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  • Friday, June 28, 2019

Bodega Garzón Reserva Albariño 2018 (Uruguay) - Wine Review



After enjoying the 2016 Bodega Garzón Reserva Tannat from Uruguay earlier this week, wine review is a lovely white wine from the same producer. Like the Tannat, this will also be coming to LCBO VINTAGES on .

It is produced by Bodega Garzón at their sustainable estate winery in Punta del Este in southeastern Uruguay. The winery is located over natural terraces and built in the hills, using a gravity-flow system to gently move the wine through the various stages, which allows Garzón to produce fine wines of the utmost quality. Their energy-efficient facilities also generate their own energy via wind and solar cells. Impressively, their 19,050 m² building has a capacity of 2.2 million litres and is the first sustainable, LEED certified winery outside of North America.

While Uruguay is known more for their red wines, Albariño was actually the first varietal planted on the property at Bodega Garzón. This white wine varietal thrives in Maldonado due to its proximity to the ocean and it's soil, which are both similar to Albariño’s home in Galicia in northwestern Spain.

Bodega Garzón Reserva Albariño 2018 (90 pts)

Tasting Note:

BODEGA GARZÓN RESERVA ALBARIÑO 2018 - Maldonado, Uruguay (#646802) (XD) - $21.95
Hand-picked and sorted, this Albariño spent 3 to 6 months on the lees in stainless steel tanks. The pretty nose offers fragrant and ripe apricot and peach aromas with hints of lemon citrus. It is medium-full bodied on the structured palate that has a slight spritzy character. Dry flavour profile with citrus, tangy grapefruit, white floral and herbally notes that are lifted with fresh, crisp, and bright acidity. Stone and citrus fruit flavours give way to mineral notes on the long, crisp finish. Score: 90 pts


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  • Monday, June 24, 2019

Bodega Garzón Reserva Tannat 2016 (Uruguay) - Wine Review

It is widely accepted that the greatest wines in the world are found where a grape varietal finds the ideal conditions to express itself in a natural and authentic way. As such, I am reviewing a delicious Tannat that has found a home in, of all places, Uruguay. This delicious red wine will be coming to LCBO VINTAGES on .

This wine is made with the Tannat grape varietal by Bodega Garzón, a producer that was awarded the 2018 New World Winery of the Year by Wine Enthusiast. Bodega Garzón, located in Maldonado in southeastern Uruguay, was founded by Argentinean businessman Alejandro Bulgheroni and his wife Bettina to have their family dream come true of a winery of modern viticulture in Uruguay with personality and a sense of belonging to the land. With the advice of international eonologist Alberto Antonini, Garzón's philosophy is focused on producing wines that are a true expression of their origins.

Uruguay is recognized worldwide for Tannat, a variety that has become the iconic grape of the country given its unique, velvety flavour and the countless international awards it has received. In fact, it is now produced in greater quantities in Uruguay than in Southwest of France, where this varietal originated. Located at the same latitude as Argentina, Chile, South Africa, Australia, and New Zealand, the temperate climate favours growing grapevines throughout Uruguay.

At Bodega Garzón, the vineyards are located close to the Uruguayan Atlantic coast at 160 m above sea level and are influenced by the fresh breeze of the Atlantic Ocean. The geology of Garzón belongs to what is known as the Crystalline Basement, which gave origin to the oldest soils on the planet more than 2.5 billion years ago. When those rocks are altered and broken down naturally over millions of years, a fantastic soil of weathered rock is formed, called Ballast. These ballast hills have excellent drainage and several minerals that are absorbed by the roots of the vine, making wines vibrant, energetic and complex, turning Garzón into a suitable place for specialized viticulture.

Bodega Garzón Reserva Tannat 2016 (90 pts)

Tasting Note:

BODEGA GARZÓN RESERVA TANNAT 2016 - Uruguay (#558916) (D) - $21.95
Fermented in cement tanks and aged for 6 to 12 months on the lees in French oak barrels and casks. Medium+ intensity aromatics are quite stony mineral driven, layered atop red and black fruits, black currant, and herbs, accented with some peppery spice aromas. The full-ish bodied palate is ripe with more dark berry, herbal, spice, and subtle wood flavours. Nicely textured with some some stony characters on the mid-palate adding nuance. Acids are fresh, while the refined tannins are approachable, supple and have some structure. Some bitterness with dark chocolate and hints of black plum notes on the long after taste. Recommended buy to enjoy over the next 5+ years. Score: 90 pts


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  • Monday, June 24, 2019

Queenston Mile Vineyard Portfolio Tasting (Spring 2019)

Queenston Mile Vineyard Sparkling Wines
In the , I had the pleasure of tasting through the wines of one of Niagara's newest and hottest wineries - Queenston Mile Vineyard.

The 50-acre vineyard and winery are located in St. David's Bench in Niagara-on-the-Lake, just 10 kilometres south of the shores of Lake Ontario. This area was formed when glaciers carved out the Niagara Escarpment and arose from the historic shoreline of Lake Iroquois towards the base of the Niagara Escarpment. Today, the escarpment's steep ridge collects winds off the lake and circulates them back over the low-lying plains of Niagara-on-the-Lake.

