Saturday, December 8, 2018

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  • Saturday, December 8, 2018

Rocca delle Macìe Famiglia Zingarelli Riserva Chianti Classico 2015 (Tuscany) - Wine Review



wine review is a nice Riserva Chianti Classico that arrived in LCBO VINTAGES on .

It is produced by Rocca delle Macìe, a name that I'm sure you have come across at some point while perusing the aisles at your local LCBO. Rocca delle Macìe was founded by film producer Italo Zingarelli in the Chianti Classico area in 1973 when he purchased the 93 hectare estate to fulfill a life long dream. At the time, only 2 hectares were planted to vines, but along with help from his sons Sergio and Fabio, and his daughter Sandra, the estate now covers more than 500 hectares, 200 hectares of which are used as vineyards. The four estates Rocca delle Macìe owns in the Chianti Classico area all reside within the Municipality of Castellina in Chianti, in the southwest with very heterogeneous soils.

This red wine is one of Rocca delle Macìe's flagship wines from the Chianti Classico zone as only the best grapes from each of the four estates in Castellina make it into the blend that consists of mostly Sangiovese, and small amounts of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. The label proudly bears the Zingarelli name in order to highlight the strong link that the family has with the Chianti Classico area.

Rocca delle Macìe Famiglia Zingarelli Riserva Chianti Classico 2015 (89 pts)

Tasting Note:

ROCCA DELLE MACÌE FAMIGLIA ZINGARELLI RISERVA CHIANTI CLASSICO 2015 - DOCG, Tuscany, Italy (#930966) (XD) - $24.95
A blend of 90% Sangiovese, 5% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 5% Merlot that was aged in French oak barrels for 2 years. Fine aromas of oak spice, blackberry, wet earth, and dark cherry with a nice savoury component stream from the glass. It is medium-full bodied with fine-grained tannins and juicy acids supporting the dark berry, savoury, vanillin oak, earth, and cherry flavours. A touch warming on the mid-palate. Nicely savoury and earthy with some chalkiness on the long finish that ends with a nice red cherry note. Enjoy over the next 5 years. Score: 89 pts


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  • Saturday, December 8, 2018

Gourmet Food & Wine Expo 2018 - Top Wines

2018 Gourmet Food & Wine Expo
On a cold night in November, I attended the 24th annual Gourmet Food & Wine Expo - a 4-day event that ran through . The first night was VIP Preview Night and attendance seemed a bit lighter than previous years. There also seemed to be fewer food and wine booths, but more craft breweries. Since my focus was mostly on the wines, I traversed the floor seeking some of the finest on offer and had a great time chatting with familiar faces en route.

Some of the highlights included wines in the Fine Wine Tasting Lounge, and at the Kolonaki Group booth where they featured many lovely Greek wines. There were also some fine wines at Wines from Spain, Wines of South Africa, Villa Maria Wines of New Zealand, and Grenache Wines booths. Here are some of my favourites from the show. All of these wines are available via the LCBO unless otherwise noted. Thank you Foodies on Foot for the tickets I won through their online contest!


CHAMPAGNE CUVÉE CARBON BRUT - AC, France (XD) - $350  92 pts
The official Champagne of Formula 1. Exclusive bottle wrapped in carbon looks awesome! Available via Bianchi & Nero.

Champagne Cuvée Carbon Brut (92 pts)Vidal Legacy Chardonnay 2016 (93 pts)

VIDAL LEGACY CHARDONNAY 2016 - Hawkes Bay, New Zealand (#570895) (XD) - $60  93 pts

CUNE GRAN RESERVA 2011 - DOCa Rioja, Spain (#393553) (XD) - $39.95  92 pts

Cune Gran Reserva 2011 (92 pts)Mega Spileo Grand Cave Cabernet Sauvignon 2011 (91 pts)

MEGA SPILEO GRAND CAVE CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2011 - PGI Achaia, Greece (#539924) (XD) - $27.95  91 pts
Available via Shop Greek Wine.

MARTIN BERDUGO RESERVA 2010 - DO Ribera del Duero, Spain (#233741) (XD) - $38  91 pts

Martin Berdugo Reserva 2010 (91 pts)Te Awa Left Field Syrah 2015 (90+ pts)

TE AWA LEFT FIELD SYRAH 2015 - Hawkes Bay, North Island, New Zealand (#377837) (XD) - $24.95  90+ pts

ARGYROS ASSYRTIKO 2017 - PDO Santorini, Greece (#387365) (XD) - $32  90+ pts
Available via Shop Greek Wine.

Argyros Assyrtiko 2017 (90+ pts)Ken Forrester Old Vine Reserve Chenin Blanc 2017 (90 pts)

KEN FORRESTER OLD VINE RESERVE CHENIN BLANC 2017 - WO Stellenbosch, South Africa (#231282) (XD) - $17.95  90 pts

ONTAÑÓN RESERVA 2010 - DOCa Rioja, Spain (#725895) (XD) - $25.95  90 pts

Ontañón Reserva 2010 (90 pts)Gérard Bertrand Grand Terroir Les Aspres Syrah/Mourvèdre/Grenache 2015 (89 pts)

GÉRARD BERTRAND GRAND TERROIR LES ASPRES SYRAH / MOURVÈDRE  / GRENACHE 2015 - AP Côtes du Roussillon Les Aspres, France (#413245) (XD) - $18.95  89 pts

UMBERTO CESARI LIANO SANGIOVESE / CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2015 - IGT Rubicone, Emilia-Romagna, Italy (#225086) (D) - $27.95  88 pts

Umberto Cesari Liano Sangiovese/Cabernet Sauvignon 2015 (88 pts)


Champagne Cuvée Carbon Brut
Kolonaki Group - ShopGreekWine.com
Foods & Wine from Spain
Wines of South Africa
Garnacha and Grenache Wines


Wednesday, December 5, 2018

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  • Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Palatine Hills Neufeld Vineyard Chardonnay 2016 (Niagara) - Wine Review

wine review is a Niagara Chardonnay that was recently released into LCBO VINTAGES on .

