Wednesday, May 24, 2017

  • Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Wine Picks LCBO VINTAGES Release May 27, 2017: Southern Italy + Santa Barbara



LCBO Wine Picks from May 27, 2017 VINTAGES Release
The upcoming LCBO VINTAGES Release features wines from 5 sunny Southern Italy hot spots in its main theme, while the mini-theme focuses on wines from Santa Barbara. Wines from this release will be on shelves at LCBO outlets across Ontario this .

We'll begin my top wine picks from this release with the focus on southern Italy because nothing from Santa Barbara made the cut. The hot and sunny wine regions of Campania, Puglia, Basilicata, Sicily, and Sardinia are featured, with a total of 12 wines listed and only 2 are included among my top wine picks. From the island of Sicily, there is a nice Grillo, one of the key white wine grapes on the island. One of the major grapes in Campania is Aglianico, and there is a nice little wine for $14 in this release. The last wine from Southern Italy is a Chardonnay from Puglia, and is actually listed near the back the VINTAGES Magazine as a Flagship Store Exclusive (FSE) - with limited availability.

From the rest of the release, the Domaine Guisset is a spicy blend of Syrah, Carignan and Grenache, while the Black Rock from South Africa is 68% Syrah that was co-fermented with other Rhône varieties to produce this multi-varietal blend. The latest vintage of the Emiliana Coyam is organic & biodynamic and consists of 41% Syrah, 29% Carmenere, 20% Merlot, 7% Cabernet Sauvignon, 2% Mourvedre, and 1% Petit Verdot. The pair of big Cabernet Sauvignon wines from California are also blends, with the Chateau Montelena including 1.5% Cabernet Franc and 1.5% Petit Verdot, while the La Jota includes one quarter other grapes - 10.5% Merlot, 8% Cabernet Franc, 4.5% Petit Verdot, and 2% Malbec.

Emiliana Coyam 2013 (90+ pts)

My white wine recommendations from this release consist of either Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay or Riesling. As is quite common, Riesling can be produced in styles ranging from bone dry to very sweet. From this release, the Pearl Morissette Riesling is bone dry, while the Hidden Bench Riesling will have a kiss of sweetness to it, and the Waimea Riesling is off-dry (i.e. slight sweet).

Among my sparkling wine picks, the Cava is a blend of Parellada, Xarel-lo and Macabeo, while the vintage Champagne is a blend of 50% Chardonnay, 40% Pinot Noir, and 10% Pinot Meunier.

Enjoy my top wine picks from this release! Cheers!

Red Wine:

  • CAMPOREALE AGLIANICO 2015 - IGP Campania, Italy (#475251) (XD) - $13.95
  • DOMAINE GUISSET 2014 - AP Côtes du Roussillon, Roussillon, France (#480863) (XD) - $15.95
  • CHILCAS RESERVA CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2014 - Lolol, Colchagua Valley, Chile (#486050) (XD) - $18.95
  • FABRE MONTMAYOU RESERVA MALBEC 2014 - Mendoza, Argentina (#261867) (XD) - $18.95
  • CONO SUR SINGLE VINEYARD EL RECURSO BLOCK 18 CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2015 - Maipo Valley, Chile (#439364) (D) - $19.95
  • EMILIANA COYAM 2013 - Los Robles Estate, Colchagua Valley, Chile (#063891) (XD) - $29.95  reviewed here
  • RADFORD DALE BLACK ROCK 2013 - WO Swartland, South Africa (#485490) (XD) - $29.95
  • COSTA DI BUSSIA CAMPO DEI BUOI BAROLO 2010 - DOCG, Piedmont, Italy (#475277) (XD) - $47.95
  • BACHELDER LA PETITE CHARMOTTE NUITS-SAINT-GEORGES 2011 - AC, Burgundy, France (#357228) (XD) - $49.95  FSE
  • CHATEAU MONTELENA CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2013 - Calistoga, Napa Valley, California, USA (#718452) (XD) - $74.95
  • KISTLER PINOT NOIR 2014 - Sonoma Coast, California, USA (#377259) (XD) - $109.95  FSE
  • LA JOTA HOWELL MOUNTAIN ESTATE CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2013 - Napa Valley, California, USA (#659755) (XD) - $110.95  FSE

White Wine:

  • FEUDO MACCARI GRILLO 2015 - IGT Terre Siciliane, Sicily, Italy (#477877) (XD) - $14.95
  • RIVERA PRELUDIO NO. 1 CHARDONNAY 2015 - DOC Castel del Monte, Puglia, Italy (#177303) (XD) - $16.00  FSE
  • MAYCAS DEL LIMARÍ RESERVA ESPECIAL CHARDONNAY 2015 - Limarí Valley, Chile (#143768) (XD) - $18.95
  • WAIMEA CLASSIC RIESLING 2016 - Nelson, South Island, New Zealand (#408666) (D) - $18.95
  • PAUL CLUVER SAUVIGNON BLANC 2015 - WO Elgin, South Africa (#483743) (XD) - $19.95
  • HIDDEN BENCH ESTATE RIESLING 2015 - VQA Beamsville Bench, Niagara Escarpment, Ontario, Canada (#183491) (D) - $23.95
  • CLOS HENRI SAUVIGNON BLANC 2015 - Marlborough, South Island, New Zealand (#675629) (XD) - $29.95
  • PEARL MORISSETTE CUVÉE BLACK BALL RIESLING 2014 - Product of Canada (#416073) (XD) - $36.20  FSE
  • DOMAINE BILLAUD-SIMON LES VAILLONS CHABLIS 1ER CRU 2014 - AC, Burgundy, France (#330175) (XD) - $39.95  FSE
  • KISTLER LES NOISETIERS CHARDONNAY 2015 - Sonoma Coast, California, USA (#251223) (XD) - $99.95

Sparkling Wine:

