Wednesday, August 29, 2018

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  • Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Wakefield Jaraman Shiraz 2016 (Australia) - Wine Review



wine review is an Australian Shiraz that arrived in LCBO VINTAGES on .

Like the 2016 Wakefield Cabernet Sauvignon that I enjoyed in June, this red wine is produced by the family-owned and -operated Wakefield Wines. This particular red wine is part of their Jaraman Collection - a selection of premium wines that represent the celebration the regional diversity, bringing together two of Australia's finest wine regions in a single varietal wine.

This is a blend of 63% Clare Valley fruit and 37% McLaren Vale fruit. Clare Valley experienced low, but timely, rainfall, while flowering conditions were ideal. Combined with the vines being stress-free heading into winter, this led to the vintage being called one of the greats. In McLaren Vale, there was low rainfall leading up to the growing season, as well as lower than average rainfall during vintage and long dry spells in between. However, intense rainfall over two days in early February helped increase yields. Overall, it was fairly dry year in McLaren Vale, which is ideal for Shiraz.

Wakefield Jaraman Shiraz 2016 (88 pts)

Tasting Note:

WAKEFIELD JARAMAN SHIRAZ 2016 - McLaren Vale/Clare Valley, South Australia (#377036) (XD) - $24.95
Screw cap. The richly spiced nose has aromas of blackberry, dark cherry, mocha chocolate, and vanilla oak with hints of black plum. It is full-bodied on the richly concentrated and ripe palate with blueberry and blackberry fruit flavours. There is some jamminess on the flavour profile, but it's backed by earthy, mocha, and savoury notes with hints of pepper spice, putting the jamminess firmly in the background (which I like). Acids are fresh, while tannins are smooth, supple and well-integrated. Very good finish length. Score: 88 pts



Monday, August 27, 2018

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  • Monday, August 27, 2018

Wine Picks LCBO VINTAGES September 1, 2018: Euro Benchmarks

LCBO Wine Picks: September 1, 2018 VINTAGES Release
The upcoming LCBO VINTAGES Release is a mono-thematic release titled "The Grand Tour" and features wines from Europe's top Benchmark wine regions. In addition, there are many fine values to be found as we head toward the busy holiday season. It is also a very good release to re-stock your cellar if it was depleted during summer. All of these wines will be on LCBO VINTAGES shelves this coming .

We'll begin with The Grand Tour from Europe's top wine regions that lists fifteen wines, four of which are included among my top wine picks. From Bordeaux, there is a nicely matured 2006 red that is a Cabernet Sauvignon-based blend. From the Rhône Valley, the Châteauneuf-du-Pape is a blend of 65% Grenache, 20% Syrah, 10% Mourvèdre, and 5% Cinsault from vines that are 60 years old. From Tuscany, the Chianti Classico is a blend of 90% Sangiovese and 10% Merlot. And lastly, if you're looking for something quite sweet, from the Mosel is a lovely Riesling Kabinett.

Mazzei Ser Lapo Riserva Chianti Classico 2014 (90 pts)Reichsgraf von Kesselstatt Scharzhofberger Riesling Kabinett 2015 (90 pts)

Among my red wine picks, the Rubus from Spain is a blend of roughly equal parts Garnacha and Syrah, and 20% Tempranillo, while the Cannonau di Sardegna is commonly known as Grenache in other parts of the world. It's rare to see a Ripasso Valpolicella on my list of recommended wines, but there is a good one made in a dry style from Albino Armani that is a traditional blend of Corvina, Corvinone, and Rondinella. The red wine from Puglia is a blend of 65% Aglianico, 25% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 10% Syrah, while the Roussillon red is a blend of 50% Grenache, 30% Syrah, and 20% Carignan. Last but definitely not the least, the Australian red is a blend of 60% Shiraz and 40% Cabernet Sauvignon.

Bodega Jesús Romero Rubus 2016 (89 pts)

My top white wine picks are all in the dry spectrum, save for the aforementioned Riesling. The Portuguese white is a blend of Encruzado and Malvasia, while the Sicilan white is made from the Carricante varietal that is indigenous to Sicily, with the grapes for this wine coming the volcanic slopes of Mount Etna. And lastly, the Loire white is made with Sauvignon Blanc, while the white Burgundy is Chardonnay.

Château La Négly La Natice Rosé 2017 (90 pts)Lavau Tavel Rosé 2017 (89 pts)

There is also a fine selection of dry rosé wines in this release. The Tavel is a blend of 50% Grenache, 45% Cinsault, and 5% Syrah, while the rosé from the Languedoc is mostly Mourvèdre with some Syrah and Cinsault. Both rosés from Provence are primarily Mourvèdre, with Grenache and Cinsault in support. You'll want stock up on these as this just might be the end of new release quality rosé in our market until next spring.

Enjoy my top wine recommendations from this Release. Cheers!

