Showing posts with label port. Show all posts
Showing posts with label port. Show all posts

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  • Wednesday, March 18, 2020

March 21, 2020 LCBO VINTAGES Release Wine Picks: Classic Euro Regions + Okanagan + Annapolis

LCBO Wine Picks: March 21, 2020 VINTAGES Release
In these extraordinary times with COVID-19 at top of mind, this post seems almost irrelevant in the grand scheme of things. However, since the LCBO is still open (with reduced hours as of Thursday, March 19) and I think we would all like to step back and take a breather from all of the Coronavirus pandemic news, the next batch of new wines arriving at the LCBO are from the LCBO VINTAGES Release. The main theme of the Release focuses on wines from Classic Euro Regions, while the mini-theme looks at the Canadian wine regions of the Okanagan and Annapolis Valleys. So long as LCBO outlets remain open, the new wines from this Release will be on shelves across Ontario by this Saturday.

We begin with the main theme that looks at eleven classic wine regions of Europe: Bordeaux, Burgundy, Champagne, Rhône, Loire, Rioja, Tuscany, Veneto, Piedmont, Mosel, and Port. These are some of the world's most venerable and venerated wine regions, and with twenty wines featured as part of this theme, six are included among my top wine picks. From Hautes-Côtes de Beaune in Burgundy is a Pinot Noir, while the Champagne is a blend of 52% Pinot Noir and 48% Chardonnay. Also from France, there are a pair of very nice Rhône reds - the Côtes du Rhône is a blend of 70% Grenache, 15% Mourvedre, and 15% Syrah, while the Châteauneuf-du-Pape is also primarily Grenache with Mourvedre and Syrah completing the blend. From Italy, the Amarone from Veneto consists of 70% Corvina, 25% Rondinella, and 5% Molinara. Last but not least, there is a very nice Riesling Kabinett from the Mosel.

The mini-feature on wines from the Okanagan (British Columbia) and Annapolis (Nova Scotia) Valleys features a combined total of just five wines. While none of the wines from the mini-theme made my list of wine picks, there are a couple of noteworthy wines such as the Burrowing Owl Merlot ($40, #585737) from British Columbia, and the now-iconic Benjamin Bridge Nova 7 Sparkling ($25, #256289) sweet bubbly from Nova Scotia.

From my red wine picks, the Portuguese red is a blend of 35% Tinta Roriz (Tempranillo), 25% Tinta Barroca, 25% Touriga Franca, and 15% Touriga Nacional, while the red from South Africa is made with 53% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Cinsaut, 12% Petit Verdot, 10% Malbec, 9% Cabernet Franc, and 1% Merlot. The last red that is a blend is the 2010 Rioja that consists of 85% Tempranillo, 10% Graciano, and 5% Maturana. The rest of the reds are all single varietal wines made with Garnacha from Spain, Cabernet Franc from Niagara, Malbec from Argentina, and a Shiraz and Pinot Noir that are both from Australia.

Innocent Bystander Pinot Noir 2018 (89 pts)

Among my top white wine picks, the white wine from Greece is a blend of 60% Malagouzia, 20% Asyrtiko, and 20% Chardonnay, while the White Meritage from Niagara consists of 80% Sauvignon Blanc and 20% Semillon. There are a pair of delightful single varietal white wines from Italy - Grillo and Greco. Lastly, there are a pair of delicious Rieslings - an off-dry version from Alsace, and a medium-sweet version from Niagara.

Gorghi Tondi Coste a Preola Grillo 2018 (88 pts)

In sparkling wines, the Cava is a blend of 65% Parellada, 20% Xarel-lo, and 15% Macabeu, while the fortified wine from Niagara is a blend of Merlot, Cabernet, and Shiraz that was fortified with a Cabernet Franc brandy.

Enjoy my wine recommendations from this Release! Cheers and stay safe!

Red Wine:

  • EL VIVERO DE USALDÓN COLECCIÓN ORIGEN GARNACHA 2018 - Finca Casa Balaguer, DO Alicante, Spain (#13624) (XD) - $15.95
  • CASA FERREIRINHA PAPA FIGOS TINTO 2018 - DOC Douro, Portugal (#11157) (XD) - $15.95
  • CAVE SPRING CABERNET FRANC 2017 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#523001) (XD) - $17.95
  • YALUMBA ORGANIC SHIRAZ 2018 - South Australia (#280883) (XD) - $17.95
  • ANDELUNA ANDUCO LIMITED EDITION MALBEC 2017 - Uco Valley, Mendoza, Argentina (#12025) (XD) - $19.95
  • XAVIER VIEILLES VIGNES CÔTES DU RHÔNE 2016 - AC, Rhône, France (#12987) (XD) - $20.95

  • INNOCENT BYSTANDER PINOT NOIR 2018 - Yarra Valley, Victoria, Australia (#178897) (XD) - $22.95  89 pts  wine review
  • LE RICHE RICHESSE 2016 - WO Stellenbosch, South Africa (#13320) (XD) - $23.95
  • CONDE DE VALDEMAR GRAN RESERVA 2010 - DOCa Rioja, Spain (#960427) (XD) - $29.95
  • LA FERME DU MONT VENDANGE CHÂTEAUNEUF-DU-PAPE 2017 - AP, Rhône, France (#309245) (D) - $52.95
  • MICHELE CASTELLANI CINQUE STELLE AMARONE DELLA VALPOLICELLA CLASSICO 2015 - Collezione Ca' del Pipa, DOCG, Veneto, Italy (#75127) (D) - $53.95

White Wine:

  • GÉRARD BERTRAND RÉSERVE SPÉCIALE VIOGNIER 2018 - IGP Pays d'Oc, Roussillon, France (#147975) (XD) - $14.95
  • MEGA SPILEO CUVÉE III WHITE 2018 - PGI Achaia, Greece (#14186) (XD) - $17.95
  • GORGHI TONDI COSTE A PREOLA GRILLO 2018 - DOC Sicilia, Italy (#11670) (XD) - $17.95  88 pts  wine review
  • CATENA ZAPATA APPELLATION TUPUNGATO CHARDONNAY 2017 - Tupungato, Mendoza, Argentina (#10964) (XD) - $19.95
  • ADAMO FOXCROFT RIESLING 2017 - Grower's Series, VQA Twenty Mile Bench, Niagara Escarpment, Ontario, Canada (#11236) (M) - $19.95
  • RUHLMANN VIEILLES VIGNES COTEAU DU BLETTIG RIESLING 2016 - AC Alsace, France (#10722) (D) - $21.95
  • MONTEMAJOR GRECO DI TUFO 2018 - DOCG, Campania, Italy (#10955) (XD) - $23.95
  • JACKSON-TRIGGS GRAND RESERVE WHITE MERITAGE 2018 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#360297) (XD) - $25.95
  • DR. LOOSEN ERDENDER TREPPCHEN RIESLING KABINETT 2017 - Prädikatswein, Mosel, Germany (#393181) (S) - $29.95

Sparkling Wine:

  • STARS BRUT NATURE RESERVA CAVA 2016 - Traditional method, DO, Spain (#515221) (D) - $16.95
  • THIRTY BENCH SPARKLING RIESLING - Traditional method, VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#469478) (XD) - $38.95
  • PIPER-HEIDSIECK BRUT CHAMPAGNE 2012 - AC, France (#409326) (XD) - $79.95


  • UNION FORTÉ 2012 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#361758) (S) (500 mL) - $17.95

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  • Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Top Wines from Port & Douro Tasting - May 2016

May was an extremely busy month for tastings, so I've decided to highlight some of my favourites from each tasting.

The first post in this series is the Porto and Douro wine tasting - a small event held at the beginning of . This annual tasting normally has a very low turnout, but this time attendance was very good. The room at the Hyatt Regency Toronto was also on the small side, but suited the event perfectly and helped create a buzzy atmosphere. The tasting featured a combination of mostly Port wine, some very fine red wines, and at least one white wine. Here were my top wines from the Port & Douro tasting.

Tasting Notes:

DALVA COLHEITA PORT 1995 - Douro, Portugal (#069930) (S) - $32.95
This vintage-dated Tawny Port has a highly aromatic, complex nose that's nutty and warm with caramel and hints of orange. Lovely aroma replays on the palate, plus some honey and molasses flavours. Mouthfeel is soft. Excellent length on the warm finish. Will age for many years. Should arrive in VINTAGES again. Contact The Case For Wine for ordering information. Score: 92 pts

Dalva Colheita Port 1995 - Douro, Portugal (92 pts)

TAYLOR FLADGATE 20 YEAR OLD TAWNY PORT - Douro, Portugal (#149047) (S) - $68.95
The nose is highly aromatic with complex notes of nutty, honey, caramel and sweet spice aromas. On the smooth medium-to-full bodied palate, it shows many of the same aromas in a nicely balanced, sweet package that continues through to a slightly spiced mid-palate. The finish length is excellent and shows hints of raisin. Well balanced overall and consistently well-made, year after year. Readily available in VINTAGES. Score: 92 pts

Taylor Fladgate 20 Year Old Tawny Port - Douro, Portugal (92 pts)

Highly aromatic nose of caramel, honey and some orange citrus. It's medium-to-full bodied with a silky mouthfeel and some very nice aroma replays. The mid-palate has some mildly spiced notes to add complexity. Very good length on the finish. Contact Fine Wines of Portugal to order. Score: 91 pts

Esporão Quinta dos Murças 10 Year Old Tawny Port - Douro, Portugal (91 pts)

WARRE'S OTIMA 10 YEAR OLD TAWNY PORT - Douro, Portugal (#566174) (S) (500mL) - $21.95
Burnt nose featuring complex aromas of orange, caramel, maple wood, burnt sugar and fig that follow through on the sweet, creamy palate joined by hints of fruitcake and more nuttiness. The finish is long and smooth. Rather easy drinking and should have wide appeal. Readily available at the LCBO. Score: 90 pts

Warre's Otima 10 Year Old Tawny Port - Douro, Portugal (90 pts)

DFJ VINHOS ESCADA 2007 - DOC Douro, Portugal (XD)
Blend of Touriga Franca, Tinta Roriz, and Touriga Nacional that is highly aromatic with lovely violet, flowers, and sweet herbs notes that follow through to the medium-bodied palate. It has juicy acids, supple tannins, and a fine mineral streak on the long finish. Drink over the next 5-7 years. Contact Fine Wines of Portugal to order. Score: 91 pts

DFJ Vinhos Escada 2007 - DOC Douro, Portugal (91 pts)

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  • Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Senhora Do Convento Wine Tasting

Senhora Do Convento Port Wines
Last , I had the pleasure of tasting the wines of Senhora Do Convento with Donald Ziraldo and his Victoria. Included in this tasting were 3 red table wines, followed by a Ruby Port and Tawny Port (both of which are readily available at the LCBO). We ended the casual walk-around tasting with a pair of aged Tawny Ports, followed by a pair of Vintage Ports.

Fine Port wines have been produced at the Senhora Do Convento property in Tavora, Portugal, within the heart of the Douro Valley, for the past 9 centuries and continues to this day. The impressive 12th Century Monastery still stands on the 150 hectare property that overlooks a 27 hectare vineyard where the grapes for fine wine were originally grown by Cistercian monks.

