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  • Date publishedMonday, August 27, 2012

Sept. 1 LCBO Wine Picks: Fall Fêtes + Champagne

Cover photo of September 1 Vintages wine release
The next Vintages release will be in LCBO outlets across Ontario on . This issue celebrates wines for Fall Fêtes with different styles of wines (from light to the big & bold and everything in between) that would be suitable for your gatherings as we transition from Summer to Fall.

You can open your gathering with an extra dry Tavel Rosé that is made from 40-year-old vines using Grenache, Clairette, Cinsault and Bourboulenc. From there, we move to big & bold wines with a 2010 Rhône that is a Grenache-Syrah blend from Château de Galifay. We also have a big Californian Zinfandel from vines that were planted in 1918!

To end your gathering, go with the sweet Muscat from Greece, or the slightly less sweet Lillet Blanc from Bordeaux that is made with Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon varietals and fortified with brandy.

Also featured in this release, to coordinate with TIFF, are 5 Champagnes that are stars and will undoubtedly delight. Of course, there is the 2003 Dom Perignon (#280461, $219.95) and the 2005 Cristal (#268755, $286.95), but the best "value" of the bunch is the Non-Vintage (N.V.) Charles Heidsieck Brut Reserve (#036962, $54.95).

And finally, this wine is not listed below, but if you would like to try something new, the Malvirà Favorita Langhe 2011 from Piedmont (#291336, XD, $19.95) is a white wine made using the Favorita varietal. We don't see this grape very often at all, so it's worth checking out as it does look tasty - think pineapples.

Enjoy my wine picks for this week!

Red Wine:
  • CHÂTEAU DE GALIFAY CAIRANNE CÔTES DU RHÔNE-VILLAGES 2010 - AC, Rhône, France (#290080) (XD) - $17.00
  • ROSS ESTATE LIGHTS OUT SHIRAZ 2009 - Barossa, South Australia (#285387) (D) - $19.95
  • GÉRARD BERTRAND ST. CHINIAN SYRAH/MOURVÈDRE 2009 - AC, Midi, France (#281832) (XD) - $16.95
  • CAROL SHELTON MONGA ZIN OLD VINE ZINFANDEL 2008 - Lopez Vineyard, Cucamonga Valley, California, USA (#282525) (D) - $26.95
  • CASCINA BUSSIA DARDI BAROLO 2006 - DOCG, Piedmont, Italy (#268516) (XD) - $39.95

White Wine:
  • ANDRÉ BLANCK ET SES FILS ROSENBURG PINOT BLANC 2011 - AC Alsace, France (#626606) (D) - $13.95
  • SCHLOSS REINHARTSHAUSEN ERBACHER SCHLOSSBERG RIESLING SPÄTLESE 2005 - Prädikatswein, Rheingau, Germany (#129858) (M) - $19.95
  • PEDRO ESCUDERO FUENTE ELVIRA VERDEJO 2010 - DO Rueda, Spain (#218313) (XD) - $14.95
  • MIKE WEIR RIESLING 2010 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#229286) (D) - $14.95
  • SÉGUINOT-BORDET VAILLONS CHABLIS 1ER CRU 2010 - AC, Burgundy, France (#289389) (XD) - $29.95
  • ANTICA CHARDONNAY 2010 - Napa Valley, California, USA (#290536) (XD) - $35.95

Rosé Wine:
  • CHÂTEAU DE MANISSY TAVEL 2011 - AC, Rhône, France (#276469) (XD) - $15.95

Dessert/Fortified Wine:
  • LILLET BLANC - Bordeaux, France (#322297) (MS) - $15.95
  • KOURTAKI MUSCAT OF SAMOS - AOQS Samos, Greece (#938407) (S) - $14.95

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

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  • Date publishedSaturday, August 25, 2012

Prince Edward County Wine Tasting

Prince Edward County Winegrowers Association
earlier this year, I had the pleasure of attending the Prince Edward County wine tasting held at Berkeley Church in downtown Toronto.

