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  • Date publishedTuesday, February 28, 2012

Hinterbrook Riesling 2010 (Niagara) - Wine Review

Purchased this white wine from the 'Smart Buys' release back in January. This Riesling is made in an off-dry style and is definitely a smart buy if you like wines on the sweet side.

HINTERBROOK RIESLING 2010 - VQA Niagara Lakeshore, Ontario, Canada (#270512) (MD) - $17.95

Photo of 2010 Hinterbrook Riesling
Tasting Note:
Screw-top. Aromas: tropical fruit, lemon citrus, stone fruits, mineral and petrol. Tropical fruit, lemon-citrus, slightly tangy on the palate. Finishes with honey and some mineral notes. Deliciously medium-dry. Very good wine to sip on its own or pair with mild-cheeses.

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  • Date publishedMonday, February 27, 2012

Mar. 3 Wine Picks: Made in France + Carmenère

Cover of March 3, 2012 LCBO Vintages magazine.
The next LCBO Vintages release is on and there are lots of great buys. I am big fan of French wines, and the major feature in this release focuses on 13 benchmark-setting grapes from wines Made in France.

Of the French wines that made my list, the Moulin-à-Vent is made using the Gamay grape, which you see quite commonly planted here in Ontario, but is actually not planted widely anywhere else. The Crozes-Hermitage is a fabulous Rhône-style Syrah (a.k.a Shiraz), while the Vacqueyras is a blend of mostly Grenache and some Syrah.

The secondary wine feature of this release is on a grape varietal that is a favourite of mine - Carmenère. Chile does this grape better than anyone else and two wines emerged from this release that are worth tasting: Concha y Toro Terrunyo Block 27 Carmenère 2008 (#562892, $29.95) and the Misiones de Rengo Gran Reserva Cuvée Carmenère 2010 (#264937, $19.95).

Also featured in this release, and just in time for , are a selection of fine Irish Whiskies which you can peruse at your leisure from the magazine here. Enjoy my picks for this week!

Red Wine:
  • DELAS FRÈRES LES LAUNES CROZES-HERMITAGE 2009 - AC, Rhône, France (#701359) (XD) - $20.95
  • DOMAINE DES AILES MOULIN-À-VENT 2010 - AC, Beaujolais, France (#183442) (XD) - $16.95
  • PERRIN & FILS LES CHRISTINS VACQUEYRAS 2009 - AC, Rhône, France (#973453) (XD) - $23.95
  • CHÂTEAU LA BRIE PRESTIGE 2009 - AC Bergerac, Southwest, France (#061994) (XD) - $13.95
  • THE WATCHER SHIRAZ 2008 - Barossa Valley, South Australia (#219196) (XD) - $19.95
  • THE GRINDER PINOTAGE 2010 - WO Swartland, South Africa (#269076) (XD) - $14.95

White Wine:
  • JOSEPH CATTIN HATSCHBOURG PINOT GRIS 2009 - AC Alsace Grand Cru, France (#260240) (M) - $19.95
  • CHÂTEAU PERRON BLANC 2009 - AC Graves, Bordeaux, France (#226126) (XD) - $17.95
  • GRAY MONK RIESLING 2009 - VQA Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, Canada (#273466) (D) - $18.95
  • STONEY RIDGE WARREN CLASSIC CHARDONNAY 2009 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#224113) (XD) - $16.95

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  • Date publishedSaturday, February 25, 2012

Concha y Toro Winemaker's Lot 54 Syrah 2008 (Chile) - Wine Review

Tonight's red wine was purchased from the October 29 Vintages release and opened tonight with the idea that it would still evolve and taste pretty good on the second day. Why the second day? Because the food pairing on Sunday night will match better than what's on the menu tonight, coupled with the fact that I haven't had a sip of wine since Tuesday. :)

CONCHA Y TORO WINEMAKER’S LOT 54 SYRAH 2008 - Los Brujos Vineyard, San Javier Valley, Maule Valley, Chile (#227496) (XD) - $16.95

Concha y Toro Winemakers Lot 54 Syrah 2008
Tasting Note:
Aromas of mulberry and black pepper from cork. Ripe blackberry, pepper, earth, bacon and touch of mocha aromas in the glass. Mulberry, ripe red fruits on the palate. Full-bodied. Alcohol comes to fore at mid-palate of long finish. Ripe tannins. Will reward ageing another 2-3 years, but definitely enjoyable now.

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  • Date publishedSaturday, February 18, 2012

Belje Grasevina 2009 (Croatia) - Wine Review

To celebrate my birthday weekend, I wanted to remind myself that even though I am a year older, it's important to continue to try new things - wine-related or not. Life is too short!

As such, I've chosen an off-dry white wine that originates from Croatia. This will be my first time trying a white wine from Croatia - looking through my database I see that I did taste a red from Croatia back in !

