Showing posts with label dessert-wine. Show all posts
Showing posts with label dessert-wine. Show all posts

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  • Friday, May 17, 2019

Wines from Santorini Volcanic Terroir



Santorini Volcanic Terroir
In , I was invited to a media luncheon featuring the wines of Santorini, Greece. The luncheon and tasting was hosted and led by Steve Kriaris, owner of Kolonaki Group, and Elias Karkabasis, owner and Sommelier of Pane Vino Trattoria & Wine Bar in Lindsay, Ontario. The venue was VOLOS, a fine Greek restaurant in the heart of downtown Toronto, and a place I realized upon arriving that I had dined here a few years ago with my wife.

Winemaking began in Santorini in 3500 BC, more than 5,000 thousand years ago. In the classic Greek era, the island was called Thera, while today is officially called Thira. The massive volcanic eruption of 1600 BC ultimately created island's caldera and shape as it is today. This explosion left behind a mixture of volcanic ash, pumice stone and pieces of solidified lava and sand, which together make up the soil of Santorini. This soil has little to no organic matter, but is rich in essential minerals, except potassium, thus creating wines with a naturally low pH level and high acidity. All of these factors contribute to creating agricultural products with a distinct profile.

Wines grown on volcanic soils also travel well. As such, when the Italians discovered Santorini in 1200 AD, they began trading wines from the island in amphoras. The wine that was traded the most was the delectably sweet Vinsanto dessert wine and it was exported throughout the Mediterranean and Europe. It was also sent back home to the Pope in Italy - a practice that still occurs today as The Pope receives the oldest and some of the finest Vinsanto directly from Santorini.

Most of the wine production on Santorini consists of white wines and dessert wines. Assyrtiko is the main white grape grown as it thrives in its birthplace, the volcanic island of Santorini. According to appellation rules, Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) Santorini white wines must contain a minimum of 75% Assyrtiko. Most often, it is produced as a single varietal wine, but can also contain the varietals Athiri and Aidani. Nykteri wines are also made with Assyrtiko and aged for at least three months is oak barrels. Vinsanto wines are naturally sweet dessert wines made from sun-dried grapes, must contain at least 51% Assyrtiko and be aged for at least 24 months in oak barrels, allowing the wine to develop additional complexities. PDO Santorini wines have great ageing potential due to their unique characteristics that stem from their volcanic origin, as well as their naturally high acidity and minerality.

All of the wines we tasted during the luncheon were from the Union of Santorini Cooperatives, also known as SantoWines. This co-operative was founded in 1947 and today it is the largest winery on the island, representing more than 1,200 active growers of grapes and other agricultural products. SantoWines is committed to safeguarding local traditional cultivations, producing high quality PDO Santorini wines, tomatoes, and fava, as well as promoting sustainable agriculture development.

In addition to the fine wines from Santorini, there were also a couple of other food items from this small and rich volcanic island. Santorini fava beans are scientifically known as "Lathyrus Clymenum L." and have been grown exclusively on the island for more than 3,500 years. These fava beans are considered a superfood as they have amazing nutritional value and contain more than 20% plant-based protein. Traditionally dried and aged under the sun, this legume has a rich, velvety texture and an earthy, slightly sweet taste.

Fava spread

Tomataki dip (top left) with Saganaki

Santorini tomatoes, commonly known as tomataki, are one-of-a-kind as they are dry-farmed on volcanic soils. They have thick skins with a ruffled shape, a concentrated full-body and a naturally sweet taste. Tomataki also have more vitamin C than regular tomatoes and more lycopene (antioxidant) than any other fruit or vegetable. Tomataki also makes a unique tomato paste, which we got to enjoy during lunch. It has a distinctive dark red colour, velvety texture, and a sweet and slightly minerally taste that was great for dipping with bread.

The wines, as well as the unique Santorini food items can all be purchased through Kolonaki Group. You can also purchase these wines at the LCBO Greece Destination outlet at 200 Danforth Avenue (Toronto), while the first Assyrtiko in the list below is widely available across Ontario.

Thank you Kolonaki Group for the invitation and the opportunity to try these delicious Santorini foods and wines. Lunch was delicious and I was pleasantly surprised to find that my lamb dish paired beautifully with these white wines. Wine reviews of these delicious wines are provided below and I trust that you will enjoy them as much as I dd. Opa!

