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  • Date publishedTuesday, January 31, 2017

Southbrook Connect Organic White 2014 (Ontario) - Wine Review (Bottle 2)

I first tried organic white wine from Southbrook Vineyards just over a year ago. And tonight, I am opening the second bottle with an expectation that it has matured a little. This wine is bottled under Stelvin screw cap, so I am expecting only subtle changes, if any at all.

If you're interested in purchasing this wine, there may be some 2014s left at the LCBO, but I suspect they have shifted to the next vintage as the 2015 is now available for purchase on the Southbrook Vineyards website. You should also know that the 2014 was a blend of 58% Vidal, 21% Chardonnay, 12% Riesling, and 9% Sauvignon Blanc, while the 2015 is a blend of 56% Vidal, 31% Riesling, 13% Sauvignon Blanc - bigger Riesling component and no Chardonnay.

Southbrook Connect Organic White 2014 (86 pts)

Tasting Note:

SOUTHBROOK CONNECT ORGANIC WHITE 2014 - VQA Ontario, Canada (#249078) (D) - $15.95
Waxy and slightly oxidative, along with subtle aromas of melon, citrus and white peach of medium-intensity. The palate is soft, round and full-ish with sour edged flavours of honey and ripe citrus. Delicate acids. There's a hint of sweetness, but finishes with bitter notes of average length. Drink now. Score: 86 pts

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  • Date publishedMonday, January 30, 2017

VINTAGES Release February 4: Back Roads of Europe + South Africa + Valentine's

LCBO Wine Picks from February 4, 2017 VINTAGES Release
The upcoming LCBO VINTAGES Release on focuses on wines from Europe's Back Roads in its main theme, while the mini-themes highlight wines from South Africa and wines for celebrations. All of these wines will be on shelves across Ontario this coming .

From the European Back Roads theme - which is meant to showcase lesser-known wines from Portugal, Spain, France and Italy - 4 of the 16 wines are included among my wine picks. From Burgundy, there is a Chardonnay from the tiny village of Chitry-le-Fort. Also from France, from the small appellation of Bourgueil in Loire, there is a nice Cabernet Franc. The other 2 wines are both from Italy, with the Monferrato a blend of 60% Barbera and 40% Syrah, and the white wine from Campania is 100% Greco.

The mini-theme on fine wines from South Africa features 7 wines, 2 of which are included in my wine recommendations. The first wine is an organic and biodynamic white wine made with the help of ducks, and is a blend consisting primarily of South Africa's signature white grape - Chenin Blanc. The other wine from South Africa is the Rustenberg - a red wine blend made with 50% Shiraz, 30% Merlot and 20% Cabernet Sauvignon.

In red wines from the rest of the release, the Chateau Saint-Roch is a blend of nearly equal parts Grenache, Syrah and Carignan and saw no oak. From Greece, the Domain Mega Spileo Red is a lovely red blend (60% Mavrodaphne and 40% Mavro Kalavritino) from 2 indigenous Greek varietals. The Beaujolais is 100% Gamay, while the Châteauneuf-du-Pape is a blend of 68% Grenache, 15% Mourvedre, 13% Syrah, and 4% Cinsault. Both Cali Cabs are, in fact, blends, with the Mt. Brave consisting of 82% Cabernet Sauvignon, 7% Merlot, 6.5% Malbec, 4.5% Cabernet Franc, while the Mount Veeder Cab consists of 81% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Merlot, 4% Malbec, 3% Petit Verdot, 1% Cabernet Franc, and 1% Syrah. And last but not least, the Masi Amarone is a traditional blend of Corvina, Rondinella, Oseleta, and Molinara grape varietals.

Domain Mega Spileo Red 2010 (90 pts)Masi Costasera Riserva Amarone della Valpolicella Classico 2011 (91 pts)

In white wines, the Domaine FL is made with Chenin Blanc. For sweet wine lovers, you'll want to pick up the Riesling Spätlese from Germany.

Enjoy my wine picks from this release. Cheers!

Red Wine:

  • CHATEAU SAINT-ROCH VIEILLES VIGNES SYRAH/GRENACHE 2014 - AP Côtes du Roussillon, France (#195107) (D) - $15.95
  • DOMAINE LES PINS CUVÉE LES ROCHETTES BOURGUEIL 2014 - AC, Loire, France (#478263) (XD) - $17.95
  • PRUNOTTO MOMPERTONE MONFERRATO ROSSO 2014 - DOC, Piedmont, Italy (#388587) (XD) - $18.95
  • RUSTENBERG RM NICHOLSON 2014 - WO Stellenbosch, South Africa (#278390) (XD) - $19.95
  • TECTONIA CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2013 - Maipo Valley, Chile (#480822) (XD) - $19.95
  • CHÂTEAU DU CHATELARD CUVÉE LES VIEUX GRANITS FLEURIE 2013 - AP, Beaujolais, France (#207886) (XD) - $22.95
  • DOMAIN MEGA SPILEO RED 2010 - Peloponnese, Greece (#466110) (XD) - $29.95  reviewed here
  • MOUNT VEEDER WINERY CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2013 - Napa Valley, California, USA (#708842) (XD) - $49.95
  • ANDREA OBERTO BAROLO 2012 - DOCG, Piedmont, Italy (#477174) (XD) - $54.95  FSE
  • CLOS DES BRUSQUIÈRES CHÂTEAUNEUF-DU-PAPE 2013 - AC, Rhône, France (#416289) (D) - $55.95
  • MASI COSTASERA RISERVA AMARONE DELLA VALPOLICELLA CLASSICO 2011 - DOC, Veneto, Italy (#324137) (D) - $69.95  reviewed here
  • MT. BRAVE CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2013 - Mount Veeder, Napa Valley, California (#329433) (D) - $110.95  FSE

White Wine:

  • PONTE PELLEGRINO GRECO DI TUFO 2015 - IGT Campania, Italy (#477760) (XD) - $13.95
  • MATETIC CORRALILLO SAUVIGNON BLANC 2015 - San Antonio Valley, Chile (#347740) (XD) - $15.95
  • AVONDALE JONTY’S DUCKS PEKIN WHITE 2015 - WO Paarl, South Africa (#439554) (D) - $15.95
  • SIMONNET-FEBVRE BOURGOGNE CHITRY 2014 - AC, Burgundy, France (#479667) (XD) - $19.95
  • LA CHABLISIENNE GRANDE CUVÉE CHABLIS 1ER CRU 2014 - AC, Burgundy, France (#685222) (XD) - $29.95
  • DOMAINE FL SAVENNIÈRES-CHENIN 2012 - AC, Loire, France (#470971) (XD) - $33.95  FSE
  • MAXIMIN GRÜNHÄUSER ABTSBERG RIESLING SPÄTLESE 2014 - Pradikätswein, Mosel, Germany (#481374) (S) - $39.95

Sparkling Wine:



  • WARRE’S QUINTA DA CAVADINHA VINTAGE PORT 2001 - Bottled 2003, DOC, Portugal (#189605) (S) - $49.95

Dessert Wine:

  • DISZNÓKÖ LATE HARVEST TOKAJI FURMINT 2012 - Hungary (#185074) (S) (500 mL) - $23.95

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  • Date publishedWednesday, January 25, 2017

Château La Tour de l’Évêque Rosé 2015 (France) - Wine Review

wine is a rosé wine that was purchased last year from the LCBO VINTAGES Release on - a release that featured an assortment of rosés for Springtime enjoyment. I didn't intend on holding this until Winter, but having said that, I've always enjoyed a nice dry rosé during the cold months. Do you enjoy rosé wines in Winter? Leave a comment below.

Furthermore, this wine actually re-appeared in VINTAGES on and is currently widely available through the province.

Château La Tour de l’Évêque Rosé 2015 (89 pts)

Tasting Note:

CHÂTEAU LA TOUR DE L’ÉVÊQUE ROSÉ 2015 - Harvested by hand, AC Côtes de Provence, France (#319392) (XD) - $19.95
A blend of 8 varietals that include Cinsault (40%), Grenache (35%), and Syrah (12%). Light aromas of red fruits with hints of floral and honey from the cork. Medium+ aromatics are ripe in style with red fruits (cherry, strawberry) and herbs along with hints of floral, grapefruit and honey. Flavours are also ripe with more red fruit, herbs, and honeyed notes on a medium+ bodied palate that is balanced by bright acidity. Finishes dry with very good length. A fine dry rosé with substance for dining. Will be enjoyed with Dungeness crab curry. Score: 89 pts

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  • Date publishedSunday, January 22, 2017

Southbrook Organic Triomphe Chardonnay 2015 (Niagara) - Wine Review

wine was bottled last , but only released by the winery for home delivery across Canada a few weeks ago.

This small batch organic Chardonnay has been produced by Southbrook Vineyards for many years now. I've tasted the previous 3 vintages (2014, 2013 and 2012), which were all delicious, and I expect the 2015 to also be delicious, while continuing to be suitable for vegans and vegetarians.

Ann Sperling is director of winemaking and viticulture at Southbrook, and with three decades of experience in winegrowing and winemaking, she is considered a leading force in the Canadian movement towards organic and biodynamic winemaking.

The 2015 vintage is currently only available at the winery, or online through their website. Previous vintages of this wine have showed up on LCBO VINTAGES shelves. However, since only 800 cases were produced, it may or may not show up this time around.

