Wednesday, December 30, 2015

  • Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Muskoka Brewery Mad Tom IPA and Cream Ale - Beer Review

Muskoka Brewery Beer
After enjoying wine almost exclusively for the past couple of months, it was a nice change of pace to have some beer. I opened the Mad Tom IPA, while I am enjoying Cream Ale.

Based in the heart of Muskoka, this brewery handcrafts premium beers that are unique and refreshing. Muskoka Brewery was founded in June 1996 by Gary McMullen and Kirk Evans with a passion for craft beers. The small team that helped open the doors nearly 20 years ago has now grown to a team of more than 100 passionate beer folk.

Muskoka Brewery has 4 core beliefs - Freshness, Purity, Independence and Creative Change.

Each of their products is labelled with a "best before" date so you can enjoy fresh beer each and every time.

Did you know that alcohol is the only consumable product that doesn't legally require a full list of ingredients? At Muskoka Brewery, they include the full list of ingredients so you know exactly what's in your beer. Furthermore, there are no additives, preservatives, or cheaper ingredients used to shortcut the brewing process. It is pure. Love it!

The brewery is an independent, Canadian-owned company with brewery and offices located in Bracebridge, Ontario. Creative change occurred beginning in 2012 with the construction of a new, much larger facility housing a new 70 hectolitre brew house and 8 x 155 hectolitre new fermentation tanks.

Sounds like a trip to the new facility will be required the next time I'm up in Muskoka!

Tasting Notes:

Dark golden colour and with very hoppy, bitter floral flavours. It's full-bodied and dry with a hints of caramel on the mid-palate. Good length on the hoppy, resinous finish. This is one of those beers to enjoy with food. 6.4% ABV. A bit too hoppy for my tastes, I think I would prefer the Detour IPA more. Available in can or bottle at The Beer Store or in can format in smaller quantities at the LCBO.

Muskoka Mad Tom IPA

Amber coloured and medium-to-full bodied with a creamy mouthfeel that's made in an easy-drinking style. It has gentle hoppiness and hints of citrus that flow through to the long finish. Highly drinkable and a pleasure to sip on. Celebrating 19 years this year, Muskoka Brewery's flagship beer is definitely my kind of beer! 5% ABV. Available in can or bottle at The Beer Store and LCBO.

Muskoka Cream Ale

Monday, December 28, 2015

  • Monday, December 28, 2015

Rioja Bordón Gran Reserva Vertical Wine Tasting

Rioja Bordón Gran Reserva Vertical Wine Tasting
Back in , I was invited to a very nice vertical tasting of Rioja Bordón Gran Reserva wines dating back to 1982.

These red wines are produced by Bodegas Franco-Españolas, a winery that was founded in 1890 in Logrono, Spain, in the aftermath of the French wine industry's most devastating incidents - the phylloxera plague. Bordeaux winemakers affected by the plague departed for Spain in search of the country's best soil and climate to continue their winemaking traditions. From the Bordeaux firm "Anglade", Frederick Anglade Saurat and other Spanish partners founded Bodegas Franco-Españolas. The winery name translates in English to "French Spanish Wineries". By 1922, the winery became entirely Spanish-owned. Today, it is owned by Carlos and Rosa Eguizabal, the second generation of the Eguizabal family that has owned the winery.

At Bodegas Franco-Españolas, the philosophy is to age all of its wines longer than legally required. For example, the Gran Reservas are barrel aged for 36 months instead of the minimum legal requirement of 24 months. Furthermore, all barrel ageing at Bodegas Franco-Españolas is done in American oak.

Rioja Bordón Gran Reserva Vertical Wine Tasting
The winery and its vines are located in a long valley in the Northern-Central part of Spain with a very special micro-climate defined by mountain chains to the north and south, and the Ebro River that runs between the two mountain ranges. Bodegas Franco-Españolas farms nearly 600 acres of vineyards while also collaborating with local farmers in Rioja.

It's interesting to note that Oenologist Carlos Estecha began working with the Eguizabal Group of Companies since 1988 and continues to this day - that's 27 years!

Today, Bodegas Franco-Españolas is one of the oldest and most prestigious wineries in Spain and in 2015 celebrated its 125th Anniversary.

Thank you Eurovintage Wines & Spirits for the opportunity to taste these lovely wines. The latest vintage of the Gran Reserva is widely available at the LCBO, while the Reserva and back vintage Gran Reserva wines may be available for purchase through the agent. Please contact Eurovintage for availability.

Rioja Bordón Gran Reserva 1982 to 2006

Tasting Notes:

Blend of Tempranillo, Graciano, and Mazuelo (a.k.a. Carignan). Medium+ intensity nose showing great complexity with rustic, earthy, tobacco, burnt caramel, old leather, blackberry and some dried herbs aromas. The palate is light-to-medium bodied with tannins fully resolved and flavours consisting of sour cherry and earth notes. Balanced acidity. It's a touch warm with dried herb notes on and the very long finish. Still very well-balanced at this mature age. Drink soon. Interesting to note that the empty bottle was extremely light. Score: 91 pts

Rioja Bordón Gran Reserva 1982 - DO Rioja, Spain (91 pts)

Blend of Tempranillo, Garnacha (a.k.a. Grenache) and Graciano. Medium+ intensity aromas of toasty smoke, wood, dark currant, dark cherry, mulling spice and some raisined notes. Medium bodied on the palate with herbal, coriander, dark fruits and some olive flavours. It has good acidity and a lengthy finish. Will continue to drink well for a number of years. Score: 89 pts

Rioja Bordón Gran Reserva 1985 - DO Rioja, Spain (89 pts)

Consisting of 80% Tempranillo, 10% Garnacha, 5% Graciano, and 5% Mazuelo, this has medium-to-high aromas of blackberry, dark cherry, leather, forest floor and well-integrated oak. On the palate, it's medium+ bodied with a chalky spine, fresh acidity and very nice aroma replays. The finish is very long with hints of raspberry. Excellent balance overall. Good tannic structure will allow it to age another 7-8 years. One of my favourites of the tasting. A delight! Score: 91 pts

Rioja Bordón Gran Reserva 1994 - DOCa Rioja, Spain (91 pts)

Same blend as the 1994, this has medium+ intensity aromas of blackberry, earth, raspberry, spice and vanilla. It's medium-to-full bodied with a chalky spine and very good acidity. The aromas echo on the palate along with sour cherry and oak flavours. A touch warm on the lingering finish. Still has life. Score: 89 pts

Rioja Bordón Gran Reserva 1995 - DOCa Rioja, Spain (89 pts)

RIOJA BORDÓN GRAN RESERVA 2001 - DOCa Rioja, Spain (#428060) (XD) - $22.95
Blend of 80% Tempranillo, 16% Garnacha, 2% Mazuelo and 2% Graciano. Medium-to-high aromatics with oak notes leading the way followed by dark berries and floral hints. It's full-bodied with nicely balanced flavours of herbal, eucalypt, blackberry, sandalwood, and spice on the palate. Mouth-watering acidity and a very long finish that is slightly hot, but fruit holds it up well. Nicely balanced with plenty of finesse. Drink over the next 10-15 years. My favourite of the tasting. Score: 91 pts

