LCBO Vintages release – November 22, 2014 (WVN 205)

The annual holiday season onslaught of special wines for dinners and celebrations continues this weekend at Vintages corners across the province.

The theme of the release is Uncork the Finest and this is an apt title. This is a very good release and may be the largest ever, measured by number of sku’s: I count 192 wines on offer with 45 wines selling for over $40.00 per bottle.

My selections from this release adhere to my principles of high value for money which typically translates to don’t spend too much to get a great value.

The overlay I have applied when making this week’s selections has been to unearth the best bets for matching with turkey. Turkey is a neutral meat which needs wines with character which doesn’t get submerged by the other things we find on our plates –squash, yams, Brussel sprouts, stuffing…

Herewith my findings:

Australia, New South Wales – McWilliams Mount Pleasant Elizabeth Hunter Valley Semillon 2007

I have written before about the virtues of aged Hunter Valley Semillon so I will simply state this wine is a textbook version of the case. Semillon is a difficult grape to grow and it is best known as part of the blend in dry Bordeaux wines and Sauternes. Semillon is also a grape that ages well, displaying honey, roasted nut and toast. This wine is intense and medium-bodied with a refined complexity. Aromas and flavours of lemon, toast and honey dominate, sitting on a bed of bright, crisp acid. The finish is long and clean. This is a perfect white for a turkey feast.

Extra dry, white wine – $19.95 per bottle

France, Burgundy (Beaujolais) – AOC Morgon Domaine de L’Herminette Grand Cras 2013

This is Beaujolais Nouveau season but don’t confuse this wine for the fruit-forward, light-bodied confection that masquerades as serious wine. In fact, Morgon is at the polar opposite end of the Beaujolais family tree: it is the most noble of all the Beaujolais crus and is one of the two Beaujolais appellations known for both solid structure and ageability. Wines from Morgon show their best with some time in bottle so this wine – a 2013 – will start to hit its stride after a couple of years in your cellar. This wine is bright and intense with cherry-berry fruit, pepper spice, wet earth and a flinty minerality reflecting the soils of the Grand Cras climat. The tannins are faint but provide elegant structure to a well-balanced, medium-bodied wine.

Extra dry, red wine – $19.95 per bottle

France, Northern Rhône –AOC Crozes-Hermitage M. Chapoutier Petite Ruche 2012

I became a renewed fan of Crozes earlier this year when I enjoyed a bottle with friends while travelling. What made that bottle so appealing was the slight chill in the glass, the light fare of crudités and charcuterie and, of course, the company. The wine was a perfect match: it was bright and juicy, modest in weight and full of just-ripe black fruit. This wine tales me back to that memorable bottle and suggests we have here the perfect red for your turkey feast. It has bright black fruit, pepper spice, crisp acid, and grippy tannins. This is a very fine wine which is balanced and full of life. Chill slightly before serving.

Extra dry, red wine – $24.95 per bottle

Italy, Trento – DOC Trento Metodo Classico Ferrari Brut NV

The global expert on sparkling wines, Tom Stevenson, has been quoted as describing Ferrari as the Rolls-Royce of Italian fizz. To elaborate, this firm is the leading maker of sparkling wines in the small, sparkling only, DOC of Trento. Most of the wines made by this firm are consumed locally so it is a nice rarity to see this wine available in this weekend’s release. The wines of Ferrari are aged a minimum of 30 months on the lees so they have toasty complexity which complements a house-style creamy mousse. This wine is made from Chardonnay grapes and has a lightish weight, crisp acid and layers of toast, lemon, green apple and chalky minerals. Why buy Champagne for your special toasts when you could buy this wine for half the price?

Dry, sparkling wine – $25.95 per bottle

South Africa, Stellenbosch – WO Stellenbosch Meerlust Rubicon 2008

Rubicon is an iconic Bordeaux blend (Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet France) that sells at a fraction of the price you would pay for a wines of similar breeding and depth from France. The complexity of this wine is over the top with black fruit, leather, smoke, dried fruit, earthy and savoury notes all competing for space on both the nose and the palate. The structure is finely-tuned with dry, flaky tannins, medium body, crisp acid and a very long, black-fruit finish. Exceptional value!

Extra dry, red wine – $33.95 per bottle (Limited supplies: flagship store exclusive – check for locations at

If you can’t find the Rubicon I suggest a good fall back would be AOC Graves Château Rahoul 2010 (Extra dry, red wine – $31.95 per bottle). This is a Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot blend with concentrated flavours of red and black fruits, savoury notes, smoke and graphite: it is complex and developing. The structure is solid with sleek tannins and bright acid. The finish is long.

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.

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