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Posts Tagged ‘LCBO’

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 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!

Cheers to Cool Craft Ciders!

Posted by Debbie

Tuesday, August 23rd, 2016

There was a buzz this summer that was different from other summers.  It was the buzz about craft cider. Now available at grocery stores, the LCBO stocked shelves wide and high with different styles by local cider makers, and neat new ciders were taking over taps at restaurants.  No longer is the alternative for those who are not partial to wine or beer, craft cider becoming the new discovery for everyone.

Move over Somserby & Strongbow you have company. The Canadian hard cider industry has been growing since 1990s.  In the past 2-3 years, the market has exploded. The Ontario Craft Cider Organization (OCCA) says the demand for Ontario ciders has grown upwards of 60%.  Since 2013 and the Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO) recently reported that Ontario cider sales have more than quadrupled over the last three years.Savvy_in-cider - cropped

Adding to that, this summer saw 60 Loblaw stores in Ontario who added ciders to their fridges that have recently been stocked with craft beer.

“With Loblaw’s commitment to Ontario Craft Cider products they are supporting not only the Ontario Craft Cider makers, but the Ontario farmers who grow the apples we use,” said Thomas Wilson, Chair of the OCCA. 

A research study conducted by The George Morris Centre at the University of Toronto projected that Ontario craft ciders have the potential to be a $35-million industry by 2018. Mark my word, the buzz will be getting louder.

Cideries are cropping up everywhere.  County Cider is the largest cidermaker near Ottawa.  “The County Cider Company was established in 1996.  Since then, the craft cider industry has exploded. We pride ourselves in growing our own apple cider varieties now create a unique range of ciders from  Traditional English Style Dry to sweeter flavoured ciders”, explains Jenifer Dean co-owner of County Cider Company located in Prince Edward County. 

And wineries are getting into it too.  Lighthall Vineyards in Prince Edward County, along with Tawse Winery, Ravine Vineyard and Vieni Estates in Niagara have all added hard apple cider alongside with their wine portfolio.  

 

So many ciders, where to start? 

With the dizzying abundance of craft ciders, it is only natural as a Sommelier, to dive in and discover all of the different styles and flavours. Classic hard apple cider, peach, pear and berry flavoured, even root beer cider, there is definitely a cider that will quench your thirst.  I discovered that we are on the brink of 100 different ciders made in Ontario.  With so many and so little time, Savvy Company has launched In-Cider Picks, a different assortment of Ontario made ciders each month during the summer that is delivered to your deck or dock.  This trumps going to the LCBO or the grocery store. Savvy Sommeliers have taken the guess work out of which of the many ciders to buy & hand delivering the best bottles for you.  If you missed In-Cider Picks this summer, be on the lookout for it next year!

“Making hard apple cider is a new venture for Tawse Winery. Savvy’s In-Cider Picks is an excellent way for our small batch craft cider get into the glasses of Ontario cider enthusiasts”, beams Paul Pender, principal winemaker for Tawse Winery.

This is not just a summer fling with cider, the buzz will continue year round. Here are some to give a try when you see them on the store shelves or call Savvy Company 613-SAVVYCO (728-8926) to arrange for your special delivery.

 

~ 3 craft ciders you must try ~

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County Cider Blood Orange

Inspired during a trip to Normandy, France, this is a hard apple cider blended with blood orange juice and essences.  

An eye catching orange Lifesaver colour that looks more like a cocktail than cider. Each sip has refreshing tastes of mandarin with a tangy acidity like Starburst candy. Warning: you’ll want more than just one glass of this cider.     

Price: $6.90 (500mL bottle)

 

 

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Tortured Path Cider

For die-hard cider fans. Always quick to sell out at County Cider Co. shop in Prince Edward County, this is made in a Traditional British Dry Style made with bittersharp and bittersweet apple varieties that has been blended in with Gold Russet apples grown on farm. Bone dry with mineral tastes with constant stream of bubbles that your glass could be mistaken for French Champagne.

Price $7.95 (500mL bottle)

 

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Tawse Bottle Fermented Cider

Just released in July from a winery who has been named ‘Winery of the Year’ for the past 4 years by WineAlign, this vraft cider is their first foray expanding beyond winemaking.

