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  • Date publishedSunday, August 31, 2014

Dunavar Muscat Ottonel 2012 (Hungary) - Wine Review

Tonight's wine is this slightly sweet Muscat Ottonel from Hungary. The Muscat Ottonel grape is used to make white wine and is a member of the Muscat family. This wine is a LCBO General List product and is widely available.

DUNAVAR MUSCAT OTTONEL 2012 - Mátra, Hungary (#565812) (D) - $8.95

Wine Review of 2012 Dunavar Muscat Ottonel from Mátra, Hungary
Tasting Note:
Screw cap. Medium aromatics showing lime, lemongrass, watercress and fresh herb notes. It's medium-full bodied and off-dry (slightly sweet) on the palate with herbal, lime and lifted floral notes. Also has a slight spritz and some orange notes that show up as it warms up in the glass. Mouth-watering acids and very good length on the finish. Very good bang for the buck and a nice wine to finish off the summer. Will be enjoyed with Mediterranean Chicken off the BBQ. Score: 88 pts

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  • Date publishedSaturday, August 30, 2014

Wine Reviews: Santa Alicia Carménère Reserva + Pascual Toso Malbec

I received these two nice, easy drinking red wines last week courtesy of Eurovintage International Inc. Both are LCBO General List products and widely available throughout the province.

My personal favourite of the two is the Malbec, from a very good producer in Argentina. I had tasted this and their Malbec Limited Edition at Malbec World Day back in April.

Tasting Notes:
SANTA ALICIA CARMÉNÈRE RESERVA 2012 - Maipo Valley, Chile (#309302) (XD) - $13.00
Screw cap. Medium+ intensity aromas featuring ripe, green pepper and mineral notes. On the palate, it's medium-bodied with very green, herbal notes and hints of smoke lingering on the long, slightly warm finish. Acids are bright and balanced, while tannins are a touch tight. Score: 87 pts

Wine Review of 2012 Santa Alicia Carménère Reserva from Maipo Valley, Chile

PASCUAL TOSO MALBEC 2013 - Mendoza, Argentina (#035170) (XD) - $13.95
Screw cap. Medium intensity aromas of plum, blackberry and blackcherry which replay nicely on the medium-bodied palate. Mineral and oak also show up on the dry flavour profile. Fruit-forward. Refreshing acids and ripe, integrated tannins and a clean finish make this a very good weekday wine. Score: 88+ pts
Wine Review of 2013 Pascual Toso Malbec from Mendoza, Argentina

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  • Date publishedMonday, August 25, 2014

Aug. 30 LCBO Wine Picks: 90+ + Washington + Oregon + Champagne

LCBO Wine Picks from August 30, 2014 VINTAGES Release
The next LCBO Vintages release will be in stores this . This is the annual 90+ point wine release, along with features on the Pacific Northwest (Washington and Oregon) and some of the biggest names in Champagne.

We'll begin with the Pacific Northwest, where eight rather ho-hum wines are featured and none made my LCBO wine picks. It seems to almost always be the case that wines coming into Vintages from Washington, Oregon, and even B.C., tend to be lacklustre. Having said that, if you look near the end pages of the magazine, there is a fine oaked Chardonnay from Evening Land Vineyards in Oregon that you will find only at Vintages Flagship Stores.

Of the 31 wines listed in the 90+ feature, 9 are listed below. Included among them are Cabs from Domaine Bousquet and Forest Hill, a Carménère from Santa Carolina, the Marziano Abbona Barolo (Nebbiolo grape), Penfold's Shiraz, a Grenache-Syrah blend from Patrice Magni, and Schubert's Pinot Noir. Not surprisingly, most of these red wines fall into the premium price category. Just one white wine and one rosé from this list made the cut - a Sauvignon Blanc from Robert Oatley, and the "Brangelina" Miraval Rosé (Cinsault, Grenache, Rolle, Syrah blend).

From the rest of the release, we have a few red-blends, including a Grenache-Syrah blend from Famille Perrin, a 60% Corvina / 35% Rondinella / 5% Molinara blend from Montresor, and a Merlot-dominated blend from Château de Ricaud. Also a blend is the Mas de Bressades Rosé, consisting of 50% Grenache, 30% Syrah, and 20% Cinsault. Those who prefer sweeter wines can seek any of the three Rieslings I've mentioned below.

Hope you will enjoy the last few days of summer with a few of my wine recommendations. Cheers!