Rioja Bordón Gran Reserva 2001 - DOCa Rioja, Spain (91 pts)

RIOJA BORDÓN GRAN RESERVA 2005 - DOCa Rioja, Spain (#428060) (D) - $22.95
Consisting of 80% Tempranillo, 10% Mazuelo, and 10% Graciano, this has a somewhat closed nose but shows ripe fruit, blackberry, sweet vanilla, barnyard and some blue fruit aromas. It's medium-to-full bodied with nice aroma replays, bright acidity and finishing long. Big, full-throttle wine. Doesn't seem to have matured much over the last 10 years. Lay this one down for 5 years and drink over the next 10-15 years. Score: 90 pts

Rioja Bordón Gran Reserva 2005 - DOCa Rioja, Spain (90 pts)

RIOJA BORDÓN GRAN RESERVA 2006 - DOCa Rioja, Spain (#428060) (XD) - $22.95
Blend of 80% Tempranillo, 10% Mazuelo and 10% Graciano and features medium+ intensity aromas of pached raspberry, kirsch, blackberry liquer, sandalwood and some earth. It's medium-to-full bodied with aromas echoing on the palate and a chalky spine. Acids are mouth-watering, while the finish is long and warm with floral hints. Will age gracefully for 10 years or more. Score: 91 pts

Rioja Bordón Gran Reserva 2006 - DOCa Rioja, Spain (91 pts)

RIOJA BORDÓN RESERVA 2007 - DOCa Rioja, Spain (#194753) (XD) - $19.95
Barnyard, earth, mushroom and sandalwood aromas from the glass. The palate is medium-to-full bodied with bright acidity with blackberry and sandalwood flavours. Chalky tannins. Excellent length on the finish. Better in 4-5 years. Score: 90+ pts

RIOJA BORDÓN RESERVA 2008 - DOCa Rioja, Spain (#194753) (XD) - $19.95
The nose somewhat reserved but shows pleasing raspberry, blackberry, sandalwood notes with an earthy streak. It's medium-bodied with nice aroma replays. Still a bit tight, but has juicy acids and a medium-long finish. Score: 89 pts

RIOJA BORDÓN RESERVA 2009 - DOCa Rioja, Spain (#194753) (XD) - $19.95
Medium+ intensity nose led by smoky oak notes with underlying raspberry and blackberry aromas. On the palate, it's medium+ bodied dark and red cherry, blackberry, and subtle oak flavours. It has very good acidity, while the tannins are still very tight, and finish length is medium-to-long. Cellar 2-3 years or decant and serve now. Score: 88 pts

Rioja Bordón Reserva 2007 - DOCa Rioja, Spain (90+ pts)Rioja Bordón Reserva 2008 - DOCa Rioja, Spain (89 pts)Rioja Bordón Reserva 2009 - DOCa Rioja, Spain (88 pts)

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

  • Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Lakeview Cellars Syrah 2012 (Niagara) - Wine Review

I first tasted this wine last September when I visited Diamond Estates Winery during the Niagara Wine Festival. Lakeview Cellars was founded in 1991 by Eddy Gurinskas and is now the oldest brand at Diamond Estates.

The 2012 vintage was exceptional for red wine grapes in Niagara, pushing quality levels up throughout the region. The grapes for Lakeview Cellars wines are sourced from Diamond Estates' best vineyards in the Niagara Region. These vineyards are kissed by Lake Ontario's offshore breeze and create a more temperate climate; this can produce superior fruit with more intense flavours and complexity.

Lakeview Cellars Syrah 2012 - VQA Niagara-on-the-Lake, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (87 pts)

Tasting Note:

LAKEVIEW CELLARS SYRAH 2012 - VQA Niagara-on-the-Lake, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $24.95
Screw cap. Medium intensity aromas of barnyard and earth with subtle hints of dark berries, black pepper and dried herbs. The palate is medium+ bodied and rounded with pleasing aroma replays. Acids are lively, with supple tannins and lengthy finish. Available only at the winery. Score: 87 pts

  • Wednesday, December 23, 2015


TAG No.5 VODKA is produced by Maverick Distillery, locally in Oakville, Ontario. They are also the maker of CHANTILLY French Cream liqueur that I tasted recently.

Maverick Distillery was launched in 2009 as an innovative Canadian distillery with a mission to deliver remarkable spirits at a reasonable price, with an eye towards environmental consciousness.

As part of their commitment to helping the environment, TAG weighs half as much as other brands and is made up of 70% recycled glass. Furthermore, the state-of-the-art process continuous distillation process uses 150% less energy than traditional pot stills.


Tasting Note:

TAG No.5 VODKA - Ontario, Canada (#149567 / #315986) (750 mL / 1.14 L) - $26.35 / $39.15
Quadruple distilled and slowly filter-polished five times through Canadian white birch charcoal. This vodka is made using premium non-GMO sweet corn and has a smoky note with a hint of citrus that follows through on the full-bodied, creamy palate. It is very smooth and finishes long and clean with a slight bitter note.

Both sizes of TAG No.5 VODKA are currently on promotion at the LCBO until early January, 2016.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

  • Sunday, December 20, 2015

Southbrook Poetica Red 2012 (Niagara) - Wine Review

The final instalment of wines from Southbrook Vineyards is the Southbrook Poetica Red from their top-of-the-line "Poetica" collection. I wrote a brief introduction about this collection of wines during my review of their 2012 Poetica Chardonnay.

Featured on the label once again is an excerpt from a lovely poem by Chief Dan George. "Words to a Grandchild" speaks to the role that nature plays and that we must listen to it.

All Poetica wines are made in tiny, small batches, and only in excellent vintages. As such, only 85 cases of this red wine were produced. Like the Chardonnay, this benchmark red wine features limited edition numbering on the bottle - making an empty bottle a definite keepsake. The bottle I have is #307 of 1,019 and definitely one I'll be hanging on to once the juice inside is long gone.

You can purchase this wine through winery on its own or as part of the Poetica Holiday Gift Package. This 6-pack of wines includes the 2012 Poetica Red, the 2010 Poetica Red, and the 2007 Poetica Cabernet Merlot, as well as one bottle each of the 2007, 2011 and 2012 Poetica Chardonnay. This gift pack is offered with a complimentary wooden crate along with free shipping. You should also know that the 2010 Poetica Red is in extremely limited supply, so you'll need to hurry to reserve your gift package. Pricing and info about a smaller Poetica Gift Package are available on Southbrook's website.

Like nearly everything that Southbrook produces, this wine is both organic and biodynamic and is suitable for vegans and vegetarians.

