Chateau Suncor will arrive on shelves in April (Vintages Release 18 March 2017)


What are the latest news stories that are being followed at MuddleCentral?

Wilbur Ross, Excited States Secretary of Commerce, announced on behalf of the Trump administration the scrapping of the tax on inhaling. In his exclusive interview with  TheMuddleNewsNetwork, Ross recognized that the inhaling tax faced several legal challenges and acknowledged that the approach of taxing exhaling (as developed by the People’s Republic of Canada’s Prime Minister Trudeau) is a better approach but “does not go far enough to curb the effects of human activity and provide a broad and stable tax base.” Instead, the Ross tax proposal, dubbed the “ventilation tax”, will tax all forms of “human generated exhaust.” “The idea came to me a short time after eating three triple-bean-cheese burritos at Taco Bell” stated a beaming and surprisingly comfortable looking Ross. In related business news, the share price of YUM Brands, parent company of the Taco Bell chain, plunged 33% on the NYSE.

Meanwhile, the Trudeau government announced further steps to help the People’s Republic of Canada’s meet the country’s CO2 emission goals. New laws will target the “importation of carbon” by taxing Champagne an additional 800%. “We can no longer tolerate the Government of France’s approach to capturing and exporting their CO2 emissions”  stated a stern but sleeve-less Justin Trudeau. “Further, my government will immediately implement a 100% subsidy on exported Canadian Sparkling Wine providing the wine is made from CO2 captured from the Alberta Oil Sands.” Oil-sands companies   immediately announced plans for their sparkling wine. Chateau Suncor will arrive on shelves in April with an initial price of $2.95. James Suckling’s gave this wine 97 points and commented that the wine “has elements of petrol on the nose and a wonderful oily mouth feel that everybody should experience.” In related business news, the share price of Suncor soared in early trading on the TSE but closed lower when news broke that the 100 point Chateau Aramco will soon hit wine shelves.


The KGBO March 18 release did contain four sparkling wines and two of them are worthy of your hard-earned money. Unfortunately, the ones worth buying are both wines from Champagne (therefore you will pay more for your pleasure) and neither of the sparkling wines (one from New Zealand and the other from Germany) made the cut.

The muddle team tasted only one white this time and it didn’t make the cut. Sorry, but at this time the Muddler does not have a white from this release that I think is worth your money.

The news is better on the red wine front as Sunday’s tastings identified 3 wines for your consideration for immediate enjoyment and a couple to consider for your cellar.

Starting with the Champagne…

If you are looking for a lovely Champagne that is drinking well presently consider the $79 Bollinger Special Cuvée Brut Champagne (384529)  I enjoyed this bottle with a friend (who is known in the Toronto Wine Community as “The Dom”) at dinner and the thing that I enjoyed the most was the lovely-long-flavorful finish. Serve this wine to your guests and you will overhear the word “delicious” being spoken frequently.


An even better value is the $73 Pierre Gimonnet Cuvée Fleuron 1er Cru Blanc de Blancs Brut Champagne 2009 (340133). I’m a huge fan of Gimonnet and the Fleuron hits all the right spots. It’s drinking well now but if you will be rewarded if you placed the wine in your cellar for a few years.


This wine retails from $50-65US in the Excited States so you could expect to pay up to $125CAD with exchange and the ridiculous taxes we pay to the KGBO and the People’s Republic of Ontario. If your budget has room then go buy a bottle or two.

Want a couple of red wines that I think is worth your hard-earned money?

Let’s start with the top of the value chain, the $21 Convento San Francisco 2010 (206409). Buy the wine and decant it for at least an hour before serving and you’ll discover a wine with nice, fruit, tannins, and some tertiary elements (leather and mushrooms?). The wines of Spain are kicking ass.


The $22 Laurent Gauthier Grand Cras Vieilles Vignes Morgon 2014 (279059) is well put together, good black and red fruit, nice tannins, and a pleasant finish. I continue to believe that the Cru Beaujolais are like baby Burgundies. Give this wine a few years in the cellar and,  at a fraction of the price, you’ll have an integrated wine that will fool many red Burgundy lovers . If you buy this wine you’ll be paying the same price as our friends in the U.S.A. so, considering our tax situation, there’s good value in this wine.


Finally, one red wine from the good-old U.S.A . It’s not quite a traditional Bordeaux blend but the $24 Ryan Patrick Redhead Red 2014 (478149) is worth the money. For me, it started out clumsy and out-of-balance but with some air the wine came together in a way that would please Bordeaux blend fans.


Interesting in collecting? This weekend we had the opportunity to taste a 2001 Muga Selección Especial Reserva. The last WineMuddler blog posting recommended the 2011 version of this wine (712067). The 2001 Muga was wonderful. So, if you can find suppy of the 2011 and can wait several years then your patience will be rewarded. Don’t want to spend $42? Then, go get a couple of bottles of the $30 Barón de Ley Gran Reserva 2010 (642496) as we had the opportunity to taste the 2001 release of this wine too. Not as great as the Muga but great just the same. Have I mentioned that the wines of Spain kick ass?

If you are interested, we’ll move onto the airing of the grievances, starting with the sparkling wines.

The $15 Loosen Bros. Dr. L. Sparkling Riesling  (296095) is a sugary mess. I expected more from this producer. I can’t think of a reason to buy this wine.

The $30 Kim Crawford Small Parcels Fizz 2012 (381236) starts out pleasant enough but soon comes at you with aggressive acidity and fizz. It would be great for mimosas if you don’t mind the $30 price tag to mix with OJ. You’d be just as happy with a cheap Cava for your mimosas I think.

The $20 E. Guigal Côtes du Rhône Blanc 2015 (290296) disappointed me. I like Guigal wines normally and I like a bit of floral in wine but when the flower garden takes over the senses I need to bail. The interesting feature of this wine was the oily (unctuous) mouth feel but that was not enough to save me from not wanting to drink this wine. The local wine critics love this wine but the people at the MuddleBunker tasting went home with this bottle nearly full. It’s too bad the critics couldn’t locate the MuddleBunker (I know they are out there looking for it). They could have had the Guigal all to themselves.

The $24 Hewitson Miss Harry 2013 (107870) would appeal to fans of fruit forward Aussie reds. No flaws in this wine but this style is not for me. Please don’t believe any score on Australian wine given by James Halliday. He ranked this wine as a 95. His scores are as ridiculous those handed out by James Suckling’s. Shameful really.

The $17 Château des Gimarets Moulin à Vent 2013 (442632) has an unpleasant finish to me and lacks character. The tasting notes posted by the KGBO in their catalog baffle me.

The $23 Casas del Bosque Gran Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon 2014 (353086) would be the wine of choice if you were a Koala Bear. Serve this wine with steamed eucalyptus leaves and make sure that your guests eat with wooden forks made from untreated oak. No need to decant as no amount of air time will help the predominance of eucalyptus and oak. This wine is “eucalyptus up the ass” (I wish that line was an original thought but I stole it).


Once again, James Suckling steals the show with the glowing recommendation “This is like a top Napa cabernet with full body, dusty tannins plus chocolate, bark, and black currant. Very long and rich. Racy and beautiful. Will age beautifully. Believe the wine at this price. Drink or hold. Score – 94. (James Suckling,, May 12, 2016).” Good grief James. Hang down your head James. You know no shame James.

Use the find store feature on the LCBO website ( to determine where you can buy wines that interest you. The locator on works better than the locator on Copy the product number, perform a search with that number and use the “find a store” feature.

Product Consultants can request a transfer from another store to the one that is better for you. The KGBO may be the controlling monopoly but you are the customer.






Classes on Miming in Canada are Completely Sold Out (Vintage Release March 4)

stock-photo-cartoon-exhaling-man-112428749This news just arrived at Muddle Central: The People’s Republic of Canada announced today that, as part of their fight against climate change, there will be a new tax on exhaling. Because exhaling is necessary to make long-pointless speeches, politicians and members of the clergy will be exempt from this new tax. The Trudeau Government will also allow a “cap-and-trade” program. “My government recognizes that athletes, for example, need to exhale while exercising. The cap-and-trade program allows for docile people to sell their exhales to athletes. “My government’s cap-and-trade program makes the exhaling tax progressive by allowing the docile and underprivileged to recover their exhaling taxes from the wealthy 1%” , claimed a suntanned and beaming Justin Trudeau from onboard a helicopter enroute to another private Caribbean island. The newly ordained Reverend David Suzuki and Pastor Al Gore praised the People’s Republic move as being “visionary”. Meanwhile, Canadians are realizing that speaking will be expensive and the result is that classes on miming in Canada are completely sold out. Universities are hiring mime instructors to meet demand. The government noted that this outcome, once-and-for-all, proves that increased taxation creates employment. A government spokesperson stated that soon Canada will have 100% employment by having 100% taxation.

