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  • Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Giveaway - Win Tickets to Gourmet Food & Wine Expo 2019



Win Tickets to 2019 Gourmet Food & Wine Expo
The 25th Annual Gourmet Food & Wine Expo is coming up soon and I am pleased to give away a pair of General Admission tickets to two (2) lucky readers. Prize value is a max. of $60 per pair. The show takes place at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre and these tickets are valid for admission on either Friday, Saturday, or Sunday - show dates and hours listed below.

The Gourmet Food & Wine Expo is the biggest show of its kind in Canada, featuring wine, beer and spirits from around the globe and locally. You will also be able to sample many foods from the area's top restaurants and chefs, as well as attend seminars.

I've been attending this event for a number of years and it's always a great time! Instructions on how to enter the contest are provided below. Good luck to all and hope to see you there!

Event Details:.

When:Thursday, , 6 p.m. - 10 p.m. VIP Preview Evening
Friday, , 2 p.m. - 10 p.m.
Saturday, , 12 p.m. - 10 p.m.
Sunday, , 12 p.m. - 6 p.m.

Where:Metro Toronto Convention Centre, North Hall Building
255 Front Street West
Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Must be 19 years of age or older. No children or infants permitted.


How to Enter:

There are two ways to enter this contest. Head on over to my Facebook Page and Instagram, find the post referencing this contest and follow the instructions. You can enter on both Facebook and Instagram for multiple chances to win. One winner from each social network will be chosen. Each prize winner will receive two (2) General Admision tickets valued at max. $60 per pair. Contest ends . Good luck to all!


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  • Monday, November 11, 2019

Elderton E Series Chardonnay 2017 (Australia) - Wine Review

On this cold, wintry , I bring you some sunshine in a glass with a wine review of this Australian Chardonnay that arrived at the LCBO last month as part of the LCBO VINTAGES Release.

The story of Elderton Wines begins 1894, when a vineyard was planted by the Scholz family on the banks of North Para River in the Barossa Valley, South Australia. In 1916, the property was purchased by Tolley family. The homestead is located in the heart of the township of Nuriootpa and was surrounded by extremely old Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon vines. At a time where demand for Australian table wine was negligible, the vineyard had become derelict.

In 1979, Neil and Lorraine Ashmead moved to the Barossa after spending some years in Saudi Arabia. After years of no interest in the homestead, the Ashmead family purchased the property in 1980, which included a 72-acre vineyard as a bonus as part of the sale. Three years later, after restoring the vineyard and with the help of one of Australia's most respected and innovative winemakers, Peter Lehmann, the Ashmead family produced their first wine under Elderton Wines label.

Since that time, Elderton has garnered many accolades. Today, the winery continues to be run by the Ashmead family, with the second generation, Cameron and Allister, taking over the reins in 2003. Neil passed away in 1997, but Lorraine still continues to be involved through her role on the Board. Together, they intend on taking the company to the next level by purchasing other great vineyards, while also implementing sustainable practices so that the next generation of the Ashmead family will have a lot to work with when they are at the helm.

The E Series wines from Elderton are their entry-level wines that are designed to be affordable, everyday drinking wines made with exceptional quality. The E series stands for excellence, excitement, evolution, epicure, elegance and euphoria. E is for earth. E is for Elderton. Embrace and enjoy!

Elderton E Series Chardonnay 2017 (87 pts)

Tasting Note:

ELDERTON E SERIES CHARDONNAY 2017 - Barossa, South Australia (#458760) (XD) - $16.95
Screw cap. The medium intensity nose is ripe with melon, peach, and golden apple aromas, plus touches of pear, floral, and butter characters. It is medium-full bodied and dry with clean, refreshing acids and fleshy fruit that delivers golden apple, melon, and citrus flavours. Oak is very subtle, adding mostly a textural element. Leesy, apple, and citrus notes linger on the finish, with good length. Will be a fine match with poultry. Score: 87 pts


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  • Friday, November 8, 2019

Marqués de Cáceres Excellens Cuvée Especial 2015 (Spain) - Wine Review

vegan-friendly red wine review is the Wine of the Month that just arrived at the LCBO as part of the LCBO VINTAGES Release.

It is produced by Marqués de Cáceres, one of more widely known Spanish producers with many of their wines available at the LCBO.

