Thursday, August 25, 2016

  • Thursday, August 25, 2016

La Crema Pinot Noir 2014 (Monterey) - Wine Review



Tonight's wine is a lovely Pinot Noir that will be in LCBO VINTAGES on September 3.

Made by La Crema, the grapes for this wine come from a winery nestled in a long valley in Monterey, California. On one end of the valley is Monterey Bay, while on the other end is Central California.

La Crema has been making wine since 1979, with an emphasis on small-batch winemaking and a commitment to sustainability. The winery's philosophy of gentle handling produces uniquely expressive, elegant and quality wines such as this Pinot Noir.

La Crema Pinot Noir 2014 - Monterey County, California, USA (89 pts)

Tasting Note:

LA CREMA PINOT NOIR 2014 - Monterey County, California, USA (#367896) (XD) - $26.95
Red and black cherry with hints of black plum and tea from the cork. Lifted nose of red cherry, raspberry, and black tea layered on top of earthy aromas. The palate is medium-bodied and very juicy with more aroma replays shining through along with some cedar oak flavours. There's fresh, juicy acidity on the mid-palate, and supple tannin that will allow for short-term ageing. Plenty of earthy, forest floor flavours on the long finish. Well made and a pleasure to sip. Score: 89 pts


  • Thursday, August 25, 2016

Niagara New Vintage Wine Festival Review 2016 - Day 2

After a very satisfying Niagara New Vintage Wine Festival experience on , expectations were raised for visit to wineries mostly in Niagara-on-the-Lake. In all, we ended up visiting 7 different wineries on Sunday, a few of which were unplanned stops that were hard to pass up.

Triple Cream Brie Grilled Cheese with Poached Rhubarb and Inniskillin Reserve Cabernet Franc Rosé
Our day began in the morning at Inniskillin Wines for a triple cream Brie grilled cheese with poached rhubarb that was paired with their freshly released 2015 Inniskillin Reserve Cabernet Franc Rosé ($19.95, 87 pts). Since we were one of the first to arrive at the winery, we had to wait quite a while before the first grilled cheese was prepared. However, we didn't mind because that gave us a chance to enjoy the sun and great weather on their outdoor patio, and also allowed us to sample some wines at their wine tasting bar. The grilled cheese was hot and tasty, with the rhubarb flavours from the sandwich bringing out similar flavours in the rosé. The creamy cheese also helped tame the racy acids in the wine, making for a balanced, yummy pairing.

Niagara Grilled Trout on Flatbread with Smoked Salsa, Charred Feta and Pickled Red Onions with Peller Estates Private Reserve Rosé
The second stop of the day was an unplanned visit to Peller Estates Winery for a mouthwatering Niagara grilled trout on a flatbread with smoked salsa, charred feta and pickled red onions. This was paired with your choice of 2015 Peller Estates Private Reserve Rosé ($16.95, 87 pts, sold out) or the 2015 Peller Estates Private Reserve Muscat ($14.95). It was served on their outdoor back patio facing the vineyards - a very nice setting to enjoy this refreshing pairing. I opted for the rosé and it paired really well with the flatbread - lots of cherry, red berry, herbally, spice flavours complementing the dry rosé that made this pairing quite compelling. Making this experience very memorable was the arrival of more than 50 exotic cars that parked on the grass between the patio and the vineyards.

Exotic cars at Peller Estates

The third stop of the day was at PondView Estate Winery for two stuffed endive boats paired with their 2015 Viognier. Once again, the great weather allowed us to enjoy our pairing outdoors. The first endive boat had grilled pineapple and caramelized shallots in goat cheese and topped with pecans, while the second endive boat had blue cheese and walnuts, and both boats were drizzled with honey. The pairing with the dry Viognier was quite nice with the honey adding some pleasant sweetness. I found the first endive boat to be immaculately paired with the wine - well-balanced flavours that brought out sweet pineapple and honey flavours from the wine. The blue cheese endive made the pairing fall on the savoury side. All-in-all, this was a satisfying experience.