  • CYGNUS ORGANIC BRUT NATURE RESERVA CAVA - Méthode champenoise, DO Penedès, Spain (#352856) (XD) - $16.95
  • ANDRÉ ET MICHEL DRAPPIER PINOT NOIR BRUT NATURE CHAMPAGNE - Zero dosage, AC, France (#179275) (XD) - $58.95
  • BEAUMONT DES CRAYERES FLEUR DE PRESTIGE CHAMPAGNE 2006 - AC, France (#483099) (D) - $68.95

Fortified:

  • FONSECA LATE BOTTLED VINTAGE PORT 2011 - Unfiltered, DOP, Portugal (#087551) (S) - $22.95


Tuesday, May 16, 2017

  • Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Gourmet Food & Wine Expo 2016 - Review

Gourmet Food & Wine Expo 2016
On the evening of , I attended the VIP Preview Night of the 22nd Annual Gourmet Food & Wine Expo that was held, as per the usual, in the north building of the Metro Toronto Convention Centre in downtown Toronto.

As usual, the event was busy as the crowds poured in soon after 6 p.m. and stayed busy over the course of the evening, until the lights began flashing near the end, signalling that the night event was about to end soon at 10 p.m.

For me, this tasting is all about the wine, however, there seemed to be fewer wine-focused booths compared to previous years - hopefully this doesn't develop into a trend. Meanwhile, spirits-focused booths seemed to be at the same number compared to prior years (which is not that many), and the number of food-centric booths seemed to be more than prior years, including some new names to the show. Having more food options was definitely a pleasant surprise as, for once, I wasn't left scrambling trying to find something to eat towards the end of the show.

Some of the booths I visited included the agency booths of United Stars Corporation, where they were pouring wines from Georgia, and MCO - Interesting Wines & Spirits, where they offered pours of fine French wines. No trip to Gourmet Food & Wine Expo would be complete without a stop at the Kolonaki Group booth to sample some lovely Greek wines and the top-notch Armand de Brignac Ace of Spades Gold Brut Champagne. My favourite booth every year is Wines of Germany for the some very fine sweet Riesling. This time, because it wasn't crazy busy, I also managed to taste at the Wines from Spain booth and tried the very nice PX (Pedro Ximenez) lusciously sweet Sherry.

Wines of Germany

Kolonaki Group

On the local scene, Prince Edward County had a lengthy booth featuring wines from a few different wineries, including Trail Estates Winery and Closson Chase Winery. Although I didn't taste anything from Niagara wineries this time around, Hidden Bench Vineyard and Winery and Two Sisters Vineyards were among the notables that I know have quality wines.

All in all, I was quite pleased with the event. And even though the number of wine-focused booths was less than previous years, the event did compensate by having more food options that were to my liking. Many of the wines I tasted were also very good quality, with wine reviews of some of my favourites provided below. You should be able to find most of these wines at the LCBO in the General List section or in VINTAGES.

Tasting Notes:

KONCHO MUKUZANI 2013 - Kakheti, Georgia (#460501) (XD) - $13.95
Made with the indegenous Saperavi grape, this has a medium intensity nose with currant, cedar oak, red & black fruits and some spice aromas and flavours. It's medium-bodied and dry with good acids. Tannins have some structure and are a touch drying. Medium-long finish. Score: 87 pts

Koncho Mukuzani 2013 (87 pts)Domaine Courbis Saint-Joseph 2013 (91 pts)

DOMAINE COURBIS SAINT-JOSEPH 2013 - AC, Rhône, France (#007914) (XD) - $30.95
100% Syrah. Highly aromatic and very appealing nose of black current, blackberry, red & black fruits, pepper, and hints of floral and oak. It's full-bodied with soft, velvety smooth tannins and very nice aroma replays. Very good acidity. Balanced, long finish. Superb. Score: 91 pts

SKOURAS MOSCHOFILERO 2015 - PGI Peloponnese, Greece (#442178) (XD) - $15.95
Medium-high intensity aromas of nice spring flower, mineral, tropical fruit and orange that continue on palate. Acids are clean and bright, offering a juicy mouthfeel. Medium-long finish. A wine for Spring. Score: 88 pts

Skouras Moschofilero 2015 (88 pts)Kir-Yianni Estate White 2015 (88+ pts)

KIR-YIANNI ESTATE WHITE 2015 - Samaropetra Vineyard, PGI Florina, Greece (#464511) - $17.95
A 50/50 blend of Roditis and Sauvignon Blanc, this has clean medium-high aromatics of kiwi, asparagus, grass, tropical fruit, and spring flowers. Acids are bright on the medium+ bodied palate with nice, ripe-fruited aroma replays and touches of mineral from the Roditis. Finish length is very good. Score: 88+ pts

ARMAND DE BRIGNAC ACE OF SPADES GOLD BRUT CHAMPAGNE - AC, France (#220244) (XD) - $299.95
A blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier, offering medium-high aromatics that has bready, nutty, walnut, and some lime citrus aromas. Mostly comes off as dry on the fruity palate which is smooth and refined with fine bubbles. Vibrant acids are refreshing with a minerally character. Excellent finish length. Will have wide appeal at just about any table. Score: 91 pts

Armand de Brignac Ace of Spades Gold Brut Champagne (91 pts)

TRAIL ESTATE SKIN CONTACT SERIES LAKEVIEW VINEYARD RIESLING 2015 - Twenty Mile Bench, Niagara Escarpment, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $30
Fermented with 21-day skin contact - much longer than most modern white wines. Highly aromatic nose of golden apple and pear. The palate is bone dry with a chalky mineral texture, nice aroma replays, and crisp acids. Very good length on the finish. Winery only. Score: 91 pts

Trail Estate Skin Contact Series Lakeview Vineyard Riesling 2015 (91 pts)Trail Estate Barrel-Ferment Chardonnay 2015 (90 pts)