Palatine Hills Estate Winery has some of the area's oldest vineyards which are nestled among the historic hills of beautiful Niagara-on-the-Lake. The property has been carefully cultivated over the past 40 years by John and Barbara Neufeld. In the early years, they were among the first wine growers in Niagara and John Sr. was Chair of the Grape Growers of Ontario. Over time, they learned to master the art of grape growing and recognized that winemaking begins in the vineyard, a core principle of the winery.

Today, Palatine Hills is still family owned & operated, going on two generations of the Neufeld family that shares their passion of the winery's soil. As in the past, they aim to continue to maintain the same respect and awe for their land they had first discovered, knowing that it is truly expressed in the fruits of their labour.

Palatine Hills Neufeld Vineyard Chardonnay 2016 (87 pts)

Tasting Note:

PALATINE HILLS NEUFELD VINEYARD CHARDONNAY 2016 - VQA Niagara Lakeshore, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada (#577742) (XD) - $24.95
Very ripe on the nose with mango, baked apple, vanilla, and sweet oak aromas in the glass. It is medium-bodied on the palate with oak-driven baked apple, buttery vanilla, banana and hints of citrus flavours. A touch of smoke and walnut notes appear on the juicy finish, with good length. Score: 87 pts


Monday, December 3, 2018

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  • Monday, December 3, 2018

Palazzo Brunello di Montalcino 2013 (Tuscany) - Wine Review

On , I opened up this lovely red wine that was recently featured as an Illustrious Italian wine and released into LCBO VINTAGES on .

It is produced by Palazzo estate, a winery located on the picturesque south-eastern slope of Montalcino at an altitude of 320 metres above sea level that was purchased by the Loia/Palazzo family in 1983. Soon after the purchase, Cosimo Loia and his wife Antoinette Palazzo discovered that some of the land is of Eocene origin, arid and rocky - ideal for planting vines. Today, the estate covers an area of approximately 15 hectares, of which 4 hectares are devoted to vineyards and 3 hectares to olive trees.

In 1986, along with their children they began producing wine. Since the vines were still young, they were devoted to the production of Rosso di Montalcino. But in 1995, the vines reached nine years of age, at which point they could finally harvest the grapes, and after a few years of oak ageing, produce their first vintage of Brunello.

The entire production, including farming, harvesting, vinification, ageing and marketing is managed by the Loia family, along with the help of consulting oenologist Fabrizio Ciufoli. Over the years, the Loia-Palazzo family and cellar has grown, and above all, the quality of the wines - including this Brunello - have achieved a high level of excellence.

Palazzo Brunello di Montalcino 2013 (93 pts)

Tasting Note:

PALAZZO BRUNELLO DI MONTALCINO 2013 - DOCG, Tuscany, Italy (#660746) (XD) - $69.95
Hand-harvested, 100% Sangiovese Grosso that spent 3 years in barrel. Complex, medium-high intensity aromatics offer dark berry, cherry, and mineral aromas layered on top of oak spice and earth. It is full-bodied, spicy and fresh and on the palate with drying tannins. Lovely cherry, leather, oak spice, pepper and a hint of floral on the flavour profile. Mouth-watering acids. Some warmth mid-palate continues through to the long finish, giving way to wood spice, earth, and cherry flavours. Approachable now, but better in a few years and will age for at least a decade. Lovely Brunello! Score: 93 pts


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  • Monday, December 3, 2018

Wine Picks LCBO VINTAGES Release Dec. 8, 2018: Food Wines + Champagne

LCBO Wine Picks: December 8, 2018 VINTAGES Release
The LCBO VINTAGES Release is the final Release of the year and features fine wines for food as its main theme, while the mini-theme highlights Champagne for holiday celebrations. All of these wines will be on LCBO VINTAGES shelves across Ontario this .

We'll begin with the main theme that lists twenty food wines for your holiday celebrations, six of which are included among my top wine picks. For elegant dinners, an elegant Châteauneuf-du-Pape that consists of 60% Grenache, 30% Syrah, 5% Mourvedre, and 5% Counoise / Muscardin / Vaccarèse / Cinsault. For big family feasts, try a Chardonnay or the Gran Medalla Malbec, both from Argentina. For a casual open house, try the casual red from South Africa that is a blend of Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, and Petit Verdot, or the Côtes du Rhône which is a blend of 60% Syrah and 40% Grenache. Last, but not lease, for wine and cheese, try the slightly off-dry Charles Baker Riesling.

Château Mont-Redon Châteauneuf-du-Pape 2015 (91 pts)Charles Baker B-Side Riesling 2017 (90 pts)

In the mini-theme, there are seven Champagnes to add some sparkle to your holiday season, and two are included among my wine picks. Both of my Champagne recommendations use traditional grapes, with the Ruinart consisting of 49% Pinot Noir, 40% Chardonnay and 11% Pinot Meunier, while the Veuve Clicquot consists of 61% Pinot Noir, 34% Chardonnay, and 5% Pinot Meunier.

From the red wines in the rest of the Release, there is a Languedoc red that consists of 69% Syrah and 31% Grenache. If you enjoy Chianti Classico, the Primocolle is a blend of 95% Sangiovese and 5% Colorino, while the Gabbiano Riserva is a blend of 95% Sangiovese and 5% Merlot. From Australia, the Ode to Lorraine consists of 58% Cabernet Sauvignon, 37% Shiraz, 5% and Merlot, while the Meritage from British Columbia consists of 29% Cabernet Sauvignon, 27% Cabernet Franc, 25% Merlot, 12% Malbec, and 7% Petit Verdot. From Bordeaux, the Croix Canon is majority Merlot, with Cabernet Franc completing the blend. And, last but not least, the iconic Solaia is mainly Cabernet Sauvignon, with Cabernet Franc and Sangiovese in support.

