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  • Date publishedMonday, March 24, 2014

Mar. 29 LCBO Wine Picks: 30 Reasons to Love Vintages

LCBO Wine Picks from March 29, 2014 Vintages Release
The next LCBO Vintages release will be in stores across Ontario on . In this edition, they list "30 reasons to love Vintages" and accompany the list with 20 wines that they suppose show why Vintages should be loved. In all my years of following Vintages, I'm not sure I've ever seen a theme such as this - perhaps they are running out of ideas and/or want to try something new. Good on them for trying something different - and I am pleased that some of the 20 wines featured did make my list of wine picks.

We begin with the Guintrandy Cairanne that is made using 75% Grenache and 25% Syrah, from vines that are more than 50 years old; the family has been maintaining this estate since 1850. Also from France is the Château Fleur de Jean Gué from the fabulous 2010 Bordeaux vintage that is 80% Merlot and 20% Cab Franc. Shiraz lovers will want to check out The Black Chook Shiraz/Viognier that includes 5% Viognier to add some interesting floral aromatics. Those who prefer lighter and less tannic wines will be interested in the Gray Monk Pinot Noir, which represents (again!) the single wine from B.C. that is available in the entire release.

From the rest of the release, the blend from Casarena consists of 70% Malbec, 20% Cab Sauvignon, 7% Cab Franc and 3% Petit Verdot, while the Beronia blend is mostly Tempranillo and small amounts of Mazuelo and Graciano.

Among my white wine recommendations, all are dry (i.e. not sweet) except for the Sauternes. The Fumé Blanc from California, and the version from Loire are both made with Sauvignon Blanc and are worth comparing side-by-side. The Joseph Phelps Chardonnay is exquisite for lovers of oaked Chardonnay.

Looking back, I notice there is something for virtually everyone as a fairly wide variety of grapes are represented. Having said that, besides the Sauternes, sweet wine lovers may want to skip this release. Enjoy my wine picks and we'll see you again in 2 weeks time!

Red Wine:
  • VIÑA TARAPACÁ GRAN RESERVA CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2011 - Maipo Valley, Chile (#018721) (XD) - $17.95
  • THE BLACK CHOOK SHIRAZ/VIOGNIER 2012 - McLaren Vale, South Australia (#66738) (XD) - $17.95
  • TAWSE GAMAY NOIR 2012 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#322545) (D) - $18.95
  • GRAY MONK PINOT NOIR 2011 - VQA Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, Canada (#251835) (XD) - $19.95
  • CASARENA SINERGY RESERVA RED 2011 - Mendoza, Argentina (#366104) (XD) - $18.95
  • PÉREZ CRUZ LIMITED EDITION CARMENÈRE 2012 - Maipo Valley, Chile (#670539) (XD) - $19.95
  • DOMAINE LA GUINTRANDY VIEILLES VIGNES CAIRANNE 2009 - AC Côtes du Rhône Villages, France (#362624) (XD) - $19.95
  • CHÂTEAU FLEUR DE JEAN GUÉ 2010 - AC Lalande-de-Pomerol, Bordeaux, France (#729137) (XD) - $24.95
  • BERONIA GRAN RESERVA 2006 - DOCa Rioja, Spain (#940965) (XD) - $34.95
  • ANDRETTA BRUNELLO DI MONTALCINO 2007 - DOCG, Tuscany, Italy (#367367) (XD) - $53.95

White Wine:
  • CAVE DU HAUT-POITOU VALLÉE LOIRE SAUVIGNON BLANC 2012 - AC Haut-Poitou, Loire, France (#357293) (XD) - $16.95
  • D’ARENBERG THE HERMIT CRAB VIOGNIER/MARSANNE 2012 - McLaren Vale, South Australia (#662775) (XD) - $19.95
  • CHÂTEAU ST. JEAN FUMÉ BLANC 2011 - Sonoma County, California, USA (#537639) (XD) - $19.95
  • CHÂTEAU GUIRAUD 2010 - AC Sauternes, Bordeaux, France (#256347) (S) (375 mL) - $39.85
  • JOSEPH PHELPS FREESTONE VINEYARDS CHARDONNAY 2011 - Sonoma Coast, California, USA (#249425) (XD) - $73.95

Rose Wine:
  • TAWSE SKETCHES OF NIAGARA ROSÉ 2012 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#172643) (D) - $13.25

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

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  • Date publishedSunday, March 16, 2014

Union Wines Tasting

Union Wines tasting
, I opened a few samples from Union Wines that arrived on my door step earlier in the week. Union Wines is a joint partnership between winemaking legend Dr. Allan Jackson and sommelier, Andrew von Teichman that began in September of 2010.

Dr. Jackson and Mr. von Teichman's vision and passion for Union is to union multiple grape varieties to create consistent, reliable, and award-winning wines. Being a virtual winery - no vineyards, no winery, no equipment - Union avoids overhead costs that can cripple wineries. Thus, Union is able to provide quality wines at reduced price points. As you will see from my wine reviews below, it is really no surprise that in less than 4 years, Union has become one of the top selling VQA wines at the LCBO.

