Monday, January 28, 2013

  • Monday, January 28, 2013

Feb. 2 Wine Picks: New World Signatures



Cover photo of February 2, 2013 Vintages Magazine
The next Vintages release will be in LCBO outlets across Ontario on . In this release, the main feature is on signature varietals from New World wine regions, with two varietals chosen from various wine regions throughout the New World.

From Ontario, no doubt, our top two varietals are Riesling and Chardonnay. If there was a third varietal to be selected, I would choose Cabernet Franc. The Ontario whites in this feature are both quite good, with the Malivoire Chardonnay among my picks below (the other Ontario white is the Featherstone Black Sheep Riesling 2011 [#080234]).

The other New World wine regions featured in this release are California (Chardonnay & Cabernet Sauvignon), Argentina (Torrontés & Malbec), Chile (Carmenère & Cabernet Sauvignon), Australia (Chardonnay & Shiraz), New Zealand (Sauvignon Blanc & Pinot Noir), and South Africa (Chenin Blanc & Syrah). Read more about this feature here.

With around the corner, this release features a few bubbly's to celebrate the occasion. If I was to celebrate this day with a Sparkling Wine, I would choose something on the sweeter side. If you like sweeter Sparkling Wines, go with a Moscato D'Asti. If you want something only slightly sweet (i.e. Off-Dry), then check out the Peller Ice Cuvée Rosé that has a dosage of Cab Franc Icewine and Vidal Icewine added after the wine has been degorged; also check out the Dr. L. Sparkling Riesling. For something dry, your best best is the Pouillon & Fils Brut Rosé Champagne.

From the rest of the release, the Remhoogte from South Africa is a red-blend consisting of 40% Merlot, 23% Cabernet Sauvignon, 22% Shiraz, and 15% Pinotage. My top red from the release is the 2010 Hecht & Bannier (composed of Grenache, Syrah, Carignan, Mourvèdre and Lledoner Pelut) and which I'm looking forward to a vertical tasting with the 2008 that I acquired early last year. The Tour de L'Isle from Rhône is predominantly Grenache (85%), containing also 8% Syrah, 5% Mourvèdre, and 2% Cinsault.

Enjoy my wine picks for this week!


Red Wine:
  • PODERI ANGELINI PRIMITIVO DI MANDURIA 2008 - DOC, Puglia, Italy (#268136) (D) - $17.95
  • REMHOOGTE ESTATE WINE 2006 - WO Simonsberg-Stellenbosch, South Africa (#694539) (XD) - $18.95
  • TENUTA DI CAPRAIA CHIANTI CLASSICO 2010 - DOCG, Tuscany, Italy (#135277) (XD) - $19.95
  • HECHT & BANNIER CÔTES DU ROUSSILLON-VILLAGES 2010 - AC, Midi, France (#142802) (XD) - $23.95
  • ROSEWOOD NATURAL FERMENTATION RESERVE PINOT NOIR 2009 - VQA Twenty Mile Bench, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#318345) (XD) - $39.95  reviewed here
  • TOUR DE L’ISLE CHÂTEAUNEUF-DU-PAPE 2010 - AC, Rhône, France (#309849) (XD) - $39.95
  • TENIMENTI ANGELINI VAL DI SUGA BRUNELLO DI MONTALCINO 2007 - DOCG, Tuscany, Italy (#713719) (XD) - $49.95

White Wine:
  • STUDERT-PRÜM WEHLENER SONNENUHR RIESLING KABINETT 2008 - Prädikatswein, Mosel, Germany (#970129) (M) - $16.95
  • TAWSE SKETCHES OF NIAGARA RIESLING 2010 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#089029) (M) - $17.95  reviewed here
  • MALIVOIRE CHARDONNAY 2010 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#573147) (D) - $19.95
  • CHÂTEAU DE FONTAINE-AUDON 2011 - AC Sancerre, Loire, France (#745893) (XD) - $27.95
  • NORMAN HARDIE CHARDONNAY 2009 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#184432) (XD) - $35.00

Icewine:
  • MEGALOMANIAC COLDHEARTED RIESLING ICEWINE 2008 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#243519) (S) (200 mL) - $29.95

Sparkling Wine:
  • LOOSEN BROS. DR. L. SPARKLING RIESLING - Deutscher Sekt, Germany (#296095) (D) - $13.95
  • RICOSSA ANTICA CASA MOSCATO D’ASTI 2011 - DOCG, Piedmont, Italy (#072272) (S) - $15.95
  • PELLER ESTATES ICE CUVÉE ROSÉ - Méthode Classique, VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#113035) (D) - $34.95
  • R. POUILLON & FILS 1ER CRU BRUT ROSÉ CHAMPAGNE - AC, France (#314518) (XD) - $44.95



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


Saturday, January 26, 2013

  • Saturday, January 26, 2013

Dopff & Irion Vorbourg Pinot Gris 2009 (Alsace) - Wine Review

I am a bit embarrassed to say that this is the first bottle of wine I opened from my collection for the first time in 7 weeks. It was purchased from the November 10 Vintages release and I must say, this was an excellent choice... (It's still available at the LCBO, if you're interested).