Exohico (phyllo pastry and braised lamb) with Santo Grand Reserve Assyrtiko

Tasting Notes:

SANTO SANTORINI ASSYRTIKO 2017 - PDO Santorini, Greece (#459032) (XD) - $23.30
Medium+ intensity nose is clean with citrus, herbs and minerality with hints of saline. It is medium+ bodied and concentrated on the minerally-textured palate with nicely balanced aromas replays on the flavour profile. It is structured with vibrant acids, and has a long, juicy finish. Score: 89 pts

Santo Santorini Assyrtiko 2017 (89 pts)Santo Nykteri 2017 (90 pts)


SANTO NYKTERI 2017 - PDO Santorini, Greece (XD) - $33.95
A blend of 75% Assrytiko, 15% Athiri, and 10% Aidani that was harvested at night to keep freshness. Spent 3 months in oak barrels. This is ripe with roasted pineapple, stone fruit, ripe apple, pear, citrus, and melon, with subtle oak influence. All of which comes through on the vibrant palate with lively acids. Clean, elegant and nicely balanced with excellent finish length. Score: 90 pts

SANTO GRANDE RESERVE ASSYRTIKO 2016 - PDO Santorini, Greece (#814186) (XD) - $57.95
This Assyrtiko spent 1 year in French oak barrels. The medium-high intensity nose has a subtle oak influence with Meyer lemon citrus, baked apple, butter, and stone fruit aromas and flavours. It is medium-full bodied and structured with vanilla notes appearing on the palate. There is a nice mineral texture to go along with juicy acids. Long on the finish. Score: 91 pts

Santo Grande Reserve Assyrtiko 2016 (91 pts)Santo Vinsanto 2011 (89 pts)

SANTO VINSANTO 2011 - PDO Santorini, Greece (#654722) (S) (500 mL) - $67.95
Sun-dried 85% Assyrtiko and 15% Aidani grapes that spent 3 years in oak barrels. Deep orange-red-brown colour. Offers complex aromas of sweet spice, golden raisin, fig, dates, plum, honeyed, brown sugar and hints of hazelnut. Full-bodied with more raisin, fig, and sweet plum notes on the palate, with very good acidity and flavours lingering on the long finish. Score: 89 pts


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  • Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Pillitteri 25th Anniversary Select Late Harvest Cabernet 2013 (Niagara) - Wine Review

I picked up sweet dessert wine while visiting the winery last month during the annual Days of Wine & Chocolate Event in Niagara-on-the-Lake.

With this wine, Pillitteri Estates Winery is celebrating 25 years of family, quality and tradition. This family winery opened its doors in June of 1993. Pillitteri has successfully grown with 3 generations working in the family business, having received over 1000 prestigious wine awards and sell to more than 35 countries worldwide. The family is thankful and proudly presents the 25th Silver Anniversary Collection of wines for all to enjoy.

Back in February during Days of Wine & Chocolate, they were offering BOGO on this particular late harvest dessert wine - what a great deal! Although this deal is no more, this delicious sweet wine is still available for purchase at the winery and through their online web store.

Pillitteri 25th Anniversary Select Late Harvest Cabernet 2013 (88+ pts)Pillitteri 25th Anniversary Select Late Harvest Cabernet 2013 (88+ pts)

Tasting Note:

PILLITTERI 25TH ANNIVERSARY SELECT LATE HARVEST CABERNET 2013 - VQA Ontario, Canada (S) (375 mL) - $25
Fresh red cherry and strawberry aromas waft from the glass with hints of white raisins and chocolate. On the medium-full bodied palate, it is somewhat dense and fairly sweet with just enough acidity to keep the palate fresh. More cherry, strawberry, and raisiny flavours continue through to the finish, with very good length. Enjoy well-chilled. Score: 88+ pts


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  • Monday, February 18, 2019

Rockway Vineyards Riesling Icewine 2013 (Niagara) - Wine Review

wine review is this lovely Icewine that I picked up while visiting the winery in Niagara during the Icewine Festival. This wine continues the string of wines I've enjoyed recently from Rockway Vineyards.

This delicious Icewine is produced by Rockway Vineyards and is a wine I've tasted (and enjoyed) on a number of occasions, including back in . The grapes for this Icewine benefited from early and long freeze cycles that started in late November. Grapes were harvested in the early morning hours of , when the average temperature -10°C.

With only 300 Litres produced (approximately 1,500 bottles of 200 mL) and now 6 years from vintage, I am a bit surprised that this lovely Riesling Icewine is still available for purchase at the winery and through their online web store. It is also currently $10 off, making it one of the better value Riesling Icewines out there.

Rockway Vineyards Riesling Icewine 2013 (92 pts)

Tasting Note:

ROCKWAY VINEYARDS RIESLING ICEWINE 2013 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (S) (200 mL) - $39.97 $29.97
Gorgeous, aromatic nose offers orange citrus, peach, kiwi, meringue, and honeycomb aromas. It is full-bodied and viscous on the sweet palate with juicy, racy acids balancing the sugar and keeps the wine from being cloying. Sweet, luscious and complex flavours of peach, orange citrus, honeycomb, lime, kiwi, and apple are nicely balanced. Excellent finish length with flavour profile lingering on the long aftertaste. Lots of life in this sweet elixir and will keep for many years. Score: 92 pts


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  • Monday, December 17, 2018

Niagara Icewine Festival Review 2018 - Day 1 of 2

Hernder Cabernet Franc Icewine with Salted Caramel Chocolate Brittle
On , I visited Niagara to taste a few food & Icewine pairings as part of the Discover Pass Experience that was available at participating wineries throughout Niagara during the annual Icewine Festival. The weather turned out to be great on this day - mostly sunny, albeit a little on the chilly side. In all, we visited four wineries across the region and enjoyed some very tasty food & Icewine pairings, as well as tasted a few other wines at the tasting bar.

