First image of this post
  • Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Southbrook Estate Grown Small Lot Wild Ferment Chardonnay 2013 (Niagara) - Wine Review (Bottle 2)



I first enjoyed the organic, biodynamic and vegan-friendly 2013 Southbrook Estate Grown Small Lot Wild Ferment Chardonnay back in 2015 and mentioned at the time that it should improve in a couple of years, so I am opening the 2nd bottle, 4 years later, to see how it has evolved.

Southbrook Vineyards, a family-owned winery based in Niagara-on-the-Lake, is a leader in Ontario in organic and biodynamic viticulture. They have great respect for the soil, water and ecosystems upon which great wine, and our planet, relies. Southbrook was founded in Niagara by Bill Redelmeier in 1991 after much success with their farm just north of Toronto. In 2008, half of their 150 acre property became certified organic, while today 100% of the estate property is certified organic, as well as biodynamic. Also in 2008, Southbrook was the first winery building to receive Gold Level LEED status.

This white wine was crafted by renowned winemaker Ann Sperling, who has been Southbrook's consultant winemaker since 2005. Using exclusively estate fruit, only 6 barrels (180 cases) of this wild fermented Chardonnay were produced. It spent 20 months in French oak barrels (50% new).

Of course, the 2013 is no longer available for purchase. However, the 2017 Southbrook Wild Ferment Chardonnay that I loved last December is still available at the winery and through their online web store.

Southbrook Estate Grown Small Lot Wild Ferment Chardonnay 2013 (91 pts)

Tasting Note:

SOUTHBROOK ESTATE GROWN SMALL LOT WILD FERMENT CHARDONNAY 2013 - VQA Four Mile Creek, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $34.95
Highly aromatic nose offers mature, slightly oxidized and complex notes of buttery, baked apple, pear and vanilla with touches of hazelnut, smoke and mushroom that become more prominent with air. It is medium bodied with lovely hazelnut, baked apple, and pear flavours mingling with vanilla and hints of butter on the palate. Some saline mineral notes arrive on the juicy mid-palate. Acids are still quite lively and fresh. Finishes long and succulent with more smoke, mushroom, nutty, and baked apple notes. Should continue to drink well over the next 2-3 years. Score: 91 pts


First image of this post
  • Saturday, October 26, 2019

Chronic Cellars Purple Paradise 2017 (California) - Wine Review

Want something for your Halloween party? You might want to look at tonight's red wine review that is sure to please your guests with it's Halloween-themed label. It just arrived at the LCBO and is widely available across Ontario, just in time for Halloween festivities.

It is produced by Chronic Cellars, a California winery that came together in 2004 when brothers Josh and Jake Beckett combined their winemaking skills with their wit and humour to turn an idea into reality using two tons of the best – or 'chronic' – grapes to make killer wine.

The Beckett brothers grew up in a wine family in Paso Robles and helped by washing barrels, punching down fermenting grapes, and working the bottling line. It was only natural that one day they would make their own wine.

Chronic Cellars' philosophy is to use the best, or 'chronic', grapes to make seriously good wine for people who don’t take themselves too seriously. They have partnered with neighbours and friends in Paso Robles to build an network of growers, allowing Josh to select the grapes he wants for all of his custom, intriguing blends, including this Purple Paradise. The labels are created by Joe Kalionzes, a childhood friend and artist whose style and graphic linocuts perfectly capture their double-take vision for the brand.

While the label of this wine and it's well-timed arrival in Ontario evokes images of Halloween, the vision for Purple Paradise actually appeared when they were in their own paradise - Mexico. Purple represents the juice, while Paradise represents how you feel when drinking it. Sit back, relax, and float away to your own paradise.

Chronic Cellars Purple Paradise 2017 (85 pts)

Tasting Note:

CHRONIC CELLARS PURPLE PARADISE 2017 - Paso Robles, California, USA (#012011) (D) - $21.95
This blend of 78% Zinfandel, 9% Petite Sirah, 7% Syrah, and 6% Grenache has a fresh, aromatic nose of cherries, spice, strawberry, and a touch brambly, surrounded by vanilla and cocoa notes. The full-bodied palate is confected with sweet spice and vanilla, followed by blueberry, cherry, and strawberry flavours. Acids are fresh and balanced, while tannins are supple with a touch of textural grip. Good length on the finish with sweet vanillin oak and some earthy characters. Crafted for mass appeal. Score: 85 pts


First image of this post
  • Wednesday, October 23, 2019

M. Chapoutier Domaine de Bila-Haut L'Esquerda 2018 (Roussillon) - Wine Review

wine review is this lovely red wine from the highly-acclaimed house of M. Chapoutier. While this is the 2018 vintage, the 2017 vintage will arrive on shelves at the LCBO as part of the LCBO VINTAGES Release.

The story of M. Chapoutier begins in 1808, when Calvet et Compagnie was created in the Rue de l’Hermitage in Tain. In 1855, ownership was transferred to Octave Calvet and Frédéric Vogelgesang until it was purchased by Rodolphe Delépine in 1883. The Chapoutier name enters in 1897, when Marius Chapoutier joined forces with Rodolphe Delépine to found the company Delépine et Chapoutier. After Delépine retires in 1922, the company is renamed to Chapoutier et Compagnie and Marius creates the new Chapoutier winery in 1929 at the foot of the Hermitage hill. After Marius' death in 1937, his son Marc takes over the family business and in 1955 changes the name to M. Chapoutier, the name it still bears today.

In 1990, winemaker Michel Chapoutier asked for and received control of the company from his grandfather Marc. At this time, he also began applying biodynamic cultivation techniques. Expanding from the Rhône Valley, Michel acquired his first estate in the Roussillon area of France in 2000.

