Tuesday, March 29, 2016

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  • Tuesday, March 29, 2016

EastDell Estates Black Label Viognier 2014 (Ontario) - Wine Review



wine is a delicious Ontario Viognier that is already available at the winery, but will also be released into VINTAGES on .

EastDell Estates was founded in 1999 and sold to current owner, Diamond Estates, in 2005. The EastDell logo depicts a blue heron, which has a natural migration path across their vineyards. I'm generally not one to comment on labels, but really do like the foil blue heron on this label - it's quite intricately designed and definitely catches the eye when hitting the light. Including tonight's Viognier, the wines of EastDell are typically made in an easy-drinking style that pair well with meals.

The grapes for this wine were sourced from high quality Ontario vineyards and then gently pressed in pneumatic bladder style presses. It was then cool-fermented in stainless steel before being aged in stainless steel tanks.

EastDell Estates Black Label Viognier 2014 - VQA Ontario, Canada (88 pts)

Tasting Note:

EASTDELL ESTATES BLACK LABEL VIOGNIER 2014 - VQA Ontario, Canada (#443622) (D) - $17.95
Screw cap. Inviting nose of orange blossom, white flower and peach aromas. The palate is full-ish with vibrant, refreshing acids. It is just off-dry (i.e. slightly sweet) with juicy floral, orange peel and white peach flavours. Finishes dry with orange peel and peach notes. Quite well-balanced overall. A fine Viognier with substance that can be enjoyed on the patio, or better yet, with chicken or a mildly spiced dish. Score: 88 pts


Monday, March 28, 2016

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  • Monday, March 28, 2016

April 2 VINTAGES Release: Europe vs New World

LCBO Wine Picks from April 2, 2016 VINTAGES Release
The mono-themed VINTAGES Release will be on LCBO shelves across Ontario this coming . It is titled "Double Exposure" and compares the original European wines with their New World renditions.

Of the 18 wines featured, 6 wines are included among my wine picks and the majority of these are (somewhat surprising to me) from the New World. First up is a New World Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand that is consistently good year-after-year. Next is a California Chardonnay, also New world, but made in a style that's more in line with the Old World - less buttery, vanilla-infused, smoke and more mineral, lemon/lime. You will also find a very nice Malbec from Argentina and a single vineyard California Cabernet Sauvignon whose vines are located up in the Sonoma Mountain. Lastly, the only comparison where both the Old World and New World wine is included in my wine picks is Riesling; a solid example from Ontario and Germany are both featured, with the German Riesling being the sweeter of the two if you prefer your wines sweet.

Clos du Bois Calcaire Chardonnay 2013 - Russian River Valley, Sonoma County, California, USA (89 pts)

From the rest of the release, in red wines you will find Mas des Bressades is a 90/10 blend of Grenache/Syrah, while the South African red is a blend led by Cabernet Sauvignon, but also contains Merlot and Cabernet Franc. The next vintage of the organic Emiliana Coyam arrives as a blend of 39% Syrah, 32% Carmenere, 17% Merlot, 9% Cabernet Sauvignon, 2% Mourvedre, and 1% Malbec. Lastly, the Palazzo Red is a blend of 68% Merlot, 24% Cabernet Franc and 8% Cabernet Sauvignon and only available in VINTAGES Flagship Stores (FSE).

Emiliana Coyam 2012 - Colchagua Valley, Chile (90+ pts)

In white wines, the Bordeaux white is a blend of Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, and Muscadelle.

That's it for this release. Enjoy my wine recommendations. Cheers!

Loimer Langenlois Grüner Veltliner 2014 - DAC Kamptal, Austria (88+ pts)Domaine Millet Chablis 2014 - AC, Burgundy, France (89 pts)

Red Wine:

  • MAS DES BRESSADES CUVÉE TRADITION 2014 - AP Costières de Nîmes, Rhône, France (#143099) (D) - $16.95
  • NORTON RESERVA CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2012 - Mendoza, Argentina (#663120) (XD) - $17.95
  • DRAKE HEATHCOTE SHIRAZ 2013 - Heathcote, Victoria, Australia (#440008) (XD) - $18.95
  • FABRE MONTMAYOU RESERVA MALBEC 2013 - Mendoza, Argentina (#261867) (D) - $18.95
  • STELLENRUST TIMELESS 2011 - WO Stellenbosch, South Africa (#443325) (XD) - $19.95
  • EMILIANA COYAM 2012 - Colchagua Valley, Chile (#063891) (D) - $29.95  reviewed here
  • KENWOOD JACK LONDON VINEYARD CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2012 - Sonoma Mountain, California, USA (#944843) (XD) - $39.95
  • BURROWING OWL SYRAH 2013 - BC VQA Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, Canada (#073072) (D) - $40.95
  • JEAN-LUC COLOMBO TERRES BRÛLÉES CORNAS SYRAH 2012 - AC, Rhône, France (#448837) (XD) - $72.95  FSE
  • PALAZZO RIGHT BANK RED 2009 - Napa Valley, California, USA (#423194) (XD) - $92.00  FSE

