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  • Date publishedMonday, September 22, 2014

Sept. 27 LCBO Wine Picks: Pioneers + Portugal

LCBO Wine Picks from September 27, 2014 VINTAGES Release
The next LCBO Vintages release will be on shelves this . The main focus of this release is titled "Breaking Ground" and highlights top wines from 11 pioneers from the world of wine. The mini-feature of this release is on wines from Portugal.

Of the eight wines from Portugal, just one made my list of wine picks. The red wine from Quinta de Pancas is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon and hails from the DOC Lisboa, a region that until 2009 was formerly known as Estremadura. This is a wine you'll want to cellar for at least a couple of years. A brief mention in this section points you to the back of the magazine, where a stellar selection of Vintage Ports from the outstanding 2011 vintage can be found. These Port wines will easily last 30 years, and are available in limited quantities throughout the province. If you had a child born in 2011, get one and open it to celebrate their 30th birthday!

From the "Breaking Ground" section, there are four wines that caught my attention. First up is the Catena Alta Malbec by Nicolas Catena - a man who pioneered winemaking in high-altitude vineyards, as well as helped develop the premium wine scene in Argentina. Next is John Shafer of Shafer Vineyards who helped pioneer the big, burly California Cabs from challenging hillside vines. However, it's his Red Shoulder Ranch Chardonnay (barrel-fermented using wild yeasts, and partially aged in French oak) that I am recommending. In South Africa, Tim Hamilton Russell pioneered the idea that South Africa could produce quality wines from cool-climate varietals - and he was right! His Pinot Noir in this release is from Hemel-en-Aarde Valley, a wine region that is considered to be cool-climate. Lastly, "Breaking Ground" in the case of Rockway Vineyards in Niagara literally meant that - with a wine museum, gourmet dining and a golf course adjacent to the winery boosting local wine tourism in the region. Their 2011 Small Lot Meritage (38% Cab Sauv, 38% Cab Franc, and 24% Merlot) is featured in this weekend's Vintages release.

From the rest of the release, the Domaine Lafage is an 80/20 Grenache/Syrah blend, while the Domaine des Andrines also contains Syrah & Grenache. Also from Rhône is the Domaine Brusset, consisting of 65% Grenache, 15% Syrah, 15% Mourvèdre, and 5% Cinsault. From Spain, the Vizcarra (100% Tempranillo) returns one year later with another year of development under its belt. The last of the reds is an SGM from John Duval that blends 48% Shiraz, 31% Grenache, 21% Mourvèdre.

In white wines, the off-dry (i.e. slightly sweet) Vouvray from Clos le Vigneau and is 100% Chenin Blanc. Sweet wine lovers can once again look to Riesling to satisfy their sweet tooth, but should also check out the Port wines for maximum enjoyment.

Enjoy my wine recommendations for this week. Cheers!

Red Wine:
  • DOMAINE LAFAGE VIGNES MAGIQUES GRENACHE/SYRAH 2011 - Lieu-dit La Pantaline, AP, Midi, France (#383752) (XD) - $17.95
  • DOMAINE DES ANDRINES CÔTES DU RHÔNE 2012 - AC, Rhône, France (#380592) (XD) - $17.95
  • QUINTA DE PANCAS SELECÇÃO DO ENÓLOGO 2010 - DOC Lisboa, Portugal (#380931) (XD) - $18.95
  • ROCKWAY ESTATE SMALL LOT MERITAGE 2011 - VQA Twenty Mile Bench, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#388264) (XD) - $19.95
  • VENTISQUERO GREY SINGLE BLOCK CARMENÈRE 2011 - Trinidad Vineyard, Maipo Valley, Chile (#325415) (XD) - $19.95  reviewed here
  • BODEGAS VIZCARRA JC VIZCARRA 2010 - DO Ribera del Duero, Spain (#214650) (XD) - $30.95
  • HAMILTON RUSSELL PINOT NOIR 2012 - WO Hemel-en-Aarde Valley, Walker Bay, South Africa (#999516) (D) - $44.95
  • CATENA ALTA MALBEC 2011 - Mendoza, Argentina (#982355) (XD) - $49.95
  • JOHN DUVAL PLEXUS SHIRAZ/GRENACHE/MOURVÈDRE 2009 - Barossa Valley, South Australia (#073049) (XD) - $49.95