Un-filtered and unpasteurized, this cider was aged on the lees (in contact with the yeast) to give it a complex and rich taste. Each sip will remind you of fresh-out-of-the- over homemade apple pie. Absolutely delicious.

Price: $14.95 (750mL bottle)

 

What to serve with craft cider?

Just like wine, the taste of craft cider can be augmented with certain foods.  Our Sommeliers would recommend to select foods that would not overpower the flavours found in the cider, so save the steak to enjoy with red wine and serve cider with steam seafood, grilled salmon, sushi, pork chops, salads loaded with fresh garden vegetables or hard cheeses, popcorn & kale chips….or simply on its own!

 

This article will appear in the 2016 fall issue of Ottawa Life Magazine

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

Posted by Monique

Friday, August 5th, 2016

vintages AugustThis weekend’s Vintages release at the LCBO showcases an exciting selection of well-crafted wines from all over the world that fit our budget.  

Since the world will be watching athletes from across the globe exercise their best efforts to make it onto the podium at the Rio Summer Olympics, I have been inspired to seek out select value wines from around the world that are podium worthy as well.

So, let’s have a look at my world tour of well-crafted, value for quality wines…

Cheers!
-Monique

 

 

 

 

 If I only had $100, I would buy at Vintages…
Saturday July 23, 2016

framinghamFramingham 2015 Sauvignon Blanc

Marlborough, New Zealand
LCBO Vintages 606848 | $18.95 | 12.5% alcohol

Temperatures are spiking and, at times, nothing seems more refreshing than sipping a chilled crisp Sauvignon Blanc under a patio umbrella.  I find the Framingham 2015 Sauvignon Blanc to be a high-ranking player in the “crisp patio whites” category.  This signature New Zealand white wine shows vibrant notes of  citrus zest, lemon grass and floral notes. The palate is bone dry, mouthwatering and finishes with a crisp zesty citrus note.  Enjoy pairing this Sauvignon Blanc with fresh oysters, king crab legs, poached lobster or ceviche.

 

nemeaEstate Papaioannou 2010 Single Vineyard Agiorgitiko

Nemea, Greece
LCBO Vintages 47977 | $20.95 | 12.5% alcohol

Greece, where it all began! As the birthplace of the Olympics, Greece could not be overlooked.  This weekend’s Vintages release actually showcases a decent selection of white and red wines from Greece, but the Estate Papaioannou 2010 Single Vineyard Agiorgitiko steals the podium.

Agiorgitiko – meaning St. George – is the most widely grown red grape variety in Greece, predominantly in the region of Nemea (northeastern part of the Peloponnese Peninsula). This red wine showcases an intense burst of perfumey floral and berry fruit aromas.

The palate is showing young , but polished tannins, a nice balance of acidity  and a long tart cherry finish.  Key flavours to note include red cherry, leather, tar, and dark chocolate. You may consider letting this medium to full bodied red wine sit in the cellar for another three to five years, but it is also drinking well now. Just be sure to decant this beauty for two hours prior to serving, and definitely try pairing it with beef tartar.

 

flat rockFlat Rock 2010 Twisted Red

VQA Ontario, Canada
LCBO Vintages 86918 | $24.95 | 12.3% alcohol

Let’s offer our shout out to Team Canada with the Flat Rock 2010 Twisted Red. Flat Rock Cellars is no stranger to the pro-athlete world. In 2013, this winery collaborated with three-time world champion and Olympic medalist figure skater, Patrick Chan, to craft one the most top rated Reisling icewines release in our market. This red wine with a striking blend of fleshy fruity berries and smoke.  Hailing from the Niagara Escarpment, this red wine shows hints of fresh cherry, cranberry, smoke and wet stone minerality. The acidity is mouthwatering, the tannins are young and grippy with a plump medium-bodied mouthfeel. I recommend drinking now, and enjoy pairing it with pulled port tacos.