Southbrook Organic Triomphe Chardonnay 2015 (88 pts)

Tasting Note:

SOUTHBROOK ORGANIC TRIOMPHE CHARDONNAY 2015 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#172338) (XD) - $22.95
Stelvin screw cap. Quite a change in style compared to the last vintage, this has subtle aromas of orchard fruits, earth and yeast. The palate is medium+ bodied with more orchard fruit flavours like apple and pear, with underlying earthy flavours, and ending with slightly honeyed notes. Some interesting salty notes mid-palate. Acids are prickly and juicy, providing freshness. Finish is earthy and dry, with very good length. I would put this away for another year to let it develop further. Serve with only a light chill. Score: 88 pts

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  • Date publishedTuesday, January 17, 2017

Southbrook Organic Triomphe Pinot Noir 2015 (Niagara) - Wine Review

wine is something we haven't seen in many, many years - a Triomphe Pinot Noir from Southbrook Vineyards.

Since moving to Niagara and starting their own organic production, only organically grown grapes are chosen for Southbrook's Triomphe line of wines. And since they didn't plant any Pinot Noir (or Riesling) at their site in Four Mile Creek (in Niagara-on-the-Lake), they did not produce a Pinot Noir for their Triomphe line - until now. The grapes for this wine are sourced from Heather Laundry's certified organic vineyard at their Lincoln Lakeshore site.

For this vintage, the grapes were hand-harvested and naturally fermented with 40% whole clusters. It was matured for 9 months in mostly neutral French oak.

This organic wine is only available from the winery and can be ordered for home delivery across the country. Only 250 cases produced, so visit the Southbrook Vineyards website to place your order today!

Southbrook Organic Triomphe Pinot Noir 2015 (89 pts)

Tasting Note:

SOUTHBROOK ORGANIC TRIOMPHE PINOT NOIR 2015 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $29.95
Subtle aromas of strawberry, cherry and subtle spice from the cork. Crafted by the talented Ann Sperling with grapes sourced from the Laundry Vineyard, this organic red wine has medium+ intensity aromatics offering cherry, strawberry, raspberry, sweet herbs and a whiff of earthiness in the glass. Some dried floral aromas emerge with air. It's light-bodied but gains texture in the mouth. Smooth, refined tannins on the palate with earthy, red currant strawberry, cherry and mushroom flavours. Acids are fresh and balanced. Some milk chocolate notes on the long finish. Fairly complex overall and should evolve nicely over the next 3-4 years. Score: 89 pts

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  • Date publishedMonday, January 16, 2017

VINTAGES Release January 21: Argentina + Portugal

LCBO Wine Picks from January 21, 2017 VINTAGES Release
The upcoming VINTAGES Release on brings with it the return of duo-thematic releases. However, the wines in the second theme (Portugal) aren't very interesting, so we'll stick with the main theme that is Argentina. As per the usual, wines will be on LCBO VINTAGES shelves on - or a few days earlier depending on the store.

Wines from 6 top producers in Argentina is the main theme and each producer got 2 wines listed, for a total of 12 wines. It's a solid selection, with 7 of the 12 wines included among my top wine picks. In white wines, there is a nice Chardonnay from Mendoza, while the excellent Torrontés is from the northern Argentina wine region of Salta. At the top-end in red wines is a Cabernet Sauvignon from the iconic Catena Zapata wine family. Lastly, there are four Malbec wines ranging in price from $19 to $30, and from vintages 2013 to a fairly young 2015. Argentina is synonymous with Malbec, and the grapes for the wines I've chosen are grown in various parts of the country, from Salta in the north, to Mendoza in central Argentina, and Patagonia to the south. Buy all of them and taste the differences side-by-side!

Lavau Vacqueyras 2014 (90 pts)

From the rest of the release, in red wines from Rhône, the Vacqueyras is a blend of 50% Grenache, 40% Syrah and 10% Mourvèdre, while the Saint-Joseph is an old vines Syrah. Also from Rhône, the Châteauneuf-du-Pape is a blend of 80% Grenache, 10% Syrah, 5% Mourvèdre, 3% Cinsault and 2% Counoise. The Gamay Noir "Droit" is made from a clone of Gamay that presented itself at the vineyards of Château des Charmes - it's a much bigger and more complex wine than your typical Gamay and definitely worth checking out. Lastly, the 2010 Rioja comes from an excellent vintage and is blend with 85% Tempranillo, 10% Graciano and 5% Mazuelo (Carignan).

In white wines, the Gavi is made with Cortese, while the Sancerre is a Sauvignon Blanc. For sweet wine lovers, the Gewürztraminer is your best bet. The rest of the wines are all oaked Chardonnay.

Jean-Max Roger Cuvée C.M. Sancerre Blanc 2014 (90+ pts)The Tragically Hip Ahead By A Century Chardonnay 2014 (88 pts)

There are a pair of aged Champagnes worth your attention. The 1997 Champagne is a 50/50 blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir for consumption now, while the 2006 Pol Roger is a blend of 60% Pinot Noir and 40% Chardonnay that can be aged further.

