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

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  • Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Xavier Vignon Ventoux 2017 (Rhône) - Wine Review



Following up on the delicious 2017 Xavier Vignon Côtes du Rhône that I enjoyed last week, red wine review is a new, lovely wine from the same producer that is also arriving as part of the LCBO VINTAGES Release.

Xavier Vins is the creation of notable renowned wine consultant Xavier Vignon. He began his work as a consultant in 1996 and over time developed a profound knowledge of terroirs in the Rhône Valley. The 34 grape harvests around the world, mentors, winegrowers' friendships, and exceptional memory have all shaped Xavier's style and identity.

He works with various domaines in the southern Rhône Valley, including Raymond Usseglio, La Nerthe, Marcoux, Gardine, Jerome Quiot, Beaurenard, Mont Redon, Maucoil, Roger Perrin, and Grand Veneur, while also developing his own, self-named brand - Xavier Vignon.

This red wine hails from Ventoux appellation, a wine region in the southern Rhône Valley that I had the pleasure of visiting last May.

Xavier Vignon Ventoux 2017 (89 pts)

Tasting Note:

XAVIER VIGNON VENTOUX 2017 - AP, Rhône, France (#413211) (XD) - $16.95
Blend of 50% Syrah, 30% Grenache, and 20% Mourvèdre. The Grenache was aged in tank, while the other varietals were aged in barrel. Generous aromas offer spicy red and blackberry fruit with hints of pepper and smoky-flinty minerality. It is medium-full bodied with nicely balanced and spicy aroma replays that are supported by vibrant acidity. More minerally on the mid-palate plus touches of purple fruit. Tannins are soft, supple, and finely textured. Dark berry and mineral notes linger on the long finish. I really like the mineral aspect of this Ventoux red wine. Recommended buy. Score: 89 pts


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  • Friday, July 12, 2019

Xavier Vignon Côtes du Rhône 2017 (France) - Wine Review

For wine review, I opened this organic red wine from Rhône ahead of it's release into LCBO VINTAGES on .

Xavier Vignon began oenologist consulting activities in 1996 in a laboratory in Vaucluse for 30+ cellars. With a growing clientele and knowledge of terroirs and grape varietals that are best suited for each other, he developed a reputation for being the "crazy guy". Xavier enjoys going into the vineyard and in 1998 he creates a consulting company with his friend Dominique Portet. Soon thereafter, his client base reaches triple digits. However, after Dominique left the partnership to start his own cellar in 1999, Xavier began producing artisanal cuvees from his garage for his friends. One of his winemaker friends' discreetly sent his cuvees to Guide Hachette and the results were one wine heart (i.e. Commended) rating, and all the other cuvees scored 3 stars (the highest possible rating).

In 2002, Xavier's wine importer friends asked if he could create his own wines. He chooses amongst the best wines he has made and creates Rhone wines of different vintages and appellations, and begins bottling as Xavier Vins.

More recently, Xavier Vignon decided that he had to express himself in his own name because he wants, above all, to share with all lovers, neophytes or enlightened, the fruit of his passion: his wines.

Xavier Vignon Côtes du Rhône 2017 (89 pts)

Tasting Note:

XAVIER VIGNON CÔTES DU RHÔNE 2017 - AP, Rhône, France (#297317) (XD) - $17.95
This organic red wine is a blend of equal parts Syrah and Grenache, plus some Mourvèdre to round out the blend. The medium+ intensity nose offers lovely smoky black cherry, blackberry, and spice notes with hints of currant and minty herbs adding complexity. The medium-full bodied palate is more red-fruited and ripe with cherry, pepper spice, and currant flavours, along with some smoky mineral notes on the mid-palate. It has balanced acids and chewy, fine-grained tannins. Finishes with mocha chocolate and spice notes, with good length. Enjoy over the next 5 years. Score: 89 pts


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  • Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Wakefield Clare Valley Estate Chardonnay 2017 (Australia) - Wine Review

delicious white wine is a frequent visitor to VINTAGES and will be coming to LCBO VINTAGES on .

Winemaking in Clare Valley spans over 150 years, making it one of Australia's oldest wine-producing regions. The unique combination of geography, geology and climate results in terroir that is ideal producing wine in Clare Valley.

The journey of Wakefield Wines began when they planted their first vineyards in the Clare Valley in 1969 with the goal of producing authentic, estate grown wines. The first vintage from these vineyards was an overwhelming success as it won a gold medal in every national wine show that it entered. Since that time, the Estate Range was grown to include other varietals, but every bottle is still crafted at their Clare Valley Estate with the same care and attention as the very first vintage.

The fruit for this Chardonnay was harvested at night from the Taylor family estate in Clare Valley. It was whole berry pressed and the majority was barrel fermented in new and used French oak barrels. A small parcel of juice was fermented using wild yeast, and a small parcel was fermented in stainless steel tanks. Finally, after 10 months of oak maturation, the final wine was blended and fined in stainless steel tanks prior to bottling.

Lastly, I was pleasantly surprised (and impressed) to find a touch-activated temperature sensor (pictured below) on the back label that will tell you the ideal temperature to drink this Chardonnay - simply swipe the sensor to activate and see if the colour matches the perfect temperature range on the scale.

