Showing posts with label 2017. Show all posts
Showing posts with label 2017. Show all posts

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  • Thursday, June 25, 2020

Nativ Rue dell'Inchiostro Aglianico 2017 (Campania) - Wine Review



wine review is a lovely red wine made with Aglianico from Campania. This bottle was so popular when it arrived in VINTAGES in May 2019 that the LCBO decided to bring it back for another round this year. As such, this Aglianico is coming to the LCBO as part of the LCBO VINTAGES Release.

It is produced by Nativ, a winery founded in Campania in 2008 and focused on making typical wines of the region. Each wine from Nativ has a unique character - produced through the use of innovative winemaking techniques, while also respecting tradition. The grapes are grown on their own lands which are known for their particular fertility thanks to the presence of volcanic soils, extending for about 15 hectares between Paternopoli and Taurasi. In particular, the grapes Nativ focuses on are Fiano di Avellino, Greco di Tufo, Falanghina, Aglianico, and Aglianico of Taurasi.

The Aglianico grape was introduced to Campania by the Greeks along the Tyrrhenian coast (the western coast of Italy) sometime around the 6th or 7th century B.C. It is one of Italy's oldest grape verieties. The grapes for this Aglianico come from within the town and commune of Paternopoli, which is in the province of Avellino in Campania. They were grown on hilly soils of predominantly volcanic and clay-limestone, rich in minerals, at an altitude of 500 metres above sea level.

I've enjoyed other wines from Nativ previously, including most recently their 2018 Nativ Greco di Tufo, and am sure this will also be delightful. Let's see how it is tasting tonight...

Nativ Rue dell'Inchiostro Aglianico 2017 (89 pts)

Tasting Note:

NATIV RUE DELL'INCHIOSTRO AGLIANICO 2017 - IGT Campania, Italy (#631606) (D) - $19.95
This Aglianico was raised completely in tank, followed by a short time in bottle prior to release. The medium+ intensity aromas are fresh and fruity with inky dark fruit, dark berry, and sweet spice flavours flecked with black pepper and savoury undertones. It is medium-full bodied on the slightly sweet palate with delicious ripe dark berry fruit flavours with some raisin, savoury, and peppery spice notes adding interest. Acids are fresh and lively while tannins are refined and dusty. Fruity with subtle savoury mineral notes linger on the finish, with very good length. Score: 89 pts


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  • Thursday, June 11, 2020

Domaine La Décelle Réserve Valréas 2017 (Rhône) - Wine Review

lovely red wine from Rhône is featured as the "$17 Solution" in the LCBO VINTAGES Release. It is a new arrival at the LCBO and will be on shelves across Ontario by this .

It is produced by Maison LAVAU, a negociant winemaker whose wines I've enjoyed many times over the years. The story of the Lavau family begins with its passion for wine and love of terroir in 19th Saint-Émilion and continued into Tunisia where René Lavau and his son transformed a small estate of vines and orange trees into the country's largest wine producer. In the 1960s, Jean-Guy Lavau (René’s grandson) and his wife Anne-Marie returned to France and took charge of a small winemaking cellar in Sablet, in the heart of the Rhône Valley, eventually becoming Maison LAVAU in 1965. Frédéric and Benoît Lavau joined the team 30+ years later at their family winery and LAVAU has since become one of the most renowned and respected names in Rhône Valley winemaking.

This particular red wine comes from Domaine de la Decelle, an 82 hectare site that Frédéric and Benoît Lavau acquired in 2010 after they were convinced of its great potential. The Domaine is located in the heart of the Enclave des Papes, in the village of Valréas. The Enclave des Papes is a small part of the Vaucluse situated in Drôme provençale. The history of the Enclave is closely linked to that of the Popes of Avignon and began over 700 years ago when the lone estate in the area was purchased by Pope John XXII in the year 1317. Legend has it that Pope John XXII, returning from Lyon after his election and feeling very weary, took a glass of Valréas wine and was restored to full health. He then annexed the land that had produced this miraculous wine, so he would have permanent access. This became the Papal Enclave, and Valréas remained the capital until the French Revolution of the late 18th century. The vineyards were awarded Côtes du Rhône-Villages Valréas status in 1967.

The site where the Grenache and Syrah grapes for this wine are grown sit at a latitude and altitude that give it unique climatic conditions which are perfect for creating structured, complex, and fresh wines. The grapes are grown on south- and west-facing slopes as high as 320 metres above sea level, thus benefiting from a cooler climate. This also allows for wide diurnal temperature variation between day and night, which in turn helps the grapes ripen slowly and develop tannins.