TRAIL ESTATE BARREL-FERMENT CHARDONNAY 2015 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $32
Bottled one week prior, the nose is highly aromatic, offering heavily-oaked aromas of toasty oak, smoke, popcorn, apple and butter aromas. It's medium-full bodied with a creamy mouthfeel and flavours that are less oak-influenced and more fruity - stone fruit, apple and butter flavours. Balanced acids. Finish length is excellent! Winery only. Score: 90 pts

PAUL ANHEUSER SCHLOSSBÖCKELHEIMER KÖNIGSFELS RIESLING KABINETT 2015 - Nahe, Germany (#161828) (MS) - $17.95
Medium+ aromas, very mineral-driven with stone fruits and citrus adding complexity. Crunchy mouthfeel, brimming with high acids that cuts into the perceived sweetness. More mineral and stone-citrus fruits on the palate, while finishing with grapefruit flavours. Score: 88+ pts

Paul Anheuser Schlossböckelheimer Königsfels Riesling Kabinett 2015 (88+ pts)Markus Molitor Ürziger Würzgarten Riesling Spätlese 2013 (91 pts)

MARKUS MOLITOR ÜRZIGER WÜRZGARTEN RIESLING SPÄTLESE 2013 - Mosel, Germany (#139005) (MS) - $36.75
Highly aromatic nose offers complex mineral, earth, matchstick/smoke, and citrus aromas. It's medium+ bodied on the palate with a fleshy mouthfeel. Semi-sweet on the palate with lovely stone fruit and pink grapefruit flavours that are nicely balanced by vibrant acids. Excellent finish length. Score: 91 pts

CLEMENS BUSCH MARIENBURG GROSSES GEWÄCHS ROTHENPFAD RIESLING 2014 - Mosel, Germany (XD)
Stony mineral, limestone, and hints of lemon pith aromas of great intensity from the glass. Dry on the palate with more lemon pith. stony earth and limestone. Composed and well-balanced through and through. It has balanced acids and a long, elegant, juicy finish. Score: 91+ pts

Clemens Busch Marienburg Grosses Gewächs Rothenpfad Riesling 2014 (91+ pts)Selbach Oster Zeltinger Schlossberg Riesling Auslese * 2012 (92 pts)

SELBACH OSTER ZELTINGER SCHLOSSBERG RIESLING AUSLESE * 2012 - Mosel, Germany (S)
Medium-high aromatics with lovely orange and mineral notes. The palate is very sweet with highly appealing aroma replays which are balanced by bright acids. The finish goes on and on. Well-balanced, this will age for many years and will go great at the dinner table. Score: 92 pts

OSBORNE PEDRO XIMENEZ 1827 - DOP, Spain (#047944) (S) - $17.95
This Sherry has a highly aromatic nose of caramel, walnut, fig, molasses and more nutty notes. It's very sweet on the full bodied palate with many of the aromas coming through on the lush, thick, and smooth palate. Finish length is very long. Serve with a slight chill. Score: 91 pts

Osborne Pedro Ximenez 1827 (91 pts)


Tuesday, May 9, 2017

  • Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Château de Fontenelles Renaissance Corbières 2013 (Midi) - Wine Review

On night, I opened up this delicious red wine that will be available at the LCBO as part of the upcoming VINTAGES Release.

This red wine is produced by Château de Fontenelles, a winery located in the north-westerly commune of Douzens in Corbières. The Domaine, with over 40 hectares of Syrah, Grenache, Carignan, and Mourvèdre, has been part of the family for five generations and is currently family-owned and operated by Thierry Tastu and his wife Nelly.

The vines for this wine are grown on argilo-limestone soil on the slopes of Mont Alaric, allowing the grapes to develop well due to the cooler temperatures. Two types of vinification was used to produce this wine: Cold vinification for a few days to preserve the quality of the tannins, and strict temperature-controlled vinification of whole grape clusters.

Château de Fontenelles Renaissance Corbières 2013 (89 pts)

Tasting Note:

CHÂTEAU DE FONTENELLES RENAISSANCE CORBIÈRES 2013 - AP, Midi, France (#148692) (D) - $19.95
A blend of 55% Syrah, 25% Grenache, and 20% Carignan/Mourvèdre. Aromas of black plum, blackberry, and oak spice from the cork. In the glass, there are aromas of black pepper, blackberry and whiffs of violets, herbs and forest floor notes of medium-high intensity. Pleasing aroma replays continue on the medium-full bodied and dry palate with rich, structured tannins and very good acidity. Lovely savoury barnyard, meaty notes arrive with air and linger through to the long, earthy finish. Enjoyable now, but should improve in 2-3 years and drink well to 2024. Score: 89 pts


  • Tuesday, May 9, 2017

VINTAGES Release May 13, 2017: Buyers' Best + New Zealand + Sake

LCBO Wine Picks from May 13, 2017 VINTAGES Release
The next LCBO VINTAGES Release on will be on shelves this coming and features an interesting theme as its main release - an introduction to some of the buyers at the LCBO and their best finds, which is also a collection of wines that are new to VINTAGES. The mini-themes are wines from New Zealand and Sake - the same as the first release of .

We'll begin with Buyers' Best finds feature that lists 19 wines from 5 different buyers. However, only 1 wine made my list of wine picks - a dry rosé from Spain that is made with Garnacha from nearly 60-year-old vines planted at high-altitude (790 metres).

From the New Zealand mini-theme, there are 7 wines listed and 2 are included among my top wine picks. If you enjoy Sauv Blanc, then the excellent Greywacke Sauvignon Blanc should be on your shopping list. Also from New Zealand is a red wine blend that consists of 76% Cabernet Sauvignon, 14% Merlot, and 10% Malbec.

