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  • Thursday, November 6, 2014

Juvé y Camps Cinta Purpura Reserva Brut Cava 2010 (Spain) - Wine Review

One normally opens a Sparkling Wine to mark a celebration. So, last Sunday I decided to open this lovely Cava to celebrate... for no reason!

This delicious Cava is made with local grape varietals Macabeo, Xarel-lo, and Parellada, using the traditional method. The 2009 vintage of this Cava was among my VINTAGES wine picks last December. I expect this 2010 version will be in VINTAGES this coming December.

JUVÉ Y CAMPS CINTA PURPURA RESERVA BRUT CAVA 2010 - DO Penedes, Spain (#352864) (XD) - $17.95
Wine Review of 2010 Juvé y Camps Cinta Purpura Reserva Brut Cava from DO Penedes, Spain
Tasting Note:
Medium intensity nose bouncing between yeast, bread, walnuts and floral and tropical fruit notes. It's palate is mid-weight with fresh, balanced acids and a good amount of mousse. Nutty, peach, floral and tropical flavours on the palate with just a kiss of sweetness. Lengthy, dry finish. Delicious and recommended. Score: 89 pts

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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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  • Saturday, November 1, 2014

A Vintage Harvest - 2014 Niagara Wine Festival Review

The 63rd Annual Niagara Wine Festival returned last month, running for three weekends from September 13 to 28. I usually attend one of the first two weekends, but this time decided to attend the final weekend of the festival. Considering the bad luck we had with weather and the annual Fall closing of the Gardiner Expressway last year, I was a little worried what might happen this time around, with no fall back date. Sadly, the Gardiner was once again closed this weekend. Fortunately for us, the weather was perfect - sunny skies and hot - as it felt like the Summer we never had. The weather more than made up for the crappy drive out of the city.

Wine tasting at GreenLane Estate Winery
We began our journey on afternoon at GreenLane Estate Winery. This was my first visit to their "new" location, which they moved to about a year ago, and I must say is quite the step up from their old digs on South Service Road. Our first wine of the day was their 2012 Rosé - an off-dry wine that was a nice prelude to the main course. While our delicious Lake Erie Perch tacos were being freshly prepared on the grill, we were also poured their latest new release - the 2013 Winemaker's White. Slightly off-dry, this crisp, white wine with lively acids paired beautifully with the Perch tacos that were stuffed with sweet bell peppers, cucumbers, and chives, all drizzled with a chili and lime sour cream and wrapped in a soft, flour tortilla. When paired with the taco, the wine's sweet flavours shone through, while the lively acids from both the wine and taco resulted in what felt like a party in my mouth. Very enjoyable overall while sitting on their lovely outdoor patio - we could have sat there all day.

Enjoying Lake Erie Perch tacos on the patio at GreenLane Estate WineryLake Erie Perch tacos paired with 2013 GreenLane Winemaker's White

Our second stop of the afternoon was in the fermentation room at Vineland Estates Winery for pairings of chicken wings and wine. I've paired wine with wings many a time at home, but was intrigued with this winery's Icewine pairing. First, we paired the Kansas City "Big Smoke" Chipotle wings with the 2013 O'Leary Cabernet Merlot (#307744, $14.95) - a fine, comfort pairing that nicely balanced the flavourful wings with the dry, somewhat fruity, red wine that had good tannic structure. The second wine we tasted was their gorgeous Select Late Harvest Vidal (~$19, 90 pts). Very flavourful and with balanced acids, this sweet, dessert wine paired beautifully with the sweet & spicy Habanero Bourbon brown sugar wings. If you've never tried pairing sweet wines with spicy foods, I would highly encourage you to try it - as it is quite the unexpected treat.

