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Italy's Tuscany wine region is the main attraction in this weekend's LCBO Vintages release (beginning on Sept 28th). The classic ‘big three’ red wines crafted from the native grape variety, Sangiovese—Chianti Classico, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, and Brunello—and a number of blended red wines, usually classified as IGT (Indicazione geografica tipica), that bring to the palate the impact of classic French varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.
Explore the world of Super Tuscans
Some may know the story of how the Maremma, the coastal region of Italy on the Mediterranean, was the birthplace of what were called the ‘Super-Tuscans’. Mario Incisa della Rocchetta planted his first vineyard in the area with the intention of producing some Bordeaux-style red wines for his personal consumption. The wine he called ‘Sassicaia’, commercially released in 1968, along with Antinori’s Tignanello, launched the Super-Tuscan phemonema.
Over time, as this style of wine became more popular and spread more broadly through many Italian wine regions, the regulations were expanded to include the designation IGT to incorporate these unique wines into the standards of Italian wine law. These wines come from a specific geographic area, meet specified quality standards, and may also bear the name of the grape varieties from which they were produced. As an example of the longstanding presence of non-native varieties in Italy’s winemaking history, the Capezzana ‘Barco Reale’ di Carmignano (a great value) comes from a DOC—Carmignano—which has always required the inclusion of Cabernet Sauvignon in its blends. To quote the September 28 LCBO Vintages magazine, the IGT style ‘embodies the interplay of tradition and innovation that has always been at the heart of Tuscan winemaking’.
Give Thanks with Great Wines
With Thanksgiving fast approaching, this release brings a cornucopia of wines to choose from. There are Rieslings from Ontario, Alsace and Germany; Chardonnay from California and Australia. If you are prepping your Thanksgiving feast early, here are my top picks at the table; a richly flavoured Merlot from Ontario’s Angels Gate; the fabulous ‘Goldeneye’ Pinot Noir from Duckhorn or the classic Mercury of Domaine Faiveley; and Cascina Gilli’s clean yet concentrated Barbera d’Asti. For a Canadian sweep at the Thanksgiving table, consider starting with Sumac Ridge Steller’s Jay Sparkling Brut, moving to a choice of Angel’s Gate Mountainview Merlot or Tawse ‘Sketches of Niagara’ Riesling for the main, and then consider the hedonistic pleasures of Château des Charmes’ Vidal Ice Wine for dessert!
From the general release, I’m putting a focus on cellarable wines, including Paul Hobbs’ always impressive, concentrated ‘Crossbarn’ Cabernet Sauvignon, a great value Bordeaux—Château les Hauts de Palette—and from the Okanagan, Burrowing Owl’s 2010 Merlot.
Cheers and Enjoy!
Nottola Vino Nobile di Montepulciano 2009
$19.95 (Vintages #184960) 14.0% alcohol
Absolutely delectable, this fine red wine shows restrained aromas of red fruit, spice, earth and delicate floral notes. Dry, medium-full bodied and satiny in texture, the wash of intense red fruit is nicely offset by a spine of lively acidity and subtle tannins. Elegantly integrated oak offers a spicy note that accents the earthiness that persists on the finish. Enjoy this red wine now and over the next few years.
Lapostolle ‘Cuvée Alexandre Apalta Vineyard’ Cabernet Sauvignon 2011
Colchagua Valley, Chile
$24.95 (Vintages #947929) 14.0% alcohol
Deep purple, this powerful red wine produced from organic grapes offers great complexity and layers of aromas and flavours, including cassis, mint, spiced flowers, dried herbs and tobacco. Dry, full bodied, displaying gripping tannins and clean acidity, it has a firm base from which to showcase ripe, concentrated red and black fruits. Hints of sweet spice and pepper, along with a whiff of espresso linger on the finish. Cellar a further year or two, or decant and serve with rare red meats.
Graffigna ‘Centenario’ Late Harvest Malbec 2012
San Juan, Argentina
$14.95 (Vintages #322719) 12.5% alcohol
Deep ruby, this is a delightful incarnation of Malbec, offering tantalizing aromas of dried cranberries and black cherries, ripe dark berries and hints of smoke and spice. The jammy red fruit is attractively balanced with a backbone of clean acidity, notes of spice add interest, and there’s freshness on the finish. Serve this red wine with flourless chocolate almond cake.
Tawse ‘Sketches of Niagara’ Riesling 2012
VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario
$17.95 (Vintages #89029) 10.0% alcohol
Light-medium bodied and almost transparent, this is a fine value white wine bursting with aromas of nectarine, Japanese pear and lemon/lime. The sensation is one of subtly-wrought balance, the flavours suggesting the sweetness of lemon curd, along with lime, crisp apple and a touch of mineral.
Sonoma County, California
$21.95 (Vintages #574491) 13.5% alcohol
Inky and deep, this absolutely fabulous Zin offers rich blueberry and currant aromas, exotic spice notes, vanilla, earth and savoury toasty oak. Dry, full and rich, the dark fruit is succulent and spicy, the oak well integrated. The subtle structure brings great balance and harmony to the whole and delivers a surprisingly clean freshness on the big, fruity finish. Wow! You’ll want to stock up on this red wine!
Grand Total: $99.30
This weekend's LCBO Vintages release celebrates Ontario wines, from the vineyards of Prince Edward County in the east, Niagara in south-central Ontario, and the north shore of Lake Erie in the west. Click to see a map. With so many great wines to choose from, our Savvy Sommelier Susan - who has visited all of these wine regions several times - gives you a brief history of the Ontario wine biz, so that you have a taste of how far we have come!
Early days for Ontario grapes
Not many realize there was a thriving wine industry in Ontario in the late 1800s & early 1900s, primarily in Pelee Island area. Settlers from the United States began growing grapes on the island in the mid-1860s. By the end of the 19th century, with the help of an enterprising gentleman, W.J. Hamilton, wines from Vin Villa Winery were being sampled across eastern Canada and the northeastern United States. The winery garnered widespread fame when one of its wines won a bronze medal at a competition in Paris. Changes in agriculture caused the industry to disappear from the area for many decades.
Pioneers then move to Niagara...
As the prohibition era ended, a new wine business T.J. Brights was founded in 1874 with a substantial investment to improve the quality of Ontario wine, including the hiring of French-born winemaker and chemist, Adhemar de Chaunac, who imported a number of French hybrid grape varieties. Fast forward 100 years, by the 1970s, hybrids grapes were becoming more common in Ontario vineyards, yet consumer tastebuds were shifting to dry, low-alcohol tables wines rather than the slightly sweeter wines made with the hardy hybrid grapes. To go with the flow of this change, Ontario grape growers had already begun planting vitis vinifera vines (winespeak: the vine species that produces 99% of the grape varieties used in winemaking today - example: Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot etc) and began to see a vibrant future for these classic varieties in Ontario vineyards.
At the same time, a number of the recognized pioneers of Ontario’s modern wine industry were moving to the Niagara area from Europe: Paul Bosc Sr., Karl Kaiser, Ewald Reif, Herbert Konzelmann, and others. Still to this day, these gentleman are praised by the Canadian wine industry as the founding fathers of the Ontario wine industry.
First new winery since 1929
In 1975, Inniskillin, pioneered by the dynamic duo - Don Ziraldo and Karl Kaiser - was granted the first new winery license in the province since 1929. Don harvested his first Riesling, Chardonnay and Gamay grapes in the fall of 1977. In 1984, Karl Kaiser produced the first icewine from Vidal grapes grown in the Inniskillin vineyards.
The beginning of VQA
In 1988, Don Ziraldo was instrumental in establishing a team of grape growers and winemakers to develop VQA (Vintners Quality Alliance) as an appellation of origin system and a method of setting standards for wines in Ontario. More recently, sub-appellations have been established in Niagara to recognize the unique terroirs across the region. Interesting to note that VQA is not a national standard, rather established for Ontario and recently adopted by British Columbia. Nova Scotia currently has a different system in place.
Ontario wines win awards around the world
Ian d’Agata, a world renowned correspondent for International Wine Cellar stated in the September 14, 2013 Vintages magazine, ‘Ontario is one of the premier cool-climate viticulture areas of the world . . .’. Pretty impressive don't you think?
And the world has been watching the Canadian wine industry grow and recognizing that we are producing fine wines. In 1990, Ontario wines leaped onto the world stage, when Karl Kaiser’s 1989 Vidal Icewine won the Grand Prix d’Honneur at the prestigious Vin Expo – France.
Open your door to the discovery of spectacular Ontario wines
Today's Ontario wine industry has rapidly grown and the quality has increased exponentially as winery owners, winemakers and growers focus on terroir, viticultural practices and excellence in winemaking. With just over 100 wineries in Ontario now, not all of their wines are on the LCBO store shelves. Enjoy the ones in this Shine ON feature and continue your discovery by subscribing to Savvy Selections, which features all those wines not available at the LCBO or Vintages.
