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  • Friday, February 14, 2020

Zuccardi Apelación Vista Flores Malbec 2017 (Argentina) - Wine Review

For celebrations, wine review is this lovely, brand new Malbec from Zuccardi Wines that will arrive in LCBO VINTAGES on . It is also featured as the Wine of the Month in this Release and will be widely available at LCBO outlets throughout Ontario.

Zuccardi is one of the leaders and most well-known names in Argentine winemaking. Current winemaker Sebastián Zuccardi grew up in a family that had a strong visionary and innovative spirit. Since 1963, when his grandfather planted the first hectares of grapevines in Maipú, Mendoza, the Zuccardi family has not stopped growing and developing.

Sebastien handcrafted this Malbec with fruit from their Vista Flores Estate which is located in the district of Tunuyan in the central-western part of the Uco Valley, which itself is located in the Mendoza wine region.

The 55 hectares of meticulously worked vineyards at the Vista Flores Estate are located 3215 feet (980 metres) above sea level and planted to mainly Malbec, Chardonnay, Syrah, and Cabernet Sauvignon. For vine training, both the vertical conduction system and the Parral Zuccardi conduction system are used. The Zuccardi vine training system elevates the the vineyards to create an arched green web that allows the process of photosynthesis to develop in the perfect conditions. Additionally, it also protects the grapes from the hours of highest sun radiation by having the right density of leaves and cluster distribution, and also facilitates protection against frosts.

This particular Malbec was carefully harvested in bunches and gravity-fed into tanks, followed by fermentation with indigenous yeasts. After fermentation, skin maceration took place for 20 days. Lastly, after undergoing complete malolactic fermentation, it was aged in concrete tanks and oak barrels.

Zuccardi Apelación Vista Flores Malbec 2017 (91 pts)

Tasting Note:

ZUCCARDI APELACIÓN VISTA FLORES MALBEC 2017 - Uco Valley, Mendoza, Argentina (#011770) (XD) - $24.95
Medium+ intensity nose has a lovely dark berry, blackberry and black cherry core surrounded by stony mineral and black pepper spice aromas. It is medium-full bodied on the palate with more succulent dark berry and pepper spice flavours flecked with stony minerals and hints of purple fruits. Spicy on the mid-palate with fresh and vibrant acids, while the tannins are gritty and a bit tight at the moment. Juicy and long on the finish with with stony mineral, dark berry, and violet notes. A lovely Malbec that should improve in 2 years and enjoyed over the next 5-6 years. Score: 91 pts

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  • Monday, February 10, 2020

Greywacke Sauvignon Blanc 2018 (New Zealand) - Wine Review

wine review is a lovely Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand that will be arriving in LCBO VINTAGES on .

It is produced by the legendary Kevin Judd at Greywacke - his Marlborough label on the South Island of New Zealand. Greywacke is the fulfillment of a long-held dream, a name adopted by Kevin and his wife Kimberley for their first Marlborough vineyard located in Rapaura which has a high prevalence of rounded greywacke stones in the soils of the vineyard. I am excited to be visiting New Zealand later this month and will be meeting up with Kevin at Greywacke and hope to see these stones in person. Stay tuned.

The grapes for this Sauvignon Blanc were sourced from various prime vineyard sites in Marlborough's Southern Valleys, the central Wairau Plains (specifically in Woodbourne, Renwick, and Rapaura), and a spectacular river terrace site in the upper Awatere Valley. Soil types vary from the young alluvial soils of Rapaura, Renwick and the upper Awatere, which contain high proportions of New Zealand’s ubiquitous greywacke river stones, to the older and denser clay-loams of the Southern Valleys.

The previous three vintages of the Greywacke Sauvignon Blanc that I tasted have all been amazing, high-quality wines - and perhaps not really surprising given who is behind these wines - so, I fully expect this latest vintage to also be delicious! The 2018 vintage was very warm and humid, but also very wet, resulting in a challenging year that promises to deliver quality wines. Let's see how the 2018 is tasting tonight...

Greywacke Sauvignon Blanc 2018 (91 pts)

Tasting Note:

GREYWACKE SAUVIGNON BLANC 2018 - Marlborough, South Island, New Zealand (#164228) (XD) - $24.95
Screw cap. Ripe, medium-high intensity nose delivers guava, kiwi, passionfruit, tropical fruit, gooseberry, and citrus aromas with a fine mineral underpinning. It is medium-bodied with good weight to the fruit and slightly creamy textured. Zesty citrus, ripe kiwi, guava, and passionfruit flavours with touches of spice and floral are lifted by the fresh, vibrant acidity. Fine mineral and lime zest notes linger on the long, crisp finish, with excellent length. Lovely, as always. Score: 91 pts

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  • Friday, February 7, 2020

Klippenkop Pinotage 2018 (South Africa) - Wine Review

red wine review is a Pinotage from South Africa that newly arrived at the LCBO last month as part of the LCBO VINTAGES Release.

It is produced by Robertson Winery, a large wine producer situated just outside the town of Robertson, in the Breede River Valley in southwestern South Africa. The winery was established in 1941 in a stone church that was built by the community and serviced by missionaries, but was no longer in use and converted for use in winemaking and cellaring operations.

Robertson is nestled in a valley of abundance, from the sun-drenched mountain vineyards growing select varietals to plentiful river valley vineyards heavy with fruit. The Breede River is the life source of the Robertson Valley and is one of the most important rivers in the Western Cape. It flows from the Skurweberg to the sea at Witsands, and is joined by hundreds of streams off the surrounding Langeberg mountains along the way. They irrigate their vines from this vital artery.

