Wednesday, December 13, 2017

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  • Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Sip and Sizzle in Niagara-on-the-Lake 2017



Grilled Prawn, Shoot and Sprout Salad and Citrus Zest Emulsion with 2016 Château des Charmes Sauvignon Blanc
On this cold, wintry day, let me take you back to when I visited Niagara-on-the-Lake to partake in the annual Sip & Sizzle food and wine pairing event thanks to winning a contest on Foodies on Foot. This excellent event was running on weekends in May at over 20 wineries in Niagara-on-the-Lake. Unfortunately, due to my busy schedule, I was only able to attend on the final day of the event, so I tried to squeeze in as many wineries as I could in a single day.

The first stop was at Château des Charmes for a crisp pairing of their 2016 Château des Charmes Sauvignon Blanc Estate Grown & Bottled ($14.95, 87 pts) with a grilled prawn, shoot and sprout salad and citrus zest emulsion. This was a delicious pairing as the "sip" is an ideal match for seafood, while the green and citrus notes from the salad complemented the flavours from wine. The zesty dressing also added a bit of zip to the overall pairing, really brightening the flavours. This sizzling pairing was quite well done.

My second stop was at Ravine Vineyard to savour the 2016 Ravine Cabernet Rosé ($22, 88+ pts) paired with Rossco’s harissa grilled chicken thigh on a mixed grain salad. This was a nice, balanced pairing where nothing really jumped out, except for the herbally character in the wine that matched some of the herbs in the dish. The chicken was nicely grilled off the BBQ and added subtle smoky flavours to the overall pairing. Portion size was also very good. This was a nice, wholesome and comforting pairing.

Rossco’s Harissa Grilled Chicken Thigh on a Mixed Grain Salad with 2016 Ravine Cabernet RoséGrilled Chicken Taco topped with Mango Salsa with 2015 Riverview Bianco Riesling Gewürztraminer

Our third stop of the day was at Riverview Cellars Estate Winery for a mildly sweet 2015 Riverview Bianco Riesling Gewürztraminer ($14, 87 pts) blend that was paired with a grilled chicken taco topped with a mango salsa that was made with some of the Bianco white wine. This pairing was all about matching the sweet, fruity flavours from the wine to the mango salsa. The clean acids from the wine also helped create a balanced pairing. Overall, this was a well executed pairing that I would love to try at home.

At our fourth stop of the afternoon, we visited Inniskillin Wines for another grilled chicken taco, but this time it was spiced with chipotle and topped with avocado. It was paired with their 2013 Inniskillin Reserve Shiraz Cabernet ($25, 88+ pts). This was a quality and balanced pairing, with plenty of spiced, peppery notes from both the taco and the red wine complementing each other well.

Grilled Chicken Taco spiced with Chipotle and topped with Avocado and paired with 2013 Inniskillin Reserve Shiraz CabernetCherry Cheesecake Flambé with 2012 Lailey Pinot Noir

The fifth stop was at Lailey Vineyard Winery, where the pairing was off the beaten path and a little adventurous by pairing a dessert item with red table wine. It was interesting to try their 2012 Lailey Pinot Noir (89 pts) paired with a dessert item - a cherry cheesecake flambé. The cherry flavours in the wine matched the cherry notes in the cheesecake, plus the wine's bright acidity balanced out the creamy texture from the cheesecake. The cheesecake also wasn't very sweet, which helped allow this to be a good pairing.

Wings are a popular item at Rancourt Winery, our sixth stop of the afternoon. On this day, we were offered BBQ chicken wings braised in Harvest Barn's famous Vidalia onion sauce and paired with their 2013 Rancourt Noble Rouge ($15, 86 pts), a Cabernet Merlot blend. Wings and red wine are always a good pairing in my books, and at Rancourt we had wings in a sweet sauce paired with a wine that also had some sweetness in it, providing for a balanced pairing. Unfortunately, I gobbled it down so fast that I forgot to take a picture.

Lamb Slider with 2014 Trius Merlot

The seventh stop was at Trius Winery where we were supposed to pair the 2015 Trius Merlot with a spiced lamb Merguez sausage, spring slaw, honey, and mint yogurt dressing. However, since we were approaching the end of the day on the last day of the event, it appears as though they ran out of that specific wine and the sausage because we got the 2014 Trius Merlot ($16, 87 pts) paired with a yummy lamb slider. No complaints from me! Bigger red wines with red meats are usually a pretty good pairing, and this was no exception.

Since the brand spanking new Wayne Gretzky Estates Winery & Distillery was (unofficially) open to the public next door to Trius, we decided to pop-in and check out the new digs. It was crazy busy here, so we only managed to taste a few wines before heading over to our final stop of the day. This is a place I definitely want to come back and taste through the distilled products.

