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

Yeah! Make it a Chardonnay!

Posted by Julie

Monday, July 10th, 2017
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It’s that time of year again when the annual International Cool Climate Chardonnay Celebration (also known by those in the wine biz as ‘i4C’ or #i4C17) descends upon the Niagara region. Everyone gathers for this special i4C weekend to celebrate the most popular grape varietal in the world.

It is an incredible weekend – July 21 to 23 – where 30+ wineries from around the world PLUS 30 Ontario wineries gather to showcase their finest wines made with Chardonnay grapes – everything from sparkling, fresh Chardonnay, aged ones, Chablis style, fermented with wild yeast and those aged in barrels from around the world.  You get to sample everything. Even fine sweet wines made from Chardonnay grapes.  It is a heavenly weekend event!

At i4C, winemakers attend along with wine enthusiasts, Sommeliers, wine writers, restaurant owners and those who are simply visiting Niagara wanting to take in a top-notch event.  A number of us from the Savvy Team have attended and it is hands down an incredible learning and entertaining experience not to mention absolutely delicious & tasty. I highly recommend making i4C the reason for a weekend getaway to Niagara (if you need a reason!).

And for those of you who are ABCers (aka like Anything But Chardonnay), there is an incredible white wine from Spain that I discovered in the recent LCBO Vintages release from the feature or Spanish wines.  Spain often offers great value wines that taste like they should cost more, but my recommendations on those will have to wait for another time as I am filling my basket with 100% Chardonnay for this blog…and can’t wait to get sipping.

Long live i4C!
-Julie

i4C Social Media Information: Website  *   Twitter   *  Instagram 

 

 

If I only had $100, I would buy…
LBCO Vintages Release for Saturday July 8, 2017

 

Southbrook Triomphe Chardonnay 2015 

VQA Niagara-on-the Lake
$24.95 (Vintages #172338) 12.5 % alcohol

In 2008, Southbrook was the first wine estate in Canada to earn both organic and biodynamic certification for its vineyard and winery. This is one smooth Chardonnay from start to finish. There is some minerality in this white wine which is unusual for a Chardonnay, but this only enhances the soft tropical fruits.

Mid-weight and beautifully balanced with some baked pear on the finish, it’s one lovely drink. Would partner nicely with BBQed chicken or salmon.

 

 

Emiliana Natura Unoaked Chardonnay 2016

Casablanca Valley, Chile
$15.95 (Vintages #439398) 14 % alcohol

In the last release I featured Emiliana Winery for their sparkling wine. And here they are again on my top picks list!

This unoaked Chardonnay wine is anything but “typicity”.  In winespeak, this is the degree in which the grape varietal reflects or demonstrates its characteristics from the origin or region. I found just a hint of effervescence, light-bodied with lime tanginess which is unusual for a Chardonnay.  It’s fresh and clean with a green apple finish. I really liked it and this white wine is definitely going into my shopping basket & right into my fridge for a hot summer afternoon where I will uncork it for lunch or a light dinner with something like a Watermelon, Feta Cheese & Black Olive Salad.

 

 

Buena Vista Chardonnay 2015

Sonoma County, U.S.A.
$24.95 (Vintages #396440) 13 % alcohol

In a little corner bordering Sonoma and Napa’s southern boundaries is the celebrated vinicultural area called Carneros. While only about 90 square miles, the region is recognized for producing world class Chardonnays.

This white wine is a style that is heavier and creamier than what comes from other Chardonnay growing regions but for those who love a ‘Big Bold Chard’, this wine is for you!  I put extra stars beside my tasting notes, indicating that I love this wine. Aromas of buttered popcorn, rich and smooth on the palate as the tropical fruit simply takes over the senses and abounds.  It’s dry, crisp with a lingering finish. Elegant and refined, a class-act Chardonnay. Would easily stand up to a dinner of Steak & frites…yes white wine with steak!

 

 

Invivo Gisborne Chardonnay 2016

Gisborne, North Island, New Zealand
$15.95 (Vintages #499855) 13 % alcohol

Although this was not available at my tasting, Invivo Wines is going to be present at i4C represented by Winemaker and Co-founder, Rob Cameron. I never have any difficulty recommending a wine from New Zealand, especially the Gisborne region, since wines that are produced are always top notch. Tasting notes indicate an easy drinking style with citrus and ripe stone fruit on the palate.