Wineries we recently featured included Lailey Vineyard, Daniel Lenko Estate Winery & Pondview Winery. Next month we will showcase wines from Casa Dea Estates of Prince Edward County. A subscription to Savvy Selections is like having a personal Sommelier!
For this "If I had $100, I would buy at Vintages", I have selected a variety of Ontario wines along with some from Chile & Italy too. And for the first time in a long time, my shopping list was not even close to $100. I've $12.25 spare. With this extra, take advantage of your savings & Go Local to sample a few more Ontario wines! Let me know which ones you put in your shopping cart!
Are you on Twitter? Share your Ontario wine discoveries with others using #ShineON.
Cheers and Enjoy!
Niagara Peninsula, Ontario
$21.95 (Vintages #251108) 12.0% alcohol
There’s a lovely hint of pink to the pale gold hue of this fragrant white wine. Aromas of ripe stone and orchard fruit mingle with melon and spiced floral notes. Dry, medium bodied and smooth, the clean fresh fruit and lively acidity build harmony, while hints of spice and a pithy note linger through the tasty, fruity finish. Enjoy it with roasted white meats or grilled sausages.
Miguel Torres ‘Santa Digna Reserva’ Sauvignon Blanc 2012
Curicó Valley, Chile
$13.95 (Vintages #342857) 13.5% alcohol
Brilliant yellow-green, there are pungent grassy and gooseberry notes mingling with tropical fruits, hints of lemon balm and other herbs. Dry, medium-bodied, the white wine replays focused flavours of gooseberry and herbs, underscored by vivid tangy acidity. Finishing long, clean and mouth-watering, this wine will work very well with pan-fried fish or a salad garnished with goat cheese and grilled peaches.
Niagara Peninsula, Ontario
$20.95 (Vintages #130252) 13.0% alcohol
This well-crafted blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot results in a red wine to enjoy with late fall barbeques. A beautiful ruby tone, the wine marries ripe black cherries, berries, cassis, sweet spice and a whiff of milk chocolate with fine-grained tannins and lively acidity. It’s dry yet approachable, mid-weight and skillfully balanced, leaving a hint of well-integrated oak on the persistent, fruit-filled finish.
$14.95 (Vintages #93799) 14.0% alcohol
Scoop up a few bottles of this outstanding red wine blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec and Syrah. Inky purple and alluringly rich in aromas of ripe dark fruit, mint, spice and vanilla, this is a subtly well-balanced wine. Supple tannins and fresh acidity underpin the full-flavoured, luscious fruit—cassis, blueberry and raspberry—while the well-integrated oak offers a long-lasting spicy, peppery finish. Serve it with grilled or roasted red meats.
Colchagua Valley, Chile
$15.95 (Vintages #325662) 14.5% alcohol
For well-made organic wines offering great value, it’s hard to beat this producer. Rich dark fruit melds with exotic spice and smoke on the intense nose. Dry and full bodied, this red wine showcases firm tannins and clean acidity, yet in harmony with the concentrated spicy dark fruit—blueberries and blackberries come to mind. Robust and flavourful, dry and persistent on the finish, it’s a great choice for lamb.
Grand Total: $87.75
Savvy Selections wine of the month club
Featuring Daniel Lenko Estate Winery
- August 2013 -
A visit to Daniel Lenko Estate Winery is like a casual stroll over to your neighbour’s house, where you sit down at the kitchen table for a chat over a cup of coffee, tea or in this case, a glass of wine! Our Savvy Sommelier Susan Desjardins visited the winery to meet Daniel Lenko & hear the wonderful story of this boutique winery.
This is the tale of a Ukrainian family that emigrated to Manitoba in 1934 and established themselves as farmers, then moved to the Niagara Peninsula in 1947. Daniel`s family story began when his grandparents came to a wedding in Ontario and after one look at the fall colours, the flowers and the peach trees, his grandmother said “That’s it!! We’ve already had snow on the ground back home in Manitoba. I want to move here.” And so they did, purchasing property in Niagara where they established themselves as farmers growing tree fruit and some of the first grape vines in the region. And that's how his family ended up on the Beamsville Bench.
Vines over 50 years old!
By 1959, Bill Lenko, Daniel’s father, was planting his first vitis vinifera vines, which provided the Chardonnay grapes for the wine included in your Savvy Selections. In the 1960s, he ripped out all his non-vinifera vines (winespeak: hybrid grapes) to make way for Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, and other sought-after varieties. He continued to cultivate fruit trees until 1985, while selling his grapes to some of the best-known wineries in the area.
Bill was honored Grape King in 1990 – a highly acclaimed award of top viticulturalists in Ontario. And in 2006, Bill was honoured with the Tony Aspler Cuvée Award of Excellence, the first grape grower to receive this recognition. A few years ago, Bill passed away at the age of 85. While he was a hard working farmer and a hands-on man, his son Daniel carries on the Lenko tradition in a similar manner. Like father like son.
With this Savvy Selections arriving in the midst of summer, our Team of Accredited Sommeliers purposely chose wines that you can enjoy from your deck chair or serve with anything off the BBQ. Daniel Lenko wines are available only from the winery, generally by the case (12 bottles), or at select restaurants. We are delighted to feature the wines this month to give you the unique opportunity to purchase these limited production wines by the bottle.
In your Savvy Selections. you will find:
White Cabernet VQA 2011 - very aromatic and crisp Rosé wine – like you have never had before!
Old Vines Chardonnay VQA 2010 – a classic, finely-balanced Chardonnay barrel aged in French oak
Old Vines Merlot 2008 - a BIG fruit filled red wine.
OPTIONAL WINES: There were many wines that impressed our Sommeliers. We also offered the 2008 Gewürztraminer for its satiny texture and medley of tropical fruits, and the 2009 White Merlot, which offers a crowd-pleasing balance of sweet fruit and fresh acidity. These optional wines are still available to you – just let me know & I will make the arrangements. Don’t wait long as Daniel Lenko wines sell out quickly.
These are hard to find wines!
Daniel Lenko wines quickly sell out at the winery and rarely you will find them at the LCBO. Once you have been wowed by this month’s Savvy Selections & you would like additional bottles of your new favourite, let me know & I will arrange a special delivery for you. Simply email me or call 613-SAVVYCO (728-8926).
Cheers & Enjoy!
Daniel Lenko Estate Winery
Presented by Savvy Sommelier Susan Desjardins
As I sat tasting wines in the Lenko family farmhouse kitchen, Daniel made suggestions of what I should taste in the wines, his intense pride in his wines an almost palpable presence. He’s particularly proud to have the oldest Chardonnay and Merlot vines in Canada. The Chardonnay was planted by his father in 1959 followed by the Merlot vines in 1974.
Daniel grew up on the family farm, where the work ethic is strong and the passion for the land is high. What drew his grandparents to Niagara wasn’t just the more temperate weather, it was the opportunity to grow fruit. His grandparents were very excited about growing peaches. Around the kitchen table, Daniel shared stories about his grandparent’s move to Ontario: “When my grandfather told his friends he was selling his two large farms out in Manitoba, they told him he was crazy to leave. His response was that when they move to Ontario, they would have a paved road in front of their house.” And so it was and ever since then, the Niagara area has flourished, while on the other hand, the small town in Manitoba they left, has unfortunately not seen the same success.
It started with Concord grapes, then Chardonnay
The Lenko family farm produced 50% soft fruit and 50% grapes, including table grapes such as Concord. Bill sold his grapes to the local processors and wineries of the time and eventually developed a relationship with the field manager at one of the wineries. This fellow suggested planting the experimental French vines (the Chardonnay), and committed that his winery would always buy them. So with this hand shake, Bill immediately planted five acres and the following year, another five.
As the fruit industry became less financially viable and the demand for high quality wine grapes grew, the Lenko family had a major decision to make. In 1985, Bill Lenko (right) tore out all his tree fruit and planted more vines – this time all vitis vinifera varieties – such as Merlot & Chardonnay.
The notion of a winery was in the back of Bill’s mind, but it was Daniel, the third generation grape grower, who realized that vision in 1999 with the opening of Daniel Lenko Estate Winery. Daniel has lived on the farm most of his life. He worked as a mechanic for a while and has a large investment in machinery on the farm, for his own use and for his business, which includes installing drainage systems for other wineries.
“My dad wasn’t too keen on turning over his farm to me" Daniel explained, "but I’m the oldest son, and all my brothers and sisters have followed other careers. I had a fairly major car accident that really gave my folks at jolt. Right after that, my parents said ‘We’re selling you the farm’. And that same year, I opened the winery.”
