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  • Saturday, February 21, 2015

Feb. 21 LCBO Wine Picks: Australia 2012 + Award-Winning Ontario Wines

Wine Picks from February 21, 2015 LCBO VINTAGES Release
Here are my wine picks from today's release. Apologies for the delay in posting my picks from the LCBO VINTAGES release as I am currently on vacation and had to deal with jet lag, a minor bout with a stomache virus, and a death in the family. Therefore, this will be a short write-up.

This release focuses on Australia's magnificent 2012 vintage, while the mini-theme highlights four award-winning local Ontario wines, three of which are included among my wine recommendations below. The wines from Château des Charmes, Peller Estates and Inniskillin are all award winners.

From the 16 wines featured in the Australia theme, four of the wines made my wine picks. Included in my list below is a dry (not sweet) Riesling, a Cabernet Sauvignon, and a pair of Australian Shirazes. Down the road, I will be anxiously awaiting an aged Semillon from this fine vintage.


Red Wine:
  • ROTLLÁN TORRA 2010 - DOCa Priorat, Spain (#267989) (XD) - $18.95
  • BLEASDALE MULBERRY TREE CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2012 - Langhorne Creek, South Australia (#661892) (XD) - $17.95
  • FOWLES STONE DWELLERS SHIRAZ 2012 - Strathbogie Ranges, Victoria, Australia (#265967) (XD) - $19.95
  • LENTO LAMEZIA RISERVA 2010 - DOC Lamezia Rosso, Calabria, Italy (#972208) (XD) - $19.95
  • QUINTA DO MONDEGO 2009 - DOC Dão, Portugal (#399766) (XD) - $19.95
  • VIÑA CASABLANCA NIMBUS SINGLE VINEYARD SYRAH 2011 - Casablanca Valley, Chile (#399386) (XD) - $19.95
  • CHÂTEAU MOULINS-LISTRAC 2010 - AC Puisseguin Saint-Émilion, Bordeaux, France (#403048) (XD) - $21.95
  • DOMAINE DU GRAPILLON D’OR GIGONDAS 2012 - AC, Rhône, France (#981787) (XD) - $32.95
  • YANGARRA SHIRAZ 2012 - McLaren Vale, South Australia (#911974) (XD) - $32.95
  • FONTODI CHIANTI CLASSICO 2011 - DOCG, Tuscany, Italy (#933317) (XD) - $34.95

White Wine:
  • JEAN BIECHER & FILS RESERVE RIESLING 2012 - AP Alsace, France (#403105) (D) - $14.95
  • RIDGE ROAD RIESLING 2013 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#346858) (M) - $15.95
  • CHÂTEAU DES CHARMES OLD VINES RIESLING 2012 - VQA Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada (#277228) (D) - $16.95  reviewed here
  • LAWSON’S DRY HILLS SAUVIGNON BLANC 2014 - Marlborough, South Island, New Zealand (#214460) (XD) - $18.95
  • ESSER CHARDONNAY 2012 - Monterey County, California, USA (#675017) (XD) - $18.95
  • WITHER HILLS RARANGI SINGLE VINEYARD SAUVIGNON BLANC 2013 - Marlborough, South Island, New Zealand (#288134) (XD) - $21.95
  • BURNING KILN STICK SHAKER SAVAGNIN 2013 - VQA Ontario, Canada (#367144) (D) - $24.95
  • JIM BARRY THE LODGE HILL DRY RIESLING 2012 - Clare Valley, South Australia (#262469) (XD) - $25.95
  • ANDREW PELLER SIGNATURE SERIES SAUVIGNON BLANC 2012 - VQA Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada (#405043) (XD) - $30.20  reviewed here
  • HARTFORD COURT CHARDONNAY 2012 - Russian River Valley, Sonoma County, California, USA (#404277) (XD) - $39.95  reviewed here

  • LUSTAU PENÍNSULA SOLERA RESERVA PALO CORTADO - DO Jerez, Spain (#677856) (D) (375 mL) - $18.95  Flagship Store Exclusive
  • DALVA 20-YEAR-OLD TAWNY PORT - DOP, Portugal (#400689) (S) - $46.95

