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  • Sunday, July 14, 2019

Planeta Rosé 2018 (Sicily) - Wine Review



wine review is a nice, dry rosé wine from Sicily that will be coming to LCBO VINTAGES on .

Planeta Winery is one of the premier wine estates of Sicily and a veritable fine wine empire. The company has vineyards and estates all over the island of Sicily including the Ulmo Contrada and vineyards in Sambuca di Sicilia where you can find their first winemaking facility and beautiful ancestral family home, located on the Arancio Lake; the Dispensa vineyard in Menfi, where they also make high-end olive oils at the nearby Capparina mill; the lovely Dorilli estate in Vittoria in southern Sicily; the Buonvini vineyards and underground winery near the Baroque town of Noto in southeastern Sicily; the Sciaranuova vineyard and estate located in the exciting fine wine region of volcanic Mount Etna; and their newest and smallest estate is the Capo Milazzo winery located in northeastern Sicily.

This rosé comes from their Dispensa Vineyard within the Menfi (Agrigento) district on the western part of the island. Menfi is where is the history of the family and their business began. The family planted their first vines on the Ulmo estate, a few metres from Lake Arancio and the 16th century farmhouse which has been in the family for 17 generations. The family houses all reside within the area in Baglio, as well as their library which holds hundreds of Italian and foreign books from 1700 to the present day, all dedicated to vines and wine. It is also in Menfi where you can find the remains of an ancient Phoenician wine press.

The soils in Menfi are moderately limey with mixed yellow and grey chalk, moderately fine textured, and a few stones present. It was vinified by destalking and sent to soft pressing for a brief maceration of 1-2 hours to achieve a perfect extraction of colour. After must was obtained, it was decanted, then transferred and fermented at 15°C in stainless steel vats.

Planeta Rosé 2018 (89 pts)

Tasting Note:

PLANETA ROSÉ 2018 - DOC Sicilia, Italy (#111856) (XD) - $17.95
Screw cap. Equal parts Nero d’Avola and Syrah. Fresh, medium intensity nose offers floral, orange blossom, melon, ripe berry, herbal notes and some minerality. It is medium-bodied and dry with saline minerality, citrus, melon, strawberry and herbal flavours that are supported by crisp, vibrant acidity that is ideal for food pairing. More saline mineral and melon notes linger on the finish, with very good length. Score: 89 pts


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  • Friday, July 12, 2019

Xavier Vignon Côtes du Rhône 2017 (France) - Wine Review

For wine review, I opened this organic red wine from Rhône ahead of it's release into LCBO VINTAGES on .

Xavier Vignon began oenologist consulting activities in 1996 in a laboratory in Vaucluse for 30+ cellars. With a growing clientele and knowledge of terroirs and grape varietals that are best suited for each other, he developed a reputation for being the "crazy guy". Xavier enjoys going into the vineyard and in 1998 he creates a consulting company with his friend Dominique Portet. Soon thereafter, his client base reaches triple digits. However, after Dominique left the partnership to start his own cellar in 1999, Xavier began producing artisanal cuvees from his garage for his friends. One of his winemaker friends' discreetly sent his cuvees to Guide Hachette and the results were one wine heart (i.e. Commended) rating, and all the other cuvees scored 3 stars (the highest possible rating).

In 2002, Xavier's wine importer friends asked if he could create his own wines. He chooses amongst the best wines he has made and creates Rhone wines of different vintages and appellations, and begins bottling as Xavier Vins.

More recently, Xavier Vignon decided that he had to express himself in his own name because he wants, above all, to share with all lovers, neophytes or enlightened, the fruit of his passion: his wines.

