Posts Tagged ‘New Zealand wines’

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

Posted by Julie

Friday, May 1st, 2015

The LCBO Vintages release on May 2nd focuses on New Zealand, Germany and rosé wines (High time for the latter). If you’ve had the pleasure of visiting “greenland” down under, you will know that the region is famous for the crisp LCBO Vintages new arrivals magazine May 2Sauvignon Blanc’s and Pinot Noir’s. New Zealand even has an official Sauvignon Blanc day in April; how’s that for promoting the varietal?

Although New Zealand only produces less than 1% of the world’s wine, there is an impressive array of varieties and styles.

Rosés just never go out of style and are a fabulous accompaniment to many foods. This release will display all kinds of pink on the shelves so I hope you pick up one or three and think “pink”. Here’s to warm weather and the patio!



If I had $100, I would buy these wines at LCBO Vintages…
May 2, 2015


Te Whare Ra Sauvignon Blanc

Te Whare Ra Sauvignon Blanc 2014

Marlborough, South Island, New Zealand
$24.95 (Vintages # 411603) 13% alcohol

Gooseberry and grassy aromas support the fleshy backbone of stone fruit. Flavours of ripe peach, the citrus has some spicy notes but this white wine is smooth as silk. It’s harmonious and gave me the impression of a well made wine. Balanced with an aftertaste of sweet pink grapefruit pith. A great sipper or with some fish tacos or salmon salad.



Frogpond Organic ChardonnayFrogpond Organic Chardonnay 2013

VQA Niagara on the Lake
$15.00 (Vintages # 203547) 12.2% alcohol

A fresh and lively new Chard. from the Niagara region. The winemaking philosophy behind Frogpond is “harmony in nature is the prerequisite for truly authentic wine”. I was not disappointed and more than amazed at the price point of this white wine.

It’s lively with some tropical fruit, green grass and apple, light bodied but very satisfying on the palate with a respectable fruity finish.

Perfect for a summer luncheon, salad fare or a wonderful sipper on its own.


Carpineto Dogajolo RosatoCarpineto Dogajolo Rosato 2014

IGT Toscana, Italy
$14.95 (Vintages #699934) 12.5% alcohol

Pale salmon in colour, floral and fruity aromas. Tart cherry and apple flavours, great acidity and soft in the mouthfeel. It’s light bodied, soft and juicy with a light fruity finish. A beautiful summer rose. I have served this with everything from fish to chicken and someone always ends up checking the beautiful label on the bottle, not (as we know) that that makes the wine! I recently found a recipe for crispy cod taco with a smoked pineapple sauce – this will be my summer match!


Wirra Wirra Church BlockWirra Wirra Church Block Cabernet/Shiraz/Merlot 2012

McLaren Vale, Australia
$19.95 (Vintages #24034) 14.5 % alcohol

There is lots going on here with 49% Cabernet, 35% Shiraz and 16% Merlot, not a bit of wonder this masterful red wine blend brings on aromas and flavours of dense, velvety, rich fruit. Impressive structure with soft tannins, lots of backbone! It is a rich wine that would stand up to anything grilled or just on its own – almost approaching nirvana. This is really yum.


Lenz Moser TrockenbeerenausleseLenz Moser Prestige Trockenbeerenauslese 2012

Prädikatswein, Burgenland, Austria
$20.95 (Vintages #729657) 10% alcohol

Deep golden yellow the flavours in this desert wine are absolutely delectable. Sweet luscious honeysuckle flavours of baked apple raisin compote with toasted almonds. Creamy deluxe with a seam of acidity that sends you back for more. Absolutely mouth coating and a perfect end to a dinner regardless of the season. Balanced and outstanding, it’s desert on its own but with a strong cheese, your tastebuds are pretty close to heaven.


