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  • Date publishedFriday, March 29, 2013

Southbrook Triomphe Organic Cabernet Franc Rosé 2011 (Niagara) - Wine Review

I'm not much of a Rosé-in-winter kind of guy, so when I purchased this Rosé wine last December, it was with the idea of opening it when warmer climes eventually arrived. Today's temperature of 10°C is a very good day to open this delightful organic wine. Grapes for this wine were sourced from Southbrook's own organically certified vineyards.

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

Label photo of 2011 Southbrook Triomphe Organic Cabernet Franc Rosé
Tasting Note:
Screw cap. Fresh cranberry, baby tomatoes, green leafy and slightly sweet aromas of medium intensity from the glass. Medium bodied on the palate with cherry, orange, mineral, and hints of strawberry flavours that start a touch sweet, but goes dry at mid-palate and continues on the medium-long, smooth finish. Very good acidity and highly recommended (small quantities still available at select LCBO Vintages locations).

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  • Date publishedMonday, March 25, 2013

Mar. 30 LCBO Wine Picks: Southern France + Easter

The next LCBO Vintages release will be in stores on . Major focus in this release is on wines from Southern France (Languedoc-Roussillon), while the secondary feature is local Ontario wines for Easter. The onslaught of California wines continues with 16 wines listed - that's two more than the number of wines from Languedoc-Rousillon. There are lots of great bargains in this release, and something for just about every palate!

We'll begin in Southern France with the Domaine Les Yeuses Les Épices Syrah. This is an IGP wine - meaning that it must be exclusively produced in the Languedoc-Roussillon region and meet certain strict production quality criteria to achieve this label. The following two wines are from different appellations, but share similar soils that consist primarily of rocks known as schist. From the Faugères appellation we have the Calmel + J Joseph, which is blended using 50% Syrah, 30% nearly 50-year-old vines Carignan, and 20% Grenache. The best value of the bunch is the wine from Cave de Roquebrun. This red wine is from the very distinct Saint-Chinian-Roquebrun appellation and blended with Syrah, Grenache and Mourvèdre.

From the feature on local Easter wines, the Bachelder Chardonnay, the Featherstone Cab Franc, and the Fielding Vidal Icewine are all worthy buys suitable for Easter (or other special occasions). From the rest of the release, the Beronia consists of 92% Tempranillo, 4% Mazuelo, and 4% Graciano, while the L'Aventure Optimus from California is made with 55% Syrah, 27% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 18% Petit Verdot. From the outstanding 2009 Bordeaux vintage, we have the Château Deyrem Valentin that is made using 50% Merlot, 48% Cabernet Sauvignon, 1% Petit Verdot and 1% Carmenere, and the Château Grand Mayne is about 75% Merlot, with Cab Sauv and Cab Franc making up the rest.

Riesling is one of the most versatile varietals around - it can be made anywhere from bone-dry to sweet - and done well. In this release, we have the extra dry Vieil Armand Riesling from Alsace, a Grand Cru no less! We also have the dry (i.e. off-dry / slightly sweet) Château des Charmes Old Vines Riesling from vines planted in 1978. Going up a couple of notches in sweetness, we have 2 more local Rieslings - The Foreign Affair Riesling that's made using the uncommon-for-Ontario appassimento technique (i.e. to rasinate or dry the grapes), and Rosewood's Natalie's Süssreserve Riesling. The above 3 Riesling's are all featured in the Local Talent section of this release. Also found in this release is a very uncommon blending of Shiraz and Riesling from Dandelion Vineyards in Australia. This combo (97% Shiraz, 3% Riesling) is quite alluring and I am sure I will be adding this to my cellar.

Enjoy my picks for this week. There is lots of good wine to choose from - let me know what you bought! Cheers!

Red Wine:
  • DOMAINE LES YEUSES LES ÉPICES SYRAH 2010 - IGP Pays d’Oc, Midi, France (#177584) (XD) - $13.95
  • CALMEL + J JOSEPH FAUGÈRES 2009 - AC, Midi, France (#310193) (XD) - $16.95
  • FEATHERSTONE CABERNET FRANC 2011 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#64618) (XD) - $16.95  reviewed here
  • HERMANOS PECIÑA SEÑORÍO DE P. PECIÑA CRIANZA 2007 - DOCa Rioja, Spain (#313726) (XD) - $19.95
  • DANDELION VINEYARDS LION’S TOOTH OF MCLAREN VALE SHIRAZ/RIESLING 2010 - McLaren Vale, South Australia (#311233) (D) - $19.95
  • VERSADO MALBEC 2010 - Luján de Cuyo, Mendoza, Argentina (#317008) (XD) - $24.95
  • BERONIA GRAN RESERVA 2005 - DOCa Rioja, Spain (#940965) (XD) - $32.95
  • CHÂTEAU DEYREM VALENTIN 2009 - AC Margaux, Bordeaux, France (#307223) (XD) - $39.95
  • L’AVENTURE OPTIMUS 2010 - Paso Robles, California, USA (#683409) (D) - $58.95
  • CHÂTEAU GRAND MAYNE 2009 - AC Saint-Émilion, Grand Cru Classé, Bordeaux, France (#197848) (XD) - $67.85