Dessert Wine:
  • INNISKILLIN DISCOVERY SERIES BOTRYTIS AFFECTED VIOGNIER 2013 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#405027) (S) (375 mL) - $39.95

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

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  • Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Hoffmann-Simon Piesporter Goldtröpfchen Riesling Spätlese 2011 (Mosel) - Wine Review

Tonight's wine was purchased back in 2012 from the September 29 LCBO VINTAGES release and opened tonight to celebrate our 7th Wedding Anniversary. Not surprisingly, this excellent white wine is no longer available, but I wouldn't be surprised to see a future vintage re-appear on our shelves.

HOFFMANN-SIMON PIESPORTER GOLDTRÖPFCHEN RIESLING SPÄTLESE 2011 - Prädikatswein, Mosel, Germany (#216499) (MS) - $21.95

Wine Review of 2011 Hoffmann-Simon Piesporter Goldtröpfchen Riesling Spätlese from Mosel, Germany (91 pts)
Tasting Note:
Screw cap. Elegantly perfumed nose of florals, orange peel, peach, nectarine, and hints of ginger and plum. Palate is lean with a fine seam of acidity that dances across your tongue. Balanced, medium-sweet orange, peach, nectarine, and honey flavour profile with a nice mineral streak running throughout. Slightly chalky texture on the mid-palate that continues on to the very long finish. Only 9% alc./vol. Superb. Highly recommended. Will be enjoyed with homemade Chicken Lasagne. Score: 91 pts

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  • Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Burrowing Owl (British Columbia) Wine Tasting

Burrowing Owl Estate Winery Logo
In , I was invited to a very special tasting of wines by British Columbia's Burrow Owl Estate Winery. This tasting was hosted by their agent here in Ontario - Le Sommelier - and held at the Fine Wine Reserve.

Founder Jim Wyse had no intention of starting a winery when he began replanting vineyards in 1993 - his goal was to produce world class, premium quality grapes. Soon enough, however, he realized that his grapes were producing wines that gained immediate recognition. In 1997, Jim decided to build Burrowing Owl Estate Winery, with construction beginning early in 1998 and completing in time for that year's harvest. Today, Burrowing Owl uses state-of-the-art technologies, including a gravity-flow system to ensure grapes are handled delicately, with proven, classic winemaking traditions. Burrowing Owl also has a temperature controlled cave/cellar for fermentation and barrel ageing.

The vineyards at Burrowing Owl are varied and have deceptively fragile ecosystems which the team tries to maintain using environmentally-friendly methods. For pest control, bluebird boxes and bat nurseries are used to help contain insects in the vineyard, while snakes are safely relocated, and bears and big horned sheep are discouraged from munching on grapes but never harmed.

Nearly all of the 9 wines that were available for tasting were enjoyable. Here are wine reviews of 6 of my favourites.

Tasting Notes:
BURROWING OWL CHARDONNAY 2012 - BC VQA Okanagan Valley (#208694) (XD) - $33.95
Barrel fermented in 90% French oak and 10% American oak. Highly aromatic and very balanced nose showing orchard fruits, apple, pear and butter. It's medium-full bodied on the palate with bracing acids and very nice aroma replays. Oak-spiced mid-palate and very long finish. Released in VINTAGES last September and plenty in stock. Recommended. Score: 90+ pts

Wine Review of 2012 Burrowing Owl Chardonnay from BC VQA Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, Canada (90+ pts)Wine Review of 2012 Burrowing Owl Pinot Noir from BC VQA Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, Canada (89 pts)

BURROWING OWL PINOT NOIR 2012 - BC VQA Okanagan Valley (#556613) (XD) - $40.95
Nose appeared somewhat closed but had an appealing aromas of dark currant, beet root, and hints of raspberry, strawberry and cherry. Medium+ bodied and slightly creamy, with dark currants and aroma replays on the flavour profile. Fresh, mouth-watering acids, along with integrated tannins and a medium+ length, spiced finish. Plenty available in VINTAGES. Score: 89 pts

