Saturday, December 31, 2016

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  • Saturday, December 31, 2016

Closson Chase Vineyard Chardonnay 2014 (Ontario) - Wine Review (Bottle 1)

wine to ring in the is this wonderful Prince Edward County Chardonnay that I recently ordered through the VINI wine app that's available for iOS and Android. The selection of wines available in the app is rather small, but features high-quality wines that are somewhat hard to find. At the time of this post, I see there is a good list of wines from Ontario and the rest of the globe. The app was easy-to-use and placing an order was quick and seamless; the wine also arrived in short order.

This Ontario Chardonnay wine was released into VINTAGES on , and is not surprisingly sold out at the LCBO. However, it is still available through VINI. Since I have a case of this yummy white wine, I'll be very curious to see how it develops over the next few years. I'll be posting tasting notes as each bottle gets opened, so keep an eye out on this blog to see how this Chardonnay matures and changes over time.

Closson Chase Vineyard Chardonnay 2014 (91 ps)

Tasting Note:

CLOSSON CHASE VINEYARD CHARDONNAY 2014 - VQA Prince Edward County, Ontario, Canada (#148866) (XD) - $28.95
Subtle vanilla-honey aromatics from the noticeably short cork. Medium-high aromatics on the nose with smoky buttered popcorn, lemon, apple, vanilla and a touch reductive. Complex aroma replays on the smooth, medium-bodied palate, and slightly nutty and mineral notes, Juicy, well-balanced acids and a nice mineral texture. The finish is long and fine with hints of coffee flavours. Score: 91 pts

Monday, December 26, 2016

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  • Monday, December 26, 2016

Menguante Selección Garnacha 2012 (Spain) - Wine Review

wine was a parting gift I received after the Garnacha Day tasting in .

It is produced by Viñedos y Bodegas Pablo, a family-owned winery located in Almonacid de la Sierra, Zaragoza, in northeastern Spain. The winery dates back to the 18th century, but the winemaking traditions of this family go back even further - to 1760.

The fascinating story begins with the founder, Antonio Hernández, making grapes into wine in the underground cellar that was dug by hand and is the site where the current cellar is found today. The wine caves still exist today and previously used to house large wooden vats with capacities between 5,000 to 6,000 Litres. These vats were so large that they had to be built inside the caves. The winery has since been pulsating along, growing and modernizing itself in the process, while still maintaining the family's roots.

This red wine was released earlier this year into VINTAGES on and small quantities are still available throughout the province of Ontario.

Menguante Selección Garnacha 2012 (88 pts)

Tasting Note:

MENGUANTE SELECCIÓN GARNACHA 2012 - DOP Cariñena, Spain (#313833) (XD) - $16.95
8 months in barrel. Ripe red plum and cherry, plus raisiny aromas from the cork. Charmingly rustic with medium-high intensity aromas of raspberry, cranberry, cherry with graphite/lead elements and some woody notes. The palate is medium-bodied with supple tannins and subtly oak-influenced flavours cherry, cranberry, red currant and Mediterranean herbs. Acids are lively and juicy. Earth and wood notes linger on the long finish. Drink over the next 2-3 years. Good value. Score: 88 pts

Sunday, December 25, 2016

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  • Sunday, December 25, 2016

Abbazia di Novacella Müller-Thurgau 2014 (Italy) - Wine Review

wine is more suitable for summer time drinking rather than a dinner in winter. Nevertheless, this is what's in my glass tonight.

This white wine was purchased in the summer from the VINTAGES Release and, surprisingly, a few bottles are still available at the LCBO.

Abbazia di Novacella Müller-Thurgau 2014 (89 pts)

Tasting Note:

ABBAZIA DI NOVACELLA MÜLLER-THURGAU 2014 - DOC Valle Isarco Alto Adige, Italy (#452557) (XD) - $19.95
Springtime floral and citrus aromas from the cork. More spring flower and lemon citrus aromas along with some earthy mineral and herbal notions of medium+ intensity. Very mineral and salty on the medium-bodied palate with citrus, spring flower and stone fruit flavours. Lemony acids are fresh and juicy. A crunchy mouthfeel and nicely textured. The finish length is very good to excellent. Score: 89 pts

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

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  • Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Niagara Wine Festival Review 2016 - Day 1 of 2

The of my 2-day visit to Niagara for the annual Grape & Wine Festival was on . We visited 4 wineries on this day, two in Twenty Valley and two in Niagara-on-the-Lake.

Our first stop was at Magnotta Winery to whet our appetite with a fresh Caprese Salad that was paired with 2 wines - 2015 Magnotta Pinot Noir Equus Rosé ($9.95, 87 pts) and the 2014 Magnotta Pinot Gris Special Reserve ($12.95, 86 pts). The Caprese salad was delicious with it's fresh bonnacini, cherry tomatoes, and basil with a freshly baked foccaccia bread and drizzled with balsamic wine vinegar and olive oil on the side. Since some group members were not keen on this type of salad, the rest of us got extras! The pairing was quite good with each wine as the fresh acidity in the wines complemented the acids in the salad, while also adding a nice texture. In general, salads pair well with both rosé and white wines.

