First image of this post
  • Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Crasto 2018 (Portugal) - Wine Review



wine review is a delicious blend of Douro red grape varieties from Portugal. The 2017 vintage of this red wine will be coming to LCBO VINTAGES on .

It is produced by Quinta do Crasto, an estate whose name comes from the Latin castrum meaning "Roman fort", and its history dates far back into ancient times, with the first mention of its wine production dating back to 1615. Between the years of 1758 and 1761, 335 large granite markers were installed around the Douro Valley to delineate the first ever Demarcated Region in the world. One of these pillars can still be seen by the century-old farm house at Quinta do Crasto.

In the early part of the 20th century, Quinta do Crasto was purchased by the founder of the renowned Constantino wine house, Constantino de Almeida. Following his death in 1923, his son Fernando Moreira d’Almeida took over the management of Quinta do Crasto. In 1981, Leonor Roquette (daughter of Fernando Moreira d’Almeida) and her husband Jorge Roquette took over majority ownership as well as the management of the estate. With their sons, Miguel and Tomás Roquette, the fourth generation of the family began the process of renovating and expanding the vineyards, while also starting the production of Douro DOC table wines such as this Crasto Red.

Crasto 2018 (89 pts)

Tasting Note:

CRASTO 2018 - DOC Douro, Portugal (#81588) (XD) - $18.95
A blend of traditional Douro grape varieties Touriga Nacional, Tinta Roriz, Touriga Franca, and Tinta Barroca, and raised mostly in stainless steel tanks. Fresh, wild dark berry aromas lift out of the glass followed by some floral, schist mineral, purple fruit, and savoury earthy notes. It's medium+ bodied with lovely schist mineral and wild dark berry flavours supported by fresh, juicy acidity and smooth, fine-grained, and slightly chalky mineral tannins. Fine mineral, dark berry, and floral flavours linger on the long, balanced, mouth-watering, and textured finish. Enjoy over the next 3-5 years. Recommended buy. Score: 89 pts


First image of this post
  • Saturday, March 28, 2020

Scattered Earth Bush Vine Cinsault 2018 (South Africa) - Wine Review

wine review is a delicious, wallet-friendly, and intriguing Cinsault from South Africa that will arrive in LCBO VINTAGES on .

Scattered Earth is a relatively new brand of wines - launched within the last couple of years - and created by South Africa's co-operative - KWV. The Scattered Earth brand follows the learnings of The Mentors brand. With Mentors, the story is about innovation and experimentation, along with regionality. The exciting new winemakers created a micro-winery within KWV, and used what they learned about The Mentors line to create a range of Scattered Earth wines that are still regionally specific, and created on a fairly small scale, but bigger than Mentors so that they could be produced in larger quantities.

Cinsault is one of the parent grapes of the hybrid Pinotage, and it is uncommon to find Cinsault on its own in a bottle of wine. The grapes for this Cinsault come from Bush Vines, a system of perfectly straight rows of uniform height and short trunks. The Bush Vines are free-standing and best-suited to low-vigour vineyards in hot, drier climates, such as those found in the Western Cape in South Africa. Bush Vines tend to produce smaller crops with smaller berries that have thicker skins, resulting in much more concentrated colour and flavours. Let's see how this straight Cinsault is tasting tonight...

Scattered Earth Bush Vine Cinsault 2018 (88 pts)

Tasting Note:

SCATTERED EARTH BUSH VINE CINSAULT 2018 - WO Western Cape, South Africa (#13350) (XD) - $12.95
Aged in oak for 8-10 months and enclosed by screw cap. Fresh, fruity nose of red berry, raspberry, cherry notes with floral, violet, and some rustic earthiness, dried herb and spice notes that add intrigue. It is medium-full bodied with impressive concentration on the palate. Ripe flavours of red berry, raspberry, cherry, and strawberry give way to rustic earthy and smoky wood spice notes. It has juicy acidity, while medium level tannins are well-integrated and have some structure. Nicely balanced with earthy, wood spice and touches of dark chocolate on the finish, with very good length. Would pair nicely with lamb burgers. Score: 88 pts


First image of this post
  • Wednesday, March 25, 2020

13th Street June's Vineyard Riesling 2019 (Niagara) - Wine Review

For wine review, I have this lovely Riesling from Niagara that I was first introduced to when the 2011 13th Street June's Vineyard Riesling showed up in LCBO VINTAGES nearly 6 year ago to the day. I have tasted this wine on a few occasions since that time, and it has always been delicious.