Pouring wine at Vineland Estates WineryChicken wings and 2013 O'Leary Cabernet Merlot

The third stop was at a very busy Creekside Estate Winery - so busy that the parking lot was full and we had to resort to parking on the grass (sorry about that!). Likely due to the growing popularity of Niagara's Grape & Wine Festival, waiting for clean glasses seemed to be a developing trend today. After clean glasses finally arrived, we tasted the 2011 Laura's White (#121764, $18.95, 87 pts) while waiting for freshly baked French Onion tarts - caramelized onions and black olives deglazed with red wine and served on a puff pastry. By the time the tarts arrived, we had already moved on to 2011 Laura's Red (#117960, $19.95, 88 pts). This red wine paired well with good acids, medium-level of tannins, and a flavour profile that complemented the tart. I believe the tart would have also paired well with Laura's White.

We then made our way outside to begin a tour of the winery. Our host, David, led us to the vineyards located just west of the tasting room where they grow Sauvignon Blanc for their Reserve line - grapes which we actually got to taste on this day! The tour brought us through their crush pad, grape sorter and de-stemmer, and finishing off in the underground barrel cellar. We returned to the tasting room at the conclusion of the tour to taste a few more wines, including a couple of my favourites of the day - the 2012 Reserve Viognier and 2011 Broken Press Syrah (reviews below).

Freshly baked French Onion tartsWine tour at Creekside Estate Winery

Barrel cellar at Creekside Estate WineryBarrel cellar at Creekside Estate Winery

Our last winery visit of the day was at Konzelmann Estate Winery in Niagara-on-the-Lake. It was a very festive atmosphere on this day as the winery was celebrating it's own Wine Fest with outdoor live music and food trucks. It was very busy, so we headed straight inside to pick up our generously-sized creamy apple-spiced cheesecake on a graham cracker crust and topped sweet caramel drizzle. This delicious cheesecake was paired with their yummy 2013 Special Select Late Harvest Vidal - a medium-sweet dessert wine with fresh acidity that balanced the sweetness and cut through the creaminess of the cheesecake. Not bad way to finish off a Saturday!

Cheesecake and Konzelmann Late Harvest VidalCreamy Apple-Spiced Cheesecake and 2013 Konzelmann Special Select Late Harvest Vidal

Group photo on the patio at PondView Estate Winery
began with a visit to PondView Estate Winery. We arrived before noon, which was the perfect time to enjoy lamb in a creamy curry and savoury spices, combined with potatoes, onion, cilantro and served over basmati rice. It was paired with their 2011 Bella Terra Barrel Fermented Chardonnay ($25.95, 89 pts), the same wine I tasted last September. I approached this food and wine pairing with great enthusiasm, but came away somewhat disappointed. The Chardonnay held up well to the red meat, but the lamb curry was very dry and lacked flavour. Last year's food pairing was much more enjoyable. On the plus side, food portions were once again quite generous.

Caretto at PillitteriPillitteri Icewine Showcase

The second stop of the day was at Pillitteri Estates Winery for some comfort food and wine. But first, Jeff Letvenuk - Marketing and Media Manager, took us on a very interesting tour of the winery that traces its roots back to 1965 as a small fruit farm. Our tour began in the Awards Room, where Jeff introduced us to the Caretto - an original Sicilian Cart brought from Italy by (founder) Gary Pillitteri's mother. This Caretto is intricately painted and designed and is now considered a family heirloom as it has been passed down many generations. As we moved outside to the vineyard, we stopped at the Wall of Icewine showcase that displayed the many Icewines that Pillitteri had produced over the years, including their first ever Icewine - a gold medal winning 1988 Vidal Icewine. Today, Pillitteri is the largest Estate producer of Icewine. After walking among the vines, we proceed to the fermentation room and cellar. En route, it was fascinating to see Gary keep one of the original cherry trees that was on this site prior to his arrival in 1965. The wine barrel cellar is a gem of a private space that is used exclusively by the family. All throughout the tour, from the name of the tasting rooms to the intricate details found in the chairs inside the barrel cellar, we could see that family was very important to Gary.

Custom designed chairs in barrel cellarBarrel cellar at Pillitteri Estates Winery

After we finished admiring the cellar room, we headed back upstairs and outside towards the patio to enjoy Chef Collin Goodine's famous 'baked potato' poutine. I paired my poutine with Pillitteri's heavily oaked 2010 Cabernet Franc ($20.20, 87 pts) - a pairing that was comforting in a very comfortable setting. The poutine was delicious, while the red wine's balanced acids complemented the sour cream and fries quite well. We also tasted some fabulous, premium+ red wines from Pillitteri's lineup - reviews and recommendations are below.