 

mandusPietra Pura Mandus 2013 Primitivo Di Manduria

Puglia, Italy
LCBO Vintages 216457 | $16.95 | 13.8% Alcohol

 Our world tour continues with this gorgeous Italian red wine known as Primitivo.  Primitivo is the native grape of Puglia (the heel on the boot of Italy) and is actually the same grape as  Zinfandel. This full-bodied red wine showcases inviting perfumed aromas of rose petals, cherry, plum, graphite minerality, and a touch of vanilla. Even though the flavours appear sweet – berry jam, vanilla, sweet smoke – the acidity is high with mild balanced tannins and long dark chocolate finish.  It definitely reminds of a California style Zinfandels but with good complexity. It’s a great crowd pleaser and pairs well backyard BBQ ribs.

 

 shirazBest’s 2013 Bin No. 1 Shiraz

Victoria, Australia
LCBO Vintages 222323 | $19.95 | 14.5% alcohol

Finally, we a representative from Australia that excels in the “big bold BBQ red” category.  This red wine shows classic Australian Shiraz notes of pronounced eucalyptus, licorice, black plum, and black cherry. The palate is off-dry, chewy (young tannins) and mouthwatering. Flavours are an exact repeat of the aromas with added notes of cedar, vanilla, and a touch of earthy minerality. This Shiraz is full bodied with a long minted-berry finish. This red wine can certainly afford to sit for another five to seven years, but it is drinking quite well now after a couple hours of decanting.  Enjoy pairing this red wine with grilled lamb chops.

 

So, sometimes this happens, it appears that we are $1.75 over budget.
Altogether, this shopping list is worth extra pennies.

 Grand Total $101.75

 

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

Posted by Monique

Thursday, July 21st, 2016

 Welcome to my first of edition of If I only had $100, I would buy….as a Savvy Sommelier, I speak fluent wine & I am a wine lover on mission… err budget. Since we are in the heat of the summer, I cannot think of a better way to cool off than scoping out some easy drinking summer sipping wines.

As much as I wish I could indulge in the most high-end bottles of white Burgundy, Champagne and California cult classics, I am limited to a very reasonable budget for this shopping spree.LCBO NEW VINTAGE Believe me, you do not need to win LottoMax to find a nice stash of good quality wines on the LCBO Vintages shelves. Leave it with me to seek out these wines for you.

Let’s jump right into it!

Monique

 

 If I only had $100, I would buy…
Saturday July 23, 2016

 

Boya 2015 Sauvignon Blanc 

Boya Sauvignon Blanc 2015Leyda Valley, Chile
LCBO Vintages 389726 | $15.95 | 12.5% alcohol

Let’s just start by noting that Chilean Sauvignon Blanc is “a grape to watch!” The Leyda Valley is a cool climate growing region in Southern Chile producing remarkable Sauvignon Blancs white wines and also to note Pinot Noirs. The Boya Sauvignon Blanc stood out to me for two reasons: it had classic notes of both a New and Old World style Sauvignon Blancs, and it’s a bargain!

The key aromas and flavours include lemongrass, passion fruit, canned green vegetable and fresh green herbs. Mark my words that Chile’s up and coming cool climate whites rivaling many others on the world stage, and this one is no exception. This easy going medium bodied white wine will pair well with grilled pork souvlaki drizzled in fresh tzatziki.

 

Redstone Limestone Vineyard South 2012 RieslingRedstone Limestone Vineyard South 2012 Riesling

Twenty Mile Bench, Niagara Escarpment VQA, ON
$19.20 (Vintages 381251) 10% alcohol

Redstone Winery – a sister winery to Tawse Wines – is one of the Niagara Escarpment’s newly opened wineries and there are lots to discover here! This Riesling is a great start. It showcases the extensive potential for more and more well-crafted wines in pocketed areas of the Niagara Escarpment. Pour yourself a glass and immediately notice the rush of minerality (winespeak: think of the smell of a shower curtain – yes a shower curtain!) in your face.

As you get past the intense interesting smell, you’ll notice citrus zest, wild flower honey and ripe stone fruit. Take your first sip and the deal is sealed! You’ll notice flavours of ripe red delicious apple, pear, honey and beeswax. The acidity is high and tasty and the finish is long. Enjoy pairing this wine with spicy Thai shrimp rice rolls.