At this incredible price point, (remember it travelled half way around the world to get onto the LCBO shelves), this white wine is definitely going in my basket. It is worth a try!

 

A dynamite wine from Spain you have to try …

Barón De ley Blanco 2016

DOCa Rioja
$13.95 (Vintages #145995) 12 % alcohol

A blend of Viura (90%) and Malvasia (10%) grapes, this fresh aromatic white wine is easy to drink. While not common grape varietals, these are quite at home in Navarra in the DOC Rioja region.

The winemaking process is carried out in stainless steel tanks which lends to its super fresh lemon lime flavours with a citrusy finish. Fresh and a light-bodied whine, makes for a terrific wine on a hot summer’s day.

 

 

Grand Total = $95.75

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6 Sparkling wines under $100

Posted by Julie

Thursday, June 22nd, 2017
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What perfect timing! Canada Day, Canadian Winemakers Around the World and Bubbles are featured in this release. LCBO & Vintages sometimes does this to me, all my favourite wine topics are featured at once – Oh Canada!

I plan to celebrate my “Canuck-ness” with bubbles. I will raise some “fizz” to toast Canada’s 150th birthday of accumulated strength in heritage and multiculturalism – this is the country where there is something for everyone.

This is also true of my selections for this release;  SIX sparkling wines from SIX countries to demonstrate a mosaic of diversity. I hope you find at least one to enjoy and join me as we raise a glass together.

Happy 150 years Canada!

-Julie

 

 

If I only had $100, I would buy…
LCBO Vintages Release for Saturday June 24, 2017

Vieni Momenti Sparkling Wine

Charmat Method, VQA Ontario
$13.95 (Vintages # 435784)  11.3% alcohol

 Last fall, I had the opportunity to taste this sparkling wine at one of our Taste & Buy events and recently “re-enjoyed” it since a friend of mine had purchased several bottles too.  It was a top seller at our event….and no doubt it will fly off the Vintages shelves too.

Pale yellow in colour, this unique blend of Vidal and Pinot Grigio grapes is fresh and aromatic. It has a light fine mousse (tiny bubbles) embracing soft tropical fruit flavours. At that price point you cannot go wrong. I will definitely be stocking up on this delicious sparkling wine. Great on its own or with lighter fare.

 

Chevalier Monopole Brut Rosé

AC, Champagne Region, France
$15.95 (Vintages #485920) 12% alcohol

First, I loved the unusual pale tangerine colour but then secondly, when several LCBO Product Consultants (aka wine experts who work in the Vintages section) are all smacking their lips, exclaiming what a fabulous wine not to mention great value, I knew I’d hit the bulleye!

Monopole is a term meaning “wholly owned” and can be used by a producer when the grapes used in the wine are exclusively owned buy the winemaker and not purchased.  It’s an easy sipping sparkling wine, full of citrusy orange and lime flavours, gentle, soft and juicy with enough acidity to pair with grilled chicken or tacos. Absolutely. Delicious.

 

Emiliana Organic Brut Sparkling

Charmat method, Casablanca Valley, Chile
$15.95 (Vintages #451914) 13% alcohol

Emiliana is Chile’s biggest organic wine producer. Artfully crafted , pale golden in colour with amazing aromas and tastes of ripe pineapple and papaya.

A Chardonnay and Pinot Noir blend (classic grape varieties used for sparkling wines) that is easy going and fresh with a citrusy lime aftertaste. Nicely balanced with noticeable acidity.  This bubbly from Chile is another great sipper on its own or  with fish, summer salads, or sushi.  Perfect for a picnic with the easy snap top bottle.

 

Graham Beck Brut Rosé

Méthode Cap Classique, WO Western Cape, South Africa
$19.95 (Vintages #175588) 12.5% alcohol

A blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes, silvery pink and shimmery in colour just like a cocktail dress, this just glows with excitement. Loads of sweet and sour cherries, raspberries, other red berries, smooth on the palate and loads of the above berries on the aftertaste.