Domaine La Décelle Réserve Valréas 2017 (90 pts)

Tasting Note:

DOMAINE LA DÉCELLE RÉSERVE VALRÉAS 2017 - AC Côtes du Rhône-Villages, France (#14391) (XD) - $17.00
This 50/50 blend of Grenache and Syrah was grown on clay-limestone soils and aged for 6 months in used French oak barrels. Lovely, complex, southern Rhône nose of blackberry, plum, and peppery spice mingling with garrigue, lavender, purple fruit, and some meaty notes. Smoky mineral notes develop with time in the glass. It's medium-full bodied on the palate with ripe, elegant tannins that have a touch of grip. Acids are fresh and juicy, while the flavours are more red fruited and a touch candied on the flavour profile with raspberry, spice, and meaty flavours which linger through to the long, meaty and smoky mineral finish. Recommended buy to enjoy over the next 5-6 years. Score: 90 pts


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  • Wednesday, May 6, 2020

J. Lohr Seven Oaks Cabernet Sauvignon 2017 (California) - Wine Review

To follow the popular J. Lohr Riverstone Chardonnay that I opened last week, wine review is a California Cabernet Sauvignon that is the most popular red in the VINTAGES Essentials Collection. Like the Chardonnay, this Cali Cab is widely available in the VINTAGES section at LCBO outlets across Ontario, and is also available online for pick-up or delivery.

After an extensive search in the late 1960's to find an ideal location for his first vineyard, Jerry Lohr, founder of J. Lohr Vineyards & Wines, settled in the Central Coast, an area that was just beginning to explore its potential for winegrowing. In the early 1970's, Jerry planted his first vineyard in Monterey County’s Arroyo Seco district.

A decade later, Jerry Lohr recognized the potential for growing Bordeaux varietals, especially Cabernet Sauvignon, further south in Paso Robles. In 1986, he began planting Cabernet Sauvignon and other red varietals in San Luis Obispo County's little-known Paso Robles region. With the hands-on devotion of an artisan farmer, Jerry tended to the vines while diligently working toward the creation and development of an adjacent winery and barrel cellar that opened in 1988.

Today, J. Lohr farms over 2,700 acres of vineyards in Paso Robles, a region now recognized as one of the world’s best spots for Cabernet Sauvignon and other Bordeaux and Rhône varietals. Nearly all of the red wines in the J. Lohr portfolio come from their sustainably-farmed Paso Robles vineyards. Still family-owned and operated, J. Lohr Vineyards & Wines is one of the industry’s most respected wine brands.

This red wine gets its name from blocks 2 and 4 of Cabernet Sauvignon that were some of the original sources for this iconic wine 30 years ago and featured views of a stand of seven majestic oak trees, which still thrive today. The grapes for this wine predominantly come from their estate vineyards in Paso Robles, directly opposite their J. Lohr Paso Robles Wine Center and two newer sites just to the north. The region is known for its rich, well-drained, gravelly, and sometimes chalky limestone soils, as well as its semi-arid climate and dramatic diurnal temperature swings of 50°F degrees between warm days and cool nights. This diurnal fluctuation is key to the region's trademark, intense varietal character. The 2017 vintage is remembered as a restorative vintage as it broke an unprecedented 5-year drought conditions throughout California.

J. Lohr Seven Oaks Cabernet Sauvignon 2017 (86 pts)

Tasting Note:

J. LOHR SEVEN OAKS CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2017 - Paso Robles, California, USA (#656561) (D) - $23.95
The medium+ intensity nose offers slightly confected aromas of ripe plum, black cherry, currant, blueberry, sweet oak spice, and savoury earthy tones with touches of leafy herbs and mint. The full-bodied palate is notably sweet with flavours of chocolate, sweet, vanillin oak and ripe black cherry and currant notes. Acids are well-balanced while rounded tannins are soft, fine-grained and a touch drying with each passing sip. Earthy, chocolate, and coffee notes linger on the finish, with very good length. Blend of 82% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Petite Sirah, 5% Merlot, 4% Petit Verdot, and 1% Syrah. Crowd pleasing California Cab. 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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  • 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


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  • 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


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  • Friday, February 14, 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

Zuccardi Apelación Vista Flores Malbec 2017 (91 pts)

Tasting Note:

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


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  • Monday, February 3, 2020

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

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

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

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

Tenuta Iuzzolini Cirò Rosso Classico 2017 (87 pts)

Tasting Note:

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


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  • Wednesday, January 29, 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lakeview Cellars Serenity Baco Noir 2017 (87 pts)

Tasting Note:

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


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  • Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Rhône Wine Tour 2018 - Lirac & Tavel (Day 4)

Tavel Round Pebbles
The of our wine tour through the southern Rhône Valley took us through Lirac and Tavel AOCs. This day followed visits to Luberon and Ventoux, Cairanne, and Costières de Nîmes earlier in the week.

