November 5, 2016 Newsletter


On Remembrance Day, Friday November 11, 2016, LCBO stores will open at noon until their normal closing hours. The exception is the Ottawa Region, where LCBO stores will not open until 12:30 p.m. due to Remembrance Day events in the National Capital Region. LCBO agency stores observe their normal hours of business on November 11. 

The LCBO head office in Toronto will be closed on Friday, November 11, in recognition of Remembrance Day. However, the toll-free, bilingual helloLCBO Contact Centre at 1-800-ONT-LCBO (668-5226) or online at will be available to customers seeking information on Friday, November 11.

Newsletter highlights include:

  • Exceptional-value wine Exceptional Value! – 5 of 32 wines—all priced from $8.00 to $18.80—with 4 found after the Main Release—meet the strict quality-price guidelines; they’re easily found via the exceptional-value checkmark above. What strict quality-pricing guidelines? Click here.
  • 5-star Wine – only one wine rang the 5-star bell. Geografico ‘Contessa di Radda’ Chianti Classico 2013 @ $18.80 found under New in Private Order.
  • Vic Picks – Henry of Pelham ‘Cuvée Catharine – Carte Blanche - Estate Blanc de Blanc’ 2011 @ $44.95 earned 4 ½ stars found under Sparkling Wine; Argento Pinot Grigio 2015 @ $9.95 earned 4 stars found under New in LCBO after the Main Release; Geografico ‘Contessa di Radda’ Chianti Classico 2013 @ $18.80 earned 5 stars and Quest Wine Company ‘Amigos y Amantes’ Tempranillo 2014 @ $8.00 earned 4 stars with both under Private Order after the Main Release.

Access the LCBO store nearest you with stock of any wine with an LCBO product number by clicking on the number shown in brackets in wine reviews then clicking on ‘Select Stores’ and entering your postal code—the number of bottles available stock in stores near you is displayed—or by clicking ‘Check all stores’ where you’ll see stock available in all LCBO stores. For Vintages Release wines, stock should be displayed the Friday before a Saturday release, updated every 24 hours, some stores post earlier. LCBO Portfolio wines (not Vintages) should always closely reflect stock in stores, updated every 24 hours. However, it’s always best to phone stores showing stock before you go.

• winecurrent was unable to attend the November tasting, but still have reviews from a total of 31 wines that have been tasted and reviewed previously—15 from this release—and all follow.

November 12, 2016 Vintages Release

The Main Release


****1/2drink now Oh Canada!
Inniskillin ‘Sparkling’ Vidal Icewine 2014

VQA Niagara Peninsula $79.95 (560367) 375 mL 9.5% alcohol

Alluring aromas of ripe tropical fruit, apricot and rosewater waft from the glass preceding fruit-forward flavours delicately surfing on spritzy bubbles—mango, apricot and notions of lemon drop candy. It’s light on its feet and velvety smooth on the palate with a balanced, lingering finish. It’s a perfect welcoming wine or aperitif and just the right size for two—the perfect way to set the mood for an intimate evening. (Vic Harradine)

Sparkling Wine

****1/2 drink or cellar Oh Canada!
Henry of Pelham ‘Cuvée Catharine – Carte Blanche - Estate Blanc de Blanc’ 2011

VQA Short Hills Bench $44.95 (315200) 12.5% alcohol

This is a perennial winner delivering possibly its best to date, redolent of the 2008. Fine-bead mousse releases a bouquet of baking brioche, lemon tart and minerality. The attack on the palate is dramatic with crisp green apple, lemon yoghurt and bracing citrusy tang riding a laser-like stream before developing depth, texture and breadth on the middle and back palate with replays in the mouth-watering, lengthy finish. (Vic Harradine)

****1/2 drink or cellar Exceptional Value!
Cathedral Cellars 'Methode Cap Classique' Brut Non-Vintage

WO Western Cape $17.95 (296426) 11.5% alcohol 

Produced from a blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, this refined sparkling wine spent 24 months on the lees and offers a clean, crisp profile and fine, persistent mousse. Dry, light-medium bodied, it's defined by notes of almond biscuit, green apple, citrus and mineral. There's a tangy note of lemon zest on the extended, refreshingly dry finish. This is a great choice to celebrate with friends or enjoy with a light meal. (Susan Desjardins)