No turning back…
Daniel’s efforts were rewarded with a Gold Medal at the Cuvée Wine Awards for his 1999 Old Vines Merlot. Then in 2002, following in his father’s footsteps, Daniel was named Grape King.
What is his greatest achievement? “In 2006, Jancis Robinson (highly acclaimed international wine critic from England) blind tasted about 300 Canadian wines at George Brown College. She named our 2002 Syrah as the best red wine in Canada.”
Small, but making a big impression
The winery operates on a small scale, each year producing about 3500 cases of wine from estate-grown fruit, grown by Daniel and his vineyard manager, Abraham Fehr – everything is bottled on site. When Daniel first opened the winery, he consulted with Jim Warren (renowned amateur and professional winemaker who co-founded Stoney Ridge Winery and was instrumental in initiating the winemaking program at Niagara College). Jim advised Daniel that ‘if you have good grapes, then you have at least a good chance of making good wine.’ Daniel has taken this to heart, focusing on viticultural management, low yields and a winemaking approach that lets the fruit quality shine through.
“I’ve made 10-12 wines over the last 15 years. In some cases, the first attempt produced the results we wanted, in others we needed to experiment a bit, develop the process to create the style we were looking for. We’re artists, building a unique business that has value to it.” Daniel is in and out of the tasting room on the weekends, chatting up customers while during the week, he’s managing the farm and his construction business. But at harvest time, he’s 100% dedicated to the vines and the wine: “You’re watching the pot all the time when you’re making wine.”
Daniel is the now the primary winemaker with a winemaking consultant at his side. As he says “from vine to glass, you know, when you uncork a bottle of Daniel Lenko wine, I’ve touched that bottle many times!”
Cheers & Enjoy your Savvy Selections!
~ SAVVY SOMMELIER TASTING NOTES ~
“This is what we should do with our Cabernet in Niagara” says Daniel. Cold-fermented for 4 weeks, the wine is treated like a white to retain the wonderfully pure fruit flavours.
Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: An elegant, dry, medium-bodied salmon-hued wine, this is crisp and juicy with hints of dried herbs and flavours of cherries and berries. Smooth and silky, it finishes dry and tangy. .
Suggested Food Pairing: Rosé wines are remarkably versatile, pairing with light meats, salads, charcuteries and cheese. Try this one with our beef & strawberry salad – recipe follows.
Cellaring: Enjoy it now!
And we mean old – the first vines were planted by Daniel’s father Bill in 1959. The vines were cropped back to 2 tonnes per acre to ensure highest quality fruit. The wine was aged in French oak for 18 months. Stunning!
Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: Dry, medium-full bodied and beautifully balanced, this wine offers subtle alluring nutty aromas, notes of pear, ripe apple, vanilla and butter pastry. It’s warm, round and lush with a lovely toasty finish.
Suggested Food Pairing: An ideal match for seafood, pork or chicken.
Cellaring: This wine will cellar a further 2-3 years.
From the cloudy, wet 2008 vintage, Daniel has managed to create an intensely flavourful wine. The vines are almost 40 years old, also cropped to 2 tons/acre, hand harvested and aged 12 months in French oak.
Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: Ruby red, this is a tasty, dry mid-weight wine with loads of flavour. Black cherry, ripe red berries, vanilla, and hints of pepper, toast and dark chocolate mingle on the palate. It’s well structured with fine-grained tannins and fresh acidity pacing the ripe fruit. It finishes dry, toasty and fruit-filled.
Suggested Food Pairing: Serve with grilled meat, sausages or try your hand at our rib recipe on the following pages.
Cellaring: Drinking well now, it will cellar a further 2 years.
~RECIPES TO ENJOY WITH YOUR SAVVY SELECTIONS~
Teriyaki Steak & Berries
3 Tbsp seasoned rice vinegar
3 Tbsp canola oil
2 Tbsp teriyaki sauce
2 tsp each finely minced ginger & liquid honey
Freshly ground black pepper
12 oz. top sirloin grilling steak
4 C torn spinach leaves
4 C torn romaine leaves
3 C halved strawberries
2 C sliced brown mushrooms
2 green onions, diagonally sliced
4 tsp toasted sesame seeds
In a small bowl or measuring cup, whisk together dressing ingredients.
Sprinkle both sides of steak with pepper to taste. Place on greased grill over medium-high heat; close lid & grill for about 4 minutes per side for medium-rare or until desired doneness.
Let stand for 5 minutes before thinly slicing across the grain.
In large bowl, combine spinach, romaine, strawberries, mushrooms & green onions.
Set aside 2 Tbsp of dressing; toss salad with remaining dressing. Arrange on platter or salad plates; toss with beef, drizzle with reserved dressing; sprinkle with sesame seeds.
Steamed Lobster Tails
When the Savvy Selections tasting panel tried this wine, we all thought immediately that it would be perfectly paired with lobster. Whether you cook the lobster yourself – whichever way you prefer – or use already steamed lobster tails, this wine will be delicious.
1 Tbsp sea salt
4 (or more!) lobster tails
Butter & lemon juice to taste
Using kitchen shears, cut the lobster shell (only the shell) down the middle to the tail. Pull the shell up and away from the flesh.
Pour about 1” of water in a large pot & bring it to a boil.
Add the salt & place a steamer insert into the pot so it is just above the water level.
Put the lobster tails on the rack and cover the pot. Steam for 8-10 minutes, until the flesh is opaque.
Melt butter & squeeze in lemon.
Baked Ribs with Whitehouse Sauce
Adapted from the White House Restaurant recipe, Winnipeg
From: ‘Flower of the Flames’ Rub
K. Putnam, Championship BBQ Secrets for Real Smoked Food
½ C sweet Hungarian paprika
3/8 C fine kosher or sea salt
¼ C freshly ground black pepper
¼ C chili powder
¼ C ground cumin
¼ packed brown sugar
¼ C garlic powder
1/8 C granulated sugar
1/8 C ground celery seed (optional)
1 Tbsp ground oregano
1 C tomato ketchup
2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tsp salt (optional)
¾ C brown sugar
½ tsp ginger powder
½ tsp cayenne
½ Tbsp chili powder
Remove membranes from 2 racks baby back ribs. Cut the racks to fit a high-sided pan.
Mix all spices in the rub into a bowl. Using as much of the mixture that you like, generously coat & rub both sides of the racks. Any remaining rub mix can be stored in a jar in the fridge. Set ribs aside to tenderize for up to 1 hour.
To prepare the sauce, whisk all ingredients in a small sauce pan & bring to a boil. Cover & simmer gently about 20 minutes. Cool.
Preheat oven to 375F. Place ribs in the pan, in a single layer if possible. If not, overlap slightly. Cover tightly with aluminum foil & bake ribs 90 minutes in pre-heated oven. Allow the ribs to cool slightly, still covered. Cover the cooked ribs generously with the sauce. Ribs may be covered & refrigerated until ready to BBQ.
Barbeque the ribs on low heat, brushing generously with the sauce on both sides, for about 15 minutes, or until the ribs have a nicely-browned coating of sauce. Alternately, the ribs can be cooked under the broiler in the oven – watch carefully!
Enjoy your Savvy Selections!
As a part of its centenary celebration, and recognizing the life and work of its founder, the Robert Mondavi Winery hosted a luncheon and tasting at the Fairmont Château Laurier in Ottawa. I was delighted to be part of this special event to mark the major milestone. The afternoon's wine tasting was led by Mark de Vere, Mondavi's Director and Master of Wine, who moved to Napa Valley California from the U.K. shortly after completing his WSET and Master of Wine certification.
The talented Chef Louis Simard of the Château Laurier created an innovative, intricate series of dishes featuring local produce and expertly paired with each wine:
Asparagus Salad with charred tomato, home-made ricotta, pickled egg, basil-mint vinaigrette
Smoked Salmon Rillette with grilled baguette on a bed of baby arugula
Duck Confit with Ermite blue cheese, brioche crostini, sherry-rhubarb reduction
Cardamom-Mushroom, Rubbed Lamb Sirloin & Aged Striploin graced with lima bean cassoulet, red wine jus
Blueberry Goat Cheese Cake
Why not test out the menu yourself with these Mondavi wines - all available at the LCBO.
Considered as one of Robert Mondavi’s signature wines - Napa Valley Fumé Blanc (LCBO #221887, $22.95) - was first released in 1968 as an endeavour by Mr. Mondavi to redefine California Sauvignon Blanc from a sweet, unnuanced wine to one endowed with a rich, round texture complemented by a lively, fresh texture. The 2010 vintage served at the tasting certainly hit the mark, displaying beautiful aromas of tropical fruits, lime, a whiff of honeyed floral notes and a touch of nutty toast. The first sip brought out the concentrated fruit and round texture, while the crisp acidity ensured a juicy, finely balanced finish.
