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  • Date publishedMonday, February 1, 2021

Wakefield Clare Valley Estate Chardonnay 2019 (Australia) - Wine Review



For wine review, I opened this delicious Australian Chardonnay that is a frequent visitor to the LCBO. This particular bottle is the 2019 vintage that arrives on our shores as part of the LCBO VINTAGES Release.

Wakefield Wines are hand-crafted by three generations of the Taylor family at their estate in Clare Valley. In 1969, Bill Taylor Sr. and his two sons, Bill and John, founded Wakefield Wines by the Wakefield River in South Australia's Clare Valley. Today, the third generation of the Taylors - Mitchell, Justin and Clinton - continue the family's long term goal to make wines that will stand the test of time and the next generation will be proud of.

The Taylors are committed to sustainability and acting responsibly for future generations. Their goal is to apply the best practices in environmental management to enhance sustainable business activities and products. They use innovative techniques to improve energy efficiency, water conservation, and packaging, while also minimizing waste and pollution. Through a holistic approach to environmental management, they also aim for biodiversity and sustainable land for the present and future.

I last enjoyed this wine when the previous vintage - the 2018 Wakefield Clare Valley Estate Chardonnay - came to LCBO VINTAGES last . The 2019 vintage was a difficult one in South Australia due to the hot weather and drought. The heat and water stress led to an early and condensed vintage with reduced yields. However, careful canopy management and water irrigation helped reduce the effects. Due to the reduced yields, the fruit for this vintage comes from both Clare Valley and further south in Padthaway.

Back in August, I looked at the innovative and exclusive, touch-activated Optimum Drinking Temperature sensor that is found on the back label of many Wakefield Wines. Temperature is very important when enjoying a glass of wine and because every wine has its own ideal drinking temperature, the sensor is calibrated to each individual wine and changes colour depending on the temperature of the wine. When the colour of the sensor falls within the ideal range using the accompanying chart, the wine is ready to be enjoyed. Personally, I think it works well, however, I tend to enjoy my Chardonnays on the warmer side. How cold (or warm) do you prefer your Chardonnay?

Wakefield Clare Valley Estate Chardonnay 2019 (88 pts)Wakefield Clare Valley Estate Chardonnay 2019 - Optimal Drinking Temperature Sensor

Tasting Note:

WAKEFIELD CLARE VALLEY ESTATE CHARDONNAY 2019 - Clare Valley & Padthaway, South Australia (#711556) (XD) - $16.95
With fruit from both Clare Valley & Padthaway, the majority of the fruit was fermented in used French oak barrels. Screw cap. The medium+ intensity nose is ripe with apple, pear, tropical fruit, and vanilla aromas along with subtle peach and butterscotch notes. The medium+ bodied palate is also very ripe with delicious pear, apple, tropical fruit, vanilla and butterscotch. Acids are fresh and nicely balanced, while some leesy notes arrive on the ripe apple, pear, and vanilla flavoured finish, with very good length. Reliably delicious year after year. Score: 88 pts

Other delicious Wakefield Wines are available at the LCBO, as well as through their Agent - Profile Wine Group.


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  • Date publishedSaturday, January 30, 2021

Indómita Old Vines Dry Farmed Gran Reserva Carignan 2018 (Chile) - Wine Review

red wine review is a lovely Carignan from Chile. It is new to the LCBO and arrived on shelves across Ontario last weekend as part of the LCBO VINTAGES Release.

It is produced by Viña Indómita, a relatively young winery located on a hillside in Casablanca with a gorgeous view of the valley, 64 km northwest of Santiago and just 18 km from the Pacific Ocean. They have 100 hectares of vineyards planted on clay soils that are rich in minerals. The climate in this area is fresh with high diurnal temperature variation.

Sustainability is an integral part of Viña Indómita. In addition to organic production, they also manage waste treatment, generate renewable energy, and use lightweight bottles to reduce carbon emissions. They also help protect local forests, flora and fauna, and native species. Viña Indómita also socially responsible by supporting local individuals and businesses by promoting economic activities in the areas of wine production, tourism and gastronomy.

