Sunday, December 10, 2017

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  • Sunday, December 10, 2017

Darting Dürkheimer Nonnengarten Gewürztraminer Kabinett 2015 (Pfalz) - Wine Review



Opened up this delightful, pretty, and food-friendly wine from Germany last . This sweet white wine was purchased from the VINTAGES Release and plenty of bottles are still available at LCBO outlets across Ontario.

Darting Dürkheimer Nonnengarten Gewürztraminer Kabinett 2015 (88+ pts)

Tasting Note:

DARTING DÜRKHEIMER NONNENGARTEN GEWÜRZTRAMINER KABINETT 2015 - Prädikatswein, Pfalz, Germany (#944181) (S) - $19.95
Screw cap. This has a pretty medium+ intensity nose of lychee, rose, candied ginger, orange blossom and apricots, with a touch of leesy character. The palate is lively and sweet with bright, clean acids and very nice aroma replays. Sweet flavours continue on the juicy finish, with good length. Ideal for spicy dishes. Score: 88+ pts


Friday, December 8, 2017

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  • Friday, December 8, 2017

Karlo Cabernet Franc 2015 (Ontario) - Wine Review

wine review is this lovely Karlo Estates Cabernet Franc from Prince Edward County that was made by the renowned winemaker Derek Barnett, formerly of Lailey Winery. This Ontario Cab Franc is available at the LCBO and included as part of the VINTAGES Release. It is available only at Flagship Store locations and in very limited quantities. It is also sold out at the winery.

The fascinating history of Karlo Estates begins in the late 1700's, when Peter Van Alstine, a British Loyalist Officer, was given acreage of the land in Prince Edward County by the King of England after the American Civil War. Peter is most famous for building the Glenora Ferry which has been operating now for over 200 years. He was also the first individual to "officially own" the land where Karlo Estates exists today.

In the early 1800's, the land was transferred to the Stevenson family. They built the first homestead on the land, which can still be seen on Danforth Road just east of their carriage house. I was in The County in October, but missed visiting Karlo Estates (didn't have enough time) - but I will be sure to check this out on my next visit to this exciting wine region.

Sherry co-founded the winery with her late husband Richard Karlo after purchasing the property from the Stevenson family in 2005. The property consists of 93 acres, with 14 acres planted to vines beginning in 2006.

The talented Derek Barnett became winemaker at Karlo Estates in 2015. This Cabernet Franc is the first vintage where he had full control - from winegrowing, to harvest, and vinification. He has said this is the best Cabernet Franc he has ever made. I tasted a barrel sample of this lovely wine back in , so I am curious to see how it has developed with a further 8 months under its belt.

Karlo Cabernet Franc 2015 (90 pts)

Tasting Note:

KARLO CABERNET FRANC 2015 - VQA Prince Edward County, Ontario, Canada (#524389) (XD) - $39.00
Wild fermented with indigenous yeast and aged approximately 15 months in barrel. Vegan certified. Earthy cherry and black plum aromas from the cork. This is a nice, cool-climate Cabernet Franc showing richly dark fruited aromas with lovely cigar box, earth, black plum, and sandalwood aromas with minimal herbally notes of medium+ intensity and opens up quite nicely with air. It's light-to-medium bodied on the palate with vibrant, juicy acids and a touch warming on the mid-palate. Cran-cherry-raspberry flavours mingle with sandalwood, earth, and touches of currant and minerals. Tannins could use another year or so to soften. Nice cigar box and curranty-cherry notes linger on the long finish. I really like the fine cigar box notes found throughout - very compelling! Enjoy over the next 3-4 years. Score: 90 pts


Tuesday, December 5, 2017

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  • Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Tessellae Old Vines Grenache/Syrah/Mourvèdre Côtes du Roussillon 2015 (Midi) - Wine Review

I opened up this delightful red blend from the Roussillon on night. This was purchased from the recent VINTAGES Release and is still widely available at LCBO outlets across Ontario. This red wine is made by the famed house of Domaine Lafage.

Tessellae Old Vines Grenache/Syrah/Mourvèdre Côtes du Roussillon 2015 (88 pts)

Tasting Note:

TESSELLAE OLD VINES GRENACHE/SYRAH/MOURVÈDRE CÔTES DU ROUSSILLON 2015 - AC, Midi, France (#343517) (XD) - $18.95
From vines more than 65 years old on schist soils, this is a blend of 50% Grenache, 40% Syrah and 10% Mourvèdre that was tank-fermented and followed by aging in concrete tanks. Red and black fruit notes, plus some dark plum aromas from the cork. In the glass, this has a medium+ intensity nose leads with flinty minerality and is layered with red and black fruits, white pepper, wild herbs, and hints of black plum and evergreen. It's medium-full bodied on the palate with ripe fruited, peppery, dark berry, and black plum, with good fruit purity and concentration. Acids are bright and zesty. Suave tannins provide subtle grip. Some bitterness mid palate. Juicy finish with good length. Drink over the next 4-5 years. Score: 88 pts


Monday, December 4, 2017

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  • Monday, December 4, 2017

VINTAGES Release Dec. 9, 2017: Wines for Fêtes & Feasts + Bubblies

LCBO Wine Picks from December 9, 2017 VINTAGES Release
The upcoming VINTAGES Release is the last (and largest) release of 2017 and features Fine Wines for Fêtes & Feasts as its main theme. The mini-theme in this release features some very fine bubblies for festive occasions such as ringing in the New Year. All of these wines will be on LCBO VINTAGES shelves across Ontario this .

