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  • Date publishedFriday, May 31, 2019

Mazzei Poggio Badiola di Fonterutoli 2016 (Tuscany) - Wine Review

wine review a nice red wine from Tuscany that will arrive in LCBO VINTAGES for the first time on .

The Mazzei family has been making fine wines in Tuscany since the 11th century. When Ser Lapo Mazzei's granddaughter married Agnolo da Fonterutoli in 1435, Castello di Fonterutoli became part of the Mazzei family. They have been producing wines at this historic castle since that time, now spanning 24 generations.

At Castello di Fonterutoli, there are 5 areas divided into 73 vineyards. The grapes for this delicious red wine come from the Le Ripe area vineyard, which is located approximately 2 kilometres northwest of Fonterutoli, within the commune of Radda in Chianti, in the heart of Chianti Classico. The vineyard surrounds a 10th century Romanic Church, called "Badiola", to which this wine owes its name. The specific vineyard where the grapes for this wine come from are south facing and sit between 450 to 510 metres altitude, with soils that are very rocky with decomposed limestone and sandstone. This area is also relatively cool due to it's height and specific micro-climate, imparting freshness to the grapes.

Mazzei Poggio Badiola di Fonterutoli 2016 (88+ pts)

Tasting Note:

MAZZEI POGGIO BADIOLA DI FONTERUTOLI 2016 - IGT Toscana, Italy (#330951) (XD) - $19.95
A blend of 65% Sangiovese, 30% Merlot, and 5% Petit Verdot that was hand-picked and aged in small American oak barrels for 10 months. Medium+ intensity nose offers aromas of sweet red and black cherries, dried spices, and some wood surrounding a savoury earthy core. It is medium-full bodied and fairly dense with smooth, finely-grained tannins with some grip, and juicy acids. More savoury on the flavour profile with currant, black cherry accents. Savoury, earthy and cocoa notes linger on the long finish. Enjoyable now, but will be better in 1-2 years. Score: 88+ pts

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  • Date publishedTuesday, May 28, 2019

Château de Tréviac Corbières 2016 (Midi) - Wine Review

wine review is a lovely unoaked red wine that will be arriving in LCBO VINTAGES on .

The 2012 and 2015 Château de Tréviac Corbières were both delightful wines when they arrived in VINTAGES in previous years, showing remarkable consistency. I have no doubt that this latest vintage will also be very good.

It is produced by the young and dynamic winegrower Arnaud Sié at Château de Tréviac in the village of Talairan - between Carcassonne and Perpignan, and just west of the Mediterranean. In 2000, after completing his studies, he decided to take over the family's estate. He currently has 20 hectares of vineyards, 14 of which are in the Corbières appellation and has worked tirelessly to modernize the wine cellars and improve the vineyards.

The grapes for this wine come from an established south-facing vineyard located 200 to 350 metres above sea level on chalky clay soils surrounded by garrigue, the ideal terroir for Syrah and Grenache. The Syrah vines are approximately 15 years old, while the Grenache vines are 35 years old, with low yields allowing the wines to have exceptional concentration.

Château de Tréviac Corbières 2016 (90 pts)

Tasting Note:

CHÂTEAU DE TRÉVIAC CORBIÈRES 2016 - AP, Midi, France (#670505) (XD) - $16.95
A blend of 60% Syrah and 40% Grenache that was hand-harvested, sorted in the vineyard, and aged completely in tank. Quite intense on the nose with stony mineral and scorched earth aromas layered on top of the lovely blackberry, black pepper spice, licorice, and cassis notes. Lovely mineral driven aroma replays on the full-bodied palate with very good fruit concentration. Nicely textured with supple tannins that have some chalkiness. Acids are juicy and mouth-watering. Stony mineral notes linger on the long finish. Highly recommended buy. Score: 90 pts

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  • Date publishedSaturday, May 25, 2019

Fleur du Cap Essence du Cap Cabernet Sauvignon 2016 (South Africa) - Wine Review

Approximately three years ago, I enjoyed the 2013 Fleur du Cap Cabernet Sauvignon from South Africa. , I am opening the 2016 vintage of this LCBO General List red wine that is readily available across Ontario.

The story of Fleur du Cap wines begins in 1968, shortly after the opening of the famous Die Bergkelder, a cellar that cuts deep into the Papegaaiberg (Parrot Mountain) in Stellenbosch. It was built by Dr. Anton Rupert and was the first underground bottle maturation cellar of its kind in the southern hemisphere. The team at Die Bergkelder were important innovators of the wine industry in South Africa as they played a pivotal role in establishing classic noble grape varieties in the vineyards of the Cape and introduced the maturation of quality wine in small casks of new French oak.