Enjoy my wine recommendations from this release! Salud!

Red Wine:

  • ESPELT VITICULTORS OLD VINES GARNACHA 2015 - DO Empordà, Spain (#422469) (D) - $15.95
  • CHÂTEAU DES CHARMES ST. DAVID’S BENCH VINEYARD GAMAY NOIR DROIT 2015 - VQA St. David’s Bench, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada (#346742) (XD) - $17.95
  • FABRE MONTMAYOU BARREL SELECTION MALBEC 2014 - Patagonia, Argentina (#477364) (XD) - $18.95
  • VIÑA COBOS FELINO MALBEC 2015 - Mendoza, Argentina (#118067) (XD) - $19.95
  • ZUCCARDI Q MALBEC 2013 - Uco Valley, Mendoza, Argentina (#723478) (D) - $19.95
  • RUSTENBERG MERLOT 2014 - WO Simonsberg-Stellenbosch, South Africa (#404194) (D) - $19.95
  • LAVAU VACQUEYRAS 2014 - AC, Rhône, France (#104927) (D) - $25.95  reviewed here
  • PLANETA NOTO NERO D’AVOLA 2012 - DOC, Sicily, Italy (#477190) (XD) - $26.95
  • COLOMÉ ESTATE MALBEC 2013 - Calchaquí Valley, Salta, Argentina (#477315) (XD) - $29.95
  • J. L. CHAVE SÉLECTION OFFERUS SAINT-JOSEPH 2013 - AC, Rhône, France (#359109) (XD) - $36.95  FSE
  • CVNE IMPERIAL RESERVA 2010 - DOCa Rioja, Spain (#424390) (D) - $38.95
  • DOMAINE DURIEU CHÂTEAUNEUF-DU-PAPE 2014 - AC, Rhône, France (#320168) (XD) - $41.95
  • CATENA ALTA CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2013 - Mendoza, Argentina (#959965) (XD) - $47.95

White Wine:

  • COLOMÉ TORRONTÉS 2015 - Calchaquí Valley, Salta, Argentina (#357913) (XD) - $15.95
  • MICHELE CHIARLO LE MARNE GAVI 2015 - DOCG, Piedmont, Italy (#228528) (XD) - $16.95  reviewed here
  • VINELAND ESTATES GEWÜRZTRAMINER 2015 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#434779) (M) - $17.95
  • THE TRAGICALLY HIP AHEAD BY A CENTURY CHARDONNAY 2014 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#483875) (XD) - $19.95  reviewed here
  • VIÑA COBOS FELINO CHARDONNAY 2015 - Mendoza, Argentina (#119099) (XD) - $19.95
  • JEAN-MAX ROGER CUVÉE C.M. SANCERRE BLANC 2014 - AC, Loire, France (#196667) (XD) - $27.95  reviewed here
  • MARCHAND-TAWSE BOURGOGNE CHARDONNAY 2014 - AC, Burgundy, France (#414557) (XD) - $28.95
  • STERLING VINEYARDS OAK KNOLL CHARDONNAY 2014 - Napa Valley, California, USA (#478891) (XD) - $29.95

Sparkling Wine:

  • SENSATION CHAMPAGNE 1997 - Disgorged in 2012, AC, France (#403006) (XD) - $75.95  FSE
  • POL ROGER VINTAGE BRUT CHAMPAGNE 2006 - AC, France (#411793) (D) - $95.95

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  • Date publishedSaturday, January 14, 2017

Jean-Max Roger Cuvée C.M. Sancerre Blanc 2014 (France) - Wine Review

wine is a lovely white wine made with Sauvignon Blanc that will be released into LCBO VINTAGES on .

It is produced by Jean-Max Roger and his family that come from a long line of winegrowers dating back to at least the 17th century. He took over the four hectares of vines left to him by his parents in the early 1970s and expanded the estate to its current size of 26 ha in the Sancerre AOC and 6 ha of vines in the Menetou-Salon AOC.

This "C.M." cuvee is named after the soil types where the grapes for this Sauvignon Blanc wine were grown: "Caillottes" and "Kimmeridgian Marls". Each soil type imparts different characteristics - Caillottes gives the wine its floral and fruity notes, along with lightness and freshness, while the Kimmeridgian Marls ("terres blanches") provides structure, richness and power.

