Posts Tagged ‘buying wines at the LCBO Vintages’

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

Posted by Julie

Thursday, January 19th, 2017
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This time last year, my husband and I spent a month in Buenos Aires, so when I saw that this release focused on Argentina, I was VERY excited to see what new wines would come into LCBO’s Vintages. Here are 3 wines from Mendoza (Argentina’s largest wine region) since it is the leader in quantity and quality of Malbec wines.

Three interesting facts Argentina & their wine:

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

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

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

As they say in Argentina ‘Salud’,

-Julie

 

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

 

Joseph Cattin Brut Rosé Crémant D’Alsace

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

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

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

 

Colome Torrontes 2015

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

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

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

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

 

Fabre Montmayou Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon 2014 

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

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

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

 

Zuccardi Q Malbec 2013

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

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

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

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

 

Susana Balbo Signature Cabernet Sauvignon 2014

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

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

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

 

Grand Total – $ 94.75

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TOP PICKS: 7 wines for under $15

Posted by Julie

Wednesday, January 11th, 2017
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This Vintages release is guaranteed to  be pick-up for anyone with holiday hangovers & January blahs. The LCBO often kicks off the new year with a “Smart Buys 2017” edition with a fabulous assortment of tried and true wines for every palate and budget with great tastes around the $15 price point.

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

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

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

Smart Buys here we come!

-Julie

 

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

 

Marynissen Estates Chardonnay 2013

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

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

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

 

Budureasca Feteasca Regala 2015

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

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

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

 

MAN Free-Run Steen 2015

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

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

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

 

Heartland Stickleback Red 2013

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

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

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

 

Michelle Chiarol Barbera D’Asti Superiore 2014

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

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

And Mama Mia! Another wine under $15

 

The Goatfather 2014

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

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

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

 

Santa Carolina Reserva Estate Pinot Noir 2015

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

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

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

 

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

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

Posted by Julie

Saturday, December 10th, 2016
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Over the tree-top fitting that the mid-December Vintages release would be titled “Holiday Gatherings”. For many, December is the busiest month for entertaining. It’s a time to bring out all the bells and whistles and splurge on fine delicacies, stock up on great and extra wine to give and share.

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

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

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

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

Wishing you a Happy Festive Season,

Julie

 

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

 

elevationVineland Estates Elevation Riesling

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

San Pedro 1865 Unique Edition Cabernet Sauvignon 2013

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

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

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

 

Puklus Pinceszet Tokaji Aszu 3 Puttonyos 2012hungarian-wine

Hungary
$20.95 (Vintages #980805) 12% alcohol

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

Wonderfully festive for the season.

 

Grand Total – $101.75

Oops…just over a bit!

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

Posted by Julie

Monday, November 28th, 2016
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As we move towards the holiday season, Vintages always features “Our Finest” and it is a magnificent release. Everything from single malts to brandies, Grappa, Champagne and all delicious new delectable fine wines.

vintages-nov-26th

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

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

 

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

domaine-de-vaugondy-brut-vouvray

 

Domaine de Vaugondy Brut Vouvray

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

union-forte-2012Union Forte 2012

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

Grand Total = $94.75

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

Posted by Julie

Friday, November 11th, 2016
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About this time every year LCBO Vintages showcases ‘Star Quality’ as a feature of the release. We all know what this also means…’star prices’.   Icewine, French Champagne and sparkling wines flow prominently on the pages. I wish I could buy one of each however with my blog budget of $100, I’ll have to leave the Champagne for another time.

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

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

No shortage of star quality in this release.

Enjoy,
-Julie

 

 

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

 

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

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

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

 

 

clayhouse-cabernet-sauvignon-2015Clayhouse Cabernet Sauvignon 2015

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

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

 

clos-de-los-siete-2013

Clos de los Siete

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

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

 

reif-vidal-icewine

Reif Vidal Icewine 2014

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

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

 

Grand Total = $90.85

 

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Neat Easter Treats

Posted by Debbie

Friday, March 25th, 2016
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Ahhh, it’s the lonnnnnng weekend. Time to chill out, relax with family & friends.  Here are the top picks of ‘neat Easter treats’ of wine & craft beer from our team of Savvy Sommeliers & Brew Crew – all locally made & available at the LCBO.   Use this as your shopping list so you can spend less time figuring out what to buy & more time enjoying the weekend.

I’ll drink to that!

 

Savvy Sommelier Top Picks
for Easter long weekend


MacKinnon Brothers Brewery Crosscut Canadian Ale

Bath, Ontario
$2.85 per can (LCBO #414870)

MacKinnon Brothers Brewery - CrosscutThis 5.2% Alcohol by volume (ABV), 15 International Bitterness Units (IBU) Golden Ale is the MacKinnon Brothers’ rendition of a traditional Canadian ale. They use Herkules and Sassasprat hops and add a portion of wheat from their farm to the grain bill. This beer starts with a sweet malt smell and an upfront cereal flavour and subtle honey flavour. The hops kick in mid-sip with a subtle herbal note before being washed away in a wave of carbonated crispness. This may have been designed to be an easy drinking, sessionable beer, but there’s a wonderful layered flavour that will make you pause after each sip. With a strong malt bill and palate cleansing scrubbing bubbles (a good carbonation level), Crosscut can sit alongside spicy chili, roast duck, BBQ ribs, sticky chicken or braised beef.