Domaine de Bila-Haut was founded by Chapoutier in Latour-de-France and the vines of the Bila-Haut and Occultum Lapidem wines became the first expression of this terroir. Years later, the L’Esquerda red wine was created from vines near the village of Lesquerde, which is located at 350 metres altitude some 15 kilometres west of Bila-Haut. The terroir here is steep with craggy limestone, arid soil, and is battered by the Tramontane northern winds.

Michel Chapoutier has earned a reputation for producing wines that are highly representative of where they are grown - offering a true snapshot of the terroir. He is also known for being a generous person with a human approach to business, becoming the first in the industry to include braille on all of his product labels in 1996.

Today, Michel and his wife Corinne are joined by their children Mathilde and Maxime - whose names by no coincidence also start with 'M'. Together, they continue to perpetuate the tradition of the family business and philosophy by creating wines based on the concept of 'terroir', while also helping make M. Chapoutier one of the most admired brand names in French wine.

M. Chapoutier Domaine de Bila-Haut L'Esquerda 2018 (92 pts)

Tasting Note:

DOMAINE DE BILA-HAUT L'ESQUERDA 2018 - AC Côtes du Roussillon-Villages Lesquerde, Midi, France (#381020) (XD) - $27.95
This blend of mainly Syrah with Grenache and Carignan in support was aged in concrete vats for 7-8 months has a complex stream of wild dark berry, plum and garrigue aromas accented by meaty, spice, mineral, earthy, and floral characters wafting out of the glass. It is full bodied, dense, and chewy with ripe, structured, and finely-grained tannins that are a bit chalky textured. Scorched earth and touches of herbal notes join the fine aroma replays on the flavour profile, lifted by fresh, mouthwatering acidity. Mineral and scorched earth notes linger on the juicy finish, with excellent length. Has the stuffing to drink well over the next 7-8 years. Highly recommended buy. Score: 92 pts


First image of this post
  • Wednesday, October 23, 2019

October 26, 2019 LCBO VINTAGES Release Wine Picks: France vs. Italy + Wine & Cheese

LCBO Wine Picks: October 26, 2019 VINTAGES Release
The October 26, 2019 LCBO VINTAGES Release compares and contrasts France and Italy in its main theme, while the mini-theme looks at wine and cheese pairings. All of the wines featured as part of themes, as well everything else from the Main Release will arrive on shelves by Saturday. This is another Release where you'll want to stock up for the holidays or pick up special bottles for holiday gift-giving.

We'll begin with the main theme that compares wines from the two titans of the wine world - France and Italy. There are twenty-two wines featured as part of this theme, eleven from each country, and seven are included among my top wine picks. From the first category on Traditional Method sparkling wines, we have a lovely Bollinger Champagne that consists of 60% Pinot Noir, 25% Chardonnay, and 15% Pinot Meunier. From the Classic Premium Grape category, there is a fine Barolo that is made with the Nebbiolo grape. The Southern Values category features a nice Côtes du Rhône that consists of equal parts Syrah and Grenache, plus some Mourvèdre. Pinot Gris and Pinot Grigio wines are actually made using the same grape, but often in different styles, hence the distinction in name. In this Release, there is a fine, dry, quality Pinot Grigio from a place it calls home in northern Italy. The last category focuses on the Revered Regions of Bordeaux and Tuscany. From Bordeaux, we have a Saint-Émilion Grand Cru that is a blend of roughly 80% Merlot, 15% Cabernet Franc, and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon. Tuscany also makes some fine Bordeaux blends, such as the baby Ornellaia that consists of 54% Merlot, 26% Cabernet Sauvignon, 14% Cabernet Franc, and 6% Petit Verdot. Lastly, the Chianti Classico, which is also from Tuscany, is made with 100% Sangiovese and reminds me a little bit of a wine from Montalcino.

Le Serre Nuove Dell'Ornellaia 2017 (92 pts)Castello di Bossi C. Berardenga Chianti Classico 2015 (91 pts)

Xavier Vignon Côtes du Rhône 2017 (89 pts)

From the feature on wine and cheese pairings, which can be done year-round but becomes especially popular during the holidays. Of the nine wines featured, just one is included among my top wine picks - a lightly oaked Chardonnay from Niagara's Thirty Bench. There is also an excellent Masi Amarone (#548677) included as part of this theme, but I didn't include it in my list below because you would have probably bought it when it came out in VINTAGES last year. You can read more about wine and cheese pairings in the magazine.

My red wine picks include an unoaked blend of 75% Grenache, 20% Syrah, and 5% Carignan from Languedoc, while the Spanish red is a blend of Garnacha, Cariñena (Samsó), Syrah, and Merlot. From France, the Beaujolais is made with Gamay, while the Roussillon red is a blend of mainly Syrah with Grenache and Carignan in support. Lastly, the iconic Sassicaia is a blend of 85% Cabernet Sauvignon and 15% Cabernet Franc.

Most of my white wine recommendations happen to be minimally oaked Chardonnays. However, Flat Rock's Unplugged Chardonnay is actually an unoaked Chardonnay, while the Umbrian white is a blend of mostly Chardonnay and some Grechetto. There is also a white blend of Loureiro and Alvarinho from Portugal.

Maria Papoila Loureiro/Alvarinho 2018 (88 pts)

Among my sparkling wine picks, the Tasmanian Brut Rosé is primarily Pinot Noir, with Chardonnay and Pinot Meunier completing the blend, while the Cava is a blend of indigenous varietals Macabeo (67%) and Parellada (33%). Lastly, the Dom Perignon is a traditional blend of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.

