Showing posts with label white-blend. Show all posts
Showing posts with label white-blend. Show all posts
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  • Friday, May 17, 2019

Wines from Santorini Volcanic Terroir

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fava spread

Tomataki dip (top left) with Saganaki

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

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

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

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

Tasting Notes:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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  • Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Malivoire Guilty Men Red 2016 and Riesling Sauvignon Blanc 2017 (Niagara) - Wine Review

Malivoire Guilty Men
wines are a pair of entry-level wines from Malivoire Wine Company - one of Niagara's most respected boutique wineries, renowned for its creativity and use of wine-growing practices. Its carefully crafted VQA wines are made exclusively from grapes grown locally on the Niagara Peninsula.

Malivoire Wine is the magnum opus of Martin Malivoire, and was founded after the purchase of the Moira Vineyard on the Beamsville Bench in 1995. Minimal environmental impact is a foundation block of Malivoire Wine's corporate mission. They subscribe to the Oregon-based “LIVE”, or Low Impact Viticulture and Enology programme, whose guidelines determine their farming practices, including the use of eco-friendly winemaking techniques. Winemaker Shiraz Mottiar was awarded Winemaker of the Year at the 2017 Ontario Wine Awards.

Martin always insisted that he would never focus on Bordeaux varietals and Bordeaux blends, and instead focus on Pinot Noir and Gamay. He also said he wouldn't focus on Riesling. Over the years, many people kept asking for these styles of wines from Malivoire, so Martin said that "If we make these styles of wines, we would be Guilty Men", based on the male group assembled from the winemaking team, and the fact that he had been very vocal about not going down this road for many years. Guilty Men eventually launched in 2010.

Both of these wines are easy-drinking, food-friendly, and made in a crowd-pleasing style that is also fairly light on the wallet. Moreover, both of these wines are widely available at LCBO outlets across Ontario, and the white wine is currently on sale (save $1) until .

Tasting Notes:

MALIVOIRE GUILTY MEN RIESLING SAUVIGNON BLANC 2017 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#192666) (D) - $15.10 $14.10 until .
A unique blend of 80% Riesling and 20% Sauvignon Blanc. Screw cap. This has a fruity medium intensity nose with aromas of ripe apple, citrus zest, peach, along with hints of tropical fruit, white flowers and flinty mineral. The light-to-medium bodied palate is off-dry (i.e some sweetness) with apple and stone fruit flavours that mingle with some tropical fruit notes. Clean, juicy acids are nicely balanced, while apple notes linger on the finish, with very good length.  Clean, easy drinking wine to enjoy on the patio, or with seafood or poultry. Chill well and drink to 2019. Score: 87 pts

Malivoire Guilty Men Riesling Sauvignon Blanc 2017 (87 pts)

MALIVOIRE GUILTY MEN RED 2016 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#192674) (D) - $15.95
From the very good 2016 vintage, this is a blend of 55% Merlot, 20% Gamay, 15% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 10% Cabernet Franc, with about 2/3 of the wine aged in tank, while the remainder was in mostly French barrels for 9 months. Screw cap. The medium+ intensity nose offers cranberry, raspberry, dark currant, and black spice with hints of tea leaf and minty cassis. It is medium-bodied on the palate with soft, gentle tannins with just a touch of sweetness that's held in check with the lively acids. Appealing tea leaf and oak spice flavours with hints of raspberry and blueberry on the palate. Good length on the finish. Chill slightly and enjoy to 2020. Score: 87 pts

Malivoire Guilty Men Red 2016 (87 pts)

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  • Saturday, April 7, 2018

René Barbier Mediterranean White (Spain) - Wine Review

wine was gifted to me during the holidays. This white wine blend is a General List wine that is readily available at the LCBO.

René Barbier Mediterranean White (84 pts)

Tasting Note:

RENÉ BARBIER MEDITERRANEAN WHITE - DO Catalunya, Spain (#332767) (XD) - $9.95
Screw cap. A non-vintage blend of 40% Xarel-lo, 30% Macabeo, and 30% Parellada. Honeyed aroma profile with melon and lemon rind notes. The medium-bodied palate is sweetish and juicy with balanced acidity and honeydew melon flavours joined by lemon rind and ripe tropical fruit notes. More lemon notes, with hints of white flowers, and good length on the dry finish. Fairly basic and simple, but should have wide appeal. Chill well. Score: 84 pts

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  • Sunday, December 17, 2017

Celebrating 40 Years of Roussillon

Celebrating 40 Years of Roussillon

This year marks 40 years of recognition of the AOC status of Côtes du Roussillon and Côtes du Roussillon Villages. Although winemaking in the region goes back hundreds of years, it was only in 1977 when this southern France wine region was formally recognized as an AOP by the INAO. Moreover, it only achieved this status because of the 40+ years of work by Roussillon producers prior to 1977.

