Showing posts with label 2015. Show all posts
Showing posts with label 2015. Show all posts

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  • Friday, November 8, 2019

Marqués de Cáceres Excellens Cuvée Especial 2015 (Spain) - Wine Review



vegan-friendly red wine review is the Wine of the Month that just arrived at the LCBO as part of the LCBO VINTAGES Release.

It is produced by Marqués de Cáceres, one of more widely known Spanish producers with many of their wines available at the LCBO.

The grapes for this particular wine come from vineyards that are 20 to 35 years old and located in and around Cenicero in Rioja Alta from both higher and cooler parcels (600 metres altitude), as well as lower grounds (400 metres altitude). These vineyards are planted on gentle hillsides, as well as on the town's highest altitudes with steep inclines. Soil composition is mainly clay and limestone, with some parcels having more iron-rich subsoils.

It is interesting to note that 100% of the harvest was completed manually, parcel by parcel. In addition, grapes are only harvested after they reach maturity, meaning that they may have to return to some of the vineyards several times depending on the orientation of the vines or if these are planted at different altitudes prior to picking the grapes.

Marqués de Cáceres Excellens Cuvée Especial 2015 (87 pts)

Tasting Note:

MARQUÉS DE CÁCERES EXCELLENS CUVÉE ESPECIAL 2015 - Vegan friendly, DOCa Rioja, Spain (#010684) (XD) - $17.00
This Tempranillo spent 14 months in medium-toasted French oak barrels, and at least a further 12 months in bottle prior to release. This has a quiet nose that offers ripe red cherry, sweet vanillin oak, clove and plum aromas. It is full bodied with oak spice, clove, licorice, and tarry notes surrounding a core of dark cherry. There's juicy, food-friendly acidity, while tannins are firmly structured and chalky and could use a couple of years to soften. Wood spice and earthy notes linger on the finish, with very good length. Score: 87 pts


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  • Friday, October 18, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tasting Note:

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


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  • Monday, October 7, 2019

CVNE (Spain) Wine Tasting with Maria Larrea

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

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

CVNE Wine Tasting with Winemaker María Larrea

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tasting Notes:

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

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

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

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

CVNE Imperial Gran Reserva 2008 (91 pts)


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  • Monday, September 9, 2019

Destino Fifth Empire Red Blend 2015 (Portugal) - Wine Review

wine review is a new red wine blend from Portugal that showed up at the LCBO recently as part of the LCBO VINTAGES Release.

The wines for The Fifth Empire Wine Co. are produced at historic Quinta do Portal, a family-owned and -operated producer that is well-known for making Port wines since the late 19th century. However, the family has also been producing Douro wines since the early 1990's, with winemaking of The Fitfth Empire Wines overseen by Paulo Coutinho who has been with Quinta do Portal since 1994.

The Fifth Empire is led by Roger Sobreiro with the goal of producing authentic Portuguese wines for enjoyment across the globe. Ancient Greece was the first empire, while Ancient Rome was the second empire. Christianity was the third empire, and a fusion of both the first and second empires. Europe was the fourth empire with its Great British and Anglo-Saxon hegemony. The fifth empire is the concept of a global Portuguese empire with spiritual and temporal power, based on Daniel 2 and the Book of Revelation interpreted by Antonio Vieira. Beyond territory, The Fifth Empire is the spiritual and linguistic embodiment of Portugal spread throughout the world.

Let's see how this Portuguese red is tasting in Canada tonight...

Destino Fifth Empire Red Blend 2015 (88+ pts)

Tasting Note:

DESTINO FIFTH EMPIRE RED BLEND 2015 - DOC Douro, Portugal (#646901) (XD) - $22.95
A blend of 45% Tinta Roriz, 30% Touriga Franca, and 25% Touriga Nacional that was aged for 9 months in French oak. Medium+ intensity nose of blackberry, oak spice, vanilla and black plums. The medium-bodied palate offers more blackberry and vanilla notes supported by mouth-watering acidity and finely-grained tannins. There's some earthy nuances on the mid-palate that linger through to the long finish joined by some woody spice notes. Enjoy over the next 3 years. Score: 88+ pts


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  • Monday, July 22, 2019

For A Song Cabernet Sauvignon 2015 (Washington) - Wine Review

wine review a pleasant, everyday Cabernet Sauvignon from Washington that arrived at the LCBO over the weekend as part of the LCBO VINTAGES Release.