It has a healthy weight for a sparkling wine but in South African style, would pair well with anything grilled, salad on the side.  Another delicious bubbly.

 

Castillo Perelada Brut Rosé Cava

Traditional method, DO, Spain
$15.95 (Vintages # 226266) 11.5% alcohol

An elegant pale pink colour this sparkling wine shimmers in the glass. To start, it just looks pretty. Then, as you take in the aromas and tastes of strawberries, cherries with a little peppermint on the light-bodied finish it is no wonder that Spain has become famous for its Cava (winespeak: Spanish sparkling wines).  Cavas are typically affordable priced and this is no exception. Would be perfect for a wedding reception or bridal shower or more importantly no occasion at all.

 

Valdo Marca Oro Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore

DOCG, Italy
$16.95 (Vintages #422840) 11% alcohol

Year round Prosecco is a great sparkling wine. Floral and croissant aromas hover around the bubbles that burst playfully with suggestions of citrus, green apple and apricot flavours.  Fresh and always delicious, it pairs with just about anything under the sun from charcuterie to pan seared fish.

 

Grand Total  = $98.75
I was thrilled to find 6 sparklers within my $100 budget!

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

Posted by Julie

Friday, June 9th, 2017
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Trust the LCBO to shine the spotlight on single malt scotch, cognac and specialty wines just in time for Father’s Day. This release also focuses on Flagship ISD (in-store-discoveries) from Australia and France. That covers a wide span of the wine world.

While Dad may be part of the focus in this release, I discovered two great sparkling wines from Niagara that were so reasonably priced you could pick something up for Mum as well.

Contraband Sparkling Chardonnay (#443705)
and Contraband Sparkling Riesling (#400127), both under $20.
These bubblies are full of lively fruit flavours that is perfect for Mum, Dad or to ring in Canada Day.

I hope you find more than one wine to enjoy in the picks that I ‘bought’ on my $100 budget.

-Julie

If I only had $100, I would buy …
LCBO Vintages Release for Saturday June 10, 2017

 

Creekside Reserve Viognier 2014 

Queenston Road Vineyard, VQA St. David’s Bench, Niagara-on-the-Lake, ON
$29.95 (Vintages #264168) 14 % alcohol

I don’t usually spend so much on one bottle of wine for obvious reasons, yet this time, I have to make an exception.

There aren’t many wineries in Ontario that produce Viognier because it is such a difficult grape to grow.  It’s prone to mildew, low yields and it has to be picked when it’s absolutely prime & ripe or it fails to develop its amazing colour, aromatics and fine fruit flavours. Creekside Winery won a gold medal winner in 2010 for their Viognier and this 2014 release is too delicious for words.

Aged for 9 months in French oak, this white wine delivers lush lingering aromatics of honeysuckle, mango, peach flavours that carry through to the palate. Slightly oily but fresh. Weighty and balanced – it’s one class act.  It also makes a beautiful gift for someone, especially someone who knows their wine. It’s so good on its own but could handle a spicy foods like a Moroccan Tagine or fresh sushi with panache.  Only 136 cases produced so I’ll grab a couple of bottles and leave the rest for you.

 

 

Medeiros Rosé

Vinho Regional Alentejano, Portugal
$12.95 (Vintages #451385)  12.5% alcohol

A pretty blend of Touriga Nacional (45%), Syrah (41%) and Aragonês or Tempranillo (14%) grapes.  This Rose is unreal at this price point. Pale pink in colour, with a little peach, almond and green melon flavours on the palate.  It is so light and refreshing. There’s not a huge finish but a great patio sipper or with seafood/summer salads. Summer in a glass!

 

 

Sister’s Run Bethlehem Block Cabernet Sauvignon 2014

Gomersal, Barossa, South Australia
$18.95 (Vintages #360636) 14.5% alcohol

Aromatic hints of  concentrated black fruit translate onto the palate. Bone-dry, full-bodied red wine with black currant and raspberry flavours. Gentle tannins that make it quite approachable on the palate and a very easy summer sipper.

It would be fabulous with assorted cheeses, lamb burgers or spicy sausages hot off the BBQ.

