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  • Date publishedWednesday, July 29, 2020

German Wines: A Closer Look



German Wines: A Closer Look

, I had an exciting opportunity to attend a webcast titled "German Wines: A Closer Look with Anne Krebiehl, MW and John Szabo, MS". As part of attending this webcast, participants were sent a fabulous selection of eight wines (listed below) so we could taste along with Anne and John.

Map of German Wine Regions

While most would think that Germany is all about (mostly sweet) Riesling, and rightly so as it is by far the most widely planted grape in the country, this tasting offered an excellent opportunity to showcase some German wines made with other varietals, with Anne leading much of the conversation. In addition to tasting some dry Riesling, we also got to taste a pair of white wines that shine in Germany - Pinot Blanc (Weissburgunder) and Pinot Gris (Grauburgunder). Germany grows the most Pinot Blanc of any country, and the 3rd most Pinot Gris. Although not widely known, Germany also makes red wines - 33% of all plantings within the country are red varieties - and all tend to be of the lighter variety. We tried a pair of Pinot Noir (Spätburgunder) wines - Germany's most widely planted red grape and 3rd most globally - as well as Germany's most full-ish bodied red, Lemberger (Blaufränkisch).

Kaiserstuhl, Baden
Germany is known for it's vineyards that are planted on steep slopes, and just about all of these slopes border rivers that helped shape the landscape. All thirteen wine regions in Germany are located within 4 degrees latitude and have varied climates and soils, creating wines that are diverse and in a wide array of styles. We tasted wines from six wine regions - Rheinhessen, Pfalz, Baden, Ahr, Württemberg, and Mosel. Rheinhessen is the largest winegrowing region in Germany and is known as the "land of a thousand hills" as it hugs the Rhine River. Pfalz is located south of Rheinhessen and has a slightly warmer climate, producing rich, voluptuous wines. Baden is a long, warm and sunny stretch of land spanning 400 km from north to south, running along the Rhine, in the southern most part of Germany, and produces food-friendly wines primarily with Burgunder (Pinot) grapes - Noir, Blanc, and Gris.

The Ahr Valley, with its steep vineyards are located along the Ahr River that joins the Rhine River to the east, and is located south of Bonn. Ahr is known as Germany's red wine paradise, especially for its Spätburgunder (Pinot Noir). Württemberg is another region known for its red wines - it is located adjacent (to the east) of Baden and south of Franken. The area in Württemberg is rural and hilly, and the vineyards are scattered over a fairly large area.

Wines of Germany by Anne Krebiehl, MW

The last region we touched upon is the world renowned Mosel, located along the Mosel River, south of Ahr and connecting to the Rhine in the east. The valleys of the Mosel River, along with its tributaries, the Saar and the Ruwer, have been settled since Roman times and have very steep, slate slopes. World class Riesling from Mosel are fragrant and minerally with finesse, vibrant acidity, and impeccable balance, ranging in styles from dry to the lusciously sweet Trockenbeerenauslese, or TBA.

It was also interesting to learn that light ripens grapes, not heat. This happens gradually and naturally in Germany because the vineyards are located at higher altitudes, along with autumns that are long and sunny. Additionally, because Germany is a bit northern in latitude, the sunlight is a little less intense, resulting in heat that hits the grapes at slightly lower temperatures. Combining long sunlight hours with lower temperatures helps create wines with moderate alcohol levels and body, crisp acidity, and lots of aromas - all qualities very apparent in German Rieslings as well as other wines.

All eight of the wines we tasted are available for purchase in one way or another - either via LCBO or Agent. After the webcast, attendees were also sent a copy of Anne Krebiehl's book that was published last year - The Wines of Germany. Overall, it was a very informative webcast and I was very pleased to have to the opportunity to attend. Thank you, Wines of Germany Canada!

Tasting Notes:

WITTMANN WEISSER BURGUNDER TROCKEN 2017 - Qualitätswein, Rheinhessen, Germany (#11654) (XD) - $24.95
This organic Pinot Blanc was grown on limestone soils around Westhofen, handpicked. and vinified in a minimal interventionist style. It has a lovely, well-balanced, and complex nose offering stone fruit, lemon citrus, and fennel aromas flecked with limestone mineral and orange notes. Nicely concentrated on the essentially dry, medium+ bodied, balanced, and crunchy fruited palate with fresh, succulent acids, and flavourful citrus, yellow fruit, white floral, and fine mineral notes. Touches of waxy notes linger on the long, minerally finish. Released in LCBO VINTAGES April 4, 2020. Agent: Brand New Day Wines & Spirits. Score: 90+ pts

Wittmann Weisser Burgunder Trocken 2017 (90+ pts)A. Christmann Riesling Trocken 2017 (90 pts)

A. CHRISTMANN RIESLING TROCKEN 2017 - Pfalz, Germany (XD) - $25.01
From predominantly Buntsandstein soils. Spontaneous ferment in large, used barrels and stainless steel tanks. Screw cap. Fresh and fruity nose delivers notions of apricot, ginger, melon and white pear with hints of petrol and stony-earthy minerality. The medium-full bodied palate is impressively concentrated and slightly crunchy with fresh, balanced acidity and a dry, honeyed flavour profile surrounding notes of lemon, white floral, apricot, and stony minerals. Very good length on the dry, crisp, minerally, and pithy finish. Certified biodynamic. Agent: CGU Fine Wines. Score: 90 pts

