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  • Date publishedFriday, April 30, 2021

Papale Linea Oro Primitivo di Manduria 2016 (Puglia) - Wine Review



wine review is a lovely Primitivo (aka Zinfandel) that is often referred to as the Amarone of Puglia. This popular red wine returns to the LCBO this weekend and is featured as part of the theme on wines "Back by Popular Demand" from the LCBO VINTAGES Release.

This red wine is produced by Varvaglione 1921, a family that began making wine in 1921 and are one of the oldest wineries in Southern Italy. They are based in Leporano on the Gulf of Taranto, in the famous Salento region of Puglia. Four generations of the family have grown the business to become one of the biggest and fastest developing companies in Puglia. They combine the traditions of the territory with newer methods to continually evolve with trends, while never losing sight of traditions and terroir.

Owner Cosimo Varvaglione, along with his wife Maria Teresa and their three children aim for excellence by taking the best of the land and transforming it into quality wines. They own over 150 hecatres of land dedicated to the cultivation of grapes, while also collaborating with local winegrowers who have worked with them for more than 30 years.

Varvaglione 1921 produces wines from many, mostly native, varieties, but Primitivo is the most famous of the Puglian grape varieties. Primitivo has been well-known since Medieval times and is widely grown throughout the province of Taranto, especially in the area known as Manduria.

The Primitivo grapes for this wine were carefully hand harvested in the heart of the DOP, then macerated at the winery using controlled temperature. After undergoing malolactic fermentation, the wine was refined and aged for at least 10 months in French oak barrels and American barriques. Let's see how this Primitivo is tasting tonight...

Papale Linea Oro Primitivo di Manduria 2016 (90 pts)

Tasting Note:

PAPALE LINEA ORO PRIMITIVO DI MANDURIA 2016 - DOP, Puglia, Italy (#261784) (D) - $23.95
The rich, focused nose of medium-high intensity delivers aromas of dark berry, blackberry, currant, bramble, and spices. The chewy, full-ish bodied, structured palate is spicy with some warmth and has slightly sweet flavours of wood spice, tart cherry, dark berry, plum, and touches of leather. Bright, tart acidity lifts the palate, while ripe tannins are smooth with a slightly chalky texture. Finishes pleasantly dry with mineral notes lingering on the long finish. Quality Primitivo with high crowd appeal. Score: 90 pts

Other lovely wines from Varvaglione 1921 can be ordered through their Agent - Caliber Fine Wines & Spirits.


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  • Date publishedWednesday, April 28, 2021

Finca La Escuela La Grava Malbec 2017 (Argentina) - Wine Review

After enjoying the lovely 2016 Finca La Escuela La Piedra Malbec back in 2019, tonight's wine review is another fine Malbec from the same Estate in Argentina that arrives at the LCBO this weekend as part of the May 1st LCBO VINTAGES Release.

It is crafted by TintoNegro, a producer whose name literally translates to 'black wine' in Spanish as they celebrate the Malbec varietal that is known for its dark, blackish colour. TintoNegro was founded by friends and colleagues Alejandro Sejanovich and Jeff Mausbach, and were joined soon thereafter by Jorge Crotta in 2013. The wines of TintoNegro are meant to reflect the heart of soul of Malbec in Mendoza with a particular emphasis on exploring the terroirs of Mendoza by isolating vineyard sites and winemaking techniques.

This lovely bottle of Malbec is from the Finca La Escuela vineyard that is named after an active 100-year-old rural school house that resides on the vineyard property in Paraje Altamira, at the base of the Andes at an altitude of 4,000 feet above sea level. This small 7.5 hectare vineyard has a very unique soil profile that consists of limo (silt), piedra (stone), grava (gravel) and arena (sand). With each soil profile lending its own aromas, flavours and textures to Malbec, a grape known for being a window to its terroir, TintoNegro crafts four distinct single soil wines that are harvested, vinified, and aged in the exact same way, thus allowing each wine to best express a sense of place.

This particular Malbec was grown on a small patch in the middle of the La Escuela vineyard where the soil is gravelly, or grava in Spanish. The vineyard has small stones and pebbles on the surface, resulting in slightly warmer temperatures, producing wines of intense floral aromas, dark red fruit flavours, and soft, supple tannins. Let's see how this Malbec is tasting tonight...

Finca La Escuela La Grava Malbec 2017 (90+ pts)

Tasting Note:

FINCA LA ESCUELA LA GRAVA MALBEC 2017 - Paraje Altamira, Uco Valley, Mendoza, Argentina (#547851) (XD) - $24.95
The fresh, medium-high to highly aromatic nose offers a lovely, complex mix of floral, earth, milk chocolate, stony mineral, dark red berry, and violet aromas in a savoury profile. The medium-bodied palate has supple, fine-grained tannins balanced with fresh, vibrant acidity that supports the lovely aroma replays joined by white pepper, slightly spicy notes on the flavour profile. Really well-balanced with stony mineral, dark red berry, and violets lingering on the long, slightly chalky finish. Highly recommended buy! Score: 90+ pts

Other lovely wines from TintoNegro can be ordered from their Agent - Profile Wine Group.


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  • Date publishedWednesday, April 28, 2021

May 1, 2021 LCBO VINTAGES Release Wine Picks: Popular Demand + New Zealand

LCBO Wine Picks: May 1, 2021 VINTAGES Release
The main theme of the May 1, 2021 LCBO VINTAGES Release features wines that are "Back by Popular Demand", while the mini-theme looks at new wines from New Zealand. All of the wines from the themes, plus those from the main release will be on shelves across Ontario by this Saturday.

We begin with the main theme that looks at wines that are "Back by Popular Demand". Of the twenty-two wines featured, six are included among my top wine picks. The lone white is a Premier Cru Chablis that is, of course, made with Chardonnay, while the Côtes du Rhône Rosé is a blend of Cinsault, Grenache, Mourvèdre, and Syrah. Red wine blends include the wine from British Columbia that consists of 57% Syrah and 43% Cabernet Sauvignon, while the South African red is a blend of 37% Shiraz, 26% Cabernet Sauvignon, 24% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Franc, 4% Malbec, and 4% Petit Verdot. From Italy, the Chianti Classico is a blend of roughly 80% Sangiovese, 10% Colorino, and 10% Pugnitello, while the wine from Puglia is made with 100% Primitivo (a.k.a. Zinfandel).

Papale Linea Oro Primitivo di Manduria 2016 (90 pts)Avondale Jonty's Ducks Pekin Red 2016 (89 pts)

From the mini-theme on new wines from New Zealand, of the ten wines featured, five are included among my top wine recommendations. Although the feature is small, it does touch upon some of the trends in New Zealand winemaking that I discovered during my visit to NZ last year. Originally from Spain and Portugal, Albariño is finding a home in New Zealand, most notably in the northeastern part of North Island in Gisborne. A perennial favourite is the low alcohol (9%) off-dry Riesling, as well as a pair of Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc wines. And lastly, from the region of Martinborough - where the climate and soil profile is similar to that of Burgundy - comes a fine Pinot Noir from a producer that is primarily focused on this varietal.

Luna Estate Pinot Noir 2016 (91 pts)Leftfield Gisborne Albariño 2019 (88+ pts)

Interestingly, the majority of my red wine picks from the rest of the release are blends from southern France - the only wines that are not are a lovely Malbec from Paraje Altamira in Argentina and a Crozes-Hermitage from Northern Rhône that is 100% Syrah. From Languedoc, the Corbières is a blend of 60% Grenache, 25% Cinsault, and 15% Syrah, while the Saint-Chinian-Roquebrun consists of 50% Syrah, 30% Grenache, and 20% Mourvèdre. From Rhône, the Châteauneuf-du-Pape is a blend of 75% Grenache, 10% Mourvèdre, 10% Syrah, and 5% Cinsault, while the Gigondas consists of 74% Grenache, 23% Syrah, 3% Mourvèdre, and 2% Cinsault.

