Tuesday, August 14, 2018

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  • Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Marynissen Chardonnay 2014 (Niagara) - Wine Review



white wine review is an oaked Chardonnay from Marynissen Estates Winery in Niagara. While a previous vintage has shown up in LCBO VINTAGES, this wine is currently only available through the winery.

Marynissen Estates Winery was founded after the property - which is located in the Four Mile Creek sub-Appellation at the base of the Niagara Escarpment and contained an existing vineyard - was purchased in 1953 by viticulture pioneer John Marynissen and his wife Adrianna (Nanny) who immigrated to Canada from Holland.

In 1975, they began planting European vinifera grape varietals. John was one of the first grape growers in Canada to plant vinifera grapes, at a time when most people thought it could not be done. Cabernet Sauvignon was added to the vineyard in 1978 is now the oldest commercial planting in Canada and the pride of the estate.

The vineyards rich history was born out of a strong devotion to the land, pioneering spirit and passion for excellence. The Marynissen family spent decades watching over the vines, hand farming and harvesting to craft award-winning wines. Sadly, John passed away in January 2009, while his daughter, Sandra, retired. However, their family legacy and vision for the winery remains intact.

Marynissen Chardonnay 2014 (86 pts)

Tasting Note:

MARYNISSEN CHARDONNAY 2014 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#907683) (XD) - $15.95
Binned apple and lemon aromas from the cork. In the glass, the medium intensity nose has buttery, binned apple, lemon, and tropical fruit aromas, a touch reductive, and hints of butterscotch and earth. On the medium-bodied palate, it is clearly an oaked Chardonnay with buttery, baked apple, lemon peel, and sweet oak flavours. Food friendly acids lift the palate, while the finish is juicy with good length. Shows best with some aeration and only a slight chill. Score: 86 pts


Monday, August 13, 2018

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  • Monday, August 13, 2018

Wine Picks LCBO VINTAGES Release August 18, 2018: Australia + Europe Less Travelled

LCBO Wine Picks: August 18, 2018 VINTAGES Release
The upcoming LCBO VINTAGES Release features wines from Australia as its main theme, while the mini-theme is titled "Europe less travelled". The underlying message is really a chance for you to explore what's new in Australia, as well as the wines from Europe's lesser-known wine regions. There are also a couple of other relatively obscure wines from the New World. All of these wines will be on LCBO VINTAGES shelves across Ontario this .

We'll begin with the main theme that features fifteen wines, five of which are included among my top wine picks. The island of Tasmania has been making wine for many years, but only recently has it been gaining notoriety (some of it due to climate change) for wines such as the Jansz Sparkling Rosé that is a blend of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Australians are also innovating with wines such as rosé made with Sangiovese, a blend of 81% Syrah and 19% Gamay Noir, and an interesting Pinot Noir from Yarra Valley. And if you've never tried Hunter Valley Semillon, this release has a good one that should age for at least half a decade. Lastly, there is a wild fermented Savagnin that is a Flagship Exclusive (FE).

The mini-theme features a total of ten wines from six off-the-beaten-path European winemaking countries - Austria, Georgia, Lebanon, Greece, Hungary, and Romania. Personally, I wouldn't include Greece as part of this list, but that is a discussion for another day. Four of the wines are included among my wine recommendations. There is a Grüner Veltliner from Austria and a nice dessert wine from Hungary that is a blend of 70% Furmint and 30% Harslevelu. Both Greek wines featured are also among my recommended buys - a nicely floral Moschofilero and a 2010 red made with Agiorgitiko.

Cavino Nemea Grande Reserve 2010 (89 pts)Lakeview Cellars Morgan Vineyard Kerner 2017 (87 pts)

A pair of wines off-the-beaten-path from the New World include a Tannat from Uruguay, and for sweet wine lovers there is an off-dry Kerner from Niagara.

La Ferme du Mont Première Côte Côtes du Rhône 2016 (88 pts)Villacreces Pruno 2016 (89 pts)

Among my top red wine picks, the Côte du Rhône from France is a blend of 60% Grenache, 30% Syrah, and 10% Mourvèdre, while the Ribera del Duero from Spain is a blend of 90% Tempranillo and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon.

