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  • Date publishedMonday, December 24, 2012

Trialto Fall Wine Tasting

Trialto Wine Group Ltd. logo
Towards the , I was invited to attend the Trialto Wine Group's Fall Tasting event held at their (relatively new) offices in downtown Toronto. In all, there were 18 wines available for tasting along with a selection of cheeses and smoked salmon on crackers.

Many of these wines are readily available from either the General List or the Vintages section at the LCBO; these wines can also be purchased in cases of 6 directly from Trialto. Seven of these wines are available (in cases of 6) exclusively through Trialto on consignment only.

These wines were available at the tasting, but I did not taste them as they were reviewed by me previously:

The Summers Chardonnay is a personal fave. My favourite wine of the evening was the Liberty School Cabernet Sauvignon. Here are my wine reviews from the event:

TILIA MALBEC 2011 - Mendoza, Argentina (#160945) (XD) - $12.95
Nose a bit closed, but shows dark fruits, violets and iron/metallic aromas. Easy drinking with dark fruits and hints of milk chocolate on the palate. Short- to medium-length finish. Score: 86 pts

ALAMOS MALBEC 2011 - Mendoza, Argentina (#295139) (XD) - $13.95
Intense and focused aromas of violet/lavender and dark fruits. Medium-full bodied with lots of spice on the palate that tapers off to a subdued dark fruit finish. Integrated tannins a bit grippy - could use 1-2 years in cellar. Alcohol (13.5%) shows. Score: 88 pts

LAPOSTOLLE CASA CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2010 - Rapel Valley, Chile (#168732) (D) - $15.95
Intense currant, cassis and mint aromas. Medium-bodied with flavours of oak, spices and raspberry. Integrated tannins a bit green, will reward ageing 1 year. Long finish. The LCBO website states that it is discontinued. You can, however, purchase it directly from Trialto. Score: 88 pts

LAS ROCAS GARNACHA 2009 - Calatayud, Spain (#269977) (D) - $14.60
From old vines 35-45 years old. Plush red fruit aromas from the glass. Medium-bodied with more red fruits on palate, joined by cranberry and spice box notes. Tannins a bit chalky. Good acidity with a medium-long finish. Serve slightly chilled. Score: 88 pts

ILLUMINATI RIPAROSSO MONTEPULCIANO D'ABRUZZO 2009 - DOC, Abruzzo, Italy (#269985) (XD) - $12.25
Intense and fruit-forward with aromas of cherries, red berries, and some raisin/plum. Light-bodied, very smooth with straight red fruits and red licorice. Crowd pleaser. Score: 88 pts

LIBERTY SCHOOL CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2009 - Paso Robles, California, USA (#738823) (D) - $19.95
Very intense aromas of smoke, earth and oak. Big wine with big tannins that are well-integrated. Full-bodied with dark fruits and touch of mint on the palate. It's smooth with mouth-watering acidity and has a long finish. Score: 90 pts

TREANA WHITE 2009 - Paso Robles, Central Coast, California, USA (#011247) (D) - $29.95
Blend of 55% Marsanne and 45% Viognier. Nice floral and tropical fruit aromatics. Off-dry and medium-bodied with complex notes of limestone minerality, orchard fruits and some buttery notes. Oak ageing is evident. Long finish. Score: 89 pts

The following wines are available by Consignment only:

DOMAINE FAIVELEY CHABLIS 2011 - Burgundy, France (#569334) (XD) - $22.95
Nose a bit closed, but shows pear, apple and vegetal aromas with pleasant replays on palate. Medium-bodied with a creamy mouthfeel. Very well-balanced and has a medium-finish. Score: 89 pts

DOMAINE DE LA MORDORÉE 2011 - Côtes-du-Rhône, France (#564715) (XD) - $16.95
Rosé blend of Grenache 40%, Syrah 30%, Cinsault 15%, Carignan 10%, Mourvedre 5%. Shows strawberry, herbal and leafy aromas that come off as Off-Dry. However, the palate is Extra-Dry with loads of minerality and tannin. This is a bigger rosé with a medium-body and a finish that is a touch hot. Balanced with medium-length finish. Score: 88 pts

DOMAINE DE LA MORDORÉE LIRAC 'LA DAME ROUSSE' 2010 - Côtes-du-Rhône, France (#604933) (XD) - $23.95
Old vines consisting of 50/50 Grenache and Syrah. Red wine with lavender, blackcurrant and dark fruit aromas. Medium-full bodied with aromas replays and some spice and sweet vanillan notes on palate. Tannins still a bit tight and should improve in 1-2 years. Quite smooth with a medium-length finish. Score: 90 pts

NOEMÍA A LISA MALBEC 2010 - Rio Negro, Patagonia, Argentina (#) (XD) - $23.95
90% Malbec, 9% Merlot and 1% Petit Verdot. Earthy, barnyard nose. Medium-full bodied with more earthy, savoury dark fruit and cedar flavours. Quite smooth and balanced. Integrated tannins a bit chalky - could use more time in bottle. Score: 88 pts

ARGIANO BRUNELLO DI MONTALCINO 2007 - DOCG, Tuscany, Italy (#) (XD) - $45.00
Woodsmoke and oak aromas. Medium-full bodied and very smooth with refined tannins. Palate has more woodsmoke, joined by blackcurrants, dark fruits and hints of coffee. Very nice acidity. Drinking quite well now, will reward with 2+ years ageing. Score: 91 pts

Trialto Fall Wine Tasting - photo 1

Trialto Fall Wine Tasting - photo 2

Trialto Fall Wine Tasting - photo 3

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  • Date publishedThursday, December 20, 2012

Wine Reviews - 2012 Gourmet Food & Wine Expo

Cornerstone Estate Wine Bottles Being Chilled
Here are my wine reviews from the 2012 Gourmet Food & Wine Expo that was held last month at the Metro Convention Centre in downtown Toronto. To see my full review of the event, go here.

At the K&S Wine Imports booth, located in the VINES Fine Wine and Intervin Lounge, I tasted two wines from Dreissigacker. It's a shame that neither of these wines are available at the LCBO. However, they can be ordered via K&S Wine Imports.

DREISSIGACKER RIESLING 2011 - Rheinhessen, Germany (D) - $23.00
Mineral, lime and floral aromas with very fine, mineral-driven replays on the palate. Round and off-dry with moderate acidity. Well-balanced throughout. Crowd-pleaser. Score: 88-89 pts

DREISSIGACKER BECHTHEIMER RIESLING 2011 - Rheinhessen, Germany (D) - $35.00
Mineral, floral and some peach aromas. Off-dry with a very lively acidity and aromas replays that temper into a long-lasting, minerally finish. Very nice! Score: 90-91 pts

COYOTE'S RUN RARE VINTAGE MERITAGE 2010 - VQA St. David's Bench, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $32.95
Smoky, blackberry, currant, raspberry and oak aromas with fruit and oak replays on palate. Lively acidity and full-bodied, but still a bit tight with chalky and grippy tannins. I would cellar for 2 years. Score: 88 pts

CORNERSTONE ESTATE GEWURZTRAMINER 2010 - Barrel aged, VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (D) - $14.00
Barrel aged for 10 months. Honeysuckle and lychee aromas. Oily texture and off-dry with more lychee and honey with some nutty notes. A touch hot towards the short finish. Score: 87 pts

CORNERSTONE ESTATE CABERNET FRANC 2008 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $16.00
Smoky barrels and dark fruit nose. Medium-full bodied with dark currant and mulberry on the palate. Round and well-balanced with bright acidity and a medium-length finish. Tannins a bit chalky and has 1-2 years further aging potential. Score: 88 pts

CORNERSTONE ESTATE CHENIN BLANC 2009 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada - $19.00
Quite aromatic with fruity, sweet citrus nose. Citrus and some lime palate gives way to high acidity. Light-bodied with a medium-length finish. Not complicated, and very easy to drink. A crowd-pleaser that would make a good apertif. Score: 87-88 pts

Unfortunately, no Cornerstone wines are available at the LCBO. But all can be purchased online through their website or by visiting the winery. I spent quite a bit of time speaking with President Jerry Kopanski and am looking forward to visiting this winery in the near future.

The next two wines were tasted at the Trialto booth. Both of these wines are available at the LCBO, but can also be purchased by the case directly from Trialto.

