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  • Date publishedTuesday, August 29, 2017

LCBO VINTAGES September 2, 2017: New World Benchmarks + Syrah vs. Shiraz

LCBO Wine Picks from September 2, 2017 VINTAGES Release
The upcoming release in LCBO VINTAGES on is titled "Reference Library" and features benchmark varietals in new world wine regions as its main theme. Meanwhile, the mini-theme compares Syrah and Shiraz. These new wines will be on shelves this coming .

We'll begin with the feature on new world benchmark varietals, which lists 11 wines across 7 varietals. The wines in this feature include Ontario Chardonnay, California Cabernet Sauvignon, Oregon Pinot Noir, Argentinean Malbec, Australian Shiraz, Chilean Carmenere, and New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc. Just two wines from this theme are included on my list of top wine picks - the lovely 2027 Chardonnay (which came through VINTAGES in ) and a Carmenère from Chile.

2027 Wismer Vineyard Fox Croft Block Chardonnay 2014 (90 pts)Concha y Toro Marques de Casa Concha Carmenère 2014 (88+ pts)

The mini-theme compares Syrah and Shiraz, two grapes that are identical but can yield very different styles of wines. Personally, I prefer the Syrah style of wine, which tends to be savoury, earthy, and meaty with black pepper nuances instead of the riper, jammy style of Shiraz found so often in Australia. In this thematic, there are eight wines listed and two made my list of wine recommendations - both are Syrah.

Creekside Iconoclast Syrah 2014 (89 pts)

From the rest of the release among red wines, the Forca Real is an unoaked blend of 60% Grenache, 30% Syrah and 10% Mourvèdre, while the Family Tree Red is a blend of 33% Syrah, 29% Merlot, 19% Cabernet Franc, 14% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 5% Baco Noir. The Schild GMS is a blend of 52% Grenache, 24% Mourvèdre, and 24% Shiraz. Also, the California Cab contains 9% Merlot and 3% Petit Verdot. Single varietal wines include the Crianza that's made with Tempranillo, and the wine from Lazio that is made using a grape you've probable never heard of - Cesanese.

Among my white wine picks, the Creekside Iconoclast is a blend of 74% Semillon and 26% Sauvignon Blanc, while the Anselmi is an off-dry wine made with Garganega. The rest are all single varietals. For sweet wine lovers, you'll want to check out the Gewürztraminer or the Riesling from Ontario. For those who want just a hint of sweetness, look to the Riesling from Austria, or the Semillon from Australia.

Riverview Angelina’s Reserve Gewurztraminer 2014 (88 pts)Flat Rock Riesling 2015 (88 pts)

Enjoy my top wine recommendations from this release. Cheers!

Red Wine:

  • DOMAINE FORCA REAL CÔTES DU ROUSSILLON VILLAGES 2013 - AP, Roussillon, France (#494161) (XD) - $17.95
  • HENRY OF PELHAM FAMILY TREE RED 2014 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#247882) (XD) - $18.95
  • CASALE DEL GIGLIO CESANESE 2014 - IGT Lazio Rosso, Italy (#498188) (XD) - $18.95
  • CONCHA Y TORO MARQUES DE CASA CONCHA CARMENÈRE 2014 - Peumo, Rapel Valley, Chile (#169862) (XD) - $19.95  reviewed here
  • SCHILD ESTATE GRENACHE/MOURVÈDRE/SHIRAZ 2014 - Barossa Valley, South Australia (#108183) (XD) - $19.95
  • SEÑORÍO DE P. PECIÑA CRIANZA 2012 - DOCa Rioja, Spain (#313726) (XD) - $21.95
  • CREEKSIDE ICONOCLAST SYRAH 2014 - VQA St. David’s Bench, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada (#471797) (XD) - $24.95  reviewed here
  • MAISON ROCHE DE BELLENE VIEILLES VIGNES CÔTE DE NUITS-VILLAGES 2007 - AC, Burgundy, France (#487447) (XD) - $29.95
  • FESS PARKER SYRAH 2013 - Santa Barbara County, California, USA (#942136) (XD) - $34.95
  • SILVERADO VINEYARDS ESTATE GROWN CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2013 - Napa Valley, California, USA (#111880) (XD) - $61.95

