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  • Date publishedSunday, July 31, 2016

La Cadierenne Cuvée Grande Tradition Bandol Rosé 2015 (Provence) - Wine Review

Opened up this fine, dry rosé wine from Provence ahead of it's release into VINTAGES on August 6th.

Produced by Les Vignerons de La Cadiérenne, this rosé comes from the Bandol wine region in Provence, where a long tradition of winemaking exists since the Greeks first colonized the area more than 2,600 years ago. This co-operative winery was created in 1929 with 37 winemakers in the region.

Bandol is a relatively small AOC located in the South of France, near the coast of the Mediterranean and just west of Toulon. The region specializes in rosé wine, with 60% of its entire production devoted to it.

This wine will be on LCBO shelves as part of the August 6 VINTAGES Release.

La Cadierenne Cuvée Grande Tradition Bandol Rosé 2015 - AC, Provence, France (89 pts)

Tasting Note:

LA CADIÉRENNE CUVÉE GRANDE TRADITION BANDOL ROSÉ 2015 - AC, Provence, France (#119453) (XD) - $20.95
Made with 40% Mourvèdre,  30% Grenache and 30% Cinsault, from vines that are 20 years old on clay-limestone and marl soils. Ripe peach and spring meadow aromas from the cork. Pretty pale pink colour. Medium+ intensity nose of peach, citrus, floral and hints of Provençal herb. Full-ish on the palate with more citrus, peach, floral and herbally flavours. Nicely balanced with fresh, juicy acids. Made in the traditional dry (i.e. not sweet) style. Clean orange citrus notes on the long, crisp finish. Perfect on a hot summer's day. Score: 89 pts

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  • Date publishedFriday, July 29, 2016

Top Riesling - Wines of Germany Tasting 2016

Riesling & Co. Wines of Germany 2016
The next post in my continuing series of wine tastings in May is the Riesling & Co. Wines of Germany tasting that was held in at the Arcadian Loft on Bay Street.

This event tends to be one of my favourite tastings of the year because I love my Rieslings, especially the wines from Germany. And while there were plenty of delicious German Riesling wines of various sweetness levels, I was a bit disappointed with the fact that very few showed the lovely petrol nose that I was seeking. Furthermore, there seems to be a growing trend of producing more dry instead of sweet Riesling in Germany. Personally, I prefer the sweeter styles.

In addition to Riesling, there were a few delicious Pinot Noirs, such as the Thörle Saulheimer Hölle Spätburgunder 2013 (90+ pts, $60). There was also the delicious Weingut Am Stein Stettener Stein Silvaner 2014 (89 pts) and a surprising Cabernet Sauvignon & Merlot blend in the Frey Assemblage 2013.

My most memorable wine of the event was a German Eiswein. This was my first time ever tasting Eiswein and it was absolutely delicious - I can see why most of it never leaves the borders of Germany (because not much is made, and what ever is made is scooped up by the locals). Wine reviews of my other favourite German wines are provided below. None of these wines are available at the LCBO, but you can contact the Agent for pricing and availability.

Tasting Notes:

Highly aromatic with wet stone, mineral, lime, peach and stone fruit. The palate is sweet with balanced aroma replays and lively acids. Excellent finish length. Contact Churchill Cellars for ordering info. Score: 93 pts

Rappenhof Niersteiner Oelberg Riesling Auslese 2014 - Rheinhessen, Germany (93 pts)Schloss Schönborn Jubiläum Hattenheimer Pfaffenberg Riesling Spätlese 2011 - Rheingau, Germany (91 pts)

The nose is highly aromatic, offering peach, apricot, orange, citrus and some wet stone aromas. It's medium-bodied with bright, balanced acids and very nice aroma replays. Balanced and very long finishing. Contact H.H.D. Imports for ordering info. Score: 91 pts

An effervescence wine with white peach and citrus aromas and flavours, joined by apricot, honey and mature petrol notes on the medium-sweet palate. Acids are still quite juicy, finish is long-lasting. Contact H.H.D. Imports for ordering info. Score: 91 pts

Reichsgraf Von Kesselstatt Josephshöfer Riesling Spätlese Monopol 2003 - Mosel, Germany (91 pts)Julius Treis Goldlay Riesling Spätlese 2015 - Mosel, Germany (91 pts)

Medium-high intensity nose featuring white peach, apricot, citrus, pink grapefruit and stony minerality with terrific complexity. It's medium-dry with aroma replays led by orangey citrus notes. Very well balanced with finely tuned acids, and excellent finish length. Not represented in Ontario at time of tasting. Score: 91 pts

THÖRLE SAULHEIMER SCHLOSSBERG RIESLING 2014 - Rheinhessen, Germany (D) - $50
Medium+ intensity nose with mineral and lime aromas. The medium+ bodied palate offers a chalky texture with more mineral notes, high acids, and fine length with more minerally tones. Contact Univins and Spirits to order. Score: 91 pts

