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  • Date publishedMonday, July 29, 2013

Cat Amongst The Pigeons Fat Cat Shiraz Cabernet 2008 (Barossa) - Wine Review

As promised in my most recent wine review post, the next wine I open would be a red wine. I can't believe it's been more than 2 months since I last opened a red wine at home!

I purchased this wine back in June of 2011 from a Father's Day release and opened this last night. Unfortunately, it is no longer available at the LCBO.

CAT AMONGST THE PIGEONS FAT CAT SHIRAZ CABERNET 2008 - Barossa Valley, South Australia, Australia (#222042) - $17.95
2008 Cat Amongst The Pigeons Fat Cat Shiraz Cabernet from Barossa Valley, South Australia - Wine Review
Tasting Note:
Blend of 55% Shiraz and 45% Cab. Screw cap. Medium-high intensity aromas of black cherry, currant, cassis, chocolate and tilled earth. Medium-full bodied with a crisp mouthfeel. Ripe fruit on the palate with bumbleberry, blueberry, mint and cedar notes. Chunky tannins are nicely integrated. Crisp acids and medium-long dark chocolate-oak finish. Prime drinking window right now, serve slightly chilled. Was a decent pairing with deliciously made Chicken Korma.

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  • Date publishedMonday, July 29, 2013

Aug. 3 Wine Picks: Refreshing French Whites + Syrah & Shiraz

LCBO Wine Picks - August 8, 2013 Vintages Magazine
The next batch of wines will arrive on LCBO Vintages shelves on . The primary focus in this edition is on refreshing white wines from France. It is a very good selection of wines from various regions throughout France, from a diverse selection of grapes, and ranging in styles from extra dry to medium-sweet.

Of the 11 still wines and 2 sparkling wines featured, I can fully recommend 7 worthy buys from this Vintages release. At the top of my list is the Chevallier Chablis (unoaked Chardonnay) for under $20. If you like extra dry wines (i.e. not sweet), also check out the Picpoul de Pinet. Going up the sweetness level a notch is a Vouvray (Chenin Blanc) from Loire, and a Riesling from Alsace. Not many do a better Gewürztraminer than the Alsace region, and the medium-sweet version from André Blanck is a classic for the varietal. And finally, if you're like me and prefer off-dry styles (i.e. a little sweet) of Sparkling Wine, then take a look at the Montcontour Vouvray that's made in the traditional method, using Chenin Blanc.

The secondary focus of this release uses 7 wines to compare Syrah and Shiraz. In case you didn't know, "Syrah" and "Shiraz" are the same grape. In its ancestral home in France's Rhône Valley, it is known as Syrah. Elsewhere around the globe it is known as either Syrah or Shiraz, based on the style of wine produced. Wines labelled as Syrah tend to be spicier and elegant, while Shiraz tend to be fruitier and full-bodied. I enjoy both styles. I did't find anything too interesting among these 7 wines, but did find a lovely Australian Shiraz elsewhere in the magazine for those with deeper pockets.

From the rest of the release, the following wines all have a Syrah-component as part of its blend, which adds body, tannic structure and blueberry/red berry flavours. See if you can detect its presence! The Poggio al Tesoro is mostly Syrah, with Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon added. The Cuvée Hector & Juliette is a blend of 90% Syrah and 10% Grenache. The Vacqueyras is also a blend of Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre, Carignan. And finally, the Xavier is a Grenache-Mourvèdre-Syrah blend with most of the vines over 75 years old.

In other reds, we also have the Noblaie Chinon that is made using 100% Cabernet Franc from 30-year-old vines, while the LAN Reserva is a blend of 80% Tempranillo, 10% Mazuelo (Carignan), and 10% Garnacha (Grenache).

If you like fresh and extra dry rosé wines, we have the Coeur Clementine that's made with 30% Grenache, 30% Cinsault, 30% Tibouren, and 10% Syrah, while the Bandol Rosé is a blend of Mourvèdre, Grenache and Cinsault.

Enjoy my wine picks for this week! Cheers!

Red Wine:
  • DOMAINE DE LA NOBLAIE CHINON 2010 - AC, Loire, France (#325639) (XD) - $15.95
  • FEATHERSTONE CABERNET FRANC 2011 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#64618) (XD) - $16.95  reviewed here
  • BERNARD ALIAS CUVÉE HECTOR & JULIETTE CORBIÈRES 2010 - AC, Midi, France (#340984) (XD) - $17.95
  • BODEGAS LAN RESERVA 2007 - DOCa Rioja, Spain (#042929) (XD) - $21.95
  • POGGIO AL TESORO MEDITERRA 2010 - IGT Toscana, Italy (#333567) (XD) - $23.95
  • TAWSE LAUNDRY VINEYARD CABERNET FRANC 2010 - VQA Lincoln Lakeshore, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#130997) (XD) - $31.95  reviewed here
  • ST. HALLETT BLACKWELL SHIRAZ 2009 - Barossa, South Australia (#535104) (XD) - $34.95
  • XAVIER CHÂTEAUNEUF-DU-PAPE 2010 - AP, Rhône, France (#244814) (XD) - $39.95