The grape for this wine come from Maule Valley, Chile's oldest wine region, on land that has been worked for nearly 5 centuries. Maule Valley is filled with small farmers that have rustic customs and age-old cultivation techniques that have been passed down to the next generation. The grapes are de-stemmed and crush, followed by fermentation in tanks. A portion of this wine is aged in barrels for almost 1 year, while the rest remains in tank.

Looking back on my notes, I see that I liked every single Indómita wine that I tasted previously and would expect this Carignan to be just as enjoyable. Let's see how this red wine is tasting tonight...

Indómita Old Vines Dry Farmed Gran Reserva Carignan 2018 (90 pts)


Tasting Note:

INDÓMITA OLD VINES DRY FARMED GRAN RESERVA CARIGNAN 2018 - DO Maule Valley, Chile (#16627) (XD) - $17.95
A blend of 95% Carignan and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon, the medium-high intensity nose is ripe with a mix of red and black fruits like raspberry, cherry, and blackberry nuanced with rustic, earthy, and dried spice aromas. It's medium+ bodied on the palate with juicy, sour acidity to support the very saline, red and black berry fruit, and charcuterie flavours surrounding the savoury core. Slightly dusty tannins are subtly textured and well-integrated. Nicely balanced throughout with pleasing earthy, savoury notes lingering on the long finish. Another winner from Indómita! Score: 90 pts

While no other wines from Viña Indómita are currently available at the LCBO, they can be ordered via their Agent - Rare Earth Wines.


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  • Date publishedWednesday, January 27, 2021

Les Vignes de Bila-Haut Côtes du Roussillon Blanc 2018 (Midi) - Wine Review

white wine review is a lovely Côtes du Roussillon Blanc by M. Chapoutier that returned to the LCBO as part of the recent LCBO VINTAGES Release.

The origins of this historic and highly-acclaimed winemaking company date back to the year 1808, with the Chapoutier name entering the picture in 1897 and Marius Chapoutier becoming the sole owner of the company in 1922. In 1929, Marius created the new winery at the foot of the Hermitage hill. Upon the passing of Marius, his son, Marc, took over the family business and changed the name to what we see today - M. Chapoutier.

In 1990, current owner and legendary Michel Chapoutier became the head of the company and began to apply the principles of biodynamic cultivation. In 2000, Chapoutier purchased its first estate in Roussillon. This particular wine is from Domaine de Bila-Haut, a domain that Chapoutier founded in Latour-de-France, Roussillon. At first, there were a couple of wines created to express this terroir, then followed by six years of reflection, observation, and analysis. Over time, more wines were added to the portfolio, as well as adding other sites in Roussillon.

Today, Mathilde and Maxime, the children of Michel, form the next generation of the Chapoutier family to join business. Together, they perpetuate the family tradition and vision to craft wines based on the concept of terroir.

I enjoyed the 2015 Les Vignes de Bila-Haut Côtes du Roussillon Blanc back in and am delighted to open the 2018 vintage tonight. This bottling is a blend of Grenache Blanc, Roussanne, Marsanne, and Macabeu varietals that were grown on sites belonging to Domaine de Bila-Haut. Some of the grapes come from limestone, clay soils, and gneiss in the Agly Valley, while the rest were from granite soils located on higher altitude (500 metres elevation), later ripening sites. The grapes were manually-harvested and hand-sorted to protect the aromas, while vinification occurred in stainless steel tanks, and ageing lasted only a few months to enhance freshness and minerality. Let's see how this white wine from Roussillon is tasting tonight...

