Vintage Assessments Home Page

Recent Articles

Nov. 19 - Beaujolais Nouveau Celebrates 54 Years

Nov. 12 - Vintages Release Best Buys ~ From California to Bordeaux

Nov. 5 - "Eyes Wide Shut" ~ Taste, texture and scent in motion

Oct. 29 - Tricks & Treats in Today's Vintages Release ~ Some Awesome Aussi Highlights

Oct. 22 - Perfect Fall Libations ~ Obscure varieties from Welschriesling to Semillon

Oct. 15 - Hop Scotch ~ The biggest whisky release on record

Oct. 8 - A Toast to the Turkey ~ Many whites, some reds and even a sparkling rosé

Oct. 1 - Barolo the King of Italian Reds

Sep. 24 - A Flood of Upcoming Tastings ~ but not a Vintages Classics in Sight

Sep. 17 - A Great Ontario Harvest ~ From just-released wines to a terrific new guide

Sep. 10 - Film Fest Fizz ~ Finding that Oscar-Winning Drink

Sep. 3 - Delicious Long Weekend Drinking ~ All but one under $20!

Aug. 27 - A new way of coding drinkability ~ And getting the best out of that bottle

Aug. 20 - The "New" Vintages Catalogue

Aug. 13 - Bargains Galore ~ Spirited Summer Matchmakers ~ From Boulard Calvados to Grand Marnier

Aug. 6 - Dealing with Disappointments ~ This Bicyclette has a flat tire!

Jul. 30 - LCBO Alternatives? ~ Regulations handcuff importers to LCBO warehouse

Jul. 23 - A French Sparkler & Greek Whites in Today's Vintages Hit Parade ~ In-Store Discoveries Reviews Disappear

Jul. 16 - French Rosé Rocks ~ Too bad you can't find them at the LCBO

Jul. 9 - Today's Vintages Release ~ Small in size but big in buys!

Jul. 2 - The Wines of Canada by John Schreiner ~ Interesting but a little thin

Jun. 25 - Boning Up for Canada Day! ~ ABC - Anything But Chardonnay A Best Buy ~ Trilogy of Grass-Free Sauvignon Blanc

Jun. 18 - Austria's Wines on a roll

Jun. 11 - Where there's Chardonnay there's Hope ~ 2,879 cases at Vintages! ~ Plus 79 New Items in Today's Vintages Release

Jun. 11 - Bottle of the Week
Kim Crawford 2004 Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc ~ Kick starts the screwcap revolution

Jun. 4 - Bodega Norton 2004 Chardonnay ~ A too-good-to-be-true Argentina gem from the General List ~ LCBO Price Book now a thing of the past!

Jun. 4 - Bottle of the Week
Codorniu Brut Clasico ~ Puts some sparkling Classics to shame

May. 28 - A Trip in a Glass ~ Fine wines to transport you to far-away destinations

May. 28 - Bottle of the Week
Zoom-Zoom-Zoomers! ~ Campari: Seeing Red ~ Setting the World Ablaze

May. 21 - Toasting Queen Victoria ~ With Discounted Reds! ~ Grab these bargains while they last!

May. 21 - Bottle of the Week
Putting a little spice into your Victoria Day Long Weekend

May. 14 - Sprouting Up Like Tulips ~ Excellent 2003 Whites at Vintages

May. 14 - Bottle of the Week
2004 Terra Boa Blanco ~ A Bargain Priced Springtime White from Portugal

May. 7 - Prince Edward County's Field of Dreams ~ Long Dog Winery - No Long Shot!

May. 7 - Bottle of the Week
For Mother's Day! ~ Veuve Clicquot La Grande Dame Champagne ~ A priceless bubbly for that priceless mother!

Apr. 30 - An increasingly confusing Vintages catalogue ~ Hard to find what you are looking for & plan purchases

Apr. 30 - Bottle of the Week
Rosemount Shiraz on a Roll!

Apr. 23 - The Wine Glass ~ The Key to getting the most out of your wines

Apr. 23 - Bottle of the Week
Making the Rum Transition

Apr. 16 - All we are saying is give pink a chance

Apr. 16 - Bottle of the Week
Talus 2002 Zinfandel ~ A Zinfully Good Anti-Luddite!

