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  • Date publishedSaturday, November 29, 2014

Torres Viña Esmeralda Semi Dry White 2013 (Spain) - Wine Review

Tonight's wine is a white blend featuring two very elegant and aromatic grapes - Moscatel and Gewürztraminer. Both of these grapes hail from a mountainous area of the Upper Penedès. This is an LCBO General List products and readily available.

TORRES VIÑA ESMERALDA SEMI DRY WHITE 2013 - DO Catalunya, Spain (#377465) (D) - $13.95
Wine Review of 2013 Torres Viña Esmeralda Semi Dry White from DO Catalunya, Spain
Tasting Note:
Screw cap. Blend of 85% Mosacatel de Alejandría and 15% Gewürztraminer. The Gewürz really shines through with lychee, rose petals and honeydew melon wafting from the glass, with tropical fruit, melon, apricot, lychee notes on the palate. Medium-dry sweet with a fine seam of acidity. Lengthy finish shows some heat, along with tart, mineral and bitter notes. Score: 87 pts

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  • Date publishedSunday, November 23, 2014

Hermanos Lurton Tempranillo 2011 (Spain) - Wine Review

Opened this juicy, red wine last night. It's from the Toro region of Spain, located in the northwestern part of country and is a General List product and readily available at the LCBO.

HERMANOS LURTON TEMPRANILLO 2011 - DO Toro, Spain (#372342) (D) - $16.90

Wine Review of 2011 Hermanos Lurton Tempranillo from DO Toro, Spain
Tasting Note:
Woodsy and vanilla aromas from the cork. Cherry, bitter chocolate, dark currant and hints of cola as it warms up in the glass. Medium-bodied with firm tannic structure and mild oak spice along with dark cherry, cola, and currant notes. Juicy palate with fresh, vibrant acids and a dry, medium-long finish. 15% alc/vol is hidden well. Score: 88 pts

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  • Date publishedSaturday, November 22, 2014

2014 Gourmet Food & Wine Expo

Tutored Tasting on Wine Faults at GFWE
I arrived for the Gourmet Food & Wine Expo VIP Night at the Metro Convention Centre, where it has always been held since as far back as I can remember, checked in at the Trade & Media booth to get my badge and wristband, and then proceeded down the hall to first attend a seminar on Wine Faults.

This was a very interesting seminar, as we learned about the 2 basic types of faults – oxidative and reductive. We tasted some Sauvignon Blanc that was fresh and typical of the varietal, then compared this same wine that had been either artificially oxidized and reduced. One of these glasses had an oxidized Savvy, and tasted like it was off with a nose of stewed orchard fruit, green apple and wet dog flavours. The other three glasses had a Savvy that had been reduced to various different levels. Prominent notes of sulphur and rotten eggs were found in glasses 3 and 4, while the 5th glass had aromas of rubber and mineral.

Keep in mind that some oxidation can be desirable in some wines - such as big, red Cabs or even Port wine, which also usually change their colour to brick-red or brown; the colour of white wines tends to change to a darker yellow or brownish tones. Only when a wine is over-oxidized do undesirable traits being to show. The principal is much the same for reduced wines, where too much reductive activity will lead to undesirable wines.

The last part of this seminar involved adding a few drops of Copper Sulphate to a few of the wines and see the results. The first wine, which was normal, suddenly tasted like it had been aged and oxidized a number years in just a couple of minutes. When we added Copper Sulphate to wine #3, it cleared up the wine completely and smelled and tasted quite normal. However, adding the chemical to wine #4 did not make any difference. Thus, the experiment shows that wines that have been slightly reduced can be fixed. Please do not try this with your wines at home.

Once the seminar was finished, I made my way through the trade & media entrance and began tasting some wine. The crowd was still fairly light on this VIP Thursday evening, which I didn't mind considering how packed it was last year. Methodically going through the aisles one-by-one, it seemed as though there were more smaller exhibitors, and fewer big displays. Maybe it's just me, but there also seemed to be fewer restaurants participating this year.

Hidden Bench Terroir Caché 2010 from VQA Beamsville Bench, Ontario, Canada

Photos and wine scores of many of my favourite wines that I tasted on this night are posted below, many of which can be found at the LCBO. Due to the volume of yummy wines I tasted, detailed reviews will be posted at a later date. As usual, the Hidden Bench booth is a must stop for any wine aficionado. As well, wine shows are a great place to try some new wines that you may have never heard about or considered purchasing - keep that in mind as you peruse the floor.

One of the highlights was meeting the recently-crowned German Wine Queen, Janina Huhn. We spoke at length about wines and how being crowned 'The 66th Queen' has changed her life. She can be found all weekend long, along with her Royal Chair, at the Wines of Germany booth to engage in conversation or take photos.

Fire in the Kitchen Rubs & Spices
Given my self-imposed dietary restrictions, food options seemed quite limited. After having toured the entire venue and tasting many, many wines, I was famished, and headed straight to the Fire in the Kitchen booth, where I had seen earlier in the night their full-sized grilled cheese stuffed with chicken, caramelized onions and pickles. This really hit the spot and tasted even better when topped with some of their specialty rubs & spices!

Next, with time running out and still many tickets remaining in-hand, I found Ourrr Lobster Shack and settled for a 6" lobster roll. At $9, it was a bit pricey, but yummy. Still not quite full, I searched for Amaya Restaurant, but by the time I finally found them, they had already run out of food and were packing up. So, I decided at this point that dessert might be my best option to close out the night.

Marble Slab Creamery
Two orders of Marble Slab Creamery would fit the bill nicely. Vanilla cheesecake ice cream mashed with raspberries and chocolate brownie, followed by a decadent Gingerbread ice cream topped with graham cracker crumbs and caramel - both satisfied my sweet tooth.

Lastly, it was great to see so many friendly faces on both sides of the counter, many of whom I met over the last few years. It was also very nice to meet some new folks - hopefully, our paths will cross again.

Hope everyone enjoys the show as much as I did this year. The Gourmet Food & Wine Expo runs until Sunday. Tickets can be purchased here. Cheers!

