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  • Date publishedSunday, February 28, 2021

La Chevalière Rasteau 2017 (Rhône) - Wine Review

wine review is a lovely red wine from Rasteau, a Cru of the Southern Rhône Valley. It is brand new to the LCBO and will be widely available across Ontario as Wine of the Month from the upcoming LCBO VINTAGES Release.

It is produced by Les Grandes Serres, a negociant firm based in the Southern Rhône Valley, using grapes sourced from the village of Rasteau, north of Vaucluse county. Winegrowing activities were revived in Rasteau in the Middle Ages, becoming the largest vineyards in Vaucluse by the 18th century. In 1937, Rasteau became part of the Côtes du Rhône AOC appellation and in 1966 it was promoted to Côtes du Rhône Villages status. After much hard work and dedication, the dry red wines of Rasteau were elevated to Cru status in 2010.

The village of Rasteau offers a variety of terroirs that includes red marl and sandstone, clay and limestone soils. Much of Rasteau is also covered with the famous rolled pebbles that the Rhône Valley is known for. These pebbles retain heat from the Mediterranean sun during the day and release it to the vines at night, thereby producing excellent concentration in the grapes. The distinctive wines of Rasteau are known for their structure, richness, and intensity. Let's see how the La Chevalière is tasting tonight...

La Chevalière Rasteau 2017 (90 pts)

Tasting Note:

LA CHEVALIÈRE RASTEAU 2017 - AC Rasteau, Rhône, France (#18502) (XD) - $20.95
Predominantly Grenache with Carignan, Mourvèdre, and Syrah completing the blend. The medium-high intensity and fresh aromatics are intriguingly herbal with spice, dark red berry, raspberry, and touches of stone, charcuterie and meaty notes adding further interest. The medium-full bodied palate is rich, structured and slightly warming with dark red berry, garrigue, licorice, spice, clove, and hints of plum flavours. Acids are juicy and well-balanced, while the structured tannins are smooth, refined and have a subtle chalky texture. Savoury and earthy notes come to the fore on the long, juicy finish. Enjoy over the next 2-3 years. Score: 90 pts

Other lovely wines from La Chevalière can be ordered through their Agent - DBINO David Beauroy Selections.

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  • Date publishedFriday, February 26, 2021

Flor de Maio Mayflower 2016 (Portugal) - Wine Review

wine review is a nice Portuguese red ideal for a Friday night. It arrived at the LCBO last weekend as part of the LCBO VINTAGES Release.

In 2011, winemaker Carlos Lucas founded his winery, Magnum - Carlos Lucas Vinhos, It was born out of a dream to produce quality wines with a team that was dynamic and continuously interested in innovation, while also respecting tradition and history. Carlos is originally from Dão and the company has various production facilities throughout all of the major wine regions of Portugal, including his own private domain in Dão - Quinta do Ribeiro Santo. He has always had concern for the environment and respect for the land, and is now pursuing a sustainable growth strategy with the goal of producing authentic wines from each region where it grows vines.

This red wine is named after the many flowers that bloom every May, including the green fields filled with red poppies in Alentejano in the South of Portugal. It is a blend of Trincadeira, Touriga Nacional, and Syrah from vines that are 13 years old and sourced from poor soils (remember, this is good for wine) that consist of mainly clay, granite, schist and limestone from the Mora municipality within the Évora district in central Alentejano, which itself is a large region that covers the lower third of Portugal. The south-facing, 60 hectare vineyard is located on a low-altitude, slightly sloped plain. The wine was fermented and aged without the use of any oak, and bottled in May.

