You need to upgrade your Flash Player This is replaced by the Flash content. Place your alternate content here and users without the Flash plugin or with Javascript turned off will see this. Content here allows you to leave out noscript tags. Include a link to bypass the detection if you wish.

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

A spring time wines shopping list…

Posted by Julie

Saturday, April 12th, 2014
Bookmark and Share

The LCBO Vintages is sure pulling out all the bells and whistles for it this weekend's (April 12) release to coincide with Easter celebrations. Regardless of religious beliefs, countries all over the world seem to celebrate Easter in various ways. Some people deliver chocolate or real eggs & live bunnies, throw pots of water out of windows, fly homemade kites or ski. Regardless the tradition, Easter is a symbol of spring and fertility. Albeit, as I write this I have not seen many sprouting daffodils but regardless of country, most cultures bring out wine, spirits and their best ethnic food for the occasion.

LCBO Vintages magazine April 12Whether you having a traditional Easter feast of turkey, ham, fish, lamb, all or any of the above (invite me please!) you certainly need some wine to help wash it down. To help decide which ones, I have made this weekend's shopping list for a spring time feast that would be great to serve with any of the above dishes.  And a splash of little icewine is always a nice finale to any meal - I recommend Reif Vidal Icewine 2012 (Vintages #3544791) as it would not break the bank at $24.95.

Spring always cheers us on and with these releases we’re well on our way to bunny hopping.

 

Happy Easter!
Julie

 

Cathedral Cellar Brut SparklingCathedral Cellar Brut Sparkling 2010

Méthode Cap Classique, WO Western Cape, South Africa
KWV
$16.95 (Vintages #296426) 12% alcohol

Sparkling wine is an elegant start to any event and impossible to go wrong with this Chardonnay and Pinot Noir blend. Light, moussey bubbles abound, fine texture with a chalky base, slightly toasty with lemon, pear flavours and a touch minerality. A fabulous price point for this bone dry beautiful bubbly.

 

Lailey Chardonnay 2012Lailey Chardonnay 2012

VQA Niagara Peninsula
$19.95  (Vintages #193482)  13.5% alcohol

Winemaker, Derek Barnett must sleep well at night. On 20 acres of premium Niagara land, and from 100% Ontario grown grapes the end result is an absolutely magnificent white wine. I am a huge Lailey fan and this is a beautiful Chardonnay. Smooth as silk on the palate with ripe yellow apple and honeydew melon flavours, a pinch citrus and a clean refreshing finish. It is a tantalizing white wine, sending you back for more. It would food pair with all the usual Chardonnay partners but it is so delicious, I recommend it on its own. 

 

Newton Johnson Pinot NoirNewton Johnson Pinot Noir 2012

WO Upper Hemel en aarde Valley, Walker Bay
South Africa
$26.95 (Vintages # 660878)  13.5% alcohol

This new Pinot on the block does not disappoint. Lovely smooth red cherry flavour with soft herbs and tannins. This red wine has quite a respectable length and is a wine with finesse. A perfect accompaniment to turkey or ham.

 

SkuttlebuttStella Bella Skuttlebutt Shiraz/Cabernet 2009

Margaret River, Western Australia
$19.95 (Vintages # 58131) 14% alcohol

After I taste 30-40 bottles of wine, my handwriting becomes skewed and I shorten words that I can only guess later, however my notes on this were clear and when I place mega stars, that’s a definite that I must pick up a couple of bottles. Rich berry flavours deep garnet purple a little woodsy with loads of flavour and texture. Medium bodied red wine with soft tannins; a great drinking wine and as for food - lamb stew to anything grilled would more than work and be enjoyed.

 

Featherstone RoseFeatherstone Rosé 2013

VQA Niagara Peninsula
$14.95 (Vintages # 117861) 13% alcohol

Years ago I took pictures of the Featherstone winery with sheep nibbling at the grape leaves to help ripen the grapes.  Fond memories. Nothing says spring like a beautiful glass of salmon coloured rosé. In my opinion, most rosés have flavours of strawberries, and often rhubarb, which is true for this rosé however I also found some savoury, vegetal elements with juicy acidity, This rosé wine is medium bodied with a longer finish than many others. Makes for a great appertif and has enough structure to match any lighter fare dishes.

 

 I’m ready for Easter - Grand Total: $ 98.75

30 Reasons to love Vintages

Posted by Debbie

Friday, March 28th, 2014
Bookmark and Share

We can always count on Vintages to bring in new products every few weeks to expand our palate & keep our hopes pining on new wines, if not spring. So even if it looks like this winter is never going to end...pop into your local LCBO Vintages with this shopping list to discover a whole new world of wine.

LCBO Vintages March 29 magazineThis weekend's LCBO Vintages release features wineries, places and grapes that I have never read or heard about let alone tasted.  All the while educating my own mind and palate I hope to offer you some new information as well. I guess a wine writer should not admit such things, but the more I read and taste, the more I realize I have hardly scratched the surface in the wine world.

So if there is a less than a perfect spring day in the near future, have a stroll through Vintages, pick up some bottles, read new labels and I hope you venture into the unknown as I have done with these choices below.

Spring will come...eventually!

- Julie

 

 If I only had a $100, I would buy these wines at LCBO Vintages
March 29th

 

Invivo Pinot Gris 2012Invivo Pinot Gris 2012

Marlborough, South Island, New Zealand
$18.95 (Vintages # 367771) 13.5% alcohol

I never think there is enough in a Pinot Gris to keep me interested but this one sure proves me wrong. Aromatic and crisp flavours of citrus, ripe pear and green apple but bone dry. It is a medium bodied white wine, full of fresh flavours with a lingering wet stone finish and some tropical fruit. I found this Pinot to be absolutely delicious and is a perfect afternoon sipper or with a light lunch with simple open faced sandwiches and a little salad.