Queenston Mile Vineyard is situated in one of Niagara's hottest sub-appellations, with their Estate Vineyard warming early in the Spring and allowing for an extended growing season. In fact, they have one of the warmest and longest growing sites in the Niagara Peninsula. Soils consist of red sandstone bedrock and rich layers of silty clay and loam.

The people behind Queenston Mile Vineyard are not new to wine. They have also been growing grapes and making wine from this land for over twenty years. For the first ten years, they waited for the vines to mature on this newly planted vineyard so they could see what they truly had to be able to make exceptional wines. During the second ten years, they started to see the special qualities of the vineyard. The result is a house that produces mostly Chardonnay and Pinot Noir table wines, as well as fantastic sparkling wines.

Rob Power is the man behind Queenston Mile Vineyard. It is a project of passion for him and has been a strong advocate for the advancement of quality and creativity in the Canadian wine industry. He has worked tirelessly to innovate within the Niagara wine industry, producing thought provoking blends and vinifying unique varietals. You may also know him as the winemaker at Niagara's Creekside Estate Winery. During his career, Rob has garnered both critical acclaim and the respect of his industry colleagues as he is widely considered to be one of Canada's top winemakers.

I tasted through the entire Queenston Mile Vineyard portfolio and wine reviews of my favourites are provided below. All of these delicious wines are available for purchase directly from the winery.

Queenston Mile Vineyard Mile Red 2016Queenston Mile Vineyard Sweet Victory Viognier 2017

Tasting Notes:

QUEENSTON MILE VINEYARD BLANC DE NOIRS 2015 - VQA St. David's Bench, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $50
100% Pinot Noir that spent 3 years on the lees. Pretty, light-peach coloured with fragrant aromas pastry, lemon/lime citrus and stone fruits. Honeyed with a kiss of sweetness on the palate with lovely aromas replays. It is creamy textured with bright, vibrant acids and a long, crisp finish. Very fine Niagara bubbly. Score: 91+ pts

Queenston Mile Vineyard Blanc de Noirs 2015 (91+ pts)

QUEENSTON MILE VINEYARD CHARDONNAY 2016 - Estate bottled, VQA St. David's Bench, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada (#010137) (XD) - $35
From a hot year, this offers subtle ripe apple, pear, and vanilla aromas, with much of the same on the medium+ bodied and fleshy palate. Finish length is very good. Score: 88+ pts

Queenston Mile Vineyard Chardonnay 2016 (88+ pts)Queenston Mile Vineyard Chardonnay 2017 (90+ pts)

QUEENSTON MILE VINEYARD CHARDONNAY 2017 - Barrel Fermented, VQA St. David's Bench, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $35
Bottled a couple of weeks prior, the 2017 offers a lovely, medium-high intensity nose that is clean and lean, with butter ripe apples, elegant pear and vanilla aromas. It is lifted with vibrant acidity on a medium-bodied palate. Nutty notes arrive on flavour profile, along with lovely aroma replays. Long, clean finish. Reminds me of a Meursault. Score: 90+ pts

QUEENSTON MILE VINEYARD PINOT NOIR 2016 - Estate bottled, VQA St. David's Bench, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $40
A hot vintage on a hot site, this has a medium intensity nose of stewed red and blackberry, strawberry, cherry, and a touch of nail polish, all of which come through nicely on the palate. Acids are very good, but the tannins are very drying and chalky. Good finish length. I would hold for 2-3 years to let the tannins subside. Score: 89 pts

Queenston Mile Vineyard Pinot Noir 2016 (89 pts)Queenston Mile Vineyard Pinot Noir 2017 (90+ pts)

QUEENSTON MILE VINEYARD PINOT NOIR 2017 - Estate bottled, VQA St. David's Bench, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $40
Slightly darker in colour and more feminine in style than the 2016. This has a lovely medium-high intensity nose of red currant, black cherry, raspberry, wood spice, and hints of earthiness and tea leaf. It is medium-bodied with some astringency to the soft tannins, but otherwise well-integrated. Lovely tea leaf, beet root and strawberry flavours on the palate. Bright acids and very good finish length. Bottled 1-2 weeks ago. Score: 90+ pts


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  • Friday, June 21, 2019

Wakefield Jaraman Shiraz 2017 (Australia) - Wine Review

After enjoying the 2016 Wakefield Jaraman Shiraz earlier this year, I am delighted to try the 2017 vintage of this wine that will be arriving in LCBO VINTAGES on .

It is produced by Wakefield Wines and within their Jaraman range of wines they search for parcels of extraordinary fruit to craft wines that showcase their distinctive regional characteristics and style.

The growing season leading up to the 2017 vintage in Clare Valley was rather wet and, in fact, the wettest recorded since 2000. Soil temperatures remained very low due to the waterlogged conditions, and below average ambient temperatures resulted in later budburst. However, weather conditions during flowering were favourable and, hence, fruit set was good across all varieties. Harvest began in late February and continued through early May. Overall, the winemakers at Wakefield declared the vintage to be an above average vintage in terms of quantity and quality.

In McLaren Vale, winter and spring saw above average rainfall, leading to full soil profiles. Like in Clare Valley, cooler than average temperatures led to delayed flowering and veraison, which also meant that harvest was also slightly delayed with very few vineyards picked in February. The weather during March & April was stable, with warm and dry conditions and little rainfall. Overall, the winemakers reported the reds to be lively, bright, spicy, vibrant, and elegant.