****1/2 drink now
Bailly Lapierre ‘Réserve’ Crémant de Bourgogne Non-Vintage

AOC Crémant de Bourgogne $19.95 (991562) 12.0% alcohol 

An almost transparent straw colour, this lovely sparkler has delicate aromas of pear, green apple and brioche. It’s quite rich and fruity on the palate—tree fruit in particular with a citrus note—and the mousse is soft and creamy. This is finely balanced, well-crafted and quite flavourful. An underlying minerality and fresh fruity acidity persist on the finish. This is good value. (Susan Desjardins)

Ontario: White Wine

****1/2 drink or cellar Oh Canada!
Henry of Pelham ‘Estate’ Chardonnay 2014

VQA Short Hills Bench $19.95 (268342) 13.5% alcohol

Opening with tropical fruit, buttery, toasty notes and spice, this dry, mid-weight gem freshens the palate with finely-honed acidity paired with ripe orchard fruit, juicy pineapple and tangy citrus. Oak presents in the sweet spicy notes and a touch of nuttiness and underlying freshness shines through on the clean, tasty finish. Enjoy with veal chops or herbed grilled pork loin. (Susan Desjardins)

California: Red Wine

**** drink or cellar
Conundrum Red 2013

California $24.95 (294298) 14.2% alcohol

Ink-black, almost opaque in the glass, this sweet, red blend is full bodied, well textured, jammy and very fruit forward. Baking spice, black cherry and black currant aromas replay on the palate as flavours as black currant jam, black plum compote and cherry tart robed in mixed spice and herbs. Pour alongside grilled, smoked back ribs swabbed in spicy barbecue sauce. (Vic Harradine)

Argentina: Red Wine

****1/2 drink or cellar
Kaiken ‘Ultra’ Malbec 2013

Mendoza $19.95 (50849) 14.5% alcohol

A consistent winner that was aged 12 months in French oak, this classic opaque Malbec is very expressive—ripe red and black fruit mingles with cracked pepper, baking spice, cedar and dark chocolate. A robust, full-bodied wine, it shows great balance and integration, the fine-grained tannins and clean acidity effectively framing the flavourful dark fruit. Subtle notes of dried herbs and spice persist through the warm, dry finish. It’s a great match for grilled steak with a chimichurri sauce. (Susan Desjardins)

****1/2 drink or cellar
Susana Balbo ‘Signature’ Malbec 2013

Uco Valley $19.95 (79798) 14.0% alcohol

With a touch of Petit Verdot to add to its inky hue, this offers alluring, complex aromas—floral notes, exotic spice, ripe berry and plum fruit, cinnamon toast and vanilla. Dry and robust with a spicy, peppery texture, there’s depth and intensity to the black fruit along with exquisite balance from supple ripe tannin and clean, fresh acidity. Savoury notes of black licorice and chocolate, dried herbs and sweet toasty oak extend through the tangy finish. Serve with barbequed lamb or beef fajitas. (Susan Desjardins)

Australia: Red Wine

****1/2 drink or cellar
Barossa Valley Estate ‘E & E Black Pepper’ Shiraz 2008

Barossa Valley, South Australia $89.95 (731620) 14.5% alcohol

This is an iconic Barossa Shiraz found in the ‘Outstanding’ category in Langton’s Classification of Australia’s finest wines. This dishes up a deep, rich bouquet of exotic spice, cracked black pepper and black plum compote. Dense and rich with complexity and charm, a succulent flow of ripe mulberry and briary berry coat the palate mingling with dark chocolate and soft tannin. It finishes in a blaze of moderating acidity, balanced and lip-smacking good. (Vic Harradine)

