October 2020 - February 2021 Vintages Releases + Bonus Wines

25 Feb 2021

Since there are no Vintages tastings at the LCBO head office these days, I must rely on what comes to the door for my tasting notes … These are the bottles I recommend that were released, from October 2020 through Febraury 2021, that are still available (as of publication) at LCBO stores ... plus there are a few hold overs from April 2020 and some look ahead wines for both March and April 2021. At the very bottom you will also see a short list of wines from Consignment lists and other wines I tried during the past few months.


APRIL 2021

Chateau Mont Redon 2017 Chateauneuf-du-Pape Redon
$53.95 - France - LCBO 959627
Smooth, supple and silky - the Redon does it again, bringing pure palate pleasure in a wine that delivers the goods: dark fruit, floral, spice and smoke ... It's bold, it's big and it's still very young; so lots of time ahead.  (****+)

Rombauer 2019 Carneros Chardonnay
$63.95 - California - LCBO 441089
This is one of those big Cali-style Chardonnays you've heard talk about ... buttery-apple and vanilla with peach and a rich texture that seems to toss acidity aside for spiciness. Not my style, but if you dig on big California Chardonnay this could be yours.  (*** ½)

MARCH 2021

Buena Vista 2017 The Sheriff Sonoma County
$49.95 - California - LCBO 539114 (coming in March)
Sip, swallow - sweet juicy fruit on the finish; but what's in between? Mocha, black cherry, plum and then still more black fruit with a touch of cigar box.  (****)

Troupis Winery 2019 Fteri Moschofilero
$14.95 - Greece - LCBO 647388 (coming in March)
Very Riesling-esque nose while on the palate there's a stoniness with some beeswax, lanolin and a subtle dose of lemony ... It'll all be an appeal come summertime.  (***+)


Alceo 2017 Tempranillo
$12.95 - Spain - LCBO 18768
Great value for this simple pleasure wine loaded with mocha, black cherry, blueberry and spice.  (*** ½)

Alvi's Drift 2019 Viognier
$13.95 - South Africa - LCBO 18687
Quiet aromas with notes of beeswax but with a rich palate of tropical fruit: apricot, tangerine skin, and pineapple plus melon rind and a grapefruit zest finish. (*** ½+)

Beauty in Chaos 2018 Chardonnay
$15.95 – Washington – LCBO 15840
This one definitely sits on the soft side of Chardonnay showing plenty of tropical and white fruit with a creamy texture across the mid palate ... Pineapple, and melon notes are joined by honeysuckle as well as a nice dose of acidity on the finish. A well-priced Washington Chardonnay made for those simple times when something smooth is warranted.  (*** ½)

Bernard-Massard Cuvee de L'Ecusson Brut
$20.95 - Luxembourg - LCBO 970970
A Chardonnay / Pinot Noir / Pinot Blanc blend made in the traditional method ... The acidity punches up the lemon, apple, green melon, floral and bosc pear notes while even offering up a little minerality ... It's fruit-driven and really grows on you through the course of an evening.  (*** ½+)

Borgo Salcetino 2017 Chianti Classico
$21.95 - Italy – LCBO 17399
The first thing you notice is the good acidity backing this wine up - once you get through that the sour cherry bitterness is the next thing to emerge ... By the time you've had a few sip it's the red fruit entry that helps complete the wine along with subtle oaky/smoky notes.  (*** ½+)

Chateau Capitoul Rocaille 2017 La Clape Capitoul
$19.95 - France - LCBO 18152
A nice smoky mid-palate with spice and oak, but let's dig a little deeper; lean into this wine and find lots of dark fruit, bittersweet cocoa, nice tannic grip plus spices that go on for days enveloping the blue and black fruit on the finish.  (****)

Chateau Changyu Moser 2017 XV Helan Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon
$24.95 – China – LCBO 12462
The Chinese appreciation for, and copycat nature of, the Bordeaux experience really shows through here. This unoaked Cabernet definitely feels like wood was involved as there is a leathery, smoky, black currant and herbal character that shows up right off the hop ... it sure seems richer and heavier than an unoaked should be ... There's also a note of tomato leaf here when first opened; but 12 hours later, it's much better. Buy and lie this one down at least 5 years.  (*** ½+)

