Buyer’s Guide to VINTAGES November 13th Release

Review of VINTAGES Nov 13th Release

By David Lawrason, with reviews from Sara d’Amato and Michael Godel

‘Tis the Season to Give Good Wine

The big push to stock up on Holiday gifting wines at VINTAGES is in full swing, perhaps given more urgency because everything seems more urgent these days, even Christmas shopping. I don’t usually buy in to Christmas until about December 10, but I am feeling the tug now. After a bleak 2020 Christmas and very challenging 2021, including a (gratefully mild) bout of COVID, I am ready to be awash in the holiday spirit.

In the November 13 VINTAGES release, there are almost 150 wines and spirits, and in the upcoming November 27 release, another infusion of about 160. It is the time of year that people will open their wallets to more expensive wines, so both releases have plenty of big names and excellent wines, although the best go fast.

I am certainly of the persuasion that I will spend more on a bottle if it is a gift than I would if buying it for myself. And I would bet most people think the same way. I am in the very fortunate position to be able to try so many wines, and discover where the real values lie, and I am quite happy to buy and enjoy those for myself. I also know which of the more expensive wines are really worth giving as a gift, and might take the giftee off into a surprising and enjoyable new direction, which is a focus of our selections.

In recent years, VINTAGES’ big fall releases have featured the well-established big-name California and Tuscan wines, and I would bet a bottle of good Burgundy (only two minor ones in this release) that these two regions anchor the cellars of most Canadian collectors today. I make this bet because I have been doing some private cellar consultation and purchasing strategy work in recent weeks, a fascinating glimpse into how different people think about, purchase and use wine. They say that pets often resemble their owners…

But that’s a tangent for another day, because I want to return to the dominance of Napa cabernets and Super Tuscans and Brunellos in the collector’s repertoire, and why they make great gifts. They are so often talked about and highly rated by critics that there is a built-in “comfort of the known” factor that takes the stress out of purchasing. There is also the prestige and largesse inherent in giving big name labels. And lastly, they are indeed excellent wines, even if overpriced. The problem in the LCBO medium is that most are strictly allocated and sell out on the day of the release, with no other way to buy them.

Some have already been released in October and are now gone (eg Sassicaia, Tignanello and Luce), as I suspect is the case with the Nov 13 stars, which included the superb Luce 2016 Brunello di Montalcino and Masi Campolongo di Torbe Amarone 2012.  Coming up November 27 watch for Ornellaia 2018, Solaia 2018, Guado Al Tasso 2018, Antinori Pian del Vigne Brunello 2017, La Torre Brunello 2016, Caymus Special Select Cabernet Sauvignon 2014, Grgich Hills Cabernet 2016, Ridge Geyserville 2019 and Chateau de Beaucastel 2018 Chateauneuf-du-Pape. Safe, expensive, important wines.

We doubt that the WineAlign ‘cru’ will have an opportunity to taste them. From the perspective of the agents’ providing the samples these “sell themselves” so why slide them under the critics’ microscope? Well, it would be nice if consumers got to read about them from local critics they have come to know and hopefully trust, but I get that this is hardly a convincing argument for wines that are very expensive, with only reputations to lose, not gain.

So, this week, and when John returns for the upcoming November 27 release, we will attempt to provide recommendations for excellent gifting wine candidates, that may not be as obvious but will not disappoint.


Christophe Patrice Beauregard Chablis 1er Cru 2019

Christophe Patrice Beauregard Chablis 1er Cru 2019, Burgundy, France
$36.95, Nicolas Pearce Agency
Michael Godel – Gemstone cut, fine marbling and Kimmeridgian limestone chiseling. Terrific work once again from the Beines producer with more grape tannin and intensity than many.
David Lawrason –
Here’s a well-priced delicious, silky, ripe Chablis from yet another warm vintage. It has a classic if not effusive nose of yellow apple/peachy fruit with mineral/oyster shell, light lemon and crouton.

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And that’s wrap on this Gifting issue. As mentioned there will more suggestions when John returns to round up the November 27 release. He sends his regrets on missing out on this one. And there will be another special last minute gift guide before Christmas as well. 


David Lawrason

VP of Wine

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.

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

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