It is produced by For a Song Wines, a collaborative effort between winemaker Kyle Johnson and wine importer/distributor Mike de Maar. They both had a dream of creating value-driven wines sourced from great vineyards they knew, and would also have great appeal for the price. They are also committed to bringing you the best everyday wines from the heart of the Pacific Northwest.

For a Song’s Washington winemaker is Kyle Johnson - they also produce wines in Oregon by working with the winemakers at Boedecker Cellars. Kyle brings over 10 years of viticultural and winemaking experience from Chateau Ste. Michelle, Olsen Estates and Purple Star Wines. His philosophy is that wine should be accessible, approachable and affordable, with a focus on creating well-balanced and food-friendly wines that truly showcase the best that the Pacific Northwest has to offer.

The wines from For A Song are packaged to evoke feelings of nostalgia for days gone by, when we all had time to slow down and listen to the music - and the team at For A Song hope you’ll be inspired to do the same.

For A Song Cabernet Sauvignon 2015 (88 pts)

Tasting Note:

FOR A SONG CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2015 - Columbia Valley, Washington, USA (#666057) (XD) - $19.95
This blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (92%), Petit Verdot (6%), and Syrah (2%) spent 10 months in French oak, of which 15% was new. The medium+ intensity nose offers plummy, black cherry, black currant, and cocoa aromas with hints of cedar wood. The full-bodied palate has notes of dark plum, blackberry, cedar wood spice, and chocolate flavours. As it opens with time, it reveals some appealing dried herb, tea, and touches of evergreen characters that add complexity. There's fresh, food-friendly acidity, while tannins are finely-grained and rounded. Chocolate, wood, and herbal notes sing in harmony on the long finish. Score: 88 pts


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  • Monday, June 24, 2019

Queenston Mile Vineyard Portfolio Tasting (Spring 2019)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tasting Notes:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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  • Sunday, June 16, 2019

Château du Vieux Puit 2015 (Bordeaux) - Wine Review

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

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

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

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

Château du Vieux Puit 2015 (88 pts)

Tasting Note:

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


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  • Monday, June 3, 2019

Spy Valley Pinot Noir 2015 (New Zealand) - Wine Review

wine review is a lovely red wine for Pinot lovers that will be coming to LCBO VINTAGES on .

Spy Valley Wines was founded deep in the Waihopai Valley by Bryan and Jan Johnson in the 1990s, at a time when the Marlborough region was undergoing discovery. They established 180 hectares of estate vineyards on land that was considered too hard, too dry and too unfertile for wine. However, as this wine can attest too, as well as others from Spy Valley that I have tasted in the past, this couldn't be further from the truth.

This family-run winery began with a passion for the land. Today, it remains committed to the land and to the people who tend it, focusing on sustainability to ensure guardianship of the land for generations to come. Since the beginning, Spy Valley has been accredited under the New Zealand Sustainable Winegrowing scheme, an initiative that promotes economically and environmentally sustainable vineyard management that includes their own winery and vineyards, as well as their grower vineyards.

Fun fact: The winery is named after a spy base that is located just down the road from the winery.

Spy Valley Pinot Noir 2015 (89 pts)

Tasting Note:

SPY VALLEY PINOT NOIR 2015 - Southern Valleys, Marlborough, South Island, New Zealand (#734681) (XD) - $24.95
Screw cap. As it warms in the glass, this offers an appealing, medium+ intensity nose of red cherry, black cherry, tea leaf, floral, and subtle oak spice. It is medium-full bodied on the palate with chunky, mouthfilling tannins that have a slightly dusty texture to go along with juicy, balanced acids. Nice black cherry, beetroot, and tea leaf flavours. Hints of mocha on the finish, with very good length. Score: 89 pts


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  • Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Cave de Tain Grand Classique Crozes-Hermitage 2015 (Rhône) - Wine Review

wine review is a lovely bottle that first arrived in VINTAGES nearly , and I am happy to report that this delicious red wine is coming back to LCBO VINTAGES on with a couple of years of bottle age under its belt.

