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  • Date publishedThursday, October 29, 2020

Greywacke Riesling 2018 (New Zealand) - Wine Review



I had the opportunity to taste this fantastic Riesling back in March, in New Zealand with winemaker Kevin Judd (a full report on this is coming soon), and am delighted to see it come to . For wine review, we take a look at how this Riesling has evolved, 8 months after my first tasting.

I have tasted many wines from Greywacke over the years and they have all been excellent. Greywacke is the Marlborough label of iconic winemaker Kevin Judd. After many successful years at Cloudy Bay, he fulfilled a long held dream with his wife Kimberley to have his own vineyard and winery. The name 'Greywacke' comes from the high prevalence of rounded greywacke river stones found in the soils of the vineyard in Rapaura. Kevin focuses on quality winemaking and sources fruit mostly from mature vineyards within the central Wairau Plains and the Southern Valleys, such as this single vineyard Riesling from 27-year-old vines. These prime viticultural sites are cultivated using yield restricting vineyard management, and a number of these are owned by the Sutherland family (Dog Point).

Kevin makes his wines at Dog Point Winery in the lower Brancott Valley, a facility extended to him by Ivan Sutherland and James Healy - long-standing friends and industry colleagues who go back to their days together at Cloudy Bay. The Greywacke portfolio is primarily based on Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir, but there are also limited release wines such as this Riesling. Kevin is also an accomplished photographer and uses his own photos on Greywacke wine labels.

Greywacke Riesling 2018 (91 pts)

Tasting Note:

GREYWACKE RIESLING 2018 - Marlborough, South Island, New Zealand (#14556) (M) - $29.95
This single vineyard Riesling is from 27-year-old vines. Half of this wine was fermented in stainless steel tanks, while the other half underwent spontaneous indigenous yeast fermentation in old French oak barriques. Both halves of this wine also spent about 4 months in barrels on yeast lees. Screw cap. Lovely, highly aromatic nose is slightly reductive and features earthy mineral, leesy, and petrol notes followed by lime zest, citrus, and floral aromas. It has lively, vibrant acidity on the medium+ bodied palate with fine concentration. Nicely textured with citrus, floral, and apple flavours. There's some sweetness, but it is relatively hidden due to the high acidity. Apple, floral, and stony mineral notes linger on the long, lip-smacking finish. Lovely! Score: 91 pts

Other delightful wines from the Greywacke portfolio are available in LCBO VINTAGES, as well as through their Agent - Connexion Oenophilia.


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  • Date publishedWednesday, October 28, 2020

October 31, 2020 LCBO VINTAGES Release Wine Picks: California + Italy

LCBO Wine Picks: October 31, 2020 VINTAGES Release
After nearly a month without a VINTAGES Release, we return with a fairly large October 31, 2020 LCBO VINTAGES Release that focuses on high-quality (and high-priced wines) from California as the main theme, while the mini-theme features wines from Italy. All of these wines, plus those from the rest of the Release, will be on shelves across Ontario by this Saturday.

We begin with the main theme that looks at a shining lineup of California wines. There are thirteen wines featured as part of this theme and four are included among my top wine picks. The lone white wine among the four is a high-end, perennially excellent Chardonnay from Sonoma Mountain. There is also a nice Petite Sirah from Napa Valley that always shows well every year, and in this vintage it is a blend of 85% Petite Sirah, 6% Syrah, 6% Grenache, plus a mix of Rhône varietals. Of course, no talk of California wine would be complete without Cabernet Sauvignon. For those looking for top California Cab at the LCBO, the Groth Cabernet Sauvignon is a blend of 90% Cabernet Sauvignon, 9% Merlot, and 1% Petit Verdot, while the Cab from Cliff Lede consists of 88% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Merlot, 4% Petit Verdot, and 3% Cabernet Franc.

The mini-theme looks at fine wines from 10 favourite Italian producers - one wine from each producer. Like the theme on California, there are quite a few quality wines featured, but only two of these wines are on my wine recommendation list. First up is a lovely Gran Selezione Chianti Classico from Tuscany that is a blend of 93% Sangiovese and 7% Colorino, while the second wine is made with Verdicchio - one of Italy's classic white wines from the central-eastern wine region of Marche.

Rocca delle Macìe Single Vineyard Riserva di Fizzano Gran Selezione Chianti Classico 2015 (91+ pts)

I suppose the Sassicaia, which is a blend of 85% Cabernet Sauvignon and 15% Cabernet Franc, doesn't need any introduction as it wasn't included as part of the Italian theme, but it is coming to VINTAGES as part of this Release. Other red wines that are more wallet-friendly include a Cab-Merlot from B.C. that is actually a blend of 69% Merlot, 26% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 5% Cabernet Franc, while the South African red consists of 53% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35% Merlot, 5% Malbec, 5% Petit Verdot, and 2% Cabernet Franc. From France, the Rhône red is a blend of 80% Grenache and 20% Syrah, while the Roussillon red is a tank-aged blend of 66% Syrah and 34% Carignan. Lastly, the Spanish red from Montsant consists of Garnacha, Cariñena (Samsó), Syrah, and Merlot.