In related news on breathing, in the Excited States of America, President Trump issued an executive directive to start taxing inhaling. “I told the American people that I would not impose new burdensome taxes” asserted President Trump. “Therefore, the tax on inhaling applies only to illegal aliens and foreign travelers from certain countries.” Details of the tax will be announced on Twitter. A White House spokesperson thanked former POTUS Clinton for this idea and claimed that the directive will balance the government’s budget and simultaneously achieves “many other objectives of the administration”. Bill Clinton was not available for comment.

Meanwhile, evidence is mounting that the Russians are secretly destroying the wine business (for anyone that does not believe this shocking news you should be aware that the HoseMaster broke this story yesterday and details are available at The Russians are also the suspected hackers in the latest RickeeLeak:





Oh those Russians! History repeats and, again, we have a country to blame for all that is not right in our world. Maybe the Russians are responsible for the all the mediocre wine that the KGBO released on March 4. Sadly, Putin’s interference in the operations of our wine monopoly resulted in this release containing very few reasons to beat a path to your KGBO store.

First, let’s explore a few wines that might interest you.

If you are looking for a Sauvignon Blanc then the $25 DOMAINE BONNARD SANCERRE 2015 140525 might fit the bill. It’s a wine, with the classic grassy overtones typically found in a Sancerre. It has nice fruit and nice acidity. The wine is nothing special but it is decent and the best white wine we tasted on Sunday from this release. (


The tasting of the reds included a battle of Spain. There are several Spanish wines on the Vintages shelves presently and we picked the $24 MUGA RESERVA  VINTAGES 177345 (, the $42 MUGA SELECCIÓN ESPECIAL RESERVA 2011  VINTAGES 712067 ( and the $18 MONASTERIO DE LAS VIÑAS GRAN RESERVA 2007  VINTAGES 82024 ( I found the outcome of the tasting to be quite interesting.


We poured all three wines at the same time. Initially, everyone preferred the $18 Monasterio but, as the wines took on some air, our preferences shifted. With time in the glass, the Monasterio faded, the Muga Reserva came together (with the predominance of coconut fading and integrating) and the Muga Seleccion Especial blossomed. If you had a dinner party where the red wine was being poured fast and freely then the Monasterio will save you money and it will fit the bill. Cheap and very enjoyable if one does not linger too long. If you want to treat yourself to a lovely wine that has a lot going on buy the $42 Seleccion Especial. If you want something in between go for the Muga Reserva.

The Seleccion Especial retails for $30USD in the Excited States so using my double rule (exchange, duties, KGBO profit margin) $42CAD is a good price here in the People’s Republic of Ontario as we could be paying upwards to $60.

I’m a fan of Muga (both their cheap and high-end wines). They make whites, Roses, and reds. If you find yourself feeling overwhelmed in a KGBO store and don’t know what to buy then it is pretty safe to head to the Spanish section and find one of their wines.

Finally, Don Billy (you may recall that he is the King of Toronto’s notorious Dental Underworld) found room on his credit card and splurged on the $102 GIUSEPPE QUINTARELLI ROSSO CA’ DEL MERLO 2008 VINTAGES 958595 ( What a beautiful wine on many fronts. And, what a treat to taste. It’s lovely now and would be better in a few years. If you like the Amarone / Ripasso style wine (this wine is a Ripasso) this wine is for you. This wine retails for $80USD in the good-old USA so the price here is good (we could be paying upwards to $160).

Onto the airing of the grievances.

The $50 DOSNON RECOLTE NOIRE BRUT CHAMPAGNE VINTAGES 243899 is a wine that would polarize a group. The volatile acid present in this Champagne would put many (most?) drinkers off. It’s not a wine to hate but one that few would love and most would wonder why they spent $50.

The two Gruners we tasted included the $22 LOIMER LANGENLOIS GRÜNER VELTLINER 2015 VINTAGES 142240 ( and the $19 ANTON BAUER GMÖRK GRÜNER VELTLINER 2014 VINTAGES 467290 ( were both out of balance with a predominance of acidity. The Anton Bauer is better because it has more fruit but it’s not worth your money. The posted tasting notes on both these wines baffle me.

The $14 PIETRO MARINI TORRONTÉS 2015 VINTAGES 408443 ( has a rose petal nose (Don Billy said “Turkish Delights”) and flavors that don’t follow through. This wine was our least favorite. Avoid.

Onto the reds…

The $15 LA POSTA ARMANDO BONARDA 2015 VINTAGES 261586 ( is primarily berry fruit and little else. It’s a fruit bomb to avoid. This is a good example of why one should not fall for a 90 point score from a wine critic (especially when that wine critic is James Suckling). Here is what he had to say about this wine “A tight and lightly dusty red with licorice and blackberries. Medium to light body. A fun wine from Argentina that everyone should try. Drink now. Score – 90. “Everyone should try?” Good grief James your mother would tell you that you should be ashamed of yourself. Hang down your head and cry James.

The $13 L.A. CETTO PETITE SIRAH 2014 VINTAGES 983742 ( is similar. It’s a fruity wine that settles down a little with some air time and then you will be able to pick up some pepper and spice qualities. With some air it’s okay but this wine is not for me.

Up next is the $25 KILIKANOON PRODIGAL GRENACHE 2013 VINTAGES 927582 (, a textbook Aussy Grenache. It’s a decent wine at an okay price and for lovers of Australian wine this one would work for you.

Finally, a few comments on the $62 CHATEAU MUSAR RED 2009 VINTAGES 109413 ( I almost didn’t bother with the write up on this wine because the KGBO sold out of the product quickly. There are a few bottles in the system so if you want this wine you may have to request a transfer. If I tasted this wine blind I’d likely guess that it was decent Bordeaux. Muscar has a great reputation and this wine is quite nice. But at $62 I think one would buy it mainly as a novelty to impress friends and to show them that decent wine can come from Lebanon (a country where someone right now is buying a Canadian Pinot Noir because their friends don’t know that decent wine can be made in Canada).


Use the find store feature on the LCBO website ( to determine where you can buy wines that interest you. The locator on works better than the locator on Copy the product number, perform a search with that number and use the “find a store” feature.

Product Consultants can request a transfer from another store to the one that is better for you. The KGBO may be the controlling monopoly but you are the customer.

Bradson Had One of Those Fancy Japanese Toilets (a.k.a Clarendelle Wines)

white-0028845There is WikiLeaks and then there is RickeeLeaks. Hacked text messages reveal further details from the February 19 tasting in Toronto. Trump’s team is attempting to cover up the text messages he sent to Bill Clinton. The Trudeau camp is less than ambivalent towards the leak. Is there no such thing as bad publicity? Meanwhile, two good wines that are presently on the shelfs of the KGBO deserve your consideration. Both come from the same producer: CLARENCE DILLON WINES. Both cost $25. Both are a bargain when compared to their price outside of the People’s Republic of Ontario. They are great buys.

Starting with the white CLARENCE DILLON CLARENDELLE BLANC 2014 VINTAGES 28845, is a lower alcohol (12.5%) dry white wine that is mainly a blend the Sauvignon Blanc and Sémillon grapes. The Sauvignon Blanc gives the wine freshness and the Sémillon gives the wine depth and weight. It’s a classic technique used to make white Bordeaux and it works beautifully. White Bordeaux is hard to find and finding one at $25 really excited me. You will be rewarded if you bought a few and aged the bottles for 2 or 3 years.

The CLARENCE DILLON CLARENDELLE RED 2012 VINTAGES 28837 is a lower alcohol (12.5%) red. If you are looking for big-and-bold-fruit-forward wine then this wine will not fill the ticket. It’s sophisticated, has nice pucker, balanced red fruit (cherries), and some secondary notes of liquorice and maybe a little tobacco. Very French and great value. The wine’s taste profile and intensity build as you enjoy your glass of this wine. No need to age this wine.

Onto this edition’s story…




For God’s Sake Justin Put Down the Selfie Stick (Vintages Release 18 February 2017)


Our story so far:  TheWineMuddler(TM) has gone viral. Sensing opportunity for exposure, the politicians aggressively assert their involvement in the tasting of wines from the February 18, 2017 Vintages release. Succumbing to pressure from Ottawa and Washington, Rickee reluctantly agrees to the help of Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of the People’s Republic of Canada, and Donald Trump, President of the Excited States of America. They have traveled to Toronto to help in the tasting. Rickee is thinking “nothing good can come from this.”

Security is tight in the little-known-tasting room beneath King Street in Toronto, the location where the three men are gathered to taste wine. As the street cars rattle on the tracks overhead, let’s listen in to see whether Rickee is right.

Me: Now that everyone’s here let’s get started.

Donald: When do the models arrive?

