Buyers’ Guide to VINTAGES – Nov 12th, 2016

The Best Finds Under $25 and the Judgment of Kingston
by Sara d’Amato, with notes from David Lawrason & Michael Godel

Sara d'Amato

Sara d’Amato

Regardless of your perspective on the recent ideological and political upheaval down south, alcohol of some sort seems to be in order. You may feel the need to celebrate with an extra special bottle – if so, check out John’s Szabo’s report from last week that focuses on premium wines in various price categories. If celebration is out of the question, you may be looking for the best you can get for the least you can pay. In that case, we’re pleased to offer our advice on how to get the best for under $25 in this week’s VINTAGES release.

This week’s release features a small but solid group of wines coming out of the Pacific Northwest, in particular from the states of Oregon and Washington. Although I have highlighted a couple such wines below, you can expect more words from me in an upcoming report. A recent visit to those disparate wine regions yielded some unconventional and counter-intuitive discoveries.

Other than the major Star Quality feature outlined in last week’s report, you’ll find a diverse and significant selection of wines as VINTAGES builds up stock for the upcoming holiday season. You’ll notice that the number of wines in the release now increases dramatically until the end of the month. We are therefore doubling up our efforts and the hours we spend tasting at the LCBO headquarters in order to bring you these reports.

The Judgement of Kingston

Last week marked the first annual Judgment of Kingston Tasting, a blind wine tasting that pitted the chardonnays of Prince Edward County against those of California. The event was based on the 1976 Judgment of Paris tasting organized by British wine merchant and critic Steven Spurrier which put the best of Burgundy chardonnays and Bordelaise cabernets up against top California examples. In each instance of this blind tasting, a Californian wine was surprisingly awarded best in its category.  This year marks the 40th anniversary of definitive tasting that put the Californian wine industry on the map. It has thus prompted many such copycat tastings around the globe but this is the only one featuring the wines of Prince Edward County.


Admittedly the comparison of the elegant and more delicate PEC chardonnays against the bolder California styles seems like comparing apples to oranges but the outcome was less black and white than expected. Along local wine critics and colleagues, seven wines were blind tasted with a group of 150 consumers in the historic Kingston City Hall. Of the four Prince Edward County wines, two surfaced as the top wines of the evening: Rosehall Run’s 2013 “JCR” Chardonnay and Closson Chase’s 2014 “South Clos” Chardonnay. The third place award went to the cooler climate Clos du Val Carneros Estate 2013 Chardonnay. The tasting illustrated the finesse of the leaner more Burgundian style Prince Edward County chardonnays which were favored by this group of engaged consumers. Part Two of the Judgement of Kingston will feature County pinot noirs against their Burgundian counterparts. More information can be found at:

Back to VINTAGES and our Top Picks from the November 12th Release:

Our latest VINTAGES Buyers’ Guide selections are only visible to our Paid subscribers. Non-paying members will see the recommendations 30 days after publication. Non-paying members now have access to our New Releases to discover the best of recent VINTAGES releases still in stock. We have implemented changes around our VINTAGES content including a reduction in our annual Premium Membership rate.

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Use these quick links for immediate access to all of our Top Picks in the New Release.

Sara’s Sommelier Selections
Lawrason’s Take
Michael’s Mix
Szabo’s Smart Buys
All November 12th Reviews

New Release and VINTAGES Preview

Editors Note: You can find complete critic reviews by clicking on any of the highlighted wine names, bottle images or links. Premium subscribers to WineAlign see all critics reviews immediately. Non-paid members wait 30 days to see new reviews. Premium membership has its privileges; like first access to great wines!


Penfolds Bin 28 Kalimna Shiraz 2013

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