I have personally been a fan of wines from Roussillon for many years thanks to the high quality and good value on offer. The AOC Côtes du Roussillon produces crisp white wines, fruity rosés and powerful reds, while wines from the AOC Côtes du Roussillon Villages are entirely made up of red wines. The primary red wine grapes are Grenache Noir, Carignan, and Syrah, and Mourvèdre. Carignan, in particular, is notable for its high quality from historic old vines that can be over 100 years old. Among white wines, the primary grapes are Grenache Blanc, Macabeu, and Tourbat. Most of the wines produced in Roussillon are blends.

The AOP Côtes du Roussillon is the largest of the Roussillon appellations, covering an area of 4695 hectares spread over 102 municipalities in the Pyrénées-Orientales region. Both the white wine and the first red wine listed below come from this large appellation. The Latour de France is a sub-appellation of the AOP Côtes du Roussillon Villages covering 202 hectares in the northern part of the appellation and features mainly grey schist soils.

Wine Appellations of Roussillon

Surrounding the AOC Côtes du Roussillon are three mountain chains and the sea. To the north is the Corbières, the Pyrénées and the Mont Canigou are on the west side, the Albères is down south, and to the east is the Mediterranean Sea. Eighty percent of the vines are located on hillsides, and combined with the hot Mediterranean climate with minimal rainfall, helping create wines that are complex, aromatic and fresh.

Soil types are varied across the region, with a mix of granitic sand and gneiss, black and grey schist, red clay soils, sandy clay, and pebbly terraces.

To get a taste of what Roussillon offers, here are three quality wines that I enjoyed on and are a small sample of the various styles of wine you can expect from Roussillon. All three of these wines arrived in LCBO VINTAGES earlier this year. These wines are nearly sold out across the province, with only limited availability now.

To learn more about this fascinating wine region, visit Roussillon Wines.

40 Years of AOP Côtes du Roussillon & Villages

Tasting Notes:

LES VIGNES DE BILA-HAUT CÔTES DU ROUSSILLON BLANC 2015 - AC, Midi, France (#485656) (XD) - $15.95
Blend of 60% Grenache Blanc, 20% Macabeu, 10% Marsanne, and 10% Vermentino. Floral, lemon, and tropical fruit aromas from the cork. In the glass, this has a medium+ intensity nose featuring grapefruit, lemon peel, white floral, and herbally notes, with a fine mineral component throughout. It's medium+ bodied and round on the palate with a nice mineral texture. Dry flavour profile features grapefruit, herbs, and floral notes, and a touch waxy. Juicy acids. The finish length is good, ending with a flinty mineral note. Released into LCBO VINTAGES on . Score: 88 pts

Les Vignes de Bila-Haut Côtes du Roussillon Blanc 2015 (88 pts)

LE PUIG CARIGNANE DE LA PERPIGNANE 2013 - AC Côtes du Roussillon, France (#480988) (XD) - $19.95
This organic wine was raised in concrete tank and consists of 60% Carignane and 40% Grenache. Faint aromas of black plum and dark berry from the cork. In the glass, this leads with a mineral and iron nose followed by dark berry/cherry, kirsch, menthol, and spice aromas. Also some meaty aromas with air. It's medium-bodied on the palate with fresh, balanced acids and ripe, dark berry and peppery spice flavours laced with earthy minerality. Supple, gritty tannins add texture, while the finish is juicy with good length. Drink over the next 4-5 years. Released into LCBO VINTAGES on . Score: 89 pts

Le Puig Carignane de la Perpignane 2013 (89 pts)