Jean-Max Roger Cuvée C.M. Sancerre Blanc 2014 (90+ pts)

Tasting Note:

JEAN-MAX ROGER CUVÉE C.M. SANCERRE BLANC 2014 - AC, Loire, France (#196667) (XD) - $27.95
Inviting lemon flower, honey and citrus aromas from the cork. In the glass, this has highly aromatic and complex aromas of citrusy fruit - lemon/lime mingling with asparagus, herbal, nettle qualities, a tinge of honey, all surrounded by mineral elements. The palate is medium-bodied and fleshy with grapefruit, lemon citrus, herbal, and nettle flavours. Nicely balanced acids are juicy. Finishing long. Well-composed and elegant overall. Very enjoyable. Score: 90+ pts

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  • Date publishedTuesday, January 10, 2017

Durbanville Hills Atlantic View Sauvignon Blanc 2016 (South Africa) - Wine Review

On this wintry day filled with snow, wine is this bright white wine from the warmer climes of South Africa.

This wine is produced by Durbanville Hills, a winery located in Durbanville, just 20 minutes outside Cape Town. The winery has a spectacular view overlooking Table Mountain and the Atlantic Ocean, whose cool crisp air and rolling mists embrace the vineyards. The Durbanville area is the second oldest winegrowing region in South Africa and is considered a cool-climate region that is renowned for its Sauvignon Blanc.

For the 2016 vintage, this white wine arrives at the LCBO with new packaging and is quite readily available throughout Ontario as a General List product.

Durbanville Hills Atlantic View Sauvignon Blanc 2016 (87 pts)

Tasting Note:

DURBANVILLE HILLS ATLANTIC VIEW SAUVIGNON BLANC 2016 - WO Durbanville, South Africa (#022251) (XD) - $11.95
Integrity and sustainability certified. Screw cap. Quite fragrant on the nose with gooseberry, kiwi, asparagus, key lime, citrus and hints of steely minerality. The palate is medium-bodied and fleshy with high acids. Citrus, asparagus, melon, and pear flavour profile. Juicy finish. Refreshing wine to pair with veggie night, poultry, or seafood. Score: 87 pts

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  • Date publishedSaturday, January 7, 2017

Lavau Vacqueyras 2014 (Rhône) - Wine Review

wine is a lovely offering that will be released into LCBO VINTAGES on . Back in 2015, I reviewed the 2012 Lavau Vacqueyras, and that was the last time this wine showed up at the LCBO - until now.

The Lavau family has been making wine for several generations in the area ranging from Bordeaux to the hills of Tunisia. In 1964, the family settled in the southern Rhône Valley as they were seduced by the richness and quality of the Provençal soil and 40 years later, the cellar is now managed by Benoit and Frederic Lavau. With possession of 3 cellars and working with 300 grape growers, the Lavau winery vinifies most of the appellations of the southern Rhône Valley.

Lavau Vacqueyras 2014 (90 pts)

Tasting Note:

LAVAU VACQUEYRAS 2014 - AC, Rhône, France (#104927) (D) - $25.95
GSM blend consisting of 50% Grenache, 40% Syrah and 10% Mourvèdre. Plum and ripe berry aromas from the cork. Medium-high aromatics featuring mineral followed by mulberry, blackberry, sweet herbs, ending with hints of earth. Ripe, sweet-edged flavours of blackberry, dark fruit, and cinnamon spice on the medium-bodied palate with finely-grained, slightly grippy tannins. Acids are fresh and a touch sharp. Long, satisfying, earthen finish. I would age this another year or two and drink over the next 6-7 years. Enjoy with lamb or rich poultry dishes. Score: 90 pts

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  • Date publishedFriday, January 6, 2017

Niagara Wine Festival Review 2016 - Day 2 of 2

GreenLane Riesling with Balinese Chicken Satay
My tour through Niagara during the annual Grape & Wine Festival was split over two weekends in September. You can read all about the first day's activities here.

Our food & wine adventure on the second weekend began at GreenLane Estate Winery for a Balinese Chicken Satay that was paired with their 2012 GreenLane Riesling ($15.95, 88 pts). I was expecting a sweet & spicy pairing, but instead got a mild-mannered chicken satay that contained South East Asian spices, coconut milk and peanut sauce. The satay was delicious and so was the Riesling. Since the wine had crisp acids and wasn't too sweet, it paired well with the satay, with lemony notes from the wine becoming more pronounced. Overall, it was a good pairing, but I would love to try this Riesling with a spicier Asian dish.

Stoney Ridge Estate Winery was our second stop for a chickpea and quinoa vegetable salad that was topped with a succulent smoked marsala shrimp. It was paired with the 2013 Stoney Ridge Excellence White (reviewed below) and was quite interesting. The wine had compelling herbally-honey-floral notes, but when paired with the salad and shrimp, the wine magically turned very, very smoky. It was a very interesting pairing indeed and just goes to show how the interaction between food & wine can really change the flavours of a wine.