Endive Boats with PondView ViognierCaraway Salmon Burger with Debbie Travis Pinot Grigio

Our fourth stop of the day was an unplanned visit to Pillitteri Estates Winery. We couldn't pass up the chance to enjoy a sumptuous celery and caraway salmon burger that was topped with lettuce, grilled red onion, and lemon remoulade on a brioche bun. Generously sized, this burger was perfectly paired with the newly released 2014 Debbie Travis Pinot Grigio (#457515, $15.95, 86 pts). Knowing what was ahead of us and a little tight on time, I had to skip any wine tasting, including some of the best Icewine in Niagara.

As we moved closer towards direction of home, our fifth stop of the day was at Colaneri Estate Winery for a tangy spring roll from Chang Noi's Thai Restaurant that was paired with the 2012 Colaneri Mistera Gewürztraminer ($19.95). The vegetarian spring roll was topped with a sweet chili sauce that made the spring roll a touch on the hot side, but also allowed it to pair quite well with the sweet Gewürztraminer white wine. Once again, sweet wine paired with spice makes for a delightful combo.

Tangy Spring Roll from Chang Noi with Colaneri Mistera GewürztraminerCreekside Pinot Grigio and Golden Niagara Peach Slushie

More closer to home in Lincoln, Ontario, our next stop was at Creekside Estate Winery for a break from solid foods to enjoy a refreshing slushie on this hot day. The nice and cold slushie was made by blending their 2015 Creekside Pinot Grigio (#083196, $14.95) with golden Niagara peaches that were in season. It had lots of delicious peach flavours to go along with a slight kick from the alcohol. On this hot summer day, this was the perfect way to cool down!

Wood-Fired Strawberry Pizza with Featherstone Rosé
Amazingly, as had happened during the 2015 Niagara New Vintage Wine Festival, our day of food and wine concluded at Featherstone Estate Winery for the second year in a row. Once again, the offering was a strawberry pizza topped with balsamic paired with their latest Featherstone Rosé. It was made in their outdoor wood-fired oven by owner/winemaker David Johnson - the same guy that made these pizza's last summer, except I had no clue who he was last year. Ha! Ha! It was great to finally meet and talk to the man behind the wines. It was Featherstone's Cabernet Franc that got me turned on to Ontario Cab Franc many years ago and is still one of my favourite Ontario red wines year-after-year. The pizza was a delicious combination of sweet, savoury and sour, and accentuated the strawberry flavours in the wine.

Overall, we very much enjoyed our trip through Niagara Wine Country and are looking forward to visiting the region again in September for the big, annual Niagara Grape & Wine Festival where we expecting more delicious food & wine pairings. If you're interested in joining us, let me know!

Tasting Notes:

INNISKILLIN DISCOVERY SERIES BARREL FERMENTED SAUVIGNON BLANC 2014 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $22.95
Barrel fermented for 3 months in new and older French barrels. Medium+ intensity nose showing musky oak notes layered with grassy, hay and green aromas. The palate is medium-bodied with a nice, creamy texture, tart acids balanced by clean lime and gooseberry flavours. Juicy with slight sour notes on the long finish. Score: 88 pts

Inniskillin Discovery Series Barrel Fermented Sauvignon Blanc 2014 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (88 pts)Inniskillin Discovery Series Susse Reserve Riesling 2015 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (88 pts)

INNISKILLIN DISCOVERY SERIES SUSSE RESERVE RIESLING 2015 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (MD) - $22.95
Generous nose offers clean citrus, orange, peach, Flintstone vitamins, along with hints of mineral and petrol adding complexity. It's medium-bodied with juicy, balanced acids. Off-dry with yummy peach and orange flavours. Good length on the finish. Score: 88 pts

INNISKILLIN RESERVE PINOT NOIR 2012 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $24.95
From a hot vintage, this has a medium+ nose featuring complex spice, blackberry, dark cherry, allspice and clove aromas. On the palate, it is medium-bodied with smooth, supple tannins that are just a touch grippy at the moment. Dark cherry, earth and oak spice flavours. It has very good acids and finishes long. Should be better in 1-2 years. Score: 89 pts

Inniskillin Reserve Pinot Noir 2012 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (89 pts)

PONDVIEW ESTATE VIOGNIER 2015 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#469205) (XD) - $16.95
Offers a medium+ intensity nose featuring clean lime, white flowers, and fresh citrus. The palate is medium-bodied and dry with an oily texture that offers floral, lemon/lime, some herbally notes, and hints of honey. It has bright, fresh acids, while the finish length is medium-long. Score: 88 pts