Caprese Salad paired with Magnotta Pinot Noir Rosé and Pinot GrisLegends Terroir Rosé paired with Chocolate Ice Cream with Raspberry Center

The second stop was a decadent dessert item at Legends Estates Winery where we enjoyed a creamy chocolate ice cream with a raspberry ice center, sitting atop a chocolate wafer, and the whole thing covered in a milk chocolate coating. It was paired with the newly released 2015 Legends Estates Terroir Rosé ($12.95, 86 pts). Normally, one wouldn't even think of pairing a rosé wine with ice cream, so I was surprised to see this being offered and was quite intrigued. The ice cream was cold and sweet (as expected), and the raspberry center provided some interesting fruit flavours. Initially, the raspberry center gently pulled out plenty of cherry, strawberry flavours from the wine, but with each spoon and sip, the raspberry center took over the palate. To help balance this, it was the milk chocolate coating that brought all the flavours back in alignment, with a nice lingering mix of red fruits and chocolate flavours, as well as a creaminess that helped balanced the high acids in the wine. This was quite the experience!

While at Legends Estates, I was also able to taste a couple of wines from (former winemaker at Lailey Vineyards) Derek Barnett's latest endeavour - Meldville Wines. The wines on the whole were satisfactory, including a Chardonnay that was my favourite, but I would wager that future vintages will be better.

Green Curry Chicken on Morrocan Bean Salad paired with EastDell Riesling

We headed over to Niagara-on-the-Lake for our third stop at Diamond Estates Winery. On the menu here was a Green Curry Chicken served on a bed of Morrocan bean salad courtesy of Chef James from The Heat is On Catering. It was paired with the 2015 EastDell Riesling (reviewed below). The dish was designed to be served cold and didn't show any signs of hot spices, which caught us by surprise. The pairing was fresh and brought out squeaky clean lemony flavours. After some time, subtle hints of spice from the chicken started to emerge and provided a nice warming sensation on the finish which was very interesting! We also took a quick tour of the winery and were told that a brand new retail tasting facility was going to be built and scheduled to open in Spring 2017.

Chicken Tikka Naan with Pillitteri Cabernet Merlot

The final stop of the day was at Pillitteri Estates Winery for a South East Asian inspired Spicy Chicken Tikka Roti Wrap topped with sprouts and pickled kachumber and raita. We had a choice to pair with either the 2014 Pillitteri Fusion Gewürztraminer Riesling ($12.95, #349126, 87 pts) or the 2013 Pillitteri Cabernet Merlot ($17.50, 86 pts) - I opted for the Cab Merlot. By itself, the Chicken Tikka Roti (more like Naan) Wrap was delicious - just the right amount of mild spice and flavour and very filling. I would love to get my hands on the recipe for Chez Megz. Since I opted to pair the Wrap with the Cabernet Merlot, it was a very balanced pairing with the tannins and gamey-ness in the wine complementing the chicken very nicely. This was a delicious comfort food pairing, providing a perfect segue into Fall.

Most of the wines I tasted during this trip are available at the winery only, so you'll have to visit the winery in person or order the wines online via the winery website to get your hands on these wines.

All-in-all, I was very impressed with the food & wine pairings on this day, with plenty of surprising combinations that worked really well. Expectations were certainly raised as I prepared for another set of food & wine pairings - a full review will be posted soon. Stay tuned. is posted here.

Tasting Notes:

MAGNOTTA CHARDONNAY LIMITED EDITION 2014 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $16.95
The medium-high intensity nose offers appealing vanilla, butter, apple and pear aromas with much of the same on the medium-bodied and very creamy palate. There's some spice on the mid-palate. It has fresh acids and finishes long. Score: 88 pts

Magnotta Chardonnay Limited Edition 2014 (88 pts)Magnotta Merlot Gran Riserva 2011 (89 pts)

MAGNOTTA MERLOT GRAN RISERVA 2011 - Ontario, Canada (XD) - $29.95
Medium-high aromatics offering black plum, chocolate, leather, oak, cocoa and hints of green pepper. It's medium-full bodied with supple tannins and nice aroma replays. Acids are very good while the finish is long. A big wine that can be aged for at least half a dozen years. Score: 89 pts

LEGENDS ESTATES CHARDONNAY RESERVE 2013 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $18.95
Aromas of medium+ intensity with notes of vanilla, butter, apple and pear and reappear on the medium-full bodied palate. Well-balanced overall with good acidity, slightly oak-spiced mid-palate and finishing long. Score: 89+ pts

Legends Estates Chardonnay Reserve 2013 (89+ pts)Legends Estates Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve 2012 (89 pts)

LEGENDS ESTATES CABERNET SAUVIGNON RESERVE 2012 - Lizak Vineyard, VQA Lincoln Lakeshore, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $22.10
A medium-high intensity nose with savoury olive, earthy, forest floor and meaty aromas. Full bodied on the palate with green pepper, olive, earthy tones. It has balanced acids and tannins that are smooth and quite evolved. Very good length on the finish. Score: 89 pts

MELDVILLE DEREK BARNETT FIRST EDITION CHARDONNAY 2015 - VQA Lincoln Lakeshore, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $20
Very fruit forward with stone fruit, apple and pear aromas and flavours. Minimal oak intervention. Clean, fresh acids and good length on the finish. Score: 87 pts

Meldville Derek Barnett First Edition Chardonnay 2015 (87 pts)EastDell Riesling 2015 (87 pts)

EASTDELL RIESLING 2015 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#481556) (M) - $13.95
Medium+ intensity nose of green apple, tropical fruit, white peach and hints of mineral and orange. It is off-dry with crisp, refreshing acids and flavours of orange, mineral and citrus. Finishes long with some bitterness. Score: 87 pts

