Winter 2023 - Wines at the LCBO Round-Up

27 Jan 2023

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 … below you will find a number of different sources for wines: agents, general list, wines not available at present, etc. but all-in-all these are the bottles I recommend that were released, from April 2022 all the way back to November 2021 ... plus the other stuff.



ClaymoreClaymore Wines 2018 You'll Never Walk Alone
$19.95 - #409086
This is a GSM blend (but call it Mataro, not Mourvedre), is full of black pepper, blackberry, dark and brooding fruit that keeps giving the more it stays open. Rich and close to unctuous, yet well-balanced with acid and tannins bringing it all together. It still has a few years ahead of it, but drinks well right now. It is 14.7% alcohol, so just beware.  (****+)

Claymore Wines 2019 London Calling, Cabernet Merlot
$19.95 - #522110
I love the notes of eucalyptus that accosted the nose, dark fruit, smoky, and it’s missing that usual jamminess that you would expect from an Australian wine, and that's welcome news indeed; instead, it doles out lots of black pepper and bittersweet cocoa. Open a couple hours and there's a pleasant, sweet raspberry note that runs mid-palate to finish.  (****)

Peter Lehmann 2019 Shiraz, The Barossan
This is one of those big ones from Australia that we all know, and mostly love cola and dark fruit steps out front with black cherry and black raspberry - then there’s white pepper and chocolate as it crosses the tongue racing to the finish ... It hits all the right notes for a Barossa Shiraz.  (*** ½+)

Wakefield 2019 Cabernet Sauvignon Wakefield
$19.95 - #744235
Here we have a real staple of the house of Taylor (aka Wakefield): menthol, mocha, blackberry / cassis and coffee. There are also whiffs and snippets that kick in giving you licorice, vanilla and even a toasty sensation. Available at the LCBO and worth every penny.  (****+)

Wakefield's 2020 Shiraz, Jaraman
$26.95 - #377036
A mix of McLaren and Clare Valley fruit, smooth and silky mouthfeel upon entry. The fruit layers in dark with an easy and subtle white pepper note. There is no doubt this is an unapologetic Aussie Shiraz.  (*** ½)

Wolf Blass 2018 Shiraz, Grey Label
$34.95 - #390872
Super pure expression of Shiraz. That's deep, dark and delicious. Those spice notes sing, the dark fruit wails and the smokiness does a balancing act to help bring it all together. It's rich and a wine, not soon forgotten.  (****+)

ZontesZonte’s Footstep 2021 Love Symbol Grenache
$21.95 - #668582
This is a very pretty wine with a boatload of raspberry built right in. Grenache is normally a very light and fruity grape, something I learned while in Spain, and here Zonte’s brings out all that beautiful fruit and acidity to balance it off. When you think Australia, you might think thick and jammy, yet this wine is far from that. It’s light colour hints at its delicate flavour and it delivers: raspberry, tart cranberry and supremely juicy; it’s a wine to chill and enjoy.  (****+)


Buena Vista 2018 The Sheriff
$49.95 - #539114
Juicy California red full of blackberry cassis, mocha, coffee bean and black cherry notes.  (*** ½+)

Duckhorn 2019 Decoy Cabernet Sauvignon Decoy CS
$39.95 - #186171
This is Duckhorn Vineyards’ second wine, and it’s a real treat. Powerful fruit offering red plum and plush chocolate along with hints of spice and smoke. It’s dangerously drinkable, on its own or with … whatever you want.  (****+)

Kendall Jackson, 2017 Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
$49.95 - #27681
Smooth and silky, the bones here are dark and spicy with good tannin bite. There's also some mocha, black cherry, clove and vanilla that sneaks in the longer it remains open and in the glass.  (****)

KJ ChardKendall Jackson 2021 Vintner’s Reserve Chardonnay
$22.95 - #369686
This flagship Chardonnay blends fruit and oak with a balance not often seen at this price point. It’s a sign that the old ways of oaky California Chardonnay are beginning to fall out of style, or is it that KJ’s fans are demanding better than an oak bomb; whatever the reason, we all benefit.  (****)

Menage a Trois 2020 Red
$17.95 - #308007
Many years ago I was fond of this wine, probably because it was sweet, fun and friendly. This is the kind of wine that'll start any party off well, where you go with it … it's in the name, but it's not a requirement.  (***+)

Prisoner Wine Company 2019 Unshackled Red Blend
I was a fan of the Cabernet from this series from Prisoner, expected a little more here, but what I got was a perfectly drinkable with a sweet cherry core, notes of red licorice, vanilla and a silky smooth finish.  (*** ½+)

Trinity Oaks 2020 Pinot Noir
A juicy, simple California Pinot Noir that is built for immediate consumption or so the plastic cork tells me - it's pretty typical with its ripe fruit of the dark variety, all based on a juicy core.  (*** ½)

Robert Mondavi 2019 Cabernet Sauvignon Napa
$59.95 - #255513
There's something comforting about seeing Mr. Mondavi's name on a bottle of Wine – is like an old friend has come over for dinner; he sits down, pulls out the wine he brought and you just know it's going to be good. This Napa Mondavi is a sheer delight starting with herbal and chocolate notes on the nose; then the palate shows that sweet lush dark fruit along with mocha and black cherry on the finish.  (****+)