PondView Estate Viognier 2015 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (88 pts)PondView Vidal Icewine 2013 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (90 pts)

PONDVIEW VIDAL ICEWINE 2013 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#390351) (S) (200 mL) - $19.95
Very inviting and highly aromatic nose that offers lovely pineapple, orange, caramelized citrus and peach aromas. It's very sweet with lovely aroma replays of citrus, peach and apricot on the medium-bodied palate, with bright acids balancing the sweetness very well. Excellent length on the finish that has notes of poached pineapples. Score: 90 pts

COLANERI STELLUCHA RIESLING 2015 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (M) - $17.95
The 2015 vintage was just released and has a medium-high nose that is effervescent with nuances of green apple, lime, and hints of mandarin orange. It's medium-bodied with crisp, bright, refreshing acids and flavours of Flintstone vitamins, orange and pear. It's off-dry to medium-dry in sweetness with clean minerality on the long finish. Score: 89 pts

Colaneri Stellucha Riesling 2015 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (89 pts)Colaneri Unita Cabernet Franc Reserva 2013 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (90 pts)

COLANERI UNITA CABERNET FRANC RESERVA 2013 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $39.95
80% appassimento and 22 months in barrel, this has a medium-high intensity, complex nose offering chestnut, brambly, licorice, candied cherry, currant, and blackberry aromas. It's medium-full bodied with raspberry, sweet oak vanilla, herbal spice and ripe berry aroma replays. Quite spicy. Finishes long. Score: 90 pts

CREEKSIDE BACKYARD BUBBLY SAUVIGNON BLANC 2013 - VQA Creek Shores, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#398628) (D) - $24.95
Medium+ intensity featuring mineral, lemon peel and earthy funk. Bubbles are finely tuned on the medium+ bodied palate, with a nice texture and green, grass, and hints of gooseberry flavours typical or the varietal. Comes off as dry overall, with bright acids and very good length on the finish. It was released into VINTAGES on June 11 and some still available. Score: 89 pts

Creekside Backyard Bubbly Sauvignon Blanc 2013 - VQA Creek Shores, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (89 pts)

CREEKSIDE BACKYARD BLOCK SAUVIGNON BLANC 2015 - VQA Creek Shores, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#341792) (XD) - $18.95
Medium-high intensity, but somewhat restrained nose of tropical fruit, kiwi, passion fruit, and guava. It's medium-bodied with vibrant, juicy acids with more kiwi and grass flavours, along with some gooseberry notes. Quite balanced overall. Medium-long finish. Score: 88 pts

Creekside Backyard Block Sauvignon Blanc 2015 - VQA Creek Shores, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (88 pts)Creekside Marianne Hill Riesling 2015 - VQA Beamsville Bench, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (88+ pts)

CREEKSIDE MARIANNE HILL RIESLING 2015 - VQA Beamsville Bench, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#443572) (M) - $21.95
A medium+ intensity nose offers orange and citrus aromas with a mineral component. The palate is medium-bodied with acids that are juicy and vibrant, while balancing the pleasing aroma replays in an off-dry style. There's a chalky mineral texture on the palate, while the lengthy finish ends with orange notes. Score: 88+ pts

FEATHERSTONE ROSÉ 2015 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#117861) (D) - $15.95
Bright strawberry, cherry, ripe red plums on the nose, with sweet aroma replays on the light-to-mid weighted palate. It has balanced acids and good length on the finish. Soft, easy drinking style. Score: 87 pts

FEATHERSTONE BLACK SHEEP RIESLING 2015 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#080234) (M) - $16.95
Lovely medium-high intensity nose has clean orange, citrus and some tropical fruit, mineral, apple and peach notes add complexity. It's fairly light-weighted with a slatey texture and pleasing aroma replays on the medium sweet palate. Bright acids provide freshness, while the finish length is very good. Was released into VINTAGES on August 6th. Score: 88 pts

Featherstone Black Sheep Riesling 2015 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (88 pts)Featherstone Cabernet Franc 2014 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (88 pts)

FEATHERSTONE CABERNET FRANC 2014 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#064618) (XD) - $19.20
The medium-high intensity nose has an initial bretty/barnyard aroma that gives way to complex raspberry, bramble, spices, black cherry, and blackberry. It's medium-full bodied with complex spice-led aroma replays. Vibrant acids are well-balanced. Long, raspberry-cherry finish with hints of smoke. Tannins a bit tight at this stage - try this in 1-2 years. Score: 88 pts


Monday, August 22, 2016

  • Monday, August 22, 2016

Domaine Hamelin Beauroy Chablis 1er Cru 2014 (Burgundy) - Wine Review

Tonight's wine is a lovely Premier Cru Chablis made by the award-winning winery of Domaine Hamelin. This wine will be in LCBO VINTAGES on September 3.