Villa Cerna Primocolle Chianti Classico 2015 (89 pts)Gérard Bertrand Syrah/Grenache 2015 (88 pts)

Among my white wine picks, the Roussillon is a blend of 80% Grenache Blanc and 20% Roussanne. The Fumé Blanc is a Sauvignon Blanc that was barrel-fermented and aged in oak, but also includes a small amount of Semillon. For those that prefer sweeter white wines, any of the Ontario Riesling's should satisfy your palate.

Since this is the final Release of 2018, you may want to pick up a sparkling wine for New Year's Eve celebrations. The Cremant de Bourgogne is a blend of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Gamay, and Aligoté, and the outstanding bubbly from Henry of Pelham is made with Chardonnay and aged for 60 months is bottle prior to disgorgement.

Enjoy my top wine recommendations from this Release!

Red Wine:

  • AVONDALE JONTY’S DUCKS PEKIN RED 2014 - WO Paarl, South Africa (#383547) (XD) - $16.95
  • GÉRARD BERTRAND SYRAH/GRENACHE 2015 - AP Languedoc, France (#413237) (XD) - $16.95  88 pts  wine review
  • TRAPICHE MEDALLA MALBEC 2014 - Uco Valley, Mendoza, Argentina (#547869) (XD) - $17.00  89 pts  wine review
  • ZUCCARDI Q MALBEC 2015 - Uco Valley, Mendoza, Argentina (#723478) (XD) - $19.95
  • VILLA CERNA PRIMOCOLLE CHIANTI CLASSICO 2015 - DOCG, Tuscany, Italy (#573501) (XD) - $19.95  89 pts  wine review
  • CASTELLO DI GABBIANO RISERVA CHIANTI CLASSICO 2014 - DOCG, Tuscany, Italy (#216309) (XD) - $22.95
  • J.L. CHAVE SÉLECTION MON COEUR CÔTES DU RHÔNE 2016 - AC, Rhône, France (#995548) (XD) - $22.95
Trapiche Medalla Malbec 2014 (89 pts)

  • TRAPICHE GRAN MEDALLA MALBEC 2014 - Uco Valley, Mendoza, Argentina (#467977) (XD) - $24.95
  • ELDERTON ODE TO LORRAINE CABERNET SAUVIGNON/SHIRAZ/MERLOT 2015 - Barossa Valley, South Australia (#976423) (XD) - $39.95
  • CHÂTEAU MONT-REDON CHÂTEAUNEUF-DU-PAPE 2015 - AC, Rhône, France (#959627) (XD) - $49.95  91 pts  wine review
  • BURROWING OWL MERITAGE 2015 - VQA Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, Canada (#343038) (XD) - $57.95
  • FEL PINOT NOIR 2016 - Anderson Valley, Mendocino County, California, USA (#309476) (XD) - $59.95  FE
  • CROIX CANON 2012 - Second wine of Château Canon, AC Saint-Émilion Grand Cru, Bordeaux, France (#671289) (XD) - $66.95
  • SOLAIA 2015 - IGT Toscana, Italy (#987586) (XD) - $316.95

White Wine:

  • SAINT-ROCH VIEILLES VIGNES CÔTES DU ROUSSILLON 2017 - AP, Midi, France (#175232) (XD) - $16.95
  • FLAT ROCK RIESLING 2016 - VQA Twenty Mile Bench, Niagara Escarpment, Ontario, Canada (#043281) (M) - $17.95
  • CATENA HIGH MOUNTAIN VINES CHARDONNAY 2017 - Mendoza, Argentina (#918805) (XD) - $19.95
  • WITHER HILLS SAUVIGNON BLANC 2017 - Marlborough, South Island, New Zealand (#919514) (XD) - $19.95  88 pts  wine review
  • 13TH STREET JUNE’S VINEYARD RIESLING 2016 - VQA Creek Shores, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#147512) (M) - $19.95
  • CHARLES BAKER B-SIDE RIESLING 2017 - VQA Twenty Mile Bench, Niagara Escarpment, Ontario, Canada (#523845) (M) - $21.95  90 pts  wine review
  • ROBERT MONDAVI FUMÉ BLANC 2017 - Napa Valley, California, USA (#221887) (XD) - $22.95
  • ASTROLABE PROVINCE SAUVIGNON BLANC 2017 - Marlborough, South Island, New Zealand (#010421) (XD) - $24.95  89 pts  wine review
  • CLOUDY BAY CHARDONNAY 2015 - Marlborough, South Island, New Zealand (#359513) (XD) - $37.95
  • CAKEBREAD CELLARS CHARDONNAY 2015 - Napa Valley, California, USA (#709717) (XD) - $69.95
Astrolabe Province Sauvignon Blanc 2017 (89 pts)Wither Hills Sauvignon Blanc 2017 (88 pts)

Rosé Wine:

  • CHÂTEAU ROUBINE LA VIE EN ROSE ROSÉ 2017 - AC Côtes de Provence, France (#556639) (XD) - $15.75

Sparkling Wine:

  • BAILLY LAPIERRE RÉSERVE BRUT CRÉMANT DE BOURGOGNE - Traditional method, AC, Burgundy, France (#991562) (D) - $19.95
  • HENRY OF PELHAM CUVÉE CATHARINE CARTE BLANCHE ESTATE BLANC DE BLANC 2013 - Traditional method, VQA Short Hills Bench, Niagara Escarpment, Ontario, Canada (#315200) (D) - $44.95
  • RUINART R DE RUINART BRUT CHAMPAGNE - With gift box, AC, France (#189878) (D) - $85.95
  • VEUVE CLICQUOT PONSARDIN VINTAGE BRUT ROSÉ CHAMPAGNE 2008 - With gift box, AC, France (#588475) (XD) - $109.95

Dessert Wine:

  • CHÂTEAU FILHOT SAUTERNES 2015 - AC, Bordeaux, France (#514679) (S) (#375 mL) - $24.95


Friday, November 30, 2018

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  • Friday, November 30, 2018

Roscato Dark Blend (Italy) - Wine Review

Opened up this wine and it is recommended for those that like their red wines on the sweeter side of the spectrum.