Chef Collin Goodine preparing his famous 'baked potato' poutineChef Collin Goodine's baked potato poutine with 2010 Pillitteri Cabernet Franc

Niagara College Teaching Winery was our third stop of the day. Here, we enjoyed a freshly baked Smoked Onion and Upper Canada Niagara Gold Cheese Tartlette, which was paired with their 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon (#121715, $18.95, 87 pts). The tannins from the Cab helped cut into the creaminess from the cheese and kept everything nicely balanced. Sundays tend to be quieter in Niagara, and today was no exception. We ended up sitting outside on NCT's lovely patio for quite some time, sampling a few wines while the autumn sun basked in the sky.

2010 Niagara College Cabernet Sauvignon paired with Smoked Onion and Upper Canada Gold Cheese Tartlette

Vieni EstatesButternut quash lasagna paired 2012 Vieni Chardonnay

The next stop was an unplanned visit to Vieni Estates. This winery has been on my radar for the last year, but I never quite made it to the site. Furthermore, a conversation with Oenoapp prior to the weekend had me seriously considering a stop, time permitting. Vieni was serving a roasted garlic, butternut squash lasagna, layered with mozzarella, parmigiano and pecorino cheese, which I paired with their tasty 2012 Chardonnay (reviewed below). The lasagne was thinly layered, but tasted great and felt like it was homemade. It was generously portioned and paired well with the Chardonnay, leading to a very satisfying experience overall. Manager Steven DiMora was kind enough to give us a quick tour of the facilities, while giving us some insight into their future plans which include a made-in-Ontario Amarone-style of wine that I am definitely looking forward to tasting.

Enjoying vegetable lasagna cupcakes tops with 2010 Legends Estates Semillon from Lizak Vineyard. VQA Niagara Peninsula
Our final stop of this trip was at Legends Estates Winery for a different take on lasagna - homemade vegetable lasagna cupcakes that were creamy and colourful. These lasagna cupcakes were a good size and really did look like cupcakes, topped with cheese and crunchy vegetables. It was savoury and paired well with a variety of their white wines, including the 2013 Semillon ($16.95, 87 pts) and a 2010 Sauvignon Blanc Reserve ($19.50, 86 pts) that is holding up quite well at 4 years old.

Aside from waiting for clean glasses and treats to be freshly baked, it was a very enjoyable weekend in Niagara with no hiccups and great weather. I noticed that portion sizes for nearly all the food items were generously (and appropriately) portioned. By the end, my stomach was joyously satisfied and did not feel the need to stop at a Tim Horton's. As for the wine, the quality keeps getting better and better. Red wines from the 2012 vintage are showing great structure and complexity, with very good ageing potential. I was pleasantly surprised by Creekside's Syrah and Viognier, as well as some of the higher-end wines from Pillitteri.

Lastly, thank you to all the wineries for your excellent hospitality - it was very much appreciated!

Tasting Notes:
This white wine is a blend of Chardonnay and Riesling with floral, lime and green apple aromas of medium intensity. It's light-bodied with crisp, refreshing acids, and tropical fruits notes on the palate, along with pleasing, mineral-driven aroma replays. Finish is lightly spiced. Score: 86 pts

Medium+ intensity aromas showing a very complex nose of red berries, currants, bramble, coconut and vanillan. Medium+ bodied with nice aroma replays and light brettyness. Very good acids, while firm tannins are silky smooth, yet could use some softening. Finish is medium-long. Score: 88 pts

CREEKSIDE RESERVE VIOGNIER 2012 - Queenston Road Vineyard, VQA St. David's Bench (XD) - $29.95
Aromas of medium intensity with notes of elderflower, honeysuckle, and elegant peach and mineral. Full-bodied palate that is creamy and slightly oily, with very nice aroma replays. Acids are nicely balanced, while the spiced mid-palate continues on the lengthy finish. Score: 89 pts