Of the 4 wines we tasted yesterday, the favourite among my guests was the Union White - not surprising as they all prefer sweeter wines. My personal favourite was the Union Red. All four are readily available at the LCBO, two of which are currently on promotion until the end of the month. Enjoy!

Tasting Notes:
UNION GOLD 2011 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#351049) (XD) - $14.95
Screw cap. Blend of mostly Pinot Gris and Chardonnay, and small amounts of Sauvignon Blanc, and Gewürztraminer. Low-medium nose with apple/pear/orchard fruits, grass and hints of floral aromas. Medium-bodied with vibrant acids. Flavour profile is dry and consists of orchard fruits, citrus and spice. Oak influence is present, but not overshadowing. Finish is slightly tart and medium in length. This white wine paired well with chicken nachos in tortilla scoops topped with queso. Score: 85 pts
2011 Union Gold from VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada

UNION WHITE 2012 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#197145) (D) - $13.95
Screw cap. Blend of Riesling, Chardonnay (un-oaked), Gewürztraminer, Sauvignon Blanc (and Viognier according to the label). Medium intensity aromas of floral and white berries, along with hints of peach. Medium-bodied and off-dry (slightly sweet) with notes of floral, lime, citrus and spice. Viognier and Gewürztraminer varietals make an appearance as it warms up in the glass. Good acids and a lasting finish. Easy drinking and ideal for spicy foods - it paired well with homemade Jerk Chicken Wings. Serve lightly chilled to allow the complex aromas to shine through. Score: 87 pts
2012 Union White from VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada

UNION NOIR 2012 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#277632) (XD) - $15.95
Screw cap. Blend of Pinot Noir and Gamay Noir. Medium intensity aromas of sour cherry, cranberry, cedar oak, and hints of earth. It's lightweighted with good acids and pleasant, savoury aroma replays. Taut tannins. Interesting finish that is long and smooth, warm, and has a kiss of sweetness. Serve lightly chilled. Paired well with the nacho scoops. Score: 87 pts

If you're an Air Miles collector, until the end of March you can get Bonus 5 Air Miles with purchase of this red wine.
2012 Union Noir from VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada

UNION RED 2010 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#197152) (D) - $13.95
Screw cap. Blend of Merlot, Cabernet, Gamay Noir, and Pinot Noir grapes from the excellent 2010 vintage. Medium-high intensity aromas of ripe black fruits, blackberry, oak, and hints of elderberry. Dry, medium-full bodied with ripe tannins. Nice aroma replays plus dark currant currant, spice and hints of mocha. Balanced acids and long finish. Chill slightly. Yummy. Score: 88 pts

This is currently on sale until the end of March for $12.95. Highly recommended at this price!
2010 Union Red from VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada

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  • Date publishedThursday, March 13, 2014

Taurino Riserva Salice Salentino Rosso 2009 (Puglia) - Wine Review

Last night's red wine was purchased from last August's Vintages release that highlighted Italian wines off the beaten path. Puglia is most likely not one of the first names to roll off your tongue when thinking of Italian wines, nor are the grapes in this red blend - Negromaro and Malvasia Nera. If you live in Bracebridge, Kenora, or Sault Ste. Marie, you will likely be able to get your hands on it, as it's virtually sold out everywhere else.

TAURINO RISERVA SALICE SALENTINO ROSSO 2009 - DOP, Puglia, Italy (#177527) (XD) - $14.95

Wine Review of 2009 Taurino Riserva Salice Salentino Rosso from Puglia, Italy
Tasting Note:
Blend of 80% Negromaro and 20% Malvasia Nera. Plum, cherry and slight prune aromas from the cork. Medium nose with cherry, black fruits, graphite and pronounced horse/barnyard as it warmed up in the glass. Medium+ bodied with smooth palate and red cherry, earth and spice notes. Has fresh acidity along with jucy, crunchy and firm tannins. Smooth, medium-long finish with hints of cocoa. Could be aged another 1-2 years, but drinking great now. Delicious. Score: 89+ pts

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  • Date publishedMonday, March 10, 2014

Mar. 15 LCBO Wine Picks: Cali Classics + Handcrafted Wines

LCBO Wine Picks from March 15, 2014 Vintages Release
The next LCBO Vintages release will be on . The major theme of this release is titled "Cali Classics" and highlights some iconic wines from some of the biggest and best names in California, while the secondary theme is titled "Labour of Love" and focuses on artisanal wines from around the globe.

We'll begin with the Cali Classics section, where nearly all of the 12 wines featured are very good and I would be happy to add many of them to my cellar. However, I've selected three in particular that I would cherish the most.

First up is the 2010 Dominus that is composed of 95% Cabernet Sauvignon and 5% Petit Verdot. It's not too often we see a Parker-rated 100-point wine on LCBO shelves, and while I doubt many other critics would also score this red wine 100 points, I am certain it's very, very good. It's a big wine that can be decanted and enjoyed now, or cellared for at least 20 years. At $170.95, you may want to go in with one or two close friends and open it on a very special occasion.