Compared with the 2016 vintage, the 2017 has a bit less fruit from Clare Valley, with the blend consisting of 60.5% Clare Valley and 39.5% McLaren Vale. The grapes were gently de-stemmed and fermented in small static stainless steel tanks using Shiraz-specific yeast isolate. Gentle pressing occurred in a mixture of American oak hogshead and barriques (30% 1 year old, 70% 2 to 3 year old) for secondary malolactic fermentation, and upon completion was transferred back to barrel for maturation before being fined, filtered, and bottled in August 2018.

Wakefield Jaraman Shiraz 2017 (88 pts)

Tasting Note:

WAKEFIELD JARAMAN SHIRAZ 2017 - Clare Valley/McLaren Vale, South Australia (#377036) (XD) - $24.95
Screw cap. Medium+ intensity nose delivers blackberry pie, plum, dark cherry and spice with hints of violet and mint. The fresh medium+ bodied palate offers more spice notes surrounding a core of blackberry, plum, and dark cherry flavours. Acids are fresh, while tannins are smooth, refined and textured. Finishes on the woody side with a touch of bitter dark chocolate. Very good finish length. Score: 88 pts


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  • Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Leonardo Rosso 2016 (Tuscany) - Wine Review

wine review is a red wine from Tuscany that recently arrived at the LCBO as part of the LCBO VINTAGES Release.

It is produced by Cantine Leonardo da Vinci, a brand of wineries named after the famous Renaissance Man. The winery was created to continue Leonardo's studies in the field of viticulture. The people behind Cantine Leonardo da Vinci are committed to winemaking excellence in Italy through a modern combination of tourism, culture, food, and wine.

For Leonardo himself, wine was a daily passion, a creative matter and a stimulus for new inventions. With this in mind, the Cantine Leonardo da Vinci strives to produce wines in Italy's best territories, while attempting to use his methods to innovate, research, observe, and have respect for nature.

Each collection within the Leonardo da Vinci portfolio tells a different aspect of Leonardo's extraordinary relationship with wine. This particular red comes from the Leonardo da Vinci collection that is a selection of the most representative wines of Tuscany (and Romagna) that show on the label the most popular and famous design in the world. The Vitruvian Man holds the power and the contemporaneity of Leonardo, his unshakable aspiration to the future that makes him a timeless Genius.

In addition to the cellars that are shared among a number of Italian wineries, they also have a couple of museums devoted to divulging the knowledge of Leonardo da Vinci - the artist, scientist, inventor and designer.

Leonardo Rosso 2016 (87 pts)

Tasting Note:

LEONARDO ROSSO 2016 - IGT Toscana, Italy (#483818) (D) - $14.95
A blend of 85% Sangiovese and 15% other varietals that come from the hilly areas within the municipalities of Vinci and Cerreto Guidi in Tuscany. Savoury, wet forest floor aromas mingle with tangy cherry, dark berry and baking spice notes, with very good intensity. The medium-full bodied palate is ripe fruited with dark red berries, spice, and some sweet vanillin flavours. It has soft, supple tannins that are nicely textured. There's some sweetness here, but it's mostly hidden by the fresh acidity. Savoury earthy notes along with red cherries linger on the finish, with very good length. Casual, easy-drinking, and widely appealing style for BBQ fare. Score: 87 pts


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  • Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Wine Picks LCBO VINTAGES Release June 22, 2019: Australia + Loire vs. New World

LCBO Wine Picks: June 22, 2019 VINTAGES Release
The upcoming LCBO VINTAGES Release June 22, 2019 features wines from Australia in the main theme, while the mini-theme compares and contrasts wines from Loire and the New World. All of these wines, plus those from the main Release will be on VINTAGES shelves across Ontario by this Saturday.

We'll begin with the main theme that looks at the wide array of grape varieties (and wine styles) that are thriving in Australia. In all, there are seven grapes/styles, encompassing thirteen wines, of which five wines are included among my top wine picks from Australia. We all know about Australian Shiraz - two of which are included among my wine picks - but Australia also makes some fabulous Chardonnay, as well as off-dry Riesling wines. After Shiraz, the second most popular red grape varietal grown in Australia is Cabernet Sauvignon, with many fine examples to be found in Coonawarra.

Cape Barren Native Goose Shiraz 2016 (90 pts)Bibliotheque Travel Writing Shiraz 2015 (88 pts)

Oakridge Vineyard Series Henk Chardonnay 2017 (91 pts)Best’s Great Western Riesling 2017 (90 pts)

Penley Estate Phoenix Cabernet Sauvignon 2016 (89 pts)

The mini-theme compares the wines from Loire and their New World counterparts. The comparison looks at Chenin Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc, and Cabernet Franc in Loire and their New World examples. Of the six wines featured, three are included among my wine recommendations, and all three are lovely. First up are a pair of Sauvignon Blanc wines - one from Sancerre (Loire) and the other from New Zealand. Lastly, there is an excellent Chenin Blanc from South Africa.