White Wine:
  • DOMAINE DES LAURIERS PRESTIGE PICPOUL DE PINET 2011 - AP Languedoc, France (#336222) (XD) - $13.95
  • PEDRO ESCUDERO FUENTE ELVIRA VERDEJO 2011 - DO Rueda, Spain (#218313) (XD) - $15.95
  • ANDRÉ BLANCK ALTENBURG GEWÜRZTRAMINER 2012 - AC Alsace, France (#168906) (MS) - $18.95
  • DOMAINE CHEVALLIER CHABLIS 2010 - AC, Burgundy, France (#112227) (XD) - $19.95
  • MARC BRÉDIF VOUVRAY 2011 - AC, Loire, France (#685362) (D) - $19.95
  • RITUAL SAUVIGNON BLANC 2011 - Casablanca Valley, Chile (#328401) (XD) - $19.95
  • ROLLY GASSMANN RIESLING 2009 - AC Alsace, France (#328898) (D) - $20.95
  • GLORIA FERRER ESTATE CHARDONNAY 2009 - Carneros, California, USA (#083345) (XD) - $22.95
  • ALAIN GEOFFROY BEAUROY 1er CRU CHABLIS 2011 - AC, Burgundy, France (#733501) (XD) - $27.95
  • PAUL HOBBS CHARDONNAY 2010 - Russian River Valley, Sonoma County, California, USA (#329615) (D) - $49.95

Rosé Wine:
  • COEUR CLEMENTINE CÔTES DE PROVENCE ROSÉ 2012 - AC, Provence, France (#326603) (XD) - $14.95
  • LA CADIERENNE CUVÉE GRANDE TRADITION BANDOL ROSÉ 2012 - AC, Provence, France (#119453) (XD) - $18.95

Sparkling Wine:
  • CHÂTEAU MONCONTOUR TÊTE DE CUVÉE BRUT VOUVRAY - AC, Loire, France (#207936) (D) - $16.95

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

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  • Date publishedWednesday, July 24, 2013

La Ferme Du Mont Wine Tasting with Stéphane Vedeau

La Ferme Du Mont
On , I attended a wine tasting luncheon hosted by Eurovintage Wines & Spirits that was held at Café Nicole, inside the Novotel Toronto Centre. The purpose of this tasting was to sample a portfolio of wines from the southern Rhône winery - La Ferme Du Mont. Leading the tasting was none other than Owner and Winemaker at La Ferme Du Mont - Stéphane Vedeau.

La Ferme Du Mont is a family-owned and operated winery based in southern Rhône. All of their wines are organic - the vineyards are chemical- and pesticide-free, and only organic fertilizers are used. The cellars are also gravity-fed. All of this is to grow grapes naturally and in harmony with the environment, while also being gentler with the grapes.

Stéphane uses natural yeasts in his wines and in very wide, open tanks. This affects the tannins by making them softer, which was perceptible in the wines tasted at the luncheon. In all, we tasted 5 wines to go with a 5-course tasting menu, along with a special surprise brought in by the winemaker. We finished off our meal with a chocolate tuxedo cup filled with fresh fruits.

Overall, the results of these organic wines are impeccable, as you will see from my tasting notes below. No longer should there be any hesitation towards buying organic wines, as the quality has definitely arrived. A couple of these wines you will find at the LCBO, while you can purchase nearly all of these directly from Eurovintage.

Seared Scallop with Avocado Purée accompanied by 2011 Côtes du Rhône "La Truffière"

LA FERME DU MONT LA TRUFFIÈRE 2011 - AC Côtes du Rhône, France (#234716) (XD) - $15.95
This white wine is a blend of 50% Grenache blanc, 40% Viognier, and 10% Clairette and matured in concrete vats for at least 8 months. Quite aromatic with crisp, fresh herbal, pear, floral and mineral aromas, along with hints of mushroom. Crisp acidity on the medium-bodied palate with floral, leesy, lemon, and grapefruit notes. Extra dry, medium-long finish. Pairs well with lighter seafood dishes, and could also be enjoyed on its own on the patio. Was part of the July 20 Vintages release and still available. Score: 88+ pts

Tomato & Bocconcini with Balsamic Reduction a top Garlic Focaccia Crostini accompanied by 2009 Côtes du Rhône "Première Côte"

