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  • Thursday, April 30, 2020

Nativ Greco di Tufo 2018 (Campania) - Wine Review



After enjoying the excellent 2013 Nativ Bicento a couple of years ago, for wine review I am delighted to try a Greco di Tufo from the same producer. This lovely white wine from Campania is a new arrival in LCBO VINTAGES on .

Nativ was founded in 2008 in the heart of Irpinia, within the town and comune in Paternopoli, Campania, by internationally renowned oenologist Dr. Mario Ercolino, and food science specialist Dr. Roberta Pirone. The goal was to produce wines of excellence from grapes that are typical of the region and territory. The wines should also exhibit of a sense of place. Each Nativ wine has a unique and unequivocal character, as it is produced through innovative winemaking methods, in the respect of tradition, always paying attention to keep the organoleptic structure of the grape unaltered.

Greco di Tufo is a clone of Greco Bianco and produced from ancient Greek vines called "Aminea Gemina". It was brought to Campania by the Pelagians, an ancient people from Thessaly in Greece. The name Tufo refers not only to one of the villages from which the wine comes from, but also the type of rock - which is made of ash ejected during an eruption and then compacts - that the village was built on. In Italy, this varietal was initially cultivated in the province of Naples and later introduced in some areas of the province of Avellino, in particular Tufo, whose sulphur-rich soil was particularly suitable for the cultivation of this grape variety.

Nativ Greco di Tufo 2018 (90+ pts)

Tasting Note:

NATIV GRECO DI TUFO 2018 - DOCG, Campania, Italy (#13640) (D) - $23.95
This Greco di Tufo was grown at an altitude of 450 metres above sea-level, on soils derived from the decomposition of clay rocks over thousands of years and are highly rich in calcium. Delicate, elegant nose is minerally off the top with honeyed citrus, yellow stone fruit, and whiffs of herb and smoke. It is medium+ bodied on the finely textured, off-dry palate with lively, citrusy acids that keeps the sweetness in check. Lovely aroma replays of honeyed citrus, yellow fruit, and flinty minerality on the flavour profile. Fine mineral and citrus notes linger on the persistent, dry finish, with excellent length. Recommended buy. Score: 90+ pts


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  • Monday, April 27, 2020

J. Lohr Riverstone Chardonnay 2018 (California) - Wine Review

white wine review is this popular California Chardonnay. It is a VINTAGES Essentials product - which means that it is always available in the VINTAGES section at LCBO outlets across Ontario. It is also available via online ordering at LCBO.com for delivery or pick-up at your local store.

In the late 1960's, Jerry Lohr embarked on a career change by seeking California grape growing regions for his first vineyard, eventually settling in the Central Coast. Founder of J. Lohr Vineyards & Wines, Mr. Lohr was one of a handful of early pioneers in the region, and among the first the realize the potential of Monterey and Paso Robles for producing high quality grapes and superb wines. In the early 1970's, he chose Monterey County’s Arroyo Seco (meaning "Dry Creek") district for its cool, windy climate and rocky soils ideally suited for Chardonnay. In 1972 and 1973, he planted his first vineyard - 280 acres in Arroyo Seco, near Greenfield.

Today, J. Lohr Vineyards & Wines is still family-owned and operated, with Jerry very much still involved with his children and co-owners Steve, Cynthia, and Lawrence. J. Lohr now includes more than 1,400 acres of cool-climate estate vineyards in the Arroyo Seco and Santa Lucia Highlands regions of Monterey County, 2,700 acres of vineyards in Paso Robles, and over 30 acres in Napa Valley.

This Chardonnay is crafted from grapes grown in the Arroyo Seco AVA, in the middle of the Salinas Valley in Monterey County, California. The grapes were grown primarily on Elder loam soils that cover a base of Riverstones - also called Greenfield Potatoes - which were deposited over thousands of years by the Arroyo Seco River. These stones limit soil depth from one to four feet, although roots are found at greater depths. This unique combination of sandy loam and cobblestone soil keeps the vines' vegetative growth and fruit in balance.

The 2018 vintage in Arroyo Seco was characterized by a cool spring with foggy mornings and evenings, and daytime highs in the 80's Fahrenheit (27°C) throughout the summer. Harvest began on October 4th, which was later than recent vintages, and was completed on November 8. This wine was barrel-fermented and aged for 7 to 9 months in new to fifth-fill American, Hungarian, and French oak barrels. The final blend of the 2018 Riverstone Chardonnay is comprised of nine Chardonnay clones, each adding complexity by adding its own flavour, texture, and acidity.

