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  • Date publishedSaturday, May 30, 2020

Cave de Tain L'Hermitage Cornas Arènes Sauvages 2005 (Rhône) - Wine Review

For wine review, I was going through my cellar and found this nugget that I acquired back in . Looking back on my tasting note from 2013, I mentioned that it would hold for another 5 years, so I am now 2 years beyond and hoping that this beautiful Cornas Syrah is still drinkable.

Founded in 1933, Cave de Tain is a pioneer and leader in the northern Rhône with its prestigious cru wines, sustainable viticulture, and conservation of their unique varieties. Knowledge has been passed down over four generations of winegrowers and today they are led by a team of young winemakers who have a desire to craft wines that express the diverse terroirs. Cave de Tain is recognized today as a jewel in the crown of the northern Rhône Valley.

Cave de Tain is located between Valence and Lyon, laying at the foot of the Hermitage hillside. Cornas - meaning "burnt earth" in Celtic - is a cru located little south of the winery, on the right bank of the Rhône River on the border of the northern Rhône Valley, and is one of 5 cru wines that Cave de Tain produces.

There is evidence that winemaking existed in Cornas dating back to the 10th century. The first terraces and "chaillées" (or walls) go back even further to the times of the Romans. In 1938, Cornas was awarded AOC status. Today, the vineyards in Cornas are abrupt, south-facing slopes that form a natural amphitheatre, protecting the vines from cold winds. This unique location also means that the Syrah grapes ripen early and are the first to be harvested in the northern part of Côtes du Rhône. The soil in Cornas is mainly made up of decomposed granite, resulting in clayey and sandy surfaces, while the foothills of the steep slopes are rich in clay. Cornas is one of the smallest appellations of the Rhône Valley, and all wines from this cru must be made with 100% Syrah.

This wine has showed up in LCBO VINTAGES previously, but newer vintages are more frequently found at the SAQ in Quebec. The agents representing this wine are Noble Estates Wines & Spirits in Ontario and Divin Paradis in Quebec. Let's see how this 15 year old red wine is tasting tonight...

Cave de Tain L'Hermitage Cornas Arènes Sauvages 2005 (90 pts)

Tasting Note:

CAVE DE TAIN L'HERMITAGE CORNAS ARÈNES SAUVAGES 2005 - AC, Rhône, France (#11099552) (XD) - $51.50
This northern Rhône Syrah was grown on steep terraces with granitic sand and aged for 18 months in French oak barrels. Pours deep garnet colour. Fragrant, perfumed nose is full of savoury, leathery, and sweet spice aromas along with touches of dried berry, plum, and violet notes. It's savoury on the medium+ bodied palate with more leathery, spice, and dried berry flavours. Mature, supple tannins have nicely integrated while acids still have some zip. Some warmth on the mid-palate continues through to the long, savoury, spiced, and a touch gamey finish, with excellent length. A joy to sip. Drink now. Score: 90 pts

Tasting note from 2013:

Lovely meaty, dark fruit aromas waft from the glass. On the palate it has purple fruited, oak, and dark fruit flavours with touches of raisiny characters. Long and smooth on the finish with hints of violet throughout. It has chalky tannins and could still be aged another 5 years. Score: 91 pts

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  • Date publishedWednesday, May 27, 2020

Rocca delle Macìe Chianti Riserva 2016 (Tuscany) - Wine Review

red wine review is a nice follow-up to the delicious 2018 Rocca delle Macìe Chianti Classico that I enjoyed a couple of weekends ago. Like the Chianti Classico, this Chianti is a VINTAGES Essentials product at the LCBO and widely available for purchase in-store across Ontario.

Rocca delle Macìe was established in 1973 by film producer Italo Zingarelli to fulfill his life-long dream. It was established on a solid base of ethical values constructed by Italo and today is run by his children Sergio, Fabio, and Sandra, to become one of the largest wine producers in Italy.

Sustainability is a key pillar of Rocca delle Macìe as they continue to implement agronomic techniques that are geared not only towards constantly improving the products, but also towards respecting the environment. Some of these practices include integrated pest management, streamlining the consumption of non-renewable resources, avoiding non-essential waste of natural resources, and limiting human activity on the equilibrium of the ecosystem. By using high-precision viticulture, Rocca delle Macìe is able to make winemaking rational and sustainable, while at the same time enhancing the land. With this in mind, Rocca delle Macìe still aims to express the very best of the vine and terroir, and achieve products of the highest quality.

In addition to producing wines from the Chianti Classico and Maremma zones, Rocca delle Macìe also produces wines thanks in part to collaboration with old and new Tuscany producers in other zones such as Chianti, Montalcino, Montepulciano, Bolgheri, San Gimignano, and Orvieto. This particular red wine is from the Chianti DOCG from carefully selected and ripened Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot grapes. It is vinified with the latest controlled fermentation techniques and undergoes maturation in oak for a period of two years prior to being released.

Rocca delle Macìe Chianti Riserva 2016 (88 pts)

Tasting Note:

ROCCA DELLE MACÌE CHIANTI RISERVA 2016 - DOCG, Tuscany, Italy (#111641) (XD) - $15.95
A blend of 90% Sangiovese with equal parts Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot completing the blend, and aged for 24 months is large oak barrels. Medium+ intensity nose is savoury with currant, plum, red cherry, and earth aromas. It's ripe fruited on the palate with currant, sour cherry, oak spice, and leathery flavours on the medium-bodied palate. Light tannins have just enough texture to keep things interesting, while lemony acids are food-friendly. Savoury, currant, and chocolate notes linger on the finish, with very good length. A fine, simple Chianti for mid-week drinking. Score: 88 pts

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  • Date publishedTuesday, May 26, 2020

May 30, 2020 LCBO VINTAGES Release Wine Picks: Australia

LCBO Wine Picks: May 30, 2020 VINTAGES Release
The May 30, 2020 LCBO VINTAGES Release is another mono-thematic Release and features top wines from the land down under - Australia. All of these wines, including those from the Main Release will be on shelves at the top 100 LCBO stores across Ontario by this Saturday.