Like the 2012 Domaine Hamelin Beauroy Chablis 1er Cru that I enjoyed last year, the grapes for this wine are sourced from vines over 30 years old and planted on a steep, south-facing slope.

The 2014 vintage in Burgundy was a very good one for Chablis wines, so one can expect this wine to be very good as well. Let's see how it is...

Domaine Hamelin Beauroy Chablis 1er Cru 2014 - AC, Burgundy, France (91 pts)

Tasting Note:

DOMAINE HAMELIN BEAUROY CHABLIS 1ER CRU 2014 - AC, Burgundy, France (#391805) (XD) - $32.95
Hints of lemony stone fruits from the cork. This unoaked Chardonnay has a fragrant nose of golden apples, lemon, pear, yellow flowers and hints of earth. The palate is medium+ bodied with a fine chalky mineral texture and flavours of lemon/lime citrus, coriander, saline and hints of mineral. Refreshing on the mid-palate with finely tuned acids. Clean and crisp with a mineral, saline character on the long finish. Enjoy over the next 5-6 years. Score: 91 pts


  • Monday, August 22, 2016

Niagara New VIntage Wine Festival Review 2016 - Day 1

On the weekend of -12, 2016, I visited Niagara wine country to take in the annual New Vintage Festival and indulge in Discovery Pass Experiences throughout the region. activities centered around the wineries of the Niagara Escarpment and Twenty Valley. A full review of Sunday's activities, which were mostly in Niagara-on-the-Lake, will be posted in a few days.

Scratch Bakery #PieholeApproved Strawberry Tart with Mike Weir 4 Barrel Chardonnay
We began the day at Mike Weir Winery for a #pieholeapproved strawberry tailgate tart paired with their 4 Barrel Chardonnay.  The tart by itself was to die for! An exquisite creation by the folks at Scratch Bakery that consisted of a basil shortbread crust with a balsamic mascarpone whip and topped with a balsamic strawberry and rhubarb glaze. The Chardonnay paired really well with the tart, showing off a very fine sweet and savoury balance. Most impressively was how the mascarpone cheese cream helped balance the acid in the wine to create a smooth, harmonious mouthfeel.

I was also delighted (and surprised!) to see both the 2010 Merlot and 2010 Meritage still available for purchase at the winery at $20 each. These should be added to every red wine lover's cellar for those seeking quality local red wine on a budget.

Vieni Momenti Sparkling with Maryland Crab Meat Patty
The next stop was Vieni Estates for a rich and delicate Maryland crab meat patty crusted with fresh herbs and Parmesan cheese, and topped with with a chipotle aioli that added some spice. It was paired with their always easy-drinking Momenti Sparkling (reviewed below). The bubbles from the Sparkling Wine added interest and texture to the dense patty that had small pieces of crab meat embedded within. Furthermore, the sweetness from the sparkler cooled down some of the chili heat from the crab meat patty. Overall, an enjoyable pairing that was very satisfying.

Malivoire Lady Bug Rosé with Cheesy Guys Grillable Cheese, Strawberries and Greens
Our third stop of the day was at Malivoire Wine Company , where the Cheesy Guys brought a delectable BBQ-friendly grillable cheese to life in a salad with local greens, strawberries and nuts. It was paired with their dry 2015 Malivoire Lady Bug Rosé (#559088, $15.95, 87 pts). This rosé was one of the first rosé wines I enjoyed when I first took in interest in wine many, many years ago and is still enjoyable to this day - it's a refreshingly dry (i.e. not sweet) rosé that you too will enjoy if you're a fan of the style. The pairing with the salad was good - fresh, crisp, savoury, some sweetness from the nuts, and well-balanced overall.