We'll begin with the feature listing fine wines for fêtes & feasts, which focuses on wines for holiday get-togethers. Of the eighteen wines listed, just two are included among my wine picks. The red wine is from Gérard Bertrand and is made with 40% Grenache, 30% Syrah, and 30% Mourvèdre, while the white wine is a Premier Cru Chablis (Chardonnay) from Burgundy.

From the bubblies mini-thematic which is composed of ten Champagnes, five are included among my top wine recommendations. The Cristal is a blend of 60% Pinot Noir and 40% Chardonnay, while the Nicolas Feuillatte is blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. The HBH is equal parts Pinot Noir and Chardonnay and aged at least 10 years on their sides. The Moët & Chandon is the 72nd vintage of this Champagne and this latest incarnation is composed of 40% Chardonnay, 37% Pinot Noir and 23% Pinot Meunier. Lastly, the Rosé Champagne is a blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Meunier and Pinot Noir that was vinified as a red wine.

Ornellaia 2014 (94 pts)Faustino I Gran Reserva 1994 (91 pts)

In red wines from the rest of the release, there are a pair of nice Portuguese reds - the DAC Tinto is a blend of 30% Tinta Roriz (Tempranillo), 30% Touriga Nacional, 20% Alfrocheiro, and 20% Jaen, while the Quadrus is a blend of Touriga Nacional, Tinta Roriz and Souzao. From Rhône, a pair of wines from the excellent 2015 vintage include the Les Grands Bois, which is a blend of 60% Grenache, 30% Syrah, and 10% Carignan, while the Chateauneuf-du-Pape is a blend of 75% Grenache, 10% Syrah, 10% Mourvèdre, and 5% Cinsault. The Elderton from Australia is a blend of 56% Cabernet Sauvignon, 37% Shiraz, and 7% Merlot, while the 1994 Spanish red is a blend of 85% Tempranillo, 10% Graciano, and 5% Mazuelo. The blockbuster Joseph Phelps Cabernet Sauvignon also includes 8% Merlot, 4% Petit Verdot, 2% Malbec, and 2% Cabernet Franc. Lastly, the pair of Bolgheri's are the Antinori, which contains Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Cabernet Franc, and the stellar Ornellaia that is a blend of 34% Cabernet Sauvignon, 32% Merlot, 15% Cabernet Franc, and 20% Petit Verdot.

Quadrus Reserva 2011 (90+ pts)Megalomaniac Narcissist Riesling 2016 (88 pts)

For sweet wine lovers, you'll want to look at either Riesling from Ontario or the Gewürztraminer from British Columbia as all three wines are mildly sweet. For very sweet wines, check out the Riesling Spätlese from Germany or the Tokaji from Hungary.

Enjoy my top wine recommendations from this release! Happy holidays!

Red Wine:

  • GÉRARD BERTRAND GRENACHE / SYRAH / MOURVÈDRE CORBIÈRES 2014 - AP, Midi, France (#394288) (D) - $16.95
  • DAC TINTO 2014 - DO Dão, Portugal (#523589) (XD) - $16.95
  • DOMAINE LES GRANDS BOIS CUVÉE LES TROIS SOEURS CÔTES DU RHÔNE 2015 - AP, Rhône, France (#281147) (XD) - $16.95
  • DELHEIM SHIRAZ 2013 - WO Stellenbosch, South Africa (#959080) (XD) - $17.95
  • TERRAZAS DE LOS ANDES RESERVA MALBEC 2015 - Mendoza, Argentina (#029280) (XD) - $19.95
  • FEUDO MONTONI LAGNUSA NERO D’AVOLA 2014 - DOC Sicilia, Italy (#523738) (XD) - $22.95
  • GEMTREE UNCUT SHIRAZ 2015 - McLaren Vale, South Australia (#627844) (XD) - $28.95

  • QUADRUS RESERVA 2011 - DOC Douro, Portugal (#534271) (XD) - $30.95  90+ pts  wine review
  • ELDERTON ODE TO LORRAINE 2014 - Barossa Valley, South Australia (#976423) (XD) - $39.95
  • ASCHERI BAROLO 2012 - DOCG, Piedmont, Italy (#496851) (XD) - $49.95
  • LE VIEUX DONJON CHÂTEAUNEUF-DU-PAPE 2015 - AC, Rhône, France (#700922) (XD) - $65.95
  • FAUSTINO I GRAN RESERVA 1994 - DOCa Rioja, Spain (#929489) (XD) - $68.95  91 pts  wine review
  • ANTINORI GUADO AL TASSO 2014 - DOC Bolgheri Superiore, Tuscany, Italy (#986380) (XD) - $109.95
  • JOSEPH PHELPS CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2014 - Napa Valley, California, USA (#189795) (D) - $114.95
  • ORNELLAIA 2014 - DOC Bolgheri Superiore, Tuscany, Italy (#722470) (XD) - $199.95  94 pts  wine review

White Wine:

  • CANTINA GALLURA PIRAS VERMENTINO DI GALLURA 2015 - DOCG, Sardinia, Italy (#511485) (XD) - $15.95
  • LA FORTEZZA TABURNO FALANGHINA DEL SANNIO 2016 - DOC, Campania, Italy (#527630) (XD) - $16.95
  • MEGALOMANIAC NARCISSIST RIESLING 2016 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#067587) (D) - $18.95  88 pts  wine review
  • DIRTY LAUNDRY THREADBARE VINES GEWURZTRAMINER 2015 - BC VQA Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, Canada (#514992) (D) - $19.95
  • FAMILIA ZUCCARDI Q CHARDONNAY 2016 - Tupungato, Uco Valley, Mendoza, Argentina (#232702) (XD) - $19.95
  • VALTEA ALBARIÑO 2016 - DO Rías Baixas, Spain (#518019) (XD) - $22.95
  • CHARLES BAKER IVAN VINEYARD RIESLING 2016 - VQA Twenty Mile Bench, Niagara Escarpment, Ontario, Canada (#395921) (D) - $27.20  FSE
  • JEAN-MAX ROGER CUVÉE LES CAILLOTTES SANCERRE 2016 - AC, Loire, France (#065573) (XD) - $27.95
  • STUDERT-PRÜM WEHLENER SONNENUHR RIESLING SPÄTLESE 2016 - Prädikatswein, Mosel, Germany (#912659) (S) - $27.95
  • DOMAINE DE LA MOTTE BEAUROY CHABLIS 1ER CRU 2015 - AC, Burgundy, France (#524306) (XD) - $42.95
  • PATZ & HALL CHARDONNAY 2015 - Sonoma Coast, California, USA (#200808) (XD) - $64.95  FSE

