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  • Date publishedTuesday, December 31, 2013

Jan. 4 LCBO Wine Picks: Smart Buys

Wine Picks from January 4, 2014 LCBO Vintages Magazine
This is the first LCBO Vintages release of 2014 and, as always, is the annual "Smart Buys" release. New wines will be on shelves across Ontario on . There are 27 wines featured in the "Smart Buys" section and 8 made my list.

For some (strange?) reason, it's extremely rare that a "Wine of the Month" makes my list of wine picks, but this time it did. Perhaps this bodes well for subsequent Wines of the Month in 2014! The Cusumano Noà is one of this release's Wines of the Month and is also part of the Smart Buys feature. It's a blend of 40% Nero d’Avola, 30% Merlot, and 30% Cabernet Sauvignon and definitely a worthy buy.

The 2011 Vacqueyras is featured as a Smart Buy and arrives in Vintages just 2 months after the 2010 was featured. It is a blend of Grenache and Syrah and, interestingly, priced $2 higher than the 2010.

Also from the Smart Buys section is the Valle Las Acequias Oak Malbec and the First Press (oaked) Chardonnay, while the Australian Domaine Tournon Mathilda Shiraz made by the famous Marc Chapoutier saw no oak whatsoever. Both the New Zealand white wines - Gewürztraminer and Sauvignon Blanc - did not touch any oak, which is typical for each varietal. And finally, the crowd-pleasing Flat Rock Riesling is off-dry (medium in sweetness) and comes from a local Niagara winery that focuses on environmental sustainability.

From the rest of the release, I am happy to see the 2011 Bula finally arrive in Vintages this coming weekend. I had the opportunity to taste this full-bodied red wine at the Gourmet Food & Wine Expo in November and it ended up being one of my favourite wines of the night. It's a blend of 40% Carinena, 40% Garnacha (Grenache), and 20% Syrah. I enjoyed it very much and hope you will enjoy it too!

And last but not least, there are a couple of premium Bordeaux reds that are worth your consideration. The Château Caronne Ste. Gemme is a blend of 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, and 5% Petit Verdot, while the Château Grand Village is 75% Merlot and 25% Cab Franc. Both of these wines hail from great, but very different vintages.

Enjoy my wine recommendations for this week! Cheers!

Red Wine:
  • BULA 2011 - DO Montsant, Spain (#292094) (XD) - $16.95  reviewed here
  • VALLE LAS ACEQUIAS OAK MALBEC 2007 - Estate Don Angelino, Medrano, Mendoza, Argentina (#138412) (XD) - $16.95
  • 13TH STREET MERLOT 2012 - VQA Creek Shores, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#270504) (XD) - $17.95
  • CUSUMANO NOÀ 2010 - IGT Sicilia, Italy (#109512) (XD) - $19.95
  • DOMAINE TOURNON MATHILDA SHIRAZ 2011 - Victoria, Australia (#327395) (XD) - $19.95
  • PIERRE AMADIEU LA GRANGELIÈRE VACQUEYRAS 2011 - AC, Rhone, France (#076398) (XD) - $21.95
  • CHÂTEAU GRAND VILLAGE 2010 - AC Bordeaux Supérieur, France (#254805) (XD) - $22.85
  • CHÂTEAU CARONNE STE. GEMME 2009 - AC Haut-Médoc, Bordeaux, France (#191460) (XD) - $25.85

White Wine:
  • VILLA MARIA PRIVATE BIN EAST COAST GEWÜRZTRAMINER 2012 - New Zealand (#357509) (M) - $14.95
  • FLAT ROCK RIESLING 2012 - VQA Twenty Mile Bench, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#043281) (M) - $16.95
  • MOUNT RILEY SAUVIGNON BLANC 2013 - Marlborough, South Island, New Zealand (#981670) (XD) - $17.95
  • FIRST PRESS CHARDONNAY 2011 - Napa Valley, California, USA (#199810) (XD) - $19.95
  • CHATEAU MONTELENA CHARDONNAY 2011 - Napa Valley, California, USA (#701748) (XD) - $59.95

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

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  • Date publishedWednesday, December 11, 2013

Remhoogte Estate Wine 2006 (South Africa) - Wine Review

I thought it would be appropriate to finally open this wine last night as a tribute to Nelson Mandela, on the day of his memorial. Ironically, this winery began its new life when current owners Murray and Juliet Boustred purchased the land in 1994, the year that apartheid ended in South Africa.