Jansz Premium Sparkling Rosé (90+ pts)Segura Viudas Heredad Reserva Brut Cava (90 pts)

Enjoy my top wine recommendations from this Release! Cheers!

Red Wine:

  • LES DARONS 2017 - AP Languedoc, France (#448464) (XD) - $16.95
  • XAVIER VIGNON CÔTES DU RHÔNE 2017 - AP, France (#297317) (XD) - $16.95  89 pts  wine review
  • VAUCHER PÈRE & FILS FLEURIE 2016 - AC, Beaujolais, France (#534339) (XD) - $16.95
  • CHÂTEAU LAMARTINE PRESTIGE DU MALBEC 2015 - AP Cahors, Southwest, France (#010315) (XD) - $17.95
  • POTENTE 2016 - DO Montsant, Spain (#010682) (XD) - $18.95
  • PETER LEHMANN THE BAROSSAN SHIRAZ 2017 - Barossa Valley, South Australia (#522235) (XD) - $21.95  89 pts  wine review
  • CASTELLO DI BOSSI C. BERARDENGA CHIANTI CLASSICO 2015 - DOCG, Tuscany, Italy (#994608) (XD) - $22.95  91 pts  wine review

  • TINTO NEGRO FINCA LA ESCUELA LA PIEDRA MALBEC 2016 - Mendoza, Argentina (#010443) (XD) - $24.95  90 pts  wine review
  • DOMAINE DE BILA-HAUT L’ESQUERDA 2017 - AC Côtes du Roussillon-Villages Lesquerde, Midi, France (#381020) (XD) - $27.95
  • CHÂTEAU DE SAINT-PEY 2016 - AC Saint-Émilion Grand Cru, Bordeaux, France (#011834) (XD) - $34.95
  • BENI DI BATASIOLO RISERVA BAROLO 2010 - DOCG, Piedmont, Italy (#330704) (XD) - $39.95
  • ANTINORI BADIA A PASSIGNANO GRAN SELEZIONE CHIANTI CLASSICO 2015 - DOCG, Tuscany, Italy (#384552) (XD) - $49.95  92 pts  wine review
  • LE SERRE NUOVE DELL'ORNELLAIA 2017 - DOC Bolgheri Rosso, Tuscany, Italy (#606194) (XD) - $69.95  92 pts  wine review
  • SASSICAIA 2016 - DOC Bolgheri-Sassicaia, Tuscany, Italy (#480533) (XD) - $229.95
Antinori Badia A Passignano Gran Selezione Chianti Classico 2015 (92 pts)Tinto Negro Finca La Escuela La Piedra Malbec 2016 (90 pts)

Peter Lehmann The Barossan Shiraz 2017 (89 pts)

White Wine:

  • MARIA PAPOILA LOUREIRO/ALVARINHO 2018 - DOC Vinho Verde, Portugal (#408146) (XD) - $16.95  88 pts  wine review
  • FLAT ROCK UNPLUGGED CHARDONNAY 2018 - VQA Twenty Mile Bench, Niagara Escarpment, Ontario, Canada (#068015) (XD) - $17.95
  • ZUCCARDI Q CHARDONNAY 2017 - Tupungato, Uco Valley, Mendoza, Argentina (#232702) (XD) - $19.95
  • THIRTY BENCH WINEMAKER’S BLEND CHARDONNAY 2017 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#547877) (XD) - $19.95
  • NALS MARGREID PINOT GRIGIO 2017 - DOC Südtirol-Alto Adige, Italy (#290924) (XD) - $19.95
  • CAMPBELL KIND WINE SAUVIGNON BLANC 2018 - Marlborough, South Island, New Zealand (#010556) (XD) - $19.95
  • HENRI BOURGEOIS LA CHAPELLE DES AUGUSTINS SANCERRE 2016 - AC, Loire, France (#322628) (XD) - $39.95
  • BACHELDER WISMER VINEYARD #1 WINGFIELD BLOCK CHARDONNAY 2015 - VQA Twenty Mile Bench, Niagara Escarpment, Ontario, Canada (#520403) (XD) - $47.95  FE
  • HAMILTON RUSSELL CHARDONNAY 2018 - WO Hemel-en-Aarde Valley, Walker Bay, South Africa (#931006) (XD) - $47.95  FE
  • CASTELLO DELLA SALA CERVARO DELLA SALA 2017 - IGT Umbria, Italy (#512376) (XD) - $74.95

Sparkling Wine:

  • JANSZ PREMIUM SPARKLING ROSÉ - Traditional method, Tasmania, Australia (#037499) (D) - $28.95  90+ pts  wine review
  • SEGURA VIUDAS HEREDAD RESERVA BRUT CAVA - Traditional method, DO, Spain (#558825) (D) - $32.95  90 pts  wine review
  • BOLLINGER SPECIAL CUVÉE BRUT CHAMPAGNE - AC, France (#384529) (XD) - $87.95
  • DOM PÉRIGNON LUMINOUS BRUT CHAMPAGNE 2008 - AC, France (#422584) (D) - $285.95  FE


First image of this post
  • Sunday, October 20, 2019

Tinto Negro Finca La Escuela La Piedra Malbec 2016 (Argentina) - Wine Review

wine review is this lovely red wine from Argentina that will be coming to LCBO VINTAGES on . It is also featured as the Wine of the Month in this Release and will be widely available across Ontario.

It is produced by TintoNegro, meaning black wine in Spanish meant to celebrate the essence of the Malbec grape - which is known for its dark, blackish colour. TintoNegro was born out of a long-time friendship and professional collaboration between Alejandro Sejanovich and Jeff Mausbach, colleagues at Bodega Catena Zapata for almost 15 years. In 2013, Jorge Crotta, who was also at Catena Zapata for several years, joined the partnership and is involved with the management and winemaking team.