White Wine:
  • HENRY OF PELHAM ESTATE RIESLING 2012 - VQA Short Hills Bench, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#557165) (M) - $17.95
  • BABICH BLACK LABEL SAUVIGNON BLANC 2013 - Marlborough, South Island, New Zealand (#009142) (XD) - $17.95
  • LAWSON’S DRY HILLS SAUVIGNON BLANC 2013 - Marlborough, South Island, New Zealand (#214460) (XD) - $18.95
  • DEU LA DEU ALVARINHO VINHO VERDE 2013 - Monção e Melgaço, DOC, Portugal (#040642) (XD) - $19.95
  • CLOS LE VIGNEAU VOUVRAY 2012 - AC, Loire, France (#318840) (D) - $19.95
  • SOUTHBROOK TRIOMPHE SAUVIGNON BLANC 2013 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#117556) (XD) - $21.95  reviewed here
  • QUAILS’ GATE CHARDONNAY 2012 - VQA Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, Canada (#377770) (XD) - $21.95
  • TEGERNSEERHOF SMARAGD BERGDISTEL GRÜNER VELTLINER 2012 - Wachau, Austria (#377606) (XD) - $24.95
  • WEGELER RÜDESHEIMER BERG SCHLOSSBERG RIESLING KABINETT 2012 - Rheingau, Germany (#378083) (M) - $25.95  reviewed here
  • JEAN-MARC BROCARD VAU DE VAY CHABLIS 1 ER CRU 2012 - AC, Burgundy, France (#159012) (XD) - $29.95
  • SHAFER RED SHOULDER RANCH CHARDONNAY 2012 - Carneros, Napa Valley, California, USA (#045583) (XD) - $67.95

  • PILLITTERI CABERNET SAUVIGNON ICEWINE 2011 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#589093) (S) (200 mL) - $34.95  reviewed here

  • COCKBURN’S VINTAGE PORT 2011 - DOC Duoro, Portugal (#362251) (MS) - $80.00
  • QUINTA DO NOVAL VINTAGE PORT 2011 - DOC Duoro, Portugal (#362525) (MS) - $90.00
  • TAYLOR FLADGATE VINTAGE PORT 2011 - DOC Duoro, Portugal (#362293) (MS) - $130.00  also available in 375mL and 1500mL

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

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  • Date publishedSaturday, September 20, 2014

Celebrating Canada Braai Day 2014

Canada Braai Day
Today, , is the 2nd Annual Canada Braai Day.

Braai is the Afrikaans term for barbecue. Not only is braai a popular pastime in South Africa, it is a national day of celebration. Every September 24th, South Africans celebrate . At the core of this public holiday is braai - where South Africans across all cultures light fires and have great feasts. Tonight, I will be enjoying these two popular South African beverages to celebrate Braai Day in Canada, both of which are readily available at the LCBO.

(A sensuous Sosaties lamb feast off the barbecue was planned, but unfortunately had to be cancelled due to unforeseen events. Recipe provided below.)

Tasting Notes:
SAVANNA DRY PREMIUM CIDER - South Africa (#379818) - $9.95 / 4pk
All sorts of apple aromas - caramelized, apple sauce, ripe apple juice. Mild apple flavours on the palate. Finely balanced mousse with a short, crisp finish. 5% abv. Available in 4 x 330 mL packs.

TWO OCEANS SHIRAZ 2013 - WO Western Cape, South Africa (#699249) (D) - $10.25
A refreshed, and much classier looking label compared to the last time I had this wine. Screw cap. Medium+ intensity aromas with smoky oak jumping out of the glass and giving way to blackberry, meaty, blackberry and cherry notes. It's medium-bodied on the palate with flavours of black cherry, vanillan spice, and roasted coffee. Balanced, refreshing acids and a medium-length, dark roast coffee and vanillan flavoured finish. Easy drinking, BBQ wine. Score: 86 pts

Celebrating Canada Braai Day with Savanna Premium Cider and 2013 Two Oceans Shiraz from South Africa

Sosaties Recipe (makes 12 skewers) provided by Chef Master Martin Moore of Durbanville Hills Cellar 

  • 1.5kg leg of lamb, deboned and cut into 25mm cubes
  • 2 medium onions peeled and halved lengthwise, then blanched for 5 minutes;
  • Refresh in ice water and layers separated
  • 2/3 cup dried apricots, soaked in onion water

Curried Marinade:
  • 4 large onions, sliced
  • 3 teaspoons mild curry powder
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 2 tablespoons cooking oil
  • 3 cups vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 3 tablespoons apricot jam or 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • Pinch of pepper
  • Pinch of chili powder

Marinate meat in curried marinade overnight. Sauté onions in heated cooking oil until translucent. Add curry powder and fry for approximately 2 minutes. Add all remaining ingredients, simmer and set aside to cool. Thread the skewers, alternating the meat, apricots and onion pieces. Grill slowly over hot coals.