The wine continued to evolve in the glass, showcasing tantalizing aromas of crème brulée. The Fumé Blanc was followed by the 2010 Napa Valley Chardonnay (LCBO #310409, $25.95), a fruit-focused wine with attractive aromas of orchard fruit, pineapple and vanilla. Dry, bright and smooth, the wine again featured that fine balance of ripe fruit, well-integrated oak and fresh acidity, finishing with a touch of warmth and candied citrus.
The spotlight turned to the red wines featuring the Carneros Pinot Noir 2011 (LCBO #438697 $34.95), vinified to accent the ripe berry fruit, picked early to retain its freshness, then aged 10 months in French oak. Showcasing luscious cherry/berry fruit aromas, notes of smoke and spice, this is a warm, fleshy Pinot Noir, where the intensely flavoured ripe fruit is again balanced with lively acidity. Dry and spicy, it finishes with a touch of peppery warmth.
The 2010 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon (LCBO #255513, $34.95, available to June 23 for $31.95) is inky purple and tantalizingly rich, offering complex aromas of dark fruit, vanilla, licorice, spiced chocolate and a hint of herbs. Blended with a touch of Cabernet Franc and Merlot, Mark described it as a ‘classic Napa Valley Cab’, a well-balanced dry wine with perceptible tannins framing tasty black fruit, replaying the notes of herb and licorice on a finish that offers a whisper of well-integrated oak.
The third red wine was the Reserve Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 (the 2008 is available in the LCBO, 670463, $144.95), produced from fruit harvested from the To Kalon Vineyard. Designed for aging yet absolutely fabulous now, this is a deep, powerful wine characterized by plush, ripe black fruit, supple yet well-structured tannins, clean acidity and lovely nuances of spicy floral notes, chocolate, dried herbs and spiced vanilla. A rich, lush, harmonious wine.
The tasting closed with the Robert Mondavi Winery’s Moscato d’Oro 2009 (LCBO #687392, $17.95, currently available for $14.90), a wine with the winery’s classic intensity and depth of flavour, beautifully fragrant and crisp, Lovely notes of natural grape juice, fruit salad and honeyed peach are lifted by a gentle touch of spritz. Simply delightful!
Here's to 100 years of Mondavi wines...and many more to come.
The spotlight is shining on Argentina’s Mendoza region - the country’s major grape-growing area - in the June 8 LCBO Vintages release. This is a great opportunity to stock up on value wines, many under $20. The selection includes a creamy Chardonnay from Alamos (only $13.95), the country’s signature white grape - Torrontes - and a range of varietal red wines and blends showcasing classic red wine varieties such as Malbec and Bonarda. A good example of this red blend is Familia Mayol ‘Quatro Primos’. Look for loads of flavour, attractive complexity, warmth and balance in the wines.
Mendoza - The 'Wine Capital'
Mendoza, the city, is known as Argentina’s 'Wine Capital' and anchors the wine region at the heart of Argentina’s wine production. Wines in Mendoza benefit from the intense sunlight of high altitudes, cool night temperatures that ensure retention of acidity, and dry air that mitigates against disease. Warm temperatures produce well-ripened grapes with plenty of sugar, leading to softer tannins and higher alcohol. The soils are sandy, and flood irrigation has been used for many years (although drip irrigation is making inroads), with the result that phylloxera has not posed a significant threat and many vines can be grown on their own rootstock.
Malbec is perhaps the best known grape of Argentina, a variety that was relatively insignificant as a part of Bordeaux blends in France but has come into its own in Argentina. The deep-coloured, flavourful Bonarda is increasingly making its presence felt in the export market, either in varietal wines or as a significant part of blended red wines.
Looking for a Father’s Day idea?
In addition to wines from Argentina, this Vintages release focuses on high-end Scotch and wines for Father’s Day, including a fine Chardonnay from Coyote’s Run, approachable red wines such as the deLoach Zinfandel, and wines to be cellared such as the Ridge Estate Cabernet Sauvignon. My personal choice would be the Duckhorn Cabernet Sauvignon, a wonderful wine at a very reasonable $29.95.
Rosé wines are here!
For those of us who love rosé for its versatility, and for sipping on a warm summer’s day, peruse the Local Talent feature for some delicious Ontario wines; two of my favorites—Château des Charmes ‘Cuvée d’Andrée’ Rosé and Pondview Cabernet Franc Rosé, appear in our selection at only $14.95!
More great value wines...
And to top it all off, there are more great values, several of which are included among the six wines I have selected below in my shopping list. And if you have some spare change, add to your shopping cart these extras: the full-bodied Côtes du Rhône blend, Les Halos de Jupiter, Rocca delle Macie’s Chianti Riserva, the Tedeschi Appassimento, and Lealtanza Crianza, a finely balanced Tempranillo from the Rioja.
Cheers and Enjoy!
$17.95 (Vintages #143420) 12.6% alcohol
With just six months in barrel, this is a very attractive mid-weight Pinot Noir showcasing vibrant red fruits, dried herbs, a hint of cedar and an elusive floral note. Dry and quite juicy in texture, the delicate tannins and lively acidity complement lovely red fruits—cranberry, raspberry and cherry. Touches of spice, toast and earth add complexity through a lengthy dry finish. A versatile wine offering great value, pair it with lighter meat dishes, grilled vegetables or salmon.
13th Street Winery White Palette 2011
VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario
$14.95 (Vintages #207340) 12.5% alcohol
A blend of several perfumed grape varieties, the aromas of Gewürztraminer and Riesling shine through on the nose with notes of spicy tropical fruit, citrus and white flowers. Dry, medium bodied, the wine is fleshy yet fresh, fruity and spicy with a nice slightly pithy note on the vibrant, clean finish. Sip on the patio, or serve with salads or seafood.
Château des Charmes Rosé ‘Cuvée d’Andrée’ 2012
VQA Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario
$14.95 (Vintages #333260) 12.5% alcohol
The depth and character of this Pinot Noir rosé is suggested to reflect the personality of matriarch Madame Andrée Bosc. An electric deep rose, it’s wonderfully fragrant with notes of apple blossom, red berry and cherry. Dry, vibrant and mid weight, notes of dried herbs and white pepper add complexity to the luscious red fruit—strawberry, red currant and raspberry. Tangy acidity offers a nice balance to a well-crafted wine that finishes crisp and fruity. A versatile choice that has the heft to pair with a range of foods from strawberry balsamic spinach salad to grilled meats. Stock up and enjoy!
Pondview Cabernet Franc Rosé 2011
VQA Four Mile Creek, Ontario
$14.95 (Vintages #241802) 13.5% alcohol
Lou Puglisi has done it again, creating a salmon-hued beauty that offers amazing complexity—sweet cherry/berry aromas, honey and toasted coconut—as well as outstanding value. Just off-dry, medium bodied, this is a rosé with presence and a fine tension between crisp acidity and tangy, juicy red fruit. There’s a light touch of spritz on the palate, warmth and intense flavour through the extended finish. Savour it well chilled on the screened porch this summer.
Hawkes Bay, New Zealand
$16.95 (Vintages #586081) 14.0% alcohol
Aged in French and American oak, this is an impressive, value-laden wine serving up complex aromas and flavours. On the nose, dark and dried fruit, vanilla, dried lavender, sandalwood and cocoa. Displaying a firm yet subtle structure, it grabs your attention with a tangy peppery note followed by a rush of dark plummy fruit, notes of licorice and earth. Tasty, well crafted, and well worth cellaring, you’ll want to pick up a few bottles.
AOC Côtes du Rousillon-Villages, France
$14.95 (Vintages #168716) 14.5% alcohol
This blend of Grenache and Syrah from Chapoutier is a remarkable value and consistently good from vintage to vintage. Deep ruby, fruit forward, with a kiss of spice and vanilla, it’s dry, round and full bodied. Very approachable, loaded with luscious dark fruit, notes of licorice, pepper and spice add interest and allure. There’s the structure to balance the fruit and a big lip-smacking finish that says ‘bring on the barbequed meat’.
Load up your shopping cart!
Grand Total: $94.70
We’re well into Spring with the April 13 LCBO Vintages release, which features wines from New Zealand and Portugal. New Zealand’s southern hemisphere water-bound land mass offers a mid-latitude maritime environment particularly suited to the production of unique, quality wines. Not only is there diversity in the varieties cultivated—from the well-known Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir, to Syrah and Viognier—but there is great regional diversity—from the established regions of Marlborough and Hawkes Bay, to the emerging Waitaki Valley.