This particular wine gets its name from the geographical term 'klippen', which refers to an outcrop of rock, while 'kop' in Afrikaans translates to either 'hillock' or 'head'.

Klippenkop Pinotage 2018 (85 pts)

Tasting Note:

KLIPPENKOP PINOTAGE 2018 - WO Robertson, South Africa (#012428) (XD) - $13.95
Screw cap. Matured on wood for 3 months, this has the distinctive wood-influenced smoky, coffee, and mocha chocolate nose so commonly found in South African Pinotage. The light-to-medium bodied palate is sour and tart with more coffee and mocha chocolate flavours. Acids are succulent, while the lingering finish has more coffee and mocha chocolate notes. Coffee lovers will probably enjoy this. Score: 85 pts

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  • Wednesday, February 5, 2020

February 8, 2020 LCBO VINTAGES Release Wine Picks: Sun, Soil & Soaring Heights

LCBO Wine Picks: February 8, 2020 VINTAGES Release
The upcoming LCBO VINTAGES Release is yet another mono-thematic Release, but this time focuses on the exciting topic of how the Sun, Soil, and Soaring Heights shapes the wines we love and enjoy. All the wines from the theme, as well as of the rest of the Release will be on shelves by this .

The first concept from the theme is the topic of elevation and how it affects the grapes. Planting vineyards at higher altitudes allows the grapes to grow at cooler temperatures with increased diurnal variation, and provides excellent drainage. Cooler temperatures and high diurnal variation allows the grapes to slow down the ripening process and preserve it's natural acidity - which in turn provides freshness in wines. There are five wines featured as part of this concept and three are included among my top wine picks. The Riserva Chianti Classico is a blend of mostly Sangiovese that was grown at 300 metres altitude. From 360 to 540 metres elevation, the Douro red is a blend 70% Touriga Nacional and 30% Aragonez/Tinta Roriz. Lastly, the Nerello Mascalese and Nerello Cappuccio off the volcanic slopes of Mount Etna is grown at 550 to 700 metres above sea level.

Tornatore Nerello Mascalese/Nerello Cappuccio 2017 (91 pts)Carpineto Riserva Chianti Classico 2015 (90 pts)

Casca Mountain Vineyards 1808 Reserva 2016 (89 pts)

The second concept looks at the proximity of a vineyard to a bodies of water. Warm climates such as those found in South Africa and Chile, among other places, can grow high-quality cool-climate varietals such as Chardonnay and Syrah due to the cooling breezes and fog generated by the nearby oceans. Rivers can help moderate temperatures by reflecting sunlight back into the vineyard, which in turn increases sun exposure and helps with the grape ripening process. Of the five wines listed as part of this concept, a couple of fine examples include a Syrah from Chile and a Chardonnay from South Africa.

Casa Silva Lolol Gran Terroir de la Costa Syrah 2016 (90 pts)Le Riche Chardonnay 2017 (89 pts)

For the third concept, the focus is on exposure to the sun - the driving force behind grape growing. Too much sun, and wines can become overripe, while too little sun and the grapes lack flavour, among other things. Vineyards grown on mountains, hillsides, and valleys create dynamic mesoclimates, resulting in some grapes getting more sun exposure than others. Winemakers can then use grapes from various locations - obtaining fruit characters from one location and blending with the power and concentration from another location. Two of the five wines from this concept are among my wine recommendations - a lovely Gigondas which is a blend of 65% Grenache, 20% Mourvèdre, and 15% Syrah, and a medium sweet Riesling from Niagara.

Pierre Amadieu Domaine Grand Romane Cuvée Prestige Vieilles Vignes Gigondas 2017 (92 pts)Palatine Hills Riesling 2016 (89 pts)

The fourth and final concept looks at how dirt affects the wines. The makeup of the vineyard soil is critical to the flavour and quality of the wine. Depth, fertility (the poorer the better), drainage, texture, and composition are just some of the many facets of soil and how it impacts wine growing. One of the most important aspects of the soil is how difficult a vine's roots need to work through the soil to get nutrients and water - the harder it needs to work, the higher the quality of the wine. The concept of minerality also comes in to play here. Two of the four wines featured here are recommended - a lovely Sancerre (Sauvignon Blanc) from silex soils, and a nice Chablis (Chardonnay) from Kimmeridgian limestone soils.

Château de Fontaine-Audon Sancerre 2018 (90 pts)François Martenot Les Marouettes Chablis 2018 (89 pts)

Top red wine picks from the rest of the Release include a pair of lovely Malbec wines that would be great to compare and taste side-by-side. From Languedoc there are a pair of Grenache-Syrah blends - the Puech-Haut is a blend of 55% Grenache and 45% Syrah, while the Domaine des Vals is a blend of 75% Grenache and 25% Syrah that was raised entirely in concrete tanks. Lastly, if you want to go off the beaten path, try the Cirò wine from Calabria that is made with the Gagliappo varietal.

Catena Lunlunta Old Vines Appellation Malbec 2017 (91 pts)TintoNegro Limestone Block Malbec 2015 (89 pts)

Puech-Haut Prestige Saint-Drézéry 2017 (90 pts)Domaine des Vals Corbières 2017 (88 pts)

Tenuta Iuzzolini Cirò Rosso Classico 2017 (87 pts)

Among my sparkling wine picks, the Champagne is a blend of 70% Chardonnay and 30% Pinot Noir, while the Brut Rosé is a blend of 54% Chardonnay and 46% Pinot Noir.

