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  • Date publishedSunday, February 23, 2020

Carpineto Vino Nobile di Montepulciano Riserva Vertical Wine Tasting at EVOO Ristorante

, I had the pleasure of tasting a fine vertical of Vino Nobile di Montepulciano Riserva wines from Carpineto. The tasting was led by the owner of Carpineto, Antonio Mario Zaccheo and hosted by Univins & Spirits at EVOO Ristorante in Toronto.

Carpineto was founded in 1967 by Antonio and his business partner Giovanni Carlo Sacchet, setting out to produce internationally renowned Chianti Classico wines. Being wine fanatics, they saw enormous potential in the Tuscan soil and knew that applying cutting-edge technology could further help produce quality wines. Over the years, the intensity, integrity and consistency of their wines have earned Carpineto a solid reputation among consumers and critics alike.

The wines of Carpineto are grounded in tradition, influencing everything from sustainable winegrowing to how wine cellars are maintained. Carpineto wines are the fruit of an age-old connection to the land that bears its grapes and gives the wine it's unique qualities. all the while using advanced scientific and oenological processes and techniques which respect the territorial integrity of the land.

Carpineto Vino Nobile di Montepulciano 2015 - 2011 vertical wine tasting

Carpineto has five estates within Tuscany - two in Chianti Classico DOCG, and one each in Brunello di Montalcino DOCG, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano DOCG, and Maremma DOC.

In 1966, not long after the DOC (Denominazione di origine controllata) system was implemented in Italy, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano became one of the country’s first DOC wines. And in 1980, when the DOCG (Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita) system - an even higher designation of quality - was implemented, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano was again one of the first appellations to receive this status. The wines of Vino Nobile di Montepulciano are made primarily with Sangiovese (minimum 70%), known locally as Prugnollo Gentile, and often blended with Canaiolo and other permitted varietals.

Carpineto's Montepulciano Estate sits on softly rolling hills, at an elevation of 250 metres, with 84.5 hectares of dry-farmed vineyards planted across 184 tillable hectares. These vineyards are planted with new clones of Sangiovese and international grape varietals that are dedicated to their age-worthy wines, as well as their Appodiati single vineyard programs. Modern trellising methods are used in the vineyards with clones and rootstocks varying according to soil type.

In addition, Carpineto also has 12 hectares of olive groves on the Montepulciano Estate planted to the classic Tuscan varieties of Frantoio, Moraiolo, Leccino and Pendolino that are used to produce the Estate Extra Virgin Olive Oil. We got to taste their olive oil at the luncheon and it was delicious!

Arugula Salad with Feta and Crostini paired with Carpineto WinesPappardelle with Lamb paired with Carpineto Wines

The estate also contains an old farmhouse complex that is complete with vinification and ageing cellars that date back to the 1700's and are still in use today. Carpineto uses primarily oval Slavonian oak casks and small barrels for their ageing program. In 2010, a new state-of-the-art winery with a ventilated wooden roof and an integrated solar panel system was inaugurated to help reduce their environmental footprint.

The Carpineto Vino Nobile di Montepulciano Riserva wines comes from vineyards that are planted to a minimum of 70% Sangiovese (Prugnolo Gentile) and a maximum of 30% Canaiolo and other authorized grape varietals. It is aged for two years in large 5,500 litre Slavonian oak barrels, with a small part in French oak barrels.

In addition to tasting the lovely Vino Nobile di Montepulciano Riserva wines, I also got to taste the 2012 Brunello di Montalcino (92 pts), 2015 Chianti Classico Gran Selezione (92 pts), and the 2015 Chianti Classico (88 pts).

Thank you very much to Univins & Spirits for the opportunity to taste these wonderful wines. Please contact Univins in order to purchase any of these wines as all were available for purchase at the time of the tasting.