White Wine:

  • CHÂTEAU HAUT PHILIPPON 2014 - AC Entre-Deux-Mers, Bordeaux, France (#445171) (XD) - $14.95
  • KÖNIGSCHAFFHAUSER VULKANFELSEN TROCKEN PINOT GRIS 2014 - Erzeugerabfüllung, Qualitätswein, Baden, Germany (#450726) (XD) - $16.95
  • HENRY OF PELHAM ESTATE RIESLING 2012 - VQA Short Hills Bench, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#557165) (D) - $17.95
  • DR. HERMANN FROM THE SLATE RIESLING 2013 - Qualitätswein, Mosel, Germany (#446617) (M) - $17.95
  • DEU LA DEU ALVARINHO 2014 - Monção e Melgaço, DOC Vinho Verde, Portugal (#040642) (D) - $19.95
  • LOIMER LANGENLOIS GRÜNER VELTLINER 2014 - DAC Kamptal, Austria (#142240) (XD) - $21.95  reviewed here
  • STONELEIGH LATITUDE SAUVIGNON BLANC 2015 - Marlborough, South Island, New Zealand (#324228) (XD) - $21.95
  • DOMAINE MILLET CHABLIS 2014 - AC, Burgundy, France (#447193) (XD) - $26.95  reviewed here
  • CLOS DU BOIS CALCAIRE CHARDONNAY 2013 - Russian River Valley, Sonoma County, California, USA (#421941) (XD) - $29.95  reviewed here
  • SYLVAIN MOSNIER CÔTE DE LÉCHET CHABLIS 1ER CRU 2013 - AC, Burgundy, France (#318139) (XD) - $35.95  FSE

Fortifieds:

  • DOW’S QUINTA DO BOMFIM VINTAGE PORT 2004 - DOP, Portugal (#008193) (S) (375 mL) - $29.95


Thursday, March 24, 2016

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  • Thursday, March 24, 2016

Domaine Millet Chablis 2014 (Burgundy) - Wine Review

Opened up this clean, delicious Chablis (Chardonnay) and it paired well with one of my favourite Indian dishes - large shrimp with onions and tomatoes.

The story of Domaine Millet begins when farmer Philippe Millet settled a piece of land called "la Ferme de Marcault" in the mid-1960's and since some of those lots where he cultivated cereals were eligible for AOC Petit Chablis, the winery was formed in the early 80's. Later on, Philippe acquired vines in AOC Chablis. The grapes for this wine come from these vines which are 30 years old and sit on a geological landscape that is from the Kimmeridgian stage.

Philippe handed the family business to his two sons, Paterne and Baudouin, several years ago. Today, the two sons continue the desire of their father to cultivate the best vines, produce excellent Chardonnay grapes and offer fine wines that are elegant and reflect the terroir that Chablis is known for.

This white wine will be available at the LCBO as part of the upcoming April 2 VINTAGES Release.

Domaine Millet Chablis 2014 - AC, Burgundy, France (89 pts)

Tasting Note:

DOMAINE MILLET CHABLIS 2014 - AC, Burgundy, France (#447193) (XD) - $26.95
Aromas of clean lime and citrus with hints of stone from the cork. Vinified in thermal regulated tanks, in the glass this offers aromas of lemon/lime, stone fruits with some herbal and stony minerality adding interest. The palate is light-to-medium bodied with crisp, balanced acids and flavours of lemon, peach, chalk along with hints of minerality and butter. Peach and orange notes really show through as it warms up in the glass. A clean Chablis that's refreshing with good length on the finish. Enjoy over the next 2-3 years. Score: 89 pts


Tuesday, March 22, 2016

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  • Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Seriously Cool Red 2012 and Seriously Cool Chardonnay 2015 (Ontario) - Wine Reviews

Southbrook Vineyards is proud to launch these two new wines produced by internationally-acclaimed winemaker Ann Sperling. Created from Niagara-grown grapes that followed Sustainable Winemaking Ontario standards, these Seriously Cool wines also support the local economy by using bottles made in Ontario using recycled glass. The labels are also designed and printed locally.

Seriously Cool Wines by Southbrook Vineyards

As part of a series, each wine is bottled under three different labels designed by Laura Wills, an award-winning designer that has also designed labels for other Southbrook wines.

These wines were released last month and at the time of this post are only available at the winery. However, I wouldn't be surprised to see both of these wines on LCBO shelves in the near future. Both of these easy-drinking wines are now available at the LCBO!