 

Barley Days Loyalist LagerBarley Day’s Loyalist Lager

Prince Edward County, Ontario
$2.00 per bottle (LCBO#286526)

Brewed in the Czech Pilsner style with Saaz hops, this 4.5% ABV beer is easy to drink no matter who your allegiance is to. Starts slightly sweet with some caramel, grain and cereal notes, but with a slight earthy/spice hop flavour. There’s a nice balance between the hops and malt which makes this light bodied lager crisp and easy to drink. Serve alongside roast of ham, chicken, seafood….or lots of appetizers!

Beau’s Le Coeur Noir Black IPA

VanKleek Hill, Ontario
$7.95 (LCBO #442533)

beaus coeur noirThis beer is the 11th in Beau’s Pro-Am Series which features beers that are designed by amateur brewers, and brewed at Beau’s. Le Coeur Noir Black IPA was brewed in collaboration with the winner of the 2013 Toronto Beer Week Homebrew Contest, Jordan Rainhard. This 7.1% abv beer is one of Beau’s cutting styles, an American Black IPA.  It pours with an opaque brown hue and shows pronounced notes of black molasses, spruce tips, cacao nibs, roasted malt and touch of grapefruit rind.  The mouthfeel is rich and full bodied with a long grapefruit pith finish.  Christening the BBQ this weekend? Enjoy this beer with a burger – beef, bison, elk – with a slice of blue cheese on top.  Blue cheese is an incredible example of pairing an assertive style of beer with an assertive style of food. (If you are a subscriber of our Savvy Cool Curds cheese-o-month-club, some of the Back Forty Highland Blue treat we sent this month will be PERFECT! the trick!)

 

Domaine Félibre Givré Ice Cider 2012

Domaine Félibre Givré Ginger Ice Cider

Québec
$19.95 (Vintages #393611) 6.5% alcohol

This was a flyer and I really liked it! A Gold Medal winner at the 2015 Berlin International Wine Competition soothes with its fresh ginger, honey & ice cider combination. Not too powerful in flavour nor too sweet either. This ice cider is refreshing and flavourful. WOW your guests with it as an on arrival drink, after or after a meal. Chill & serve it straight up, over ice or mixed with sparkling wine.

 

 

Fielding Gewürztraminer VQA 2013Fielding Gewürztraminer 2012

Niagara, ON
$18.95 (Vintages #146753)  12.5% alcohol

Everything Fielding’s winemaker Richie Roberts makes seems to turn to gold. This yummy Gewürztraminer will get your heart racing with its spring-like aromas and flavours. Floral aromas combined with candied ginger and tropical fruit tastes (think mangos, kiwi) make this a well balanced and delicious medium bodied white wine. Chill and sip while you make dinner or serve with something spicy like Phad Thai, Indian curry or Mexican dish.

 

Creekside Estate Queenstown Road Pinot Noir VQA 2014Creekside Estate Queenston Road Pinot Noir 2014

VQA St. David’s Bench, Niagara Peninsula
$18.95 (Vintages #415877) 12.5% alcohol

Great things grow along that Queenstown Road, even if the vineyards are situated some 105 metres above sea level. Cherry and cranberry aromas and tastes, smooth as silk on the palate, medium bodied weight and tannins with some beloved St. David Bench earthiness and minerality on the spine of this red wine. For Pinot lovers, don’t miss out.

 

Peller Estates Private Reserve Gamay Noir 2013Peller Estates Private Reserve Gamay Noir VQA 2013

VQA Four Mile Creek, Niagara Peninsula
$19.95 (Vintages #444745) 13.3% alcohol

In 2012 and 2013 Peller Estates vintages won the Lieutenant Governor’s Award for Excellence in Ontario Wines. The 2012 also won a Gold Medal from Wine Align’s National Wine Awards of Canada 2014, Silver Medal from the International Wine & Spirit Competition UK 2014, and Silver Medal from the Los Angeles International Wine & Spirit Competition 2014. How’s that for credentials?

 

Lakeview Cabernet Franc Icewine 2013Lakeview Cabernet Franc Icewine 2013

VQA Niagara Peninsula
$29.95 (Vintages #53397) 11% alcohol

How sweet it is! Like bubbles, nothing makes an evening or occasion more festive than having a finale with ice wine. Aromas of red roses, tastes of ripe red and black currants, strawberries at their peak, with just enough acidity to keep you going back. Elegant and refined and plain delicious, it’s desert on its own but with some strong stinky cheese it would be over the top.