The Essence du Cap range of wines are known for their value and the ability to express their true varietal character. The grapes for this Cabernet Sauvignon were sourced from different blocks in Stellenbosch, with the bulk coming from Stellenbosch Kloof. The vines are between 11 and 22 years of age and were grown according to South Africa's IPW pest and disease control standards - Integrity and Sustainability Certified.

Fleur du Cap Essence du Cap Cabernet Sauvignon 2016 (87 pts)

Tasting Note:

FLEUR DU CAP ESSENCE DU CAP CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2016 - WO Western Cape, South Africa (#457101) (XD) - $13.00
Medium+ intensity nose leads with wood spice and chocolate, surrounding the core aromas of black cherry, currant, cassis, and touches of green pepper. It is medium-full bodied on the palate with ripe flavoured aroma replays and sweet tannins that have some grip. It has juicy acids and a lingering black cherry, cassis and oak spiced finish. Score: 87 pts

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  • Date publishedWednesday, May 22, 2019

Two Oceans Sauvignon Blanc 2018 (South Africa) - Wine Review

wine review is an easy-drinking, mid-week Sauvignon Blanc from South Africa that is a General List product at the LCBO and widely available across Ontario. Looking through my blog, I see that I tasted the 2011 Two Oceans Sauvignon Blanc .

Two Oceans is named after the awe-inspiring view at the southern tip of Africa, where the two powerful forces of the Atlantic and Indian Oceans meet. The sheer scale and natural grandeur will give you pause and a chance to reflect, leaving you inspired, exhilarated and breathless. The wines of Two Oceans are inspired by this special place, where the elements of climate and natural beauty combine to create wines that are crisp, refreshing and easy drinking.

The grapes for this white wine come from vineyards in Stellenbosch, Paarl, Robertson and Worcester wine regions. The age of the vines ranges between 10 and 18 years of age and are grown in soils ranging from decomposed granite to deep Clovelly and Hutton, and are located 200 metres above sea level.

Two Oceans Sauvignon Blanc 2018 (87 pts)

Tasting Note:

TWO OCEANS SAUVIGNON BLANC 2018 - WO Western Cape, South Africa (#340380) (XD) - $11.00
Screw cap. Pale straw colour. Quite generous and fresh on the nose with tropical fruit, lemon citrus zest, and grapefruit with a tinge of grassy and gooseberry aromas. The medium-bodied palate with fleshy with crisp acidity. Flavours are a touched honeyed with grapefruit and lemon citrus notes. Dry overall with herbal and earthy mineral notes on the finish. Widely appealing wine to chill well and pair with fish or poultry. Score: 87 pts

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  • Date publishedTuesday, May 21, 2019

Wine Picks LCBO VINTAGES Release May 25, 2019: Brilliant Women + Bubbles

LCBO Wine Picks: May 25, 2019 VINTAGES Release
The main theme of the upcoming LCBO VINTAGES Release May 25, 2019 is titled "Sister Act" and features some brilliant women from the wine world, while the mini-theme features some super sparkling wines. All of the wines from this Release will arrive on LCBO VINTAGES shelves by this Saturday.

We begin with the main theme that looks at 13 women in wine. Of the 20 wines featured as part of this theme, 6 are include among my top wine picks. Ann Sperling is the Director of Winemaking at Southbrook, and her single vineyard Riesling is a lovely off-dry, organic and biodynamic wine from Niagara. Dr. Laura Catena was born into Argentina's most prominent wine family, and her Altamira Vineyard Malbec is a lovely wine to enjoy over several years. Virginia Willcock is the chief winemaker at Vasse Felix and prefers a hands-off approach to allow the vineyard to express itself, as it does with her Margaret River Chardonnay. Nadia Barnard believes in working in harmony with nature, so she is a good fit for the organic and biodynamic Waterkloof Wines - she brings us her Circle of Life white wine that is a blend of 72% Sauvignon Blanc and 28% Chenin Blanc. Lastly, I met with Maria Larrea, Techincal Director and Chief Winemaker at Spain's legendary Compañía Vinícola del Norte de España (CVNE) earlier this month and a full report from that tasting will be posted soon. In the meantime, I can tell you that both Cune Crianza and CVNE Imperial Reserva are made with 85% Tempranillo and 15% Garnacha Tinta/Mazuelo.

