Showing posts with label canada. Show all posts
Showing posts with label canada. Show all posts

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  • Sunday, June 21, 2020

Palatine Hills Vidal Icewine 2012 (Niagara) - Wine Review



To cap off Ontario Wine Week, I opened this lovely Icewine . I purchased this Icewine from the winery in Niagara-on-the-Lake when I visited the region back in during the annual Niagara Grape & Wine Festival. At the time, this 200 mL bottle was on promotion for $20.

It also showed up at the LCBO last year at the same price as part of the LCBO VINTAGES Release. Although it is long gone from LCBO shelves, it is still available for purchase at the winery.

Palatine Hills Vidal Icewine 2012 (89 pts)

Tasting Note:

PALATINE HILLS VIDAL ICEWINE 2012 - VQA Niagara Lakeshore, Ontario, Canada (#614842) (S) (200 mL) - $24.95
Gorgeous, fragrant nose of apricot, honey, and orange with touches of citrus, burnt orange, marmalade. It is medium-full bodied with lovely apricot, honey, and burnt orange flavours on the palate, albeit fading slightly. Has very good acidity. Notes of orange and honey linger on the finish, with very good length. Enjoy over the next 1-2 years. Score: 89 pts


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  • Saturday, May 23, 2020

Amalfi Aperitivo Spritz (Ontario) - Cocktail Review

While enjoying the great weather we're having , I opened this Amalfi Aperitivo Spritz that recently launched at the LCBO. It is locally made with premium ingredients here in Ontario and comes in packs of 4 for $12.95.

What is an Aperitivo (Spritz)? The word "Aperitivo" is derived from the Italian verb "aprire" (ah-pree-ray) and means "to open". In Italian culture, an aperitivo is a bitter-sweet herbal meant to whet your appetite. An aperitivo "spritz" adds sparkling wine or soda water to the bitter-sweet aperitivo to make it more refreshing and perfect for hot weather - like today!

In the Amalfi Aperitivo Spritz, they use 22% real sparkling wine, and not "wine flavours" like other ready-to-drink cocktails. Their bitter-sweet aperitivo is made in-house using an infusion of burnt orange and tangerine peels, along with a blend of herbs and roots including quinine. To bring the alcohol down to a highly-quaffable 5%, they use both sparkling wine and soda water, making it well-balanced, easy to drink, and refreshing.

It is best enjoyed during Aperitivo Hour - which is like Happy Hour, but in the style of "La Dolce Vita" - giving particular importance to the inclusion of food and socializing (while practising physical distancing during these novel times). Aperitivo Hour is an Italian tradition that occurs every day at sunset when restaurants and bars set out small snacks, called "cicchetti" (chee-ket-eeh), to accompany the palate-opening drinks. As they say in Italy - Cin cin!

Amalfi Aperitivo Spritz

Tasting Note:

AMALFI APERITIVO SPRITZ - Ontario, Canada (#14515) (4 x 355 mL) - $12.95
This ready-to-drink cocktail has pleasing bitter-sweet flavours with touches of orange, citrus, and herbal root notes, while the spritz adds a crisp, refreshing mouthfeel and finish. Ideally served over ice in a stemmed wine glass and garnished with an orange.

Amalfi Aperitivo Spritz


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  • Friday, April 24, 2020

Southbrook Poetica Chardonnay 2012 (Niagara) - Wine Review (Bottle 2)

wine review is a lovely organic and biodynamic Chardonnay from Niagara-on-the-Lake's Southbrook Vineyards. I last enjoyed the 2012 Southbrook Poetica Chardonnay in and wrote that it should evolve nicely over the next 5-6 years.

The story of Southbrook Vineyards begins in 1941 when William Redelmeier (current owner Bill Redelmeier's grandfather) purchased Don Head Farms on fertile lands north of Toronto. In 1991, with an appreciation of gourmet foods and fine wines, the Redelmeiers created a boutique winery and made their first cases of wine using the region's finest grape varietals.

After much success, an opportunity arose in 2005 thanks to Ann Sperling to acquire a 74-acre parcel of land in the warm Four Mile Creek sub-appellation of Niagara-on-the-Lake that was complete with 36 acres of ideally planted, well-selected varieties and top-notch clones. At that time, Bill commenced the creation of a fully biodynamic, organic and environmentally responsible winemaking operation with Ann beginning winemaking at the new facility just a year later, in 2006.

Southbrook Vineyards has evolved into one of Canada’s most innovative and forward-thinking vineyards and wineries. They believe in the importance of organic and biodynamic viticulture and have great respect for the soil, water and ecosystems upon which great wine, and our planet, rely on.

This vegan-friendly white wine is from Southbrook's top-of-the-line Poetica collection of wines that are only made only in the best vintages and in limited quantities to ensure the highest of quality. Only 222 cases of this lovely 2012 Poetica Chardonnay were produced.

While this vintage is long gone from shelves, the 2016 vintage is available for online ordering at the LCBO. In addition, the 2016 Southbrook Poetica Chardonnay is also available at the winery in Niagara-on-the-Lake via curbside pickup or delivery with free shipping across Canada until May 1, 2020. Let's see how the 2012 is tasting tonight...

