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Archive for ‘If I only had $100…I would buy these wines at LCBO Vintages’

If I only had $100…I would buy at Vintages

Posted by Julie

Friday, February 17th, 2017

Diverse discoveries is the theme of this Vintages release at the LCBO. Those that peaked my interest were wines from Israel with a feature of Kosher wines for Passover (which begins April 14th ). There some great wines coming from Israel with it’s Mediterranean climate and distinct wine growing regions. In fact, the wine industry is in Israel is skyrocketing. Flipping through the photos in the Vintages catalogue, it looks like any wine region – could even be mistaken for Ontario – with picturesque vineyards, barrel rooms, goat cheese dairies, even craft breweries.

Don’t think that wines from Israel are all for ceremonial purposes – for from it. They can be enjoyed by absolutely everyone. The LCBO carries over 60 Kosher wines & over 25 Mevushal wines, yet with the upcoming Passover celebrations, the store shelves will have even a greater selection of wines from this emerging wine country. It is time to give them a try!

And now for trivia…

Did you know that the Israeli wine industry was founded by Baron Edmond James de Rothschild, owner of the Bordeaux estate Château Lafite-Rothschild, in France?

Just like the box of chocolates there’s always something new to find.

L’chayim –  (a Hebrew toast “to life”),

– Julie

 

If I only had $100, I would buy . . .
LCBO Vintages Release for Saturday February 18, 2017

 

Recanati Chardonnay KP 2014

Upper Gallilee, Israel
$24.95 (Vintages #128322) 12.5% alcohol
Kosher for Passover, Non-Mevushal

Kosher wine is produced according to Judaism’s religious law and observant Jews must supervise the entire winemaking process. The fact that this wine also states that it is Non-Mevushal means exactly that, this wine has been made in the usual standard winemaking process, respecting the Kosher methodology. All Kosher wines – no matter where they are made in around the world, will bear on the label one or more of these symbols (left)– usually on the back label. Rest assured that Kosher wine is not really that different – all the more reason to buy this wine and enjoy the delicious discovery.

The grapes in this Chardonnay were hand-picked and vinified in French oak for 9 months. Aromas of caramel custard and flavours of tropical fruit dance on the palate. Rich and full-bodied tastes of baked pears and almonds make this one delicious easy sipping Chardonnay with a lingering finish of soft fruit.

Would make a beautiful partner with a “Sedar Plate Salad”, roasted chicken or pasta with a creamy sauce.

 


13th Street Winery Cabernet/Merlot 2013

VQA Niagara Peninsula
$19.95 (Vintages #56598) 13.5% alcohol

In my humble opinion, the 13th Street Winery has to be one of the loveliest wineries in the Niagara/Jordan region. Not only is there an art gallery but a bake shop beside the winery that has butter tarts to die for! Situated in a ravine like setting surrounded by statues & art, it is easy to spend hours here.

This beautiful red wine blend has violet and red fruit aromas that embodies a mélange of red & black currants that play on the palate. Medium bodied with soft tannins, this wine has texture and weight with some cedar on the finish. It’s an easy sipper or first class dinner partner for a roast beef with all the trimmings.

 

Finca Flichman Expresiones Reserve Shiraz/Cabernet Sauvignon 2014

Mendoza, Argentina
$15.95 (Vintages # 17111) 14.5 % alcohol

Bold, rich, dark and fruity with aromas that boasts nothing but berries. This nectar spent 12 months in French oak which gives it density, character and loads of sensual dark plums even over ripe blueberry flavours. Bone-dry and a full-bodied red wine that you would expect from Argentina, there’s some mocha and tobacco in the long finish.

Mark my words, this is my style of wine. With BBQed ribs it would make me very VERY happy with a BBQed dinner.

 


Oscar’s Estate Vineyard Shiraz/Viognier 2013

Barossa Valley, South Australia
Small Gully Wines
$18.95 (Vintages #287961) 15% alcohol

Loads of personality here. Heavy duty dark black fruit hits the nose and palate with some peppery savoury notes that command attention. A medium to full-bodied red wine, weighing in at 15% alcohol is a hefty kick with loads of creamy warm flavours that satisfy the aftertaste and make you long for another sip.

Luscious and ripe, the savoury notes at the end would make it a perfect pairing partner for a rack of lamb laden with rosemary and thyme and all the trimmings. It’ a kind of “stay at home in front of the fireplace” red wine where you can enjoy the rest of the bottle after dinner – absolute delicious.

 

Gérard Bertrand Grand Terroir Les Aspres Syrah/Mourvedre/Grenache 2013

AP Côtes du Roussillon Les Aspres, France
$18.95 (Vintages # 413245) 14% alcohol

 I don’t know anyone who cannot be lured by the heady fruit aromas of a GSM blend (winespeak GSM = red wine blend made with grape varieties – Grenache, Syrah and Mouvedre). This unusual blend is gaining in popularity and it is no coincidence that I have been featuring several bottles by winemaker Gérard Bertrand. His wines never disappoint.

Medium-bodied and dry, rich berries so lush this red wines reminds me of cherry pie filling with a little mocha and sweet spice on the finish. Well-structured with soft tannins. It is so juicy. Rabbit in a mustard sauce would be a powerful accompaniment in true French gastronomy style.

 

GRAND TOTAL = $99.75

If I only had $100…I would buy at Vintages

Posted by Julie

Friday, February 3rd, 2017

I’m never sure how LCBO Vintages team decides the country combo to feature every 2 weeks. For example, this release highlights are 3 – European Discovery, South Africa and Valentine’s. The latter is pretty obvious because Valentine’s Day comes every year and there aren’t many gifts better than a bottle of something special.

The pages depicting the European Discovery reminds me of a Riverboat brochure I recently picked up. I’m in Lalaland dreaming about sipping fine wines on the Rhine or Rhone or Nile Rivers.

