Showing posts with label 2017. Show all posts
Showing posts with label 2017. Show all posts
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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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  • Saturday, December 15, 2018

Cantina di Negrar Appassimento 2017 (Veneto) - Wine Review

wine review is a red wine that recently arrived to the LCBO and is widely available throughout Ontario.

It is produced by Cantina Valpolicella Negrar, a winery that was founded in the commune of Negrar in Veneto in the 1930's.

The catchy and interesting label of this Appassimento depicts Ulysses' (a.k.a. Odysseus in Greek) 10-year journey home from Troye to Ithaca. Every facet of his journey captivates the sense of discovery, self-discovery, and world discovery Ulysses experiences in those enchanted 10 years, including  Lotus eaters, Circe the Enchantress, the singing winged sirens, the one-eyed giant Cyclops, the six-headed monster Scylla, the violent whirlpool Charybdis, his journey to the underworld to learn of his future, the bags of wind from Aeolus, and his 7 year stay with the nymph Calypso. Each tale embodies a sense of enchantment and delight, drawing the reader in, the urge to know and discover more. Let's see if what's inside the bottle is just as captivating.

Cantina di Negrar Appassimento 2017 (87 pts)

Tasting Note:

CANTINA DI NEGRAR APPASSIMENTO 2017 - IGT Veneto, Italy (#629865) (D) - $15.90
A Corvina-based blend made using dried grapes (i.e. appassimento method). Medium+ intensity nose features sweet spice, fig, cherry, and earthy aromas. It is medium-full bodied with smooth, dusty tannins and a juicy core with pleasing milk chocolate, cherry, and earthy aroma replays in an off-dry flavour profile. Some tannic grip arrives mid-palate. Nice balance throughout, with earth and cocoa flavours lingering on the long, juicy finish. Widely appealing style. Score: 87 pts


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  • Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Southbrook Wild Ferment Chardonnay 2017 (Niagara) - Wine Review

wine review is an organic and biodynamic Chardonnay from Niagara that is also suitable for vegans and vegetarians. I enjoyed the 2013 Southbrook Estate Grown Small Lot Wild Ferment Chardonnay almost 3 years ago to the date (and still have another bottle in the cellar), so I am curious to see how this latest version will be.

This delicious white wine is produced by Southbrook Vineyards, a leading producer of organic wines and based in Niagara-on-the-Lake. While previous editions of the Wild Ferment Chardonnay were estate grown, this latest edition is the first "Wild Ferment Chardonnay" that uses grapes sourced from selected organic Chardonnay growers across the Niagara Escarpment, including grapes from the Saunders' family home vineyard in Beamsville. Individual vineyard lots were separately fermented wild in French oak barrels, and only after ageing were selected barrels blended to create the final wine.

This lovely bottle was just released this month and is available for purchase on-site at the winery, and will be available online through their web store very soon.

Southbrook Wild Ferment Chardonnay 2017 (91 pts)

Tasting Note:

SOUTHBROOK WILD FERMENT CHARDONNAY 2017 - VQA Niagara Escarpment, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#644625) (XD) - $40
Yellow fruit scented with pear, apple, citrus, and buttery vanilla notes in a slightly reductive style. It is medium-bodied on the palate with fresh and lively acids. Ripe and slightly honeyed on the dry flavour profile with pear, apple, lemon and orange citrus, and subtle oak spice flavours. Fine mineral texture adds complexity to the flavours mid-palate and lingers through to the long, juicy mineral and citrusy finish. Clean and elegant, enjoy this fine Chardonnay over the next 5 years. Score: 91 pts


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  • Monday, November 19, 2018

Southbrook Vidal Skin Fermented White Orange Wine 2017 (Niagara) - Wine Review

wine is a very interesting natural, organic and biodynamic orange wine produced by Southbrook Vineyards. Technically, orange wines are now known as a skin-fermented white wines. Southbrook has produced this style of wine under the guiding hands of winemaker Ann Sperling for several years now, with latest rendition being the 2017 vintage that was bottled in January and released for sale in June.