We begin with the theme on top wines from Awesome Australia. There are 14 wines featured as part of this theme and 5 are included among my top wine picks. Of course, we all know about Australian Shiraz - and there is one Shiraz (which is also the Wine of the Month) recommended from this Release - but it was quite nice to see a diverse range of other varietals and styles also featured from the Land Down Under, although notably absent are any wines from Tasmania. White wines recommended from Australia in this Release include a fine Chardonnay from the Mornington Peninsula, and a Hunter Valley Semillon. Red wine picks from Australia include a Bush Vine Grenache and a lovely single vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon.

Montalto Pennon Hill Chardonnay 2018 (91 pts)Nugan Estate Alcira Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 2016 (91 pts)

Shanahans The Old Dog Shiraz 2016 (88 pts)

Red wine recommendations from the rest of the Release include a pair of budget-friendly Portuguese reds - the Dão red is a blend of Touriga Nacional, Alfrocheiro, and Tinta Roriz, while the Douro red is a blend of Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca, and Tinta Roriz. From Italy, the Ripasso is a blend of mainly Corvina, with Rondinella, Corvinone, and Oseleta in support, while the lovely Spanish Rioja is a blend of 80% Tempranillo, 15% Garnacha Tinta, and 5% Mazuelo. High-end single varietal wines include a Barolo made with Nebbiolo, and an organic Brunello that is made with 100% Sangiovese.

Col d'Orcia Brunello di Montalcino 2014 (91 pts)Fontanafredda Serralunga d'Alba Barolo 2015 (91 pts)

Rioja Bordón Reserva 2013 (89 pts)

Among my white wine picks, the only a blend is a barrel-fermented white from South Africa that consists of 74% Chenin Blanc, 8% Clairette Blanche, 6% Grenache Blanc, 7% Viognier, 2% Semillon Gris, 2% Viura, and 1% Verdelho. The rest are all single varietal wines such as a trio Sauvignon Blanc wines and a Chardonnay. There is also a nice wine made with the indigenous Coda di Volpe varietal from Campania. For sweet wine lovers, try both Rieslings from Niagara as they are made by the same producer, and if you like very sweet wines, the Riesling Spätlese from Germany will suit your palate.

Errázuriz Aconcagua Costa Sauvignon Blanc 2018 (89 pts)Il Poggio Taburno Sannio Coda di Volpe 2018 (88+ pts)

Arriving with this Release is the much welcomed warm weather, and with that comes a slew of rosé wines. Three rosé wines are among my wine recommendations and all are of the dry variety. The rosé from Niagara is a blend of 65% Cabernet Franc, 27% Gamay, and 8% Pinot Noir. From France, the Tavel is consists of mostly Grenache Noir with Cinsault, Grenache Blanc, Syrah, Bourboulenc, Carignan, and Clairette completing the blend, while the rosé from Provence is a blend of Cinsault, Syrah, Grenache, and Merlot.

Enjoy my wine recommendations from this Release! Cheers and be well!

Red Wine:

  • PEDRA CANCELA WINEMAKER SELECTION RED 2016 - DO Dão, Portugal (#14438) (XD) - $13.95
  • QUINTA DA REDE RESERVA 2015 - DOC Douro, Portugal (#431742) (XD) - $17.95
  • DURIGUTTI CABERNET FRANC 2017 - Mendoza, Argentina (#14916) (XD) - $18.95
  • SHANAHANS THE OLD DOG SHIRAZ 2016 - Barossa Valley, South Australia (#13030) (XD) - $19.95  88 pts  wine review
  • RIOJA BORDÓN RESERVA 2013 - DOCa Rioja, Spain (#194753) (XD) - $20.95  89 pts  wine review
  • YALUMBA SAMUEL'S COLLECTION BUSH VINE GRENACHE 2018 - Barossa, South Australia (#531228) (XD) - $24.95
  • NUGAN ESTATE ALCIRA VINEYARD CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2016 - Coonawarra, South Australia (#393686) (D) - $29.95  91 pts  wine review
  • CLOSSON CHASE CHURCHSIDE PINOT NOIR 2017 - VQA Prince Edward County, Ontario, Canada (#265074) (XD) - $39.95  FE
  • FONTANAFREDDA SERRALUNGA D'ALBA BAROLO 2015 - DOCG, Piedmont, Italy (#943290) (XD) - $49.95  91 pts  wine review
  • COL D'ORCIA BRUNELLO DI MONTALCINO 2014 - DOCG, Tuscany, Italy (#306852) (XD) - $53.95  91 pts  wine review

White Wine:

  • IL POGGIO TABURNO SANNIO CODA DI VOLPE 2018 - DOP, Campania, Italy (#14270) (XD) - $17.95  88+ pts  wine review
  • VIDAL ESTATE SAUVIGNON BLANC 2018 - Marlborough, South Island, New Zealand (#12636) (XD) - $19.95
  • REDSTONE LIMESTONE VINEYARD SOUTH RIESLING 2018 - VQA Twenty Mile Bench, Niagara Escarpment, Ontario, Canada (#381251) (M) - $19.95
  • ERRÁZURIZ ACONCAGUA COSTA SAUVIGNON BLANC 2018 - DO Aconcagua Costa, Chile (#462614) (XD) - $19.95  89 pts  wine review
  • TAWSE LIMESTONE RIDGE-NORTH ESTATE BOTTLED RIESLING 2017 - VQA Twenty Mile Bench, Niagara Escarpment, Ontario, Canada (#431593) (M) - $21.95
  • WITHER HILLS RARANGI SAUVIGNON BLANC 2018 - Single vineyard, Marlborough, South Island, New Zealand (#551721) (XD) - $22.95
  • STUDERT-PRÜM WEHLENER SONNENUHR RIESLING SPÄTLESE 2018 - Prädikatswein, Mosel, Germany (#114777) (S) - $24.95  FE
  • BROKENWOOD SEMILLON 2018 - Hunter Valley, New South Wales, Australia (#657726) (XD) - $27.95
  • MONTALTO PENNON HILL CHARDONNAY 2018 - Mornington Peninsula, Victoria, Australia (#12694) (XD) - $29.95  91 pts  wine review
  • MULLINEUX OLD VINES WHITE 2019 - WO Swartland, South Africa (#556597) (XD) - $37.95  FE
  • KISTLER LES NOISETIERS CHARDONNAY 2018 - Sonoma Coast, Sonoma County, California, USA (#251223) (XD) - $101.95

