Showing posts with label rioja. Show all posts
Showing posts with label rioja. Show all posts

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  • Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Rioja Bordón Reserva 2013 (Spain) - Wine Review



red wine review is a nice, consistently well-made Rioja from Spain that will be coming to LCBO VINTAGES on . I have tasted quite a few vintages of this wine and have enjoyed them all, including the 2012 Rioja Bordón Reserva late last year.

Rioja Bordón wines are produced by Bodegas Franco-Españolas, a winery that was founded in 1890 by Frenchman Frederick Anglade Saurat. It was borne out of a partnership between France and Spain at a time when France was attempting to replace their vineyards that were devastated by phylloxera. The winery was renamed to Rioja Bordón in the 1950's, and, today, the winery is in the hands of the 3rd generation of the Eguizábal family, which has been the owner since 1984.

Like previous years, the 2018 vintage of this red wine is a blend of 80% Tempranillo, 15% Garnacha Tinta, and 5% Mazuelo from grapes grown in the three sub-Rioja soil types - Rioja Alta, Rioja Alavesa and Rioja Oriental - on the north-facing foothills of the Sierra de la Demanda. After carefully selecting the fruit, the grapes are de-stemmed from the bunches and lightly pressed before undergoing alcoholic and malolactic fermentation. The wine is aged for 18 months in white American (Ohio) and French oak barrels.

In addition to this Reserva, their lovely 2009 Rioja Bordón Gran Reserva will be coming to LCBO VINTAGES next month. Other wines from the Rioja Bordón lineup can be ordered through their agent, Churchill Cellars.

Rioja Bordón Reserva 2013 (89 pts)

Tasting Note:

RIOJA BORDÓN RESERVA 2013 - DOCa Rioja, Spain (#194753) (XD) - $20.95
The medium+ intensity nose is oak spice driven with savoury, Asian spices, dark red berry, dark currant, and whiffs of dried berry, chocolate and coffee notes. It's medium-full bodied on the structured palate with fresh, juicy acidity and drying tannins that still seem a bit tight. Savoury, sweet oak spices, and red cherry flavours, along with some chocolate and toffee notes carry through to the long finish. Enjoy over the next 4-5 years. Score: 89 pts


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  • Thursday, May 14, 2020

LAN Crianza 2016 (Spain) - Wine Review

wine review is a lovely Rioja from Spain that is a VINTAGES Essentials product and widely available at LCBO outlets across Ontario. It is also available for online ordering with the option to pick-up in-store or have it delivered to your nearest Canada Post office.

As of 2012, Bodegas LAN (which takes its name from the three provinces that make up Rioja - Logroño, Alava, and Navarra) became part of the Sogrape group of wines, but it was founded in 1972 and has over 108 hectares of vineyards in Rioja and Rias Baixas and wine production facilities in both regions. The main vineyard is their historic 72 hectare Viña Lanciano that sits along the Ebro River and on the border between Rioja Alta and Rioja Alavesa. It is a privileged location that is sheltered by the Cantabria Mountains, creating different microclimates in each of its 22 parcels, and where they respect the logical balance of nature through sustainable vine growing.

This red wine is the most famous from Bodegas LAN and best reflects their innovations in barrel ageing. With this wine two decades ago, they started using hybrid oak barrels that have French oak bases and American oak staves that contribute a unique mix of characters to the wine. The grapes for this wine come from selected vineyards in the Rioja Alta and Rioja Alavesa, where the age of the vines are between 10 and 20 years and raised on chalky-clay soils that are located on well-drained slopes with good sun exposure.

LAN Crianza 2016 (89 pts)

Tasting Note:

LAN CRIANZA 2016 - DOC Rioja, Spain (#166538) (XD) - $16.95
This Tempranillo was aged for 14 months in hybrid oak barrels and delivers a fragrant and nicely balanced savoury, earthy nose that mingles with sandalwood oak spice, red cherry, and dark berry aromas. It's medium-bodied on the palate with lovely savoury, sandalwood, and cherry flavour replays, plus some coconut notes. Acids are juicy and well-balanced, while smooth tannins are dry and dusty. Earthy and savoury notes linger on the long finish. Recommended buy. Score: 89 pts


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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
  • DOMAINE MAZILLY PÈRE & FILS CLOS DU BOIS PRÉVOT BOURGOGNE HAUTES-CÔTES DE BEAUNE 2017 - AC, Burgundy, France (#11904) (XD) - $28.95
  • 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

Fortified:

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


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  • Monday, January 13, 2020

Olarra Clásico Reserva 2009 (Spain) - Wine Review

After enjoying the recent string of lovely wines from Bodegas Olarra Group, for wine review I dive into my cellar and open a 2009 Rioja that I purchased nearly 5 years ago from the LCBO VINTAGES Release.