CHÂTEAU PIPEAU 2009 - Saint-Emilion Grand Cru, Bordeaux, France (#302018) (XD) - $34.95
90% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Sauvignon and 5% Cabernet Franc. Lots of big oak, currant and dark fruit aromas. Gobs of chunky, dark fruits on palate that is joined by coffee and chocolate notes. French barrel oaking shines through on this very big, full-bodied Merlot. It's well-balanced, has very good acidity and a long finish. Score: 91 pts.

CATENA ALTA MALBEC 2009 - Mendoza, Argentina (#982355) (XD) - $49.95
Gorgeous ripe blackberry, and raspberry aromas. Medium-bodied with ripe dark fruits, and sweet, sexy vanillan on the palate. Balanced wine with a long finish. Lovely! Score: 92 pts

The following wine review was one of two tasted at the Wines of Georgia pavilion. I've always been intrigued by wines from this very old wine-region (recently discovered as quite possibly the oldest wine region ever). The second wine was a semi-sweet table red wine that was not my cup of tea. However, if you like sweet red table wines, then you should definitely look at the Georgia and it's neighbours. Get in touch with United Stars.

QVEVRIS 2011 - Georgia (XD) - $13.55
This white wine has a nose of cumin and other mild Asian spices. Light-bodied with a chalky/tannic mouthfeel. Flavours of fennel and black licorice. Slightly off-dry. Different. This will be available at the LCBO in the near future.

These two French wines were tasted at the large Wines of France booth. I've been impressed previous Rodet wines, and thought to give these entry-level wines a shot. Both are commendable efforts for the price and readily available at the LCBO.

ANTONIN RODET CÔTES-DU-RHÔNE 2010 - AC Côtes-du-Rhône, France (#008979) (XD) - $12.95
Red-blend. Closed nose with dark berries and hints of oak with more of the same on the palate. Evident tannin, well-balanced with a long finish. It's an easy-drinking, crowd-pleaser of a red. Score: 87-88 pts

ANTONIN RODET SYRAH 2010 - Vin de Pays d'Oc, Languedoc, France (#293035) (XD) - $11.95
Blueberry and currant aromas. Medium-bodied with mint, black currants, and ripe fruits on the palate. Round and balanced with integrated tannins. Medium-length finish. Score: 87 pts

The final two wines I tasted at the Gourmet Food & Wine Expo were from the local winery Hidden Bench Vineyards & Winery, located in Beamsville, Ontario. Both wines were yummy.

HIDDEN BENCH ESTATE RIESLING 2011 - VQA Beamsville Bench, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#183491) (XD) - $24.00
Clean and fresh aromas of lime and minerality. Lots of zesty citrus with zippy acidity on the palate that finishes with some tart lime. Well-balanced with a medium-length finish. Needs some time to soften. Score: 89 pts

HIDDEN BENCH TERROIR CACHÉ - RED MERITAGE 2008 - VQA Beamsville Bench, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#505610) (XD) - $35.20
Blend of 47% Merlot, 22% Cab Franc, 21% Cab Sauv and 10% Malbec. Lots of oak and smoky aromas with underlying dark fruits. Full-bodied with bright acidity and more dark fruit and tobacco flavours on the palate. Grippy tannins could use another 2-3 years in cellar, but drinking well now. Score: 90 pts

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  • Date publishedSunday, December 9, 2012

Castellani Sommavite Santovino (Italy) - Wine Review

Baking almond biscotti today, I decided to open this Vin Santo that was purchased from the May 5th release way back in 2009. Unfortunately, like many of my other dessert wines, I tend to forget about them and then realize that I should have opened them years ago.

CASTELLANI SOMMAVITE SANTOVINO N.V. - Tuscany, Italy (#000927) (S) (500 mL) - $10.95

Homemade Almond Biscotti with Castellani Sommavite Santovino
Tasting Note:
Plum and raisin notes from the cork. Closed nose with some aromas of raisin and hazelnut. Creamy mouthfeel with mouth-watering acidity and flavours of nutty caramel. It's well past its prime and really should have been opened back in 2009. This non-vintage dessert wine was featured recently in the Sept. 29 release and I wouldn't hesitate to try it again as it looks like it would be pretty good during its prime drinking window. At least the homemade almond biscotti that my wife baked was delicious!

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  • Date publishedMonday, December 3, 2012

Dec. 8 Wine Picks: Festive Get-Togethers

Cover of December 8, 2012 LCBO Vintages Magazine
The next LCBO Vintages wine release will be in stores across Ontario on . This is the final release of 2012. So, if you haven't been stocking up for the holidays from previous releases, now is your last chance to do so.

This release is titled "Joys of the Season" and focuses on Fine Wines and Sparkling Wines for Festive Get-Togethers. I will skip the Sparklers as I didn't find anything too interesting, but you can check them out in the magazine.

If you're hosting a holiday dinner this season, it would be a good idea to start with a light, refreshing appertif that is "low" in alcohol, such as the Moscato (12% alc/vol) from California. Also suitable would be the extra-dry Riesling from Australia that is quite food-friendly and will pair nicely with appetizers.

Moving on to more fuller-bodied wines, I would suggest either the slightly off-dry Vouvray (made with Chenin Blanc) or the Chardonnay from Oregon. Even though winter is nearly upon us and the last thing you're probably thinking about is a rosé wine, I see the Southbrook Cab Franc Rosé slotted in here as well. You could even go with the lighter-bodied Pinot Noir from Ontario.

At this stage, depending on the spice level of your main course, you could either go with a medium-full bodied red, or a medium-sweet German Riesling Spätlese. In red wines, there are plenty of options, from the Mencía, to the Lealtanza (100% Tempranillo) and the Grenache-Syrah blend of Vacqueyras. A couple of very special wines include the Lucile Avril Châteauneuf-du-Pape that is made using 85% Grenache (90 year old vines), 10% Mourvèdre (60 year old vines) and 5% Syrah; and, also the Carnet that is mostly Merlot and some Cabernet Sauvignon, with additional drops of Cab Franc and Petit Verdot.

Finally, to end your meal, we have a sweet (!) Semillon from Australia. You could also indulge in a Tawny Port, or the Four Grapes Vintage port-style wine from California that's made using these 4 Port wine grapes: Tinta Madeira, Tinta Cão, Touriga Nacional, and Souzao.

Enjoy my wine picks for this week and enjoy your holidays! See you all in 2013!

Red Wine:
  • PIERRE LAPLACE MADIRAN 2009 - AC, Southwest, France (#103705) (XD) - $14.95
  • BODEGAS DEL ABAD DOM BUENO MENCÍA 2008 - DO Bierzo, Spain (#291989) (XD) - $15.95
  • LEALTANZA RESERVA 2007 - DOCa Rioja, Spain (#208223) (XD) - $19.95
  • FAMILLE PERRIN LES CHRISTINS VACQUEYRAS 2010 - AC, Rhône, France (#973453) (XD) - $23.95
  • TAWSE QUARRY ROAD PINOT NOIR 2009 - VQA Vinemount Ridge, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#307686) (D) - $34.95
  • DOMAINE DURIEU LUCILE AVRIL CHÂTEAUNEUF-DU-PAPE 2009 - AC, Rhône, France (#295147) (XD) - $42.95
  • STONESTREET MONUMENT RIDGE CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2007 - Alexander Mountain Estates, Alexander Valley, California, USA (#285098) (XD) - $49.95
  • CHÂTEAU LA TOUR CARNET 2009 - AC Haut-Médoc, 4e Cru, Bordeaux, France (#194555) (XD) - $51.85

White Wine:
  • TERRAPRIMA WHITE 2011 - DO Penedès, Spain (#303552) (D) - $17.95
  • JIM BARRY THE LODGE HILL DRY RIESLING 2011 - Clare Valley, South Australia (#262469) (XD) - $19.95
  • MARC BRÉDIF VOUVRAY 2010 - AC, Loire, France (#685362) (D) - $19.95
  • UVAGGIO SECCO MOSCATO 2010 - Lodi, California, USA (#297515) (D) - $19.95
  • DE BORTOLI NOBLE ONE BOTRYTIS SEMILLON 2008 - New South Wales, Australia (#917252) (S) (375 mL) - $29.95
  • BACHELDER OREGON CHARDONNAY 2010 - Willamette Valley, Oregon, USA (#273334) (XD) - $29.95
  • PAUL ROSS RIESLING 2007 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#206813) (D) - $35.00

Rosé Wine:
  • SOUTHBROOK TRIOMPHE ORGANIC CABERNET FRANC ROSÉ 2011 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#279117) (D) - $19.95

  • PEDRONCELLI FOUR GRAPES VINTAGE PORT 2006 - Dry Creek Valley, California, USA (#204487) (MS) (500 mL) - $19.95
  • BURMESTER 10-YEAR-OLD TAWNY PORT - DOC Douro, Portugal (#223958) (S) - $24.95

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

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  • Date publishedSunday, November 25, 2012

Domaine du Petit Souper Bourgueil 2008 (Loire) - Wine Review

Tonight's wine to celebrate the 100th Grey Cup is a red wine that is made with Cabernet Franc - a varietal which Ontario does quite well. It was purchased way back in July of 2010 and is drinking superbly right now.

