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You tell me...is it too early to start your festive shopping? The 23 November LCBO Vintages release features “Our Finest, Holiday Gifting and Premium Spirits” which just put me in the mood to start picking up a few gifts for Christmas. Since most people I buy for imbibe, it makes my holiday shopping almost one-stop.
While there is no one on my list that will be receiving the Glenfiddich Gran Reserva 21 Years Old Highland Single Malt at $241.95, it would sure make a great splurge for a lover of single malts. I also did not realize that Spain produces a wine called Alion 2009, DO Ribera del Douro with a dear price tag of $84.95.
Although, I may splurge in a bottle of Ladies Who Shoot Their Lunch Shiraz 2010 (Vintages # 243592, $35.95). I remember featuring this wine at a Savvy Event a couple of years ago and folks literally swarmed my booth for a sample of this nectar or after having tasted it, and then returned for more. In this release, there is also another incredible Aussie red wine from Barossa, called The Holy Trinity by Grant Burge (Vintages# 236257, $29.95). With one sip, my taste buds really did think they had died and gone to heaven!
There are many lovely wines in this release. Just remember when you are shopping for others, it does not hurt to pick up something wonderful for yourself as well. You deserve it!
VQA Okanagan Valley, British Columbia
$24.95 (Vintages #904185) 12.9% alcohol
I was first introduced to Tinhorn wines when Susan - another Savvy Sommelier - asked me to split a case of some Tinhorn Creek red wines with her. I jumped at the opportunity knowing her expertise for wines in the Okanagan Valley. And the red wine certainly did not disappoint. I was excited to see this Gewurztraminer white wine and hope more BC wines will make their way to Ontario. Lovely aromas of white blossoms and lychee, some tropical fruit flavours on the palate, a little mango and lime and just cries for a spicy shrimp curry with jasmine rice. That sounds like a dinner party.
VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario
$16.95 (Vintages # 80234) 10% alcohol
Crisp, fresh and delightful are the descriptors that come to mind when tasting this delicious Riesling. Mind you, I don’t think there are any Featherstone wines I don’t like. This white wine has lots of flint and wet stone - typical of Niagara area Rieslings - combined with yellow and green apple flavours, not typical in many Rieslings. It is a delicious afternoon sipper or a great appertif as it could accompany almost any hors’d’oeuvres...stock up for the holidays!
$17.95 (Vintages #640854) 14.5 % alcohol
There’s nothing like those dark inky Malbecs in the heart of winter. In this red wine are aromas of blueberries and spice, lots of black currants on the palate and a little cassis. It has loads of flavour and a tight structure, nice firm tannins but juicy and a peppery, ripe berry aftertaste. I liked it just on its own or can imagine that it would pair nicely with any grilled meat; even with chocolate or a piece of Christmas cake. Practically takes you through two courses. Argentina be proud with this outstanding red wine!
Casablanca Valley, Chile
$14.95 (Vintages #354340) 14% alcohol
While some folks look at me in horror when I say that it has taken me awhile to cuddle up to Pinot Noir’s, lately, I have discovered some good ones. This light cherry coloured, medium bodied red wine is is quite lovely and smooth. It has smooth mouth coating red fruit flavours with a touch of smoke, a little forest floor pepper and earthiness in the after taste. At 14.95, it is an incredible price point. Serve with mushroom lasagne...and please put my name on the dinner invitation!
AC Languedoc La Clape, France
$20.95 (Vintages #286492) 14.5% alcohol
How can you go wrong with a blend of 55% Mourvèdre, 35% Syrah and 10% Grenache Noir. These classic grape varietals are used extensively in the Rhone Valley in southern France to make big bold red wines. Rich and heady with leather and smoke aromas this is a red wine combined with dense dark fruit on the palate. Baked fruit pie, stewed plums and Christmas cake spices that linger long after the last swallow. This is one of our all-time favorite blends with a beef stew or lamb shanks.
Grand Total: $95.75
Looking to economize while drinking great wines? Entertaining season is just around the corner so I am game for the challenge to see how far we can stretch my $100 budget that I have been 'given' to do this blog. This weekend's LCBO Vintages release features wines of “Premium Star Quality” along with an assortment of dessert wines. While we all tend to know what premium star quality means, I am on the mission to find wines of star quality that won't break my budget with their price tag.
So what did I pick?
With the exception of two wines, I have chosen wines under $15 a bottle. I have also put together a selection that can easily take you through many dinner parties from appetizers through to dessert, without breaking the bank.
I did not have the opportunity to taste two wines I am recommending - sound strange? Don't worry I taste wines for a living! I am confident that knowing the wineries that they produce only quality wine. And from previous wines that I have reviewed from these wineries, they have never disappointed. There are also a couple of wines from Italy that never fail to inspire and match any number of food dishes.