We began the day at Hernder Estate Wines for their award-winning 2013 Cabernet Franc Icewine paired with a generous bag of salted caramel chocolate brittle. The pairing was delicious and really showed how well chocolate can be paired with Icewine. The bright acids in the Icewine helped balance the creamy chocolate, while the salted caramel added interest to the pairing. It was a sweet pairing, but the salt in the brittle and the lively acids in the Icewine together helped keep the pairing from being cloying on the palate. This was very well executed!

For our second stop of the day, we went to Niagara College Teaching Winery for a delectable S'More Fudge Brownie that was filled with marshmallows and paired with their 2013 Niagara College Dean's List Savant Icewine (88 pts, $40 / 200 mL). The fudge brownie square was of generous proportions and very flavourful, with hidden marshmallows offering a nice element of surprise. The Icewine was luscious and sweet, but the fudge brownie was even sweeter and actually overpowered the wine, leaving only chocolate and marshmallow flavours in the mouth.

Niagara College Dean's List Savant Icewine with Fudge Brownie SquareInniskillin Vidal Sparkling Icewine with Southern Fried Chicken

Our third stop of the day was at Inniskillin Wines to enjoy Southern Fried Chicken on a Vanilla Waffle topped with Cocoa Icewine Hot Sauce and paired with their 2016 Inniskillin Vidal Sparkling Icewine (reviewed below). First off, the Sparkling Icewine was delicious and sweet, but not cloying due to it's effervescence. The fried chicken was served a bit cold, but otherwise tasty, and combined ith the waffle made for a delicious treat. However, it was the Cocoa Icewine Hot Sauce that really brightened up this pairing as it helped balance the Icewine and made the pairing complete. I would love to try this culinary creation at home!

The fourth and final stop of the day was at Peller Estates Winery, where at this time of the year they always seem to do Icewine Marshmallows paired with one their delicious Icewines. This year, Winery Chef and CityLine personality Jason Parsons is pairing his famous Icewine Marshmallows with Cabernet Franc Icewine. Although the Icewine is (always) delicious, this pairing is really about the experience, as you are outside on the patio, overlooking the vineyards amidst the cool air while roasting your own marshmallow over an open fire. This can be a somewhat messy experience, and you might smell like smoke afterwards, but it was a lot of indulgent fun! After the marshmallow & Icewine pairing, we headed inside for a private tasting of a few Peller Estates wines. Tip: Do any wine tastings first, then head outside to roast your marshmallow.

Peller Estates Signature Series Cabernet Franc IcewineIcewine Marshmallows

All in all, I was very satisfied with my first trip of the year to Niagara to celebrate Icewine Fest. Tasting notes of some of my favourite wines tasted on this day are posted below. The stop that was the overwhelming favourite was our visit to Hernder Estate Wines, where we sampled a variety of quality wines that were also very good value, including the Hernder Caluroso fortified wine that everyone brought home with them.

I also visited Niagara on the , the final weekend of Icewine Fest, and a full review from that day will be posted tomorrow is posted here. This lovely event runs every January and I am looking forward to attending again in 2019.

Tasting Notes:

HERNDER CABERNET FRANC ICEWINE 2013 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (S) - $50.05
The medium-high intensity nose offers typical strawberry and rhubarb in a honeyed profile, followed by a touch interesting orange marmalade aromas. The pleasingly sweet aromas continue on the palate, which is a touch hot on the mid-palate. Acids are good, while the finish length is very good. Score: 89 pts

Hernder Cabernet Franc Icewine 2013 (89 pts)Hernder Caluroso (89 pts)

HERNDER CALUROSO - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (S) - $24.95
This fortified wine is highly aromatic on the nose with complex orange, burnt sugar, nutty, and caramel aromas. It's medium-dry (i.e. fairly sweet) on the medium-full bodied palate and very smooth, with a long, velvety smooth and nutty finish. Score: 89 pts

NIAGARA COLLEGE TEACHING WINERY DEAN'S LIST CHARDONNAY 2012 - VQA St. David's Bench, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada (#040659) (XD) - $23.15
This has a medium-high intensity nose of sweet vanillin oak with butter, baked apple and pear aromas. It's medium+ bodied with nice aroma replays and a toasty mid-palate. It has balanced acidity and very good length on the finish. Score: 88+ pts

Niagara College Teaching Winery Dean's List Chardonnay 2012 (88+ pts)Niagara College Teaching Winery Dean's List Meritage 2012 (90+ pts)

