Showing posts with label chardonnay. Show all posts
Showing posts with label chardonnay. Show all posts

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  • Monday, April 27, 2020

J. Lohr Riverstone Chardonnay 2018 (California) - Wine Review



white wine review is this popular California Chardonnay. It is a VINTAGES Essentials product - which means that it is always available in the VINTAGES section at LCBO outlets across Ontario. It is also available via online ordering at LCBO.com for delivery or pick-up at your local store.

In the late 1960's, Jerry Lohr embarked on a career change by seeking California grape growing regions for his first vineyard, eventually settling in the Central Coast. Founder of J. Lohr Vineyards & Wines, Mr. Lohr was one of a handful of early pioneers in the region, and among the first the realize the potential of Monterey and Paso Robles for producing high quality grapes and superb wines. In the early 1970's, he chose Monterey County’s Arroyo Seco (meaning "Dry Creek") district for its cool, windy climate and rocky soils ideally suited for Chardonnay. In 1972 and 1973, he planted his first vineyard - 280 acres in Arroyo Seco, near Greenfield.

Today, J. Lohr Vineyards & Wines is still family-owned and operated, with Jerry very much still involved with his children and co-owners Steve, Cynthia, and Lawrence. J. Lohr now includes more than 1,400 acres of cool-climate estate vineyards in the Arroyo Seco and Santa Lucia Highlands regions of Monterey County, 2,700 acres of vineyards in Paso Robles, and over 30 acres in Napa Valley.

This Chardonnay is crafted from grapes grown in the Arroyo Seco AVA, in the middle of the Salinas Valley in Monterey County, California. The grapes were grown primarily on Elder loam soils that cover a base of Riverstones - also called Greenfield Potatoes - which were deposited over thousands of years by the Arroyo Seco River. These stones limit soil depth from one to four feet, although roots are found at greater depths. This unique combination of sandy loam and cobblestone soil keeps the vines' vegetative growth and fruit in balance.

The 2018 vintage in Arroyo Seco was characterized by a cool spring with foggy mornings and evenings, and daytime highs in the 80's Fahrenheit (27°C) throughout the summer. Harvest began on October 4th, which was later than recent vintages, and was completed on November 8. This wine was barrel-fermented and aged for 7 to 9 months in new to fifth-fill American, Hungarian, and French oak barrels. The final blend of the 2018 Riverstone Chardonnay is comprised of nine Chardonnay clones, each adding complexity by adding its own flavour, texture, and acidity.

J. Lohr Riverstone Chardonnay 2018 (87 pts)

Tasting Note:

J. LOHR RIVERSTONE CHARDONNAY 2018 - Arroyo Seco Monterey, California, USA (#258699) (XD) - $19.95
Ripe, medium intensity nose of pineapple, banana, nectarine, and mango with some sweet vanilla and spice aromas. It is medium-full bodied and somewhat warming on the rich, sweet-ish palate with pineapple, banana, ripe apple, sweet vanilla, clove spice, and touches of buttery flavours supported by fresh, juicy acidity. Very good length on the finish with buttery, vanilla, and wood spice notes. Fans of California Chardonnay will like this. Serve well-chilled. Score: 87 pts


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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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  • Thursday, April 9, 2020

Pascual Toso Chardonnay 2018 (Argentina) - Wine Review

wine review is the companion white wine to the 2017 Pascual Toso Malbec red wine that I enjoyed last week. Like the Malbec, this Chardonnay from Argentina is widely available at LCBO outlets across Ontario.

Pascual Toso was established in 1890 and the Estate line of wines are an expression of their passion, commitment to quality, and terroir of Barrancas. The Estate wines come from specially selected vines that are 15 to 25 years old, on high trellises, and watered by a drip irrigation system which allows them to manage the flow of water to obtain the best results. The portfolio of the Estate line of wines includes the varietals Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Torrontes.