13th Street Cuvée Brut Rosé (89 pts)

Enjoy my wine recommendations from this Release!

Red Wine:

  • DOMAINE DES VALS CORBIÈRES 2017 - AP, Languedoc, France (#012981) (XD) - $14.95  88 pts  wine review
  • CASCA MOUNTAIN VINEYARDS 1808 RESERVA 2016 - DOC Douro, Portugal (#011149) (XD) - $16.95  89 pts  wine review
  • TENUTA IUZZOLINI CIRÒ ROSSO CLASSICO 2017 - DOC, Calabria, Italy (#013034) (D) - $17.95  87 pts  wine review
  • CASTEL DEL LAGO VALPOLICELLA RIPASSO SUPERIORE 2017 - DOC, Veneto, Italy (#012411) (D) - $17.95  89 pts  wine review
  • TINTONEGRO LIMESTONE BLOCK MALBEC 2015 - Mendoza, Argentina (#404137) (XD) - $19.95  89 pts  wine review
  • TRAPICHE MEDALLA CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2016 - Mendoza, Argentina (#568865) (XD) - $19.95  89 pts  wine review
  • CASA SILVA LOLOL GRAN TERROIR DE LA COSTA SYRAH 2016 - Certified sustainable, DO Colchagua Valley, Chile (#010806) (XD) - $19.95  90 pts  wine review
Trapiche Medalla Cabernet Sauvignon 2016 (89 pts)Castel del Lago Valpolicella Ripasso Superiore 2017 (89 pts)

  • CATENA LUNLUNTA OLD VINES APPELLATION MALBEC 2017 - Mendoza, Argentina (#011769) (XD) - $22.95  91 pts  wine review
  • TORNATORE NERELLO MASCALESE/NERELLO CAPPUCCIO 2017 - DOC Etna Rosso, Sicily, Italy (#487090) (XD) - $23.95  91 pts  wine review
  • CARPINETO RISERVA CHIANTI CLASSICO 2015 - DOCG, Tuscany, Italy (#047118) (XD) - $28.95  90 pts  wine review
  • PUECH-HAUT PRESTIGE SAINT-DRÉZÉRY 2017 - AP Languedoc, France (#012986) (XD) - $29.95  90 pts  wine review
  • PIERRE AMADIEU DOMAINE GRAND ROMANE CUVÉE PRESTIGE VIEILLES VIGNES GIGONDAS 2017 - AC, Rhône, France (#968693) (XD) - $32.95  92 pts  wine review
  • SOUTHERN RIGHT PINOTAGE 2018 - WO Hemel-en-Aarde Valley, Walker Bay, South Africa (#486167) (XD) - $34.95  FE

White Wine:

  • FRANÇOIS MARTENOT L'OR DE LA TERRE BOURGOGNE ALIGOTÉ 2018 - AP, Burgundy, France (#011912) (XD) - $15.95  88 pts  wine review
  • UMANI RONCHI VELLODORO PECORINO 2018 - IGT Terre di Chieti, Abruzzo, Italy (#289553) (XD) - $16.95  88 pts  wine review
  • PALATINE HILLS RIESLING 2016 - VQA Niagara Lakeshore, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada (#520395) (M) - $17.95  89 pts  wine review
  • ERADUS SAUVIGNON BLANC 2019 - Awatere Valley, Marlborough, South Island, New Zealand (#225557) (XD) - $19.95
  • LE RICHE CHARDONNAY 2017 - WO Stellenbosch, South Africa (#012431) (XD) - $19.95  89 pts  wine review
  • SOHO WHITE COLLECTION PINOT GRIS 2018 - Marlborough, South Island, New Zealand (#536169) (XD) - $19.95
  • FRANÇOIS MARTENOT LES MAROUETTES CHABLIS 2018 - AP, Burgundy, France (#011913) (XD) - $24.95  89 pts  wine review
  • TUPARI BOULDER ROWS SAUVIGNON BLANC 2015 - Awatere Valley, Marlborough, South Island, New Zealand (#012008) (XD) - $31.95  90 pts  wine review
  • CHÂTEAU DE FONTAINE-AUDON SANCERRE 2018 - AP, Loire, France (#745893) (XD) - $32.95  90 pts  wine review
Tupari Boulder Rows Sauvignon Blanc 2015 (90 pts)François Martenot L'Or de La Terre Bourgogne Aligoté 2018 (88 pts)

Umani Ronchi Vellodoro Pecorino 2018 (88 pts)

Sparkling Wine:

  • 13TH STREET CUVÉE BRUT ROSÉ - Traditional method, VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#147504) (XD) - $29.95  89 pts  wine review
  • VILMART & CIE GRAND CELLIER 1ER CRU BRUT CHAMPAGNE - AC, France (#065110) (D) - $92.95

Dessert Wine:

  • CHÂTEAU DES CHARMES VIDAL ICEWINE 2017 - VQA Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada (#565861) (S) (200 mL) - $28.95  90+ pts  wine review
Château des Charmes Vidal Icewine 2017 (90+ pts)

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  • Monday, February 3, 2020

Tenuta Iuzzolini Cirò Rosso Classico 2017 (Calabria) - Wine Review

wine review is a nice red wine made with a relatively unknown grape called Gagliappo. It is an indigenous varietal to southern Italy and grown mostly in Calabria. Wines from Calabria are rare to find at the LCBO, so I am delighted to see that this will arrive in LCBO VINTAGES on .

