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  • Date publishedSaturday, February 21, 2015

Feb. 21 LCBO Wine Picks: Australia 2012 + Award-Winning Ontario Wines

Wine Picks from February 21, 2015 LCBO VINTAGES Release
Here are my wine picks from today's release. Apologies for the delay in posting my picks from the LCBO VINTAGES release as I am currently on vacation and had to deal with jet lag, a minor bout with a stomache virus, and a death in the family. Therefore, this will be a short write-up.

This release focuses on Australia's magnificent 2012 vintage, while the mini-theme highlights four award-winning local Ontario wines, three of which are included among my wine recommendations below. The wines from Château des Charmes, Peller Estates and Inniskillin are all award winners.

From the 16 wines featured in the Australia theme, four of the wines made my wine picks. Included in my list below is a dry (not sweet) Riesling, a Cabernet Sauvignon, and a pair of Australian Shirazes. Down the road, I will be anxiously awaiting an aged Semillon from this fine vintage.


Red Wine:
  • ROTLLÁN TORRA 2010 - DOCa Priorat, Spain (#267989) (XD) - $18.95
  • BLEASDALE MULBERRY TREE CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2012 - Langhorne Creek, South Australia (#661892) (XD) - $17.95
  • FOWLES STONE DWELLERS SHIRAZ 2012 - Strathbogie Ranges, Victoria, Australia (#265967) (XD) - $19.95
  • LENTO LAMEZIA RISERVA 2010 - DOC Lamezia Rosso, Calabria, Italy (#972208) (XD) - $19.95
  • QUINTA DO MONDEGO 2009 - DOC Dão, Portugal (#399766) (XD) - $19.95
  • VIÑA CASABLANCA NIMBUS SINGLE VINEYARD SYRAH 2011 - Casablanca Valley, Chile (#399386) (XD) - $19.95
  • CHÂTEAU MOULINS-LISTRAC 2010 - AC Puisseguin Saint-Émilion, Bordeaux, France (#403048) (XD) - $21.95
  • DOMAINE DU GRAPILLON D’OR GIGONDAS 2012 - AC, Rhône, France (#981787) (XD) - $32.95
  • YANGARRA SHIRAZ 2012 - McLaren Vale, South Australia (#911974) (XD) - $32.95
  • FONTODI CHIANTI CLASSICO 2011 - DOCG, Tuscany, Italy (#933317) (XD) - $34.95

White Wine:
  • JEAN BIECHER & FILS RESERVE RIESLING 2012 - AP Alsace, France (#403105) (D) - $14.95
  • RIDGE ROAD RIESLING 2013 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#346858) (M) - $15.95
  • CHÂTEAU DES CHARMES OLD VINES RIESLING 2012 - VQA Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada (#277228) (D) - $16.95  reviewed here
  • LAWSON’S DRY HILLS SAUVIGNON BLANC 2014 - Marlborough, South Island, New Zealand (#214460) (XD) - $18.95
  • ESSER CHARDONNAY 2012 - Monterey County, California, USA (#675017) (XD) - $18.95
  • WITHER HILLS RARANGI SINGLE VINEYARD SAUVIGNON BLANC 2013 - Marlborough, South Island, New Zealand (#288134) (XD) - $21.95
  • BURNING KILN STICK SHAKER SAVAGNIN 2013 - VQA Ontario, Canada (#367144) (D) - $24.95
  • JIM BARRY THE LODGE HILL DRY RIESLING 2012 - Clare Valley, South Australia (#262469) (XD) - $25.95
  • ANDREW PELLER SIGNATURE SERIES SAUVIGNON BLANC 2012 - VQA Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada (#405043) (XD) - $30.20  reviewed here
  • HARTFORD COURT CHARDONNAY 2012 - Russian River Valley, Sonoma County, California, USA (#404277) (XD) - $39.95  reviewed here

  • LUSTAU PENÍNSULA SOLERA RESERVA PALO CORTADO - DO Jerez, Spain (#677856) (D) (375 mL) - $18.95  Flagship Store Exclusive
  • DALVA 20-YEAR-OLD TAWNY PORT - DOP, Portugal (#400689) (S) - $46.95

Dessert Wine:
  • INNISKILLIN DISCOVERY SERIES BOTRYTIS AFFECTED VIOGNIER 2013 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#405027) (S) (375 mL) - $39.95

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

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  • Date publishedWednesday, February 11, 2015

Hoffmann-Simon Piesporter Goldtröpfchen Riesling Spätlese 2011 (Mosel) - Wine Review

Tonight's wine was purchased back in 2012 from the September 29 LCBO VINTAGES release and opened tonight to celebrate our 7th Wedding Anniversary. Not surprisingly, this excellent white wine is no longer available, but I wouldn't be surprised to see a future vintage re-appear on our shelves.

