Showing posts with label greece. Show all posts
Showing posts with label greece. Show all posts

Monday, August 13, 2018

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  • Monday, August 13, 2018

Wine Picks LCBO VINTAGES Release August 18, 2018: Australia + Europe Less Travelled



LCBO Wine Picks: August 18, 2018 VINTAGES Release
The upcoming LCBO VINTAGES Release features wines from Australia as its main theme, while the mini-theme is titled "Europe less travelled". The underlying message is really a chance for you to explore what's new in Australia, as well as the wines from Europe's lesser-known wine regions. There are also a couple of other relatively obscure wines from the New World. All of these wines will be on LCBO VINTAGES shelves across Ontario this .

We'll begin with the main theme that features fifteen wines, five of which are included among my top wine picks. The island of Tasmania has been making wine for many years, but only recently has it been gaining notoriety (some of it due to climate change) for wines such as the Jansz Sparkling Rosé that is a blend of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Australians are also innovating with wines such as rosé made with Sangiovese, a blend of 81% Syrah and 19% Gamay Noir, and an interesting Pinot Noir from Yarra Valley. And if you've never tried Hunter Valley Semillon, this release has a good one that should age for at least half a decade. Lastly, there is a wild fermented Savagnin that is a Flagship Exclusive (FE).

The mini-theme features a total of ten wines from six off-the-beaten-path European winemaking countries - Austria, Georgia, Lebanon, Greece, Hungary, and Romania. Personally, I wouldn't include Greece as part of this list, but that is a discussion for another day. Four of the wines are included among my wine recommendations. There is a Grüner Veltliner from Austria and a nice dessert wine from Hungary that is a blend of 70% Furmint and 30% Harslevelu. Both Greek wines featured are also among my recommended buys - a nicely floral Moschofilero and a 2010 red made with Agiorgitiko.

Cavino Nemea Grande Reserve 2010 (89 pts)Lakeview Cellars Morgan Vineyard Kerner 2017 (87 pts)

A pair of wines off-the-beaten-path from the New World include a Tannat from Uruguay, and for sweet wine lovers there is an off-dry Kerner from Niagara.

La Ferme du Mont Première Côte Côtes du Rhône 2016 (88 pts)Villacreces Pruno 2016 (89 pts)

Among my top red wine picks, the Côte du Rhône from France is a blend of 60% Grenache, 30% Syrah, and 10% Mourvèdre, while the Ribera del Duero from Spain is a blend of 90% Tempranillo and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon.

Enjoy my wine recommendations from this Release! Cheers!

Red Wine:

  • CAVINO NEMEA GRANDE RESERVE 2010 - PDO Nemea, Greece (#295618) (XD) - $17.95  89 pts  wine review
  • LA FERME DU MONT PREMIÈRE CÔTE CÔTES DU RHÔNE 2016 - AP, France (#251645) (XD) - $18.95  88 pts  wine review
  • GARZON RESERVA TANNAT 2015 - Uruguay (#558916) (D) - $19.95
  • CHAKANA ESTATE SELECTION CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2015 - Gualtallary, Tupungato, Uco Valley, Mendoza, Argentina (#555540) (XD) - $19.95
  • DE BORTOLI G.S. PINOT NOIR 2017 - Yarra Valley, Victoria, Australia (#015511) (XD) - $19.95
  • VILLACRECES PRUNO 2016 - DO Ribera del Duero, Spain (#312140) (XD) - $22.95  89 pts  wine review
  • LA BOHÈME ACT FOUR SYRAH/GAMAY 2017 - Yarra Valley, Victoria, Australia (#571141) (XD) - $24.95
  • KEINT-HE PORTAGE PINOT NOIR 2014 - VQA Prince Edward County, Ontario, Canada (#373415) (XD) - $25.00  89 pts  wine review
  • STEPHEN ROSS SANTA LUCIA HIGHLANDS PINOT NOIR 2015 - Santa Lucia Highlands, Monterey County, California, USA (#568246) (XD) - $42.95
  • VERSADO RESERVA ANCIENT MALBEC 2013 - Mendoza, Argentina (#316984) (XD) - $59.95
Keint-He Portage Pinot Noir 2014 (89 pts)

