Showing posts with label merlot. Show all posts
Showing posts with label merlot. Show all posts

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  • Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Niagara Wine Festival Review 2016 - Day 1 of 2



The of my 2-day visit to Niagara for the annual Grape & Wine Festival was on . We visited 4 wineries on this day, two in Twenty Valley and two in Niagara-on-the-Lake.

Our first stop was at Magnotta Winery to whet our appetite with a fresh Caprese Salad that was paired with 2 wines - 2015 Magnotta Pinot Noir Equus Rosé ($9.95, 87 pts) and the 2014 Magnotta Pinot Gris Special Reserve ($12.95, 86 pts). The Caprese salad was delicious with it's fresh bonnacini, cherry tomatoes, and basil with a freshly baked foccaccia bread and drizzled with balsamic wine vinegar and olive oil on the side. Since some group members were not keen on this type of salad, the rest of us got extras! The pairing was quite good with each wine as the fresh acidity in the wines complemented the acids in the salad, while also adding a nice texture. In general, salads pair well with both rosé and white wines.

Caprese Salad paired with Magnotta Pinot Noir Rosé and Pinot GrisLegends Terroir Rosé paired with Chocolate Ice Cream with Raspberry Center

The second stop was a decadent dessert item at Legends Estates Winery where we enjoyed a creamy chocolate ice cream with a raspberry ice center, sitting atop a chocolate wafer, and the whole thing covered in a milk chocolate coating. It was paired with the newly released 2015 Legends Estates Terroir Rosé ($12.95, 86 pts). Normally, one wouldn't even think of pairing a rosé wine with ice cream, so I was surprised to see this being offered and was quite intrigued. The ice cream was cold and sweet (as expected), and the raspberry center provided some interesting fruit flavours. Initially, the raspberry center gently pulled out plenty of cherry, strawberry flavours from the wine, but with each spoon and sip, the raspberry center took over the palate. To help balance this, it was the milk chocolate coating that brought all the flavours back in alignment, with a nice lingering mix of red fruits and chocolate flavours, as well as a creaminess that helped balanced the high acids in the wine. This was quite the experience!

While at Legends Estates, I was also able to taste a couple of wines from (former winemaker at Lailey Vineyards) Derek Barnett's latest endeavour - Meldville Wines. The wines on the whole were satisfactory, including a Chardonnay that was my favourite, but I would wager that future vintages will be better.

Green Curry Chicken on Morrocan Bean Salad paired with EastDell Riesling

We headed over to Niagara-on-the-Lake for our third stop at Diamond Estates Winery. On the menu here was a Green Curry Chicken served on a bed of Morrocan bean salad courtesy of Chef James from The Heat is On Catering. It was paired with the 2015 EastDell Riesling (reviewed below). The dish was designed to be served cold and didn't show any signs of hot spices, which caught us by surprise. The pairing was fresh and brought out squeaky clean lemony flavours. After some time, subtle hints of spice from the chicken started to emerge and provided a nice warming sensation on the finish which was very interesting! We also took a quick tour of the winery and were told that a brand new retail tasting facility was going to be built and scheduled to open in Spring 2017.

Chicken Tikka Naan with Pillitteri Cabernet Merlot

The final stop of the day was at Pillitteri Estates Winery for a South East Asian inspired Spicy Chicken Tikka Roti Wrap topped with sprouts and pickled kachumber and raita. We had a choice to pair with either the 2014 Pillitteri Fusion Gewürztraminer Riesling ($12.95, #349126, 87 pts) or the 2013 Pillitteri Cabernet Merlot ($17.50, 86 pts) - I opted for the Cab Merlot. By itself, the Chicken Tikka Roti (more like Naan) Wrap was delicious - just the right amount of mild spice and flavour and very filling. I would love to get my hands on the recipe for Chez Megz. Since I opted to pair the Wrap with the Cabernet Merlot, it was a very balanced pairing with the tannins and gamey-ness in the wine complementing the chicken very nicely. This was a delicious comfort food pairing, providing a perfect segue into Fall.

Most of the wines I tasted during this trip are available at the winery only, so you'll have to visit the winery in person or order the wines online via the winery website to get your hands on these wines.

All-in-all, I was very impressed with the food & wine pairings on this day, with plenty of surprising combinations that worked really well. Expectations were certainly raised as I prepared for another set of food & wine pairings - a full review will be posted soon. Stay tuned. is posted here.

Tasting Notes:

MAGNOTTA CHARDONNAY LIMITED EDITION 2014 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $16.95
The medium-high intensity nose offers appealing vanilla, butter, apple and pear aromas with much of the same on the medium-bodied and very creamy palate. There's some spice on the mid-palate. It has fresh acids and finishes long. Score: 88 pts

Magnotta Chardonnay Limited Edition 2014 (88 pts)Magnotta Merlot Gran Riserva 2011 (89 pts)

MAGNOTTA MERLOT GRAN RISERVA 2011 - Ontario, Canada (XD) - $29.95
Medium-high aromatics offering black plum, chocolate, leather, oak, cocoa and hints of green pepper. It's medium-full bodied with supple tannins and nice aroma replays. Acids are very good while the finish is long. A big wine that can be aged for at least half a dozen years. Score: 89 pts

LEGENDS ESTATES CHARDONNAY RESERVE 2013 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $18.95
Aromas of medium+ intensity with notes of vanilla, butter, apple and pear and reappear on the medium-full bodied palate. Well-balanced overall with good acidity, slightly oak-spiced mid-palate and finishing long. Score: 89+ pts