DOMAINE DE L’AGLY LATOUR DE FRANCE LES CIMES 2013 - AC Côtes du Roussillon Villages, France (#480897) (XD) - $29.95
From a 12 hectare vineyard with mica schist and blue granite soils at 300 metres elevation in the magnificent Agly Valley, this is a blend of 35% Syrah, 35% Grenache, 17% Mourvèdre, and 13% Carignan brought up in barrique (one-third new), and bottled unfined and unfiltered. Earthy, dark berry and smoke aromas from the cork. Very ripe and fruit forward on the nose with raspberry, blackberry, crushed rocks, flowers and touches of vanilla. The seamless palate is bright and medium-full bodied with balanced dark berry, blackberry, white pepper, along with hints of violet and meaty flavours, Acids are very bright. Tannins have some grip and gain volume over time. The finish length is very good with some fine mineral notes. Drink over the next 6-8 years. Released into LCBO VINTAGES on . Score: 90 pts

Domaine de l’Agly Latour de France Les Cimes 2013 (90 pts)

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  • Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Goats do Roam White 2017 (South Africa) - Wine Review

wine is an easy drinking white wine with a unique/fun name that you may have come across while browsing LCBO shelves as it's been available in our market for quite a few years now.

It is produced by the Fairview Wine Farm in South Africa, and while the name "Goats do Roam" is considered by some to be a play on "Côtes du Rhône" as it contains the same varietals found in Rhône whites, it is in fact (according to the website) from legend.

The story behind the name goes like this: Some errant members of Fairview’s long-established goat herd once escaped from their paddock into the Fairview vineyards after Charles Back’s young son Jason accidentally left the gate open; The little group happily roamed among the vineyards, showing rare discernment by selecting some of the ripest berries from the vines; Those berries were then used to make this white blend.

The 2017 vintage is the latest vintage and packaged in an eco-friendly, lighter-weight bottle. It is widely available (if not already, then really soon) at LCBO outlets across Ontario as it is a General List product.

Goats do Roam White 2017 (86 pts)

Tasting Note:

GOATS DO ROAM WHITE 2017 - WO Western Cape, South Africa (#237313) (XD) - $11.95
Bottled under screw cap, this is a traditional Rhône blend of 49% Viognier, 28% Roussanne, and 23% Grenache Blanc. The medium intensity nose offers widely appealing ripe tropical fruit, orange zest, white peach and white floral aromas. On the medium-full bodied palate, it's got zesty acids with more ripe tropical fruit, melon, and orange peel flavours in an essentially dry profile. There's some bitterness on the mid-palate and good length on the finish. Chill well and serve with hearty fish such as Salmon. Score: 86 pts

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  • Sunday, July 2, 2017

Seriously Cool Chardonnay 2016 (Ontario) - Wine Review

To continue Canada 150 celebrations and promising to sip only Canadian wines this weekend, wine is an easy drinker that will be available at the LCBO beginning .

I tasted the 2015 Seriously Cool Chardonnay last year, when it consisted of three grapes, including Riesling. For this latest vintage, Riesling was omitted from the blend and now consists of 50/50 Chardonnay and Chardonnay Musque, with 50% of the grapes harvested from vineyards that are transitioning to Organic. This wine, along with the rest of the Seriously Cool range, is suitable for vegans and vegetarians.

This wine is produced by Southbrook Vineyards and their internationally-acclaimed winemaker director of winemaking and viticulture, Ann Sperling. You can purchase this wine directly from the winery through their online store and have it shipped to your home, or visit your local LCBO.

Seriously Cool Chardonnay 2016 (86 pts)

Tasting Note:

SERIOUSLY COOL CHARDONNAY 2016 - VQA Ontario, Canada (#457481) (XD) - $14.95
A 50/50 blend of Chardonnay and Chardonnay Musque and enclosed by screw cap. This has a soft, ripe tropical fruit and floral nose with aromas of melon, green apple, pear, yellow peach and a hint of lime. It's light-to-mid-weighted with balanced acids. Flavour profile is off-dry (i.e. slightly sweet) ripe yellow fruit, white grapefruit, and lemon/lime flavours. It's nicely textured with some tangy citrus on the mid-palate that continues through to the finish, with good length. An easy drinking wine for the patio. Score: 86 pts

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  • Saturday, February 4, 2017

Mas des Bressades Cuvée Tradition Blanc 2015 (Rhône) - Wine Review

wine was purchased last year from the LCBO VINTAGES Release and only a few bottles of this dry white wine are still available at the LCBO. It's a good one, especially at this price point.