Flor de Maio Mayflower 2016 (87 pts)

Tasting Note:

FLOR DE MAIO MAYFLOWER 2016 - Vinho Regional Alentejano, Portugal (#427195) (XD) - $13.95
Fermented and aged completely in stainless steel tanks, this unoaked red wine is a blend of Trincadeira, Touriga Nacional, and Syrah, and has generous aromas of black fruit, blackberry, spice, and black plum with some savoury notes rising out of the glass. It's medium-bodied on the palate with ripe, dark-fruited, blackberry, spice, and savoury flavours. Acids are still fresh, while the rounded tannins are slightly chalky textured. Nicely balanced with very good length on the succulent, savoury and spicy finish. For the price, this is very good wine. Score: 87 pts

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

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  • Date publishedWednesday, February 24, 2021

Modernist Dry Riesling 2019 (Rheinhessen) - Wine Review

wine review is a lovely dry Riesling from Germany that is a new arrival to the LCBO as part of the LCBO VINTAGES Release.

Crafted for UK wine merchant Awin Barratt Siegel Wine Agencies, the Modernist was designed to be a contemporary take on the most versatile of grape varietals - Riesling - which can be crafted in fully dry styles to those that are very sweet. The brightly coloured label, which takes its cue from the German Bauhaus period, is eye-catching along with the distinctive cobalt blue bottle.

Modernist Dry Riesling 2019 (88+ pts)

Tasting Note:

MODERNIST DRY RIESLING 2019 - Rheinhessen, Germany (#18668) (D) - $16.95
This Riesling was grown on the rolling hill vineyards of Rheinhessen with its clay and chalk soils, from vines that are 10 to 35 years old, and had some time on the lees during vinification. Elegant, medium+ intensity aromas of white peach, floral, and pear, with whiffs of grapefruit and orange. It shows very good fruit concentration on the the medium-full bodied palate with a vague impression of sweetness on the mostly dry palate with flavours of grapefruit, lemon pith, white peach, and white florals with touches of honey. It has fresh, zesty acidity and a slightly chalky textured mouthfeel on the mid-palate. Very good length on the dry, slatey finish. Enjoy nicely chilled over the next few years. Score: 88+ pts

Other delicious wines from this producer can be found through their Agent - Eurovintage Wines & Spirits.

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  • Date publishedTuesday, February 23, 2021

New Zealand Wine Week - Feb. 2021 + Albariño, Pinot Noir & Syrah Wine Reviews

New Zealand Wine Week 2021
During the week of February 8 - 12, 2021, I attended the first ever New Zealand Wine Week. There were many activities planned throughout the week across Canada, USA, UK, and Ireland, including tastings, discussions, and online activities.

I managed to attend a couple of fascinating classes - one titled "Pinot Noir Soils" and another on Syrah. To assist with the learning, I also received a specially-curated Sustainable Wine Tasting Kit that contained three lovely wines which are reviewed below. To reduce environmental impact, the wines were packaged in low-waste, recyclable tetra-paks. Given the current pandemic, I can't help but wonder if more wine tasting kits will be provided in this manner in the future.

New Zealand produces 1% of the world's wine and 17% of the world's Sauvignon Blanc. While most of New Zealand's wine production is devoted to Sauvignon Blanc, ranking second is Pinot Noir with 7% of the country's wine production. New Zealand's soils are approximately 42 million years old, relatively new by comparison to other wine regions, and most of it has been moved by water. As such, there can be expected a variety of soil types which are layered. Pinot Noir prefers free-draining soils such as those found in Wairarapa, North Island. In Marlborough, as I learned during my visit to New Zealand last year, the Southern Valleys of the Wairau Valley have predominately clay soils - a prime area for growing fuller-bodied Pinot. As vines with age go deeper and deeper into soil in the search for water and nutrients, the different layers of soils reveal themselves and develop additional character in the wines. In Pinot Noir, clay gives density to wines, gravelly soils build tannins, and limestone gives vibrancy and length to wines. In a short period, New Zealand has built a reputation for producing quality Pinot Noir, with Central Otago leading much of this notoriety, although interesting Pinot Noir is produced throughout all of New Zealand's wine regions.