Red Wine:
  • DOMAINE BOUSQUET RESERVE CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2012 - Tupungato Valley, Uco Valley, Mendoza, Argentina (#678813) (XD) - $14.95
  • BARAHONDA BARRICA MONASTRELL/SYRAH 2011 - DO Yecla, Spain (#378869) (XD) - $17.95
  • FAMILLE PERRIN LES CORNUDS VINSOBRES 2012 - AC, Rhône, France (#566844) (D) - $17.95
  • CHÂTEAU DE RICAUD RÉSERVE DES COTEAUX 2010 - AC Cadillac Côtes de Bordeaux, France (#365643) (D) - $18.95
  • SANTA CAROLINA RESERVA DE FAMILIA CARMÉNÈRE 2010 - Rapel Valley, Chile (#034942) (XD) - $18.95
  • FOREST HILL ESTATE CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2010 - Great Southern, Western Australia (#380840) (XD) - $32.95
  • PENFOLDS BIN 128 SHIRAZ 2012 - Coonawarra, South Australia (#509919) (XD) - $34.95
  • DOMAINE PATRICE MAGNI CHÂTEAUNEUF DU PAPE 2011 - AC, Rhône, France (#380626) (XD) - $47.95
  • MARZIANO ABBONA PRESSENDA BAROLO 2008 - DOCG, Piedmont, Italy (#276584) (XD) - $52.95
  • SCHUBERT BLOCK B PINOT NOIR 2011 - Wairarapa, New Zealand (#066985) (XD) - $55.95

White Wine:
  • VIEIL ARMAND MÉDAILLE RIESLING 2010 - AC Alsace, France (#377754) (D) - $15.95
  • FEATHERSTONE BLACK SHEEP RIESLING 2013 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#080234) (M) - $16.95
  • CREEKSIDE BACKYARD BLOCK SAUVIGNON BLANC 2013 - VQA Creek Shores, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#341792) (XD) - $17.95
  • ROBERT OATLEY MARGARET RIVER SAUVIGNON BLANC 2012 - Margaret River, Western Australia (#186106) (XD) - $18.95
  • MURI-GRIES PINOT GRIGIO 2013 - DOC Alto Adige, Italy (#270983) (D) - $19.95
  • SCHLOSS REINHARTSHAUSEN HATTENHEIMER WISSELBRUNNEN RIESLING KABINETT 2012 - Deutscher Prädikatswein, Rheingau, Germany (#114801) (M) - $20.95
  • DOMAINE LE VERGER CHABLIS 2012 - AC, Burgundy, France (#181289) (XD) - $22.95
  • STAGS’ LEAP WINERY VIOGNIER 2013 - Napa Valley, California, USA (#597369) (XD) - $34.95
  • STAGS’ LEAP WINERY CHARDONNAY 2012 - Napa Valley, California, USA (#655381) (XD) - $34.95
  • EVENING LAND SEVEN SPRINGS CHARDONNAY 2011 - Eola-Amity Hills, Willamette Valley, Oregon, USA (#375048) (XD) - $58.95

Rosé Wine:
  • MAS DES BRESSADES CUVÉE TRADITION ROSÉ 2013 - AP Costières de Nîmes, Rhône, France (#950576) (XD) - $15.95
  • MIRAVAL ROSÉ 2013 - AP Côtes de Provence, France (#342584) (XD) - $22.95

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

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  • Date publishedFriday, August 22, 2014

Napa Valley Tasting - June 2014

The Hess Collection Visitor Centre & Gardens
On , I visited Napa Valley for the second time in the last 2 years. After visiting quite a few wineries along the Silverado Trail during my first visit, I decided that I wanted to visit more wineries off the trail this time around.

The first stop on this hot and sunny Monday was The Hess Collection Winery, located within the Mount Veeder sub-appellation within Napa Valley. I had tasted Hess Collection wines last year at the Napa Valley tasting in Toronto and felt the wines they offered that day represented relatively good value and figured I would see more good value at the winery - and I was not disappointed.

The site on which The Hess Collection sits was established as a winery in the 1860's. Fast forward to 1978, where Donald Hess established his first Mount Veeder vineyard. Hess Collection now owns 1,034 acres of prime California vineyards, including 704 acres in Napa Valley. The tasting room and art museum are located on Redwood Road, west of St. Helena Highway and the famous Silverado Trail. It is reachable after driving approximately 10-15 minutes on a narrow, long and winding, uphill road.

Since its inception, The Hess Collection has tried to use sustainable and environmentally-sound practices for growing grapes. In 2008, The Hess Collection was among the first 10 wineries to receive certification for the Napa Green Winery program and one of only six wineries to have both Land and Winery certifications. Two years later, they were among the first wineries to be certified through the California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance by third-party verification.