 

Gérard Bertrand Grand Terroir Grès De Montpellier Syrah Grenache

AP Languedoc, France
$18.95 (Vintages #493635) 15% alcohol

Aged in French oak barrels for 12 months lends hearty robust flavours to this classic red wine blend.  Ripe plums and layers of dark fruit flavours are velvety smooth on the palate with a peppery, charcoal edge on the finish and length.

It’s a big, rich red wine that would partner beautifully with BBQed steak with all of the trimmings or saucy ribs off the grill.

 

Tomassi Arele Parziale Appassimento 2015

IGT Della Venezie, Italy
$19.95 (Vintages #224188) 13% alcohol

You expect full flavour, texture and richness in a blend with Corvina, Rondinella, Oseleta and Merlot grapes.  This red wine holds no surprise. “Arele” is the name of the wooden trays used to partially dry the grapes that is part of the magic in creating this unique wine.

Loaded with dark fruit berry flavours, ripe red currants with hints of violets. Medium to full-bodied with a persistent sweet spice finish and a touch of cedar. Mark my words, this red wine is hard to resist. Perfect choice to accompany some grilled meats or summer vegetable lasagna. Stock up!

Grand Total = $100.75

The 3 extra quarters are totally worth going over budget!

 

 

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

Posted by Julie

Thursday, May 25th, 2017
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South Central Italy & Flagship In Store Discoveries (LCBO speak: ISD) as well as California are a prominent features in this LCBO Vintages release.  Where to start?

Frankly, the ISD’s are a little rich for my $100 budget for this blog, yet there are some pretty enticing looking wines.  Worth saving your pennies (or I guess it is now nickles!)

With the weather changing, I’m in a white wine mood so that’s what will be focused on finding the best to put in my shopping basket. You can’t go wrong with any of these great wines but remember when buying wines in the Vintages section, if you find something you like – grab a few bottles since they won’t be here again until next year and even that’s not a rule of thumb either!

Enjoy,

Julie

 

If I only had $100, I would buy . . .
LCBO Vintages Release for Saturday May 27, 2017

 

Santa Barbara Winery Chardonnay 2015

Santa Barbara County, California
$24.95 (Vintages # 989152) 13.7% alcohol

Talk about typicity! It doesn’t get much richer or better for a classic California Chardonnay.  If you can imagine putting your nose in a creamy rich butter bar, or creme caramel, you’d probably not be far off when smelling the aromas in this wine. Lots of ripe pineapple and baked apple flavours, a full-bodied white wine, balanced, lots of fruity layers, creamy smooth with a citrusy finish. Rich, fragrant and delicious. Enjoy with seafood or chicken alfredo pasta, sounds like a dinner party to me.

 

 

Beauvignac Picpoul De Pinet 2016

AP, Les Costières Pomerols, France
$14.95 (Vintages #350124) 12.5% alcohol

This light, crisp perfect summer wine called “Picpoul” is a direct reference to the vibrant natural acidity of this grape. A loose translation of Picpoul means “stings the lip” which refers to the high acidity level in this varietal. It’s super fresh and floral, white blossoms and lemon-lime flavours are too easy on the palate.

There’s a bounty of  green Granny Smith apple flavours in this white wine which also offer natural acidity that makes it so refreshing. Serve well chilled with a seafood salad, or cold poached salmon and you’ll have rave reviews.

 

Vesevo Beneventano Falaghina 2015

IGT Beneventano, South Central Italy
$16.95 (Vintages #289538) 13% alcohol

One sip reminded me of sitting in an piazza in Rome, starring at busts of bronze and a nearby coliseum. Fresh, lots of minerality and tastes of wet stone (this is a good thing), especially if you are prone to liking some earthy wine with loads of lemon flavours. A light white wine and delicate and a perfect afternoon sipper. If you happen to have a few shrimps handy – serve chilled or grill em up to have an awesome afternoon snack.

 

Frescobaldi Castelo Di Pomino Bianco 2015

DOC,  Tuscany, Italy
$19.95  (Vintages #65086) 12.5% alcohol

The history books state that in 1855, Chardonnay and Pinot Blanc were planted in Tuscany for the first time. Pomino (meaning little apple in Italian) is a small DOC located in central Italy that includes vineyards within the Chianti Rufina sub-zone in the province of Florence. It earned it’s DOC status in 1983.