Since I had tasted through many of Malivoires wines back in January, I opted to taste through the wines of Rennie Estate Winery. This winery produces only 4 wines, from grapes that are 100% estate grown. The vineyard is the Heron Pond Benchland Vineyard, a 50 acre site that has been producing grapes as early as the 1960's - making it one of the oldest in Niagara. I really enjoyed two wines from the Rennie portfolio and reviews of those are provided below. The wines are available for purchase online or by visiting Malvoire Wine Company.

Stoney Ridge Cabernet Franc with Scratch Bakery Dark Chocolate and Strawberry Tart
The final stop of the day was nearby at Stoney Ridge Estate Winery where Scratch Bakery once again provided the culinary creation. The pairing here was the 2014 Stoney Ridge Cabernet Franc (#369702, $14.95, 88 pts) with a dark chocolate tart topped with a farm fresh Ontario strawberry. This pairing was a whole lot of chocolate - lots of chocolate flavours coming from the wine that meshed well with the dark chocolate tart. However, I was quite chocolated-out after it was finished.

Since all the stops on this day were quite close to each other, we still had much of the afternoon to check-in to the hotel in Niagara Falls and rest up prior to dinner. Another full day of wine tasting paired with delicious culinary creations was awaiting us on Sunday, a review of which will be posted in a couple of days.

Full wine reviews of the many wines I enjoyed on Saturday are posted below. Most of these wines are not available at the LCBO, but can be ordered online by visiting the winery's website.

Thank you to each and every winery - your gracious hospitality was very much appreciated by myself and the group.

Tasting Notes:

MIKE WEIR 4 BARREL CHARDONNAY 2013 - VQA Beamsville Bench, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $24.95
Medium intensity nose of pear, lime, floral with just hints of wood influence. On the palate, it is medium-bodied with bright acids and flavours of buttery, apple and pear notes. Quite fruit forward with hints of vanilla and butterscotch. It has juicy, tart acids and the finish length is very good. Score: 88+ pts

Mike Weir 4 Barrel Chardonnay 2013 - VQA Beamsville Bench, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (88+ pts)

MIKE WEIR PINOT NOIR 2009 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#000075) (D) - $16.95
Amazing to still be able to find a 2009 Pinot. This Pinot offers a medium+ intensity nose of forest floor and cherry, along with some strawberry and earthy tones. The palate is medium-bodied and shows a complex, savoury flavour profile consisting of red and black fruits, spiced oak, currant and herbally hints. Acids are bright and still quite fresh. Very good length on the finish. Supple tannins should allow this wine to drink well for a few more years. Score: 88+ pts

Mike Weir Pinot Noir 2009 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (88+ pts)Mike Weir Limited Edition Merlot 2013 - VQA Beamsville Bench, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (88 pts)

MIKE WEIR LIMITED EDITION MERLOT 2013 - VQA Beamsville Bench, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $29.95
Medium+ bodied with some sulphur off the top, but gives way to red and black fruits, currant, green pepper, and mocha aromas. It's medium-bodied with medium-level of tannins and flavours of currant, chocolate, cocoa and black cherry. Acids are well-balanced and finishing long. Enjoy to 2021. Score: 88 pts

VIENI MOMENTI SPARKLING 2013 - VQA Ontario, Canada (#435784) (MD) - $13.95
A blend 60% Vidal and 40% Pinot Grigio, this has an appealing nose of honey, peach and sweet limes. Easy drinking with medium-sweet aroma replays. Some tartness on the bubbles. Would make a nice apertif or pair with mildly spiced dishes. Score: 88 pts

Vieni Momenti Sparkling 2013 - VQA Ontario, Canada (88 pts)

VIENI PINOT GRIGIO 2013 - VQA Vinemount Ridge, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (D) - $14.95
A light nose features a floral, herbal and mineral character. Medium-bodied with a rounded mouthfeel and flavours of stone fruits, white peach and more mineral. Balanced acids and good length on the finish. Score: 88 pts

Vieni Pinot Grigio 2013 - VQA Vinemount Ridge, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (88 pts)Vieni Chardonnay 2012 - VQA Vinemount Ridge, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (88+ pts)