I also wanted to tip you off a couple of the wines found in the LCBO's general list area of the store that are under $15 & somehow always find their way into my shopping basket:
All that to say, you can have lots of star quality with $100 to spend.
$14.95 (Vintages #265397) 13% alcohol
With a slight touch of sweetness, this off dry white wine is always festive, pretty and a lovely start to any party. It is nice to start with something spritzy especially if the rest of your dinner wines are packed with punch and/or you are serving wines with different courses. It has aromas and tastes of stone fruits: peaches, apricots, pears with delicate moussey bubbles that could accompany shrimp canapes or parmesan crisps.
VQA Niagara Peninsula
$16.95 (Vintages #359315) 11.5% alcohol
Golden straw in colour, this delightful white wine blend of Chardonnay, Riesling and Gewurtztraminer is aromatic and tastes of all these grapes. The Chardonnay has some creaminess being aged in oak but there’s lots of stone fruit and apples from the other grape varietals. Great acidity and is beautifully balanced; just another example that we never have to look further than our own backyard. It would be perfect to sip with an uncomplicated boston lettuce salad with a soft olive oil, a little artisan bread or a spicey soup to start your evening.
IGT Vigneti della Dolomiti, Italy
$14.95 (Vintages #354340) 12.5% alcohol
A fabulous red wine blend made with the Teroldego, Lagrein and Merlot grapes from the foothills of Italy’s Dolomite Alps. Dark plums and cherries fill the palate and being aged in oak, the wine has a richness to the taste with great tannins and a spicey finish. A great pizza or pasta wine or with some cheese.
$13.95 (Vintages #68452) 14% alcohol
The Mendoza province is by far the largest wine region in western Argentina located on a high-altitude plateau at the edge of the Andes Mountains. The altitude is an important terroir characteristic since it means long sunny warm days that extend the growing season and contribute to ripe, rich grapes that do not sacrifice the acidity. This dark cherry coloured baby is one red wine packed with punch. This red wine would make a fabulous partner with roast pork or a spicy sausage and eggplant pasta dish.
Colchagua Valley, Banfi, Chile
$14.95 (Vintages #56887) 14.1% alcohol
For us red wine lovers, you can’t go far wrong with a blend of Carmenere, Syrah, Cabernet Franc and Merlot. Juicy and full, dark fruits, some spice, smokey and peppery all conjure up pictures of the beautiful Colchagua Valley (on my travel list !). I’m thinking ribs or beef stew.
$19.95 9Vintages #359216) 13.5% alcohol
When presenting this finale to your dinner party you might want to mention that this late harvest wine was awarded a Gold Medal at the 2013 Ontario Wine Awards. There is citrus and apricot flavours with a creamy sweetness; you just want to roll it around your tongue to make it last. Serve with cheese, chocolates & fresh fruit for a beautiful ending of a feast.
Grand Total: $95.70
Get out your Ghoul...let the Trick or Treaters entice you into a little Black Magic this year with some great Ontario wines from Coffin Ridge Boutique Winery. Just when I thought I knew or had heard of most Ontario wineries, I discovered a new one! Coffin Ridge is located in cottage country between Owen Sound and Meaford. In 1999, the grapes were planted on a parcel of land called Coffin Hill and it is considered as Grey County’s first commercial vineyard.
My cousin rents a cottage nearby and recently brought me back 4, yes FOUR Coffins...bottles of their wines that is. I would love a dress in the colour of their rosé ! A glistening orangey cranberry, my husband and I decided it was a colour unto its own. We were initially teased with aromas of sweet canteloupe and melon, baked pear and apples, almost streusel-like but upon tasting, the wine is bone dry with mouthwatering flavours of cranberry and rhubarb. It has zippy acidity and a fruity, raspberry finish. It is one of the loveliest rosés I have tasted all summer and we try many rosés.
What's in a 'horror'ific name?
I would be remiss not to mention the play on words of the Coffin Ridge wine labels. Names like “Back from the Dead Red”, “Black Magic”, “Riesling Bone Dry” plus “Resurrection Rosé” that was born 2010 (11.7% alcohol $17.80) all connotate a Halloween theme. I was also informed that the wine boxes are shaped like a coffin. The crafting of these grapes from the vineyard into the bottle also points to the “life after death” theme with every sip. Love this!
We enjoyed the bottle of Rosé wine with a plate of Raincoast cranberry & sunflower crackers along with a mild cheddar - it was one divine snack. Like every small vineyard, on account of the limited quanity, a very few of these wines can be purchased at the LCBO, so if you happen to be in that vicinity, it is definitely worth the journey. Big thanks to my cousin, Carrie.
May you have a spooooooooky Halloween this year...and sip a glass of Back from the Dead Red.