White Wine:

  • RIVERVIEW ANGELINA’S RESERVE GEWURZTRAMINER 2014 - VQA Niagara River, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada (#511642) (M) - $17.15  reviewed here
  • FLAT ROCK RIESLING 2015 - VQA Twenty Mile Bench, Niagara Escarpment, Ontario, Canada (#043281) (M) - $17.95  reviewed here
  • MARGAN FAMILY HUNTER VALLEY SÉMILLON 2016 - Hunter Valley, New South Wales, Australia (#493338) (D) - $19.95
  • REDSTONE CHARDONNAY 2013 - VQA Beamsville Bench, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#398966) (XD) - $19.95
  • DOMÄNE WACHAU TERRASSEN FEDERSPIEL RIESLING 2015 - DAC Wachau, Austria (#491902) (D) - $21.95
  • CREEKSIDE ICONOCLAST SÉMILLON/SAUVIGNON BLANC 2015 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#520627) (XD) - $22.50
  • 2027 WISMER VINEYARD FOX CROFT BLOCK CHARDONNAY 2014 - VQA Twenty Mile Bench, Niagara Escarpment, Ontario, Canada (#421362) (XD) - $22.95  reviewed here
  • ANSELMI CAPITEL CROCE 2015 - IGT Veneto, Italy (#966655) (D) - $26.95  FSE
  • VILLA MARIA SOUTHERN CLAYS SINGLE VINEYARD SAUVIGNON BLANC 2016 - Marlborough, South Island, New Zealand (#447474) (XD) - $29.95  reviewed here
  • LA CHABLISIENNE CHABLIS BEAUROY 1ER CRU 2014 - AC, Burgundy, France (#490110) (XD) - $34.95  FSE
Villa Maria Southern Clays Single Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc 2016 (90 pts)

Sparkling Wine:

  • VINELAND ESTATES SPARKLING PINOT MEUNIER RESERVE 2015 - Charmat method, VQA Ontario, Canada (#520700) (D) - $30.00


  • DELAFORCE VINTAGE PORT 2003 - DOP, Portugal (#459784) (S) - $77.95

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  • Date publishedMonday, August 21, 2017

Giveaway - Win a Pair of Winemakers’ Selections Tasting Passes

Win Two (2) Niagara-on-the-Lake Winemakers' Selections Tasting Passes
Here's your chance to win a pair of Winemakers’ Selections Tasting Passes valued at $25 each. This new pass was created by Wineries of Niagara-on-the-Lake and let's you savour 25 carefully selected terroir wines for one convenient price.

To taste the Winemaker's Selection at each winery, simply present your printed ticket or show it on your digital device at a participating winery and have the tasting bar staff scan it for you. All of the participating wineries are located in Niagara-on-the-Lake.

Your tasting pass will let you taste one Winemaker's Selection at each winery, anytime of the year. Full terms and conditions of the Winemakers’ Selections Tasting Pass are found here.

Tip: The pass doesn't expire at the end of 2017, so you can still use this pass next year.

Enter Contest:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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  • Date publishedFriday, August 18, 2017

Concha y Toro Marques de Casa Concha Carmenère 2008 (Chile) - Wine Review

delicious wine was purchased back in the Spring of 2014 from the LCBO VINTAGES Release.

Obviously, the 2008 is no longer available at the LCBO, but this wine is always solid year after year, and the latest vintage should will show up in VINTAGES in . Keep an eye out on this blog as I'm sure it will be a recommended buy.