J. Lohr Riverstone Chardonnay 2018 (87 pts)

Tasting Note:

J. LOHR RIVERSTONE CHARDONNAY 2018 - Arroyo Seco Monterey, California, USA (#258699) (XD) - $19.95
Ripe, medium intensity nose of pineapple, banana, nectarine, and mango with some sweet vanilla and spice aromas. It is medium-full bodied and somewhat warming on the rich, sweet-ish palate with pineapple, banana, ripe apple, sweet vanilla, clove spice, and touches of buttery flavours supported by fresh, juicy acidity. Very good length on the finish with buttery, vanilla, and wood spice notes. Fans of California Chardonnay will like this. Serve well-chilled. Score: 87 pts


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  • Friday, April 24, 2020

Southbrook Poetica Chardonnay 2012 (Niagara) - Wine Review (Bottle 2)

wine review is a lovely organic and biodynamic Chardonnay from Niagara-on-the-Lake's Southbrook Vineyards. I last enjoyed the 2012 Southbrook Poetica Chardonnay in and wrote that it should evolve nicely over the next 5-6 years.

The story of Southbrook Vineyards begins in 1941 when William Redelmeier (current owner Bill Redelmeier's grandfather) purchased Don Head Farms on fertile lands north of Toronto. In 1991, with an appreciation of gourmet foods and fine wines, the Redelmeiers created a boutique winery and made their first cases of wine using the region's finest grape varietals.

After much success, an opportunity arose in 2005 thanks to Ann Sperling to acquire a 74-acre parcel of land in the warm Four Mile Creek sub-appellation of Niagara-on-the-Lake that was complete with 36 acres of ideally planted, well-selected varieties and top-notch clones. At that time, Bill commenced the creation of a fully biodynamic, organic and environmentally responsible winemaking operation with Ann beginning winemaking at the new facility just a year later, in 2006.

Southbrook Vineyards has evolved into one of Canada’s most innovative and forward-thinking vineyards and wineries. They believe in the importance of organic and biodynamic viticulture and have great respect for the soil, water and ecosystems upon which great wine, and our planet, rely on.

This vegan-friendly white wine is from Southbrook's top-of-the-line Poetica collection of wines that are only made only in the best vintages and in limited quantities to ensure the highest of quality. Only 222 cases of this lovely 2012 Poetica Chardonnay were produced.

While this vintage is long gone from shelves, the 2016 vintage is available for online ordering at the LCBO. In addition, the 2016 Southbrook Poetica Chardonnay is also available at the winery in Niagara-on-the-Lake via curbside pickup or delivery with free shipping across Canada until May 1, 2020. Let's see how the 2012 is tasting tonight...

Southbrook Poetica Chardonnay 2012 (92 pts)

Tasting Note:

SOUTHBROOK POETICA CHARDONNAY 2012 - VQA Four Mile Creek, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#366500) (XD) - $49.95
Bottle 353 of 2,664. Pours a medium-deep yellow gold colour that seemed to get darker in the glass. Mature, slightly oxidized aromas of almond, nut, biscuity, lemon, and waxy notes elegantly lift out of the glass. It is full-bodied on the rich, creamy palate with lovely beeswax flavours plus almond, nut and biscuit. Comes off a touch warming, while acids are still quite juicy and well-balanced. Savoury, earthy, and honeyed with touches of lemon and saline mineral on the long, long finish. Drink now. Score: 92 pts

Southbrook Poetica Chardonnay 2012 (92 pts) Back Label


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  • Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Spy Valley Sauvignon Blanc 2019 (New Zealand) - Wine Review

To celebrate , white wine review is this lovely Sustainably Crafted Sauvignon Blanc that I picked up while visiting the winery in New Zealand in March. More about my fabulous trip visiting wineries in New Zealand is coming soon, so stay tuned!

Spy Valley Wines was founded in the 1990's by Bryan and Jan Johnson in Waihopai Valley, Marlborough, and was named after its proximity to the international satellite communications monitoring station - a spy base - located just down the road. With a passion for the land, they established 180 hectares of estate vineyards on land considered too hard, too dry and too unfertile for wine and have become one of New Zealand’s most successful family-run wineries. The Johnson family chose the Spy Valley terroir back in 1993 for its stony, free draining riverbed terrain, with terraced vines enjoying both rocky riverside gravels and deeper clay and silt soils.

Today, Spy Valley’s commitment remains to the land and to the people who tend it as they are simply farmers at heart, nurturing soil and vine to cultivate the complexities in their wines. They are also focused on sustainability, which will ensure their guardianship of the land for generations to come.

The environment at Spy Valley has been one of the many secrets to their success. Since the beginning, Spy Valley Wines has been accredited under the New Zealand Sustainable Winegrowing initiative which promotes economically and environmentally sustainable vineyard management. Some of these initiatives include promoting biodiversity in and around the vineyards, using organic matter and compost to replace nutrients in the soils, minimising irrigation (2/3 of the vineyards are irrigation free), reducing energy use, and using low-toxic, environmentally-friendly products in the winery and vineyard.

Spy Valley abides by the principles to reduce, reuse and recycle throughout the winery. It is interesting to know that they crush their own bottles (which are made out of 96% recycled glass), providing them with a fine dust which they mulch and distribute below the grapevines to enhance light reflection.

