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  • Date publishedSunday, March 28, 2021

The Black Chook Shiraz/Viognier 2019 (Australia) - Wine Review

wine review is the latest vintage of this always popular Australian Shiraz (which includes a small amount of Viognier) that arrives at the LCBO next weekend as part of the LCBO VINTAGES Release.

The Black Chook brand was founded with its first vintage in 2003 using premium fruit from winegrowing regions in South Australia. The Back Chook struts wines that are affordable, enjoyed and adored, shared and celebrated, and has enjoyed great success in Australia, Canada, and USA. With careful vineyard selection and an exceptional winemaking team, The Black Chook strives to have consistent varietal expression in their wines which are approachable and generous with character.

While seeking a name for this new line of wines, a black chicken - or Black Chook - stopped by and lingered around. They decided to immortalize that single Black Chook and today it can be seen scratching and pecking for grubs under the big old gum tree by the Cellar Door.

I last enjoyed the 2017 The Black Chook Shiraz/Viognier back in July 2019 and am curious to see how this vintage compares. For this vintage, the fruit was sourced solely from the premium grape growing region of McLaren Vale in South Australia. The wine region of McLaren Vale has a Mediterranean climate with warm, dry summers and cool, wet winters, making it well-suited to growing high quality Shiraz grapes. Although the vintage was smaller than average, the quality of the fruit was good with concentrated berries and intense flavours. Let's see how this 2019 is tasting tonight...

The Black Chook Shiraz/Viognier 2019 (88 pts)

Tasting Note:

THE BLACK CHOOK SHIRAZ/VIOGNIER 2019 - McLaren Vale, South Australia (#66738) (XD) - $18.95
Screw cap. This co-fermented blend of 96% Shiraz and 4% Viognier has fresh aromas of red berry, cherry, and floral aromas rising out of the glass. The ripe, full-bodied palate has a dark fruited profile of blueberry, cold cream, and peppery spice flavours along with touches of wood and floral. It has fresh, lemony acidity, while the tannins are sweet, ripe, rounded, and dusty textured. Woody, pepper, and dark berry notes linger on the finish, with good length. Highly quaffable and goes down easy. Score: 88 pts

Other delicious wines from The Black Chook can be ordered through their Agent - Dionysus Wines & Spirits Ltd.

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  • Date publishedFriday, March 26, 2021

Catena Appellation San Carlos Cabernet Franc 2018 (Argentina) - Wine Review

Following up on the excellent 2018 Catena Lunlunta Old Vines Appellation Malbec, wine review is another lovely red wine from Catena's Appellation Series. This Cabernet Franc arrived at the LCBO earlier this month as part of the LCBO VINTAGES Release where it was featured in the theme on Argentina - The Land of Extremes.

The Catena family have been making wines in Argentina since 1902, spanning four generations now and led today by the brilliant Dr. Laura Catena. Together, Catena family has revolutionized Argentine winemaking, turning the country into a world-class wine region. On top of introducing Malbec to Argentina and believing that it could stand among the best in the world, Catena also planted vines at very high altitudes where no one thought it would ripen. They have also studied in great detail the climate and soils in Mendoza and other parts of Argentina while continuing to learn through the Catena Institute of Wine that was established by Laura in 1995. Malbec is usually the first grape variety to come to mind when thinking of wines from Argentina, but there are other varieties that have found success in Argentina.

Cabernet Franc isn't widely planted in Argentina, with only 1,200 hectares vines that represent just 1% of all red varieties planted in the country. Originally from the humid climate of Bordeaux, the modern history of Cabernet Franc in Argentina began only in the 1990s and has quickly adapted to the high altitude vineyards and dry climate of Argentina. Cabernet Franc was intended to give strength to blends, as found in the 2017 Doña Paula 1350 that I enjoyed a couple of days ago. However, Cabernet Franc has shown that in can excel on its own.

This particular Cabernet Franc by Catena was grown in the family's historic vineyards in San Carlos at an high-altitude of 1,090 metres (3,576 feet) above sea level on soils that are alluvial in origin. This vineyard has loamy, sandy soil with thick calcareous layers with rounded rocks on the bottom. It is composed of 70% sand, 10% clay, and 20% silt. Because Cabernet Franc is a very transparent grape (figuratively speaking) as it expresses its terroir very well. Thus, Argentinean Cabernet Franc provides a combination of taste, sense of place, and character that makes it unique and like no other.

