Wine Forum – 2020 archive

November 27, 2020 – Chile

This week, I am recommending two red wines from Chile. I have to admit proposing second  choices as the ones I originally had in mind would have proven difficult to find ( I always check for availability of wines selected).

Fabre Montmayou Reserva Malbec 2018 – $18.95 – LCBO code 261867. A big, juicy red with blackberries, dried mushrooms and hints of dark earth. Full-bodied, but not overdone with rich, ripe tannins and a flavorful finish. Drink or hold. Score – 92. (James Suckling,, April 2, 2020): Fabre Montmayou Reserva Malbec 2018 | LCBO

Montes Alpha Cabernet Sauvignon – $19.95 – LCBO code 322586.
What do you get when you combine one of Chile’s most renowned producers with the world’s most famous grape? Near perfection, that’s what. Concentrated, complex and generously fruity and fresh. Enjoy this with grilled meats and people you wish to impress. Montes Alpha Cabernet Sauvignon | LCBO
I had not realized Chilean wines were so new to the market. I knew wine had been made in that part of South American essentially since the Conquistadors had taken over the land but it really was not until the late 1900’s that Chilean wines started their entrance on the World Market. Read more….Chilean wine – Wikipedia

November 20, 2020 – Italy – Tuscany

Following a reader’s recommendation last week, our first red wine is Rendola Rosso Toscano – 2011 – $12.35 ( $2,00 rebate until November 29th) – LCBO code 341115.  Medium ruby with a garnet hue; the upfront aromas offer notes of candied fruit, toast, vanilla and plum; the palate is extra-dry with medium body and ripe tannins; flavours carry through with a pleasant vanilla note.
The second one is Il Molino di Grace Classico 2015 – $19.95 – LCBO code 85209;
A fluid, cherry-infused red, with harmony and a vibrant structure lending immediate appeal. Nonetheless, the solid tannins suggest this will age well. Leather, earth and iron notes round out the flavor profile. Best from 2020 through 2035. Score – 92. (Bruce Sanderson,, Oct. 31, 2018).
Chianti wines are probably the most known of Tuscany wines. We are all old enough to remember the famous bottle enclosed in a straw basket (named fiasco “flask”) that we either turned into a lamp or at least a candle holder. Today, for a wine to retain the Chianti name, it must contain a minimum of 80% Sangiovese grape. You can read more about Chianti in the following link: In the 1970s, a new class of wines named “Super Tuscan” emerged. These are great blends worth going after; see here:

November 13, 2020 – Spain

This week we are back in Spain. This first wine was featured about 10 days ago in the Toronto Star: Monasterrio de las Vinas Gran Reserva 2013 – $18.95 – LCBO code 82024; Aged for two years in oak and a further three in bottle before release, this dark, dense blend of Garnacha, Tempranillo and Carignan conveys a powerful sense of elegance and style. Try it with steak.

The second one, is one that I bought for the label and was pleasantly surprised. Unfortunately it is disappearing quickly from LCBO shelves: Dumerte 2017 – $19.95 – LCBO code 74780, You can expect this spooky-looking blend of Monastrell and Syrah to deliver dark fruit, cassis and spice framed by smoke, vanilla and oak. Look for a long, smooth finish, and pair with grilled beef ribs or steak. Like me, you may not be familiar with the Monastrell (Mourvedre) grape which favours the Iberian Peninsula and is also being grown in California and Australia as well as Southern France. To know more about it, please consult the following link:

November 6, 2020 – France

This week I am featuring a Rosé my wife enjoys while cooking and another “go-to” red wine from France

L’Orangeraie Rose Pays d’Oc – $12.40 – LCBO code 279661.

Chateau Argadens Bordeaux Supérieur – $16.45 ($2.50 rebate until November 8) – LCBO code 681643;

The Sichel family of Château Palmer fame has been a part of winemaking in Bordeaux for some six generations. Always a great value, this popular, classically framed blend of Merlot and Cabernet is a great choice for grilled lamb.

You might be interested in knowing more about Rosé which is not a blend of white and red wines which is forbidden by law in France. In fact, it is believed that Rosé were the earliest wines made. In any case, we are all old enough to remember when Mateus from Portugal was in favour! to know more read on….

October 30, 2020 – Spain

The first one is a go-to wine for every day: Gran Feudo Reserva 2015 – $16.95 ($2.00 rebate until November 8th) – LCBO code 479014,; In Spain, Reserva wines must be matured for three years in cask and bottle before release. Easygoing with aromas of cherry and spring flowers. It sizzles with hamburgers, beef empanadas or roast chicken stuffed with olives, almonds and paprika.

