Showing posts with label british-columbia. Show all posts
Showing posts with label british-columbia. Show all posts
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  • Tuesday, April 23, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Redstone Limestone Vineyard South Riesling 2016 (89 pts)

Enjoy my wine recommendations from this Release! Cheers!

Red Wine:

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

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

White Wine:

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

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  • Friday, December 14, 2018

Empress 1908 Gin (British Columbia)

Empress Gin & Sprite
The Empress 1908 Gin is produced in British Columbia, Canada, and inspired by the iconic Fairmont Empress Hotel, where travellers to Victoria have in fallen in love with the hotel's majestic grandeur, picturesque vistas, and incomparable afternoon tea service since 1908.

In particular, it was the hotel’s afternoon tea that inspired the creation of Empress 1908 Gin. The tea was made unforgettable thanks to the curation of an exclusive collection of seasonal, handpicked tea leaves that were blended to create the perfect cup.

This gin is micro-distilled in small batch copper-pot stills and hand-crafted using eight signature botanicals: tea, juniper, rose, coriander seed, grapefruit peel, ginger root, cinnamon bark, and butterfly pea blossom. In fact, it's the pea blossom that was discovered in one of the Empress tea blends that imbues the gin with a distinctive earthy note, as well as its vivid hue with a stunning secret to reveal – add citrus or tonic and the Empress 1908 is transformed from a breathtaking indigo to a beautiful soft pink. Empress 1908 Gin is made in an aromatic London Dry gin style with a lush blue hue, and promises to make a regal cocktail.

EMPRESS 1908 GIN (#557470) - $49.95
Aromatic, lovely, traditional juniper notes with some tea leaf, citrus, coriander, and grapefruit. Quite balanced overall with a smooth, easy drinking finish. Some Empress cocktail recipes are available from their website. Widely available at LCBO.

Cucumber Mint Gin:
2.5 oz gin, 8 mint leaves, 1 slice cucumber, 1 oz Agave syrup, 1.5 tsp lemon juice, garnish with mint and cucumber

Cucumber Mint Gin

Empress Orange:
2 parts Orange juice, 1 part lemon juice shaken in ice. Gin layered on top and sweetened with sugar.

Empress Orange

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  • Monday, April 23, 2018

VINTAGES Release April 28, 2018: Pacific Northwest + Germany

LCBO Wine Picks: April 28, 2018 VINTAGES Release
The upcoming LCBO VINTAGES Release features as the main theme the cool-climate regions of the Pacific Northwest, which includes British Columbia, Oregon, and Washington. The mini-theme features the wines from Germany. All of these wines will be on LCBO VINTAGES shelves across Ontario this .

We'll begin with the main theme that features the wines from British Columbia, Oregon, and Washington, commonly grouped together as the Pacific Northwest. None of the five wines listed from Oregon and eight wines listed from Washington are included among my wine picks. British Columbia seemed to get shortchanged (again?) with just three wines listed. However, the Osoyoos Larose Le Grand Vin is the only wine among my top wine recommendations from the Pacific Northwest; it is always a classy wine and for the 2014 vintage is a blend of 68% Merlot, 11% Cabernet Franc, 8% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Petit Verdot and 5% Malbec.

The mini-feature on German wines is also rather weak, with six wines listed and just one included among my top wine picks. My lone pick from the German feature is a dry Riesling that's also known as Riesling Trocken. As part of the Flagship Store Exclusives (FSE) at the back of the magazine is a very sweet Riesling Spätlese and is one of the top wines of the Release.

From my top red wine picks, the Saint-Roch is a blend of approximately equal parts Syrah and Grenache, while the Vacqueyras is an organic wine from the excellent 2015 vintage made with Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvèdre. The Douro red wine from Portugal is made with Touriga Nacional. Lastly, the Rioja is a blend of 89% Tempranillo, 9% Graciano, and 2% Garnacha.

Roda Reserva 2012 (91 pts)

Among my white wine picks, the Soave wine is made with 100% Garganega from vines that range between 10-50 years old. The Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand is an organic wine. For sweet wine lovers, in order of least sweet to most sweet, there is the Hidden Bench Riesling (organic), Megalomaniac Riesling, and the Gewürztraminer, as well as the aforementioned Riesling Spätlese. For fans looking for lusciously sweet wines, the Tawse Chardonnay Icewine is also worth seeking.

