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Thursday, April 17, 2014

Malbec World Day Toronto

On , I attended #MalbecWorldDayTO that was co-hosted by iYellow Wine Club and Wines of Argentina at The Great Hall in the Queen West area in downtown Toronto.

is celebrated around the world every April 17th to commemorate the day when the President of Argentina Domingo Faustino Sarmiento officially made it his mission in 1853 to transform Argentina's wine industry and make it a world player in the wine scene. 150 years later, it is safe to say that he has succeeded in reaching that goal.

Today, Argentina is now the 5th largest producer of wine and Malbec is the most planted in grape in the country. Furthermore, even though Malbec's original home is in Cahors, France, nowhere in the world is there more acreage of Malbec grown than in Argentina.

Tuesday night's event featured more than 50 wines from 18 different Argentinian wineries. Among the many Malbecs and Malbec-blends were wines made from Torrontes, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah grapes. Included with your admission were latin-inspired chicken, beef and goat cheese empanadas, as well as beef and Argentinian rice on corn tortillas – this was a great touch as both food pairings complemented the wines very well.

All in all, it was a fun event with some fun, easy drinking wines, as well as a few serious wines for serious winos. The live DJ battle kept folks hopping throughout the night as well.

Here are wine reviews of 6 wines that I really enjoyed - 5 of which are currently available at the LCBO - to help you celebrate Malbec World Day this year. Enjoy!

Wine Review of 2012 Trapiche Malbec Reserve from Mendoza, ArgentinaWine Review of 2012 Pascual Toso Malbec Limited Edition from Mendoza, ArgentinaWine Review of 2011 Luigi Bosca Malbec from Mendoza, Argentina

TRAPICHE MALBEC RESERVE 2012 - Mendoza, Argentina (#614651) (D) - $11.95
Medium-high aromas with earthy, green, black cherry, and hint of brett (barnyard) notes. Full-bodied with sweet ripe black fruits and gentle oak spice flavours. Tannins are big, yet very smooth and integrated. Very good acids and finishing long. Fine value at this price! LCBO General List and always available. Score: 88 pts

PASCUAL TOSO MALBEC LIMITED EDITION 2012 - Mendoza, Argentina (#162610) (D) - $15.95
A terroir-driven wine that hails from Barrancas, the 2012 is highly aromatic with mineral, wet stone and plum aromas. It's medium-bodied with refined tannins. Palate has mineral, dark fruit, wet stone, and elegant oak spice flavours. Very good acids and a long finish that is slightly warm. LCBO General List product and always available. Score: 89 pts

LUIGI BOSCA MALBEC 2011 - Mendoza, Argentina (#079293) (XD) - $17.95
Made from vines over 50 years old that are located 960 metres above sea level. Medium intensity nose with green, ripe black fruit and oak aromas. Medium-bodied with pleasant aroma replays and notes of bitter chocolate. Chalky tannins will reward another year or two in cellar. Mouth-watering acids and a long finish. Vintages product. Score: 88 pts

Wine Review of 2010 Kaiken Ultra Cabernet Sauvignon from Mendoza, ArgentinaWine Review of 2010 Clos de los Siete from Mendoza, ArgentinaWine Review of 2010 Norton Privada from Mendoza, Argentina

KAIKEN ULTRA CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2010 - Mendoza, Argentina (#135202) (D) - $19.95
Medium+ intensity aromas showing cassis, red fruits and new oak. Medium+ bodied with chalky tannins on the palate. Flavour profile consists of sweet ripe fruits, plum, milk chocolate, and leather. Good acids and long finishing. Vintages product. Score: 89 pts

CLOS DE LOS SIETE 2010 - Mendoza, Argentina (#622571) (XD) - $21.95
Malbec blend containing 57% Malbec, 15% Merlot, 15% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Syrah, and 3% Petit Verdot. Medium-high intensity aromas consisting of spice, peppercorn, oak and dark fruits. Palate is full-bodied showing sweet tobacco, red & black fruits, and Asian spice. Firm, yet refined, tannins, very good acids and finishing long. Vintages product. Score: 90 pts

NORTON PRIVADA 2010 - Mendoza, Argentina (#) (XD) - $24.95
Blend of Malbec, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. Beautiful floral, purple, dark fruit, blackberry, cedar oak and mocha aromas. It's full bodied with big, silky smooth tannins. Flavour palate has nice blackberry liquer, oak, dark chocolate, and spice flavours. Balanced acids and a long, smooth finish. Delicious! Score: 91 pts

Chicken Empanada with Salsa

Friday, April 11, 2014

13th Street June's Vineyard Riesling 2011 (Niagara) - Wine Review

This gorgeous white wine was purchased from this Saturday's Vintages release (yup!) and hails from a vineyard named after one of the owners of 13th Street Winery. The vines for this wine were planted in 1999 and continue to produce excellent Riesling, as evidenced by this wine. However, there wasn't much produced - only 550 cases - so get your hands on it this weekend while it's still available.

