Posts Tagged ‘Argentina wines’

Say ‘Si’ to Argentina!

Posted by Susan

Friday, June 7th, 2013

The spotlight is shining on Argentina’s Mendoza region – the country’s major grape-growing area – in the June 8 LCBO Vintages release. This is a great opportunity to stock up on value wines, many under $20. The selection includes a creamy Chardonnay from Alamos (only $13.95),  the country’s signature white grape – Torrontes – and a range of varietal red wines and blends showcasing classic red wine varieties such as Malbec and Bonarda. A good example of this red blend is Familia Mayol ‘Quatro Primos’. Look for loads of flavour, attractive complexity, warmth and balance in the wines.

Mendoza – The ‘Wine Capital’

Mendoza, the city, is known as Argentina’s ‘Wine Capital’ and anchors the wine region at the heart of Argentina’s wine production. Wines in Mendoza benefit from the intense sunlight of high altitudes, cool night temperatures that ensure retention of acidity, and dry air that mitigates against disease. Warm temperatures produce well-ripened grapes with plenty of sugar, leading to softer tannins and higher alcohol. The soils are sandy, and flood irrigation has been used for many years (although drip irrigation is making inroads), with the result that phylloxera has not posed a significant threat and many vines can be grown on their own rootstock.

Malbec is perhaps the best known grape of Argentina, a variety that was relatively insignificant as a part of Bordeaux blends in France but has come into its own in Argentina. The deep-coloured, flavourful Bonarda is increasingly making its presence felt in the export market, either in varietal wines or as a significant part of blended red wines.

Looking for a Father’s Day idea?

In addition to wines from Argentina, this Vintages release focuses on high-end Scotch and wines for Father’s Day, including a fine Chardonnay from Coyote’s Run, approachable red wines such as the deLoach Zinfandel, and wines to be cellared such as the Ridge Estate Cabernet Sauvignon. My personal choice would be the Duckhorn Cabernet Sauvignon, a wonderful wine at a very reasonable $29.95.

Rosé wines are here!

For those of us who love rosé for its versatility, and for sipping on a warm summer’s day, peruse the Local Talent feature for some delicious Ontario wines; two of my favorites—Château des Charmes ‘Cuvée d’Andrée’ Rosé and Pondview Cabernet Franc Rosé, appear in our selection at only $14.95!

More great value wines…

And to top it all off, there are more great values, several of which are included among the six wines I have selected below in my shopping list. And if you have some spare change, add to your shopping cart these extras: the full-bodied Côtes du Rhône blend, Les Halos de Jupiter, Rocca delle Macie’s  Chianti Riserva,  the Tedeschi Appassimento, and Lealtanza Crianza, a finely balanced Tempranillo from the Rioja.

Cheers and Enjoy!



Luigi Bosca Pinot Noir 2010

Mendoza, Argentina
$17.95 (Vintages #143420) 12.6% alcohol

With just six months in barrel, this is a very attractive mid-weight Pinot Noir showcasing vibrant red fruits, dried herbs, a hint of cedar and an elusive floral note. Dry and quite juicy in texture, the delicate tannins and lively acidity complement lovely red fruits—cranberry, raspberry and cherry. Touches of spice, toast and earth add complexity through a lengthy dry finish. A versatile wine offering great value, pair it with lighter meat dishes, grilled vegetables or salmon.

13th Street  Winery White Palette 2011

VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario
$14.95 (Vintages #207340) 12.5% alcohol

A blend of several perfumed grape varieties, the aromas of Gewürztraminer and Riesling shine through on the nose with notes of spicy tropical fruit, citrus and white flowers. Dry, medium bodied, the wine is fleshy yet fresh, fruity and spicy with a nice slightly pithy note on the vibrant, clean finish. Sip on the patio, or serve with salads or seafood.


Château des Charmes Rosé ‘Cuvée d’Andrée’ 2012

 VQA Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario
$14.95 (Vintages #333260) 12.5% alcohol

The depth and character of this Pinot Noir rosé is suggested to reflect the personality of matriarch Madame Andrée Bosc. An electric deep rose, it’s wonderfully fragrant with notes of apple blossom, red berry and cherry. Dry, vibrant and mid weight, notes of dried herbs and white pepper add complexity to the luscious red fruit—strawberry, red currant and raspberry. Tangy acidity offers a nice balance to a well-crafted wine that finishes crisp and fruity. A versatile choice that has the heft to pair with a range of foods from strawberry balsamic spinach salad to grilled meats. Stock up and enjoy!