New Zealand - commitment to sustainable winemaking
The New Zealand wine industry has made a firm commitment to innovative and sustainable viticultural and winemaking practices which they expect will reinforce their reputation for “vibrantly stylish wines”. In 2007, the New Zealand wine industry committed to having 100% of the country’s wine produced under approved independently audited sustainability standards by 2012. The industry shares practices in areas such as water usage, energy consumption, waste management and biodiversity.This Vintages release highlights New Zealand’s best-known wine regions, Marlborough and Hawkes Bay, showcasing classic Sauvignon Blanc, aromatic Pinot Gris, and clean unoaked Chardonnay, as well as elegant Pinot Noir and fruity, well-balanced Merlot.
Portugal - tradition integrated with state-of-the art viticulture
Portugal is best known for its famous Port wine, but the country also produces tangy, fresh white wines and concentrated flavourful red wines from a broad range of native grape varieties. The country has a long history of winemaking, dating back several millennia. Since joining the European Union the 1980s, Portugal has experienced substantial change and an increasing focus on quality in the wine industry. Now Portugal is integrating traditional with modern methods to produce wines of great character, yet modern in style. While most wine was previously produced by cooperatives, and much still is, many grape growers are now establishing their own wineries (quintas) and creating wines with their own unique style. This LCBO release provides the opportunity to try a classic Alvarinho Vino Verde, as well as several red wines, many of them including Touriga Nacional, such as Monte Vilar Reserva. Touriga Nacional is one of Portugal’s best-known red grapes, used in the production of red varietal wines, red wine blends and Port. There’s great value in these wines, with the majority priced under $20.
The general release offers some tasty Niagara wines such as: Fielding Estate Cabernet Franc and Reif ‘The Magician’ Shiraz/Pinot Noir, Viewpointe Estate Auxerrois and Featherstone Rosé, the latter two included in our selection. If you want to share a taste of a rich savoury Chilean red wine, try the Perez Cruz Cabernet Sauvignon in the 375ml format. Other full-flavoured red wines include Easton Zinfandel, Oyster Bay Merlot and Quinta de Ventozelo ‘Reserva’ Douro Tinto. There’s also great value in the fruit-forward Montepulciano and Sangiovese blend, deAngelis Rosso Piceno Superiore ($14.95) and the Rhône red blend, Le Cirque Grenache/Carignan/Mourvèdre/Syrah ($15.95). With all the great values on offer, we’re managed to include 6 wines for just under $100!
Cheers and Enjoy!
Marlborough/Hawkes Bay, New Zealand
$18.95 (Vintages #991950) 13.0% alcohol
Straw hued and delightfully expressive with aromas of white flowers, citrus and ripe stone fruit, this is a clean, fresh white wine. Dry, with a racy backbone of keen acidity, it offers flavours of melon, green apple and tangy citrus, as well as a pithy note that persists on the lengthy, mouth-watering finish. Enjoy with your choice of seafood or lemon roast chicken.
Monte Vilar Reserva 2011
$14.95 (Vintages #276105) 14.0% alcohol
An excellent value, this ruby/violet blend of native red grape varieties display remarkable complexity of aromas—vanilla, ripe fresh field berries, dried cherries, mineral and earth. Dry, medium-full bodied, the concentrated dark berry fruit is garnished with a touch of pepper and espresso and framed by fresh acidity and perceptible tannins. The finish is dry, full flavoured and long lasting. Pick up a few bottles and try them over the next several years.
Viewpointe Estate Auxerrois 2011
VQA Lake Erie North Shore, Ontario
$14.95 (Vintages #327239) 12.5% alcohol
From a dramatic boutique estate winery on the shore of Lake Erie comes this lovely pale gold wine, tantalizing the nose with delicate aromas of stone and tropical fruit, pear and flowers. Just off-dry, the flavours are quite intense—pineapple, ripe yellow plum, apricot and juicy nectarine. It’s a very tasty wine with a fine balancing seam of acidity and a delicious fruity finish. A good choice to sip on its own or to savour with lightly spiced dishes, previous vintages have sold out quickly from the winery. Don’t miss the boat!
Featherstone Rosé 2012
VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario
$14.95 (Vintages #117861) 12.0% alcohol
Produced from Gamay and Merlot, the deep rosy salmon color of this tasty rosé wine portends the intensity of aromas and flavours. Bursting with ripe red field berries and cherries, apple skin and mineral notes, it also exhibits hints of spice and pepper. Dry, mid weight, all that juicy flavour is balanced with lively acidity right through the lasting flavourful finish. A versatile, value-driven wine that will delight on its own or paired on a warm spring day with a balsamic beef and strawberry salad.
Alfredo Roca‘Reserva de Familia’ Pinot Noir 2010
$19.95 (Vintages #301275) 13.0% alcohol
Aged 9 months in oak, displaying a garnet hue, this gem of a wine offers attractive aromas of cherry/berry garnished with notes of vanilla, spice and toast. Dry, silky in texture, it has a lovely core of ripe fruit—raspberry, cherry and blackberry—mingling with notes of spiced oak and earth. Approachable, with fruit deftly balanced by fresh acidity and fine tannins, it delivers a lengthy, dry yet smooth finish.
AOC Bordeaux Supérieur
$15.95 (Vintages #138636) 13.0% alcohol
Deep ruby, this award-winning red wine offers depth of flavour and very nice value. The aromas are very ripe berry fruits, spice and cedar, with a sweet note of dried fruits. Dry, medium-full bodied, ripe tannins and a fine measure of acidity balance plush berry fruit, sweet spice and a trace of toasty vanilla that carries through the long-lasting dry finish. Enjoy this attractive blend now or over the next couple of years.
Grand Total: $99.70
Easter weekend arrives early this year, the last weekend of March, and the March 30 LCBO Vintages is right on cue, with a special feature including a bevy of Ontario wines to serve with your ham, turkey or prime rib. To get you started, try the always delectable 13th Street Premier Cuvée sparkling wine, a fine, focused effort from the 2008 vintage.
With ham or turkey, you have a choice of wines, including Chardonnay from Thomas Bachelder or Le Clos Jordanne, or single vineyard Pinot Noir from Le Clos Jordanne or Peninsula Ridge. With prime rib or ham, give the Featherstone Cabernet Franc from the great 2011 vintage a whirl.
Looking for a grand finale to the Easter meal, enjoy Fielding Estates’ luscious yet balanced Vidal Icewine, winner of a silver medal at the Canadian Wine Awards. The main feature, showcasing Southern France, also offers a fine sparkling wine from the Languedoc, Domaine J. Laurens ‘Le Moulin’ Brut Blanquette de Limoux. Made in the same method as champagne, with the second fermentation in bottle, Blanquette de Limoux is recognized as the first sparkling wine made in France – earliest references date back to Benedictine monks in the 16th century. If you’re feeling adventurous, buy a bottle of both the Blanquette de Limoux and the 13th Street sparkler, and compare!
Southern France Shines Through
The remainder of the Southern France feature comprises mostly red wine blends, from appellations such as Minervois, Côtes de Roussillon, Corbières and the Côtes du Languedoc, most offering great value in the $15-20 range. This area of France is quite fascinating, with influences from southern Bordeaux, the Mediterranean and northern Spain. French melts into Catalan, fields of lavender rush to meet the sea, and vineyards climb the rocky hills. It’s a region of innovation and ancient history, stretching back to the Romans. With somewhat looser rules in its appellations, the Languedoc was one of the first regions in France to create tasty, relatively inexpensive wines for export naming the grape varieties on the label. You will finds blends that combine varying concentrations of Syrah, Grenache, Carignan and/or Mourvèdre, such as the Cave de Roquebrun “La Grange des Combes’ Saint-Chinian-Roquebrun (awarded 4 stars by Decanter World Wine Awards), the Château de Treviac from Corbières near the Spanish border, and the Château Saint-Roch Chimères, included in our selection.
California Wine Fair Comes to Ottawa April 5, 2013
The general release also offers some great value, including a couple of California red wines—Irony ‘Small Lot Reserve’ Cabernet Sauvignon and the unique Langtry Guenoc Petite Syrah. Reminder - the California Wine Fair stops in Ottawa just after Easter (April 5 at the Westin) and in Toronto the following week (April 8 at the Fairmont Royal York). Erasmo is a fabulous Cab/Merlot blend from Chile, while Otazu is an award-winning wine from Spain. Don’t miss Luigi Righetti’s ‘Campolieto’ Ripasso Valpolicella Classico Superiore from the 2010 vintage – it’s fabulous and one of our choices. I just opened a bottle of 2005 that was divine, so pick up a few bottles of this wine—a great deal at $16.95—to enjoy now and to cellar.
Cheers and Enjoy!
AP Coteaux du Languedoc, France
$12.95 (Vintages #525287) 12.5% alcohol
Load up the wagon with this great value white wine! Straw-hued, it’s fragrant with white flowers, citrus zest and a touch of crisp green apple. Dry, clean and tangy, with a fine silky texture, the flavours of lemon/lime and green apple replay right through the tasty, palate-cleansing finish. A lively sipper or a great wine to pair with fish or seafood.