Red Wine:

  • ZUCCARDI SERIE A MALBEC 2016 - Uco Valley, Mendoza, Argentina (#167619) (XD) - $16.95  88 pts  wine review
  • BODEGA JESÚS ROMERO RUBUS 2016 - DO Aragón, Spain (#575944) (XD) - $18.95  89 pts  wine review
  • ALBINO ARMANI RIPASSO VALPOLICELLA CLASSICO SUPERIORE 2015 - DOC, Veneto, Italy (#558759) (XD) - $18.95
  • ANTICHI PODERI JERZU CHUÈRRA RISERVA CANNONAU DI SARDEGNA 2015 - DOC, Sardinia, Italy (#270272) (XD) - $18.95
  • BASTIDE SOBIRANA LIEU DIT LA COLOMINE 2015 - AP Côtes du Roussillon, France (#561217) (XD) - $18.95
  • TORMARESCA TRENTANGELI ROSSO 2015 - DOC Castel del Monte, Puglia, Italy (#435529) (XD) - $19.95
  • MAZZEI SER LAPO RISERVA CHIANTI CLASSICO 2014 - DOCG, Tuscany, Italy (#288530) (XD) - $23.95  90 pts  wine review
  • CREEKSIDE CABERNET FRANC 2014 - Serluca Vineyard, VQA Four Mile Creek, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada (#444034) (XD) - $25.00
  • SOUTHERN RIGHT PINOTAGE 2016 - WO Hemel-en-Aarde Valley, Walker Bay, South Africa (#486167) (XD) - $27.95  90 pts  wine review
  • LAKE BREEZE BERNOOTA SHIRAZ/CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2015 - Langhorne Creek, South Australia (#575886) (XD) - $27.95
  • DOMAINE DE LA SOLITUDE SAINT-JULIEN 2006 - AC Saint-Julien, Bordeaux, France (#550475) (XD) - $38.95
  • DOMAINE CHANTE CIGALE CHÂTEAUNEUF-DU-PAPE 2015 - AP, Rhône, France (#194993) (D) - $51.95
Southern Right Pinotage 2016 (90 pts)Zuccardi Serie A Malbec 2016 (88 pts)

White Wine:

  • CASA DA PASSARELLA DÃO BRANCO 2016 - DO Dão, Portugal (#548859) (XD) - $13.95
  • PONTE PELLEGRINO GRECO DI TUFO 2016 - IGT Campania, Italy (#477760) (XD) - $14.95
  • BELLINGHAM HOMESTEAD SERIES THE OLD ORCHARDS CHENIN BLANC 2016 - WO Paarl, South Africa (#484055) (XD) - $15.95
  • NOMAD SAUVIGNON BLANC 2017 - VQA Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada (#446088) (XD) - $16.95
  • CHÂTEAU DES CHARMES ESTATE BOTTLED CHARDONNAY MUSQUÉ 2015 - VQA Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada (#640516) (XD) - $16.95
  • TORNATORE ETNA BIANCO 2016 - DOC, Sicily, Italy (#577676) (XD) - $22.95
  • REICHSGRAF VON KESSELSTATT SCHARZHOFBERGER RIESLING KABINETT 2015 - Prädikatswein, VDP Grosse Lage, Mosel, Germany (#282343) (MS) - $25.95  90 pts  wine review
  • CHÂTEAU DE TRACY MADEMOISELLE DE T POUILLY-FUMÉ 2016 - AP, Loire, France (#106773) (XD) - $27.95
  • DOMAINE LES VIEUX MURS POUILLY-FUISSÉ 2016 - AC, Burgundy, France (#241117) (XD) - $33.95
  • DOG POINT SECTION 94 SAUVIGNON BLANC 2014 - Marlborough, South Island, New Zealand (#325977) (XD) - $43.95  FE

Rosé Wine:

  • LAVAU TAVEL ROSÉ 2017 - AC, Rhône, France (#556175) (XD) - $18.95  89 pts  wine review
  • LA CADIÉRENNE CUVÉE GRANDE TRADITION BANDOL ROSÉ 2017 - AC, Provence, France (#119453) (XD) - $22.95
  • CHÂTEAU LA NÉGLY LA NATICE ROSÉ 2017 - AP Languedoc, Midi, France (#492199) (XD) - $24.95  90 pts  wine review
  • CHÂTEAU VAL D’ARENC BANDOL ROSÉ 2017 - AP, Provence, France (#557884) (XD) - $29.95

Sparkling Wine:

  • LOUIS ESCHENAUER BRUT CRÉMANT DE BORDEAUX - Traditional method, AP, Bordeaux, France (#543108) (XD) - $16.95


Saturday, August 25, 2018

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  • Saturday, August 25, 2018

Bodega Jesús Romero Rubus 2016 (Spain) - Wine Review

wine is another new release that will be coming to LCBO VINTAGES on .

It is produced by Bodegas Jesús Romero in partnership with San Alejandro's winemaker, Juan Vicente Alcañiz. Together, they purchased a three-hectare vineyard of 70-year-old Garnacha in Báguena, Aragón. They also work together on a nearly four-hectare plot of 10-year-old vines at 980 metres altitude.

The name "Rubus" was chosen for this red wine for two reasons. Firstly, it is a nod to its origins in the municipality of Rubielos de Mora (in Teruel, Aragón, Spain) and secondly, it refers to Rubus Ulmifolius, a species of wild blackberry that evokes its aromas and defines the landscape of the area.

Bodega Jesús Romero Rubus 2016 (89 pts)

Tasting Note:

BODEGA JESÚS ROMERO RUBUS 2016 - DO Aragón, Spain (#575944) (XD) - $18.95
A blend of roughly equal parts Garnacha and Syrah, and 20% Tempranillo completing the blend from vines on pebble soil with sandy loam texture, in a mountainous area between 900 and 1000 metres elevation. All raised in stainless steel and concrete tanks, and spent 5 months on the lees. This is quite fragrant in the glass with blackberry, red berry, and spice aromas accented by earthy mineral. It is medium-full bodied on the fresh, clean, and ripe palate that is fruit forward with blackberry, dark cherry, and spice flavours with a smoky mineral underpinning. Tannins are fairly soft and dusty, offering a nice textural character, with just a touch of grip. Fresh, juicy acids. Long, blackberry and spice finish. Enjoy over the next couple of years. Score: 89 pts


Wednesday, August 22, 2018

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  • Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Lavau Tavel Rosé 2017 (Rhône) - Wine Review

lovely wine is a new release that is coming to LCBO VINTAGES on .

