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  • Date publishedWednesday, February 24, 2016

Gourmet Food & Wine Expo 2015 - Review

Amsterdam BrewHouse Jalapeño Chicken + Waffle
On , I attended VIP Night at the 21st Annual Gourmet Food & Wine Expo that was held at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre.

I arrived early as per the norm, however, unlike last year, there was no complimentary seminar before the show, so I waited patiently for the doors to open. Once inside just after 6pm, the place was already quite busy and with more than 1,500 wines, beers, spirits and gourmet foods to choose from, I knew I would have to pick my spots wisely.

The first booth that struck my eye was Greek wine booth by Kolonaki Group. I don't recall ever seeing Greek wines at this show previously, but this time there was no missing it - they had a very nice, large display. More importantly, the wines being poured were very good to excellent. Wine reviews are provided below for a few of these wines.

The next surprise on my tour through the Gourmet Food & Wine Expo was the return of the Iconoclast Syrah at the Creekside Estate Winery booth. I had previously tasted the 2012 Iconoclast Syrah and was told that at the time that it wouldn't be made again. I am very happy to report that they changed their mind and brought back the Iconoclast label for another vintage. This Syrah is their middle tier wine that slides between their classic Syrah and the premium Broken Press Syrah. Currently only available through the winery, I hope this will one day makes its way to LCBO shelves for wider enjoyment. Conveniently located across the Creekside booth was another local winery - Hidden Bench Vineyards and Winery. I was able to taste through Hidden Bench's entire offering at the show and, as always, the wines were excellent.

I also tasted some fine Austrian wines poured by Le Sommelier at the Advantage Austria booth, some of which should make their way on to VINTAGES shelves in 2016. After hearing quite a few nice things about one of Ontario's newest wineries that opened just over a year ago, I knew I had to make at least a brief stop at the Two Sisters Vineyards booth. I had the pleasure of meeting one of the sisters, Melissa Marotta-Paolicelli, as she took me through a flight of their well-made red wines. I hope I get a chance to visit this exciting winery in Niagara-on-the-Lake soon to taste their entire portfolio of wines.

My final wine stop of the evening was at the Wines of Germany booth to taste some fine Riesling. As per the norm, the wines I tasted from Wines of Germany were excellent. I also loved the fact that the folks at Wines of Germany always seem to pour quality wines that are available for purchase at the LCBO or will be available soon.

The Gourmet Food & Wine Expo is mostly about the wine for me as I usually run out of time before I get the chance to try many of the mouth-watering gourmet food offerings. This year, I managed to try the delicious jalapeño chicken & waffle (twice!) at the Amsterdam Brewery booth. It doesn't seem as though this item is on their menu at the Amsterdam BrewHouse on Queen's Quay, but I hope they offer it eventually as it was tasty! Based on this yummy item, I have high hopes for the rest of their menu and hope to visit the restaurant for the first time ever in the near the future.

A favourite stop of mine for food at this show is the Fire in the Kitchen booth where they offer a multitude of yummy, specialty seasonings. This year, they were offering a grilled cheese stuffed with chicken and a marinade heavy on pickles. I added some of their hot sauce and it was delicious!

To end the night, I tried to get some ice cream from the Marble Slab Creamery, but the line (although not very long) was moving very, very slowly. With only one person preparing sweet creations, while the other person was taking her precious time to update the menu board even though the show was closing in 10 minutes, it was painful to wait so I ended up departing the line and headed to Amsterdam Brewery for a second helping of the chicken & waffle.

Maybe it was just me, but food options seemed to be fewer than previous years. Overall, I enjoyed my time at the Gourmet Food & Wine Expo, making a few new friends while also re-connecting with industry folk that I only seem to see at this show. As always, it was great to see the usual industry folk that I see throughout the year - you know who you are.

Looking forward to more good times in 2016!