BURROWING OWL ATHENE 2010 - BC VQA Okanagan Valley (#373336) (XD) - $44.95
Blend of 60% Syrah and 40% Cab Sauv has a medium-to-high lifted nose of barnyard and earth with nuances of raspberry, plum and cedar aromas. On the palate, it's medium-to-full bodied with currant, blue fruits, dark cherry, floral, and cassis flavours. Very good, balanced acids and oak spiced mid-palate giving way to a long, warm finish. Firm tannins are still a bit tight - will be better in 2-3 years and will last up to 2020. Fine stuff. Score: 91 pts

Wine Review of 2010 Burrowing Owl Athene from BC VQA Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, Canada (91 pts)Wine Review of 2012 Burrowing Owl Cabernet Franc from BC VQA Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, Canada (90 pts)

BURROWING OWL CABERNET FRANC 2012 - BC VQA Okanagan Valley (#349019) (XD) - $43.95
Medium+ intensity aromas with green pepper, herb, currant, smoke and cedar aromas. Palate is medium-to-full bodied and crunchy with very good tannic structure. Savoury red & black fruits, currants, green pepper and oak flavour profile. Has mouth-watering acids and a medium-long finish. Will reward with 2-3 years cellar time. Available in VINTAGES. Score: 90 pts

BURROWING OWL MERLOT 2010 - BC VQA Okanagan Valley (#585737) (XD) - $40.95
Medium intensity aromas with oak at the forefront and underlying notes of mocha, dark berries, chocolate and plum. It's medium-to-full bodied with more oak-influenced flavours of vanillan, cedar, hickory, woodsy, and some black fruits and cocoa notes. Very good acids, firm tannins are integrating nicely. Long finish is warm. The 2011 is currently in VINTAGES. Score: 89 pts

Wine Review of 2010 Burrowing Owl Merlot from BC VQA Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, Canada (89 pts)Wine Review of 2010 Burrowing Owl Meritage from BC VQA Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, Canada (90 pts)

BURROWING OWL MERITAGE 2010 - BC VQA Okanagan Valley (#343038) (XD) - $59.95
Blend of 55% Cabernet Franc, 25% Merlot, 15% Cabernet Sauvignon, 2.5% Malbec and 2.5% Petit Verdot. Aromas of medium+ intensity show musky, fresh new wood, blackberry and eucalypt. Complex red & black fruits, mint, cassis, and woodsy flavours on a medium-bodied frame. Lively, fresh acids on the mid-palate, followed by firm, dusty tannins on the very long, slightly warm finish. Only 1 remaining at the LCBO (in Liberty Village, Toronto) as of this post. Score: 90 pts

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  • Tuesday, February 3, 2015

San Raffaele Monte Tabor Soave 2013 (Veneto) - Wine Review

Opened this crisp and refreshing white wine .

Monte Tabor has been cultivating vines organically since 1970. In 2006, Monte Tabor began managing another 50 hectares of Soave vineyards in Illasi. Today, viticulturalists and oenologists collaborate on the production of organic wines from these vineyards with the Fasoli family - a family that has been organic producers in the area for over 25 years.

This organic wine is featured in the  LCBO VINTAGES release and will be on shelves this Saturday.

SAN RAFFAELE MONTE TABOR SOAVE 2013 - DOC, Veneto, Italy (#277392) (XD) - $13.95

Wine Review of 2013 San Raffaele Monte Tabor Soave from DOC, Veneto, Italy (86 pts)
Tasting Note:
100% Garganega. Elegant lime, peach and orange aromas from the cork. In the glass, aromas are low-to-medium intensity with ripe notes of citrus, peach and almond with much of same on the medium-bodied palate. Vibrant acids give way to mineral notes and a kiss of citrus sweetness. Decent length. Score: 86 pts

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  • Monday, February 2, 2015

Feb. 7 LCBO Wine Picks: Italy + Southern Hemisphere

LCBO Wine Picks from February 7, 2015 VINTAGES Release
The next LCBO VINTAGES release will be on shelves across Ontario on . The major feature of this release highlights 11 native grapes found in Italy, while the mini-feature highlights wines from the 5 major winemaking powers in the Southern Hemisphere - Chile, Argentina, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand.

