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  • Saturday, September 30, 2017

Lavau Rasteau 2014 (Rhône) - Wine Review

red wine will be on LCBO shelves later this month as it will be released into LCBO VINTAGES on .

It is produced by the Lavau family, whose passion for wine and love of terroir and the land began in Saint-Émilion in the 19th century. The family moves to Tunisia and becomes the country's biggest wine producer before returning to France and settling in Rhône, where Maison Lavau was officially founded in 1965.

This particular red wine comes from the Rasteau AOC, in the southern wine region of Rhône, with vineyards located on east-facing, stony/pebbly hillsides that are fairly deep and dry, resulting in low yields and late ripening.

Lavau Rasteau 2014 (89 pts)

Tasting Note:

LAVAU RASTEAU 2014 - AC, Rhône, France (#394650) (XD) - $19.95
Aged for 1-2 years, with 30% of this wine aged in used 450 litre oak barrels. A 50/50 blend of Grenache and Syrah. Black plum dark berry and wood spice aromas from the cork. In the glass, this has medium intensity aromas of black plum, dark berry, raspberry, licorice, garrigue, and wood spice with hints of black pepper notes. It's medium+ bodied on the palate with smooth, supple tannins that are just a touch grippy and gain volume with time. Chocolate, raspberry, blackberry, red currant flavours, with touches of sour cherry and charcuterie notes appear on the palate. Acids are fresh and juicy and the finish length is very good, ending with a savoury aftertaste. Shows good complexity overall. Best over the next 2-3 years. Score: 89 pts

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  • Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Goats do Roam White 2017 (South Africa) - Wine Review

wine is an easy drinking white wine with a unique/fun name that you may have come across while browsing LCBO shelves as it's been available in our market for quite a few years now.

It is produced by the Fairview Wine Farm in South Africa, and while the name "Goats do Roam" is considered by some to be a play on "Côtes du Rhône" as it contains the same varietals found in Rhône whites, it is in fact (according to the website) from legend.

The story behind the name goes like this: Some errant members of Fairview’s long-established goat herd once escaped from their paddock into the Fairview vineyards after Charles Back’s young son Jason accidentally left the gate open; The little group happily roamed among the vineyards, showing rare discernment by selecting some of the ripest berries from the vines; Those berries were then used to make this white blend.

The 2017 vintage is the latest vintage and packaged in an eco-friendly, lighter-weight bottle. It is widely available (if not already, then really soon) at LCBO outlets across Ontario as it is a General List product.

Goats do Roam White 2017 (86 pts)

Tasting Note:

GOATS DO ROAM WHITE 2017 - WO Western Cape, South Africa (#237313) (XD) - $11.95
Bottled under screw cap, this is a traditional Rhône blend of 49% Viognier, 28% Roussanne, and 23% Grenache Blanc. The medium intensity nose offers widely appealing ripe tropical fruit, orange zest, white peach and white floral aromas. On the medium-full bodied palate, it's got zesty acids with more ripe tropical fruit, melon, and orange peel flavours in an essentially dry profile. There's some bitterness on the mid-palate and good length on the finish. Chill well and serve with hearty fish such as Salmon. Score: 86 pts

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  • Tuesday, September 26, 2017

LCBO VINTAGES September 30, 2017: Family Matters + Sangiovese + Thanksgiving

LCBO Wine Picks from September 30, 2017 VINTAGES Release
The next release into LCBO VINTAGES on features 6 top wineries where "Family Matters" as its main theme. The mini-themes in this release focus on the Sangiovese grape varietal and fine wines for Thanksgiving. New wines will be on shelves this coming .

We'll begin with the feature titled "Family Matters", where the focus is on six winemaking families that uphold traditions and have a commitment to the land from generation to generation. Of the twelve wines listed, just two are included among my top wine picks. The Pennachetti family began forming roots in Niagara region in the 1920s and founded Cave Spring Cellars in 1986 and is currently owned by the third generation of the family. Their Chardonnay Musqué is among my wine recommendations below. The other family featured among my wine picks is the Torres Family from Spain that has been associated with winemaking for over 300 years, and their Cabernet Sauvignon is the 40th vintage of this wine.