This delicious red wine only appeared to show up at the LCBO once, but the latest vintage should be available via Charles Jewett at Trilogy Wine Merchants.

Olarra Clásico Reserva 2009 (90 pts)

Tasting Note:

OLARRA CLÁSICO RESERVA 2009 - DOCa Rioja, Spain (#423541) (XD) - $18.95
A blend of mostly Tempranillo with Grenache and Mazuelo (a.k.a. Carignan) in support, this has a generous bouquet of complex spices, fig, dried dark berry, floral pastille, sweet tobacco, and wood spice aromas rising out of the glass. It's medium-full bodied, mouthwatering and juicy on the palate with savoury, earthy, fig, dried berry, and tobacco flavours. A touch of alcoholic heat on the mid-palate, but otherwise quite balanced. Tannins are well-integrated with a nice chalky textured mouthfeel. Excellent finish length that is earthy and savoury with wood spice and tobacco notes. Should continue to drink well over the next 2-3 years. Score: 90 pts


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  • Friday, December 20, 2019

Valdebarón Reserva 2015 (Spain) - Wine Review

red wine arrived in LCBO VINTAGES back in in conjunction with the Rioja Revelation wine tasting event that took place in downtown Toronto. After enjoying a pair of wines from Bodegas Olarra recently, I am expecting this bottle to also be delicious.

It is produced by Bodegas Ondarre. which is part of Bodegas Olarra Group. Founded in 1985 in the town of Viana, located in the province of Navarre in northern Spain, Bodegas Ondarre was created with the aim of making wines that clearly reflect the personality of the town. The identity of Viana is defined by the diversity of soils and the distribution of the small, old vineyards located on the slopes which climb up towards the mountains. With low-yielding vines and careful selection of the grapes, Bodegas Ondarre produces wines that are a reflection of the terroir, which expresses itself through the climate, soil and the handiwork of man.

Bodegas Ondarre produces classic Rioja wines, as well as specific vineyard wines under the "Valdebarón" label from their estate in Viana. The Valdebarón Reserva Tinto is made with grapes from northwest Viana, where the complex and shallow soils are a mix of limestone, clay, loam, and chalk. There are twelve south-facing vineyards which are planted between 450 to 695 metres elevation on cliffs and slopes at the northern end of the Rioja valley. The average age of the vines is over 35 years. All of this helps produce their best quality Tempranillo and Mazuelo. The label of this red wine is rather interesting as it represents an aerial view of the two streams in the Valdebarón area of Viana, along with the location of the twelve vineyards that make up this wine.

While this bottle appears to be sold out at the LCBO, you can reach out to Charles Jewett at Trilogy Wine Merchants for availability.

Valdebarón Reserva 2015 (89 pts)

Tasting Note:

VALDEBARÓN RESERVA 2015 - DOCa Rioja, Spain (#011784) (XD) - $22.95
A blend of 90% Tempranillo and 10% Mazuelo from specific vineyards that was raised in Allier (French) and Missouri (American) casks for 18 months. Medium-high intensity aromatics are elegant and complex with notes of dark red berry, spice, licorice, and black plum accented by herbs, savoury, earthy, and mineral notes. It's medium-full bodied on the palate with ripe red berry, spice, and earthy flavours supported by fresh acidity and fine-grained tannins that have just a touch of grippy texture. Earthy and mineral notes linger on the long finish. Enjoy over the next 5-6 years. Score: 89 pts


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  • Monday, December 16, 2019

Olarra Erudito Reserva Especial 2015 (Spain) - Wine Review

After enjoying the 2010 Olarra Cerro Añon Gran Reserva over the weekend, wine review is another delicious offering from Bodegas Olarra Group. It arrived in LCBO VINTAGES on as a Flagship Store Exclusive, and small quantities are still available for purchase throughout Ontario.

The Erudito Reserva Especial, along with the Summa Reserva, are the top-tier, vineyard specific wines from Bodegas Olarra and are only made during exceptional vintages. The grapes for the Erudito come from a specially selected 12 hectare vineyard and are hand-harvested only when the grapes reach full maturity. It was vinified in small vats and fermented and aged on the lees. Further ageing occurred in new barrels for at least 18 months. Prior to bottling, in order to preserve the wine's unique character, it was left to settle without the use of any fining agents. Lastly, it spent a minimum of 18 months in the bottle cellar prior to release.

Olarra Erudito Reserva Especial 2015 (92 pts)

Tasting Note:

OLARRA ERUDITO RESERVA ESPECIAL 2015 - DOCa Rioja, Spain (#378885) (XD) - $39.95
A single-vineyard blend of 90% Tempranillo, 5% Graciano, 5% Mazuelo that delivers an elegant, fragrant and intense nose of blackberry, black cherry, red berry, spice, licorice and smoky mineral aromas. It is medium-full bodied with fresh, juicy acidity that coats the palate. Lovely aroma replays on the flavour profile are joined by tobacco notes that add further complexity. Dusty, fine-grained tannins gain grip on the mid-palate. Excellent length with mineral notes on the long, balanced, and succulent finish. Enjoy over the next 6-7 years. Score: 92 pts


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  • Friday, December 13, 2019

Olarra Cerro Añon Gran Reserva 2010 (Spain) - Wine Review

wine review is a delicious red wine that arrived in LCBO VINTAGES as part of the Rioja Revelation wine tasting event that took place in downtown Toronto back in .

