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  • Date publishedThursday, November 26, 2020

Domaine Hamelin Beauroy Chablis 1er Cru 2018 (Burgundy) - Wine Review

wine review is this lovely Premier Cru Chablis that arrives in LCBO VINTAGES this weekend. This white wine is featured in the  LCBO VINTAGES Release as a Top Holiday Wine and is indeed just that!

I have had the pleasure of tasting this wine on a couple of occasions in the past, including the 2014 Domaine Hamelin Beauroy Chablis 1er Cru when it came through VINTAGES in 2016. It is crafted by Domaine Hamelin, a producer whose roots begin in 1840 when Gustave Hamelin grew 2 hectares of vines alongside his mixed farm. In 1880, Pierre Hamelin grew 3 hectares of vines alongside his farm, using his mule to help work the vines. At the time, the wine was held in 132 Litre barrels, giving rise to their name "feuillette", or little cask. The wines were sold in these containers and transported by river. In 1911, Georges Hamelin extends to property and grows 4 hectares of vines and working them by horse. In 1948, they began using a mechanical horizontal press and 5 years later started using a high-clearance tractor. Marc Hamelin created his own vineyard and then added the area he inherited from his father, while also building a new vat room.

Today, Thierry and his son Charles Hamelin, the 6th and 7th generations of the family continue winegrowing activities, perpetuating the Chablis wine tradition. The main focus is to keep the "flavour" of the terroir while using a mix of old traditions and modern winemaking techniques.

This Premier Cru Chablis is 100% Chardonnay that was grown on very steep, south-facing slopes, that extend from the bottom of the valley to the top. The vines were planted between 1980 and 1982 and have Kimmeridgien subsoil. It was aged for 12 to 18 months in stainless steel vats prior to bottling. The 2018 vintage in Chablis has been hailed by some as "one for the ages". It has a rare combination of high volume and high quality. It started with greater water reserves in the soil from which the vines drew water during the hot summer months. The presence of fog and dew each morning also added juice to vines. During harvest, the fruit was also picked with grapes in perfect balance.

Domaine Hamelin Beauroy Chablis 1er Cru 2018 (92 pts)

Tasting Note:

DOMAINE HAMELIN BEAUROY CHABLIS 1ER CRU 2018 - AC, Burgundy, France (#391805) (XD) - $39.95
From vines planted in the early 1980's on very steep, south-facing slopes, this unoaked Chardonnay has intense, terroir-driven minerally aromas mingling with ripe, lemon citrus and touches of oyster shell, white floral, and acacia. It's medium+ bodied on the fresh, ripe palate with stony, lemon citrus flavours with hints of peach. It's nicely textured with fresh, bright acids that are crisp and clean. Some nutty and mealy notes arrive on the mid-palate, adding complexity and interest, lingering through to the long, juicy, textured, stony, oyster shell finish. Highly recommended buy. Score: 92 pts

Other fine wines from Domaine Hamelin can be ordered via their Agent - Connexion Oenophilia.

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  • Date publishedThursday, November 26, 2020

November 28, 2020 LCBO VINTAGES Release Wine Picks: Top Holiday Wines

LCBO Wine Picks: November 28, 2020 VINTAGES Release
The November 28, 2020 LCBO VINTAGES Release is another large release focusing on Top Holiday Wines for the season with lots of great options for gift-giving. It's the only theme of the release and is the 2nd-to-last release of the year. All of these will be on shelves across Ontario by this Saturday.

This mono-thematic Release features 24 wines as part of the theme on Top Holiday Wines - all with a starting price point of $28.95. Eight of these wines are included among my top wine picks and all will provide pleasure. First up is the iconic Bolgheri that is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and a small amount of Petit Verdot. Also from the old world, there is an excellent Gran Selezione Chianti Classico that consists of 92% Sangiovese and 8% Malvasia Nera / Colorino, and a lovely Premier Cru Chablis that is, of course, made with Chardonnay. There's also a lovely Pinot Noir from Central Otago. On the local front, a pair of lovely wines from Niagara's Le Clos Jordanne make the list again - a Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. There is also the consistently great Blanc de Blanc sparkling wine that is 100% Chardonnay, and the Hidden Bench red that consists of 47% Merlot, 29% Malbec, and 24% Cabernet Franc.

