MONASTERIO DE LAS VIÑAS GRAND RESERVA 2013, DOP Ariñena, Spain


Cost: $18.95
Grape: Garnacha, Tempranillo, Cariñena, Cabernet Sauvignon
Category: Red Wine
Location: LCBO Vintages
Country: Spain
Region: Ariñena
Format: 750 mL
Producer: Grandes Vinos
Alcohol:  13.5% Alcohol/Vol.

A nicely aged wine full of  flavour & elegance while all under $19. Score: 88/100

Tasting Note: Medium ruby in colour with good acidity, a medium+ intense nose, smooth tannin & a long length on the finish. Wine features Bing cherries, red currants, bramble fruits, plum, ripe tamarind, tobacco, cedar, eucalyptus & aged balsamic.

Negatives: None

Interesting Point: Aged 2 years in oak barrels with a further 3 years in bottle before being released.

Pairings: Drink now or over the next 8-10 years on its own or pair it with Brazilian skirt steak with golden garlic butter.

My Opinion: Recommended

Best Buy

Tasted: August 5, 2020

LCBO: 82024

NIAGARA COLLEGE TEACHING WINERY TRADITIONAL METHOD ROSÉ, NV, VQA Niagara-On-The-Lake, Niagara Region, Ontario, Canada


Cost: $28.95
Grape: Pinot Noir & Chardonnay
Category: Sparkling Wine
Location: Winery
Country: Canada
Region: Niagara-On-The-Lake, Niagara Region, Ontario
Format: 750 mL
Producer: Niagara College Teaching Winery
Alcohol:  12.0% Alcohol/Vol.

Niagara College Teaching Winery winemaker; Gavin Robertson, has outdid himself with his new traditional method Rosé sparkling wine, & I am putting it as one of Canada’s top Rosé sparkling wines that I have the pleasure of tasting.

Tasting Note: Pale salmon in colour with a fine mouse, good acidity, a medium intense nose & a long length on the finish. Wine features light yeast, strawberry, red apples, pear, kiwi & hazelnut.

Negatives: None

Interesting Point: The Teaching Winery now has 4 sparkling wines (Blanc de Blancs, Brut, Rosé & Riesling. The Riesling sparkling I will be reviewing next Sunday), & I love the colour labeling of all 4 wines.

Pairings: Drink now or over the next 5-7 years on its own or pair it with Cajun spiced fries, especially made by the Teaching Winery chef; Tarun, from his food truck now on the premise serving excellent food.

My Opinion: Highly Recommended

Top Pick

Score: 95/100

Tasted: August 2, 2020

NIAGARA COLLEGE TEACHING WINERY BALANCE CABERNET FRANC 2018, VQA Niagara-on-the-Lake, Niagara Region, Ontario, Canada


Cost: $18.95
Grape: Cabernet Franc
Category: Red Wine
Location: Winery
Country: Canada
Region: Niagara-on-the-Lake, Niagara Region, Ontario
Format: 750 mL
Producer: Niagara College Teaching Winery
Alcohol:  13.0% Alcohol/Vol.

It infrequently happens when I give a wine under $19 with a Top Pick, (Price Not Withstanding), & this Cab Franc gets into that category as the wine exudes elegance with mouth-watering fruits, spice & beautiful fragrant violets on the nose.

Tasting Note: Light to medium ruby in colour with good acidity, an intense nose, smooth tannin & a long length on the finish. Wine features bramble fruit, red currants, plum, white pepper, arugula & violets on the nose.

Negatives: None

Interesting Point: Have it slightly chilled to 17-18 C in order to bring out even more of the freshness of the fruit.

Pairings: Drink now or over the next 5-7 years on its own or pair it with arugula & prosciutto wood oven pizza.

My Opinion: Highly Recommended

Top Pick & Best Buy

Tasted: July 29, 2020

ANTHONIJI RUPERT L’OMARINS BLANC DE BLANCS 2013, Méthode Cap Classique, Western Cape, South Africa


Cost: $24.95
Grape: Chardonnay
Category: Sparkling Wine
Location: LCBO Vintages
Country: South Africa
Region: Western Cape
Format: 750 mL
Producer: Anthonij Rupert Wyne
Alcohol:  12.5% Alcohol/Vol.

A delightful vintage Blanc de Blancs that is lip-smacking taut, zesty & crisp with fresh fruits & some stone minerality. If this was made in Champagne the cost would be 3 times as high.

Tasting Note: Medium straw in colour with fine mousse, good acidity, a medium+ intense nose & a long length on the finish. Wine features lemon zest, pink grapefruit, pear, green apple, peach, orange & sandstone.

Negatives: None

Interesting Point: Love the classic label & bottle etching.

Pairings: Drink now or over the next 10 years on its own or pair it with seared pork chops with spicy peach sauce.

My Opinion: Highly Recommended

Top Pick & Best Buy

Tasted: July 26, 2020

LCBO: 15681

LONE BIRCH CHARDONNAY 2018, Yakima Valley, Washington, United States of America


Cost: $19.95 (Clearance Price: $16.00)
Grape: Chardonnay
Category: White Wine
Location: LCBO Vintages
Country: United States of America
Region: Yakima Valley, Washington
Format: 750 mL
Producer: Lone Birch Winery
Alcohol:  13.4% Alcohol/Vol.