Cave Spring Estate Bottled Chardonnay Musqué 2015 (88+ pts)2027 Falls Vineyard Riesling 2016 (88+ pts)

From the Thanksgiving theme that listed eight wines, only the Ontario Riesling made the cut. Amazingly, none of the six wines featured in the Sangiovese theme made it on my list of wine picks.

In red wines from the rest of the release, many of which would go great with a rich Thanksgiving meal, include a Tinta de Toro (a.k.a. Tempranillo) and the Cúmaro that is made with Montepulciano. The Strapper GSM is a blend of Grenache/Shiraz/Mataro, while the 2010 Bordeaux (from an excellent vintage) is a blend of the Cabernets and Merlot.

Umani Ronchi Cúmaro Riserva Conero 2011 (91 pts)Hidden Bench Fumé Blanc 2015 (90+ pts)

Among my white wine picks, the Custoza is a ripe, slightly sweet blend of Garganega, Cortese, and Riesling. The Fumé Blanc is a barrel-fermented Sauvignon Blanc, while the Pouilly-Fuissé is made with Chardonnay.

Enjoy my wine recommendations from this release! Cheers!

Red Wine:

  • G7 RESERVA SYRAH 2015 - Estate bottled, Loncomilla Valley, Maule Valley, Chile (#514067) (XD) - $15.95
  • THYMIOPOULOS YOUNG VINES XINOMAVRO 2015 - Unfiltered, PDO Naoussa, Greece (#466474) (XD) - $17.95
  • TESSELLAE VIEILLES VIGNES CARIGNAN 2015 - IGP Cotes Catalanes, Roussillon, France (#343509) (D) - $17.95
  • TERRA D’URO FINCA LA RANA TORO 2012 - DO Toro, Spain (#424135) (D) - $18.95
  • YALUMBA THE STRAPPER GSM 2014 - Barossa Valley, South Australia (#295873) (D) - $19.95
  • 2027 CELLARS QUEENSTON ROAD VINEYARD PINOT NOIR 2013 - VQA St. David’s Bench, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada (#421370) (XD) - $28.25  reviewed here
  • UMANI RONCHI CÚMARO RISERVA CONERO 2011 - DOCG, Marche, Italy (#699587) (XD) - $29.95  reviewed here
  • SEGHESIO BAROLO 2011 - DOCG, Piedmont, Italy (#496877) (XD) - $49.95
  • TORRES MAS LA PLANA CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2010 - 40th vintage, DO Penedès, Spain (#129676) (XD) - $59.95
  • CHÂTEAU MARSAC-SEGUINEAU 2010 - AC Margaux, Bordeaux, France (#512350) (XD) - $59.95
2027 Cellars Queenston Road Vineyard Pinot Noir 2013 (90+ pts)

White Wine:

  • BODEGA EL PORVENIR DE CAFAYATE AMAUTA ABSOLUTO TORRONTÉS 2016 - Cafayate Valley, Salta, Argentina (#489179) (XD) - $14.95
  • GORGO SAN MICHELIN CUSTOZA 2015 - DOC, Veneto, Italy (#428045) (D) - $15.95
  • CAVE SPRING ESTATE BOTTLED CHARDONNAY MUSQUÉ 2015 - Cave Spring Vineyard, VQA Beamsville Bench, Niagara Escarpment, Ontario, Canada (#246579) (XD) - $16.95  reviewed here
  • TE PA PINOT GRIS 2015 - Marlborough, South Island, New Zealand (#519884) (XD) - $17.95  reviewed here
  • 2027 FALLS VINEYARD RIESLING 2016 - VQA Vinemount Ridge, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#294041) (D) - $18.95  reviewed here
  • AUNTSFIELD SINGLE VINEYARD SAUVIGNON BLANC 2016 - Southern Valleys, Marlborough, South Island, New Zealand (#663286) (XD) - $20.95
  • HIDDEN BENCH FUMÉ BLANC 2015 - Rosomel Vineyard, VQA Beamsville Bench, Niagara Escarpment, Ontario, Canada (#068825) (XD) - $29.45  reviewed here
  • ROBERT MONDAVI NAPA VALLEY CHARDONNAY 2014 - Napa Valley, California, USA (#310409) (XD) - $29.95
  • TRIMBACH RÉSERVE RIESLING 2013 - AC Alsace, France (#247023) (XD) - $30.95  FSE
  • DEUX ROCHES VIEILLES VIGNES POUILLY-FUISSÉ 2014 - AP, Burgundy, France (#488825) (XD) - $31.95
  • HAMILTON RUSSELL CHARDONNAY 2016 - WO Hemel-en-Aarde Valley, Walker Bay, South Africa (#931006) (XD) - $43.95
te Pa Pinot Gris 2015 (88 pts)

