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Dec. 15 - Wine Awards Canada - Charting 339 of Ontario's Best ~ Toasting Ontario's Best Sparklers from Brut to Gently Sweet

Dec. 8 - A Sparkling Vintages Release ~ But buy carefully

Dec. 1 - Holiday Gifting ~ The twin pack is the way to go

Nov. 24 - Eight Buys from Today's Vintages Release

Nov. 17 - Introducing the Signature Selection

Nov. 10 - 2005 Burgundy ~ The wine gurus like it!

Nov. 3 - Magic in Montreal ~ Le Marché an Inspiration for Local Wineries

Oct. 27 - Scary Times at Vintages ~ From Tricks to Treats

Oct. 20 -Best of the West

Oct. 13 -Today at Vintages ~ Bordeaux and Much More

Oct. 6 - Wine Auction Fever ~ Confessions of a Wine Auction Junkie ~ Forget Screaming Eagle and pass the Rum

Sep. 29 - Southern French Accents

Sep. 22 - Perfect for an Autumn day ~ Is that a bottle of spicy wine under your kilt?

Sep. 15 - A Celebration of the Ontario's harvest ~ Faces behind great wines

Sep. 8 - Reel Wines for Real Film Lovers ~ Can't snuggle? Here's what to smuggle! ~ Plus Ontario Recommendations

Sep. 1 - Dust off your Lederhosen ~ Austrian Wines Finally Unleashed in Vintages

Aug. 25 - Summer Twilight Selections ~ Spanish Synergy

Aug. 18 - The Wines of Chile ~ Soaring to the peaks of the Andes

Aug. 11 - Discovering Greece - a wine odyssey ~ Splendid Assyrtiko from Santorini

Aug. 4 - Spain - From the Classics to the Cutting Edge ~ Revving up for Rioja

Jul. 28 - Days of Wine & Roses no more! ~ Under $10 wines a rare breed

Jul. 21 - Que Sera, Syrah ~  Big, Smoky and Beautiful

Jul. 14 - Finding the best wine matches ~ Sizzling Seafood at Scaramouche

Jul. 7 - Sizzling Sauvignon Blanc ~ Vintages Best Buy Whites

Jun. 30 - In search of the Ontario Idol ~ Tracking down the best for Canada Day

Jun. 23 - Vintages Price Hikes ~ Hitting the customer where it hurts

Jun. 16 - Life After Yellow Tail

Jun. 9 - Rosé Rules ~ From serious to casual, unearthing that ambidextrous rosé

Jun. 2 - The ones that didn't get away! ~ Unearthing recent best buys - all under $20

May. 26 - New Zealand’s Natural Gems ~ The best of whites

May. 19 - Alsatian with that Crustacean?

May. 12 - Paradoxical Portugal ~ Old World Grapes with New World Appeal

May. 5 - Toronto's First Private Import Wine Fair ~ Private Imports Picking up Steam Despite LCBO Bullying

Apr. 28 - Toasting Mom with France’s Finest

Apr. 21 - Prime Time for California

Apr. 14 - Victims of Vintages

Apr. 7 - Delicious Ciders that won't break the Easter bank

Mar. 31 - Racy Rieslings ~ Perfect Springtime Sippers

Mar. 24 - Quest for the Best of Portable Potables ~ The Battle of the Boxes

Mar. 17 - For the love of the Irish ~ A Greek wine for St. Patrick's Day

Mar. 10 - VDN to the rescue ~ Sublime sweet bargains from southwestern France

Mar. 3 - Canada's greatest pinot noir? ~ If you can’t find the best, try LCJ’s less expensive bargains

Feb. 24 - Cuvée 2007 ~ Ontario winemakers whoop it up

Feb. 17 - Pinot Noir Madness III ~ New Zealand takes another step forward

Feb. 10 - Burgundy Comes to Town ~ Despite Limited Vintages Buys ~ The Good News is Virtual Buying

Feb. 3 - Great Values South of the Equator ~ Both in Vintages & on the General List

Jan. 27 - Napa a go-go ~ Wine Parties vs. Tastings

Jan. 20 - Winemaker Niel Groenewald ~ Pushing the South African Envelope

Jan. 13 - Montreal Passion Vin ~ Delivering Excellence on Every Level

Jan. 6 - Off-the Beaten-Path Wines ~ Hard to Find in Today's Vintages Release

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The ones that didn't get away!
Unearthing recent best buys - all under $20

© Michael Vaughan 2007

National Post Weekly Wine & Spirits Columnist
Saturday, June 2, 2007

To see this article as it appears in the National Post click here 

All listings are automatically linked to the LCBO database
If there is a product that interests you, just click on the name below and you will instantaneously connected with the LCBO database. The product will appear in blue and all you have to do is click on the name again and then the next screen will provide details along with the store search. Just click on store search. The number of bottles in each store is updated nightly. Call the store first to see if stock still remains (each store phone number is listed).

With so many wines appearing every two weeks in each Vintages release, it is easy to miss some exceptional buys. In May, for instance, there were 239 items hit the shelves. As each release has at least one thematic, wine reviewers tend to get trapped into focusing on those highlights. Today, I unearth all those May best buys - all under $20, which almost got away.