 

Jip Jip Rocks Unoaked Chardonnay 2012Jip Jip Rocks Unoaked Chardonnay 2012

Padthaway, South Australia
$15.95 (Vintages #175752) 13% alcohol

The label on the wine says “seriously fun” so you have to wonder what this means. But it is a nice easy Chardonnay that almost has flavours of a Sauvignon Blanc and Riesling (oh dare I said that) but it has a great minerality taste with mild tropical fruits, very fresh and clean on the palate. A great afternoon white wine sipper and that to me is “fun”.

 

Frogpond Farm Organic Chambourcin 2010Frogpond Farm Organic Chambourcin 2010

VQA Ontario
$14.00 (Vintages #367078) 12.4% alcohol 

Frogpond Farm is a fully organic-certified winery in Ontario. This means their wines are created without any insecticides, herbicides, synthetic fungicides or chemical fertilizers.  Don’t ask me what the first three are, but if the rest of the wine I drink contains these elements, maybe I better have a look at the label.

Made from the Chambourcin grape -  a French/American hybrid - which means a European grape vine was crossed with an American vine. The latter are known to be more resistant to disease.  Frogpond Chambourcin red wine is light-bodied with loads of red berry flavours. It is a little reminiscent of a Beaujolais or a great Gamay wine and would be a nice accompaniment to a chicken in a creamy sauce.

 

Las Moras Black Label Cabernet 2010Las Moras Black Label Cabernet/Cabernet 2010

San Juan, Argentina
$15.95 (Vintages # 357921) 14% alcohol 

A yummy blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc, rich in dark berry colours, a few pencil shavings (that is a good thing!), some leather, green pepper, and chocolate. Can easily be enjoyed on its own but has enough structure and depth to pair with any grilled meats or sausage.

This wine also happened to be the winner of Silver medals at the at the International Wine and Spirit Competition and the Decanter Asia Wine Awards in 2012. At that price point, you can’t go wrong - pick up a travel magazine on Argentina, pour yourself a glass & sit back to enjoy.

 

Giordano Chianti Riserva 2010Giordano Chianti Riserva 2010

DOCG, Italy
$17.95 (Vintages #366971) 13% alcohol 

A fabulous new red wine addition to the Vintages collection, this aromatic blend of 90% Sangiovese and 10% Canaiolo is full of dark cherry flavours, smooth and medium bodied. It’s a juicy blend with a little woodsmoke that would be great with pizza or a simple pasta with spicy tomato sauce, not too many tannins and a little sweet spice on the finish, a fabulous new find.

 

Kim Crawford Pansy! Rosé 2013Kim Crawford Pansy! Rosé 2013

Hawkes Bay, North Island, New Zealand
$17.95 (Vintages #650325) 12 % alcohol

Not new to Vintages but I snuck this one in to see who is paying attention. I am a huge “Kimmy” fan and at least one of his wines is usually stocked in my cupboard at home. His winery and “The man behind the Brand” also makes for an interesting read in that his winery was not without some scandal, thankfully that all cleared his name. “Pansy” is a lovely rosé wine. A Malbec and Merlot blend, such a pretty pink in a glass. It reminds me of the wild berries I used to pick in the field behind house I grew up in. If hope could spring eternal in a bottle, this would be it. I am reminded that very soon I will be gazing at tulips and sipping rosé.

 

Grand Total: $100.75

Can anyone spare me 75 cents? I did find 6 great new releases- you be the judge.

 

Rid your ol wine buying habits & discover something new!

Posted by Debbie

Friday, March 14th, 2014
Bookmark and Share

Whether you say it as Californ-I-eh, or sing Cal-iiiiiii-fornnnnn-yaaaaa, the word California denotes sunshine, and in the wine world - big bold wines. Chardonnay, red Zinfandel (or if you prefer the pink blush kind instead), Cabernet Sauvignon are all wines synonymous with this west coast state. At the LCBO Vintages this week, you will find loads of California wines that will remind you that spring is around the corner.

California cover Vintages MagazineSometimes these big wines can have a hefty price tag.  When I was on the mission to spend less than $100 for this blog, I did not include any California wines in my shopping cart this time around.  Instead....here's a tip - for approx. $70, pick up a ticket to the California Wine Fair where you can enjoy endless sips of 100s of California wines.  This annual event quickly sells out and in my opinion is always worth every penny.  Winemakers from all regions of the state tour across 9 cities in Canada to showcase their latest wines.

This release introduces us to wines from not-often-heard-of regions in Ontario - Georgian Bay & South Coast (aka Dover). As I always like to discover Canadian wines, I made sure that I sipped & made notes on these featured wines....and put an impressive red wine in my shopping cart (see below).

And in the name of discovering new wine regions, I encourage you to pick up a bottle of wine from Israel.   Israel makes wine??? You better believe it...and be ready to be impressed. Here's an idea - next time your friends are over, open a bottle & serve it 'blind' (wrap the bottle in tin foil to cover up the label).

Cheers & Enjoy!
-Debbie

 If I only had a $100, I would buy these wines at LCBO Vintages
March 15th

Domaine de VaugondyDomaine de Vaugondy Brut Vouvray

Loire, France
$15.95 (Vintages 154567) 12% alcohol

Celebrate spring with some bubbly! And at this price you won’t get anything better than this.  Made with Chenin Blanc grapes, this dry, crisp sparkling wine is refreshing, while making a statement – it doesn’t get much better than this…at this price.  Serve chilled for a springtime brunch, or put a splash of cassis for Kir Royal or orange juice for Mimosas.  Whichever is your pleasure, this sparkling wine is the an incredible right price, you’d think it should be $30+ a bottle.  Enjoy!

 

13 Torrontes Passion white winePasion 4 Torrontes Joffré

Argentina
$14.95 (Vintages 361063) 13.6% alcohol

Looking for something to help you snap out of the winter blues? Pour a glass of this white wine – it is springtime in a glass!   Fresh floral aromas will bounce out of your glass with refreshing acidity in this sparkling wine that makes this crisp white wine a joy to sip on its own or to have with Edamme beans or a simple plate of sushi.