Pascual Toso Chardonnay 2018 (86 pts)

Tasting Note:

PASCUAL TOSO CHARDONNAY 2018 - Mendoza, Argentina (#634808) (XD) - $12.95
The fragrant smoky, toasty nose gives way to buttery, ripe apple, pear, and honey aromas. It's full-bodied on the ripe palate with buttery, ripe apple, pear, toasty oak flavours, along with hints of vanilla. It has food-friendly acidity, a toasty mid-palate, and very good length on the buttery, vanilla, and apple flavoured finish. Score: 86 pts


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  • Monday, March 9, 2020

Wines of Argentina Masterclass

Tastes of Argentina masterclass on wine

In , I had the pleasure of attending a Tastes of Argentina masterclass to explore the climatic and cultural factors shaping today's wines from Argentina. The event was hosted by The Consulate of Argentina, represented by Maria de los Angeles Arrieta, Deputy Consul General Trade Commissioner from Consulate General of Argentina, and leading the masterclass was Christopher Waters, Dip. WSET.

Elizabeth Luzza, Christopher Waters, and Maria de los Angeles Arrieta

Argentina is the 2nd largest country in South America and 8th largest country in the world. The winegrowing regions in Argentina are located approximately between 30° to 50° latitude - the sweet-spot for grape-growing in the Southern Hemisphere, and within the same latitude range as other major wine regions in the South Hemisphere such as Chile, South Africa, Australia, and New Zealand. There are six major factors that make the wines of Argentina unique and compelling.

We begin with the first factor - altitude. The vineyards in Argentina are planted within a range at the low-end of 1,000 ft. (300 m) all the way up to 10,000 ft. (3,000 m) above sea level. These high altitudes help create a variety of terroirs and microclimates that distinguish Argentina from the rest of the world. It was interesting to learn that even though vines are planted at high altitudes, many of the vineyards are located on plateaus and not on steep slopes. Planting on plateaus allows for easier monitoring during the grape-growing season as well as harvests that are less labour intensive. The highest vineyards are located in the cooler climate Salta region in northern Argentina, falling under the Winkler I index and are some of the coolest vineyards on the planet.

Terroir is the second major factor. Being one the largest countries in the world, spanning nearly 3,800 kilometres from north to south, the terroir is quite diverse due to wide-ranging altitudes and latitudes. With vineyards across large areas, it is only natural to see variability in soils. The presence of the Andes mountains and rainfall regime are also key factors that affect the terroir. All of these factors contribute to the great diversity of terroirs in Argentina.

The third major factor that makes the wines of Argentina unique is the climate - which is dry and continental. Argentina is very unique in that its traditional wine regions are located in high-altitude valleys, far from the oceans, making Argentina one of the few continental viticultural areas in the world. Moreover, because the Andes mountain range is to the west of Argentina, the cold winds and rain are essentially blocked, leaving only hot and dry winds to flow through the vines. This dryness of the climate helps maintain vineyard health almost completely naturally, which contributes to the production of organic wines.

Poor (or low fertility) soils make for better wine, and the low fertility soils in Argentina are fairly young and nutrient-deprived, with low organic matter, leading to desirable restricted vine growth. Poor soils also help promote natural development of the grape with genuinely distinct flavours.

Argentina also has great water purity, with the main source of irrigation in mountain valleys coming from meltwater in the Andes. This pure, snowmelt water from the mountains is free from any contaminants.

The final factor that makes Argentine wine unique is the new generation of winemakers. The first vitis vinifera wines were produced by the Spanish settlers in 1551. In 1853, the first School of Agriculture was formed and the wine industry subsequently expanded nationwide. The modernization of the wine industry in Argentina began in the 1990’s with local and foreign investments in the search for new markets to export Argentinian wine.

Today, a new generation of agricultural engineers, oenologists, and winemakers is taking the lead and breaking new ground when it comes to producing quality wines. Sebastian Zuccardi, Laura Catena, Luis Reginato, and Alejandro Vigil are just some of the people making exceptional wines in Argentina. With the help of technology applied to the study of soils and climate, new Geographical Indications (GIs) were discovered. Similar to systems used in other winegrowing regions, GIs indicate the origin of the grape and its differential attributes.

Together, the six factors of altitude, terroir, climate, soil, water, and the new generation of winemakers combine to give Argentina it’s unique habitat for creating cutting edge wines.