Grilled Halloumi Cheese marinated in Curry Sauce on Naan Wedge and topped with Niagara peach, and paired 2016 Jack Rabbit White

The eighth and final stop of the day was at The Hare Wine Co. for a grilled Halloumi cheese marinated in a mild & creamy curry sauce on a Naan wedge topped with Niagara peach, and paired with the 2016 Jack Rabbit White ($14.50, 86 pts). The wine was off-dry with plenty of floral and citrusy flavours that paired well with the peach, while the acids in the wine helped balance the creamy cheese. A good pairing overall, even though the portions at this winery were a bit on the small side.

This was my first time attending Sip & Sizzle and I was quite pleased with the many sips and sizzling culinary creations. I would definitely recommend this event food and wine lovers, especially those folks who have an affinity for BBQ fare. I hope to attend this lovely event featuring the wineries of Niagara-on-the-Lake again in 2018, and firmly believe that you should attend too! Wine reviews of some of my favourites wines tasted on this day are provided below.

Tasting Notes:

CHÂTEAU DES CHARMES ST. DAVID’S BENCH VINEYARD GAMAY NOIR DROIT 2015 - VQA St. David’s Bench, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada (#346742) (XD) - $18.95
Medium-high intensity aromas of pepper, earth, black cherry, blackberry, and gamey notes that are quite complex with a certain rustic charm. It's medium-full bodied with cherry, oak spice, and brambly fruit flavours lifted by bright acids. There's supple tannins, good fruit concentration, and a long, juicy finish. Score: 89 pts

Château des Charmes St. David’s Bench Vineyard Gamay Noir Droit 2015 (89 pts)Château des Charmes Vidal Icewine 2015 (92 pts)

CHÂTEAU DES CHARMES VIDAL ICEWINE 2015 - Estate Bottled, VQA Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada (#565861) (S) (200 mL) - $26.95
Highly aromatic and complex nose of peach, apricot, honeysuckle, pineapple and honeydew melon. The palate is medium-full bodied with bright fruited aroma replays that are nicely balanced. It's lusciously sweet, but balanced with very good acidity. The finish length is excellent and nicely balanced. Score: 92 pts

RAVINE VINEYARD CHARDONNAY 2015 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $30
Aromas of medium-high intensity with rich, oak-influenced buttery, apple, and smoke notes, plus hints of butterscotch, pineapple and caramel. The medium-bodied palate offers nice aroma replays that are well-balanced and supported by nicely articulated acids. Finishes long with caramel, sweet oak, and vanilla notes. Score: 91 pts

Ravine Vineyard Chardonnay 2015 (91 pts)Ravine Vineyard Reserve Riesling 2015 (90+ pts)

RAVINE VINEYARD RESERVE RIESLING 2015 - VQA St. David's Bench, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada (MD) - $35
Contains 30% botrytis affected grapes, this has medium-high intensity aromatics of petrol, honeycomb, and apricot. The palate is medium-dry (i.e. noticeably sweet) with very nice aroma replays and a light mineral texture. Acids are bright and refreshing. Finish length is excellent. Score: 90+ pts

RIVERVIEW CELLARS SALVATORE'S RESERVE CABERNET FRANC 2012 - VQA Niagara River, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $30.15
Medium-high intensity aromas show white pepper, herbaceous, leafy, brambly, blackberry and medicinal aromas that are slightly cooked/stewed. It's medium-bodied with herbally, dark fruited, medicinal, and iodine flavours, plus touches of chocolate mocha. Refined tannins are well-integrated and acids are balanced. Earthy, mocha, and vanilla notes linger on the medium-long finish. Score: 88 pts

Riverview Cellars Salvatore's Reserve Cabernet Franc 2012 (88 pts)Riverview Cellars Salvatore's Reserve Syrah 2013 (89 pts)

RIVERVIEW CELLARS SALVATORE'S RESERVE SYRAH 2013 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $30.15
Medium-high intensity nose offers white pepper, blackberry, dark fruits, earthy, and vanilla oak aromas. This is much more open and fruit forward compared to when I tasted this in September 2016. It's full-bodied with pleasing aroma replays lifted by bright acidity. Smooth, refined tannins. Long, earthy-peppery finish. Score: 89 pts

INNISKILLIN NIAGARA RESERVE SHIRAZ CABERNET 2015 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#225482) (D) - $24.95
Medium+ intensity aromas that are ripe with red cherry, white pepper, currant, cassis, and herbs. It's medium-full bodied and dense on the palate with oak spiced aroma replays that have a touch of sweetness. Acids are bright, tannins a touch grippy, and the finish length is very good. Score: 88 pts