Wine Review of 2012 Creekside Reserve Viognier from Queenston Road Vineyard, VQA St. David's BenchWine Review of 2011 Creekside Broken Press Syrah from Queenston Road Vineyard, VQA St. David's Bench

CREEKSIDE BROKEN PRESS SYRAH 2011 - Queenston Road Vineyard, VQA St. David's Bench (#202127) (XD) - $39.95
Includes 5-8% Viognier. Highly aromatic with meaty, black peppercorn, and blackberry aromas with hints of floral and mushroom. It's palate is medium+ bodied, showing elegant aroma replays and taut tannins. Very nicely balanced, mouth-watering acids and long finishing. Would cellar this 2-3 years. Score: 91 pts

Highly aromatic nose of apricots, peach, and honey which replay on the medium-sweet palate, along with some lime zest. It's medium-bodied with balanced, fresh acids and excellent length on the finish. Score: 90 pts

Wine Review of 2010 Pillitteri Exclamation Cabernet Sauvignon from VQA Niagara-on-the-LakeWine Review of 2005 Pillitteri Family Reserve Trivalente from VQA Niagara PeninsulaWine Review of 2012 Pillitteri Reserve Cabernet Franc Icewine from VQA Niagara, Peninsula

PILLITTERI EXCLAMATION CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2010 - VQA Niagara-on-the-Lake (#) (XD) - $50.20
Highly aromatic with plenty of cassis, blackcurrant and camphor notes. On the palate, it's full-bodied with very nice aroma replays joined by some wood flavours. Has mouth-watering acids, and smooth, sinewy tannins that are very nicely integrated. Lengthy finish has dark chocolate and wood nuances. Score: 91 pts

PILLITTERI FAMILY RESERVE TRIVALENTE 2005 - VQA Niagara Peninsula (#) (XD) - $98.20
Blend of Cab Sauv, Cab Franc and Merlot that is highly aromatic with a savoury nose of barnyard, tilled earth, dark berries and plum. It's full-bodied with crushed red & dark berries, dark chocolate, and elegantly balanced (French) oak on the palate. Very good acids, smooth integrated tannins and lengthy finish. Score: 92 pts

PILLITTERI RESERVE CABERNET FRANC ICEWINE 2012 - VQA Niagara Peninsula (#) (S) - ~$70?
Gorgeous, highly intense aromas of strawberry, cherry and hints of caramel with very nice aroma replays. Crisp, balanced acids keep the sweetness in check. Long, smooth finish. Score: 92 pts

Nose somewhat closed but showed interesting butterscotch, sweet pear, bubblegum and pineapple aromas. Medium-to-full bodied and creamy mouthfeel with pineapple, bubblegum, and oak spice flavours on the palate. Good acids, while the finishing long, smooth, and toasty. Score: 89 pts

NCT CABERNET FRANC 2010 - Donald Ziraldo Vineyard, VQA St. David's Bench (#) (XD) - $19.15
Medium intensity nose showing elegant oak, bramble, mulberry and pomegranate aromas with good fruit/oak balanced on the palate. It's full-bodied with astringent tannins that could use at least 2 years in cellar. Finish is long and warming. Score: 88 pts

NCT DEAN'S LIST CABERNET FRANC 2011 - VQA St. David's Bench (#) (XD) - $28.15
Aromas of medium-high intensity with elegant oak, crushed red berries, black cherry and plummy notes. It's medium-to-full bodied with crushed red & blue fruits, tilled earth, and vanillan spice flavours on the palate. Good acids and a long, warm finish. Score: 89 pts

VIENI CHARDONNAY 2012 - VQA Vinemount Ridge (#) (D) - $22.95
Low-to-medium intensity nose featuring pear and apple aromas, along with a whiff of smoke. Full-bodied with sweet ripe fruits, apple, coconut, butterscotch and pineapple flavours. very good acids. Spiced mid-palate continues on the long finish. Score 88 pts

VIENI CABERNET SAUVIGNON RESERVE 2010 - VQA Vinemount Ridge (#373308) (XD) - $22.95
Medium-high intensity aromas with savoury notes of barnyard, tilled earth and black currant. It's full-bodied with nice aroma replays. Balanced acids to go along with smooth, integrated tannins and long finish. Score: 89+ pts