Monte Creek Ranch Cabernet/Merlot 2017 (90 pts)

Among my white wine picks from the rest of the Release, South Africa had a really good showing with four wines - a Chenin Blanc, a Sauvignon Blanc, an (oaked) Chardonnay, and an unoaked Chardonnay - and all are under $20. Elsewhere, there is also a nice unoaked Chardonnay from Niagara, while New Zealand brings us a sustainably crafted Sauvignon Blanc. Moving up in price, one of my favourite Chardonnays of the release is a lovely Chardonnay from Australia. For sweet wine lovers, the Riesling from New Zealand will bring much pleasure.

Vasse Felix Chardonnay 2017 (93 pts)Greywacke Riesling 2018 (91 pts)

Spy Valley Sauvignon Blanc 2019 (89 pts)13th Street June's Vineyard Chardonnay 2019 (89 pts)

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

Red Wine:

  • LOUIS BERNARD LOUIS CÔTES DU RHÔNE-VILLAGES 2016 - AP, France (#561290) (XD) - $17.00
  • VIÑALBA RESERVA MALBEC 2017 - Uco Valley, Mendoza, Argentina (#555763) (XD) - $18.95
  • POTENTE 2018 - DO Montsant, Spain (#10682) (XD) - $19.95
  • CARAMANY SOUS LA MONTAGNE CÔTES DU ROUSSILLON-VILLAGES 2017 - AC, France (#15169) (XD) - $20.95
  • MONTE CREEK RANCH CABERNET/MERLOT 2017 - BC VQA British Columbia, Canada (#15770) (XD) - $23.95  90 pts  wine review
  • RUSTENBERG JOHN X MERRIMAN 2016 - WO Stellenbosch, South Africa (#707323) (XD) - $24.95
 
  • ROCCA DELLE MACÌE SINGLE VINEYARD RISERVA DI FIZZANO GRAN SELEZIONE CHIANTI CLASSICO 2015 - DOCG, Tuscany, Italy (#699454) (XD) - $34.95  91+ pts  wine review
  • FLAT ROCK GRAVITY PINOT NOIR 2017 - VQA Twenty Mile Bench, Niagara Escarpment, Ontario, Canada (#1560) (XD) - $34.95
  • STAGS' LEAP WINERY PETITE SIRAH 2017 - Napa Valley, California, USA (#590356) (XD) - $59.95
  • GROTH CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2016 - Oakville, Napa Valley, California, USA (#606517) (XD) - $121.95
  • CLIFF LEDE STAGS LEAP DISTRICT CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2017 - Stags Leap District, Napa Valley, California, USA (#14217) (XD) - $124.95
  • SASSICAIA 2017 - DOC Bolgheri-Sassicaia, Tuscany, Italy (#480533) (XD) - $249.95


White Wine:

  • THE WINERY OF GOOD HOPE UNOAKED CHARDONNAY 2019 - WO Western Cape, South Africa (#15985) (XD) - $14.95
  • VELENOSI QUERCIANTICA VERDICCHIO DEI CASTELLI DI JESI 2019 - DOC, Marche, Italy (#16607) (XD) - $16.95
  • BELLINGHAM HOMESTEAD THE OLD ORCHARDS CHENIN BLANC 2019 - Sustainable, WO Paarl, South Africa (#484055) (XD) - $16.95
  • ANTHONIJ RUPERT CAPE OF GOOD HOPE ALTIMA SAUVIGNON BLANC 2018 - WO Elandskloof, South Africa (#15713) (XD) - $19.95
  • RUSTENBERG CHARDONNAY 2019 - WO Stellenbosch, South Africa (#598631) (XD) - $19.95
  • 13TH STREET JUNE'S VINEYARD CHARDONNAY 2019 - VQA Creek Shores, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#236745) (XD) - $21.95  89 pts  wine review

  • SPY VALLEY SAUVIGNON BLANC 2019 - Sustainable, Marlborough, South Island, New Zealand (#686675) (XD) - $22.95  89 pts  wine review
  • GREYWACKE RIESLING 2018 - Marlborough, South Island, New Zealand (#14556) (M) $29.95  FE  91 pts  wine review
  • VASSE FELIX CHARDONNAY 2017 - Margaret River, Western Australia (#903617) (XD) - $39.95  FE  93 pts  wine review
  • NORMAN HARDIE COUNTY UNFILTERED CHARDONNAY 2017 - VQA Prince Edward County, Ontario, Canada (#381715) (XD) - $45.20  FE
  • FLOWERS CHARDONNAY 2017 - Sonoma Coast, Sonoma County, California, USA (#215210) (XD) - $59.95  FE
  • KISTLER SONOMA MOUNTAIN CHARDONNAY 2018 - Unfined and unfiltered, Sonoma Mountain, Sonoma County, California, USA (#183921) (XD) - $116.95

Rosé Wine:

  • GARZÓN RESERVA PINOT NOIR ROSÉ 2019 - Garzón, Uruguay (#15265) (XD) - $17.95

Sparkling Wine:

  • GRAHAM BECK MÉTHODE CAP CLASSIQUE BRUT ROSÉ PINOT NOIR / CHARDONNAY - Traditional method, WO Western Cape, South Africa (#175588) (D) - $19.95


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  • Date publishedTuesday, October 27, 2020

13th Street June's Vineyard Chardonnay 2019 (Niagara) - Wine Review

wine review is a delicious, locally-made, unoaked Chardonnay from Niagara that arrives in LCBO VINTAGES on .