Thörle Saulheimer Schlossberg Riesling 2014 - Rheinhessen, Germany (91 pts)Burg Ravensburg Husarenkappe Riesling Grosses Gewächs 2013 - Baden, Germany (91 pts)

A single site wine from vines that are more than 40 years old, this Riesling has an appealing, highly aromatic nose of petrol, orange, apricot that's very clean. Just a touch off-dry, it has flavours of orange, peach and stony minerality. Nicely balacned with very good acidity and finishing long. Contact Halpern Wine Enterprises to order. Score: 91 pts

Highly aromatic, so intoxicating with lovely honey, apricot, and peach aromas that come from the drops I was poured. The palate is medium-bodied and very sweet with gentle acidity that balances the sweet aroma replays very well. Excellent length on the finish. Was seeking representation in Ontario. Score: 92 pts

Weingut Am Stein Stettener Stein Riesling Eiswein 2012 - Franken, Germany (92 pts)

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  • Date publishedWednesday, July 27, 2016

Château Rigaud 2012 (Midi) - Wine Review

Opened up this pretty red wine from Midi tonight ahead of its VINTAGES Release on .

This wine comes from Languedoc's Faugères appellation, located 20 km northwest of Beziers, a town just off the Mediterranean sea. Château Rigaud is produced by Jean Paux-Rosset, owner of Château de la Négly, and his consulting winemaker, Claude Gros. The Faugères area has multi-coloured sandy schist soils that naturally imparts acidity and elegance to the grapes. Furthermore, the area is unique in that it has the only homogeneous terroir in the region.

Château Rigaud 2012 - AP Faugères, Midi, France (88 pts)

Tasting Note:

CHÂTEAU RIGAUD 2012 - AP Faugères, Midi, France (#393561) (XD) - $16.95
Blend of 55% Syrah, 26% Mourvèdre and 19% Grenache, from organically-grown grapes on flaky schist soils with southern exposure. Black plum, dark fruit and some sweet oak spice aromas from the cork. Initially a rustic earthy nose that gives way to ripe blackberry, black cherry, and hints of floral and sweet oak spice. With air, lovely floral aromas really pop from the glass. Full-bodied on the palate with pretty floral, red and black fruits, and sweet oak spice flavours layered over earth. Slightly tart acids are fresh and juicy. Fine-grained tannins gain texture in the glass. Long, satisfying finish with hints of minerality. A lot going on in this bottle, evolving very nicely from sip-to-sip. Enjoy tasting and smelling this pretty wine over an evening. Score: 88 pts

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  • Date publishedSunday, July 24, 2016

Les Vignerons du Castelas Vieilles Vignes Signargues Côtes du Rhône-Villages 2013 (France) - Wine Review

wine will be available on LCBO shelves in a couple of weeks, as part of the VINTAGES Release on August 6.

It is produced by Les Vignerons du Castelas, a co-op that was formed in 1952 by a handful of winemakers that wanted to pool their efforts. Today, the co-op is comprised of 50 different winemakers. Furthermore, these winemakers strive to pursue the "lutte rasionnée" form of viticulture which aims to use chemicals less often and less aggressively than conventional growers.

The winery is located in southern Rhône, near the Rhône river, between Pont d'Avignon and Pont du Gard in Rochefort du Gard. The name of the winery comes from an 11th century Romanesque chapel that is perched atop the village. Together, the growers cultivate 500 hectares of vines, with the majority in the Cotes du Rhône appellation. Signargues is one of their top terroirs.

Look for this yummy red wine on VINTAGES shelves beginning Saturday, August 6th.

Les Vignerons du Castelas Vieilles Vignes Signargues Côtes du Rhône-Villages 2013 - AC, Rhône, France (88+ pts)

Tasting Note:

Blend of 40% Grenache, 40% Syrah and 20% Carignan. Ripe raspberry, blackberry and kirsch liqueur on top of a layer of forest floor, and hints of sweet spice aromas from the glass. Medium+ bodied on the palate with plush, dusty tannins and flavours of blackberry, dark fruits, spice and earth. Acids are juicy. Fruit holds up well to the 14% abv. Long finish with just a touch of tannic grip. Enjoy over the next 3-5 years. Score: 88+ pts

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  • Date publishedSunday, July 24, 2016

Byrrh Grand Quinquina (France) - Review

Here's an interesting wine-based apertif I received to review and is now available at LCBO locations throughout the province.

Byrrh (pronounced "beer") was created in 1866 by brothers Pallade and Simon Violet in the small village of Thuir, France. Initially, it was distributed in pharmacies and appreciated for its medicinal benefits. Over time, Byrrh became a feature in bistros and grew in popularity through the Belle Époque (1890s - 1910s) and the Années folles (1920s). By 1935, Byrrh was the leading apertif brand in France with sales of more than 35 million litres.