Wine Tasting at The Hess Collection WineryWine Tasting at The Hess Collection Winery

Due to arriving a bit later than expected because of late-morning traffic, I didn't have time to do a very in-depth tasting, but did get a chance to taste some wonderful wines nonetheless. My favourite was the 2010 Mount Veeder 19 Block Cuvée. This special wine comes from 19 blocks from their highest altitude estate vineyard (Veeder Summit Vineyard), with altitudes ranging from 1,300 to 2,000 feet above sea level and features steep slopes and volcanic soils. Overall, this red wine is intensely flavoured, complex and ageable for at least 4 years, although you will be tempted to enjoy it now.

Full wine reviews of many of the wines I tasted on this day are available at the bottom of this post.

For our second stop of the afternoon, we ventured back east along the aforementioned Redwood Road, passed St. Helena Hwy and the Silverado Trail, towards the eastern side of Napa Valley

A View of Napa Valley from Palmaz VineyardsPalmaz Vineyards

Upon arriving at the front gate at Palmaz Vineyards, I realized that we were going to be in for something special. After being let in through the gate, driving by a former gatehouse, and up 4 levels along a steep and twisty road on Mount George, we arrived at the main entrance and were promptly greeted by Diana Lasso, National Estate Ambassador at Palmaz Vineyards and our guide on this visit.

Veranda at Palmaz Vineyards

We began the tour outside the main entrance on level 4, overlooking the vineyards and the said gatehouse, while having an expansive view of the Napa landscape. Diana began by telling us about the rich history surrounding the property that began its story as Cedar Knoll Vineyard and Winery by Henry Hagen in 1881. Henry was one of the Napa Valley's pioneer winemakers, and his wines garnered many awards. Unfortunately, Prohibition forced the winery to close and the site laid dormant for nearly 80 years.

In 1997, soon after Julio and Amalia Palmaz purchased the property, they began to restore it and accomplish a shared dream. Those in the medical profession may recognize the name "Julio Palmaz" - he invented the now widely used coronary heart stent.

We were also informed that the former gatehouse we saw upon entering the estate was restored and is now the home of Christian Gaston Palmaz, Director of Operations, and son of Julio and Amalia. He lives there with his wife Jessica Louise Palmaz.

Dr. Julio Palmaz had great interest in mechanics and engineering and played an integral role in designing Palmaz Vineyards' gravity-flow winery. Inside, we got to see the grape sorter that he helped design - it was quite versatile as it was able to sort different sizes of grapes with relative ease. Being a gravity-fed winery, the grapes arrive at the top to be sorted and de-stemmed and then proceed on an ever downward path and eventually bottled. The height of the cave is equivalent to an 18-storey building. We got a glimpse of this depth in the stairwell, looking down the centre of the staircase.

Palmaz Vineyards: Versatile Grape SorterPalmaz Vineyards: Staring Down 18-Storey Drop

Palmaz Vineyards: The View from Level 4Palmaz Vineyards: The View from Level 3

Fermentation Level at Palmaz VineyardsBarrels at Palmaz Vineyards

Once the grapes are sorted, they go down one level and into fermentation tanks. The dome in which these tanks are housed is 72 feet in diameter and 54 feet high and is the world's largest underground reinforced structure. One can truly appreciate the design and beauty of the dome when looking up from Level 3, where the fermentation tanks are held. The cave also houses its own water treatment plant, resulting in reuse of all waste water and in compliance with strict conservation guidelines.

Next, we went down another level to Level 2 and visited the barrel ageing room, as well as the racking area. During the whole tour, I couldn't help but notice that everything was SO clean - the level of cleanliness appeared to be medical-grade and seemed cleaner than some hospitals I've been to.

By now, I think we were all salivating at the thought of finally tasting the wines after being awestruck by the facility. We entered the classically-styled dining room and sat down at a long, very grandiose, dining table. Diane took us through the tasting menu as we paired four wines with bite-sized treats.

Wine Tasting at Palmaz VineyardsGroup Photo at Palmaz Vineyards

The pairings were all very well done, but my favourite was the Muscat Canelli with the Almond and Apricot biscotti. This wine also paired well with the Dark Chocolate Cabernet Truffle, while the two Cabernets also fared very well with the chocolate truffle. My favourite wine was the '09 Cabernet Sauvignon with it's classic aromas and flavours, smooth, velvety tannins, mouth-watering acids all nicely balanced into one cohesive wine. It paired really well with the Piave Vecchio (hard, cow's milk cheese).

If you are ever in Napa, I would highly recommend adding Palmaz Vineyards to your itinerary as it is truly an amazing winery. Note that tours and tastings are available by appointment only.