Me: Ummm…yeah…thanks for making me feel really uncomfortable…it’s just the three of us today. I suggest that we start…

Donald: This is a wine tasting! There’s always models at wine tastings. You should have let me know you don’t have models. Palin isn’t doing anything today. I’d fly her in. When she takes her glasses off and lets her hair down she’s pretty hot.

Me: Guys, let’s try to focus on tasting the wines. We will start by pretending we are at a dinner party. Normal people start a dinner party with something bubbly. Let’s taste this sparkling wine to see whether it is any good.

Justin: What exactly are the bubbles in sparkling wine?

Me: Well, the bubbles are carbon dioxide in the wine. CO2 is a natural byproduct of the fermentation of the sugar in wine. In sparkling wine I think the bubbles are fun; especially if they are small. If you notice these bubbles they are…

Justin: CO2 is the work of the devil. Don’t tell anyone but my government will ban CO2. Has this wine paid its carbon tax? My carbon tax will save the planet. And, the Pandas too. Pandas are cute and deserve to be saved.

Me: Ummm, this tasting is going swimmingly. I’m not a scientist but it might just be a tiny-bit impossible to ban carbon dioxide. For example, when you breathe you exhale and when you exhale you emit CO2.

Donald: I thought inhaling was the problem. Bill Clinton told me so back in ’92. Bill always tells the truth. Unlike lying crooked Hillary.

Justin: You’re confusing weed with wine Donald. Weed is good and carbon is evil. Everyone in Canada knows that. Canadians love weed and hate carbon. As soon as this tasting is over I’m calling Morneau. Canada needs to tax exhaling. We will be leaders in the world by taxing exhaling. We will tax exhaling then phase it out and then ban it.

Donald: Bill’s not picking up.

Justin: Gosh, only a few minutes have passed and attending these tastings is proving to be really valuable to me. By banning exhaling I’ll win a majority in the next election for sure.

Me: Okay, it’s obvious that including sparkling wine in this tasting was a bad idea. Let’s move onto tasting a white wine. I picked this wine because I thought it might have a lot of flavors. When we taste it let’s…

Donald: Did I mention that my tasting abilities are exceptional? I’ve been saying this for a long time. I’m a really good taster. The BEST taster. With me involved in this blog we can make wine tasting great again.

Me: For God’s sake Justin put down the selfie stick and help me to get Donald to focus. Christ this is not easy. [Mayhem ensues as Justin’s selfie stick knocks over a bottle of wine. Meanwhile, a streetcar filled with ambivalent people lumbers overhead. Rickee casts his eyes towards the ceiling with a look as though he longs to be one of them.]

Me: Okay, let’s try to focus. We have to muddle through this tasting somehow. Wines have certain tastes but more importantly, they have distinctive smells. The sense of smell is very personal. It comes from one’s own experience, from the things you have encountered in life, including your childhood. To me, one of the great enjoyments of wine is this experience. Let’s swirl our glass and take a smell. Let me see [pausing to smelling the wine] I get something strange on the nose…maybe a little sulphur?

Justin: I smell abandonment. It’s the smell of an empty street in New York City. The dark and dank streets you wandered as an eight-year old while your mother snorted blow at Scores with Keith Richards.

Donald: You’re all fucked-up Justin. You’re confusing abandonment with disappointment. Disappointment! I’m getting major disappointment on the nose of this wine. Disappointment like the time you told your father that you made your first billion and he says to come back to talk to him when you made two.

Justin: I see your point. Yes, I smell disappointment on this wine but I’m still picking up abandonment. This wine smells of disappointment and abandonment. Like the time when you were ten and your father abandoned you on Lac-Tremblant because he was disappointed you could not paddle your canoe as efficiently as he does.

Me: Holy shit this got dark fast! And sad. Not to mention REALLY specific!

Justin: Do we get to hug and take pictures today? The last President liked to hug me. On the internet there’s lot of pictures of me and him hugging. I look really good in those pictures.

Donald: Kid, I swear if you try to hug me I’ll knee you right in the Johnson. Many people are saying that I am exceptional at kneeing people in the Johnson.

Justin: We had a bromance. I haven’t heard from Barack since he started hanging with Richard Branson. I send him texts daily to try to find out whether he’s okay. I better send one now.

Me: For the love of God guys, get it together! You are supposed to be helping me write my wine blog. Come Wednesday, six or seven people of my readers will visit the LCBO and, if we don’t write this blog to help them, they will buy a shitty bottle of wine. I’d hate to disappoint one person must less six.

Donald: If a store sells shitty wine people will just go to another store where they sell good wine.

Me: You’re not in Kansas anymore Dorothy. LCB means liquor control board. Here everyone has to buy wine at the liquor control board. The stores are run by the government. All the stores here sell the same thing.

Donald: I didn’t realize that I was in Korea. Don’t hold it against me. I get the countries that start with the letter C mixed up. I’m still awesome. Many people are saying that my abilities are awesome. My abilities are awesome except for countries that begin with the letter C.

Justin: I just updated my Facebook status. Can I tag you guys?

Donald: Shit, I have to at least call Kim while I’m here. Do cell phones work in Korea? Bill didn’t pick up because cell phones don’t work in Korea.

Me: Okay, I’ll make ONE final attempt to make this a productive afternoon. Let’s try a red wine. Like white wines, the aromas are very personal. I prize tobacco aromas and flavors in red wines. I picked this wine for us to taste because the release notes indicated this wine has elements of tobacco. Let’s smell and taste it and find out for ourselves.

Donald: What country is this wine from?

Me: Good question. It’s from Spain. I admit that I have a personal bias here because I happen to love wines from Spain. When we write about this wine on the blog you guys can help me be more objective.

Donald: Spain! Spain is a terrorist country. I need to know how this wine got into the country. I will not taste any wine unless it was subject to extreme vetting.

Me: Donald, I think that you are getting your countries that start with S mixed up. Spain is not a terrorist country you might be thinking about Syria.

Justin: I’m getting tobacco on this wine.

Me: That’s good Justin, let’s go with that. Help me out by describing what you are experiencing right now.

Donald: I’m not happy with including Spanish wine in this tasting and I am tweeting my dissatisfaction:


Justin: Cigar tobacco.

Me: Yes, yes I get that too. We are making major progress now. What else? There is also something funky in the smell that I am struggling to identify. Cheese maybe? Or is it meat?

Justin: No not cheese or meat. The tobacco notes are very specific. I’ve smelled them many times. This wine smells like fine Cuban cigars. Growing up, my family went to Cuba many many times.

Me: Excellent. Go on.

Justin: Fine Cuban cigars and the funky smell is [taking another sniff from his glass and raising an eyebrow], well, it’s sweat; body sweat, the sweet body sweat of a megalomaniacal, unjust and imperious dictator; the sweat a child smells as he is rocked to sleep by his cigar-smoking-dictator babysitter while his mother and father are out partying in Havana. I get Cuban cigars and imperious dictator on this wine.
Russia's President Putin holds a glass during a ceremony of receiving diplomatic credentials from foreign ambassadors at the Kremlin in Moscow
Me: That’s it. I’m out-of-here.

Donald: Will Putin be at the next tasting?


Happy Tuesday!

I apologize for the length, but not the content, of the opening story. When this crazy idea occurred to me the story wrote itself. Upon multiple reflections I failed to find a way to shorten it. I hope that you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.

Onto wines…

Having failed to make you into a wine geek (see the Vintages February 5 release) the KGBO drifted back to their roots of hocking wine using a simple theme. This time that theme is Australian wines:


I had help with last Sunday’s tasting.
My friend, let’s you and me call him “Don Billy”, provided wine, his perspective and his knowledge of Canadian wines. We’ll call him “Don” because he is the head of Toronto’s little-known-seedy dental underworld. Not heard of the dental underworld? Well, what happens is, if your insurance company fails to pay, Don Billy’s enforcers will find you and they’ll make you buy an electronic toothbrush and floss daily. I place my gums at risk just by my mere mention of the existence of this dark                                                                                        side of humanity.