This grapes for this Sustainably Crafted Sauvignon Blanc were grown in three places. The Waihopai Valley that has alluvial stony silt loams that are very well drained, the Mid Wairau Valley that has varying depths of alluvial silt loam over gravel and is well-drained, and from the Lower Wairau Valley which has deep alluvial silt deposits over gravel. All of the grapes were harvested in the cool mornings throughout the month of March and vinified in small vineyard batches until the final blending. It was predominantly fermented in stainless steel tanks, with several blocks fermented in barrels. The 2019 vintage was a very dry and warm growing season, bringing with it small yields with great fruit concentration.

This white wine always appears in LCBO VINTAGES (at least) once a year. The 2018 vintage showed up last Fall and small quantities are still available, while the 2019 vintage will arrive in LCBO VINTAGES in October later this year.

Spy Valley Sauvignon Blanc 2019 (89 pts)

Tasting Note:

SPY VALLEY SAUVIGNON BLANC 2019 - Marlborough, South Island, New Zealand (#686675) (XD) - $18.25
Screw cap. This Sustainably Crafted Sauvignon Blanc has a fresh, intense, yet restrained aromatics offering passion fruit, guava, lemon/lime citrus, gooseberry, nettle, and tropical fruit aromas with just a touch of leesy character. It is medium-full bodied on the richly concentrated and slightly creamy palate with very nice replays of passion fruit, guava, lime, and tart citrus flavours that are supported by fresh, vibrant acidity. Some tartness with mineral, citrus, and passion fruit notes linger on the finish, with very good length. Score: 89 pts


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  • Sunday, April 19, 2020

13th Street Gamay 2018 (Niagara) - Wine Review

red wine review is the latest Gamay from 13th Street Winery in Niagara. I was first introduced to this winery's Gamay nine years ago when I enjoyed their 2008 13th Street Gamay Noir that showed up in LCBO VINTAGES in .

The 2008 vintage would've been current owners John & June Mann's and Doug & Karen Whitty's first vintage as they purchased 13th Street Winery in September of that year, right around harvest time. 13th Street 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 and escape, to relax and discover, and to experience and learn. I have tasted many 13th Street wines over the years and have visited the winery on a number of occasions - always leaving with a smile.

Winemaker Jean Pierre Colas is one of Niagara's champions of Gamay and is known for producing some fine examples and 13th Street Winery has a few Gamay's in their portfolio. Including this wine, there is also the fine Whitty Vineyard Gamay and Sandstone Vineyard Gamay - both are lovely wines. The grapes for this particular Gamay are from select Niagara Peninsula vineyards, with harvest taking place in late September and early October, and vinified separately. The 2018 vintage was hot and humid, but luckily, the rains started in September and a freshened the grapes. Unfortunately, the rains did not stop and put pressure to pick early ripening reds, like Gamay, before disease set in. This meant that the grapes were sorted in the vineyard, as well as on the sorting table to ensure only pristine bunches were kept. The result was intense ripness of the grapes, but with lower yields. After fermentation in tanks, the wines were kept separate until the final blending and bottling which occurred in early June 2019.

This Gamay is a VINTAGES Essential listing at the LCBO and is always available at LCBO outlets across Ontario. In VINTAGES, the 2018 vintage should be on shelves soon - if not already. Having said that, this delicious red wine is available for purchase at the winery via Porch Pickup or contact-less delivery. As an added bonus, 13th Street is currently offering free shipping on any wine purchase (with no minimums!) for deliveries in Ontario. Simply use promo code FREE when you place your order.

13th Street Gamay 2018 (89 pts)

Tasting Note:

13TH STREET GAMAY 2018 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#177824) (XD) - $19.95
Fermented with minimal intervention and raised entirely in stainless steel tanks. Screw cap enclosure. This Gamay has a lovely dark plum, cherry, blackberry, and gentle spice nose with some savoury earthy characters and just a touch of floral. It's light-to-mid-weighted on the palate with light tannins and fresh acidity framing the spice, cherry, and red currant, and plum flavours. Nicely textured and well-balanced with very good length on the earthy-savoury finish. Enjoy over the next 2-3 years. Score: 89 pts


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  • Friday, April 17, 2020

Budureasca Premium Fetească Neagră 2016 (Romania) - Wine Review

wine review is an early sneak preview of a red wine from Romania that will be coming to LCBO VINTAGES on .

Budureasca is located in central-southeastern Romania and was inaugurated in 2013. It is one of the newest and largest wineries in Dealu Mare region. However, the Dealu Mare vineyard is an oasis of peace in the sunny hills and is an ancient place with deep roots in the history and culture of wine. Archaeological evidence found nearby suggests that this place has a particularly rich tradition of winemaking since the time of the Dacians or even their ancestors, the ancient Thracians.

The area includes numerous hills and valleys, from the Teleajen river in the west and up to the Buzau river in the east. The hilly massif, with its southern position, is an ideal place for growing vines. The Budureasca vineyards have an altitude between 175 metres and 400 metres and the area is favourable for growing both black and white grapes.

