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  • Date publishedMonday, July 28, 2014

Aug. 2 LCBO Wine Picks: California + Alsace + Loire

LCBO Wine Picks from August 2, 2014 Vintages Release
The next LCBO Vintages release will be on shelves across Ontario this . The major theme of this release is on top wines from California, with an emphasis on Cabs, Zins and Chards. There are two minor themes - one which focuses on white wines from Loire and Alsace, while the second focuses on mostly disappointing Greek wines.

Just one of the 18 wines from the California feature made my list of wine picks. This is due to the fact that even though California continues to produce good wine, many of them arrive on our shores with prices beyond the reach of most folks, while failing to deliver on the quality that one would expect in that price range. Also, at the lower-end of the scale, many California wines - especially the reds - tend have a sweet, sugary character that I personally do not enjoy. Thus, my lone wine pick from California is from Cameron Hughes. This 100% Cabernet Sauvignon comes from a single block of vines from the Rutherford district and can be enjoyed between now and 2022.

Far more interesting are the white wines from Loire and Alsace. Five of the seven wines made my list of wine recommendations, including all three from Alsace. One interesting thing to note about labels is that Loire wines use regional labelling, while Alsace puts the name of the grape on the label. Thus, in order to know what's inside the bottle of wine from Loire, you will have to know the region. The dry wines from Pouilly-Fumé and Sancerre are both made using Sauvignon Blanc. Alsace wines tend to be between off-dry and medium in sweetness. The Riesling, Gewürztraminer and Pinot Gris wines from Alsace listed below all fit within this range and will be enjoyed by anyone who prefers sweeter wines.

From the rest of the release, the Whispering Angel Rosé is a dry (i.e. not sweet) blend consisting of Grenache, Rolle (Vermentino), Cinsault, Syrah and Tibouren. In whites, there is an interesting white wine from Lebanon that is a blend of 50% Sauvignon Blanc, 30% Semillon and 20% Chardonnay. Also, if you missed the 2004 Loan Semillon that came to Vintages last year, check out the 2005 version - it's just as delicious!

In red wines, the Perrin from Rhône is a fruit-forward blend of 80% tank-aged Grenache and 20% barrel-aged Syrah. The Falcoaria comes from vines that are more than 80 years old and is blend of Castelão, Trincadeira, Cabernet Sauvignon, Touriga Nacional and Alicante Bouschet. From Italy, the Piccini is a blend of 60% Sangiovese, 20% Cabernet, and 20% Merlot.

That's all for this week. Enjoy my wine recommendations. Cheers!

Red Wine:
  • CLOS TROTELIGOTTE K-OR MALBEC 2011 - AC Cahors, Southwest, France (#299982) (XD) - $16.95
  • PERRIN PEYRE BLANCHE CAIRANNE CÔTES DU RHÔNE-VILLAGES 2012 - AC, Rhône, France (#650960) (XD) - $17.95
  • PICCINI SASSO AL POGGIO 2008 - IGT Toscana, Italy (#134809) (D) - $19.95
  • DANDELION VINEYARDS LIONHEART OF THE BAROSSA SHIRAZ 2012 - Barossa Valley, South Australia (#167189) (D) - $19.95
  • FALCOARIA CLÁSSICO 2011 - DOC do Tejo, Portugal (#379214) (XD) - $19.95
  • LONGVIEW DEVIL’S ELBOW CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2010 - Adelaide Hills, South Australia (#660050) (XD) - $22.95
  • MATETIC CORRALILLO SYRAH 2011 - San Antonio Valley, Chile (#146407) (XD) - $23.95
  • LE CLOS JORDANNE VILLAGE RESERVE PINOT NOIR 2011 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#033894) (D) - $30.00  reviewed here
  • CAMERON HUGHES LOT 345 CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2010 - Rutherford, Napa Valley, California, USA (#372383) (XD) - $31.95
  • FEUDI SAN PIO NERO DI LUPO AMARONE DELLA VALPOLICELLA 2010 - DOCG, Veneto, Italy (#375527) (XD) - $36.95

