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  • Date publishedMonday, August 29, 2011

Wine Blends + Viva Italia + Sake: September 3 Vintages Release

Judging from the cover of the next LCBO Vintages Release on , this doesn't appear to be a strong release. However, we all know that you should never judge a book (or magazine!) by its cover.

The first major feature in this release focuses on blends from around the world. My favourites blends are the classic Bordeaux (Cab Sauv, Merlot & Cab Franc) and southern Rhône GSM (Grenache, Syrah & Mourvèdre) blends. In this release, none stood as great value.

Second focus of this Vintages magazine celebrates Italy's 150th anniversary of unification. Only 1 wine from Italy made my list (Montalcino from Tuscany). Far more interesting is the feature on Sake. I've only ever had Sake once before, so, the 2 listed below look quite appealing.

Enjoy my picks for this week and, as always, let me know if you try any of these! The next Vintages Release () is a Special Edition that features only wines from Ontario to coincide with the upcoming Niagara Wine Festival. Stay tuned. Cheers!

Red Wine:
  • CHÂTEAU PEYROS VIEILLES VIGNES 2006 - AC Madiran, Midi, France (#234997) (XD) - $18.95
  • TIERRA ALTA RESERVA CARMENÈRE 2007 - Maule Valley, Chile (#236067) (XD) - $13.95
  • LAMADRID SINGLE VINEYARD RESERVA MALBEC 2008 - Luján de Cuyo, Mendoza, Argentina (#234492) (XD) - $15.00
  • LUIS FELIPE EDWARDS RESERVA MERLOT 2009 - Colchagua Valley, Chile (#250340) (XD) - $14.95
  • CHÂTEAU LA MAISONNETTE 2008 - AC Côtes de Blaye, Bordeaux, France (#226191) (XD) - $14.95
  • REBENFELD BLAUFRÄNKISCH 2007 - AC Burgenland, Austria (#218420) (XD) - $15.95
  • SAN FILIPPO LO SCORNO ROSSI DI MONTALCINO 2008 - DOC, Tuscany, Italy (#232397) (XD) - $19.95

White Wine:
  • GIESEN THE BROTHERS SAUVIGNON BLANC 2009 - Marlborough, South Island, New Zealand (#247213) (XD) - $19.95
  • LAILEY CHARDONNAY 2009 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#193482) (XD) - $19.95

  • TAISETSU ICE DOME GINJO - Hokkaido Prefecture, Japan (#211144) (MD) 300 mL - $12.95
  • GEKKEIKAN HORIN JUNMAI DAIGINJO - Kyoto Prefecture, Japan (#603837) (D) 300 mL - $16.95

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  • Date publishedTuesday, August 23, 2011

2008 Penfolds Koonunga Hill Shiraz Cabernet (Australia) - Wine Review

Life outside of wine has been keeping me busy, hence the long time between wine reviews. Tonight's wine is from the general LCBO listing and was recently gifted to us.

PENFOLDS KOONUNGA HILL CABERNET/SHIRAZ 2008 - South Australia, Australia (#285544) (D) - $16.55

Tasting Note:
Red berries, touch of earth aromas. Gentle ripe fruit, currants and light oak on the palate. Medium-full bodied. Chalky tannins really get onto your teeth - will definitely have to brush well tonight! Not big and uncomplicated. Good, everyday wine that will go well with many simple meat dishes, including curries and pastas.

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  • Date publishedTuesday, August 16, 2011

Southern France + Other Cali Regions + TIFF: August 20 Vintages Release

Mmmm...Southern France. One of my favourite regions for wines of high quality that don't hit your wallet hard. Three from this region made my list, with the Sommelière being my top value pick of the entire release.

The secondary feature in the Vintages Release highlights other wine regions of California that are outside of the legendary Napa and Sonoma valleys. The Chardonnay from Monterey looks good!

My wine pick from Ontario comes from Cattail Creek's 2009 Riesling. Made in an off-dry style - this one looks like a winner!

The Parés Baltà from Spain is an Organic wine. For anyone who may have a very special occasion coming up, I've also included 2 Champagne offerings, which will surely add to your celebrations.

I hope you enjoy my picks for this Saturday's release. Cheers!