Les Vignes de Bila-Haut Côtes du Roussillon Blanc 2018 (89 pts)

Tasting Note:

LES VIGNES DE BILA-HAUT CÔTES DU ROUSSILLON BLANC 2018 - AP, Midi, France (#485656) (XD) - $15.95
This blend of Grenache Blanc, Roussanne, Marsanne, and Macabeu has lovely floral, lemon citrus, grapefruit, and ripe apple aromas of medium+ intensity with touches of smoky mineral. The dry, medium+ bodied palate is slightly fleshy with fresh, crisp and lively acidity to support the ripe lemon citrus, grapefruit and white floral flavours, with fine mineral notes arriving on the long, crisp finish. Recommended buy. Score: 89 pts

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


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  • Date publishedMonday, January 25, 2021

Les Hauts de Lagarde Blanc 2019 (Bordeaux) - Wine Review

wine review is a lovely organic and vegan-friendly white wine from Bordeaux that came to the LCBO over the weekend as part of the LCBO VINTAGES Release.

It is produced by Maison Raymond, a vigneron and negociant family that has a history of winegrowing that dates back to the year 1850. Maison Raymond is located in the southeastern end of Entre-Deux-Mers, Bordeaux's largest appellation, within the commune of Saint-Laurent-du-Bois. Entre-Deux-Mers stretches from near the city of Bordeaux and moves southeasterly, between the Garonne and Dordogne rivers. In addition to growing wines in Saint-Laurent-du-Bois, they also have vineyards in the villages of Saint-Martial and Saint-Felix de Conclude, where wines have been grown since medieval times.

The family property of the domaine du Château de Lagarde has been built up over years by successive generations and uses a combination of ancestral traditions and efficient, modern technologies to craft its wines. In 2000, Lionel Raymond purchased the organic vineyard of Château Joumes Fillon and because he had strong respect for the environment and terroir, he also converted his own vineyard - all 130 hectares - to organic agriculture. Most winemakers in the area thought he was crazy as it was twice the work of a conventional vineyard. Today, Maison Raymond is one of Bordeaux's largest organic wineries and one of the few in the region that has made the commitment to organic viticulture.

This particular organic white wine is a blend of 60% Sauvignon Blanc and 40% Sémillon that was grown on a hillside vineyard with clay-limestone soil and gravels in Saint-Laurent-du-Bois, where the climate is mild due to the influence of the Atlantic Ocean. I enjoyed tasting the 2018 vintage of this wine when it arrived in LCBO VINTAGES in April 2019 and expect this latest vintage to be just as lovely.

Les Hauts de Lagarde Blanc 2019 (89 pts)

Tasting Note:

LES HAUTS DE LAGARDE BLANC 2019 - Vegan, AC Bordeaux, France (#387787) (XD) - $18.95
This organic wine is a blend of 60% Sauvignon Blanc and 40% Sémillon that was grown on clay-limestone soil and gravels. The highly aromatic nose is fragrant and pretty with notes of ripe lemon/lime, citrus, passion fruit, kiwi, and white flowers. It's medium+ bodied on the ripe palate with lovely aroma replays plus touches of honey that are balanced by crisp, balanced acidity. Slightly chalky mineral textured on the mid-palate, while the long finish is juicy with oyster shell mineral and lime notes. Recommended buy. Score: 89 pts

Other lovely wines from Maison Raymond can be found via their Agent - Rare Earth Wines.


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  • Date publishedSaturday, January 23, 2021

San Pedro 1865 Tayú Pinot Noir 2018 (Chile) - Wine Review

wine review is a lovely Pinot Noir from the Malleco Valley, Chile's southernmost wine region. This exciting red wine is a new arrival to the LCBO as part of LCBO VINTAGES Release.

Tayú, which means "ours" in the Mapudungun language, is the proud result of an honest collaboration between the people of Buchahueico and San Pedro winery to celebrate Chile's indegenous roots. Buchahueico is located in the foothills of the Nahuelbuta Mountains in the Purén area of the Malleco Valley in the Araucanía region, approximately 540 km south of Santiago, in south-central Chile. The families of the Buchahueico community, known as Mapuche - meaning "people of the land" - have a deep connection to the earth that goes beyond what can be understood oenologically.