LAKEVIEW CELLARS SYRAH 2013 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#438408) (XD) - $24.95
The nose is medium-to-high intensity and offers a pleasing meaty, earthy, and charcuterie aromas with hints of black pepper and green olive. It's full-bodied on the palate with varietal black peppercorn, blackberry, dark fruits and oak flavours. Acids are very good. Lengthy finish. Score: 89 pts

Lakeview Cellars Syrah 2013 (89 pts)

LAKEVIEW CELLARS GEWÜRZTRAMINER ICEWINE 2013 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (S) (375 mL) - $39.95
Tasted back-to-back with the 2012, this has a fragrant nose of fresh guava, molasses, honey, and orange, and floral aromas. The palate is quite dense with good fruit concentration and a viscous mouthfeel. Acids balance the lusciously sweet flavours. Excellent length on the finish. Score: 90+ pts

Lakeview Cellars Gewürztraminer Icewine 2013 (90+ pts)

PILLITTERI DOLCE RIESLING 2013 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (M) - $15.50
Offers a medium-high intensity nose of petrol, mineral, peach, citrus and apple that echo on the palate in a medium sweet style. Fresh acids are nicely balanced. Long finish has notes of orange peel. Score: 88 pts

Pillitteri Dolce Riesling 2013 (88 pts)Pillitteri Winemakers Selection Exclamation Merlot 2012 (90 pts)

Matured in French oak for 2 years, this offer medium-to-high intensity aromatics of cigar box, sweet tobacco, blackberry, black current, white pepper, and sweet spices that echo very nicely on the complex, medium-bodied palate. It has very good acidity and smooth, velvety tannins. Excellent length on the finish. Score: 90 pts

PILLITTERI FAMILY RESERVE TRIVALENTE 2005 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $98
A blend of 67% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Cabernet Franc and 8% Merlot, this very fine mature wine has a captivating, highly aromatic and a very complex nose of dried floral, cherry, rhubarb, kirsch, blackberry liqueur, apple wood and some barnyard aromas. It's full-bodied with silky smooth tannins and lovely flavours of blackberry, cherry and floral. It still has very good acidity and shows some brambly notes on the long finish. Also tasted in 2014. Score: 92 pts

Pillitteri Family Reserve Trivalente 2005 (92 pts)Pillitteri Reserve Vidal Icewine 2013 (91 pts)

PILLITTERI RESERVE VIDAL ICEWINE 2013 - VQA Niagara-on-the-Lake, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (S) (200 mL/375 mL) - $35/$65
My favourite of the Icewines tasted at Pillitteri, this has an highly aromatic nose of leach, apricot and lemon. It is medium-full bodied on the palate with very nice aroma replays plus hints of oak spice. It's very sweet, with pleasing acids keep the Icewine from being cloying. Long, citrusy finish. Very fine indeed. Score: 91 pts

Saturday, December 10, 2016

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  • Saturday, December 10, 2016

FRESH Wines for the Holidays

wine reviews are a pair of wines from the FRESH brand produced by Diamond Estates.

The focus on FRESH is about fun, creative wines for wine drinkers who want to explore and try something different. The two wines reviewed below fit into the brand very nicely as the Riesling/Gewürztraminer blend and the Sparkling Wine made with Riesling are both relatively uncommon in the wine world.

These wines, among others in the FRESH line are available at the LCBO. However, you can order a case online at and have it delivered to your door in Ontario for FREE when you use promo code FRESHHoliday and enjoy these wines over the holidays!

Tasting Notes:

FRESH IDEAS SPARKLING RIESLING 2014 - VQA Ontario, Canada (#441162) (M) - $15.95
Lemon, honeysuckle, and wildflower aromas with a honeyed character from the cork. Honeyed citrus and floral aromas are somewhat muted in the glass. More honeyed citrus, orange and floral flavours on the medium sweet palate. Bubbles are nicely articulated. Sweetness is cut by bright, crisp acids and finishes on the dry side. Score: 87 pts

Fresh Ideas Sparkling Riesling 2014 - VQA Ontario, Canada (87 pts)

FRESH OPPORTUNITIES RIESLING GEWÜRZTRAMINER 2014 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#572156) (D) - $12.95
A blend of 60% Riesling and 40% Gewürztraminer. Screw cap. Low-medium intensity nose featuring ripe peach, citrus with a bit of earthy funkiness at the tail end. Off-dry on the palate with more peach and citrus flavours. Acids are sharp, but has a nice chalky mineral texture. Good length on the finish. Score: 86 pts

Fresh Opportunities Riesling Gewürztraminer 2014 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (86 pts)

Monday, December 5, 2016

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  • Monday, December 5, 2016

Lamberti Santepietre Pinot Grigio 2015 (Italy) - Wine Review

I opened up this easy drinking Pinot Grigio from Northern Italy.

This wine is produced by Cantina Lamberti, a winery that was established in 1964 and is named after one of the oldest noble families of Verona. The grapes for this wine were harvested from Trentino and Veneto vineyards along the Adige Valley in Northern Italy, and were picked during the last 10 days of September.

It is readily available at LCBO locations throughout the province and is made in a crowd-pleasing and versatile style, which will make it suitable for your holiday gatherings. It's also budget-friendly, retailing for just $11.95 until .