Crisp, dry with lots of citric notes

Tasting Note: Medium straw in colour with good acidity, a medium intense nose, & an average length on the finish. Wine features lemon, dragon fruit, pear, honeydew melon, limestone & honeysuckle on the nose.

Negatives: None

Pairings: Drink now or over the next 3-4 of years on its own or pair it with seafood medley in a garlic sauce.

My Opinion: Recommended

Tasted: July 23, 2020

LCBO: 13311

COLLIER CREEK BIG ROOSTER CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2016, Lodi, California, United States of America


Cost: $19.95 (Clearance Price: $16.00)
Grape: Cabernet Sauvignon
Category: Red Wine
Location: LCBO Vintages
Country: United States of America
Region: Lodi, California
Format: 750 mL
Producer: Collier Creek Winery
Alcohol:  13.5% Alcohol/Vol.

It’s always a nice surprise to me when I try a California Cab that is under $20 that has substance & not sweet or high alcohol

Tasting Note: Medium light ruby in colour with good acidity, a medium intense nose, moderate tannins & a long length on the finish. Wine features plum, dark cherry, blackberry, blueberry, ripe tamarind, cedar, vanilla bean & espresso.

Negatives: None

Interesting Point: This wine is Certified Green & Sustainable.

Pairings: Drink now or over the next 3-4 of years on its own or pair it with marha pörkölt – Hungarian beef paprika stew.

My Opinion: Recommended

Best Buy

Tasted: July 21, 2020

LCBO: 14428

MALIVOIRE ESTATE GROWN CHARDONNAY 2108, VQA Beamsville Bench, Niagara Region, Ontario, Canada


Cost: $19.95
Grape: Chardonnay
Category: White Wine
Location: LCBO Vintages
Country: Canada
Region: Beamsville Bench, Niagara Region, Ontario
Format: 750 mL
Producer: Malivoire Winery
Alcohol:  12.5% Alcohol/Vol.

Not complex, mineral & citric driven chard that makes this a pleasant summer drinking wine

Tasting Note: Straw to gold in colour with good acidity, a light to medium intense nose & a long length on the finish. Wine features lemon, green apples, pear & limestone.

Negatives: None

Pairings: Drink now or over the next 3-4 of years on its own or pair it with stuffed scallops in a shell.

My Opinion: Recommended

Tasted: July 20, 2020

LCBO: 573147

GRUET SPARKLING BRUT ROSÉ NV, Méthode Champenoise, New Mexico, United States of America


Cost: $26.95
Grape: Pinot Noir
Category: Sparkling Wine
Location: LCBO Vintages
Country: United States of America
Region: New Mexico
Format: 750 mL
Producer: Gruet Winery
Alcohol:  12.0% Alcohol/Vol.

Kudos to the LCBO to bring this sparkling to Ontario so we can experience wines from throughout the US & in this case, New Mexico. Let me just add, this is a wonderful Blanc de Noirs

Tasting Note: Pale salmon hue in colour with fine creamy mousse, good acidity, a medium+ intense nose & a long length on the finish. Wine features brioche, light yeast, strawberry, Spy apple, pear, Rainier cherry & shale.

Negatives: None

Interesting Point: Their story is of French roots and American dreams. https://www.gruetwinery.com/heritage

Pairings: Drink now or over the next 7-10 of years on its own or pair it with spicy seafood paella.

My Opinion: Highly Recommended

Top Pick

Tasted: July 19, 2020

LCBO: 15686

QUAIL’S GATE CHARDONNAY 2018, VQA Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, Canada


Cost: $24.95 (Sale Price Until July 19, 2020: $21.95)
Grape: Chardonnay
Category: White Wine
Location: LCBO Vintages
Country: Canada
Region: Okanagan Valley, British Columbia
Format: 750 mL
Producer: Quail’s Gate
Alcohol:  13.0% Alcohol/Vol.

A simple, yet pleasant drinking Chard that is balanced between the oak & fruit

Tasting Note: Light gold in colour with good acidity, a medium intense nose & a fairly long length on the finish. Wine features lemon, green & red apples, pear, peach, oak spice & limestone.

Negatives: None

Pairings: Drink now or over the next 5-7 of years on its own or pair it with seared scallops on a bed of greens.

My Opinion: Recommended

Tasted: July 18, 2020

LCBO: 377770

BARKAN CLASSIC CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2018, Galilee, Israel


Cost: $20.30 (Clearance Price: $16.30)
Grape: Cabernet Sauvignon
Category: Red Wine
Location: LCBO Vintages
Country: Israel
Region: Galilee
Format: 750 mL
Producer: Barkan Vineyards
Alcohol:  13.5% Alcohol/Vol.

A very pleasant young Cab Sauv without the harsh tannin that has nice juicy black fruits

Tasting Note: Purple to ruby in colour with good acidity, a medium+ intense nose, smooth tannin & a fairly long length on the finish. Wine features blackcurrants, blackberry, dark cherry, tamarind & cedar.

Negatives: None

Pairings: Drink now or over the next 3-4 of years on its own or pair it with braised beef ribs with blackberry glaze.

My Opinion: Recommended

Best Buy

Tasted: July 17, 2020

LCBO: 637785