WEINGUT DREISSIGACKER GRAUBURGUNDER ORGANIC 2018 - Rheinhessen, Germany (#726066) (D) - $30
Screw cap. From loam soils, this Pinot Gris was partially barrel-fermented and has an elegant, perfumed, peach and stone fruit aromatics with a stony mineral underpinning. It's medium+ bodied on the slightly off-dry palate supported by fresh, vibrant acidity. More peach and mineral notes on the flavour profile. Stony notes linger on the long, juicy finish. Agent: DBINO. Score: 90 pts

Weingut Dreissigacker Grauburgunder Organic 2018 (90 pts)Salwey GBR RS Spätburgunder VDP Ortswein 2016 (91 pts)

SALWEY GBR RS SPÄTBURGUNDER VDP ORTSWEIN 2016 - Kaiserstuhl, Baden, Germany (#710193) (XD) - $44.75
The 2016 vintage was outstanding for reds, and this Pinot Noir was grown on volcanic ash, weathered basalt, and loess soils. Pretty pale ruby colour. The medium-high intensity nose offers earthy, raspberry, cherry, and beetroot aromas that mingle with spice and mineral underpinning. The palate is light-to-mid weighted with fine raspberry, cherry, spice, and mineral flavours supported by light, fine-grained, and textured tannins that have some structure, gaining volume with each passing sip. Racy acids provide freshness. Well-balanced throughout with raspberry, spice, earth, and cherry notes lingering on the long finish. Enjoy over the next 5 years. Available online at LCBO.com. Agent: Angyal Agency. Score: 91 pts

JEAN STODDEN SPÄTBURGUNDER JS 2017 - Qualitätswein, Ahr Valley, Germany (XD) - $60.76
Elegant, fragrant, and appealing nose of red cherry, earth, spices, and floral. It is medium+ bodied on the structured palate with lovely sweet spice, cherry, and earthy flavours supported by juicy, balanced acidity. Some dark berry and beet root notes add complexity on the mid-palate. Glossy, ripe tannins are full, refined, and smooth, with some tannic grip coming through with each passing sip. Complex earthy, cherry, beet root, spice, and mineral notes linger on the long finish. Enjoy to 2027. Agent: CGU Fine Wines. Score: 91+ pts

Jean Stodden Spätburgunder JS 2017 (91+ pts)Graf Neipperg Lemberger Schwaigener Ruthe GG 2016 (91 pts)

GRAF NEIPPERG LEMBERGER SCHWAIGENER RUTHE GG 2016 - Württemberg, Germany (XD) - $67.60
This Lemberger has complex spices with a mix of red and black fruit aromas, accented by earthy, stony minerality. It is light-to-medium weighted on the palate with fine-grained, lightly structured tannins and lovely black cherry, red berry, currant, and spice flavours Nicely balanced throughout with fresh acidity, while the long, curranty, stony finish has a minerally aftertaste. Agent: Angyal Agency. Score: 91 pts

CLEMENS BUSCH MARIENBURG FALKENLAY GG RIESLING TROCKEN 2016 - Mosel, Germany (#13046) (D) - $60
From 50-80 year old vines on grey slate, partially terraced soils. The medium-high to highly aromatic nose offers notions of citrus, floral, ginger, apple, peach, and melon with slatey mineral and touches of mealy aromas. The rich, medium+ bodied palate is gently sweet with vibrant acidity, making this Riesling essentially dry. Complex citrus, apple, ginger, beeswax, and orange flavours with a mineral underpinning. A touch of bitterness on the long, dry, crisp finish. A complex wine that changes a lot as it warms in the glass. Certified Biodynamic. Released in LCBO VINTAGES Classics May 7, 2020. Agent: The Livng Vine. Score: 91 pts

Clemens Busch Marienburg Falkenlay GG Riesling Trocken 2016 (91 pts)Hofgut Falkenstein Niedermenniger Herrenberg Riesling Spätlese Feinherb 2018 (92 pts)

HOFGUT FALKENSTEIN NIEDERMENNIGER HERRENBERG RIESLING SPÄTLESE FEINHERB 2018 - Mosel, Germany (M) - $34
Riesling planted in the 1960's on weathered grey slate, very poor soils. Lovely, fragrant minerally, petrol nose joined by honey, lemon drop, peach, and citrus aromas. It's medium+ bodied on the palate with impressive depth and concentration. Medium sweet, lemon citrus, honeyed, apple, peach, and touches of mineral flavours are balanced with bright, zesty acidity. Citrus, peach, and honey with fine mineral notes linger on the finish, with excellent length. Will age 15+ years easy. Agent: Chalk, Slate, Gravel. Score: 92 pts


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  • Date publishedMonday, July 27, 2020

Pfaff Riesling Cuvée Jupiter 2018 (Alsace) - Wine Review

wine review is this nice off-dry Riesling from Alsace. It is a General List product at the LCBO and widely available across Ontario.

This white wine is produced by La Cave des Vignerons de Pfaffenheim. The co-operative was established in the mid-to-late 1950's with over 50 members. In 1968, it merged with a neighbouring co-operative, Cave Vinicole de Gueberschwihr, and today has grown to become a leading producer in the Alsace winegrowing region, representing some of the region's top winemakers.

The vineyards in Alsace have some of the most varied and complex soils in France, resulting in wines that have a wide array of expressions from the same varietal and stretch of land. Furthermore, varying climates, sunshine hours, and precipitation add another layer to the unique expression of wines from Alsace. The chalky soils of Alsace produce splended wines that are rich, expressive and complex.

Today, Pfaff has more than 313 hectares of vines that are grown using environmentally-friendly methods. Nearly all of it is harvested by hand and at the optimal time of maturity. They strive for perfection, keeping only the best grapes for their wines.