Domaine Hamelin Beauroy Chablis 1er Cru 2018 (92 pts)Loveblock Pinot Noir 2018 (91 pts)

From my red wine recommendations, the red from Bordeaux is 100% Merlot, while the Syrah from Costières de Nîmes actually includes 10% Grenache. The Roussillon red consists of Syrah, Mourvèdre, and Grenache, while the Hawke's Bay red is a blend of 67% Merlot, 17% Cabernet Sauvignon, 11% Malbec, and 5% Cabernet Franc. The Spanish red consists of 55% Monastrell, 30% Garnacha, and 15% Syrah, and lastly, the Brunello is made with 100% Sangiovese.

Donatella Cinelli Colombini Brunello di Montalcino 2013 (92+ pts)Elephant Hill Merlot / Cabernet / Malbec 2016 (91 pts)

Château Hauchat 2018Les Vins Bonhomme El Petit Bonhomme 2018 (88 pts)

Among my white wine picks from the rest of the Release, the only blend is an (organic) wine from British Columbia that is an intriguing blend of three aromatic varietals - 45% Bacchus, 45% Pinot Blanc, and 10% Riesling that is crafted in a slightly sweeter style. The only other wine with any amount of sweetness is a Riesling from Niagara. For single varietal wines, there are a pair of lovely Sauvignon Blanc wines worth a look - a lovely Sancerre, as well as a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc. There is also a very nice Chardonnay from Oregon, as well as a locally crafted Chardonnay by Cave Spring in Niagara. There is also an intriguing Alvarinho from Portugal.

Jean-Max Roger Cuvée Genèse Sancerre 2018Vidal Estate Sauvignon Blanc 2019 (89 pts)

Enjoy my wine recommendation from this Release and stay safe during the holiday season!

Red Wine:

  • LES VINS BONHOMME EL PETIT BONHOMME 2018 - DOP Jumilla, Spain (#16578) (XD) - $16.95  88 pts  wine review
  • CHÂTEAU HAUCHAT 2018 - AC Fronsac, Bordeaux, France (#123489) (XD) - $17.95  review coming soon...
  • MICHEL GASSIER FLEUR DE SYRAH 2018 - AC Costières de Nîmes, Rhône, France (#678086) (XD) - $17.95
  • GÉRARD BERTRAND GRAND TERROIR LES ASPRES SYRAH / MOURVÈDRE / GRENACHE 2017 - AP Côtes du Roussillon Les Aspres, France (#413245) (XD) - $19.95
  • EL ENEMIGO LOS PARAISOS BONARDA 2016 - Unfiltered, single vineyard, Mendoza, Argentina (#17286) (XD) - $21.95
  • TOURNON SHAYS FLAT VINEYARD SHIRAZ 2013 - Pyrenees, Victoria, Australia (#311480) (XD) - $23.95  review coming soon...

    Tournon Shays Flat Vineyard Shiraz 2013
  • ELEPHANT HILL MERLOT / CABERNET / MALBEC 2016 - Hawke's Bay, North Island, New Zealand (#630517) (XD) - $28.95  91 pts  wine review
  • LOVEBLOCK PINOT NOIR 2018 - Central Otago, South Island, New Zealand (#313924) (XD) - $34.95  91 pts  wine review
  • HIDDEN BENCH TERROIR CACHÉ 2017 - Unfiltered, VQA Beamsville Bench, Niagara Escarpment, Ontario, Canada (#505610) (XD) - $44.95
  • LE CLOS JORDANNE LE GRAND CLOS PINOT NOIR 2018 - VQA Twenty Mile Bench, Niagara Escarpment, Ontario, Canada (#184564) (XD) - $44.95
  • DONATELLA CINELLI COLOMBINI BRUNELLO DI MONTALCINO 2013 - DOCG, Tuscany, Italy (#113357) (XD) - $68.95  92+ pts  wine review
  • GUADO AL TASSO 2017 - DOC Bolgheri Superiore, Tuscany, Italy (#986380) (XD) - $161.95