Lamberti Santepietre Pinot Grigio 2015 - IGT Venezie, Italy (87 pts)

Tasting Note:

LAMBERTI SANTEPIETRE PINOT GRIGIO 2015 - IGT Venezie, Italy (#560524) (XD) - $11.95
Screw cap. Lemony fresh aromas with a whiff of minerality on the nose. The palate is medium-bodied with candied citrus, lemon, along with hints of white flowers and saline. Lemony acids are fresh and juicy, while the finish has fine length with a touch of saline character. Serve nicely chilled. Good value. Score: 87 pts

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  • Monday, December 5, 2016

VINTAGES Release December 10: Top Holiday Dinner Wines

LCBO Wine Picks from December 10, 2016 VINTAGES Release
The upcoming LCBO VINTAGES Release on will be on shelves this and is another mono-thematic release featuring top wines for Holiday Dinners. This is also the final release of 2016, so if you need something for the holidays, now would be the time to stock up as the next release will be a week into 2017.

Featured in this release are 25 wines for holiday dinners. Among these wines, only 5 are included among my wine picks. Begin your holiday dinner or gathering with a Champagne from Marc Hébrart, followed by the La Crema Sonoma Coast Chardonnay. In red wines, you can offer the Old Vines Cabernet/Merlot (from 30-year-old vines, blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot) from Niagara's own Château des Charmes or you can go all out and pour Ornellaia's flagship wine that is a blend of 45% Cabernet Sauvignon, 38% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc and 7% Petit Verdot. Lastly, you can end your dinner with a vintage Tawny Port that is 14 years old.

La Crema Sonoma Coast Chardonnay 2014 - Sonoma Coast, California, USA (90 pts)Ornellaia 2013 - DOC Bolgheri Superiore, Tuscany, Italy (93 pts)

In red wines from the rest of the release, the Beaujolais is of course a Gamay, but comes from vines planted in 1940. The Château Bertin is 100% Merlot, while the 2010 Bordeaux is a blend of 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Merlot, and 15% Cabernet Franc. Also, both wines from Piedmont are made with 100% Nebbiolo.

Château Bertin 2014 - AC Lussac St-Émilion, Bordeaux, France (88 pts)

In white wines, the Creekside Reserve Sauvignon Blanc is actually barrel-fermented in new & used oak and will only be available Flagship Store Exclusive (FSE) locations. The Stratus White is a unique blend of Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon and Viognier. For sweet wine lovers, the latest edition of Vineland Estates' Elevation St. Urban Riesling is your best bet, or, if you prefer even sweeter, check out the Tokaji or Icewine.

Creekside Reserve Sauvignon Blanc 2013 - VQA Creek Shores, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (90 pts)Vineland Estates Elevation St. Urban Vineyard Riesling 2015 - VQA Twenty Mile Bench, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (89 pts)

Enjoy your holidays with my wine picks and see you in 2017!

Red Wine:

  • DOMAINE DUPRÈ VIGNES DE 1940 BEAUJOLAIS-VILLAGES 2014 - AC, France (#468710) (XD) - $16.95
  • VIÑA TARAPACÁ GRAN RESERVA PINOT NOIR 2015 - Leyda Valley, Chile (#404210) (XD) - $17.95  reviewed here
  • LOUIS LATOUR DOMAINE DE VALMOISSINE PINOT NOIR 2013 - IGP VAR, Provence, France (#714451) (XD) - $19.95  reviewed here
  • CHÂTEAU BERTIN 2014 - AC Lussac St-Émilion, Bordeaux, France (#244046) (D) - $19.95  reviewed here
  • SAN PEDRO 1865 SINGLE VINEYARD CARMENÈRE 2014 - Maule Valley, Chile (#249201) (XD) - $19.95  reviewed here
  • CHÂTEAU DES CHARMES OLD VINES CABERNET/MERLOT 2012 - VQA Niagara-on-the-Lake, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#222372) (XD) - $21.95
  • TRAVAGLINI GATTINARA 2010 - DOCG, Piedmont, Italy (#713354) (XD) - $29.95
Viña Tarapacá Gran Reserva Pinot Noir 2015 - Leyda Valley, Chile (88 pts)Louis Latour Domaine de Valmoissine Pinot Noir 2013 - IGP VAR, Provence, France (88 pts)
  • MICHELE CHIARLO PALÁS BAROLO 2012 - DOCG, Piedmont, Italy (#474437) (XD) - $37.95  reviewed here
  • CHÂTEAU ANDRON BLANQUET 2010 - AC Saint-Estephe, Bordeaux, France (#468389) (XD) - $39.95
  • CHATEAU STE. MICHELLE COLD CREEK VINEYARD CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2012 - Columbia Valley, Washington, USA (#468520) (XD) - $42.95  FSE
  • TWO HANDS BELLA’S GARDEN SHIRAZ 2014 - Barossa Valley, South Australia (#636407) (D) - $64.95
  • DOMUS VITAE BRUNELLO DI MONTALCINO 2007 - DOCG, Tuscany, Italy (#330746) (XD) - $69.95
  • CLIFF LEDE CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2013 - Stags Leap District, Napa Valley, California, USA (#014217) (XD) - $114.95
  • ORNELLAIA 2013 - DOC Bolgheri Superiore, Tuscany, Italy (#722470) (XD) - $199.95  reviewed here
San Pedro 1865 Single Vineyard Carmenère 2014 - Maule Valley, Chile (89 pts)Michele Chiarlo Palás Barolo 2012 - DOCG, Piedmont, Italy (90 pts)

White Wine:

  • AMARAL SAUVIGNON BLANC 2015 - Leyda Valley, Chile (#367292) (XD) - $14.95
  • TAHBILK MARSANNE 2015 - Nagambie Lakes, Central Victoria, Australia (#117945) (XD) - $17.95  reviewed here
  • LOUIS LATOUR GRAND ARDÈCHE CHARDONNAY 2014 - IGP, Burgundy, France (#947549) (XD) - $19.95  reviewed here
  • VILLA MARIA CELLAR SELECTION SAUVIGNON BLANC 2015 - Marlborough, South Island, New Zealand (#974527) (XD) - $19.95  reviewed here
  • VINELAND ESTATES ELEVATION ST. URBAN VINEYARD RIESLING 2015 - VQA Twenty Mile Bench, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#038117) (M) - $19.95  reviewed here
  • CREEKSIDE RESERVE SAUVIGNON BLANC 2013 - VQA Creek Shores, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#053371) (XD) - $26.95  FSE  reviewed here
  • LA CREMA SONOMA COAST CHARDONNAY 2014 - Sonoma Coast, California, USA (#962886) (XD) - $29.95  reviewed here
  • DOMAINE JEAN COLLET & FILS MONTMAINS CHABLIS 1ER CRU 2014 - AC, Burgundy, France (#405704) (XD) - $34.95
  • CLOUDY BAY CHARDONNAY 2014 - Marlborough, South Island, New Zealand (#359513) (XD) - $36.95
  • STRATUS WHITE 2013 - VQA Niagara-on-the-Lake, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#660704) (XD) - $38.20
Louis Latour Grand Ardèche Chardonnay 2014 - IGP, Burgundy, France (88 pts)Villa Maria Cellar Selection Sauvignon Blanc 2015 - Marlborough, South Island, New Zealand (89 pts)

Sparkling Wine:

  • TAWSE SPARK LIMESTONE RIDGE SPARKLING RIESLING 2014 - Traditional Method, VQA Twenty Mile Bench, Niagara Escarpment, Ontario, Canada (#370361) (D) - $20.20  reviewed here
  • CA’ DEL BOSCO CUVÉE PRESTIGE BRUT FRANCIACORTA - Traditional Method, DOCG, Lombardy, Italy (#105353) (D) - $41.95
  • MARC HÉBRART BRUT BLANC DE BLANCS CHAMPAGNE - AC, 1er Cru à Mareuil-sur-Aÿ, France (#231217) (D) - $48.95


  • DOW’S COLHEITA TAWNY PORT 2002 - DOC, Portugal (#473058) (S) - $39.95

Dessert Wine:

  • PUKLUS PINCÉSZET 3 PUTTONYOS TOKAJI ASZÚ 2012 - Hungary (#980805) (S) (500 mL) - $20.95
  • SPERLING GEWÜRZTRAMINER ICEWINE 2014 - BC VQA Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, Canada (#471425) (S) (375 mL) - $49.95

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

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  • Wednesday, November 30, 2016

La Crema Sonoma Coast Chardonnay 2014 (California) - Wine Review

wine was released into VINTAGES last Spring and will be back as part of the LCBO VINTAGES Release on .

This wine is produced by La Crema, a winery emphasizing boutique, small-batch winemaking and a commitment to sustainability. I had the opportunity to visit this Sonoma winery in October and will be reporting on this in the near future - stay tuned.

The fruit for this wine comes from various vineyards across the diverse region of Sonoma Coast, including the Laghlin, Fulton, Ramal, Saralee's, Shiloh and Kelli Ann vineyards. The vintage was very good, with the weather co-operating beautifully by offering ample sunshine to achieve optimal ripeness and flavour development, while the cooling breezes maintained vibrant acidity. The wine spent 7 months in barrel, mostly French and some American, 18% new.

La Crema Sonoma Coast Chardonnay 2014 - Sonoma Coast, California, USA (90 pts)

Tasting Note:

LA CREMA SONOMA COAST CHARDONNAY 2014 - Sonoma Coast, California, USA (#962886) (XD) - $29.95
Aromas of peach, stone fruit and apple with a twist honey from the cork. Lovely medium+ intensity ripe apple, lemon citrus, pear, butterscotch, sweet vanillan oak aromas with a whiff of mineral at the tail end. The rich palate is medium-full bodied with bright, balanced acids. It's dry with pleasing aroma replays and hints of lemon peel. Moderate use of oak is nicely integrated. Well-balanced overall. Hints of mineral linger on the long finish. Finely crafted, deserves rich seafood or pair with poultry. Enjoy over the next 3-4 years. Score: 90 pts

Sunday, November 27, 2016

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  • Sunday, November 27, 2016

Château Bertin 2014 (Bordeaux) - Wine Review

wine review is another sneak preview of a wine that will be in LCBO VINTAGES on .

This red wine is produced by Vignobles Jean-Bernard Saby & Fils, a family-owned winery with a winemaking history dating back to the 18th Century and spanning 9 generations.

The grapes for this wine come from Château Bertin, within the town of Lussac, on the right bank, approximately 45 kilometres from the city of Bordeaux. The plot of land where these grapes were grown are near the centre of village, next to a school and bordering the house of Château Haut Brion. The vineyard is south-facing and has extraordinary potential.