LEGENDS ESTATES PETIT VERDOT RESERVE 2007 - VQA Niagara Peninsula (#002776) (XD) - $22.95
Aromas of medium+ intensity with crushed blackberries, mint/eucalypt and earthy nose. It's full-bodied with lovely aroma replays and good balance throughout. Has very good acids and firm tannins. Finish is elegantly spiced and lengthy. Score: 89 pts

LEGENDS ESTATES CABERNET SAUVIGNON RESERVE 2012 - Lizak Vineyard, VQA Lincoln Lakeshore (#) (XD) - $21.90
Highly aromatic nose showing grilled pepper, earthy, black cherry, and cassis notes, while the flavour profiles echoes the aromas very nicely. The palate is full-bodied with firm tannins and mouth-watering acids. Will be better in 2-3 years. Score: 90+ pts

Wine Review of 2012 Legends Estates Cabernet Sauvignon from Lizak Vineyard, VQA Lincoln Lakeshore

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  • Monday, October 20, 2014

Oct. 25 LCBO Wine Picks: Tuscany + Chile

LCBO Wine Picks from October 25, 2014 VINTAGES Release
The next batch of wines from the upcoming LCBO VINTAGES release will be on shelves this . Some stores actually put wines on shelves a few days earlier - keep this in mind as you begin your holiday shopping.

This release highlights so-called "Trophy Wines" from the old world region of Tuscany, while the secondary feature is on the rising wines from the new world region of Chile. There are some wines from each feature that are worth pursuing.

We'll begin in Tuscany, where 15 wines are featured (all reds) and 3 wines made my list of wine picks. The Chianti is mostly Sangiovese with 5% Colorino and 5% Canaiolo added, and is one you'll want to enjoy over the next couple of years. Both Brunellos are 100% Sangiovese and can be enjoyed over the next decade. Partly because it's 2 years older, the '07 Livio Sassetti Pertimali can be enjoyed now, while you'll want to wait a few years for the tannins in the '09 Poggiotondo to settle before opening.

Wine Review of 2011 Emiliana Coyam from Colchagua Valley, Chile
Of 8 wines featured from Chile, I recommend 3 red wines. First up is the certified organic Emiliana Coyam that is a blend of 38% Syrah, 31% Carmenère, 19% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon, 1% Mourvedre, and 1% Malbec. No Chilean list would be complete without a Carmenère, in this case a Single Vineyard version from Caliterra that also contains 6% Cabernet Franc and 3% Syrah and made using sustainable viticultural practices. And lastly, there is a Cabernet Sauvignon from Morandé.

From the rest of the release, the Pirramimma Katunga GTS sounds like a fast car, but is really a big tannin, delicious red wine made with Grenache, Tannat and Syrah. A pair of Rhône blends are also worth your attention - the Bacchantes is a blend of Grenache, Mourvèdre and Syrah, while the Châteauneuf-du-Pape is a blen of 70% Grenache, 20% Syrah, 5% Cinsault and 5% Mourvèdre and can be enjoyed over the next decade.

Those wanting to explore the world of Chardonnay can seek out any of the 4 cool-climate Chardonnays from my wine recommendations below. The versions from Flat Rock and the Chablis from Domaine Hamelin are unoaked styles, while the versions from Le Clos Jordanne and Ramey are oaked, but show excellent balance between fruit and oak.

For those folks who prefer sweeter wines, check out the off-dry (i.e. slightly sweet) Gewürztraminer from B.C. or the always delicious medium in sweetness Sketches Riesling from Niagara's Tawse Winery. Taking the sweetness level up a couple of notches is the Quady Elysium that's made using the Black Muscat grape and ideally suited for pairing with rich desserts.

Enjoy my wine recommendations for this week. Cheers!