Softly floral, ripe apricots and gentle peach flavours coat the palate with a lemony finish. A Fresh white wine that is delicate and delicious.

 

 

Feudo Maccari Grillo 2015

IGP Terre Siciliane, Italy
$14.95 (Vintages #477877) 12.5% alcohol

If I wrote in a sommelier exam that the wine tastes like fresh green grapes, I probably wouldn’t have passed the course but it is what it is (keeping in mind all our taste buds are different). This pale golden nectar is aromatically floral with some minerality on the palate and a pinch of effervescence, perhaps from the citrusy fruit flavours. It’s crisp and dreamy and a very easy white wine sipper especially at this price point. Salads, soft cheese, fish tacos or on its own.

Bottom line…I’m stocking up, this wine is too good to be true!

 

 

Grand total = $91.75 

5 great wines and look what I’ve saved you

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Buyers Picks at Vintages

Posted by Julie

Thursday, May 11th, 2017
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‘Buyer’s Picks’ are the prominent feature of this weekend’s LCBO Vintages release, not to mention New Zealand and Sake wines.

I’m always curious about what ‘Buyers Picks’ really means: more Airmiles offered? Reduced prices on the bottle? or truly great products?  In any case, these are My Picks for you to decide if you want them in your shopping cart.

One thing for certain, these wines are all really good!

Cheers,
-Julie

 

If I only had $100, I would buy…
LCBO Vintages Release for Saturday May 13, 2017

Tom Gore Chardonnay 2014

California
$19.95 (Vintages #458810) 13.5% alcohol

Aromas of baked apple and butter, on the palate are lush tropical fruit flavours, creamy and round. It’s medium to full-bodied white wine that is well-balanced and smooth. Dry apricots and almonds prevail on the long lasting finish. A typical California Chardonnay – rich and delicious.

If you have a special dinner party coming up with a seafood casserole or sauteed scallops it would be a match over the moon.

 

Greywacke Sauvignon Blanc 2015

Marlborough, South Island, New Zealand
$23.95 (Vintages #164228)  13.5% alcohol

This is a classic Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc with aromas of gooseberry and passionfruit. Vinified in stainless steel gives this white wine a fresh clean mouthfeel.

Medium bodied with lime citrus and grapefruit pith bathe the palate, crisp and refreshing with just enough sweetness to balance the racy acidity. Lengthy with a cleansing finish. A beauty Sauvignon Blanc to enjoy on it’s own or with springtime dishes like BBQed Thai Turkey Burgers.

 

Zuccardi Serie A Malbec 2015

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

Ever since my trip to Buenos Aires, a Malbec always finds its way into my shopping basket. Dark ripe plums and black cherries wash the palate, this full-bodied red wine has firm tannins and a leathery finish. The mouthfeel is plush and velvety. If you are looking for a Malbec, this is the one!  You simply couldn’t ask for more.

Grilled sausages or BBQed burgers would be a great match.

 

Santa Carolina Reserve Petit Verdot 2013

Rapel Valley, Chile
$16.95 (Vintages # 7484) 14.5% alcohol

“Petit” in this varietal comes from the small size of the grape berries known for their dense, inky, violet colours. They are good descriptors for the start of this red wine. There’s also a whiff of woodsy herbal aromas. Aged in French oak it offers a hint of vanilla and savoury spice while black currants and ripe plum flavours dance on the palate. Firm, rich tannins and dark fruit concentration hover in the long dry aftertaste. It is a work of art for the price point and begs to accompany something grilled or a Chilean bean stew. The latter food pairing may not be summer fare, but it could sure brighten up a rainy day.

 

C.J. Pask Gimblette Road Cabernet/Merlot/Malbec 2013

Gimblett Gravels, Hawkes Bay, North Island, New Zealand
$19.95 (Vintages #279869) 13.5% alcohol

Talk about legs and length, this red wine blend says it all. This Bordeaux-style red blend delights with aromas of ripe dark plums garnished with smooth, savoury woodsy notes that release on the full fruity palate. Easy going with noticeable tannin and texture that support an enduring dark fruit finish. Would be perfect with a herbed crusted roast of lamb or pork.

