Wente clone - cuttings taken from Rochioli's vineyard.
                                                  But we're veering off-topic (they're not available in LCBO (although 'technically' all wine in Ontario comes via LCBO - but not necessarily retailed through it).

                                                  I used to ship to Buffalo, but the duties/mark-ups/handling (!!!) fees were just to much (used to be around 100% but I'm told they're now about 75%).

                                                  Not sure if there's any of the Hirsch Vineyards stock left - but if you contact me through my profile address, I'll provide the link. At least then you might get in on their next offer.

                                              2. re: Sadistick

                                                Sadistick, NCT put the price of the Meritage up to $40 awhile back, and it continued to sell...It is now gone. The vintage I had was 2005. I still have 7 bottles left from a case I bought...

                                                estufarian would like its aged complexity, it will last another couple of years, at its peak. A terrific wine, last tasted in the spring.

                                                1. re: Dean Tudor

                                                  I believe I had the 2007, though I might be mistaken....we too bought a case, though it is long gone, sadly.

                                                  Not sure it is worth the $40 price tag....after all this is a wine produced by students who are learning the craft (yes the quality is high, but part of the allure was the price:quality and the fact that this is a teaching college!)

                                                  NCT's late harvest ice wine was also a steal at roughly $25 for 375ml, but from your comments Dean, that is most likely doubled as well by now!

                                              3. re: estufarian

                                                estufarian, You hit the nail on the head -- it is Syrah that is Canada's top grape variety for flavour and expression. The WWCC had a tasting of Kacaba Syrahs over the summer http://gothicepicures.blogspot.ca/201...

                                                It was wonderful...The JT Delaine Syrah is also very much worth trying, as is the Lailey.

                                                  1. re: Dean Tudor

                                                    Just to update:
                                                    I had the Stratus 2010 Syrah and was disappointed. Tasted much more like a Shiraz with sweetish fruit.
                                                    Don't know (yet) whether this is the Stratus style or the vintage (2010 was a hotter year). If I want 'Australian Shiraz' style I can get an Australian version at half the price or less of the Stratus!
                                                    The Delaine is a 2010 so, for sure, I will only buy 1 bottle (or hope its on the tasting bar).

                                                    1. re: estufarian

                                                      The 2011 ($32.95) was in the Taste Ontario show at the ROM last Thursday. Lovely, as was Creekside Broken Press Syrah 2011 ($39.75), and Lailey 2012 ($27). Avoid Lakeview 2012 ($24.75).

                                                      1. re: Dean Tudor

                                                        If you're referring to the Delaine ($32.95 is the price of their 2010), their website (Jackson Triggs)is showing it as sold out.
                                                        So why would they feature the 2011 (sold out) at a show just as the 2010 is released?

                                                        Conspiracy theorists find this 'interesting'! For sure, try it first.
                                                        I have the Lailey 2012 (very good).
                                                        The Creekside Broken Press doesn't appear to have been released yet. The 2010 is 'sold out' according to their website. Is it worth 50% more than the Lailey - which has the benefit of availability?

                                                        1. re: estufarian

                                                          Thank you for the updates. I'm surprised by the price point of these Syrahs, clearly there must be a demand and confidence in the quality?

                                                          1. re: estufarian

                                                            I think the Creekside is more in Oz mode, but still good.

                                                            1. re: estufarian

                                                              estufarian --

                                                              From Tony Aspler, tasted last Thursday...

                                                              Delaine Syrah 2011: dense ruby colour; dry, herbal, blackberry nose; dry, medium-bodied, savoury-herbal flavour. (88)

                                                              Lailey Syrah 2012: dense ruby colour; minerally, smoky, minerally, herbal nose; dry, elegant, northern Rhône style, firmly structured. A well-made Syrah (91)

                                                              Creekside Broken Press Syrah 2011: deep ruby colour; peppery, herbal, blackberry nose; lean but savoury flavours, firm and well structured. Good for the vintage. (89+)

                                                              From me -- Just tried the Lenko Syrah 2009, $59.95. Nope, not at that price. Maybe $25.

                                                              1. re: Dean Tudor

                                                                I think the Stratus was $48.
                                                                Suddenly, the Lailey is a bargain!

                                                      2. re: estufarian

                                                        The Southbrook Whinsy Syrah 2012 is now out (only 1 barrel made) @$34.95. Haven't tried it but two previous releases were excellent.
                                                        Free delivery if you order 6 bottles (or more) from the on-line store (or mix 'n match for minimum $200 order to get free delivery).