Grand Total: $ 95.80



If I had $100…I would buy these wines at Vintages

Posted by Julie

Friday, February 6th, 2015

Heritage Canada recently put out a pamphlet called “This is why I love Winter”, but they failed to mention the new wines in Vintages. For folks like myself this was a miss since indoor activities can offer up wonderful new tantalizing adventures. The LCBO Vintages release for February 7 offers all kinds of new kids on the block: “South of the Equator”, “Italy’s Native Grapes” and of course, “Valentine’s”.  Talk about something for everyone.

LCBO Vintages Magazine Feb 7Aside from the 37th Winterlude festivities, February can sometimes be dull, so why not sparkle it up with an afternoon brunch or lunch, featuring some new releases. Start with a sparkling or a new white wine and a red. A grouping of cheese, another for meats: interesting cold cuts, salamis’s with a few baguette thins and great mustard, tiny quiches, maybe a little soup (hot or cold) in a shooter, some one bite cupcakes or cocoa brownies to finish. It doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive to make it fun and very satisfying. Introduce a little Port when the cappuccino machine goes on and folks will be talking about this for ages. Different and edgy.

Now this is why I love winter!


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

February 6, 2015


Poulet et Fils Cremant de DiePoulet et Fils Brut Crémant De Die

AC, Rhône, France
$17.95 (Vintages # 392555) 11.5% alcohol

The aromas are like putting your face into a bouquet of roses. Pale golden in colour, those tiny bubbles are just bursting with ripe strawberry and raspberry flavours that continue to effervesce with lemon-lime juiciness. It is a beautiful sparkling wine, perfect for a brunch or to share with a special someone during February. Would be divine with strong cheeses or just on its own.



Eradus Sauvignong BlancEradus Sauvignon Blanc 2013

Awatere Valley, Marlborough, New Zealand
$18.95 (Vintages #225557) 13.5% alcohol

While not new to Vintages, this 2013 release offers everything in a great Sauvignon Blanc. Pale in colour with lively green apple flavours that give your mouth a vivacious squirt of acidity. Very fresh with lots of lemon-lime on the palate this white wine is also soft and creamy, with a tangy and clean finish. Not overpowering but there’s lots of backbone and it will stand up to spinach spanakopitas.



Rolf BinderRolf Binder Heinrich Shiraz/Mataro/Grenache 2010

Barossa Valley, Australia
$24.95 (Vintages #995092) 14.5% alcohol

You can’t go wrong with a 65% Shiraz, 25% Mataro and 10% Grenache blend. Aromas of ripe plums and sweet spice carry through to the palate in this bold rich wine. Smooth as silk on the tongue with soft tannins and a fruity finish almost reminiscent of  Christmas cake. Layered and complex, lots going on with every sip and you could easily cellar this beauty for a few years. This red wine would be fabulous with a Cottage pie and don’t skimp on the garlic mash topping.


Lamadrid BonardaLamadrid Single Vineyard Bonarda 2011

Mendoza, Argentina
$14.95 (Vintages #232652) 14% alcohol 

Dark and inky in colour, smokey aromas waft from the glass. After just one sip of this red wine, sweet, very ripe dark berries coat the palate that seem to last forever. Blackberries and sweet spice permeate the long fruit finish. Tannins are soft but complex, the wine has good body and would stand up handsomely with anything grilled or some hot salami and olives. It’s also a  great sipper on its own with a page turner book and a fireplace.


Warre's Warrior Finest PortWarres Warrior Finest Reserve Port

Douro, Portugal
$16.95  (Vintages# 197202) 20% alcohol

DOP means Protected Denomination of Origin which means it has identifiable characteristics from a certain area in Portugal. With an unbelievable price point it did not disappoint. “Warrior” is the oldest brand of Port in the world, having been shipped continuously since the 1750’s.

A nose of buttered toast, hazelnuts and coffee, it is so big and smooth and deliciously sweet on the palate it reminded me of raisin pecan pie. Silky red fruits partner with the above on the tongue making this one delicious drink. I also got a little lemon and licorice the finish, the flavours did not stop coming and I was pretty impressed for that price. With some strong smelly cheese and a bowl of warm mixed nuts, that would be a powerful afternoon or after dinner delight. (Would also make a great hostess gift).