Prior to this event, I had only tasted one wine from PEC and was left with the impression that Prince Edward County is still a maturing region. That impression did not change after this event, but I can tell you that there are some worthy wines to check out if you get the chance. With summer nearly over and having visited Muskoka earlier this month, I believe a visit to Prince Edward County will be in store next summer as most of these wines can only be found at the winery.

Here are some tasting notes from the evening. Enjoy my wine reviews!

HUFF ESTATES RIESLING MEDIUM DRY 2010 - VQA Ontario (#155606) (MD) - $17.95
Crisp lychee, peach aromas. Petrol, mineral and some lychee on the palate. Crisp acidity. Would go well with a mild cheddar. (88 pts)

HUFF ESTATES SOUTH BAY CHARDONNAY 2009 - VQA Prince Edward County (#276006) (D) - $29.95
Crisp, ripe pear and apple aromatics. Fruit-forward with apple flavours on the palate, hints of sweetness. (88 pts)

KEINT-HE PINEAUX SAUVAGE 2008 - VQA Prince Edward County (MS) (375 mL) - $55.00
Botrytis affected Pinot Noir. Orange marmalade, honey and touch of oak aromas. On the palate there is dried apricots, caramel and ginger notes. Crisp acidity leads to a medium-sweet finish. Very nice! (91 pts)

Candied cherry, strawberry aromas and flavours. Starts off sweet and gives way to crisp, spicy, semi-dry finish. Quite pleasant. (88+ pts)

A classic old-world blend of Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Malbec and Petit Verdot with classic aromas of currant and dark berries. On the palate, there is more currant, cassis, dark berries joined by spicy herbal notes. Balanced wine with ripe tannins and a long finish. (89 pts)

Rare to see a 100% Petit Verdot. Dark fruits on the nose. Ripe dark fruit is well-integrated with oak. Full-bodied wine also has smoky flavours on the long finish. (88 pts)

Port-style wine made using Frontenac Blanc and Gewürztraminer. Lots of peach/apricot aromas with more of the same plus orange notes on the palate, in this medium- to full-bodied wine. Finishes with some spiciness and hazelnut notes. (88 pts)

SANDBANKS ESTATE RIESLING 2010 - VQA Prince Edward County (#139022) (D) - $14.95
Fresh floral and pear aromas. Off-dry lime-cordial on the palate, crisp acidity. (86 pts)

100% late-harvest Vidal. Lovely peach and honey aromatics with replays on palate, but is lacking acidity. (86 pts)

SANDBANKS ESTATE MOUTON NOIR - VQA Prince Edward County (XD) - $19.95
100% Marechal Foch. A style of red wine I haven't tasted in a while with aromas of concrete, tar, pencil lead, and steel. Dark fruits with lots of minerality, full-bodied and ripe tannins. (87 pts)

3630 CHARDONNAY 2009 - VQA Prince Edward County (XD) - $25.12
Very fresh, clean and crisp lime aromas. On the palate, gooseberry and grass notes reminds me more of a Sauvignon Blanc, and finishes spicy. Not your typical Chardonnay. (86 pts)

LIGHTHALL CHARDONNAY RÉSERVE 2009 - VQA Prince Edward County (#278226) (XD) - $25.00
Lightly oaked, but you wouldn't know it. Crisp and clean mineral characteristics with lime and citrus aromas and flavours in the background. Good acidity with a slight spritz on the finish. (87 pts)

ROSEHALL RUN SZ WHITE 2011 - VQA Prince Edward County (#214478) (XD) - $14.95
A medley of varietals used in this white wine brings citrusy and orange aromas and flavours. Starts off clean but finishes tart. (87 pts)

STANNERS PINOT GRIS CUIVRÉ 2010 - VQA Prince Edward County (XD) - $25.00
Light, crisp aromas of citrus, butter and pear that mingle nicely into a complex set of flavours on the palate. Dry with good acidity. (88 pts)

CASA-DEA PINOT NOIR 2009 - VQA Prince Edward County (XD) - $19.95
Red berries aromas and flavours with smooth tannins that are a touch grippy. May need a bit of time for tannins to mellow out, or decant and serve now. Otherwise enjoyable. (88 pts)