Wakefield Clare Valley Estate Chardonnay 2017 (88+ pts)

Tasting Note:

WAKEFIELD CLARE VALLEY ESTATE CHARDONNAY 2017 - Clare Valley, South Australia (#711556) (XD) - $16.95
Screw cap. Medium+ intensity nose that delivers buttery, green apple, pear, and white peach aromas with touches of citrus, vanilla and nutty notes. It is medium-full bodied and quite substantial on the palate with ripe apple and pear flavours accented by some pineapple, banana and butterscotch nuances. Acids are fresh and lively. Nicely balanced throughout, while finishing with notes of citrus, stone fruit, buttery flavours, plus some lingering minerality, with good length. Very good buy! Score: 88+ pts

Optimum drinking temprature of Wakefield Clare Valley Estate Chardonnay


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  • Sunday, July 7, 2019

Ortas Tradition Rasteau 2017 (Rhône) - Wine Review

wine review is nice southern Rhône red wine that is coming to LCBO VINTAGES on .

It comes from the Rasteau Cru appellation that is located northeast of Orange and is the westerly neighbour to Cairanne. Winemaking in this region was first established by the Romans in 30 BC.

Founded in 1925, Cave de Rasteau is one of Côtes du Rhône's oldest co-operative wineries. It is a leading producer within the Rasteau appellation and it's partners include 80 vignerons and 600 hectares of vines, which is nearly half of Rasteau's 1240 hectares. Cave de Rasteau is located in Provence, in the heart of the southern Rhône Valley and faces Mont Ventoux, the Dentelles de Montmirail, and the French Prealps mountain ranges.

It's terroir is quite diverse, with hilly, south-facing slopes and smooth, pebbled soils that provide heat, while the cool Mistral winds provide freshness - all of which are ideal for planting classic Rhône varietals like Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvèdre. At Cave de Rasteau, wine growing knowledge has been passed down over four generations of wine growers with passion and respect for the environment.

Cave de Rasteau is part of Cercle des Vignerons du Rhône, a union of three companies that work together and share their knowledge with each other to produce quality wines while respecting their terroirs.

Ortas Tradition Rasteau 2017 (88 pts)

Tasting Note:

ORTAS TRADITION RASTEAU 2017 - AC, Rhône, France (#998716) (XD) - $17.95
A blend of old vines 70% Grenache, 20% Syrah and 10% Mourvèdre from a hillside and terraced vineyard with limestone white clay, red clay, and fluvio-glacial sandy soils. Medium intensity nose offers nice blackberry liqueur, dark berry, spice, and kirsch, with hints of graphite and loamy earth aromas. It is medium-full bodied on the palate with blackberry, spice, and graphite flavours. Acids are balanced and juicy, while finely textured tannins are well-integrated. Graphite notes and a touch of bitterness linger on the finish, with very good length. The 14.5% alc./vol. is well-balanced. Enjoy over the next 3-4 years. Score: 88 pts


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  • Saturday, July 6, 2019

The Black Chook Shiraz/Viognier 2017 (Australia) - Wine Review

This popular red wine has come through VINTAGES many times over the years - and looking through my database I discovered that I purchased the 2007 vintage of this bottle in 2008. , I opened the latest vintage which arrived in LCBO VINTAGES on  - with plenty still available for purchase at the LCBO.

It is produced by Penny's Hill, a winery located in the rolling foothills east of McLaren Vale and named after a hill that sits at the base of the site in South Australia. The project began in 1988 by Tony and Susie Parkinson when they planted 32 ha of vines facing the waters of Gulf St.Vincent. In 1993, they acquired the newly-planted Malpas Road property, followed in 1996 by acquiring the adjacent, highly prized hay-producing paddock that was planted to vines and named Goss Corner. In 1998, the original Goss family homestead, "Ingleburne", was added to the Malpas and Goss properties to reconnect what had originally been one entire holding.

Today, Tony Parkinson still maintains ownership and management of the business, and joining him is his younger son, James, who is learning the vineyard ropes, and his elder son, David, who is a filmmaker and contributes much to the aesthetics of the enterprise.

The Penny’s Hill Cellar Door chook house is home to The Black Chook brand’s namesake, and the original "Black Chook" can be seen scratching and pecking for grubs under the big old gum tree. The fruit for the Black Chook range of wines are sourced from some of South Australia’s eminent wine regions and are made to be affordable, enjoyed, shared and celebrated. The Black Chook Shiraz/Viognier is sourced from McLaren Vale and Padthaway as both regions have very consistent climates, which helps produce some of the best Shiraz in Australia and work together harmoniously in the final blend.

