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  • Sunday, January 26, 2020

Lakeview Cellars Serenity Sauvignon Blanc 2018 (Niagara) - Wine Review



It's been a crazy couple of weeks, plus today's tragic news of Kobe Bryant, so for wine review I feel like having some serenity now with this Sauvignon Blanc from Niagara.

Serenity is that feeling created by quiet conversations, easy smiles, magical moments with friends or simply your personal oasis - and is exactly what this delicious white wine was created to be part of.

The Serenity collection of wines, which also includes the Serenity Baco Noir, is a new addition to the Lakeview Cellars brand. These wines are produced by Lakeview Wine Co., a division of Diamond Estates Wine & Spirits Ltd. in Niagara-on-the-Lake. Winemaker Scott McGregor says that he enjoys crafting these premium and approachable Serenity Wines. He also mentions that this Sauvignon Blanc would be a great patio wine.

Given that it is January in Toronto, I have no doubt that this will be a hit on patios come Spring, but I will pass on the patio for now and move indoors to my serene spot on the couch, bundled up with warm slippers.

This white wine is widely available at LCBO outlets across Ontario, as well as at the winery in Niagara-on-the-Lake or by shopping online.

Lakeview Cellars Serenity Sauvignon Blanc 2018 (87 pts)

Tasting Note:

LAKEVIEW CELLARS SERENITY SAUVIGNON BLANC 2018 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#688549) (D) - $16.95
Screw cap. Fragrant nose of gooseberry, green, grassy, and lime zest aromas. It's medium+ bodied with good fruit concentration and gooseberry, kiwi, tropical fruit, and lime citrus flavours supported by bracing acidity. Good length on the finish. Serve well-chilled. Score: 87 pts


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  • Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Rupert & Rothschild Classique 2016 (South Africa) - Wine Review

wine review is a lovely Bordeaux blend from South Africa that is arriving at the LCBO this weekend as part of the LCBO VINTAGES Release.

Established in 1997, the partnership of Rupert & Rothschild Vignerons was founded under the leadership of Dr. Anton Rupert and Baron Edmond de Rothschild. Both men later relinquished the reigns to their respective sons- Anthonij Rupert and Baron Benjamin de Rothschild. After Anthonij passed away in 2001,  his older brother Johann Rupert and sister Hanneli Rupert-Koegelenberg assumed his position.

The late Dr. Anton Rupert was an internationally respected industrialist who established a global business empire. He was held in high regard as a committed conservationist, and together with his art-devoted wife, Huberte, played an immense role in the preservation of art. The Rupert family has a passion for producing world-class wines and own three other wine estates in the picturesque Franschhoek Valley, located just east of Stellenbosch in South Africa's Western Cape.

One of the most well-known names in wine, the Rothschild family’s passion for wine began when James de Rothschild purchased Château Lafite in 1868. His great-grandson, Baron Edmond de Rothschild embraced his vision and expanded their wine portfolio by acquiring two estates in Listrac and Moulis-en-Médoc in 1973. Eventually, this became Edmond de Rothschild Heritage and today it is run by his son and his wife, Baron Benjamin and Baroness Ariane de Rothschild. Over time, Edmond de Rothschild Heritage continued to grow and now includes vineyards in France, Spain, Argentina, New Zealand and South Africa.

At Rupert & Rothschild Vignerons, meticulous attention is given to the vineyard and cellar practices in order to produce the finest quality wines. The pay special attention preserve the grapes in their optimal state prior to initiating the winemaking process as it is an important aspect in producing exceptional wine. Bunches are carefully hand-harvested and intervention during the winemaking process is kept to a minimum. Rupert & Rothschild Vignerons produces only three wines - a Chardonnay, a flagship Bordeaux blend, this Classique Bordeaux blend which is one of the most sought after South African red wines in its category. Let's see how this red wine is tasting tonight...

