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  • Date publishedTuesday, February 25, 2014

Domaine Lafage Cuvée Centenaire 2011 (Midi) - Wine Review

This white wine was purchased from last October's LCBO Vintages release with the intention of opening it sooner rather than later. For dry white wine lovers, I hope you bought this when I recommended it because it's very good, as you will see from my wine review below and there is virtually nothing left at the LCBO.

DOMAINE LAFAGE CUVÉE CENTENAIRE 2011 - AC Côtes du Roussillon, Midi, France (#343491) (XD) - $17.95

Wine Review of 2011 Domaine Lafage Cuvée Centenaire from AC Côtes du Roussillon, Midi, France
Tasting Note:
Blend of 80% Grenache Blanc and Grenache Gris, and 20% Roussanne. Lemon, mineral and floral aromas from the cork. Quite aromatic with nice florals, wet rock, pleasing barnyard and hints of peach notes. Light weight, with fresh, crisp acids on the palate. Complex flavour profile featuring white peach, acacia flowers, elegant spice, and herbs. Dry with good structure and a long, mouth-watering finish. Highly recommended. Score: 90+ pts

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  • Date publishedMonday, February 24, 2014

Mar. 1 LCBO Wine Picks: Cabernet Sauvignon + Israel

LCBO Wine Picks from March 1, 2014 Vintages Magazine
The next Vintages release will be on LCBO shelves across Ontario on . The major feature of this release is on the grape Cabernet Sauvignon, while the minor feature is on wines from Israel.

We'll begin with Israel as it highlights 6 wines, five of which of are from one of its top regions - Upper Galilee. Not all wines made in Israel are certified Kosher, but the each of the Israeli wines in this release are certified Kosher for Passover - to help you prepare for upcoming Passover celebrations. The single Israeli wine that made my wine picks is the Galil Mountain Alon that is a blend of 45% Cabernet Sauvignon, 41% Syrah, 8% Petit Verdot, and 6% Cabernet Franc. And in case you were wondering, Cab Sauv, Chardonnay, Merlot and Sauvignon Blanc are the most widely planted grapes in Israel.

A recent study showed that Cabernet Sauvignon is now the most widely planted grape on the planet. In this release there are 15 Cabs highlighted, most of which are from the New World. A version from Chile's Santa Rita and a blend from Washington's Hedges Family Estate (44% Cab Sauv, 33% Merlot, 16% Syrah, 4% Malbec, 3% Cab Franc) are the only two Cabs I'm recommending from this section of the release. There's also a Cab Sauv from Argentina that's not part of the "Cab Fab" feature, but is found later on in the magazine. Why they separated this and other Cabernet Sauvignons from the rest is beyond me...

From the rest of the release, the Bodegas Olarra is a blend of mostly Tempranillo and small amounts of Garnacha, Mazuelo and Graciano, while the Brouilly from Beaujolais is made with Gamay Noir. And last but not least of the red wines is a gorgeous wine from Hecht & Bannier that returns to Vintages. I was delighted to have co-founder Gregory Hecht pour this fabulous wine for me at the Halpern Enterprises Grand Cru tasting last November. It's a highly aromatic blend and a big wine containing Grenache, Carignan, Cinsault, Syrah, Mourvèdre, and trace amounts of Lladoner Pelut, a grape I had never heard of. Drink this wine over the next 5 years. I have both the 2008 and 2010 in my cellar and will probably open them both up over the next couple of years.

Only 4 white wines made my cut, and all are from France. The Sancerre (Sauvignon Blanc), Chardonnay, and Riesling are all dry, while the Altesse is off-dry (i.e. slightly sweet).

This concludes my take on this week's Vintages release. Enjoy my wine picks and, as usual, let me know if you try any of my recommendations. Cheers!