White Wine:

  • VONDELING PETIT BLANC CHENIN BLANC 2019 - WO Voor-Paardeberg, South Africa (#16011) (XD) - $14.95
  • SPERLING MARKET WHITE 2018 - BC VQA Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, Canada (#551374) (D) - $17.95
  • CAVE SPRING ESTATE CHARDONNAY 2018 - Cave Spring Vineyard, VQA Beamsville Bench, Niagara Escarpment, Ontario, Canada (#256552) (XD) - $19.95
  • AVELEDA SOLOS DE GRANITO ALVARINHO 2018 - Vinho Regional Minho, Portugal (#17514) (XD) - $19.95
  • VIDAL ESTATE SAUVIGNON BLANC 2019 - Marlborough, South Island, New Zealand (#12636) (XD) - $19.95  89 pts  wine review
  • JEAN-MAX ROGER CUVÉE GENÈSE SANCERRE 2018 - AC, Loire, France (#189126) (XD) - $33.95  review coming soon...
  • CHARLES BAKER PICONE VINEYARD RIESLING 2017 - VQA Vinemount Ridge, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#241182) (D) - $37.20  FE
  • DOMAINE HAMELIN BEAUROY CHABLIS 1ER CRU 2018 - AC, Burgundy, France (#391805) (XD) - $39.95  92 pts  wine review
  • ROSEROCK CHARDONNAY 2017 - Eola-Amity Hills, Willamette Valley, Oregon, USA (#573568) (XD) - $42.95  FE
  • LE CLOS JORDANNE LE GRAND CLOS CHARDONNAY 2018 - VQA Twenty Mile Bench, Niagara Escarpment, Ontario, Canada (#184549) (XD) - $44.95

Sparkling Wine:

  • HENRY OF PELHAM CUVÉE CATHARINE CARTE BLANCHE ESTATE BLANC DE BLANC 2015 - Traditional method, VQA Short Hills Bench, Niagara Escarpment, Ontario, Canada (#315200) (XD) - $49.95


  • GRAHAM'S 10-YEAR-OLD TAWNY PORT - DOP, Portugal (#17506) (S) (200 mL) - $11.95
  • MESSIAS 10-YEAR-OLD TAWNY PORT - DOP, Portugal (#87205) (S) - $29.95

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  • Date publishedTuesday, November 24, 2020

Les Vins Bonhomme El Petit Bonhomme 2018 (Spain) - Wine Review

wine review is this nice, vegan-friendly red wine from the Jumilla DO in southeastern Spain. It is a new arrival at the LCBO as part of the upcoming LCBO VINTAGES Release.

Les Vins Bonhomme produces wines from all over Spain with a team of winemakers and small family owners. Their aim is to transport you to every interesting corner of Spain - from the indigenous Monastrell of the sunny Mediterranean, to the southern version of Cabernet Sauvignon that shows its Spanish colours, and traditional Tempranillo from the land of castles in Castilla y León.

This wine is crafted in an approachable style and is a blend of 55% Monastrell from 30-year-old vines, 30% Garnacha, and 15% Syrah from the harsh climate and bush vines of Southwest Spain. In Jumilla, yields are easy to control due to the lack of water, resulting in a direct impact on the quality of the grapes. The purity of fruit is kept intact during vinification as it is not exposed to any oxygen during the pump-over process. Winemaking knowledge has been acquired using the generational knowledge of Bodegas Juan Gil - who have been cultivating vines in this area since the early 1900s.

Les Vins Bonhomme El Petit Bonhomme 2018 (88 pts)

Tasting Note:

LES VINS BONHOMME EL PETIT BONHOMME 2018 - DOP Jumilla, Spain (#16578) (XD) - $16.95
Screw cap. Blend of 55% Monastrell from 30-year-old vines, 30% Garnacha, and 15% Syrah that underwent malolactic fermentation in French and American oak barrels followed by further ageing in oak for 6 months. Ripe, lush, black fruit, spice, rosemary, thyme, and herbal aromas with a savoury core. It's medium-full bodied with gritty tannins supporting the black fruit, pepper spice, and savoury earthy flavours with herbal touches. Some chalky grip on the mid-palate with balanced acidity. Good length on the savoury finish. Score: 88 pts

Other wines from Les Vins Bonhomme can be found via their Agent - Profile Wine Group.