Southbrook Poetica Red 2012 - VQA Four Mile Creek, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (93 pts)

Tasting Note:

SOUTHBROOK POETICA RED 2012 - VQA Four Mile Creek, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#355859) (XD) - $54.95
A Bordeaux-blend consisting of 46% Cabernet Sauvignon, 26% Cabernet Franc, 26% Petit Verdot and 2% Merlot. Organic and biodynamic. Plum and wood aromas from the cork. Highly aromatic earthy, barnyard nose followed by sweet spice and dark berries. It's medium-to-full bodied with dark, brooding and refined tannins. Delicious aroma replays offer rich layers of baking spice, cassis, floral, blackberry, and sweet oak that persist through to the long, slightly warm finish that is supported by excellent fruit concentration and tannin. Acids are mouth-watering. Amazing right now, this will improve with cellar time and easily offer enjoyment over the next decade. This might just be the best Ontario red table wine I've ever tasted. Score: 93 pts

"Words to a Grandchild" - Southbrook Poetica Red 2012Bottle 0307 of 1,019 - Southbrook Poetica Red 2012

Saturday, December 19, 2015

  • Saturday, December 19, 2015

Southbrook Poetica Chardonnay 2012 (Niagara) - Wine Review

The next instalment of wines from Southbrook Vineyards features a white wine from their top-of-the-line "Poetica" collection.

Poetica wines are made only in excellent vintages. The poetry on the labels is drawn from the work of a wide cross-section of talented Canadian poets and reflects, in some way, a love theme. The wine honours the poem on the label, and the poem honours the wine in the bottle.

These wines are made mostly from tiny batches and feature limited edition numbering on the bottles - making an empty bottle somewhat of a keepsake. Only 222 cases of the 2012 Poetica Chardonnay were produced. This Chardonnay is also organic and biodynamic and suitable for vegans and vegetarians.

The Poetica Gift Package is currently available for the holidays as a 6-pack that includes the Chardonnay reviewed below, as well as the 2007 and 2011 Poetica Chardonnays, the 2007 Poetica Cabernet Merlot, and 2010 and 2012 Poetica Red. This gift pack is offered with a complimentary wooden crate along with free shipping. Furthermore, the 2010 Poetica Red is in extremely limited supply, so you'll need to hurry to reserve your gift package. Pricing and info about a smaller Poetica Gift Package are available on Southbrook's website.

Southbrook Poetica Chardonnay 2012 - VQA Four Mile Creek, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (92 pts)

Tasting Note:

SOUTHBROOK POETICA CHARDONNAY 2012 - VQA Four Mile Creek, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#366500) (XD) - $49.95
The poem on the front is a verse from "Keep a Few Embers From the Fire" by Canadian poet Chief Dan George. Bottle 348 of 2,664, this has a reductive nose of yellow pear, toasted nuts and some subtle baking spice notes. On the palate it has vibrant acidity on a honeyed flavoured profile with hints of pineapple, Golden apple, butter and vanilla. Medium-bodied with a slight oily and creamy texture. It's mouth-watering throughout, while the finish length is excellent. A special wine that should mature well over the next 5-6 years. Score: 92 pts

"Keep a Few Embers From the Fire" - Southbrook Poetica Chardonnay 2012Bottle 0348 of 2,664 of Southbrook Poetica Chardonnay 2012

Friday, December 18, 2015

  • Friday, December 18, 2015

Lakeview Cellars Cabernet Franc Icewine 2013 (Niagara) - Wine Review

Tonight's treat for the holidays is a delicious Icewine from Lakeview Cellars, a brand of Diamond Estates.

Coming from a vintage that can be best described as average and slightly wet, approximately 6,600 tonnes of Icewine and Late Harvest grapes were netted for the 2013 season. It was a large crop that equalled the record tonnage of 2007.

For the holidays, not only would this Icewine be a nice gift for someone that enjoys sweet wine, but it would also be a nice accompaniment with dessert after a nice family dinner. The 200 mL is nearly sold out in LCBO VINTAGES, while the 375 mL is available online and at the winery.

Lakeview Cellars Cabernet Franc Icewine 2013 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (89 pts)

Tasting Note:

LAKEVIEW CELLARS CABERNET FRANC ICEWINE 2013 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#053397) (S) (200 mL / 375 mL) - $29.95 / $65
Yummy strawberry jelly aromas from the cork. The nose is highly aromatic with strawberry jam, wild berry, cranberry and cherry aromas. The sweet, rounded palate is medium-bodied with rich aroma replays, delicately balanced acidity and a lengthy finish. Score: 89 pts

Monday, December 14, 2015

  • Monday, December 14, 2015

Southbrook Vidal Icewine 2014 (Niagara) - Wine Review

Tonight's end-of-dinner treat is an organic Icewine that will be released in January. If you're heading to the Icewine Festival next month, make sure to stop by Southbrook Vineyards and taste this delicious nectar.

Although there is no special Holiday Gift Package for Icewine, the beverage in and of itself would make a very special gift indeed. Having said that, you can easily bundle up the 2013 Cabernet Franc Icewine and the fully mature 2006 Vidal Icewine that was just released from the library as a lovely duo of wines for that Icewine lover in your life. Both of these Icewines are only available through the winery. Visit their website for details.

Southbrook Vidal Icewine 2014 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (90 pts)

Tasting Note:

SOUTHBROOK VIDAL ICEWINE 2014 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (S) (200 mL) - $34.95
Inviting nose of peach, honey and orange from the cork. Very appealing and highly aromatic nose of apricot preserve, peach, honey with hints of lemon and ginger. It's very sweet on the fullish palate with a somewhat syrupy mouthfeel and pleasing aroma replays. The acids provide vibrancy mid-palate, while the finish length is very good. Drink over the next 7-8 years. Score: 90 pts

Saturday, December 12, 2015

  • Saturday, December 12, 2015

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

The next post in my series of Southbrook wines is a very unique Chardonnay whose primary fermentation and malolactic conversion were indigenous - also known as "Wild Fermentation". To put it another way, the yeast used to ferment this wine was naturally occurring in the vineyard and at the winery - instead of adding inoculated yeast.

Only 6 barrels (180 cases) of this wine were produced, all from estate fruit. It spent 20 months in French oak barrels (50% new). Once again, this wine is certified organic and biodynamic and is suitable for vegans and vegetarians.

This wine is only available at the winery and is currently available as part of a lovely Holiday Gifting Estate Package. For fans of Chardonnay, this package also includes the 2013 Vosges, and the unreleased Moon Barrel, Allier and Jupilles wines. There is also a similarly packaged set of wines for Cabernet Franc aficionados. These wines are specially crafted by winemaker Ann Sperling to show the subtle differences in barrel wood. The names of these wines refer to either the forest from which the barrel wood came from, or the unique method of cooperage. Visit the Southbrook Vineyards website for more details and to place your order.