Stags’ Leap Winery 2018 Petite Sirah Stags P Sirah
$60.95 - #590356
Now this is the bee's knees. Really good. Smile inducing – add your platitude here. Dark fruit and spice, subtle pepper, white smoke, cassis and black cherry; I love that spice on the end, the great length, I have much more to say about it, but I want to get back to the glass. You need this wine in your life.  (**** ½)


ErrazurizErrazuriz 2020, Cabernet Sauvignon - Aconcagua Alto
$22.95 - #203364
Totally dig on the mint / eucalyptus note. That's the first thing this wine doles out. Then it's the plum, blackberry and hints of vanilla and smoky-cinnamon that keeps recurring. This pleasantness from Chile has a length of finish that’s pure elegance. Drink now or cellar 7-plus years.  (****+)

Errazuriz 2018 Syrah - Aconcagua Costa
$21.95 - #387910
More attune to Australia than Rhone this. Syrah has a beauty of a mint aroma with some smoked licorice; the fruit is all blackberry, cassis plus some black pepper.  (****)

San Pedro 2020 Cabernet Sauvignon - 1865 Las Piedras
$21.95 - #37911
The nose is the light, full of lovely cassis and blackberry plus cinnamon and other spices. The palate has a different tale to tell: dark fruited, but with big tannins and a hard acid bite - even the oak pokes out a little too much, and then sticks around too long. It might need two to three more years as the nose really shines when open, with all that fruit and secondary characteristics; but the palate seems a little disjointed at the moment.  (*** ½)

Tarapaca 2019 Cabernet Sauvignon Gran Reserva
$17.95 - #18721
Typical menthol / minty Chilean Cabernet that has notes of blackberry, cassis, black, cherry and most drying tannins.  (*** ½+)

Tarapaca 2020 Gran Reserva
A blend of 71% Carmenere - 19% Syrah, and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon. Plenty of fruit comes screaming out of the glass, along with some subtle pepper. On the palate it shows that dark fruit along with delicate vanilla oak, silky tannins and a finish with enough umph to make sure it has time to age.  (****+)


Calmel & Joseph 2021 Villa Blanche Viognier
$16.95 - #32017
Another Villa Blanche is coming to the shelves of the LCBO. The first to arrive was their Chardonnay, which I discovered 2 years ago while tasting through the wines for that year's Toronto Life end of year roundup. Now, they are going to be showcasing Viognier, the “in”-grape. Many would consider Pinot Grigio as the “in”-grape, but amongst wine lovers, Viognier has a special following. This version will not overwhelm you with flavor, it takes its time to roll out what it has: namely a mix of grapefruit and tropical fruit with a hint of bitter citrus pith on the mid-palate and a peach pit finish. Watch for it to arrive on the LCBO shelves near you.  (*** ½)

Domaine de la Baume 2021 Elizabeth Viognier Dom Baume Vio
$18.95 - #438796
There's a little alcohol heat that sneaks through on the nose and is then hinted at on the palate, but there are nice floral, tropical and nectarine notes leading to a short finish.  (*** ½+)

Fat Bastard 2021 Chardonnay
$14.95 - #563130
Nice mouth feel with a little spicy character, plus notes of apple, tangerine and good acid punch.  (*** ½)

Fortant 2020 Cabernet Sauvignon Terroir D'Altitude
This is simple and basic to its core ... Drinkable and remarkably friendly on the palate.  (***+)

La Loup Blanc 2019 Soif de Loup Rouge
$19.95 - #20955
A Cabernet/Syrah blend that grabs the nose and mouth and gives them both a shake. Floral character meets red fruit in a pleasant, easy drinking, palate friendly wine.  (*** ½+)

Louis Bernard, 2021 Cotes Du Rhone – Blanc
$14.95 - #589432
Tropical notes meet grapefruit and citrus pith with a well-balanced acid backing. Pretty pleasing to the palate, and easy sipping.  (*** ½+)

Jadot BourgLouis Jadot 2020 Chardonnay Bourgogne
$29.95 - #933077
Anyone looking for French know-how mixed with delicacy and elegance need look no further than this Louis Jadot offering. The fruit is the shining star from start to finish.  (****)


German Wine Group 2020 Original “G” Homeland
$16.40 - #24213
Not too sweet, not too dry, but a very pleasant and pure expression of Riesling ... I was surprised because to see the “Original G” makes me thing of Gewurztraminer, not Riesling.  (*** ½)


Cavino 2021 Naoyssa / Xinomsvro
$14.60 - #15483
Very lights and easy drinking: cranberry, cola and white pepper. Not much more to say about this one, except maybe give it a good chill before drinking.  (*** ½)


Carpineto 2020 Rosso di Montalcino
You really have to admire the smooth, silkiness this wine delivers, but it's not just that, it's the black raspberry, black cherry and spiced-plum... The acidity and tannins are on point and it remains a delicious wine even after it's been open 8 to 10 hours. Sure, the tannins bite back in the first hour or two, but hours 3 and onward smooth right out.  (****)