Model photoshoot overlooking vineyards
The third stop of the day was Miner Family Winery, located on the scenic Silverado Trail. Most of our group appeared to arrive at Miner breathless due to the amazing experience at Palmaz. This resulted in only a few of us partaking in the tasting on Miner's lovely upper deck patio with a sweeping view of vineyards located in the Oakville AVA.

The Miner Family Winery brand was born in 1996, three years after Dave Miner got his start in wine as President of Oakville Ranch Vineyards - a winery owned by his late uncle, Robert Miner. In 1999, Dave and his wife Emily purchased the winery building from his family and released the first Miner Family wines. That same year, a 15-month project to build caves concluded, resulting in over 20,000+ square feet of space they could now use for wine ageing. Impressively, since 2008, Miner has been running exclusively on solar power. Next time, I think a tour will be in order to see first-hand some of these impressive accomplishments.

Miner Family Winery tasting menu
In all, we tasted 5 wines (+1 one more that only I tasted inside at the bar) from what appeared to be a specially crafted menu just for us. All 5 wines were very good to outstanding in quality, with the favourite being aptly named "The Oracle". This Bordeaux-blend is their flagship wine that was first made in 2004. The 2008 version of this fabulous red wine was most recently in Vintages last October, and I expect the 2009 will be available at some point later this year.

Our final stop of the afternoon was a quick and unplanned visit to Priest Ranch Wines. This winery had a rustic, Western charm and was conveniently located just off St. Helena Hwy in the town of Yountville, en route back to home base.

Priest Ranch was originally part of the 8,500-acre Rancho Catacula Mexican land grant that took place in 1844 and remained in the Priest family for over a century until it was sold in 1963. In 2006, Priest Ranch became part of the Somerston Estate.

Wine label of 2008 Priest Ranch Coachgun
Tasting through a flight of wines and meeting Jack Edwards, Vice President of Sales, my favourite wines were the Syrah and the Bordeaux-blend Coachgun. Ironically, neither of these wines are currently available at the LCBO, but perhaps may make an appearance in the future, while the others I tasted have made their way onto LCBO shelves. On my next visit, I think I will make a point to visit Somerston Estate to experience their all-terrain vineyard tour and taste some of their limited production wines.

Given the quality of the small sampling of just 2 Syrahs I tasted on this trip, I will definitely be seeking out more Syrah from Napa. Currently the 6th most planted grape in California, I would love to see Syrah move up a couple of places and become more widely planted.

And finally, a big thank you to Megan Basten at Profile Wine Group, who helped arrange the visits to Palmaz Vineyards and Miner Family Winery, while also introducing me to Somerston Estate.

Tasting Notes:
HESS SMALL BLOCK VIOGNIER 2012 - Mount Veeder, Napa Valley (#) (XD) - $28
Aromas are of medium+ intensity and show fresh notes of clean lime, citrus and nectarine. Medium+ bodied with a very oily and slightly chalky texture on the palate. 14.5% alcohol by volume (abv). Good acids and a long finish. Tingly mouth sensation is numbing. Serve well-chilled. Score: 89 pts

HESS MOUNT VEEDER CHARDONNAY 2012 - Mount Veeder, Napa Valley (#) (XD) - $40
Did not undergo malolactic fermentation and was aged in neutral French oak. Medium-intensity aromas which show orchard fruits, pear and white peach notes. Medium-bodied on the palate with nicely balanced aroma replays and mineral notes. Good acids. Elegant spice on the long finish. Score: 90 pts

HESS ALLOMI VINEYARD CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2012 - Napa Valley (#906420) (XD) - $30 USD / $37.95 CAD
Aged in American oak and contains 10% Petite Sirah and 2% Petit Verdot. Medium+ aroma intensity with ripe fruits, plum, cherry notes. Medium+ bodied with integrated tannins on palate with flavours of cassis, plum, pepper, and spice. Good acids and a long, warm finish. Score: 89 pts

HESS MOUNT VEEDER 19 BLOCK CUVÉE 2010 - Mount Veeder, Napa Valley (#018879) (D) - $38 USD / $47.95 CAD
Blend of 68% Cabernet Sauvignon, 14% Malbec, 11% Syrah, 6% Merlot, and 1% Petit Verdot. Medium-high intensity aromas that show complex bretty, red fruits, black currant, and tobacco. The palate is medium-bodied with flavours consisting of blackberry, black cherry, vanilla, green pepper and oak spice. Mouth-watering acids and finishing long with tobacco and slight earthy notes. Dry tannins are nicely integrated. Enjoyable over the next 4 years. Score: 91 pts