Tastes of Argentina masterclass on wine

Malbec is usually the first wine that comes to mind when thinking of Argentine wine. It is not surprising given that Malbec is the most widely planted and most important vitis vinifera varietal in Argentina. However, other varieties are becoming more prevalent. In addition to tasting some fine Malbec wines at this masterclass, the 12-wine structured tasting also featured wines made with Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Torrontés, and Cabernet Franc that are thriving in Argentina and gaining recognition across the globe. Tasting notes of my favourite wines from this wine tasting are provided below. Most of the wines are currently available or coming soon to the LCBO, or otherwise can be ordered via the Agent.

Tasting Notes:

CATENA ZAPATA WHITE BONES ADRIANNA VINEYARD CHARDONNAY 2016 - Gualtallary, Uco Valley, Mendoza, Argentina (#514844) (XD) - $125
A super premium Chardonnay with a clean, medium+ intensity nose of pear, apple, orchard fruit and some limestone mineral, earthy, leesy, and buttery characters, all of which show up beautifully on the nicely balanced, medium-full bodied palate. There's some structure to the fruit, along with a touch of bitterness. Earthy-mineral elements linger on the long, juicy finish. Agent: Noble Estates. Score: 93 pts

Catena Zapata White Bones Adrianna Vineyard Chardonnay 2016 (93 pts)El Esteco 1945 Old Vines Torrontés 2018 (92 pts)

EL ESTECO 1945 OLD VINES TORRONTÉS 2018 - Calchaquí Valley, Argentina (#010695) (XD) - $25.95
From vines planted in 1945, the lovely, highly aromatic nose jumps out of the glass with clean, floral and herbal aromas, along with hints of lemon citrus, white grapefruit, and salty mineral notes adding complexity. There's very good fruit on the medium-bodied palate with tension between the fruit and acids. Very nice aroma replays on the flavour profile. Excellent length on the long, earthy and minerally finish. Agent: Vins Dandurand. Score: 92 pts

EL ENEMIGO CABERNET FRANC 2015 - Gualtallary, Uco Valley, Mendoza, Argentina (#011813) (XD) - $23.95
From a specific plot of the Adrianna Vineyard in Gualtallary, the medium-high intensity nose delivers classic Cabernet Franc herbaceous, tobacco, and dark berry aromas along with some vanilla spice notes. It is medium+ bodied with very nice aromas replays on the flavour profile, plus some dark currant, dark cherry, and smoky notes adding complexity. Acids are crunchy, while tannins are smooth and refined. Long, balanced finish and should drink well over the next 5-6 years. Coming to LCBO VINTAGES Mar. 7, 2020. Agent: Noble Estates. Score: 89 pts

El Enemigo Cabernet Franc 2015 (89 pts)Trapiche Medalla Cabernet Sauvignon 2016 (89 pts)

TRAPICHE MEDALLA CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2016 - Lujan de Cuyo & Maipu, Mendoza, Argentina (#568865) (XD) - $19.95
Subtle nose of currant, cassis, and minerals with some earthy spice tones. It's full-bodied with structured tannins that are well-integrated and very approachable. It has very nice aroma replays on the flavour profile with more spice, currant, cassis, and dark berry flavours, lifted by bright acidity and crunchy fruit. Pleasing notes of dark berry, cherry with hints of floral linger on the finish. Arrived in LCBO VINTAGES Feb. 8, 2020. Agent: Vins Dandurand. Score: 89 pts

BODEGA DEL ARTE CLAROSCURO MALBEC 2017 - Tunuyan, Uco Valley, Mendoza, Argentina (XD) - $18.95
Although I seemed to be among the very few, this was my favourite of the Malbecs. The subtle nose gives off aromas of currant, cassis, mineral, and hints of earthy spice, while the full-bodied, crunchy palate has structured tannins that are well-integrated and quite approachable. It has also has very nice aroma replays with lovely spice, currant, cassis, and dark berry notes, supported by bright acidity. Appealing notes of dark berry, cherry, and hints of floral linger on the long finish. Available via Abcon. Score: 89 pts

Bodega del Arte Claroscuro Malbec 2017 (89 pts)Dona Paula 1350 Red Terroir Blend 2015 (89 pts)