                                                  2. re: TorontoTuna

                                                    It wasn't a politically motivated statement if that's my post your speaking about.

                                            2. Thought I'd bump this back up to see if anyone has any recent finds?

                                              1. Two affordable wines that went great with this years Turkey dinner :

                                                Jip Jip Rocks Unoaked Chardonnay 2009 $16
                                                Latour Pinot Noir (a light Pinot) $19

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: PoppiYYZ

                                                  I can't remember the name of the winery. Heritage, Cotes du Rhone, under $12 surprisingly good. In general listing.

                                                2. The bargain of the year was Monasterio De Las VIÑAS RESERVA 2005, $12.95. It tasted like wine 4-5 times the price.

                                                  Unfortunately, we weren't the only people who noticed. They LLCBO across the province sold out in about 3 weeks.

                                                  5 Replies
                                                  1. re: evansl

                                                    To put this list in context:

                                                    "Just the other week 13th Street’s Peter Bodnar Rod posed this question to the judges of Intervin 2010 (Christopher Waters, Thomas Bachelder, Linda Bramble, Darryl Brooker, Sara D’Amato, Christopher Freeland, April Kilpatrick, Craig McDonald, Paul Pender, Sue-Ann Staff, Margaret Swaine, Zoltan Szabo, James Treadwell, Deanna Van Mulligen, and little old me)

                                                    And so we present for you the list compiled that evening, and Oh Boy, have we got a list for you…"

                                                    Sparkling Wines:

                                                    1. Segura Viudas “Brut Reserva” Cava Penedes Spain (LCBO GL# 158493) $14.95

                                                    2. Jacob’s Creek Chardonnay/Pinot Noir “Bottle Fermented” Australia (Still trying to track this down! – JD)

                                                    White Wines:

                                                    1. Babich Sauvignon Blanc New Zealand (LCBO GL# 620054) $16.05

                                                    2. Cono Sur Riesling Chile (LCBO GL# 156653) $9.95

                                                    3. Weingut St. Urbans-Hof ”Urban” Riesling QbA Mosel Germany (LCBO GL# 184051) $14.95

                                                    4. Pfaffenheim Pinot Blanc Alsace France (LCBO GL# 22855) $12.95

                                                    5. Fritz Haag Riesling Germany (Occasionally seen)

                                                    6. Gatao Vinho Verde Portugal (Occasionally seen)

                                                    7. Louis Jadot Chardonnay Burgundy France (LCBO VINTAGES# 933077) $18.95

                                                    8. Rabl “Käferberg” Grüner Veltliner Austria (LCBO VINTAGES ONLINE# 32532) $29

                                                    9. Lailey “Select Late Harvest” Riesling Niagara Ontario (WINERY ONLY) $25 (375ml)

                                                    10. KWV Chenin Blanc South Africa (LCBO GL# 18689) $8

                                                    Red Wines:

                                                    1. Bodegas Montecillo Rioja Reserva Spain (LCBO GL# 621003) $18.45

                                                    2. Vinicola Botter “Ogio” Primitivo Puglia Italy (LCBO GL# 86421) $8.85

                                                    3. La Vieille Ferme Côtes du Ventoux Rhône Valley France (LCBO GL# 263640) $11.95

                                                    4. Bodegas Casona “La Casona Old Vines” Monastrell Jumilla Spain (LCBO GL# 143743) $8.70

                                                    6. De Bortoli “Deen Vat 10″ Pinot Noir South Australia (LCBO GL#61622) $15.05

                                                    7. Juan Gil Monastrell Jumilla Spain (LCBO VINTAGES# 74888) $12.95

                                                    8. Louis Jadot Beaujolais France (LCBO VINTAGES# 5918) $9.95 (375ml)

                                                    9. Condado de Haza Crianza Ribera del Duero Spain (LCBO VINTAGES# 963348) $24.95

                                                    10. Sue Ann Staff Baco Noir Niagara Ontario (WINERY ONLY)

                                                    1560 Yonge St., Toronto, ON M4T 2S9, CA

                                                    1862 Queen St E, Toronto, ON M4L1H1, CA

                                                    Sur Cafe
                                                    4949 Bathurst St, Toronto, ON M2R1Y1, CA

                                                    1. re: Non Doctor

                                                      A couple of Cono Sur's mentioned already and I'd also add Cono Sur's Pinot Noir for about $11. Light crisp Pinot Noir that's great with any meat including game, poultry, and even rich fish (especially grilled salmon). Excellent value.