It is produced by Cave de Tain, a large co-operative that was founded in 1933 by Louis Gambert de Loche on the Hermitage slope in northern Rhône. With 1,000 hectares of vineyards that are meticulously maintained in five prestigious appellations - Hermitage, Crozes-Hermitage, Saint-Joseph, Cornas, and Saint-Péray - Cave de Tain is the leading producer of Cru wines in the northern Rhône Valley. Even though Cave de Tain is a co-operative, they own all of their vineyards. This allows the winemakers to select and vinify from individual plots to create wines that express their rich, unique and diverse terroirs.

Cave de Tain is a pioneer in areas such as sustainable winegrowing (certified since 2009), conservation of their unique grape varieties, developing winemaking knowledge that is passed down over four generations of winemakers, and investing in cutting-edge tools.

Northern Rhône and the Crozes-Hermitage Cru are famous for its Syrah as the terroir here offers a very rich expression of the varietal. This particular Crozes-Hermitage comes from the multi-faceted terroirs of more than 30 different plots of vineyards. The terroir here consists of predominantly granite soils in a fresher climate in the north, while in the south there are pebbly and filtrating soils of the Rhône and Isère.

Cave de Tain Grand Classique Crozes-Hermitage 2015 (90 pts)

Tasting Note:

CAVE DE TAIN GRAND CLASSIQUE CROZES-HERMITAGE 2015 - AC, Rhône, France (#572230) (XD) - $24.95
Cool, medium-high intensity nose is fairly complex with peppery, black cherry, meaty, black plum, and savoury earthy aromas. It is quite dense on the full-ish bodied palate with smooth, refined tannins and just a touch of chalky grippiness. Nicely balanced with more black pepper, black cherry and meaty flavours, plus some stony minerality on the mid-palate. Acids are juicy. Excellent length on the long, earthy-minerally-savoury finish. Enjoy this classic northern Rhône Syrah over the next 3-5 years. Score: 90 pts


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  • Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Altocedro La Consulta Select Blend 2015 (Argentina) - Wine Review

red wine review is a blend from Argentina that recently arrived in LCBO VINTAGES as part of the Release.

If you visit the Altocedro website, all you will find is a humble, down-to-earth video of owner and winemaker Karim Mussi Saffie - it's quite an interesting three-and-a-half minute watch. Altocedro is located in the premier winegrowing region of La Consulta, at the southern end of the Uco Valley in Mendoza, Argentina. Karim Mussi Saffie is the owner and winemaker. He uses sustainable growing practices to produce limited quantities of terroir-driven wines from vines that range up to 100 years of age. All harvesting, sorting, and crushing are done in individual batches by hand, while the grapes and wine move throughout the winery in a gravity flow system that was developed at the winery more than 100 years ago.

Even though this wine came to VINTAGES three months ago, there are still many bottles of this delicious red wine still available at your local LCBO.

Altocedro La Consulta Select Blend 2015 (89 pts)

Tasting Note:

ALTOCEDRO LA CONSULTA SELECT BLEND 2015 - La Consulta, Uco Valley, Mendoza, Argentina (#631770) (XD) - $24.95
Blend of 42% Malbec, 27% Cabernet Sauvignon, 22% Tempranillo, and 9% Syrah that was sustainably farmed and hand-harvested. It was also co-fermented and barrel-aged as a blend. The medium+ intensity nose offers compelling dark spice, blackberry, licorice and chocolate aromas with savoury touches. The aromas come through on the full-bodied, savoury palate with some minty notes. Tannins are smooth and well-integrated with a pleasant grippiness, while acids are fresh and nicely balanced. Very good length on the savoury-chocolatey finish. Score: 89 pts


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  • Tuesday, April 30, 2019

16 Mile Cellar Wine Tasting (2019)

16 Mile Cellar Wine Tasting (2019)
, I had the pleasure of tasting the latest wines from Niagara's 16 Mile Cellar. I was first introduced to 16 Mile Cellar in 2015 and at that time only tasted their Chardonnay wines.