Southbrook Estate Grown Small Lot Wild Ferment Chardonnay 2013 - VQA Four Mile Creek, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (90 pts)

Tasting Note:

SOUTHBROOK ESTATE GROWN SMALL LOT WILD FERMENT CHARDONNAY 2013 - VQA Four Mile Creek, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $34.95
Ripe pear, green apple and hints of butter aromas from the cork. Elegant bouquet of coconut, pear, Golden apple, with hints of honeycomb and white flower. The palate is medium-bodied and dry with vibrant acidity and honey-tinged aromas replays. A saline note comes through mid-palate. Finishes long with mineral, honey, apple, floral and vanilla aftertaste. Some intriguing coffee notes emerge as it warms up in the glass. Lots going on in this yummy Chardonnay. Eminently drinkable now and should be better in a couple of years. Score: 90 pts

Friday, December 11, 2015

  • Friday, December 11, 2015

Toronto FOOD & WINE Festival 2015 - Review

On , I had the pleasure of attending the Toronto FOOD & WINE Festival (formerly the Delicious Food Show) that was held at Evergreen Brick Works. This 3-day festival began on Friday and showcased familiar (and some unfamiliar) local food vendors, many of which have restaurants in the city. The show also featured many local Ontairo wineries, as well as regional wine booths pouring wines from countries such as New Zealand, Chile, Spain, Portugal, and South Africa.

The show had a high-tech feel to it with wristbands and hard plastic cards digitally storing your sampling tickets - quite different from what I'm normally used to. You would load up your wristband/card with sampling tickets ($1 per sampling ticket) upon entering the show and vendors would use their device to tap your wristband/card to deduct the appropriate amount of sampling tickets. Most food & wine samples ranged from 1-5 tickets, and if you ran out of sampling tickets, you could always add more at the point of entry.

The Dirty Bird Chicken + Waffles Mini ODB
I arrived early in the afternoon, but just missed the tutored wine tasting hosted by Adamo Estate Winery, a new winery based in Hockley Valley. Thus, I headed off to the Grand Pavilion where all the food and wine was being served. Since I had just eaten lunch, I wasn't too keen on trying many foods, but as soon as I got my wine glass and headed inside, I noticed a mouth-watering piece of fried chicken resting on a waffle. It was nicely displayed at The Dirty Bird Chicken + Waffles booth. I was in complete awe as I stared at the fried piece of boneless chicken on a thick, Belgian-style waffle covered with sauce. I knew I wanted to try it and I was very happy I did. It was absolutely delicious! Further conversations with staff at the booth determined that I enjoyed a Mini ODB - a Boneless #NorthernFried 5 oz. Chicken on a Golden Buttered Maple Waffle that was topped with their Tangy In-House "Dirty" Sauce. I am marking this Kensington Market restaurant on my list of places to visit in the near future.

After enjoying the chicken + waffle, I needed something to quench my thirst. Looking at the many booths featuring wine, I quickly realized that the wines being poured were the consumer-friendly type and cautioned me to temper my expectations. Having said that, I did find a few gems that you should discover as well. Full wine reviews and tasting notes of some of the wines I enjoyed are provided below.

Pizzeria Libretto
My second delicious food stop was at Pizzeria Libretto for a spicy (by request) Montanara Deep-Fried Marinara Pizza topped with Mozzarella and Basil. This delicious "pizza" was melt-in-your-mouth light and fluffy, and really tasty. I haven't been to Libretto in a while, but hope they've added this item as an appetizer because it would make a very nice addition to their menu; I could totally foresee a wide range of offerings for this style of "pizza", including dessert options. Pizzeria Libretto did not offer wine with their pairing at the show, but at their restaurants they offer a wide range of wines (mostly from Italy), nearly all of which are available by the glass - something I've loved about this place ever since my first visit many years ago.

There were quite a few opportunities to sample some cheese as well. Free samples of the Upper Canada Niagara Gold - a semi-firm cheese made from cow's milk - were available, and tasted just as good as the first time I tried it. Also at the same cheese booth was a yummy appetizer consisting of dark berry compote and cheese that was deep fried.

Magnum Mini Double Caramel
The final treat of the day came courtesy of Magnum - where I had the opportunity to try one of their delectable mini ice cream bars. Options included Double Caramel, Double Chocolate, and the Classic. I opted for the lusciously sweet Double Caramel that had rich chocolate and caramel flavours complemented by vanilla ice cream. It was quite filling! They even gave me a gift card to redeem for a full box - awesomeness!

Overall, I really enjoyed the Toronto FOOD & WINE Festival. This is a show meant for foodies first and foremost, while also providing many complementary beverage options to wash it all down. I hope to attend this event next year on an empty stomach so I can enjoy many more of the food offerings as there were many that looked very appetizing.

Tasting Notes:

ADAMO WISMER FOXCROFT VINEYARD RIESLING 2014 - VQA Twenty Mile Bench, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (MD) - $19.95
Medium intensity nose of citrus and peach aromas. Fleshy, medium-bodied palate with orange and tropical fruit flavours. Medium-dry sweet (i.e. a little more sweeter than off-dry). Medium length finish. Score: 88 pts

Adamo Wismer Foxcroft Vineyard Riesling 2014 - VQA Twenty Mile Bench, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (88 pts)Adamo Lowrey Vineyard Pinot Noir 2013 - VQA St. David's Bench, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (91 pts)

ADAMO LOWREY VINEYARD PINOT NOIR 2013 - VQA St. David's Bench, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $33
Inviting earthy, beetroot, cherry and strawberry nose which echoes very nicely on the palate. It has soft, rounded tannins and gentle spice notes mid-palate, balanced acidity and excellent length on the finish. Well-balanced red wine. Score: 91 pts

MUSKOKA LAKES WINERY RED MAPLE CRANBERRY MAPLE 2012 - Product of Canada (#050039) (S) (375 mL) - $24.95
Inviting cranberry-maple, brown sugar liqueur aromas from the glass make you keep coming back for more. It's medium+ bodied with very sweet aroma replays. Finishes long. In VINTAGES on October 31. Score: 90 pts

Muskoka Lakes Winery Red Maple Cranberry Maple 2012 (90 pts)Stoneleigh Latitude Sauvignon Blanc 2014 - Marlborough, South Island, New Zealand (89 pts)

STONELEIGH LATITUDE SAUVIGNON BLANC 2014 - Marlborough, South Island, New Zealand (#324228) (XD) - $21.95
Medium-to-high intensity nose with grassy, cat pee, gooseberry and kiwi aromas that echo very nicely on the balanced palate. Good fruit concentration, very good acidity and finishes long. Returned to VINTAGES on October 31. Score: 89 pts

BRANCOTT ESTATE LETTER SERIES B SAUVIGNON BLANC 2014 - Marlborough, South Island, New Zealand (#278689) (XD) - $19.95
Interesting smoky, herbally and kiwi aromas that replay on the medium-bodied palate. It has balanced acidity, some mineral notes mid-palate and finishes crisp with medium-to-long length. Score: 88 pts

CARMEN GRAN RESERVA CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2011 - Maipo Alto Vineyard, Maipo Valley, Chile (#358309) (D) - $16.45
Medium+ intensity nose featuring blackberry, cassis, dark cherry, sweet spice and a hint of lead. The palate is medium-bodied with soft, dusty tannins, pleasing aroma replays with a hint of sweetness. Also hints of green pepper on the medium length finish. Score: 88 pts