Grand Total: $93.75



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

Posted by Debbie

Friday, January 9th, 2015

I can hardly believe that I am writing 2015! And what better way to start the new year but with “The Smart Buys Issue” from Vintages.  This makes my homework really easy when there are so many tried & true great value wines. I am also happy to report that the several new wines to LCBO`s Vintages do not break the bank.

Smart Buy WinesVintages magazine states, “The definition of value is the quality of something compared to the price paid for it”.  Many times I have written about finding an outstanding wine at a popular price point. It really feels like a bargain although I’m never sure of the price you can put on real quality. After all there are some quality wines at $15 and also at $20. So in this release, I challenge you to find your smart buys, albeit I‘ll help with a few suggestions in this shopping list below.

This Smart Buys issue also celebrates the 256th birthday of Robbie Burns and while I didn’t get around to tasting the Bunnahabhain 18-year old Islay Single Malt at $179.95 (Vintages #247049), I’ll bet you for those malt fans out there, it would not disappoint.

So let’s start our new year out right with some “smart buys” and we’ll just go from there.


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

Saturday January 10, 2015


Jan 10 See Ya LaterSee Ya Later Ranch Chardonnay 2012

VQA Okanagan, British Columbia
$17.95 (Vintages # 126912)  13% alcohol

With the highest elevation vineyard in the Okanagan Valley this lovely Chardonnay is an example of what British Columbia grapes can produce. Pale in colour, fruity, crisp, light and smooth, with tastes of soft apricots and almonds on the palate. It is a delicate Chardonnay with a soft buttery finish and a little lime zest. This white wine is wonderful on its own or try this with some Mac n’ Cheese – Monday night dinners will never be the same.

Haha 2013 Sauvignon Blanc

Marlborough, South Island, New Zealand
$17.95 (Vintages # 388363)  13% alcohol

You just have to love a wine called “Haha” and I’m not sure if the winemaker was wanting to play a trick, but there was nothing tricky about this fabulous Sauvignon Blanc. Looking into it further, Hãhã is a Mãori word which means savoury and luscious. I`ll buy that!  The usual culprits descriptors for Sauvignon Blanc spring to mind: grapefruit and lime citrus, a little gooseberry (also known as cat’s pee – strangely, this is a good thing!).  This white wine is lively with a little pithiness on the finish and lots of fresh pizzazz.  Your taste buds burst with saliva which makes it a fabulous appertif. With some fig and hazelnut Raincoast crackers and soft cheese in an endive leaf it would be divine. A lovely new Sauvignon Blanc at a very nice price point.

Jan 10 Devils Corner wineDevils Corner Pinot Noir 2013

Brown Brothers, Tasmania
$23.95 (Vintages # 317966)  14% alcohol

On the east coast in Tasmania’s Tamar river valley lies the Devil’s Corner Vineyard. No doubt named on account of a treacherous bend in the river the winery has become a sanctuary for growing several award winning varietals entrenched deep with family history.  Soft aromas of cherries with herbs, a little forest floor and ripe plums on the palate to give this medium bodied, silky gem a delicious mouthfeel. Fine tannins and refreshing acidity make it an attractive companion with everything from charcuterie to rabbit.


Monasterio De Las Vinas Reserva 2006 

DO Carinena, Spain
$14.95 (Vintages # 166579)  13% alcohol

A beautiful deep ruby red wine with a heady blend of Grenache, Carignan and Tempranillo grapes, all being aged in either American or French oak for approximately 12 months. Rich ripe fruits in the aromas; black ripe plums and cherries spring to mind  that carry through on the palate with a little vegetal, peppery taste that adds interest to the melange of flavours. There’s little sweet spice on the long finish that makes this a lovely wine to sip on its own or with any grilled meats or strong cheese. There’s also enough fruit that I would say you could cellar for a couple of years.


