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Sunday, November 23, 2014

Hermanos Lurton Tempranillo 2011 (Spain) - Wine Review

Opened this juicy, red wine last night. It's from the Toro region of Spain, located in the northwestern part of country and is a General List product and readily available at the LCBO.

HERMANOS LURTON TEMPRANILLO 2011 - DO Toro, Spain (#372342) (D) - $16.90

Wine Review of 2011 Hermanos Lurton Tempranillo from DO Toro, Spain
Tasting Note:
Woodsy and vanilla aromas from the cork. Cherry, bitter chocolate, dark currant and hints of cola as it warms up in the glass. Medium-bodied with firm tannic structure and mild oak spice along with dark cherry, cola, and currant notes. Juicy palate with fresh, vibrant acids and a dry, medium-long finish. 15% alc/vol is hidden well. Score: 88 pts

Saturday, November 22, 2014

2014 Gourmet Food & Wine Expo

Tutored Tasting on Wine Faults at GFWE
I arrived for the Gourmet Food & Wine Expo VIP Night at the Metro Convention Centre, where it has always been held since as far back as I can remember, checked in at the Trade & Media booth to get my badge and wristband, and then proceeded down the hall to first attend a seminar on Wine Faults.

This was a very interesting seminar, as we learned about the 2 basic types of faults – oxidative and reductive. We tasted some Sauvignon Blanc that was fresh and typical of the varietal, then compared this same wine that had been either artificially oxidized and reduced. One of these glasses had an oxidized Savvy, and tasted like it was off with a nose of stewed orchard fruit, green apple and wet dog flavours. The other three glasses had a Savvy that had been reduced to various different levels. Prominent notes of sulphur and rotten eggs were found in glasses 3 and 4, while the 5th glass had aromas of rubber and mineral.

Keep in mind that some oxidation can be desirable in some wines - such as big, red Cabs or even Port wine, which also usually change their colour to brick-red or brown; the colour of white wines tends to change to a darker yellow or brownish tones. Only when a wine is over-oxidized do undesirable traits being to show. The principal is much the same for reduced wines, where too much reductive activity will lead to undesirable wines.

The last part of this seminar involved adding a few drops of Copper Sulphate to a few of the wines and see the results. The first wine, which was normal, suddenly tasted like it had been aged and oxidized a number years in just a couple of minutes. When we added Copper Sulphate to wine #3, it cleared up the wine completely and smelled and tasted quite normal. However, adding the chemical to wine #4 did not make any difference. Thus, the experiment shows that wines that have been slightly reduced can be fixed. Please do not try this with your wines at home.

Once the seminar was finished, I made my way through the trade & media entrance and began tasting some wine. The crowd was still fairly light on this VIP Thursday evening, which I didn't mind considering how packed it was last year. Methodically going through the aisles one-by-one, it seemed as though there were more smaller exhibitors, and fewer big displays. Maybe it's just me, but there also seemed to be fewer restaurants participating this year.

Hidden Bench Terroir Caché Meritage 2010 from VQA Beamsville Bench, Ontario, Canada

Photos and wine scores of many of my favourite wines that I tasted on this night are posted below, many of which can be found at the LCBO. Due to the volume of yummy wines I tasted, detailed reviews will be posted at a later date. As usual, the Hidden Bench booth is a must stop for any wine aficionado. As well, wine shows are a great place to try some new wines that you may have never heard about or considered purchasing - keep that in mind as you peruse the floor.

One of the highlights was meeting the recently-crowned German Wine Queen, Janina Huhn. We spoke at length about wines and how being crowned 'The 66th Queen' has changed her life. She can be found all weekend long, along with her Royal Chair, at the Wines of Germany booth to engage in conversation or take photos.

Fire in the Kitchen Rubs & Spices
Given my self-imposed dietary restrictions, food options seemed quite limited. After having toured the entire venue and tasting many, many wines, I was famished, and headed straight to the Fire in the Kitchen booth, where I had seen earlier in the night their full-sized grilled cheese stuffed with chicken, caramelized onions and pickles. This really hit the spot and tasted even better when topped with some of their specialty rubs & spices!