QUINTA DOS MURÇAS RESERVA 2010 - DOC Douro, Portugal (#427229) (XD) - $40
Medium intensity nose consisting of ripe red & black fruits. On the palate, it's medium+ bodied with toasty oak spice and more red & black fruits. Simple, dry red wine with very good acidity and lengthy finish. Score: 88 pts

Quinta Dos Murças Reserva 2010 - DOC Douro, Portugal (88 pts)

COSME PALACIO RESERVA 2009 - DOCa Rioja, Spain (#014662) (XD) - $22.95
Exotic medium+ intensity nose of earth, spice, black and blue fruits that follows through on the medium bodied, subtle oak-spiced palate. Good balance overall with balanced acidity and a medium+ length finish. Score: 89 pts

ROSEHALL RUN THE RIGHTEOUS DUDE RIESLING 2014 - VQA Twenty Mile Bench, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#426486) (M) - $19.95
Elegant citrus, orange, melon and Flintstones vitamin aromas which replay nicely on the balanced, medium-dry palate. It's medium-bodied with crisp acidity and a lingering, minerally finish. Well done! Score: 88 pts

Rosehall Run The Righteous Dude Riesling 2014 - VQA Twenty Mile Bench, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (88 pts)Between The Lines Lemberger Reserve 2013 - VQA Four Mile Creek, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (89 pts)

BETWEEN THE LINES LEMBERGER RESERVE 2013 - VQA Four Mile Creek, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $30
Medium-to-high intensity aromas of raspberry, red currant, a hint of lavender and some minerality. Gentle tannins on a medium-bodied frame with currant, lavender and some bitterness on the palate. It has good acidity and a medium-to-long finish. Score: 89 pts

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

  • Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Southbrook Triomphe Cabernet Merlot 2014 (Niagara) - Wine Review

red wine is the second in a series of wines from Southbrook Vineyards.

The grapes for this wine come from the Saunders Vineyard in Niagara. Fermentation took place in stainless steel tanks and ageing occurred in neutral oak barrels. This wine is certified organic and suitable for vegans and vegetarians.

Currently available as part of the Triomphe Gift Package that also includes two other Southbrook Triomphe wines, a bottle of Southbrook Preserve Chardonnay Vinegar, and a copy of the Ontario Table Cookbook that features 109 recipes using local ingredients.

Tasting Note:

SOUTHBROOK TRIOMPHE CABERNET MERLOT 2014 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $22.95
Capped with a Stelvin closure, this relatively unique blend of 69% Cabernet Franc and 31% Merlot is an organic red wine with medium+ intensity aromas of raspberry, black cherry, licorice, and sweet tobacco. Some earthy and stewed fruit notes arrive later. Essentially dry aroma replays on the medium+ bodied palate with sandalwood and chocolate notes arriving mid-palate add complexity. Acids are fresh, while tannins are light and gritty. Finishes long and earthy. Enjoy over the next 3-4 years. This will go great with lamb and buffalo mozzarella pizza (recipe provided below). Score: 88 pts

Recipe: Lamb Meatballs, Red Wine Braised Shallots and Buffalo Mozzarella Pizza

Pizza Crust:
  • K2
  • Red Fife 60%
  • 3 Star Canadian Flour 40% (This flour is comparable to the Tippo ‘00’)
  • Salt 3%
  • Bioflavia 3% (dry yeast if used instead will also be 3%)
  • Cool water 63%
  • 250 mL of Southbrook Wine
  1. Mix all of the ingredients except for the wine by hand for about 4 to 5 minutes or in a mixer on a lower speed for about two minutes. You do not want to over develop the gluten or each pizza will always shrink on you. After mixing the dough, drink the wine as your reward. You just made pizza dough from scratch!
  2. Let the dough stand overnight, preferably in the pre-weighed balls. The typical individual pizza is about 140 g. The easiest ratio is to work with 1000 g of flour and do the percentages back from that. You will get about 10 individual pizzas.
  3. Pull dough out 1 hour before rolling. If you don’t have a pizza oven, put your stove to 450°F and fill a small pot or pan with water and place on the bottom of the oven. Keep the dough nice and thin with a little corn meal on the bottom so it does not stick to the tray.

Pizza Sauce Pomodoro:
  • 1 large 3.5 L can of quality whole tomatoes
  • 5 mL of sea salt per litre of canned tomatoes
  • 1/2 bunch of basil (optional)
  1. Pass the whole tomatoes through a food mill and bring to a slow simmer for about 2 hours.
  2. When finished throw in salt a few leaves of basil.

Red Wine Braised Shallots:
  • 2 lbs shallots
  • 250 mL Southbrook Triomph Cabernet Franc
  • 250 mL dark chicken stock
  • 3 tbsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp fennel
  • 1/4 tsp chilli
  • Pinch of salt and pepper
  1. Peel shallots and cover half way with red wine and dark chicken stock.
  2. Add a pinch of salt and pepper, some sugar, dried chili and fennel.
  3. Cover with tin foil and cook at 250°F for about two hours and remove the foil.
  4. Keep cooking until they take on a nice caramel colour.
  5. Make a lot at a time and just place them in the fridge.
  6. Take two of the shallots and slice for the pizza

Lamb Meatballs:
  1. Add chopped thyme, rosemary and parsley with a splash of 10% cream to ground lamb.
  2. Roll meat balls at a size of about 40 g.
  3. Cook for approximately 25 minutes at 325°F.

To Assemble Pizza:
To build the pizza, roll out the dough to create a thin layer and place on a tray with corn meal sprinkled on it to avoid sticking. Ladle on a thin layer of pomodoro sauce, add three sliced meatballs, two shallots, and 60 g of torn buffalo mozzarella cheese, and then sprinkle charred garlic scapes.

Monday, December 7, 2015

  • Monday, December 7, 2015

December 12 VINTAGES Release: Wines for Holiday Feasts + Sparkling Wine

LCBO Wine Picks from December 12, 2015 VINTAGES Release
The final release of new wines for the year will be the December 12 VINTAGES Release and be on shelves this coming . The major theme of this release focuses on fine wines for holiday feasts. Since this is the final release of 2015, this release also features quite a few Champagne and Sparkling Wines for ringing in the New Year.

There are 27 wines featured in the "wines for holiday feasts" thematic and 4 are included among my wine picks. Begin the feast with something off-dry (i.e. slightly sweet) such as the Tawse Sparkling Riesling. In white wines, the Lugana has a hint of sweetnes and is made with Trebbiano di Lugana (a.k.a. Verdicchio), while the Fumé Blanc is a locally made Sauvignon Blanc that is barrel-fermented in oak barrels. To finish off your holiday feast is a 10-year-old Tawny Port that is sourced from old vines.

A small selection of Champagne is featured in this release for toasting in the New Year, of which only one Champagne made my list of wine picks. That single sparkler is the dry Grand Cru Champagne from Henri Giraud which is a blend of 70% Pinot Noir and 30% Chardonnay. Fortunately, there are quite a few other delightful (and more affordable) sparkling wines offered in this release, such as the Tawse Sparkling Riesling mentioned above. Other options include slightly sweet sparkling wines from Henry of Pelham (100% Chardonnay) and Louis Bouillot (Chardonnay-based blend). Lastly, there is a bone-dry sparkling wine from Lombardy, Italy that is made with 75% Chardonnay, 15% Pinot Nero and 10% Pinot Bianco.