And since South Africa is another dreamy travel destination for those of us still surviving the cold weather. I sort of get it. This release reminds me that I don’t have to go on a riverboat cruise to explore new wines. Discovering these wines regions at home is a fraction of the price…although South Africa is on my Bucket List!

Happy cruising or shopping,

Cheers!
-Julie

 

 

If I only had $100, I would buy . . .
LCBO Vintages Release for Saturday February 4, 2017

 

Dirty Laundry Say Yes Pinot Gris 2014

Okanagan Valley, BC
$19.95 (Vintages #423202) 12.7% alcohol

Always love finding a wine from British Columbia at Vintages! This white wine is a soft golden apple colour with enticing aromas of white blossoms and citrus. It’s a mouthwatering Pinot Gris with citrusy tangerine-lime overtones on the long fresh finish. It would be a crowd pleaser for sure and an easy wine to always say yes – more please, one delicious winner.

This crisp & refreshing white wine would pair nicely with creamy chicken dishes or white fish.

 

Barone Montalto Collezione Di Famiglia Viognier 2015

IGT Terre Siciliane, Italy
$15.95 (Vintages #435479) 12 % alcohol

A pale straw coloured gem with outstanding aromas of baked pears, melon, apricots and almonds that follow through on the palate. This medium-bodied white wine, is rich and juicy with a fabulous seam of acidity and lemon citrus in the long refreshing finish.

It would be a great luncheon wine with a grilled cheese on artisan bread or served with a quiche with goat’s cheese or sipped just on its own. Can’t wait to get one of these wines in my shopping basket.

 

Gérard Bertrand Cotes Des Rosé 2015

AP Languduedoc, France
$18.95 (Vintages #373985) 12.5% alcohol

Without explanation the bottle alone and dreamy pale pink colour markets itself just in time for Valentine’s Day. We all know Rosé is an all year round drink, but it is always a surprise (that creates a smile) when you are offered a glass of rose wine in February. Talk about blowing away the winter blahs and thinking of spring.

Fresh, pretty, clean and lively with some red berry undertones and a little lime zest on the smooth aftertaste. It is a crisp beauty in appearance and taste that triggers a reminder that summer will be here soon enough.

 


Flagstone Dragon Tree Cabernet Sauvignon/Shiraz/Pinotage 2013

WO Western Cape, South Africa
$16.95 (Vintages # 37549) 14.5% alcohol

 Made with predominantly Cabernet Sauvignon grapes, this is a fantastic red wine blend. Warm, ruby red rich in colour that has great complexity on the nose. At first, there is smoke and savoury aromas which are surprising since black ripe berries, and raspberries explode on the palate. There is alot of backbone, full-bodied and creamy in texture.

The lingering spicey fruit on the finish is amazing and a great price point – only $16.95) for a wine that is oh-so luscious. Serve with anything grilled and meaty for a spectacular match.

 

Domain Mega Spileo Red 2010

Peloponnese, Greece
$29.95 (Vintages # 466110) 14% alcohol

This bright ruby red coloured slightly unusual red wine in terms of taste, is comprised of 60% Mavrodafne (a black wine grape from the Achaea region, northern Greece) and 40% Mavro Kalavritino (a red grape variety also native to Greece). I thought it would be fun to feature a new to Vintages release from a relatively unfamiliar region.

Loads of cherries and red berry flavours, medium-bodied, noteable tannins and this red wine blend calls loudly for food. It’s tight but interesting, I found that the wine grew on me – I always went back for another taste.

There is a little coffee and spice on the finish. There’s lots going on (often called “strucutre”) between initial flavours and a smokey aftertaste. I make Moussaka once a year, and this would be a spectacular match with my recipe!

GRAND TOTAL= $101.75

 everyone can find a spare loonie and 3 quarters 🙂 

If I only had $100, I would buy….wines from Argentina!

Posted by Julie

Thursday, January 19th, 2017

This time last year, my husband and I spent a month in Buenos Aires, so when I saw that this release focused on Argentina, I was VERY excited to see what new wines would come into LCBO’s Vintages. Here are 3 wines from Mendoza (Argentina’s largest wine region) since it is the leader in quantity and quality of Malbec wines.

Three interesting facts Argentina & their wine:

Fact #1 – 80% of the country’s wine production is centered in this desert region located sandwiched between the Andes Mountain range (that borders Chile) and about 650 miles west of Buenos Aires. The region rarely sees challenges of insects, fungi or mould due to the high altitude and low humidity. And honestly, the daily temperatures ranged between 26C to 30C…that is certainly sounding pretty good right now as we suffer through a cold snap.

Fact #2 – In 2010, the Argentina government declared wine as Argentina’s national liquor. Tuck that one away for trivia night!

Fact #3 – Canada is the 3rd largest market for Argentina wines…behind England & the US.

As they say in Argentina ‘Salud’,

-Julie

 

If I only had $100, I would buy…
LCBO Vintages Release for Saturday January 21, 2017

 

Joseph Cattin Brut Rosé Crémant D’Alsace

Méthode Traditionnelle, AC, France
$19.95 (Vintages #264572)

Before I get into the Argentina feature, I must shine the spotlight on this sparkling wine.  Often found gracing the Vintages shelves, this beautiful pale cranberry coloured bubbly is always an elegant crowd-pleaser. For those of you who like sparkling wine and Rosé, it is a first class choice.

Made entirely from the Pinot Noir grapes, it’s characterised by cherry and currant flavours. It’s dry, creamy and refreshing. A perfect aperitif, celebration wine or even served with dessert – a strawberry cheesecake or fruit torte it could be magical. I’m definitely going to give it a try!  Now if I could only find juicy strawberries in January…

 

Colome Torrontes 2015

Calchaqui Valley, Salta, Argentina 
$15.95 (Vintages # 357913) 13.5% alcohol

Whenever I serve Torrontes wine to guests, people always ask what wine I am serving, where it comes from, where they can buy it. It is a great find! Often there are one or two Torrontes wines available in the Vintages section of the LCBO. While not common, Torrontes has become the signature white wine of Argentina.

