Monday, May 25, 2015

  • Monday, May 25, 2015

May 30 LCBO Wine Picks: Southern Rhône + New World Pinot Noir

Wine Picks from May 30, 2015 LCBO VINTAGES Release
The next LCBO VINTAGES release will be on shelves this . The co-themes of this release, with 12 wines apiece, are wines from Southern Rhône and New World Pinot Noirs.

Of the 12 wines featured from Southern Rhône, three made my list of wine picks. Among them is an always reliable and dry (i.e. not sweet) Tavel Rosé comprised of Cinsault, Grenache and Mourvèdre. Also included is a Gigondas that consists of old vines Grenache (80%) and Syrah (20%), while the Châteauneuf-du-Pape is a blend of Cinsault, Grenache, Mourvèdre and Syrah. Both of these red wines can be aged for a number of years.

Three of the 12 New World Pinots are also included among my wine picks. Russian River Valley (RRV), in California, makes some very nice Pinot of different styles due to it's many varied soil types. The Migration Pinot Noir from RRV is made by Duckhorn Vineyards, with grapes coming from their own vineyards' sandy loam soils. Altitude plays an important role in grape-growing as higher elevations, which normally have poorer soils, and along with cooler temperatures, contribute to vine stress and results in greater flavour concentrations. The Creekside Pinot Noir is planted at 105-145 metres above sea level in the St. David's Bench VQA (Niagara) and is the first Pinot for this estate since 2008. Last, but definitely not the least, is the Auntsfield Single Vineyard Pinot Noir from New Zealand. The vineyard at Auntsfield Estate where this Pinot was grown consists of Greywacke rock and Loess clay soils - poor soils that produce great wine!

Other red wines worth pursuing in this release include the Alvaro Castro Touriga Nacional-led blend, and the Boschendeal 1685, which is a blend of 70% Shiraz and 30% Mourvèdre.

Lastly, the dessert wine from Bordeaux is a blend of Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc.

I find it interesting that more and more wines from the Flagship Store Exclusives (FSE) section near the back of the VINTAGES magazine are included among my wine picks. From this release, there are 5 such wines that I've recommended that will be available at very select LCBO VINTAGES locations.

Enjoy my wine recommendations for this week. Cheers!

Hidden Bench Estate Riesling 2013 - VQA Beamsville Bench, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (89 pts)Königschaffhauser Vulkanfelsen Pinot Noir Rosé Trocken 2014 - Qualitätswein, Baden, Germany (88 pts)Dow’s Late Bottled Vintage Port 2009 - DOP, Portugal (89 pts)

Red Wine:

  • ÁLVARO CASTRO RED 2011 - DOC Dão, Portugal (#285288) (XD) - $17.95
  • CREEKSIDE QUEENSTON ROAD PINOT NOIR 2013 - VQA St. David’s Bench, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#415877) (XD) - $18.95
  • BOSCHENDAL 1685 S & M SHIRAZ/MOURVÈDRE 2013 - WO Coastal Region, South Africa (#403667) (XD) - $19.95
  • ERRAZURIZ ACONCAGUA ALTO CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2012 - Aconcagua Valley, Chile (#203364) (XD) - $19.95
  • RUSTENBERG MERLOT 2010 - WO Stellenbosch, South Africa (#404194) (XD) - $19.95
  • QUINTA DAS CARVALHAS TOURIGA NACIONAL 2011 - DOC Douro, Portugal (#408112) (XD) - $21.95
  • PIERRE AMADIEU ROMANE-MACHOTTE GIGONDAS 2012 - AC, Rhône, France (#017400) (D) - $27.95
  • AUNTSFIELD SINGLE VINEYARD PINOT NOIR 2012 - Southern Valleys, Marlborough, South Island, New Zealand (#361246) (XD) - $29.95  reviewed here
  • DOMAINE DU VIEUX LAZARET CHÂTEAUNEUF-DU-PAPE 2011 - AC, Rhône, France (#983650) (D) - $39.95
  • MIGRATION PINOT NOIR 2013 - Russian River Valley, Sonoma County, California, USA (#412437) (XD) - $44.95