It is interesting to note that Canada is the company's top export market. In Ontario, other wines from Pfaff can be ordered via their Agent - Noble Estates Wines & Spirits.

Pfaff Riesling Cuvée Jupiter 2018 (88 pts)

Tasting Note:

PFAFF RIESLING CUVÉE JUPITER 2018 - AC, Alsace, France (#475046) (D) - $17.25
Handpicked Riesling that was grown on limestone and chalky clay soils. Screw cap. The medium+ intensity nose is floral with apple, pear, and tangy citrus with hints of petrol and stony mineral. There is a kiss of sweetness on the medium-bodied palate with nice replays of apple, pear, and floral flavours backed by tangy citrus and mineral. Acids are fresh with touches of petrol on the mid-palate. Nicely balanced with stony mineral notes lingering on the finish, with very good length. Score: 88 pts


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  • Date publishedSunday, July 26, 2020

Le Fils des Gras Moutons Muscadet Sèvre et Maine Sur Lie 2018 (Loire) - Wine Review

Following up on the lovely 2018 Domaine La Haute Févrie Muscadet Sèvre et Maine Sur Lie that I opened on , wine review is another Muscadet from the same producer - and same vintage. It arrived in LCBO VINTAGES on and plenty are available throughout the province.

This white wine is produced by independent winemaker Sébastien Branger at Domaine Haute Févrie in Muscadet. Located in the heart of the Muscadet Sèvre et Maine appellation, 18 km southeast of Nantes, in Loire, the estate vines are grown on hills overlooking the Sèvre River, ‎between the communes of Saint-Fiacre and Monnières, and enjoy optimum ripening conditions. Sébastien is the fourth generation of his family of winemakers that have carefully tended to the vines.

Today, all 26 hectares of estate vineyards are located within the Muscadet Sèvre et Maine PDO. There are several distinct plots of vineyards, each with a different aspect and soil type that are either siliceous clay or gravelly and shallow, with sub-soils of gneiss, ‎orthogneiss and amphibolites. Because of this diversity of soils, Sébastien is able to produce many styles of wines that are specific to the site, such as this "Gras Moutons" that is made with fruit from the Saint-Fiacre area. In addition, the vines are cultivated with respect for the environment and without the use of chemical fertilizers in order to grow the wines in a more natural manner.

I have enjoyed previous vintages of this white wine, including most recently the 2016 Le Fils des Gras Moutons Muscadet Sèvre-et-Maine Sur Lie, so let's how the 2018 is tasting tonight...

Le Fils des Gras Moutons Muscadet Sèvre et Maine Sur Lie 2018 (87 pts)

Tasting Note:

LE FILS DES GRAS MOUTONS MUSCADET SÈVRE ET MAINE SUR LIE 2018 - AC, Loire, France (#363150) (XD) - $16.95
100% Melon de Bourgogne that was hand-picked from 40 to 70 year old vines. The medium intensity nose offers lemon citrus with melon aromas surrounded by stony, oyster shell minerality. The fleshy, medium+ bodied has gentle acidity and flavours of lemon/lime citrus and oyster shell mineral with touches of melon and stone fruits. Nice chalky mineral texture on the mid-palate, while the finish length is very good, closing with stony mineral notes. Enjoy now with seafood. Score: 87 pts

Other wines from Domaine Haute Févrie can be ordered through their Agent - Connexion Oenophilia.


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  • Date publishedFriday, July 24, 2020

Domaine La Haute Févrie Muscadet Sèvre et Maine Sur Lie 2018 (Loire) - Wine Review

wine review is this lovely organic Muscadet Sèvre et Maine from the Loire Valley that arrives at the LCBO as part of the LCBO VINTAGES Release and is available in some stores now.

It is produced by Sébastien Branger, an independent winemaker at his family's estate - Domaine Haute Févrie - in the heart of the Muscadet Sèvre et Maine appellation, 18 kilometres southeast of Nantes. He is the fourth generation of a family of winemakers that have carefully tended to the vines to ensure they produce the very best grapes possible. Domaine Haute Févrie practices organic and biodynamic viticulture in order to craft wines that are pure to their origins and reflect the soils where they are grown, while also having respect for the environment. Sébastien does not use any chemical fertilizers, while controlling yields and harvesting entirely by hand.

This particular organic white wine is made with the Melon de Bourgogne grape varietal from vines that average 35 years old and grown on a plot called "Clos de la Févrie". This small piece of land is located on the hills overlooking the Maine River in Saint-Fiacre and is the earliest maturing plot of the entire estate. The soil here consists of mostly gneiss sub-soils.

I enjoyed the 2017 Domaine La Haute Févrie Muscadet Sèvre et Maine Sur Lie when it showed up in LCBO VINTAGES in April of last year, and I would expect the 2018 to be just as delicious as the vintage has been described as 'historic'. Other delicious wines from Domaine La Haute Févrie can be found via their Agent - Connexion Oenophilia.