EVOO Ristorante Biscotti with Carpineto Wines

Tasting Notes:

CARPINETO VINO NOBILE DI MONTEPULCIANO RISERVA 2015 - DOCG, Tuscany, Italy (#368910) (XD) - $32.95
From an excellent vintage, this has a fragrant, medium-high to highly aromatic and complex nose of red and black cherry, oak spice, earthy, barnyard, licorice, and leathery aromas with touches of violet and some prune notes. It's medium-full bodied with structured, dusty, and fine-grained tannins. Nice aroma replays on the flavour profile, turning savoury with more dark cherry/berry notes prominent. It has juicy, mouth-watering acids and a long, structured finish. Score: 91 pts

Carpineto Vino Nobile di Montepulciano Riserva 2015 (91 pts)Carpineto Vino Nobile di Montepulciano Riserva 2013 (89 pts)

CARPINETO VINO NOBILE DI MONTEPULCIANO RISERVA 2013 - DOCG, Tuscany, Italy (#368910) (XD) - $34.95
From a demanding vintage, the shy nose offers woody, dark berry, and dark plum aromas. It's medium-full bodied on the palate with soft, dusty textured tannins that have a touch of grippiness. It has vibrant acids and closes out with very good length on the finish. Score: 89 pts

CARPINETO VINO NOBILE DI MONTEPULCIANO RISERVA 2012 - DOCG, Tuscany, Italy (#368910) (XD) - $32.95
From a vintage that promises excellent varietal and terroir expression, the 2012 is showing some maturity at this point, with dark berry, plum, forest floor, and hints of floral aromas, with more dark berry, earthy, and wood spice flavours showing up on the medium-full bodied palate. It has very good, balanced acidity which is supported by smooth, fine tannins that are structured with some grip. Evolving nicely with very good length on the finish. Score: 91 pts

Carpineto Vino Nobile di Montepulciano Riserva 2012 (91 pts)Carpineto Vino Nobile di Montepulciano Riserva 2011 (90+ pts)

CARPINETO VINO NOBILE DI MONTEPULCIANO RISERVA 2011 - DOCG, Tuscany, Italy (#368910) (XD) - $32.95
Medium-high intensity nose has dusty, earthy, forest floor, woodsy, dark berry, blackberry with some floral, savoury, and leather aromas that continued to evolve in the glass. The medium-full bodied has very good acidity with nicely balanced aroma replays supported by smooth, fine, dusty tannins that still have a supple grip. Stony mineral joins the currant, dark berry, and sweet spice flavours on the long finish. Score: 90+ pts

CARPINETO VINO NOBILE DI MONTEPULCIANO RISERVA 2010 - DOCG, Tuscany, Italy (#368910) (XD) - $29.95
Lovely floral, savoury, dried cherry, and sweet baking spice aromas with savoury notes more prominent on the full-bodied palate. It's very smooth with refined tannins that still have some structure and chalky textured characters. Nicely balanced throughout with very good acidity. Excellent finish length with savoury and earthy flavours. Still quite youthful. Enjoy over the next 5-6 years. Score: 92 pts

Carpineto Vino Nobile di Montepulciano Riserva 2010 (92 pts)Carpineto Vino Nobile di Montepulciano Riserva 2007 (90+ pts)

CARPINETO VINO NOBILE DI MONTEPULCIANO RISERVA 2007 - DOCG, Tuscany, Italy (#368910) (XD) - $29.95
From a hot vintage, this has a mature, medium intensity nose with savoury, leathery, barnyard, and earthy aromas with hints of floral and cherry. It's full-bodied with smooth, refined tannins and balanced acids. Nice aroma replays on the flavour profile that becomes savoury on the long finish. Still drinking quite well. Score: 90+ pts

Colour shows some brown on the edges. Medium-high intensity nose offers some pruney, dark berry, and savoury aromas that evolves in the glass, adding lovely dried cherry and floral complexity. It's full-bodied and quite dense on the palate with very good fruit concentration and lovely aroma replays. Tannins are smooth and a touch grippy, while juicy acids are still very good. Excellent length with forest floor and savoury notes. Will continue to drink well for a few more years. Score: 92 pts

Carpineto Vino Nobile di Montepulciano Riserva 1995 (92 pts)Carpineto Vino Nobile di Montepulciano Riserva 1990 (93 pts)