White Wine:

  • LAILEY UNOAKED CHARDONNAY 2013 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#299776) (D) - $14.95
  • REDSTONE LIMESTONE VINEYARD SOUTH RIESLING 2012 - VQA Twenty Mile Bench, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#381251) (M) - $18.95  reviewed here
  • BENZIGER CHARDONNAY 2012 - Sonoma County, California, USA (#034777) (XD) - $19.95
  • HIDDEN BENCH ESTATE RIESLING 2013 - VQA Beamsville Bench, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#183491) (D) - $23.95  reviewed here
  • OLDENBURG CHARDONNAY 2012 - WO Stellenbosch, South Africa (#374645) (XD) - $26.95  FSE
  • DOMAINES SCHLUMBERGER KESSLER GEWURZTRAMINER 2010 - AC Alsace Grand Cru, Alsace, France (#307694) (MS) - $33.95  FSE
  • MAISON ROCHE DE BELLENE VIEILLES VIGNES MEURSAULT 2010 - AC, Burgundy, France (#241091) (XD) - $48.95
  • STONESTREET BEAR POINT CHARDONNAY 2011 - Alexander Valley, Sonoma County, California, USA (#411579) (XD) - $64.95  FSE

Rosé Wine:

  • KÖNIGSCHAFFHAUSER VULKANFELSEN PINOT NOIR ROSÉ TROCKEN 2014 - Qualitätswein, Baden, Germany (#168237) (D) - $13.95  reviewed here
  • FAMILLE PERRIN TAVEL 2014 - AC, Rhône, France (#680801) (XD) - $19.95

Sparkling Wine:

  • LOUIS ROEDERER PREMIER BRUT CHAMPAGNE - AC, France (#093054) (XD) (375 mL) - $40.95  FSE


Dessert Wine:

  • PUKLUS PINCÉSZET TOKAJI ASZÚ 3 PUTTONYOS 2010 - Hungary (#980805) (S) (500 mL) - $20.95
  • CHÂTEAU NAIRAC 2011 - AC Barsac, 2e Cru, Bordeaux, France (#302125) (S) (375 mL) - $41.85  FSE

The rest of the wines from this release can be found here.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

  • Saturday, May 23, 2015

Talamonti Trabocchetto Pecorino 2012 (Italy) - Wine Review

Tonight's white wine was purchased from the July 5th LCBO VINTAGES release last year with the intention of opening it during my daughter's 1st birthday party. Like many white wines, it is not meant to be aged. Let's see how this is... 3 years after vintage.

TALAMONTI TRABOCCHETTO PECORINO 2012 - IGP Colline Pescaresi, Abruzzo, Italy (#372474) (XD) - $15.95

Talamonti Trabocchetto Pecorino 2012 - IGP Colline Pescaresi, Abruzzo, Italy (88 pts)

Tasting Note:

100% Pecorino. Inviting lemon and nectarine aromas from the cork. Quite aromatic with wet hay, flinty, and lemon aromas in the glass. Dry on the palate, quite full-ish with lemon, grapefruit, peach and green apple flavours. Has balanced acids and very good length with lemony flavours on the finish. Some saltiness mid-palate continues on to the finish. Drink soon. Score: 88 pts

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

  • Wednesday, May 20, 2015

16 Mile Chardonnay Niagara - Wine Reviews

Tasted these wines from 16 Mile Cellar with André Proulx and Krista Lamb as part our monthly #blendedcru tasting (if you would like to submit wines for a future tasting, please contact me). André gave us the story behind this winery and the naming of the wines, which I found to be very interesting. However, I won't repeat much of the story as I believe it to be somewhat controversial and is entirely irrelevant to what's inside the bottle.