Southbrook Poetica Chardonnay 2012 (92 pts)

Tasting Note:

SOUTHBROOK POETICA CHARDONNAY 2012 - VQA Four Mile Creek, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#366500) (XD) - $49.95
Bottle 353 of 2,664. Pours a medium-deep yellow gold colour that seemed to get darker in the glass. Mature, slightly oxidized aromas of almond, nut, biscuity, lemon, and waxy notes elegantly lift out of the glass. It is full-bodied on the rich, creamy palate with lovely beeswax flavours plus almond, nut and biscuit. Comes off a touch warming, while acids are still quite juicy and well-balanced. Savoury, earthy, and honeyed with touches of lemon and saline mineral on the long, long finish. Drink now. Score: 92 pts

Southbrook Poetica Chardonnay 2012 (92 pts) Back Label


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  • Sunday, April 19, 2020

13th Street Gamay 2018 (Niagara) - Wine Review

red wine review is the latest Gamay from 13th Street Winery in Niagara. I was first introduced to this winery's Gamay nine years ago when I enjoyed their 2008 13th Street Gamay Noir that showed up in LCBO VINTAGES in .

The 2008 vintage would've been current owners John & June Mann's and Doug & Karen Whitty's first vintage as they purchased 13th Street Winery in September of that year, right around harvest time. 13th Street 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 and escape, to relax and discover, and to experience and learn. I have tasted many 13th Street wines over the years and have visited the winery on a number of occasions - always leaving with a smile.

Winemaker Jean Pierre Colas is one of Niagara's champions of Gamay and is known for producing some fine examples and 13th Street Winery has a few Gamay's in their portfolio. Including this wine, there is also the fine Whitty Vineyard Gamay and Sandstone Vineyard Gamay - both are lovely wines. The grapes for this particular Gamay are from select Niagara Peninsula vineyards, with harvest taking place in late September and early October, and vinified separately. The 2018 vintage was hot and humid, but luckily, the rains started in September and a freshened the grapes. Unfortunately, the rains did not stop and put pressure to pick early ripening reds, like Gamay, before disease set in. This meant that the grapes were sorted in the vineyard, as well as on the sorting table to ensure only pristine bunches were kept. The result was intense ripness of the grapes, but with lower yields. After fermentation in tanks, the wines were kept separate until the final blending and bottling which occurred in early June 2019.

This Gamay is a VINTAGES Essential listing at the LCBO and is always available at LCBO outlets across Ontario. In VINTAGES, the 2018 vintage should be on shelves soon - if not already. Having said that, this delicious red wine is available for purchase at the winery via Porch Pickup or contact-less delivery. As an added bonus, 13th Street is currently offering free shipping on any wine purchase (with no minimums!) for deliveries in Ontario. Simply use promo code FREE when you place your order.

13th Street Gamay 2018 (89 pts)

Tasting Note:

13TH STREET GAMAY 2018 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#177824) (XD) - $19.95
Fermented with minimal intervention and raised entirely in stainless steel tanks. Screw cap enclosure. This Gamay has a lovely dark plum, cherry, blackberry, and gentle spice nose with some savoury earthy characters and just a touch of floral. It's light-to-mid-weighted on the palate with light tannins and fresh acidity framing the spice, cherry, and red currant, and plum flavours. Nicely textured and well-balanced with very good length on the earthy-savoury finish. Enjoy over the next 2-3 years. Score: 89 pts


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  • Monday, April 6, 2020

FRESH Sparkling Rosé (Ontario) - Wine Review

wine review is this casual, fun, and easy drinking rosé sparkling wine from Niagara.

FRESH Wines are crafted in Niagara-on-the-Lake by Lakeview Wine Co., a division of Diamond Estates, with a focus on creative, high-quality wines. FRESH is the perfect Niagara wine brand for intrepid wine drinkers who dare to try something a little different.

Each wine from the FRESH line is crafted from 100% Ontario grapes, grown by Ontario farmers and their families. FRESH wines are available in several popular varieties, respectfully priced and readily available to join you on your personal journey of possibilities.

This appealing bubbly is widely available at the LCBO, but you can also stay at home and order online directly from Lakeview Wine Co. where they are offering free shipping on orders of $50+ with promo code LWCLOVE. You can get this bottle along with a few other Lakeview wines I enjoyed recently.

FRESH Sparkling Rosé (86 pts)

Tasting Note:

FRESH SPARKLING ROSÉ - Méthode Cuve Close, VQA Ontario, Canada (#341347) (D) - $16.95
A blend of 60% Riesling and 40% Gamay made in the Charmat method. Soft, gentle nose offers honeysuckle, red berry, floral, and lemon pith aromas. The palate is off-dry with strawberry, citrus, floral, honeysuckle, and grapefruit flavours. Mousse is a touch frothy while clean, fresh acidity livens the palate. Floral, grapefruit, and citrus notes linger on the pithy finish. Easy drinking bubbly ideal as an aperitif. Score: 86 pts


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  • Wednesday, 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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  • Friday, March 20, 2020

Lakeview Cellars Malbec 2016 (Niagara) - Wine Review

While I'm practising self-isolation and social distancing, wine review is a lovely Malbec from Niagara... yes, you read that right!

Lakeview Cellars was founded in 1991 by Eddy Gurinskas. Today, Lakeview Cellars is the oldest label that forms the group of brands from Lakeview Wine Co., a division of Niagara's Diamond Estates.