Red Wine:
  • SANTA CAROLINA GRAN RESERVA PETIT VERDOT 2011 - Rapel Valley, Chile (#007484) (D) - $15.95
  • LORNANO CHIANTI CLASSICO 2009 - DOCG, Tuscany, Italy (#211599) (XD) - $17.95
  • SANTA RITA MEDALLA REAL GRAN RESERVA CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2009 - Maipo Valley, Chile (#375386) (XD) - $17.95  reviewed here
  • FINCA SOPHENIA RESERVE CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2011 - Mendoza, Argentina (#350090) (D) - $17.00
  • BODEGAS OLARRA AÑARES RESERVA 2006 - DOCa Rioja, Spain (#244723) (XD) - $19.95
  • JEAN-PAUL BRUN TERRES DORÉES CÔTE DE BROUILLY 2012 - AC, Beaujolais, France (#235127) (XD) - $20.95
  • GALIL MOUNTAIN ALON KP 2010 - Kosher for Passover, Upper Galilee, Israel (#354522) (XD) - $20.95
  • HECHT & BANNIER CÔTES DU ROUSSILLON-VILLAGES 2010 - AC, Midi, France (#142802) (XD) - $24.95  reviewed here
  • JIM BARRY THE LODGE HILL SHIRAZ 2012 - Clare Valley, South Australia (#998476) (XD) - $26.95
  • HEDGES FAMILY ESTATE RED 2011 - Red Mountain, Yakima Valley, Washington State, USA (#001594) (XD) - $32.95

White Wine:
  • MAISON ADRIEN VACHER LES ADRETS ALTESSE ROUSSETTE DE SAVOIE 2012 - AC, Savoie, France (#365163) (D) - $16.95  reviewed here
  • DOMAINE FRANCK MILLET SANCERRE 2012 - AC, Loire, France (#297879) (XD) - $26.95
  • TRIMBACH RÉSERVE RIESLING 2010 - AC Alsace, France (#995316) (XD) - $27.95

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

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  • Date publishedTuesday, February 18, 2014

Featherstone Cabernet Franc 2010 (Niagara) - Wine Review

My love for Ontario Cabernet Franc began with the 2008 vintage version from this winery and continues to this day. The 2011 was great when I tasted it at the winery back in the September 2012, but was not as impressive when I opened the bottle at home, 13 months later.

Tonight, on National Drink Wine Day, I am delighted to open this wonderful Ontario Cab Franc. This red wine was purchased from a Vintages release in September 2012. Good luck finding the 2010 now, but if you have this in your cellar, open it now and enjoy!

FEATHERSTONE CABERNET FRANC 2010 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#64618) (XD) - $16.95

Wine Review of 2010 Featherstone Cabernet Franc from VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada
Tasting Note:
Screw cap. Medium+ intensity aromas that feature complex notes of wet earth, bramble, ripe plum, red currant, herbal and hints of eucalyptus. On the palate, it's medium bodied very nice aroma replays surrounded by a lovely earthy, sweet core. Bright, balanced acids and very smooth, refined tannins. Gorgeous! Drink now if you have it! Will be enjoying this with Chicken Fajitas. Score: 90 pts

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  • Date publishedThursday, February 13, 2014

NCT Dean's List Savant Icewine 2009 (Niagara) - Wine Review

Tasted and purchased this Icewine at the winery back in the Fall of 2012, during the Niagara Wine Festival. and opened it last night to continue our wedding anniversary celebrations. This wine is drinking well, but not nearly as well as it did back in 2012.

NIAGARA COLLEGE TEACHING WINERY DEAN'S LIST SAVANT ICEWINE 2009 - Jack Forrer Vineyard, VQA St. David's Bench, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (S) (200 mL) - $37.95

Wine Review of 2009 NCT Dean's List Savant Icewine from Jack Forrer Vineyard, VQA St. David's Bench, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada
Tasting Note:
Field blend of Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Petit Verdot, Malbec and Pinot Noir. Sweet prune, plum and grapey aromas from the cork. Apple cider, honey and hint of melon aromas of medium intensity from the glass. Fairly lightweight with sweet apple cider, caramel, peach, nutty, orange zest, and honey notes. Good acids and a long finish that's showing hints of bitterness. Drink now. Score: 89+ pts

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  • Date publishedTuesday, February 11, 2014

Joseph Cattin Gewürztraminer 2011 (Alsace) - Wine Review

To celebrate our 6th Wedding Anniversary, I decided to open this lovely white wine from Alsace. The Gewürztraminer grape is not everyone's cup of tea and can take some time getting used to, but I know that my wife and I enjoy it, when made well, such as this one.

This wine was purchased from the December 7 Vintages release and could have been cellared a couple of years, but is definitely enjoyable now. I've enjoyed many wines from Joseph Cattin over the years, and enjoyed this one as well. If you're feeling adventurous and want to try this grape, it is available at the LCBO.