The grapes for this particular wine come from vineyards that are 20 to 35 years old and located in and around Cenicero in Rioja Alta from both higher and cooler parcels (600 metres altitude), as well as lower grounds (400 metres altitude). These vineyards are planted on gentle hillsides, as well as on the town's highest altitudes with steep inclines. Soil composition is mainly clay and limestone, with some parcels having more iron-rich subsoils.

It is interesting to note that 100% of the harvest was completed manually, parcel by parcel. In addition, grapes are only harvested after they reach maturity, meaning that they may have to return to some of the vineyards several times depending on the orientation of the vines or if these are planted at different altitudes prior to picking the grapes.

Marqués de Cáceres Excellens Cuvée Especial 2015 (87 pts)

Tasting Note:

MARQUÉS DE CÁCERES EXCELLENS CUVÉE ESPECIAL 2015 - Vegan friendly, DOCa Rioja, Spain (#010684) (XD) - $17.00
This Tempranillo spent 14 months in medium-toasted French oak barrels, and at least a further 12 months in bottle prior to release. This has a quiet nose that offers ripe red cherry, sweet vanillin oak, clove and plum aromas. It is full bodied with oak spice, clove, licorice, and tarry notes surrounding a core of dark cherry. There's juicy, food-friendly acidity, while tannins are firmly structured and chalky and could use a couple of years to soften. Wood spice and earthy notes linger on the finish, with very good length. Score: 87 pts


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  • Thursday, November 7, 2019

November 9, 2019 LCBO VINTAGES Release Wine Picks: California

LCBO Wine Picks: November 9, 2019 VINTAGES Release
The November 9, 2019 LCBO VINTAGES Release features wines from California in this mono-thematic, third to last Release of 2019. On the whole, there are many lovely wines to add to your collection or for gift-giving throughout this Release.

We begin with the main theme that focuses on top California wines, which lists fifteen as part of this theme. While many California wines as part of this theme are high quality wines, I've limited my recommendations to four from this feature. First up is the lone red which is a Cabernet Sauvignon from the Stags Leap District in Napa Valley. My top white wines from California includes a barrel fermented Sauvignon Blanc (with a splash of Semillon) that is called Fumé Blanc from iconic Robert Mondavi. There's also a lovely Napa Valley Chardonnay and a Chardonnay from Sonoma Mountain.

Cliff Lede Stags Leap District Cabernet Sauvignon 2016 (93 pts)Kistler Sonoma Mountain Chardonnay 2017 (93 pts)

Beringer Private Reserve Chardonnay 2017 (92 pts)Robert Mondavi To Kalon Vineyard Reserve Fumé Blanc 2015 (93 pts)

My red wine picks are littered with blends from Italy and France. From Italy, the Amarone is a blend of Corvina, Rondinella, and Molinara, while the Chianti Classico is a blend of 90% Sangiovese, 5% Malvasia Nera, and 5% Canaiolo. Both Super Tuscans - the Luce and Crognolo - are big wines made with Sangiovese and Merlot. From Rhône, France, the outstanding Châteauneuf-du-Pape is a blend 30% Grenache, 30% Mourvèdre, 15% Syrah, 10% Counoise, and 5% Cinsault, while the Côtes du Rhône-Villages is a blend of 65% Grenache, 30% Syrah, and 5% Mourvèdre. Lastly, the Rioja from Spain is a blend of 75% Tempranillo, 15% Grenache, 5% Graciano, and 5% Mazuelo.

Masi Mazzano Amarone della Valpolicella Classico 2012 (93 pts)San Fabiano Calcinaia Chianti Classico 2016 (90 pts)

Luce 2016 (93 pts)Tenuta Sette Ponti Crognolo 2016 (92 pts)

Château de Beaucastel Châteauneuf-du-Pape 2017 (93 pts)Gabriel Meffre Laurus Côtes du Rhône-Villages 2016 (89 pts)

R. Lopez de Heredia Viña Tondonia Reserva 2006 (93 pts)

My white wine recommendations from the rest of the Release are all single varietal wines. Some of the bigger highlights includes various oaked Chardonnays from New Zealand, Sonoma County, and South Africa, as well as a Pinot Grigio that is consistently delicious year after year. For sweet wine lovers, look to either the very sweet Spätlese Riesling from Mosel, or the off-dry Gewurztraminer from Alsace.