When it comes to Canadian wines, I have my feet firmly planted in 1995. I gave up on them around that time. Don Billy is patiently trying to drag me into this century. And, it’s good thing he persists because the white wine you should seek out in this release is the $20 blogtrump1KEW MARSANNE 2014 VINTAGES 485334 ( It has aromas of green tropical fruit, spices and mangoes. Don’t serve this wine super cold and it also benefits from some air time. Decant it if you have time. Enjoy the wine on its own or, because of the nice acidity, it will work with a variety of food. Thhe mango flavors had us obsessing over Thai food. After your first or second slip, pause and enjoy the length of time that the wine’s flavors linger on you palate. My guess is subsequent vintages of this wine will be a lot more expensive.

blogtrump2The red wine of choice in this release is the $25 WATERBROOK CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2013 VINTAGES 90365 | ( I almost did not include this wine in my reconnaissance mission to the KGBO. Why? Well, I love Washington State wines but the description that the KGBO put in the catalog was really dull and boring. Fortunately, I am on Le Sommelier’s mailing list (Le Sommelier being the winery’s agent in Ontario) and their description grabbed my interest. In the words of Kat Edmonson: “lucky you, lucky lucky me.” This wine has earthy flavors, nice red fruit, ripe chassis, its rich, has a nice mouth feel, and lovely lingering after taste (length). You can drink it on its own or serve it with hearty dishes such as beef, braised lamb, grilled vegetable and the like. It retails for $11US in the Excited States of America so you are paying $3 more than my “fair” price using my double rule (exchange, duties, KGBO markup) but it’s still a great wine for the price. If you are in the USA and can find this wine you’re lucky.

blogtrump3The third one you should consider is the $20 FOWLES STONE DWELLERS SHIRAZ 2013
VINTAGES 265967 ( Normally I find that cheap Aussie Shiraz wines are over concentrated fruit bombs. But, this one is not. There is still big plum, prune and dark fruit flavors but the wine is more together than I thought it would be and it has decent gripe and spice. What surprised me was that I liked this wine despite the alcohol level of 15%. Normally, that level would be a taste killer for me but somehow that crazy amount of alcohol is integrated in this wine. This wine would work with dishes similar to those described with the Waterbrook. Be careful with the size of the pours. With that alcohol level you’ll say something of regret at the dinner party and wake in the morning with a pounding head. This wine retails for more in Australia so you are getting a decent price at the KGBO.

Before I get to the airing of the grievances, there are two other wines that deserve mention. One is the $19 GRANDES SERRES ROCCA LUNA BEAUMES DE VENISE 2014
VINTAGES 434639 ( On its own, I found the alcohol level of this wine to be distracting and unpleasant. But, serving this wine with a Mediterranean-style dish, particularly a dish with some good quality olives, works beautifully and it makes this wine really enjoyable.

blogtrump4Second, is the $15 CASTELSINA CHIANTI RISERVA 2010 VINTAGES 481184 ( This Chianti, from a great year has nice cherry flavors and is well balanced. The problem? It dies a sudden death in your glass. It would work at the beginning of a dinner party with cheeses and charcuterie but don’t expect it to last more than an hour or so before it loses it fruit.

Finally, the $27 sparkling wine JANSZ PREMIUM CUVÉE SPARKLING WHITE ( is worth considering as a novelty purchase. Why novelty? Well, it is from Tasmania and you can tell you friends that they are drinking a Tasmanian wine and they will think you worldly and cool. Plus, they will think about Bugs Bunny and the Tasmanian devil. It’s impossible not to. If you buy it I’d recommend decanting this wine as the wine’s flavor profiles do not emerge until time has passed in the glass. I think the wine is pricey for what you get.

What’s more disappointing than an approval-seeking son that accumulates a measly billion dollars? Well, that would be buying a wine that just does live up to its potential or the billing. The wines that disappointed included:

PENMARA THE WHITE RIBBON SÉMILLON 2016 VINTAGES 474031 (, a $15 low alcohol Hunter Valley Semillon should sing but it’s a simple sipper that would be okay for a hot summer deck.

DOMAINE COSTA LAZARIDI AMETHYSTOS WHITE 2015 VINTAGES 984864 ( At $20 from a decent Greek producer it should not had been simple and boring and have off-putting aromas.

blogtrump5L’EXPRESSION DE MARGAUX 2012  VINTAGES 431734 ( At $39 it was the most expensive wine we tasted and the worst. The wine is very green and has characteristics of unripe fruit. If you want to conduct an interesting experience buy this wine and the Waterbrook and serve them side-by-side to your guests. I’ll bet you will watch people avoid the L’Expression and ask for more Waterbrook. You’ll look at the bottle the next day and wished that you had your $40 back.

ABAD DOM BUENO CRIANZA 2006 VINTAGES 244699 ( This $16 wine was a big big disappointment for me. I love wine from Bierzo region of Spain and this wine had a nice amount of age. I had visions of buying a case. But, alas it’s not to be. There is a disconnect between the wine’s nose and its flavor. When it comes to food and wine, smelling something fantastic and having its taste not deliver truly is disappointment. This wine also tastes flat and tired. I know that I am risking sounding like a Trump tweet by concluding… So sad!


Use the find store feature on the LCBO website to determine where you can buy wines that interest you. The locator on works better than the locator on Copy the product number, perform a search with that number and use the “find a store” feature.


Product Consultants can request a transfer from another store to the one that is better for you. The KGBO may be the controlling monopoly but you are the customer.

The next Vintages’ release is Saturday March 4. I typically try to find gems in the vast and confusing offerings of the KGBO by buying them on the Saturday and tasting them Sunday afternoon. If you are interested in joining me send me an email.

The Vintage catalog descriptions of the wines tasted:



Tasmania, Australia

TASTING NOTE: A blend that evenly harmonises fruit character, depth of maturity and the vivacious mood of cool Tasmanian acidity, in flavours of apple and pear finishing with biscuity, toasty complexity. It’s long and even, culminating in well integrated acidity.

Drink By: 2017. Score: 91

(Tyson Stelzer,, Oct. 6, 2016)

Medium-bodied & Flavourful

566828 (D) 750 mL $26.95



Hunter Valley, New South Wales

TASTING NOTE: Pale quartz-white; a high quality semillon, despite its alcohol in the higher range of Hunter Valley semillon, it has a fresh, racy, minerally drive to the long palate and lingering finish. Great summer seafood style.

Drink By: 2020. Special Value.

Score: 93

(James Halliday,, July 27, 2014)

Light & Crisp

474031 (XD) 750 mL $14.95




Strathbogie Ranges, Victoria

TASTING NOTE: Proclaims its (relatively) cool region from the outset, the savoury/spicy bouquet perfectly reflected in the medium-bodied palate; here notes of sour plum, anise and blackberry come together, oak and tannins providing carefully managed support. Drink By: 2028.

Special Value. Score: 94

(James Halliday,, Aug. 2, 2016)

Full-bodied & Smooth

265967 (D) 750 mL $19.95




Columbia Valley

TASTING NOTE: There’s a nice tang to the ripe currant and guava flavors in this fresh and lively red. Drink now through 2017. Score: 88

(Harvey Steiman,, Oct. 15, 2015)

Full-bodied & Smooth

090365 (XD) 750 mL $24.95



VQA Beamsville Bench, Niagara Escarpment

Gold Medal winner at the 2016 Ontario

Wine Awards.

TASTING NOTE: … This shows lovely, exotic aromas of tangerine, persimmon, spice and some wood. It is medium-full bodied and fleshy – almost soupy – but juicy acidity is the lifeline. Focused and intense with excellent length.

Tasted June 2016. Score: 91

(David Lawrason,, July 15, 2016)

Aromatic & Flavourful

485334 (XD) 750 mL $19.95





TASTING NOTE: The 2014 Cotes du Rhone Villages Beaumes de Venise Rocca Luna is a terrific value. Made from Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre, it has ample dark, plummy fruits, violets and peppery notes as well as a plump, fruitforward, mouth-filling style on the palate. It’s another high quality, character-filled release from this estate.

Drink Date: 2016-2021. Score: 89

(Jeb Dunnuck,, March 3, 2016)

Full-bodied & Smooth

434639 (D) 750 mL $18.95



AC Margaux

L’Expression de Margaux is crafted by a renowned Margaux estate using fruit sourced from younger vines from the same vineyards that produce its top-flight wine. The name of the estate does not appear on the label, but there is no mystery as to this wine’s provenance. It will offer a taste of classic Margaux character and precision at a fraction of the cost of the estate’s celebrated topdrawer expressions. An exciting insight into Margaux – with a delectable hint of mystery.

Full-bodied & Firm

431734 (XD) 750 mL $38.95





TASTING NOTE: The 2010 vintage in Italy was a near-universally successful one, especially for red wines. This Chianti Riserva is still fresh and lively with lifted rose petal floral tones, ripe cherry, raspberry, plum and earth notes. Rich, complex and long with excellent structure – a real value wine from a great vintage and one that over-delivers in a big way. (VINTAGES panel, May 2016)

Medium-bodied & Fruity

481184 (D) 750 mL $14.95




PGI Drama

TASTING NOTE: Costas Lazardi blends international variety Sauvignon Blanc with the native Assyrtiko to craft this exceptional white wine – considered by many to be Greece’s finest. The 2015 version offers bright lemon and apple tones with spice and tropical banana tones emerging on the close. Fresh and zesty with great balance. Enjoy with creamy pasta, or calamari. (VINTAGES panel, Feb. 2016)

Aromatic & Flavourful

984864 (XD) 750 mL $19.95


DO Bierzo

TASTING NOTE: Amazing low price for a classy Bierzo red. Fragrant violets, blackberries and chocolate lead into a lush gush of blackberry, plums, cedar and black cherry flavours sculpted from the menzia grape.