NIAGARA COLLEGE TEACHING WINERY DEAN'S LIST MERITAGE 2012 - VQA Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $25.15
This is a blend of 43% Cabernet Franc, 30% Merlot, and 27% Cabernet Sauvignon from the very good 2012 vintage. It has a medium-high intensity nose that is pretty with ripe blackberry, cherry, sweet oak spice, earth, cassis, and a hint of sweet herbs. On the medium-full bodied palate, it has smooth, fine tannins with some structure, while the acids are mouth-watering. Flavours offer curranty, earth, and forest floor notes. The finish length is excellent. Drink over the next 5 years. Score: 90+ pts

INNISKILLIN KLOSE VINEYARD RIESLING 2016 - VQA Niagara River, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada (D) - $24.95
Single vineyard. Medium-high intensity nose has fine mineral, wet stone, Flintstones vitamins, lime citrus, honeyed peach, and herbal aromas. It's off-dry on the palate with light aroma replays, juicy acids, and good length on the finish. Score: 88 pts

Inniskillin Klose Vineyard Riesling 2016 (88 pts)Inniskillin Vidal Sparkling Icewine 2016 (91 pts)

INNISKILLIN VIDAL SPARKLING ICEWINE 2016 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#560367) (S) - (375 mL) - $80
Open, fragrant honeyed, apricot, lemon citrus aromas flow into the palate nicely with fine mousse and lemon tart and peach flavours joining the party. It's sweet, but very good acidity keeps things fresh and balanced. Excellent finish length. Nicely balanced overall. Score: 91 pts

INNISKILLIN VIDAL ICEWINE 2016 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#388306) (S) (375 mL) - $49.95
Medium+ intensity nose featuring apricot, honey and peach aromas. It has a voluptuous mouthfeel with honeyed melon flavours that are very sweet. Gentle acids offer some freshness, while the finish length is medium-long. Score: 89 pts

PELLER ESTATES SIGNATURE SERIES RIESLING ICEWINE 2015 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (S) (375 mL) - $82.95
The medium-high intensity aromas offer ripe pineapple, lemon citrus, orange rind, and apricot notes. It's medium-full bodied with bright acids lifting the palate and very nice aroma replays. Excellent finish length. Score: 90 pts

Peller Estates Signature Series Riesling Icewine 2015 (90 pts)Peller Estates Signatures Series Vidal Icewine 2016 (89 pts)

PELLER ESTATES SIGNATURES SERIES VIDAL ICEWINE 2016 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (S) (200 mL) - $41.95
Medium-high intensity aromas featuring peach, honey, apricot and lemon citrus. It's full-bodied with balanced acids and a concentrated, voluptuous mouthfeel. Nice aromas replays, and very good length on the finish. Score: 89 pts


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  • Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Rancourt Gewürztraminer Icewine 2013 (Niagara) - Wine Review

At my wife's request, I opened up this delicious Icewine after dinner to cap off the weekend. I tasted this yummy Icewine numerous times over the years, including in and . This bottle was purchased when I visited the winery in and noticed that it was on promotion for the hard-to-resist price of $25 for the 200 mL bottle.

It's rare to find Icewine made with Gewürztraminer, and this is definitely one of the better ones out there. Surprisingly, the Rancourt Gewürztraminer Icewine is still available for purchase through the winery.

Rancourt Gewürztraminer Icewine 2013 (90 pts)

Tasting Note:

RANCOURT GEWÜRZTRAMINER ICEWINE 2013 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (S) (200 mL) - $30
Honeyed orange marmalade aromas with hints of spice from the cork. Complex aromas of peach, apricot, orange marmalade, honey and hints of hazelnut and oak spice waft from the glass. The palate is medium-to-full bodied with a viscous, silky mouthfeel and lusciously sweet flavours of peach preserves, honey, candied citrus, orange marmalade and caramel. Gentle acids provide lift and balance. Excellent finish length with hints of caramel and brown sugar. Starting to show some maturity, but should drink well for at least another 5+ years. Score: 90 pts


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  • Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Legends Estates Vidal Icewine 2006 (Ontario) - Wine Review

wine was opened upon the insistence of my wife, as she wanted to enjoy some Icewine in celebration of the holidays.

This Icewine was purchased at the winery in earlier this year when we visited Niagara to partake in Icewine Festivities. It's rare to see older vintages still available for purchase, so I was surprised when we were offered a tasting of this delicious Icewine back in January. If you're interested in getting your hands on this, I can see that this vintage is still available for purchase at Legends Estates Winery.

Legends Estates Vidal Icewine 2006 (90+ pts)

Tasting Note:

LEGENDS ESTATES VIDAL ICEWINE 2006 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (S) (375 mL) - $49.90
Lovely peach, orange, brown sugar and caramel aromas from the cork. The fragrant nose in the glass offers candied apricot off the top followed by mature nutty, brown sugar and caramel aromas. The medium+ bodied palate is creamy and fairly thick with a viscous mouthfeel and very sweet flavours of apricot and peach followed by some maturing brown sugar and caramel notes. Slightly tart acids are juicy and provide balance. Finishes long with nutty caramel and toffee flavours. Delicious! Enjoy over the next 3-5 years. Score: 90+ pts


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  • Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Taste of Greece - Top Greek Wines, May 2016

On , I was very pleased to attend the Taste of Greece grand wine tasting held at the Royal Ontario Museum, where nearly 50 of Greece's most popular wineries poured well over 200 wines. I had the pleasure of tasting many delicious wines at this tasting, and many offered very good QPR (Quality-to-Price Ratio).