The grapes for this wine were hand-harvested from Southbrook's Estate in the Four Mile Creek sub-appellation of Niagara-on-the-Lake. Small lots of grapes, including stems, were cluster-sorted and foot-trodden before undergoing wild yeast and malolactic fermentation over 30 days. After gentle pressing, the wine was naturally chilled outdoors, settled, and bottled without any filtration or additives, and is free of sulphites.

This orange wine is suitable for vegans and vegetarians, and available for purchase through the winery and soon at the LCBO.

Southbrook Vidal Skin Fermented White Orange Wine 2017 (91 pts)

Tasting Note:

SOUTHBROOK VIDAL SKIN FERMENTED WHITE ORANGE WINE 2017 - VQA Ontario, Canada (#628065) (XD) - $29.95
Stelvin screw cap enclosure. Cloudy orange colour. Highly fragrant nose offers aromas of citrus and black tea leaves with hints of floral and sage. More pronounced tart citrus, floral, and black tea flavours are well-balanced on the nicely textured, medium-bodied palate. Dry mouthfeel with some chalkiness. Acids are bright and balanced. Some tea, sage and earthy notes linger on the long finish. I'll be honest, I have tasted previous vintages and never really been a big fan of this wine, but this latest vintage is very compelling and engaging. Highly recommended. Best with a light chill. Score: 91 pts


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  • Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Mauro Molino Barolo (Piedmont) Wine Tasting

Mauro Molino Barolo Wine Tasting

At the , I was invited to a special tasting of some very fine Barolo wines from Piedmont's highly acclaimed Mauro Molino. The tasting was held at the Fine Wine Reserve on King St. W. in downtown Toronto.

Mauro Molino was born in Piemonte and graduated from Alba Winemaking School in 1973. After a few years of making wine in Emilia-Romagna, he returned to start his own winery in the Langhe following the passing of his father in 1979. His father left him some vineyards, which Mauro then envisioned as an opportunity to embark on a new winemaking career in his beloved homeland. After spending a few years improving his vineyards and cellar, which is built in Annunziata of La Morra, he began producing wines such as the top-end Conca in 1982, one of the Barolo area's smallest and unique single vineyards.

In 2003, Mauro's son, Matteo, joined the company as winemaker, and in 2009 his daughter Martina began working with the commercial aspect of the company. Both graduated from Alba Winemaking School and are an integral part of the winery today.

The family winery continues to produce wines in Annunziata of La Morra, with the utmost respect for traditions. In total, they have 14 hectares of vineyards, 50% of which is planted to Nebbiolo destined for Barolo.

Fernando Burani, Export Manager

Representing the winery at this tasting was Export Manager, Fernando Burani. He graciously poured the first few of the 10 wines that were available for tasting.

Wine reviews of my top 5 wines are provided below. All of the wines available at the tasting can be ordered online via lcbo.com. Thank you Le Sommelier for the invite and the opportunity to taste these fabulous wines.

Tasting Notes:

MAURO MOLINO ROERO ARNEIS 2017 - DOCG, Piedmont, Italy (#588755) (XD) - $27.95
Medium-high intensity nose offers appealing notes of papaya, white peach, orange citrus and hints of Flintstone vitamins. It's medium-full bodied on the structured palate with lovely mineral and savoury character joining the ripe fruits. Clean acids and excellent length with a nice minerally finish. Score: 90+ pts

Mauro Molino Roero Arneis 2017 (90+ pts)Mauro Molino Dolcetto Langhe 2017 (89 pts)

MAURO MOLINO DOLCETTO LANGHE 2017 - DOC, Piedmont, Italy (#588763) (XD) - $21.95
Nice dark berry, floral, mint and tobacco aromas and flavours, with a touch raisiny character on the medium intensity nose. It's medium-full bodied on the palate with supple tannins offering nice structure and texture. Very good fruit concentration and a long, balanced finish. Score: 89 pts

