Posts Tagged ‘Duckhorn Vineyards’

Tuscany & Thanksgiving wines at Vintages – this shopping list is under $100

Posted by Susan

Thursday, September 26th, 2013

Italy’s Tuscany wine region is the main attraction in this weekend’s LCBO Vintages release (beginning on Sept 28th). The classic ‘big three’ red wines crafted from the native grape variety, Sangiovese—Chianti Classico, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, and Brunello—and a number of blended red wines, usually classified as IGT  (Indicazione geografica tipica), that bring to the palate the impact of classic French varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.

Sangiovese grapes, photo F. Sgroi

Explore the world of Super Tuscans

Some may know the story of how the Maremma, the coastal region of Italy on the Mediterranean, was the birthplace of what were called the ‘Super-Tuscans’. Mario Incisa della Rocchetta planted his first vineyard in the area with the intention of producing some Bordeaux-style red wines for his personal consumption. The wine he called ‘Sassicaia’, commercially released in 1968, along with Antinori’s Tignanello, launched the Super-Tuscan phemonema.

Over time, as this style of wine became more popular and spread more broadly through many Italian wine regions, the regulations were expanded to include the designation IGT to incorporate these unique wines into the standards of Italian wine law. These wines come from a specific geographic area, meet specified quality standards, and may also bear the name of the grape varieties from which they were produced. As an example of the longstanding presence of non-native varieties in Italy’s winemaking history, the Capezzana ‘Barco Reale’ di Carmignano (a great value) comes from a DOCCarmignano—which has always required the inclusion of Cabernet Sauvignon in its blends. To quote the September 28 LCBO Vintages magazine, the IGT style ‘embodies the interplay of tradition and innovation that has always been at the heart of Tuscan winemaking’.

Give Thanks with Great Wines 

With Thanksgiving fast approaching, this release brings a cornucopia of wines to choose from. There are Rieslings from Ontario, Alsace and Germany; Chardonnay from California and Australia.  If you are prepping your Thanksgiving feast early, here are my top picks at the table; a richly flavoured Merlot from Ontario’s Angels Gate; the fabulous ‘Goldeneye’ Pinot Noir from Duckhorn or the classic Mercury of Domaine Faiveley; and Cascina Gilli’s clean yet concentrated Barbera d’Asti. For a Canadian sweep at the Thanksgiving table, consider starting with Sumac Ridge Steller’s Jay Sparkling Brut, moving to a choice of Angel’s Gate Mountainview Merlot or Tawse ‘Sketches of Niagara’ Riesling for the main, and then consider the hedonistic pleasures of Château des Charmes’ Vidal Ice Wine for dessert!

From the general release, I’m putting a focus on cellarable wines, including Paul Hobbs’ always impressive, concentrated ‘Crossbarn’ Cabernet Sauvignon, a great value Bordeaux—Château les Hauts de Palette—and from the Okanagan, Burrowing Owl’s 2010 Merlot.

Cheers and Enjoy!


Nottola Vino Nobile di Montepulciano 2009

Montepulciano, Italy
$19.95 (Vintages #184960) 14.0% alcohol

Absolutely delectable, this fine red wine shows restrained aromas of red fruit, spice, earth and delicate floral notes. Dry, medium-full bodied and satiny in texture, the wash of intense red fruit is nicely offset by a spine of lively acidity and subtle tannins. Elegantly integrated oak offers a spicy note that accents the earthiness that persists on the finish. Enjoy this red wine now and over the next few years.


Lapostolle ‘Cuvée Alexandre Apalta Vineyard’ Cabernet Sauvignon 2011

Colchagua Valley, Chile
$24.95 (Vintages #947929) 14.0% alcohol

Deep purple, this powerful red wine produced from organic grapes offers great complexity and layers of aromas and flavours, including cassis, mint, spiced flowers, dried herbs and tobacco. Dry, full bodied, displaying gripping tannins and clean acidity, it has a firm base from which to showcase ripe, concentrated red and black fruits. Hints of sweet spice and pepper, along with a whiff of espresso linger on the finish. Cellar a further year or two, or decant and serve with rare red meats.


Graffigna ‘Centenario’ Late Harvest Malbec 2012

San Juan, Argentina
$14.95 (Vintages #322719) 12.5% alcohol

Deep ruby, this is a delightful incarnation of Malbec, offering tantalizing aromas of dried cranberries and black cherries, ripe dark berries and hints of smoke and spice. The jammy red fruit is attractively balanced with a backbone of clean acidity, notes of spice add interest, and there’s freshness on the finish. Serve this red wine with flourless chocolate almond cake.


Tawse ‘Sketches of Niagara’ Riesling 2012

VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario
$17.95 (Vintages #89029) 10.0% alcohol

Light-medium bodied and almost transparent, this is a fine value white wine bursting with aromas of nectarine, Japanese pear and lemon/lime. The sensation is one of subtly-wrought balance, the flavours suggesting the sweetness of lemon curd, along with lime, crisp apple and a touch of mineral.


Dry Creek ‘Heritage’ Zinfandel 2010

Sonoma County, California
$21.95 (Vintages #574491) 13.5% alcohol

Inky and deep, this absolutely fabulous Zin offers rich blueberry and currant aromas, exotic spice notes, vanilla, earth and savoury toasty oak. Dry, full and rich, the dark fruit is succulent and spicy, the oak well integrated. The subtle structure brings great balance and harmony to the whole and delivers a surprisingly clean freshness on the big, fruity finish. Wow! You’ll want to stock up on this red wine!