LA FERME DU MONT PREMIÈRE CÔTE 2009 - AC Côtes du Rhône, France (#251645) (XD) - $15.95
Blend of 60% Grenache, 30% Syrah and 10% Mourvèdre. Medium-intensity aromas of plum, blackberry and hints of currants. Palate is medium-bodied with flavours of blackberry liquer, kirsch, black currant, cherry and spice. Light tannic grip and a finish that is a touch hot. Could be enjoyed now or in 3-4 years. Paired with bocconcini sandwiched between slices of tomato in between layers of tomato, and all topped with a balsamic reduction and a side of garlic focaccia crostini. The pairing was well done as the cheese helped cut through the tannin, while the balsamic and tomato added fresh acidity to wine to create a vibrant mouthfeel. Score: 88 pts

Brie, Asparagus and Pesto Aioli accompanied by 2011 Côtes du Rhône Villages "Le Ponnant"

This red wine was one of my top picks from the June 22 Vintages release (and plenty still in stock). Grenache-dominated blend. Medium-high intensity aromas of lush blackberry, black fruits, and hints of oak. Medium-full bodied with smooth, integrated tannins. Complex palate consists of dark currants, exotic spices, and hints of violets and oak. Has mouth-watering acidity and a lingering finish. The brie served with pesto aioli coated the tannins very nicely leading to a very elegant pairing. Very nice and highly recommended! Score: 90 pts

2011 Châteauneuf-du-Pape Vendange Blanc

This was not originally on the menu, but Stéphane was kind enough to share a bottle from his suitcase. Quite rare to find a white Chateauneuf-du-Pape. This was bottle #434 of 500, and made using Grenache blanc, Marsanne and 5% late-harvested Roussanne. Low-medium intensity citrus, flowers and lemon aromas. Medium-bodied with a chalky mouthfeel. Lemon, fresh flowers, and hints of tropical fruit palate that is bordering on off-dry. Medium-long finish. Score: 88 pts

Stéphane Vedeau - La Ferme Du Mont

LA FERME DU MONT GIGONDAS CÔTES JUGUNDA 2010 - AC, Rhône, France (#354118) (XD) - $29.95
Blend of 80% Grenache and 20% Syrah. Medium-intensity aromas of ripe red fruits and red currants that are clear and focused. Medium-full bodied with currant, spice and cedar flavours on the palate. Smooth, velvety tannins and a medium-long finish. Would pair nicely with seasoned poultry. Score: 90 pts

Grilled Lamb Chop with Melted Blue Cheese served with Cous Cous accompanied by 2010 Châteauneuf-du-Pape Côtes Capelan

LA FERME DU MONT CHÂTEAUNEUF-DU-PAPE CÔTES CAPELAN 2010 - AC, Rhone, France (#078857) (XD) - $63.00
Another blend with 80% Grenache (some vines 50+ years old), 10% Syrah, and 10% Mourvèdre. Black licorice, milk chocolate and black fruit aromas. Black currants, kirsch, coconut, and milk chocolate on the palate. Mouth-watering acidity. Full-bodied with big, yet silky smooth, tannins. Could be aged at least 10 years, but drinking great right now. This wine is meant for red meats, and was paired with a grilled lamb chop topped with melted blue cheese, over a bowl of cous cous. Score: 93 pts

Chocolate Tuxedo Cup that was Filled with Fruits

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  • Date publishedMonday, July 22, 2013

Inniskillin Winemaker's Series Two Vineyards Riesling 2011 (Ontario) - Wine Review

My usual trend of opening wines at home is to switch between red and white wines, but looking back my recent tasting notes, including last night's wine, I see that I've now opened 4 whites in a row! I think we know that the next one MUST be a red.

Sunday night's wine was received as a gift back in May and I chose to open it on this night because of guests that typically enjoy the sweeter style of the wine spectrum.

INNISKILLIN WINEMAKER'S SERIES TWO VINEYARDS RIESLING 2011 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#105387) (D) - $14.75

2011 Inniskillin Winemaker's Series Two Vineyards Riesling from VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada
Tasting Note:
Screw cap. Medium-high intensity petrol dominates the nose with pleasant floral undertones and notable mandarin oranges. Lively acidity and medium-bodied with nice aroma replays, plus slate on palate. Off-dry (slightly sweet). Finish is long finish with slate + delicious honey coming to the fore. Reminds me of a Mosel. Flavours were very complementary when paired with Dungeness crab curry. However, it paired really well with Vidal Icewine Jelly (from Niagara) & Crackers. Enjoyable overall. Score: 87 pts

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  • Date publishedWednesday, July 17, 2013

Peller Estates Private Reserve Chardonnay 2010 (Ontario) - Wine Review

Last winter, during the Icewine Festival, I visited Peller Estates to redeem my "Dinner For Two" prize package. At the end of our lovely dinner, they offered me 2 wines that I could take home, compliments of the Chef. One of those wines I opened tonight (the other is still in my cellar) to celebrate the upcoming International Cool Climate Chardonnay Celebration that is taking place in Niagara this weekend. This wine is not available at the LCBO.