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  • Date publishedMonday, November 23, 2020

Ruelas Reserva Red 2019 (Portugal) - Wine Review

wine review is a red wine from Portugal that is a new arrival to the LCBO as part of the LCBO VINTAGES Release.

It is produced by Parras Wines, a wine business that was formed in 2010 by Luís Vieira, but whose roots took hold with the acquisition of Quinta do Gradil in 1999. Parras Wines is based in the wine region of Lisbon and has more than 120 hectares of vines planted across 200 hectares of land. They also have their own bottling facility and produce wines from other parts of the country through partnerships with other local producers.

The Lisbon Geographical Indication (IG) appellation is one of the most important Portuguese wine regions in terms of vineyard area and wine production. It is formed by gentle hills of low relief, and extends north from the capital city of Lisbon, along the Atlantic coast no more than 40 km from the ocean. This multi-faceted region encompasses several denominations of origin, ancient and modern, with distinct characteristics. It has a temperate climate of Atlantic influence, with relatively mild summers that are cooler and wetter in areas closer to the sea, and warmer and drier in the areas protected by Montejunto Mountain.

This particular bottle is crafted by winemaker Carlos Eduardo using Tinta Roriz (Tempranillo), Touriga Nacional, and Syrah. It was fermented in stainless steel vats and then aged in oak for a brief period.

Ruelas Reserva Red 2019 (86 pts)

Tasting Note:

RUELAS RESERVA RED 2019 - Vinho Regional Lisboa, Portugal (#17519) (XD) - $11.95
A blend of 50% Tinta Roriz, 30% Touriga Nacional, and 20% Syrah that was aged for only a brief time in oak. The medium+ intensity aromas are ripe and fruity with dark red cherry and sweet spices with touches of raisin and fig. It's medium+ with more ripe dark cherry, sweet spice and some raisiny flavours to go along with fresh, balanced acidity and supple, slightly chalky tannins. Sweet vanillin oak and savoury notes linger on the finish. Casual, weekday wine that has crowd-appeal. Score: 86 pts

Other wines from this producer can be ordered via their Agent - Capital B Wines.

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  • Date publishedSaturday, November 21, 2020

Catena Cabernet Sauvignon 2017 (Argentina) - Wine Review

wine review is a lovely, high-altitude Cabernet Sauvignon from Argentina that is available year-round in Ontario as it is part of the VINTAGES Essentials collection at the LCBO. The 2017 vintage of this wine is in stores now and currently on promotion at $2 off until .

It produced by the iconic Bodega Catena Zapata, which was founded in 1902 and is known for, among many things, discovering extreme high altitude terroirs in the Andean foothills of Mendoza. With the true belief that great wines begin in the vineyard, the vision at Catena is to produce rich and unforgettable wines that are true to the special place from which they come. It is also the belief that in order to produce world-class wines, they need the right winegrowing and winemaking team. Catena wines are produced by fourth generation Argentine vintner - also biologist, physician and author - Laura Catena, and Chief Winemaker, Alejandro Vigil.

Althought Catena is known for its pioneering role in resurrecting Malbec, this wine is made with Cabernet Sauvignon - in fact, a blend that doesn't include any Malbec. Cabernet Sauvignon is the third most cultivated red grape varietal in Argentina and, together with Malbec it is one of the most researched varietals in the country. The Cabernet grown in Argentina all come from continental climates, but depending on where it's grown produces at least three different styles of wines.