This rosé wine is produced by the Lavau family that has been involved in winemaking for several generations and settled in the Rhône Valley in 1964. Today, brothers Frederic and Benoit Lavau are rapidly building a reputation for excellent, value-oriented and critically-acclaimed wines which embody their savoir-faire and respect of terroir, including the many Lavau wines I've enjoyed over the years.

The vines producing this rosé average 30 years old and are located on the slopes of the right bank of the River Rhône, between the famous Pont d'Avignon and the Pont du Gard bridges. The soil type consists of sand, marly-limestone, and pebbles. Grapes are harvested at night (to keep the grapes cool) and are immediately pressed and transferred into stainless steel vats to undergo slow fermentation.

Lavau Tavel Rosé 2017 (89 pts)

Tasting Note:

LAVAU TAVEL ROSÉ 2017 - AC, Rhône, France (#556175) (XD) - $18.95
A blend of 50% Grenache, 45% Cinsault, and 5% Syrah. Fresh strawberry and raspberry with herbally hints from the cork. In the glass, this has a medium+ intensity nose featuring pretty aromas of ripe strawberry, raspberry, and cherry notes sprinkled with herbs. It's medium-full bodied and somewhat structured on the palate with vibrant, juicy acids that gains body in the mouth. The dry flavour profile is clean and richly concentrated with cherry, strawberry and raspberry flavours. Nice chalky texture. Hints of cran-cherry on the lingering finish. Score: 89 pts


Tuesday, August 21, 2018

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  • Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Henri de Villamont Wine Tasting 2018

Henri de Villamont Wine Tasting 2018

In , I had the pleasure to taste the latest wines from Burgundy's Henri de Villamont with Pierre Jhean, Winemaker and Director at the winery. Having met Pierre and enjoyed the wines from Henri de Villamont in , I was excited to see what he had to offer this time around.

Pierre Jhean, Henri de Villamont
Pierre is always experimenting and trying new strategies and techniques to produce fine wines. One of the most interesting things I learned was that the Macon-Villages was aged with oxygen only and had no barrel contact. Combined with long lees contact, this Burgundian white wine seemed like it saw some time in barrel.

This small, exclusive tasting was held at The National Club, in the Financial District in downtown Toronto and approximately ten people were in attendance. Ten wines were presented at the tasting, and the five below were among my favourites.

For availability of these delicious wines, please click on the six-digit LCBO product code, as some of these may be available at the LCBO or might be arriving soon. Alternatively, you can also contact the Agent Eurovintage Fine Wines & Spirits for availability.

Tasting Notes:

HENRI DE VILLAMONT MACON-VILLAGES 2015 - AC, Burgundy, France (XD) - $21.95
Unique process with long lees contact, oxygen ageing, and no barrel ageing. Fragrant and ripe with nutty, pear, apple, and white flower aromas. The palate is medium+ bodied with nicely balanced aroma replays with some creamy texture. Acids are fresh. Mid-palate just a touch warm. A touch reductive with hints of mineral, while the finish is long and nutty. Score: 89 pts

Henri de Villamont Macon-Villages 2015 (89 pts)Henri de Villamont Chassagne Montrachet 1er Cru Les Embazees 2013 (92 pts)

HENRI DE VILLAMONT CHASSAGNE MONTRACHET 1ER CRU LES EMBAZEES 2013 - AC, Burgundy, France (#524041) (XD) - $89
Beautiful, gorgeous aromas of sweet nut, lemon citrus and oak emanates from the glass in a nicely integrated fashion. The medium-full bodied is structured with chalky mineral notes, very nice aroma replays. Acids are clean and very nicely balanced. Mouthfeel has finesse. The very long finish is juicy with some nut and earthy notes. Beauty! Score: 92 pts

HENRI DE VILLAMONT SANTENAY LES CHAMPS-CLAUDE 2015 - AC, Burgundy, France (XD) - $21.95
The medium+ intensity nose is oak spice driven with red cherry, wild berry, and strawberry tones, and hints of earth. The palate is medium-full bodied and ripe with nice aroma replays, if a touch candied. Acids are very good, while the tannins are supple and smooth. Complex, dark berry finish with very good length. Still young, this will drink well to 2025. Score: 89 pts

Henri de Villamont Santenay Les Champs-Claude 2015 (89 pts)Henri de Villamont Savigny-Les-Beaune Le Village 2015 (91 pts)

HENRI DE VILLAMONT SAVIGNY-LES-BEAUNE LE VILLAGE 2015 - AC, Burgundy, France (XD) - $35
This has a medium-to-high intensity nose that's very savoury with mushroom, forest floor, wet earth, dark berry, and currant aromas. It's medium-bodied with dark berry and well-integrated oak flavours on the palate with refined tannins that gain some grip with time, as well as some chalkiness mid-palate. It has balanced acidity and very good finish length. Score: 91 pts

HENRI DE VILLAMONT CORTON GRAND CRU LES RENARDES 2015 - AC, Burgundy, France (#561225) (XD) - $104.95
Open and highly aromatic, this offers sweet oak spice surrounded by ripe and perfumed black cherry aromas. The medium-full bodied palate is structured with smooth, refined tannins that have some grip. Very fine aroma replays with sweet herbs, and hints of mineral, cassis, and blackberry joining the fray. Fresh acids lift the palate. Excellent finish length. Elegance in a glass. Score: 93 pts

Henri de Villamont Corton Grand Cru Les Renardes 2015 (93 pts)


Sunday, August 19, 2018

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  • Sunday, August 19, 2018

Zuccardi Serie A Malbec 2016 (Argentina) - Wine Review

wine review is a red wine that came through VINTAGES earlier this year (and sold out), but will be returning to shelves as part of the upcoming LCBO VINTAGES Release.