We'll be discussing cool-climate Chardonnays on Twitter tonight (Wednesday) at 10pm EDT using the hashtag #ONwinechat. Join us!

PELLER ESTATES PRIVATE RESERVE CHARDONNAY 2010 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#) (XD) - $18.95

Label photo of 2010 Peller Estates Private Reserve Chardonnay, VQA Niagara Peninsula from Ontario, Canada
Tasting Note:
Screw cap. Fragrant and fresh apple, butter and floral aromas with hints of pear. Crisp acidity and light- to medium bodied on the spicy palate. Slightly oily texture. Flavours of orchard fruits, lemon, biscuit and hints of floral. Smooth, lingering finish. At first glance, this isn't the ideal pairing for chicken shawarma, but in actual fact it did pair quite nicely, balancing well overall with no edginess from either the food or the wine.

Chicken Shawarma topped with Mild Nando's Piri Piri Sauce

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  • Date publishedMonday, July 15, 2013

July 20 Wine Picks: BBQ + Cool-Climate Chardonnay

July 20, 2013 Vintages Magazine - Wine Picks
The next Vintages release will be on LCBO shelves across the province on . The major focus in this release is on wines for the BBQ - perfectly timed as we get into the hot days of Summer. Of the 20 wines featured - including a surprising white wine and a rosé - 3 of 20 wines made my list. At the top of this short list of wines for the BBQ is the Portuguese Porca de Murça - a blend of Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca, and Tinta Roriz that is perfectly suitable for lamb. Also very good choices are the Tuscan Mazzei Badiola (70% Sangiovese, 30% Merlot) and the Las Moras Bonarda (100%) from Argentina.

The secondary feature is on cool-climate Chardonnays, showcasing 12 wines from various parts of the world, including Ontario, South Africa, Burgundy and Spain. This feature coincides with the 4th annual i4c International Cool Climate Chardonnay celebration that takes place in Niagara. This year, the celebration will take place next weekend, from July 19-21.

Personally, I love Chardonnay, from oaked to unoaked styles. In this release, there are 4 cool climate Chardonnays worth my recommendation. The Château des Charmes Chardonnay Musqué is a highly aromatic clone of the Chardonnay grape and is unoaked. Also of the unoaked variety is the Chablis. For oaked-Chardonnay fans, check out the Hamilton Russell and the Bachelder Chardonnays.

From the rest of the release, the Domaine de Bila-Haut is a blend of Syrah, Grenache and Carignan, while the Vacqueyras is a blend of 65% Grenache, 20% Syrah, and 15% Mourvèdre. The Baron de Ley is 90% Tempranillo and 10% "other". And finally, the Rosé from Loire is made with 100% Cabernet Franc.

As a reminder, you can click on the product code (#xxxxxx) to take you to the Vintages website to view stock levels of the wine you're interested in. It will also show where you can find your wine. Inventory levels are updated daily, so check the next day if you don't see it listed by Saturday.

Enjoy my wine picks for the week and happy BBQ-ing! Cheers!

Red Wine:
  • LAS MORAS BLACK LABEL BONARDA 2010 - San Juan, Argentina (#260901) (XD) - $15.95
  • SISTER’S RUN EPIPHANY SHIRAZ 2011 - McLaren Vale, South Australia (#269464) (XD) - $16.95
  • PORCA DE MURÇA RESERVA TINTO 2010 - DOC Douro, Portugal (#684753) (XD) - $17.95
  • COLUMBIA CREST GRAND ESTATES CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2009 - Columbia Valley, Washington, USA (#240093) (XD) - $17.95
  • CARMEN GRAN RESERVA CARMENÈRE 2011 - El Peñasco Vineyard, Apalta, Colchagua Valley, Chile (#439166) (D) - $17.95
  • MAZZEI BADIOLA 2010 - IGT Toscana, Italy (#662197) (XD) - $18.95
  • QUINTA DE VENTOZELO TOURIGA NACIONAL 2009 - DOC Douro, Portugal (#657452) (D) - $19.95
  • DOMAINE DE BILA-HAUT OCCULTUM LAPIDEM 2010 - AC Côtes du Roussillon-Villages Latour de France, Midi (#643239) (XD) - $24.95
  • ROMAIN DUVERNAY VACQUEYRAS 2010 - AP, Rhône, France (#280966) (D) - $26.95
  • BARON DE LEY GRAN RESERVA 2004 - DOCa Rioja, Spain (#642496) (XD) - $29.95