Southbrook Heather's Home Vineyard Riesling 2017 (91 pts)Catena Paraje Altamira Malbec 2016 (90 pts)

Vasse Felix Filius Chardonnay 2018 (91 pts)

CVNE Imperial Reserva 2014 (92 pts)CVNE Cune Crianza 2015 (88 pts)

From the mini-theme that focuses on sparkling wines, two of the seven bubbly's are included among my wine recommendations, and both are from Canada and made using the Traditional Method. The bubbly from British Columbia consists of 50% Pinot Noir, 45.5% Chardonnay, and 4.5% Pinot Gris, while the Trius Brut Rosé is mostly Pinot Noir.

Blue Mountain Gold Label Brut Sparkling (90 pts)Trius Brut Rosé (90 pts)

My red wine picks contain several great buys. From France, the Morgon is 100% Gamay from one of the best Cru vineyard sites in Beaujolais and is located one the slopes of a volcano, while the Crozes-Hermitage is a classic, northern Rhône Syrah. Also from France, the Bordeaux red consists of 60% Merlot and 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, while the Languedoc red is a blend of 55% Grenache and 45% Syrah. Lastly, the California Cab actually consists of 79% Cabernet Sauvignon, 11% Merlot, 8% Petit Verdot, and 2% Cabernet Franc.

Stéphane Aviron Vieilles Vignes Morgon Côte du Py 2014 (90+ pts)Cave de Tain Grand Classique Crozes-Hermitage 2015 (90 pts)

Château Gaumaran 2014 (89 pts)Cháteau Puech-Haut Les Complices 2016 (89 pts)

Among my white wine picks from the rest of the Release, most are single varietal wines, including the Blanco from Spain that is made with 100% Viura, while the outstanding Fumé Blanc is made with Sauvignon Blanc. The Creekside Iconoclast is a blend of 65% Sauvignon Blanc and 35% Semillon that sees some time in neutral French oak. If you prefer sweeter wines, check out the Riesling Kabinett from Germany.

Hidden Bench Fumé Blanc 2017 (92 pts)Creekside Iconoclast Sémillon/Sauvignon Blanc 2017 (89 pts)

Muriel Fincas de la Villa Blanco 2018 (89 pts)

Enjoy my wine recommendations from this Release! Cheers!

Red Wine:

  • CVNE CUNE CRIANZA 2015 - DOCa Rioja, Spain (#039925) (XD) - $16.95  88 pts  wine review
  • TONEL 46 MALBEC 2015 - Uco Valley, Mendoza, Argentina (#629808) (XD) - $17.95  88 pts  wine review
  • CHÂTEAU GAUMARAN 2014 - AC Médoc, Bordeaux, France (#634014) (XD) - $17.95  89 pts  wine review
  • CHÁTEAU PUECH-HAUT LES COMPLICES 2016 - AP Languedoc, France (#644666) (XD) - $19.95  89 pts  wine review
  • PAXTON MV SHIRAZ 2016 - McLaren Vale, South Australia (#327403) (XD) - $19.95  90+ pts  wine review
  • CATENA PARAJE ALTAMIRA MALBEC 2016 - Paraje Altamira, Uco Valley, Mendoza, Argentina (#492413) (XD) - $22.95  90 pts  wine review
  • STÉPHANE AVIRON VIEILLES VIGNES MORGON CÔTE DU PY 2014 - AC, Beaujolais, France (#424804) (XD) - $23.95  90+ pts  wine review
  • CAVE DE TAIN GRAND CLASSIQUE CROZES-HERMITAGE 2015 - AC, Rhône, France (#572230) (XD) - $24.95  90 pts  wine review
  • CVNE IMPERIAL RESERVA 2014 - DOCa Rioja, Spain (#424390) (XD) - $39.95  92 pts  wine review
  • CLIFF LEDE STAGS LEAP DISTRICT CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2016 - Stags Leap District, Napa Valley, California, USA (#014217) (XD) - $119.95  FE
Paxton MV Shiraz 2016 (90+ pts)Tonel 46 Malbec 2015 (88 pts)

White Wine:

  • MURIEL FINCAS DE LA VILLA BLANCO 2018 - DOCa Rioja, Spain (#645127) (XD) - $14.95  89 pts  wine review
  • FEUDO ANTICO BIOLOGICO PECORINO 2017 - IGP Terre di Chieti, Abruzzo, Italy (#644930) (D) - $15.95  88 pts  wine review
  • WATERKLOOF CIRCLE OF LIFE 2015 - WO Stellenbosch, South Africa (#284588) (XD) - $19.95  88 pts  wine review
  • THE LANE VINEYARD BLOCK 1A CHARDONNAY 2017 - Adelaide Hills, South Australia (#429233) (XD) $19.95  89 pts  wine review
  • SOUTHBROOK HEATHER'S HOME VINEYARD RIESLING 2017 - VQA Vinemount Ridge, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#650135) (D) - $22.95  91 pts  wine review
  • CREEKSIDE ICONOCLAST SÉMILLON/SAUVIGNON BLANC 2017 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#520627) (XD) - $23.00  89 pts  wine review
  • VASSE FELIX FILIUS CHARDONNAY 2018 - Margaret River, Western Australia (#416511) (XD) - $24.95  91 pts  wine review
  • REICHSGRAF VON KESSELSTATT KASELER NIES’CHEN RIESLING KABINETT 2016 - VDP Grosse Lage, Mosel, Germany (#940809) (MS) - $27.95  FE
  • HIDDEN BENCH FUMÉ BLANC 2017 - Rosomel Vineyard, VQA Beamsville Bench, Niagara Escarpment, Ontario, Canada (#068825) (XD) - $29.95  FE  92 pts  wine review
  • KISTLER LES NOISETIERS CHARDONNAY 2017 - Sonoma Coast, California, USA (#251223) (XD) - $99.95
The Lane Vineyard Block 1A Chardonnay 2017 (89 pts)Feudo Antico Biologico Pecorino 2017 (88 pts)

Sparkling Wine:

  • BLUE MOUNTAIN GOLD LABEL BRUT SPARKLING - Traditional method, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, Canada (#206326) (XD) - $29.95  90 pts  wine review
  • TRIUS BRUT ROSÉ - Traditional method, VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#184309) (XD) - $32.95  90 pts  wine review

Dessert Wine:

  • PALATINE HILLS VIDAL ICEWINE 2012 - VQA Niagara Lakeshore, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada (#614842) (S) (200 mL) - $19.95  89 pts  wine review
Palatine Hills Vidal Icewine 2012 (89 pts)

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  • Date publishedSunday, May 19, 2019

Peter Lehmann The Barossan Shiraz 2016 (Australia) - Wine Review

red wine review is a nice Australian Shiraz. The 2017 vintage of wine will be coming to LCBO VINTAGES on .

Peter Lehmann was born in Barossa in 1930 and was the fifth generation of one of Barossa's pioneering families. In 1947, Peter apprenticed as a winemaker at Yalumba and in 1959 he became the Winemaker/Manager at the Barossa winery Saltram. In the late 1970's, during a difficult time in the winegrowing region when there was a grape surplus and contracts were being cancelled, Peter took a massive gamble by working with growers to process their grapes at Saltram (with the permission of Saltram's owners) as a side-project he called "Masterson" - a famous gambler from Guys and Dolls. After Saltram was sold, Peter parted ways with the new owners and he started Masterson Wines in 1979, which evolved into Peter Lehmann Wines.

Today, Peter Lehmann Wines is renowned as one of Australia’s most internationally awarded wineries and its wines are a celebration of the Barossa community and the benefits that passion, craft and collaboration can bring. Peter Lehmann Wines has strong relationships with more than 140 grape growers across the region and has access to some of Barossa’s finest fruit.

The fruit for The Barossan Shiraz come from high quality parcels that are selected from a diverse range of Shiraz vineyards throughout the Barossa Valley, many of which include vines over 100 years old.

Peter Lehmann The Barossan Shiraz 2016 (88 pts)

Tasting Note:

PETER LEHMANN THE BAROSSAN SHIRAZ 2016 - Barossa, South Australia (#522235) (XD) - $21.95
Screw cap. Medium+ intensity nose offers ripe black cherry and blackberry aromas combined with enticing black pepper notes. It is medium-full bodied on the palate with mocha, licorice, oak spice and touches of mint joining the black cherry and black pepper notes on the flavour profile. It has fresh acids and smooth, supple tannins. Earthy and mocha notes linger on the finish, with very good length. Enjoyed with lamb burgers off the BBQ. Score: 88 pts

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  • Date publishedFriday, May 17, 2019

Wines from Santorini Volcanic Terroir

Santorini Volcanic Terroir
In , I was invited to a media luncheon featuring the wines of Santorini, Greece. The luncheon and tasting was hosted and led by Steve Kriaris, owner of Kolonaki Group, and Elias Karkabasis, owner and Sommelier of Pane Vino Trattoria & Wine Bar in Lindsay, Ontario. The venue was VOLOS, a fine Greek restaurant in the heart of downtown Toronto, and a place I realized upon arriving that I had dined here a few years ago with my wife.

Winemaking began in Santorini in 3500 BC, more than 5,000 thousand years ago. In the classic Greek era, the island was called Thera, while today is officially called Thira. The massive volcanic eruption of 1600 BC ultimately created island's caldera and shape as it is today. This explosion left behind a mixture of volcanic ash, pumice stone and pieces of solidified lava and sand, which together make up the soil of Santorini. This soil has little to no organic matter, but is rich in essential minerals, except potassium, thus creating wines with a naturally low pH level and high acidity. All of these factors contribute to creating agricultural products with a distinct profile.