Finca La Escuela La Grava Malbec 2017 (90+ pts)J. Denuzière Crozes-Hermitage 2018 (91 pts)

Cave de Roquebrun La Grange des Combes Saint-Chinian-Roquebrun 2018 (90 pts)Château Camplong Grande Réserve Corbières 2018 (89 pts)

Among my white wine picks, the only blend is from Portugal and it's made with the indigenous varieties Côdega de Larinho, Rabigato, and Viosinho. The rest of the white wines are all Chardonnays - two from Niagara and one from California, as well as a Grüner Veltliner from Austria, and a dry Riesling from Germany.

Lastly, the lovely Tavel is a bigger, dry rosé that consists of 45% Grenache Noir, 20% Clairette, 15% Cinsault, 8% Mourvèdre, 6% Syrah, 4% Bourboulenc, and 2% Picpoul.

Château d'Aquéria Tavel 2020 (91 pts)

Enjoy my wine recommendations from this Release! Cheers!

Red Wine:

  • CHÂTEAU CAMPLONG GRANDE RÉSERVE CORBIÈRES 2018 - AP, Languedoc, France (#12990) (XD) - $14.95  89 pts  wine review
  • AVONDALE JONTY'S DUCKS PEKIN RED 2016 - Vegan, WO Paarl, South Africa (#383547) (XD) - $16.95  89 pts  wine review
  • SAN FELICE CHIANTI CLASSICO 2018 - DOCG, Tuscany, Italy (#282996) (XD) - $19.95
  • CAVE DE ROQUEBRUN LA GRANGE DES COMBES SAINT-CHINIAN-ROQUEBRUN 2018 - AC, Languedoc, France (#155804) (XD) - $20.95  90 pts  wine review
  • PAPALE LINEA ORO PRIMITIVO DI MANDURIA 2016 - DOP, Puglia, Italy (#261784) (D) - $23.95  90 pts  wine review
  • FINCA LA ESCUELA LA GRAVA MALBEC 2017 - Paraje Altamira, Uco Valley, Mendoza, Argentina (#547851) (XD) - $24.95  90+ pts  wine review
  • LUNA ESTATE PINOT NOIR 2016 - Sustainable, Martinborough, North Island, New Zealand (#17544) (XD) - $26.95  91 pts  wine review
  • J. DENUZIÈRE CROZES-HERMITAGE 2018 - AC, Rhône, France (#667485) (XD) - $29.95  91 pts  wine review
  • DOMAINE DE FONT-SANE TRADITION GIGONDAS 2017 - AP, Rhône, France (#18557) (XD) - $31.95
  • BURROWING OWL ATHENE 2017 - Estate bottled, BC VQA Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, Canada (#371336) (XD) - $44.95
  • LE VIEUX DONJON CHÂTEAUNEUF-DU-PAPE 2018 - AC, Rhône, France (#700922) (XD) - $68.95

White Wine:

  • LEFTFIELD GISBORNE ALBARIÑO 2019 - Gisborne, North Island, New Zealand (#17551) (XD) - $19.95  88+ pts  wine review
  • THE HUNTING LODGE EXPRESSIONS SAUVIGNON BLANC 2019 - Marlborough, South Island, New Zealand (#17667) (XD) - $19.95
  • THE DOCTORS' RIESLING 2019 - Sustainable, Marlborough, South Island, New Zealand (#12321) (MS) - $19.95
  • QUADRUS WHITE 2019 - DOC Douro, Portugal (#667162) (XD) - $19.95
  • AWATERE RIVER BY LOUIS VAVASOUR SAUVIGNON BLANC 2020 - Vegan, Sustainable, Marlborough, South Island, New Zealand (#492272) (XD) - $21.95
  • CHÂTEAU DES CHARMES ST. DAVID'S BENCH VINEYARD CHARDONNAY 2016 - VQA St. David's Bench, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada (#430991) (XD) - $24.95
  • HENRY OF PELHAM SPECK FAMILY RESERVE CHARDONNAY 2019 - VQA Short Hills Bench, Niagara Escarpment, Ontario, Canada (#616466) (XD) - $29.95
  • LA CHABLISIENNE GRANDE CUVÉE CHABLIS 1ER CRU 2018 - AC, Burgundy, France (#685222) (XD) - $34.95
  • TESCH KARTHÄUSER RIESLING TROCKEN 2018 - Qualitätswein, Nahe, Germany (#18238) (XD) - $34.95
  • TÜRK RIED OBERE KREMSER SANDGRUBE RESERVE GRÜNER VELTLINER 2017 - DAC Kremstal, Austria (#12465) (XD) - $34.95  FE
  • GRGICH HILLS ESTATE GROWN CHARDONNAY 2017 - Napa Valley, California, USA (#346304) (XD) - $65.95

Rosé Wine:

  • FAMILLE PERRIN RÉSERVE ROSÉ 2020 - AC Côtes du Rhône, France (#719062) (XD) - $15.95
  • CHÂTEAU D'AQUÉRIA TAVEL 2020 - AC, Rhône, France (#319368) (XD) - $24.95  91 pts  wine review


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  • Date publishedMonday, April 26, 2021

Flor de Maio Mayflower Alentejano Branco 2019 (Portugal) - Wine Review

Following up on the 2016 Flor de Maio Mayflower Tinto that I opened back in February, wine review is this nice, crisp, dry, white wine from the same producer. This Portuguese white wine is new to the LCBO and featured as part of the theme on Sustainable Wines from the LCBO VINTAGES Release.

This white wine is produced by Magnum - Carlos Lucas Vinhos, a winery founded in 2011 by winemaker Carlos Lucas. With over 25 years of winemaking experience and a dream to produce quality wines, Carlos works today with a dynamic team to continuously innovate while also respecting winemaking traditions and its history. Magnum produces wines from all of the major wine regions of Portugal and is pursuing sustainable winegrowing practices while also aiming to show the authentic characters of every region where it has vineyards.

Like the companion red, this white wine is also a blend of grapes grown in the Mora municipality within the Évora district in central Alentejano. This white wine is a blend of indigenous varieties Arinto and Antão Vaz grown in a 60 hectare vineyard on a low altitude plain, low slope terrain with exposure to the South. The soils are poor and consist of mainly clay and limestone. Vinification took place by destemming and pressing, followed by fermenting in stainless steel vats, then ageing (in tank) and bottling.

Flor de Maio Mayflower Alentejano Branco 2019 (88+ pts)

Tasting Note:

FLOR DE MAIO MAYFLOWER ALENTEJANO BRANCO 2019 - Vinho Regional Alentejano, Portugal (#18378) (XD) - $13.95
This blend of indigenous varieties Arinto and Antão Vaz has a pretty, fresh, medium+ intensity nose of melon, citrus, tropical fruit, apple and papaya aromas. The fleshy, medium-bodied palate is dry, ripe, and gently spicy with floral, honeysuckle, citrus, melon, and apple flavours with a tinge of honey that is balanced with fresh, balanced acidity. Subtle mineral notes arrive on the crisp, lengthy, and slightly spicy finish. Recommended buy for Spring sipping. Score: 88+ pts

Other delicious wines from Magnum - Carlos Lucas Vinhos can be ordered through their Agent - Rare Earth Wines.


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  • Date publishedSaturday, April 24, 2021

Vega Sindoa Cabernet Sauvignon 2017 (Spain) - Wine Review

wine review is a nice Cabernet Sauvignon from Spain that arrived at the LCBO last weekend as part of the LCBO VINTAGES Release.

This red wine is produced by Bodegas Nekeas, a winery that was founded in 1990 by a group of eight families native to Navarra who have also been friends for decades. These eight families all have a long, rich history based in viticulture.

Winegrowing in Navarra can be traced back to the 16th century, with ancient documents as evidence located at the winery. Winegrowing was a thriving industry for several centuries, but eventually collapsed by 1900 with the onset of phylloxera. However, the tenacity and vocation of vine growers led to the rebirth of the industry to pre-phylloxera levels by the 1950s. However, industrial development in the Pamplona District from the 1960s onward nearly wiped out all of the vineyards.

