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  • Friday, October 30, 2015

Ziraldo Riesling Icewine Tasting



In September, as part the Senhora Do Convento wine tasting, I had the pleasure of meeting Donald Ziraldo and his wife Victoria to taste their latest Riesling Icewine. Mr. Ziraldo and his business partner/winemaker Karl Kaiser were the founders of Inniskillin Winery in the spring of 1974, the first new winery in Canada since prohibition. Together, Donald and Karl helped put Canada on the international wine map with Canadian Icewine. They also had an interesting book that I was introduced to titled "Icewine: Extreme Winemaking".

The 2014 vintage of the Ziraldo Riesling Icewine is the first Icewine produced from the Victoria Vineyard which was planted in 2007. This site was an original Inniskillin Winery site in Niagara-on-the-Lake. There are 5 Riesling clones planted on this site, and all are used in the production of the 2014 Riesling Icewine.

Tasting Notes:

ZIRALDO RIESLING ICEWINE 2014 - Estate Bottled, VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (S) (375 mL) - $89
Lovely apricot, peach, and some tart lemon aromas which replay nicely on the full-bodied and slightly syrupy palate. A luxurious, rich Icewine made in a fleshy, plush style that has balanced acids and a long finish. Score: 90 pts

Ziraldo Riesling Icewine 2014 - Estate Bottled, VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (90 pts)

ZIRALDO RIESLING ICEWINE 2012 - Estate Bottled, VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (S) (375 mL) - Sold Out
Sweet lemon, white and citrus aromas along with a mature hint of petrol. On the palate, it's light on its feet with citrus and orange flavours with finely tuned acids. The finish is medium-to-long in length. Score: 88 pts
Ziraldo Riesling Icewine 2012 - Estate Bottled, VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (88 pts)Ziraldo Riesling Icewine 2012 - Estate Bottled, VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (88 pts)


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  • Monday, October 26, 2015

October 31 LCBO VINTAGES Release: Tuscany + Chile

LCBO Wine Picks from October 31, 2015 VINTAGES Release
The VINTAGES Release will be on LCBO shelves this coming and the major feature is on wines from Tuscany while minor feature explores the wines of Chile. As we approach the holiday season, the releases (and my wine picks) are getting larger to help you stock up for the holidays. Based on recent years, after this release there should be only 3 more VINTAGES releases in 2015.

We'll begin with the Tuscan feature that lists 15 wines, all red, and most are in the premium price point category. From here, 3 wines are included among my wine picks. The new category of "Gran Selezione" was only formed in February 2014 and is now considered to be the top classification of Chianti. So, it's no surprise that we are starting to see more and more Gran Selezione Chianti's on our shelves. Included in this release is the Il Grigio San Felice that is 80% Sangiovese and 20% indigenous varietals. Also among my Tuscany wine picks is a Brunello that is 100% Sangiovese, while the wine from Tenuta Sette Ponti is an IGT blend consisting of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot.

Il Grigio Da San Felice Gran Selezione Chianti Classico 2010 - DOCG, Tuscany, Italy (92 pts)

Chile is filled with high achievers and very good values in this release with 6 out of 12 wines making my list of wine picks. All three Cabernet Sauvignon wines are unique, single vineyard wines that will offer pleasure for a number of years. The Tabalí red blend consists of 74% Syrah, 15% Merlot and 12% Cabernet Sauvignon, while the blend from Luis Felipe Edwards is 58% Syrah, 33% Carménère, 4% Petite Syrah, 3% Grenache and 2% Mourvèdre. The De Martino Sauvignon Blanc is one of only 2 white wines from Chile in this release and continues to be a rising star grape within Chile.

Concha Y Toro Terrunyo Andes Pirque Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 - Las Terrazas Block, Pirque Vineyard, Maipo Valley, Chile (90 pts)San Pedro 1865 Single Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 - Maipo Valley, Chile (88 pts)

Among my white wine recommendations are a trifecta of Sauvignon Blanc wines from Marlborough (New Zealand) and a Fumé Blanc (90% Sauvignon Blanc / 10 % Semillon) from Napa that would provide a nice comparison to the Chilean Sauvignon Blanc.