Domaine La Haute Févrie Muscadet Sèvre et Maine Sur Lie 2018 (89 pts)

Tasting Note:

DOMAINE LA HAUTE FÉVRIE MUSCADET SÈVRE ET MAINE SUR LIE 2018 - AC, Loire, France (#390625) (XD) - $16.95
From vines averaging 35 years of age, this organic Melon de Bourgogne was hand-harvested and matured on lees for 7 months. This organic white wine has fresh, ripe aromas of lemon citrus, stone fruit, and grapefruit with layered over fine minerality and touches of herb. It's more apple flavoured on the ripe, structured, concentrated, and medium-bodied palate with zesty acidity, joined by lemon/lime citrus and oyster shell mineral flavours throughout, while the stony mineral notes linger on the long, dry, crisp finish. Ideal with seafood. Recommended buy. Score: 89 pts


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  • Date publishedThursday, July 23, 2020

July 25, 2020 LCBO VINTAGES Release Wine Picks: Food-Friendly European + Patio Sippers

LCBO Wine Picks: July 25, 2020 VINTAGES Release
The main theme of the July 25, 2020 LCBO VINTAGES Release focuses on food-friendly wines from Europe, while the mini-theme features summer sipping wines for the patio. All of the wines will be on shelves across Ontario by Saturday, if not a few days earlier in some areas.

We begin with the main theme that looks at seven top European wine regions and their famous food traditions. Sixteen wines are featured as part of this theme, with wines coming fro Greece, Spain, Tuscany, Veneto, Bordeaux, Beaujolais. Just two wines from this feature are among my top wine picks. First up is a Sauternes from Bordeaux that can be enjoyed not only as an aperitif or with dessert, but also as part of your main course such as a roasted chicken. The Sauternes is a blend of roughly 70% Semillon, 25% Sauvignon Blanc, and 5% Muscadelle. The second wine is an Albariño from Spain that will pair very well with a wide variety of Spanish tapas.

From the feature on patio-perfect wines for summer sipping, which are all under $20 consist of seven white, rosé, and sparkling wines, three are included among my wine recommendations. The sparkling wine of my choice is a delightfully dry Crémant d'Alsace that consists of 80% Pinot Blanc and 20% Pinot Auxerrois. The white wine is a Verdejo from Spain, while the rosé is a Tavel from Rhône that consists of Cinsault, Grenache, and Mourvèdre.

Pierre Sparr Réserve Brut Crémant d'Alsace (88+ pts)

My red wine picks take a bit of a global tour. We start in Lebanon with a blend that consists of 40% Syrah, 30% Cabernet Franc, and 30% Cabernet Sauvignon. From Italy, the Brunello is made with Sangiovese, while the Côtes du Rhône-Villages from France is a blend of Grenache and Syrah. From Spain, the Rioja is a blend of 70% Tempranillo, 25% Garnacha, and 5% Graciano. From California, there is a gorgeous Zinfandel from Seghesio - a leader in crafting wines from this varietal. There are also a pair of very nice Pinot Noir wines - one from Oregon and the other from New Zealand. Staying in the Southern Hemisphere, the Barossa from Australia is a blend of 51% Shiraz and 49% Cabernet Sauvignon, while the Coonawarra is a straight up Cabernet Sauvignon. And finally, there are a pair of nice Malbec wines - one from Argentina and the other from Cahors in France.

Seghesio Cortina Zinfandel 2016 (92 pts)Penley Estate Phoenix Cabernet Sauvignon 2018 (89 pts)

Nautilus Southern Valleys Pinot Noir 2016 (90+ pts)Elk Cove Pinot Noir 2013 (90 pts)

Among my white wine picks, all are once again single varietal wines. The Muscadet from Loire is made with the Melon de Bourgogne grape. There are a few nice Sauvignon Blanc wines - a pair from New Zealand and one from Chile. The New Zealand Chardonnay is of the oaked style, while the Niagara Chardonnay is unoaked. For sweet wine lovers, the Riesling Auslese is the one to seek out, although it is a Flagship Exclusive (FE) and only available in limited quantities at a few select LCBO VINTAGES outlets.

Dog Point Sauvignon Blanc 2019 (91 pts)Domaine La Haute Févrie Muscadet Sèvre et Maine Sur Lie 2018 (89 pts)

Leyda Garuma Single Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc 2018 (90 pts)

There are also a pair of nice rosé wines worth your attention. The wine from Niagara is a blend of 85% Pinot Noir and the remaining Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc, while the 2010 Spanish rosé is a blend of approximately 60% Grenache, 30% Tempranillo, and 10% Viura.

Enjoy my wine recommendations from this Release! Cheers!

Red Wine:

  • CHÂTEAU KSARA RÉSERVE DU COUVENT 2017 - Bekaa Valley, Lebanon (#443721) (XD) - $16.95
  • LE GRAVILLAS SÉGURET CÔTES DU RHÔNE-VILLAGES 2017 - AC, France (#309260) (XD) - $18.95
  • LIONEL OSMIN & CIE CAHORS MALBEC 2016 - AP Cahors, France (#247544) (XD) - $19.95
  • PENLEY ESTATE PHOENIX CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2018 - Coonawarra, South Australia (#639575) (XD) - $19.95  89 pts  wine review
  • EL ESTECO MALBEC 2017 - Calchaquí Valley, Argentina (#113191) (XD) - $21.95
  • YALUMBA SAMUEL'S COLLECTION BAROSSA SHIRAZ/CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2017 - Vegan, Barossa, South Australia (#12999) (XD) - $24.95
  • NAUTILUS SOUTHERN VALLEYS PINOT NOIR 2016 - Marlborough, South Island, New Zealand (#606913) (XD) - $29.95  90+ pts  wine review
  • ELK COVE PINOT NOIR 2013 - Willamette Valley, Oregon, USA (#234534) (XD) - $37.95  90 pts  wine review
  • SEGHESIO CORTINA ZINFANDEL 2016 - Dry Creek Valley, Sonoma County, California, USA (#200840) (XD) - $61.95  FE  92 pts  wine review
  • TENUTA BUON TEMPO BRUNELLO DI MONTALCINO 2015 - DOCG, Tuscany, Italy (#14856) (XD) - $65.00  FE
  • GRANJA REMELLURI GRAN RESERVA 2011 - Labastida de Alava, DOCa Rioja, Spain (#548040) (XD) - $99.95  FE