The TintoNegro portfolio explores the terroirs of Mendoza where Mablec thrives, gradually isolating unique vineyard sites and winemaking techniques which can showcase the heights of concentration and complexity to which Malbec can aspire. In order to showcase the unique profile of each soil, TintoNegro has created a line of four single soil wines from Paraje Altamira in the southern part of the Uco Valley. Each harvest is vinified and aged in the exact same method, thus highlighting how a difference of soil (or terroir) can create a completely different wine. This La Piedra Malbec from their La Escuela property is one of the four wines. One day, I hope to have the opportunity to try their entire line.

La Escuela is a small 7.5 hectare estate vineyard located in Paraje Altamira at 4,000 feet above sea level, at the foot of the Andes mountains. It is named after the still active rural school (Escuela) that is located on the property. La Escuela has a diverse soil profile with plots of sandy (arena), silty (limo), rocky (piedra), and gravelly (grava) soils.

This particular wine comes from a small patch of rocky, limestone driven soil that is located in the middle of the vineyard, hence its name La Piedra, which also means stone in Spanish. These white stone soils with limestone deposits produce help produce a complex, spicy Malbec with black fruit flavors and minerality.

Tinto Negro Finca La Escuela La Piedra Malbec 2016 (90 pts)

Tasting Note:

TINTO NEGRO FINCA LA ESCUELA LA PIEDRA MALBEC 2016 - Paraje Altamira, Uco Valley, Mendoza, Argentina (#010443) (XD) - $24.95
This has a fresh, medium+ intensity nose of blackberry, dark berry, and stony mineral notes with some spicy characters. It is medium+ bodied with ripe blackberry, mulberry, stony mineral flavours with touches of vanillin oak spice and floral. There is fresh, juicy acids, while ripe tannins are supple and smooth. Nice white pepper spice on the mid-palate, while the finish is long with lovely stony mineral, smoky, and dark berry notes. A wonderful wine to enjoy over the next 5-6 years. Score: 90 pts


First image of this post
  • Friday, October 18, 2019

Castello di Bossi C. Berardenga Chianti Classico 2015 (Tuscany) - Wine Review

wine review is featured as the Wine of the Month from the upcoming LCBO VINTAGES Release and will be on shelves across Ontario by next weekend.

Bacci Wines is the producer, and they make this fine red at their Castello di Bossi estate which is located in the southern area of the Chianti Classico zone within the commune of Castelnuovo Berardenga, in the province of Siena in Tuscany, approxaimtely 50 kilometres southeast of Florence and 14 kilometres east of Siena. This area tends to produce wines that are fuller and more structured than those from the rest of Chianti Classico, closely resembling those of Montalcino.

The name "Bossi" is apparently linked to a money chest, referred to as boxwood, which was made from a rare and prized type of wood that the Roman army would carry to its encampments to pay its soldiers. Local inscriptions on the site indicate that it was a Roman settlement as far back as the 1st century AD. In the 9th century, a noble family called the dei Berardenghi settled there and enjoyed a lengthy rule over the territories they owned, eventually withdrawing into private life and donating most of their landholdings to a church. However, they kept the property which today surrounds the castle.

At the centre of the estate is Bossi Castle. The first tower was built around the year 1099 and shows the area's early strategic importance. Around 1450, it was expanded into the 4-walled fortress that visitors can see today.

Castello di Bossi has changed hands many times over the years, and was in a slow decline until it was acquired by the Bacci family sometime after World War II. Today, the estate covers 650 hectares, of which 124 hectares are planted with vines. By employing modern viticultural practices, Castello di Bossi aims to harvest the best quality fruit year after year in order to express the best qualities of the terroir and individual grape varieties.

This red wine is made with 100% Sangiovese from soils that contain yellow clay, tuff, gravel and broken rocks, located in a vineyard 350 metres above sea level with southwest exposure. The average age of the vines is 18 years and is manually harvested.

Castello di Bossi C. Berardenga Chianti Classico 2015 (91 pts)

Tasting Note:

CASTELLO DI BOSSI C. BERARDENGA CHIANTI CLASSICO 2015 - DOCG, Tuscany, Italy (#994608) (XD) - $22.95
100% Sangiovese that spent 6 months in oak casks. Fragrant, perfumed nose of spice, red cherry, clove and incense aromas. It is medium-full bodied and quite savoury on the palate with red cherries, chocolate, spice and some stony mineral flavours. Acids are fresh and mouthwatering while textured tannins are a touch on the grippy side. Clean, savoury, stony mineral and red cherry notes linger on the long, succulent finish. Highly recommended wine to enjoy over the next 3-4 years. Score: 91 pts


First image of this post
  • Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Cave de Roquebrun Roches Noires 2016 (Languedoc) - Wine Review

wine review is a lovely red wine from Languedoc that was featured in the LCBO VINTAGES Release and should be arriving on shelves across Ontario within a week or so.

It is produced by the co-operative cellar Cave de Roquebrun that was established in 1967 in the regional park of Haut Languedoc, 30 km northwest of Béziers and between the two regional capitals, Montpellier and Toulouse.

In Roquebrun, the mild climate with relatively arid and acidic soils combined with shale/schist allow different varietals to develop in a particular way in the appellation of Saint-Chinian. The winegrowers of Cave de Roquebrun produce mainly Syrah, Grenache Noir, Mourvèdre, Carignan, Roussanne, Viognier and Grenache Blanc with aim of enhancing the character of their terroir. Through this commitment, the Saint-Chinian-Roquebrun appellation was created in 2004 and subsequently became recognized as a Cru of Languedoc. Cave de Roquebrun manually harvests the grapes for all of their wines by choice. However, according to the decree of 2004, it is noteworthy to know that all Saint-Chinian-Roquebrun appellation wines must be manually harvested.

