Buyers Guide to VINTAGES – November 25th, 2017

Top Drops for the Holidays

By David Lawrason, with notes from Michael Godel & Sara d’Amato

David Lawrason

David Lawrason

VINTAGES’ last release of November is historically the grandest of all – filling the shelves with expensive gift-able wines for the Holidays. It is far better than upcoming December 9 release in this regard, so if you were planning to wait two more weeks to do your Top Drops purchasing, change your plans. And as most stores will have these wines coming onto the shelves Thursday and Friday, you might want to get out there sooner rather than later.

I don’t like to contribute to a shopping frenzy at the LCBO. It is such a lousy way to purchase wine. But panicked buying has been part of the game at VINTAGES for as long as I have been reviewing releases.  The system is at fault. Things have improved a little in the sense that there are now more on-line options and direct-from-agent options (and through our WineAlign Exchange) but for the vast majority who just want go into a store, spend 30 minutes, and leave with a basket of goodies, a trip to VINTAGES is still the only option.

There was something of a frenzy situation with the November 11 release around an obscure Tuscan red Corte 2014 Medicea Athos that cost $28.95. The fuss was created when VINTAGES decided to publish the 99-point score this wine had been awarded by the equally obscure Luca Maroni, in a publication called Annuario dei Migliori Vini Italiani. It was an unnecessarily sweet red that I scored 88.  I heard tell of frantic consumers and harried staff racing around trying secure bottles, with bad manners and bad tempers in full boil.

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All of my picks below have scored higher than 91 points, so I suppose I might be considered guilty of fomenting the same kind of behaviour. I have even included two 95-point wines (but they are not $28, believe me). I am increasingly disliking the 100-point system due to widespread commercial abuse, lack of consistency and score creep, but that is for a different time. I am more concerned at the moment in the shopping days leading up to Christmas, and that a good time is had by all, and that VINTAGES be more wary of aggravating customers already frayed and disadvantaged by its monopolistic structure and fixed bi-weekly releases.

So here we go. Good luck, and be careful out there!

November 25th VINTAGES Buyers Guide: 

The Whites and a Sparkling:

Kistler 2014 Sonoma Mountain Chardonnay, Sonoma Mountain, California ($107.95)
David Lawrason –  From one of the best chardonnay producers in California, this is a delicious, layered and elegant edition that captures the leanness and tension of good Burgundy and overlays some California fruit and charm. It is medium weight, very refined and almost silky with a great acid core and excellent to outstanding length.…


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And that’s it for now. Coming up next week is our first look at the large Dec 9 release. And later in December watch for John’s annual fizz report and other Holiday newsletters. For another gift idea, please read my recently published article, Red Icons Unfiltered, for information about some of Canada’s best red wines and how to give a collectors 3-pack of Canada’s top red wines.

David Lawrason
VP of Wine

Canada's Red Icons

Use these quick links for access to all of our Top Picks in the New Release. Non-Premium members can select from all release dates 30 days prior.

Lawrason’s Take
Szabo’s Smart Buys
Sara’s Sommelier Selections
Michael’s Mix

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