DONA PAULA 1350 RED TERROIR BLEND 2015 - Gualtallary, Uco Valley, Mendoza, Argentina (#568956) (XD) - $20.75
This blend of 50% Cabernet Franc, 45% Malbec, and 5% Casavecchi has a medium-high, fairly complex nose that is Cab Franc dominant with red and black fruits, oak spice, and herbaceous notes. It is full-bodied and structured with a touch grippy and tight tannins, and nice aroma replays on the flavour profile. It has juicy acids and very good finish length. Best after 2-3 years of ageing. Agent: Select Wines & Spirits. Score: 89 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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  • Monday, November 11, 2019

Elderton E Series Chardonnay 2017 (Australia) - Wine Review

On this cold, wintry , I bring you some sunshine in a glass with a wine review of this Australian Chardonnay that arrived at the LCBO last month as part of the LCBO VINTAGES Release.

The story of Elderton Wines begins 1894, when a vineyard was planted by the Scholz family on the banks of North Para River in the Barossa Valley, South Australia. In 1916, the property was purchased by Tolley family. The homestead is located in the heart of the township of Nuriootpa and was surrounded by extremely old Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon vines. At a time where demand for Australian table wine was negligible, the vineyard had become derelict.

In 1979, Neil and Lorraine Ashmead moved to the Barossa after spending some years in Saudi Arabia. After years of no interest in the homestead, the Ashmead family purchased the property in 1980, which included a 72-acre vineyard as a bonus as part of the sale. Three years later, after restoring the vineyard and with the help of one of Australia's most respected and innovative winemakers, Peter Lehmann, the Ashmead family produced their first wine under Elderton Wines label.

Since that time, Elderton has garnered many accolades. Today, the winery continues to be run by the Ashmead family, with the second generation, Cameron and Allister, taking over the reins in 2003. Neil passed away in 1997, but Lorraine still continues to be involved through her role on the Board. Together, they intend on taking the company to the next level by purchasing other great vineyards, while also implementing sustainable practices so that the next generation of the Ashmead family will have a lot to work with when they are at the helm.

The E Series wines from Elderton are their entry-level wines that are designed to be affordable, everyday drinking wines made with exceptional quality. The E series stands for excellence, excitement, evolution, epicure, elegance and euphoria. E is for earth. E is for Elderton. Embrace and enjoy!

Elderton E Series Chardonnay 2017 (87 pts)

Tasting Note:

ELDERTON E SERIES CHARDONNAY 2017 - Barossa, South Australia (#458760) (XD) - $16.95
Screw cap. The medium intensity nose is ripe with melon, peach, and golden apple aromas, plus touches of pear, floral, and butter characters. It is medium-full bodied and dry with clean, refreshing acids and fleshy fruit that delivers golden apple, melon, and citrus flavours. Oak is very subtle, adding mostly a textural element. Leesy, apple, and citrus notes linger on the finish, with good length. Will be a fine match with poultry. Score: 87 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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  • Sunday, July 28, 2019

Minerality: The Enigmatic Symbol of Chablis

Minerality: The Enigmatic Symbol of Chablis
Chablis is a cool-climate wine region located in the northernmost wine district in Burgundy, France. The Chablis appellation was established in 1938 and only produces white wines made with one grape varietal - Chardonnay. The wines are known for their purity, expressiveness, and minerality.

Chardonnay becomes Chablis because it is a wine that reflects its environment like nowhere else on earth. When I think of Chablis, it brings to mind images of chalky, mineral-rich clay soils that lay beneath the region’s most coveted vineyards.

Chablis

We know that minerality is not a simple transference from place to taste, or rock to glass, but we do know that soils are the foundation of all great wine regions. The soil is the birthplace of a process that transforms the fruit into an image of its substratum. It is a complex and holistic transformation that takes place and delivers flavours such as granite, slate, limestone or flint in wine.

When visiting Chablis, you will notice that the remarkably chalky soils and the scent of wet organic matter seem very much in line with what can be sensed in the glass. Because the soils are distinctive in their varying abilities to retain humidity, thus allows the roots of the vine to penetrate deep into the soil and extract nutrients. Moreover, because the Chablis soils are nutrient poor, this forces the vines to go very deep into the substratum - playing an important, yet indirect role in creating the characteristic impression of minerality in wine.