I attended the media session just after lunch, and the place was quite busy. However, since I was still working my around the room, I ended up staying for the consumer portion of the tasting that began at 2 p.m. As people filed in, the atmosphere in the room went up a few notches with a live band performing traditional Greek music. The light appetizer service prepared by Daniel et Daniel also livened the place up, in addition to the many delightful Greek wines.

Braised Lamb Shank with Roasted Tomato, Spinach, and Feta OrzoCrab Claw with Jumbo Shrimp

Overall, I was quite impressed with the Greek wines (not unexpected, I've been a fan for many years), but was surprised by the sheer number of quality wines produced by the Greeks, one of the oldest wine regions in the world. It's too bad we don't see more Greek wines coming through the LCBO (including VINTAGES) as there are a lot of good value wines that I believe LCBO customers would enjoy.

The names of many of the local Greek grape varietals may be difficult to pronounce, but it's what's inside the bottle that counts. My favourites Greek varietals are still Xinomavro [Ksee-no'-ma-vro], Assyrtiko [A-seer'-tee-ko], and Agioritiko [Ah-yor-yee'-ti-ko]. However, one grape I discovered at this tasting is a very floral, aromatic white wine grape called Savatiano [Sa-va-tya-no'].

A step in the right direction is headed by the LCBO with their "Products of the World" specialty boutique program within existing LCBO locations where customers can find many wines and spirits from a specific region. In May 2015, "Destination Greece" was the first of such boutiques to launch and is located at 200 Danforth Avenue. At this location, you can find nearly 100 Greek wines and spirits, more than anywhere else in Ontario. Quite a few of the wines tasted at Taste of Greece are available at the LCBO location on Danforth.

Destination Greece at LCBODestination Greece at LCBO

Here are some of my favourites from the Greek tasting, many which of you should be able to find at the LCBO outlet on Danforth. Alternatively, you can also contact the Agent for if you're interested in purchasing a case or more.

Ahead of the big event on Sunday, I was invited to a private tasting of Greek wines at the Vintage Conservatory on night and had the pleasure of meeting some of the men (and women) behind some very fine Greek wines. Among those in attendance was Dr. Yannis Voyiatzis, Oenologist, Head of Oenology and Viticulture Department and the winemaker behind the Boutari 1879 Legacy wine. In talking about this wine, Dr. Voyiatzis mentioned that the estate has wines from the 60's and 70's vintage and are still drinking well.

Photo Credit: Zis Parras, Kolonaki Group

Sunday Tasting Notes:

PAPAGIANNAKOS SAVATIANO OLD VINES 2015 - PGI Markopoulo, Greece (XD) - $15.60
From 60-year-old vines of the indigenous varietal Savatiano, this has explosive aromas in the glass that are very floral in nature, with hints of pear, anise, lees, and ripe fruits. It's light-to-mid weighted with citrus and floral flavours with a streak of mineral. It's very fresh and finishes off with a long, citrusy note. Contact Majestic Wine Cellars for availability. Score: 90 pts

Papagiannakos Savatiano Old Vines 2015 - PGI Markopoulo, Greece (90 pts)Alpha Estate Red 2012 - PGI Florina, Greece (91 pts)

ALPHA ESTATE RED 2012 - PGI Florina, Greece (#092361) (XD) - $32
This Syrah/Xinomavro/Merlot blend (60/20/20), some of which is old vines has a lovely nose of purple fruits, flowers, sweet spices and black pepper. The medium-firm tannins are nicely integrated on the full bodied palate. Nice aroma replays on the flavour profile. It has very good acidity and finishes long. Contact Eurovintage Wines & Spirits for availability. Score: 91 pts

DOMAINE GLINAVOS DRYADES 2007 - PGI Hepirus, Greece (XD) - $22
A blend of 45% Cabernet Sauvignon and 55% Vlachiko/Bekari from 30-year-old vines that has a medium-high intensity nose consisting of floral, blackberry and hints of graphite and iron. Refined with integrated tannins and complex aroma replays, it also has juicy acids and a long, smooth finish. Contact IntraVino for availability. Score: 90 pts

Domaine Glinavos Dryades 2007 - PGI Hepirus, Greece (90 pts)Papaioannou Microclima 2005 - PDO Nemea, Greece (91 pts)

PAPAIOANNOU MICROCLIMA 2005 - PDO Nemea, Greece (XD) - $75
Made with Agiorgitiko, this has a lovely mature nose of flowers, sweet spices and clove. The medium-full bodied offers pleasing aroma replays, with refined tannins and balanced acidity. Excellent length on the finish. Still has quite a few years of life remaining. Contact Kolonaki Group for availability. Score: 91 pts