Besides growing grapes, the large property also has numerous almond, quince, cherry, peach, orange and fig trees along with the woods of chestnut, cork, wild cherry, oak and pine trees, many of which were planted by the Cistercian monks ages ago.

In 2006, a state-of-the-art gravity flow winery was built adjacent to the monastery to produce fine Port and table wines.

If you're new to port wine, you should find out your Port Personality on SDC's website where you can learn more about their entry-level Ruby and Tawny Ports. You will also find interesting cocktail recipes using these two port wines.

One of the most interesting things that Victoria spoke to me about was the romantic legend of Ardinia at the monastery. The love story begins with Ardinia attempting to flee to the monastery to be with her love and also convert to Christianity. Unfortunately for Ardinia, her dream was not realized as her father followed her to the monastery one day and in his rage beheaded his daughter. There have been rumours of a lady dressed in white lace known to make an appearance to the men who arrive on site. Strange sounds and objects being shifted have also been reported over the years.

The next time I visit Portugal, I am definitely making a point to visit Senhora Do Convento, and if courage allows, spend a night on the property.

Thank you to Eurovintage, Donald and Victoria for the opportunity to taste these wines. Full wine reviews of all the wines tasted are provided below. A couple of these wines are available at the LCBO, while the remainder can be purchased through Eurovintage.

Tasting Notes:

Senhora Do Convento Douro Red 2012 - Douro, Portugal (88 pts)Senhora Do Convento Aguias 2012 - Douro, Portugal (87 pts)Quinta Do Convento 2009 - DOC Douro, Portugal (90+ pts)

SENHORA DO CONVENTO DOURO RED 2012 - Douro, Portugal (XD) - $18.95
Medium+ intensity aromas of oak spice, red fruits, spices, herbs and a hint of lavender. Soft, integrated tannins on the medium+ bodied palate with nice aroma replays. Good acids. Bitter on the medium-to-long finish. Blend of Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca, and Tinta Roriz. Score: 88 pts

SENHORA DO CONVENTO AGUIAS 2012 - Douro, Portugal (XD) - $39.95
All estate fruit. Nose somewhat closed but showed black cherry, blackberry and vanillan oak aromas which echoed on the soft, rounded palate. It has balanced acids and a lengthy finish. Score: 87 pts

QUINTA DO CONVENTO 2009 - DOC Douro, Portugal (XD) - $24.95
A blend of 25-year-old Touriga Nacional and 22-year-old Tinta Roriz, both from schist soils, and Touriga Franca from granitic soils. Pleasing, elegant nose showing good savoury/fruit balance with notes of tilled earth, forest floor, dark berry, cherry and spice aromas. The palate is medium-bodied with nice aroma replays and a mineral component. It is well-balanced with tannins nicely integrated, good structure and balanced acidity. The smooth finish is very long. Score: 90+ pts

SDC RUBY PORT - Portugal (#398230) (S) - $16.95
Pleasing aromas of ripe berries, blackberry jam, and some herbal complexity that follow through on the sweet palate. Soft mouthfeel, smooth with some alcohol heat on the long finish. Score: 87 pts

SDC Ruby Port - Portugal (87 pts)SDC Tawny Port - Portugal (86 pts)

SDC TAWNY PORT - Portugal (#398248) (S) - $16.95
Highly aromatic and perfumed nose with dried fig, raisin, caramel, brown sugar, vanilla and cherry notes with nice, sweet flavour replays. The medium-bodied palate become a touch hot mid-palate. The finish length is very good with spice and hazelnut flavours. Score: 86 pts

SENHORA DO CONVENTO 10 YEAR TAWNY PORT - Douro, Portugal (#298554) (MS) - $19.95
Golden amber colour. Medium-to-high aromatics of butter caramel, dried cherry, brown sugar, fig and woody notes. On the palate, it's medium-bodied and quite sweet with wood, mineral, butter caramel and vanilla flavours. It has good acidity and a very good length on the finish. Score: 88 pts

Senhora Do Convento 10 Year Tawny Port - Douro, Portugal (88 pts)Senhora Do Convento 20 Year Tawny Port - Douro, Portugal (89 pts)

SENHORA DO CONVENTO 20 YEAR TAWNY PORT - Douro, Portugal (S) - $29.95
Golden amber colour. Highly aromatic nose featuring burnt caramel, brown sugar, and vanilla. The palate is medium+ bodied with hints of Meyer lemon and spice to go along with echoes from the aroma profile. Good, crisp finish. Score: 89 pts

SENHORA DO CONVENTO VINTAGE PORT 2009 - Douro, Portugal (S) - $28.95
Deep, dark red, almost black colour. Medium+ intensity aromas of cherry, red berry compote, subtle oak spice and some tartness on the nose. It's full-bodied with lovely cherry liquer and black cherry flavours. Smooth with balanced acids and a finish that goes on and on. Score: 91 pts

Senhora Do Convento Vintage Port 2009 - Douro, Portugal (91 pts)Senhora Do Convento Vintage Port 2011 - Douro, Portugal (92 pts)

SENHORA DO CONVENTO VINTAGE PORT 2011 - Douro, Portugal (S) - $89.95
Dark red colour. Medium+ intensity nose of blackberry liquer, dark cherry and some white pepper spice. On the palate, it's full-bodied with very nice, balanced aroma replays and subtle oak spice. Excellent alcohol, fruit, oak, acid and tannin balance. Smooth, lingering finish. Very good structure will allow this port to age for 20 years. Score: 92 pts

Victoria and Donald Ziraldo with Tom Noitsis

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  • Monday, November 3, 2014

Nov. 8 LCBO Wine Picks: Fine Holiday Wines + Ports

LCBO Wine Picks from November 8, 2014 VINTAGES Release
The next LCBO VINTAGES release will be in stores across Ontario this weekend - on . As we get into the holiday season, the releases seem to getting bigger and feature more higher priced wines - this release is no exception. This release is titled "Uncork the Season" and features many fine holiday wines as part of the major theme. The secondary theme features some very fine Port wines.

