Showing posts with label 2019. Show all posts
Showing posts with label 2019. Show all posts

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  • Date publishedMonday, November 23, 2020

Ruelas Reserva Red 2019 (Portugal) - Wine Review



wine review is a red wine from Portugal that is a new arrival to the LCBO as part of the LCBO VINTAGES Release.

It is produced by Parras Wines, a wine business that was formed in 2010 by Luís Vieira, but whose roots took hold with the acquisition of Quinta do Gradil in 1999. Parras Wines is based in the wine region of Lisbon and has more than 120 hectares of vines planted across 200 hectares of land. They also have their own bottling facility and produce wines from other parts of the country through partnerships with other local producers.

The Lisbon Geographical Indication (IG) appellation is one of the most important Portuguese wine regions in terms of vineyard area and wine production. It is formed by gentle hills of low relief, and extends north from the capital city of Lisbon, along the Atlantic coast no more than 40 km from the ocean. This multi-faceted region encompasses several denominations of origin, ancient and modern, with distinct characteristics. It has a temperate climate of Atlantic influence, with relatively mild summers that are cooler and wetter in areas closer to the sea, and warmer and drier in the areas protected by Montejunto Mountain.

This particular bottle is crafted by winemaker Carlos Eduardo using Tinta Roriz (Tempranillo), Touriga Nacional, and Syrah. It was fermented in stainless steel vats and then aged in oak for a brief period.

Ruelas Reserva Red 2019 (86 pts)

Tasting Note:

RUELAS RESERVA RED 2019 - Vinho Regional Lisboa, Portugal (#17519) (XD) - $11.95
A blend of 50% Tinta Roriz, 30% Touriga Nacional, and 20% Syrah that was aged for only a brief time in oak. The medium+ intensity aromas are ripe and fruity with dark red cherry and sweet spices with touches of raisin and fig. It's medium+ with more ripe dark cherry, sweet spice and some raisiny flavours to go along with fresh, balanced acidity and supple, slightly chalky tannins. Sweet vanillin oak and savoury notes lnger on the finish. Casual, weekday wine that has crowd-appeal. Score: 86 pts

Other wines from this producer can be ordered via their Agent - Capital B Wines.


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  • Date publishedTuesday, November 17, 2020

Trinity Hill The Gimblett 2016 and Sauvignon Blanc 2019 (New Zealand) - Wine Reviews

Trinity Hill Sauvignon Blanc 2019 (89 pts) and The Gimblett 2016 (91 pts)
wine reviews are a pair of lovely wines from New Zealand's iconic Trinity Hill that arrived in LCBO VINTAGES on . I've been enamoured with this winery and the Hawke's Bay region ever since enjoying the 2014 Trinity Hill The Trinity Red Blend a couple of years ago that I made it a point to visit the Hawke's Bay and Trinity Hill when I visited New Zealand earlier this year - more on this to come.

The idea of Trinity Hill was formed in 1987 when winemaker John Hancock met with Bleeding Heart restaurant owners Robyn and Robert Wilson at their restaurant in London. On a stony site in Hawke's Bay, Trinity Hill became a reality in 1993 because they recognized that this site would give them the ability to produce world-class wines. They also recognized the potential of the Hawkes Bay's Gimblett Gravels winegrowing district and quickly became one of the region's early pioneers by planting grape vines on a barren plot on the former bed of the Ngaruroro River that is now an 18 hectare vineyard.

By 2001, Trinity Hill helped found the Gimblett Gravels Winegrowers Association. It was created based on the terroir of the area of the old Ngaruroro Riverbed, with 34 member wineries and winegrowers making up the association.

Today, Robyn and Robert Wilson are still co-owners of Trinity Hill, while John Hancock moved on in 2018 to focus on his own negociant wine business. Warren Gibson is the Chief Winemaker. He worked with John prior to the creation of Trinity Hill and joined the team to work alongside John in 1997, earning several accolades along the way. Trinity produces wines using traditional Hawke's Bay varietals such as Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot, as well as (my favourite) Syrah, and, of course, Sauvignon Blanc. All Trinity Hill wines are produced with the utmost care and respect for the grapes and with minimum intervention. Making world-class wines for more than 20 years, Trinity Hill truly is one of New Zealand's iconic wineries.