Enjoy my wine recommendations from this Release! Cheers!

Red Wine:

  • CAVINO NEMEA GRANDE RESERVE 2010 - PDO Nemea, Greece (#295618) (XD) - $17.95  89 pts  wine review
  • LA FERME DU MONT PREMIÈRE CÔTE CÔTES DU RHÔNE 2016 - AP, France (#251645) (XD) - $18.95  88 pts  wine review
  • GARZON RESERVA TANNAT 2015 - Uruguay (#558916) (D) - $19.95
  • CHAKANA ESTATE SELECTION CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2015 - Gualtallary, Tupungato, Uco Valley, Mendoza, Argentina (#555540) (XD) - $19.95
  • DE BORTOLI G.S. PINOT NOIR 2017 - Yarra Valley, Victoria, Australia (#015511) (XD) - $19.95
  • VILLACRECES PRUNO 2016 - DO Ribera del Duero, Spain (#312140) (XD) - $22.95  89 pts  wine review
  • LA BOHÈME ACT FOUR SYRAH/GAMAY 2017 - Yarra Valley, Victoria, Australia (#571141) (XD) - $24.95
  • KEINT-HE PORTAGE PINOT NOIR 2014 - VQA Prince Edward County, Ontario, Canada (#373415) (XD) - $25.00  89 pts  wine review
  • STEPHEN ROSS SANTA LUCIA HIGHLANDS PINOT NOIR 2015 - Santa Lucia Highlands, Monterey County, California, USA (#568246) (XD) - $42.95
  • VERSADO RESERVA ANCIENT MALBEC 2013 - Mendoza, Argentina (#316984) (XD) - $59.95
Keint-He Portage Pinot Noir 2014 (89 pts)

White Wine:

  • ZACHARIAS MOSCHOFILERO 2016 - PGI Peloponnese, Greece (#548222) (XD) - $14.95
  • ESTERHÁZY GALÁNTHA GRÜNER VELTLINER 2017 - Qualitätswein, Burgenland, Austria (#568501) (XD) - $16.95
  • LAKEVIEW CELLARS MORGAN VINEYARD KERNER 2017 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#443614) (D) - $17.95  87 pts  wine review
  • ORGANIZED CRIME CHARDONNAY 2016 - VQA Beamsville Bench, Niagara Escarpment, Ontario, Canada (#408435) (XD) - $18.95
  • VILLA SPARINA GAVI DI GAVI 2016 - DOCG, Piedmont, Italy (#541854) (XD) - $19.95
  • PACO & LOLA ALBARIÑO 2017 - DO Rías Baixas, Spain (#350041) (XD) - $19.95
  • RUSTENBERG CHARDONNAY 2016 - WO Stellenbosch, South Africa (#598631) (XD) - $19.95
  • BROKENWOOD SEMILLON 2016 - Hunter Valley, New South Wales, Australia (#657726) (XD) - $22.95
  • HENRI DE VILLAMONT PRESTIGE BOURGOGNE CHARDONNAY 2015 - AC, Burgundy, France (#416123) (XD) - $24.95  89 pts  wine review
  • SOUMAH WILD SAVAGNIN 2015 - Hexham Vineyard, Yarra Valley, Victoria, Australia (#572743) (XD) - $31.95  FE
  • RADFORD DALE RENAISSANCE CHENIN BLANC 2016 - WO Stellenbosch, South Africa (#320853) (XD) - $39.95  FE
Henri de Villamont Prestige Bourgogne Chardonnay 2015 (89 pts)

Rosé Wine:

  • THE FLOOZIE SANGIOVESE ROSÉ 2017 - McLaren Vale, South Australia (#558106) (XD) - $19.95

Sparkling Wine:

  • JANSZ PREMIUM SPARKLING ROSÉ - Tasmania, Australia (#037499) (D) - $27.95
  • CHÂTEAU DE BLIGNY BRUT BLANC DE BLANCS CHAMPAGNE - AC, France (#385112) (D) - $54.95

Dessert Wine:

  • CHÂTEAU DERESZLA 5 PUTTONYOS TOKAJI ASZÚ 2009 - Tokaj, Hungary (#012203) (S) (500 mL) - $46.95


Friday, August 10, 2018

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  • Friday, August 10, 2018

Villacreces Pruno 2016 (Spain) - Wine Review

wine review is a nice Spanish red blend that will be coming to LCBO VINTAGES on .

