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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,
Kim Crawford 'East Coast' Unoaked Chardonnay 2012
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
For information on these and other wines go to www.savvycompany.ca
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 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
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.
Savour Ottawa recently hosted a number of intrepid local farmers, winemakers and micro brewers at the Château Laurier, who came out, despite the inclement weather, to introduce residents and visitors alike to their products.
Savour Ottawa is a collaboration among Ottawa Tourism, the City of Ottawa, and Just Food working to promote the national capital region as a year-round culinary destination, offering extensive and varied opportunities to ‘savour’ local foods grown, harvested and produced right here in our own back yard.
The event at the Château Laurier provided the opportunity to visit with the owners and taste the wines of two local wineries: Jabulani Vineyard & Winery, located southwest of Ottawa near Richmond, and Domaine Perrault, located east of the city, near the town of Navan. In both cases, the wineries grow their own hybrid grapes – hardy varieties such as Frontenac, Marquette – and use grapes from specific Niagara growers with whom they have an ongoing relationship. Their wine is available only directly from the farm. Should you be interested in acquiring some of these wines, contact us at Savvy Company.
Domaine Perrault is located on a dairy farm owned and operated by Denis Perrault and his family. Denis first planted vines in 1999, in consultation with a University of Guelph viticultural expert. A few years later, he extended the planting to 6 acres, and in 2006 received his license to produce and sell wine on the farm premises. When I asked if he was the winemaker, Denis’ response was “No, I’m just the owner”. A modest man, he credits his current winemaker, local oenologist Bernard Martineau, for the quality and style of the Domaine Perrault wines. The winery offers a range of wines, including varietal wines such as Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio, Cabernet Franc, Shiraz and Frontenac, as well as rosé and a dessert wine called Nectar des Neiges.
Domaine Perrault Sauvignon Blanc 2011
Product of Canada $16.00 12.6% alcohol
Vinified from Niagara fruit, this straw-hued white wine offers attractive aromas of grass, herbs, citrus and mineral. Dry, light-mid weight, the fresh flavours include citrus, orchard fruit and a touch of mineral underlaid by clean crisp acidity that assures a bright tasty finish. Serve it with coquille St-Jacques or with soft cheeses.
Domaine Perrault Shiraz 2010
Product of Canada $24.00 13.5% alcohol
Also produced from Niagara fruit, this approachable wine was aged 6 months in seasoned French oak. There’s sweet ripe red and black berry on the nose, mingling with notions of sweet spice, vanilla and pepper. Dry, mid-weight, it’s round and satiny in texture, spiced vanilla replaying, wrapped around delicious blackberry and raspberry flavours. Pepper warms the lengthy flavourful finish.
According to Wikipedia, jabulani is the Zulu word for ‘rejoice’ and the owners, Tom Moul and his wife Janet, no doubt did when their search for a suitable site for a vineyard and winery led them to their property by the Jock River. They found it flourishing with apples, berries and wild grapes, giving them hope for success in their wine venture. Research on suitable grape varietals led them to the University of Minnesota and eventually to grape guru Alain Breault. They have now planted 11 acres to a variety of hybrid grapes including Frontenac Gris and Marquette. They also source grapes from a contract grower in Virgil, in the Niagara area. Visit their wine patio overlooking the vineyard, take a tour, or book a private event and enjoy, as their website suggests “The Spirit of Happiness”.
Jabulani Frontenac Gris/Vidal 2011
Product of Canada $11.00 13.0% alcohol
Enjoy the floral notes and aromas of stone fruit and tangerine of this dry yet fruity wine. On the slightly honeyed palate, there’s a whiff of mineral while stone fruit and citrus flavours replay balanced by fresh acidity and a touch of residual sugar through a mid-length finish. An enjoyable quaffer.
Jabulani Sauvignon Blanc/Frontenac Gris 2011
Product of Canada $14.00 13.5% alcohol
Displaying grassy notes, citrus and citrus zest, this dry, mid-weight wine is crisp and tangy, with notes of passionfruit and citrus ringing through a lively, lasting pithy finish where mineral and citrus zest cleanse the palate. Serve with pan-fried white fish.
