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  • Date publishedSaturday, December 2, 2023

La Vite Lucente 2021 (Tuscany) - Wine Review

red wine review is a lovely Super Tuscan that arrived at the LCBO today and is part of theme of Fine Wines for Festive Entertaining in the LCBO VINTAGES New Release Collection.

It is produced by Tenuta Luce, a winery project that was formed in the early 1990's when Vittorio Frescobaldi met Robert Mondavi. From that meeting, a new chapter in great Tuscan wines was written, with a dream to create a wine in Montalcino (Tuscany), the land of choice for the production of excellent wines that, while acknowledging and celebrating tradition, went beyond the boundaries of tradition by treasuring the experiences of two historic wine families. The ambitious project took the name of Tenuta Luce - a name that evokes the sunlight of Montalcino. The sun is also the source of life and nourishment, while also marking the passage of the seasons and sets the pace for all agricultural activity. Sol Solis, or the radiant sun, is the inspiring symbol of Luce's brand. It is the sun that is chiseled on the main altar of the Church of Santo Spirito, in Florence, that was commissioned in the 15th century to Brunelleschi and built on land donated by the Frescobaldi family. Luce is an homage to the sun that provides warmth, energy, and life.

Tenuta Luce is located on the land of Montalcino, a land which is the origin of everything and their home, as well as a magical place where wine is life, tradition, and culture. The land of Montalcino is perched on an enchanting hill that retains is medieval charm, while the surrounding area is classically Tuscan with gentle slopes covered with vineyards, olive groves, and woods. Montalcino is also a territory with a microclimate of unparalleled value for the cultivation of grapevines.

The values at Tenuta Luce begins with wine that is the most natural expression of the territory where it is produced, while also reflecting the characteristics of the grapes from which it is obtained. The work begins with great care in tending the vines to enhance the precious harmony in the vineyard and continues all the way to the winery, where the ripe grapes are brought in and vinified in steps with great attention to detail that reflects the philosophy of the Estate. Respect is also a core value at Tenuta Luce - respect for the land, the vineyards, and the people who work there. People's intelligence and curiosity must be respected and stimulated, as this intelligence encourages and fuels continuous improvement. The beauty of nature must be preserved and nurtured, protected and nourished, as it is from this beauty that they draw inspiration to exceed and do better. As guests of this world, Tenuta Luce is driven to leave the land in a better place than how they found it for future generations. As such, the vineyards are planted only and strictly according to the suitability of each parcel, while aiming to safeguard the biodiversity of the land that makes Luce unique.

Luce's vineyards are situated on slopes to the southwest of the village of Montalcino. The heterogeneous vineyards have different exposures to the sun, a variety of soils, and altitudes ranging from 280 to 418 metres above sea level. The soils are schistose in the upper range, rich in yellow sands and sandstones in the central belt, and mixed-clayey at lower elevations. The altitude and southern exposure of the vineyards support a slow and complete ripening of the grapes to produce wines of great concentration and vigor, while the cool, breezy nights help preserve the aromatic complexity of the grapes and acidity in the wines. Merlot is an integral component of Luce's wines, as the first Merlot grapes arrived in Montalcino thanks to the Frescobaldi family.

This red wine is crafted with Merlot and Sangiovese. Both grapes were harvested in magnificent weather in September (the Merlot on September 3 and Sangiovese ten days later), and after the grapes were brought to the winery, they were fermented in temperature-controlled stainless steel tanks for 10 days, with maceration on the skins for 20 days. After undergoing malolactic fermentation, the wine was aged for 12 months in new and used barriques.

The growing season in 2021 began with a severe winter that brought little moisture, followed by a spring that started dry and mild, with above-average temperatures at times, particularly in March. While temperatures plunged to freezing at the beginning of April throughout Tuscany, Tenuta Luce's vineyards fortunately suffered no damage due to the high-elevation Sangiovese vineyards that were situated above the cold air, while the Merlot buds were still protected by their cottony sheath. Preceding the flowering stage, the first bout of heat arrived in late May. The summer months were hot and dry, while a timely rainfall in mid-July helped lower temperatures, provided relief to the vines, and created the ideal conditions for veraison. In August, there was some beneficial rainfall that lowered the heat and encouraged significant diurnal temperature variation between day and night, conditions which helped preserve aromatic crispness and ripeness in the berries. Harvest was carried out in magnificent weather with no rain. From a good-to-excellent and healthy vintage, let's see how this 2021 Super Tuscan is tasting tonight...