White Wine:

  • ZACHARIAS MOSCHOFILERO 2016 - PGI Peloponnese, Greece (#548222) (XD) - $14.95
  • ESTERHÁZY GALÁNTHA GRÜNER VELTLINER 2017 - Qualitätswein, Burgenland, Austria (#568501) (XD) - $16.95
  • LAKEVIEW CELLARS MORGAN VINEYARD KERNER 2017 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#443614) (D) - $17.95  87 pts  wine review
  • ORGANIZED CRIME CHARDONNAY 2016 - VQA Beamsville Bench, Niagara Escarpment, Ontario, Canada (#408435) (XD) - $18.95
  • VILLA SPARINA GAVI DI GAVI 2016 - DOCG, Piedmont, Italy (#541854) (XD) - $19.95
  • PACO & LOLA ALBARIÑO 2017 - DO Rías Baixas, Spain (#350041) (XD) - $19.95
  • RUSTENBERG CHARDONNAY 2016 - WO Stellenbosch, South Africa (#598631) (XD) - $19.95
  • BROKENWOOD SEMILLON 2016 - Hunter Valley, New South Wales, Australia (#657726) (XD) - $22.95
  • HENRI DE VILLAMONT PRESTIGE BOURGOGNE CHARDONNAY 2015 - AC, Burgundy, France (#416123) (XD) - $24.95  89 pts  wine review
  • SOUMAH WILD SAVAGNIN 2015 - Hexham Vineyard, Yarra Valley, Victoria, Australia (#572743) (XD) - $31.95  FE
  • RADFORD DALE RENAISSANCE CHENIN BLANC 2016 - WO Stellenbosch, South Africa (#320853) (XD) - $39.95  FE
Henri de Villamont Prestige Bourgogne Chardonnay 2015 (89 pts)

Rosé Wine:

  • THE FLOOZIE SANGIOVESE ROSÉ 2017 - McLaren Vale, South Australia (#558106) (XD) - $19.95

Sparkling Wine:

  • JANSZ PREMIUM SPARKLING ROSÉ - Tasmania, Australia (#037499) (D) - $27.95
  • CHÂTEAU DE BLIGNY BRUT BLANC DE BLANCS CHAMPAGNE - AC, France (#385112) (D) - $54.95

Dessert Wine:

  • CHÂTEAU DERESZLA 5 PUTTONYOS TOKAJI ASZÚ 2009 - Tokaj, Hungary (#012203) (S) (500 mL) - $46.95


Tuesday, May 16, 2017

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  • Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Gourmet Food & Wine Expo 2016 - Review

Gourmet Food & Wine Expo 2016
On the evening of , I attended the VIP Preview Night of the 22nd Annual Gourmet Food & Wine Expo that was held, as per the usual, in the north building of the Metro Toronto Convention Centre in downtown Toronto.

As usual, the event was busy as the crowds poured in soon after 6 p.m. and stayed busy over the course of the evening, until the lights began flashing near the end, signalling that the night event was about to end soon at 10 p.m.

For me, this tasting is all about the wine, however, there seemed to be fewer wine-focused booths compared to previous years - hopefully this doesn't develop into a trend. Meanwhile, spirits-focused booths seemed to be at the same number compared to prior years (which is not that many), and the number of food-centric booths seemed to be more than prior years, including some new names to the show. Having more food options was definitely a pleasant surprise as, for once, I wasn't left scrambling trying to find something to eat towards the end of the show.

Some of the booths I visited included the agency booths of United Stars Corporation, where they were pouring wines from Georgia, and MCO - Interesting Wines & Spirits, where they offered pours of fine French wines. No trip to Gourmet Food & Wine Expo would be complete without a stop at the Kolonaki Group booth to sample some lovely Greek wines and the top-notch Armand de Brignac Ace of Spades Gold Brut Champagne. My favourite booth every year is Wines of Germany for the some very fine sweet Riesling. This time, because it wasn't crazy busy, I also managed to taste at the Wines from Spain booth and tried the very nice PX (Pedro Ximenez) lusciously sweet Sherry.