Jabulani Marquette/Cabernet Franc ‘Barrel Select’ 2010
Product of Canada $18.00 15.5% alcohol
Aged 18 months in new French oak, this deep ruby red wine offers some classic Cab Franc aromas—floral, grilled herbs, pepper and dark berries. Dry, mid-full weight, it’s firmly structured with fine-grained tannins and fresh acidity framing rich dark fruit garnished with notes of cocoa, spice and pepper. The extended finish is dry and savoury. Match to rare roast beef or grilled red meats.
Our Sommelier Susan Desjardins started her year off right - tasting an array of Spanish wines and was treated with some wines from BC too. In this weekend's LCBO Vintages release (January 19) features on the wines of Spain - a country that as Susan tells you in this blog - has a long history of winemaking, varied terroir, and winemakers who work with traditional native grapes while also creating powerful blends using international varieties.
History of Spanish wine making 101 . . .
Archeologists have found evidence of wine cultivation dating back to the 3rd and 4th millennia BC. And the tradition carried on through the Roman empire, with evidence of winemaking in this period to be found throughout the country. Much of Spain is barren plateau, where strong winds, scorching sun and limitations on irrigation led to the cultivation of bush vines. These can be seen, for instance, in Jumilla and Yecla, where one finds many vineyards displaying old, gnarled Monastrell vines. These conditions have led to widely spaced planting, making Spain the country with the largest amount of land under vine, although it traditionally falls behind France and Italy in volume of production. However, since irrigation was officially permitted in the mid 1990s, vineyard owners and winemakers have also planted international grapes varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot using more common wire trellising and spacing systems. There’s great value to be had from Spanish wines, and a delightful range to choose from: finely crafted ‘methode traditionelle’ sparkling Cava, crisp tangy whites made from Albariño, full-bodied Tempranillo or flavourful native Mencía, tasty Garnacha blends, and the famed Sherry from Jerez.
All of these are on offer in the release, along with a small but focused selection of BC wines (I have visited all of these wineries and unreservedly recommend their wines, if your budget allows). Then, there is the main release . . . an opportunity to compare Henry of Pelham’s Riesling with that of Alsace’s Joseph Cattin, to sample Opawa’s well-priced New Zealand Pinot Noir, to enjoy the luxurious Cline Cellars Cashmere, or to select Les Hauts de Castellas Vacqueyras for the cellar. So many wines, so little time, but we hope you have the opportunity to appreciate the selection of 5 wines below.
Cheers and Enjoy,
Alvarez de Toledo Godello 2010
DO Bierzo, Spain
$13.95 (Vintages #308049) 12.4% alcohol
From an estate established in the XVth century, this straw-hued white wine offers richness and complexity of aromas and flavours. On the nose, a touch of slate, apple, ripe citrus and floral notes. Dry, mid-weight, it beguiles with a round, ripe texture, lightly spiced peach, citrus and mineral nuances riding a wave of fresh acidity through a flavourful, fruity finish. Enjoy now and add a few bottles for the short-term cellaring.
VQA Okanagan Valley, B.C.
$19.95 (Vintages #321588) 12.6% alcohol
Brilliant pale gold, this wine is fragrant with floral notes, lychee, stone fruit, citrus and spice. Off dry, lusciously fruity, the tropical aromas replay on the palate, the spice extending through the fruit-filled, delicately pithy finish. This pioneering Okanagan winery once again delivers a sumptuous wine to pair with lightly spiced dishes.
Borsao ‘Tres Picos’ Garnacha 2010
DO Campo de Borja, Spain
$19.95 (Vintages #273748) 14.5% alcohol
Produced from low yielding old vines, the inky dense color of the wine portends the weight and substance in the glass. First the sweet aromas—vanilla, cedar, leather, spice and berries ripe to bursting. Dry, velvety and full bodied, this wine delivers a mouthful of juicy ripe fruit garnished with exotic spice, dried herbs and subtle oak. Soft ripe tannins underpin the fruit, the richness of the flavours persisting through the lengthy finish. A great value to enjoy now or cellar medium term.