VIENI CHARDONNAY 2012 - VQA Vinemount Ridge, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#388371) (XD) - $22.95
Medium intensity nose of golden apple, pear and coconut. It's medium-to-full bodied with nice aroma replays. Well-balanced with a nicely spiced mid-palate and balanced acids. Long finish. Score: 88+ pts

MALIVOIRE PINOT GRIS 2015 - VQA Beamsville Bench, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#591305) (D) - $21.95
Notions of lemon/lime, floral and stone fruit aromas of medium intensity from the glass. The medium-bodied palate offers a clean, crisp and fresh wine that's nicely balanced with nice mineral and peach flavours. Well-delineated acids and hints of honey on a finish length that's very good. Score: 89 pts

Malivoire Pinot Gris 2015 - VQA Beamsville Bench, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (89 pts)

RENNIE ESTATE CHRISTINE CHARDONNAY 2013 - VQA Beamsville Bench, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $35
This unfiltered, oaked Chardonnay has a lovely nose of pear, apple, butterscotch, tropical fruits and hints of ginger. The full-bodied palate is rich and creamy with beautiful aroma replays and some mildly spice notes on the mid-palate add some nice texture. It's quite well-balanced with good acidity and excellent length on the finish. Score: 91 pts

Rennie Estate Christine Chardonnay 2013 - VQA Beamsville Bench, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (91 pts)Rennie Estate Paradox Pinot Noir 2013 - VQA Beamsville Bench, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (91 pts)

RENNIE ESTATE PARADOX PINOT NOIR 2013 - VQA Beamsville Bench, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $40
An elegant nose of medium-high intensity offers complex strawberry, cherry, earth, with hints of herbs and oak spices. The palate is medium-bodied and smooth with exotic spice notes joining the red fruited flavours. Terrific complexity and depth. Long finish. Tight tannic structure will allow this wine to age a number of years. Score: 91 pts

STONEY RIDGE EXCELLENCE CHARDONNAY 2011 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#254243) (XD) - $24.95
Medium intensity nose of butterscotch, pineapple, vanilla and pear, along with hints of bubblegum. The palate is medium-bodied with vanilla, butter, and baked apple flavours with a spiced mid-palate, balanced acids and long finish. Score: 88 pts

Stoney Ridge Excellence Chardonnay 2011 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (88 pts)Stoney Ridge Excellence Pinot Noir 2013 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (88+ pts)

STONEY RIDGE EXCELLENCE PINOT NOIR 2013 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $29
Has a medium intensity nose featuring elegant cherry, strawberry and red pepper jelly, with more of the same on the flavour profile, plus beetroot and earthy flavours. The palate is medium+ bodied with bright, balanced acids and refined tannins. Very good length on the finish. Score: 88+ pts


Wednesday, August 17, 2016

  • Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Lavau Gigondas 2013 (Rhône) - Wine Review

wine will be available as part of the upcoming LCBO VINTAGES Release on .

It's made by the Lavau Family which has been winemaking for several generations and started out in St. Emilion. In 1964, the family settled in the Rhône Valley and is now managed by Benoit and Frederic Lavau. The Lavau Family currently owns 3 cellars in southern Rhône and has partnered up with 300 grape growers, allowing the family to choose the best terroir and grapes for each of their wines. The grapes for this red wine come from a vineyard located on the steep terraced hillsides of Gigondas.

Having enjoyed the Lavau Vacqueyras and the entry-level Lavau Côtes du Rhône Villages (still available at LCBO) wines last year, I am expecting only good things from this higher-tiered Gigondas.

Lavau Gigondas 2013 - AC, Rhône, France (90+ pts)

Tasting Note:

LAVAU GIGONDAS 2013 - AC, Rhône, France (#234955) (XD) - $29.95
Blend of 50% Grenache, 40% Syrah and 10% Mourvèdre that was aged in a mix of vat and used barrels. Dark plum and berry aromas from the cork. Appealing notes of cherry, red currant, raspberry, violet florals with undertones of earthiness The palate is full-bodied and gains texture in the mouth. Blackberry, black cherry, some floral and stony mineral flavours, along with subtle oak notes. Acids are fresh and mouthwatering. Tannins are a bit tight and grippy and could use another year of ageing. Long finish tapers to the earthy side. Approachable now, but better next year and drink over next half dozen years. Will be enjoyed tonight with Chicken Tacos. Recommended buy. Score: 90+ pts


Monday, August 15, 2016

  • Monday, August 15, 2016

McMichael Collection Group of Seven Chardonnay 2014 (Niagara) - Wine Review

Sunday night's wine was this Unoaked Chardonnay that was created by the McMichael Canadian Art Collection in collaboration with Diamond Estates Winery. It is one of two wines that is part of the collection - the other is the 2014 McMichael Collection Group of Seven Cabernet Merlot that I reviewed last week.