The Mapuche worked together with San Pedro's winemakers, to harness their intimate knowledge of the soils and craft a Pinot Noir that truly expresses its origin. The vineyard in Buchahueico is divided into two 2.5 hectare sites that have very old, red-coloured soils of granitic origin with a clay-loam texture and abundant quartz and granite. The soils are quite acidic and corrected with agricultural lime to make them neutral, thus lending itself to create wines with vibrant acidity. Due to the site's proximity to the Pacific Ocean, the microclimate of the Nahuelbuta Mountains, and it's latitude of 38° South, the temperature in this area is considered moderate, ranging from 4.2°C from to 27.8°C during the growing season, thus allowing the grapes to ripen slowly and later than other regions.

The Pinot Noir in this wine is made using Clones 115, 777, and 828, with each contributing its own unique characteristics. Clone 115 imparts spicy and herbal tones, while Clone 777 provides fresh red fruit and floral notes. Lastly, Clone 828 contributes black fruit and earthy aromas, as well as adding structure to the wine. After manually harvesting and sorting the grapes, 15% was fermented in concrete eggs with the remainder in stainless steel tanks. It was aged in a combination of concrete eggs (15%), untoasted French oak foudres (40%), and the rest in used French oak barrels. Let's see how this red wine is tasting tonight...

San Pedro 1865 Tayú Pinot Noir 2018 (91+ pts)

Tasting Note:

SAN PEDRO 1865 TAYÚ PINOT NOIR 2018 - Buchahueico, DO Malleco Valley, Chile (#16628) (XD) - $19.95
With an eye-catching label on the outside, this Pinot Noir is very impressive on the inside as well with its fresh, medium-high intensity, and complex aromas of wet earth and bright red fruits, and wild herb flecked with minerals, raspberry, spice, and touches of floral. It's light-to-mid-weighted on the palate with lovely sour cherry, raspberry, red fruit tones, spice, wet earth, and hints of tea leaf flavours. It gains weight in the mouth with its fresh, citrusy acidity, and lightly structured, fine tannins that have a touch of pleasant grip towards the back palate. Nicely balanced throughout with some interesting salty notes joining the wet earth characters on the long, succulent, minerally finish. Highly recommended buy! Score: 91+ pts

Other lovely wines from San Pedro can be found at the LCBO, as well as through their Agent - Dandurand.


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  • Date publishedThursday, January 21, 2021

Laya 2018 (Spain) - Wine Review

wine review is a nice Spanish red wine that arrives at the LCBO this weekend as part of the LCBO VINTAGES Release.

Bodegas Atalaya is part of the Gil Family Estates group of wineries. The family's winemaking story begins with humble beginnings in 1916 in the heart of Jumilla, Spain, and has continuously remained in the family, now spanning four generations. Today, Gil Family Estates is run by brothers Miguel and Ángel Gil. They have over 1,400 hectares of vineyards among their many wineries in Spain's winegrowing regions.

Bodegas Atalaya is located in DOP Almansa, the easternmost and one of the smallest wine regions in Castilla-La Mancha, and bordered by the Mediterranean Sea further to the east. The climate is dry, hot, arid, and very lightly influenced by the sea. The very old bush vines of Garnacha Tintorera (Alicante Bouschet) and Monastrell (Mourvèdre) flourish in the limestone soils of low fertility and little rain to produce concentrated fruit that is bursting with flavour and fragrance.

This unique red wine is a blend of Garnacha Tintorera and Monastrell that were grown on bush vines in the region of Almansa in southeastern Spain on calcareous soils located between 700 to 1,000 metres above sea level. The grapes were fermented separately in stainless steel tanks, followed by a short passage through French wood, then remained in stainless steel tanks prior to bottling.

Laya 2018 (88 pts)

Tasting Note:

LAYA 2018 - DOP Almansa, Spain (#132605) (D) - $17.95
A blend of Garnacha Tintorera (Alicante Bouschet) and Monastrell (Mourvèdre) bush vines raised mostly in stainless steel tanks. The medium-high intensity nose is fruit forward and ripe with blueberry, bramble, black tea, and savoury aromas. It's medium+ bodied on the sweetish palate with more ripe blueberry, blackberry, and black tea flavours with some savouryness and touches of pepper spice. It has fresh, juicy acidity and polished tannins that offer a subtle, textural grip, along with some warmth on the mid-palate. Dark berry and savoury notes linger on the finish, with good length. Score: 88 pts

Other wines from Bodegas Atalaya and Gil Family Estates can be found at the LCBO or through their Agent - Profile Wine Group.