Jackson-Triggs ‘Niagara Estate Grand Reserve’ Shiraz 2010
VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario
$19.95 (Vintages #317941) 13.5% alcohol
Inky ruby, this is a substantial wine with alluring aromas of mint, pepper dancing over rich ripe red and black fruit. Dry, full bodied, the menthol comes through on the palate mingling with succulent spiced black fruit, a hint of coffee bean and a dazzling peppery note. Fermented in French and American oak for 12 months, the firm structure complements the ripe fruit, while the peppery garnish persists on the finish. A fine value to serve with rare roast beef, or cellar medium term.
AOC Puisseguin St-Émilion, France
$19.95 (Vintages #307140) 14.5% alcohol
From a celebrated vintage, this is another award-winning wine that offers great value. Aromas include ripe black cherry, plum, spice and a whiff of smoke. Dry, medium-full bodied, the texture is very smooth, the red fruit ripe, the notes of spice and pepper building across the palate. Fine tannins and acidity along with subtly-integrated oak balance the rich fruit flavours, while the warm, spicy finish makes this a great wine to serve on a cold winter day. Or cellar medium term.
Grand Total: $93.75
Worth the splurge:
Mission Hill ‘Family Estate’ Quatrain 2008
VQA Okanagan Valley, BC
$44.95 (Vintages #218636) 13.5% alcohol
This blend of Merlot, Syrah and the Cabernets is composed from some of the estate’s best south-Okanagan fruit, fermented separately, aged in French oak. Highly aromatic and intense, the nose offers boysenberry, black cherry, spiced floral notes, and sweet cedar. Built on a firm frame, this dry, full-bodied blend delivers depth and complexity, flavours of cassis, black plum, spice and herbs with notes of toast carrying through the long finish. Serve with robust meat dishes; drink now to 2019.
It’s become a bit of a tradition that the first LCBO Vintages release of the year features well-priced, value-laden wines. The release this Saturday, January 5, is no exception, and includes wines from near and far, with well-known and more obscure grape varieties in the mix. There are a range of white and red wines, some very affordable sparkling wines, as well as some producers being featured for the first time in Vintages. For great quality and flavour choose sparkling wines such as the Duran Brut Cava or the Bouvet Brut Crémant de Loire. There are a couple of great Ontario white wines, the pretty peach-tinged Trius Pinot Grigio and the weightier but well-balanced Jackson Triggs Proprietors`Grand Reserve Chardonnay, included in the selection below. For value among the reds, try the Vincentin Blend de Malbecs, the Luis Felipe Edwards Gran Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon or the El Molet Tinto. For the adventurous, Ravenswood offers a delicious Petite Syrah. And if you`re looking for an organic red wine, you`ll enjoy the Dieter Meier Puro Corte. Finally, if you`re desperate for a value-packed wine to assuage your sweet tooth, pick up the Sivipa Vinho Generoso Moscatel de Setúbal. Enjoy this selection of wines, totally well under $100 and all less than $20 apiece!
Cheers and best wishes for a great 2013,
Trius Pinot Grigio 2011
VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario
$15.95 (Vintages #316414) 12.7% alcohol
This is a very appealing wine, from the delicate peach-skin hue to the lifted floral, pear and stone fruit aromas. Fruity yet fresh, it delivers a lovely balance of lemon-lime acidity and ripe peach and apricot flavours. Quality and value wrapped in a fine package, this wine is delightful on its own, or savour it with fish, seafood or simply prepared chicken dishes.
Jackson-Triggs ‘Proprietors’ Grand Reserve’ Chardonnay 2011
VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario
$17.95 (Vintages #593996) 13.0% alcohol
Aged 5 months in French oak, this golden gem offers lovely buttery aromas and texture, notes of roast pear, banana and vanilla. Dry, mid-full weight, the focused flavours of spiced orchard fruit are balanced by lively acidity. There`s a nice heft to this wine, fine balance and structure, making it a match for crab cakes or creamy pasta dishes or a choice for mid-term cellaring.