Tasting Notes:

SANTO ASSYRTIKO 2014 - PDO Santorini, Greece (D) - $17.95
Medium+ intensity aromas featuring citrus, orange and grapefruit aromas which echo very nicely on the ripe, slightly salty palate. It has fresh acidity and very good length on the finish. Quite enjoyable and has good crowd appeal. Score: 89 pts

ARGYROS SANTORINI ASSYRTIKO 2014 - PDO Santorini, Greece (#387365) (XD) - $21.95
Tasted this last May and still captivating today. Aroma and flavour profile hasn't changed, still has bracing acids and fine length. Score: 90 pts

BOUTARI GRANDE RESERVE XINOMAVRO 2010 - PDO Naoussa, Greece (#140111) (D) - $18.95
Medium intensity aromas of cherry, strawberry, some florals and sweet spices. Supple tannins on the medium-bodied palate with very nice aroma replays. Acids are nicely balanced. Finishes long and dry with a hint of mineral notes. Good tannic structure will allow this to age well. Drink now or over the next 6-8 years. The 2008 vintage of this wine came to VINTAGES in November. Score: 90 pts

Boutari Grande Reserve Xinomavro 2010 - PDO Naoussa, Greece (90 pts)

SANTO VINSANTO 2006 - PDO Santorini, Greece (S) (500 mL) - $35.95
Lovely medium-to-high intensity aromas of musky spice, burnt sugar. It's full-bodied with very sweet flavours of caramel, honey, lemon twist, burnt sugar and sweet spices. Somewhat chalky texture with good acidity keeps it from being cloying. Excellent length on the long, smooth finish. Score: 91 pts

Santo Vinsanto 2006 - PDO Santorini, Greece (91 pts)

CREEKSIDE ICONOCLAST NIAGARA SYRAH 2013 - VQA St. David's Bench, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#471797) (XD) - $22.95
Medium-to-high intensity nose featuring typical character of black peppercorn, spice, charcuterie, smoked meat, and black fruit notes that also appear in a balanced manner on the palate. Very good acids keep things fresh. Medium-level, gritty tannins will allow for ageing. Finishes long and smooth. Delicious! Score: 89 pts

Creekside Iconoclast Niagara Syrah 2013 - VQA St. David's Bench, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (89 pts)

HIDDEN BENCH CHARDONNAY 2013 - VQA Beamsville Bench, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#068817) (XD) - $28.95
Mild oak, stone fruit, apple, pear and a hint of honeyed fruit aromas from the glass. It's medium-bodied with delicious aroma replays plus notes of lime on the palate. Showing very good complexity, balanced acidity and finishes long. Score: 90 pts

HIDDEN BENCH PINOT NOIR 2013 - Unfiltered, VQA Beamsville Bench, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#274753) (XD) - $29.95
A fairly lifted nose featuring beetroot, smoke, and cherry that also come through very nicely on the light-to-medium bodied palate. It has balanced acidity and a light tannic grip. Well-balanced overall and finishes long. Score: 90 pts

HIDDEN BENCH TERROIR CACHÉ 2011 - VQA Beamsville Bench, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#505610) (XD) - $38.20
Medium-to-high intensity aromas of plum, sandalwood, dark cherry and blackberry. Full-bodied on the palate with sweet tannin and spice flavours to go along with aroma replays. Bright acids. Medium+ level tannins need some time to integrate. Finishes long. Feels disjointed right now. Cellar this one away for at least 2 years. Score: 89 pts

Hidden Bench Chardonnay 2013 - VQA Beamsville Bench, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (90 pts)Hidden Bench Pinot Noir 2013 - Unfiltered, VQA Beamsville Bench, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (90 pts)Hidden Bench Terroir Caché 2011 - VQA Beamsville Bench, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (89 pts)

WIENINGER 2014 - DAC Wiener Gemischter Satz, Vienna, Austria (D) - $21.95
A field blend of at least 10 indigenous grape varieties, this white wine has complex notes of mineral, funk and citrus, as well as some chalky minerality on the palate. It has bright acids and some sweetness on the palate that linger on the long finish. Available in consignment via Le Sommelier. Score: 89 pts

LOIMER LANGENLOIS GRÜNER VELTLINER 2014 - DAC Kamptal, Austria (#142240) (XD) - $21.95
Medium+ intensity nose featuring complex aromas of mineral, lemon drop, lime, and hints of herbs. The rounded palate offers mineral, lemon, and citrus notes. Balanced acidity provides freshness. Finishes long. Will be in LCBO VINTAGES in Spring 2016. Score: 88+ pts

Loimer Langenlois Grüner Veltliner 2014 - DAC Kamptal, Austria (88+ pts)Heinrich Blaufränkisch 2013 - DAC Burgenland, Austria (90 pts)