White Wine:

  • GARCIARÉVALO FINCA TRES OLMOS LIAS VERDEJO 2018 - Vegan, DO Rueda, Spain (#218354) (XD) - $13.95
  • DOMAINE LA HAUTE FÉVRIE MUSCADET SÈVRE ET MAINE SUR LIE 2018 - AC, Loire, France (#390625) (XD) - $16.95  89 pts  wine review
  • LEYDA GARUMA SINGLE VINEYARD SAUVIGNON BLANC 2018 - DO Leyda Valley, Chile (#99309) (XD) - $16.95  90 pts  wine review
  • VIÑA CARTIN ALBARIÑO 2019 - DO Rias Baixas, Spain (#14057) (XD) - $18.95
  • BABICH BLACK LABEL ESTATE GROWN CHARDONNAY 2018 - Sustainable, Hawke's Bay, North Island, New Zealand (#630558) (D) - $19.95
  • CLOSSON CHASE K.J. WATSON VINEYARD PINOT GRIS 2018 - VQA Four Mile Creek, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada (#469445) (XD) - $22.95
  • WESTCOTT LILLIAS CHARDONNAY 2019 - VQA Niagara Escarpment, Ontario, Canada (#425322) (XD) - $24.95
  • DOG POINT SAUVIGNON BLANC 2019 - Marlborough, South Island, New Zealand (#677450) (XD) - $26.95  91 pts  wine review
  • VILLA MARIA TAYLORS PASS SINGLE VINEYARD SAUVIGNON BLANC 2018 - Sustainable, Marlborough, South Island, New Zealand (#13901) (XD) - $29.95
  • MARKUS MOLITOR BERNKASTELER BADSTUBE GREEN CAPSULE RIESLING AUSLESE 2016 - Prädikatswein, Mosel, Germany (#15287) (MS) - $72.95  FE

Rosé Wine:

  • ORGANIZED CRIME ROSÉ 2019 - VQA Beamsville Bench, Niagara Escarpment, Ontario, Canada (#16296) (D) - $16.95
  • FAMILLE PERRIN TAVEL 2019 - AC, Rhône, France (#680801) (XD) - $19.95
  • LÓPEZ DE HEREDIA VIÑA TONDONIA GRAN RESERVA ROSÉ 2010 - DOCa Rioja, Spain (#15781) (XD) - $41.95

Sparkling Wine:

  • PIERRE SPARR RÉSERVE BRUT CRÉMANT D'ALSACE - Traditional method, AC, Alsace, France (#388603) (D) - $18.95  88+ pts  wine review
  • ANTHONIJ RUPERT L'ORMARINS CAP CLASSIQUE BLANC DE BLANCS 2013 - Traditional method, WO Western Cape, South Africa (#15681) (D) - $24.95

Dessert Wine:

  • CHÂTEAU LAMOTHE-GUIGNARD 2014 - AC Sauternes Grand Cru Classé, Bordeaux, France (#12175) (S) (375 mL) - $27.95


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  • Date publishedSunday, July 19, 2020

Pierre Sparr Réserve Brut Crémant d'Alsace and Brut Rosé Crémant d'Alsace (France) - Wine Reviews

Wine reviews of Pierre Sparr Brut Rosé Crémant d'Alsace (87 pts) and Pierre Sparr Réserve Brut Crémant d'Alsace (88+ pts)
For wine reviews, I bring you a couple of sparkling wines from popular Alsatian producer Pierre Sparr. Both of these sparkling wines are VINTAGES products at the LCBO - one arrived in stores last month, while the other will be in stores by next weekend.

The Sparr family has been winemaking for more than 300 years, beginning in 1680 during the reign of King Louis XIV. Over the years, the family's passion for viticulture and winemaking was passed on from generation to generation. In more times, Charles Sparr developed the business further by focusing on activities in trade and wine ageing. His son, Pierre Sparr, took succession of the property in the early 1900s at the tender young age of 20 and became a pioneer of estate bottling in Alsace.

Maison Pierre Sparr Successeurs, as it is official known, is based in the heart of Alsace's most famous vineyard - Sigolsheim - in an area that was destroyed by WWII, and Pierre rebuilt the winery to become one of Alsace's most beautiful and prestigious Domaines. Today, the 9th generation of the Sparr family aims to continue the family's tradition, passion and emotion for wine. They produce wines using grapes from their own 15 hectares of vines, as well as 130 hectares sourced from experienced winegrowers.

The portfolio of Pierre Sparr consists of mostly white wines, some dessert wines, and a few Cremant sparkling wines such as the two reviewed below. Crémant is a sparkling wine made in the Traditional Method by using the same techniques used to produce Champagne - but are made outside of the famous region.