First, I am going to focus on key, ready-to-enjoy, fresh, unoaked whites. From Austria's Krems comes a tasty, albeit well-priced, morsel: Sal'mon Groovey 2006 Grüner Veltliner (669606) at $12.95 from the house of Salomon-Undhof. This ultra modern screwcap rendition of a very traditional, Austrian specialty is crisp, very dry, unoaked and medium-light bodied with spicy, yellow grapefruit flavours with a zesty finish.

I was hoping that readers wanting to try Austrian wines might be able to check out JK Wine Bar on Church where some dozen Austrian wines all served in Riedel stemware were supposed to be featured by the glass. Sadly, most of them have sold out. As JK only lists private imports, the JK cupboard is almost bare. With numerous Austrian wines sitting in Vintages, it's a shame that taste treats like the still-available, In-Store-Discovery (aka ISD) Zahel 2005 Gelber Muskateller Classic (23556) at $19.95 are incapable of finding their way on to JK's hallowed list.

Another variety that doesn't get much press is Chenin Blanc. In the May 12th release there were two terrific South African releases at Vintages, both from the Stellenbosch region and from the same producer. The first is the exceptional Ken Forrester 2006 Chenin Blanc (945139) at $16.95, which was an ISD. Only a few cases of this lovely, dry, well structured, honeyed, ripe pear flavoured ISD remain of the 53 cases of 6 originally ordered.

Somewhat cheaper at only $11.95, is the fragrant, bright, floral, ripe lemon-apricot driven Ken Forrester 2006 Petit Chenin (29322), which also happens to be 100% Chenin Blanc. It too comes with a screwcap closure, but unlike its higher priced brother, hundreds of cases remain.

A surprisingly sleeper from Italy's Veneto shouldn't be missed - Tenuta Sant'Antonio's 2005 Soave Superiore Monte Ceriani (29843) at $17.95. Its gently honeyed, spicy, nicely structured, ripe lemon-melon flavours make it a perfect companion with fresh seafood.

Closer to home, Henry of Pelham 2006 Pinot Blanc (618827) at $14.95 is another good choice for seafood. This bona fide Canadian wine comes with the official VQA Niagara Peninsula designation meaning that it is 100% Canadian content. As for quality, happily it's pretty tasty with crisp, fairly light bodied, spicy, melon-lemon flavours. Originally released last summer, it's actually showing better today than 9 months ago.

If you are looking for something with just a hint of sweetness, Jean-Baptiste 2005 Riesling Kabinett (480517) at $15.95 is a crowd pleaser and perfect afternoon sipper. From Germany's Rheinhessen, the honeyed, spicy, juicy, ripe apple-melon flavours will hit the spot when served chilled.

Moving on to reds, here are two winners. From Italy, the well priced, accessible, fruity, Sicilian IGT Poderi del Sole 2003 Nero d'Avola Terra di Levante (26054) at $15.95 offers great, ready-to-enjoy value. It's harmonious, tangy, plummy, ripe red cherry flavours will go with almost anything that comes with a with tomato based sauce.

Finishing up with one of the best buys of the release, don't miss the deliciously, fruity-juicy Del Fin del Mundo 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon Reserva 2005 (31179) at $13.95. It has great extract and loads of black cherry purée flavours with a slightly cedary finish. At this price, who cares if it tastes a bit like Syrah, Malbec and/or Merlot - it's perfect with BBQ ribs.

National Post readers can review all my May tasting notes in Vintage Assessments using the npreader password click here

Coming up

Tuesday, June 5 - Wines of Alsace and Rhone Valley Tasting (Trade Only)
This trade only event will feature around 300 wines from Alsace and Rhone Valley. Held at Carlu - 444 Yonge St., 7th floor, from 2:00 to 6:00 pm. To see the list of wines that will be presented from Alsace click here, for the wines from Rhone Valley click here. For more information please click here. For reservation to this trade only event please email

Friday, June 8-9 - Artevino Wine Weekend
[Belleville, Ontario] The tasting will be held at Ritchie Room - 270 Front St., Belleville, starting at 6:00 pm. Tickets are $35 per person. For more information and reservations contact Quinte Arts Council at 613-962-1232 or visit

Saturday, June 9 - Artevino Gold Medal Tasting Dinner
[Belleville, Ontario] Starting at 6:00 pm. Tickets are $150 per person.

Sunday, June 10 - Toronto Taste 2007
This event will feature over 50 of the top chefs in the city showcase their culinary creations in tandem with fantastic wine, beer and spirits. Held at Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre - 6 Garamond Court, starting at 6:00 pm. Tickets are $225 per person. Contact the Second Harvest at 416-408-2594 or visit or click here for the ticket order form.

2001 - 2007 Tasting Note Database
Our tasting note database from December 31, 2000 to May  2007, covers every Vintages release product for the past 78 months. There are more than 15,000 notes in the database data. Just enter the name of the product, supplier name or CSPC number. Or you can search by type of wine, country of origin, even wine agent! Nothing could be easier. Also you can get information on the agent by clicking on the agent’s name, as well as current LCBO store inventory by clicking on "Check LCBO Availability", which will automatically tell you the number of bottles at LCBO as of last night.

To use our Tasting Notes Database: click here

** For All Visitors **
Vintages Releases
To see the complete list of upcoming products from the
June 9 release, including In-Store Discovery items,
click here (sorted by date of release).
You can also see it sorted by agent click here

To see the complete list of upcoming products from the
June 23 release, including In-Store Discovery items,
click here (sorted by date of release).
You can also see it sorted by agent click here

Copyright Food & Beverage Testing Institute of Canada 2007
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