Dessert Wine:

  • CHÂTEAU RIEUSSEC 2010 - 1er Cru, AC Sauternes, Bordeaux, France (#263012) (S) (375 mL) $87.95  FSE

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  • Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Rodney Strong Blending Seminar with Winemaker Rick Sayre

Rodney Strong Blending Seminar

In , I had the pleasure of attending a Blending Seminar with Winemaker Rick Sayre of Rodney Strong Vineyards at Restaurant Bosk inside the Shangri-La Hotel in downtown Toronto. This was my first such experience, so I was honestly very excited to be part of this fascinating event.

After Rick provided a brief introduction of himself and some of the history of Rodney Strong Vineyards, we began with the business of blending wine. Everyone was split into groups of 3, and the task was to recreate the 2013 Rodney Strong Symmetry Meritage (pronounced like heritage) red wine by tasting each of the 5 varietals separately before crafting the blend. This process provided a small window into the world of a winemaker because they also go through this process when crafting their wines.

Wine Blending
To offer some help, Rick provide hints during the introduction, such as this wine usually includes at least 60% will be Cabernet Sauvignon, and that Petit Verdot is used in relatively small quantities. We were provided with a cylinder, funnel and pipettes to precisely craft our blend.
Once each group was satisfied with their blend, they submitted their wine to Rick for assessment. Our blend consisted of 68% Cabernet Sauvignon, 22% Merlot, 5% Malbec, 3% Cabernet Franc, and 2% Petit Verdot. The results were announced shortly thereafter and, based on Rick's comments, it sounded like he enjoyed our wine the most, mentioning that it was very much a Bordeaux style of wine. However, this task was not about creating a Bordeaux style of wine; instead, the task was to create a Californian style of wine, such as the Symmetry. Thus, unfortunately, we did not win the competition, nor the prize that came along with it.

The winning team, oddly enough, consisted of 2 Chefs and a Somm. Congratulations to my friends Chef Eyal Liebman and Sommelière Rebecca Meïr-Liebman of Chef & Somm as they were two-thirds of the winning team! They crafted their blend using 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Malbec, 10% Merlot, 6% Petit Verdot, and 4% Cabernet Franc. The actual blend of the 2013 Symmetry consisted of 76% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Petit Verdot, 8% Cabernet Franc, 4% Malbec and 4% Merlot. I was surprised at how much Petit Verdot and Cabernet Franc was in the Symmetry, as well as how little Merlot was included.

Winemaker Rick Sayre (second from left) with Winners of Wine Blending Competition Chef Eyal Liebman and Sommelière Rebecca Meïr-Liebman

After the blending seminar, we were invited upstairs for a Reception to taste a few other wines from the Rodney Strong portfolio. Wine reviews of the Symmetry, as well as a few of the other wines tasted are provided below. These wines do show up in LCBO VINTAGES periodically, however, you can also reach out to the Agent, Mark Anthony Group, for your immediate needs.