Food suggestion: Roast leg of lamb. Score: 90

(Gordon Stimmell, Toronto Star, Aug. 16, 2013)

Medium-bodied & Fruity

244699 (XD) 750 mL $15.95

January 7 Vintages Releases

Happy Tuesday!

The story so far: December and 2016 are not part of history. The excesses of the holidays associated with the Winter Solstice have taken their toll. The citizens’ body-fat index has risen. Their bank accounts balance has shrunk. The KGBO has just a handful of patrons showing up for their January 7 “Smart Buys” release. This release has dozens of inexpensive wines because the KGBO knows that the citizens have little wiggle room between their present and maximum MasterCard balance.

ME: Hi if you have a minute can you help me locate the wine that I would like to buy?

KGBO Product Consultant: Sure I can do that.

ME: I’ve looked up the codes up on the internet and here is a list of the wines that I am looking for.

KGBO Product Consultant: Great. Say, you picked some really good wines. How did you come up with this list?

ME: [thinking…why is she being overly nice? She’s too young to be hitting on me?] Oh, I’ve been around the block a few times. You know I’ve been writing a newsletter about your Vintages releases for many months now. I have tens of followers.

KGBO Product Consultant: [with a noticeable rolling of her eyes] I see, well the first bottle is from Austria and it’s over here.

ME: I’ve also registered a domain and I think that I’ll start a blog.

KGBO Product Consultant: [unsuccessfully, suppressing a major facial tick and is now avoiding eye contact] Oh, that’s interesting. The last bottle on your list is over here. There you go.

ME: Gosh thank you. You saved me a lot of time.

KGBO Product Consultant: You should try this Chardonnay. It’s not on your list but I rated this wine highly, five stars out of five. [pointing to her notes with 5 big stars drawn with a red-ball-point pen]. See.

ME: I really like Chardonnay but, in my experience, I don’t like the cheap ones. To me, the cheap ones are almost always disappointing and I end up using them for cooking. If you want to drink Chardonnay you have to be willing to pay for it.

KGBO Product Consultant: I think this one is different. My BOYFRIEND and I love it.

ME: [feeling a little creepy because, OMG, she thinks that I am hitting on her] Okay, I’ll trust you and give one a try.

[How can I argue with 5 red-pen stars?. Like Snagglepuss, I hastily exit stage left.]

Let’s start (as usual) with the sparkling wine. If you are looking for a fun aperitif consider spending $15 on the Cuvée Jean Philippe Blanquette de Limoux 2014 ( This wine has lively bubbles, nice acidity, reasonably low alcohol level, a pleasant yeasty nose and, to me, a predominance of citrus (lemon) flavors. It’s a great way to celebrate Tuesday. This wine retails for $10US in the USA so using the double rule-of-thumb (exchange, duty, KGBO markup, taxes on all of that) you are getting a good price at $15CDN.

This time my typical two passes of the Vintages catalog yielded four whites and two reds that I wanted to try.

First up, is the MAN Free-run Steen Chenin Blanc ( I’m not a fan of wine critics but I am slowing warming up to Neil Martin. In the catalog his description of this wine is pretty darn good. “…well balanced with crisp grapefruit and light honeyed tones, very harmonious with well judged acidity (whatever that means) and a composed, quite elegant finish.” He thinks this is an excellent Chenin Blanc and so do I. You can get this one for $14 and, based on the $7USD price in the Excited States, the price in the Peoples Republic of Ontario is what I would expect to pay here.

The wine that excites me in this release is the Nikolaihof Wachau Terrassen Grüner Veltliner ( This wine has great fruit, low alcohol, nice acidity and the plus (for me) is its minerality. It’s a wine that I can drink on its own and it’s a wine that would work well with food. A bottle will set you back $21, a good price as it retails for $14USD in the Excited States (an okay price in the Peoples Republic of Ontario would be $28).

The Chardonnay that the KGBO Product Consultant talked me into trying is the Gérald Talmard Mâcon-Uchizy ( Initially this wine impressed me. It has a nice nose, good fruit and nice acidity. But after a few tastes I changed my mind. The wine’s aftertaste is not pleasant to me and created a feeling at the back of my throat that I don’t wish to repeat. LP, my tasting companion for this release, felt the same way. I have not changed my mind on avoiding cheap Chardonnay.

The enigma of the wines I tasted from this release was the Marqués de Cáceres Verdejo ( This wine interested me because I am a fan of this producer and have collected their reds through the years. The Sulphur smell that burst from the glass was quite offensive and off putting. Time did little to help and, on first tasting on Sunday, I had dismissed this wine as a bad choice. But (you could tell that there was a “but” coming) I revisited tasting this wine on Monday and all that nastiness was gone. The tasting notes in the description are pretty good (pear and grapefruit, good acidity). What can I say? If you buy this $15 wine decant it and put the decanter with the wine in the fridge for a couple hours as it needs lots of air to be enjoyable. I’d have to wonder why one would bother, however.

Onto the reds…

The red wine that I enjoyed the most from this release is the Château La Croix d’Armens ( It too, however, is an enigma. I don’t normally expect a $25 Boudreaux to be much but this wine is very enjoyable. It’s from 2012 and is already developing some leather characteristics that are found in an aged Boudreaux. The local wine critics panned this wine, they hated it and I keep revisiting the wine to try to identify what they found so offensive. Maybe bottle variance (they had a flawed bottle and I didn’t)? What am I missing? Self-doubt ensued. In the end I said “screw them”, I like the wine and so did LP. I think it was her favorite of all the wines we tasted.

Consider buying the $19 Sagelands Cabernet Sauvignon 2014 from Washington State ( It’s a decent but not great wine. The wine has structure and reasonable alcohol levels. I struggle a bit with the berry fruit forwardness of this wine. For me, it’s a little too much but for others this attribute will be just fine and appreciated. I’ve made Hunter’s Stew for dinner tonight and perhaps this hearty stew will balance out that aspect of this wine for me. This wine retails for $10 in the Excited States. So, the price here is okay but not great.

If you do not wish to receive these emails please let me know and I will remove you from my distribution list. If you know someone else that would like to receive a copy please let me know and I would be happy to add him or her to the list.

Use the find store feature on the LCBO website to determine where you can buy this wine. The locator on works better than the locator on Copy the product number, perform a search with that number and use the find a store feature. Unfortunately, I have to provide you with links to as (for reasons beyond my ability to understand) the links that I create to will not work.

Product Consultants can request a transfer from another store to the one that is better for you. The KGBO may be the controlling monopoly but you are the customer.

The next Vintages’ release is Saturday January 21. I typically try to buy and taste the wines that interest me on the Saturday and taste them on Sunday. If you are interested in joining me send me an email and I’ll try to coordinate a small gathering. It would be great to get the views of others that are interested in finding gems in the vast and confusing offerings of the KGBO.

November 26 Vintages Release

Happy Tuesday Morning!

To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven

King Solomon (hate to disappoint you if you thought that the Byrds
were original; Good Old Solomon beat them by a few hundred years)

The relevance of this reference to the November 26 Vintages release? I’ll get to that in a minute.

Lately, I’ve been thinking Solomon is right. Everything has a season. I’ve also been thinking that the calendar seasons are arbitrary. Our present season is not late fall; it’s the beginning of the Holiday season. In case you forget history, the holiday season is followed by “we can help you with your creditors” season, a festive time that overlaps with “your life cannot be complete without meeting that special someone with our dating service” season and “golly you gained a freakish amount of weight and need to join our gym” season. If none of these seasons appeal to you then, don’t worry, like all seasons there is “a time to be born, and a time to die”. These seasons will pass just in time for everyone’s favorite “if you don’t invest in our retirement plan then you will end up living in a paper bag and eating broken glass” season.

Thanks for letting me get that off my chest.

The highlight of the holiday season is, of course, gift giving. So the focus of the KGBO’s November 26 release is to get you to feel the pressure to buy expensive wine as gifts to impress your loved ones, friends and colleagues. They call these wines “A Fine Romance”, a theme that makes no sense to me and causes me to wonder if the KGBO is confusing this season with the Valentine season theme you’ll see in a couple of months. But in my working-life I was never hailed as a marketing genius and “A Fine Romance” probably cost us millions so let’s go with the flow. Besides, they put extra effort into creating the spirit of romance by including pictures of wine porn to help you make your romantic gift selections.

If you must buy wine to impress then jump to the end of my comments and I’ll give you some observations.