White Wine:
  • CHÂTEAU DES CHARMES CHARDONNAY MUSQUÉ 2010 - VQA Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada (#640516) (XD) - $16.95
  • FRAMINGHAM SAUVIGNON BLANC 2012 - Marlborough, South Island, New Zealand (#606848) (XD) - $17.95
  • DUCK POND CELLARS PINOT GRIS 2011 - Willamette Valley, Oregon, USA (#333286) (D) - $18.95
  • ROLLY GASSMANN ROTLEIBEL DE RORSCHWIHR AUXERROIS 2007 - AC Alsace, France (#328872) (M) - $19.95
  • HAMILTON RUSSELL CHARDONNAY 2011 - WO Hemel-en-Aarde Valley, South Africa (#931006) (XD) - $32.95
  • CHARLES BAKER PICONE VINEYARD RIESLING 2010 - VQA Vinemount Ridge, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#241182) (M) - $35.20
  • BILLAUD-SIMON VAILLONS CHABLIS 1ER CRU 2009 - AC, Burgundy, France (#330175) (XD) - $35.95
  • BACHELDER WISMER VINEYARD CHARDONNAY 2010 - VQA Twenty Mile Bench, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#345819) (XD) - $44.95

Rosé Wine:
  • COULY-DUTHEIL RENÉ COULY CHINON ROSÉ 2012 - AC, Loire, France (#323360) (D) - $15.95
  • FLAT ROCK CELLARS PINOT NOIR ROSÉ 2012 - VQA Twenty Mile Bench, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#039974) (XD) - $16.95

Honey Wine:

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

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  • Date publishedThursday, July 11, 2013

Lapostolle Tasting with Charles de Bournet Marnier Lapostolle

Lapostolle logo
I attended an exclusive tasting with Charles de Bournet Marnier Lapostolle at the Trialto Wine Group's office in downtown Toronto. Charles represents the 7th generation of the Marnier-Lapostolle winemaking family and was recently named Chief Executive Officer of the company's Chilean arm.

Lapostolle was founded in 1994 by Charles' parents Alexandra Marnier and Cyril de Bournet. Alexandra Marnier is the great grand-daughter of the creator of the famous brandy liqueur - Grand Marnier. They chose to expand their wine production to Chile because it was (and still is) free of phylloxera. A major reason why Chile is free of this disease is because its longitudinal borders - the Andes Mountains to the East and the Pacific Ocean to the West - help to naturally protect the vines from this grape-killing disease.

Lapostolle's first ever wine was the 1994 Sauvignon Blanc. I tasted their latest iteration (the 2012) on this evening and compared it with a Sauvignon Blanc from Lapostolle's French arm - Château de Sancerre in the Loire Valley. Tasting notes for these two wines, along with the other 4 wines I tasted are below.

My favourite wine of the evening was the Carmenère, for which Chile is famously known for, and I personally love. This varietal's leaves turn red first, before all other grapes. The shade of red is called "Carmin". It is from this interesting fact that the grape gets its name - Carmenère.

The winery is very much devoted to help protecting our environment. 100% of their vineyards certified organic. All of their vineyards are also certified biodynamic, creating self-sustainable eco-systems. One of the ways they help protect the environment is by using the cool-maceration process. Grapes are picked at night  when it's cooler (who wants to pick grapes during the hot, Chilean day?) so the freshness of the flavours are captured. This also eliminates the need to machine-cool the grapes.

It was a pleasure to meet Charles, he is very knowledgeable and passionate about wine. I am sure he could talk about wine for hours (in a good way). I look forward to seeing him again and visit Lapostolle's estate when I visit Chile. Perhaps I'll even get the chance to pick some grapes. =)

Lapostolle line-up of glasses

Tasting Notes:
CASA LAPOSTOLLE SAUVIGNON BLANC 2012 - Rapel Valley, Chile (#321554) (XD) - $14.95
From the LCBO General List and always available, the 2012 version has herbaceous, citrus, lemon rind, butter aromas of medium intensity. Palate is medium-bodied and extra dry with unexpected pear and butter notes. Nice acidity with a lingering finish that shows hints of spice. Also contains 8% Semillón and 2% Sauvignon Gris. Easy drinking and food friendly. Score: 88 pts

CHÂTEAU DE SANCERRE BLANC 2011 - Loire, France (#340893) (XD) - $25.95
100% Sauvignon Blanc. This version from Loire has aromas of fresh tropical fruits and herbal/green notes. Light-bodied with crisp acidity, flavour profile consists of herbal, mineral, and slate. Zippy acidity goes into high gear mid-palate, but tapers quickly thereafter. Length finish and highly recommended to serve with food. Score: 89 pts

