October 2021 - February 2021 Vintages Releases + Bonus Wines (2)

19 Aug 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 2021 all the way back to one bottle that was released in Febraury 2021 (how did I miss that one?) ... plus there are some General List offerings and some that may one day grace the shelves at the LCBO - or find there way into the province through other means.



ZonteZonte's Footstep 2018 Chocolate Factory Shiraz
$19.95 - Australia - LCBO 39641
There is no wonder this is called “the chocolate factory” - but let's start here: lots of black raspberry, black cherry and vanilla Coke with subtle earthy - smoky notes backing it up, plus there’s some red peppercorns ... And yes, there is a lovely note of chocolate here.  (****)


Jim Barry 2018 Single Vineyard Cabernet / Malbec - The Farm
$29.95 - Australia - LCBO 20881 - September
Subtle smoky notes with mocha, blackberry and cassis, but that smoky character just keeps coming and coming with every sip. (*** ½+)


96 Points 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon
$23.95 - California - LCBO 19316
The label’s claim a point value it's not really worth, but it certainly is tasty: chocolate, black cherry, cinnamon and vanilla - it's got that good California fruit core that makes it juicy, but also layers in a mocha latte finish. (****)

AlvearAlvear Solara NV 1927 Pedro Ximinez
$28.95 - Spain - LCBO 463034
My favorite kind of sherries are those made with the Pedro Ximinez grape in this style, so I'm a little biased here. I love that caramel pecan pie note, those sweet sugary dates but backed with an acid punch that makes that creaminess ever more exciting on the palate leading to a long finish. What a true delight of the senses.  (**** ½)

Berger Rive 2018 Manoir de Mercey Hautes Cotes de Beaune au Paradis
$25.95 - France - LCBO 20913
100% Pinot Noir with a very long name - they could just shorten it to “really good" ... Nice shot of Christmas spices greet the nose along with that telltale pinot aroma, earthiness. There's some lovely black cherry and white pepper along with strawberry, raspberry and cranberry mid-palate to the finish.  (****)

Bonny Doon 2018 Le Cigare Volant
$24.95 - California - LCBO 857157
Been a while since the flying cigar has come to town, so a big thanks to Family Wine Merchants for making that happen. This Rhone Valley inspired blend rolls out floral, smoked-cherry plus black fruit (which turns red mid-palate) in a smooth and silky parcel with good acidity and tannins - the only thing really missing here are some tobacco notes.  (****+)

Drappier NV Brut Nature - Pinot Noir Zero Dosage Drappier
$65.95 - France - LCBO 179275
The moment this Champagne hit the glass there were aromas of yeast and apple cider ... Didn't even need to put it to my nose. The palate was all about cran-apples, lemon and bread crust. Quite impressive and impressively dry. (****)

Gerard Bertrand 2018 Heresie Corbieres
$19.95 - France - LCBO 20582
Pretty cool label enrobes this bottle of Corbieres Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre - and the wine inside is pretty good too: mocha and smoke lead things off with a plethora of dark fruit including blueberry, blackberry and spiced-plum - there's also some nice tannin grip giving the wine a bit of a chalky mouthfeel and some longevity for the cellar. The finish is sweetish-vanilla, plum and cherry all backed by acidity that's on point.  (****+)

Zonte's Footstep 2018 Baron von Nemesis, Limited Release Shiraz
$24.95 - Australia - LCBO 212936
Super juicy black fruit, namely cassis and blackberry with some vanilla notes - loads of licorice and blackberry flavor with a touch of floral and white pepper - especially on the finish... This screams Australia and don't let me forget about the cherry plum finish that raises the bar in this wine.  (****+)

JULY 2021

Chateau Peyros 2016 Vieilles Vignes Madiran
$23.95 - France - LCBO 234997
A blend of 60% Tannat and 40% Cabernet Franc that needs another 3 to 5 years in bottle to become "a delight” - cause now it's just delicious: blackberry and spice plum, black cherry, mocha and smoke with some grippy tannins that slowdown that fruit on the finish - with time the fruit will take over fully as those tannins settle down.  (****+)

FerratonFerraton 2019 Cote Du Rhone Villages, Plan de Dieu
$19.95 - France - LCBO 74229
Plan du Dieu mean ‘Plan of God’ and it sits right next to Chateauneuf-du-Pape, but it’s about half the price of that more famous region, but it delivers all the action you want in Rhone Valley red: lovely raspberry, floral, and smoke with a shade of vanilla - there is some tannin grit on the tongue plus a mocha-cassis finish.  (****+)