This weekend you are in for a treat. The LCBO Vintages release of October 26 is exceptional! It is time to stash a few bottles of the latest Bordeaux wines away for either a short or long time if you are into cellaring wine. Every fall, Vintages offers the Classic Collection of Bordeaux wines. The wine industry is abuzz that the 2010 Bordeaux vintage will be the best one in living history. The pages of this elegant catalogue has grand French chateaux showcasing their 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Grand Crus (winespeak: high end wines). Most of these wines are well over $100 - which makes it out of my 'If I only had $100' blog budget, but it’s sure is interesting to read about them & imagine what the wines are like now and after a few years in a wine cellar.
Oregon - the Bordeaux of the Pacific Northwest
The supporting actor in this weekend's feature are wines from Oregon. I confess Oregon was not on my travel agenda until I tasted some of these wines. Oregon is known for its erratic weather patterns often drenched with over 40 inches of rain in a year so the winemakers deserve extra kudos when showcasing some of their vintages. I discovered refined and delicious Merlots, a Cabernet Sauvignon, even a Pinot Noir caught my attention.
So this blog was a tough one to keep within my $100 budget. Here are my wine finds that should find the way into your shopping cart. If you only pick up one bottle, I hope that you would grab a bottle of our Canadian ice cider.
AC Médoc (Jean-Michel Lapalu)
$18.95 (Vintages #199091) 13.5% alcohol
Glorious bouquet of toasty rich dark fruits that carry through on the palate. Medium to full-bodied red wine with creamy texture, intense berries complimented by firm tannins with a little vanilla spice on the aftertaste. It has texture and strength and could probably lay down for a few years. It would be lovely with a pot roast surrounded by root vegetables on a winter’s night.
$17.95 (Vintages #155812) 13% alcohol
Pale golden in colour, with yellow apple and citrusy aromas, this white wine is bone dry with flavours of lemon zest and citrus on the palate that make it a little tart. There’s some minerality making it fresh and zippy. Light-bodied in weight makes it a fabulous appertif or it is food friendly to any number of white meat or fish dishes. Served with some chicken stuffed with tarragon and goat’s cheese would be a match made in heaven.
Columbia Valley, Oregon, U.S.A.
$15.95 (Vintages #263418) 14.5 % alcohol
This red wine is an extravagant Merlot with heady aromas of violets and blackberries. Smooth and earthy on the palate, lots of luscious black fruit, velvety smooth with soft tannins. There’s a little lavender, peppery finish that makes it interesting. It is an expressive Merlot, certainly not run of the mill, and a fabulous price point.
WO Stellenbosch, Single Vineyard, South Africa
$20.95 (Vintages #337642) 14% alcohol
How could I not love a wine with the same name as my cat “Journey”? But before you dismiss me with a “guffaw”, I must point out that this red wine was a Gold Medal winner at the 2013 Sommelier Wine Awards. Smooth as silk on the mouth, excellent replays of blackberry fruit, and peppery. It’s full bodied with a long grippy, berry finish and strong enough that it could cellar quite nicely for a few years. I love lamb chops, so bring them out with some garlic and rosemary marinade.
$24.95 (Vintages #39305) 11% alcohol
Inspired by similar techniques used to make ice wine, this ice cider or apple ice wine is born in extreme cold winter temperatures in Quebec. This past September, we happened to pick up a bottle of this ice cider in Quebec City knowing it would be a lovely finish to our Thanksgiving supper. (Our company thought so too). Juicy and Canadian, crisp and sweet green and yellow apples! I don’t know how else to describe this luscious ice cider drink. It is smooth & creamy, your taste buds squirt saliva with the acidity, but sweet apple prevails on the palate. There has been no sugar or alcohol added. It is a perfect after dinner drink and with a piece of blue cheese or stilton - oh my!
Grand Total: $ 98.75
Around about two years ago, my husband Doug & I celebrated - we are both Savvy Sommeliers - our anniversary in Napa Valley in California. You can imagine how excited I was when I saw that the LCBO Vintages release for October 13 features wines from Napa - it couldn't have been timed better! What caught my attention when reading the various reviews of the featured Napa wines, were the recurring wine critics comments about the region's slope of the vineyards and climate.
The hilly ups & downs of growing grapes in Napa Valley
The Napa valley is a relatively small wine region but has huge temperature variables. This is on account of the San Pablo Bay and valleys that run east-west forming wind tunnels for wind and fog drawn in off the Pacific. The mountains also block cold winds and shield the grapes so that they can ripen. Winegrowers prefer north-facing slopes so the ripening process is slowed and lengthened and the grapes do not get sunburned. Not surprisingly, wines will be strikingly different from grapes grown at 2500 feet from those grown at 500 feet. Winegrowers have to cope with 3 different climates in the valley - might this challenge alone affects the steep prices of Napa wines?
