WineAlign Gift Guide – Ontario Edition

20 Great Bottles

WineAlign critics in Ontario review thousands of wines released through the LCBO Vintages stores every year.  During the last hectic days before Christmas it is difficult to sort through what’s left, with the added pressure of making rushed decisions in a crowded store.  To ease wine gifting stress Sara d’Amato (SD), Janet Dorozynski (JD), John Szabo (JS), and David Lawrason (DL) have pooled their palates to assemble a list of 20 higher end wines that they would like to receive, and that you will be proud to give this Christmas.

Furthermore, thanks to WineAlign’s inventory tracking, they are able to assure you that there were decent stocks available as of December 11. (By registering for WineAlign you can find the inventory at your closest LCBO Vintages store). Put the following great buys on your personal WineAlign shopping list.  Here’s a list of these 20 great  bottles with inventory at your local LCBO.  For our friends in BC, here’s the BC WineAlign Gift Guide .

Ontario Critic Team

The Bubble

Krug Grande Cuvee Brut Champagne
Krug Grande Cuvee Brut ($271.95)
Champagne, France

Looking for a gift for the woman or man who has it all? You can rest assured that if they have this, they’ll be even happier they have another. (SD)

The Whites

Domaine Bachey Legros Vieilles Vignes Chassagne Montrachet Morgeot 1er Cru 2010

Domaine Bachey Legros Vieilles Vignes Chassagne Montrachet Morgeot 1er Cru 2010 ($59.95)
Burgundy, France

What wine lover wouldn’t be thrilled to get a great white Burgundy, especially from a very fine site in the best vintage in recent times. Drink or cellar. (DL)

Bachelder Wismer Vineyard Chardonnay 2010

Bachelder Wismer Vineyard Chardonnay 2010 ($44.95)
Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada

A complex and creamy Chardonnay from one of Niagara’s famous vineyards (Wismer) is sure to impress lovers of cool climate Chardonnay. (JD)

Grgich Hills Chardonnay 2010

Grgich Hills Estate Chardonnay 2010 ($55.00)
Napa Valley, California, U.S.A

Another fabulous Chardonnay, this time from California, which is refined, elegant and biodynamic, for the environmentalist on your list.(JD)

Kerpen Graacher Domprobst 1 Star Riesling Auslese 2010

Kerpen Graacher Domprobst 1 Star Riesling Auslese 2010 ($36.95)
Mosel, Germany

I’ve recommended plenty of German rieslings over the course of 2013, and the 2010 Graacher Domprobst Auslese “1 Star” from Martin Kerpen is a 5-star wine that deserves another mention. 2010 was an extraordinary vintage that lent itself perfectly to sweeter styles of Riesling anchored on a balancing base of electrifying acidity. You could comfortably write “to be enjoyed in 2030” on the bottle, that is, if your giftee can resist it in the interim. (JS)

Kistler Sonoma Mountain Chardonnay 2012

Kistler Sonoma Mountain Chardonnay 2012 ($84.95)
Sonoma Mountain, California, U.S.A.

California continues to dominate VINTAGES selections, led by premium wines from Napa and Sonoma. Chardonnay has taken a stylistic about-face in recent years, shifting from thick, tropical fruit-and-oak flavoured to leaner, more svelte, subtle and complex expressions. Yet Steve Kistler has been producing this “post-modern” style of Chardonnay since the beginning, meaning he’s been ahead of the game. The 2012 Sonoma Mountain AVA chardonnay is a classic example of luxurious-meets-precise, a wine that exemplifies depth and class that will delight drinkers from the Côte d’Or to the Sonoma Coast. (JS)

The Reds

Château La Nerthe Châteauneuf Du Pape 2010

Château La Nerthe Châteauneuf Du Pape 2010 ($43.95)
Southern Rhone, France

In 2013 we’ve seen a terrific range of wines from the southern Rhône come into Ontario, especially from the excellent 2009 and 2010 vintages, and in the premium wine world these are frequently excellent value. A case in point is the 2010 Châteauneuf-du-Pape from Château de La Nerthe, a certified organic vineyard with roots dating back to the 12thC.  This delivers amazing depth and southern Rhône richness for under $45. (JS)

Norman Hardie Unfiltered Niagara Pinot Noir 2010

Norman Hardie Unfiltered Niagara Pinot Noir 2010 ($39.00)
Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada

A show stopping pinot noir and one produced from carefully selected vineyards sites across Niagara. Polished but also highly expressive and complex. If you’re hoping to dazzle, this pinot will not fail you! (SD)