In 1989, the descendants of the original winegrowers came together and pooled their lands to grow vines again. They also united all of their individual estates to form Bodegas Nekeas in 1990, and built their first winery together in 1993. Today, the estate has grown to be recognized as a figurehead of quality in Navarra, with a firm commitment towards viticulture and the cultivation of old vineyards.

Navarra is a wine region located in northern Spain and is gaining attraction for its high quality red wines, particularly those made with Cabernet Sauvignon. This particular red wine comes from the Valdizarbe Valley, in central Navarra, just south of the Pamplona basin, an area considered one of Spain's finest for the production of quality wine (and olive oil) due to its climate and high exposure to the sun. This Cabernet Sauvignon is planted in red clay soils at 1,500 feet above sea level and require tender loving care to be nurtured to maturity over a very long growing season, with harvest occurring in November. Let's see how this Navarra Cabernet Sauvignon is tasting tonight...

Vega Sindoa Cabernet Sauvignon 2017 (87 pts)

Tasting Note:

VEGA SINDOA CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2017 - Estate bottled, DO Navarra, Spain (#281246) (XD) - $15.95
Aged for 9 months in French oak barrels, this Navarra Cabernet Sauvignon has a medium+ intensity nose of dried fruit aromas of red cherry and cassis to go along with earthy, wood, and sweet spice notes. It's medium-full bodied on the palate with dried cherry, wood spice, and earthy flavours supported by sour acidity and smooth, supple tannins. Some alcoholic warmth on the mid-palate with savoury, earthy, and dried berry notes lingering on the finish, with good length. Score: 87 pts

Other delicious wines from Bodegas Nekeas can be ordered through their Agent - Eurovintage Wines & Spirits.


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  • Date publishedThursday, April 22, 2021

Tenuta Fratelli Povero Terre del Conte Roero Arneis 2019 (Piedmont) - Wine Review

To celebrate , wine review is a lovely white wine made with the Arneis varietal from its native home in Piedmont and arrived at the LCBO last weekend as part of the feature on wines from Piedmont in the LCBO VINTAGES Release on .

It is produced by Cantine Povero, a family that has been winemaking on the lands of Roero, Monferrato, and Langhe in Piedmont for almost 200 years. In 1948, Grandfather Tumlin planted his first vineyard and felt a strong emotional bond towards the land and pride to continue the traditions of his ancestors, whose roots go back to 1837.

In 1976, the sons of Tumlin, brothers Giovanni and Michelino Povero acquired their current headquarters in Cisterna d'Asti, at the foot of a medieval castle in Piedmont and planted 10 hectares of vineyards to expand their production. In 1987, Giovanni's three sons founded Tenuta Fratelli Povero where they produce wines from the best grapes of the oldest vineyards in the Roero area. The winery was renovated in 1998, and in 2010 they installed an innovative photovoltaic system that satisfies most of their energy needs with renewable sources. Dedicated to both tradition and innovation, the 3rd and 4th generation of the family is leading the winery into the future with a strong commitment to nature, while also transforming its fruits into wines that delight.

The name 'Arneis' literally translates into 'little rascal' in Piemontese and is so called because this varietal is somewhat difficult to grow. However, it has found a home in the hills of the Roero, northwest of Alba, where it is part of the DOCG wines of Roero. This particular Arneis comes from Tenuta Fratelli Povero's own organic vineyards in the hilly, sandy, and clayey soils of Roero. The grapes were manually harvested and fermented in stainless steel tanks, while also spending 2-3 months sur lie. Let's see how this Arneis is tasting tonight...

Tenuta Fratelli Povero Terre del Conte Roero Arneis 2019 (89 pts)

Tasting Note:

TENUTA FRATELLI POVERO TERRE DEL CONTE ROERO ARNEIS 2019 - DOCG, Piedmont, Italy (#436915) (XD) - $17.95
This organically grown Arneis has a medium+ intensity nose that leads with mineral followed by lovely ripe, lemon citrus, green apple, and yellow floral with delicate hints of honey. The medium-bodied, ripe palate is creamy and dry with honeyed notes of floral, citrus, pear, and apple and subtle spice flavours. It has very good, well-balanced acidity with notes of oyster shell minerality, lemon, apple, and pear lingering on the juicy finish, with very good length. Lovely! Score: 89 pts

Other lovely wines from Cantine Povero can be ordered through their Agent - Rare Earth Wines.


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  • Date publishedTuesday, April 20, 2021

Domaine de Côtes Rémont 2018 (Beaujolais) - Wine Review

wine review is a lovely Gamay from the Chénas Cru in Beaujolais, France. This red wine is a new arrival to the LCBO that landed on shelves across Ontario as part of the LCBO VINTAGES Release.

Domaine de Côtes Rémont is a small family estate in the north of Beaujolais, in the town of Chénas. The Estate had been practicing polyculture for more than 250 years until devoting itself to viticulture in the middle of the 20th century. In this green setting on steep slopes above the La Mauvaise river, they have 4 hectares of vines at 350 metres above sea level with exposure to the south and southwest. The family has a desire to craft authentic wines, while also having respect for nature and the environment. They practice sustainable viticulture and is committed to leaving the land in a better condition for future generations.

Located in northern Beaujolais, Chénas (pronounced Shay-nah) is the smallest of the 10 Beaujolais Crus. The area was once filled with dense oak forests that were gradually cut down first by the Gallo-Romans, then monasteries, and finally under orders by Philippe V., all of the remaining trees on the slopes of Mont Rémont were cut down and replaced with vines. By the 18th century, the vineyards in Chénas were producing highly valued that were exported to Paris and a favourite of Louis XIII.

This particular bottling is 100% Gamay from a 4 hectare contiguous site on steep slopes on the western side of Chénas with granite soils, from vines that are nearly 40 years of age. Let's see how this lovely Gamay is tasting tonight...

Domaine de Côtes Rémont 2018 (90 pts)

Tasting Note:

DOMAINE DE CÔTES RÉMONT 2018 - AP Chénas, Beaujolais, France (#18368) (XD) - $20.95
This 100% Gamay pours a fairly deep ruby-purple colour. The medium-high intensity nose is rich, complex, and ripe with cran-cherry, raspberry, strawberry, blackberry, and spice aromas. The light-to-medium bodied palate has ripe, tangy red fruits, raspberry, plum, cran-cherry, and currant flavours with subtle spice and floral notes. There is fresh, juicy acidity and some structure to the light tannins. Tangy red fruits with spice and floral notes linger on the long, structured finish. Enjoy this highly recommended buy over the next 5+ years. Score: 90 pts

Other lovely wines by Domaine de Côtes Rémont can be ordered through their Agent - Rare Earth Wines.


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  • Date publishedSunday, April 18, 2021

Bayle-Carreau Château Landreau 2016 (Bordeaux) - Wine Review

wine review is a lovely Right Bank Bordeaux that arrived at the LCBO for the first time this weekend as part of the LCBO VINTAGES Release.

It is produced Vignobles Bayle-Carreau, two families that have been cultivating vines in Bordeaux for more than 150 years. Both families share a passion for wine and excellence, with the Carreau family having profound knowledge of the vine that has been passed down from generation to generation, while the Bayle family has the expertise in winemaking.

The Carreau family's venture into viticulture began in 1852, while the Bayle family purchased their first estate in 1910. Bayle-Carreau was formed in 1952 when Jeanne-Marie, daughter of André Bayle, married Claude Carreau. With this union, the families combined their knowledge and expertise and further expanded their estates.

In 1955, the Bayle-Carreau family acquired Château Landreau, a property located on the first watershed of the Côtes de Bourg on the right bank of the Gironde estuary, around the town of Bourg-sur-Gironde, just northwest of the city of Bordeaux. The family restored and renovated Château Landreau after the property had ceased producing wine following the frost of 1956. The soils at Château Landreau consist of deep clay mixed with red gravel and has southwest exposure to the sun - conditions which are suitable for Merlot. With respect for the environment, Bayle-Carreau also practices sustainable viticulture at Château Landreau.