La Vite Lucente 2021 (91 pts)

Tasting Note:

LA VITE LUCENTE 2021 - IGT Toscana, Italy (#747030) (XD) - $32.95
This blend of Merlot and Sangiovese has a medium+ intensity nose takes some coaxing to open up, offering attractive notions of rich and ripe red & black cherry, cedary wood, baking spice, and savoury wet earth aromas. It's medium-full bodied with lovely, ripe, red and black cherry, baking spice, rose floral, clove, sandalwood, and earthy flavours that are supported by fresh and juicy acidity. Rich, structured tannins are youthful and somewhat grippy with a slightly chalky texture. Earthy with mineral notes linger on the long, grippy, and well-structured finish. Having tasted several vintages of this wine, this is probably my favourite. Enjoyable now, but will reward with time in the cellar. Best over the next 7-8 years and a highly recommended buy! Score: 91 pts

Other fine wines by Tenuta Luce recently arrived at the LCBO, but can also be ordered through their Agent - Mark Anthony Wine & Spirits.

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  • Date publishedThursday, November 30, 2023

December 2, 2023 LCBO VINTAGES Release Wine Picks: Fine Wines for Festive Entertaining

LCBO Wine Picks: December 2, 2023 VINTAGES Release
Here's my top wine picks from the second last release of the year - the December 2, 2023 LCBO VINTAGES New Release Collection that features Fine Wines for Festive Entertaining. It is a very big release with 155 products on offer, including a rather large collection of nearly 50 wines that are available as Online and Flagship Exclusives (FE). The price creep also continues with not many wines under $20. All of the wines will be available for purchase by this Saturday.

We begin with the theme on Fine Wines for Festive Entertaining, and of the twenty-one wines featured in the theme, six are included among my top wine picks. Starting at the top is a very fine vintage bubbly from sparkling wine specialist 13th Street Winery in Niagara that is crafted with 54% Chardonnay and 45% Pinot Noir. White wines from the theme are the Greywacke Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand and the Chablis Premier Cru that is, of course, crafted with 100% Chardonnay. The red wines from the theme are all blend variations of Cabernet and Merlot: the 2010 Bordeaux is composed of 85% Merlot and 15% Cabernet Sauvignon, the Lucente Super Tuscan is a blend of Merlot and Sangiovese, while the blend from Western Australia is crafted with Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Malbec.

13th Street Premier Cuvée Sparkling 2017 (93+ pts)Greywacke Sauvignon Blanc 2022

Château Coufran 2010La Vite Lucente 2021 (91 pts)

Vincent de la Remondière Les Fourchaume Chablis 1er Cru 2020

My top red wine picks from the main release begins with the latest vintage of the iconic Ornellaia that is a blend of 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 32% Merlot, 13% Cabernet Franc, and 5% Petit Verdot. There are two other blends and both are from Montes - the Wings Carmenère is actually a blend of 85% Carmenère and 15% Cabernet Franc, while the Alpha Special Cuvée Cabernet Sauvignon is composed of 85% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Syrah, and 5% Carmenère. The rest of the red wines are mono-varietal, including the Pinot Noir from Burgundy.

Ornellaia 2020 (95 pts)Montes Wings Carmenère 2019 (93 pts)

Montes Alpha Special Cuvée Cabernet Sauvignon 2020 (90 pts)

The six wines among my top white wine recommendations from the main release are made up of a pair of Sauvignon Blanc wines from New Zealand, and a pair of Chardonnay wines - one each from Niagara and Chile. There are also a pair of Riesling wines - the Australian version is crafted in a dry style, while the German Riesling is deliciously very sweet. Additionally, the traditional method vintage sparkling wine from Jackson-Triggs is crafted with 70% Chardonnay, 27% Pinot Noir, and 3% Pinot Meunier.

Jackson-triggs Entourage Grand Reserve Brut Sparkling 2017 (91 pts)

Enjoy my top wine recommendations from this release! Cheers!

Red Wine:

  • MONTES LIMITED SELECTION PINOT NOIR 2022 - DO Aconcagua Costa, Chile (#37937) (XD) - $15.95  88+ pts  wine review
  • TARAPACÁ GRAN RESERVA CARMENÈRE 2021 - DO Valle del Maipo, Chile (#57513) (XD) - $16.95  89 pts  wine review
  • MONTES ALPHA SPECIAL CUVÉE CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2020 - DO Valle de Colchagua, Chile (#649160) (XD) - $22.95  90 pts  wine review
  • CATENA APPELLATION AGRELO CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2020 - Agrelo, Valle de Uco, Mendoza, Argentina (#484303) (XD) - $22.95
  • NEIL ELLIS SYRAH 2021 - WO Groenekloof, South Africa (#33289) (XD) - $24.95
  • SANTA RITA FLORESTA CARMENÈRE 2021 - DO Apalta, Valle de Colchagua, Chile (#34733) (XD) - $27.95  91 pts  wine review

  • KECHRIS XINOMAVRO 2020 - PGI Slopes of Paiko, Greece (#33262) (XD) - $29.95  review coming soon...
  • LA VITE LUCENTE 2021 - IGT Toscana, Italy (#747030) (XD) - $32.95  91 pts  wine review
  • EVANS & TATE REDBROOK ESTATE CABERNET/MERLOT 2019 - Margaret River, Western Australia (#16530) (XD) - $34.95
  • GREYSTONE PINOT NOIR 2019 - Waipara Valley, North Canterbury, South Island, New Zealand (#30151) (XD) - $43.95
  • CHÂTEAU COUFRAN 2010 - AC Haut-Médoc, Bordeaux, France (#325555) (XD) - $43.95  review coming soon...