It is produced by 13th Street Winery in St. Catharines, Ontario, within the Niagara Peninsula. 13th Street Winery was founded in 1988 and purchased by the current owners, John & June Mann and Doug & Karen Whitty, in 2008. Doug is the third generation to operate the family farm and both families have deep roots in the Niagara community. Together, along with French-trained winemaker Jean Pierre Colas, they strive to create exceptional wines that reflect the unique terroir of Niagara.

This particular Chardonnay uses fruit from June's Vineyard. This estate vineyard is named after one of the owners, June Mann, and is located just south of the winery on 5th Avenue, on the west side of Seventh Street Louth. Situated at the base of the Niagara Escarpment, this gorgeous site was established in 1999 and has a distinctive terroir of hard pale clay loam with decomposed yellow limestone soils that produce unique and expressive wines. The Chardonnay planted on this site is Burgundy Clone 96 and was carefully manual-harvested and full bunch pressed. It was fermented and aged in 100% stainless steel tanks, and also underwent full malolactic fermentation. The wine also spent 6 months on its fine lees prior to bottling in spring 2020. Let's see how this unoaked Chardonnay is tasting tonight...

13th Street June's Vineyard Chardonnay 2019 (89 pts)

Tasting Note:

13TH STREET JUNE'S VINEYARD CHARDONNAY 2019 - VQA Creek Shores, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#236745) (XD) - $21.95
Screw cap. This unoaked Chardonnay has a medium+ intensity nose of ripe apple, stone fruit, citrus, and white peach aromas surrounded by leesy characters. It's medium+ bodied on the creamy, nicely textured palate that is ripe with golden apple, honeysuckle, citrus and leesy flavours with a touch of earthy minerality. Acids are well-balanced, while the finish is long and crisp with apple, earthy mineral, and some pleasing mealy notes adding complexity. Enjoy well-chilled. Score: 89 pts


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  • Date publishedSunday, October 25, 2020

Rocca delle Macìe Single Vineyard Riserva di Fizzano Gran Selezione Chianti Classico 2015 (Tuscany) - Wine Review

wine review is this excellent Gran Selezione Chianti Classico from Tuscany that arrives in LCBO VINTAGES on .

Rocca delle Macìe was established in 1973 by by Italian film producer Italo Zingarelli to fulfill a life-long dream to have his own winery when he acquired the "Le Macìe" estate in the heart of Chianti Classico. Today, Rocca delle Macìe has four estates within the southwest area of Chianti Classico, more specifically in the Municipality of Castellina in Chianti. This area is particularly suited to the cultivation of vines and is characterized by very heterogeneous soils that guarantee a variety of aromas and unique organoleptic characteristics.

I've enjoyed many wines from Rocca delle Macìe over the years, including tasting this Gran Selezione that is made with grapes exclusively from Tenuta Riserva di Fizzano, one of Rocca delle Macìe's four estates in Chianti Classico. Tenuta Riserva di Fizzano was purchased in 1984 and is locally renowned for its excellent exposure of its primarily south-facing vineyards. Just over half of the 61 hectares of the estate are devoted to vineyards growing Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Colorino at an altitude between 623 to 985 feet above sea level, on soils with Miocene deposits with a sandy-loamy texture that is deep and calcareous. This site also has over 4 hectares of olive groves, along with an oil mill that produces all of Rocca delle Macìe's olive oil, as well as the company's hospitality hub - a place I would love to visit one day.

Even though the Gran Selezione classification only became official with the 2010 vintage, this winery's historic cru already had the characteristics of producing very special wines. Like all Gran Selezione which must use only estate grown fruit, this Riserva di Fizzano is also a single vineyard wine grown on sandy and pebbly soils that are ideal for Sangiovese. Every vintage, this wine is made with a minimum 90% Sangiovese, and the balance Colorino. After fermentation, most of the wine matures in 35 hL French oak barrels, while the rest is aged in 225 L barriques. After the two batches are blended, the wine rests in the bottle for another year prior to release. Let's see how this Gran Selezione Chianti Classico is tasting tonight...

Rocca delle Macìe Single Vineyard Riserva di Fizzano Gran Selezione Chianti Classico 2015 (91+ pts)

Tasting Note:

ROCCA DELLE MACÌE SINGLE VINEYARD RISERVA DI FIZZANO GRAN SELEZIONE CHIANTI CLASSICO 2015 - DOCG, Tuscany, Italy (#699454) (XD) - $34.95
The 2015 is a blend of 93% Sangiovese and 7% Colorino and offers a complex and elegant mix of savoury earth, spice, black and red cherry with a touch of dried floral aromas. It's medium-full bodied on the palate with lovely dried cherry and floral notes, plus sweet baking spice, forest floor, tobacco, leathery. and cherry liqueur flavours. Acids are juicy and well-balanced while tannins are smooth and refined with a touch of grip on the back palate. Forest floor with some dried cherry and floral notes linger on the savoury finish, with excellent length. An elegant wine to enjoy throughout the decade. Score: 91+ pts


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  • Date publishedSaturday, October 24, 2020

Zirkova One and Together Ultra Premium Vodka (Ukraine) - Spirit Reviews

For reviews, I bring you a pair of lovely vodkas from Ukraine that are widely available at LCBO outlets across Ontario.