Pondview Cabernet Franc Rosé 2011

 VQA Four Mile Creek, Ontario
$14.95 (Vintages #241802) 13.5% alcohol

Lou Puglisi has done it again, creating a salmon-hued beauty that offers amazing complexity—sweet cherry/berry aromas, honey and toasted coconut—as well as outstanding value. Just off-dry, medium bodied, this is a rosé with presence and a fine tension between crisp acidity and tangy, juicy red fruit. There’s a light touch of spritz on the palate, warmth and intense flavour through the extended finish. Savour it well chilled on the screened porch this summer.


Sileni ‘The Triangle’ Merlot 2010

Hawkes Bay, New Zealand
$16.95 (Vintages #586081) 14.0% alcohol

Aged in French and American oak, this is an impressive, value-laden wine serving up complex aromas and flavours. On the nose, dark and dried fruit, vanilla, dried lavender, sandalwood and cocoa. Displaying a firm yet subtle structure, it grabs your attention with a tangy peppery note followed by a rush of dark plummy fruit, notes of licorice and earth. Tasty, well crafted, and well worth cellaring, you’ll want to pick up a few bottles.



Les Vignes ‘Bila-Haut’ Côtes du Rousillon-Villages 2011

 AOC Côtes du Rousillon-Villages, France
$14.95 (Vintages #168716) 14.5% alcohol

This blend of Grenache and Syrah from Chapoutier is a remarkable value and consistently good from vintage to vintage. Deep ruby, fruit forward, with a kiss of spice and vanilla, it’s dry, round and full bodied. Very approachable, loaded with luscious dark fruit, notes of licorice, pepper and spice add interest and allure. There’s the structure to balance the fruit and a big lip-smacking finish that says ‘bring on the barbequed meat’.


Load up  your shopping cart!

Grand Total: $94.70




Unwind with a glass of red, white & rosé wines

Posted by Debbie

Wednesday, June 20th, 2012

This weekend, the shelves at LCBO Vintages will be overflowing with light whites, dry rosés & bold red wines.  With Canada Day quickly approaching (is it July already?!?!?), there is a selection of wines from Niagara and British Columbia to toast our national holiday.  Also Canadians can raise a glass to toast the passing of Bill C-311 in Parliament that will soon make wines from coast to coast more accessible to all of us.

At this time of year, picnics and outdoor gatherings are on our mind (and our social calendars!), so we offer some wine recommendations that are crowd pleasers. Here are my wine recommendations that won’t break bank…and some extras worth considering as summertime sippers.

Cheers & Enjoy!



Featherstone Gewurztraminer VQA 2011, Ontario

Winemaker David Johnson, nicknames this ‘G Wine’.  It is a refreshing white wine with aromas & tastes of stone fruit (think pear, peach, apricot) along with some pineapple too.  Nice on its own or with spicy Mexican or Thai food.


Vrede en lust White Mischief, South Africa

A unique blend of 5 different grapes – Chenin Blanc, Semillion, Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc & Viognier, create an easy drinking dry white wine that’s loaded with white grapefruit & cantaloupe aromas & tastes. The zippy acidity makes this an impressive wine from South Africa.  Enjoy with seafood, picnics or sip on its own.


Quail’s Gate Rosé VQA 2011, British Columbia

The light pink colour of this wine resembles a sunset in your glass. Light bodied with crisp, refreshing aromas & tastes of rhubarb, pink grapefruit with a kick of lime & mint.  As an easy drinking wine, don’t be surprised how quickly you’ll finish the bottle!


Alta Vista Premium Cabernet Sauvignon 2009, Argentina

Fire up the BBQ! This BIG bold wine will accompany anything off the grill – steak, burgers, sausages, tenderloin & grilled veggies –  Loaded with pronounced aromas of vanilla, black licorice, black cherries & dark chocolate with light tannins that smooth out with each bite of food. And with this price tag, why not make it your house wine this summer?


Chateau Tanunda Barossa Tower Shiraz/Primitivo, Australia

The fact that this wine is from a chateau in Australia, will undoubtedly make it a conversation piece as soon as the bottle is placed on the table. Declared as Australian Producer of the Year in 2010, this wine is outstanding. Everything about this wine is black – almost black in colour with overripe blackberry, black plums, figs aromas & tastes with warm spices of black pepper, cinnamon and balsamic.  This wine won’t disappoint. Great with anything off the grill.

Like Australia wines?  Join us for ‘Unwind Downunder’ wine tasting featuring Australian wines.  Email us to be the first to receive an invitation.  Stay tuned as the event details are finalized!