 

Quail's Gate ChardonnayQuail’s Gate Chardonnay

Okanagan, British Columbia
$20.95 (Vintages 377770) 14% alcohol

“Start the car!” Grab some of this incredible BC white wine & run! At this price, they are giving this big buttery Chardonnay away.  With every sip, all I could think of is that this white wine would be great with artisan cheeses – hard & soft.  Classic, easy drinking & delicious.  Do I really need to say more?

 

Burning Kiln Strip Room Merlot Cab FrancBurning Kiln Strip Room Merlot/Cabernet VQA 2012

VQA Ontario
$24.95 (Vintages 327700) 13.9% alcohol

Dust off the snow & fire up the BBQ.  This red wine is begging for a steak, burgers or even pork chops straight from the grill.  Loaded with smoke notes, full bodied aromas of overripe red & black fruit, this is a dynamite red wine from Ontario!

 

Tabor Earth Series Shiraz

Israel
$22.95 (Vintages 356709) 14.2% alcohol

Don’t even notice the fact that this wine in Kosher, rather, note that it is from Israel!  This is definitely something different & will undoubtedly spark conversation around the dinner table at your Easter feast or next dinner party.  BIG red wine with aromas & tastes of warm spices, pomegranates & dark chocolate.  There are a number of red wines from Israel in this Vintages release and they are all worth a try. I visited the wineries 4 years ago and I was super impressed by the wines….now it is your turn to try them!

Grand total: $99.75 – with a quarter to spare!

 

Cabernet is King!

Posted by Debbie

Friday, February 28th, 2014
Bookmark and Share

Last weekend's Academy Awards shone the spotlight on the top movies, actors & directors of the year.  While at the LCBO, they have crowned Cabernet Sauvignon as 'King' of their latest release.   I tried several from every point across the globe & was impressed by many.  Also impressed by the differences.  Typically we think of Cabernets as knock your socks off red to enjoy with steak & prime rib.  While the ones that I tasted made a statement, they ranged from medium to full bodied, were elegant, well balanced & made a good impression.  No doubt in my mind that they would be enhanced with food from BBQed pork chops to Sunday roasts with all of the trimmings.

And drinking only Cabernets - or many red wines for that matter - will turn your lips & teeth purple, I have added to my shopping list some white wines & other interesting reds to add to your shopping cart.

OLCBO cover March 1 2014h...and you may be surprised to see that the LCBO is shining the spotlight on wines from Israel. Mark my words - you will see more.  Five years ago, I was invited by the Embassy of Israel in Ottawa to join the first media tour of Canadian wine writers.  We were impressed by the incredible wineries that we visited & the HUGE wines that we tasted.  Now it is your turn to pick up a bottle & explore. Don't by shy because it is labelled Kosher - this does not impact the taste, only the winemaking process.  All 6 wines from Israel in this release were good - splurge & you too will be impressed.

Cheers!
-Debbie

 

If I only had a $100, I would buy these wines at LCBO Vintages

 

Wingspan Sauvignon BlancWingspan Sauvignon Blanc

New Zealand
$17.95 (Vintages 365403) 13% alcohol

This is springtime in a glass.  Classic Sauvignon Blanc – cut grass (do you remember that smell after this long hard winter?), fresh herbs (thyme & mint) combined with aromas & tastes of white flowers & citrus fruits. This will melt away all thoughts of winter.  Enjoy with spring roasted chicken or fresh asparagus.

 

Apollonio SquinzanoApollonio Squizano

Italy, Puglia
$17.95 (Vintages 362475)  14% alcohol

If you don’t speak Italian nor have 20/20 eyesight you will miss this wine all together! I have never seen a label with font so small….and it is all in Italian! Ask any LCBO Product Consultant (look for those with a gold badge) and say that you are looking for the ‘Squizzy’ wine, they will apparently know exactly what you are looking for.  This Nebillio red wine is my new favorite.  Apparently this winery releases frequently into Vintages incredible red wines under $20.  Big, loaded with black fruit and a long finish.  Be on the lookout for this wine from this lesser known Italian wine region 

Cedarcreek Cab MerlotCedarCreek Estates Cabernet Merlot

Okanagan Valley, BC
$24.95 (Vintages 175604) 13.9% alcohol

What?!?! Under $25 for this medium to full red wine from British Columbia – how can this be so? Loaded with red & black fruit, this wine deserves to be served with beef tenderloin, Sunday roast with all the trimmings or BBQed ribs.  Buy 2 or 3 bottles while you are at it!

 

treaty-tree-233x1000Flagstone Treaty Tree Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot

South Africa
$16.95 (Vintages 278382) 13.5% alcohol

There was a buzz around the room about this wine.  Eyebrows were raising with each sip.  BIG and I mean BIG aromas & tastes in this plush red wine of black fruit (figs, dates) and bumbleberry jam.  Smooth texture & long finish – this was a great surprise. At this price, make it your weekday wine.

 

Dante Robino Bonarda

Argentina
$14.95 (Vintages 277640) 13.9% alcohol

Never heard of Bonarda grape variety? At this price, grab this wine & discover what you have been missing. Medium full bodied with concentrated aromas of red berries, plush texture in the mouth and well integrated tannins.  A food wine – bring on lamb chops or sit down to a hearty Sunday roast.

 

Grand total: $92.75

On our podium – ‘Must buy’ wines for Olympic moments

Posted by Susan

Friday, February 14th, 2014
Bookmark and Share

Did you know. . . The LCBO is one of the largest purchasers of wine & spirits in the world! This latest release at the LCBO Vintages we benefit from an outstanding selection of ‘Buyer’s Picks’ from some of France’s best-known wine regions.  

LCBO Vintages Sat Feb 15There’s something for everyone. A selection of two Champagnes and numerous award-winning red wines representing such prestigious ‘appellation d’origine contrôlée’ or AOC (France’s designation of origin granted to specific geographical areas for wine, cheese and other products) from Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Côtes du Rhône-Villages, Cahors, Beaune and Bordeaux, to name a few. Among these, I found that there are some good values to be had, including Paul Zinck ‘Portrait’ Gewürztraminer, Domaine Gautheron Chablis and Domaine Gerard Charvet ‘La Réserve d’Amélie’ Moulin-a-Vent.