Tasting Notes:

PIERRE SPARR RÉSERVE BRUT CRÉMANT D'ALSACE - Traditional method, AC, Alsace, France (#388603) (D) - $18.95
A blend of 80% Pinot Blanc and 20% Pinot Auxerrois grown on limestone, granite, chalky-clay, and gneiss soils that spent 12-16 months on the lees prior to disgorgement. The medium+ intensity nose has bready, yeasty, and autolytic aromas mingling with lemon citrus and floral. It's light-to-medium bodied on the palate with bready, yeasty, lemon citrus, and pear characters supported by fine mousse and balanced acidity. Essential dry overall with hints of mineral, honey, and nut carrying through to the fresh finish, with very good length. Recommended buy. Coming to LCBO VINTAGES . Score: 88+ pts

Pierre Sparr Réserve Brut Crémant d'Alsace (88+ pts)Pierre Sparr Brut Rosé Crémant d'Alsace (87 pts)

PIERRE SPARR BRUT ROSÉ CRÉMANT D'ALSACE - Traditional method, AC, Alsace, France (#39016) (D) - $19.95
100% Pinot Noir grown on limestone, granite, chalky-clay, and gneiss soils. Soft nose featuring tart red berry, citrus, and leesy characters. The medium-bodied palate is slightly frothy with gentle acids and a dry flavour profile of red berry, citrus, and bready flavours with a touch of herbal bitter notes. Good length on the dry, slightly bitter finish. Released in LCBO VINTAGES . Score: 87 pts

Other wines from Pierre Sparr can be ordered via their Agent - Profile Wine Group.


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  • Date publishedMonday, July 13, 2020

La Cadiérenne Cuvée Grande Tradition Bandol Rosé 2019 (Provence) - Wine Review

wine review is this excellent Bandol Rosé that arrived in LCBO VINTAGES on . This rose has improved in quality every time I've tasted it, including the excellent 2018 La Cadiérenne Cuvée Grande Tradition Bandol Rosé that I enjoyed last summer, so I would fully expect the 2019 to be just as outstanding. Provence experienced some extreme weather conditions again, leading to slightly lower yields in 2019, but vintage quality was excellent.

We don't see too many Bandol wines here in Ontario, but wine has been made in Bandol ever since the Greeks colonized the area more than 2,600 years ago. Bandol is located in Provence, along the French Riviera between Marseille and Toulon. Bandol was one of the first French appellations granted AOC status in 1941, and today, 60% of the entire production is devoted to rosé wine. It is also noteworthy to mention that Mourvèdre - a late-maturing black varietal that is ideal for the terrain and climate of Bandol - is the principle grape of the region, and makes up the majority of this rosé.

This particular rosé is produced by Les Vignerons de La Cadiérenne, a group of producers that formed the co-operative in 1929 and celebrated 90 years of winemaking in 2019. La Cadiérenne is the largest producer of PDO Bandol wines, working with 294 winegrowers that have approximately 600 hectares of land - of which 400 hectares are classified as AOP. The vines are mostly planted on hillsides within the municipalities of La Cadière d'Azur, Le Castellet, and Saint-Cyr sur Mer. Other wines from the La Cadiérenne portfolio can be ordered through their Agent - Connexion Oenophilia.

La Cadiérenne Cuvée Grande Tradition Bandol Rosé 2019 (91 pts)

Tasting Note:

LA CADIÉRENNE CUVÉE GRANDE TRADITION BANDOL ROSÉ 2019 - AC, Provence, France (#119453) (XD) - $24.95
This Bandol Rosé is a blend of 40% Mourvèdre, 30% Grenache, and 30% Cinsault from vines averaging 20 years and grown on clay-limestone and marl soils. All of the grapes were hand-harvested, partly de-stemmed, crushed, and vinified separately. Lovely, fresh, balanced, and complex aromas of nectarine, melon, citrus, grapefruit, red berry, and blackberry with touches of minerality. The dry, medium-full bodied palate has a lovely texture with fresh, vibrant acidity and spicy berry, orchard fruit, currant, anise, and saline mineral flavours. Some wild herbs on the mid-palate, while mineral notes linger on the long, juicy finish. Complex, elegant, and refreshing. Recommended buy. Score: 91 pts


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  • Date publishedFriday, July 10, 2020

Jean-Max Roger Cuvée La Grange Dîmière Sancerre Rouge 2015 (Loire) - Wine Review

wine review is a lovely Pinot Noir from one of my favourite producers of Sancerre that arrived in LCBO VINTAGES on - with plenty still available for purchase throughout the province.

It is made by Jean-Max Roger, a family-owned winery that comes from a long line of winegrowers from the village of Bué dating back to the early 17th century. Jean-Max Roger took over from his parents in the early 1970's, and in 2004, two of his three sons, Etienne and Thibault, returned to the estate after working abroad. His third son, Xavier, has a passion for wine and works in the Languedoc-Roussillon region. Today, the estate covers 26 hectares in the Sancerre AOC, all located along the Loire River.

The name "La Grange Dîmière" refers to one of Bué's ancient tithe barns. The ancestors of Jean-Max Roger used this barn for making their wine and today it remains the oldest part of the winery. This Sancerre Rouge is made with Pinot Noir grapes grown in the villages of Bué, Sancerre, and Amigny, on flint and limestone soils called Caillottes & Terres Blanches (Kimmeridgian marls) with south western and south eastern exposures. The vines are 25 to 40 years old and tended to using organic principles, handpicked and sorted, then fermented using natural yeast. Approximately 20-30% of the wine was aged in 300 L oak barrels, while the remainder was aged in stainless steel tanks where it underwent malolactic fermentation, with a total ageing time of 10 to 15 months. I recall enjoying the 2013 Jean-Max Roger Cuvée La Grange Dîmière Sancerre Rouge a couple of years ago and am expecting this vintage to be even better due to the legendary quality of the 2015 Loire vintage.