Xavier Vignon Côtes du Rhône 2017 (89 pts)

Tasting Note:

XAVIER VIGNON CÔTES DU RHÔNE 2017 - AP, Rhône, France (#297317) (XD) - $17.95
This organic red wine is a blend of equal parts Syrah and Grenache, plus some Mourvèdre to round out the blend. The medium+ intensity nose offers lovely smoky black cherry, blackberry, and spice notes with hints of currant and minty herbs adding complexity. The medium-full bodied palate is more red-fruited and ripe with cherry, pepper spice, and currant flavours, along with some smoky mineral notes on the mid-palate. It has balanced acids and chewy, fine-grained tannins. Finishes with mocha chocolate and spice notes, with good length. Enjoy over the next 5 years. Score: 89 pts


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  • Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Wakefield Clare Valley Estate Chardonnay 2017 (Australia) - Wine Review

delicious white wine is a frequent visitor to VINTAGES and will be coming to LCBO VINTAGES on .

Winemaking in Clare Valley spans over 150 years, making it one of Australia's oldest wine-producing regions. The unique combination of geography, geology and climate results in terroir that is ideal producing wine in Clare Valley.

The journey of Wakefield Wines began when they planted their first vineyards in the Clare Valley in 1969 with the goal of producing authentic, estate grown wines. The first vintage from these vineyards was an overwhelming success as it won a gold medal in every national wine show that it entered. Since that time, the Estate Range was grown to include other varietals, but every bottle is still crafted at their Clare Valley Estate with the same care and attention as the very first vintage.

The fruit for this Chardonnay was harvested at night from the Taylor family estate in Clare Valley. It was whole berry pressed and the majority was barrel fermented in new and used French oak barrels. A small parcel of juice was fermented using wild yeast, and a small parcel was fermented in stainless steel tanks. Finally, after 10 months of oak maturation, the final wine was blended and fined in stainless steel tanks prior to bottling.

Lastly, I was pleasantly surprised (and impressed) to find a touch-activated temperature sensor (pictured below) on the back label that will tell you the ideal temperature to drink this Chardonnay - simply swipe the sensor to activate and see if the colour matches the perfect temperature range on the scale.

Wakefield Clare Valley Estate Chardonnay 2017 (88+ pts)

Tasting Note:

WAKEFIELD CLARE VALLEY ESTATE CHARDONNAY 2017 - Clare Valley, South Australia (#711556) (XD) - $16.95
Screw cap. Medium+ intensity nose that delivers buttery, green apple, pear, and white peach aromas with touches of citrus, vanilla and nutty notes. It is medium-full bodied and quite substantial on the palate with ripe apple and pear flavours accented by some pineapple, banana and butterscotch nuances. Acids are fresh and lively. Nicely balanced throughout, while finishing with notes of citrus, stone fruit, buttery flavours, plus some lingering minerality, with good length. Very good buy! Score: 88+ pts

Optimum drinking temprature of Wakefield Clare Valley Estate Chardonnay


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  • Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Sivó Shámán Herbal Liqueur (Canada) - Review

I enjoyed this delicious herbal liqueur that arrived on LCBO VINTAGES on .

Shámán is a bitter herbal liqueur with origins in Bavarian monasteries. It has been revived with the respect and love of Quebec artisans by Maison Sivó to please the tastes of a new generation. Shámán aims to be nothing less than becoming a legend. Served cold, straight as a shooter, Shámán will surprise you with its powerful, bitter and floral taste. Developed with the assistance of mixologists, Sháman has a relatively high alcohol percentage by volume and a low sugar content that will make it also ideal in cocktails.

The Sivó family was producing remarkable fruit brandies at the outset of the 20th century in their village in Hungary. At the time, their products were recognized for their craftsmanship and quality even though their equipment was rather rudimentary. Today, they use highly refined methods of micro-distilling at their distillery in Montérégie, in southwestern Quebec.