The damp soils of Chablis

In Chablis, the two distinctive soil types that influence the wine's foundational elements are of Kimmeridgian and Portlandian origin, which can be traced back to 160 million years ago during the Upper Jurassic age when the sea withdrew the area. The older soils are Kimmeridgian and contain the highest degree of mineral-rich clay, along with marine fossils resulting in high chalky content, resulting in the minerality we perceive so often in the wines of Chablis, Chablis Premier Cru, and Chablis Grand Cru. Furthermore, the cool-climate of Chablis allows the natural expression of minerality. To preserve this minerality and let the fruit express its terroir, winemakers in Chablis use new wood sparingly during vinification and aging.

Kimmeridgian soils of Chablis

Portlandian soils of Chablis

Chablis soil substratum

Minerality in Chablis wines can be described texturally or aromatically as being part of one of three categories of sensations that are derived from the sea (Marine), earth (Terrene), or those that are smoky. The Marine sensations will evoke notions of iodine, brine, oyster shell, sea breeze, or sea salt. Terrene senations can be described as chalk, flint, gunpowder, wet stone, or damp soil. Lastly, the Smoky sensations can be described as sulfur (matchstick) or smoky (smoked black tea). And finally, you will notice fine textural sensations in the wines of Chablis due to the interplay between the brilliant acidity and minerality.

There are four classification tiers among the vineyards of Chablis. Ranging from lowest to highest tier, they are the following:

  • Petit Chablis - 1030 ha of stressed vines located on the more eroded sites at the top of the plateau above Chablis. The wines are fresh and friendly with a delicate fruity character.
  • Chablis - Established in 1938 and is the most vast and productive appellation with 3564 ha. The Kimmeridgian soils give Chablis its telltale minerality.
  • Chablis Premier Cru - Contained within Chablis, there are 783 ha of vines which are divided into 40 Climats who are historically significant in their ability to create wines of superior quality.
  • Chablis Grand Cru - Only 102 ha of vines are planted in Grand Cru designated territories, and all are located on the eastern end of the town of Chablis on south-western facing slope. Many of these wines are aged in (primarily older) oak barrels that add complexities while still allowing minerality to shine.
Here are a couple of fine examples of Chablis that showcase the region's famed minerality. The first wine is a lovely Chablis Premier (1er) Cru, while the second wine is a Chablis. Both of these recently arrived at the LCBO and are available for purchase in the VINTAGES section. To learn more about Chablis, please visit the Pure Chablis wines website.

Tasting Notes:

DOMAINE LAROCHE VIEILLES VIGNES LES VAILLONS CHABLIS 1ER CRU 2017 - AC, Burgundy, France (#991893) (XD) - $39.95
From deeply rooted, old vines within Les Vaillons vineyard that sits on a sunny slope on the left bank with limestone marls and Kimmeridgian limestone soils. Fragrant nose delivers earthy, leesy, chalky mineral notes inter-mingling with lemon citrus and orchard fruit. Nutty and smoky notes add complexity as it warms in the glass. The medium-full bodied palate is concentrated and structured with juicy, finely tuned citrusy acids balancing the citrus, honeysuckle, chalky and salty mineral flavours. It's nicely textured with a slightly chalky mouthfeel and more minerally on the mid-palate. Oyster shell, lemon citrus, and honeysuckle notes linger on the smooth, long finish. Arrived in LCBO VINTAGES June 8. Score: 92 pts

Domaine Laroche Vieilles Vignes Les Vaillons Chablis 1er Cru 2017 (92 pts)Gueguen Chablis 2017 (90 pts)

GUEGUEN CHABLIS 2017 - AC, Burgundy, France (#524934) (XD) - $27.95
Grown on Kimmeridgian clay soils from the upper Jurassic age, this has a medium+ intensity nose offering lemon citrus and earthy mineral aromas along with hints of peach and chalky limestone notes. The vibrant, mid-weighted palate has good fruit, delivering crisp, juicy acidity and nicely balanced aroma replays with a fine mineral streak on the mid-palate. Citrus and mineral notes linger on the long finish, plus hints of mango and mandarin adding interest and complexity. Arrived in LCBO VINTAGES April 27. Score: 90 pts