Legends Estates Chardonnay Reserve 2013 (89+ pts)Legends Estates Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve 2012 (89 pts)

LEGENDS ESTATES CABERNET SAUVIGNON RESERVE 2012 - Lizak Vineyard, VQA Lincoln Lakeshore, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $22.10
A medium-high intensity nose with savoury olive, earthy, forest floor and meaty aromas. Full bodied on the palate with green pepper, olive, earthy tones. It has balanced acids and tannins that are smooth and quite evolved. Very good length on the finish. Score: 89 pts

MELDVILLE DEREK BARNETT FIRST EDITION CHARDONNAY 2015 - VQA Lincoln Lakeshore, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $20
Very fruit forward with stone fruit, apple and pear aromas and flavours. Minimal oak intervention. Clean, fresh acids and good length on the finish. Score: 87 pts

Meldville Derek Barnett First Edition Chardonnay 2015 (87 pts)EastDell Riesling 2015 (87 pts)

EASTDELL RIESLING 2015 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#481556) (M) - $13.95
Medium+ intensity nose of green apple, tropical fruit, white peach and hints of mineral and orange. It is off-dry with crisp, refreshing acids and flavours of orange, mineral and citrus. Finishes long with some bitterness. Score: 87 pts

LAKEVIEW CELLARS SYRAH 2013 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#438408) (XD) - $24.95
The nose is medium-to-high intensity and offers a pleasing meaty, earthy, and charcuterie aromas with hints of black pepper and green olive. It's full-bodied on the palate with varietal black peppercorn, blackberry, dark fruits and oak flavours. Acids are very good. Lengthy finish. Score: 89 pts

Lakeview Cellars Syrah 2013 (89 pts)

LAKEVIEW CELLARS GEWÜRZTRAMINER ICEWINE 2013 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (S) (375 mL) - $39.95
Tasted back-to-back with the 2012, this has a fragrant nose of fresh guava, molasses, honey, and orange, and floral aromas. The palate is quite dense with good fruit concentration and a viscous mouthfeel. Acids balance the lusciously sweet flavours. Excellent length on the finish. Score: 90+ pts

Lakeview Cellars Gewürztraminer Icewine 2013 (90+ pts)

PILLITTERI DOLCE RIESLING 2013 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (M) - $15.50
Offers a medium-high intensity nose of petrol, mineral, peach, citrus and apple that echo on the palate in a medium sweet style. Fresh acids are nicely balanced. Long finish has notes of orange peel. Score: 88 pts

Pillitteri Dolce Riesling 2013 (88 pts)Pillitteri Winemakers Selection Exclamation Merlot 2012 (90 pts)

PILLITTERI WINEMAKERS SELECTION EXCLAMATION MERLOT 2012 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $68
Matured in French oak for 2 years, this offer medium-to-high intensity aromatics of cigar box, sweet tobacco, blackberry, black current, white pepper, and sweet spices that echo very nicely on the complex, medium-bodied palate. It has very good acidity and smooth, velvety tannins. Excellent length on the finish. Score: 90 pts

PILLITTERI FAMILY RESERVE TRIVALENTE 2005 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $98
A blend of 67% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Cabernet Franc and 8% Merlot, this very fine mature wine has a captivating, highly aromatic and a very complex nose of dried floral, cherry, rhubarb, kirsch, blackberry liqueur, apple wood and some barnyard aromas. It's full-bodied with silky smooth tannins and lovely flavours of blackberry, cherry and floral. It still has very good acidity and shows some brambly notes on the long finish. Also tasted in 2014. Score: 92 pts

Pillitteri Family Reserve Trivalente 2005 (92 pts)Pillitteri Reserve Vidal Icewine 2013 (91 pts)

PILLITTERI RESERVE VIDAL ICEWINE 2013 - VQA Niagara-on-the-Lake, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (S) (200 mL/375 mL) - $35/$65
My favourite of the Icewines tasted at Pillitteri, this has an highly aromatic nose of leach, apricot and lemon. It is medium-full bodied on the palate with very nice aroma replays plus hints of oak spice. It's very sweet, with pleasing acids keep the Icewine from being cloying. Long, citrusy finish. Very fine indeed. Score: 91 pts


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  • Sunday, November 27, 2016

Château Bertin 2014 (Bordeaux) - Wine Review

wine review is another sneak preview of a wine that will be in LCBO VINTAGES on .

This red wine is produced by Vignobles Jean-Bernard Saby & Fils, a family-owned winery with a winemaking history dating back to the 18th Century and spanning 9 generations.

The grapes for this wine come from Château Bertin, within the town of Lussac, on the right bank, approximately 45 kilometres from the city of Bordeaux. The plot of land where these grapes were grown are near the centre of village, next to a school and bordering the house of Château Haut Brion. The vineyard is south-facing and has extraordinary potential.

Château Bertin 2014 - AC Lussac St-Émilion, Bordeaux, France (88 pts)

Tasting Note:

CHÂTEAU BERTIN 2014 - AC Lussac St-Émilion, Bordeaux, France (#244046) (D) - $19.95
100% Merlot that was hand-harvested and matured in oak for 12 months. Wet earth, forest floor, plum and whiffs of incense aromas from the cork. Ripe black cherry, cassis aromas followed by notions of milk chocolate, herbs and vanilla oak of medium intensity. Medium-bodied with a soft, plush mouthfeel and dusty tannins that become chalkier with air. Acids are juicy. Black cherry, currant, cocoa, milk chocolate, and cedar oak flavours, finishing long with earthy notes. Will be a fine match over the holidays with poultry or red meats. Score: 88 pts


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  • Thursday, November 3, 2016

Château Guillou 2014 (Bordeaux) - Wine Review

Last November, the 2012 Château Guillou landed in VINTAGES. wine is the 2014 vintage of this wine and will be in LCBO VINTAGES on .