Wine Tasting at Palmaz Vineyards

PALMAZ CHARDONNAY "AMALIA" 2012 - Napa Valley (#) (XD) - $55
Highly aromatic with elegant apple, pear and butter aromas. Nice and creamy on the medium-bodied palate with very nice aroma replays. Well-balanced overall with a long, long finish that is slightly warm and has some subtle spice notes. Score: 91 pts

PALMAZ ESTATE CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2009 - Napa Valley (#) (XD) - $145
Contains 1% Petit Verdot. Aromas are very expressive, showing currant, cassis, blackberry and slight brettiness. It's medium-full bodied with nicely balanced aroma replays. Mouth-watering acids to go along with smooth, velvety tannins on the palate. Long, smooth finish. Balanced wine overall. A delight. Score: 93 pts

PALMAZ ESTATE CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2010 - Napa Valley (#) (XD) - $120
Include 3% Petit Verdot. Highly aromatic with elegant barnyard, cassis and currant aromas. Palate is full-bodied with black currants, earthiness and black cherry flavours. Mouth-watering acids and tannins that are smooth and integrating nicely. Lengthy finish. Nicely balanced. Would give this another in bottle for everything to come together. Score: 92 pts

PALMAZ MUSCAT CANELLI "FLORENCIA" 2012 - Napa Valley (#) (MS) - $55
Medium+ aromas with elegant peach, tropical fruit, and melon aromas. Fresh, clean, orange citrus and peach flavour profile that is medium-dry. Has crisp acids and a long finish that is slightly oily in texture. Score: 90 pts

MINER THE ILIAD 2012 - Napa Valley (#) (XD) - $30
Blend of 54% Marsanne, 40% Roussanne, and 6% Viognier. Medium-high intensity aromas featuring clean herbal, pear, and florals. On the mineral-driven palate, there are aroma replays and crisp acids. Finish is long with herbal notes in play. Score: 89 pts

MINER WILD YEAST CHARDONNAY 2010 - Napa Valley (#) (XD) - $50
Highly aromatic with apple, butter, and pear notes with hints of butterscotch. Medium+ bodied on the palate with crisp acids and nice aroma replays along with hints of crème brûlée. Texture is creamy with a finish that's long and smooth. A little high in alcohol at 14.3%. Score: 90 pts

MINER ROSELLA'S VINEYARD PINOT NOIR 2011 - Santa Lucia Highlands, Monterey (#) (XD) - $60
Aromas are of medium+ intensity and show strawberry, cherry and citrus on the nose. It's low-to-medium weighted with crisp acids. Warm red berries, hint of earth on the palate. Slightly astringent. Very fruit-driven and finishing long. Score: 89 pts

MINER LA DILIGENCE SYRAH 2009 - Stagecoach Vineyard, Napa Valley (#) (XD) - $40
Medium+ aromas with nose consisting of blueberry preserve, purple fruits, and bacon. Medium-full bodied with warm, black fruits, meaty, peppercorn and subtle smoke on the palate. Mouth-watering acids and finishing long, and smooth. Tannins are nicely integrated. Made in a northern Rhône style, this very nice wine is drinkable now or can be enjoyed over the next 2-3 years. Score: 90+ pts

MINER CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2011 - Napa Valley (#) (XD) - $50
Contains 8% Cabernet Franc and 2% Merlot. Grilled green pepper and currants show on the highly aromatic nose. Full-bodied with finely-grained tannins, aromas replay on the palate joined by herbal notes and some oak. Mouth-watering acids and a very long finish. Score: 89 pts

MINER THE ORACLE 2009 - Napa Valley (#046367) (XD) - $90 USD / $99.95 CAD
Barrel aged in 55% new French Oak blend consisting of 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Cabernet Franc, 15% Merlot, 5% Malbec, and 5% Petit Verdot. Elegant oak, currant, cassis, vanillan and red berry notes make up the medium+ intensity bouquet. It's full-bodied with red currant, leather and sweet tobacco flavours and a spicy mid-palate. Has good acids, drying tannins and a lengthy finish. Drinking well now, could be enjoyed until 2019. Score: 91 pts

PRIEST RANCH SYRAH 2009 - Somerston Vineyard, Napa Valley (#) (XD) - $38
Aromas are of medium intensity with nose consisting of peppercorn, oak and dark fruits. It's full-bodied with very good acids and flavours of peppercorn, blueberry and vanillan oak. Slightly chalky tannins. Long and spicy finish. Very much Old World style. Enjoyable now, but will reward in 2-3 years. Score: 89-90 pts