The Zirkova Vodka brand was founded by Canadians headquartered in Ontario and is authentically made in the Ukraine at the original factory that Tsar Nicholas II began distilling vodka in the 1800s. While this vodka is made with wheat and rye, it is certified by the LCBO as gluten-free.

After extensive testing, gluten was not detected in Zirkova Vodkas, with results detecting less than 5PPM - the standard for gluten-free certifications is less than 20PPM. This means that those who are celiac or gluten-intolerant can safely enjoy Zirkova Vodka. It was important for Zirkova's Director of Marketing to get this proof as she has Celiac. Proudly formulated and distilled to be all-inclusive, accessible and welcoming to everyone, Zirkova Vodka is also vegan, plant-based, and keto-friendly.

Zirkova has handcrafted in small batches these two vodkas for your pleasure - the Zirkova One was designed to be sipped neat, on the rocks, or in a martini, while the Zirkova Together was crafted to enhance and elevate your favourite cocktail. Zirkova One and Together are both quadruple distilled and centre cut from the finest Ukrainian rye and wheat spirits, blended with pure artisan water, then slow-filtered through massive columns of birch charcoal and quartz. Although both of these lovely vodkas are not considered flavoured vodkas, there are some subtleties worth nothing, and both are worth a try as they are very good quality. Budmo!

Tasting Notes:

ZIRKOVA ONE ULTRA PREMIUM VODKA - Ukraine (#638197) (750 mL) - $30.95 $28.95 until .
Aromas of almond, hay, earth, and mineral elegantly rise out of the glass. The mouthfeel is quite smooth and velvety. Some warmth as it glides down your throat, but nicely balanced overall with a tinge of citrus joining the aroma replays on the smooth, long finish. Very nice!

Zirkova One Ultra Premium VodkaZirkova Together Ultra Premium Vodka

ZIRKOVA TOGETHER ULTRA PREMIUM VODKA - Ukraine (#638205) (750 mL) - $30.95
Subtle aromas of anise, hay, earth, and spice which follow through on the spicy palate. Although this is not a flavoured vodka, it is quite flavourful with some enticing anise and cucumber notes also coming through on the mid-palate. It is rounded and plump with hints of sweet vanilla and almond on the finish, with very good length. Recommended in cocktails, but I would also enjoy this on its own after dinner.


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  • Date publishedThursday, October 22, 2020

Susana Balbo Signature Rosé 2019 (Argentina) - Wine Review

Personally, I enjoy drinking rosé all year-round, so for wine review I opened this lovely rosé from Argentina that arrived during the summer as part of the LCBO VINTAGES Release.

It is produced by Susana Balbo Wines, a family winery located at the foothills of the Andes in the town of Agrelo, Luján de Cuyo, within the province of Mendoza. After working in the wine business as a consultant around the globe for nearly two decades, Susana Balbo decided to fulfill a dream of having her own winery and established Susana Balbo Wines in 1999. After ten years of steady growth, Susana welcomed her children - José, winemaker who graduated from UC Davis (California) and Ana, Bachelor of Business Administration from University San Andrés (Buenos Aires) - to the family business as they joined the team.

The team at Susana Balbo Wines is devoted to sustainable winemaking, quality, and innovation. They work daily to address issues related to their product's sustainability throughout all of their production processes, including corporate social responsibility, environmental impact, and economic growth. Susana Balbo Wines has acquired various sustainability certifications and is in the process of becoming a Certified B Corporation.

Argentina is characterized by having large tracts of fertile land with diverse climates. Being situated at the foothills of the Andes, these high mountains accumulate ice of the purest water which will then slowly melt during the spring and summer months to provide a unique source for the development of their vineyards. And even though Malbec is the most widely planted varietal in Argentina, it offers a wide palate of flavours depending on the altitude and soil where it is planted. weather conditions, and the winemaking process. This brings us to the art of blending, where Susana combines the knowledge of terroir and winemaking skills, allowing her to express her talent.

As with the 2018 Susana Balbo Signature White Blend that I enjoyed back in August, tonight's rosé wine is also a blend. This dry rosé is a blend of 60% Malbec and 40% Pinot Noir that was grown in vineyards 1,200 metres above and hand-harvested. Susana decided to experiment by creating a new, fresh, aromatic, and engaging rosé in the style of Provence, applying similar techniques used for white wines - early picking times and extremely gentle pressing to get a very light-pink, red onion peel, salmon colour.

If you are in the Ottawa area, there are quite few bottles this delicious rose available for purchase at the LCBO, while only minute quantities remain elsewhere across Ontario. This rosé is also available, along with other wines from Susana Balbo, via their Agent - Profile Wine Group.

Susana Balbo Signature Rosé 2019 (90 pts)

Tasting Note:

SUSANA BALBO SIGNATURE ROSÉ 2019 - Altamira, Uco Valley, Mendoza, Argentina (#493130) (XD) - $22.95
A hand-harvested 60/40 blend of Malbec and Pinot Noir grown at 1,200 metres above sea level. It has an elegant melange of melon, grapefruit, orange citrus and floral aromas. It is medium-full bodied with good concentration on the palate with bright, lively acidity. Tangy citrus, grapefruit, peppery, and mineral with a kiss of honeyed notes in a dry flavour profile. Crisp and dry on the long finish with a touch of mineral. Lovely! Score: 90 pts


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  • Date publishedSunday, October 18, 2020

Monte Creek Ranch Cabernet/Merlot 2017 and Hands Up Red 2017 (British Columbia) - Wine Reviews

Wine reviews of Monte Creek Ranch Cabernet/Merlot 2017 (90 pts) and Hands Up Red 2017 (86 pts)
wine reviews are a pair of red wine blends from British Columbia that are available in Ontario for the first time!

