VINTAGES Buyers’ Guide – June 8th, 2019

Rewarding Excellence & Global Best Buys

By Sara d’Amato with notes from Michael Godel

As you read this report, critics from across the country (as well as our international judge, Dr. Jamie Goode) are en route to Prince Edward County for the National Wine Awards of Canada where over 1,800 Canadian wines have been entered to be evaluated. This annual “snapshot” of the Canadian wine scene gives us all perspective on our nation’s trends and growth in styles and grape varieties. I expect to see continued solid performances of varieties such as chardonnay, riesling, cabernet franc and pinot noir and a growth in less widely planted varieties such as syrah and gamay with more and more craft ciders showcased. By next week we will have a great deal to tell and look forward to reporting on just what Canada does best. Prepare yourself with a recap of what 2018 looked like when the Winery of the Year Award went to B.C.’s Road 13 with the Best Performing Small Winery Awarded to Niagara’s Two Sisters.


Last month I was fortunate to get a picture of what Portugal does best as a judge at the Wines of Portugal Challenge 2019. A sizable international jury, paired up with local experts, evaluated 1,382 wines and awarded 29 Grand Golds and 98 Golds which were testament to Portugal’s widening international appeal. With a more detailed report to come, I’ll entice you with an overview including the winner of Portugal’s best red wine of 2019: Quinta Vale D. Maria 2016 Vinha da Francisca. This relatively recent investment by the well-known Vinho Verde producer of Aveleda in 1996 of the Quinta de Val D. Maria vineyards in the Douro was initially exploited for Port production with increasing interest in dry blends. This meteoric growth from fortified to dry has gone up from 10% in 2004 to 45% now, due wide praise and solid returns. You may just be able to get your hands on a case in Ontario only through private order by Aveleda’s agent, Philippe Dandurand Wines, if you are quick to the draw.

Quinta Vale Dona Maria Vinha Da Francisca 2016, Douro Valley

The top scoring region was, unsurprisingly, the Douro, where unfortified red blends are gaining steam. Portuguese non-fortified wine exports to Canada have seen a sharp increase in the past 5 years of 32% since 2013 although the sales of Port wine are on a slow, steady decrease. Canada is not just importing the mass-produced value brands either as 61% of what we receive is DOC category wine. Along with those many endearing red blends, single varietal wines were also worthy of praise. In particular those few that were issued from alicante bouschet stood out quite strongly.

Our travelling counterparts, David and John, will be sharing their favourites post-release shortly but until then, here are top picks from around the globe via Michael Godel and myself. The wines of the “Chilean Feature” are rather predictable and relatively average in quality so we have only elected to showcase a few of those that struck us for their value and complexity. We look forward to seeing more diversity in the future from this exceptionally dynamic and variegated country.

See John Szabo’s recent “Chilean Wines for All” article which features several recommendations from this release.

Sparkling, White & Fortified

Guy Charlemagne Classic Brut Champagne, Champagne, France ($57.95)
Michael Godel For a mere $10 further afield of the just sub-$50 sparkling wine category in Champagne and anywhere else traditional method sparkling wine is made why not jump head first and long into the complexities of grower Champagne. …

Paid ContentThere are nine other VINTAGES Release recommendations this week that are currently only available to our premium members. This complete article will be free and visible to all members 30 days after publication. We invite you to subscribe today to unlock our top picks and other Premium benefits.

Unlock our Top Picks

Please take a moment to understand why we charge for this service.

“For the cost of a good bottle of wine we’ll help you discover hundreds of great ones.”

Paid Content



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.

Michael’s Mix
Sara’s Sommelier Selections

New Release and VINTAGES Preview