Rosé Wine:

  • MALIVOIRE LADYBUG ROSÉ 2019 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#559088) (XD) - $16.95
  • DOMAINE MABY LA FORCADIÈRE TAVEL ROSÉ 2019 - AC, Rhône, France (#701318) (XD) - $19.95
  • DOMAINE DE TRIENNES ROSÉ 2019 - IGP Méditerranée, Provence, France (#409771) (XD) - $19.95

Sparkling Wine:

  • BLUE MOUNTAIN GOLD LABEL BRUT SPARKLING - Traditional method, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, Canada (#206326) (XD) - $34.95  90 pts  wine review
Blue Mountain Gold Label Brut Sparkling (90 pts)

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  • Date publishedSunday, May 24, 2020

Villa Sandi Pinot Grigio delle Venezie 2018 (Veneto) - Wine Review

Following up on the delicious Villa Sandi Prosecco Il Fresco that I enjoyed recently, wine review is a Pinot Grigio from the same producer. Like the Prosecco, this is a General List wine and widely available at LCBO outlets across Ontario. It can be purchased in-store or online for pick-up or delivery.

Villa Sandi is a family-owned and operated winery situated in a Palladian style mansion that dates back to 1622 in the Province of Treviso, Veneto, in northeastern Italy. For many generations, the Moretti Polegato family, which owns Villa Sandi, have been devoted to wine culture. Today, Giancarlo Moretti Polegato proudly carries on the family tradition with his fondness and knowledge of the wine world. Being located in the region proudly known for its Prosecco, Villa Sandi is one of the regions leading producers of Prosecco sparkling wine, however, their portfolio also includes some still wines like this Pinot Grigio.

The grapes for this white wine come from two of Villa Sandi's five estates - the Crocetta del Montello Estate in the Veneto region, and the Spilimbergo Estate located in the Friuli Venezia Giulia region, thus designating this wine as a delle Venezie. The Crocetta del Montello Estate vineyards are in close proximity to the Piave River with soils containing pebbles, stone, sand and some clay which help produce grapes with freshness and pleasant acidity. The Spilimbergo Estate vineyards are located in a flat area of the Fruili Grave and are composed mainly of stone and gravel soils which produce grapes with complexity and rich, fruity aromatics.

Villa Sandi Pinot Grigio delle Venezie 2018 (86 pts)

Tasting Note:

VILLA SANDI PINOT GRIGIO DELLE VENEZIE 2018 - DOC, Veneto, Italy (#580324) (XD) - $12.75
Screw cap. Clean, fresh stone fruit aromas with grapefruit, citrus, white floral, and whiffs of mineral. The light-to-medium bodied palate is ripe and honeyed, yet dry, with grapefruit, melon, peach, and lemon citrus flavours. It has gentle acidity and hints of mineral on the mid-palate with a slightly viscous texture. Some bitter, grapefruit pith, and lemon peel notes linger on the finish, with very good length. Score: 86 pts

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  • Date publishedSaturday, May 23, 2020

Amalfi Aperitivo Spritz (Ontario) - Cocktail Review

While enjoying the great weather we're having , I opened this Amalfi Aperitivo Spritz that recently launched at the LCBO. It is locally made with premium ingredients here in Ontario and comes in packs of 4 for $12.95.

What is an Aperitivo (Spritz)? The word "Aperitivo" is derived from the Italian verb "aprire" (ah-pree-ray) and means "to open". In Italian culture, an aperitivo is a bitter-sweet herbal meant to whet your appetite. An aperitivo "spritz" adds sparkling wine or soda water to the bitter-sweet aperitivo to make it more refreshing and perfect for hot weather - like today!

In the Amalfi Aperitivo Spritz, they use 22% real sparkling wine, and not "wine flavours" like other ready-to-drink cocktails. Their bitter-sweet aperitivo is made in-house using an infusion of burnt orange and tangerine peels, along with a blend of herbs and roots including quinine. To bring the alcohol down to a highly-quaffable 5%, they use both sparkling wine and soda water, making it well-balanced, easy to drink, and refreshing.

It is best enjoyed during Aperitivo Hour - which is like Happy Hour, but in the style of "La Dolce Vita" - giving particular importance to the inclusion of food and socializing (while practising physical distancing during these novel times). Aperitivo Hour is an Italian tradition that occurs every day at sunset when restaurants and bars set out small snacks, called "cicchetti" (chee-ket-eeh), to accompany the palate-opening drinks. As they say in Italy - Cin cin!

Amalfi Aperitivo Spritz

Tasting Note:

AMALFI APERITIVO SPRITZ - Ontario, Canada (#14515) (4 x 355 mL) - $12.95
This ready-to-drink cocktail has pleasing bitter-sweet flavours with touches of orange, citrus, and herbal root notes, while the spritz adds a crisp, refreshing mouthfeel and finish. Ideally served over ice in a stemmed wine glass and garnished with an orange.

Amalfi Aperitivo Spritz

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  • Date publishedWednesday, May 20, 2020

Rioja Bordón Reserva 2013 (Spain) - Wine Review

red wine review is a nice, consistently well-made Rioja from Spain that will be coming to LCBO VINTAGES on . I have tasted quite a few vintages of this wine and have enjoyed them all, including the 2012 Rioja Bordón Reserva late last year.

Rioja Bordón wines are produced by Bodegas Franco-Españolas, a winery that was founded in 1890 by Frenchman Frederick Anglade Saurat. It was borne out of a partnership between France and Spain at a time when France was attempting to replace their vineyards that were devastated by phylloxera. The winery was renamed to Rioja Bordón in the 1950's, and, today, the winery is in the hands of the 3rd generation of the Eguizábal family, which has been the owner since 1984.

Like previous years, the 2018 vintage of this red wine is a blend of 80% Tempranillo, 15% Garnacha Tinta, and 5% Mazuelo from grapes grown in the three sub-Rioja soil types - Rioja Alta, Rioja Alavesa and Rioja Oriental - on the north-facing foothills of the Sierra de la Demanda. After carefully selecting the fruit, the grapes are de-stemmed from the bunches and lightly pressed before undergoing alcoholic and malolactic fermentation. The wine is aged for 18 months in white American (Ohio) and French oak barrels.