Mas des Bressades Cuvée Tradition Blanc 2015 (89 pts)

Tasting Note:

MAS DES BRESSADES CUVÉE TRADITION BLANC 2015 - AP Costières de Nîmes, Rhône, France (#701094) (XD) - $17.95
A blend of Roussanne, Marsanne, Grenache Blanc and Viognier. Fresh lemon and white floral aromas from the cork. Very good intensity on the nose with earthy/mineral aromas, along with lemon, floral, grapefruit and hints of peach. Full flavoured on the oily, medium-bodied palate with notes of lemon, white peach, and floral. Balanced by fine acidity. Juicy with lovely orange blossom notes that arrive mid-palate and continue through to the finish. Enjoy over the next 2-3 years. Score: 89 pts

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  • Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Southbrook Connect Organic White 2014 (Ontario) - Wine Review (Bottle 2)

I first tried organic white wine from Southbrook Vineyards just over a year ago. And tonight, I am opening the second bottle with an expectation that it has matured a little. This wine is bottled under Stelvin screw cap, so I am expecting only subtle changes, if any at all.

If you're interested in purchasing this wine, there may be some 2014s left at the LCBO, but I suspect they have shifted to the next vintage as the 2015 is now available for purchase on the Southbrook Vineyards website. You should also know that the 2014 was a blend of 58% Vidal, 21% Chardonnay, 12% Riesling, and 9% Sauvignon Blanc, while the 2015 is a blend of 56% Vidal, 31% Riesling, 13% Sauvignon Blanc - bigger Riesling component and no Chardonnay.

Southbrook Connect Organic White 2014 (86 pts)

Tasting Note:

SOUTHBROOK CONNECT ORGANIC WHITE 2014 - VQA Ontario, Canada (#249078) (D) - $15.95
Waxy and slightly oxidative, along with subtle aromas of melon, citrus and white peach of medium-intensity. The palate is soft, round and full-ish with sour edged flavours of honey and ripe citrus. Delicate acids. There's a hint of sweetness, but finishes with bitter notes of average length. Drink now. Score: 86 pts

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  • Friday, January 6, 2017

Niagara Wine Festival Review 2016 - Day 2 of 2

GreenLane Riesling with Balinese Chicken Satay
My tour through Niagara during the annual Grape & Wine Festival was split over two weekends in September. You can read all about the first day's activities here.

Our food & wine adventure on the second weekend began at GreenLane Estate Winery for a Balinese Chicken Satay that was paired with their 2012 GreenLane Riesling ($15.95, 88 pts). I was expecting a sweet & spicy pairing, but instead got a mild-mannered chicken satay that contained South East Asian spices, coconut milk and peanut sauce. The satay was delicious and so was the Riesling. Since the wine had crisp acids and wasn't too sweet, it paired well with the satay, with lemony notes from the wine becoming more pronounced. Overall, it was a good pairing, but I would love to try this Riesling with a spicier Asian dish.

Stoney Ridge Estate Winery was our second stop for a chickpea and quinoa vegetable salad that was topped with a succulent smoked marsala shrimp. It was paired with the 2013 Stoney Ridge Excellence White (reviewed below) and was quite interesting. The wine had compelling herbally-honey-floral notes, but when paired with the salad and shrimp, the wine magically turned very, very smoky. It was a very interesting pairing indeed and just goes to show how the interaction between food & wine can really change the flavours of a wine.

Stoney Ridge Excellence White and Marsala ShrimpRockway Vineyards Wines with Potato Gnocchi

Our third stop was at Rockway Vineyards for another tantalizing experience. Here, a potato gnocchi topped with a beet sauce and garnished with watercress was paired with two wines - the 2015 Rockway Plush White ($14.95, 86 pts) and the 2012 Rockway Small Lot White Assemblage ($14.97, 88+ pts). The first wine (a Vidal) was on the sweeter side and enhanced the sweet beet flavours in the gnocchi, while the Assemblage (mostly Chardonnay) brought out more savoury, earthy tones, essentially enhancing the main ingredient in the gnocchi - potato. This was a very interesting comparison to see how a dish can change it's flavour profile based on the wine. Since food & wine is a very personal experience, it's interesting to note that my wife preferred the sweeter variant, while I preferred the savoury pairing. To each his/her own!