Château Bertin 2014 - AC Lussac St-Émilion, Bordeaux, France (88 pts)

Tasting Note:

CHÂTEAU BERTIN 2014 - AC Lussac St-Émilion, Bordeaux, France (#244046) (D) - $19.95
100% Merlot that was hand-harvested and matured in oak for 12 months. Wet earth, forest floor, plum and whiffs of incense aromas from the cork. Ripe black cherry, cassis aromas followed by notions of milk chocolate, herbs and vanilla oak of medium intensity. Medium-bodied with a soft, plush mouthfeel and dusty tannins that become chalkier with air. Acids are juicy. Black cherry, currant, cocoa, milk chocolate, and cedar oak flavours, finishing long with earthy notes. Will be a fine match over the holidays with poultry or red meats. Score: 88 pts

Monday, November 21, 2016

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  • Monday, November 21, 2016

Bodegas Hermanos del Villar Oro de Castilla 2015 (Spain) - Wine Review

I opened up this crisp, refreshing dry white wine from Bodegas Hermanos del Villar . After having tasting their 2014 Oro de Castilla at the Rueda Tasting in May, I was very excited to try the latest vintage of this wine.

The 2015 vintage in Rueda was marked by a lack rain, causing a delay in sprouting by 15 days and resulting in lower than usual yields. However, due to the large root development of the vineyards, the vines were able to withstand one of the driest growing seasons in many years. Furthermore, no chemical treatments were applied to the vines this year.

Surprisingly, this delicious white wine is still currently available at the LCBO, even though it was released through VINTAGES on September 3.

Bodegas Hermanos del Villar Oro de Castilla 2015 - DO Rueda, Spain (88 pts)

Tasting Note:

BODEGAS HERMANOS DEL VILLAR ORO DE CASTILLA 2015 - DO Rueda, Spain (#745562) (XD) - $15.95
Screw cap. 100% Verdejo fermented in stainless steel tanks. Aromas of medium-high intensity featuring a mix that dances between tropical fruits, guava, herbs and earthy notes. The dry palate medium bodied and fleshy with lemon/lime, grassy, herbs, and ripe tropical fruits framed by vibrant acids. Finish length is very good. Perhaps not quite as fragrant as the 2014, but every bit as delicious. Serve this nicely chilled with salads, pasta, seafood, or poultry dishes. Score 88 pts

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  • Monday, November 21, 2016

VINTAGES Release November 26: Fine Holiday Wines

LCBO Wine Picks from November 26, 2016 VINTAGES Release
The upcoming LCBO VINTAGES Release on is titled "A Fine Romance" and features 29 fine wines and spirits that are splurge-worthy for the holidays. Wines from this release will be on shelves this coming .

Leaving out the spirits, there are 25 wines included in this mono-thematic release, and a full 9 are included among my wine picks. A local red wine that is on this list is the impressive Stratus Red from the very good 2012 vintage that's made with traditional Bordeaux varietals. From South America, there is the Catena Alta Malbec from Argentina, and Chilean icon wine Don Melchor Cabernet Sauvignon that also contains 7% Cabernet Franc. The legendary Sassicaia is a blend of 85% Cabernet Sauvignon and 15% Cabernet Franc, while the Amarone consists of traditional grapes (70%) Corvina Veronese and Corvinone, (25%) Rondinella, (5%) Molinara. Other single-varietal wines include the Dead Arm Shiraz and the Napa Cabernet Sauvignon from Beringer.

Stratus Red 2012 - VQA Niagara-on-the-Lake, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (92 pts)Concha Y Toro Don Melchor Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 - Puente Alto, Maipo Valley, Chile (92 pts)

Sassicaia 2013 - DOC Bolgheri Sassicaia, Tuscany, Italy (94 pts)

Among non-red wines, the splurge-worthy white wine is a multi-site mountain vineyard Kistler Chardonnay. In sparkling wine, the Bollinger Champagne - which is available in 2 sizes in this release - consists of 60% Pinot Noir, 25% Chardonnay, and 15% Pinot Meunier.

Other sparkling wines that are also in this Release include a dry version that is almost equal parts Chardonnay and Pinot Noir from South Africa, while the Le Mesnil Champagne is 100% Chardonnay. Lastly, the Vouvray is a slightly off-dry style (i.e. a touch sweet) and made with Chenin Blanc. In white wines, the Hermit Crab for 2015 is a crisp blend of 58% Viognier and 42% Marsanne.

In red wine recommendations, the Borsao Bole is a blend of 70% Grenache and 30% Syrah, while the Rioja is 100% Tempranillo. The 2010 Bordeaux is a returnee to VINTAGES and is a blend of 50% Merlot, 45% Cabernet Sauvignon and 5% Petit Verdot. From Portugal, the Mondego is a blend of 88% Touriga Nacional, 5% Tinta Roriz, 5% Alfrocheiro and 2% Jaen, while the Torbreck is an unoaked blend of 85% Grenache, 8% Shiraz and 7% Mataro with vines ranging from 40 to 150 years old.

Montebuena Cuvée KPF 2014 - DOCa Rioja, Spain (88 pts)

This is the second last release of 2016 - so you might want to stock up now. Enjoy my wine picks from this release! Cheers!