Dry as Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Grigio, there’s a little lanolin or honeyed taste that coats the palate while many soft citrus flavours explode. Mandarin oranges, lemons, apricots with lingering finishes of savory and grass.

It’s a great tapas wine: sardines, almonds, olives, chips or just on its own.

 

Fabre Montmayou Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon 2014 

Mendoza, Argentina  
$18.95 (Vintages # 261891) 14.5% alcohol

Although Christmas is long gone, that heavenly aroma of traditional fruit cake and Christmas pudding loaded with dark ripe dried fruit and nuts reminded me of how great wine aromas like this one can trigger memories & fill your senses.

Medium bodied and dry, dark red/blackberry flavours dance on the palate and your senses are filled with some divine vanilla in the aftertaste.  It’s a great on its own or with the usual grilled fare.  Absolutely. Delicious.

 

Zuccardi Q Malbec 2013

Uco Valley, Province of Mendoza, Argentina
$19.95 (Vintages #723478) 14% alcohol

This is a classic expression of Malbec. Deep and dark in colour, violet aromas tantalize and blueberry blackberries and savoury play on the palate. Tannins are soft and smooth with a little mocha and tar on the finish.

Last month, Savvy Sommelier Debbie Trenholm spent a day at the new Zuccardi Winery and was WOWed by the setting, the vineyards,  the hospitality & of course…the wines.  “What impressed me is that the winery is using concrete tanks rather than the typical stainless tanks commonly used.  And there are only a few oak barrels in the cellar….the winemaking team at Zuccardi focuses on creating wines to bring out the natural flavours without the help of oak. That is incredible and the result is pure and outstanding.”

Uncork this red wine to enjoy with a herb encrusted pork tenderloin or Sunday roast beef. Guaranteed that there will be smiles around the table.

 

Susana Balbo Signature Cabernet Sauvignon 2014

Uco Valley, Province of Mendoza, Argentina
$19.95 (Vintages #260919) 14% alcohol 

With over 20 years as a consultant winemaker for national and international wine companies, when Susana decided to build a winery, she did in style and with much panache.  In 1981, she was the first woman in Argentina to receive a degree in enology, and in 2012, she was recognized as one of the most influential women winemakers by The Drink Business Magazine.

This Cabernet Sauvignon is one charmer from start to finish. Full-bodied, ripe currants, herbal notes, tobacco, savoury – loads of complexity and backbone. This red wine overflows with character and strength.  Roasts or grill meats & vegetables would be fabulous.

 

Grand Total – $ 94.75

TOP PICKS: 7 wines for under $15

Posted by Julie

Wednesday, January 11th, 2017

This Vintages release is guaranteed to  be pick-up for anyone with holiday hangovers & January blahs. The LCBO often kicks off the new year with a “Smart Buys 2017” edition with a fabulous assortment of tried and true wines for every palate and budget with great tastes around the $15 price point.

I vowed I would not go to the ATM before mid-January, but this is better than Boxing Day or Black Friday.Too many values to risk the miss. (try saying that after a few glasses !)

For the Scotch lovers, Robbie Burns Day is around the corner, but you don’t need expensive Scotch when you’ll find something delicious in my “budget-conscious” recommendations.

It is not often that I can offer you 7 wines with my $100 budget… so go wild.

Smart Buys here we come!

-Julie

 

 If I only had $100, I would buy…
LCBO Vintages Release for Saturday January 7, 2017

 

Marynissen Estates Chardonnay 2013

VQA Niagara Peninsula
$15.00 (Vintages #907683) 13% alcohol

Introducing a white wine with pale golden colour, light body, fresh and clean with soft blossom aromas. Must have been fermented in stainless as it’s almost flinty with minerality, baked pears, almonds a lingering touch of pineapple on the finish.

Perfect for lighter foods or would stand up to grilled cheese and simple salad – sounds like one great lunch to me!

 

Budureasca Feteasca Regala 2015

DOC Dealu Mare, Romania
$11.95 (Vintages #416800) 12% alcohol

I know we are in January, but this is what I’d call the perfect summer white wine. At this price point, I’ll be picking up a bunch of bottles!

Light and citrusy, loads of soft lemon flavours and one easy sipping wine. There’s little savoury notes on the finish (perhaps from the vineyard soils?). It’s fresh with a really easy mouthfeel that has lots of appeal at this rock bottom price tag.

 

MAN Free-Run Steen 2015

WO Coastal Region, South Africa
$13.95 (Vintages #126847) 13% alcohol

Does the grape variety Steen have you wondering what this wine is all about?  It is the name that the South Africans use for Chenin Blanc grapes.

Fresh, clean and crisp, this free-run style white wine is packed with fruit flavours.  There is no usual pressing of grape skins in the making of this beautiful wine.  The grapes are left intact to allow the weight of the bunches naturally crush to create juice and ferment for 3-4 months before bottling. A very hands-off winemaking approach that magically makes great wines like this one.  Open a bottle of this wine and you will enjoy a balanced full bodied white wine with lingering acidity.  Great on it’s own or it would hold up to chicken pot pie or even a spicy curry. Another great buy.

 

Heartland Stickleback Red 2013

Langhorne Creek, South Australia
$14.95 (Vintages #116574) 14.5% alcohol

Simply put, you cannot go wrong with a red wine blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz, Grenache and Merlot.  Unbelievable that it is under $15!  Black fruit flavours, plums and blueberries play on the palate and some savory pepper on the finish. Matured in oak which lends richness and texture to this dark delight.