This particular wine is made with the Fetească Neagră (Black Maiden in English) varietal, an old pre-phylloxera black grape of Romanian-Moldovan origin that is still cultivated today in Romania and the Republic of Moldova. The grapes for this red wine come from vines more than 30 years old and were fermented in stainless steel tanks, followed by partial ageing in oak barrels for 5 months.

Budureasca Premium Fetească Neagră 2016 (87 pts)

Tasting Note:

BUDUREASCA PREMIUM FETEASCĂ NEAGRĂ 2016 - DOC-CMD Dealu Mare, Romania (#263913) (XD) - $15.95
100% Fetească Neagră from 30+ year old vines, 50% of which was aged in oak barrels for 5 months. Fresh, clean, medium+ nose of cherries, blackberry, bramble, and oak spice aromas. It is medium+ bodied and dry on the palate with soft, rounded tannins and flavours of dark berry, cherry, and wood spice. Acids are very good, while oak spice notes linger on the long finish, if a touch warming. A worthy exploration of Black Maiden. Score: 87 pts


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  • Wednesday, April 15, 2020

April 18, 2020 LCBO VINTAGES Release Wine Picks: Organic, Biodynamic & Sustainable + Sicily & Sardinia

LCBO Wine Picks: April 18, 2020 VINTAGES Release
The main theme of the April 18, 2020 LCBO VINTAGES Release focuses on Organic, Biodynamic, and Sustainable wines, while the mini-theme looks at wines from the Italian islands of Sicily and Sardinia. All of these wines should be on VINTAGES shelves at the top 51 stores only by Saturday, and with physical distancing measures in place for the foreseeable future you can expect to wait in long lines. To stay safe and save time, a better option might be to shop online from LCBO.com - the product code for each of my recommended wines below links directly to the LCBO website.

We begin with the main theme on eco-minded winemaking concepts to produce Organic, Biodynamic, and Sustainable wines. Organic wines use grapes grown without the use of chemical pesticides, herbicides or synthetic fertilizers, and contain a very small amount of sulfites. Of the six organic wines featured, two are recommended - a Pinot Noir from New Zealand, and a Chardonnay from Niagara. Biodynamic wines are organic wines as they follow a similar approach. In a nut shell, biodynamics take care of the vineyard as a single organism, emphasizing biodiversity of the land and creatures on it. Astrological influences and lunar cycles also play a part in biodynamic winemaking. Of the six biodynamic wines, one is included among my wine recommendations - a lovely Napa Valley Chardonnay. Sustainable winemaking strives for economic viability and social responsibility in an ecologically responsible manner, often borrowing the practices for organic and biodynamic winemaking. From the six sustainable wines featured, two are included among my top wine picks - a Fumé Blanc that is a barrel-fermented Sauvignon Blanc from Niagara, and a Cabernet Sauvignon from South Africa.

Simonsig Labyrinth Cabernet Sauvignon 2017 (89 pts)

From the mini-theme on wines from Sicily and Sardinia, there are six wines from Sicily and three from Sardinia, and just one from each region is included among my wine recommendations. From Sicily, there is an excellent Carricante from the northern slopes of Mount Etna. The lone wine from Sardinia is a Carignano (Carignan) that was grown at the southern end of the island.

Tornatore Etna Bianco 2018 (90+ pts)

Red wines from the main release include a pair of Rioja wines - at the low end is the Crianza that consists of 85% Tempranillo snf 15% Garnacha / Mazuelo, while at the high end is a Reserva that is made with 75% Tempranillo, 15% Garnacha, and 10% Graciano / Mazuelo. Also from Spain, the Priorat is a blend of 65% Grenache, 20% Cariñena, and 15% Cabernet Sauvignon. From Italy, the Riserva Chianti Classico is a blend of 95% Sangiovese and 5% Merlot, while the Côtes du Rhône from France consists of about 50% Grenache, and Syrah, Carignan, Cinsault and Counoise to complete the blend. Single varietal wines include a Pinot Noir and a Shiraz from Australia, while the Barolo is, of course, made with Nebbiolo.

Giant Steps Pinot Noir 2018 (91 pts)Penny's Hill Cracking Black Shiraz 2016 (90 pts)

Among my white wine picks from the rest of the Release, all are single varietal wines. From Loire, the Savennières is made with Chenin Blanc, while the Valdeorras is from northwestern Spain, a place known for producing fine wines made from the Godello varietal. For those that prefer sweeter wines, the off-dry Riesling from Niagara is your best bet.

Enjoy my wine recommendations from this Release! Stay home and stay safe!