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  • Date publishedThursday, September 11, 2014

Southbrook Vineyards Organic Wine Tasting

Southbrook Vineyards
I received these wines to celebrate Southbrook Vineyards' recent inclusion into the high-quality prepared food section of distinguished British retailer Marks & Spencer. Southbrook is now the sole Canadian vintner to be found in this section. This is also Southbrook's first foray into the U.K. market with Demeter-certified biodynamic wine.

"We are thrilled and honoured with the Marks & Spencer designation," says Bill Redelmeier, co-owner of Southbrook Vineyards.

"Our focus is on the importance of organic and biodynamic viticulture in the production of great wine, something which places us on the leading edge of winemaking globally. It is a wonderful opportunity for us to partner with one of the world's great retailers in one of the world's great wine markets."

All three of the wines below are certified organic, while the two Cabernets are also certified biodynamic. Furthermore, all three of these of wines are available (or will be available soon) in the LCBO Vintages section.

Tasting Notes:
SOUTHBROOK TRIOMPHE SAUVIGNON BLANC 2013 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#117556) (D) - $21.95
Stelvin screw cap. Medium intensity, elegant lime and mineral nose with hints of lychee, floral and citrus coming from the 5% (Reimer Vineyard) Gewürztraminer that adds some interesting complexity. Honeyed fruits with floral tones lead the way on medium-bodied palate. Also notable pink grapefruit flavours. Bright acids are nicely balanced, while finish long and honeyed. Slightly off-dry. 95% Laundry Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc. Certified organic and vegan-friendly. Will be in September 27 Vintages release. Not your typical Savvy, but tasty nonetheless. Recommended. Score: 89 pts

Wine Review of 2013 Southbrook Triomphe Sauvignon Blanc from VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada

SOUTHBROOK TRIOMPHE CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2012 - VQA Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada (#193573) (XD) - $22.95
Stelvin screw cap. Slightly closed nose with red currants, hints of violet, and smoky cassis undertones. On the medium-bodied palate, it has flavours of blackberry, red currants and oak spice. Tannins integrating nicely. Finish is medium in length. Vintages Essentials product and always available. Score: 87 pts

Wine Review of 2012 Southbrook Triomphe Cabernet Sauvignon from VQA Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada

SOUTHBROOK TRIOMPHE CABERNET FRANC 2012 - VQA Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada (#275958) (XD) - $21.95
Stelvin screw cap. Contains 12.4% Merlot. Medium+ intensity aromas with barnyard, earthy notes dominating, layered with black cherry, black currants, and fresh cedar oak. Palate is medium+ bodied with firm tannins and a flavour profile consisting of blackberry, black cherry, sweet vanillan oak, and slight meaty character. Mouth-watering acids and medium-length finish. Enjoy over the next 2-4 years. Just released in the upcoming September 13 Vintages release. Recommended. Score: 89 pts

Wine Review of 2012 Southbrook Triomphe Cabernet Franc from VQA Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada

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  • Date publishedMonday, September 8, 2014

Sept. 13 LCBO Wine Picks: Ontario + Vino Nobile di Montepulciano

LCBO Wine Picks from September 13, 2014 VINTAGES Release
The next batch of wines will hit LCBO Vintages shelves this . In line with local harvest season, this edition's primary focus is on wines from Ontario, while the secondary focus highlights wines from Vino Nobile di Montepulciano.

The Niagara Peninsula is Ontario's biggest wine region, with Niagara-on-the-Lake (NOTL) arguably the most well-known of the sub-appellations. NOTL is synonymous with Icewine made using Vidal and Riesling grapes, and the always delicious Vidal Icewine from Château des Charmes available in this release. A rising star in Niagara - and my personal favourite Ontario red varietal - is Cabernet Franc. Southbrook's Cabernet Franc is organic and biodynamic.

Wine label of 2011 Charles Baker Picone Vineyard Riesling from VQA Vinemount Ridge, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada
2012 was a great year for red Bordeaux grapes in Niagara - the Thirty Bench Red is a blend of 51% Cabernet Sauvignon, 27% Cabernet Franc, and 22% Merlot. Being a cool-climate region with ideal soil conditions, Niagara does Riesling and Chardonnay very well. Riesling's from Flat Rock Cellars and Charles Baker Wines are both among my wine picks below.