Sparkling Wine:

  • LABOURÉ-GONTARD BRUT CRÉMANT DE BOURGOGNE - Traditional method, AC, Burgundy, France (#401018) (XD) - $20.95
  • NICOLAS FEUILLATTE BRUT CHAMPAGNE 2008 - AC, France (#240085) (D) - $56.95
  • LOUIS BROCHET HBH 1ER CRU CHAMPAGNE 2002 - AC, France (#385815) (XD) - $69.95
  • MOËT & CHANDON GRAND VINTAGE BRUT CHAMPAGNE 2008 - AC, France (#069773) (XD) - $92.95
  • BILLECART-SALMON BRUT ROSÉ CHAMPAGNE - AC, France (#724559) (XD) - $109.95
  • CRISTAL BRUT CHAMPAGNE 2009 - AC, France (#268755) (XD) - $304.95

Fortified:

  • SANDEMAN 20-YEAR-OLD TAWNY PORT - DOP, Portugal (#116178) (S) - $64.95  91+ pts  wine review
  • WARRE’S QUINTA DA CAVADINHA VINTAGE PORT 2004 - Bottled 2006, DOP, Portugal (#189605) (S) - $54.95
Sandeman 20-Year-Old Tawny Port (91+ pts)

Dessert Wine:

  • ROYAL TOKAJI LATE HARVEST TOKAJI 2015 - Tokaj-Hegyalja, Hungary (#517375) (S) (500 mL) - $19.95


Friday, November 24, 2017

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  • Friday, November 24, 2017

Pillitteri Cabernet Franc 2012 (Niagara) - Wine Review (Bottle 2)

wine is the second bottle I have of this yummy Ontario Cabernet Franc. I last tasted (and enjoyed) the 2012 Pillitteri Cabernet Franc back in .

The 2012 vintage across Niagara was very good across all regions with a relatively mild winter and early spring, followed by warmer and drier conditions than normal during the growing season. It continued to be hot and dry during the summer months, right up until harvest season in September. All of this resulted in very good conditions for winegrowing for all grapes, but especially Bordeaux varietals such as Cabernet Franc.

I am curious to see how this 2012 Cabernet Franc has developed in bottle the last couple of years. Of course, the 2012 would be sold out by now, but you can pick up the 2013 by visiting Pillitteri Estates Winery in Niagara-on-the-Lake or purchasing it online through their web store.

Pillitteri Cabernet Franc 2012 (88 pts)

Tasting Note:

PILLITTERI CABERNET FRANC 2012 - VQA Niagara-on-the-Lake, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $23.20
Dark plum and dark berry aromas with hints of earth from the cork. In the glass, this offers subtle nuances of red and black fruits, green herbs, dark currants and savoury earthiness. It is medium-bodied on the palate with the fruit starting to dry out with dried cherry and sweet tobacco flavours. Tannins have softened but give off a very chalky mouthfeel. Acids are still very good. Nice dried cherry and floral characters from the mid-palate and continue through to the earthy finish. Decant and drink now. Score: 88 pts


Monday, November 20, 2017

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  • Monday, November 20, 2017

VINTAGES Release Nov. 25, 2017: California Wines for Holiday Wish Lists

LCBO Wine Picks from November 25, 2017 VINTAGES Release
The next release into LCBO VINTAGES on is a mono-thematic release featuring top California wines for holiday wish lists. All of these wines will be on LCBO VINTAGES shelves across Ontario this coming . This is the second to last release of 2017, and it's a thick one, so you'll want to begin stocking up for the holidays from this release and the past few releases in October and November.

We'll begin with the main theme that features top wines from California. Most of the seventeen wines listed in this thematic will provide enjoyment, but I have limited my selection to four top wines. This includes the mountain vineyard blend from The Hess Collection which contains 61% Malbec, 33% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 6% Petit Verdot/Syrah, while the flagship wine from Stags' Leap is made with 100% Cabernet Sauvignon. In white wines from California, the Grgich Chardonnay is always delicious every year, while the Kistler Chardonnay comes from their mountain vineyards that range in elevation from 800 to 1700 feet above sea level.

Grgich Hills Estate Chardonnay 2013 (92 pts)

From my red wine picks from the rest of this release, the Crianza is made with 100% Tempranillo, while the Faithful Hound from South Africa is faithfully made with 32% Cabernet Franc, 26% Cabernet Sauvignon, 19% Merlot, 16% Malbec, and 7% Petit Verdot. The Chianti Classico is also a blend and consists of 80% Sangiovese, 10% Colorino, and 10% Pugnitello. From France there are a pair of GSM-blends - the La Ferme du Mont wine is composed of 60% Grenache, 30% Syrah, and 10% Mourvèdre, while the Tessellae Old Vines is made with 50% Grenache, 40% Syrah and 10% Mourvèdre. Also from France, the Crozes-Hermitage is 100% Syrah, while the "Vin de France" Xavier wine from Rhône consists of almost 100% Mourvèdre. On the local front, the Stratus Red is predominantly Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc, with Syrah, Sangiovese, Malbec, and Tannat added to complete the final blend.