This red wine has traditionally been 100% Cabernet Sauvignon, but more recent vintages have been blends. Through decades of study and exploration within Mendoza's high altitude mountain terroirs, the Catena family has identified special locations for its Estate vineyards. The 2017 edition of this wine consists of 90% Cabernet Sauvignon, 7% Cabernet Franc, and 3% Petit Verdot, using grapes from 4 high mountain Estate vineyards that are all alluvial in origin. The Agrelo vineyard is located at 3,117 feet (950 metres) above sea level and has clay topsoil with rounded rocks underneath. The Villa Bastías vineyard (Uco Valley) is at 3,675 feet (1,120 metres) elevation and has silt loamy soil over limestone. The Altamira vineyard in La Consulta is located at 3,593 feet (1,095 metres) elevation and sits on loamy soils with rounded rocks underneath. The fourth vineyard is El Cepillo, Eugenio Bustos (San Carlos, Uco Valley) and is situated at 3,593 feet (1,090 metres) above sea level on loam-sandy soils with thick calcareous layers, and rounded rocks underneath. The grapes were fermented using wild yeasts and aged for 12 months in barrel. I recall enjoying previous editions of this wine, let's see how the 2017 is tasting tonight...

Catena Cabernet Sauvignon 2017 (90 pts)

Tasting Note:

CATENA CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2017 - Mendoza, Argentina (#985002) (XD) - $19.95 $17.95 until Nov. 29.
A blend of 90% Cabernet Sauvignon, 7% Cabernet Franc, and 3% Petit Verdot from high-altitude vines grown between 3,117 and 3,675 feet (950 to 1,120 metres) above sea level. The perfumed, medium-high intensity nose offers lovely currant, cassis, herbal, and olive aromas with well-integrated oak and touches of graphite and cherry compote adding further interest. It's full-bodied on the smooth palate with dark berry, mild oak spice, and herbal flavours supported by balanced acidity and smooth, velvety tannins. Well-balanced throughout with salty mineral notes arriving on the mid-palate, joined by wood spice, savoury earthy, and chocolate notes that linger on the long, smooth and juicy finish. Enjoy over the next 5+ years. Score: 90 pts

There are quite a few lovely Catena wines available at the LCBO, but many others can also be ordered through their Agent - Noble Estates Wine & Spirts.

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  • Date publishedThursday, November 19, 2020

Tenuta del Buonamico Particolare Brut Rosé Sparkling (Tuscany) - Wine Review

wine review is a nice, vegan-friendly Charmat method sparkling rosé wine from Tuscany that is a new arrival to the LCBO as part of the LCBO VINTAGES Release.

Located southwest of Montecarlo, in the Province of Lucca, the story of Tenuta del Buonamico begins around the year 1870 with Giulio Magnani, the owner of the farming estate Marchi-Magnani, Giulio is from Montecarlo and his knowledge and passion for winemaking drew him to France learn the grape varieties and techniques used by the French to create highly valued wines. He travelled to Bordeaux, Rhone, and Burgundy and brought back grapes from each of these classic wine regions. Upon his return, he experimented with these grapes by blending them with Trebbiano, eventually finding success. From that time, wineries in Montecarlo began producing high quality wines.

The 100 hectare Buonamico Estate is located in the Cercatoja area, southwest of Montecarlo, with 48 hectares planted to vineyards. The current winery was founded in the early 1960s by renowned restaurateurs from Turin (Italy) to furnish their restaurant with Montecarlo wines.

Today, Tenuta del Buonamico is owned by the Fontana family. They have expanded the vineyards and wine cellar, while preserving the essential characteristics of a traditional winemaking style. Beginning in 2008, world renowned winemaker Alberto Antonini was brought in long-term to help improve the wines. This assistance has helped Buonamico become one of Montecarlo's leading wine producers.

Tenuta del Buonamico Particolare Brut Rosé Sparkling (88 pts)

Tasting Note:

TENUTA DEL BUONAMICO PARTICOLARE BRUT ROSÉ SPARKLING - Charmat method, Tuscany, Italy (#16712) (D) - $20.95
A vegan-friendly blend of Sangiovese and Syrah grown in a hilly area in Montecarlo, within the Province of Lucca, just west of Florence in Tuscany. Modest aromas of red berry, floral, orange citrus and grapefruit rise out of the glass. The palate is chalky textured with tart, lively acidity and bubbles that comes off as essentially dry on the flavour profile with grapefruit, citrus, and red berry flavours with touches of Flintstone vitamins. Mineral notes arrive on the mid-palate and linger through to the citrus, minerally finish, with very good length. Score: 88 pts

A few wines from Tenuta del Buonamico are available in small quantities at the LCBO, while the full portfolio can be ordered via their Agent - Capital B Wines.