Red Wine:

  • CVNE CUNE CRIANZA 2016 - DOCa Rioja, Spain (#39925) (XD) - $15.95
  • CASTELLO DI GABBIANO RISERVA CHIANTI CLASSICO 2015 - DOCG, Tuscany, Italy (#216309) (D) - $18.95
  • CHÂTEAU DE MONTFAUCON CÔTES DU RHÔNE 2016 - AP, France (#13439) (XD) - $18.95
  • SARDUS PATER IS SOLUS CARIGNANO DEL SULCIS 2017 - DOC, Sardinia, Italy (#13452) (XD) - $19.95
  • MOMO ORGANIC PINOT NOIR 2018 - Marlborough, South Island, New Zealand (#163972) (XD) - $19.95
  • PENNY'S HILL CRACKING BLACK SHIRAZ 2016 - McLaren Vale, South Australia (#396473) (XD) - $22.95  90 pts  wine review
  • MAIUS ASSEMBLAGE 2017 - DOQ Priorat, Spain (#13745) (XD) - $23.95
  • SIMONSIG LABYRINTH CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2017 - WO Stellenbosch, South Africa (#744375) (XD) - $24.95  89 pts  wine review
  • GIANT STEPS PINOT NOIR 2018 - Yarra Valley, Victoria, Australia (#219725) (XD) - $29.95  91 pts  wine review
  • R. LOPEZ DE HEREDIA VIÑA TONDONIA RESERVA 2007 - DOCa Rioja, Spain (#356337) (XD) - $59.95
  • PECCHENINO SAN GIUSEPPE BAROLO 2015 - DOCG, Piedmont, Italy (#181396) (XD) - $65.95

White Wine:

  • LYRARAKIS VÓILA ASSYRTIKO 2018 - Vegan, PGI Crete, Greece (#14420) (XD) - $16.95
  • FEATHERSTONE SAUVIGNON BLANC 2019 -VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#89011) (XD) - $17.95
  • LAKEVIEW CELLARS VIOGNIER 2017 - Lake Lodge Farms, VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#646307) (D) - $19.95
  • CAVE SPRING ESTATE CHARDONNAY 2017 - Cave Spring Vineyard, VQA Beamsville Bench, Niagara Escarpment, Ontario, Canada (#256552) (XD) - $19.95
  • ORGANIZED CRIME WILD FERMENT RIESLING 2017 - VQA Beamsville Bench, Niagara Escarpment, Ontario, Canada (#11952) (D) - $21.20
  • TORNATORE ETNA BIANCO 2018 - DOC, Sicily, Italy (#577676) (XD) - $24.95  90+ pts  wine review
  • A COROA GODELLO 2018 - DO Valdeorras, Spain (#13746) (XD) - $24.95  FE
  • DOMAINE DU PETIT MÉTRIS CLOS DE LA MARCHE SAVENNIÈRES 2017 - AC, Loire, France (#250571) (XD) - $26.95  FE
  • HIDDEN BENCH FUMÉ BLANC 2018 - Rosomel Vineyard, VQA Beamsville Bench, Niagara Escarpment, Ontario, Canada (#68825) (XD) - $29.95
  • GRGICH HILLS ESTATE GROWN CHARDONNAY 2016 - Made with organic grapes, Napa Valley, California, USA (#346304) (XD) - $67.95

Sparkling Wine:

  • CÀ DI RAJO EXTRA DRY PROSECCO - DOC Treviso, Italy (#13830) (XD) - $16.95


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  • Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Yealands Sauvignon Blanc 2018 (New Zealand) - Wine Review

Following up on the delicious 2019 Yealands Sauvignon Blanc that I enjoyed late last year, tonight I am trying the 2018 vintage to see how it is holding up two years from vintage.

With the 2018 edition of this white wine, Yealands celebrated its 10th year of operations. Back in 2008, founder Peter Yealands set out to become one of the world’s most sustainable wine producers. He determined that the only way to craft truly beautiful, award-winning wines was in partnership with nature - a philosophy that holds true today and forms the basis of their approach to winemaking.

Peter Yealands is a third generation Marlborough native and his trademark "can do" attitude is the stuff of legend. The former founder had an irrepressible imagination, inexhaustible energy, and an unswerving passion for the land. He also had a career of leading-edge innovation across many industries. At the winery, they installed a large solar panel array on their winery roof, as well as bailed and burned their vine prunings to heat their water. The vision is to push boundaries, think innovatively and produce some of the most exceptional, and sustainable, wines around.

While this vintage is long gone from LCBO shelves, the latest vintage is the 2019 edition with its new label is widely available at LCBO outlets across Ontario. Let's see how the 2018 is tasting tonight...

Yealands Sauvignon Blanc 2018 (89 pts)

Tasting Note:

YEALANDS SAUVIGNON BLANC 2018 - Marlborough, South Island, New Zealand (#277731) (XD) - $16.95
Screw cap and vegan-friendly, this NZ Sauvignon Blanc has an elegant, restrained nose of guava and passionfruit aromas followed by some lemon citrus, mint, and thyme notes. It's medium-bodied with bracing acidity that freshens the palate. Ripe and tart with flavours of lemon/lime citrus, guava, and gooseberry, with touches of pear and thyme. Well-balanced with touches of mineral on the mid-palate and very good length on the juicy, lip-smacking finish. Score: 89 pts


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  • Sunday, April 12, 2020

Johanneshof Cellars Gewürztraminer 2019 (New Zealand) - Wine Review

wine review is this lovely Gewürztraminer that I picked up from the winery in Marlborough during my recent trip to New Zealand - just before all of the COVID-19 restrictions came into place here in Canada. More about my visit to Marlborough and other New Zealand winegrowing regions is coming soon, so stay tuned.