Produced by Jean-Bernard Saby, this family has been making wines for nine generations since the 18th century. Today, the winery's vineyards consist of 62 hectares, yielding well-structured wines that are enhanced by perfectly absorbed tannins.

Château Guillou 2014 - AC Montagne Saint-Émilion, Bordeaux, France (88 pts)

Tasting Note:

CHÂTEAU GUILLOU 2014 - AC Montagne Saint-Émilion, Bordeaux, France (#140483) (XD) - $19.95
Has a bit less Merlot (75%) and more Cabernet Franc (25%) compared to the 2012 vintage. Plummy and milk chocolate aromas from the cork. The nose is not very intense, but offers juicy blackberry and oak along with hints of underbrush and herbal spice aromas. The palate is medium-full bodied and gains volume in the mouth with good fruit concentration. Palate is dry with juicy blackberry, dark fruit, chocolate, earth and well-integrated oak flavours. Appealing sweet spice flavours emerge with time. Acids are very good, balanced. Tannins are finely-grained, dusty, and just a touch grippy. Good length on the finish. Satisfying overall. Ideal with lamb right now. Enjoy over the next 5-6 years. Score: 88 pts


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  • Friday, September 16, 2016

Winetario - Top Wines from 2016 Ontario Wine Awards

iYellow Wine Club presents #Winetario
In , I had the pleasure of attending Winetario, an event put together by iYellow Wine Club and George Brown College Centre for Hospitality and Culinary Arts to showcase local Ontario VQA wines that won medals at the 2016 Ontario Wine Awards. The event was held in the atrium at the George Brown College campus located on Adelaide Street East in downtown Toronto.

I was in attendance for the entire tasting session and managed to taste through most of the wines. However, I was disappointed that I ran out of time and missed tasting the Icewine - a category Ontario excels in year after year. I also noticed a distinct lack of Chardonnay amongst the wines being poured - another category which Ontario does quite well. Having said that, there were plenty of other delicious wines to taste, across many different grape varieties, with Ontario Riesling and Syrah being my top favourites. Listed below are wine reviews of some of my favourite wines at Winetario, some of which you can find right now at the LCBO. Alternatively, you can always contact the winery or pay them a visit in Niagara Wine Country.

If you're in the Greater Toronto Area, the WiNETARiO Harvest Edition wine tasting takes place on November 3rd. Venue and ticketing information can be found on the iYellow Wine Club website.

Tasting Notes:

KONZELMANN LATE HARVEST GEWÜRZTRAMINER 2013 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#392357) (M) - $14.75
Highly aromatic nose is very inviting with notions of lychee, floral and roses. The medium-dry palate is sweet with nicely balanced acids and lovely aroma replays. Very good finish length. Score: 89 pts

Konzelmann Late Harvest Gewürztraminer 2013 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (89 pts)

ANDREW PELLER ESTATES SIGNATURE SERIES SAUVIGNON BLANC 2014 - VQA Niagara-on-the-Lake, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#405043) (XD) - $24.75
An austere Sauvignon Blanc showing gooseberry, kiwi and some smoke on the nose. It's medium-bodied with barrel-fermented oak providing texture. Acids are well-balanced. Nice aroma replays on the palate continue through to the long finish. Score: 90 pts

Andrew Peller Estates Signature Series Sauvignon Blanc 2014 - VQA Niagara-on-the-Lake, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (90 pts)

TWO SISTERS RIESLING 2014 - VQA Niagara Escarpment, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (M) - $35
Pleasing mineral, petrol and orange aromas that also shine through on the palate with a slight leesy character. Medium in sweetness with juicy, balanced acids. Excellent length on the finish. Score: 90 pts

Two Sisters Riesling 2014 - VQA Niagara Escarpment, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada

THIRTY BENCH SMALL LOT WOOD POST RIESLING 2014 - VQA Beamsville Bench, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (M) - ~$30
Lovely, highly aromatic nose offers peach, mineral and petrol notes. Nicely balanced and harmonious aroma replays on the palate with a stony mineral texture. It's off-dry in style, with bracing acidity and excellent length on the finish. Always good year after year. Score: 91 pts

Thirty Bench Small Lot Wood Post Riesling 2014 - VQA Beamsville Bench, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (91 pts)

HENRY OF PELHAM RESERVE BACO NOIR 2013 - VQA Ontario, Canada (#461699) (D) - $24.95
A medium-high intensity nose offers blackberry, black cherry, sweet oak and brambly aromas that balances fruit and oak well. It's medium-full bodied with nicely balanced aroma replays on the palate, along with some mineral notes. Juicy with a long cherry-floral finish. Very appealing. Released in VINTAGES on June 25th. Score: 90 pts

Henry of Pelham Reserve Baco Noir 2013 - VQA Ontario, Canada (90 pts)

PALATINE HILLS NEUFELD VINEYARD MERLOT 2012 - VQA Niagara Lakeshore, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $24.80
This Merlot is quite complex, offering earthy, blackberry, dark fruits, dark cherry, and hints of barnyard aromas that all follow through to the full-bodied palate. It has dusty tannins that are integrating very nicely. Very good acids and fine length on the earthy, dark-fruited finish. Still a bit young and should age well for half dozen years or more. Score: 90 pts