Tavel is located on the right bank of Rhône River. It achieved AOC status since 1937 and was actually the second to establish Cru status, right after the famous Châteauneuf-du-Pape. This southern Rhône Valley Cru is also unique in that it is the only Cru where all appellation wines must be rosé wine.

Vines have been cultivated in Tavel since the 5th century BC, first planted by the Greeks and then expanded by the Romans. The name "Villa Tavellis" first appeared in 13th century writings, eventually becoming Tavel. From 1737, a royal edict made it illegal to add foreign wines to those from Tavel and winemakers were also required to mark their barrels with "C.d.R." (Côte du Rhône), thus setting the precedent for what would become the AOC. In 1902, Tavel vineyard owners and winemakers formed a union to build the reputation of their rose wines. This eventually led to winemakers from Tavel petitioning the Gard to officially define the production area and become an AOC in 1937.

The soils in Tavel are mainly composed of alluvial, sandy, marly limestone, and crystalline & gravelly limestone, while the climate is Mediterranean where the sun and mistral winds are dominant. Nine grapes are permitted in Tavel, and no more than 60% of one varietal can be included in the final blend. Thus, all Tavel wines are blends, with Grenache often being the base. Traditionally, Tavel wines typically have a darker red colour due to the longer maceration times, where the grape skins have more contact with the must and creating wines that are more powerful and even somewhat tannic. However, there is a trend currently towards lighter rosés from Tavel due to the success of the lighter styles from Provence.

The introduction to Tavel actually began , during a lovely dinner at the Michelin-starred Entre Vigne & Garrigue with Thomas Giubbi of Vignobles & Compagnie, and Guillaume Demoulin of Château Trinquevedel. We tasted some of their latest Tavel wines, as well as got to try a 2014 Tavel that showed how well Tavel wines can age.

Entre Vigne & Garrigue Dinner
Vignobles & Compagnie was formed in 1963 when the growers of the department of the Gard came together with the aim of promoting Rhône Valley wines. The cellar, which was strategically located near the Pont du Gard, was also created at this time, is still in use today, and recently gained Heritage Status. The company has changed hands over the years, with Jean-Marie Berteau taking over the reins in 1972 and remaining in charge for 34 years. It was during this period that site underwent modernization and experienced major economic growth. In 1990, the Taillan Group took over activities and formed partnerships with local winegrowers. In 2011, Thomas Giubbi became the Managing Director at Vignobles & Compagnie and worked on grape supply to improve the quality of the wines, a task he continues to work on as he forges partnerships with many vineyards across the southern Rhône Valley. Vignobles & Compagnie is committed to working alongside its partner winegrowers to support, develop, and secure the future of these family estates by providing assistance in the vineyard, vinification, and the ageing process. The also help these estates market their wines. Thomas and his team are working towards exporting their wines to Ontario.

New Tavel Coat of Arms
Guillaume Demoulin is the 4th generation of his family to farm the vineyards at Château Trinquevedel. His great-grandfather, Eugène, founded the 13th century estate in 1936 and began to the revive the site that was overrun with wild weeds. By 1960, the grapes were finally producing wine worthy of bottling. Today, there are 32 hectares of estate vineyards located in the hills Montagne Noire and planted to varietals such as Grenache, Cinsault, and Clairette. Soils consist primarily of sand and quartzite rounded stones. Wines are crafted to show typicity and quality of the Cru while using traditional and innovative wine growing techniques, while also respecting the environment.

In addition to the roles at their respective company's, Thomas and Guillaume are also co-presidents of the Syndicat Viticole de l’Appellation Tavel winemakers association. Among their more recent activities is the introduction of a new, modernized coat of arms that will be embossed on the neck of Tavel wines. This was a 2-year project that will finally be realized beginning with the 2018 vintage.

Entre Vigne & Garrigue is a small, family-owned bed & breakfast and restaurant created in a charming 17th century stone farmhouse located in the Rhône Valley countryside. The surroundings were quite serene and peaceful. The gourmet dinner was lovely and included a cheese cart like I've never seen before!