Wines grown on volcanic soils also travel well. As such, when the Italians discovered Santorini in 1200 AD, they began trading wines from the island in amphoras. The wine that was traded the most was the delectably sweet Vinsanto dessert wine and it was exported throughout the Mediterranean and Europe. It was also sent back home to the Pope in Italy - a practice that still occurs today as The Pope receives the oldest and some of the finest Vinsanto directly from Santorini.

Most of the wine production on Santorini consists of white wines and dessert wines. Assyrtiko is the main white grape grown as it thrives in its birthplace, the volcanic island of Santorini. According to appellation rules, Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) Santorini white wines must contain a minimum of 75% Assyrtiko. Most often, it is produced as a single varietal wine, but can also contain the varietals Athiri and Aidani. Nykteri wines are also made with Assyrtiko and aged for at least three months is oak barrels. Vinsanto wines are naturally sweet dessert wines made from sun-dried grapes, must contain at least 51% Assyrtiko and be aged for at least 24 months in oak barrels, allowing the wine to develop additional complexities. PDO Santorini wines have great ageing potential due to their unique characteristics that stem from their volcanic origin, as well as their naturally high acidity and minerality.

All of the wines we tasted during the luncheon were from the Union of Santorini Cooperatives, also known as SantoWines. This co-operative was founded in 1947 and today it is the largest winery on the island, representing more than 1,200 active growers of grapes and other agricultural products. SantoWines is committed to safeguarding local traditional cultivations, producing high quality PDO Santorini wines, tomatoes, and fava, as well as promoting sustainable agriculture development.

In addition to the fine wines from Santorini, there were also a couple of other food items from this small and rich volcanic island. Santorini fava beans are scientifically known as "Lathyrus Clymenum L." and have been grown exclusively on the island for more than 3,500 years. These fava beans are considered a superfood as they have amazing nutritional value and contain more than 20% plant-based protein. Traditionally dried and aged under the sun, this legume has a rich, velvety texture and an earthy, slightly sweet taste.

Fava spread

Tomataki dip (top left) with Saganaki

Santorini tomatoes, commonly known as tomataki, are one-of-a-kind as they are dry-farmed on volcanic soils. They have thick skins with a ruffled shape, a concentrated full-body and a naturally sweet taste. Tomataki also have more vitamin C than regular tomatoes and more lycopene (antioxidant) than any other fruit or vegetable. Tomataki also makes a unique tomato paste, which we got to enjoy during lunch. It has a distinctive dark red colour, velvety texture, and a sweet and slightly minerally taste that was great for dipping with bread.

The wines, as well as the unique Santorini food items can all be purchased through Kolonaki Group. You can also purchase these wines at the LCBO Greece Destination outlet at 200 Danforth Avenue (Toronto), while the first Assyrtiko in the list below is widely available across Ontario.

Thank you Kolonaki Group for the invitation and the opportunity to try these delicious Santorini foods and wines. Lunch was delicious and I was pleasantly surprised to find that my lamb dish paired beautifully with these white wines. Wine reviews of these delicious wines are provided below and I trust that you will enjoy them as much as I dd. Opa!

Exohico (phyllo pastry and braised lamb) with Santo Grand Reserve Assyrtiko

Tasting Notes:

SANTO SANTORINI ASSYRTIKO 2017 - PDO Santorini, Greece (#459032) (XD) - $23.30
Medium+ intensity nose is clean with citrus, herbs and minerality with hints of saline. It is medium+ bodied and concentrated on the minerally-textured palate with nicely balanced aromas replays on the flavour profile. It is structured with vibrant acids, and has a long, juicy finish. Score: 89 pts

Santo Santorini Assyrtiko 2017 (89 pts)Santo Nykteri 2017 (90 pts)

SANTO NYKTERI 2017 - PDO Santorini, Greece (XD) - $33.95
A blend of 75% Assrytiko, 15% Athiri, and 10% Aidani that was harvested at night to keep freshness. Spent 3 months in oak barrels. This is ripe with roasted pineapple, stone fruit, ripe apple, pear, citrus, and melon, with subtle oak influence. All of which comes through on the vibrant palate with lively acids. Clean, elegant and nicely balanced with excellent finish length. Score: 90 pts