Catena Appellation San Carlos Cabernet Franc 2018 (91 pts)

Tasting Note:

CATENA APPELLATION SAN CARLOS CABERNET FRANC 2018 - San Carlos, Uco Valley, Mendoza, Argentina (#450106) (XD) - $19.95
The medium-high intensity aromatics are fresh and ripe with red and black fruits, currant, cassis, smoky mineral, and touches of leafy herb in a slightly reductive profile. It is medium-full bodied on the clean, ripe palate with spicy red fruits flavours joined by currant. stony-smoky mineral, and black pepper notes. It's well-balanced with fresh acidity and supple, textured tannins that have some tannic grip. Stony mineral notes linger on the long, textured finish. Enjoy this unique Cabernet Franc over the next 5+ years. Score: 91 pts

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

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  • Date publishedWednesday, March 24, 2021

Doña Paula 1350 2017 (Argentina) - Wine Review

wine review is a lovely, vegan-friendly, red blend from Argentina that arrived at the LCBO as part of the feature on Argentina - The Land of Extremes in the LCBO VINTAGES Release - with bottles still available to buy now.

Doña Paula was established in 1997 in Ugarteche, Luján de Cuyo, Mendoza. Their philosophy is that excellent wine is nothing but the most faithful expression of the vineyard. To ensure that they have complete control over the grape growing process, Doña Paula crafts all of their wines using grapes from their own vineyards. These vineyards, which today number approximately 703 hectares, are planted in the best areas of the country such as Gualtallary, Altamira and Los Cerezos, within the Uco Valley. Doña Paula has carried out a number of detailed studies to determine Mendoza’s soils and microclimates, all of which help to express the terroir in each bottle of wine.

I had the opportunity to taste the lovely 2015 Doña Paula 1350 at the Wines of Argentina Masterclass in and was excited to see the latest vintage come to stores earlier this month. This red wine is part of the Doña Paula's Altitude blend series and named after the altitude (1,350 metres) of their Alluvia Vineyard in Gualtallary where the grapes were grown. It is a blend of nearly equal parts Cabernet Franc and Malbec, plus a small amount of Casavecchia - a rare Italian grape variety which was first planted by Doña Paula in 2006. The soils at the Alluvia Vineyard are sandy with alluvial and calcareous stones, while the climate has warm days and cool nights. Since the beginning, all of the vineyards at Doña Paula have been managed using sustainable agricultural practices.

The 2017 vintage in Mendoza was fantastic in terms of quality and considered one of the best vintages in recent years with a return to its characteristically warm and dry climate, albeit with reduced yields. While the 2015 vintage of this wine was lovely, I would expect the 2017 vintage to be even better. Let's see how it is tasting tonight...

Doña Paula 1350 2017 (91 pts)

Tasting Note:

DOÑA PAULA 1350 2017 - Gualtallary, Tupungato, Uco Valley, Mendoza, Argentina (#17382) (XD) - $24.95
A blend of 50% Cabernet Franc, 45% Malbec, and 5% Casavecchia that was aged in mostly used French oak barrels for 14-16 months. Fresh, intense aromatics are savoury and spicy with stony mineral, dark berry, blackberry, and wet earth aromas along with touches of dried herb and floral. On the fresh, medium+ bodied palate it has fine spicy, stony mineral, black fruit replays, plus some woody notes supported by refreshing acidity and grainy, structured, and grippy tannins. Minerally with dark berry and dried herb notes lingering on the finish, with excellent length. Enjoyable now and will improve with a few years in the cellar. Highly recommended buy. Score: 91 pts

Some of the many lovely wines from Doña Paula are available at the LCBO, while others can be ordered through their Agent - Select Wines.

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  • Date publishedMonday, March 22, 2021

Château de Tréviac Corbières 2017 (Languedoc) - Wine Review

wine review is a lovely unoaked red wine from the Corbières appellation in Languedoc that arrived at the LCBO over the weekend as part of the LCBO VINTAGES Release.