Stoney Ridge Excellence White and Marsala ShrimpRockway Vineyards Wines with Potato Gnocchi

Our third stop was at Rockway Vineyards for another tantalizing experience. Here, a potato gnocchi topped with a beet sauce and garnished with watercress was paired with two wines - the 2015 Rockway Plush White ($14.95, 86 pts) and the 2012 Rockway Small Lot White Assemblage ($14.97, 88+ pts). The first wine (a Vidal) was on the sweeter side and enhanced the sweet beet flavours in the gnocchi, while the Assemblage (mostly Chardonnay) brought out more savoury, earthy tones, essentially enhancing the main ingredient in the gnocchi - potato. This was a very interesting comparison to see how a dish can change it's flavour profile based on the wine. Since food & wine is a very personal experience, it's interesting to note that my wife preferred the sweeter variant, while I preferred the savoury pairing. To each his/her own!

Konzelmann Estate Winery was the fourth stop, with fairly high expectations. A succulent New Zealand Lamb Chop that was lightly brushed with Basil Pesto and grilled to perfection was on the menu and paired with 2015 Konzelmann Lakefront Series Shiraz ($14.45, #144857, 86 pts). We had to wait a bit for the lamb chop to be prepared, but it was well worth it! It was made well-done and absolutely delicious! Shiraz (or Syrah) always tends to go well with lamb, and this was no exception. However, I think the lamb chop deserved a better wine. The place was a zoo due to their annual WineFest, so I didn't get a chance to taste anything else, including any of their other wines made with Shiraz/Syrah.

Konzelmann Shiraz and Lamb ChopsInniskillin Riesling and General Tso Chicken

The next to last stop of the afternoon was at Inniskillin Wines for General Tso chicken with crispy shallots paired with their latest Inniskillin Reserve Riesling (reviewed below). The wine itself was very good, offering typical off-dry notes found in Riesling. My General Tso chicken had dark meat that was a bit tough, but had a nice spicy kick to it. Once again, the spicy flavours in the dish complemented the sweet flavours and high acids in the wine very well, making for a very pleasurable pairing.

The final stop of the day was at Riverview Cellars Estate Winery for an eggplant parmigiana. However, since we arrived very late in the day, they had actually run out of their culinary creation. With extra time on our hands now, we decided to run through an extended tasting session at the back bar, noticing on the way back there that some renovations were being undertaken. Full wine reviews of some of my favourites at Riverview are posted below.

Overall, I was quite happy with the visit to Niagara. The culinary creations were well done, with generous portion sizes at most places. Wine pairings were very interesting, showcasing how both the food and wine can each change and enhance flavours when paired with each other. The most significant take away from this visit is that the wines, with ever more maturing vines and some assistance from Mother Nature are helping to create better and better wines every year. While only a few these wines are available at the LCBO, all of these delicious Ontario wines can be purchased directly from the winery in Niagara.

Tasting Notes:

GREENLANE OLD VINES RIESLING 2012 - VQA Lincoln Lakeshore, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (D) - $24.95
From 25 year old vines, this has a medium+ intensity nose of orange, peach, and tropical fruits with a whiff of mature petrol. Off-dry on the palate with fine aroma replays and a nice minerally texture. Acids are nice and crisp. Long, clean finish. Score: 89+ pts

GreenLane Old Vines Riesling 2012 (89+ pts)GreenLane Cabernet Franc 2012 (89 pts)

GREENLANE CABERNET FRANC 2012 - VQA Lincoln Lakeshore, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $23.95
Harvested in mid-November of a long, hot growing season, this has medium-high intensity aromas of cocoa, espresso bean and dark ripe berry fruits with subtle oak nuances that continue through to the palate. Acids are very good, while the finish length is excellent. Supple tannins are evolving nicely and still provide good structure for aging at least 5+ years. Score: 89 pts

GREENLANE CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2012 - VQA Lincoln Lakeshore, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $32.95
The nose is a bit shy at the moment, but hints at currant, cassis, and black cherry aromas. The palate is full-bodied with ripe fruited flavours that are sure to please. There is good depth of fruit supported by drying tannins that should integrate well. Acids are very good. Subtle oak notes on the long finish. Should improve in 1-2 years, and drink over at least the next half dozen years. Score: 89 pts

GreenLane Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 (89 pts)GreenLane Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve 2012 (90+ pts)

GREENLANE CABERNET SAUVIGNON RESERVE 2012 - VQA Lincoln Lakeshore, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $48.95
From a selection of 22-year-old vines, the Reserve is a step up from the "entry-level" Cab. Aged for 19 months in oak (25% new French oak), this has a medium-to-high intensity nose that's clean, focused and complex with ripe dark berries, cassis, currant, and earth that also show up on the palate. Very good acids and tannic structure. Ripe tannins are well-integrated. Finishes long with some oak and cocoa flavours. Well-balanced overall with good aging potential of 5-10 years. Score: 90+ pts

STONEY RIDGE RIESLING 2013 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (D) - $15.95
Medium-high aromatics are showing mature petrol, white peach and citrus notes. On the medium-bodied off-dry palate, it has crisp, balanced and succulent acids with nice aroma replays and a touch of sweetness. The finish is long. Score: 88+ pts