  • CASAS DEL BOSQUE PEQUEÑAS SYRAH 2021 - Vegan, sustainable, small parcels, DO Valle de Casablanca, Chile (#34737) (XD) - $44.95  FE  92+ pts  wine review
  • WYNNS COONAWARRA ESTATE BLACK LABEL CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2019 - Coonawarra, South Australia (#84996) (XD) - $47.95  review coming soon...
  • DOMAINE PANSIOT CÔTE DE NUITS-VILLAGES 2021 - Sustainable, AC, Burgundy, France (#34252) (XD) - $48.95  FE  review coming soon...
  • MONTES WINGS CARMENÈRE 2019 - DO Apalta, Valle de Colchagua, Chile (#33354) (XD) - $67.95  FE  93 pts  wine review
  • ORNELLAIA 2020 - DOC Bolgheri Superiore, Tuscany, Italy (#722470) (XD) - $276.95  95 pts  wine review
Wynns Coonawarra Estate Black Label Cabernet Sauvignon 2019Casas del Bosque Pequeñas Syrah 2021 (92+ pts)

Domaine Pansiot Côte de Nuits-Villages 2021Kechris Xinomavro 2020

Santa Rita Floresta Carmenère 2021 (91 pts)Tarapacá Gran Reserva Carmenère 2021 (89 pts)

Montes Limited Selection Pinot Noir 2022 (88+ pts)

White Wine:

  • SONS OF EDEN FREYA RIESLING 2022 - Eden Valley, South Australia (#12652) (XD) - $19.95
  • VILLA MARIA WAIRAU VALLEY RESERVE SAUVIGNON BLANC 2021 - Sustainable, Marlborough, South Island, New Zealand (#536201) (XD) - $20.95
  • STAETE LANDT ANNABEL SAUVIGNON BLANC 2022 - Sustainable, Marlborough, South Island, New Zealand (#648691) (XD) - $25.95
  • GREYWACKE SAUVIGNON BLANC 2022 - Marlborough, South Island, New Zealand (#164228) (XD) - $26.95  review coming soon...
  • SANTA RITA FLORESTA CHARDONNAY 2021 - DO Punitaqui, Valle del Limarí, Chile (#34732) (XD) - $27.95  FE  91 pts  wine review
  • STUDERT-PRÜM WEHLENER SONNENUHR RIESLING SPÄTLESE 2020 - Prädikatswein, Mosel, Germany (#114777) (S) - $27.95  FE
  • ON SEVEN THE PURSUIT CHARDONNAY 2019 - VQA Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada (#25856) (XD) - $48.00  FE
  • VINCENT DE LA REMONDIÈRE LES FOURCHAUME CHABLIS 1ER CRU 2020 - AC, Burgundy, France (#32956) (XD) - $51.95  review coming soon...

Sparkling Wine:

  • JACKSON-TRIGGS ENTOURAGE GRAND RESERVE BRUT SPARKLING 2017 - Traditional method, VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#234161) (D) - $34.95  91 pts  wine review
  • 13TH STREET PREMIER CUVÉE SPARKLING 2017 - Traditional method, VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#142679) (XD) - $39.95  93+ pts  wine review

Fortified Wine:

  • CROFT RESERVE TAWNY PORT - DOP, Portugal (#538983) (S) - $18.95

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  • Date publishedThursday, November 23, 2023

Katogi Averoff Inima Xinomavro 2018 (Greece) - Wine Review

red wine review is an excellent Xinomavro from Greece that is brand new to the LCBO, arriving in stores across Ontario last weekend in the LCBO VINTAGES New Release Collection.

It is produced by Katogi Averoff, a Greek winery that began as a hobby in the late 1905's when Evangelos Averoff, a prominent politician, author, and businessman, planted the first Cabernet Sauvignon vines in Greece, on the steep slopes of Mount Pindus. He later bottled the first vintage of what would become the famous Katogi Averoff wines at his home cellar in Metsovo. The words "Vines of France on the mountains of Greece..." adorned the label of the first wine, a label which he lovingly designed.