It is produced by one of the region's first wineries, Finca Villacreces, and is situated in the middle of Ribera del Duero’s "Golden Mile". The Duero estate is named after its founder, Franciscan monk Pedro de Villacreces, who, together with other clerics established a monastery on this site to pray and grow crops, including grapes.

For centuries, Villacreces was a place of retreat for Franciscan monks who, among other things, worked the land until the Confiscations of Mendizábal in 1836, when the land passed into the private hands of Marquis Teodosio Alonso-Pesquera - a royal senator of Alfonso XIII. Shortly thereafter, Marquis was granted water rights to the Duero River by the King.

At the beginning of the 20th century, the second Marquis sold the estate to the Cuadrado Family from Valladolid. In 2004, Gonzalo and Lalo Antón met the Cuadrado Family and expressed interest in purchasing the site as they already had bodegas in Rioja and Toro, and had been looking to expand into the Ribera de Duero. Pedro Cuadrado also hinted at leaving the wine business and estate in good hands. Soon after, the Antóns became owners of one of Ribera del Duero's most spectacular vineyards. They rebuilt the bodega, restored the vineyard, and relaunched Villacreces in 2007.

Villacreces Pruno 2016 (89 pts)

Tasting Note:

VILLACRECES PRUNO 2016 - DO Ribera del Duero, Spain (#312140) (XD) - $22.95
Approximately 90% Tempranillo and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon. Black plum and cedar oak aromas from the cork. In the glass, this has a medium+ intensity nose with smoky black licorice, black cherry, oak spice, and cassis with hints of earth and black plum aromas. It's medium-bodied on the palate with grippy, muscular tannins and fresh acids lifting the black cherry, blackberry, currant, and oak flavours. Drying mid-palate. Long finish with earthy and smoky elements, and just a touch of chocolate bitterness. Solid wine that needs 3+ years of cellar time. Score: 89 pts


Tuesday, August 7, 2018

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  • Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Lakeview Cellars Morgan Vineyard Kerner 2017 (Niagara) - Wine Review

wine review is a unique white wine that will be coming to LCBO VINTAGES on .

The Kerner grape is an aromatic white grape variety that was bred in Germany in 1929 by crossing Trollinger (a red grape variety) with Riesling. Today, most Kerner plantings are in Germany, while some are also grown in Austria, Switzerland, and South Tyrol (in Northern Italy).

With only a few vineyards in Niagara producing Kerner, this wine by Lakeview Cellars comes from the Morgan Vineyard located on the Lincoln Lakeshore sub-appellation. Approximately 2 acres of vines are 20+ years old, and are all planted on sandy soils. This wine has been produced since at least the 2000 vintage. Let's see how the 2017 is tasting tonight...

Lakeview Cellars Morgan Vineyard Kerner 2017 (87 pts)

Tasting Note:

LAKEVIEW CELLARS MORGAN VINEYARD KERNER 2017 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#443614) (D) - $17.95
Screw cap. The generous nose has white floral, ripe apple and peach aromas, with some honeyed and grapey notes. It's off-dry on the palate with more apple, floral, and peach flavours lifted by bright acidity. There's some bitterness on the honeyed-floral finish, with good length. A casual sipper to enjoy on a hot summer's day. Serve well-chilled. Score: 87 pts


Sunday, August 5, 2018

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  • Sunday, August 5, 2018

Dandelion Lioness of McLaren Vale Shiraz 2016 (Australia) - Wine Review

wine review is an Australian Shiraz that recently arrived in LCBO VINTAGES on .

Dandelion Vineyards is a unique fusion of vineyards and vignerons. The wines represent decades of experience, blending the fruit of old vine gardens with the finest traditions of artisan winemaking, while also allowing the unique character of these vineyards to express their terroir.