Red Wine:
  • CALITERRA TRIBUTO SINGLE VINEYARD CARMENÈRE 2011 - Colchagua Valley, Chile (#056630) (XD) - $16.95
  • DOMAINE DES BACCHANTES CÔTES DU RHÔNE 2012 - AC, Rhône, France (#380717) (XD) - $16.95
  • MORANDÉ GRAN RESERVA CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2011 - Maipo Valley, Chile (#389254) (XD) - $17.00  reviewed here
  • ROCCA DI CASTAGNOLI CHIANTI CLASSICO 2011 - DOCG, Tuscany, Italy (#222810) (XD) - $17.00
  • HEARTLAND SHIRAZ 2012 - Langhorne Creek/Limestone Coast, South Australia (#661934) (XD) - $18.95
  • PIRRAMIMMA KATUNGA GTS 2012 - McLaren Vale, South Australia (#203174) (XD) - $19.95  reviewed here
  • EMILIANA COYAM 2011 - Colchagua Valley, Chile (#063891) (XD) - $29.95  reviewed here
  • POGGIOTONDO BRUNELLO DI MONTALCINO 2009 - DOCG, Tuscany, Italy (#276576) (XD) - $36.95
  • GIACOSA BUSSIA BAROLO 2009 - DOCG, Piedmont, Italy (#344721) (XD) - $39.95
  • LIVIO SASSETTI PERTIMALI BRUNELLO DI MONTALCINO 2007 - DOCG, Tuscany, Italy (#287284) (XD) - $45.95
  • DOMAINE PIERRE USSEGLIO ET FILS CHÂTEAUNEUF-DU-PAPE 2010 - AC, Rhône, France (#381079) (XD) - $45.95

White Wine:
  • DOMAINE LA HAUTE FEVRIE SÈVRE & MAINE SUR LIE MUSCADET 2013 - AC, Loire, France (#390625) (XD) - $13.95
  • QUAIL’S GATE GEWÜRZTRAMINER 2013 - VQA Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, Canada (#391797) (D) - $16.95
  • FLAT ROCK UNPLUGGED CHARDONNAY 2013 - VQA Twenty Mile Bench, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#068015) (XD) - $16.95
  • YALUMBA THE Y SERIES VIOGNIER 2013 - South Australia (#624502) (XD) - $16.95
  • TAWSE SKETCHES OF NIAGARA RIESLING 2013 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#089029) (M) - $17.95
  • LOIMER GRÜNER VELTLINER 2013 - DAC Kamptal, Austria (#142240) (XD) - $19.95
  • DOMAINE HAMELIN BEAUROY CHABLIS 1 ER CRU 2011 - AC, Burgundy, France (#391805) (XD) - $29.95
  • DOMAINES SCHLUMBERGER SAERING RIESLING 2010 - AC Alsace Grand Cru, France (#627950) (XD) - $30.95
  • LE CLOS JORDANNE CLAYSTONE TERRACE CHARDONNAY 2011 - VQA Twenty Mile Bench, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#056929) (XD) - $40.00
  • RAMEY CHARDONNAY 2012 - Sonoma Coast, California, USA (#288035) (XD) - $45.95  reviewed here

Fortified Wine:
  • QUADY ELYSIUM BLACK MUSCAT 2013 - California, USA (#276840) (S) (375 mL) - $14.95

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

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  • Sunday, October 12, 2014

Karlo Estates Pinot Grigio 2013 and Lake on the Mountain Riesling 2013 (PEC) - Wine Reviews

To celebrate , I decided to open up these two wines from Prince Edward County's Karlo Estates. Both are crisp, refreshing white wines with balanced acids suitable for pairing with traditional Thanksgiving fare. Tonight, these wines were enjoyed with chicken wings, puff pastry pizza, and Shake'n Bake chicken. Neither of these wines are available at the LCBO, so you'll have to make the trek out to The County - just as I've promised myself to next year.

