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  • Date publishedMonday, July 30, 2012

Aug. 4 LCBO Wine Picks: Blockbusters + Single-Vineyard German Wines

The next Vintages wine release will be in LCBO outlets across Ontario on . The major feature is titled "Blockbuster" wines and focuses on customers' all-time favourite wines. I have tasted and enjoyed many of these wines from previous vintages, but in this release just one wine made my list of wine picks. It's definitely on the pricey side, but the Pinino Brunello di Montalcino (100% Sangiovese) can be decanted and enjoyed now, or wait at least 2 years prior to opening.

The secondary feature in this release is on single-vineyard German wines. I love German Rieslings because many samples are medium in sweetness, complex and have balanced acidity. The Reinhold Haart Kabinett from the Piesporter Goldtröpfchen vineyard is one such example, while the more expensive Markus Molitor Spätlese (late harvest) from the Zeltinger Himmelreich vineyard is also very nice.

From the rest of the release, I look to South America for yet another lovely Argentinean Malbec and a Chilean Carmenère. The Langeudoc region in France always serves up great value wines, so the Syrah from Domaine Les Yeuses comes as no surprise - it's a steal at $13.95. A rosé from Provence is in a very fancy bottle and consists of Grenache, Cinsault and Syrah. The Castellani Filicheto Montepulciano is made up of 90% Prugnolo Gentile (the regional name for Sangiovese in Tuscany) and 10% Canaiolo Nero. The aromatic Terre Dora is made with the Fiano varietal.

Within Canada, we've got a medium-sweet sparkler from... Nova Scotia! Also in this release is an oustanding oaked Chardonnay made by Inniskillin right here in Niagara, Ontario. Enjoy my picks for this week!

Red Wine:
  • PASCUAL TOSO RESERVE MALBEC 2009 - Barrancas Vineyards, Mendoza, Argentina (#183897) (XD) - $19.95
  • DOMAINE LES YEUSES LES ÉPICES SYRAH 2009 - IGP Pays d’Oc, Midi, France (#177584) (XD) - $13.95
  • CONCHA Y TORO SERIE RIBERAS GRAN RESERVA CARMENÈRE 2009 - DO Peumo, Ribera del Cachapoal, Chile (#274043) (XD) - $16.95
  • PININO BRUNELLO DI MONTALCINO 2006 - DOCG, Tuscany, Italy (#032508) (XD) - $38.95
  • CASTELLANI FILICHETO VINO NOBILE DI MONTEPULCIANO 2009 - DOCG, Tuscany, Italy (#184937) (XD) - $17.95
  • SOTER VINEYARDS NORTH VALLEY PINOT NOIR 2009 - Willamette Valley, Oregon, USA (#289470) (D) - $37.95

White Wine:
  • INNISKILLIN WINEMAKER’S SERIES MONTAGUE VINEYARD CHARDONNAY 2010 - VQA Four Mile Creek, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#586347) (D) - $18.95
  • REINHOLD HAART PIESPORTER GOLDTRÖPFCHEN RIESLING KABINETT 2009 - Prädikatswein, Mosel, Germany (#282335) (M) - $19.95
  • CAPE POINT VINEYARDS SAUVIGNON BLANC 2010 - WO Cape Point, South Africa (#285221) (XD) - $18.95
  • CLOS MARGUERITE SAUVIGNON BLANC 2010 - Marlborough, South Island, New Zealand (#281014) (XD) - $18.95
  • TERRE DORA FIANO DI AVELLINO 2010 - DOCG, Campania, Italy (#120048) (XD) - $18.95
  • MARKUS MOLITOR ZELTINGER HIMMELREICH RIESLING SPÄTLESE 2008 - Prädikatswein, Mosel, Germany (#282350) (M) - $26.95

Rosé Wine:
  • CHÂTEAU DE L’AUMÉRADE CRU CLASSÉ CUVÉE MARIE CHRISTINE ROSÉ 2011 - AC Côtes de Provence, France (#282459) (D) - $15.95

Sparkling Wine:
  • BENJAMIN BRIDGE NOVA 7 2011 - Gaspereau Valley, Nova Scotia, Canada (#256289) (M) - $25.95

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

  • Date publishedSunday, July 29, 2012

A History of Wine

Wine and the art of wine making has been part of human culture for eons. Indeed, archaeological evidence suggests that the earliest wine production came from sites in Georgia and Iran, dating from 6000 to 5000 BC. Evidence of the earliest European wine production has been uncovered at archaeological sites in Macedonia, dated to 6,500 years ago. Traces of wine dating from the second and first millennium BC have also been found in China. The history of people enjoying a good drop, therefore, stretches far into history, and far around the world.