The grapes for the Lioness of McLaren Vale Shiraz are sourced from Angus and Helen Tuck's vineyard located in the subregion of Bakers Gully, in the foothills of McLaren Vale. These are mature vines are grown on ironstone pebble laden clay loam, over ancient Kurrajong Formation geology, a silica cemented conglomerate most suited to grow Shiraz.

Dandelion Lioness of McLaren Vale Shiraz 2016 (88+ pts)

Tasting Note:

DANDELION LIONESS OF MCLAREN VALE SHIRAZ 2016 - McLaren Vale, South Australia (#357475) (XD) - $21.95
Hand-picked and pressed in whole bunches, and raised in 20% new and 80% older French Oak barriques for 18 months. Screw cap. The medium-high intensity nose offers aromas of black plum, blackberry, jammy, black peppercorn, and oak spices with some jamminess. On the medium-full bodied palate, this has vibrant acids and nice black peppercorn and blue fruit aroma replays in a dry flavour profile, with jamminess firmly in the background. Rounded tannins are ripe, dusty, and smooth. Black peppercorn and chocolate notes linger on the long finish. Score: 88+ pts


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  • Sunday, August 5, 2018

Wine Tasting in Prince Edward County - Oct 2017 (Day 1 of 2)

Long Dog Vineyard & Winery
During long weekend in October, after many years of procrastinating, I finally managed to get out to Prince Edward County for the first time - ever!

Prince Edward County (a.k.a. The County) is located along the northern shores of Lake Ontario, west of Kingston. Tastings were spread out over two days. Since we were returning from a mini-vacation in Ottawa, I was able to visit only two wineries near the Village of Milford on the first day.

The first stop on was Long Dog Vineyard & Winery - owner of the oldest Chardonnay & Pinot Noir vines in The County, with the oldest vines planted in 1999. I had the pleasure to speak with owner and winemaker James Lahti, who took us into the production facility (a large shed) where all the action happens, including an opportunity to see Pinot Noir grapes undergoing fermentation - fascinating! The next stop was the barrel room where various wines were being aged in French oak. We were able to taste a few barrel samples of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir - all of which seemed to be coming along quite nicely. We then went to the tasting room to taste through Long Dog's current offering. I thought his Pinot Noir wines were outstanding, as each offered something different. Wine reviews of my favourite wines at Long Dog are posted below.

James Lahti - Long Dog Vineyard & WineryLong Dog Vineyard & Winery - Barrel Room

The second stop was a visit to Lighthall Vineyards to see Glenn Symons and taste a few of his very limited production, quality wines. As I found out when I arrived, production is very limited and wines sell out quickly, as there were only two wines available for tasting, with the four or five other wines sold out. Both of the wines I did try were delicious. Of course, I was disappointed at the lack of availability of the other wines. On the plus side, I also got to taste some of their delicious cheese that they make on-site. Lighthall is Canada's first wine and cheese producer that makes both under the same roof. A return to Lighthall will be necessary, and contacting the winery ahead of time to see what's available is highly recommended.

Lighthall VineyardsLighthall Vineyards

At the suggestion of the June Motel - a lovely, wine-themed motel located in Picton, Ontario, where we spent the night and that I would recommend in a heartbeat - we had dinner at Parsons Brewing Company as well as enjoyed a beer tasting flight. Besides the tasty craft beer and delicious, home-style cooked meal, this brewery/restaurant is ideal for those with young children as there is a playground on-site where kids can go and play while the adults enjoy their food & beverage.

June Motel

June Motel

Parsons Brewing CompanyParsons Brewing Company - Beer Flight

After we checked out of "The June" the following day - we will definitely come back, without the kids - we began another day full of wine tastings. A full review of activities will be posted shortly.

Wine reviews of my favourite wines are posted below. To order any of the wines from Long Dog or Lighthall, please contact the winery directly.