Malbec is not commonly grown in Niagara, so I was delightfully surprised to find this delicious wine while visiting Lakeview Wine Co. back in January. This Malbec is produced using grapes from a small, single vineyard called the Southshore Vineyards that is located in the Niagara Lakeshore sub-appellation in Niagara-on-the-Lake. The small block of 1.5 acres has sandy loam soils and is situated on a relatively flat piece of land, with a gentle slope right on the shores of Lake Ontario, ensuring uninterrupted sunlight exposure. Malbec ripens at roughly the same time as Merlot, thus requiring a fairly long growing season. The grape for this vintage were harvested beginning in late October, then fermented in 5,000 L tank, then aged in Hungarian oak barrels (new and older) for 18-24 months.

The 2017 Malbec (which winemaker Tom Green tells me is" dynamite") was just bottled last month and I expect it to hit shelves next month. Meanwhile, this lovely 2016 continues to be available at the winery can be ordered online with free shipping over $50 throughout the month with promo code MARCH. You can order this and a bottle of the 2017 Lakeview Cellars Fumé Blanc and have them shipped to your door for free.

Lakeview Cellars Malbec 2016 (89 pts)

Tasting Note:

LAKEVIEW CELLARS MALBEC 2016 - Southshore Vineyards, VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $34.95
The medium-high intensity nose offers sweet, ripe red fruits of plum, raspberry, and cherry aromas that are nuanced with stony mineral, smoky, and white pepper notes. The palate is medium-bodied with smooth, well-integrated tannins and food-friendly acidity. Some stewed cherry, black cherry, blackberry flavours come through on the flavour profile, along with smoky and peppery spice notes. Earthy, dark plum, and dark berry notes linger on the long finish. Enjoy over the next 1-2 years. Score: 89 pts


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  • Monday, March 16, 2020

Lakeview Cellars Fumé Blanc 2017 (Niagara) - Wine Review

wine review is a yummy Fumé Blanc (i.e. Sauvignon Blanc) from Niagara. The French term "fumé" translates to "smoke", and is derived from a thick layer of fog that would cover the Loire Valley in France. In the new world, as they do at Lakeview Cellars, a wine brand of Lakeview Wine Co., which itself is a division of Niagara's Diamond Estates, they add some mild oak aging to an already delicious Sauvignon Blanc to add some complexity, depth, and smoky characters.

The grapes for Lakeview Cellars wines are sourced from their best vineyards in the Niagara Region, which are kissed by Lake Ontario's offshore breeze. Having tasted many delicious wines from Lakeview Cellars over the years, their reputation is based on their commitment to producing premium VQA wines at affordable prices.

This delicious white wine is only available through their winery in Niagara-on-the-Lake - which is still open for business at the time of this writing. However, due to heightened concerns about COVID-19, I would recommend you shop online through their web store (which is open 24/7) as they are offering free shipping on all orders over $50 this month with promo code MARCH.

Lakeview Cellars Fumé Blanc 2017 (88 pts)

Tasting Note:

LAKEVIEW CELLARS FUMÉ BLANC 2017 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $22.95
Screw cap. Ripe tropical fruit and melon aromas are layered over lime zest and subtle smoky characters. It is medium-full bodied on the ripe palate with more tropical fruit flavours like melon and pineapple, plus some leesy notes. The mild oak aging adds some pleasing smoky notes on the mid-palate, along with a very good mouthfeel, all supported juicy, balanced acidity. It's nicely balanced throughout with very good length on the lime citrus and tropical fruit flavoured finish with hints of smoke. Score: 88 pts


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  • Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Lakeview Cellars Morgan Vineyard Kerner 2018 (Niagara) - Wine Review

wine review is a nice white wine from Niagara that is crafted from the aromatic Kerner grape varietal. I enjoyed the 2017 Lakeview Cellars Morgan Vineyard Kerner back in 2018 and am delighted to see Lakeview Wine Co. make this wine again due to popular demand.

Lakeview Cellars was established in 1991 and built a worldwide reputation as a leading producer of premium wines and is now part of the Diamond Estates Wine & Spirits Ltd. organization. With a passion for creating high quality wines, Lakeview Cellars wines are produced in limited quantities and only from vintages that their winemakers deem fit to bear the Lakeview label.

While the previous vintage of this wine showed up in LCBO VINTAGES in August 2018, the current vintage is available exclusively at the winery in Niagara-on-the-Lake and through their online web store.

Lakeview Cellars Morgan Vineyard Kerner 2018 (88 pts)

Tasting Note:

LAKEVIEW CELLARS MORGAN VINEYARD KERNER 2018 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#443614) (D) - $19.95
From the Morgan Vineyard within the Lincoln Lakeshore sub-appellation, the 20+ year old vines are planted on sandy soils. Screw cap. Generous aromas of floral, honeysuckle, orange blossom, and peach waft out of the glass, all of which come through nicely on the balanced, off-dry palate. Racy acids and spice notes keep things fresh on the mid-weighted palate. Adding further interest on the mid-palate are some grapefruit and herbally notes. Clean, crisp, and juicy on the finish, with very good length. Score: 88 pts


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  • Wednesday, January 29, 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lakeview Cellars Serenity Baco Noir 2017 (87 pts)

Tasting Note:

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


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  • Sunday, January 26, 2020

Lakeview Cellars Serenity Sauvignon Blanc 2018 (Niagara) - Wine Review

It's been a crazy couple of weeks, plus today's tragic news of Kobe Bryant, so for wine review I feel like having some serenity now with this Sauvignon Blanc from Niagara.