13TH STREET JUNE’S VINEYARD RIESLING 2011 - VQA Creek Shores, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#147512) (D) - $19.95

Wine Review of 2011 13th Street June's Vineyard Riesling from VQA Creek Shores, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada
Tasting Note:
Screw cap. Lovely lemon/lime, petrol, mineral, and citrus aromas from the glass. Medium-bodied with apricot, citrus, orchard fruit and stony minerality palate. It's off-dry with lively acidity. Finely balanced with stony and slightly tart finish that lingers. Highly recommended. Score: 90 pts

Monday, April 7, 2014

Apr. 12 LCBO Wine Picks: Appassimento + Easter

LCBO Wine Picks from April 12, 2014 Vintages Release
The next Vintages release will be on shelves across Ontario on . Appassimento wines are the main focus of this release, while wines for are highlighted in the small secondary feature.

In case you didn't know, Appassimento is a winemaking technique that involves drying grapes and tends to produce naturally sweeter wines. There are 3 major styles of Appassimento wines - Recioto, Amarone and Ripasso - all of which are represented in this release. Of the 16 wines featured, quite a few would be worthy additions to your cellar, and 3 of my wine picks below are excellent buys.

The Bertani Ripasso is a blend of Rondinella and Corvina Veronese and during the 2nd fermentation (i.e. ripasso) was refermented on pomaces of Recioto and Amarone. The Tenuta Sant'Antonio is a dry Amarone (i.e. not sweet) and consists of 70% Corvina, 20% Rondinella, 5% Croatina and 5% Oseleta; it will age gracefully and can be enjoyed over the next 10 years. And finally, the Brigaldara Amarone is an off-dry version (i.e. slightly sweet) made with 50% Corvinone, 20% Corvina, 20% Rondinella and 10% other grapes and can be enjoyed over the next 13 years. With both of these Amarones, you'll want to wait at least a year before opening as their both still a bit young.

Easter is the second feature of the release and highlights just 5 wines to help make your festive day more festive. Three of these wines made my list of wine picks - Featherstone's Rosé, Lailey's Chardonnay, and Reif's Vidal Icewine are all recommended, even if you don't celebrate Easter.

For Chardonnay fans, all of the Chardonnays mentioned below are oaked, except for the Chablis (50 yr old vines). For Riesling lovers, the German Riesling is the sweetest of the three I recommend and will have exotic notes typical of Piesporter wines. The Godelia Red is 100% Mencía with grapes coming from three zones with differing soils.

Enjoy my wine recommendations for this week. Cheers!

Red Wine:
  • GRANT BURGE 5TH GENERATION SHIRAZ 2012 - Barossa, South Australia (#361295) (XD) - $18.95
  • CAPARZO ROSSO DI MONTALCINO 2011 - DOC, Tuscany, Italy (#333575) (XD) - $19.95
  • CONCHA Y TORO MARQUES DE CASA CONCHA CARMENÈRE 2008 - Peumo, Rapel Valley, Chile (#169862) (XD) - $19.95
  • GODELIA RED 2009 - DO Bierzo, Spain (#368043) (XD) - $20.95
  • JULICHER 99 ROWS PINOT NOIR 2010 - Te Muna Road, Martinborough, North Island, New Zealand (#367979) (XD) - $24.95
  • JIM BARRY THE COVER DRIVE CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2010 - Coonawarra, South Australia (#677476) (XD) - $26.95  reviewed here
  • BRIGALDARA AMARONE DELLA VALPOLICELLA CLASSICO 2009 - DOC, Veneto, Italy (#300012) (D) - $49.95

White Wine:
  • PERRIN & FILS RÉSERVE CÔTES DU RHÔNE BLANC 2012 - AC, Rhône, France (#499509) (XD) - $14.95
  • GUSTAVE LORENTZ RÉSERVE RIESLING 2012 - AC Alsace, France (#641639) (D) - $17.95
  • LAILEY CHARDONNAY 2012 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#193482) (XD) - $19.95
  • 13TH STREET JUNE’S VINEYARD RIESLING 2011 - VQA Creek Shores, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#147512) (D) - $19.95  reviewed here
  • REINHOLD HAART PIESPORTER RIESLING KABINETT 2010 - Prädikatswein, Mosel, Germany (#727461) (M) - $19.95
  • LANDER-JENKINS SPIRIT HAWK CHARDONNAY 2011 - California, USA (#162651) (D) - $19.95
  • SYLVAIN MOSNIER VIEILLES VIGNES CHABLIS 2010 - AC, Burgundy, France (#357152) (XD) - $26.95
  • BACHELDER OREGON CHARDONNAY 2011 - Willamette Valley, Oregon, USA (#273334) (XD) - $29.95
  • LA CREMA CHARDONNAY 2012 - Russian River Valley, Sonoma County, California (#067231) (XD) - $37.95