13th Street Winery was founded by 1998 and purchased in 2008 by the current owners who have deep roots within the Niagara community - John & June Mann and Doug & Karen Whitty. The winery evolved from a desire to create exceptional wines that reflect the unique terroir of Niagara, while also providing a place for guests to congregate, escape, relax, discover, experience and learn.

The grapes for this lovely Riesling come from a vineyard named after June Mann, one of the owners of 13th Street. June's Vineyard sits at the base of the Niagara Escarpment, located on 5th Avenue, west of Seventh Street Louth, and has a distinctive terroir with significant quantities of decomposed yellow limestone amongst the clay loam soils. The Riesling vines were planted in 1999 with Alsatian clone 49, and combined with the soils on the site impart a stony minerality on top of the ripe fruit and flowery tones that come from this particular clonal variant of Riesling.

The 2019 vintage began slow and wet, but was quite warm during the summer months, allowing for full phenolic maturity. The quality of the grapes was very good to excellent with high acidity and concentrated flavours.

This delicious white wine makes regular appearances to VINTAGES and this latest edition will also be on shelves across Ontario very soon as it arrives as part of the upcoming LCBO VINTAGES Release.

13th Street June's Vineyard Riesling 2019 (90 pts)

Tasting Note:

13TH STREET JUNE'S VINEYARD RIESLING 2019 - VQA Creek Shores, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#147512) (D) - $19.95
Screw cap. Fresh, fragrant and pretty with floral aromas surrounding notes lime citrus, white peach, and whiffs of limestone minerality. It's medium-dry on the concentrated, slightly fleshy palate with honeyed, orange citrus, peach, and tangy lime flavours lifted by racy acidity. Chalky textured with touches of minerality on the mid-palate. Very good length on the long, tangy, minerally, and slightly dry finish. Enjoy over the next 5-6 years. Score: 90 pts


First image of this post
  • Sunday, March 22, 2020

Boasso Barolo del Comune di Serralunga d'Alba 2015 (Piedmont) - Wine Review

Italy has been hit very hard by COVID-19, so for wine review, I opened this lovely Barolo from Piedmont.

It is produced by the Azienda Agricola Boasso Franco, a family-run winery that started producing it's own wines from its family-owned vineyards in the early 1970's. It is located in Gabutti, a first-class sub-zone within the commune of Serralunga d'Alba and managed by Franco Boasso and his sons, Ezio and Claudio. The wines are produced from their 4.5 hectares of vineyards that are located in the sub-zones of Meriame and Margheria, as well as Gabutti, with special attention, dedication, and conviction to produce great wines (like this Barolo) from prime quality grapes.

The age-worthy wines are produced at Boasso are thanks to green harvesting, taking great care in the vineyard, and selecting the optimal time for harvest. Nebbiolo grapes for this Barolo are hand-harvested, fermented in stainless steel tanks, then aged for 36 months in new oak casks, followed by 6 months in bottle before release.

You can show your support for Italy by picking up this excellent Italian wine when it arrives at the LCBO as part of the upcoming LCBO VINTAGES Release.

Boasso Barolo del Comune di Serralunga d'Alba 2015 (91 pts)

Tasting Note:

BOASSO BAROLO DEL COMUNE DI SERRALUNGA D'ALBA 2015 - DOCG, Piedmont, Italy (#109116) (XD) - $39.95
Fragrant nose of nutmeg, wood spice, and ripe red cherries surrounded by earthy, forest floor notes. Hints of orange and floral also appear out of the glass. On the full-bodied palate, it has lovely, balanced aroma replays of ripe red cherry, earth, forest floor, rose floral, and nutmeg flavours. Acids are juicy and mouth-watering, while the smooth, structured tannins have some grip, but are very approachable right now. Orange, rose floral, earthy, and cedar oak spice notes linger on the long, structured, mouth-watering finish. Enjoy over the next 10+ years. Score: 91 pts


First image of this post
  • Friday, March 20, 2020

Lakeview Cellars Malbec 2016 (Niagara) - Wine Review

While I'm practising self-isolation and social distancing, wine review is a lovely Malbec from Niagara... yes, you read that right!

Lakeview Cellars was founded in 1991 by Eddy Gurinskas. Today, Lakeview Cellars is the oldest label that forms the group of brands from Lakeview Wine Co., a division of Niagara's Diamond Estates.

