In late February, Ontario finally got that announcement that wine is coming to grocery stores. As with craft beer a large amount of shelf space is going to be dedicated to VQA wines, which gives local wineries more access to the market. While the LCBO has a fine Ontario selection both in the general list and vintages section, it is still a fraction of the total wines available in the province.
Another facet to LCBO modernization is that they hope to have online delivery available by mid-2016. What you probably don’t know is that there are many sources already available that will bring booze to your door. Here’s a quick guide to a few options available to you without waiting for the LCBO to get themselves set up.
Right now you can order from Grocery Gateway and Urbery. The selection is limited, but this will save you a trip to the LCBO for your typical booze purchases. However, If you’re looking for specific craft beer or local wine selections you will be disappointed.
There are also several other phone and deliver services available that deliver in as little as 45 minutes. Toronto Dial a Bottle, Always Dial a Bottle, Liquor Delivery Boys of Ontario, and Thebeerguy.ca are just a few of the services I found doing a quick search. Taking a look at the websites leaves me wanting more. Many of the sites don’t even list which products are available for delivery, and the ones that do have limited options available. Depending on how badly you want your bottle delivered the cost of delivery starts at about ten dollars.
I do enjoy ordering wine online right now, but never to order products that are available at the LCBO. The wineries in Ontario deliver to anywhere in the province which can save you a trip down to wine country if you’re looking to stock up on something you enjoyed on your last trip down or score some bottles of a new release without leaving the house. While the LCBO doesn’t deliver to your home yet they do have an online store (www.vintagesshoponline.com) where you can order wine and have it delivered to an LCBO near you. The Vintages online story is generally filled with pricier selections but it is worth checking from time to time for rare affordable wines and discontinued wines that get discounted.
If you’re really serious about ordering wine online there are a lot of websites you can choose from and order from an agency directly. Many of these wines are only available at restaurants in the city, but if you find a bottle that really love and want to stock up on you can order them for yourself. The great news is that you still don’t have to worry about spending a lot of money on a rare bottle of wine because it’s just that. The downside to ordering from an agency is you need to order wine by the full case. Here are a couple agencies that might have that rare bottle of Canadian wine you’re looking for.
- Nicolas Pearce – http://npwines.com/ – Nicolas’ list is interesting because he has set up a virtual label making is own wines based in Prince Edward County as well as wines made in partnership with local Sommelier Will Predhomme from Oregon and South Africa.
- Lifford – http://www.lifford.com/on – Lifford has a large portfolio and features some great small producers. My favourite hard-to-find Canadian wineries represented include Bachelder, and Benjamin Bridge (Nova Scotia).
All of this being said if you’re reading this and looking for something to drink right now here are five great bottles available in the LCBO today.
2013 Fielding Gewurztraminer – Vintages 146753 – $18.95 – ****+
This is your textbook Gew from the Ontario. The aromas are soft and floral, but distinctly rosy. The flavours on this wine are tropical, with lychee taking over. The finish offers up some very nice spice notes and the floral finish on the wine lingers for a long time. This is off-dry but with just the right amount of acidity. I generally go pierogi when drinking Gewurztraminer but the spice notes on the finish of this wine have me thinking sushi.
2012 Nk’Mip Qwam Qwmt Cabernet Sauvignon (British Columbia) – Vintages 303719 – $28.95 – ****+
This wine is a tremendous value. The nose is pencil shaving and plum with some smoke in there too. I was expecting the tannin to overpower this wine, but the fruit is front and centre with lots of cherry, black currant and blackberry. The finish on this wine is dangerously smooth. That being said, this wine manages to pack a punch on the palate while remaining very elegant. Expect this to age for seven to 10 years in the cellar but at this price it’s going to be hard to keep a bottle on hand because it is drinking great now.
2011 Ridgepoint Ripasso Merlot – Vintages 270488 – $19.95 – ****1/2
The concentrated nose on this wine is something I was not expecting. Raisin, currant and plum on the nose with hints of smoke. This is a very rich, juicy wine. The dried fruit on the nose makes way to very ripe strawberry, cherry, raspberry, and blackberry. The finish on this wine is smooth with firm tannin. This will need some time in a decanter if you decide to open it right now. It will do better with three to seven years in a cellar.
2014 Chateau des Charmes Barrel Fermented Chardonnay – LCBO 081653 – $13.95 – ****
This vintage of Barrel Fermented Chardonnay from Chateau des Charmes just may redefine entry-level Ontario wine. This offers everything that a good Ontario Chardonnay should have. Hints of vanilla and spice on the nose layer nice citrus and orchard fruit. The flavours match the nose with a pleasant creamy texture on the mid palate. Now, a wine like this is important because it’s the sort of gateway that could help someone move from the front of the LCBO to the Vintages section to get their hands on some of the smaller batch wines. Needless to say you don’t need to spend a lot of money to get your hands on a choice bottle of Ontario Chardonnay. Serve this a little warmer than fridge temperature. If you serve this too cold and it may taste a little woody, but when you let it warm up you will unlock tropical and orchard fruit flavours.
2012 Southbrook Seriously Cool Red – Release TBD – $15.95 – ***1/2+
This is a blend of Gamay, Pinot Noir and Zweigelt. You don’t see these varietals very often at Southbrook but they all seemed to work their way into the Connect series. It’s a little ironic that the first Seriously Cool Red would come from a very hot summer in Ontario. The nose is ripe and juicy cherry and raspberry. There is nothing subtle about the aromas of this wine. The flavours will fill your mouth right to the cheeks with raspberry, blackberry and cherry with slight whispers of smoke. This is medium-bodied with some nice weight to a medium finish. This is definitely a food wine and perfect for steak, burgers–pretty much any way you can cook red meat.