DOMAINE DU PETIT SOUPER BOURGUEIL 2008 - Cuvée La Godinière, AC, Loire, France (#169672) (XD) - $13.95

Label photo of 2008 Domaine du Petit Souper Bourgueil from Loire, France
Tasting Note:
Mix of grape-oak aromas from the cork. Elegant and complex bouquet of lilacs, earth. forest floor and blackberry. Dry and medium-full bodied with more dark fruits on palate. Has a medium-length, smooth finish with mocha notes. Refined tannins are well-integrated. Good acidity and well-balanced. It's yummy and will go really well with tonight's meal: Chicken Shawarma.

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  • Date publishedTuesday, November 20, 2012

Vieil Armand Médaille Gewurztraminer 2010 (Alsace) - Wine Review

Even though I opened this last week, I simply HAD to post and share my review for this fabulous white wine.

This wine was purchased from the latest release (Nov 10). In general, Alsace makes the best Gewurztraminer out there, and knowing that this particular version would be really good, I decided to open this last week to celebrate our Hindu New Year. Suffice to say, it went over really well with everyone.

VIEIL ARMAND MÉDAILLE GEWURZTRAMINER 2010 - AC Alsace, France (#260158) (MS) - $17.95

Label photo of 2010 Vieil Armand Médaille Gewurztraminer from Alsace, France
Tasting Note:
Gentle and inviting aromas of lychee and orange citrus. Medium-bodied with a creamy mouthfeel, the palate consists of aromas replays of lychee and orange. It's medium-sweet, but the lively acidity balances the sweetness very well. Balanced thoughout with a long finish. Delicious and a steal at this price! Highly recommended if you like wine on the sweet side. This was enjoyed with pan-fried masala Whiting fish. Score: 5 stars (out of 5)

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  • Date publishedMonday, November 19, 2012

Nov. 24 LCBO Wine Picks: Our Finest

Cover photo of November, 24 2012 LCBO Vintages Release
In the next Vintages release, the LCBO brings out "Our Finest Wines & Spirits for the Holidays" on . To me, this means expensive wines, and there are lots of them in this release. Many would impress as nice gifts for the holidays.

Of the 26 wines that are featured, we've got a few reds that I believe you will enjoy. The Elderton Shiraz is one to enjoy now or cellar for up to 10 years. The Tuscan Ornellaia is a blend of 55% Cab Sauv, 22% Merlot, 21% Cab Franc, and 2% Petit Verdot and needs at least 2 years in the cellar, and can be enjoyed up to 15 years later. If you'd like to add something to your cellar and not look at it for at least 15 years, you'll be interested in the big Napa Cabernet Sauvignon from Dunn Vineyards. Another big Napa red that needs some time in the cellar is the Joseph Phelps Insignia, albeit not as much time as the Dunn. The Insignia is mostly Cab Sauv (89%), with some Petit Verdot (7%) and Malbec (4%) and should cellared for at least 6 years, and up to 26 years. In whites, there are two fabulous Chardonnays - one by Le Clos Jordanne that's from our own backyard, and the other by Philippe Colin from Burgundy. Finally, it would be difficult to leave a Dom off this list.

From the rest of the release, the Villa Symposia is a blend consisting of 70% Syrah, 25% Carignan, 5% Grenache/Mourvèdre. From the fabulous 2010 Southern Rhône vintage is the Clos de Sixte Lirac that is made using 50% Grenache, 35% Syrah and 15% Mourvèdre. Interestingly, the Volpaia is 90% Sangioveto (aka Sangiovese) and 10% Merlot/Syrah.

Something to stock away for the first sign of spring is the off-dry Featherstone Rosé, which is almost a 50/50 split between Gamay and Cab Franc. Also, if you purchased the 2008 C.H. Berres Riesling Kabinett from the May 26 release, and still have it, then try the 2009 version. For Kabinetts, the 2008 vintage in Mosel was exceptional, while the 2009 vintage was very good. It would be interesting to taste the same wine, different vintage, side-by-side and see the differences. Enjoy!

Red Wine:
  • LOMOND SYRAH 2008 - WO Cape Agulhas, South Africa (#146464) (XD) - $18.95
  • BALLAST STONE SHIRAZ 2009 - McLaren Vale, South Australia (#167064) (D) - $18.95
  • PASCUAL TOSO RESERVE BARRACAS VINEYARDS CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2009 - Mendoza, Argentina (#083337) (XD) - $19.95
  • VILLA SYMPOSIA L’EQUILIBRE 2008 - AP Languedoc, Midi, France (#298620) (XD) - $20.95
  • DOMAINE GRAND VENEUR CLOS DE SIXTE LIRAC 2010 - AC, Rhône, France (#076349) (XD) - $22.95
  • VOLPAIA CHIANTI CLASSICO 2009 - DOCG, Tuscany, Italy (#953828) (XD) - $23.95
  • CICCHITTI EDICIÓN LIMITADA MALBEC 2008 - Mendoza, Argentina (#260893) (XD) - $24.95
  • MOUNT LANGI GHIRAN CLIFF EDGE SHIRAZ 2006 - Victoria, Australia (#287235) (XD) - $28.95
  • HARDYS HRB D641 HERITAGE RESERVE BIN SHIRAZ 2007 - McLaren Vale & Clare Valley, South Australia (#289934) (D) - $35.95 my review
  • ELDERTON COMMAND SINGLE VINEYARD SHIRAZ 2008 - Barossa, South Australia (#716142) (D) - $89.95
  • DUNN VINEYARDS HOWELL MOUNTAIN CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2008 - Napa Valley, California, USA (#193763) (XD) - $99.95
  • ORNELLAIA 2009 - DOC Bolgheri Superiore, Tuscany, Italy (#722470) (XD) - $189.95
  • JOSEPH PHELPS INSIGNIA 2008 - Napa Valley, California, USA (#710400) (D) - $224.95

White Wine:
  • C.H. BERRES ÜRZIGER WÜRZGARTEN RIESLING KABINETT 2009 - Prädikatswein, Mosel, Germany (#207274) (M) - $19.95
  • PEWSEY VALE RIESLING 2011 - Eden Valley, South Australia (#686600) (D) - $19.95
  • CATENA CHARDONNAY 2011 - Mendoza, Argentina (#918805) (XD) - $19.95
  • RODNEY STRONG RESERVE CHARDONNAY 2009 - Russian River Valley, Sonoma County, California, USA (#210039) (D) - $34.95
  • LE CLOS JORDANNE LE GRAND CLOS CHARDONNAY 2009 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Twenty Mile Bench, Ontario, Canada (#034561) (XD) - $65.00
  • PHILIPPE COLIN CHASSAGNE-MONTRACHET LES CHAUMÉES 1ER CRU 2008 - AC, Burgundy, France (#299933) (XD) - $69.95

  • KONZELMANN VIDAL ICEWINE 2009 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#167866) (S) (200 mL) - $24.95
  • HENRY OF PELHAM CABERNET ICEWINE 2011 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#672402) (S) (200 mL) - $39.95
  • STRATUS RIESLING ICEWINE 2008 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#056671) (S) (200 mL) - $39.95

  • DOM PÉRIGNON BRUT ROSÉ CHAMPAGNE 2000 - AC, France (#091777) (XD) - $299.95

  • FEATHERSTONE ROSÉ 2011 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#117861) (D) - $14.95 my review

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

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  • Date publishedSaturday, November 17, 2012

Gourmet Food and Wine Expo 2012

Gourmet Food & Wine Expo 2012
On , I attended the Gourmet Food and Wine Expo VIP Preview Night. I arrived just after the show opened at 6 p.m. and the place was buzzing with lengthy lineups for sample tickets. Once I got upstairs to the main pavilion, I noticed the first few aisles were busy, while the rest of the venue was relatively quiet. I quickly seeked and found one of the many booths to purchase sample tickets - 1 sheet of 20 tickets cost $20 - and fortunately, this line was short.