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  • Date publishedThursday, January 21, 2021

January 23, 2021 LCBO VINTAGES Release Wine Picks: Chile + British Columbia

LCBO Wine Picks: January 23, 2021 VINTAGES Release
The second release of the year is the January 23, 2021 LCBO VINTAGES Release and features wines from Chile as the main theme, while the mini-theme looks at the six top producers from British Columbia. As usual, there also many other lovely wines throughout the rest of the release, and all of these wines should be on shelves by this Saturday.

We begin with the main theme that looks at the wines of Chile and its values and virtues. In addition to first-class winemaking and well-priced wines, Chile is known for its numerous sustainable winemaking initiatives. Chile is also diverse in its climates, regions, and grape varietals. In this release as part of the theme, there are twelve wines featured and four are included among my top wine picks. First up is an organic sparkling wine that always provides pleasure and consists of 85% Chardonnay and 15% Pinot Noir. There are also three fine reds from Chile. From the Central Valley area, the Travesy is a blend of 38% Malbec, 33% Carignan, and 29% Syrah, while the single varietal Carignan is from old vines that were dry farmed in the Maule Valley, which is located in the southern part of the Central Valley. Last, but not least, there is a lovely Pinot Noir from the up-and-coming Malleco Valley, Chile's southernmost official viticultural region.

San Pedro 1865 Tayú Pinot Noir 2018 (91+ pts)Indomita Old Vines Dry Farmed Gran Reserva Carignan 2018 (90 pts)

Emiliana Organic Brut Sparkling (88 pts)

The mini-theme features wines from 6 top producers in the Okanagan, British Columbia. There is one wine from each producer, and four of the wines are included among my top wine recommendations. The lone red is the always lovely Merlot from Burrowing Owl. In white wines, there is a dry Pinot Gris by Mt. Boucherie, as well as a dry Riesling from Quails' Gate. And lastly, the sparkling wine from British Columbia is a blend of mostly Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, with a splash of Pinot Gris made by Blue Mountain.

Blue Mountain Gold Label Brut Sparkling (90 pts)

Red wines from the rest of the release include the latest vintage of the Chianti Classico that consists of 82% Sangiovese, 15% Canaiolo, and 3% Syrah, while the red from Costières de Nîmes is a blend of 80% Syrah, 10% Grenache, and 10% Mourvèdre. From Almansa in Spain, this red wine is a minimally-oaked blend of Garnacha Tintorera (Alicante Bouschet) and Monastrell (Mourvèdre). The lovely Brunello is 100% Sangiovese, while the other Italian red is a Nero d'Avola from Sicily. Other single varietal wines include a Cabernet Sauvignon from Margaret River, a Shiraz from South Africa, and a pair of Malbec wines from Argentina.

Caparzo La Casa Brunello di Montalcino 2013 (92 pts)Château Grand Escalion Safranée 2018

Feudo Montoni Lagnusa Nero d'Avola 2018Domaine Naturaliste Discovery Cabernet Sauvignon 2017 (90 pts)

Laya 2018 (88 pts)La Posta Pizzella Family Malbec 2018 (87 pts)

Among my white wine picks, the Roussillon is a blend of Grenache Blanc, Roussanne, Marsanne, and Macabeu, while the white Bordeaux consists of 60% Sauvignon Blanc and 40% Semillon. The rest of the white wines are all single varietal wines, including Sauvignon Blanc from South Africa, and a Chardonnay from British Columbia. For Riesling wine lovers, there is a dry Riesling from Alsace, as well as a pair of sweet Riesling Kabinett wines from Mosel.

Les Hauts de Lagarde Blanc 2019 (89 pts)Les Vignes de Bila-Haut Côtes du Roussillon Blanc 2018 (89 pts)

Enjoy my wine recommendations from this release. Cheers!