Serenity is that feeling created by quiet conversations, easy smiles, magical moments with friends or simply your personal oasis - and is exactly what this delicious white wine was created to be part of.

The Serenity collection of wines, which also includes the Serenity Baco Noir, is a new addition to the Lakeview Cellars brand. These wines are produced by Lakeview Wine Co., a division of Diamond Estates Wine & Spirits Ltd. in Niagara-on-the-Lake. Winemaker Scott McGregor says that he enjoys crafting these premium and approachable Serenity Wines. He also mentions that this Sauvignon Blanc would be a great patio wine.

Given that it is January in Toronto, I have no doubt that this will be a hit on patios come Spring, but I will pass on the patio for now and move indoors to my serene spot on the couch, bundled up with warm slippers.

This white wine is widely available at LCBO outlets across Ontario, as well as at the winery in Niagara-on-the-Lake or by shopping online.

Lakeview Cellars Serenity Sauvignon Blanc 2018 (87 pts)

Tasting Note:

LAKEVIEW CELLARS SERENITY SAUVIGNON BLANC 2018 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#688549) (D) - $16.95
Screw cap. Fragrant nose of gooseberry, green, grassy, and lime zest aromas. It's medium+ bodied with good fruit concentration and gooseberry, kiwi, tropical fruit, and lime citrus flavours supported by bracing acidity. Good length on the finish. Serve well-chilled. Score: 87 pts


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  • Sunday, December 8, 2019

13th Street Cuvée Rosé Brut (Niagara) - Wine Review

After enjoying the excellent 2013 13th Street Grande Cuvée Blanc de Noir last weekend, wine review features another delightful sparkling wine from 13th Street Winery that is a VINTAGES Essential at the LCBO and currently on promotion for $3 off at the LCBO and winery.

13th Street Winery was founded in 1998 in St. Catharines, Ontario, and was purchased in 2008 by the current owners - the Mann and Whitty families. In 2009, current winemaker Jean-Pierre Colas joined the 13th Street team. He is one of the most talented French-trained winemakers in the business. He believes that great wines come from the best grapes grown in the best vineyards, whereas winemaking techniques are only utilized to supplement and capture the very essence of the grapes’ provenance and character. In his home country of France, where Jean-Pierre was the winemaker at notable Chablis house, Domaine Laroche, his have wines garnered many prestigious awards. Between France and his current residency at 13th Street, Jean-Pierre has travelled and worked extensively in vineyards across globe, including Chile, Argentina, and New Zealand, as well as studied under a number of exceptional winemakers.

I discovered 13th Street Winery's sparkling wines a few years ago and have been a fan ever since. The impressive roster of bubbly's at 13th Street consists of 5 wines, including the aforementioned Grande Cuvée Blanc de Noir. They are considered to be sparkling wine specialists.

This Brut Rosé is the only non-vintage bubbly they produce. It is a dry sparkling wine made in the traditional method with 54% Chardonnay and 46% Pinot Noir. The Chardonnay provides structure and backbone, while the Pinot Noir provides fruit, power and richness. Secondary fermentation took place in the final bottle and it was aged sur lattes (en tirage) for a minimum of 18 months, allowing the bubbles to become smaller and more compact. After dosage of 10 grams of sugar, this sparkling wine was aged a further 3 months prior to release.

13th Street Cuvée Rosé Brut (89 pts)

Tasting Note:

13TH STREET CUVÉE ROSÉ BRUT - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#147504) (XD) - $29.95 $26.95 until .
Made in the traditional method with 54% Chardonnay and 46% Pinot Noir, this has aromas of strawberry, cherry, and raspberry that give way to notes of autolytic, brioche, ginger, leesy, citrus and mineral. The medium-bodied palate is dry with fine, creamy textured bubbles and red berry, brioche, toasty, yeasty-leesy flavours. There's a vague impression of sweetness, but it's essentially dry. Very good length on the finish with red berry, leesy, and mineral notes. Score: 89 pts


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  • Sunday, December 1, 2019

13th Street Grande Cuvée Blanc de Noir 2013 (Niagara) - Wine Review

For wine review, I venture into the VINTAGES Classics Collection - a selection of fine wine (and spirits) that are some of the best, most iconic, and most collectible wines from top producers around the world. The VINTAGES Classics program releases new wines on a monthly basis, specifically on the first Thursday of every month.

13th Street Winery produces this lovely sparkling wine on Fourth Avenue in St. Catharines. The winery was founded by amateur winemakers in 1998, and purchased in 2008 by the current owners - John & June Mann and Doug & Karen Whitty. Both families have deep roots in the region and aim to create exceptional wines that reflect the unique terroir of Niagara. John Mann has been involved in farming for over 30 years, while Doug Whitty is the third generation to be operating the family farm in St. Catharines, which was originally established in 1908.