Wines of Germany

Kolonaki Group

On the local scene, Prince Edward County had a lengthy booth featuring wines from a few different wineries, including Trail Estates Winery and Closson Chase Winery. Although I didn't taste anything from Niagara wineries this time around, Hidden Bench Vineyard and Winery and Two Sisters Vineyards were among the notables that I know have quality wines.

All in all, I was quite pleased with the event. And even though the number of wine-focused booths was less than previous years, the event did compensate by having more food options that were to my liking. Many of the wines I tasted were also very good quality, with wine reviews of some of my favourites provided below. You should be able to find most of these wines at the LCBO in the General List section or in VINTAGES.

Tasting Notes:

KONCHO MUKUZANI 2013 - Kakheti, Georgia (#460501) (XD) - $13.95
Made with the indegenous Saperavi grape, this has a medium intensity nose with currant, cedar oak, red & black fruits and some spice aromas and flavours. It's medium-bodied and dry with good acids. Tannins have some structure and are a touch drying. Medium-long finish. Score: 87 pts

Koncho Mukuzani 2013 (87 pts)Domaine Courbis Saint-Joseph 2013 (91 pts)

DOMAINE COURBIS SAINT-JOSEPH 2013 - AC, Rhône, France (#007914) (XD) - $30.95
100% Syrah. Highly aromatic and very appealing nose of black current, blackberry, red & black fruits, pepper, and hints of floral and oak. It's full-bodied with soft, velvety smooth tannins and very nice aroma replays. Very good acidity. Balanced, long finish. Superb. Score: 91 pts

SKOURAS MOSCHOFILERO 2015 - PGI Peloponnese, Greece (#442178) (XD) - $15.95
Medium-high intensity aromas of nice spring flower, mineral, tropical fruit and orange that continue on palate. Acids are clean and bright, offering a juicy mouthfeel. Medium-long finish. A wine for Spring. Score: 88 pts

Skouras Moschofilero 2015 (88 pts)Kir-Yianni Estate White 2015 (88+ pts)

KIR-YIANNI ESTATE WHITE 2015 - Samaropetra Vineyard, PGI Florina, Greece (#464511) - $17.95
A 50/50 blend of Roditis and Sauvignon Blanc, this has clean medium-high aromatics of kiwi, asparagus, grass, tropical fruit, and spring flowers. Acids are bright on the medium+ bodied palate with nice, ripe-fruited aroma replays and touches of mineral from the Roditis. Finish length is very good. Score: 88+ pts

ARMAND DE BRIGNAC ACE OF SPADES GOLD BRUT CHAMPAGNE - AC, France (#220244) (XD) - $299.95
A blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier, offering medium-high aromatics that has bready, nutty, walnut, and some lime citrus aromas. Mostly comes off as dry on the fruity palate which is smooth and refined with fine bubbles. Vibrant acids are refreshing with a minerally character. Excellent finish length. Will have wide appeal at just about any table. Score: 91 pts

Armand de Brignac Ace of Spades Gold Brut Champagne (91 pts)

TRAIL ESTATE SKIN CONTACT SERIES LAKEVIEW VINEYARD RIESLING 2015 - Twenty Mile Bench, Niagara Escarpment, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $30
Fermented with 21-day skin contact - much longer than most modern white wines. Highly aromatic nose of golden apple and pear. The palate is bone dry with a chalky mineral texture, nice aroma replays, and crisp acids. Very good length on the finish. Winery only. Score: 91 pts

Trail Estate Skin Contact Series Lakeview Vineyard Riesling 2015 (91 pts)Trail Estate Barrel-Ferment Chardonnay 2015 (90 pts)

TRAIL ESTATE BARREL-FERMENT CHARDONNAY 2015 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $32
Bottled one week prior, the nose is highly aromatic, offering heavily-oaked aromas of toasty oak, smoke, popcorn, apple and butter aromas. It's medium-full bodied with a creamy mouthfeel and flavours that are less oak-influenced and more fruity - stone fruit, apple and butter flavours. Balanced acids. Finish length is excellent! Winery only. Score: 90 pts