DOPFF & IRION VORBOURG PINOT GRIS 2009 - AC Alsace Grand Cru, France (#292227) (M) - $17.95

Label photo of 2009 Dopff & Irion Vorbourg Pinot Gris
Tasting Note:
Nice citrusy, honey and pine aromas from cork. Lots or orange and tropical fruit aromas from the glass. Medium-full bodied and creamy texture with lively acidity. Aroma replays of orange and tropical fruits, plus some spice. Medium in sweetness. Quite the intensity on mid-palate, leading to a long, balanced finish. Delicious! Recommended buy. Will be enjoying this with Piri Piri Chicken Burgers.


Thursday, January 24, 2013

  • Thursday, January 24, 2013

B.C. Wine Tasting on Twitter - #ONtastesBC

I had the opportunity to taste these 6 wines for the #ONtastesBC Tweet-Up held on . It's a shame that we do not get more wines from our sister province out West.

Part of this promotion, as well as the feature in the current Vintages magazine, is to help spread the word and bring more B.C. wines into Ontario. As a consumer, I am also hoping that this will help, somehow, some way, open up the borders (between provinces!) to allow wine to move more freely from West to East (and vice versa). To show your support on Twitter, use the hashtag #FreeMyGrapes.


GRAY MONK GEWÜRZTRAMINER 2011 - VQA Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, Canada (#321588) (D) - $19.95
Quite aromatic with lemon, mineral and herbal spice aromas. Light-bodied with crisp, tart lemon, citrus, orange rind and some lychee on the palate. Has very bright acidity. Finish is medium-length and spicy. Score: 87 pts

QUAILS' GATE CHARDONNAY 2011 - VQA Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, Canada (#377770) (D) - $20.95
Nice aromas of apple, pear and butter waft from the glass. Medium-full bodied with nice aroma replays, plus some minerality and French oak on the palate. Some herbal/leesy notes come through on the mid-palate. Very good acidity and the finish is medium-long. Score: 89 pts

MISSION HILL RESERVE CHARDONNAY 2010 - VQA Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, Canada (#545004) (D) - $19.95
Nose seemed a bit closed with apple, oak, peach and pineapple aromas. Full-bodied with a round core of ripe orchard and tropical fruits on the palate. American and French oak is well-integrated. Easy drinking, crowd pleasing wine. Score: 87 pts


EAU VIVRE PINOT NOIR 2008 - VQA Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, Canada (#308353) (D) - $24.95
Seems higher than 13.3% alcohol. Complex aromas of earth, tar, dark red fruits and cranberries. On the palate, there is beetroot, strawberry, cranberry, earth and some cedar on the palate. Medium-bodied with smooth, integrated tannins, and a short finish. Score: 88 pts

MISSION HILL QUATRAIN 2009 - VQA Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, Canada (#218636) (XD) - $44.95
Blend of 35% Merlot, 30% Syrah, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 15% Cabernet Franc. Very nice aromas of dark fruits, blackberries, blackcurrants and (French) oak. Full bodied with good structure. It's very smooth with blackcurrant, dark cherry, ripe dark fruits on the palate. Refined tannins are well-integrated. Well-balanced with a long finish and hints of sweet fruit. Very approachable right now, but could be cellared another 1-2 years. Gorgeous! Score: 91 pts

OSOYOOS LAROSE LE GRAND VIN 2008 - VQA Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, Canada (#626325) (XD) - $45.95
Blend of 60% Merlot, 25% Cabernet Sauvignon, 7% Cabernet Franc, 5% Malbec, and 3% Petit Verdot. Fruity aromas jump out of the glass, followed by leather, cedar, kirsch liquer and raspberry. Core of dark fruits surrounded by very chalky tannins. Well-balanced with mouth-watering acidity. Finish is long with hints of mocha. Should be even better once tannins settle in 3+ years. Score: 91 pts


  • Thursday, January 24, 2013

2013 Niagara Icewine Festival Review


Niagara Icewine Festival logo
we enjoyed another very good (and sweet!) weekend in Niagara for the 18th Annual Icewine Festival. Our small group visited 4 wineries on Saturday in Niagara-on-the-Lake, then headed to the Icewine Village to check out the very large ice sculpture and taste some more Icewine and treats.