Chateau des Gimarets 2015 Moulin a Vent
$18.95 - France - LCBO 442632
This cru Beaujolais has all the stuffing to make it last a few more years in the cellar: black cherry and blueberry notes lead the way with a subtle peppery - earthy character to back things up. Peppered-strawberries seal the deal on the finish.  (****)

Domaine de la Cendrillon 2018 Atypique Atypique
$16.95 - France - LCBO 18151
40% of this wine is Marselan (a Cabernet Sauvignon / Grenache crossing) - which does make it atypical in a way. Smoky-vanilla with both white and black pepper, plum, lovely fruit layering of spiced-plum, blackberry, and black cherry ... Adding notes of bittersweet cocoa, pepper plus some oaky backbone - this is one tasty little wine.  (****)

Domaine St. Andeol 2016 Cairanne Excellence
$25.95 - France - LCBO 464735
Leathery, spicy and earthy with good dark fruit character backing it up: black cherry, blackberry and even a touch of herbal ... The finish has just enough tannin bite back.  (*** ½+)

Durant & Booth 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley Durant & Booth
$34.95 – California – LCBO 16565
This red blend says Cabernet Sauvignon on the label, but there is also some Petit Verdot, Merlot and Petite Sirah in here as well ... It’s a layered wine that delivers plenty of juicy dark fruit, namely: blackberry, cassis, blueberry and black cherry ... There are also mocha-chocolate notes and silky tannins just before it leaves the mouth producing a long, lush finish - for a Napa Cab it over delivers for the price.  (****+)

Lapis Luna 2018 Zinfandel
$19.95 - California - LCBO 17264
A pretty non-descript Zinfandel that comes across almost sweet-ish with its rich plum and black cherry fruit.  (***+)

Le Pupille 2018 Morrelino Di Scansano Pupille
$18.95 – Italy – LCBO 455659
This red blend from Italy is dominated by Sangiovese, but also adds Alicante and Ciliegiolo for added depth of both flavor and color. A note of cherry, both the berry and the blossom on both the nose and palate dominate this fruit forward wine bringing with it some blackberry, floral and subtle smoky nuances on the finish. Gentle tannins and good acidity make it a drink now quaffer with tons of flavour; but feel free to also lie it down a few years.  (****)

Matane 2018 Primitivo
$15.95 – Italy – LCBO 434290
This Italian Zinfandel (aka: Primitivo) from its expected place of origin: Puglia. The wine has a nice balance of red and black plum, plus hints of licorice ... The alcohol is a very respectable 13.5% (so there is no heat here), but there are some dusty tannins and the wild blueberries on the finish make it more silky than sandy. Tasty indeed.  (****)

McPherson 2017 MWC Shiraz Mourvedre MWC
$17.95 – Australia – LCBO 16032
An unexpectedly soft supple wine from the place that usually brings ballsy Shiraz to the table. It's the raspberry-mocha on the palate that will get your attention, as the nose is as quiet as a church mouse. The mid-palate is juicy yet savory with plenty of red fruit and a wonderful acidity that keeps everything in-check and in-balance. I could drink this all night long - and you will want to do the same.  (****+)

Montes 2018 Pinot Noir, Limited Selection
$15.95 - Chile - LCBO 37937
Light in color, as Pinot should be, but with red cherry, mocha, earthy and white smoke all with subtle spices backing it up ... Bright, fresh and easy drinking.  (*** ½)

Pongracz Cap Classique Rosé
$18.95 – South Africa – LCBO 646968
A South African traditional method bubble made from the classic vinifera grapes: Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. An intense aroma of cherry and raspberry grip the nose adding in floral and lime, which also follows onto the palate ... The finish is dry and offers up black cherry and earthy characteristics. Pleasant entry - lovely mid-palate and a finish that has you craving more.  (*** ½+)

Rodney Strong 2015 Knotty Vines Zinfandel Rodney Strong
$24.95 – California – LCBO 363358
A bruising 15% alcohol proudly displayed on the label, and yet once you get this on the palate you would never suspect its high-octane alcohol content ... Vanilla, plum, and cherry greet the taste buds - it's juicy yet has a spicy kick to the finish ... There’s a hint of fruit sweetness on the long finish and that helps to make this a dangerously delicious wine.  (****)