Tasting Notes:

TRINITY HILL SAUVIGNON BLANC 2019 - Sustainable, Hawke's Bay, North Island, New Zealand (#247221) (XD) - $19.95
Screw cap. The fruit for this Sauvignon Blanc was sourced from Mangaorapa Station’s cool climate and argillite soils, in southern Hawke's Bay. Most of the wine was cool fermentated and spent 3 months in contact with lees, while a smaller portion was fermented and aged in small 228 L barriques. Elegant, restrained aromas of lime, citrus and stone fruits with touches of guava, passion fruit, and leesy characters. The medium bodied palate has a nice texture with more citrusy lime and stone fruit flavours joined by subtle leesy and oak notes that balance the crisp, fresh, and lively acidity. Interesting notes of oyster shell minerality linger on the long, juicy finish. Would be a fine pairing with oysters. Score: 89 pts

Trinity Hill Sauvignon Blanc 2019 (89 pts)Trinity Hill The Gimblett 2016 (91 pts)

TRINITY HILL THE GIMBLETT 2016 - Gimblett Gravels, Hawke's Bay, North Island, New Zealand (#280263) (XD) - $39.95
Screw cap. This blend of 43% Cabernet Sauvignon, 41% Cabernet Franc, 14% Merlot, and 2% Malbec has lovely, perfumed aromas of ripe red and black fruits, currant, cassis and spices with subtle notes of sweet tobacco, floral, herb and leather. Some olive aromas develop with time in the glass. It's medium-full+ bodied on the palate with firm, structured, and grippy tannins along with juicy acidity that supports the blackberry, cassis, currant, earthy, and cedary oak flavours. Savoury, earthy and woody on the finish, with excellent length. Enjoy to the late 2020s. Score: 91 pts

Other fine wines from Trinity Hill can be ordered through their Agent - Connexion Oenophilia.


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  • Date publishedTuesday, October 27, 2020

13th Street June's Vineyard Chardonnay 2019 (Niagara) - Wine Review

wine review is a delicious, locally-made, unoaked Chardonnay from Niagara that arrives in LCBO VINTAGES on .

It is produced by 13th Street Winery in St. Catharines, Ontario, within the Niagara Peninsula. 13th Street Winery was founded in 1988 and purchased by the current owners, John & June Mann and Doug & Karen Whitty, in 2008. Doug is the third generation to operate the family farm and both families have deep roots in the Niagara community. Together, along with French-trained winemaker Jean Pierre Colas, they strive to create exceptional wines that reflect the unique terroir of Niagara.

This particular Chardonnay uses fruit from June's Vineyard. This estate vineyard is named after one of the owners, June Mann, and is located just south of the winery on 5th Avenue, on the west side of Seventh Street Louth. Situated at the base of the Niagara Escarpment, this gorgeous site was established in 1999 and has a distinctive terroir of hard pale clay loam with decomposed yellow limestone soils that produce unique and expressive wines. The Chardonnay planted on this site is Burgundy Clone 96 and was carefully manual-harvested and full bunch pressed. It was fermented and aged in 100% stainless steel tanks, and also underwent full malolactic fermentation. The wine also spent 6 months on its fine lees prior to bottling in spring 2020. Let's see how this unoaked Chardonnay is tasting tonight...

13th Street June's Vineyard Chardonnay 2019 (89 pts)

Tasting Note:

13TH STREET JUNE'S VINEYARD CHARDONNAY 2019 - VQA Creek Shores, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#236745) (XD) - $21.95
Screw cap. This unoaked Chardonnay has a medium+ intensity nose of ripe apple, stone fruit, citrus, and white peach aromas surrounded by leesy characters. It's medium+ bodied on the creamy, nicely textured palate that is ripe with golden apple, honeysuckle, citrus and leesy flavours with a touch of earthy minerality. Acids are well-balanced, while the finish is long and crisp with apple, earthy mineral, and some pleasing mealy notes adding complexity. Enjoy well-chilled. Score: 89 pts


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  • Date publishedThursday, October 22, 2020

Susana Balbo Signature Rosé 2019 (Argentina) - Wine Review

Personally, I enjoy drinking rosé all year-round, so for wine review I opened this lovely rosé from Argentina that arrived during the summer as part of the LCBO VINTAGES Release.

It is produced by Susana Balbo Wines, a family winery located at the foothills of the Andes in the town of Agrelo, Luján de Cuyo, within the province of Mendoza. After working in the wine business as a consultant around the globe for nearly two decades, Susana Balbo decided to fulfill a dream of having her own winery and established Susana Balbo Wines in 1999. After ten years of steady growth, Susana welcomed her children - José, winemaker who graduated from UC Davis (California) and Ana, Bachelor of Business Administration from University San Andrés (Buenos Aires) - to the family business as they joined the team.

The team at Susana Balbo Wines is devoted to sustainable winemaking, quality, and innovation. They work daily to address issues related to their product's sustainability throughout all of their production processes, including corporate social responsibility, environmental impact, and economic growth. Susana Balbo Wines has acquired various sustainability certifications and is in the process of becoming a Certified B Corporation.