In addition to this Reserva, their lovely 2009 Rioja Bordón Gran Reserva will be coming to LCBO VINTAGES next month. Other wines from the Rioja Bordón lineup can be ordered through their agent, Churchill Cellars.

Rioja Bordón Reserva 2013 (89 pts)

Tasting Note:

RIOJA BORDÓN RESERVA 2013 - DOCa Rioja, Spain (#194753) (XD) - $20.95
The medium+ intensity nose is oak spice driven with savoury, Asian spices, dark red berry, dark currant, and whiffs of dried berry, chocolate and coffee notes. It's medium-full bodied on the structured palate with fresh, juicy acidity and drying tannins that still seem a bit tight. Savoury, sweet oak spices, and red cherry flavours, along with some chocolate and toffee notes carry through to the long finish. Enjoy over the next 4-5 years. Score: 89 pts

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  • Date publishedSunday, May 17, 2020

Rocca delle Macìe Chianti Classico 2018 (Tuscany) - Wine Review

red wine review is a nice Chianti Classico that is part of the VINTAGES Essentials collection and widely available at LCBO outlets across Ontario for purchase in-store and online for either delivery or pick-up.

It is produced by Rocca delle Macìe, a relative newcomer to winegrowing in Italy as it was established in the Chianti Classico zone only in 1973. It was founded by film producer Italo Zingarelli to fulfill his life-long dream when he acquired the 93 hectare "Le Macìe" estate - of which only 2 hectares were planted to vine. The passion and love for the Tuscan land was passed along to his sons Sergio and Fabio in the mid-to-late 1980's, with Sergio becoming President in 1989. In collaboration with his sister Sandra, they set out to make quality wines and the company became quite popular and recognized worldwide. Today, Rocca delle Macìe has more than 500 hectares, 200 ha of which are planted to vines and 22 ha to olive groves, across its six estates which span the areas of Chianti Classico and Maremma in Tuscany.

This Chianti Classico was born along with the winery when the first vintage was bottled at least as far back as 1978, and growing to become the ambassador that represents Rocca delle Macìe. In fact, the history of Rocca delle Macìe is doubly intertwined with this Chianti Classico as the wine has evolved over the years both through the changes imposed upon it by updates to local wine regulations and through enhancements made in the vineyards thanks to replanting, soil analysis, and the clonal selection of Sangiovese.

Rocca delle Macìe Chianti Classico 2018 (88 pts)

Tasting Note:

ROCCA DELLE MACÌE CHIANTI CLASSICO 2018 - DOCG, Tuscany, Italy (#741769) (XD) - $18.95
A blend of mainly Sangiovese (and 5% Merlot), that was selected and picked by hand, and aged for 6-10 months in Slavonian/French oak barrels. The medium intensity nose has a savoury, dark red cherry, and sweet spiced core flecked with dried herbal aromas. It's medium-bodied with fresh, lively acidity that lifts the savoury, red cherry, currant, and oak spice flavours. Soft, grainy tannins are a touch drying on the savoury, earthy finish, with very good length. Score: 88 pts

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  • Date publishedSunday, May 17, 2020

Bottega Sparkling Wines (May 2020)

Bottega Sparkling Wines + Grappa + Olive Oil
With in-person wine tastings cancelled since the lockdown in March, virtual wine tastings have grown in popularity and will likely continue for some time. As such, I participated in my first ever Zoom virtual wine tasting. It was hosted by Sandro Bottega of Bottega S.p.A. as we tasted through their charming bubbly's as well as a lovely grappa and enjoyed an organic olive oil.

Bottega is a family-owned company located approximately 45 km north of Venice in Bibano, Treviso, and has been producing premium quality, typical Italian wines, grappa, and spirits since 1977. It is a third-generation business led today by Barbara, Stefano, and th e aforementioned Sandro Bottega.

The company is headquartered in a 19th-century farmhouse that was renovated to preserve the original architectural and environmental characteristics, and surrounded by 10 hectares of vineyards. In addition, they also have a winery in Valpolicella and in Montalcino to produce the great wines of Veneto and Tuscany, including the beloved Amarone and Brunello. Throughout the portfolio, Bottega advocates the quality of Italian taste and authenticity, design that expresses the excellent aesthetic character of being made in Italy, and social responsibility towards the environment and community. Bottega has many sustainable initiatives such as using only electricity from alternative/green resources like the use of geothermal energy, while in the vineyard they use organic agricultural principles and cultivate by hand.

Bottega winery and distillery has been in Ontario for over 25 years. They are known for their high quality, food-friendly sparkling wines that appeal to many palates. In Ontario, they are best known and for their Bottega Gold - with it's fancy, shiny gold-coloured bottle - and Il Vino dei Poeti Prosecco DOC sparkling wines. In addtion to tasting these wines with Sandro, I also tasted a couple of other bottles of sparkling wine. All of these can be enjoyed on their own or mixed into a cocktail such as a Bellini, Rossini, Mimosa, or something specially crafted by Bottega - details and recipes are provided below. As part of this Zoom tasting, I also got to try Bottega's grappa and enjoy their organic extra virgin olive oil.

All four of these sparkling wines and the grappa are available for purchase at the LCBO. Other wines from Bottega's portfolio are available via private order through Noble Estates Wines & Spirits. Thank you to Speducci Mercatto for the food pairing items, and to Noble Estates and Sandro Bottega for the opportunity to try these fine products from Italy.

Tasting Notes:

BOTTEGA VINO DEI POETI PROSECCO 2018 - DOC, Veneto, Italy (#897702) (D) - $15.95 $14.45 until
100% Glera. Clean, fruity melon, pear, and apple aromas with touches of lime citrus and mineral. The palate is off-dry with pleasing green apple, petar, citrus, and melon, and white flower flavours. Fine mousse is a touch frothy. Nicely balanced and smooth with fresh acidity that moves this bubbly towards a dry finish, with very good length. Score: 87 pts

Bottega Vino dei Poeti Prosecco 2018 (87 pts)Bottega Gold Prosecco (88 pts)

BOTTEGA GOLD PROSECCO - DOC, Veneto, Italy (#621458) (D) - $27.95 $24.95 until
100% Glera. Clean, medium+ intensity nose is focused and fresh with pear, white floral, and white peach aromas. It has good depth with very smooth, fine mousse and fresh acids on the nicely balanced, slightly off-dry palate with pear, green apple, and hints of tart lime citrus flavours. Very good length on the finish. Shiny, golden bottle. Available in LCBO VINTAGES. Score: 88 pts

Bottega Spritz cocktail recipe:
A fresh, soft and natural cocktail that combines Prosecco and Limoncino (Bottega) and satisfies the taste buds of those who do not love the bitter tones of traditional Spritz. Ingredients: 3 parts Prosecco, 2 parts Limoncino (Bottega), 1 part soda water, and ice. Preparation: Fill a large long stemmed wine glass with ice cubes. Pour in Limoncino with a circular movement (to prevent it from sticking to the bottom of the glass). Add Prosecco and finish off with a splash of soda water. Garnish with a slice of lemon and a sprig of fresh mint.