ARGYROS SANTORINI ASSYRTIKO 2015 - PDO Santorini, Greece (#387365) (XD) - $22.95 From 60-120 year old vines, this is a mineral-driven wine with lime and stone aromas. The medium+ bodied palate offers more mineral and lime flavours joined by some saline notes. Tightly wound with vibrant acids and chalky texture. Long finishing. Let this one sit for a couple of years and enjoy until 2026. Available in VINTAGES. Score: 90 pts

Argyros Santorini Assyrtiko 2015 - PDO Santorini, Greece (90 pts)Argyros Vinsanto 4 Years 2008 - PDO Santorini, Greece (92 pts)

ARGYROS VINSANTO 4 YEARS 2008 - PDO Santorini, Greece (#189778) (S) (500 mL) - $44.95
Matured in barrel for 4 years. Gorgeous, highly aromatic and sweet nose of caramel, peach and honey notes that follow through on the full-bodied, chalky textured palate. It has bright acids to keep things fresh and keep the very sweet wine from being cloying. Well-balanced and finishing long. Blend of Assyrtiko, Aidani and Athiri. Available at Destination Greece LCBO location. Score: 92 pts


Friday Tasting Notes:

BOUTARI 1879 LEGACY 2007 - PDO Naoussa, Greece (#675081) (XD) - $50
This single vineyard wine is 100% Xinomavro and has medium-to-high intensity aromas that are elegant and refined with pleasing notes of cherry, floral, brambly and some barnyard. Very nice aroma replays on the palate with some sweet spice notes emerging with air. It is a full-bodied, powerful wine with a rich structure and dense tannins that can age easily 10-15 years. Excellent length on the finish. Drink or hold. Available via ShopGreekWine.com. Score: 91 pts

Boutari 1879 Legacy 2007 - PDO Naoussa, Greece (91 pts)Cavino Domain Mega Spileo Grand Cave Red 2009 - PGI Achaia, Peloponnese, Greece (90 pts)

CAVINO DOMAIN MEGA SPILEO GRAND CAVE RED 2009 - PGI Achaia, Peloponnese, Greece (XD) - $30
Lovely, complex nose of dried herbs, flowers, black cherry, blackberry and oak vanilla that is medium-to-high intensity. Aroma replays echo on the medium bodied palate. It is well-balanced with very good acidity and the finish length is excellent. With medium-to-firm tannins, this can be enjoyed now or over the next 5-6 years. Blend of 60% Mavrodafne and 40% Mavro Kalavritino. Slated to be in VINTAGES later this year. Score: 90 pts


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  • Friday, April 15, 2016

Domaine Félibre Givré Sweet Ginger Cider (Quebec) - Review

, I enjoyed this mildly sweet cider that was recently released into VINTAGES on .

This dessert wine is produced by Domaine Félibre in the Eastern Townships of Quebec, Canada. It is located in the Hauts-Cantons region in West-Barnston (between Stanstead and Coaticook) at an altitude of 425 metres and has an exceptional view that extends from Mount Orford to the edges of the Appalachian Mountains. Ciders, liqueurs, and wines are made in a traditional manner from fruit cultivation through to bottling.

This cider is infused with old ginger roots from China and a bit of honey. Try it while there are plenty of bottles still available on LCBO VINTAGES shelves!

Domaine Félibre Givré Sweet Ginger Cider - Quebec, Canada

Tasting Note:

DOMAINE FÉLIBRE GIVRÉ SWEET GINGER CIDER - Quebec, Canada (#441949) (S) (375 mL) - $19.95
Cork smells of freshly cut ginger. In the glass, it offers medium intensity aromas of fresh ginger, sweet spice, candied lemon and hints of apple and honey with much of same on the flavour profile. It's light-weighed and mildly sweet with ginger and honey tones lingering on the aftertaste. The producer recommends serving this as an apértif, but it could also be served after dinner. Would make a lovely cocktail.


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  • Friday, December 18, 2015

Lakeview Cellars Cabernet Franc Icewine 2013 (Niagara) - Wine Review

Tonight's treat for the holidays is a delicious Icewine from Lakeview Cellars, a brand of Diamond Estates.

Coming from a vintage that can be best described as average and slightly wet, approximately 6,600 tonnes of Icewine and Late Harvest grapes were netted for the 2013 season. It was a large crop that equalled the record tonnage of 2007.

For the holidays, not only would this Icewine be a nice gift for someone that enjoys sweet wine, but it would also be a nice accompaniment with dessert after a nice family dinner. The 200 mL is nearly sold out in LCBO VINTAGES, while the 375 mL is available online and at the winery.