There are 7 different labels for the two wines - with each member of the Group of Seven Canadian artists represented once. My bottle of Chardonnay has a version of F.H. Varley's "Stormy Weather, Georgian Bay" (c. 1920).

Both wines in this collection are widely available at the LCBO, with fifty cents from each bottle sold going to the McMichael Collection.

I tasted this delicious wine first at the Winetario tasting event in June, where it was poured after being freshly awarded Gold in the Unoaked Chardonnay category at the 2016 Ontario Wine Awards. Let's see how this bottle is...

McMichael Collection Group of Seven Chardonnay 2014 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (88 pts)

Tasting Note:

MCMICHAEL COLLECTION GROUP OF SEVEN CHARDONNAY 2014 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#456582) (D) - $14.95
Screw cap. This unoaked Chardonnay was fermented and aged for 8 months in stainless steel tanks. Fresh pear, citrus aromas with hints of mineral and peach. The fleshy palate is medium+ bodied and a shade off-dry with citrusy, melon, green apple, white pepper and hints of stony mineral flavours. Acids are juicy, nice and fresh. Fine length on the finish. Serve nicely chilled and enjoy this summer. Score: 88 pts


  • Monday, August 15, 2016

VINTAGES Release August 20: Trends + Germany

LCBO Wine Picks from August 20, 2106 VINTAGES Release
The VINTAGES Release will be on LCBO shelves this and features wines trending upwards as its main theme, while the secondary theme is a small selection of German wines. The local feature has a fine selection of wines from Prince Edward County.

We'll begin with the trendy wine feature. Only 1 of the 17 wines listed in this thematic is included in my wine picks. It is the refreshing Vermentino from Sardinia that has just a kiss of sweetness - ideal for the remaining hot days of August.

The tiny German feature lists only 5 wines. However, 2 are included among my wine picks. Both of my German Riesling recommendations are on the sweeter side, with the Schloss Schönborn being sweeter than the Thörle Riesling. If you're a Riesling fan, you should pick up both of these.

Schloss Schönborn Riesling 2011 - Rheingau, Germany (89 Pts)Thörle Feinherb Riesling 2015 - Rheinhessen, Germany (89 Pts)

In the Local Talent feature, Price Edward County is the theme and offers an excellent (albeit mini) glimpse into the region with 4 wines listed. Three of the wines are included in my wine picks - Norm Hardie's Pinot Noir, the Closson Chase Chardonnay, and a sparkling wine from Lighthall Vineyards. The sparkling wine is designated VQA Ontario, but, in fact, all the fruit (100% Vidal) is sourced from their own vineyards in The County.

Closson Chase Vineyard Chardonnay 2014 - VQA Prince Edward County, Ontario, Canada (91 Pts)

From the rest of the release, the Old Vines Spanish red is a blend of Garnacha from 70+ year old vines, plus 15% Syrah, while the Rigoleto Tuscan red is a blend of 70% Sangiovese, 15% Ciliegiolo, and 15% Montepulciano. The Portuguese red wine is an unoaked blend of Touriga Franca, Tinta Roriz, Tinto Cão, and Touriga Nacional and comes from an estate whose story goes back more than 250 years. The mature 2005 Ontañón Gran Reserva is mostly Tempranillo with 5% Graciano added. Lastly, the Zuccardi Malbec is an interesting wine in that it was entirely fermented and aged in concrete tanks to showcase the fruit, and only available at Flagship Stores (FSE).

In white wines, the Burgundian wines are all Chardonnays above $20. The Italian white wines are under $20 and include the Soave, which is an organic wine made with 100% Garganega, a Greco from Campania, and the aforementioned Vermentino. There is also the New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc.

Lastly, the dry rosé wine from Rhône is a blend of mostly Grenache, Syrah, and Cinsault.

