At Le Sommelier we are showcasing three wines in this post that each have their own unique story. 

The first is the very very very special Bodegas Toro Albalá Double Label Reserva Especial Don PX 1949. Yes, you read that correctly – this wine is from 1949! Made from sun-dried 100% Pedro Ximenez grapes, the wine fermented over a period of two months to about 8% alcohol, after which a neutral distillate was added to bring it to 19%. It was then left to settle in concrete tanks for two years, after which point it was put into 50-150 year old American oak barrels, and left to age until recently, when it was bottled, and deemed ready to drink! LCBO started selling this wine this morning online, and I doubt there will be enough inventory to make it to stores, as only 120 bottles were purchased, and 22 bottles were sold in the first 90 minutes. Purchasing wines through Classics has changed from what used to be a lottery system to a first-come, first-served ordering process, either by phone or online. Ordering began this morning at 8:30am. Click HERE for details.

A delicious, full bodied and rich red made from old vines Primitivo (AKA Zinfandel) will be released on Saturday in a wide release, so you shouldn’t have too much trouble finding this one. This is the second time that VINTAGES has purchased the Feudi Salentini Papaveri Primitivo di Manduria 2013, and I suspect this vintage will sell as quickly as the previous one did. Wine critics have been giving this release much praise, with John Szabo, MS awarding it 89 points, review below. Michael Godel wrote some mouth-watering words on, “From old Primitivo vines near Taranto and a minimum eight months in French oak. Aromatically dusty and musty up front and yet back lit by very ripe, cimmerian-toned, drip-fleshy, glistening tree fruit.” as did Sara D’Amato, “Playful, appealing with a spicy finish of good length.” This is an excellent value, I hope you will pick up a bottle of two. 

And finally, just to keep you on your toes, we have a sparkling wine from… wait for it, New Mexico. Yes, they make wine in New Mexico, and Gruet is the leading producer of traditional method sparkling wines. Their heritage originates in Champagne, with a family history of making quality sparkling wines. Their non-vintage Blanc de Noirs is a pale salmon in colour with aromas of berry and pear, complimented by a rich, round mouth feel on the palate. It finishes with a layer of cream and pleasant, warm toastiness. Incredibly versatile with all styles of food! In case you’re not convinced, this wine was awarded 90 points from Wines & Spirits Magazine, so for $28.95, try your first wine from New Mexico!

I hope you will take this opportunity to experience these three wines.

Bernard Stramwasser

Le Sommelier
twitter: @LeSommelierWine
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Albala Don PX 1949Bodegas Toro Albalá
Double Label Reserva Especial Don PX 1949


”The 1949 Don PX Reserva Especial differs from the other old wines from the winery as it is less dark, it even has a (very dark) translucent tone compared with the others, maybe because it has 2% more alcohol. It feels incredibly elegant and balanced, fresher in comparison than the beasts from 1962 and 1946, medicinal, full of spicy notes of cinnamon, cloves, a touch of ash, and the smell of an antique shop. The palate is fluid, sweet and fresh. Putting a drinking window to these wines feels a bit silly. You should drink it whenever you have the occasion. Drink 2013-2040.” –  Score: 97
 (Luis Gutierrez, Robert Parker, Aug 2013)

Varietal: Pedro Ximenez (PX)

Region: Montilla Moriles, Spain

Price: $338.00 (per bottle)
LCBO#: 440149

Papaveri PrimitivoFeudi Salentini
Papaveri Primitivo di Manduria 2013

Review: “A full and rich, and surprisingly balanced and composed primitivo here, with better-than-average concentration and harmony. Unlike many from the region, this is genuinely dry and not over-oaked, yet at the same time it doesn’t sacrifice the ripe fruit character and generous alcohol (14% declared), which Puglia regularly provides. Nicely priced, too. Tasted January 2016. Value Rating: **1/2” – Score: 89 (John Szabo, MS,, Jan 2016)

Varietal: 100% Primitivo (AKA Zinfandel)
Region: Puglia, Italy
Price: $19.95 (per bottle)
LCBO#: 434282

Gruet SparklingGruet
Blanc de Noirs Méthode Champenoise Sparkling NV

Review: “This affordable nonvintage sparkler has a lively mousse and a pale poached-salmon hue. Its ripe pear aromas suggest a rich wine, but that richness is enveloped by a firm, rosy phenolic grip. Chill and serve with gravlax.” – Score: 90 (, June 2015)

Varietals: 75% Pinot Noir, 25% Chardonnay
Region: New Mexico, USA
Price: $28.95 (per bottle)
LCBO#: 433037

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