The Wine Times
The Wine Times

A former sommelier’s opinions/rants about the LCBO’s new vintages releases

This week’s release is all about NEW, never before released wines!

Feb 17, 2019

Hey guys,

This week’s release is all about NEW, never before released wines!…HOW EXCITING!…that means, there’s a bunch of stuff I haven’t tried, BUT the more important underlying theme is “general disappointment”.

Some of this week’s wines are labeled, in red, with,
“Late arrival. Product may not be available at release time” 

Better late than never? 
When you have a monopoly, late doesn’t exist.

Good luck finding these beauties:

Not sure, Japan

You wouldn’t know it given the state of this bi-polar vortex we’re living through, but brown booze drinking season is coming to a close. In 6 or so weeks you’ll all be cranking G&Ts on some patio admiring the sidewalks as they come out of hibernation, covered in dog shit <3 <3 <3. But 6 weeks is plenty of time to polish off this guy. Most of the whiskies I’ve tried from this part of the world have been in the Scotch style. This lil gem is made from a corn and malt mix and is more Bourbon-like in its behaviour. A good way to say eff you to last legs of winter.

Burgundy, France

This sparkler is new to the LCBO. I haven’t tried it, but it caught my eye bc the price is pretty great and it’s a blanc de blanc…that means it’s made from 100% Chardonnay. For me, BdeBs are often more elegant, subtle, nuanced than when Pinot Noir/Meunier is added (those are the 2 red grapes traditionally used in Champagne/Burgundian bubs). This producer is known for its Beaujolais…which also piqued my curiosity/interest.

North Coast, CA

I’m not really into Cali Cabs but I served (and subsequently drank) cases of this stuff when I worked at Nota Bene on Queen W. (RIP). It’s a good buy; very crowd pleasing, very predictable. When I say it’s v predictable, what I really mean is that it’s over oaked…but that’s Cali’s thing and god bless them for it…there are bazillions of people out there who love it…I’ll even throw some back every once in a while.If you like Chateauneuf du Pape, quit wasting yer money and buy Lirac (from a good producer) instead. Jaume is fantastic…so was 2015. Be warned, this guy is a bit of a beast.

Tasmania, Australia

Those of you who have been reading this trash rag for a while know that I don’t like recommending Pinot Noir, ESPECIALLY ONES I’VE NEVER TRIED…like this guy. So why in the hell am I recommending it? Well, this producer makes a killer Riesling…so I know they’ve got some chops. And judging by the tasting notes I’ve read, it’s gonna be decent…it’ll taste somewhere between a Cali and an Oregon Pinot…BUT it’s Pinot, so there’s a good chance you’ll hate it (but be embarrassed to tell anyone bc yer supposed to like Pinot).

Campania, Italy

If you’re not a big fan of white wine, it’s probs bc you’ve been drinking super lean, clean, acidic, shit. One day, you’ll try a white wine that’ll change your life and you’ll regret all the years you misspent focusing on red. This wine isn’t gonna change your life (if life changing wines cost $18.95, I’d be on my 3rd liver by now) BUT it’s a step in the right direction. This wine is made from an ancient varietal called Greco…but that’s not important. What’s important is that this thing has character, it’s got an interesting nose, it’s got something to say…it’s not boring (like 77% of the white wine on the planet).

 Sicily, Italy

weeks ago studying the mostly bare shelves when a Vintages sales guy asked me, “Ma’am, can I help you with anything?” I was looking for a natural wine, so I (foolishly) accepted his offer. He walked me over to the only natural wine they had…a Sicilian white from Etna made exclusively from red grapes. Based on his JOB AS A WINE SALESPERSON IN THE VINTAGES SECTION OF A LARGE LCBO, I (foolishly) assumed that he knew more than eff all about wine, so I asked him, “Is it made from Nerello?” (Nerello Mascalese is a Sicilian red grape I hold near/dear to my heart). He looked at me quizzically and proceeded to wine/man-splain to me that the wine was made from a grape called Etna Rosso and that I was an idiot for thinking otherwise (Etna Rosso is NOT a grape). I thanked him for his sub-par service and sent him away. When he was outta eye-shot, I picked up the bottle, turned it over and saw “Nerello Mascalese” written in ALL CAPS on the back label. I bought something else and raged outta there. This is not that white, it’s a ROSSO (aka red) from ETNA made (mostly) from NERELLO MASCALESE (fruit, smoke, spice, earth, firm tannins, good acid, medium body). To top it off, the LCBO misspelled the name of this beauty (it’s dei DAINI, not dei DIANI).
The label is cool tho…so there’s that.