Inniskillin Niagara Reserve Shiraz Cabernet 2015 (88 pts)Inniskillin Montague Vineyard Chardonnay 2014 (88 pts)

INNISKILLIN MONTAGUE VINEYARD CHARDONNAY 2014 - VQA Four Mile Creek, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#586347) (XD) - $24.95
Clean apple, pear, and butter aromas of medium-high intensity with hints of tart citrus and melon. The palate is medium+ bodied with nice aroma replays plus toasty oak notes. Acids are very good. Long, buttery finish. Score: 88 pts

LAILEY BARREL SELECT CHARDONNAY 2013 - VQA Niagara River, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $30
From four outstanding barrels, this has medium-high intensity aromatics featuring clean apple, butter, pear, sweet oak vanilla and hints of nuttiness. It's mid-weighted with lovely well-balanced aromas replays, crisp acids, while finishing long and clean. Score: 90 pts

Lailey Barrel Select Chardonnay 2013 (90 pts)Lailey Syrah 2013 (90+ pts)

LAILEY SYRAH 2013 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $30
Medium-high intensity aromas have complex gamey, black peppercorn, oak, olive and earthy notes. It's medium+ bodied on the palate with nice aroma replays and fresh acids. Tannins are integrating nicely. Long, balanced finish. Will provide pleasure over the next 5 years. Score: 90+ pts

RANCOURT CABERNET FRANC 2012 - VQA Niagara Lakeshore, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $20
The complex nose is ripe with sweet oak spice, herbaceous, white pepper, dark fruits and chocolate aromas of very good intensity. The palate is medium+ bodied with fresh acids and nice aroma replays. Refined tannins are integrating nicely. Finish length is very good. Drink over the next 3-5 years. Score: 88 pts

Rancourt Cabernet Franc 2012 (88 pts)

TRIUS SHIRAZ 2015 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $22.75
This new arrival is blended with 5% Viognier. Aromas of medium-high intensity offer black peppercorn, blackberry, gamey, dark currant, and dark berry notes. It's full-bodied with some tannic grip and very nice aroma replays. It has fresh acids and finishes long. This well-made wine should be aged 2+ years for the tannins to soften. Score: 88 pts

Trius Shiraz 2015 (88 pts)Trius Showcase Red Shale Cabernet Franc 2012 (91 pts)

TRIUS SHOWCASE RED SHALE CABERNET FRANC 2012 - Clark Farm Vineyard, VQA Four Mile Creek, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $45.20
From the Clark Farm Vineyard, this has medium-high intensity and complex aromas of currant, leafy, herbaceous, oak, and forest floor. It's full-bodied and structured with some tannic grip and nicely balanced aroma replays. Very good and juicy acids add freshness and lift. Hints of minerality exist on the long finish. This is a serious Cab Franc to enjoy over the next decade. Score: 91 pts

WAYNE GRETZKY NO. 99 RIESLING 2015 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#144865) (M) - $14.95
Medium+ intensity aromas feature some mature petrol notes, along with mineral, green apple, citrus and peach aromas. There's a nice mineral texture on the light-weighted palate with appealing off-dry (i.e. slightly sweet) aroma replays. Vibrant acids keep things fresh, while the finish length is very good. Score: 88+ pts

Wayne Gretzky No. 99 Riesling 2015 (88+ pts)The Hare Frontier Cabernet Franc 2013 (89 pts)

THE HARE FRONTIER CABERNET FRANC 2013 - VQA Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $50
Contains trace amounts of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon, this has medium-high intensity, oak-influenced aromas of tobacco, cigar, smoke, dark cherry, pepper, and dark currant with very good complexity that continues on the medium-full bodied palate. It has vibrant acids, good tannic structure, and long finishing. Enjoy over the next half decade. Score: 89 pts


Sunday, December 10, 2017

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  • Sunday, December 10, 2017

Darting Dürkheimer Nonnengarten Gewürztraminer Kabinett 2015 (Pfalz) - Wine Review

Opened up this delightful, pretty, and food-friendly wine from Germany last . This sweet white wine was purchased from the VINTAGES Release and plenty of bottles are still available at LCBO outlets across Ontario.

