LCBO Vintages release – November 8, 2014 (WVN 204)

It’s official! The LCBO has launched the holiday blitz with this weekend’s Vintages release.

The theme is Uncork the Season, a feature which presents over 150 holiday wines. This holiday focus means, of course, prices go through the ceiling.

There are still values to be found and I get into the holiday mood by picking some values that approach the $30 level. These will be great wines for holiday meals, if not this year then sometime down the road, after some rest in your cellar.

There is plenty to choose from in this very good release so I have added a sixth wine to my usual list of great values. The result is a nice cross-section of styles, regions and prices in my selection this weekend.

Ontario, Niagara – VQA Beamsville Bench Hidden Bench Estate Chardonnay 2012

I will confess that I am a fussy consumer of wines made with the Chardonnay grape. I prefer those wines from the Old World where place is more notable than the grape variety or the type of oak used for fermentation or maturation. These wines are memorable in ways the big, buttery, flabby Chards are not: these latter wines are typically made in warmer, New World places. Here we have a New World Chardonnay that is a wonderful assemblage of Old and New, with amazing concentration, flavor expression and crisp acid. Flavours of lemon, lime and green apple dominate and while there is smoke and light vanilla these add complexity without diminishing the fruit. This is a well-structured wine with plenty of years of development ahead. You can drink this wine now but the best expression will come some 5 to 7 years from now.

Extra dry, white wine – $28.95 per bottle (Uncork feature wine)

Australia, South Australia – Penfolds Bin 2 Borassa Valley Shiraz/Mourvèdre 2012

Here we have an exceptional wine at an attractive price. This is an intense wine with great structure, fruit expression and balance. For those who might expect a big, ripe, over-the-top Shiraz, think again: this wine is comparatively understated and shows shape and form due to the use of Mourvèdre in the blend. Concentrated flavours of blackberry, blueberry, smoke and chocolate dominate. The tannins are still fairly firm and will need some bottle time before they are fully resolved. The fruit and acid are more than adequate to provide great potential for ageing for the next 2 or 3 years.

Extra dry, red wine – $21.95 per bottle

France, Southern Rhône – AOC Côtes du Rhône Coudoulet du Beaucastel 2012

This is a traditional holiday season listing and the amazing thing about this perennial favourite is the price. It hasn’t changed – that is, gone up – in at least the past 8 years! This is not your everyday C-d-R. It is complex and finely-structured with red and black fruit, round tannins, modest smoke and spice and a very long finish. For all of these things you would have trouble not confusing this wine with a more expensive, Châteauneuf-du-Pape. In fact for my money this is one of the best value wines from this part of France! Buy a few bottles and put them in your cellar for enjoyment in 2017 and beyond.

Extra dry, red wine – $29.95 per bottle (Uncork feature wine)

Spain, Jerez – DO Jerez Emilio Lustau East India Solera Sherry

I don’t often select a fortified wine in my value selections but for the holidays this will be a wonderful wine for after dinner conversation. It is full of dried fruit, toffee, roasted nuts, ginger, orange marmalade – all the aromas and flavours that remind us of the holidays, even in the middle of summer. The plate is well-balanced with over 120 g/L of residual sugar, combined with enough acid to offset much of the sweetness. Great value!

Sweet, fortified wine – $22.95 per bottle (500 ml)

Spain, Rueda– DO Rueda Menade Verdejo 2013

Verdejo is an aromatic grape with great appeal. It shows flavours of greengage plum and pear and typically has a mouth feel that is round and fattish. This wine is pretty true to the form one expects with an intensity and complexity that make it an exceptional value. There is a flinty minerality along with modest lees character to complement the bright fruit and crisp acidity. This is a fine aperitif wine or a wine that will serve well at holiday parties.

Extra dry, white wine – $16.95 per bottle

Italy, Sicily – IGT Rosso Sicilia Orestiadi Ludovico 2008

Sicily is a region growing in reputation and is no longer a backwater of only cheap, big, ripe and high-alcohol wines. You can still find plenty of these wines but the Ludovico is a demonstration that wines of complexity and style can be made in this ancient place. This is a blend of Nero d’Avola and Cabernet Sauvignon that is intense, precise and well-structured. It has cassis, cherry, wet stone minerality and savoury notes, along with a potpourri of spices and herbs. The tannins are fine-grained and the acid is bright and crisp. The finish is long and clean. Refined!

Extra dry, red wine – $19.95 per bottle

à bientôt…
Copyright © W. John Switzer 2003 – 2014


Author: John Switzer

I am wine writer, educator and tour guide. From 2005 to June 2014 I published a bi-weekly newsletter, the Winesights Vintages Newsletter (WVN). This Newsletter was closed in July 2014 when the Government of Canada put in place the onerous administrative requirements of Canada's Anti-Spam Legislation. The legacy of WVN continues on this blog spot where I post wine-related articles as well as reviews of a small selection of best-value wines from each bi-weekly LCBO Vintages release. I hold the WSET Diploma, I am a WSET Certified Educator, I teach in the WSET program at the Independent Wine Education Guild in Toronto where I am the past Director of the WSET Diploma program. Since 2010 I have been a judge at Decanter World Wine Awards on the Rhône panel and I am a member of the Society of Wine Educators.

One thought on “LCBO Vintages release – November 8, 2014 (WVN 204)”

  1. Thanks John, I hope all is well with you and Barbara. We are headed down to Niagara on the Lake for the weekend. Anything new down there in the last year or two that we might not know about but should include in out itinerary?

    Thanks Tom

    PS Had some older Coudoulet this year – it was marvelous! I’ll be sure to pick up some of this vintage too…

    Tom Ingram


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