Another easy sipping red wine on a cold wintery evening or to enjoy when you go under cover to fire up the BBQ in the winter for a feast of spicy ribs or steak!

 

Michelle Chiarol Barbera D’Asti Superiore 2014

DOCG, Italy
$13.95 (Vintages #265413) 13.5% alcohol

Some wines are just meant for the easy spaghetti night.  You know what I mean…those evenings when you just want to open up a jar of tomato sauce to smother on fresh pasta, then sprinkle freshly grated Parmesan cheese and open a bottle of easy drinking red wine.  This one has lots of red berry fruit – think raspberries & strawberries – it’s neither huge nor bold in taste and the finish is short, but it’s a great table wine for the simple nights where we can just enjoy an uncomplicated dinner.

And Mama Mia! Another wine under $15

 

The Goatfather 2014

WO Coastal Region, South Africa
$14.95 (Vintages #11072) 14% alcohol

You just have to love a South African wine (not to mention the name) that is made from various Italian grape varietals: Sangiovese, Barbera, Nebbiolo and Cabernet Sauvignon (the latter) from Stellenbosch. It’s a deep ruby red, hints of violet on the nose, loads of red fruit flavours, noticeable tannins that offer backbone to the wine.

It’s an easy going wine. I’d serve it up with cheeses, burgers, charcuterie.

 

Santa Carolina Reserva Estate Pinot Noir 2015

Leyda Valley, Chile
$12.95 (Vintages #480574) 13.5 % alcohol

It is no surprise that I selected this red wine from the 140 year old Santa Carolina vineyard wines especially with it being awarded Winery of the Year 2015. (I really like their whites too!). At this unbelievable price point, you have a Pinot Noir that offers a smooth, velvety mouthfeel, sweet and sour tart cherries, with noticeable ripe acidity and soft tannins that meld into a long fruity, earthy ending.

This is a delicious red wine that is hearty enough to stand up to a beef and mushroom stew or some sautéed salmon with dab of pesto.  A beaut of a wine!

 

Grand Total – $ 97.70 …and that is for 7 wines!

If I only had $100…I would buy at Vintages

Posted by Julie

Saturday, December 10th, 2016

Over the tree-top fitting that the mid-December Vintages release would be titled “Holiday Gatherings”. For many, December is the busiest month for entertaining. It’s a time to bring out all the bells and whistles and splurge on fine delicacies, stock up on great and extra wine to give and share.

december-vintagesThe LCBO helps with filling their store shelves with wines & spirits that will get you into the holiday mood.

There’s nothing nicer than enjoying a great bottle over late afternoon conversation with friends and family when they pop around.

This release has no shortage of fabulous wines, Champagnes, (I love bubbles!) and spirits to bring everyone comfort. My suggestions offer you a shopping list for your holiday gatherings.

As the song goes…”It is the most wonderful time of the year!”

Wishing you a Happy Festive Season,

Julie

 

If I only had $100, I would buy…
LCBO Vintages Release for Saturday December 10, 2016

 

elevationVineland Estates Elevation Riesling

St. Urban Vineyard, VQA Niagara Escarpment
$19.95 (Vintages #38117) 9.9% alcohol

Vineland has a handful of wines in the LCBO. This 30+ year old winery has many reasons to visit – its fine wines, a restaurant in a 1845 farmhouse surrounded by vineyards, a helicopter pad and even accommodation. Definitely a must visit.

The Riesling grapes in the St. Urban vineyard have been growing since 1979 so they’ve had lots of time to reach their identity. Pale, light and crisp white wine with a touch of effervescent on the palate, it offers loads of citrus and a hint of minerality, wonderfully acidic and well balanced. An afternoon delight on any occasion or with lighter fare, another lovely expression of one of Niagara’s signature grapes.

 

dandelion-vineyards-lionheart-of-the-barossa-shiraz-2014Dandelion Vineyards Lionheart of the Barossa Shiraz 2014

Barossa, South Australia
$21.95 (Vintages #167189) 14.5% alcohol

Inky dark, fruit driven, this bold beauty stands out in flavour. This red wine has loads of ripe blueberries, blackberries, noticeable tannins make for an award winning wine. It did win Platinum at the 2015 Critics Challenge International Wine Competition.

Incredibly well-structured with a woody spice box on the finish. Full-bodied and rich, it would be the perfect partner for a rack of lamb. Absolutely delicious.

 

zuccardi-serie-a-malbec-2014Zuccardi Serie A Malbec 2014

Mendoza, Argentina
$16.95 (Vintages #167619) 13% alcohol

Dense dark purple, aromas of violets and cherry pie, makes for a pretty nice introduction. Bone-dry and a little brambley but lots of fat rich dark berry flavours. Medium-bodied red wine with soft tannins makes it a real easy sipper. There’s a whiff of savoury in the soft textured body, yet the finish is long with hints of mocha.

It’s a great Malbec worthy of spicy ribs or hot fennel sausages.

 

San Pedro 1865 Unique Edition Cabernet Sauvignon 2013

Maipo Valley, Chile
$21.95 (Vintages #469254) 14.5% alcohol

One powerful personality, the good old dark and intense Cabernet Sauvignon. Rich blackberries, dark currants, ripe blackberries lots of fruit and structure.

If Cabernet Sauvignon is one of your favourite varietals, you will love it. Soft tannins with a lingering cigar box, pencil shaving lengthy finale. This red wine is a beauty.

 

Puklus Pinceszet Tokaji Aszu 3 Puttonyos 2012hungarian-wine

Hungary
$20.95 (Vintages #980805) 12% alcohol

Expressive aromas of honeyed floral blossoms introduce you to this unusual nectar. Reminiscent of a Ontario late harvest wine, it’s delightfully honeyed but not overly sweet and creamy flavours of baked pear envelope the palate leaving you a little tangerine on the finish. It’s different, attractive and a better price point than icewine or other spirits.