PERSUASION DRAGON BLEND 2010 - Sonoma, California, USA (#) (XD) - $37.95
Booth: Noteworthy Wines booth. Blend of Russian River Valley Cabernet Sauvignon and Chalk Hill Merlot. Available for licensees only, so you'll want to try this here. Score: 90 pts

Persuasion Dragon Blend 2010 from Sonoma, California, USACornerstone Cabernet-Merlot 2010 from VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada

CORNERSTONE CABERNET-MERLOT 2010 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#) (XD) - $19.00
Booth: Winery. Hails from the great 2010 vintage, highly aromatic nose featuring smoky, black fruits and hints of barnyard. Palate it big and full-bodied with dark fruit, flowers and rhubarb flavours. Balanced acids and very good length on the finish. Could age another 4-5 years, but drinking well now. Not many left, according to the owner. Score: 89 pts

GARCIA CARRION MAYOR DE CASTILLA CRIANZA 2010 - DO Ribera del Duero, Spain (#318931) (D) - $15.95
Booth: Christoper Stewart Wine & Spirits. 100% Tempranillo. Medium intensity nose showing dark fruits, dark cherry, currant and cedar oak aromas. It's medium-to-full bodied with balanced oak and dark, stewed fruits, black cherry, and blackberry flavours. Has balanced acids and a long finish. Very good value. Score: 89 pts

Garcia Carrion Mayor de Castilla Crianza 2010 from DO Ribera del Duero, Spain

RIO MADRE 2013 - DOCa Rioja, Spain (#354753) (XD) - $14.95
Booth: Christoper Stewart Wine & Spirits. Rare to see 100% Graciano wine. Low-to-medium intensity nose with black cherry, black currant, cedar oak, and hints of cherry aromas. Palate is medium+bodied with flavours of blackberry, floral, oak, and sweet ripe fruits. Good acids, rounded tannins and a medium length finish. Will be available in VINTAGES on January 10. Score: 87+ pts

Booth: Mark Anthony Brands. Quite dry with just a hint of sweetness. Will be on sale at the LCBO very soon. Score: 89 pts

HIDDEN BENCH ESTATE RIESLING 2013 - VQA Beamsville Bench, Ontario, Canada (#183491) (D) - $23.95
Booth: Winery. Organically grown from estate vineyards. Medium-high intensity aromas with lovely orange, Flintstones vitamins, and citrus with crisp aroma replays on a light frame. Medium-dry in sweetness and juicy, with bracing acids and very good length on the finish. Quality stuff. Was released into VINTAGES on August 2nd. Score: 89+ pts

HIDDEN BENCH ESTATE CHARDONNAY 2012 - VQA Beamsville Bench, Ontario, Canada (#068817) (XD) - $28.95
Booth: Winery. Barrel fermented in French oak; partial malolactic fermentation. Ripe pear and butter aroma profile with much of the same on the palate, plus some butterscotch and caramel for complexity. Medium-to-full bodied with restrained use of oak and just a kiss of sweetness on the palate. There's a fine seam of acidity and the finish is excellent in length. Released in VINTAGES on November 8th. Score: 90 pts

HIDDEN BENCH PINOT NOIR 2012 - VQA Beamsville Bench, Ontario, Canada (#274753) (XD) - $29.95
Booth: Winery. Classic Pinot aromas and flavours. Elegant nose of sour cherry, strawberry and beetroot of medium-high intensity with balanced aroma replays on the palate, along with hints of mushroom and subtle oak spice. Medium+ level of tannins are not overbearing and show good balance with the very good acids. Well-balanced red wine with excellent length on the finish. Drink now or over the next 5 years. Available in VINTAGES. Score: 91 pts

Hidden Bench Estate Riesling 2013 from VQA Beamsville Bench, Ontario, CanadaHidden Bench Estate Chardonnay 2012 from VQA Beamsville Bench, Ontario, CanadaHidden Bench Pinot Noir 2012 from VQA Beamsville Bench, Ontario, Canada

HIDDEN BENCH TERROIR CACHÉ 2010 - VQA Beamsville Bench, Ontario, Canada (#505610) (XD) - $38.20
Booth: Winery. Blend of 53% Merlot, 19% Cabernet Franc, 16% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 12% Malbec. Seductive medley of purple, black and red fruits, along with floral, cherry, licorice, forest floor, sweet vanilla and hints of cocoa. On the palate, it's full-bodied and has violet, cassis, black & red currants, licorice and oak flavours. Complex and poised with mouth-watering acids and a finish that lasts! Amazing wine! Released in VINTAGES on November 8th. Score: 92 pts

LIGHTHALL PROGRESSION 2013 - VQA Ontario, Canada (#) (D) - $20
Booth: Winery. Off-dry sparkling wine made with 100% Vidal. Score: 89 pts

Lighthall Progression 2013 from VQA Ontario, CanadaHeinrich Blaufränkisch 2012 from DAC Burgenland, Austria

HEINRICH BLAUFRÄNKISCH 2012 - DAC Burgenland, Austria (#) (XD) - $24.95
Booth: Wines of Austria. Made using the Blaufränkisch grape (also known as Lemberger), this comes across as quite similar to Pinot Noir with earthy, sour cherry, beetroot aromas. It's light-to-medium bodied with strawberry, cherry, red fruit and oak spice flavours on the palate. Has very good acids and a long finish. Score: 89 pts

DR. LOOSEN ÜRZIGER WÜRZGARTEN RIESLING KABINETT 2013 - Pradikätswein, Mosel, Germany (#927756) (MD) - $21.95
Booth: Wines of Germany. Medium-high intensity aromatics showing lovely citrus, petrol and orange aromas, with all making a balanced appearance on the palate. Medium-dry sweet with vibrant acids and a lengthy finish. Released in VINTAGES on October 11th. Score: 91 pts

Dr. Loosen Ürziger Würzgarten Riesling Kabinett 2013 from Pradikätswein, Mosel, Germany

STUDERT-PRÜM WEHLENER SONNENUHR RIESLING SPÄTLESE 2012 - Pradikätswein, Mosel, Germany (#912659) (M) - $28.95
Booth: Wines of Germany. Mineral-driven orange zest and petrol aromas of medium-high intensity. Vibrant acids on the mineral-driven palate with peach flavours dominating the flavour profile. Medium in sweetness and excellent length on the finish. Gorgeous wine for those that enjoy sweet wines. Released in VINTAGES on October 11th. Score: 91 pts

Booth: Wines of Germany. Highly aromatic nose featuring sweet beeswax, citrus, and honey wafting out of the glass. Medium-bodied palate is medium sweet with honeyed fruit and orange flavours. Excellent balance overall with finely tuned acids and a mineral-tinged finish that goes on forever. My favourite wine of the evening and was released in VINTAGES on September 27th. Score: 93 pts

Studert-Prüm Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Spätlese 2012 from Pradikätswein, Mosel, GermanyWegeler Rüdesheimer Berg Schlossberg Riesling Kabinett 2012 from Rheingau, Germany

Booth: Sommelier Tasting Bar in VIP Area. Released in VINTAGES on November 8th. Grapes for this wine come from 60-year-old vines. Unoaked. Elegant buttered popcorn and buttery apple aromas with very nice aroma replays on the medium+ bodied, creamy palate. Good balance over all, with balanced acids and a long, smooth finish. Delightful! Score: 90 pts

Jean-Marc Brocard Sainte Claire Vieilles Vignes Chablis 2013 from AC, Burgundy, France

Booth: Winery. Delicious dessert wine made with cranberry and some maple syrup. Score: 90 pts

Muskoka Lakes Winery Red Maple 2012

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  • Date publishedTuesday, November 18, 2014

Southbrook Triomphe Chardonnay 2013 (Niagara) - Wine Review

While the 2012 Southbrook Triomphe Chardonnay was classified as VQA Niagara-on-the-Lake, the 2013 edition is VQA Niagara Peninsula. It is certified organic and vegan friendly, with grapes sourced from 5 different vineyards within the Niagara Peninsula: Laundry, Southbrook, Sabourin, Reimer and Saunders vineyards.