Greywacke Sauvignon Blanc 2015 (92 pts)

In red wines from the rest of the release, the wine from Rhône is a blend of 60% Grenache and 40% Syrah, while the Corbières is a blend of 55% Syrah, 25% Grenache, and 20% Carignan/Mourvèdre. From Spain, the Valdemar is a blend of 90% Tempranillo, 5% Graciano and 5% Mazuelo, while the Cune adds more Graciano, with the final blend consisting of 85% Tempranillo, 10% Graciano, and 5% Mazuelo. The 2 California Cabs are also blends - the Clos du Bois includes 6% Merlot, 5% Petit Verdot, and 2% Cabernet Franc, while the Ridge includes 20% Merlot, 3% Petit Verdot, and 2% Cabernet Franc. From South Africa, the Glenelly Red is a blend of 36% Shiraz, 34% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot, and 10% Petit Verdot. And last but not least, the Solaia is a blend of 75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Sangiovese, and 5% Cabernet Franc.

Cune Gran Reserva 2010 (91 pts)Château de Fontenelles Renaissance Corbières 2013 (89 pts)

In white wines, the Portuguese wine consists of two local barrel-aged varietals Arinto and Rabigato, rarely found in these parts, while the Sancerre is a Sauvignon Blanc, and the Meursault is a lightly oaked Chardonnay. For sweet wine lovers, try either Riesling or Gewürztraminer, including the very sweet Late Harvest Gewürztraminer from Konzelmann.

Cave Spring CSV Riesling 2015 (91 pts)Flat Rock Cellars Riddled Sparkling 2010 (90+ pts)

Among my sparkling wine picks, the Franciacorta is made with 100% Chardonnay, while both the Riddled and the Rosé Champagne consist of a blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.

Enjoy my wine recommendations from this release! Cheers!

Red Wine:

  • DOMAINE LES GRANDS BOIS CUVÉE PHILIPPINE CÔTES DU RHÔNE-VILLAGES 2015 - AP, Rhône, France (#286344) (D) - $18.95
  • PASK GIMBLETT GRAVELS CABERNET/MERLOT/MALBEC 2013 - Gimblett Gravels, Hawkes Bay, North Island, New Zealand (#279869) (XD) - $19.95
  • CHÂTEAU DE FONTENELLES RENAISSANCE CORBIÈRES 2013 - AP, Midi, France (#148692) (D) - $19.95  reviewed here
  • CONDE VALDEMAR RESERVA 2009 - DOCa Rioja, Spain (#947309) (XD) - $19.95
  • GRAND VIN DE GLENELLY RED 2010 - WO Stellenbosch, South Africa (#360339) (D) - $19.95
  • CLOS DU BOIS SONOMA RESERVE CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2014 - Alexander Valley, Sonoma County, California, USA (#054080) (XD) - $24.95
  • CUNE GRAN RESERVA 2010 - DOCa Rioja, Spain (#393553) (D) - $38.95  reviewed here
  • CORTE PAVONE BRUNELLO DI MONTALCINO 2010 - DOCG, Tuscany, Italy (#237263) (D) - $55.95
  • MICHELE CHIARLO CEREQUIO BAROLO 2011 - DOCG, Piedmont, Italy (#393355) (XD) - $73.95  FSE
  • RIDGE VINEYARDS ESTATE CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2013 - Monte Bello Vineyard, Santa Cruz Mountains, California, USA (#089284) (D) - $86.95  FSE
  • ANTINORI SOLAIA 2013 - IGT Toscana, Tuscany, Italy (#987586) (XD) - $254.95

White Wine:

  • KONZELMANN LATE HARVEST GEWÜRZTRAMINER 2014 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#392357) (S) - $14.75
  • FLAT ROCK RIESLING 2015 - VQA Twenty Mile Bench, Niagara Escarpment, Ontario, Canada (#043281) (M) - $17.95
  • PIERRE SPARR RÉSERVE GEWÜRZTRAMINER 2016 - AC Alsace, France (#747600) (D) - $18.95
  • QUINTA DA REDE GRANDE RESERVA BRANCO 2014 - DOC Douro, Portugal (#477943) (XD) - $21.95
  • GREYWACKE SAUVIGNON BLANC 2015 - Marlborough, South Island, New Zealand (#164228) (XD) - $24.95  reviewed here
  • ANDRÉ DEZAT SANCERRE 2015 - AC, Loire, France (#493320) (XD) - $26.95
  • CAVE SPRING CSV RIESLING 2015 - Cave Spring Vineyard, VQA Beamsville Bench, Niagara Escarpment, Ontario, Canada (#566026) (XD) - $29.95  reviewed here
  • MARCHAND TAWSE MEURSAULT 2014 - AC, Burgundy, France (#285866) (D) - $65.95  FSE

Rosé Wine:

  • IZADI LARROSA PREMIUM ROSÉ 2016 - DOCa Rioja, Spain (#490961) (XD) - $14.95
  • CHÂTEAU D’AQUÉRIA TAVEL 2016 - AP, Rhône, Spain (#319368) (XD) - $21.95

Sparkling Wine:

  • LO SPARVIERE FRANCIACORTA BRUT CUVÉE NO. 7 - Traditional method, DOCG Franciacorta, Lombardy, Italy (#484584) (D) - $29.95  FSE
  • FLAT ROCK CELLARS RIDDLED SPARKLING 2010 - Traditional method, VQA Twenty Mile Bench, Niagara Escarpment, Ontario, Canada (#383315) (D) - $29.95  reviewed here
  • DUVAL-LEROY PRESTIGE PREMIER CRU BRUT ROSÉ CHAMPAGNE - AC, France (#483107) (XD) - $70.95

Dessert Wine:

  • CHÂTEAU DES CHARMES VIDAL ICEWINE 2015 - VQA Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada (#565861) (S) (200 mL) - $26.95


Saturday, May 6, 2017

  • Saturday, May 6, 2017

Greywacke Sauvignon Blanc 2015 (New Zealand) - Wine Review

After following up on celebration of International Sauvignon Blanc Day, wine is also a Sauvignon Blanc that will be arriving on LCBO shelves as part of the VINTAGES Release.