Entre Vigne & Garrigue - Cheese Plate with Tavel

Entre Vigne & Garrigue - Cheese CartEntre Vigne & Garrigue - Dessert

Vincent de Bez, Château d’Aqueria
After a restful night, it was another early start, with more wet weather as we toured Tavel and Lirac. The first stop of the day was at the historic Tavel producer Château d’Aqueria. The fascinating history of Château d’Aqueria begins in 1595, when Louis Joseph d’Aqueria purchased the area of Tavel known as "Puy Sablonneux" from the monks at the Abbey in Villeneuve les Avignon. His son, Robert d'Aqueria, built a home that was transformed in the 18th century into the Château as it stands today. The estate has changed hands many times since the 18th century, all the while maintaining winegrowing activities because the terroir is very suitable for winegrowing. The estate has been in the same family for three generations now, when Jean Olivier purchased the estate 1919, and his son-in-law Paul de Bez began managing the estate in 1943, followed by his grandsons Bruno and Vincent de Bez, who today continue to run the estate.

Château d’Aqueria Tanks

Today, there are 60+ ha of vineyards surrounding the Château with light, sandy-clayey soils that are ideal for the production of rose's, while the limestone scree soils on their property just east of the Château in Lirac help produce white wines with outstanding fruit and depth. Château d’Aqueria practices organic fertilization and is High Environmental Value (HVE) certified, a system that promotes biodiversity and an environmentally-friendly agricultural approach involving pesticides, fertilization and water resource management. We met up with Vincent who gave us a tour of the facility, followed by a tasting of some of their latest wines. More wet weather lingered in the area, so we did not get a tour of the vineyards. However, Vincent told us we could drive to one of their nearby vineyards and it was amazingly littered with thousands (!) of rounded pebbles that allow the vines to grow in the best possible conditions thanks to the natural soil filter.

Domaine Coudoulis
The next stop was at Domaine Coudoulis, a winery in Lirac located on a terrace overlooking the village of Saint-Laurent-des-Arbres. The family-owned and -operated estate winery was purchased by Bernard Callet in 1996 because he knew the site had fabulous soil. After 10 years of observing and learning about the site, Bernard called upon Patrick Hilaire, a man who had worked on some of the most famous vineyards, to create terroir-driven wines worthy of the Domaine. As Bernard explained, the vineyards have existed on this site since the 1960's on old terroir with its alluvial terraces that are rich in round pebbles - similar to Châteauneuf-du-Pape. Since that time, the building was rebuilt in 2011 into a modern facility with large concrete vats for fermentation and ageing, all the while transitioning their 25 hectares of vineyards to organic winemaking. Unfortunately, they do not make any rosés - as the rosé wines from this site are too dark compared to the current trend of light coloured rosés. They also currently do not make any white wines. However, there are plans to make some white wines as they planted some Grenache Blanc in 2017. Thus, after tasting their fine selection of red wines we took a tour of their modern winemaking facility and barrel cellar. We'll have to check back in a few years to see how Domaine Coudoulis fared with their Grenache Blanc.

Domaine Coudoulis Tanks

Domaine Coudoulis Production Area

Lunch was in the heart of Saint-Laurent-des-Arbres at Restaurant Le Papet and we were joined by Edouard Guerin, Director of Wines and Vineyards at Ogier, and Stéphane Soulier, Sales Manager at Les Vignerons de Tavel.

Edouard Guerin, Ogier
The story of Ogier begins with Ogier the Dane, an eccentric man who went off to fight in Basque country around 800 A.D. and on his way back home stopped in Massif Central. His stop became permanent and the Ogier name spread throughout the Rhône Valley. Antoine Ogier is a distant descendant of Ogier the Dane and he acquired an old cooperage in 1859. The main winery is in Chateauneu-du-Pape, where an old cooperage was converted into maturation cellars and is the largest in the Rhône Valley with its walls bearing witness to a history dating back to the Middle Ages. In 1995 with the arrival of Didier Couturier, the winery undergoes renewal, establishing relationships with winegrowers, and giving rise to the Ogier style - purity of fruit, freshness, and depth. During this time, a precision approach from vine to winemaking with a minimal interventionalist approach becomes the Ogier hallmark. Edouard was personable, friendly and showed plenty of passion for wine during lunch. I hope our paths cross again someday as the wines from Ogier were lovely. The Lirac Blanc and Tavel wines, one of each, we tasted from Ogier during lunch were fresh and delicious, especially the unreleased-at-the-time Lirac Blanc that ended up being one of my favourite wines of the day.