White Wine:
  • CHÂTEAU KSARA BLANC DE BLANCS 2012 - Békaa Valley, Lebanon (#744805) (XD) - $16.95
  • LOAN WINES SPECIAL RESERVE SEMILLON 2005 - Unoaked, Barossa Valley, South Australia (#301127) (XD) - $16.95
  • PIERRE SPARR GRANIT RIESLING 2010 - AC Alsace, France (#378356) (M) - $16.95
  • BARON DE HOEN RÉSERVE GEWÜRZTRAMINER 2012 - AC Alsace, France (#377721) (D) - $17.95
  • KUHLMANN PLATZ PINOT GRIS 2012 - AC Alsace, France (#224204) (D) - $17.95
  • SPINYBACK SAUVIGNON BLANC 2013 - Nelson, South Island, New Zealand (#694737) (XD) - $19.95
  • HIDDEN BENCH ESTATE RIESLING 2013 - VQA Beamsville Bench, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#183491) (D) - $23.95  reviewed here
  • FOURNIER PÈRE & FILS LES DEUX CAILLOUX POUILLY-FUMÉ 2012 - AC, Loire, France (#379750) (XD) - $26.95
  • JEAN-MAX ROGER CUVÉE C.M. SANCERRE BLANC 2012 - AC, Loire, France (#196667) (XD) - $27.95
  • HUFF ESTATES SOUTH BAY CHARDONNAY 2010 - VQA Prince Edward County, Ontario, Canada (#088955) (XD) - $29.95  reviewed here

Rosé Wine:
  • CAVES D’ESCLANS WHISPERING ANGEL ROSÉ 2013 - AC Côtes de Provence, France (#325076) (XD) - $23.95

Sparkling Wine:
  • PREVEDELLO ASOLO SUPERIORE EXTRA DRY PROSECCO 2013 - DOCG, Veneto, Italy (#262881) (D) - $17.95

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

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  • Date publishedSunday, July 20, 2014

Gallo Family Laguna Vineyard Chardonnay 2009 (Sonoma) - Wine Review

Wine Review of 2009 Gallo Family Laguna Vineyard Chardonnay from Russian River Valley, Sonoma County, California, USA
Purchased this gorgeous cool-climate Chardonnay from an LCBO Vintages release last August that highlighted a bunch of wines that were scored 90 pts or higher by some of the more famous wine critics.

It was opened due to a closing drinking window. For those that prefer very oakey Chardonnays, this is one not to be missed, as you will see from my wine review below. However, it's unlikely you will be able to find this vintage in Vintages at this point in time, but I could see the 2010 coming into stock in the near future. This white wine paired great with crab curry and will go really well with other rich, seafood dishes.

GALLO FAMILY LAGUNA VINEYARD CHARDONNAY 2009 - Russian River Valley, Sonoma County, California, USA (#544981) (XD) - $19.95

Wine Label of 2009 Gallo Family Laguna Vineyard Chardonnay from Russian River Valley, Sonoma County, California, USA
Tasting Note:
Mango, melon and peach aromas from the cork. Heavily oaked with smoky aromas lead the way, followed by butter, and hints of apple. On the palate, it's medium-full bodied, dry, and concentrated with buttery oak, honeysuckle, spice and nutty flavours. Acids are still fresh. Slightly creamy texture, with a finish that is excellent in length and smooth. Enjoyed with Dungeness crab curry. Highly recommended. Score: 90 pts

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  • Date publishedMonday, July 14, 2014

Gérard Bertrand Côte des Roses Rosé 2013 (Midi) - Wine Review

Opened this lovely, dry rosé wine Sunday night. The packaging on this wine is well-above average as it includes an indented rose design on the bottom of the bottle and a reusable glass cork. I hope you purchased this when I recommended it back in May, as it's virtually sold out in LCBO Vintages now.

GÉRARD BERTRAND CÔTE DES ROSES ROSÉ 2013 - AP Languedoc, Midi, France (#373985) (XD) - $19.95

Wine Review of 2013 Gérard Bertrand Côte des Roses Rosé from AP Languedoc, Midi, France
Tasting Note:
Grenache, Cinsault and Syrah blend. Crisp, medium+ aromas that show clean mineral, garrigue, strawberry, rose petals, and rhubarb. Has a dry flavour profile that's medium-full bodied with considerable depth and pleasing aroma replays along with hints of green apple. Feels substantial in the mouth with bright acids and lengthy finish. Not your average rosé. Recommended if you prefer dry wines and if you don't like your rosé wines sweet. Score: 89 pts

Rose design on bottom of bottle

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  • Date publishedMonday, July 14, 2014

July 19 LCBO Wine Picks: BBQ + Cool-Climate Chardonnay

LCBO Wine Picks from July 19, 2014 Vintages Magazine
The next LCBO Vintages release will be on shelves across Ontario on . This edition features 18 wines for pairing with various foods off the BBQ, while the secondary feature highlights 10 cool-climate Chardonnays to coincide with the upcoming 4th Annual International Cool-Climate Chardonnay Celebration (i4c) that takes place in Niagara.