This red wine was purchased earlier this year from the February 2nd LCBO Vintages release. And if you're looking to buy this, you will have to wait as this is no longer available at the LCBO.

REMHOOGTE ESTATE WINE 2006 - WO Simonsberg-Stellenbosch, South Africa (#694539) (XD) - $18.95

Wine Review of 2006 Remhoogte Estate Wine from WO Simonsberg-Stellenbosch, South Africa
Tasting Note:
A blend of 40% Merlot, 23% Cabernet Sauvignon, 22% Shiraz, and 15% Pinotage. Plum and oak aromas from the cork. Medium-high intensity aromas of menthol, eucalyptus, licorice and bramble from the glass. Medium-full bodied with lively acids. Palate is warm with spice, mulberry, dark cherry and vanillan oak flavours. Tannis are firm, but ripe. Finishes long, bitter and smooth. Delicious. Could have been aged another 2-3 years, but enjoyable now. Recommended buy. Score: 89 pts

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  • Date publishedSaturday, December 7, 2013

Aimery Grand Cuvée 1531 Crémant De Limoux (Southwest) - Wine Review

This is the second wine sample from the fine folks at Philippe Dandurand, and just in time for the peak season of sparkling wines.

It is not widely known that in 1531 the Limoux region was the first to create sparkling wine - a full one century prior to Dom Perignon - using what is now known as the "Traditional Method". The Grande Cuvée 1531 is a tribute to that first wine and is from the September 28th LCBO Vintages release.

If you didn't find anything you liked from the last release, there are bottles of this fine sparkler available throughout the Ontario. For those that like slightly sweet sparkling wines, you will enjoy this.

AIMERY GRAND CUVÉE 1531 CRÉMANT DE LIMOUX - AC Crémant de Limoux, Southwest, France (#350371) (D) - $19.95

Wine Review of Aimery Grand Cuvée 1531 Crémant De Limoux from France
Tasting Note:
Blend of mostly Chenin Blanc and Chardonnay, and some Pinot Noir. Medium intensity aromas of apple, mineral and chalk from the glass. Palate has flavours of poached apple and nutty notes, along with hints of peach and honey. Medium-bodied with fine mousse that is plentiful. It is off-dry with balanced acids to keep the sweetness in check. Lengthy finish that is slightly bitter and on the dry side. Quite nice and a recommended buy. Score: 88 pts

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  • Date publishedMonday, December 2, 2013

Dec. 7 Wine Picks: Festive Gatherings + Sparkling Wines

LCBO Wine Picks from December 7, 2013 VINTAGES Release
The final release of 2013 will arrive on LCBO shelves on . No surprise that this Vintages release focuses on "Fine Wines for Festive Gatherings", while the sub-focus highlights 20 Sparkling Wines for celebrations.

We'll begin with the Sparkling Wine section as three wines from this feature made my list of wine picks below. All three were picked with budget in mind, and range in price from $18 to $21. The vintage Cava from Spain is a blend of Macabeo, Xarel-lo, and Parellada, while the vintage Prosecco is a fruity sparkler made using 100% Glera. The non-vintage Brut Vouvray is made from the Chenin Blanc grape. All three sparklers are dry (i.e. not sweet) and will suit perfectly to ring in the New Year.

The primary focus of this release highlights 27 wines that would be suitable for your upcoming festive gathering this year or sometime in the future. Five wines made the list, including the Seresin Sauvignon Blanc, and the off-dry (slightly sweet) Alsace Pinot Gris. The red wines to make the list include a Chilean Carmenère, the Saltram Shiraz, and a 2009 Bordeaux blend from Château Bertinerie that consists of 60% Merlot, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 10% Cabernet Franc. The Sauvignon Blanc should be opened over the next 6-12 months, while the other four wines can be enjoyed over the next 3-4 years.

From the rest of the release, there is one really interesting "bottle" called the Raymond Blending Kit (#363366, $294.95), which includes four bottles of single varietal 2012 Napa Valley red wines along with cylinders, pipettes, and instructions to make your own blend. If you weren't already busy during the holidays, this will surely keep you busy and provide pleasure during the month of December.

Other red wines from this release include the Clos Malverne Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot (80/20 blend), which is a great buy at $13.95. Two Grenache-based wines from the fabulous 2010 Rhône vintage also made my picks - the Gigondas is a blend of 80% Grenache and 20% Syrah, while the Châteauneuf-du-Pape is a blend of 65% Grenache, 20% Syrah, 10% Mourvèdre, and 5% Cinsault. Both of these Rhône reds are ageable for at least the next decade And last but not least, the Penfolds Bin 138 is a blend of 65% Shiraz, 20% Grenache, and 15% Mataro and will drink well until at least 2020.