Apr. 9 - Don't be screwed by a bad cork ~ Screwcaps are the answer

Apr. 9 - Bottle of the Week
2003 Mouton Cadet Blanc ~ Canada's best selling white Bordeaux

Apr. 2 - From Fizz to Pop ~ Putting some zip into Spring

Apr. 2 - Bottle of the Week
Underberg the Ultimate Digestif! ~ Only a full bottle will do!

Mar. 26 - Canada's #1 Wine Festival 27th ~ Vancouver Playhouse International Wine Festival

Mar. 26 - Bottle of the Week
Smooth & Satisfying ~ A Luxury French Brandy at a Great Price!

Mar. 19 - German Classics for Easter

Mar. 19 - Bottle of the Week
A liqueur that Grows on Trees!

Mar. 12 - Ontario's Vinous Peaks ~ Great quality directly from the wineries!

Mar. 12 - Bottle of the Week
A Special Treat for St. Patrick's Day

Mar. 5 - Today at Vintages ~ Chardonnays starting at $8.95!

Mar. 5 - Bottle of the Week
Cynar - A One-of-a-Kind Aperitif

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Boning Up for Canada Day!
ABC - Anything But Chardonnay
A Best Buy Trilogy of Grass-Free Sauvignon Blanc

© Michael Vaughan 2005

National Post Weekly Wine & Spirits Columnist
Saturday, June 25, 2005


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).

It is ABC time (anything but Chardonnay) in today’s first of summer Vintages release. Increasingly, this means Sauvignon Blanc. Meanwhile, it seems that many wine writers classify this wine into two types: pricey stuff for connoisseurs and cheap stuff for the unwashed. As fond as I am of the refreshing nature of this grape, some simply don’t like the extremely dry, tart, often bitter, herbaceous style of well-respected labels, which they say taste like “the screeching sound of chalk on a blackboard.”

Unfortunately, those looking for a mellower style will not find it in today’s Vintages release – nary a single “must buy” Sauvignon Blanc! I had great expectations after last year’s stunning Peninsula Ridge 2003 Sauvignon Blanc, but the just-released 2004 ($18.95) is just too tart for comfort!

Fortunately, a recent Sauvignon Blanc blind tasting revealed a trilogy of excellent “grass free” best buys on the General List. Starting with California, Turning Leaf 2003 Sauvignon Blanc (409839) at $10.95 shows an abundance of fresh, ripe melon fruit. It is dry, harmonious and perfectly accessible – no sounds of screeching sound of chalk here!

As freshness is essential, the current bottling lot number (LQ251004CC) appears on the glass about 10 cm above the base and is very hard to see! This is important because the current shipment of 2003 is even better than what I tasted some 8 months ago!

Also on the General List, this time from Chile, is another great destination white: Casillero del Diablo 2004 Sauvignon Blanc (578641) at $10.95. This “look no grassiness” charmer is the brightest of the three with lots of tangy, white peach and yellow grapefruit flavours. It comes in a fancy, shiny, black metal tube.

From British Colombia, check out Jackson-Triggs 2004 Okanagan Sauvignon Blanc (593111) at $11.95. This new listing is the biggest with 13.7% alcohol. It is full-bodied and very zesty with tangerine-citrus-grapefruit flavours and a solid, slightly peppery finish. For additional information on Jackson-Triggs Okanagan Estate click here

Getting back to today’s Vintages ABCs, perhaps the most interesting release today comes from the sandy vineyards adjoining the French Mediterranean from a grape called Picpoul. Adored by local crowds, it is served with overflowing platters of fresh local seafood. While there is no question that Domaine La Grangette 2003 Picpoul de Pinet (653196) at $12.95 would taste better on the spot, it’s still pretty good here. When freshly opened, the subtle nose has gently honeyed floral aromas. It is dry, medium-light bodied and very tangy with ripe lemon-apricot-melon flavours and a slightly bitter, refreshing finish. Drink soon upon opening, as the fruit tends to dissipate, as the bottle remains open.

In terms of quality, today’s best value white is d’Arenberg 2004 ‘The Money Spider’ Roussanne (656710) at $18.95 from South Australia’s McLaren Vale. At 14.5%, it stands up and says hello with its spicy, honeyed, melon-lime-lemon purée nose. On the palate it is harmonious and mouthfilling with ripe lemon-melon flavours and a lingering, dried pear-tangerine finish. Perfect with seafood or poultry - drink it today or let it age for 12-18 months.