Greywacke is the Marlborough label of one of the region's pioneer winemakers, Kevin Judd. The name comes from his first Marlborough vineyard located in Rapaura where there is an high prevalence of rounded greywacke river stones in the soils of the vineyard.

I tasted the 2014 Greywacke Sauvignon Blanc in February of last year and am curious to see how this latest vintage turned out. In 2014, the quality of the fruit was considered above-average, along with the largest ever vintage in Marlborough. For the 2015 vintage, quality across South Island was good, but crop yields were lower, resulting in less wine produced; it was also a very dry summer in Marlborough, resulting in greater concentration than the 2014s.

Greywacke Sauvignon Blanc 2015 (92 pts)

Tasting Note:

GREYWACKE SAUVIGNON BLANC 2015 - Marlborough, South Island, New Zealand (#164228) (XD) - $24.95
Screw cap. Medium-high intensity aromatics are clean and elegant with subtle nuances of lemon zest, herbs, yellow flowers, tropical fruit and a fine mineral note. There's very good fruit concentration on the medium-bodied palate, balanced by zesty acids and fine minerally texture. Ripe stone fruits and lemon flavours are followed by hints of melon, orange and ripe tropical fruits, all nicely balanced. Stony mineral notes linger on the very long finish. Wow. This is excellent! Must buy. Score: 92 pts


Friday, May 5, 2017

  • Friday, May 5, 2017

Saint Clair Family Estate Sauvignon Blanc 2016 (New Zealand) - Wine Review

I opened up this wine to celebrate the 8th Annual International Sauvignon Blanc Day, which is always the first Friday in May and takes place on this year.

This Sauvignon Blanc is produced by Saint Clair Family Estate, one of the leading wineries in New Zealand. The winery is owned by Neal and Judy Ibbotson, a couple that are considered viticultural pioneers in Marlborough since 1978. Initially, grapes they produced were sold to other wine companies, but in 1994 they established Saint Clair Family Estate because they had a desire to produce their own finished wine. Saint Clair is synonymous with quality ever since its first vintage in 1994 and continues to produce top quality wines today, such as this 2016 Sauvignon Blanc.

This delicious white wine is readily available at LCBO outlets across Ontario. How are you celebrating #SauvBlancDay?

Saint Clair Family Estate Sauvignon Blanc 2016 (88 pts)

Tasting Note:

SAINT CLAIR FAMILY ESTATE SAUVIGNON BLANC 2016 - Marlborough, South Island, New Zealand (#237255) (XD) - $17.35
Screw cap. Lifted aromatics offer ripe tropical fruits, kiwi, gooseberry, grass and hints of mineral notes. It's light-weighted and fleshy with clean, refreshing acids. Fine chalky mineral texture on the dry palate with ripe tropical fruit and blood orange flavours. Clean, lingering finish. Score: 88 pts


Wednesday, April 26, 2017

  • Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Pure Chablis National Final at Bent Restaurant

Pure Chablis National Final
On the evening of , I had the pleasure of attending the Pure Chablis National Final at Bent Restaurant in downtown Toronto. This event pitted three individuals against each other, with the task of trying to best pair Chablis with  special culinary creations prepared by Hong Kong-American celebrity Master Chef Susur Lee.

Each person was given a description of each of the 3 courses ahead of time and had to select a Chablis that they thought would best pair with each course. The winner would be determined by counting the votes of approximately 60 people (including yours truly), who would vote for which wine paired best with each course. I have been to many food & wine pairing events over the years, but this was my first time experiencing something like this - it was very exciting! The prize for the winner was an amazing trip to Chablis!

Competing in the Final were Roger Maniwa of Mak N Ming Restaurant in Vancouver, Nicolas Charron-Boucher of Planvin Wine Agency in Montreal, and Joshua Corea from just down the street at Archive Wine Bar. The speaker of the evening was Louis Moreau, producer of many fine wines from Chablis, but also currently the Vice President of the Chablis Commission of the Bourgogne Wine Board.

Chablis paired with Gravlax & Spicy Salmon Tartare, Avocado, Egg, Lemon Crème Fraîche, Pickled Onion and Capers Our first course consisted of Gravlax & Spicy Salmon Tartare, Avocado, Egg, Lemon Crème Fraîche, Pickled Onion and Capers. This dish was quite spicy and difficult to pair with Chablis. However, it was the 3rd wine (Domaine Servin chosen by Joshua) that paired best due to the high acids and ripe fruited flavours that helped calm the spicy dish. The side of dill was also very interesting to taste with the Chablis. Ironically, the Servin Chablis was my least favourite wine of the three to sip on its own as I felt it was too ripe and needed a year or two for the acids to soften, but, in my opinion (and some others around our table), it was the best pairing with the first course.

The second course was a Korean Crisp Shrimp with Nori, Hong Kong Xo Sauce, and Sweet & Sour Chili Glaze. The dish offered plenty of earthy, mineral, sea flavours, but the sauces kicked up the heat levels significantly. The wines for this pairing were all quite similar and tended to complement the flavours in the dish, but once again it was 3rd wine (Daniel-Étienne Defaix chosen by Joshua) that I thought (and others too) paired the best due to the earthy-mineral qualities in the wine and the dish.

Chablis 1er Cru paired with Korean Crisp Shrimp with Nori, Hong Kong Xo Sauce, and Sweet & Sour Chili Glaze

For the third and final course of competition, we enjoyed a Chicken Pot stuffed with Chestnut, Parsnip, Carrot, Peas, Tarragon and Beurre Blanc. The flavours were earthy for the most part, but the pastry crust was on the sweeter side which lifted the whole dish. The wines for this pairing were all excellent quality (we found out later they were all Grand Cru). Although all three wines paired well with this course, it was the 1st wine (Jean-Paul et Benoit Droin chosen by Roger) that paired the best because of the overall balance that presented itself when pairing the Chicken Pot and wine together.

