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Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Jan. 24 LCBO Wine Picks: Spain + Chile + Argentina

LCBO Wine Picks from January 24, 2015 VINTAGES Release
The next LCBO VINTAGES release will be on shelves across Ontario on . The major theme of this release is on new value wines from Spain, while the mini-theme highlights wines from South America's two wine superpowers - Argentina and Chile.

Out of 22 Spanish wines featured, 6 made my list of wine picks - all are red wines. Four of these wines are made using grapes that don't quickly come to top of mind when thinking of Spanish wines - these are Mencía, Mazuelo (Carignan), Graciano, and the indigenous Prieto Picudo. All four wines can be enjoyed over the next few years. More familiar to those who drink Spanish wines is the Garnacha grape (a.k.a. Grenache) - the Casa Castillo el Molar is one such example made using young Garnacha (planted in only 2006).

Lastly, no conversation about Spanish wines would be complete without mentioning Tempranillo - the most widely planted red grape in Spain. In the Toro region, Tempranillo is referred to as Tinta de Toro. The Abelis Carthago William Selection Crianza, which you'll want to put away for a few years, is made using this grape from old vines.

The Argentina/Chile mini-feature yielded one wine worth mentioning - a Chilean Syrah. Chile has become one of my favourite places for Syrah - and this version from Casas del Bosque is a very fine example.The fruit for this wine was sourced from Casas del Bosque's own vineyard, from vines that are 8-13 years old and located on the coolest, westernmost area of the Casablanca Valley. This winery does practice some organic techniques, but is not certified organic.

From the rest of the release, there is a primarily Shiraz/Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot (37/26/24) blend from South Africa, and also a Grenache-led blend from Rhône's André Aubert. Also a blend is a red wine from Tenuta Rocca - an unspecified (and not very common) blend of Barbera, Nebbiolo and Cabernet Sauvignon.

In white wines, there are 2 very good values under $14 - the extra-dry Garganega from Veneto and the dry (slightly sweet) Weissburgunder (a.k.a. Pinot Blanc) from Germany. If you want to try an Old World Sauvignon Blanc, check out the Pouilly Fumé from Loire. For those that prefer sweeter wines, take a look at the Riesling from Alsace, or the even more sweeter Ontario Riesling or Alsatian Pinot Gris.

Enjoy my wine recommendations for this week. Cheers!

Red Wine:
  • AVONDALE JONTY’S DUCKS PEKIN RED 2011 - WO Paarl, South Africa (#383547) (XD) - $14.95
  • GOTÍN DEL RISC MENCÍA 2010 - DO Bierzo, Spain (#391581) (XD) - $15.95
  • DOMINIO DOSTARES ESTAY PRIETO PICUDO 2011 - DO La Mancha, Spain (#393140) (XD) - $15.95
  • ANDRÉ AUBERT VISAN CÔTES DU RHÔNE-VILLAGES 2013 - AC, Rhône, France (#224915) (XD) - $15.95
  • FINCA LOS ALIJARES GRACIANO 2009 - DO La Mancha, Spain (#392522) (XD) - $17.95
  • CASA CASTILLO EL MOLAR 2011 - DO Jumilla, Spain (#397190) (XD) - $17.95
  • SEÑORÍO DE SARRÍA VIÑEDO NO.8 MAZUELO CRIANZA 2009 - DO Navarra, Spain (#391656) (XD) - $17.95
  • TENUTA ROCCA ORNATI LANGHE 2009 - DOC, Piedmont, Italy (#309369) (XD) - $21.95
  • CASAS DEL BOSQUE GRAN RESERVA SYRAH 2012 - Casablanca Valley, Chile (#995092) (XD) - $22.95
  • ABELIS CARTHAGO WILLIAM SELECTION CRIANZA 2011 - DO Toro, Spain (#399105) (XD) - $23.95
  • NUGAN ESTATE ALCIRA VINEYARD CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2010 - Coonawarra, South Australia (#393686) (XD) - $24.95
  • STOLLER PINOT NOIR 2012 - Dundee Hills, Oregon, USA (#401539) (XD) - $31.95

White Wine:
  • RIONDO CASTELFORTE GARGANEGA 2013 - IGT Veronese, Veneto, Italy (#230656) (XD) - $13.95
  • ANSELMANN EDESHEIMER ORDENSGUT WEISSBURGUNDER KABINETT TROCKEN 2012 - Pradikätswein, Pfalz, Germany (#394122) (D) - $13.95
  • FEATHERSTONE BLACK SHEEP RIESLING 2013 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#080234) (M) - $16.95
  • KELLEREI ST. MAGDALENA PINOT GRIGIO 2013 - DOC Südtirol, Alto Adige, Italy (#249466) (XD) - $16.95
  • HENRI EHRHART RÉSERVE PARTICULIÈRE PINOT GRIS 2013 - AC Alsace, France (#392092) (M) - $18.95
  • CALERA CHARDONNAY 2012 - Central Coast, California, USA (#713313) (XD) - $24.95
  • DOMAINES SCHLUMBERGER SAERING RIESLING 2011 - AC Alsace Grand Cru, France (#627950) (D) - $33.95
  • BACHELDER BOURGOGNE CHARDONNAY 2012 - AC, Burgundy, France (#272005) (XD) - $35.95

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

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Southbrook Vineyards Wine Reviews

Tonight's pair of wines are from Canada's first certified organic and biodynamic winery - Southbrook Vineyards. Both are quite easy-drinking and are suitable for gatherings with friends and family.