Wonderfully festive for the season.

 

Grand Total – $101.75

Oops…just over a bit!

If I only had $100…I would buy at Vintages

Posted by Julie

Monday, November 28th, 2016

As we move towards the holiday season, Vintages always features “Our Finest” and it is a magnificent release. Everything from single malts to brandies, Grappa, Champagne and all delicious new delectable fine wines.

vintages-nov-26th

The only thing that I am complaining about is my measley $100 budget for this blog.  There are so many incredible luxuries in this release that a much bigger budget is required.  Note to self…I should talk to my editor about a ‘raise’.

Whether you are on a budget or like to splurge, there are still some tried and true wines that I always love to see.  The new styles are calling, like new shoes…like wine, you can never have too many shoes!
Enjoy,
– Julie

 

If I only had $100, I would buy…
LCBO Vintages Release for November 26, 2016

domaine-de-vaugondy-brut-vouvray

 

Domaine de Vaugondy Brut Vouvray

Méthode Traditionelle, AC
$17.95 (Vintages #154567) 12.5 % alcohol

 In 1936 the Village of Vouvray was created as an Appellation d’origine contrôlée (AOC). Located along the right bank of the Loire river, Chenin Blanc is the dominant and almost exclusive grape of Vouvray.

Vouvray produces more than a million cases of wine a year. This straw coloured sparkling offers fine moussey bubbles that release alluring aromas of tropical fruit, toasted almonds, green apple and apricot. They also replay on the taste buds. Dry, medium bodied, it captures the senses with fruit flavours and a honey’d note towards the end. It’s a divine and elegant sparkling wine as an apperitif or to accompany grilled fish.

 

gerard-bertrand-la-clapeGerard Bertrand Grand Terroir La Clape

Syrah/Carignan/Mouvedre 2013
France
$18.95 (Vintages #370262) 13.5 % alcohol

I have become a fan of Bertrand wines, fantastic quality at great price points. This rich, sexy blend has aromas and tastes of dark cherries, plums and currants. A medium bodied red wine with soft tannins, some mocha and a savoury spice on the finish. Would be a perfect match to a hearty stew or lamb shanks.

 

san-felice-chianti-classico-2013San Felice Chianti Classico 2013

DOCG, Tuscany
$19.95 (Vintages #282996) 13% alcohol

Expressive wafts of floral red cherries introduce you to this classic Chianti. It’s an easy drinking red wine as sweet cherry and raspberry fruits explode on the palate. Bone-dry, medium weight and offers some earthy, leather notes on the finish. With a spicy lasagna, you’ve found yourself a great dinner party.

 

union-forte-2012Union Forte 2012

VQA Niagara Peninsula
$17.95 (Vintages #361758) 19.5%

This fortified port style wine is deep mahogany in colour with aromas of Christmas cake, dried fruit, roasted almonds and berries. The mouthfeel is smooth, creamy and mouthwatering. A range of layered fruit flavours on the palate, medium bodied and a deliciously sweet with a long dried blackberry finish.

Serve on ice as an aperitif or it would make a superb after dinner drink with some stinky blue cheese – a classic!

 

georgian-hills-bartlett-frozen-to-the-core-2014Georgian Hills Bartlett Frozen to the Core 2014

Blue Mountains, Ontario
$19.95 (Vintages #347401) 8.5% alcohol

Deliciously sweet but not cloying with intense aromas and flavours of ripe pear.

Georgian Hills produces other desert icewines: a Frozen to the Core Ida Red, a Vidal and Baked Apple all of which embrace fruit farming in the cool climate of the Georgian Bay wine region. Less expensive than other icewine their nectars are fruit driven and refreshing, deliver good acidity and plain delicious. Another reason to showcase our Ontario wines.

 

Grand Total = $94.75

If I only had $100…I would buy at LCBO Vintages

Posted by Julie

Friday, November 11th, 2016

About this time every year LCBO Vintages showcases ‘Star Quality’ as a feature of the release. We all know what this also means…’star prices’.   Icewine, French Champagne and sparkling wines flow prominently on the pages. I wish I could buy one of each however with my blog budget of $100, I’ll have to leave the Champagne for another time.

vintages-nov-12However, there are some star quality wines that I’d recommend to stock up on.

Also, there are several great wines coming out in large sized 1500 mL bottles. It sounds like a lot of wine, but if you are having a dinner party or a holiday feast, they are super easy to decant at the table and good value too. In particular, I’m thinking of the J. Lohr Seven Oaks Cabernet Sauvignon 2011 at $44.95 or Catena Malbec 2014 at $39.95.  Both red wines are heavy duty crowd pleasers and great accompaniments to lasagna, roasts or ribs.

No shortage of star quality in this release.

Enjoy,
-Julie

 

 

If I only had $100, I would buy…
LCBO Vintages Release for Saturday November 12, 2016

 

dog-point-sauvignon-blanc-2015Dog Point Sauvignon Blanc 2015

Marlborough, South Island, New Zealand
$24.95 (Vintages #677450)  13.5% alcohol

I wouldn’t recommend wines with animals in the name unless it was star quality and this white wine is definitely one that gets top marks. Any easy sipping white wine that is pale in colour but packs a punch in taste and texture.  Aromatic white flowers start the senses with peachy apricots, tree fruit on the palate and a crisp lemon lime finish. It is a light-bodied Sauvignon Blanc with gentle finesse and one mouthwatering taste. Enjoy it on its own, with appetizers or light meals.