Concha y Toro Marques de Casa Concha Carmenère 2008 (90+ pts)

Tasting Note:

CONCHA Y TORO MARQUES DE CASA CONCHA CARMENÈRE 2008 - Peumo Vineyard, Rapel Valley, Chile (#169862) (XD) - $19.95
Black plum with hints of red flowers and earth from the cork. Complex nose is showing fine maturity with lovely dried flowers and wet earth aromas which give way to lush blackberry, wild herbs, cassis, black licorice, and vanilla with very good intensity. The palate is full-bodied with dark currant, blackberry, cassis, mint, and herbs surrounded by mouth watering acidity. It's slightly chalky on the palate with refined, dusty tannins that are smooth and integrated very nicely. The long finish is earthy with hints of chocolate and dried flowers. Beautiful wine to enjoy now or over the next 2-3 years. Enjoyed with chicken fajitas. Score: 90+ pts

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  • Date publishedMonday, August 14, 2017

LCBO VINTAGES August 19, 2017: South of France + South Africa

LCBO Wine Picks: August 19, 2017 VINTAGES Release
New wines from the upcoming LCBO VINTAGES Release on will be on shelves across the province this and features two wine regions known for producing quality wines at very good prices. The main thematic features the wines from the South of France, while the mini-theme features wines from South Africa.

We'll begin with the South of France feature that's titled "Southern Charm". There are 11 wines listed as part of this theme and 4 are included among my top wine picks. The lone white wine is a blend of 55% Vermentino and 45% Viognier that's been partially aged in oak and comes for a region bordering Spain. The Minervois is a blend of 37% Mourvèdre, 28% Grenache, and 25% Syrah and is showing fine maturity, while the La Clape is a blend of rougly 40% Syrah, 30% Carignan, and 30% Mourvèdre. Lastly, the Saint-Chinian is a blend 65% Grenache and 35% Syrah.

Le Secret des Capitelles Saint-Chinian 2014 (88 pts)

South Africa is the mini-theme and features many fine wines on offer as 7 of the 8 wines listed are included on my list of wine recommendations. Among the red wines, there is a Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon and an honest Pinotage that doesn't taste like coffee. Among the South African white wines, there is a Chenin Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc and an unoaked Chardonnay. And last but not least, there is a Vintage Brut Rosé that is a blend of 80% Pinot Noir and 20% Chardonnay.

Among red wines from the rest of the release, the 2008 La Granja is made with Tempranillo, as is the much younger and more modern Crianza. Both the Beni di Batasiolo and the Barolo are made Nebbiolo, while the Brunello is made with Sangiovese.

Among white wines, there's an Albariño and Falanghina, as well as a 100% Turbiana (a.k.a. Trebbiano) di Lugana from Lombardy. The Hermit Crab from Australia is a blend of 72%Viognier and 28% Marsanne. The oaked La Crema Chardonnay is actually one of the Wines of the Month and will be widely available across the province. For sweet wine lovers, your best bet is the Riesling from Ontario.

La Crema Sonoma Coast Chardonnay 2015 (89 pts)2027 Cellars Wismer Vineyard Fox Croft Block Riesling 2016 (89 pts)

Enjoy my wine picks from this release! Cheers!

Red Wine:

  • LE SECRET DES CAPITELLES SAINT-CHINIAN 2014 - AP, Languedoc-Roussillon, France (#156299) (XD) - $15.95  reviewed here
  • BENI DI BATASIOLO NEBBIOLO 2015 - DOC Langhe, Italy (#908079) (XD) - $16.95
  • CHÂTEAU DE SÉRAME MINERVOIS 2010 - AC, Languedoc-Roussillon, France (#480889) (XD) - $16.95
  • GÉRARD BERTRAND GRAND TERROIR LA CLAPE SYRAH / CARIGNAN / MOURVÈDRE 2014 - AP Coteaux du Languedoc La Clape, Languedoc, France (#370262) (XD) - $18.95
  • PEREZ CRUZ LIMITED EDITION CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2015 - Maipo Andes, Chile (#431015) (XD) - $19.95  reviewed here
  • RUSTENBERG SHIRAZ 2014 - WO Stellenbosch, South Africa (#399246) (XD) - $19.95
  • ALEJANDRO FERNÁNDEZ DEHESA LA GRANJA 2008 - Vino de la Tierra de Castilla y León, Spain (#192476) (XD) - $20.95
  • PALACIOS REMONDO LA MONTESA CRIANZA 2014 - DOCa Rioja, Spain (#674572) (XD) - $24.95
  • ERNIE ELS CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2014 - WO Stellenbosch, South Africa (#278358) (XD) - $24.95
  • SOUTHERN RIGHT PINOTAGE 2015 - WO Hemel-en-Aarde Valley, Walker Bay, South Africa (#486167) (XD) - $26.95
  • PODERI COLLA DARDI LE ROSE BUSSIA BAROLO 2011 - DOCG, Piedmont, Italy (#596890) (XD) - $54.95
  • IL GRAPPOLO BRUNELLO DI MONTALCINO 2010 - DOCG, Tuscany, Italy (#452151) (XD) - $54.95
Perez Cruz Limited Edition Cabernet Sauvignon 2015 (89 pts)