Wine was also common in classical Greece and Rome, as you might expect with all the opulence, extravagance and sophistication of those societies. In addition, many of the major wine producing regions of Western Europe today were established with Phoenician and later-Roman plantations.

However, in medieval Europe, following the decline of Rome’s power and influence, there was a drop-off in widespread wine production. While the universal consumption of wine suffered a lull, wine production continued due to the fact the Christian church was a staunch supporter of the wine necessary for celebration of the Catholic Mass.

Similarly, whereas wine was forbidden in medieval Islamic cultures, Geber (a colossal figure in Persian science, alchemy, philosophy and geography) and other Muslim chemists pioneered the distillation of wine for medicinal purposes and its use in Christian libation was widely tolerated.

Wine production gradually got back on its feet in the West and its consumption became popularised from the 15th century onwards in Europe, surviving the devastating Phylloxera louse of the 1870s throughout the continent (a pest outbreak that nearly totally destroyed the wine plantations of France during this decade). After this, wine growing regions were established throughout the world, with wine production and the commercial nature of wine becoming recognizable as how we know it today.

Another particularly important development in the global wine trade was the expansion of production into the ‘New World’. In the USA, vineyards in Ohio were the innovators, before the industry firmly moved to California – American wine’s spiritual home to this day. Australia also picked up the slack in earnest in the late 19th century, while at the same time such things as port, sherry and fortified wines were becoming popular in Europe.

Other countries that have expanded wine production in the 20th century include South Africa, New Zealand, Chile, Argentina, Japan, Romania, Brazil, Uruguay, China and Canada.

Written by Julia Binkheart, a commentator and amateur wine enthusiast specializing in Wine Australia.

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  • Date publishedSaturday, July 28, 2012

Video Wine & Cheese with Natalie MacLean

On we tasted three Ontario VQA wines and paired them with six Canadian cheeses. This is part 2 of this edition of #CdnCheese and wine pairing (here is part 1). Here is the recording of our Live Video Chat using the Hangout feature on Google+. We had lots of fun doing this, as you will see when you watch the video. :)

JACKSON-TRIGGS ENTOURAGE SILVER SERIES BRUT MÉTHODE CLASSIQUE 2007 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#234161) (XD) - $22.95
Yeasty with hints of floral and citrus aromas. More citrus on the palate, followed by flower, biscuit, nutty, and toast on the palate. Not overly carbonated. Extra dry.

Paired well with the Niagara Gold and the Alfred Le Fermier, while the Maple Smoked Cheddar dominated the palate when paired with this sparkling wine. Both the Île-aux-Grues 1-year-old cheddar and the Avonlea  Clothbound Cheddar are versatile cheeses that also paired well.

LE CLOS JORDANNE VILLAGE RESERVE PINOT NOIR 2009 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#033894) (XD) - $30.00
Intense smoky, meat, pepper, and dark fruit aromas. Bitter, dark fruits, minerality on the palate, finishing with sour cherry and touch of pepper. Balanced, light- to medium-bodied, extra dry.

The Albert's Leap brie soaked up the smoky/meaty flavours, while the Île-aux-Grues lended it's creaminess to further balance this Pinot. The complex flavours of the Avonlea cheddar also paired well. Once again, the Maple Smoked was much too strong.

FLOURISH VIDAL ICEWINE 2008 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#222356) (S) (200 mL) - $17.95
A wine pick of mine from the February 4, 2012 Vintages release. Gorgeous honeycomb, peach, apricot aromas with loads of replays on the palate. Enough acidity to balance out the sweet flavours, not syrupy. Medium-bodied with a long finish. Yum!

The Avonlea cheddar and Alfred Le Fermier go really well with this Icewine. The sweet flavours in this Icewine go up well against the strong, smoky flavours of the Maple Smoked Cheddar.

3 Wines for Video Chat Wine and #CdnCheese tasting on Google+

6 Canadian cheeses for #CdnCheese

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  • Date publishedFriday, July 20, 2012

Cheese & Wine Tweet-Up Natalie MacLean

Here are my tasting notes of the 4 VQA wines tasted last night during the #CdnCheese tweet-up with Natalie MacLean with actually trended to the #1 spot. Also included are my impressions of the 6 Canadian cheeses that were paired with each of the wines.