 

Masi Rosa dei Masi 2015Masi Rosa dei Masi 2015 Rosé

Venezie, Italy IGT
$15.95  Vintages 377267  13% alcohol

Full disclosure: This wine caught my attention due to its gorgeous brilliant blush pink appearance. Once I gave it try I was even more attracted. This rosé is made from the Italian Refosco grape and a percentage of these grapes where dried before vinification, like they practice when making Reciotto, Amarone and Ripasso wines.

The aromas are dominated by floral notes. The palate is light-bodied, dry with fruity flavours and a crisp and refreshing acidity. Enjoy sipping this wine with a salumi or charcuterie platter while cooling off on a warm summer day.

 

Abad Dom Bueno Mencía 2008

Abad Dom Bueno Mencía 2008

Beirzo, Spain
$15.95  Vintages 291989  13.5% alcohol

What a bargain! Sips of this red wine will easily turn into glasses – and then perhaps even bottles – for a gloriously good time.

This Spanish wine is made from old Mencia grapevines in Bierzo (north west Spain). The aromas are pronounced with developing notes of ripe raspberries, black currants, cigar box, vanilla bean and earthy notes. The palate is dry with chewy tannins tamed by a complementary mouthwatering acidity, and layers of flavours, including cooked berry fruit, vanilla, cedar, and tobacco. Enjoy this robust Spanish red wine with grilled beef.

Caiarossa Pergolaia 2009

Toscana, Italy IGT
$31.95  Vintages 460098  14% alcohol

This is one for keeps. Meaning that it’s good to cellar for a special evening with family or friends. Or perhaps save until this winter. Heads up, like all wines in Vintages, get this wine while you can, because when it is gone from the shelves, it will not be available again.

This Italian red wine is a blend dominated by the iconic Tuscan grape – Sangiovese – and some Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot. It is rich and robust yet fine and elegant. Key notes include red berries, black plum, sweet spice and smoke. It has terrific structure, balance, body and enticing length on the palate. Tannins are still young and chewy so decant 1-2 hours prior to serving. If you wish to cellar a couple of these bottes, it can sit for another 5-7 years. Enjoy with a prime rib roast.

 

And the tab comes to a…
Grand Total of $99.00!

 

 

Happy Beaujolais Nouveau Day!

Posted by Debbie

Thursday, November 20th, 2014

Deb in vinesThe third Thursday of November – today – is a milestone date in the wine world –wine stores have a special delivery of Beaujolais Nouveau wine.

What is all the fuss about? Beaujolais Nouveau or ‘first wine’ is wine made from grapes that were picked in the most recent harvest.  By the time the bottles arrive at your local LCBO or wine shop, the contents are generally 7 to 9 weeks old. According to history books, over a century ago, casks of brilliant coloured ruby red wine, typically made from Gamay grapes, were shipped from the Beaujolais wine-producing region (near Lyon) to harvest festivals and bistros throughout France.

The popularity of this wine became an international phenomenon to the point that, in 1985 the French Government established that the third Thursday of November is the worldwide release date of Beaujolais Nouveau wines. Today, wine shops around the world stock their shelves to give wine lovers a taste of what this year’s grape harvest will produce with fully aged wines. Every year there is a good showing of Nouveau wines from France, a few from Italy & Canada with some bottles from other parts of the world.  This year there are 9 Nouveau wines that got in the spirit.

What to expect from Beaujolais Nouveau when you pop the cork?

Beaujolais NouveauTypically, Beaujolais is made from Gamay grapes.  This variety creates a light wine that is bright red in colour with cherry and strawberry aromas and tastes.  As Beaujolais Nouveau was picked, bottled and shipped in less than two months, consider drinking this styled wine similar to eating chocolate chip cookie dough. Fresh, easy drinking and best with simpler dishes of pasta, pizza, burgers or lots of cheese rather than a big steak or roast beef.

The general ‘rule of thumb’ is to pop the corks & enjoy the wine before Christmas, as they tend not to improve with age, rather they lose their vibrant characteristics.

