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  • Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Piazzano Blend 2 2013 (Tuscany) - Wine Review



Opened up this red wine blend . It comes from the family-owned and operated estate of Fattoria di Piazzano in Tuscany, Italy and will be available on LCBO VINTAGES shelves on .

This particular wine is the 2nd of two red wine blends made by the family (the first is called "Blend 1"), and is fermented using native yeasts in cement tanks. Malolactic fermentation and ageing in French oak barriques for one year. Further ageing occurs in bottle for 6-8 months prior to release.

Piazzano Blend 2 2013 - IGT Toscana, Italy (89 pts)

Tasting Note:

PIAZZANO BLEND 2 2013 - IGT Toscana, Italy (#455493) (XD) - $24.95
This blend consists of nearly equal portions (34/33/33%) Colorino, Sangiovese and Malvasia nero. Black plum aromas from the cork. Opens with yummy raspberry floral notes that give way to pungent earthy, bay leaf, herbal nose with hints of blackberry and dark cherry. It's light-to-mid weighted on the palate with light, dusty tannins providing texture. Earthy, cherry, and clove flavours, with juicy acids. Long, forest floor, cocoa-dusted finish. Enjoy over the next 2-4 years. This goes well with dark chocolate. Score: 89 pts


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  • Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Top Wines from Savour Australia Wine Tasting - May 2016

This mid-May tasting titled "Savour Australia" featured wines from about 25 wineries and was held in a compact room at George Restaurant on Queen Street East. At times, the room felt very small due to the high number of people in attendance. Overall, there were many high quality wines at various price points. As is the case with most tastings, many of the wines are not available at the LCBO, but can be ordered through the winery's representing Agent here in Ontario. Many wines from Australia at this tasting were most definitely savoured and highly recommended. Here are some of my favourite Australian wines from this tasting.

Tasting Notes:

CIRILLO 1850 ANCESTOR SEMILLON 2011 - Barossa Valley, South Australia (#250281) (XD) - $42.65
Vines from 1849 and produced by the 9th generation of this family-owned winery, this Semillon has a very appealing and highly aromatic nose of mineral, wet stone, white flowers and hints honey. On the palate, it is medium-bodied with a creamy mouthfeel and tart lime and mineral flavours. It is a dry wine with very good acids and excellent length on the finish. Excellent wine will age for at least 5 years. Superb! Contact Bokke Wines for availability. Now available online at LCBO.com and at the Eglinton & Laird LCBO. Score: 92 pts

Cirillo 1850 Ancestor Semillon 2011 - Barossa Valley, South Australia (92 pts)

HOLLICK RAVENSWOOD CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2012 - Coonawarra, South Australia (XD) - $75
Highly aromatic with elegant notes of sweet spice, red and black fruits, currant, cassis, hints of pencil lead and slightly jammy fruit notes, all of which echo very nicely on the full-bodied palate. Acids are juicy and mouth-watering, while the finish is excellent. Tannins are firm and drying, but also provide very good structure. This should be better in 2-3 years and drink well for at least decade. Contact Lifford Wine & Spirits for availability. Score: 92 pts

Hollick Ravenswood Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 - Coonawarra, South Australia (92 pts)

ALPHA BOX & DICE APOSTLE SHIRAZ DURIF 2012 - McLaren Vale, South Australia (XD) - $50
This 85/15 blend of Shiraz and Durif (aka Petite Sirah) has a medium-to-high intensity nose of red, black and purple fruits intermingling with sweet spice, herbs, mint and violets. On the palate, it is full-bodied and offers complex aroma replays framed by very good acidity and integrated tannins. In my excitement, I guess I forgot to take a photo of this absolutely delicious wine! Score: 91+ pts

STONIER CHARDONNAY 2015 - Mornington Peninsula, Victoria, Australia (#025353) (XD) - $35
Medium-high intensity nose that's fresh and clean with bright orchard fruits and pear aromas. The mouthfeel is full with a nice texture and pleasing aroma replays on the palate. It has very good acidity and finishes long. Very well-balanced. 30% barrel fermented. Contact Select Wines to order. Score: 90+ pts

Stonier Chardonnay 2015 - Mornington Peninsula, Victoria, Australia (90+ pts)

KILIKANOON MORT'S BLOCK RIESLING 2015 - Clare Valley, South Australia (#428342) (XD) - $19.95
A medium-to-high intensity nose offers lovely petrol aromas with underlying mineral and wet rock along hints of stone fruit, all of which show up on the flavour profile. There's some sweetness on the palate, but is shaded by bright acids. Minerally finish is long and dry with hints of citrus. Should arrive in VINTAGES in the Fall. Contact Charton Hobbs for quicker availability. Score: 90+ pts
Kilikanoon Mort's Block Riesling 2015 - Clare Valley, South Australia (90+ pts)



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  • Friday, June 24, 2016

VINTAGES Release June 25: Southern France + Canada Day

LCBO Wine Picks from VINTAGES Release June 25, 2016
The VINTAGES Release on June 25 features wines from southern France as its main theme, while the mini-theme highlights some wines for a Canada Day picnic. All these wines will be on LCBO VINTAGES shelves this coming Saturday.