White Wine:
  • ROSEWOOD NATALIE’S SÜSSRESERVE RIESLING 2010 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#258806) (M) - $14.95  reviewed here
  • CHÂTEAU DES CHARMES OLD VINES RIESLING 2010 - VQA Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada (#277228) (D) - $16.95  reviewed here
  • BOLLINI PINOT GRIGIO 2011 - DOC, Trentino, Italy (#951319) (XD) - $16.95
  • LIBERTY SCHOOL CHARDONNAY 2011 - Central Coast, California, USA (#960120) (D) - $18.95  reviewed here
  • I CAMPI CAMPO VULCANO SOAVE CLASSICO 2010 - DOC, Veneto, Italy (#269969) (XD) - $18.95
  • CHAVET & FILS LA DAME DE JACQUES CŒUR MENETOU-SALON BLANC 2011 - AC, Loire, France (#525048) (XD) - $19.95
  • VIEIL ARMAND GRAND CRU OLLWILLER RIESLING 2009 - AC Alsace Grand Cru, France (#315135) (XD) - $20.95
  • CALERA CHARDONNAY 2011 - Central Coast, California, USA (#713313) (D) - $24.95
  • THE FOREIGN AFFAIR RIESLING 2009 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#127290) (M) - $24.95
  • BACHELDER SAUNDERS VINEYARD CHARDONNAY 2010 - VQA Beamsville Bench, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#324103) (XD) - $44.95

Dessert Wine:
  • FIELDING ESTATE VIDAL ICEWINE 2010 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#086850) (S) (200 mL) - $22.95
  • MASSANDRA WHITE MUSCAT 2009 - South Coast, Ukraine (#259697) (MS) - $15.95

Sparkling Wine:
  • ARGYLE BRUT SPARKLING WINE 2008 - Willamette Valley, Oregon, USA (#258160) (D) - $29.95

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

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  • Date publishedTuesday, March 19, 2013

Ruffino Chianti Classico Riserva Ducale 2008 (Tuscany) - Wine Review

Received this red wine as a gift earlier this year. It's from the LCBO General List and is made using at least 80% Sangiovese, with the balance being Cabernet and Merlot. This wine was first made in 1927.

RUFFINO CHIANTI CLASSICO RISERVA DUCALE 2008 - DOCG, Tuscany, Italy (#045195) (D) - $24.95

Label photo of 2008 Ruffino Chianti Classico Riserva Ducale from Tuscany, Italy
Tasting Note:
Sweet cedar and meaty aromas from cork. Medium intensity violets, plum, forest floor and tobacco aromas from the glass. Medium-full bodied with dark fruits, boysenberry, anise and herbal notes. Finish is medium-long and spicy, with hints of tobacco and cedar. Tannins are ripe and well-integrated. Has good acidity. Ready to drink now, but could be aged another 1-2 years. It will be enjoyed with one of my favourite dishes - homemade chicken curry.

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  • Date publishedTuesday, March 12, 2013

Mar. 16 LCBO Wine Picks: California Icons + Classic Euro Whites

The next LCBO Vintages release continues the recent promotion California wines - a trend that looks like it will last the entire month of March go into the beginnng of April with the California Wine Fair. The last release focused on the latest Trends in California, while this edition features wines from some of California's most iconic names.

You really can't go wrong with any of the 18 wines that are featured, while, of course, some will offer better value than others. For me, the 2009 Calera de Villiers Vineyard Pinot Noir is one worth pursuing. If you'd like, also get the 2009 Calera Ryan Vineyard Pinot Noir (#058966, $49.95) and compare with the de Villiers Vineyard - same winery, same grape, same vintage, but different vineyard within the Mount Harlen AVA (American Viticultural Area).