Vintages booth at Gourmet Food and Wine Expo
My first stop was the Dreissigacker booth represented by K&S Wine Imports in the Fine Wine pavilion located in the northern part of the hall. I am regretting tasting only two of the lower-end Dreissigacker Rieslings as both were outstanding wines (full detailed reviews will be posted later). I can only imagine how good their top-tier wines are! Must check out if you enjoy German Rieslings! It's a shame these aren't available at the LCBO.

The next stop was Coyote's Run, also in the Fine Wine section, to taste their new Meritage. While it was good, it definitely needs at least 2 more years before it's drinkable. By now, it was time for me to head over to the Canadian Cheese Tasting.

Canadian Cheese
This year's cheese tasting definitely seemed to have less interest than last year. Perhaps it's because they didn't serve any wine to pair with the cheese? Regardless, I had already tasted 2 of the cheeses on the menu previously. Upper Canada's Comfort Cream is a soft cheese that I tasted last month, while the Avonlea Clothbound Cheddar is a favourite of mine and was tasted back in July. The other delicious cheeses we tasted were the 14 Arpents semi-soft, and the Ménestrel firm and Aged Farmhouse firm cheeses. The final cheese tasting was the Le Rassembleu (blue cheese) and this was quite different from other blue cheeses - it was firm and had very earthy/hay/manure aromas. On the palate, the blue cheese was more traditional in flavours dominated by saltiness.

Cornerstone chilled wine lineup
Following the cheese, my mouth was feeling quite dry, so it was definitely time to whet my taste buds with some wine. Walking around, I eventually found myself at the Cornerstone Estate Winery tasting quite a few wines from their expansive lineup. In case you didn't know, Cornerstone is also home to the 2012 Winemaker of the Year - Andrzej Lipinski. His influence is definitely felt in these wines as they were all above-average. The Gewurztraminer and the Chenin Blanc were my favourite. Definitely taste the Icewines if you visit this booth!

Next, I found myself at the Trialto booth to taste a big, primarily Merlot-based '09 Bordeaux. It's very nice! I love Malbec, and the Catena version at the Trialto booth also impressed me.

Over the past year, I learned that the Georgian region is the oldest wine-producing region in the world - going back 8,000 years. I had never tasted wine from this country before, and shows like this are a great opportunity to sample wines that you might not otherwise be adventurous and purchase. Georgia is known for making sweet red and white wines. I tasted one of each Thursday night and both are quite the experience. Both were different, but the Qvevris (white wine) was definitely more pleasurable for my palate.

Back to more traditional wine for my taste buds, I found myself at a French wine booth. A couple of low-end reds from Antonin Rodet were tasted, but I was left quite underwhelmed by both offerings. By now, I felt like I needed something to nosh on to get me through the last hour or so. I wandered around and bumped into a few friendly faces. One friend told me about lobster rolls that were located just around the corner from her booth. At 5 tickets, they were expensive and a bit small. But, they were delicious! Thanks for the suggestion, Lindsay!

I wandered around some more and eventually found my way to the WineAlign booth to chat with a few colleagues and other winos. Also got to meet John Szabo. While there, it was suggested I check out Hidden Bench Vineyards & Winery. I believe this was the first time I had tasted anything from Hidden Bench and I came away with only good feelings. Their Riesling is very good, while their Terroir Cache needs more time to settle. Soon after, the announcers started telling everyone to close shop and get out, politely of course. =)

The show continues to run today and Sunday, and I hope your visit will be enjoyable as you wade through the hundreds of wines that will be poured. As mentioned earlier, full reviews of the wines I tasted will be published in a future post. Cheers!

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  • Date publishedTuesday, November 13, 2012

Falernia Reserva Syrah 2009 (Chile) - Wine Review

This very nice Syrah from Chile was purchased from the Vintages Release and was thoroughly enjoyed by all. If you're interested, this red wine is still available in the Vintages section at the LCBO.

FALERNIA RESERVA SYRAH 2009 - Elquí Valley, Chile (#208371) (XD) - $16.95

Label photo of 2009 Falernia Reserva Syrah from Elquí Valley, Chile
Tasting Note:
Intense aromas of blueberry, raspberry, vanilla and hints of coffee. Medium-bodied and fruit forward with peppercorn leading to long, smooth finish. Quite well-balanced with refined tannins. Tasty!

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  • Date publishedSunday, November 11, 2012

Rosewood Estates Tasting at The Chef's House

Rosewood Estates Winery logo
A couple of weeks ago I had the pleasure of attending the Rosewood Estates Winery Portfolio tasting hosted at The Chef's House in downtown Toronto. Rosewood is a family-operated winery and meadery based in Beamsville Bench.

Leading the Sales & Marketing for Rosewood and presenting the afternoon's event was Krystina Roman. Given Rosewood's family roots in beekeeping, everyone who works at winery is "blessed" with a bee nickname - Krystina is known as the "Social Bee". Also in attendance was then-winemaker Natalie Spytkowsky, who is doing a great job making naturally fermented table wine and mead.

I was very excited to be invited to this event as this was my very first time tasting mead (i.e. honey wine). This was also my first time tasting anything from Rosewood, and I came away quite impressed! I went into the tasting expecting mead to taste very much like Icewine, but much to my surprise, mead is not THAT sweet. It is still quite good, but is an acquired taste.

The tasting consisted of 10 mead and table wines paired with 4 tasting plates, plus a palate-cleansing mead cocktail after the 3rd tasting plate. The following are my reviews of the food & wine pairings:

Amuse Bouche: Chicken Tikka with Mango Chutney

ROSEWOOD HARVEST GOLD 2011 - Niagara Escarpment (#346767) (MD) - $15.00
Fermented and aged in stainless steel tanks. Raw, dry honey aromas. Off-dry on the palate with light floral and honey notes. Natural acidity takes over at mid-palate, while the finish is medium-long. This wine did pair well and was nicely balanced with the Chicken Tikka with Mango Chutney.

Tasting Plate #1: The Whites with White Fish Ceviche

ROSEWOOD SÉMILLON 2011 - VQA Beamsville Bench (D) - $18.00
Clean and refreshing lime with hints of citrus aromas. Very bright acidity with aroma replays on the off-dry palate. Medium-length finish. Mouth was bursting of sweet lemons when paired with the White Fish Ceviche. Score: 87-88 pts

ROSEWOOD MIMA'S BLOCK RIESLING 2011 - VQA Twenty Mile Bench (D) - $18.00
Made from the Alsatian Riesling Clone 49 varietal (rare for Ontario) and named after their late Aunt Mima. Nose a bit closed, but nice aromas of white peach, apricot and lime. Lively acidity with more peach and tart lime on the palate. Off-dry with a medium-length finish. One of my favourites of the afternoon. It paired well with the fish as the acidity really cut into the lemon in the Ceviche. Score: 88-89 pts

ROSEWOOD SÜSSRESERVE RIESLING 2010 - VQA Niagara Peninsula (MD) - $15.00
Made using the more traditional (for Ontario) Weis 21B Riesling varietal. Relatively closed nose with aromas of lime, mineral, petrol and honey. Medium-dry on the palate with lots of minerality and some petrol and honey notes. Good acidity, and very-well balanced. Finish is sweet (but not too sweet or cloying) and long. The flavours and acidity balanced really well with strong lemon flavours from the Ceviche. Score: 88 pts

Tasting Plate #2: Pinot with Crispy Fried Mushroom Arancini

ROSEWOOD PINOT NOIR RESERVE 2009 - VQA Twenty Mile Bench (XD) - $40.00
Naturally fermented. Made in an old-world style with intense aromas of smoke, red fruits, earth and cedar. Light-to-medium bodied and bright acidity with ripe red fruits, sour red cherries and beet root on the palate. Has grippy tannins and a short finish. My kind of Pinot! Score: 90 pts

ROSEWOOD PINOT NOIR RESERVE 2010 - VQA Twenty Mile Bench (XD) - $40.00
Smooth, pure red fruit aromas and lightly oaked/spice aromas & flavours. Medium-bodied palate also has forest floor and mushroom flavours. Very lively acidity and a medium-length finish. Score: 88 pts

It was a treat to taste both the '09 and '10 Pinot's side-by-side. While the 2010 was a great vintage for Niagara, I thought the 2009 expressed the varietal better - perhaps the natural fermentation of the '09 had something to do with it. The complex flavours of the '09 lent itself to be paired quite well with the Crispy Fried Mushroom Arancini.