Jean-Max Roger Cuvée Les Caillottes Sancerre 2017 (91 pts)Saint Clair Pioneer Block 20 Cash Block Sauvignon Blanc 2017 (90 pts)

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

From the rest of the release, my red wine picks include a 2015 Bordeaux red that consists of 80% Merlot, 12% Cabernet Sauvignon, 7% Malbec, and 1% Petit Verdot. Also from France, there is a lovely Châteauneuf-du-Pape that is made with 30% Grenache, 30% Mourvèdre, 15% Syrah, 10% Counoise, and 5% Cinsault. From Italy, the wine from Puglia is made with the indigenous Nero di Troia, while the Barbaresco is made with 100% Nebbiolo.

Château du Vieux Puit 2015 (88 pts)Enrico Serafino Barbaresco 2015 (90 pts)

Among my white wine picks, all are single varietal wines made from fairly common grape varietals. The lone wine that you may have not heard of is made with the Jacquère grape from Savoie. If you are looking for sweeter wines, the Gewurztraminer is off-dry (i.e. slightly sweet), while the Ontario Riesling is semi-dry (i.e. fairly sweet).

Domaine de l’Ldylle Jacquère Savoie 2017 (89 pts)l’Ostal Rosé 2018 (88 pts)

The rosé wines are all blends. The rosé from Midi is a 50/50 blend of Grenache and Syrah, while the rosé from Provence is a 50/50 blend of Grenache and Cinsault. And finally, the rosé from Ontario is a blend of 97% Pinot Noir and 3% Viognier.

Enjoy my wine recommendations from this Release! Cheers!

Red Wine:

  • BIBLIOTHEQUE TRAVEL WRITING SHIRAZ 2015 - McLaren Vale, South Australia (#668608) (XD) - $16.95  88 pts  wine review
  • CHÂTEAU DU VIEUX PUIT 2015 - AC Côtes de Bordeaux - Blaye, France (#630012) (XD) - $17.95  88 pts  wine review
  • MICHEL GASSIER LES PILIERS SYRAH 2016 - AC Costières de Nîmes, Rhône, France (#678086) (XD) - $17.95
  • SECRETO PATAGÓNICO MALBEC 2017 - Patagonia, Argentina (#635961) (XD) - $19.95  89 pts  wine review
  • PENLEY ESTATE PHOENIX CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2016 - Coonawarra, South Australia (#639575) (XD) - $19.95  89 pts  wine review
  • TORREVENTO CASTEL DEL MONTE VIGNA PEDALE RISERVA 2014 - DOCG, Puglia, Italy (#208256) (D) - $19.95  89 pts
  • CAPE BARREN NATIVE GOOSE SHIRAZ 2016 - McLaren Vale, South Australia (#668590) (XD) - $22.95  90 pts  wine review
  • ENRICO SERAFINO BARBARESCO 2015 - DOCG, Piedmont, Italy (#157347) (XD) - $29.95  90 pts  wine review
  • CHÂTEAU DE BEAUCASTEL CHÂTEAUNEUF-DU-PAPE 2016 - AC, Rhône, France (#711317) (XD) - $93.95
Secreto Patagónico Malbec 2017 (89 pts)

White Wine:

  • DOMAINE DE L’IDYLLE JACQUÈRE SAVOIE 2017 - AC, Savoie, France (#645333) (XD) - $16.95  89 pts  wine review
  • KEN FORRESTER OLD VINE RESERVE CHENIN BLANC 2017 - WO Stellenbosch, South Africa (#231282) (XD) - $17.95  90+ pts  wine review
  • PIERRE SPARR GRANDE RÉSERVE GEWURZTRAMINER 2017 - AC Alsace, France (#747600) (D) - $18.95
  • TIEFENBRUNNER PINOT GRIGIO 2018 - IGT Vigneti delle Dolomiti, Alto Adige, Italy (#474742) (XD) - $19.95
  • BEST’S GREAT WESTERN RIESLING 2017 - Great Western, Victoria, Australia (#688259) (D) - $19.95  90 pts  wine review
  • CASTELLO DELLA SALA BRAMÌTO CHARDONNAY 2017 - IGT Umbria, Italy (#176792) (XD) - $22.95
  • SAINT CLAIR PIONEER BLOCK 20 CASH BLOCK SAUVIGNON BLANC 2017 - Single Vineyard, Dillons Point, Marlborough, South Island, New Zealand (#483065) (XD) - $28.95  90 pts  wine review
  • OAKRIDGE VINEYARD SERIES HENK CHARDONNAY 2017 - Henk Vineyard, Yarra Valley, Victoria, Australia (#688242) (XD) - $29.95  91 pts  wine review
  • JEAN-MAX ROGER CUVÉE LES CAILLOTTES SANCERRE 2017 - AC, Loire, France (#065573) (XD) - $30.95  91 pts  wine review
  • CHARLES BAKER PICONE VINEYARD RIESLING 2016 - VQA Vinemount Ridge, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#241182) (M) - $37.20

Rosé Wine:

  • TYPIC CINSAULT/SYRAH ROSÉ 2018 - IGP Pays d'Oc, Languedoc, France (#668699) (XD) - $13.95  88 pts  wine review
  • L’OSTAL ROSÉ 2018 - IGP Pays d’Oc, Midi, France (#450809) (XD) - $15.95  88 pts  wine review
  • HIDDEN BENCH LOCUST LANE ROSÉ 2018 - VQA Beamsville Bench, Niagara Escarpment, Ontario, Canada (#068833) (XD) - $23.95
  • LÉOUBE LOVE ROSÉ 2018 - AP Côtes de Provence, France (#575282) (XD) - $24.95
Typic Cinsault/Syrah Rosé 2018 (88 pts)


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  • Sunday, June 16, 2019

Château du Vieux Puit 2015 (Bordeaux) - Wine Review

To celebrate , tonight's wine review is a nice red wine that will be coming to LCBO VINTAGES on .