It is produced by Ca'Vit-Consorzio Cantine Sociali, a large co-operative winery located in Trentino, Northern Italy. The Roscato range offers irresistible wines from the region that will complement any type of cuisine.

The Roscato Dark Blend is the newest addition to the lineup and is made using a blend of indigenous Northern Italian varietals - mostly Teroldego and Lagrein, plus some Merlot. It is fermented in contact with grape skins at fairly cool temperatures to preserve fruity aromas, followed by ageing in stainless steel tanks and in medium-sized casks for about 12 months, after which the wines are blended and allowed to age for a further 2 to 3 months in stainless steel tanks before bottling.

This red wine is widely available in at your local LCBO.

Roscato Dark Blend (86 pts)

Tasting Note:

ROSCATO DARK BLEND - VD'Italia, Trentino, Italy (#629857) (M) - $15.95
Screw cap. Non-vintage blend of Teroldego, Lagrein, and Merlot. Fruit forward with ripe plum and blackberry aromas followed by some chocolatey notes. It is medium-bodied with soft, rounded tannins that have a slightly dusty texture. Food-friendly acids. More dark berry, chocolate, and cocoa flavours, plus vanilla and spice on the palate that lingers through to juicy finish, with good length. Easy-drinking, crowd-pleasing style. Score: 86 pts


Monday, November 26, 2018

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  • Monday, November 26, 2018

Closerie des Alisiers Petit Chablis 2016 (Burgundy) - Wine Review

lovely little white wine is a Petit Chablis that arrived as a new release into LCBO VINTAGES on .

It is produced by Stéphane Brocard, the son of a Chablis winemaker. He settled in Marsannay in 2007 and founded Closerie des Alisiers to craft wines of purity, fruit, and freshness, while respecting the land and environment, and highlighting the terroir for each wine.

In addition to work in his own vines, he has worked with some selected winegrowers throughout Burgundy over many years, carefully selecting small parcels of grapes. He has worked with many of these growers to establish organic farming practices. The grapes for this particular wine were hand-harvested at peak maturity and direct pressed, followed by fermenting and ageing exclusively in stainless steel tanks.

Closerie des Alisiers Petit Chablis 2016 (89 pts)

Tasting Note:

CLOSERIE DES ALISIERS PETIT CHABLIS 2016 - AC, Burgundy, France (#557769) (XD) - $25.95
Fermented and aged completely in tank, this unoaked Chardonnay has a fresh and fragrant nose with lemon and citrus with hints of white peach and leesy notes. It is light-to-medium bodied on the palate with more lemon, citrus, ripe apple, and white peach flavours with a fine mineral underpinning. Some grapefruit and floral notes arrive with air, adding complexity. Nicely balanced with clean, crisp, and bright acids providing freshness. Fine mineral and apple notes linger on the long aftertaste. Score: 89 pts


Monday, November 19, 2018

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  • Monday, November 19, 2018

Southbrook Vidal Skin Fermented White Orange Wine 2017 (Niagara) - Wine Review

wine is a very interesting natural, organic and biodynamic orange wine produced by Southbrook Vineyards. Technically, orange wines are now known as a skin-fermented white wines. Southbrook has produced this style of wine under the guiding hands of winemaker Ann Sperling for several years now, with latest rendition being the 2017 vintage that was bottled in January and released for sale in June.

The grapes for this wine were hand-harvested from Southbrook's Estate in the Four Mile Creek sub-appellation of Niagara-on-the-Lake. Small lots of grapes, including stems, were cluster-sorted and foot-trodden before undergoing wild yeast and malolactic fermentation over 30 days. After gentle pressing, the wine was naturally chilled outdoors, settled, and bottled without any filtration or additives, and is free of sulphites.

This orange wine is suitable for vegans and vegetarians, and available for purchase through the winery and soon at the LCBO.

Southbrook Vidal Skin Fermented White Orange Wine 2017 (91 pts)

Tasting Note:

SOUTHBROOK VIDAL SKIN FERMENTED WHITE ORANGE WINE 2017 - VQA Ontario, Canada (#628065) (XD) - $29.95
Stelvin screw cap enclosure. Cloudy orange colour. Highly fragrant nose offers aromas of citrus and black tea leaves with hints of floral and sage. More pronounced tart citrus, floral, and black tea flavours are well-balanced on the nicely textured, medium-bodied palate. Dry mouthfeel with some chalkiness. Acids are bright and balanced. Some tea, sage and earthy notes linger on the long finish. I'll be honest, I have tasted previous vintages and never really been a big fan of this wine, but this latest vintage is very compelling and engaging. Highly recommended. Best with a light chill. Score: 91 pts


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  • Monday, November 19, 2018

Wine Picks LCBO VINTAGES Release Nov. 24, 2018: France + Washington

LCBO Wine Picks: November 24, 2018 VINTAGES Release
The LCBO VINTAGES Release is the second last VINTAGES Release of the year and features French wines in its main theme, while the mini-theme features wines from Washington. All of these wines will be on LCBO VINTAGES shelves across Ontario this .

We'll begin with the main theme that is titled "French Treasures" and lists 14 wines, but only 3 are included among my top wine picks. First up are a pair of whites - a Sauvignon Blanc from Sancerre, and a Chardonnay from Pouilly-Fuissé in Burgundy. The third wine is a Champagne made with 40% Chardonnay, 50% Pinot Noir, and 10% Pinot Meunier. Surprisingly, no reds are included among my wine recommendations from this feature. However, not to worry, as there are some other delightful French red wines to choose from.

The mini-theme features 7 wines from Washington, of which only the Hedges Family Estate Red made my list of wine picks. This red wine hails from the highly-acclaimed Red Mountain AVA and is a blend of 59% Cabernet Sauvignon, 28% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Franc, 4% Malbec, 2% Syrah, and 2% Petit Verdot.