Palatine Hills Neufeld Vineyard Merlot 2012 - VQA Niagara Lakeshore, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (90 pts)

SOUTHBROOK ESTATE GROWN SMALL LOT CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2013 - VQA Four Mile Creek, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $39.95
Organic and biodynamic, composed of 88% Cabernet Sauvignon and 12% Cabernet Franc. This red wine was Served decanted, and has lovely cherry, sweet oak, cassis, ripe red berry and earthy aromas. Full-bodied with smooth tannins and tart aroma replays. It has balanced acids and excellent length on the finish. Score: 90+ pts

Southbrook Estate Grown Small Lot Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 - VQA Four Mile Creek, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (90+ pts)

CREEKSIDE BROKEN PRESS SYRAH 2012 - Queenston Road Vineyard, VQA St. David's Bench, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#202127) (XD) - $42.95
Highly aromatic nose offers meaty, black peppercorn and sour cherry notes. The full-bodied palate has fine aroma replays with hints of violet and floral notes. The juicy acids and integrated tannins are well-balanced, and the finish length is excellent. Such a delight! Score: 92 pts

Creekside Broken Press Syrah 2012 - Queenston Road Vineyard, VQA St. David's Bench, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (92 pts)


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  • Monday, August 22, 2016

Niagara New Vintage Wine Festival Review 2016 - Day 1

On the weekend of -12, 2016, I visited Niagara wine country to take in the annual New Vintage Festival and indulge in Discovery Pass Experiences throughout the region. activities centered around the wineries of the Niagara Escarpment and Twenty Valley. A full review of Sunday's activities, which were mostly in Niagara-on-the-Lake, will be posted in a few days. is posted here.

Scratch Bakery #PieholeApproved Strawberry Tart with Mike Weir 4 Barrel Chardonnay
We began the day at Mike Weir Winery for a #pieholeapproved strawberry tailgate tart paired with their 4 Barrel Chardonnay.  The tart by itself was to die for! An exquisite creation by the folks at Scratch Bakery that consisted of a basil shortbread crust with a balsamic mascarpone whip and topped with a balsamic strawberry and rhubarb glaze. The Chardonnay paired really well with the tart, showing off a very fine sweet and savoury balance. Most impressively was how the mascarpone cheese cream helped balance the acid in the wine to create a smooth, harmonious mouthfeel.

I was also delighted (and surprised!) to see both the 2010 Merlot and 2010 Meritage still available for purchase at the winery at $20 each. These should be added to every red wine lover's cellar for those seeking quality local red wine on a budget.

Vieni Momenti Sparkling with Maryland Crab Meat Patty
The next stop was Vieni Estates for a rich and delicate Maryland crab meat patty crusted with fresh herbs and Parmesan cheese, and topped with with a chipotle aioli that added some spice. It was paired with their always easy-drinking Momenti Sparkling (reviewed below). The bubbles from the Sparkling Wine added interest and texture to the dense patty that had small pieces of crab meat embedded within. Furthermore, the sweetness from the sparkler cooled down some of the chili heat from the crab meat patty. Overall, an enjoyable pairing that was very satisfying.

Malivoire Lady Bug Rosé with Cheesy Guys Grillable Cheese, Strawberries and Greens
Our third stop of the day was at Malivoire Wine Company , where the Cheesy Guys brought a delectable BBQ-friendly grillable cheese to life in a salad with local greens, strawberries and nuts. It was paired with their dry 2015 Malivoire Lady Bug Rosé (#559088, $15.95, 87 pts). This rosé was one of the first rosé wines I enjoyed when I first took in interest in wine many, many years ago and is still enjoyable to this day - it's a refreshingly dry (i.e. not sweet) rosé that you too will enjoy if you're a fan of the style. The pairing with the salad was good - fresh, crisp, savoury, some sweetness from the nuts, and well-balanced overall.

Since I had tasted through many of Malivoires wines back in January, I opted to taste through the wines of Rennie Estate Winery. This winery produces only 4 wines, from grapes that are 100% estate grown. The vineyard is the Heron Pond Benchland Vineyard, a 50 acre site that has been producing grapes as early as the 1960's - making it one of the oldest in Niagara. I really enjoyed two wines from the Rennie portfolio and reviews of those are provided below. The wines are available for purchase online or by visiting Malvoire Wine Company.

Stoney Ridge Cabernet Franc with Scratch Bakery Dark Chocolate and Strawberry Tart
The final stop of the day was nearby at Stoney Ridge Estate Winery where Scratch Bakery once again provided the culinary creation. The pairing here was the 2014 Stoney Ridge Cabernet Franc (#369702, $14.95, 88 pts) with a dark chocolate tart topped with a farm fresh Ontario strawberry. This pairing was a whole lot of chocolate - lots of chocolate flavours coming from the wine that meshed well with the dark chocolate tart. However, I was quite chocolated-out after it was finished.

Since all the stops on this day were quite close to each other, we still had much of the afternoon to check-in to the hotel in Niagara Falls and rest up prior to dinner. Another full day of wine tasting paired with delicious culinary creations was awaiting us on Sunday, a review of which will be posted in a couple of days.

Full wine reviews of the many wines I enjoyed on Saturday are posted below. Most of these wines are not available at the LCBO, but can be ordered online by visiting the winery's website.