Sacred Hill 2018 Sauvignon Blanc Reserve
$21.95 - New Zealand - LCBO 490326
Let's start at the end with the grapefruit pith finish, but what's in the middle is also worth a mention - crisp cucumber, subtle apple, peach and citrus with a bunch of acidity on the back palate ... Really yummy version of Savvy B.  (*** ½+)

Simi 2017 Cabernet Sauvignon Sonoma County
$26.95 - California - LCBO 25221
Right now the fruit in this wine lays relatively dormant while the spice, tobacco and tannins steal the show ... The dark fruit is there it just needs time to fight its way to the front maybe it should happen within the next 5 years or so and when it does this wine will pop.  (*** ½)

Sea Sun 2019 Pinot Noir
$24.95 - California - LCBO 16027
From the folks behind Caymus comes this black version of Pinot Noir. Juicy with lots of blackberry, black cherry and black pepper along with notes of mocha, cola and vanilla - this is a Pinot for the Meiomi-crowd, just wearing a different set of clothes. It's tasty, rich and almost sweet at times – it’s hard to recognize this as Pinot.  (*** ½)

Tenuta Sette Ponti 2017 Crognolo Crognolo
$34.95 - Italy - LCBO 727636
This Sangiovese / Merlot (?) bowled me over with the amount of fruit and spice it had along with the great balance and restraint it showed: red and black fruit with a juicy mid palate along with plenty of spice and smoke on the finish; as it opens there are other layers that come into play like tobacco, vanilla and leather which also come through ... by the time the bottle was empty blueberry, cassis, blackberry and plum had also made an appearance. This one needs a lie down of about 3 to 5 years, but you would not be committing infanticide if you opened it up now and put it into a big glass. (****+)

Testament Winery 2016 The Dalmatian Dog Babic
$17.95 - Croatia - LCBO 18810
The indigenous Babic grape from Croatia creates quite an interesting dark colored wine layered with plum, black cherry and a nice hit of spice. The finish has an attractive plum and cherry note.  (*** ½+)

Vale da Mata 2017 Red Wine Vale da mata
$19.95 - Portugal - LCBO 18296
From the Lisboa region of Portugal comes this juicy, full-fruited, mainly black fruited bit of silky pleasure ... Aromas of black cherry, plum, floral and even some dark chocolate is followed by spiced-plum, pepper and lush dark fruit - a blend of two indigenous varieties and Syrah. This one's pure drinking pleasure for both sipping and pairing … to find it follow the LCBO number as the brand has misspelled the name.  (****+)

Vina Tarapaca 2018 Gran Reserva Merlot
$17.95 – Chile – LCBO 17132
This is a Merlot with a good future ahead of it ... The nose kicks off with blueberry, mocha and menthol while the palate plays possum with subtle smoky notes and rambunctious cassis fruit flavor – all hiding behind a richness of acidity and tannins. My suggestion would be to age 3 to 5 years before cracking another bottle – as with enough air this wine became smooth and silky and just a treat for the senses.  (****+)

Wakefield 2019 Chardonnay
$16.95 – Australia – LCBO 711556
Australia is learning ways to reconquer Chardonnay after years of over-oaking. This Wakefield shows a real delicacy of tropical fruit both on the nose and palate, displaying pineapple along with grapefruit, apple and melon rind ... There's some nice citrus zest on the finish that helps balance off that punchy sweet fruit character.  (*** ½+)

William Fevre 2018 Champs Royaux Chablis Fevre
$29.95 - France - LCBO 461640
This Chardonnay from Chablis comes across crisp, almost crunchy at times, with good acid backbone: apple, lemon and mineral notes are primary, while melon rind adds an extra layer of tartness.  (****)

Wolfberger Brut Cremant D'Alsace
$19.95 - France - LCBO 460832
A fun bottle of bubbles from Alsace using traditional grapes from the area (no more specifics than that are given) ... Ginger ale notes kick things off an then in sweeps green apple and cinnamon pastry; good acidity adds all that pleasant length to the finish.  (*** ½+)