Monte Creek Ranch Winery is owned by a local B.C. family and supported by a trusted team of on-site professionals to manage daily winery and ranch operations. They are one of four wineries located in the cool climate region of Thompson Valley GI (Geographical Indication) which became BC's newest VQA appellation in 2018, and is located near Kamloops. Since 2009, Monte Creek has been focused on growing strong vineyards and raising healthy animals, with many efforts geared towards sustainability. With an agricultural background, the family understands how important it is to have healthy permaculture - diversity in offering and land use - for successful and sustainable farming, while practicing organic farming methods at every opportunity.

Their 1,200 acre ranch has 75 acres of vines planted at two estate vineyards in the cool climate South Thompson valley - Monte Creek and Lion's Head - where the climate is semi-arid, with hot, dry days and cool nights. Located at the bottom of an old glacial lake, the soils here are rich in calcium and minerals, silty, uniform, and free-draining, thus requiring irrigation. The ultimate focus is to produce premium wines that showcase this unique terroir.

Monte Creek has won numerous awards for its wines, but they are most proud of their 2018 Reserve Riesling which won Best White Wine of the Year (Double Gold) at the 2020 All-Canadian Wine Championships. This was the first time an award of this level was given to a winery in colder climate Thompson Okanagan wine region. To order this dry Riesling in Ontario, you can reach out directly to the winery or contact Perigon Beverage Group (formerly Hobbs and Co.).

Tasting Notes:

MONTE CREEK RANCH CABERNET/MERLOT 2017 - BC VQA, British Columbia, Canada (#15770) (XD) - $23.95
A blend of 69% Merlot, 26% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 5% Cabernet Franc from carefully selected vineyards in Oliver, Osoyoos and Similkameen. It was partially fermented in oak vats, and then aged for 18 months in mostly used French oak barrels. Screw cap. Clean, medium+ intensity aromas of dark fruited currant, cassis, pepper spice, and oak. It's medium-full bodied on the palate with pleasing, fine-grained, and textured tannins and fresh, juicy acidity. More dark berry, cassis, and currant flavours are joined by minty, bay leaf, herbs, tobacco, and plum notes that add interest and complexity. Savoury with graphite and cedar oak notes linger on the long, juicy, slightly grippy finish. Enjoy over the next 4-5 years. Recommended buy. Arriving in LCBO VINTAGES . Score: 90 pts

Monte Creek Ranch Cabernet/Merlot 2017 (90 pts)Monte Creek Hands Up Red 2017 (86 pts)

MONTE CREEK HANDS UP RED 2017 - British Columbia, Canada (#15769) (XD) - $21.95
Hands Up pays homage to the area's past as the town of Monte Creek achieved fame after the last train robbery by the notorious "Gentleman Bandit" Bill Miner - whose photo is on the front label. A blend of predominantly Merlot, plus some Frontenac Noir and Cabernet Sauvignon that was mostly aged in large French oak tanks, with a smaller portion in barrel. Screw cap. The perfumed nose is very ripe with cassis and black cherry with some earthy, beetroot, and strawberry characters in a slightly jammy profile. It's medium+ bodied on the ripe palate with more jammy dark fruit and oak flavours. It has food-friendly acidity, while tannins are soft and rounded. Jammy fruit and oak notes linger on the finish, with good length. Crowd pleaser. Arrived in LCBO VINTAGES . Score: 86 pts


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  • Date publishedThursday, October 15, 2020

Col d'Orcia Brunello di Montalcino 2015 (Tuscany) - Wine Review

wine review is this excellent organic Brunello di Montalcino that arrived in LCBO VINTAGES on - with plenty still available. I opened this wine tonight to coincide with an interactive Col d'Orcia Tasting Event via Zoom hosted by Francesco Marone Cinzano - the Count of Montalcino and owner of Col d'Orcia - and moderated by Carolyn Evans Hammond.

The iconic Col d'Orcia is one of Montalcino's oldest established wineries and is very much a part of the history of Brunello. The modern-day lineage of Col d'Orcia can be traced back to at least 1890 when the Franceschi family purchased the property that was then known as Fattoria di Sant'Angelo in Colle. In 1933, the winery presented it's Brunelli at an Italian trade show, decades before Brunello would become a prized, world-class wine. Brothers Leopoldo and Stefano Franceschi inherited the property, with Stefano taking over the farm in 1958 and changing its name to Col d'Orcia (hill above Orcia) after the river that runs through the property. In 1973, Stefano Franceschi sold the property, which only had a few hectares of grapes, to the Cinzano family of Piedmont. Under the leadership of Count Alberto Marone Cinzano, winegrowing activities increased the number of vines to 70 hectares by the early 1980s. In 1992, Alberto's son Francesco took over and expanded the vineyards further to 140 hectares, of which 108 are designated to Brunello, making Col d'Orcia the third largest owner of Brunello vineyards in Montalcino.