It is produced by Bodegas Olarra Group, a winery with 40 years of experience that is also at the forefront of vinegrowing and winemaking in Spain. Bodegas Olarra was founded in 1970 and started by producing classically-styled Rioja wines which are only possible when proper and timely care is taken in the vineyards all throughout the year.

There have been many architectural feats in Rioja over the last 40 years. One of which is the building of Bodegas Olarra. It was designed by Juan Antonio Ridruejo in 1973 and inspired by and for wine. The most prominent feature of this building is the roof that crowns the underground barrel cellar (which holds 27,000 oak barrels) and is made up of 111 hexagonal domes that help prevent sharp changes in temperature.

The Cerro Añón range of wines are Bodegas Olarra's top range and are crafted based on Rioja’s long-standing tradition of combining grapes from different terroirs to create classically-styled wines of perfect assemblage. The grapes for this Gran Reserva primarily come from their vineyards in Rioja Alta, with a smaller portion coming from Rioja Alavesa. The average age of the vines is 30 years, and they sit on clay-rich soil in Rioja Alta, and on limestone-clay soils in Rioja Alavesa.

While this red wine quickly sold out soon after the Rioja Revelation tasting, a small number of cases may still be available through the agent, Trilogy Wine Merchants.

Olarra Cerro Añon Gran Reserva 2010 (90+ pts)

Tasting Note:

OLARRA CERRO AÑON GRAN RESERVA 2010 - DOCa Rioja, Spain (#190827) (XD) - $23
A blend of approximately 80% Tempranillo, 10% Mazuelo, 5% Garnacha, and 5% Graciano that was aged in Allier and Missouri oak barrels for 27 months in a mix of new and used oak, and spent another 45 months in bottle prior to release. Fairly intense aromatics lift out of the glass with savoury, wood spice and dried berry/cherry notes mingling with leather and raisin characters. The aromas come through on the firm, full-bodied palate with juicy, saliva-inducing acids. Well-knit tannins have a slightly chalky texture. Earthy, wood spice, and coffee notes linger on the long, dry finish. Approachable now, but will benefit from ageing and drink well over the next 6-7 years. Score: 90+ pts


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  • Friday, November 8, 2019

Marqués de Cáceres Excellens Cuvée Especial 2015 (Spain) - Wine Review

vegan-friendly red wine review is the Wine of the Month that just arrived at the LCBO as part of the LCBO VINTAGES Release.

It is produced by Marqués de Cáceres, one of more widely known Spanish producers with many of their wines available at the LCBO.

The grapes for this particular wine come from vineyards that are 20 to 35 years old and located in and around Cenicero in Rioja Alta from both higher and cooler parcels (600 metres altitude), as well as lower grounds (400 metres altitude). These vineyards are planted on gentle hillsides, as well as on the town's highest altitudes with steep inclines. Soil composition is mainly clay and limestone, with some parcels having more iron-rich subsoils.

It is interesting to note that 100% of the harvest was completed manually, parcel by parcel. In addition, grapes are only harvested after they reach maturity, meaning that they may have to return to some of the vineyards several times depending on the orientation of the vines or if these are planted at different altitudes prior to picking the grapes.

Marqués de Cáceres Excellens Cuvée Especial 2015 (87 pts)

Tasting Note:

MARQUÉS DE CÁCERES EXCELLENS CUVÉE ESPECIAL 2015 - Vegan friendly, DOCa Rioja, Spain (#010684) (XD) - $17.00
This Tempranillo spent 14 months in medium-toasted French oak barrels, and at least a further 12 months in bottle prior to release. This has a quiet nose that offers ripe red cherry, sweet vanillin oak, clove and plum aromas. It is full bodied with oak spice, clove, licorice, and tarry notes surrounding a core of dark cherry. There's juicy, food-friendly acidity, while tannins are firmly structured and chalky and could use a couple of years to soften. Wood spice and earthy notes linger on the finish, with very good length. Score: 87 pts


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  • Friday, October 11, 2019

Rioja Bordón Reserva 2012 (Spain) - Wine Review

The recent parade of Spanish Rioja wine reviews continues with wine that just arrived at the LCBO as part of this Saturday's LCBO VINTAGES Release and was also featured as part of the theme on Rioja wines.