The Bryrrh Grand Quinquina original recipe has remained unchanged since 1866 and is amazingly still produced in the original production facility in Thuir that was designed by Gustave Eiffel (of the famed tower) and created in 1873.

It is hand-crafted and produced by the maceration of the mistelles, naturally sweet and fruity wines (Macabeu and Grenache) which are then infused in alcohol with aromatic plants including coffee, bitter orange, colombo, cocoa, and the finest cinchona (quinine) barks. The final blend is then aged several years in one of the world's largest oak vats (1 million litres).

Byrrh Grand Quinquina - Roussillon, France (87 pts)

Tasting Note:

BYRRH GRAND QUINQUINA - Roussillon, France (#440909) (S) - $14.90
Grapey, caramel, nutty, golden raisin aromas, along with hints of sweet spice from the glass. Viscous, silky mouthfeel that's slightly warming with flavours of blackberry, orange peel, raisin, some potpourri and walnut. The palate is initially sweet, but finishes long and on the earthy, nutty side. Ideal as an apertif. I enjoyed this well-chilled, but it can also be mixed into a cocktail. Score: 87 pts

Serving Suggestions:

Byrrh on the Rocks - Served on ice

Byrrh Tonic - 1 part Byrrh Grand Quinquina, 1/2 freshly squeezed Lemon, 1 part Tonic water

Byyrh Blood & Sand - 1 part Byrrh Grand Quinquina, 1 part Te Bheag Scotch Whisky, 1 part freshly squeezed Orange Juice, 1 part Cherry Heering or Filthy Black Cherry

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  • Date publishedTuesday, July 19, 2016

Fleur du Cap Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 (South Africa) - Wine Review

wine just arrived at the LCBO last week and is now widely available throughout the province.

The grapes for this Fleur du Cap Cabernet Sauvignon were sourced from the Somerset West vineyards, planted in decomposed shale and Stellenbosch vines in decomposed granite. The vines are between 14 and 17 years of age. Pest and disease control was implemented according to South African Integrated Production of Wine (IPW) standards that focus on environmental sustainability. It was aged for 12 months in a combination of new French, and 2nd and 3rd use American oak barrels.

Fleur du Cap Bergkelder Selection Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 - WO Western Cape, South Africa (87 pts)

Tasting Note:

FLEUR DU CAP BERGKELDER SELECTION CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2013 - WO Western Cape, South Africa (#457101) (XD) - $12.95
Currant and dark plum aromas from the cork. Lush aromas of blackcurrant, cassis, dark fruits with touches of smoke, cocoa and earth. It's medium-to-full bodied with ripe red cherry flavours and some spice notes. It has fresh acids to go with supple tannins that are integrated and smooth. Good length on the earthy finish. Perfectly fine mid-week red. Enjoying with some aged cheddar. Score: 87 pts

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  • Date publishedMonday, July 18, 2016

VINTAGES Release July 23: Spain + Sauvignon Blanc

LCBO Wine Picks: July 23, 2016 VINTAGES Release
The VINTAGES Release on is a value-laden one with the main focus being on wines from 6 of Spain's lesser-known wine regions. Meanwhile, the mini-theme focuses on the Sauvignon Blanc varietal.

We'll being with Spain, where 5 of the 12 wines are included among my wine picks. From the DOP of Almansa in western Spain is the Laya that is a blend of Garnacha Tintorera (Grenache) and Monastrell, from vineyards are located between 700 to 1000 metres above sea level. From DO Bierzo, in northeastern Spain, is a wine made with Mencía. From the Cariñena DOP in western Spain is a modern Garnacha from 80-year-old bush vines that could use a couple of years cellar time prior to opening. The only white Spanish wine is the Albariño from DO Rías Baixas, located in a far-western Spain, very close to Portugal. Lastly, from the vast region of Castilla y León is an aged Tempranillo.

The Sauvignon Blanc mini-theme listed 8 wines and 3 are included among my wine recommendations. The Savvys from Chile and New Zealand are both designed to be opened really soon rather than later, while the Sancerre can be aged for at least half a decade.

Stoneleigh Latitude Sauvignon Blanc 2015 - Marlborough, South Island, New Zealand (89+ pts)

From the rest of the release, the Greek wine is a very ageable blend of 50% Xinomavro, 30% Merlot and 20% Syrah, while the Anselmi white wine that is a Flagship Store Exclusive (FSE) is 100% Garganega. Both rosé wines are blends, with the Berne Rosé consisting of 40% Grenache, 30% Cinsault and 30% Cabernet, while the Bandol Rosé contains Mourvèdre, Grenache, Cinsault, Carignan, and Syrah.

Enjoy my wine picks from this release. Salud!