This delicious white wine was opened over the and will be available on shelves as part of the LCBO VINTAGES release.

SOUTHBROOK TRIOMPHE CHARDONNAY 2013 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#172338) (D) - $22.95

Wine Review of 2013 Southbrook Triomphe Chardonnay from VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada
Tasting Note:
Stelvin screw cap. Medium-high, complex aromatics with buttered popcorn, apple, pear, pineapple and whiffs of smoke and pineapple which all make an appearance on the flavour profile. Palate is medium+ bodied, lean with some creaminess, and a hint of sweetness. The very good acids keep the slightly sweet fruit in check. Slight heat on the long finish which also has honeyed fruit and vanilla spice flavours. Enjoy over the next 3 years. Score: 90 pts

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  • Date publishedMonday, November 17, 2014

Nov. 22 LCBO Wine Picks: Top Wines for the Holidays

LCBO Wine Picks from November 22, 2014 VINTAGES Release
Wines from the next LCBO VINTAGES release will be on shelves this and essentially continues the theme from the last release - fine wines for the holidays.

This is another massive release, as you will see from my wine picks below. I have split up the red wine picks into three groups - value-based wines, premium wines, and super premium wines for those with really deep pockets.

We'll begin at the high-end of the scale with a Parker-rated 100 point wine - from the great 2010 vintage is the Château Pontet-Canet (65% Cab Sauv, 30% Merlot and 5% Cab Franc/Petit Verdot) and can be decanted and enjoyed now or cellared over the next 30+ years, if you can hold off that long. From Rhône is the Châteauneuf-du-Pape that is 30% Grenache, 30% Mourvèdre, 10% Syrah, 10% Counoise and 5% Cinsault, while Napa's Joseph Phelps Insignia is a blend of 82% Cab Sauv, 11% Petit Verdot, and small amounts of Malbec, Merlot and Cab Franc; both of these wines can be enjoyed over the next 15 years. The Masi Amarone is ageable for up to 10 years and is a blend of Corvina, Rondinella, and Molinara. You might be surprised to know that the Tuscan wine Sassicaia is made without any traces of local varietals - it's made using 85% Cab Sauv and 15% Cab Franc - and should be cellared for at least a few years and enjoyed through the next decade. All of the wines in this price category should be cellared for at least a few years and would make excellent gifts for your special wine lovers in your life.

In the premium red wine category, there are 3 wines from Rhône including a Crozes-Hermitage that is 100% Syrah, and a Grenache-led blend from Châteauneuf-du-Pape. It's uncommon to see Syrah in a Portuguese wine, but there is 40% Syrah in the version from Quinta da Romaneira (local grape Touriga Nacional makes up the rest of the blend). Syrah is also uncommon in Spain, but once again 40% of the blend from Finca Constancia is Syrah, while the balance is Petit Verdot. Syrah (a.k.a. Shiraz) is also available in the The Holy Trinity GSM blend, with 56% Grenache, 33% Shiraz and 11% Mourvèdre. The Brunello and Barolo keep to their traditional roots by, respectively, using Sangiovese and Nebbiolo - and you'll want to lay these to rest for a couple of years prior to opening.

Rhône was quite well-represented in this release with 11 wines, all but one from the 2012 vintage. Included among them are two from Michel Gassier's Les Halos de Jupiter label. His Cotes du Rhône is a blend of 85% Grenache, 10% Syrah and 5% Mourvèdre, while the Costières de Nimes is 60% Syrah and 40% Grenache. Lastly, wait a year for the tannins to settle in the Aydie l'Origine, which is made from 70% Tannat and 30% Cab Franc.

In white wines, the Côtes du Roussillon Blanc is a blend of 80% Grenache Blanc and 20% Marsanne. Of the multiple Chardonnays listed among my wine recommendations below, all are oaked, except for the Billaud-Simon . For sweet wine lovers, I would recommend moving straight to the Fortifieds or the Dessert Wine section. In particular, the Sauternes from Raymond-Lafon is a poor man's Yquem at a fraction of the price; both Sauternes are blends of Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc.

Enjoy my wine picks for this week. Cheers!

Red Wine:
  • AYDIE L’ORIGINE 2011 - AC Madiran, Southwest, France (#343566) (XD) - $15.95
  • LES HALOS DE JUPITER COSTIÈRES DE NÎMES 2012 - AC, Rhône, France (#309153) (XD) - $16.95
  • SANTA RITA MEDALLA REAL GRAN RESERVA CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2010 - Maipo Valley, Chile (#275594) (XD) - $17.95
  • DOMAINE DE L’HERMINETTE GRAND CRAS MORGON 2013 - AC, Beaujolais, France (#390476) (XD) - $19.95
  • LES HALOS DE JUPITER CÔTES DU RHÔNE 2012 - AC, Rhône, France (#276956) (D) - $19.95

  • FINCA CONSTANCIA ALTOS DE LA FINCA 2011 - Vino de la Tierra de Castilla, Spain (#383984) (XD) - $21.95
  • GRANDS SERRES LES HAUTES VACQUIERES VACQUEYRAS 2012 - AC, Rhône, France (#395194) (XD) - $24.95
  • M. CHAPOUTIER PETITE RUCHE CROZES-HERMITAGE 2012 - AC, Rhône, France (#264655) (XD) - $24.95
  • QUINTA DA ROMANEIRA TOURIGA NACIONAL/SYRAH 2010 - Vinho Regional Duriense, Portugal (#392316) (D) - $29.95
  • GRANT BURGE THE HOLY TRINITY GRENACHE/SHIRAZ/MOURVÈDRE 2011 - Barossa Valley, South Australia (#236257) (D) - $29.95
  • TENUTA LA FUGA BRUNELLO DI MONTALCINO 2009 - DOCG, Tuscany, Italy (#212837) (XD) - $44.95
  • BREZZA SARMASSA BAROLO 2009 - DOCG, Piedmont, Italy (#999730) (XD) - $49.95
  • TWO HANDS BELLA’S GARDEN SHIRAZ 2012 - Barossa Valley, South Australia (#636407) (D) - $63.95