White Wine:

  • DE WETSHOF LIMESTONE HILL UNWOODED CHARDONNAY 2016 - WO Robertson, South Africa (#419622) (XD) - $16.95
  • TERRE STREGATE SVELATO FALANGHINA DEL SANNIO 2015 - DOP, Campania, Italy (#486076) (XD) - $17.95
  • D’ARENBERG THE HERMIT CRAB VIOGNIER/MARSANNE 2016 - McLaren Vale, South Australia (#662775) (XD) - $17.95
  • PACO & LOLA ALBARIÑO 2016 - DO Rías Baixas, Spain (#350041) (XD) - $18.95
  • LES NEIGES DE L’AGLY VERMENTINO/VIOGNIER 2013 - IGP Côtes Catalanes, Languedoc-Roussillon, France (#512566) (XD) - $19.95
  • SOUTHERN RIGHT SAUVIGNON BLANC 2016 - Walker Bay, WO Western Cape, South Africa (#512277) (XD) - $21.95
  • RAATS ORIGINAL CHENIN BLANC 2016 - Unwooded, WO Stellenbosch, South Africa (#651497) (XD) - $21.95
  • 2027 CELLARS WISMER VINEYARD FOX CROFT BLOCK RIESLING 2016 - VQA Twenty Mile Bench, Niagara Escarpment, Ontario, Canada (#225490) (M) - $22.95  FSE  reviewed here
  • TENUTA ROVEGLIA VIGNE DI CATULLO LUGANA RISERVA 2013 - DOC, Lombardy, Italy (#437004) (D) - $24.95
  • LA CREMA SONOMA COAST CHARDONNAY 2015 - Sonoma Coast, California, USA (#962886) (XD) - $29.95  reviewed here

Sparkling Wine:

  • GRAHAM BECK BRUT ROSÉ 2011 - Disgorged March 2017, Méthode Cap Classique, WO Western Cape, South Africa (#004085) (XD) - $21.95
  • DOM PÉRIGNON VINTAGE BRUT ROSÉ CHAMPAGNE 2004 - AC, Champagne, France (#091777) (XD) - $337.95  FSE


  • KOURTAKI MUSCAT OF SAMOS - PDO Samos, Greece (#938407) (S) - $15.95

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  • Date publishedFriday, August 11, 2017

Le Secret des Capitelles Saint-Chinian 2014 (Languedoc) - Wine Review

wine is a red blend that will be arriving in LCBO VINTAGES on .

It is produced by Les Vignerons de Saint Chinian, a cooperative founded in 1937 and now includes 186 winegrowers over 850 hectares of vines across Languedoc-Roussillon. Their vineyards range in altitude from 120 to 300 metres above sea level, and are mostly on schist and calcareous-clay soils, which are naturally poor (but good for wine!)

Les Vignerons de Saint Chinian is constantly looking to produce high quality wines, which means a constant effort is applied to improve the skills of grape growers and the selective cultivation of vineyards. As part of these efforts, this coop achieved ISO certification in 2001.

The Languedoc-Roussillon wine region in the South of France is known for producing quality wines at very approachable prices, and this is no exception. You can pick up your bottle from the LCBO next weekend.