The medium-high intensity, mature nose is all earthy, savoury, and nutty with subtle wood spice aromas. Full-bodied and smooth on the palate with refined tannins that are very nicely integrated. It still has fresh acids and very good fruit, showing some primary, secondary, and tertiary flavours. Prune, dried fruit, and nutty flavours linger on the long finish. Still has enough life to enjoy over the next 4-5 years. Score: 93 pts

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  • Date publishedTuesday, February 18, 2020

February 22, 2020 LCBO VINTAGES Release Wine Picks: Wintry Reds

LCBO Wine Picks: February 22, 2020 VINTAGES Release
The February 22, 2020 LCBO VINTAGES Release is basically another mono-thematic Release, focusing on red wines for winter drinking, while the feature on local talent looks award-winning wines from Ontario. All of these wines, plus those from the main Release will be on VINTAGES shelves at LCBO outlets across Ontario by this Saturday.

Of the thirteen wines featured as part of the Wintry Red Wines theme, four wines are included among my top wine picks. First up is a lovely Syrah (that includes trace amounts of Mourvèdre and Viognier) from South Africa. From Australia, there is a very nice old vines GSM blend that consists of 65% Grenache, 26% Shiraz, and 12% Mourvèdre, as well as a straight-up Shiraz from McLaren Vale. Lastly, there is a nice blend of 80% Cabernet Franc and 20% Tannat from Uruguay.

Noble Hill Syrah 2016 (90 pts)Torbreck Old Vines Grenache/Shiraz/Mourvèdre 2017 (90 pts)

Sister's Run Epiphany Shiraz 2017 (88 pts)Garzón Estate Cabernet Franc/Tannat 2017 (89 pts)

The feature on local talent focuses on four award-winning wines from Ontario, three of which are included among my top wine picks. All three are gold medal winners at either one of the local competitions - the National Wine Awards of Canada or the Ontario Wine Awards. First up is a lovely Icewine made with Gewürztraminer - a grape not commonly used for making Icewine, but can make some brilliant Icewines with distinctive characters. There is also a lovely, perennially award-winning Niagara Chardonnay, as well as a brilliant Traditional Method Sparkling Rosé that is made with 100% Pinot Noir.

Hidden Bench Estate Chardonnay 2017 (91 pts)Megalomaniac Bubblehead Sparkling Rosé (91 pts)

Lakeview Cellars Gewürztraminer Icewine 2017 (90 pts)

From my top red wine recommendations from this Release, blends include the latest vintage of the consistently delicious Château Saint-Roch Chimères, which consists of 65% Grenache, 30% Syrah, and 5% Carignan, while the Bordeaux red is a blend of 54% Merlot, 43% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 3% Petit Verdot. Highlights from the single varietal red wines includes the Vista Flores Malbec which is also the Wine of the Month, as well as a lovely Nebbiolo and the Brunello di Montalcino that is made with 100% Sangiovese.

Château Saint-Roch Chimères 2017 (89 pts)Château du Breuil 2014 (90 pts)

Zuccardi Apelación Vista Flores Malbec 2017 (91 pts)

Enrico Serafino Picotener Nebbiolo 2017 (91 pts)Il Poggione Brunello di Montalcino 2013 (92 pts)

Among my top white wine picks, all are single varietal wines. There are a pair of lovely Sauvignon Blanc wines from New Zealand - one is clearly of higher quality than the other, but both are delicious, and it would be interesting to compare each other side-by-side while also including the Sancerre (which is also made with Sauvignon Blanc) in the tasting. Other white wines include a Falanghina from Campania, a Verdicchio from Marche, and a Chardonnay from Australia. For sweet wine lovers, the Mosel Riesling is your best bet, although it does veer towards a slightly dry finish.

Greywacke Sauvignon Blanc 2018 (91 pts)Mud House Sauvignon Blanc 2018 (89 pts)

Janare Senete Falanghina del Sannio 2017 (90+ pts)Fontevecchia Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi Classico Superiore 2017 (88 pts)

Xanadu DJL Chardonnay 2018 (89 pts)Clemens Busch Nonnengarten Pündericher Ortswein Riesling 2016 (91 pts)

Enjoy my top wine recommendations from this Release! Cheers!