Fonseca 2018 Vintage Port Guimaraens
$87.95 - Portugal - LCBO 21297
All the trappings of a delicious port to come: black cherry, plum, spice – but needs that time in bottle to meld all those flavors together develop second and tertiary notes and mellow out those tannins that grip at the back of the tongue - but a lovely acid kick on the finish really puts this into the realm of leave-it-alone-for-20-years.  (****+)

Gerard Bertrand 2020 Chardonnay, Cote des Roses
$18.95 - France - LCBO 10621
Thought this bottle was just for the rosé, but they have now branched it out into the Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. The Chardonnay leans tropical along with apple, pear, hints of melon and even adds some minerality to the party.  (*** ½+)

Gerard Bertrand 2019 Pinot Noir, Cote Des Roses
$19.95 - France - LCBO 20751
Yep, there's Pinot Noir character here (from the Longuedoc) with dry cranberry, white pepper, good acidity and spice; there's even some delicate cherry and nice tannins - but the gimmicky bottle doesn't work with this wine (with the Rosé for sure, but this is serious Pinot Noir).  (*** ½+)

Lapis Luna 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon
$19.95 - California - LCBO 17809
Sweetish black fruit and licorice (anise) that adds in dark chocolate and sweet vanilla notes the more you sip. (*** ½)

Moillard 2018 Coquillage Chablis Moillard
$24.95 - France - LCBO 10380 (online exclusive)
There's a mineral-saltiness to this Chardonnay that combines nicely with delicate Apple notes like Mac and Granny Smith backing it up for tartness - add in those white flowers and the stony finish and you have a pretty Chardonnay built for sipping on a hot day.  (****)

Zonte's Footstep 2017 Lake Doctor Shiraz
$19.95 - Australia - LCBO 72975
A more delicate version of Shiraz, especially from Australia - more violet and white pepper-centric with the backing of mocha and strawberry.  (*** ½+)

JUNE 2021

Fess Parker 2017 Marcellus White
$21.95 - California - LCBO 17580
A blend of Viognier (47%) and Grenache Blanc (38%) with dashes of both and Roussanne and Marsanne (12 and 3% respectively) - peach, pineapple and spice backed by nice acidity; there's also subtle apple and good weight on the palate - it has its place for sipping, but it's also a good food wine.  (*** ½+)

Laura Hartwig 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon, Single Vineyard
$16.95 - Chile - LCBO 13428
Very Chilean in its makeup with that minty-ness coming right through along with notes of red berries, red cherries and black raspberries, plus hints of mocha and silky tannins. Easily ageable three to five years. (****)

Luigi BoscaLuigi Bosca 2018 Malbec, Single Vineyard
$29.95 - Argentina - LCBO 74922
Lovely bottle of Malbec that really hits all the right notes, for me: red cherry and coffee bean jump start this one - then it leans into licorice nibs, blackberry and black cherry ... My notes have this quote: "wow, this has some really nice pop and punch" - but that smooth finish helps it become a real winner. (****+)

William Fèvre 2019 Little Quino Sauvignon Blanc
$15.95 – Chile - LCBO 17609
Overly grassy nose with grapefruit on the palate and even some cat’s pee notes... It's pure copycat New Zealand that seems to miss the very essence of what New Zealand is striving for. This is a throwback that some will still enjoy.  (***+)

Zonte's Footstep 2019 Shades of Gray, Pinot Grigio
$17.95 - Australia - LCBO 17645
Should have been named " Shades of Grigio” because the only thing not Gris about this is the potent acidity - otherwise we have all the makings of Gris here: Lemon, floral, apple, pear with a touch of mineral.  (*** ½)

MAY 2021

Finca la Escueda 2017 La Grava Malbec
$24.95 - Argentina - LCBO 547851
Mocha, black cherry and cassis aromas which follow onto the palate and add rich chocolate, balsamic, and spice while the finish seems to bring it all together with spiced-raspberry, currents, herbal and smoke. (*** ½+)

George Vigouroux 2018 Pigmentum Malbec (Cahors)
$15.95 - France – LCBO 18370
Lots of peppery spice and gritty tannins linger in the background with cassis as the main fruit and some blackberry kicking around the edges. (***+)

Ivory & Birch 2019 Chardonnay
$19.95 - California - LCBO 17575
This is pretty typical for the California Chardonnay crowd - starts off with peach and vanilla cream, adds in a little cinnamon undertones and whacks you with a sweet fruited mid-palate ... It's quite pleasant though and should please those California Chardonnay lovers.  (*** ½)