This red wine is from 14 hectare estate of Château Landreau and consists of 85% Merlot and 15% Cabernet Sauvignon. It was fermented in stainless steel tanks, following by further ageing in tank for 6 months, then aged in oak barrels for 12 to 14 months prior to bottling. It is interesting to know that 95% of this wine is sold locally in Bordeaux, leaving just 5% for export markets. I would say we are quite fortunate to have this land in Ontario. From a remarkable vintage, let's see how this delicious Bordeaux is tasting tonight...

Bayle-Carreau Château Landreau 2016 (90 pts)

Tasting Note:

BAYLE-CARREAU CHÂTEAU LANDREAU 2016 - AC Côtes de Bourg, Bordeaux, France (#18535) (XD) - $20.95
This blend of 85% Merlot and 15% Cabernet Sauvignon has a medium-high intensity nose that is rich and concentrated with aromas of ripe dark currant, dark plum, and savoury earth aromas with touches of wood, cassis, and herbs. It's medium-to-full bodied on the palate with flavours of black cherry, dark berry, plum, blackberry, currant, and cassis alongside subtle savoury earth and spice, plus spearmint notes adding further interest with time in the glass. It has fresh, balanced acidity and well-structured tannins that have a subtle chalky grip. Very good length with black cherry and hints of mineral on the finish. Drinking well now and should continue to develop nicely until the late '20s. Recommended buy. Score: 90 pts

Other lovely wines from Vignobles Bayle-Carreau can be ordered through their Agent - Connexion Oenophilia.


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  • Date publishedSaturday, April 17, 2021

Great Italian Wines - Understanding Indigenous Grape Varieties - Montepulciano & Aglianico

Great Italian Wines - Understanding Indigenous Grape Varieties - Montepulciano & Aglianico
After exploring Sangiovese & Vernaccia di San Gimignano last month as part of the masterclass series on "Great Italian Wines - Understanding Indigenous Grape Varieties", on I attended the 3rd part in the series which focused on the varieties Montepulciano & Aglianico.

Montepulciano has been cultivated since the late 1700s, and likely even earlier during the time of the Etruscans. Today, Montepulciano is the second most widely planted varietal in Italy, right after Sangiovese. It is planted mainly in central Italy, predominantly in Abruzzo, as well as the regions of Marche, Molise. and Puglia.

The most famous Montepulciano wines comes from the Montepulciano d'Abruzzo DOC. Montepulciano is a high-yielding grape that thrives in area of Abruzzo, in central Italy, along the eastern Adriatic coast. Abruzzo is considered the Greenest Region of Europe and also has 2nd highest mountain range in Europe with Mount Majella rising to 2,793 metres.

Winemaking traditions in Abruzzo date back to the 6th century BC and today produce the 5th most wine by volume in Italy. Montepulciano is produced in each of Abruzzo's provinces - L'Aquila (Capital), Chieti, Pescara, and Teramo - and over half of the 32,000 hectares of vines are planted to this varietal. Montepulciano has a blue-purple skin colour with a high concentration of inky coloured pigment. It is late-ripening and thick-skinned, yet produces wines with softer tannins and lower acidity. Montepulciano d'Abruzzo was designated a DOC in 1968 and requires at least 85% of the wine to be made with Montepulciano and no more than 15% of Sangiovese. The wine I tasted as part of this masterclass is 100% Montepulciano.

Aglianico is considered to be the Barolo of the South and the best examples are produced in Basilicata and Campania. The wine tasted in this masterclass is from Basilicata, a region located in the instep of the boot of Italy and borders Campania, Puglia, and Calabria between the Adriatic, Ionian and Tyrrhenian coasts. The mountainous region has been occupied by humans for many thousands of years and includes an extinct volcano - Mount Vulture - that rises to 1,326 metres above sea level.

Established in 1971, Aglianico del Vulture DOC is the most significant winemaking region of Basilicata. Only 2,400 hectares are cultivated, all on volcanic soils derived from Mount Vulture, and Aglianico is the only permitted grape within this DOC. The best examples of Aglianico del Vulture DOC wines are grown between 350 to 500 metres above sea level.

The Aglianico grape has a dark blue-black colour and is thick-skinned. It is a late-ripening variety that can be harvested into November and is low-yielding. Aglianico requires abundant sunshine and dry climates, while thriving on steep slopes, high altitudes, and volcanic soils. Aglianico del Vulture wines tend to be full-bodied and structured with firm tannins, and are very age-worthy.

As with previous masterclasses in the series, both of the wines are available by the case through their Agent - Cavinona. Use special discount code ICCOAPRIL for 10% off any case purchase until May 15th. These wines can also be purchased by the bottle at their bottle shops - contact Cavinona directly for details.

The small bites I enjoyed as part of the tasting package included some Grana Padano DOP and Pecorino Toscano DOP cheese, as well as A Però Carciofi e Olive (mixed artichokes and olives), and Focaccia - a traditional Italian flat oven-baked bread made by Luca Rotatori, the Head Baker at Spaccio, Terroni's central kitchen.

I very much enjoyed this tasting series and hope to attend the next online masterclasses in June and September. For more details and to register, please visit the Italian Chamber of Commerce of Ontario Canada.

@trueitaliantaste #ExtraordinaryItalianTaste #TrueItalianTaste #iffoodcouldtalk

Tasting Notes:

TORRE DEI BEATI MONTEPULCIANO D'ABRUZZO 2018 - DOC, Abruzzo, Italy (XD) - $31.50
100% Montepulciano grown on clay-limestone soils at 250 to 300 metres above sea level, and aged mainly in French oak barriques for 15-18 months. The medium-high intensity nose has rustic, peppery spice, black raspberry, earthy, and black plum aromas with touches of balsamic and barnyard. It's light-to-medium bodied with fresh, vibrant acidity and spicy flavours of dark berry, black raspberry, earth, and balsamic. It has very smooth, refined tannins, while pleasing savoury-earthy notes with touches of balsamic and coffee linger on the long, balanced, juicy finish. Score: 90 pts

Torre dei Beati Montepulciano d'Abruzzo 2018 (90 pts)

GRIFALCO AGLIANICO DEL VULTURE 2018 - DOC, Basilicata, Italy (XD) - $36.02
Organically grown 100% Aglianico from vines 25-40 years old, at 450 to 550 metres above sea level, and aged mostly in stainless steel tanks. Very pretty, medium-high intensity aromas of sweet spice, incense, and rose floral with underlying dark berry and smoky, earthy mineral aromas. On the medium-full to full-bodied palate it has lovely red and black cherry, wet earth, baking spice flavours supported by balanced acidity. Chalky, structured tannins are a bit tight at this stage. Savoury with mineral and touches of barnyard notes on the long finish. Enjoyable now, but will be even better after 3+ years in the cellar. Score: 91+ pts

Grifalco Aglianico del Vulture 2018 (91+ pts)


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  • Date publishedWednesday, April 14, 2021

April 17, 2021 LCBO VINTAGES Release Wine Picks: Sustainable + Piedmont

LCBO Wine Picks: April 17, 2021 VINTAGES Release
The major theme of the April 17, 2021 LCBO VINTAGES Release focuses on Sustainable Wines from around the world, while the mini-theme looks at wines from Piedmont. All of these wines, plus those from the rest of the Release should be on shelves across Ontario by Saturday.

We begin with the main theme on Sustainable Wines from around the world. Of the nineteen wines featured, four are included among my top wine picks. The concept of Sustainability is broken down into three areas of impact - in the vineyard, in the winery, and within the community. The Fumé Blanc from Niagara is an organic wine that consists of primarily Sauvignon Blanc aged in oak barrels (and concrete eggs), as well as a splash of Semillon. Villa Maria has many sustainability initiatives as it is a core value of this quality producer, and their Sauvignon Blanc from Wairau Valley is definitely a worthy buy. The last two wines that follow sustainability principles are the Rasteau that is a GSM blend consisting of 70% Grenache, 20% Syrah, and 10% Mourvèdre, and the Gran Selezione Chianti Classico is a blend of 97% Sangiovese and 3% Abrusco.