We'll begin with the 2011 Civility Chardonnay that recently won Gold in the "Oaked Chardonnay over $20" category at the 2015 Ontario Wine Awards. With the winery being only founded in 2010, the fruit for this wine was sourced from Ed Hughes and made at Henry of Pelham with the assistance of world-renowned winemaker Thomas Bachelder.

The 2012 Rebel Chardonnay is also (lightly) oaked and was made by winemaker Regan Kapach. It is very much similar in style and flavour profile to the Civility - but comes in a wallet friendlier price point.

Given the quality of these wines, I hope to taste the rest of their lineup in the near future. Neither of these wines are available at the LCBO, but can be purchased at the winery or ordered online via their website.

Tasting Notes:

16 MILE REBEL CHARDONNAY 2012 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#) (XD) - $19.95
Medium intensity aromatics showing butterscotch, sweet vanilla, pineapple and pear notes. Medium-bodied and elegantly styled with nice aroma replays and a chalky texture. Balanced acids. Finish is long and clean, with touches of oak. This really opened up in the glass as it warmed with air. Score 88+ pts

16 Mile Rebel Chardonnay 2012 from VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (88+ pts)

16 MILE CIVILITY CHARDONNAY 2011 - VQA Niagara Peninusla, Ontario, Canada (#) (XD) - $24.95
Apple, peach, butterscotch, pineapple and vanilla aromas of medium+ intensity from the glass. The palate is medium+ bodied with subtle oak spice, peach pit, vanilla and pineapple flavours. It is very well-balanced with very good acidity and a slightly chalky mouthfeel. Very long finish. Elegance in a glass. Score: 89+ pts

16 Mile Civility Chardonnay 2011 from VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (89+ pts)

Sunday, May 17, 2015

  • Sunday, May 17, 2015

Argyros Assyrtiko 2014 (Greece) - Wine Review

Tonight's wine is from Estate Argyros and follows a family tradition dating back to 1903. The grapes for this wine were cultivated from a private vineyard that is 50-60 years old and located in Episkopi Gonia, in the central part of the island of Santorini.

This wine will be available in LCBO VINTAGES on June 13th.

ARGYROS ASSYRTIKO 2014 - PDO Santorini, Greece (#387365) (XD) - $21.95

Argyros Assyrtiko 2014 from PDO Santorini, Greece (90 pts)

Tasting Note:

100% Assyrtiko. Synthetic cork. Intriguing combination of minerals, fresh sea water and lemon on the nose. The palate is medium bodied and dry, with bracing acidity and an oily texture. Thirst quenching salty mineral and lemon citrus flavours in the glass. Excellent length on the finish. Will be enjoyed with homemade Halibut and chips. Recommended. Score: 90 pts
  • Sunday, May 17, 2015

Summer in Wine Country Starts in the Vineyard

Join me and the Niagara Grape and Wine Festival for the 19th Annual New Vintage Festival this June. I attended this event in 2012 and 2013 and enjoyed the food and wine each time (I missed it last year as I was out of the country).

Wine Country in Ontario presents a calendar of year-round events and none is as highly anticipated as the Annual TD Tailgate Party. The 6th installment of the Tailgate Party is set to take place on from 6:00-10:00 p.m. in the 2014/15 Grower of the Year’s vineyard in Niagara-on-the-Lake. Grape King, Kevin Buis represents the legacy of a Niagara grape-growing family and invites guests to join the Buis family in their vineyard for this special night.

The focus of this annual backyard-style event is squarely wine and culinary, and guests will experience the best food and wine that Niagara has to offer. Eight incredible chefs will serve up mouthwatering creations using the freshest local ingredients with an eye on culinary trends.

The Dairy Farmers of Canada will also be on hand to present a selection of artisanal cheeses that are unique and delicious.

And the TD Tailgate Party will host over 40 of Niagara’s favourite wineries and a showcase of their latest VQA releases; wines that are a perfect complement to summer entertaining. Join winemakers and wine industry personnel as they share their passion. From Vintage cars, to Vintage wines and incredible food and live entertainment, this is the kick-off to summer that everyone is talking about.