Also on the Podium: Award-Winning Ontario Wines 

The spotlight shines on several stars from Ontario:

Konzelmann Vidal Icewine 2010 - recognized with a 2013 Lieutenant-Governor’s Award for Excellence in Ontario Wine

Huff Estates ‘Cuvée Peter F. Huff’ 2007 - named in honour for the late son of the winery owners.  This sparkling wine has won two of the coveted Lieutenant-Governor’s Award for Excellence in Ontario Wine

Pillitteri ‘Exclamation Reserve’ Cabernet Franc 2010 - a gold-medal winner at the 2013 Ontario Wine Awards, and recipient of the award for Best Red Wine of the Year

Malivoire Gamay 2012 and Malivoire Chardonnay 2011 - won Gold and Silver respectively at the 2013 Ontario Wine Awards.

And there are more winners!

The general release (winespeak: the wines always available at the LCBO 24/7) offers a great selection of wines from around the world that are 'must buys on my wine shopping list'.

Top of the list is my favorite Crémant de Bourgogne - Louis Bouillot Perle d’Aurore

The very tasty and well-structured Benzinger Cabernet Sauvignon

The full-flavoured Zuccardi ‘Q’ Malbec (my tasting notes below)

Tuscany’s tasty Bibbiano Chianti Classico

The value-laden Monasterio de las Vinas ‘Gran Reserva’ from the Carinena region of Spain.

And if you’re a Riesling lover, I’d recommend these two: Tawse ‘Sketches of Niagara’ Riesling 2012 (of course!), Kilkanoon ‘Killerman’s Run’ Riesling 2012.

Among the Ontario wines in the general release, I’ve already mentioned the Tawse Riesling. If you are looking for an organic or biodynamic wine, try the very fine Southbrook ‘Triomphe’ Chardonnay (my tasting notes below). Among the red wines, I would add to my shopping cart the very intense, robust Château des Charmes ‘Paul Bosc Estate Vineyard’ Pinot Noir 2010.  If you’re craving something sweet, you can’t go wrong with the Konzelmann Vidal Icewine.

Cheers and happy sipping with your Valentine,

Susan

If I had $100...I would buy at LCBO Vintages

 

Southbrook Triomph Chardonnay 2012Southbrook Vineyards ‘Triomphe’ Chardonnay 2012

VQA Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario
$22.95 (Vintages #172338) 12.5% alcohol

Enjoy the aromas of cinnamon toast, vanilla, tropical fruit, ripe pear and apple of this finely crafted dry, medium-bodied organic and biodynamic white wine. It's wine is delightfully round and creamy, yet fresh, the pear and tropical fruit replaying on the palate, mingling with vanilla and toasted nut. The fresh yet subtle acidity brings balance and refinement to a rich fruity finish. Enjoy with a lemony roast chicken.

Zuccardi Q Malbec 2011Zuccardi ‘Q’ Malbec 2011

Mendoza, Argentina
$19.95 (Vintages #723478) 14.5% alcohol

Inky and opaque, this award winner delivers attractive complexity in aromas and flavours, balance of richness and structure. On the nose, lifted aromas of ripe black fruit, exotic spice, campfire smoke, licorice and vanilla dance. This red wine is dry, full bodied, the subtle underlying structure frames black berry and cherry fruit, toasty oak, sweet spice and hints of dark chocolate. Quite lush, it’s warm and deliciously fruity through the lasting, flavourful finish. A great choice on a cold winter’s night to pair with stew or meatballs in a mushroom sauce.

Domaine Gerard Charvet la Reserve d'Amelie Moulin a ventDomaine Gérard Charvet ‘La Réserve d’Amélie’ Moulin-à-Vent 2012

AP Moulin-à-Vent, France
$20.90 (Vintages #356741) 13.0% alcohol

An award-winner, this is really an outstanding example of a Cru Beaujolais Gamay. The nose entices with wonderful aromas of freshly-picked strawberry, red plum, sweet spice and a wisp of vanilla. Dry, medium bodied, the red fruit flavours are focused, the notes of spice and vanilla replaying. The defined yet refined structure of this red wine provides lovely balance, the texture is fresh and the finish is dry and flavourful. Enjoy this versatile red wine with duck confit, charcuterie, ham or beef bourgignon.

Tenuta Sant'Antonio Monti GarbiTenuta Sant’Antonio ‘Monti Garbi’ Ripasso Valpolicella Superiore 2010

Valpolicella Superiore, Italy
$17.95 (Vintages #29850) 14.0% alcohol

This ruby gem of a red wine has great depth of flavour, balance and refinement. Aromas and flavours of cherries and berries and dominate, mingling with spice and an earthy quality. Dry, medium-full bodied, the texture is clean and lively, a balance to the ripe red fruit, a touch of spice and the warmth of white pepper persisting on the long-lasting finish. Enjoy this with braised herbed chicken. 

Monasterio de las Vinas Gran REserva 2005Monasterio de las Viñas Gran Reserva 2005

Cariñena, Spain
$16.95 (Vintages #82024) 13.0% alcohol

Principally Garnacha, blended with Tempranillo and Cariñena, this evolved, balanced red wine was aged 2 years in oak and held 3 years in bottle prior to release. It’s opaque, with spicy fruit aromas, notes of vanilla and a whiff of leather. Dry, full bodied, there’s great depth of ripe fruit flavour, notions of sweet baking spice and a remarkably fresh texture to the wine. It retains good structure, flavour and depth of fruit flavour through the long dry finish. Enjoy with paella.

 

Grand Total: $98.70

 

 

 

 

Impressive wines to uncork on Valentines Day

Posted by Julie

Thursday, January 30th, 2014
Bookmark and Share

Valentine’s Day is around the corner and while some folks may be thinking red roses, I’m thinking of a dinner with my husband that starts off with a glass of bubbles, a white wine with a soup or salad, followed by a silky red to pair with the main meal...then top off the evening with an icewine.

vintagesI had a hard time narrowing down my choices especially with so many award winners....I have chosen 4 fabulous wines that amount to no more than $100 total at the cash. On Valentine’s Day, my husband & I usually prefer to stay at home and enjoy a nice dinner but the evening does not have to be a work horse. I have some SIMPLE pairing suggestions to accompany these great wines.