Lunch at Restaurant Le Papet, Saint-Laurent-des-Arbres

The cooperative cellar Les Vignerons de Tavel was founded in 1937, one year after the birth of AOP Tavel, when a few winemakers from decided to unite. France's first cooperative was inaugurated by the President of France, Albert Lebrun, in 1938 and was declared to be part of France's national heritage in 2013. Just weeks after my visit to Rhône, the cooperatives Les Vignerons de Tavel merged with the Cave des Vins de Cru in Lirac to become Cave des Vignerons de Tavel and Lirac that now represents 90 vine growers, 880 hectares of vines, and 35,000 hectolitres of production within AOC Tavel and Lirac, and other southern Rhône Valley appellations.

Rodolphe de Pins, Château de Montfaucon
After lunch, we navigated the narrow streets of the village of Montfaucon, on the right bank of the Rhône River in Lirac, to visit the historic Château de Montfaucon. The first inhabitants of the exceptional Montfaucon rocky hill located across Châteauneuf-du-Pape can be traced back to the pre-historic era. In the 11th century, the castle's first watchtower was built as the Rhône River was a border between the French Kingdom and the Holy Roman German Empire. After the castle was extended in the Middle Ages, the King of France gave title to the first Baron of Montfaucon to the powerful Laudun family in 1420. 100 years later, a winery is built at the bottom of the Château and wine was made here until 1936, when it was converted to a barrel cellar for ageing. Between 1936 and 1995, even though the family cultivated the vines, the grapes were sold to a cooperative.

Current owner, Rodolphe de Pins, took over the family estate in 1995, rebuilt the winery, and began producing wine. His ancestors, the de Pertuis family, acquired the castle in 1766 and Joseph Gabriel de Pertuis became the Baron de Montfaucon. Joseph's son, Eugene, had a son named Louis who would become Baron Louis de Montfaucon. As they discovered with old wine labels with the name "1829 Vin de Monsieur le Baron de Montfaucon", they found that both Eugene and Louis were amateurs in wine. Baron Louis restored the Château and left the estate upon his death in 1910 to his young niece, Madeleine, since he never married or had children. When Madeleine married, she became Comtesse de Pins. She is also Rodolphe's grandmother.

Château de Montfaucon
Today, Château de Montfaucon has more than 60 ha of vines, including a recent purchase of a 7 ha Cru Lirac vineyard that has a plot containing 140-year-old Clairette vines. The vineyards of Château de Montfaucon have a diversity of soils - calcareous pebbelstone on silty sandy soil, soil with clay, and sandy soil - and exposures. Rodolphe has a natural approach to winemaking with minimal intervention, allowing the fruit to express its flavours. He also likes to make wines that have elegance, finesse, and complexity, while also being enjoyable and easy to drink.

White wines make up 10% of the production at Château de Montfaucon and all of the wines we tasted in the 500 year old cellar with Rodolphe were delicious, including a lovely back-vintage 2012 Clairette and 2011 Lirac white cuvée. Unfortunately, once again due to the rain, we were not able to see any of the vineyards. Rodolphe also invited us for a quick visit to his home - the Château (i.e. the real castle) located some minutes walking distance from the Domaine that was perched atop the village of Montfaucon, but the rains and lack of time would not allow it. All in all, this was a very fine visit that I would highly recommend to anyone visiting Lirac.

Lirac is located just north of Tavel and sits across the river from Châteauneuf-du-Pape, sharing many of the same characteristics as its famous neighbour. The area is very Mediterranean with plenty of sunshine and Mistral winds. Moreover, many of the vineyards in Lirac are laid out in terraces on hillsides among garrigue scrubland. There are three main soil types - limestone plateaus that covered with red clay and pebbles, ancient alluvial terraces made up of quartz pebbles and red clay atop a bed of sand, and sand laced with small pebbles. Due to soil diversity, many different grapes thrive here. Lirac achieved Cru status in 1947, making it the third oldest Rhône Valley Cru. At the time, it was known for producing easy drinking rose. Today, however, only 3% of the appellation's production is devoted to rosé (and 10% to white wines.)

The history of winemaking in Lirac goes back more than two thousand years. The small, nearby town of Roquemaure and its port became quite prosperous and powerful as it exported the wines of Cote du Rhône to Paris, England, and Holland. In the 16th century, the wines from Lirac gained a reputation for high quality wines that were served in the royal courts of France and abroad. In 1727, Lirac wines were the first from Rhône to be branded as C.d.R. to certify their origin, thus making Lirac Cru the original appellation. As mentioned earlier, the C.d.R. branding was applied to Tavel in 1737, and was later given to all wines from Côtes du Rhône.