Chablis Grand Cru paired with Chicken Pot stuffed with Chestnut, Parsnip, Carrot, Peas, Tarragon and Beurre Blanc

Chablis with Cheeses

At the end of the evening, it was revealed that Nicolas Charron-Boucher had the most votes and won the Pure Chablis National Final. I was a bit surprised by this as I did not vote for any of Nicolas' wine choices (although I did see-saw with his choice on the 2nd course) and it just goes to show how food & wine is a very personal experience that varies from person-to-person. Congratulations Nicolas and enjoy your trip to Chablis!

Thank you to everyone that helped put this event together - great job! - and allowing me to be part of this, as well as Bent Restaurant for your accommodation.

If you were at this event, what were your favourite pairings? Leave a comment below and let me know.

From left to right: Roger Maniwa, Nicolas Charron-Boucher and Joshua Corea

Bent Restaurant Chablis Pairing Menu

Tasting Notes:

DOMAINE SERVIN CHABLIS 2015 - AC, Burgundy, France (XD) - $28.95
Ripe, medium+ aromatics offering hints of orange, peach, citrus. Nice aroma replays on the bright palate, with high acids needing a couple of years to settle down. Finishes long. Score: 88 pts

DOMAINE DANIEL-ÉTIENNE DEFAIX CHABLIS 1ER CRU 2003 - Côte de Léchet, AC, Burgundy, France (#470435) (XD) - $51.95
Subtle aromatics are initially reductive with waxy hints, along with some vegetal notes, eventually giving way to minerality. The palate is medium+ bodied with nice texture and rounded acids that still provide freshness. Nice lemon/lime, earthy and limestone mineral flavours come through on the palate. Finish length is excellent. Score: 91 pts

Domaine Daniel-Étienne Defaix Côte de Léchet Chablis 1er Cru 2003 (91 pts)

DOMAINE JEAN-PAUL ET BENOIT DROIN CHABLIS GRAND CRU 2015 - Valmur, AC, Burgundy, France (XD) - $82.25
This has medium-high intensity aromas that are elegant and complex with high-toned lemon, stone fruit, peach, and pear along with some herbal, earthy, and mineral nuances. It is medium-full bodied on the rich palate offering elegance with balanced acids and very nice aroma replays, plus some butter and vanilla notes from the oak. Excellent length on the finish. Score: 91 pts

Domaine Jean-Paul et Benoit Droin Valmur Chablis Grand Cru 2015 (91 pts)


Monday, April 24, 2017

  • Monday, April 24, 2017

VINTAGES Release April 29, 2017: Oregon + Washington + Germany + Rosé

LCBO Wine Picks from April 29, 2017 VINTAGES Release
The upcoming LCBO VINTAGES Release on will be on shelves this coming and features the wines from Washington and Oregon as its main theme. The mini-themes highlight the wines from Germany, as well as a fresh crop of Rosé wines for Spring sipping.

We'll begin with the feature on wines from the U.S. Pacific Northwest States of Oregon and Washington. For some odd reason, only 5 wines were listed from Oregon, whereas Washington received double the amount with 10 wines listed. From Oregon, only the (dry) Pinot Gris from Willamette Valley made my list of wine picks - I suppose all the great Willamette Pinot Noir is being saved for the Fall/Holiday Releases. From Washington, there is an aromatic Viognier and an off-dry (i.e. slightly sweet) Riesling, both from Columbia Valley.

Elk Cove Pinot Gris 2015 (89 pts)Reichsgraf Von Kesselstatt Kaseler Nies’chen Riesling Kabinett 2014 (91 pts)

The mini-theme from Germany is also rather small, listing just 4 wines to showcase the different styles of wines that are produced by this country. The main attraction though is the varied styles of Riesling, ranging from dry to sweet. Two of the three Rieslings are listed among my wine recommendations, and both on the sweeter side - a Riesling Kabinett and even more sweeter Riesling Spätlese.

The last thematic features 11 Rosé wines, and 2 are included among my wine picks. Both of these Rosés are dry (i.e. not sweet) in style and are made with Pinot Noir.

Jean-Max Roger La Grange Dimière Sancerre Rosé 2016 (90 pts)Marqués de Cáceres Gran Reserva 2009 (90 pts)

From the rest of the release, in red wines, the Quinta de Cabriz is a blend of 40% Alfrocheiro, 40% Tinta Roriz, and 20% Touriga Nacional, while the Spanish Rioja is a blend of 85% Tempranillo, 10% Garnacha and 5% Graciano. From France, the Chinon is 100% Cabernet Franc, while the Cave de Roquebrun is a blend of Syrah, Grenache and Mourvèdre. For 2013, The Hess Colletion's 19 Block Mountain Cuvee is a Malbec-heavy (61%) blend that also contains 33% Cabernet Sauvignon, 6% Petit Verdot/Syrah.

In whites wines, the Burgundy is Chardonnay, while the Sancerre is a Sauvignon Blanc.

Enjoy my top wine picks from this release! Cheers!