From the holiday-themed wines, 32 wines. Included among my wine picks is a 750 mL, as well as a conveniently-sized 375 mL, Champagne from Bollinger. There are also 2 elegantly oaked Chardonnays from Hidden Bench and Louis Latour. A 2001 Rioja from Ontanon is 95% Tempranillo and 5% Graciano, and at 13 years old is ready to drink now, but can be further cellared until the end of this decade. A pair of California red blends also made my list of wine picks - the exceptional L'Aventure is a blend of 50% Syrah, 33% Cab Sauv, and 17% Petit Verdot, while the Jonata Todos Red is 78% Syrah, 8% Sangiovese and 8 grapes making up the rest.

Dow's Late Bottled Vintage Port 2009 from DOC Douro, Portugal
Of the 6 Port wines featured, I can recommend 4 of them, which vary in price from $15.95 up to $70. At the low end is a sweet White Port from Taylor Fladgate that is made using local, classic Port grape varieties. White Ports are aged for 2-3 years in large oak vats prior to bottling. A little less sweet is the Dow's Late Bottled Vintage Port, a wine that has been aged between 4-6 years after harvest. Next is the 1995 Dalva Colheita Port - this wine has been aging in large oak barrels since harvest in 1995, until it was bottled earlier this year and arriving on our shores this weekend. A real treat! Lastly, the Sandeman Vintage Port hails from an exceptional 2011 vintage, bottled in 2013 and will last for decades. The Sandeman name certainly brings back some fond memories of when I visited this winery back in the summer of 2005.

From the rest of the release, there is an interesting Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot/Petit Verdot/Malbec blend from Mexico, and a predominantly Sangiovese blend from Le Pupille. The Orestiadi is a blend of mostly Nero d'Avola, with some Cabernet Sauvignon added to finalize the blend. The Crianza is mostly Tempranillo, while the Hidden Bench Meritage is dominated by Merlot, with 19% Cabernet Franc, 16% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 12% Malbec added in support.

Including this release, there are only 4 more VINTAGES releases remaining in 2014, so you may want to start your holiday shopping now! Enjoy my wine recommendations for this week!

Red Wine:
  • CASAS DEL BOSQUE RESERVA CARMENÈRE 2012 - Rapel Valley, Chile (#205872) (XD) - $14.95
  • MENGUANTE SELECCIÓN GARNACHA 2008 - DOP Cariñena, Spain (#313833) (XD) - $16.95
  • L.A. CETTO DON LUIS SELECCIÓN RESERVADA TERRA 2010 - Baja California, Mexico (#388520) (XD) - $19.95
  • ORESTIADI LUDOVICO 2008 - IGT Rosso Sicilia, Italy (#388645) (XD) - $19.95
  • HERMANOS PECIÑA SEÑORÍO DE P. PECIÑA CRIANZA 2009 - DOCa Rioja, Spain (#313726) (XD) - $21.95
  • HIDDEN BENCH TERROIR CACHÉ MERITAGE 2010 - VQA Beamsville Bench, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#505610) (XD) - $38.20  reviewed here
  • ONTANON GRAN RESERVA 2001 - DOCa Rioja, Spain (#939736) (XD) - $39.95
  • L’AVENTURE OPTIMUS 2011 - Paso Robles, California, USA (#683409) (XD) - $63.95  reviewed here
  • LE VIEUX DONJON CHÂTEAUNEUF-DU-PAPE 2012 - AC, Rhône, France (#700922) (XD) - $63.95
  • JONATA TODOS RED 2010 - Santa Ynez Valley, Santa Barbara County, California, USA (#218941) (XD) - $67.95

White Wine:
  • MENADE VERDEJO 2013 - DO Rueda, Spain (#392159) (XD) - $16.95
  • FEATHERSTONE BLACK SHEEP RIESLING 2013 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#080234) (M) - $16.95
  • PETER ZEMMER PINOT GRIGIO 2013 - DOC Alto Adige, Italy (#095802) (XD) - $17.95
  • MOMO SAUVIGNON BLANC 2013 - Marlborough, South Island, New Zealand (#009167) (XD) - $17.95
  • WYNNS COONAWARRA ESTATE CHARDONNAY 2013 - Coonawarra, South Australia (#468728) (XD) - $17.95
  • RENÉ MURÉ SIGNATURE GEWÜRZTRAMINER 2012 - AC Alsace, France (#387563) (XD) - $21.95
  • JEAN-MARC BROCARD SAINTE CLAIRE VIEILLES VIGNES CHABLIS 2013 - AC, Burgundy, France (#329995) (XD) - $24.95  reviewed here
  • HIDDEN BENCH CHARDONNAY 2012 - VQA Beamsville Bench, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#068817) (XD) - $28.95  reviewed here
  • LOUIS LATOUR EN CARADEUX PERNAND-VERGELESSES 1 ER CRU 2011 - AC, Burgundy, France (#390500) (XD) - $44.95
  • LE CLOS JORDANNE LE GRAND CLOS CHARDONNAY 2011 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Twenty Mile Bench, Ontario, Canada (#034561) (XD) - $65.00