Italy has many native grape varieties - over 500 at last count. VINTAGES highlights only 11 of these grapes, and only 3 of the 17 wines are included among my wine recommendations below. If you prefer dry, floral and fragrant white wines, check out the Falanghina grape. Tuscany is synonymous with Sangiovese, but also goes by various other names within the region. The Salcheto Vino Nobile di Montepulciano is made with this grape, but goes by its local name - Prugnolo Gentile, while the Villa Cafaggio uses Sangiovese. Lastly, if you've ever tried some of the Zinfandels from California and found them too sweet, then check out the dry, earthy Primitivo (a.k.a. Zinfandel) from Puglia.

One other Italian wine is included in the magazine, but for some reason not part of the native Italian grape theme - a Pecorino from Abruzzo. The last Italian wine to be included below is a traditional Bordeaux blend from Poggio al Tesoro - 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, balance is Merlot and Cabernet Franc.

From the mini-feature, a total of 4 wines from Chile, Argentina and South Africa are worth your attention. Chile's winemaking power Concha Y Toro brings us a Carmenère that hails from a single block within a single vineyard, while Fabre Montmayou from neighbouring Argentina has a Malbec that comes from vines over 60 years old. Both wines from South Africa made my list of wine picks - a Chenin Blanc (the most widely planted white grape in the country) and a Shiraz (a.k.a. Syrah and rising in popularity in South Africa.)

Hess Collection 19 Block Mountain Cuvée 2010 from Mount Veeder, Napa Valley, California, USA (91 pts)
The rest of the release features yet another fabulous Mencía wine from Bierzo, Spain, as well as a red blend from Hess Collection (68% Cabernet Sauvignon, 14% Malbec, 11% Syrah, 6% Merlot, and 1% Petit Verdot) that I had the pleasure of tasting at the winery last June.

In white wines, the Sancerre is a Sauvignon Blanc, while the wine from Switzerland is made using the Chasselas grape. Last, but definitely not the least, is a 9-grape, dry white wine blend from Austria that will be available only on VINTAGES Flagship stores.

Enjoy my wine recommendations from this release! Cheers!

Red Wine:
  • FEUDI SALENTINI LUPORANO PRIMITIVO DEL TARANTINO 2012 - IGP, Puglia, Italy (#395368) (XD) - $17.95
  • VILLA CAFAGGIO CHIANTI CLASSICO 2011 - DOCG, Tuscany, Italy (#176776) (XD) - $19.95
  • J. LOHR SOUTH RIDGE SYRAH 2012 - Paso Robles, California, USA (#948240) (XD) - $19.95
  • RUSTENBERG SHIRAZ 2011 - WO Stellenbosch, South Africa (#399246) (XD) - $19.95
  • FINCA LA CUESTA 2011 - DO Bierzo, Spain (#166702) (XD) - $19.95
  • FABRE MONTMAYOU GRAN RESERVA MALBEC 2011 - Mendoza, Argentina (#279802) (XD) - $22.95
  • SALCHETO VINO NOBILE DI MONTEPULCIANO 2011 - DOCG, Tuscany, Italy (#685180) (D) - $29.95  reviewed here
  • CONCHA Y TORO TERRUNYO PEUMO VINEYARD BLOCK 27 CARMENÈRE 2011 - Entre Cordilleras, Peumo, Cachapoal Valley, Chile (#562892) (XD) - $29.95
  • HESS COLLECTION 19 BLOCK MOUNTAIN CUVÉE 2010 - Mount Veeder, Napa Valley, California, USA (#018879) (XD) - $49.95  reviewed here
  • POGGIO AL TESORO SONDRAIA 2010 - DOC Bolgheri Superiore, Tuscany, Italy (#292391) (XD) - $49.95