In red wine, the Heartland is 52/48% Shiraz/Cabernet Sauvignon, while the Muriel is 100% Tempranillo. From France and the great 2010 Bordeaux vintage is the Chateau Pey la Tour which consists of 90% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Sauvignon, 3% Cabernet Franc, and 2% Petit Verdot. Also from France is the Val Auclair that is a blend of 75% Carignan and 25% Syrah, while the Lavau Vacqueyras is a GSM blend (50% Grenache, 40% Syrah and 10% Mourvèdre). Lastly, the Barbaresco is 100% Nebbiolo.

Enjoy my LCBO VINTAGES wine recommendations for this week. Cheers!

Red Wine:

  • HEARTLAND SPICE TRADER SHIRAZ/CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2013 - Langhorne Creek, South Australia (#429241) (D) - $17.00
  • MURIEL RESERVA VENDIMIA SELECCIONADA 2008 - DOCa Rioja, Spain (#276030) (D) - $18.95
  • CLOS DES FOUS GRILLOS CANTORES CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2012 - Alto Cachapoal, Cachapoal Valley, Chile (#429613) (XD) - $18.95
  • CHÂTEAU PEY LA TOUR RÉSERVE DU CHÂTEAU 2010 - AC Bordeaux Supérieur, France (#349308) (XD) - $19.95
  • SAN PEDRO 1865 SINGLE VINEYARD CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2013 - Maipo Valley, Chile (#037911) (D) - $19.95  reviewed here
  • VAL AUCLAIR LES BARRAS ROUGE 2013 - IGP Vallée du Paradis, Languedoc-Roussillon, France (#417568) (XD) - $19.95

  • TABALÍ RESERVA ESPECIAL 2011 - Limari Valley, Chile (#107540) (XD) - $23.95
  • LAVAU VACQUEYRAS 2012 - AC, Rhône, France (#104927) (D) - $24.95  reviewed here
  • SOCRÉ BARBARESCO 2011 - DOCG, Piedmont, Italy (#305284) (D) - $29.95
  • CONCHA Y TORO TERRUNYO ANDES PIRQUE VINEYARD CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2012 - Las Terrazas Block, Pirque Vineyard, Maipo Valley, Chile (#562918) (D) - $29.95  reviewed here
  • LUIS FELIPE EDWARDS LFE 900 SINGLE VINEYARD BLEND 2012 - Colchagua Valley, Chile (#431809) (XD) - $29.95

  • IL GRIGIO DA SAN FELICE GRAN SELEZIONE CHIANTI CLASSICO 2010 - DOCG, Tuscany, Italy (#403477) (XD) - $46.95  reviewed here
  • MICHELE CASTELLANI CINQUE STELLE AMARONE DELLA VALPOLICELLA CLASSICO 2011 - Collezione Ca’ del Pipa, DOCG, Veneto, Italy (#075127) (D) - $56.95
  • ANTINORI PIAN DELLE VIGNE BRUNELLO DI MONTALCINO 2010 - DOCG, Tuscany, Italy (#651141) (D) - $69.95
  • TENUTA SETTE PONTI ORENO 2012 - IGT Toscana, Italy (#735597) (D) - $77.95
  • CLIFF LEDE CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2012 - Stags Leap District, Napa Valley, California, USA (#014217) (D) - $112.95  reviewed here
  • DUNN CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2011 - Napa Valley, California, USA (#709501) (D) - $113.95  FSE
Lavau Vacqueyras 2012 - AC, Rhône, France (90 pts)Cliff Lede Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 - Stags Leap District, Napa Valley, California, USA (91 pts)

White Wine:

  • DE MORGENZON DMZ CHENIN BLANC 2015 - WO Western Cape, South Africa (#429522) (XD) - $14.95
  • DE MARTINO LEGADO RESERVA SAUVIGNON BLANC 2014 - Casablanca Valley, Chile (#427658) (XD) - $16.95
  • CASAL DI SERRA VERDICCHIO DEI CASTELLI DI JESI CLASSICO SUPERIORE 2014 - DOC, Marche, Italy (#268169) (D) - $17.95  reviewed here
  • ERADUS SAUVIGNON BLANC 2014 - Awatere Valley, Marlborough, South Island, New Zealand (#225557) (XD) - $18.95  reviewed here
  • INNISKILLIN RESERVE SERIES CHARDONNAY 2013 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#383562) (XD) - $18.95
  • GIESEN THE BROTHERS SAUVIGNON BLANC 2013 - Marlborough, South Island, New Zealand (#247213) (XD) - $19.95
  • STONELEIGH LATITUDE SAUVIGNON BLANC 2014 - Marlborough, South Island, New Zealand (#324228) (XD) - $21.95  reviewed here
  • ROBERT MONDAVI FUMÉ BLANC 2013 - Napa Valley, California, USA (#221887) (XD) - $22.95
  • DOMAINE BILLAUD-SIMON VIEILLE VIGNES MONT DE MILIEU CHABLIS 1 ER CRU 2011 - AC, Burgundy, France (#328344) (XD) - $49.95  FSE
  • DUTTON ESTATE KYNDALL’S RESERVE CHARDONNAY 2012 - Russian River Valley, Sonoma County, California, USA (#420976) (XD) - $57.95
Stoneleigh Latitude Sauvignon Blanc 2014 - Marlborough, South Island, New Zealand (90+ pts)Eradus Sauvignon Blanc 2014 - Awatere Valley, Marlborough, South Island, New Zealand (88+ pts)Casal Di Serra Verdicchio Dei Castelli Di Jesi Classico Superiore 2014 - DOC, Marche, Italy (88 pts)

Sparkling Wine:

  • BOLLINGER SPECIAL CUVÉE BRUT CHAMPAGNE - AC, France (#234104 / #384529) (D) (375 mL / 750 mL) - $45.95 / $79.95

Dessert Wine:

  • MUSKOKA LAKES WINERY RED MAPLE CRANBERRY MAPLE 2012 - Product of Canada (#050039) (S) (375 mL) - $24.95  reviewed here
Muskoka Lakes Winery Red Maple Cranberry Maple 2012 (90 pts)


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  • Saturday, October 24, 2015

Lavau Vacqueyras 2012 (Rhône) - Wine Review

wine is a nice follow-up to the 2011 Lavau Côtes du Rhône Villages that arrived in the General List section at the LCBO during the Summer. This delicious red wine will be available in the October 31 VINTAGES Release.

Tasting Note:

LAVAU VACQUEYRAS 2012 - AC, Rhône, France (#104927) (D) - $24.95
Blend of 50% Grenache, 40% Syrah and 10% Mourvèdre. Sweet dark fruits and hint of prune aromas from the cork. Medium+ aromatics from the glass with seductive violet, acacia flower, dark fruit, eucalypt, dusty earth notions with blackberry, plum, and black pepper notes forming as it warms up. On the palate, it is medium bodied with refined, dusty tannins and nicely balanced aroma replays. Sweet tannins provide good structure while acids are juicy. Very good length on the dry finish. Enjoy over the next 5-6 years. Recommended buy. Score: 90 pts

Lavau Vacqueyras 2012 - AC, Rhône, France (90 pts)


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  • Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Piazzano Chianti 2013 (Tuscany) - Wine Review

red wine will be in VINTAGES on October 31st. It comes from Fattoria di Piazzano, a family-owned and operated estate located in the hills south of Empoli and traversed by the Rio di Camerata.

The estate was purchased by Otello Bettarini in 1948. His nephew Riccardo worked alongside Otello and eventually took over the operations. In the late 90's, Riccardo handed over the property to his children Rolando and Ilaria. The two, along with other family members continue the winemaking traditions with the passion and tenacity of their heirs.

Tasting Note:

PIAZZANO CHIANTI 2013 - DOCG, Tuscany, Italy (#393199) (D) - $14.95
Unoaked blend of 80% Sangiovese and 20% other indigenous grapes such as Canaiolo and Colorino from Estate. Plum and cherry sauce aromas from the cork. In the glass, barnyard, bretty, and earth aromas lead the way, with light scents of cherry and strawberry at the back end. The palate is medium-bodied with some tannic grip. Savoury flavour profile consisting of wet earth and black cherry. Balanced acidity and decent length on the finish. Score: 86 pts

Piazzano Chianti 2013 - DOCG, Tuscany, Italy (86 pts)


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  • Saturday, October 17, 2015

Loimer Grüner Veltliner 2013 (Austria) - Wine Review

delicious dry white wine was purchased almost a year ago to the day from the October 25 VINTAGES Release. Of course, it's all sold out by now, but I expect we'll see the 2014 vintage on shelves next month.