Prisoner Wine Co. 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon Unshackled Unshackled
$29.95 – California – LCBO 17812
Sweet red fruit with a good acidity... Typically big alcohol for California (14.5%) but with a juicy dark fruit, and chocolate and subtle spice ... Sure it has that California fruit, it's a seductive wine with all that sweet fruit, but there's also a milk chocolate note that really sways your taste buds and the core is all dark fruit. (****+)

Sacred Hill 2019 Chardonnay, Hawkes Bay
$18.95 - New Zealand - LCBO 17563
Hawks Bay is known for making great Syrah, so Chardonnay seems like an odd choice to grow and make - but the taste says different: Mac Apple and Meyer lemon lead the way leading to a slightly bitter finish and nice punch of acidity ... Mid-palate is what makes this one such a pleasure.  (*** ½+)

Wakefield 2019 Clare Valley Riesling
$16.95 - Australia - LCBO 301523
Hints of petrol greet the nose with mineral, green apple and citrus zest... Comes across quite dry.  (*** ½)

APRIL 2021

Cune 2017 Crianza Rioja
$16.95 - Spain – LCBO 39925
Plenty of cherry with hints of earthy - the fruit comes across as red and light with notes of cedar - it's an easy drinking red that's built for bucket pours, not glassfuls, it hits all those beautiful Spanish notes with a fruit punch that will make you say “ole”.  (****)

Bertarnd 806Gerard Bertrand 2018 Corbieres, AN 806 Grenache / Syrah / Mourvedre
$17.95 - France – LCBO 394288
A Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre blend that doles out some lovely spiced-red fruit plus plum, mocha, red licorice, blackberry, cassis and a touch of cedar ... The finish has herbal notes of tarragon and mustard greens to balance out all those big fruit characteristics.  (****)

La Crema 2018 Chardonnay, Sonoma Coast
$16.95 - California – LCBO 728352
Buttery creaminess with delicate spice there's a nice mid-palate that leans vanilla (even creme brulée-ish) with a finish that borders on butterscotch. There's a candy note yet has good acid/spice combo to keep it all above board good in that big Cali-way.  (*** ½+)

Laura Hartwig 2018 Carmenere Single Vineyard
$15.95 - Chile – LCBO 213512
Big hit of cigar box and smoke with blackberry and tobacco on the palate finishing with spicy-pepper, cedar and tobacco ... If you have not noticed yet, this is a very tobacco driven bottle of Carmenere.  (*** ½)

Parker Station 2017 Cabernet Sauvignon Paso Robles
$24.95 - California – LCBO 17684
Sweet cherry vanilla with a little red licorice, caramel and cigar box ... This will drag you in and keep you sipping.  (***+)

Pitars 2018 Friulano San Cristoforo
$16.95 - Italy – LCBO 17700
This is quite the refreshing sip for summer with notes of floral, lemon drop and other citrusy intentions, all surrounded by acidity that makes the mouth pucker and water, ready for the next sip.  (*** ½)

MARCH 2021

Wakefield 2017 Cabernet Sauvignon, Jaraman Wakefield Jaraman
$24.95 – Australia - LCBO 142398
This usual delight from Wakefield is both generous of fruit and so much more. Big bright red and black fruit with smoke, vanilla, mocha, cherry and spice - there's also layers of mint and cinnamon, chocolate and rich dark fruit on the finish. It's silky smooth and delicious.  (****)


Santi 2018 Sortesele Pinot Grigio
$17.95 - Italy - LCBO 17366 - February
Nice lemon and green apple with a decent amount of acidity... Nice patio wine for a hot day.  (*** ½+)



Aveleda 2020 Fonte Vinho Verde
$11.95 - Portugal – LCBO 5322
Green apple and melon with lime and subtle acidity - but there is also a delicate sweetness of fruit on the finish. (*** ½)

Bread and Butter 2019 Chardonnay
$18.95 – California – LCBO 19261
A real Napa oak bomb Chardonnay with lots of butter (for your bread) with caramel, vanilla and butterscotch - sweet fruit that showcases caramel apple and peach cobbler - plus nice spice and a punchy finish - Will please those die-hard Napa Chardonnay fans.  (*** ½+)

Calmel & Joseph 2020 Villa Blanche Chardonnay
$15.30 - France – LCBO 375071
There's a richness here that's expected from the south of France, but also still a vibrant acidity. The rich taste of ripe peach, pear and apricot are met by vanilla and butterscotch on the finish.  (*** ½+)

Casel Garcia NV Vinho Verde DO
$9.95 – Portugal – LCBO 530261
Could not find a date on the bottle of this Portuguese staple of summer: lemon lime and peach with some pineapple notes on the finish - refreshing and quite tasty for summer sipping. (*** ½+)