  • CHÂTEAU DE BEAUCASTEL CHÂTEAUNEUF-DU-PAPE 2012 - AC, Rhône, France (#711317) (D) - $89.95
  • STAGS’ LEAP THE LEAP ESTATE CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2010 - Napa Valley, California, USA (#142844) (XD) - $89.95
  • CHÂTEAU MALESCOT ST. EXUPÉRY 2010 - 3e Cru, AC Margaux, Bordeaux, France (#261552) (XD) - $149.85
  • SASSICAIA 2011 - DOC Bolgheri-Sassicaia, Tuscany, Italy (#480533) (XD) - $199.95
  • CHÂTEAU PONTET-CANET 2010 - 5e Cru, AC Pauillac, Bordeaux, France (#259119, #259200, #259184, #259242, #259473, #260588) (XD) - $249.85
  • JOSEPH PHELPS INSIGNIA 2011 - Napa Valley, California, USA (#710400) (XD) - $258.95

White Wine:
  • SAINT-ROCH VIEILLES VIGNES CÔTES DU ROUSSILLON BLANC 2013 - AP, Midi, France (#175232) (XD) - $15.95
  • TRAMIN PINOT GRIGIO 2013 - DOC Südtirol - Alto Adige, Italy (#627059) (XD) - $17.95
  • LAGOON HILL SAUVIGNON BLANC 2013 - Martinborough, North Island, New Zealand (#388389) (XD) - $18.95
  • ANSELMO MENDES CONTACTO ALVARINHO 2013 - DOC Vinho Verde, Portugal (#393058) (XD) - $19.95
  • McWILLIAM’S MOUNT PLEASANT ELIZABETH SEMILLON 2007 - Hunter Valley, New South Wales, Australia (#724492) (XD) - $19.95
  • PONDVIEW BELLA TERRA CHARDONNAY 2011 - Barrel Fermented, VQA Four Mile Creek, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#347922) (XD) - $24.95  reviewed here
  • MISSION HILL S.L.C. CHARDONNAY 2011 - VQA Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, Canada (#144170) - $24.95
  • DR. LOOSEN ERDENDER TREPPCHEN RIESLING KABINETT 2013 - Prädikatswein, Mosel, Germany (#393181) (M) - $25.95
  • MACROSTIE CHARDONNAY 2012 - Sonoma Coast, California, USA (#244467) (XD) - $29.95  reviewed here
  • BILLAUD-SIMON MONTÉE DE TONNERRE CHABLIS 1 ER CRU 2009 - AC, Burgundy, France (#325241) (XD) - $47.95
  • PAHLMEYER CHARDONNAY 2012 - Napa Valley, California, USA (#147454) (XD) - $96.95

Sparkling Wine:
  • HENRY OF PELHAM CUVÉE CATHARINE CARTE BLANCHE ESTATE BLANC DE BLANC 2009 - Traditional Method, VQA Short Hills Bench, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#315200) (D) - $44.95

  • DOMAINE BOULETIN VIN DOUX NATUREL MUSCAT DE BEAUMES DE VENISE 2012 - AP, Rhône, France (#393033) (MS) (375 mL) - $15.95
  • TORRES FLORALIS MOSCATEL ORO - Spain (#642173) (MS) (500 mL) - $16.95  reviewed here
  • CROFT VINTAGE PORT 2011 - DOC Douro, Portugal (#362343) (MS) - $120.00

Dessert Wine:
  • QUADY ESSENSIA ORANGE MUSCAT 2012 - California, USA (#299552) (S) (375 mL) - $14.95
  • PONDVIEW VIDAL ICEWINE 2013 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#390351) (S) (200 mL) - $18.95
  • PUKLUS PINCÉSZET SZAMORODNI SWEET TOKAJI 2009 - Hungary (#179374) (MS) (500 mL) - $18.95
  • REIF VIDAL ICEWINE 2012 - VQA Niagara River, Ontario, Canada (#544791) (S) (200 mL) - $24.95
  • CHÂTEAU RAYMOND-LAFON 2010 - AC Sauternes, Bordeaux, France (#256362) (S) (375 mL) - $31.85
  • CHÂTEAU SUDUIRAUT 2010 - 1er Cru Classé, AC Sauternes, Bordeaux, France (#256214) (S) - $129.85

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

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  • Date publishedTuesday, November 11, 2014

Creekside Estate Winery Wine Tasting

Wine reviews of various wines from Creekside Estate Winery
I received these delicious wine samples from Creekside Estate Winery recently and opened them up a couple of weeks ago on a crisp, Fall .

Creekside has been making premium wine since 1997, when owner Laura McCain pursued a passion for wine by purchasing a 15-acre vineyard and winery on Fourth Avenue in Jordan. The darlings of their portfolio at the time were Sauvignon Blanc and Shiraz - neither grape particularly known for doing well in Niagara during this period.

The year 1999 marked the first of several major face lifts to the site, including the addition of shiny new stainless steel tanks with temperature control jackets, a brand new crush pad, and a pneumatic press. In 2000, an underground barrel cellar for fermentation and aging was added to the site.

Growing consumer demand meant more grapes were required to produce more wine. Creekside purchased a 50-acre vineyard site on St. David's Bench and named it the Queenston Road Vineyard (QRV). This site now produces some of their best wines, including their award-winning Syrah that I tasted at the winery in September.

Due to growing popularity over the years, a brand new retail store and covered outdoor deck was built in 2008. During this time, new labels, packaging and website were all face-lifted and are the current look-and-feel that you see today.

Creekside's slogan is "Serious wine from an irreverent bunch". After visiting them last month and my wine reviews below, I can agree that their wines are serious.

Tasting Notes:
CREEKSIDE PINOT GRIGIO 2012 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#083196) (XD) - $14.95
Screw cap. Medium+ intensity aromas with lime, peach, apple and leesy notes. Dry, medium-bodied palate with crisp, lively acids and pleasing aroma replays. Crisp, medium-length finish that is slightly bitter and tart. LCBO General List and widely available. Score: 87 pts

Wine review of 2012 Creekside Pinot Grigio from VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada

CREEKSIDE SAUVIGNON BLANC 2013 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#620724) (XD) - $13.95
Screw cap. Elegant, medium intensity nose showing gooseberry, kiwi, guava and lime aromas. It's medium-weighted and echos the aromas, along with some greenness on the flavour profile. Balanced acids. Tropical fruit & lime flavours on the medium+ length on the finish. Well balanced overall. LCBO General List and widely available. Score: 88 pts

Wine review of 2013 Creekside Sauvignon Blanc from VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada

ICONOCLAST SAUVIGNON BLANC 2013 - VQA Creek Shores, Ontario, Canada (#) (XD) - $17.95
Screw cap. Nose seems somewhat closed but shows mandarine orange, guava, kiwi and some earthy aromas. Medium+ bodied and fleshy palate with lemon/lime, green leaf and mineral flavours. Has a fine seam of acidity that dances on the long, dry finish. Score: 88 pts