Tasting Notes:

SERIOUSLY COOL CHARDONNAY 2015 - VQA Ontario, Canada (#457481) (XD) - $15.95
Screw cap. Floral, ripe tropical fruit notes, green apple and poached pear aromas emanate from the glass. The palate medium+ bodied with a lush, round mouthfeel and sweet fruited flavours similar to the aroma profile, along with lime notes. It has bright, balanced acids and good length on the finish. This is a crowd pleaser and perfectly suitable for (upcoming) patio weather. Blend of 65% Chardonnay Musque, 26% Chardonnay and 9% Riesling, with 80% of the harvest coming from vineyards that are transitioning to Organic. Score: 87 pts

Seriously Cool Chardonnay 2015 - VQA Ontario, Canada (87 pts)

SERIOUSLY COOL RED 2012 - VQA Ontario, Canada (#453639) (D) - $15.95
Stelvin screw cap. Blend of 85% Gamay, 10% Pinot Noir and 5% Zweigelt. Bright red fruits and cherry give way to earthy and cedar aromas of medium intensity. The medium-bodied palate is rounded with soft, smooth, and ripe tannins. Sweet fruited flavours of cherry, red licorice, sweet vanilla, cedar, and hints of smoke. It has juicy acids and good length on the finish which shows hints of pencil lead. Should be a favourite at parties. Score: 87 pts

Seriously Cool Red 2012 - VQA Ontario, Canada (87 pts)


Monday, March 21, 2016

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  • Monday, March 21, 2016

Niagara Icewine Festival Review 2016 - Day 1

On , I had the pleasure of visiting Niagara to take in the 21st annual Niagara Icewine Festival. In order to fully appreciate the winery offerings of Icewine paired with delectable culinary creations, we opted to spend the night near The Falls and tour more Niagara wineries the following day. A review of activities will be posted in a few days is available here, but here is what we did on the Saturday.

Colaneri Estate Winery Food and Wine Pairings
We began the day at Colaneri Estate Winery, arriving just before they had opened at 11 a.m. for a grilled pineapple with a hint of cinnamon paired with their Recioto Chardonnay, followed by a cream-filled cannoli paired with their Riesling Icewine (375mL / $69.95, 89 pts). Neither the grilled pineapple or the Recioto Chardonnay were very sweet, thus complementing each other quite well. What was most interesting was how the pineapple flavours in the wine really popped out while enjoying the grilled pineapple. The 2013 Colaneri Dolcezza Stellucha Riesling Icewine (375mL / $69.95, 89 pts) is a very sweet Icewine with delicate acids and paired well with the cannoli that was filled with a very thick cream; the sweetness of each item balanced each other well, making for an enjoyable pairing. Full tasting notes of some of my favourite wines tasted at Colaneri and the other wineries visited on this day are posted below.

Ice Sculpture at PondView Estate WineryBlue Cheese Bread Pudding with PondView Select Late Harvest Vidal

Our second stop of the day was at PondView Estates Winery for a sweet and savour pairing. The first pairing was a delicious Blue Cheese Bread Pudding with caramelized pineapple that was paired with a very nice Select Late Harvest Vidal. I was blown away by the quality of the Late Harvest Vidal, as well as the beautifully balanced pairing that really brought out the pineapple notes in the wine. The second pairing was a nice treat of 2013 PondView Vidal Icewine (200 mL / $24.95) inside a Chocolate-filled Strawberry Cup. While the pairing was indeed decadent, I didn't really get a chance to taste the dollop of Icewine that filled the Strawberry, but I can imagine the Icewine being quite good based on my notes from prior vintages.

Rancourt Gewurztraminer Icewine 2013 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (90+ pts)Rancourt Gewurztraminer Icewine paired with Harvest Barn Wicked Thai Chicken Soup

The third stop of this chilly afternoon was at Rancourt Winery for a pairing of hot soup and their lovely 2013 Rancourt Gewurztraminer Icewine (200 mL / $30, 90+ pts) which I tasted last June. The Harvest Barn Wicked Thai Chicken Soup was thick and creamy with rice and vegetables added to the mix. The bright acidity from the Icewine balanced the creamy soup very well and was an enjoyable pairing overall. Since I had already tasted through pretty much their entire portfolio last June and September, I only tasted their recently released, easy drinking and crowd-pleasing 2013 Rancourt (unoaked) Chardonnay (full tasting note below).

Since all of the wineries we visited on this were in Niagara-on-the-Lake, our commute times between wineries were rather short. As such, we arrived at our fourth and final stop of the afternoon at approximately 2 p.m.

Inniskillin Riesling Icewine paired with Chicken + Waffles

Inniskillin Wines always seems to be a zoo at this time of the year, and this year was no different. We arrived just ahead of a large tour bus to get our Discovery Pass Experience of Chicken and Waffles topped with Riesling Icewine Butter and paired with their amazing Riesling Icewine. I also added some of their homemade hot sauce to add some spice to the pairing. My piece of dark meat chicken was covered in a crunchy coating and placed on top of a triangular shaped waffle, then drizzled with some Riesling Icewine Butter. Each item of the food & wine pairing was delicious on its own, but also paired really well due to the high acids in the Icewine that cut through the deep-fried oily chicken. The hot sauce also complemented the Icewine very well - once again proving that hot & spicy paired with a sweet wine that has vibrant acids makes for an excellent pairing!