6 Canadian cheeses for #CdnCheese

4 wines from Innsikillin for #CdnCheese tweet-up

INNISKILLIN WINEMAKER'S SERIES TWO VINEYARDS RIESLING 2010 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#105387) (D) - $17.95
This wine was one of my picks from the April 14th VINTAGES release. Screw cap. Fresh mineral, lemon, pear aromas, along with hints of honey and petrol. Tangy with grapefruit and lemon-lime zesty acidity, mineral, leads to an off-dry, bumpy finish that bounces between honey and slate notes.

The Île-aux-Grues 1-year-old cheddar and the Avonlea cheddar both paired really well with this Riesling, while the Alfred Le Fermier brought out some interesting orange notes in the wine; the Upper Canada Niagara Gold cheese also went well with this off-dry wine.

JACKSON-TRIGGS SILVER SERIES CHARDONNAY 2010 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#252072) (XD) - $17.95
Screw cap. Delicious peach, apple and vanilla aromas lead to more of the same on the palate, joined by hints of butter and honey notes. Full-bodied for a white with very creamy mouthfeel with some herbal characters on the finish. Take the little edginess off the spicy finish and this becomes an excellent wine!

Once again, the Île-aux-Grues and Avonlea cheddar both balance the flavours and acidity of this wine, with neither the cheese or wine dominating the palate.

OPEN WINES RIESLING-GEWÜRZTRAMINER 2011 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#134965) (D) - $11.95
Screw cap. Tropical fruits and pear aromas from the glass. A simple, light and fruity easy drinking wine with tropical fruit and peach on the palate. Off-dry.

The Albert's Leap brie darkens the flavours and makes the wine more interesting; the Niagara Gold and the Avonlea Clothbound Cheddar both really balance well with this wine; both the Alfred Le Fermier and the Maple Smoked are much too strong for this pairing.

JACKSON-TRIGGS BLACK SERIES MERITAGE 2010 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#526228) (XD) - $13.45
Screw cap. Blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot. Black pepper, cassis, raspberry and dark fruit aromas. Medium-bodied with more raspberry, pepper and herbal notes on the palate. There's also a touch of smokiness. Balanced, structured tannins with plenty of acidity. Pretty good for the price!

Not a bad pairing of this wine and the Albert's Leap brie - brings out the smokiness in the wine; both the Niagara Gold and the Alfred Le Fermier really balance the wine well the, while the Île-aux-Grues cheddar really cuts through the acidity in this Meritage.

Join us next week as we host a Live Video Google+ Hangout Wine and Cheese tasting on Wednesday, July 25 beginning at 8 p.m. EST.

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  • Date publishedMonday, July 16, 2012

July 21 Wine Picks: Cool-Climate Victoria + Loire

Cover photo of July 21 VINTAGES Wine Magazine
The next VINTAGES wine release will be in LCBO stores across Ontario on . The main feature in this release is on the cool-climate wines from Victoria, Australia, while the secondary feature is on wines from Loire. Overall, this is a very "cool" release, with white wines stealing the show.

From Central Victoria, we have a very intriguing Marsanne. From Malivoire in Ontario, we have the aromatic Gewürztraminer, while the Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand is a steal at $20. My top white from this release is a 5-year-old Muscadet made with the Melon de Bourgogne grape from Loire (#653485, below) - the name is a mouthful, but I'm sure you will enjoy it if you like dry white wines.

Among red wines, the Grenache-blended Guintrandy from southen Rhône comes from the fabulous 2010 vintage, while the 2008 Grenache/Syrah/Carignan-blend from Gerard Bertrand comes from Midi. Pinot lovers will likely enjoy the De Bortoli offering from Victoria. My top value-red is the Castello d'Alba from Portugal and consists of Tinta Roriz (Tempranillo) and the Port varietals Touriga Franca and Touriga Nacional.

If you're in need of a summer rosé, the off-dry Syrah/Grenache offering from Château Saint-Roch is a tasty good value. Cheers!