Tasting Plate #3: Big, Bold & Beautiful with Braised Lamb Shank Tortellini

ROSEWOOD CABERNET FRANC 2010 - VQA Beamsville Bench (XD) - $22.00
Very nice and intense herbal, dark fruit and jammy aromas. Full-bodied with gobs of dark fruits on the palate. Slightly herbaceous as well. Quite well-balanced with mouth-watering acidity and integrated tannins. Very smooth and finishing long, this red wine is food-friendly, but can be enjoyed by itself as well. Yum! Score: 90 pts

ROSEWOOD MERLOT 2010 - VQA Niagara Escarpment (#211896) (XD) - $22.00
Sweet core of fruit aromas along with mulberry and hints of cocoa. Bright acidity with raspberry, cocoa on the palate. Tannins are very well-integrated and has a delicious, long finish. Score: 89 pts

ROSEWOOD MERLOT RESERVE 2010 - VQA Twenty Mile Bench (XD) - $36.00
Naturally fermented for 3-1/2 weeks, this wine has aromas of sweet vanillan, oak, and a juicy core of raspberry with very nice replays on palate. Well-integrated tannins have some grip that should reward with 1-2 years ageing. Score: 90 pts

All of three of these wines tasted great on their own, and paired really well with the Braised Lamb Shank Tortellini. The best pairing of the three was the Merlot Reserve - it was beautiful - as the tannins were cut by the gamey flavours of the lamb, bringing fruit to the fore and balancing the flavours from the dish.

Tasting Plate #4: Mead with Thunder Oak Aged Gouda

ROSEWOOD MEAD ROYALE 2008 - Select Barrel Aged (#296178) (M) (500 mL) - $15.00
Elegant springflower and honeysuckle aromas. Medium-bodied and well-balanced with honeysuckle and mead notes on palate. Nice acidity. Smooth and creamy mouthfeel on a medium-length finish. Paired well with the Thunder Oak Aged Gouda served with fresh honeycomb. This honey wine is a good introduction to mead and was released in the Nov. 10 Vintages release.

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  • Date publishedThursday, November 8, 2012

Nov. 10 Wine Picks: Holidays + Piedmont

Cover photo of November 10, 2012 LCBO Vintages Release
It's been a hectic couple of weeks, so I have to keep this short with the release just a couple of days away.

The next Vintages wine release will be in LCBO outlets on across Ontario on . The main feature in this release is on wines for the holidays, such as for festive family dinners and gift-giving. The secondary feature is on wines from Piedmont, and while nearly all of them are good-to-great, the one that stands out is the Giacosa because it is outstanding and available at a relatively decent price point.

It's safe to say that this release has been the best in months, with some very good buys across a wide range of price points. Whatever is your pleasure, I am sure you will enjoy something from my wine picks below. Cheers!

Red Wine:
  • MONTGRAS QUATRO 2011 - Colchagua Valley, Chile (#050641) (XD) - $14.95
  • VALLE LAS ACEQUIAS OAK MALBEC 2007 - Estate Don Angelino, Medrano, Mendoza, Argentina (#138412) (XD) - $15.95
  • TILENUS ENVEJECIDO EN ROBLE 2007 - DO Bierzo, Spain (#297143) (XD) - $17.95
  • PIERRE AMADIEU LA GRANGELIÈRE VACQUEYRAS 2010 - AC, Rhône, France (#076398) (XD) - $19.95
  • TOSALET OLD VINES 2009 - DOCa Priorat, Spain (#292078) (XD) - $19.95
  • ALEJANDRO FERNÁNDEZ TINTO PESQUERA CRIANZA 2009 - DO Ribera del Duero, Spain (#341461) (XD) - $26.95
  • LE CLOS JORDANNE VILLAGE RESERVE PINOT NOIR 2010 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#033894) (XD) - $30.00
  • HARTENBERG SHIRAZ 2007 - WO Stellenbosch, South Africa (#906289) (XD) - $34.95
  • GIACOSA BASARIN VIGNA GIANMATÉ BARBARESCO 2007 - DOCG, Piedmont, Italy (#291401) (XD) - $38.95
  • DOMAINE TERLATO & CHAPOUTIER LIEU DIT MALAKOFF SHIRAZ 2010 - Pyrenees, Victoria, Australia (#290874) (XD) - $51.95
  • LE VIEUX DONJON CHÂTEAUNEUF-DU-PAPE 2010 - AC, Rhône, France (#700922) (XD) - $53.95
  • JONATA TODOS RED 2008 - Santa Ynez Valley, Santa Barbara, California, USA (#218941) (D) - $59.95

White Wine:
  • VIEIL ARMAND MÉDAILLE GEWURZTRAMINER 2010 - AC Alsace, France (#260158) (MS) - $17.95
  • DOPFF & IRION VORBOURG PINOT GRIS 2009 - AC Alsace Grand Cru, France (#292227) (M) - $17.95
  • YALUMBA ORGANIC VIOGNIER 2011 - South Australia (#288217) (D) - $16.95
  • CAVE DE LA VIGNE BLANCHE MÂCON-VILLAGES 2010 - AC, Burgundy, France (#284034) (XD) - $15.95
  • LE CLOS JORDANNE VILLAGE RESERVE CHARDONNAY 2010 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#033936) (XD) - $30.00

Sparkling Wine:
  • CAVE DE LUGNY BRUT ROSÉ CRÉMANT DE BOURGOGNE - AC, Burgundy, France (#297846) (D) - $16.95
  • MOËT & CHANDON GRAND VINTAGE BRUT ROSÉ CHAMPAGNE 2002 - AC, France (#069831) (XD) - $87.95

Honey Wine:
  • ROSEWOOD MEAD ROYALE HONEY WINE 2008 - Select Barrel Aged, Ontario, Canada (#296178) (M) (500 mL) - $14.95

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

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  • Date publishedSunday, October 28, 2012

Château de Galifay Cairanne 2010 (France) - Wine Review

This red wine is from the fabulous 2010 Southern Rhône vintage and consists of approx. 90% Grenache and 10% Syrah. It was purchased from the Sept. 1 Vintages release.

CHÂTEAU DE GALIFAY CAIRANNE CÔTES DU RHÔNE-VILLAGES 2010 - AC, Rhône, France (#290080) (XD) - $17.00

Label photo of 2010 Château de Galifay Cairanne from Rhône, France
Tasting Note:
Plum and cherry wood aromas from cork. Very nice lavender, violet and toasty wood and licorice aromas. Medium-bodied with nicely integrated tannins. Sweet dark fruit flavours on the palate with some spice kicking in midway, leading to a smooth, herbal-note, medium-length finish. Very good acidity. An easy drinking red with some substance. Delicious. Going to enjoy this with lamb chops.

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  • Date publishedFriday, October 26, 2012

Oct. 10 - Cheese & Wine Tasting with Natalie MacLean

On the evening of , I had the pleasure of tasting some fabulous Canadian cheeses and pairing them with Ontario wine. Hosted by Natalie MacLean on Google+ Hangouts, I was joined by 9 others where we discussed the various cheeses and wines. Here is the video recording:

Details of the cheese, wine and participants can be found here.

Here are my impressions of the wines, as well as pairings with each cheese:

JACKSON-TRIGGS RESERVE MERLOT 2010 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario (#618421) (D) - $13.95
Screw top. Light earthy, currant and red fruit and some smoke aromas from the glass. Medium-bodied and dry with red fruit, raspberry on the palate leads to peppery, medium-length finish with hints of dark chocolate.

Paired really well with the Madagascar Green Peppercorn as the pepper flavours in the cheese really bring out the pepper/spice notes in the Merlot, without being overwhelming. There is good balance and mouthfeel with the Alpindon as the cheese really softens and coats the pepper notes. The Comfort Cream camembert is also a good pairing. The Onion Cheddar really mixes and mingles nicely with the pepper/herbal/vegetal notes in the Merlot - good pairing. The Elizabeth Bleu and the 1608 overpowers this mild red.

JACKSON-TRIGGS RESERVE SAUVIGNON BLANC 2011 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario (#618413) (D) - $13.95
Screw top. Clean, refreshing lime gooseberry, and herbal aromas give way slight earthiness. Light-bodied with replays of lime, gooseberry, and grass on palate. Has a very fine acidic backbone, medium finish that is a touch hot.