After completing the Discovery Pass Experience, we moved next door to the historic Brae Burn Barn - a 1920's barn that was last renovated in 2008 - to taste some fabulous wines by Inniskillin. Amazingly, in all my years visiting Niagara and Inniskillin, this was my first time inside the barn and I was quite impressed with the space and its multitude of tasting bars. Since I hadn't tasted through a flight of wines from Inniskillin in a long time, our host, Katia, was very kind enough to take us through a very fine flight of Inniskillin Wines. I enjoyed many of the wines we tasted here and was quite impressed with the quality of wines. One of the most interesting wines I tasted was the 2012 Inniskillin Cabernet Franc Sparkling Icewine (375 mL / $120) - a sweet sparkling wine made from (frozen) Icewine grapes. Full wine reviews of my favourite wines are posted below.

2012 Inniskillin Cabernet Franc Sparkling Icewine

Since Inniskillin was the final stop of the day and we finished up quite early, we headed to The Falls area and checked into our hotel to rest and freshen up before dinner at Boston Pizza. After dinner, we enjoyed a fantastic magic show by Greg Frewin. A quick stop at the Casino concluded the evening's activities before a full night of rest in order to be ready for another day of food & wine in Niagara on Sunday. A full review of Sunday's activities will be posted shortly can be found here.

Tasting Notes:

COLANERI PROFONDO PAESE RECIOTO CHARDONNAY 2013 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (MS) (375 mL) - $29.95
Green apple, lime aromas follow through to the light-to-medium bodied palate and joined by hints of honey and poached pears. It's medium-sweet with a crisp mouthfeel balanced by nice acidity and long finishing. Score: 90 pts

COLANERI PAESE CHARDONNAY 2010 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $24.95
One of the few wines in Colaneri's portfolio that doesn't use any dried grapes, this dry Chardonnay is oaked in 1000 L barrels and has medium+ intensity aromas of subtle vanilla, melon, cantaloupe, and butter. The aromas make an appearance on the medium+ bodied palate with additional notes of cream vanilla and a spiced mid-palate. At 6 years old, it still has vibrant acids which linger on the long finish. Score: 88 pts

Colaneri Paese Chardonnay 2010 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (88 pts)Colaneri Coraggioso Amaroso Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada  (90 pts)

COLANERI CORAGGIOSO AMAROSO CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2012 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (D) - $49.95
Bottled in the summer and released more recently, this appassimento-style of Cabernet Sauvignon has dried fruit, fig and cassis aromas. It's off-dry with cherry, blackberry, plum and vanilla flavours on a full-bodied palate. The mid-palate is oak spiced coming from the cigar oak barrel ageing. Rich with a very long, warm finish. Needs time to fully come together, but can be decanted and enjoyed now. Score: 90 pts

PondView Select Late Harvest Vidal 2014 - VQA Ontario, Canada (89 pts)

PONDVIEW SELECT LATE HARVEST VIDAL 2014 - VQA Ontario, Canada (S) (375 mL) - $24.95
Highly aromatic and inviting nose showing a sweet nose of peach, apricot and honey which follows through on the sweet palate. It's light-to-medium weighted with juicy acids and good length on the finish. A fine value! Score: 89 pts

PONDVIEW VIOGNIER 2014 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $16.95
First vintage of this wine for PondView and it's a very good effort. Matured in uncommon Acacia wood, this has medium-to-high intensity aromas featuring lovely floral and hint of honeysuckle aromas. The medium+ bodied palate has bright acids to go along with pleasing aroma replays. It's dry and finishes long with hints of cantaloupe and fresh lemons. Not many left - get it while you can. Score: 88 pts

PondView Viognier 2014 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (88 pts)PondView Bella Terra Chardonnay 2013 - Barrel Fermented, VQA Four Mile Creek, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (88 pts)

PONDVIEW BELLA TERRA CHARDONNAY 2013 - Barrel Fermented, VQA Four Mile Creek, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#347922) (XD) - $25.00
Medium-to-high aromatics featuring elegant butter, vanilla, pineapple and hints of butterscotch that replay on the palate. It is also full-bodied with slightly creamy mouthfeel and vibrant, juicy acids. Well-balanced with gentle spice notes on the lingering finish. Score: 88 pts

PONDVIEW BELLA TERRA MERITAGE 2012 - Unfiltered, VQA Four Mile Creek, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $44.95
Medium+ intensity aromas of dark fruits, hint blue fruit, dark chocolate and some new wood. It's full-bodied with very nice aroma replays. Balanced acids. Firm tannins should allow this wine to age gracefully for a number of years. Dark chocolate and peppery notes round out the long finish. Blend of Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon. Score: 90 pts