BOTTEGA VINO DEI POETI BRUT ROSÉ 2018 - DOC Venezia, Veneto, Italy (#277202) (D) - $14.95
Blend of Raboso and Pinot Nero (Noir). Steely, fresh, medium intensity nose offers red berry aromas like cherry and strawberry nuanced with mineral notes. The dry, medium+ bodied palate has good depth with fresh, lively, food-friendly acids and creamy, nicely balanced mousse. Appealing mineral and red berry replays, plus flavours of melon, peach, and grapefruit on the palate. Very good length with touches of vanilla on the finish. Ideal for the table. Score: 88 pts

Rosa Rosae cocktail recipe:
Ingredients: 35 mL sugarless white grape juice, 65 mL Il Vino dei Poeti Brut Rosé, and a few drops of cherry syrup. Preparation: Pour the grape juice into a wine glass and add a few drops of cherry syrup. Stir well and fill the glass with chilled Il Vino dei Poeti Brut Rosé. Garnish with a small bunch of grapes.

Bottega Vino dei Poeti Brut Rosé 2018 (88 pts)Bottega Petalo Il Vino dell'Amore Moscato (87 pts)

The name translates to "The Wine of Love". Crafted with Moscato grapes grown in northern Italy, this bubbly has fragrant and appealing aromas of rose floral and apple with anise and licorice adding some savoury notes. It’s gently sweet on the palate with creamy, frothy mousse supported by fresh, clean acidity. Nice floral, ripe red apple, and licorice flavours. Well-balanced with very good length on the finish. Ideal as an aperitif or after-dinner. Try with cheese or fruits like ripe strawberry, apple, or pear. Low alcohol at only 6.5%. Score: 87 pts

Mojito Moscato cocktail recipe:
Ingredients: 95 mL Rum, 50 mL lime juice, 15 ml sugar syrup, 3 Angostura drops, 12 mint leaves, Bottega Petalo Moscato sparkling wine to fill. Preparation: Muddle the sprig of mint with sugar and lime juice in a tumbler. Fill with crushed ice, rum and Angostura. Top up with Bottega Petalo Moscato sparkling wine. Stir well before serving.

SANDRO BOTTEGA CLUB GRAPPA - Italy (#478156) - $29.95
Beautiful teardrop shaped bottle that depicts the first drop of spirit to run off the still. Fresh, fragrant floral nose with floral, white peach, stone fruit flavours with touches of minty herb. Crisp, long, warming finish. Serve well-chilled after a meal.

Sandro Bottega Club GrappaBottega Extra Virgin Olive Oil Biologico

Made from organically cultivated, hand-harvested olives in Umbria, Italy since 1992 and packaged in a ceramic bottle that protects the oil from oxygen and light. Add a pinch of sea salt (as recommended by Sandro) and this yellowish-green hued olive oil is delicious, flavourful, and slightly spicy. Contact Danny Burns at MC Olive Inc. to purchase.

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  • Date publishedThursday, May 14, 2020

LAN Crianza 2016 (Spain) - Wine Review

wine review is a lovely Rioja from Spain that is a VINTAGES Essentials product and widely available at LCBO outlets across Ontario. It is also available for online ordering with the option to pick-up in-store or have it delivered to your nearest Canada Post office.

As of 2012, Bodegas LAN (which takes its name from the three provinces that make up Rioja - Logroño, Alava, and Navarra) became part of the Sogrape group of wines, but it was founded in 1972 and has over 108 hectares of vineyards in Rioja and Rias Baixas and wine production facilities in both regions. The main vineyard is their historic 72 hectare Viña Lanciano that sits along the Ebro River and on the border between Rioja Alta and Rioja Alavesa. It is a privileged location that is sheltered by the Cantabria Mountains, creating different microclimates in each of its 22 parcels, and where they respect the logical balance of nature through sustainable vine growing.

This red wine is the most famous from Bodegas LAN and best reflects their innovations in barrel ageing. With this wine two decades ago, they started using hybrid oak barrels that have French oak bases and American oak staves that contribute a unique mix of characters to the wine. The grapes for this wine come from selected vineyards in the Rioja Alta and Rioja Alavesa, where the age of the vines are between 10 and 20 years and raised on chalky-clay soils that are located on well-drained slopes with good sun exposure.

LAN Crianza 2016 (89 pts)

Tasting Note:

LAN CRIANZA 2016 - DOC Rioja, Spain (#166538) (XD) - $16.95
This Tempranillo was aged for 14 months in hybrid oak barrels and delivers a fragrant and nicely balanced savoury, earthy nose that mingles with sandalwood oak spice, red cherry, and dark berry aromas. It's medium-bodied on the palate with lovely savoury, sandalwood, and cherry flavour replays, plus some coconut notes. Acids are juicy and well-balanced, while smooth tannins are dry and dusty. Earthy and savoury notes linger on the long finish. Recommended buy. Score: 89 pts

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  • Date publishedWednesday, May 13, 2020

May 16, 2020 LCBO VINTAGES Release Wine Picks: Women of Influence

LCBO Wine Picks: May 16, 2020 VINTAGES Release
The upcoming May 16, 2020 LCBO VINTAGES Release is a mono-thematic release that focuses on Women of Influence and their Fine Wines. All of these wines, plus those from the main release should be on shelves at the top 100 LCBO stores across Ontario by this Saturday. As the Ontario Government slowly re-opens the economy, the LCBO is also following suit with expanded store hours starting May 14 at more than 360 LCBO outlets.