 GRAND TOTAL: $88.75


Other wines worth the splurge:

Michele Chiarlo Nivole Moscato d’Asti, Italy

When a bottle of Moscato d’Asti is popped (it’s cork is not mushroom shaped like sparkling wine, but it does pop!) it is always one of my sure signs that summer has arrived.  At 5% alcohol, this refreshing medium bodied wine has light mousse (winespeak: bubbles) with aromas and tastes of honey, daisy and citrus.  A great wine to serve with brunch, as an aperitif or to relax with after a meal.


Nessa Albariño 2010, Spain

Looking for a different refreshing white wine? This one won’t disappoint.   Albariño wines are a signature of the Rías Baixas region of southern Spain.  From time to time, you will find one on the Vintages shelves.  Usually priced less than $20,  this style of wine is worth experimenting with.  Super light with lemon/lime, honeydew & fresh gingerroot aromas that continues into the taste.  The zippy acidity makes it perfect to serve with a picnic.


Lucien Albretch Reserve Pinot Gris 2010, Alsace France 

Not your typical pinot gris wine.  Light to medium bodied with beeswax aromas that turns into tastes of honey and floral with an edgy finish that smooths out and lingers forever.  Great with grilled shrimp or a big bowl of steamed mussles.


Zonte’s Footsteps Baron Von Nemesis Shiraz, Australia

LCBO #212936
This wine needs no food, just sit back & relax.  Notes of cherry pie filling, blueberry jam, a well balanced & easy drinking red wine.




Start 2012 with Smart Buy wines at LCBO Vintages

Posted by Susan

Friday, January 6th, 2012

To kick off the new year, the first LCBO Vintages release on Saturday January 7th offers the opportunity to experiment with some relatively unknown European varietals and to re-stock your wine cabinet with some excellent well-priced values. Consider two whites, shoulder to shoulder in the Alpine regions of France, Roussette de Savoie, and Switzerland, the classic Chasselas (known locally as Fendant). Both offer lovely aromatics, good balance and texture, and under $20.  Among the reds, the little-known region of Irouléguy in southwestern France offers a powerful blend of Tannat and the Cabernet grape varieties, while Italy’s Sicily wine region delivers a classic savoury wine just made for meaty pasta dishes called Nero d’Avola.

Among the ‘Smart Buys’, there’s great value in Konzelmann’s Reserve Sauvignon Blanc (just off-dry) and Sue-Ann Staff’s mouthwateringly delicious Semi-Dry Riesling – both under $15 and both wineries featured in our Savvy Selections. Among the red wines, Chile offers great value and powerful flavours in the Koyle Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon.  Argentina delivers loads of flavour with the Urban Uco Malbec/Tempranillo red wine blend while Australia’s award-winning Jip Jip Rocks Shiraz fills your mouth with full-bodied fruit. Italy’s Tuscany offers the ripe yet dry Ripa delle Mandorle from Vicchiomaggio, a site with a historic castle where Leonardi da Vinci is reputed to have painted the Mona Lisa.

LCBO’s general release (main shelves in the store) also offers some excellent values, including the rich round Bordeaux Supérieur, Château la Croix de Queynac and the outstanding full-bodied Sabor Real crafted from the fruit of 70+-year-old vines. And don’t miss Pondview’s Bella Terra Cabernet Franc, a wine that was featured in Savvy Selections in the spring of 2011.

Below is my shopping list for 6 good value wines at prices that will be kind to your wallet!

Cheers and Happy 2012,

If I only had $100, I would buy . . .
LCBO Vintages Release as of Saturday January 7, 2012

Sue-Ann Staff  Semi-Dry Riesling 2008
Niagara, Ontario
$14.95 (Vintages #258632) 10.0% alcohol
Produced from grapes harvested from 4 separate parcels, this is Sue-Ann Staff’s first wine as proprietor. Pale yellow-green, there’s a whiff of petrol over mineral notes and the aromas of zesty citrus, ripe stone fruit and fresh-picked apple. Light-medium bodied and off-dry, this wine displays a great balance of fresh acidity, underlying minerality and tangy fruit that persists through the lasting finish.

Domaine de Mignaberry 2008
AOC Irouléguy, France
$18.95 (Vintages #251611) 13.0% alcohol
Primarily Tannat blended with the Cabernets, this deep violet wine from southwestern France is dry, medium-full bodied, and loaded with flavours framed by a firm structure. There’s intriguing complexity on the nose—earthy herbal notes, a whiff of spicy flowers, an elusive gamey nuance and the richness of ripe dark berries. The tannins make their presence felt, the lush berry fruit balanced with fresh acidity, the herbal notes suffusing the palate and lingering on the extended dry finish. Choose a hearty stew to match this hearty wine or cellar mid-term.