There are lots of lovely red wines to choose from in this Release. We'll begin in France, where the M. Chapoutier wine is a blend of Syrah, Grenache and Carignan, while the Chusclan from the excellent 2015 Rhône vintage is a blend of 60% Grenache, 10% Syrah, and 10% Mourvedre. From Italy, the Losi Querciavalle Chianti Classico is a lovely blend of 90% Sangiovese and 10% Canaiolo, while the Gran Selezione is a blend of 80% Sangiovese, 13% Merlot, and 7% Malvasia Nera. Staying in Italy, the wine from Ornellaia is a blend of Merlot, Sangiovese, and Cabernet Sauvignon. From Ontario, the Hidden Bench red reveals a blend of 36% Cabernet Franc, 34% Merlot, and 24% Malbec, while the Stratus Red is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, and Malbec.

Stratus Red 2015 (92 pts)

Losi Querciavalle Chianti Classico 2012 (89 pts)Le Volte dell’Ornellaia 2016 (89 pts)

Among my white wine picks, the Bordeaux white is a blend of 57% Sauvignon Blanc and 43% Sémillon, while the white from Veneto is made with 100% Trebbiano di Lugana. The only white with any sweetness is the Organic Riesling from Niagara.

Lastly, from Ontario, the Sparkling Wine is made with Chardonnay in the traditional method, while the Fortified wine is a blend of Merlot, Cabernet, and a hint of Shiraz.

Enjoy my wine recommendations from this Release! Salud!

Red Wine:

  • M. CHAPOUTIER LES VIGNES DE BILA-HAUT CÔTES DU ROUSSILLON-VILLAGES 2017 - AC, Midi, France (#168716) (XD) - $15.95
  • VIÑA TARAPACÁ GRAN RESERVA CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2016 - DO Maipo Valley, Chile (#018721) (XD) - $17.95  88 pts  wine review
  • CHÂTEAU SIGNAC CHUSCLAN 2015 - AP Côtes du Rhône-Villages, France (#537878) (XD) - $18.95
  • TERRAZAS DE LOS ANDES RESERVA MALBEC 2015 - Mendoza, Argentina (#029280) (XD) - $19.95
  • LOSI QUERCIAVALLE CHIANTI CLASSICO 2012 - DOCG, Tuscany, Italy (#515478) (XD) - $19.95  89 pts  wine review
Viña Tarapacá Gran Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon 2016 (88 pts)Lakeview Cabernet Sauvignon 2015 (89 pts)

  • WYNNS COONAWARRA ESTATE SHIRAZ 2016 - Coonawarra, South Australia (#433060) (XD) - $23.95
  • LE VOLTE DELL’ORNELLAIA 2016 - IGT Toscana, Italy (#964221) (XD) - $29.95  89 pts  wine review
  • LAKEVIEW CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2015 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#012617) (D) - $29.95  89 pts  wine review
  • SONVIDA RESERVE MALBEC 2015 - Paraje Altmira, Mendoza, Argentina (#458240) (XD) - $29.95
  • HEDGES FAMILY ESTATE RED 2013 - Red Mountain, Columbia Valley, Washington, USA (#001594) (XD) - $38.95

  • HIDDEN BENCH TERROIR CACHÉ 2015 - Unfiltered, VQA Beamsville Bench, Niagara Escarpment, Ontario, Canada (#505610) (XD) - $44.95
  • STRATUS RED 2015 - VQA Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada (#131037) (XD) - $48.20
  • DOMAINE DROUHIN OREGON PINOT NOIR 2015 - Dundee Hills, Willamette Valley, Oregon, USA (#961284) (XD) - $49.95  92 pts  wine review
  • CASTELLO DI AMA SAN LORENZO GRAN SELEZIONE CHIANTI CLASSICO 2014 - DOCG, Tuscany, Italy (#418897) (XD) - $54.95
  • PECCHENINO SAN GIUSEPPE BAROLO 2013 - DOCG, Piedmont, Italy (#181396) (XD) - $59.95
Domaine Drouhin Oregon Pinot Noir 2015 (92 pts)

White Wine:

  • SANTA CAROLINA GRAN RESERVA CHARDONNAY 2016 - DO Limarí Valley, Chile (#928580) (XD) - $16.95  88 pts  wine review
  • CHÂTEAU BONNET 2016 - AC Entre-Deux-Mers, Bordeaux, France (#568535) (XD) - $16.95
  • ZENATO SAN BENEDETTO LUGANA 2017 - DOC, Veneto, Italy (#707158) (D) - $18.95
  • CAVE SPRING ESTATE CHARDONNAY 2016 - Cave Spring Vineyard, VQA Beamsville Bench, Niagara Escarpment, Ontario, Canada (#256552) (XD) - $19.95  88 pts  wine review
  • TIEFENBRUNNER PINOT GRIGIO 2017 - IGT Vigneti delle Dolomiti, Alto Adige, Italy (#474742) (XD) - $19.95
  • SOUTHBROOK TRIOMPHE ORGANIC RIESLING 2016 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#581603) (D) - $22.95
  • DOG POINT SAUVIGNON BLANC 2017 - Marlborough, South Island, New Zealand (#677450) (XD) - $26.95
  • SOUMAH CHARDONNAY 2017 - Yarra Valley, Victoria, Australia (#609305) (XD) - $27.95
  • CHÂTEAU DE FONTAINE-AUDON SANCERRE 2016 - AP, Loire, France (#745893) (XD) - $32.95
  • J.J. VINCENT MARIE-ANTOINETTE POUILLY-FUISSÉ 2016 - AC, Burgundy, France (#525113) (XD) - $37.95
Santa Carolina Gran Reserva Chardonnay 2016 (88 pts)Cave Spring Estate Chardonnay 2016 (88 pts)

Sparkling Wine:

  • FLAT ROCK RIDDLED SPARKLING 2011 - Traditional method, VQA Twenty Mile Bench, Niagara Escarpment, Ontario, Canada (#383315) (D) - $34.95
  • BOIZEL GRAND VINTAGE BRUT CHAMPAGNE 2007 - AC, France (#484071) (XD) - $94.95

Fortified:

  • UNION FORTÉ 2012 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#361758) (S) (500 mL) - $17.95


Friday, November 16, 2018

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  • Friday, November 16, 2018

Southbrook Organic Triomphe Chardonnay 2016 (Niagara) - Wine Review

wine review is a nice, organic Chardonnay from Southbrook Vineyards, one of the leading producer of organic and biodynamic wines in Niagara. This white wine is also suitable for vegans and vegetarians. It is available for purchase through the winery and in LCBO VINTAGES.