The Black Chook Shiraz/Viognier 2017 (87 pts)

Tasting Note:

THE BLACK CHOOK SHIRAZ/VIOGNIER 2017 - McLaren Vale/Padthaway, South Australia (#066738) (XD) - $18.95
A blend of Shiraz (96%) and Viognier (4%) that was co-fermented, while vineyard parcels were vinified and matured with suitable oak separately to best express the nuances of each block. The final wine was blended together after 12 months of oak ageing. Screw cap. Fresh, plummy, black cherry aromas mingle with peppery spice and oak notes, and just a hint of floral. It is medium-full bodied on the palate with dark currant and dark berry flavours, along with hints of pepper and oak spice in a dry flavour profile. It has soft, refined tannins and juicy acids. Wood and pepper spice notes linger on the finish. Score: 87 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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  • Friday, June 21, 2019

Wakefield Jaraman Shiraz 2017 (Australia) - Wine Review

After enjoying the 2016 Wakefield Jaraman Shiraz earlier this year, I am delighted to try the 2017 vintage of this wine that will be arriving in LCBO VINTAGES on .

It is produced by Wakefield Wines and within their Jaraman range of wines they search for parcels of extraordinary fruit to craft wines that showcase their distinctive regional characteristics and style.

The growing season leading up to the 2017 vintage in Clare Valley was rather wet and, in fact, the wettest recorded since 2000. Soil temperatures remained very low due to the waterlogged conditions, and below average ambient temperatures resulted in later budburst. However, weather conditions during flowering were favourable and, hence, fruit set was good across all varieties. Harvest began in late February and continued through early May. Overall, the winemakers at Wakefield declared the vintage to be an above average vintage in terms of quantity and quality.

In McLaren Vale, winter and spring saw above average rainfall, leading to full soil profiles. Like in Clare Valley, cooler than average temperatures led to delayed flowering and veraison, which also meant that harvest was also slightly delayed with very few vineyards picked in February. The weather during March & April was stable, with warm and dry conditions and little rainfall. Overall, the winemakers reported the reds to be lively, bright, spicy, vibrant, and elegant.

Compared with the 2016 vintage, the 2017 has a bit less fruit from Clare Valley, with the blend consisting of 60.5% Clare Valley and 39.5% McLaren Vale. The grapes were gently de-stemmed and fermented in small static stainless steel tanks using Shiraz-specific yeast isolate. Gentle pressing occurred in a mixture of American oak hogshead and barriques (30% 1 year old, 70% 2 to 3 year old) for secondary malolactic fermentation, and upon completion was transferred back to barrel for maturation before being fined, filtered, and bottled in August 2018.

Wakefield Jaraman Shiraz 2017 (88 pts)

Tasting Note:

WAKEFIELD JARAMAN SHIRAZ 2017 - Clare Valley/McLaren Vale, South Australia (#377036) (XD) - $24.95
Screw cap. Medium+ intensity nose delivers blackberry pie, plum, dark cherry and spice with hints of violet and mint. The fresh medium+ bodied palate offers more spice notes surrounding a core of blackberry, plum, and dark cherry flavours. Acids are fresh, while tannins are smooth, refined and textured. Finishes on the woody side with a touch of bitter dark chocolate. Very good finish length. Score: 88 pts


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  • Monday, June 10, 2019

Peter Lehmann The Barossan Shiraz 2017 (Australia) - Wine Review

A few weeks ago, I enjoyed the 2016 Peter Lehmann The Barossan Shiraz. T I opened the 2017 vintage of this delicious Australian Shiraz that arrived in LCBO VINTAGES on - and there are plenty of bottles still available across Ontario.

This red wine is crafted by the next generation of Peter Lehmann winemakers, showcasing the superb fruit that is sourced from the many fabled sub-regions across the Barossa Valley. The fruit comes from a selection of Barossa's key growers that are renowned for their quality, skill, and passion.

For the 2017 vintage, the winemakers at Peter Lehmann identified various expressions of Shiraz across the Barossa and blended the high-quality parcels together to seamlessly deliver a complex, layered wine. The 2017 vintage began after a long, wet winter, resulting in damp soils and cooler temperatures which lead to vine development that was slower than normal. The summer had average temperatures with two short heat bursts and well-timed rains. An Indian Summer began in March, allowing for consistent ripening, colour development, and good natural acidity.

Peter Lehmann The Barossan Shiraz 2017 (89 pts)

Tasting Note:

PETER LEHMANN THE BAROSSAN SHIRAZ 2017 - Barossa, South Australia (#522235) (XD) - $21.95
Partially barrel fermented. Matured in a combination of 1-5 year old French and American 300 L oak hogsheads barrels for 12 months. Screw cap enclosure. I like the fairly intense and complex nose that offers cassis, mint, black cherry, licorice, and vanillin oak spices. The medium-full bodied palate has chewy, well-integrated tannins that are quite smooth. More black plum on the flavour profile, followed by cassis, black cherry, oak spice, and licorice notes. Acids are juicy and balanced. Spice and mocha chocolate notes on the mid-palate, lingering through to the long finish. Enjoy over the next 5-6 years. Score: 89 pts


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  • Friday, May 17, 2019

Wines from Santorini Volcanic Terroir

Santorini Volcanic Terroir
In , I was invited to a media luncheon featuring the wines of Santorini, Greece. The luncheon and tasting was hosted and led by Steve Kriaris, owner of Kolonaki Group, and Elias Karkabasis, owner and Sommelier of Pane Vino Trattoria & Wine Bar in Lindsay, Ontario. The venue was VOLOS, a fine Greek restaurant in the heart of downtown Toronto, and a place I realized upon arriving that I had dined here a few years ago with my wife.