Micro-climates of Burgundy & Piedmont
Moving away from California, this release features wines from Burgundy (France) and Piedmont (Italy), wine regions considered to have micro-climates. Similar to California, viticulturists (winespeak: grape growers) plant vines on southern facing hilly slopes to increase the vigour in growth for leaves & shoots. Leaves are critical for creating sugar in the grapes and also provide a canopy from the intense sun. Two of Italy’s most renowned wines - Barolo & Barbaresco - come from Piedmont and one wine in this release for the big splurge is the Pertinace Nervo Barbaresco 2009 at $39.95 (Vintages# 344705). This wine comes from the village of Treiso which has the highest vineyard sites in Barbaresco and the altitude has given the region the reputation of creating finessed Barbaresco.
With Thanksgiving feasts this weekend, I have purposely selected wines that I think would be fabulous to serve with turkey or glazed ham. These wines will be in my shopping basket & will be enjoyed at our Thanksgiving table.
Cheers & Happy Thanksgiving to you & your family!
Napa, California, U.S.A.
$27.95 (Vintages # 988840) 13.7% alcohol
These grapes are grown in a vineyard set on benchland off the valley floor located along the unspoiled Silverado Trail. The hills have southwestern exposure to allow the grapes to bask in abundant sunlight. I am back in love with Chardonnay, time for a change from all the Rosés and Sauvignon Blancs that I have been sipping all summer. This white wine is pale golden in colour with aromas of baked pears and nuts. For those who like to match buttery spuds and gravy on turkey breast with a full bodied white wine, this Chardonnay is meant for you. Rich, delicious and creamy with tropical fruit flavours and faint vanilla sweet spice on the finish. A fresh, elegant Chardonnay for any occasion.
DO, Spain, Méthode Champenoise
$19.95 (Vintages # 352856) 11.5% alcohol
A big broad citrusy nose that bursts of bubbles, and teases the palate. This sparkling wine is so fresh and will make a wonderful appertif before the big bird! Tastes of green apples and lemons, white grapefruit with a hint of minerality and stone. Very refreshing, and could easily take you from appertif through to pumpkin pie.
VQA Beamsville Bench, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario
$13.95 (Vintages #160523) 12% alcohol
A glimmery pale coloured white wine to serve with appetizers or to complement a Thanksgiving table. I think all Angel’s Gate wines are heavenly! Aromas and flavours are slightly floral, minerally, soft and slightly spritzy. Slightly off-dry, but more of the latter, with nice stone fruit tastes. A classic Niagara Riesling white wine that makes a perfect appertif, or afternoon sipper.
$16.95 (Vintages#344697) 13.5 % alcohol
Of all the wines in this release, I am most especially excited about this red wine. I would never think of Germany as Pinot Noir country, nor does this tend to be my go to grape, however I wanted a red wine for our Thanksgiving dinner and this Pinot Noir will be perfect. A lovely light cherry red in colour with aromas of dark toast and raspberry. Plenty of red berry fruit and they don’t put “SILK” in the name of this wine for show. It is silky smooth and mellow with slightly grippy tannins but easy sipping. I think I will throw a few dried mushrooms in my turkey stuffing to enhance this match. This is a very pretty Pinot at this amazing price.
$19.95 (Vintages 330027) 13% alcohol
The Beaujolais region is located in east central France and although qiute distinct is considered a part of Burgundy. This Beaujolais is red raspberry in colour, medium weight flavours of red berries, pinch floral, light cassis, a little tart with just enough acidity to cut through rich foods. This light to medium bodied red wine has some spicey depth with personality and an excellent choice for the folks out there who prefer red wine with their Thanksgiving feast. There is a certain delicacy but this red wine is smooth, refined and refreshingly long.
Grand Total: $ 98.75
The latest LCBO Vintages release offers some great 90 point wines, many under $30.00. Who really decides whether a wine 'makes the grade' or not? For this "If I had a $100, I would buy' blog, I purposely chose to write on wines that captured 90 points from a panel of experienced wine judges.
Wine scores baffle me. Hardly fair that some wine critics can make or break the sale of a wine and we rarely are there any reviews about ho-hum wines. Thankfully, we all have different tastes and there are no right or wrongs in what you chose to enjoy. It would be a major yawn if we all sought the same style of wine or picked from only one wine region.
During my years of wine tasting I learned to know what makes a well-balanced wine, but sometimes I enjoy a big blast of dark red fruit on my palate without many tannins or a white wine that squirts acidity to wake up my senses. So much depends on the time of day, type of food, certainly the company and just what you feel like tasting.
BTW - if your budget permits, there are several new French champagnes at Vintages that were served at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), but drats - I have a budget of $100 and I'm going to stick to it.
Remember, there are no rights or wrongs in tasting wine - enjoy and succumb!
Cheers & Enjoy!