AOC Côtes du Roussillon-Villages, France
$18.95 (Vintages #119354) 14.5% alcohol
This is a big, flavourful red wine blend—Grenache, Syrah and Carignan—a bold wine offering intriguing aromas of blueberry, smoked meat, dried herbs, tar and earth. Dry, full bodied, the intense flavours of berries replay, mingling with elusive notes of sweet spice and dark chocolate. Displaying well-integrated tannins and oak, it’s loaded with flavour and finishes with a peppery flourish. Serve with herbed rack of lamb.
The Good Earth Dry Riesling 2010
VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario
$19.95 (Vintages #324244) 11.3% alcohol
Owner Nicolette Novak isn’t kidding when she includes the word ‘good’ in the name of her winery – there’s nothing but good food and wine at Good Earth. This Riesling is a fine example! Deftly crafted by young winemaker Dré Glass it’s a finely balanced dry, mid weight white wine where clean, tangy acidity is married with lovely aromas and flavours of pithy citrus and crisp apple. A fine mineral edge enhances the keen, lively texture and carries through the lengthy refreshing finish. Serve it with lobster with lemon butter, or with ham.
Napa Valley, California
$19.95 (Vintages #25106) 14.5% alcohol
The quality of this red wine makes me glad the Indelicato brothers came back to their roots after ‘escaping’ (their words) the family farm! Dense and dark, this outstanding, finely balanced dry wine offers lovely aromas of ripe dark fruit, cedar, spiced vanilla and fragrant dried herbs. Dry, full bodied, it’s a warm, approachable and intensely flavourful wine displaying well integrated oak, fresh acidity and velvety tannins married to a core of sweet spiced cassis, blackberry and plum. Great fruit-filled finish!
Luigi Righetti ‘Campolieti’ Ripasso Valpolicella Classico Superiore 2010
DOC Valpolicella, Italy
$16.95 (Vintages #695890) 13.5% alcohol
Ruby, semi-opaque this fine, compelling red wine blend offers totally alluring aromas of sweet ripe dark fruit, vanilla, incense and chocolate-coated cherries. Dry, medium-full bodied, you couldn’t ask for a more balanced wine. Well-integrated oak, ripe tannins and fine acidity create a velvety texture that wraps around full-flavoured, concentrated black berry and plum-flavoured fruit that glides through a yielding finish. Since you’ll want to taste it right now, buy at least one other bottle for the cellar!
Grand Total: $88.75
Without skipping a beat, a sign of spring is the arrival of the annual California Wine Fair. This always quickly sells out. Ottawa is April 5 at the Westin Hotel and Toronto is April 8 at the Fairmont Royal York. The Fair features 130+ wineries offering 400 wines! This year features some of the new trends in the California wine industry.
Can’t wait until the California wine industry arrives in town? Then this weekend’s LCBO Vintages March 16 release highlights California wines, focusing on pioneering winemakers who made a mark on the industry, starting in the mid 1970s, with their keen attention to quality. These determined winemakers combed their focus on matching key grape varieties to ideal soils and new hillside sites with single-minded attention to viticultural practices and innovative winemaking techniques.
Recognition came in 1976, when Château Montelena’s Chardonnay and Stag’s Leap founder Warren Winiarski’s Cabernet Sauvignon won the Judgement of Paris in their respective categories. This LCBO Vintages release provides the opportunity to savour some of these iconic wines, from Château Montelena Chardonnay to Duckhorn Merlot, Ravenswood Zinfandel, Caymus Cabernet Sauvignon and Inglenook ‘Rubicon’ Cabernet Sauvignon. These iconic California wines are priced beyond my budget of an assortment of wines that total max $100 for this blog. I do however recommend that you consider splurging!
Another sign of spring is the focus of the clean fresh white wines produced in Europe’s alpine regions—Austria, Alsace, Germany, Hungary and Italy. Look for some fabulous Rieslngs and Pinot Gris. The general release delivers great value wines. Others worth noting beyond my list below are: the perennial value, Château Hauchat ($14.95), Pierre Henri Morel’s absolutely fabulous Côtes du Rhône-Villages ($15.95), Torre Quarto’s ‘Bottaccia’ produced from Puglia’s little-known but delicious Uva di Troia ($14.95) and an outstanding value from Spain, Piñol’s Grenache blend, Ludovicus ($13.95).
Given all the great values, here are my top picks and there are 6 wines just under my $100 set limit!
Cheers and Enjoy!
If I only had $100, I would buy. . .
LCBO Vintages Release as of Saturday, March 16, 2013
Balthasar Ress ‘Hattenheimer Schützenhaus’ Riesling Kabinett 2011
$17.95 (Vintages #735241) 10.0% alcohol
Straw/green, this is a fabulous Riesling displaying subtle, complex aromas and flavours of mineral, citrus, stone fruit and herb. Dry, a touch spritzy, the fruit and herb notes are framed by fine acidity and the underlying minerality.
Cave de Hoen ‘Heimberger’ Brut Rosé Crémant d’Alsace NV
AOC Alsace, France
$16.95 (Vintages #168948) 12.5% alcohol
This dry, pale salmon sparkling wine made in the traditional method, displays a fine effervescence that persists on the palate. Delicate aromas and flavours of red field berries—cranberry, currant and raspberry—dominate, while lively acidity carries the flavours through a crisp, palate-cleansing finish. A great wine for sipping at Easter, or to be paired with salads, fish or white meats.
Malivoire Riesling 2011
VQA Niagara Escarpment, Ontario
$15.95 (Vintages #277438) 10.5% alcohol
Finely crafted, this is a clean, lively white wine offering an attractive floral fragrance, along with aromas of citrus, orchard fruit and mineral. Light-medium bodied, a touch of residual sugar is paired with clean, refreshing acidity. Great balance and lovely flavours of lemon-lime, ripe apple and mineral right through the finish. Enjoy with pan-fried halibut or roast chicken or pork.
Rockway Vineyards ‘Small Lot Reserve’ Red Assemblage 2010
VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario
$16.95 (Vintages #321893) 14.0% alcohol
High-toned aromas of ripe dark fruit, spiced rose and a touch of roasted red pepper lift from the glass of this blend of the Cabernets and Merlot. Dry, on the full side of medium bodied, this red wine is round, smooth, balanced and flavourful. Quite lush dark berry and plum flavours wash across the palate, supported by the subtle structure of well-integrated tannins and fine acidity. Notes of sweet baking spice and toasty oak garnish the fresh, round, fruity finish. Deftly crafted and an excellent value.
Château Hauchat 2010
AOC Fronsac, France
$14.95 (Vintages #123489) 13.5% alcohol
This fragrant, dry, medium-full bodied Merlot-domianted red wine is a remarkable value! There’s complexity on the nose—red and black fruit, spice, vanilla and mineral. On the palate, there’s a fine marriage of firm tannins, plum and cherry/berry fruit, and fresh acidity, while lovely spicy notes and nuances of mineral and toast carry through the dry finish. A few bottles are in order for meals featuring robust red meats.
Nuova Cappelletta Barbera del Monferrato 2010
DOC Barbera del Monferrato, Italy
$16.95 (Vintages #719518) 14.0% alcohol
This is a reliably good producer known for its commitment to biodynamic agriculture. The red wine doesn’t disappoint, with lovely floral aromas, red fruits, spice and a touch of vanilla. Dry, medium bodied, sweet spice and vanilla replay, combining with flavours of red berries and kirsch. The wine is subtly yet firmly structured and beautifully balanced, offering a touch of warmth on a long mouth-watering finish. A great choice for mushroom arrosto with roast pork.
Grand Total: $99.70
Kevin Panagapka - the man behind 2027 Cellars has been a viticulturalist and winemaker ‘in the making’ for most of his life. His father, Don, has been making wines, winning wine competitions, and judging wines for decades. Surrounded by wine during his childhood, it was only natural for Kevin to be at his Dad’s side helping out
Then came time for his formal training. Kevin completed the Viticulture and Oenology program at Niagara College in 2002, then jumpstarted his winemaking career at Niagara’s Creekside Estate Winery and Flat Rock Cellars. In 2006, already dreaming of creating his own wines, Kevin travelled to New Zealand to participate in a harvest and helping out at Esk Valley Winery in Hawkes Bay, New Zealand.