PondView Bella Terra Meritage 2012 - Unfiltered, VQA Four Mile Creek, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (90 pts)Pondview Bella Terra Cabernet Franc 2012 - Unfiltered, VQA Four Mile Creek, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (90 pts)

PONDVIEW BELLA TERRA CABERNET FRANC 2012 - Unfiltered, VQA Four Mile Creek, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $39.95
Aromas of medium intensity with lots of herbal spice notes followed by oak and black cherry that also follow through on the medium-to-full bodied palate. Hint of greenness on the flavour profile. Very good length on the finish. Age this 3-5 years to let the firm, drying tannins settle in. Score: 90 pts

Rancourt Chardonnay 2013 - VQA Niagara Lakeshore, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (86 pts)

RANCOURT CHARDONNAY 2013 - VQA Niagara Lakeshore, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (D) - $14
This unoaked Chardonnay has a medium intensity nose of candied lemon and lime, plus some buttery aromas that also make an appearance on the medium-bodied palate. It has a creamy mouthfeel with good acids and decent length on the finish. Easy drinking, crowd pleaser. Score: 86 pts

INNISKILLIN RESERVE SAUVIGNON BLANC 2014 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $19.95
Inviting and complex nose of medium+ intensity with notions grass, kiwi, hay, white fruit and spring flower. The aroma profile, led by grassy notes, continues on the medium-bodied palate and joined by elegant cat pee flavours. It has balanced acidity and finishes long with slight green notes. Restrained and elegant in style, this is quite a fine Ontario Sauvignon Blanc indeed. Score: 89 pts

Inniskillin Reserve Sauvignon Blanc 2014 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (89 pts)Inniskillin Montague Vineyard Chardonnay 2013 - VQA Four Mile Creek, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (88 pts)

INNISKILLIN MONTAGUE VINEYARD CHARDONNAY 2013 - VQA Four Mile Creek, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#586347) (XD) - $24.95
9 months in new French oak, this white wine is somewhat shy but exhibited vanilla, ripe pear, apple, butter and some toasted oak aromas. It's creamy on the full-bodied with elegant, pleasing aroma replays along with hints of butterscotch. Balanced acids and good length on the finish, I expect this to improve with air. Score: 88 pts

Inniskillin Reserve Shiraz Cabernet 2013 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (90 pts)

INNISKILLIN RESERVE SHIRAZ CABERNET 2013 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#225482) (XD) - $24.95
Medium-high aromatics showing currant, black fruits, dark berry and cedar oak. Full-bodied on the palate with very fine, well-knit aroma replays. Shows finesse with smooth, velvety tannins, balanced acids and excellent length on the finish. Excellent balance overall. Drink now or over the next 5-7 years. Score: 90 pts

INNISKILLIN RIESLING ICEWINE 2014 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#558288) (S) (375 mL) - $79.95
Elegant and highly aromatic nose of peach, citrus and honey aromas waft from the glass. On the palate, it's medium+ bodied with very sweet aroma replays that are nicely balanced by finely tuned acids. Excellent balance overall, while the finish length is also excellent. Class-leading Icewine! Score: 92 pts

Inniskillin Riesling Icewine 2014 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (92 pts)Inniskillin Oak Aged Gold Vidal Icewine 2013 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (89 pts)

INNISKILLIN OAK AGED GOLD VIDAL ICEWINE 2013 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#019083) (S) (375 mL) - $89.95
4 months in French oak. This highly aromatic wine offers harmonious apricot, peach, and honey aromas on a full-bodied palate with interesting baked apple and poached pear flavours. It's very sweet, with just enough acidity to keep the wine from being cloying. Smooth and with a very long finish. Score: 89 pts


Monday, March 14, 2016

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  • Monday, March 14, 2016

La Crema Pinot Noir 2013 (Sonoma) - Wine Review

wine is a follow-up to the lovely 2014 La Crema Pinot Noir that I enjoyed last week.

This red wine will be on LCBO shelves this coming as part of the VINTAGES Release.

It was interesting to taste the 2013 and 2014 back-to-back. The style is essentially the same, but you can see that the 2013 has had some evolution in the bottle with the softer, rounder tannins.

La Crema Pinot Noir 2013 - Sonoma Coast, California, USA (88 pts)

Tasting Note:

LA CREMA PINOT NOIR 2013 - Sonoma Coast, California, USA (#719435) (XD) - $31.95
Wood and intriguing potpourri aromas from the cork. Soft, medium intensity nose of cherry, cedar, earth and some sour fruited tones. The palate is medium-bodied with sweet, ripe red fruits, cedar wood, earth and hints of cocoa that linger on the long finish. Some dried herb notes emerge with time in the glass. Well-balanced overall with good acidity and dusty tannins that are soft and nicely integrated. Enjoy over the next couple of years. Score: 88 pts

The 375 mL half-size bottle (#732040, $17.95) will also be available on LCBO VINTAGES shelves on .