JOSEPH CATTIN GEWÜRZTRAMINER 2011 - AC Alsace, France (#224626) (M) - $17.95

Wine Review of 2011 Joseph Cattin Gewürztraminer from Alsace, France
Tasting Note:
Yummy lychee, meyer lemon and rose petal aromas from the cork. Classic, elegant Gewürztraminer aromas led by lychee fruit from the glass. Full-bodied, creamy mouthfeel, and round with more lychee, orange, lavender, rose and hints of ginger on the palate. Bracing acids and not as sweet as one might expect. Long, smooth, and almost bitter finish. Recommended buy. Paired really well with red pepper flake shrimps as the wine really tamed the fiery shrimp, while the pairing was less than ideal with lamb chops. Score: 90 pts

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  • Date publishedMonday, February 10, 2014

Feb. 15 LCBO Wine Picks: France + Ontario

LCBO Wine Picks from February 15, 2014 Vintages Magazine
The next LCBO Vintages wine release will be in stores on

On the premium wine side, there is a Champagne from Sourdet-Diot that is off-dry and made with 80% Pinot Meunier and 20% Chardonnay, while the Vincent Girardin is an oaked Chardonnay from 50 year-old vines.

From Midi (aka Languedoc), where great values can often be found, there is a 60/40 Syrah/Grenache blend from Domaine Lambrusques. There's also a classic Muscat wine from Terres Blanches for only $13.95 that wasn't part of the France feature but has wonderful aromas and is made in a dry style (i.e. not sweet).

Not surprisingly, three of the five Ontario award-winning wines featured in this release made my cut. First is the Huff Estates sparkling wine that is 100% Prince Edward County Chardonnay. From Niagara is the lightly-oaked Malivoire Gamay. And last, but definitely not least, is the exceptional Konzelmann Vidal Icewine that I tasted recently at the Niagara Icewine Festival.

From the rest of the release, the Spanish Monasterio is a blend of 60% Garnacha (Grenache), 30% Tempranillo and 10% Cariñena (Carignan). Zinfandel lovers may want to check out the Primitivo - the Italian take on the same grape; careful though, as it's not sweet as the versions you may have tried from California. And finally, the Hess Collection is a blend of 63% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Malbec, 9% Syrah, 7% Merlot, and 1% Petit Verdot - all of which come from 19 blocks from their highest altitude estate vineyard on Mount Vedeer.

Enjoy my wine recommendations for this week! Let me know if you try any of these. Cheers!

Red Wine:
  • MONASTERIO DE LAS VIÑAS GRAN RESERVA 2005 - DO Cariñena, Spain (#082024) (XD) - $16.95
  • MALIVOIRE GAMAY 2012 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#591313) (D) - $17.95
  • DOMAINE LAMBRUSQUES ESPRIT SAUVAGE 2011 - AP Pic Saint-Loup, Midi, France (#354142) (XD) - $17.95
  • PODERI ANGELINI PRIMITIVO DI MANDURIA 2008 - DOC, Puglia, Italy (#268136) (XD) - $18.95
  • ZUCCARDI Q MALBEC 2011 - Mendoza, Argentina (#723478) (XD) - $19.95
  • KILIKANOON KILLERMAN’S RUN SHIRAZ/GRENACHE 2011 - Clare Valley, South Australia (#009225) (XD) - $19.95  reviewed here
  • CASTORANI AMORINO MONTEPULCIANO D’ABRUZZO 2007 - DOC, Abruzzo, Italy (#366732) (XD) - $27.95
  • FONTODI CHIANTI CLASSICO 2010 - DOCG, Tuscany, Italy (#933317) (XD) - $32.95
  • HESS COLLECTION 19 BLOCK CUVÉE 2009 - Mount Veeder, Napa Valley, California, USA (#018879) (D) - $47.95  reviewed here

White Wine:
  • TERRES BLANCHES MUSCAT SEC 2012 - Pays d’Oc IGP, Midi, France (#653188) (XD) - $13.95
  • BOUTARI SANTORINI 2012 - PDO, Greece (#047985) (XD) - $17.95
  • TAWSE SKETCHES OF NIAGARA RIESLING 2012 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#089029) (M) - $17.95
  • KILIKANOON KILLERMAN’S RUN RIESLING 2012 - Clare Valley, South Australia (#365635) (XD) - $17.95  reviewed here
  • VILLA MARIA CELLAR SELECTION SAUVIGNON BLANC 2012 - Marlborough, South Island, New Zealand (#974527) (XD) - $21.95
  • VINCENT GIRARDIN VIEILLES VIGNES CHASSAGNE-MONTRACHET 2011 - AC, Burgundy, France (#364141) (XD) - $55.95