Thank you to each and every winery - your gracious hospitality was very much appreciated by myself and the group.

Tasting Notes:

MIKE WEIR 4 BARREL CHARDONNAY 2013 - VQA Beamsville Bench, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $24.95
Medium intensity nose of pear, lime, floral with just hints of wood influence. On the palate, it is medium-bodied with bright acids and flavours of buttery, apple and pear notes. Quite fruit forward with hints of vanilla and butterscotch. It has juicy, tart acids and the finish length is very good. Score: 88+ pts

Mike Weir 4 Barrel Chardonnay 2013 - VQA Beamsville Bench, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (88+ pts)

MIKE WEIR PINOT NOIR 2009 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#000075) (D) - $16.95
Amazing to still be able to find a 2009 Pinot. This Pinot offers a medium+ intensity nose of forest floor and cherry, along with some strawberry and earthy tones. The palate is medium-bodied and shows a complex, savoury flavour profile consisting of red and black fruits, spiced oak, currant and herbally hints. Acids are bright and still quite fresh. Very good length on the finish. Supple tannins should allow this wine to drink well for a few more years. Score: 88+ pts

Mike Weir Pinot Noir 2009 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (88+ pts)Mike Weir Limited Edition Merlot 2013 - VQA Beamsville Bench, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (88 pts)

MIKE WEIR LIMITED EDITION MERLOT 2013 - VQA Beamsville Bench, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $29.95
Medium+ bodied with some sulphur off the top, but gives way to red and black fruits, currant, green pepper, and mocha aromas. It's medium-bodied with medium-level of tannins and flavours of currant, chocolate, cocoa and black cherry. Acids are well-balanced and finishing long. Enjoy to 2021. Score: 88 pts

VIENI MOMENTI SPARKLING 2013 - VQA Ontario, Canada (#435784) (MD) - $13.95
A blend 60% Vidal and 40% Pinot Grigio, this has an appealing nose of honey, peach and sweet limes. Easy drinking with medium-sweet aroma replays. Some tartness on the bubbles. Would make a nice apertif or pair with mildly spiced dishes. Score: 88 pts

Vieni Momenti Sparkling 2013 - VQA Ontario, Canada (88 pts)

VIENI PINOT GRIGIO 2013 - VQA Vinemount Ridge, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (D) - $14.95
A light nose features a floral, herbal and mineral character. Medium-bodied with a rounded mouthfeel and flavours of stone fruits, white peach and more mineral. Balanced acids and good length on the finish. Score: 88 pts

Vieni Pinot Grigio 2013 - VQA Vinemount Ridge, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (88 pts)Vieni Chardonnay 2012 - VQA Vinemount Ridge, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (88+ pts)

VIENI CHARDONNAY 2012 - VQA Vinemount Ridge, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#388371) (XD) - $22.95
Medium intensity nose of golden apple, pear and coconut. It's medium-to-full bodied with nice aroma replays. Well-balanced with a nicely spiced mid-palate and balanced acids. Long finish. Score: 88+ pts

MALIVOIRE PINOT GRIS 2015 - VQA Beamsville Bench, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#591305) (D) - $21.95
Notions of lemon/lime, floral and stone fruit aromas of medium intensity from the glass. The medium-bodied palate offers a clean, crisp and fresh wine that's nicely balanced with nice mineral and peach flavours. Well-delineated acids and hints of honey on a finish length that's very good. Score: 89 pts

Malivoire Pinot Gris 2015 - VQA Beamsville Bench, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (89 pts)

RENNIE ESTATE CHRISTINE CHARDONNAY 2013 - VQA Beamsville Bench, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $35
This unfiltered, oaked Chardonnay has a lovely nose of pear, apple, butterscotch, tropical fruits and hints of ginger. The full-bodied palate is rich and creamy with beautiful aroma replays and some mildly spice notes on the mid-palate add some nice texture. It's quite well-balanced with good acidity and excellent length on the finish. Score: 91 pts

Rennie Estate Christine Chardonnay 2013 - VQA Beamsville Bench, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (91 pts)Rennie Estate Paradox Pinot Noir 2013 - VQA Beamsville Bench, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (91 pts)

RENNIE ESTATE PARADOX PINOT NOIR 2013 - VQA Beamsville Bench, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $40
An elegant nose of medium-high intensity offers complex strawberry, cherry, earth, with hints of herbs and oak spices. The palate is medium-bodied and smooth with exotic spice notes joining the red fruited flavours. Terrific complexity and depth. Long finish. Tight tannic structure will allow this wine to age a number of years. Score: 91 pts

STONEY RIDGE EXCELLENCE CHARDONNAY 2011 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#254243) (XD) - $24.95
Medium intensity nose of butterscotch, pineapple, vanilla and pear, along with hints of bubblegum. The palate is medium-bodied with vanilla, butter, and baked apple flavours with a spiced mid-palate, balanced acids and long finish. Score: 88 pts

Stoney Ridge Excellence Chardonnay 2011 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (88 pts)Stoney Ridge Excellence Pinot Noir 2013 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (88+ pts)

STONEY RIDGE EXCELLENCE PINOT NOIR 2013 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $29
Has a medium intensity nose featuring elegant cherry, strawberry and red pepper jelly, with more of the same on the flavour profile, plus beetroot and earthy flavours. The palate is medium+ bodied with bright, balanced acids and refined tannins. Very good length on the finish. Score: 88+ pts


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  • Wednesday, August 10, 2016

McMichael Collection Group of Seven Cabernet Merlot 2014 (Niagara) - Wine Review

wine is an LCBO General List product that was released into the market in June and is readily available throughout Ontario.