Stoney Ridge Riesling 2013 (88+ pts)Stoney Ridge Riesling 2015 (87 pts)

STONEY RIDGE RIESLING 2015 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $14.95
Bottled a week prior to my visit, the nose is somewhat closed with sulphury notes along with hints of peach in a mostly dry style. Lemon and mineral flavours on the palate with hard, lemony acids. Medium+ length finish. This needs time to settle down. Score: 87 pts

STONEY RIDGE EXCELLENCE WHITE 2013 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $24.95
Barrel-fermented blend of 52% Pinot Gris, 34% Chardonnay, 7% Viognier, and 7% Muscat. Herbally with honey and floral aromas. The palate is medium+ bodied with more floral and herbal notes that are oak spiced. Acids are very good while the finish length is good. Score: 88 pts

Stoney Ridge Excellence White 2013 (88 pts)Stoney Ridge Vidal Icewine 2012 (90+ pts)

STONEY RIDGE VIDAL ICEWINE 2012 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (S) (375 mL) - $44.95
Highly aromatic with honey, apricot, peach, and golden apple notes. It's medium-full bodied with very appealing aroma replays. Very sweet on the palate, but balanced by nice acids. Excellent finish length. Score: 90+ pts

ROCKWAY VINEYARDS FERGIE JENKINS RIESLING 2013 - VQA Twenty Mile Bench, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (MD) - $15.95
Medium-high aromatics are minerally with whiffs of petrol, white peach and citrus. Acids are well-balanced with pleasing aroma replays on the nicely chalky textured palate. Drink over the next 2 years. Score: 88 pts

Rockway Vineyards Fergie Jenkins Riesling 2013 (88 pts)Rockway Vineyards Small Lot Block 150-183 Riesling 2013 (90 pts)

ROCKWAY VINEYARDS SMALL LOT BLOCK 150-183 RIESLING 2013 - VQA Twenty Mile Bench, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#424176) (M) - $19.95
The nose is highly aromatic, featuring slatey mineral, petrol, citrus, and white peach in a nicely concentrated package. Balanced aroma replays with nice crunchy acids on the palate. There's good depth of fruit as well. Long finishing. Score: 90 pts

ROCKWAY VINEYARDS SMALL LOT BLOCK 12-140 SYRAH 2013 - VQA Twenty Mile Bench, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $24.95
Medium intensity nose offers black pepper, purple fruit, and subtle oak aromas that should become more pronounced with air. It's medium-bodied with black peppery aroma replays. Well-balanced and a bit feminine in style, with supple tannins and balanced acids. Medium-long finish. Score: 88 pts

Rockway Vineyards Small Lot Block 12-140 Syrah 2013 (88 pts)Rockway Vineyards Cabernet Franc Icewine 2013 (91 pts)

ROCKWAY VINEYARDS CABERNET FRANC ICEWINE 2013 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (S) (375 mL) - $44.95
Medium-high aromatics offer strawberry and cherry aromas with a slightly spiced character that continue on the lovely palate. It's very sweet, but has vibrant and refreshing acids. The finish is long. Score: 91 pts

INNISKILLIN RESERVE RIESLING 2013 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (D) - $18.95
Fine aromas of petrol, mineral, sweet lemon, white peach and orange citrus of medium-high intensity. Off-dry flavours of peach, apricot, orange and some mineral notes are balanced by fresh acids. The finish is medium-long in length. Score: 89 pts

Inniskillin Reserve Riesling 2013 (89 pts)Riverview Angelina's Reserve Gewurztraminer 2013 (89+ pts)

RIVERVIEW ANGELINA'S RESERVE GEWURZTRAMINER 2013 - VQA Niagara River, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (M) - $18.95
From vines planted in 1992, this has a medium+ intensity nose with lemony, floral, ginger and some honey aromas. The palate is fleshy with bright acids and typical flavours of lychee, rose, and floral, in a semi-dry style. Excellent length on the finish that comes off drier due to high acids. Nicely balanced overall. Score: 89+ pts

RIVERVIEW SALVATORE'S RESERVE CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2012 - VQA Niagara River, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $29.95
Spent 1 year in French oak, this has medium-high intensity aromas featuring ripe red & black fruits, dark cherry, blackberry, cassis, and some currant and oak spice adding complexity. It's full-bodied with crunchy acids, ripe tannins and balanced aroma replays. Finish length in excellent. Approachable now, but should benefit with short term cellaring. Score: 89+ pts

Riverview Salvatore's Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 (89+ pts)Riverview Riesling Icewine 2014 (91 pts)

RIVERVIEW RIESLING ICEWINE 2014 - VQA Niagara-on-the-Lake, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (S) (375 mL) - $69.95
Highly aromatic and inviting nose has lovely sweet apricot, peach and honey notes. Acids are nice and crisp on the medium-bodied frame. Appealing lemon, stone fruit, and mango flavours on the sweet palate. Finish length is excellent! Score: 91 pts

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  • Date publishedMonday, January 2, 2017

VINTAGES Release January 7: Smart Buys

LCBO Wine Picks from January 7, 2017 VINTAGES Release
Happy New Year and welcome to 2017!