Malbec is not commonly grown in Niagara, so I was delightfully surprised to find this delicious wine while visiting Lakeview Wine Co. back in January. This Malbec is produced using grapes from a small, single vineyard called the Southshore Vineyards that is located in the Niagara Lakeshore sub-appellation in Niagara-on-the-Lake. The small block of 1.5 acres has sandy loam soils and is situated on a relatively flat piece of land, with a gentle slope right on the shores of Lake Ontario, ensuring uninterrupted sunlight exposure. Malbec ripens at roughly the same time as Merlot, thus requiring a fairly long growing season. The grape for this vintage were harvested beginning in late October, then fermented in 5,000 L tank, then aged in Hungarian oak barrels (new and older) for 18-24 months.

The 2017 Malbec (which winemaker Tom Green tells me is" dynamite") was just bottled last month and I expect it to hit shelves next month. Meanwhile, this lovely 2016 continues to be available at the winery can be ordered online with free shipping over $50 throughout the month with promo code MARCH. You can order this and a bottle of the 2017 Lakeview Cellars Fumé Blanc and have them shipped to your door for free.

Lakeview Cellars Malbec 2016 (89 pts)

Tasting Note:

LAKEVIEW CELLARS MALBEC 2016 - Southshore Vineyards, VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $34.95
The medium-high intensity nose offers sweet, ripe red fruits of plum, raspberry, and cherry aromas that are nuanced with stony mineral, smoky, and white pepper notes. The palate is medium-bodied with smooth, well-integrated tannins and food-friendly acidity. Some stewed cherry, black cherry, blackberry flavours come through on the flavour profile, along with smoky and peppery spice notes. Earthy, dark plum, and dark berry notes linger on the long finish. Enjoy over the next 1-2 years. Score: 89 pts


First image of this post
  • Wednesday, March 18, 2020

March 21, 2020 LCBO VINTAGES Release Wine Picks: Classic Euro Regions + Okanagan + Annapolis

LCBO Wine Picks: March 21, 2020 VINTAGES Release
In these extraordinary times with COVID-19 at top of mind, this post seems almost irrelevant in the grand scheme of things. However, since the LCBO is still open (with reduced hours as of Thursday, March 19) and I think we would all like to step back and take a breather from all of the Coronavirus pandemic news, the next batch of new wines arriving at the LCBO are from the LCBO VINTAGES Release. The main theme of the Release focuses on wines from Classic Euro Regions, while the mini-theme looks at the Canadian wine regions of the Okanagan and Annapolis Valleys. So long as LCBO outlets remain open, the new wines from this Release will be on shelves across Ontario by this Saturday.

We begin with the main theme that looks at eleven classic wine regions of Europe: Bordeaux, Burgundy, Champagne, Rhône, Loire, Rioja, Tuscany, Veneto, Piedmont, Mosel, and Port. These are some of the world's most venerable and venerated wine regions, and with twenty wines featured as part of this theme, six are included among my top wine picks. From Hautes-Côtes de Beaune in Burgundy is a Pinot Noir, while the Champagne is a blend of 52% Pinot Noir and 48% Chardonnay. Also from France, there are a pair of very nice Rhône reds - the Côtes du Rhône is a blend of 70% Grenache, 15% Mourvedre, and 15% Syrah, while the Châteauneuf-du-Pape is also primarily Grenache with Mourvedre and Syrah completing the blend. From Italy, the Amarone from Veneto consists of 70% Corvina, 25% Rondinella, and 5% Molinara. Last but not least, there is a very nice Riesling Kabinett from the Mosel.

The mini-feature on wines from the Okanagan (British Columbia) and Annapolis (Nova Scotia) Valleys features a combined total of just five wines. While none of the wines from the mini-theme made my list of wine picks, there are a couple of noteworthy wines such as the Burrowing Owl Merlot ($40, #585737) from British Columbia, and the now-iconic Benjamin Bridge Nova 7 Sparkling ($25, #256289) sweet bubbly from Nova Scotia.

From my red wine picks, the Portuguese red is a blend of 35% Tinta Roriz (Tempranillo), 25% Tinta Barroca, 25% Touriga Franca, and 15% Touriga Nacional, while the red from South Africa is made with 53% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Cinsaut, 12% Petit Verdot, 10% Malbec, 9% Cabernet Franc, and 1% Merlot. The last red that is a blend is the 2010 Rioja that consists of 85% Tempranillo, 10% Graciano, and 5% Maturana. The rest of the reds are all single varietal wines made with Garnacha from Spain, Cabernet Franc from Niagara, Malbec from Argentina, and a Shiraz and Pinot Noir that are both from Australia.