Produced by the McMichael Canadian Art Collection, in Kleinburg, just north of Toronto, in partnership with Niagara's Diamond Estates Winery, the Cabernet Merlot (along with an unoaked Chardonnay) is part of a new collection of wines to celebrate the institution's 50th anniversary. The unique labels adorning the bottles feature works from the Group of Seven. Furthermore, fifty cents from every bottle sold goes to the McMichael Collection.

Each member of the Group of Seven is honoured with a label depicting their artwork on one of the two wines. If you're an art lover, you'll recognize that my Cab Merlot features the Road to Baie St. Paul (1933) by A.Y. Jackson.

McMichael Collection Group of Seven Cabernet Merlot 2014 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (85 pts)

Tasting Note:

MCMICHAEL COLLECTION GROUP OF SEVEN CABERNET MERLOT 2014 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#456590) (XD) - $14.95
A blend of 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Merlot, and 20% Cabernet Franc. Screw cap. Earthy and red berry aromas with hints of sweet spices and green herbs. The palate is medium bodied with young, gritty tannins. Flavours of dark berry, earth and oak spices. It has fresh acids and good length on the finish. Requires a meaty dish to balance the tannin. Score: 85 pts

This wine is currently on promotion, offering 6 Bonus Air Miles reward miles until .


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  • Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Southbrook Triomphe Cabernet Merlot 2014 (Niagara) - Wine Review

red wine is the second in a series of wines from Southbrook Vineyards.

The grapes for this wine come from the Saunders Vineyard in Niagara. Fermentation took place in stainless steel tanks and ageing occurred in neutral oak barrels. This wine is certified organic and suitable for vegans and vegetarians.

Currently available as part of the Triomphe Gift Package that also includes two other Southbrook Triomphe wines, a bottle of Southbrook Preserve Chardonnay Vinegar, and a copy of the Ontario Table Cookbook that features 109 recipes using local ingredients.

Tasting Note:

SOUTHBROOK TRIOMPHE CABERNET MERLOT 2014 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $22.95
Capped with a Stelvin closure, this relatively unique blend of 69% Cabernet Franc and 31% Merlot is an organic red wine with medium+ intensity aromas of raspberry, black cherry, licorice, and sweet tobacco. Some earthy and stewed fruit notes arrive later. Essentially dry aroma replays on the medium+ bodied palate with sandalwood and chocolate notes arriving mid-palate add complexity. Acids are fresh, while tannins are light and gritty. Finishes long and earthy. Enjoy over the next 3-4 years. This will go great with lamb and buffalo mozzarella pizza (recipe provided below). Score: 88 pts

Recipe: Lamb Meatballs, Red Wine Braised Shallots and Buffalo Mozzarella Pizza

Pizza Crust:
  • K2
  • Red Fife 60%
  • 3 Star Canadian Flour 40% (This flour is comparable to the Tippo ‘00’)
  • Salt 3%
  • Bioflavia 3% (dry yeast if used instead will also be 3%)
  • Cool water 63%
  • 250 mL of Southbrook Wine
Technique:
  1. Mix all of the ingredients except for the wine by hand for about 4 to 5 minutes or in a mixer on a lower speed for about two minutes. You do not want to over develop the gluten or each pizza will always shrink on you. After mixing the dough, drink the wine as your reward. You just made pizza dough from scratch!
  2. Let the dough stand overnight, preferably in the pre-weighed balls. The typical individual pizza is about 140 g. The easiest ratio is to work with 1000 g of flour and do the percentages back from that. You will get about 10 individual pizzas.
  3. Pull dough out 1 hour before rolling. If you don’t have a pizza oven, put your stove to 450°F and fill a small pot or pan with water and place on the bottom of the oven. Keep the dough nice and thin with a little corn meal on the bottom so it does not stick to the tray.

Pizza Sauce Pomodoro:
  • 1 large 3.5 L can of quality whole tomatoes
  • 5 mL of sea salt per litre of canned tomatoes
  • 1/2 bunch of basil (optional)
Technique:
  1. Pass the whole tomatoes through a food mill and bring to a slow simmer for about 2 hours.
  2. When finished throw in salt a few leaves of basil.

Red Wine Braised Shallots:
  • 2 lbs shallots
  • 250 mL Southbrook Triomph Cabernet Franc
  • 250 mL dark chicken stock
  • 3 tbsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp fennel
  • 1/4 tsp chilli
  • Pinch of salt and pepper
Technique:
  1. Peel shallots and cover half way with red wine and dark chicken stock.
  2. Add a pinch of salt and pepper, some sugar, dried chili and fennel.
  3. Cover with tin foil and cook at 250°F for about two hours and remove the foil.
  4. Keep cooking until they take on a nice caramel colour.
  5. Make a lot at a time and just place them in the fridge.
  6. Take two of the shallots and slice for the pizza

Lamb Meatballs:
  1. Add chopped thyme, rosemary and parsley with a splash of 10% cream to ground lamb.
  2. Roll meat balls at a size of about 40 g.
  3. Cook for approximately 25 minutes at 325°F.

To Assemble Pizza:
To build the pizza, roll out the dough to create a thin layer and place on a tray with corn meal sprinkled on it to avoid sticking. Ladle on a thin layer of pomodoro sauce, add three sliced meatballs, two shallots, and 60 g of torn buffalo mozzarella cheese, and then sprinkle charred garlic scapes.