Hidden Bench Estate Riesling 2016 (90+ pts)Tawse Chardonnay Icewine 2013 (92 pts)

As the weather gets warmer, Rosé wines return with more frequency at the LCBO. One of the first to arrive is the Miraval Rosé, with vines coming from an average of 1,200 feet above sea level and made using a blend of Cinsault, Grenache, Syrah, and Rolle. This wine is also featured as the Wine of the Month and will be available at just about every LCBO outlet.

Enjoy my wine recommendations from this Release! Cheers!

Red Wine:

  • SAINT-ROCH VIEILLES VIGNES SYRAH/GRENACHE 2015 - AP Côtes du Roussillon, France (#195107) (XD) - $16.95
  • MORANDÉ GRAN RESERVA CARMENÈRE 2014 - Single vineyard, Maipo Valley, Chile (#371112) (XD) - $17.00
  • QUINTA DAS CARVALHAS TINTO 2013 - DOC Douro, Portugal (#523647) (XD) - $17.95
  • BISQUERTT ECOS DE RULO CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2015 - Single vineyard, Colchagua Valley, Chile (#546515) (XD) - $18.95
  • ROCKCLIFFE THIRD REEF SHIRAZ 2015 - Great Southern, Western Australia (#453209) (XD) - $19.95
  • CASAR DE BURBIA MENCÍA 2014 - DO Bierzo, Spain (#392530) (XD) - $19.95
  • TENUTA DI RENIERI CHIANTI CLASSICO 2013 - DOCG, Tuscany, Italy (#540849) (XD) - $22.95  89 pts  wine review
  • DOMAINE DE L’OISELET VACQUEYRAS 2015 - AP, Rhône, France (#537951) (XD) - $27.95
  • FLAT ROCK GRAVITY PINOT NOIR 2014 - VQA Twenty Mile Bench, Niagara Escarpment, Ontario, Canada (#001560) (XD) - $34.95
  • KENWOOD JACK LONDON VINEYARD CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2014 - Sonoma Mountain, Sonoma County, California, USA (#944843) (XD) - $39.95
  • OSOYOOS LAROSE LE GRAND VIN 2014 - VQA Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, Canada (#626325) (XD) - $47.95
  • RODA RESERVA 2012 - DOCa Rioja, Spain (#664557) (XD) - $52.95  FSE  91 pts  wine review
  • BREZZA SARMASSA BAROLO 2013 - DOCG, Piedmont, Italy (#999730) (D) - $87.95  FSE
Tenuta di Renieri Chianti Classico 2013 (89 pts)

White Wine:

  • INDOMITA GRAN RESERVA SAUVIGNON BLANC 2016 - Casablanca Valley, Chile (#544213) (XD) - $16.95
  • MEGALOMANIAC NARCISSIST RIESLING 2017 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#067587) (D) - $18.95
  • FLAT ROCK CHARDONNAY 2016 - VQA Twenty Mile Bench, Niagara Escarpment, Ontario, Canada (#286278) (D) - $19.95  88+ pts  wine review
  • WEINGUT TINA PFAFFMANN T NO. 9 RIESLING TROCKEN 2016 - Qualitätswein, Pfalz, Germany (#549774) (XD) - $19.95
  • MOMO SAUVIGNON BLANC 2016 - Marlborough, South Island, New Zealand (#009167) (XD) - $19.95
  • HIDDEN BENCH ESTATE RIESLING 2016 - VQA Beamsville Bench, Niagara Escarpment, Ontario, Canada (#183491) (D) - $23.95  90+ pts  wine review
  • PIERRE SPARR MAMBOURG GEWURZTRAMINER 2015 - AC Alsace Grand Cru, France (#915157) (M) - $26.95
  • CAVE SPRING CSV CHARDONNAY 2015 - VQA Beamsville Bench, Niagara Escarpment, Ontario, Canada (#529941) (XD) - $29.95  91 pts  wine review
  • PIEROPAN LA ROCCA SOAVE CLASSICO 2015 - DOC, Veneto, Italy (#092437) (D) - $39.95
  • BRAUNEBERGER JUFFER-SONNENUHR RIESLING SPÄTLESE 2014 - Prädikatswein, Mosel, Germany (#298182) (S) - $40.95  FSE
  • FESS PARKER BIEN NACIDO VINEYARD CHARDONNAY 2015 - Santa Maria Valley, Santa Barbara County, California, USA (#547158) (XD) - $44.95
Cave Spring CSV Chardonnay 2015 (91 pts)Flat Rock Chardonnay 2016 (88+ pts)