Domaine Lafond Roc-Epine
The final winery visit of the day was in the heart of Tavel at Domaine Lafond Roc-Epine. The Lafond family has a rather long history of wine growing that began in 1780 with Pascal Odoyer, the governor of Tavel, was one of the first wine growers in his village and also the great-uncle of Jean-Pierre Lafond. In 1948, Valéry Taulier, the grandfather of current owner Pascal Lafond built the first private cellar of Tavel and contributed greatly to the growth of the Tavel appellation. In 1970, Jean-Pierre Lafond, Valéry Taulier’s son-in-law and a lover of race horses names his wine estate "Roc-Epine" in memory of the famous race horse, and Domaine Lafond Roc-Epine was born. In 1978, Pascal and his father Jean-Pierre Lafond begin bottling their own wines. Fast forward to 2009, they begin organic certification and eliminate the use of pesticides, herbicides and other chemical products, while only using copper and sulphite to protect the vineyards from the disease. In 2012, they received their organic certification and an emphasis to produce wine in the vineyard was strengthened. In 2015, the next generation of the Lafond family begins work at the winery with the arrival of Jean-Baptiste Lafond, Pascal's son, after he completed his BTS Viticulture-Oenology studies in Beaune. In addition to Tavel wines, they also produce Lirac appellation wines. In total, 3 hectares of vines are devoted white grape varieties, while 23 hectares are planted with red varietals, with soils consisting of mainly white rocks, sandy soil, and pebbles (alluvial soil). In terms of whites and rosé wines, they had a Lirac Blanc and two Tavel Rosés, and all three were delicious.

Frédéric Grasset, Château de Ségriès
A fine day of wine tasting in Lirac and Tavel concluded at Entre Vigne & Garrigue, where Frédéric Grasset of Château de Ségriès joined us for dinner and to present his wines. Frédéric is the son-in-law of owner Henri de Lanzac. In 1994, Henri purchased the domain that included a partly ruined mansion from the 17th century that belonged to the noble Regis de Gatimel family since 1804. This makes Château de Ségriès one of the oldest estates in Lirac. Three generations of the family work at the Château, including the 75-year-old Henri. His son, Laurent, is the viticulturist and winemaker, while his daughter Anna, wife of Frédéric, also works at the winery. Together, they manage 58 ha of old vines averaging 80 years of age on mainly clay-limestone soils. Only a small portion of this acreage is devoted to AOP Lirac white wines, while 11 ha in a single vineyard in Tavel. Château de Ségriès only makes one Lirac Blanc and one Tavel wine, so it was nice to try the two most recent vintages of each wine during dinner.

Château de Ségriès

Entre Vigne & Garrigue - Appetizer

Looking back on this day, Tavel was everything I expected it to be - traditionally deeply coloured, fruity and dry, high quality rose wines, with some having slightly tannic and structured characters that some might even call light red wines, while others were made in the more trendier Provençal style that is pale coloured and fresh. Tavel can be enjoyed on its own or paired with salad, poultry, or hearty fish.

Lirac, on the other hand, was an eye-opener for me. It is one of the least known Crus, and even I didn't know much about it before arriving. Lirac appellation white wines are made primarily with varietals such as Grenache Blanc, Clairette, Roussanne, and Bourboulenc, and sometimes includes Marsanne, Viognier, or Picpoul. The white wines were fresh and clean, with some minerality and structure, and could be aged for a number of years. All-in-all, I was very impressed with the white wines from Lirac.

Overall, I was very happy with my visit to the Southern Rhône Valley. I learned many new things over the four days while also meeting some fine individuals who are shaping the future of the wines from Luberon, Ventoux, Cairanne, Costières de Nîmes, Tavel, and Lirac.

Tasting Notes:

VIGNOBLES & COMPAGNIE DOMAINE MÉJAN LES MUSES TAVEL 2017 - AC, Rhône, France (XD)
Blend of 70% Grenache, 20% Cinsault, 5% Mourvedre, 3% Syrah, and 2% Clairette from sandy soil, clay, and rolled pebbles, alluvial deposits. Medium+ intensity nose offers red fruit, red cherry, strawberry, and herbal aromas. The medium+ bodied palate is spicy with fresh acids and pleasing red berried aroma replays. Lightly tannic, dry, with some structure, and very good finish length. Score: 88 pts

Vignobles & Compagnie Domaine Méjan Les Muses Tavel 2017 (88 pts)Vignobles & Compagnie Réserve des Chastelles Tavel 2017 (89 pts)