This is better than the 2011 vintage that I enjoyed in November 2013.

Tasting Note:

LOIMER GRÜNER VELTLINER 2013 - DAC Kamptal, Austria (#142240) (XD) - $19.95
Screw cap. Fine lemon/lime, mineral and hints of honey aroma profile.  The mid-weight palate has ripe fruit flavours, lemon/lime, and hints of white pepper. Juicy acidity throughout, dry, balanced, hints of pink grapefruit on the long crisp finish. Lovely! Will be enjoyed with Dungeness Crab Curry. Score: 90 pts

Loimer Grüner Veltliner 2013 - DAC Kamptal, Austria (90 pts)


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  • Monday, October 12, 2015

Château Renard Mondesir 2009 (Bordeaux) - Wine Review

Opened up this delicious red wine on to celebrate with the family. It is produced by the Négociant Chassagnoux & Fils.

The story of Chassagnoux & Fils begins with Amedee Chassagnoux arriving in Bordeaux in the early 50's. His son Pierre discovers the vineyards of Saint Emilion and distributes them with a passion in Northern France and Belgium. Today, Pierre's son, Xavier and his daughter Laurence manage the property, marking 4 generations of family involvement.

An 18th Century residence, Château Renard was purchased in 1978 by Xavier. It is located in The Rivère within the Fronsac appellation in Bordeaux and surrounded by 12 hectares of vines planted on hillsides, ensuring fully ripened grapes.

The wine below is the first wine of Château Renard and has been regularly produced since 1990. It comes from the best plots and is a selection of rich, concentrated grapes, harvested with great care.

It will be available in VINTAGES on October 17th.

Château Renard Mondesir 2009 - AC Fronsac, Bordeaux, France (89 pts)

Tasting Note:

CHÂTEAU RENARD MONDESIR 2009 - AC Fronsac, Bordeaux, France (#420299) (XD) - $26.95
Blend of 90% Merlot and 10% Cabernet Franc. Blackberry, dark fruits and a whiff of dried fruit aromas from the cork. Dark garnet coloured with a tinge of brown forming along the rim. Savoury medium intensity nose with earthy, cherry, dried herbs and hints of tobacco in the glass. The palate is medium-bodied with fine-grained tannins, spiced tobacco, black cherry, sage, and leathery notes. Has very good acidity. Finishes long and a touch warm with dark currant, earthy and mineral after taste. Enjoy over the next 5-6 years. Score: 89 pts


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  • Monday, October 12, 2015

Wine Picks - October 17, 2015 VINTAGES Release: Napa + Barolo

LCBO Wine Picks from October 17, 2015 VINTAGES Release
The VINTAGES Release will be in LCBO outlets this coming Saturday and features wines that are especially known for its high-quality and are usually out-of-budget for the majority of wine drinkers. The major feature of this release is on wines from Napa Valley, while the mini-feature is about Barolo from the great 2010 vintage.

Unfortunately, none of the Barolo wines made my list of wine picks, while only one of the sixteen Napa wines are among my wine recommendations below. From Napa is the 2010 Heitz Cellar Cab, a special wine that is 100% Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. There are also a pair of Napa wines worth consideration that are found at the back of the VINTAGES magazine as part of that Flagship Store Exclusives (FSE) collection. The first is the Howell Mountain vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon from Dunn Vineyads, while the second wine is a (surprising!) Sauvignon Blanc from Joseph Phelps.

The quality of Riesling in this release intrigued me the most, with styles ranging from bone-dry all the way to nearly Icewine-sweet levels. In order from dry (i.e. not sweet) to most sweet are Riesling wines from Kilikanoon, Hiestand, Tawse, Bischöfliche and Wegeler. If you enjoy sweet wines, you should also check out the Vouvray (Chenin Blanc). Chardonnay fans should check out the pair of wines from Burgundy.