Dieter Meier ‘Puro’ Corte 2010
$16.95 (Vintages #305094) 14.5% alcohol
Produced from a blend of organically grown Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, the aromas of this deftly crafted wine leap from the glass—rich dark fruit, floral notes, smoke, toast and spiced vanilla. Dry, mid-full weight, smooth yet freshly textured, plush fruit mingles with the sweet spice of well-integrated oak. Finishing dry and lengthy, the wine is, substantial, structured and well balanced. Serve with grilled meats or cellar medium term.
Ravenswood ‘Vintners Blend’ Petite Syrah 2009
$18.95 (Vintages #161554) 13.5% alcohol
A dense inky purple, this rendition of Petite Syrah offers layered aromas of lush black berry fruit, toasty oak, cocoa and vanilla. Dry, full bodied, and plush, the ripe dark cherry/berry fruit flows across the palate, suggestions of exotic spice, white pepper and chocolate adding to the delectable taste experience. It finishes long, sweetly fruity, yet balanced. A value-laden wine for a relaxing sip. Pick up a few bottles!
Luis Felipe Edwards ‘Gran Reserva’ Cabernet Sauvignon 2010
Colchagua Valley, Chile
$16.95 (Vintages #169847) 14.0% alcohol
Here’s a great value, deep garnet in hue, displaying lifted aromas of sumptuous black fruit, dried herbs, cedar and spice. Dry, full bodied, it delivers an ample, round texture. Aged 12 months in French and American oak, there a good underlying structure anchoring ripe fruit, appealing spice, herb and vanilla nuances. The finish is full, clean and fresh, fine earthy herbal notes lingering. Definitely a multi-bottle purchase.
Grand Total: $86.75
There is a myriad of wines out there, so it’s often a challenge deciding what to select when the LCBO Vintages catalogue comes out every two weeks or so. Like a kid in a candy shop, your attention darts from one treat to another, but what to choose . . . Something to serve to your guests this weekend? Something to put away for a special occasion? Something to store for a autumn afternoon?
I recognize that each person’s tastes and preferences are unique. “If I had $100 . . .”, will be posted just prior to LCBO Vintages releases and will highlight unique wines I have tasted that provide good value; the selection will total no more than $100.
Occasionally, I may include an optional wine – you can substitute or add it for a little more or a little less! Print this off as your shopping list knowing that these wines have been selected by a Savvy Sommelier who has sipped, savoured & swirled countless wines before they arrived on the shelves in Vintages. Hopefully you too will find a new favorite wine. And when you do, quickly save your pennies to buy a bottle or two more. Warning that once a wine is gone from a particular Vintages release, that vintage, and sometimes that wine, is gone for good!
The 9th edition of the Italian Trade Commission’s ‘Tasting of Wines from Italy’ was held in four Canadian cities this year, including Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto and Montreal. The Toronto edition featured over 80 wineries, represented by principals and their agents, offering anywhere from 4 to 8 wines to sample, as well as outstanding Italian food products (Parmigiano Reggiano, prosciutto, Parma ham, olives, etc.)
The Trade Commission’s goal is to facilitate and develop business trading relationships, encourage industrial and technical collaboration, and to propagate economic information throughout Italy and the world. The Commission places particular emphasis on promoting Italian agri-foods, especially those enjoying the DOP – denominazione di origine protteta – designation, these being the principal ambassadors of Italian gastronomy. The ‘Tasting of Wines from Italy’ one of several events the Commission organizes, focuses on familiarizing wine trade representatives in Canada with a wide range of Italian wineries and their products. Many of the wines are available through the LCBO in Ontario, while others are available only through the winery’s agent in Canada.
With so many wines, so little time, the biggest question is where to focus. I decided to concentrate on some estates I had visited in Tuscany, and to taste wines from a few other prominent Italian wine appellations.