                                                      1. re: Non Doctor

                                                        Should take me a couple of days, but I'm going to taste every one of these.

                                                        1. re: Non Doctor

                                                          Wow, thanks for this! Excited to try some of these.

                                                          1. re: Non Doctor

                                                            awesome, can't wait to dive into this list!

                                                        2. Picked up a couple of bottles of Terre di Giumara Nero D'avola a few days ago for $11-something and opened it that night. Went back and bought all the rest that they had in stock. Delicious - especially for that price. But I'm a pushover for nero d'avola.

                                                          1. From the Dec 11th LCBO Release


                                                            2008 Yalumba, Shiraz/Viognier
                                                            Viognier is a white grape varietal which makes this Aussie red a touch unusual. Yalumba has blended a very small amount of the fragrant Viognier with their mighty Shiraz, a varietal typical of south Australia. The result is a powerhouse wine which I found a touch aggressive straight out of the bottle. After an hour of breathing time however, the deep inky purple Shiraz began to show its softer side. This full bodied wine seemed to mellow nicely in the glass with some air though make no mistake, while it is very good, it is also a very dry Shiraz and not one to sip on its own but instead, will pair perfectly with a rich red meat dish. Decant 1-2 hours before serving. LCBO #524926 / $19.95 (XD)

                                                            2008 De Martino Legado, Riserva Cabernet Sauvignon
                                                            Opened at lunch, the nose was quite fragrant but the mid palate was flat - nothing to write home about was my initial reaction but later in the day - Wow! The nose exploded with peppermint and the mouth-feel rounded out nicely. It is bone dry with dark fruit and an earthy aftertaste. A very interesting Chilean wine for sure! Decant 2 hours before serving LCBO #205674 / $14.95 (XD)


                                                            2009 Bougrier, Vouvray
                                                            'Consistently excellent' best describes this Chenin Blanc from the Loire Valley in France. Bougrier's Vouvray is one of my 'go-to' wines and it never disappoints. The style is off-dry with notes of exotic fruit and a hint of honey plus just the right amount of acidity to pair will a multitude of foods or simply on its own as an aperitif. Save yourself the trip back to the store and buy a few bottles. LCBO #106880 / $13.95 (MD)

                                                            2008 Jackson-Triggs, Proprietors' Grand Reserve Chardonnay
                                                            This Niagara Chardonnay has spent 8 months in new oak and that style is quite prevalent in the vanilla and almond extract notes but these characteristics are balance by some nice tropical fruit and good acidity. This is a big wine and a rare opportunity where a white will also benefit from decanting. Let it breath for an hour. Very good. LCBO #593996 / $20.95 (D)


                                                            Royal Oporto 10-year old Tawny Port
                                                            The LCBO called this 200ml bottle a 'Stocking Stuffer' and I agree whole-heartedly. If you have not yet tried Tawny Port, this is the perfect place to start. Tawny is an oak-aged fortified wine and the 10-year designation is the average time the wine has spent aging in wood. The oak softens the wine's hard edges and slowly changes its colour to a soft tawny-brown. Traditionally, port is served on the cool side but I prefer mine at room temperature with milk chocolate - Wow! LCBO #661223 / $12.95 (S)

                                                            One for the Cellar:

                                                            2005 Ascheri Vigna dei Pola, Barolo
                                                            The 2000 version of Ascheri's Vigna dei Pola was voted top wine at the North of 9 Fine Wine Barolo tasting last March. Italy's Barolo is a product of the Nebbiolo grape varietal and wines from the 2005 vintage will benefit from at least 7-10 years in the bottle. Vigna dei Pola is aged as separate components in large Slovenian oak, new barriques, and stainless steel and then rejoined before bottling. Expect a big wine which is surprisingly light in colour filled with red fruit, subtle earthy notes, and a touch of spice. Cellar it until 2012 - It's worth the wait. LCBO #739920 / $41.95 (XD)


                                                            1. One more : Perrin Reserve Cotes du Rhone. I had them since 2007 and they were all very good for $15. I believe only 2009 is available now.

