Wednesday, June 26, 2013

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  • Wednesday, June 26, 2013

2011 Vollenweider Wolfer Riesling (Germany) - Wine Review



Purchased this white wine from the May 25th Vintages release that had a minor focus on German Rieslings. Many of the German offerings in this release were very good to spectacular. Lucky for you - this wine is still available at the LCBO.

VOLLENWEIDER WOLFER RIESLING 2011 - Prädikatswein, Mosel, Germany (#324335) (D) - $19.95

Label of 2011 Vollenweider Wolfer Riesling from Mosel, Germany
Tasting Note:
Light floral aromas from the cork. Delicate slate, apricot, peach and hints of honey and lemon rind aromas. Slightly off-dry with a spritz that subdues the sweetness. Flavour notes of slate, beeswax, lemon peel and orange rind. Good acidity and a finish that is long and slatey with a beeswax-tinged finish. Nice! Enjoyed this with one of my favourite Indian comfort foods - homemade chicken curry.


Thursday, June 20, 2013

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  • Thursday, June 20, 2013

2013 Niagara New Vintage Festival Review

2013 Niagara New Vintage Festival logo
Last weekend I visited Niagara for the annual New Vintage Festival, which focuses on new-release wines paired with culinary adventures for the senses. Due to a late departure from Toronto, coupled with lots of traffic on the QEW, we arrived later than expected and had to be swift with our stops.

We picked up our passes at our first stop - Featherstone Estate Winery and ventured back on to their patio to partake in their Discovery Pass Experience. The first pairing was their 2012 Rosé paired with a grilled angel food cake - which was hot off the grill - and topped with roasted balsamic strawberries. Both the rosé wine and angel food cake were good on their own, and when tasted together, there was a delicious flavour sensation full of strawberries in my mouth.

2012 Featherstone Rosé with Grilled Angel Food Cake

The second experience was also delightful, with their 2011 Late Harvest Cabernet Franc paired with a mild Québecois bleu cheese crostini that was topped with a sour cherry preserve. Once again, lots of strawberry and cherry flavours when paired together, while the cheese also helped cut down the sweetness of the Late Harvest. Good acidity in the wine also helped make this a very nice pairing.

2011 Late Harvest Cabernet Franc with Québecois bleu cheese crostini

After quickly tasting a few wines in the tasting room, we bumped into @wine_gems on the way to the car and then headed over to Sue-Ann Staff Estate Winery.

It was pretty cool to meet Winemaker Sue-Ann Staff at a recent Churchill Cellars tasting, and now, to be in her home for the Discovery Pass Experience was the strawberry & whipped cream on top of a waffle! On the menu inside Sue-Ann's dining room was a sweet & savoury waffle topped with a light, summer-inspired cream sauce containing organic chicken and vegetables - which turned out to be mushrooms. Paired with this creation was her 2011 Pinot Grigio. This white wine was not your typical PG, it was big and very flavourful (and very good!) The wine pairing with the waffle was of contrasting flavours and generally went well together. But since I have a mental allergy to mushrooms, I didn't really enjoy the dish, and the waffle was much too sweet - I would have preferred it with whipped cream and strawberries instead.

2011 Sue-Ann Staff Pinot Grigio with Creamy & Savoury Waffle

The staff tending to patrons inside the house were the most enthusiastic I've ever seen at a winery - they love their job! This was my first visit, so we took a small, self-guided walk around the house and couldn't help but notice the contrasting styles - a very large, modern kitchen that seems to take up half the house, combined with an early 1900's look everywhere else. It felt quite grand and is definitely something worth checking out!

Colaneri Estate Winery


Up next was what-will-be a grand property, if it isn't already - Colaneri Estate Winery. With the property still under construction, and expected to be for 2 more years, we headed downstairs into a great room overlooking the vineyards for some homemade pizza paired with their 2010 Riesling. The pizza was topped with roasted red peppers, red onions, zucchini, and goat's cheese. The Riesling was light and fruity and complemented the pizza quite well as there were no strong flavours coming from either the wine or the pizza. In fact, this wine could have complemented many other light dishes as well. We ventured upstairs into the tasting room to sample a wide assortment of wines. Being my first ever visit here, I wanted to taste as much I could. Full reviews of the wines tasted during this trip for all the wineries I visited will be posted in the coming days.