While initially just a hobby, Averoff developed a vision to replant and transform the abandoned slopes of Pindus into vineyards, as well as revive the indigenous vinicultural tradition that flourished in the region in the 18th and 19th centuries. He also had a desire to boost the economic and cultural development in the region.

With the help of experts in Greece and France, Averoff developed one of Greece's most celebrated and highest-altitude vineyards, which are situated 950 - 1,050 metres above sea level. He also built a small winery on the eastern outskirts of Metsovo and became famous in Greece, while also garnering international awards. Averoff's red wine became the cornerstone of his quest to revive indigenous Greek grape varieties and develop successful blends with foreign varieties, a vision that was reflected in Katogi being one of the earliest to embrace authentic vinegrowing and winemaking methods.

After Evangelos Averoff passed away in 1990, Katogi Averoff continued to grow while remaining true to its founder's vision. His son-in-law, Sotiris Ioannou, became managing director and, under his guidance, new vineyards were planted in the Metsovo region, while experimenting with new grape varieties and blends continued. The winery has also undergone constant updates and expansion, thereby increasing production and expanding its national and international distribution.

Today, Katogi Averoff is managed by Alexander Ioannou, Evangelos' grandson, and continues to cultivate vineyards in the Metsovo region, while focusing on reviving indigenous varieties of the region, and developing wine tourism. The philosophy at Katogi Averoff is based on finding inspiration in life and people, in vines that flourish under difficult conditions, in bears and birds - their companions in the Metsovo vineyards, and in people who overcome all adversities to create. Katogi Averoff is inspired by everything that delights the senses and frees the mind and soul - everything that transforms their winemaking pursuit into a true state of mind.

The name of this wine is "Inima", which means "heart, soil" in Metsovo's local Vlach dialect. This wine is an expression of the positive energy and enthusiasm of everyone who has put their heart and soul into the production of this new range of wines by Katogi Averoff. It is crafted with 100% Xinomavro that was grown in a select vineyard in Rudina, within PDO Naoussa in northern Greece. The 30+ year-old vines are planted on well-drained, sandy clay soil, while the climate in the region is continental, with cold winters and hot summers. Furthermore, the cool air currents from Mount Vermion allow the grapes to ripen fully. After harvesting the grapes in late-September, the grapes were macerated for 7 days, followed by undergoing alcoholic fermentation for 20 days. The wine is then transferred into 300 L French Nevers-oak barrels to undergo malolactic fermentation. It rests on its lees for 2 months, and is aged in barrel for a minimum of 10 months. Let's see how this 2018 Xinomavro from Greece is tasting tonight...

Katogi Averoff Inima Xinomavro 2018 (91 pts)

Tasting Note:

KATOGI AVEROFF INIMA XINOMAVRO 2018 - PDO Naoussa, Greece (#30680) (XD) - $27.95
100% Xinomavro, this has clean, fragrant, and slightly perfumed aromatics that are intense with dark red cherry, black cherry, savoury wet earth, and sandalwood notes, along with touches of fine oak spice, black plum, and rose floral notes emerging with time in the glass. It's medium-full bodied with firm, grippy, and drying tannins that add weight and structure to the palate. It's dry with lovely flavours of black cherry, dark red cherry, savoury wet earth, rose floral, sandalwood, and oak spice replays, with touches of licorice and leather adding further complexity. It has very good, juicy acidity, while savoury earth with touches of mineral linger on the long, dry finish. It reminds me a bit of Nebbiolo. Highly recommended buy! Score: 91 pts

Other fine wines by Katogi Averoff can be ordered through their Agent - Kolonaki Fine Wines & Spirits.

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  • Date publishedSaturday, November 18, 2023

Wine Art Techni Alipias Red Blend 2019 (Greece) - Wine Review

After enjoying the delicious 2018 Wine Art Techni Alipias Red Blend at a wine dinner last October, red wine review is the latest vintage to come to Ontario as it arrived at the LCBO today in the LCBO VINTAGES New Release Collection.

It is produced by Wine Art Estate, a project of passion and love for wine that began in 1993 when Yiannis Papadopoulos planted a small family vineyard on the outskirts of Drama, in the northeastern end of Macedonia in northern Greece. Wine Art Estate is located in the heart of the Drama wine region that is made up of quiet valleys, exceptional micro-climates, and rich soil that shapes the character of the wines. Yiannis was inspired by the love for the vine, the beautiful landscape, and blessed with a unique terroir that delivers wines of great elegance.

The vineyards at Wine Art Estate are planted on carefully chosen slopes situated between two parallel mountains - Mount Falakro and Mount Menikion - which create a unique winegrowing environment that offers amazing potential for the production of distinctive, high-quality, aromatic, flavourful, and balanced wines. The soil is mainly sandy-clay over limestone layers, and highly suitable for the cultivation of Greek and international varieties. Of particular interest are the blocks in the Kali Vrisi area, a location that has been known since ancient times for the cultivation of vines and production of wines, as indicated at the ruins of the Sanctuary of Dionysus. Kali Vrisi was chosen for its rich soil and is known as a premium wine growing area.