On Feb.14, I will be working in Moscow, but I’ll be squirreling away the bottles listed below for a great dinner upon our return. I would love to hear about anything that you find remarkable.

Happy Valentine’s day, from my heart to yours!

Julie

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

 

Pfaffenheim Brut Rose Cremant d'Alsace sparkling winePfaffenheim Brut Rosé Crémaunt D'Alsace

AC, Alsace, France
$17.95 (Vintages #352203) 12 % alcohol

A lovely sparkling wine, a dreamy and so romantic soft pink colour with flavours and tastes of summer berries with a perfect punch of acidity. One of those wines that could take you through an entire dinner and dessert or just to enjoy on its own. Oh and did I mention it was a Gold Medal winner at the 2012 Concours Mondial de Bruxelles. I’m not the only one that loved it.  Bring out some Miss Vickie’s potato crisps and a few shrimp, what a start to your evening!

Irony Chardonnay white wineIrony Chardonnay 2011

California
$19.95 (Vintages #027409)   14.5% alcohol

Aromas of butterscotch pudding and buttered toasty almonds made me think this Chard. might be a little sweet, but it dissipates into tastes of tropical fruit, bone dry with a tad citrus, a mouth coating lengthy finish and the word “yum” just sprung to my mind. Although not a new product to Vintages, thankfully I have finally tasted this white wine. I like a full-bodied and rich Chardonnay during the winter months and this would be sheer bliss with a creamy squash or carrot and ginger soup. (You don’t have to slave in the kitchen, there are some great jars of soup out there.)  

Signargues Cotes du Rhone red wineLes Vignerons Du Castelas Vieilles Vignes Signargues

Côtes du Rhône-Villages 2010
$16.95  (Vintages #034116)  14% alcohol

Dark garnet in colour with cigar box and black currant aromas, full bodied with tastes of lavender, liquorce/pepper and a little fruitcake. How you go wrong with a Grenache and Syrah with 20% Carignan. It has good structure and balance, some smooth but nippy tannins as only a fine Rhone valley red wine provides. It is an amazing price point considering this was a Gold Medal winner at the 2011 Concours Général Agricole in Paris.  I plan to serve this will some roasted pork tenderloin, ground hazelnut crust, sweet potatoes and green beans and am salivating as I write.

Henry of Pelham IcewineHenry of Pelham Cabernet Icewine 2012

VQA Short Hills Bench, Niagara Peninsula
$39.95 (Vintages #672402)  10% alcohol

The floral on the nose is reminiscent of an English country garden but with strawberry and rhubarb flavours on the palate not to mention a little citrus. No one could not adore this beautiful, elegant and refined taste. The marmalade sweetness makes it a perfect dessert wine with a seam of acidity that make your taste buds pay attention. This Icewine has a long lingering finish that just sends you back for more. It would be heaven served with a great baker’s lemon or raspberry tart followed by a little artisan blue cheese - a perfect first class Canadian finale. Who needs the Olympics?

Grand Total: $ 94.80

 

 

 

Warm up your winter with this shopping list of wine from the LCBO

Posted by Julie

Friday, January 17th, 2014
Bookmark and Share

The LCBO Vintages release for this weekend offers a fabulous assortment of reasonably priced wine to ward off winter chills. If you want some HOT new wines - go to Spain, or easier still, taste some of these trendy Spanish releases from Ribero del Duero, Catalonia & Rioja.  And we are treated with some British Columbia wines too.

VintagesI can hardly believe (is it almost the end of January already?) that this release is offering celebratory single malts for Scottish poet, Robbie Burns (born January 25, 1759) whose contribution to Scottish culture is best known for his work of “Auld Lang Syne”. Many pubs celebrate Burn’s night by offering traditional hagis. This release offers Bunnahabhain 18 Year old Islay Single Malt (Vintages $247049 at $149.95) or Edradour The Distillery Edition 10 years old Highland Single Malt (Vintages# 904995 at $83.95). I have not ventured into the world of scotch yet, so these fine whiskies will not be in my basket but if you like your wee drams - enjoy!

Now, if I was tempted to really splurge, I would pick up “The King’s Ginger Liqueur” (Vintages #269407 $44.95). For anyone who loves candied ginger and vibrant lemon flavours, you will be over the moon with a glass of this decadent treat. Besides if you happen to catch a cold, it’s always good to have something remedial on hand - I am certain that this would do the trick!

Wishing you delicious tastings in 2014,

Julie

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


 

Dirty Laundry Not So Knotty white wine ChardonnayDirty Laundry Not So Knotty Chardonnay 2012

VQA Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, Canada
$26.95 (Vintages #353144) 13.9% alcohol

You have to love the play on words “not so knotty” which means while fermenting, the grapes did not soak in oak barrels for months or taste of trees. That said, there was some partial barrel fermentation but its final destination was in stainless steel. It’s a beauty Chard, with all kinds of apple and stone aromas and flavours, a little spice and a fresh lengthy smooth finish in this white wine. While I don’t usually spend this much on Chardonnay this one really caught my attention; it’s so silky ! This gem would be perfect with a crown roast of pork.

Beronia Viura white wine from SpainBeronia Viura 2012

DOC Rioja, Spain
$14.95 (Vintages#190801) 12% alcohol

This is so different. For many of us, Rioja (located in northeastern Spain) means red wine, so it was a surprise to also discover this white wine from Rioja. Made from the Macabeo grape also known as the Viura grape, it is often blended with other grapes perhaps because it has characteristically mild fruit flavours. This wine is bone dry and crisp with subtle lemon lime aromas and seam of acidity. It has a little wet stone but with such a clean taste and oh so fresh. I would normally associate this as a hot summertime wine, but since it’s been brought to Vintages for January, I could not pass it by.  It would be delicious with a meal of fish - we still eat fish in the wintertime, right?