Next, with time running out and still many tickets remaining in-hand, I found Ourrr Lobster Shack and settled for a 6" lobster roll. At $9, it was a bit pricey, but yummy. Still not quite full, I searched for Amaya Restaurant, but by the time I finally found them, they had already run out of food and were packing up. So, I decided at this point that dessert might be my best option to close out the night.

Marble Slab Creamery
Two orders of Marble Slab Creamery would fit the bill nicely. Vanilla cheesecake ice cream mashed with raspberries and chocolate brownie, followed by a decadent Gingerbread ice cream topped with graham cracker crumbs and caramel - both satisfied my sweet tooth.

Lastly, it was great to see so many friendly faces on both sides of the counter, many of whom I met over the last few years. It was also very nice to meet some new folks - hopefully, our paths will cross again.

Hope everyone enjoys the show as much as I did this year. The Gourmet Food & Wine Expo runs until Sunday. Tickets can be purchased here. Cheers!

PERSUASION DRAGON BLEND 2010 - Sonoma, California, USA (#) (XD) - $37.95
Booth: Noteworthy Wines booth. Blend of Russian River Valley Cabernet Sauvignon and Chalk Hill Merlot. Available for licensees only, so you'll want to try this here. Score: 90 pts

Persuasion Dragon Blend 2010 from Sonoma, California, USACornerstone Cabernet-Merlot 2010 from VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada

CORNERSTONE CABERNET-MERLOT 2010 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#) (XD) - $19.00
Booth: Winery. Big, full-bodied, dry wine from a great vintage. Not many left, according to the owner. Score : 89 pts

GARCIA CARRION MAYOR DE CASTILLA CRIANZA 2010 - DO Ribera del Duero, Spain (#318931) (XD) - $15.95
Booth: Christoper Stewart Wine & Spirits. 100% Tempranillo. Very good value. Score: 89 pts

Garcia Carrion Mayor de Castilla Crianza 2010 from DO Ribera del Duero, Spain

RIO MADRE 2013 - DOCa Rioja, Spain (#354753) (XD) - $14.95
Booth: Christoper Stewart Wine & Spirits. Rare to see 100% Graciano wine. Score: 87+ pts

Booth: Mark Anthony Brands. Quite dry with just a hint of sweetness. Will be on sale at the LCBO very soon. Score: 89 pts

HIDDEN BENCH ESTATE RIESLING 2013 - VQA Beamsville Bench, Ontario, Canada (#183491) (D) - $23.95
Booth: Winery. Organically grown from estate vineyards. Quality stuff. Available in VINTAGES. Score: 89+ pts

HIDDEN BENCH ESTATE CHARDONNAY 2012 - VQA Beamsville Bench, Ontario, Canada (#068817) (XD) - $28.95
Booth: Winery. Barrel fermented in French oak; partial malolactic fermentation. Released in VINTAGES on November 8th. Score: 90 pts

HIDDEN BENCH PINOT NOIR 2012 - VQA Beamsville Bench, Ontario, Canada (#274753) (XD) - $29.95
Booth: Winery. Classic Pinot aromas and flavours. Available in VINTAGES. Score: 91 pts

Hidden Bench Estate Riesling 2013 from VQA Beamsville Bench, Ontario, CanadaHidden Bench Estate Chardonnay 2012 from VQA Beamsville Bench, Ontario, CanadaHidden Bench Pinot Noir 2012 from VQA Beamsville Bench, Ontario, Canada

HIDDEN BENCH TERROIR CACHÉ MERITAGE 2010 - VQA Beamsville Bench, Ontario, Canada (#505610) (XD) - $38.20
Booth: Winery. Blend of 53% Merlot, 19% Cabernet Franc, 16% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 12% Malbec. Amazing wine! Released in VINTAGES on November 8th. Score: 92 pts

LIGHTHALL PROGRESSION 2013 - VQA Ontario, Canada (#) (D) - $20
Booth: Wienry. Off-dry sparkling wine made with 100% Vidal. Score: 89 pts

Lighthall Progression 2013 from VQA Ontario, CanadaHeinrich Blaufränkisch 2012 from DAC Burgenland, Austria