PRIEST RANCH CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2011 - Somerston Vineyard, Napa Valley (#361097) (XD) - $48 USD / $52 CAD
Contains 5% Petit Sirah. Highly aromatic with green pepper and red currant nose. Medium-full bodied with aroma replays on the palate joined by cassis and minty complexity. Dry, chalky tannins and long, slightly warm finish. Could use 2-3 years in cellar. Score: 89 pts

PRIEST RANCH PETITE SIRAH 2010 - Somerston Vineyard, Napa Valley (#361105) (XD) - $40 USD / $52 CAD
Medium+ intensity nose with mulberry, currants, dried fruit and mint aromas. Medium-bodied with eucalyptus, spice, blackberry and sweet vanillan flavours on the palate. Tannins are crunchy, big, and smooth. Very good acids and slightly warm finish. Score: 89 pts

PRIEST RANCH COACHGUN 2008 - Somerston Vineyard, Napa Valley (#) (XD) - $75
Blend of 68% Cabernet Sauvignon, 22% Merlot, and 10% Petit Verdot. This mature red has medium-high intensity aromas that has a nose consisting of dried fruits, mint, and raisined notes. Full-bodied on the palate with nice aroma replays along with dark fruits, sweet cassis, and eucalyptus flavour profile. Finish is long and warm. Score: 90+ pts

Note: All prices are in USD, unless otherwise stated.

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  • Date publishedSunday, August 17, 2014

Wine Reviews - August 16th Birthday Party

Here are wine reviews of some of the wines we enjoyed yesterday at my 1-year-old daughter's 1st birthday party. The big winners among guests were definitely the Minervois and the Crianza as I received lots of positive comments about both of those red wines.

Tasting Notes:
KÖNIGSCHAFFHAUSER VULKANFELSEN PINOT NOIR ROSÉ TROCKEN 2013 - Qualitätswein, Baden, Germany (#168237) (D) - $13.95
From the Vintages release and quite a few remain in stock depending on which LCBO is nearest to you. Fresh aromas of medium+ intensity with a nose of strawberry, rose, cherry and grapefruit. It's light-to-medium bodied and off-dry on the palate with more grapefruit, cherry and hints of honey flavours. Very fresh mouthfeel with zippy, refreshing acids. Good length on the finish. Score: 88 pts
Wine Review of 2013 Königschaffhauser Vulkanfelsen Pinot Noir Rosé Trocken from Baden, Germany

ERRÁZURIZ MAX RESERVA SAUVIGNON BLANC 2013 - Aconcagua Costa, Chile (#273342) (XD) - $15.95
First tasted at the Errázuriz winemaker tasting . Highly aromatic gooseberry, cat pee, and herbal aromas from the glass. Light-to-medium bodied on the palate along with a slightly creamy texture. Balanced aroma replays, plus green pepper, lime peel notes on the palate. Has lively acidity and a lengthy finish. Classic Sauvignon Blanc. LCBO General List and on sale at select LCBO outlets. Score: 89 pts

Wine Review of 2013 Errázuriz Max Reserva Sauvignon Blanc from Aconcagua Valley, Chile

VINELAND ESTATES SEMI-DRY RIESLING 2012 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#232033) (D) - $13.95
LCBO General List product. Medium-high aromas that show lemon, pear, tropical fruit and hint of petrol. Slight spritz on the off-dry palate with lively acids, lemon, mineral, and touch of honeyed fruit flavours. Finish is lengthy, with sweetness tapering off to a dry finish. Even though designated as "semi-dry", was not as sweet as I expected. Score: 88+ pts

Wine Review of 2012 Vineland Estates Semi-Dry Riesling from VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada

CHÂTEAU DE GOURGAZAUD CUVÉE MATHILDE MINERVOIS 2011 - AC, Midi, France (#958629) (XD) - $14.95
From Vintages release. Blend of Syrah and Mourvèdre. Medium+ aroma intensity with blackberry, blackcherry and hints of violet. On the palate, it's medium-full bodied with round tannins that are nicely integrated. Pleasing aroma replays, along with black pepper and red cherry notes. Acids are well-balanced. Finish is long and smooth. Score: 88 pts

Wine Review of 2011 Château de Gourgazaud Cuvée Mathilde Minervois from AC, Midi, France

ABAD DOM BUENO CRIANZA 2006 - DO Bierzo, Spain (#244699) (XD) - $14.95
From the Vintages release and virtually sold out. Made using the Mencía grape and highly fragrant with sinewy black fruits, violets, smoky oak and hint of barnyard from the glass. On the palate, it's full-bodied with very nice aroma replays, earthy and elegant oak spice. Big, smooth tannins are still full and integrating nicely. Very good acids and length. Ageing gracefully at 8 years old, will reward further 4-5 years in cellar. Expect some sediment. Reminds me of a Brunello. Amazing value. Score: 90 pts
Wine Review of 2006 Abad Dom Bueno Crianza from DO Bierzo, Spain

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  • Date publishedMonday, August 11, 2014

Aug. 16 LCBO Wine Picks: Southern Belles + Malbec

Wine Picks from August 16, 2014 LCBO Vintages Magazine
The next Vintages release will be in LCBO outlets across Ontario on . The major theme of this release highlights wines from the South of France, a region frequently referred to as Midi or Languedoc, while the second theme focuses on Argentina's signature grape - Malbec.