Red Wine:
  • CASTELLO D’ALBA RESERVA 2009 - DOC Douro, Portugal (#276204) (XD) - $14.95
  • GÉRARD BERTRAND GRAND TERROIR TAUTAVEL GRENACHE/SYRAH/CARIGNAN 2008 - AC Côtes du Roussillon-Villages Tautavel, Midi, France (#272575) (XD) - $17.95
  • DE BORTOLI WINDY PEAK PINOT NOIR 2010 - Yarra Valley, Victoria, Australia (#048587) (D) - $17.95
  • DURIGUTTI MALBEC 2009 - Mendoza, Argentina (#246124) (XD) - $16.95
  • TAHBILK SHIRAZ 2008 - Nagambie Lakes, Central Victoria, Australia (#214742) (D) - $20.95

White Wine:
  • COMTE LELOUP DU CHÂTEAU DE CHASSELOIR CUVÉE DES CEPS CENTENAIRES 2007 - AC Muscadet Sèvre-et-Maine, Sur Lie, Loire, France (#653485) (XD) - $18.95
  • WHITEHAVEN SAUVIGNON BLANC 2011 - Marlborough, South Island, New Zealand (#278556) (D) - $19.95
  • TAHBILK MUSEUM RELEASE MARSANNE 2007 - Nagambie Lakes, Central Victoria, Australia (#276980) (D) - $22.95
  • MALIVOIRE GEWÜRZTRAMINER 2010 - VQA Niagara Escarpment, Ontario, Canada (#542522) (D) - $24.95
  • LA CHABLISIENNE VAULORENT CHABLIS 1ER CRU 2009 - AC, Burgundy, France (#111666) (XD) - $31.95

Rosé Wine:
  • CHÂTEAU SAINT-ROCH SYRAH/GRENACHE ROSÉ 2011 - AC Côtes du Roussillon, Midi, France (#276352) (D) - $14.95

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

  • Date publishedSaturday, July 14, 2012

Wine Reviews - 2012 Niagara New Vintage Wine Festival

Here are reviews of some of the wines I tasted during my recent visit to Niagara for the 2012 New Vintage Wine Festival.

The highlights were definitely the Château des Charmes' Riesling Icewine and Equuleus, Flat Rock's Rusty Shed Chardonnay, the Passion from Stoney Ridge and lastly (but not least) the Meritage from Fielding.

For my review of the food & wine pairings using the Discovery Pass Experience, go here.

FIELDING ESTATE ROSÉ 2011 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#053421) (XD) - $15.95
Muted aromas of cran-cherry and hints of strawberry that follow through on palate. Refreshing acidity leads to a clean, dry finish. Has good weight for a rosé. Pleasant. (86 pts)

FIELDING ESTATE PINOT GRIS 2011 - Estate Bottled, VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#251108) (XD) - $21.95
Lovely floral, pineapple, melon aromatics. Balanced lime and citrus flavours on the palate. Finishes dry, with a touch spicy finish. (88 pts)

FIELDING ESTATE CHARDONNAY UNOAKED 2011 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $14.95
Melon and kiwi aromas from the glass. Quite flavourful with more melon and kiwi on the palate. Dry, medium-bodied with fresh acidity. (88 pts)

FIELDING ESTATE CHARDONNAY MUSQUÉ 2011 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (D) - $16.95
Lovely aromatics of honeydew melon and fruit salad. Replays of honeydew melon and fruit salad on the palate, plus hints of smoke and peach. Light-bodied, off-dry and with a long-finish. A nice summer wine! (89 pts)

FIELDING ESTATE CABERNET FRANC 2010 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#036194) (XD) - $21.95
Lavender aromas and flavours, plus cassis, cedar and smoke on the palate. Very well-integrated tannins on the medium-bodied, long finish. (89 pts)

FIELDING ESTATE MERITAGE 2007 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#279760) (D) - $44.95 (direct)
Currant, cranberry, sweet dark fruits and smoke aromas all come nicely together on the palate, in a balanced, rich finish. Full-bodied with fine grain tannins. Delicious! (90+ pts)

Tropical fruits and melon aromas and flavours, slightly off-dry. Crisp, balanced wine. Quite nice. (88+ pts)

Spicy vanilla, currant, cassis, smoke and black pepper aromas and flavours. Perfect complement for goat cheese. (87 pts)

STONEY RIDGE PASSION 2009 - VQA Ontario (S) - $24.95
Fortified port-style wine made with Cabernet Franc Icewine (50%), Baco Noir and Cabernet Sauvignon. Strawberry, rhubarb and toffee aromas and flavours. Orange marmalade also on the palate, finishes spicy. Tasty! (90 pts)