Rupert & Rothschild Classique 2016 (89 pts)

Tasting Note:

RUPERT & ROTHSCHILD CLASSIQUE 2016 - WO Western Cape, South Africa (#717991) (XD) - $24.95
This blend of 50% Merlot, 35% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 15% Cabernet Franc was hand-harvested and fermented in stainless steel tanks with extended skin contact, followed by ageing in small French oak barrels for 16 months. The medium+ intensity nose is complex with enticing herbally notes mingling with dark fruited, dark berry, blackberry, currant, black plum aromas followed by savoury, earthy and wood spice notes. The palate is medium bodied with juicy acids and tight, textured tannins. It has nice herbally, dark berry, and oak spice flavours with some warmth on the mid-palate. Finishes with very good length and more herbally, wood spice, and some bitter chocolate notes. Enjoy over the next 3-4 years. Score: 89 pts


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  • Wednesday, January 22, 2020

January 25, 2020 LCBO VINTAGES Release Wine Picks: Perfect Pairings

The overarching theme of the January 25, 2020 LCBO VINTAGES Release focuses on food & wine pairings and branches off into two categories - wines for comfort food and wines for takeout. All of the wines from the themes and the main release will arrive on shelves across Ontario by this Saturday.

We begin with the first food and wine pairing theme on wine companions for comfort foods. Of the twelve wines featured, five are include among my top wine picks. For pairing with shellfish in a herb butter sauce, try the Chablis (an unoaked Chardonnay) or Pouilly-Fumé (i.e. Sauvignon Blanc). For a hearty, big red meat stew, try a robust wine such as the Châteauneuf-du-Pape, which consists of 70% Grenache, 17% Mourvèdre, 10% Syrah, and 3% Cinsault, or the Carignan that comes from 60 year-old vines. Lastly, pasta is the consummate comfort food and could be paired with the Riserva Chianti Classico from Antinori that is a blend of mostly Sangiovese.

Domaine Séguinot-Bordet Chablis 2018 (91 pts)Chatelain Les Charmes Pouilly-Fumé 2017 (90+ pts)

Les Cailloux Châteauneuf-du-Pape 2016 (92+ pts)Lafage Cayrol Vieilles Vignes Carignan 2016 (89 pts)

There are ten wines from the second theme on food and wine pairings that focuses on wines for takeout food and four are included among my wine recommendations. First up is a Pecorino (a white wine, not the cheese) from Italy that would be a fine match for pizza. For Thai curries, try off-dry wines or wines with bright red fruits such as the Morgon from Beaujolais which is made with Gamay. For beef, pork, or chicken tacos, try a Tempranillo, or with fish tacos try the Momo Sauvignon Blanc.

De Angelis Offida Pecorino 2018 (88 pts)Gérard Brisson Les Charmes La Louve Morgon 2018 (90 pts)

Alvides Tinto Roble Tempranillo 2016 (88 pts)Momo Organic Sauvignon Blanc 2018 (88 pts)

From the rest of the Release, among my red wine picks there is a very nice Cabernet-Merlot from South Africa that consists of 50% Merlot, 35% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 15% Cabernet Franc, while the Valpolicella from Veneto is a blend of 35% Corvina, 35% Corvinone, 20% Rondinella, and 10% Rossignola / Oseleta / Negrara / Dindarella. Single varietal wines include a lovely Brunello di Montalcino that is made with Sangiovese, while the Bourgueil is made with Cabernet Franc.

Lazzeretti Brunello di Montalcino 2013 (91+ pts)Rupert & Rothschild Classique 2016 (89 pts)

Tedeschi Valpolicella Superiore 2017 (88+ pts)

Only one of my white wine recommendations is a blend - the Hugel Gentil from Alsace consists of Gewurztraminer, Pinot Gris, Riesling, Muscat, Pinot Blanc, and Sylvaner. The Hermitage Blanc is made with 100% Marsanne, while the Pouilly-Fuissé is a barrel-fermented Chardonnay from Burgundy. For sweet wine lovers, the Riesling from Niagara is your best bet.