Syrah is the oft-forgotten variety of New Zealand. It represents just 1% of all vines in New Zealand and ranks 7th by acreage. Although it is speculated that Syrah was first planted in New Zealand in the 1830s. it is known that the first Australian cuttings were brought to New Zealand in 1900. The oldest modern Syrah vines were planted in 1984. Of the 437 hectares of Syrah planted in New Zealand in today, 339 hectares are planted in the warmer North Island region of Hawke's Bay - a region I had the pleasure of visiting last year because I discovered NZ Syrah several years prior. I also visited Waiheke Island last year and it has the second-most Syrah in the country with 51 hectares planted to the varietal.

A lovely Albariño from the Awatere Valley in Marlborough was also part of this tasting kit and reviewed below. Originally from Spain, Albariño has found a home in New Zealand. I discovered New Zealand Albariño after tasting a few wines during my visit to NZ last year. Only 27 hectares of Albariño are planted within the country, with most of the plantings concentrated in Gisborne, Marlborough, and Hawke's Bay.

The most recent vintage was also among the many topics discussed. While the 2020 vintage will always be remembered as the COVID-19 harvest, it was actually an excellent summer throughout most of New Zealand and the 2020 vintage is expected to be outstanding.

Sustainability was also a major theme of the week. New Zealand was the first wine industry to establish a national sustainability programme - Sustainable Winegrowing New Zealand (SWNZ) - which first started 1994. Today, 96% of New Zealand's vineyard producing area is certified by the programme. With a strong commitment from winemakers and grape growers, New Zealand is able to craft exceptional wines while also helping the natural environment, local businesses, and communities thrive. The six areas of focuses with sustainability efforts are water, waste, pest and disease, soil, climate change, and people.

Tasting Notes:

THE HUNTING LODGE SEASONAL ALBARINO 2019 - Awatere Valley, Marlborough, South Island, New Zealand (XD) - $19.95
Mostly fermented in stainless steel tanks, with 10% fermented in French oak barriques, as well as 3 months ageing on the lees. Fresh aromatics deliver an intriguing mix of ripe citrus, stone fruits, and floral with touches of vanilla, yeasty, and seashell notes. On the medium+ bodied palate it has a slightly creamy mouthfeel that’s balanced by fresh, zesty acidity. It has ripe, honeyed flavours of citrus and stone fruits on the flavour profile, while yeasty, seashell mineral, and touches of vanilla linger on the juicy finish, with very good length. Agent: Nicholas Pearce Wines. Score: 90 pts

The Hunting Lodge Seasonal Albarino 2019 (90 pts)

CHURTON NATURAL STATE PINOT NOIR 2019 - Waihopai Valley, Marlborough, South Island, New Zealand (XD) - $31.95
Grown according to biodynamic and organic principles from the Southern Valley of Waihopai, this single block Pinot Noir was naturally fermented with indigenous yeast and has medium-high intensity aromas are very ripe with black cherry, raspberry, blackberry, and floral notes with touches of bramble. It is medium-bodied and mildly structured on the palate with nice, fruity aroma replays plus some earthy and tea leaf flavours. It has balanced, juicy acids and elegantly textured tannins. Very good length on the finish with notes of savoury black cherry. Vegan-friendly. Agent: Le Sommelier. Score: 90 pts

Churton Natural State Pinot Noir 2019 (90 pts)Esk Valley Winemakers Reserve Syrah 2014 (92 pts)

ESK VALLEY WINEMAKERS RESERVE SYRAH 2014 - Gimblett Gravels, Hawke's Bay, North Island, New Zealand (XD) ~$60
From the Cornerstone Vineyard, the medium+ intensity nose seems a bit closed, but offers notes of black plum, dark berry, blackberry, and some wood spice aromas. The structured, medium-full bodied is lovely with blackberry, black pepper, earth, eucalypt, and wood spice flavours that are supported by juicy acidity and well-integrated tannins. The savoury, earthy, black pepper spice, and dark chocolate notes continue through to the long, satisfying finish. Still has many years of enjoyment ahead. Agent: Perigon Beverage Group. Score: 92 pts

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  • Date publishedMonday, February 22, 2021

Catena Lunlunta Old Vines Appellation Malbec 2018 (Argentina) - Wine Review

wine review is an excellent Malbec by from Argentina that arrived at the LCBO over the weekend as part of the LCBO VINTAGES Release and is one of the Wines of the Month.