Johanneshof Cellars is an artisan boutique winery located in the mountainous locality of Koromiko, about 20 km north of Blenheim. It was established in 1991 by Edel Everling and Warwick Foley, two winemakers who were from opposites part of the globe.

Edel Everling, M.Sc.Oenology, grew up in Rheingau, Germany, in a winemaking family that had been making wine on both sides of her family for five generations. From an early age, Edel was helping in the vineyards overlooking the river Rhine, where vines grow on very steep slopes. The knowledge she gained here was beneficial when she met Warwick in New Zealand and helped him establish Marlborough's first steep hillside vineyard in 1977. Edel continued her travels and finished her degree in viticulture and oenology at Geisenheim University in Germany. She also worked at the world-renowned Wine Research Institute of Geisenheim in the Department of Grape Breeding and Grafting under the leadership of well-respected wine scientist Prof. Dr. Helmut Becker, which gave her an in-depth insight into vine growing and crafting wines from a scientific angle. Further knowledge was gained by working at different wineries and a distillery.

Warwick Foley is a 5th generation New Zealander and grew up on the property where Johanneshof Cellars resides. As a teenager, he planted one of the first vineyards in Marlborough on their steep hillside land in Koromiko in 1977, just four years after the first commercial grapes were introduced to Marlborough. This vineyard consisted of mainly Riesling, but was re-planted to Pinot Noir and named "Maybern Vineyard" in honour of Warwick's parents May and Bernhard. Warwick met Edel in the early 1980's while learning about winemaking and working at New Zealand's first wine research station in Te Kauwhata, near Hamilton. He took up viticulture and winemaking training in Germany, followed by working at various wineries in Rheingau and Baden.

Upon returning to New Zealand, Edel and Warwick combined European wine traditions with modern technology and founded one of Marlborough's pioneering artisan wineries to produce a collection of outstanding fine wines from New Zealand, such as this Gewürztraminer.

Johanneshof Cellars is renowned for producing multi-award winning table wines, classic Methode Traditionnelle sparkling wines, and some outstanding spirits such as Brandy and Grappa. They are part of New Zealand Winegrowers, an accredited member of New Zealand Sustainable Winegrowing, and a founding member of Methode Marlborough.

Unfortunately, the lovely wines from Johanneshof Cellars are currently not available in Ontario - or anywhere Canada for that matter. However, they are seeking representation and would love to have their wines in our market. If any Agents read this, you can inquire directly with the winery or reach out to me and I can connect you with Edel and Warwick.

Johanneshof Cellars Gewürztraminer 2019 (91 pts)

Tasting Note:

JOHANNESHOF CELLARS GEWÜRZTRAMINER 2019 - Marlborough, South Island, New Zealand (D) - $31 NZD
Screw cap. This hand-harvested Gewürztraminer has a gorgeous, intense, focused, and very pure nose of lychee, rose floral, lemon citrus, and musky spice aromas. The concentrated, full-ish palate is off-dry with lovely lychee, floral and spice replays with touches of marzipan on the mid-palate. Bracing acids are juicy and keep things nicely balanced. More rose and lychee notes complete the dry finish, with excellent length. Top NZ Gewürztraminer! Score: 91 pts


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  • Thursday, April 9, 2020

Pascual Toso Chardonnay 2018 (Argentina) - Wine Review

wine review is the companion white wine to the 2017 Pascual Toso Malbec red wine that I enjoyed last week. Like the Malbec, this Chardonnay from Argentina is widely available at LCBO outlets across Ontario.

Pascual Toso was established in 1890 and the Estate line of wines are an expression of their passion, commitment to quality, and terroir of Barrancas. The Estate wines come from specially selected vines that are 15 to 25 years old, on high trellises, and watered by a drip irrigation system which allows them to manage the flow of water to obtain the best results. The portfolio of the Estate line of wines includes the varietals Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Torrontes.

Pascual Toso Chardonnay 2018 (86 pts)

Tasting Note:

PASCUAL TOSO CHARDONNAY 2018 - Mendoza, Argentina (#634808) (XD) - $12.95
The fragrant smoky, toasty nose gives way to buttery, ripe apple, pear, and honey aromas. It's full-bodied on the ripe palate with buttery, ripe apple, pear, toasty oak flavours, along with hints of vanilla. It has food-friendly acidity, a toasty mid-palate, and very good length on the buttery, vanilla, and apple flavoured finish. Score: 86 pts


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  • Monday, April 6, 2020

FRESH Sparkling Rosé (Ontario) - Wine Review

wine review is this casual, fun, and easy drinking rosé sparkling wine from Niagara.

FRESH Wines are crafted in Niagara-on-the-Lake by Lakeview Wine Co., a division of Diamond Estates, with a focus on creative, high-quality wines. FRESH is the perfect Niagara wine brand for intrepid wine drinkers who dare to try something a little different.