It is produced by Zuccardi Wines, a winemaking family going on three generations. It was founded in 1963 by engineer, Alberto Zuccardi, when he planted his first acre of vines in Maipú, Mendoza, Zuccardi has continued to develop and grow, while positioning itself as an important benchmark for Argentina's winemaking industry.

Today, Sebastian Zuccardi represents the third generation of the family and heads up a young agricultural and winemaking team responsible for producing quality wines from the Uco Valley. In 2008, the winery created an area for Research & Development to study terroir and the different variables that affect wine quality. The aim is to produce wines that express the place and region.

The "Serie A" (or Argentina Series) wines seek to reveal the richness of Argentina's soils and micro-climates through wines that express each grape variety. Malbec, such as tonight's wine, shows best in the Uco Valley.

Zuccardi Serie A Malbec 2016 (88 pts)

Tasting Note:

ZUCCARDI SERIE A MALBEC 2016 - Uco Valley, Mendoza, Argentina (#167619) (XD) - $16.95
Fermented and aged mostly in concrete, with 10% aged in used French barrels. Plummy with black and red cherry aromas from the cork. The medium+ intensity nose is pretty and ripe with blackberry and black plum aromas, with touches of floral, mineral, tea leaf, and herbs. It is medium-full bodied and clean with nice aroma replays and very good fruit expression on the palate. Ripe tannins are smooth and well-integrated. Nicely textured with some chalkiness. It has good acidity and a juicy mid-palate. Very good finish length. Drink over the next 1-2 years. Score: 88 pts


Friday, August 17, 2018

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  • Friday, August 17, 2018

Château La Négly La Natice Rosé 2017 (Midi) - Wine Review

I enjoyed the 2016 Château La Négly La Natice Rosé last year and am pleased to see the lovely 2017 vintage come to LCBO VINTAGES on .

wine review is a lovely dry rosé that is produced by Château de la Negly. The winery is located in the Languedoc, overlooking the Mediterranean. The unique geographical location of the winery allows a synergy of the elements to take place - stroked by sea spray, and buffeted between the Tramontane (strong, cold winds from the north) and the sea wind, the land is bathed under the hot, Mediterranean sun that captures the heat which warms up the berries. The grapes for this rosé come from silty, sandy soils dating from the Miocene period (5 to 23 million years old) and face the Mediterranean sea.

Several families have managed the Domaine over the years. Today, it is the Paux-Rosset family that manages the vineyards and winery with the help of consultant oenologist and friend, Claude Gros. The winemaking process at Château La Négly is entirely focused on creating wines of quality and distinction, such as this gastronomic rosé wine.

Château La Négly La Natice Rosé 2017 (90 pts)

Tasting Note:

CHÂTEAU LA NÉGLY LA NATICE ROSÉ 2017 - AP Languedoc, Midi, France (#492199) (XD) - $24.95
Mostly Mourvèdre with some Syrah and Cinsault completing the blend. Made using the saignée method and aged in tank on fine lees for 6 months. Glass enclosure. The medium intensity nose is spicy, herbally, and citrusy with hints of cherry and melon, and mineral undertones. It's medium bodied on the dry palate with melon, tart citrus, garrigue and spice flavours supported by crisp, vibrant acids that are nicely balanced. Very good flavour intensity. Spiced, juicy mid-palate. Nice mineral notes linger on the long finish. Give it a slight chill enjoy to 2019. Score: 90 pts


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  • Friday, August 17, 2018

Wine Tasting in Prince Edward County - Oct 2017 (Day 2 of 2)

Huff Estates
Last , I visited Prince Edward County for the very first time. Winery visits occurred over two days, and while the in The County included only visits to two wineries, the featured visits to five wineries. All of the wineries on the second day were situated near the village of Hillier in Prince Edward County. I was very excited to taste the County minerality that the region is so well-known for.

The day began with heavy rains during the visit to Huff Estates. A quick run from the car to their modern, state-of-the-art facility that also includes an Inn, and I was inside their tasting room ready to taste the first wines of the day. One of the more interesting things I discovered here was a delicious Riesling "Verre de Vin" - a single glass of wine enclosed by screw cap in a clear container. Huff Estates is known as a premium, quality wine producer and the wine I was most looking forward to trying was their elegant South Bay Chardonnay, but unfortunately it was sold out. It also seemed like the harsh winters of 2014 and 2015, plus a frost in May 2015 hit them hard as the shelves seemed a little bare, with quite a few wines bearing the VQA Ontario appellation. The wines I did taste were very good, and since this post is focused on Prince Edward County wines, I can tell you that the Cuvée Peter F. Huff (reviewed below) is a lovely sparkling wine from The County. For those heading to Prince Edward County this summer, they have now added a wood-fired pizza oven to their restaurant.

Huff Estates Riesling "Verre de Vin"Norman Hardie Wood-Fired Pizza

The rains continued as we visited the second winery, Norman Hardie Winery and Vineyard. My research revealed that the pizza at Norman Hardie's is delicious, so we stopped here for lunch and enjoyed the wood-fired pizza inside among the barrels and tanks (instead of on the outdoor patio) because it was still raining. After lunch, I moved upstairs to the tasting bar and tasted some of Norm's latest wines. Once again, not many VQA Prince Edward County wines here as they were sold out, while newer vintages were not yet bottled. However, the quality of the wines I got to taste was very good, as expected.