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  • Monday, March 14, 2016

March 19 VINTAGES Release: Italy + Israel + Easter

LCBO Wine Picks from March 19, 2016 VINTAGES Release
The upcoming LCBO VINTAGES Release will be on shelves this and features classic wines from Italy as its main feature. The mini-theme features wines from Israel, while the Ontario theme features wines for .

For the second consecutive release, Italy is one of the feature themes. This time, there are quite a few amazing wines that wine enthusiasts should seek out, wallet-permitting. Out of the 23 Italian wines featured, 5 are included among my wine picks. The lone white wine is made from the indigenous Greco grape varietal by Terredora di Paolo and is a favourite of mine year-after-year. The Ornellaia is a blend of 56% Cabernet Sauvignon, 27% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc and 7% Petit Verdot, while the Quintarelli is a ripasso-style of wine consisting of 55% Corvina and Corvinone, 30% Rondinella, 15% Cabernet Sauvignon, and trace amounts of Nebbiolo, Croatina, and Sangiovese. Last, but definitely not least, both the Brunello and the Chianti are 100% Sangiovese.

Donatella Cinelli Colombini Brunello di Montalcino 2008 - DOCG, Tuscany, Italy (92 pts)Terredora di Paolo Loggia Della Serra Greco di Tufo 2014 - DOCG, Campania, Italy (90 pts)

Wines from Israel were included in this release due to upcoming Purim and Passover celebrations. However, I didn't find much value in this section.

Of the 6 Ontario wines for Easter, two are included among my wine picks. Enjoy Easter appetizers or dinner with Cave Spring's (lightly-oaked) Chardonnay, while finishing off celebrations with Inniskillin's amazing Riesling Icewine.

Inniskillin Riesling Icewine 2014 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (92 pts)

From the rest of the release, among my red wine recommendations is the Mondeco Red that is a blend of 30% Tinta Roriz (Tempranillo), 25% Touriga Nacional, 20% Alfrocheiro, 15% Jaen, and 10% Baga. From Spain, the mature Monasterio de las Viñas Reserva is a blend of 70% Garnacha, 20% Tempranillo, and 10% Carinena, while the Viña los Valles is a 70/30 blend of Tempranillo and Graciano. Lastly, the 2005 Château Coufran is a blend of 85% Merlot and 15% Cabernet Sauvignon from vines that are 50 years old.

For lovers of sweeter wines, look for the off-dry (i.e. slightly sweet) Charles Baker Riesling or the medium sweet Tawse Riesling. Want more sweet? Look for Cave Spring Late Harvest Riesling.

Enjoy my wine recommendations for this release. Salute!

Red Wine:

  • MONDECO RED 2010 - DO Dão, Portugal (#442210) (XD) - $13.95
  • MONASTERIO DE LAS VIÑAS RESERVA 2006 - DO Cariñena, Spain (#166579) (XD) - $14.95
  • ANTU SYRAH 2014 - Colchagua Valley, Chile (#675371) (D) - $17.95
  • SUSANA BALBO SIGNATURE CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2013 - Uco Valley, Mendoza, Argentina (#260919) (D) - $19.95
  • VIÑA LOS VALLES TEMPRANILLO/GRACIANO CRIANZA 2010 - DOCa Rioja, Spain (#438721) (XD) - $19.95
  • RUSTENBERG BUZZARD KLOOF SYRAH 2011 - WO Simonsberg-Stellenbosch, South Africa (#414151) (XD) - $24.95
  • IL MOLINO DI GRACE IL MARGONE GRAN SELEZIONE CHIANTI CLASSICO 2010 - DOCG, Tuscany, Italy (#435115) (XD) - $39.95
  • DONATELLA CINELLI COLOMBINI BRUNELLO DI MONTALCINO 2008 - DOCG, Tuscany, Italy (#113357) (XD) - $44.95  reviewed here
  • CHÂTEAU COUFRAN 2005 - AC Haut-Médoc, Bordeaux, France (#446666) (XD) - $56.95
  • GIUSEPPE QUINTARELLI ROSSO CA’ DEL MERLO 2007 - IGT Veneto, Italy (#958595) (D) - $99.95
  • ORNELLAIA 2012 - DOC Bolgheri Superiore, Tuscany, Italy (#722470) (D) - $195.95

White Wine:

  • VINUM AFRICA CHENIN BLANC 2013 - WO Stellenbosch, South Africa (#739995) (XD) - $15.95
  • TAWSE SKETCHES OF NIAGARA RIESLING 2014 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#089029) (M) - $17.95
  • CAVE SPRING ESTATE BOTTLED CHARDONNAY 2013 - Cave Spring Vineyard, VQA Beamsville Bench, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#256552) (XD) - $18.95
  • GARCÉS SILVA AMAYNA BARREL FERMENTED SAUVIGNON BLANC 2010 - Leyda Valley, Chile (#143511) (XD) - $19.95  FSE
  • TERREDORA DI PAOLO LOGGIA DELLA SERRA GRECO DI TUFO 2014 - DOCG, Campania, Italy (#983197) (XD) - $19.95  reviewed here
  • CULMINA DECORA RIESLING 2014 - BC VQA Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, Canada (#444836) (XD) - $24.95
  • CLOS HENRI SAUVIGNON BLANC 2013 - Marlborough, South Island, New Zealand (#675629) (XD) - $28.95
  • CHARLES BAKER PICONE VINEYARD RIESLING 2012 - VQA Vinemount Ridge, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#241182) (D) - $35.20

Dessert Wine:

  • CAVE SPRING INDIAN SUMMER SELECT LATE HARVEST RIESLING 2013 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#415901) (S) (375 mL) - $24.95
  • INNISKILLIN RIESLING ICEWINE 2014 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#558288) (S) (375 mL) - $79.95  reviewed here


Thursday, March 10, 2016

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  • Thursday, March 10, 2016

La Crema Pinot Noir 2014 (Sonoma) - Wine Review

wine is a sneak preview of a wine that will be released in LCBO VINTAGES later this year in Fall/Winter 2016.

La Crema was founded in 1979 and was family-owned and operated while concentrating on cool-climate appellations. The winery emphasizes boutique, small-batch winemaking with a commitment to sustainability and a philosophy of gentle handling of fruit to produce elegant and quality wines.

The winery's commitment to sustainability in the vineyard includes the use of sustainable farming techniques, being water wise, and the use of natural predators and the introduction of insects to reduce the need for pesticides. In the winery, energy comes from a photovoltaic (PV) solar array, as well as the use of Tesla batteries to reduce La Crema's use of electricity from the grid during peak times. Furthermore, water conservation and reuse in a closed loop systems helps reduce the amount of water that is used.

Surprisingly, there is a Canadian connection to this Sonoma-based winery. Elizabeth Grant-Douglas was born and educated in Canada and has been part of the La Crema team since 2001, eventually becoming head winemaker in 2010.

La Crema Pinot Noir 2014 - Sonoma Coast, California, USA (89 pts)

Tasting Note:

LA CREMA PINOT NOIR 2014 - Sonoma Coast, California, USA (#719435) (XD) - $31.95
Cherry, strawberry and wood aromas from the cork. Medium+ intensity aromas of tilled earth, dried spice, dark cherry and whiffs of olive. It's light-to-medium bodied with black cherry, tea leaf, strawberry, earth and some spice flavours framed by juicy acids. Tannins are light and supple. Dark fruits, vanilla and wood notes linger on the long finish. Enjoy this yummy Pinot over the next 2-3 years. Score: 89 pts

This wine should also be available in 1/2 bottle size format (#732040) for $17.95.


Friday, March 4, 2016

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  • Friday, March 4, 2016

Nals Margreid Baron Salvadori Riserva Chardonnay 2012 (Alto Adige) - Wine Review

wine is a delightful follow-up to the 2013 Nals Margreid Pinot Noir that I opened up in January. From Winery Nals Margreid top-of-the-line Baron Salvadori Selection series, the grapes for this Chardonnay come from the Margreid Vineyard in the lower west part of the valley. It has limestone gravel soils and was aged in 12 months tonneaux large casks.

This opulent and rich white wine is from the VINTAGES Release (tomorrow) and will be available in very limited quantities at VINTAGES Flagship Stores.

Nals Margreid Baron Salvadori Riserva Chardonnay 2012 - DOC Südtirol/Alto Adige, Italy (90+ pts)

Tasting Note:

NALS MARGREID BARON SALVADORI RISERVA CHARDONNAY 2012 - DOC Südtirol/Alto Adige, Italy (#435404) (XD) - $34.95
Peach and citrus with sweet vanilla aromas from the cork. Highly aromatic and inviting nose of pineapple, coconut, butterscotch, vanilla and hints of poached pear. Also just a touch reductive on the nose. On the full-bodied palate, it is rich and creamy with apple, nut and toasted oak flavours framed by bright and juicy acids. The dry, caramel-tinged finish lingers for quite a while. Score: 90+ pts


Thursday, March 3, 2016

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  • Thursday, March 3, 2016

March 5 VINTAGES Release: Classic California + 2010 Brunello

LCBO Wine Picks from March 5, 2016 VINTAGES Release
The upcoming VINTAGES Release features classic, collectible wines from California as its main theme, while the small secondary thematic highlights Brunello's from the great 2010 vintage.

From the main theme, 3 of the 13 wines from California made my list of wine picks. Among them them is a Cali Cabernet Sauvignon from the Mount Veeder AVA, as well as the Jonata Red that is a blend of 75% Syrah, 13% Cabernet Sauvignon, 4% Grenache, 4% Sangiovese, 2% Viognier, 1% Petit Verdot and 1% Merlot. The final wine pick is one of only two white wines featured from California and is an exquisite Chardonnay from California's unofficial of king of Chardonnay, Steve Kistler.