2010 Colaneri Riesling with Homemade Pizza

Since it was now already past 5 p.m., we ventured to the only winery that was still open for the Discovery Pass Experience - megalomaniac / John Howard Cellars of Distinction. We arrived at megalomaniac after driving upon a long, winding road up the hill to what is the highest vantage point of the Escarpment - it was really was a nice view! Without about 10 minutes left before they had to close, the staff was nice enough to let us taste their Discovery Pass Experience offering, and also taste a few wines afterwards. We tasted their first ever "Bubblehead" Pinot Noir Sparkling Wine - the wine is so new that it hasn't even been labelled yet - with a white chocolate ganache tart that was topped with a strawberry compote. The pairing was, once again, quite good with the sweet flavours from the tart being cut by the dry, sparkling wine and providing good overall balance. Strawberry notes in the wine were brought to the forefront during this pairing.

Megalomaniac Bubblehead Pinot Noir Sparkling with White Chocolate Ganache Tart

This concludes my review of the 2013 Niagara New Vintage Wine Festival. Overall, I enjoyed my rather short visit and am sure I will return next year. Look out for my detailed reviews of the wines tasted as there were some fine wines that I would happily recommend - many of which can only be found at the winery.

If you're interested, this weekend will be the final weekend for the New Vintage Festival. There are over 40 wineries participating in the Discovery Pass Experience, and the weather looks like it will be hot and mostly sunny! Let me know if you're heading out to the escarpment - shoot me an email or post a comment - and tell me where you're going or where you went. Until the next wine event... cheers!


Tuesday, June 18, 2013

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  • Tuesday, June 18, 2013

June 22 Wine Picks: Rhône + South Africa + Canada Day

LCBO Vintages Magazine - June 22, 2013 Recommendations
The next LCBO Vintages release will be on shelves across Ontario on . This edition of the Vintages magazine begins with a look at the Rhone Valley, specifically focusing on the vintages of 2009, the stellar 2010's, and the just now starting to come to market - 2011 vintage. The secondary feature in this release is on wines from South Africa that showcase the different varietals grown in the country, and includes a few blended wines. Unfortunately, most of the 6 South African wines are quite average, and none made my list of wine picks below.

From the 2009 Rhône vintage is a red-blend of 50% Grenache, 30% Syrah and 20% Carignan from Château Signac. From the fabulous 2010 Rhône vintage, we have the GSM-blended Domaine de la Charbonnière Châteauneuf-du-Pape from vines that are between 30-55 years old, and is made from 70% Grenache, 15% Syrah and 15% Mourvèdre. The Châteauneuf-du-Pape from Château la Nerthe is also a 2010 blend that is mostly Grenache. From the 2011 vintage, we have yet another Grenache-led blend from La Ferme du Mont. Not from the Rhône-feature - because it's a 2012 - is a Tavel Rosé from one of the more popular French houses and is a dry blend of Cinsault, Grenache and Mourvèdre.

To help celebrate Canada Day, the Vintages team has selected 8 wines from across our great country - including a Muscat-led sparkling wine from Nova Scotia, a Vidal Icewine from Niagara, and a red-blend from Niagara's Creekside Estate Winery consisting of 47.3% Cab Sauv, 37.2% Merlot, 10.8% Shiraz, and 4.7% Malbec.

From the rest of the release, we have a couple of great value red-blends from Portugal. The Quinta do Roncao is a blend of 50% Touriga Franca, 30% Tinta Roriz & 20% Touriga Nacional, while the Alvaro Castro is a blend of Touriga Nacional, Alfrocheiro, Tinta Roriz & Jaen (aka Mencía).