The secondary focus in this release is on Classic Euro white wines - Pinot Gris, Riesling and Gewürztraminer are the three classic varietals. From this portion of the release, only the German Gewürztraminer Spätlese made the cut. Also in this release are three Irish Whiskies for St. Patrick's Day, and a maple-syrup-infused whisky from Quebec.

From the rest of the release, we have a 2009 Château de la Dauphine from Bordeaux that is 80% Merlot and 20% Cabernet Franc, and the 2010 Château Hauchat Bordeaux that is 100% Merlot. From the fabulous 2010 southern-Rhone vintage, we have a red wine from Domaine des Amadieu that is made with 60% Grenache, 20% Syrah, and 20% Mourvèdre. The Antinori is one to cellar away for at least few years and consists of 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot, 12% Cabernet Franc, and 3% Petit Verdot.

New wines from this release will be in stores on . Enjoy my picks! Cheers!

Red Wine:
  • CHÂTEAU HAUCHAT 2010 - AC Fronsac, Bordeaux, France (#123489) (XD) - $14.95
  • CHÂTEAU LES ARMES DE BRANDEAU CUVÉE DE LA TRILOGIE 2009 - AC Castillon - Côtes de Bordeaux, France (#308445) (XD) - $16.95
  • DOMAINE DES AMADIEU CUVÉE DES GARRIGUES CAIRANNE 2010 - AC Côtes du Rhône-Villages, France (#310060) (XD) - $17.95
  • FAMILIA MAYOL MALBEC 2009 - Luján de Cuyo, Mendoza, Argentina (#301234) (D) - $18.95
  • CHÂTEAU DE LA DAUPHINE 2009 - AC Fronsac, Bordeaux, France (#209742) (XD) - $29.85
  • CALERA DE VILLIERS VINEYARD PINOT NOIR 2009 - Mt. Harlan, Central Coast, California, USA (#227504) (XD) - $44.95
  • ANTINORI GUADO AL TASSO 2008 - DOC Bolgheri Superiore, Tuscany, Italy (#986380) (XD) - $99.95

White Wine:
  • RUPPERTSBERGER LINSENBUSCH GEWÜRZTRAMINER SPÄTLESE 2011 - Prädikatswein, Pfalz, Germany (#320473) (MS) - $14.95
  • CREEKSIDE LAURA’S WHITE 2010 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#121764) (D) - $18.95
  • LOIMER GRÜNER VELTLINER 2011 - DAC Kamptal, Austria (#142240) (XD) - $19.95
  • DOMAINE CHENEVIÈRES LES GRANDES VIGNES CHABLIS 2011 - AC, La Chapelle-Vaupelteigne, Burgundy, France (#278952) (XD) - $22.95
  • F. TINEL-BLONDELET L’ARRÊT BUFFATTE POUILLY-FUMÉ 2010 - AC, Loire, France (#169730) (XD) - $22.95
  • DECOY CHARDONNAY 2011 - Sonoma County, California, USA (#311555) (D) - $24.95

Sparkling Wine:
  • MARENCO BRACHETTO D’ACQUI - DOCG, Piedmont, Italy (#320002) (S) - $16.95

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

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  • Date publishedTuesday, March 5, 2013

Domaine les Grands Bois Cuvée Philippine Côtes du Rhône-Villages 2010 - Wine Review

Purchased this fabulous red wine from the August 18, 2012 Vintages release. Comprised of Syrah and Grenache, and 15% Carignan, this is a tremendous value from the outstanding 2010 Rhône vintage. that is drinking great now! I can only hope you bought this back in August when I recommended it, because it's essentially not available any longer.


Label photo of Domaine les Grands Bois Cuvée Philippine Côtes du Rhône-Villages 2010
Tasting Note:
Oak and rubber aromas from cork. Medium intensity violet, lavender, blackberries, crushed black fruits and hints of oak aromas from the glass. Medium-full bodied with blackfruits, garrigue, mint and undertones of cocoa on the palate. Oak comes through on the long, smooth finish. Mouth-watering acidity with juicy, ripe tannins that are well-integrated. Nicely balanced throughout, with good structure and clarity. Recommended buy (if you can get your hands on it).

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  • Date publishedTuesday, March 5, 2013

Hope Family Wines - Portfolio Tasting

Hope Family Wines
I had the pleasure of tasting some new wines from the Hope Family Wines portfolio.

The Hope family arrived in Paso Robles (California) in 1978 and current President Austin Hope, at the age of 8 years, began learning in the vineyards alongside his father, Chuck Hope.