Red Wine:

  • GARZÓN ESTATE CABERNET FRANC/TANNAT 2017 - Uruguay (#12651) (XD) - $16.95  89 pts  wine review
  • SISTER'S RUN EPIPHANY SHIRAZ 2017 - Epiphany Vineyard, McLaren Vale, South Australia (#269464) (XD) - $17.95  88 pts  wine review
  • VIÑA TARAPACÁ GRAN RESERVA CARMENÈRE 2017 - Maipo Valley, Chile (#57513) (XD) - $17.95  89 pts  wine review
  • SALENTEIN RESERVE MALBEC 2017 - Uco Valley, Mendoza, Argentina (#640854) (XD) - $17.95  89 pts  wine review
  • NOBLE HILL SYRAH 2016 - WO Simonsberg-Paarl, South Africa (#12686) (XD) - $18.95  90 pts  wine review
  • CHÂTEAU SAINT-ROCH CHIMÈRES 2017 - AP Côtes du Roussillon-Villages, Midi, France (#119354) (XD) - $19.95  89 pts  wine review
  • MONTERRA CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2016 - McLaren Vale, South Australia (#12835) (XD) - $19.95  89 pts  wine review
  • CHÂTEAU DU BREUIL 2014 - AC Haut-Médoc, Bordeaux, France (#633081) (XD) - $24.95  90 pts  wine review
  • TORBRECK OLD VINES GRENACHE / SHIRAZ / MOURVÈDRE 2017 - Barossa Valley, South Australia (#10223) (XD) - $24.95  90 pts  wine review
  • ZUCCARDI APELACIÓN VISTA FLORES MALBEC 2017 - Uco Valley, Mendoza, Argentina (#11770) (XD) - $24.95  91 pts  wine review
  • ENRICO SERAFINO PICOTENER NEBBIOLO 2017 - DOC Langhe, Piedmont, Italy (#12736) (XD) - $38.95  91 pts  wine review
  • IL POGGIONE BRUNELLO DI MONTALCINO 2013 - DOCG, Tuscany, Italy (#551176) (XD) - $72.95  92 pts  wine review
Salentein Reserve Malbec 2017 (89 pts)Viña Tarapacá Gran Reserva Carmenère 2017 (89 pts)

Monterra Cabernet Sauvignon 2016 (89 pts)

White Wine:

  • FONTEVECCHIA VERDICCHIO DEI CASTELLI DI JESI CLASSICO SUPERIORE 2017 - DOC, Marche, Italy (#11140) (XD) - $14.95  88 pts  wine review
  • BELLINGHAM HOMESTEAD SERIES THE OLD ORCHARDS CHENIN BLANC 2018 - WO Paarl, South Africa (#484055) (XD) - $17.95
  • MUD HOUSE SAUVIGNON BLANC 2018 - Marlborough, South Island, New Zealand (#190454) (XD) - $19.95  89 pts  wine review
  • JANARE SENETE FALANGHINA DEL SANNIO 2017 - DOP, Campania, Italy (#556787) (XD) - $19.95  90+ pts  wine review
  • XANADU DJL CHARDONNAY 2018 - Margaret River, Western Australia (#12653) (XD) - $24.95  89 pts  wine review
  • GREYWACKE SAUVIGNON BLANC 2018 - Marlborough, South Island, New Zealand (#164228) (XD) - $24.95  91 pts  wine review
  • HIDDEN BENCH ESTATE CHARDONNAY 2017 - VQA Beamsville Bench, Niagara Escarpment, Ontario, Canada (#68817) (XD) - $29.95  91 pts  wine review
  • JEAN-MAX ROGER CUVÉE GENÈSE SANCERRE 2018 - AC, Loire, France (#189126) (XD) - $30.95
  • CLEMENS BUSCH NONNENGARTEN PÜNDERICHER ORTSWEIN RIESLING 2016 - VDP, Mosel, Germany (#13247) (M) - $37.95  91 pts  wine review

Sparkling Wine:

  • MEGALOMANIAC BUBBLEHEAD SPARKLING ROSÉ - Traditional method, VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#363655) (D) - $34.95  91 pts  wine review

Dessert Wine:

  • LAKEVIEW CELLARS GEWÜRZTRAMINER ICEWINE 2017 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#547703) (S) (200 mL) - $34.95  90 pts  wine review


  • BURMESTER 10-YEAR-OLD TAWNY PORT - DOP, Portugal (#223958) (S) - $29.95  91 pts  wine review
Burmester 10-Year-Old Tawny Port (91 pts)

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  • Date publishedFriday, February 14, 2020

Zuccardi Apelación Vista Flores Malbec 2017 (Argentina) - Wine Review

For celebrations, wine review is this lovely, brand new Malbec from Zuccardi Wines that will arrive in LCBO VINTAGES on . It is also featured as the Wine of the Month in this Release and will be widely available at LCBO outlets throughout Ontario.

Zuccardi is one of the leaders and most well-known names in Argentine winemaking. Current winemaker Sebastián Zuccardi grew up in a family that had a strong visionary and innovative spirit. Since 1963, when his grandfather planted the first hectares of grapevines in Maipú, Mendoza, the Zuccardi family has not stopped growing and developing.

Sebastien handcrafted this Malbec with fruit from their Vista Flores Estate which is located in the district of Tunuyan in the central-western part of the Uco Valley, which itself is located in the Mendoza wine region.

The 55 hectares of meticulously worked vineyards at the Vista Flores Estate are located 3215 feet (980 metres) above sea level and planted to mainly Malbec, Chardonnay, Syrah, and Cabernet Sauvignon. For vine training, both the vertical conduction system and the Parral Zuccardi conduction system are used. The Zuccardi vine training system elevates the the vineyards to create an arched green web that allows the process of photosynthesis to develop in the perfect conditions. Additionally, it also protects the grapes from the hours of highest sun radiation by having the right density of leaves and cluster distribution, and also facilitates protection against frosts.

This particular Malbec was carefully harvested in bunches and gravity-fed into tanks, followed by fermentation with indigenous yeasts. After fermentation, skin maceration took place for 20 days. Lastly, after undergoing complete malolactic fermentation, it was aged in concrete tanks and oak barrels.

Zuccardi Apelación Vista Flores Malbec 2017 (91 pts)

Tasting Note:

ZUCCARDI APELACIÓN VISTA FLORES MALBEC 2017 - Uco Valley, Mendoza, Argentina (#011770) (XD) - $24.95
Medium+ intensity nose has a lovely dark berry, blackberry and black cherry core surrounded by stony mineral and black pepper spice aromas. It is medium-full bodied on the palate with more succulent dark berry and pepper spice flavours flecked with stony minerals and hints of purple fruits. Spicy on the mid-palate with fresh and vibrant acids, while the tannins are gritty and a bit tight at the moment. Juicy and long on the finish with with stony mineral, dark berry, and violet notes. A lovely Malbec that should improve in 2 years and enjoyed over the next 5-6 years. Score: 91 pts

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  • Date publishedMonday, February 10, 2020

Greywacke Sauvignon Blanc 2018 (New Zealand) - Wine Review

wine review is a lovely Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand that will be arriving in LCBO VINTAGES on .

It is produced by the legendary Kevin Judd at Greywacke - his Marlborough label on the South Island of New Zealand. Greywacke is the fulfillment of a long-held dream, a name adopted by Kevin and his wife Kimberley for their first Marlborough vineyard located in Rapaura which has a high prevalence of rounded greywacke stones in the soils of the vineyard. I am excited to be visiting New Zealand later this month and will be meeting up with Kevin at Greywacke and hope to see these stones in person. Stay tuned.

The grapes for this Sauvignon Blanc were sourced from various prime vineyard sites in Marlborough's Southern Valleys, the central Wairau Plains (specifically in Woodbourne, Renwick, and Rapaura), and a spectacular river terrace site in the upper Awatere Valley. Soil types vary from the young alluvial soils of Rapaura, Renwick and the upper Awatere, which contain high proportions of New Zealand’s ubiquitous greywacke river stones, to the older and denser clay-loams of the Southern Valleys.