VIGNOBLES & COMPAGNIE RÉSERVE DES CHASTELLES TAVEL 2017 - AC, Rhône, France (XD) - 12 €
Grenache and Syrah blend from gravel, clay and quartz pebbles soils. Medium-high intensity nose with plenty of red fruits - currant, strawberry, cherry and some red pepper nuances. It is full-bodied, dry and structured on the palate with candied red berry flavours. There's some tannic structure and the finish length is very good. Score: 89 pts

Agent: N/A

CHÂTEAU TRINQUEVEDEL TAVEL 2017 - AC, Rhône, France (#729947) (XD) - 12.5 €
Blend of Grenache, Syrah, Cinsault, Clairette, Bourboulenc, and Mourvèdre, this has fruity medium+ intensity aromas of rhubarb and strawberry. It is medium-full bodied, dry and spicy on the palate with fresh acids and nice aroma replays joined by hints of orange. Structured with some tannins. Very good finish length. Score: 89 pts

Château Trinquevedel Tavel 2017 (89 pts)Château Trinquevedel Les Vignes d'Eugène Tavel 2014 (89+ pts)

CHÂTEAU TRINQUEVEDEL LES VIGNES D'EUGÈNE TAVEL 2014 - AC, Rhône, France (XD) - 15 €
Blend of Grenache, Clairette and Syrah from 80-85 year old vines and one-third oak aged, this has a subtle orange, red berry and spice nose with touches of floral. It is medium-full bodied and nicely integrated on the palate with balanced acids, and pretty rose floral and cherry characters. Somewhat structured and the finish length is very good. Holding up quite well at this age. Score: 89+ pts

Agent: Barrel Select (ON)

CHÂTEAU D'AQUERIA LIRAC BLANC 2017 - AC, Rhône, France (XD) - 12 €
40% Grenache Blanc, 25% Bourboulenc, 16% Clairette, 12% Roussanne, and 7% Viognier from limestone scree soils. Open, fragrant and fresh with herbally, lemony, and anise aromas. Medium-bodied with a slightly oily texture. Nice aroma replays on the palate plus notable anise, fennel, and pear notes. There's some structure a nice chalky mineral mid-palate. Shows finesse on the finish, with excellent length. Score: 89 pts

Château d'Aqueria Lirac Blanc 2017 (89 pts)Château d'Aqueria Tavel 2017 (89 pts)

CHÂTEAU D'AQUERIA TAVEL 2017 - AP, Rhône, France (#319368) (XD) - $23.95
45% Grenache, 20% Clairette, 15% Cinsault, 8% Mourvèdre, 6% Syrah, 4% Bourboulenc, and 2% Picpoul from sandy clayey hillsides. The subtle nose is fruity and a touch candied, offering red berry, cherry, currant, and citrus aromas. It's medium-full bodied with nicely balanced citrusy aroma replays. Acids are very good. The long finish is crisp and spicy with a fine mineral note. Score: 89 pts

Agent: Noble Estates Wine & Spirits (ON), LBV International (QC)

Domaine Coudoulis Evidence Lirac 2016 (89 pts)

DOMAINE COUDOULIS EVIDENCE LIRAC 2016 - AP, Rhône, France (XD) - 9 €
Blend of Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre (15%), Carignan, and Cinsault. Medium-high intensity nose is meaty with floral, dark cherry, blackberry, licorice, and black spice aromas. The spicy medium+ bodied palate has nice dark cherry/berry and oak spice notes. Well-structured with refined tannins. Nicely balanced overall with good acidity. Finish length is very good. Score: 89 pts

Agent: Azureau Wines & Spirits (ON)

OGIER LOU CAMINÉ LIRAC BLANC 2017 - AC, Rhône, France (XD)
First vintage of this wine. Blend of Clairette and Grenache Blanc from 5 to 80 year-old vines that was barrel-fermented and barrel-aged. It has medium-high intensity aromas that are clean and elegant with mineral, lemon/lime, herbs and anise notes, all of which come through on the medium+ bodied palate with hints of saline minerality. Acids are fresh and the finish length is excellent. Score: 90 pts

Ogier Lou Caminé Lirac Blanc 2017 (90 pts)Ogier Etamines Tavel 2017 (88 pts)

OGIER ETAMINES TAVEL 2017 - AC, Rhône, France (XD)
Pretty, medium-high intensity nose of strawberry, spice, currant, and cherry aromas. It is medium-full bodied with spicy aroma replays on the palate, fresh acids, and very good finish length. Score: 88 pts

Agent: Select Wines (ON), Sélect Vins AdVini (QC)

Domaine du Vieil Aven Tavel 2017 (88 pts)