Wine review of 2013 Iconoclast Sauvignon Blanc from VQA Creek Shores, Ontario, Canada

CREEKSIDE CABERNET SHIRAZ 2012 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#305300) (XD)  - $16.95
Comprised of 66% Cabernet Sauvignon and 34% Shiraz. Screw cap. Lifted nose featuring smoky, meaty, peppercorn and cassis aromas, Some distinct barnyard notes as it opens up in the glass. Medium-full bodied palate with dark, brooding tannins and mouth-watering acids. Flavours of blackberry, black cherry, raspberry, black pepper, vanillan oak and cocoa. Drinkable now and can be enjoyed over the next 3-4 years. LCBO General List and widely available. Score: 88+ pts

Wine review of 2012 Creekside Cabernet Shiraz from VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada

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  • Date publishedSaturday, November 8, 2014

Herederos Del Marqués de Riscal (Spain) - Wine Reviews

Tonight's wines are a pair of Spanish wines from Marqués de Riscal. Founded in 1858, Marques de Riscal is one of the oldest wineries in all of Rioja. Their first wines were bottled four years later, in 1862, and won numerous awards over the years. Fast forward to 1972, when Marqués de Riscal produced their first white wines in Rueda. This winery continued it's innovative and pioneering ways in 1995 when they introduced the very first grape sorting table within the Rioja appellation. And most recently, it was awarded Best European Winery in 2013 by Wine Enthusiast magazine.

Wine labels of Marqués de Riscal wines

As you will see from my wine review below, both of these wines are delicious. Furthermore, both of these wines are general listed at the LCBO and readily available.

Tasting Notes:
MARQUÉS DE RISCAL 2013 - DO Rueda, Spain (#036822) (XD) - $12.55
Screw cap. 100% Verdejo. Medium-high aromatics showing lovely floral, herbal nose, with a backdrop of earth, and hints of guava and banana. Very complex nose. Palate is medium+ bodied with herbal, white grapefruit, passion fruit and hints of tropical fruit. Fresh acids are nicely balanced, while the dry finish is very good. Excellent value! Get the 2013 while it's still available. Score: 88+ pts

Wine review of 2013 Marqués de Riscal from DO Rueda, Spain

MARQUÉS DE RISCAL RESERVA 2008 - DOC Rioja, Spain (#032656) (XD) - $24.65
Mostly Tempranillo with 7% Graciano and 3% Mazuelo (Carignan). Plum and old, wet wood aromas from the cork. Medium+ intensity aromas featuring dried fruit, cedar, blackberry, plums and hints of underbrush. It's medium-bodied with an earthy core surrounded by notions of black cherry, blackberry, dried fruits, and herbally notes. Acids are still very fresh. Tannins are slightly dusty, but otherwise very smooth. Excellent length on the cherry-earthy finish. Recommended buy. Score: 90 pts

Wine review of 2008 Marqués de Riscal Reserva from DOC Rioja, Spain

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  • Date publishedThursday, November 6, 2014

Juvé y Camps Cinta Purpura Reserva Brut Cava 2010 (Spain) - Wine Review

One normally opens a Sparkling Wine to mark a celebration. So, last Sunday I decided to open this lovely Cava to celebrate... for no reason!

This delicious Cava is made with local grape varietals Macabeo, Xarel-lo, and Parellada, using the traditional method. The 2009 vintage of this Cava was among my VINTAGES wine picks last December. I expect this 2010 version will be in VINTAGES this coming December.

JUVÉ Y CAMPS CINTA PURPURA RESERVA BRUT CAVA 2010 - DO Penedes, Spain (#352864) (XD) - $17.95
Wine Review of 2010 Juvé y Camps Cinta Purpura Reserva Brut Cava from DO Penedes, Spain
Tasting Note:
Medium intensity nose bouncing between yeast, bread, walnuts and floral and tropical fruit notes. It's palate is mid-weight with fresh, balanced acids and a good amount of mousse. Nutty, peach, floral and tropical flavours on the palate with just a kiss of sweetness. Lengthy, dry finish. Delicious and recommended. Score: 89 pts

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  • Date publishedMonday, November 3, 2014

Nov. 8 LCBO Wine Picks: Fine Holiday Wines + Ports

LCBO Wine Picks from November 8, 2014 VINTAGES Release
The next LCBO VINTAGES release will be in stores across Ontario this weekend - on . As we get into the holiday season, the releases seem to getting bigger and feature more higher priced wines - this release is no exception. This release is titled "Uncork the Season" and features many fine holiday wines as part of the major theme. The secondary theme features some very fine Port wines.

From the holiday-themed wines, 32 wines. Included among my wine picks is a 750 mL, as well as a conveniently-sized 375 mL, Champagne from Bollinger. There are also 2 elegantly oaked Chardonnays from Hidden Bench and Louis Latour. A 2001 Rioja from Ontanon is 95% Tempranillo and 5% Graciano, and at 13 years old is ready to drink now, but can be further cellared until the end of this decade. A pair of California red blends also made my list of wine picks - the exceptional L'Aventure is a blend of 50% Syrah, 33% Cab Sauv, and 17% Petit Verdot, while the Jonata Todos Red is 78% Syrah, 8% Sangiovese and 8 grapes making up the rest.

Dow's Late Bottled Vintage Port 2009 from DOC Douro, Portugal
Of the 6 Port wines featured, I can recommend 4 of them, which vary in price from $15.95 up to $70. At the low end is a sweet White Port from Taylor Fladgate that is made using local, classic Port grape varieties. White Ports are aged for 2-3 years in large oak vats prior to bottling. A little less sweet is the Dow's Late Bottled Vintage Port, a wine that has been aged between 4-6 years after harvest. Next is the 1995 Dalva Colheita Port - this wine has been aging in large oak barrels since harvest in 1995, until it was bottled earlier this year and arriving on our shores this weekend. A real treat! Lastly, the Sandeman Vintage Port hails from an exceptional 2011 vintage, bottled in 2013 and will last for decades. The Sandeman name certainly brings back some fond memories of when I visited this winery back in the summer of 2005.

From the rest of the release, there is an interesting Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot/Petit Verdot/Malbec blend from Mexico, and a predominantly Sangiovese blend from Le Pupille. The Orestiadi is a blend of mostly Nero d'Avola, with some Cabernet Sauvignon added to finalize the blend. The Crianza is mostly Tempranillo, while the Hidden Bench Meritage is dominated by Merlot, with 19% Cabernet Franc, 16% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 12% Malbec added in support.

Including this release, there are only 4 more VINTAGES releases remaining in 2014, so you may want to start your holiday shopping now! Enjoy my wine recommendations for this week!