In addition to the Farm to Table experience at the TD Tailgate Party, guests can also sample the freshness of the season with the ever popular Discovery Pass Program. Culinary offerings produced with the first produce of the season or locally sourced ingredients will be served with perfectly paired wines.

The program takes place weekends June 13th through 21st, 2015. The Discovery Pass is your ticket to 8 wineries from the participating 41 winery partners across the region.

Discovery Passes are $40 and Tailgate Party tickets are $80 (plus HST). All are available by ordering online at or calling the Festival office at 905-688-0212.

Use Discount Code 'NV2015' before June 1st and Save $5 off your Discovery Pass.

Share your experiences at @NiagaraWineFest using the hashtags #NewVintage #DiscoveryPass and #TailgateParty.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

  • Tuesday, May 12, 2015

May 16 LCBO Wine Picks: Australia + Fresh Whites

LCBO Wine Picks from May 16, 2015 VINTAGES Release
The next LCBO VINTAGES release will be on shelves across Ontario this . Hot on the heels of Europe's Primum Familiae Vini (PFV) feature last month is Australia's First Families of Wine (AFFW), the primary focus of this release.

AFFW was formed in 2009 by 12 of the most iconic family-owned wineries in Australia. Ten of the twelve wineries are represented in this release, with two wines from each winery. Overall, I thought this portion of the release was quite well-represented, with quality wines ranging across wide price points. However, I'm left with a feeling of wanting more.

Of the 20 wines featured, 6 made my list of wine picks. Included among them are both wines from Yalumba - a Viognier and GSM-blend (40% Grenache, 35% Shiraz and 25% Mataro) - and Tyrrell's Wines - a Shiraz and Semillon. The Semillon, in particular, is an exciting wine that will age and change quite dramatically over the next 5 years - buy 2 or more and taste the beauty of aged Semillon over the coming years. The other two Australian wines are both Cabernet Sauvignons - one from d'Arenberg and the other, which just might be the best value red from one of the AFFW, is from Howard Park Wines.

Stoneleigh Latitude Sauvignon Blanc 2014 from Marlborough, South Island, New Zealand (90+ pts)
Fresh white wines for spring sipping is the mini-thematic of the release. Of the 11 wines featured, three made my list of wine picks below. All three of these wines are Sauvignon Blanc - one each from Chile, Ontario (Niagara) and the Stoneleigh Savvy from Marlborough, New Zealand. It would be interesting to try the two southern hemisphere wines, plus the Eradus Sauvignon Blanc and compare against each other, but also compare with the northern hemisphere Savvy from Niagara that is a year older. Sauvignon Blanc is typically meant to be enjoyed young, within 1-3 years after vintage.

There are two more dry rosé wines in this release that are worth your attention. The Delas from Rhône is a blend of 40% Grenache, 40% Syrah, and 20% Cinsault, while the version from Château la Tour is a blend of 40% Cinsault, 35% Grenache, 12% Syrah and 5 grapes making up the blend.

Hope you enjoy my wine recommendations for this week. Cheers!

Red Wine:

  • DON DAVID RESERVE MALBEC 2012 - Calchaquí Valley, Salta, Argentina (#064998) (XD) - $14.95
  • DE MORGENZON DMZ SYRAH 2012 - WO Western Cape, South Africa (#404202) (XD) - $14.95
  • SUSANA BALBO SIGNATURE CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2012 - Mendoza, Argentina (#260919) (XD) - $19.95
  • YALUMBA THE STRAPPER GSM 2012 - Barossa, South Australia (#295873) (XD) - $19.95
  • HOWARD PARK MIAMUP CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2012 - Margaret River, Western Australia (#410019) (XD) - $19.95
  • TYRRELL’S RUFUS STONE SHIRAZ 2012 - Heathcote, Victoria, Australia (#091488) (XD) - $22.95
  • QUINTA DO CARDO RESERVA TOURIGA NACIONAL 2010 - DOC Beiras, Portugal (#408096) (XD) - $26.95  Flagship Store Exclusive
  • CARABELLA ESTATE PINOT NOIR 2012 - Chehalem Mountains, Oregon, USA (#180125) (XD) - $46.95
  • D’ARENBERG THE COPPERMINE ROAD CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2010 - McLaren Vale, South Australia (#943399) (XD) - $49.95