On this day, I was able to taste their Pinot Noir, as well as their more recent Chardonnays. In the four years since, there have been some changes at the winery. Morgan Juniper is the new winemaker at 16 Mile Cellar. She previously worked at a Niagara's Tawse Winery and Pearl Morissette, in addition to gaining winemaking experience in Australia, Germany, and Alsace. While she did help finish some of the wines we tasted, 2018 was her first full vintage at 16 Mile Cellar.

In addition to Morgan taking us through the wines, Susan Barnacal, President of 16 Mile, was also in attendance and told us quite a few stories. 16 Mile Cellar is a small family-owned and -operated winery that was founded in 2010 by Susan and her husband Joseph Groia. It is located on 16 Mile Creek (hence the name) in St. Catharines, at the base of the Twenty Mile Bench. They farm using organic practices and grow only Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. In the early years, they purchased fruit for their wines. However, as the their own vines matured, they started using estate fruit beginning with the 2015 vintage for Pinot Noir and the 2018 vintage for Chardonnay.

Many thanks to André Proulx for hosting and the opportunity to taste these delicious wines from 16 Mile Cellar. My wine reviews of four of the wines (the fifth was a Pinot Noir barrel sample) are provided below.

Most of these wines are be available for purchase right now. 16 Mile Cellar is holding their annual Spring Open House this Saturday, May 4th at their winery & vineyard and is sure to be an afternoon of fun with complementary tastings, and much more.

16 Mile Cellar Chardonnay

Tasting Notes:

16 MILE CELLAR REBEL CHARDONNAY 2016 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#485243) (XD) - $22.95
Medium+ intensity nose has buttery, vanilla, pear and slightly mealy notes with air. On the medium-bodied and creamy palate it has nice aroma replays supported by bright acids. Expresses terroir with mineral, earth, and mealy notes with hints of vanilla on the long finish. Score: 88 pts

16 Mile Cellar Rebel Chardonnay 2016 (88 pts)16 Mile Cellar Civility Chardonnay 2015 (89 pts)

16 MILE CELLAR CIVILITY CHARDONNAY 2015 - VQA Creek Shores, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $29.95
From a few selected barrels, this is a touch mature with pear, apple amd subtle oak aromas, while the palate is medium-full bodied with bracing acidity and minerally, apple, pear, and a touch mealy flavours. Very good fruit concentrations. Long, juicy finish. Score: 89 pts

16 MILE CELLAR INCIVILITY PINOT NOIR UNFILTERED 2014 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $34.95
Medium-high intensity nose has earthy, cherry, strawberry, beetroot, and oak spice aromas. The palate is medium-bodied with soft, smooth, and refined tannins to go along with red-fruited raspberry, cherry, strawberry flavours and sweet oak spice notes. Long, oak-spiced finish. Various clones fermented separately prior to blending. Score: 89 pts

16 Mile Cellar Incivility Pinot Noir Unfiltered 2014 (89 pts)16 Mile Cellar Tenacity Pinot Noir Unfiltered 2015 (90 pts)

16 MILE CELLAR TENACITY PINOT NOIR UNFILTERED 2015 - VQA Creek Shores, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $50
100% estate fruit from Susan's Vineyard. Medium+ intensity nose is all dark berry, blackberry and dark cherry with oak spice aromas that develop complexities with air. It is medium-bodied with very good fruit concentration and pleasingly spicy replays. Bright acids are juicy, while supple tannins are structured. Long, dark berry notes on the finish. Fairly big Pinot, still somewhat young. Drink over the next 5-8 years. Score: 90 pts


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  • Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Wine Picks LCBO VINTAGES Release April 27, 2019: 2015 Euro Reds + Pacific Northwest

LCBO Wine Picks: April 27, 2019 VINTAGES Release
The upcoming April 27, 2019 LCBO VINTAGES Release features European Red Wines from the fantastic 2015 vintage in the main theme, while the mini-theme looks at cool wines from the Pacific Northwest. All of these wines, plus many more will be available on LCBO VINTAGES shelves across Ontario by this Saturday.