Rosé Wine:

  • MIRAVAL ROSÉ 2017 - AP Côtes de Provence, France (#342584) (XD) - $23.95

Dessert Wine:

  • TAWSE CHARDONNAY ICEWINE 2013 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#443739) (200 mL) (S) - $35.95  92 pts  wine review

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  • Monday, February 27, 2017

VINTAGES Release March 4: Living on the Edge + British Columbia

LCBO Wine Picks from March 4, 2017 VINTAGES Release
The main theme in the upcoming LCBO VINTAGES Release on is titled "Living on the Edge" - which is meant to say that tough terroir yields great wine - while the mini-theme focuses on wines from British Columbia. All of these wines will be on LCBO VINTAGES shelves on .

Winemakers around the globe seek out challenging conditions to grow grapes and produce better wines. Some of these examples include venturing into freezing temperatures, intense heat, mountains and deserts. In this release, 13 wines are listed and 4 are included among my top wine picks. Some regions (such as Chablis in northern Burgundy and Ontario) have cool-climates and generally shorter growing seasons. White wine grapes are more suitable for this type of climate and can deliver high quality grapes year-after-after. The Chablis is made from 100% Chardonnay and receives very little oak treatment. Grapes for Icewine can only be picked (often by hand) when temperatures are -8°C or below, and produce only 15% of the juice it would for a regular table wine. In this release, the Vidal Icewine from Reif is offered. The Riesling grapes for the Piesporter Riesling Kabinett are literally living on the edge as they come from the steep, red-slate slopes on the north bank of the Mosel river in Germany. Lastly, the wine from Lebanon is approximately equal parts Cabernet Sauvignon, Cinsault and Carignan, and comes from the very warm Bekaa Valley.

From the wines of British Columbia mini-thematic, only 1 of the 6 wines is included among my wine picks. It's a quality Gewürztraminer with a fun name - something I'm seeing more and more of coming out of B.C.

Dirty Laundry Woo Woo Vines Gewürztraminer 2015 (89 pts)

Among red wines from the rest of the release, the Lafage wine us an oak-free blend composed of 80% Syrah and 20% Grenache, while the Greek wine is a 50/50 blend of Xinomavro and Merlot. The red wine from Portugal is a blend of 6 local and international varietals, while the Rioja is made with Tempranillo. Lastly, the Châteauneuf-du-Pape is mostly Grenache (90%) and the rest other varietals.

In white wines, the Sancerre is a Sauvignon Blanc. For sweet wine lovers, look for the Fergie Jenkins Riesling as we approach the start of the Major League Baseball season.

The Champagne is a limited production wine made only in exceptional years and is a blend of 90% Pinot Noir and 10% Chardonnay that comes in a half size bottle which is certainly more wallet-friendly. This sparkling wine is released as a Flagship Store Exclusive.

Enjoy my wine recommendations from this release. Cheers!

Red Wine:

  • LA GARNACHA SALVAJE DEL MONCAYO 2014 - DO Navarra, Spain (#480020) (D) - $14.95
  • LAFAGE CÔTÉ SUD 2014 - IGP Côtes Catalanes, Roussillon, France (#395236) (XD) - $15.95
  • GENESIS XINOMAVRO-MERLOT 2014 - PGI Macedonia, Greece (#465914) (XD) - $16.95
  • FALCOARIA CLÁSSICO 2012 - DOC Tejo, Portugal (#379214) (D) - $19.95
  • SALENTEIN RESERVE CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2014 - Uco Valley, Mendoza, Argentina (#353177) (XD) - $19.95
  • IL MOLINO DI GRACE RISERVA CHIANTI CLASSICO 2009 - DOCG, Tuscany, Italy (#382945) (XD) - $24.95  reviewed here
  • BARÓN DE LEY GRAN RESERVA 2010 - DOCa Rioja, Spain (#642496) (XD) - $29.95
  • ROCCHE COSTAMAGNA ROCCHE DELL’ANNUNZIATA BAROLO 2012 - DOCG, Piedmont, Italy (#413484) (D) - $51.95
  • RAYMOND USSEGLIO CUVÉE IMPÉRIALE CHÂTEAUNEUF-DU-PAPE 2013 - Unfiltered, AC, Rhône, France (#022319) (D) - $57.95
  • FULIGNI BRUNELLO DI MONTALCINO 2011 - DOCG, Tuscany, Italy (#245225) (XD) - $61.95
  • CHATEAU MUSAR RED 2009 - Bekaa Valley, Lebanon (#109413) (XD) - $61.95
Il Molino di Grace Riserva Chianti Classico 2009 (91 pts)