The previous three vintages of the Greywacke Sauvignon Blanc that I tasted have all been amazing, high-quality wines - and perhaps not really surprising given who is behind these wines - so, I fully expect this latest vintage to also be delicious! The 2018 vintage was very warm and humid, but also very wet, resulting in a challenging year that promises to deliver quality wines. Let's see how the 2018 is tasting tonight...

Greywacke Sauvignon Blanc 2018 (91 pts)

Tasting Note:

GREYWACKE SAUVIGNON BLANC 2018 - Marlborough, South Island, New Zealand (#164228) (XD) - $24.95
Screw cap. Ripe, medium-high intensity nose delivers guava, kiwi, passion fruit, tropical fruit, gooseberry, and citrus aromas with a fine mineral underpinning. It is medium-bodied with good weight to the fruit and slightly creamy textured. Zesty citrus, ripe kiwi, guava, and passion fruit flavours with touches of spice and floral are lifted by the fresh, vibrant acidity. Fine mineral and lime zest notes linger on the long, crisp finish, with excellent length. Lovely, as always. Score: 91 pts

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  • Date publishedFriday, February 7, 2020

Klippenkop Pinotage 2018 (South Africa) - Wine Review

red wine review is a Pinotage from South Africa that newly arrived at the LCBO last month as part of the LCBO VINTAGES Release.

It is produced by Robertson Winery, a large wine producer situated just outside the town of Robertson, in the Breede River Valley in southwestern South Africa. The winery was established in 1941 in a stone church that was built by the community and serviced by missionaries, but was no longer in use and converted for use in winemaking and cellaring operations.

Robertson is nestled in a valley of abundance, from the sun-drenched mountain vineyards growing select varietals to plentiful river valley vineyards heavy with fruit. The Breede River is the life source of the Robertson Valley and is one of the most important rivers in the Western Cape. It flows from the Skurweberg to the sea at Witsands, and is joined by hundreds of streams off the surrounding Langeberg mountains along the way. They irrigate their vines from this vital artery.

This particular wine gets its name from the geographical term 'klippen', which refers to an outcrop of rock, while 'kop' in Afrikaans translates to either 'hillock' or 'head'.

Klippenkop Pinotage 2018 (85 pts)

Tasting Note:

KLIPPENKOP PINOTAGE 2018 - WO Robertson, South Africa (#012428) (XD) - $13.95
Screw cap. Matured on wood for 3 months, this has the distinctive wood-influenced smoky, coffee, and mocha chocolate nose so commonly found in South African Pinotage. The light-to-medium bodied palate is sour and tart with more coffee and mocha chocolate flavours. Acids are succulent, while the lingering finish has more coffee and mocha chocolate notes. Coffee lovers will probably enjoy this. Score: 85 pts

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  • Date publishedWednesday, February 5, 2020

February 8, 2020 LCBO VINTAGES Release Wine Picks: Sun, Soil & Soaring Heights

LCBO Wine Picks: February 8, 2020 VINTAGES Release
The upcoming LCBO VINTAGES Release is yet another mono-thematic Release, but this time focuses on the exciting topic of how the Sun, Soil, and Soaring Heights shapes the wines we love and enjoy. All the wines from the theme, as well as of the rest of the Release will be on shelves by this .

The first concept from the theme is the topic of elevation and how it affects the grapes. Planting vineyards at higher altitudes allows the grapes to grow at cooler temperatures with increased diurnal variation, and provides excellent drainage. Cooler temperatures and high diurnal variation allows the grapes to slow down the ripening process and preserve it's natural acidity - which in turn provides freshness in wines. There are five wines featured as part of this concept and three are included among my top wine picks. The Riserva Chianti Classico is a blend of mostly Sangiovese that was grown at 300 metres altitude. From 360 to 540 metres elevation, the Douro red is a blend 70% Touriga Nacional and 30% Aragonez/Tinta Roriz. Lastly, the Nerello Mascalese and Nerello Cappuccio off the volcanic slopes of Mount Etna is grown at 550 to 700 metres above sea level.