Darting Dürkheimer Nonnengarten Gewürztraminer Kabinett 2015 (88+ pts)

Tasting Note:

DARTING DÜRKHEIMER NONNENGARTEN GEWÜRZTRAMINER KABINETT 2015 - Prädikatswein, Pfalz, Germany (#944181) (S) - $19.95
Screw cap. This has a pretty medium+ intensity nose of lychee, rose, candied ginger, orange blossom and apricots, with a touch of leesy character. The palate is lively and sweet with bright, clean acids and very nice aroma replays. Sweet flavours continue on the juicy finish, with good length. Ideal for spicy dishes. Score: 88+ pts


Friday, December 8, 2017

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  • Friday, December 8, 2017

Karlo Cabernet Franc 2015 (Ontario) - Wine Review

wine review is this lovely Karlo Estates Cabernet Franc from Prince Edward County that was made by the renowned winemaker Derek Barnett, formerly of Lailey Winery. This Ontario Cab Franc is available at the LCBO and included as part of the VINTAGES Release. It is available only at Flagship Store locations and in very limited quantities. It is also sold out at the winery.

The fascinating history of Karlo Estates begins in the late 1700's, when Peter Van Alstine, a British Loyalist Officer, was given acreage of the land in Prince Edward County by the King of England after the American Civil War. Peter is most famous for building the Glenora Ferry which has been operating now for over 200 years. He was also the first individual to "officially own" the land where Karlo Estates exists today.

In the early 1800's, the land was transferred to the Stevenson family. They built the first homestead on the land, which can still be seen on Danforth Road just east of their carriage house. I was in The County in October, but missed visiting Karlo Estates (didn't have enough time) - but I will be sure to check this out on my next visit to this exciting wine region.

Sherry co-founded the winery with her late husband Richard Karlo after purchasing the property from the Stevenson family in 2005. The property consists of 93 acres, with 14 acres planted to vines beginning in 2006.

The talented Derek Barnett became winemaker at Karlo Estates in 2015. This Cabernet Franc is the first vintage where he had full control - from winegrowing, to harvest, and vinification. He has said this is the best Cabernet Franc he has ever made. I tasted a barrel sample of this lovely wine back in , so I am curious to see how it has developed with a further 8 months under its belt.

Karlo Cabernet Franc 2015 (90 pts)

Tasting Note:

KARLO CABERNET FRANC 2015 - VQA Prince Edward County, Ontario, Canada (#524389) (XD) - $39.00
Wild fermented with indigenous yeast and aged approximately 15 months in barrel. Vegan certified. Earthy cherry and black plum aromas from the cork. This is a nice, cool-climate Cabernet Franc showing richly dark fruited aromas with lovely cigar box, earth, black plum, and sandalwood aromas with minimal herbally notes of medium+ intensity and opens up quite nicely with air. It's light-to-medium bodied on the palate with vibrant, juicy acids and a touch warming on the mid-palate. Cran-cherry-raspberry flavours mingle with sandalwood, earth, and touches of currant and minerals. Tannins could use another year or so to soften. Nice cigar box and curranty-cherry notes linger on the long finish. I really like the fine cigar box notes found throughout - very compelling! Enjoy over the next 3-4 years. Score: 90 pts


Tuesday, December 5, 2017

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  • Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Tessellae Old Vines Grenache/Syrah/Mourvèdre Côtes du Roussillon 2015 (Midi) - Wine Review

I opened up this delightful red blend from the Roussillon on night. This was purchased from the recent VINTAGES Release and is still widely available at LCBO outlets across Ontario. This red wine is made by the famed house of Domaine Lafage.

Tessellae Old Vines Grenache/Syrah/Mourvèdre Côtes du Roussillon 2015 (88 pts)

Tasting Note:

TESSELLAE OLD VINES GRENACHE/SYRAH/MOURVÈDRE CÔTES DU ROUSSILLON 2015 - AC, Midi, France (#343517) (XD) - $18.95
From vines more than 65 years old on schist soils, this is a blend of 50% Grenache, 40% Syrah and 10% Mourvèdre that was tank-fermented and followed by aging in concrete tanks. Red and black fruit notes, plus some dark plum aromas from the cork. In the glass, this has a medium+ intensity nose leads with flinty minerality and is layered with red and black fruits, white pepper, wild herbs, and hints of black plum and evergreen. It's medium-full bodied on the palate with ripe fruited, peppery, dark berry, and black plum, with good fruit purity and concentration. Acids are bright and zesty. Suave tannins provide subtle grip. Some bitterness mid palate. Juicy finish with good length. Drink over the next 4-5 years. Score: 88 pts


Monday, December 4, 2017

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  • Monday, December 4, 2017

VINTAGES Release Dec. 9, 2017: Wines for Fêtes & Feasts + Bubblies

LCBO Wine Picks from December 9, 2017 VINTAGES Release
The upcoming VINTAGES Release is the last (and largest) release of 2017 and features Fine Wines for Fêtes & Feasts as its main theme. The mini-theme in this release features some very fine bubblies for festive occasions such as ringing in the New Year. All of these wines will be on LCBO VINTAGES shelves across Ontario this .

