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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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