San Felice Chianti Classico 2015 (88+ pts)La Ferme Du Mont Première Côte Côtes du Rhône 2015 (88+ pts)

Among my white wine picks, the Antinori white from Umbria and the Montagny from Burgundy are both made with Chardonnay. For sweet wine lovers, you should pick up any of the Rieslings from either Ontario or Germany.

Henri de Villamont Montagny 1er Cru 2014 (91 pts)Fritz Willi Friedrich-Wilhelm-Gymnasium Riesling Feinherb 2015 (89 pts)

The sparkling wines found among my wine recommendations are all on the dry side. The Desiderius Pongrácz Sparkling Wine and the Drappier Champagne are both blends of 60% Pinot Noir and 40% Chardonnay, while the Moët & Chandon Rosé Champagne is a blend of 46% Pinot Noir (of which 20% is red wine), 32% Chardonnay, and 22% Pinot Meunier. Meanwhile, the Cuvée Catharine Blanc de Blanc is made with 100% Chardonnay.

Henry of Pelham Cuvée Catharine Carte Blanche Estate Blanc de Blanc 2012 (91 pts)

Enjoy my top wine picks from this Release! Cheers!

Red Wine:

  • VIÑA OLABARRI CRIANZA 2013 - DOCa Rioja, Spain (#461277) (XD) - $14.95
  • LA FERME DU MONT PREMIÈRE CÔTE CÔTES DU RHÔNE 2015 - Unfiltered, AP, France (#251645) (XD) - $17.95  88+ pts  reviewed here
  • TESSELLAE OLD VINES GRENACHE/SYRAH/MOURVÈDRE CÔTES DU ROUSSILLON 2015 - AC, Midi, France (#343517) (XD) - $18.95
  • SAN FELICE CHIANTI CLASSICO 2015 - DOCG, Tuscany, Italy (#282996) (XD) - $19.95  88+ pts  reviewed here
  • ZUCCARDI Q CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2013 - Gualtallary & La Consulta, Uco Valley, Mendoza, Argentina (#140855) (XD) - $19.95
  • MULDERBOSCH FAITHFUL HOUND 2014 - WO Western Cape, South Africa (#922443) (XD) - $20.95
  • CAVE DE TAIN GRAND CLASSIQUE CROZES-HERMITAGE 2015 - AC, Rhône, France (#572230) (D) - $23.95

  • XAVIER ARCANE XV LE DIABLE 2015 - Vin de France, Rhône, France (#526301) (XD) - $29.95
  • STRATUS RED 2013 - VQA Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada (#131037) (XD) - $48.20
  • DOMAINE DROUHIN OREGON PINOT NOIR 2014 - Dundee Hills, Oregon, USA (#961284) (XD) - $49.95  91 pts  reviewed here
  • THE HESS COLLECTION 19 BLOCK MOUNTAIN CUVÉE 2013 - Mount Veeder, Napa Valley, California, USA (#018879) (D) - $54.95
  • CA’ ROMÉ ROMANO MARENGO CERRETTA BAROLO 2011 - DOCG, Piedmont, Italy (#000455) (XD) - $71.95
  • FUMANELLI AMARONE DELLA VALPOLICELLA CLASSICO 2011 - DOCG, Veneto, Italy (#475053) (XD) - $72.95  92 pts  reviewed here
  • STAGS’ LEAP ESTATE THE LEAP CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2013 - Stags Leap District, Napa Valley, California, USA (#142844) (XD) - $99.95
Domaine Drouhin Oregon Pinot Noir 2014 (91 pts)

White Wine:

  • FAZIO AEGADES GRILLO 2015 - DOC Erice, Sicily, Italy (#388637) (XD) - $17.95
  • TAWSE SKETCHES OF NIAGARA RIESLING 2015 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#089029) (M) - $18.95
  • LAURENZ V. FRIENDLY GRÜNER VELTLINER 2015 - DAC Kamptal, Austria (#066225) (XD) - $19.95
  • CONCHA Y TORO MARQUÉS DE CASA CONCHA CHARDONNAY 2015 - Limarí Valley, Chile (#342857) (XD) - $19.95  89 pts  reviewed here
  • FRITZ WILLI FRIEDRICH-WILHELM-GYMNASIUM RIESLING FEINHERB 2015 - Qualitätswein, Mosel, Germany (#523894) (M) - $20.95  89 pts  reviewed here
  • STONELEIGH LATITUDE SAUVIGNON BLANC 2017 - Marlborough, South Island, New Zealand (#324228) (XD) - $21.95  89+ pts  reviewed here
Concha y Toro Marqués de Casa Concha Chardonnay 2015 (89 pts)Stoneleigh Latitude Sauvignon Blanc 2017 (89+ pts)

  • BACHELDER OREGON CHARDONNAY 2014 - Willamette Valley, Oregon, USA (#273334) (XD) - $24.95  90+ pts  reviewed here
  • CHARLES BAKER PICONE VINEYARD RIESLING 2014 - VQA Vinemount Ridge, Niagara Escarpment, Ontario, Canada (#241182) (M) - $35.20
  • HENRI DE VILLAMONT MONTAGNY 1ER CRU 2014 - AC, Burgundy, France (#522151) (XD) - $40.95  91 pts  reviewed here
  • ANTINORI CASTELLO DELLA SALA CERVARO DELLA SALA 2015 - IGT Umbria, Italy (#512376) (XD) - $59.95
  • GRGICH HILLS ESTATE CHARDONNAY 2013 - Napa Valley, California, USA (#346304) (XD) - $67.95  92 pts  reviewed here
  • KISTLER SONOMA MOUNTAIN CHARDONNAY 2015 - Sonoma Mountain, Sonoma County, California, USA (#183921) (XD) - $107.95