Lafage Cote Sud 2012Jan 10 Lafage

IGP Cotes Catalanes, Roussillon, France
$14.95 (Vintages # 395236)   14% alcohol

After tasting some wines I have to go back and look at the price point, just to confirm I hadn’t mistaken it for more than its actual price tag. This is one of those wines that tastes like it is $10 more! Bright ruby and garnet with rich ripe currants and blackberries in the aromas and tastes. It’s full bodied and fruity with sweet spices lingering through the soft tannins in the aftertaste. It would be wonderful with any wintery roast with all the trimmings.



Grand Total: $ 89.75 (look what Ive saved you already!)



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!



If I only had $100, I would buy….

Posted by Susan

Friday, May 22nd, 2009

If I only had $100, I would buy…

For the May 23, 2009 LCBO Vintages release


Fire up the BBQ, the summer weather is here. With so many wines to choose from, which ones to buy? 


Problem solved.  



I am part of a panel that samples the wines several weeks before they arrive on the store shelves at Vintages.  This means, I have made my list of ‘must buy wines’, weeks before the wines are in stock at your local LCBO.  To help you decide which wines to buy & serve with BBQ fare, here is my list if I only had $100, I would buy…



Worth every penny – Palliser Estate Pinot Noir, New Zealand

$28.95    Check Inventory at LCBO Vintages

New Zealand makes outstanding Pinots – this is my hands down favorite.  An elegant, medium bodied wine that with one swirl, smells like a bouquet of red roses. With one sip, tastes of red cherry & warm heat makes for a delicious wine that lingers forever.  Classic match for Pinot Noir is grilled salmon or serve this one with BBQ lamb chops & grilled portabello mushrooms.  Watch out, this wine will sell out fast!


Bring on the burgers – G7 Reserva Carmenère, Chile

$14.95    Check Inventory at LCBO Vintages

Carmenère is a crowd pleaser at a great price too! For the longest time, Chilean winemakers thought this grape variety was Merlot – until they put it under a microscope & discovered that it wasn’t.  Carmenère has become Chile’s signature grape variety. This wine is BIG, full bodied & ready to be paired with anything off the BBQ.  At this price…stock up for the summer!


Sip with sizzling steaks – Spellbound Old Vines Zinfandel, California

$20.95    Check Inventory at LCBO Vintages

This wine is not from Napa or Sonoma, rather from the small town of Lodi (a 40 minute drive from Napa) where vineyards look more like corn fields – rows upon rows that never seem to end.  Many vines are over 100 years old, looking more like little trees with dark bunches of grapes. Wines made with ‘old vines’ are full bodied intense & concentrated tastes of black plums, black cherry, molasses & dark chocolate.  Absolutely delicious!


Ribs are ready!  Casa Santos Sousão, Portugal

$21.95    Check Inventory at LCBO Vintages

A BIG wine made with Portugal’s up & coming grape variety – Sousão.  The full bodied wine is deep purple in colour & loaded with tastes of black plums, figs, cedar & vanilla with a touch of smoke.  Can’t go wrong with this one!




Can you spare $5?

This delicious white wine is worth adding to your shopping cart – Villa Giada Ceirole Moscato d’Asti, Italy

$18.95   Check Inventory at LCBO Vintages

Chill & sip during a picnic, before a BBQ feast or even with dessert.  The wine may smell sweet – but doesn’t taste sweet. Luscious flavours of honey, lime, mandarin will fill your glass with fine bubbles.  Lay out the cheese platter, or serve with summertime salads or BBQ pineapples & strawberries to enjoy with this wine. One word – DELICIOUS.




What about Rosé wines? 

I am in the midst of compiling a ‘Rosé Report’ of every Rosé wine that I have tried so far (hard work indeed!).  Email me to receive it directly or watch for my blog.


I went wine shopping with CTV Ottawa

Leanne Cusak (host of News at Noon), & I, roamed the aisles at the LCBO looking for wines that I consider ‘good buys’ priced under $15 and $20 bottle. 

Watch the TV segments

See our shopping list



Cheers & Enjoy!     


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