White Wine:
  • REICHSGRAF VON KESSELSTATT RK RIESLING 2008 - QbA Mosel, Germany (#733295) (M) - $15.95  reviewed here
  • WEINGUT ZAHEL RIEDENCUVÉE GRÜNER VELTLINER 2013 - Wiener Lagen, Austria (#181594) (XD) - $16.95
  • ECO PECORINO D’ABRUZZO SUPERIORE 2013 - DOC, Abruzzo, Italy (#395020) (XD) - $17.95
  • OCONE FLORA FALANGHINA 2012 - DOP Taburno Falanghina del Sannio, Campania, Italy (#326694) (XD) - $18.95
  • REDSTONE CHARDONNAY 2011 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#398966) (XD) - $18.95
  • CAVES ORSAT FENDANT 2013 - AC Valais, Switzerland (#402669) (XD) - $19.95
  • SIMONSIG CHENIN AVEC CHÊNE CHENIN BLANC 2012 - WO Stellenbosch, South Africa (#282772) (XD) - $25.95
  • DOMAINE DE SAINT-PIERRE SANCERRE 2013 - AC, Loire, France (#170258) (XD) - $26.95
  • WIENINGER NUSSBERG ALTE REBEN WIENER GEMISCHTER SATZ 2012 - DAC, Wien, Austria (#395640) (XD) - $37.00

Sparkling Wine:
  • POULET ET FILS BRUT CRÉMANT DE DIE - Méthode Traditionnelle, AC, Rhône, France (#392555) (D) - $17.95
  • TAITTINGER PRESTIGE BRUT ROSÉ CHAMPAGNE - AC, France (#993113) (D) - $89.95

Fortified Wine:
  • FONSECA QUINTA DO PANASCAL VINTAGE PORT 2001 - Bottled in 2003, DOP, Portugal (#402354) (S) (375 mL) - $39.95

Dessert Wine:
  • FEATHERSTONE SELECT LATE HARVEST CABERNET FRANC 2011 - VQA Twenty Mile Bench, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#210757) (S) (375 mL) - $19.95  reviewed here

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

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  • Thursday, January 29, 2015

Niagara Icewine Festival Review 2015

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup and Fielding Riesling Icewine
On the weekend of -18, I visited Niagara as part of the 20th Annual Icewine Festival and a new initiative called Niagara Chilled. This new initiative combined all the events - Gala, Icewine Village in Niagara-on-the-Lake, special events at wineries and restaurants, Discovery Pass, and an indoor/outdoor food, wine and live entertainment extravaganza in Niagara Falls - to celebrate our liquid gold called Icewine. Niagara Chilled ran for 3 weekends, from January 9th to 25th.

After the chaotic drive into Niagara , I was hoping for a much better drive out this time - wishes that came true as it was smooth sailing to our first stop with virtually no traffic along the way.

View of Lake Ontario from the Wine Lodge at Fielding Estate Winery.
We began at 11 a.m. with a tour of the facilities at Fielding Estate Winery, followed by a butternut squash soup paired with our choice of their 2012 Riesling Icewine (90 pts, 200 mL @ $32.95) or 2012 Gewürztraminer (87 pts, $15.75.)

Fielding is nestled high atop Niagara's Beamsville Bench. The Wine Lodge houses their tasting room, fermentation tanks and barrel cellar, among other things. It was built in 2005 and provides a nice view of Lake Ontario (and Toronto on a clear day.) Our host, Vanessa, spoke about Fielding's two vineyards - Fielding Vineyard and Tufford Road Vineyard - as we moved into the room housing the steel tanks. Due to the custom design of the Wine Lodge, they were able to fit tanks that were double the normal height, and squeeze them onto a very small footprint. They use a bladder press to extract juice out of the grapes as it is one of the more gentler methods to reduce the amount of crushed seeds. In the barrel cellar, we found the use of French, American and Hungarian oak barrels, of varying toast levels to impart flavours and complexity to some of their wines. It was an interesting tour led by Vanessa, made all the more engaging as she showed exceptional knowledge and passion for wine, and happily answered our questions.