Made using an ancient variety of white grape called 'Grasevina' - which is also known as Welschriesling in Austria and not related to Rhine Riesling - this varietal is notably found in Hungary, Croatia, Austria and Czech Republic. This wine was purchased from the .

BELJE GRAŠEVINA 2009 - Suho Vrhunsko, Croatia (#264200) (D) - $16.95

Bottle photo of 2009 Belje Grasevina 2009, Croatia

Tasting Note:
Cork smells fresh and infused with sweet syrup. Water cress, wet grass, green apple, and touch of sweet citrus aromas. Buttered popcorn, toffee, dried apricots and some lychee. Weighty white with floral notes on the long finish. Different and yummy. This would go well with a mild cheddar.

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  • Date publishedMonday, February 13, 2012

Feb. 18 Wine Picks: Customer Favourites + Tasting Terroir + Kosher Wines

Feb. 18 LCBO Vintages magazine
The next Vintages release is nearly upon us and will be in LCBO outlets across Ontario on . The main feature of this release is "22 Customer Favourites" and is quite self-explanatory. I honestly didn't find anything too exciting in this part of the magazine and, so, moved to the sub-feature titled "Tasting Terroir".

The Bachelder series of Chardonnays from 3 different terroirs - Niagara, Oregon, Bourgogne offer a very interesting opportunity to taste the same varietal from 3 different parts of the world crafted by same winemaker, from the same vintage. Each one costs $34.95 - buy all 3 and taste the difference!

White wines in this release impressed me more than the reds. The two that stood out for me were the Mike Weir Riesling and the Tawse Chardonnay, both locally made. Among the red wines is another locally made wine - the Creekside Laura's Red, made using the classic Bordeaux-style blend of Cab Sauv, Cab Franc, Merlot, Malbec and Petit Verdot.

I enjoy trying single vineyard wines because terroir plays such an influential role at the vineyard. As such, the Single Vineyard Chardonnay and Malbec from Xumek (Argentina) are both very interesting wines to try.

In this issue, there's also a premium selection of Kosher-certified certified wines for Purim and Passover. Enjoy my picks for this week!

Red Wine:
  • XUMEK SINGLE VINEYARD MALBEC 2009 - Zonda Valley, San Juan, Argentina (#265215) (XD) - $15.95
  • CREEKSIDE LAURA’S RED 2007 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#117960) (XD) - $19.95
  • DOMAINES DAMIENS TRADITION MADIRAN 2009 - AC, Southwest, France (#268482) (D) - $16.95
  • SARONSBERG ART SPACE SHIRAZ/MOURVÈDRE 2009 - WO Coastal Region, South Africa (#263590) (XD) - $14.95

White Wine:
  • MIKE WEIR RIESLING 2008 - VQA Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada (#229286) (MD) - $14.95
  • XUMEK SINGLE VINEYARD CHARDONNAY 2010 - Zonda Valley, San Juan, Argentina (#265231) (XD) - $15.95
  • TAWSE SKETCHES OF NIAGARA CHARDONNAY 2009 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#089037) (XD) - $19.95
  • VALMIÑOR ALBARIÑO 2010 - O’Rosal, DO Rias Baixas, Spain (#266924) (XD) - $15.95

Sparkling Wine:

Full list of wines from the February 18th Vintages release can be found here.

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  • Date publishedSunday, February 12, 2012

Red Knot Shiraz 2008 (Australia) - Wine Review

Received this one last November and was surprised to see the unique cap. Very interesting top with a string-like wrap that you peel off before you simply pull out the re-sealable plastic cork. I've never seen a cap like this!

RED KNOT SHIRAZ 2008 - South Australia, Australia (#619395) - $15.95 (on sale now)

Red Knot Shiraz capRed Knot Shiraz 2008

Tasting Note:
Interesting resin cork. Ripe raspberry, herbal spice aromas. Straightforward and uncomplicated Shiraz with gobs of red berries, along with cedar oak flavours. Chewy, ripe tannins. Medium-bodied. Good, easy-drinking AU Shiraz that I'll be enjoying with chicken meatballs in masala curry sauce.

  • Date publishedThursday, February 9, 2012

Wine Reviews from 2012 Niagara Icewine Festival

During the 2012 Niagara Icewine Festival, I had the opportunity to taste many wines. Most of them were (obviously) sweet, but I was able to taste a few dry table red wines and white wines. Below, you will find  tasting notes of some of the wines I tasted.

The best Icewine of the bunch was, by far, the Chateau des Charmes Riesling Icewine. Among dry wines, I look forward to getting my hands on the Legends Estate Shiraz and serving with goat curry. I'm also looking forward to the GreenLane Cabernet Sauvignon, when it's ready.