Tasting Note:

RODNEY STRONG SYMMETRY 2013 - Alexander Valley, Sonoma County, California, USA (#641142) (XD) - $56.75
Blend of 76% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Petit Verdot, 8% Cabernet Franc, 4% Malbec and 4% Merlot. Medium-high intensity nose should open up further with air, this has pretty floral, bing cherry, sweet vanillan oak and hint of medicinal aromas. It's full-bodied and ripe on the palate with nice aroma replays - sweet vanillan oak and blueberry come to mind. It has structured, grippy tannins and very good acids to allow for long-term ageing. Long, earthy and dark berry finish. Score: 90+

Rodney Strong Symmetry 2013 (90+ pts)

RODNEY STRONG ALEXANDER'S CROWN SINGLE VINEYARD CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2013 - Alexander Valley, Sonoma County, California, USA (#329961) (XD) - $100
This 100% Cabernet Sauvignon is highly aromatic and shows lovely red currant, cassis, evergreen and mint notes. It's full-bodied and firm on the palate with structured tannins, mouth-watering acids and very nice aroma replays. The finish is long and smooth. A powerful wine with finesse that is enjoyable now, but will age gracefully for at least 15 years. Score: 92 pts

Rodney Strong Alexander's Crown Single Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 (92 pts)

RODNEY STRONG ROCKAWAY SINGLE VINEYARD CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2013 - Alexander Valley, Sonoma County, California, USA (#202507) (XD) - $100.95
Primarily Cabernet Sauvignon, with 12% Malbec, 4% Merlot, and 3% Petit Verdot completing the blend. Medium-high intensity aromas have dark fruit, blackberry, dark currant and oak notes. It's full-bodied with tight tannins on the palate, while showing finesse with dark berry aroma replays, plus leather and integrated oak flavours. It has very good acidity and finishes long. Drinkable now, but better in 3-4 years and should drink well to 2030. Score: 92 pts

Rodney Strong Rockaway Single Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 (92 pts)

RODNEY STRONG BROTHERS RIDGE CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2013 - Alexander Valley, Sonoma County, California, USA (#405209) (XD) - $89.75
100% Cabernet Sauvignon. Medium-high intensity aromatics offer dense, dark fruit, purple fruit, cassis, sweet oak and black plum aromas and flavours in a big package. It's full-bodied with mouth-watering acids and firm, structured tannins that are a bit tight. There's some minerality on the palate and it has a long, earthy finish. Age 3+ years and drink to the mid-2030's. Score: 92 pts

Rodney Strong Brothers Ridge Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 (92 pts)

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  • Sunday, September 17, 2017

Catena High Mountain Vines Malbec 2015 (Argentina) - Wine Review

wine is a VINTAGES Essential and is always available in the VINTAGES section at many LCBO outlets across the province. And because this red wine always available, it does go on promotion from time to time with either Bonus Air Miles or a couple of dollars off the regular retail price.

This wine has been produced by Bodega Catena Zapata for many years now, going back to at least 1996. My personal records show that I tasted the 2002 and 2005 vintages of this wine, as well as more recent vintages. Like the 2016 Catena High Mountain Vines Chardonnay that I enjoyed recently, the grapes for this 100% Malbec also come from 4 different high altitude mountain vineyards located at various elevations - Lunlunta (920 m), Agrelo (950 m), El Cepillo / Eugenio Bustos (1,090 m), and Gualtallary (1,450 m).

Catena High Mountain Vines Malbec 2015 (89 pts)

Tasting Note:

CATENA HIGH MOUNTAIN VINES MALBEC 2015 - Mendoza, Argentina (#478727) (XD) - $19.95
Ripe plum, berry, oak spices and a hint of violet aromas from the cork. The generous nose in the glass leads with blackberry and meaty aromas followed by hints of herb, oak spice and violet. The palate is medium-full bodied with fine tannins and lifted by bright acidity. Aromas come through nicely on the palate with blackberry, white pepper and meaty notes leading the way. The finish is long and earthy with hints of mocha. Paired well tonight with lamb burgers. A nice Malbec to enjoy over the next 5 years. Recommended buy. Score: 89 pts

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  • Wednesday, September 13, 2017

La Crema Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir 2015 (California) - Wine Review

red wine is a sneak preview of a nice Pinot Noir from the Sonoma Coast that will be in LCBO VINTAGES on .

I had the opportunity to taste (and enjoy) both the 2013 La Crema Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir and 2014 La Crema Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir last year and have similar expectations for this latest vintage from La Crema. The 2015 vintage was a bit of a challenge in Sonoma County due to the unusually cool weather in April and May, which led to low yields. Having said that, the grapes that were picked were of good quality.