Sparkling Wine:

  • DESIDERIUS PONGRÁCZ BRUT CAP CLASSIQUE SPARKLING CHARDONNAY/PINOT NOIR - Traditional method, WO Western Cape, South Africa (#404111) (XD) - $16.95
  • HENRY OF PELHAM CUVÉE CATHARINE CARTE BLANCHE ESTATE BLANC DE BLANC 2012 - Traditional method, VQA Short Hills Bench, Niagara Escarpment, Ontario, Canada (#315200) (XD) - $44.95  91pts  reviewed here
  • DRAPPIER MILLÉSIME EXCEPTION CHAMPAGNE 2012 - AC, France (#513895) (XD) - $74.95
  • MOËT & CHANDON GRAND VINTAGE BRUT ROSÉ CHAMPAGNE 2008 - AC, France (#069831) (XD) - $98.95


Friday, November 17, 2017

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  • Friday, November 17, 2017

Gourmet Food & Wine Expo 2017 Review

Gourmet Food & Wine Expo 2017
On , I attended the 23rd annual Gourmet Food & Wine Expo that was held in the North building of the Metro Toronto Convention Centre. This event always features many wines from all over the world, as well as various gourmet food items and premium spirits and other cocktails. This event will also appeal to beer lovers as there seemed to be as many beer booths as wine booths.

This year, however, the event did seem smaller than usual, with fewer wine booths and even fewer food options. As a result, the event did feel more spacious. It also seemed like there were fewer attendees on the VIP Preview Evening than previous years.

If you are heading there this weekend (the Expo runs from Friday to Sunday), here were some of my favourite booths that you should also make a point to visit, as well as my favourite wines of the night.


Wines of Germany

Wines of Germany:
  • FRITZ WILLI FRIEDRICH-WILHELM-GYMNASIUM RIESLING FEINHERB 2015 - Qualitätswein, Mosel, Germany (#523894) (M) - $20.95  89 pts
  • A. CHRISTMANN REITERPFAD-HOFSTUCK GG RIESLING 2016 - Pfalz, Germany (XD) - $72.88  92 pts
  • SCHLOSS LIESER PIESPORTER GOLDTROPFCHEN RIESLING AUSLESE 2016 - Mosel, Germany (S) - $58.82  92 pts
Fritz Willi Friedrich-Wilhelm-Gymnasium Riesling Feinherb 2015 (89 pts)A. Christmann Reiterpfad-Hofstuck GG Riesling 2016 (92 pts)

Schloss Lieser Piesporter Goldtropfchen Riesling Auslese 2016 (92 pts)




Kolonaki Group

Kolonaki Group featuring Wines of Greece:
  • ARGYROS SANTORINI ASSYRTIKO 2016 - PDO Santorini, Greece (#387365) (XD) - $25.95  90 pts
  • KIR YIANNI DIAPOROS SINGLE VINEYARD XINOMAVRO 2013 - PDO Naoussa, Greece (XD) - $50  92 pts
Argyros Santorini Assyrtiko 2016 (90 pts)Kir Yianni Diaporos Single Vineyard Xinomavro 2013 (92 pts)




Wines of South Africa

  • BOSCHENDAL 1685 CHARDONNAY 2016 - WO Western Cape, South Africa (#367698) (XD) - $15.45  88 pts
Boschendal 1685 Chardonnay 2016 (88 pts)




Foods & Wines from Spain

  • VIÑA OLABARRI GRAN RESERVA 2007 - DOCa Rioja, Spain (#329102) (XD) - $24.95  90 pts
  • RAMIREZ DE LA PISCINA RESERVA 2013 - DOCa Rioja, Spain (XD) - $26  90 pts
Viña Olabarri Gran Reserva 2007 (90 pts)Ramirez de la Piscina Reserva 2013 (90 pts)
  • STONELEIGH LATITUDE SAUVIGNON BLANC 2017 - Marlborough, South Island, New Zealand (#324228) (XD) - $21.95  89+ pts
  • SACRED HILL PINOT NOIR 2014 - Marlborough, New Zealand (#277665) (XD) - $19.95  88 pts
Stoneleigh Latitude Sauvignon Blanc 2017 (89+ pts)Sacred Hill Pinot Noir 2014 (88 pts)




Vines Magazine:
  • TWO SISTERS CABERNET FRANC 2013 - VQA Niagara River, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $48  90 pts
Two Sisters Cabernet Franc 2013 (90 pts)




Other interesting items I came across at the Gourmet Food & Wine Expo:

chocoMe gourmet chocolate

Crazy Uncle Hard Root Beer + new X-Hard Root Beer

Maple Fluff Cotton Candy


Monday, November 13, 2017

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  • Monday, November 13, 2017

Buena Vista Winery Open House at Char Bar

Buena Vista Winery wine tasting at Char Bar
In , I was invited to a wine tasting at the Char No. 5 Whisky Bar located inside the Delta Hotel on Lower Simcoe Street in downtown Toronto to taste the wines from California's Buena Vista Winery. I was one of the first to arrive and had plenty of space to cozy up to the bar at the back where "The Count" was pouring the wines. After the venue was nicely filled up with patrons, The Count came out from behind the bar and began to tell us the interesting story about himself and the winery.