Red Wine:

  • LAYA 2014 - DOP Almansa, Spain (#132605) (D) - $15.95
  • MENGUANTE SELECCIÓN GARNACHA 2012 - DOP Cariñena, Spain (#313833) (XD) - $16.95
  • CANONICA A CERRETO CHIANTI CLASSICO 2012 - DOCG, Tuscany, Italy (#283697) (XD) - $17.95
  • SANTA RITA MEDALLA REAL SYRAH 2012 - Limarí Valley, Chile (#443523) (XD) - $17.95
  • DOMAINE LAFAGE VIEILLES VIGNES NICOLAS GRENACHE NOIR 2014 - IGP Côtes Catalanes, Roussillon, France (#354191) (D) - $18.95
  • KIR-YIANNI KITMA YIANAKOHORI HILLS 2012 - PGI Imathia, Greece (#419234) (D) - $19.95
  • MERAYO LAS TRES FILAS MENCÍA 2014 - DO Bierzo, Spain (#462788) (XD) - $19.95
  • ALEJANDRO FERNÁNDEZ DEHESA LA GRANJA 2008 - Vino de la Tierra de Castilla y León, Spain (#192476) (XD) - $19.95
  • QUERCIABELLA CHIANTI CLASSICO 2013 - DOCG, Tuscany, Italy (#728816) (XD) - $37.95
  • BENI DI BATASIOLO RISERVA BAROLO 2006 - DOCG, Piedmont, Italy (#330704) (XD) - $39.95

White Wine:

  • BOYA SAUVIGNON BLANC 2015 - Leyda Valley, Chile (#389726) (XD) - $15.95
  • PALA I FIORI VERMENTINO DI SARDEGNA 2015 - DOC, Sardinia, Italy (#052068) (XD) - $15.95
  • PACO & LOLA ALBARIÑO 2014 - DO Rías Baixas, Spain (#350041) (XD) - $17.95
  • REDSTONE LIMESTONE VINEYARD SOUTH RIESLING 2012 - VQA Twenty Mile Bench, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#381251) (M) - $19.20  reviewed here
  • VILLA MARIA CELLAR SELECTION PINOT GRIS 2015 - Marlborough, South Island, New Zealand (#447490) (D) - $19.95
  • STONELEIGH LATITUDE SAUVIGNON BLANC 2015 - Marlborough, South Island, New Zealand (#324228) (XD) - $21.95  reviewed here
  • ROGER & DIDIER RAIMBAULT SANCERRE 2014 - AC, Loire, France (#082255) (XD) - $26.95
  • ANSELMI CAPITEL CROCE 2014 - IGT Veneto, Italy (#966655) (XD) - $26.95  FSE
  • FLOWERS CHARDONNAY 2014 - Sonoma Coast, California, USA (#215210) (XD) - $68.95  FSE

Rosé Wine:

  • CHÂTEAU DE BERNE TERRES DE BERNE ROSÉ 2015 - AC Côtes de Provence, France (#278861) (XD) - $16.95
  • HECHT & BANNIER BANDOL ROSÉ 2015 - AC, Provence, France (#450767) (XD) - $24.95

Sparkling Wine:

  • BILLECART-SALMON EXTRA BRUT CHAMPAGNE - AC, France (#458570) (XD) - $73.95

Dessert Wine:

  • REIF VIDAL ICEWINE 2013 - VQA Niagara River, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#544791) (S) (200 mL) - $24.95  reviewed here
Reif Vidal Icewine 2013 - VQA Niagara River, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (91 pts)

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  • Date publishedMonday, July 11, 2016

The Tragically Hip Ahead by a Century Chardonnay 2014 (Niagara) - Wine Review

Tonight's wine is a limited edition that was released at the beginning of May, 2016 to celebrate the 20th anniversary of The Tragically Hip's highly acclaimed 5th album – Trouble at the Henhouse. This Chardonnay is a nice follow-up to the critically-acclaimed Fully Completely Grand Reserve Red that sold out very quickly! The band members Gord Downie, Paul Langlois, Rob Baker, Gord Sinclair and Johnny Fay worked directly with Stoney Ridge head winemaker Jeff Hundertmark to create this rich and elegant Chardonnay.

The grapes for this wine come from the famed Wiens Farm in Niagara-on-the-Lake and underwent and cool dry fermentation using natural indigenous yeasts. The wine was left on its lees for an additional 6 months, then allowed to undergo malo-lactic fermentation. It was oak aged a further 10 months prior to bottling.

This rich, buttery Chardonnay can be picked up at Stoney Ridge's wine boutique in Vineland, or can be purchased on-line via

The Tragically Hip Ahead By A Century Chardonnay 2014 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (88 pts)

Tasting Note:

THE TRAGICALLY HIP AHEAD BY A CENTURY CHARDONNAY 2014 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#483875) (XD) - $19.95
Screw cap. Binned apple, buttery aromas with hints of vanilla and oak of medium intensity. The palate is medium-bodied and creamy with more apple, butter, vanilla notes, joined by pineapple and butterscotch flavours. Oak is well-integrated, acids are juicy. Good length on the finish. Ideal for rich seafood such as crab and lobster. I'll be enjoying this with crab curry. Score: 88 pts

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  • Date publishedFriday, July 8, 2016

Food Truck Fest 2016 at Mike Weir Winery

Mike Weir Winery Food Truck Fest
On , Mike Weir Winery will be hosting it's 3rd Annual Food Truck Fest. This event provides an excellent opportunity to celebrate summer in the vineyards at Mike Weir Winery, where the Food Truck Fest is held annually in their Merlot Block. Some of the winery's best wines will be poured by the glass, to go along with Live Music all day, and the best local eats you can get around town! As a bonus, all gourmet eats will be prepared using ingredients sourced from local farmers within the Lincoln area, ensuring freshness across the board.