Sparkling Wine:
  • HUFF ESTATES CUVÉE PETER F. HUFF 2007 - Traditional Method, VQA Prince Edward County, Ontario, Canada (#198754) (D) - $39.95
  • SOURDET-DIOT CUVÉE DE RÉSERVE BRUT CHAMPAGNE - AC, Champagne, France (#364752) (D) - $49.95

Dessert Wine:
  • AGRI-RONCÃO DR LATE BOTTLED VINTAGE PORT 2000 - DOC Douro, Portugal (#351395) (S) - $24.95
  • KONZELMANN VIDAL ICEWINE 2010 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#167866) (S) (200 mL) - $25.10  reviewed here

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

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  • Date publishedThursday, February 6, 2014

Domaine de l'Arjolle Wine Tasting

Domaine de l'Arjolle Wine Tasting
A I had the pleasure of attending the Domaine de l'Arjolle tasting hosted by their Ontario wine agent H.H.D. Imports. The tasting was held at the Summerhill LCBO, inside the Premium Tasting Room beside the Vintages section.

This Languedoc winery was formed in 1973 by brothers Prosper and Louis-Marie Teisserenc. That same year they planted their first vines - Cabernet Sauvignon - the fruits of which are now found in their very nice 2011 Cabernet (wine review below and my favourite wine of the session). During that same period, they also planted Merlot and Sauvignon Blanc.

In the mid-80's, soon after their brother-in-law Charles Duby and nephew Guilhem de Fozières joined the winery, Domaine de l'Arjolle subscribed to the Terra Vitis Charta for sustainable viticulture. Prosper's son Roland joined the team in 1986. In 2002, Proper's other son, Roch, and Louis-Marie's son, François, joined the family winery, making the total number of men running the show equal 7.

Geoffroy de La Besnardière describing sustainable viticulture at de l'Arjolle
Prosper has since retired, reducing the number to 6. However, Geoffroy de La Besnardière, who was leading our tasting on this day, is excited to bring that number back to 7, as he will officially become an associate at Domaine de l'Arjolle later this year.

As part of d'Arjolle's commitment to sustainable agriculture via the Terra Vitis charter, they produce their own compost using goat manure, while also using earthworms (instead of machinery) to improve and aerate the soil. They are also currently undergoing certification for biodiversity.

It's interesting to note that this winery, unlike others in Languedoc (and perhaps the world?) produce an equal amount of red and white table wines. Also, l'Arjolle is the only winery in all of France to make a Zinfandel. It is nothing like what you may have tasted from California, but is very good. I very much prefer this style of Zinfandel over the sweetish versions from Cali. They also make a Carménère which, even though it's considered to be one of the original 6 grapes from Bordeaux, is now not commonly found throughout France, let alone in Languedoc.

The two wines listed below with the 6-digit LCBO product number can be purchased at the LCBO - click the link to view inventory in your area. Joining the 2011 Cabernet as my two favourite wines of the tasting was the 2013 Equilibré Viognier-Sauvignon - I can only hope the LCBO brings both of these to their stores so you can taste these wonderful wines for yourself. And if they don't bring them in, you can order them privately, along with the other wines not found at the LCBO through the agent H.H.D. Imports Inc.

Domaine de l'Arjolle Wine Lineup

Tasting Notes:
L'ARJOLLE SAUVIGNON BLANC-VIOGNIER 2012 - Côtes de Thongue, Midi, France (#348904) (XD) - $11.95
60/40 blend led by Sauvignon Blanc. Medium-high intensity aromas with the Viognier dominant consisting of herbal, anise, fennel, minerals, and some lime from the Sauvignon Blanc. Palate expresses more of the Sauvignon Blanc with notes of gooseberry, kiwi, herbal, lees and hints of spice. It's medium-bodied with fresh acidity and a medium-long finish. Round mouthfeel and easy drinking. Would pair well with seafood. Part of the LCBO General List and widely available. Pretty good for $11.95. Score: 88 pts

DOMAINE DE L'ARJOLLE EQUILIBRÉ VIOGNIER-SAUVIGNON 2013 - Côtes de Thongue, Midi, France (XD) - $15.95
Blend of 60% Viognier, 35% Sauvignon Blanc and 5% Sauvignon Gris. Fresh gooseberry, kiwi and cat pee aromas of medium intensity, along with hints of herbal and lees. Medium-full bodied with very nice aroma replays. Shows good complexity and is very balanced, with mouth-watering acidity and a long, slightly creamy finish. Enjoy over the next 2 years. Score: 89+/90 pts