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  • Date publishedTuesday, November 17, 2020

Trinity Hill The Gimblett 2016 and Sauvignon Blanc 2019 (New Zealand) - Wine Reviews

Trinity Hill Sauvignon Blanc 2019 (89 pts) and The Gimblett 2016 (91 pts)
wine reviews are a pair of lovely wines from New Zealand's iconic Trinity Hill that arrived in LCBO VINTAGES on . I've been enamoured with this winery and the Hawke's Bay region ever since enjoying the 2014 Trinity Hill The Trinity Red Blend a couple of years ago that I made it a point to visit the Hawke's Bay and Trinity Hill when I visited New Zealand earlier this year - more on this to come.

The idea of Trinity Hill was formed in 1987 when winemaker John Hancock met with Bleeding Heart restaurant owners Robyn and Robert Wilson at their restaurant in London. On a stony site in Hawke's Bay, Trinity Hill became a reality in 1993 because they recognized that this site would give them the ability to produce world-class wines. They also recognized the potential of the Hawkes Bay's Gimblett Gravels winegrowing district and quickly became one of the region's early pioneers by planting grape vines on a barren plot on the former bed of the Ngaruroro River that is now an 18 hectare vineyard.

By 2001, Trinity Hill helped found the Gimblett Gravels Winegrowers Association. It was created based on the terroir of the area of the old Ngaruroro Riverbed, with 34 member wineries and winegrowers making up the association.

Today, Robyn and Robert Wilson are still co-owners of Trinity Hill, while John Hancock moved on in 2018 to focus on his own negociant wine business. Warren Gibson is the Chief Winemaker. He worked with John prior to the creation of Trinity Hill and joined the team to work alongside John in 1997, earning several accolades along the way. Trinity produces wines using traditional Hawke's Bay varietals such as Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot, as well as (my favourite) Syrah, and, of course, Sauvignon Blanc. All Trinity Hill wines are produced with the utmost care and respect for the grapes and with minimum intervention. Making world-class wines for more than 20 years, Trinity Hill truly is one of New Zealand's iconic wineries.

Tasting Notes:

TRINITY HILL SAUVIGNON BLANC 2019 - Sustainable, Hawke's Bay, North Island, New Zealand (#247221) (XD) - $19.95
Screw cap. The fruit for this Sauvignon Blanc was sourced from Mangaorapa Station’s cool climate and argillite soils, in southern Hawke's Bay. Most of the wine was cool fermentated and spent 3 months in contact with lees, while a smaller portion was fermented and aged in small 228 L barriques. Elegant, restrained aromas of lime, citrus and stone fruits with touches of guava, passion fruit, and leesy characters. The medium bodied palate has a nice texture with more citrusy lime and stone fruit flavours joined by subtle leesy and oak notes that balance the crisp, fresh, and lively acidity. Interesting notes of oyster shell minerality linger on the long, juicy finish. Would be a fine pairing with oysters. Score: 89 pts

Trinity Hill Sauvignon Blanc 2019 (89 pts)Trinity Hill The Gimblett 2016 (91 pts)

TRINITY HILL THE GIMBLETT 2016 - Gimblett Gravels, Hawke's Bay, North Island, New Zealand (#280263) (XD) - $39.95
Screw cap. This blend of 43% Cabernet Sauvignon, 41% Cabernet Franc, 14% Merlot, and 2% Malbec has lovely, perfumed aromas of ripe red and black fruits, currant, cassis and spices with subtle notes of sweet tobacco, floral, herb and leather. Some olive aromas develop with time in the glass. It's medium-full+ bodied on the palate with firm, structured, and grippy tannins along with juicy acidity that supports the blackberry, cassis, currant, earthy, and cedary oak flavours. Savoury, earthy and woody on the finish, with excellent length. Enjoy to the late 2020s. Score: 91 pts

Other fine wines from Trinity Hill can be ordered through their Agent - Connexion Oenophilia.

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