HEINRICH BLAUFRÄNKISCH 2012 - DAC Burgenland, Austria (#) (XD) - $24.95
Booth: Wines of Austria. Made using the Blaufränkisch grape (also known as Lemberger), this comes across as quite similar to Pinot Noir. Score: 89 pts

DR. LOOSEN ÜRZIGER WÜRZGARTEN RIESLING KABINETT 2013 - Pradikätswein, Mosel, Germany (#927756) (MD) - $21.95
Booth: Wines of Germany. Release in VINTAGES on October 11th. Score: 91 pts

Dr. Loosen Ürziger Würzgarten Riesling Kabinett 2013 from Pradikätswein, Mosel, Germany

STUDERT-PRÜM WEHLENER SONNENUHR RIESLING SPÄTLESE 2012 - Pradikätswein, Mosel, Germany (#912659) (M) - $28.95
Booth: Wines of Germany. Gorgeous wine for those that enjoy sweet wines. Released in VINTAGES on October 11th. Score: 91 pts

Booth: Wines of Germany. My favourite wine of the evening and was released in VINTAGES on September 27th. Score: 93 pts

Studert-Prüm Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Spätlese 2012 from Pradikätswein, Mosel, GermanyWegeler Rüdesheimer Berg Schlossberg Riesling Kabinett 2012 from Rheingau, Germany

Booth: Sommelier Tasting Bar in VIP Area. Released in VINTAGES on November 8th. Score: 90 pts

Jean-Marc Brocard Sainte Claire Vieilles Vignes Chablis 2013 from AC, Burgundy, France

Booth: Winery. Delicious dessert wine made with cranberry and some maple syrup. Score: 90 pts

Muskoka Lakes Winery Red Maple 2012

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Southbrook Triomphe Chardonnay 2013 (Niagara) - Wine Review

While the 2012 Southbrook Triomphe Chardonnay was classified as VQA Niagara-on-the-Lake, the 2013 edition is VQA Niagara Peninsula. It is certified organic and vegan friendly, with grapes sourced from 5 different vineyards within the Niagara Peninsula: Laundry, Southbrook, Sabourin, Reimer and Saunders vineyards.

This delicious white wine was opened over the and will be available on shelves as part of the LCBO VINTAGES release.

SOUTHBROOK TRIOMPHE CHARDONNAY 2013 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#172338) (D) - $22.95

Wine Review of 2013 Southbrook Triomphe Chardonnay from VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada
Tasting Note:
Stelvin screw cap. Medium-high, complex aromatics with buttered popcorn, apple, pear, pineapple and whiffs of smoke and pineapple which all make an appearance on the flavour profile. Palate is medium+ bodied, lean with some creaminess, and a hint of sweetness. The very good acids keep the slightly sweet fruit in check. Slight heat on the long finish which also has honeyed fruit and vanilla spice flavours. Enjoy over the next 3 years. Score: 90 pts

Monday, November 17, 2014

Nov. 22 LCBO Wine Picks: Top Wines for the Holidays

LCBO Wine Picks from November 22, 2014 VINTAGES Release
Wines from the next LCBO VINTAGES release will be on shelves this and essentially continues the theme from the last release - fine wines for the holidays.

This is another massive release, as you will see from my wine picks below. I have split up the red wine picks into three groups - value-based wines, premium wines, and super premium wines for those with really deep pockets.

We'll begin at the high-end of the scale with a Parker-rated 100 point wine - from the great 2010 vintage is the Château Pontet-Canet (65% Cab Sauv, 30% Merlot and 5% Cab Franc/Petit Verdot) and can be decanted and enjoyed now or cellared over the next 30+ years, if you can hold off that long. From Rhône is the Châteauneuf-du-Pape that is 30% Grenache, 30% Mourvèdre, 10% Syrah, 10% Counoise and 5% Cinsault, while Napa's Joseph Phelps Insignia is a blend of 82% Cab Sauv, 11% Petit Verdot, and small amounts of Malbec, Merlot and Cab Franc; both of these wines can be enjoyed over the next 15 years. The Masi Amarone is ageable for up to 10 years and is a blend of Corvina, Rondinella, and Molinara. You might be surprised to know that the Tuscan wine Sassicaia is made without any traces of local varietals - it's made using 85% Cab Sauv and 15% Cab Franc - and should be cellared for at least a few years and enjoyed through the next decade. All of the wines in this price category should be cellared for at least a few years and would make excellent gifts for your special wine lovers in your life.