Tasting Notes:

LONG DOG BARREL SELECT PINOT NOIR 2011 - VQA Prince Edward County, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $20
Medium-high intensity aromatics are mature in nature with earthy, cherry, strawberry, beet root and baking spice aromas and flavours. It's light-bodied with smooth, fine tannins that are integrated very well. Acids are still quite lively. Whiffs of mineral on the mid-palate and lingers on the long finish. Fine, mature Pinot that will continue to drink well for a few more years. Score: 90 pts

Long Dog Barrel Select Pinot Noir 2011 (90 pts)Long Dog Top Dog Pinot Noir 2012 (89 pts)

LONG DOG TOP DOG PINOT NOIR 2012 - VQA Prince Edward County, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $26
From a hot vintage, this has ripe and perfumed cherry liqueur, strawberry, and oak spice aromas of medium intensity. It's medium-bodied on the palate with crunchy tannins that have some grip and nice aroma replays on the flavour profile. There's some warmth mid-palate, but is balanced by the concentrated fruit. Long finish. Enjoy with turkey over the next 5-6 years. Score: 89 pts

Long Dog The Otto Pinot Noir 2013 (91 pts)

LONG DOG THE OTTO PINOT NOIR 2013 - VQA Prince Edward County, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $32
Made only in the best years, this has a lovely, intense red-fruited nose of cherry, raspberry, and strawberry, along with earth and oak spice aromas. It's elegant and focused, with very nice aroma replays on the medium-bodied palate with some creaminess mid-palate. It has clean, balanced acids and fine, structured tannins. Finish length is excellent. Will age gracefully for 6-8 years. Score: 91 pts

LIGHTHALL PROGRESSION SPARKLING 2016 - VQA Ontario, Canada (#468090) (D) - $20
From Vidal grapes on the Lighthall property in Prince Edward County and made using the Charmat method, this is quite fragrant with lemon/lime, pear, white peach and floral aromas. It's medium-bodied with a light mousse and off-dry aroma replays led by citrus and tropical fruits. The finish length is very good. Score: 88 pts

Lighthall Progression Sparkling 2016 (88 pts)Lighthall Ramirez Chardonnay 2016 (88 pts)

LIGHTHALL RAMIREZ CHARDONNAY 2016 - VQA Prince Edward County, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $30
From the Ramirez Vineyard in Hillier, this has medium-high intensity aromas featuring pear, apple, and subtle vanilla oak nuances. The medium-bodied palate is creamy with nice aroma replays. Clean acids are slightly tart, but otherwise well-balanced. Touches of mineral on the medium-long finish. Score: 88 pts


Wednesday, August 1, 2018

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  • Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Wither Hills Sauvignon Blanc 2016 (New Zealand) - Wine Review

wine review is a recent arrival to the LCBO, as it was part of the LCBO VINTAGES Release.

It is produced by Wither Hills, a winery in New Zealand that takes its name from the landmark Wither Hills mountain range that borders their vineyards. It was founded as a small boutique winery in 1994 by (former) winemaker Brent Marris with a passion to craft the very best wine from Marlborough’s beautiful natural surroundings. In 2002, the winery was sold to Lion Wines.

Wither Hills is an accredited winery with Sustainable Winegrowing NZ. This industry standard was developed to allow grape growers and winemakers to protect the environmental integrity of wine production.

The winery is located in Marlborough at the northeast tip of the South Island of New Zealand, and the grapes for this lovely Sauvignon Blanc come from the Wairau Valley, not far from the winery. 2016 was one of the warmest vintages on record, allowing the grapes to ripen to optimum maturity.

Wither Hills Sauvignon Blanc 2016 (89 pts)

Tasting Note:

WITHER HILLS SAUVIGNON BLANC 2016 - Marlborough, South Island, New Zealand (#919514) (XD) - $19.95
Screw cap. The fragrant nose offers ripe kiwi, guava, and tropical fruit notes along with some with green, nettle and earthy characters. It's light-to-mid weight on the ripe palate with ripe, citrusy flavoured aroma replays. Acids are bright, juicy and nicely balanced. Hints of salty minerality linger on the finish, with very good length. Enjoy well-chilled. Score: 89 pts


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