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  • Thursday, November 26, 2015

Château Guillou 2012 (Bordeaux) - Wine Review

wine is part of the November 28, 2015 VINTAGES Release and is most likely already available for purchase on some LCBO shelves.

From the same producer as the 2011 Château Hauchat red wine that I tasted earlier this month, this Jean-Bernard Saby wine is produced by the 9th generation of the Saby family. Jean-Christophe and Jean-Phillippe are both oenologists and apply their new skills, as well as respecting the traditions and know-how of their father and grandfather in producing the wines at this estate.

Château Guillou 2012 - AC Montagne Saint-Émilion, Bordeaux, France (87 pts)

Tasting Note:

CHÂTEAU GUILLOU 2012 - AC Montagne Saint-Émilion, Bordeaux, France (#140483) (XD) - $18.95
Blend of 80% Merlot and 20% Cabernet Franc. Dried spice, oak and whiff of plum from the cork.  Medium intensity herbally, spice, black currant, dark cherry, and some earthy characters on the nose. The palate is light-to-medium bodied with gritty, astringent tannins. Raspberry and dusty cocoa flavours join the aroma profile on the palate. Acids are fresh and juicy, while the finish length is good. Has a mineral/steely aftertaste. Perfectly fine for a Thursday night. Score: 87 pts



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  • Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Château Hauchat 2011 (Bordeaux) - Wine Review

This fairly easy drinking red wine will be in VINTAGES on November 14th and is suitable for mid-week sipping.

The Château Hauchat property was re-acquired by the Saby family in 1973. In 1989, current owner Jean-Bernard Saby purchased the property from his uncle. The Saby family has been making wine in the region for an astounding 8 centuries now.

The property is located within the commune of Saint-Aignan, to the west of neighbouring Pomerol and Saint Émilion in Bordeaux, France. On the high plateau of Saint-Aignan, the Château is in one of the finest growing areas of the Fronsac appellation. Well drained clay-limestone soil and perfect south/southwest exposure to the sun are two of its most distinctive features. Château Hauchat also grows just a single grape variety on its property - Merlot.

Tasting Note:

CHÂTEAU HAUCHAT 2011 - AC Fronsac, Bordeaux, France (#123489) (XD) - $15.95
100% Merlot. Plummy and black cherry aromas from the cork. Medium intensity aromas from the glass showing plum, blackberry, sour cherry, black spices, soft cedar vanilla oak, mineral and hints of cocoa notes. It's medium-bodied on the palate with tart red berry and mineral/iodine flavours. Has good acids, fairly rounded but gritty tannins. Good length on the cocoa-tinged finish. Score: 86 pts

Château Hauchat 2011 - AC Fronsac, Bordeaux, France (86 pts)


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  • Monday, October 12, 2015

Château Renard Mondesir 2009 (Bordeaux) - Wine Review

Opened up this delicious red wine on to celebrate with the family. It is produced by the Négociant Chassagnoux & Fils.

The story of Chassagnoux & Fils begins with Amedee Chassagnoux arriving in Bordeaux in the early 50's. His son Pierre discovers the vineyards of Saint Emilion and distributes them with a passion in Northern France and Belgium. Today, Pierre's son, Xavier and his daughter Laurence manage the property, marking 4 generations of family involvement.

An 18th Century residence, Château Renard was purchased in 1978 by Xavier. It is located in The Rivère within the Fronsac appellation in Bordeaux and surrounded by 12 hectares of vines planted on hillsides, ensuring fully ripened grapes.

The wine below is the first wine of Château Renard and has been regularly produced since 1990. It comes from the best plots and is a selection of rich, concentrated grapes, harvested with great care.

It will be available in VINTAGES on October 17th.

Château Renard Mondesir 2009 - AC Fronsac, Bordeaux, France (89 pts)

Tasting Note:

CHÂTEAU RENARD MONDESIR 2009 - AC Fronsac, Bordeaux, France (#420299) (XD) - $26.95
Blend of 90% Merlot and 10% Cabernet Franc. Blackberry, dark fruits and a whiff of dried fruit aromas from the cork. Dark garnet coloured with a tinge of brown forming along the rim. Savoury medium intensity nose with earthy, cherry, dried herbs and hints of tobacco in the glass. The palate is medium-bodied with fine-grained tannins, spiced tobacco, black cherry, sage, and leathery notes. Has very good acidity. Finishes long and a touch warm with dark currant, earthy and mineral after taste. Enjoy over the next 5-6 years. Score: 89 pts


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  • Sunday, May 31, 2015

Greek Wine Party at iYellow Wine Club

On , I had the pleasure of attending a Greek Wine Tasting Party hosted at the iYellow Wine Cave. The evening was filled with Greek fare such as olives, cheese, dessert, and other traditional Greek foods that were served alongside more than 30 Greek wines.

In attendance were principals of the wineries, including winemakers, who made the trek all the way from Greece. One such gentleman was Yiannis Flerianos, winemaker at Panagiotopoulos Wines.

Panagiotopoulos Wines is located in Messinia, in the southwestern part of Peloponnese. They farm organically indigenous and international grape varieties at an altitude of 400 metres above sea level. One of the 4 wines that Mr. Flerianos brought with him was made using the local Malagousia grape - a wine that was my favourite white wine of the night. Yiannis also brought an organic 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon that showed minimal greenness and fine maturity. Both of these wines are reviewed below.