The story begins with Agoston Haraszthy de Mokesam, the self-proclaimed "The Count of Buena Vista", a grape-grower in his homeland of Hungary who was born into a wealthy, land-owning family and grew up amidst famed orchards and vineyards that had been in his family for centuries. In 1840, he set sail for America and settled with his family in Wisconsin, founding the town of "Szepataj" - now known as Sauk City. He was also the first to plant hops in Wisconsin, spurring the American beer industry. However, the harsh winters in Wisconsin were problematic for grape-growing, so he moved west to California and eventually settled in Sonoma in 1856 where he knew he could grow superb grapes on great terroir.

Buena Vista Winery was founded by The Count in 1857 on a converted ranch and produced 6,500 gallons in the first vintage and continued to grow and expand over the next few years. The Count inspired many others, including friend Charles Krug who borrowed a press from Buena Vista for crushing grapes in Napa Valley and helped pioneer winegrowing in that equally famous valley.

In 1861, The Count built California's first gravity-flow winery and visited Europe to study and report on methods used in the old world in order to improve Californian viniculture. Following this extensive journey with his son, he brought back thousands of vines and samples representing over 487 varieties, many of which were planted throughout the vineyards at Buena Vista Winery. Capitalizing on the knowledge gained, he authored a book which went on to become an essential handbook for California vintners.

The Count of Buena Vista
Later that decade, The Count left his prized winery and set out for Nicaragua to explore sugar growing and rum production. Unfortunately, his life ended abruptly in 1869 as he fell from a tree branch into an alligator-infested stream and was never to be heard from again. Back in Sonoma, without their visionary and widespread phylloxera setting in, Buena Vista Winery ceased production.

The winery was revived in the 1940's after the property was purchased by Frank and Antonia Bartholomew. In 2007, Agoston Haraszthy de Mokesa (1812-1869), the eccentric Count of Buena Vista and California's foremost grape protagonist, was inducted into the Culinary Institute of America's Vintners Hall of Fame, where he joined the ranks of many other world-class vintners. In 2011, Buena Vista became part of Boisset Family Estates, a renowned and charismatic family with a collection of historic wineries and roots in Burgundy, France. Led in the U.S. by Jean-Charles Boisset, the family is committed to its partnership and continue the vision and legacy that The Count first created 150 years ago.

The performance was informative and a nice touch to the tasting. If you visit the winery in Sonoma,  you can enjoy the full unique experience with The Count and a light, sound and visual show. Given the compelling story of this winery, I just might make a point to visit Buena Vista on my next visit to Sonoma.

Thank you to Family Wine Merchants (FWM Canada) for the invite. Wine reviews of my favourite wines from this tasting are provided below. The Chardonnay is available in LCBO VINTAGES right now, while the two red wines will be coming through LCBO VINTAGES early next year. Please contact FWM Canada for more immediate needs or if you require large quantities.

The Count of Buena Vista

Tasting Notes:

BUENA VISTA LA VICTOIRE BRUT CHAMPAGNE - AC, France (XD)
Blend of 70% Pinot Noir and 30% Chardonnay. this has fragrant yeasty, leesy, bready and pastry aromas with a clean hint of lemon waft from the glass. It's medium-bodied and quite light on its feet with balanced acids and fine mousse. The long lasting finish has a fine lemony aftertaste. Classy. Score: 90 pts

Buena Vista La Victoire Brut Champagne (90 pts)Buena Vista North Coast Chardonnay 2015 (88 pts)

BUENA VISTA NORTH COAST CHARDONNAY 2015 - California, USA (#396440) (XD) - $20.75
Very Californian on the nose with medium+ aromatics of ripe pineapple, golden apple, butter and a whiff of minerality. The palate is medium+ bodied and creamy textured with ripe fruited pear and apple flavours, plus leesy and vanillin oak accents. It has bright acids and finishes long with some bitterness. Score: 88 pts

BUENA VISTA CARNEROS PINOT NOIR 2013 - California, USA (#304105) (XD) - $28.95
Open, medium-high intensity aromas of raspberry, sweet oak spices, dark cherry and some forest floor, earth, tea leaf, white pepper are quite complex. It's medium bodied on the palate with suave tannins that are well-integrated and lovely aroma replays followed by some herbally notes. Acids are very good and balanced. Excellent finish length. Coming to VINTAGES . Score: 90 pts

Buena Vista Carneros Pinot Noir 2013 (90 pts)Buena Vista Chateau Buena Vista Cabernet Sauvignon 2014 (91 pts)

BUENA VISTA CHATEAU BUENA VISTA CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2014 - Napa Valley, California, USA (#539106) (XD) - $59.95
The highly aromatic nose offers a complex bouquet of currant, cassis, mint, red & black fruits, and forest floor aromas. It's full-bodied with polished tannins and very nice aroma replays on the structured palate to go along with mouth-watering acids. Some warmth on the mid-palate, but is supported well by the fleshy fruit. Excellent finish length. A big, powerful Napa Cab to enjoy now or over next 15+ years. Coming to VINTAGES . Score: 91 pts


Saturday, November 11, 2017

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  • Saturday, November 11, 2017

Monte Zovo Sa' Solin Ripasso Valpolicella 2014 (Veneto) - Wine Review

wine is another VINTAGES Essential that is always available in the VINTAGES section at LCBO outlets across Ontario and is currently on promotion ($2 off) until .

This red wine is made by Diego Cottini, a third-generation winemaker and oenologist in Valpolicella. He belongs to one of the oldest and largest wine-producing families in the area, and began helping at the winery and in the vineyards at the age of 16.