Xige Estate 2017 Jade Dove Red Xige
$29.95 - China - LCBO 18413
Best bottle of Chinese wine I have had to date ... This Cabernet Sauvignon / Merlot blend is layered and lovely with notes of blackberry, cassis, mocha, coffee, black cherry, rich tannins, smoky, peppery, herbal ... and spares nothing for its great lingering finish, I really could go on all day about this wine because this wine did go on all day. Surprising and yet not so much, considering the source country. 5-to-10-year window for aging in the cellar. Simply put this is a wow-wine.  (**** ½)

Zonte's Footstep 2017 Canto
$18.95 – Australia – LCBO 289967
A blend of Italian grape varieties: Sangiovese and Lagrein, grown in the Fleurieu region of South Australia – what it delivers is a far cry from what you expect, but still a delicious wine. Strawberry and balsamic notes from the Sangiovese, while the Lagrein adds those cherry, earthy notes all balanced with a tartness before opening up to add floral, spiced-plum, Christmas cake and even a jammy nuance ... It's a fun little frolic of a wine from grapes grown outside their native land and yet make an unusual, yet playful, wine to fool your friends.  (*** ½)


Bodegas Atalaya 2018 Laya
$17.95 – Spain – LCBO 132605
A blend of Garnacha Tintorera and Monastrell grapes, very typical for a Spanish red. This wine delivers more than the sum of its parts, it's very typically powerful yet with delicious results: plum, blackberry, black cherry and vanilla on both the nose and palate produce a silky smooth mid-palate, still shows tannin playfulness in the background ... The finish is layered with tobacco, plum, cherry and spice.  (****)

Buena Vista 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon
$19.95 - California - LCBO 254458
A juicy black fruit core that is backed by chocolate ... Lots of flavour in this soft, supple and easy drinking red.  (*** ½+)

Montes Alpha 2017 Cabernet Sauvignon Special Cuvee Montes Alpha
$24.95 – Chile – LCBO 649160
The nose screams Chilean Cab with its bold minty notes followed by dark fruit that seems to mellow out in the background. The palate piles that mint on with delicate spice, blackberry, blueberry and mocha - there's a savory character with a silky mouth feel and a long sweet mocha-black cherry finish - this one is quintessentially Chilean Cab from mint to fruit to yum!  (****)

Ramirez de la Piscina 2015 Crianza
$17.95 - Spain - LCBO 383018
There's a nice weight on the palate brought about from just six months in oak. Dark cherry, plum with hints of oak on the mid-palate ... There's vanilla and blackberry, but the short finish leaves you wanting something more.  (*** ½+)

San Pedro 2018 Pinot Noir, Tayu 1865 Tayu
$19.95 – Chile – LCBO 16628
Great backstory of how this wine comes into existence as Vina San Pedro paired up with the Buchahueico community to plant vines, create jobs and make this exciting Pinot. Fresh earthy character kicks things off layering in cranberry, red currant and herbal character ... The palate is where this wine really shines fully: earthy, cherry, cranberry, smoky, savory and herbal elements all play a part ... As it opens more nuances come into play: red currants, good acidity and a real zestiness along with a smooth finish.  (****)

Torre Zambra 2017 Madia, Montepulciano D'Abruzzo
$13.95 - Italy - LCBO 17403
A lovely floral, blackberry and cassis laden wine backed by smoky and herbal nuances - it's enticing and enjoyable all the way through to its spicy finish. The drawback here is the plastic cork, so buy only what you'll drink in the next year as this one will not last in the cellar.  (*** ½+)


Seghesio 2018 Zinfandel, Sonoma County Seghesio ZIn
$29.95 – California – LCBO 942151
Zinfandel fans should know the name Seghesio as they have quite a number in their portfolio and each one is a star in its own right. This Sonoma County version is not one to hit you over the head, it sneaks up on you and wins you over with flavour - definitely more delicate and a downright pleasure to drink: plum, blueberry, blackberry, cherry - all their representing the fruit - layering in vanilla, cola, subtle oak, mocha and a lovely finish that ties it all together without overwhelming with tannins.  (****+)

Wakefield 2017 Shiraz, Jaraman
$24.95 - Australia - LCBO 377036
Juicy and jammy Shiraz that piles on the raspberry, blackberry jam like qualities of sweet fruit ... Dig deeper and there's some chocolate, black cherry and even some hints of white pepper ... This is pretty much what you'd expect it to be.  (*** ½+)