I was surprised to see only 12 wines listed in the South of France feature as it's rather small compared to recent main Vintages themes. However, nearly half made my list of wine picks, and the lone white is a Viognier. Among the reds, 2 wines from Minervois appellation made the cut. From Gourgazaud is a blend of Syrah and Mourvèdre, while the version from Hecht & Bannier is mostly Syrah, some Grenache, and drops of Carignan. Also from Hecht & Bannier is their Saint-Chinian, which is mainly Syrah, with Grenache and Mourvèdre blended in support, all of which hails from the Saint-Chinian AOC. And lastly, from Gérard Bertrand is a blend of Syrah, Mourvèdre and Grenache and comes from the Pic Saint-Loup appellation.

The feature on Argentina's Malbec was a bit disappointing as there were some good wines, but represented poor value. Just one of the six wines made my list of recommendations below. The Malbec from Finca Decero hails from a single vineyard located 1,050 metres above sea level in Agrelo.

From the rest of the release, the Basa Blanco is a crisp, dry white wine that is a blend consisting of 85% Verdejo, 12% Viura, and 3% Sauvignon Blanc. Sweet wine lovers will want to consider any of the 4 Rieslings I've recommended below - there are two each from Ontario and Germany. The Tavel Rosé is a blend of Grenache, Cinsault, Syrah and Mourvèdre. In red wines, the Crianza is mostly Tempranillo, with Garnacha tinta (Grenache) and Graciano also blended in. And finally, the Châteauneuf-du-Pape is 70% Grenache, with Mourvèdre, Syrah, Cinsault and other grape varieties making up the final 30% of the blend.

Enjoy my Vintages wine recommendations for this week. Cheers!

Red Wine:
  • CHÂTEAU DE GOURGAZAUD CUVÉE MATHILDE MINERVOIS 2011 - AC, Midi, France (#958629) (XD) - $14.95
  • LÓPEZ DE HARO CRIANZA 2008 - DOCa Rioja, Spain (#377481) (XD) - $15.95
  • CASA SILVA LOS LINGUES GRAN RESERVA CARMENÈRE 2012 - Colchagua Valley, Chile (#059477) (XD) - $15.95
  • GÉRARD BERTRAND GRAND TERROIR PIC SAINT LOUP 2011 - AP Coteaux du Languedoc, Midi, France (#376491) (XD) - $19.95
  • HECHT & BANNIER MINERVOIS 2011 - AC, Midi, France (#017764) (XD) - $20.95
  • DECERO REMOLINOS VINEYARD MALBEC 2011 - Agrelo, Central Region, Mendoza, Argentina (#247304) (XD) - $22.95
  • HECHT & BANNIER SAINT-CHINIAN 2011 - AC, Midi, France (#184184) (XD) - $25.95  reviewed here
  • VILLA ANNABERTA AMARONE DELLA VALPOLICELLA 2010 - DOCG, Veneto, Italy (#338921) (D) - $39.95
  • DOMAINE MONPERTUIS CHÂTEAUNEUF-DU-PAPE 2010 - AC, Rhone, France (#358663) (XD) - $42.95
  • RAYMOND DISTRICT COLLECTION CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2009 - St. Helena, Napa Valley, California, USA (#054734) (XD) - $74.95