The entire venue is licensed and guests may walk through our vineyards, the Bruce Trail, and enjoy panoramic views from the property. The retail and hospitality building will be in full function as well, offering wines by the glass and tastings all day to the general public and Food Truck Fest guests.

To keep the event fun and festive, the Groovy Food Band will be performing ALL DAY, rocking grooves from all decades and easy rock tunes! Furthermore, you can tune in to 105.7 FM as they will be playing live-to-air easy rock from the event.

The Vendors:

  • Avella’s Wood Fired Pizza – Handmade, Fresh to order
  • The Yellow Pear – Farm-to-Table cuisine, offering Gluten Free and Vegan Options*
  • The Wandering Gourmet – Authentic Californian Fresh Taco Cart, Farm-to-table
  • 494 Kitchen – International comfort food with a modern twist*
  • The Panwich Company – Anything in a panini, and I mean anything!
  • Eh Jose – Authentic Mexican
  • Gourmet Guyz – Fresh and Seasonal Fare
  • The Go-Go Food Co. (Cucina a-go-go) – Authentic Italian Street style
  • Scratch Bakery – Niagara's first Pie-Hole Approved bakery!
  • Hometown Ice Cream Truck – Creative Flavours you wouldn’t have thought, but unbelievable! (all local ingredients)

  • The Cigar Experience – Selling top quality stogies from internationally around the world. Makes a GREAT gift!

Location and Time:

Mike Weir Winery
4041 Locust Lane, Beamsville (Lincoln), Ontario L0R 1B0
Saturday, July 16, 2016 from 12 p.m. to 8 p.m.


Entry fee is $5.00 per person (payable online or on-site), and includes one souvenir Govino glass, don’t lose it!

Vendors will have different ranges of pricing according to their menu by items. (usually between $5.00-$20.00 per plate - and worth EVERY penny)

Wine by the glass will be offered through a ticket system. Wine Tickets will be sold for $5.00 and then redeemed at the wine booth for a 5 oz. glass of wine. Wine varieties will be confirmed closer to the date, but you can bet there will be fresh, summery wines such as a rosé, Riesling, and fun reds. Here are a couple of wines that should be available at the event.

MIKE WEIR CRASH ROSÉ 2011 - VQA Beamsville Bench, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada - $11.95
100% Cabernet Franc. Light, honeyed red fruit aromas from the cork. Medium-intensity nose has cooked strawberry and red cherry aromas with hints of flowers. The palate is medium+ bodied with aromas more cooked strawberry and cherry coming through on the palate, followed by herbally sage notes that add complexity and continue through to the medium-length finish. Just a touch of honey mid-palate, but essentially dry overall with juicy acids. A food wine that will go great with many of the offerings at the Food Truck Fest. Available at winery only. Score: 86 pts

Mike Weir Crash Rosé 2011 - VQA Beamsville Bench, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (86 pts)

MIKE WEIR PINOT NOIR 2009 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#000075) (D)- $16.95
Ripe red berry, cherry aromas from the cork. Showing just a touch of brown on the rim. Lovely blend of spices followed by maturing red fruits, cherry and earth aromas. It's light-to-medium bodied with just a touch of tannic grip. Acids are fresh. Cherry-cranberry flavours with earthy and beetroot tones on the palate. Very good length on the finish. Enjoy by 2017. A wine that is widely available at the LCBO, but may not be the 2009 vintage. The 2009 is available at the winery. Score: 88 pts
Mike Weir Pinot Noir 2009 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (88 pts)

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  • Date publishedWednesday, July 6, 2016

Taste of Greece - Top Greek Wines, May 2016

On , I was very pleased to attend the Taste of Greece grand wine tasting held at the Royal Ontario Museum, where nearly 50 of Greece's most popular wineries poured well over 200 wines. I had the pleasure of tasting many delicious wines at this tasting, and many offered very good QPR (Quality-to-Price Ratio).

I attended the media session just after lunch, and the place was quite busy. However, since I was still working my around the room, I ended up staying for the consumer portion of the tasting that began at 2 p.m. As people filed in, the atmosphere in the room went up a few notches with a live band performing traditional Greek music. The light appetizer service prepared by Daniel et Daniel also livened the place up, in addition to the many delightful Greek wines.