Red Wine:
  • CASAS DEL BOSQUE RESERVA CARMENÈRE 2012 - Rapel Valley, Chile (#205872) (XD) - $14.95
  • MENGUANTE SELECCIÓN GARNACHA 2008 - DOP Cariñena, Spain (#313833) (XD) - $16.95
  • L.A. CETTO DON LUIS SELECCIÓN RESERVADA TERRA 2010 - Baja California, Mexico (#388520) (XD) - $19.95
  • ORESTIADI LUDOVICO 2008 - IGT Rosso Sicilia, Italy (#388645) (XD) - $19.95
  • HERMANOS PECIÑA SEÑORÍO DE P. PECIÑA CRIANZA 2009 - DOCa Rioja, Spain (#313726) (XD) - $21.95
  • HIDDEN BENCH TERROIR CACHÉ MERITAGE 2010 - VQA Beamsville Bench, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#505610) (XD) - $38.20  reviewed here
  • ONTANON GRAN RESERVA 2001 - DOCa Rioja, Spain (#939736) (XD) - $39.95
  • L’AVENTURE OPTIMUS 2011 - Paso Robles, California, USA (#683409) (XD) - $63.95  reviewed here
  • LE VIEUX DONJON CHÂTEAUNEUF-DU-PAPE 2012 - AC, Rhône, France (#700922) (XD) - $63.95
  • JONATA TODOS RED 2010 - Santa Ynez Valley, Santa Barbara County, California, USA (#218941) (XD) - $67.95

White Wine:
  • MENADE VERDEJO 2013 - DO Rueda, Spain (#392159) (XD) - $16.95
  • FEATHERSTONE BLACK SHEEP RIESLING 2013 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#080234) (M) - $16.95
  • PETER ZEMMER PINOT GRIGIO 2013 - DOC Alto Adige, Italy (#095802) (XD) - $17.95
  • MOMO SAUVIGNON BLANC 2013 - Marlborough, South Island, New Zealand (#009167) (XD) - $17.95
  • WYNNS COONAWARRA ESTATE CHARDONNAY 2013 - Coonawarra, South Australia (#468728) (XD) - $17.95
  • RENÉ MURÉ SIGNATURE GEWÜRZTRAMINER 2012 - AC Alsace, France (#387563) (XD) - $21.95
  • JEAN-MARC BROCARD SAINTE CLAIRE VIEILLES VIGNES CHABLIS 2013 - AC, Burgundy, France (#329995) (XD) - $24.95  reviewed here
  • HIDDEN BENCH CHARDONNAY 2012 - VQA Beamsville Bench, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#068817) (XD) - $28.95  reviewed here
  • LOUIS LATOUR EN CARADEUX PERNAND-VERGELESSES 1 ER CRU 2011 - AC, Burgundy, France (#390500) (XD) - $44.95
  • LE CLOS JORDANNE LE GRAND CLOS CHARDONNAY 2011 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Twenty Mile Bench, Ontario, Canada (#034561) (XD) - $65.00

Sparkling Wine:
  • TAWSE SPARK LIMESTONE RIDGE RIESLING SPARKLING WINE 2012 - VQA Twenty Mile Bench, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#370361) (D) - $19.95  reviewed here
  • BOLLINGER SPECIAL CUVÉE BRUT CHAMPAGNE - AC, Champagne, France (#234104) (D) (375 mL) - $43.95
  • BOLLINGER SPECIAL CUVÉE BRUT CHAMPAGNE - AC, Champagne, France (#384529) (XD) - $75.95

  • TAYLOR FLADGATE FINE WHITE PORT - DOC Douro, Portugal (#069856) (S) - $15.95
  • DOW’S LATE BOTTLED VINTAGE PORT 2009 - DOC Douro, Portugal (#613927) (MS) - $17.95  reviewed here
  • DALVA COLHEITA PORT 1995 - Btld. 2014, DOC Douro, Portugal (#69930) (S) - $32.95
  • SANDEMAN VINTAGE PORT 2011 - DOC Douro, Portugal (#362491) (MS) - $70.00

Dessert Wine:
  • DE BORTOLI NOBLE ONE BOTRYTIS SEMILLON 2011 - Riverina, New South Wales, Australia (#917252) (S) (375 mL) - $31.95 limited qty vintages flagship

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

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  • Date publishedSaturday, November 1, 2014

A Vintage Harvest - 2014 Niagara Wine Festival Review

The 63rd Annual Niagara Wine Festival returned last month, running for three weekends from September 13 to 28. I usually attend one of the first two weekends, but this time decided to attend the final weekend of the festival. Considering the bad luck we had with weather and the annual Fall closing of the Gardiner Expressway last year, I was a little worried what might happen this time around, with no fall back date. Sadly, the Gardiner was once again closed this weekend. Fortunately for us, the weather was perfect - sunny skies and hot - as it felt like the Summer we never had. The weather more than made up for the crappy drive out of the city.

Wine tasting at GreenLane Estate Winery
We began our journey on afternoon at GreenLane Estate Winery. This was my first visit to their "new" location, which they moved to about a year ago, and I must say is quite the step up from their old digs on South Service Road. Our first wine of the day was their 2012 Rosé - an off-dry wine that was a nice prelude to the main course. While our delicious Lake Erie Perch tacos were being freshly prepared on the grill, we were also poured their latest new release - the 2013 Winemaker's White. Slightly off-dry, this crisp, white wine with lively acids paired beautifully with the Perch tacos that were stuffed with sweet bell peppers, cucumbers, and chives, all drizzled with a chili and lime sour cream and wrapped in a soft, flour tortilla. When paired with the taco, the wine's sweet flavours shone through, while the lively acids from both the wine and taco resulted in what felt like a party in my mouth. Very enjoyable overall while sitting on their lovely outdoor patio - we could have sat there all day.

Enjoying Lake Erie Perch tacos on the patio at GreenLane Estate WineryLake Erie Perch tacos paired with 2013 GreenLane Winemaker's White

Our second stop of the afternoon was in the fermentation room at Vineland Estates Winery for pairings of chicken wings and wine. I've paired wine with wings many a time at home, but was intrigued with this winery's Icewine pairing. First, we paired the Kansas City "Big Smoke" Chipotle wings with the 2013 O'Leary Cabernet Merlot (#307744, $14.95) - a fine, comfort pairing that nicely balanced the flavourful wings with the dry, somewhat fruity, red wine that had good tannic structure. The second wine we tasted was their gorgeous Select Late Harvest Vidal (~$19, 90 pts). Very flavourful and with balanced acids, this sweet, dessert wine paired beautifully with the sweet & spicy Habanero Bourbon brown sugar wings. If you've never tried pairing sweet wines with spicy foods, I would highly encourage you to try it - as it is quite the unexpected treat.