Stanners Vineyard

Our third stop of the was at Stanners Vineyard, a small family vineyard and boutique winery that was started by Cliff and his son, Colin Stanner. As I headed inside through the side door of the homestead, I found winemaker Colin pouring his delicious wines at the tasting bar. Not many wines were available for tasting, but I was delighted to see mostly County fruit being poured. I tasted through the lineup and was really impressed with The County wines - a Pinot Gris and a pair of Pinot Noir wines.

Lacey Estates

I'd heard many good things about Lacey Estates, the fourth winery of the day, so we made an unplanned stop because we were driving along and it happened to be en route. On this day, they were pouring four wines, and only one was VQA Prince Edward County. However, as I learned, even though the some of the bottles were labelled as VQA Ontario, all of the wines contained 100% Prince Edward County fruit. I really liked a couple of wines, as they were quite delicious, but I had tasted these before. Since I visited at the end of a very busy season, they were sold out of most of their wines, but I do think they have some quality wines worth seeking out.

Closson Chase Vineyards

The last visit of the day was at Closson Chase Vineyards, one of Prince Edward County's wine industry pioneers. I've tasted many delicious wines from their portfolio over the years, but on this day I decided to try only their lineup of Pinot Noir wines. Closson Chase was one of the few wineries in Prince Edward County to use only County fruit in all of their wines that I tasted. The three Pinots I tasted on this day were all top-notch wines. This quality-driven winery, with winemaker Keith Tyers at the helm, produces fine wines across their range and is a must visit for any Pinot Noir or Chardonnay fan.

Closson Chase Pinot Noir Lineup

All-in-all, I was quite satisfied with my first ever visit to Prince Edward County while visiting 7 wineries. However, given that there are more than 40+ wineries in the region, and growing every year, another trip to The County is definitely in order. After years of procrastinating about visiting Prince Edward County for many years, I think I want to visit this up-and-coming wine region every year.

Tasting Notes:

HUFF ESTATES CUVÉE PETER F. HUFF 2011 - VQA Prince Edward County, Ontario, Canada (#198754) (XD) - $40
A sparkling wine made with 65% Chardonnay and 35% Pinot Noir, this has terrific aromatic intensity with lemon curd, brioche, and pastry aromas in a honeyed profile. It's medium-full bodied with honeyed lemon, grapefruit, and ginger flavours that are lifted by crisp, lively acids. Mousse is very fine and well-balanced. Off-dry flavours linger on the long finish. Score: 91 pts

Huff Estates Cuvée Peter F. Huff 2011 (91 pts)Huff Estates South Bay Merlot 2015 (88 pts)

HUFF ESTATES SOUTH BAY MERLOT 2015 - VQA Prince Edward County, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $35
This Merlot spent 20 months in French oak, and it shows with oak-driven, bretty, tobacco, cigar leaf notes sitting atop blackberry and dark fruit aromas of medium+ intensity. On the palate it's medium-full bodied with grippy tannins. It has dark fruits, blackberry, earth, and forest floor flavours along with hints of cola and brambly fruit. It has very good acidity and a long finish. Age this 3+ years and drink to 2024. Score: 88 pts

NORMAN HARDIE RIESLING 2016 - VQA Ontario, Canada (#131169) (D) - $21
The medium+ intensity nose is fresh with citrus, lemon/lime, orange and peach aromas. It's medium-bodied on the palate with very good acids and nice aroma replays and touches of beeswax and honeysuckle. There's a nice mineral note throughout. Off-dry and very good length on the finish. Score: 89 pts

Norman Hardie Riesling 2016 (89 pts)Norman Hardie Calcaire 2016 (89 pts)

NORMAN HARDIE CALCAIRE 2016 - VQA Ontario, Canada (XD) - $23
With grapes sourced from both Prince Edward County and Niagara, this is a blend of nearly 50/50 Riesling and Chardonnay, plus minute amounts of Pinot Gris, that was co-fermented on the lees. It has elegant, medium-high intensity aromas of orange, lemon citrus, mineral and white peach that also shows up in appealing fashion on the dry palate with a chalky texture. Delicate acids. Nice mineral aftertaste on the long finish. Score: 89 pts

NORMAN HARDIE COUNTY CABERNET FRANC 2015 - VQA Prince Edward County, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $29
Highly aromatic and ripe with herbaceous, dark currant, dark berry, blackberry aromas along with leafy, barnyard and oak nuances forming the complex aroma profile. The palate is medium-bodied with very nice, complex aroma replays surrounded by chalky, drying tannins. Acids are clean and well-balanced, while the finish is long and juicy. Score: 90 pts

Norman Hardie County Cabernet Franc 2015 (90 pts)Stanners Pinot Gris Cuivré 2016 (90 pts)

STANNERS PINOT GRIS CUIVRÉ 2016 - VQA Prince Edward County, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $28
Bottled just three weeks prior to my visit, this has pretty tropical fruit, melon, floral, and orange blossom aromas that continue very nicely on the palate. It's dry, focused, well-balanced and has fresh, vibrant acids. Finish length is very good. Score: 90 pts

STANNERS PINOT NOIR 2015 - VQA Prince Edward County, Ontario, Canada (#490359) (XD) - $35
Released two months ago, this has a complex medium intensity nose of cherry, currant, raspberry with hints of tea leaf, earth and mushroom. It's light-weighted with smooth, fine tannins and flavours of currant, cherry, beetroot and earth. It has energetic acids and a long, curranty finish. Score: 90 pts