Among red wines, there are plenty of options in this release, including the organic 85/15 Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot blend from Emiliana. At 10 years old, the Spanish red wine is nicely aged for you and made using 60% Garnacha, 30% Tempranillo, and 10% Carinena, while somewhat younger is the Sicilian red wine that is a blend of 90% Nero d'Avola and 10% Cab Sauv. The Portuguese red is a blend of traditional indigenous varietals Touriga Nacional, Alfrocheiro, and Tinta Roriz. Lastly, the Barbaresco is 100% Nebbiolo.

For sweet wine lovers, look for the Gewürztraminer from either Germany or France, or the Tokaji from Hungary.

Enjoy my wine recommendations over the holidays!

Red Wine:

  • EMILIANA NOVAS GRAN RESERVA CABERNET SAUVIGNON/MERLOT 2013 - Maipo Valley, Chile (#437947) (XD) - $15.95
  • MONASTERIO DE LAS VIÑAS GRAN RESERVA 2005 - DOP Cariñena, Spain (#082024) (XD) - $16.95
  • LORNANO CHIANTI CLASSICO 2011 - DOCG, Tuscany, Italy (#211599) (D) - $17.95
  • CABRIZ RESERVA 2012 - DOC Dão, Portugal (#021410) (XD) - $17.95
  • ORESTIADI LUDOVICO 2009 - IGT Rosso Sicilia, Italy (#388645) (D) - $19.95  reviewed here
  • DOMAINE KARYDAS XINOMAVRO 2010 - PDO Naoussa, Greece (#272013) (XD) - $25.95
  • BAROSSA VALLEY ESTATE EBENEZER SHIRAZ 2008 - Barossa Valley, South Australia (#971705) (D) - $39.95
  • CATENA ALTA MALBEC 2012 - Mendoza, Argentina (#982355) (D) - $49.95  reviewed here
  • STONESTREET CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2012 - Alexander Valley, Sonoma County, California, USA (#435099) (XD) - $52.95
  • PUNSET BARBARESCO 2010 - DOCG, Piedmont, Italy (#302786) (XD) - $55.95  FSE
  • CHÂTEAU LA CROIX DU CASSE 2010 - AC Pomerol, Bordeaux, France (#436097) (XD) - $59.95
Catena Alta Malbec 2012 - Mendoza, Argentina (91 pts)Orestiadi Ludovico 2009 - IGT Rosso Sicilia, Italy (89 pts)

White Wine:

  • ZENATO SAN BENEDETTO LUGANA 2014 - DOC, Veneto, Italy (#707158) (D) - $16.95
  • RUPPERTSBERGER LINSENBUSCH GEWÜRZTRAMINER SPÄTLESE 2014 - Prädikatswein, Pfalz, Germany (#320473) (S) - $17.95  reviewed here
  • WYNNS COONAWARRA ESTATE CHARDONNAY 2014 - Coonawarra, South Australia (#468728) (XD) - $17.95
  • WITHER HILLS SAUVIGNON BLANC 2014 - Wairau Valley, Marlborough, South Island, New Zealand (#919514) (D) - $19.95
  • DOMAINE ZINCK PINOT BLANC 2014 - AC Alsace, France (#435040) (XD) - $19.95
  • MOUNTADAM ESTATE CHARDONNAY 2013 - High Eden, Eden Valley, South Australia (#333211) (XD) - $23.95
  • PIERRE SPARR MAMBOURG GEWURZTRAMINER 2013 - AC Alsace Grand Cru, France (#915157) (MS) - $24.95
  • HIDDEN BENCH FUMÉ BLANC 2013 - Rosomel Vineyard, VQA Beamsville Bench, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#068825) (XD) - $27.95
  • DOMAINE HAMELIN BEAUROY CHABLIS 1 ER CRU 2012 - AC, Burgundy, France (#391805) (XD) - $33.95  reviewed here
  • JERMANN CHARDONNAY 2014 - IGT Venezia Giulia, Friuli, Italy (#429902) (XD) - $34.95
  • CHÂTEAU DERESZLA 5 PUTTONYOS TOKAJI ASZÚ 2008 - Hungary (#012203) (S) (500 mL) - $45.95
Domaine Hamelin Beauroy Chablis 1er Cru 2012 - AC, Burgundy, France (91 pts)Ruppertsberger Linsenbusch Gewürztraminer Spätlese 2014 - Prädikatswein, Pfalz, Germany (88 pts)

Sparkling Wine:

  • LOUIS BOUILLOT PERLE D’IVOIRE BRUT BLANC DE BLANCS CRÉMANT DE BOURGOGNE - Méthode Traditionnelle, AC, Burgundy, France (#048801) (D) - $19.95
  • TAWSE SPARK LIMESTONE RIDGE SPARKLING RIESLING 2013 - VQA Twenty Mile Bench, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#370361) (D) - $19.95  reviewed here
  • CA’ DEL BOSCO CUVÉE PRESTIGE BRUT FRANCIACORTA - DOCG, Lombardy, Italy (#105353) (XD) - $39.95
  • HENRY OF PELHAM CUVÉE CATHARINE CARTE BLANCHE ESTATE BLANC DE BLANC 2010 - Méthode Traditionnelle, VQA Short Hills Bench, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#315200) (D) - $44.95


  • BURMESTER 10-YEAR-OLD TAWNY PORT - DOP, Portugal (#223958) (S) - $28.95

Saturday, December 5, 2015

  • Saturday, December 5, 2015

Southbrook Connect Organic White 2014 (Ontario) - Wine Review

white wine is a blend of 4 varietals and is certified organic. It is also suitable for vegans and vegetarians.

Produced by Southbrook Vineyards, this organic white wine is currently available in a gift package directly from the winery that includes the 2014 Connect Red and a jar each of the Southbrook Preserves Raspberry Jam with Framboise and the Southbrook Chardonnay Mustard. Details and other holiday gifting ideas from Southbrook are available on their website.

Tasting Note:

SOUTHBROOK CONNECT ORGANIC WHITE 2014 - VQA Ontario, Canada (#249078) (D) - $15.95
Interesting blend of 58% Vidal, 21% Chardonnay, 12% Riesling, and 9% Sauvignon Blanc capped with a Stelvin closure. Perfumed nose of melon, peach, and clementine. The palate is soft and round with honeydew and citrus flavours that are slightly sweet. Fleshy in style with balanced acidity and some honeyed sweetness flavours that linger through to the medium-length finish. Crafted in an easy drinking, crowd pleasing style, this will be fine to sip on its own or pair with poultry or seafood dishes. Available at the LCBO. Score: 86 pts

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

  • Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Pillitteri Cabernet Franc 2012 (Niagara) - Wine Review

Tonight's wine is from Pillitteri Estates Winery and is only available at the winery (or online) through their website.