For 2015, the fruit was hand-sorted and gently de-stemmed, with 70% whole berries in tank. Next, the grapes were cold-soaked at 48°F for three days, fermented primarily in open-top tanks and punched down three times per day during active fermentation. Post-fermentation free run was then transferred to tanks for one night of settling before racking to (20%) new and (80%) used French oak barrels, and raised for 9 months.

La Crema Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir 2015 (89 pts)

Tasting Note:

LA CREMA SONOMA COAST PINOT NOIR 2015 - Sonoma Coast, California, USA (#719435) (XD) - $29.95
Red cherry and plum aromas from the cork. In this glass, this has medium-high intensity aromas of red cherry, raspberry, sweet tobacco, earth and whiffs of black tea and strawberry. The palate is medium bodied and fleshy with a mixed berry medley of blackberry, cherry, and blueberry flavours layered on top of oak spice notes. Some tea leaf notes on the mid-palate. Succulent acids are fresh and juicy. Fine tannins offer a smooth mouthfeel. Cherry, earth, exotic spice, and tea leaf notes linger on the long finish. I really like the subtle tea leaf note that's found throughout. A fine, balanced wine from a reliable producer to enjoy over the next 3-4 years. Score: 89 pts

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  • Monday, September 11, 2017

LCBO VINTAGES September 16, 2017: Local Wines

LCBO Wine Picks from September 16, 2017 VINTAGES Release
The upcoming release in LCBO VINTAGES on is a mono-thematic release focusing on Local Wines from Ontario. New wines from this release will be on shelves at LCBO outlets across Ontario this .

The feature on Local Wines is titled "Crafted from the Ground Up" and touches upon the various aspects of winemaking that help produce fine wines. It starts with a suitable climate and exceptional soils to grow grapes and ends with Assemblage - the art of blending base wines into a final blend. Nineteen wines (plus one Vermouth) are listed in this thematic and four are included among my top wine picks. All three table wines from Ontario that I've chosen are white wines - there's a Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, both of which are dry, and an off-dry (i.e. medium sweet) Riesling. There's also a lovely Blanc de Blancs sparkling wine that is 100% Chardonnay from a single vineyard.

Closson Chase K.J. Watson Vineyard Pinot Gris 2016 (89 pts)Creekside Marianne Hill Riesling 2015 (88+ pts)

Among my red wine picks, the Crianza is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Grenache and Merlot from mountain vineyards located around the tiny village of Sada. The Gerard Bertrand is mostly Syrah with Grenache in support. while the Laurus is made with 100% Syrah. Lastly, the Isola e Olena is made with 100% Sangiovese.

In white wines, the Lugana is made with 100% Trebbiano di Lugana, while the Lafage wine from Midi is a blend of 40% Grenache Gris, 40% Grenache Blanc and 20% Roussanne.

Among my sparkling wine picks, the South African sparkler is a blend of 53% Chardonnay and 47% Pinot Noir, while the Duval Leroy Champagne is 100% Chardonnay. Lastly, the Dom Pérignon Luminous is a blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir and apparently has a unique glow-in-the-dark label!

Enjoy my wine recommendations from this release! Cheers!

Red Wine:

  • PALACIO DE SADA CRIANZA 2013 - DO Navarra, Spain (#246736) (XD) - $16.95
  • GÉRARD BERTRAND SYRAH/GRENACHE 2013 - AP Languedoc, South of France (#413237) (XD) - $16.95
  • TRAPICHE FINCA LAS PALMAS GRAN RESERVA MALBEC 2014 - Uco Valley, Mendoza, Argentina (#186668) (XD) - $16.95
  • SAN PEDRO 1865 SINGLE VINEYARD CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2014 - Maipo Valley, Chile (#037911) (D) - $19.95  reviewed here
  • RADFORD DALE SYRAH 2013 - WO Stellenbosch, South Africa (#433813) (XD) - $29.95  FSE
  • LAURUS SAINT JOSEPH 2014 - AP, Rhône, France (#499178) (XD) - $33.95  FSE
  • FARINA LE PEZZE AMARONE DELLA VALPOLICELLA CLASSICO 2013 - DOCG, Veneto, Italy (#171587) (D) - $34.95
  • PEPPERTREE CALCARE SINGLE VINEYARD CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2013 - Coonawarra, South Australia (#493601) (XD) - $39.95  FSE  reviewed here
  • BREZZA CANNUBI BAROLO 2012 - DOCG, Piedmont, Italy (#713511) (XD) - $67.95
  • ISOLE E OLENA CEPPARELLO 2013 - IGT Toscana, Italy (#025650) (XD) - $99.95
San Pedro 1865 Single Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 2014 (88 pts)