Red Wine:
  • CHÂTEAU DE FLAUGERGUES CUVÉE SOMMELIÈRE 2007 - La Méjanelle, AC Coteaux du Languedoc, France (#065896) (XD) - $17.95
  • VILLA MEDORO MONTEPULCIANO D’ABRUZZO 2008 - DOC, Abruzzo, Italy (#242321) (D) - $15.95
  • PARÉS BALTÀ MAS ELENA 2007 - DOC Penedès, Spain (#687236) (XD) - $17.95
  • CHÂTEAU CALISSANNE 2008 - AC Coteaux d’Aix-en-Provence, France (#061283) (XD) - $16.95
  • PASCUAL TOSO BARRANCAS VINEYARDS RESERVE MALBEC 2009 - Mendoza, Argentina (#183897) (XD) - $18.95
  • MAS FORASTER JOSEP FORASTER CRIANÇA 2006 - Montblanc, DO Conca de Barbera, Spain (#218321) (XD) - $13.95
  • DOMAINE SABARDA CÔTES DU ROUSSILLON 2009 - AC, Roussillon, France (#237321) (XD) - $16.95

White Wine:
  • CATTAIL CREEK RIESLING 2009 - VQA Four Mile Creek, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#241547) (D) - $15.95
  • CHALONE MONTEREY COUNTY CHARDONNAY 2009 - Monterey County, California, USA (#080226) (XD) - $16.95

Rosé Wine:
  • CHÂTEAU DE FONTENELLES TENUE DE SOIRÉE ROSÉ DE SYRAH CORBIÈRES 2010 - AP, Languedoc, France (#225011) (D) - $13.95

  • CRISTAL BRUT CHAMPAGNE 2004 - AC, France (#268755) (XD) - $286.95
  • DOM PÉRIGNON BRUT CHAMPAGNE 2002 - AC, France (#280461) (XD) - $219.95

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  • Date publishedThursday, August 11, 2011

2008 Heartland Shiraz (Australia) - Wine Review

It's time for another wine review. This one was purchase only a few days ago from the latest Vintages Release.

HEARTLAND SHIRAZ 2008 - Langhorne Creek/Limestone Coast, South Australia, Australia (#661934) (D) - $19.95

Tasting Note:
Warm aromas of mint, eucalyptus, wet earth. Flavours of sweet red fruits (raspberry and cherry), herbs, pepper. Medium-bodied. Screw-top. Very uncomplicated. A good wine, but probably doesn't warrant the rating of 91 points given by Campbell Mattinson & Gary Walsh of the The Big Red Wine Book. Will be having this with one of my favs - simple rice and lentils dish with chaas (yogurt mixed with water, salt & cumin) called khichdi.

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  • Date publishedTuesday, August 9, 2011

Magnificent Sparkling in Massachusetts?

Westport Rivers Vineyard and Winery
Tucked inside the shores of Buzzard’s Bay, 80 acres of chardonnay, pinot noir, riesling, rkatsiteli, and several other varietals surround a first class winery operation on what was once a potato farm. This close to the coast, the warm ocean temperatures moderate the New England winter, bringing less snowfall to damage the vines.

In spring, cooler ocean water moderates early warm spikes, delaying bud break and preventing frost damage from retarding growth. And in fall, the warmer water extends the growing season, allowing a later harvest here than in other New England vineyards. Combine this microclimate with a family dedicated to quality wines and you have Westport Rivers Vineyard and Winery, the gem of New England winemaking that has won dozens of Gold Medals and been raved about by local, national and international press.

A friend urged me to visit Westport Rivers when researching my novel Sin & Vengeance, saying that the wines were as good as anything grown in the Napa Valley and that the family would welcome me with open arms. He was right on both counts.

The Russell family taught me so much about wines and winemaking my readers assume I’ve been an enthusiast for years. I am so enamored with their fruity sparkling wines I serve them at every function and book group meeting I attend. My guests can’t believe the sparkling is produced right here in Massachusetts and many go on to explore the vineyard for themselves.

Three times I’ve brought my readers to tour the vineyard. We discuss the action from my novel Sin & Vengeance and the script for the Sin & Vengeance movie, both of which are set on the property. The Russell family delights the crowd with information about winemaking and a touch of family history.

As my friend before me, I urge you to visit Westport Rivers Winery on your next trip to Massachusetts. It’s about 30 minutes from the excellent restaurants in Providence, a few miles from Horseneck Beach, and about 40 minutes from the bridges to Cape Cod. Throw in a bed and breakfast and you’ve got a fantastic weekend getaway.