Château de Tréviac is a 20 hectare estate located in Talairan, a small and sunny village in the South of France, between the towns of Carcassonne and Perpignan, in the heart of the Corbières appellation. It is owned by the young and dynamic winegrower Arnaud Sié, who decided to take over the family estate in 2000 after completing his studies in History.

Arnaud has worked tirelessly to modernize the wine cellars and the vineyard, and today has 20 hectares of vineyards, 14 hectares of which are located within the Corbières appellation. The south-facing vineyards are surrounded by garrigue and located between 200 to 350 metres altitude on very rocky limestone-clay soils, a perfect terroir for Syrah and Grenache. The Syrah vines are approximately about 15+ years old, while the Grenache is 35+ years old, and the yields are kept low to increase concentration in the wines. The crop is completely hand-harvested and sorted in the vineyard, and de-stemmed and crushed upon arriving at the cellar.

I have enjoyed previous vintages of this red wine, including most recently the 2016 Château de Tréviac Corbières back in and fully expect this vintage to also be highly pleasurable.

Château de Tréviac Corbières 2017 (90 pts)

Tasting Note:

CHÂTEAU DE TRÉVIAC CORBIÈRES 2017 - AP, Languedoc, France (#670505) (XD) - $18.95
This tank-aged blend of 60% Syrah and 40% Grenache has a medium-high intensity nose that is rich, swarthy, and quite pretty with dark berry, cherry, black licorice, garrigue, pepper, anise, and subtle stony-smoky mineral aromas. On the full-bodied, concentrated palate it has lovely black cherry, licorice, black pepper, spice, and stony mineral flavours supported by fresh, lively acidity and refined tannins that have a somewhat chalky, grippy texture. Black cherry, licorice, and savoury, stony, smoky mineral notes linger on the long finish. Enjoy this great buy over the next few years. Score: 90 pts

Other lovely wines from Château de Tréviac can be ordered through their Agent - Connexion Oenophilia.

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  • Date publishedSaturday, March 20, 2021

Wakefield Jaraman Cabernet Sauvignon 2017 (Australia) - Wine Review

wine review is the latest vintage of the always reliable and delicious Wakefield Jaraman Cabernet Sauvignon from Australia that arrived at the LCBO recently as part of the LCBO VINTAGES Release - with plenty of bottles still widely available across the province.

Wakefield Wines are crafted by the Taylors family. They have been making wines since the 1950s and founded their own winery by the Wakefield River in South Australia's Clare Valley in 1969. With three generations of the family involved in the business, their principle is to create fine wines made with great dedication and care, while also respecting the fruit. Being family-owned and -operated, they wish to leave a legacy for future generations and operate the business in a responsible and sustainable manner.

This red wine is part of their Jaraman range where they search for parcels of extraordinary fruit to craft wines that showcase their distinctive regional characteristics and style. Recent vintages of the Jaraman Cabernet Sauvignon have leaned heavily towards fruit from Coonawarra over Clare Valley. For the 2017 vintage, there is slightly more Clare Valley fruit (56%) versus Coonawarra (44%). In Clare Valley, the weather was favourable throughout much of the growing season and the vintage was declared to be above average in quantity and fruit quality. It was a cooler growing season in Coonawarra, and combined with a large rain event during harvest resulted in not all of the fruit being harvested. The end result was less fruit being picked, although what was picked was of good quality.

Having enjoyed previous vintages of this wine, including most recently the 2016 Wakefield Jaraman Cabernet Sauvignon last , I would expect a wine of similar quality, but perhaps a slightly different profile for this vintage. Coonawarra Cabernets tend to have a range of fruit flavours when young, and develop earthy, savoury, and spicy notes with age. Clare Valley Cabernets are strong, bold, powerful, and earthy. Let's see how this Australian Cabernet Sauvignon is tasting tonight...

