Changes to LCBO Vintages are coming. Many of us buy our wine exclusively from the LCBO and like to browse the Vintages section looking for new wines to try. Be prepared for that to change in 2022. It is not exactly front page news, but they LCBO is undertaking a radical redesign of its Vintages business that will transform the way we shop. The changes are numerous.
- There will be a reduction in the number of stores that have a typical Vintages section. These slimmed down stores will have a much reduced Vintages section with only Vintages Essentials wines and will no longer receive the bimonthly Vintages releases.
- The knowledgeable in store Vintages Consultants will be eliminated at the modified stores that only carry Vintages Essentials wines.
- Some of those Consultants will be retained for a new online Product Consultant function that will be piloted in 2022.
- There will be a reduction in the number of Vintages releases to the remaining stores with fewer wines available at store level.
- These in store releases will be augmented by a new, more extensive online Vintages release program.
- The special Vintage releases to their flagship stores will be eliminated and replaced by the new online release program.
Although these changes will make the LCBO more efficient, and even more profitable, we will miss the chance to browse the Vintages releases in person. It was always pleasant to go up and down the aisles looking to discover new wines. Despite the changes, Wine Journeys will continue to review wines from the store level and from the new Vintages online selection so that you can continue to find new wines enjoy at your table.
As usual, my ratings are based on a 5 star system developed by Michael Broadbent: 5 stars: Outstanding; 4 stars: Very good; 3 stars: Good; 2 stars: Moderately good; 1 star: Not very good, but not bad; No stars: Poor.
Featherstone Four Feathers 2020 ★★★★ $14.95 (Vintages)
This blend of Riesling/Sauvignon Blanc/Gewürztraminer/Chardonnay (hence the “Four Feathers” name) from Niagara is an excellent wine that’s great value. It’s beautifully aromatic leaving impressions of lemon, lime, rose petal, sweet apple, honey, fresh rosemary, mineral, and newly cut hay. Medium bodied and just off dry, it has an abundance of potential for pairing with apps typically served with a sweet and/or spicy dip – consider Thai Spring rolls, chicken fingers, or shrimp. Equally charming as an aperitif.
Vineland Estates Elevation St. Urban Riesling 2020 ★★★★+ $19.95 (Vintages)
This Niagara Riesling is always very good, but the 2020 takes it up to excellent. The brilliant acidity allows it to pass for off dry even though the sugar level dictates it medium sweet. The nose is full of fresh lime, lemon, grapefruit, peach, honey and stony mineral and the palate adds on ripe apricot. The flavours linger on your tongue. With all that, it’s no wonder it’s getting noticed scoring a Silver Medal in Decanter’s World Wine Awards. Delicious with a marmalade glazed ham or with Gruyere cheese (or both on a sandwich).
Xavier Vignon Lirac 2019 ★★★★+ $23.95 (Vintages)
Lirac is an often overlooked region on the west side of the Rhone River. However, it should be on your radar since it shares similarities to Chateauneuf du Pape, but at a much friendlier price point. It’s mostly Grenache with some Syrah and has plenty of complexity. Dry, full bodied, and redolent with blackberry, dark plum jam, spicy garrigue, cedar, and vanilla, it needs food to be fully enjoyed. Wonderful wine for hearty fare like lamb, grilled sausage, or game. Drink or hold for a few more years
Peninsula Ridge Merlot 2019 ★★★½ $15.95 (LCBO)
This simply fruity, ready to drink Niagara Merlot is nicely dry with black fruits, tobacco, spice, and vanilla. Its tannins are not aggressive; so, it’s easy to sip without food or with your appetizers. However, if you want a good pairing, try it with comfort food like a spicy meatloaf or a burger.
Boutari Agiorgitiko (Nemea) 2019 ★★★½ $14.25 (LCBO)
This wine used to be known by the Greek region, Nemea, but now they are following the New World tradition by adding the grape name and it’s a tongue twister – Agiorgitiko. To simplify, the English translation is St. George. It produces a dry, medium bodied red with softish tannins and nice spiciness. Think basil and tobacco leaf mingled with dried sweet red cherry, cranberry, and a dash of rose petal. It would pair well with roast meats, but would shine with warmly spiced foods like traditional lamb kofta kebabs or a biryani with meat or vegetables.
Niro di Citra Montepulciano d’Abruzzo 2017 ★★★½+ $16.95 (Vintages)
If you are planning a pizza night with family or friends, this is a wine that needs to be on your table. It’s pleasantly rustic, densely coloured, and dry with black cherry jam, dark plum, cigar box, and sage tinged with a touch of vanilla. Its considerable flavours will mesh especially well with your pizza if it has Italian sausage, mushrooms, and fresh basil.
Pesquié Édition 1912m Ventoux 2019 ★★★★ $17.95 (Vintages)
The Cote du Ventoux is a lesser known region in the Southern Rhone. This dry red has plenty of body paired with flavours of strawberry jam, spiced plum, licorice, menthol, garrigue (wild herbs), and dried cherry. Perfect to pair with the typical cuisine of Southern France that features tomatoes, garlic, olives, and fresh herbs. Provençal Eggplant Tomato Gratin is one dish that comes to mind. Suggested this for Christmas gift last month; now go and get some for yourself!
Wakefield Jaraman Cabernet Sauvignon 2018 ★★★★+ $24.95 (Vintages)
One should always be on the lookout for classic Cabernets from the Claire Valley in Coonawarra, Australia and this is one. It has intense aromas of cassis, black cherry, mint, cigar box, and vanilla and the palate follows with the same. The tannins are high, so it could cellar for a couple more years or serve it now with steak, lamb, or stuffed peppers.