Koyle ‘Reserve’ Cabernet Sauvignon 2008
Alto Colchagua, Chile
$15.95 (Vintages #256073) 14.0% alcohol
An outstanding value, this deep ruby Cab, hand harvested and aged in French oak, is refined and stylish. There’s beguiling complexity at first scent—minty herbal notes, spice, tobacco leaf, cedar and berries. Dry, medium-full bodied, the fresh texture and ripe tannins frame vibrant red fruit—raspberry and cherry—with hints of cedar and spice persisting on an extended dry savoury finish. Pick up a few bottles. Try a bottle with prime rib and cellar the remaining ones mid term.

Montes ‘Limited Selection’ Pinot Noir 2009
DO Casablanca Valley, Chile
$14.95 (Vintages #37937) 14.0% alcohol
Here’s another great value, a dry medium-bodied ruby Pinot that offers enticing aromas of earth, beetroot, red field berry and mineral. Dry, medium bodied, the silky texture is complemented by lively acidity and vivid red berries—strawberries, red currant, cranberries. Just lovely balance, the attractive notes of spice and white pepper carrying through the tantalizing vibrant finish. This is another multiple purchase that would pair well with duck confit on yam chips served with a cranberry-orange garnish.

Vicchiomaggio Ripa delle Mandorle 2009
IGT Toscana, Italy
$15.00 (Vintages #677930) 13.5% alcohol
From a storied Tuscan property, this blend of Sangiovese and Cabernet proffers a lovely nose—floral nuances, berry fruit, spice and vanilla captivate. Beautifully balanced, it’s dry yet silky, medium bodied, ripe berry fruit caressing the palate, the spice and vanilla replaying right through the scrumptious finish. Just delicious, it would be a good match for osso bucco.

Sabor Real 2008
DO Toro, Spain
$15.95 (Vintages #172932) 14.5% alcohol
The last release of October offered the Sabor Real Vignas Centenarias, and here is yet another great Tempranillo, produced from 70+-year-old vines. Inky purple, the plush aromas are of rich dark spiced fruit, exotic spice, cigar box and some elusive floral nuances. Subtly structured, it’s dry, full-bodied, velvety with great depth of flavour – just loaded with spicy dark fruit. Lingering notes of spice, vanilla and sweet toast persist on a warm finish. A candidate for medium-term cellaring, it’s a great value.

Grand Total: $95.75


A delicious week at Vancouver’s Wine Festival

Posted by Susan

Wednesday, May 5th, 2010

The Savvy Team has just returned from another great week at the Vancouver Playhouse International Wine Festival. With over 170 participating wineries and almost 800 wines to taste in the International tasting room PLUS a variety of seminars, wine and food pairings and winemaker dinners – this was definitely the most extensive (not to mention delicious) festival that we have been to yet.


This Festival brings the wine world together to:  

– provide informative, educational and entertaining wine experiences for consumers and trade;

– be a premier marketing opportunity for the wine industry;

– be the primary fundraiser for the Vancouver Playhouse Theatre Company.  


From humble beginnings in 1978, it has raised millions of dollars for the Playhouse Theatre Company.   During these 32 years, the Festival has grown into one of the world’s most prestigious wine events, offering education, tasting and purchase opportunities of interest to the general public, the trade and wine aficionados of all kinds.  Winemakers return year after year, telling us that they are impressed by the caliber of the event, and the welcome that they receive in Vancouver.  And this year, the event was held in the impressive new Vancouver Convention Centre, designed and built for the 2010 Winter Olympics.


Each year a featured region is the anchor of the Festival. This year, there was a twist…the region was the southern hemisphere showcasing both Argentina and New Zealand. What a delicious great duo – creating countless opportunities for participants like me to discover the breadth of varietals cultivated in both countries.


It was a revelation to learn that Argentina produces wines from cool-climate grapes, such as Pinot Noir, while certain regions of New Zealand are renowned for their Merlot and Bordeaux-style blends.


The signature wines were showcased:  New Zealand’s fresh Sauvignon Blanc and fine Pinot Noir, along with Argentina’s robust Malbec and aromatic Torrontés.


Complementing the theme wine regions, Rosé wine was the featured wine style.  What better way to drift into spring than to enjoy the widely varied styles of rosé wines from every corner of the world. 