The second is Valdemar Inspiracion Seleccion 2015 – $19.95 – LCBO code 166512,; This generous red offers ripe plum and currant flavors accented by licorice, cola and smoky notes. Well-integrated tannins support the polished texture, while juicy acidity keeps this fresh. Balanced, in the modern style. Drink now through 2025. Score – 92. (Tim Matthews,, Feb. 28, 2019)

Most of you know something about All Saint Day (November 1st). As you may know it is a very big day in all Spanish speaking countries.  Back in the 10th century All Saints’ Day was celebrated on May 13th but Popes Gregory III and IV moved it to its present date because they wanted to neutralise the pagan festival, the forerunner of Halloween, that was held at that time of the year. The ancient Gaels believed that this time of the year, sometimes thought of as the Celtic New Year, was when the boundaries between the living and the dead disappeared so the Church linked this with All Saints’ Day. The attached link will give you a bit more info about All Saint Day in Spain
To finish this week, I strongly recommend the movie COCO. It is great for all ages and it is appropriate for Halloween and All Saint Day;

October 23, 2020 – Italy

This week I have two Italian wines for you: Castello di Gabbiano Riserva Chianti Classico 2015 – $18.95 – LCBO code 216309,; an alluring young Chianti Classico, with all the components in the right proportions. Features ample cherry, plum and berry fruit, with iron, earth and tobacco flavors and a firm, dense structure. Excellent length. Sangiovese and Merlot. Best from 2022 through 2036. Smart Buys. Score – 93. (Bruce Sanderson,, Dec. 15, 2019). Very good, but disappearing fast

Provolo Campotorbian Ripasso Valpolicella Superiore 2013 – $19.95 – LCBO code 974402,; 
mature, wood-inflected profile here, with silky-suave texture and balanced acids-alcohol. There’s still more than enough fruit keeping this alive, and intensity and sapidity are both high. Very good length – serious stuff. Score – 90. (John Szabo, MS,, May 30, 2019)
Last week a reader sent me the attached link about Italian Police stopping a fraud on fine (very expensive) wines. The article was originally published in The National Post:

October 16, 2020 – South Africa

However, this week, I would like to focus on South Africa with two recommendations. As some of you may know, I had an expat assignment in Africa and had the opportunity to reside in South Africa for nearly a year after two and half years in Cameroon. As usual, the wines from South Africa available at the LCBO are not the best wines from that country which has been in the wine making for more than 350 years (see attached Wikipedia link)

My first “go-to” recommendation is  Cathedral Cellar Cabernet Sauvignon – $17.95 – LCBO code 328567,; Offering super value, this Cabernet comes from South Africa’s cool Cape. It displays blackcurrant, dark cherry, spice and savoury herbs, all supported by bright acidity. Pair with gourmet burgers or steak-and-kidney pie.
You will find other wines, red and white from the same winery. They are all very good. The Triptych is amazing (score 93!) but very hard to find (LCBO code 53124). Other interesting wines are from Fairview Trust Winery, (, Goats Do Roam  – $13.05 – LCBO 718940: Medium ruby/purple colour with aromas of fruit compote, currant, pepper and spice. Dry, smooth with round tannins, medium body and a good finish.
To really enjoy SA wines, short of travelling there, one can join the South African Wine Society or Contact John Adam:
In preparation for this week, I came across these interesting YouTube videos on wines of South Africa and the challenges the wine industry is facing. (they are a bit long, but due to the pandemic, we have time!)

October 8, 2020 – Sparkling wine

With the Thanksgiving week-end, I will go outside the price range for the recommendations. For many of us, the celebrations will not be the usual big family gathering. That is not a reason for not enjoying champagne. Dom Perignon, Veuve Clicquot, Krug, Moet & Chandon, Taittinger, Pol Roger are familiar names and often outside anyone’s budget.

My recommendation is: Champagne Brut Prestige – $39.95 – LCBO code 190025; straw colour with fine bubbles; soft apple, pear, and brioche aromas with a mineral note; dry, fruit flavours with lively acidity to finish.

We all know that the main attraction to the 1889 Paris World Fair was the Eiffel Tower, but who could name the second most popular attraction at the same fair? It was Foudre Mercier, a 200,000 bottles Champagne barrel (yes! the number is indeed 200,000 bottles.) It took one week to move the one of a kind barrel from Reims to Paris. It was  mounted on four enormous wheels, specially built by the Chemins de Fer de l’Est (eastern railway) to support its hefty 20-tonne weight, and hitched to 12 pairs of Morvan oxen — helped on the steepest hills by a team of 18 horses. Roads were windened, trees were cut down to make way for the unique procession. Eugene Mercier lived by the motto “Go big or Go Home”
The next two links will give you more information about the barrel. Unfortunately Mercier Champagne is not available at LCBO.
For those of you who are wondering why Champagne bottle usually do not show a year (millesime), I have attached the Wikipedia link:
The second recommendation is a red wine from Spain (again): Baron de Ley GRan Reserva 2012 – $29.95 LCBO code  642496. This is a serious red that shows the ripeness of the vintage, yet shows beautiful wood-use and finesse. Full body, round texture and a fresh and flavorful finish. Give it some time to come completely together. Better in 2020. Score – 93. (James Suckling,, Aug. 2, 2018)

October 2, 2020 – Italy + Spain

The first recommendation is from Italy: Illuminati- Riparosso Mont D’Abruzzo – $13.95 – LCBO code 269985. Deep ruby; cherry and plum aromas with sweet spicy notes; balanced fruit and oak flavours; medium to full-bodied.

The second recommendation is from Spain: El Goru Monastrell – $13.95 – LCBO code 443945. This blend is based on Monastrell (the predominant red grape in Jumilla) with Syrah and Petit Verdot in support. You will find this to be an intense, concentrated, complex wine with impressive ripe dark fruit, black pepper spice, earth, vanilla and mocha. Typically robust and hearty. Try this with pork shoulder.