PAUL ANHEUSER SCHLOSSBÖCKELHEIMER KÖNIGSFELS RIESLING KABINETT 2015 - Nahe, Germany (#161828) (MS) - $17.95
Medium+ aromas, very mineral-driven with stone fruits and citrus adding complexity. Crunchy mouthfeel, brimming with high acids that cuts into the perceived sweetness. More mineral and stone-citrus fruits on the palate, while finishing with grapefruit flavours. Score: 88+ pts

Paul Anheuser Schlossböckelheimer Königsfels Riesling Kabinett 2015 (88+ pts)Markus Molitor Ürziger Würzgarten Riesling Spätlese 2013 (91 pts)

MARKUS MOLITOR ÜRZIGER WÜRZGARTEN RIESLING SPÄTLESE 2013 - Mosel, Germany (#139005) (MS) - $36.75
Highly aromatic nose offers complex mineral, earth, matchstick/smoke, and citrus aromas. It's medium+ bodied on the palate with a fleshy mouthfeel. Semi-sweet on the palate with lovely stone fruit and pink grapefruit flavours that are nicely balanced by vibrant acids. Excellent finish length. Score: 91 pts

CLEMENS BUSCH MARIENBURG GROSSES GEWÄCHS ROTHENPFAD RIESLING 2014 - Mosel, Germany (XD)
Stony mineral, limestone, and hints of lemon pith aromas of great intensity from the glass. Dry on the palate with more lemon pith. stony earth and limestone. Composed and well-balanced through and through. It has balanced acids and a long, elegant, juicy finish. Score: 91+ pts

Clemens Busch Marienburg Grosses Gewächs Rothenpfad Riesling 2014 (91+ pts)Selbach Oster Zeltinger Schlossberg Riesling Auslese * 2012 (92 pts)

SELBACH OSTER ZELTINGER SCHLOSSBERG RIESLING AUSLESE * 2012 - Mosel, Germany (S)
Medium-high aromatics with lovely orange and mineral notes. The palate is very sweet with highly appealing aroma replays which are balanced by bright acids. The finish goes on and on. Well-balanced, this will age for many years and will go great at the dinner table. Score: 92 pts

OSBORNE PEDRO XIMENEZ 1827 - DOP, Spain (#047944) (S) - $17.95
This Sherry has a highly aromatic nose of caramel, walnut, fig, molasses and more nutty notes. It's very sweet on the full bodied palate with many of the aromas coming through on the lush, thick, and smooth palate. Finish length is very long. Serve with a slight chill. Score: 91 pts

Osborne Pedro Ximenez 1827 (91 pts)


Wednesday, March 22, 2017

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  • Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Boutari Wine Tasting and Dinner at ONE Restaurant

Boutari Wine Tasting & Dinner at ONE Restaurant
In mid-October, I was invited to a very special and exclusive tasting of the fine wines from the Boutari portfolio. These Greek wines were paired with gourmet fare at Mark McEwan's ONE Restaurant in Yorkville, downtown Toronto.

The guest speaker for the evening was Dr. Yannis Voyatzis, CEO & General Manager at Boutari, and one of the leading Oenologists in Greece. He was joined by Christina Boutari, a 5th generation member of the Boutari family who kicked off the evening with an overview and some history about the winery.

The Boutari Company was established in 1879 by Ioannis Boutaris and currently owns many wineries and vineyards throughout Greece (and Europe). The 6 wineries owned by the company in Greece are situated in the country's most important winemaking regions - the AOCs of Naoussa, Goumenissa, Crete, Santorini, Mantinia, and Attica.

Heirloom Carrot Salad paired with MoschofileroChristina Boutari and Dr. Yannis Voyatzis

Dr. Voyatzis took us through all 8 wines over the course of the evening as they were paired with the 4-course meal that was crafted specially for this intimate event. The first course was an Heirloom Carrot Salad with pomegranate yoghurt, avocado, orange, pistachios, raisin chutney and cilantro vinaigrette which was paired with a pair of white wines. Both wines were made with 100% Moschofilero - a rose/grey coloured grape that is larger than Gewürztraminer. Most fascinating was the fact that each wine was made in a completely different style, but each paired quite well with the salad. The Moschofilero is quite versatile in that it can be served as a sipper or with lighter fare such as salads, while the Oropedio is more of a food wine and really accentuated the citrus flavours in the salad. Full tasting notes of these and other wines tasted on this night are provided below.