SOUTHBROOK TRIOMPHE CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2012 - VQA Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada (#193573) (XD) - $22.95 $20.45

Wine Review of 2012 Southbrook Triomphe Cabernet Sauvignon from VQA Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada
Tasting Note:
Stelvin screw cap. Medium intensity nose with toasty oak, chocolate, plum, dark cherries and currant aromas. Palate is definitely on the sweeter side with ripe red berries, jammy fruit and chocolate overtones. Medium-level tannins are slightly grippy, while acids are bright and the finish is medium-length. If you like sweeter red wines, this one is for you. Should have wide crowd-appeal. In VINTAGES and currently on promotion ($2.50 off) until . Score: 86 pts

SOUTHBROOK CANADIAN FRAMBOISE - Ontario, Canada (#341024) (375 mL) (S) - $15.95

Wine Review of Southbrook Canadian Framboise from Ontario, Canada
Tasting Note:
Screw cap. Raspberries and candied red fruit aromas from the glass. It's medium-bodied on the sweet palate with nice aroma replays. Acids are bright, while the finish has very good length. Serve nicely chilled. Would be a nice way to end the night after a fine meal on . Score: 88 pts

Monday, January 5, 2015

Jan. 10 LCBO Wine Picks: Smart Buys

LCBO Wine Picks from January 10, 2014 VINTAGES Release
The new year is upon us and, as such, we have the annual "Smart Buys" release from VINTAGES that arrives on LCBO shelves this . The magazine is quite noticeably lighter than the massive releases we had in November and December leading up to the busy holiday season. The secondary mini-feature in this VINTAGES release highlights a few Scotches to salute (Jan. 25th).

Of the 28 wines featured in the "Smart Buys" section, only 2 made my list of wine picks. The Famille Lafage from Roussillon is a red wine blend consisting of 60% Syrah and 40% Grenache, and offers excellent value in this release - a "Smart Buy" for sure. The second wine is a Spanish red made with a grape that's normally used in blends, but in this case, the Rio Madre is 100% Graciano.

From the rest of the release, there is a 2010 Bordeaux that is a Merlot-Cabernet Sauvignon blend from an excellent vintage that will reward with a couple of years in the cellar. Other blends include a 80% Malbec / 10% Bonarda / 10% Syrah blend from Argentina, and an organic wine from Parés Baltà that is 50/50 Cab Sauv and Grenache. Lastly, from Greece is a 100% Xinomavro from Boutari. In white wines, the Gavi di Gavi is made with 100% Cortese.

That's all for this week. In the next release, wines from Spain, Chile and Argentina are featured - so we should find quite a few very nice wines to recommend. Cheers!

Red Wine:
  • BOUTARI NAOUSSA 2010 - PDO Naoussa, Greece (#023218) (XD) - $13.95
  • RIO MADRE 2013 - DOCa Rioja, Spain (#354753) (XD) - $14.95  reviewed here
  • LAFAGE CÔTÉ SUD 2012 - IGP Côtes Catalanes, Roussillon, France (#395236) (XD) - $14.95
  • PARÉS BALTÀ MAS PETIT GARNATXA/CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2012 - DO Penedès, Spain (#114264) (XD) - $15.95
  • TRIVENTO AMADO SUR MALBEC/BONARDA/SYRAH 2012 - Mendoza, Argentina (#037036) (XD) - $16.95  reviewed here
  • OAK BAY GAMAY NOIR 2012 - BC VQA Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, Canada (#392431) (XD) - $17.95
  • CASAR DE BURBIA MENCÍA 2010 - DO Bierzo, Spain (#392530) (XD) - $19.95
  • CHÂTEAU BEAUSÉJOUR HOSTENS 2010 - AC Haut Médoc, Bordeaux, France (#388298) (XD) - $22.95

White Wine:
  • BERSANO GAVI DI GAVI 2013 - DOCG, Piedmont, Italy (#999979) (XD) - $14.95  reviewed here
  • ROYAL TOKAJI FURMINT 2011 - Hungary (#653220) (XD) - $14.95
  • KEINT-HE VOYAGEUR CHARDONNAY 2012 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#389544) (XD) - $16.00  reviewed here
  • ATTEMS PINOT GRIGIO 2013 - IGT Venezia Giulia, Friuli, Italy (#707950) (XD) - $19.95
  • ANSELMANN RIESLING AUSLESE 2012 - Qualitätswein, Pfalz, Germany (#391052) (MS) - $19.95

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

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Château Ampélia 2005 (Bordeaux) - Wine Review

To ring in the New Year, I decided to open this red wine that turns 10 years old in 2015.

This is the last of the 3 bottles I purchased from the VINTAGES Bordeaux Futures program way back in February of 2006. The 2nd bottle of this wine was opened in March 2012. At that point in time, I commented that the tannins could have used more time to soften. Let's see how this red wine has evolved over the last (nearly) 3 years.

The 2009 vintage (#191171) of this wine was released in VINTAGES on Sept 28, 2013, with small quantities surprisingly still available.

CHÂTEAU AMPÉLIA 2005 - AC Côtes de Castillon, Bordeaux, France (#500330) (XD) - $20

Wine Review of 2005 Château Ampélia from AC Côtes de Castillon, Bordeaux, France
Tasting Note:
Blend of 95% Merlot and 5% Cabernet Franc. Wood and black plum aromas from the cork. Medium+ intensity aromas from the glass with aromas of dark currant, black plum, earth, wood and hints of dried herbs. Palate is medium+ bodied with a flavour profile that is quite complex - dried herb, clove flavours up front, followed by blackberry, currant, cedar, floral notes. Some prune and dried figs notes with air. Lengthy finish has clove, cocoa and oak flavours. Shows good balanced, acidity still quite fresh, while drying tannins have integrated very nicely. Could be aged another couple of years, but highly drinkable right now. Score: 89+ pts