Tornatore Nerello Mascalese/Nerello Cappuccio 2017 (91 pts)Carpineto Riserva Chianti Classico 2015 (90 pts)

Casca Mountain Vineyards 1808 Reserva 2016 (89 pts)

The second concept looks at the proximity of a vineyard to a bodies of water. Warm climates such as those found in South Africa and Chile, among other places, can grow high-quality cool-climate varietals such as Chardonnay and Syrah due to the cooling breezes and fog generated by the nearby oceans. Rivers can help moderate temperatures by reflecting sunlight back into the vineyard, which in turn increases sun exposure and helps with the grape ripening process. Of the five wines listed as part of this concept, a couple of fine examples include a Syrah from Chile and a Chardonnay from South Africa.

Casa Silva Lolol Gran Terroir de la Costa Syrah 2016 (90 pts)Le Riche Chardonnay 2017 (89 pts)

For the third concept, the focus is on exposure to the sun - the driving force behind grape growing. Too much sun, and wines can become overripe, while too little sun and the grapes lack flavour, among other things. Vineyards grown on mountains, hillsides, and valleys create dynamic mesoclimates, resulting in some grapes getting more sun exposure than others. Winemakers can then use grapes from various locations - obtaining fruit characters from one location and blending with the power and concentration from another location. Two of the five wines from this concept are among my wine recommendations - a lovely Gigondas which is a blend of 65% Grenache, 20% Mourvèdre, and 15% Syrah, and a medium sweet Riesling from Niagara.

Pierre Amadieu Domaine Grand Romane Cuvée Prestige Vieilles Vignes Gigondas 2017 (92 pts)Palatine Hills Riesling 2016 (89 pts)

The fourth and final concept looks at how dirt affects the wines. The makeup of the vineyard soil is critical to the flavour and quality of the wine. Depth, fertility (the poorer the better), drainage, texture, and composition are just some of the many facets of soil and how it impacts wine growing. One of the most important aspects of the soil is how difficult a vine's roots need to work through the soil to get nutrients and water - the harder it needs to work, the higher the quality of the wine. The concept of minerality also comes in to play here. Two of the four wines featured here are recommended - a lovely Sancerre (Sauvignon Blanc) from silex soils, and a nice Chablis (Chardonnay) from Kimmeridgian limestone soils.

Château de Fontaine-Audon Sancerre 2018 (90 pts)François Martenot Les Marouettes Chablis 2018 (89 pts)

Top red wine picks from the rest of the Release include a pair of lovely Malbec wines that would be great to compare and taste side-by-side. From Languedoc there are a pair of Grenache-Syrah blends - the Puech-Haut is a blend of 55% Grenache and 45% Syrah, while the Domaine des Vals is a blend of 75% Grenache and 25% Syrah that was raised entirely in concrete tanks. Lastly, if you want to go off the beaten path, try the Cirò wine from Calabria that is made with the Gagliappo varietal.

Catena Lunlunta Old Vines Appellation Malbec 2017 (91 pts)TintoNegro Limestone Block Malbec 2015 (89 pts)

Puech-Haut Prestige Saint-Drézéry 2017 (90 pts)Domaine des Vals Corbières 2017 (88 pts)

Tenuta Iuzzolini Cirò Rosso Classico 2017 (87 pts)

Among my sparkling wine picks, the Champagne is a blend of 70% Chardonnay and 30% Pinot Noir, while the Brut Rosé is a blend of 54% Chardonnay and 46% Pinot Noir.

13th Street Cuvée Brut Rosé (89 pts)

Enjoy my wine recommendations from this Release!

Red Wine:

  • DOMAINE DES VALS CORBIÈRES 2017 - AP, Languedoc, France (#12981) (XD) - $14.95  88 pts  wine review
  • CASCA MOUNTAIN VINEYARDS 1808 RESERVA 2016 - DOC Douro, Portugal (#11149) (XD) - $16.95  89 pts  wine review
  • TENUTA IUZZOLINI CIRÒ ROSSO CLASSICO 2017 - DOC, Calabria, Italy (#13034) (D) - $17.95  87 pts  wine review
  • CASTEL DEL LAGO VALPOLICELLA RIPASSO SUPERIORE 2017 - DOC, Veneto, Italy (#12411) (D) - $17.95  89 pts  wine review
  • TINTONEGRO LIMESTONE BLOCK MALBEC 2015 - Mendoza, Argentina (#404137) (XD) - $19.95  89 pts  wine review
  • TRAPICHE MEDALLA CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2016 - Mendoza, Argentina (#568865) (XD) - $19.95  89 pts  wine review
  • CASA SILVA LOLOL GRAN TERROIR DE LA COSTA SYRAH 2016 - Certified sustainable, DO Colchagua Valley, Chile (#10806) (XD) - $19.95  90 pts  wine review
Trapiche Medalla Cabernet Sauvignon 2016 (89 pts)Castel del Lago Valpolicella Ripasso Superiore 2017 (89 pts)