Sivó Shámán Herbal Liqueur

Tasting Note:

SIVÓ SHÁMÁN HERBAL LIQUEUR - Matured in oak casks, Canada (#653436) (500 mL) - $27.95
Relatively high alcohol (36% alc./vol.) and minimal sugar (7.5 g/L), this is crafted with selective maceration of herbs and spices, realization, and aging in oak casks. Fragrant herbal, bitter, anise seed, licorice, and some floral aromas and flavours. Sticky and richly textured on the medium+ body. Very good length on the smooth, bitter finish. Reminds me of an Amaro. You could serve this lightly chilled on its own, but it will really shine when mixed into a cocktail. I made a slightly simpler version of Cabin Fizz (recipe below) and it was delicious! Other recipes that also look very enticing are provided below.

Cocktail Recipes:


Cabin Fizz
1.5 oz. Vodka
0.75 oz. Lemon juice
0.5 oz. Shámán
0.25 oz. Maple syrup
2 oz. Maple water
2 dashes of Angostura bitter

Add ice, shake and serve in a collins glass. Top off with soda, and garnish with lemon zest.

Lone Wolf
Crush a quarter of lemon in glass, then add:

0.5 oz. Shámán
0.5 oz. Simple syrup
1 oz. Pineapple juice
Add ice and ginger beer, and garnish with lemon slice

El Shámán
0.75 oz. Shámán
0.75 oz. Mexcal
0.75 oz. Grand Marnier
0.75 oz. Fresh lime juice
2 tbsp. White sugar
1 dash Agave syrup

Shake and filter, and serve in Marie-Antoinette glass.


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  • Sunday, July 7, 2019

Ortas Tradition Rasteau 2017 (Rhône) - Wine Review

wine review is nice southern Rhône red wine that is coming to LCBO VINTAGES on .

It comes from the Rasteau Cru appellation that is located northeast of Orange and is the westerly neighbour to Cairanne. Winemaking in this region was first established by the Romans in 30 BC.

Founded in 1925, Cave de Rasteau is one of Côtes du Rhône's oldest co-operative wineries. It is a leading producer within the Rasteau appellation and it's partners include 80 vignerons and 600 hectares of vines, which is nearly half of Rasteau's 1240 hectares. Cave de Rasteau is located in Provence, in the heart of the southern Rhône Valley and faces Mont Ventoux, the Dentelles de Montmirail, and the French Prealps mountain ranges.

It's terroir is quite diverse, with hilly, south-facing slopes and smooth, pebbled soils that provide heat, while the cool Mistral winds provide freshness - all of which are ideal for planting classic Rhône varietals like Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvèdre. At Cave de Rasteau, wine growing knowledge has been passed down over four generations of wine growers with passion and respect for the environment.

Cave de Rasteau is part of Cercle des Vignerons du Rhône, a union of three companies that work together and share their knowledge with each other to produce quality wines while respecting their terroirs.

Ortas Tradition Rasteau 2017 (88 pts)

Tasting Note:

ORTAS TRADITION RASTEAU 2017 - AC, Rhône, France (#998716) (XD) - $17.95
A blend of old vines 70% Grenache, 20% Syrah and 10% Mourvèdre from a hillside and terraced vineyard with limestone white clay, red clay, and fluvio-glacial sandy soils. Medium intensity nose offers nice blackberry liqueur, dark berry, spice, and kirsch, with hints of graphite and loamy earth aromas. It is medium-full bodied on the palate with blackberry, spice, and graphite flavours. Acids are balanced and juicy, while finely textured tannins are well-integrated. Graphite notes and a touch of bitterness linger on the finish, with very good length. The 14.5% alc./vol. is well-balanced. Enjoy over the next 3-4 years. Score: 88 pts


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  • Saturday, July 6, 2019

The Black Chook Shiraz/Viognier 2017 (Australia) - Wine Review

This popular red wine has come through VINTAGES many times over the years - and looking through my database I discovered that I purchased the 2007 vintage of this bottle in 2008. , I opened the latest vintage which arrived in LCBO VINTAGES on  - with plenty still available for purchase at the LCBO.