Winemaking began in Santorini in 3500 BC, more than 5,000 thousand years ago. In the classic Greek era, the island was called Thera, while today is officially called Thira. The massive volcanic eruption of 1600 BC ultimately created island's caldera and shape as it is today. This explosion left behind a mixture of volcanic ash, pumice stone and pieces of solidified lava and sand, which together make up the soil of Santorini. This soil has little to no organic matter, but is rich in essential minerals, except potassium, thus creating wines with a naturally low pH level and high acidity. All of these factors contribute to creating agricultural products with a distinct profile.

Wines grown on volcanic soils also travel well. As such, when the Italians discovered Santorini in 1200 AD, they began trading wines from the island in amphoras. The wine that was traded the most was the delectably sweet Vinsanto dessert wine and it was exported throughout the Mediterranean and Europe. It was also sent back home to the Pope in Italy - a practice that still occurs today as The Pope receives the oldest and some of the finest Vinsanto directly from Santorini.

Most of the wine production on Santorini consists of white wines and dessert wines. Assyrtiko is the main white grape grown as it thrives in its birthplace, the volcanic island of Santorini. According to appellation rules, Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) Santorini white wines must contain a minimum of 75% Assyrtiko. Most often, it is produced as a single varietal wine, but can also contain the varietals Athiri and Aidani. Nykteri wines are also made with Assyrtiko and aged for at least three months is oak barrels. Vinsanto wines are naturally sweet dessert wines made from sun-dried grapes, must contain at least 51% Assyrtiko and be aged for at least 24 months in oak barrels, allowing the wine to develop additional complexities. PDO Santorini wines have great ageing potential due to their unique characteristics that stem from their volcanic origin, as well as their naturally high acidity and minerality.

All of the wines we tasted during the luncheon were from the Union of Santorini Cooperatives, also known as SantoWines. This co-operative was founded in 1947 and today it is the largest winery on the island, representing more than 1,200 active growers of grapes and other agricultural products. SantoWines is committed to safeguarding local traditional cultivations, producing high quality PDO Santorini wines, tomatoes, and fava, as well as promoting sustainable agriculture development.

In addition to the fine wines from Santorini, there were also a couple of other food items from this small and rich volcanic island. Santorini fava beans are scientifically known as "Lathyrus Clymenum L." and have been grown exclusively on the island for more than 3,500 years. These fava beans are considered a superfood as they have amazing nutritional value and contain more than 20% plant-based protein. Traditionally dried and aged under the sun, this legume has a rich, velvety texture and an earthy, slightly sweet taste.

Fava spread

Tomataki dip (top left) with Saganaki

Santorini tomatoes, commonly known as tomataki, are one-of-a-kind as they are dry-farmed on volcanic soils. They have thick skins with a ruffled shape, a concentrated full-body and a naturally sweet taste. Tomataki also have more vitamin C than regular tomatoes and more lycopene (antioxidant) than any other fruit or vegetable. Tomataki also makes a unique tomato paste, which we got to enjoy during lunch. It has a distinctive dark red colour, velvety texture, and a sweet and slightly minerally taste that was great for dipping with bread.

The wines, as well as the unique Santorini food items can all be purchased through Kolonaki Group. You can also purchase these wines at the LCBO Greece Destination outlet at 200 Danforth Avenue (Toronto), while the first Assyrtiko in the list below is widely available across Ontario.

Thank you Kolonaki Group for the invitation and the opportunity to try these delicious Santorini foods and wines. Lunch was delicious and I was pleasantly surprised to find that my lamb dish paired beautifully with these white wines. Wine reviews of these delicious wines are provided below and I trust that you will enjoy them as much as I dd. Opa!

Exohico (phyllo pastry and braised lamb) with Santo Grand Reserve Assyrtiko

Tasting Notes:

SANTO SANTORINI ASSYRTIKO 2017 - PDO Santorini, Greece (#459032) (XD) - $23.30
Medium+ intensity nose is clean with citrus, herbs and minerality with hints of saline. It is medium+ bodied and concentrated on the minerally-textured palate with nicely balanced aromas replays on the flavour profile. It is structured with vibrant acids, and has a long, juicy finish. Score: 89 pts

Santo Santorini Assyrtiko 2017 (89 pts)Santo Nykteri 2017 (90 pts)


SANTO NYKTERI 2017 - PDO Santorini, Greece (XD) - $33.95
A blend of 75% Assrytiko, 15% Athiri, and 10% Aidani that was harvested at night to keep freshness. Spent 3 months in oak barrels. This is ripe with roasted pineapple, stone fruit, ripe apple, pear, citrus, and melon, with subtle oak influence. All of which comes through on the vibrant palate with lively acids. Clean, elegant and nicely balanced with excellent finish length. Score: 90 pts