Our group started off the tour at Niagara College Teaching Winery to sample their 2010 Cabernet Franc Icewine paired with a salted caramel cheesecake. This pairing was an absolute delight as the caramel flavours from the cheesecake complemented the Icewine very well, while the extra cheese from the cheesecake balanced the acidity from the Icewine just right. This was definitely my favourite pairing of the day! Full reviews of the wines tasted during this visit will be posted at a later date.

Winery Tour @ Château des Charmes

The second stop on our tour was Château des Charmes for a tour of their facilities and to learn a bit about the winemaking process, followed by a structured tasting of 3 VQA wines. Following the tour, we partook in their Discovery Pass Experience to enjoy their fabulous 2009 Riesling Icewine paired with shrimp topped with a mango salsa. The shrimp offering did seem different than advertised, but was nonetheless fresh and tasty. An enjoyable pairing, but this Icewine is one of the best around and was the star in this pairing.

Our third stop of the afternoon was Jackson-Triggs Niagara Estate Winery for their 2008 Proprietors' Reserve Vidal Icewine paired with a creamy East Coast Lobster Bisque. This was a very popular item as evidenced by lineup when we arrived. While the Icewine was not much to speak of on its own, its creamy mouthfeel did allow it to pair beautifully with the bisque that actually contained pieces of lobster. I could have easily eaten a couple of full-size bowls of the bisque - it was delicious!

Icewine Marshmallows @ Peller Estates

And last, but not least, we visited Peller Estates Winery for an Icewine Marshmallow paired with not one, but two Icewines. Lots of sweet, sweet goodness from the roasted-over-an-open-fire marshmallow and the Vidal and Vidal Oak Aged Icewines made this a heavenly (and slightly messy) experience. My wife and I returned later in the evening for a 5-course tasting menu dinner courtesy of a DINE Magazine contest. More on this in another post.

Nut Cluster in a Chocolate Cup
That concluded our visit to the wineries on Saturday. Our group now headed off to the Icewine Village in the historic town of Niagara-on-the-Lake, where a block of Queen St. was closed off and became pedestrian-only. There were quite a few tents, many delicious Icewines to taste, and even a few food samples to try. Portable heaters scattered throughout kept attendees warm when they were not by the Icewine booths, and were sparse enough to keep the large ice sculpture from melting more quickly. Regarding food samples, there were many beef and pork items, and not much of anything else. I did enjoy the Thai shrimp soup and the cluster of nuts in a chocolate cup. If you're planning on heading to the Icewine Village this weekend (Jan. 26-27), check the weather forecasts and news sources to ensure that the Village is in fact open, because it was closed on Sunday (Jan. 20) due to severe high winds.

On Sunday, we got off to an unexpected early start at Coyote's Run Estate Winery to enjoy their 2008 Riesling Icewine paired with a lightly spiced coconut curried chicken on Kaffir-scented Jasmine rice. This was a nice pairing, but the Icewine would have held up well against a (preferred) slightly spicier curried chicken that had more fuller flavours.

Deconstructed Icewine Crème Brûlée @ Strewn
The next winery on our list was Strewn Winery to try a 'deconstructed' Icewine crème brûlée with maple-oat crunch and pomegranate with their 2010 Select Late Harvest Vidal. I wouldn't have called this dessert item a "crème brûlée", but it was very good, light, not too sweet and matched the sweetness from the Vidal very nicely. Definitely two "thumbs up" on this one. I wouldn't mind getting the recipe of this dessert as it seems relatively simple to make and would likely go over well at gatherings.

Get Schooled in Cool @ Riverview with Angela Kasimos
Our next stop was to "Get Schooled in Cool" - a 60 minute tasting event hosted by Winemaker Angela Kasimos at Riverview Cellars Estate Winery, who talked about the Icewine-making process and took everyone through a tasting of 4 of their dessert wines. The session was quite informative and the wines were delicious! It's quite the experience to meet the Winemaker and hear everything from their perspective. Since we had arrived at Riverview a bit early, we also had the chance to sample their Discovery Pass offering - skewers of strawberries and bananas, and a homemade cranberry-cinnamon biscotti - all dipped in a Belgian chocolate fountain. Yum!

Next, we headed to Twenty Valley to visit Tawse Winery and taste their Riesling Icewine paired with an artisanal cheese, and Cabernet Icewine paired with PC specialty chocolates. Both pairings were quite good as the cheese cut into the Riesling Icewine very well, while the chocolates complemented the flavours from the Cabernet Icewine very nicely. Both Icewines are also very good on their own!