Cloudy Bay Chardonnay 2016 (92 pts)Rodney Strong Chalk Hill Chardonnay 2017 (90 pts)

Christina The Heritage Collection Chardonnay 2017 (90 pts)Tiefenbrunner Pinot Grigio 2018 (89 pts)

Bischöfliche Weingüter Trier Dom Spätlese Riesling 2011 (90 pts)Cave Hunawihr Kuhlmann-Platz Gewurztraminer 2018 (88+ pts)

Among my sparkling wine picks, all are crafted in the traditional method, with the Italian bubbly made of 100% Chardonnay, while the Niagara bubbly is 50/50 Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, and lastly, the Rosé Champagne is a blend of 67% Pinot Noir and 33% Chardonnay. All are dry and aged for a number of years prior to release.

13th Street Premier Cuvée Sparkling 2013 (91+ pts)Ferrari Brut Sparkling (89 pts)

Enjoy my wine picks from this Release! Cheers!

Red Wine:

  • GÉRARD BERTRAND FITOU GRENACHE/CARIGNAN 2017 - AP, Midi, France (#403683) (D) - $17.95  88 pts  wine review
  • SIDEWOOD SHIRAZ 2016 - Adelaide Hills, South Australia (#446146) (XD) - $19.95  89 pts  wine review
  • SUSANA BALBO SIGNATURE MALBEC 2017 - Uco Valley, Mendoza, Argentina (#079798) (XD) - $19.95
  • GABRIEL MEFFRE LAURUS CÔTES DU RHÔNE-VILLAGES 2016 - AP, France (#381053) (XD) - $19.95  89 pts  wine review
  • ERRAZURIZ ACONCAGUA ALTO CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2017 - DO Aconcagua Valley, Chile (#203364) (XD) - $21.95  90 pts  wine review
  • SAN FABIANO CALCINAIA CHIANTI CLASSICO 2016 - DOCG, Tuscany, Italy (#023408) (XD) - $21.95  90 pts  wine review
Errazuriz Aconcagua Alto Cabernet Sauvignon 2017 (90 pts)Sidewood Shiraz 2016 (89 pts)

Gérard Bertrand Fitou Grenache/Carignan 2017 (88 pts)

  • RODNEY STRONG ALEXANDER VALLEY CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2016 - Alexander Valley, Sonoma County, California, USA (#350454) (XD) - $32.95  90 pts  wine review
  • SOLÉNA GRAND CUVÉE PINOT NOIR 2017 - Willamette Valley, Oregon, USA (#486944) (XD) - $33.95  90 pts  wine review
  • TENUTA SETTE PONTI CROGNOLO 2016 - IGT Toscana, Italy (#727636) (D) - $34.95  92 pts  wine review
  • R. LOPEZ DE HEREDIA VIÑA TONDONIA RESERVA 2006 - DOCa Rioja, Spain (#356337) (XD) - $58.95  93 pts  wine review
  • RENATO RATTI MARCENASCO BAROLO 2015 - DOCG, Piedmont, Italy (#713479) (XD) - $59.95  92 pts  wine review
Renato Ratti Marcenasco Barolo 2015 (92 pts)Rodney Strong Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2016 (90 pts)

Soléna Grand Cuvée Pinot Noir 2017 (90 pts)

  • VERSADO RESERVA ANCIENT MALBEC 2013 - Mendoza, Argentina (#316984) (XD) - $59.95  93 pts  wine review
  • CHÂTEAU DE BEAUCASTEL CHÂTEAUNEUF-DU-PAPE 2017 - AC, Rhône, France (#711317) (XD) - $93.95  93 pts  wine review
  • LUCE 2016 - IGT Toscana, Italy (#685263) (XD) - $119.95  93 pts  wine review
  • CLIFF LEDE STAGS LEAP DISTRICT CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2016 - Stags Leap District, Napa Valley, California, USA (#014217) (XD) - $119.95  93 pts  wine review
  • MASI MAZZANO AMARONE DELLA VALPOLICELLA CLASSICO 2012 - DOCG, Veneto, Italy (#597476) (XD) - $129.95  93 pts  wine review
Versado Reserva Ancient Malbec 2013 (93 pts)

White Wine:

  • KAIKEN TERROIR SERIES TORRONTÉS 2018 - Cafayate Valley, Salta, Argentina (#330407) (XD) - $17.95  88 pts  wine review
  • PENCARROW SAUVIGNON BLANC 2017 - Martinborough, North Island, New Zealand (#148429) (XD) - $18.95  88 pts  wine review
  • CAVE HUNAWIHR KUHLMANN-PLATZ GEWURZTRAMINER 2018 - AP Alsace, France (#012010) (D) - $18.95  88+ pts  wine review
  • CHRISTINA THE HERITAGE COLLECTION CHARDONNAY 2017 - WO Robertson, South Africa (#010104) (XD) - $18.95  90 pts  wine review
  • TIEFENBRUNNER PINOT GRIGIO 2018 - IGT Vigneti delle Dolomiti, Alto Adige-Trentino, Italy (#474742) (XD) - $19.95  89 pts  wine review
  • BISCHÖFLICHE WEINGÜTER TRIER DOM SPÄTLESE RIESLING 2011 - Prädikatswein, Mosel, Germany (#011651) (S) - $21.95  90 pts  wine review
  • RODNEY STRONG CHALK HILL CHARDONNAY 2017 - Sonoma County, California, USA (#275552) (XD) - $26.95  90 pts  wine review
  • CLOUDY BAY CHARDONNAY 2016 - Marlborough, South Island, New Zealand (#359513) (XD) - $38.95  92 pts  wine review
  • ROBERT MONDAVI TO KALON VINEYARD RESERVE FUMÉ BLANC 2015 - Napa Valley, California, USA (#326165) (XD) - $59.95  93 pts  wine review
  • BERINGER PRIVATE RESERVE CHARDONNAY 2017 - Napa Valley, California, USA (#026682) (D) - $64.95  92 pts  wine review
  • KISTLER SONOMA MOUNTAIN CHARDONNAY 2017 - Sonoma Mountain, Sonoma County, California, USA (#183921) (XD) - $114.95  93 pts  wine review
Kaiken Terroir Series Torrontés 2018 (88 pts)Pencarrow Sauvignon Blanc 2017 (88 pts)

Sparkling Wine:

  • FERRARI BRUT SPARKLING - Traditional method, DOC Trento, Italy (#352153) (XD) - $24.95  89 pts  wine review
  • 13TH STREET PREMIER CUVÉE SPARKLING 2013 - Traditional method, VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#142679) (XD) - $39.95  91+ pts  wine review
  • LOUIS ROEDERER BRUT ROSÉ CHAMPAGNE 2013 - AC, Champagne, France (#368415) (XD) - $104.95  FE

Dessert Wine:

  • CAVE SPRING INDIAN SUMMER LATE HARVEST RIESLING 2017 - Estate grown, VQA Lincoln Lakeshore, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#415901) (S) (375 mL) - $24.95
  • CARMES DE RIEUSSEC 2015 - 1er cru, AC Sauternes, Bordeaux, France (#472092) (S) (375 mL) - $25.95  91 pts  wine review
Carmes de Rieussec 2015 (91 pts)


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  • Saturday, November 2, 2019

San Gregorio Manga del Brujo 2006 (Spain) - Wine Review

wine review is something I pulled out from my cellar that was purchased more than 10 years ago from the LCBO VINTAGES Release. The tasting note that was published in magazine suggested this would drink well to 2020, so here we are, in 2019. Let's see how this Spanish red wine is tasting tonight...

San Gregorio Manga del Brujo 2006 (88+ pts)

Tasting Note:

SAN GREGORIO MANGA DEL BRUJO 2006 - DO Calatayud, Spain (#015073) (XD) - $17.95
This red wine is a blend of 65% old vines Garnacha, 15% Syrah, 15% Tempranillo, and 5% Monastrell/Mazuelo that was aged for 5 months in new and used oak barrels and bottled unfiltered. Deep garnet colour. The generous nose is full of savoury, earthy, and wet forest floor aromas with hints of dried berry and floral notes. It is medium+ bodied and quite savoury on the palate with more wet forest floor, earthy and savoury characters along with sweet cherry, rose floral, sweet spice, and dried berry flavours. The fruit is fairly dried out at this stage, with tannins offering a grippy textured mouthfeel. Acids are still quite juicy. Very good length on the savoury-earthy, dried berry/floral finish. A treat to drink now if you still have a bottle. Score: 88+ pts


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  • Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Southbrook Estate Grown Small Lot Wild Ferment Chardonnay 2013 (Niagara) - Wine Review (Bottle 2)

I first enjoyed the organic, biodynamic and vegan-friendly 2013 Southbrook Estate Grown Small Lot Wild Ferment Chardonnay back in 2015 and mentioned at the time that it should improve in a couple of years, so I am opening the 2nd bottle, 4 years later, to see how it has evolved.