Only three of the eighteen BBQ wines made my list of wine picks, and two of those are recommended for pairing with veggies. First up is the just off-dry (i.e. slightly sweet) 2013 Wildass Rosé that is made by Stratus Vineyards in Niagara and is a blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Sauvignon Blanc and Sémillon. Secondly is a Grenache, Syrah and Carignan blend from Château Saint-Roch in Midi that can be enjoyed over the next few years. And finally, the dry Small Gully Australian Shiraz is recommended for pairing with Smoky Baby Back Ribs, but I would say it can also go with beef, lamb, or other red meats off the BBQ.

Two wines from the secondary feature on cool-climate Chardonnay made my list below. Chardonnay tends to develop aromas and flavours of the produce grown in its surrounding climate. In cool climates, that tends to be crisp apple, pear, peach, nectarine, citrus, and orchard blossoms. There are 3 main factors in determining whether or not a Chardonnay is considered "cool-climate":
  • Latitude - The further away from the equator, the cooler the average temperatures
  • Altitude - Vineyards high above sea level, including on mountainsides or towering slopes
  • Maritime Influence - Large bodies of water, including lakes and oceans, have a moderating and cooling effect on vineyards
Furthermore, cool climate Chards tend to have brilliant acidity. The two cool-climate Chardonnays that made my wine picks are the locally made Le Clos Jordanne Village Reserve Chardonnay and the Domaine Dublère from Burgundy. Both of these wines are oaked, however, the wood is kept in check.

From the rest of the release, in red wines, the Crianza from Abad is made using the Mencía grape, while the Château de Panigon from the excellent 2010 Bordeaux vintage is a blend of 50% Merlot, 45% Cabernet Sauvignon and 5% Petit Verdot. In white wines, the Pinot Bianco from Italy is made using the Pinot Blanc grape, which is actually a genetic mutation of the Pinot Noir grape. Also from Italy is the Fattori Motto Piane Soave that is made using 100% Garganega and was dried for 40 days - it shows some dried fruit notes, but is still dry (i.e. not sweet). And lastly, the dry rosé from E. Guigal is a blend of Grenache, Cinsault, Syrah, and Mourvèdre.

That's all for this week. Enjoy my wine recommendations for any BBQs you might have coming up. Cheers!

Red Wine:
  • ABAD DOM BUENO CRIANZA 2006 - DO Bierzo, Spain (#244699) (XD) - $14.95
  • SMALL GULLY MR. BLACK’S LITTLE BOOK SHIRAZ 2011 - Barossa Valley, South Australia (#287979) (XD) - $17.95
  • VIÑA TARAPACÁ GRAN RESERVA CARMENÈRE 2011 - Maipo Valley, Chile (#57513) (XD) - $17.95
  • CHÂTEAU SAINT-ROCH CHIMÈRES 2011 - AC Côtes du Roussillon-Villages, Midi, France (#119354) (XD) - $18.95
  • VIÑA COBOS FELINO MALBEC 2012 - Unfined, Mendoza, Argentina (#118067) (XD) - $19.95
  • CHÂTEAU DE PANIGON 2010 - AC Médoc, Bordeaux, France (#348250) (XD) - $19.95
  • CASTELLO DI GABBIANO CHIANTI CLASSICO RISERVA 2009 - DOCG, Tuscany, Italy (#216309) (XD) - $22.95
  • DEI VINO NOBILE DI MONTEPULCIANO 2010 - DOCG, Tuscany, Italy (#285510) (XD) - $27.95
  • RIDGE MONTE BELLO CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2011 - Santa Cruz Mountains, Central Coast, California, USA (XD) (#321174) (375 mL) - $85.95 or (#320945) (750 mL) - $159.95

White Wine:
  • DR. PAULY-BERGWEILER RIESLING 2012 - Qualitätswein, Mosel, Germany (#596601) (M) - $13.95
  • RABL LENGENLOIS GRÜNER VELTLINER 2012 - DAC Kamptal, Austria (#377457) (XD) - $16.95
  • LE MONDE PINOT BIANCO 2012 - DOC Friuli Grave, Friuli, Italy (#372417) (XD) - $17.95
  • ROCKWAY SMALL LOT BLOCK 12-150 RIESLING 2012 - VQA Twenty Mile Bench, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#372441) (M) - $18.95
  • MASTROBERARDINO GRECO DI TUFO 2012 - DOCG, Campania, Italy (#568105) (XD) - $20.95
  • FATTORI MOTTO PIANE SOAVE 2011 - DOC, Veneto, Italy (#380204) (XD) - $22.95
  • CAVE SPRING CSV RIESLING 2011 - VQA Beamsville Bench, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#566026) (M) - $29.95
  • LE CLOS JORDANNE VILLAGE RESERVE CHARDONNAY 2011 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#033936) (XD) - $30.00
  • DOMAINE DUBLÈRE SAVIGNY-LÈS-BEAUNE AUX VERGELESSES 1ER CRU 2011 - AC, Burgundy, France (#376095) (XD) - $58.95