Konzelmann Estate Winery was the fourth stop, with fairly high expectations. A succulent New Zealand Lamb Chop that was lightly brushed with Basil Pesto and grilled to perfection was on the menu and paired with 2015 Konzelmann Lakefront Series Shiraz ($14.45, #144857, 86 pts). We had to wait a bit for the lamb chop to be prepared, but it was well worth it! It was made well-done and absolutely delicious! Shiraz (or Syrah) always tends to go well with lamb, and this was no exception. However, I think the lamb chop deserved a better wine. The place was a zoo due to their annual WineFest, so I didn't get a chance to taste anything else, including any of their other wines made with Shiraz/Syrah.

Konzelmann Shiraz and Lamb ChopsInniskillin Riesling and General Tso Chicken

The next to last stop of the afternoon was at Inniskillin Wines for General Tso chicken with crispy shallots paired with their latest Inniskillin Reserve Riesling (reviewed below). The wine itself was very good, offering typical off-dry notes found in Riesling. My General Tso chicken had dark meat that was a bit tough, but had a nice spicy kick to it. Once again, the spicy flavours in the dish complemented the sweet flavours and high acids in the wine very well, making for a very pleasurable pairing.

The final stop of the day was at Riverview Cellars Estate Winery for an eggplant parmigiana. However, since we arrived very late in the day, they had actually run out of their culinary creation. With extra time on our hands now, we decided to run through an extended tasting session at the back bar, noticing on the way back there that some renovations were being undertaken. Full wine reviews of some of my favourites at Riverview are posted below.

Overall, I was quite happy with the visit to Niagara. The culinary creations were well done, with generous portion sizes at most places. Wine pairings were very interesting, showcasing how both the food and wine can each change and enhance flavours when paired with each other. The most significant take away from this visit is that the wines, with ever more maturing vines and some assistance from Mother Nature are helping to create better and better wines every year. While only a few these wines are available at the LCBO, all of these delicious Ontario wines can be purchased directly from the winery in Niagara.

Tasting Notes:

GREENLANE OLD VINES RIESLING 2012 - VQA Lincoln Lakeshore, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (D) - $24.95
From 25 year old vines, this has a medium+ intensity nose of orange, peach, and tropical fruits with a whiff of mature petrol. Off-dry on the palate with fine aroma replays and a nice minerally texture. Acids are nice and crisp. Long, clean finish. Score: 89+ pts

GreenLane Old Vines Riesling 2012 (89+ pts)GreenLane Cabernet Franc 2012 (89 pts)

GREENLANE CABERNET FRANC 2012 - VQA Lincoln Lakeshore, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $23.95
Harvested in mid-November of a long, hot growing season, this has medium-high intensity aromas of cocoa, espresso bean and dark ripe berry fruits with subtle oak nuances that continue through to the palate. Acids are very good, while the finish length is excellent. Supple tannins are evolving nicely and still provide good structure for aging at least 5+ years. Score: 89 pts

GREENLANE CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2012 - VQA Lincoln Lakeshore, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $32.95
The nose is a bit shy at the moment, but hints at currant, cassis, and black cherry aromas. The palate is full-bodied with ripe fruited flavours that are sure to please. There is good depth of fruit supported by drying tannins that should integrate well. Acids are very good. Subtle oak notes on the long finish. Should improve in 1-2 years, and drink over at least the next half dozen years. Score: 89 pts

GreenLane Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 (89 pts)GreenLane Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve 2012 (90+ pts)

GREENLANE CABERNET SAUVIGNON RESERVE 2012 - VQA Lincoln Lakeshore, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $48.95
From a selection of 22-year-old vines, the Reserve is a step up from the "entry-level" Cab. Aged for 19 months in oak (25% new French oak), this has a medium-to-high intensity nose that's clean, focused and complex with ripe dark berries, cassis, currant, and earth that also show up on the palate. Very good acids and tannic structure. Ripe tannins are well-integrated. Finishes long with some oak and cocoa flavours. Well-balanced overall with good aging potential of 5-10 years. Score: 90+ pts

STONEY RIDGE RIESLING 2013 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (D) - $15.95
Medium-high aromatics are showing mature petrol, white peach and citrus notes. On the medium-bodied off-dry palate, it has crisp, balanced and succulent acids with nice aroma replays and a touch of sweetness. The finish is long. Score: 88+ pts

Stoney Ridge Riesling 2013 (88+ pts)Stoney Ridge Riesling 2015 (87 pts)

STONEY RIDGE RIESLING 2015 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $14.95
Bottled a week prior to my visit, the nose is somewhat closed with sulphury notes along with hints of peach in a mostly dry style. Lemon and mineral flavours on the palate with hard, lemony acids. Medium+ length finish. This needs time to settle down. Score: 87 pts

