Four Delicious and Well-Priced Wines at the LCBO: January 22nd Vintages Release

Of the wines I tasted from the most recent LCBO Vintages Release, these four struck me as both especially affordable and delicious. The 2019 Castello di Ama Chianti Classico is a captivating and complex wine that is nevertheless accessible and easy to drink. The 2020 Bellingham South African Chenin Blanc is a particularly enjoyable winter white wine, with rich aromas redolent of ripe and bruised apples drenched in honey. The 2019 Château des Tours from Brouilly and the 2020 Eradus Awatere Valley Sauvignon Blanc, on the other hand, are both vibrant, food-friendly wines that could make your next meal that much more delicious!

2019 Ama Chianti Classico

Aromas of ripe and dried strawberries and blueberries, interwoven with the perfume of rose-water and sandalwood scented multani mitti (a type of clay used as a face and body treatment in the Indian subcontinent) and slightly taciturn notes of dried herbs unravel languidly, as one pours a glass of this alluring Chianti Classico.

The palate is equally beguiling, juicy tart berries are balanced with savoury notes of dried herbs and tobacco, lifted by fresh acidity, and supported by polished tannins. The finish is enduring. This is a wine with depth and elegance that merits thoughtful consideration. Given its harmonious complexity and intensity, it is very well-priced (35.95$ CAD). Ageing it for 5-10 years ought to really let it shine. 

Score: 93

2020 Bellingham Old Vines Chenin Blanc

This is a dry Chenin Blanc (it has 2g/L of residual sugar) with classic aromas of bruised apple, orange blossom, honeysuckle, and wet stones. When one first pours a glass, there is a slightly reductive sulphuric note that is sometimes found in youthful Chenin Blanc, which dissipates with some aeration. 

Crunchy apples lead on the palate, with tart citrus notes and tonic water following in their wake. The wine feels slightly rounded on the palate, which balances the bright acidity that is so representative of this variety. The finish is moderate in length. 

Fruit for this wine were picked from old vines (old vines are thought to bear fruit that not only have greater flavour intensity than younger vines, but also more balance, and the ability to express the nuances of terroir more eloquently, although, this is contested). You can read more about old vines here. At this price (16.95$ CAD), this is an easy-drinking, pleasurable wine that will also pair deliciously with some sharp and creamy cheeses.

Score: 90

2019 Eradus Sauvignon Blanc

The Eradus has a varietally classic bouquet of tropical and stone fruit and crunchy green bell peppers, with subtle aromas of wet stones intermingling with these fruit and herbal notes. It evokes memories of sunny days on rocky beaches, the mineral notes presenting as a splash of salinity on the palate. It feels bright and invigorating, with juicy lemon flavours dominating and persisting on the finish.

This relatively “cool” expression of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc (as compared to a classic Marlborough example) from the Awatere valley has great versatility when it comes to food pairings! Try it with North Indian food like creamy tomato-based dishes (Paneer Tikka Masala, Butter Chicken) or lentils (like Dal Makhani and Naan, yellow dal and rice). It also pairs well with Ghanaian Waakye or fish and Jollof rice. Overall, it can stand up to relatively spicy food and its bright acidity and citrus flavours ought to compliment seafood.

Score: 89

2019 Château Des Tours Brouilly

Brouilly AOC is the largest of the 10 Beaujolais crus, accounting for over 20% of total Beaujolais cru production and generally known for producing the fruitiest Gamays of all the Crus. This Gamay has classically expressive notes of candied and jammy strawberries and red plums, along with hints of trampled violets and a whiff of black pepper. These candied and jammy notes transform into lovely ripe fruit on the palate with an impression of sweetness that is lifted by bright acidity and accompanied by soft, barely perceptible tannins that feel like silk tulle. The vibrant fruit on the palate give way to a slight bitterness in their wake that tastes like the blackened bubbles on a Neapolitan pizza crust.

There is aromatic and flavour intensity here, making this an accessible wine both in terms of how enjoyable it is and how well it is priced (21.95$ CAD). This should pair well with a vegetarian pizza, like a Margherita.

Score: 89