Tenuta Iuzzolini was founded in 2004 by Fortunato Iuzzolini with his wife Giovanna Colicchio. Together, they transferred their love and passion for the land to their four sons are also part of the Iuzzolini Estate. It is located in Cirò, a small Calabrian town with Greek roots along the Ionian coast of Crotone. With approximately 500 hectares of land on the Estate, they have planted 100 hectares to vineyards, 50 hectares to secular olive groves, 100 hectares of arable land, and the remaining part consists of pastures and woods for livestock raised in the wild.

Part of the goal of the Iuzzolini family is to recover and enhance of native Calabrian vines. In addition to planting various international varietals in their Estate vineyard, they also cultivate three varietals autochthonous to Calabria - Greco Bianco, Gaglioppo, and Magliocco. Gaglioppo is the most widely planted of the three grapes as it has been cultivated for thousands of years in the area of Cirò due to its adaptability to dryness and disease.

Tenuta Iuzzolini Cirò Rosso Classico 2017 (87 pts)

Tasting Note:

TENUTA IUZZOLINI CIRÒ ROSSO CLASSICO 2017 - DOC, Calabria, Italy (#013034) (D) - $17.95
100% Gagliappo from white clay soils located 50 to 100 metres above sea level. This red sees very little time in barriques and has a bouquet of bright red berry, peppery spice, rose floral, and red plum aromas with savoury touches. More red berry, spice, and plum flavours that become a bit darker on the ripe, medium-bodied palate with light, gritty tannins and fresh, juicy acidity. Wanted a bit more length on the juicy, structured finish that adds intrigue with toffee and sweet spice notes. Worthy exploration of this grape. Score: 87 pts

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  • Friday, January 31, 2020

TintoNegro Limestone Block Malbec 2015 (Argentina) - Wine Review

Following up on the lovely TintoNegro Finca La Escuela La Piedra Malbec that I enjoyed in October (and many still surprisingly available at LCBO), wine review is another lovely red wine by Argentina's TintoNegro. This lovely Malbec blend will arrive on LCBO VINTAGES shelves .

TintoNegro, meaning black wine in Spanish, was borne out of a long-time friendship and professional collaboration between Alejandro Sejanovich and Jeff Mausbach. Along with Jorge Crotta, who joined the company some years later, their goal together is to celebrate the essence of the Malbec grape which is known for its dark, blackish colour.

The TintoNegro portfolio explores the terroirs of Mendoza where Malbec thrives, gradually isolating unique vineyard sites and winemaking techniques which can showcase the heights of concentration and complexity to which Malbec can aspire.

The grapes for this particular Malbec, which also includes small amounts of Cabernet Franc, come from vineyards in the mid-Uco Valley county of Tunuyan, at the foot of the Andes mountains located to the east. The vineyards are located at 4,000 feet above sea level, within the district of Los Chacayes, with soils that are very rocky and rich in limestone.

TintoNegro Limestone Block Malbec 2015 (89 pts)

Tasting Note:

TINTONEGRO LIMESTONE BLOCK MALBEC 2015 - Mendoza, Argentina (#404137) (XD) - $19.95
This Malbec was co-fermented with approximately 11% Cabernet Franc and aged in for 9 months in French oak barrels, only 15% new. This has a medium+ intensity nose which is stony with blackberry, spices and hints of floral and black cherry aromas. The medium-full bodied palate is fresh with lively acidity and an array of dark berry flavours like blackberry, blueberry, and black cherry that mingle with spices and touches of stony minerality. Tannins offer a supple, chalky textured mouthfeel. Stony notes linger on the long finish. A recommended buy to enjoy over the next 5 years. Score: 89 pts

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  • Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Lakeview Cellars Serenity Baco Noir 2017 (Ontario) - Wine Review

wine review is the companion red to the delicious Lakeview Cellars Serenity Sauvignon Blanc white I opened on .

Like the Sauvignon Blanc, this red wine is produced by Lakeview Wine Co., a division of Diamond Estates Wine & Spirits Ltd., at their property in Niagara-on-the-Lake. The Baco Noir makes up half of the Serenity Wines collection, which aims to be part of the feeling of Serenity created by quiet conversations, easy smiles, magical moments with friends or simply your own personal oasis.

Baco Noir is a hybrid red wine grape variety produced by Francois Baco from a cross of Vitis vinifera var. It is grown primarily in cool-climate wine North American wine regions such as Canada and in Northeast USA. Baco Noir has performed quite well here in Ontario, with a few producers growing this varietal and having success.

This particular bottling from Lakeview Cellars uses grapes grown in Niagara. The grapes were harvested in late September, with fermentation lasting two weeks. The wine was left on its skins for three weeks, and after fermentation it was pressed, rough filtered and oak aged for 8 months in new French and Hungarian oak barrels.

The Lakeview Cellars Serenity Baco Noir is widely available at LCBO outlets across Ontario, as well as at the winery and their online web store.

Lakeview Cellars Serenity Baco Noir 2017 (87 pts)

Tasting Note:

LAKEVIEW CELLARS SERENITY BACO NOIR 2017 - VQA Ontario, Canada (#688556) (D) - $16.95
With 8 months of ageing in new French and Hungarian oak barrels, the medium+ intensity nose offers smoky blackberry with toasty oak spice aromas and touches of black cherry. It's ripe fruited with more smoky blackberry and toasty oak flavours joined by some black plum and grapey notes. It's juicy and light-to-mid weighted on the palate with light tannins. Well-balanced throughout, with plummy, blackberry, and touches of smoke on the finish, with very good length. Score: 87 pts

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  • Sunday, January 26, 2020

Lakeview Cellars Serenity Sauvignon Blanc 2018 (Niagara) - Wine Review

It's been a crazy couple of weeks, plus today's tragic news of Kobe Bryant, so for wine review I feel like having some serenity now with this Sauvignon Blanc from Niagara.