Argentina is characterized by having large tracts of fertile land with diverse climates. Being situated at the foothills of the Andes, these high mountains accumulate ice of the purest water which will then slowly melt during the spring and summer months to provide a unique source for the development of their vineyards. And even though Malbec is the most widely planted varietal in Argentina, it offers a wide palate of flavours depending on the altitude and soil where it is planted. weather conditions, and the winemaking process. This brings us to the art of blending, where Susana combines the knowledge of terroir and winemaking skills, allowing her to express her talent.

As with the 2018 Susana Balbo Signature White Blend that I enjoyed back in August, tonight's rosé wine is also a blend. This dry rosé is a blend of 60% Malbec and 40% Pinot Noir that was grown in vineyards 1,200 metres above and hand-harvested. Susana decided to experiment by creating a new, fresh, aromatic, and engaging rosé in the style of Provence, applying similar techniques used for white wines - early picking times and extremely gentle pressing to get a very light-pink, red onion peel, salmon colour.

If you are in the Ottawa area, there are quite few bottles this delicious rose available for purchase at the LCBO, while only minute quantities remain elsewhere across Ontario. This rosé is also available, along with other wines from Susana Balbo, via their Agent - Profile Wine Group.

Susana Balbo Signature Rosé 2019 (90 pts)

Tasting Note:

SUSANA BALBO SIGNATURE ROSÉ 2019 - Altamira, Uco Valley, Mendoza, Argentina (#493130) (XD) - $22.95
A hand-harvested 60/40 blend of Malbec and Pinot Noir grown at 1,200 metres above sea level. It has an elegant melange of melon, grapefruit, orange citrus and floral aromas. It is medium-full bodied with good concentration on the palate with bright, lively acidity. Tangy citrus, grapefruit, peppery, and mineral with a kiss of honeyed notes in a dry flavour profile. Crisp and dry on the long finish with a touch of mineral. Lovely! Score: 90 pts


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  • Date publishedSaturday, August 15, 2020

Argentina: A Mini-Tasting Trip - August 22, 2020 VINTAGES Release Wine Reviews

Wines of Argentina
After exploring and enjoying some fabulous Wines of Argentina a couple of weeks ago, tonight's wine reviews are another look at three Argentine wines coming to LCBO VINTAGES on August 22 and one that is in stores now.

Grapes are grown in Argentina stretching 3,800 km from north to south. with vineyards making quality wines covering nearly 500,000 acres. The diversity of terroirs where the vines are grown imprint distinctive characters and profiles of each variety.

Torrontés is the most cultivated white wine varietal in Argentina with 5% of the total cultivated area within the country devoted to the grape. Torrontés is only found in Argentina and there are three variants - Mendocino, Sanjuanino, and Riojano. Of the three variants, Riojano is the most cultivated and expresses the best qualities for the production of fine wines, especially those found in Cafayate Valley, Salta. Torrontés is Argentina's signature white wine and winemaker Susana Balbo is known as the "Queen of Torrontés" for her role in transforming Torrontés from an unknown blending grape into Argentina’s star white varietal.

Pink-skinned varieties - primarily the indigenous Cereza and Criolla Grande - currently make up 24% of all vines cultivated in Argentina. However, in the not-too-long-ago past, these varietals were actually the most widely planted in the country until they were supplanted by Malbec in more recent years. While I don't think I have ever seen (or tasted) wines made with these indigenous grapes, Pinot Gris also falls into the pink-skinned category and is included as part of the blend that makes up the Luigi Bosca Rosé.

Malbec is far and away the most widely planted varietal in Argentina, claiming top spot only in 2011, with 22% of the country's vine acreage devoted to the grape. It is Argentina's flagship red wine grape and many of the country's top wines are made using this varietal. An astounding 85% of the Malbec planted in Argentina is within Mendoza, while in second place is San Juan (neighbouring north of Mendoza) with 6%. In third place is Salta, in the north of Argentina, with just over 3%. These three region combine to produce 94% of the country's Malbec.

The Malbec reviewed below is one of my favourite wallet-friendly Malbec wines - and there are many - as Argentina is widely known for offering great value for the quality of its wines. This particular Malbec is from Tunuyán in the Uco Valley, nestled beside the cordillera of the Andes in higher altitude, cooler, and southern area of Mendoza that is characterized by the crossing of the Las Tunas and Tunuyán rivers. The vineyards in Uco Valley range in altitude from 900 to 2,200 metres above sea level (masl), which are the highest in Mendoza and among the highest in the world. Tunuyán was first settled in the 17th century, but only began planting vines in 1995. As the vines matured, it was realized beginning in 2010 that the high altitude vines in Tunuyán create a different wine style. This led to further research to understand the terroir of the area, and eventually the discovery of exciting micro-regions within Tunuyán.