SANTO GRANDE RESERVE ASSYRTIKO 2016 - PDO Santorini, Greece (#814186) (XD) - $57.95
This Assyrtiko spent 1 year in French oak barrels. The medium-high intensity nose has a subtle oak influence with Meyer lemon citrus, baked apple, butter, and stone fruit aromas and flavours. It is medium-full bodied and structured with vanilla notes appearing on the palate. There is a nice mineral texture to go along with juicy acids. Long on the finish. Score: 91 pts

Santo Grande Reserve Assyrtiko 2016 (91 pts)Santo Vinsanto 2011 (89 pts)

SANTO VINSANTO 2011 - PDO Santorini, Greece (#654722) (S) (500 mL) - $67.95
Sun-dried 85% Assyrtiko and 15% Aidani grapes that spent 3 years in oak barrels. Deep orange-red-brown colour. Offers complex aromas of sweet spice, golden raisin, fig, dates, plum, honeyed, brown sugar and hints of hazelnut. Full-bodied with more raisin, fig, and sweet plum notes on the palate, with very good acidity and flavours lingering on the long finish. Score: 89 pts


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  • Saturday, April 20, 2019

Domaine la Haute Févrie Sur Lie Muscadet Sèvre et Maine 2017 (Loire) - Wine Review

wine review is a nice organic white wine made with the Melon de Bourgogne varietal that will be coming to LCBO VINTAGES on .

This Domaine was founded by Sébastien Branger's great-grandfather in 1915. Sébastien became the family's fourth generation of winemakers in 2007 when he began working with his father, Claude Branger, at their family estate, Domaine la Haute Févrie. The estate is located in the heart of the Muscadet Sèvre et Maine appellation, 18 km southeast of Nantes, and has 30 ha of vineyards within the appellation.

Since enjoying the 2014 Domaine la Haute Févrie Sur Lie Muscadet Sèvre et Maine when it came through VINTAGES in September 2015, it appears as though the winery undergone a slight brand refresh. The 2017 vintage of this wine arrives with a fresh and more modern looking label, and includes Sébastien's name rather prominently. The family has been busy converting all of their vineyards to certified organic - a task that should be 100% complete with the 2019 vintage. They also farm their grapes using biodynamic principles. This particular Muscadet is also now a certified organic wine and comes from plot called the Clos de la Févrie that is located in the hills overlooking the Maine river in Saint-Fiacre, with vines averaging 35 years of age.

Domaine la Haute Févrie Sur Lie Muscadet Sèvre et Maine 2017 (88 pts)

Tasting Note:

DOMAINE LA HAUTE FÉVRIE SUR LIE MUSCADET SÈVRE ET MAINE 2017 - AC, Loire, France (#390625) (XD) - $15.95
This organic white wine made with Melon de Bourgogne was hand-harvested and spent 7 months on the lees. In the glass, this offers ripe melon, lemon, pear, and white grapefruit aromas with hints of mineral. The medium-bodied palate has a slight spritz with ripe and honeyed flavours of citrus, grapefruit, herbs, and lemon. Acids are crisp and clean, while the mid-palate brings out stony mineral notes that continue through to the finish, with good length. A fine match for oysters, fish, or what I'll be enjoying it with - boiled lobster. Score: 88 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 (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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  • Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Errázuriz Icons Wine Tasting 2019 with Winemaker Francisco Baettig

Errázuriz Icons Wine Tasting 2019
In , I had the pleasure of tasting some iconic wines from the quality, award-winning Chilean producer Viña Errázuriz with Winemaker Francisco Baettig in attendance. I've tasted previous vintages of the Icon wines - La Cumbre, Don Maximiano Founder's Reserve, and Kai - recalling the time I was first introduced to these delicious wines back in , but these wines are so good that it's always a treat to taste them every year.

However, this tasting was really about introducing the Las Pizarras wines. Eduardo Chadwick Claro is the President of Viña Errázuriz and also a descendant of Don Maximiano Errázuriz, the winery's founder. He was named Decanter's Man of the Year in 2018 and is one of the most important people within the Chilean wine scene. He has worked tirelessly to promote the wines of Chile around the world, becoming a true ambassador for the country’s potential to produce premium wines. As Francisco explained, the Las Pizarras wines were borne out of Eduardo Chadwick's desire to create an Icon white wine - as there were none among the existing portfolio. This desire resulted in the creation of a very fine Las Pizarras Chardonnay (now in its 4th vintage) that expresses the estate's terroir. Tagging along with the Chardonnay is also an excellent Las Pizarras Pinot Noir, The Las Pizarras collection also includes a Syrah, which was unfortunately not available for tasting.

Errázuriz Winemaker - Francisco Baettig

In addition to the Icon Wines, there were also wines from their Aconcagua Costa and Aconcagua Alto ranges. The tasting was held at Oretta Restaurant in downtown Toronto and featured a unique food pairing with each of the 10 wines that were available for tasting. I didn't try any of the food items (since my focus was on the wine), but was told by a few others in attendance that the food was quite delicious and paired really well with the wines.

Most of these wines are available at the LCBO, but you can also reach out to Dandurand or Galleon Wines to purchase the Las Pizarras Icon Wines, back vintages, or other wines from the Errázuriz portfolio.

Errázuriz - From the best land, the best wine.