Also, worth mentioning is the Torres Floralis from Spain that is made using the Moscatel de Alejandría grape. I tasted this dessert wine recently at the Family Wine Merchants tasting and it is absolutely gorgeous - and a steal at $16.95.

Enjoy my wine picks for this week and Happy Canada Day to all. Cheers!


Red Wine:
  • QUINTA DO RONCÃO RESERVA 2011 - DOC Douro, Portugal (#147942) (XD) - $14.95
  • ALVARO CASTRO RED 2009 - DOC Dão, Portugal (#285288) (D) - $16.95
  • LA FERME DU MONT LE PONNANT CÔTES DU RHÔNE-VILLAGES 2011 - AP, France (#171371) (XD) - $17.00
  • CHATEAU LOS BOLDOS VIEILLES VIGNES CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2010 - Cachapoal Alto, Chile (#000661) (XD) - $18.95
  • CREEKSIDE LAURA’S RED 2010 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#117960) (XD) - $19.95
  • CONCHA Y TORO MARQUÉS DE CASA CONCHA SYRAH 2009 - Buin, Maipo Valley, Chile (#019042) (XD) - $19.95
  • CHÂTEAU SIGNAC CUVÉE TERRA AMATA 2009 - AC Côtes du Rhône-Villages Chusclan, France (#140079) (D) - $22.95
  • GRANT BURGE CORRYTON PARK CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2009 - Barossa Valley, South Australia (#317834) (XD) - $32.95  reviewed here
  • CASCINA DARDI BUSSIA BAROLO 2006 - DOCG, Piedmont, Italy (#268516) (XD) - $35.95
  • DOMAINE DE LA CHARBONNIÈRE CHÂTEAUNEUF-DU-PAPE 2010 - AC, Rhône, France (#062711) (D) - $39.95
  • CHÂTEAU LA NERTHE CHÂTEAUNEUF-DU-PAPE 2010 - AC, Rhône, France (#735407) (XD) - $43.95

White Wine:
  • FEATHERSTONE SAUVIGNON BLANC 2012 - VQA Twenty Mile Bench, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#089011) (D) - $19.95
  • BURGÁNS ALBARIÑO 2011 - DO Rias Baixas, Spain (#945063) (XD) - $17.95
  • DOMAINES SCHLUMBERGER KESSLER PINOT GRIS 2008 - AC Alsace Grand Cru, France (#249623) (D) - $25.95
  • LE CLOS JORDANNE VILLAGE RESERVE CHARDONNAY 2010 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#033936) (XD) - $30.00
  • STAGS’ LEAP WINERY CHARDONNAY 2011 - Napa Valley, California, USA (#655381) (XD) - $34.95

Rosé Wine:
  • FAMILLE PERRIN TAVEL ROSÉ 2012 - AC, Rhône, France (#680801) (XD) - $19.95

Dessert Wine:
  • TORRES FLORALIS MOSCATEL ORO - Spain (#642173) (MS) (500 mL) - $16.95  reviewed here
  • REIF VIDAL ICEWINE 2011 - VQA Niagara River, Ontario, Canada (#544791) (S) (200 mL) - $24.95

Sparkling Wine:
  • BENJAMIN BRIDGE NOVA 7 2012 - Gaspereau Valley, Nova Scotia, Canada (#256289) (S) - $25.95



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


Tuesday, June 4, 2013

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  • Tuesday, June 4, 2013

June 8 Wine Picks: Argentina + Father's Day

The next LCBO Vintages release will be in stores on . The major feature in this release is on the various modern wines found in Argentina, and apparently representing the best modern wines that this country has to offer. While I doubt that this is the best of Argentina's modern wine offering, there are a couple of wines from 11-wine selection that are worth looking into, including a $13.95 off-dry Torrontés and a cellar-worthy Cabernet Sauvignon for just under $20. If you're looking for Malbec, you're better off looking at the last release.