Dark Chocolate Brownie with Spicy Frosting

The final stop of our trip to Niagara was at Fielding Estate Winery where we had a decadent, dark chocolate brownie topped with our choice of either a sweet or spicy chocolate frosting. I opted for the spicy version and didn't regret it. It was different, and enjoyable - I would definitely have it again (we brought the recipe back). It was first paired with their 2010 Merlot, followed by their 2010 Vidal Icewine. Both pairings produced lots of spicy sensations.

If you were tempted by any of the above, keep in mind that the Icewine Festival is running one more weekend (Jan. 26-27). Wineries will be offering their Discovery Pass Experiences. The Icewine Village may or may not be open - do check prior to heading there. The weather looks like it will be cold, but sunny with some clouds. My reviews of the wines tasted over the weekend will be available in a future post. Stay tuned...

Thank you to everyone that attended my tour and I hope you will join me again in the Spring for the New Vintage Festival. As with this tour, space will be limited. One member of our group was my Twitter friend Krista Lamb. She has her own blog titled "Upkeep", where she muses about wine, body and soul. Here is her awesome review of our tour and the Icewine Festival.

View the gallery of photos.



Monday, January 14, 2013

  • Monday, January 14, 2013

Jan. 19 Wine Picks: Spanish Wines

Cover photo of January 19, 2013 LCBO Vintages Magazine
The next Vintages Release will be on LCBO shelves across Ontario on . This is the 2nd release of 2013 and has Spanish wines as its main feature. Spanish wines tend to offer great value, and this release offers a few very good wines from this Iberian country.

Spain is known for its two red varietals Tempranillo and Garnacha (Grenache); both tend to go wonderfully with mildly-spiced chicken curries, in my opinion. The Don Jacobo is 8 years old and drinking great! It's from the Rioja DOCa and made from 90% Tempranillo and 10% Garnacha / Mazuelo (Carignan). The Borsao Garnacha is a limited edition release from the Campo de Borja DO, which is just southeast of neighbouring Rioja. It's 100% Garnacha and made from vines 35-60 years old. The Planets de Prior Pons, from the Priorat DOCa in Catalunya, is a blend of 40% Carinena (Carignan), 40% Garnacha, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Merlot and 5% Syrah. The Legón Reserva is from north-central Spain from the Ribera del Duero DO, which is situated along the Duero river that runs eastward into Portugal and to the Atlantic Ocean; this wine is 100% Tempranillo.

In white wines, Spain is known for its Albariño and Verdejo varietals. The Cuatro Rayas is from the Rueda DO in the north-central part of Spain, just west of Ribera del Duero. It`s made using 100% Verdejo from vines over 100 years old! The Señorio de Rubiós is 100% Albariño and is from the far west part of Spain (near the Atlantic, just north of Portugal) in the Rias Baixas DO.

I was also surprised to see a Roussanne from California in this release, as it's not widely planted. I was in Napa over the holidays and tasted a great Roussanne - I get the feeling that this highly aromatic white varietal will be making heads turn in the very near future, if it hasn't already. It has definitely gotten my attention!

There is also a feature on wines from the Okanagan Valley, of which I was less than impressed. If you're into Scotch, there are a few "distilled treasures". Enjoy my picks for this week. Cheers!


Red Wine:
  • DON JACOBO RESERVA 2004 - DOCa Rioja, Spain (#313270) (XD) - $17.95
  • ANGULO INNOCENTI CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2010 - La Consulta, Mendoza, Argentina (#306688) (D) - $18.95
  • JACKSON-TRIGGS NIAGARA ESTATE GRAND RESERVE SHIRAZ 2010 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#317941) (XD) - $19.95
  • LES HAUTS DE CASTELLAS VACQUEYRAS 2010 - AC, Rhône, France (#177634) (XD) - $19.95
  • BORSAO TRES PICOS GARNACHA 2010 - DO Campo de Borja, Spain (#273748) (XD) - $19.95
  • PLANETS DE PRIOR PONS 2008 - DOQ Priorat, Spain (#314559) (XD) - $22.95
  • LEGÓN RESERVA 2005 - DO Ribera del Duero, Spain (#303511) (XD) - $23.95
  • MARCHESI MAZZEI ZISOLA NERO D’AVOLA 2009 - IGT Sicilia, Italy (#303925) (XD) - $25.95
  • DOMAINE TOURNON SHAY’S FLAT VINEYARD SHIRAZ 2010 - Pyrenees, Victoria, Australia (#311480) (D) - $29.95
  • CAPRILI BRUNELLO DI MONTALCINO 2007 - DOCG, Tuscany, Italy (#305888) (XD) - $44.95