Based on the 2010 vintage in Brunello di Montalcino being hailed as the best of the century, I can only presume most of the 2010's are either already sold out or still maturing in barrels as only 6 Brunello's made it across the Atlantic. Both of the Brunello wines included among my wine picks are made from Sangiovese grapes, and one of these wines is in Magnum (1500 mL) format.

Abad Dom Bueno Crianza 2006 - DO Bierzo, Spain (90 pts)Rioja Bordón Reserva 2009 - DOCa Rioja, Spain (88 pts)

Among my red wine picks is a terrific Mencía from Bierzo, while the Rioja is a blend of Tempranillo, Graciano and Mazuelo. From Rhône, the half-size bottle of the CdP consists of Grenache, Mourvèdre, and Syrah, while the Xavier Côtes du Rhône is a blend of 40% Grenache, 20% Syrah, 15% Mourvèdre and the rest Cinsault, Carignan and Marselan.

Nals Margreid Baron Salvadori Riserva Chardonnay 2012 - DOC Südtirol / Alto Adige, Italy (90+ pts)

In white wines, the Sancerre is 100% Sauvignon Blanc, while the Lafage Centenaire is an 80/20 blend of Grenache Blanc and Roussanne. The Chardonnays all have some oak treatment. If you like sweet wines, there is a nice medium sweet German Riesling.

That's it for this release. Enjoy my wine recommendations and Cheers!

Red Wine:

  • ABAD DOM BUENO CRIANZA 2006 - DO Bierzo, Spain (#244699) (XD) - $15.95  reviewed here
  • XAVIER 100% CÔTES DU RHÔNE 2012 - AP, Rhône, France (#437079) (XD) - $17.00
  • RIOJA BORDÓN RESERVA 2009 - DOCa Rioja, Spain (#194753) (XD) - $19.95  reviewed here
  • FALERNIA RESERVA SYRAH 2013 - Elqui Valley, Chile (#208371) (D) - $19.95
  • FAMILLE PERRIN LES SINARDS CHÂTEAUNEUF-DU-PAPE 2013 - AC, Rhône, France (#005975) (XD) (375 mL) - $19.95
  • BRANDLIN ESTATE CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2012 - Mount Veeder, Napa Valley, California, USA (#340513) (D) - $54.95
  • MOLINO DI SANT’ANTIMO PAOLUS BRUNELLO DI MONTALCINO 2010 - DOCG, Tuscany, Italy (#339515) (XD) - $56.95
  • JONATA TODOS RED 2011 - Santa Ynez Valley, Santa Barbara County, California, USA (#218941) (XD) - $79.95
  • MASI MAZZANO AMARONE DELLA VALPOLICELLA CLASSICO 2009 - DOC, Veneto, Italy (#215764) (D) - $101.95
  • CATENA ZAPATA ARGENTINO MALBEC 2011 - Mendoza, Argentina (#170035) (D) - $110.95  FSE
  • MARCHESI DE’FRESCOBALDI CASTELGIOCONDO BRUNELLO DI MONTALCINO 2010 - DOCG, Tuscany, Italy (#963371) (XD) (1500 mL) - $113.95

White Wine:

  • PENINSULA RIDGE BARREL AGED CHARDONNAY 2014 - VQA Beamsville Bench, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#211490) (XD) - $15.95
  • KEW VINEYARDS OLD VINE CHARDONNAY 2012 - VQA Beamsville Bench, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#438374) (XD) - $18.95
  • ST. URBANS-HOF NIK WEIS SELECTION URBAN RIESLING 2014 - Mosel, Germany (#184051) (M) - $18.95
  • WILLIAM FÈVRE ESPINO GRAN CUVÉE CHARDONNAY 2013 - Maipo Valley, Chile (#045146) (XD) - $18.95
  • DOMAINE LAFAGE CUVÉE CENTENAIRE 2014 - AC Côtes du Roussillon, Midi, France (#343491) (XD) - $19.95
  • DOMAINE LE VERGER CHABLIS 2014 - AC, Burgundy, France (#181289) (XD) - $22.95
  • JEAN-MAX ROGER CUVÉE LES CAILLOTTES SANCERRE 2014 - AC, Loire, France (#065573) (XD) - $27.95
  • NALS MARGREID BARON SALVADORI RISERVA CHARDONNAY 2012 - DOC Südtirol/Alto Adige, Italy (#435404) (XD) - $34.95  FSE  reviewed here
  • KISTLER MCCREA VINEYARD CHARDONNAY 2013 - Sonoma Mountain, California, USA (#353706) (D) - $120.95

Sparkling Wine:

  • HENRIOT SOUVERAIN BRUT CHAMPAGNE - AC, Champagne, France (#959643) (XD) - $62.95


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