HEINRICH BLAUFRÄNKISCH 2013 - DAC Burgenland, Austria (XD) - $24.95
Organic and biodynamic, it is made using a grape varietal also known as Lemberger. It has medium+ intensity aromas of cherry, beetroot, freshly tilled earth and forest floor. The palate is medium+ bodied with more cherry and beetroot flavours. Elegant tannins and balanced acidity. Finishes long. Available in consignment via Le Sommelier. Score: 90 pts

TWO SISTERS CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2012 - VQA Niagara River, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $62
Medium+ intensity aromas of black pepper, cassis, and oak spice. It's medium-to-full bodied with spice and cassis flavours leading the way on the balanced palate. Acids are bright and mouth-watering, while the medium+ level tannins provide good structure. Excellent length on the finish. Score: 90+ pts

Two Sisters Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 - VQA Niagara River, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (90+ pts)

RUPPERTSBERGER LINSENBUSCH GEWÜRZTRAMINER SPÄTLESE 2014 - Prädikatswein, Pfalz, Germany (#320473) (MS) - $17.95
Lovely, elegant nose of rose petals, lychee and honey that also show up on the sweet palate. Balanced acids and very good length on the finish. Released in VINTAGES December 12th. Score: 88 pts

Ruppertsberger Linsenbusch Gewürztraminer Spätlese 2014 - Prädikatswein, Pfalz, Germany (88 pts)Hiestand Riesling Trocken 2013 - Qualitätswein, Rheinhessen, Germany (88 pts)

HIESTAND RIESLING TROCKEN 2013 - Qualitätswein, Rheinhessen, Germany (#424515) (D) - $19.95
Interesting ripe, melon, pink grapefruit, orange citrus and stony minerality aromas that make an appearance on the slightly honeyed palate. Acids are well-balanced, while the finish is long. Released in VINTAGES October 17th. Score: 88 pts

FRITZ WILLI RIESLING 2013 - Mosel, Germany (#436873) (M) - $18.00
Orange, mineral and herbal aromas of medium intensity. It has stony, mineral, schist flavours joining the orange citrus aroma profile. It's medium-sweet with very good acidity and a minerally, long finish. Released in VINTAGES November 14th. Score: 88 pts

Fritz Willi Riesling 2013 - Mosel, Germany (88 pts)Fritz Haag Brauneberger Juffer Riesling Auslese 2013 - Mosel, Germany (92 pts)

Fine mineral, orange, citrus and petrol aromas emanate from the glass and echo very nicely on the very sweet palate. The acids are vibrant, yet balanced. Excellent length on the finish. Will provide joy for at least a decade. Score: 92 pts

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  • Date publishedFriday, February 19, 2016

Zuccardi Q Cabernet Sauvignon 2006 (Argentina) - Wine Review

This savoury, earthy red wine was purchased more than 6 years ago from the November 7, 2009 LCBO VINTAGES Release, well before I starting blogging about wine. It's unfortunate that after the 2006 vintage there were only two vintages that were released through VINTAGES at the LCBO.

Zuccardi Q Cabernet Sauvignon 2006 - Mendoza, Argentina (88 pts)

Tasting Note:

ZUCCARDI Q CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2006 - Mendoza, Argentina (#140855) (XD) - $19.95
Destroyed the cork, so had to decant/filter. Perfumed, oxidative nose of old wood, damp earth, black fruit, dark plum, dried herb, and a hint of white pepper. On the palate, it is medium-to-full bodied with black currant, cassis, dried herb, earth and wood notes. It has juicy, balanced acids, but fruit is starting to fade, leaving behind tannins that are very much chalky. Savoury long and earthy finish. Drink now as this won't improve with further ageing. Will be enjoyed with Chicken Korma. Score: 88 pts

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  • Date publishedTuesday, February 16, 2016

February 20 VINTAGES Release: Australia + Ontario

LCBO Wine Picks from February 20, 2016 VINTAGES Release
The VINTAGES Release features wines from diverse Australian wine regions as it's main theme, while the very small secondary theme focuses on award-winning Ontario wines. All of these wines, plus wines from the rest of the release will be on LCBO VINTAGES shelves across Ontario beginning this .

We'll begin with the wines from Australia. Of the 19 wines featured, 4 are included among my wine picks. Leading the pack is a dry sparkling wine from the island of Tasmania that is made in the classic Methode Traditionelle using Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. From the Eden Valley in South Australia is a dry Riesling (i.e. not sweet) for fans of the style. There's also a traditional Aussie blend of Shiraz/Cabernet from Salomon Wines. Lastly, there is an interesting and unconventional blend of 64% Shiraz, 13% Tempranillo, 12% Mourvèdre and 11% Grenache from Barossa. It's interesting to note that each of the still table wines from Australia in this release are bottled under screw cap.