White Wine:

  • FERGIE JENKINS LIMITED EDITION RIESLING 2014 - VQA Twenty Mile Bench, Niagara Escarpment, Ontario, Canada (#485326) (M) - $15.95
  • VINUM AFRICA CHENIN BLANC 2015 - WO Stellenbosch, South Africa (#739995) (XD) - $15.95
  • ANTON BAUER GMÖRK GRÜNER VELTLINER 2014 - Wagram/Osterreich, Austria (#467290) (XD) - $18.95
  • DIRTY LAUNDRY WOO WOO VINES GEWÜRZTRAMINER 2015 - BC VQA Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, Canada (#246140) (D) - $18.95  reviewed here
  • REINHOLD HAART PIESPORTER RIESLING KABINETT 2014 - Prädikatswein, Mosel, Germany (#727461) (MS) - $19.95
  • MONTES ALPHA CHARDONNAY 2014 - Casablanca Valley, Chile (#390203) (XD) - $19.95  reviewed here
  • LOIMER LANGENLOIS GRÜNER VELTLINER 2015 - DAC Kamptal, Austria (#142240) (XD) - $21.95  reviewed here
  • WILLIAM FÈVRE CHAMPS ROYAUX CHABLIS 2015 - AC, Burgundy, France (#461640) (XD) - $23.95
  • DOMAINE BONNARD SANCERRE 2015 - AC, Loire, France (#140525) (XD) - $24.95
Loimer Langenlois Grüner Veltliner 2015 (90 pts)Montes Alpha Chardonnay 2014 (88+ pts)

Sparkling Wine:

  • PAUL BARA MILLESIME BRUT GRAND CRU CHAMPAGNE 2006 - Bouzy, AC, France (#487298) (XD) (375 mL) - $36.95  FSE


  • KOPKE 10-YEAR-OLD TAWNY PORT - DOP, Portugal (#473066) (S) - $31.95

Dessert Wine:

  • REIF VIDAL ICEWINE 2014 - VQA Niagara River, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada (#544791) (S) (200 mL) - $24.95

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  • Wednesday, August 5, 2015

LCBO VINTAGES Release August 8: Oregon + Washington + B.C. + Loire

LCBO Wine Picks from August 8, 2015 VINTAGES Release
The LCBO VINTAGES Release on will be on shelves this Saturday and highlights 23 wines from The Great Northwest, while the mini-feature displays 7 Summery wines from Loire Valley.

The Great Northwest thematic highlights wines from Oregon and Washington in the U.S.A., and wines from Canada's British Columbia. Unfortunately, only one wine - a Cabernet Sauvignon from B.C. - is among my wine picks. There's also a Pinot Noir from Oregon found in the back of the magazine, but it's a Flagship Store Exclusive (FSE) and only available at select VINTAGES outlets. Disappointed with the lack of selection from those three wine regions again. Was there nothing else that could have been brought in?

Furthermore, just one wine from Loire made my list of wine picks - a Pouilly-Fumé that is 100% Sauvignon Blanc.

From the rest of the release, there is a nice Rasteau from Rhône that's blended using 70% Grenache, 20% Syrah and 10% Mourvèdre, and an 80/20 Syrah-Grenache blend from Midi. Also from France is a 70/20/10 blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon & Petit Verdot from Bordeaux, and a Pinot Noir from Burgundy. The majority of dry table red wines from Portugal are blends, including the version from Ramos Pinto in this release that is primarily Touriga Nacional (43%) and Touriga Franca (37%), and the final 20% is a blend of 6 other local Douro grape varieties.

In white wines, the Domaine Lafage is an interesting blend of 50% Grenache Blanc, 30% Chardonnay, and 20% Marsanne. Lastly, the Grecomusc' is the local name of the Rovello grape which offers alluring floral aromas in a dry style of wine.

For sweet wine lovers, you'll want to pick up either the Pinot Gris from Alsace or the much sweeter Riesling from Germany.

Enjoy my LCBO wine recommendations from this release. Cheers!