It is produced by Bodegas Franco-Españolas and reminds me of the time almost to the day, when I had the pleasure of attending a fine vertical tasting of their Rioja Bordón Gran Reserva wines ranging in vintage from 1982 to 2009. Bodegas Franco-Españolas is one of the oldest and most prestigious wineries in Spain and is celebrating its 129th anniversary in this year.

The wine I opened tonight is a Reserva, a class of Spanish red wine that must be aged a minimum of three years with at least one year in oak barrels. The Rioja Bordón Reserva is aged in American (Ohio) and French oak barrels for 18 months and undergoes decanting every 6 months to facilitate a natural filtering process, then stays in bottle for further refinement. The grapes for this wine come from vineyards in Rioja Alta, Rioja Alavesa and Rioja Oriental which are north-facing in the foothills of the Sierra de la Demanda. According to winemaker Rubén Provedo, 2012 was a tough harvest in Rioja due to the drought which led to lower yields. However, the grapes reached the winery in excellent health and helped produce this wonderful Rioja wine.

Rioja Bordón Reserva 2012 (88 pts)

Tasting Note:

RIOJA BORDÓN RESERVA 2012 - DOCa Rioja, Spain (#194753) (D) - $19.95
This blend of 80% Tempranillo, 15% Garnacha Tinta, and 5% Mazuelo has a medium+ intensity nose that is oak-spiced followed by complex earthy, red cherry, mocha, and touches of grilled herb and licorice notes. It is medium bodied on the palate with gritty tannins and ripe flavours of candied-stewed cherry, oak spice, licorice, and cocoa. Acids are fresh and juicy. Smoky, oak spice and subtle sour cherry characters linger on the finish, with very good length. Score: 88 pts


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  • Wednesday, October 9, 2019

October 12, 2019 LCBO VINTAGES Release Wine Picks: Cabernet Sauvignon + Rioja

LCBO Wine Picks: October 12, 2019 VINTAGES Release
The main theme from the October 12, 2019 LCBO VINTAGES Release features Cabernet Sauvignon wines from around the globe, while the mini-theme focuses on food-friendly wines from Rioja. All of these wines, plus those from the main release will be available on VINTAGES shelves across Ontario by this Saturday. If you're looking for some great wines for holiday gift-giving, you should definitely consider some of the wines from this Release.

We'll begin with the main theme that focuses on the Red Giant - Cabernet Sauvignon varietal that is grown in many regions from Bordeaux to California. There are quite a few quality wines among the thirteen featured, but only two are included among my top Cabernet Sauvignon wine recommendations from this LCBO VINTAGES Release. First up is the lovely 2010 Ségla from a blockbuster vintage and is a blend based on Cabernet Sauvignon from Margaux on the left bank. The only other Cab Sauv among my wine picks is from Coonawarra in Australia. Lastly, the Château Pierre de Montignac (90 pts) came through VINTAGES in April but is also featured in this Release, so it's not listed below but is nonetheless a worthy buy.

Ségla 2010 (92 pts)Jim Barry Cover Drive Cabernet Sauvignon 2016 (89 pts)

From the feature on wines from Rioja, five of the eight wines are included among my top wine picks, and all five are blends based on Tempranillo, the King of Spanish red wines, and range in vintage. We'll start with the oldest, a 1998 Reserva that is a blend of 95% Tempranillo and 5% Mazuelo/Graciano, while the 2009 Reserva is a blend of 80% Tempranillo and 20% Garnacha. There are a pair of 2012 Rioja Gran Reserva's - the Baron de Ley is mainly Tempranillo, while the Cune is a blend of 85% Tempranillo, 10% Graciano, and 5% Mazuelo. Lastly, the 2016 Crianza is composed of 80% Tempranillo, 15% Garnacha, and 5% Mazuelo.

Urbina Especial Reserva 1998 (92 pts)La Rioja Alta Viña Ardanza Reserva 2009 (93 pts)

Cune Gran Reserva 2012 (92 pts)Barón de Ley Gran Reserva 2012 (91 pts)

Rioja Vega Crianza 2016 (88 pts)

Red wines from the rest of the Release include a Saint Chinian that is a blend of 50% Syrah, 30% Grenache, and 20% Cinsault, while the Rhône red consists of mainly Grenache and Syrah. From Australia, the GMS consists of 55% Grenache, 30% Mourvèdre, 15% Shiraz, while the icon wine from Chile is a blend of 92% Carmenere and 8% Petit Verdot.

Montes Purple Angel 2016 (92 pts)M. Chapoutier Belleruche Côtes du Rhône Grenache/Syrah 2017 (90 pts)

Calmel & Joseph Saint Chinian 2015 (88 pts)

Among my white wine picks, the white from Veneto is a unique blend of 40% Garganega, 35% Cortese/Incrocio Manzoni, 15% Trebbianello, and 10% Trebbiano Toscano, while the Paso Robles wine is composed of 44% Viognier, 24% Marsanne, 20% Grenache Blanc, and 12% Roussanne. Among the single varietal wines, The Saint-Véran is made with Chardonnay, while the Muscadet is made with Melon de Bourgogne. For sweet wine lovers, the Niagara Riesling will be off-dry, while the Riesling Spätlese will be very sweet.