Cave de Roquebrun Roches Noires 2016 (90+ pts)

Tasting Note:

CAVE DE ROQUEBRUN ROCHES NOIRES 2016 - AC Saint-Chinian-Roquebrun, Languedoc, France (#251637) (XD) - $22.95
A blend of 60% Syrah, 20% Grenache, and 20% Mourvedre that was manually harvested from the schist hills of Roquebrun and raised entirely in stainless steel tanks. The medium-high intensity nose delivers enticing aromas of blackberry, schist mineral, and spice layered on top of black pepper and meaty notes. It is medium-full bodied with nicely balanced wild berry, schist mineral, garrigue, black pepper spice, and meaty flavours. Acids are very fresh, while the juicy finish is long, meaty and peppery. Youthful tannins are chalky and quite tight at the moment. Enjoyable now with protein, but will be even better after 2-3 years of tannin integration. Drink into the mid-20's. Score: 90+ pts


First image of this post
  • Sunday, October 13, 2019

Ringbolt Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 (Australia) - Wine Review

My wine review for Thanksgiving is this Margaret River Cabernet Sauvignon from Australia.

This red wine was purchased from an LCBO VINTAGES Release nearly 10 years ago to the day, back in . Of course, the 2007 vintage of this wine is no longer available for purchase, but since it is listed as a VINTAGES Essential at the LCBO, a newer vintage of the Ringbolt Cabernet Sauvignon is always available in the VINTAGES section at your local LCBO outlet. It is interesting to note that while my 2007 bottling was enclosed by cork, newer vintages of this wine, like many Australian wines these days, are enclosed by screw cap.

Margaret River is known for producing highly acclaimed Cabernet Sauvignon wines. The region is surrounded by forest, farmland, sea, enjoying the attributes of the mild maritime climate, rich soil, and fresh winds from both the Indian and Southern Oceans. The vineyards of Margaret River are planted primarily on gravel loam soils, which combine with summer sea breezes and temperature conditions during ripening that allow the grapes to develop complex varietal characters, elegance, and strength. At 12 years from vintage, let's see how this Margaret River Cabernet Sauvignon is tasting tonight...

Ringbolt Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 (89 pts)

Tasting Note:

RINGBOLT CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2007 - Margaret River, Western Australia (#606624) (XD) - $19.95
Medium intensity nose has olive, green pepper, tobacco, new leather, sandalwood, and whiffs of cassis liqueur characters. It is medium-full bodied with smooth, mature, and fully resolved tannins that offer just a touch of textural grippiness. Composed earthy and savoury flavours with sandalwood spice, forest floor, green pepper, and dark berry notes with hints of tobacco. Acids are still quite juicy, while the mid-palate is a touch warming. Very good length on the long, earthy-savoury finish accented by green pepper notes. Has aged quite well. Drink soon. Score: 89 pts


First image of this post
  • Friday, October 11, 2019

Rioja Bordón Reserva 2012 (Spain) - Wine Review

The recent parade of Spanish Rioja wine reviews continues with wine that just arrived at the LCBO as part of this Saturday's LCBO VINTAGES Release and was also featured as part of the theme on Rioja wines.

It is produced by Bodegas Franco-Españolas and reminds me of the time almost to the day, when I had the pleasure of attending a fine vertical tasting of their Rioja Bordón Gran Reserva wines ranging in vintage from 1982 to 2009. Bodegas Franco-Españolas is one of the oldest and most prestigious wineries in Spain and is celebrating its 129th anniversary in this year.

The wine I opened tonight is a Reserva, a class of Spanish red wine that must be aged a minimum of three years with at least one year in oak barrels. The Rioja Bordón Reserva is aged in American (Ohio) and French oak barrels for 18 months and undergoes decanting every 6 months to facilitate a natural filtering process, then stays in bottle for further refinement. The grapes for this wine come from vineyards in Rioja Alta, Rioja Alavesa and Rioja Oriental which are north-facing in the foothills of the Sierra de la Demanda. According to winemaker Rubén Provedo, 2012 was a tough harvest in Rioja due to the drought which led to lower yields. However, the grapes reached the winery in excellent health and helped produce this wonderful Rioja wine.

Rioja Bordón Reserva 2012 (88 pts)

Tasting Note:

RIOJA BORDÓN RESERVA 2012 - DOCa Rioja, Spain (#194753) (D) - $19.95
This blend of 80% Tempranillo, 15% Garnacha Tinta, and 5% Mazuelo has a medium+ intensity nose that is oak-spiced followed by complex earthy, red cherry, mocha, and touches of grilled herb and licorice notes. It is medium bodied on the palate with gritty tannins and ripe flavours of candied-stewed cherry, oak spice, licorice, and cocoa. Acids are fresh and juicy. Smoky, oak spice and subtle sour cherry characters linger on the finish, with very good length. Score: 88 pts


First image of this post
  • Wednesday, October 9, 2019

October 12, 2019 LCBO VINTAGES Release Wine Picks: Cabernet Sauvignon + Rioja

LCBO Wine Picks: October 12, 2019 VINTAGES Release
The main theme from the October 12, 2019 LCBO VINTAGES Release features Cabernet Sauvignon wines from around the globe, while the mini-theme focuses on food-friendly wines from Rioja. All of these wines, plus those from the main release will be available on VINTAGES shelves across Ontario by this Saturday. If you're looking for some great wines for holiday gift-giving, you should definitely consider some of the wines from this Release.