Rosé Wine:
  • WILDASS ROSÉ 2013 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#071712) (D) - $17.95
  • E. GUIGAL CÔTES DU RHÔNE ROSÉ 2013 - AC, Rhone, France (#225003) (XD) - $16.95

Dessert Wine:
  • CROOKED PINE LATE HARVEST VIDAL 2012 - VQA Ontario, Canada (#368738) (MS) (375 mL) - $17.95

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

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  • Date publishedFriday, July 4, 2014

Radio Boka Tempranillo 2012 (Spain) - Wine Review

This red wine was recently released into the LCBO General List. I received this wine sample last week and opened it up last night. It is made using 100% Tempranillo from 12-25 year old vines, and was partially aged in French oak.

RADIO BOKA TEMPRANILLO 2012 - DO Valencia, Spain (#376145) (D) - $11.00

Wine Review of 2012 Radio Boka Tempranillo from DO Valencia, Spain
Tasting Note:
Screw cap. Medium+ intensity nose with aromas of deli meats, cherry, strawberry and hints of milk chocolate. Full bodied with big, plumpy tannins. Plum, dark cherry, pruney and hint of cassis flavour profile. Green pepper notes develop with time. Slightly sweet, with good acids and a medium-long, slightly warm finish. Pretty good for $11. Score: 87 pts

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  • Date publishedWednesday, July 2, 2014

Molson Canadian Cider and Stone Fruit Cider

These were the second and third Canadian beverages enjoyed on Canada Day - see yesterday's post for first items.

I received these as part of the #shareyourdare campaign. Given that these items would probably not be the first beverage I'd be reaching for on Canada Day - as it would surely be an Ontario wine - it was definitely a pleasant alternative. I dared to be different on and was not disappointed.

Review of Molson Canadian Stone Fruit Cider and (Apple) Cider

Made with 100% Canadian apples. Aromas of apples, pears and yeast. The palate has refreshing bubbles and sweet flavours of poached apples and pears. Finish is rather short. 5% abv. Available at the LCBO (and probably at The Beer Store) in 2 formats - $2.95 per 473 mL can OR $13.55 per 6 x 341 mL bottle

Highly aromatic peach and apricot nose. Fine mousse on the palate with more peach and apricot flavours. Medium-length finish. A joy to drink. 5% abv. Available at the LCBO (and probably The Beer Store) for $2.95 in a 473 mL can.

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  • Date publishedTuesday, July 1, 2014

Great Lakes Brewery Chill Winston Grisette + Neal Brothers Kettle-style Chips

Canadian Treats for Canada Day
To kick back this , I decided to open up a few locally-made, Canadian treats that I recently received.

First up are a pair of newly launched, chef-inspired Kettle-style Potato Chips created by Neal Brothers in collaboration with Montreal chef and television host Chuck Hughes, and Vancouver-based chef and CBC's newest Dragon, Vikram Vij.

Chuck's Srirachup chips shows a nice blend of sweet ketchup and spicy sriracha on the nose with more of the same flavours, and some garlicky notes. Has a nice kick to it. Quite nice.

The Vikram's Delhi-licious chips show a blend of garam masala and curry aromas, and also reminds me of homemade white potato & green pea samosas flavoured with mineral salts.

Neal Brothers Vij's Delhi-licious and Srirachup Chips
Both of these flavours were inspired by each chef's own cuisine, and favourite spices and sauces. Neal Brothers' line of Kettle-style potato chips are hand-cut, crispy chips using naturally-grown non-GMO potatoes and contain no preservatives or artificial flavours. Chips are kettle-cooked in non-GMO sunflower oil and dusted with natural spices and seasonings.

Other flavours in this line include Himalayan Pink Salt, Sweet & Smoky BBQ, Pink Salt and Vinegar, and Maple Bacon, none of which I have tasted yet but hope to try in the near future.

Launched in May 2012, Neal Brothers Kettle-style Chips are now available at well-known retailers, independent specialty and natural food stores across Canada.

Review of Great Lakes Brewery Chill Winston Grisette Beer
The second treat is the Chill Winston Grisette beer made by 2013 & 2014 Canadian Brewery of the Year - Great Lakes Brewery. This beer is very summery in nature and shows floral, sweet citrus and spice aromas. Medium+ bodied with medium-fruitiness on the palate and some pleasing bitter notes on the long finish. 3.8% abv. Perfect at dockside.

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