New Zealand: White Wine

****1/2 drink now
Babich ‘Black Label’ Sauvignon Blanc 2015
Marlborough, South Island $19.95 (9142) 13.0% alcohol
This is benchmark Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc at a very good price. A small percentage was fermented in well-seasoned—almost inert—oak barrique to enhance weight and complexity. Savory herbs, grassy notes and lemon-lime aromas abound. This streaks over the palate infusing the lengthy, lip-smacking finish and aftertaste with passionfruit, gooseberry jelly and lemon curd enhanced by ripe pear and hints of pineapple. (Vic Harradine)

France: Red Wine

**** drink or cellar
Château Guillou 2014

AOC Montagne Saint-Émilion $19.95 (140483) 13.1% alcohol
Made with 75% Merlot and 25% Cabernet Franc, this wine has an interesting dried fig and earthy nose, with hints of cherry. Lots of tannins in the mouth, but still smooth enough to go down easy with hints of raisin and sour cherry. Drink it now with a medium-rare steak or put it in the cellar for a few years and then enjoy. (Dave Isaacs)

**** drink or cellar
Gérard Bertrand ‘Cap’ Insula’ Grenache/Syrah/Mourvèdre Languedoc 2013

AOP Languedoc, France $17.00 (474973) 13.5% alcohol

Heavily perfumed with rich dark berry fruit aromas, the hand-picked fruit was taken to the eco-designed winery, macerated approximately three weeks then aged eight months in barrel. It’s dense, rich and concentrated with a surge of palate-coating flavour—black plum compote, cherry clafoutie and dark bittersweet chocolate. These replay on the finish joined by mouth-watering, moderating acidity and firm structure. Pour with grilled back ribs slathered in barbecue sauce. (Vic Harradine)

• The following red is from Chateau Mont-Redon, one of the oldest wine-producing Estates in France (since 1344) and the largest single property in Châteauneuf-du-Pape (100 hectares with 80% red and 20% white grapes). The name of the overall appellation, Châteauneuf-du-Pape, translates to ‘new house of the Pope’ referring to Pope’s residing here in the 1300s.

****1/2 drink or cellar

Chateau Mont-Redon Châteauneuf-du-Pape 2012

AOC Châteauneuf-du-Pape, France $45.95 (959627) 14.5% alcohol

Lifted aromas of floral notes, mixed field berry and espresso roast abound. A mid-full bodied red blend of 65% Grenache/15% Syrah/10% Cinsault/5% Mourvèdre and bits of a variety of other grapes flows creamy smooth over the palate—ripe black raspberry and dark Bing cherry interlaced with grilled, piquant spice and herbs with notions of kirsch liqueur, especially on the balanced and bountiful finish and aftertaste. (Vic Harradine)

Italy: Red Wine

**** drink or cellar

Tedeschi ‘Capitel Nicalò’ 2013

IGT Rosso delle Venezie $17.95 (984997) 14.0% alcohol

This delightful red blend—30% Corvina/30% Corvinone/30% Rondinella/10% other local grapes—used partially dried grapes in the winemaking process and rested them for 12 to 18 months Slavonian oak barrel before bottling. Aromas of raisins, spice and tarry notes make way for a delightful stream of tangy red cherry juxtaposed with dark juicy cherry bathing the palate robed in mocha and notions of vanilla. (Vic Harradine)

****1/2 drink or cellar

Fontanafredda 'Serralunga d'Alba' Barolo 2012

DOCG Barolo $44.95 (943290) 14.0% alcohol

Semi-transparent garnet, this was crafted with indigenous yeast and underwent malolactic fermentation in concrete then aged in cask. It delights with fragrant floral and fruit notes interwoven with subtle spice, a whiff of cedar and earthy mineral undertones. Dry, medium-full bodied, this is a harmonious, suave wine underpinned by refined tannin and smooth texture. There's complexity and depth in layered flavours, elusive notes of mushroom and dried herbs, hints of fennel, tangy red cherry and berry. Showing an enduring, dry finish, it’s designed for lengthy aging or serve now with braised beef and mushroom arrosto. (Susan Desjardins)