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  • Tuesday, July 9, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wakefield Clare Valley Estate Chardonnay 2017 (88+ pts)

Tasting Note:

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

Optimum drinking temprature of Wakefield Clare Valley Estate Chardonnay


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  • Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Wine Picks LCBO VINTAGES Release July 6, 2019: Cool-Climate New World + Chardonnay

LCBO Wine Picks: July 6, 2019 VINTAGES Release
Cool wines are the theme of the upcoming LCBO VINTAGES Release on July 6, 2019, with the major theme focusing on wines from Cool New World Regions, while the mini-theme is the annual look at Cool-Climate Chardonnay. All these wines, plus from the rest of the Release will be on LCBO VINTAGES shelves across Ontario by this Saturday.

We'll begin with the main theme that features 13 wines from 10 New World cool-climate wine regions. Typically, cool-climate wines are fresh, refined, and food-friendly, and are influenced by the cooling breezes off a body of water, altitude, vineyard direction and steepness, and latitude. Four of the wines from this theme are among my top wine picks. From New Zealand, there are two lovely wines - a Sauvignon Blanc and a Pinot Noir that are both reductive in style. From the high altitude vineyards in Argentina is a Gran Reserva that is a blend of Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Cabernet Franc. Lastly, the excellent sparkling wine from British Columbia is a blend of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.

Dog Point Sauvignon Blanc 2018 (90 pts)Summerhouse Pinot Noir 2015 (90 pts)

Bodega Fin del Mundo Neuquén Gran Reserva 2015 (89 pts)Sperling Brut Reserve 2011 (92 pts)

From the mini-theme on Cool-Climate Chardonnays, which coincides with the Cool-Climate Chardonnay Celebration (i4C) taking place in Niagara later this month, just two of the eleven wines are included among my top wine recommendations. The first is a nice Chardonnay from Niagara, while the second wine is a lovely cool Chardonnay from South Africa.

Paul Cluver Estate Chardonnay 2017 (90+ pts)

Among my red wine picks from the rest of the Release, the Beaujolais is, of course, made with Gamay, while the Portuguese red wine is a blend of 40% Tinta Roriz (Tempranillo), 30% Touriga Franca, and 30% Touriga Nacional. If you like Châteauneuf-du-Pape, both of my recommendations excellent - they are from different vintages and are different in style, with the 2015 Châteauneuf-du-Pape consisting of 60% Grenache, 20% Syrah, 15% Mourvèdre, and 5% Muscardin, while the 2016 Châteauneuf-du-Pape is a blend of 60% Grenache, 35% Syrah, and 5% Mourvèdre.

Domaine Chante-Perdrix Châteauneuf-du-Pape 2016 (92 pts)Giraud Tradition Châteauneuf-du-Pape 2015 (92 pts)

Gloria Reserva 2016 (89 pts)Bel-Air Clochers Saint-Amour 2017 (88 pts)

From my white wine picks, all are single varietal wines. The white Bordeaux is made with Sauvignon Blanc, while both white wines from Burgundy are made with Chardonnay.

Laroche Les Beauroys Chablis 1er Cru 2017 (91+ pts)Château Briot 2017 (88 pts)

Lastly, there are a pair of wines from Uruguay's Bodega Garzón, a winery that was awarded 2018 New World Winery of the Year for its innovation and leadership by using sustainable practices, modern technology, and most importantly - making some pretty delicious wines from Tannat (Uruguay's signature varietal) and Albariño.

Bodega Garzón Reserva Tannat 2016 (90 pts)Bodega Garzón Reserva Albariño 2018 (90 pts)

Enjoy my wine recommendations from this Release! Cheers!