Founded in 1991, Southbrook Vineyards is the epitome and evolution of co-owners Marilyn and Bill Redelmeier's love story with wine, the land, and all things local. Southbrook also has taken a leadership role in sustainability, including third-party endorsements such as LEED Gold for architecture and Intervin Winery of the Year, as well as obtaining biodynamic and organic certifications, which affirms the Redelmeier's goal to inspire others to commit to sustainability, pursue their passions, and create fine wines.

Having tasted each of the past 4 vintages of this lovely Chardonnay, this has proven to been a fairly consistent, high-quality white wine, which continues with the 2016 vintage. It should come as no surprise as Chardonnay is truly one of the great grape varietals produced in Niagara, especially when placed in the hands of internationally-acclaimed winemaker at Southbrook, Ann Sperling.

Southbrook Organic Triomphe Chardonnay 2016 (89 pts)

Tasting Note:

SOUTHBROOK ORGANIC TRIOMPHE CHARDONNAY 2016 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#172338) (XD) - $24.95
Stelvin screw cap. Subtle nose of apple, pear and cereal, with hints of vanilla and oak. The medium-full bodied palate offers much more, with very interesting mealy flavours combined with nuts, honey, lemon, and vanilla layered on top of ripe white and yellow fruit. Oak is firmly in the background. Nicely textured with bright acids lifting the palate. Mealy, nutty, and citrus notes linger on the long finish. Not your typical Chardonnay, but indeed a fine expression. Serve with just a light chill. Score: 89 pts


Monday, November 12, 2018

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  • Monday, November 12, 2018

Cantina di Negrar Amarone della Valpolicella Classico 2015 (Veneto) - Wine Review

I recently enjoyed the 2016 Cantina di Negrar Corvina, and is another lovely wine from the same producer.

Cantina Valpolicella Negrar is the producer considered to be the birthplace of Amarone and the typical Valpolicella Classica wines. In 1936, just 3 years after the winery was founded, the Cantina's President, Gaetano Dall'Ora, pronounced "This is not an Amaro, it’s an Amarone!" (amaro means bitter in English) after tasting a Recioto wine that had accidentally been left to ferment for a long time, thus giving rise to the name of the actual symbolic wine of Valpolicella.

Amarone is traditionally made from partially dried grapes, the majority consisting of Corvina with some Rondinella, and sometimes other indigenous varietals. This process is called appassimento and concentrates the remaining sugars and flavours. After the grapes have been dried, the grapes go through a long fermentation which results in a drier wine - a short fermentation results in sweeter Recioto wine. The final step is often many months of barrel ageing.

The Cantina di Negrar brand is the soul of Cantina Valpolicella Negrar, and the St. Mark's winged lion on the label is a tribute both to the winery's philosophy of cooperative production and to the history of the local area. The lion, a symbol of Venice's once great power in the 16th century, sits atop a column in the centre of the commune of Negrar.

This delicious red wine is a General List product at the LCBO and widely available at LCBO outlets across Ontario, as well as online at lcbo.com.

Cantina di Negrar Amarone della Valpolicella Classico 2015 (89 pts)

Tasting Note:

CANTINA DI NEGRAR AMARONE DELLA VALPOLICELLA CLASSICO 2015 - DOCG, Veneto, Italy (#044784) (D) - $34.95
The medium+ intensity nose offers enticing aromas of sour cherry, tobacco, chocolate, oak spice, and fig. It is full-bodied with lovely fig, chocolate, oak spice, and dark berry flavours supported by fresh, vibrant acidity. Sweet tannins are nicely textured with just a touch of grip. Pretty chocolate notes on the mid-palate continue through to the lovely, long finish. Will be better at end of 2019. Very good value in Amarone! Score: 89 pts


Monday, November 5, 2018

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  • Monday, November 5, 2018

Bottega Accademia Red Prosecco (Italy) - Wine Review

wine review is a nice sparkling wine that just arrived at the LCBO in time for the holiday season. This Prosecco is packaged in an attractive transparent red bottle that would be ideal for gift-giving or to open at your next holiday gathering.

It is produced by Bottega, a family-owned company located in Bibano, Treviso (45 km North of Venice) that has been producing premium quality, typical Italian wines, grappa, spirits and food products since 1977. However, the history of Bottega goes back much further, as forefather Andrea was cultivating vines as a tenant farmer in 1635 in the beautiful hills near Molinetto della Croda in Refrontolo.

Domenico Bottega was a wine trader and passionate oenologist in the 1920's who could easily identify the best grapes in the vineyard. Domenico's son, Aldo, expanded on his father's passion for grappa in the 1950's and 60's, creating the first monovarietal grappa, and eventually founding Bottega in 1977.

Today, Bottega is a third generation business led by siblings Barbara, Sandro, and Stefano Bottega, the children of Aldo. The headquarters are located in a 19th-century farmhouse, renovated to preserve the original architectural and environmental characteristics, and are surrounded by 10 hectares of vineyards. With the goal of delivering health, well-being and pleasure through its products, Bottega advocates Quality (Italian taste and authenticity), Design (expression of the excellent aesthetic character of being made in Italy) and Social Responsibility towards the environment and the community.