DOCG Moscato d’Asti
$16.50 (179259) 5.0% alcohol
(March, 2, 2013 LCBO Vintages release)
Lovely light herbal notes, aromas of ripe grapes and honeyed stone fruit entice. Off-dry, light bodied, this is a delightful wine with a fine frothy effervescence and flavours of honeydew melon and lime-tinged stone fruit. Nicely balanced, it’s flavourful and sweetly fruity to the finish. Enjoy with as dessert, or with fruit flan, lemon chiffon pie or a white chocolate tart. Restaurants can purchase this for their wine list at $14.50.
Ca’ dei Mandorli Barbera d’Asti ‘La Bellalda’ Superiore 2009
DOCG Barbera $18.95 9(licensee price) 14.0% alcohol
Subtly alluring aromas lift from the glass—warm, ripe spiced berries and berries, vanilla and a whiff of chocolate. Dry, this is a nicely balanced mid-weight wine offering a lovely clean silky texture. Velvety tannins and fresh acidity complement a touch of peppery warmth and ripe spiced fruit, while a hint of vanilla lingers on the lasting finish. Try it with meat lasagna, beef stew or duck confit. This wine is available in Ontario as a private order from The Case for Wine. The 2010 Bellalda Barbera d’Asti was released through LCBO Vintages ($15.95, #264598) and is still available in limited quantities.
DOCG Piemonte $24.95 12.0% alcohol (LCBO Vintages release, Spring 2013)
Produced in the traditional method using Pinot Noir harvested from a hilltop estate vineyard in Piemonte, this salmon-hued sparkling wine offers subtle aromas of red fruits, apples and a hint of citrus. Dry, clean and crisp, the silky, persistent mousse carries delicate flavours of red fruit, a hint of peach and a touch of pithy citrus through a very attractive lively finish. Enjoy with smoked salmon appetizers or quiche, or with a medley of roasted root vegetables. Currently available from Authentic Wine & Spirits Merchants. Restaurants can purchase this for their wine list at $22.05.
DOCG Barbaresco $24.95 (155408) 14.0% alcohol
Ruby garnet, this wine offers lifted floral, ripe fruit and pipe tobacco aromas. Dry, mid-full weight, displaying a firm structure, it’s beautifully balanced, layering fresh red and black berries on subtle notes of earth, toast and spice. Finishing long and dry, this is an age-worthy wine that may be cellared long term or enjoyed now with mushroom risotto, lamb with truffles or eggplant parmigiana.
Marchesi di Barolo ‘Tradizione’ Barolo 2007
DOCG Piemonte $34.95 (168179) 14.0% alcohol
Semi-transparent garnet, this red wine offers enticing floral, vanilla and fruit aromas. Dry, powerful yet silky in texture, ripe tanins and fresh acidity create a subtle structure for the red fruit flavours. There’s complexity, with notes of vanilla, spice and tobacco mingling with a touch of coffee bean that extends through the lengthy finish. Well crafted, a good value, the 2006 is currently available through LCBO Vintages. Serve this age-worthy wine with veal chops with a tomato vegetable sauce or steak with a wild mushroom sauce or cellar long term.
Ornellaia le Volte 2010
IGT Toscana $29.95 (964221) 14.0% alcohol
Recently released through LCBO Vintages, le Volte is a blend principally of Merlot and Sangiovese with small amount of the Cabernets and Petit Verdot. There’s warmth on the nose, and aromas of berry fruit, spice and spring flowers. Dry, full bodied, it’s structured yet round. Perceptible tannins and fresh acidity frame flavours of blackberry and tangy red berry, notes of mint, coffee bean, spiced vanilla adding complexity. Finishing dry and toasty, this wine will cellar medium term, or may be served with stuffed red peppers or polpettini rifatti.
DOC Bolgheri $131.95 (51482) 14.0% alcohol
Among the ‘Festive Finds’ in the November 10 LCBO Vintages release, this iconic wine—a blend of Merlot and Cab Sauv with a touch of Cab Franc and Petit Verdot—entices with beguiling, complex aromas—mint, cedar, floral notes, blackberries, and exotic notes of dried herbs and dark chocolate cherries. Dry, full bodied and potent, this is a substantial wine with powerful fruit flavours carried on a firm, well-defined frame. The spicy, herbal notes replay, with traces of charry toast persisting on the extended dry finish. Decant and serve with chicken cacciatore or beef tenderloin with a wild mushroom sauce, or cellar long term.