CASA-DEA PINOT GRIS 2009 - VQA Prince Edward County (#237883) (XD) - $18.95
Floral aromas with some citrus. Light bodied on the palate with clean, tangy citrus notes. Very smooth and crisp. (87 pts)

CASA-DEA CABERNET FRANC 2009 - VQA Prince Edward County (#241612) (XD) - $18.95
Lovely fresh berry and strawberry aromas and flavours. Medium bodied with ripe tannins. Crowd-pleaser. (88 pts)

HARWOOD PINOT GRIS 2010 - VQA Prince Edward County (XD) - $18.00
Very clean, crisp white with light apple and mineral nose with replays on the palate. Backed by acidity, finishes soft and smooth. More of an Italian Pinot Grigio style. (87 pts)

HARWOOD PINOT NOIR 2009 - VQA Prince Edward County (XD) - $29.00
Lots of spice, smoke and vanilla aromas that I found overwhelmed the fruit. Some bramble comes through on palate. Decanting for an hour may soften the tannins. Didn't enjoy this one.

HARWOOD ST. LAURENT 2009 - VQA Prince Edward County (XD) - $20.00
The St. Laurent varietal is related to Pinot Noir. Another smoky wine with bacon and barnyard aromas. Palate is dominated by currant and leather flavours. Ripe tannins. (85 pts)

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  • Date publishedTuesday, August 21, 2012

Muskoka Lakes Winery - Wine Tasting

Muskoka Lakes Winery and Johnston's Cranberry Marsh sign
Over the , I had the pleasure of visiting the Muskoka Lakes Winery and Johnston's Cranberry Farm located in Bala, Ontario (just over 2 hours North of Toronto). I wasn't really sure what to expect as I had not tasted fruit wine in many years, but was pleasantly surprised by the quality of these wines.

If you're in the Muskoka region, I highly recommend that you visit the winery as many of these wines are not found at the LCBO. Also do the wine tour as you will learn about the winemaking process, which is slightly different than producing grape-based wines. After the tour, you can taste their full line-up of 8 cranberry, blueberry and raspberry-based wines, plus their wine spritzer. They have even started up a turkey farm on-site to go with their cranberry marshes... get it? ;)

Hope you enjoy my wine reviews!

Tasting Notes:
Muskoka Red Oak Aged Wild Blueberry 2010 - QC (Quality Certified) (XD) - $19.95
Lots of dark fruits, licorice and oak aromas, with licorice flowing onto the palate and joined by inky iodine, Christmas spice, and oak flavours. Medium-bodied with a long finish. (85 pts)

Wild Blueberry Wine 2008 - QC (D) - $18.95
Concentrated blueberry aromas with a zippy, crisp, light-bodied with a sweet-edged blueberry flavour profile along with some minty notes. (87 pts)

Georgian Bay Rosé 2010 - QC (#234880) (XD) - $16.95
Made with apples and cranberries. Earthy, musky aromas with hints of peach. On the palate, there are crisp, fruit forward red fruits and with good acidity. Finishes slightly spicy and dry. (88 pts)

Cranberry Wine 2010 - QC (#609701) (D) - $14.95
Candied cranberry aromas and flavours, crisp, chalky tannins lead to a very dry finish. Needs a couple of years in the bottle for tannins to settle. (85 pts)

Cranberry Blueberry Wine 2010 - QC (#609719) (D) - $16.95
Equal parts cranberry and blueberry. Aromas of candied blueberries and menthol with replays of both on the palate. Light bodied, off-dry with sweetness balanced by fine acidity. Relatively light in alcohol at 10.5%. (88+ pts)

White Cranberry Wine 2011 - QC (#621938) (M) - $18.95
Elegant aromas of candied cranberries. Fruit forward, tannic and lots of acidity on the spicy finish. Quite different. (86 pts)