These days, one cannot talk about Ontario wine without mentioning Norman Hardie and his wines from Prince Edward County. "The County" - as it's often known - is still a relatively new VQA wine region, with the first experimental vines planted in the 1980's and the first commercial vinifera vineyard established only in 1993. Norm's County Pinot Noir is a very fine example of the quality that can be found in The County.

From the second focus of this release on wines from Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, just one of the five wines featured made my list of wine picks. Wines from this DOCG fall figuratively and on the map between the lighter Chianti and the fuller Brunello. Known locally as Prugnolo Gentile, Sangiovese is the primary grape grown in this region, and 70% of each wine must be comprised of this grape. The version from Castellani contains 90% Prugnolo Gentile and 10% Canaiolo.

The rest of my LCBO wine picks feature mostly single varietal wines, with a few exceptions. The Côtes du Rhône-Villages is a blend of 70% Grenache and 30% Syrah, while the Rioja is 80% Tempranillo and 20% Garnacha (Grenache). For sweet wine lovers, there is a Pinot Gris, a Tokaji, and plenty of Rieslings for your pleasure.

Enjoy my wine recommendations for this week and hope to see you in Niagara for the upcoming Grape & Wine Festival. Cheers!

Red Wine:
  • DOMAINE DE LA CÔTE CÔTES DU RHÔNE-VILLAGES VALRÉAS 2011 - AC, Rhône, France (#380634) (XD) - $16.95
  • NINQUÉN ANTU CHILEAN MOUNTAIN VINEYARD SYRAH 2012 - Colchagua Valley, Chile (#675371) (XD) - $17.95
  • QUINTA DE PANCAS CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2010 - Vinho Regional Lisboa, Portugal (#380568) (XD) - $18.95
  • CASTELLANI FILICHETO VINO NOBILE DI MONTEPULCIANO 2010 - DOCG, Tuscany, Italy (#184937) (XD) - $19.95
  • SOUTHBROOK TRIOMPHE CABERNET FRANC 2012 - VQA Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada (#275958) (XD) - $21.95  reviewed here
  • REININGER CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2012 - Walla Walla Valley, Washington, USA (#387027) (XD) - $21.95
  • THIRTY BENCH RED 2012 - VQA Beamsville Bench, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#320986) (XD) - $24.00
  • CEDERBERG SHIRAZ 2010 - WO Cederberg, South Africa (#374199) (XD) - $24.95
  • NORMAN HARDIE COUNTY UNFILTERED PINOT NOIR 2012 - VQA Prince Edward County, Ontario, Canada (#125310) (XD) - $39.00
  • LA RIOJA ALTA VIÑA ARDANZA RESERVA 2004 - DOCa Rioja, Spain (#315531) (XD) - $39.95

White Wine:
  • FLAT ROCK RIESLING 2013 - VQA Twenty Mile Bench, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#043281) (M) - $16.95
  • STELLENRUST WILD YEAST BARREL FERMENTED CHARDONNAY 2011 - WO Stellenbosch, South Africa (#382218) (XD) - $17.95
  • BISCHÖFLICHE WEINGÜTER TRIER DOM RIESLING KABINETT 2011 - Prädikatswein, Mosel, Germany (#378828) (MS) - $18.95
  • ANDRÉ BLANCK & SES FILS CLOS SCHWENDI PINOT GRIS 2013 - AC Alsace, France (#686311) (M) - $19.95
  • AUNTSFIELD SINGLE VINEYARD SAUVIGNON BLANC 2013 - Southern Valleys, Marlborough, South Island, New Zealand (#663286) (XD) - $20.95
  • STUDERT-PRÜM GRAACHER HIMMELREICH RIESLING KABINETT 2012 - Prädikatswein, Gutsabfüllung, Mosel, Germany (#160853) (M) - $20.95
  • ROYAL TOKAJI 5 PUTTONYOS TOKAJI ASZÚ 2008 - Hungary (#972836) (S) (250 mL) - $23.95
  • CHARLES BAKER PICONE VINEYARD RIESLING 2011 - VQA Vinemount Ridge, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#241182) (M) - $35.20  reviewed here
  • GRGICH HILLS ESTATE CHARDONNAY 2011 - Napa Valley, California, USA (#346304) (XD) - $55.95  reviewed here

Sparkling Wine:
  • VINCENT COUCHE BRUT CHAMPAGNE 2002 - AC, Champagne, France (#387035) (XD) - $49.95

Dessert Wine:
  • CHÂTEAU DES CHARMES ESTATE BOTTLED VIDAL ICEWINE 2013 - VQA Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada (#565861) (S) (200 mL) - $25.95

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

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  • Date publishedWednesday, September 3, 2014

KWV Wines Tasting with Izele van Bierk

Izele van Bierk, Winemaker at KWV
On , I had the pleasure of attending the KWV Wines tasting at the iYellow Wine Cave. Coming all the way from South Africa to attend and host this special event was winemaker at KWV Wines - Izele van Bierk.