We begin with the main theme on Women of Influence & Their Fine Wines. It is a rather small feature with ten women featured to go along with ten wines, with two wines included among my wine picks. First up is a Chardonnay from Umbria by the iconic Antinori family, which has been involved in wine since 1385, or 26 generations, and is led today by sisters Albiera, Alessia, and Allegra Antinori. The only other wine from this feature is a Côtes du Rhône by Christine Aubert from Domaine Autrand and it is a blend of 80% Grenache and 20% Syrah that was raised entirely in tank.

From the rest of the Release, among my red wine picks, most of the blends are Syrah/Shiraz based or have a significant Syrah component. The Portuguese red is a blend of Syrah, Touriga Nacional, Alicante Bouschet, and Tinta Roriz, while the red from South Africa consists of 60% Shiraz, 22% Cinsault, 10% Grenache, and 8% Mourvèdre. From France, the Roussillon is a blend of 74% Syrah and 26% Grenache, while the Châteauneuf-du-Pape consists of 37% Grenache, 29% Syrah, 27% Mourvèdre, and 7% Cinsault. There is also a lovely single varietal Shiraz from Australia. The last blend is from Chile and it consists of 44% Cabernet Sauvignon, 38% Malbec, 12% Petit Verdot, and 6% Cabernet Franc.

Torbreck Woodcutter's Shiraz 2017 (90 pts)Leeuwenkuil Reserve Red 2017 (88 pts)

Casa Santos Lima Colossal Reserva 2016 (88 pts)

Among my white wine recommendations, the only blend is a barrel-fermented cuvée from Rhône that consists of Roussanne, Viognier, and Grenache Blanc. For those that prefer sweeter wines, look for the Riesling from Niagara. And if you like Chardonnay, it would be great to compare and contrast the one from Umbria (mentioned above) with versions from Niagara and New Zealand.

Michel Gassier Château de Nages JT White 2015 (90 pts)Auntsfield Single Vineyard Chardonnay 2016 (90 pts)

And finally, the dry rosé from Rhône is a blend of Syrah and Grenache.

Enjoy my wine recommendations from this Release! Cheers and stay safe!

Red Wine:

  • DOMAINE AUTRAND CÔTES DU RHÔNE 2017 - AC, France (#380675) (XD) - $14.95
  • CASA SANTOS LIMA COLOSSAL RESERVA 2016 - Vinho Regional Lisboa, Portugal (#548867) (D) - $15.95  88 pts  wine review
  • LEEUWENKUIL RESERVE RED 2017 - WO Swartland, South Africa (#14890) (XD) - $19.95  88 pts  wine review
  • TIBERIO MONTEPULCIANO D'ABRUZZO 2017 - DOP, Abruzzo, Italy (#14005) (XD) - $19.95
  • BASTIDE MIRAFLORS SYRAH/VIEILLES VIGNES GRENACHE 2017 - AP Côtes du Roussillon, France (#320499) D) - $19.95
  • LAURA HARTWIG EDICION DE FAMILIA 2017 - DO Colchagua Valley, Chile (#14147) (XD) - $27.95  FE
  • TORBRECK WOODCUTTER'S SHIRAZ 2017 - Barossa Valley, South Australia (#927533) (XD) - $29.95  90 pts  wine review
  • CITRA CAROSO RISERVA MONTEPULCIANO D'ABRUZZO 2013 - DOP, Abruzzo, Italy (#14253) (XD) $29.95  FE  90+ pts  wine review
  • MARZIANO ABBONA PRESSENDA BAROLO 2013 - DOCG, Piedmont, Italy (#276584) (XD) - $57.95
  • CHÂTEAU LA NERTHE CHÂTEAUNEUF-DU-PAPE 2016 - AC, Rhône, France (#735407) (XD) - $58.95
Citra Caroso Riserva Montepulciano d'Abruzzo 2013 (90+ pts)

White Wine:

  • CUATRO RAYAS VENDEMIA NOCTURNA VERDEJO 2018 - DO Rueda, Spain (#14028) (XD) - $13.95
  • SCHRECKBICHL COLTERENZIO PINOT GRIGIO 2018 - DOC Alto Adige, Italy (#293399) (XD) - $19.95
  • ORGANIZED CRIME LIMESTONE BLOCK CHARDONNAY 2017 - VQA Beamsville Bench, Niagara Escarpment, Ontario, Canada (#11951) (XD) - $21.20
  • CASTELLO DELLA SALA BRAMÌTO CHARDONNAY 2018 - IGT Umbria, Italy (#176792) (XD) - $22.95
  • VILLA MARIA CLIFFORD BAY RESERVE SAUVIGNON BLANC 2018 - Awatere Valley, Marlborough, South Island, New Zealand (#12631) (XD) - $24.95
  • MICHEL GASSIER CHÂTEAU DE NAGES JT WHITE 2015 - AC Costières de Nîmes, Rhône, France (#485854) (XD) - $26.95  90 pts  wine review
  • AUNTSFIELD SINGLE VINEYARD CHARDONNAY 2016 - Southern Valleys, Marlborough, South Island, New Zealand (#12623) (XD) - $28.95  FE  90 pts  wine review
  • CAVE SPRING CSV RIESLING 2017 - Cave Spring Vineyard, VQA Beamsville Bench, Niagara Escarpment, Ontario, Canada (#566026) (D) - $29.95
  • JEAN-MAX ROGER CUVÉE LES CAILLOTTES SANCERRE 2018 - AC, Loire, France (#65573) (XD) - $30.95

Rosé Wine:

  • CHÂTEAU VAL-JOANIS TRADITION ROSÉ 2019 - AP Luberon, Rhône, France (#707281) (XD) - $16.95

Sparkling Wine:

  • ANGELS GATE ARCHANGEL BRUT SPARKLING CHARDONNAY 2014 - Traditional method, VQA Beamsville Bench, Niagara Escarpment, Ontario, Canada (#227009) (XD) - $29.95

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  • Date publishedWednesday, May 6, 2020

J. Lohr Seven Oaks Cabernet Sauvignon 2017 (California) - Wine Review

To follow the popular J. Lohr Riverstone Chardonnay that I opened last week, wine review is a California Cabernet Sauvignon that is the most popular red in the VINTAGES Essentials Collection. Like the Chardonnay, this Cali Cab is widely available in the VINTAGES section at LCBO outlets across Ontario, and is also available online for pick-up or delivery.