We'll begin with the feature listing fine wines for fêtes & feasts, which focuses on wines for holiday get-togethers. Of the eighteen wines listed, just two are included among my wine picks. The red wine is from Gérard Bertrand and is made with 40% Grenache, 30% Syrah, and 30% Mourvèdre, while the white wine is a Premier Cru Chablis (Chardonnay) from Burgundy.

From the bubblies mini-thematic which is composed of ten Champagnes, five are included among my top wine recommendations. The Cristal is a blend of 60% Pinot Noir and 40% Chardonnay, while the Nicolas Feuillatte is blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. The HBH is equal parts Pinot Noir and Chardonnay and aged at least 10 years on their sides. The Moët & Chandon is the 72nd vintage of this Champagne and this latest incarnation is composed of 40% Chardonnay, 37% Pinot Noir and 23% Pinot Meunier. Lastly, the Rosé Champagne is a blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Meunier and Pinot Noir that was vinified as a red wine.

Ornellaia 2014 (94 pts)Faustino I Gran Reserva 1994 (91 pts)

In red wines from the rest of the release, there are a pair of nice Portuguese reds - the DAC Tinto is a blend of 30% Tinta Roriz (Tempranillo), 30% Touriga Nacional, 20% Alfrocheiro, and 20% Jaen, while the Quadrus is a blend of Touriga Nacional, Tinta Roriz and Souzao. From Rhône, a pair of wines from the excellent 2015 vintage include the Les Grands Bois, which is a blend of 60% Grenache, 30% Syrah, and 10% Carignan, while the Chateauneuf-du-Pape is a blend of 75% Grenache, 10% Syrah, 10% Mourvèdre, and 5% Cinsault. The Elderton from Australia is a blend of 56% Cabernet Sauvignon, 37% Shiraz, and 7% Merlot, while the 1994 Spanish red is a blend of 85% Tempranillo, 10% Graciano, and 5% Mazuelo. The blockbuster Joseph Phelps Cabernet Sauvignon also includes 8% Merlot, 4% Petit Verdot, 2% Malbec, and 2% Cabernet Franc. Lastly, the pair of Bolgheri's are the Antinori, which contains Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Cabernet Franc, and the stellar Ornellaia that is a blend of 34% Cabernet Sauvignon, 32% Merlot, 15% Cabernet Franc, and 20% Petit Verdot.

Quadrus Reserva 2011 (90+ pts)Megalomaniac Narcissist Riesling 2016 (88 pts)

For sweet wine lovers, you'll want to look at either Riesling from Ontario or the Gewürztraminer from British Columbia as all three wines are mildly sweet. For very sweet wines, check out the Riesling Spätlese from Germany or the Tokaji from Hungary.

Enjoy my top wine recommendations from this release! Happy holidays!

Red Wine:

  • GÉRARD BERTRAND GRENACHE / SYRAH / MOURVÈDRE CORBIÈRES 2014 - AP, Midi, France (#394288) (D) - $16.95
  • DAC TINTO 2014 - DO Dão, Portugal (#523589) (XD) - $16.95
  • DOMAINE LES GRANDS BOIS CUVÉE LES TROIS SOEURS CÔTES DU RHÔNE 2015 - AP, Rhône, France (#281147) (XD) - $16.95
  • DELHEIM SHIRAZ 2013 - WO Stellenbosch, South Africa (#959080) (XD) - $17.95
  • TERRAZAS DE LOS ANDES RESERVA MALBEC 2015 - Mendoza, Argentina (#029280) (XD) - $19.95
  • FEUDO MONTONI LAGNUSA NERO D’AVOLA 2014 - DOC Sicilia, Italy (#523738) (XD) - $22.95
  • GEMTREE UNCUT SHIRAZ 2015 - McLaren Vale, South Australia (#627844) (XD) - $28.95

  • QUADRUS RESERVA 2011 - DOC Douro, Portugal (#534271) (XD) - $30.95  90+ pts  wine review
  • ELDERTON ODE TO LORRAINE 2014 - Barossa Valley, South Australia (#976423) (XD) - $39.95
  • ASCHERI BAROLO 2012 - DOCG, Piedmont, Italy (#496851) (XD) - $49.95
  • LE VIEUX DONJON CHÂTEAUNEUF-DU-PAPE 2015 - AC, Rhône, France (#700922) (XD) - $65.95
  • FAUSTINO I GRAN RESERVA 1994 - DOCa Rioja, Spain (#929489) (XD) - $68.95  91 pts  wine review
  • ANTINORI GUADO AL TASSO 2014 - DOC Bolgheri Superiore, Tuscany, Italy (#986380) (XD) - $109.95
  • JOSEPH PHELPS CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2014 - Napa Valley, California, USA (#189795) (D) - $114.95
  • ORNELLAIA 2014 - DOC Bolgheri Superiore, Tuscany, Italy (#722470) (XD) - $199.95  94 pts  wine review