The last wine in this post comes from the Paraje Altamira GI (Geographical Indication), an area located to the south of Uco Valley in San Carlos, right next to La Consulta. The area, which was originally called Altamira, was known for producing excellent grapes for many years - it was first planted in 1900. It produces wines of unique colour and tannic concentration, flavour and freshness. Paraje Altamira GI is placed at an altitude of 1,000 to 1,200 masl and officially became a GI in 2013 and now consists of an area nearly 10,000 ha, of which nearly 3,000 ha are planted to vine. One of the most important aspects of Paraje Altamira GI is that it was the first appellation in Argentina delineated by the concept of terroir - instead of by political boundaries - paving the way for future terroir-based GIs. The end result are unique, high-quality, and delicious wines with a sense of place.

Tasting Notes:

SUSANA BALBO CRIOS TORRONTÉS 2019 - Argentina (#1834) (XD) - $14.95 $12.95 until Sept. 13.
Torrontés grapes from Cafayate (Salta) and Uco Valley (Mendoza) grown at an average of 1,700 masl. All of the fruit was hand-harvested and spent 3 months on lees. Screw cap. Fresh and highly aromatic with floral, green grassy-herbal, lemon citrus, and grapefruit notes. The medium-bodied, slightly creamy palate has crunchy, tart citrus fruit flavours plus some herbs and floral. Acids are well-balanced and juicy. Somewhat chalky mineral textured and saline on the mid-palate, followed by mineral and lime citrus notes on the finish, with very good length. VINTAGES Essentials listing and available year-round. Agent: Profile Wine Group. Score: 88 pts

Susana Balbo Crios Torrontés 2019 (88 pts)Luigi Bosca A Rosé Is A Rosé Is A Rosé 2019 (88 pts)

LUIGI BOSCA A ROSÉ IS A ROSÉ IS A ROSÉ 2019 - Mendoza, Argentina (#553032) (XD) - $18.95
A blend of Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir from grapes grown in Luján de Cuyo and Maipú at an altitude of 780 metres. An interesting caramel and honey nose surrounds notes of citrus and grapefruit. It's quite full and structured in the mouth with honeyed, floral, grapefruit, and tangy citrus flavours in a dry profile. Juicy acids follow through to the honey and floral finish. A big, dry rosé with very good length. Agent: FWM Canada. Score: 88 pts

SALENTEIN RESERVE MALBEC 2018 - Tunuyán, Uco Valley, Mendoza, Argentina (#640854) (XD) - $17.95
100% estate grown Malbec from shallow, alluvial, and pebbly soils, with 70% coming from the El Oasis estate (1,050+ masl) and 30% from the La Pampa estate (1,250+ masl). The clean, medium-high intensity nose offers smoky minerality, dark berry, spice, and plum with whiffs of dried herb. It's mid-weighted on the fresh, juicy palate with very good acidity and flavours of dark berry, blackberry, smoky mineral, and spice with touches of violet. Tannins are smooth and refined. Dark berry and mineral with touches of chocolate linger on the long, juicy finish. Agent: Azureau Wines & Spirits. Score: 89 pts

Salentein Reserve Malbec 2018 (89 pts)Zaha El Corte 2016 (91+ pts)

ZAHA EL CORTE 2016 - Toko Vineyard, Paraje Altamira, Mendoza, Argentina (#629972) (XD) - $24.95
Zaha means "Heart" in the native Huarpe language of Mendoza. The Toko (stone) vineyard has diverse soils - sandy soils, rocky limestone rich soils with abundant white surface stones, and shallow silty soils mixed with gravel. Co-fermented blend of 78% Malbec and 22% Cabernet Sauvignon. Fresh, spicy, scorched earth, and stony mineral notes jump out of the glass followed by some dark spices, herbs, and dark berry. The refined, medium-full bodied palate has smooth, structured, nicely textured and slightly chalky tannins. It's very minerally on the flavour profile with spice, dried herb, plum, and dark berry tones. Acids are fresh and mouth-watering. It's well-balanced throughout with mineral notes lingering on the long, juicy, and spicy finish. Very distinctive and highly recommended buy. Agent: Noble Estates Wine & Spirits. Score: 91+ pts


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  • Date publishedWednesday, August 5, 2020

Wines of Argentina - Aug. 8, 2020 LCBO VINTAGES Wine Reviews

Wines of Argentina
Over the Civic Holiday long weekend, I had a great opportunity - thanks to Wines of Argentina! - to taste through and explore many lovely Argentine wines that will be arriving at the LCBO as part of the LCBO VINTAGES Release that features wines from Argentina.

In fact, there are more than 30 Argentine wines coming through LCBO VINTAGES this summer and fall - and I will be writing about nearly all of these over the coming weeks - but we'll begin our look at wines from Argentina with these 7 wines.