$24.95 (Vintages #24737) 14.5% alcohol
Deep inky purple in colour with origins in France, but now Argentina’s signature grape. This red wine has lots of guts ! Once you get past the aromas of some floral earthy mustiness and leather you are besot with dark velvety fruit plums on the palate with a little spice and cocoa on the finish. Round but not too tannicy. I found the wine to be deliciously intoxicating, smooth and rich. Argentinians are known for their grilled meat so I would suggest spicey sausages, blackened chicken, a tomato salad and some crusty bread to make a fabulous rustic dinner. When I put two “yums” after my tasting notes, I know to put at least one bottle in my basket.
VQA Beamsville Bench, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario
$29.95 (Vintages #566026) 11.5% alcohol
Cave Springs may be best known for its signature Riesling and while it may seem like a lot to pay, it’s worth every cent. Cave Springs winemaker, Angelo Pavan, crafts cool-climate wines in the European tradition of Alsace which results in top quality wine expressing minerality and great acidity. This Riesling is one of my all time favourites tasting what the very best of Niagara has to offer. Slightly minerally and a tad off-dry, this nectar has beautiful stone fruit flavours: apricots, peaches, some green apple and grapefruit with a wet stone long crisp finish. It is elegant and refined. If the Queen invited me for dinner, I would proudly this wine!
Russian River Valley, Sonoma County, U.S.A.
$19.95 (Vintages # 544981) 14.2% alcohol
Rich golden in colour, aromas cross between creme caramel, butterscotch pudding and buttered toast. Not sure you’d like a white wine that has aromas of the above? It's easy to understand where these flavours come from with grapes grown in the Russian River and fermented in oak barrels, hints of poached pears, ripe pineapple which make this Chardonnay rich and creamy. It is a white wine that would stand up to steak or would make the perfect accompaniment to a lobster salad at lunch and not just for the ladies who lunch!
Victoria Region, Australia
$17.95 (Vintages 719575) 14% alcohol
Aromatic fragrances of rich red and dark berry fruits which give this red wine such a dense colour. It is loaded with flavours, brimming with dark fruit, but more medium bodied on the palate. The black currant, dusty leather and soft tannins would marry perfectly with some lamb chops or it would be nice just on its own. It has the long berry spicy finish found in a well made Aussie Shiraz. A class act at that price point.
Grand Total: $ 92.80
This weekend's LCBO Vintages release offers some great red Italian wines for barbeque grilling, as well as some Aussie selections that will match kebobs any night of the week. There is also a varied assortment of Pinot Noir’s that are worth putting into your shopping cart. One from British Columbia that impressed me is Quail’s Gate Winery (featured below). And if you would like to splurge, the Elk Cove Vineyards Pinot Noir ($37.95, Vintages # 234534) is worth every penny!
This week's wine lingo lesson...
Ever wonder what DOC or DOCG means on the label of some Italian wines? This is the equivalent of the French AOC, Appellation d’Origine Controlee which means the wines must be made from certain government zones intended to preserve the wine’s character from a specific region. DOC stands for “Denominazione di Origine Controllata” or controlled designation of origin while DOCG stands for “Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita” meaning controlled designation of origin guaranteed. The latter classification is the highest quality recognition for Italian wines.
So here are 5 great wines to help you choose what meat or veggies to grill....or vice versa!
Cheers & Enjoy!
PS - Send me along your favorite wines from this release as there are so many great wines...and so little time!
Okanagan Valley, British Columbia
$26.95 (Vintages #585760) 14% alcohol
Travel tip: A few years ago my husband and I visited the Quail’s Gate Winery. If the Okanagan Valley is in your travel plans anytime soon, I would highly recommend stopping in for lunch or dinner at this breathtakingly beautiful winery. Pinot Noir is without a doubt their flagship product (and for white wines my pick is their Chenin Blanc). 2011 was a fantastic cool climate year on the Mount Boucherie Bench where the grapes are grown & the winery is located. Rich and bright red fruit flavours open up on the palate into a dusty, smooth, earthy yet velvety texture of sour cherries, a pinch of spice and fine tannins on the finish. Elegant and refined. I noticed on the winery’s dinner menu that they suggested pairing this wine with a game Cornish hen. Oh yum !
$15.95 (Vintages #732222) 13% alcohol
A perfect summer red ! You can practically smell the hand-picked grapes full of ripe aromas of delicious red and black berries, coming from Piana Rotaliana, the northeastern region of Italy. Medium-bodied with wafts of strawberry and raspberry, great acidity but lots of fruit flavour, a little spice and green tomato on the finish. Would pair beautifully with grilled vegetables, risotto, cold pasta salads. A wine that you would swear was more than $16!