Azienda Agricola Monte Zovo is one of Cottini's brands and is named after the hill on which the modern winery is located in the Bardolino DOC, just west of Valpolicella. This wine is made using the Ripasso technique, where the Valpolicella wine is "re-passed" over dried grape skins that are leftover from Amarone pressings. This technique essentially adds complexity to regular Valpolicella wines.

Monte Zovo Sa' Solin Ripasso Valpolicella 2014 (88 pts)

Tasting Note:

MONTE ZOVO SA' SOLIN RIPASSO VALPOLICELLA 2014 - DOC, Veneto, Italy (#650713) (D) - $18.95 $16.95 until
Corvina-based blend. Intense black plum and oak spice aromas from the cork. In the glass, this is quite complex with meaty, dark cherry and herb aromas with hints of blackberry, black licorice and prune. It's medium-full bodied on the palate with supple tannins providing a dusty texture. There's some sweetness on the flavour profile, but it's mostly hidden behind the high acids. Complex aromas, plus oak spices, deliver on the palate, touch warm on the mid-palate and finishes long with some power. You could almost consider this to be a baby Amarone. Very good value! Score: 88 pts


Wednesday, November 8, 2017

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  • Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Kendall-Jackson Vintner's Reserve Chardonnay 2016 (California) - Wine Review

wine is a California Chardonnay that is part of the VINTAGES Essentials collection at the LCBO, meaning it is always available in just about every VINTAGES section at LCBO outlets across Ontario.

I had the opportunity to taste the 2015 Kendall-Jackson Vintner's Reserve Chardonnay earlier this year, and this 2016 vintage is the latest from Sonoma County based Kendall-Jackson Wine Estate.

The AVA for this wine is listed as California because the grapes for this wine were sourced from 4 coastal vineyards - 47% Monterey, 30% Santa Barbara, 22% Mendocino, and 1% Sonoma County. It was aged for 5 months sur lie with monthly lees stirring in mostly used French and American oak. This wine is made in a widely appealing "house style" so that it will have similar characteristics year after year. Let's see how the 2016 is...

Kendall-Jackson Vintner's Reserve Chardonnay 2016 (87 pts)

Tasting Note:

KENDALL-JACKSON VINTNER'S RESERVE CHARDONNAY 2016 - California, USA (#369686) (D) - $19.95 $17.95 until
Ripe tropical fruit and melon aromas from the eco-friendly, recyclable plastic cork. Expect ripe fruited aromas of tropical fruit and melon, with whiffs of pineapple, banana and butter of modest intensity. It's a little sweet on the medium-bodied palate, some creaminess, and appealing notes of vanilla, pineapple and tropical fruit flavours with some sweet oak in the background. It has fresh, clean acids and a lingering, juicy finish. Serve with only a light chill. Score: 87 pts


Monday, November 6, 2017

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  • Monday, November 6, 2017

LCBO VINTAGES November 11, 2017: France + After-Dinner Drinks

LCBO Wine Picks: November 11, 2017 VINTAGES Release
The next release in LCBO VINTAGES on is features wines from France as its main theme, while the mini-theme focuses on after-dinner drinks. It's a big release, with many top wines to add to your cellar. These new wines will be on LCBO VINTAGES shelves across Ontario starting this .

We'll begin with the main theme that lists twelve wines, nine of which are included among my top wine picks. Both Champagnes are of the Rose type, with the Deutz made with 75% Pinot Noir and 25% Chardonnay, while the Veuve Clicquot is a blend of 60% Pinot Noir, 33% Chardonnay and 7% Pinot Meunier. In white wines, there is the Picard Premier Cru Chablis and Servin Grand Cru Chablis, both of which are Chardonnay with little oak influence. From Sancerre, there is a Sauvignon Blanc made from vines that are at least 50 years old. The final white is a dry Riesling from Alsace. Among French reds, the 2006 Madiran is made with Tannat, while the 2001 Burgundy is made with Pinot Noir. Lastly, the Châteauneuf-du-Pape is a blend of 60% Grenache, 20% Syrah and 20% Mourvèdre.

Red wines from the rest of the release include the Fontaine du Clos, which is a blend of Grenache and Syrah. From Spain, the Murrieta is a blend of 83% Tempranillo, 9% Graciano, 5% Mazuelo, and 3% Garnacha, while the Remelluri is a blend of Tempranillo, Garnacha, Graciano, Viura and Malvasia. From Italy, the "baby" Ornellaia is a big wine that consists of 64% Merlot, 17% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Cabernet Franc, and 9% Petit Verdot. Lastly, the Napa Cabernet Sauvignon also contains 9% Petit Verdot, 5% Cabernet Franc, 4% Malbec, and 2% Merlot.

Le Serre Nuove dell’Ornellaia 2015 (92 pts)Cliff Lede Stags Leap Cabernet Sauvignon 2014 (92 pts)

Among my white wine recommendations, the Hugel Gentil is a dry blend made with 50% Sylvaner & Pinot Blanc, 22% Pinot Gris, 15% Gewürztraminer, 7% Riesling, and 6% Muscat. For sweet wine lovers, look for the Riesling from Ontario or British Columbia, or the Gewürztraminer from Alsace.

From the drinks to enjoy after-dinner section, there are two lovely Port wines, as well as the Botrytis-affected Semillon from Australia that always makes an appearance around this time of year.

Enjoy my top wine picks from the release! Cheers!