Founded in 1902 by Nicola Catena, the family run winery is now operated by Dr. Laura Catena, the fourth generation of the family and daughter of Nicolás Catena Zapata. By now, Catena should be a household name as they are one of the most iconic and influential wine families of the past 100+ years while developing Mendoza into a world-class wine region. In 1995, Laura established the Catena Institute of Wine to focus on the study of terroir, and other research projects. Today, Catena wines are produced from six historic family estate vineyards and each of these vineyards is divided into parcels according to their soil composition, with each parcel farmed individually. Nearly all of Catena's vineyards are farmed sustainably and organically, focusing on lower yields and biodiversity.

Catena has a broad range of quality wines, and this particular bottling is from their Appellation "Village" wines collection that focus on rural towns with beautiful and historical vineyards in Mendoza. This bottle of Malbec is from one of their six historic family estate vineyards - the Angélica Vineyard in Lunlunta, an idyllic district of small orchards and tree-lined country roads. The Angélica Vineyard, named after Nicolás Catena Zapata's mother, is Catena's oldest vineyard and was planted in the 1930's. Lunlunta is well-known for its ancient Malbec vines and the constant breeze coming from the adjacent river bed. The vineyard is over 900 metres above sea level, while the soils in Lunlunta are alluvial in origin and have loamy clay in the topsoil with 5% surface stones. In addition, the sandy and loamy soils are 50% sand, 30% silt, and 20% clay, with subsoils composed of rounded rocks.

After loving the 2017 when it came to VINTAGES in , let's see how this latest vintage is tasting tonight...

Catena Lunlunta Old Vines Appellation Malbec 2018 (91+ pts)

Tasting Note:

CATENA LUNLUNTA OLD VINES APPELLATION MALBEC 2018 - Mendoza, Argentina (#11769) (XD) - $22.95
From 65 year old vines, this Malbec has a perfumed, fragrant, and highly aromatic nose that is ripe with complex notes of blackberry, stony mineral, black plum, dark berry, violet, spice, and touches of earth. The stony mineral and touches of smoke really leap out of the glass with time in the glass. It's medium-full bodied on the elegant palate with lovely dark berry, blackberry, stony mineral, violet, and spice flavours backed by fresh, balanced acidity and elegant, fine-grained tannins that have a mild grip on the back palate. Mineral, blackberry, and violets on the long, juicy, satisfying finish. Highly recommended buy to enjoy over the next 4-5 years. Score: 91+ pts

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

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  • Date publishedSaturday, February 20, 2021

E. Guigal Gigondas 2009 (Rhône) - Wine Review

For wine review, I opened up this excellent Gigondas that I picked up back in .

Guigal was established in 1946 by Etienne Guigal in Ampuis - a small, ancient village just south of Lyon in the heart of the Côte-Rôtie appellation in northern Rhône, and overlooked by unique vineyards where wines have been made for more than 2,400 years. In 1961, a still very young Marcel Guigal took over management of the domain from his father. In 1973, Marcel was joined by his wife, Bernadette, and two years later their son, Philippe, was born. Today, Philippe is the domain's oenologist and represents the third generation of the family to work at the domain.

After expanding the family business and acquiring several estates in the Rhône Valley, Guigal strived to further improve their knowledge of winemaking in 2003 by venturing into barrel making. This artisanal and ancient craft enabled them to master another skill within the charming historical surroundings of Château d'Ampuis - one of the famous estates they acquired a decade prior.

This Gigondas is part of The Collection range of wines at Guigal. Vintage after vintage, wines from The Collection have become symbols of the family's ethos of supreme quality wines. Marcel and Philippe Guigal pay meticulous attention throughout the winemaking process, including selection, blending, and ageing to craft wines with consistency and excellence, while representing the great appellations of the Rhône Valley.