Sadly, it is slim pickings in today’s reds. From Burgundy, I had great hopes for 2002 La Buxynoise Bourgogne at only $16.95, but found it slightly sour and light-bodied. It isn’t a destination. Despite this vintage’s reputation, none of today’s four 2002 Burgundies (from $44.95 to $68.95 range) are worth drinking at the moment. They are closed and tight! If I had one to buy, it would be the well-structured Frederic Magnien 2002 Nuits-Saint-Georges Vieilles Vignes (586826) at $49.95 with its deep intense purple colour. The complex, spicy, plummy, red cherry driven, red pepper flavours need time to evolve – perhaps 2-3 years.

For that upcoming Canada Day BBQ, two local reds caught my eye.  The first is Nk’Mip Cellars 2002 Merlot Okanagan Valley (626416) at $16.95 would be best with steak. Behind the very deep intense purple colour is a bright, pomegranate-plum nose. It is very dry, solid and slightly peppery with plum, persimmon and dried cherry flavours with a cedary finish. For additional information on Nk’Mip Cellars click here

Closer to home is the very fine Jackson-Triggs Delaine Vineyard 2002 Cabernet/Merlot (989269) at $29.95. This blend of 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Merlot and 25% Cabernet Franc has a very attractive, complex, slightly earthy, plumy nose. Although still youthful, it is quite rich with ripe plum and red pepper purée flavours along with a lingering, lime-tinged, chocolate finish. It would be best with a BBQ steak.

Ready for the best buy red of the release? It is the Vintages Essentials Raimat 2001 Abadia (935460) at $13.95 from Spain’s Costers del Segre region. This blend of 45% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Merlot, 25% Tempranillo and 5% Syrah was matured for 12 months in American oak (50% new) and a further 6 months in French barrels. The delicious, gently cedary, bright, ripe plum and cherry flavours would be perfection with juicy, smoky BBQ ribs.

For dessert, a half bottle of Château des Charmes 2000 Late Harvest Riesling (432930) at $17.95 hits the spot. This almost mini icewine is a perfect after dinner sipper or perhaps with foie gras. It has a sweet, honeyed, candied lemon-grapefruit peel nose. On the palate, the tangy, sweet, ripe grapefruit flavours are followed up with a spicy, lingering, candied pineapple finish.

The June edition of my Vintage Assessments newsletter is now available to National Post readers for free on my website (click here to see)  - happy Canada Day!

Last Minute Updates

Beerbistro's annual Summer Beer Festival
Saturday, June 25 from 2-7pm

Admission: $25 per person plus applicable taxes
18 King Street East, Toronto - call 416-861-9872.
This is your chance to sample a multitude of beerbistro beers,
some brought in especially for the occasion!

For $25 admission, you receive:
· 5 tasting tickets (Additional tasting tickets are available)
· A sampler plate of beerbistro 'beerbecue' beer cuisine
· A tasting glass to take home
· A guide to the beers of the fest
Stick around for free live jazz beginning at 8 pm with the Gene Poolboys


LCBO accessories sale starts Monday, June 27

There are 181 LCBO accessories going on sale on Monday, June 27th.
Availability can be spotty and to find the items you have to call the LCBO Infoline at 416-365-5900 (as all discontinued items are removed from the LCBO website).  Whiskey Rocks t-shirts (150979), for instance, were originally priced at $9.95 are now $4.95!
To see the full list click here

 LCBO Database Blues
It simply doesn’t make sense that the LCBO refuses to show customers the store location/availability of discontinued items!

2001-2002-2003-2004-2005 Tasting Note Database
Our tasting note database from December 31, 2000 to May 2005, covers every Vintages release product for the past 53 months. There are more than 9,000 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 July 2005 Release

To see the complete list of upcoming
162 products click here (sorted by date of release). It includes the number of cases, which wines were presented by the LCBO, our agent ID for every product,
as well as, the
In Store D
iscoveries” for July.
You can also see it sorted by agent
click here  

Copyright Food & Beverage Testing Institute of Canada 2005
Prior written permission is required for any form of reproduction
 (electronic or other wise) and or quotation.
Contact Michael Vaughan at