 

GRAND TOTAL = $97.75

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Sure sign of spring: Rose wines!

Posted by Julie

Friday, April 28th, 2017
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Fabulous that the latest LCBO Vintages release features varietals from Oregon, Washington and Germany, yet I have chosen to focus on finding the best Rosés to highlight in this blog.

Warm weather is pushing the gauge on the thermometer higher every day. Nothing sends a more summer-like message than pulling out a chilled bottle of pink from the fridge or picnic cooler.  In this release, powerful, playful, pretty, punchy pinks are yours for the picking at GREAT value. (How is that for alliteration?)  Upon entry to any LCBO, your eye cannot help but being drawn to the beautiful rainbow of pinks on the shelves.

A provocative patio sipper, Rosé is also a great food match with anything from salads to fish to tacos and some, like the Serbal Malbec Rosé (below) will stand up to burgers and steak. How versatile is that?

I can’t wait to line up this eye-candy on my kitchen counter (and in my fridge too!).

Passionate about pink 😉
Julie

 

If I only had $100, I would buy . . .
LCBO Vintages Release for Saturday April 29, 2017

 


Vina Esmeralda Ros
é 2016

DO Catalunya, Torres, Spain
$13.95  (Vintages #490920) 12.5 % alcohol

Pale coral in colour, floral aromas, this wine is made with the Garnacha Tinto grape – the most heavily grown in the Mediterranean.  Rosé is also known as Rosado in Spain and Portugal too. On the palate, ripe cherries burst with acidity leaving a tangy lime tangerine in the finish. Clean, refreshing and crisp….and a great price too!

 

 

 

Zone’s Footstep Scarlet Ladybird Rosé 2016

Fleurieu Peninsula, South Australia
$15.95 (Vintages #408476) 13.5% alcohol

Aromas of red roses, pale pinkish with a hint of tangerine in colour.  The flavours are lush and tart. Medium-weight, rhubarb galore with ripe strawberries weaving their way on the palate and fruity finish.

 

 

 

Featherstone Estate Winery Rosé 2015

VQA Niagara Peninsula
$15.95 (Vintages #117861) 13.2% alcohol

It is hard not to write about Featherstone’s Rosé every year. I confess to being a huge fan of all of their wines.  Deep cranberry in colour, vegetal and mineral aromas that open to ripe red berriess on the palate.  There’s some sour cherry at the end which makes it crisp and just plain de-e-e-e-licious.

 

 

 

Atamisque Serbal Malbec Rosé 2016

Mendoza, Chile
$16.95 (Vintages #493031) 13% alcohol

The Atamisque Winery, maker of the Serbal line of wines, is located in the foothills of the Andes Mountain range. The winery also takes its name from the Serbal aboriginal bush. Bright ruby red, the Rosé wine literally glistens in the glass. Sour cherries and savoury spice explode in the taste buds with a noticeable seam of acidity.  Add to this an interesting hint of black pepper. Bone dry and chewy for a Rosé, but packs full-bodied red fruit on the palate and the lengthy fruity finish.

 

 

 

Château de Berne Terres Rosé 2016

AC Côtes de Provence, France
$17.95 (Vintages #278861) 13% alcohol

I did not get a chance to taste this Rosé, but I have no difficulty recommending it & putting it in my shopping basket. Rosé wine was born in Provence and todate, it accounts for half to almost two thirds of all wine produced in the region. It’s also a classic blend of Cinsault and Grenache which offers raspberry, strawberry and red currant flavours. The rosés of Provence are often known for their food pairing matches with local Mediterranean cuisine. You just can’t go wrong.

 

 

 

Brancaia Rosé 2016

IGT Rosato Toscana, Italy
$19.95 (Vintages #490953)  13 % alcohol

Aromas of violets and ripe red berries that come from the Merlot grape flow through on the palate leaving a delicious seam of acidity on the finish. Aged in stainless steel, yet there’s creamy crispness to red juicy fruit. Perfect for happy hour or any hour for that matter.