Wakefield Jaraman Cabernet Sauvignon 2017 (89 pts)

Tasting Note:

WAKEFIELD JARAMAN CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2017 - Clare Valley & Coonawarra, South Australia (#142398) (XD) - $24.95
100% Cabernet Sauvignon from both Clare Valley (56%) and Coonawarra (44%) that was raised in used French oak barrels for 10-12 months. Screw cap enclosure. The medium+ intensity nose has a pretty, minty-eucalypt-herbal notes layered over currant, cassis, and blackberry aromas, all of which surrounds a savoury, earthy core. The full-bodied, structured palate has more minty-herbal flavours mingling with red currant, cassis, savoury earth, and wood spice flavours. It has juicy, well-balanced acidity and smooth, fine-grained tannins. Very good length on the textured, savoury, earthy, and minty finish. Enjoy this fine Australian Cab over the next 6-7 years. Score: 89 pts

Other lovely wines from Wakefield Wines are available at the LCBO, and can also be ordered through their Agent - Profile Wine Group.

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  • Date publishedThursday, March 18, 2021

Tonel 78 Barrel Select Malbec/Bonarda 2017 (Argentina) - Wine Review

wine review is a lovely blend consisting of Argentina's two most widely planted grapes - Malbec and Bonarda. This red wine is a new arrival to Ontario and was released into LCBO VINTAGES on - with plenty of bottles still available across the province.

It is produced by Bodega Los Toneles, a winery founded by the Armando family in 1922. It was initially known as Armando Hermanos, but soon changed its name to Bodega de los Toneles - meaning "winery of the tuns" - due the prominent, huge French oak barrels in which its wines were aged. In 2002, the winery was purchased by the Millán family and they revived its vintage spirit by combining it with a modern approach to return the estate to its former glory.

The winery is located within the city of Mendoza, but its vineyards are scattered across the province. From the beginning, Bodega Toneles determined that wine was the manifestation of the earth and the work of human beings. Thus, they decided that the winery would only use grapes from small-scale vineyards where quality is favoured over quantity, thus preserving the values and personality of each vineyard. The Don Arturo Vineyard is located in El Manzano (Uco Valley) at 1,400 metres above sea level and has calcareous and sandy soils with a high percentage of rocks, resulting in wines of great intensity and aromas, and touches of minerals. The Mantrax Vineyard is located in Chacayes (Uco Valley) at 1,250 metres above sea level and has poor soils with very little rainfall, resulting in small berries with high concentrations of polyphenols.

This Tonel 78 red wine is a unique blend of 50% Malbec and 50% Bonarda that was crafted from selected grapes across their vineyards. It is a tribute to the great Argentine national soccer team that won the '78 World Cup. Let's see if this wine is also a winner...

Tonel 78 Barrel Select Malbec/Bonarda 2017 (90 pts)

Tasting Note:

TONEL 78 BARREL SELECT MALBEC/BONARDA 2017 - Mendoza, Argentina (#17380) (XD) - $20.95
This 50/50 blend of Malbec and Bonarda was aged in French oak barrels for 12 months. The medium+ intensity aromas offer ripe dark berry, blackberry, and plum that mingle with smoky mineral and wood notes. It's full-bodied on the palate with lovely, balanced aroma replays of ripe dark berry, blackberry, plum, mineral, and wood spice. It has fresh acidity with refined, dense, and chewy tannins and some spicy notes on the mid-palate. Smoky mineral and wood spice notes linger on the slightly grippy finish, with very good length. Enjoy this winner over the next 3-4 years. Score: 90 pts

Other lovely wines from Bodega Los Toneles can be found through their Agent - Perigon Beverage Group.

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  • Date publishedThursday, March 18, 2021

March 20, 2021 LCBO VINTAGES Release Wine Picks: Brand New Wines + Easter

LCBO Wine Picks: March 20, 2021 VINTAGES Release
The main theme of the March 20, 2021 LCBO VINTAGES Release features Brand New Wines specially selected by the LCBO buyers, while the mini-theme looks at wines for Easter. All of these wines, plus those from the main release should be on shelves by Saturday.

We begin with the main theme that looks Brand New Wines specially selected by the buyers. Of the thirteen wines featured, two are included among my top wine picks. First up is a wine from South Africa's classic white grape - Chenin Blanc, while the second wine is the O: Tu Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand.

Wines for pairing with Easter entrées is the mini-theme of this release and of the twelve wines featured, just one is included among my wine recommendations. The lone wine is a Gamay from Beaujolais that is suggested to pair with vegetarian mains.