It is produced by Jean-Pierre Bouillac, a 3rd generation vine grape nurseryman who followed his father's and grandfather's footsteps after being fascinated by grape varieties since childhood. In 1996, he decided to plant his own vineyard on a 5 hectare plot with Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon so that he could produce wine from his own property. This was the beginning of Château du Vieux Puit and Vignobles Bouillac.

The property is named "Vieux Puit" - which translated means "Old Well" - because of an historic well that is situated in the centre of the property. It is shaped like a shell, typical of the style found in the north of the Gironde estuary, and its origin dates back to the 16th century. An image of the old well adorns this bottle of Château du Vieux Puit.

Today, the family property has expanded to 80 hectares of vines in Blaye Côtes de Bordeaux. The Bouillac family also has considerable experience with vine nurseries in selecting the right grapes for any terroir, advising some very famous Bordeaux classified Grand Cru 1855 houses.

Château du Vieux Puit 2015 (88 pts)

Tasting Note:

CHÂTEAU DU VIEUX PUIT 2015 - AC Côtes de Bordeaux-Blaye, France (#630012) (XD) - $17.95
From a vineyard within the commune of St. Girons d'Aiguevives, a few kilometres east of Blaye, this is a blend of 80% Merlot, 12% Cabernet Sauvignon, 7% Malbec, and 1% Petit Verdot from vines that are 20+ years old. Fresh, medium intensity nose of currant, spice, and cocoa accented with herbal and olive notes. The medium-full bodied palate is lush with blackberry and spice flavours, along with hints of black plum, all supported by juicy acids. Structured tannins are somewhat chalky, but approachable. Dark berry and cocoa notes linger on the long finish. Enjoy over the next 5-7 years. Score: 88 pts


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  • Friday, June 14, 2019

Château d'Aigueville Côtes-du-Rhône Villages 2016 (France) - Wine Review (Bottle 2)

I enjoyed the 2016 Château d'Aigueville Côtes-du-Rhône Villages in , and I am delighted to open another bottle of the same vintage and see how it has evolved over the past year. Surprisingly, this vintage is still available for purchase at the LCBO and is currently on promotion -  earn 5 Air Miles reward miles .

It is produced by the Burgundian producer Henri de Villamont at their Château d'Aigueville property in southern Rhone. The estate is located on a plateau between the villages of Sérignan and Uchaux, just north of Orange. Moreover, the estate benefits from exceptional terroir that has a very large proportion of pebbles, similar to what you find in nearby Châteauneuf-du-Pape terroir.

This particular Villages wine comes from vines that are 30 years old and grown on the hills in Uchaux at 100 to 250 metres altitude. The soils consist of pebbles and siliceous or clay limestone, while the plots are separated from each other by garrigue and olive groves. As a Villages wine, it indicates a sense of place, which in turn is also an indication of terroir and quality. Let's see how this is tasting tonight...

Château d'Aigueville Côtes-du-Rhône Villages 2016 (88+ pts)

Tasting Note:

CHÂTEAU D'AIGUEVILLE CÔTES-DU-RHÔNE VILLAGES 2016 - AC, Rhône, France (#544031) (XD) - $16.90
A blend of 50% Grenache, 30% Syrah, and 10% Carignan. Generous aromas of fresh black cherry, dark berry, plum, black pepper, spice, and meaty notes from the glass. It is medium-full bodied on the juicy palate with chewy, dense tannins that are smooth and well-integrated. Quite stony on the flavour profile with blackberry and herbal notes. Becomes chalky on the mid-palate and finishes with stony, mocha, and pepper notes, with very good length. Approachable now. Enjoy over the next 5 years. Score: 88+ pts


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  • Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Rhône Wine Tour 2018 - Luberon and Ventoux (Day 1)

Domaine des Peyre (Luberon)
I had a wonderful opportunity to visit the southern Rhône Valley in May to focus on the brilliant white and rosé wines from the region. It was a 4-day trip with visits to wineries and meet with winemakers in Luberon, Ventoux, Cairanne, Costières de Nîmes, Lirac and Tavel AOCs.

After arriving at Marseille Provence Airport, we travelled about 1 hour north to Domaine des Peyre, a boutique winery and hotel in the Luberon AOC where we would be spending the night. Since Craig Pinhey and I had some time to relax while we waited for Daenna Van Mulligen to arrive before heading out for dinner, we tasted a few delicious wines while sitting and chatting on the patio, all the while observing our peaceful surroundings. We learned that some parts of this historic building were built in the 16th century. There was also a church (which was to host a wedding in a few days) that was originally built in the 9th century.

