Michael Godel’s Australian wine report and more March 30th VINTAGES release recommendations

By Michael Godel, with notes from David Lawrason, John Szabo M.S. and Sara d’Amato

In the previous Buyers’ Guide to VINTAGES for March 30, 2019, John Szabo M.S. introduced the WineAlign crü’s top picks, 16 wines strong to represent a good cross-section for our readers to carry in pocket for LCBO shopping. David and I share a generous handful of more solid values that just recently hit the VINTAGES shelves. In that Szabo Preview for March 30th John noted that it has “been a busy few weeks at the WineAlign office as we’ve ramped up our tastings outside of the LCBO, tapping multiple sources to bring you ever-expanding coverage of the worldwide wine scene – Canadian government store shelves are just a part of the mix.”

Related – John Szabo’s Vintages Preview: Tuscan Previews 2019

We are also out there on the road, not just in faraway places like Tuscany, where John and I recently tasted and reviewed hundreds of wines to share with our readers back home. We also graze in the local fields, attending events and tasting examples from all over the world, including those from Australia.

Feature – A dozen in-market Australian picks

Why do we taste so much Australian wine here in Ontario? Unbeknownst to so many it is because of that vast country’s multifarious regional and varietal exploration. Aussie wine is not one thing, or two, or three. It’s a staggering, grape-net entangling, micro-climate diversifying set of intention and circumstances, all adding up to a remarkable sum of its parts.

In Ontario we in the media and trade are also fortunate to have access to a broad array of Australian wine choices, much of it owed to the work of Mark Davidson. We taste Australian wines with thanks to the intrepid Wine Australia ambassador, traveller and purveyor of everything you could ever want to know about that country’s wine scene. Davidson passes through our parts on manifold missions each calendar year and delivers them to us, with perspicacious aptitude, aided and abetted by the local importers. Each time Mark comes through the murmurs can be heard as speaking the unspoken profound.

Just a few weeks ago Davidson and Wines of Australia rolled back into town, as they are want to do at least twice a year. The winter trade tasting titled “Australian wine, made our way” came barreling in on the heels of a comprehensively designed education program “Australian wine discovered,” a FREE online set of tools, materials, resources and detailed guides you really need to use. Download the FREE program at www.australianwinediscovered.com. Australian Wine Discovered is a new website and educational tool that brings to light the foundations of Australian wine, varieties like chardonnay and cabernet sauvignon, Sparkling wine, regions such as Barossa and Margaret River and Australia’s old vines.

Many of you know Mark Davidson, the man, the myth, the omnipresent legend who for more than 10 years has served as Education Manager/Market Development Manager, North America at Wine Australia. Six weeks ago I had the pleasure of judging with Mark at TexSom in Dallas, along with Laura Jewell MW, Wine Australia’s Head of Market EMEA/Regional Director, Europe. We were all invited to preside over 3,500 wine entries at this most exceptional competition at the invite of James Tidwell M.S. At the judging awards and Sommelier retreat Texsom unveiled the Australian education program with this introduction, “Creating educational materials for the trade is an integral part of marketing for the beverage business. Oftentimes it is a labor intensive process to compile all the necessary information. It is almost unheard of for a region the likes of Wine Australia to create this for you, but they have.”

We also remember back to Friday, July 22, 2016, to the opening of the LCBO’s newest “Products of the World” specialty store. The destination boutique at 65 Wicksteed Avenue in Toronto offers around 200 Australian wines, including one in four that are unique to this location. This selection is believed to be one of the best single-store assortments available outside of the Australia. Many of the wines are from LCBO’s Consignment Program, which means they are available to customers for the first time outside of bars and licensed restaurants. The selection is regularly refreshed to keep the assortment interesting. This is a terrific place to locate hard to find Aussie wines.

As for the March 30th release, in the absence of temporarily being able to taste the wines in the traditional setting of the LCBO sensory lab we have worked hard to gain access to the wines via other channels. Ontario agents have provided us with many examples and LCBO store tasting bars are yet another way to have a go.

March 30th Picks

White Wines

Two Rivers Convergence Sauvignon Blanc 2017, Marlborough, New Zealand($19.95)
David Lawrason – This is a Vintages Wine of the Month selection, which means it is available in large quantities at a moderate/mean price and expresses the style well – although hardly a home run. The wine is blended from vineyards astride the cooler Awatere River which creates lime and dill aromas, and the Wairu River prone to creating passion fruit scents. Both are present on the nose. It is a straightforward, fairly intense, juicy, tart-edge and dry sauvignon with strong grapefruit/lime flavours. Some bitterness results but it is not out of sorts.…


There are fifteen other VINTAGES Release recommendations this week that are currently only available to our premium members. This complete article will be visible to all members 30 days after publication. We invite you to subscribe today to unlock our top picks and other Premium benefits.

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Michael Godel’s February 26th Australian seminar reviews

Shaw + Smith Riesling 2018, Adelaide Hills, South Australia

Pewsey Vale The Contours Old Vine Riesling 2004, Eden Valley, South Australia

Brash Higgins Chenin Blanc CHN 2017, McLaren Vale, South Australia

Giant Steps Chardonnay Wombat Creek Vineyard 2017, Yarra Valley, Victoria, Australia

Ten Minutes By Tractor Chardonnay Wallis 2016, Mornington Peninsula, Victoria, South Australia

Vasse Felix Chardonnay Heytesbury 2017, Margaret River, Western Australia

Mac Forbes Pinot Noir Coldstream 2017, Yarra Valley, Australia

Tolpuddle Vineyard Pinot Noir 2016, Tasmania, Australia

Henschke Giles Lenswood Pinot Noir 2016, Adelaide Hills, South Australia

Ochota Barrels Grenache Syrah The Green Room 2017, McLaren Vale, Australia

Yangarra Grenache High Sands 2015, McLaren Vale, South Australia

Jamsheed Syrah Seville 2015, Yarra Valley, South Australia

Thanks for reading up about the great multiplicity of Aussie wine. The WineAlign team will return over the next two weeks with previews for the VINTAGES April 13th release and extensive coverage of Ontario wines from Cuvée 2019.

Good to go!

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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
Michael’s Mix
Lawrason’s Take
Sara’s Sommelier Selections

New Release and VINTAGES Preview


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