You won’t find 2027 Cellars on a wine route map
Research and his international experience led Kevin to establish 2027 Cellars - a virtual winery. What is a virtual winery you ask? Essentially, it is a winery within a winery. By sharing space & equipment at Featherstone Estate Winery where he is the assistant winemaker, Kevin has made a business arrangement with Featherstone’s owners – David Johnson & Louise Engel – to make wines at their facility under a different brand and name. This enables Kevin to realize his dream of his own winery with low capital costs and also allows for Kevin to cultivate and harvest grapes from select mature vineyards owned by other wineries or grape growers in distinct Niagara sub-appellations. This approach underlies Kevin’s philosophy of winemaking - to meticulously manage the vineyards so that his small batch of handcrafted wines express the unique varietal character and distinct terroir of each vineyard. You will see what we mean when you have a sip of the outstanding wines in this month’s Savvy Selections. For starters, you will notice that the labels identify the vineyard name where Kevin sourced the grapes for the specific wine.
What does 2027 mean?
Kevin intentionally focuses on the three renowned international grape varieties that he feels are ideally suited to the Niagara climate - Riesling, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Together with his wife, Jodie, they purchased a small property on the Beamsville Bench, where they grow Pinot Noir. The winery name? The answer lies with the purchase of the land. When the vineyard was registered with the Grape Growers of Ontario, it was assigned number 2027!
In your Savvy Selections, you will find:
We’re on the cusp of spring with this March Savvy Selection, and Kevin’s focused portfolio gives us the opportunity to present some clean, fresh wines that will brighten your palate and lift your spirits. Our tasting has assured that you have the opportunity to taste one of each of the grape varieties he cultivates, including:
Foxcroft Vineyard Riesling VQA 2011 – a fragrant, fruity, well-balanced white wine
Foxcroft Vineyard Chardonnay VQA 2011 – just bottled in time for the March Savvy Selections, this wine is complex, creamy & lush – simply elegant!
Queenston Road Vineyard Pinot Noir VQA 2010 - dry, silky classic Burgundian-style red wine
You won’t find these wines at the LCBO
We have noticed that 2027 Cellars has a ‘cult following’. The wines are hard to come by, primarily because Kevin makes small batch wines (winespeak: low inventory of wine). This also results in his wines quickly selling out! After you enjoy these wines & would like additional bottles of your favorite, just give me a call on 613-SAVVYCO (728-8926) or send me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org As always, it would be my pleasure to arrange a delivery for you.
Cheers & Enjoy!
Presented by Sommelier Susan Desjardins
As mentioned earlier, Kevin’s father - Don - is a well known amateur winemaker. Don is a member of the Kitchener Waterloo Winemakers Guild and was recognized with a lifetime achievement award from the Amateur Winemakers of Ontario. Kevin (in photo left) has great memories of working with his dad in the basement, or should I say ‘cellar’, in the family home. “My Dad never had enough hands when it came to bottling. It seems I’ve been around wine for most of my life!”, recalls Kevin. Early on in life, Kevin developed an interest in Burgundy, France and the wines from this famous region. “As winemakers, we tend to fall into one category - blends or not. Personally, I prefer to focus on single variety wines (winespeak: wines made with only one grape variety), explains Kevin.”
Wine that speaks from its roots
Kevin has a clear passion for wine that speaks to its roots.” I have always believed that great wines are grown, not made and that quality fruit produces quality wines. My interest is in varieties that showcase terroir and I enjoy investigating the differences between the various vineyards from which I source my fruit.” he comments. “It also ties into the 'wild fermentation' and 'unfiltered' wine style of the Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. It's what makes winemaking and viticulture interesting for me, keeps me engaged in the process from start to finish.”
Precise & specific
Kevin is very precise in the criteria he looks for in the vineyards and vines he sources. “I look for quality vineyards that are at least 10 years old. I buy specific rows and manage the cropping levels, leaf removal and general care of all the vineyard blocks. This allows me to control the quality of the wines from the beginning of the season in the vineyard, through harvest and the winemaking process.” Kevin sources only Weiss 21-B clone Riesling from the Niagara Escarpment Bench sites, which produces a lovely aromatic quality in the wine. His Chardonnay is sourced from Lincoln Lakeshore and Twenty Mile Bench sub appellations, while the Pinot Noir comes from the Twenty Mile Bench and St. David’s Bench. Why does Kevin focus on these three varieties? “They seem best suited to our climate, as these are the varieties that can be counted on to ripen fully every year in Niagara.”
Both the Riesling and the Chardonnay are from the Foxcroft Vineyard, which is located on the lower portion of the Twenty Mile Bench sub appellation, offering slightly warmer summer temperatures. As Kevin indicated, “the fruit from this site tends to ripen earlier than the higher elevation sites, producing a perfect balance between ripe fruit and vibrant acidity.” The soils in this area include deep clay and till and display quite a variation in texture. Although they are well drained, their water-holding capacity is especially valuable in the warmer periods of the growing season when rainfall is limited. The Queenston Road vineyard is located in the sub appellation of St. David’s Bench in the Niagara-on-the-Lake region and is where the 9-year-old vineyard of Kevin’s Pinot Noir grows. This parcel of land benefits from gentle north-facing slopes, sheltered by the Escarpment. Good airflow ensures the vines benefit from the early onset of spring, while the deep, rich clay soils ensure the vines are well-anchored in the ground.
As a virtual winery, 2027 Cellars does not have its own winery or wine shop. Kevin recalls, “In 2007, I proposed the idea to Featherstone Estate Winery husband and wife owners, David Johnson and Louise Engle. Luckily, they were receptive to the idea, and they have been supportive ever since! I am very fortunate to have the opportunity to make wine at their facility.”
Kevin appreciates David & Louise’s commitment to sustainable agriculture, yet is also realistic about the challenges of growing quality fruit in Niagara. “There is alot of disease pressure here due to the humidity, so it’s very tough for wineries to establish viable organic or biodynamic grape-growing and winemaking processes. My focus is on quality fruit from producers who have the same high standards as I do.”
While naturally passionate about what he does, Kevin is modest about the success of his wines. His 2009 Foxcroft Vineyard Riesling took top honours at Ontario’s Cuvée Awards. When asked about this success, what does he say? “The awards have been good recognition for the brand. But I would really like people to judge the wines for themselves. If they enjoy the wine, I’ve done my job!”
So, while you have the opportunity to do just that through these Savvy Selections, if you find yourself in Niagara, you can stop in at Featherstone Estate Winery to taste 2027 wines, and if you’d like a tour contact Kevin directly email@example.com
Cheers & Enjoy your Savvy Selections!
~ SAVVY SOMMELIER TASTING NOTES ~
Produced from the fruit of 15-year-old vines, this Riesling was fermented in stainless steel and bottled early to preserve its aromatic intensity & crispness.
Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: Brilliant straw/green in colour, this fragrant wine offers complex aromas—jasmine, orchard & stone fruit, citrus, mineral and a touch of mango. Dry, silky, flavours of key lime and orchard fruit marry with a kick of lively acidity, creating a clean, tangy finish.
Suggested Food Pairing: A versatile wine, sip it or pair with seafood or simply prepared chicken or pork.
Cellaring: Enjoy it now or cellar 3-5 years!
Produced from hand-harvested grapes, this Chardonnay was barrel fermented with wild yeast strains. As only 78 cases of the wine were produced, we’re fortunate to include this newly released wine for you & all of our Savvy Selections subscribers!
TIP: If you like this wine & want to order more, be sure to contact me pronto….this wine has limited inventory & will sell out fast!
Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: We were the first to sample this wine! It was bottled only a few days prior to the Savvy Selections panel tasting. Nevertheless, this wine showed its full potential.
Subtle aromas of toasted nut, butter and pear mingled with tropical notes suggesting pineapple and banana flambée. Elegant, mid-full weight, it’s creamy on the palate offering flavours of caramel apple, pear crisp, and toasted nut. Well balanced and lush, it gently warms the palate with delicate notes of white pepper that linger through the finish.
Suggested Food Pairing: Enjoy with creamy pasta dishes, baked ham or roast chicken.
Cellaring: The wine will have experienced bottle shock, so we advise to let the wine rest for a month or so before serving or cellar 3-5 years.
Fermented using only naturally occurring wild yeasts, this alluring Burgundian-style wine was aged in seasoned French oak for 14 months, and is neither fined nor filtered.
Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: Garnet hued, dry and silky, the wine has a plethora of aromas—cherry/berry, earth, vanilla, a touch of red licorice and notes of toasted marshmallow. Medium bodied, the bright red berry flavours wrap around a backbone of fine acidity and fine-grained tannins, overtones of pepper and spice flowing through the long dry finish.
Suggested Food Pairing: Serve with roasted duck, planked salmon or braised chicken.
Cellaring: Drinks well now, it will also cellar 5-7 years.
~ Recipes to Enjoy with your Savvy Selections ~
From Cooking with BC Wine, Townsin, T & C.