This issue also contains the annual selection for Father's Day. From this part of the release, you can check out the locally produced 2011 The Foreign Affair The Conspiracy, which is made using the Ripasso-method from Cabernet Sauvignon grapes and is slightly off-dry. Going up the price ladder quite a bit is the '09 Ridge Estate Cabernet Sauvignon - which is actually 77% Cab Sauv and 23% Merlot - and can be enjoyed with your Father today or up to 8 years from now.

From the rest of the release, in red wines, we have a couple of terrific Spanish reds - the Herencia Altés Garnatxa Negra is 100% Grenache, while the Gancedo Mencía is made from the Mencía varietal and is cellar-worthy for nearly a decade. The Italian Salice Salentino consists of 90% Negroamaro and 10% Black Malvasia of Lecce, while the Barbaresco is 100% Nebbiolo. The French Crozes-Hermitage is 100% Syrah, while the Château la Clare is a red-blend consisting of mostly Merlot and Cab Sauv, and some Cab Franc and Petit Verdot.

As the weather gets warmer, the LCBO tends to trot out more and more rosé wines, and a few in this release are worth your attention. Included among them are a couple of off-dry local Rosés from Fielding Estate and Pondview.

Enjoy my wine picks from this release. Let me know if you try any of these - I'd love to hear from you. Cheers!


Red Wine:
  • HERENCIA ALTÉS GARNATXA NEGRA 2011 - DO Terra Alta, Spain (#332353) (XD) - $15.95
  • LEONE DE CASTRIS RISERVA SALICE SALENTINO 2009 - DOC, Puglia, Italy (#597534) (D) - $18.95
  • URRACA CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2008 - Agrelo, Mendoza, Argentina (#271080) (XD) - $19.95
  • THE FOREIGN AFFAIR THE CONSPIRACY 2011 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#149237) (D) - $19.95
  • ESTATE PAPAIOANNOU SINGLE VINEYARD AGIORGITIKO 2007 - AQS Nemea, Greece (#047977) (XD) - $19.95
  • FERRATON PÈRE & FILS LA MATINIÈRE CROZES-HERMITAGE 2010 - AC, Rhône, France (#127712) (XD) - $21.95
  • GANCEDO MENCÍA 2007 - DO Bierzo, Spain (#332874) (XD) - $24.95
  • CHÂTEAU LA CLARE 2009 - AC Médoc, Bordeaux, France (#331751) (XD) - $29.95
  • PAITIN SORI’ PAITIN BARBARESCO 2008 - DOCG, Piedmont, Italy (#106591) (XD) - $32.95
  • RIDGE ESTATE CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2009 - Estate Btld., Monte Bello Vineyard, Santa Cruz Mountains, California, USA (#089284) (XD) - $52.95

White Wine:
  • CRIOS TORRONTÉS 2012 - Mendoza, Argentina (#001834) (D) - $13.95
  • FIELDING ESTATE GEWÜRZTRAMINER 2010 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#146753) (D) - $15.95
  • FLAT ROCK CELLARS RIESLING 2012 - VQA Twenty Mile Bench, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#043281) (M) - $16.95
  • COOPER MOUNTAIN RESERVE PINOT GRIS 2011 - Willamette Valley, Oregon, USA (#324491) (D) - $20.95
  • DOMAINE RAOUL GAUTHERIN & FILS VAILLONS CHABLIS 1ER CRU 2010 - AC, Burgundy, France (#159236) (XD) - $28.95
  • GRGICH HILLS ESTATE CHARDONNAY 2010 - Napa Valley, California, USA (#346304) (XD) - $54.95

Rosé Wine:
  • GIGONDAS LA CAVE SIGNATURE GIGONDAS ROSÉ 2012 - AC, Rhône, France (#323493) (D) - $19.95
  • FIELDING ESTATE ROSÉ 2012 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#053421) (D) - $15.95
  • PONDVIEW CABERNET FRANC ROSÉ 2011 - VQA Four Mile Creek, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#241802) (D) - $14.95
  • GASSIER SABLES D’AZUR ROSÉ 2012 - AC Côtes de Provence, France (#033621) (XD) - $13.95



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


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