Villa Maria Wairau Valley Reserve Sauvignon Blanc 2019 (90+ pts)

From the feature on Piedmont wines, four of the nine wines listed are included among my top wine recommendations. While Piedmont is mostly known for their red wines, there are some fine white wines as well. After Moscato Bianco, the top still white wine grapes are Cortese and Arneis. In this Release, the wine from Gavi is made with Cortese, while the best-known examples of Arneis come from Roero. The king of red wine varieties from Piedmont is without a doubt Nebbiolo, but did you know that the Barbera grape is actually the region's most widely planted varietal? You can explore Barbera by Stefano Farina, as well as the relatively rare Grignolino varietal.

Tenuta Fratelli Povero Terre del Conte Roero Arneis 2019 (89 pts)

There are quite a few French red blends from the rest of the Release. The Bordeaux red is a blend of 85% Merlot and 15% Cabernet Sauvignon, while the red from Southwest France consists of Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, and the local varietal Abourriou. From Rhône, the Châteauneuf-du-Pape consists of 50%  Grenache, 35%  Syrah, and 15% Mourvèdre, while the Rioja is a blend of 75% Tempranillo, 15% Garnacha, and 10% Graciano & Mazuelo (Carignan). Single varietal wines include a fine Beaujolais made with Gamay, as well as the maturing wine from Abruzzo that is made with Montepulciano.

Bayle-Carreau Château Landreau 2016 (90 pts)Domaine de Côtes Rémont 2018 (90 pts)

Castorani Amorino Montepulciano d'Abruzzo 2013 (89 pts)

Among my white wine recommendations, the only blend is the Greek wine that consists of 75% Assyrtiko, 15% Athiri, and 10% Aidani. For those that prefer slightly sweet wines, you'll want to pick-up the pair of Riesling wines from Niagara to compare and contrast.

Enjoy my wine recommendations from this Release! Cin cin!

Red Wine:

  • STEFANO FARINA BARBERA D'ALBA 2018 - DOC, Piedmont, Italy (#10601) (XD) - $17.95
  • GÉRARD BERTRAND GRENACHE/SYRAH/MOURVÈDRE 2018 - AP Corbières, Languedoc, France (#394288) (XD) - $17.95
  • ACCORNERO BRICCO DEL BOSCO GRIGNOLINO MONFERRATO CASALESE 2019 - DOC, Piedmont, Italy (#426635) (XD) - $19.95
  • DOMAINE DE CÔTES RÉMONT 2018 - AP Chénas, Beaujolais, France (#18368) (XD) - $20.95  90 pts  wine review
  • DOMAINE DE BEYSSAC INITIAL 2016 - Unfined and unfiltered, AP Côtes du Marmandais, Southwest, France (#18367) (XD) - $20.95
  • BAYLE-CARREAU CHÂTEAU LANDREAU 2016 - AC Côtes de Bourg, Bordeaux, France (#18535) (XD) - $20.95  90 pts  wine review
  • CASTORANI AMORINO MONTEPULCIANO D'ABRUZZO 2013 - DOC, Abruzzo, Italy (#366732) (XD) - $24.95  89 pts  wine review
  • DOMAINE DE L'ESPIGOUETTE PAS DE MEUNIER RASTEAU 2017 - AC, Rhône, France (#18797) (XD) - $24.95
  • CHÂTEAU FORTIA CUVÉE DU BARON CHÂTEAUNEUF-DU-PAPE 2017 - Sustainable, AC, Rhône, France (#959999) (XD) - $51.95
  • BARONE RICASOLI CASTELLO DI BROLIO GRAN SELEZIONE CHIANTI CLASSICO 2016 - DOCG, Tuscany, Italy (#942607) (XD) - $59.95
  • R. LÓPEZ DE HEREDIA VIÑA TONDONIA RESERVA 2008 - DOCa Rioja, Spain (#356337) (XD) - $63.95

White Wine:

  • TENUTA FRATELLI POVERO TERRE DEL CONTE ROERO ARNEIS 2019 - DOCG, Piedmont, Italy (#436915) (XD) - $17.95  89 pts  wine review
  • LA GIUSTINIANA TERRE ANTICHE GAVI DI GAVI 2019 - DOCG, Piedmont, Italy (#17658) (XD) - $18.95
  • RADFORD DALE VINUM CHENIN BLANC 2018 - WO Stellenbosch, South Africa (#13338) (XD) - $18.95  90+ pts  wine review
  • JULES TAYLOR SAUVIGNON BLANC 2019 - Sustainable, Marlborough, South Island, New Zealand (#224428) (XD) - $19.95
  • CAVE SPRING ESTATE RIESLING 2018 - VQA Beamsville Bench, Niagara Escarpment, Ontario, Canada (#286377) (D) - $19.95
  • CHARLES BAKER B-SIDE RIESLING 2018 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#523845) (D) - $21.95
  • VILLA MARIA WAIRAU VALLEY RESERVE SAUVIGNON BLANC 2019 - Sustainable, Wairau Valley, Marlborough, South Island, New Zealand (#536201) (XD) - $24.95  90+ pts  wine review
  • NYKTERI SANTORINI 2018 - PDO, Greece (#18923) (XD) - $27.95  FE
  • HIDDEN BENCH FUMÉ BLANC 2019 - Rosomel Vineyard, VQA Beamsville Bench, Niagara Escarpment, Ontario, Canada (#68825) (XD) - $29.95
  • TESCH KRONE RIESLING TROCKEN 2018 - Qualitätswein, Nahe, Germany (#18253) (XD) - $34.95
Radford Dale Vinum Chenin Blanc 2018 (90+ pts)

Sparkling Wine:

  • CAVE SPRING BLANC DE BLANCS BRUT SPARKLING - Traditional method, VQA Niagara Escarpment, Ontario, Canada (#213983) (XD) - $29.95

Fortified:

  • GRAHAM'S QUINTA DOS MALVEDOS 2009 - Bottled in 2011, DOP, Portugal (#18363) (S) - $59.95  FE


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  • Date publishedTuesday, April 13, 2021

Planeta Frappato Vittoria 2018 (Sicily) - Wine Review

wine review is a lovely red wine made with the rare Frappato varietal from Sicily that arrived at the LCBO recently as part of the LCBO VINTAGES Release.

With a heritage of seventeen generations, Planeta is one of Sicily's historic wine producers. The family has been involved with the course of agricultural evolution over five centuries in the complex land of Sicily, with an approach always inclined to openness and innovation. During the 1900's, Grandfather Vito led the path towards new solutions and new prospects. In Menfi, he transformed the small family winery into a large co-operative winery in a short period of time.

In 1985, they planted their first vines next to the fortress of Ulmo, eventually growing to 50 hectares of vines and created a wine in 1995 that opened doors to the whole world. This success led to further research of the indigenous varieties of Sicily. They travelled across the island, from Menfi to Vittoria to Noto to Etna, and finally to Capo Milazzowith with the idea of producing each wine in its own territory. In 1997, they planted their first vines at Vittoria, where this red wine is from. Today, two generations of the family - including brothers and sisters, children, nieces and nephews - work together with a vision of unity, a love for the land, and a desire to protect it by using a sustainable, long-term viticultural approach to winemaking.

Frappato is a red wine grape that is genetically close to Sangiovese and ten other Italian red wine varieties, suggesting that it is a cross between Sangiovese and another varietal. It is more commonly used in blends, can be found on its own as well. Frappato is primarily grown in Sicily, with the best expressions coming from the red sands of Vittoria (where this wine is from) in southern Sicily, not far from the sea.

The first vintage of this Frappato was 2013, and it hails from Planeta's Dorilli winery in Vittoria. This Frappato was cultivated from only a few hectares of their Mogli vineyard in the commune of Acate, within the province of Ragusa, that mainly consists of loose red sand with no stones, and a layer of tufa below that is important for the water balance of the vines. Being close to the sea, the vineyard is only 70 metres above sea level. Let's see how the lighter bodied Frappato is tasting tonight...