There are probably a hundred wines in this release. There are reviewers out there with better livers than mine that taste each wine and give the wine a score (91, 92, etc.). I don’t have the budget and (frankly) I don’t know how anyone can effectively taste that many wines in such a short time. So I take the approach of reading through the catalog to try to identify the wines that might interest me.

Let’s start with the sparklers. You may want to give the $18 Domaine de Vaugondy Brut Vouvray a try ( I thought this wine was clean, bright, had some minerals and had fruit flavors of honey dew melon, passion fruit and maybe a little lemon. I found the acid levels a little high so if you go for this wine you may want to include some food to enhance your enjoyment. Cured meats, for example. Price is fair compared to what it sells for in France ($14CDN). I use a rule-of-thumb that if you factor in the shipping, duties and People’s Republic of Ontario (PRO) taxes (including the minimum profit mandated by the PRO on the KGBO) that if we pay double the US$ price in CDN$ the price is reasonable. Using this rule-of-thumb this wine could retail in the PRO for $20 and the KGBO is asking $18.

I got lucky in picking two other whites.

One is d’Arenberg’s $18 The Hermit Crab Viognier/Marsanne 2015 (I think d’Arenberg is a great producer; more on that in a minute). The melon and tropical fruit in this wine has me obsessed with pairing this wine with ham. Success on this quest has thus far eluded me as I have yet to find some ham in my unit but I swear before the bottle is empty I will enjoy this wine with some good ham. Using my formula this wine could retail in the PRO for $22 so the price is fair.

The second is the $28 Domaines Schlumberger’s Kessler Riesling 2012 (, with a nose that will interest you (including some petrol), slate minerality, citrus fruit flavors, great acidity, alcohol balance and maybe a trace of ginger and bitterness on the finish. I got excited about this wine because it provides the experience that Alsace Riesling is supposed to give you. If you want to do a contrast then do a taste comparison between this wine and the Trimbach that I dissed from my last review of November 12 ( This comparison would likely confirm that the Trimbach is a dud and that there is a lot going on in the Schlumberger. You’ll gladly pay the extra $4. I believe that this wine will also age gracefully. The pricing service that I use could not locate comparative price information in other countries. I had to go back to the 2010 vintage and the price in France would indicate a PRO value of $40. I’m thinking that this wine is a real value buy and, since I am retired, I think that I can beat you to the KGBO to get a couple of bottles before it is gone.

Finally, I bought the $18 Afectus Alvarinho 2015 ( This wine’s tropical fruits explode out of the glass. It’s exciting and tasty but a style of wine that after a glass I tire of the experience. That’s me. No comparative pricing information available in other countries.

I kind-of struck out with the reds. I couldn’t buy two reds that interested me because of some screw-up at my KGBO store (the cases are stuck behind others and they cannot retrieve the wine). I did get a bottle of the $30 Bodegas LAN Crianza 2012 ( Note that is wine is sold in magnum so the price works out to $15 per bottle. This wine is a steal. LAN is a producer that has not failed me. This is not a wine to buy for your cellar but if you are having a Christmas party it is a great house wine to make your guests happy. Tell them it is an expensive wine from Spain and they will appreciate the wine even more. This wine has structure, length and I particularly enjoyed the anise and spice finish. The acidity in this wine makes it food friendly. Last night this wine went well with a chicken dish that I cooked with a spicy Mexican salsa. In the USA, this wine sells for $10US a bottle; a PRO equivalent of $20CND so the $15 CDN KGBO price makes it a bargain.

Finally, even if this wine may be outside of your budget, I’d encourage you to consider buying d’Arenberg’s $55 The Dead Arm Shiraz 2012 ( Why? Well, to be honest I bought 2 bottles to be enjoyed sometime in the future. I’m basing this purchase recommendation on my experience with this producer and specifically this Shiraz. I’ve tasted bottles of The Dead Arm that were 20 years old and they were wonderful. The KGBO posted James Suckling’s review and I would place zero value on his comments. The cheapest you can buy this wine in the USA is $43USD. If you believe my double rule-of-thumb for the KGBO price then you should be paying $86CDN…$55CND is a bargain.

Onto wines to impress…

If the person you are trying to impress likes:

2013 was a great year in California, especially for Cabs. I have been lax is not having a strategy developed on acquiring these wines for my cellar.

I’ve been asked why I call our wine-controlling monopoly the KGBO. I’ve used too many words in this note already so I’ll cover that topic later.

If you do not wish to receive these emails please let me know and I will remove you from my distribution list. If you know someone else that would like to receive a copy please let me know and I would be happy to add him or her to the list.

Use the find store feature on the LCBO website to determine where you can buy this wine. I find that the locator on works better than the locator on (I have no idea why the KGBO operates two different websites). KGBO Product Consultants can request a transfer from another store to the one that is better for you. They may be the controlling monopoly but you are the customer.

The next Vintages’ release is Saturday December 10. I’ll be traveling to visit friends in the USA during this time and will not be able to pay attention to this release until December 20. I suspect at that time you will not care about another f-ing Vintage release. We’ll see. Maybe the KGBO will see an urgent need to guide you through the season of New Year’s Eve.


October 29 Vintage’s Release


I’m back from my travels in Europe. It took me a couple of weeks to find my rhythm and to tackle a mountain of personal items that I have long neglected. Last Saturday I ventured to my KGBO to buy and to try the wines that interested me from the October 15 and October 29 Vintages’ release. It turned out that these two releases provided an opportunity to do a little contrasting.

Humans contrast one thing with another all the time. For example, “I like the painting on the left more than the one on the right” or “I’d rather poke my eye with a sharp pencil than go to that meeting.” The contrasting technique is helpful in not only figuring out wines you like but also figuring out why you prefer one to another.

Before we go down the contrast path I have a couple of value white wines for your consideration.

First up is a wine from Portugal called Nortico and the bottle contains fermented juice from Alvarinho grapes. You would be correct if you are thinking that Alvarinho is the same grape as Spain’s Albarino. I’m a fan and you will find Vintage’s tasting notes of “crunchy apple, white grapefruit and peach wrapped in a ribbon of bright acidity” to be pretty accurate (although I’m not sure how one would make a ribbon of bright acidity. Good grief). The bottom line is that this wine is a bone dry & food friendly and it has some complexity. This wine sells for $14 and is a great buy.

To find the second bargain stagger into Vintage’s French section and look for the Mas Reserve Marsanne.

The KGBO’s tasting notes are contrived on this one…” Apple and starfruit aromas and flavours are joined by suggestions of pineapple and yellow cherry”. When I tasted I did get a lot of tropical fruit such as pineapple and starfruit and I did also note the apple. These are pretty good descriptors of what I experienced in tasting this wine. But, “yellow cherry”? I don’t believe I have seen a yellow cherry much less tasted one. Good grief number two.

What they missed in the notes is probably to most important element. The wine’s finish has a slight bitterness probably resembling what you experience from mistakenly tasting an apricot pit along with its sweet fruit. I like some bitterness in a white wine and I find the bitterness in this wine to be pleasant. If you are not a fan of bitter don’t part with the $14 that this bottle costs. For me, this wine is a bargain.

Onto contrasts…

The first contrast to consider is the $30 2009 Marques de Caceres Grand Reserva with $30 2002 Heredad De Baroja Grand Reserva.

Taste the Heredad first. Yes, it is nice wine and you will be happy with the wine and think that the wine’s description on the KGBO’s website is not bad. Now pour of taste of the Caceres. Again, the critic’s words that describe this wine are fine but I also think you will notice a dimension in the Caceres that is missing in the Heredad. The Caceres has a level of sophistication where the fruit, secondary elements and tannins are working together. People often describe such wines as “smooth” but that word is so overused and does not do the subject justice. But if you want to call it smooth than rock on.

I’ve collected Marques de Caceres for a long time and have enjoyed bottles that were nearly 30 years old. This wine is good now and it will be good years and years from now. Buy the Heredad if you want to impress your friends with a wine that is 14 years old and good. Buy the Caceres if you want a wine that is great now and will be great in the future. If you beat me to the KGBO please leave a few bottles of the Caceres for me.

The second contrast to consider performing is the $35 2010 Bersano Nirva SCO Barolo and the $30 2013 Sottimano Langne Nebbiolo.

Now this is a different type of contrast. Both are made from the Nebbiolo grape. These wines come from the same grape but from two different villages in the Langhe region of Piedmont and from two different producers. The 2010 vintage was one of the region’s best. Wines made that year normally need many years in the bottle to truly express themselves. For this reason, I didn’t think that the Bersano would be approachable. In contrast, wine classified as “Langne Nebbiolo” either comes from younger vines from within the regions of Barolo or (in this case) Barbaresco or from vines grown outside of these region’s boundaries. Wines labeled Langne Nebbiolo are rare at the KGBO and finding one typically represents an opportunity to buy a good value, food friendly wine that should be drank when the wine is young.