STONEY RIDGE EXCELLENCE WHITE 2013 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $24.95
Barrel-fermented blend of 52% Pinot Gris, 34% Chardonnay, 7% Viognier, and 7% Muscat. Herbally with honey and floral aromas. The palate is medium+ bodied with more floral and herbal notes that are oak spiced. Acids are very good while the finish length is good. Score: 88 pts

Stoney Ridge Excellence White 2013 (88 pts)Stoney Ridge Vidal Icewine 2012 (90+ pts)

STONEY RIDGE VIDAL ICEWINE 2012 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (S) (375 mL) - $44.95
Highly aromatic with honey, apricot, peach, and golden apple notes. It's medium-full bodied with very appealing aroma replays. Very sweet on the palate, but balanced by nice acids. Excellent finish length. Score: 90+ pts

ROCKWAY VINEYARDS FERGIE JENKINS RIESLING 2013 - VQA Twenty Mile Bench, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (MD) - $15.95
Medium-high aromatics are minerally with whiffs of petrol, white peach and citrus. Acids are well-balanced with pleasing aroma replays on the nicely chalky textured palate. Drink over the next 2 years. Score: 88 pts

Rockway Vineyards Fergie Jenkins Riesling 2013 (88 pts)Rockway Vineyards Small Lot Block 150-183 Riesling 2013 (90 pts)

ROCKWAY VINEYARDS SMALL LOT BLOCK 150-183 RIESLING 2013 - VQA Twenty Mile Bench, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#424176) (M) - $19.95
The nose is highly aromatic, featuring slatey mineral, petrol, citrus, and white peach in a nicely concentrated package. Balanced aroma replays with nice crunchy acids on the palate. There's good depth of fruit as well. Long finishing. Score: 90 pts

ROCKWAY VINEYARDS SMALL LOT BLOCK 12-140 SYRAH 2013 - VQA Twenty Mile Bench, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $24.95
Medium intensity nose offers black pepper, purple fruit, and subtle oak aromas that should become more pronounced with air. It's medium-bodied with black peppery aroma replays. Well-balanced and a bit feminine in style, with supple tannins and balanced acids. Medium-long finish. Score: 88 pts

Rockway Vineyards Small Lot Block 12-140 Syrah 2013 (88 pts)Rockway Vineyards Cabernet Franc Icewine 2013 (91 pts)

ROCKWAY VINEYARDS CABERNET FRANC ICEWINE 2013 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (S) (375 mL) - $44.95
Medium-high aromatics offer strawberry and cherry aromas with a slightly spiced character that continue on the lovely palate. It's very sweet, but has vibrant and refreshing acids. The finish is long. Score: 91 pts

INNISKILLIN RESERVE RIESLING 2013 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (D) - $18.95
Fine aromas of petrol, mineral, sweet lemon, white peach and orange citrus of medium-high intensity. Off-dry flavours of peach, apricot, orange and some mineral notes are balanced by fresh acids. The finish is medium-long in length. Score: 89 pts

Inniskillin Reserve Riesling 2013 (89 pts)Riverview Angelina's Reserve Gewurztraminer 2013 (89+ pts)

RIVERVIEW ANGELINA'S RESERVE GEWURZTRAMINER 2013 - VQA Niagara River, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (M) - $18.95
From vines planted in 1992, this has a medium+ intensity nose with lemony, floral, ginger and some honey aromas. The palate is fleshy with bright acids and typical flavours of lychee, rose, and floral, in a semi-dry style. Excellent length on the finish that comes off drier due to high acids. Nicely balanced overall. Score: 89+ pts

RIVERVIEW SALVATORE'S RESERVE CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2012 - VQA Niagara River, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $29.95
Spent 1 year in French oak, this has medium-high intensity aromas featuring ripe red & black fruits, dark cherry, blackberry, cassis, and some currant and oak spice adding complexity. It's full-bodied with crunchy acids, ripe tannins and balanced aroma replays. Finish length in excellent. Approachable now, but should benefit with short term cellaring. Score: 89+ pts

Riverview Salvatore's Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 (89+ pts)Riverview Riesling Icewine 2014 (91 pts)

RIVERVIEW RIESLING ICEWINE 2014 - VQA Niagara-on-the-Lake, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (S) (375 mL) - $69.95
Highly aromatic and inviting nose has lovely sweet apricot, peach and honey notes. Acids are nice and crisp on the medium-bodied frame. Appealing lemon, stone fruit, and mango flavours on the sweet palate. Finish length is excellent! Score: 91 pts

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  • Saturday, December 10, 2016

FRESH Wines for the Holidays

wine reviews are a pair of wines from the FRESH brand produced by Diamond Estates.