White Wine:
  • GUILLAUME AURÈLE VIOGNIER 2013 - IGP Pays d’Oc, Midi, France (#380741) (XD) - $13.95
  • POIRON DABIN VIEILLES VIGNES MUSCADET SÈVRE & MAINE SUR LIE 2012 - AC, Loire, France (#380006) (XD) - $14.95
  • BASA BLANCO 2013 - DO Rueda, Spain (#381558) (XD) - $17.95
  • REDSTONE LIMESTONE VINEYARD SOUTH RIESLING 2012 - VQA Twenty Mile Bench, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#381251) (M) - $18.95  reviewed here
  • VINELAND ESTATES ELEVATION ST. URBAN VINEYARD RIESLING 2012 - VQA Niagara Escarpment, Ontario, Canada (#038117) (M) - $19.95
  • REICHSGRAF VON KESSELSTATT KASELER NIES'CHEN RIESLING KABINETT 2006 - Pradikätswein, Mosel, Germany (#940809) (MD) - $19.95  reviewed here
  • DR. HERMANN ERDENER TREPPCHEN RIESLING AUSLESE 2005 - Prädikatswein, Mosel, Germany (#376368) (M) - $23.95
  • NORMAN HARDIE NIAGARA UNFILTERED CHARDONNAY 2012 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#184432) (XD) - $39.20
  • DOMAINE BILLAUD-SIMON LES VAILLONS CHABLIS 1 ER CRU 2011 - AC, Burgundy, France (#330175) (XD) - $39.95

Rosé Wine:
  • DOMAINE LA ROCALIÈRE TAVEL ROSÉ 2013 - AC, Rhône, France (#375618) (XD) - $19.95

  • VALDESPINO INOCENTE SINGLE VINEYARD FINO DRY SHERRY - DO Jerez-Xérès-Sherry, Spain (#378919) (XD) - $22.95

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

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  • Date publishedSaturday, August 9, 2014

Emiliana Novas Gran Reserva Petit Verdot 2011 (Chile) - Wine Review

Tonight's organic red wine is a lovely Petit Verdot that I heard was specially crafted for the LCBO and was purchased from the September 14, 2013 Vintages release. As it's completely sold out, I wouldn't be surprised to see it show up in Vintages again later this year. If you have this bottle, you may want to open it soon.

EMILIANA NOVAS GRAN RESERVA PETIT VERDOT 2011 - Colchagua Valley, Chile (#325662) (XD) - $15.95
Wine label of 2011 Emiliana Novas Gran Reserva Petit Verdot from Colchagua Valley, ChileWine review of 2011 Emiliana Novas Gran Reserva Petit Verdot from Colchagua Valley, Chile
Tasting Note:
Blackcurrant, cola and oak aromas from the cork. Medium+ intensity aromas from the glass that show blackberry, black cherry, cola and new oak notes. Full-bodied and very dense on the palate. Flavour profile consists of blackberry, earth, vanillan oak, and ash. Mouth-watering acids. Tannins with firm, drying, and nicely integrated. Long, smooth finish that is definitely bitter. Fruit is starting to fade - drink over the next year. Enjoyed with homemade chicken curry. Score: 89 pts

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  • Date publishedMonday, August 4, 2014

Ice House Slushies Cabernet Sauvignon (Ontario) - Wine Review

Tonight's wine is this delicious dessert wine made by The Ice House Winery, located in Niagara-on-the-Lake.

I picked up this bottle last January during the Icewine Festival. It's worth noting even though it is a sweet, dessert wine, it is not VQA, nor is it labelled as Icewine. Regardless, those who prefer sweet wines will enjoy this one.

ICE HOUSE SLUSHIES CABERNET SAUVIGNON - Ontario, Canada (#) (S) (375 mL) - $45

Wine Label of Ice House Slushies Cabernet SauvignonWine Review of Ice House Slushies Cabernet Sauvignon

Tasting Note:
Citrus, orange marmalade and date aromas from the cork. Medium-high aromatics from the glass featuring orange peel, dried cherry, and poached currants. It's medium-bodied and sweet on the palate with cherry, orange, tea flavours and some bitter currants on the medium-long finish. Acids are crisp and balance the sweetness well. Requires only a light chill. Score: 88 pts

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  • Date publishedSaturday, August 2, 2014

Hauller Muenchberg Riesling 2011 (Alsace) - Wine Review

Purchased this delicious Grand Cru from a Vintages release last November and opened it last night to celebrate my daughter's 1st birthday. Amazingly, there are still a few bottles kicking around GTA LCBO outlets - get it if you enjoy sweeter wine.

HAULLER MUENCHBERG RIESLING 2011 - AC Alsace Grand Cru, France (#360370) (D) - $19.95

Wine Label of 2011 Hauller Muenchberg Riesling from AC Grand Cru, FranceWine Review of 2011 Hauller Muenchberg Riesling from AC Grand Cru, France

Tasting Note:
Apple, mineral and melon aromas from the cork. Mineral, petrol, lime, citrus and wet rock aromas from the glass giveway to distinct lemon drop notes as it warms up in the glass. It's medium bodied and off-dry on the palate with delicious lemon peel, citrus, wet rocks, and honey flavours. Complex and exquisitely balanced overall with fresh acids and a long, mineral-lemony finish. Highly recommended. Score: 90 pts

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