In the case of these two wines, this conventional wisdom would be so wrong.

The Bersano is a decent Barolo. It’s not a great Barolo. The price of great Barolo is $100 or more. For $35 you will get a wine that is drinking nicely now and has the fruit, acidity, structure and food friendliness that I love in Nebbiolo based wines. For me, this wine is a buy.

Sottimano is an old-school producer in Barbaresco. I have visited them many times and I collect their wines. They are very traditional, they are blessed with excellent crus and their wines are very expressive. The 2013 Sottimano Langhe Nebbiolo is a big wine that needs time in the bottle. If you have ever wondered what a wine critic means when he or she uses the word “closed” go buy a bottle of the Sottimano and have a taste. My guess is that your first taste may offend you and by the third taste you will start thinking “this wine has all the right elements…there’s potential here.” The wine is closed up presently and myy guess is the Sottimano would be a gem in five years.

Buy the Bersano to enjoy now. In 5 years this wine will still be good but I don’t think it would be much better. Buy the Sottimano and drink a small amount to experience a closed wine. Then decant the wine and wait at least 24 hours (I’m not joking) or leave the bottle open for a day. This wait will give you a decent clue on what this wine might be in five years. The Sottimano is a wine to cellar and enjoy later.

If you do not wish to receive these emails please let me know and I will remove you from my distribution list. If you know someone else that would like to receive it please let me know and I would be happy to add him or her to the list. Use the find store feature on the LCBO website to determine where you can buy this wine (the locator on works better than the locator on Remember that Product Consultants can request a transfer from another store to the one that is better for you. You are the customer.

The next Vintages’ release is Saturday November 12. I typically try to buy and taste the wines that interest me on the Saturday or Sunday. If you are interested in joining me send me an email and I’ll try to coordinate a small gathering. It would be great to get the views of others that are interested in finding gems in the vast and confusing offerings of the KGBO.

September 3 Vintage Release

I didn’t think I would have time to write my thoughts about the September 3 KGBO (a.k.a., the LCBO) release. However, with the clothes drier spinning and wet clothes preventing me from packing, I find myself with a few spare minutes.
First, the airing of the grievances…
Most Vinho Verdes (literally translates to “green wine”) contain a little spritz. They are clean, simple, have nice acidity, contain low alcohol and are cheap. For example, the Aveleda Vinho Verde ( ) will cost you $10 and served cold is a good wine for the balcony or the deck. Sometimess the Portuguese producers use select grapes and produce a still wine that has some complexity and can be interesting. Thus, my initial excitement for the Maria Papoila. Tasting it resulted in my first grievance. This wine is pretty simple and pretty boring. Pleasant enough but boring.
A grape called Melon De Bourgogne is used to make Muscadet de Sevre & Maine wine. These wines can be good, not great, but quite good for the money. Again, I find this example to be a disappointment. Again, pleasant enough but boring.
My final grievance is the price that the KGBO wants for the Cune Gran Reserva ( ). They are charging $40 for a wine that retails in Quebec for $29. This is a great wine from a good producer but I just could not lower my principles and pay $11 more than what is being charged by a neighboring monopoly. That is 38% difference if you don’t wish to do the math. If wine was a staple (and I argue it is) our Prime Minister would replace his present top priority of photobombing with establishing a national inquiry into wine pricing.
Okay, some good news now. The inclusion of a wine from Spain’s Descendientes De J. Palacios made me happy ( ). I love wine from most of the producers in the Bierzo area of Spain. The wine is made from the Mencia grape, which I believe is unique to that area. This Vintage’s offering is the producer’s entry level wine and it packs a lot into is $25 price tag. If you don’t plan to age this wine five or more years please postpone your enjoyment by decanting the wine for at least a half hour. The fruit forwardness of the wine will come into balance and the other aspects of the wine will shine through.
If you do not wish to receive these emails please let me know and I will remove you from my distribution list. If you know someone else that would like to receive it please let me know and I would be happy to add him or her to the list. I hope to have time to spend these notes out periodically.
I will be traveling extensively until early October and you will not hear from me until then.
All the best,

August 20 Vintage Release


Hi, I’m back in Canada after spending a couple of weeks in the good old USA (or, as my brother now calls that country, the Excited States of America). In my last email I noted that most of the wines in the August 20 Vintage release struck me in shades of mediocrity. So I did not run out to the KGBO (a.k.a. the LCBO) to buy in quantity.

I did try one wine from that release… a Vermentino from Sardegna: the 2014 Contini Pariglia Vermentino di Sardegna. My admiration for the wines of Sardegna continues to grow. I suggest that you read Ian D’Agata’s description of the wine (that is posted on the KGBO website) to see if those flavors appeal to you as much as they appeal to me. If they do, buy the wine, take a sip and see if you can identify the flavors (by then, if you are like me, you will have forgotten Ian’s description). I think you will find the mineral and fruit flavors of this wine will grab your attention. If this wine was a person you would want him or her to visit you and tell you a story or two. At $19 it’s a great buy. I bought my KGBO store out. Supply exists still in the KGBO system. Buy it while you can.

I also recommend the 2014 Louis Tête Coteaux Bourguignons. This wine was a Vintage release from April and the KGBO just reduced the price to $15. This wine will appeal to fans of Pinot Noir. Yes, I realize that Gamay is not Pinot Noir but I am willing to bet if you tasted this wine blind you would guess that Pinot Noir was in your glass. Don’t let the KGBO’s description of this wine fool you. Yes, it is light bodied and fruity if you popped the cork, poured the wine in your glass and drank it immediately. Don’t be a sucker and take that approach. Pretty please! Instead pour a glass and leave it for at least 15 minutes (30 would be better). You will then find that there is a lot going on in this wine. Drinking this wine made me feel happy…maybe because I found the wine lovely; maybe because it is a complete steal; probably both. Buy this wine before it disappears. If you are serving this wine to guests decant it for 30 minutes before serving. You don’t need a fancy decanter. Pouring the wine to another container works just fine.

Finally, one of my favorite house wines from the KGBO’s general listing (the wines on the normal shelves of the KGBO, not the Vintage section of your store) is a Rioja from the producer Bordon. I find it amazing that you can go to the KGBO and buy an 11 year old Grand Reserva Tempranillo wine for $23. A source told me that the KGBO will not be receiving any more of the 2005 (the vintage presently in their stores). It will soon be replaced by the 2006 vintage. If you want and appreciate the extra year of age (at no extra cost) go stock up on the 2005 vintage now. I was also told that the 2006 vintage is small. If you like this wine you may want to stock up early when the 2006 appears on the shelves. This wine is another example of one that benefits from 30 minutes in a decanter.

If you do not wish to receive these emails please let me know and I will remove you from my distribution list. If you know someone else that would like to receive it please let me know and I would be happy to add him or her to the list. I hope to have time to spend these notes out periodically. I will be traveling extensively until early October. It is unlikely that you will hear from me until then.

All the best

February 4 Vintage Release

Happy Tuesday!

Our story so far: It’s early December 2016. A day of darkness has descended upon the KGBO (a.k.a The Liquor Control Board of Ontario or the LCBO) command center. Three KGBO accountants have staged a coup d’etat. By offering free pizza, they lured and captured the KGBO’s entire marketing group in the lunchroom. The marketing people, being used to days-long-pizza-eating gatherings, have not noticed that they are detained. Everyone else in the office sees this state as routine. The three accountants’ plan is brilliant. They took control over the marketing function because the recent Vintage marketing campaigns centered on a cheapness theme. Everyone knows that cheapness is the domain of an accountant; drastic action was required in order to not lose territory and influence.

Let’s listen in on their conversation.

KGBO Accountant 1: Okay, we all know our mission statement “we are the KGBO and we will tell you what you are allowed to buy today”. We all know that our service to society is vital. We protect the public from the evils of alcohol consumption, particularly wine; we know consuming good wine is bad and the government must protect people from accessing good wine.

KGBO Accountant 2: You can’t possibly believe that crap. The KGBO is nothing more than a tax opioid for the People’s Republic of Ontario. Queen’s Park is hooked on our cash flow. We need to maximum the check we will send to Comrade Wynne. That’s our real mission.

KGBO Accountant 3: Exactly, and that’s the reason we had to take over control of the Vintages theme from those copycat-sneaky-little-shits in marketing. We need a theme to maximize our February sales; more sales will make Comrade Wynne happy. So, the release date is February 4, that’s early February. Think ahead to early February…at that time of year what’s on people’s mind?

KGBO Accountant 1: [filled with youthful enthusiasm] Oh, oh, oh I know. There’s the Super Bowl that happens in early February. And, everyone knows that Valentine’s Day is in February. I’m thinking a theme catering to Super Bowl Sunday parties and Valentine’s Day.