Stanners Pinot Noir 2015 (90 pts)Stanners Barrel Select Pinot Noir 2014 (90+ pts)

STANNERS BARREL SELECT PINOT NOIR 2014 - VQA Prince Edward County, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $39
This has a medium-high intensity nose with earthy, cherry, strawberry, beetroot, and whiffs of herbal leaf and limestone minerality, all of which show up on the nicely balanced palate. The smooth, refined tannins have some structure, while the acids are bright and the finish is long and juicy. Age this another year and drink to 2022. Score: 90+ pts

LACEY CABERNET FRANC 2012 - VQA Ontario, Canada (XD) - $32
Medium-high intensity and complex  aromas of dark currant, herbally, blackberry, tobacco leaf, and smoke. It has bright acids on a medium-full bodied palate with very nice aroma replays and tannins that are a touch grippy. Pleasantly savoury on the mid-palate, while the finish is earthy with very good length. Drink over the next 3-4 years. Score: 90 pts

LACEY DORLAND RESERVE 2012 - VQA Ontario, Canada (XD) - $32
A blend of 70% Cabernet Sauvignon and 30% Cabernet Franc, this has a medium+ intensity nose of cassis, currants, red & black fruits, cedar oak, and a whiff or dried fruit. It's full-bodied with olive and aroma replays, chalky tannins, and bright acids. Very good finish length. Score: 88 pts

Lacey Dorland Reserve 2012 (88 pts)Closson Chase Hillier Pinot Noir 2013 (90+ pts)

CLOSSON CHASE HILLIER PINOT NOIR 2013 - VQA Prince Edward County, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $24.95
Colour turning garnet orange. Highly aromatic and complex with cherry liqueur, oak spice, nutmeg and beet root aromas. It's medium+ bodied with very nice beetroot and cherry dominant aroma replays. Tannins are silky smooth. Still has bright acids. The finish length is excellent. This is showing some maturity, but should continue to drink well over the next few years. Score: 90+ pts

CLOSSON CHASE VINEYARD PINOT NOIR 2014 - VQA Prince Edward County, Ontario, Canada (#145888) (XD) - $29.95
The nose is highly aromatic and fragrant with cherry, strawberry, beetroot and freshly tilled earth notes. On the medium-bodied palate, it has very nice aroma replays that are nicely balanced and lifted by fresh acids. It has fine tannins and a very long finish with lingering currant, cherry, raspberry notes with hints of oak spice. Enjoy over the next 3-4 years. Score: 90+ pts

Closson Chase Vineyard Pinot Noir 2014 (90+ pts)Closson Chase Churchside Pinot Noir 2014 (91 pts)

CLOSSON CHASE CHURCHSIDE PINOT NOIR 2014 - VQA Prince Edward County, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $39.95
This is a dark Pinot with a highly aromatic nose of dark berries, blackberry, complex oak spices, tea leaf and earthy forest floor nuances that continue on the palate with great complexity. It's medium-full bodied on the palate with supple, crunchy tannins that have some grip and partnered with juicy acids. The lengthy finish ends with earthy-minerally nuances. Drink to 2024. Score: 91 pts


Tuesday, August 14, 2018

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  • Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Marynissen Chardonnay 2014 (Niagara) - Wine Review

white wine review is an oaked Chardonnay from Marynissen Estates Winery in Niagara. While a previous vintage has shown up in LCBO VINTAGES, this wine is currently only available through the winery.

Marynissen Estates Winery was founded after the property - which is located in the Four Mile Creek sub-Appellation at the base of the Niagara Escarpment and contained an existing vineyard - was purchased in 1953 by viticulture pioneer John Marynissen and his wife Adrianna (Nanny) who immigrated to Canada from Holland.

In 1975, they began planting European vinifera grape varietals. John was one of the first grape growers in Canada to plant vinifera grapes, at a time when most people thought it could not be done. Cabernet Sauvignon was added to the vineyard in 1978 is now the oldest commercial planting in Canada and the pride of the estate.

The vineyards rich history was born out of a strong devotion to the land, pioneering spirit and passion for excellence. The Marynissen family spent decades watching over the vines, hand farming and harvesting to craft award-winning wines. Sadly, John passed away in January 2009, while his daughter, Sandra, retired. However, their family legacy and vision for the winery remains intact.

Marynissen Chardonnay 2014 (86 pts)

Tasting Note:

MARYNISSEN CHARDONNAY 2014 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#907683) (XD) - $15.95
Binned apple and lemon aromas from the cork. In the glass, the medium intensity nose has buttery, binned apple, lemon, and tropical fruit aromas, a touch reductive, and hints of butterscotch and earth. On the medium-bodied palate, it is clearly an oaked Chardonnay with buttery, baked apple, lemon peel, and sweet oak flavours. Food friendly acids lift the palate, while the finish is juicy with good length. Shows best with some aeration and only a slight chill. Score: 86 pts


Monday, August 13, 2018

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  • Monday, August 13, 2018

Wine Picks LCBO VINTAGES Release August 18, 2018: Australia + Europe Less Travelled

LCBO Wine Picks: August 18, 2018 VINTAGES Release
The upcoming LCBO VINTAGES Release features wines from Australia as its main theme, while the mini-theme is titled "Europe less travelled". The underlying message is really a chance for you to explore what's new in Australia, as well as the wines from Europe's lesser-known wine regions. There are also a couple of other relatively obscure wines from the New World. All of these wines will be on LCBO VINTAGES shelves across Ontario this .