VQA Niagara Lakeshore, Ontario
$18.00 (Vintages # 352344) 13.5% alcohol
Another great Niagara sipper - this white wine was so refreshing! I found this quite fruity for a Sauvignon Blanc. Aromas of ripe pineapple, a tad off-dry in taste, grassy but with great acidity and lots of mouth coating ripe melon flavours on the palate. Very clean-tasting with a little herbeousness on the finish. You could pair this with all the usual grilled chicken culprits or light kebobs that are a great match with Sauvignon Blanc, but it’s so flavourful that some soft mild or briney cheese (Brie and Goat’s cheese) and raincoast crackers would be a perfect start (or finish) to a dinner party.
$15.95 (Vintages #343053) 13.5% alcohol
A great white wine to take to the a cottage or have at the beach! The aromas remind me of summer with wild flower and daisy fragrance; the freshness of lemon and citrus on the palate is also reminiscent of the Italian riviera. As soon as I tasted it, I was thinking of crispy prawns or grilled calamari, crusty bread and a green salad. This bright tasting white wine is bone dry and belongs to a fabulous summer’s day but if you don’t happen to have a cottage or beach close-by, just chill it and enjoy with a few nibbles and a great book to read.
$19.95 (Vintages #220038) 14.5% alcohol
My neighbours recently returned from the USA and brought us a bottle of the Ernie Els, “Proprietor’s Blend” which was a fabulous choice with our BBQed T-bone steaks and twice baked potatoes. I happened to look up the Ernie Els winery website which looks as classy as the wine.
The “Big Easy” available at the LCBO is a no-fail red wine blend of Syrah, Grenahc, Cinsault, Mourvedre and Viognier with a splash of Cabernet Sauvignon. This blend is an “easy” sell; aromas and flavours of deep dark fruit, plums, wild and sweet blueberries, a little brambly with an earthy, slightly herbaceous finish. It’s a pretty “easy” wine that could match several grilled lamb or steak kebobs since it’s not too heavy. Also, an extremely handsome sipper on its own. One is going in my basket for sure, thanks to my neighbours for the introduction!
Grand Total: $ 96.80 - I saved you a few dollars this week!
Grilling season is in full swing so pick up these great wines from around the world for your outdoor cooking and try these fine, fresh French whites featured in the August 3 LCBO Vintages Release.
We say Syrah and you say Shiraz...depending on where you live that is. There were many great Syrah’s and when I think Syrah - I think lamb: burgers, ribs, chops. Syrah wine is a native of the Rhone Valley in southeastern France where there are 13 separate varieties of the grape allowed. It is better known in Australia as Shiraz and carries slightly different characteristics than the French Syrah on account of the climate. Shiraz grapes are largely grown in Australia and all other Shiraz grapes grown outside the country are known as Syrah grapes. Syrah wines feature more leathery characteristics while Shiraz tends to be peppery. Tastings with these two wines side by side are always fun and educational, but all to say, it’s all good !
I hope you find and enjoy some August releases,
Cheers & Enjoy!
Langhorne Creek, South Australia
$16.95 (Vintages #72975) 14% alcohol
A deep purple, aromas of gorgeous dark fruit, mouthcoating and full bodied with layers of plums and black currant, blueberry flavours and a touch of sweet spice on the long finish.
Bone dry, grippy tannins and it would be fabulous with a rack of lamb.
Claude & Jean-Louis Chevallier, Prop.-Recolt. France
$19.95 (Vintages #112227) 12.5% alcohol
For a fresh French white - this is it! Pale golden and shimmery, the nose highlights white grapefruit and wet stone. Oh so fresh on the palate reminiscent of baked yellow apples and tart Granny Smiths resulting in magnificent acidity that just squirts saliva at the back of the mouth. It is bone dry and clean tasting and makes for a great food wine or just on its own.
WO Swartland, South Africa
$13.95 (Vintages #269076) 14 % alcohol
Pinotage is a cross between the Pinot Noir and Cinsault grapes that was first planted in South Africa and like other varietals can be stylized according to the winemaker. This Pinotage is deep ruby red, almost opaque and has great depth of flavour. Lots of deep berry fruit, a little earthy reminiscent of many Pinot Noir wines and a little brambely on the palate. Full bodied and satisfying, at this price point, a couple are on my shopping list. It would be fabulous with beef kebobs or a grilled hamburger.
VQA Niagara Peninsula
$14.95 (Vintages #210062) 12.6% alcohol
Calamas wines rarely disappoint and this one is no exception. The name Calamus is a Latin word meaning arrow. When the property was being developed fragments of local rock were found that had been used by First Nation inhabitants and used to fashion arrowheads, hence the name. With floral and pineapple aromas, I could hardly wait to taste it and flavours of baked pears and ripe peaches coat the palate. There is tons of fruit and depth with a bit citrus on the finish - delightful and fresh.
AC Côtes du Rhone, France
$19.95 (Vintages #234013) 14.5% alcohol
You can never go too far astray with a bend of Grenache, Mourvèdre and Syrah. Smooth, rich and silky on the palate, this blend of dark fruit and plum flavours is full bodied and bone dry.