We'll begin with the main theme that focuses on the Red Giant - Cabernet Sauvignon varietal that is grown in many regions from Bordeaux to California. There are quite a few quality wines among the thirteen featured, but only two are included among my top Cabernet Sauvignon wine recommendations from this LCBO VINTAGES Release. First up is the lovely 2010 Ségla from a blockbuster vintage and is a blend based on Cabernet Sauvignon from Margaux on the left bank. The only other Cab Sauv among my wine picks is from Coonawarra in Australia. Lastly, the Château Pierre de Montignac (90 pts) came through VINTAGES in April but is also featured in this Release, so it's not listed below but is nonetheless a worthy buy.

Ségla 2010 (92 pts)Jim Barry Cover Drive Cabernet Sauvignon 2016 (89 pts)

From the feature on wines from Rioja, five of the eight wines are included among my top wine picks, and all five are blends based on Tempranillo, the King of Spanish red wines, and range in vintage. We'll start with the oldest, a 1998 Reserva that is a blend of 95% Tempranillo and 5% Mazuelo/Graciano, while the 2009 Reserva is a blend of 80% Tempranillo and 20% Garnacha. There are a pair of 2012 Rioja Gran Reserva's - the Baron de Ley is mainly Tempranillo, while the Cune is a blend of 85% Tempranillo, 10% Graciano, and 5% Mazuelo. Lastly, the 2016 Crianza is composed of 80% Tempranillo, 15% Garnacha, and 5% Mazuelo.

Urbina Especial Reserva 1998 (92 pts)La Rioja Alta Viña Ardanza Reserva 2009 (93 pts)

Cune Gran Reserva 2012 (92 pts)Barón de Ley Gran Reserva 2012 (91 pts)

Rioja Vega Crianza 2016 (88 pts)

Red wines from the rest of the Release include a Saint Chinian that is a blend of 50% Syrah, 30% Grenache, and 20% Cinsault, while the Rhône red consists of mainly Grenache and Syrah. From Australia, the GMS consists of 55% Grenache, 30% Mourvèdre, 15% Shiraz, while the icon wine from Chile is a blend of 92% Carmenere and 8% Petit Verdot.

Montes Purple Angel 2016 (92 pts)M. Chapoutier Belleruche Côtes du Rhône Grenache/Syrah 2017 (90 pts)

Calmel & Joseph Saint Chinian 2015 (88 pts)

Among my white wine picks, the white from Veneto is a unique blend of 40% Garganega, 35% Cortese/Incrocio Manzoni, 15% Trebbianello, and 10% Trebbiano Toscano, while the Paso Robles wine is composed of 44% Viognier, 24% Marsanne, 20% Grenache Blanc, and 12% Roussanne. Among the single varietal wines, The Saint-Véran is made with Chardonnay, while the Muscadet is made with Melon de Bourgogne. For sweet wine lovers, the Niagara Riesling will be off-dry, while the Riesling Spätlese will be very sweet.

Monte del Frá Ca' del Magro 2016 (89 pts)Karl Erbes Ürziger Würzgarten Riesling Spätlese 2016 (90+ pts)

Enjoy my wine recommendations from this Release! Salud!

Red Wine:

  • CALMEL & JOSEPH SAINT CHINIAN 2015 - AP, Languedoc, France (#010623) (XD) - $15.95  88 pts  wine review
  • RIOJA VEGA CRIANZA 2016 - DOCa Rioja, Spain (#471854) (XD) - $16.95  88 pts  wine review
  • M. CHAPOUTIER BELLERUCHE CÔTES DU RHÔNE GRENACHE/SYRAH 2017 - AC, Rhône, France (#328831) (D) - $16.95  90 pts  wine review
  • JIM BARRY COVER DRIVE CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2016 - Coonawarra, South Australia (#677476) (XD) - $19.95  89 pts  wine review
  • SCHILD ESTATE GRENACHE/MOURVÈDRE/SHIRAZ 2016 - Barossa Valley, South Australia (#108183) (XD) - $19.95
  • CORIOLE ESTATE GROWN SHIRAZ 2016 - McLaren Vale, South Australia (#931600) (XD) - $24.95

  • CUNE GRAN RESERVA 2012 - DOCa Rioja, Spain (#393553) (XD) - $28.95  92 pts  wine review
  • BARÓN DE LEY GRAN RESERVA 2012 - DOCa Rioja, Spain (#642496) (XD) - $29.95  91 pts  wine review
  • SOUTHBROOK LAUNDRY VINEYARD PINOT NOIR 2016 - VQA Lincoln Lakeshore, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#646885) (XD) - $35.00  FE  91+ pts  wine review
  • URBINA ESPECIAL RESERVA 1998 - DOCa Rioja, Spain (#010723) (XD) - $39.95  92 pts  wine review
  • LA RIOJA ALTA VIÑA ARDANZA RESERVA 2009 - DOCa Rioja, Spain (#315531) (XD) - $54.95  93 pts  wine review
  • MONTES PURPLE ANGEL 2016 - DO Colchagua Valley, Chile (#062364) (XD) - $62.95  92 pts  wine review
  • SÉGLA 2010 - Second wine of Château Rauzan-Ségla, AC Margaux, Bordeaux, France (#359810) (XD) - $68.95  92 pts  wine review
Southbrook Laundry Vineyard Pinot Noir 2016 (91+ pts)

White Wine:

  • LE FILS DES GRAS MOUTONS MUSCADET SÈVRE-ET-MAINE SUR LIE 2017 - AC, Loire, France (#363150) (XD) - $15.95
  • CAVE SPRING ESTATE CHARDONNAY 2017 - Cave Spring Vineyard, VQA Beamsville Bench, Niagara Escarpment, Ontario, Canada (#256552) (XD) - $19.95
  • TERRES SECRÈTES LES PRÉLUDES SAINT-VÉRAN 2017 - AC, Burgundy, France (#016725) (XD) - $19.95
  • HENRY OF PELHAM ESTATE RIESLING 2018 - VQA Short Hills Bench, Niagara Escarpment, Ontario, Canada (#557165) (D) - $19.95
  • MONTE DEL FRÁ CA’ DEL MAGRO 2016 - DOC Custoza Superiore, Veneto, Italy (#165670) (XD) - $19.95  89 pts  wine review
  • RAPAURA SPRINGS WAIRAU CLASSIC SAUVIGNON BLANC 2017 - Marlborough, South Island, New Zealand (#924704) (XD) - $21.95
  • KARL ERBES ÜRZIGER WÜRZGARTEN RIESLING SPÄTLESE 2016 - Qualitätswein, Mosel, Germany (#011721) (S) - $26.95  90+ pts  wine review
  • TABLAS CREEK CÔTES DE TABLAS BLANC 2017 - Adelaida District, Paso Robles, California, USA (#036616) (XD) - $37.95  FE
  • CHATEAU MONTELENA CHARDONNAY 2016 - Napa Valley, California, USA (#701748) (XD) - $74.95  FE

Rosé Wine:

  • CAVES D’ESCLANS ROCK ANGEL ROSÉ 2018 - AC Côtes de Provence, France (#491027) (XD) - $49.95  91 pts  wine review
Caves d'Esclans Rock Angel Rosé 2018 (91 pts)

Sparkling Wine:

  • GRAHAM BECK BRUT ROSÉ 2013 - Traditional method, WO Western Cape, South Africa (#004085) (XD) - $24.95
  • LE BRUN DE NEUVILLE GRAND VINTAGE BRUT CHAMPAGNE 2008 - AC, France (#011131) (XD) - $85.95  92 pts  wine review
Le Brun de Neuville Grand Vintage Brut Champagne 2008 (92 pts)

Dessert Wine:

  • ROYAL TOKAJI LATE HARVEST TOKAJI 2017 - PDO, Hungary (#517375) (S) (500 mL) - $21.95


First image of this post
  • Monday, October 7, 2019

Marqués de Cáceres Gran Reserva 2011 (Spain) - Wine Review

Following up on the delicious 2014 Marqués de Cáceres Crianza, wine review is another lovely Rioja from Spanish producer Marqués de Cáceres. This red wine arrived at the LCBO recently as part of the LCBO VINTAGES Release - and plenty are still available for purchase.

Marqués de Cáceres made its first Gran Reserva in 1975 and produces it only in the best vintages. The grapes used in this 2011 vintage are Tempranillo, Garnacha Tinta, and Graciano which come from a special selection of 35-50 year-old vineyards with some parcels in Rioja Alta that are 65-85 years old. The Tempranillo comes from vineyards planted between 400-620 metres above sea level from different zones within the Cenicero boundary in La Rioja, northern Spain. The Garnacha Tinta comes from selected vineyards located in Rioja Alta at altitudes between 500 m and 650 m, adding finesse, freshness, and structure to the wine. Lastly, Graciano adds a unique style and colour to the blend. All of the grapes come from mainly clay and limestone soils, and were manually harvested, parcel by parcel.

In Spanish wine law, Crianza wines spend one year in oak barrels, while Reserva wines must be aged for 2 years, of which one year must be in oak. Gran Reserva wines must be aged for two years in oak and three years in bottle. However, this Gran Reserva from Marqués de Cáceres is aged for 24-26 months in barrel, followed by a minimum of 4 years in bottle prior to release.

Marqués de Cáceres Gran Reserva 2011 (89 pts)

Tasting Note:

MARQUÉS DE CÁCERES GRAN RESERVA 2011 - DOCa Rioja, Spain (#976670) (XD) - $29.95
Blend of 85% Tempranillo, 8% Garnacha Tinta, and 7% Graciano. The medium intensity nose has toasty oak and vanilla aromas nuanced with ripe red cherry, floral, and balsamic notes. It is full bodied on the palate with structured, drying tannins that become more pronounced on the mid-palate. Flavours are savoury with sweet spice, plum, dark cherry, and roasted nut notes. Acids are well-balanced while the finish is long and savoury. Approachable now, but should improve in 3 years and drink nicely into the mid-to-late 20's. Score: 89 pts


First image of this post
  • Monday, October 7, 2019

CVNE (Spain) Wine Tasting with Maria Larrea

On a fine , I had the pleasure of tasting a few wines from Spain's historic CVNE wine company with winemaker María Larrea at George Restaurant in downtown Toronto.

CVNE is actually an abbreviation of Compañía Vinícola del Norte del España, which translates to the Northern Spanish Wine Company. It was founded in 1879 by two brothers in the town of Haro in Rioja, in northern Spain, and has always focused on producing and aging wines. It now comprises of four wineries: CVNE, Imperial, Viña Real and Contino.

CVNE Wine Tasting with Winemaker María Larrea

Even though the company is officially called CVNE, the producer is more commonly known as Cune (pronounced COO-nay). It was interesting to learn from Maria that the origins of this name are due to a label misprint by the print shop they were using in the early days of the winery's history. The print shop accidentally replaced the "V" with a "U" and the name Cune became quite popular and continues be well-known. Personally, I have always known this producer as Cune.

CVNE garnered its first awards in 1885, and further successes led to the creation of the revolutionary Effel's cellar. The cellar was designed by the famous French architect, Aleixandre Gustave Eiffel, and uses steel trusses running from wall to wall (instead of columns) to support the roof, thus creating a large, open space for the management of the barrels. It was completed in 1909 and is still in use today by Imperial wines.