Domaine des Peyre (Luberon)

Anne Georget was our first guide for this trip, and she took us to dinner at La Bergerie, a casual-fine dining restaurant located on the hill village of Bonnieux that had an amazing view overlooking the valley below. The food was delicious, as we enjoyed some wine on the outdoor patio with truffle pizza (yes, I had truffles for the first time, and it wasn't too bad). It got a bit chilly, so we moved indoors and sat near the kitchen which had an open flame that was used for cooking meats and various other dishes, but also provided some much needed heat to warm the room. I opted for the delicious roasted chicken and capped my meal with a chocolate mousse. It was a great way to end the day, as we had a long (and busy) week ahead of us.

La BergerieLa Bergerie

Our covered the Luberon and Ventoux AOCs. The first stop was actually not too far from the restaurant we dined at the night before. Château la Canorgue is a family-owned and -operated winery in Luberon that is led by the father-daughter team of Jean-Pierre Margan and his daughter Nathalie. The family has been producing wine at this domain for 5 generations on a fascinating site that was built upon the remains of an ancient Roman villa. Château la Canorgue takes its name from the many ancient underground aqua tunnels that cross below the vineyards - we got to see one of these amazing water channels. Nine days prior to our visit, the winery experienced a very localized, disastrous 15-minute hail storm that left nearly 30 cm of ice/snow on the ground. However, it had completely melted by the time we arrived, leaving behind severely damaged vines that Nathalie said will likely need a couple of years to recover. Approximately 80% of their crop was lost due to this freak storm.

Château la Canorgue - Nathalie and Jean-Pierre MarganChâteau la Canorgue Vineyard

Château la Canorgue - Winemaking FacilityChâteau la Canorgue - Tank Room

After a brief walk among the vines, Nathalie took us inside their gravity-flow production facility that was added to their 17th century cellar which was once a silk factory at one point in its history. Château la Canorgue was the very first organic winery in the Luberon and has been producing wines using organic methods, and a few Biodynamic principles, since the 1970's. After tasting through some fine tank samples, we moved into the tasting room to try some of their latest whites and rosé wines. The domain's 40 hectares, most of which are terraced, are planted to traditional regional varietals with 25% of their production devoted to white wines, and 25% to rosés. Grapes for these wines are typically machine-harvested from 3 a.m. to 8 a.m., to keep the grapes cool and allowing for better control over the fermentation process. Vines average 40 years old, with some plots at 80 years old, and some even older at 100 years old. Tasting notes of a couple of my favourites wines tasted here and elsewhere on this day are provided below.

The second stop was Domaine de la Citadelle, a winery founded in 1990 by short-film producer Yves Rousset-Rouard when he purchased a old farmhouse with 8 ha of vines. It is located on the northern slope of Luberon, 35 km east of Avignon and the mouth of the Rhône and Durance rivers. Today, there are 50 ha of vines planted on mostly clay and limestone soils, along with some alluvial marl, griess, and gravel. Since it had been raining, we did not take a walk through the vineyards and proceeded directly to the upper level overlooking the production facility. Like the first winery, they also have a gravity-fed vinification process to gently move the wine through the various stages. It also recently became certified organic in 2016 and use horses to work the soil. 50% of their production is devoted to white (30%) and rosé (20%) wines. The three main ranges of wines in their portfolio are terroir-driven - La Châtaignier from sandy marl soils, the middle-tier Les Artèmes which come from primarily gravel and sandstone soils, and the higher-end Le Gouverneur range which come from their best terroirs and oldest vines. 2017 was a tough vintage due to a severe frost that affected nearly 15 ha of vines, followed by a very long drought with no rain for 6 months. Even with yields practically halved, the wines expressed their terroir with freshness and balance.

Domaine de la Citadelle - TanksDomaine de la Citadelle Rosé Wines

Domaine de la Citadelle White WinesDomaine de la Citadelle - Barrel Room

Lunch was at La Maison de la Truffe & du Vin, a fine-dining establishment that included truffle in each of their dishes. It was located in the Luberon mountains, in the hilltop village of Ménerbes overlooking the valley below. Considering that I had my first truffle the night before (and survived), I was less nervous about having truffles with each course. We enjoyed lunch with two wine producers, which definitely helped calm my nerves regarding the truffles.

Joining us for lunch was Winemaker Sylvain Morey from La Bastide du Claux, and Sabrina Fillod, Export Marketing Manager at Marrenon. Each winery brought four delicious wines to taste.

Sylvain Morey's roots are in Burgundy as he is a descendant of (Domaine) Albert Morey. He began La Bastide du Claux in 2002 to bring his Burgundian vision and winemaking craft to the rising Luberon AOC. Sylvain has a fragmented 15 ha vineyard that offers a rich combination of soils, climates and exposures, and tries to highlight its characteristics. Approximately one-third of all wines produced in Luberon are rosés. One of the interesting points that Sylvain mentioned was the fact that even though Luberon is part of the historical region of Provence, with similar terroir, they are not part of Provence AOC and, thus, cannot put "Provence" on the label. Given that rosé wines from Provence carry some weight and prestige, wineries in Luberon are at a somewhat disadvantage. Perhaps one day we will see the rules changed, but in the meantime we shall continue enjoying lovely the wines of Luberon, which are part of the Rhône AOC, and offer great value!