****1/2 drink or cellar

Rivera ‘Il Falcone Riserva’ Castel del Monte 2009

DOC Castel del Monte, Puglia $23.95 (177295) 13.5% alcohol

The principal component of this blend is Nero di Troia, the native grape of Puglia. Aged in French oak, this offers great complexity on the nose—herbaceous and floral notes, hints of dark chocolate, sweet spice and a core of ripe berry fruit. Complexity complements balance, firm structure and weight. The first sip brings the ripe berry fruit to the fore merging with notes of dried fruit and herbs, charry toast and earth. Velvety in texture, dry and full bodied, the wine is drinking well now, but has been crafted to age. (Susan Desjardins)

Upstream in winecurrent

Vintages Release: November 26, 2016

***1/2drink now
Montebuena Rioja Cuvée KPF 2012
DOC Rioja $15.95 (211029)  13.5% alcohol
This wine is made from 100% Tempranillo grapes hand harvested from the Montebuena vineyard. It offers a nose of cherry and vanilla, with just a hint of mint. In the mouth it is smooth, not too much tannin, with earthy notes and a touch of cherry. A nice wine to sip while you are grilling some steak with friends. (Dave Isaacs)

****drink now
Quinta de Curvos ‘Affectus’ Alvarinho 2015
Vinho Regional Minho, Portugal $17.95 (471276) 13.0% alcohol
Perfumed aromas spring from the glass with floral and soft citrus notes. It streaks across the palate mid weight and nicely textured with laser-like focus on a linear line of Key lime and white grapefruit tang joined by mineral notes on the crisp, refreshing finish. This is poured well alongside freshly shucked oysters under a squeeze of fresh lemon. (Vic Harradine)

Vintages Release: December 10, 2016

**** drink or cellar
Sartori di Verona ‘Montegradella – Superiore 2012
DOC Valpolicella Classico, Italy $17.95 (473157) 13.0% alcohol
Here’s a delightful single-vineyard, red blend—45% Corvina Veronese/30% Corvinone/20% Rondinella/5% Croatina—that leaps from the glass with an aromatic nose of piquant spice and cherry pastille. It has good structure, persistent fruit flavour and deft balance with a lengthy tang-infused finish and aftertaste. This rolls over the palate with a medium-full bodied, nicely textured mouthful of peppery spice and dark toast interlaced with tangy pie cherry and red currant. (Vic Harradine)

**** drink now
Sartori di Verona ‘Corte Brá – Classico’ Amarone 2009
DOC Amarone della Valpolicella, Italy $49.95 (225540) 15.5% alcohol
Raisin, fig, blueberry and black plum compote aromas roll off the nose of this full-bodied, creamy smooth Amarone. It blankets the palate with an über-sweet array of spice cake, cooked bramble berry and black cherry finishing with dark bittersweet chocolate intertwined with notions of dark coffee. The aftertaste lingers with excellent tang, acidity and peppery spice. (Vic Harradine)

**** cellar
Château Devise d’Ardilley 2012
AOC Haut-Médoc, Bordeaux $29.95 (642512) 13.0% alcohol
Aromas of forest floor, cherry/berry fruit and charred toast billow from this medium-bodied, well-textured cellar-dweller. It’s an almost even 50/50 split between Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot with a splash of Petit Verdot. A fruit forward flow of black currant, sour cherry and dark chocolate envelop the palate underpinned by still-evolving tannin. It finishes with a lengthy drying finish. Reap the reward of patience popping corks 2018-2022, if impatient, aerate/decant three hours pouring with well-seasoned grilled striploin. (Vic Harradine)

Vintages Release: April 15, 2017

****1/2 drink now Oh Canada!
Family Tree ‘Red’ 2014
VQA Ontario $18.95 (247882) 13.5% alcohol
This red blend—33% Syrah/29% Merlot/19% Cabernet Franc/14% Cabernet Sauvignon/5% Baco Noir—dishes up a mouthful of red berry fruit and black currant mingling with piquant spice that’s robed with excellent acidity and tang from cork pop to last drop. It’s mid weight with good mouthfeel and a lingering finish that’s balanced and lip-smacking good. It was barrel aged with 65% French/35% American oak for 17 months. Great sipped on its own, it pairs and pours well with red pizza, burgers or lasagna—great value. (Vic Harradine)