In white wines, I've chosen a few oaked Chardonnays (Liberty School, Cave Spring, Featherstone), as well as an unoaked Chardonnay (Chablis). Both Rieslings I've picked are dry (not sweet). And if you enjoy wines on the sweeter side, you'll want to check out the Gewürztraminer from Alsace, the Botrytis-affected Semillon, and the 10 year old Tawny Port.

Enjoy the holidays with some of my wine recommendations and we'll see you early in 2014 at the Niagara Icewine Festival.

Red Wine:
  • CLOS MALVERNE CABERNET SAUVIGNON/MERLOT 2011 - WO Stellenbosch, South Africa (#678433) (XD) - $13.95
  • JUAN GIL WHITE LABEL DE CEPAS VIEJAS MONASTRELL 2012 - DO Jumilla, Spain (#013656) (D) - $15.95
  • VIÑA CASABLANCA EL BOSQUE CARMENÈRE WINEMAKER'S CHOICE 2010 - Rapel Valley, Chile (#199836) (XD) - $15.95
  • CHÂTEAU BERTINERIE CRU RÉSERVE 2009 - AC Côtes de Bordeaux-Blaye, France (#244640) (XD) - $18.95
  • DANDELION VINEYARDS LIONHEART OF THE BAROSSA SHIRAZ 2011 - Barossa Valley, South Australia (#167189) (XD) - $19.95
  • SALTRAM MAMRE BROOK SHIRAZ 2010 - Barossa, South Australia (#032227) (XD) - $26.95
  • LA FERME DU MONT CÔTES JUGUNDA GIGONDAS 2010 - AP, Rhône, France (#354118) (XD) - $29.95  reviewed here
  • CHURCHILL’S ESTATES TOURIGA NACIONAL 2009 - DOC Douro, Portugal (#351643) (XD) - $30.95
  • PENFOLDS BIN 138 SHIRAZ/GRENACHE/MATARO 2011 - Barossa, South Australia (#468637) (XD) - $39.95
  • DOMAINE CHANTE CIGALE TRADITION CHÂTEAUNEUF-DU-PAPE 2010 - AP, Rhône, France (#194993) (XD) - $41.95

White Wine:
  • ALKOOMI RIESLING 2010 - Frankland River, Western Australia (#269290) (XD) - $17.95
  • JOSEPH CATTIN GEWÜRZTRAMINER 2011 - AC Alsace, France (#224626) (M) - $17.95
  • ANDRÉ BLANCK ET SES FILS CLOS SCHWENDI PINOT GRIS 2012 - AC Alsace, France (#686311) (D) - $18.95
  • LIBERTY SCHOOL CHARDONNAY 2011 - Central Coast, California, USA (#960120) (XD) - $18.95  reviewed here
  • CAVE SPRING ESTATE CSV CHARDONNAY 2011 - VQA Beamsville Bench, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#256552) (XD) - $18.95
  • SERESIN SAUVIGNON BLANC 2012 - Marlborough, South Island, New Zealand (#735043) (XD) - $21.95
  • FEATHERSTONE CANADIAN OAK CHARDONNAY 2011 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#149302) (XD) - $21.95  reviewed here
  • JEAN-MARC BROCARD VAU DE VEY CHABLIS 1ER CRU 2011 - AC, Burgundy, France (#159012) (XD) - $27.95
  • SPERLING VINEYARDS OLD VINES RIESLING 2011 - VQA Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, Canada (#361204) (XD) - $34.95

Sparkling Wine:
  • JUVÉ Y CAMPS CINTA PURPURA RESERVA BRUT CAVA 2009 - DO Cava, Spain (#352864) (XD) - $17.95
  • BRÉDIF BRUT VOUVRAY - AC, Loire, France (#352179) (XD) - $20.95

Dessert Wine:
  • DE BORTOLI NOBLE ONE BOTRYTIS SEMILLON 2009 - Riverina, New South Wales, Australia (#917252) (S) (375 mL) - $31.95

Port Wine:
  • BURMESTER 10 YEARS OLD TAWNY PORT - Btld. 2013, DOC Douro, Portugal (#223958) (S) - $24.95

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

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