It is produced by Penny's Hill, a winery located in the rolling foothills east of McLaren Vale and named after a hill that sits at the base of the site in South Australia. The project began in 1988 by Tony and Susie Parkinson when they planted 32 ha of vines facing the waters of Gulf St.Vincent. In 1993, they acquired the newly-planted Malpas Road property, followed in 1996 by acquiring the adjacent, highly prized hay-producing paddock that was planted to vines and named Goss Corner. In 1998, the original Goss family homestead, "Ingleburne", was added to the Malpas and Goss properties to reconnect what had originally been one entire holding.

Today, Tony Parkinson still maintains ownership and management of the business, and joining him is his younger son, James, who is learning the vineyard ropes, and his elder son, David, who is a filmmaker and contributes much to the aesthetics of the enterprise.

The Penny’s Hill Cellar Door chook house is home to The Black Chook brand’s namesake, and the original "Black Chook" can be seen scratching and pecking for grubs under the big old gum tree. The fruit for the Black Chook range of wines are sourced from some of South Australia’s eminent wine regions and are made to be affordable, enjoyed, shared and celebrated. The Black Chook Shiraz/Viognier is sourced from McLaren Vale and Padthaway as both regions have very consistent climates, which helps produce some of the best Shiraz in Australia and work together harmoniously in the final blend.

The Black Chook Shiraz/Viognier 2017 (87 pts)

Tasting Note:

THE BLACK CHOOK SHIRAZ/VIOGNIER 2017 - McLaren Vale/Padthaway, South Australia (#066738) (XD) - $18.95
A blend of Shiraz (96%) and Viognier (4%) that was co-fermented, while vineyard parcels were vinified and matured with suitable oak separately to best express the nuances of each block. The final wine was blended together after 12 months of oak ageing. Screw cap. Fresh, plummy, black cherry aromas mingle with peppery spice and oak notes, and just a hint of floral. It is medium-full bodied on the palate with dark currant and dark berry flavours, along with hints of pepper and oak spice in a dry flavour profile. It has soft, refined tannins and juicy acids. Wood and pepper spice notes linger on the finish. Score: 87 pts


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  • Friday, July 5, 2019

Château de Manissy Le Moulin de Notre Dame Tavel 2018 (Rhône) - Wine Review

wine review is a nice organic and vegan-friendly Tavel that recently arrived at the LCBO as a General List product and is widely available across Ontario.

It is produced by Château de Manissy, a winery located in the heart of Provence, on the right side of the Rhône Valley. Château de Manissy is owned by the Holy Family's Missionaries and has been producing rosé wines since the beginning of the 20th century, all the while developing a reputation for the barrel-aged rosé.

More recently, the talented young winegrower Florian André took over the property and continued it's traditional way of winemaking, while also having respect for the environment and growing wine according to the moon calendar. In 2009, the vineyards were converted to organic agriculture as it was well-known that organic winemaking is good for the soil, the environment, our health, and for future generations. Also in 2009, Florian became a father and thought it was the right time to go organic.

Florian created two more rosés to add to the portfolio, including this enjoyable Tavel that comes from clay soils that are scattered with pebbles which are particularly suited for rosé wine production.

I also can't help but notice that the new Tavel logo is embossed on this bottle - something I learned about when I visited Tavel last May.

Château de Manissy Le Moulin de Notre Dame Tavel 2018 (88 pts)

Tasting Note:

CHÂTEAU DE MANISSY LE MOULIN DE NOTRE DAME TAVEL 2018 - AC, Rhône, France (#234542) (D) - $16.90
Blend of 80% Grenache and 20% Syrah that was hand-picked early in the morning, when cool grapes are freshest. Aromas of fresh minerals are followed by subtle hints of herb, raspberry and red cherry notes. It is medium-full bodied and ripe on the palate with cherry, raspberry, strawberry and spice flavours. A touch honeyed on the mid-palate, but essentially dry. Acids are very fresh with a lingering finish that has spice, mineral, and red berry notes. Will be a fine match for seafood or salad over the next couple of years. Score: 88 pts


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