MAURO MOLINO BAROLO BRICCO LUCIANI 2014 - DOCG, Piedmont, Italy (#588714) (XD) - $82.95
From vines located 270 metres above sea level on compact clay and limestone soils, this has a gorgeous, highly aromatic and pretty nose featuring rose florals, dried cherry, clove, and sweet vanilla oak. It is full bodied with softened tannins that have presence. Very nice aroma replays and well-balanced overall. Classy, elegant, long-lasting finish. My favourite of the tasting. Score: 93 pts

Mauro Molino Barolo Bricco Luciani 2014 (93 pts)Mauro Molino Barolo La Serra 2014 (92 pts)

MAURO MOLINO BAROLO LA SERRA 2014 - DOCG, Piedmont, Italy (#604065) (XD) - $96.95
From vines located in the highest part of the municipality of La Morra, at 370 to 400 metres above sea level, on calcareous/clayey soils, this has a generous nose of dark berry, blackberry, and oak spice aromas with leafy hints. It's medium-full bodied on the crunchy palate and balanced acids. Nicely balanced tannins gain presence with time. Curranty flavours add complexity on the mid-palate. Excellent finish length. Still youthful, will be better in 3-4 years. Score: 92 pts

MAURO MOLINO BAROLO CONCA 2014 - DOCG, Piedmont, Italy (#604073) (XD) - $125.95
The nose seems shy at the moment, offering glimpses of oak spice, dark cherry, cassis and berry aromas. The palate is structured with firm tannins and flavours of mocha, chocolate and red berry notes wrapped around fresh acidity. A big wine that needs 3-4 years to integrate. Score: 92+ pts

Mauro Molino Barolo Conca 2014 (92+ pts)


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  • Sunday, September 16, 2018

Château Mourgues du Grès Fleur d'Eglantine 2017 (Rhône) - Wine Review

wine review is a lovely rosé that I picked up while visiting the winery in Rhône Valley back in .

Château Mourgues du Grès is a family-owned, certified organic winery located in Beaucaire, on the slopes of Costières de Nîmes and nestled between vineyards, orchards, and heath. Their terroir is quite rich and made up of the rounded stones (grès) and lies on argilo-calcerous marl, which help the vines draw moisture from greater depths. The stony alluvium was transported from the Alps by the glacier of the Rhône in the quaternary era (nearly 2 million years ago) and imparts miinerality, balance and freshness to the wines. The area is also nurtured by the influences of the Rhône river and the Mediterranean Sea.

The winery is committed to preserving the environment by being mindful of nature and respect for their terroir. The vineyards are maintained and kept fertile by sheep grazing and cover crops to prevent erosion and promote biodiversity. Since 2015, wines have been vinified without the use of sulphur, except for a small amount during bottling to ensure stability of the wine.

Vigneron François Collard returned to the family estate in 1990 and produced his first bottling in 1993. He strives to reveal the purity of fruit, freshness, aromas, and balance between the richness and minerality of every wine he produces, including this delightful rosé.

For availability in Ontario, please contact Brand New Day Wines & Spirits.

Château Mourgues du Grès Fleur d'Eglantine 2017 (88+ pts)

Tasting Note:

CHÂTEAU MOURGUES DU GRÈS FLEUR D'EGLANTINE 2017 - AP Costières de Nîmes, Rhône, France (XD) - €7.5
Mostly Grenache and Mourvèdre, with a dash of Syrah. Vague notions of spring flower and grapefruit from the cork. In the glass, this has delicate aromas of grapefruit and rhubarb with a fine mineral underpinning, and hints of strawberry. It's medium-full bodied on the clean, fresh palate with nicely dry grapefruit and rhubarb flavours. Fresh acids are nicely balanced. A fine salty mineral note and some spiciness arrives mid-palate and continues through to the long, juicy finish. Best with a light chill. Score: 88+ pts


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  • Friday, September 7, 2018

Marqués de Caceres Rosado 2017 (Spain) - Wine Review

wine review is a nice rosado (a.k.a. rosé) from Spain that will be coming to LCBO VINTAGES on .