Sparkling Wine:
  • TAWSE SPARK LIMESTONE RIDGE RIESLING SPARKLING WINE 2012 - VQA Twenty Mile Bench, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#370361) (D) - $19.95  reviewed here
  • BOLLINGER SPECIAL CUVÉE BRUT CHAMPAGNE - AC, Champagne, France (#234104) (D) (375 mL) - $43.95
  • BOLLINGER SPECIAL CUVÉE BRUT CHAMPAGNE - AC, Champagne, France (#384529) (XD) - $75.95

  • TAYLOR FLADGATE FINE WHITE PORT - DOC Douro, Portugal (#069856) (S) - $15.95
  • DOW’S LATE BOTTLED VINTAGE PORT 2009 - DOC Douro, Portugal (#613927) (MS) - $17.95  reviewed here
  • DALVA COLHEITA PORT 1995 - Btld. 2014, DOC Douro, Portugal (#069930) (S) - $32.95
  • SANDEMAN VINTAGE PORT 2011 - DOC Douro, Portugal (#362491) (MS) - $70.00

Dessert Wine:
  • DE BORTOLI NOBLE ONE BOTRYTIS SEMILLON 2011 - Riverina, New South Wales, Australia (#917252) (S) (375 mL) - $31.95 limited qty vintages flagship

The rest of the wines from this release can be found here.

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  • Monday, September 22, 2014

Sept. 27 LCBO Wine Picks: Pioneers + Portugal

LCBO Wine Picks from September 27, 2014 VINTAGES Release
The next LCBO Vintages release will be on shelves this . The main focus of this release is titled "Breaking Ground" and highlights top wines from 11 pioneers from the world of wine. The mini-feature of this release is on wines from Portugal.

Of the eight wines from Portugal, just one made my list of wine picks. The red wine from Quinta de Pancas is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon and hails from the DOC Lisboa, a region that until 2009 was formerly known as Estremadura. This is a wine you'll want to cellar for at least a couple of years. A brief mention in this section points you to the back of the magazine, where a stellar selection of Vintage Ports from the outstanding 2011 vintage can be found. These Port wines will easily last 30 years, and are available in limited quantities throughout the province. If you had a child born in 2011, get one and open it to celebrate their 30th birthday!

From the "Breaking Ground" section, there are four wines that caught my attention. First up is the Catena Alta Malbec by Nicolas Catena - a man who pioneered winemaking in high-altitude vineyards, as well as helped develop the premium wine scene in Argentina. Next is John Shafer of Shafer Vineyards who helped pioneer the big, burly California Cabs from challenging hillside vines. However, it's his Red Shoulder Ranch Chardonnay (barrel-fermented using wild yeasts, and partially aged in French oak) that I am recommending. In South Africa, Tim Hamilton Russell pioneered the idea that South Africa could produce quality wines from cool-climate varietals - and he was right! His Pinot Noir in this release is from Hemel-en-Aarde Valley, a wine region that is considered to be cool-climate. Lastly, "Breaking Ground" in the case of Rockway Vineyards in Niagara literally meant that - with a wine museum, gourmet dining and a golf course adjacent to the winery boosting local wine tourism in the region. Their 2011 Small Lot Meritage (38% Cab Sauv, 38% Cab Franc, and 24% Merlot) is featured in this weekend's Vintages release.

From the rest of the release, the Domaine Lafage is an 80/20 Grenache/Syrah blend, while the Domaine des Andrines also contains Syrah & Grenache. Also from Rhône is the Domaine Brusset, consisting of 65% Grenache, 15% Syrah, 15% Mourvèdre, and 5% Cinsault. From Spain, the Vizcarra (100% Tempranillo) returns one year later with another year of development under its belt. The last of the reds is an SGM from John Duval that blends 48% Shiraz, 31% Grenache, 21% Mourvèdre.

In white wines, the off-dry (i.e. slightly sweet) Vouvray from Clos le Vigneau and is 100% Chenin Blanc. Sweet wine lovers can once again look to Riesling to satisfy their sweet tooth, but should also check out the Port wines for maximum enjoyment.

Enjoy my wine recommendations for this week. Cheers!

Red Wine:
  • DOMAINE LAFAGE VIGNES MAGIQUES GRENACHE/SYRAH 2011 - Lieu-dit La Pantaline, AP, Midi, France (#383752) (XD) - $17.95
  • DOMAINE DES ANDRINES CÔTES DU RHÔNE 2012 - AC, Rhône, France (#380592) (XD) - $17.95
  • QUINTA DE PANCAS SELECÇÃO DO ENÓLOGO 2010 - DOC Lisboa, Portugal (#380931) (XD) - $18.95
  • ROCKWAY ESTATE SMALL LOT MERITAGE 2011 - VQA Twenty Mile Bench, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#388264) (XD) - $19.95
  • VENTISQUERO GREY SINGLE BLOCK CARMENÈRE 2011 - Trinidad Vineyard, Maipo Valley, Chile (#325415) (XD) - $19.95  reviewed here
  • BODEGAS VIZCARRA JC VIZCARRA 2010 - DO Ribera del Duero, Spain (#214650) (XD) - $30.95
  • HAMILTON RUSSELL PINOT NOIR 2012 - WO Hemel-en-Aarde Valley, Walker Bay, South Africa (#999516) (D) - $44.95
  • CATENA ALTA MALBEC 2011 - Mendoza, Argentina (#982355) (XD) - $49.95
  • JOHN DUVAL PLEXUS SHIRAZ/GRENACHE/MOURVÈDRE 2009 - Barossa Valley, South Australia (#073049) (XD) - $49.95