Wine Art Estate has planted many grape varieties among its vineyards, ranging from Greek varieties, French varieties, Italian varieties, and even the Portuguese variety Touriga Nacional. All of the vines are carefully tended to so that top quality fruit can be obtained. The ultimate goal is to produce wines that are firmly rooted with a distinct sense of place, while also characterized by freshness, finesse, and elegance.

Like the previous vintage, this red wine is also a blend composed of 70% Cabernet Sauvignon and 30% Agiorgitiko. The grapes were grown in vineyards that are under conversion to organic viticulture in the Drama wine region, in the villages of Mikrochori and Kali Vrisi, areas that are near each other. The soil in these vineyards is sandy-clay over limestone layers in Kali Vrisi, and sandy-clay in Mikrochori. The vineyards have a continental climate with intense diurnal temperature shifts between day and night, along with cool, northern winds during summer. To craft this wine, each variety was vinified separately, with the grapes undergoing a cold soak of the skins to the juice prior to fermentation, thus transferring noble phenols and structure. It was fermented in stainless steel tanks, with regular pump-over to extract colour and tannin. After malolactic fermentation, the wine was transferred to French oak barrels (1/3 new), and was matured in these barrels for 12 months. After maturation, the wine is blended, then placed in tanks for settling, and finally bottled.

The 2019 growing season in Drama is showing to be an excellent year for red wines. It began with mild temperatures and little rain, while temperatures remained low during the winter months. Temperatures were slightly higher in spring, which led to quality fruit, while almost daily rains from June to mid-July led to a late harvest. The growing conditions allowed for good organoleptic characteristics of the grapes, including good acidity levels due to increased humidity. Let's see how this 2019 red wine from Greece is tasting tonight...

Wine Art Techni Alipias Red Blend 2019 (90 pts)

Tasting Note:

WINE ART TECHNI ALIPIAS RED BLEND 2019 - IGP Drama, Greece (#26944) (XD) - $29.95
This blend of 70% Cabernet Sauvignon and 30% Agiorgitiko has a fragrant, perfumed, medium-high intensity nose that offers attractive black cherry and dark plum aromas flecked with dark red cherry, olive, currant, cedary oak, and wet earth notes that add interest and complexity. It's medium bodied and dry on the palate with lovely dark currant, black cherry, plum, elegant cedary oak spice, with a touch of pleasant medicinal and eucalypt characters. Acids are fresh and nicely balanced, while the elegant tannins are smooth, supple, and fine-grained. Savoury wet earth and woody notes linger on the long, juicy finish. Enjoy this highly recommended buy over the next 3-4 years. Score: 90 pts

Other lovely wines by Wine Art Estate can be found not only at the LCBO, but also through their Agent - Kolonaki Fine Wines & Spirits.

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  • Date publishedWednesday, November 15, 2023

November 18, 2023 LCBO VINTAGES Release Wine Picks: Gifts for All

LCBO Wine Picks: November 18, 2023 VINTAGES Release
Here are my top wine picks from the November 18, 2023 LCBO VINTAGES New Release Collection which, like the last release, is unimaginatively also titled "Gifts for All". It is a good-sized release with 121 products on offer and mostly a red wine-focused release. All of these wines should be available for purchase by this Saturday, if not a couple of days earlier.

We begin with the "Gifts for All" thematic, which consists of 23 wines, 21 of which are red, and the balance made up of a single white wine and a Champagne. The theme features quite a few nice (premium) wines, with pricing starting at just under $40. Eight wines from the theme are included among my top wine picks, starting with the 2020 Super Tuscan that's featured on the cover and is a blend of 55% Sangiovese and 45% Merlot. Also from Italy is the Second Wine of Ornellaia, which consists of 50% Merlot, 28% Cabernet Sauvignon, 11% Cabernet Franc, and 11% Petit Verdot, while the other old world wine is a Châteauneuf-du-Pape that is made with 60% Grenache, 15% Mourvèdre, and 10% Syrah. Blends from the new world include the always iconic Purple Angel, which is a blend of 92% Carmenère and 8% Petit Verdot, while the Hidden Bench red wine consists of 50% Merlot, 34% Cabernet Franc, and 16% Malbec. There are also a pair of outstanding Pinot Noirs - one from Niagara and the other from Sonoma Coast. The last recommended wine from the theme is the Champagne that is made with 70% Pinot Noir and 30% Chardonnay.