Sylvain Morey, La Bastide du ClauxMarrenon, Sabrina Fillod

Marrenon is a large cooperative consisting of 7 wineries and 650 winegrowers that was created in 1965. All 4,200 hectares of vineyards are based in the heart of a Regional Natural Park which is recognized as a natural biosphere reserve by UNESCO, and spread out along the mountain ranges of Luberon and Ventoux, ranging in altitude from 150 to 500 metres. With vineyards located in the South East Rhône Valley and in Provence, 50% of their production is devoted to rosé wines and 20% to white wines. They were also the first producer to grow Vermentino (Rolle) in France. They are committed to the environment and sustainability, and all of the work is controlled and approved by Agri-Confiance Certification which, among other things, includes respecting nature and environment, fair income for the producers, and vine-to-glass traceability. There are 3 ranges of wines - Classique, Altitude, and Exclusive Single Estate wines. All of the wines we tasted during lunch were from their Single Estate line, and were delicious!

La Maison de la Truffe & du Vin

After lunch, we visited Domaine de Fondrèche, a family-owned winery that was founded by Nanou Barthelémy when she purchased the property in 1993. Her son, Sébastien Vincenti, joined the business a few years later after spending some time in Châteauneuf-du-Pape. They have 38 ha of organically cultivated vineyards, 10 ha of which are dedicated to producing terroir-driven rosé wines from sandy soils and white wines from clay and limestone soils. As Sébastien took us through the wines and gave us a tour of the winery, it was obvious that he was very passionate about wine and the winemaking process. The winery was built to favour the use of gravity, including having the press sit a few metres above ground, thus allowing the juice to escape through a hole at the bottom of the press with the assistance of gravity. It is interesting to note that Sébastien does not use any sulphites during pressing. Domaine de Fondrèche produces three lines of wines, and I was most impressed with their middle-tier Persia line that come from their older vines.

Sébastien Vincenti, Domaine de Fondrèche

Domaine de Fondrèche - Concrete Eggs and Oak BarrelsDomaine de Fondrèche

The final stop of the day was at Château Pesquié, an estate winery owned by a family that is passionate about the Ventoux region and recognized its potential. Odette & René Bastide purchased the property that is located at the foot of the Ventoux Mountain in the early 1970's and became pioneers of AOC Côtes du Ventoux. Even though vines had been cultivated in this region for more than a thousand years, the AOC was only created in 1973. In the mid-1980's, their daughter Edith and her husband Paul Chaudière joined the business. In 1989, the family stopped selling their grapes to the local cooperative and formed their own cellars. In 2003, Paul and Edith's two sons, Alexandre and Frédéric, took over the Domaine and continue the family tradition of producing terrific wines that harness the outstanding Ventoux terroir. We had the pleasure of meeting Alexandre, who through three generations of winemakers in the family have always tried to be agriculturally sustainable and responsible, mentioned that they hope to be certified biodynamic in 2019. Château Pesquié has one of the coolest micro-climates in the south of the Rhône Valley, thanks to slightly higher elevations and mountain influence, while also having great mineral diversity, but predominantly limestone. They have a fabulous visitor centre with impressive displays showcasing their terroir, among other things. The wines are also tasty! Château Pesquié is definitely a place to visit if you're in the area.

Château Pesquié

Château Pesquié

The evening was capped off with a gourmet dinner and a quiet night at the lovely Château de Mazan Hotel that is housed in an 18th century mansion located in the centre of the town of Mazan, nestled at the foot of Mont Ventoux.

Château de MazanChâteau Unang Ventoux Blanc 2017

Château de MazanChâteau de Mazan

This post is just the first in the series. A visit to the Cairanne AOC is next on the itinerary, and reviews from my trip to the other Rhône AOCs will be posted in the coming days.

Tasting Notes:

Domaine des Peyre Paparazzi 2017 (87 pts)

DOMAINE DES PEYRE PAPARAZZI 2017 - AP Ventoux, Rhône, France (XD) - 11.5 €
Mostly Grenache, with Syrah, Cinsault, and Mourvèdre completing the blend. Medium+ intensity nose is fresh with herbal, garrigue, stone fruit and peach aromas. Medium-bodied palate is delicate with herbally and stone fruit flavours, and a vague impression of sweetness. Clean and balanced, some saline mid-palate. Very good finish length. Score: 87 pts

Agent: DB Wine & Spirits (ON)

CHÂTEAU LA CANORGUE LUBERON ROSÉ 2017 - AC, Rhône, France (XD) - 9.50 €
Majority Grenache, with Syrah and Mourvèdre completing the blend. Medium+ intensity nose has herbally, raspberry, and currant aromas. Red berry flavours of raspberry, red currant and strawberry on the medium-bodied, dry palate lifted by fresh acidity. Fine, crisp finish. Score: 88 pts

Château la Canorgue Luberon Rosé 2017 (88 pts)Château la Canorgue Luberon Blanc 2017 (90 pts)

CHÂTEAU LA CANORGUE LUBERON BLANC 2017 - AC, Rhône, France (XD) - 10.50 €
Co-fermented and equal parts Roussanne, Marsanne, Clairette, Grenache, Bourbeblanc, and Vermentino. Lovely citrus and exotic fruits with plenty of minerality on the nose and flavour profile. The medium+ bodied palate is structured and has a creamy texture with a nice mineral, mid-palate supported by fresh acids. Nicely balanced overall, dry. Floral and fruit on the long finish. Score: 90 pts