Sister's Run Cabernet Sauvignon red wineSister’s Run Bethlehem Block Cabernet Sauvignon 2011

Barossa Valley, South Australia
$16.95 (Vintages #360636) 14.5% alcohol

This hearty red wine just calls out for a fireplace, some artisan bread and hearty stew. Having said that it’s medium to full bodied, beautifully coloured dark crimson, with some spicy, woodsy aromas and an abundance of dark fruit flavours. The tannins are soft but expressive and the raspberry and smoke flavours offer huge sips of satisfying richness.

Chateau de Nages vieilles vignes red wineChateau De Nages Vieilles Vignes

AC Costieres de Nimes, France
$17.95 (Vintages #040964 14% alcohol

This is not just another pretty label! You can't go wrong with a blend of 60% Grenache, 30% Syrah, and 10% Mourvedre? A beautiful dark rich purple colour with flavours and aromas of cassis, blackberries and currants, some forest floor that just made me heady after one sip. This red wine shows complexity and strength, it’s beautifully balanced, full-bodied and at that price point, I thought at first I must be mistaken. I’ve put 2 bottles down on my shopping list to have on hand for those wintery nights that call for a prime rib.

J. Lohr South Ridge Syrah red wineJ. Lohr South Ridge Syrah 2011

Paso Robles, California, U.S.A.
$19.95 (Vintages #948240) 13.5% alcohol

For those of you who read my blogs, you know I always try to seek out new and unusual wines to write about. When I tasted this, it just reminded me how well made and delicious a Syrah can taste. J. Lohr wines never disappoint and we always have a bottle of their regular list Cabernet Sauvignon red wine in our cupboard. It also makes a nice hostess gift for an unexpected invite. This dark cherry Syrah is elegant and delicious, lots of ripe fruit forward berries, wrapped in a little spice and pencil box,with a long velvety finish. Soft tannins prevail and with some slow braised lamb shanks it would make a fabulous, casual but classy dinner.

Grand Total: $ 96.75

 

 

Festive fizz & must buy holiday wines

Posted by Susan

Friday, December 6th, 2013
Bookmark and Share

Corks are popping as the festive season kicks into full swing.  Appropriately, the focus in this weekend's LCBO Vintages release (Saturday December 7) is 'Making Merry' with a selection of  wines for the holidays...along with a truckload of fabulous fizz...you know sparkling wines!

When shopping for sparkling wines, it is best to know the ABCs...

 

What is Méthode Traditionelle?

Champagne is of course, at the top of Santa’s list, each Champagne House creates a unique blend of wines that reflects its signature flavours and texture. If your palate wants that creamy crispness but your wallet is calling 'Halt!', try some of the unique sparkling wines featured in this weekend's LCBO Vintages release. Many of these sparkling wines are made in the classic ‘Méthode Traditionelle’, that is to say, with the second fermentation in the bottle, as in French Champagne, an approach that creates fine, persistent bubbles. 

Try the Peller Estates 'Ice Cuvee' Rose and the versatile Megalomaniac Bubblehead from Niagara, Chandon Rosé and Roederer Estate Sparkling Brut from California, Simonsig ‘Kaapse Vonkel’ Brut Cap Classique from South Africa, Juvé y Camps ‘Cinta Purpura Reserva’ Cava from Spain, Pfaffenheim ‘Blanc de Blancs’ Brut Crèmant d’Alsace and Charles Duret Brut Crémant de Bourgogne.

Or what about Méthode Charmat?

The ‘Charmat’ method, which sees the second fermentation in tank, is known for preserving fresh fruit flavours.  Good & tasty examples are the Perlage Canah Brut Prosecco also available this Vintages release. 

If you’re confused about some of these designations, remember that sparkling wines can be made from white or red grapes (in France, these would be Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier or Chardonnay).  When the bubbly is made using only white grapes, it will state on the label ‘Blanc de Blancs’.  If made from red grapes, it will be state ‘Blanc de Noirs’. Now there is a tidbit to float during small talk at your next holiday party!

The Ho Ho Ho of White Wines...

In the Vintage release there’s a great selection excellent value wines.  Try such white wines as Trapiche ‘Finca las Palmas’ Chardonnay, Seresin Sauvignon Blanc (an organic product), Pierre Sparr Altenbourg Riesling or the concentrated Peter Zemmer Pinot Grigio.

...and Red Wines

LCBO Vintages release December 7 2013In terms for red wines, I would recommend Belle Glos ‘Meiomi’ Pinot Noir, Irony Small Lot Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, Château Bertinerie Merlot/Cabernet, Domaine Beau Mistral ‘Vieilles Vignes’ Rasteau, Villa Medoro ‘Rosso del Luca’ Montepulciano d’Abruzzo and Luigi Righetti ‘Campolietti’ Ripasso.

Unfortunately, there were few Canadian wines at this release tasting, but I would recommend both the Pillitteri Antagonist (a tasty, easy-drinking blend of the Cabs and Merlot) as well as the biodynamic wine from Southbrook, Triomphe Cabernet-Merlot, showing lots of character and balance, despite the difficult 2008 vintage.

.... and a Truly special finish

Finally, if you like a touch of fizz with a dessert tart, enjoy the off-dry Nova 7 from Nova Scotia’s Benjamin Bridge, a unique, absolutely delightful low-alcohol sparkler that offers lovely floral, fresh fruit and citrus aromas.

Buy it now, drink it later

If you want a holiday treat for your sweetie or to stash away in your cellar, here are my picks to pick up: Decoy Cabernet Sauvignon or the Burrowing Owl Meritage. For those who like a touch of sweetness, you can choose from the unctuous de Bortoli ‘Noble One’ Botrytis Semillon or the richly textured Burmester 10 Year Old Tawny Port.

Happy and Safe Holidays to all!

Susan

If I had $100, I would buy at LCBO Vintages...

