WINE: Essentials

Long ago the Vintages department finally got tired of reordering certain wines that blew off the shelves instantly each time a small batch was brought in and released.

So they made them permanent. These hundred or so wines are Vintages Essentials, and on shelves all the time. In June I tasted through all of them and here present my absolute “wow” wines.

If you want to learn my highest rated, get ready to wince. It is the 2009 Tignanello, a Super Tuscan red with so many killer descriptors I ran out of room writing it up. But the price, at $99.95, is very high, despite my 93 rating.

So let's look at the rest of the triumphant luxury wines. Here are five guaranteed to knock your wine socks off.

Esporao 2010 Reserva Red
#606590, Portugal
Rating: 92

This leaves all other Portuguese reds here in its dust. Big black plum, vanilla and blueberry aromas, with lush coconut, black cherry, sandalwood, mint, vanilla and black fruits flavours. The style is extremely poised and elegant.
Food match: Grilled rack of lamb.

Cloudy Bay 2012
Sauvignon Blanc
#304469, New Zealand
Rating: 92

A cult white once released in such limited quantities, people would line up for a bottle at each release in Vintages stores. Gooseberry, melon, lime and pineapple aromas and vibrant gooseberry, kiwi, guava and passion fruit flavours. Super zesty!
Food match: Broiled oysters Rockefeller.

J. Lohr Seven Oaks 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon
#656561, California
Rating: 91-92

The J. Lohr Chard rates a 90+ and is a fave rave. The equivalent red Cab is less known, with lifted blackberry and cedar aromas and mellow coconut, black cherry and vanilla bean flavours that are super silky. A totally elegant red.
Food match: Thick grilled steaks.

Concha Y Toro Marques De Casa Concha 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon
#337238, Chile
Rating: 91+

Major global wine critics have rated this red above 90 points for seven years now. It's inky hued, with violets, black cherry and plum aromas and rich flavours of cassis, sandalwood, blackberry, chocolate and vanilla. A gobs of fruit winner.
Food match: Prime rib roast.

Narcissist Riesling
#67587, Niagara
Rating: 90+

A very cute label with mirror-reflection lettering for the narcissist in us all. Aromas of golden apple, peach and a hint of honey, with slightly sweet tangerine, lemon, jasmine and ginger candy flavours. Delicious for porch or patio!
Food match: Chinese orange or lemon chicken.