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


Tuesday, April 11, 2017

  • Tuesday, April 11, 2017

VINTAGES Release April 15, 2017: Mediterranean + Aussie Whites

LCBO Wine Picks from April 15, 2017 VINTAGES Release
The upcoming LCBO VINTAGES Release on will be on shelves this coming and features wines that basked in the Mediterranean Sun as its main theme, while the mini-theme highlights 3 styles of Aussie white wines perfect for Spring sipping.

We'll begin with the main feature on wines from sunny Mediterranean countries such as Italy, Spain, Greece and Croatia. Even though this is the main feature, it only lists 8 wines. On the bright side, 3 of the 8 wines are included among my top wine picks. From Italy, there is a nice, clean and lively Fiano from the sunny climes of Campania in southwestern Italy. Also from Italy is a lovely blend of local varietals Nerello Mascalese (95%) and Nerello Cappuccio (5%) from the island of Sicily in southern Italy - the grapes for this wine come from the volcanic soils on the northern slopes of Mount Etna. The third and final wine from the main theme is the Jaspi Negre (Black Jade) and consists of 45% Grenache, 25% Carignan, 15% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 15% Syrah from vines that are as much as 90 years old.

Likewise, the mini-theme of Aussie whites for Spring sipping lists only 7 wines, but 3 are included among my wine recommendations. First up is a premium off-dry Riesling with bright acids. Meanwhile, the Tournon Mathilda is a blend of Viognier and Marsanne, while the Alkoomi is a blend of 67% Semillon and 33% Sauvignon Blanc.

Other whites in this release include the Bordeaux Blanc that's a blend of 55% Sauvignon Blanc and 45% Sémillon, the Muscadet Sèvre & Maine that is made with the Melon de Bourgogne varietal, and the 1er Cru Chablis is a lightly oaked Chardonnay.

In red wines from France, the Château de Tréviac is a blend of Syrah and Grenache, and the Château Beau-Site is a blend of mostly Cabernet Sauvignon and some Merlot. In the Riojas from Spain, the Lealtanza is 100% Tempranillo, while the Muga Rioja is a blend of 80% Tempranillo and 20% Garnacha / Mazuelo / Graciano. And lastly, the Napa Cab is actually a blend of 77% Cabernet Sauvignon, 11% Cabernet Franc, 9% Merlot, 1% Malbec, 1% Petite Verdot, and 1% Syrah.

Enjoy my wine picks from this release! Cheers!

Red Wine:

  • BOUTARI NAOUSSA XINOMAVRO 2014 - PDO Naoussa, Greece (#023218) (XD) - $13.95  reviewed here
  • ECHEVERRIA GRAN RESERVA PINOT NOIR 2014 - Leyda Valley, Chile (#485284) (XD) - $15.95
  • CHÂTEAU DE TRÉVIAC 2014 - AP Corbières, Midi, France (#670505) (XD) - $16.95
  • RUCA MALEN RESERVA MALBEC 2013 - Mendoza, Argentina (#482778) (XD) - $17.95
  • JASPI NEGRE 2013 - DO Montsant, Spain (#481085) (XD) - $17.95
  • TORNATORE NERELLO MASCALESE 2014 - DOC Etna Rosso, Sicily, Italy (#487090) (XD) - $21.95
  • LEALTANZA SELECCIÓN DE FAMILIA RESERVA 2009 - DOCa Rioja, Spain (#472704) (XD) - $29.95  FSE
  • CLOSSON CHASE CLOSSON CHASE VINEYARD PINOT NOIR 2014 - VQA Prince Edward County, Ontario, Canada (#145888) (XD) - $29.95  FSE  reviewed here
  • CHÂTEAU BEAU-SITE 2011 - AC Saint-Estèphe, Bordeaux, France (#967844) (XD) - $44.95
  • SEQUOIA GROVE CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2013 - Napa Valley, California, USA (#060020) (XD) - $64.95
  • MUGA PRADO ENEA GRAN RESERVA 2009 - DOCa Rioja, Spain (#743310) (XD) - $57.95  FSE
Closson Chase Closson Chase Vineyard Pinot Noir 2014 (90 pts)

White Wine:

  • ALKOOMI WHITE LABEL SÉMILLON/SAUVIGNON BLANC 2016 - Frankland River, Western Australia (#428383) (XD) - $16.95
  • LA GRIFFE BERNARD CHÉREAU MUSCADET SÈVRE & MAINE 2015 - Sur Lie, AP, Loire, France (#948182) (XD) - $16.95
  • PORCONERO FIANO 2015 - IGP Campania, Italy (#485201) (XD) - $16.95
  • LÉGENDE BORDEAUX BLANC 2015 - AC Bordeaux, France (#479808) (XD) - $17.95
  • M. CHAPOUTIER TOURNON MATHILDA 2014 - Victoria, Australia (#401398) (XD) - $17.95
  • ATTEMS PINOT GRIGIO 2015 - IGT Venezia Giulia, Venezia, Italy (#707950) (D) - $19.95  reviewed here
  • SACRED HILL RESERVE SAUVIGNON BLANC 2016 - Marlborough, South Island, New Zealand (#490326) (XD) - $21.95
  • MITCHELL WATERVALE RIESLING 2014 - Clare Valley, South Australia (#487785) (D) - $21.95
  • CHANSON PÈRE ET FILS MONTMAINS CHABLIS 1ER CRU 2013 - AC, Burgundy, France (#485318) (XD) - $44.95
Attems Pinot Grigio 2015 (89 pts)

Sparkling Wine:

  • JACQUESSON CUVÉE NO. 739 EXTRA BRUT CHAMPAGNE - AC, France (#234120) (XD) - $72.95


Saturday, April 8, 2017

  • Saturday, April 8, 2017

Domaine Tournon Mathilda Shiraz 2011 (Australia) - Wine Review

wine is a lovely Shiraz made by the visionary Michel Chapoutier. It was purchased nearly three years ago from the LCBO VINTAGES Release, and, obviously, not currently available at the LCBO, but does periodically show up in VINTAGES. As luck would have it, the 2013 vintage will be on VINTAGES shelves on .