FLAT ROCK PINOT NOIR ROSÉ 2011 - VQA Twenty Mile Bench (#039974) (XD) - $16.95
Cranberry aromas lead to green, herbal notes on the palate with crisp acidity and finishes a bit spicy. Some tannins evident. Easy-drinking rosé that has some body to it. (88 pts)

FLAT ROCK CHARDONNAY 2009 - VQA Twenty Mile Bench (#286278) (XD) - $16.95
Fresh, clean aromas of apple, pear and buttered popcorn notes. On the palate, slight oakiness with more apple/butter leading to spicy mid-palate that continues to the finish. (86 pts)

FLAT ROCK CHARDONNAY 2008 - VQA Twenty Mile Bench (#681247) (XD) - $13.95
Smoky, oak aromas. Palate has ripe fruits with oak nuances balanced throughout along hints of tropical fruit sweetness. Full-bodied and very smooth. (89 pts) I actually tasted this white wine back in October 2011 as well.

FLAT ROCK THE RUSTY SHED CHARDONNAY 2010 - VQA Twenty Mile Bench (#001552) (XD) - $24.95
Fresh aromas of apple, pear, butter and some oak which all follow through very smoothly on the palate. Juicy, with creamy body and finishing clean. Very nice! (90 pts)

CHÂTEAU DES CHARMES 'OLD VINES' RIESLING 2010 - Estate Btld, VQA Niagara Peninsula (#277228) (D) - $16.95
Lime, citrus aromas and hints of lemon with replays on the smooth, full-bodied palate. Finishes clean and off-dry. Quite nice. (89 pts)

CHÂTEAU DES CHARMES CABERNET FRANC 2010 - VQA St. David's Bench (#453415) (XD) - $25.95
Vanillan oak and dark fruit aromas. Spicy pepper and dark fruits on the palate with big, chewy tannins and finishing long. (88 pts)

CHÂTEAU DES CHARMES CHARDONNAY 2009 - VQA St. David's Bench (#430991) (XD) - $19.95
Melon aromas follow through on palate, leading to fresh, clean mineral notes. Full-bodied with crisp acidity. (88 pts)

CHÂTEAU DES CHARMES CHARDONNAY 2007 - Paul Bosc Estate Vineyard, VQA St. David's Bench (#287268) (XD) - $21.95
Smoky, mineral and butter aromas. Very smooth on the palate with butter, melon and mineral notes. Full-bodied. (89 pts)

CHÂTEAU DES CHARMES EQUULEUS 2010 - Paul Bosc Estate Vineyard, VQA St. David's Bench (#319525) (XD) - $40.00
Blend of 50% Cab Sauv, 25% Cab Franc and 25% Merlot brings aromas of cassis, smoke and oak. On the palate, there is more cassis, plus vanilla, oak, and chocolate. Very smooth with well-integrated tannins. Lovely! (90 pts)

CHÂTEAU DES CHARMES 'OLD VINES' CABERNET-MERLOT 2007 - Estate Btld, VQA Niagara Peninsula (#222372) (XD) - $19.95
Aromas of barnyard and dark fruit with replays on the palate, some chocolate notes. Very dry with chalky tannins. Needs time. (86 pts) I tasted 2006 version back in January.

CHÂTEAU DES CHARMES RIESLING ICEWINE 2009 - Paul Bosc Estate Vineyard, VQA St. David's Bench (#413724) (S) (375 mL) - $59.95
Gorgeous aromas of apricot, peach and honey which all come through very nicely on the palate and balanced with fine acidity. Absolutely delicious! (93 pts) I tasted the 2007 vintage last January.

CHÂTEAU DES CHARMES CABERNET FRANC ICEWINE 2008 - Estate Btld, VQA Niagara-on-the-Lake (S) (375 mL) - $75.00
Tart cranberry and raisin aromas. Very pleasing ripe strawberry notes on the palate that balances the acidity quite nicely. Tasty. (90 pts)

Fresh, clean, mineral and citrus aromas in the glass with replays on the palate. Some lime flavours also on the palate leading to a crisp finish with mild acidity. Dry. (87 pts)

Mineral, lime aromas that follow through on palate and joined by spicy and herbal notes at mid-palate towards the crisp finish. Off-dry and enjoyable. (88 pts)

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  • Date publishedWednesday, July 4, 2012

Reif Estate Vidal Icewine 2003 (Ontario) - Wine Review

My record keeping was sometimes a bit shoddy back in 2005, but based on evidence that lay before me, it appears I bought this wine from the VINTAGES release, where Icewine was the secondary theme of the wine release. However, the bottle I have is the 2003 vintage, while the vintage featured in the magazine is 2002. C'est la vie...