We'll begin with the main theme that features thirteen wines from the 2015 vintage that was a banner year across Europe. In this Release, the emphasis is on wines from France, Italy, and Spain, of which only two are included among my top wine picks - and both are from France. From Bordeaux, the Château Baracan is a blend of 40% Merlot, 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Cabernet Franc, and 5% Petit Verdot. From southern Rhône, the Lavau Rasteau is a 50/50 blend of Grenache and Syrah.

Lavau Rasteau 2015 (90 pts)Mission Hill Reserve Pinot Gris 2017 (89 pts)

Roserock Chardonnay 2016 (92+ pts)Sokol Blosser Pinot Noir 2015 (91 pts)

The mini-theme focuses on wines from the cool Pacific Northwest - namely Washington, Oregon, and British Columbia. Of the ten wines listed as part of this feature, three are included among my top wine recommendations. First up are a pair of excellent wines from Oregon - one is a Chardonnay, while the other is a Pinot Noir. My third pick from this theme is a dry Pinot Gris from British Columbia.

The majority of my red wine picks from this Release happen to be single varietal wines. However, the 2009 Bordeaux red is a blend of 58% Cabernet Sauvignon and 42% Merlot, while the 2012 Bordeaux red is a blend of 55% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Merlot, and 5% Cabernet Franc. From South Africa, the Rustenberg is a blend of Shiraz, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. A Malbec from Argentina, an Australian Shiraz, and a Pinot Noir from Chile are just a few of many delicious wines that can be found among my wine picks in this Release.

Moulins de Citran 2009 (91+ pts)Chakana Estate Selection Malbec 2016 (89 pts)

Jim Barry The Lodge Hill Shiraz 2016 (90 pts)Errázuriz Aconcagua Costa Pinot Noir 2017 (90 pts)

Among my white wine picks, all are single varietals wines. From Loire, the Muscadet is made with the Melon de Bourgogne grape, while the Pouilly-Fumé and Sancerre are both made with Sauvignon Blanc. If you prefer sweeter wines, then look for the Riesling from Niagara.

Domaine Seguin Pouilly-Fumé 2017 (90 pts) Domaine la Haute Févrie Sur Lie Muscadet Sèvre et Maine 2017 (88 pts)

Redstone Limestone Vineyard South Riesling 2016 (89 pts)

Enjoy my wine recommendations from this Release! Cheers!

Red Wine:

  • RUSTENBERG RM NICHOLSON 2017 - WO Stellenbosch, South Africa (#278390) (XD) - $16.95
  • CHÂTEAU BARACAN 2015 - AC Côtes de Bordeaux-Cadillac, France (#629980) (XD) - $16.95
  • SISTER’S RUN OLD TESTAMENT CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2017 - Coonawarra, South Australia (#478271) (XD) - $17.95  88+ pts  wine review
  • COLAB AND BLOOM SHIRAZ 2016 - Barossa, South Australia (#632562) (XD) - $18.95  89 pts  wine review
  • CHAKANA ESTATE SELECTION MALBEC 2016 - Uco Valley, Mendoza, Argentina (#219261) (XD) - $19.95  89 pts  wine review
  • CAVE DU CHÂTEAU DE CHÉNAS MOULIN-À-VENT 2016 - AC, Beaujolais, France (#648477) (XD) - $19.95
Colab and Bloom Shiraz 2016 (89 pts)Sister’s Run Old Testament Cabernet Sauvignon 2017 (88+ pts)