Aurelio Settimo Rocche Barolo 2006

Aurelio Settimo Rocche Barolo 2006 ($52.95)
Piedmont, Italy

Cru Barolo remains a relative bargain for what is one of the world’s most distinctive wines, and the 2006 Barolo Rocche from Aurelio Settimo is a powerful, highly traditional style wine that will thrill fans of the genre. Recommend decanting this a good hour before serving, or cellaring another 3-5 years. (JS)

Renato Ratti Marcenasco Barolo 2008

Renato Ratti Marcenasco Barolo 2008 ($52.95)
Piedmont, Italy

Any collector, new or old, appreciates Barolo in the cellar. This is spry, intense edition from one of the best modernists won’t need to age forever, but it should hold well. (DL)

Château Des Charmes Equuleus 2010

Château Des Charmes Equuleus 2010 ($40.00)
Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada

The Equuleus is an impressive and fleshy Ontario Bordeaux Blend, or Meritage, that is drinking well now or can be cellared for a few more years. (JD)

Domaine Tournon Shay's Flat Vineyard Shiraz 2011

Domaine Tournon Shay’s Flat Vineyard Shiraz 2011 ($35.95)
Victoria, Australia

From the wilds of Victoria comes a savoury and meaty biodynamic red that will wow the big red lover on your list. Says Shiraz on the label but with the Rhone’s Michel Chapoutier at the helm it comes across like a Rhone syrah on steroids. (DL)

Sequillo Cellars Red 2009

Sequillo Cellars Red 2009 ($23.90)
Swartland, South Africa

A blend of Syrah, Mouvedre, Grenache, Carignan and Cinsault from one of South Africa’s most talented winemakers Eben Sadie, will appeal to fans of Rhone blends. (JD)

Château Joanin Bécot 2009

Château Joanin Bécot 2009 ($42.85)
Cotes de Castillon, Bordeaux, France

This is a merlot as it is meant to be – lush, silky and elegant, from a region up-river from Saint Emilion. A great glimpse of an up-and-coming region offering the best value in Bordeaux today. (DL)

Domaine Chante Cigale Tradition Châteauneuf Du Pape 2010

Domaine Chante Cigale Tradition Châteauneuf Du Pape 2010 ($41.95)
Southern Rhone, France

An impactful, sexy southern French blend from a region that is synonymous with distinction. Ripe, bold and a product of one of the sunniest places on the planet. (SD)

La Rioja Alta Viña Ardanza Reserva Especial 2004

La Rioja Alta Viña Ardanza Reserva Especial 2004 ($38.95)
Rioja, Spain

Aged to perfection and ready for consumption, this terrifically characteristic Rioja Alta is destined to impress. (SD)  Spain has been a big story this year with sales skyrocketing, an inevitable development as the world takes note of the vast depth of old vines and traditional know-how in the country offered at mid-twentieth century prices. For a glimpse of what Spanish wines must have been like circa the late 19th century, offer a gift of the 2004 Reserva Especial “Viña Ardanza” from arch-traditionalist estate La Rioja Alta, a marvel of savoury complexity. Indeed, it would be hard to imagine stuffing a greater range of flavours into a sub-$40 wine. This can be enjoyed now of cellared for another decade without concern. (JS)

Wynns Coonawarra Estate Black Label Cabernet Sauvignon 2010

Wynns Coonawarra Estate Black Label Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 ($27.95)
Coonawarra, Australia

A wine that tastes much greater than its price makes the best gift. An undeniably classy cabernet from both a producer and a region that consistently exceeds expectations. (SD)

Villa Maria Cellar Selection Pinot Noir 2009

Villa Maria Cellar Selection Pinot Noir 2009 ($32.95)
Marlborough, New Zealand

A great New Zealand Pinot Noir from Marlborough, a region more associated with Sauvignon Blanc but which is also showing great promise for this red grape. (JD)

The Sweet

Castelnau De Suduiraut 2010

Castelnau De Suduiraut 2010 ($42.95)
Bordeaux, France

Classic Sauternes is a discovery for many new wine lovers. This ‘second wine’ from one of the top estates is a beaut, and great value under $50 for a 750ml bottle. (DL)

De Bortoli Noble One Botrytis Semillon 2009

De Bortoli Noble One Botrytis Semillon 2009 ($31.95/375ml)
New South Wales, Australia

The critics are aligned – the Noble One semillon is a chart topping sweet (known as ‘stickie’ on the other side of the globe) and is happily still available. Botrytis has transformed these grapes into a highly complex and compelling nectar with undeniable, world class appeal. (SD)

List with inventory of all of these great wines at your local LCBO:  20 Great Bottles .

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