HOFFMANN-SIMON PIESPORTER GOLDTRÖPFCHEN RIESLING SPÄTLESE 2011 - Prädikatswein, Mosel, Germany (#216499) (MS) - $21.95

Wine Review of 2011 Hoffmann-Simon Piesporter Goldtröpfchen Riesling Spätlese from Mosel, Germany (91 pts)
Tasting Note:
Screw cap. Elegantly perfumed nose of florals, orange peel, peach, nectarine, and hints of ginger and plum. Palate is lean with a fine seam of acidity that dances across your tongue. Balanced, medium-sweet orange, peach, nectarine, and honey flavour profile with a nice mineral streak running throughout. Slightly chalky texture on the mid-palate that continues on to the very long finish. Only 9% alc./vol. Superb. Highly recommended. Will be enjoyed with homemade Chicken Lasagne. Score: 91 pts

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  • Date publishedTuesday, February 10, 2015

Burrowing Owl (British Columbia) Wine Tasting

Burrowing Owl Estate Winery Logo
In , I was invited to a very special tasting of wines by British Columbia's Burrow Owl Estate Winery. This tasting was hosted by their agent here in Ontario - Le Sommelier - and held at the Fine Wine Reserve.

Founder Jim Wyse had no intention of starting a winery when he began replanting vineyards in 1993 - his goal was to produce world class, premium quality grapes. Soon enough, however, he realized that his grapes were producing wines that gained immediate recognition. In 1997, Jim decided to build Burrowing Owl Estate Winery, with construction beginning early in 1998 and completing in time for that year's harvest. Today, Burrowing Owl uses state-of-the-art technologies, including a gravity-flow system to ensure grapes are handled delicately, with proven, classic winemaking traditions. Burrowing Owl also has a temperature controlled cave/cellar for fermentation and barrel ageing.

The vineyards at Burrowing Owl are varied and have deceptively fragile ecosystems which the team tries to maintain using environmentally-friendly methods. For pest control, bluebird boxes and bat nurseries are used to help contain insects in the vineyard, while snakes are safely relocated, and bears and big horned sheep are discouraged from munching on grapes but never harmed.

Nearly all of the 9 wines that were available for tasting were enjoyable. Here are wine reviews of 6 of my favourites.

Tasting Notes:
BURROWING OWL CHARDONNAY 2012 - BC VQA Okanagan Valley (#208694) (XD) - $33.95
Barrel fermented in 90% French oak and 10% American oak. Highly aromatic and very balanced nose showing orchard fruits, apple, pear and butter. It's medium-full bodied on the palate with bracing acids and very nice aroma replays. Oak-spiced mid-palate and very long finish. Released in VINTAGES last September and plenty in stock. Recommended. Score: 90+ pts

Wine Review of 2012 Burrowing Owl Chardonnay from BC VQA Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, Canada (90+ pts)Wine Review of 2012 Burrowing Owl Pinot Noir from BC VQA Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, Canada (89 pts)

BURROWING OWL PINOT NOIR 2012 - BC VQA Okanagan Valley (#556613) (XD) - $40.95
Nose appeared somewhat closed but had an appealing aromas of dark currant, beet root, and hints of raspberry, strawberry and cherry. Medium+ bodied and slightly creamy, with dark currants and aroma replays on the flavour profile. Fresh, mouth-watering acids, along with integrated tannins and a medium+ length, spiced finish. Plenty available in VINTAGES. Score: 89 pts

BURROWING OWL ATHENE 2010 - BC VQA Okanagan Valley (#373336) (XD) - $44.95
Blend of 60% Syrah and 40% Cab Sauv has a medium-to-high lifted nose of barnyard and earth with nuances of raspberry, plum and cedar aromas. On the palate, it's medium-to-full bodied with currant, blue fruits, dark cherry, floral, and cassis flavours. Very good, balanced acids and oak spiced mid-palate giving way to a long, warm finish. Firm tannins are still a bit tight - will be better in 2-3 years and will last up to 2020. Fine stuff. Score: 91 pts

Wine Review of 2010 Burrowing Owl Athene from BC VQA Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, Canada (91 pts)Wine Review of 2012 Burrowing Owl Cabernet Franc from BC VQA Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, Canada (90 pts)