Yiannis Flerianos - Winemaker at Panagiotopoulos Wines
When I met Mr. Flerianos earlier this month, he mentioned that they did not have representation in our market. For any Agents looking to add a Greek winery that produces yummy wines, some of which are organic, to their portfolio, take a look at Panagiotopoulos Wines.

After having enjoyed the Cavino Grande Reserve during my Greek Wine series back in April, I was curious to see what else Cavino had to offer. On this night, in addition to the Grande Reserve, they also had their Reserve bottling and the premium Mega Spileo Grand Cave Red. Wine reviews of both of these delicious wines are found below, and can be purchased via their agent United Stars.

Chocolate covered baklava

Most of the wines available for tasting on this night were available on Consignment, while a few could be found in the LCBO General List and VINTAGES sections. A couple of easy drinking wines that could be found in LCBO General List in 1 Litre or 1.5 Litre bottles were the Apelia Moschofilero (white wine, #239863) and Apelia Agiorgitiko (red wine, #239871). Both of the wines are available quite cheaply at $10.55 (1 Litre) and $13.95 (1.5 Litre) and make for good every day or party wines.

Overall, my impression of Greek wines is good value for money when using local grape varieties. And I hope they continue to produce these delicious wines and that the LCBO continuously brings them to Ontario. A recent initiative by the LCBO to launch regional specialty wine shops will certainly go a long way to help this cause. The first such store is located on the Danforth and features roughly 90 Greek wines.

Below, you will find wine reviews of some of the wines I enjoyed at this tasting.

And lastly, thank you to Angela Aiello and the iYellow team for the invite, and Ariel Andres for providing some of these photos.

Ya sou!

Tasting Notes:

PANAGIOTOPOULOS MALAGOUSIA 2014 - PGI Peloponnese, Greece (XD) - $????
Medium-high aromatics featuring orange, citrus, and wild herb notes. It's dry on the palate with balanced acids and herb, limestone, hay flavour profile. Excellent length on the finish. Score: 89 pts

Panagiotopoulos Malagousia 2014 from PGI Peloponnese, Greece (89 pts)

PANAGIOTOPOULOS MERLOT 2009 - PGI Trifilia, Greece (XD) - $????
Aromas of medium-to-high intensity showing plum, milk chocolate, wet earth and cedar. Palate is medium+ bodied with very nice aroma replays and some mint, herbal notes for complexity. It has refined tannins, balanced acids and a long finish. Well done! Score: 89 pts

Panagiotopoulos Merlot 2009 from PGI Trifilia, Greece (89 pts)Panagiotopoulos Cabernet Sauvignon BIO 2008 from PGI Trifilia, Greece (90+ pts)

PANAGIOTOPOULOS CABERNET SAUVIGNON BIO 2008 - PGI Trifilia, Greece (XD) - $????
Made with organic grapes. Elegant medium+ aromas of cassis, dried fruit, fig, dark berry and whiffs of green pepper. The palate is medium-to-full bodied with very nice aroma replays. It has refined tannins and a very long finish. Score: 90+ pts

DOMAINE MERCOURI 2010 - PGI Letrini, Greece (XD) - $19.95
Red wine blend of 85% Refosco and 15% Mavrodaphne. Medium intensity nose with currant, vanilla, oak, bretty and smoke. Medium-bodied palate with fresh acids and a balanced flavour profile consisting of red fruit and leather. It's dry with somewhat firm, yet integrated tannins and medium-long finish with steely aftertaste. Score: 87 pts

DOMAINE LANTIDES LITTLE ARK 2014 - PDO Mantinia, Peloponnese, Greece (XD) - $????
White wine blend that is equal parts Assyrtiko and Malagousia showing medium+ intensity aromas of crisp citrus, floral, mineral and herbally notes with floral and herbal flavours emerging on the palate. It's medium-bodied and feels plumpy in the mouth. Dry (i.e. not sweet) and lengthy finish. Score: 87 pts

CAVINO NEMEA RESERVE 2009 - PDO Nemea, Greece (XD) - $14.95
100% Agiorgitiko. Perfumed floral aromas of medium+ intensity, red berry, plum and sweet spices. Palate has low tannins with nice aroma replays, and good freshness from the acidity. Finish is medium-long. Score: 88 pts
Cavino Nemea Reserve 2009 from PDO Nemea, Greece (88 pts)Cavino Domain Mega Spileo Grand Cave Red 2008 from PGI Achaia, Peloponnese, Greece (90 pts)

CAVINO DOMAIN MEGA SPILEO GRAND CAVE RED 2008 - PGI Achaia, Peloponnese, Greece (XD) - $24.95
Blend of 60% Mavrodafne and 40% Mavro Kalavritino. Medium-to-high intensity aromatics featuring black fruits, earthy, dark cherries, barnyard and dried flowers. It's full-bodied with smooth, integrated tannins and pleasing aroma replays. It also has mouth-watering acids and a very long finish. Score: 90 pts

TSELEPOS CLASSIC MOSCHOFILERO 2014 - PDO Mantinia, Peloponnese, Greece (#724583) (XD) - $14.95
Medium+ intensity nose with herbal, lemon and white peach aromas. The palate is dry with fresh, bright acids and very nice aroma replays with predominantly herbal notes. It has a slightly chalky mineral texture and a medium-long finish. I would expect this vintage to show up in LCBO VINTAGES at some point this year. Score: 88+ pts

Tselepos Classic Moschofilero 2014 from PDO Mantinia, Peloponnese, Greece (88 pts)


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