Enjoy my wine picks from this release! Prost!

Pascual Toso Reserve Malbec 2013 - Barrancas Vineyards, Mendoza, Argentina (89 Pts)

Red Wine:

  • CELLER DE CAPÇANES MAS DONÍS BARRICA OLD VINES 2014 - DO Montsant, Spain (#705863) (XD) - $17.95
  • CASTELLO COLLEMASSARI RIGOLETO MONTECUCCO ROSSO 2013 - DOC, Tuscany, Italy (#455501) (XD) - $17.95
  • CASAS DEL TOQUI TERROIR SELECTION GRAN RESERVA PINOT NOIR 2012 - Casablanca Valley, Chile (#443499) (XD) - $19.95  reviewed here
  • QUINTA NOVA DE NOSSA SENHORA DO CARMO COLHEITA TINTO 2011 - DOC Douro, Portugal (#452748) (XD) - $19.95
  • PASCUAL TOSO RESERVE MALBEC 2013 - Barrancas Vineyards, Mendoza, Argentina (#183897) (XD) - $19.95  reviewed here
  • WAIMEA PINOT NOIR 2014 - Nelson, South Island, New Zealand (#447508) (XD) - $22.95
  • MAZZEI FONTERUTOLI CHIANTI CLASSICO 2013 - DOCG, Tuscany, Italy (#977629) (D) - $25.95  reviewed here
  • ONTAÑÓN GRAN RESERVA 2005 - DOC Rioja, Spain (#939736) (XD) - $39.95
  • ZUCCARDI CONCRETO MALBEC 2014 - Paraje Altamira, Uco Valley, Mendoza, Argentina (#455774) (XD) - $39.95  FSE
  • NORMAN HARDIE COUNTY UNFILTERED PINOT NOIR 2014 - VQA Prince Edward County, Ontario, Canada (#125310) (XD) - $45.20
Mazzei Fonterutoli Chianti Classico 2013 - DOCG, Tuscany, Italy (89 Pts)Casas del Toqui Terroir Selection Gran Reserva Pinot Noir 2012 - Casablanca Valley, Chile (88+ Pts)

White Wine:

  • LA CAPPUCCINA SOAVE 2014 - DOC, Veneto, Italy (#081489) (D) - $15.95
  • SCHLOSS SCHÖNBORN RIESLING 2011 - Rheingau, Germany (#653535) (MS) - $16.95  reviewed here
  • THORNBURY SAUVIGNON BLANC 2015 - Marlborough, South Island, New Zealand (#734798) (XD) - $18.95
  • THÖRLE FEINHERB RIESLING 2015 - Rheinhessen, Germany (#420091) (M) - $18.95  reviewed here
  • CONTINI PARIGLIA VERMENTINO DI SARDEGNA 2014 - DOC, Sardinia, Italy (#455238) (D) - $18.95
  • MASTROBERARDINO GRECO DI TUFO 2014 - DOCG, Campania, Italy (#568105) (XD) - $19.95
  • JEAN-MARC BROCARD DOMAINE SAINTE CLAIRE CHABLIS 2014 - AC, Burgundy, France (#356634) (XD) - $23.95
  • ANDRÉ GOICHOT LES GUIGNOTTES MONTAGNY 2014 - AC, Burgundy, France (#455139) (XD) - $26.95
  • CLOSSON CHASE VINEYARD CHARDONNAY 2014 - VQA Prince Edward County, Ontario, Canada (#148866) (XD) - $29.00  reviewed here
  • JEAN COLLET & FILS MONTÉE DE TONNERRE CHABLIS 1 ER CRU 2014 - AC, Burgundy, France (#405720) (XD) - $37.95

Rosé Wine:

  • DELAS SAINT-ESPRIT CÔTES-DU-RHÔNE ROSÉ 2015 - AC, Rhône, France (#224964) (XD) - $16.95

Sparkling Wine:

  • LIGHTHALL VINEYARDS PROGRESSION SPARKLING WINE 2014 - VQA Ontario, Canada (#468090) (D) - $20.00
  • GUY CHARLEMAGNE BLANC DE BLANCS GRAND CRU RÉSERVE BRUT CHAMPAGNE - AC, France (#143263) (XD) - $61.95


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