Each wine from the FRESH line is crafted from 100% Ontario grapes, grown by Ontario farmers and their families. FRESH wines are available in several popular varieties, respectfully priced and readily available to join you on your personal journey of possibilities.

This appealing bubbly is widely available at the LCBO, but you can also stay at home and order online directly from Lakeview Wine Co. where they are offering free shipping on orders of $50+ with promo code LWCLOVE. You can get this bottle along with a few other Lakeview wines I enjoyed recently.

FRESH Sparkling Rosé (86 pts)

Tasting Note:

FRESH SPARKLING ROSÉ - Méthode Cuve Close, VQA Ontario, Canada (#341347) (D) - $16.95
A blend of 60% Riesling and 40% Gamay made in the Charmat method. Soft, gentle nose offers honeysuckle, red berry, floral, and lemon pith aromas. The palate is off-dry with strawberry, citrus, floral, honeysuckle, and grapefruit flavours. Mousse is a touch frothy while clean, fresh acidity livens the palate. Floral, grapefruit, and citrus notes linger on the pithy finish. Easy drinking bubbly ideal as an aperitif. Score: 86 pts


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  • Friday, April 3, 2020

Pascual Toso Malbec 2017 (Argentina) - Wine Review

wine review is a nice Malbec from Argentina that is widely available at LCBO outlets across Ontario.

It is produced by Bodegas Toso, one of the oldest and most prestigious wineries of Argentina. Pascual Toso left his hometown of Canale D’Alba, in Piamonte, Italy and set forth towards Argentina in the mid-1880's. Being closely involved in the development of the family wine business in Piedmont, he saw a promising future for winemaking in Mendoza, settling in the region and using his expertise to establish his first winery in 1890.

Pascual Toso expanded his business at the beginning of the 20th century by acquiring vineyards in Maipú, and at his “Las Barrancas” estate, he built another winery dedicated to producing and growing the finest grapes. With a passion for making quality wines, they continue to remain faithful to it's principles of tradition, authenticity, and innovation.

As part of the "Everything is Coming Up Orange this Summer" promotion, each bottle of this Malbec comes with a neck tag that includes a Balsamic Salmon Kebab recipe. For other fine recipes to pair with this Malbec, please visit Eurovintage.com.

Pascual Toso Malbec 2017 (88 pts)

Tasting Note:

PASCUAL TOSO MALBEC 2017 - Mendoza, Argentina (#35170) (XD) - $14.95
The medium intensity nose offers dark berry, blackberry, black cherry, and violet aromas mingling with oak spice notes. It is medium+ bodied and a touch fleshy on the palate with flavours of dark berry, blackberry, and oak spice flavours supported by fresh, lively acidity. Tannins are soft and well-integrated with a slightly dry, chalky textured mouthfeel. Dark berry, oak, and milk chocolate notes linger on the dry finish, with very good length. Score: 88 pts

Balsamic Salmon Kebab Recipe


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  • Wednesday, April 1, 2020

April 4, 2020 LCBO VINTAGES Release Wine Picks: Easter + Portugal

LCBO Wine Picks: April 4, 2020 VINTAGES Release
While most of us continue to stay at home and practice physical distancing, the LCBO remains open as it is deemed an essential service, albeit with reduced hours and now closed on Mondays until the foreseeable future, the upcoming LCBO VINTAGES is nearly upon us and features wines for Easter Feasts in its main theme, while the mini-theme focuses on wines from Portugal. All of these wines will be on VINTAGES shelves across Ontario by this .

It is unlikely we will see any large, family gatherings for Easter this year. However, if you are inclined to host a virtual gathering, there are 14 wines featured as part of theme on wines for Easter Feasts, with 4 wines included among my top wine picks. For vegetarian fare, try the Rosé that is made with Pinot Noir, or the Sancerre that is made using Sauvignon Blanc. If you are inclined to make Turkey during these times, try the Radford Dale Vinum Chenin Blanc or Grüner Veltliner as both will be delicious.

The mini-theme on wines from Portugal is indeed rather small - with just five wines included as part of the feature. My lone wine recommendation is the 2017 Crasto which is a blend of traditional Douro varietals Touriga Nacional (35%), Tinta Roriz (30%), Touriga Franca (25%), and Tinta Barroca (10%). I enjoyed the 2018 Crasto and would expect much of the same in the 2017.

From my red wine recommendations, there are a pair of quality Rhône reds - the Côtes du Rhône-Villages is a blend of 70% Grenache, 20% Syrah, and 10% Mourvèdre, while the Costières de Nîmes is a blend of 70% Grenache, 20% Mourvèdre, and 10% Syrah. The latest edition of the Pétalos is a blend of 90% Mencía, 4% Alicante Bouschet, and the balance other varietals, while the Te Kahu is a blend of 63% Merlot, 18% Cabernet Sauvignon,14% Cabernet Franc, 3% Petit Verdot, and 2% Malbec. Lastly, the Gran Selezione Chianti Classico is a blend of 80% Sangiovese, 13% Merlot, and 7% Malvasia Nera. Single varietal wines include a Cinsault, a lovely Barolo made with Nebbiolo, and a Sicilian wine made with Nero d'Avola.