Luce 2020 (94 pts)Le Serre Nuove dell'Ornellaia 2021 (93 pts)

Vilmart et Cie Grande Réserve 1er Cru Champagne (92 pts)

Le Clos Jordanne Le Grand Clos Pinot Noir 2020 (93+ pts)Hidden Bench Terroir Caché 2019 (92 pts)

Red wines from the main release include the Wine of the Month, which is from Ventoux in Rhône and consists of 70% Syrah and 30% Grenache. Also from France, the Roussillon red is a blend of Grenache, Mourvèdre, and Syrah. Other blends include the Vino Nobile di Montepulciano that is composed of 70% Sangiovese and 30% Canaiolo, while the blend from Drama in Greece consists of 70% Cabernet Sauvignon and 30% Agiorgitiko.

Carpineto Riserva Vino Nobile di Montepulciano 2018 (91+ pts)Wine Art Techni Alipias Red Blend 2019 (90 pts)

Among my white wine picks, the Rhône white is a blend of 60% Viognier, 15% Roussanne, 10% Marsanne, 8% Clairette, 5% Bourboulenc, and 2% Grenache Blanc, while the Spanish wine is a 50/50 blend of Viura and Tempranillo Blanco that was aged in French oak barrels. The mono-varietal white wines are all from the Southern Hemisphere - a Semillon from Hunter Valley, a Sauvignon Blanc from Marlborough, and a Chardonnay from South Australia.

Other recommendations in this release include a pair of fine wines from Niagara. The first is a traditional method vintage sparkling wine that is crafted with 100% Chardonnay, while the other is a lovely Icewine made with Cabernet Sauvignon.

Henry of Pelham Cuvée Catharine Carte Blanche Estate Blanc de Blancs 2017 (92 pts)Lakeview Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon Icewine 2017 (92 pts)

Enjoy my top wine recommendations from this release!

Red Wine:

  • VIA CARITATIS VOX ANGELORUM 2020 - AP Ventoux, Rhône, France (#35622) (XD) - $17.95
  • GÉRARD BERTRAND HERITAGE AN 1886 LES ASPRES GRENACHE/MOURVÈDRE/SYRAH 2019 - AP Côtes du Roussillon-Villages, France (#413245) (XD) - $18.95
  • SALENTEIN RESERVE MALBEC 2021 - Estate-owned vineyards, Valle de Uco, Mendoza, Argentina (#640854) (XD) - $19.95
  • PLANETA PLUMBAGO NERO D'AVOLA 2019 - Sustainable, DOC Sicilia, Italy (#19491) (XD) - $24.95
  • WYNNS COONAWARRA ESTATE THE SIDING CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2021 - Coonawarra, South Australia (#333229) (XD) - $24.95  91+ pts  wine review
  • KATOGI AVEROFF INIMA XINOMAVRO 2018 - PDO Naoussa, Greece (#30680) (XD) - $27.95  91 pts  wine review
  • WINE ART TECHNI ALIPIAS RED BLEND 2019 - IGP Drama, Greece (#26944) (XD) - $29.95  90 pts  wine review
  • TORBRECK WOODCUTTER'S SHIRAZ 2021 - Barossa Valley, South Australia (#927533) (XD) - $29.95
  • CARPINETO RISERVA VINO NOBILE DI MONTEPULCIANO 2018 - DOCG, Tuscany, Italy (#368910) (XD) - $32.95  91+ pts  wine review
  • HIDDEN BENCH TERROIR CACHÉ 2019 - Unfiltered, VQA Beamsville Bench, Niagara Escarpment, Ontario, Canada (#505610) (XD) - $44.95  92 pts  wine review
  • LE CLOS JORDANNE LE GRAND CLOS PINOT NOIR 2020 - VQA Twenty Mile Bench, Niagara Escarpment, Ontario, Canada (#184564) (XD) - $49.95  93+ pts  wine review
  • XAVIER VIGNON CUVÉE ANONYME CHÂTEAUNEUF-DU-PAPE 2019 - AP, Rhône, France (#393421) (XD) - $65.95
  • FLOWERS PINOT NOIR 2021 - Sonoma Coast, Sonoma County, California, USA (#215202) (XD) - $69.95
  • LE SERRE NUOVE DELL'ORNELLAIA 2021 - Second wine of Ornellaia, DOC Bolgheri Rosso, Tuscany, Italy (#606194) (XD) - $75.95  93 pts  wine review
  • MONTES PURPLE ANGEL 2020 - DO Valle de Colchagua, Chile (#62364) (XD) - $95.95  94 pts  wine review
  • LUCE 2020 - IGT Toscana, Italy (#685263) (XD) - $125.95  94 pts  wine review
Wynns Coonawarra Estate The Siding Cabernet Sauvignon 2021 (91+ pts)Katogi Averoff Inima Xinomavro 2018 (91 pts)

White Wine:

  • D'ARENBERG THE OLIVE GROVE CHARDONNAY 2021 - McLaren Vale/Adelaide Hills, South Australia (#702845) (XD) - $18.95
  • VILLA MARIA CELLAR SELECTION SAUVIGNON BLANC 2022 - Sustainable, Marlborough, South Island, New Zealand (#974527) (XD) - $19.95
  • E. GUIGAL CÔTES DU RHÔNE BLANC 2022 - AC, France (#290296) (XD) - $22.95
  • TYRRELL'S HUNTER VALLEY SEMILLON 2022 - Hunter Valley, New South Wales, Australia (#632034) (XD) - $27.95

Sparkling Wine:

  • HENRY OF PELHAM CUVÉE CATHARINE CARTE BLANCHE ESTATE BLANC DE BLANCS 2017 - Traditional method, VQA Short Hills Bench, Niagara Escarpment, Ontario, Canada (#315200) (XD) - $49.95  92 pts  wine review
  • VILMART ET CIE GRANDE RÉSERVE 1ER CRU CHAMPAGNE - AC, France (#12619) (XD) - $80.95  92 pts  wine review

Dessert Wine:

  • LAKEVIEW CELLARS CABERNET SAUVIGNON ICEWINE 2017 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#471813) (S) (200 mL) - $50.00  92 pts  wine review

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  • Date publishedTuesday, November 14, 2023

Alvi's Drift Signature Chardonnay 2021 (South Africa) - Wine Review

white wine review is a delicious, sustainably-crafted, unoaked Chardonnay from South Africa that arrived at the LCBO over the summer in the LCBO VINTAGES New Release Collection - and still available for purchase right now.

It is produced by Alvi's Drift Winery, an award-winning, family-owned winery that was founded by Alvi van der Merwe and his wife, Hester, in the early 2000s. Although the winery is relatively new, its roots go back to 1928, when a young, unknown rugby player by the name of Albertus Viljoen van der Merwe - "Alvi" to his friends - made history by scoring the first try in history against the All Blacks on African soil. A few years before retiring from rugby, Oupa (Grandad) Alvi acquired a piece of fertile farmland nestled on the banks of the Breede River in the Western Cape's majestic Breede River Valley. In 1930, a low-water bridge was built across the river running through the property to allow locals easier access to the land. This bridge was locally christened, and still known today as "Alvi's Drift", after Oupa Alvi, as he was instrumental in building it.

Today, the farm is in the hands of Alvi van der Merwe, the grandson of Oupa. He has turned both the farm and the family legacy for crafting exceptional wines into a vision that surpassed all expectations. Alvi is widely known for being a perfectionist, while also being dedicated and passionate about the winemaking craft. Although he initially studied medicine, his passion for creating world-class wines from this family's vineyards persisted, and in 2003 he returned home from practicing abroad to assist his father, Bertie, with managing the family's orchards, vineyards, and winery.

While Bertie was focused mostly on bulk wine production, Alvi began exploring his passion for winemaking. After one year, once Bertie had picked all of his grapes, Alvi was allowed to pick and use any remaining grapes. He put in a lot of effort to create a bit of Chardonnay and Muscat de Frontignan and bought his own barrels and bottles, and actually won quite a few awards with his first wine and Alvi's Drift Winery was born.

Together with his wife, Junel - a Cape Wine Master and well-known lecturer, speaker, and wine expert - Alvi and Junel form a formidable partnership that, along with their winemaking team, has built a reputation for creating exceptional wines of singular character and complexity. The end goal is always the same: nothing less than excellence in every outcome.

This white wine is crafted with 100% Chardonnay that was grown in WO Western Cape, in an area that has a Mediterranean micro-climate, an abundance of soil diversity, and water from the life-giving Breede River. Alvi's Drift vineyards are ideally positioned for producing remarkable wines of unique character and complexity. The vineyards are sustainably fertilised with natural compost that is produced on their farm, as well as meticulously managed to ensure optimal quality and flavour. At harvest, the grapes are selectively hand-harvested in the cool, early morning hours, while ensuring that only the healthiest and perfectly ripe bunches are used for making quality wine. At the winery, the winemaking team strongly focuses on making wines that preserve the fruit-driven expression of the grapes. To craft this wine, only premium free-run juice was used. It was fermented in stainless steel tanks and aged on its lees for several months prior to fining, stabilising, and bottling.

From a cooler-than-normal vintage that delivered exceptional wines, let's see how this 2021 Chardonnay from South Africa is tasting tonight...