View of the Wine Lodge

Crush Pad and Bladder Press at Fielding Estate WinerySteel Fermentation Tanks at Fielding Estate Winery

At the conclusion of the tour, we headed back upstairs to the tasting room for a thick, roasted butternut squash soup that had hints of ginger and maple, and topped with crème fraîche and pumpkin seeds. I opted to pair it with their Icewine and it turned out wonderfully. There was a hint of sweetness from the soup, while the balanced acids in the wine cut into the soup's thick texture. Overall, this was a balanced pairing and quite enjoyable.

Barrel Cellar at Fielding Estate WineryBarrel Cellar at Fielding Estate Winery

Vieni Vidal Icewine and Cake
The second stop of the day was a short drive over to Vieni Estates for a cake by Fabulous Cakes & Confections and prepared with toasted walnut butter cream, layered between vanilla and Vieni's Vidal Icewine, and topped with an apricot honey marmalade. This was paired with their 2011 Vieni Vidal Icewine (91 pts, 375 mL @ $39.95.) The cake was fairly light, and delicate with lightly sweet flavours that helped balance the very sweet Icewine. Meanwhile, the nickel-sized apricot honey marmalade on top of the cake enhanced the apricot and honey flavours from the Icewine. In all, it was a delicious pairing that worked very well together.

Chicken Mole Enchiladas and Jackson-Triggs Cabernet Franc Icewine
From here, we headed into Niagara-on-the-Lake to visit Jackson-Triggs Niagara Estate Winery. We arrived just after a bus had already arrived, so there was a very long lineup that stretched right to the front door - and further started to curl back inwards after we got into line. We debated leaving and coming back later, but decided to wait it out. The line started to move quickly about 10 minutes later (probably because a fresh new tray of food had just been made), and no sooner did we have chicken mole enchiladas and their 2012 Cabernet Franc Icewine (90 pts, 375 mL @ $59.99) in our hands. By now, most of the folks from the bus had moved into the tasting room, so we had no trouble finding a place to sit and enjoy our food & wine pairing. The enchilada was marinated in a mole sauce that was savoury and flavourful, with a little bit of a spice kick to it - very tasty. I shall have to follow up with the folks at Jackson-Triggs to get the recipe. It paired well with the very sweet Cab Franc Icewine, as the sweetness was subdued and balanced by the savoury and spice flavours from the enchilada.

Crème Brûlée and Hinterbrook Cabernet Franc Icewine pairing
Our final stop of the day was at Hinterbrook Estate Winery for an Icewine-infused Crème Brûlée that was paired with their 2012 Cabernet Franc Icewine (89 pts, 200 mL @ $29.95.) This place was also quite busy and seemed to have trouble keeping up as they were pouring their yummy Icewine into plastic medicine cups. Fortunately, freshly cleaned (but much too warm) glasses quickly arrived upon request. Overall, the pairing was quite nice - the soft, maple oat crusted egg-free crème brulee with a berry compote at the bottom matched the flavours and sweetness of the Icewine, making for a very enjoyable pairing.

On , we began the day with a visit to the Outlet Collection at Niagara for some shopping. This was my first time there, and I found quite a few good deals to be had - if you could find your size. However, the most memorable store was the Pepper Palace - a fine store selling all kinds of hot sauces, BBQ sauces, seasonings, rubs and more. I came away with quite a few items and expect they will be featured in future wine review posts.

Grilled panini at Kacaba

Kacaba Gewürztraminer Icewine
After a quick stop for lunch, we headed to Kacaba Vineyards Winery in Twenty Valley for a grilled panini paired with Icewine. The grilled panini was stuffed with a rich and creamy brie, arugula, ripe red apple and pear, and topped with a drizzle of honey and Icewine. The panini was nicely portioned and quite nice and (mostly) savoury. The drizzle of sweetness was greatly enhanced and matched the flavours of their 2012 Gewürztraminer Icewine (91 pts, 375 mL @ $39.95.) Overall, this was a nice, rich and satisfying pairing.