Red Wine:

  • CHÂTEAU GRAND ESCALION SAFRANÉE 2018 - AP Costières de Nîmes, Rhône, France (#18141) (XD) - $14.95  review coming soon...
  • LA POSTA PIZZELLA FAMILY MALBEC 2018 - Mendoza, Argentina (#166298) (XD) - $16.95  87 pts  wine review
  • ALAMOS SELECCIÓN MALBEC 2017 - La Consulta, Uco Valley, Mendoza, Argentina (#322800) (XD) - $16.95
  • LAYA 2018 - DOP Almansa, Spain (#132605) (D) - $17.95  88 pts  wine review
  • INDOMITA OLD VINES DRY FARMED GRAN RESERVA CARIGNAN 2018 - DO Maule Valley, Chile (#16627) (XD) - $17.95  90 pts  wine review
  • RUSTENBERG STELLENBOSCH SHIRAZ 2018 - WO Stellenbosch, South Africa (#399246) (XD) - $16.95
  • SAN PEDRO 1865 TAYÚ PINOT NOIR 2018 - Buchahueico, DO Malleco Valley, Chile (#16628) (XD) - $19.95  91+ pts  wine review

  • DOMAINE NATURALISTE DISCOVERY CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2017 - Margaret River, Western Australia (#489906) (XD) - $24.95  90 pts  wine review
  • FEUDO MONTONI LAGNUSA NERO D'AVOLA 2018 - DOC Sicilia, Italy (#523738) (XD) - $24.95  review coming soon...
  • ODFJELL WINEMAKER'S TRAVESY CARIGNAN / MALBEC / SYRAH 2016 - Vegan, Central Valley, Chile (#17238) (XD) - $29.95
  • ISOLE E OLENA CHIANTI CLASSICO 2017 - DOCG, Tuscany, Italy (#704346) (XD) - $38.95
  • BURROWING OWL MERLOT 2018 - BC VQA Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, Canada (#585737) (XD) - $39.95
  • CAPARZO LA CASA BRUNELLO DI MONTALCINO 2013 - DOCG, Tuscany, Italy (#20750) (XD) - $79.95  92 pts  wine review

White Wine:

  • LES VIGNES DE BILA-HAUT CÔTES DU ROUSSILLON BLANC 2018 - AP, Midi, France (#485656) (XD) - $15.95  89 pts  wine review
  • LES HAUTS DE LAGARDE BLANC 2019 - Vegan, AC Bordeaux, France (#387787) (XD) - $18.95  89 pts  wine review
  • MT. BOUCHERIE PINOT GRIS 2019 - BC VQA Similkameen Valley, British Columbia, Canada (#17864) (XD) - $19.95
  • QUAILS' GATE DRY RIESLING 2019 - BC VQA Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, Canada (#308312) (XD) - $19.95
  • VAN LOVEREN CHRISTINA THE HERITAGE COLLECTION SAUVIGNON BLANC 2020 - WO Western Cape, South Africa (#13354) (XD) - $19.95
  • DOMAINE FERNAND ENGEL HERITAGE RIESLING 2017 - AC Alsace, France (#17891) (XD) - $20.95
  • QUAILS' GATE CHARDONNAY 2018 - BC VQA Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, Canada (#377770) (XD) - $24.95
  • MAX FERD. RICHTER ELISENBERGER RIESLING KABINETT 2018 - Prädikatswein, Mosel, Germany (#665984) (S) - $26.95
  • ANSGAR CLÜSSERATH TRITTENHEIMER RIESLING KABINETT 2017 - Prädikatswein, Mosel, Germany (#18128) (MS) - $32.95

Sparkling Wine:

  • EMILIANA ORGANIC BRUT SPARKLING - Vegan, Traditional Method, DO Casablanca Valley, Chile (#536607) (XD) - $19.95  88 pts  wine review
  • BLUE MOUNTAIN GOLD LABEL BRUT SPARKLING - Traditional Method, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, Canada (#206326) (XD) - $34.95  90 pts  wine review

Fortified:

  • LOUKATOS MUSCAT OF PATRAS - PDO, Greece (#290718) (S) - $9.95  FE


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