Tasting Notes:

ERRÁZURIZ LAS PIZARRAS CHARDONNAY 2017 - Aconcagua Coast, Chile (XD) - $69.95
From a 5 hectare plot on the Aconcagua Coast estate. The shy nose has a nutty profile with some passion fruit, ripe and slightly baked apple, citrus and vanilla nuances. It is medium-full bodied with lively, fresh acids that are well-balanced with nutty aroma replays. Very nice chalky texture on the palate with nutty aroma replays and touches of vanilla. Cool-climate style. Excellent finish length. Score: 92 pts

Errázuriz Las Pizarras Chardonnay 2017 (92 pts)Errázuriz Las Pizarras Pinot Noir 2017 (92 pts)

ERRÁZURIZ LAS PIZARRAS PINOT NOIR 2017 - Aconcagua Coast, Chile (XD) - $92.95
One of the stars of the tasting. From the cool-climate terroir of the Aconcagua Coast estate that has slate and schist soils. Clean, medium-high intensity aromatics offer elegant spice, red berry, currant, mineral, earth, and hints of tobacco. Nicely textured with fine, elegant tannins on the medium-bodied palate with hints of black tea and spice flavours, plus lovely aroma replays. Lively, balanced acidity lifts the palate. Long, persistent finish. Score: 92 pts

ERRÁZURIZ LA CUMBRE SYRAH 2016 - Aconcagua Valley, Chile (#579821) (XD) - $90
100% Syrah with lovely white pepper, herbs, dill, meaty, black and blueberry, and spice aromas of medium-high intensity. It is medium+ bodied on the palate with elegant, refined tannins that provide structure. There's nice dark-fruited aroma replays on the flavour profile, plus some earthy minerality. Juicy mid-palate with balanced acidity and a nice, long finish. Drinking well now. Score: 92 pts

Errázuriz La Cumbre Syrah 2016 (92 pts)Errázuriz Kai Carmenère 2016 (93 pts)

ERRÁZURIZ KAI CARMENÈRE 2016 - Aconcagua Valley, Chile (#055863) (XD) - $150
93% Carmenère and 7% Syrah. This has an elegant, medium-high intensity nose of dark berry, tobacco, black pepper, graphite, and cedar oak spice. It is medium-full bodied on the palate with nice peppery replays and well-integrated oak flavours. Structured with supple tannins and balanced acidity add to the elegance. Excellent finish length. Score: 93 pts

ERRÁZURIZ DON MAXIMIANO FOUNDER'S RESERVE 2016 - Aconcagua Valley, Chile (#501247) (XD) - $90
This blend of 67% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Carmenère, 8% Malbec, 7% Petit Verdot, and 3% Cabernet Franc has a fairly intense, and pleasing nose of currant, cassis, black and blue fruit and oak aromas. It is full-bodied and dense with very good fruit concentration on the palate with big tannins that are integrating nicely. A touch drying with succulent, mouth-watering acids and lovely aroma replays on the flavour profile. Excellent finish length. Should age gracefully for 10-15 years. Score: 94 pts

Errázuriz Don Maximiano Founder's Reserve 2016 (94 pts)


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  • Sunday, March 17, 2019

Santo Santorini Assyrtiko 2017 (Greece) - Wine Review

wine review is a delicious white wine from the volcanic soils of Santorini, Greece - more on this coming soon.

It is produced by the Union of Santorini Cooperatives, SantoWines that was founded in 1947. Today, it consists of the largest organization of the island representing 1,200 cultivators with the goal of producing quality products (wine and other products) while also safeguarding the local traditional cultivations.

The grapes for this lovely white wine come from the villages of Pyrgos & Imerovigli, on the island of Santorini, at an altitude of up to 400 metres, and vine age ranging from 20 to 60 years old. It was vinified using the classic white wine method - destemmed, juice has skin contact for several hours, and finally fermented and raised completely in stainless steel tanks.

The 2017 vintage of this lovely white wine celebrates 50 years of Santo Wines. It is a General List product at the LCBO and is readily available across Ontario - click on the 6-digit product code below to find a location near you.

Santo Santorini Assyrtiko 2017 (89 pts)

Tasting Note:

SANTO SANTORINI ASSYRTIKO 2017 - PDO Santorini, Greece (#459032) (XD) - $23.30
Clean, medium-high aromatics offering lemon and lime citrus, herbs, and a fine saline minerality. The rich, medium-full bodied palate is dense, structured, and even a bit chewy, with nice aroma replays of lemon citrus, herbs, and yellow fruit backed by lovely saline mineral flavours. Nicely textured with bracing acidity. Fine mineral and lemon citrus notes linger on the long finish. Score: 89 pts


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  • Saturday, February 9, 2019

Rockway 9 Spritz 2017 (Ontario) - Wine Review

wine review is an interesting white wine made by Rockway Vineyards, and is the first of a few wines from Rockway that I'll be writing about over the coming days.

In addition to 75 hectares of vineyards located on premium grape-growing land in the Twenty Mile Bench sub-appellation in Niagara Peninsula, there is also an 18-hole golf course and restaurant on-site. There is also an antique wine museum, where guests can look into the history of winemaking from the 17th to 19th centuries. With all of these attractions, plus the wine, one could easily spend the better part of a day at Rockway Vineyards.