Innocent Bystander Pinot Noir 2018 (89 pts)

Among my top white wine picks, the white wine from Greece is a blend of 60% Malagouzia, 20% Asyrtiko, and 20% Chardonnay, while the White Meritage from Niagara consists of 80% Sauvignon Blanc and 20% Semillon. There are a pair of delightful single varietal white wines from Italy - Grillo and Greco. Lastly, there are a pair of delicious Rieslings - an off-dry version from Alsace, and a medium-sweet version from Niagara.

Gorghi Tondi Coste a Preola Grillo 2018 (88 pts)

In sparkling wines, the Cava is a blend of 65% Parellada, 20% Xarel-lo, and 15% Macabeu, while the fortified wine from Niagara is a blend of Merlot, Cabernet, and Shiraz that was fortified with a Cabernet Franc brandy.

Enjoy my wine recommendations from this Release! Cheers and stay safe!

Red Wine:

  • EL VIVERO DE USALDÓN COLECCIÓN ORIGEN GARNACHA 2018 - Finca Casa Balaguer, DO Alicante, Spain (#13624) (XD) - $15.95
  • CASA FERREIRINHA PAPA FIGOS TINTO 2018 - DOC Douro, Portugal (#11157) (XD) - $15.95
  • CAVE SPRING CABERNET FRANC 2017 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#523001) (XD) - $17.95
  • YALUMBA ORGANIC SHIRAZ 2018 - South Australia (#280883) (XD) - $17.95
  • ANDELUNA ANDUCO LIMITED EDITION MALBEC 2017 - Uco Valley, Mendoza, Argentina (#12025) (XD) - $19.95
  • XAVIER VIEILLES VIGNES CÔTES DU RHÔNE 2016 - AC, Rhône, France (#12987) (XD) - $20.95

  • INNOCENT BYSTANDER PINOT NOIR 2018 - Yarra Valley, Victoria, Australia (#178897) (XD) - $22.95  89 pts  wine review
  • LE RICHE RICHESSE 2016 - WO Stellenbosch, South Africa (#13320) (XD) - $23.95
  • DOMAINE MAZILLY PÈRE & FILS CLOS DU BOIS PRÉVOT BOURGOGNE HAUTES-CÔTES DE BEAUNE 2017 - AC, Burgundy, France (#11904) (XD) - $28.95
  • CONDE DE VALDEMAR GRAN RESERVA 2010 - DOCa Rioja, Spain (#960427) (XD) - $29.95
  • LA FERME DU MONT VENDANGE CHÂTEAUNEUF-DU-PAPE 2017 - AP, Rhône, France (#309245) (D) - $52.95
  • MICHELE CASTELLANI CINQUE STELLE AMARONE DELLA VALPOLICELLA CLASSICO 2015 - Collezione Ca' del Pipa, DOCG, Veneto, Italy (#75127) (D) - $53.95

White Wine:

  • GÉRARD BERTRAND RÉSERVE SPÉCIALE VIOGNIER 2018 - IGP Pays d'Oc, Roussillon, France (#147975) (XD) - $14.95
  • MEGA SPILEO CUVÉE III WHITE 2018 - PGI Achaia, Greece (#14186) (XD) - $17.95
  • GORGHI TONDI COSTE A PREOLA GRILLO 2018 - DOC Sicilia, Italy (#11670) (XD) - $17.95  88 pts  wine review
  • CATENA ZAPATA APPELLATION TUPUNGATO CHARDONNAY 2017 - Tupungato, Mendoza, Argentina (#10964) (XD) - $19.95
  • ADAMO FOXCROFT RIESLING 2017 - Grower's Series, VQA Twenty Mile Bench, Niagara Escarpment, Ontario, Canada (#11236) (M) - $19.95
  • RUHLMANN VIEILLES VIGNES COTEAU DU BLETTIG RIESLING 2016 - AC Alsace, France (#10722) (D) - $21.95
  • MONTEMAJOR GRECO DI TUFO 2018 - DOCG, Campania, Italy (#10955) (XD) - $23.95
  • JACKSON-TRIGGS GRAND RESERVE WHITE MERITAGE 2018 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#360297) (XD) - $25.95
  • DR. LOOSEN ERDENDER TREPPCHEN RIESLING KABINETT 2017 - Prädikatswein, Mosel, Germany (#393181) (S) - $29.95

Sparkling Wine:

  • STARS BRUT NATURE RESERVA CAVA 2016 - Traditional method, DO, Spain (#515221) (D) - $16.95
  • THIRTY BENCH SPARKLING RIESLING - Traditional method, VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#469478) (XD) - $38.95
  • PIPER-HEIDSIECK BRUT CHAMPAGNE 2012 - AC, France (#409326) (XD) - $79.95

Fortified:

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


First image of this post
  • Monday, March 16, 2020

Lakeview Cellars Fumé Blanc 2017 (Niagara) - Wine Review

wine review is a yummy Fumé Blanc (i.e. Sauvignon Blanc) from Niagara. The French term "fumé" translates to "smoke", and is derived from a thick layer of fog that would cover the Loire Valley in France. In the new world, as they do at Lakeview Cellars, a wine brand of Lakeview Wine Co., which itself is a division of Niagara's Diamond Estates, they add some mild oak aging to an already delicious Sauvignon Blanc to add some complexity, depth, and smoky characters.