With 895 wineries, Argentina is the 5th largest wine producer globally and is 7th most in cultivated surface. Of course, Malbec is Argentina's flagship grape that we all know and love and is usually the first grape that comes to mind when we think of Argentine wine. However, only 22% (44,000 hectares) of Argentine vineyards are devoted to Malbec. Bonarda is currently Argentina's 2nd most planted grape with 18,000 hectares planted to this varietal. However, this was always not the case as Bonarda was the most planted grape in Argentina until the end of the last century. The 3rd most widely planted grape is Cabernet Sauvignon - and not far behind Bonarda in acreage - has been extensively researched in recent years. Not surprisingly, Cabernet Sauvignon expresses different profiles depending on where its grown, and in Argentina the trend has been to grown this varietal in colder, higher altitude zones. These three red grapes combine to make up the majority of Argentina's wine production, making Argentina very much a red wine producing nation.

La Mascota Vineyards in Mendoza

However, with 36,000 hectares of vines planted to white grape varietals, Argentina does produce some white wines. Argentina has many old vineyards in perfect condition, but winemakers are also innovating by reconditioning and reviving old vineyards, as well as experimenting with earlier harvests that result in wines with higher acidity and lower alcohol. Winemakers are also exploring new regions for white wines such as at very high altitude sites, in poor, high drainage, calcareous soils, and different micro-climates within the desert regions of the Andes mountains and in Oceanic, coastal vineyards. Another area of experimentation is fermentation vessels such as using amphoras, spheres, and pressurized barrel fermenters. Torrontés Riojano - found only in Argentina - is the most widely planted white varietal at nearly 8,000 hectares, making it the country's signature white wine. The other white varietal of prominence is Chardonnay with almost 6,000 hectares planted. Sauvignon Blanc has seen explosive growth over the last 14 years to become the 3rd most planted white varietal. The final grape of note is Semillón - with 650 hectares planted - and it develops well in cool, moderate climates such as those found in the Uco Valley (Mendoza) and Rio Negro Upper Valley (Patagonia). The white wine below is a delightful blend of three of these varietals.

One of the most interesting aspects of winegrowing in Argentina is the landscape. Grapes are grown from 22° to 45° southern latitude along a strip that follows the Andes mountain range, and heights reaching up to an astounding 3,300 metres above sea level - which are among the highest in the world.

The Cuyo, in central western Argentina, contains 95% of the country's total acreage planted to vines. Located in the Cuyo are the wine regions of La Rioja, San Juan, and the heart of Argentine wine production - Mendoza. The highest peaks of the Andes are found in Mendoza, thus acting as a barrier to the humid winds from the Pacific Ocean. The altitude, continental climate, heterogeneity of soils, and snowmelt are key contributors to the production of excellent wines in the region. Mendoza is divided into 5 sub-regions - Valle de Uco (Tunuyán, Tupungato, and San Carlos), Primera Zone (Luján de Cuyo and Maipú), Northern Oasis (Lavalle and Las Heras), the East (San Martín, Rivadavia, Junín, Santa Rosa and La Paz), and the South (San Rafael, Malargüe and General Alvear). Moreover, new research has led to the identification of micro-regions within these terroirs, with new Geographical Indications (GIs) being certified as contributing distinctive characteristics to their wines.

El Esteco Vineyards in Calchaquí Valley

Located north of Cuyo are the wine regions of Jujuy, Salta, Tucumán, and Catamarca, collectively known as The North. It is here that some of the world's highest-altitude vineyards are located. Viticultural tradition in the region can be traced back to the 18th century and primarily located in the Calchaquí Valleys - a system of mountains that formed 5 million years ago and stretch 270 km. The town of Cafayate, in Salta, is home to 60% all of vineyards in The North. The wines from this region are strongly influenced by the terroir and high altitude, with its arid and dry climate, very high average temperatures and diurnal temperature variation, long growing season, and sandy-loam soils. The Cabernet Sauvignon reviewed below is a great example from Cafayate.

The Patagonia and Atlantic Region is south of Cuyo and forms a large area that is flanked by low mountains to the west and extends to the ocean in the east. Five regions encompass the area - Neuquén is located to the southwest of La Pampa, while Río Negro is to the south and borders both regions. Newer projects have regions further to the south in Chubut, and towards the ocean to the east in Chapadmalal (Buenos Aires). It is interesting to note that the city of Buenos Aires has a wine consumption rate per capita that is 2nd only to Paris.