There are many lovely red wines from the rest of the release. First up is the excellent wine from Chile that consists of 92% Carmenere and 8% Petit Verdot, while the Portuguese red is a blend of Trincadeira, Aragonez (Tempranillo), and Castelão. From France, both Rhône reds are made with Syrah, while the Corbières is a tank-aged blend of 60% Syrah and 40% Grenache. From Italy, the Chianti Classico is a blend of 80% Sangiovese, 13% Merlot, and 7% Malvasia Nera, while the always lovely Amarone is a blend of traditional grapes Corvina, Rondinella, Oseleta, and Molinara. Single varietal wines include the Malbec from Argentina, and the Barolo that is 100% Nebbiolo.

Montes Purple Angel 2017 (92 pts)Château de Tréviac Corbières 2017 (90 pts)

Kaiken Ultra Las Rocas Malbec 2018 (89 pts)

Among my white wine recommendations from the rest of the Release, the only blend is a white wine from Rhône that consists of Grenache Blanc, Roussanne, Clairette, and Viognier. For those that prefer sweeter wines, check out that Niagara Riesling that is $3 off for a limited time. The rest of the white wines consist of a fine Sauvignon Blanc and a lovely quartet of Chardonnay wines from British Columbia, Niagara, Burgundy, and California.

Dog Point Sauvignon Blanc 2019 (91 pts)

Enjoy my wine recommendations from this Release! Cheers!

Red Wine:

  • CARMIM TERRA LENTA PREMIUM 2018 - DOC Alentejo, Portugal (#646083) (XD) - $13.95
  • TERROIRS DU VENT LA VIOLETTE SYRAH 2017 - IGP Pays d'Oc, Languedoc, France (#18501) (XD) - $17.95
  • VAUCHER PÈRE & FILS FLEURIE 2018 - AC, Beaujolais, France (#534339) (XD) - $17.95
  • CHÂTEAU DE TRÉVIAC CORBIÈRES 2017 - AP, Languedoc, France (#670505) (XD) - $18.95  90 pts  wine review
  • KAIKEN ULTRA LAS ROCAS MALBEC 2018 - Vegan, Mendoza, Argentina (#50849) (XD) - $19.95  89 pts  wine review
  • FAYOLLE LA CUVÉE NICOLAS CROZES-HERMITAGE 2017 - AC, Rhône, France (#19283) (XD) - $33.95
  • CORINO DEL COMUNE DI LA MORRA BAROLO 2015 - DOCG, Piedmont, Italy (#17538) (XD) - $58.95
  • MONTES PURPLE ANGEL 2017 - DO Colchagua Valley, Chile (#62364) (XD) - $69.95  92 pts  wine review

White Wine:

  • THE WINERY OF GOOD HOPE BUSH VINE CHENIN BLANC 2019 - WO Stellenbosch, South Africa (#18685) (XD) - $13.95
  • TAWSE SKETCHES OF NIAGARA RIESLING 2017 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#89029) (M) - $18.95 $15.95 until Mar. 28
  • O: TU LIMITED RELEASE SAUVIGNON BLANC 2019 - Otuwhero Top Block Vineyard, Marlborough, South Island, New Zealand (#17548) (XD) - $19.95
  • DOG POINT SAUVIGNON BLANC 2019 - Marlborough, South Island, New Zealand (#677450) (XD) - $27.95  91 pts  wine review
  • DOMAINE CHARLY NICOLLE PER ASPERA CHABLIS 2018 - AC, Burgundy, France (#18469) (XD) - $29.95
  • BACHELDER LES VILLAGES CHARDONNAY 2018 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#16059) (XD) - $34.95  FE
  • STAGS' LEAP WINERY CHARDONNAY 2018 - Napa Valley, California, USA (#655381) (XD) - $39.95
  • QUAILS' GATE STEWART FAMILY RESERVE CHARDONNAY 2017 - BC VQA Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, Canada (#639641) (XD) - $44.95  FE

Sparkling Wine:

  • BILLECART-SALMON BRUT NATURE CHAMPAGNE - AC, France (#458570) (XD) - $85.95

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