Le Secret des Capitelles Saint-Chinian 2014 (88 pts)

Tasting Note:

LE SECRET DES CAPITELLES SAINT-CHINIAN 2014 - AP, Languedoc-Roussillon, France (#156299) (XD) - $15.95
This blend of 65% Grenache and 35% Syrah was aged for 12 months in oak. Light aromas of plum and red berry from the cork. Medium+ intensity nose is very savoury earthy in nature, followed by garrigue, wild herbs, black pepper, and blackberry with hints of florality. It's medium-bodied with nice peppery and garrigue aroma replays that are lifted by fresh acidity. Supple tannins are well-integrated and the finish is long and earthy. Nicely composed red wine to enjoy with herbed poultry over the next 2-3 years. Score: 88 pts

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  • Date publishedWednesday, August 9, 2017

Southbrook Whimsy! The Anniversary (Niagara) - Wine Review

I opened up this delicious Fortified wine to celebrate it's recent Gold Medal at the 2017 National Wine Awards of Canada (NWAC). Looking at the results from this competition, this is the top Fortified wine in Canada!

This wine is produced by Southbrook Vineyards, and is one of many Southbrook wines I've tasted from a winery that is Canada's first certified organic and biodynamic winery. Southbrook has built a solid reputation for its strict adherence to biodynamic and organic winemaking, and more recently, announced that it had cut its electricity consumption by 80% by with the installation of a new photovoltaic field as part of its commitment to sustainability and energy reduction program.

Ann Sperling, Director of Winemaking and Viticulture at Southbrook Vineyards crafted the award-winning wines across several categories, including the Framboise (Fruit Wine category), 2016 Orange Skin Fermented Vidal (White Single Varietal category), and the 2016 Organic Wild Ferment Cider (Cider category). Also an award-winner is the lovely 2013 Southbrook Estate Witness Block (Red Blend category) that I tasted earlier this year. In total, Southbrook garnered five medals across five different categories, showing excellence across a broad range of wines.

This very yummy fortified wine is only available at the winery and can be ordered online through their web store.

Southbrook Whimsy! The Anniversary (91 pts)

Tasting Note:

SOUTHBROOK WHIMSY! THE ANNIVERSARY - VQA Niagara-on-the-Lake, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (S) - $29.95
Made with 100% Chardonnay harvested in 2002 (!), then fortified with a neutral grain spirit, which was then followed by extended natural aging without intervention. This was bottled in 2011 and then aged for 2 years prior to release. Enclosed by screw cap. Highly intense aromas with an oxidative character of orange, spice, nutty, dried fig and apricot aromas wafting from the glass. It gives the impression of a very sweet fortified wine, but the medium+ bodied is actually quite dry with just a hint of sweetness. Roasted nuts, dried fig, orange and burnt sugar notes embody the flavour profile. Slightly warming with a very smooth, long finish. Lovely. Very Sherry/Madeira-like. Give it a slight chill and enjoy after dinner. Score: 91 pts

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  • Date publishedFriday, August 4, 2017

La Crema Sonoma Coast Chardonnay 2015 (California) - Wine Review

wine review is the latest vintage of the Sonoma Coast Chardonnay from La Crema Winery. It is being featured as the Wine of the Month in the upcoming LCBO VINTAGES Release.

I enjoyed my visit to La Crema in Sonoma Wine Country last Fall and was very impressed when I had the opportunity to taste the 2014 La Crema Sonoma Coast Chardonnay a month later.

In 2015, warmer winter temperatures resulted in earlier bud break, while cooler than average temperatures delayed bloom and led to lower yields compared to the previous three years. Veraison also came early, and a warm, dry summer led to one of the earliest harvests on record for the Sonoma Coast AVA, with harvest beginning by mid-August.

This delicious white wine will be widely available at LCBO outlets across Ontario within a couple of weeks.

La Crema Sonoma Coast Chardonnay 2015 (89 pts)

Tasting Note:

LA CREMA SONOMA COAST CHARDONNAY 2015 - Sonoma Coast, California, USA (#962886) (XD) - $29.95
For 2015, this wine spent 9 months in primarily French oak (some American), 19% of which is new. Tropical fruit and lemon citrus aromas from the cork. It's quite fragrant in the glass with creamy, buttery, lemony, tropical fruit and slightly lactic aromas. The palate is full-bodied and very ripe with pear and butter flavours, along with touches of white peach and woodsmoke. It's creamy with fresh, balanced acidity. The finish is long and bitter with a fine chalky mineral texture. A rich Chardonnay that deserves to be paired with rich seafood dishes or chicken. Score: 89 pts

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