Imperial wines were first created in 1920 and are some of Spain's greatest wines. The name comes from a special bottling for the English market, in a measure called "Pinta Imperial" or "Imperial Pint". Viña Real wines were also launched at this time. In 1940, the El Carmen winemaking facility became the largest of its kind in Spain and showcased the benefits of using concrete in winemaking.

In 1973, Viñedos del Contino was established by CVNE and the family that owned the Contino vineyard, becoming the first single vineyard site in Rioja. Another first occurred in 1989 when they began using gravity during the fermentation process. In 2004, Viña Real winery was inaugurated by his majesty Juan Carlos I, King of Spain, becoming one of the most advanced wineries in Spain.

Today, the company is still controlled by descendants of the founding family. Maria and I tasted through the three wines listed below and, while all three were enjoyable, we both thought the Imperial Reserva the best. I was also hoping to try the Monopole - Spain's oldest white wine brand that was first introduced in 1915, but unfortunately it was not available for tasting.

Of the three wines I did get to taste, the Crianza and Reserva came to LCBO VINTAGES in and are still available for purchase at the LCBO. Wines from CVNE's entire portfolio can be purchased through their licensed agent here in Ontario, Von Terra. Thank you, Von Terra, for the opportunity to meet Maria and taste these fine wines from CVNE.

Tasting Notes:

CVNE CUNE CRIANZA 2015 - DOCa Rioja, Spain (#039925) (XD) - $16.95
85% Tempranillo and 15% Garnacha Tinta/Mazuelo. From a warm year, the medium-high intensity nose is all red berry and cherry with hints of strawberry and wood adding some complexity. It's light-to-medium bodied with medium-level tannins that are smooth and refined. Pretty aroma replays, plus vanilla and coconut flavours on the palate. Acids are very good. Dry, clean, and easy drinking with a finish length that is very good. Score: 88 pts

CVNE Cune Crianza 2015 (88 pts)CVNE Imperial Reserva 2014 (92 pts)

CVNE IMPERIAL RESERVA 2014 - DOCa Rioja, Spain (#424390) (XD) - $39.95
Blend of 85% Tempranillo and equal parts Graciano, Mazuelo (Carignan), and Grenache spent 18 months in (60%) French and (40%) American oak. Lovely, fairly intense nose offers very complex dark berry, black cherry, blackberry, and black plum aromas, with subtle oak, cinnamon, and spice complementing the dark fruits. The medium-full bodied palate is slightly warm, but the very good fruit concentration holds it all together. Very nice aroma replays are well-balanced on the juicy palate. Nicely balanced overall with smooth tannins and a very long, complex finish. Score: 92 pts

CVNE IMPERIAL GRAN RESERVA 2008 - DOCa Rioja, Spain (XD) - $69.95
Same blend as the Reserva, this is showing maturity on the nose with complex coffee, oak, tobacco, earthy, and savoury aromas, plus hints of blackberry and dark berry. The medium-full bodied palate has complex aroma replays on the flavour profile, plus some dried herb notes. Continues to evolve in the glass. Medium tannins are refined and smooth, while acids are balanced. Excellent finish length with tobacco and forest floor notes. Score: 91 pts

CVNE Imperial Gran Reserva 2008 (91 pts)


First image of this post
  • Friday, October 4, 2019

Château de la Pierre Levée Révélations d'Hubert de Boüard 2016 (Bordeaux) - Wine Review

wine review is a red wine from Bordeaux that arrived at the LCBO recently as part of the LCBO VINTAGES Release and is widely available for purchase across Ontario.

This red wine was born out of an exclusive partnership between Yvon Mau and Hubert de Boüard. Yvon Mau has been trading in the wine industry since 1897, while Hubert de Boüard is co-owner of Château Angelus, a Saint-Émilion Premier Grand Cru Classé producer. Today, the Révélations d'Hubert de Boüard collection of wines is made up of nine châteaux which aim to reveal little-known vineyards with great potential to produce Bordeaux wines that are fruity, balanced, and accessible to all.

The grapes for this particular red wine come mostly from a single block surrounding Château de la Pierre Levée, which is located in the area known as Bazille within the commune of Salles-de-Castillon to the northwest of the appellation. The estate overlooks the vineyard that has perfect exposure to the sun. The name of the château comes from a reference to the imposing two-metre high dolmen that is found next to the vineyard and has been designated a historic monument.

Château de la Pierre Levée Révélations d'Hubert de Boüard 2016 (87 pts)

Tasting Note:

CHÂTEAU DE LA PIERRE LEVÉE RÉVÉLATIONS D’HUBERT DE BOÜARD 2016 - AC Côtes de Bordeaux – Castillon, France (#667147) (XD) - $16.95
A blend of 70% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Franc, and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon from 30-year-old vineyards planted on clay-limestone soils. The nose is fresh and ripe, with medium+ aromatics of plum, blackberry, cocoa, and vanilla wood spice notes. It medium-full bodied on the palate with more black plum, blackberry and wood spice flavours supported by medium-firm, chalky textured tannins that have some grip. Cedar wood and herbal notes come to the fore as it warms in the glass. Acids are fresh and lively, while the finish is juicy with cocoa and wood spice notes, and very good length. Score: 87 pts


Featured Post

Giveaway - Win Tickets to Gourmet Food & Wine Expo 2019

Blog Archive

Posts by Tag

Recent Posts

Recent Posts Widget




  

Followers

Lists

OnToplist.com
BOTW Blogs - Vintages Wine Picks and Reviews
My Zimbio
Blogarama - Drinks & Beverages Blogs
Top Wine Sites
Wine blog
RSSChomp Blog Directory