Serenity is that feeling created by quiet conversations, easy smiles, magical moments with friends or simply your personal oasis - and is exactly what this delicious white wine was created to be part of.

The Serenity collection of wines, which also includes the Serenity Baco Noir, is a new addition to the Lakeview Cellars brand. These wines are produced by Lakeview Wine Co., a division of Diamond Estates Wine & Spirits Ltd. in Niagara-on-the-Lake. Winemaker Scott McGregor says that he enjoys crafting these premium and approachable Serenity Wines. He also mentions that this Sauvignon Blanc would be a great patio wine.

Given that it is January in Toronto, I have no doubt that this will be a hit on patios come Spring, but I will pass on the patio for now and move indoors to my serene spot on the couch, bundled up with warm slippers.

This white wine is widely available at LCBO outlets across Ontario, as well as at the winery in Niagara-on-the-Lake or by shopping online.

Lakeview Cellars Serenity Sauvignon Blanc 2018 (87 pts)

Tasting Note:

LAKEVIEW CELLARS SERENITY SAUVIGNON BLANC 2018 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#688549) (D) - $16.95
Screw cap. Fragrant nose of gooseberry, green, grassy, and lime zest aromas. It's medium+ bodied with good fruit concentration and gooseberry, kiwi, tropical fruit, and lime citrus flavours supported by bracing acidity. Good length on the finish. Serve well-chilled. Score: 87 pts

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  • Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Rupert & Rothschild Classique 2016 (South Africa) - Wine Review

wine review is a lovely Bordeaux blend from South Africa that is arriving at the LCBO this weekend as part of the LCBO VINTAGES Release.

Established in 1997, the partnership of Rupert & Rothschild Vignerons was founded under the leadership of Dr. Anton Rupert and Baron Edmond de Rothschild. Both men later relinquished the reigns to their respective sons- Anthonij Rupert and Baron Benjamin de Rothschild. After Anthonij passed away in 2001,  his older brother Johann Rupert and sister Hanneli Rupert-Koegelenberg assumed his position.

The late Dr. Anton Rupert was an internationally respected industrialist who established a global business empire. He was held in high regard as a committed conservationist, and together with his art-devoted wife, Huberte, played an immense role in the preservation of art. The Rupert family has a passion for producing world-class wines and own three other wine estates in the picturesque Franschhoek Valley, located just east of Stellenbosch in South Africa's Western Cape.

One of the most well-known names in wine, the Rothschild family’s passion for wine began when James de Rothschild purchased Château Lafite in 1868. His great-grandson, Baron Edmond de Rothschild embraced his vision and expanded their wine portfolio by acquiring two estates in Listrac and Moulis-en-Médoc in 1973. Eventually, this became Edmond de Rothschild Heritage and today it is run by his son and his wife, Baron Benjamin and Baroness Ariane de Rothschild. Over time, Edmond de Rothschild Heritage continued to grow and now includes vineyards in France, Spain, Argentina, New Zealand and South Africa.

At Rupert & Rothschild Vignerons, meticulous attention is given to the vineyard and cellar practices in order to produce the finest quality wines. The pay special attention preserve the grapes in their optimal state prior to initiating the winemaking process as it is an important aspect in producing exceptional wine. Bunches are carefully hand-harvested and intervention during the winemaking process is kept to a minimum. Rupert & Rothschild Vignerons produces only three wines - a Chardonnay, a flagship Bordeaux blend, this Classique Bordeaux blend which is one of the most sought after South African red wines in its category. Let's see how this red wine is tasting tonight...

Rupert & Rothschild Classique 2016 (89 pts)

Tasting Note:

RUPERT & ROTHSCHILD CLASSIQUE 2016 - WO Western Cape, South Africa (#717991) (XD) - $24.95
This blend of 50% Merlot, 35% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 15% Cabernet Franc was hand-harvested and fermented in stainless steel tanks with extended skin contact, followed by ageing in small French oak barrels for 16 months. The medium+ intensity nose is complex with enticing herbally notes mingling with dark fruited, dark berry, blackberry, currant, black plum aromas followed by savoury, earthy and wood spice notes. The palate is medium bodied with juicy acids and tight, textured tannins. It has nice herbally, dark berry, and oak spice flavours with some warmth on the mid-palate. Finishes with very good length and more herbally, wood spice, and some bitter chocolate notes. Enjoy over the next 3-4 years. Score: 89 pts

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  • Wednesday, January 22, 2020

January 25, 2020 LCBO VINTAGES Release Wine Picks: Perfect Pairings

The overarching theme of the January 25, 2020 LCBO VINTAGES Release focuses on food & wine pairings and branches off into two categories - wines for comfort food and wines for takeout. All of the wines from the themes and the main release will arrive on shelves across Ontario by this Saturday.

We begin with the first food and wine pairing theme on wine companions for comfort foods. Of the twelve wines featured, five are include among my top wine picks. For pairing with shellfish in a herb butter sauce, try the Chablis (an unoaked Chardonnay) or Pouilly-Fumé (i.e. Sauvignon Blanc). For a hearty, big red meat stew, try a robust wine such as the Châteauneuf-du-Pape, which consists of 70% Grenache, 17% Mourvèdre, 10% Syrah, and 3% Cinsault, or the Carignan that comes from 60 year-old vines. Lastly, pasta is the consummate comfort food and could be paired with the Riserva Chianti Classico from Antinori that is a blend of mostly Sangiovese.