Red Wine:

  • QUINTA DE CABRIZ COLHEITA SELECCIONADA 2014 - DOC Dão, Portugal (#247973) (D) - $13.95
  • TOURNON MATHILDA CHAPOUTIER SHIRAZ 2013 - Victoria, Australia (#336966) (XD) - $17.95
  • CAVE DE ROQUEBRUN LA GRANGE DES COMBES SAINT-CHINIAN-ROQUEBRUN 2014 - AC, Midi, France (#155804) (D) - $18.95
  • SERGE & BRUNO SOURDAIS LE LOGIS DE LA BOUCHARDIÈRE CHINON 2015 - AC, Loire, France (#490375) (XD) - $18.95
  • PENLEY ESTATE HYLAND SHIRAZ 2014 - Coonawarra, South Australia (#409078) (XD) - $18.95
  • ZUCCARDI APELACIÓN VISTA FLORES MALBEC 2014 - Uco Valley, Mendoza, Argentina (#482760) (XD) - $24.95
  • MITCHELL SEVENHILL VINEYARD CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2008 - Clare Valley, South Australia (#673129) (XD) - $24.95
  • MARQUÉS DE CÁCERES GRAN RESERVA 2009 - DOCa Rioja, Spain (#976670) (XD) - $29.95  reviewed here
  • BURROWING OWL SYRAH 2014 - VQA Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, Canada (#073072) (XD) - $40.95
  • THE HESS COLLECTION 19 BLOCK MOUNTAIN CUVÉE 2013 - Mount Veeder/Napa Valley, California, USA (#018879) (XD) - $49.95
  • BUON TEMPO ALTA BRUNELLO DI MONTALCINO 2010 - DOCG, Tuscany, Italy (#483784) (XD) - $69.95  FSE

White Wine:

  • HOGUE RIESLING 2014 - Columbia Valley, Washington, USA (#363291) (D) - $15.95
  • ERNIE ELS SAUVIGNON BLANC 2016 - WO Western Cape, South Africa (#455907) (XD) - $16.95
  • FLAT ROCK CHARDONNAY 2015 - VQA Twenty Mile Bench, Niagara Escarpment, Ontario, Canada (#286278) (D) - $18.95  reviewed here
  • POWERS COLUMBIA VALLEY VIOGNIER 2015 - Talcott Vineyard, Wahluke Slope, Columbia Valley, Washington, USA (#486993) (XD) - $18.95
  • MOMO PINOT GRIS 2015 - Marlborough, South Island, New Zealand (#163535) (D) - $19.95
  • ELK COVE PINOT GRIS 2015 - Willamette Valley, Oregon, USA (#955906) (XD) - $24.95  reviewed here
  • REICHSGRAF VON KESSELSTATT KASELER NIES’CHEN RIESLING KABINETT 2014 - VDP Grosse Lage, Pradikätswein, Mosel, Germany (#940809) (MS) - $24.95  reviewed here
  • DOMAINE DE LA DENANTE LES MAILLETTES SAINT-VÉRAN 2014 - AC, Burgundy, France (#491738) (XD) - $26.95
  • PASCAL JOLIVET SANCERRE 2016 - AC, Loire, France (#264945) (XD) - $29.95
  • SCHLOSS VOLLRADS RIESLING SPÄTLESE 2014 - Pradikätswein, Rheingau, Germany (#101972) (M) - $34.95

Rosé Wine:

  • THE KING’S DESIRE PINOT ROSÉ 2016 - Marlborough, South Island, New Zealand (#492926) (XD) - $19.95
  • JEAN-MAX ROGER LA GRANGE DIMIÈRE SANCERRE ROSÉ 2016 - AC, Loire, France (#490813) (XD) - $25.95  reviewed here


Saturday, April 22, 2017

  • Saturday, April 22, 2017

Jean-Max Roger La Grange Dîmière Sancerre Rosé 2016 (France) - Wine Review

wine is something new to VINTAGES and will be available on LCBO shelves across Ontario as part of the upcoming VINTAGES Release on .

This rose wine is produced by Jean-Max Roger, a family from the village of Bué with winegrowing traditions dating back to the 17th century. This winery produces white wines from Sauvignon Blanc and red and rosé wines from Pinot Noir, such as this La Grange Dîmière Sancerre Rosé.

The name "La Grange Dîmière" for this wine is in reference to one of Bué's ancient tithe barns which constitutes the oldest part of their winery. The grapes are pressed using a pneumatic press and the must is cold-settled for between 48 and 72 hours. Grape sediment is carefully removed and the clear juice is brought up to temperature, followed by addition of yeasts and fermentation taking place for 4-8 weeks under controlled temperatures. The wine is finished using Bentonite fining and Kieselguhr filtering.

Jean-Max Roger La Grange Dîmière Sancerre Rosé 2016 (90 pts)

Tasting Note:

JEAN-MAX ROGER LA GRANGE DÎMIÈRE SANCERRE ROSÉ 2016 - AC, Loire, France (#490813) (XD) - $25.95
100% Pinot Noir and pretty salmon pink colour. Pretty red cherry, strawberry and tart citrus aromas from the cork. Aromas of tart red cherry, red currant, strawberry, citrus and whiffs of banana from the glass are quite intense and a touch candied. The palate is medium-bodied with a silky mouthfeel and fresh, balanced acids. More cherry, currant, and banana flavours with hints of herbal mint and minerality add complexity. Dry overall with excellent finish length. Ideal as an apertif or pair with salads, fish or poultry. Score: 90 pts


Sunday, April 16, 2017

  • Sunday, April 16, 2017

Bel Echo Pinot Noir 2012 (New Zealand) - Wine Review

wine was purchased back in 2014 from the LCBO VINTAGES Release, where "Summery New Zealand Wines" were featured as the main release and this wine was listed as the Benchmark/Wine of the Month.

Produced by Clos Henri, a French family from Sancerre whose roots in winemaking go back 10 generations. The grapes for this wine are grown predominantly on their free draining river stone soil, without any irrigation, thereby stressing the vines and providing fruit with the purest expression of terroir,

The 2012 is no longer available at the LCBO, but small quantities of the 2014 vintage are available, and if history is any indication, the 2016 should come through VINTAGES next year.