While this vintage is long sold out, this red wine is a frequent visitor to LCBO VINTAGES and most recently arrived in November 2020. A few bottles of the latest vintage are available across Ontario, but I am sure can also be ordered through their Agents - Vinexx in Ontario and Sélection Fréchette in Québec. Let's see how this Gigondas is tasting tonight...

E. Guigal Gigondas 2009 (92 pts)

Tasting Note:

E. GUIGAL GIGONDAS 2009 - AC, Rhône, France (#331900) (XD) - $31.95
A blend of 65% Grenache, 25% Mourvèdre, and 10% Syrah from 40 year old vines grown on ancient alluvia, red clay, and gravelly slopes, and aged for 2 years in oak foudres, 50% new. Lovely, elegant, medium-high to highly aromatic nose offers maturing dried dark berry, sweet cinnamon spice, floral, and wood aromas. It is medium-full to full-bodied on the palate with very good concentration and lovely savoury, sweet spice, dried dark berry, and wet earth flavours with a touch of olive on the mid-palate. It has balanced acidity, while the fine tannins have integrated very nicely, with a slight chalky texture. Well-balanced overall with earthy, savoury, and dried berry notes lingering on the long finish. Drinking great now and still has a few more years of enjoyment ahead. Score: 92 pts

Tasting Note from 2013:

Intense aromas are earthy, meaty, and dark fruited, all of which follow through nicely on the full-bodied palate. It's well-balanced with dusty tannins and balanced acidity, and excellent length on the finish. Nice! Score: 91 pts

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  • Date publishedSaturday, February 20, 2021

February 20, 2021 LCBO VINTAGES Release Wine Picks: France + New World Pinot Noir

LCBO Wine Picks: February 20, 2021 VINTAGES Release
The main theme of the February 20, 2021 LCBO VINTAGES Release focuses on French wines, while the mini-theme looks at New World Pinot Noir. All of these wines, plus those from the rest of the release should be on LCBO VINTAGES shelves across Ontario today.

We begin with the main theme that focuses on French wines and where they come from. Since French wines rarely mention the grapes used to make their wines on the label, it is very helpful to know which grapes are grown in which regions. Of the fifteen wines featured, six are included among my top wine picks. We begin in Champagne, where the primary grapes are Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, and the Blanc de Blancs (which means "white of whites) refers to sparkling wines made exclusively with the white wine grapes, namely Chardonnay. Chablis is part of northern Burgundy and known for its fine Chardonnay. The Saint-Véran is also from Burgundy and made with Chardonnay. Southern Rhône is all about Grenache and Syrah, and mostly blends using these two grapes. Three wines from this wine region are included among my wine recommendations - the Côtes du Rhône-Villages is a blend of 70% Grenache and 30% Syrah, while the Cairanne is a 50/50 blend of Grenache and Syrah. Lastly, the Gigondas consists of 70% Grenache, 15% Syrah, and 15% Mourvèdre.

The mini-theme of this release takes a look at New World Pinot Noir. Although Pinot's home is in Burgundy, the grape has found success in the cool-climate New World wine regions of Ontario, Chile, New Zealand, South Africa, California, and Oregon. Eight wines are featured as part of this theme and, while these aren't among the finest examples of cool-climate New World Pinot Noir, there are a couple of wines worth checking out. First up is a sustainable Pinot Noir from Wairarapa, a wine region located on the southeastern corner of the North Island in New Zealand. The second wine is a Pinot Noir from the cool-climate region of Elgin, South Africa, that is nestled among the mountains and only 12 kilometres from the South Atlantic Ocean.