Red Maple Dessert Wine 2009 - QC (#050039) (S) - $23.95
Made with cranberries and maple syrup. Closed nose, but flavours of cranberry, caramel and maple syrup come through on the lively palate. Sweetness cut by acidity from cranberries. Very nice! (90 pts)

Framberge Dessert Wine - QC (S) - $22.95
Made using raspberries and cranberries. Lots of rasp-cran aromas. On the palate, it leads with flavours of raspberries, and finishes with cranberry notes. At 15% alcohol, this is a hefty wine that should be chilled well prior to serving to suppress the alcohol flavours. (88 pts)

'Muskoka Moment' Cranberry Wine Spritzer - QC, Bala, Ontario, Canada - $17.95 / 6 per box
A very nice cranberry wine spritzer that smells and tastes like strawberries. Yum.

Slater Johnston with 'The Picker' performing his first ever wine tour
Fermenting blueberries
Muskoka Lakes Winery and Johnston's Cranberry Marsh

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  • Date publishedThursday, August 16, 2012

Columbia Crest H3 Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 (Washington) - Wine Review

Purchased this red wine earlier this year from the March 17 Vintages release and was re-released in the upcoming August 18 release as part of the mini-feature on wines from the Pacific Northwest. It's a beauty!

COLUMBIA CREST H3 CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2009 - Horse Heaven Hills, Washington, USA (#210047) (XD) - $19.95

Bottle photo of 2009 Columbia Crest H3 Cabernet Sauvignon
Tasting Note:
Currants, cassis, cedar and mint aromas with some earthy & herbal aromas at the tail end. Currant and dark fruits lead to dark chocolate and coffee on the palate. Good acidity with well-integrated tannins, full-bodied. Quite smooth. Oven-roasted chicken would go very nicely with this. Recommended.

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  • Date publishedMonday, August 13, 2012

Aug. 18 LCBO Wine Picks: 2010 Rhône + Pacific Northwest

Cover photo of August 18, 2012 VINTAGES wine release
The next batch of Vintages wines will be in LCBO outlets across Ontario on . In this release, the main feature is on the highly-praised 2010 vintage wines from Southern Rhône, in France.

I've always been a big fan of wines from Rhône and it is with delight I have a chosen a few for you to consume. First up is the Halos de Jupiter, made using 85% Grenache, 10% Syrah and 5% Mourvèdre (i.e. a GSM blend) which you can drink now or cellar for 1-2 years. The Grands Bois Cuvée Philippine is another blend made up of equal parts Syrah and Grenache, and 15% Carignan. The third pick from Rhône is not cheap, but will delight for at least the next decade - the Siffrein Châteauneuf-du-Pape consisting of 65% Grenache, 15% Syrah, 15% Mourvèdre and 5% Cinsault.

The secondary feature in this release is on wines from the Pacific Northwest - British Columbia, Washington and Oregon. Of the (just!) 6 wines that were featured, only the extra dry Pinot Gris from Oregon made my list of wine picks. I would prefer this region be the main feature in a future release with many more selections, as this region is terribly under-represented here in Ontario.

From the rest of the release, the Saumur-Champigny from Loire is made with Cabernet Franc. From Italy, we have a Chianti Classico made with 95% Sangiovese and 5% Colorino, while the Brunello di Montalcino is strictly Sangiovese.

In white wine, the Bosman Adama is a really interesting dry (i.e. slightly sweet) wine from South Africa that is blended using 60% Chenin Blanc, 20% Chardonnay, 10% Pinot Gris, 6% Viognier and 4% Semillon. Also interesting is the NZ Southbank Chardonnay because it is oaked, but comes off as dry. Hope you enjoy my picks for this week! Cheers!