DOCG Chianti Classico $18.95 (741769) 13.5% alcohol
This Sangiovese, spiked with a touch of Merlot, offers slightly floral notes with aromas and flavours of clean fresh berry and sweet spice. Dry, mid-weight, it has a fresh texture, perceptible tannins and overtones of toasty oak that follow through on the dry finish. Serve this wine with antipasto or Taleggio cheese.
Rocca delle Macie Chianti Classico ‘Reserva Familia Zingarelli’ 2008
DOCG Chinati Classico $21.95 (930996) 14.5% alcohol (LCBO Vintages release, February 2013)
Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot add complexity to the aromas—warm ripe fruit, subtle herbs, spice and hints of tobacco and cedar. Herbal notes, spice, a certain earthiness layer on red cherry and black currant, all framed by fine subtle structure. A notion of minerality drifts across the palate of this dry, mid-full weight wine. Hints of coffee bean linger on the dry, lengthy finish. Serve with herbed leg of lamb or cellar medium term.
IGT Toscana $14.95 13.5% alcohol
A blend of 60% Sangiovese and 40% Syrah, this is a fun fruity wine loaded with sweet plummy fruit and pepper, graced by an underlying floral note. Displaying an appealingly smooth texture, the lush black fruit is balanced by fine acidity and garnished by notes of toasty oak. Nicely balanced, plush and tasty, this is a real crowd pleaser and a fine value! Sip on its own or serve with a meat-based pasta. Available in Ontario via private order from Noble Estates Wines & Spirits.
Ruffino ‘Ducale Oro’ Chianti Classico Riserva 2007
DOCG Chianti Classico $43.95 (353201) 13.5% alcohol
From an excellent vintage, celebrating its 60th anniversary, this signature Chianti Classico offers weight and depth of flavour. Lifted aromas of ripe fruit, exotic spice and a certain earthiness entice. Dry, mid-full weight, this wine delivers complexity, well-integrated oak and warm, mouthfilling ripe fruit flavours with notes of dark chocolate and spiced vanilla. Clean and crisp, subtle yet powerful, it lasts on the finish and will do so in the cellar. Savour with roast beef or lamb.
DOCG Montalcino $49.95 14.0% alcohol
Complex, subtle aromas tantalize—tobacco , earth, red fruit, cassis and exotic spice. Dry, full bodied, a certain minerality comes through on the palate, mingling with tangy red fruit, spiced cocoa and herbs. Clean crisp acidity and evident yet supple tannins provide structure and balance, creating an elegant wine with a smooth extended finish. Decant and serve with roast beef tenderloin with grilled root vegetables or age long term. This Brunello is under consideration by LCBO Vintages and is currently available by private order to licensees via Constellation Brands.
Tedeschi ‘Capitel Nicaló’ Valpolicella Superiore Appassimento 2010
IGT delle Venezie $15.95 (984997) 13.0% alcohol
The winemaking process allows the grapes to dry somewhat prior to pressing, creating more flavour intensity. There’s a slight pungency to the aromas—red fruits, dried cherries, herbal notes and a whiff of turned earth. Enjoy the lovely round texture, soft tannins and clean acidity of this mid-weight wine. Ripe fruit, spice and the slight bitterness of coffee bean tantalize the taste buds through the tasty finish. Serve with a meat-based pasta.
Tedeschi ‘Capitel San Rocco’ Valpolicella Superiore Ripasso 2010
DOC delle Venezie $18.95 (719294) 14.0% alcohol
Dark ripe fruit aromas mingle with toast, tobacco and herbs. Dry, mid-full weight, this wine is a fine marriage of supple tannins, fresh acidity and tangy cherry /berry fruit garnished with spice, herbs and pepper. Well-integrated oak offers a toasty note on the lasting dry finish. Enjoy with spaghetti Bolognese or a Sunday roast.