Wine Reviews of Karlo Estates 2013 Pinot Grigio and 2013 Lake on the Mountain Riesling from Prince Edward County, Ontario, Canada

KARLO ESTATES PINOT GRIGIO 2013 - Prince Edward County, Ontario, Canada (XD) - ~$21
Medium+ intensity aromas featuring lovely, slightly sweet, wild flower, rose, and honeysuckle. It's medium-bodied on the dry palate with pleasing aroma replays, and some lemony notes. Acids are nicely balanced, while finish is lengthy, crisp, and showing hints of tartness. Score: 88 pts

KARLO ESTATES LAKE ON THE MOUNTAIN RIESLING 2013 - Prince Edward County, Ontario, Canada (D) - $22
Medium-intensity nose with beeswax, wood, pink grapefruit aromas. Medium-full bodied on the palate with off-dry flavours of spice, ginger, grapefruit, and tropical fruit. Bright acids give way to mineral, slightly chalky texture. Lengthy finish is bitter, dry and slightly warm. Score: 87 pts

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  • Monday, October 6, 2014

Oct. 11 LCBO Wine Picks: Sonoma + Piedmont

LCBO Wine Picks from October 11, 2014 VINTAGES Release
The next LCBO Vintages release arrives on shelves this , which is also Thanksgiving long weekend. If you still need to buy wine to help celebrate Thanksgiving, then this release arrives just in time for you. The main focus of this release is on wines from Sonoma, which coincides with the upcoming Sonoma County Vintners wine tasting event that takes place this Thursday, October 9th. The mini-feature in this release highlights wines that are nestled in the Alpine foothills - Piedmont.

Given that only 3 of the 26 wines featured from Sonoma and Piedmont are included among my wine picks, it goes without saying that I am somewhat disappointed with the wines chosen for this release. However, I fully expect the upcoming Sonoma and Italian wine tasting events to have a much better showing.

The lone wine from Sonoma is the Benzinger (oaked) Chardonnay, the grapes from which were grown using certified sustainable practices. Both of my wine recommendations from Piedmont are not common for the region. The Prunotto is a 60/40 blend consisting of Barbera and Syrah, while the Borgogno is made using 100% Freisa, a grape that can be dated back to the 16th century and was once very prominent and widely planted in Piedmont.

From the rest of the release, there's an interesting Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot Bordeaux-blend from Morocco. If you've never tried wine from this country, this is a great place to start! Another Bordeaux-blend is South Africa's Rustenberg John X Merriman, consisting of 55% Cab Sauv, 37% Merlot, 4% Petit Verdot, 2% Malbec and 2% Cab Franc. From actual Bordeaux are a couple of stellar 2010s - both the Château Hanteillan and Château La Tour Carnet feature similar blends consisting of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon, with small dollops of Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. From Spain, the Lealtanza Reserva is 100% Tempranillo, while the red wine from the dessert lands of Patagonia is a blend of 90% Malbec and 10% Merlot. The last of the reds is from Tuscany's Ornellaia, consisting of 52% Merlot, 28% Cab Sauv, 12% Petit Verdot, and 8% Cabernet Franc; this is a big wine that you'll want to decant and serve now or cellar for at least 5 years.

There are plenty of choices for sweet wine lovers as well, with three Gewürztraminers (2 from Alsace and 1 from Ontario) and a pair of German Rieslings.

Enjoy my LCBO wine picks from this Vintages release. May you enjoy great wine and give thanks with your family this .

Red Wine:
  • DOMAINE DE SAHARI 2012 - AG Guerrouane, Morocco (#092825) (XD) - $16.95
  • VIÑA TARAPACÁ GRAN RESERVA CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2012 - Maipo Valley, Chile (#018721) (XD) - $17.95  reviewed here
  • PRUNOTTO MOMPERTONE 2011 - DOC Monferrato, Piedmont, Italy (#388587) (XD) - $18.95
  • NK’MIP CELLARS MERLOT 2011 - VQA Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, Canada (#626416) (XD) - $18.95
  • CHÂTEAU HANTEILLAN 2010 - AC Haut-Médoc, Bordeaux, France (#377408) (XD) - $19.95
  • KATOGI & STROFILIA AVEROFF XINOMAVRO 2008 - PDO Naoussa, Greece (#249615) (XD) - $19.95
  • LEALTANZA RESERVA 2009 - DOCa Rioja, Spain (#208223) (XD) - $20.95  reviewed here
  • BORGOGNO LANGHE FREISA 2012 - DOC, Piedmont, Italy (#388660) (XD) - $21.95
  • RUSTENBERG JOHN X MERRIMAN 2011 - WO Stellenbosch, South Africa (#707323) (XD) - $24.95
  • BODEGA NOEMÍA A LISA 2012 - Patagonia, Argentina (#385765) (XD) - $25.95
  • PODERE CIONA RISERVA CHIANTI CLASSICO 2010 - DOCG, Tuscany, Italy (#385070) (XD) - $31.95
  • MITOLO SAVITAR SHIRAZ 2009 - McLaren Vale, South Australia (#659581) (XD) - $49.95
  • CHÂTEAU LA TOUR CARNET 2010 - 4e Cru, AC Haut-Médoc, Bordeaux, France (#259986) (XD) - $59.85
  • LE SERRE NUOVE DELL’ORNELLAIA 2012 - DOC Bolgheri Rosso, Tuscany, Italy (#606194) (XD) - $59.95  reviewed here