Boasso Barolo del Comune di Serralunga d'Alba 2015 (91 pts)Craggy Range Te Kahu 2016 (90 pts)

Scattered Earth Bush Vine Cinsault 2018 (88 pts)

Among my white wine picks, the Roussillon Blanc is a blend of 80% Grenache Blanc and 20% Roussanne, while the Côtes du Rhône is a blend of 60% Viognier, 15% Roussanne, 10% Marsanne, 8% Clairette, 5% Bourboulenc, and 2% Grenache Blanc. From Veneto, the Soave is a blend of 85% Garganega and 15% Trebbiano di Soave. For Riesling wine lovers, the version from Australia is dry, while the version from Ontario has some sweetness. If you want a Riesling more for after dinner sipping, although it will be quite fine for the table, the Late Harvest Riesling from New Zealand is the one to buy.

13th Street June's Vineyard Riesling 2019 (90 pts)Greywacke Late Harvest Riesling 2011 (91 pts)

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

Red Wine:

  • SCATTERED EARTH BUSH VINE CINSAULT 2018 - WO Western Cape, South Africa (#13350) (XD) - $12.95  88 pts  wine review
  • CUVÉE SABRINE CÔTES DU RHÔNE-VILLAGES 2016 - AC, Rhône, France (#538496) (XD) - $15.95
  • FERZO MONTEPULCIANO D'ABRUZZO 2016 - DOP, Abruzzo, Italy (#573675) (D) - $18.95  88 pts  wine review
  • CRASTO 2017 - DOC Douro, Portugal (#81588) (XD) - $18.95
  • CHÂTEAU DE NAGES VIEILLES VIGNES COSTIÈRES DE NÎMES 2017 - AP, Rhône, France (#40964) (XD) - $19.95
  • DESCENDIENTES DE J. PALACIOS PÉTALOS 2017 - DO Bierzo, Spain (#446484) (XD) - $24.95
  • CRAGGY RANGE TE KAHU 2016 - Single vineyard, Gimblett Gravels, Hawke's Bay, North Island, New Zealand (#493023) (XD) - $29.95  FE  90 pts  wine review
  • BOASSO BAROLO DEL COMUNE DI SERRALUNGA D'ALBA 2015 - DOCG, Piedmont, Italy (#109116) (XD) - $39.95  91 pts  wine review
  • PLANETA SANTA CECILIA NOTO 2015 - DOC, Sicily, Italy (#354589) (XD) - $49.95  FE
  • CASTELLO DI AMA SAN LORENZO GRAN SELEZIONE CHIANTI CLASSICO 2015 - DOCG, Tuscany, Italy (#418897) (XD) - $56.95
Ferzo Montepulciano d'Abruzzo 2016 (88 pts)

White Wine:

  • SAINT-ROCH VIEILLES VIGNES CÔTES DU ROUSSILLON BLANC 2018 - AP, Midi, France (#175232) (XD) - $15.95
  • RADFORD DALE VINUM CHENIN BLANC 2017 - WO Stellenbosch, South Africa (#13338) (XD) - $17.95
  • E. GUIGAL CÔTES DU RHÔNE BLANC 2018 - AC, Rhône, France (#290296) (XD) - $18.95
  • ALLRAM STRASS GRÜNER VELTLINER 2018 - Vegan, certified sustainable, DAC Kamptal, Austria (#14189) (XD) - $19.95
  • SONS OF EDEN FREYA RIESLING 2018 - Eden Valley, South Australia (#12652) (XD) - $19.95
  • PIEROPAN SOAVE CLASSICO 2018 - DOC, Veneto, Italy (#946848) (XD) - $19.95
  • 13TH STREET JUNE'S VINEYARD RIESLING 2019 - VQA Creek Shores, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#147512) (D) - $19.95  90 pts  wine review
  • ROGER & DIDIER RAIMBAULT SANCERRE 2018 - AC, Loire, France (#82255) (XD) - $32.95
  • QUEENSTON MILE BARREL FERMENTED CHARDONNAY 2017 - Estate bottled, VQA St. David's Bench, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada (#10137) (XD) - $35.00  FE  91 pts  wine review
  • DE MORGENZON RESERVE CHENIN BLANC 2017 - WO Stellenbosch, South Africa (#339762) (XD) - $46.95  FE
Queenston Mile Barrel Fermented Chardonnay 2017 (91 pts)

Rosé Wine:

  • MALIVOIRE VIVANT ROSÉ 2019 - VQA Beamsville Bench, Niagara Escarpment, Ontario, Canada (#498535) (XD) - $19.95

Dessert Wine:

  • GREYWACKE LATE HARVEST RIESLING 2011 - Marlborough, South Island, New Zealand (#12637) (S) (375 mL) - $29.95  FE  91 pts  wine review


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