The mini-theme of award-winning Ontario wines is very small - featuring just 5 wines. However, two of the five wines are among my wine recommendations. First up is the off-dry (i.e. slightly sweet) Thirty Bench Riesling that is a VINTAGES Essential product, while the second wine is a Gamay that won the Lieutenant Governor's Award in 2015.

Among my red wine picks from the rest of the release is a blend of Tinta Roriz (Tempranillo) and Jaen (Mencía) from high-altitude vines in Portugal. From neighbouring Spain is the Palacios Remondo Propiedad that is 100% Garnacha (Grenache). A pair of delightful Southern Rhône wines include a Gigondas that is blended with 80% Grenache and 20% Syrah, while the Châteauneuf-du-Pape is 95% Grenache (and 5% other varieties) from vines that are more than 100 years old. Lastly, the Brunello is 100% Sangiovese Grosso and the Savigny-lès-Beaune is 100% Pinot Noir.

La Ferme Du Mont Côtes Jugunda Gigondas 2013 - Unfiltered, AP, Rhône, France (90 pts)

In white wines, there is a wide array of varietals and styles to choose from. Starting at the dry end are wines made with Vernaccia, Grüner Veltliner, Sauvignon Blanc, and a pair of Chardonnays. There is also a Grasevina from Croatia that commonly goes by the name Welschriesling, but is unrelated to the (Rhine) Riesling that we know and love. Just off-dry (i.e. slightly sweet) is an Alsatian Pinot Gris, while going up a couple of more notches into medium-sweet territory is the Rosehall Run Riesling.

Greywacke Sauvignon Blanc 2014 - Marlborough, South Island, New Zealand (91 pts)Rosehall Run Righteous Dude Riesling 2014 - VQA Twenty Mile Bench, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (88 pts)

Enjoy my wine picks from this release. Cheers!

Red Wine:

  • BEYRA VINHOS DE ALTITUDE RESERVA 2012 - DOC Beira Interior, Portugal (#429043) (XD) - $15.95
  • CALITERRA TRIBUTO CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2013 - Single Vineyard, Colchagua Valley, Chile (#205567) (D) - $16.95
  • LAYERS SHIRAZ/TEMPRANILLO/MOURVÈDRE/GRENACHE 2012 - Barossa, South Australia (#138883) (D) - $17.95
  • CREEKSIDE ESTATE QUEENSTON ROAD PINOT NOIR 2014 - VQA St. David’s Bench, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#415877) (D) - $18.95
  • PELLER ESTATES PRIVATE RESERVE GAMAY NOIR 2013 - VQA Four Mile Creek, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#444745) (XD) - $19.95
  • SALOMON NORWOOD SHIRAZ/CABERNET 2012 - South Australia (#438234) (XD) - $20.95
  • LA FERME DU MONT CÔTES JUGUNDA GIGONDAS 2013 - Unfiltered, AP, Rhône, France (#354118) (XD) - $29.95  reviewed here
  • PALACIOS REMONDO PROPIEDAD 2011 - DOCa Rioja, Spain (#438671) (XD) - $39.95
  • ABBADIA ARDENGA BRUNELLO DI MONTALCINO 2010 - DOCG, Tuscany, Italy (#672337) (XD) - $49.95  FSE
  • RAYMOND USSEGLIO CUVÉE IMPÉRIALE CHÂTEAUNEUF-DU-PAPE 2012 - Unfiltered, AC, Rhône, France (#022319) (XD) - $57.95
  • DOMAINE PAVELOT AUX GRAVAINS SAVIGNY-LES-BEAUNE 1 ER CRU 2013 - AC, Burgundy, France (#206136) (XD) - $59.95

White Wine:

  • TERUZZI & PUTHOD VERNACCIA DI SAN GIMIGNANO 2014 - DOCG, Tuscany, Italy (#316976) (XD) - $16.95
  • THIRTY BENCH RIESLING 2013 - VQA Beamsville Bench, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#024133) (D) - $18.95
  • YEALANDS ESTATE SINGLE VINEYARD GRÜNER VELTLINER 2014 - Awatere Valley, South Island, New Zealand (#415133) (XD) - $19.95  FSE
  • MOUNTADAM RIESLING 2013 - Eden Valley, South Australia (#288266) (XD) - $19.95
  • ROSEHALL RUN RIGHTEOUS DUDE RIESLING 2014 - VQA Twenty Mile Bench, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#426486) (M) - $19.95  reviewed here
  • ILOCKI PODRUMI PREMIUM GRASEVINA 2013 - Hrvatsko Podunavlje, Croatia (#369421) (XD) - $21.95
  • TRIMBACH RÉSERVE PINOT GRIS 2012 - AC Alsace, France (#971762) (D) - $23.95
  • GREYWACKE SAUVIGNON BLANC 2014 - Marlborough, South Island, New Zealand (#164228) (XD) - $23.95  reviewed here
  • BÉJOT LES BOUCHOTS MONTAGNY 1 ER CRU 2013 - AC, Burgundy, France (#438002) (XD) - $27.95
  • LE CLOS JORDANNE CLAYSTONE TERRACE CHARDONNAY 2012 - VQA Twenty Mile Bench, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#056929) (XD) - $40.00  FSE

Sparkling Wine:

  • CHÂTEAU MONCONTOUR CUVÉE PRÉDILECTION BRUT VOUVRAY 2012 - Méthode Traditionnelle, AC, Loire, France (#168963) (XD) - $19.95
  • JOSEF CHROMY SPARKLING 2010 - Tasmania, Australia (#393629) (XD) - $29.95

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  • Date publishedWednesday, February 10, 2016

Greywacke Sauvignon Blanc 2014 (New Zealand) - Wine Review

wine is from the Marlborough label of Kevin Judd, one of Marlborough's pioneer winemakers. The name Greywacke was adopted by Kevin and his wife for their first Marlborough vineyard in Rapaura in recognition of the high prevalence of rounded greywacke stones found in the soils of the vineyard. Kevin registered the name back in 1993 with the idea that he would use it on a wine label one day. But it was only in 2009 - after making wine for Cloudy Bay for 25 years - that he established his own label - Greywacke.

The fruit for this wine was sourced from Marlborough's Southern Valleys and the central Wairau Plains. Soil types vary from the young alluvial soils of the Wairau Plains that contain high proportions of New Zealand’s ubiquitous greywacke river stones, to the older and denser clay-loams of the Southern Valleys. Greywacke wines are made by Kevin at Dog Point Winery in the lower Brancott Valley, a facility extended to him by long-standing friends and colleagues Ivan Sutherland and James Healy.

This delicious white wine will be available in the LCBO VINTAGES Release.

Greywacke Sauvignon Blanc 2014 - Marlborough, South Island, New Zealand (91 pts)

Tasting Note:

GREYWACKE SAUVIGNON BLANC 2014 - Marlborough, South Island, New Zealand (#164228) (XD) - $23.95
Screw cap. Very fragrant grassy nose with hints of kiwi, gooseberry, grapefruit and some citrus zest. The light-to-mid-weighted palate is clean and crisp with vibrant acidity. Grapefruit, minerals, gooseberry, kiwi and citrus flavour profile. Extremely well-balanced from start to end. Excellent length with mineral and lemon notes on the finish. This is superb and highly recommended. Buy this on and save it for patio weather. Score: 91 pts

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  • Date publishedSaturday, February 6, 2016

Mike Weir Limited Edition Cabernet Franc 2013 (Niagara) - Wine Review

This yummy red wine was provided to me by the fine folks at Mike Weir Winery when I visited them last month during the Niagara Icewine Festival. It was requested that I do not taste it at the winery, and instead taste this in the leisurely confines of home, after decanting it for 24 hours. As such, this will not be a normal post as I normally don't decant wines (due to natural oxidation that occurs because my bottles typically last 2-3 days anyway) or post tasting notes from multiple tasting sessions.

The review from night is posted below, as well as tasting note. I fully expect this Cabernet Franc to be tasted evening as well, while watching the Super Bowl, so please do come back and visit to see how it tastes on a 3rd day.

Currently, this wine is only available at the winery. Please contact the winery directly to place your order as it's currently not listed on the website's online shopping cart.