                                                              1. From the January 22, 2011 LCBO Vintages Release


                                                                2007 Messias, Grande Escolha
                                                                For most of us, Portugal represents Vintage and Tawny Port, the thick, rich and greatest example of fortified wine. But are you aware that the Portuguese also make really good dry red wine? This one is from Douro and is made with the same grape varietals used in the production of port except it’s not fortified with brandy spirits. Aromas of highly concentrated dark fruit with a hint of dark chocolate precede smooth blackberries accented by black pepper and spice. Try it with prime rib. LCBO #064691 / $17.95 (XD)

                                                                2009 Rolling Shiraz
                                                                Rich red fruit greets you right off the top combined with some earthiness. The two actually balance each other out nicely. On the palate, sweetness and lots of it coats your tongue with ripe juicy fruit and a hint of spice. It is by no means a full-bodied Shiraz; the style is much lighter and very easy to drink. A bargain at this price. LCBO #203133 / $14.95 (D)


                                                                2009 St. Donatus Irsai Oliver, Balatonlellei
                                                                Irsai Oliver is a type of white grape native to central Europe and in this example, Hungary. The awkwardness of the name has not added to the appeal of this very fragrant varietal though that should not deter your interest in trying something new. On the nose: Aroma is not the correct word; perfume is more accurate and you must try it to believe how pronounced the fragrance actually is. Crushed rose petal bath soap, if you can imagine it – very interesting. On the palate: fresh acidity highlighted with touch of lime on the finish. Can I say that it even tastes like flowers? Delicate but very pronounced and recommended. LCBO #012070 / $12.95 (D)

                                                                2009 Terres Blanches, Muscat Sec
                                                                From the south of France, this wine greets you with aromas of lemon and orange. There is also a floral note which is very typical of the Muscat grape. Sec implies a dry wine but this one is not overly-so. Serve this alongside lemon chicken to someone who will only drink Chardonnay and watch their expression. A perfectly balanced wine. LCBO #200048 / $13.95 (D)


                                                                2004 Croft LBV Porto
                                                                Late Bottle Vintage (LBV) is port which is ready to drink much earlier than the traditional vintage port style. LBV has been filtered and/or fined and therefore will not benefit from additional bottle age and at 6 years old, this one is quite rich and smooth offering up chewy dark fruit with a touch of pepper and some heat. The open air did seem to take the spicy edge off within an hour or so. LCBO #087601 / $17.95 (S)

                                                                One for the Cellar:

                                                                2008 Domaine Bernard Defaix, Côte de Lechet, Chablis, 1er Cru
                                                                Chablis is a satellite of the French appellation of Burgundy. The Chardonnay here has a pronounced minerality and freshness when compared to its buttery counterparts in the Côte de Beaune. This premier cru will benefit from 2 to 5 years in the cellar over which it will develop a fullness on the palate to balance out the crisp acidity right now. Aged Chablis is always worth the wait. LCBO #950667 / $31.95 (XD)


                                                                2 Replies
                                                                1. re: Northof9

                                                                  Northol9, you sound like you're really into wines. If you haven't already, you might want to sign onto the winespectator.com forum where LCBO releases are frequently discuss.

                                                                  1. re: syoung

                                                                    Thanks for the tip, I'll look the Wine Spectator forum up today... Cheers

                                                                2. From the February 5th 2011 LCBO Vintages Release

                                                                  With the focus on Tuscany in this weekend’s release, if your preference is for a traditional grape varietal such as Sangiovese or even the more international flare of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, there are many intriguing wines to choose from. But of course, in our quest for discovery, North of 9 Selections has turned up a few ‘other’ interesting tasting opportunities. Let me show you a few...


                                                                  2008 Pirramimma, Shiraz
                                                                  You’ll have to move quickly if you want to get your hands on a bottle of this full-bodied Aussie gem. Port-like qualities here: thick, rich, and concentrated. Black fruit on the nose and lots of cocoa as it flows across the palate. At $24, this is underpriced. Decant 1-2 hours before serving. LCBO #987784/ $23.95 (D)

                                                                  2007 Columbia Crest, H3 Merlot
                                                                  Plenty of spice and black fruit on the nose. Medium bodied with initially an earthy taste which is followed quickly by more of the dark fruit. Quite dry on the finish. A very nice merlot. LCBO #209874 / $19.95 (XD)