Monte del Frá Ca' del Magro 2016 (89 pts)Karl Erbes Ürziger Würzgarten Riesling Spätlese 2016 (90+ pts)

Enjoy my wine recommendations from this Release! Salud!

Red Wine:

  • CALMEL & JOSEPH SAINT CHINIAN 2015 - AP, Languedoc, France (#010623) (XD) - $15.95  88 pts  wine review
  • RIOJA VEGA CRIANZA 2016 - DOCa Rioja, Spain (#471854) (XD) - $16.95  88 pts  wine review
  • M. CHAPOUTIER BELLERUCHE CÔTES DU RHÔNE GRENACHE/SYRAH 2017 - AC, Rhône, France (#328831) (D) - $16.95  90 pts  wine review
  • JIM BARRY COVER DRIVE CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2016 - Coonawarra, South Australia (#677476) (XD) - $19.95  89 pts  wine review
  • SCHILD ESTATE GRENACHE/MOURVÈDRE/SHIRAZ 2016 - Barossa Valley, South Australia (#108183) (XD) - $19.95
  • CORIOLE ESTATE GROWN SHIRAZ 2016 - McLaren Vale, South Australia (#931600) (XD) - $24.95

  • CUNE GRAN RESERVA 2012 - DOCa Rioja, Spain (#393553) (XD) - $28.95  92 pts  wine review
  • BARÓN DE LEY GRAN RESERVA 2012 - DOCa Rioja, Spain (#642496) (XD) - $29.95  91 pts  wine review
  • SOUTHBROOK LAUNDRY VINEYARD PINOT NOIR 2016 - VQA Lincoln Lakeshore, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#646885) (XD) - $35.00  FE  91+ pts  wine review
  • URBINA ESPECIAL RESERVA 1998 - DOCa Rioja, Spain (#010723) (XD) - $39.95  92 pts  wine review
  • LA RIOJA ALTA VIÑA ARDANZA RESERVA 2009 - DOCa Rioja, Spain (#315531) (XD) - $54.95  93 pts  wine review
  • MONTES PURPLE ANGEL 2016 - DO Colchagua Valley, Chile (#062364) (XD) - $62.95  92 pts  wine review
  • SÉGLA 2010 - Second wine of Château Rauzan-Ségla, AC Margaux, Bordeaux, France (#359810) (XD) - $68.95  92 pts  wine review
Southbrook Laundry Vineyard Pinot Noir 2016 (91+ pts)

White Wine:

  • LE FILS DES GRAS MOUTONS MUSCADET SÈVRE-ET-MAINE SUR LIE 2017 - AC, Loire, France (#363150) (XD) - $15.95
  • CAVE SPRING ESTATE CHARDONNAY 2017 - Cave Spring Vineyard, VQA Beamsville Bench, Niagara Escarpment, Ontario, Canada (#256552) (XD) - $19.95
  • TERRES SECRÈTES LES PRÉLUDES SAINT-VÉRAN 2017 - AC, Burgundy, France (#016725) (XD) - $19.95
  • HENRY OF PELHAM ESTATE RIESLING 2018 - VQA Short Hills Bench, Niagara Escarpment, Ontario, Canada (#557165) (D) - $19.95
  • MONTE DEL FRÁ CA’ DEL MAGRO 2016 - DOC Custoza Superiore, Veneto, Italy (#165670) (XD) - $19.95  89 pts  wine review
  • RAPAURA SPRINGS WAIRAU CLASSIC SAUVIGNON BLANC 2017 - Marlborough, South Island, New Zealand (#924704) (XD) - $21.95
  • KARL ERBES ÜRZIGER WÜRZGARTEN RIESLING SPÄTLESE 2016 - Qualitätswein, Mosel, Germany (#011721) (S) - $26.95  90+ pts  wine review
  • TABLAS CREEK CÔTES DE TABLAS BLANC 2017 - Adelaida District, Paso Robles, California, USA (#036616) (XD) - $37.95  FE
  • CHATEAU MONTELENA CHARDONNAY 2016 - Napa Valley, California, USA (#701748) (XD) - $74.95  FE

Rosé Wine:

  • CAVES D’ESCLANS ROCK ANGEL ROSÉ 2018 - AC Côtes de Provence, France (#491027) (XD) - $49.95  91 pts  wine review
Caves d'Esclans Rock Angel Rosé 2018 (91 pts)

Sparkling Wine:

  • GRAHAM BECK BRUT ROSÉ 2013 - Traditional method, WO Western Cape, South Africa (#004085) (XD) - $24.95
  • LE BRUN DE NEUVILLE GRAND VINTAGE BRUT CHAMPAGNE 2008 - AC, France (#011131) (XD) - $85.95  92 pts  wine review
Le Brun de Neuville Grand Vintage Brut Champagne 2008 (92 pts)

Dessert Wine:

  • ROYAL TOKAJI LATE HARVEST TOKAJI 2017 - PDO, Hungary (#517375) (S) (500 mL) - $21.95


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  • Monday, October 7, 2019

Marqués de Cáceres Gran Reserva 2011 (Spain) - Wine Review

Following up on the delicious 2014 Marqués de Cáceres Crianza, wine review is another lovely Rioja from Spanish producer Marqués de Cáceres. This red wine arrived at the LCBO recently as part of the LCBO VINTAGES Release - and plenty are still available for purchase.

Marqués de Cáceres made its first Gran Reserva in 1975 and produces it only in the best vintages. The grapes used in this 2011 vintage are Tempranillo, Garnacha Tinta, and Graciano which come from a special selection of 35-50 year-old vineyards with some parcels in Rioja Alta that are 65-85 years old. The Tempranillo comes from vineyards planted between 400-620 metres above sea level from different zones within the Cenicero boundary in La Rioja, northern Spain. The Garnacha Tinta comes from selected vineyards located in Rioja Alta at altitudes between 500 m and 650 m, adding finesse, freshness, and structure to the wine. Lastly, Graciano adds a unique style and colour to the blend. All of the grapes come from mainly clay and limestone soils, and were manually harvested, parcel by parcel.

In Spanish wine law, Crianza wines spend one year in oak barrels, while Reserva wines must be aged for 2 years, of which one year must be in oak. Gran Reserva wines must be aged for two years in oak and three years in bottle. However, this Gran Reserva from Marqués de Cáceres is aged for 24-26 months in barrel, followed by a minimum of 4 years in bottle prior to release.

Marqués de Cáceres Gran Reserva 2011 (89 pts)

Tasting Note:

MARQUÉS DE CÁCERES GRAN RESERVA 2011 - DOCa Rioja, Spain (#976670) (XD) - $29.95
Blend of 85% Tempranillo, 8% Garnacha Tinta, and 7% Graciano. The medium intensity nose has toasty oak and vanilla aromas nuanced with ripe red cherry, floral, and balsamic notes. It is full bodied on the palate with structured, drying tannins that become more pronounced on the mid-palate. Flavours are savoury with sweet spice, plum, dark cherry, and roasted nut notes. Acids are well-balanced while the finish is long and savoury. Approachable now, but should improve in 3 years and drink nicely into the mid-to-late 20's. Score: 89 pts


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  • Monday, October 7, 2019

CVNE (Spain) Wine Tasting with Maria Larrea

On a fine , I had the pleasure of tasting a few wines from Spain's historic CVNE wine company with winemaker María Larrea at George Restaurant in downtown Toronto.

CVNE is actually an abbreviation of Compañía Vinícola del Norte del España, which translates to the Northern Spanish Wine Company. It was founded in 1879 by two brothers in the town of Haro in Rioja, in northern Spain, and has always focused on producing and aging wines. It now comprises of four wineries: CVNE, Imperial, Viña Real and Contino.

CVNE Wine Tasting with Winemaker María Larrea

Even though the company is officially called CVNE, the producer is more commonly known as Cune (pronounced COO-nay). It was interesting to learn from Maria that the origins of this name are due to a label misprint by the print shop they were using in the early days of the winery's history. The print shop accidentally replaced the "V" with a "U" and the name Cune became quite popular and continues be well-known. Personally, I have always known this producer as Cune.

CVNE garnered its first awards in 1885, and further successes led to the creation of the revolutionary Effel's cellar. The cellar was designed by the famous French architect, Aleixandre Gustave Eiffel, and uses steel trusses running from wall to wall (instead of columns) to support the roof, thus creating a large, open space for the management of the barrels. It was completed in 1909 and is still in use today by Imperial wines.

Imperial wines were first created in 1920 and are some of Spain's greatest wines. The name comes from a special bottling for the English market, in a measure called "Pinta Imperial" or "Imperial Pint". Viña Real wines were also launched at this time. In 1940, the El Carmen winemaking facility became the largest of its kind in Spain and showcased the benefits of using concrete in winemaking.

In 1973, Viñedos del Contino was established by CVNE and the family that owned the Contino vineyard, becoming the first single vineyard site in Rioja. Another first occurred in 1989 when they began using gravity during the fermentation process. In 2004, Viña Real winery was inaugurated by his majesty Juan Carlos I, King of Spain, becoming one of the most advanced wineries in Spain.

Today, the company is still controlled by descendants of the founding family. Maria and I tasted through the three wines listed below and, while all three were enjoyable, we both thought the Imperial Reserva the best. I was also hoping to try the Monopole - Spain's oldest white wine brand that was first introduced in 1915, but unfortunately it was not available for tasting.