Col d'Orcia is located on the southern slope of the Montalcino territory, on a hill overlooking the Orcia River and is an integral part of the Orcia Valley, the Val d'Orcia. On the property, there is evidence of agricultural farming from 400 years ago because of the very old olive trees that are planted in rows and still exist today. The vineyards are protected by the barrier of Mount Amiata (1.750 metres) which prevent floods and hail, and benefits from the mild climate off the Tyrrhenian coast which is 35 km to the west. The soils are favourable to winegrowing with fundamentally loose grounds that are poor in clay and rich in limestone and inert materials.

This interactive tasting of Col d'Orcia wines introduced the exceptional 2015 vintage of the estate's Brunello di Montalcino (reviewed below) as well as a selection of older vintages from the estate. This Brunello has been produced organically for each of the last three vintages. In fact, the whole estate is now farmed organically. The fruit for the 2015 vintage comes from the Sant'Angelo hill overlooking the Orcia River, on South-Southwest facing slopes that are influenced by the sea winds an average of 300 metres above sea level. The grapes were manually harvested and sorted in the vineyard, then undergoing further selection at the winery. Vintage yields were just over half of what is allowable under regulations. It was aged for three years in large old Slavonian and Allier oak barrels, followed by 12 months in bottle for further refinement.

As part of this Tasting Event, there are a number of VINTAGES Special Offers from Col d'Orcia consisting of many wines from different vintages in multiple sizes from half-size bottles up to 5 L Jeroboams. Some of these bottles include rare back vintage Brunellos going as far back as 1990. You'll want to get your order in today as there aren't many bottles available, and this Col d'Orcia VINTAGES Special Offer closes .

Col d'Orcia Brunello di Montalcino 2015 (92 pts)

Tasting Note:

COL D'ORCIA BRUNELLO DI MONTALCINO 2015 - DOCG, Tuscany, Italy (#306852) (XD) - $55.95
100% Sangiovese, this organic Brunello di Montalcino has lovely, elegant, perfumed and very complex aromas of red cherry, sweet tobacco, earth, and leather with touches of rosemary, herb, dried rose floral, and balsamic wafting out of the glass. It's medium-full bodied on the palate with savoury, earthy, oak, clove, and red cherry flavours. Acids are succulent and juicy while firm tannins are grippy. Savoury, bitter chocolate, and earthy notes linger on the long, persistent, and grippy finish. While enjoyable now, this should improve further with about 3 years in the cellar and drink well into the early 2030s. Score: 92 pts

The wines of Col d'Orcia are represented in Ontario by Dionysus Wines & Spirits Ltd.


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  • Date publishedMonday, October 12, 2020

El Enemigo Chardonnay 2017 and Bonarda 2016 (Argentina) - Wine Reviews

El Enemigo Chardonnay 2017 (90 pts) and El Enemigo Bonarda 2016 (90 pts)
To cap off a relaxing Thanksgiving Day long weekend, wine reviews are a pair of lovely Wines of Argentina by El Enemigo. Both of these delicious wines arrived in LCBO VINTAGES in July, and while there are still a few bottles available for purchase across Ontario, you may also be able to find these wines aplenty via their Agent - Noble Estates Wine & Spirits.

Winemaker Alejandro Vigil and Adrianna Catena (daughter of Nicolás Catena) created Bodega Aleanna (El Enemigo Wines) in 2008 and it appears as though the name "Aleanna" is a combination of their first names. The name El Enemigo translates to enemy. The wines of El Enemigo are a tribute to internal battles, an enemy, if you will, that make us who we are, and are brought to fruition by Alejandro and Adrianna by trying to capture the era when European immigrants first settled in Argentina and sought to make fine wines as good (or better) than those of their old homeland.

El Enemigo Wines are produced in the southern foothills of Maipu, Mendoza. The have a number of vineyards across Mendoza, a region known for its high-altitude vineyards in the foothills of the Andes Mountains. Alejandro is a soil expert, holding a Master's Degree in both winemaking and irrigation management, and has been the Winemaking Director at Bodega Catena Zapata since 2007. His strong scientific background led to important developments in both vineyard management and winemaking.

Chardonnay is the 2nd most widely planted white varietal in Argentina, however, it makes up just less than 3% of the total cultivated area in the country. This Chardonnay is from Mendoza, where more than 80% of all Chardonnay plantings are located. Moreover, Chardonnay is the most widely planted white wine varietal in Mendoza. And within the Tupungato GI, which is located in the Uco Valley of Mendoza, Chardonnay is considered to be one of the main grape varietals of the regions. Chardonnay is highly appreciated in Mendoza due to its ability to ripen well in the region and produce a wide range of elegant wines, such as this example from the high-altitude area of Gualtallary.

Until fairly recently, Bonarda was the most widely planted grape in Argentina. It was brought to Argentina by immigrants in the late 19th century. Today, it is the second-most cultivated varietal in Argentina, behind only Malbec. Bonarda is a thick-skinned, very late-ripening grape that is usually one of the last grapes to be harvested. It has much success in warmer climates, thus 60% of all Bonarda in Argentina is grown in the East of Mendoza, such as Rivadavia, where the climate is warmer at about 700 metres above sea level.