¾ white wine
2 Tbsp butter
1 small carrot, chopped
½ onion, chopped
1 bay leaf
½ tsp dried thyme
15 large raw shrimp, unpeeled
½ C flour
4 C chicken or fish stock
2 Tbsp cream
Melt butter in a heavy pan over medium heat. Sauté carrot & onion with bay leaf & thyme until vegetables are soft. Add white wine and shrimp & poach for 8-10 minutes. Remove shrimp from pan & set aside.
Peel 8 shrimp, reserving shells. Dice the meat & set aside for garnish. Put the shells & the remaining unshelled shrimp in a food processor & blend into paste.
Slowly stir the shrimp paste into the poaching liquid then add the flour & mix well. Add the stock & return to boil, then simmer for 15 minutes. Strain soup through a sieve & then cheesecloth before adding cream & reheating.
Serve into individual bowls & then add diced shrimp meat to garnish.
Linguine with Pears & Gorgonzola
From Epicurious.com (from Bon Apetit Magazine)
¼ cup butter
4 firm pears (about 2 lbs.), peeled, cored, sliced into 1/3 inch-thick strips
1 scant Tbsp chopped fresh rosemary
1 cup canned low-salt chicken broth
4 oz. Gorgonzola cheese, crumbled (or to taste)
¾ cup grated Parmesan cheese
½ cup whipping cream
¾ lb. linguine, freshly cooked
1/3 cup chopped pecans, toasted
Melt butter in a heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Add pears & sauté until tender & beginning to brown but not soft, about 8 minutes. Using slotted spoon, carefully transfer pears to bowl.
Add rosemary to same skillet & stir until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add broth, Gorgonzola cheese, ½ C parmesan cheese & cream. Simmer until sauce thickens enough to coat spoon, whisking occasionally, about 6 minutes. Return pears & any accumulated juices to sauce. (Can be made 2 hrs ahead. Let stand at room temperature. Bring to simmer before continuing.
Add linguine & pecans to sauce. Toss over medium-low heat until sauce coats pasta, about 3 minutes. Season to taste with salt & pepper. Transfer to large bowl. Sprinkle with remaining ¼ cup grated parmesan cheese.
From epicurious.com (from The Silver Palate Cookbook)
4 chickens, 2 ½ lbs each, quartered (or skinless chicken thighs)
1 head of garlic, peeled & finely pureed
¼ cup dried oregano (or to taste)
Coarsely ground salt & pepper to taste
2 ½ cups red wine vinegar
½ cup olive oil
1 cup pitted prunes
½ cup pitted Spanish green olives
½ cup capers with a bit of juice
½ cup brown sugar
1 cup white wine
¼ cup Italian parsley (or fresh coriander), finely chopped
Preheat oven to 350F.
In a large bowl combine chicken quarters (or thighs), garlic, oregano, pepper & salt to taste, vinegar, olive oil, prunes, capers & juice, and bay leaves. Cover & let marinate, refrigerated, overnight.
Arrange chicken in a single layer in one or two shallow baking pans & spoon marinade over it evenly. Sprinkle chicken pieces with brown sugar & pour white wine around them.
Bake for 50-60 minutes, basting frequently with pan juices. Chicken is done when thigh pieces, pricked with a fork at their thickest, yield clear yellow (rather than pink) juice.
With a slotted spoon transfer chicken, prunes, olives & capers to serving platter. Moisten with a few spoonfuls of pan juices & sprinkle generously with parsley or cilantro. Pass remaining pan juices in a sauceboat.
Enjoy your Savvy Selections!
The California Wine Fair is visiting Canada this spring with stops in Toronto (April 8, the Fairmont Royal York) & Ottawa (April 5, Westin Ottawa). Always a sell out, we recommend that you don’t miss this opportunity to enjoy a huge assortment of the newest wines & styles coming from the west coast wine regions.
Cutting-Edge California trends
To prep you for the California Wine Fair, March is the feature month for California wines in the LCBO. To kick it all off, this weekend's LCBO Vintages release focusing on ‘Cutting-Edge California’ trends. The Wine Institute of California has identified some of the evolving trends, including emerging regions and varietals, as well as more extensive use of environmentally friendly practices, such as dry farming, which relies only on rainfall and fog.
The new generation of California winemakers and grape growers is strongly committed to sustainable agriculture, which has become a common approach for California producers determined to preserve the quality of their vineyards and the state’s water resources. California is blessed with a wide range of growing conditions thanks to its varied topography, proximity to the Pacific Ocean and diverse soil conditions. As a result, grapes produced from international varieties such as Riesling Gewürztraminer, Merlot and Tempranillo are now appearing on California wine labels, while lesser known regions such as Mendocino and Napa’s Lake County are introducing wine from varieties long grown in California, such as Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinot Noir.
Must try California wines ....
I'd recommend in this release to seek out the classic Chardonnays, a Gewürztraminer from Monterey County, a unique blend of Viognier, Verdelho, Sauvignon Blanc and Vermentino from Paso Robles. When it comes to red wines, try the organic Pinot Noir from Bonterra, Napa classics such as Frog’s Leap Cabernet Sauvignon, or a Vintages favorite, Liberty School Syrah.
... there are Italian wines featured too!
The secondary feature of this release draws attention to the native grapes of Italy’s southern mainland and the islands of Sardinia and Sicily, including wines produced from white grapes varieties such as the well-known Verdicchio, and from red wine varieties such as Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, Nero d’Avola, Cannonau di Sardegna (Grenache) and Italy’s noble southern grape, Aglianico.
Other wines to consider adding to your shopping cart - a lovely Pinot Gris from Malivoire, a fabulous Gamay Noir from Tawse, an award-winning Alsatian Pinot Blanc from Jean Geiler (only $14.95!), as well as Piñol’s Ludovicus, a Grenache blend and outstanding value at just $13.95.
There were so many great wines in this release that it made it difficult for me to keep within my $100 budget —I am over by 75 cents – no pennies required!
Cheers and Enjoy!
Paso Robles, California
$18.95 (Vintages #313460) 14.2% alcohol
This assemblage of Viognier, Verdelho, Sauvignon Blanc and Vermentino offers great complexity and style. It’s perfumed and aromatic, displaying floral notes, passion fruit, citrus, mango and stone fruit. Dry, medium bodied, creamy and rich in texture yet lively on the palate, the harmony of the fruit flavours replays and amplifies through the crisp finish. Lovely integration, balance, flavour and texture. Enjoy as a sipper or with light fare.
Mendocino County, California
$19.95 (Vintages #317685) 14.1% alcohol
Here’s another great example of the flavourful organic wines Bonterra has been producing for years. Enticing aromas of red cherry/berry fruit, sweet spice and a touch of toast rise from the glass. Dry, silky, the luscious core of ripe fruit mingles with notes of milk-chocolate-coated cherries and vanilla, the sweet spice and toast replaying. A very approachable wine, balanced and flavourful, it has the heft to pair with roast beef tenderloin with root vegetables.
DOC Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, Italy
$17.95 (Vintages #61706) 14.0% alcohol
Inky, opaque and intensely aromatic, this is a stunning wine and a great value. Notes of plum, blueberry, pipe tobacco and vanilla tease the nose. On the palate, it’s dry yet velvety, mid-full weight, rich in dark fruit that’s framed by fine-grained tannins. There’s a freshness complementing the ripe fruit, while notes of espresso bean and a hint of earth linger on the finish. Serve with meat-based pasta.
VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario
$24.95 (Vintages #149179) 14.0% alcohol
Here’s finely crafted assemblage of Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot offering alluring aromas of fully ripened red and black fruits, baking spice, pepper and a whiff of smoke. Dry, medium-full bodied, the texture is velvety, the tangy flavours of black cherry, cassis and raspberry mingling with notes of spice, dried herbs and toasty oak. Soft ripe tannins and fresh acidity underpin the ripe fruit, lending fullness to a persistent warm finish graced with notes of spice and pepper. Pair with rare roast beef. It’s sold out at the winery, so don’t miss this opportunity!
Barossa Valley, Australia
$18.95 (Vintages #295907) 14.5% alcohol
Classic Shiraz from a reputable and reliable producer equals great value! Savour the high-toned aromas of black berry, kirsch, smoke, crushed pepper and sweet spice. Dry, full bodied, the wine offers a rush of intense, concentrated dark fruit and black pepper, along with a subtle earthy quality and notes of char. This is a big, powerful, well-balanced wine, well structured with a lasting fruity-filled finish.
Grand Total: $100.75
Got the urge to splurge?
Napa Valley, California
$56.95 (Vintages #932400) 13.9% alcohol
This is a powerful, complex cellar-worthy wine, inky purple and enticing with its layers of aromas and flavours—hints of menthol, lavender, dried herbs, cedar, cassis, black cherry and smoke. Dry, full bodied, firmly structured, it displays a clean tangy texture and a concentrated core of full-flavoured fruit. Finishing dry and long, it’s your wine of choice for rare red meats.