White Wine:
  • CUATRO RAYAS VIÑEDOS CENTENARIOS VERDEJO 2011 - DO Rueda, Spain (#312900) (XD) - $15.95
  • SEÑORIO DE RUBIÓS ALBARIÑO 2011 - DO Rias Baixas, Spain (#314427) (XD) - $17.95
  • MCNAB RIDGE SHADOW BROOK FARMS ROUSSANNE 2009 - Mendocino, California, USA (#312892) (D) - $18.95
  • ANNE BOECKLIN GEWURZTRAMINER 2010 - AC Alsace, France (#141226) (D) - $18.95
  • C.H. BERRES ÜRZIGER WÜRZGARTEN RIESLING SPÄTLESE 2010 - Prädikatswein, Mosel, Germany (#301952) (MS) - $24.95
  • FOREIGN AFFAIR ABBRACCIO SAUVIGNON BLANC 2009 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#307587) (D) - $24.95

Fortifieds:
  • DOW’S LATE BOTTLED VINTAGE PORT 2007 - DOC Douro, Portugal (#613927) (S) - $16.95


The rest of the wines and other features from this Release can be found here.


Thursday, January 3, 2013

  • Thursday, January 3, 2013

Jan. 5 Wine Picks: Smart Buys

Cover photo of January 5, 2013 Vintages Magazine
Apologies for the really delayed post, as I've been under the weather out here in cold & rainy California! As per the usual, the first Vintages release of the new year is always titled "Smart Buys". New wines will be in LCBO outlets across Ontario on . I will keep this short as I really need to get back into bed.

The best buy in the release is a fantastic Barolo for under $30. Italy shines through with 3 other reds as well. In whites, there are 2 German wines, plus a delicious extra-dry Assyrtiko from Greece. It's great to see the Flourish Vidal Icewine back on Vintages shelves - superb QPR at $17.95!

There is also a very nice feature on the Cabernet Franc varietal and it's impact here in Ontario. When I first tasted Ontario Cab Francs many years ago, I did not like them and tended to avoid them whenever possible. But over the last few years, I decided to revisit this varietal and now passionately seek them out. They are quite delicious! Enjoy my picks for this week and Happy New Year to all! I'm off to bed!

Red Wine:
  • DE MARTINO LEGADO RESERVA CARMENÈRE 2010 - DO Maipo Valley, Chile (#236059) (XD) - $16.95
  • DONNACHIARA IRPINIA AGLIANICO 2008 - DOC, Campania, Italy (#262956) (XD) - $18.95
  • LA SALA CHIANTI CLASSICO RISERVA 2008 - DOCG, Tuscany, Italy (#303487) (XD) - $19.95
  • ARNALDO CAPRAI ROSSO MONTEFALCO 2009 - DOC, Umbria, Italy (#303065) (XD) - $19.95
  • CAVE SPRING ESTATE CABERNET FRANC 2007 - Cave Spring Vineyard, VQA Beamsville Bench, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#072751) (XD) - $24.95
  • LA PIEVE BAROLO 2008 - DOCG, Piedmont, Italy (#213132) (XD) - $28.95
  • DOMAINE BESANCENOT BEAUNE THEURONS 1ER CRU 2009 - AC, Burgundy, France (#299909) (XD) - $35.95

White Wine:
  • TORRES VIÑA ESMERALDA 2011 - DO Catalunya, Spain (#113696) (D) - $13.95
  • WERNER ANSELMANN EDESHEIMER ROSENGARTEN SIEGERREBE SPÄTLESE 2011 - Prädikatswein, Pfalz, Germany (#910554) (MS) - $14.95
  • DR. HERMANN ERDENER TREPPCHEN RIESLING SPÄTLESE 2007 - Prädikatswein, Mosel, Germany (#181917) (MS) - $16.95
  • SANTO ASSYRTIKO 2011 - PDO Santorini, Greece (#627760) (XD) - $16.95
  • FOXGLOVE CHARDONNAY 2010 - Central Coast, California, USA (#262022) (D) - $19.95

Icewine:
  • FLOURISH VIDAL ICEWINE 2008 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#222356) (S) (200 mL) - $17.95

Sparkling Wine:
  • SCHLOSS WACHENHEIM RIESLING TROCKEN TRADITIONELLE FLASCHENGÄRUNG SEKT - Pfalz, Germany (#301366) (D) - $16.95

Fortifieds:
  • TAYLOR FLADGATE FINE WHITE PORT - DOC Douro, Portugal (#069856) (S) - $15.95



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


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