CastelGiocondo 2017 Brunello di Montalcino Frescobaldi Gio
$54.95 - #650432
Tenuta Frescobaldi has purchased or partnered with some of Italy’s most iconic brands, like Luce and Ornellaia. This wine is one they made all on their own. Giocondo is their most famous and highly collectible bottle. It’s got fruit, it’s got spice and it’s got longevity on its side.  (****+)

Cavallina 2020 Grillo/ Pinot Grigio
Interesting combination: a popular grape with what-the-hell-is-that? It's Asian pear meets grapefruit, green apple and beeswax.  (*** ½)

FontanaFredda 2018 Barolo
$34.05 - 20214
Easy drinking and juicy with a good acidity and tannin structure... But there's nothing that creates a wow moment here ... It's tasty without being exciting. I've had better Fontanafredda Barolo, this one just sits there in the good category.  (*** ½)

FontanaFredda 2017 Barolo - Serralunga d'Alba
Really nice concentration of flavor here that really makes one stand up and take notice. Black cherry, blackberry leads the charge through a juicy core and lovely balance of acidity and tannins. Now this is more along the lines of the FontanaFredda Barolo I am looking for.  (****+)

Chiarlo BarbMichele Chiarlo 2018 Barbaresco
$36.95 - #583260
Barolo and Barbaresco come from the same part of Italy (Piedmont) and are made with the same grape (Nebbiolo) but that’s where the similarities end. This Barbaresco is light and supple with cranberry and sour cherry notes. The finish is long and supple and you’ll look forward to the tertiary characteristics coming through – then this will be even more special.  (****+)

Michele Chiarlo 2018 Barolo – Palas
$76.95 - #21870 (packaged with the Langhe Nebbiolo)
Approachable with good acidity, nice red fruit and a great palate. It’s not a Barolo for purists, and maybe not even one to age for years to come, but this one is ready to go right this minute, it opens quick and drinks smooth and silky – it’ll also introduce folks to the beauty of Barolo.  (*** ½+)

Michele Chiarlo 2020 Langhe Nebbiolo – Palas
$76.95 - #21870 (packaged with the Barolo)
I really dig the straight Nebbiolo wines with no shackles on them as to how it gets made. Soft and earthy from the start; there's a pretty floral fragrance that lures one in, while the palate is juicy with notes of cranberry and sour cherry. The uninitiated might confuse this for a Pinot Noir.  (****)

Santa Margherita 2021 Pinot Grigio
$22.95 - #106540
Look, if you've ever had a Pinot Grigio in Ontario from Italy, I'll bet one was this Santa Margherita version. It is one of the most popular white wines at the LCBO. I usually figure this wine does not require more of a push than what it already gets, but having tried the 2021 with a seafood dinner, I can tell you it works beautifully. So maybe it's time to take another look.  (*** ½+)

Umberto Cesari 2020 Rubicone 'Moma'
A very basic, neutral Italian red that seems to play off the dichotomy of sweet fruit versus dry fruit, you think it’ll be dry (nose) but the palate delivers smmoth and easy sweet fruit ... It's a nice wine, but it's not going to blow you away with sophistication and elegance. It'll lure you in because it's cheap and cheerful.  (***)

Umberto Cesari 2021 Costa di Rose
This Italian rosé is made from the Sangivese grape, the one you find in Chianti, Brunello, Vino Nobile and so many others. In recent memory, Italy has not followed tradition with dry rosé, but I'm glad to report word has got to Cesari and this one is dry. Nectarine, peach, orange zest, floral and even a delicate hint of beeswax... It's light and easy with decent acidity and the bottle is also quite distinctive.  (*** ½+)

Val D'Oca 2020 Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore Millesimato Val D'Oca
$19.95 - #340570
On the label it says extra dry, which means just a bit of sweetness; fruity and pleasant, easy drinking with that slight kick of sweetness that is backed up by some nice acidity: pineapple, pear puree and well-balanced.  (*** ½+)


Bodegas Atalaya 2020 Laya
$13.25 - #132605
A rich Spanish red that just layers in the aromas and flavors. Starting with black licorice and coffee, then in sweeps the black plum and spiced-cherry; then finally the last layer sees bittersweet chocolate covered coffee beans sprinkled on top.  (*** ½+)

Torres 2019 Celeste Crianza
There are notes of both red and black fruit battling it out for supremacy, all the while subtle cedar and a spicy herbaceous mix backs it all up; finish has a medium length and mocha-like notes.  (****)


Chateau Ste Michelle 2019 Cabernet Sauvignon
$22.95 - #269357
A typical juicy black fruit number from Ste Michelle and Washington State, with lots of mocha and cherry on the finish – this is pure, easy drinking Cabernet.  (*** ½+)

WestmountWestmount 2019 Pinot Noir
$29.95 - #10704
A real step up for Oregon Pinot Noir; lots of depth in the dark fruit department, and lovely complexity from first to last sip. Sure, it has those signature characteristics — earthiness and cherry notes—but then it doubles down on that Oregon beauty with concentration and exuberance. Cellar potential of five-years-plus.  (****+)



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