L'ARJOLLE MERLOT-CABERNET 2013 - Côtes de Thongue, Midi, France (#) (XD) - $11.95
Bottled only 3 weeks ago, this 60/40 blend of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon has a nose of very fresh herbal and eucalyptus aromas. It is light-to-medium bodied with oak, fresh red currant, cassis, and hints of dried fruit on the palate. Easy drinking with ripe tannins and a lingering finish. Evident alcohol, but not intrusive. Chill slightly. Score: 86 pts

DOMAINE DE L'ARJOLLE CABERNET-MERLOT 2012 - Côtes de Thongue, Midi, France (#) (XD) - $15.95
Blend of 60% Cabernet Sauvignon and 40% Merlot. Medium intensity aromas of oak, crushed red fruit and hints of cassis. Medium+ bodied with ripe tannins that are a bit chalky. Clean flavours of red currants, vanilla and hints of mocha. Balanced acids and a medium-length finish. Score: 87 pts

Z DE L'ARJOLLE ZINFANDEL 2011 - Vin de France, Midi (#346072) (XD) - $19.95
Was released in Vintages January 4th and is still currently in stock at the LCBO. Contains 10% Cab Sauv. Medium intensity aromas of barnyard, oak, plum and dark fruits. Medium-bodied with big, chalky tannins. Aromas replay in the mouth and are joined by herbal and cassis notes. Good acids and a long finish with some heat. Big wine that will age 4-5 years. Score: 88 pts

K DE L'ARJOLLE CARMÉNÈRE 2010 - Vin de France, Midi (#) (XD) - $19.95
Medium intensity aromas of fresh herbal and vegetal notes typical of Carménère, plus some undertones of oak. Medium-bodied with an initial burst of spice that gives way to aroma replays and hints of mocha. Taut, firm tannins with mouth-watering acidity and long finish that shows some heat. Score: 87 pts

DOMAINE DE L'ARJOLLE CABERNET 2011 - Côtes de Thongue, Midi, France (#) (XD) - $21.95
70/30 blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. Medium-high intensity aromas consisting of oak, dark currant, cassis and black cherry. Full-bodied with a smooth and lush mouthfeel. Black cherry, oak spice, milk chocolate and hints of vanillan on the palate. Nicely balanced with fresh acids. Has good structure for ageing and a long, smooth oak and spice tinged finish. Enjoyable now, but will reward 3-5 years ageing. Score: 90 pts

Wine Label of 2013 Domaine De L'Arjolle Equilibré Viognier-SauvignonWine Label of 2011 Domaine De L'Arjolle Cabernet

Geoffroy de La Besnardière and the History of l'Arjolle

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  • Date publishedSunday, February 2, 2014

Dr. Pauly-Bergweiler Bernkasteler alte Badstube am Doctorberg Riesling Spätlese 2011 (Mosel) - Wine Review

This is the final wine in my German wine tasting series (links to all previous wines are provided at the bottom of this post).

There isn't much I can say to tie this white wine from Germany to today's Superbowl. However, it is low in alcohol with only 8.5% abv, so this could be suitable for serving early in the day or at very long gatherings. Also, the naturally high acidity in (German) Rieslings makes it favourable for pairing with all sorts of snacks and meals. Tonight, it was enjoyed with homemade chicken enchiladas.

This white wine was released in Vintages last June and was the only German wine featured in the entire release. It is still quite readily available at the LCBO, especially if you live in Oakville.


Wine Review of 2011 Dr. Pauly-Bergweiler Bernkasteler alte Badstube am Doctorberg Riesling Spätlese from Mosel, Germany
Tasting Note:
Screw cap. Elegant aromas of mineral, rose petals, beeswax and hint of petrol. Full-bodied, round and full-flavoured in the mouth with apricot, peach, mango, orange zest flavours, and a slight spritz. Medium-sweet with lively, mouth-watering acidity. Notes of wet rocks and hints of honey on a lingering finish. Yum! It helped tone down the heat and paired well with the chicken enchiladas. Score: 90 pts

Part 4: Heitlinger Mellow Silk Pinot Noir 2011 (Baden)
Part 3: Henkell Trocken Dry-Sec Piccolo and Deinhard Green Label Riesling 2012
Part 2: Moselland Ars Vitis Riesling Winter Scene 2012
Part 1: Gustav Adolf Schmitt Niersteiner Spätlese Late Harvest 2012 (Rheinhessen)

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