After large (and expensive) VINTAGES Releases in the Fall leading up to the holidays, we arrive in 2017 with the annual "Smart Buys" release. The first release of 2017 is a thin release, with most of the wines listed under $20 and quite contrasted compared to what we saw over the past 3 months. The wines from the LCBO VINTAGES Release will be on shelves this coming .

This mono-thematic release lists 20 wines in the Smart Buys section and 4 are included among my wine picks. The lone white wine among the four is a Sauvignon Blanc from Chile. In reds, there is a Malbec from Argentina and a Beaujolais for Gamay lovers. If you're feeling a bit adventurous, try Graciano - a grape that's normally used in blending - but is available as a single varietal wine in the Rio Madre from Spain.

Other red wines in this release include a Rosso di Montalcino that is made with Sangiovese and is considered the little brother of Brunello. The Château Boucassé is a nicely maturing wine (with many years to go) that is Tannat-based, but also contains Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. From Rhône, the Vacqueyras is a blend of mainly Grenache and Syrah, while the Saint-Joseph is 100% Syrah.

In white wines, both the Mâcon-Uchizy and the Petit Chablis are Chardonnays from Burgundy with minimal-to-no oak influence. If you like sweeter wines, the Chenin Blanc offers hints of sweet flavours, but going up many notches on the sugar scale is a rare-to-Ontario White Port from Ferreira.

Enjoy my wine recommendations from this release! Cheers!

Red Wine:

  • CANTINA SAN PAOLO AGLIANICO 2015 - IGP Campania, Italy (#473132) (XD) - $13.95
  • CASTELLO DI FONTERUTOLI CHIANTI CLASSICO 2014 - DOCG, Tuscany, Italy (#599779) (XD) (375 mL) - $13.95  reviewed here
  • RIO MADRE GRACIANO 2014 - DOCa Rioja, Spain (#354753) (XD) - $14.95
  • QUERCECCHIO ROSSO DI MONTALCINO 2014 - DOC, Tuscany, Italy (#394973) (XD) - $15.95
  • PIATTELLI PREMIUM RESERVE MALBEC 2013 - Luján de Cuyo, Mendoza, Argentina (#455808) (XD) - $16.95
  • GÉRARD BERTRAND GRAND TERROIR TAUTAVEL GRENACHE / SYRAH / CARIGNAN 2013 - AP Côtes du Roussillon-Villages, Midi, France (#272575) (D) - $18.95
  • ARBOLEDA CARMENÈRE 2014 - Aconcagua Valley, Chile (#046284) (D) - $19.95  reviewed here
  • GIESEN PINOT NOIR 2014 - Marlborough, South Island, New Zealand (#465948) (XD) - $21.95
  • CHÂTEAU BOUSCASSÉ 2009 - AP Madiran, Southwest, France (#743385) (XD) - $21.95
  • GABRIEL MEFFRE SAINT-BARTHÉLÉMY VACQUEYRAS 2014 - AP, Rhône, France (#479691) (D) - $25.95
  • MARQUIS DE MONTFERRAT SAINT-JOSEPH 2012 - AC, Rhône, France (#470443) (XD) - $29.95
  • DOMAINE DU MEIX-FOULOT CLOS DU CHÂTEAU DE MONTAIGU MERCUREY 1ER CRU 2013 - Monopole, AC, Burgundy, France (#123927) (XD) - $38.95  FSE
Arboleda Carmenère 2014 (88+ pts)

White Wine:

  • MAN FREE-RUN STEEN CHENIN BLANC 2015 - WO Coastal Region, South Africa (#126847) (D) - $13.95
  • BOYA SAUVIGNON BLANC 2016 - Leyda Valley, Chile (#389726) (XD) - $15.95
  • GÉRALD TALMARD MÂCON-UCHIZY 2015 - AC, Burgundy, France (#470427) (XD) - $15.95
  • ALAIN GEOFFROY PETIT CHABLIS 2015 - AC, Burgundy, France (#470393) (XD) - $19.95
  • NIKOLAIHOF WACHAU TERRASSEN GRÜNER VELTLINER 2014 - Wachau, Austria (#085274) (XD) - $20.95  reviewed here
  • BOUCHARD PÈRE & FILS CHASSAGNE-MONTRACHET 2014 - AC, Burgundy, France (#479824) (XD) - $66.95  FSE


  • FERREIRA LAGRIMA WHITE PORT - DOP, Portugal (#473033) (S) - $16.95

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