From fine pale salmon Champagne to deep cranberry-colored rosé wines made from Malbec grapes, we had the opportunity to experience the unique qualities of saignée versus pressed rosé (different winemaking processes to make rosé wines), the lightness and intensity of rosé, truly a wine for all occasions.  Julie & I experienced that versatility in a number of food and wine pairing events. In What’s Behind Pairing with Rosé?, wines were paired with inspired classic dishes, such as smoked salmon with honeyed roasted pear – a creation by Executive Chef Julian Bond of Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts. Then there were the unexpected food creations such as sautéed shitake mushrooms with strawberry mastered by Personal Chef and Sommelier Tony Lawrence of A Chef for You. 


In the fun event named Rah Rah Rosé, wine and food writer Tim Pawsey and chef Dana Reinhardt created a tasting feast, with foods featuring such basic flavour characteristics as spicy, smoky, salty and sweet available to be paired with the wide range of styles of rosés. Participants discovered for themselves the versitality of rosé wines as they wandered from station to station.


The opening plenary –  Dare to Compare – presented a wonderful opportunity to taste a range of wines from both Argentina and New Zealand. As we learned, Argentina is a country of great geographical and climatic diversity, with some of the highest vineyards in the world in Salta to some of the driest in the southern Patagonian winegrowing regions. It benefits from natural barriers – the Andes Mountains which shelter the western vineyards – and soil conditions in many areas which mean that vines can grow on their native rootstock without risk of damage from the phylloxera insect. Unique microclimates abound, leading to a wide diversity of varietals and wine styles, ranging from intense Malbec, to the lesser-known aromatic native white varietal Torrontés, on to rich Chardonnay, weighty Cabernet Sauvignon and robust Bonarda, Argentina’s most-planted red grape.


The Argentinian wines we tasted in this session were a testament to the breadth of the industry:

Bodega Vistalba ‘Progenie’ Extra Brut N/V

O. Fournier ‘Urban Uco’ Torrontés 2009

Familia Schroeder ‘Saurus Patagonia Select’ Pinot Noir 2006

Viña Doña Paula ‘Series Alluvia’ Cabernet Franc 2007

Bodega Catena Zapata ‘Adrianna’ Malbec 2006

Bodegas Trapiche ‘Single Vineyard Vina Federico Villafane’ Malbec 2006

Xumek Syrah 2007


Then we learned in the plenary about New Zealand’s southern water-bound land mass that offers a mid-latitude environment particularly suited to the production of unique, quality wines. Not only is there diversity in the varietals cultivated – from the well-known Sauvignon Blanc to Syrah  and Vigoner – but there is great regional diversity – from the established regions of Marlborough and Hawke’s Bay, to the emerging Waitaki Valley. In addition, the New Zealand wine industry has made a firm commitment to innovative and sustainable viticultural and winemaking practices which they expect will reinforce their reputation for “vibrantly stylish wines”. In 2007, the New Zealand wine industry committed to having 100% of the country’s wine produced under approved independently audited sustainability standards by 2012. Currently, it is reported that over 85% of the vineyard areas and 75% of winery production are participating in the sustainability programs. The industry shares best practices in areas such as water usage, energy consumption, waste management and biodiversity.


The New Zealand wines tasted in the opening plenary also reflected the diversity of their wine styles and growing regions:

Babich Family Estate Vineyards ‘Cowslip Valley’ Sauvignon Blanc (Marlborough) 2009

Mud House Chardonnay (Hawke’s Bay) 2008

Spy Valley Pinot Gris (Marlborough) 2009

Ata Rangi Pinot Noir (Marlborough) 2008

Ngatarawa ‘Alwyn Winemaker’s Reserve’ Merlot Cabernet (Hawke’s Bay) 2007

Crossroads Winery ‘Elms Vineyard Reserve’ Syrah (Hawke’s Bay) 2007

Stoneleigh Riesling (Marlborough) 2008


The winery owners and winemakers at the opening plenary displayed their deep pride and commitment to craft as each presented their winery, their terroir and their wine. The glass of Vistalba Progenie Extra Brut on arrival created a wonderful context for all the wines that followed. Owner Carlos Pulenta produced this fine sparkling wine from the fruit of vines planted by his father. Bottled in 2005, the wine was opened on his father’s 90th birthday in 2008. It was such a success, he has continued to produce it!   


Hard to imagine, but this outstanding start to our visit to this year’s Vancouver Playhouse International Wine Festival. was followed by endless excellent seminars highlighting the featured regions, Argentina and New Zealand, as well as the theme wine style, rosé. The many rosé and food pairings demonstrated the wide range of styles and the versatility of this wine style. More about that later . . .


Now, don’t you want to join us next year at the Festival? The featured region is Spain – olé!