Agent: N/A

DOMAINE DE LA CITADELLE LES ATÈRMES ROSÉ 2017 - AOP Luberon, Rhône, France (XD) - 12 €
Vines located 300 m above sea level. 80% Mourvèdre. Subtle raspberry, earth, and mineral aromas. Medium-bodied with crisp acids, rounded mouthfeel and nice aroma replays in a dry style. Structured, spicy, nice clean finish. Enjoy over the next 3-4 years. Score: 88+ pts

Domaine de la Citadelle Les Atèrmes Rosé 2017 (88+ pts)Domaine de la Citadelle Le Châtaignier Blanc 2017 (88+ pts)

DOMAINE DE LA CITADELLE LE CHÂTAIGNIER BLANC 2017 - AOP Luberon, Rhône, France (XD) - 8.50 €
Blend of Clairette, Grenache Blanc, and Marsanne. Subtle stony mineral and herbal aromas continue on the medium-bodied palate, joined by some lemon/lime flavours. Clean acids offer a crisp mouthfeel. Very good length on the fresh finish. Score: 88+ pts

Agent: Balthazard (QC)

BASTIDE DU CLAUX L'ODALISQUE 2016 - AOC Luberon, Rhône, France (XD)
40% Grenache Blanc blended with equal parts Vermentino and Viognier, all spending some time in oak barrels. Medium-high intensity nose with stone fruit and lemon oil notes. It's medium+ bodied on the smoky, structured palate with lemony acids and flavours. Buttery, baked apple notes linger on the long finish. Score: 89 pts

Bastide du Claux l'Odalisque 2016 (89 pts)Bastide du Claux Barraban 2009 (91 pts)

BASTIDE DU CLAUX BARRABAN 2009 - AOC Luberon, Rhône, France (XD)
40% Grenache Blanc, the rest equal parts Vermentino, Clairette, and Ugni Blanc. Pours a deep gold colour, this has medium-high intensity waxy, lanolin, floral, and herbally aromas, all which comes through nicely on the medium-bodied, dry, spicy palate. Nicely textured with balanced acidity. Drinking well now, but could age another 5-7 years. Score: 91 pts

Agent: N/A

MARRENON PETULA 2017 - AOC Luberon, Rhône, France (XD)
Syrah and Grenache Noir. Pretty raspberry, strawberry aromas are open and fragrant with fine minerality. It's medium-bodied, crisp, and clean on the subtly spicy palate with nice, balanced acids and herbally aroma replays. Long with some structure on the finish. Score: 89 pts

Marrenon Petula 2017 (89 pts)Marrenon Grand Marrenon Blanc 2017 (90 pts)

MARRENON GRAND MARRENON BLANC 2017 - AOC Luberon, Rhône, France (XD)
Equal parts Grenache Blanc and Vermentino, and 10% Roussanne. Elegant, medium-high intensity nose shows finesse with ripe, balanced yellow fruit, white flowers, mineral and barrel-aged oak nuances. It's light-to-medium bodied on the nicely balanced palate with pleasing aroma replays supported by vibrant acids. Clean lime and mineral notes, touch bitter on the long finish. Score: 90 pts

Agent: Von Terra (ON)

DOMAINE DE FONDRÈCHE PERSIA ROSÉ 2017 - AOP Ventoux, Rhône, France (XD) - 20 €
Half Mourvèdre, the rest equal parts Grenache and Syrah. Medium-intensity nose has herbally, spicy, currant, floral, and raspberry aromas. Juicy, fresh acids support the medium-bodied, spiced palate with curranty aroma replays. Spiced finish with very good length. Score: 88 pts

Domaine de Fondrèche Persia Rosé 2017 (88 pts)Domaine de Fondrèche Persia Blanc 2017 (89 pts)

DOMAINE DE FONDRÈCHE PERSIA BLANC 2017 - AOP Ventoux, Rhône, France (XD) - 20 €
Roussanne from 30-40 year old vines, the nose is reserved with lime citrus and herbs, and hints of hay and white stone fruit. The medium-bodied palate is ripe, rounded with very good acidity. White peach, melon, and some herbal, fennel flavours. Nicely textured on the mid-palate through to the finish, with very good length. Score: 89 pts

Agent: Sens.i (QC)

CHÂTEAU PESQUIÉ TERRASSES ROSÉ 2017 - AOP Ventoux, Rhône, France (XD) - 11 €
50% Cinsault, 40% Grenache, and 10% Syrah. Shy nose has raspberry, red berry and citrus aromas. Structured, medium-bodied palate has more raspberry and citrus notes with hints of floral. Fresh, juicy acids support the crunchy fruit. Clean, lemony notes on the long finish. Score: 88 pts

Château Pesquié Terrasses Rosé 2017 (88 pts)Château Pesquié Quintessence Blanc 2016 (89 pts)

CHÂTEAU PESQUIÉ QUINTESSENCE BLANC 2016 - AOC Ventoux, Rhône, France (XD) - 16 €
Blend of 80% Roussanne (barrel-fermented) and 20% Clairette, with trace amounts of Viognier, and then blended and aged in concrete tanks. Subtle aromas offer wood-influenced herbal, white peach, and hints of citrus, all which come through on the medium-bodied palate. Fresh, balanced acids provide lift. Nicely textured with crunchy fruit, and very good length on the finish. Score: 89 pts

Agent: The Vine Agency (ON), Sélections Oeno (QC)


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