Check out the drone flight over the Brancaia Wine Estate, if you’re interested in a trip to Tuscany – if only for a few minutes!

GRAND Total of this top Rosé wine picks = $100.70 

 

 

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If I only had $100…I would buy…

Posted by Julie

Saturday, April 22nd, 2017
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Australia is renowned for it’s big juicy fruit driven Shiraz so it was refreshing to see a release that features Aussie whites.  But don’t be shy to venture further when shopping at LCBO’s Vintages this month.  There is an extremely handsome collection of some old tried and trues wines and of course also features wines from the Mediterranean.

Any chance your plans have you traveling to Europe anytime soon?  There are some wines in this release that are bound to put you in the mood for packing for a trip!

I’d say…this shopping list definitely puts me in the mood to pick up one of everything.

Cheers to all good things and the arrival of Spring,

-Julie

 

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

 

Madison Ranch Chardonnay 2014

Napa Valley, California
$22.95 (Vintages #441113) 14.5% alcohol

Plush aromas of baked cake and tropical fruit. A full bodied elegant white wine loaded with ripe yellow apple and banana flavours, rich, creamy and buttery, a classic California Chardonnay.

With a soft seam of acidity, there is some vanilla and lemony sweet spice on the end, a full-bodied Chardonnay not for those who like a wine with style.  Absolutely delicious.

 

 

 

Chapoutier Tournon Mathilda 2014

Victoria, Australia
$17.95 (Vintages #401398) 13% alcohol

Aromas you could catch across a room! Expansive fruit with floral overtones, soft white blossoms, honeysuckle, almost perfumed tropical fruit in this blend of Viognier and Marsanne white wine. Juicy peaches and pears on the palate, soft, easy and smooth, it’s the type of wine that everyone would like, inoffensive yet delicate, loaded with nutty fruit flavours.

Enjoy on it’s own or with lighter fare, it would also be perfect with summer salads.

 

 

 

Cotnari Fetească Albă 2014

DOC Cotnari, Roumania
$12.95  (Vintages #012088) 12% alcohol

Cotnari is the most famous Romanian wine producing region located in eastern Romania very near the Moldovan border. Fetească Albă is the most widely grown and best known grape varietal. I love discovering a new wine at such an incredible price point. This golden coloured nectar is slightly off-dry with tropical fruit aromas. It’s fruity; there’s pineapple, ripe pear and honeysuckle on the creamy palate but also got some mandarin and petrol on the smooth finish. It’s an easy wine wine sipper or would be a great match for spicy foods.

 

 

 

Henry of Pelham Family Tree Red 2014

VQA Niagara Peninsula
$18.95 (Vintages #247882) 13.5% alcohol

The Speck family has yet another reason to be proud. On the nose are aromas of the unmistakeable Baco Noir grape, a little smokiness, then layers of cherries and nutty flavours from the time spent in French and American oak for 17 months. Aside from Baco Noir is the classic blend of Syrah, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.

Loads of personality as these varietals complement each other. Bone dry and juicy, well structured tannins; bring out a roast of beef or grilled ribs, it’s a beauty.

 

Papale Linea Oro Primitivo Di Manduria 2013

DOP, Puglia, Italy
$18.95 (Vintages #261784) 14% alcohol

Way back in July 2013, I discovered this gem and wrote on it in my If I had $100 blog.  Papale is made from the Primitivo grape vinified in the Puglia region. In 2008, 115 bottles of the vintage  was purchased by the Vatican following the election of Pope Francis in 2013.

I call this my Osso Bucco wine. Any chef knows that if you go through the labour of love to prepare Osso Bucco, you want a great wine to accompany.  Deep crimson bold with personality of firm ripe cherries, plums and peppery spice highlight the palate. Full-bodied, a little chewy and deep berry flavours intermingle with noticeable tannins that linger forever on the smooth finish. I would serve this dinner to the Pope!

 

 

GRAND TOTAL – $91.75

 

BTW…Since I came in well under budget, I thought I’d recommend a great medium bodied Portuguese wine called Animus 2014 from Douro at $12.95 a bottle.  Great for burgers, pizza or those mindless nights that call for something cheap and cheerful – it’s a steal and I’m picking up a few.  (Vintages #385302).  If you find an extra $4.70 your grand total is $104.70.