Red Wine:

  • BORSAO BOLE 2013 - DO Campo de Borja, Spain (#471565) (XD) - $15.95
  • MONTEBUENA CUVÉE KPF 2014 - DOCa Rioja, Spain (#211029) (XD) - $15.95  reviewed here
  • SALENTEIN RESERVE MALBEC 2014 - Uco Valley, Mendoza, Argentina (#640854) (XD) - $17.95
  • CHÂTEAU DE PANIGON 2010 - AC Médoc, Bordeaux, France (#348250) (XD) - $19.95
  • QUINTA DO MONDEGO 2010 - DOC Dão, Portugal (#399766) (D) - $19.95
  • WYNNS COONAWARRA ESTATE SHIRAZ 2012 - Coonawarra, South Australia (#433060) (XD) - $22.95
  • TORBRECK CUVÉE JUVENILES 2014 - Barossa Valley, South Australia (#723940) (XD) - $27.95
  • STRATUS RED 2012 - VQA Niagara-on-the-Lake, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#131037) (XD) - $44.20  reviewed here
  • REX HILL PINOT NOIR 2013 - Willamette Valley, Oregon, USA (#275735) (XD) - $46.95

  • CATENA ALTA HISTORIC ROWS MALBEC 2013 - Mendoza, Argentina (#982355) (D) - $49.95
  • SASSETTI PERTIMALI BRUNELLO DI MONTALCINO 2009 - DOCG, Tuscany, Italy (#474734) (XD) - $49.95
  • D’ARENBERG THE DEAD ARM SHIRAZ 2012 - McLaren Vale, South Australia (#430512) (D) - $54.95
  • MICHELE CASTELLANI CINQUE STELLE AMARONE DELLA VALPOLICELLA CLASSICO 2012 - Collezione Ca’ del Pipa, DOCG, Veneto, Italy (#075127) (D) - $56.95
  • VERSADO RESERVA ANCIENT MALBEC 2012 - Mendoza, Argentina (#316984) (XD) - $59.95
  • CONCHA Y TORO DON MELCHOR CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2012 - Puente Alto, Maipo Valley, Chile (#403980) (D) - $74.95  reviewed here
  • ANAKOTA HELENA MONTANA VINEYARD CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2013 - Knights Valley, Sonoma County, California, USA (#181131) (XD) - $158.95  FSE
  • BERINGER PRIVATE RESERVE CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2012 - Napa Valley, California, USA (#149955) (XD) - $166.95
  • SASSICAIA 2013 - DOC Bolgheri Sassicaia, Tuscany, Italy (#480533) (XD) - $212.95  reviewed here

White Wine:

  • TENUTE MESSIERI VISIONI OFFIDA PECORINO 2013 - DOCG, Marche, Italy (#414011) (XD) - $16.95
  • D’ARENBERG THE HERMIT CRAB VIOGNIER/MARSANNE 2015 - McLaren Vale, South Australia (#662775) (XD) - $17.95
  • BARBUNTÍN ALBARINO 2014 - DO Rîas Baixas, Spain (#461285) (XD) - $17.95
  • WITHER HILLS SAUVIGNON BLANC 2015 - Marlborough, South Island, New Zealand (#919514) (D) - $19.95
  • TIEFENBRUNNER PINOT GRIGIO 2015 - IGT Vigneti delle Dolomiti, Alto Adige/Trentino, Italy (#474742) (XD) - $19.95
  • VIGNE SURRAU BRANU VERMENTINO DI GALLURA 2014 - DOCG, Sardinia, Italy (#455246) (XD) - $21.95
  • DOMAINES SCHLUMBERGER KESSLER RIESLING 2012 - AC Alsace Grand Cru, France (#061176) (XD) - $27.95
  • TAWSE ESTATE CHARDONNAY 2012 - VQA Twenty Mile Bench, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#344804) (D) - $38.40  reviewed here
  • DOMAINE DANIEL-ÉTIENNE DEFAIX CÔTES DE LECHET CHABLIS 1ER CRU 2003 - AC, Burgundy, France (#470435) (XD) - $51.95
  • KISTLER SONOMA MOUNTAIN CHARDONNAY 2014 - Sonoma Mountain, California, USA (#183921) (XD) - $111.95
Tawse Estate Chardonnay 2012 - VQA Twenty Mile Bench, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (91 pts)

Sparkling Wine:

  • DOMAINE DE VAUGONDY BRUT VOUVRAY - Méthode traditionelle, AC, Loire, France (#154567) (D) - $17.95
  • GRAHAM BECK BRUT CHARDONNAY/PINOT NOIR SPARKLING - Méthode Cap Classique, WO Western Cape, South Africa (#593483) (XD) - $18.95
  • BOLLINGER SPECIAL CUVÉE BRUT CHAMPAGNE - AC, France (#234104 / #384529) (D) (375 mL / 750 mL) - $42.95 / $78.95


  • WARRE’S LBV BOTTLE AGED PORT 2004 - Unfiltered, bottled in 2008, DOP, Portugal (#434936) (S) - $35.95
  • KOPKE COLHEITA PORT 1996 - Matured in wood, btld. in 2016, DOC, Portugal (#063743) (S) - $59.95


  • ALVEAR SOLERA 1927 PEDRO XIMÉNEZ - DOP Montilla-Moriles, Spain (#463034) (S) (375 mL) - $19.95

Dessert Wine:

  • CAVE SPRING INDIAN SUMMER SELECT LATE HARVEST RIESLING 2013 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#415901) (S) (375 mL) - $24.95
  • DOMAINE CAUHAPE SYMPHONIE DE NOVEMBRE 2012 - AC Jurançon, Southwest, France (#470344) (S) - $38.95  FSE


  • ROSEWOOD MEAD ROYALE HONEY WINE 2015 - Barrel aged, Canada (#296178) (S) (500 mL) - $16.95

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

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  • Wednesday, November 16, 2016

EastDell Unoaked Chardonnay 2015 (Ontario) - Wine Review

wine is an unoaked Chardonnay and, similar to the 2014 EastDell Gamay Noir, is now on LCBO shelves with an updated, modern label that still retains the iconic heron.

