Buyers’ Guide to VINTAGES June 13, 2020

Wines for Outdoor Gatherings of Up to Ten People

By David Lawrason, with notes from John Szabo, Sara d’Amato and Michael Godel

If you have not been out in the parks during the recent streak of phenomenal weather, you must be the only person who hasn’t. I live and walk in Toronto’s west end, and I have never seen more people picnicking in High Park or along the banks of the Humber River near Old Mill. I took my dinner and beaker into the Park one night this week to talk shop with a buddy, and it was the best meeting in weeks. What was in my glass was a liquid of some sort that bore a remarkable resemblance to excellent New Zealand sauvignon blanc.

You will find the title of today’s column in one of Michael Godel’s always creative reviews, and I thought it was a very apt expression of what we are all going through as Ontario opens up. We really need to be outside, and we really need to socialize. And as it is well documented that this readership really likes wine one can assume wine will be shoehorned into any occasion, whether on a patio, deck, dock or in a garden, campground or park.

Discover the best of Chianti Classico

As we review some of the wines released at Vintages on June 13, I thought it was appropriate to have an eye out for wines you will want take outdoors and share in the company of your circle mates. Assuming your circle has radiated to ten adults, that amounts to 2.6 ounces per mate, so of course, everyone needs to show some largesse, and perhaps buy two bottles of any wine being served.

So one of the parameters for our selections this week is that wines that are cheapish and cheerful, although we include some collectibles as well.

The second consideration is that they be outdoor wines. That does not necessarily mean light and simple, but they should be fresh, fruity and chillable, even if red. Refreshment is not often discussed as a duty of wine, but it is certainly key outdoors on a sunny evening, and especially if picnicking where it will be stored in a cooler.

It should also be fairly intensely aromatic and flavoured as well to stand up to all that outdoor aromatic competition, like flower gardens, sunscreen, insect repellants, campfires and BBQs or maybe the distant reek of a wayward skunk. And by the way it also needs to deliver the goods from vessels that might not be Riedel stemware.

I don’t know about you but I am completely fed up with advertisers and governments lecturing the populace about social distancing and disinfecting.  So, I am only going to do that briefly, as there are important precautions around wine gatherings that make sense. No open spittoons. No sharing of glasses, and make sure your glass is marked as yours to avoid mix ups. And lastly the person who brought the wine should be the only one handling the bottle and pouring it.

So we hope you enjoy the following.  And we direct you to further in-depth reading. Michael Godel has penned a piece on the world’s largest tasting of Barbaresco at Focus on Barbaresco at Nebbiolo Prima 2020


Pazo de Villarei 2018 Albariño, Rias Baixas, Spain ($18.95)
John Szabo – A perfectly lively and fresh, zesty and citrus-floral-driven albariño, well made and regionally representative. I like the lime and lime pith/zest flavour, the white flowers, and the crunchy, green acids. A perfect summer patio wine, attractively priced.
David Lawrason – This a lighthearted but not weak albarino from coastal northwest Spain. It shows exotic grapefruit, spearmint, ginger and peachy fruit in a fresh, lightly spritzed style with a slightly bitter grapefruit finish.  Ideal patio aperitif.
Sara d’Amato – My kind of summer white, this surprisingly rich but zesty albariño is notable enticing on the nose with elegant mineral notes, pear and tropical.  Guava bursts forth on the satisfying palate. Excellent value.

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And that’s a wrap for this time. We’ll be back two weeks from now with a look at the June 27 release.

David Lawrason
VP of Wine

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

New Release and VINTAGES Preview