CASA LAPOSTOLLE CUVÉE ALEXANDRE CHARDONNAY 2011 - Atalayas Vineyard, Casablanca Valley, Chile (#947937) (D) - $20.75
Made with organic grapes, quite aromatic with smooth and pleasing butter, apple and pear. Creamy and oily on the medium-full bodied frame, and lovely aroma replays. Balanced, long finish. Good acidity for pairing with food. Very nice! Score: 90 pts

CASA LAPOSTOLLE CASA GRAND SELECTION CARMENÈRE 2011 - Rapel Valley, Chile (#168740) (XD) - $15.95
Blended with 6% Merlot and 5% Syrah. Lovely red & black fruits, meaty, earthy and wood aromatics. Full-bodied with nice aroma replays. Mouth-watering acidity and a long, smooth finish. Shows great balance with nicely integrated tannins. Could be aged 2 years, but is definitely (very) enjoyable now! Amazing that this is part of the LCBO General List. My favourite of the tasting. Highly recommended. Score: 90 pts

CASA LAPOSTOLLE CUVÉE ALEXANDRE MERLOT 2011 - Apalta Vineyard, Colchagua Valley, Chile (#459206) (XD) ~ $35
Made with organic grapes and also contains 15% Syrah. Aromas of black fruits, planked wood and meaty notes. Full-bodied with crushed black fruits and cherry flavours, with hints of mint and cedar. Big tannins are integrating nicely. Well-balanced overall with mouth-watering acidity. Subtle hints of spice on the medium-length finish. Still a bit young, I would give this another year or two in cellar. Expect this red wine to be in Vintages in the Fall. Score: 90 pts

CASA LAPOSTOLLE CUVÉE ALEXANDRE CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2011 - Apalta Vineyard, Colchagua Valley, Chile (#947929) (XD) ~ $25
Made with organic grapes and is blended with 7% Cab Franc and 5% Syrah. Low-to-medium intensity aromas of cassis, red fruits and oak aromas. Full-bodied with chalky tannins that are integrating nicely. Cedar, black fruit, cassis and sour cherry on the palate. Mouth-watering acidity and a smooth, lengthy finish. Expected in Vintages this Fall. Score: 90 pts

Lapostolle bottle lineup

Charles de Bournet Marnier Lapostolle discussing wine & leading the tasting

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  • Date publishedSunday, July 7, 2013

#TOWineDinner at The Miller Tavern on Bay - June 2013

On , I joined fellow food and wine folks at The Miller Tavern on Bay for the thrice yearly(?) #TOWineDinner. The event was organized by @TylerOnWine, and in attendance were @EssexWineReview, @GrapeSelections, @KristaLamb, @WhitbyFoodie, @WhitbyWino, @WineGPCi and @YYZdesign. And crashing the party towards the end, we welcomed @Vinetopia.

#TOWineDinner line-up

The format was very casual, we ordered whatever we liked off the menu for our appetizer, main, and if we were up for it - dessert. We also indulged in a charcuterie platter to start the night.

Everyone who attended brought (at least) one bottle of wine to share with the group and also shared their story about how they came to own that bottle of wine. One story seemed entirely made up, and provided 100% entertainment value. =) Wines were opened one at a time, over the course of the evening. We talked about the wine at great length before moving on to the next bottle. In all, there were 10 bottles of wine.

This was my first #TOwinedinner, and, reflecting back, it was a fun night overall. Everyone got to taste some wines that they otherwise probably would not have had the chance to taste. We laughed, wined, dined, and enjoyed each other's company. As always, it was great to meet some new winos! I am sure planning for the next #TOwinedinner is already in the works and I personally can't wait to do it all over again. Below you will find tasting notes along with food pairings.

The first bottle of the evening was a Cremant Sparkling Wine and was sabered by Tyler Philp outside on the patio. Here's my video recording:

Grapefruit and lemon rind aromas. Fine mousse with balanced aroma replays on the dry palate. Mid-palate is a little bumpy, while the finish is long and quite smooth. Score: 87+ pts

Louis Bouillot Perle d'Aurore Brut Rosé Crémant de Bourgogne2004 Josmeyer Gewürztraminer Brand

For my appetizer, I ordered the Fried Mozzarella sticks with Marinara dipping sauce. A rather simple dish, with simple flavours, but it paired really well with the dry Chardonnay. The sweeter Gewürztraminer and Riesling Spätlese both offered good acidity to allow it to pair well with the fried cheese, but flavours in the wines were more conducive to sipping them on their own on this night.