                                                                  2009 Kleine Zalze, Chardonnay
                                                                  This was really nice. Initially, some peach and apple on the nose followed by a touch of vanilla and almond indicating time spent in oak, but on the palate, the flavours integrate nicely. Lovely; perfectly balanced Chardonnay from South Africa. LCBO #096495 / $15.95 (D)

                                                                  2009 Ferraton Père & Fils, Samorëns Blanc
                                                                  From the Rhône valley in France, the style is not normally available at the LCBO. Samorëns Blanc is a blend of 60% Grenache Blanc, 40% Clairette. With several bottles open on the table as I tasted, the floral aromas from this particular bottle overpowered the others: Flowers and tropical fruit notes followed by a medium body and the taste of apples and pineapple wrapped up by a crisp acidity. Try this one purely out of curiosity. LCBO #073916 / $13.95 (D)


                                                                  Pierre Sparr, Rosè Brut, Crémant d’Alsace
                                                                  Champagne is from Champagne; bubbles from elsewhere, no matter how good, cannot be called Champagne – it’s the law. This Alsatian crémant however, is made with the same care and technique though for a fraction of the price. The term brut implies dry. Fine bubbles are an indication of care taken during production whereas oxygen infused rapidly by carbonation would produce larger bubbles similar to a soft-drink. The aroma of strawberries hits you immediately followed by cherries and a toasty roundness in the mouth. Nice, but don’t over chill this one; try it at 10ºC. LCBO #039016 / $18.95 (D)

                                                                  One for the Cellar:

                                                                  2007 Ciacci Piccolomini, D’Aragona, Ateo
                                                                  The Vintages release indicates DOC status for this wine but it is actually IGT which implies a deviation from traditional approved winemaking practices. This wine varies from what might be viewed as ‘religious’ in terms of wine production in Sant Antino,Italy. For this, Ciacci has named this wine Ateo which translates as ‘atheist’. This is the first year that Sangiovese has not been included in the blend leaving only Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot to create an international style that will appeal to many ‘big red’ enthusiasts. Expect a full-bodied wine dominated by dark fruit and spice. This will be lovely with a few years in the cellar; right now though, the tannic structure of the Cab. Sav. dominates. A great investment in taste at this price. Best after 2013. LCBO #211623 / $24.95 (D)


                                                                  1. One of my faves is found in Vintage: Kaiken Cabernet Sauvignon $14.95 (Argentina) YUMMY!
                                                                    My table wine: Misterio Cabernet Sauvignon $8.25 ! (Argentina)
                                                                    That is from my female perspective!

                                                                      1. Since it appears there are some very knowledgeable and experienced wine drinkers on this thread, might I ask for some advice ?

                                                                        I would like to purchase a truly grand red wine that is ready to drink now (if such a thing exists at the LCBO). No preference for a particular region, so anything is game. It is for a very special occasion next month so price isn't an issue. Any suggestions ?

                                                                        12 Replies
                                                                        1. re: PoppiYYZ

                                                                          Price not an issue?


                                                                          Going to be tougher to find older vintages though...this was just from a few minutes of searching.

                                                                          1. re: Sadistick

                                                                            Have you tried it ?

                                                                            Seriously though, I was thinking in the price range of a great dinner out, not a vacation of a lifetime...

                                                                            1. re: PoppiYYZ

                                                                              I have not had the 2009, but I have had other vintages from them and most have been excellent.

                                                                              The tasting note suggested that this, even though quite young, is a rather approachable wine, hence the suggestion.

                                                                              If your range is $200-$400, perhaps you should clarify your preference in grape/region as a good stepping stone.

                                                                              1. re: Sadistick

                                                                                No preference for grape or region. Will create a meal around the wine. Really like everything from Beaujolais nouveau (coming soon!) to Barolo.

                                                                                If it was a toss up, I'd lean towards a heavier full bodied wine.

                                                                                  1. re: PoppiYYZ

                                                                                    Something a little more modest?

                                                                                    LA RIOJA ALTA VIÑA ARDANZA RESERVA 2004
                                                                                    Spain | Javier Amescua
                                                                                    VINTAGES 315531 | 750 mL | $ 39.95

                                                                                    LA RIOJA ALTA VIÑA ARDANZA RESERVA 2004
                                                                                    2. VIÑA ARANA RESERVA 2005
                                                                                    Spain | La Rioja Alta
                                                                                    VINTAGES 368373 | 750 mL | $ 39.95

                                                                                    Both tasted, both superb, especially at the price.