  • CATENA LUNLUNTA OLD VINES APPELLATION MALBEC 2017 - Mendoza, Argentina (#11769) (XD) - $22.95  91 pts  wine review
  • TORNATORE NERELLO MASCALESE/NERELLO CAPPUCCIO 2017 - DOC Etna Rosso, Sicily, Italy (#487090) (XD) - $23.95  91 pts  wine review
  • CARPINETO RISERVA CHIANTI CLASSICO 2015 - DOCG, Tuscany, Italy (#47118) (XD) - $28.95  90 pts  wine review
  • PUECH-HAUT PRESTIGE SAINT-DRÉZÉRY 2017 - AP Languedoc, France (#12986) (XD) - $29.95  90 pts  wine review
  • PIERRE AMADIEU DOMAINE GRAND ROMANE CUVÉE PRESTIGE VIEILLES VIGNES GIGONDAS 2017 - AC, Rhône, France (#968693) (XD) - $32.95  92 pts  wine review
  • SOUTHERN RIGHT PINOTAGE 2018 - WO Hemel-en-Aarde Valley, Walker Bay, South Africa (#486167) (XD) - $34.95  FE

White Wine:

  • FRANÇOIS MARTENOT L'OR DE LA TERRE BOURGOGNE ALIGOTÉ 2018 - AP, Burgundy, France (#11912) (XD) - $15.95  88 pts  wine review
  • UMANI RONCHI VELLODORO PECORINO 2018 - IGT Terre di Chieti, Abruzzo, Italy (#289553) (XD) - $16.95  88 pts  wine review
  • PALATINE HILLS RIESLING 2016 - VQA Niagara Lakeshore, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada (#520395) (M) - $17.95  89 pts  wine review
  • ERADUS SAUVIGNON BLANC 2019 - Awatere Valley, Marlborough, South Island, New Zealand (#225557) (XD) - $19.95
  • LE RICHE CHARDONNAY 2017 - WO Stellenbosch, South Africa (#12431) (XD) - $19.95  89 pts  wine review
  • SOHO WHITE COLLECTION PINOT GRIS 2018 - Marlborough, South Island, New Zealand (#536169) (XD) - $19.95
  • FRANÇOIS MARTENOT LES MAROUETTES CHABLIS 2018 - AP, Burgundy, France (#11913) (XD) - $24.95  89 pts  wine review
  • TUPARI BOULDER ROWS SAUVIGNON BLANC 2015 - Awatere Valley, Marlborough, South Island, New Zealand (#12008) (XD) - $31.95  90 pts  wine review
  • CHÂTEAU DE FONTAINE-AUDON SANCERRE 2018 - AP, Loire, France (#745893) (XD) - $32.95  90 pts  wine review
Tupari Boulder Rows Sauvignon Blanc 2015 (90 pts)François Martenot L'Or de La Terre Bourgogne Aligoté 2018 (88 pts)

Umani Ronchi Vellodoro Pecorino 2018 (88 pts)

Sparkling Wine:

  • 13TH STREET CUVÉE BRUT ROSÉ - Traditional method, VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#147504) (XD) - $29.95  89 pts  wine review
  • VILMART & CIE GRAND CELLIER 1ER CRU BRUT CHAMPAGNE - AC, France (#65110) (D) - $92.95

Dessert Wine:

  • CHÂTEAU DES CHARMES VIDAL ICEWINE 2017 - VQA Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada (#565861) (S) (200 mL) - $28.95  90+ pts  wine review
Château des Charmes Vidal Icewine 2017 (90+ pts)

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