Shortbread cookies and Tawse Riesling Icewine
From here, it was short distance to Tawse Winery for a duo of shortbread cookies paired with their 2013 Riesling Icewine (89 pts, 200 mL @ $34.95.) This was a very interesting tasting that I hope many had a chance to try. Although both shortbread cookies were small, they packed a lot of flavour and changed the wine's tune greatly. First up was a savoury rosemary/blue cheese shortbread that brought out some interesting ginger and grapefruit notes from the Icewine. Meanwhile, the sweet shortbread consisting of vanilla, candied lemon and crème fraîche, pulled pure lemon flavours from Icewine. Both worked well and provided a unique tasting experience!

Thai Peanut Chicken Taco paired with Mike Weir Vidal Icewine
It was another short distance to Mike Weir Winery for some enticing nachos and Icewine. I had been wanting to visit this winery for quite a few years, and finally, in June 2014 they opened their Retail & Hospitality Center in Beamsville, next door to Fielding Estate Winery. The food & wine pairing here was a generously sized Thai Peanut Chicken Nacho topped with cilantro, and paired with their 2012 Vidal Icewine (88 pts, 200 mL @ $29.95.) The nacho had good flavours with a subtle chili kick for spiciness that balanced out the very sweet Vidal Icewine. Once again, a lot of balance between the complementary flavours from this food and wine, with no one flavour dominating the palate.

Ice cream with Legends Love Potion Sparkling Rose
The last stop of the day was an unplanned visit to the conveniently-located-off-the-QEW Legends Estates Winery. After a long day, what can be better than ice cream... and Icewine? Looking back, it seems as though they switched the Chocolate Caramel Bombette for a vanilla ice cream with a raspberry filling centre on a bed of pie crust, and covered in a thin layer of hardened white chocolate. They offered two pairing options - the Love Potion Sparkling Rose (85 pts, $18.80) or their 2006 Vidal Icewine (88 pts, 375 mL @ $40.) I tasted both wines and definitely preferred the Sparkling Rose with the ice cream as the raspberry filling complemented some of the strawberry/red berry flavours from the wine. The mature Icewine seemed better suited for the original food item with it's caramel and nutty flavours.

The group's overwhelming favourite (including my favourite) on the Saturday was the Fielding Riesling Icewine, while my favourite wine on the Sunday was the Kacaba Gewürztraminer Icewine. Full wine reviews of these, and the many other wines that I tasted and enjoyed on this visit will be posted over the next couple of weeks.

I hope you can join me in Niagara this June - when the weather will be warmer - for the next event in this series. Check my events page for details.

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  • Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Jan. 24 LCBO Wine Picks: Spain + Chile + Argentina

LCBO Wine Picks from January 24, 2015 VINTAGES Release
The next LCBO VINTAGES release will be on shelves across Ontario on . The major theme of this release is on new value wines from Spain, while the mini-theme highlights wines from South America's two wine superpowers - Argentina and Chile.

Out of 22 Spanish wines featured, 6 made my list of wine picks - all are red wines. Four of these wines are made using grapes that don't quickly come to top of mind when thinking of Spanish wines - these are Mencía, Mazuelo (Carignan), Graciano, and the indigenous Prieto Picudo. All four wines can be enjoyed over the next few years. More familiar to those who drink Spanish wines is the Garnacha grape (a.k.a. Grenache) - the Casa Castillo el Molar is one such example made using young Garnacha (planted in only 2006).

Lastly, no conversation about Spanish wines would be complete without mentioning Tempranillo - the most widely planted red grape in Spain. In the Toro region, Tempranillo is referred to as Tinta de Toro. The Abelis Carthago William Selection Crianza, which you'll want to put away for a few years, is made using this grape from old vines.