We'll begin with the main theme that features fifteen wines, five of which are included among my top wine picks. The island of Tasmania has been making wine for many years, but only recently has it been gaining notoriety (some of it due to climate change) for wines such as the Jansz Sparkling Rosé that is a blend of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Australians are also innovating with wines such as rosé made with Sangiovese, a blend of 81% Syrah and 19% Gamay Noir, and an interesting Pinot Noir from Yarra Valley. And if you've never tried Hunter Valley Semillon, this release has a good one that should age for at least half a decade. Lastly, there is a wild fermented Savagnin that is a Flagship Exclusive (FE).

The mini-theme features a total of ten wines from six off-the-beaten-path European winemaking countries - Austria, Georgia, Lebanon, Greece, Hungary, and Romania. Personally, I wouldn't include Greece as part of this list, but that is a discussion for another day. Four of the wines are included among my wine recommendations. There is a Grüner Veltliner from Austria and a nice dessert wine from Hungary that is a blend of 70% Furmint and 30% Harslevelu. Both Greek wines featured are also among my recommended buys - a nicely floral Moschofilero and a 2010 red made with Agiorgitiko.

Cavino Nemea Grande Reserve 2010 (89 pts)Lakeview Cellars Morgan Vineyard Kerner 2017 (87 pts)

A pair of wines off-the-beaten-path from the New World include a Tannat from Uruguay, and for sweet wine lovers there is an off-dry Kerner from Niagara.

La Ferme du Mont Première Côte Côtes du Rhône 2016 (88 pts)Villacreces Pruno 2016 (89 pts)

Among my top red wine picks, the Côte du Rhône from France is a blend of 60% Grenache, 30% Syrah, and 10% Mourvèdre, while the Ribera del Duero from Spain is a blend of 90% Tempranillo and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon.

Enjoy my wine recommendations from this Release! Cheers!

Red Wine:

  • CAVINO NEMEA GRANDE RESERVE 2010 - PDO Nemea, Greece (#295618) (XD) - $17.95  89 pts  wine review
  • LA FERME DU MONT PREMIÈRE CÔTE CÔTES DU RHÔNE 2016 - AP, France (#251645) (XD) - $18.95  88 pts  wine review
  • GARZON RESERVA TANNAT 2015 - Uruguay (#558916) (D) - $19.95
  • CHAKANA ESTATE SELECTION CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2015 - Gualtallary, Tupungato, Uco Valley, Mendoza, Argentina (#555540) (XD) - $19.95
  • DE BORTOLI G.S. PINOT NOIR 2017 - Yarra Valley, Victoria, Australia (#015511) (XD) - $19.95
  • VILLACRECES PRUNO 2016 - DO Ribera del Duero, Spain (#312140) (XD) - $22.95  89 pts  wine review
  • LA BOHÈME ACT FOUR SYRAH/GAMAY 2017 - Yarra Valley, Victoria, Australia (#571141) (XD) - $24.95
  • KEINT-HE PORTAGE PINOT NOIR 2014 - VQA Prince Edward County, Ontario, Canada (#373415) (XD) - $25.00  89 pts  wine review
  • STEPHEN ROSS SANTA LUCIA HIGHLANDS PINOT NOIR 2015 - Santa Lucia Highlands, Monterey County, California, USA (#568246) (XD) - $42.95
  • VERSADO RESERVA ANCIENT MALBEC 2013 - Mendoza, Argentina (#316984) (XD) - $59.95
Keint-He Portage Pinot Noir 2014 (89 pts)

White Wine:

  • ZACHARIAS MOSCHOFILERO 2016 - PGI Peloponnese, Greece (#548222) (XD) - $14.95
  • ESTERHÁZY GALÁNTHA GRÜNER VELTLINER 2017 - Qualitätswein, Burgenland, Austria (#568501) (XD) - $16.95
  • LAKEVIEW CELLARS MORGAN VINEYARD KERNER 2017 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#443614) (D) - $17.95  87 pts  wine review
  • ORGANIZED CRIME CHARDONNAY 2016 - VQA Beamsville Bench, Niagara Escarpment, Ontario, Canada (#408435) (XD) - $18.95
  • VILLA SPARINA GAVI DI GAVI 2016 - DOCG, Piedmont, Italy (#541854) (XD) - $19.95
  • PACO & LOLA ALBARIÑO 2017 - DO Rías Baixas, Spain (#350041) (XD) - $19.95
  • RUSTENBERG CHARDONNAY 2016 - WO Stellenbosch, South Africa (#598631) (XD) - $19.95
  • BROKENWOOD SEMILLON 2016 - Hunter Valley, New South Wales, Australia (#657726) (XD) - $22.95
  • HENRI DE VILLAMONT PRESTIGE BOURGOGNE CHARDONNAY 2015 - AC, Burgundy, France (#416123) (XD) - $24.95  89 pts  wine review
  • SOUMAH WILD SAVAGNIN 2015 - Hexham Vineyard, Yarra Valley, Victoria, Australia (#572743) (XD) - $31.95  FE
  • RADFORD DALE RENAISSANCE CHENIN BLANC 2016 - WO Stellenbosch, South Africa (#320853) (XD) - $39.95  FE
Henri de Villamont Prestige Bourgogne Chardonnay 2015 (89 pts)

Rosé Wine:

  • THE FLOOZIE SANGIOVESE ROSÉ 2017 - McLaren Vale, South Australia (#558106) (XD) - $19.95

Sparkling Wine:

  • JANSZ PREMIUM SPARKLING ROSÉ - Tasmania, Australia (#037499) (D) - $27.95
  • CHÂTEAU DE BLIGNY BRUT BLANC DE BLANCS CHAMPAGNE - AC, France (#385112) (D) - $54.95

Dessert Wine:

  • CHÂTEAU DERESZLA 5 PUTTONYOS TOKAJI ASZÚ 2009 - Tokaj, Hungary (#012203) (S) (500 mL) - $46.95


Friday, August 10, 2018

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  • Friday, August 10, 2018

Villacreces Pruno 2016 (Spain) - Wine Review

wine review is a nice Spanish red blend that will be coming to LCBO VINTAGES on .