Wine reviews are provided below and all of these lovely wines will be in stores by . You will also be able to order them online at LCBO.com where Wines of Argentina is sponsoring an amazing contest to Win the Ultimate Backyard Makeover - a $10,000 grand prize that includes a Home Depot Gift Card and four premium cuts of 100% Argentine beef valued at $600. To enter this contest, simply spend at least $100 on LCBO.com - easily achieved by adding a few of these lovely Argentine wines to your shopping cart. This contest closes .

Tasting Notes:

SUSANA BALBO SIGNATURE WHITE BLEND 2018 - Uco Valley, Mendoza, Argentina (#558734) (XD) - $21.95
This blend of 35% Semillón, 35% Sauvignon Blanc, and 30% Torrontés was grown at 1,050 metres above sea level. It has a medium-high intensity, ripe nose of asparagus and grassy tones with some yellow floral, passion fruit, and lime citrus with touches of mineral adding complexity. It's medium+ bodied on the palate with very good concentration and zesty, limey acidity. Pleasing citrus, herbal, asparagus flavours with a fine, underlying minerality. It has a nice, chalky texture on the mid-palate while the finish is long and zesty. Agent: Profile Wine Group. Score: 90+ pts

Susana Balbo Signature White Blend 2018 (90+ pts)La Mascota Rosé 2019 (89 pts)

LA MASCOTA ROSÉ 2019 - Mendoza, Argentina (#15182) (XD) - $16.95
Screw cap. This 100% Malbec Rosé has a medium+ intensity nose offering bright red berry, cherry, and strawberry aromas with touches of citrus, all of which come through nicely on the ripe red berry and citrus palate with some spice and floral notes adding interest to the flavour profile. It's somewhat fleshy on the mid-palate with bracing acidity. Nicely dry overall with subtle stony mineral and saline characters on the long, fresh finish. Very impressive. Agent: Univins and Spirits. Score: 89 pts

LUIGI BOSCA TERROIR LOS MIRADORES MALBEC 2017 - Uco Valley, Mendoza, Argentina (#568899) (XD) - $34.95
This single vineyard Malbec from vines averaging only 10 years old was grown at 1,150 metres above sea level. It has a clean, fresh, elegant, fragrant, and ripe nose of spice, stony mineral, violet, blackberry, and touches of herb. The spicy, medium bodied palate is ripe with very nice replays and sweet, elegant tannins and flavours of dark berry, blackberry, and violet accented with spice and stony minerals. It's juicy on the mid-palate with fresh acidity. Long, stony, spicy finish with subtle oak nuances. Lovely! Agent: FWM Canada. Score: 91 pts

Luigi Bosca Terroir Los Miradores Malbec 2017 (91 pts)La Mascota Malbec 2018 (88+ pts)

LA MASCOTA MALBEC 2018 - Mendoza, Argentina (#555805) (XD) - $16.95
This Malbec was grown in deep, stony soils and aged for 12 months in new French and American oak barrels. The medium intensity nose has dark berry, black cherry, and white pepper spice aromas mingling with stony mineral and touches of plum, floral, and oak. It is medium-full bodied on the palate with dark berry, black cherry, white pepper spice, and oak influenced flavours. The smooth, rounded tannins have a slightly chalky texture, while acids are well-balanced. Very good length on the spicy, dark berry, and cocoa scented finish. A nice wine that I'd like to see with a little less oak. Agent: Univins and Spirits. Score: 88+ pts

LA CELIA RESERVA MALBEC/CABERNET FRANC 2017 - Uco Valley, Mendoza, Argentina (#618280) (XD) - $14.95
This co-fermented blend of 80% Malbec and 20% Cabernet Franc has a medium intensity nose that leads with woody, herbal, and green pepper tones backed by some red and dark currant aromas and subtle spiciness. It is medium+ bodied with herbal, woody, currant, and peppery spice flavours with well-integrated, subtly grippy, crunchy tannins. Acids are fresh, while the finish length is very good. Agent: Mark Anthony Wine & Spirits. Score: 87 pts

La Celia Reserva Malbec/Cabernet Franc 2017 (87 pts)El Esteco 1947 Old Vines Cabernet Sauvignon 2018 (90+ pts)

EL ESTECO 1947 OLD VINES CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2018 - Cafayate Valley, Salta, Argentina (#15082) (XD) - $24.95
From pergola-trained vines whose origins can be traced back to 1947, and raised entirely in cement egg with natural yeasts. Fresh, aromatic nose has herbaceous, paprika, olive, and minty notes with some cassis, red and black fruits and some minerals. It is full bodied on the complex palate with peppery, spice, paprika, olive, cassis, currant, herbal, and plum flavours with some earthiness supported by fresh acidity. Smooth, refined tannins have some grip on the back palate, while the long finish is earthy and stony with olive notes. Agent: Dandurand. Score: 90+ pts