Braised Lamb Shank with Roasted Tomato, Spinach, and Feta OrzoCrab Claw with Jumbo Shrimp

Overall, I was quite impressed with the Greek wines (not unexpected, I've been a fan for many years), but was surprised by the sheer number of quality wines produced by the Greeks, one of the oldest wine regions in the world. It's too bad we don't see more Greek wines coming through the LCBO (including VINTAGES) as there are a lot of good value wines that I believe LCBO customers would enjoy.

The names of many of the local Greek grape varietals may be difficult to pronounce, but it's what's inside the bottle that counts. My favourites Greek varietals are still Xinomavro [Ksee-no'-ma-vro], Assyrtiko [A-seer'-tee-ko], and Agioritiko [Ah-yor-yee'-ti-ko]. However, one grape I discovered at this tasting is a very floral, aromatic white wine grape called Savatiano [Sa-va-tya-no'].

A step in the right direction is headed by the LCBO with their "Products of the World" specialty boutique program within existing LCBO locations where customers can find many wines and spirits from a specific region. In May 2015, "Destination Greece" was the first of such boutiques to launch and is located at 200 Danforth Avenue. At this location, you can find nearly 100 Greek wines and spirits, more than anywhere else in Ontario. Quite a few of the wines tasted at Taste of Greece are available at the LCBO location on Danforth.

Destination Greece at LCBODestination Greece at LCBO

Here are some of my favourites from the Greek tasting, many which of you should be able to find at the LCBO outlet on Danforth. Alternatively, you can also contact the Agent for if you're interested in purchasing a case or more.

Ahead of the big event on Sunday, I was invited to a private tasting of Greek wines at the Vintage Conservatory on night and had the pleasure of meeting some of the men (and women) behind some very fine Greek wines. Among those in attendance was Dr. Yannis Voyiatzis, Oenologist, Head of Oenology and Viticulture Department and the winemaker behind the Boutari 1879 Legacy wine. In talking about this wine, Dr. Voyiatzis mentioned that the estate has wines from the 60's and 70's vintage and are still drinking well.

Photo Credit: Zis Parras, Kolonaki Group

Sunday Tasting Notes:

PAPAGIANNAKOS SAVATIANO OLD VINES 2015 - PGI Markopoulo, Greece (XD) - $15.60
From 60-year-old vines of the indigenous varietal Savatiano, this has explosive aromas in the glass that are very floral in nature, with hints of pear, anise, lees, and ripe fruits. It's light-to-mid weighted with citrus and floral flavours with a streak of mineral. It's very fresh and finishes off with a long, citrusy note. Contact Majestic Wine Cellars for availability. Score: 90 pts

Papagiannakos Savatiano Old Vines 2015 - PGI Markopoulo, Greece (90 pts)Alpha Estate Red 2012 - PGI Florina, Greece (91 pts)

ALPHA ESTATE RED 2012 - PGI Florina, Greece (#092361) (XD) - $32
This Syrah/Xinomavro/Merlot blend (60/20/20), some of which is old vines has a lovely nose of purple fruits, flowers, sweet spices and black pepper. The medium-firm tannins are nicely integrated on the full bodied palate. Nice aroma replays on the flavour profile. It has very good acidity and finishes long. Contact Eurovintage Wines & Spirits for availability. Score: 91 pts

DOMAINE GLINAVOS DRYADES 2007 - PGI Hepirus, Greece (XD) - $22
A blend of 45% Cabernet Sauvignon and 55% Vlachiko/Bekari from 30-year-old vines that has a medium-high intensity nose consisting of floral, blackberry and hints of graphite and iron. Refined with integrated tannins and complex aroma replays, it also has juicy acids and a long, smooth finish. Contact IntraVino for availability. Score: 90 pts

Domaine Glinavos Dryades 2007 - PGI Hepirus, Greece (90 pts)Papaioannou Microclima 2005 - PDO Nemea, Greece (91 pts)

PAPAIOANNOU MICROCLIMA 2005 - PDO Nemea, Greece (XD) - $75
Made with Agiorgitiko, this has a lovely mature nose of flowers, sweet spices and clove. The medium-full bodied offers pleasing aroma replays, with refined tannins and balanced acidity. Excellent length on the finish. Still has quite a few years of life remaining. Contact Kolonaki Group for availability. Score: 91 pts

ARGYROS SANTORINI ASSYRTIKO 2015 - PDO Santorini, Greece (#387365) (XD) - $22.95 From 60-120 year old vines, this is a mineral-driven wine with lime and stone aromas. The medium+ bodied palate offers more mineral and lime flavours joined by some saline notes. Tightly wound with vibrant acids and chalky texture. Long finishing. Let this one sit for a couple of years and enjoy until 2026. Available in VINTAGES. Score: 90 pts

Argyros Santorini Assyrtiko 2015 - PDO Santorini, Greece (90 pts)Argyros Vinsanto 4 Years 2008 - PDO Santorini, Greece (92 pts)