From the main theme on wines from southern France - which in this release encompasses the regions of Southwest, Languedoc, Roussillon, Rhône and Provence - 3 of the 16 wines made my list of wine picks, and all are red wines. We'll begin with the Domaine les Yeuses Syrah, one of the best values around, year-after-year. Also in this release is the Domaine de l'Alba l'Ermite that is a blend of 60% Carignan, 30% Grenache, and 10% Syrah. Lastly, the Domaine des Terrisses is a rich blend, mostly consisting of grapes you've likely never heard of - 60% Braucol (a.k.a. Fer Servadou), 20% Duras, and 20% Syrah.

Domaine de l'Alba l'Ermite 2013 - AC Corbières, Midi, France (88 pts)

To celebrate Canada Day with some Canadian wine, there is a fine selection of wines, all of which happen to come from Ontario. Among my wine recommendations for Canada Day celebrations is a 55/45 blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah, an always delicious off-dry Riesling, a lovely oaked Baco Noir - a grape I generally don't like but found this wine to be quite nice, and an Icewine that's rarely made using Chardonnay. A pair of rosé wines not included as part of the "Canada Day" theme, but can certainly be opened to celebrate the day include a dry rosé from Southbrook, and an off-dry version from Wildass.

Henry of Pelham Reserve Baco Noir 2013 - VQA Ontario, Canada (90 pts)Southbrook Triomphe Organic Cabernet Franc Rosé 2015 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (88 pts)

Among the red wines from the rest of the release, the Australian wine is a biodynamic wine made using a 65/35 blend of Shiraz and Grenache, while the Amarone is a blend of 65% Corvina, 20% Rondinella, and 15% Corvinone.

In white wines, the Gavi is made with the Cortese varietal. And for sweet wine lovers, in order from least sweetest to most sweetest, look for the Gewürztraminer or the Rieslings from Alsace, Niagara, or Germany.

Enjoy my wine recommendations for this week. Cheers!

Red Wine:

  • DOMAINE LES YEUSES LES ÉPICES SYRAH 2013 - IGP Pays d’Oc, Midi, France (#177584) (XD) - $15.95
  • DOMAINE DE L’ALBA L’ERMITE 2013 - AC Corbières, Midi, France (#446138) (XD) - $17.00  reviewed here
  • DOMAINE DES TERRISSES GRANDE TRADITION GAILLAC 2012 - AC, Southwest, France (#451922) (XD) - $17.95
  • KACABA CABERNET/SYRAH 2013 - VQA Niagara Escarpment, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#317925) (XD) - $18.95  reviewed here
  • PAXTON AAA SHIRAZ/GRENACHE 2013 - McLaren Vale, South Australia (#149898) (D) - $19.95
  • HENRY OF PELHAM RESERVE BACO NOIR 2013 - VQA Ontario, Canada (#461699) (D) - $24.95  reviewed here
  • CA’ VIOLA BRICHET BARBERA D’ALBA 2012 - DOC, Piedmont, Italy (#452813) (XD) - $36.95  reviewed here
  • PODERE LA CAPPELLA QUERCIOLO CHIANTI CLASSICO RISERVA 2011 - Unfiltered, DOCG, Tuscany, Italy (#095893) (XD) - $38.95  FSE
  • GEMMA GIBLIN RISERVA BAROLO 2007 - DOCG, Piedmont, Italy (#185025) (XD) - $38.95
  • MONTE DEL FRÁ LENA DI MEZZO AMARONE DELLA VALPOLICELLA CLASSICO 2011 - DOC, Veneto, Italy (#047506) (D) - $53.95  reviewed here
  • CHIMNEY ROCK CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2012 - Stags Leap District, Napa Valley, California, USA (#731810) (XD) - $99.95

Ca' Viola Brichet Barbera d'Alba 2012 - DOC, Piedmont, Italy (91 pts) Monte del Frá Lena di Mezzo Amarone della Valpolicella Classico 2011 - DOC, Veneto, Italy (92 pts)

White Wine:

  • JARDIN INSPECTOR PÉRINGUEY CHENIN BLANC 2014 - WO Stellenbosch, South Africa (#443473) (XD) - $15.95
  • BERSANO GAVI DI GAVI 2014 - DOCG, Piedmont, Italy (#999979) (XD) - $16.95  reviewed here
  • EL GORDO DEL CIRCO VERDEJO 2014 - DO Rueda, Spain (#441220) (XD) - $17.95
  • CAVE SPRING ESTATE BOTTLED GEWÜRZTRAMINER 2013 - Cave Spring Vineyard, VQA Beamsville Bench, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#302059) (D) - $17.95
  • PARKER COONAWARRA ESTATE CHARDONNAY 2014 - South Australia (#447029) (XD) - $19.95
  • ST. URBANS-HOF OLD VINES RIESLING 2014 - Qualitätswein, Mosel, Germany (#995746) (M) - $21.95  reviewed here
  • HIDDEN BENCH ESTATE RIESLING 2014 - VQA Beamsville Bench, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#183491) (D) - $23.95
  • DOMAINE BOTT-GEYL SCHOENENBOURG GRAND CRU RIESLING 2012 - AC Alsace, France (#456970) (D) - $50.95  FSE
  • TOLPUDDLE VINEYARD CHARDONNAY 2013 - Tasmania, Australia (#447045) (XD) - $58.95  FSE
Bersano Gavi di Gavi 2014 - DOCG, Piedmont, Italy (88 pts)

Rosé Wine:

  • WILDASS ROSÉ 2015 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#071712) (D) - $17.95
  • SOUTHBROOK TRIOMPHE ORGANIC CABERNET FRANC ROSÉ 2015 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#279117) (XD) - $19.95  reviewed here

Dessert Wine:

  • TAWSE CHARDONNAY ICEWINE 2013 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#443739) (S) (200 mL) - $34.95


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  • Thursday, June 23, 2016

Ca' Viola Brichet Barbera d'Alba 2012 (Piedmont) - Wine Review

wine is a delicious offering from Azienda Agricola Ca' Viola, from Piedmont, Italy that is part of the LCBO VINTAGES Release on .

The interesting story of Ca' Viola begins begins in the 1980s, when Beppe Caviola borrowed a tractor from his longtime buddy, Maurizio Anselmo, to tend to a vineyard that he was renting in Montelupo. Beppe then began vinifying the grapes in his parents' garage. And in 1991, Elio Altare, who was a star in the Barolo world, tasted the wine and encouraged Beppe to bottle it. The Dolcetto was the first wine to use the Caviola label.

Along with the Dolcetto that was released in 1991 was the Bric du Luv Barbera d'Alba. The Brichet Barbera d'Alba wine that is reviewed below is the "younger sister" of the Bric du Luv. Today, the entire line of Ca' Viola wines now stands at 6 wines.

The grapes for this wine come from the Montelupo vineyard that has calcareous marl and clay soil, at an elevation of 400 metres above sea level. It was aged for 15 months in mainly big barrels and used barriques, and a further 6 months in bottle prior to release.

Since this red wine is listed as a Flagship Store Exclusive, it will be available only in limited quantities beginning this in the VINTAGES section at select LCBOs across the province.

Ca' Viola Brichet Barbera d'Alba 2012 - DOC, Piedmont, Italy (91 Pts)

Tasting Note:

CA’ VIOLA BRICHET BARBERA D’ALBA 2012 - DOC, Piedmont, Italy (#452813) (XD) - $36.95
100% Barbera. Black plum and dark berry aromas from the cork. Aromas of wild flower, cinnamon, wet earth, sweet spice, sage, clove and red cherry waft from the glass with terrific complexity. The mouthfeel is soft on the medium-bodied palate with supple, fine-grained tannins. Delicious raspberry, floral and oak spice flavours. Well-balanced with racy acids and very good length on the finish. Enjoy over the next 3-4 years. Score: 91 pts


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  • Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Southbrook Triomphe Organic Cabernet Franc Rosé 2015 (Niagara) - Wine Review

wine is a sneak preview of a dry rosé that will be available at the LCBO as part of the VINTAGES Release on .

This wine is 100% Cabernet Franc, from grapes grown organically at the Estate, as well as from the Saunders and Sabourin Vineyards.

Southbrook Triomphe Organic Cabernet Franc Rosé 2015 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (88 pts)

Tasting Note:

SOUTHBROOK TRIOMPHE ORGANIC CABERNET FRANC ROSÉ 2015 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#279117) (XD) - $19.95
Stelvin screw cap. Pretty salmon colour. Shy nose offers glimpses of red fruit, strawberry, floral, sweet herbs and hints of honey. The plush, medium-bodied palate has honeyed cran-cherry flavours with some pepper and herbally nuances. It's dry with gentle acids and good length on the finish. Best enjoyed with just a slight chill. Score: 88 pts


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  • Friday, June 10, 2016

Domaine de l'Alba l'Ermite 2013 (Midi) - Wine Review

wine is a sneak preview of a red wine blend that is new to the LCBO and will be on shelves as part of the VINTAGES Release on .