The 2015 vintage began with unusually cold temperatures throughout Winter and Spring. Fortunately, weather conditions improved greatly during the Summer growing season, with favourable conditions continuuing through to harvest.

Produced by Diamond Estates, this easy-drinking Chardonnay is available at the Winery Boutique (at Diamond Estates) and at the LCBO.

EastDell Unoaked Chardonnay 2015 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (86 pts)

Tasting Note:

EASTDELL UNOAKED CHARDONNAY 2015 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#609867) (XD) - $13.95
Screw cap. Aromas of fresh lemon/lime citrus with ripe golden apple undertones. The palate is medium-bodied and fleshy with more ripe apple and citrus fruit flavours. Some grapefruit notes emerge with time in glass. Acids are clean and balanced. Good length on the finish. This is a clean, easy-drinking (unoaked) Chardonnay to drink in the near term with seafood, salads or poultry. Score: 86 pts

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  • Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Celebrating #GarnachaDay

Celebrating #GarnachaDay
International Grenache Day is celebrated around the world every 3rd Friday of September. This year, the celebration fell on and I was invited to an exclusive tasting of a few spectacular Grenache (or Garnatxa as they say in Spain) wines at Archive 909 on Dundas Street West in downtown Toronto.

The origins of Grenache are found in Aragon, in northern Spain and the grape was known as the Red of Aragon (Tinto Aragonés). From there, it spread to Sardinia, Southern France, Australia and California. Over centuries, naturally occurring Grenache mutations formed, resulting in the prevalence of Grenache blanc, a grapes that's used in making white wines.

Today, Grenache is one of most widely planted grapes in the world, with Spain being the #1 grower. Single varietals wines made from Grenache noir are plenty, but it's also commonly used in GSM blends (Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre/Mataro) from Southern France and Australia.

On this day in , I had the opportunity to taste through various Grenache wines, including some Garnatxa blanc wines, and pairing them with some delicious Mediterranean tapas prepared by the fine folks at Archive 909. All of the wines were from Spain, and wine reviews of my favourite Garnacha wines are provided below. Unfortunately, none of the my favourite wines are currently available at the LCBO, so you'll have to reach out to the Agent to place your order.

If you missed celebrating #GrenacheDay this year, mark you calendar as it will return in 2017 on . In the meantime, you can drink Grenache throughout year as its quite commonly found at the LCBO. Salud!

#GarnachaDay at Archive 909#GarnachaDay at Archive 909

Tasting Notes:

BOTERA VILA-CLOSA GARNATXA BLANCA 2015 - DO Terra Alta, Spain (XD) - $16.02
Medium+ intensity nose offering plenty of mineral character combined with lemon, stone fruit and pear aromas. The palate has nicely balanced aroma replays with earthy and some flinty notes making a statement on the long finish. Fresh and succulent acids. Contact That's Life Gourmet for availability. Score: 88+ pts

Botera Vila-Closa Garnatxa Blanca 2015 - DO Terra Alta, Spain (88+ pts)Lafou Els Amelers Garnatxa Blanca 2015 - DO Terra Alta, Spain (89 pts)

LAFOU ELS AMELERS GARNATXA BLANCA 2015 - DO Terra Alta, Spain (XD) ~ $29
10% of this exotic wine rested in 300-litre lightly toasted barrels. The medium intensity nose has exotic waxy, honey and tropical nuances. Lemony acids are fresh with a nice mineral texture on the palate. Some herbally flavours. Finish length is very good. Score: 89 pts

From vines between 80-100 years old, this has medium+ intensity aromas of cranberry, oak spice, and red & purple florals that all make an appearance on the medium+ bodied palate. It has nicely integrated tannins, balanced and juicy acids. Long finishing. Score: 88+ pts

Las Rocas Vinas Viejas de San Alejandro Old Vine Garnacha 2013 - DO Catalayud, Spain (88+ pts)Cruz de Piedra Selección Especial 2014 - DO Catalayud, Spain (89 pts)

CRUZ DE PIEDRA SELECCIÓN ESPECIAL 2014 - DO Catalayud, Spain (XD) - $12
Grapes for this wine come from old bush vines, ranging between 50-100 years old. Appears closed for the moment, but shows hints of blackberry, mineral, dark fruits, sweet oak spices. Full-bodied with a dense, concentrated mouthfeel and pleasing aroma replays. It has fresh, balanced acids that are just a touch tart. Excellent length on the finish. This is a big wine that can be decanted and enjoyed now, or aged for at least half dozen years. Contact Rogers & Company for availability. Score: 89 pts

From old vines ranging between 40-50 years old. Lovely, captivating nose offers complex raspberry, leafy, floral, clove and hints of mineral. Medium+ bodied on the palate with astringent tannins that softened with air. Very nice, well balanced, floral and cherry, clove, subtle sweet oak spice flavours. Balanced use of oak with hints of vanilla on the medium-long finish. My favourite wine of the tasting. Contact Hobbs & Co. for availability. Score: 89 pts

Bodegas Aragonesas Fagus de Coto de Hayas Selección Especial 2013 - DO Campo de Borja, Spain (90 pts)

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