ARGYROS VINSANTO 4 YEARS 2008 - PDO Santorini, Greece (#189778) (S) (500 mL) - $44.95
Matured in barrel for 4 years. Gorgeous, highly aromatic and sweet nose of caramel, peach and honey notes that follow through on the full-bodied, chalky textured palate. It has bright acids to keep things fresh and keep the very sweet wine from being cloying. Well-balanced and finishing long. Blend of Assyrtiko, Aidani and Athiri. Available at Destination Greece LCBO location. Score: 92 pts

Friday Tasting Notes:

BOUTARI 1879 LEGACY 2007 - PDO Naoussa, Greece (#675081) (XD) - $50
This single vineyard wine is 100% Xinomavro and has medium-to-high intensity aromas that are elegant and refined with pleasing notes of cherry, floral, brambly and some barnyard. Very nice aroma replays on the palate with some sweet spice notes emerging with air. It is a full-bodied, powerful wine with a rich structure and dense tannins that can age easily 10-15 years. Excellent length on the finish. Drink or hold. Available via Score: 91 pts

Boutari 1879 Legacy 2007 - PDO Naoussa, Greece (91 pts)Cavino Domain Mega Spileo Grand Cave Red 2009 - PGI Achaia, Peloponnese, Greece (90 pts)

CAVINO DOMAIN MEGA SPILEO GRAND CAVE RED 2009 - PGI Achaia, Peloponnese, Greece (XD) - $30
Lovely, complex nose of dried herbs, flowers, black cherry, blackberry and oak vanilla that is medium-to-high intensity. Aroma replays echo on the medium bodied palate. It is well-balanced with very good acidity and the finish length is excellent. With medium-to-firm tannins, this can be enjoyed now or over the next 5-6 years. Blend of 60% Mavrodafne and 40% Mavro Kalavritino. Slated to be in VINTAGES later this year. Score: 90 pts

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  • Date publishedMonday, July 4, 2016

VINTAGES Release July 9: Summer Pantry + Cool-Climate Chardonnay

LCBO Wine Picks: July 9, 2016 VINTAGES Release
The LCBO VINTAGES Release on will be on shelves this coming and features smart wines for the summer pantry as its main theme. The mini-theme focuses cool-climate Chardonnay, to coincide with the 6th annual International Cool-Climate Chardonnay Celebration (i4c) that will take place July 22-24 in Niagara.

From the summer pantry focus that highlights great-value wines, only 3 of the 24 wines featured are included among my wine picks. There is a nice Cremant d'Alsace that is made using Pinot Blanc, Riesling, and Pinot Gris and will show just a kiss of sweetness. The Bila-Haut is a blend of Syrah, Grenache and Carignan matured in vats. The last of the summer pantry wines is a Sauvignon Blanc from Loire.

I've always enjoyed my Chardonnay, and the delectable selection of cool-climate Chards in this release is quite good with 4 of 9 wines featured included among my wine recommendations. Local cool-climate Chardonnays include barrel-fermented styles from Henry of Pelham, Flat Rock Cellars and Château des Charmes. Also barrel-fermented is the Chardonnay from Chile. Lastly, as part of the Flagship Store Exclusive (FSE) selection is the barrel-fermented Chardonnay from Niagara's Pearl Morissette which uses only indigenous yeast during fermentation.

In red wines from the rest of the release, the Piazzano Blend 2 is a blend of 34% Colorino, 33% Sangiovese and 33% Malvasia Nero, while the Crianza is 85% Tempranillo and 15% Garnacha tinta/Mazuelo. Single varietal wines include the old vines Carignan, the Aglianico, and the Barbaresco (100% Nebbiolo). The Gran Selezione Chianti Classico and the Brunello are both 100% Sangiovese, while the Cigliano Chianti Classico includes 5% Colorino in addition to Sangiovese. From Tablas Creek in California is a red blend more reminiscent of Rhône, consisting of 40% Mourvedre, 30% Syrah, 21% Grenache and 9% Counoise.

Piazzano Blend 2 2013 - IGT Toscana, Italy (89 pts)

In white wines, the blend from South Africa consists of Sauvignon Blanc, Chenin Blanc and Semillon. Single varietal wines include the Müller-Thurgau, the Soave (100% Garganega), and the off-dry Riesling.

The rosé wine from Tavel is made with Cinsault, Grenache, and Mourvèdre, while Brangelina's Miraval Rosé is a blend of Cinsault, Grenache, Syrah, and Rolle.

Enjoy my wine picks from this release.