White Wine:

  • ZENATO SAN BENEDETTO LUGANA 2016 - DOC, Veneto, Italy (#707158) (D) - $17.95
  • DOMAINE LAFAGE CUVÉE CENTENAIRE 2016 - AP Côtes du Roussillon, Midi, France (#343491) (XD) - $17.95
  • THÖRLE ESTATE DRY RIESLING 2015 - Qualitätswein, Rheinhessen, Germany (#445817) (XD) - $18.95  FSE
  • SUGAR LOAF SAUVIGNON BLANC 2016 - Marlborough, South Island, New Zealand (#410001) (XD) - $19.95
  • CREEKSIDE MARIANNE HILL RIESLING 2015 - Marianne Hill Vineyard, VQA Beamsville Bench, Niagara Escarpment, Ontario, Canada (#443572) (M) - $20.90  reviewed here
  • CLOSSON CHASE K.J. WATSON VINEYARD PINOT GRIS 2016 - VQA Four Mile Creek, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada (#469445) (XD) - $22.95  reviewed here
  • HENRY OF PELHAM SPECK FAMILY RESERVE CHARDONNAY 2015 - VQA Short Hills Bench, Niagara Escarpment, Ontario, Canada (#616466) (XD) - $29.95  reviewed here
  • LANDMARK VINEYARDS OVERLOOK CHARDONNAY 2014 - Sonoma County, California, USA (#356501) (XD) - $34.95
  • CHÂTEAU DE LAVERNETTE VERS CHÂNE POUILLY FUISSÉ 2014 - AC, Burgundy, France (#499657) (XD) - $42.95

Sparkling Wine:

  • GRAHAM BECK BRUT PINOT NOIR/CHARDONNAY SPARKLING - Traditional method, WO Western Cape, South Africa (#593483) (XD) - $19.95
  • 2027 CELLARS QUEENSTON ROAD VINEYARD BLANC DE BLANCS 2013 - Traditional method, VQA St. David’s Bench, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada (#520619) (XD) - $29.95
  • DUVAL LEROY BLANC DE BLANCS GRAND CRU BRUT CHAMPAGNE 2006 - AC, France (#482828) (XD) - $59.95
  • DOM PÉRIGNON LUMINOUS BRUT CHAMPAGNE 2006 - AC, France (#422584) (XD) - $259.95  FSE

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  • Friday, September 8, 2017

Catena High Mountain Vines Chardonnay 2016 (Argentina) - Wine Review

wine is a recent arrival to the LCBO, as it was released into LCBO VINTAGES on . It was featured as part of the theme on high altitude wines from Argentina.

This white wine is produced by the legendary Bodega Catena Zapata. Founded in 1902 by Nicolás Catena Zapata, this winery is known for its pioneering role in resurrecting Malbec and in discovering extreme high altitude terroirs in the Andean foothills of Mendoza.

Fourth generation vintner, Laura Catena, and chief winemaker, Alejandro Vigil, crafted this Chardonnay with grapes sourced from four vineyards that are located at various elevations - Agrelo (950 m), El Cepillo (1,090 m), Villa Bastías (1,120 m), and Gualtallary (1,450 m). Each vineyard adds different characteristics to the wine, most notably textural and mineral elements in the upper elevations. Higher elevation vineyards also help promote greater acidity in the grapes.

The 2016 Chardonnay was whole cluster pressed, fermented sur lies in a combination of barrels and stainless steel tanks with wild yeasts. It was raised for 10 months in a combination of first, second and third French oak, with 60% undergoing malolactic fermentation.