Red Wine:
  • LES HALOS DE JUPITER CÔTES DU RHÔNE 2010 - AC, Rhône, France (#276956) (D) - $17.95
  • CENNATOIO ORO CHIANTI CLASSICO 2009 - DOCG, Tuscany, Italy (#121210) (XD) - $21.95
  • CALERA PINOT NOIR 2009 - Central Coast, California, USA (#933044) (D) - $31.95
  • DOMAINE DE SAINT SIFFREIN CHÂTEAUNEUF-DU-PAPE 2010 - AC, Rhône, France (#169771) (D) - $39.95
  • VERBENA BRUNELLO DI MONTALCINO 2007 - DOCG, Tuscany, Italy (#165126) (XD) - $37.95

White Wine:
  • BOSMAN ADAMA WHITE 2010 - WO Western Cape, South Africa (#282764) (D) - $18.95
  • BOLLIG-LEHNERT TRITTENHEIMER APOTHEKE RIESLING KABINETT 2009 - Prädikatswein, Mosel, Germany (#284448) (M) - $17.95
  • SOUTHBANK CHARDONNAY 2010 - Hawkes Bay, North Island, New Zealand (#278523) (D) - $17.95
  • COQUENA TORRONTÉS 2011 - Tolombon, Cafayate Valley, Salta, Argentina (#287458) (D) - $19.95
  • THE EYRIE VINEYARDS PINOT GRIS 2009 - Dundee Hills, Willamette Valley, Oregon, USA (#717421) (XD) - $21.95
  • MACULAN PINOT GRIGIO 2010 - IGT Veneto, Italy (#734921) (XD) - $13.95

Sparkling Wine:
  • CAVE DE LUGNY CUVÉE MILLÉSIME BRUT CRÉMANT DE BOURGOGNE 2009 - AC, Burgundy, France (#183764) (D) - $18.95

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

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  • Date publishedFriday, August 10, 2012

Domaine Edmond Jacquin Roussette de Savoie Altesse 2010 (France) - Wine Review

This white wine is from the July 7 Vintages release that took us on a tour through France. I am very glad to have stopped in Savoie to sample the Altesse varietal (also sometimes known as Roussette). It's gorgeous and still available in stores! Here's my review:

DOMAINE EDMOND JACQUIN ALTESSE ROUSSETTE DE SAVOIE 2010 - AC, Savoie, France (#277335) (D) - $17.95

Label photo of 2010 Domaine Edmond Jacquin Roussette de Savoie Altesse
Tasting Note:
Notes of honey, apricot and melon aromas. Lovely light hints of apricot, peach, melon on the palate, along with some minerality. Some honey and spice come through on the long finish. Slightly off-dry. Medium bodied and very well-balanced. Tasty and highly recommended!

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  • Date publishedThursday, August 9, 2012

Strewn Vidal Icewine 2006 (Ontario) - Wine Review

This was a spur-of-the-moment purchase while we were in Muskoka last weekend and wanted something sweet to finish off our Saturday night. This Icewine was the last bottle of its kind on the shelf and it showed when I opened the cork as some crust had developed. There was also some crust at the bottom of the bottle - not exactly sure how that would've happened.

STREWN VIDAL ICEWINE 2006 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#467746) (S) (200 mL) - $24.95

Bottle photo of 2006 Strewn Vidal Icewine
Tasting Note:
Aromas of peaches, apricot and honey. Palate has apricot, golden honey and some burnt orange notes. Finishes with hints of mulled spices. Medium-bodied with fine acidity that balances the sweetness. A very average Icewine that is past its prime. The 2002 vintage was opened 9 years later and tasted MUCH better than this vintage.

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  • Date publishedWednesday, August 1, 2012

Maycas del Limarí Reserva Especial Chardonnay 2010 (Chile) - Wine Review

Opened tonight is the first of two wines that I have in my cellar from Maycas del Limarí, a brand of wine produced by Concha Y Toro. This white wine was purchased from the June 9 VINTAGES wine release, where Chilean wine was the major theme.

MAYCAS DEL LIMARÍ RESERVA ESPECIAL CHARDONNAY 2010 - Limarí Valley, Chile (#162040) (XD) - $19.95

Tasting Note:
Citrus, apple and pear aromas from the cork. Toasty apple, buttered popcorn and pear aromas from the glass. On the palate, the bright acidity jumps at you, followed by layers of apple, pear, and spice. Medium-full bodied with a long finish. Extra dry. Will be enjoying this tonight with chicken biryani.

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