This particular wine takes me back about 4 years ago, when a small group of us gathered at the iYellow Wine Cave for a Vidal table wine tasting. Although this wine is also considered a table wine, it does have a bit of a spritz thanks to a Chardonnay (4%) component that was harvested for a Sparkling wine base and provides nice acidity to accent the aromatic Vidal. Even though the grapes for this wine are from Niagara, Ontario VQA labelling rules state that you cannot use any Niagara appellation names for Vidal table wines, hence this wine is labelled as VQA Ontario.

The 2017 Rockway 9 Spritz normally retails for $15.95, but is currently on promotion for $14.95, and is available exclusively at their winery in Twenty Mile Bench and through their online web store.

Rockway 9 Spritz 2017 (87 pts)

Tasting Note:

ROCKWAY 9 SPRITZ 2017 - VQA Ontario, Canada (M) - $14.95
A blend of 96% Vidal and 4% Chardonnay that was fermented separately in stainless steel tanks. Screw cap gives off gentle hiss when opening. Effervescent lemon twist, melon, and apple aromas with some grapey character. Spritzy with fresh acids lift the medium-bodied and medium-dry (i.e. fairly sweet) palate with grapey, apple, pear and tropical fruit and citrus flavours. Finish length is very good. 10% abv. Fine casual sipper for the patio that will have wide appeal. Serve well-chilled. Score: 87 pts


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  • Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Cliffhanger Pinot Grigio 2017 (Italy) - Wine Review

wine review is a white wine from northern Italy that will be coming to LCBO VINTAGES on .

It is produced by Mezzacorona, one of the oldest and largest, continuous grower co-operatives in all of Italy, tracing its origins to 1904.

Cliffhanger is their concept for wines crafted on the "Edge of Perfection", and this Pinot Grigio is their best expression of the grape from the beautiful Trentino appellation which is inside the Dolomite area in northern Italy. The Trentino DOC is an area that encompasses many small territories, soil conditions, and micro-climates with completely different geological origins. The grapes for this Pinot Grigio come from two places: the hillside vineyards in the north, located 350 metres above sea level at the foothills of the Dolomite Mountains, which runs alongside the Adige River near the city of Trento, and from vines cultivated in the south near Lake Garda.

Cliffhanger Pinot Grigio 2017 (86 pts)

Tasting Note:

CLIFFHANGER PINOT GRIGIO 2017 - DOC Trentino, Italy (#528687) (XD) - $15.95
Medium intensity aromas of ripe stone fruit, think yellow pear and peach, along with some citrus, floral and touches of honey. It is mid-weighted on the honeyed palate with sharp, juicy acids. Honeyed citrus, ripe pear and melon flavours with a kiss of sweetness on the flavour profile. A touch of mineral appears on the finish, with very good length. Simple and widely appealing. Score: 86 pts


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  • Sunday, January 20, 2019

Konzelmann Lakefront Series Pinot Blanc 2017 (Niagara) - Wine Review

wine review is a yummy white wine that is a companion to the 2017 Konzelmann Lakefront Series Merlot that I opened on .

Not to be confused with the other "Pinot" varietals out there, Pinot Blanc is actually a genetic mutation of Pinot Noir, an unstable grape known to naturally mutate. Worldwide, Pinot Blanc isn't grown in large quantities, but it is fairly common in Alsace, Germany, and Austria. In Ontario, Konzelmann Estate Winery, with its German heritage, is one of the very few producers in Niagara growing it, and they have been making Pinot Blanc wines for more than 20 years.

Like the Merlot, this white wine was also picked up at the winery. The 2016 vintage of this wine is currently available for purchase at the LCBO, while the 2017 vintage should arrive in the near future.

Konzelmann Lakefront Series Pinot Blanc 2017 (88 pts)

Tasting Note:

KONZELMANN LAKEFRONT SERIES PINOT BLANC 2017 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#219279) (D) - $14.95
Screw cap. Pale yellow colour. Fairly light on the nose with lemon and mineral aromas, along with hints of melon and floral. Alsatian in style with a medium-bodied and intense palate that is quite fleshy and off-dry with green apple, ripe melon, beeswax, and pear flavours. Nicely textured with well-balanced crisp and refreshing acidity. Very good finish length that's dry with pear, mineral, and floral tones. Score: 88 pts


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  • Friday, January 18, 2019

Konzelmann Lakefront Series Merlot 2017 (Niagara) - Wine Review

Konzelmann Lakefront Series Merlot 2017 (87 pts)
I picked up red wine while visiting Konzelmann Estate Winery back in November during the Taste the Season food & wine pairing event that took place at many wineries in Niagara-on-the-Lake.

Konzelmann is Niagara’s exclusive lakefront winery and is heralded for providing one of the most friendly, informative and educational experiences in Niagara's wine country. On a past visit, I had the opportunity to visit their below-ground tasting room, which was dark, yet cozy, and without much in the way of seating. However, they recently renovated this area and it is now bright and airy, and offers seating for structured wine tastings and educational sessions. I can envision this space also being used for small private events.