Catena High Mountain Vines Chardonnay 2016 (88 pts)

Tasting Note:

CATENA HIGH MOUNTAIN VINES CHARDONNAY 2016 - Mendoza, Argentina (#918805) (XD) - $19.95
Ripe tropical fruit salad aromas from the cork are quite pretty. In the glass, it has ripe buttery, apple, pear, and lemon curd aromas with touches of caramel and vanilla of medium+ intensity. The dry palate is medium-full bodied and somewhat creamy with white flowers, lemon, and apple flavours. Notable wood is subtle and nicely integrated. Acids are clean and the finish length is very good with notes of tropical fruit and lemon curd. Easy drinking and widely appealing. Score: 88 pts

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  • Monday, September 4, 2017

Hecht & Bannier Côtes du Roussillon-Villages 2008 (Midi) - Wine Review

wine to end a busy Summer is this red wine blend from one of my favourite producers in the Languedoc - Hecht & Bannier. I had the pleasure of meeting one of the founders of this winery, Gregory Hecht, a few years ago and will likely meet him again this Fall.

This wine was purchased from a VINTAGES Release in . Newer vintages have periodically shown up in VINTAGES as well, with the most recent appearance of this wine showing up in . Since it is currently not available at the LCBO, you can contact Halpern Enterprises to order this wine by the case.

Hecht & Bannier Côtes du Roussillon-Villages 2008 (91 pts)

Tasting Note:

HECHT & BANNIER CÔTES DU ROUSSILLON-VILLAGES 2008 - AC, Midi, France (#142802) (XD) - $22.95
A blend of mostly Grenache with some Syrah, Mourvèdre and Carignan. Prune, dried fig and leathery aromas from the cork. In this glass, this has a fragrant, mature nose of garrigue, wet earth/forest floor, blackberry, along with subtle hints of dried floral, dried cherry and sweet oak spice. It's full-bodied and somewhat chalky textured on the palate with smooth tannins that are well-integrated and nearly fully resolved. Complex garrigue, dark fruit, blackberry, and hints of fig with flavours moving towards savoury on the mid-palate. Acids are juicy. The finish is long and savoury with touches of florality, dried cherry, bitterness, and mineral. Showing fine complexity and maturity and should drink well for another 2-3 years. Lovely! Score: 91 pts

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  • Friday, September 1, 2017

Henri de Villamont Wine Tasting at Cluny Bistro

Henri de Villamont Fine Wine Tasting
On a fine evening in , I had the pleasure of tasting through the wines of Domaine Henri de Villamont with Pierre Jhean, Winemaker and Director at the winery. This small, intimate tasting was held in a private backroom at Cluny Bistro, in Distillery District, downtown Toronto with only a few wine writers in attendance. Following the tasting, we enjoyed a lovely meal and had the opportunity to try the wines with some food.

Domain Henri de Villamont is located within the commune of Savigny-lès-Beaune, in Côte de Beaune of Burgundy, in eastern France. It is one of the oldest producers in Savigny, with the domain's buildings built between 1880 and 1888 and still in use today! The winery owns 10 hectares in the Côte de Beaune and Côte de Nuits, including several Premier (1er) Cru sites. The wines from these areas are all vinified in their 18th century vaulted cellars.

Pierre Jhean, Winemaker and Director at Henri de Villamont

The wines we tasted on this night are just a fraction of the entire Henri de Villamont portfolio. Overall, I was quite impressed with the wines, including the top shelf Montrachet and Chambolle-Musigny which are both worthy additions to your fine wine cellar. Their wine from Rhône was also quite good and is available in small quantities at the LCBO.

Wine reviews of all of the wines tasted are provided below. Thank you to Eurovintage Fine Wines & Spirits and Pierre for hosting this tasting! If you wish to order any of these wines, please contact Eurovintage as most of these wines are not available at the LCBO.