Bottega Accademia Red Prosecco (87 pts)

Tasting Note:

BOTTEGA ACCADEMIA RED PROSECCO - DOC, Veneto, Italy (#578955) (D) - $19.95
Produced using the Martinotti method (i.e. Charmat) using Glera grapes. Subtle on the nose with green apple, citrus, white peach, and acacia flowers, and melon. It's medium-bodied with frothy, creamy mousse and lively acids. A shade off-dry on the flavour profile with grapefruit, blood orange, lemon citrus, and hint of floral notes. Slightly yeasty and leesy on the mid-palate, and some bitterness on the finish, with good length. Score: 87 pts


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  • Monday, November 5, 2018

Wine Picks LCBO VINTAGES Release Nov. 10, 2018: California + Rioja

LCBO Wine Picks: November 10, 2018 VINTAGES Release
The parade of premium wines continues with the LCBO VINTAGES Release that features coveted and iconic California wines as its main theme, while the mini-theme features classic gems from Rioja. All of these wines will be on LCBO VINTAGES shelves across Ontario this .

We'll begin with main theme that features fifteen of some of California's most coveted and iconic wines, four of which are included among my top wine picks. From the whites, both are high-end Chardonnay. One is from Beringer, California's oldest continually operating winery (founded in 1876), while the other from a specialist in Sonoma Chardonnay - Kistler Vineyards. Among the reds, there is a lovely Pinot Noir from Flowers Vineyards & Winery, as well as a Napa Cab from Joseph Phelps that is actually a blend of 78% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Merlot, and 7% Petit Verdot.

Kistler Sonoma Mountain Chardonnay 2016 (93 pts)Flowers Pinot Noir 2016 (92 pts)

The mini-theme features only seven wines from Rioja (Spain), but four are include among my top wine recommendations. First up is the lone white that is made with the Viura (aka Macabeo) grape and can be aged for at least another 5 years. The red wines include some stellar mature wines from 1996, 2005, and 2009. The '96 is a blend of 90% Tempranillo, 5% Graciano, and 5% Mazuelo, while the '05 is a blend of 75% Tempranillo, 15% Garnacha, 5% Graciano, and 5% Mazuelo. Lastly, the '09 is 100% Tempranillo.

Wine blends among my top red wine picks include the Saint-Roch that is a blend of 60% Grenache, 30% Syrah, and 10% Carignan, while the Madiran is a blend of 80% Tannat and 20% Cabernet Franc from 40-50 year old vines. From Rhône, the '15 Châteauneuf-du-Pape is a blend of Syrah, Grenache, and Mourvèdre, while the '16 Châteauneuf-du-Pape is a made with 30% Grenache, 30% Mourvèdre, 15% Syrah, 10% Counoise, and 5% Cinsault. From Tuscany, the Luce is a 50/50 blend of Sangiovese and Merlot, while the baby Ornellaia is a blend of 44% Merlot, 26% Cabernet Sauvignon, 18% Petit Verdot, and 12% Cabernet Franc.

Luce 2015 (91 pts)Cave Spring Indian Summer Riesling 2016 (90 pts)

Among my white wine picks, the Marsannay is made with Chardonnay, while the Muscadet is made with Melon de Bourgogne from old vines that average 80-years-old. If you like your wines with some sweetness, the Niagara Riesling is your best bet. Moving on to dessert wines, the Cave Spring Riesling is a Late Harvest and along with the Tokaj are the least sweetest of the bunch. Both the Vidal Icewine and the Botrytis Semillon are lusciously sweet dessert wines.

Enjoy my top wine recommendations from this Release! Cheers!

Red Wine:

  • CHÂTEAU SAINT-ROCH CHIMÈRES 2016 - AP Côtes du Roussillon-Villages, France (#119354) (D) - $17.00
  • LA TREMENDA MONASTRELL 2016 - DO Alicante, Spain (#490011) (XD) - $17.95
  • SALENTEIN RESERVE PINOT NOIR 2016 - Uco Valley, Mendoza, Argentina (#578179) (XD) - $18.95
  • GÉRARD BERTRAND GRAND TERROIR LES ASPRES SYRAH / MOURVÈDRE / GRENACHE 2015 - AP Côtes du Roussillon Les Aspres, France (#413245) (XD) - $18.95
  • CHÂTEAU PEYROS VIEILLES VIGNES MADIRAN 2013 - AC, Southwest, France (#234997) (XD) - $19.95

  • FEUDO MONTONI LAGNUSA NERO D’AVOLA 2015 - DOC Sicilia, Italy (#523738) (XD) - $23.95
  • MONTECILLO GRAN RESERVA 2009 - DOCa Rioja, Spain (#239277) (XD) - $29.95
  • DOMAINE DE LA SOLITUDE CHÂTEAUNEUF-DU-PAPE 2015 - AC, Rhône, France (#560987) (XD) - $41.95
  • VIÑA TONDONIA RESERVA 2005 - DOCa Rioja, Spain (#356337) (XD) - $49.95
  • URBINA GRAN RESERVA 1996 - DOCa Rioja, Spain (#355743) (XD) - $54.95

  • LE SERRE NUOVE DELL’ORNELLAIA 2016 - DOC Bolgheri Rosso, Tuscany, Italy (#606194) (XD) - $64.95
  • FLOWERS PINOT NOIR 2016 - Sonoma Coast, Sonoma County, California, USA (#215202) (XD) - $64.95  92 pts  wine review
  • CHÂTEAU DE BEAUCASTEL CHÂTEAUNEUF-DU-PAPE 2016 - AC, Rhône, France (#711317) (XD) - $93.95
  • LUCE 2015 - IGT Toscana, Italy (#685263) (XD) - $114.95  91 pts  wine review
  • JOSEPH PHELPS CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2015 - Napa Valley, California, USA (#189795) (XD) - $118.95

White Wine:

  • ILOK CELLARS CLASSIC GRASEVINA 2017 - Croatia (#517474) (XD) - $14.95
  • VETIVER VIURA 2014 - DOCa Rioja, Spain (#437707) (XD) - $16.95
  • GADAIS VIEILLES VIGNES MUSCADET SÈVRE ET MAINE 2015 - Sur lie, AC, Loire, France (#444406) (XD) - $17.95
  • KEN FORRESTER OLD VINE RESERVE CHENIN BLANC 2017 - WO Stellenbosch, South Africa (#231282) (XD) - $17.95
  • PADDY BORTHWICK PINOT GRIS 2016 - Wairarapa, North Island, New Zealand (#555516) (XD) - $19.95
  • TAWSE LIMESTONE RIDGE-NORTH ESTATE BOTTLED RIESLING 2016 - VQA Twenty Mile Bench, Niagara Escarpment, Ontario, Canada (#431593) (M) - $23.95
  • LOUIS LATOUR MARSANNAY BLANC 2014 - AC, Burgundy, France (#435156) (XD) - $32.95
  • BERINGER PRIVATE RESERVE CHARDONNAY 2016 - Napa Valley, California, USA (#026682) (D) - $64.95
  • KISTLER SONOMA MOUNTAIN CHARDONNAY 2016 - Sonoma Mountain, Sonoma County, California, USA (#183921) (XD) - $107.95  93 pts  wine review

Rosé Wine:

  • MIMI EN PROVENCE GRANDE RÉSERVE ROSÉ 2017 - AP Côtes de Provence, France (#452573) (XD) - $18.95

Fortified:

  • QUINTA VALE D. MARIA VINTAGE PORT 2015 - DOP, Portugal (#582965) (S) (375 mL) - $49.95

Dessert Wine:

  • BIRO SO SWEET TOKAJ 2016 - Tokaj-Hegyalja, Hungary (#617324) (S) (375 mL) - $17.95
  • CAVE SPRING INDIAN SUMMER RIESLING 2016 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#415901) (S) (375 mL) - $24.95  90 pts  wine review
  • DE BORTOLI NOBLE ONE BOTRYTIS SEMILLON 2016 - New South Wales, Australia (#917252) (S) (375 mL) - $29.95
  • SOUTHBROOK ORGANIC VIDAL ICEWINE 2014 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#581165) (S) (375 mL) - $49.95


Friday, November 2, 2018

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  • Friday, November 2, 2018

Nativ Bicento 2013 (Campania) - Wine Review

wine review is a lovely new wine that arrived as part of the LCBO VINTAGES Release that featured some illustrious Italian wines in its main theme.

It is produced by Nativ and was founded in 2008 in the heart of Irpinia, in Paternopoli, Campania (the shin of Italy's boot), by Dr. Mario Ercolino, an internationally renowned oenologist, and Dr. Roberta Pirone, a specialist in food science, with the aim of producing excellent wines from grapes that are typical of the territory.

The name "Nativ" was chosen to represent the origin of the Viticulture of Irpina, through autochthonous production which outlines the concept of "origin of place", and is carried out through the production of wines from indigenous varietals, using vines that are known for their particular fertility in volcanic soils. The winery's precious vineyards span approximately 15 hectares between Paternopoli and Taurasi.

"Bicento" is the name of this important red wine, which translated literally means “twice 100”. It is named as such because the grapes for this wine come from 200-year-old ungrafted vines that are grown on volcanic soils on the Taurasi hills, 500 metres above sea level. These vines are among the oldest in all of Europe!

Nativ Bicento 2013 (94 pts)

Tasting Note:

NATIV BICENTO 2013 - DOC Irpinia Campi Taurasini, Campania, Italy (#575035) (XD) - $41.95
100% Aglianico aged in French oak barrels for 12 months. Medium-high intensity aromatics are complex with spicy, blackberry, dark berry, leather, herbs, earth, and a touch of savoury funk. Some smoky mineral notes develop with air. It is full-bodied and concentrated with nicely balanced aroma replays, plus black pepper, fig, and floral nuances supported by fresh, bright acidity to keep things quite light on the palate. Firm, drying, mouth-puckering tannins have a dusty and chalky texture. The finish length is excellent with dark berry, black plum, licorice, and spice flavours. Lovely savoury-earthy character throughout. A pleasure now, but will be better in 5 years as tannins soften and integrate. An amazing wine to enjoy over the next 10-15 years. Buy 4 and enjoy one every 5 years. Score: 94 pts


Wednesday, October 31, 2018

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  • Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Giveaway - Win Tickets to Hamilton's Food & Drink Fest

Hamilton's Food & Drink Fest
I am giving away Two (2) General Admission tickets (valued at $30/pair) to Hamilton's Food & Drink Fest that is taking place from to at the FirstOntario Centre in downtown Hamilton. These tickets are valid for any one day of your choosing.

Your chance to win tickets to #FoodandDrinkFest and contest entry form is at the bottom of this post.

At Hamilton's Food & Drink Fest, you can experience an exciting variety of Ontario VQA and international wines, spirits, craft beers, local gourmet food, specialty coffees, teas, decadent desserts and more, all while helping to support a great local initiative, Food 4 Kids!

Created and presented by Hamilton, Burlington, Oakville, Halton, Brant, Haldimand, Lake Erie North Shore, Pelee Island, Prince Edward County, Niagara Peninsula and Niagara-on-the-Lake's most popular restaurants, culinary experts, chefs, innovative food trucks, breweries and wineries.

Also enjoy entertaining live musical acts and fun informative cooking demonstrations all in one convenient and central location! You can also bring your kids on Sunday as the event opens up to all ages.

Personally, I have never attended this event, but I am very excited to attend this year!

Event Details:

When:, 4-10 p.m.
, 12-10 p.m.
, 12-5 p.m. - Family Day

Where:FirstOntario Centre
101 York Boulevard
Hamilton, ON

Must be 19 years of age or older on Friday/Saturday. Children and infants welcome on Sunday.

Contest:

Here's your chance to WIN a pair of tickets to Hamilton's Food & Drink Fest. Winner will receive two (2) tickets valued at $30 per pair. List of exhibitors.

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