Lakeview Cellars Cabernet Franc Icewine 2013 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (89 pts)

Tasting Note:

LAKEVIEW CELLARS CABERNET FRANC ICEWINE 2013 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#053397) (S) (200 mL / 375 mL) - $29.95 / $65
Yummy strawberry jelly aromas from the cork. The nose is highly aromatic with strawberry jam, wild berry, cranberry and cherry aromas. The sweet, rounded palate is medium-bodied with rich aroma replays, delicately balanced acidity and a lengthy finish. Score: 89 pts


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  • Monday, December 14, 2015

Southbrook Vidal Icewine 2014 (Niagara) - Wine Review

Tonight's end-of-dinner treat is an organic Icewine that will be released in January. If you're heading to the Icewine Festival next month, make sure to stop by Southbrook Vineyards and taste this delicious nectar.

Although there is no special Holiday Gift Package for Icewine, the beverage in and of itself would make a very special gift indeed. Having said that, you can easily bundle up the 2013 Cabernet Franc Icewine and the fully mature 2006 Vidal Icewine that was just released from the library as a lovely duo of wines for that Icewine lover in your life. Both of these Icewines are only available through the winery. Visit their website for details.

Southbrook Vidal Icewine 2014 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (90 pts)

Tasting Note:

SOUTHBROOK VIDAL ICEWINE 2014 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (S) (200 mL) - $34.95
Inviting nose of peach, honey and orange from the cork. Very appealing and highly aromatic nose of apricot preserve, peach, honey with hints of lemon and ginger. It's very sweet on the fullish palate with a somewhat syrupy mouthfeel and pleasing aroma replays. The acids provide vibrancy mid-palate, while the finish length is very good. Drink over the next 7-8 years. Score: 90 pts


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  • Friday, December 11, 2015

Toronto FOOD & WINE Festival 2015 - Review

On , I had the pleasure of attending the Toronto FOOD & WINE Festival (formerly the Delicious Food Show) that was held at Evergreen Brick Works. This 3-day festival began on Friday and showcased familiar (and some unfamiliar) local food vendors, many of which have restaurants in the city. The show also featured many local Ontairo wineries, as well as regional wine booths pouring wines from countries such as New Zealand, Chile, Spain, Portugal, and South Africa.

The show had a high-tech feel to it with wristbands and hard plastic cards digitally storing your sampling tickets - quite different from what I'm normally used to. You would load up your wristband/card with sampling tickets ($1 per sampling ticket) upon entering the show and vendors would use their device to tap your wristband/card to deduct the appropriate amount of sampling tickets. Most food & wine samples ranged from 1-5 tickets, and if you ran out of sampling tickets, you could always add more at the point of entry.

The Dirty Bird Chicken + Waffles Mini ODB
I arrived early in the afternoon, but just missed the tutored wine tasting hosted by Adamo Estate Winery, a new winery based in Hockley Valley. Thus, I headed off to the Grand Pavilion where all the food and wine was being served. Since I had just eaten lunch, I wasn't too keen on trying many foods, but as soon as I got my wine glass and headed inside, I noticed a mouth-watering piece of fried chicken resting on a waffle. It was nicely displayed at The Dirty Bird Chicken + Waffles booth. I was in complete awe as I stared at the fried piece of boneless chicken on a thick, Belgian-style waffle covered with sauce. I knew I wanted to try it and I was very happy I did. It was absolutely delicious! Further conversations with staff at the booth determined that I enjoyed a Mini ODB - a Boneless #NorthernFried 5 oz. Chicken on a Golden Buttered Maple Waffle that was topped with their Tangy In-House "Dirty" Sauce. I am marking this Kensington Market restaurant on my list of places to visit in the near future.

After enjoying the chicken + waffle, I needed something to quench my thirst. Looking at the many booths featuring wine, I quickly realized that the wines being poured were the consumer-friendly type and cautioned me to temper my expectations. Having said that, I did find a few gems that you should discover as well. Full wine reviews and tasting notes of some of the wines I enjoyed are provided below.

Pizzeria Libretto
My second delicious food stop was at Pizzeria Libretto for a spicy (by request) Montanara Deep-Fried Marinara Pizza topped with Mozzarella and Basil. This delicious "pizza" was melt-in-your-mouth light and fluffy, and really tasty. I haven't been to Libretto in a while, but hope they've added this item as an appetizer because it would make a very nice addition to their menu; I could totally foresee a wide range of offerings for this style of "pizza", including dessert options. Pizzeria Libretto did not offer wine with their pairing at the show, but at their restaurants they offer a wide range of wines (mostly from Italy), nearly all of which are available by the glass - something I've loved about this place ever since my first visit many years ago.

There were quite a few opportunities to sample some cheese as well. Free samples of the Upper Canada Niagara Gold - a semi-firm cheese made from cow's milk - were available, and tasted just as good as the first time I tried it. Also at the same cheese booth was a yummy appetizer consisting of dark berry compote and cheese that was deep fried.