The grapes for Lakeview Cellars wines are sourced from their best vineyards in the Niagara Region, which are kissed by Lake Ontario's offshore breeze. Having tasted many delicious wines from Lakeview Cellars over the years, their reputation is based on their commitment to producing premium VQA wines at affordable prices.

This delicious white wine is only available through their winery in Niagara-on-the-Lake - which is still open for business at the time of this writing. However, due to heightened concerns about COVID-19, I would recommend you shop online through their web store (which is open 24/7) as they are offering free shipping on all orders over $50 this month with promo code MARCH.

Lakeview Cellars Fumé Blanc 2017 (88 pts)

Tasting Note:

LAKEVIEW CELLARS FUMÉ BLANC 2017 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $22.95
Screw cap. Ripe tropical fruit and melon aromas are layered over lime zest and subtle smoky characters. It is medium-full bodied on the ripe palate with more tropical fruit flavours like melon and pineapple, plus some leesy notes. The mild oak aging adds some pleasing smoky notes on the mid-palate, along with a very good mouthfeel, all supported juicy, balanced acidity. It's nicely balanced throughout with very good length on the lime citrus and tropical fruit flavoured finish with hints of smoke. Score: 88 pts


First image of this post
  • Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Lakeview Cellars Morgan Vineyard Kerner 2018 (Niagara) - Wine Review

wine review is a nice white wine from Niagara that is crafted from the aromatic Kerner grape varietal. I enjoyed the 2017 Lakeview Cellars Morgan Vineyard Kerner back in 2018 and am delighted to see Lakeview Wine Co. make this wine again due to popular demand.

Lakeview Cellars was established in 1991 and built a worldwide reputation as a leading producer of premium wines and is now part of the Diamond Estates Wine & Spirits Ltd. organization. With a passion for creating high quality wines, Lakeview Cellars wines are produced in limited quantities and only from vintages that their winemakers deem fit to bear the Lakeview label.

While the previous vintage of this wine showed up in LCBO VINTAGES in August 2018, the current vintage is available exclusively at the winery in Niagara-on-the-Lake and through their online web store.

Lakeview Cellars Morgan Vineyard Kerner 2018 (88 pts)

Tasting Note:

LAKEVIEW CELLARS MORGAN VINEYARD KERNER 2018 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#443614) (D) - $19.95
From the Morgan Vineyard within the Lincoln Lakeshore sub-appellation, the 20+ year old vines are planted on sandy soils. Screw cap. Generous aromas of floral, honeysuckle, orange blossom, and peach waft out of the glass, all of which come through nicely on the balanced, off-dry palate. Racy acids and spice notes keep things fresh on the mid-weighted palate. Adding further interest on the mid-palate are some grapefruit and herbally notes. Clean, crisp, and juicy on the finish, with very good length. Score: 88 pts


First image of this post
  • Tuesday, March 10, 2020

March 7, 2020 LCBO VINTAGES Release Wine Picks: California + Burgundy

LCBO Wine Picks: March 7, 2020 VINTAGES Release
I just returned from a lovely vacation in New Zealand where I also visited some wineries in Marlborough, Hawke's Bay, Waiheke Island, and Auckland - stay tuned for more about my visit. In the meantime, wines from the March 7, 2020 LCBO VINTAGES Release arrived on shelves across Ontario last Saturday. This Release features wines from two premium winegrowing regions - California is the main theme, while Burgundy is the mini-theme.

Of the twelve wines featured as part of the theme on California wines, there are a few solid gold offerings that are consistently top-quality wines. However, just one wine made my list of wine picks - a lovely Cabernet Sauvignon (which also includes 2% Petit Verdot & 2% Malbec) from the Red Hills Lake County AVA, just north of Napa Valley, that is planted on red volcanic soils that are shot through with obsidian rock.

The mini-theme seeks to find bargains in Burgundy - with some pretty good success as three of the seven wines featured are included among my wine recommendations. All three of my recommendations are white wines, with one made with Aligoté. The other two wines are both made with Chardonnay - one is a 1er Cru Chablis, while the other is from Montagny.