BURROWING OWL CABERNET FRANC 2012 - BC VQA Okanagan Valley (#349019) (XD) - $43.95
Medium+ intensity aromas with green pepper, herb, currant, smoke and cedar aromas. Palate is medium-to-full bodied and crunchy with very good tannic structure. Savoury red & black fruits, currants, green pepper and oak flavour profile. Has mouth-watering acids and a medium-long finish. Will reward with 2-3 years cellar time. Available in VINTAGES. Score: 90 pts

BURROWING OWL MERLOT 2010 - BC VQA Okanagan Valley (#585737) (XD) - $40.95
Medium intensity aromas with oak at the forefront and underlying notes of mocha, dark berries, chocolate and plum. It's medium-to-full bodied with more oak-influenced flavours of vanillan, cedar, hickory, woodsy, and some black fruits and cocoa notes. Very good acids, firm tannins are integrating nicely. Long finish is warm. The 2011 is currently in VINTAGES. Score: 89 pts

Wine Review of 2010 Burrowing Owl Merlot from BC VQA Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, Canada (89 pts)Wine Review of 2010 Burrowing Owl Meritage from BC VQA Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, Canada (90 pts)

BURROWING OWL MERITAGE 2010 - BC VQA Okanagan Valley (#343038) (XD) - $59.95
Blend of 55% Cabernet Franc, 25% Merlot, 15% Cabernet Sauvignon, 2.5% Malbec and 2.5% Petit Verdot. Aromas of medium+ intensity show musky, fresh new wood, blackberry and eucalypt. Complex red & black fruits, mint, cassis, and woodsy flavours on a medium-bodied frame. Lively, fresh acids on the mid-palate, followed by firm, dusty tannins on the very long, slightly warm finish. Only 1 remaining at the LCBO (in Liberty Village, Toronto) as of this post. Score: 90 pts

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  • Date publishedTuesday, February 3, 2015

San Raffaele Monte Tabor Soave 2013 (Veneto) - Wine Review

Opened this crisp and refreshing white wine .

Monte Tabor has been cultivating vines organically since 1970. In 2006, Monte Tabor began managing another 50 hectares of Soave vineyards in Illasi. Today, viticulturalists and oenologists collaborate on the production of organic wines from these vineyards with the Fasoli family - a family that has been organic producers in the area for over 25 years.

This organic wine is featured in the  LCBO VINTAGES release and will be on shelves this Saturday.

SAN RAFFAELE MONTE TABOR SOAVE 2013 - DOC, Veneto, Italy (#277392) (XD) - $13.95

Wine Review of 2013 San Raffaele Monte Tabor Soave from DOC, Veneto, Italy (86 pts)
Tasting Note:
100% Garganega. Elegant lime, peach and orange aromas from the cork. In the glass, aromas are low-to-medium intensity with ripe notes of citrus, peach and almond with much of same on the medium-bodied palate. Vibrant acids give way to mineral notes and a kiss of citrus sweetness. Decent length. Score: 86 pts

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  • Date publishedMonday, February 2, 2015

Feb. 7 LCBO Wine Picks: Italy + Southern Hemisphere

LCBO Wine Picks from February 7, 2015 VINTAGES Release
The next LCBO VINTAGES release will be on shelves across Ontario on . The major feature of this release highlights 11 native grapes found in Italy, while the mini-feature highlights wines from the 5 major winemaking powers in the Southern Hemisphere - Chile, Argentina, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand.

Italy has many native grape varieties - over 500 at last count. VINTAGES highlights only 11 of these grapes, and only 3 of the 17 wines are included among my wine recommendations below. If you prefer dry, floral and fragrant white wines, check out the Falanghina grape. Tuscany is synonymous with Sangiovese, but also goes by various other names within the region. The Salcheto Vino Nobile di Montepulciano is made with this grape, but goes by its local name - Prugnolo Gentile, while the Villa Cafaggio uses Sangiovese. Lastly, if you've ever tried some of the Zinfandels from California and found them too sweet, then check out the dry, earthy Primitivo (a.k.a. Zinfandel) from Puglia.

One other Italian wine is included in the magazine, but for some reason not part of the native Italian grape theme - a Pecorino from Abruzzo. The last Italian wine to be included below is a traditional Bordeaux blend from Poggio al Tesoro - 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, balance is Merlot and Cabernet Franc.

From the mini-feature, a total of 4 wines from Chile, Argentina and South Africa are worth your attention. Chile's winemaking power Concha Y Toro brings us a Carmenère that hails from a single block within a single vineyard, while Fabre Montmayou from neighbouring Argentina has a Malbec that comes from vines over 60 years old. Both wines from South Africa made my list of wine picks - a Chenin Blanc (the most widely planted white grape in the country) and a Shiraz (a.k.a. Syrah and rising in popularity in South Africa.)