LA POSTA ESTELA ARMANDO BONARDA 2018 - Mendoza, Argentina (#261586) (XD) - $15.95
From 50+ year old vines located in the Guaymallén region. Ripe and fruity nose with raspberry, blueberry, and spice. It's medium+ bodied on the fruity palate with raspberry, red berry and spice flavours balanced with fresh acidity and smooth, rounded tannins. The fruit and spice notes are joined by some chocolate notes on the finish, with very good length. Agent: Noble Estates Wine & Spirits. Score: 88 pts

La Posta Estela Armando Bonarda 2018 (88 pts)


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  • Date publishedMonday, July 13, 2020

La Cadiérenne Cuvée Grande Tradition Bandol Rosé 2019 (Provence) - Wine Review

wine review is this excellent Bandol Rosé that arrived in LCBO VINTAGES on . This rose has improved in quality every time I've tasted it, including the excellent 2018 La Cadiérenne Cuvée Grande Tradition Bandol Rosé that I enjoyed last summer, so I would fully expect the 2019 to be just as outstanding. Provence experienced some extreme weather conditions again, leading to slightly lower yields in 2019, but vintage quality was excellent.

We don't see too many Bandol wines here in Ontario, but wine has been made in Bandol ever since the Greeks colonized the area more than 2,600 years ago. Bandol is located in Provence, along the French Riviera between Marseille and Toulon. Bandol was one of the first French appellations granted AOC status in 1941, and today, 60% of the entire production is devoted to rosé wine. It is also noteworthy to mention that Mourvèdre - a late-maturing black varietal that is ideal for the terrain and climate of Bandol - is the principle grape of the region, and makes up the majority of this rosé.

This particular rosé is produced by Les Vignerons de La Cadiérenne, a group of producers that formed the co-operative in 1929 and celebrated 90 years of winemaking in 2019. La Cadiérenne is the largest producer of PDO Bandol wines, working with 294 winegrowers that have approximately 600 hectares of land - of which 400 hectares are classified as AOP. The vines are mostly planted on hillsides within the municipalities of La Cadière d'Azur, Le Castellet, and Saint-Cyr sur Mer. Other wines from the La Cadiérenne portfolio can be ordered through their Agent - Connexion Oenophilia.

La Cadiérenne Cuvée Grande Tradition Bandol Rosé 2019 (91 pts)

Tasting Note:

LA CADIÉRENNE CUVÉE GRANDE TRADITION BANDOL ROSÉ 2019 - AC, Provence, France (#119453) (XD) - $24.95
This Bandol Rosé is a blend of 40% Mourvèdre, 30% Grenache, and 30% Cinsault from vines averaging 20 years and grown on clay-limestone and marl soils. All of the grapes were hand-harvested, partly de-stemmed, crushed, and vinified separately. Lovely, fresh, balanced, and complex aromas of nectarine, melon, citrus, grapefruit, red berry, and blackberry with touches of minerality. The dry, medium-full bodied palate has a lovely texture with fresh, vibrant acidity and spicy berry, orchard fruit, currant, anise, and saline mineral flavours. Some wild herbs on the mid-palate, while mineral notes linger on the long, juicy finish. Complex, elegant, and refreshing. Recommended buy. Score: 91 pts


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  • Date publishedFriday, July 3, 2020

Argento Rosé 2019 (Argentina) - Wine Review

wine review is a nice, dry rosé from Argentina that is widely at LCBO outlets across Ontario.

Bodega Argento was established 1998 in a building that housed a winery since 1970. It is located in Cruz de Piedra - the historic heart of wine production in the traditional Maipú wine region in Mendoza, and is surrounded by vineyards and olive groves, as well as offering views of the Andes mountains in the distance. The name of the winery, 'Argento', translates to silver in Latin, and relates strongly the silver thread of tradition that runs through the veins of the country, while also paying homage to Argentina's long history of crafting precious wines.

With more than 284 hectares of certified organic vineyards, Bodega Argento is one of Argentina's largest organic producers. Sustainability has been a top priority since the beginning as they use recycled glass and special water treatments, among the many sustainable initiatives. Argento makes a wide portfolio of wines from not only from Maipú, but also from their vineyards in Lujan de Cuyo, the Uco Valley, and in Eastern Mendoza. Some of these wines can be found through their agent's new website - Profile Wine Group, or at the LCBO.