The last grape worth a mention in this post is Cabernet Franc, as it makes up 15% of the 2016 El Enemigo Bonarda. Cabernet Franc is not commonly grown in Argentina, making up just 1% of all red varietals cultivated in the country, placing it about 8th on the list. It is relatively new to Argentina as it was first planted in the 1990's and has adapted well to the high-altitude vineyards of Mendoza. Today, nearly 80% of all Cabernet Franc in the country is grown in Mendoza. Since there isn't much Cabernet Grown, it is mostly used in blends to give strength, although the grape does excel in quality on its own.

A naturally restless person, Alejandro strives to channel his creative energy into pushing
the limits of conventional viticultural and winemaking wisdom. As Alejandro says, "Winemaking is a way of life that revolves around contact with nature and a true love for the work. To produce wines from a place you need to breathe the same air as the vine, suffer the cold and the heat, and feel a sense of belonging to that place". Let's discover the wines of El Enemigo...

Tasting Notes:

EL ENEMIGO CHARDONNAY 2017 - Gualtallary, Tupungato, Uco Valley, Mendoza, Argentina (#482984) (XD) - $23.95
100% Chardonnay grown between 1,400 to 1,500 metres above sea level on calcareous, rocky soils. It was barrel-fermented using wild yeasts and spent 9 months in French oak with veil. The elegant, medium+ intensity nose offers ripe lemon citrus and apple with touches of banana, tropical fruit, and vanilla. It is almost full bodied on the creamy palate with lovely ripe lemon citrus, and apple, and banana replays joined by leesy and nutty tones. Notes of pink bubblegum add further interest on the slightly hot mid-palate that is juicy with mouth-watering acidity. Apple and lemon with a leesy-nutty aftertaste on the long finish. LCBO VINTAGES Wine of the Month. Score: 90 pts

El Enemigo Chardonnay 2017 (90 pts)El Enemigo Bonarda 2016 (90 pts)

EL ENEMIGO BONARDA 2016 - Mendoza, Argentina (#15120) (XD) - $24.95
An interesting blend of 85% Bonarda from El Mirador (Rivadavia) grown at 650 metres on sandy soils, and 15% Cabernet Franc from Gualtallary (Uco Valley) at high-altitude of 1,470 metres above sea level on calcareous, rocky soils. It was fermented using wild yeast and then aged for 15 months in 100 year old foudre. This has a fresh, medium-high intensity nose of dark berry, blackberry, plum, spices, and minty herb with savoury/meaty undertones and a fine streak of stony minerality. It is full-bodied on the ripe palate with dark berry, chocolatey oak, and spice flavours supported by fine, integrated tannins and balanced acidity. Some chalkiness on the mid-palate, while the long, satisfying finish has plummy, dark berry, and mineral notes. Arrived in LCBO VINTAGES . Score: 90 pts


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  • Date publishedTuesday, October 6, 2020

Château de Nages Vieilles Vignes Costières de Nîmes 2017 (Rhône) - Wine Review

wine review is this lovely organic red wine from Rhône that returned to LCBO VINTAGES on . I had the pleasure of visiting Château de Nages back in Spring 2018 and still recall fond memories of the visit. I have also tasted this previous vintages of this wine and have always loved it.

Château de Nages is now owned by the highly-acclaimed winemaker Michel Gassier, the 4th generation of the Gassier family to work this property in Costières de Nîmes, within the Southern Rhône Valley. The vineyards of Château de Nages are organically farmed and situated in the heart of a Natura 2000 zone - an ecological network of protected areas of the European Union. Being family-owned, Michel and the team are committed to protecting the ecosystem and using resources wisely.

Their vineyards are planted with typical Rhône varietals. Syrah is a grape variety that excels in their terroirs, while Grenache is reserved for the leaner soils that temper its natural exuberance. The last red grape variety is Mourvèdre that confers a striking spicy complexity. For white wine grapes, certain parcels of their terroir have a predilection for Roussanne that offers great aromatic richness, while Grenache Blanc rounds out the blends with its crystalline mineral imprint. I had the privilege of enjoying a pair of top wines from Château de Nages over the last few months, one of which is still available at the LCBO. To order Château de Nages wines that are not available at the LCBO, please contact their Agent - Profile Wine Group.

Michel swore that the 2016 vintage was the best of his career, but his sense is that the 2017 may be even better even though it was a tiny harvest. For 2017, the blend consists of 70% Grenache, 20% Mourvèdre, and 10% Syrah, which translates to no Carignan and less Syrah compared to the '16. The grapes were certified organically farmed with particular attention to soil health on grès (sandstone) with rolled pebbles from the Rhône river over iron‐rich red clay soils. All of the grapes were manually harvested and sorted, and fermented using native yeasts. One-quarter of the wine was aged in French oak barrels, with the remaining in cement tank for 12 months. Let's see how this organic red wine that is available in LCBO VINTAGES now is tasting tonight...