Château Vitallis Vieilles Vignes Pouilly-Fuissé 2017 (91 pts)

Enjoy my wine recommendations from this Release! Cheers!

Red Wine:

  • CANTINA SAN PAOLO AGLIANICO 2017 - IGP Campania, Italy (#473132) (XD) - $14.95  88 pts  wine review
  • ALVIDES TINTO ROBLE TEMPRANILLO 2016 - DO Ribera del Duero, Spain (#010699) (XD) - $16.95  88 pts  wine review
  • TEDESCHI VALPOLICELLA SUPERIORE 2017 - DOC, Veneto, Italy (#012726) (XD) - $17.95  88+ pts  wine review
  • DOMAINE LES PINS CUVÉE LES ROCHETTES BOURGUEIL 2017 - AP, Loire, France (#478263) (XD) - $17.95
  • LAFAGE CAYROL VIEILLES VIGNES CARIGNAN 2016 - IGP Côtes Catalanes, Roussillon, France (#494039) (XD) - $18.95  89 pts  wine review
  • FRANÇOIS VILLARD L'APPEL DES SEREINES SYRAH 2016 - France (#012978) (D) - $19.95  88 pts  wine review
  • GÉRARD BRISSON LES CHARMES LA LOUVE MORGON 2018 - AC, Beaujolais, France (#012028) (XD) - $20.95  90 pts  wine review
  • RUPERT & ROTHSCHILD CLASSIQUE 2016 - WO Western Cape, South Africa (#717991) (XD) - $24.95  89 pts  wine review
  • VILLA ANTINORI RISERVA CHIANTI CLASSICO 2015 - DOCG, Tuscany, Italy (#540971) (XD) - $29.95
  • LAZZERETTI BRUNELLO DI MONTALCINO 2013 - DOCG, Tuscany, Italy (#318352) (XD) - $46.95  91+ pts  wine review
  • LES CAILLOUX CHÂTEAUNEUF-DU-PAPE 2016 - AC, Rhône, France (#012982) (D) - $65.95  92+ pts  wine review
Cantina San Paolo Aglianico 2017 (88 pts)François Villard L'appel des Sereines Syrah 2016 (88 pts)

White Wine:

  • DE ANGELIS OFFIDA PECORINO 2018 - DOCG, Marche, Italy (#577734) (XD) - $13.95  88 pts  wine review
  • ROCKWAY FERGIE JENKINS LIMITED EDITION RIESLING 2017 - VQA Twenty Mile Bench, Niagara Escarpment, Ontario, Canada (#485326) (M) - $16.95
  • HUGEL GENTIL 2017 - AC Alsace, France (#367284) (XD) - $17.95
  • STADT KREMS GRÜNER VELTLINER 2018 - Certified sustainable, DAC Kremstal, Austria (#295626) (XD) - $18.95
  • MOMO ORGANIC SAUVIGNON BLANC 2018 - Marlborough, South Island, New Zealand (#009167) (XD) - $19.95  88 pts  wine review
  • AUNTSFIELD SINGLE VINEYARD SAUVIGNON BLANC 2019 - Certified sustainable, Southern Valleys, Marlborough, South Island, New Zealand (#663286) (XD) - $21.95  90 pts  wine review
  • CHATELAIN LES CHARMES POUILLY-FUMÉ 2017 - AC, Loire, France (#727990) (XD) - $27.95  90+ pts  wine review
  • DOMAINE SÉGUINOT-BORDET CHABLIS 2018 - AC, Burgundy, France (#289371) (XD) - $28.95  91 pts  wine review
  • CHÂTEAU VITALLIS VIEILLES VIGNES POUILLY-FUISSÉ 2017 - AC, Burgundy, France (#360495) (XD) - $31.95  91 pts  wine review
  • J.L. CHAVE SÉLECTION BLANCHE HERMITAGE BLANC 2015 - AC, Rhône, France (#387357) (XD) - $75.95  FE
Auntsfield Single Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc 2019 (90 pts)

Sparkling Wine:

  • LA MASCOTA EXTRA BRUT ROSÉ SPARKLING - Traditional method, Argentina (#011806) (XD) - $19.95  88+ pts  wine review
La Mascota Extra Brut Rosé Sparkling (88+ pts)


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  • Sunday, January 19, 2020

Hecht & Bannier Côtes du Roussillon-Villages 2010 (France) - Wine Review

wine review is this lovely 2010 Roussillon-Villages red wine that I purchased back in 2013 when it came through LCBO VINTAGES on . I had the pleasure of tasting this wine with co-founder Gregory Hecht at the Halpern Enterprises portfolio tasting later that same year, and was pleasantly surprised to see it return to LCBO VINTAGES on .

Although this wine is no longer available at the LCBO, you should be able to get your hands on the latest vintage through Halpern Enterprises.

Hecht & Bannier Côtes du Roussillon-Villages 2010 (91 pts)

Tasting Note:

HECHT & BANNIER CÔTES DU ROUSSILLON-VILLAGES 2010 - AC, Midi, France (#142802) (XD) - $23.95
A blend of Grenache from the Catalan Hills, Mourvèdre, high-altitude Syrah, and small amounts of Carignan and Lledoner Pelut that was raised in a combination of tanks, demi muids, and large oak casks. Mature deep garnet colour. Aromas of dried herb and dark berries mingle with wet schisty mineral, smoke, and hints of wet forest floor. It is medium+ bodied with more dried herbal, dark berry, schisty mineral, and smoke flavours. Acids are still quite juicy and mouth-watering. There's some warmth on the mid-palate, but it doesn't intrude on enjoyment. Fine, velvety tannins have fully integrated, offering a smooth mouthfeel, developing a nice, slightly chalky grip with each passing sip. Savoury mineral with dried dark berry and earthy notes linger on the very long finish. Drinking beautifully at 10 years from vintage. I wouldn't hold on to this much longer. Score: 91 pts


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  • Monday, January 13, 2020

Olarra Clásico Reserva 2009 (Spain) - Wine Review

After enjoying the recent string of lovely wines from Bodegas Olarra Group, for wine review I dive into my cellar and open a 2009 Rioja that I purchased nearly 5 years ago from the LCBO VINTAGES Release.

This delicious red wine only appeared to show up at the LCBO once, but the latest vintage should be available via Charles Jewett at Trilogy Wine Merchants.

Olarra Clásico Reserva 2009 (90 pts)

Tasting Note:

OLARRA CLÁSICO RESERVA 2009 - DOCa Rioja, Spain (#423541) (XD) - $18.95
A blend of mostly Tempranillo with Grenache and Mazuelo (a.k.a. Carignan) in support, this has a generous bouquet of complex spices, fig, dried dark berry, floral pastille, sweet tobacco, and wood spice aromas rising out of the glass. It's medium-full bodied, mouthwatering and juicy on the palate with savoury, earthy, fig, dried berry, and tobacco flavours. A touch of alcoholic heat on the mid-palate, but otherwise quite balanced. Tannins are well-integrated with a nice chalky textured mouthfeel. Excellent finish length that is earthy and savoury with wood spice and tobacco notes. Should continue to drink well over the next 2-3 years. Score: 90 pts


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  • Wednesday, January 8, 2020

January 11, 2020 LCBO VINTAGES Release Wine Picks: Smart Buys

LCBO Wine Picks: January 11, 2020 VINTAGES Release
Happy New Year! The January 11, 2020 LCBO VINTAGES Release is the first release of the new year (and decade) and it is the annual "Smart Buys" Release - a theme that is perennially featured in the first release of the year. All of the wines from the thematic, as well as the rest of the release will appear on shelves by this Saturday.