BURROWING OWL CHARDONNAY 2009 - VQA Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, Canada (#208694) (XD) - $35.95
Medium-intensity and inviting aromas of smoke, pear and hints of sweet fruit. Creamy mouthfeel and medium to full bodied, this white wine has flavours of butterscotch and orchard fruits. Laser-focused acidity and medium-long finish. One of my favourites of the evening. Score: 90 pts

JOSMEYER GEWÜRZTRAMINER BRAND 2004 - AOC Alsace Grand Cru, France (#) (D) - $????
Lovely peach, lychee and hints of honey and lime aromas. Creamy and oily viscosity. Lychee and peach on the palate with a lingering, dry finish. Aromas are much sweeter than palate would suggest. Good acidity and well-balanced. Is ageing gracefully and could last a few more years. Score: 91 pts

Medium intensity beeswax and mineral aromas with hints of petrol. Nice floral notes off the mark, with balanced aromas replays following. Quite sweet, but the high acidity really cuts the sweetness down. Finish is medium-long. Score: 89 pts

My main meal of the night was the Adobo Chicken Taco. These were soft taco shells wrapped in grilled chicken, roasted poblano & sweet peppers, goat cheese, sour cream and Adobo sauce. Except for some mild smokiness, there were no strong, intense flavours from the tacos, thus lending itself to be paired quite nicely with all of the red wines.

2005 Alain Hudelot-Noellat Chambolle-Musigny2009 Tulip Syrah Reserve2007 Creekside Lost Barrel Red

ALAIN HUDELOT-NOELLAT CHAMBOLLE-MUSIGNY 2005 - Burgundy, France (#979252) (XD) - $59.95
Medium-intensity aromas of sour cherry, red fruits and hints of earth. Sour cherry, bramble and red fruits on the long-finishing palate. Mouth-watering acidity and good tannins. Will continue to drink well 3-4 years from now. Score: 91 pts

ROSEWOOD MERLOT 2010 - VQA Niagara Escarpment, Ontario, Canada (#211896) (XD) - $22.00
First tasted (and enjoyed) last Fall, this red wine now has medium-high intensity inky, cedar and blackberry jam aromas. Medium-bodied with crisp acidity, palate is spicy with blackberry, black fruits and oak. Score: 87 pts

TULIP SYRAH RESERVE 2009 - Upper Galilee, Israel (XD) ~ $28
Quite intense aromas of fresh black and red fruits, ink and oak. Medium-bodied and very spicy on the palate with flavours of black fruits, violets and a steely quality. Good acidity for pairing with foods, and firm tannins will reward with 2-3 years cellar time. Finish is medium-length. Score: 89 pts

CREEKSIDE LOST BARREL RED 2007 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#) (XD) - $65
From the great 2007 vintage, this red wine was crafted from a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Shiraz, and Malbec (exact quantities unknown). Intense aromas of lovely black fruits, cedar and plum. Medium-bodied dark fruits, plum, cassis, blackberry and some eucalyptus flavours. Complex. Big wine with very grippy tannins. I would cellar this another 2-3 years. Favourite red of the evening! Score: 91+ pts

I paired the final two wines of the evening with the daily dessert special - a large and decadent Chocolate Peanut Brownie topped with Ice Cream. Both wines were sweet and delicious by themselves, but could not hold their own against this very sweet creation.

2009 Stoney Ridge Passion2007 Royal Tokaji 5 Puttonyos Tokaji Aszú Red Label

STONEY RIDGE PASSION 2009 - VQA Ontario, Canada (#) (MS) - $24.95
Fortified wine made with 50% Cabernet Franc Icewine, and the rest Baco Noir and Cabernet Sauvignon. Rich, dried fruit with a mix of blackberry/strawberry jam aromas. Very smooth on the medium-full bodied palate with flavours of blackcurrant, cassis and sweet black fruit. Long, smooth finish. Delicious! One of the favourites of the evening. Only available at the winery. Score: 90 pts

ROYAL TOKAJI 5 PUTTONYOS TOKAJI ASZÚ RED LABEL 2007 - Hungary (#959031) (S) (500 mL) - $41.00
Medium-high intensity and charming aromas of honey, apricots and hints of orange marmalade. Medium-bodied palate with notes of orange, apricots and honey. Sweet, but has good acidity so as to not feel cloying. Very clean, smooth and lengthy finish, while showing great balance throughout. Score: 91 pts

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  • Date publishedMonday, July 1, 2013

Lailey Chardonnay 2010 (Ontario) - Wine Review

With it being Canada Day today, it's only appropriate to drink Canadian wine. As such, I've chosen this locally made Chardonnay from Ontario. It was purchased from last September's Vintages release, which focused on wines from Ontario. This delicious white wine is still available in very small quantities throughout the GTA.