The Alpindon softens the wine acidity and makes the pairing quite delicious. As well, the Green Peppercorn really brings out the herbal/vegetal notes in the wine and makes for an excellent pairing. Average pairing with the Camembert. The Onion cheddar is a bit strong for this Savvy. The 1608 dominates, while the flavours from the Elizabeth Bleu don't mesh.

OPEN CHARDONNAY 2011 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario (#305151) (M) - $11.95
Screw top. Almost no nose, some floral, melon aromas. Very faint honeysuckle, peach, melon on the palate. Medium-bodied with little acidity. Finishes with some spiciness. In a blind tasting, I would have trouble identifying this wine as a Chardonnay.

The sweetness level of this wine allows it to be paired with the 1608 and the Onion cheddar, but not quite enough for the Green Peppercorn or the Alpindon. It pairs well with the Camembert, but is completely killed by the Elizabeth Bleu.

OPEN CAB2-MERLOT 2010 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario (#134957) (D) - $11.95
Screw top. Funky crushed red berry aromas, plus some vanilla, coconut and oak aromas. Medium-bodied, round mouthfeel with little acidity. Flavours of raspberry, coconut, vanilla and hints of oak spice. Mostly well-integrated tannins are slightly chalky. Finish is medium. Easy drinking red.

The easy-drinking nature of this wine lends itself to the Camembert and Alpindon, while the 1608 (with rind) is a bit strong for this Cab-Merlot. The Onion cheddar mutes the wines flavours, while the Green Peppercorn brings out the vanilla oak spice notes from the wine. The Elizabeth Bleu pairing really doesn't do well.

INNISKILLIN PINOT NOIR 2011 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario (#261099) (D) - $13.95
Red currant, iodine and smoke aromas. Light-to-medium bodied with currant, pomegranate, cranberry on the palate. Some plummy notes on the mid-palate, hints of raisin. Very good acidity with a medium finish. Chalky tannins need a couple of years, but easy drinking right now.

Again, an easy-drinking red that pairs well with the Camembert and the Alpindon. The 1608 and Onion cheddar dominate the flavour profile. Lots of spicy flavours when pairing this Pinot with the Green Peppercorn.


INNISKILLIN VIDAL SPARKLING ICEWINE 2011 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario (#560367) (S) - $79.95
Gorgeous peach, apricot and honey aromas with lots of aromas replays on palate dominated by honey. Medium-bodied with good acidity. Silky smooth, creamy mousse on the medium-long finish. In a word: WOW!

Lacking the acidity and finish to pair with the Camembert. Good pairing with the Alpindon, while the pairings with the 1608 and Green Peppercorn start well, but finish with the cheese flavours dominating the palate. This Vidal holds it own quite well against the Onion cheddar. The Elizabeth Bleu is a match made in heaven

JACKSON-TRIGGS RESERVE CHARDONNAY 2011 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario (#526251) (D) - $11.95
Screw top. Pear, orchard fruits and hints of barnyard from the glass. Medium-bodied with flavours of beeswax and pear. Dry. Well-balanced with bright acidity. Finish is long with spiced oak flavours and hints of vanilla.

This white wine brings out some earthy/mushroom flavours in the Camembert. A magic pairing with the Alpindon, nicely balanced and meshed. Pairs well with the 1608 until the wine leaves your mouth and you get a burst of flavour from the cheese. The Onion cheddar dominates the wine, while the Chardonnay does hold its own for a while with strong pepper/spice notes against the Green Peppercorn. The Elizabeth Bleu doesn't pair well.

JACKSON-TRIGGS RESERVE RIESLING 2011 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario (#526277) (M) - $11.45
Screw top. Mineral, floral apricot and honey aromas. Light-bodied with crisp mineral and lime on the palate. It's on the sweeter side, with good acidity, but has slight tart notes at the mid-palate and a short, supple finish. Would make a good apertif.

Average pairing with the Camembert and the Alpindon. The wine pairing with the 1608 was pleasant. The sweetness from this wine did subdue the onion from the Onion Cheddar. Really did not enjoy the pairing with the Green Peppercorn and the Elizabeth Bleu.

LE CLOS JORDANNE VILLAGE RESERVE CHARDONNAY 2009 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario (#033936) (XD) - $30.00
Spring flower aromas from the cork. Silky aromas of buttered popcorn and French oak, with hints of vanilla. Also an intriguing sesame note. Creamy mouthfeel with refreshing acidity and extra dry flavours of minerality, oak and lemon rind. Very smooth with a lasting finish that goes on and on...

This Chardonnay glides smoothly over the Camembert and the Alpindon. However, once the Chardonnay leaves your mouth, there is a blast of flavour from the Alpindon - not bad. Nicely balanced pairing with the 1608. Also enjoyable was the Onion cheddar and Green Peppercorn, however, the Green Peppercorn flavours do last must longer than the wine. The pairing with the Elizabeth Bleu is not bad, but I would be hesitant to praise it, as it's a little harsh.

Wine lineup for #CdnCheese tasting

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  • Date publishedMonday, October 22, 2012

Oct. 27 LCBO Wine Picks: 2009 Bordeaux

Cover photo of October 27, 2012 LCBO Vintages Wine Magazine
The next Vintages release will be in LCBO outlets across Ontario on . The main feature in this release is on the critically-acclaimed 2009 Bordeaux vintage - once hailed as the "Vintage of the Century".

However, looking at the 16 red Bordeaux wines in this release, I was a little underwhelmed with the offerings - I was expecting greatness! I was more impressed with the two white Bordeauxs. The Château Toumilon - made using 60% Semillion and 40% Sauvignon Blanc, and the Château de Cruzeau - which is 100% Sauvignon Blanc are both outstanding. Among the reds, the Lestruelle is a good introduction to the vintage, consisting of 85% Merlot and 15% Cabernet Sauvignon, while the Château Sénéjac is (likely) a blend of mostly Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, with small amounts of Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot.

The secondary feature in this release is on small, boutique wineries from California. Not surprisingly, they all come in at rather high price points. If money is no object, grab a few bottles of the Juslyn Spring Mountain Cab Sauv and open one every 5 years.

From the rest of the release, the Hecht & Bannier Minervois consists of mostly Syrah, some Grenache, and drops of Carignan. The Fattoi is, of course, 100% Sangiovese.

Among my white wine picks, the Simonnet-Febvre is, of course, 100% Chardonnay. Also, consider getting both the Preiss-Zimmer and the Dr. Loosen Rieslings and taste them side-by-side. Both are similar in sweetness levels, as the German wine is just off-dry (unusual for Mosel Rieslings) and would allow for a good comparison between these two fine Riesling wine regions.

Enjoy my picks for this week! Cheers!

Red Wine:
  • CHÂTEAU LESTRUELLE 2009 - AC Médoc, Bordeaux, France (#295840) (XD) - $18.95
  • TRAPICHE FINCAS LAS PALMAS MALBEC 2007 - Uco Valley, Mendoza, Argentina (#186668) (XD) - $17.95
  • CANEPA FINÍSIMO GRAN RESERVA CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2009 - Marchigüe, Colchagua Valley, Chile (#211920) (XD) - $17.95
  • HECHT & BANNIER MINERVOIS 2010 - AC, Midi, France (#017764) (XD) - $19.95
  • GRA² GRACIANO 2010 - DOCa Rioja, Spain (#190819) (XD) - $16.95
  • CHÂTEAU SÉNÉJAC 2009 - AC Haut-Médoc, Bordeaux, France (#193177) (XD) - $28.85
  • FATTOI BRUNELLO DI MONTALCINO 2007 - DOCG, Tuscany, Italy (#033498) (XD) - $34.95
  • JUSLYN SPRING MOUNTAIN CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2007 - Napa Valley, California, USA (#289868) (XD) - $139.95

White Wine:
  • PREISS-ZIMMER VIEILLES VIGNES RIESLING 2008 - AC Alsace, France (#292193) (D) - $18.95
  • SIMONNET-FEBVRE CHABLIS 2010 - AC, Burgundy, France (#041780) (XD) - $19.95
  • CHÂTEAU TOUMILON BLANC 2009 - AC Graves, Bordeaux, France (#314864) (XD) - $16.95
  • DR. LOOSEN RED SLATE RIESLING DRY 2011 - Qualitätswein, Mosel, Germany (#295923) (D) - $19.95
  • MIKE WEIR SAUVIGNON BLANC 2010 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#686972) (XD) - $14.95
  • CHÂTEAU DE CRUZEAU BLANC 2009 - AC Pessac-Léognan, Bordeaux, France (#966010) (XD) - $27.95

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

  • Date publishedSunday, October 21, 2012

Wine Reviews - 2012 Niagara Wine Festival

Here are my wine reviews from my recent visit to the Niagara Peninsula for the 2012 Niagara Grape & Wine Festival.