From my top red wine picks from this Release, the Saint-Roch is a blend of 80% Syrah and 20% Grenache from 60-year-old vines. From Italy, the Riserva Chianti Classico is made with 100% Sangiovese, while the Vino Nobile di Montepulciano Riserva is made with a minimum of 70% Sangiovese (Prugnolo Gentile) and a maximum of 30% of Canaiolo. From Bordeaux, the Saint-Émilion Grand Cru is a blend of 80% Merlot and 20% Cabernet Franc.

San Felice Il Grigio Riserva Chianti Classico 2015 (91 pts)Carpineto Vino Nobile di Montepulciano Riserva 2015 (91 pts)

Among my white wine recommendations, there is only one blend - a 68% Sauvignon Blanc and 32% Semillon combination from Australia. For sweet wine lovers, the Kew Riesling from Niagara is off-dry, while the Tawse Riesling further amps up the sweetness levels.

Enjoy my top wine recommendations from this Release! Cheers!

Red Wine:

  • QUINTA DAS CARVALHAS RED BLEND 2015 - DOC Douro, Portugal (#11150) (XD) - $13.95
  • SAINT-ROCH VIEILLES VIGNES SYRAH / GRENACHE 2017 - AP Côtes du Roussillon, France (#195107) (XD) - $16.95
  • DOMAINE TOURNON MATHILDA CHAPOUTIER SHIRAZ 2017 - Victoria, Australia (#327395) (XD) - $18.95
  • TABALÍ VETAS BLANCAS SYRAH 2016 - Viñedo Espinal, DO Limarí Valley, Chile (#213538) (XD) - $19.95
  • CHÂTEAU DES CHARMES ST. DAVID'S BENCH VINEYARD GAMAY NOIR DROIT 2017 - VQA St. David's Bench, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada (#346742) (XD) - $19.95
  • ROCKCLIFFE THIRD REEF SHIRAZ 2017 - Great Southern, Western Australia (#453209) (XD) - $19.95

  • REVEREND V MOUNT BARKER SYRAH 2017 - Great Southern, Western Australia (#13175) (XD) - $21.95
  • EL ENEMIGO CABERNET FRANC 2015 - Mendoza, Argentina (#11813) (XD) - $23.95  89 pts  wine review
  • SAN FELICE IL GRIGIO RISERVA CHIANTI CLASSICO 2015 - DOCG, Tuscany, Italy (#716266) (XD) - $29.95  91 pts  wine review
  • HIDDEN BENCH ESTATE ORGANIC PINOT NOIR 2017 - Unfiltered, VQA Beamsville Bench, Niagara Escarpment, Ontario, Canada (#274753) (XD) - $34.95  91 pts  wine review
  • CARPINETO VINO NOBILE DI MONTEPULCIANO RISERVA 2015 - DOCG, Tuscany, Italy (#368910) (D) - $34.95  91 pts  wine review
  • OBSIDIAN RIDGE ESTATE CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2017 - Obsidian Ridge Vineyard, Red Hills, Lake County, California, USA (#544940) (XD) - $49.95
  • CHÂTEAU SIMARD 2015 - AC Saint-Émilion Grand Cru, Bordeaux, France (#12090) (XD) - $49.95
Hidden Bench Estate Organic Pinot Noir 2017 (91 pts)El Enemigo Cabernet Franc 2015 (89 pts)

White Wine:

  • PAUL MAS SINGLE VINEYARD COLLECTION RESERVE VIOGNIER 2018 - Nicole Vineyard, IGP Pays d'Oc, Midi, France (#370098) (XD) - $13.95
  • KEW OLD VINE RIESLING 2015 - VQA Beamsville Bench, Niagara Escarpment, Ontario, Canada (#392126) (D) - $15.95
  • CHARLES MONTSERAT BOURGOGNE ALIGOTÉ 2018 - AC, Burgundy, France (#12026) (XD) - $16.95
  • ABRAS TORRONTÉS 2017 - Cafayate Valley, Salta, Argentina (#10965) (XD) - $16.95
  • SKUTTLEBUTT SAUVIGNON BLANC / SEMILLON 2018 - Margaret River, Western Australia (#47621) (XD) - $18.95
  • ESK VALLEY SAUVIGNON BLANC 2018 - Marlborough, South Island, New Zealand (#12638) (XD) - $21.95
  • TAWSE QUARRY ROAD ORGANIC RIESLING 2018 - VQA Vinemount Ridge, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#198853) (M) - $24.95
  • LA CHABLISIENNE VAILLONS CHABLIS 1ER CRU 2016 - AC, Burgundy, France (#11900) (XD) - $27.95
  • JOSEPH DROUHIN MONTAGNY 2017 - AC, Burgundy, France (#11903) (XD) - $32.95
  • GREYWACKE WILD SAUVIGNON 2016 - Marlborough, South Island, New Zealand (#282806) (XD) - $38.95  FE


