Buyer’s Guide to VINTAGES November 19 Release

Canadian Stars, Chilean Gems, Critics Picks and Ontario’s Best Sommelier

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

The VINTAGES November 19 release catalogue is once again gleaming with wines that the LCBO marketing department thinks make great gifts. A few weeks ago, John Szabo penned a brilliant piece on wine gifting etiquette and psychology, so I am going to avoid the whole topic, if you don’t mind. Instead, I am going to cherry pick two regions that further my interest — and hopefully yours.

Canadian Stars

This release features top-rung Canadian wines from both Ontario and B.C. And if you are already a fan of our best wines this might be a moment to share the love by gifting to those still on the fence. During a recent launch event of Le Clos Jordanne’s 2020s, winemaker Thomas Bachelder spoke of the need to better market Canada’s best wines, and how that bottle-by-bottle word of mouth, although slow, is the very best way. If you are a believer now is a good moment to share.

Two very worthy Le Clos Jordanne wines are on this VINTAGES  release, and two other less-expensive wines are still available in dwindling quantities. The National Wine Awards 2022 Platinum Award winning Le Clos Jordanne Le Grand Clos Chardonnay 2019 is re-released, and comes highly, personally recommended as one the most elegant, rich and deep chardonnays in Ontario. The partner Le Clos Jordanne Le Grand Clos Pinot Noir 2020 is also on shelf, a quite rich if reserved pinot that needs about three years in the cellar. There are also less than 200 bottles of the Le Clos Jordanne Jordan Village Chardonnay 2020 in the VINTAGES system now — very much worth searching out at $27.95.  And there are 500 bottles of Le Clos Jordanne Jordan Village Pinot Noir 2019, which all WineAlign critics have rated 91 plus, also at just $27.95. Burgundy can’t touch it at this price.


Other top Canadian wines this release include a wonderful pair of Stewart Family Reserves from Quails’ Gate in British Columbia. They are Quails’ Gate Stewart Family Reserve Pinot Noir 2019 and the Quails’ Gate Stewart Family Reserve Chardonnay 2019. They are named for the family that pioneered grape growing in Kelowna with plantings in the 1950s and have maintained quality while expanding production. These Reserves reach into fine levels of complexity, depth and elegance.  

Also, from B.C., Burrowing Owl is releasing a trio of its famous big reds from the 2018 vintage in the South Okanagan: Cabernet Franc, Meritage and Athene, and cabernet-syrah blend. My reviews on all three are posted but not all of the WineAlign Crü have not been able to taste. And there are B.C. and Ontario wines of note as well.

Canadian Wines

Burrowing Owl Meritage 2018

Burrowing Owl Meritage 2018, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia
$64.95, Wyse Wine Agency
John Szabo – Burrowing Owl’s premium red blend (37% Cabernet Sauvignon, 28% Merlot, 22% Cabernet Franc, 10% Petit Verdot, and 3% Malbec), is rich and unctuous, well-balanced and voluptuous, easily the equal of premium bottlings from further south in California. It could still use another 2-4 years to unwind, while high quality oak influence should continue to fold into the ensemble. Deeply satisfying all in all; best 2024-2034.

There are 24 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

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.”

Ontario’s Best Sommelier
By John Szabo

WineAlign congratulates Justin Madol, sommelier at Toronto’s Michelin-starred Don Alfonso, for taking the most recent title at the Canadian Association of Professional Sommeliers’ Best Ontario Sommelier Competition 2022. Following preliminary competitions across the province to identify the five finalists, the final was held on Nov. 14 at the Liberty Grand Entertainment Complex in Toronto. The #BOSC22 live competition challenged the semi-finalist sommeliers in a series of skill-testing scenarios including blind tasting, service and theory. Madol edged out runner-up Nathan Hooper (Somm Factory, Don Alfonso 1890; Toronto) and Cristian Perreault Hamel (Pompette and Pelican Wines; Toronto) and Christophe Reitz (Quatrefoil Restaurant; Dundas, Ontario). The fifth competitor, Connor Gallagher (Atelier; Ottawa) was unable to attend.

Madol was awarded numerous prizes for the win, including a trip to Chianti Classico, and a hot seat on the next episode of WineAlign’s Think You Know Wine. We look forward to matching blind tasting wits with the champion! Mr. Madol will go on to compete in the Best Canadian Sommelier Competition (BCSC) next year.

And that’s a wrap for this release. We will back to help stock your holiday wine rack with suggestions from VINTAGES December 3 release. And watch for the annual WineAlign Fizz Guide on December 8.

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
Michael’s Mix
Sara’s Selections
Megha’s Picks

Don’t forget to follow us on Instagram for the latest WineAlign recommendations, tips and other interesting wine information.