Matahiwi Estate Me Pinot Noir 2018 (88+ pts)

Red wines from the rest of the release includes a lovely Bordeaux red that is a blend of 70% Merlot and 30% Cabernet Sauvignon. There are also a pair of wines from Southern France, both consisting of 40% Grenache, 40% Syrah, and 20% Mourvèdre. Notable single varietal wines includes a fine Malbec from Argentina that is also one of the Wines of the Month, a lovely Carmenère from Chile, and a pleasantly dry Zinfandel from California.

Château Clarke 2016 (92+ pts)Catena Lunlunta Old Vines Appellation Malbec 2018 (91+ pts)

Viña Tarapacá Gran Reserva Carmenère 2019 (89 pts)

Among my white wine picks, the only blend is from Greece and it consists of 90% Assyrtiko, 5% Athiri, and 5% Aidani. For Riesling wine lovers, there is the off-dry (i.e. slightly sweet) Riesling from Germany, as well as the medium-sweet Riesling from Niagara.

Modernist Dry Riesling 2019 (88+ pts)

Enjoy my wine recommendations from this release! Santé!

Red Wine:

  • VIÑA TARAPACÁ GRAN RESERVA CARMENÈRE 2019 - DO Maipo Valley, Chile (#57513) (XD) - $17.95  89 pts  wine review
  • MATAHIWI ESTATE ME PINOT NOIR 2018 - Sustainable, Wairarapa, North Island, New Zealand (#12606) (XD) - $19.95  88+ pts  wine review
  • SUTHERLAND PINOT NOIR 2018 - WO Elgin, South Africa (#624924) (XD) - $19.95
  • TESSELLAE OLD VINES GRENACHE/SYRAH/MOURVÈDRE 2018 - AP Côtes du Roussillon, France (#343517) (XD) - $19.95
  • CATENA LUNLUNTA OLD VINES APPELLATION MALBEC 2018 - Mendoza, Argentina (#11769) (XD) - $22.95  91+ pts  wine review
  • LANGE TWINS OLD VINE ZINFANDEL 2017 - Sustainable, Lodi, California, USA (#575480) (XD) - $24.95
  • DOMAINE SAINT-ANDÉOL EXCELLENCE CAIRANNE 2016 - AC, Rhône, France (#464735) (XD) - $25.95
  • DOMAINE LE CLOS DES CAZAUX LA TOUR SARRASINE GIGONDAS 2018 - AC, Rhône, France (#18388) (XD) - $32.95
  • CHÂTEAU CLARKE 2016 - AC Listrac-Médoc, Bordeaux, France (#503904) (XD) - $54.95  92+ pts  wine review

White Wine:

  • MODERNIST DRY RIESLING 2019 - Rheinhessen, Germany (#18668) (D) - $16.95  88+ pts  wine review
  • FLAT ROCK RIESLING 2018 - VQA Twenty Mile Bench, Niagara Escarpment, Ontario, Canada (#43281) (M) - $17.95
  • ERADUS SAUVIGNON BLANC 2020 - Awatere Valley, Marlborough, South Island, New Zealand (#225557) (XD) - $19.95
  • TERRES SECRÈTES LES PRÉLUDES SAINT-VÉRAN 2018 - AC, Burgundy, France (#16725) (XD) - $21.95
  • ATLANTIS DRY WHITE 2019 - PGI Cyclades, Santorini, Greece (#371658) (XD) - $26.95
  • WILLIAM FÈVRE CHAMPS ROYAUX CHABLIS 2018 - AC, Burgundy, France (#461640) (XD) - $29.95
  • MARCO FELLUGA AMANI FRIULANO 2019 - DOC Collio, Friuli, Italy (#17363) (XD) - $30.95  FE

Sparkling Wine:

  • WOLFBERGER BRUT CRÉMANT D'ALSACE - Traditional method, AC, Alsace, France (#460832) (XD) - $19.95
  • VOLLEREAUX BRUT BLANC DE BLANCS CHAMPAGNE - AC, France (#629469) (XD) - $52.95


  • QUINTA DO GRIFO VINTAGE PORT 2015 - DOP, Portugal (#18362) (S) - $64.95

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