After an extensive search in the late 1960's to find an ideal location for his first vineyard, Jerry Lohr, founder of J. Lohr Vineyards & Wines, settled in the Central Coast, an area that was just beginning to explore its potential for winegrowing. In the early 1970's, Jerry planted his first vineyard in Monterey County’s Arroyo Seco district.

A decade later, Jerry Lohr recognized the potential for growing Bordeaux varietals, especially Cabernet Sauvignon, further south in Paso Robles. In 1986, he began planting Cabernet Sauvignon and other red varietals in San Luis Obispo County's little-known Paso Robles region. With the hands-on devotion of an artisan farmer, Jerry tended to the vines while diligently working toward the creation and development of an adjacent winery and barrel cellar that opened in 1988.

Today, J. Lohr farms over 2,700 acres of vineyards in Paso Robles, a region now recognized as one of the world’s best spots for Cabernet Sauvignon and other Bordeaux and Rhône varietals. Nearly all of the red wines in the J. Lohr portfolio come from their sustainably-farmed Paso Robles vineyards. Still family-owned and operated, J. Lohr Vineyards & Wines is one of the industry’s most respected wine brands.

This red wine gets its name from blocks 2 and 4 of Cabernet Sauvignon that were some of the original sources for this iconic wine 30 years ago and featured views of a stand of seven majestic oak trees, which still thrive today. The grapes for this wine predominantly come from their estate vineyards in Paso Robles, directly opposite their J. Lohr Paso Robles Wine Center and two newer sites just to the north. The region is known for its rich, well-drained, gravelly, and sometimes chalky limestone soils, as well as its semi-arid climate and dramatic diurnal temperature swings of 50°F degrees between warm days and cool nights. This diurnal fluctuation is key to the region's trademark, intense varietal character. The 2017 vintage is remembered as a restorative vintage as it broke an unprecedented 5-year drought conditions throughout California.

J. Lohr Seven Oaks Cabernet Sauvignon 2017 (86 pts)

Tasting Note:

J. LOHR SEVEN OAKS CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2017 - Paso Robles, California, USA (#656561) (D) - $23.95
The medium+ intensity nose offers slightly confected aromas of ripe plum, black cherry, currant, blueberry, sweet oak spice, and savoury earthy tones with touches of leafy herbs and mint. The full-bodied palate is notably sweet with flavours of chocolate, sweet, vanillin oak and ripe black cherry and currant notes. Acids are well-balanced while rounded tannins are soft, fine-grained and a touch drying with each passing sip. Earthy, chocolate, and coffee notes linger on the finish, with very good length. Blend of 82% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Petite Sirah, 5% Merlot, 4% Petit Verdot, and 1% Syrah. Crowd pleasing California Cab. Score: 86 pts

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  • Date publishedSunday, May 3, 2020

Villa Sandi Prosecco Il Fresco (Veneto) - Wine Review

To celebrate a couple of days early with Chicken Fajitas, for wine review I opened this delightful Prosecco sparkling wine from Italy. This bubbly is a General List wine at the LCBO and widely available across Ontario.

Villa Sandi is located within the commune of Crocetta del Montello in the Province of Treviso in the Italian region of Veneto in a Palladian-style mansion that dates back to 1622. The building is protected by the hills of the Marca Trevigiana and rises out of a fertile countryside that pays homage to the local history. Moreover, it is situated between the areas of DOCG Valdobbiadene Prosecco and the DOC areas of Montello and Piave.

The Moretti Polegato family is the owner of Villa Sandi and they have been devoted to wine culture for many generations. Being one of Italy's leading Prosecco Estates, the family has contributed to the region's reputation for producing high quality sparkling wine. Today, Giancarlo Moretti Polegato proudly carries on the family tradition with his fondness and knowledge of the wine world, along with having great respect for the environment with a strong commitment to sustainability.

This particular Prosecco is made with 100% Glera grapes grown in DOC Treviso, the heart of Prosecco, in Northeastern Italy. Treviso is comprised of 95 municipalities, and the character of the soil here is influenced by the Piave river and contains a lot of pebbles, stones, sand and some clay. It was vinified by softly pressing whole grapes, then fermenting in temperature controlled tanks using selected yeast cultures. Fermentation is stopped by refrigeration once the required alcohol and sugar content levels are achieved. After spending two months on lees, the sparkling wine is ready for bottling.

Villa Sandi Prosecco Il Fresco (88+ pts)

Tasting Note:

VILLA SANDI PROSECCO IL FRESCO - DOC Treviso, Veneto, Italy (#394387) (D) - $15.95
100% Glera crafted using the Charmat method, this Prosecco has fresh, delicate aromas of lemon citrus, grapefruit, white peach, pear, and even some mineral notes. It has very good mouthfeel on the medium-full bodied palate with fine, balanced mousse. There's a kiss of sweetness that is balanced by crisp, fresh acidity. Lovely lemon citrus flavours notes give way to grapefruit, white peach, melon, and mineral notes. Very good length on the minerally, dry finish. Recommended buy. Score: 88+ pts

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  • Date publishedSunday, May 3, 2020

May 2, 2020 LCBO VINTAGES Release Wine Picks: Popular Demand + New Zealand

LCBO Wine Picks: May 2, 2020 VINTAGES Release
The main theme of the LCBO VINTAGES Release features Favourite Wines that are back by Popular Demand, while the mini-theme focuses on wines from New Zealand. Wines arrived in the top 51 LCBO stores across Ontario and online yesterday, while another 50 stores will receive bottles a week after Release.

We begin with the main theme that features 21 Customer Favourites that are return to shelves by Popular Demand. A couple of these were recommended by me late last year - the Château de Beaucastel Châteauneuf-du-Pape 2017 and Terrazas de Los Andes Reserva Malbec 2017, in case you were wondering - so I didn't include them this time around, thus, only two wines are included among my top wine picks. First up is the latest edition of the excellent Montes Purple Angel that consists of 92% Carmenere and 8% Petit Verdot. The only other wine from this portion of the Release is a Rioja that is a blend of 80% Tempranillo, 12% Graciano, 6% Mazuelo, and 2% Garnacha.