First image of this post
  • Monday, March 9, 2020

Wines of Argentina Masterclass

Tastes of Argentina masterclass on wine

In , I had the pleasure of attending a Tastes of Argentina masterclass to explore the climatic and cultural factors shaping today's wines from Argentina. The event was hosted by The Consulate of Argentina, represented by Maria de los Angeles Arrieta, Deputy Consul General Trade Commissioner from Consulate General of Argentina, and leading the masterclass was Christopher Waters, Dip. WSET.

Elizabeth Luzza, Christopher Waters, and Maria de los Angeles Arrieta

Argentina is the 2nd largest country in South America and 8th largest country in the world. The winegrowing regions in Argentina are located approximately between 30° to 50° latitude - the sweet-spot for grape-growing in the Southern Hemisphere, and within the same latitude range as other major wine regions in the South Hemisphere such as Chile, South Africa, Australia, and New Zealand. There are six major factors that make the wines of Argentina unique and compelling.

We begin with the first factor - altitude. The vineyards in Argentina are planted within a range at the low-end of 1,000 ft. (300 m) all the way up to 10,000 ft. (3,000 m) above sea level. These high altitudes help create a variety of terroirs and microclimates that distinguish Argentina from the rest of the world. It was interesting to learn that even though vines are planted at high altitudes, many of the vineyards are located on plateaus and not on steep slopes. Planting on plateaus allows for easier monitoring during the grape-growing season as well as harvests that are less labour intensive. The highest vineyards are located in the cooler climate Salta region in northern Argentina, falling under the Winkler I index and are some of the coolest vineyards on the planet.

Terroir is the second major factor. Being one the largest countries in the world, spanning nearly 3,800 kilometres from north to south, the terroir is quite diverse due to wide-ranging altitudes and latitudes. With vineyards across large areas, it is only natural to see variability in soils. The presence of the Andes mountains and rainfall regime are also key factors that affect the terroir. All of these factors contribute to the great diversity of terroirs in Argentina.

The third major factor that makes the wines of Argentina unique is the climate - which is dry and continental. Argentina is very unique in that its traditional wine regions are located in high-altitude valleys, far from the oceans, making Argentina one of the few continental viticultural areas in the world. Moreover, because the Andes mountain range is to the west of Argentina, the cold winds and rain are essentially blocked, leaving only hot and dry winds to flow through the vines. This dryness of the climate helps maintain vineyard health almost completely naturally, which contributes to the production of organic wines.

Poor (or low fertility) soils make for better wine, and the low fertility soils in Argentina are fairly young and nutrient-deprived, with low organic matter, leading to desirable restricted vine growth. Poor soils also help promote natural development of the grape with genuinely distinct flavours.

Argentina also has great water purity, with the main source of irrigation in mountain valleys coming from meltwater in the Andes. This pure, snowmelt water from the mountains is free from any contaminants.

The final factor that makes Argentine wine unique is the new generation of winemakers. The first vitis vinifera wines were produced by the Spanish settlers in 1551. In 1853, the first School of Agriculture was formed and the wine industry subsequently expanded nationwide. The modernization of the wine industry in Argentina began in the 1990’s with local and foreign investments in the search for new markets to export Argentinian wine.

Today, a new generation of agricultural engineers, oenologists, and winemakers is taking the lead and breaking new ground when it comes to producing quality wines. Sebastian Zuccardi, Laura Catena, Luis Reginato, and Alejandro Vigil are just some of the people making exceptional wines in Argentina. With the help of technology applied to the study of soils and climate, new Geographical Indications (GIs) were discovered. Similar to systems used in other winegrowing regions, GIs indicate the origin of the grape and its differential attributes.

Together, the six factors of altitude, terroir, climate, soil, water, and the new generation of winemakers combine to give Argentina it’s unique habitat for creating cutting edge wines.

Tastes of Argentina masterclass on wine

Malbec is usually the first wine that comes to mind when thinking of Argentine wine. It is not surprising given that Malbec is the most widely planted and most important vitis vinifera varietal in Argentina. However, other varieties are becoming more prevalent. In addition to tasting some fine Malbec wines at this masterclass, the 12-wine structured tasting also featured wines made with Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Torrontés, and Cabernet Franc that are thriving in Argentina and gaining recognition across the globe. Tasting notes of my favourite wines from this wine tasting are provided below. Most of the wines are currently available or coming soon to the LCBO, or otherwise can be ordered via the Agent.