Magnum Mini Double Caramel
The final treat of the day came courtesy of Magnum - where I had the opportunity to try one of their delectable mini ice cream bars. Options included Double Caramel, Double Chocolate, and the Classic. I opted for the lusciously sweet Double Caramel that had rich chocolate and caramel flavours complemented by vanilla ice cream. It was quite filling! They even gave me a gift card to redeem for a full box - awesomeness!

Overall, I really enjoyed the Toronto FOOD & WINE Festival. This is a show meant for foodies first and foremost, while also providing many complementary beverage options to wash it all down. I hope to attend this event next year on an empty stomach so I can enjoy many more of the food offerings as there were many that looked very appetizing.

Tasting Notes:

ADAMO WISMER FOXCROFT VINEYARD RIESLING 2014 - VQA Twenty Mile Bench, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (MD) - $19.95
Medium intensity nose of citrus and peach aromas. Fleshy, medium-bodied palate with orange and tropical fruit flavours. Medium-dry sweet (i.e. a little more sweeter than off-dry). Medium length finish. Score: 88 pts

Adamo Wismer Foxcroft Vineyard Riesling 2014 - VQA Twenty Mile Bench, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (88 pts)Adamo Lowrey Vineyard Pinot Noir 2013 - VQA St. David's Bench, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (91 pts)

ADAMO LOWREY VINEYARD PINOT NOIR 2013 - VQA St. David's Bench, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $33
Inviting earthy, beetroot, cherry and strawberry nose which echoes very nicely on the palate. It has soft, rounded tannins and gentle spice notes mid-palate, balanced acidity and excellent length on the finish. Well-balanced red wine. Score: 91 pts

MUSKOKA LAKES WINERY RED MAPLE CRANBERRY MAPLE 2012 - Product of Canada (#050039) (S) (375 mL) - $24.95
Inviting cranberry-maple, brown sugar liqueur aromas from the glass make you keep coming back for more. It's medium+ bodied with very sweet aroma replays. Finishes long. In VINTAGES on October 31. Score: 90 pts

Muskoka Lakes Winery Red Maple Cranberry Maple 2012 (90 pts)Stoneleigh Latitude Sauvignon Blanc 2014 - Marlborough, South Island, New Zealand (89 pts)

STONELEIGH LATITUDE SAUVIGNON BLANC 2014 - Marlborough, South Island, New Zealand (#324228) (XD) - $21.95
Medium-to-high intensity nose with grassy, cat pee, gooseberry and kiwi aromas that echo very nicely on the balanced palate. Good fruit concentration, very good acidity and finishes long. Returned to VINTAGES on October 31. Score: 89 pts

BRANCOTT ESTATE LETTER SERIES B SAUVIGNON BLANC 2014 - Marlborough, South Island, New Zealand (#278689) (XD) - $19.95
Interesting smoky, herbally and kiwi aromas that replay on the medium-bodied palate. It has balanced acidity, some mineral notes mid-palate and finishes crisp with medium-to-long length. Score: 88 pts

CARMEN GRAN RESERVA CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2011 - Maipo Alto Vineyard, Maipo Valley, Chile (#358309) (D) - $16.45
Medium+ intensity nose featuring blackberry, cassis, dark cherry, sweet spice and a hint of lead. The palate is medium-bodied with soft, dusty tannins, pleasing aroma replays with a hint of sweetness. Also hints of green pepper on the medium length finish. Score: 88 pts

QUINTA DOS MURÇAS RESERVA 2010 - DOC Douro, Portugal (#427229) (XD) - $40
Medium intensity nose consisting of ripe red & black fruits. On the palate, it's medium+ bodied with toasty oak spice and more red & black fruits. Simple, dry red wine with very good acidity and lengthy finish. Score: 88 pts

Quinta Dos Murças Reserva 2010 - DOC Douro, Portugal (88 pts)

COSME PALACIO RESERVA 2009 - DOCa Rioja, Spain (#014662) (XD) - $22.95
Exotic medium+ intensity nose of earth, spice, black and blue fruits that follows through on the medium bodied, subtle oak-spiced palate. Good balance overall with balanced acidity and a medium+ length finish. Score: 89 pts

ROSEHALL RUN THE RIGHTEOUS DUDE RIESLING 2014 - VQA Twenty Mile Bench, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#426486) (M) - $19.95
Elegant citrus, orange, melon and Flintstones vitamin aromas which replay nicely on the balanced, medium-dry palate. It's medium-bodied with crisp acidity and a lingering, minerally finish. Well done! Score: 88 pts

Rosehall Run The Righteous Dude Riesling 2014 - VQA Twenty Mile Bench, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (88 pts)Between The Lines Lemberger Reserve 2013 - VQA Four Mile Creek, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (89 pts)

BETWEEN THE LINES LEMBERGER RESERVE 2013 - VQA Four Mile Creek, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $30
Medium-to-high intensity aromas of raspberry, red currant, a hint of lavender and some minerality. Gentle tannins on a medium-bodied frame with currant, lavender and some bitterness on the palate. It has good acidity and a medium-to-long finish. Score: 89 pts


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