 

 

clayhouse-cabernet-sauvignon-2015Clayhouse Cabernet Sauvignon 2015

Paso Robles, California
$17.00  (Vintages #057869) 13.5% alcohol

Paso Robles is known for its abundance of olive oil, hot springs, almond orchards and wineries.  Mid-way between Los Angeles and San Francisco the landscape is mainly dry grassland. Roughly 24 miles from the Pacific Ocean, the climate is almost Mediterranean with long hot summers and brief cool winters. This landscapes allows the grapes to reach their absolute maximum potential which we then can enjoy in such vintages as the above. It tastes much richer than its’ terrific price point. Dark and opaque, black currant and plum flavours, smooth as silk with a some pencil shaving oak on the finish. Fruity but structured makes for easy drinking red wine. I’d pair it with any grilled meat or a prime rib roast. Delicious.

 

clos-de-los-siete-2013

Clos de los Siete

Mendoza, Argentina
$23.95 (Vintages #622571) 14.5%

Since returning from a trip to Argentina this past February, a wine from Mendoza always makes its way to my shopping basket. This red wine blend nearly reaches nirvana for me. Predominantly Malbec (57%) with Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah in the follow up. Dark ruby with aromas and flavours of ripe blueberries, black cherries, currants with some mocha on the finish. This nectar  integrates soft tannins with fabulously smooth intensity and depth. Pair with the usual red meat suspects but worthy of a veal chop splurge.

 

reif-vidal-icewine

Reif Vidal Icewine 2014

VQA Niagara-on-the-Lake
$24.95  (Vintages #544791) 10% alcohol

Reif Estate Winery has been a long time producer of fine Canadian icewine. This one is harvested from a 12 acre block planted in 1981. Those grapes have had lots of time to think about their future! The average picking temperatures range from -10 to -12 C and this vintage was harvested in January 2014.  Lusciously sweet with honey, toffee, apricots and peaches fill the senses with a memorable creamy mouthfeel. There is a little marmalade on the finish and it is a divine expression of icewine.  With some soft blue cheese it would be over the top.

 

Grand Total = $90.85

 

If I only had $100…I would buy at LCBO Vintages

Posted by Julie

Friday, September 16th, 2016

I was pretty excited to see the feature at the LCBO Vintages be shining the spotlight on Ontario wines. I am a firm believer that we never have to look further than our own backyard for great vintages.

sept-17-vintages-catalogueWe have wineries in the Niagara Escarpment, Prince Edward County, Lake Huron, Pelee Island and Georgian Bay, just to name a few.  This past summer, my husband I toured around the Twenty Valley and Niagara-on-the-Lake regions visiting several wineries and the enticement of uncorking new wines that we could not purchase locally just overcame us. We stocked up!  If you have not had a trip to wine country this summer, here is the opportunity to go wild at Vintages and pick up some gems.

The 2016 grape harvest is underway! Ontario winemakers have finished picking grapes for sparkling wine and are now busily harvesting white wine grapes.  By all reports from wineries, the crops are looking good!  Pick up some Ontario wines to celebrate our beautiful province and let’s toast the winemakers that make it all happen.

Julie

 

If I only had $100, I would buy…
LCBO Vintages Release for Saturday September 17, 2016

13th-street-winery

13th Street White Palette 2015

VQA Niagara Peninsula
$15.95 (Vintages #207340) 12.5% alcohol 

A fabulous & unique blend of 53% Riesling, 18% Chardonnay, 17% Gewurztraminer, 9% Sauvignon Blanc with a dash of 3% Pinot Gris. The grapes were hand harvested from a variety of vineyards throughout the Niagara Peninsula, with the vast majority from the 13th  Street Estate vineyards. All varieties were fermented separately in stainless steel then blended in the final stage.

Aromas of orchard wildflowers at their peak housed in a soft golden colour. There’s gentle honeysuckle and lemon aromas on the palate with tree fruit; apricots and yellow apples mixed with some buttery almonds on the finish. Delicious and flavourful. My husband and I enjoyed this white wine with some grilled chicken and Caesar salad and it was over the top perfect!

 

Flat Rock Riesling 2014flat-rock-riesling

VQA Twenty Mile Bench, Niagara Peninsula
$16.95 (Vintages # 43281)  11%  alcohol

White blossoms and ripe tree fruit capture the senses.  Slightly off-dry with lots of fruity flavours, ripe peaches and apples. This medium-bodied white wine has a delectable seam of acidity that sends you back for another sip. It’s smooth and elegant.

Lovely on it’s own or with lighter fare of fish tacos, salads or a bowl of steamed mussels.

 

 

rapscallion-wine-companySmoke & Gamble Cabernet/Merlot 2012

VQA Ontario  (Rapscallion Wine Company)
$19.95 (Vintages #332825) 13% alcohol 

Located in Port Dover in the county of Norfolk, this winery is new for me and does not disappoint. On the bottle label it states 44% barrel aged and 56% stainless – meaning that this is a blend of wine that was both aged in barrels and tank resulting in a medium bodied red wine.

There is a subtle whiff of dusty aromas (that is a good thing for a wine that is 4 years old already!) with suggestions of roses and violets coupled with red and blackberries on the palate. There is a subtle sweetness of black plums with freshly ground green and black pepper on the long finish. It is slightly tart with firm tannins but then moved into a fabulously smooth and tantalizing red wine blend.  Would definitely marry a hearty autumn stew or thick-with-meat chili.

 

westcott-temperance-redWestcott Vineyards Temperance Red 2014

VQA Vinemount Ridge Niagara Peninsula
$19.95 (Vintages # 469189) 13.4% alcohol

Bravo to these young retired folks, who bought a 200 year-old timber frame barn, restored it to build a winery around the original structure.  And on top of all that, they planted 26 acres of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes. Talk about a leap of faith. This relatively new winery located in Jordan, Ontario, is right in the heart of the Twenty Valley region, where the soil is the creme de la creme for growing grapes.

This interesting Cabernet Franc & Pinot Noir red wine blend is loaded with red berries – cherry and raspberry flavours jump from this light bodied pale red nectar. It shows more like a light bodied Pinot Noir with layers of personality. Pair it with pork or roast poultry encrusted with lots of herbs.