White Wine:
  • HENRY OF PELHAM ESTATE RIESLING 2012 - VQA Short Hills Bench, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#557165) (M) - $17.95
  • BABICH BLACK LABEL SAUVIGNON BLANC 2013 - Marlborough, South Island, New Zealand (#009142) (XD) - $17.95
  • LAWSON’S DRY HILLS SAUVIGNON BLANC 2013 - Marlborough, South Island, New Zealand (#214460) (XD) - $18.95
  • DEU LA DEU ALVARINHO VINHO VERDE 2013 - Monção e Melgaço, DOC, Portugal (#040642) (XD) - $19.95
  • CLOS LE VIGNEAU VOUVRAY 2012 - AC, Loire, France (#318840) (D) - $19.95
  • SOUTHBROOK TRIOMPHE SAUVIGNON BLANC 2013 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#117556) (XD) - $21.95  reviewed here
  • QUAILS’ GATE CHARDONNAY 2012 - VQA Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, Canada (#377770) (XD) - $21.95
  • TEGERNSEERHOF SMARAGD BERGDISTEL GRÜNER VELTLINER 2012 - Wachau, Austria (#377606) (XD) - $24.95
  • WEGELER RÜDESHEIMER BERG SCHLOSSBERG RIESLING KABINETT 2012 - Rheingau, Germany (#378083) (M) - $25.95  reviewed here
  • JEAN-MARC BROCARD VAU DE VAY CHABLIS 1 ER CRU 2012 - AC, Burgundy, France (#159012) (XD) - $29.95
  • SHAFER RED SHOULDER RANCH CHARDONNAY 2012 - Carneros, Napa Valley, California, USA (#045583) (XD) - $67.95

  • PILLITTERI CABERNET SAUVIGNON ICEWINE 2011 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#589093) (S) (200 mL) - $34.95  reviewed here

  • COCKBURN’S VINTAGE PORT 2011 - DOC Duoro, Portugal (#362251) (MS) - $80.00
  • QUINTA DO NOVAL VINTAGE PORT 2011 - DOC Duoro, Portugal (#362525) (MS) - $90.00
  • TAYLOR FLADGATE VINTAGE PORT 2011 - DOC Duoro, Portugal (#362293) (MS) - $130.00  also available in 375mL and 1500mL

The rest of the wines from this release can be found here.

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  • Wednesday, September 3, 2014

KWV Wines Tasting with Izele van Bierk

Izele van Bierk, Winemaker at KWV
On , I had the pleasure of attending the KWV Wines tasting at the iYellow Wine Cave. Coming all the way from South Africa to attend and host this special event was winemaker at KWV Wines - Izele van Bierk.

KWV (Ko-operatieve Wijnbouwers Verenigingvan Zuid Afrika) Wines is one of South Africa's largest wine & spirits producers. It has a long and rich history dating back to 1918 - the same year Nelson Mandela was born - when it was first registered as a company. KWV was formed with the aim of stabilising, supporting, and structuring a young, struggling industry.

KWV Wines - Proud Pioneers
In 1924, the KWV Act is passed in parliament and certain administrative responsibilities as well as the position of sole exporter and importer of surplus alcohol are handed to the association. In 1949, the Roodeberg brand of wine of born and is now one of KWV's most celebrated brands.

KWV also played a vital role in establishing the South African Brandy Foundation in 1984.

In all, there were 10 wines and one Brandy available for tasting. Below, you will find wine reviews of a few wines that I enjoyed on this night. Included among them is one of Izele's favourites - the Roodeberg Red, which I poured at a party recently and it went over really well with guests.

Tasting Notes:
KWV CATHEDRAL CELLAR BRUT MÉTHODE CAP CLASSIQUE SPARKLING 2010 - WO Western Cape, South Africa (#296426) (D) - $16.95
Cap Classique is South Africa's designation for sparkling wines made using the Traditional Method. Blend of 78% Chardonnay and 22% Pinot Noir and highly aromatic nose showing toastiness, lees and bread. Medium-bodied with a hint of sweetness and flavours of green apple and lime cordial. Fine mousse and finishing medium-long. In Vintages with high availability. Score: 88+ pts

KWV CATHEDRAL CELLAR CHARDONNAY 2013 - WO Western Cape, South Africa (#328559) (XD) - $15.95
Low nose featuring butter, apple and orchard fruits. Medium-bodied with a chalky texture on the palate. Flavours mimic the aromas and are joined by minerality, toasty oak and spice notes. Bright acids and long finishing. Quite easy drinking. In Vintages with high availability. Score: 88 pts

KWV ROODEBERG RED 2012 - WO Western Cape, South Africa (#007187) (XD) - $12.45
Blend of 61% Cab Sauv, 11% Shiraz, 10% Merlot and 18% Other. Medium intensity aromas of blackberry, cherry and dark fruits. Medium-bodied and lush on the concentrated palate with crunchy tannins. Pepper, toasty oak, dark cherry and plum flavour profile. Made in a crowd-pleasing style and can be cellared 2-3 years. LCBO General List product and quite available. Score: 88+ pts

Wine Review of 2012 KWV Roodeberg Red from WO Western Cape, South Africa

KWV THE MENTORS CHENIN BLANC 2012 - WO Coastal Region, South Africa (#) (XD) - $24.95
Highly aromatic with leesy, herbal and slight earthy nose. Low-to-medium bodied palate with refreshingly dry, lime, lemon peel and some mineral flavours. Chalky texture with mouth-watering acids. Excellent finish that is long and smooth. Score: 91 pts

Wine Review of 2012 KWV The Mentors Chenin Blanc from WO Coastal Region, South Africa