Red Wine:

  • ESPELT VITICULTORS OLD VINES GARNACHA 2013 - DO Empordà, Spain (#422469) (XD) - $14.95
  • ORTAS CAVE DE RASTEAU LA DOMELIÈRE RASTEAU 2013 - AC, Rhône, France (#222927) (XD) - $15.95
  • CHÂTEAU DE TREVIAC 2012 - AP Corbières, Midi, France (#670505) (XD) - $16.95  reviewed here
  • RAMOS PINTO DUAS QUINTAS 2013 - DOC Douro, Portugal (#359893) (D) - $17.95
  • CHÂTEAU PLAISANCE 2009 - AC Bordeaux Supérieur, France (#404285) (XD) - $19.95
  • MISSION HILL RESERVE CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2012 - BC VQA Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, Canada (#553321) (XD) - $26.95  reviewed here
  • PAOLO CONTERNO RIVA DEL BRIC BAROLO 2010 - Unfiltered, DOCG, Piedmont, Italy (#172783) (XD) - $39.95
  • DOMAINE DROUHIN PINOT NOIR 2012 - Dundee Hills, Oregon, USA (#961284) (XD) - $49.95  FSE
  • DOMAINE PAVELOT SAVIGNY-LES-BEAUNE AUX GRAVAINS 1ER CRU 2012 - AC, Burgundy, France (#206136) (XD) - $53.95  FSE
Château de Treviac 2012 - AP Corbières, Midi, France (89 pts)

White Wine:

  • VICENTE GANDÍA NEBLA VERDEJO 2014 - DO Rueda, Spain (#422048) (XD) - $14.95
  • DOMAINE LAFAGE CÔTÉ EST 2013 - IGP Côtes Catalanes, Midi, France (#179838) (XD) - $14.95
  • YALUMBA THE Y SERIES VIOGNIER 2014 - South Australia (#624502) (D) - $16.95
  • WEGELER SWEET RIESLING 2012 - VDP Gutswein, Mosel, Germany (#409672) (MS) - $19.95  reviewed here
  • CHÂTEAU FAVRAY POUILLY-FUMÉ 2014 - AC, Loire, France (#323642) (XD) - $21.95
  • RIEFLÉ STEINERT PINOT GRIS 2010 - AC Alsace Grand Cru, France (#408229) (M) - $24.95
  • CONTRADE DI TAURASI GRECOMUSC’ 2012 - IGT Campania Bianco, Italy (#418715) (XD) - $32.95
Wegeler Sweet Riesling 2012 - VDP Gutswein, Mosel, Germany (89 pts)

Rosé Wine:

  • CHÂTEAU VAL JOANIS TRADITION ROSÉ 2014 - AP Luberon, Rhône, France (#707281) (XD) - $15.95

Sparkling Wine:

  • PIPER-HEIDSIECK BRUT CHAMPAGNE 2006 - AC, France (#409326) (XD) - $79.95

The rest of the wines from the August 8 VINTAGES release can be found here.

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  • Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Mar. 7 LCBO Wine Picks: Tuscany + B.C. + Israel + St. Patrick's Day

LCBO Wine Picks from March 7, 2015 VINTAGES Release
The next batch of wines will be available on LCBO VINTAGES shelves across Ontario on .

The major theme of this release is titled "Tuscan Renaissance" and goes through some of the projects that were undertaken over the last 50+ years to modernize and improve the wines from Tuscany. However, of the 14 wines featured, just two made my list of wine picks - and both were quite traditional in nature with a Chianti Classico and a Brunello di Montalcino. Both of these wines are made using Italy's most popular grape - Sangiovese.

This release also has 3 mini-features - wines from British Columbia's Okanagan Valley, modern wines from Israel, and some Whiskies to celebrate St. Patrick's Day. Of the 6 wines from B.C., the medium sweet Pinot Gris from Gray Monk is recommended. For an interesting side-by-side comparison, there are drier (i.e. less sweet) versions of Pinot Gris from Oregon and Ontario also available.

From the rest of the release, there are plenty of good value red wines coming from Chile and Argentina. Included among them is an organic Syrah/Mourvèdre blend (85/15) from Emiliana. Also recommended are both "Wines of the Month" - the Kaiken Malbec and Château Saint-Roch Chimères (Grenache / Carignan / Syrah blend) - a rarity for me.

In white wine, the Château de Cruzeau is 100% Sauvignon Blanc. For sweet wine lovers, the Tawse Riesling and the aforementioned Gray Monk Pinot Gris are worth your attention. Less sweet are the Malivoire Pinot Gris and the German Riesling.

That's all for this release. Enjoy my wine recommendations. Cheers!