KWV (Ko-operatieve Wijnbouwers Verenigingvan Zuid Afrika) Wines is one of South Africa's largest wine & spirits producers. It has a long and rich history dating back to 1918 - the same year Nelson Mandela was born - when it was first registered as a company. KWV was formed with the aim of stabilising, supporting, and structuring a young, struggling industry.

KWV Wines - Proud Pioneers
In 1924, the KWV Act is passed in parliament and certain administrative responsibilities as well as the position of sole exporter and importer of surplus alcohol are handed to the association. In 1949, the Roodeberg brand of wine of born and is now one of KWV's most celebrated brands.

KWV also played a vital role in establishing the South African Brandy Foundation in 1984.

In all, there were 10 wines and one Brandy available for tasting. Below, you will find wine reviews of a few wines that I enjoyed on this night. Included among them is one of Izele's favourites - the Roodeberg Red, which I poured at a party recently and it went over really well with guests.

Tasting Notes:
KWV CATHEDRAL CELLAR BRUT MÉTHODE CAP CLASSIQUE SPARKLING 2010 - WO Western Cape, South Africa (#296426) (D) - $16.95
Cap Classique is South Africa's designation for sparkling wines made using the Traditional Method. Blend of 78% Chardonnay and 22% Pinot Noir and highly aromatic nose showing toastiness, lees and bread. Medium-bodied with a hint of sweetness and flavours of green apple and lime cordial. Fine mousse and finishing medium-long. In Vintages with high availability. Score: 88+ pts

KWV CATHEDRAL CELLAR CHARDONNAY 2013 - WO Western Cape, South Africa (#328559) (XD) - $15.95
Low nose featuring butter, apple and orchard fruits. Medium-bodied with a chalky texture on the palate. Flavours mimic the aromas and are joined by minerality, toasty oak and spice notes. Bright acids and long finishing. Quite easy drinking. In Vintages with high availability. Score: 88 pts

KWV ROODEBERG RED 2012 - WO Western Cape, South Africa (#007187) (XD) - $12.45
Blend of 61% Cab Sauv, 11% Shiraz, 10% Merlot and 18% Other. Medium intensity aromas of blackberry, cherry and dark fruits. Medium-bodied and lush on the concentrated palate with crunchy tannins. Pepper, toasty oak, dark cherry and plum flavour profile. Made in a crowd-pleasing style and can be cellared 2-3 years. LCBO General List product and quite available. Score: 88+ pts

Wine Review of 2012 KWV Roodeberg Red from WO Western Cape, South Africa

KWV THE MENTORS CHENIN BLANC 2012 - WO Coastal Region, South Africa (#) (XD) - $24.95
Highly aromatic with leesy, herbal and slight earthy nose. Low-to-medium bodied palate with refreshingly dry, lime, lemon peel and some mineral flavours. Chalky texture with mouth-watering acids. Excellent finish that is long and smooth. Score: 91 pts

Wine Review of 2012 KWV The Mentors Chenin Blanc from WO Coastal Region, South Africa

KWV THE MENTORS CANVAS 2011 - WO Coastal Region, South Africa (#348839) (XD) - $24.95
Blend of 63% Shiraz, 18% Tempranillo, 10% Mourvèdre and 9% Grenache. Aromas are of medium intensity and feature peppercorn, blackberry, oak and hints of earth & barnyard. On the palate, it`s full-bodied with green pepper, earth, oak and sweet ripe fruit flavours. Mouth-watering acids and smooth, integrated tannins that ride the long finish. Score: 90 pts

Wine Review of 2011 KWV The Mentors Canvas from WO Coastal Region, South Africa

KWV PAARL CAPE RUBY - WO Western Cape, South Africa (#028951) (S) - $9.95
Non-Vintage port-style wine that offers medium+ intensity aromas with prune, dried fig, caramel and nutty notes. On the palate, it's medium-bodied and very sweet with flavours of oak spice, caramel and nut. Finish is long, spiced and a touch hot. A good, everyday Port-style wine that is part of LCBO General List and widely available Score: 88 pts

Wine Review of KWV Paarl Cape Ruby from WO Western Cape, South Africa

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