REIF ESTATE VIDAL ICEWINE 2003 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#544791) (S) (200 mL) - $24.95

Bottle photo of 2003 Reif Estate Vidal Icewine
Tasting Note:
Peach, apricot and some raisiny aromas from the cork. Quite aromatic with apricot, plum, raisin and hazelnut aromas from the glass, with more apricot, peach and raisin on the palate. Sweet, but has slight tartness on the medium-bodied finish. Still has good acidity. I wish I had opened this Icewine years earlier as it's definitely passed it's prime. Their recent vintages look much, much better!

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  • Date publishedTuesday, July 3, 2012

July 7 Wine Picks: France + South Africa + Cool-Climate Chardonnay

Cover of July 7 VINTAGES release - A Tour of France
The next LCBO VINTAGES wine release is on and the main theme of this release coincides with the 99th annual Tour de France bike race that began on June 30th and runs to July 22nd. In the magazine, you will find the bike route runs through (or nearby) various French wine regions. This wine release offers up a few wines from some of these regions.

For my wine picks, I chose to stop in Alsace for a lovely Gewürztraminer, followed by a stop in Savoie for an off-dry white made with the Altesse varietal (also commonly known as Roussette). From here, I head to Southern Rhône for a GSM-blend Gigondas (Grenache 60%, Mourvedre 25%, Syrah 15%) and remain in Southern Rhône for an off-dry rosé made with Syrah. I finish our Tour of France in Languedoc for a lovely Syrah (#277046) which isn't part of the theme in this release, but was part of the May 26th release and wasn't available. Good to see that it will be available this time!

The secondary theme of this release is on wines from South Africa, with two white wines standing out. The off-dry Chenin Blanc offers great value, while the dry Waterkloof Circle of Life is blended with 60% Sauvignon Blanc, with Chenin Blanc and Semillion making up the other 40%.

With the International Cool-Climate Chardonnay Celebration approaching later this month, VINTAGES has also chosen to feature some of these delicious Chardonnay expressions from 7 regions around the globe. My pick among these is the Rosehall Run Chard from Prince Edward County, right here in Ontario.

Enjoy my picks for this week! Cheers!

Red Wine:
  • SANTA RITA MEDALLA REAL GRAN RESERVA CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2008 - Maipo Valley, Chile (#275594) (D) - $17.95
  • MAS D'AUZIÈRES SYMPATHIE POUR LES STONES 2009 - AC Côteaux du Languedoc, Midi, France (#277046) (XD) - $19.95
  • E. GUIGAL GIGONDAS 2009 - AC, Rhône, France (#331900) (D) - $29.95
  • FONTERUTOLI CHIANTI CLASSICO 2009 - DOCG, Tuscany, Italy (#977629) (XD) - $25.95
  • TERRESACRE NERAVITE MOLISE ROSSO 2009 - DOC, Molise, Italy (#280834) (XD) - $15.95
  • GROVE STREET PINOT NOIR 2010 - Sonoma County, California, USA (#231613) (D) - $19.95

White Wine:
  • PFAFFENHEIM CUVÉE BACCHUS GEWÜRZTRAMINER 2010 - AC Alsace, France (#996017) (M) - $19.95
  • VINUM AFRICA CHENIN BLANC 2010 - WO Stellenbosch, South Africa (#739995) (D) - $14.95
  • BASTIANICH ADRIATICO FRIULANO 2010 - DOC Colli Orientali del Friuli, Italy (#277467) (XD) - $18.95
  • DOMAINE EDMOND JACQUIN ALTESSE ROUSSETTE DE SAVOIE 2010 - AC, Savoie, France (#277335) (D) - $17.95
  • ROSEHALL RUN CUVÉE COUNTY CHARDONNAY 2009 - VQA Prince Edward County, Ontario, Canada (#132928) (XD) - $21.95
  • WATERKLOOF CIRCLE OF LIFE WHITE 2010 - WO Stellenbosch, South Africa (#284588) (XD) - $26.95

Rosé Wine:
  • CHÂTEAU VAL JOANIS TRADITION SYRAH ROSÉ 2011 - AC Luberon, Rhône, France (#707281) (D) - $14.95

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

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  • Date publishedSunday, July 1, 2012

Featherstone Cabernet Franc 2008 (Ontario) - Wine Review

It's only fitting to sip Canadian wine to celebrate Canada Day. I purchased this red wine back in 2010 from the April 17 VINTAGES release and let it age for just over 2 years.