Alvi's Drift Signature Chardonnay 2021 (88+ pts)

Tasting Note:

ALVI'S DRIFT SIGNATURE CHARDONNAY 2021 - WO Western Cape, South Africa (#21151) (XD) - $14.95
Screw cap. The medium+ intensity nose offers apple, pear, and lemon citrus aromas nuanced with buttery notes and hints of melon and green herbs. It has very good weight and structure on the medium-full bodied palate with dry and lightly honeyed and spicy flavours of delicious apple, pear, buttery, and herbs, with a nice textural mouthfeel, plus some leesy mineral notes that appear on the mid-palate. Lively acids are fresh and juicy, while leesy mineral, herbal, apple, and pear notes all appear on the long, crisp finish. Recommended buy! Score: 88+ pts

One other wine by Alvi's Drift can be found at the LCBO, while the entire portfolio can be ordered through their Agent - Churchill Cellars.

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  • Date publishedSaturday, November 11, 2023

Skouras Wild Ferment Assyrtiko 2022 (Greece) - Wine Review

white wine review is a lovely wild fermented Assyrtiko from Greece. It brand new to the LCBO, arriving in-store (and online) as part of last weekend's LCBO VINTAGES New Release Collection.

It is produced by Domaine Skouras, a well-known winery that was founded by George Skouras, who was born in Argos, within the Peloponnese region, in southern Greece. Argos is one of the oldest towns in Europe with a 3,000 year tradition of wine and culture. George's interest in wine led him to study Agriculture at the University of Dijon, in Burgundy, France, in 1980. However, it was his acquaintance with Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, as well as meeting the famous local wine growers, that put a spell on him. Upon graduating from Dijon with a degree in oenology, George started gathering experience in many of the classic wine-producing regions in France, Italy, and Greece.

In 1986, George's long-held vision of having his own winery was realized with the creation of Domaine Skouras. The small winemaking facility was initially located in Pyrgela, a small village on the outskirts of Argos, followed by the creation of a boutique winery within the Nemea Appellation of northeastern Peloponnese, in the village of Gimno. In Nemea, George performed countless hours of manual work on an extremely small scale while learning about the Agiorgitiko variety and the Nemea denomination - lessons which became invaluable.

Today, Domaine Skouras is an ultra-modern winery that remains located in Nemea, in the highlands of Argolida, an area that is blessed with ideal winegrowing conditions, particularly for the Agiorgitiko variety. The winery is situated in Argolida, northeastern Peloponnese, close to the provinces of Corinthia and Arcadia, just a few kilometres from Argos, in the village of Malandreni. The Nemea zone is the largest - and quite possibly the most exciting - Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) for red wines in Greece, while the nearby PDO of Mantinia and other surrounding areas which do not have PDO status have excellent terroirs for viticulture. Domaine Skouras owns a number of vineyards across all of these areas.

As a skilled winemaker, George Skouras is dedicated to crafting high-quality wines that showcase Greek terroir. In addition to their own vineyards, Skouras also collaborates with select, quality-oriented vine growers, under the expert guidance of the Skouras viticulture team. The philosophy at Domaine Skouras is focused on purity, varietal clarity, tracing of the region's mesoclimate, and imprint of the terroir, with the aim of achieving optimum ripeness and obtaining the best possible grape, as the better the fruit is at harvest, the better the wine. Contributing to the winery's success, Domaine Skouras embraces modern techniques, while putting a strong emphasis on minimal intervention in the winemaking process.

This white wine is crafted with 100% Assyrtiko that was grown in the village of Gymno, Nemea, at 620 metres above sea level. The vines are fairly young, averaging 9 years old, and planted on red clay soil. After harvesting the grapes in September, they are whole bunch pressed and underwent alcoholic fermentation in stainless steel, followed by 4 months of sur lie ageing, all in stainless steel. Let's see how this 2022 Assyrtiko from Greece is tasting tonight...

Skouras Wild Ferment Assyrtiko 2022 (91 pts)

Tasting Note:

SKOURAS WILD FERMENT ASSYRTIKO 2022 - PGI Peloponnese, Greece (#32387) (XD) - $25.95
Screw cap. The attractive, medium-high intensity nose is ripe and inviting with a lovely mix of lemon citrus, leesy mineral, grapefruit, and tropical fruit aromas, plus hints of white peach, floral, and saline adding further complexity. It's medium-full bodied and dry on the nicely structured palate with delicious grapefruit, lemon citrus, leesy mineral, peach, and floral replays. Some saline and spice characters appear on the mid-palate. Acids are fresh and juicy with nice structure. It's nicely balanced throughout with citrusy, mineral, and subtle spice notes lingering on the long and very juicy finish. Enjoy over the next 5-6 years, and quite possibly longer. Highly recommended buy! Score: 91 pts

Other lovely wines by Domaine Skouras (including the 2022 Skouras Cuvée Prestige White which also arrived in this release) can be found at the LCBO, or ordered through their Agent - Kolonaki Fine Wines & Spirits.

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