The story of Marqués de Cáceres begins its roots in 1920, when Enrique Forner's grandfather and father founded Vinícola Forner - a small family business devoted to producing wine. Enrique worked in the wine trade as a boy and, after being exiled to France during the Civil War, he founded a similar business in France in 1952. Eventually, he returned to Spain and founded Marqués de Cáceres in 1970. He has been part of an enterprising family that has been devoted to the wine trade now for five generations, including his daughter, Cristina Forner, who manages the winery today.

In the 1990s, the trend for innovation continued as young oenologists and wine producers looked to Bordeaux for inspiration. Michel Rolland, the most influential enologist in Bordeaux at the time, was brought on as an adviser. Marqués de Cáceres and Michel were united in their obsession to produce quality wines.

Today, Marqués de Cáceres has the leading Rioja in Spain and exports their wines to more than 120 countries around the globe, including delicious wines such as this Rosado in Ontario, Canada.

Marqués de Caceres Rosado 2017 (87 pts)

Tasting Note:

MARQUÉS DE CACERES ROSADO 2017 - DOCa Rioja, Spain (#622142) (XD) - $14.95
Blend of 96% Tempranillo and 4% Garnacha Tinta from 15-20-year old vines grown on mainly clay and limestone. Screw cap. This has a medium+ intensity nose with herbally and red currant aromas surrounded by a core of red cherry, strawberry, and watermelon notes. The crunchy palate is a touch honeyed, yet dry, and offers more cherry, strawberry, and watermelon flavours on a medium+ bodied frame. It has food-friendly acids, while the finish length is very good. Score: 87 pts


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  • Sunday, September 2, 2018

Wine Reviews from August 5, 2018 Birthday Party

Wine Line-up for Aug. 5 Birthday Party

Last month, we held a birthday party for my toddler daughter and a few of her close friends. And for the adults - there was wine!

The dry rosé was easily the most popular wine at the party, while the Riesling and Shiraz were a close second. All three wines are fairly recent releases to VINTAGES, so you should be able to pick up a bottle at your local LCBO. Full wine reviews are provided below.

Tasting Notes:

GÉRARD BERTRAND CÔTE DES ROSES ROSÉ 2017 - AP Languedoc, Midi, France (#373985) (XD) - $18.95
Glass enclosure. The medium+ intensity nose has appealing aromas of grapefruit, citrus, spring meadow and herbally notes. On the medium+ bodied palate, it has clean and crisp acids with nice texture. Herbally and grapefruit flavours on the dry flavour profile. Touch honeyed, with some bitterness on the long finish. Grenache, Cinsault, and Syrah. Enjoy over the next 18 months. Part of the VINTAGES Essentials collection and released as part of the May 12 LCBO VINTAGES Release. Score: 89 pts

Gérard Bertrand Côte des Roses Rosé 2017 (89 pts)

REDSTONE LIMESTONE VINEYARD SOUTH RIESLING 2016 - VQA Twenty Mile Bench, Niagara Escarpment, Ontario, Canada (#381251) (M) - $19.95
Screw cap. Lovely limestone mineral and petrol aromas mingle with white peach and citrus. It's medium-sweet with nicely balanced acids and flavours with white peach, orange zest, citrus, and green apple flavours with hints of mineral. Tart fruited, lip-smacking finish, with very good length. July 21 LCBO VINTAGES Release. Score: 89 pts

Redstone Limestone Vineyard South Riesling 2016 (89 pts)

DANDELION LIONESS OF MCLAREN VALE SHIRAZ 2016 - McLaren Vale, South Australia (#357475) (XD) - $21.95
Full wine review here.

Dandelion Lioness of McLaren Vale Shiraz 2016 (88+ pts)


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