White Wine:

  • MATETIC CORRALILLO SAUVIGNON BLANC 2014 - San Antonio Valley, Chile (#347740) (XD) - $14.95
  • FEATHERSTONE BLACK SHEEP RIESLING 2014 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#080234) (M) - $16.95
  • KELLEREI KALTERN CALDARO PINOT GRIGIO 2013 - DOC, Alto Adige, Italy (#317867) (XD) - $16.95
  • CREEKSIDE BACKYARD BLOCK SAUVIGNON BLANC 2013 - VQA Creek Shores, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#341792) (XD) - $17.95
  • JEAN-LUC COLOMBO LES ABEILLES DE COLOMBO CÔTES DU RHÔNE 2013 - AC, Rhône, France (#413187) (XD) - $17.95
  • ERADUS SAUVIGNON BLANC 2014 - Awatere Valley, Marlborough, South Island, New Zealand (#225557) (XD) - $18.95  reviewed here
  • STONELEIGH LATITUDE SAUVIGNON BLANC 2014 - Marlborough, South Island, New Zealand (#324228) (XD) - $21.95  reviewed here
  • YALUMBA VIOGNIER 2013 - Eden Valley, South Australia (#954644) (XD) - $24.95
  • TYRRELL’S BROOKDALE SEMILLON 2013 - Hunter Valley, New South Wales, Australia (#269316) (D) - $24.95
  • KISTLER SONOMA MOUNTAIN CHARDONNAY 2013 - Sonoma Mountain, Sonoma County, California, USA (#183921) (XD) - $98.95

Rosé Wine:

  • DELAS SAINT-ESPRIT CÔTES-DU-RHÔNE ROSÉ 2014 - AC, Rhône, France (#224964) (XD) - $14.95
  • CHÂTEAU LA TOUR DE L’ÉVÊQUE ROSÉ 2014 - AC Côtes de Provence, France (#319392) (XD) - $18.95


  • COCKBURN’S QUINTA DOS CANAIS VINTAGE PORT 2000 - DOP, Portgual (#335380) (S) - $39.95

The rest of the wines from this release can be found here.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

  • Saturday, May 9, 2015

Thalia Sauvignon Blanc - Vilana 2014 (Greece) - Wine Review

Another summery-type of day calls for a summery-type of wine. Tonight, it's yet another wine from Greece that is a white wine blend of Sauvignon Blanc and the local varietal Vilana.

Vilana is mainly found on Greek's largest island - Crete. And even though Crete is dominated by red grapes, Vilana is the most planted white grape on the island. This varietal is quite difficult to grow and produces wines that are thirst-quenching and easy to drink. It is also good for food pairing, especially when your meal contains a wide range of contrasting dishes. Tonight, I will be sipping on this with tomato and onion tiger shrimps, followed by dal bhat (rice).

This wine is available at the LCBO as part of General List and is readily available throughout the province of Ontario.

THALIA SAUVIGNON BLANC - VILANA 2014 - PGI Crete, Greece (#273490) - $9.95

Wine Review of Thalia Sauvignon Blanc - Vilana 2014 from PGI Crete, Greece (86 pts)

Tasting Note:
Screw cap. Citrus, melon, pineapple and herbally aromas from the glass with much of the same character on the palate. It's light-weighted with a fleshy mouthfeel and some richness. Freshness shines through on mid-palate. Dry, lingering finish. Serve well-chilled. Score: 86 pts

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