Among my red wine picks, you'll be hard pressed to find a nice, mature red from 2006 for $15, as is the Monasterio de las Viñas blend (Garnacha, Tempranillo and Cariñena) from Spain. Also a blend is the wine from CVNE that is 85% Tempranillo, 10% Graciano and 5% Mazuelo, while the single vineyard wine from Argentina is actually a blend of Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Petit Verdot. And lastly, the 2009 Bordeaux wine is a blend of 90% Merlot and 10% Cabernet Franc.

Enjoy my wine recommendations for this week. Cheers!

Red Wine:

  • MONASTERIO DE LAS VIÑAS RESERVA 2006 - DO Cariñena, Spain (#166579) (XD) - $14.95
  • CATHEDRAL CELLAR PETIT VERDOT 2013 - WO Western Cape, South Africa (#427559) (XD) - $15.95
  • 3 RINGS SHIRAZ 2013 - Barossa Valley, South Australia (#015495) (XD) - $18.95
  • SUSANA BALBO SIGNATURE CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2013 - Uco Valley, Mendoza, Argentina (#260919) (XD) - $19.95
  • ALTA VISTA ATEMPORAL 2011 - Single Vineyard, Uco Valley, Mendoza, Argentina (#144352) (XD) - $19.95
  • CHÂTEAU RENARD MONDESIR 2009 - AC Fronsac, Bordeaux, France (#420299) (XD) - $26.95  reviewed here
  • DOMINIO DE TARES CEPAS VIEJAS MENCIA 2011 - DO Bierzo, Spain (#379891) (XD) - $29.95  reviewed here
  • CVNE IMPERIAL RESERVA 2009 - DOCa Rioja, Spain (#424390) (XD) - $38.95
  • CASTELLO DI AMA SAN LORENZO CHIANTI CLASSICO GRAN SELEZIONE 2010 - DOCG, Tuscany, Italy (#418897) (XD) - $45.95  reviewed here
  • HEITZ CELLAR CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2010 - Napa Valley, California, USA (#642124) (XD) - $89.95  reviewed here
  • DUNN VINEYARDS HOWELL MOUNTAIN CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2011 - Napa Valley, California, USA (#193763) (D) - $149.95  FSE
Dominio De Tares Cepas Viejas Mencia 2011 - DO Bierzo, Spain (90 pts)Château Renard Mondesir 2009 - AC Fronsac, Bordeaux, France (89 pts)

White Wine:

  • ALKOOMI WHITE LABEL SEMILLON/SAUVIGNON BLANC 2014 - Frankland River, Western Australia (#428383) (XD) - $16.95
  • TRÉSORS DE LOIRE VOUVRAY 2014 - AC, Loire, France (#427427) (M) - $17.95
  • TAWSE SKETCHES OF NIAGARA RIESLING 2014 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#089029) (M) - $17.95
  • HIESTAND RIESLING TROCKEN 2013 - Qualitätswein, Rheinhessen, Germany (#424515) (D) - $19.95
  • KILIKANOON MORT’S BLOCK RIESLING 2014 - Clare Valley, South Australia (#428342) (XD) - $19.95
  • BISCHÖFLICHE WEINGÜTER TRIER SCHARZHOFBERGER RIESLING KABINETT 2012 - Prädikatswein, Mosel, Germany (#670752) (MS) - $22.95
  • LOUIS MOREAU VAULIGNOT CHABLIS 1 ER CRU 2013 - AC, Burgundy, France (#525386) (XD) - $34.95
  • WEGELER WEHLENER SONNENUHR RIESLING AUSLESE 2010 - Prädikatswein, Mosel, Germany (#391128) (S) (375 mL) - $36.00
  • JOSEPH PHELPS SAUVIGNON BLANC 2013 - St. Helena, Napa Valley, California, USA (#965277) (XD) - $59.95  FSE
  • PATRICK JAVILLIER LES TILLETS MEURSAULT 2013 - AC, Burgundy, France (#714899) (XD) - $75.95  FSE

Sparkling Wine:

  • JANÉ VENTURA RESERVA DE LA MUSICA BRUT NATURE 2010 - DO Cava, Spain (#420364) (XD) - $17.95
  • DUVAL-LEROY RESERVE BRUT CHAMPAGNE - AC, France (#661264) (XD) - $55.95


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