Pouring wine at Vineland Estates WineryChicken wings and 2013 O'Leary Cabernet Merlot

The third stop was at a very busy Creekside Estate Winery - so busy that the parking lot was full and we had to resort to parking on the grass (sorry about that!). Likely due to the growing popularity of Niagara's Grape & Wine Festival, waiting for clean glasses seemed to be a developing trend today. After clean glasses finally arrived, we tasted the 2011 Laura's White (#121764, $18.95, 87 pts) while waiting for freshly baked French Onion tarts - caramelized onions and black olives deglazed with red wine and served on a puff pastry. By the time the tarts arrived, we had already moved on to 2011 Laura's Red (#117960, $19.95, 88 pts). This red wine paired well with good acids, medium-level of tannins, and a flavour profile that complemented the tart. I believe the tart would have also paired well with Laura's White.

We then made our way outside to begin a tour of the winery. Our host, David, led us to the vineyards located just west of the tasting room where they grow Sauvignon Blanc for their Reserve line - grapes which we actually got to taste on this day! The tour brought us through their crush pad, grape sorter and de-stemmer, and finishing off in the underground barrel cellar. We returned to the tasting room at the conclusion of the tour to taste a few more wines, including a couple of my favourites of the day - the 2012 Reserve Viognier and 2011 Broken Press Syrah (reviews below).

Freshly baked French Onion tartsWine tour at Creekside Estate Winery

Barrel cellar at Creekside Estate WineryBarrel cellar at Creekside Estate Winery

Our last winery visit of the day was at Konzelmann Estate Winery in Niagara-on-the-Lake. It was a very festive atmosphere on this day as the winery was celebrating it's own Wine Fest with outdoor live music and food trucks. It was very busy, so we headed straight inside to pick up our generously-sized creamy apple-spiced cheesecake on a graham cracker crust and topped sweet caramel drizzle. This delicious cheesecake was paired with their yummy 2013 Special Select Late Harvest Vidal - a medium-sweet dessert wine with fresh acidity that balanced the sweetness and cut through the creaminess of the cheesecake. Not bad way to finish off a Saturday!

Cheesecake and Konzelmann Late Harvest VidalCreamy Apple-Spiced Cheesecake and 2013 Konzelmann Special Select Late Harvest Vidal

Group photo on the patio at PondView Estate Winery
began with a visit to PondView Estate Winery. We arrived before noon, which was the perfect time to enjoy lamb in a creamy curry and savoury spices, combined with potatoes, onion, cilantro and served over basmati rice. It was paired with their 2011 Bella Terra Barrel Fermented Chardonnay ($25.95, 89 pts), the same wine I tasted last September. I approached this food and wine pairing with great enthusiasm, but came away somewhat disappointed. The Chardonnay held up well to the red meat, but the lamb curry was very dry and lacked flavour. Last year's food pairing was much more enjoyable. On the plus side, food portions were once again quite generous.

Caretto at PillitteriPillitteri Icewine Showcase

The second stop of the day was at Pillitteri Estates Winery for some comfort food and wine. But first, Jeff Letvenuk - Marketing and Media Manager, took us on a very interesting tour of the winery that traces its roots back to 1965 as a small fruit farm. Our tour began in the Awards Room, where Jeff introduced us to the Caretto - an original Sicilian Cart brought from Italy by (founder) Gary Pillitteri's mother. This Caretto is intricately painted and designed and is now considered a family heirloom as it has been passed down many generations. As we moved outside to the vineyard, we stopped at the Wall of Icewine showcase that displayed the many Icewines that Pillitteri had produced over the years, including their first ever Icewine - a gold medal winning 1988 Vidal Icewine. Today, Pillitteri is the largest Estate producer of Icewine. After walking among the vines, we proceed to the fermentation room and cellar. En route, it was fascinating to see Gary keep one of the original cherry trees that was on this site prior to his arrival in 1965. The wine barrel cellar is a gem of a private space that is used exclusively by the family. All throughout the tour, from the name of the tasting rooms to the intricate details found in the chairs inside the barrel cellar, we could see that family was very important to Gary.

Custom designed chairs in barrel cellarBarrel cellar at Pillitteri Estates Winery

After we finished admiring the cellar room, we headed back upstairs and outside towards the patio to enjoy Chef Collin Goodine's famous 'baked potato' poutine. I paired my poutine with Pillitteri's heavily oaked 2010 Cabernet Franc ($20.20, 87 pts) - a pairing that was comforting in a very comfortable setting. The poutine was delicious, while the red wine's balanced acids complemented the sour cream and fries quite well. We also tasted some fabulous, premium+ red wines from Pillitteri's lineup - reviews and recommendations are below.

Chef Collin Goodine preparing his famous 'baked potato' poutineChef Collin Goodine's baked potato poutine with 2010 Pillitteri Cabernet Franc

Niagara College Teaching Winery was our third stop of the day. Here, we enjoyed a freshly baked Smoked Onion and Upper Canada Niagara Gold Cheese Tartlette, which was paired with their 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon (#121715, $18.95, 87 pts). The tannins from the Cab helped cut into the creaminess from the cheese and kept everything nicely balanced. Sundays tend to be quieter in Niagara, and today was no exception. We ended up sitting outside on NCT's lovely patio for quite some time, sampling a few wines while the autumn sun basked in the sky.

2010 Niagara College Cabernet Sauvignon paired with Smoked Onion and Upper Canada Gold Cheese Tartlette

Vieni EstatesButternut quash lasagna paired 2012 Vieni Chardonnay

The next stop was an unplanned visit to Vieni Estates. This winery has been on my radar for the last year, but I never quite made it to the site. Furthermore, a conversation with Oenoapp prior to the weekend had me seriously considering a stop, time permitting. Vieni was serving a roasted garlic, butternut squash lasagna, layered with mozzarella, parmigiano and pecorino cheese, which I paired with their tasty 2012 Chardonnay (reviewed below). The lasagne was thinly layered, but tasted great and felt like it was homemade. It was generously portioned and paired well with the Chardonnay, leading to a very satisfying experience overall. Manager Steven DiMora was kind enough to give us a quick tour of the facilities, while giving us some insight into their future plans which include a made-in-Ontario Amarone-style of wine that I am definitely looking forward to tasting.

Enjoying vegetable lasagna cupcakes tops with 2010 Legends Estates Semillon from Lizak Vineyard. VQA Niagara Peninsula
Our final stop of this trip was at Legends Estates Winery for a different take on lasagna - homemade vegetable lasagna cupcakes that were creamy and colourful. These lasagna cupcakes were a good size and really did look like cupcakes, topped with cheese and crunchy vegetables. It was savoury and paired well with a variety of their white wines, including the 2013 Semillon ($16.95, 87 pts) and a 2010 Sauvignon Blanc Reserve ($19.50, 86 pts) that is holding up quite well at 4 years old.