Barry Bros 2017 Shiraz, Clare Valley
$19.95 – Australia – LCBO 16036
Those looking for over the top Aussie Shiraz, look away ... This one delivers the goods without delivering the jam. Lots of dark fruit, mocha and even bittersweet chocolate ... Then comes in black cherry and white pepper all balance with a nice hit of acidity ... In fact, well-balanced would be a good term to use here.  (****)

Bleasdale 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon, Mulberry Tree Bleasdale
$19.95 - Australia - LCBO 661892
Is Australia only able to make over-the-top Reds? Not if you taste this Mulberry Tree Cabernet; gentle cassis, blackberry & tea leaf notes – it opens nicely doling out good acidity for balance of that fruit plus a little eucalyptus note ... This one comes across along the lines of a well-balanced northern or high-altitude Chilean or Argentinian Pinot then an Aussie Cab – but that's something I like.  (****)

Boya 2019 Sauvignon Blanc
$14.95 - Chile – LCBO 389726
A grassy and great food friendly affair with good acidity that proves itself to be non-aggressive - a nice little patio sipper.  (*** ½)

El Petit Bonhomme 2018
$16.95 - Spain - LCBO 16578
Simple but satisfying with cherry, white pepper, mocha and even some mulberry notes.  (***+)

Lungarotti 2016 Il Bio Umbria IGT Rosso
$23.95 - Italy - LCBO 16573
According to the note I took at the winery this wine is 100% Sagrantino aged 10 months in oak and six months in bottle ... Nice sweet red and black fruit with notes of cocoa / mocha and a black cherry finish. Easy drinkability and quite pleasant ... Drink up now which is not something you usually say when it comes to young Sagrantino.  (*** ½+)

Palacio Quemado 2018 PQ Vendima Selecciando
$13.95 - Portugal - LCBO 16588
Juicy and easy drinking with lots of fruit up-front and on the back-end: cherry and raspberry lean a little on the "sweet" side with hints of floral.  (*** ½+)

Paradiso Darione 2018 Podere Belmontello Primitivo
$18.95 - Italy - LCBO 10816
Gentle black cherry, blackberry and leather notes ... the tannins here have a tendency to bite back giving it a bit more longevity than one would expect from an Italian Zinfandel.  (*** ½+)

Pencarrow 2018 Chardonnay, Marlborough Pencarrow
$21.95 – New Zealand – LCBO 14552
A real doozy of a Chardonnay that had me sipping and finding new elements that pleased both the nose and palate. Fresh melon, apple and subtle mineral kick things off and as things open there’s floral that shows up on the nose. Delicate acidity, nice length and a real drinkability factor here makes this a delightful Chardonnay.  (****+)

Peter Lehmann 2018 Shiraz, Portrait
$21.95 - Australia – LCBO 522235
Something easy drinking with notes of vanilla and cocoa plus blackberry, cassis and black cherry fruit ... The typical Shiraz pepperiness it shows up but it's mostly juicy and lush on the palate.  (*** ½)

Ruela 2019 Reserva
$11.95 - Portugal – LCBO 17519
Plum and floral notes lead things off while spiced-blackberry and licorice close the deal – there's a nice tannin backbone, which carries that fruit and gives the wine added weight.  (*** ½)


Chateau de Nages 2017 Vieilles Vignes Costieres de Nimes
$19.95 - France - LCBO 40964
While there is plenty of red fruit here, mainly raspberry and cherry, there are also subtle notes of clove and even a herbaceous note that drops in a little bell pepper into the mix.  (*** ½)

Chateau Larose Perganson 2010 Haut Medoc
$38.95 - France – LCBO 14457
A well-aged Cru Bourgeois from the Medoc region of Bordeaux that launches with spice, pepper, mocha and coffee bean and even some raisinate notes. Needs a little time in glass to open but this wine is ready to go. For those who can't age their own with patience, there's this La Rose wine.  (*** ½+)

Kim Crawford 2018 Sauvignon Blanc Signature Reserve
$24.95 - New Zealand - LCBO 924555
Nice lemon drop sweetness mid-palate with some peachy notes - the acidity seems to be lacking leading to a long smooth finish. Tastes like Sauvignon Blanc, but drinks more like an oaked Chardonnay.  (***+)