We'll begin with the "Smart Buys" theme that focuses on great-value wines. After the many expensive releases leading up to the holidays. This release is very much wallet-friendly, but at the same time does offer some quality wines to add to your collection. Nearly all of the 27 wines featured in the "Smart Buys" section are under $20, with six included among my top wine picks. Smart Buys in white wines include a Chenin Blanc from South Africa and a Falanghina from Italy. Red wines that are Smart Buys include a pair of relatively mature wines - a Tempranillo from Rioja and a Pinot Noir from Willamette Valley. Lastly, red wine blends from the Smart Buys section include a 50% Syrah, 30% Grenache, and 20% Mourvèdre blend from Costières de Nîmes, and a 60/40 Shiraz/Grenache blend from McLaren Vale.

Brella Pinot Noir 2014 (90 pts)Marques de La Concordia Viña Alarde Reserva 2013 (89 pts)

Paxton AAA Shiraz/Grenache 2017 (90 pts)Château Saint-Louis La Perdrix l'Envol 2018 (88 pts)

Tussock Jumper Chenin Blanc 2019 (88 pts)Riolite Il Poggio Guerriero Falanghina Beneventano 2017 (87 pts)

Among my red wine picks from the rest of the Release, there are a pair of lovely Rhône reds. The Cairanne is a blend of 50% Grenache, 30% Syrah, and 20% Carignan, while the Lirac is a blend of 55% Grenache, 15% Cinsault, 15% Syrah, 10% Carignan, and 5% Mourvèdre. Lastly, the Corbières is a blend of 60% Syrah and 40% Grenache.

Château de Montfaucon Baron Louis Lirac 2015 (91 pts)Camille Cayran Cave de Cairanne Le Chêne Noir 2017 (89 pts)

There are no blends among the rest of my white wine recommendations. But there are some lovely dry wines include a pair of Chardonnays, a Pinot Gris, a Sauvignon Blanc, and a Muscadet which is made with the Melon de Bourgogne varietal. For sweet wine lovers, there are quite a few lovely offerings - an off-dry Riesling from Alsace, a medium dry Riesling from New Zealand, and finally, a mature Riesling Kabinett from Germany.

Pierre Sparr Sol Calcaire Riesling 2015 (89 pts)The Doctors' Riesling 2018 (89 pts)

Babich Black Label Pinot Gris 2017 (88+ pts)LaCheteau Muscadet 2018 (87 pts)

Enjoy my top wine recommendations from this Release! Cheers!

Red Wine:

  • CHÂTEAU SAINT-LOUIS LA PERDRIX L'ENVOL 2018 - AP Costières de Nîmes, Rhône, France (#010514) (XD) - $12.95  88 pts  wine review
  • PIATTELLI RESERVE CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2016 - Luján de Cuyo, Mendoza, Argentina (#010968) (XD) - $16.95  89 pts  wine review
  • BRELLA PINOT NOIR 2014 - Willamette Valley, Oregon, USA (#514786) (XD) - $16.95  90 pts  wine review
  • FINCA LOS MAZA RESERVA MALBEC 2016 - Uco Valley, Mendoza, Argentina (#010772) (XD) - $17.00  89 pts  wine review
  • CAMILLE CAYRAN CAVE DE CAIRANNE LE CHÊNE NOIR 2017 - AP Côtes du Rhône-Villages, France (#010006) (XD) - $17.00  89 pts  wine review
  • CHÂTEAU DE TRÉVIAC CORBIÈRES 2017 - AP, Midi, France (#670505) (D) - $17.95
Piattelli Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2016 (89 pts)Finca Los Maza Reserva Malbec 2016 (89 pts)

  • MARQUES DE LA CONCORDIA VIÑA ALARDE RESERVA 2013 - DOCa Rioja, Spain (#010548) (XD) - $17.95  89 pts  wine review
  • PAXTON AAA SHIRAZ/GRENACHE 2017 - McLaren Vale, South Australia (#149898) (XD) - $19.95  90 pts  wine review
  • FLAT ROCK PINOT NOIR 2018 - VQA Niagara Escarpment, Ontario, Canada (#001545) (XD) - $21.95  90+ pts  wine review
  • UNDURRAGA TERROIR HUNTER CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2016 - Cauquenes, Maule Valley, Chile (#630350) (XD) - $24.95  FE
  • AMAYNA SYRAH 2016 - Leyda Valley, Chile (#143529) (XD) - $28.95  FE
  • CHÂTEAU DE MONTFAUCON BARON LOUIS LIRAC 2015 - AP, Rhône, France (#013438) (XD) - $29.95  91 pts  wine review
Flat Rock Pinot Noir 2018 (90+ pts)