Mike Weir Limited Edition Cabernet Franc 2013 - VQA Beamsville Bench, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (89 pts)

Tasting Notes:

MIKE WEIR LIMITED EDITION CABERNET FRANC 2013 - VQA Beamsville Bench, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $29.95
night: Screw cap. Initial bretty/barnyard nose of medium+ intensity gives way to earth, blackberry, herbed spice, raspberry and some rose petal notes. It's medium-to-full bodied with smooth tannins that are just a touch grippy. It has juicy acids and flavours of black cherry, blackberry, damp earth, wild herb and hints of olive. Good length on the finish. Enjoy now or over the next 2-4 years. Score: 88 pts

night: The heavy barnyard aromas from Friday have now moved to the back and is quite fruit forward on the nose tonight, showing black currant, raspberry, dark plum, dried herbs and a hint of floral. It is medium-to-full bodied on the palate with vibrant, juicy acids. Softened, dusty tannins are smooth. Pleasing aroma replays with a some raisiny character developing. The finish length is very good. Score: 89 pts

night: Black currant, black licorice, wild herb, hints of cassis and whiffs of white pepper of medium+ intensity on the nose. On the palate, it's medium-to-full bodied with dried herbs, blackberry, black cherry and more raisiny flavours that started to develop yesterday. Acids are still quite juicy, while the finish length is very good. Still a pleasure to sip, but it was at its peak yesterday.

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  • Date publishedMonday, February 1, 2016

Kono Sauvignon Blanc 2014 (New Zealand) - Wine Review

wine is new to VINTAGES and will be available as part of the February 20 VINTAGES Release.

Kono Wines are made from carefully selected vineyards within Marlborough on New Zealand's South Island. Owned by the native Māori, the grapes are grown with soil knowledge and cultivation methods passed down from Māori forbearers. Kaitiakitanga - guardianship of the land, resources and environment - is an integral part of the values of Kono Wines. As such, the vineyards for Kono Wines are certified SWNZ (Sustainable Winegrowing New Zealand) and CEMARS (Certified Emissions Measurement and Reduction Scheme).

True to Māori culture, they have a strong spiritual connection to everything they grow and a responsibility to ensure that the land is passed onto future generations in pristine condition.

Kono Sauvignon Blanc 2014 - Marlborough, South Island, New Zealand (87 pts)

Tasting Note:

KONO SAUVIGNON BLANC 2014 - Marlborough, South Island, New Zealand (#441394) (XD) - $19.95
Screw cap. Highly fragrant nose of gooseberry, kiwi, asparagus and lime citrus in typical New Zealand style. On the palate, it is medium-bodied with piercing, juicy acidity to go along with ripe pear, asparagus, melon and citrus flavours. Good length on the tart finish. Serve well-chilled and drink over the next 2 years. Enjoyed tonight with herbed salmon. Score: 87 pts

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  • Date publishedMonday, February 1, 2016

February 6 VINTAGES Release: Southern France + South Africa + Valentines

LCBO Wine Picks from February 6, 2016 VINTAGES Release
The VINTAGES Release will be on shelves this coming and continues the on-going theme of the year to focus on wine regions offering good value wines. In this edition, wines from Southern Franc are the main theme, while the mini-theme focuses on wines from South Africa. Also featured in this release are wines for .

Southern France is a large wine region bordering the Mediterranean coast that in this release comprises of Languedoc, Roussillon and Provence. Of the 11 wines featured from this region, 4 are included in my list of wine picks. First up is an extra-dry sparkling wine from Gérard Bertrand that consists of Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc, Pinot Noir, and Mauzac. In red wines, the Secret de Schistes is 100% Syrah, while the wine from Cave de Roquebrun is a blend of 50% Syrah, 30% Grenache and 20% Mourvèdre. Lastly, there is a 12-year-old blend of old vines Carignan, Grenache and Syrah from Château des Erles that is made only in the best years.

From South Africa, two of the eight wines are included among my wine picks. One of the principal varietals that South Africa does well is Chenin Blanc. The Ken Forrester Chenin Blanc is a dry take on the varietal from old vines that are nearly 40 years old. The other South African wine is also a white wine from the very interesting Avondale Wines that is a Chenin Blanc driven blend which also includes Roussanne, Muscat de Frontignan, Viognier and Semillon.

Wines for Valentine's Day celebrations include Champagnes from Lallier Rose (80/20 Pinot Noir/Chardonnay) and the 2008 Taittinger, as well as the Cabernet Franc Icewine from Lakeview Cellars.