This wine is produced by Select Vins - a collaboration between Jean Paux-Rosset (owner of Château de la Négly) and his consulting winemaker, Claude Gros. Together, they have assembled some of the best grape growers across the appellations of the Languedoc. The grapes for this delicious wine come from Corbières, the largest Languedoc appellation.

Domaine de l’Alba l’Ermite 2013 - AC Corbières, Midi, France (88 pts)

Tasting Note:

DOMAINE DE L'ALBA L'ERMITE 2013 - AC Corbières, Midi, France (#446138) (XD) - $17.00
This blend of (60%) Carignan, (30%) Grenache, and (10%) Syrah is aged 6 months in concrete vats, followed by 6 months in French oak barrels. Plum and cherry aromas from the cork. An earthy, underbrush, clove nose of medium intensity gives way to brambly, cherry, violet, and spicebox aromas. It's medium-bodied with light, supple tannins that develop texture with air. Appealing on the palate with flavours of herbal, dark cherry, plum, menthol and spice. It has juicy acids, a smooth and silky mouthfeel, and very good length on the finish. Enjoy over the next 3-4 years. Recommended buy. Score: 88 pts


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  • Friday, June 10, 2016

Top Wines at Great New Zealand Wine Tiki Tour - May 2016

At the Great New Zealand Wine Tiki Tour in , as expected, there were many very nice Sauvignon Blanc wines, including some oaked styles, and Pinot Noir wines. However, there were two wines that stood out - a young Syrah that showed impeccable balance and was very approachable for such a young wine, and an oaked Chardonnay.

Here are my top wines from the New Zealand tasting. We should see most of these wines show up at the LCBO at some point, however, you can always contact the Agent directly for more ordering options.

Tasting Notes:

NGATARAWA STABLES RESERVE SYRAH 2015 - Hawke's Bay, North Island, New Zealand (XD) - $22.95
With only 3 months of oak, this young wine has a medium-to-high intensity nose showing true varietal character with notes of black peppercorn, black fruits and some oak spices. The palate is medium+ bodied with nicely balanced aroma replays and balanced acids. Tannins are smooth and supple. Medium-to-long finish. Available via Private Order through EPIC Wines and Spirits. Score: 89 pts

Ngatarawa Stables Reserve Syrah 2015 - Hawke's Bay, North Island, New Zealand (89 pts)

PASQUALE CHARDONNAY 2012 - Waitaki Valley, Central Otago, South Island, New Zealand (XD) - $39
A rich wine with an high intensity nose featuring very nice apple, butter notes and some elegant oak, vanilla notes. On the palate, it is medium+ bodied with a creamy mouthfeel and orchard fruit, oak, buttery flavours to go along with crisp, clean acids. Excellent length on the finish. Contact Trilogy Wine Merchants for purchasing information. Score: 91 pts

Pasquale Chardonnay 2012 - Waitaki Valley, Central Otago, South Island, New Zealand (91 pts)

SPY VALLEY ENVOY JOHNSON VINEYARD SAUVIGNON BLANC 2014 - Waihopai Valley, Marlborough, South Island, New Zealand (#429308) (XD) - $29.95
From their oldest vines, this barrel fermented and oak aged Sauvignon Blanc offers a lovely smoky nose combined with elegant grass, hay, asparagus and hints of citrus aromas. On the nicely textured palate, it is light-to-mid-weighted with tart green fruit, grass, and lime that is on the tangy side. It has well-balanced acids and excellent length on the finish. Can age at least half dozen years. Contact Trialto for availability. Score: 91 pts

Spy Valley Envoy Johnson Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc 2014 - Waihopai Valley, Marlborough, South Island, New Zealand (91 pts)

STONELEIGH LATITUDE PINOT NOIR 2014 - Marlborough, South Island, New Zealand (#325654) (XD) - $25.95
The medium-to-high intensity nose has lively aromas of black cherry, tea leaf, and black spices. On the medium-bodied palate it is smooth with rounded tannins, juicy acids, and cherry flavours with earthy undertones. Well-balanced and long finishing. Contact Corby Spirit & Wine for availability. Score: 90+ pts

Stoneleigh Latitude Pinot Noir 2014 - Marlborough, South Island, New Zealand (90+ pts)

WHITEHAVEN GREG SAUVIGNON BLANC 2015 - Awatere Valley, Marlborough, South Island, New Zealand (XD) - $24.95
Medium-to-high intensity aromas that are clean with notes of asparagus, gooseberry, and lime which echo nicely on the well-balanced palate. It's medium-bodied with good acidity and a long, juicy finish. Contact E.J. Gallo to order. Score: 90+ pts

Whitehaven Greg Sauvignon Blanc 2015 - Awatere Valley, Marlborough, South Island, New Zealand (90+ pts)


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