Hints of black currants and a pinch of liquorice on the finish, it’s a real class act. A great time to pick up a couple of bottles for a prime rib in a few months time ?
VQA Niagara Peninsula
$14.95 (Vintages#227025) 13%
I like all Kacaba wines and the Rebecca Rośe is a perfect summer wine. A beautiful glistening cranberry colour with a little vegetal on the nose and palate. It has lots of red currant flavours, a little rhubarb and a little pith of pink grapefruit on the finish. It’s a rosé with bones to it. It would be great with just about any summer food or just to enjoy a glass on the patio.
Grand Total: $ 100.70
Who does not love the dog days of summer? Flowers are in full bloom, berries and vegetables crowd the market stalls, people are barbequing and in spite of the wet weather, those little grapes of ours are slowly making their way to fruition.
So it is not surprising that the LCBO Vintages release for July 20 focuses on BBQ and Cool Climate Chardonnay wines. I remember a time when Chardonnay wines used to be heavy and oaky which probably gave some weight to the ABC (Anything But Chardonnay) era. Now, there is so much variety in winemaking techniques that Chardonnay has been given a makeover.
In 2011, approximately twenty nine Ontario wineries started the International Cool Climate Chardonnay Association that has done much to return the Chardonnay grape to dignity. While the grape origins may be in Burgundy, France, it has flourished in the cooler climate Ontario soil that offers minerality and difference to the grape. It is still the most popular varietal for people to drink and the only difficulty this release presents, is finding the Chardonnay style that is right for you.
This weekend in time with the Vintages release Chardonnay feature, Niagara is hosting the International Cool Climate Chardonnay Celebration (follow #i4C2013 on Twitter or @coolchardonnay for all of the buzz!) again this year and it is bigger than ever with a Grand Tasting event outdoors, lunches at wineries, intimate winemakers dinners in the vineyards, educational seminars - everything to showcase the best Chardonnays in the world as they come together in Niagara. Worthy of a roadtrip!
I hope you will join me in picking up a few of my top Chardonnay picks at Vintages and don’t be afraid to pair it with a hamburger or grilled steak. You will find out how very “cool” Chardonnay can be.
Cheers & Enjoy!
VQA Beamsville Bench, Niagara Peninsula
$18.95 (Vintages #116384) 13.5% alcohol
Some wines are just so good, I want to enjoy them on their own and not have to worry about pairing them with food. I’m sure most Europreans would disagree with me, however. A pale golden coloured medium bodied Chard. with aromas and tastes of stone, pineapple, lemon zest and green apple. It’s fresh, medium bodied and makes for a lovely afternoon sipper. It’s lip-smacking delicious on its own or with salad for a light lunch or white fish at supper.
VQA Niagara Peninsula
$16.95 (Vintages #640516) 13.5% alcohol
This fresh chardonnay has lots of citrusy expression with aromas of white blossoms and stone; a tad mininerally which is typical of the Chardonnay Musqué clone. This undermining of minerality gives it a fresh and light taste with apricot, grapefruit and green apple on the palate and aftertaste. Another great sipper for mid-afternoon and would match grilled chicken and lighter fare.
DOP, Varvaglione Vigne & Vini, Italy
$19.95 (Vintages# 261784) 14% alcohol
This wine was a Gold Medal 2012 Mundus Vini winner. Made from the Prinitivo grape in the Puglia region of Italy, also known as Zinfandel in North America. It is no wonder that 115 bottles of the 2008 vintage of this wine was purchased by the Vatican following the election of Pope Francis in 2013. Rich ruby red in colour, almost opaque with aromas and tastes of dark berry pie and a little leather. Full bodied, chewy and smooth with a little sweet spice dancing around the palate; medium tannins leaving a velvety and persisting finish. A handsome and elegant wine to serve with any roasts or tenderloin.
$17.95 (Vintages #140715) 13.9% alcohol
Deep dark ripe berries aromas combined with classic pencil shavings waft from the nose of the glass with this Cab. Sauv. An assortment of ripe fruit swirl on the tongue plus, chocolate and mocha flavours, combined with a pinch of sweet spice. It is heady and full bodied layered with flavour and lovely soft tannins. It’s a real “show-stopper” with a long cherry finish. Would be just fabulous with any grilled meats or ribs in a heavy duty barbeque sauce. Full bodied and well concentrated; stands on its own.
$11.95 375 ml (Vintages #250001) 13.5% alcohol
A perfect size for an afternoon picnic! A medium-bodied Merlot, brimming with aromas of blueberries, violets, dark currants and plums that follow through on the palate. Lovely and smooth, an easy sipper with paté or cheese for a delectable mid afternoon snack under the willow tree.