KWV THE MENTORS CANVAS 2011 - WO Coastal Region, South Africa (#348839) (XD) - $24.95
Blend of 63% Shiraz, 18% Tempranillo, 10% Mourvèdre and 9% Grenache. Aromas are of medium intensity and feature peppercorn, blackberry, oak and hints of earth & barnyard. On the palate, it`s full-bodied with green pepper, earth, oak and sweet ripe fruit flavours. Mouth-watering acids and smooth, integrated tannins that ride the long finish. Score: 90 pts

Wine Review of 2011 KWV The Mentors Canvas from WO Coastal Region, South Africa

KWV PAARL CAPE RUBY - WO Western Cape, South Africa (#028951) (S) - $9.95
Non-Vintage port-style wine that offers medium+ intensity aromas with prune, dried fig, caramel and nutty notes. On the palate, it's medium-bodied and very sweet with flavours of oak spice, caramel and nut. Finish is long, spiced and a touch hot. A good, everyday Port-style wine that is part of LCBO General List and widely available Score: 88 pts

Wine Review of KWV Paarl Cape Ruby from WO Western Cape, South Africa

iYellow Wine Cave

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  • Saturday, May 12, 2012

Hardys Winemakers Dinner and Wine Walkthrough

Hardys Logo I had the opportunity to attend a Winemakers Dinner and Wine Walkthrough hosted at the Edward Day Gallery by Bill Hardy, the great grandson of Hardys founder - Thomas Hardy.

I arrived early and had the chance to mingle before the festivities got started. While mingling and waiting for everyone to arrive, we were offered 'The Gamble' Chard Pinot Gris, which ended up being one of my favourites wines of the evening. It was a rather small, intimate crowd (which I enjoyed) that also allowed everyone to meet and chat with Bill for a few moments. Overall, the event was well organized and executed. Quality and portions of both the food and wine were just right!

Here are my full reviews of the wine and food pairings:

Label photo of Hardys Chronicles 'The Gamble' Chardonnay Pinot Gris 2011HARDYS CHRONICLES 'THE GAMBLE' CHARDONNAY PINOT GRIS 2011 - South Australia (#219147) (D) - $15.05
Served to open the evening as people walked in and played the part very well with very smooth with apple, pear, citrus notes, mingling with peach aromas and flavours. Some earthy notes. Medium bodied wine with a medium-length finish that would make a very good appetizer wine. Yummy. Part of the LCBO General List and always available.

HARDYS HRB CHARDONNAY D648 2009 - Pemberton & Adelaide Hills (XD) - $29.95
Lots of butter, apple, citrus with some oak notes. Smooth, full bodied with fine seam of acidity. Long finish. Tasty.

Paired quite nicely with seared scallops, braised leeks, fricasse of baby spring vegetables and saffron cream. Coming to VINTAGES in .

Label photo of Hardys HRB Chardonnay D648 2009 from Pemberton & Adelaide Hills

EILEEN HARDY CHARDONNAY 2009 - Tasmania (#500991) (XD) - $59.95
Nutty, hazelnut, earth, oak aromas and flavours with touch of barnyard on the finish. Extremely smooth, medium-bodied with a very long finish. Excellent.

Paired with lobster poached in lemongrass consommé, Napa cabbage, orange-ruby grapefruit salad and toasted hazelnuts. This pairing was exquisite as the toasted hazelnuts really brought out the nutty flavours of this white wine. Unfortunately not currently available.

Lobster poached in lemongrass consomméLabel photo of Eileen Hardy Chardonnay 2009 from Tasmania

HARDYS CHRONICLES 'BUTCHERS GOLD' SHIRAZ SANGIOVESE 2008 - South Australia (#219139) (XD) - $15.05
Aromas of plum, raisin, currant, oak, sour cherry with nuances of mint. Plum, fruit forward with ripe fruit on the palate. Ripe tannins for drinking now. I would serve this slightly chilled.

HARDYS HRB SHIRAZ D641 2007 - McLaren Vale & Clare Valley (XD) - $34.95
Bright and minty, licorice, pepper with red fruit aromas. Dark fruits and herbal pepper notes on the palate balanced by oak. Good amount of tannin for ageing another 3-5 years. Full-bodied with a long finish. Yum.

The above two red wines were paired with a lamb duo of roasted loin and braised shank, cherry-infused lamb jus, whipped mash potatoes, and baby carrot. I thought the Shiraz Sangiovese was a bit weak for the gamey lamb flavours, while the HRB Shiraz, with it's full body and integrated tannins was well suited. The Shiraz Sangiovese is always available as in LCBO General List, while the HRB Shiraz will be coming to VINTAGES on .

Lamb Duo and Hardys Chronicles 'Butchers Gold' Shiraz Sangiovese 2008 from South AustraliaLabel photo of Hardys HRB Shiraz D641 2007 from McLaren Vale & Clare Valley

EILEEN HARDY SHIRAZ 2005 - McLaren Vale (#461368) (XD) - $89.95
Big, Australian fruit bomb with an explosion of red and black fruit aromas and flavours. Some mintyness arrives towards the finish. Still evident tannins will reward another 2-3 years ageing, or decant prior to serving today.

Served with a cheese plate featuring cheddar, melted brie(?) and a too-salty blue cheese. I would've preferred this wine with a chicken dish, as opposed to a cheese plate. If you like big, fruit bombs, you will enjoy this one.

Cheese plateLabel photo of Eileen Hardy Shiraz 2005 from McLaren Vale

Peach, caramel, nuts, raisin and plum aromas. Dried raisin, caramel and peach flavours on the palate. Medium-viscosity. Should be served well-chilled to tone down the alcohol. Quite nice.

This Fortified wine is not available in Ontario (and possibly Canada), so it was a real treat to taste this with Pear Beignet, espresso-chocolate sauce, and hazelnut-sun dried cherry praline.