Of the three wines I did get to taste, the Crianza and Reserva came to LCBO VINTAGES in and are still available for purchase at the LCBO. Wines from CVNE's entire portfolio can be purchased through their licensed agent here in Ontario, Von Terra. Thank you, Von Terra, for the opportunity to meet Maria and taste these fine wines from CVNE.

Tasting Notes:

CVNE CUNE CRIANZA 2015 - DOCa Rioja, Spain (#039925) (XD) - $16.95
85% Tempranillo and 15% Garnacha Tinta/Mazuelo. From a warm year, the medium-high intensity nose is all red berry and cherry with hints of strawberry and wood adding some complexity. It's light-to-medium bodied with medium-level tannins that are smooth and refined. Pretty aroma replays, plus vanilla and coconut flavours on the palate. Acids are very good. Dry, clean, and easy drinking with a finish length that is very good. Score: 88 pts

CVNE Cune Crianza 2015 (88 pts)CVNE Imperial Reserva 2014 (92 pts)

CVNE IMPERIAL RESERVA 2014 - DOCa Rioja, Spain (#424390) (XD) - $39.95
Blend of 85% Tempranillo and equal parts Graciano, Mazuelo (Carignan), and Grenache spent 18 months in (60%) French and (40%) American oak. Lovely, fairly intense nose offers very complex dark berry, black cherry, blackberry, and black plum aromas, with subtle oak, cinnamon, and spice complementing the dark fruits. The medium-full bodied palate is slightly warm, but the very good fruit concentration holds it all together. Very nice aroma replays are well-balanced on the juicy palate. Nicely balanced overall with smooth tannins and a very long, complex finish. Score: 92 pts

CVNE IMPERIAL GRAN RESERVA 2008 - DOCa Rioja, Spain (XD) - $69.95
Same blend as the Reserva, this is showing maturity on the nose with complex coffee, oak, tobacco, earthy, and savoury aromas, plus hints of blackberry and dark berry. The medium-full bodied palate has complex aroma replays on the flavour profile, plus some dried herb notes. Continues to evolve in the glass. Medium tannins are refined and smooth, while acids are balanced. Excellent finish length with tobacco and forest floor notes. Score: 91 pts

CVNE Imperial Gran Reserva 2008 (91 pts)


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  • Sunday, September 29, 2019

Vallobera Crianza 2005 (Spain) - Wine Review

wine review is a nice red wine that I purchased from an LCBO VINTAGES Release way back in .

The tasting note in the VINTAGES magazine indicated that this Crianza could be aged until 2020. However, my research today indicates that this wine probably should have been opened 3-4 years ago. Looking at my bottle, I see there is noticeable ullage (the gap of air between the top of the wine and the cork), indicating that some oxidation has occurred. Let's see how this red wine is tasting tonight...

Vallobera Crianza 2005 (88+ pts)

Tasting Note:

VALLOBERA CRIANZA 2005 - DOCa, Rioja, Spain (#092429) (XD) - $19.95
This 100% Tempranillo was aged in French and American oak for 14 months. The medium intensity nose has mature dried berry, blackberry, sweet baking spice and sweet oak aromas with touches of rose floral and scorched earth adding complexity. It is medium bodied with savoury and earthy flavours along with touches of dried plum, fig, cigar box, and sweet spice. Mature tannins have a slightly grippy, drying texture. More earthy, tobacco, and savoury notes on the long, juicy finish. Enjoyable, but drink now if you have a bottle. Score: 88+ pts


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  • Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Marqués de Cáceres Crianza 2014 (Spain) - Wine Review

red wine review is a delicious Rioja that came to LCBO VINTAGES on and plenty of bottles are still available for purchase across Ontario.

Marqués de Cáceres was founded in La Rioja and Cenicero, within the heart of the La Rioja Alta sub-region in Spain in 1970 by Enrique Forner, forming an historic alliance between a region and an enterprising family that has been devoted to the wine trade for five generations.

After making wine at his own Chateaux's in Bordeaux, he brought the same reformist spirit when he returned to Spain and employed some of the same techniques for success such as vineyard control, grape selection, cold production, ageing in new and semi-new French oak barrels, and long refinement in the bottle. All of this contributes to wines that can show finesse and elegance. Their first wine was the 1970 Crianza which was released to the public in 1975 and offered more fruity notes over wood when compared to classic Riojas of the time.

In the 1990's, a trend for innovation took hold in La Rioja. Young oenologists and wine producers looked to Bordeaux for inspiration, just as Enrique Forner had done twenty years previously, and worked the terroir and vineyards, to obtain profiles that were different to the traditional Riojas. Marqués de Cáceres was advised by Michel Rolland - the most influential oenologist in Bordeaux at the time - and together they were united by a great obsession to create quality wines.