Domaine Séguinot-Bordet Chablis 2018 (91 pts)Chatelain Les Charmes Pouilly-Fumé 2017 (90+ pts)

Les Cailloux Châteauneuf-du-Pape 2016 (92+ pts)Lafage Cayrol Vieilles Vignes Carignan 2016 (89 pts)

There are ten wines from the second theme on food and wine pairings that focuses on wines for takeout food and four are included among my wine recommendations. First up is a Pecorino (a white wine, not the cheese) from Italy that would be a fine match for pizza. For Thai curries, try off-dry wines or wines with bright red fruits such as the Morgon from Beaujolais which is made with Gamay. For beef, pork, or chicken tacos, try a Tempranillo, or with fish tacos try the Momo Sauvignon Blanc.

De Angelis Offida Pecorino 2018 (88 pts)Gérard Brisson Les Charmes La Louve Morgon 2018 (90 pts)

Alvides Tinto Roble Tempranillo 2016 (88 pts)Momo Organic Sauvignon Blanc 2018 (88 pts)

From the rest of the Release, among my red wine picks there is a very nice Cabernet-Merlot from South Africa that consists of 50% Merlot, 35% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 15% Cabernet Franc, while the Valpolicella from Veneto is a blend of 35% Corvina, 35% Corvinone, 20% Rondinella, and 10% Rossignola / Oseleta / Negrara / Dindarella. Single varietal wines include a lovely Brunello di Montalcino that is made with Sangiovese, while the Bourgueil is made with Cabernet Franc.

Lazzeretti Brunello di Montalcino 2013 (91+ pts)Rupert & Rothschild Classique 2016 (89 pts)

Tedeschi Valpolicella Superiore 2017 (88+ pts)

Only one of my white wine recommendations is a blend - the Hugel Gentil from Alsace consists of Gewurztraminer, Pinot Gris, Riesling, Muscat, Pinot Blanc, and Sylvaner. The Hermitage Blanc is made with 100% Marsanne, while the Pouilly-Fuissé is a barrel-fermented Chardonnay from Burgundy. For sweet wine lovers, the Riesling from Niagara is your best bet.

Château Vitallis Vieilles Vignes Pouilly-Fuissé 2017 (91 pts)

Enjoy my wine recommendations from this Release! Cheers!

Red Wine:

  • CANTINA SAN PAOLO AGLIANICO 2017 - IGP Campania, Italy (#473132) (XD) - $14.95  88 pts  wine review
  • ALVIDES TINTO ROBLE TEMPRANILLO 2016 - DO Ribera del Duero, Spain (#010699) (XD) - $16.95  88 pts  wine review
  • TEDESCHI VALPOLICELLA SUPERIORE 2017 - DOC, Veneto, Italy (#012726) (XD) - $17.95  88+ pts  wine review
  • DOMAINE LES PINS CUVÉE LES ROCHETTES BOURGUEIL 2017 - AP, Loire, France (#478263) (XD) - $17.95
  • LAFAGE CAYROL VIEILLES VIGNES CARIGNAN 2016 - IGP Côtes Catalanes, Roussillon, France (#494039) (XD) - $18.95  89 pts  wine review
  • FRANÇOIS VILLARD L'APPEL DES SEREINES SYRAH 2016 - France (#012978) (D) - $19.95  88 pts  wine review
  • GÉRARD BRISSON LES CHARMES LA LOUVE MORGON 2018 - AC, Beaujolais, France (#012028) (XD) - $20.95  90 pts  wine review
  • RUPERT & ROTHSCHILD CLASSIQUE 2016 - WO Western Cape, South Africa (#717991) (XD) - $24.95  89 pts  wine review
  • VILLA ANTINORI RISERVA CHIANTI CLASSICO 2015 - DOCG, Tuscany, Italy (#540971) (XD) - $29.95
  • LAZZERETTI BRUNELLO DI MONTALCINO 2013 - DOCG, Tuscany, Italy (#318352) (XD) - $46.95  91+ pts  wine review
  • LES CAILLOUX CHÂTEAUNEUF-DU-PAPE 2016 - AC, Rhône, France (#012982) (D) - $65.95  92+ pts  wine review
Cantina San Paolo Aglianico 2017 (88 pts)François Villard L'appel des Sereines Syrah 2016 (88 pts)

White Wine:

  • DE ANGELIS OFFIDA PECORINO 2018 - DOCG, Marche, Italy (#577734) (XD) - $13.95  88 pts  wine review
  • ROCKWAY FERGIE JENKINS LIMITED EDITION RIESLING 2017 - VQA Twenty Mile Bench, Niagara Escarpment, Ontario, Canada (#485326) (M) - $16.95
  • HUGEL GENTIL 2017 - AC Alsace, France (#367284) (XD) - $17.95
  • STADT KREMS GRÜNER VELTLINER 2018 - Certified sustainable, DAC Kremstal, Austria (#295626) (XD) - $18.95
  • MOMO ORGANIC SAUVIGNON BLANC 2018 - Marlborough, South Island, New Zealand (#009167) (XD) - $19.95  88 pts  wine review
  • AUNTSFIELD SINGLE VINEYARD SAUVIGNON BLANC 2019 - Certified sustainable, Southern Valleys, Marlborough, South Island, New Zealand (#663286) (XD) - $21.95  90 pts  wine review
  • CHATELAIN LES CHARMES POUILLY-FUMÉ 2017 - AC, Loire, France (#727990) (XD) - $27.95  90+ pts  wine review
  • DOMAINE SÉGUINOT-BORDET CHABLIS 2018 - AC, Burgundy, France (#289371) (XD) - $28.95  91 pts  wine review
  • CHÂTEAU VITALLIS VIEILLES VIGNES POUILLY-FUISSÉ 2017 - AC, Burgundy, France (#360495) (XD) - $31.95  91 pts  wine review
  • J.L. CHAVE SÉLECTION BLANCHE HERMITAGE BLANC 2015 - AC, Rhône, France (#387357) (XD) - $75.95  FE
Auntsfield Single Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc 2019 (90 pts)

