Buyers’ Guide to VINTAGES December 7th

Open Season for the Holidays!

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

This is the last and largest release of the year at Vintages, with about 180 products representing the widest possible range of styles, prices, regions and grape varieties to serve the widest possible clientele just before Christmas. The quality mean is average – lots of 86 to 89 point wines – perhaps because December customers are not the ones who are really paying attention during the other eleven months of the year and will be in indiscriminate Holiday shopping mode.

Which makes our job all the more important to come up with the nuggets of value and quality that dedicated readers will enjoy.  Vintages helped a bit. Of 180 wines we were allowed to taste about 100 (60%) over two days. New World one day, Europe the next, which explains why some critics have not tasted all. We have also added in a few notes from wines tasted outside of Vintages tasting lab.

There is a “featured” section on sparkling wines in Vintages Dec 7 catalogue that offers a couple of good buys but we are going to defer these to John Szabo’s annual Fizz Report coming later this month.

Some “unfeatured” themes also emerged during the tastings. The selection of eight red Bordeaux offers some very good 2015s and 2016s – both excellent vintages. They are not highly recommended as great values but most are very good wines.  Likewise, with a handful Tuscan reds, particularly from less well-known wineries in the coastal Bolgheri region.  In the New World, South America delivers some fine values, but this is hardly news.

Alamos Selección Malbec 2016 

Below we have lined up our value-driven recommendations for the Dec 7 release, with a couple of great wines price be damned.   And please bear with us if this one and only report goes on a bit longer than most.

VINTAGES Buyer’s Guide November 23rd: Whites

Ken Forrester 2018 Old Vine Reserve Chenin Blanc, Stellenbosch, South Africa ($17.95)
John Szabo – Still terribly, and happily, undervalued, the Old Vine Reserve from chenin blanc maestro Ken Forrester features regularly among my recommendations. Despite the low price it is age-worthy stuff; I’d buy a case of the 2018 and start drinking it after 2021, and follow the evolutionary journey until the end of the decade. Also a savvy gift idea for the insider wine lover on your list. Best 2021-2030.
David Lawrason From a steadfast South African proponent of this Loire grape, this perennially great value has a classic chenin nose of honey, quince/pear jam and elderflower, elevated by South African ripeness. It is medium-full bodied, quite rich but nicely dry and well balanced.
Michael Godel – From vines planted in 1974 in the Helderberg in Stellenbosch with an uncanny profile that is both salty and sapid. Truly chenin blanc from South Africa made by one of the great pioneers. Ridiculous buy at $18 Canadian.…

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And that is a wrap for this report. Again, watch for the annual fizz report later this month along with our Holiday guide where our critics provide their picks for Holiday gifting and entertaining based on wines still available. Happy shopping!

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.
John’s Top Picks
Lawrason’s Take
Michael’s Mix
Sara’s Sommeliers Selections

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