Also from Napa is the CADE Cabernet Sauvignon - a relatively new winery at 9 years old and making its debut in Ontario this month. The 2010 is 90% Cab and 10% Merlot from the Howell Mountain AVA (which is a sub-AVA of Napa Valley) and aged in 100% French Oak (80% new).

The Ridge Estate Cabernet Sauvignon is probably the best value of the bunch. The 2010 edition is a blend of 80% Cab Sauv, 17% Merlot, 2% Petit Verdot, and 1% Cabernet Franc and can also be decanted and enjoyed now or cellared for up to 10 years. And yes, even though it says Cabernet Sauvignon in big letters on the label, they are allowed to blend a certain percentage (at most 25% according to U.S. federal law) of other grapes and still be allowed call it by it's primary grape. It's great they included the full blend in smaller letters right on the label!

From the second feature of this release on handcrafted wines, we have the Castello di Ama Chianti (80% Sangiovese, 20% Malvasia Nera and Merlot), Thomas Bachelder's Pinot Noir from Burgundy. And finally, from Loire is a wine on the sweeter side - a Vouvray (Chenin Blanc) from Domaine Bourillon-Dorléans. The winemakers at all three wineries were involved at every stage of making these wines - from picking and pruning the grapes, all the way to the final stages of blending and marketing. Also, both Thomas Bachelder and Frédéric Bourillon focus on terroir-driven wines, with as little intervention as possible.

From the rest of the release, returning to Vintages (and $2 higher) is the 2009 Mas d'Auzierès les Éclats 2009 which I purchased and reviewed 2 years ago, while the Cahors is a blend of Malbec and Merlot. From Spain, the Odipus Old Vines Grenache amazingly comes from 100+-year-old vines, while the Lacrimus Crianza is a blend of 85% Tempranillo and 15% Garnacha (Grenache). Also from Spain is the Señorío de los Baldíos that is 100% Tempranillo. There's also an interesting Piedmont blend from Tenuta Stefano Farina that consists of 40% Barbera, 40% Nebbiolo and 20% Merlot.

Once again, it was slim pickings among white wines. The Henry of Pelham Chardonnay was barrel fermented, while the Quails' Gate version was 50% barrel fermented and 50% tank fermented. The Saint-Roch is a blend of 80% Grenache Blanc and 20% Marsanne from 50-year-old vines.

Enjoy my wine recommendations for this week. Cheers!

Red Wine:
  • ODIPUS OLD VINES GRENACHE 2008 - Unfiltered, DO Navarra, Spain (#366401) (XD) - $15.95
  • TENUTA STEFANO FARINA LE BRUME LANGHE 2009 - DOC, Piedmont, Italy (#360073) (XD) - $17.95
  • CLOS LA COUTALE CAHORS 2011 - AC, Southwest, France (#286385) (XD) - $17.95
  • MAS D’AUZIERÈS LES ÉCLATS 2009 - AC Côteaux du Languedoc, Midi, France (#271742) (XD) - $18.95  reviewed here
  • LACRIMUS CRIANZA 2009 - DOCa Rioja, Spain (#359968) (XD) - $18.95
  • YALUMBA SHIRAZ 2012 - South Australia (#280883) (XD) - $19.95
  • SEÑORIO DE LOS BALDÍOS 2009 - DO Ribera del Duero, Spain (#366393) (XD) - $19.95
  • ALJIBES CABERNET FRANC 2007 - Vino de la Tierra de Castilla, Spain (#358788) (XD) - $24.95
  • CASTELLO DI AMA CHIANTI CLASSICO RISERVA 2009 - DOCG, Tuscany, Italy (#039768) (XD) - $35.95
  • BACHELDER LA PETITE CHARMOTTE NUITS-SAINT-GEORGES 2011 - AC, Burgundy, France (#357228) (XD) - $49.95
  • RIDGE ESTATE CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2010 - Monte Bello Vineyard, Santa Cruz Mountains, California, USA (#089284) (D) - $61.95
  • CADE CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2010 - Howell Mountain, Napa Valley, California (#325027) (XD) - $99.95
  • DOMINUS 2010 - Napa Valley, California, USA (#212381) (XD) - $170.95

White Wine:
  • SAINT-ROCH VIEILLES VIGNES GRENACHE BLANC/MARSANNE 2012 - AP Côtes du Roussillon, Midi, France (#175232) (XD) - $15.95
  • HENRY OF PELHAM ESTATE CHARDONNAY 2012 - VQA Short Hills Bench, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#268342) (XD) - $19.95
  • QUAILS’ GATE CHARDONNAY 2012 - BC VQA Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, USA (#377770) (XD) - $21.95
  • BOURILLON-DORLÉANS LA BOURDONNERIE DEMI-SEC VOUVRAY 2012 - AC, Loire, France (#357244) (M) - $21.95

Sparkling Wine:
  • DOMAINE DE VAUGONDY BRUT VOUVRAY - Méthode Traditionnelle, AC, Loire Valley, France (#154567) (D) - $15.95
  • BARON-FUENTÉ GRAND MILLÉSIME BRUT CHAMPAGNE 2006 - AC, Champagne, France (#155119) (D) - $53.95

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

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