Red Wine:

  • GLORIA RESERVA 2016 - DOC Douro, Portugal (#146522) (XD) - $16.95  89 pts  wine review
  • SALENTEIN RESERVE MALBEC 2017 - Uco Valley, Mendoza, Argentina (#640854) (XD) - $17.95
  • FEUDO MACCARI NOTO NERO D’AVOLA 2016 - IGP Terre Siciliane, Sicily, Italy (#339101) (XD) - $17.95
  • BEL-AIR CLOCHERS SAINT-AMOUR 2017 - AP, Beaujolais, France (#648527) (XD) - $18.95  88 pts  wine review
  • ZUCCARDI Q MALBEC 2016 - Uco Valley, Mendoza, Argentina (#723478) (XD) - $19.95
  • BODEGA GARZÓN RESERVA TANNAT 2016 - Uruguay (#558916) (D) - $21.95  90 pts  wine review
  • BODEGA FIN DEL MUNDO NEUQUÉN GRAN RESERVA 2015 - Patagonia, Argentina (#668285) (XD) - $24.95  89 pts  wine review
  • SUMMERHOUSE PINOT NOIR 2015 - Marlborough, South Island, New Zealand (#492728) (XD) - $27.95  90 pts  wine review
  • GEYSER PEAK WINERY WALKING TREE CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2015 - Alexander Valley, Sonoma County, California, USA (#161323) (XD) - $29.95  90 pts  wine review
  • DOMAINE CHANTE-PERDRIX CHÂTEAUNEUF-DU-PAPE 2016 - AC, Rhône, France (#121723) (XD) - $45.95  92 pts  wine review
  • GIRAUD TRADITION CHÂTEAUNEUF-DU-PAPE 2015 - AC, Rhône, France (#182899) (XD) - $59.95  92 pts  wine review
Geyser Peak Winery Walking Tree Cabernet Sauvignon 2015 (90 pts)

White Wine:

  • CHÂTEAU BRIOT 2017 - AC Bordeaux, France (#668855) (XD) - $14.95  88 pts  wine review
  • DeMORGENZON DMZ SAUVIGNON BLANC 2018 - WO Stellenbosch, South Africa (#698324) (XD) - $17.95  88+ pts  wine review
  • NOVELLUM CHARDONNAY 2017 - France (#390781) (XD) - $18.95
  • MARKUS HUBER TERRASSEN GRÜNER VELTLINER 2018 - DAC Traisental, Austria (#484956) (XD) - $18.95
  • BODEGA GARZÓN RESERVA ALBARIÑO 2018 - Maldonado, Uruguay (#646802) (XD) - $21.95  90 pts  wine review
  • LEANING POST THE FIFTY CHARDONNAY 2017 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#578864) (XD) - $21.95  90 pts  wine review
  • DOG POINT SAUVIGNON BLANC 2018 - Marlborough, South Island, New Zealand (#677450) (XD) - $26.95  90 pts  wine review
  • PAUL CLUVER ESTATE CHARDONNAY 2017 - WO Elgin, South Africa (#570952) (XD) - $29.95  90+ pts  wine review
  • LAROCHE LES BEAUROYS CHABLIS 1ER CRU 2017 - AC, Burgundy, France (#648469) (XD) - $39.95  91+ pts  wine review
  • CHÂTEAU DE LAVERNETTE VERS CHÂNE POUILLY FUISSÉ 2016 - AC, Burgundy, France (#499657) (XD) - $44.95  FE
DeMorgenzon DMZ Sauvignon Blanc 2018 (88+ pts)

Rosé Wine:

  • MIMI EN PROVENCE GRANDE RÉSERVE ROSÉ 2018 - AP Côtes de Provence, France (#452573) (XD) - $20.95  89 pts  wine review
  • ASHLEY MARY LIMITED EDITION M DE MINUTY ROSÉ 2018 - AP Côtes de Provence, France (#575316) (XD) - $26.95
Mimi en Provence Grande Réserve Rosé 2018 (89 pts)

Sparkling Wine:

  • 13TH STREET CUVÉE BRUT ROSÉ - Traditional method, VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#147504) (XD) - $29.95  90+ pts  wine review
  • SPERLING BRUT RESERVE 2011 - VQA Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, Canada (#635144) (XD) - $48.95  92 pts  wine review
13th Street Cuvée Brut Rosé (90+ pts)

Liqueur:

  • SIVÓ SHÁMÁN HERBAL LIQUEUR - Matured in oak casks, Canada (#653436) (500 mL) - $27.95
Sivó Shámán Herbal Liqueur


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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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