DOMAINE DU VIEIL AVEN TAVEL 2017 - AC, Rhône, France (XD) - $18.70
Medium+ intensity nose is spicy with red currant, cherry, and strawberry aromas. The palate is full-ish with gentle tannins and juicy acids that support the nicely dry aroma replays. Very good finish length. Score: 88 pts

Agent: Louis Roche (QC)

Domaine des Carteresses Tavel Rosé 2017 (88 pts)

DOMAINE DES CARTERESSES TAVEL ROSÉ 2017 - AC, Rhône, France (#739474) (XD) - $18.95
The medium-high intensity nose is fresh has ripe aromas of strawberry, cherry, and rhubarb. It's medium-full bodied on the palate with a rounded mouthfeel. Touch candied cherry flavour, plus aroma replays on the flavour profile. Juicy acids, smooth tannins, and very good length on the finish. Score: 88 pts

Agent: Dionysus Wines & Spirits (ON), Vin Conseil (QC)

CHÂTEAU DE MONTFAUCON COMTESSE MADELEINE LIRAC BLANC 2017 - AC, Rhône, France (XD) - 13.5 €
Just bottled. Blend of Marsanne (40%), Clairette, Grenache Blanc, Picpoul, and Viognier. Medium-high intensity aromas are fresh and ripe with white and yellow florals, and key lime pie. On the medium-bodied palate, it has nice, ripe aroma replays supported by bright and lively acids. Anise, herbs, and lime notes linger on the long finish. Barrel-fermented and aged, yet oak is very subtle. Should drink well for at least half a dozen years. Score: 89 pts

Château de Montfaucon Comtesse Madeleine Lirac Blanc 2016 (89 pts)Château de Montfaucon Vin de Madame La Comtesse Lirac Blanc 2012 (91 pts)

CHÂTEAU DE MONTFAUCON VIN DE MADAME LA COMTESSE LIRAC BLANC 2012 - AP, Rhône, France (XD)
Limited production. 100% Clairette barrel-fermented from a small 1.3 acre vineyard first planted in 1870 - one of the oldest in Rhône Valley. Complex, medium-high intensity nose is exotic and a touch oxidative with nutty, pear and fennel aromas. Spicy palate is still showing freshness with very nice aroma replays and some mineral notes adding complexity. Shows finesse on the long, intense finish. 2012 was the first vintage of this wine. Score: 91 pts

Agent: Nicholas Pearce Wines (ON)

DOMAINE LAFOND ROC-ÉPINE LIRAC BLANC 2017 - AP, Rhône, France (XD) - 10 €
This blend of 50% Grenache Blanc, 30% Roussanne, and 20% Viognier that has medium+ intensity aromas of fennel, anise, lemony citrus, and herbs. Acids are fresh and bright on the medium-bodied palate with nice aroma replays on the flavour profile. Clean and crisp with hints of mineral on the long finish. Score: 88+ pts

Domaine Lafond Roc-Épine Lirac Blanc 2017 (88+ pts)Domaine Lafond Roc-Épine Tavel 2017 (88 pts)

DOMAINE LAFOND ROC-ÉPINE TAVEL 2017 - AP, Rhône, France (#950709) (XD) - 10 €
60% Grenache with equal parts Syrah and Cinsault. Medium-high intensity nose is pretty with freshly picked, ripe strawberry, rhubarb, and cherry aromas. The medium+ bodied palate is fleshy, a touch candied, but dry, with nice aroma replays. It has juicy acids, a spicy mid-palate, and very good finish length. Score: 88 pts

Agent: Hobbs & Co. (ON)

CHÂTEAU SÉGRIÈS LIRAC BLANC 2015 - AC, Rhône, France (XD) - 12 €
A blend of 50% Clairette, 30% Ugni Blanc, 10% Roussanne, 5% Bourboulenc, and 5% Picpoul that is 30% barrel-fermented. Subtle herbs, fennel, and lemon aromas. It is medium-full bodied and creamy with nice pear and herbals flavours. Crunchy fruit with fresh acidity. Finish length is very good. Score: 89 pts

Château Ségriès Lirac Blanc 2015 (89 pts)Château Ségriès Tavel 2016 (89 pts)

CHÂTEAU SÉGRIÈS TAVEL 2016 - AC, Rhône, France (XD) - 12 €
Blend of 50% Grenache, 30% Cinsault, 10% Syrah, and 10% Clairette. Medium+ intensity nose offers cherry, strawberry, and currant aromas, with much of the same on the spicy, full-bodied palate. It has some tannic structure, while acids and finish length are both very good. Score: 89 pts

Agent: N/A


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