In all, 13th Street Winery owns seven vineyards in Niagara and produces 85% of their wines using fruit from their own vineyards. The Whitty family has been farming fruit for more than 100 years, and with each new generation they employ a sustainable and minimal interventionist approach to viticulture, respecting the life of the land and ensuring it stays healthy and happy for future generations.

I have enjoyed many table wines from 13th Street over the years, but it was only in the last few years that I discovered their fantastic sparkling wines. The Grand Cuvée is their top traditional method sparkling wine. It is produced only in the best vintages and is made with 100% Pinot Noir from their own Whitty Vineyard (which surrounds the winery itself on Fourth Avenue) in the Creek Shores appellation in Niagara. After careful manual harvest, whole bunches of Pinot Noir were put into the press where the free run juice was separated out and blended with the first gentle press to extract juice, but not colour or phenolics. It was aged on the lees for 60 months and after disgorging, winemaker Jean-Pierre Colas deemed the wine to be perfectly balanced and decided to not add any sugar to the dosage, resulting in a classically dry sparkling wine in the zero dosage style.

This top Niagara sparkling wine will be available for purchase by the bottle at VINTAGES Shop Online as part of the December VINTAGES Classics Collection on Orders are fulfilled on a first-come, first-served basis, so it's highly advised to shop early to secure your bottles. Unfortunately, this will not be coming to VINTAGES Classics after all. However, it is available at the winery and through their online web store.

13th Street Grande Cuvée Blanc de Noir 2013 (93 pts)

Tasting Note:

13TH STREET GRANDE CUVÉE BLANC DE NOIR 2013 - VQA Creek Shores, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#361394) (XD) - $59.95
100% Pinot Noir from the Whitty Vineyard and made only in top vintages, this traditional method sparkling wine was aged for 60 months on the lees. Fine, persistent aromas of brioche, biscuit, lemon curd, and white berries rise out of the glass. On the medium+ bodied palate, it has fresh acidity and fine, delicate mousse that provide a very nice mouthfeel with plenty of finesse. It is classically dry, with slightly oxidative and complex flavours of baked apple, lemon curd, citrus, leesy, brioche, and yeasty with touches of stony mineral that linger through to the long lemony-mineral finish. Really fine bubbly! Score: 93 pts


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  • Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Southbrook Estate Grown Small Lot Wild Ferment Chardonnay 2013 (Niagara) - Wine Review (Bottle 2)

I first enjoyed the organic, biodynamic and vegan-friendly 2013 Southbrook Estate Grown Small Lot Wild Ferment Chardonnay back in 2015 and mentioned at the time that it should improve in a couple of years, so I am opening the 2nd bottle, 4 years later, to see how it has evolved.

Southbrook Vineyards, a family-owned winery based in Niagara-on-the-Lake, is a leader in Ontario in organic and biodynamic viticulture. They have great respect for the soil, water and ecosystems upon which great wine, and our planet, relies. Southbrook was founded in Niagara by Bill Redelmeier in 1991 after much success with their farm just north of Toronto. In 2008, half of their 150 acre property became certified organic, while today 100% of the estate property is certified organic, as well as biodynamic. Also in 2008, Southbrook was the first winery building to receive Gold Level LEED status.

This white wine was crafted by renowned winemaker Ann Sperling, who has been Southbrook's consultant winemaker since 2005. Using exclusively estate fruit, only 6 barrels (180 cases) of this wild fermented Chardonnay were produced. It spent 20 months in French oak barrels (50% new).

Of course, the 2013 is no longer available for purchase. However, the 2017 Southbrook Wild Ferment Chardonnay that I loved last December is still available at the winery and through their online web store.

Southbrook Estate Grown Small Lot Wild Ferment Chardonnay 2013 (91 pts)

Tasting Note:

SOUTHBROOK ESTATE GROWN SMALL LOT WILD FERMENT CHARDONNAY 2013 - VQA Four Mile Creek, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $34.95
Highly aromatic nose offers mature, slightly oxidized and complex notes of buttery, baked apple, pear and vanilla with touches of hazelnut, smoke and mushroom that become more prominent with air. It is medium bodied with lovely hazelnut, baked apple, and pear flavours mingling with vanilla and hints of butter on the palate. Some saline mineral notes arrive on the juicy mid-palate. Acids are still quite lively and fresh. Finishes long and succulent with more smoke, mushroom, nutty, and baked apple notes. Should continue to drink well over the next 2-3 years. Score: 91 pts


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  • Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Closson Chase Vineyard Chardonnay 2014 (PEC) - Wine Review (Bottle 5)

wine review is the last bottle from a case I ordered through the VINI wine app.

Of course, the 2014 is no longer available for purchase, but a newer vintage of this delightful wine from Prince Edward County's Closson Chase arrived in LCBO VINTAGES in August.

The first bottle of this lovely 2014 Closson Chase Vineyard Chardonnay was opened from in December 2016, while the most recent bottle was opened back in March. I noted in March that I should open the last bottle some time later this year. Well, that time has come...