Tasting Notes:

HENRI DE VILLAMONT BOURGOGNE CHARDONNAY PRESTIGE 2015 - AC, Burgundy, France (#416123) (XD) - $19.95
Medium-high intensity aromas with nice buttery, vanilla, pear and ripe fruited notes that continue on the medium+ bodied palate. Balanced acids are lightly volatile, while the finish length is very good. Contains 55% Meursault fruit. Score: 88+ pts

Henri de Villamont Bourgogne Chardonnay Prestige 2015 (88+ pts)Henri de Villamont Montagny 1er Cru 2014 (91 pts)

HENRI DE VILLAMONT MONTAGNY 1ER CRU 2014 - AC, Burgundy, France (XD) - $36.95
Medium-high intensity aromas that are elegant, with very nice nutty, butter, golden apple and pear on the nose. It's light-to-medium weighted with bright, crisp acids and nice stone fruit aroma replays. Nicely balanced overall, with a finish length that is very long with hints of minerality. Coming to VINTAGES October 2017. Score: 91 pts

HENRI DE VILLAMONT AUXEY-DURESSES LA CANÉE 2014 - AC, Burgundy, France (#445270) (XD) - $42.95
The fruit for this wine comes 200 metres away from Meursault and offers medium+ intensity aromatics that are mineral-driven, with pear, stone fruit, and nutty nuances. The palate is medium-full bodied with concentrated fruit, pear, mineral, stone and tropical fruit flavours. Fine mineral texture and fresh acids add interest. Finish length is very good, with hints of barrel smoke. Score: 91 pts

Henri de Villamont Auxey-Duresses La Canée 2014 (91 pts)Henri de Villamont Chassagne Montrachet 1er Cru Les Embazées 2011 (93 pts)

Elegant, highly aromatic and complex notes of candied pear, nutty, almonds, stone fruits, along with hints of banana and pineapple. It's medium-full bodied and refined, showing lovely aroma replays and nicely textured. Acids are mouth-watering and well-balanced. Finish is minerally with hints of oak, and the length goes on and on. Coming to VINTAGES October 2017. Score: 93 pts

HENRI DE VILLAMONT BOURGOGNE PINOT NOIR PRESTIGE 2014 - AC, Burgundy, France (#084616) (XD) - $19.95
This has a perfumed, medium intensity nose of red cherry, earth, beet root, and oak spice. It has mid-level tannins and very good acidity on a medium-bodied frame with nicely balanced aroma replays, plus some exotic spice, currant, and raspberry flavours. Finish length is good to very good. Easy drinking Pinot. Score: 87 pts

Medium-high intensity aromas of bing cherry, blackberry, sweet oak spice, and some floral. The palate is medium-bodied with a chalky texture and flavours of red and black fruits and spicy oak lifted by bright acids. Hints of cherry and strawberry on the medium-length finish. Score: 87 pts

Gorgeous, highly aromatic nose that I could smell all day offers raspberry, floral, exotic spice, black cherry, and some earthy notes. It's medium-bodied on the palate with smooth, lithe tannins, and elegant flavours of cherry, beet root, and hints of tea leaf. Nicely balanced with juicy acids throughout, and a long, satisfying finish. Score: 91 pts

Henri de Villamont Savigny Les Beaune Le Village 2015 (91 pts)Henri de Villamont Chambolle-Musigny 1er Cru Le Châtelots 2011 (92 pts)

Beautiful, highly aromatic nose is the most savoury of the bunch, and quite complex, with meaty notes, plus leather, red & black fruits, blackberry, earth, and sour cherry aromas. Full-bodied on the palate with lovely aroma replays, plus some candied red cherry, mineral, and dark fruited notes. Tannins medium-firm and supported by mouth-watering acids. Finish length is excellent. This is a serious Pinot. Score: 92 pts

CHATEAU D'AIGUEVILLE CÔTES DU RHÔNE-VILLAGES 2015 - AC, Rhône, France (#479683) (XD) - $14.95
Blend of 50% Grenache, 30% Syrah, 10% Carignan, and 10% other grape varietals. Ripe, medium+ intensity aromas of black pepper, blackberry, oak spice, and raspberry. The palate is full-bodied and dry with flavours of violets, blackberry, black pepper, and sweet oak spices. Acids are very good. Ripe tannins have some structure. Finish length is medium-long. Drink to 2023. Score: 88 pts

Chateau d'Aigueville Côtes du Rhône-Villages 2015 (88 pts)

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