Cusumano 2019 Merlot
$12.95 - Italy - LCBO 19779
More coffee and mocha than one would expect from Merlot, but there's also some burnt black cherry and big spice. It's hot climate Merlot that gives a big tannin bite.  (*** ½)

Fantini 2019 Casale Vecchio Lot 23 Montepulciano D'Abruzzo
$9.95 - Italy – LCBO 612788
Dark berries meet smoke and pepper, as it opens those berries kick into with a "sweet” juicy fruit note. Tasty, but not very complex.  (***)

Lion and the Lilly 2018 Merlot & Cabernet Sauvignon
$17.95 - France – LCBO 18329
An unexpectedly modern label and modern take on Bordeaux wine: earthy, mocha, herbal and black fruit plus a touch of cedar ... Unexpectedly Bordeaux with a modern twist.  (*** ½)

Lisbon By NightLisbon by Night 2018 Red Blend Lisboa
$9.80 - Portugal - LCBO 18998
Lovely label for a lovely wine with plenty of notes to get any red wine fan excited: cocoa and mocha followed by black cherry and plum ... Tannins are soft and supple; the wine has a beautiful drink-ability to it; which I find common with these Lisboa offerings.  (****)

M Chapoutier 2019 Belleruche Cote Du Rhone Blanc
$16.80 - France – LCBO 245340
Apple and apricot to start this one off, but then there's a turn towards notes of citrus, both pith and zest with a pleasing note of minerality to the finish.  (*** ½)

M Chapoutier 2019 Belleruche Cote Du Rhone Rouge Belleruche Rouge
$16.70 - France – LCBO 17779
Nice dark fruit and floral notes hit the nose ... Repeat on the palate while adding in white pepper, mocha, black cherry, blackberry and a layered finish that shows nice depth and age-ability.  (**** ½)

Mare di Sirena 2020 Pinot Grigio
$8.90 – Italy – LCBO 20054
Citrusy (mainly lemony) with notes of pith and a decent hit of acidity.  (***+)

Wakefield 2019 Cabernet Sauvignon Promised Land
$14.60 - Australia – LCBO 358838
Another juicy offering from Wakefield this one delivers on chocolate, plum, and salty black fruit.  (*** ½)

Wakefield 2019 Shiraz Promised Land
$14.60 - Australia – LCBO 441543
Juicy with notes of blackberry, black cherry and plum ... There's a subtle salty note bracket confusing clothes bracket by but ends with a white pepper finish.  (*** ½)


Abellio 2019 Albarino
$ NA - Spain - no date for release in Ontario yet
Grapefruit zest and beeswax greet the nose while the palate doles out some nice acidity - rather one note, but pleasant enough.  (***+)

Gerard Bertrand 2019 Cote des Roses White
$ NA - France - no date for release in Ontario yet
A Grenache (Blanc) Vermintino and Viognier blend that shows notes of citrus pith, bitter apple skin and melon rind - good acid punch on the finish raises this one a bit.  (***+)

La Cana 2020 Albarino (Jorge Ordonez)
$ NA - Spain - no date for release in Ontario yet
A plastic cork is pulled out, which shows the need to drink now and not sit on these beautiful fresh wines: peach, citrus, grassy (a la Sauvignon Blanc) with hints of pineapple and a honeydew finish. Really pretty and perfect for summer. (*** ½+)

Paco and Lola 2018 Prime Albarino Lias Limited Edition
$ NA - Spain - no date for release in Ontario yet
Oak aged Albarino which adds an extra layer to this delicate wine. Lemon, grapefruit, beeswax, lanolin plus s real zesty liveliness and white peach notes on the short finish.  (*** ½)

Stoneleigh 2019 Sauvignon Blanc Wild Valley, Wild Fermented
$ NA - New Zealand - no date for release in Ontario yet
A slightly smoky nuance on the nose with floral and grapefruit pith ... There's also a sweaty, grassy and wild flower note on the palate with a short finish. For those looking for Sauvignon Blanc that's a little out of the ordinary.  (*** ½)

Yellow Tail 2020 Pinot Grigio - Pure Bright
$ NA - Australia - no date for release in Ontario yet
Claiming “25% less calories " per 188 ml glass (100 calories) and 2 g of sugar there is a real peachy punchiness to this wine with nice pineapple linger. The full nutritional label on the back is a curiosity on a wine bottle - but for those diet conscious drinkers looking for lower alcohol wine (8.5%) this might be your ticket - beware of that sweetness though ... It'll hit the bloodstream quick.  (***+)


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