FEATHERSTONE CABERNET FRANC 2008 - VQA Twenty Mile Bench, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario Canada (#64618) (XD) - $16.95

Tasting Note:
Screw cap. Plum, boysenberry, cedar aromas. More boysenberry on the palate, plus brambleberry and ripe red fruits. Hints of smokiness on the long finish. Smooth, well-integrated tannins. Medium-bodied. Fresh acidity. Ready to drink now.

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  • Date publishedSunday, July 1, 2012

2012 Niagara New Vintage Wine Festival - Review

Logo of 2012 Niagara New Vintage Wine Festival
Last weekend I had the opportunity to visit Niagara for the 2012 New Vintage Wine Festival. I was able to make it on the very last day of the festival, which runs for only 2 weekends in June, and managed to squeeze in 6 wineries using the Discovery Pass; we finished just as they were closing up at the last winery in Niagara-on-the-Lake.

2011 Rosé paired with Shortbread at Fielding Estate Winery
We started off in Beamsville at Fielding Estate Winery. This was my first ever visit to Fielding and probably won't be my last. Their 2011 Rosé paired well with the cheddar & thyme shortbread topped with a hot (and delicious!) red pepper jelly. The jelly was the dominant flavour in this pairing. The second pairing was a goat cheese & chive shortbread topped with red onion marmalade that paired well with their 2011 Estate Bottled Pinot Gris. Full reviews of all the wines tasted during our tour will be posted soon.

Next stop was Stoney Ridge Estate Winery for three delicious wines of varying styles. First pairing was the 2010 Pinot Grigio with strawberry fondue over bread - quite nice! Next was the 2009 Cabernet Merlot paired with goat cheese fondue over bread that complemented each other extremely well. They also offer a very nice selection & variety of cheeses in the winery that are worth checking out. The third and final pairing was their Icewine-infused port-style 2009 Passion - an excellent wine - that paired really well with dark chocolate fondue over a strawberry.

AVella's Wood Fired Oven Pizza at Flat Rock Cellars
Our third stop on this lovely afternoon was at Flat Rock Cellars for some AVella's Wood Fired Oven pizza paired with the 2011 Pinot Noir Rosé (which will be in VINTAGES as part of the July 7 release). The Margherita pizza was juicy and quite nice, while the pepperoni pizza was very dry and over-cooked. The pairing was amicable.

For the fourth stop, we ventured into Niagara-on-the-Lake at the always enjoyable Château des Charmes for some cheese and a chocolate salted caramel. We began with their off-dry 2010 "Old Vines" Riesling paired with the chocolate salted caramel square - both items were delicious. This was followed by a pairing of their 2010 Cabernet Franc with a rather large triangle of Toscano cheese - lots of spice/pepper from both fronts going on here, with the cheese offering slightly more spiciness.

Chocolate Salted Caramel paired with 2010 Old Vines Riesling at Château des Charmes
The fifth stop was regrettable. Diamond Estates offered an enticing menu of goat cheese, tomato, basil and balsamic was served on a round (stale?) cracker and paired with a much-warmer-than-room-temp 2009 Dan Aykroyd Cabernet Shiraz. There was also a too warm port-style offering paired with blue cheese on a round (stale?) cracker. It wasn't bad, but I left disappointed with the entire experience.

By now, it's about 4:45pm and things are starting to wind up as we reach Inniskillin Wines for our 6th and final stop of the tour. They offered two wines from their Winemaker's Series - the 2011 Viognier and 2011 Pinot Gris. Both white wines were similar to each other and went well with the curried-lime flavours of the tandoori chicken wrapped in roti.

This concludes my review of the 2012 New Vintage Wine Festival as we toured 6 wineries throughout the Niagara region. Next up in this series is the big event in September. I encourage everyone to get a Discovery Pass for the Niagara Wine Festival and visit a few wineries, then head on over to Montebello Park in St. Catharines for cheese, food, music, and more wine! It really is a lot of fun! Get in touch with me if you'd like to join our group.

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