Red Wine:
  • EMILIANA NOVAS GRAN RESERVA SYRAH/MOURVÈDRE 2012 - Cachapoal Valley, Chile (#399360) (XD) - $15.95
  • ZUCCARDI SERIE A BONARDA 2012 - Santa Rosa, Mendoza, Argentina (#355560) (D) - $16.95
  • VIÑA TARAPACÁ GRAN RESERVA CARMENÈRE 2012 - Maipo Valley, Chile (#057513) (XD) - $17.95  reviewed here
  • SANTA CAROLINA SPECIALTIES DRY FARMING CARIGNAN 2010 - Cauquenes Valley, Chile (#213520) (XD) - $17.95
  • CHÂTEAU SAINT-ROCH CHIMÈRES 2012 - AP Côtes du Roussillon Villages, Midi, France (#119354) (D) - $18.95
  • KAIKEN ULTRA MALBEC 2012 - Mendoza, Argentina (#050849) (XD) - $19.95
  • PENFOLDS BIN 28 KALIMNA SHIRAZ 2011 - South Australia (#422782) (XD) - $34.95
  • JOHN’S BLEND INDIVIDUAL SELECTION NO. 36 CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2009 - Langhorne Creek, South Australia (#927640) (XD) - $39.95
  • TERRE NERE BRUNELLO DI MONTALCINO 2009 - DOCG, Tuscany, Italy (#208462) (XD) - $42.95
  • CUVELIER LOS ANDES GRAND MALBEC 2009 - Uco Valley, Mendoza, Argentina (#368514) (D) - $61.95

White Wine:
  • TAWSE SKETCHES OF NIAGARA RIESLING 2013 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#089029) (M) - $17.95
  • GRAY MONK PINOT GRIS 2013 - BC VQA Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, Canada (#118638) (M) - $19.95
  • DUCK POND CELLARS PINOT GRIS 2013 - Willamette Valley, Oregon, USA (#333286) (XD) - $19.95
  • MALIVOIRE PINOT GRIS 2013 - VQA Beamsville Bench, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#591305) (D) - $19.95
  • VILLA MARIA CELLAR SELECTION SAUVIGNON BLANC 2014 - Marlborough, South Island, New Zealand (#974527) (XD) - $19.95
  • DR. BÜRKLIN-WOLF RUPPERTSBERGER RIESLING 2012 - Qualitätswein, Pfalz, Germany (#394148) (D) - $22.95
  • CHÂTEAU DE CRUZEAU BLANC 2009 - AC Pessac-Léognan, Bordeaux, France (#966010) (XD) - $31.95
  • BACHELDER WISMER VINEYARD CHARDONNAY 2011 - VQA Twenty Mile Bench, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#345819) (D) - $44.95  Flagship Store Exclusive  reviewed here

  • EL MAESTRO SIERRA 15-YEAR-OLD OLOROSO SHERRY - DO Jerez-Xérès-Sherry, Spain (#330571) (D) (375 mL) - $13.95

The rest of the wines from this release can be found here.

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  • Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Burrowing Owl (British Columbia) Wine Tasting

Burrowing Owl Estate Winery Logo
In , I was invited to a very special tasting of wines by British Columbia's Burrow Owl Estate Winery. This tasting was hosted by their agent here in Ontario - Le Sommelier - and held at the Fine Wine Reserve.

Founder Jim Wyse had no intention of starting a winery when he began replanting vineyards in 1993 - his goal was to produce world class, premium quality grapes. Soon enough, however, he realized that his grapes were producing wines that gained immediate recognition. In 1997, Jim decided to build Burrowing Owl Estate Winery, with construction beginning early in 1998 and completing in time for that year's harvest. Today, Burrowing Owl uses state-of-the-art technologies, including a gravity-flow system to ensure grapes are handled delicately, with proven, classic winemaking traditions. Burrowing Owl also has a temperature controlled cave/cellar for fermentation and barrel ageing.

The vineyards at Burrowing Owl are varied and have deceptively fragile ecosystems which the team tries to maintain using environmentally-friendly methods. For pest control, bluebird boxes and bat nurseries are used to help contain insects in the vineyard, while snakes are safely relocated, and bears and big horned sheep are discouraged from munching on grapes but never harmed.

Nearly all of the 9 wines that were available for tasting were enjoyable. Here are wine reviews of 6 of my favourites.