The second course was specially crafted for me because I don't eat octopus. Instead, I enjoyed a pair of falafels on a bed of risotto and topped with greens and a side of green mint chutney. It was paired with two wines that were quite different from each other - the light, ripe-fruited Agioritiko and the big, full-bodied Skalani that offered more floral notes. In this case, the Agioritiko was the better pairing with the falafel as it wasn't too heavy and offered freshness to balance out the chickpea-based falafel. For me, the Skalani is a wine I would have on its own or pair it with the main course on this night.

Falafel with Agioritiko and Boutari SkalaniLamb Chops with Xinomavro

Lamb chops with sides of tzatziki, herb roasted potatoes, and a Santorini salad that was topped with a lemon garlic vinaigrette. Food-wise, this was my highlight of the night! Lamb with a big, Greek red wine is a match made in heaven. What made this course even more special were the wines we paired the lamb with - the 2010 Grande Reserve Xinomavro which has been a favourite of mine a few years now, the 1879 Legacy 2007 which is an excellent wine, and last but definitely not the least, we had the opportunity to taste a 1992 Grande Reserve Xinomavro. All three wines were fabulous, with the 2010 G.R. Xinomavro and the Legacy pairing better with the lamb as this protein requires tannins for a balanced experienced. Furthermore, the Skalani tasted in the second course also paired really with the lamb. As for the 1992 G.R. Xinomavro, this is a great, mature wine to sip and enjoy on its own as it's not often one gets to taste a wine that's more than 20 years old.

Greek Vinsanto with Baklava and Halva

For dessert, we paired a Vinsanto that had some age on it with traditional Greek desserts baklava and halva made by Serano Bakery. Historical evidence suggests that Vinsanto's place of origin is Santorini, where late-harvested grapes are dried in the sun, otherwise known as the passito style. These fine, rich desserts were very sweet and paired beautifully with a 2008 Vinsanto that was also very sweet, but balanced by good acidity and has many years of enjoyment remaining.

Thank you to Kolonaki Group, Dr. Yiannis Voyatzis, Christina Boutari, and the staff at ONE Restaurant for your gracious hospitality. It was a very enjoyable and memorable evening!

Wine reviews of each wine tasted on this night are provided below. Unless otherwise noted, all of these wines can be found at the Destination Greece Specialty LCBO store at 200 Danforth Avenue. Moreover, some of these wines can also be found at other regular LCBO outlets - click on the wine's six-digit product code for more info. You can also contact the Agent to Kolonaki Group for more information or shop the Boutari collection online at ShopGreekWine.com.

Tasting Notes:

BOUTARI MOSCHOFILERO 2015 - PDO Mantinia, Greece (#172387) (D) - $13.10
Medium+ intensity aromatics offers fresh lemon, herbs, tropical fruits and floral aromas. The palate is medium-bodied and fleshy with crisp, juicy acids. Herbally and lemon pith flavours. The finish length is very good. Really appreciated this being served at the right temperature. Good for the patio or with salads. Score: 88 pts

Boutari Moschofilero 2015 (88 pts)Boutari Oropedio 2014 (88+ pts)

BOUTARI OROPEDIO 2014 - PDO Mantinia, Greece (XD) - $17.95
100% Moschofilero from oropedio (meaning "high plateau"), at 650 metres, altitude, and partially barrel-fermented, this has a medium-intensity nose featuring herbally, fennel, and mild oak nuances. It's also has some pine aromas, reminding me of a Retsina. The medium-bodied palate is dry and nicely textured, with softened acids due to oak, and pithy flavours. Medium-long finish. The 2016 vintage of this wine arrives on our shores this April. Score: 88+ pts