Red Wine:

  • CUNE RIOJA CRIANZA 2012 - DOCa Rioja, Spain (#039925) (XD) - $16.95
  • TESSELLAE VIEILLES VIGNES CARIGNAN 2014 - IGP Côtes Catalanes, Southwest, France (#343509) (D) - $17.95
  • D’ANGELO AGLIANICO DEL VULTURE 2012 - DOC, Basilicata, Italy (#971689) (XD) - $18.95
  • VILLA DEL CIGLIANO CHIANTI CLASSICO 2013 - DOCG, Tuscany (#189803) (XD) - $19.95
  • PIAZZANO BLEND 2 2013 - IGT Toscana, Italy (#455493) (XD) - $24.95  reviewed here
  • CASTELLO DI GABBIANO GRAN SELEZIONE BELLEZZA CHIANTI CLASSICO 2012 - DOCG, Tuscany, Italy (#652438) (XD) - $39.95  reviewed here
  • NADA GIUSEPPE CASOT BARBARESCO 2012 - DOCG, Piedmont, Italy (#456988) (XD) - $41.95
  • LA GERLA BRUNELLO DI MONTALCINO 2010 - DOCG, Tuscany, Italy (#642561) (XD) - $63.95
  • TABLAS CREEK ESPRIT DE TABLAS 2012 - Paso Robles, California, USA (#735654) (XD) - $65.95  FSE

White Wine:

  • DOMAINE DE LA CHAISE TOURAINE SAUVIGNON 2014 - AC, Loire, France (#452540) (XD) - $14.95
  • TABALI RESERVA ESPECIAL CHARDONNAY 2013 - Limarí Valley, Chile (#663005) (XD) - $18.95
  • CHÂTEAU DES CHARMES ST. DAVID’S BENCH VINEYARD CHARDONNAY 2012 - VQA St. David’s Bench, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#430991) (XD) - $19.95
  • WATERKLOOF CIRCLE OF LIFE 2012 - WO Stellenbosch, South Africa (#284588) (XD) - $19.95
  • ABBAZIA DI NOVACELLA MÜLLER-THURGAU 2014 - DOC Valle Isarco Alto Adige, Italy (#452557) (XD) - $19.95
  • FLAT ROCK THE RUSTY SHED CHARDONNAY 2013 - VQA Twenty Mile Bench, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#001552) (XD) - $24.95
  • CHARLES BAKER IVAN VINEYARD RIESLING 2015 - VQA Twenty Mile Bench, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#395921) (D) - $27.20
  • HENRY OF PELHAM SPECK FAMILY RESERVE CHARDONNAY 2013 - VQA Short Hills Bench, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#616466) (XD) - $29.95
  • PIEROPAN LA ROCCA SOAVE CLASSICO 2013 - DOC, Veneto, Italy (#092437) (XD) - $37.95
  • PEARL MORISSETTE CUVÉE DIX-NEUVIÈME CHARDONNAY 2013 - VQA Twenty Mile Bench, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#303602) (XD) - $38.20  FSE

Rosé Wine:

  • FAMILLE PERRIN TAVEL 2015 - AC, Rhône, France (#680801) (XD) - $19.95
  • MIRAVAL ROSÉ 2015 - AP Côtes de Provence, France (#042584) (XD) - $22.95

Sparking Wine:

  • DOMAINE ALLIMANT-LAUGNER BRUT CRÉMANT D’ALSACE - Méthode Traditionnelle, AC Alsace, France (#030593) (D) - $19.95

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  • Date publishedFriday, July 1, 2016

EastDell Pinot Grigio 2015 and Black Cab 2014 - Ontario Wines for Canada Day Long Weekend

Here are a pair of fun summer wines suitable for the patio or relaxing at the cottage. Both the EastDell Pinot Grigio and the Black Cab have been on shelves at the LCBO for many years, but the latest vintage for each wine arrives with a brand new look. I must say, the new look is sharp, modern, and maybe even a little classy. These local wines are made in an easy drinking, crowd-pleasing style, and ideal for your Canada Day long weekend celebrations.

EastDell Black Cab 2014 and EastDell Pinot Grigio 2015

Tasting Notes:

EASTDELL PINOT GRIGIO 2015 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#065367) (D) - $13.95
Screw cap. Aromatic nose offers ripe pear, green apple, and floral with hints of herbally notes. The palate is fleshy with delicate acids. Slightly sweet with stone fruit, white peach, melon, and green apple flavours, but finishes dry with some stony minerality. Good length. Made in a crowd-pleasing style. Score: 85 pts

EastDell Pinot Grigio 2015 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (85 pts)

EASTDELL BLACK CAB 2014 - VQA Ontario, Canada (#609875) (D) - $13.95
Screw cap. Blend of 40% Baco Noir, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon and 30% Cabernet Franc. Meaty, smoky, vanilla aromas mingle with blackberry and black cherry on the nose of medium+ intensity. The medium-bodied palate has just a kiss of sweetness, showing ripe blackberry, black cherry, cranberry flavours, with a touch of chocolate. It has balanced acids smooth tannins, and good length on the finish. This wine comes in sizes ranging from 200 mL all the way up to Double Magnum (3000 mL), all of which are available at the LCBO. Score: 87 pts

EastDell Black Cab 2014 - VQA Ontario, Canada (87 pts)

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