Aside from waiting for clean glasses and treats to be freshly baked, it was a very enjoyable weekend in Niagara with no hiccups and great weather. I noticed that portion sizes for nearly all the food items were generously (and appropriately) portioned. By the end, my stomach was joyously satisfied and did not feel the need to stop at a Tim Horton's. As for the wine, the quality keeps getting better and better. Red wines from the 2012 vintage are showing great structure and complexity, with very good ageing potential. I was pleasantly surprised by Creekside's Syrah and Viognier, as well as some of the higher-end wines from Pillitteri.

Lastly, thank you to all the wineries for your excellent hospitality - it was very much appreciated!

Tasting Notes:
This white wine is a blend of Chardonnay and Riesling with floral, lime and green apple aromas of medium intensity. It's light-bodied with crisp, refreshing acids, and tropical fruits notes on the palate, along with pleasing, mineral-driven aroma replays. Finish is lightly spiced. Score: 86 pts

Medium+ intensity aromas showing a very complex nose of red berries, currants, bramble, coconut and vanillan. Medium+ bodied with nice aroma replays and light brettyness. Very good acids, while firm tannins are silky smooth, yet could use some softening. Finish is medium-long. Score: 88 pts

CREEKSIDE RESERVE VIOGNIER 2012 - Queenston Road Vineyard, VQA St. David's Bench (XD) - $29.95
Aromas of medium intensity with notes of elderflower, honeysuckle, and elegant peach and mineral. Full-bodied palate that is creamy and slightly oily, with very nice aroma replays. Acids are nicely balanced, while the spiced mid-palate continues on the lengthy finish. Score: 89 pts

Wine Review of 2012 Creekside Reserve Viognier from Queenston Road Vineyard, VQA St. David's BenchWine Review of 2011 Creekside Broken Press Syrah from Queenston Road Vineyard, VQA St. David's Bench

CREEKSIDE BROKEN PRESS SYRAH 2011 - Queenston Road Vineyard, VQA St. David's Bench (#202127) (XD) - $39.95
Includes 5-8% Viognier. Highly aromatic with meaty, black peppercorn, and blackberry aromas with hints of floral and mushroom. It's palate is medium+ bodied, showing elegant aroma replays and taut tannins. Very nicely balanced, mouth-watering acids and long finishing. Would cellar this 2-3 years. Score: 91 pts

Highly aromatic nose of apricots, peach, and honey which replay on the medium-sweet palate, along with some lime zest. It's medium-bodied with balanced, fresh acids and excellent length on the finish. Score: 90 pts

Wine Review of 2010 Pillitteri Exclamation Cabernet Sauvignon from VQA Niagara-on-the-LakeWine Review of 2005 Pillitteri Family Reserve Trivalente from VQA Niagara PeninsulaWine Review of 2012 Pillitteri Reserve Cabernet Franc Icewine from VQA Niagara, Peninsula

PILLITTERI EXCLAMATION CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2010 - VQA Niagara-on-the-Lake (#) (XD) - $50.20
Highly aromatic with plenty of cassis, blackcurrant and camphor notes. On the palate, it's full-bodied with very nice aroma replays joined by some wood flavours. Has mouth-watering acids, and smooth, sinewy tannins that are very nicely integrated. Lengthy finish has dark chocolate and wood nuances. Score: 91 pts

PILLITTERI FAMILY RESERVE TRIVALENTE 2005 - VQA Niagara Peninsula (#) (XD) - $98.20
Blend of Cab Sauv, Cab Franc and Merlot that is highly aromatic with a savoury nose of barnyard, tilled earth, dark berries and plum. It's full-bodied with crushed red & dark berries, dark chocolate, and elegantly balanced (French) oak on the palate. Very good acids, smooth integrated tannins and lengthy finish. Score: 92 pts

PILLITTERI RESERVE CABERNET FRANC ICEWINE 2012 - VQA Niagara Peninsula (#) (S) - ~$70?
Gorgeous, highly intense aromas of strawberry, cherry and hints of caramel with very nice aroma replays. Crisp, balanced acids keep the sweetness in check. Long, smooth finish. Score: 92 pts

Nose somewhat closed but showed interesting butterscotch, sweet pear, bubblegum and pineapple aromas. Medium-to-full bodied and creamy mouthfeel with pineapple, bubblegum, and oak spice flavours on the palate. Good acids, while the finishing long, smooth, and toasty. Score: 89 pts

NCT CABERNET FRANC 2010 - Donald Ziraldo Vineyard, VQA St. David's Bench (#) (XD) - $19.15
Medium intensity nose showing elegant oak, bramble, mulberry and pomegranate aromas with good fruit/oak balanced on the palate. It's full-bodied with astringent tannins that could use at least 2 years in cellar. Finish is long and warming. Score: 88 pts

NCT DEAN'S LIST CABERNET FRANC 2011 - VQA St. David's Bench (#) (XD) - $28.15
Aromas of medium-high intensity with elegant oak, crushed red berries, black cherry and plummy notes. It's medium-to-full bodied with crushed red & blue fruits, tilled earth, and vanillan spice flavours on the palate. Good acids and a long, warm finish. Score: 89 pts

VIENI CHARDONNAY 2012 - VQA Vinemount Ridge (#) (D) - $22.95
Low-to-medium intensity nose featuring pear and apple aromas, along with a whiff of smoke. Full-bodied with sweet ripe fruits, apple, coconut, butterscotch and pineapple flavours. very good acids. Spiced mid-palate continues on the long finish. Score 88 pts

VIENI CABERNET SAUVIGNON RESERVE 2010 - VQA Vinemount Ridge (#373308) (XD) - $22.95
Medium-high intensity aromas with savoury notes of barnyard, tilled earth and black currant. It's full-bodied with nice aroma replays. Balanced acids to go along with smooth, integrated tannins and long finish. Score: 89+ pts

LEGENDS ESTATES PETIT VERDOT RESERVE 2007 - VQA Niagara Peninsula (#002776) (XD) - $22.95
Aromas of medium+ intensity with crushed blackberries, mint/eucalypt and earthy nose. It's full-bodied with lovely aroma replays and good balance throughout. Has very good acids and firm tannins. Finish is elegantly spiced and lengthy. Score: 89 pts

LEGENDS ESTATES CABERNET SAUVIGNON RESERVE 2012 - Lizak Vineyard, VQA Lincoln Lakeshore (#) (XD) - $21.90
Highly aromatic nose showing grilled pepper, earthy, black cherry, and cassis notes, while the flavour profiles echoes the aromas very nicely. The palate is full-bodied with firm tannins and mouth-watering acids. Will be better in 2-3 years. Score: 90+ pts

Wine Review of 2012 Legends Estates Cabernet Sauvignon from Lizak Vineyard, VQA Lincoln Lakeshore

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