White Wine:
  • CAVE SPRING ESTATE BOTTLED GEWÜRZTRAMINER 2012 - Cave Spring Vineyard, VQA Beamsville Bench, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#302059) (D) - $17.95
  • ALBERT SCHOECH RÉSERVE GEWÜRZTRAMINER 2012 - AC Alsace, France (#385351) (D) - $17.95
  • ANDRÉ BLANCK ET SES FILS ALTENBURG GEWÜRZTRAMINER 2013 - AC Alsace, France (#168906) (MS) - $19.95
  • BENZIGER CHARDONNAY 2012 - Sonoma County, California, USA (#034777) (XD) - $19.95
  • ARGYROS ASSYRTIKO 2013 - PDO Santorini, Greece (#387365) (XD) - $19.95
  • DR. LOOSEN ÜRZIGER WÜRZGARTEN RIESLING KABINETT 2013 - Pradikätswein, Mosel, Germany (#927756) (MD) - $21.95  reviewed here
  • VILLA MARIA CELLAR SELECTION SAUVIGNON BLANC 2013 - Marlborough, South Island, New Zealand (#974527) (XD) - $21.95  reviewed here
  • STUDERT-PRÜM WEHLENER SONNENUHR RIESLING SPÄTLESE 2012 - Pradikätswein, Mosel, Germany (#912659) (M) - $28.95  reviewed here

Sparkling Wine:
  • LOUIS BOUILLOT PERLE RARE BRUT CRÉMANT DE BOURGOGNE 2009 - AC, Burgundy, France (#178137) (D) - $19.95
  • CYGNUS BRUT NATURE RESERVA CAVA - Méthode Champenoise, DO, Spain (#352856) (XD) - $19.95

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

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  • Friday, October 3, 2014

Handsome Brut Sparkling Wine (Niagara) - Wine Review

Tonight's wine is brand spanking new and was very recently launched at the LCBO. Handcrafted by award-winning Angels Gate Winery, I received this sample to try and share my thoughts with all of you. This dry, sparkling wine is available in small quantities throughout the province as part of the LCBO General List.

There is also an interesting mixer cocktail recipe that includes Brandy on the Handsome Brut website, which I will be trying tomorrow. For your convenience, the recipe is also provided at the end of this post.

HANDSOME BRUT - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#395160) (XD) - $24.95

Wine Review of Handsome Brut from VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada
Tasting Note:
100% Chardonnay made in the méthode traditionelle style. Cleam lime and citrus nose of medium intensity with leesy, toasty notes on the back end. Mouth-filling with lime, buttered bread, mineral, lees, and a slight hint of sweetness on the palate. Fine mousse, balanced acids, medium-length citrus-tinged finish. Handsome wine that will pair well with Dungeness Crab Curry! Score: 88+ pts

Handsome Brut Old Fashioned Recipe:

  1. Add 1/2 teaspoon of sugar to your glass; sprinkle with 3–6 dashes of bitters.
  2. Pour 1/2 cup of Handsome Brut on top, followed by 1 oz. of Brandy.
  3. Garnish with a maraschino cherry and a lemon slice.
  4. Brood like Don Draper.

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