APRIL 2020

Catena 2018 Malbec, High Mountain Vines
$19.95 - Argentina – LCBO 478727
Mocha, black cherry, cassis and even a hint of floral ... I expect more from Catena - this is good, but I wanted more.  (*** ½)

Gerard Bertrand 2017 Languedoc
$16.95 - France - LCBO 413237
A real delight Syrah-Grenache blend from the Languedoc with notes of dark fruit: black cherry, blackberry, raspberry and even some chocolate, with red peppercorns and mocha adding to the finish ... Tasty, and even, dare I say, chuggable.  (****)

La Crema 2018 Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast
$34.95 - California – LCBO 719435
Juicy raspberry, cherry and even a misplaced note of chocolate (not often found in Pinot Noir) - it seems to be a little over the top with fruit, but it's most certainly a fruit bomb of a wine. Not for true Pinot-philes ... This one's for those who sit on the other side of the Pinot fence where fruit dominates earthy character.  (***+)

Monasterio de las Vinas 2013 Gran Reserva Monasterio
$18.95 - Spain – LCBO 82024
A Carinena region wine that comes off more like a Rioja ... Earthy, dried plum with subtle woodsy and mocha notes - there's a nice complexity here with even a note of vanilla linger ... this is one of those wines for those that don't have the patience to age something themselves.  (****+)

Rocca delle Macie 2017 Chianti Riserva
$15.95 - Italy – LCBO 111641
A well-rounded, easy-drinking Chianti with nice cherry, mocha and toasty notes with subtle earthiness, blackberry and black currants on the finish – the oak also melds in well here.  (****)

Wits End 2019 Luna Shiraz Wits end
$17.95 - Australia - LCBO 311258
This multi-layered Shiraz has everything you're looking for from the grape from this part of the world; notes of smoked meat, cherry, blackberry and white pepper - and there are even some hints of violet that creep in to "pretty up the place" before coffee bean & cocoa slip in for the big finish.  (****)



Champagne Chapuy Blanc de Blanc a Grand Cru - Brut Reserve Chapuy
France - Not Available in Ontario (yet)
Lovely aromas of French bread crust (naturally) with delicate apple and lemon drop - there is a creamy mouthfeel with lemon zest, crisp green apple, a hint of Marcona almond and a super fresh white bread middle. Very yummy and a true to light for all your senses.  (****)

Champagne Chapuy 2013 Blanc de Blanc
France - Not Available in Ontario (yet)
Lovely aromas of floral, almonds and biscuits; but that is just the tip of the iceberg, palate is even more complex: crusty and toasted bread flavours kick things off with good acidity and a long finish … as things progress notes of homemade apple sauce and even some cinnamon appear. Yum.  (****)

Goretti 2018 Il Maggio
$29.95 - Italy - Consignment: Winehouse Imports
This 100% Grechetto wine sees some time in oak and you get a hint of its influence on the palate: there's a lemony note on the nose with moments of toast, stone fruit, honey tangerine and even floral nuances. The acidity keeps everything well in-check.  (*** ½+)

Goretti 2017 Le Mura Saracene Montefalco Rosso Goretti Le Mura
$26.95 – Italy – Consignment: Winehouse Imports
Aromas of plum, blackberry and vanilla; the palate follows and adds touches of mocha and spiced-black cherry ... there's a hint of oak on the finish but it settles into the wine adding on extra layer and smooths out with air. Those tannins are non-aggressive, it’s a dark, dense and delicious wine – tasty and worth a multiple purchase as it’ll age well 5-7 years in the cellar.  (****)

Las Morandes 2017 Garnacha, Senda
Spain – Not Available in Ontario (yet)
Very cherry with notes of smoky rhubarb, vanilla, strawberry and floral … this wine is highly drinkable.  (*** ½+)

St. Stephen 2016 Malbec Reserve (AM)
Chile – Not Available in Ontario (yet)
Silky smooth with blueberry, black cherry and mocha … there’s even a little cedary-smoky note to the finish.  (***+)

St. Stephan 2017 Oda al Vino
Chile – Not Available in Ontario (yet)
Hint of juicy cherry kick things off adding in white pepper, mocha, blackberry and even a little brambly note … There’s a bit of a distracting bite back from the tannins derived from both skins and wood.  (*** ½)


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