Argento Rosé 2019 (87 pts)

Tasting Note:

ARGENTO ROSÉ 2019 - Mendoza, Argentina (#13245) (XD) - $10.95
Screw cap. This Syrah-based blend has fresh aromas of red berry with touches of melon and sea breeze rising out of the glass. The medium bodied palate is dry and spicy with lively acidity and more red berry and melon flavours, plus touches of blood orange. Good length on the lip-smacking finish with touches of saline. A nice rosé to cool down with for under $11. Score: 87 pts


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  • Date publishedWednesday, April 22, 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Spy Valley Sauvignon Blanc 2019 (89 pts)

Tasting Note:

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


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  • Date publishedSunday, April 12, 2020

Johanneshof Cellars Gewürztraminer 2019 (New Zealand) - Wine Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Johanneshof Cellars Gewürztraminer 2019 (91 pts)

Tasting Note:

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


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  • Date publishedWednesday, March 25, 2020

13th Street June's Vineyard Riesling 2019 (Niagara) - Wine Review

For wine review, I have this lovely Riesling from Niagara that I was first introduced to when the 2011 13th Street June's Vineyard Riesling showed up in LCBO VINTAGES nearly 6 year ago to the day. I have tasted this wine on a few occasions since that time, and it has always been delicious.

13th Street Winery was founded by 1998 and purchased in 2008 by the current owners who have deep roots within the Niagara community - John & June Mann and Doug & Karen Whitty. The winery evolved from a desire to create exceptional wines that reflect the unique terroir of Niagara, while also providing a place for guests to congregate, escape, relax, discover, experience and learn.

The grapes for this lovely Riesling come from a vineyard named after June Mann, one of the owners of 13th Street. June's Vineyard sits at the base of the Niagara Escarpment, located on 5th Avenue, west of Seventh Street Louth, and has a distinctive terroir with significant quantities of decomposed yellow limestone amongst the clay loam soils. The Riesling vines were planted in 1999 with Alsatian clone 49, and combined with the soils on the site impart a stony minerality on top of the ripe fruit and flowery tones that come from this particular clonal variant of Riesling.

The 2019 vintage began slow and wet, but was quite warm during the summer months, allowing for full phenolic maturity. The quality of the grapes was very good to excellent with high acidity and concentrated flavours.

This delicious white wine makes regular appearances to VINTAGES and this latest edition will also be on shelves across Ontario very soon as it arrives as part of the upcoming LCBO VINTAGES Release.

13th Street June's Vineyard Riesling 2019 (90 pts)

Tasting Note:

13TH STREET JUNE'S VINEYARD RIESLING 2019 - VQA Creek Shores, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#147512) (D) - $19.95
Screw cap. Fresh, fragrant and pretty with floral aromas surrounding notes lime citrus, white peach, and whiffs of limestone minerality. It's medium-dry on the concentrated, slightly fleshy palate with honeyed, orange citrus, peach, and tangy lime flavours lifted by racy acidity. Chalky textured with touches of minerality on the mid-palate. Very good length on the long, tangy, minerally, and slightly dry finish. Enjoy over the next 5-6 years. Score: 90 pts


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  • Date publishedFriday, December 6, 2019

Yealands Sauvignon Blanc 2019 (New Zealand) - Wine Review

wine review is a delightful, vegan-friendly, award-winning Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand that comes to us with a fresh, new label for the 2019 vintage.

It is produced by Yealands, a winery that opened its doors on August 8, 2008 (i.e. 08-08-08) with a vision to become one of the world’s most sustainable wine producers and determined to craft beautiful wines in partnership with nature - a philosophy that continues to hold true and forms the basis of their approach to winemaking.

The fresh new look for the Yealands range (formerly Peter Yealands) reflects their stunning location in the Awatere Valley, Marlborough, as well as the unique features of their vineyard. The new label starts with the eye-catching Y that represents the White Road that runs through the heart of their Seaview Vineyard. The White Road takes you on a journey through this stunning coastal vineyard, and captures the breathtaking vistas of Yealands Estate and its unique sustainability initiatives such as New Zealand's largest solar panel installation on the winery roof.

The label is inspired by the coast that surrounds their vineyard, showing the proximity of their vines to the coast through the frame of the U, so close to the ocean that the vines are often misted with sea spray. The beauty of their environment influences how they craft wine, respectful of nature and the land. Yealands believes in sustainable winemaking and creating thoughtfully crafted wines such as this Sauvignon Blanc that work in harmony with their landscape.

This lovely white wine, with its fresh, new label is widely available now at LCBO outlets across Ontario.

Yealands Sauvignon Blanc 2019 (89 pts)

Tasting Note:

YEALANDS SAUVIGNON BLANC 2019 - Marlborough, South Island, New Zealand (#277731) (XD) - $16.95
Enclosed by screw cap, this vegan-friendly Sauvignon Blanc has a clean, fresh and fragrant nose of tropical fruit, kiwi, guava, gooseberry, and nettles with whiffs of mineral. It's medium-bodied on the spicy palate with vibrant, food-friendly acidity and ripe flavours of tropical fruit, guava, and citrus. A fine mineral note lingers through to the long, clean finish. Score: 89 pts


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