In the premium red wine category, there are 3 wines from Rhône including a Crozes-Hermitage that is 100% Syrah, and a Grenache-led blend from Châteauneuf-du-Pape. It's uncommon to see Syrah in a Portuguese wine, but there is 40% Syrah in the version from Quinta da Romaneira (local grape Touriga Nacional makes up the rest of the blend). Syrah is also uncommon in Spain, but once again 40% of the blend from Finca Constancia is Syrah, while the balance is Petit Verdot. Syrah (a.k.a. Shiraz) is also available in the The Holy Trinity GSM blend, with 56% Grenache, 33% Shiraz and 11% Mourvèdre. The Brunello and Barolo keep to their traditional roots by, respectively, using Sangiovese and Nebbiolo - and you'll want to lay these to rest for a couple of years prior to opening.

Rhône was quite well-represented in this release with 11 wines, all but one from the 2012 vintage. Included among them are two from Michel Gassier's Les Halos de Jupiter label. His Cotes du Rhône is a blend of 85% Grenache, 10% Syrah and 5% Mourvèdre, while the Costières de Nimes is 60% Syrah and 40% Grenache. Lastly, wait a year for the tannins to settle in the Aydie l'Origine, which is made from 70% Tannat and 30% Cab Franc.

In white wines, the Côtes du Roussillon Blanc is a blend of 80% Grenache Blanc and 20% Marsanne. Of the multiple Chardonnays listed among my wine recommendations below, all are oaked, except for the Billaud-Simon . For sweet wine lovers, I would recommend moving straight to the Fortifieds or the Dessert Wine section. In particular, the Sauternes from Raymond-Lafon is a poor man's Yquem at a fraction of the price; both Sauternes are blends of Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc.

Enjoy my wine picks for this week. Cheers!

Red Wine:
  • AYDIE L’ORIGINE 2011 - AC Madiran, Southwest, France (#343566) (XD) - $15.95
  • LES HALOS DE JUPITER COSTIÈRES DE NÎMES 2012 - AC, Rhône, France (#309153) (XD) - $16.95
  • SANTA RITA MEDALLA REAL GRAN RESERVA CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2010 - Maipo Valley, Chile (#275594) (XD) - $17.95
  • DOMAINE DE L’HERMINETTE GRAND CRAS MORGON 2013 - AC, Beaujolais, France (#390476) (XD) - $19.95
  • LES HALOS DE JUPITER CÔTES DU RHÔNE 2012 - AC, Rhône, France (#276956) (D) - $19.95
  • FINCA CONSTANCIA ALTOS DE LA FINCA 2011 - Vino de la Tierra de Castilla, Spain (#383984) (XD) - $21.95
  • GRANDS SERRES LES HAUTES VACQUIERES VACQUEYRAS 2012 - AC, Rhône, France (#395194) (XD) - $24.95
  • M. CHAPOUTIER PETITE RUCHE CROZES-HERMITAGE 2012 - AC, Rhône, France (#264655) (XD) - $24.95
  • QUINTA DA ROMANEIRA TOURIGA NACIONAL/SYRAH 2010 - Vinho Regional Duriense, Portugal (#392316) (D) - $29.95
  • GRANT BURGE THE HOLY TRINITY GRENACHE/SHIRAZ/MOURVÈDRE 2011 - Barossa Valley, South Australia (#236257) (D) - $29.95
  • TENUTA LA FUGA BRUNELLO DI MONTALCINO 2009 - DOCG, Tuscany, Italy (#212837) (XD) - $44.95
  • BREZZA SARMASSA BAROLO 2009 - DOCG, Piedmont, Italy (#999730) (XD) - $49.95
  • TWO HANDS BELLA’S GARDEN SHIRAZ 2012 - Barossa Valley, South Australia (#636407) (D) - $63.95
  • CHÂTEAU DE BEAUCASTEL CHÂTEAUNEUF-DU-PAPE 2012 - AC, Rhône, France (#711317) (D) - $89.95
  • STAGS’ LEAP THE LEAP ESTATE CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2010 - Napa Valley, California, USA (#142844) (XD) - $89.95
  • CHÂTEAU MALESCOT ST. EXUPÉRY 2010 - 3e Cru, AC Margaux, Bordeaux, France (#261552) (XD) - $149.85
  • SASSICAIA 2011 - DOC Bolgheri-Sassicaia, Tuscany, Italy (#480533) (XD) - $199.95
  • CHÂTEAU PONTET-CANET 2010 - 5e Cru, AC Pauillac, Bordeaux, France (#259119, #259200, #259184, #259242, #259473, #260588) (XD) - $249.85
  • JOSEPH PHELPS INSIGNIA 2011 - Napa Valley, California, USA (#710400) (XD) - $258.95