BOUTARI AGIORGITIKO 2015 - PDO Nemea, Greece (#172148) (XD) - $13.10
Aromas of medium+ intensity and offering ripe red fruits, earthy, cherry, red licorice, plum and some clove - quite complex. The palate is light-to-medium bodied with cherry, cough medicine, subtle oak spice, clove and cinnamon flavours. Lightly tannic with fresh, juicy acids. Medium finish length. Score: 88 pts

Boutari Agiorgitiko 2015 (88 pts)Boutari Skalani 2011 (91 pts)

BOUTARI SKALANI 2011 - PGI Heraklion, Greece (XD) - $29.95
A 50/50 blend of Kotsifali & Syrah, this has medium-high intensity aromas that are meaty and perfumed with purple fruits and sweet oak. It's full-bodied and juicy with blackberry, violet, floral, black plum and sweet oak flavours. It has refined tannins, very good acidity and excellent length on the finish. Drinakable now, but can age another 10 years. This is really fine! Score: 91 pts

BOUTARI GRANDE RESERVE XINOMAVRO 2010 - PDO Naoussa, Greece (#140111) (D) - $18.95
Tasted a few times now, and on this occasion I get lovely medium-high intensity aromas of cherry, clove, sweet floral and oak spice, and hints of olive and black pepper. Olive notes become more prominent with air. Medium-full bodied with still bright acids, nice black cherry, floral, some savoury notes, and hints of dried floral & fruit. Very good finish length. Approachable now, but can age another 3-5 years. Maturing well. Score: 90+ pts

Boutari Grande Reserve Xinomavro 2010 (90+ pts)Boutari 1879 Legacy 2007 (92 pts)

BOUTARI 1879 LEGACY 2007 - PDO Naoussa, Greece (#675081) (XD) - $49.60
First tasted in May, and delighted to be tasting again. This single vineyard Xinomavro has medium-high aromatics of great complexity - floral, cherry, clove, black berry, black pepper, black olive and oak and should open up further with decanting. The palate is full-bodied and complex led by an appealing floral note. There's good concentration of fruit balanced by mouth-watering acids. Finish length is excellent. A big wine that is drinking well now, but will age for decades. Score: 92 pts

BOUTARI GRANDE RESERVE XINOMAVRO 1992 - PDO Naoussa, Greece (XD) - $100
The treat of the night. This offers a medium-high intensity nose, very mature in profile with rose, cherry, dried fruit, umami, and just a touch of raisin/prune aromas. It's medium+ bodied with nice cherry-driven aroma replays. Still has very good acidity. Tannins are resolved, very smooth, velvety mouthfeel. Long finishing. Drink soon. Availability of this wonderful wine in Ontario is TBD. Score: 92 pts

Boutari Grande Reserve Xinomavro 1992 (92 pts)Boutari Vinsanto 2008 (92 pts)

BOUTARI VINSANTO 2008 - PDO Santorini, Greece (S) (500 mL) - $32
Made with sun-dried grapes consisting of 90% Assyrtiko and the rest mainly Aidani. This has an inviting nose of burnt caramel, sugar, and dried apricots of medium-high intensity. The palate is medium-full bodied with a grainy texture due to the wine being unfiltered. Very sweet flavours of dried apricot, honey, citrus, all-spice, Christmas cake are balanced by very good acidity. Long finish. Currently not available in Ontario. Score: 92 pts


Friday, August 5, 2016

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  • Friday, August 5, 2016

Alpha Estate Turtles Vineyard Syrah 2011 (Greece) - Wine Review

wine is a lovely Syrah from Greece that's arriving in LCBO VINTAGES on (and may already be on shelves at your local store today).

Founded in 1997, Alpha Estate is a relatively young Greek winery located in a region that has a history of winemaking that goes back more than 4000 years. The winery is located in the Amyndeon region, in northwest Greece, and uses natural gravity flow throughout it's winemaking process to ensure minimum stress on the grapes and wine. The state-of-the-art facility uses highly inactive and neutral construction materials to create a neutral atmosphere for the grape, must and wine. Furthermore, the completely integrated building management system can be controlled in the winery or from anywhere around the globe. This is a facility I hope to visit one day!