 

Juvé y Camps ‘Cinta Purpura Reserva’ Brut Cava 2009

Penedes, Spain
$17.95 (Vintages #352864) 12.0% alcohol

Generally produced from the indigenous Macabeu, Parellada and Xarel-lo grapes in the traditional method,  Cava sparkling wines tend to offer great quality and value - this sparkling wine is no exception!

Classic notes of white flower, ripe apple, pear, citrus and toast pop from the glass. It is clean and fresh, the mousse is fine, mouth-filling and long-lasting, framing tangy notes of citrus, green apple and yeast that persist through the tasty, refreshing finish. Offering poise and refinement, this is an excellent choice for any holiday gathering.

 

Vignobles Guilheim Le Viognier 2012

Pays d’Oc, France
$15.95 (Vintages #358507) 13.5% alcohol

A golden gem, this Viognier delivers! From the lifted aromas of tropical fruit, white flowers, sweet citrus and honey to the clean fresh texture and depth of flavour—mango, peach and lemon zest jump to the fore. Dry, medium-full bodied, this white wine offers a wonderful fullness and that characteristic pleasing touch of tangy bitterness on the finish. An excellent value, enjoy it with roast pork loin or lemon-herb chicken.

 

Château Bertinerie Cru Réserve 2009

Côtes de Bordeaux-Blaye, France
$18.95 (Vintages #244640) 13.5% alcohol

From one of the lesser-known Bordeaux appellation, this blend of Merlot and Cabernets is a remarkable value red wine. Cherries, plum and berries are layered with spice, cedar and vanilla. Dry, medium-full bodied, the fruit and spice replays, a sweet note of toasty oak and a hint of chocolate mingling with a whiff of dried herbs. Well structured and balanced, appealingly accessible and fruity, this is a great wine to cellar or serve with herb-crusted leg of lamb or with your favorite roast of beef.

 

Les Vignerons de Visan ‘Visan’ Côtes du Rhône-Villages 2011

Côtes du Rhône-Villages, France
$15.95 (Vintages #179234) 14.5% alcohol

There’s finesse to the structure of this intensely fruity medium-full bodied red wine. The nose offers lashings of sweet fruit, vanilla, spice and garigue. The palate is dry yet smooth, showcasing loads of luscious clean, ripe fruit, balance assured by well-integrated tannins and fresh acidity. The spice and herbs replay on the dry, tasty finish. An excellent value that will pair with roast beef au jus. 

 

Luigi Righetti ‘Campolieti’ Ripasso Valpolicella Classico Superiore 2011

Valpolicella, Italy
$17.95 (Vintages #695890) 13.5% alcohol

I recommended the 2010 vintage of this wine earlier this year, and definitely feel the new vintage is worth purchasing as well! Crafted from fruit harvested in the original Valpolicella viticultural area, this dry, medium-full bodied wine displays added intensity and depth from the use of dried grapes in the winemaking process. There’s complexity of aromas and flavours—floral notes, berry, vanilla, notions of dried cherries, herbs and spice—on a subtle structure. Clean, fresh acidity frames bright tasty fruit, the lasting aftertaste offering notions of chocolate and pleasantly toasty oak. Cellar or serve this wine with beef tenderloin with a pinenut and sun-dried tomato stuffing.

Grand Total: $86.75

 

 

 

It’s beginning to look alot like Christmas!

Posted by Julie

Friday, November 22nd, 2013
Bookmark and Share

You tell me...is it too early to start your festive shopping?  The 23 November LCBO Vintages release features “Our Finest, Holiday Gifting and Premium Spirits” which just put me in the mood to start picking up a few gifts for Christmas.  Since most people I buy for imbibe, it makes my holiday shopping almost one-stop.

While there is no one on my list that will be receiving the Glenfiddich Gran Reserva 21 Years Old Highland Single Malt at $241.95, it would sure make a great splurge for a lover of single malts.  I also did not realize that Spain produces a wine called Alion 2009, DO Ribera del Douro with a dear price tag of $84.95.

Although, I may splurge in a bottle of Ladies Who Shoot Their Lunch Shiraz 2010 (Vintages # 243592, $35.95). I remember featuring this wine at a Savvy Event a couple of years ago and folks literally swarmed my booth for a sample of this nectar or after having tasted it, and then returned for more. In this release, there is also another incredible Aussie red wine from Barossa, called The Holy Trinity by Grant Burge (Vintages# 236257, $29.95). With one sip, my taste buds really did think they had died and gone to heaven!

There are many lovely wines in this release. Just remember when you are shopping for others, it does not hurt to pick up something wonderful for yourself as well.  You deserve it!

Cheers!

Julie

If I had $100 I would buy at LCBO Vintages...

 

Tinhorn Gewurztraminer 2012

VQA Okanagan Valley, British Columbia
$24.95 (Vintages #904185)   12.9% alcohol 

I was first introduced to Tinhorn wines when Susan - another Savvy Sommelier - asked me to split a case of some Tinhorn Creek red wines with her. I jumped at the opportunity knowing her expertise for wines in the Okanagan Valley.  And the red wine certainly did not disappoint. I was excited to see this Gewurztraminer white wine and hope more BC wines will make their way to Ontario. Lovely aromas of white blossoms and lychee, some tropical fruit flavours on the palate, a little mango and lime and just cries for a spicy shrimp curry with jasmine rice. That sounds like a dinner party.

 

Featherstone Black Sheep Riesling 2012

VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario
$16.95 (Vintages # 80234)  10% alcohol 

Crisp, fresh and delightful are the descriptors that come to mind when tasting this delicious Riesling. Mind you, I don’t think there are any Featherstone wines I don’t like. This white wine has lots of flint and wet stone  - typical of Niagara area Rieslings  - combined with yellow and green apple flavours, not typical in many Rieslings. It is a delicious afternoon sipper or a great appertif as it could accompany almost any hors’d’oeuvres...stock up for the holidays!