                                                                                    Spend the rest of your money on a Tawny Port, some 20 year old Taylor...

                                                                                    1. re: Dean Tudor

                                                                                      I will keep an eye out for those, love a nice Rioja.

                                                                            2. re: PoppiYYZ

                                                                              LCBO online inventory says there's exactly 1 bottle of the 2005 Vieux Telegraph Chateuaneuf-du-Pape at $159 left in the system in a store in Mississauga. I'd hit that. There's also a bit of the 2010 at 96.75 but not in Toronto stores.

                                                                              1. re: PoppiYYZ

                                                                                That's not as easy as it sounds - LCBO is in the 'selling' business, not aging, and wants volumes of at least 5 cases (usually 10).
                                                                                I'd concentrate on 'New World' rather than 'Old' which tend to be more approachable younger, although they do tend to be dominated by fruit, lacking the spicier components that go superbly with food.

                                                                                There may indeed be a couple of stragglers somewhere in the system, but I'd recommend signing up for the on-line ordering - they'll ship to your local store


                                                                                Even there it's mostly 'stuff to age' but given your parameters, I'd look at:

                                                                                Clarendon Hills Liandra Syrah 2006
                                                                                Clarendon Hills Liandra Syrah 2006
                                                                                McLaren Vale, South Australia
                                                                                0702332 (XD) 14% Alc./Vol. 750 mL
                                                                                $89.00 per btl

                                                                                TASTING NOTE : Velvety and terrifically focused, this delivers a laser beam of blueberry, boysenberry and plum, with hints of allspice and pepper that mingle effortlessly as they come shooting across a bed of very fine-grained tannins. Lingers enticingly for a long, long finish. Drink now through 2020. Score - 97. (Harvey Steiman, winespectator.com, Oct. 15, 2008
                                                                                ) 0702332 South Australia 97 (WS) 750 $89.00

                                                                                [ I've had Clarendon product before (not this one), most of which need time,but the review suggests this one is 'ready']


                                                                                Andrew Will Champoux Vineyard 2010
                                                                                Andrew Will Champoux Vineyard 2010
                                                                                Horse Heaven Hills
                                                                                0390955 (XD) 13% Alc./Vol. 750 mL
                                                                                $76.00 per btl

                                                                                TASTING NOTE : Similarly colored, yet a step up in richness and depth, and certainly not aromatically challenged, the 2010 Champoux Vineyard is a superb blend of 42% Merlot, 32% Cabernet Franc and 26% Cabernet Sauvignon. Aged for 21 months in barrel, it possesses gorgeous aromas of black raspberry, creme de cassis, dried flowers, spice box and a dusty pebble minerality on the nose. Medium-bodied, elegant and beautifully balanced, with fresh acidity and moderate tannin, it has upside and should round into form with another 2-3 years of bottle age and have over a decade or more of total longevity. Drink 2015-2022. Score - 94. (Jeb Dunnuck, erobertparker.com, June 2013)
                                                                                0390955 Washington State 94 (RP) 750 $76.00

                                                                                [ I've had earlier vintages of this and was VERY impressed - haven't had this one, but with food (e.g. lamb - the racks of fresh Australian lamb at Loblaw's are as good as it gets) I think it would be suitable]

                                                                                1. re: PoppiYYZ

                                                                                  Vintages Classics has a few older vintages.

                                                                                  I looked over the list, and would choose Louis Jadot Corton Greves, a Grand Cru Burgundy from the heartier Cotes de Beaune area.
                                                                                  LOUIS JADOT CORTON GRÈVES GRAND CRU 2006, $92 in this list: http://www.vintages.com/classics/1403...

                                                                                  You could call Classics; they may have somethiong not listed.

                                                                                  1. re: PoppiYYZ

                                                                                    Wow, thanks very much everyone, all suggestions look great.

                                                                                    I'd really like to see / hear more of your favorites. To me, buying a really nice bottle wine and making a simple great ingredient meal is as good as it gets !

                                                                                    PS I once shared a bottle of Romanée Conti, excellent simple salad, and baguette on a picnic table late one afternoon. Four hours of pure heaven...

                                                                                    1. re: PoppiYYZ

                                                                                      My favorites, sadly; are not available at the LCBO...estufarian's Clarendon Hills suggestion was a good one as well.