Planeta Frappato Vittoria 2018 (91 pts)

Tasting Note:

PLANETA FRAPPATO VITTORIA 2018 - DOC, Sicily, Italy (#508655) (XD) - $24.95
100% Frappato that was raised entirely in stainless steel vats has a pretty, pale ruby colour. The medium-high intensity nose offers lovely red cherry and strawberry aromas alongside gentle spice, floral, and smoky notes. It is light-to-medium bodied on the palate with impressive concentration and structure. More red cherry, strawberry and white pepper spice with savoury undertones on the flavour profile. It has fresh acidity and light tannins that have a pleasant textural grip. Smoky and red berry notes linger on the long, chalky, and very satisfying finish. Must try! Score: 91 pts

Other lovely wines from Planeta can be found at the LCBO, as well as through their Agent - Noble Estates Wines & Spirits.


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  • Date publishedSunday, April 11, 2021

Laura Hartwig Single Vineyard Carménère 2018 (Chile) - Wine Review

After enjoying the lovely 2017 Laura Hartwig Edición de Familia back in November, wine review is another fine offering from Laura Hartwig that arrived at the LCBO last weekend as part of the LCBO VINTAGES Release.

Osvaldo Bisquertt purchased the property in 1928 to cultivate annual crops and raise cattle. In 1966, his daughter Laura Bisquert inherited the "Santa Laura" farm and further expanded the estate with her husband Alejandro Hartwig. In the 1970's, while the Hartwig family lived in Toronto and Montreal, Alejandro Hartwig (Sr.) took wine courses and developed a passion for wine, eventually deciding to establish a winery back in Chile as their active retirement project. In 1978, Laura Hartwig Premium Wines was borne when they planted their first vines in the Colchagua Valley. Today, Alejandro Hartwig Jr. has also joined the family project as winegrower.

This Single Vineyard Carménère is Laura Hartwig's top selling wine from the Colchagua Valley. It is crafted using grapes, which were planted in 2000, from the Block "Isla" at the Laura Hartwig Estate in Santa Cruz, the heart of Colchagua Valley. This site has clay loam soils on the surface with sand deposits located much deeper in the ground. The grapes were hand-harvested and sorted, then vinified in stainless steel tanks, followed by ageing in French oak barrels for 12 months. The 2018 vintage Chile was considered to be brilliant in terms of quality and quantity. Let's see how this Chilean Carménère is tasting tonight...

Laura Hartwig Single Vineyard Carménère 2018 (88 pts)

Tasting Note:

LAURA HARTWIG SINGLE VINEYARD CARMÉNÈRE 2018 - DO Colchagua Valley, Chile (#213512) (XD) - $15.95
Aged in French oak barrels for 12 months, this 100% Carménère has a fragrant nose offering aromas of herbaceous and grilled red pepper notes joined by blackberry and touches of vanilla, chocolate, and walnut. On the medium-bodied palate it has vanilla-infused flavours of grilled red pepper, herbs, and black cherry. Acids are fresh and well-balanced, while the polished tannins have a fine-grained texture. Chocolatey oak, black cherry, and red pepper notes linger on the juicy, balanced finish, with very good length. Enjoy over the next 2-3 years. Score: 88 pts

While you might find a couple of other wines from Laura Hartwig at the LCBO, your best bet is to contact their Agent - Profile Wine Group.


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  • Date publishedFriday, April 9, 2021

Rémy Ferbras Terre de Mistral Plan de Dieu Côtes du Rhône-Villages 2017 (France) - Wine Review

On this fine Friday, red wine review is a bright and lovely Côtes du Rhône-Villages that arrived at the LCBO last weekend as part of the LCBO VINTAGES Release.

Rémy Ferbras was the first cellar master of Grandes Serres, a winery with deep roots in the Southern Rhône Valley. With the Rémy Ferbras range of wines, Grandes Serres pays tribute to the iconic figure of the winery who was a tireless advocate of the Rhône terroir and of its grape varieties, and always succeeded in expressing the full potential of the Rhône Valley wines. Through his work and tenacity, Rémy Ferbras played a large role towards the development and public recognition of Grandes Serres. The range of Rémy Ferbras wines are the result of strict selections, and precise vinification and ageing, just as Remy Ferbras would have preferred.

Rémy Ferbras produces a diverse array of wines from the Southern Rhône Valley's most popular appellations, and this particular bottling is from Plan de Dieu, one of the named villages of the Côtes du Rhône-Villages appellation. Plan de Dieu, which translates to "God's Plain", is located in the Southern Rhône Valley, just west of Gigondas, and covers an area of 1,060 hectares, most of which is planted to vineyards with only a few patches of woodland among the vineyards. The climate in this area is Mediterranean and influenced by the Mistral winds, while the vines are primarily grown on a bed of red clay and smooth-rolled cobbles. The leading grape varieties of Plan de Dieu are Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvèdre, all found in this wine, and pick up aromas of the surrounding garrigue scrublands.

Although Plan de Dieu is linked to viticulture going back nearly 700 years, it was only awarded Côtes du Rhône-Villages with geographical name status for red wines in 2005. In order to give the appellation an identity, winegrowers designed a special bottle that is embossed with the village name and the vineyard's coat of arms - a bunch of grapes topped with an halo. Let's see how this latest vintage is tasting tonight...

Rémy Ferbras Terre de Mistral Plan de Dieu Côtes du Rhône-Villages 2017 (90 pts)

Tasting Note:

RÉMY FERBRAS TERRE DE MISTRAL PLAN DE DIEU CÔTES DU RHÔNE-VILLAGES 2017 - AP, France (#538009) (XD) - $16.95
This blend of Grenache, Syrah, Cinsault, and Mourvèdre was grown on soils mostly composed of limestone pebbles and brown clay, with each grape vinified separately prior to blending and bottling. The medium-high intensity nose is elegant and composed with red fruited, raspberry, cherry, and spices with underlying savoury tones flecked with stony minerals. It's full-bodied with very good fruit concentration on the spicy palate with more red fruit, cherry, and raspberry flavours balanced with stony and savoury notes. Acids are fresh, while the fine-grained tannins have some structure. Some chalky textured grip on the long, spicy, stony, and savoury finish. Enjoy this great buy over the next 3-5 years. Score: 90 pts

Other lovely wines from Rémy Ferbras can be found at the LCBO (there is a Châteauneuf-du-Pape), while the rest of the portfolio can be ordered through their Agent - DBINO David Beauroy Selections.


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  • Date publishedWednesday, April 7, 2021

M. Chapoutier Bila-Haut Occultum Lapidem 2017 (Roussillon) - Wine Review

wine review is this excellent red blend from the village of Latour-de-France within the Côtes du Roussillon-Villages appellation that returned to the LCBO over the weekend as part of the LCBO VINTAGES Release.

The roots of M. Chapoutier go back to 1808 when Calvet et Compagnie was created in the Rue de l’Hermitage in Tain, northern Rhône. Marius Chapoutier joined the company in 1897 and had complete control of the winery by the 1920's. Chapoutier winery was then passed down through the generations, eventually landing in the hands of world renowned winemaker Michel Chapoutier in 1990. With a passion for the environment and drive for innovation, Michel began applying biodynamic cultivation techniques and expanded the company in the year 2000 to produce wines from Roussillon.

Many wines encompass the fabulous portfolio of M. Chapoutier, with this particular wine coming from Domaine de Bila-Haut in Roussillon. This domain was setup by Michel in the village of Latour de France, in the hilly northern third of Roussillon, near Fitou and Corbieres, in the South of France. The vines of Bila-Haut and Occultum Lapidem were the first expressions of this terroir. Latour de France is situated on a bend in the Agly river - which winds it way to the Mediterranean Sea - and its climate is Mediterranean with long, hot summers, and relatively mild winters, while experiencing more sunshine over the course of a year than any other part of France.

This red wine is a blend of predominantly Syrah and Grenache, plus some Carignan, all of which were grown in a vineyard located on gneiss and schistous soils from the Devonian Period (approx. 400 million ago) and limestone from Kimmeridgian Period (approximately 150 million years ago). The grapes were hand-picked and matured entirely in concrete tanks.

I've had the pleasure of tasting previous vintages of this lovely wine and it has always been excellent. Although the 2017 vintage had reduced yields, the fruit during harvest was very good, thus allowing quality producers such as M. Chapoutier to craft excellent wines such as this.