KGBO Accountant 3: [exasperated] Give me strength! Are you sure you don’t want to go get some pizza? Seriously, the Super Bowl? That’s a minor event. Do you think people still watch the Super Bowl? Hardly anyone watches the Super Bowl. Do you think that normal people get together for Super Bowl parties and bring wine to enjoy with snacks and finger food? That may happen with a small number of freaks. Valentine’s Day? Who cares about Valentine’s Day? Do you think people buy wine for Valentine’s Day? Give me a break. Did I mention that there is Hawaiian pizza in the lunchroom?

KBGO Accountant 2: Interesting observations. Do you have a sales theme option in mind?

KGBO Accountant 3: [banging on the boardroom table] Yeah, we took over to generate some fresh thinking. It’s will be February; people will have time on their hands. There is an untapped market and that market is huge. What do people really want? I’ll tell you, they want. They want to become wine geeks. They want to impress their friends with their wine geekiness. There’s a massive hole in the market to fill I tell you. Millions of people want to be a wine geek.

KBGO Accountant 2: Go on, you have me interested.

KGBO Accountant 3: The idea’s brilliance is its simplicity. We’ll fill pages of the catalog with geeky wine things, jargon, travel destinations and steps a person should take to become a wine geek. We then sell mediocre wine that the citizens of our republic will buy to practice their wine geekiness.

KBGO Accountant 2: That idea is fucking fantastic! We should have staged this coup months ago. Who ever said that accountants can’t be great marketers? Accountants’ rock marketing! We always did and we always will.

KBGO Accountant 1: I’ll leave you two to work out the details. I better source extra security to provide crowd control. Our stores will be overrun with people. We need to avoid death and injury or the next coup it will be the lawyers that take over. God knows that I could be fooled into self-imprisonment by the offer of a week-long lecture on the wonders of the HST.

KBGO Accountant 2: Don’t forget to slide a couple more pizzas under the lunch room door.

Yes, the February Vintage release centers on making you a wine geek. Really? Am I the only person to read this and think WTF? I’ve attended a lot of crappy office meetings in my time and I’m super glad that I didn’t have to sit through the one that came up with this theme.
Don’t judge me because I am making fun of accountants. A retired accountant is allowed to do that. Just ask Mel Brooks or Russell Peters or Tina Fey. They are all famous retired accountants. Except Tina. I read her book and she never was an accountant. Now I am just being silly. I didn’t mean to imply these people are retired accountants. However, they have all poked fun at identifiable groups to which they belong. So I’m guessing that it is socially acceptable to deprecate a group if you are part of that group. Otherwise, social media will label you a misogynist or a racist or (worst of all) a philatelist. I’m certainly not a racist. I like all races. Well, I’m not being totally honest. I like all races except marathons. I cannot run that far and I get bored.

You are allowed to judge me by my making fun of the marketing group. But, don’t be harsh in your judgment because even people in marketing will admit to their love of pizza.

Enough silliness. I had a lot of help in this tasting. Four of us gathered before the start of the Super Bowl to taste wines from the release; wines that we thought might be interesting. Well, actually three of us tasted wine. The fourth excused himself to seek medical attention for a cold that will not abate. There is a nasty bug making its way around Toronto presently. He made an appearance, dropped off three bottles of wine and left. Do I have good friends or what?

I wish that I could say that the wines in the February 4 release were interesting. Of the 10 wines we tasted (9 from the release and 1 from the general listing) only 2 impressed.

blogfeb2Our favorite white was JEAN BIECHER & FILS SCHOENENBOURG RIESLING 2014
VINTAGES 469767 ( I love Alsace Riesling and this wine didn’t disappoint. Stone fruit, minerals, great length, good acidity, food friendly. Don’t let the 10 grams of residual sugar fool you. It’s still considered dry by KGBO standards and the acid and the residual sugar and the wine’s acidity have a wonderful balance. The KGBO is selling this Grand Cru for $24. I could not locate comparative price information in other countries. Suffice it to say that $24 is a good price for an Alsatian Grand Cru.

blogwineThe red wine that was the winner was the CASTELLO DI NEIVE BARBARESCO DOCG
LCBO 160143 ( The funny thing is that this $23 wine is part of the KGBO’s general listing (you will find it – year round – in the Italian section of the main shelves in the store). I included it in the tasting in order to compare it to the $31 PIER RIO SORDO BARBARESCO 2009 VINTAGES 360016 ( Unfortunately, the Sordo fell short. The wine’s taste drops off suddenly and basically disappoints. There is nothing special going on here. I picked the Castello Di Neive because (a) I can tell a cool story about visiting the winery and (b) the KGBO store I visited had the wine in stock. The Castello Di Neive was the clear favorite of the two.

blogwine2I would have also included the $21 ENRICO SERAFINO BARBARESCO DOCG LCBO 341156 ( However, the store I visited did not have this wine in stock. The Serafino is also a general list wine. There is a good chance that you will prefer this wine over the Castello Di Neive. It’s put together with a style that has more finesse. I like the rustic edge of the Castello but admit my preference is based on my mood at the time. Both are house reds for me and the outcome of this tasting has me thinking that we need to explore the general listing in addition to the Vintages release. There are a few gems in that section of the store.

Castello Di Neive retails for $30USD in the Excited States of America so using my doubling rule (exchange, duties, KGBO markup) a “fair” price would be $60CDN. It’s a steal at $23 and the Serafino is a good value buy too.

I’ve used up a lot of real estate so my comments will be brief on the other wines we tasted.

The $13 SCHÖNLAUB PINOT BLANC 2015  VINTAGES 468215 from Germany ( tropical fruit flavors burst from the glass. It’s a decent table wine for the price. Too fruity for my taste.

blogwine3The $13 CURVOS LOUREIRO 2015 VINTAGES 471284 ( I like Vinho Verde wine in the summer. The wine’s style usually has a little spritz and the wine is great on a hot summer day. I don’t think that I will be stocking up in February but if you are seeking a wine to remind you of summer then grab a bottle now and imagine that you are on a patio.

The $19 GÉRARD BERTRAND CÔTE DES ROSES ROSÉ 2015 VINTAGES 373985 ( It’s an okay Rose. Dry and pretty and an okay price. The wine didn’t excite me, however.

My purchase of the $23 CHÂTEAU DU CHATELARD CUVÉE LES VIEUX GRANITS FLEURIE 2013 VINTAGES 207886 ( went like this…

ME: Hi, can you help me find this wine?

KGBO Product Consultant: Sure. What’s the product code?

ME: 207886

KGBO Product Consultant: Here it is…you made a great choice; it’s a really good wine.

ME: Have you tried it?

KGBO Product Consultant: No but it got a 90 rating. That’s a really good score so it is a good wine.

ME: [with a slight body spasm caused by biting my tongue until it hurt] Umm, gee that’s great. Thanks.

This wine bursts with raspberries and little else (i.e., I can’t get past the raspberries). It’s a fruit bomb. Move on. I made a mental note that wine critic Josh Raynolds and I may not be compatible. If the KGBO ever stops providing me with material for satire then maybe I will move attention to my “love” of professional wine critics.

blogwine4The TRAPICHE GRAN MEDALLA MALBEC 2013 VINTAGES 467977 ( will set you back $26. This is a fruit forward wine that comes across as being sweet (it is not). It is made in a style that will appeal to many people (the KGBO calls it “smooth”). To me the style is boring and the high-alcohol level of this wine turns me off.

Instead, consider the $30 MENTORS SHIRAZ 2012 VINTAGES 403618 ( This is a decent wine, somewhat spoiled for me by the high-alcohol level (it is less noticeable than the Trapiche, however). It is fruit forward and the thing that I don’t like is the high concentration of the fruit’s taste. However, there are other things going on in this wine. The nose has an intriguing whiff of smoke and, while you have to look for them, there are tobacco elements in the taste. Fruit concentrated wines are not something that I seek but if I was having a beef-themed dinner or was trying to impress friends that liked big-and-bold reds then this wine would work.

If you do not wish to receive these emails please let me know and I will remove you from my distribution list. If you know someone else that would like to receive a copy please let me know and I would be happy to add him or her to the list.

Use the find store feature on the LCBO website to determine where you can buy this wine. The locator on works better than the locator on Copy the product number, perform a search with that number and use the find a store feature. Unfortunately, I have to provide you with links to as (for reasons beyond my ability to understand) the links that I create to will not work.

Product Consultants can request a transfer from another store to the one that is better for you. The KGBO may be the controlling monopoly but you are the customer.

The next Vintages’ release is Saturday February 18. I typically try to buy and taste the wines that interest me on the Saturday and taste them on Sunday. If you are interested in joining me send me an email and I’ll try to coordinate a small gathering. It would be great to get the views of others that are interested in finding gems in the vast and confusing offerings of the KGBO.