As usual, I tasted some very tasty and exciting wines. Some of the highlights were Fielding's Chosen Few, Vineland's St. Urban Elevation, nearly everything from Niagara College Teaching Winery, Featherstone's 2011 Cab Franc and Onyx, and Tawse's Chardonnays and Cab Franc Icewine. Some of these wines can be found at the LCBO, while the rest can be ordered online from the winery's website or by visiting the winery.

FIELDING CABERNET-SYRAH 2010 - VQA Niagara Peninsula (#258657) (XD) - $24.95
Aromas of smoke and ripe blackberries with nice replays on the palate. Some spiciness on the medium-long finish. Mouth-watering acidity. Tannins integrating nicely, but could use another year or so in bottle. Score: 88 pts

FIELDING ESTATE BOTTLED RIESLING 2011 - VQA Niagara Peninsula (#251439) (D) - $18.95
Very lovely aromas of floral, lemon drops and citrus. Aroma replays on palate that also feature some intriguing honey notes. Very good acidity, quite well-balanced and finishes crisp. Score: 89 pts

FIELDING LOT NO. 17 RIESLING 2011 - VQA Niagara Peninsula (#203521) (D) - $25.95
Soft, clean aromas of citrus, lime, mango, mineral and florals, with more of the same on the juicy, sweet fruit, and vibrant palate. Well-balanced with bracing acidity and a long finish. Tasty! Score: 89+ pts

FIELDING CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2007 - VQA Niagara Peninsula (#) (XD) - $44.95
Lots of cassis and smoked cedar, with some hints of mint aromas. Full-bodied with big, chalky tannins. Cassis and cedar flavours on the long finish. Still seems young and needs a couple of years for tannins to settle. Score: 88-89 pts

FIELDING CHOSEN FEW 2007 - VQA Niagara Peninsula (#) (XD) - $59.95
Cabernet Sauvignon 45%, Merlot 41%, and Syrah 14%. Intense aromas of currant, black fruits and some oak. Medium-full bodied with savoury ripe fruits, currants and spice on the palate. Long finish. Approachable now, but will reward with further 2 years ageing. Score: 90 pts

VINELAND ESTATES CHARDONNAY MUSQUÉ 2008 - VQA Niagara Escarpment (#996793) (D) - $17.95
Fresh and aromatic with intriguing honey, lime and citrus aromas. Medium-bodied with peach, citrus, lime and hints of spice on the palate. Medium-long finish is a touch hot. Paired well with the Comox Brie. Score: 88 pts

VINELAND ESTATES ST. URBAN ELEVATION RIESLING 2011 - VQA Niagara Escarpment (#038117) (M) - $19.95
Mineral and petrol aromas with hints of peach and apricot. Bracing acidity on the palate with flavours of peach and honey, finishing with tart minerality. Quite well-balanced and paired very well with the Aged Lankaaster. Score: 89 pts

VINELAND ESTATES ELEVATION CABERNET 2009 - VQA Niagara Escarpment (#173609) (D) - $25.00
94% Cab Franc, 6% Cab Sauv. Lots of oak, smoke, currant and dark fruit aromas with replays on the palate. A simple, balanced-wine with good acidity. Pairing was average with the Réserve La Pérade. Score: 87 pts

VINELAND ESTATES ELEVATION CABERNET 2010 - VQA Niagara Escarpment (#173609) (D) - $25.00
65% Cab Franc, 33% Cab Sauv and 2% Merlot. Red fruit and restrained oak aromas. Full bodied and well-balanced with integrated tannins. Red fruit and cedar flavour profile on long finish. Score: 88 pts

VINELAND ESTATES ELEVATION CHARDONNAY 2011 - VQA Niagara Escarpment (#164459) (XD) - $20.75
Clean intense lime aromas. Well-balanced and refreshing on the palate with more lime and mineral flavours. Long finish. Serve well-chilled. Score: 89 pts

88% Cab Franc, 10% Cab Sauv and 2% Merlot. Intense oak and dark fruit aromas. Full-bodied with integrated oak and dark fruit flavours on the palate. Approachable now, but another year in cellar would benefit. Score: 88 pts

NIAGARA COLLEGE TEACHING WINERY (NCT) DEAN'S LIST CHARDONNAY 2009 - Donald Ziraldo, St. David's Bench, VQA Niagara Peninsula (#) (D) - $27.95
Very long nose with butter and apple aromatics joined by some tropical fruits. Begins very smooth with aromas replays on the palate, long finish is a bit spicy. Enjoyable! Score: 90 pts

NCT DEAN'S LIST CABERNET FRANC 2009 - VQA Niagara Peninsula (#) (XD) - $27.95
Inaugural vintage? Jammy red fruits, cranberry and some wood smoke and plum aromas. Full bodied and quite smooth with red fruit and plum on the palate. Ripe tannins. Well-made. Score: 88 pts

NCT DEAN'S LIST MERITAGE 2007 - VQA Ontario (#) (XD) - $47.95
Black currant and cedar oak aromas. On the palate, there is blackberry and cassis. Combination of American, Canadian and French oak is well-integrated. Ripe tannins are refined and elegant. Finish is smooth and long. Drinking great right now! Score: 91 pts

NCT DEAN'S LIST SAVANT ICEWINE 2009 - (S) (200 mL) - $37.95
Gorgeous sweet apple cider, peach and orange aromas. Medium-bodied with a very good backbone of acidity that balances sweetness extremely well. Flavours of peach, apple cider and orange shine through on the palate, finishing long. Wow. Score: 91-92 pts

Blackcurrant, cassis, plum and hints of vanilla aromas. Medium-bodied with dark fruits and spice on the palate. Mouthfeel is soft and round, with integrated tannins. Short-to medium finish. Score: 87 pts

PILLITTERI PINOT GRIGIO 2011 - VQA Niagara Peninsula (#146787) (XD) - $14.95
Mostly citrus and lime aromas, with hints of floral and peach. Bone dry with high acidity. Lime and floral notes on the palate. It paired well with the 1-year-old cheddar. Score: 86 pts

JACKSON-TRIGGS BLACK SERIES GEWÜRZTRAMINER 2010 - VQA Niagara Peninsula (#526269) (D) - $12.95
Gorgeous floral and clean lime aromas, also some lychee notes. Dry on the palate with lime and lychee flavours. Some spiciness on the mid-palate, and a nice finish. Easy drinking. Would make a good apertif. Score: 88 pts

HERNDER CABERNET FRANC 2010 - VQA (#) (XD) - $18.95
Copious amounts of oak, cedar and vanilla aromas. On the palate, there is raspberry and red currant flavours. Good acidity and has a short finish. Score: 83 pts

FEATHERSTONE ROSÉ 2011 - VQA Niagara Peninsula (#117861) (D) - $14.95
Blend of 60% Gamay and 40% Cab Franc. Fruity red fruits, cranberry, and candied fruit aromas. Bracing acidity and dry with candied cherries and strawberries on the palate. Finish is a touch hot. Would make a great apertif. Score: 87 pts

FEATHERSTONE GAMAY 2010 - VQA Twenty Mile Bench (#) (XD) - $19.95
Aged in French oak, this wine features woody aromas of cedar and cran-cherry with replays on the palate. Tannins are well-integrated. A simple, easy-drinking, well-balanced, extra-dry red wine. Score: 88 pts

FEATHERSTONE PINOT NOIR 2008 - VQA Twenty Mile Bench (#) (XD) - $24.95
Very earthy with mushroom and forest floor aromas. Light-bodied and made in a cool-climate style with sourcherry, beet root notes on the palate. Mouth-watering acidity. Ripe fruit with slightly chalky tannins that are integrating nicely. Score: 87 pts

FEATHERSTONE CABERNET FRANC 2011 - VQA Niagara Peninsula (#64618) (XD) - $16.95
Bottled just two days prior to my tasting. Intense oak and cedar aromas with some raspberry and dark fruits in the background. Has good fruit, structure and acidity, but still very tight and grippy. Tannins will settle very nicely in a couple of years. Has potential to be better than 2010. Score: 90+ pts

FEATHERSTONE ONYX 2010 - VQA Niagara Peninsula (#) (XD) - $29.95
The 20 best barrels blended with 60% Cabernet Franc and 40% Merlot aged in French oak make up this wine. Lush red fruits and kirsch aromas. Medium-bodied and very smooth with red fruits on the palate. Finely-grained tannins and a long finish. A delight! Score: 90 pts

TAWSE SKETCHES OF NIAGARA CHARDONNAY 2010 - VQA Niagara Peninsula (#089037) (XD) - $19.95
Intense apple, pear, butter and peach aromas with replays on the palate. Extra dry wine that is medium-bodied and very smooth, with a lengthy finish. Nice!! Score: 90 pts

TAWSE SKETCHES OF NIAGARA RIESLING 2010 - VQA Niagara Peninsula (#089029) (D) - $17.95
Apricot/peach, petrol with some zesty orange aromas. Nice aroma replays on palate, but with some slight tartness on the finish. Lip-smacking acidity. Score: 90 pts. Here was my review from Nov. 2011.