New in the LCBO Portfolio

**** drink now Exceptional Value!
Argento Pinot Grigio 2015
Product of Argentina $9.95 (620492) 13.0% alcohol
Soft aromas of floral and tropical fruit give way to a delightful mouthful of honey-tinged flavours with green apple, ripe pear and hints of grilled pineapple to the fore. It’s smooth and mellow with great balance and a fresh lively finish and aftertaste. This punches well above its price and offers terrific value for money. (Vic Harradine)

*** drink now
Montes ‘Twins’ Red Blend’ 2014
DO Colchagua Valley, Chile $12.95 (352054) 13.0% alcohol
This Cabernet Sauvignon/Malbec blend billows from the glass with oodles of dark berry fruit and sweet vanilla aromas. A full-bodied, well-textured rush of mixed field berry fruit robed in green savory herbs coat the palate dominating the distinctively drying, tart aftertaste. Pour with well-seasoned grilled red meat or chili con carne. (Vic Harradine)

***1/2 drink now
Argento ‘Reserva’ Malbec 2014
Valle de Uco, Mendoza, Argentina $13.95 (363192) 14.0% alcohol
There’s lots of spice and oodles of red and black berry fruit aromas on the nose of this full-fruited, medium-plus bodied Malbec. The dark berry fruit on the palate is enveloped by charred toast and roasted green, savory herbs persisting through the lengthy savory finish. The aftertaste layers on notions of bittersweet chocolate. Serve with red pizza. (Vic Harradine)

**** drink now
Whitecliff Sauvignon Blanc 2016
Marlborough, New Zealand $14.95 (610972) 12.5% alcohol
Almost clear in the glass, aromas of piquant spice, savory herbs and grassy nettles explode on the nose of this medium-bodied tang-laden gem. It races over the palate with a persistent stream of racy passion fruit and tart gooseberry robed in prickly tang. The finish is long and clean with distinctive white grapefruit flavours. Pour with prawn ceviche or pan-seared freshwater fish under a generous squeeze of fresh lemon. Very good value here. (Vic Harradine)

New in Ontario Wineries

****1/2 drink or cellar Oh Canada!
Redstone Estate Cabernet Franc 2013
VQA Lincoln Lakeshore $39.95 13.5% alcohol
This is the first release of this certified organic/biodynamic wine. Dark berry fruit and savory herb aromas precede a muscular, full-bodied, full textured wash of ripe red cherry and black currant, mixed spice and excellent moderating acidity and tang. It’s nicely balanced on the palate and finishes in a blaze of passion fruit and tart cranberry tang interwoven with savory herbs. This matured 18 months in French oak barrel.

• Organic/biodynamic fruit was sourced for the following Tawse single-vineyard, Merlot from 13-year-old vines and aged 18 months in French oak barrel. Sadly, this is the 2nd last vintage for this wine as all the Merlot vines in this block were destroyed by a particularly cold winter in 2014.

****1/2 cellar Oh Canada!
Tawse Winery ‘David’s Block’ Merlot 2012
VQA Twenty Mile Bench $49.95 14.0% alcohol
Lifted aromas of dark berry fruit, cigar box and wisps of campfire smoke herald a muscular wash, with depth and concentration, enveloping the palate with rich, ripe cherry and dark berry fruit, excellent racy tang and a firm underpinning of grainy tannin. This is structured, full bodied and fully textured showcasing a powerful wine coming into its own after careful cellaring 2018 to 2022. (Vic Harradine)

**** drink or cellar Oh Canada!
Tawse Winery ‘Growers Blend’ Pinot Noir 2012
VQA Niagara Peninsula $26.95 12.0% alcohol
From one of Niagara’s stellar vintages this matured 16 months in French oak barrel before bottling. Aromas of cherry pastilles and roasted herbs provide segue for a well-paced river of cranberry, strawberry and red plum flavour. This has firm structure, purity of fruit and a monumentally long and luscious finish and aftertaste laced with piquant spice. Aerate/decant for three hours before pouring with crispy, smoked and oven-grilled duck breasts. (Vic Harradine)

• The following Pinot Noir from Tawse Winery is available only to licensee holders, e.g. those who hold a liquor license - restaurants, hotels. Look for it on wine menus at wine-friendly restaurants.