White Wine:
  • SAINT-ROCH VIEILLES VIGNES CÔTES DU ROUSSILLON BLANC 2013 - AP, Midi, France (#175232) (XD) - $15.95
  • TRAMIN PINOT GRIGIO 2013 - DOC Südtirol - Alto Adige, Italy (#627059) (XD) - $17.95
  • LAGOON HILL SAUVIGNON BLANC 2013 - Martinborough, North Island, New Zealand (#388389) (XD) - $18.95
  • ANSELMO MENDES CONTACTO ALVARINHO 2013 - DOC Vinho Verde, Portugal (#393058) (XD) - $19.95
  • McWILLIAM’S MOUNT PLEASANT ELIZABETH SEMILLON 2007 - Hunter Valley, New South Wales, Australia (#724492) (XD) - $19.95
  • PONDVIEW BELLA TERRA CHARDONNAY 2011 - Barrel Fermented, VQA Four Mile Creek, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#347922) (XD) - $24.95  reviewed here
  • MISSION HILL S.L.C. CHARDONNAY 2011 - VQA Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, Canada (#144170) - $24.95
  • DR. LOOSEN ERDENDER TREPPCHEN RIESLING KABINETT 2013 - Prädikatswein, Mosel, Germany (#393181) (M) - $25.95
  • MACROSTIE CHARDONNAY 2012 - Sonoma Coast, California, USA (#244467) (XD) - $29.95  reviewed here
  • BILLAUD-SIMON MONTÉE DE TONNERRE CHABLIS 1 ER CRU 2009 - AC, Burgundy, France (#325241) (XD) - $47.95
  • PAHLMEYER CHARDONNAY 2012 - Napa Valley, California, USA (#147454) (XD) - $96.95

Sparkling Wine:
  • HENRY OF PELHAM CUVÉE CATHARINE CARTE BLANCHE ESTATE BLANC DE BLANC 2009 - Traditional Method, VQA Short Hills Bench, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#315200) (D) - $44.95

  • DOMAINE BOULETIN VIN DOUX NATUREL MUSCAT DE BEAUMES DE VENISE 2012 - AP, Rhône, France (#393033) (MS) (375 mL) - $15.95
  • TORRES FLORALIS MOSCATEL ORO - Spain (#642173) (MS) (500 mL) - $16.95  reviewed here
  • CROFT VINTAGE PORT 2011 - DOC Douro, Portugal (#362343) (MS) - $120.00

Dessert Wine:
  • QUADY ESSENSIA ORANGE MUSCAT 2012 - California, USA (#299552) (S) (375 mL) - $14.95
  • PONDVIEW VIDAL ICEWINE 2013 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#390351) (S) (200 mL) - $18.95
  • PUKLUS PINCÉSZET SZAMORODNI SWEET TOKAJI 2009 - Hungary (#179374) (MS) (500 mL) - $18.95
  • REIF VIDAL ICEWINE 2012 - VQA Niagara River, Ontario, Canada (#544791) (S) (200 mL) - $24.95
  • CHÂTEAU RAYMOND-LAFON 2010 - AC Sauternes, Bordeaux, France (#256362) (S) (375 mL) - $31.85
  • CHÂTEAU SUDUIRAUT 2010 - 1er Cru Classé, AC Sauternes, Bordeaux, France (#256214) (S) - $129.85

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