White Wine:

  • TUSSOCK JUMPER CHENIN BLANC 2019 - WO Western Cape, South Africa (#480764) (XD) - $12.95  88 pts  wine review
  • LACHETEAU MUSCADET 2018 - AP, Loire, France (#010697) (XD) - $13.95  87 pts  wine review
  • RIOLITE IL POGGIO GUERRIERO FALANGHINA BENEVENTANO 2017 - IGP, Campania, Italy (#010950) (D) - $15.95  87 pts  wine review
  • PIERRE SPARR SOL CALCAIRE RIESLING 2015 - AC Alsace, France (#010683) (D) - $18.95  89 pts  wine review
  • DR. SIEMENS SERRIGER WÜRZBURG FEINHERB RIESLING KABINETT 2010 - Prädikatswein, Mosel, Germany (#524827) (M) - $18.95  FE
  • BABICH BLACK LABEL PINOT GRIS 2017 - Estate grown and bottled, certified sustainable, Marlborough, South Island, New Zealand (#447417) (XD) - $19.95  88+ pts  wine review
  • TWO RIVERS CONVERGENCE SAUVIGNON BLANC 2018 - Certified sustainable, Marlborough, South Island, New Zealand (#277707) (XD) - $19.95
  • THE DOCTORS' RIESLING 2018 - Marlborough, South Island, New Zealand (#012321) (M) - $19.95  89 pts  wine review
  • BACHELDER MINERALITÉ DE L'OREGON CHARDONNAY 2015 - Willamette Valley, Oregon, USA (#273334) (XD) - $24.95
  • BACHELDER WISMER-FOXCROFT N. 2 CHARDONNAY 2015 - VQA Twenty Mile Bench, Niagara Escarpment, Ontario, Canada (#547299) (XD) - $44.95


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  • Sunday, January 5, 2020

Maycas del Limarí Reserva Especial Syrah 2008 (Chile) - Wine Review

For my first wine review of the year (and decade), I take you back more than a decade to this lovely 2008 Syrah from Chile that I opened . It was purchased from the VINTAGES Release, when it was billed as the benchmark for Chilean Syrah.

Viña Maycas del Limarí is part of the Concha y Toro portfolio of wine brands. Maycas, meaning "ariable lands" in Quechua, were the foundation of South America's most powerful civilization, the Inca Empire. Formerly Inca lands in northern Chile, the Limarí Valley opens into a wide river basin of mineral-rich soils that receive a constant, fresh breeze off the Pacific Ocean.

Of course, this bottle is long sold out. However, the latest vintage may be available through their Agent in Ontario, Escalade Wines & Spirits.

Maycas del Limarí Reserva Especial Syrah 2008 (90+ pts)

Tasting Note:

MAYCAS DEL LIMARÍ RESERVA ESPECIAL SYRAH 2008 - Limarí Valley, Chile (#269423) (XD) - $19.95
Gorgeous, open, and mature aromas are savoury and earthy at its core, mingling with stewed blackberry and plum, layered over peppery spice, meaty, and whiffs of floral. It's full-bodied and still quite dense and chewy on the palate, supported by juicy acidity. Earthy and savoury flavours, plus black pepper spice, clove, cocoa, dark berry, and hints of mint and dried herb. Smooth, finely-grained tannins have integrated very nicely with a slightly chalky textured character. A touch warming on the mid-palate, but still impeccably balanced. Interesting medicinal, minty, dark berry, spice, cocoa, and savoury mineral notes linger on the long-lasting, juicy finish. Should continue to drink well over the next 2-3 years. Score: 90+ pts


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