White Wine:

  • CANTINA GALLURA PIRAS VERMENTINO DI GALLURA 2015 - DOCG, Sardinia, Italy (#511485) (XD) - $15.95
  • LA FORTEZZA TABURNO FALANGHINA DEL SANNIO 2016 - DOC, Campania, Italy (#527630) (XD) - $16.95
  • MEGALOMANIAC NARCISSIST RIESLING 2016 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#067587) (D) - $18.95  88 pts  wine review
  • DIRTY LAUNDRY THREADBARE VINES GEWURZTRAMINER 2015 - BC VQA Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, Canada (#514992) (D) - $19.95
  • FAMILIA ZUCCARDI Q CHARDONNAY 2016 - Tupungato, Uco Valley, Mendoza, Argentina (#232702) (XD) - $19.95
  • VALTEA ALBARIÑO 2016 - DO Rías Baixas, Spain (#518019) (XD) - $22.95
  • CHARLES BAKER IVAN VINEYARD RIESLING 2016 - VQA Twenty Mile Bench, Niagara Escarpment, Ontario, Canada (#395921) (D) - $27.20  FSE
  • JEAN-MAX ROGER CUVÉE LES CAILLOTTES SANCERRE 2016 - AC, Loire, France (#065573) (XD) - $27.95
  • STUDERT-PRÜM WEHLENER SONNENUHR RIESLING SPÄTLESE 2016 - Prädikatswein, Mosel, Germany (#912659) (S) - $27.95
  • DOMAINE DE LA MOTTE BEAUROY CHABLIS 1ER CRU 2015 - AC, Burgundy, France (#524306) (XD) - $42.95
  • PATZ & HALL CHARDONNAY 2015 - Sonoma Coast, California, USA (#200808) (XD) - $64.95  FSE

Sparkling Wine:

  • LABOURÉ-GONTARD BRUT CRÉMANT DE BOURGOGNE - Traditional method, AC, Burgundy, France (#401018) (XD) - $20.95
  • NICOLAS FEUILLATTE BRUT CHAMPAGNE 2008 - AC, France (#240085) (D) - $56.95
  • LOUIS BROCHET HBH 1ER CRU CHAMPAGNE 2002 - AC, France (#385815) (XD) - $69.95
  • MOËT & CHANDON GRAND VINTAGE BRUT CHAMPAGNE 2008 - AC, France (#069773) (XD) - $92.95
  • BILLECART-SALMON BRUT ROSÉ CHAMPAGNE - AC, France (#724559) (XD) - $109.95
  • CRISTAL BRUT CHAMPAGNE 2009 - AC, France (#268755) (XD) - $304.95

Fortified:

  • SANDEMAN 20-YEAR-OLD TAWNY PORT - DOP, Portugal (#116178) (S) - $64.95  91+ pts  wine review
  • WARRE’S QUINTA DA CAVADINHA VINTAGE PORT 2004 - Bottled 2006, DOP, Portugal (#189605) (S) - $54.95
Sandeman 20-Year-Old Tawny Port (91+ pts)

Dessert Wine:

  • ROYAL TOKAJI LATE HARVEST TOKAJI 2015 - Tokaj-Hegyalja, Hungary (#517375) (S) (500 mL) - $19.95


Friday, November 24, 2017

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  • Friday, November 24, 2017

Pillitteri Cabernet Franc 2012 (Niagara) - Wine Review (Bottle 2)

wine is the second bottle I have of this yummy Ontario Cabernet Franc. I last tasted (and enjoyed) the 2012 Pillitteri Cabernet Franc back in .

The 2012 vintage across Niagara was very good across all regions with a relatively mild winter and early spring, followed by warmer and drier conditions than normal during the growing season. It continued to be hot and dry during the summer months, right up until harvest season in September. All of this resulted in very good conditions for winegrowing for all grapes, but especially Bordeaux varietals such as Cabernet Franc.

I am curious to see how this 2012 Cabernet Franc has developed in bottle the last couple of years. Of course, the 2012 would be sold out by now, but you can pick up the 2013 by visiting Pillitteri Estates Winery in Niagara-on-the-Lake or purchasing it online through their web store.