TAWSE ECHOS CABERNET MERLOT 2010 - Niagara Peninsula (XD)
48% Cab Sauv, 35% Cab Franc and 18% Merlot and normally only available at restaurants. Very ripe dark red fruit along with sweet vanillan aromas. More dark fruits on the palate. It's quite smooth and balanced, long finish. Score: 88 pts

TAWSE SKETCHES OF NIAGARA ROSÉ 2011 - VQA Niagara (#172643) (D) - $15.95
A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Gamay. Candied strawberry and cherry aromas. Ripe, juicy fruit and slightly off-dry with strawberry and cherry on the palate. Really good acidity and with a nice finish. Score: 87 pts

TAWSE QUARRY ROAD CHARDONNAY 2010 - VQA Vinemount Ridge (#111989) (XD) - $34.95
Apple and butter aromas with lots of minerality shining through. On the palate there is more minerality with citrus notes and lively acidity at mid-palate. Oak is very well integrated. Score: 91 pts

TAWSE CABERNET FRANC ICEWINE 2010 - VQA Niagara Peninsula (#306035) (S) (200 mL) - $34.95
Intense aromas of candied strawberry, cherry and floral aromas. Lush mouthfeel with ripe strawberry and cherry replays on the palate. Overall, it's very well-balanced by mouth-watering acidity. Lovely! Score: 91 pts

GREENLANE PINOT GRIGIO 2011 - VQA Lincoln Lakeshore (#) (XD) - $16.95
Clean, refreshing lime aromas.Mineral, lemon-lime and hints of citrus with a zing. Focused acidity with a finish that is a touch spicy and hot. Score: 86 pts

GREENLANE ESTATE RIESLING 2011 - VQA Lincoln Lakeshore (#327247) (D) - $21.95
Clean lime and petrol aromas with hints of citrus. Aroma replays on palate with bright acidity that's a bit bumpy. Some tartness on the medium-length finish. Score: 87 pts

GREENLANE ROSÉ 2011 - VQA Niagara Peninsula (#326181) (XD) - $15.95
Straight up ripe strawberry aromas and flavours. Some sweetness is quickly balanced by the lively acidity to finish extra dry. Also has a hot finish. Score: 86 pts

GREENLANE UNOAKED CHARDONNAY 2011 - VQA Lincoln Lakeshore (#329409) (XD) - $17.96
Very minerally with refreshing lime and pear aromas. On the palate there are citrus, peach and melon notes. Finish is hot, while the fruit needs some time to settle. Lay it down for 1 year. Score: 86-87 pts

GREENLANE ICEWINE RIESLING 2008 - VQA Niagara Peninsula (#) (S) (200 mL) - $29.95
Lovely apricot, peach and honey aromas. Very fine seam of acidity and aromas replays on the palate. Well-balanced until the finish, where fruit is starting to fade. Drink now. Score: 89 pts. Also tasted January 2012.

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  • Date publishedFriday, October 12, 2012

Niagara Wine Festival 2012 - A Review

During the last weekend of September, I had the pleasure of visiting the Niagara Peninsula for the 61st Annual Grape and Wine Festival that celebrated this year's vintage harvest. This was my first time attending the big harvest festival in about 8 years, so I was excited to see what's changed during my absence.

Discovery Pass in hand, we started off at Fielding Estate Winery for a smoked tomato & Niagara Gold grilled cheese prepared by August Restaurant. This was paired beautifully with Fielding's 2010 Cabernet Syrah, as the smoky flavours from the wine held up well against the somewhat strong flavours from the Niagara Gold (cheese) and smoked tomato. The live guitar performance definitely added some great ambiance under the outdoor tent.

Up next was a traditional wine & cheese tasting at Vineland Estates Winery. First up was the very soft and delicious Comox Brie (British Columbia) that paired very nicely with the sweet flavours from the 2008 Chardonnay Musqué. The second pairing was the firm, Aged Lankaaster (Ontario) that also paired quite well with the 2011 St. Urban Elevation Riesling. The third and final pairing was the firm Réserve La Pérade (Québec) washed rind cheese with the 2009 Elevation Cabernet. It was a balanced pairing with strong flavours coming from both the rind and wine.

Our Group

Our third stop of the afternoon was at Niagara College Teaching Winery. I was very excited about this visit as I had heard many good things, but never had the pleasure of visiting or tasting any of their wines. Led by Chris from NCT, we took in a tour of the winery and facilities - which I highly recommend as you will learn quite a bit - and followed that up with a structured tasting of a few of their Dean's List wines and some delicious Ice Syrup! I can't wait to post a review of these wines - look out for them shortly.

Structured tasting at Niagara College Teaching Winery

The final stop on Saturday was Montebello Park in St. Catharines and, while we didn't stay long, we did get a chance to taste a few wines and sample some food. The park was buzzing and quite crowded (much more so than I expected) and queues for some popular food items moved slowly while stretching back 15 people. However, patrons were enjoying themselves as they listened to 60's and 70's classics while sipping wine, as the evening cooled under cloudy skies.

On Sunday, we began our Discovery Pass Experience in Niagara-on-the-Lake at Pillitteri Estates Winery with a very generously-portioned grilled cheese sandwich made with sweet onion and 1-year-old white cheddar. Their 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon complemented the grilled cheese well, but a smaller/thinner sandwich bun would have worked better to bring out the cheese. What happened to the "shredding of 4 unconventional cheeses"?

Shrimp "Po Boy" at Jackson-Triggs
Off we go to Jackson-Triggs Niagara Estate Winery for a pairing of their 2010 Gewürztraminer Reserve with a Black Tiger Shrimp "Po Boy". Excellent presentation. A satisfying pairing that could have been outstanding if the shrimp was spicier to better balance the off-dry flavours from the wine. Warm bread would have been a nice touch.

The next stop was Hernder Estate Wines in Twenty Valley for some turkey bites - I didn't enjoy it. On the bright side, we did leave with Icewine Slushies, which made the stop completely worthwhile!

Cabernet Sauvignon at GreenLane
Since we were making good time, we made an unplanned stop at Featherstone Estate Winery to see if any of the sheep labourers were around and perhaps take a tour. Instead, we ended up doing a few tastings, including the just-released 2011 Cabernet Franc, which looks like it's going to be REALLY good! I enjoyed their 2008 earlier this summer, and the 2010 was one of my top picks from the Sept. 15 Vintages release. I also had the pleasure of meeting The Grande Fromage: Louise Engel - a very sweet lady and a pleasure to talk to.

Our next stop was GreenLane Estate Winery for some hearty gourmet pizzas, where the base was made of fluffy pastry dough. Really delicious and paired well with their 2011 Pinot Grigio. The pizza on pastry dough was a great idea that was executed well, and I'm sure will be replicated at our home one of these days.

The final stop of our wine tour this weekend was Tawse Winery for traditional cheese and wine pairings. All 3 pairings of cheese and wine were great. However, my attention veered towards the wines - as all 3 were extremely yummy - with the 2010 Sketches of Niagara Chardonnay being my favourite!

Detailed reviews of wines tasted are here.

Overall, I was quite satisfied with our visit to Niagara and believe our group enjoyed themselves too! Thank you to everyone that attended! We look forward to having you join us in January 2013 for the Icewine Festival (2012 review here).

View the tour photo gallery.

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