CHÂTEAU DES CHARMES ALIGOTÉ 2009 - Estate Btld, VQA (#284950) (XD) - $10.65
Crisp apple, floral, grassy. A tinge of butter. Light, easy drinking white wine reminds me of a cross between Sauvignon Blanc and an unoaked Chardonnay. Quite nice.

CHÂTEAU DES CHARMES RIESLING 2008 - Estate Btld, VQA (#061499) (D) - $12.55
Lovely floral aromas. Mineral, slate and petrol on the palate. Crisp acidity allows it to be paired with meals. Off-dry and delicious.

Soft, easy drinking white wine featuring aromas and flavours of kiwi, grapefruit and floral notes. Good "food wine" with balanced acidity.

CHÂTEAU  DES CHARMES GAMAY NOIR 2008 - Estate Btld, VQA (#057349) (XD) - $12.55
Smoke, dark fruits, white pepper, herbal aromas with a touch of cherry. All follow through on palate, with dark fruits dominating; pepper on the mid-palate. Medium-bodied red wine.

CHÂTEAU DES CHARMES 'OLD VINES' CABERNET-MERLOT 2006 - Estate Btld, VQA (#222372) (XD) - $19.95
Notes of currant, cassis, mint, oak and chocolate. Smooth and silky tannins make their presence felt. Tastes expensive.

CHÂTEAU DES CHARMES RIESLING ICEWINE 2007 - VQA, Paul Bosc Estate Vineyard (S) (375 mL) - $65.00
Seductive aromas of honey and apricot that follow through on the palate. Very good acidity that will allow this Icewine to be paired with a meal. Outstanding offering that is excellent right now, and could rested for up to 5 years. Buy online

Mild honey, apricot, petrol aromas and flavours. Acidity a touch strong, providing harsh experience.

PONDVIEW VIDAL ICEWINE 2010 - VQA (S) (200 mL) - $25.15
Strong burnt honey aromas and flavours leaving tingling sensation in mouth. Some apricot notes. Strong acidity. Serve with mild blue cheese.

Strong nose of red berries - strawberry and raspberry dipped in sugar. Pairs well with chocolate and acidity strong enough for meal pairing. Buy here

Full of strawberry and honey notes. Not too sweet; serve with milk chocolate or light cheese. Buy direct

JACKSON-TRIGGS GRAND RESERVE CABERNET FRANC ICEWINE 2007 - VQA (#264325) (S) (200 mL) - $19.95 (from JT website)
Aromas of raspberry. Intense flavours of sweet red berries interplay with some raisin and fig notes. A deal at $20.

Both were outstanding - delicious honey, apricots, mineral/petrol, with the Oak Aged having more peppery, spicy notes.

GREENLANE RIESLING ICEWINE 2008 - VQA (S) (200 mL) - $29.95
Honey, citrus and candied lime aromas. Lovely honey and candied fruits on the palate. Balanced wine that pairs well with (blue) cheese.

Cassis, herbal, spicy notes. Ripe, round wine that has some tannin grip, but is easy drinking. Would match well with a wide variety of foods.

Dark fruit, spice and hints of chocolate. Very tannic and needs more time to develop, but has excellent potential.

Lots of smoky, pepper notes. Full bodied. Beautiful Shiraz made for lamb. Buy here

LEGENDS ESTATES VIDAL ICEWINE 2006 - VQA (S) (375 mL) - $39.95
Thick and syrupy with the usual honey, apricot aromas and flavours. A little low on sweetness for my taste.

MAGNOTTA VIDAL HARVEST MOON 2010 - VQA (MS) (750 mL) - $9.95
Medium-sweet wine with orange and tangerine on the nose. Passionfruit and apple on the palate. Tangy. Buy here

Another medium-sweet offering with melon, apricot, honey, floral and some raisin notes. Pair with cheese.

MAGNOTTA VIDAL ICEWINE 2008 - VQA (#587154) (S) (375 mL) - $29.95
Fabulous Icewine with honey, toffee, apricots and peach. Suitable for cheese and desserts. Great value!

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  • Date publishedMonday, February 6, 2012

Henry of Pelham Reserve Off-Dry Riesling 2009 (Ontario) - Wine Review

This off-dry white wine is a perennial favourite of mine, as I've purchased the 2007 vintage 3 times (twice in 2008, once in 2009) and enjoyed it each and every time. Purchased recently from the Jan 21 LCBO Vintages release, this promises to be just as good...

HENRY OF PELHAM RESERVE OFF-DRY RIESLING 2009 - VQA Short Hills Bench, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#557165) (MD) - $15.95

Tasting Note:
Candied lime, citrus, mineral, wax and petrol aromas. Tangy citrus, lime, with a slight touch of sweetness on the palate. Bright seam of acidity cuts through the middle. Off-dry. Could be cellared a few more years, but is definitely delicious now. Recommended if you like wines that are slightly sweet. Will be enjoying this with spinach & potatoes.

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