The focus on FRESH is about fun, creative wines for wine drinkers who want to explore and try something different. The two wines reviewed below fit into the brand very nicely as the Riesling/Gewürztraminer blend and the Sparkling Wine made with Riesling are both relatively uncommon in the wine world.

These wines, among others in the FRESH line are available at the LCBO. However, you can order a case online at and have it delivered to your door in Ontario for FREE when you use promo code FRESHHoliday and enjoy these wines over the holidays!

Tasting Notes:

FRESH IDEAS SPARKLING RIESLING 2014 - VQA Ontario, Canada (#441162) (M) - $15.95
Lemon, honeysuckle, and wildflower aromas with a honeyed character from the cork. Honeyed citrus and floral aromas are somewhat muted in the glass. More honeyed citrus, orange and floral flavours on the medium sweet palate. Bubbles are nicely articulated. Sweetness is cut by bright, crisp acids and finishes on the dry side. Score: 87 pts

Fresh Ideas Sparkling Riesling 2014 - VQA Ontario, Canada (87 pts)

FRESH OPPORTUNITIES RIESLING GEWÜRZTRAMINER 2014 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#572156) (D) - $12.95
A blend of 60% Riesling and 40% Gewürztraminer. Screw cap. Low-medium intensity nose featuring ripe peach, citrus with a bit of earthy funkiness at the tail end. Off-dry on the palate with more peach and citrus flavours. Acids are sharp, but has a nice chalky mineral texture. Good length on the finish. Score: 86 pts

Fresh Opportunities Riesling Gewürztraminer 2014 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (86 pts)

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  • Tuesday, October 25, 2016

VINTAGES Release October 29: Bordeaux + Blends

LCBO Wine Picks: October 29, 2016 VINTAGES Release
The upcoming LCBO VINTAGES Release on focuses on approachable and affordable Bordeaux wines as its main theme, while the mini-theme focuses on the art of blended wines.

We'll begin with the feature on Bordeaux that lists 11 wines, 3 of which are included among my wine picks. From Médoc and Fronsac are a pair of wines from outstanding 2010 Bordeaux vintage - both are Bordeaux blends, with the Fronsac wine consisting of 80% Merlot, 15% Cabernet Franc and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon. Also from the 2010 vintage is the Margaux Grande Cru Classé that is a blend of 84% Cabernet Sauvignon and 16% Merlot. The 2012 Bois Chantant is also mostly Merlot (79%), with 11% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 10% Cabernet Franc added to round out the blend.

The fact that the majority of Bordeaux wines are blends is a nice segue into the mini-thematic - the art of the blend. This feature lists 8 wines, none of which are from Bordeaux, and only 1 wine is included in my wine recommendations. The vintage Champagne is a blend of 40% Chardonnay, 37% Pinot Noir, and 23% Pinot Meunier.

In red wines, we have a lovely blend Touriga Nacional, Jaen, and Alfrocheiro blend from Portugal - a wine region where most wines are blends. Surprisingly, the Châteauneuf-du-Pape is 100% Grenache from vines that are 80-100 years old. The dry (i.e. not sweet) Amarone is a blend of 60% Corvina, 30% Rondinella, and 10% Molinara. Last, but not definitely not the least, is the Solaia that is a blend of 75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Sangiovese, and 5% Cabernet Franc.

Among my white wine picks, the Greek wine is a blend of 50/50 blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Roditis, while the Sancerre is strictly Sauvignon Blanc. The sparkling Cava is a blend of local varietals Macabeo (67%) and Parellada (33%).

Jean-Max Roger Cuvée Les Caillottes Sancerre 2015 - AC, Loire, France (90 pts)

Enjoy my wine picks from this release! Cheers!