Lakeview Cellars Cabernet Franc Icewine 2013 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (89 pts)Tiago Cabaço .com Premium White 2014 - Vinho Regional Alentejano, Portugal (88 pts)

From the rest of the release, Tiago Cabaço is an intriguing white wine blend of Antão Vaz, Verdelho, and Viognier, while the white Burgundies are all Chardonnay.

In red wines, the Fielding Red from the excellent 2012 Niagara vintage is a blend of 68% Cabernet Franc, 18% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Syrah and 6% Petit Verdot. The Quadrus Red from Portugal is a blend of Touriga Nacional, Tinta Roriz (a.k.a. Tempranillo) and Souzão, while the Valpolicella is 80% Corvina/Corvinone and 20% Rondinella.

Enjoy my wine recommendations for the week! Cheers!

Red Wine:

  • BOUTARI NAOUSSA XINOMAVRO 2013 - Naoussa, Greece (#023218) (XD) - $13.95
  • VIÑA TARAPACÁ GRAN RESERVA CARMENÈRE 2013 - Maipo Valley, Chile (#57513) (D) - $17.95
  • FIELDING RED CONCEPTION 2012 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#189183) (D) - $18.95
  • CONCHA Y TORO MARQUES DE CASA CONCHA MERLOT 2013 - Maule Valley, Chile (#939827) (XD) - $19.95
  • QUADRUS RED 2010 - DOC Douro, Portugal (#440305) (XD) - $21.95
  • CHÂTEAU DES ERLES FITOU 2004 - AC, Midi, France (#654590) (XD) - $25.95
  • SECRET DE SCHISTES 2011 - IGP Côtes Catalanes, Midi, France (#440669) (XD) - $41.95
  • SAN GIACOMO BRUNELLO DI MONTALCINO 2010 - DOCG, Tuscany, Italy (#434548) (XD) - $49.95
  • LA JOTA HOWELL MOUNTAIN ESTATE CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2012 - Howell Mountain, Napa Valley, California, USA (#659755) (D) - $94.95

White Wine:

  • AVONDALE JONTY’S DUCKS PEKIN WHITE 2014 - WO Paarl, South Africa (#439554) (XD) - $14.95
  • TIAGO CABAÇO .COM PREMIUM WHITE 2014 - Vinho Regional Alentejano, Portugal (#429316) (XD) - $14.95  reviewed here
  • EMILIANA NATURA UNOAKED CHARDONNAY 2015 - Casablanca Valley, Chile (#439398) (XD) - $15.95
  • CAVE SPRING ESTATE BOTTLED CHARDONNAY MUSQUÉ 2014 - Cave Spring Vineyard, VQA Beamsville Bench, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#246579) (D) - $16.95
  • KEN FORRESTER OLD VINE RESERVE CHENIN BLANC 2015 - WO Stellenbosch, South Africa (#231282) (XD) - $17.95
  • PIERRE SPARR SCHOENENBOURG RIESLING 2011 - AC Alsace Grand Cru, Alsace, France (#664995) (XD) - $22.95  FSE
  • LOUIS MOREAU DOMAINE DE BIÉVILLE CHABLIS 2014 - AC, Burgundy, France (#106161) (XD) - $25.95
  • DOMAINE DE BELLENE LES CHARMES DESSUS SANTENAY 2013 - AC, Burgundy, France (#435032) (XD) - $35.95
  • DOMAINE LAROCHE VIEILLES VIGNES LES VAILLONS CHABLIS 1 ER CRU 2012 - AC, Burgundy, France (#991893) (XD) - $36.95

Sparkling Wine:

  • GÉRARD BERTRAND CUVÉE THOMAS JEFFERSON BRUT CRÉMANT DE LIMOUX 2013 - Méthode Traditionnelle, AC, Languedoc, France (#438838) (XD) - $19.95
  • LALLIER GRAND CRU ROSÉ CHAMPAGNE - AC, Champagne, France (#385179) (D) - $56.95
  • TAITTINGER BRUT CHAMPAGNE 2008 - AC, Champagne, France (#989905) (XD) - $97.95

Dessert Wine:

  • GRÓF DEGENFELD TOKAJI SZAMORODNI SWEET 2010 - Hungary (#433946) (S) (500 mL) - $18.95
  • LAKEVIEW CABERNET FRANC ICEWINE 2013 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#053397) (S) (200 mL) - $29.95  reviewed here

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