Sparkling Wine:

  • LA MASCOTA EXTRA BRUT ROSÉ SPARKLING - Traditional method, Argentina (#011806) (XD) - $19.95  88+ pts  wine review
La Mascota Extra Brut Rosé Sparkling (88+ pts)

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  • Sunday, January 19, 2020

Hecht & Bannier Côtes du Roussillon-Villages 2010 (France) - Wine Review

wine review is this lovely 2010 Roussillon-Villages red wine that I purchased back in 2013 when it came through LCBO VINTAGES on . I had the pleasure of tasting this wine with co-founder Gregory Hecht at the Halpern Enterprises portfolio tasting later that same year, and was pleasantly surprised to see it return to LCBO VINTAGES on .

Although this wine is no longer available at the LCBO, you should be able to get your hands on the latest vintage through Halpern Enterprises.

Hecht & Bannier Côtes du Roussillon-Villages 2010 (91 pts)

Tasting Note:

HECHT & BANNIER CÔTES DU ROUSSILLON-VILLAGES 2010 - AC, Midi, France (#142802) (XD) - $23.95
A blend of Grenache from the Catalan Hills, Mourvèdre, high-altitude Syrah, and small amounts of Carignan and Lledoner Pelut that was raised in a combination of tanks, demi muids, and large oak casks. Mature deep garnet colour. Aromas of dried herb and dark berries mingle with wet schisty mineral, smoke, and hints of wet forest floor. It is medium+ bodied with more dried herbal, dark berry, schisty mineral, and smoke flavours. Acids are still quite juicy and mouth-watering. There's some warmth on the mid-palate, but it doesn't intrude on enjoyment. Fine, velvety tannins have fully integrated, offering a smooth mouthfeel, developing a nice, slightly chalky grip with each passing sip. Savoury mineral with dried dark berry and earthy notes linger on the very long finish. Drinking beautifully at 10 years from vintage. I wouldn't hold on to this much longer. Score: 91 pts

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  • Monday, January 13, 2020

Olarra Clásico Reserva 2009 (Spain) - Wine Review

After enjoying the recent string of lovely wines from Bodegas Olarra Group, for wine review I dive into my cellar and open a 2009 Rioja that I purchased nearly 5 years ago from the LCBO VINTAGES Release.

This delicious red wine only appeared to show up at the LCBO once, but the latest vintage should be available via Charles Jewett at Trilogy Wine Merchants.

Olarra Clásico Reserva 2009 (90 pts)

Tasting Note:

OLARRA CLÁSICO RESERVA 2009 - DOCa Rioja, Spain (#423541) (XD) - $18.95
A blend of mostly Tempranillo with Grenache and Mazuelo (a.k.a. Carignan) in support, this has a generous bouquet of complex spices, fig, dried dark berry, floral pastille, sweet tobacco, and wood spice aromas rising out of the glass. It's medium-full bodied, mouthwatering and juicy on the palate with savoury, earthy, fig, dried berry, and tobacco flavours. A touch of alcoholic heat on the mid-palate, but otherwise quite balanced. Tannins are well-integrated with a nice chalky textured mouthfeel. Excellent finish length that is earthy and savoury with wood spice and tobacco notes. Should continue to drink well over the next 2-3 years. Score: 90 pts

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  • Wednesday, January 8, 2020

January 11, 2020 LCBO VINTAGES Release Wine Picks: Smart Buys

LCBO Wine Picks: January 11, 2020 VINTAGES Release
Happy New Year! The January 11, 2020 LCBO VINTAGES Release is the first release of the new year (and decade) and it is the annual "Smart Buys" Release - a theme that is perennially featured in the first release of the year. All of the wines from the thematic, as well as the rest of the release will appear on shelves by this Saturday.

We'll begin with the "Smart Buys" theme that focuses on great-value wines. After the many expensive releases leading up to the holidays. This release is very much wallet-friendly, but at the same time does offer some quality wines to add to your collection. Nearly all of the 27 wines featured in the "Smart Buys" section are under $20, with six included among my top wine picks. Smart Buys in white wines include a Chenin Blanc from South Africa and a Falanghina from Italy. Red wines that are Smart Buys include a pair of relatively mature wines - a Tempranillo from Rioja and a Pinot Noir from Willamette Valley. Lastly, red wine blends from the Smart Buys section include a 50% Syrah, 30% Grenache, and 20% Mourvèdre blend from Costières de Nîmes, and a 60/40 Shiraz/Grenache blend from McLaren Vale.