****1/2 drink or cellar Oh Canada!
Tawse Winery Pinot Noir 2013
VQA Niagara Peninsula $21.95 13.0% alcohol
This showcases excellent value, persistent purity of fruit and deft balance—making it a winning match for appropriate cuisine—with a lengthy finish and aftertaste. Aromas of cedar, pipe tobacco and savory herbs abound on the nose of this mid-weight, smooth and mellow, balanced-on-a-pin Pinot. It bathes the palate with a tangy flow of ripe red currant and pie cherry garnished with earthy notes and a brushstroke of piquant spice. This well-structured red rested 16 months in French oak barrel before bottling—it’s ready to drink now. (Vic Harradine)

New in Private Order

• Order the following two wines by the case for home, restaurant or office delivery in Ontario from VinoLuna wine agency. Contact by website, VinoLuna, Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. , or in the GTA phone 416 587-6691.

***** drink or cellar Exceptional Value!
Geografico ‘Contessa di Radda’ Chianti Classico 2013
DOCG Chianti Classico, Italy $18.80 13.0% alcohol
This red blend of 90% Sangiovese/5% Canaiolo/5% Colorino fills the air with floral notes and glorious, ripe, red and dark fruit aromas galore. It delivers a stunning, full-bodied, creamy smooth river of perfectly balanced fruit and acidity with ripe sweet mulberry, tangy dark briary berry and mixed spice to the fore. It has a dry, lip-smacking finish, good focus, firm structure with persistent purity of fruit throughout; it’s absolutely delicious. This spent 16 months in large tonneaux casks, 10% new. (Vic Harradine)

• The following wine is a, ‘Super Tuscan’, a term originating in the 1970s when producers felt regulations in Chianti, Tuscany were too restrictive, mainly regarding the grapes allowed. At the time, the lowest category was, ‘Vino da Tavola’, for what was considered the lowest quality level. The regulators forced wineries to use this on the bottle label if they strayed outside the regulations regardless of price or quality. A few quite famous producers did just that and became even more famous (and wines subsequently even more expensive) under this lowest category once they were known by the non-regulated moniker of, ‘Super Tuscan’. The early Super Tuscans include: Sassicaia, Ornellaia, Tignanello, Solaia et al. Many more exist now and all Super Tuscans are within the revised classification, ‘Indicazione Geografica Tipica’, or the acronym, IGT. However, not all IGT wines are Super Tuscans.

****1/2 drink or cellar Exceptional Value!
Geografico ‘Ferraiolo’ Toscana 2013
IGT Toscana, Italy $17.85 13.0% alcohol
A well-paced and extremely well-priced red blend—70% Sangiovese/30% Cabernet Sauvignon—it delivers on all counts. This offers gorgeous, ripe fruit on the palate—juicy black cherry and ripe black plum—interwoven with notions of mocha and oodles of delightful tang—it’s medium-full weight with silky texture and a smooth, mellow and lengthy finish and aftertaste. It spent 12 months is small oak barrique, 40% new. Drinking well now and on to 2024, it’s delightful on its own or with grilled red meat. (Vic Harradine)

• Order the following wine by the case for home, restaurant or office delivery. Free delivery in the GTA or delivered to your local LCBO for pick up. Order from VIP Wine and Spirits via email to Dave Coutts This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

• Tempranillo fruit for the following wine was sourced from the La Mancha wine region of Spain. The long hot summers have contributed to it being considered the longest continuous wine-growing region in the world.

**** drink or cellar Exceptional Value!
Quest Wine Company ‘Amigos y Amantes’ Tempranillo 2014
Product of Spain $8.00 13.0% alcohol
This delightful, value-laden Tempranillo is juicy and lively, showcasing red cherry/berry flavours and mixed spice. Subtle aromas of red cherry and floral notes open this medium-full bodied red. It has generous mouthfeel, good structure, a lengthy aftertaste and is balanced and beautiful. Aerate decant a couple of hours before pouring with grilled red meat. (Vic Harradine)

Cheers, Vic