Red Wine:

  • VIÑA TARAPACÁ GRAN RESERVA CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2013 - DO Maipo Valley, Chile (#018721) (XD) - $17.95
  • LAPILLI BENEVENTANO AGLIANICO 2014 - IGT, Campania, Italy (#472696) (XD) - $17.95
  • CHÂTEAU HAUT-CANTELOUP 2010 - AC Médoc, Bordeaux, France (#466565) (XD) - $17.95
  • CHÂTEAU DU BOIS CHANTANT CUVÉE LAURENCE H. 2012 - AP Bordeaux Supérieur, France (#421206) (XD) - $18.95
  • NIEPOORT DÃO RÓTULO RED 2013 - DOC Dão, Portugal (#452722) (XD) - $18.95
  • CHAKANA ESTATE SELECTION MALBEC 2014 - Luján de Cuyo, Mendoza, Argentina (#219261) (D) - $21.95  reviewed here
  • CREEKSIDE ICONOCLAST SYRAH 2013 - VQA St. David’s Bench, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada (#471797) (XD) - $22.95  reviewed here
Chakana Estate Selection Malbec 2014 - Luján de Cuyo, Mendoza, Argentina (88 pts)Creekside Iconoclast Syrah 2013 - VQA St. David’s Bench, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada (89 pts)

  • CHÂTEAU HERVÉ-LAROQUE 2010 - AC Fronsac, Bordeaux, France (#446393) (XD) - $26.95
  • MENDEL MALBEC 2013 - Mendoza, Argentina (#108225) (XD) - $29.95
  • FATTORIA DEI BARBI BRUNELLO DI MONTALCINO 2010 - DOCG, Tuscany, Italy (#928028) (XD) - $53.95  reviewed here
  • CHÂTEAU DURFORT-VIVENS 2010 - Second wine of Château Durfort-Vivens, AC Margaux, Grand Cru Classé, Bordeaux, France (#466540) (XD) - $54.95
  • DOMAINE DE CRISTIA VIEILLES VIGNES CHÂTEAUNEUF-DU-PAPE 2012 - AC, Rhône, France (#071381) (XD) - $107.00  FSE
  • SOLAIA 2012 - IGT Toscana, Italy (#987586) (D) - $254.95
Fattoria dei Barbi Brunello di Montalcino 2010 - DOCG, Tuscany, Italy (91 pts)

White Wine:

  • SAN RAFFAELE MONTE TABOR PINOT GRIGIO 2015 - IGT Veneto, Italy (#204768) (XD) - $13.95  reviewed here
  • KIR-YIANNI ESTATE WHITE 2015 - Samaropetra Vineyard, PGI Florina, Greece (#464511) - $17.95
  • TYRRELL’S LOST BLOCK SEMILLON 2015 - Hunter Valley, New South Wales, Australia (#933200) (XD) - $17.95
  • ST. PAULS CHARDONNAY 2014 - DOC Südtirol/Alto Adige, Italy (#455170) (XD) - $18.95
  • ANDRÉ BLANCK & FILS ALTENBURG GEWÜRZTRAMINER 2015 - AC, Alsace, France (#168906) (M) - $19.95
  • MASTROBERARDINO RADICI FIANO DI AVELLINO 2014 - DOCG, Campania, Italy (#323998) (XD) - $19.95
  • HIDDEN BENCH ESTATE RIESLING 2014 - VQA Beamsville Bench, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#183491) (D) - $23.75  reviewed here
  • JEAN-MAX ROGER CUVÉE LES CAILLOTTES SANCERRE 2015 - AC, Loire, France (#065573) (XD) - $26.95  reviewed here
  • WEINBACH CUVÉE LAURENCE GEWURZTRAMINER 2013 - AC Alsace, France (#581975) (M) - $64.00  FSE
  • STONY HILL CHARDONNAY 2010 - Napa Valley, California, USA (#444471) (XD) - $71.00  FSE
Hidden Bench Estate Riesling 2014 - VQA Beamsville Bench, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (90 pts) San Raffaele Monte Tabor Pinot Grigio 2015 - IGT Veneto, Italy (87 pts)

Sparkling Wine:

  • SEGURA VIUDAS BRUT RESERVA HEREDAD CAVA - Méthode traditionnelle, DO, Spain (#558825) (D) - $29.95
  • MOËT & CHANDON GRAND VINTAGE BRUT CHAMPAGNE 2008 - AC, France (#069773) (D) - $89.95

Dessert Wine:

  • CAVE SPRING RIESLING ICEWINE 2014 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#447441) (S) (375 mL) - $49.95  reviewed here
Cave Spring Riesling Icewine 2014 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (91 pts)

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