LAILEY CHARDONNAY 2010 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#193482) (XD) - $19.95

Lailey Chardonnay 2010 from VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada
Tasting Note:
From the very good 2010 vintage. Yellow apple and tropical fruit aromas from the cork. Fresh, ripe aromas of tropical fruits (pineapple), apple, butter, popcorn, and hints of barnyard on the nose. Medium-bodied and a crisp mouthfeel with flavours of butterscotch, apple, and tangy tropical notes. Slight creaminess on the mid-palate. Hints of smoke on the long, smooth finish. Delicious! Enjoyed with homemade Halibut and Chips and Onion Rings.

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  • Date publishedMonday, July 1, 2013

July 6 Wine Picks: Cali Wines + Pure Whites

Wine Picks: July 6, 2013 LCBO Vintages Release
The next Vintages wine release will be on LCBO shelves this . The major feature in this edition is on California wines for Summer gatherings. What you'll find among the 17 wines are many easy-drinking wines suitable as patio sippers, and for backyard gatherings where meals are prepared on the BBQ. Among my recommendations below, you will find a sub-$20 Cali Pinot and a couple of premium whites - a Viognier and Chardonnay.

The secondary feature is titled "Pure Pleasure" and focuses on white wines that have had minimal intervention in the winery. Thus, the 10 wines featured show off their true varietal character, along with the nuances that their terroir brings with it. From this portion of the release, the Hidden Bench Riesling, an Austrian Grüner Veltliner, and a Spanish Albariño are all worth checking out.

From the rest of the release, the Peter Zemmer red wine is made with the Lagrein varietal. This grape is native to northern Italy and rarely shows up at the LCBO. The Château de Panigon is a blend of 50% Merlot, 45% Cabernet Sauvignon and 5% Petit Verdot. I tasted the Featherstone Rosé recently at the Niagara New Vintage Wine Festival and is a blend of 52% Gamay and 48% Merlot. And finally, the Garenne Bandol Rosé is made with 50% Grenache, 30% Cinsault and 20% Mourvèdre.

Enjoy my wine picks for this week! Cheers!

Red Wine:
  • CHÂTEAU DES CHARMES ST. DAVID’S BENCH VINEYARD GAMAY NOIR DROIT 2010 - VQA St. David’s Bench, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#346742) (XD) - $16.95
  • PETER ZEMMER RAUT LAGREIN 2011 - DOC Alto Adige-Südtirol, Piedmont, Italy (#326918) (XD) - $17.95
  • PINYOLET GARNACHA 2011 - DO Montsant, Spain (#271791) (XD) - $17.95
  • CHÂTEAU DE PANIGON 2010 - AC Médoc, Bordeaux, France (#230367) (XD) - $18.95
  • CHÂTEAU DES CHARMES OLD VINES CABERNET/MERLOT 2010 - VQA Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada (#222372) (XD) - $19.95
  • CLINE PINOT NOIR 2011 - Sonoma Coast, California, USA (#329649) (XD) - $19.95
  • COLLEFRISIO UNO MONTEPULCIANO D’ABRUZZO 2008 - DOC, Abruzzo, Italy (#337857) (XD) - $19.95
  • MAZZEI SER LAPO CHIANTI CLASSICO RISERVA 2008 - DOCG, Tuscany, Italy (#288530) (XD) - $24.95

White Wine:
  • MARTÍN CÓDAX ALBARIÑO 2011 - DO Rías Baixas, Spain (#984906) (XD) - $17.95
  • DOMAINES DU CHÂTEAU DE RIQUEWIHR LES MURAILLES RIESLING 2008 - AC Alsace, France (#933069) (XD) - $19.95
  • RABL KÄFERBERG GRÜNER VELTLINER 2011 - Kamptal Reserve, Austria (#032532) (D) - $19.95
  • BOLLIG-LEHNERT DHRONER HOFBERGER RIESLING AUSLESE 2009 - Prädikatswein, Mosel, Germany (#313536) (MS) - $21.95  reviewed here
  • SERESIN SAUVIGNON BLANC 2011 - Marlborough, South Island, New Zealand (#735043) (D) - $21.95
  • HIDDEN BENCH ESTATE RIESLING 2011 - VQA Beamsville Bench, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#183491) (XD) - $23.95  reviewed here
  • STAGS’ LEAP WINERY VIOGNIER 2012 - Napa Valley, California, USA (#597369) (XD) - $36.95
  • RIDGE VINEYARDS ESTATE CHARDONNAY 2011 - Santa Cruz Mountains, California, USA (#241646) (XD) - $55.95

Rosé Wine:
  • FEATHERSTONE ROSÉ 2012 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#117861) (D) - $14.95
  • DOMAINE DE LA GARENNE BANDOL ROSÉ 2012 - AP, Provence, France (#323550) (XD) - $19.95
  • SOUTHBROOK TRIOMPHE ORGANIC CABERNET FRANC ROSÉ 2012 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#279117) (D) - $19.95

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

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