Grand Total: $99.30




Six sure fire signs of spring

Posted by Susan

Thursday, March 14th, 2013

Without skipping a beat, a sign of spring is the arrival of the annual California Wine Fair.  This always quickly sells out. Ottawa is April 5 at the Westin Hotel and Toronto is April 8 at the Fairmont Royal York. The Fair features 130+ wineries offering 400 wines!  This year  features some of the new trends in the California wine industry.

Can’t wait until the California wine industry arrives in town?  Then this weekend’s LCBO Vintages March 16 release highlights California wines, focusing on pioneering winemakers who made a mark on the industry, starting in the mid 1970s, with their keen attention to quality. These determined winemakers combed their focus on matching key grape varieties to ideal soils and new hillside sites with single-minded attention to viticultural practices and innovative winemaking techniques.

Recognition came in 1976, when Château Montelena’s Chardonnay and Stag’s Leap founder Warren Winiarski’s Cabernet Sauvignon won the Judgement of Paris in their respective categories. This LCBO Vintages release provides the opportunity to savour some of these iconic wines, from Château Montelena Chardonnay to Duckhorn Merlot, Ravenswood Zinfandel, Caymus Cabernet Sauvignon and Inglenook ‘Rubicon’ Cabernet Sauvignon. These iconic California wines are priced beyond my budget of an assortment of wines that total max $100 for this blog.  I do however recommend that you consider splurging!

Another sign of spring is the focus of the clean fresh white wines produced in Europe’s alpine regions—Austria, Alsace, Germany, Hungary and Italy. Look for some fabulous Rieslngs and Pinot Gris. The general release delivers great value wines.  Others worth noting beyond my list below are: the perennial value, Château Hauchat ($14.95), Pierre Henri Morel’s absolutely fabulous Côtes du Rhône-Villages ($15.95), Torre Quarto’s ‘Bottaccia’ produced from Puglia’s little-known but delicious Uva di Troia ($14.95) and an outstanding value from Spain, Piñol’s Grenache blend, Ludovicus ($13.95).

Given all the great values, here are my top picks and there are 6 wines just under my $100 set limit!

Cheers and Enjoy!



If I only had $100, I would buy. . .
LCBO Vintages Release as of Saturday, March 16, 2013


Balthasar Ress ‘Hattenheimer Schützenhaus’ Riesling Kabinett 2011

Rheingau, Germany
$17.95 (Vintages #735241) 10.0% alcohol

Straw/green, this is a fabulous Riesling displaying subtle, complex aromas and flavours of mineral, citrus, stone fruit and herb. Dry, a touch spritzy, the fruit and herb notes are framed by fine acidity and the underlying minerality.


Cave de Hoen ‘Heimberger’ Brut Rosé Crémant d’Alsace NV

AOC Alsace, France
$16.95 (Vintages #168948) 12.5% alcohol
This dry, pale salmon sparkling wine made in the traditional method, displays a fine effervescence that persists on the palate. Delicate aromas and flavours of red field berries—cranberry, currant and raspberry—dominate, while lively acidity carries the flavours through a crisp, palate-cleansing finish. A great wine for sipping at Easter, or to be paired with salads, fish or white meats.


Malivoire Riesling 2011

VQA Niagara Escarpment, Ontario
$15.95 (Vintages #277438) 10.5% alcohol
Finely crafted, this is a clean, lively white wine offering an attractive floral fragrance, along with aromas of citrus, orchard fruit and mineral. Light-medium bodied, a touch of residual sugar is paired with clean, refreshing acidity. Great balance and lovely flavours of lemon-lime, ripe apple and mineral right through the finish. Enjoy with pan-fried halibut or roast chicken or pork.


Rockway Vineyards ‘Small Lot Reserve’ Red Assemblage 2010

VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario
$16.95 (Vintages #321893) 14.0% alcohol
High-toned aromas of ripe dark fruit, spiced rose and a touch of roasted red pepper lift from the glass of  this blend of the Cabernets and Merlot. Dry, on the full side of medium bodied, this red wine is round, smooth, balanced and flavourful. Quite lush dark berry and plum flavours wash across the palate, supported by the subtle structure of well-integrated tannins and fine acidity. Notes of sweet baking spice and toasty oak garnish the fresh, round, fruity finish. Deftly crafted and an excellent value. 




Château Hauchat 2010

AOC Fronsac, France
$14.95 (Vintages #123489) 13.5% alcohol
This fragrant, dry, medium-full bodied Merlot-domianted red wine is a remarkable value! There’s complexity on the nose—red and black fruit, spice, vanilla and mineral. On the palate, there’s a fine marriage of firm tannins, plum and cherry/berry fruit, and fresh acidity, while lovely spicy notes and nuances of mineral and toast carry through the dry finish. A few bottles are in order for meals featuring robust red meats.

Nuova Cappelletta Barbera del Monferrato 2010

DOC Barbera del Monferrato, Italy
$16.95 (Vintages #719518) 14.0% alcohol
This is a reliably good producer known for its commitment to biodynamic agriculture. The red wine doesn’t disappoint, with lovely floral aromas, red fruits, spice and a touch of vanilla. Dry, medium bodied, sweet spice and vanilla replay, combining with flavours of red berries and kirsch. The wine is subtly yet firmly structured and beautifully balanced, offering a touch of warmth on a long mouth-watering finish. A great choice for mushroom arrosto with roast pork.


Grand Total: $99.70