The Argentina/Chile mini-feature yielded one wine worth mentioning - a Chilean Syrah. Chile has become one of my favourite places for Syrah - and this version from Casas del Bosque is a very fine example.The fruit for this wine was sourced from Casas del Bosque's own vineyard, from vines that are 8-13 years old and located on the coolest, westernmost area of the Casablanca Valley. This winery does practice some organic techniques, but is not certified organic.

From the rest of the release, there is a primarily Shiraz/Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot (37/26/24) blend from South Africa, and also a Grenache-led blend from Rhône's André Aubert. Also a blend is a red wine from Tenuta Rocca - an unspecified (and not very common) blend of Barbera, Nebbiolo and Cabernet Sauvignon.

In white wines, there are 2 very good values under $14 - the extra-dry Garganega from Veneto and the dry (slightly sweet) Weissburgunder (a.k.a. Pinot Blanc) from Germany. If you want to try an Old World Sauvignon Blanc, check out the Pouilly Fumé from Loire. For those that prefer sweeter wines, take a look at the Riesling from Alsace, or the even more sweeter Ontario Riesling or Alsatian Pinot Gris.

Enjoy my wine recommendations for this week. Cheers!

Red Wine:
  • AVONDALE JONTY’S DUCKS PEKIN RED 2011 - WO Paarl, South Africa (#383547) (XD) - $14.95
  • GOTÍN DEL RISC MENCÍA 2010 - DO Bierzo, Spain (#391581) (XD) - $15.95
  • DOMINIO DOSTARES ESTAY PRIETO PICUDO 2011 - DO La Mancha, Spain (#393140) (XD) - $15.95
  • ANDRÉ AUBERT VISAN CÔTES DU RHÔNE-VILLAGES 2013 - AC, Rhône, France (#224915) (XD) - $15.95
  • FINCA LOS ALIJARES GRACIANO 2009 - DO La Mancha, Spain (#392522) (XD) - $17.95
  • CASA CASTILLO EL MOLAR 2011 - DO Jumilla, Spain (#397190) (XD) - $17.95
  • SEÑORÍO DE SARRÍA VIÑEDO NO.8 MAZUELO CRIANZA 2009 - DO Navarra, Spain (#391656) (XD) - $17.95
  • TENUTA ROCCA ORNATI LANGHE 2009 - DOC, Piedmont, Italy (#309369) (XD) - $21.95
  • CASAS DEL BOSQUE GRAN RESERVA SYRAH 2012 - Casablanca Valley, Chile (#995092) (XD) - $22.95
  • ABELIS CARTHAGO WILLIAM SELECTION CRIANZA 2011 - DO Toro, Spain (#399105) (XD) - $23.95
  • NUGAN ESTATE ALCIRA VINEYARD CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2010 - Coonawarra, South Australia (#393686) (XD) - $24.95
  • STOLLER PINOT NOIR 2012 - Dundee Hills, Oregon, USA (#401539) (XD) - $31.95

White Wine:
  • RIONDO CASTELFORTE GARGANEGA 2013 - IGT Veronese, Veneto, Italy (#230656) (XD) - $13.95
  • ANSELMANN EDESHEIMER ORDENSGUT WEISSBURGUNDER KABINETT TROCKEN 2012 - Pradikätswein, Pfalz, Germany (#394122) (D) - $13.95
  • FEATHERSTONE BLACK SHEEP RIESLING 2013 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#080234) (M) - $16.95
  • KELLEREI ST. MAGDALENA PINOT GRIGIO 2013 - DOC Südtirol, Alto Adige, Italy (#249466) (XD) - $16.95
  • HENRI EHRHART RÉSERVE PARTICULIÈRE PINOT GRIS 2013 - AC Alsace, France (#392092) (M) - $18.95
  • CALERA CHARDONNAY 2012 - Central Coast, California, USA (#713313) (XD) - $24.95
  • DOMAINES SCHLUMBERGER SAERING RIESLING 2011 - AC Alsace Grand Cru, France (#627950) (D) - $33.95
  • BACHELDER BOURGOGNE CHARDONNAY 2012 - AC, Burgundy, France (#272005) (XD) - $35.95

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

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