M. Chapoutier Bila-Haut Occultum Lapidem 2017 (91+ pts)

Tasting Note:

M. CHAPOUTIER BILA-HAUT OCCULTUM LAPIDEM 2017 - AP Côtes du Roussillon-Villages Latour-de-France (#643239) (XD) - $26.95
Blend of mainly Syrah and Grenache, plus some Carignan, all aged in concrete tanks. The highly aromatic nose is fresh and complex with lovely garrigue, Provençal herb, black pepper spice, black cherry, dark berry, and schisty mineral notes. It's medium-full bodied on the palate with fresh, succulent acids and savoury, stony, black cherry, and black pepper spice flavours with touches of garrigue and herb. Well-balanced with refined tannins that have a nice, slightly chalky textured grip. Excellent length on the stony finish. Recommended buy! Score: 91+ pts

Other lovely wines from M. Chapoutier can be found at the LCBO, as well as through their Agent - Philippe Dandurand Wines Ltd.


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  • Date publishedMonday, April 5, 2021

Lealtanza Reserva 2015 (Rioja) - Wine Review (Apr. 2021)

For wine review, I look at this lovely, vegan-friendly Rioja from Spain that arrived at the LCBO over the weekend as part of the LCBO VINTAGES Release. I last enjoyed the 2015 Lealtanza Reserva back in August when it arrived in VINTAGES earlier that month and am delighted to see it return to shelves across Ontario.

This red wine is crafted by Bodegas Altanza, a wine producer that was founded in 1998 with a name that is a synonym of quality and dedicated to producing top Reserva wines. Bodegas Altanza is located in Fuenmayor, Rioja Alta, and known for combining tradition with modernity to craft the best quality wines at competitive prices. The estate owns 220 hectares of vineyards and represents approximately 60% of their needs, with the rest sourced from winegrowers using a strict selection process.

All of their red wines are crafted using 100% Tempranillo, the "queen" of Rioja autochthonous varieties, and the most popular red varietal in Spain. Altanza's wines are fermented with natural yeasts, and while most wines from Rioja are aged in American oak barrels, Altanza chooses to age all of their wines primarily in French oak barrels, including the use of 22,000 Litre Allier vats.

Back in August, I suggested that this fine red wine could be enjoyed over the next 4-5 years, so let's see how it has evolved since that time.

Lealtanza Reserva 2015 (90 pts)

Tasting Note:

LEALTANZA RESERVA 2015 - Vegan, DOCa Rioja, Spain (#208223) (XD) - $22.95
100% Tempranillo that was aged for 18 months in French barrels, followed by 3 months in 22,000 Litre French oak vats. The medium-high intensity nose is pleasantly savoury and mature in profile with sweet spice, sandalwood, and earthy aromas alongside dried berry, cherry, and touches of dried floral. It's medium+ bodied on the savoury palate with more earthy, sandalwood, sweet spice, and some dried cherry and floral flavours. Acids are well-balanced, while the fine-grained tannins have a subtle textured grip. Well-balanced throughout with lovely savoury, sandalwood, and dried cherry notes lingering on the long, slightly chalky finish. Enjoy this fine, maturing Rioja over the next 3-4 years. Score: 90 pts

Other lovely wines from Bodegas Altanza can be ordered through their Agent - Profile Wine Group.


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  • Date publishedSaturday, April 3, 2021

LAVAU Vacqueyras 2017 (Rhône) - Wine Review

Tonight's wine review is the latest vintage of this lovely red wine from the Southern Rhône Valley cru of Vacqueyras that arrived at the LCBO today as part of the April 3, 2021 LCBO VINTAGES Release.

Maison LAVAU was founded in the Rhône Valley in 1964 by the Lavau family that had been involved in winemaking from Bordeaux to Tunisia for several generations. Seduced by the richness and quality of the Provencal soils, the Lavau family decided to settle in the Rhône Valley. Today, Maison LAVAU continues to be managed by brothers Benoit and Frédéric Lavau, and they own three cellars in the Southern Rhône Valley where they vinify all of their wines. In addition to owning wine estates covering more than 180 hectares of vines across the Rhône Valley, the Lavau family has also formed long-running partnerships with more than 350 growers, thus allowing Maison LAVAU to select the best terroir and grapes in order to craft top quality wines.

I last enjoyed the 2014 LAVAU Vacqueyras back in June 2018 and am surprised that this red wine did not come back to the LCBO for a couple of years. The 2017 vintage in the Southern Rhone can be described as inconsistent with heavy rains in May leading to reduced yields of the ever-sensitive Grenache. However, there was almost no rain from the end of June and it was very hot throughout the rest of the growing season, resulting in a very good quality vintage that produced structured, age-worthy wines. The reduced yields of Grenache apparently had no effect on this wine is it remains a blend of 50% Grenache, 40% Syrah, and 10% Mourvédre. The vines have an average age of 35+ years old and were grown on west-facing parcels on the plain of Vacqueyras with good draining alluvial and sandy soils. Let's see how the 2017 is tasting tonight...

LAVAU Vacqueyras 2017 (91 pts)

Tasting Note:

LAVAU VACQUEYRAS 2017 - AC, Rhône, France (#104927) (XD) - $26.95
A blend of 50% Grenache, 40% Syrah, and 10% Mourvédre that was aged in a combination of stainless steel vats and used barrels. The medium-high intensity nose has a savoury core surrounded by complex aromas of black pepper, dark berry, spice, and plum notes. The full-ish bodied palate has lovely flavours of red cherry, raspberry, spice with savoury undertones and a hint of orange. It has well-balanced acidity and refined, well-knit tannins with a touch of chalky grip. Really well-balanced throughout with more savoury and stony flavours with spice and a tinge of orange on the long finish. Enjoy this lovely Vacqueyras over the next 5+ years. Score: 91 pts

Other lovely wines from Maison Lavau can be ordered through their Agent - Connexion Oenophilia.


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  • Date publishedThursday, April 1, 2021

Errázuriz Aconcagua Alto Carmenère 2018 (Chile) - Wine Review

To start off the long weekend, wine review is this lovely Carmenère from Chile that arrives at the LCBO this long weekend as the Wine of the Month from the LCBO VINTAGES Release.

Viña Errázuriz was founded in 1870 by businessman and politician Don Maximiano Errázuriz. With a great vision for the future, along with an innovative and pioneering spirit, he planted the first French grape varietals in the Aconcagua Valley, about 65 km north of Santiago. The winery has since passed through generations of the family and today still remains with the descendants of Don Maximiano. Today, Eduardo Chadwick represents the fifth generation of the family to lead Viña Errázuriz, an iconic Chilean winery that has become one of the world's most noteworthy.

I've had the opportunity to taste previous vintages of this wine and it has always been a delight. The 2018 vintage of this Carmenère is sourced from their vineyard site located 600 metres above sea level, on the second ancient alluvial terrace of the Aconcagua River where the deep gravel soil has a clay-loam texture. These unique soil conditions, plus the radiant sun, allows this late-ripening varietal to have great success in the Aconcagua Valley. The grapes for this red wine were hand-picked, double sorted, and then crushed. After fermentation in stainless steel tanks, it was aged in French oak barrels (35% new) for 14 months. Overall, the 2018 vintage in Chile was considered to be brilliant. Let's see how this Carmenère is tasting tonight...

Errázuriz Aconcagua Alto Carmenère 2018 (90 pts)

Tasting Note:

ERRÁZURIZ ACONCAGUA ALTO CARMENÈRE 2018 - DO Valle de Aconcagua, Chile (#546424) (XD) - $21.95
Fresh, herbally, tomato leaf, and roasted red pepper aromas surround a core and red and black fruits, and subtle wood spice. The medium-full bodied palate offers juicy, slightly tart red and dark berry fruits, tomato leaf, paprika, and wood spice flavours, with herbally and red pepper notes in the background. Very clean and well-balanced throughout with balanced acidity and textured, slightly chalky tannins. Earthy and savoury on the long, structured finish. Enjoy this fine Carmenère over the next 3-5 years. Score: 90 pts

Other fine wines from Viña Errázuriz can be found at the LCBO, as well as through their Agent - Philippe Dandurand Wines Ltd.