SANTO GRANDE RESERVE ASSYRTIKO 2016 - PDO Santorini, Greece (#814186) (XD) - $57.95
This Assyrtiko spent 1 year in French oak barrels. The medium-high intensity nose has a subtle oak influence with Meyer lemon citrus, baked apple, butter, and stone fruit aromas and flavours. It is medium-full bodied and structured with vanilla notes appearing on the palate. There is a nice mineral texture to go along with juicy acids. Long on the finish. Score: 91 pts

Santo Grande Reserve Assyrtiko 2016 (91 pts)Santo Vinsanto 2011 (89 pts)

SANTO VINSANTO 2011 - PDO Santorini, Greece (#654722) (S) (500 mL) - $67.95
Sun-dried 85% Assyrtiko and 15% Aidani grapes that spent 3 years in oak barrels. Deep orange-red-brown colour. Offers complex aromas of sweet spice, golden raisin, fig, dates, plum, honeyed, brown sugar and hints of hazelnut. Full-bodied with more raisin, fig, and sweet plum notes on the palate, with very good acidity and flavours lingering on the long finish. Score: 89 pts

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  • Date publishedWednesday, May 15, 2019

Cave de Tain Grand Classique Crozes-Hermitage 2015 (Rhône) - Wine Review

wine review is a lovely bottle that first arrived in VINTAGES nearly , and I am happy to report that this delicious red wine is coming back to LCBO VINTAGES on with a couple of years of bottle age under its belt.

It is produced by Cave de Tain, a large co-operative that was founded in 1933 by Louis Gambert de Loche on the Hermitage slope in northern Rhône. With 1,000 hectares of vineyards that are meticulously maintained in five prestigious appellations - Hermitage, Crozes-Hermitage, Saint-Joseph, Cornas, and Saint-Péray - Cave de Tain is the leading producer of Cru wines in the northern Rhône Valley. Even though Cave de Tain is a co-operative, they own all of their vineyards. This allows the winemakers to select and vinify from individual plots to create wines that express their rich, unique and diverse terroirs.

Cave de Tain is a pioneer in areas such as sustainable winegrowing (certified since 2009), conservation of their unique grape varieties, developing winemaking knowledge that is passed down over four generations of winemakers, and investing in cutting-edge tools.

Northern Rhône and the Crozes-Hermitage Cru are famous for its Syrah as the terroir here offers a very rich expression of the varietal. This particular Crozes-Hermitage comes from the multi-faceted terroirs of more than 30 different plots of vineyards. The terroir here consists of predominantly granite soils in a fresher climate in the north, while in the south there are pebbly and filtrating soils of the Rhône and Isère.

Cave de Tain Grand Classique Crozes-Hermitage 2015 (90 pts)

Tasting Note:

CAVE DE TAIN GRAND CLASSIQUE CROZES-HERMITAGE 2015 - AC, Rhône, France (#572230) (XD) - $24.95
Cool, medium-high intensity nose is fairly complex with peppery, black cherry, meaty, black plum, and savoury earthy aromas. It is quite dense on the full-ish bodied palate with smooth, refined tannins and just a touch of chalky grippiness. Nicely balanced with more black pepper, black cherry and meaty flavours, plus some stony minerality on the mid-palate. Acids are juicy. Excellent length on the long, earthy-minerally-savoury finish. Enjoy this classic northern Rhône Syrah over the next 3-5 years. Score: 90 pts

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  • Date publishedMonday, May 13, 2019

Rodenbach Vintage 2016 and Caractère Rouge (Belgium) - Beer Reviews

Rodenbach Ale
I recently had the opportunity to try these two fine, award-winning beers from Belgium.

The brewery was established by the Rodenbach family in 1821 in the West Flemish town of Roeselare, Belgium. Rodenbach beer owes it unique quality and masterful character to the oak casks in which it matures. Rodenbach is the archetypical Flemish red-brown ale from West Flanders. It is recognised as a regional product and is (probably) the most award-winning beer in the world.

It is interesting to note that the Vintage Ale is a 5-time GOLD World Beer Award winner that is hand-selected from the year's best foeder (i.e. large oak barrel) by brewmaster Rudi Ghequire who selected it exclusively for Ontario beer drinkers.

Both of these delicious beers are widely available at LCBO outlets across Ontario.

Tasting Notes:

RODENBACH VINTAGE 2016 - Belgium (#402578) (750 mL) - $12.75
Unblended fine ale aged for two years in hand-made standing oak casks (foeders). Brownish colour with tinges of orange. Malty, tangy citrus, sour red berry, and spice aromas. It is full-bodied on the palate with tangy, tart and sour red cherry, red berry and malty flavours along with some oak spice notes. Balanced sweet and sour flavours linger on the finish.