Tasting Notes:
BURROWING OWL CHARDONNAY 2012 - BC VQA Okanagan Valley (#208694) (XD) - $33.95
Barrel fermented in 90% French oak and 10% American oak. Highly aromatic and very balanced nose showing orchard fruits, apple, pear and butter. It's medium-full bodied on the palate with bracing acids and very nice aroma replays. Oak-spiced mid-palate and very long finish. Released in VINTAGES last September and plenty in stock. Recommended. Score: 90+ pts

Wine Review of 2012 Burrowing Owl Chardonnay from BC VQA Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, Canada (90+ pts)Wine Review of 2012 Burrowing Owl Pinot Noir from BC VQA Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, Canada (89 pts)

BURROWING OWL PINOT NOIR 2012 - BC VQA Okanagan Valley (#556613) (XD) - $40.95
Nose appeared somewhat closed but had an appealing aromas of dark currant, beet root, and hints of raspberry, strawberry and cherry. Medium+ bodied and slightly creamy, with dark currants and aroma replays on the flavour profile. Fresh, mouth-watering acids, along with integrated tannins and a medium+ length, spiced finish. Plenty available in VINTAGES. Score: 89 pts

BURROWING OWL ATHENE 2010 - BC VQA Okanagan Valley (#373336) (XD) - $44.95
Blend of 60% Syrah and 40% Cab Sauv has a medium-to-high lifted nose of barnyard and earth with nuances of raspberry, plum and cedar aromas. On the palate, it's medium-to-full bodied with currant, blue fruits, dark cherry, floral, and cassis flavours. Very good, balanced acids and oak spiced mid-palate giving way to a long, warm finish. Firm tannins are still a bit tight - will be better in 2-3 years and will last up to 2020. Fine stuff. Score: 91 pts

Wine Review of 2010 Burrowing Owl Athene from BC VQA Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, Canada (91 pts)Wine Review of 2012 Burrowing Owl Cabernet Franc from BC VQA Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, Canada (90 pts)

BURROWING OWL CABERNET FRANC 2012 - BC VQA Okanagan Valley (#349019) (XD) - $43.95
Medium+ intensity aromas with green pepper, herb, currant, smoke and cedar aromas. Palate is medium-to-full bodied and crunchy with very good tannic structure. Savoury red & black fruits, currants, green pepper and oak flavour profile. Has mouth-watering acids and a medium-long finish. Will reward with 2-3 years cellar time. Available in VINTAGES. Score: 90 pts

BURROWING OWL MERLOT 2010 - BC VQA Okanagan Valley (#585737) (XD) - $40.95
Medium intensity aromas with oak at the forefront and underlying notes of mocha, dark berries, chocolate and plum. It's medium-to-full bodied with more oak-influenced flavours of vanillan, cedar, hickory, woodsy, and some black fruits and cocoa notes. Very good acids, firm tannins are integrating nicely. Long finish is warm. The 2011 is currently in VINTAGES. Score: 89 pts

Wine Review of 2010 Burrowing Owl Merlot from BC VQA Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, Canada (89 pts)Wine Review of 2010 Burrowing Owl Meritage from BC VQA Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, Canada (90 pts)

BURROWING OWL MERITAGE 2010 - BC VQA Okanagan Valley (#343038) (XD) - $59.95
Blend of 55% Cabernet Franc, 25% Merlot, 15% Cabernet Sauvignon, 2.5% Malbec and 2.5% Petit Verdot. Aromas of medium+ intensity show musky, fresh new wood, blackberry and eucalypt. Complex red & black fruits, mint, cassis, and woodsy flavours on a medium-bodied frame. Lively, fresh acids on the mid-palate, followed by firm, dusty tannins on the very long, slightly warm finish. Only 1 remaining at the LCBO (in Liberty Village, Toronto) as of this post. Score: 90 pts

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  • Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Mission Hill - 2013 Winery of the Year - WineAlign National Wine Awards of Canada Celebration

Left to right: Jessica Bryans (Joey Restaurants), Bryan McCaw (WineAlign), David Lawrason (WineAlign), Ingo Grady (Mission Hill), Steve Thurlow (WineAlign)
On , I had the pleasure of attending an invite-only celebration at Joey Eaton Centre to honour Mission Hill Family Estate's Winery of the Year Award at the inaugural WineAlign National Wine Awards of Canada competition.

This award used to be part of the Canadian Wine Awards, which was run by WineAccess Magazine, until the magazine was abruptly shut down earlier this year. WineAccess was established in the 1990s by David Lawrason. Among other responsibilities, David is now VP of Wine at WineAlign, and was the co-chief judge of these awards.