Jean-Max Roger Cuvée La Grange Dîmière Sancerre Rouge 2015 (91 pts)

Tasting Note:

JEAN-MAX ROGER CUVÉE LA GRANGE DÎMIÈRE SANCERRE ROUGE 2015 - AC, Loire, France (#539858) (XD) - $29.95
From the great 2015 vintage, this Pinot Noir has a pretty, pale ruby colour and the medium-high intensity nose leads with stony-smoky minerality, followed by red berry, cherry, and currant aromas, with subtle florals. It is light-to-medium bodied on the spicy, red fruited, cherry, and currant palate with elegantly structured tannins. Acids are nice and fresh, while the stony-smoky mineral notes come to the fore on the long, juicy finish. Enjoy over the next 4-5 years. Score: 91 pts

Other wines from the fabulous Jean-Max Roger collection can be ordered through their Agent - Connexion Oenophilia.


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  • Date publishedTuesday, July 7, 2020

July 11, 2020 LCBO VINTAGES Release Wine Picks: Old World vs. New World + Cool-Climate Chardonnay

LCBO Wine Picks: July 11, 2020 VINTAGES Release
The upcoming July 11, 2020 LCBO VINTAGES Release is a duo-thematic release, with the first feature comparing some of the wine world's most well-known grapes that were born and bred in the Old World (i.e. Europe) with their transplanted versions in the New World. The second theme of this release is the annual look at cool-climate Chardonnay. All of the wines from this release should be on LCBO VINTAGES shelves across Ontario by this Saturday.

We begin with the main theme that compares wines from the Old World versus those made with the same grapes in the New World. Of the fourteen wines featured, only the New World Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand is included among my top wine picks.

The secondary theme of the release focuses on cool-climate Chardonnay wines from a few cool-climate regions across the world. Eleven wines are featured as part of this theme and three are included among my wine recommendations. First up are a pair of outstanding Chardonnays from Niagara, while the third wine is a lovely old vines Pouilly-Fuissé from Burgundy. Buying all three and trying them side-by-side would make for a lovely evening.

Le Clos Jordanne Le Grand Clos Chardonnay 2017 (93 pts)

From my red wine recommendations, the Chianti Classico (which is also the Wine of the Month) is a blend of 90% Sangiovese, 4% Merlot, 3% Canaiolo, and 3% Cabernet, while the Châteauneuf-du-Pape consists of 70% Grenache, 15% Syrah, and 15% Mourvèdre. The Bordeaux red consists of 60% Merlot and 40% Cabernet Franc, while The Trinity Red Blend is also predominantly Merlot. Single varietal wines that should please your palate include an Australian Shiraz, a Malbec from Argentina, and a Pinot Noir from New Zealand.

Clos Bel-Air 2016 (89 pts)Trinity Hill The Trinity Red Blend 2015 (89 pts)

Shanahans Silence Is Golden Shiraz 2016 (89 pts)Alamos Selección Malbec 2016 (88+ pts)

Among my white wine picks, the only blend comes from South Africa and it consists of 80% Chenin Blanc and the balance Grenache Blanc, Marsanne, Verdelho, Clairette, Chardonnay, Colombard, and Viognier. Single varietal wines include a lovely Pinot Grigio from northern Italy, as well as a highly-ageable Marsanne from Australia. The Savoie is made with Jacquère from old vines. There is also a nice barrel-fermented Sauvignon Blanc - called Fumé Blanc - from Niagara. For sweet wine lovers, look for the Riesling Kabinett from Mosel.

Alois Lageder Dolomiti Pinot Grigio 2018 (90 pts)Tahbilk Marsanne 2019 (89 pts)

Leeuwenkuil Reserve White 2017 (88+ pts)Lakeview Cellars Fumé Blanc 2017 (88 pts)

Enjoy my wine recommendations from this release!

Red Wine:

  • ALAMOS SELECCIÓN MALBEC 2016 - La Consulta, Uco Valley, Mendoza, Argentina (#322800) (XD) - $17.95  88+ pts  wine review
  • VIÑA TARAPACÁ GRAN RESERVA CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2018 - Maipo Valley, Chile (#18721) (XD) - $18.95
  • WATERKLOOF SERIOUSLY COOL CINSAULT 2018 - WO Stellenbosch, South Africa (#15595) (XD) - $19.95
  • TRINITY HILL THE TRINITY RED BLEND 2015 - Hawke's Bay, North Island, New Zealand (#551630) (XD) - $19.95  89 pts  wine review
  • CLOS BEL-AIR 2016 - AC Montagne-Saint-Émilion, Bordeaux, France (#633040) (XD) - $22.95  89 pts  wine review
  • SHANAHANS SILENCE IS GOLDEN SHIRAZ 2016 - Barossa Valley, South Australia (#13031) (XD) - $24.95  89 pts  wine review
  • VILLA MARIA CELLAR SELECTION PINOT NOIR 2017 - Marlborough, South Island, New Zealand (#285361) (XD) - $24.95
  • TENUTA PERANO CHIANTI CLASSICO 2016 - DOCG, Tuscany, Italy (#10360) (XD) - $24.95
  • DOMAINE DE LA CHARBONNIÈRE CHÂTEAUNEUF-DU-PAPE 2016 - AP, Rhone, France (#62711) (XD) - $51.95
  • MASSOLINO BAROLO 2016 - DOCG, Piedmont, Italy (#11205) (XD) - $61.95

White Wine:

  • PERCEVAL ABYMES OLD VINES SAVOIE 2018 - AC, France (#14956) (XD) - $17.95
  • TAHBILK MARSANNE 2019 - Certified carbon neutral, Nagambie Lakes, Central Victoria, Australia (#117945) (XD) - $17.95  89 pts  wine review
  • LAKEVIEW CELLARS FUMÉ BLANC 2017 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#11954) (XD) - $19.95  88 pts  wine review
  • LEEUWENKUIL RESERVE WHITE 2017 - WO Swartland, South Africa (#14937) (XD) - $19.95  88+ pts  wine review
  • ALOIS LAGEDER DOLOMITI PINOT GRIGIO 2018 - IGT Vigneti delle Dolomiti, Alto Adige, Italy (#681429) (XD) - $19.95  90 pts  wine review
  • RAPAURA SPRINGS RESERVE SAUVIGNON BLANC 2019 - Sustainable, Marlborough, South Island, New Zealand (#388421) (XD) - $21.95
  • DR. HERMANN KINHEIMER HUBERTUSLAY RIESLING KABINETT 2018 - Prädikatswein, Mosel, Germany (#15290) (S) - $21.95
  • MARCHAND-TAWSE VIRÉ-CLESSÉ 2017 - AC, Burgundy, France (#648576) (XD) - $31.95
  • TRIUS SHOWCASE WILD FERMENT CHARDONNAY 2017 - Oliveira Vineyard, VQA Lincoln Lakeshore, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#199273) (XD) - $36.95
  • DEUX ROCHES VIEILLES VIGNES POUILLY-FUISSÉ 2018 - AP, Burgundy, France (#488825) (XD) - $42.95
  • LE CLOS JORDANNE LE GRAND CLOS CHARDONNAY 2017 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#184549) (XD) - $44.95  93 pts  wine review

Rosé Wine:

  • TROUPIS FTERI AGIORGITIKO/MOSCHOFILERO ROSÉ 2018 - IGP Peloponnese, Greece (#15139) (XD) - $16.95
  • SOTO MANRIQUE NARANJAS AZULES GARNACHA ROSÉ 2018 - DOP Cebreros, Spain (#15377) (XD) - $16.95


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  • Date publishedSunday, July 5, 2020

Medici Ermete & Figli Arte e Concerto Lambrusco 2018 (Italy) - Wine Review

wine review is this lovely Lambrusco sparkling red wine that arrived in LCBO VINTAGES on .

Medici has been producing top-notch Lambrusco and other quality wines for more than a century. The story begins in the late 19th century, when Remigio Medici founded a wine cellar between Via Emilia and the first of the hills in the Enza Valley to make use of the family vineyards. Remigio's son, Ermete, expanded the business and helped develop the reputation for producing quality wines before handing over the company to his sons Valter and Giorgio.

Today, the fourth generation of the Medici family runs Medici Ermete, owning 75 hectares of land spread across the wine growing region of Emilia-Romagna, in the north-eastern part of Italy. Medici's success can be attributed to many years of experience and knowledge that have been passed down each generation, along with creating a close link between each vineyard and the winery. They also have a rigorous selection of grapes that are grown in harmony with nature and the environment. Combined with skilful vinification techniques using new machinery, Medici produces wines of unprecedented quality.

This particular sparkling wine is from the Lambrusco Reggiano DOC - the largest of the 8 Lambrusco wine regions. It is made with Salamino grapes that were grown on clayey soils and was naturally fermented into this tasty sparkling wine.

It is widely available for purchase in the VINTAGES section at LCBO outlets across Ontario. It is also available, along with other wines from Medici Ermete, through Profile Wine Group's new website.

Medici Ermete & Figli Arte e Concerto Lambrusco 2018 (89 pts)

Tasting Note:

MEDICI ERMETE & FIGLI ARTE E CONCERTO LAMBRUSCO 2018 - DOC Reggiano Lambrusco, Emilia-Romagna, Italy (#208967) (D) - $19.95
Made with the Lambrusco Salamino varietal, this has a rich array of berry aromas including red berry, raspberry, boysenberry, blueberry, blackberry, and cherry notes. The medium-bodied palate is fresh with bright acidity. Nicely balanced red and dark berry replays on the flavour profile with fine, beady mousse that livens the palate. Finely textured with a touch tannic of grip and mineral on the long, juicy finish. If you've never tried Lambrusco, make this your first. Score: 89 pts


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  • Date publishedFriday, July 3, 2020

Argento Rosé 2019 (Argentina) - Wine Review

wine review is a nice, dry rosé from Argentina that is widely at LCBO outlets across Ontario.

Bodega Argento was established 1998 in a building that housed a winery since 1970. It is located in Cruz de Piedra - the historic heart of wine production in the traditional Maipú wine region in Mendoza, and is surrounded by vineyards and olive groves, as well as offering views of the Andes mountains in the distance. The name of the winery, 'Argento', translates to silver in Latin, and relates strongly the silver thread of tradition that runs through the veins of the country, while also paying homage to Argentina's long history of crafting precious wines.

With more than 284 hectares of certified organic vineyards, Bodega Argento is one of Argentina's largest organic producers. Sustainability has been a top priority since the beginning as they use recycled glass and special water treatments, among the many sustainable initiatives. Argento makes a wide portfolio of wines from not only from Maipú, but also from their vineyards in Lujan de Cuyo, the Uco Valley, and in Eastern Mendoza. Some of these wines can be found through their agent's new website - Profile Wine Group, or at the LCBO.

Argento Rosé 2019 (87 pts)

Tasting Note:

ARGENTO ROSÉ 2019 - Mendoza, Argentina (#13245) (XD) - $10.95
Screw cap. This Syrah-based blend has fresh aromas of red berry with touches of melon and sea breeze rising out of the glass. The medium bodied palate is dry and spicy with lively acidity and more red berry and melon flavours, plus touches of blood orange. Good length on the lip-smacking finish with touches of saline. A nice rosé to cool down with for under $11. Score: 87 pts


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