This red wine hails from the great 2012 Niagara vintage and it shows in the quality. This is a wine that you want to buy a few bottles of and watch it develop and mature over the years. It has very good ageing potential.

Pillitteri Cabernet Franc 2012 - VQA Niagara-on-the-lake, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (88+ pts)

Tasting Note:

PILLITTERI CABERNET FRANC 2012 - VQA Niagara-on-the-Lake, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $23.20
Aromas of plums and raisins from the cork. Aged in French oak barrels for 19 months, this Cabernet Franc has a pleasing nose of ripe red berry mixed with herbs and scorched earth. Whiffs of cassis, currant, cigar, and raspberry also come through as it warms up in the glass. The palate is medium-to-full bodied with fresh acids and astringent, mouth-coating tannins that need time to integrate. Mocha, coffee, dark berry and earthy flavours round out the long finish. Enjoy now with red meats or cellar for 2-3 years. Score: 88+ pts

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

  • Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Delas Frères Les Launes Crozes-Hermitage 2009 (Rhône) - Wine Review

This gorgeous, savoury red wine was enjoyed night with homemade Chicken curry. It was purchased nearly 3 years ago from the March 3, 2012 VINTAGES Release.

If you still have this Syrah in your possession, you can enjoy it over the 2-3 years.

Delas Frères Les Launes Crozes-Hermitage 2009 - AC, Rhône, France (90 pts)

Tasting Note:

DELAS FRÈRES LES LAUNES CROZES-HERMITAGE 2009 - AC, Rhône, France (#701359) (XD) - $20.95
Spice and twig aromas from the cork. This Syrah has fine mature savoury notes of earth, forest floor, potpourri, tobacco leaf, and blackberry aromas that follow through on the smooth, full-bodied palate. Slightly tart cherry notes mid-palate. Tannins have integrated very well, while the acids are juicy and balanced. Black pepper notes linger on the long finish. Enjoy over the next 2-3 years. A joy to drink. Score: 90 pts

Sunday, November 29, 2015

  • Sunday, November 29, 2015

Domaine Hamelin Beauroy Chablis 1er Cru 2012 (Burgundy) - Wine Review

wine is this yummy unoaked Chardonnay from Burgundy, France.

Domaine Hamelin was started in the 1840's by Gustave Hamelin when he planted 2 hectares of vines alongside his mixed farm. It is located in northwest Burgundy and about 2 hours southeast from Paris. The small, family-owned operation had been passed along from generation to generation. Today, the 6th and 7th generation of the family carry on the family's wine growing tradition that is a mix of old traditions and modern-day techniques from more than 36 hectares of vines from the villages of Poinchy, Beines and Lignorelles.

The vineyards, all Chardonnay, are planted on soil that is 150 million years old, from the Kimméridgien era of the Jurassic period. During this period, Burgundy was under the sea and has now left behind many remains in the rock such as small oysters and ammonites. Thierry and his son Charles strive to produce Chablis wines that are true expressions of place or terroir.

This delicious white wine will be available at the LCBO as part of the upcoming December 12 VINTAGES Release.

Domaine Hamelin Beauroy Chablis 1er Cru 2012 - AC, Burgundy, France (91 pts)

Tasting Note:

DOMAINE HAMELIN BEAUROY CHABLIS 1ER CRU 2012 - AC, Burgundy, France (#391805) (XD) - $33.95
Harvested from an area of 3.9 ha, located on south-facing slopes, opposite Lake Beines. Stone fruit, citrus and saline aromas from the cork. Elegant nose of medium+ intensity featuring tropical fruit, lemon peel, cilantro and stony minerality. The palate is medium-bodied with finely cut acids. Lemon citrus, herbs, and mineral flavour profile with some saline notes mid-palate. Shows excellent balance and finishes long and clean with minerally aftertaste. Mouth-watering acids keep you coming back for another sip. Score: 91 pts

Thursday, November 26, 2015

  • Thursday, November 26, 2015

Château Guillou 2012 (Bordeaux) - Wine Review

wine is part of the November 28, 2015 VINTAGES Release and is most likely already available for purchase on some LCBO shelves.

From the same producer as the 2011 Château Hauchat red wine that I tasted earlier this month, this Jean-Bernard Saby wine is produced by the 9th generation of the Saby family. Jean-Christophe and Jean-Phillippe are both oenologists and apply their new skills, as well as respecting the traditions and know-how of their father and grandfather in producing the wines at this estate.

Château Guillou 2012 - AC Montagne Saint-Émilion, Bordeaux, France (87 pts)

Tasting Note:

CHÂTEAU GUILLOU 2012 - AC Montagne Saint-Émilion, Bordeaux, France (#140483) (XD) - $18.95
Blend of 80% Merlot and 20% Cabernet Franc. Dried spice, oak and whiff of plum from the cork.  Medium intensity herbally, spice, black currant, dark cherry, and some earthy characters on the nose. The palate is light-to-medium bodied with gritty, astringent tannins. Raspberry and dusty cocoa flavours join the aroma profile on the palate. Acids are fresh and juicy, while the finish length is good. Has a mineral/steely aftertaste. Perfectly fine for a Thursday night. Score: 87 pts

Monday, November 23, 2015

  • Monday, November 23, 2015

Jean-Max Roger Cuvée G.C. Sancerre 2014 (Loire) - Wine Review

Opened up this excellent white wine from Jean-Max Roger ahead of it's release in VINTAGES this Saturday, November 28th.

The Roger family descends from a long line of winegrowers from the village of Bué, dating back to the 17th century. In the early 1970's, Jean-Max Roger took over the 4 ha of vines left to him by his parents and expanded the estate to its current size of 26 ha. It is very much a family estate as two of his three sons joined him at the estate in 2004.

The grapes for this wine come mostly from a lieu-dit called "Le Grand Chemarin" - hence the name Cuvée G.C. - one of the most famous vineyards in the village of Bué. Soil characteristics include stony, clay-limestone based soils known as "caillotes", on slopes with a south-eastern exposure. Wines from this area tend to be elegant and show great finesse.

Jean-Max Roger Cuvée G.C. Sancerre 2014 - AC, Loire, France (91 pts)

Tasting Note:

JEAN-MAX ROGER CUVÉE G.C. SANCERRE 2014 - AC, Loire, France (#189126) (XD) - $28.95
100% Sauvignon Blanc. White flowers and lime aromas from the cork. Lovely nose of ripe Mirabelle plum, fresh white flowers and citrus notes. Aromas echo on the finely balanced palate, with notes of lime and gooseberry coming through as it warms up. The vibrant, fine seam of acidity is available from start to finish. Long finish ends slightly creamy with some saline notes. Excellent stuff. Score: 91 pts

  • Monday, November 23, 2015

November 28 VINTAGES Release: Finest Wines for the Holidays

LCBO Wine Picks from November 28, 2015 VINTAGES Release
The November 28 VINTAGES Release will be on LCBO VINTAGES shelves this coming Saturday and features as it's main and only theme very fine wines and spirits for the holidays. The selection includes many fine wines at very high price points - wines suitable as expensive gifts or for extremely special occasions.