Mission Hill submitted 16 wines at this competition and came away with 12 medals, including Platinum medals for their Compendium and Riesling Reserve. The B.C. winery also received Gold medals for their Chardonnay Reserve, Perpetua and Reserve Riesling Icewine.

On hand was Ingo Grady, Mission Hill's Director of Wine Education, to accept the awards. I spoke briefly with Ingo, who was quite gracious, humble, and a pleasure to talk to. You can tell he has a passion for wine. I can't wait to visit Mission Hill!

To celebrate, it was only fitting to serve Mission Hill's top 5 medal winning wines on this night. It was a treat to taste (and enjoy) each and every one of these wines, which were exquisitely paired with small bites that were served throughout the night. It's a shame that only one of these wines is readily available at the LCBO.

Here are my tasting notes from the evening:

2011 Mission Hill Riesling Reserve - NWAC13 Platinum Medal Winner
MISSION HILL RIESLING RESERVE 2011 - VQA Okanagan Valley (#) (D) - $20.00
This white wine has crisp petrol, honey, and lime aromas of medium intensity, with hints of minerality. It's off-dry with a palate consisting of peach, citrus and tropical fruits. Balanced throughout with a fine seam of acidity that makes it very food-friendly. Lengthy finish. Nice! Paired beautifully with the Ahi Tuna and Tempura Prawn Sushi Cones that were stuffed with Tobiko, Spicy Aioli, Pickled Ginger, Cucumber, Daikon and Avocado. Score: 91 pts

2011 Mission Hill Chardonnay Reserve - NWAC13 Gold Medal Winner
MISSION HILL CHARDONNAY RESERVE 2011 - VQA Okanagan Valley (#545004) (XD) - $19.95
Vintages Essentials product and always available, this white wine was partially fermented in American oak and has crisp tropical fruit and citrus aromas of medium intensity from the glass. Medium-bodied with lively acidity. Palate is fruit-forward and brings poached pear and tropical fruits, with light hints of butter and oak. Long, clean, lemony finish. Missed the pairing with the Butter Poached Prawn with Mango Salsa (that looked very tasty!) Score: 89 pts

2010 Mission Hill Perpetua - NWAC13 Gold Medal Winner
MISSION HILL PERPETUA 2010 - Osoyoos Vineyard Estate, VQA Okanagan Valley (#28894) (XD) - $34.99
Available through the agent Mark Anthony. Made using 3 different Chardonnay clones, and uses French oak for fermentation and ageing. Medium-intensity and subtle aromas of butterscotch and oak. Slightly creamy texture on the medium-full body with restrained notes of oak, plus some butter and apple flavours. Spicy mid-palate lingers through the very long finish. It paired nicely with Triple Cream Brie de Bourgogne and Deer Hunter Gouda. Score: 90 pts

2009 Mission Hill Compendium - NWAC13 Platinum Medal Winner
MISSION HILL COMPENDIUM 2009 - VQA Okanagan Valley (#) (XD) - $50.00
Available via agent. Bordeaux blend of 40% Cab Sauv, 35% Merlot, 20% Cab Franc and 5% Petit Verdot. Medium-high intensity aromas of herbal, pepper, oak, dark fruits and sour cherry. Palate is medium-full bodied with flavours of black currant, black fruit, cedar, and vanillan. Subtle spice on the mid-palate continues on the very long, smooth, and silky finish. This red wine has food-friendly acidity and velvety tannins. Lovely! Score: 91 pts

2011 Mission Hill Reserve Riesling Icewine - NWAC13 Gold Medal Winner
MISSION HILL RESERVE RIESLING ICEWINE 2011 - VQA Okanagan Valley (#240127) (S) (375 mL) - $59.99
Available via agent. Gorgeous peach, apricot and honey aromas. Medium-full bodied with very nice aroma replays and subtle spice. Sweet, but not cloying because of crisp acidity. It's balanced throughout and has a medium-long finish. Paired very nicely with an Apple Tart with Toasted Almonds and Caramel. It also went extremely well with a special dip (Apricot Ginger?) that Ingo brought from British Columbia. Score: 92 pts

NWAC13 Winery of the Year - Mission Hill Family Estate

Joey Eaton CentreJoey Eaton Centre

Ingo Grady Accepts Awards from David LawrasonMaking of Ahi Tuna and Tempura Prawn Sushi Cones

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