Rosé Wine:
  • PETIT RIMAURESQ GRENACHE/CINSAULT/SYRAH ROSÉ 2012 - Provence, France (#276360) (XD) - $13.95
  • FEATHERSTONE ROSÉ 2013 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#117861) (D) - $14.95

Dessert Wine:
  • PUKLUS PINCÉSZET TOKAJI ASZÚ 3 PUTTONYOS 2008 - Hungary (#980805) (MS) (500 mL) - $20.95
  • REIF VIDAL ICEWINE 2012 - VQA Niagara River, Ontario, Canada (#544791) (S) (200 mL) - $24.95

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

Monday, March 24, 2014

Mar. 29 LCBO Wine Picks: 30 Reasons to Love Vintages

LCBO Wine Picks from March 29, 2014 Vintages Release
The next LCBO Vintages release will be in stores across Ontario on . In this edition, they list "30 reasons to love Vintages" and accompany the list with 20 wines that they suppose show why Vintages should be loved. In all my years of following Vintages, I'm not sure I've ever seen a theme such as this - perhaps they are running out of ideas and/or want to try something new. Good on them for trying something different - and I am pleased that some of the 20 wines featured did make my list of wine picks.

We begin with the Guintrandy Cairanne that is made using 75% Grenache and 25% Syrah, from vines that are more than 50 years old; the family has been maintaining this estate since 1850. Also from France is the Château Fleur de Jean Gué from the fabulous 2010 Bordeaux vintage that is 80% Merlot and 20% Cab Franc. Shiraz lovers will want to check out The Black Chook Shiraz/Viognier that includes 5% Viognier to add some interesting floral aromatics. Those who prefer lighter and less tannic wines will be interested in the Gray Monk Pinot Noir, which represents (again!) the single wine from B.C. that is available in the entire release.

From the rest of the release, the blend from Casarena consists of 70% Malbec, 20% Cab Sauvignon, 7% Cab Franc and 3% Petit Verdot, while the Beronia blend is mostly Tempranillo and small amounts of Mazuelo and Graciano.

Among my white wine recommendations, all are dry (i.e. not sweet) except for the Sauternes. The Fumé Blanc from California, and the version from Loire are both made with Sauvignon Blanc and are worth comparing side-by-side. The Joseph Phelps Chardonnay is exquisite for lovers of oaked Chardonnay.

Looking back, I notice there is something for virtually everyone as a fairly wide variety of grapes are represented. Having said that, besides the Sauternes, sweet wine lovers may want to skip this release. Enjoy my wine picks and we'll see you again in 2 weeks time!

Red Wine:
  • VIÑA TARAPACÁ GRAN RESERVA CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2011 - Maipo Valley, Chile (#018721) (XD) - $17.95
  • THE BLACK CHOOK SHIRAZ/VIOGNIER 2012 - McLaren Vale, South Australia (#066738) (XD) - $17.95
  • TAWSE GAMAY NOIR 2012 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#322545) (D) - $18.95
  • GRAY MONK PINOT NOIR 2011 - VQA Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, Canada (#251835) (XD) - $19.95
  • CASARENA SINERGY RESERVA RED 2011 - Mendoza, Argentina (#366104) (XD) - $18.95
  • PÉREZ CRUZ LIMITED EDITION CARMENÈRE 2012 - Maipo Valley, Chile (#670539) (XD) - $19.95
  • DOMAINE LA GUINTRANDY VIEILLES VIGNES CAIRANNE 2009 - AC Côtes du Rhône Villages, France (#362624) (XD) - $19.95
  • CHÂTEAU FLEUR DE JEAN GUÉ 2010 - AC Lalande-de-Pomerol, Bordeaux, France (#729137) (XD) - $24.95
  • BERONIA GRAN RESERVA 2006 - DOCa Rioja, Spain (#940965) (XD) - $34.95
  • ANDRETTA BRUNELLO DI MONTALCINO 2007 - DOCG, Tuscany, Italy (#367367) (XD) - $53.95

White Wine:
  • CAVE DU HAUT-POITOU VALLÉE LOIRE SAUVIGNON BLANC 2012 - AC Haut-Poitou, Loire, France (#357293) (XD) - $16.95
  • D’ARENBERG THE HERMIT CRAB VIOGNIER/MARSANNE 2012 - McLaren Vale, South Australia (#662775) (XD) - $19.95
  • CHÂTEAU ST. JEAN FUMÉ BLANC 2011 - Sonoma County, California, USA (#537639) (XD) - $19.95
  • CHÂTEAU GUIRAUD 2010 - AC Sauternes, Bordeaux, France (#256347) (S) (375 mL) - $39.85
  • JOSEPH PHELPS FREESTONE VINEYARDS CHARDONNAY 2011 - Sonoma Coast, California, USA (#249425) (XD) - $73.95

Rose Wine:
  • TAWSE SKETCHES OF NIAGARA ROSÉ 2012 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#172643) (D) - $13.25

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