 

Salentein Reserve Malbec 2011

Mendoza, Argentina
$17.95 (Vintages #640854) 14.5 % alcohol 

There’s nothing like those dark inky Malbecs in the heart of winter. In this red wine are aromas of blueberries and spice, lots of black currants on the palate and a little cassis. It has loads of flavour and a tight structure, nice firm tannins but juicy and a peppery, ripe berry aftertaste. I liked it just on its own or can imagine that it would pair nicely with any grilled meat; even with chocolate or a piece of Christmas cake.  Practically takes you through two courses.  Argentina be proud with this outstanding red wine!

 

Montes Limited Selection Pinot Noir 2011

Casablanca Valley, Chile
$14.95  (Vintages #354340)  14% alcohol 

While some folks look at me in horror when I say that it has taken me awhile to cuddle up to Pinot Noir’s, lately, I have discovered some good ones. This light cherry coloured, medium bodied red wine is is quite lovely and smooth. It has smooth mouth coating red fruit flavours with a touch of smoke, a little forest floor pepper and earthiness in the after taste. At 14.95, it is an incredible price point.  Serve with mushroom lasagne...and please put my name on the dinner invitation!

 

Château D'Anglés Grand Vin 2008

AC Languedoc La Clape, France
$20.95 (Vintages #286492)  14.5% alcohol 

How can you go wrong with a blend of 55% Mourvèdre, 35% Syrah and 10% Grenache Noir. These classic grape varietals are used extensively in the Rhone Valley in southern France to make big bold red wines. Rich and heady with leather and smoke aromas this is a red wine combined with dense dark fruit on the palate. Baked fruit pie, stewed plums and Christmas cake spices that linger long after the last swallow. This is one of our all-time favorite blends with a beef stew or lamb shanks. 

 

Grand Total: $95.75

 

Star quality wines have landed at Vintages

Posted by Julie

Thursday, November 7th, 2013
Bookmark and Share

Looking to economize while drinking great wines? Entertaining season is just around the corner so I am game for the challenge to see how far we can stretch my $100 budget that I have been 'given' to do this blog. This weekend's LCBO Vintages release features wines of “Premium Star Quality” along with an assortment of dessert wines. While we all tend to know what premium star quality means, I am on the mission to find wines of star quality that won't break my budget with their price tag.

So what did I pick?

With the exception of two wines, I have chosen wines under $15 a bottle. I have also put together a selection that can easily take you through many dinner parties from appetizers through to dessert, without breaking the bank. 

I did not have the opportunity to taste two wines I am recommending - sound strange?  Don't worry I taste wines for a living!  I am confident that knowing the wineries that they produce only quality wine.  And from previous wines that I have reviewed from these wineries, they have never disappointed. There are also a couple of wines from Italy that never fail to inspire and match any number of food dishes. 

I also wanted to tip you off a couple of the wines found in the LCBO's general list area of the store that are under $15 & somehow always find their way into my shopping basket:

Cave Springs Riesling VQA at $14.95
Creekside Sauvignon Blanc VQA $13.95
and  L.A.Cetto Petite Sirah 2011 at $11.95

All that to say, you can have lots of star quality with $100 to spend.

Julie

 

 Abbazia Moscato D’Asti 2012

DOCG, Italy
$14.95 (Vintages #265397)  13% alcohol 

With a slight touch of sweetness, this off dry white wine is always festive, pretty and a lovely start to any party. It is nice to start with something spritzy especially if the rest of your dinner wines are packed with punch and/or you are serving wines with different courses. It has aromas and tastes of stone fruits: peaches, apricots, pears with delicate moussey bubbles that could accompany shrimp canapes or parmesan crisps. 

 

Rockway Small Lot Reserve White Assemblage 2012

VQA Niagara Peninsula
$16.95 (Vintages #359315) 11.5% alcohol 

Golden straw in colour, this delightful white wine blend of Chardonnay, Riesling and Gewurtztraminer is aromatic and tastes of all these grapes. The Chardonnay has some creaminess being aged in oak but there’s lots of stone fruit and apples from the other grape varietals. Great acidity and is beautifully balanced; just another example that we never have to look further than our own backyard. It would be perfect to sip with an uncomplicated boston lettuce salad with a soft olive oil, a little artisan bread or a spicey soup to start your evening. 

 

Cavit Alta Luna Phases 2010

IGT Vigneti della Dolomiti, Italy
$14.95  (Vintages #354340)  12.5% alcohol 

A fabulous red wine blend made with the Teroldego, Lagrein and Merlot grapes from the foothills of Italy’s Dolomite Alps.  Dark plums and cherries fill the palate and being aged in oak, the wine has a richness to the taste with great tannins and a spicey finish. A great pizza or pasta wine or with some cheese.

 

Zuccardi Organica Cabernet Sauvignon 2012

Mendoza, Argentina
$13.95 (Vintages #68452) 14% alcohol 

The Mendoza province is by far the largest wine region in western Argentina located on a high-altitude plateau at the edge of the Andes Mountains. The altitude is an important terroir characteristic since it means long sunny warm days that extend the growing season and contribute to ripe, rich grapes that do not sacrifice the acidity.  This dark cherry coloured baby is one red wine packed with punch. This red wine would make a fabulous partner with roast pork or a spicy sausage and eggplant pasta dish.

 

Natura Carmenere 2012

Colchagua Valley, Banfi, Chile
$14.95 (Vintages #56887)   14.1% alcohol 

For us red wine lovers, you can’t go far wrong with a blend of Carmenere, Syrah, Cabernet Franc and Merlot. Juicy and full, dark fruits, some spice, smokey and peppery all conjure up pictures of the beautiful Colchagua Valley (on my travel list !). I’m thinking ribs or beef stew.

 

Konzelmann Special Select Late Harvest Vidal 2011

VQA Ontario
$19.95 9Vintages #359216) 13.5% alcohol 

When presenting this finale to your dinner party you might want to mention that this late harvest wine was awarded a Gold Medal at the 2013 Ontario Wine Awards. There is citrus and apricot flavours with a creamy sweetness; you just want to roll it around your tongue to make it last. Serve with cheese, chocolates & fresh fruit for a beautiful ending of a feast. 

 

Grand Total: $95.70