Domaine Tournon Mathilda Shiraz 2011 (90 pts)

Tasting Note:

DOMAINE TOURNON MATHILDA SHIRAZ 2011 - Victoria, Australia (#327395) (XD) - $19.95
Screw cap. Medium-high aromatics with terrific complexity offering white pepper, garrigue, blackberry, mint, with some earthy/barnyard funk. Dusty tannins are nicely integrated with just a touch of grip on the medium-bodied palate. Juicy blackberry, white pepper, black cherry, mint, earth and wood flavours in a dry style, Acids are fresh. Nice, long earthy finish. Old world in style and highly drinkable. Enjoyed with homemade butter chicken tonight. Score: 90 pts


Tuesday, April 4, 2017

  • Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Vineland Estates Wine Tasting at Opus Restaurant

Vineland Estates Wine Tasting at Opus Restaurant
In , I was invited by Halpern Enterprises to an exclusive tasting of Vineland Estates wines at the elegant Opus Restaurant in the Bloor-Yorkville Area in downtown Toronto.

It was a small-ish tasting, featuring 13 wines from their Classic, Elevation, and Reserve Series, with a focus more on licensees as most of the wines presented were only available for purchase direct through the winery (or the Agent).

Vineland Estates is located on the Niagara Escarpment and has been elevating the wine and culinary experience for over 30 years. The site features some very old structures, including the landmark stone tower that stands over a former Mennonite homestead with structures that date back to the 1840s. These structures now encompass a restaurant, retail store and wine tasting bar, underground barrel cellar, and the Carriage House that's used for private events. I have personally visited the winery quite a few times and have also enjoyed dinners at their restaurant.

In more recent news, the winery acquired a high-tech optical sorter to help produce better wines, in particular Cabernet Sauvignon. This grape requires a very long growing season to fully ripen, and is quite difficult to achieve full ripeness in the cool-climate region of Niagara. Every harvest produces exceptional grapes in all varieties, but the challenge is to find the best grapes out of the hundreds (or thousands) of tonnes that are produced. This cutting edge device optically sorts each individual grape according to ripeness levels at a rate of 10 tonnes per hour and discards the grapes that don't meet requirements. Vineland Estates' winemaker Brian Schmidt calls this technology a "game changer", and I fully expect an increase in quality in their wines going forward. Their "Game Changer" Red and White wines are made in reference to this technology.

Wine reviews of my 5 favourite wines from this tasting are provided below, a couple of which are available at the LCBO.

Tasting Notes:

VINELAND ESTATES BRUT RESERVE 2013 - VQA Ontario, Canada (D) - $28.00
Blended with 48.1% Pinot Meunier, 42.5% Chardonnay and 9.4% Riesling and using the Charmat Method to create this fine bubbly. Aromas of medium-high intensity showing citrus, peach, brioche, toasty, yeasty, and lemon/lime nose. It's medium-full bodied with fine, creamy bubbles providing a very next texture. Peach and citrus flavours on the palate are a touch sweet. Acids are juicy and well-balanced. Long, satisying finish. This is very fine. Score: 90 pts

Vineland Estates Brut Reserve 2013 (90 pts)Vineland Estates Elevation St. Urban Vineyard Riesling 2015 (89 pts)

VINELAND ESTATES ELEVATION ST. URBAN VINEYARD RIESLING 2015 - VQA Twenty Mile Bench, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#038117) (MS) - $19.95
Served much too cold, but hints of orange citrus, petrol, Flintstones vitamins, and golden apple peek through as it warms. It's medium-bodied with nice, brisk acidity to keep things fresh. Pleasing semi-sweet aroma replays on the palate with nuances of apple and honey. Finish is long and minerally. First released into VINTAGES on December 10th. Score: 89 pts

VINELAND ESTATES GAME CHANGER RED 2014 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#457523) (XD) - $14.95
A blend of 92% Cabernet Franc, 4% Merlot, and 4% Cabernet Sauvignon. Medium intensity aromas of red and black fruits, subtle oak spice and currant which continue on the flavour profile. Sweet tannins are supple and nicely structured on the medium-bodied palate. Acids are fresh. Some bretty notes on the long finish. Score: 86 pts

Vineland Estates Game Changer Red 2014 (86 pts)Vineland Estates Elevation Cabernet 2014 (89 pts)

VINELAND ESTATES ELEVATION CABERNET 2014 - VQA Niagara Escarpment, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (D) - $28.00
Blend of 67% Cabernet Franc and 33% Cabernet Sauvignon. Somewhat closed (but should show well after short decant), this has currant, herbally, cassis and mineral aromas. It's full-bodied with nicely integrated tannins that are refined and smooth. Aroma replays are nicely balanced on the flavour profile. Acids are very good and finish is long. Score: 89 pts

VINELAND ESTATES SELECT LATE HARVEST CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2013 - VQA Niagara Escarpment, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (MS) (375 mL) - $24.95
Highly aromatic and appealing nose offers sweet cassis jelly, currant, strawberry jam and liqueur which continue on the medium-full bodied palate. A touch spicy on the mid-palate with balanced acids. Finishes long and a touch dry. Score: 88+ pts

Vineland Estates Select Late Harvest Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 (88+ pts)


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