CJ West is the author of 5 thrillers set in New England. Find him at

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  • Date publishedFriday, August 5, 2011

2009 Terredora Loggia della Serra Greco di Tufo (Italy) - Wine Review

Tonight's wine was purchased only a couple of weeks ago from the July 23 Vintages Release. Normally, I'm not a fan of white wines from Italy, but this was one I HAD to try. I'm glad I did - it was worth it! I would go even as far to say that this is the best white wine I've ever had from Italy.

TERREDORA LOGGIA DELLA SERRA GRECO DI TUFO 2009 - DOCG, Campania, Italy (#983197) (XD) - $17.95

Tasting Note:
Lime, minerals, flowers and wet earth aromas all come through on the palate. Well integrated. Dry and delicious. Creamy long finish (even the bottle was creamy, for some strange reason. LOL.) Very highly recommended if you like dry white wines. Will be enjoying the rest of this wine with whiting fish fried in masala.

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  • Date publishedTuesday, August 2, 2011

Tastes of Chile + BC Crafters: August 6 Vintages Wine Release

Vintages Magazine Cover: August 6, 2011 Wine ReleaseThe next Vintages Release on focuses on the tastes of Chile. It's great to see the secondary feature of this release highlighting 5 of our friends from out west (we don't get enough wines from our fellow countrymen & women in British Columbia). However, most of the wines from B.C. in this release are extremely pricey and don't provide great value.

Lots of good Chilean wines to choose from. I'm a sucker for Carmenère - if you haven't tried this grape before, then check out the Siegel (#237859). Normally, I'm not a big fan of Zinfandels, but the Kunde from California looks big enough to try.

Among the whites, the Riesling Spatlese from Mosel stands apart from the rest. For those that prefer unoaked whites, 'Unplugged' Chadonnay from Flat Rock is unoaked.

Enjoy this week's picks, and let me know if you try any of these!

Red Wine:
  • HEARTLAND SHIRAZ 2008 - Langhorne Creek/Limestone Coast, South Australia, Australia (#661934) (D) - $19.95
  • GEHRINGER BROTHERS DRY ROCK VINEYARDS MERLOT 2009 - VQA Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, Canada (#229898) (XD) - $18.95
  • SIEGEL CRUCERO RESERVA CARMENÈRE 2008 - Colchagua Valley, Chile (#237859) (XD) - $13.95
  • KUNDE ZINFANDEL 2007 - Sonoma Valley, California, USA (#965921) (XD) - $16.95
  • EMILIANA ADOBE RESERVA SYRAH 2009 - Rapel Valley, Chile (#213553) (XD) - $12.95

White Wine:
  • HOFFMANN-SIMON RIESLING SPÄTLESE 2009 - Prädikatswein, Piesporter Goldtröpfchen, Mosel, Germany (#216499) (MD) - $19.95
  • ANAKENA LILÉN SINGLE VINEYARD VIOGNIER 2010 - Requínoa, Chile (#45138) (XD) - $13.95
  • GÉRARD BERTRAND RÉSERVE SPÉCIALE DRY MUSCAT 2009 - IGP Pays d’Oc, Southwest, France (#234674) (D) - $13.95
  • MONTES ALPHA CHARDONNAY 2009 - Casablanca Valley, Chile (#390203) (XD) - $19.95
  • FLAT ROCK UNPLUGGED CHARDONNAY 2010 - VQA Twenty Mile Bench, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#68015) (D) - $15.95

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  • Date publishedMonday, August 1, 2011

2008 Zuccardi Q Tempranillo (Argentina) - Wine Review

Last night's wine was purchased from the June 25 Vintages Release, which had a major focus on wines from Argentina.

ZUCCARDI Q TEMPRANILLO 2008 - Santa Rosa Vineyards, Mendoza, Argentina (#973503) - $19.95

Tasting Note:
Made with grapes from 40 year-old vines. Aromas of red berries, blackberry join the flavour profile with lots of pepper/spice, and a touch of cola. Letting the wine breathe in glass relieves some of the spiciness. Chewy tannins will reward ageing another 1-2 years. This is definitely a good wine for the BBQ. I enjoyed this wine with chicken shish kebabs and wings prepared over a charcoal BBQ.

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