Hess Collection 19 Block Mountain Cuvée 2010 from Mount Veeder, Napa Valley, California, USA (91 pts)
The rest of the release features yet another fabulous Mencía wine from Bierzo, Spain, as well as a red blend from Hess Collection (68% Cabernet Sauvignon, 14% Malbec, 11% Syrah, 6% Merlot, and 1% Petit Verdot) that I had the pleasure of tasting at the winery last June.

In white wines, the Sancerre is a Sauvignon Blanc, while the wine from Switzerland is made using the Chasselas grape. Last, but definitely not the least, is a 9-grape, dry white wine blend from Austria that will be available only on VINTAGES Flagship stores.

Enjoy my wine recommendations from this release! Cheers!

Red Wine:
  • FEUDI SALENTINI LUPORANO PRIMITIVO DEL TARANTINO 2012 - IGP, Puglia, Italy (#395368) (XD) - $17.95
  • VILLA CAFAGGIO CHIANTI CLASSICO 2011 - DOCG, Tuscany, Italy (#176776) (XD) - $19.95
  • J. LOHR SOUTH RIDGE SYRAH 2012 - Paso Robles, California, USA (#948240) (XD) - $19.95
  • RUSTENBERG SHIRAZ 2011 - WO Stellenbosch, South Africa (#399246) (XD) - $19.95
  • FINCA LA CUESTA 2011 - DO Bierzo, Spain (#166702) (XD) - $19.95
  • FABRE MONTMAYOU GRAN RESERVA MALBEC 2011 - Mendoza, Argentina (#279802) (XD) - $22.95
  • SALCHETO VINO NOBILE DI MONTEPULCIANO 2011 - DOCG, Tuscany, Italy (#685180) (D) - $29.95  reviewed here
  • CONCHA Y TORO TERRUNYO PEUMO VINEYARD BLOCK 27 CARMENÈRE 2011 - Entre Cordilleras, Peumo, Cachapoal Valley, Chile (#562892) (XD) - $29.95
  • HESS COLLECTION 19 BLOCK MOUNTAIN CUVÉE 2010 - Mount Veeder, Napa Valley, California, USA (#018879) (XD) - $49.95  reviewed here
  • POGGIO AL TESORO SONDRAIA 2010 - DOC Bolgheri Superiore, Tuscany, Italy (#292391) (XD) - $49.95

White Wine:
  • REICHSGRAF VON KESSELSTATT RK RIESLING 2008 - QbA Mosel, Germany (#733295) (M) - $15.95  reviewed here
  • WEINGUT ZAHEL RIEDENCUVÉE GRÜNER VELTLINER 2013 - Wiener Lagen, Austria (#181594) (XD) - $16.95
  • ECO PECORINO D’ABRUZZO SUPERIORE 2013 - DOC, Abruzzo, Italy (#395020) (XD) - $17.95
  • OCONE FLORA FALANGHINA 2012 - DOP Taburno Falanghina del Sannio, Campania, Italy (#326694) (XD) - $18.95
  • REDSTONE CHARDONNAY 2011 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#398966) (XD) - $18.95
  • CAVES ORSAT FENDANT 2013 - AC Valais, Switzerland (#402669) (XD) - $19.95
  • SIMONSIG CHENIN AVEC CHÊNE CHENIN BLANC 2012 - WO Stellenbosch, South Africa (#282772) (XD) - $25.95
  • DOMAINE DE SAINT-PIERRE SANCERRE 2013 - AC, Loire, France (#170258) (XD) - $26.95
  • WIENINGER NUSSBERG ALTE REBEN WIENER GEMISCHTER SATZ 2012 - DAC, Wien, Austria (#395640) (XD) - $37.00

Sparkling Wine:
  • POULET ET FILS BRUT CRÉMANT DE DIE - Méthode Traditionnelle, AC, Rhône, France (#392555) (D) - $17.95
  • TAITTINGER PRESTIGE BRUT ROSÉ CHAMPAGNE - AC, France (#993113) (D) - $89.95

Fortified Wine:
  • FONSECA QUINTA DO PANASCAL VINTAGE PORT 2001 - Bottled in 2003, DOP, Portugal (#402354) (S) (375 mL) - $39.95

Dessert Wine:
  • FEATHERSTONE SELECT LATE HARVEST CABERNET FRANC 2011 - VQA Twenty Mile Bench, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#210757) (S) (375 mL) - $19.95  reviewed here

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

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