Their single objective at Marqués de Cáceres is to have the best vine growers and vineyards in La Rioja to produce the best wines, an obsession that continues today, led by the fourth generation of this wine family, Cristina Forner. They are also the best-known Rioja in Spain as well as one of the top 50 most admired wine brands globally.

Marqués de Cáceres Crianza 2014 (88 pts)

Tasting Note:

MARQUÉS DE CÁCERES CRIANZA 2014 - DOCa Rioja, Spain (#638775) (D) - $16.95
Blend of 85% Tempranillo, 10% Garnacha & 5% Graciano aged in both French and American oak. The medium intensity nose delivers red cherry/berry notes with hints of dried red fruit, followed by sweet oak spice, herbs, and floral aromas. The medium+ bodied palate is fresh and lively, offering more red cherry, floral, and oak spiced flavours surrounding a savoury, earthy core. Refined tannins offer a nice, dusty texture with a touch of chalkiness. Finish is long and earthy. A satisfying Rioja to enjoy over the next 3 years. Score: 88 pts


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  • Saturday, December 8, 2018

Gourmet Food & Wine Expo 2018 - Top Wines

2018 Gourmet Food & Wine Expo
On a cold night in November, I attended the 24th annual Gourmet Food & Wine Expo - a 4-day event that ran through . The first night was VIP Preview Night and attendance seemed a bit lighter than previous years. There also seemed to be fewer food and wine booths, but more craft breweries. Since my focus was mostly on the wines, I traversed the floor seeking some of the finest on offer and had a great time chatting with familiar faces en route.

Some of the highlights included wines in the Fine Wine Tasting Lounge, and at the Kolonaki Group booth where they featured many lovely Greek wines. There were also some fine wines at Wines from Spain, Wines of South Africa, Villa Maria Wines of New Zealand, and Grenache Wines booths. Here are some of my favourites from the show. All of these wines are available via the LCBO unless otherwise noted. Thank you Foodies on Foot for the tickets I won through their online contest!


CHAMPAGNE CUVÉE CARBON BRUT - AC, France (XD) - $350  92 pts
The official Champagne of Formula 1. Exclusive bottle wrapped in carbon looks awesome! Available via Bianchi & Nero.

Champagne Cuvée Carbon Brut (92 pts)Vidal Legacy Chardonnay 2016 (93 pts)

VIDAL LEGACY CHARDONNAY 2016 - Hawkes Bay, New Zealand (#570895) (XD) - $60  93 pts

CUNE GRAN RESERVA 2011 - DOCa Rioja, Spain (#393553) (XD) - $39.95  92 pts

Cune Gran Reserva 2011 (92 pts)Mega Spileo Grand Cave Cabernet Sauvignon 2011 (91 pts)

MEGA SPILEO GRAND CAVE CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2011 - PGI Achaia, Greece (#539924) (XD) - $27.95  91 pts
Available via Shop Greek Wine.

MARTIN BERDUGO RESERVA 2010 - DO Ribera del Duero, Spain (#233741) (XD) - $38  91 pts

Martin Berdugo Reserva 2010 (91 pts)Te Awa Left Field Syrah 2015 (90+ pts)

TE AWA LEFT FIELD SYRAH 2015 - Hawkes Bay, North Island, New Zealand (#377837) (XD) - $24.95  90+ pts

ARGYROS ASSYRTIKO 2017 - PDO Santorini, Greece (#387365) (XD) - $32  90+ pts
Available via Shop Greek Wine.

Argyros Assyrtiko 2017 (90+ pts)Ken Forrester Old Vine Reserve Chenin Blanc 2017 (90 pts)

KEN FORRESTER OLD VINE RESERVE CHENIN BLANC 2017 - WO Stellenbosch, South Africa (#231282) (XD) - $17.95  90 pts

ONTAÑÓN RESERVA 2010 - DOCa Rioja, Spain (#725895) (XD) - $25.95  90 pts

Ontañón Reserva 2010 (90 pts)Gérard Bertrand Grand Terroir Les Aspres Syrah/Mourvèdre/Grenache 2015 (89 pts)

GÉRARD BERTRAND GRAND TERROIR LES ASPRES SYRAH / MOURVÈDRE  / GRENACHE 2015 - AP Côtes du Roussillon Les Aspres, France (#413245) (XD) - $18.95  89 pts

UMBERTO CESARI LIANO SANGIOVESE / CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2015 - IGT Rubicone, Emilia-Romagna, Italy (#225086) (D) - $27.95  88 pts

Umberto Cesari Liano Sangiovese/Cabernet Sauvignon 2015 (88 pts)


Champagne Cuvée Carbon Brut
Kolonaki Group - ShopGreekWine.com
Foods & Wine from Spain
Wines of South Africa
Garnacha and Grenache Wines


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