Pear Beignet with Espresso-Chocolate SauceLabel photo of Hardys Whisker's Blake Tawny

Bill Hardy and myself

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  • Monday, January 2, 2012

Smart Buys: Jan. 7 LCBO Vintages Wine Picks

It's been 1 year since I began this blog and I have enjoyed every moment. A BIG THANK YOU to all of my growing number of supporters and followers - you mean a lot to me! If you're enjoying my posts, send me note. If you think I can do better in some aspect, let me know! I would love to hear from you.

Without further ado, here are my wine picks for the first Vintages release of 2012 to help you replenish your wine stocks that may have been depleted over the holidays.

The annual "Smart Buys" release will be out in LCBO stores on . I had difficulty paring down my picks as there were lots of good "value wines".

Among the reds, the Jip Jip Rocks Shiraz made my picks at least once in 2011, but I never purchased it. This time, I think I will. If you're looking to cellar something for a few years, go for the LaGrange (Bordeaux). I purchased the 1999 vintage Cappellaccio back in 2004, and recall it being quite good. The 2005 appears just as tempting.

In whites, try something new & sweet with the Huxelrebe grape from Germany. Something a little less sweet is the outstanding Hinterbrook Riesling that won Gold at the 2011 All Canadian Wine Championships. Even drier are the Calamus Cosmic White and the Stephansberg Riesling. If you want something bone dry, the Chablis is your best bet among my picks.

If you're into Ports, the vintage Fonseca/Zeller offers outstanding value and is definitely one to try. Enjoy my wine picks this week and beyond into 2012!

Red Wine:
  • JIP JIP ROCKS SHIRAZ 2009 - Padthaway, South Australia, Australia (#673897) (D) - $16.95
  • RIVERA CAPPELLACCIO RISERVA AGLIANICO 2005 - DOC Castel del Monte, Puglia, Italy (#984120) (XD) - $18.95
  • CHÂTEAU LA CROIX DE QUEYNAC 2009 - AC Bordeaux Supérieur, France (#138636) (XD) - $14.95
  • CHÂTEAU LAGRANGE 2008 - AC Lussac Saint-Émilion, Bordeaux, France (#230391) (XD) - $19.95
  • URBAN UCO MALBEC/TEMPRANILLO 2010 - Uco Valley, Mendoza, Argentina (#166397) (XD) - $13.95

White Wine:
  • HINTERBROOK RIESLING 2010 - VQA Niagara Lakeshore, Ontario, Canada (#270512) (MD) - $17.95
  • ANSELMANN HUXELREBE AUSLESE 2009 - Pfalz, Germany (#681445) (MS) - $17.95
  • CALAMUS COSMIC WHITE 2009 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#255893) (D) - $14.95
  • DOMAINE HUBERT REYSER STEPHANSBERG RIESLING 2008 - AC Alsace, France (#118240) (D) - $19.95
  • DOMAINE DU CHARDONNAY CHABLIS 2009 - AC, Burgundy, France (#183574) (XD) - $19.95

Port Wine:
  • JOSÉ MARIA DA FONSECA & VAN ZELLER VINTAGE PORT 2003 - DOC Douro, Btld. 2005, Portugal (#638924) (S) - $19.95

Full list of wines from the Jan. 7 release is here.

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  • Thursday, October 20, 2011

Douro & Port Wine Tasting in Toronto

Earlier this week, I attended the IVDP wine tasting event in downtown Toronto. This event featured many Ports and Douros commonly found in the LCBO general list, as well as a few from the Vintages section. Some wines could only be purchase by direct order only. I was excited to find out that some wines (which are currently not available at the LCBO) were being tasted in the coming days for possible inclusion in a future Vintages release.

About 75% of the wines available for tasting were Port, and most of the remainder were dry red table wines; only a handful of white table wines were available for tasting. There was also a selection of cheeses & crackers, fruits and a delicious tray of dark chocolate truffles that go perfectly with Port.

The music from the female DJ got better as the evening progressed - I found myself bobbing my head quite a bit to the electro-tech-house tunes.

Photo Courtesy of @TylerOnWine
In all, I tasted 18 wines (and, yes, I did spit out good wine). If you're not into Port and would like to get a nice introduction, I would highly recommend the Cálem or the Warre's Otima (both reviewed below). Here are some of my tasting notes:

Red Wine:
Red fruit aromas and cherry, blackberry flavours. Tannins present for ageing. Medium-full bodied. Looking forward to when this bottle is available in stores.

Prune, dark fruit aromas. Palate consists of dark fruits. Chalky tannins need more time to develop.

Dark berry, oak and currant aromas all follow through on palate. A little strong on the alcohol.

VEEDHA DOURO RED 2008 - DOC (#255851) (D) - $12.95
Red fruits, pepper, spice, herbs on the palate. Ripe fruit and ready to drink now.

Port Wine:
CÁLEM FINE WHITE PORT (#224568) (S) - $13.95
Honey, caramel aromas and flavours. Very smooth and syrupy. Reminds me of a Vidal Icewine. Delicious!

WARRE'S OTIMA 10 YEAR OLD TAWNY PORT (#566174) (S) - $21.95
Honey and caramel fill your senses. Smooth. Well made and highly recommended.

TAYLOR FLADGATE 30 YEAR OLD TAWNY (#540252) (S) - $183.95
Burnt honey, caramel notes. Acidic finish requires this one to be slightly chilled prior to serving. Quite good.

Very sweet with aromas of crème caramel. Tasty. Alcoholic finish.

Smooth, caramel aromas and taste and very well-focused. Recommended.

Who else attended and what were your impressions?

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