Southbrook Vineyards, a family-owned winery based in Niagara-on-the-Lake, is a leader in Ontario in organic and biodynamic viticulture. They have great respect for the soil, water and ecosystems upon which great wine, and our planet, relies. Southbrook was founded in Niagara by Bill Redelmeier in 1991 after much success with their farm just north of Toronto. In 2008, half of their 150 acre property became certified organic, while today 100% of the estate property is certified organic, as well as biodynamic. Also in 2008, Southbrook was the first winery building to receive Gold Level LEED status.

This white wine was crafted by renowned winemaker Ann Sperling, who has been Southbrook's consultant winemaker since 2005. Using exclusively estate fruit, only 6 barrels (180 cases) of this wild fermented Chardonnay were produced. It spent 20 months in French oak barrels (50% new).

Of course, the 2013 is no longer available for purchase. However, the 2017 Southbrook Wild Ferment Chardonnay that I loved last December is still available at the winery and through their online web store.

Southbrook Estate Grown Small Lot Wild Ferment Chardonnay 2013 (91 pts)

Tasting Note:

SOUTHBROOK ESTATE GROWN SMALL LOT WILD FERMENT CHARDONNAY 2013 - VQA Four Mile Creek, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $34.95
Highly aromatic nose offers mature, slightly oxidized and complex notes of buttery, baked apple, pear and vanilla with touches of hazelnut, smoke and mushroom that become more prominent with air. It is medium bodied with lovely hazelnut, baked apple, and pear flavours mingling with vanilla and hints of butter on the palate. Some saline mineral notes arrive on the juicy mid-palate. Acids are still quite lively and fresh. Finishes long and succulent with more smoke, mushroom, nutty, and baked apple notes. Should continue to drink well over the next 2-3 years. Score: 91 pts


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  • Saturday, October 26, 2019

Chronic Cellars Purple Paradise 2017 (California) - Wine Review

Want something for your Halloween party? You might want to look at tonight's red wine review that is sure to please your guests with it's Halloween-themed label. It just arrived at the LCBO and is widely available across Ontario, just in time for Halloween festivities.

It is produced by Chronic Cellars, a California winery that came together in 2004 when brothers Josh and Jake Beckett combined their winemaking skills with their wit and humour to turn an idea into reality using two tons of the best – or 'chronic' – grapes to make killer wine.

The Beckett brothers grew up in a wine family in Paso Robles and helped by washing barrels, punching down fermenting grapes, and working the bottling line. It was only natural that one day they would make their own wine.

Chronic Cellars' philosophy is to use the best, or 'chronic', grapes to make seriously good wine for people who don’t take themselves too seriously. They have partnered with neighbours and friends in Paso Robles to build an network of growers, allowing Josh to select the grapes he wants for all of his custom, intriguing blends, including this Purple Paradise. The labels are created by Joe Kalionzes, a childhood friend and artist whose style and graphic linocuts perfectly capture their double-take vision for the brand.

While the label of this wine and it's well-timed arrival in Ontario evokes images of Halloween, the vision for Purple Paradise actually appeared when they were in their own paradise - Mexico. Purple represents the juice, while Paradise represents how you feel when drinking it. Sit back, relax, and float away to your own paradise.

Chronic Cellars Purple Paradise 2017 (85 pts)

Tasting Note:

CHRONIC CELLARS PURPLE PARADISE 2017 - Paso Robles, California, USA (#012011) (D) - $21.95
This blend of 78% Zinfandel, 9% Petite Sirah, 7% Syrah, and 6% Grenache has a fresh, aromatic nose of cherries, spice, strawberry, and a touch brambly, surrounded by vanilla and cocoa notes. The full-bodied palate is confected with sweet spice and vanilla, followed by blueberry, cherry, and strawberry flavours. Acids are fresh and balanced, while tannins are supple with a touch of textural grip. Good length on the finish with sweet vanillin oak and some earthy characters. Crafted for mass appeal. Score: 85 pts


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