Niagara Peninsula, Ontario
$14.95 (Vintages# 346767) 12% alcohol
This honey wine also known as InforMead is made from the fermention of honey and water. Honey is flower nectar collected by domesticated honeybees and contains a complex mixture of sugars, enzymes, proteins, organic compounds and trace minerals. These compounds give honey its distinctive flavor and aromas. The wine is light bodied, almost colourless and not at all sweet as one might expect from a honey wine. I detected aromas of beeswax, almost like candles and white blossoms, with tastes of mild yellow baked apple or pear with a delicate aftertaste of those fruits. It could easily be paired with something very spicey, or sushi or even with strawberries for an interesting desert. It is a real conversation piece at a great price point and well worth the pick up.
Grand Total: $100.70 - ooops...I was over by 70 pennies!
In most parts of the world, the second Sunday in May is celebrated as an opportunity to express joy and gratitude to our Mothers. So it is timely that the May 7 release at the LCBO Vintages will WOW some mothers out there. While flowers, chocolates and cards are popular gifts to symbolize one’s love and appreciation; I can’t imagine anything nicer than sharing a lovely bottle of wine with my Mom.
There are many new Rosés in this release and considering that I am the 'Rosé Queen', I‘d like to take more than 3 home. Like sparkling wine, Rosé makes a fabulous appertif and a great sipper on its own. Many are at a popular price point (under $17) so you might want to try a couple of different bottles to see which one could become a spring-summer favourite. Tawse Winery Rosé, a perennial favourite, is also back on the shelf, but I want to expand my Rosé palate.
In this release there is also a fantastic array of Australian reds. One wine I wrote about last year when it made its debut, “Ladies Who Shoot their Lunch Shiraz 2010”, now returns with a Gold Medal from the 2013 Sydney International Wine Competition on its label. At $35.95 it is truly worth the splurge for this big bold beauty. The label itself of a woman with a hunting rifle and her dog is a great conversation piece. The wine is polished and memorable.
Finally, for those of you who like Chardonnay, this is your time to shine. It was difficult to not fill my shopping list with ONLY Chards. For my $100 budget, it is still the number one best selling grape and whether you like a big buttery taste or a unoaked one, this release offers something for everyone.
Enjoy, cheers...and Happy Mother's Day!
AC, Méthode Traditionnelle du Val de Loire, France
$18.95 (Vintaages #319954) 12.5% alcohol
Hands down, my #1 pick! An elegant slightly pale pink tinge to this bubbly wine, it is sure to impress. Beautiful mousse (winespeak: fine bubbles) delicious creamy texture with tastes of apricots, peaches, orchard fruit, bone dry with a long fruity finish. It is an absolute beauty to have for a luncheon or before dinner or just on its own. Although I frequently write and rave about sparkling wine, this one was over the top and is on my agenda to pick up a couple of bottles. I would pair this with just about anything - sheer yum.
VQA Lincoln Lakeshore, Niagara Peninsula
$17.95 (Vintages #329409) 12.5 % alcohol
This is the first Chardonnay I have sampled from the Lincoln Lakeshore area and for the price point, it is fantastic - so much going on from the intial sip. First, it’s fresh; dry and because it is unoaked there is no butter taste or cloying mouthfeel. Lots of tree fruit, green apples, peaches with an underlining seam of minerality that one often associates with a Niagara Riesling. Very mouthcoating and medium bodied with a delectable fruit finish. This Chard would be great with summer salads and grilled chicken or fish. It’s a very versatile food wine.
VQA Niagara Peninsula
$14.95 (Vintages #275834) 12.5% alcohol
A beautiful pale pink colour with aromas of fresh spring air and raspberries. It is light-bodied, slightly off-dry with vibrant strawberry flavours; clean crisp acidity that coat the palate with just a hint of rhubarb. For some reason, this rosé reminded me of the red fruit pies that come from the bakery located next to the winery, but I know that is my vivid imagination and there could not possibly be any connection, or could there?
Barossa, South Australia
$22.95 (Vintages #311365) 14.5% alcohol
A deep purple, aromas of gorgeous dark fruit, mouth-coating and full bodied with layers of plums and black currant, blueberry flavours and a touch of sweet spice on the long finish.
Bone dry, soft tannins but how sweet it is! With a rack of lamb, this would be fabulous.
La Consulta, Mendoza, Argentina
$13.95 (Vintages#322842) 13.5%
Don’t let the price fool you; this is a great new wine at Vintages. Soft white in colour, very aromatic floral notes with an energetic and fresh lemony taste. It has lots of zingy acidity but it’s not over the top and offers a fairly hefty weight for a fruity crisp wine with a mouth-watering finish. It would be great with any seafood or salad, or just sitting on your patio.
Grand Total: $ 88.75
I have enough for a bottle of one of my favourite general list products, Cono Sur Viognier from Chile $9.95 - one of the best kept secrets in the LCBO. And I still have a toonie left over!