Closson Chase Vineyard Chardonnay 2014 (89 pts)

Tasting Note:

CLOSSON CHASE VINEYARD CHARDONNAY 2014 - VQA Prince Edward County, Ontario, Canada (#148866) (XD) - $28.95
Pours a mature medium yellow-gold colour. Medium-high aromatics offer mature waxy, lemon oil, and paraffin aromas with hints of oxidized and nutty notes. Gentle acids on the medium-full bodied palate deliver a fleshy mouthfeel. More mature, oxidized flavours mimic the nose, with some lemon citrus notes on the mid-palate. Long finishing with lemon oil and paraffin notes. Still appealing, but definitely on the way down. Drink now. Score: 89 pts


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  • Friday, September 6, 2019

Red Tractor Wines (Niagara) - Wine Reviews

Red Tractor Wines
wine reviews are a pair of new wines that were recently launched at Creekside last month.

Established in 2011 by Creekside Estate Winery, Red Tractor Wines are new world wines that celebrate the past, present, and future of farming in Ontario. At Creekside, they have an old Massey Harris tractor that serves as a symbol of the hard work that is required to farm the vineyards. Red Tractor Wines were created to honour this hard work and salute their family of growers.

The grapes for Red Tractor Wines are sourced from family farms across the Niagara Peninsula. Paying homage to the vineyards and growers such as the Serluca and Smith families, Red Tractor Wines is proud to work alongside these 2nd generation farmers as they push the boundaries on innovation and lead with sustainable farming practices.

Yvonne Irvine steers the Red Tractor team and crafted these wines to best express their sense of place while honouring old-world winemaking techniques. She has over 12 years of viticultural and winemaking experience and works closely with their family of growers, embracing the honest, hard work required to grow and harvest quality fruit.

Both of these wines are available for purchase now at Creekside Estate Winery, Furthermore, the Cabernet Merlot will be coming to LCBO VINTAGES on .

Tasting Notes:

RED TRACTOR CABERNET MERLOT 2017 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#011851) (XD) - $17.95
Composed of 45% Merlot, 29% Cabernet Sauvignon, 18% Cabernet Franc, and other varietals. Screw cap. Vegan-friendly. This bottle shows an herbally, medium+ intensity nose off the top followed by black currant, blackberry, cassis, wood spice and earthy tones. The soft, medium-bodied palate has smooth, rounded tannins and juicy acidity. It has dark fruited, herbal, and oak spice flavours. Earthy and green herb notes linger on the finish, with good length. Coming to LCBO VINTAGES on September 14th and enjoy over the next 3-4 years. Score: 88 pts

Red Tractor Cabernet Merlot 2017 (88 pts)Red Tractor Cabernet Franc 2017 (89 pts)

RED TRACTOR CABERNET FRANC 2017 - VQA Four Mile Creek, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada (D) - $25
Sourced entirely from the Serluca Family vineyard near the little village of Virgil. Screw cap. Ripe, medium+ intensity nose offers red and black berry fruit with some dusty earth, bay leaf, herbs, and oak spice aromas. The medium-bodied palate is ripe with more red and black fruit flavours mingling with minty herb, barnyard, sweet tobacco, and spice flavours. It has juicy, balanced acidity and supple, dusty textured tannins that become quite grippy on the mid-palate. Long finishing with wood spice, dark berry, and earthy notes. Vegan-friendly. Best enjoyed from 2020 to 2024. Tasted . Score: 89 pts


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  • Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Sivó Shámán Herbal Liqueur (Canada) - Review

I enjoyed this delicious herbal liqueur that arrived on LCBO VINTAGES on .

Shámán is a bitter herbal liqueur with origins in Bavarian monasteries. It has been revived with the respect and love of Quebec artisans by Maison Sivó to please the tastes of a new generation. Shámán aims to be nothing less than becoming a legend. Served cold, straight as a shooter, Shámán will surprise you with its powerful, bitter and floral taste. Developed with the assistance of mixologists, Sháman has a relatively high alcohol percentage by volume and a low sugar content that will make it also ideal in cocktails.

The Sivó family was producing remarkable fruit brandies at the outset of the 20th century in their village in Hungary. At the time, their products were recognized for their craftsmanship and quality even though their equipment was rather rudimentary. Today, they use highly refined methods of micro-distilling at their distillery in Montérégie, in southwestern Quebec.

Sivó Shámán Herbal Liqueur

Tasting Note:

SIVÓ SHÁMÁN HERBAL LIQUEUR - Matured in oak casks, Canada (#653436) (500 mL) - $27.95
Relatively high alcohol (36% alc./vol.) and minimal sugar (7.5 g/L), this is crafted with selective maceration of herbs and spices, realization, and aging in oak casks. Fragrant herbal, bitter, anise seed, licorice, and some floral aromas and flavours. Sticky and richly textured on the medium+ body. Very good length on the smooth, bitter finish. Reminds me of an Amaro. You could serve this lightly chilled on its own, but it will really shine when mixed into a cocktail. I made a slightly simpler version of Cabin Fizz (recipe below) and it was delicious! Other recipes that also look very enticing are provided below.

Cocktail Recipes:


Cabin Fizz
1.5 oz. Vodka
0.75 oz. Lemon juice
0.5 oz. Shámán
0.25 oz. Maple syrup
2 oz. Maple water
2 dashes of Angostura bitter

Add ice, shake and serve in a collins glass. Top off with soda, and garnish with lemon zest.