 

 

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6 wines under $100 – total!

Posted by Julie

Monday, January 11th, 2016
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2016 is off to a great start.  The LCBO Vintages kicks off the year with their annual ‘Smart Buys’ issue. This is always a time to introduce wine drinkers to some new finds under $15 or $20 that will give you the best bang for your buck – quality to price ratio. I tried many and found lots that I could not wait to recommend.

160104-NewArrivals01_enBefore the LCBO fills the Vintages shelves, I have the opportunity to taste too many to count wines and this time I found all kinds of gems at literally, thrilling price points. Even I was amazed at all that I could find for my budget of $100 – that doesn’t happen often!

So as winter settles in, bundle up, venture out to Vintages and load up your shopping cart with my picks of Smart Buys to uncork or stash away.

Happy New Year,

Julie

 

 

 

If I only had $100, I would buy these wines at LCBO Vintages…
Saturday January 9, 2016

 

sparklingLoosen Bros. Dr. L. Sparkling Riesling
Mosel, Germany
$14.95 (Vintages #296095) 12.5% alcohol

I hadn’t planned to do a sparkling wine after featuring several in the last release but after tasting this and at this under $15 price point, I had to share the news. Light, fruity, and fragrant moussey bubbles, made using the Charmat method (winespeak: the second fermentation is done in a pressurized tank to preserve the bubbles), it is an absolutely fabulous sparkling wine. Crisp with orange-lime fruit flavours flowing on the palate and while bone dry, there’s a pinch of sweet lemon curd in the soft mousse (bubbles) that burst in the mouth. A great brunch wine or afternoon delight. It’s too good to be true – stock up!

 

 

fielding chardonnay unoakedFielding Unoaked Chardonnay 2014
VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario
$14.95 (Vintages #164491) 12.5% alcohol

Always a fan of the Fielding wines and the family, I couldn’t resist putting this delicate Chardonnay in my basket. It is the kind of wine that would change the minds of folks who say they don’t like Chardonnay. (Not that I personally know many!) Light to medium bodied, fermented in stainless steel, it has soft fruit aromas and flavours of tropical fruits: green apples and apricots. It tastes fresh and pure and is a great sipper on it’s own or with some pasta in a creamy sauce. Again, another steal under $15!

 

Estancia Pinot Grigio 2014bottle-estancia-contemporary-pinot-grigio
California, USA
$16.95 (Vintages #418285) 13.5% alcohol

Warm days and cool nights, give this wine its depth of character. Aromatic and crisp, lots of yellow apple, cantaloupe and ripe pear on the palate. There’s some flinty lemon lime in the aftertaste and very pale in colour so be sure to serve it in a stem glass, otherwise it could be mistaken for water! While that in itself may not appeal to some, I found the wine deliciously fresh. Perhaps better suited for a summer’s day, but if you like or plan on serving a white wine as an aperitif or sip in the afternoon, this is sheer delight at any time of year.

 

sisters run cabernetSister’s Run Bethlehem Block Cabernet 2013
Barossa Valley, South Australia
$15.95 (Vintages #360636) 14.5% alcohol

Talk about a crowd pleasing beauty. Plush, dark, inky layered with red and dark berry fruits that keep you going back for one more sip. Soft tannins mingle in the mouthfeel with something slightly herbaceous at the end. It’s juicy, with a long, fruity, plum ending.

It had so many gold seals on the bottle, I didn’t keep track of the numbers, but more than one wine judge loved this…and I did too!

 

Don’t Hesitate Shiraz 2013dont hesitate
McLaren Vale, South Australia
$17.00 (Vintages #434159) 14% alcohol

You have to wonder where these names come from! As the name suggests…don’t hesitate to pick this up. TIP: pick up more than 1 bottle! It’s another fruity crowd-pleaser, smooth texture makes it easy sipping. Intense dark berry and plum flavours, rich, creamy and velvety with a pinch of sweet spice and pepper on the long finish. If you enjoy Shiraz, this one delivers 100%!

 

felinoFelino Malbec 2014
Mendoza, Argentina
$19.95 (Vintages #118067) 14.9% alcohol

When I have many wines to taste, I’ve starting playing a little star game. Obviously self explanatory but I go back and review – price dependent of course – to offer you as many of my 5 star wines as possible. This was no exception; I had stars and circles that made this sure fire hit jump out of my notes! I did not want to miss sharing this tip with you. Smooth as silk, blackberries and blueberries and other dark berry fruit are layered and bursting with flavours, a little leather and tobacco on the finish. Medium to full bodied with soft tannins, excellent balance and strong Argentinian character. Grilled meats, ribs slathered with spicy sauce, hearty burgers or the finest of roasts, this is one well-made wine….and tastes more than the price tag.

 

GRAND TOTAL: $99.75

6 wines for under $100 – that’s the best yet!

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Impressive wines to uncork on Valentines Day

Posted by Julie

Thursday, January 30th, 2014
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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

 

 

 

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