With all kinds of powerhouse and velvety wines available, why would anyone want something so grapey? The reason is simple – to celebrate this year’s grape harvest.

 More info about the region, the wines & festivities can be found at www.beaujolais.com

Cheers!
Debbie

 

On the shelves at the LCBO

From France…

Art’s Beaujolais Primeur Nouveau
$13.95
The funky design on the bottle sets the mood for this fun wine.  A light red wine that smells like candy (think Swedish berries). Each sip is loaded with cherry flavours combined with a taste that reminds me of fresh-out-of-the oven strawberry rhubarb pie. Fresh acidity on the finish.  It is an easy drinking wine that would be good with pizza, pasta or burgers.

DeBoeuf Gamay Nouveau
$9.95
Georges DeBoeuf is a well-known producer of Beaujolais wines and Nouveau Beaujolais.  Uncorking a bottle of DeBoeuf Nouveau wine you’d expect quality. This one is a classic, medium bodied, solid wine full of cherry & strawberry aromas and taste – exactly what you’d expect when you open up a bottle of Nouveau.

Catalans Primeur Syrah Merlot
$9.95
A French twist – breaking away from tradition & doing something completely different– making Nouveau wines with grapes other than Gamay.  The result of this experiment is a wine that reminds me more of Koolaid than red wine.  Honestly though, this is a characteristic of Beaujolais Nouveau so it is not a bad thing.  Bright ruby colour, fresh juicy cherries & cotton candy.

Mommessin Beaujolais Nouveau
$13.95
Sorry – no review as this wine was not available at the tasting

From Italy…

Negrar Novello Del Veneto
$9.95
I had to double check that the label stated 2014, because this wine was like no other Nouveau I have ever tried.  I was knocked over with the HUGE aromas and tastes of over ripe red fruit…perhaps that means that Italian wines from Veneto region will be big & bold this year….jury is still out.

Tollo Novello Rosso Terre di Chieti
$9.45
Ask for the Nouveau wine with the lion on the label & you will be impressed with this Italian wine.  Medium to full body (uncommon for Nouveau wines), jammy over ripe fruit shows through on this one too with some acidity on the finish.  Mama Mia, bring on the pizza for this wine.

From Ontario…

The Fool Reif Estate Gamay Nouveau VQA
$11.95
No foolin’ around here! Reif has created this Nouveau wine with classic characteristics that you’d expect of a  freshly made wine.  Juicy aromas and tastes of cherry pie filling or is it fresh pomegranate juice with a fruity & acidity combo. The sweetest wine of the bunch, so grab some creamy cheese to calm down the punch of the flavours that will no doubt mellow out as other Reif red wines age in the cellar.  This wine certainly shows promise that 2014 is a good vintage for Ontario wines….red wines worth waiting for.

You’ll find these in LCBO Vintages…

From France…

Beaujolais Villages Nouveau (Joseph Drouhin)
$15.95
Joseph Drouhin keeps good company with Georges Duboeuf when it comes to making Beaujolais Nouveau wines.  These are definitely the leaders of the pack.  This is a good red wine that surprised me that it was Nouveau.  Cranberry & herbal combination in the aromas that continued into the taste, this wine is worth the highest price tag of the lot.

Beaujolais Villages Nouveau
$14.95
It was hard to compare this wine with the $9.95 version (see above) as they were equally good red wines.  In my notebook, I have written & circled ALIVE.  Dark in colour with fresh juicy red & black cherries combined with tart cranberries that creates some lively acidity on the finish. A solid red wine.

And which one(s) to choose?

I had the time to taste all of these wines twice and for fun, I exchanged my top 4 wines with another reviewer (and extra ordinary wine teacher – afterall I caught the wine bug from him!) Vic Haradine of WineCurrent.com.  Our list overlapped on just two…showing that there is a Beaujolais Nouveau for everyone.  Click to read Vic’s tasting notes.

Grab a few of these colourful wines and toast to the 2014 harvest & the red wines to come!

 

Taken by Debbie Trenholm, Savvy Company

Taken by Debbie Trenholm, Savvy Company