Tasting Notes:

CATENA ZAPATA WHITE BONES ADRIANNA VINEYARD CHARDONNAY 2016 - Gualtallary, Uco Valley, Mendoza, Argentina (#514844) (XD) - $125
A super premium Chardonnay with a clean, medium+ intensity nose of pear, apple, orchard fruit and some limestone mineral, earthy, leesy, and buttery characters, all of which show up beautifully on the nicely balanced, medium-full bodied palate. There's some structure to the fruit, along with a touch of bitterness. Earthy-mineral elements linger on the long, juicy finish. Agent: Noble Estates. Score: 93 pts

Catena Zapata White Bones Adrianna Vineyard Chardonnay 2016 (93 pts)El Esteco 1945 Old Vines Torrontés 2018 (92 pts)

EL ESTECO 1945 OLD VINES TORRONTÉS 2018 - Calchaquí Valley, Argentina (#010695) (XD) - $25.95
From vines planted in 1945, the lovely, highly aromatic nose jumps out of the glass with clean, floral and herbal aromas, along with hints of lemon citrus, white grapefruit, and salty mineral notes adding complexity. There's very good fruit on the medium-bodied palate with tension between the fruit and acids. Very nice aroma replays on the flavour profile. Excellent length on the long, earthy and minerally finish. Agent: Vins Dandurand. Score: 92 pts

EL ENEMIGO CABERNET FRANC 2015 - Gualtallary, Uco Valley, Mendoza, Argentina (#011813) (XD) - $23.95
From a specific plot of the Adrianna Vineyard in Gualtallary, the medium-high intensity nose delivers classic Cabernet Franc herbaceous, tobacco, and dark berry aromas along with some vanilla spice notes. It is medium+ bodied with very nice aromas replays on the flavour profile, plus some dark currant, dark cherry, and smoky notes adding complexity. Acids are crunchy, while tannins are smooth and refined. Long, balanced finish and should drink well over the next 5-6 years. Coming to LCBO VINTAGES Mar. 7, 2020. Agent: Noble Estates. Score: 89 pts

El Enemigo Cabernet Franc 2015 (89 pts)Trapiche Medalla Cabernet Sauvignon 2016 (89 pts)

TRAPICHE MEDALLA CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2016 - Lujan de Cuyo & Maipu, Mendoza, Argentina (#568865) (XD) - $19.95
Subtle nose of currant, cassis, and minerals with some earthy spice tones. It's full-bodied with structured tannins that are well-integrated and very approachable. It has very nice aroma replays on the flavour profile with more spice, currant, cassis, and dark berry flavours, lifted by bright acidity and crunchy fruit. Pleasing notes of dark berry, cherry with hints of floral linger on the finish. Arrived in LCBO VINTAGES Feb. 8, 2020. Agent: Vins Dandurand. Score: 89 pts

BODEGA DEL ARTE CLAROSCURO MALBEC 2017 - Tunuyan, Uco Valley, Mendoza, Argentina (XD) - $18.95
Although I seemed to be among the very few, this was my favourite of the Malbecs. The subtle nose gives off aromas of currant, cassis, mineral, and hints of earthy spice, while the full-bodied, crunchy palate has structured tannins that are well-integrated and quite approachable. It has also has very nice aroma replays with lovely spice, currant, cassis, and dark berry notes, supported by bright acidity. Appealing notes of dark berry, cherry, and hints of floral linger on the long finish. Available via Abcon. Score: 89 pts

Bodega del Arte Claroscuro Malbec 2017 (89 pts)Dona Paula 1350 Red Terroir Blend 2015 (89 pts)

DONA PAULA 1350 RED TERROIR BLEND 2015 - Gualtallary, Uco Valley, Mendoza, Argentina (#568956) (XD) - $20.75
This blend of 50% Cabernet Franc, 45% Malbec, and 5% Casavecchi has a medium-high, fairly complex nose that is Cab Franc dominant with red and black fruits, oak spice, and herbaceous notes. It is full-bodied and structured with a touch grippy and tight tannins, and nice aroma replays on the flavour profile. It has juicy acids and very good finish length. Best after 2-3 years of ageing. Agent: Select Wines & Spirits. Score: 89 pts


Blog Archive

Posts by Tag

Recent Posts

Recent Posts Widget




  The World Atlas of Wine 8th Edition

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