Lone Wolf
Crush a quarter of lemon in glass, then add:

0.5 oz. Shámán
0.5 oz. Simple syrup
1 oz. Pineapple juice
Add ice and ginger beer, and garnish with lemon slice

El Shámán
0.75 oz. Shámán
0.75 oz. Mexcal
0.75 oz. Grand Marnier
0.75 oz. Fresh lime juice
2 tbsp. White sugar
1 dash Agave syrup

Shake and filter, and serve in Marie-Antoinette glass.


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  • Monday, June 24, 2019

Queenston Mile Vineyard Portfolio Tasting (Spring 2019)

Queenston Mile Vineyard Sparkling Wines
In the , I had the pleasure of tasting through the wines of one of Niagara's newest and hottest wineries - Queenston Mile Vineyard.

The 50-acre vineyard and winery are located in St. David's Bench in Niagara-on-the-Lake, just 10 kilometres south of the shores of Lake Ontario. This area was formed when glaciers carved out the Niagara Escarpment and arose from the historic shoreline of Lake Iroquois towards the base of the Niagara Escarpment. Today, the escarpment's steep ridge collects winds off the lake and circulates them back over the low-lying plains of Niagara-on-the-Lake.

Queenston Mile Vineyard is situated in one of Niagara's hottest sub-appellations, with their Estate Vineyard warming early in the Spring and allowing for an extended growing season. In fact, they have one of the warmest and longest growing sites in the Niagara Peninsula. Soils consist of red sandstone bedrock and rich layers of silty clay and loam.

The people behind Queenston Mile Vineyard are not new to wine. They have also been growing grapes and making wine from this land for over twenty years. For the first ten years, they waited for the vines to mature on this newly planted vineyard so they could see what they truly had to be able to make exceptional wines. During the second ten years, they started to see the special qualities of the vineyard. The result is a house that produces mostly Chardonnay and Pinot Noir table wines, as well as fantastic sparkling wines.

Rob Power is the man behind Queenston Mile Vineyard. It is a project of passion for him and has been a strong advocate for the advancement of quality and creativity in the Canadian wine industry. He has worked tirelessly to innovate within the Niagara wine industry, producing thought provoking blends and vinifying unique varietals. You may also know him as the winemaker at Niagara's Creekside Estate Winery. During his career, Rob has garnered both critical acclaim and the respect of his industry colleagues as he is widely considered to be one of Canada's top winemakers.

I tasted through the entire Queenston Mile Vineyard portfolio and wine reviews of my favourites are provided below. All of these delicious wines are available for purchase directly from the winery.

Queenston Mile Vineyard Mile Red 2016Queenston Mile Vineyard Sweet Victory Viognier 2017

Tasting Notes:

QUEENSTON MILE VINEYARD BLANC DE NOIRS 2015 - VQA St. David's Bench, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada (#010139) (XD) - $50
100% Pinot Noir that spent 3 years on the lees. Pretty, light-peach coloured with fragrant aromas pastry, lemon/lime citrus and stone fruits. Honeyed with a kiss of sweetness on the palate with lovely aromas replays. It is creamy textured with bright, vibrant acids and a long, crisp finish. Very fine Niagara bubbly. Score: 91+ pts

Queenston Mile Vineyard Blanc de Noirs 2015 (91+ pts)

QUEENSTON MILE VINEYARD CHARDONNAY 2016 - Estate bottled, VQA St. David's Bench, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada (#010137) (XD) - $35
From a hot year, this offers subtle ripe apple, pear, and vanilla aromas, with much of the same on the medium+ bodied and fleshy palate. Finish length is very good. Score: 88+ pts

Queenston Mile Vineyard Chardonnay 2016 (88+ pts)Queenston Mile Vineyard Chardonnay 2017 (90+ pts)

QUEENSTON MILE VINEYARD CHARDONNAY 2017 - Barrel Fermented, VQA St. David's Bench, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $35
Bottled a couple of weeks prior, the 2017 offers a lovely, medium-high intensity nose that is clean and lean, with butter ripe apples, elegant pear and vanilla aromas. It is lifted with vibrant acidity on a medium-bodied palate. Nutty notes arrive on flavour profile, along with lovely aroma replays. Long, clean finish. Reminds me of a Meursault. Score: 90+ pts

QUEENSTON MILE VINEYARD PINOT NOIR 2016 - Estate bottled, VQA St. David's Bench, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $40
A hot vintage on a hot site, this has a medium intensity nose of stewed red and blackberry, strawberry, cherry, and a touch of nail polish, all of which come through nicely on the palate. Acids are very good, but the tannins are very drying and chalky. Good finish length. I would hold for 2-3 years to let the tannins subside. Score: 89 pts

Queenston Mile Vineyard Pinot Noir 2016 (89 pts)Queenston Mile Vineyard Pinot Noir 2017 (90+ pts)

QUEENSTON MILE VINEYARD PINOT NOIR 2017 - Estate bottled, VQA St. David's Bench, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $40
Slightly darker in colour and more feminine in style than the 2016. This has a lovely medium-high intensity nose of red currant, black cherry, raspberry, wood spice, and hints of earthiness and tea leaf. It is medium-bodied with some astringency to the soft tannins, but otherwise well-integrated. Lovely tea leaf, beet root and strawberry flavours on the palate. Bright acids and very good finish length. Bottled 1-2 weeks ago. Score: 90+ pts


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  • Tuesday, April 30, 2019

16 Mile Cellar Wine Tasting (2019)

16 Mile Cellar Wine Tasting (2019)
, I had the pleasure of tasting the latest wines from Niagara's 16 Mile Cellar. I was first introduced to 16 Mile Cellar in 2015 and at that time only tasted their Chardonnay wines.