  • LAVAU RASTEAU 2015 - AC, Rhône, France (#394650) (XD) - $20.95  90 pts  wine review
  • JIM BARRY THE LODGE HILL SHIRAZ 2016 - Clare Valley, South Australia (#998476) (XD) - $21.95  90 pts  wine review
  • ERRÁZURIZ ACONCAGUA COSTA PINOT NOIR 2017 - DO Aconcagua Costa, Chile (#541151) (XD) - $24.95  90 pts  wine review
  • MOULINS DE CITRAN 2009 - Second wine of Château Citran, AC Haut-Médoc, Bordeaux, France (#633065) (XD) - $29.95  91+ pts  wine review
  • CLONAKILLA HILLTOPS SHIRAZ 2016 - Canberra District, Australia (#481861) (XD) - $34.95  FE
  • SOKOL BLOSSER PINOT NOIR 2015 - Dundee Hills, Willamette Valley, Oregon, USA (#748434) (XD) - $37.95  91 pts  wine review
  • CHÂTEAU SOCIANDO-MALLET 2012 - AC Haut-Médoc, Bordeaux, France (#594382) (XD) - $67.95

White Wine:

  • DOMAINE LA HAUTE FÉVRIE SUR LIE MUSCADET SÈVRE ET MAINE 2017 - AC, Loire, France (#390625) (XD) - $15.95  88 pts  wine review
  • MATAHIWI ESTATE SAUVIGNON BLANC 2018 - Wairarapa, North Island, New Zealand (#402677) (XD) - $17.00  89 pts  wine review
  • L’AMI DES CRUSTACÉS CLASSIQUE PINOT BLANC 2016 - AC Alsace, France (#644427) (XD) - $17.95
  • SANPAOLO FIANO DI AVELLINO 2017 - DOCG, Campania, Italy (#631705) (D) - $19.95  89 pts  wine review
  • REDSTONE LIMESTONE VINEYARD SOUTH RIESLING 2016 - VQA Twenty Mile Bench, Niagara Escarpment, Ontario, Canada (#381251) (M) - $19.95  89 pts  wine review
  • MISSION HILL RESERVE PINOT GRIS 2017 - VQA Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, Canada (#537076) (XD) - $22.95  89 pts  wine review
  • HENRY OF PELHAM SPECK FAMILY RESERVE CHARDONNAY 2017 - VQA Short Hills Bench, Niagara Escarpment, Ontario, Canada (#616466) (XD) - $29.95  91 pts  wine review
  • DOMAINE SEGUIN POUILLY-FUMÉ 2017 - AC, Loire, France (#637876) (XD) - $29.95  90 pts  wine review
  • JEAN-MAX ROGER CUVÉE MARNES ET CAILLOTTES SANCERRE 2017 - AC, Loire, France (#196667) (XD) - $31.95
  • ROSEROCK CHARDONNAY 2016 - Eola-Amity Hills, Willamette Valley, Oregon, USA (#573568) (XD) - $41.95  92+ pts  wine review
Matahiwi Estate Sauvignon Blanc 2018 (89 pts)Sanpaolo Fiano di Avellino 2017 (89 pts)


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  • Monday, April 22, 2019

Lavau Rasteau 2015 (Rhône) - Wine Review

wine review is a lovely red wine from the Southern Rhône Valley that will be coming to LCBO VINTAGES on .

Having enjoyed the 2014 Lavau Rasteau when it came through VINTAGES in , I am excited to try the latest edition of this wine that comes from the excellent 2015 vintage.

The 2015 vintage was wet during the winter and spring, followed by a few showers in June. However the vines were able to withstand the extreme summer droughts due to the water reserves. Ripening conditions were optimal with sunny days and cool nights, accompanied by a light Mistral wind. The harvested grapes showed exceptional concentration and balance, leading to a great vintage.

This red wine is produced by the Lavau family that has been involved in winemaking for several generations and settled in the Rhône Valley in 1964. Today, brothers Frederic and Benoit Lavau are rapidly building a reputation for excellent, value-oriented wines which embody their savoir-faire and respect for terroir. I have enjoyed many of their wines over the last few years.

Grapes for this Rasteau appellation wine come from parcels located near the village, on stony hillsides that are east-facing. The vines are planted on fairly deep and dry, pebbly terrain, resulting in low yields and late ripening.