 

pondview-icewinePondview Vidal Icewine 2014

VQA Niagara Peninsula
$19.95 (Vintages #390351) 11% alcohol

It has been a while since I included an icewine in my list.  This one is a great price!

By definition, icewines can only be made from grapes that have naturally frozen on the vine and picked when the thermometer dips to -8°C or lower. While the grape harvest yield is particularly low, (hence the high expense), icewine offers a mouthfeel and sweet deliciousness that is worth every penny. With a under $20 price tag on this icewine, our friends at Pondview are giving it away.

This dessert wine has aromas and flavours of sweet baked yellow apple, pear and marmalade, citrus notes at the end of this long divine finish. Dinner becomes memorable when you end with such panache.

 

Grand Total – $92.75

 

If I only had $100…I would buy at LCBO Vintages

Posted by Julie

Friday, September 2nd, 2016

The dreaded Back-to-School frenzy. Although my school days are long gone, at this time of year, I get caught up in thoughts of buying gym socks, pads of paper and pencil cases, rather wine.

But good on LCBO and the Vintages buying team with this release with incredible buys of “Flagship ISD”, along with vintages septregional features on Burgundy, France and all of Chile.

Many of you may wonder what ISD stands for, it’s “In-Store Discoveries” and flagship of course refers to “the best or most important thing owned or produced” (Wikipedia’s definition). In other words, the most important example of a product. I think you get the drift.

Here are the wines I think will be top of the class. I plan to uncork them and reminisce about my university days while I can hear the frosh week festivities at the nearby university.

I hope you enjoy going back to school!

– Julie

If I only had $100, I would buy . . .
LCBO Vintages Release for Saturday September 3, 2016

 

featherstoneFeatherstone Rosé

VQA Niagara Peninsula
$15.95 (Vintages #117861) 12.5% alcohol

Only a few weeks ago my husband and I visited the Featherstone Winery and came out loaded with purchases and a free wine tote. This rose wine was amongst our haul! Beautiful pale cranberry in colour that shimmers in the glass. Fresh and fruity on the palate with loads of strawberry and dry rhubarb flavours makes a wonderful summer wine. There’s some savory green pepper notes on the finish. Perfect for a picnic, salads or just on its own. Make summer long with this wine or save to serve at Thanksgiving.

 

signos

Signos De Origen La Vinilla Chardonnay/Viognier/Marsanne/Roussane 2015

Casablanca Valley, Chile
$19.95 (Vintages #63909) 14.5% alcohol

 The aromas in these four noble grape varietals are exhaustive. When the winemaker blends them together, there is lots of personality and they party well. The tropical fruit of Chardonnay, the peaches and blossom fruit of Viognier, the full bodiness of Marsanne and the creaminess of the Roussane. Delicious!

Flavours on the palate remind me of a big fresh fruit salad with everything from peaches, green and yellow apple with a little citrus on the finish. This wine gives something for everyone. Great on its own or would partner well with some grilled fish.

 

Cotnari Francu A Cotnari 2014

DOC Frâncua, Romania
$12.95 (Vintages # 445767) 11.5% alcohol

Although this white wine was not available at the time of tasting, I’m putting it in my shopping basket. At this low price point, I am prepared to take a chance. The Vintages panel tasting notes indicates that it is light and fruity which sounds to me like a great summer choice. Not to mention the Cotnari winery has taken part in international contests and been awarded well to the point that they have a “medals gallery”. The Cotnari Vineyards dates back to 1250 and the name “Cotnari” refers to the fortune of being an expert in shaping barrels. All sounds good to me…I’ll take the risk.

 

Casa Silva Cool Coast Pinot Noir 2013

Colchagua Valley, Chile
$17.95 (Vintages #464420) 14% alcohol

 Aromas of tree fruit and forest floor waft from my glass. No surprise for a Pinot Noir but this red wine is smooth and delicate. There’s also some crisp edginess to it with loads of wild raspberry and cherry flavours on the palate. While Pinot Noir is not a grape varietal I tend to seek out, mark my words, this one is exceptional. Light to medium bodied, easy to drink with a long fruit finish.

segure

Chateau de Segure Fitou 2013

Mont Tauch, Burgundy, France
$16.95 (Vintages #370254) 13.5% alcohol

 A deep elegant ruby red with whiffs of ripe red berry. Flavourful and bold with tantalizing dark-fruit richness. The tannins are soft ,the finish is pepppery and savoury – something that reminds me of fresh herbs such as thyme and rosemary. This red wine calls for a hearty stew or a pork roast with all the trimmings. I’m stashing a few bottles away for when November rolls around.

 

wits endWits End Luna Shiraz 2014

McLaren Vale, South Australia
$17.00 (Vintages #311258) 14.5% alcohol

Dense purple with a big bouquet of blackberries and black pepper. The palate concentrates on ripe plums and black fruit with well-integrated tannins that lead to a spicy but not sweet finish. In this red wine, there is a small dallop of Barbera grapes blended in that lends a brambley note, but what is the most striking is how this wine is as smooth as velvet and very delicious. It’s a big wine with a little price, bring on the rack of lamb.

 

Grand Total: $100.75 – for 6 wines…that’s a lot of bang for my buck!

If I only had $100…I would buy at LCBO Vintages

Posted by Julie

Thursday, August 18th, 2016

I’ve got one eye on the Olympics, and the other on my tasting notes. Canada collection of medals is on the rise. I applaud our Olympic athletes; even volleyball never looked like this when I was in high school!

vintages august 20OK…now to focus.

This Vintages release at the LCBO is offering products called “The Next Big Thing” – how catchy is that? Germany gets some spotlight especially on their Riesling wines. Having just been on a trip to Niagara, I have to admit that I find our own Rieslings impossible to beat. And as for the “Next Big Thing”, I’ve found a few wines in this blog that you can sip while watching the final weekend of the Olympic games.