On this day, I was able to taste their Pinot Noir, as well as their more recent Chardonnays. In the four years since, there have been some changes at the winery. Morgan Juniper is the new winemaker at 16 Mile Cellar. She previously worked at a Niagara's Tawse Winery and Pearl Morissette, in addition to gaining winemaking experience in Australia, Germany, and Alsace. While she did help finish some of the wines we tasted, 2018 was her first full vintage at 16 Mile Cellar.

In addition to Morgan taking us through the wines, Susan Barnacal, President of 16 Mile, was also in attendance and told us quite a few stories. 16 Mile Cellar is a small family-owned and -operated winery that was founded in 2010 by Susan and her husband Joseph Groia. It is located on 16 Mile Creek (hence the name) in St. Catharines, at the base of the Twenty Mile Bench. They farm using organic practices and grow only Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. In the early years, they purchased fruit for their wines. However, as the their own vines matured, they started using estate fruit beginning with the 2015 vintage for Pinot Noir and the 2018 vintage for Chardonnay.

Many thanks to André Proulx for hosting and the opportunity to taste these delicious wines from 16 Mile Cellar. My wine reviews of four of the wines (the fifth was a Pinot Noir barrel sample) are provided below.

Most of these wines are be available for purchase right now. 16 Mile Cellar is holding their annual Spring Open House this Saturday, May 4th at their winery & vineyard and is sure to be an afternoon of fun with complementary tastings, and much more.

16 Mile Cellar Chardonnay

Tasting Notes:

16 MILE CELLAR REBEL CHARDONNAY 2016 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#485243) (XD) - $22.95
Medium+ intensity nose has buttery, vanilla, pear and slightly mealy notes with air. On the medium-bodied and creamy palate it has nice aroma replays supported by bright acids. Expresses terroir with mineral, earth, and mealy notes with hints of vanilla on the long finish. Score: 88 pts

16 Mile Cellar Rebel Chardonnay 2016 (88 pts)16 Mile Cellar Civility Chardonnay 2015 (89 pts)

16 MILE CELLAR CIVILITY CHARDONNAY 2015 - VQA Creek Shores, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $29.95
From a few selected barrels, this is a touch mature with pear, apple amd subtle oak aromas, while the palate is medium-full bodied with bracing acidity and minerally, apple, pear, and a touch mealy flavours. Very good fruit concentrations. Long, juicy finish. Score: 89 pts

16 MILE CELLAR INCIVILITY PINOT NOIR UNFILTERED 2014 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $34.95
Medium-high intensity nose has earthy, cherry, strawberry, beetroot, and oak spice aromas. The palate is medium-bodied with soft, smooth, and refined tannins to go along with red-fruited raspberry, cherry, strawberry flavours and sweet oak spice notes. Long, oak-spiced finish. Various clones fermented separately prior to blending. Score: 89 pts

16 Mile Cellar Incivility Pinot Noir Unfiltered 2014 (89 pts)16 Mile Cellar Tenacity Pinot Noir Unfiltered 2015 (90 pts)

16 MILE CELLAR TENACITY PINOT NOIR UNFILTERED 2015 - VQA Creek Shores, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $50
100% estate fruit from Susan's Vineyard. Medium+ intensity nose is all dark berry, blackberry and dark cherry with oak spice aromas that develop complexities with air. It is medium-bodied with very good fruit concentration and pleasingly spicy replays. Bright acids are juicy, while supple tannins are structured. Long, dark berry notes on the finish. Fairly big Pinot, still somewhat young. Drink over the next 5-8 years. Score: 90 pts


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  • Saturday, April 13, 2019

Southbrook Triomphe Cabernet Merlot 2014 (Niagara) - Wine Review (Bottle 2)

I last enjoyed 2014 Southbrook Triomphe Cabernet Merlot back in , and I am opening the 2nd bottle that I have in my possession.

This red wine blend is produced by Southbrook Vineyards with grapes coming from the Saunders Vineyard in Niagara. Fermentation took place in stainless steel tanks and ageing occurred in neutral oak barrels. This certified organic wine is also suitable for vegans and vegetarians.

Although a newer vintage of this wine isn't available, an equivalent in Southbrook's current portfolio would be the 2017 Triomphe Merlot that is available at the winery and through their online web store.

Southbrook Triomphe Cabernet Merlot 2014 (88+ pts)

Tasting Note:

SOUTHBROOK TRIOMPHE CABERNET MERLOT 2014 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $22.95 Sold Out
Stelvin screw cap enclosure. A blend of 69% Cabernet Franc and 31% Merlot from a cooler vintage that began with the infamous Polar Vortex. Generous aromas are mature with savoury, earthy, and forest floor notes, plus some dried cherry, floral, and herbal spice hints. It is medium-full bodied on the palate with refined tannins that offer a nice chalky texture. More savouriness on the flavour profile with dried cherry, spice, and herbs. Juicy mid-palate with acids a touch sour. Earthy notes linger on the finish, with good length. Enjoy over the next 12 months. Score: 88+ pts


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