Brella Pinot Noir 2014 (90 pts)Marques de La Concordia Viña Alarde Reserva 2013 (89 pts)

Paxton AAA Shiraz/Grenache 2017 (90 pts)Château Saint-Louis La Perdrix l'Envol 2018 (88 pts)

Tussock Jumper Chenin Blanc 2019 (88 pts)Riolite Il Poggio Guerriero Falanghina Beneventano 2017 (87 pts)

Among my red wine picks from the rest of the Release, there are a pair of lovely Rhône reds. The Cairanne is a blend of 50% Grenache, 30% Syrah, and 20% Carignan, while the Lirac is a blend of 55% Grenache, 15% Cinsault, 15% Syrah, 10% Carignan, and 5% Mourvèdre. Lastly, the Corbières is a blend of 60% Syrah and 40% Grenache.

Château de Montfaucon Baron Louis Lirac 2015 (91 pts)Camille Cayran Cave de Cairanne Le Chêne Noir 2017 (89 pts)

There are no blends among the rest of my white wine recommendations. But there are some lovely dry wines include a pair of Chardonnays, a Pinot Gris, a Sauvignon Blanc, and a Muscadet which is made with the Melon de Bourgogne varietal. For sweet wine lovers, there are quite a few lovely offerings - an off-dry Riesling from Alsace, a medium dry Riesling from New Zealand, and finally, a mature Riesling Kabinett from Germany.

Pierre Sparr Sol Calcaire Riesling 2015 (89 pts)The Doctors' Riesling 2018 (89 pts)

Babich Black Label Pinot Gris 2017 (88+ pts)LaCheteau Muscadet 2018 (87 pts)

Enjoy my top wine recommendations from this Release! Cheers!

Red Wine:

  • CHÂTEAU SAINT-LOUIS LA PERDRIX L'ENVOL 2018 - AP Costières de Nîmes, Rhône, France (#010514) (XD) - $12.95  88 pts  wine review
  • PIATTELLI RESERVE CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2016 - Luján de Cuyo, Mendoza, Argentina (#010968) (XD) - $16.95  89 pts  wine review
  • BRELLA PINOT NOIR 2014 - Willamette Valley, Oregon, USA (#514786) (XD) - $16.95  90 pts  wine review
  • FINCA LOS MAZA RESERVA MALBEC 2016 - Uco Valley, Mendoza, Argentina (#010772) (XD) - $17.00  89 pts  wine review
  • CAMILLE CAYRAN CAVE DE CAIRANNE LE CHÊNE NOIR 2017 - AP Côtes du Rhône-Villages, France (#010006) (XD) - $17.00  89 pts  wine review
  • CHÂTEAU DE TRÉVIAC CORBIÈRES 2017 - AP, Midi, France (#670505) (D) - $17.95
Piattelli Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2016 (89 pts)Finca Los Maza Reserva Malbec 2016 (89 pts)

  • MARQUES DE LA CONCORDIA VIÑA ALARDE RESERVA 2013 - DOCa Rioja, Spain (#010548) (XD) - $17.95  89 pts  wine review
  • PAXTON AAA SHIRAZ/GRENACHE 2017 - McLaren Vale, South Australia (#149898) (XD) - $19.95  90 pts  wine review
  • FLAT ROCK PINOT NOIR 2018 - VQA Niagara Escarpment, Ontario, Canada (#001545) (XD) - $21.95  90+ pts  wine review
  • UNDURRAGA TERROIR HUNTER CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2016 - Cauquenes, Maule Valley, Chile (#630350) (XD) - $24.95  FE
  • AMAYNA SYRAH 2016 - Leyda Valley, Chile (#143529) (XD) - $28.95  FE
  • CHÂTEAU DE MONTFAUCON BARON LOUIS LIRAC 2015 - AP, Rhône, France (#013438) (XD) - $29.95  91 pts  wine review
Flat Rock Pinot Noir 2018 (90+ pts)

White Wine:

  • TUSSOCK JUMPER CHENIN BLANC 2019 - WO Western Cape, South Africa (#480764) (XD) - $12.95  88 pts  wine review
  • LACHETEAU MUSCADET 2018 - AP, Loire, France (#010697) (XD) - $13.95  87 pts  wine review
  • RIOLITE IL POGGIO GUERRIERO FALANGHINA BENEVENTANO 2017 - IGP, Campania, Italy (#010950) (D) - $15.95  87 pts  wine review
  • PIERRE SPARR SOL CALCAIRE RIESLING 2015 - AC Alsace, France (#010683) (D) - $18.95  89 pts  wine review
  • DR. SIEMENS SERRIGER WÜRZBURG FEINHERB RIESLING KABINETT 2010 - Prädikatswein, Mosel, Germany (#524827) (M) - $18.95  FE
  • BABICH BLACK LABEL PINOT GRIS 2017 - Estate grown and bottled, certified sustainable, Marlborough, South Island, New Zealand (#447417) (XD) - $19.95  88+ pts  wine review
  • TWO RIVERS CONVERGENCE SAUVIGNON BLANC 2018 - Certified sustainable, Marlborough, South Island, New Zealand (#277707) (XD) - $19.95
  • THE DOCTORS' RIESLING 2018 - Marlborough, South Island, New Zealand (#012321) (M) - $19.95  89 pts  wine review
  • BACHELDER MINERALITÉ DE L'OREGON CHARDONNAY 2015 - Willamette Valley, Oregon, USA (#273334) (XD) - $24.95
  • BACHELDER WISMER-FOXCROFT N. 2 CHARDONNAY 2015 - VQA Twenty Mile Bench, Niagara Escarpment, Ontario, Canada (#547299) (XD) - $44.95

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