This Merlot is the winery's most popular red wine. It is a fairly new release, with a new label for 2017, and is currently available for purchase at the winery and online through their web store. This latest vintage has also just recently arrived at the LCBO and is currently on promotion - with every bottle purchased you receive 6 Bonus Air Miles until . The wine review of this highly quaffable Niagara red is provided below.

Konzelmann Estate Winery Private Tasting Room

Tasting Note:

KONZELMANN LAKEFRONT SERIES MERLOT 2017 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#439281) (D) - $14.95
Screw cap. Soft, medium intensity nose offers ripe red berry, cherry, plum, and black currant aromas with wisps of earth and olive adding savoury elements. It is medium bodied with gritty, textured tannins that are just a touch tight. Fresh, lively acids lift the berry, currant, earthy, and cocoa flavoured dry palate. There's good length on the juicy finish with cocoa, vanilla and earthy notes. Highly drinkable now and should improve in 2020. Score: 87 pts


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  • Friday, January 4, 2019

Southbrook Laundry Vineyard Wines

Southbrook Laundry Vineyard Wines
I had the opportunity to taste these three lovely wines from Southbrook Organic Vineyards recently and am pleased to report that all of them are delicious!

Southbrook recently launched a new tier of "Single Vineyard" wines with a focus on grapes from single sub-appellations, highlighting their dedicated organic growers. The winery is known for their Connect, Triomphe, Estate, and Poetica wines - some of which I also tasted recently. The wines are produced by internationally-acclaimed winemaker, Ann Sperling.

"Over the years I have worked with several organic growers, and have had the opportunity to get to know the quality of each vineyard nearly as well as our own Southbrook Estate. I felt we were ready to show off these unique and worthy vineyard sites as stand-alone wines," said winemaker Ann Sperling. "So, this year we bottled single vineyard wines from our favourite growers - Laundry Vineyard and Saunders Family Vineyard."

The new Single Vineyard collection from Laundry Vineyards includes a 2017 Riesling, 2017 Gamay, and 2016 Pinot Noir. The Riesling and Gamay come from the Vinemount Ridge vineyard, which shows classic properties of the geological area known as the Vinemount Moraine, featuring some of the steepest slopes in the Niagara Peninsula, and mineral-rich soils that are well-suited for growing Riesling and Gamay. The Pinot Noir comes from Heather Laundry's old vines in the Lincoln Lakeshore sub-appellation - an area that is becoming known for producing quality Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.

Heather Laundry has been specializing in Chardonnay since she graduated as one of the first Enology and Viticulture students from CCOVI at Brock University in 2000. While most of her classmates went on to become winemakers, Heather had her heart set on being among the vines. She learned from her mentor, Deborah Paskus, that the biggest impact on a wine could be made in the vineyard.

These new Single Vineyard Laundry wines are available at the winery and online at Southbrook.com. The new Single Vineyard Saunders wines will be released in early 2019.

Tasting Notes:

SOUTHBROOK HEATHER'S HOME VINEYARD ORGANIC RIESLING 2017 - VQA Vinemount Ridge, Niagara Escarpment, Ontario, Canada (#650135) (XD) - $22.95
Clone 21 Riesling. Screw cap. Lovely, linear, medium-high intensity aromatics of lime citrus, white peach, wet stone, and limestone minerality. The palate is medium+ bodied, fleshy and just off-dry with more lime citrus, peach and stony mineral flavours, and a whiff of honey. Nicely balanced with brilliant acidity providing freshness. Lovely wet stone notes linger on the long finish. Score: 91 pts

Southbrook Heather's Home Vineyard Organic Riesling 2017 (91 pts)

SOUTHBROOK LAUNDRY VINEYARD GAMAY 2017 - VQA Vinemount Ridge, Niagara Escarpment, Ontario, Canada (#646323) (XD) - $24.95
Planted on north-facing slopes and hand-harvested. Screw cap. Fresh, highly aromatic and pretty nose offers red berry, spice, black plum and whiffs of earthy and savoury notes. It is light-to-medium bodied on the palate with red berry, currant, herbs, tea leaf, and earthy flavours with dusty tannins adding a nice textural element and some structure. Acids are fresh. Appealing tea leaf notes linger on the long, juicy finish. A lovely expression of Niagara Gamay to enjoy over the next 3-4 years. Score: 90 pts

Southbrook Laundry Vineyard Gamay 2017 (90 pts)

SOUTHBROOK LAUNDRY VINEYARD PINOT NOIR 2016 - VQA Lincoln Lakeshore, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $35
Organically grown Pinot Noir clone 115, hand-harvested. Lovely ruby red colour. Fresh and spicy on the nose with ripe raspberry, wild berry and earthy aromas, along with touches of oak spice. It is light-to-medium bodied on the palate with brilliant, mouth-watering acids supporting the raspberry, earth, and spice flavours with hints of strawberry. Nicely textured and structured, with tight, chalky tannins. Savoury and red berry notes linger on the long, juicy finish. Enjoyable now, but better in a 1-2 years. Score: 91+ pts

Southbrook Laundry Vineyard Pinot Noir 2016 (91+ pts)


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