Rodenbach Vintage 2016

RODENBACH CARACTÈRE ROUGE - Belgium (#551622) (750 mL) - $8.70This beer starts as Rodenbach's Vintage Ale and is macerated with cranberries, raspberries, and sour cherries for six months. In the glass, this offers fragrant aromas of red berries and nutmeg spice. The palate is medium bodied with more red berry notes such as cranberry, cherry and raspberry flavours. There's also some flavours of tangy citrus, spice, and hints of caramel. Slightly creamy and well-balanced with a long, clean finish. A fruity and complex beer for summer or fall drinking.

Rodenbach Caractère Rouge

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  • Date publishedTuesday, May 7, 2019

Joiy Rosé Sparkling (Australia) - Wine Review

I am trying sparkling wine in a can. This is a new product that will be arriving at the LCBO very soon and will complement the Joiy Sparkling (Riesling) that is currently available.

I must admit, I have never tried wine from a can before and the traditionalist in me thinks that I will eventually drink it from a wine glass. However, I do see the advantages of packaging wine in a can as it is very portable, doesn't require any special openers, nor do you need a glass.

This particular sparkling wine is made by the New Zealand company Joiy in Australia using Australian wine. The winemaker is Chris Archer, an entrepreneur with over 25 years of winemaking experience. He wanted to create a truly unique product that broke the realms of the traditional wine industry. According to Chris, Joiy wines are "Delightfully chic and spirited, Joiy wines act as the catalyst for many social escapades. Joiy celebrates the day. The antidote to the ordinary, it sings of the promise of amusements yet to come. Wines to release a little mischief".

Joiy Rosé Sparkling

Tasting Note:

JOIY ROSÉ SPARKLING - Australia (#647313) (D) (250 mL) - $4.95
Fresh, candied cherry and strawberry aromas that follow through on the off-dry palate with some floral, citrus and bitter stemmy flavours. Crisp and lively acids balance the bubbles and helps keep the sweetness in check. Casual, easy drinking, and fun for a day at the beach or park.

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  • Date publishedMonday, May 6, 2019

Wine Picks LCBO VINTAGES Release May 11, 2019: People's Choice + New Zealand

LCBO Wine Picks: May 11, 2019 VINTAGES Release
The main theme from the upcoming May 11, 2019 LCBO VINTAGES Release is titled "The People's Choice", while the mini-theme focuses on wines from New Zealand. All of these wines, plus many more will arrive on LCBO VINTAGES shelves across Ontario by this Saturday.

We'll begin with the main theme titled "The People's Choice". This feature lists twenty wines that are grouped together as "Customer Favourites", of which five are included among my top wine picks. The lone white is a lovely, minerally Sancerre from Loire that is made with Sauvignon Blanc. The rose from Château Saint Roch is a blend of Grenache Noir, Grenache Gris, and Mourvèdre. Among the red wines, there is a nice, meaty Australian Shiraz that includes 2% Barbera. There is also the latest vintage of the La Ferme Du Mont Première Côte that is a blend of 60% Grenache, 30% Syrah, and 10% Mourvèdre, as well as the Monasterio de las Viñas which consists of Garnacha, Cariñena, and Tempranillo.

Roger & Didier Raimbault Sancerre 2017 (90 pts)Château Saint Roch Le Rosé 2018 (88 pts)

La Ferme Du Mont Première Côte Côtes du Rhône 2017 (88+ pts)Wits End Luna Shiraz 2017 (88 pts)

The mini-theme looks at wines from New Zealand, where producer's these days are fine-tuning the country's wine story by focusing on site selection. Of the ten wines featured, just two are included among my wine recommendations. The first wine is an organic Sauvignon Blanc from Marlborough, while the second wine is a lovely Pinot Noir from Central Otago.

Rapaura Springs Reserve Pinot Noir 2017 (90 pts)Momo Organic Sauvignon Blanc 2016 (90 pts)

For lovers of red wines, from the fantastic 2015 Bordeaux vintage is the Cap Royal Rouge that consists of 70% Merlot and 30% Cabernet Sauvignon, while the Château Le Boscq is a blend of 48% Cabernet Sauvignon, 47% Merlot, and 5% Petit Verdot. From Rhône, the Châteauneuf-du-Pape is mostly Grenache with small amounts of Syrah and Mourvèdre completing the blend - all of which was raised entirely in concrete tanks.

Château Le Boscq 2015 (92 pts)Tawse Limestone Ridge-North Estate Bottled Riesling 2016 (91 pts)

Among my white wine picks, the only blend is from Rioja that consists of Viura and other varietals, and also sees some time in barrel. The rest are all single varietal wines, including a Grillo, a barrel fermented Chardonnay, and a dry Riesling from Alsace. For those that prefer sweeter wines, you will enjoy the lovely Riesling from Niagara's Tawse Winery.