Lavau Rasteau 2015 (90 pts)

Tasting Note:

LAVAU RASTEAU 2015 - AC, Rhône, France (#394650) (XD) - $20.95
50/50 blend of Grenache and Syrah. The complex, evolving bouquet has medium-high intensity aromatics that offer crushed rocks, ground spices, black plum, blackberry, dark fruits, and pepper that surround a meaty and earthy core. The palate is medium-full bodied has fresh acids with refined and textured tannins that offer some structure. Blackberry, pepper spice, garrigue, plum, earthy, and savoury notes on the flavour profile. Minerally and savoury on the long finish. Enjoy over the next 5 years. Score: 90 pts


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  • Thursday, April 18, 2019

Copain Wines Tasting (California) 2019

Copain Wines (2019)
I had the pleasure of tasting some of the latest fine wines from California's Copain Wines.

Founded in 1999, Copain, meaning ‘friend’ or ‘buddy’ in French, embodies their philosophy that wine enhances life’s most joyous occasions, and is an experience best shared with friends and family. The winery is perched on a hillside overlooking the Russian River Valley and specializes in making single-vineyard wines from Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Syrah. Grapes are sourced from cool-climate vineyards in Mendocino County, the Anderson Valley and the Sonoma Coast.

The Copain portfolio consists of three distinct collections - Tous Ensemble, Les Voisins, and the single-vineyard wines. The "Tous Ensemble" collection, which translates to "All Together", are crafted in an approachable, ready-to-drink style from a blend of fruit sourced from select vineyards within the AVA, and suitable for gatherings with friends and family. The "Les Voisins" wines are nuanced, terroir-driven wines, while the single-vineyard wines are crafted to be savoured many years after release.

In 2016, Copain Wines joined the Jackson Family Wines portfolio, a family-owned and -operated company that crafts award-winning wines of distinct character and quality, with a focus on sustainable viticulture practices, responsible vineyard and natural resource management. The family's collection includes more than 40 renowned brands from across the globe.

My favourites from this tasting were the Chardonnay and Pinot Noir wines that were classy, elegant, and fresh. The rosé was also nicely dry.

To purchase any of these fine Copain Wines, please contact the agent Halpern Enterprises.

Wine Scores:

COPAIN "TOUS ENSEMBLE" CHARDONNAY 2016 - Sonoma Coast, California, USA (XD) - $36.75  90 pts

Copain "Tous Ensemble" Chardonnay 2016 (90 pts)Copain "Tous Ensemble" Rosé 2017 (88+ pts)

COPAIN "TOUS ENSEMBLE" ROSÉ 2017 - Mendocino County, California, USA (XD) - $29.86  88+ pts

COPAIN "TOUS ENSEMBLE" PINOT NOIR 2016 - Sonoma Coast, California, USA (XD) - $39.71  90 pts

Copain "Tous Ensemble" Pinot Noir 2016 (90 pts)Copain "Tous Ensemble" Syrah 2016 (89 pts)

COPAIN "TOUS ENSEMBLE" SYRAH 2016 - Mendocino County, California, USA (XD) - $41.25  89 pts

COPAIN "LES VOISIN" PINOT NOIR 2015 - Anderson Valley, Mendocino County, California, USA (XD) - $54.48  91+ pts

Copain "Les Voisin" Pinot Noir 2015 (91+ pts)Copain "Les Voisin" Syrah 2015 (90 pts)

COPAIN "LES VOISIN" SYRAH 2015 - Yorkville Highlands, Mendocino County, California, USA (XD) - $54.48  90 pts

COPAIN DUPRATT CHARDONNAY 2016 - Anderson Valley, Mendocino County, California, USA (#010873) (XD) - $63.37  91 pts

Copain DuPratt Chardonnay 2016 (91 pts)Copain Hawks Butte Syrah 2013 (91 pts)

COPAIN HAWKS BUTTE SYRAH 2013 - Yorkville Highlands, Mendocino County, California, USA (XD) - $64.33  91 pts


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