Red Wine:

  • GÉRARD BERTRAND SAINT CHINIAN SYRAH/MOURVÈDRE 2014 - AP, Midi, France (#370247) (D) - $16.95
  • DEMORGENZON DMZ SYRAH 2014 - WO Stellenbosch, South Africa (#404202) (D) - $16.95
  • SANTA CAROLINA SPECIALTIES DRY FARMING CARIGNAN 2013 - Cauquenes Valley, Chile (#213520) (XD) - $17.95
  • FONTAINE DU CLOS CONFIDENCES 2014 - AP Côtes du Rhône, France (#498451) (XD) - $17.95
  • FOWLES STONE DWELLERS SHIRAZ 2015 - Strathbogie Ranges, Victoria, Australia (#265967) (XD) - $19.95

  • CASAS DEL BOSQUE GRAN RESERVA PINOT NOIR 2014 - Casablanca Valley, Chile (#525022) (D) - $24.95  reviewed here
  • MARQUÉS DE MURRIETA FINCA YGAY RESERVA 2013 - DOCa Rioja, Spain (#209148) (XD) - $30.95
  • CHÂTEAU BOUSCASSÉ VIEILLES VIGNES MADIRAN 2006 - AP, Southwest, France (#132415) (D) - $38.95
  • TRAPICHE TERROIR SERIES FINCA AMBROSÍA SINGLE VINEYARD MALBEC 2012 - Uco Valley, Mendoza, Argentina (#402941) (XD) - $39.95  reviewed here
  • REMELLURI RESERVA 2011 - DOCa Rioja, Spain (#480160) (XD) - $39.95
  • PIETRANERA BRUNELLO DI MONTALCINO 2012 - DOCG, Tuscany, Italy (#189761) (XD) - $44.95
Trapiche Terroir Series Finca Ambrosía Single Vineyard Malbec 2012 (91 pts)Casas del Bosque Gran Reserva Pinot Noir 2014 (89 pts)

  • DOMAINE DE LA CHARBONNIÈRE CHÂTEAUNEUF-DU-PAPE 2013 - AP, Rhône, France (#062711) (D) - $44.95
  • BORGOGNO BAROLO 2012 - DOCG, Piedmont, Italy (#283499) (XD) - $45.95
  • LE SERRE NUOVE DELL’ORNELLAIA 2015 - DOC Bolgheri Rosso, Tuscany, Italy (#606194) (D) - $64.95  reviewed here
  • CONCHA Y TORO DON MELCHOR CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2013 - Puente Alto, Chile (#403980) (D) - $89.95
  • MAISON ROCHE DE BELLENE COLLECTION BELLENUM PETITE CHAPELLE GEVREY CHAMBERTIN 1ER CRU 2001 - AC, Burgundy, France (#514257) (XD) - $106.95
  • CLIFF LEDE CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2014 - Stags Leap District, Napa Valley, California, USA (#014217) (XD) - $122.95  reviewed here

White Wine:

  • HUGEL GENTIL 2015 - AC Alsace, France (#367284) (XD) - $17.95
  • CAVE SPRING ESTATE CHARDONNAY 2015 - Cave Spring Vineyard, VQA Beamsville Bench, Niagara Escarpment, Ontario, Canada (#256552) (XD) - $18.95
  • DIRTY LAUNDRY RIESLING 2014 - BC VQA Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, Canada (#514976) (M) - $19.95
  • TIEFENBRUNNER PINOT GRIGIO 2016 - IGT Vignetti delle Dolomiti, Alto Adige/Trentino, Italy (#474742) (XD) - $19.95
  • DOMANE WACHAU TERRASSEN FEDERSPIEL GRÜNER VELTLINER 2015 - DAC Wachau, Austria (#031534) (XD) - $19.95
  • FLAT ROCK NADJA’S VINEYARD RIESLING 2016 - VQA Twenty Mile Bench, Niagara Escarpment, Ontario, Canada (#578625) (M) - $24.95

  • LA CHABLISIENNE GRANDE CUVÉE CHABLIS 1ER CRU 2015 - AC, Burgundy, France (#685222) (D) - $31.95
  • CAVE DE TURCKHEIM BRAND GRAND CRU RIESLING 2013 - AC Alsace Grand Cru, France (#021303) (XD) - $37.95
  • JEAN-MAX ROGER VIEILLES VIGNES SANCERRE 2015 - AC, Loire, France (#527218) (XD) - $39.95
  • PICARD LE CHARMOIS SAINT AUBIN 1ER CRU 2014 - AC, Burgundy, France (#522078) (XD) - $57.95
  • WEINBACH CUVÉE LAURENCE GEWURZTRAMINER 2015 - AC Alsace, France (#581975) (M) - $62.95  FSE
  • DOMAINE SERVIN BOUGROS GRAND CRU CHABLIS 2013 - AC, Burgundy, France (#145623) (XD) - $69.95

Sparkling Wine:

  • SEGURA VIUDAS HEREDAD RESERVA BRUT CAVA - Traditional method, DO, Spain (#558825) (D) - $32.95
  • DEUTZ BRUT ROSÉ CHAMPAGNE - AC, France (#092833) (D) - $80.95
  • VEUVE CLICQUOT PONSARDIN VINTAGE BRUT ROSÉ CHAMPAGNE 2008 - With gift box, AC, France (#588475) (XD) - $109.95

Dessert Wine:

  • ROSEWOOD MEAD ROYALE HONEY WINE 2015 - Barrel aged, Canada (#437319) (MS) (500 mL) - $16.95  reviewed here
  • DE BORTOLI NOBLE ONE BOTRYTIS SEMILLON 2014 - Riverina, New South Wales, Australia (#917252) (S) (375 mL) - $29.95
Rosewood Mead Royale Honey Wine 2015 (88 pts)

Fortified:

  • BURMESTER 10-YEAR-OLD TAWNY PORT - DOP, Portugal (#223958) (S) - $28.95
  • FONSECA VINTAGE PORT 2009 - DOP, Portugal (#256875) (S) - $58.95


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