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Hop to the LCBO

Posted by Julie

Friday, April 14th, 2017
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So what’s everyone serving for Easter? Today a roast lamb is in the oven, then ham or turkey or perhaps this year will be salmon on Easter Monday.  In my house, it all depends how many are coming for dinner (or how much cooking is involved!).  All to say, whatever is going onto your table, guaranteed you’ll find an elegant wine from my taste tested shopping list below to help celebrate Easter or Passover keeping in mind the best celebration is shared with family and friends.

Beyond the spring-feast friendly wines, the front pages of the Vintages magazine highlights “Visionaries, Innovators and Pioneers (VIP)” and celebrates the lives of several winery owners. No wonder this release features their wines entitled “Industry Influences”.  (I had to say it twice myself.)

Happy hopping into the LCBO.  There are great eggs…bottles…to find in Vintages,

Julie

 

 

 If I only had $100, I would buy . . .
LCBO Vintages Release for Saturday April 1, 2017

 

Tzafona Cellars Cold Climate Unoaked Chardonnay KP 2015

VQA Niagara Peninsula
$22.95 (Vintages #485276)  13% alcohol

Vegan friendly and Kosher (for Passover certified) this elegant vintage hails practically from our backyard in Niagara. Interestingly, Tzafona means northwards in ancient Hebrew. Creamy and soft as silk, ripe melon plays on the palate. It’s medium-bodied with tropical fruit flavours, clean and smooth with some ripe pears and creme caramel on the finish. It’s a mighty fine tasting Chardonnay and would partner with delicacies from turkey to salmon to fresh spring greens salads.

 

 

 

Ken Forrester Old Vine Reserve Chenin Blanc 2016

WO Stellenbosch, South Africa
$17.95 (Vintages #231282)  13.5% alcohol

Although Chenin’s (also known as Pineau de la Loire and many other names) birthplace may be in the Loire Valley, this varietal represents 18% of South Africa’s acreage under vine. White honeyed-floral aromas waft through this golden hued beauty, slightly effervescent, tart but rich yellow apples and apricots play on the palate. Medium-bodied with a light fresh texture, earthy almost nutty flavours on the finish. It’s a stunning wine. It would be great with turkey, fish, curry or to sip on its own when you finally put your feet up after spending the afternoon ‘slaving’ in the kitchen.

 

 

 

Stratus Vineyards Wildass Riesling

VQA Niagara Peninsula
$16.95 (Vintages #129700) 11.6% alcohol

“Bring on the petrol” I heard one product consultant say as she exclaimed she was glad she brought a few cases of this into her store. For those who love a minerally wine, fresh, clean with distinct lemony peach flavours this is your wine.  Medium-bodied and just slightly off-dry, it’s one lovely sipper and very food friendly.  You could pair this baby with just about anything white and light or spicy.

 

 

Dandelion Vineyards Lionheart of the Barossa Shiraz 2014

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

There were so many gold star stickers on this bottle, I stopped counting. A dazzling rich dense purple, assertive dark fruit flavours without being too fruit forward. Some savoury and earthy notes mingle with the mid to full-bodied blueberry, blackberry flavours. Balanced with noticeable tannins and savoury spice on the finish. It’s a gem and going on my table with a roast of lamb.

 

Les Halos De Jupiter Côtes du Rhône

AC, France
$17.95 (Vintages #276956) 15% alcohol

Not a bit of wonder it is featured as wine of the month. When you see AC, you know you are buying a quality French wine whose grapes are grown in a certain appellation in France such as Côtes du Rhône. A delicious blend of Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre, rich red velvet in colour and loads of deep dark berries, ripe plums on the palate. The palate is silky, nicely balanced, integrated tannins weave through raspberry flavours with a peppery finish.  Bone dry and smooth with plenty of longevity. I’d pick up a couple for some burgers or steak this summer, when you can put the feet up and just enjoy the heat in more ways than one.

 

 

GRAND TOTAL – $97.75

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

Posted by Julie

Friday, February 17th, 2017
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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

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

Posted by Julie

Friday, February 3rd, 2017
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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 🙂 

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