Pillitteri Cabernet Franc 2012 (88 pts)

Tasting Note:

PILLITTERI CABERNET FRANC 2012 - VQA Niagara-on-the-Lake, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $23.20
Dark plum and dark berry aromas with hints of earth from the cork. In the glass, this offers subtle nuances of red and black fruits, green herbs, dark currants and savoury earthiness. It is medium-bodied on the palate with the fruit starting to dry out with dried cherry and sweet tobacco flavours. Tannins have softened but give off a very chalky mouthfeel. Acids are still very good. Nice dried cherry and floral characters from the mid-palate and continue through to the earthy finish. Decant and drink now. Score: 88 pts


Monday, November 20, 2017

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  • Monday, November 20, 2017

VINTAGES Release Nov. 25, 2017: California Wines for Holiday Wish Lists

LCBO Wine Picks from November 25, 2017 VINTAGES Release
The next release into LCBO VINTAGES on is a mono-thematic release featuring top California wines for holiday wish lists. All of these wines will be on LCBO VINTAGES shelves across Ontario this coming . This is the second to last release of 2017, and it's a thick one, so you'll want to begin stocking up for the holidays from this release and the past few releases in October and November.

We'll begin with the main theme that features top wines from California. Most of the seventeen wines listed in this thematic will provide enjoyment, but I have limited my selection to four top wines. This includes the mountain vineyard blend from The Hess Collection which contains 61% Malbec, 33% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 6% Petit Verdot/Syrah, while the flagship wine from Stags' Leap is made with 100% Cabernet Sauvignon. In white wines from California, the Grgich Chardonnay is always delicious every year, while the Kistler Chardonnay comes from their mountain vineyards that range in elevation from 800 to 1700 feet above sea level.

Grgich Hills Estate Chardonnay 2013 (92 pts)

From my red wine picks from the rest of this release, the Crianza is made with 100% Tempranillo, while the Faithful Hound from South Africa is faithfully made with 32% Cabernet Franc, 26% Cabernet Sauvignon, 19% Merlot, 16% Malbec, and 7% Petit Verdot. The Chianti Classico is also a blend and consists of 80% Sangiovese, 10% Colorino, and 10% Pugnitello. From France there are a pair of GSM-blends - the La Ferme du Mont wine is composed of 60% Grenache, 30% Syrah, and 10% Mourvèdre, while the Tessellae Old Vines is made with 50% Grenache, 40% Syrah and 10% Mourvèdre. Also from France, the Crozes-Hermitage is 100% Syrah, while the "Vin de France" Xavier wine from Rhône consists of almost 100% Mourvèdre. On the local front, the Stratus Red is predominantly Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc, with Syrah, Sangiovese, Malbec, and Tannat added to complete the final blend.

San Felice Chianti Classico 2015 (88+ pts)La Ferme Du Mont Première Côte Côtes du Rhône 2015 (88+ pts)

Among my white wine picks, the Antinori white from Umbria and the Montagny from Burgundy are both made with Chardonnay. For sweet wine lovers, you should pick up any of the Rieslings from either Ontario or Germany.

Henri de Villamont Montagny 1er Cru 2014 (91 pts)Fritz Willi Friedrich-Wilhelm-Gymnasium Riesling Feinherb 2015 (89 pts)

The sparkling wines found among my wine recommendations are all on the dry side. The Desiderius Pongrácz Sparkling Wine and the Drappier Champagne are both blends of 60% Pinot Noir and 40% Chardonnay, while the Moët & Chandon Rosé Champagne is a blend of 46% Pinot Noir (of which 20% is red wine), 32% Chardonnay, and 22% Pinot Meunier. Meanwhile, the Cuvée Catharine Blanc de Blanc is made with 100% Chardonnay.

Henry of Pelham Cuvée Catharine Carte Blanche Estate Blanc de Blanc 2012 (91 pts)

Enjoy my top wine picks from this Release! Cheers!

Red Wine:

  • VIÑA OLABARRI CRIANZA 2013 - DOCa Rioja, Spain (#461277) (XD) - $14.95
  • LA FERME DU MONT PREMIÈRE CÔTE CÔTES DU RHÔNE 2015 - Unfiltered, AP, France (#251645) (XD) - $17.95  88+ pts  reviewed here
  • TESSELLAE OLD VINES GRENACHE/SYRAH/MOURVÈDRE CÔTES DU ROUSSILLON 2015 - AC, Midi, France (#343517) (XD) - $18.95
  • SAN FELICE CHIANTI CLASSICO 2015 - DOCG, Tuscany, Italy (#282996) (XD) - $19.95  88+ pts  reviewed here
  • ZUCCARDI Q CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2013 - Gualtallary & La Consulta, Uco Valley, Mendoza, Argentina (#140855) (XD) - $19.95
  • MULDERBOSCH FAITHFUL HOUND 2014 - WO Western Cape, South Africa (#922443) (XD) - $20.95
  • CAVE DE TAIN GRAND CLASSIQUE CROZES-HERMITAGE 2015 - AC, Rhône, France (#572230) (D) - $23.95