It is produced by one of the region's first wineries, Finca Villacreces, and is situated in the middle of Ribera del Duero’s "Golden Mile". The Duero estate is named after its founder, Franciscan monk Pedro de Villacreces, who, together with other clerics established a monastery on this site to pray and grow crops, including grapes.

For centuries, Villacreces was a place of retreat for Franciscan monks who, among other things, worked the land until the Confiscations of Mendizábal in 1836, when the land passed into the private hands of Marquis Teodosio Alonso-Pesquera - a royal senator of Alfonso XIII. Shortly thereafter, Marquis was granted water rights to the Duero River by the King.

At the beginning of the 20th century, the second Marquis sold the estate to the Cuadrado Family from Valladolid. In 2004, Gonzalo and Lalo Antón met the Cuadrado Family and expressed interest in purchasing the site as they already had bodegas in Rioja and Toro, and had been looking to expand into the Ribera de Duero. Pedro Cuadrado also hinted at leaving the wine business and estate in good hands. Soon after, the Antóns became owners of one of Ribera del Duero's most spectacular vineyards. They rebuilt the bodega, restored the vineyard, and relaunched Villacreces in 2007.

Villacreces Pruno 2016 (89 pts)

Tasting Note:

VILLACRECES PRUNO 2016 - DO Ribera del Duero, Spain (#312140) (XD) - $22.95
Approximately 90% Tempranillo and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon. Black plum and cedar oak aromas from the cork. In the glass, this has a medium+ intensity nose with smoky black licorice, black cherry, oak spice, and cassis with hints of earth and black plum aromas. It's medium-bodied on the palate with grippy, muscular tannins and fresh acids lifting the black cherry, blackberry, currant, and oak flavours. Drying mid-palate. Long finish with earthy and smoky elements, and just a touch of chocolate bitterness. Solid wine that needs 3+ years of cellar time. Score: 89 pts


Tuesday, August 7, 2018

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  • Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Lakeview Cellars Morgan Vineyard Kerner 2017 (Niagara) - Wine Review

wine review is a unique white wine that will be coming to LCBO VINTAGES on .

The Kerner grape is an aromatic white grape variety that was bred in Germany in 1929 by crossing Trollinger (a red grape variety) with Riesling. Today, most Kerner plantings are in Germany, while some are also grown in Austria, Switzerland, and South Tyrol (in Northern Italy).

With only a few vineyards in Niagara producing Kerner, this wine by Lakeview Cellars comes from the Morgan Vineyard located on the Lincoln Lakeshore sub-appellation. Approximately 2 acres of vines are 20+ years old, and are all planted on sandy soils. This wine has been produced since at least the 2000 vintage. Let's see how the 2017 is tasting tonight...

Lakeview Cellars Morgan Vineyard Kerner 2017 (87 pts)

Tasting Note:

LAKEVIEW CELLARS MORGAN VINEYARD KERNER 2017 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#443614) (D) - $17.95
Screw cap. The generous nose has white floral, ripe apple and peach aromas, with some honeyed and grapey notes. It's off-dry on the palate with more apple, floral, and peach flavours lifted by bright acidity. There's some bitterness on the honeyed-floral finish, with good length. A casual sipper to enjoy on a hot summer's day. Serve well-chilled. Score: 87 pts


Sunday, August 5, 2018

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  • Sunday, August 5, 2018

Dandelion Lioness of McLaren Vale Shiraz 2016 (Australia) - Wine Review

wine review is an Australian Shiraz that recently arrived in LCBO VINTAGES on .

Dandelion Vineyards is a unique fusion of vineyards and vignerons. The wines represent decades of experience, blending the fruit of old vine gardens with the finest traditions of artisan winemaking, while also allowing the unique character of these vineyards to express their terroir.

The grapes for the Lioness of McLaren Vale Shiraz are sourced from Angus and Helen Tuck's vineyard located in the subregion of Bakers Gully, in the foothills of McLaren Vale. These are mature vines are grown on ironstone pebble laden clay loam, over ancient Kurrajong Formation geology, a silica cemented conglomerate most suited to grow Shiraz.

Dandelion Lioness of McLaren Vale Shiraz 2016 (88+ pts)

Tasting Note:

DANDELION LIONESS OF MCLAREN VALE SHIRAZ 2016 - McLaren Vale, South Australia (#357475) (XD) - $21.95
Hand-picked and pressed in whole bunches, and raised in 20% new and 80% older French Oak barriques for 18 months. Screw cap. The medium-high intensity nose offers aromas of black plum, blackberry, jammy, black peppercorn, and oak spices with some jamminess. On the medium-full bodied palate, this has vibrant acids and nice black peppercorn and blue fruit aroma replays in a dry flavour profile, with jamminess firmly in the background. Rounded tannins are ripe, dusty, and smooth. Black peppercorn and chocolate notes linger on the long finish. Score: 88+ pts


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