In the late 1980's, the Hope Family began selling their grapes to Chuck Wagner of the famous Caymus Vineyards, to produce Wagner's second label - Liberty School. In the mid-90's, the Hope Family acquired the Liberty School label from Chuck Wagner.

Hope Family Wines now encompasses five brands: Liberty School, Treana (est. 1996 and symbolizes the 3 natural elements: the sun, the soil and the ocean), Austin Hope (high-end, hand-crafted wines inspired by northern Rhône), Candor (multi-vintage Zinfandel and Merlot) and Troublemaker (multi-vintage GSM-blends).

The winery continues to be family-owned and operated, while being actively involved within the community. They have their own vineyards, but do source grapes from nearly 50 growers with an eye towards sustainable growing practices. To soften the filtration process of the wine, they recently purchased a made-in-Italy cross-flow filtering machine. Their 2010 Liberty School Cabernet Sauvignon (wine review below) has gone through this machine and the results look very good as it does appear to have more clarity and refinement.

All of these wines (except for the Troublemaker, unfortunately) can be purchased via Trialto Wine Group. Many of these are (or will be soon) available in the Vintages section at the LCBO.

Lineup of Hope Family Wines
Tasting Notes:
LIBERTY SCHOOL CHARDONNAY 2011 - Central Coast, California, USA (#960120) (XD) - $18.95
Consisting of 90% Chardonnay, 5% Viognier, and for the first time 5% Marsanne. Crisp orchard fruit, pear and earth aromas. Full bodied and dry with a creamy mouthfeel and oily texture. Very nice flavours of apple, pear, butter and sweet vanillan. Quite well-balanced with lively acidity. Finish is medium-length. Will be in Vintages on March 30th. Score: 88+ pts

LIBERTY SCHOOL CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2010 - Paso Robles, California, USA (#738823) (XD) - $19.95
Part of the Vintages Essentials collection (i.e. always available). The 2010 just reached the shelves this weekend - if the 2009 is also available, take notice of the new label - it looks much sharper and cleaner! Lovely crushed black fruit, red cherries and cedar oak aromas. Medium-bodied with nice aromas replays on palate, with hints of blueberries and cocoa on the long, smooth finish. Has mouth-watering acidity and velvety tannins. Very nice! Score: 90 pts

LIBERTY SCHOOL SYRAH 2010 - Central Coast, California, USA (#942383) (XD) - $18.95
Was featured as part of the California Trends section of the latest Vintages release and contains small amounts of Viognier. Aromas of dark fruits, mushroom smoked meat, and violet. More dark fruits and violet on the palate, plus blackberry notes. Full-bodied with grippy tannins that are a bit tight. Could use 1-2 years to unwind. Smooth, medium-long finish that's well-balanced. Score: 87 pts

CANDOR LOT 3 ZINFANDEL (NV) - California, USA (#133389) (D) - $21.95
A blend of grapes from Paso Robles and Lodi appellations, from the 2008 (6%), 2009 (78%) and 2010 (16%) vintages. Smells very green with ripe fruits and sour cherry aromas. Medium-bodied, slightly off-dry with notes of raisins, red plums and is slightly jammy. Good acidity with medium-length finish. Will be in Vintages on March 30th. Score: 88

TREANA RED 2009 - Paso Robles, California, USA (#011221) (D) - $39.95
A blend of 70% Cabernet Sauvignon and 30% Syrah and high 15% alc/vol. Dark fruits and sweet vanillan aromas. Full bodied with grippy tannins and very good acidity. More dark fruits, black cherry and oak on the palate with hints of mocha. Has a long finish. Drinking well now, but can be enjoyed over the next 5 years. Score: 90 pts

TROUBLEMAKER (NV) - Paso Robles, California, USA (#) (XD) - $24.95
A blend of 4 grapes (67% Syrah, 22% Mourvedre, 8% Grenache, 3% Petite Sirah) from the 2010 and 2011 vintages. 14.5% alc/vol. Intense smoke and fresh wood plank aromas with undertones of sour cherry. Medium-bodied with flavours of black pepper, raspberry, oak and lots of pepper on the mid-palate. Very well-balanced with very good acidity and a smooth, medium-long finish. Score: 89+ pts

TREANA WHITE 2009 - Central Coast, California, USA (#011247) (M) - $29.95
Fresh floral aromas, plus pineapple and honeysuckle. Medium-bodied with an oily texture. Palate consists of lemon, orange rind and some evident French oak ageing. Nice, long finish. Score: 89 pts.
Lineup of Hope Family Wines

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