  • XAVIER ARCANE XV LE DIABLE 2015 - Vin de France, Rhône, France (#526301) (XD) - $29.95
  • STRATUS RED 2013 - VQA Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada (#131037) (XD) - $48.20
  • DOMAINE DROUHIN OREGON PINOT NOIR 2014 - Dundee Hills, Oregon, USA (#961284) (XD) - $49.95  91 pts  reviewed here
  • THE HESS COLLECTION 19 BLOCK MOUNTAIN CUVÉE 2013 - Mount Veeder, Napa Valley, California, USA (#018879) (D) - $54.95
  • CA’ ROMÉ ROMANO MARENGO CERRETTA BAROLO 2011 - DOCG, Piedmont, Italy (#000455) (XD) - $71.95
  • FUMANELLI AMARONE DELLA VALPOLICELLA CLASSICO 2011 - DOCG, Veneto, Italy (#475053) (XD) - $72.95  92 pts  reviewed here
  • STAGS’ LEAP ESTATE THE LEAP CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2013 - Stags Leap District, Napa Valley, California, USA (#142844) (XD) - $99.95
Domaine Drouhin Oregon Pinot Noir 2014 (91 pts)

White Wine:

  • FAZIO AEGADES GRILLO 2015 - DOC Erice, Sicily, Italy (#388637) (XD) - $17.95
  • TAWSE SKETCHES OF NIAGARA RIESLING 2015 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#089029) (M) - $18.95
  • LAURENZ V. FRIENDLY GRÜNER VELTLINER 2015 - DAC Kamptal, Austria (#066225) (XD) - $19.95
  • CONCHA Y TORO MARQUÉS DE CASA CONCHA CHARDONNAY 2015 - Limarí Valley, Chile (#342857) (XD) - $19.95  89 pts  reviewed here
  • FRITZ WILLI FRIEDRICH-WILHELM-GYMNASIUM RIESLING FEINHERB 2015 - Qualitätswein, Mosel, Germany (#523894) (M) - $20.95  89 pts  reviewed here
  • STONELEIGH LATITUDE SAUVIGNON BLANC 2017 - Marlborough, South Island, New Zealand (#324228) (XD) - $21.95  89+ pts  reviewed here
Concha y Toro Marqués de Casa Concha Chardonnay 2015 (89 pts)Stoneleigh Latitude Sauvignon Blanc 2017 (89+ pts)

  • BACHELDER OREGON CHARDONNAY 2014 - Willamette Valley, Oregon, USA (#273334) (XD) - $24.95  90+ pts  reviewed here
  • CHARLES BAKER PICONE VINEYARD RIESLING 2014 - VQA Vinemount Ridge, Niagara Escarpment, Ontario, Canada (#241182) (M) - $35.20
  • HENRI DE VILLAMONT MONTAGNY 1ER CRU 2014 - AC, Burgundy, France (#522151) (XD) - $40.95  91 pts  reviewed here
  • ANTINORI CASTELLO DELLA SALA CERVARO DELLA SALA 2015 - IGT Umbria, Italy (#512376) (XD) - $59.95
  • GRGICH HILLS ESTATE CHARDONNAY 2013 - Napa Valley, California, USA (#346304) (XD) - $67.95  92 pts  reviewed here
  • KISTLER SONOMA MOUNTAIN CHARDONNAY 2015 - Sonoma Mountain, Sonoma County, California, USA (#183921) (XD) - $107.95

Sparkling Wine:

  • DESIDERIUS PONGRÁCZ BRUT CAP CLASSIQUE SPARKLING CHARDONNAY/PINOT NOIR - Traditional method, WO Western Cape, South Africa (#404111) (XD) - $16.95
  • HENRY OF PELHAM CUVÉE CATHARINE CARTE BLANCHE ESTATE BLANC DE BLANC 2012 - Traditional method, VQA Short Hills Bench, Niagara Escarpment, Ontario, Canada (#315200) (XD) - $44.95  91pts  reviewed here
  • DRAPPIER MILLÉSIME EXCEPTION CHAMPAGNE 2012 - AC, France (#513895) (XD) - $74.95
  • MOËT & CHANDON GRAND VINTAGE BRUT ROSÉ CHAMPAGNE 2008 - AC, France (#069831) (XD) - $98.95


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