The privately-owned vineyard is located at an altitude of 620-710 metres, with a northwest exposure on sandy-clay soils. The grapes for this Syrah come from a single vineyard called "Turtles" on the Amyndeon plateau in northwestern Macedonia, located 640-650 metres above sea level.

I had tasted the delicious 2012 Alpha Estate Red ($32, 91 pts, review here) earlier this year, as well as the 2012 Alpha Estate Axia Red Blend ($17.95, 89 pts, #392282) and the 2012 Alpha Estate Xinomavro (88+ pts). All are sure to please the palate. The Axia Red is available at the LCBO, while the other two wines can be ordered via the agent Eurovintage Wines & Spirits.

Having tasted several other delicious wines from this estate at the Taste of Greece Wine Tasting in the Spring, I was excited to see how this wine would fare in comparison to others from the same winery.

Alpha Estate Turtles Vineyard Syrah 2011 - IGP Florina, Greece (89 pts)

Tasting Note:

ALPHA ESTATE TURTLES VINEYARD SYRAH 2011 - IGP Florina, Greece (#115295) (D) - $21.95
Purple fruit and dark plum aromas from the cork. Pretty colour. Lovely balance between fruit and savoury aromas with a mineral component - blackberry, meaty-gamey, with hints of floral and black pepper. The palate is medium-full bodied with fine-grained tannins and dark fruit flavours of blackberry, black cherry, with black pepper nuances mid-palate. Acids are fresh and juicy. Well-balanced. Long, dark berry, earthy, woody finish. Drinking well now, but should be even better in a year's time. Recommended buy. Score: 89 pts


Tuesday, August 2, 2016

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  • Tuesday, August 2, 2016

VINTAGES Release Aug. 6: Australia + Greece

LCBO Wine Picks from August 6, 2016 VINTAGES Release
The VINTAGES Release on will be on LCBO shelves this coming Saturday and features Australian wines for grilling and chilling as its main thematic. A small selection of Greek wines are featured in the mini-theme.

Just 12 wines are included in the Aussie wines feature, and only 2 are included among my wine picks. The Best's Shiraz will age for at least a decade and is recommended to pair with grilled chicken wings with a spiced barbecue sauce, while the Hill-Smith Chardonnay would go well with a roasted chicken marinated in lavender & provençal herbs.

The Greek mini-theme has only 6 wines listed and, once again, 2 are included in my wine recommendations. Native to Greece, the Moschofilero is a florally aromatic white wine that's dry and crisp. Gaining in popularity in Greek winemaking (and here in Ontario!) is Syrah; it is more often blended with other local varietals, but single-varietal wines such as the one from Alpha Estate are showing very good potential.

Alpha Estate Turtles Vineyard Syrah 2011 - IGP Florina, Greece (89 pts)

In red wines, the Faugères red is a blend of 55% Syrah, 26% Mourvèdre and 19% Grenache, while the Rhône red is a equal parts Grenache and Syrah, along with 20% Carignan. Also from France, the Bordeaux red is approximately 80% Merlot and 20% Cabernet Sauvignon/Cabernet Franc, while the Loire red is 100% Cabernet Franc from 30-year-old vines. Lastly, the wine from Hungary is made with 100% Kekfrankos (a.k.a. Blaufrankisch, Lemberger) from vines more than 40 years old.

Château Rigaud 2012 - AP Faugères, Midi, France (88 pts)Les Vignerons du Castelas Vieilles Vignes Signargues Côtes du Rhône-Villages 2013 - AC, Rhône, France (88+ pts)

Among my white wine picks, Domaine Lafage continues to pump out quality wines at very reasonable prices, such as the Cadireta Blanc which consists of Chardonnay (unusual for this French appellation) and 5% Viognier. Also in this release is a rich Fiano that is a Flagship Store Exclusive (FSE). The South African Chardonnay is made in a reductive, smoky style, while the California Chardonnay is your traditional (for the region) ripe, fruity, heavily oaked Chardonnay.

From the rest of the release, the Gassier rosé is a blend of 40% Grenache, 35% Syrah, 10%
Rolle, 10% Cinsault and 5% Ugni Blanc, while the Bandol rosé is a blend of 40% Mourvèdre, 30% Grenache and 30% Cinsault. And finally, the vintage sparkling wine from South Africa is 100% Chardonnay.