Go Canada Go! We’re cheering you on,

Julie

 

 

 

If I only had $100, I would buy …
LCBO Vintages Release for Saturday August 20, 2016

 

EdelweisssEdelweiss 2014

Cave de Jolimont, Switzerland
$17.95 (Vintages #385021) 11.5% alcohol

 I rarely have the opportunity to taste Swiss wine but this is worth the search if you like a light-bodied, delicate, pretty white wine. I learned that the Chasselas grape is golden in colour and is often referred to by Swiss winemakers as “goldilocks”. The result is a light bodied white wine with floral with tree fruit flavours, some citrus at the end that adds interest to the bone dry skinny finish. It would pair well with raclette or a cheese tray with creamy soft brie type cheeses. Chilled well, it makes a lovely sipper for a hot summer afternoon.

Did you know? The Chasselas grape has a long intriguing history. It’s genesis is in eastern France and the shores of Lake Geneva in Switzerland. Known by different names from Fendant to Valais, this grape variety can be found in monastic records dating before the 1600’s. Although grown in the Pouilly-Fume region in France, it is considered a lowly cousin, but it continues to grow throughout Europe and is by far Switzerland’s most planted varietal. It buds early and has lots of vigor. It is not an acidic grape so it is often blended with other more forthcoming varietals.

 

zenatoZenato Pinot Grigio 2015

IGT Delle Venezie, Italy
$15.95 (Vintages #37648) 12.5% alcohol

 If I had to choose one grape variety for summer sipping, hands down, it would be the versatile Pinot Grigio would steal the show. It will take you from mid-afternoon aperitif to late evening. Chilled down, it’s cool and refreshing. This particular Pinot Grigio is the perfect example. I find it especially aromatic and the dancing zippy flavours on the palate from lemon-lime citrus to green apple are crisp and delicious. There’a little steeliness on the finish – this is a good thing. To be paired with summer salads, fish, chicken or put a bottle in the picnic basket – it’s a great summer wine.

 

tthThe Tragically Hip Fully Completely Grand Reserve Red 2013  

VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario
Stoney Ridge Estate Winery
$24.95 (Vintages #411595) 13% alcohol

 The date of this release, 20 August, marks sadly the final concert performance of The Tragically Hip. This limited edition red wine is being released to commemorate The Hip announcement of the re-release of their legendary album Fully Completely and the band’s last North American Tour. This wine is the ideal way to celebrate the band’s rise to stardom and to toast lead singer Gord Downie.

One waft from the glass offers unmistakably fresh Cabernet Franc and luscious aromas of ripe red berries in a traditional Meritage blend. Combined with the Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon grapes the melange is full, rounded and delivers effortlessly, huge juicy dark ripe tree fruit, whispers of blueberries with subtle savoury undertones. A hint of green pepper and black pepper polishes it off. The tannins are soft but noticeable, medium bodied and balanced with tobacco and a little mocha on a juicy finish. The finale is long and memorable.

Did you know? The artistic label on the bottle is a replication of the original artwork that first appeared on the Fully Completely album cover. The wine was also co-created by band members in conjunction with Stoney Ridge Head Winemaker (and Savvy friend), Jeff Hundertmark. For Tragically Hip fans, make sure you grab a few bottles. As I mentioned…this is a limited edition in more ways than one and it’s going to fly off the shelves, literally.

 

MaianaLeone De Castris Maiana Salice Salentino 2014

DOC, Puglia, Italy
$14.95 (Vintages #717959) 13.5% alcohol

Juicy, rich and fresh ripe red fruit with whispers of a little mocha and chocolate. Medium to full bodied with well-integrated tannins and fine tuned acidity. I could not believe the price point and this is also on my hit-list. Easy drinking and well-crafted. It’s more than just a pizza wine. It’s a red wine that would span anything from a charcuterie plate to a prime rib roast. Pick up and store a few bottles for heartier fare this winter (yes, the W word!) or enjoy it now with BBQed portobello or burgers.

Did you know? Straight from Puglia, located in the southeast corner of Italy where there are 25 DOCs, not DOCGs (spot the difference?). The major red grapes are Negroamaro which has been planted since the 6th century and Malvasia grapes which have been known to soften the tannins of the former. The Salice Salentino region vineyards are surrounded by water on three sides allowing cool breezes from the Mediterranean to moderate vineyard temperatures.

 

gerardGérard Bertrand Terroir Corbières 2013

AP, France
$16.95 (Vintages #394288) 13.5% alcohol

 I recommended a Gérard Bertrand Viognier in my last blog, so when I saw this red wine, I was already ready for another quality wine from this winemaker. Full and rounded, black currants spring to the surface with deep dark concentrated black fruit, in the aromas and on the palate. An always robust favourite blend of Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre that have been aged 12 months in oak barrels that lends to the rich, easy drinking with a polished texture, a little pepper and friendly liquorce on the finish – loads of personality. A marbled grilled steak would be perfect with a glass of this wine!

Did you know? Gérard Bertrand was awarded the title of Red Winemaker of the Year in 2012 at the International Wine Challenge. He retired from his rugby career to take over the family estate after the accidental death of his father. He has become a renowned wine grower and winemaker in Langedoc-Rousillon region. Clay and limestone soils with a kaleidoscope of climates and temperatures constitute the terroir Corbières that stretches from the Pyrenees to the Montagne Noir. The wine literally comes with a message of the terroir. Plus it’s a pretty nice country to do some sightseeing & wine touring.

 

Grand Total: $ 90.75

Look what I have saved you!

TIP: If you can find an extra $13.00, I recommend to add a bottle of Sunnybrook Estate Series Strawberry Wine 2014 ($22.95- Vintages# ). Made in Niagara, if you love ripe Ontario strawberries, here is a way to enjoy them all year round.