Bel Echo Pinot Noir 2012 (91 pts)

Tasting Note:

BEL ECHO PINOT NOIR 2012 - 'Terroir: Greywacke', Marlborough, South Island, New Zealand (#159137) (XD) - $22.95
Terroir blend of Greywacke riverbed (65%) and Broadbridge clay (35%) soil, and bottled under screw cap. Screw cap. Highly aromatic, complex and alluring nose that bounces between blackberry, mulberry, cherry, red currant, sweet spice, earth and a hint of herbs. Some dried cherry and floral notes also appear with time in glass. The palate is medium-bodied with silky smooth and refined tannins. With air, flavour profile offers earthy spiciness along with cherry and strawberry notes. Rush of acidity mid-palate gives way to long, juicy finish. If you still have it, enjoy this fine wine over the next 12 months. Score: 91 pts


Saturday, April 15, 2017

  • Saturday, April 15, 2017

Southbrook Vineyards Wine Tasting - March 2017

Southbrook Vineyards Portfolio Tasting
, I was invited to a wine tasting by André Proulx to taste through some of the latest wines from Southbrook Vineyards - a winery that pursues organic and biodynamic viticulture that I've featured many times on this blog.

There were 13 wines available for tasting, including the 2015 Southbrook Organic Triomphe Pinot Noir and 2015 Southbrook Organic Triomphe Chardonnay that I previously tasted earlier this year, as well as other wines from the Triomphe line of wines that are an expression of carefully tended vines that produce quality wines.

The majority of the wines were from the Estate Grown Small Lot series and tended to be my favourite of the bunch. These organic and biodynamic wines are hand-made to express the unique contributors to winemaking - site, soil, climate, vintage, and the human touch. A sub-series within this line of wines is the Estate Barrel Series, where winemaker Ann Sperling illustrates the subtleties that different barrels can make to Chardonnay and Cabernet Franc bottlings. We got to taste the exquisite 'Allier' Chardonnay, but there are 3 other Chardonnays in this line as well, plus 6 Cabernet Francs - it would've been great to taste all of these side-by-side. A visit to the winery to taste through the rest of the Estate Barrel Series may be in order.

In addition to the above, there was also a wild ferment cider, an effervescent bubbly made with 100% Vidal, and a lovely Chardonnay from their top-of-the-line Poetica series.

Guiding us through the tasting were Paul DeCampo, Director of Marketing & Sales, and Andrew Redelmeier, son of owners Bill and Marilyn Redelmeier who is also a Sales & Marketing Specialist at Southbrook Vineyards.

Wine reviews of my favourite wines at this tasting are provided below, and all of the wines are available (or will be available soon) for purchase direct through the winery.

From left to right: André Proulx, Paul DeCampo and Andrew Redelmeier

Southbrook Portfolio Tasting + Cheese

Tasting Notes:

SOUTHBROOK ESTATE GROWN SMALL LOT 'ALLIER' CHARDONNAY 2013 - VQA Four Mile Creek, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $39.95
Aged for 11 months in combination of new and old oak sourced from the Allier forest in central France, this has a gorgeous nose that is very appealing with elegant, sweet vanilla, nutty, butter and integrated oak with hints of pear. The palate is medium-bodied with nice depth, balanced acids and very nice aroma replays led by more nutty characters and hints of caramel and smoke. Excellent finish length. Score: 91 pts

Southbrook Estate Grown Small Lot 'Allier' Chardonnay 2013 (91 pts)Southbrook Poetica Chardonnay 2013 (91 pts)

SOUTHBROOK POETICA CHARDONNAY 2013 - VQA Four Mile Creek, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada (#366500) (XD) - $49.95
Seems somewhat closed compared to a couple of weeks ago at Taste Ontario, offering medium-high aromatics of stone fruit and oak. The palate is medium-bodied and minerally textured with rich stone fruit flavours and integrated oak notes. Refined with balanced acids. Very good finish length with some nutty flavours adding interest. Has the stuffing to age a number of years, but is enjoyable now. Score: 91 pts

SOUTHBROOK ESTATE GROWN SMALL LOT '101' CABERNET FRANC 2013 - VQA Four Mile Creek, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $34.95
My favourite red of the tasting, this is 91% Cabernet Franc and 9% Cabernet Sauvignon that is sourced from the "101" vineyard, this is highly aromatic with very nice red & black fruits, herbaceous, tobacco, leather, and dark currant aromas. The palate is medium-full bodied with ripe tannins integrating nicely and very appealing aroma replays. Refined with finely balanced acids and long finishing. Will reward 2+ years ageing and drink to 2023. Score: 91 pts

Southbrook Estate Grown Small Lot '101' Cabernet Franc 2013 (91 pts)

SOUTHBROOK ESTATE GROWN SMALL LOT PETIT VERDOT 2013 - VQA Four Mile Creek, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $39.95
Appears shy at the moment, offering glimpses of dark berry fruit, black cherry, and oak along with hints of purple fruit, earth and barnyard notes, all of which come through nicely on the full-bodied palate. Tannins are well-integrated and balanced by very good, juicy acids. The finish length is very good. Score: 89 pts

Southbrook Estate Grown Small Lot Petit Verdot 2013 (89 pts)Southbrook Estate Grown Small Lot 'Witness Block' Cabernet Sauvignon / Cabernet Franc 2013 (90+ pts)

SOUTHBROOK ESTATE GROWN SMALL LOT 'WITNESS BLOCK' CABERNET SAUVIGNON / CABERNET FRANC 2013 - VQA Four Mile Creek, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $39.95
A blend of 60% Cabernet Sauvignon (from 2003 planting), 37% Cabernet Franc, and 3% Merlot, this has medium-high aromatics that offer touches of evergreen, red and black fruits, cassis and black cherry. Oak is well-integrated on the full-bodied palate with nice aroma replays and balanced acids. Long finishing. Slightly chalky tannins should soften with time. Drink over the next 5 years. Score: 90+ pts


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