Of the 28 wines and spirits featured as part of this mono-thematic release, 9 are included among my wine picks. Brace yourself, as the least expensive of the nine wines costs $89.95 - it's the Châteauneuf-du-Pape consisting of Cinsault, Counoise, Grenache, Mourvèdre and Syrah, and the Barossa Valley Shiraz.

Six of the wines I've recommended begin at $159.95 and go all the way up to almost $300. The iconic wines in this group include Cabernet Sauvignon's from Silver Oak (84% Cabernet Sauvignon, 13% Merlot, 2% Petit Verdot and 1% Cabernet Franc) and Chateau Montelena. The Joseph Phelps Insignia is a blend of 75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Petit Verdot, 10% Merlot, 3% Malbec and 2% Cabernet Franc. From the two Bolgheri wineries in Italy, the Ornellaia consists of 56% Cabernet Sauvignon, 27% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc and 7% Petit Verdot, while the Sassicaia consists of 85% Cabernet Sauvignon and 15% Cabernet Franc. Lastly, the Solaia contains 75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Sangiovese, and 5% Cabernet Franc. Perhaps it's no surprise that all of these fine wines have a fairly strong Cabernet Sauvignon component and can be aged for many years.

Antinori Solaia 2011 - IGT Toscana, Italy (93 pts)

The only white wine among my wine recommendations from the mono-thematic is the Kistler Chardonnay.

From the rest of the release, the M. Chapoutier wine is a blend of Syrah, Grenache and Carignan, while the Lungarotti is 90% Sangiovese and 10% Colorino. The In Situ blend from Chile has 50% Syrah, 45% Mourvedre and 5% Viognier.

In white wines, the Greek wine is made with the Roditis grape, the Donnachiara is made with Greco di Tufo, the Montagny is Chardonnay, and lastly, the Sancerre is 100% Sauvignon Blanc.

Enjoy my wine picks for this week. Cheers!

Red Wine:

  • LUNGAROTTI RUBESCO SANGIOVESE/COLORINO 2012 - DOC Rosso di Torgiano, Umbria, Italy (#368548) (XD) - $17.95
  • CONCHA Y TORO MARQUÉS DE CASA CONCHA SYRAH 2012 - Buin, Maipo Valley, Chile (#019042) (XD) - $19.95  reviewed here
  • SUSANA BALBO SIGNATURE MALBEC 2013 - Uco Valley, Mendoza, Argentina (#079798) (D) - $19.95
  • IN SITU SIGNATURE WINES HILLSIDE BLEND 2012 - Aconcagua Valley, Chile (#431098) (XD) - $19.95
  • SIEGEL SINGLE VINEYARD LOS LINGUES CARMENÈRE 2012 - Colchagua Valley, Chile (#431072) (XD) - $19.95  reviewed here
Concha Y Toro Marqués de Casa Concha Syrah 2012 - Buin, Maipo Valley, Chile (88 pts)Siegel Single Vineyard Los Lingues Carmenère 2012 - Colchagua Valley, Chile (89 pts)

  • CHAPELLE DE POTENSAC 2010 - AC Médoc, Bordeaux, France (#434761) (XD) - $29.95
  • L’EXPRESSON DE MARGAUX 2010 - AC Margaux, Bordeaux, France (#431734) (XD) - $33.95
  • CHÂTEAU DE BEAUCASTEL CHÂTEAUNEUF-DU-PAPE 2013 - AC, Rhône, France (#711317) (D) - $89.95
  • BAROSSA VALLEY ESTATE E&E BLACK PEPPER SHIRAZ 2008 - Barossa Valley, South Australia (#731620) (XD) - $89.95
  • SILVER OAK CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2010 - Napa Valley, California, USA (#936039) (D) - $159.95
  • CHATEAU MONTELENA ESTATE CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2011 - Calistoga, Napa Valley, California, USA (#709881) (XD) - $187.95
  • ORNELLAIA 2012 - DOC Bolgheri Superiore, Tuscany, Italy (#382051 / #722470 / #382515) (D) (375 mL / 750 mL / 1500 mL) $103.95 / $195.95 / $465.95
  • SASSICAIA 2012 - DOC Bolgheri Sassicaia, Tuscany, Italy (#480533) (D) - $199.95
  • ANTINORI SOLAIA 2011 - IGT Toscana, Italy (#987586) (XD) - $249.95  reviewed here
  • JOSEPH PHELPS INSIGNIA 2012 - Napa Valley, California, USA (#710400) (D) - $299.95

White Wine:

  • GIANNIKOS AT SEA RODITIS 2014 - Product of Organic Farming, Peloponnese, Greece (#431684) (D) - $17.95
  • DELHEIM FAMILY CHENIN BLANC 2014 - WO Stellenbosch, South Africa (#429720) (XD) - $17.95
  • DONNACHIARA GRECO DI TUFO 2013 - DOCG, Campania, Italy (#262964) (XD) - $17.95
  • HENRY OF PELHAM ESTATE CHARDONNAY 2013 - VQA Short Hills Bench, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#268342) (XD) - $19.95
  • VIGNERONS DE BUXY BUISSONNIER MONTAGNY 2013 - AC, Burgundy, France (#382879) (XD) - $19.95
  • LETH BRUNNTHAL 1ÖWT GRÜNER VELTLINER 2013 - Qualitätswein, Fels am Wagram, Austria (#012278) (XD) - $24.95
  • JEAN-MAX ROGER CUVÉE G.C. SANCERRE 2014 - AC, Loire, France (#189126) (XD) - $28.95  reviewed here
  • SPY VALLEY ENVOY SAUVIGNON BLANC 2013 - Waihopai Valley, Marlborough, South Island, New Zealand (#429308) (XD) - $29.95
  • KÜNSTLER HOCHHEIMER STIELWEG OLD VINES RIESLING TROCKEN 2013 - Qualitätswein, Rheingau, Germany (#425041) (XD) - $42.95  FSE
  • KISTLER LES NOISETIERS CHARDONNAY 2013 - Sonoma Coast, California, USA (#251223) (XD) - $99.95
Jean-Max Roger Cuvée G.C. Sancerre 2014 - AC, Loire, France (91 pts)

Rosé Wine:

  • MIRAVAL ROSÉ 2014 - AP Côtes de Provence, France (#342584) (XD) - $22.95

Sparkling Wine:

  • BAILLY LAPIERRE RÉSERVE BRUT CRÉMANT DE BOURGOGNE - Méthode Traditionnelle, AC, Burgundy, France (#991562) (D) - $19.95

Dessert Wine:

  • CAVE SPRING INDIAN SUMMER SELECT LATE HARVEST RIESLING 2013 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#415901) (S) (375 mL) - $24.95


  • CHÂTEAU DE LAUBADE BAS XO ARMAGNAC - AC, France (#055830) (700 mL) - $99.95
Château de Laubade Bas XO Armagnac - AC, France

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