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  • Date publishedThursday, April 1, 2021

April 3, 2021 LCBO VINTAGES Release Wine Picks: California + Food-Friendly Wines

LCBO Wine Picks: April 3, 2021 VINTAGES Release
The main theme of what is a pretty good April 3, 2021 LCBO VINTAGES Release focuses on wines from California, while the mini-theme looks at food-friendly wines. All of these wines, including those from the rest of Release should be available on shelves across Ontario by this Saturday.

We begin with the theme on wines from California, with varietals the main focus. Of the fourteen wines featured, three are included among my top wine picks. California Cabernet Sauvignon is usually first to come to mind when thinking of California wines, so it's no surprise that there is a top Cali Cab among my recommendations. Merlot is also making a return into the spotlight, and there is one fine example from Napa Valley that consists of 91.5% Merlot, 5.8% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 2.7% Petit Verdot. The last wine from California is a lovely traditional method sparkling wine that consists of 88% Pinot Noir and 12% Chardonnay.

From the feature on food-friendly wines, the is on fresh white wines, lighter reds, and sparkling wines. Each of these styles of wines are suitable for a numbers of types of dishes and is worth a read in the magazine. Although there are some quality wines listed as part of the feature, none are included among my wine recommendations below.

There are many lovely red wines from the rest of the Release. From France, the Roussillon red is a blend of Syrah, Grenache, and Carignan, while the Vacqueyras is a blend of 50% Grenache, 40% Syrah and 10% Mourvèdre. Also from France, the Côtes du Rhône-Villages is a blend of Grenache, Syrah, Cinsault, and Mourvèdre. From Italy, the Chianti Classico is a blend of approximately 90% Sangiovese and 10% Merlot using grapes from their estate in Radda in Chianti, while the wine from Sicily is made with the rare Frappato varietal. From Spain, the Rioja is made with 100% Tempranillo, while the Australian red is a co-fermented blend of 96% Shiraz and 4% Viognier. Lastly, the wine from Sardinia is made with Grenache, or locally known as Cannonau.

M. Chapoutier Bila-Haut Occultum Lapidem 2017 (91+ pts)Lavau Vacqueyras 2017 (91 pts)

Lealtanza Reserva 2015 (90 pts)Planeta Frappato Vittoria 2018 (91 pts)

The Black Chook Shiraz/Viognier 2019 (88 pts)Rémy Ferbras Terre de Mistral Plan de Dieu Côtes du Rhône-Villages 2017 (90 pts)

Among my white wine picks, there are a trio of Sauvignon Blanc wines, as well as a trio of Chardonnays, including one from Burgundy. The wine from Loire is made with the Melon grape from old vines between 40 to 60 years old. For sweet wine lovers, you'll want to check out the Pinot Gris from Alsace, or the Riesling from Mosel.

For dry rosé wine lovers, check out the latest rosé from Niagara that is made with 100% Pinot Noir.

Malivoire Vivant Rosé 2020

Enjoy my wine recommendations from this Release! Cheers!

Red Wine:

  • LAURA HARTWIG SINGLE VINEYARD CARMENÈRE 2018 - DO Colchagua Valley, Chile (#213512) (XD) - $15.95  88 pts  wine review
  • RÉMY FERBRAS TERRE DE MISTRAL PLAN DE DIEU CÔTES DU RHÔNE-VILLAGES 2017 - AP, France (#538009) (XD) - $16.95  90 pts  wine review
  • THE BLACK CHOOK SHIRAZ/VIOGNIER 2019 - McLaren Vale, South Australia (#66738) (XD) - $18.95  88 pts  wine review
  • ANTICHI PODERI JERZU CHUÈRRA RISERVA CANNONAU DI SARDEGNA 2017 - DOC, Sardinia, Italy (#270272) (XD) - $19.95
  • SUTHERLAND SYRAH 2016 - WO Elgin, South Africa (#13349) (XD) - $19.95
  • ERRÁZURIZ ACONCAGUA ALTO CARMENÈRE 2018 - DO Valle de Aconcagua, Chile (#546424) (XD) - $21.95  90 pts  wine review
  • LEALTANZA RESERVA 2015 - Vegan, DOCa Rioja, Spain (#208223) (XD) - $22.95  90 pts  wine review
Errázuriz Aconcagua Alto Carmenère 2018 (90 pts)Laura Hartwig Single Vineyard Carmenère 2018 (88 pts)

  • PLANETA FRAPPATO VITTORIA 2018 - DOC, Sicily, Italy (#508655) (XD) - $24.95  91 pts  wine review
  • LAVAU VACQUEYRAS 2017 - AC, Rhône, France (#104927) (XD) - $26.95  91 pts  wine review
  • M. CHAPOUTIER BILA-HAUT OCCULTUM LAPIDEM 2017 - AP Côtes du Roussillon-Villages Latour-de-France (#643239) (XD) - $26.95  91+ pts  wine review
  • VOLPAIA CHIANTI CLASSICO 2017 - DOCG, Tuscany, Italy (#953828) (XD) - $32.95
  • FREEMARK ABBEY MERLOT 2017 - Napa Valley, California, USA (#1602) (XD) - $54.95
  • TORRES MAS LA PLANA CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2015 - DO Penedès, Spain (#129676) (XD) - $69.95  FE  92 pts  wine review
  • CATERWAUL CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2018 - Sustainable, Napa Valley, California, USA (#19597) (XD) - $84.95
  • CASTELLO ROMITORIO FILO DI SETA BRUNELLO DI MONTALCINO 2015 - DOCG, Tuscany, Italy (#16751) (XD) - $139.95  FE
Torres Mas La Plana Cabernet Sauvignon 2015 (92 pts)

White Wine:

  • OTU MARLBOROUGH SAUVIGNON BLANC 2019 - Marlborough, South Island, New Zealand (#17549) (XD) - $17.95
  • DOMAINE DES TILLEULS LES VÉNÉRABLES VIEILLES VIGNES SUR LIE MUSCADET SÈVRE ET MAINE 2017 - AP, Loire, France (#18546) (XD) - $18.95
  • PIERRE SPARR SOL CALCAIRE PINOT GRIS 2016 - AC Alsace, France (#19482) (M) - $19.95
  • UNDURRAGA TERROIR HUNTER SAUVIGNON BLANC 2018 - Limarí Valley, Chile (#17614) (XD) - $22.95  FE
  • SILENI STRAITS GRAND RESERVE SAUVIGNON BLANC 2019 - Sustainable, Marlborough, South Island, New Zealand (#17550) (XD) - $23.95
  • VASSE FELIX FILIUS CHARDONNAY 2019 - Margaret River, Western Australia (#416511) (XD) - $24.95  FE
  • STUDERT-PRÜM MAXIMINHOF WEHLENER SONNENUHR RIESLING KABINETT 2017 - Prädikatswein, Mosel, Germany (#970129) (S) - $24.95
  • CHÂTEAU VITALLIS POUILLY-FUISSÉ LES PERRIÈRES 2017 - AC, Burgundy, France (#18470) (XD) - $38.95
  • BACHELDER SAUNDERS-HAUT VINEYARD CHARDONNAY 2017 - VQA Beamsville Bench, Niagara Escarpment, Ontario, Canada (#324103) (XD) - $44.95  FE

Rosé Wine:

  • MALIVOIRE VIVANT ROSÉ 2020 - Sustainable, VQA Beamsville Bench, Niagara Escarpment, Ontario, Canada (#498535) (XD) - $19.95

Sparkling Wine:

  • GLORIA FERRER SONOMA BRUT SPARKLING - Traditional method, Sonoma County, California, USA (#192898) (D) - $34.95

Fortified:

  • DALVA COLHEITA PORT 1995 - Bottled 2020, DOC, Portugal (#69930) (S) - $51.95  FE  92-93 pts  wine review
Dalva Colheita Port 1995 (92-93 pts)


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