Château de Nages Vieilles Vignes Costières de Nîmes 2017 (90+ pts)

Tasting Note:

CHÂTEAU DE NAGES VIEILLES VIGNES COSTIÈRES DE NÎMES 2017 - AP, Rhône, France (#40964) (XD) - $19.95
This organic red wine is a blend of 70% Grenache, 20% Mourvèdre, and 10% Syrah that was aged mainly in cement tanks for 12 months. The medium-high to highly aromatic nose is open, complex, and well-knit with lovely ripe and spicy black cherry, raspberry, blackberry, kirsch, black pepper, and smoky mineral aromas with touches of black plum and violet. It is medium-full bodied on the slightly warming, but balanced palate, with black cherry, raspberry, smoky mineral, pepper spice, and herbal flavours. Succulent acids are juicy and while smooth tannins are somewhat chalky textured. Smoky mineral and black cherry notes linger on the long, mineral-textured finish. Highly recommended. Score: 90+ pts


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  • Date publishedSunday, October 4, 2020

Kahurangi Mount Arthur Reserve Riesling 2017 (New Zealand) - Wine Review

wine review is this lovely medium dry (i.e. somewhat sweet), vegan-friendly Riesling from New Zealand. This white wine is new to the LCBO and arrived in LCBO VINTAGES on - with plenty of bottles available in store, or online ordering for pick-up in store or home delivery.

The story of Kahurangi begins in 1973 when they planted their first Riesling vines - which are now some of the oldest on the South Island - while the Kahurangi brand was born in 1998, bringing together four families with a shared desire to craft wines that people will love. Kahurangi Estate is a small, boutique winery near Nelson, South Island, specialising in hand-made wines dedicated to quality.

Kahurangi is a Māori word with multiple meanings such as "treasured possession" and "precious jewel", while the logo is a stylised Nikau palm which is commonly found in the valleys and west coast beaches of the Kahurangi National Park.

Mt. Arthur is one of the highest mountains in Kahurangi National Park at 1,795 metres above sea level and stands as a magnificent backdrop to Kahurangi Estate vineyard. Kahurangi selected Mt. Arthur for their range of premium Reserve wines which stand out for their superior quality and structure.

The grapes for this delicious Riesling come from their estate vineyard in Upper Moutere, on soils that are made up of Moutere clay that add richness and texture to the grapes. Although 2017 was a challenging growing season, it was a longer than average flowering period with cooler summer temperatures. Harvest was also later than usual, but with careful vineyard management the fruit looked great! Let's see how this Riesling is tasting tonight...

Kahurangi Mount Arthur Reserve Riesling 2017 (89 pts)

Tasting Note:

KAHURANGI MOUNT ARTHUR RESERVE RIESLING 2017 - Nelson, South Island, New Zealand (#14559) (M) - $23.95
Screw cap. Vegan-friendly. Lovely, elegant floral, lemon/lime, and peach aromas with a touch of petrol rising out of the glass. The textured, medium+ bodied palate is both slightly tart and honeyed with lemon pith and floral flavours in a slightly sweet profile that is balanced by lively acidity. It's chalky textured with floral and touches of earthy mineral on the long, dry, slightly taut finish. Enjoyable now, but should provide even more pleasure in a couple of years. Score: 89 pts

The Kahurangi Estate Sauvignon Blanc arrived in LCBO VINTAGES this weekend, while other wines from their portfolio can be ordered via their Agent - Rare Earth Wines.


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  • Date publishedFriday, October 2, 2020

Trapiche Gran Medalla Cabernet Sauvignon 2016 (Argentina) - Wine Review

For wine review, I opened this nice Cabernet Sauvignon from Wines of Argentina that arrived in LCBO VINTAGES on - with plenty of bottles still available across Ontario.

It is produced by Trapiche, a winery that was founded in 1883 and has received worldwide recognition for its relentless quest for innovation. Trapiche has constantly challenged itself over the years, improving their understanding of the land and using state-of-the-art technology to produce high quality wines. The winery pioneered innovations such as the introduction of French varieties, the use of French oak barrels, and the production of micro-terroir wines.

Bodega Trapiche's inquisitive nature led the winery to find unique, remote locations to grow grapes not only in the mountainous landscape of Mendoza, but also in the oceanic influenced region of Chapadmalal. The grapes for this red wine come from La Consulta, in the Uco Valley, one of the key regions that became specialized in the cultivation of fruit and vegetables during the twentieth century.

This Gran Medalla Cabernet Sauvignon was created to pay homage to the winery's 125th anniversary, with the grapes coming from vineyards in La Consulta, in the Uco Valley, Mendoza, that were grown at an altitude of 950 to 1,050 metres above sea level on clay-sandy loam soils settled on boulders. The grapes were hand-harvested and fermented in a combination of classic and spontaneous fermentation using native yeasts in concrete eggs. It was aged for 18 months in new Frenck oak barrels, then aged in bottle for a further 6 months prior to release. Let's see how this Argentine Cab is tasting tonight...

Trapiche Gran Medalla Cabernet Sauvignon 2016 (88+ pts)

Tasting Note:

TRAPICHE GRAN MEDALLA CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2016 - La Consulta, Uco Valley, Mendoza, Argentina (#13608) (XD) - $26.95
100% Cabernet Sauvignon grown at high-altitude of 950 to 1,050 metres above sea level. The medium-high intensity aromas are rich with red and black fruits, cherry, currant, and cassis surrounded by oak vanillin. Pretty, dried berry and floral aromas emerge with time in the glass. The palate is full-bodied and concentrated with firm, structured, slightly chalky textured tannins and lively, sour acidity. Spicy flavours of red and black berries, currant and oak lead to a long, juicy, chocolatey, and lightly mineral finish. Approachable now, but I would cellar for 2-3 years. Score: 88+ pts

Many other delicious wines from the Trapiche are also available at the LCBO, as well as ordered via their Agent - Dandurand.


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