La Cadierenne Cuvée Grande Tradition Bandol Rosé 2015 - AC, Provence, France (89 pts)

Enjoy my wine recommendations from this release! Cheers!

Red Wine:

  • CHÂTEAU RIGAUD 2012 - AP Faugères, Midi, France (#393561) (XD) - $16.95  reviewed here
  • LES VIGNERONS DU CASTELAS VIEILLES VIGNES SIGNARGUES CÔTES DU RHÔNE-VILLAGES 2013 - AC, Rhône, France (#034116) (XD) - $17.95  reviewed here
  • BEST’S BIN NO. 1 SHIRAZ 2013 - Great Western, Victoria, Australia (#222323) (D) - $19.95
  • CHÂTEAU TOUR DE SARRAIL 2010 - AC Bordeaux, France (#448829) (XD) - $19.95
  • KLOOF STREET 2014 - WO Swartland, South Africa (#460964) (XD) - $19.95
  • VIGNOBLE DES ROBINIÈRES L’ALOUETTE BOURGUEIL 2014 - AC, Loire, France (#450494) (XD) - $19.95
  • ALPHA ESTATE TURTLES VINEYARD SYRAH 2011 - IGP Florina, Greece (#115295) (D) - $21.95  reviewed here
  • J. & J. KEKFRANKOS 2011 - Eger, Hungary (#446591) (XD) - $24.95
  • LAZZERETTI BRUNELLO DI MONTALCINO 2008 - DOCG, Tuscany, Italy (#318352) (XD) - $46.95
  • DAMILANO LECINQUEVIGNE BAROLO 2011 - DOCG, Piedmont, Italy (#454488) (XD) - $46.95  FSE
  • HARTLEY OSTINI HITCHING POST QUINTA DEL MAR PINOT NOIR 2012 - San Luis Obispo County, California, USA (#456715) (XD) - $58.95  FSE

White Wine:

  • THELEMA MOUNTAIN VINEYARDS SUTHERLAND CHARDONNAY 2012 - WO Elgin, South Africa (#146423) (XD) - $15.95
  • NALS MARGREID PINOT GRIGIO 2014 - DOC Südtirol/Alto Adige, Italy (#290924) (D) - $16.95
  • FEATHERSTONE BLACK SHEEP RIESLING 2015 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#080234) (M) - $16.95  reviewed here
  • DOMAINE LAFAGE CADIRETA BLANC 2014 - IGP Côtes Catalanes, Midi, France (#448472) (XD) - $16.95
  • TROUPIS MOSCHOFILERO 2015 - PDO Mantinia, Greece (#463422) (XD) - $16.95
  • HILL-SMITH ESTATE CHARDONNAY 2014 - Eden Valley, South Australia (#361584) (XD) - $19.95
  • SANFORD CHARDONNAY 2012 - Santa Rita Hills, Santa Barbara County, California, USA (#956003) (XD) - $30.95
  • COLLI DI LAPIO FIANO DI AVELLINO 2014 - DOCG, Campania, Italy (#455253) (XD) - $30.95  FSE
Featherstone Black Sheep Riesling 2015 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (88 pts)

Rosé Wine:

  • LA CADIERENNE CUVÉE GRANDE TRADITION BANDOL ROSÉ 2015 - AC, Provence, France (#119453) (XD) - $20.95  reviewed here
  • CHÂTEAU GASSIER LE PAS DU MOINE ROSÉ 2015 - AP Côtes de Provence Sainte-Victoire, France (#450874) (XD) - $21.95

Sparkling Wine:

  • CATHEDRAL CELLAR BLANC DE BLANCS SPARKLING WINE 2010 - Méthode Cap Classique, WO Western Cape, South Africa (#462762) (D) - $16.95

Fortified Wine:

  • OFFLEY 10-YEAR-OLD TAWNY PORT - DOP, Portugal (#297788) (S) - $25.95


Wednesday, July 6, 2016

First image of this post
  • 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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