Montes Purple Angel 2017 (92 pts)

The mini-theme focuses on wines from New Zealand, a land of plenty with stellar scenery and a range of top-notch wines (as I discovered while visiting NZ earlier this year - more to come on this). Of the nine wines featured, five are included among my top wine recommendations. The four white wines are all New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc wines from the 2018 vintage. However, they do differ by the regions that the grapes were grown in - ranging from Marlborough in the South Island, including the sub-region of the Awatere Valley, and Wairarapa on the North Island, which also encompasses the sub-region of Martinborough. Trying all four side-by-side would be a great comparison! The lone red wine from New Zealand is from Hawke's Bay and consists of roughly 72% Merlot, 18% Syrah, 5% Malbec, and 2% Cabernet Sauvignon.

Babich Black Label Sauvignon Blanc 2018 (89 pts)Elephant Hill Le Phant 2016 (89 pts)

Among my red wine picks, we start with Romanian wine that is made using Fetească Neagră (Black Maiden) grape. There is also an unoaked red from Languedoc that is made with 50% Carignan, 30% Syrah, and 20% Grenache. From Italy, the excellent Chianti Classico consists of 80% Sangiovese, 15% Canaiolo, and 5% Syrah, while the lovely California Cabernet Sauvignon includes 17% Malbec.

Isole e Olena Chianti Classico 2016 (92 pts)The Hess Collection Cabernet Sauvignon 2014 (92+ pts)

Budureasca Premium Fetească Neagră 2016 (87 pts)

There are no multi-varietal blends among my white wine picks. Single varietal white wines include a Muscadet that is made with the Melon de Bourgogne grape, and an excellent Greco di Tufo. For those that prefer sweeter wines, look to Riesling, such as the off-dry version from Flat Rock or the medium-sweet version from Thirty Bench.

Nativ Greco di Tufo 2018 (90+ pts)Thirty Bench Winemaker's Blend Riesling 2017 (90 pts)

Enjoy my recommendations from this Release! Cheers and stay safe!

Red Wine:

  • BUDUREASCA PREMIUM FETEASCĂ NEAGRĂ 2016 - DOC-CMD Dealu Mare, Romania (#263913) (XD) - $16.95  87 pts  wine review
  • TEDESCHI CAPITEL NICALÒ VALPOLICELLA SUPERIORE 2018 - DOC, Veneto, Italy (#984997) (XD) - $17.95
  • CHÂTEAU OLLIEUX ROMANIS CUVÉE CLASSIQUE CORBIÈRES 2017 - AC, Languedoc, France (#568444) (XD) - $18.95
  • ROCKCLIFFE THIRD REEF CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2017 - Great Southern, Western Australia (#12910) (XD) - $19.95
  • SUTHERLAND SYRAH 2015 - WO Elgin, South Africa (#13349) (XD) - $19.95
  • ELEPHANT HILL LE PHANT 2016 - Certified sustainable, Hawke's Bay, North Island, New Zealand (#447367) (XD) - $23.95  89 pts  wine review
  • SPERLING VINEYARDS PINOT NOIR 2018 - VQA Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, Canada (#382283) (XD) - $28.95
  • MARQUÉS DE MURRIETA FINCA YGAY RESERVA 2015 - DOCa Rioja, Spain (#209148) (XD) - $29.95
  • ISOLE E OLENA CHIANTI CLASSICO 2016 - DOCG, Tuscany, Italy (#704346) (XD) - $34.95  92 pts  wine review
  • MONTES PURPLE ANGEL 2017 - DO Colchagua Valley, Chile (#62364) (XD) - $69.95  92 pts  wine review
  • THE HESS COLLECTION CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2014 - Certified sustainable, Mount Veeder, Napa Valley, California, USA (#662015) (D) - $99.95  92+ pts  wine review

White Wine:

  • ZACHARIAS ASSYRTIKO 2018 - PGI Peloponnese, Greece (#588814) (XD) - $13.95
  • PIERRE-LUC BOUCHAUD SUR LIE MUSCADET SÈVRE ET MAINE 2018 - AC, Loire, France (#82461) (XD) - $15.95
  • FLAT ROCK RIESLING 2018 - VQA Twenty Mile Bench, Niagara Escarpment, Ontario, Canada (#43281) (D) - $17.95
  • BABICH BLACK LABEL SAUVIGNON BLANC 2018 - Certified sustainable, Marlborough, South Island, New Zealand (#9142) (XD) - $19.95  89 pts  wine review
  • BORTHWICK VINEYARD PADDY BORTHWICK SAUVIGNON BLANC 2018 - Wairarapa, North Island, New Zealand (#361220) (XD) - $19.95
  • TOHU SAUVIGNON BLANC 2018 - Certified sustainable, Awatere Valley, Marlborough, South Island, New Zealand (#536177) (XD) - $21.95
  • CAVE DE TURCKHEIM COLLECTION TERROIRS PINOT GRIS 2016 - AC Alsace, France (#12114) (XD) - $21.95
  • THIRTY BENCH WINEMAKER'S BLEND RIESLING 2017 - VQA Beamsville Bench, Niagara Escarpment, Ontario, Canada (#24133) (M) - $22.95  90 pts  wine review
  • NATIV GRECO DI TUFO 2018 - DOCG, Campania, Italy (#13640) (D) - $23.95  90+ pts  wine review
  • CRAGGY RANGE TE MUNA SAUVIGNON BLANC 2018 - Martinborough, North Island, New Zealand (#466011) (XD) - $27.95

Rosé Wine:

  • HENRI GAILLARD ROSÉ 2019 - AP Côtes de Provence, France (#450825) (XD) - $18.95

Sparkling Wine:

  • TAWSE SPARK LIMESTONE RIDGE ORGANIC SPARKLING RIESLING 2017 - Traditional method, VQA Twenty Mile Bench, Niagara Escarpment, Ontario, Canada (#370361) (XD) - $20.95

Dessert Wine:

  • CAVE SPRING RIESLING ICEWINE 2017 - VQA Lincoln Lakeshore, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#447441) (S) (375 mL) - $49.95


  • KOPKE 10-YEAR-OLD TAWNY PORT - Matured in wood, DOP, Portugal (#14049) (S) (375 mL) - $17.95

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