Enjoy my wine picks from this Release! Cheers!

Red Wine:

  • MONASTERIO DE LAS VIÑAS RESERVA GARNACHA / TEMPRANILLO / CARIÑENA 2014 - DOP Cariñena, Spain (#166579) (XD) - $14.95  88 pts  wine review
  • WITS END LUNA SHIRAZ 2017 - McLaren Vale, South Australia (#311258) (XD) - $17.95  88 pts  wine review
  • LA FERME DU MONT PREMIÈRE CÔTE CÔTES DU RHÔNE 2017 - AP, France (#251645) (XD) - $18.95  88+ pts  wine review
  • CAP ROYAL ROUGE 2015 - AC Bordeaux Supérieur, France (#486761) (XD) - $18.95
  • CREEKSIDE GAMAY 2017 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#646521) (XD) - $19.00  88+ pts  wine review
  • ALPHA BOX & DICE TAROT GRENACHE 2017 - McLaren Vale, South Australia (#632612) (XD) - $21.95
  • RAPAURA SPRINGS RESERVE PINOT NOIR 2017 - Central Otago, South Island, New Zealand (#645184) (XD) - $24.95  90 pts  wine review
  • DAMILANO LECINQUEVIGNE BAROLO 2013 - DOCG, Piedmont, Italy (#454488) (XD) - $45.95
  • CHÂTEAU LE BOSCQ 2015 - Cru Bourgeois, AC Saint-Estèphe, Bordeaux, France (#633891) (XD) - $51.95  92 pts  wine review
  • LE PARVIS CHÂTEAUNEUF-DU-PAPE 2016 - AC, Rhône, France (#638551) (XD) - $53.95
Creekside Gamay 2017 (88+ pts)

White Wine:

  • FEUDO MACCARI OLLI GRILLO 2017 - DOC Sicilia, Italy (#477877) (XD) - $15.95
  • EDGEBASTON CHARDONNAY 2017 - WO Stellenbosch, South Africa (#636019) (XD) - $15.95  88 pts  wine review
  • OHH POITOU SAUVIGNON BLANC 2017 - AP Haut-Poitou, Loire, France (#635854) (XD) - $16.95  88 pts  wine review
  • MOMO ORGANIC SAUVIGNON BLANC 2016 - Marlborough, South Island, New Zealand (#009167) (XD) - $19.95  90 pts  wine review
  • TAWSE LIMESTONE RIDGE-NORTH ESTATE BOTTLED RIESLING 2016 - VQA Twenty Mile Bench, Niagara Escarpment, Ontario, Canada (#431593) (M) - $25.95  91 pts  wine review
  • ROGER & DIDIER RAIMBAULT SANCERRE 2017 - AC, Loire, France (#082255) (XD) - $31.95  90 pts  wine review
  • CVNE MONOPOLE CLÁSICO 2015 - DOCa Rioja, Spain (#489583) (XD) - $31.95
  • TRIMBACH RÉSERVE RIESLING 2016 - AC Alsace, France (#247023) (XD) - $34.95  FE
Edgebaston Chardonnay 2017 (88 pts)Ohh Poitou Sauvignon Blanc 2017 (88 pts)

Rosé Wine:

  • CABRIZ ROSÉ 2018 - DOC Dão, Portugal (#030445) (XD) - $13.95  88 pts  wine review
  • CHÂTEAU SAINT ROCH LE ROSÉ 2018 - AP Côtes du Roussillon, Midi, France (#557900) (XD) - $17.95  88 pts  wine review
  • MIRAVAL ROSÉ 2018 - AP Côtes de Provence, France (#342584 / #490870) (XD) - $24.95 / $48.95  90 pts  wine review
Miraval Rosé 2018 (90 pts)Cabriz Rosé 2018 (88 pts)

Sparkling Wine:

  • TAWSE SPARK LIMESTONE RIDGE ORGANIC SPARKLING RIESLING 2016 - Traditional method, VQA Twenty Mile Bench, Niagara Escarpment, Ontario, Canada (#370361) (D) - $20.95  89 pts  wine review
  • ANGELS GATE ARCHANGEL BRUT CHARDONNAY 2013 - Traditional method, VQA Beamsville Bench, Niagara Escarpment, Ontario, Canada (#227009) (XD) - $29.95  90 pts  wine review
Angels Gate Archangel Brut Chardonnay 2013 (90 pts)Tawse Spark Limestone Ridge Organic Sparkling Riesling 2016 (89 pts)

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