Posts Tagged ‘shopping for wine’

Say ‘Si’ to Argentina!

Posted by Susan

Friday, June 7th, 2013
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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!

Susan

 

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

 

 

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

Posted by Susan

Wednesday, April 20th, 2011
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If I only had $100, I would buy . . .

LCBO Vintages Release as of Saturday, April 16, 2011

 

Let the kids keep the chocolate, your Easter treat is from this week’s LCBO Vintages release – dressed up for Easter and heralding the fabulous wines of New Zealand. With a focus on New Zealand’s signature varietals—Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir—there’s a lovely Pinot Gris and some robust reds from Hawkes Bay. Whether it’s a roast ham or a spring risotto on your table, there is a wide range of wines highlighted for Easter, including a white blend from South Africa and a couple of Canadian whites to keep it local. Unsure of how to pair your Easter dinner or Passover brisket? Try a versatile rosé from Niagara’s award-winning Tawse Winery, offering ‘Sketches of Niagara’.

 

The main release is chock full of value-laden wines under twenty dollars, including Apollonio Valle Cupa from Puglia, Hogue’s Reserve Merlot from Washington state, and the Luigi Bosca Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon from Argentina. It was difficult to narrow down the selection for this feature, so we’ve ended up a few pennies over $100.

 

I’ll be celebrating Easter in Italy, and wish you all a delicious holiday weekend wherever you may be!



 

Cheers!

Susan

 

Carrick Pinot Noir 2007
Central Otago, New Zealand
$34.95 (Vintages #919837) 13.5% alcohol

A fabulous semi-opaque ruby wine, this offers a tapestry of aromas and flavours—floral, mineral, sweet cherry and cinnamon toast on the nose. Dry yet silky, the texture is lovely, the wine approachable yet complex. Medium bodied, fine tannins and vibrant acidity are well matched to tangy red fruit—cherry, raspberry and cranberry—soft spicy notes lingering on the persistent finish. A wine to savour now or cellar medium term.

Eradus Sauvignon Blanc 2009
Awatere Valley, Marlborough, New Zealand
$17.95 (Vintages #225557) 13.5% alcohol

From a classic of  New Zealand, pale yellow-green, expect an array of aromas—tropical fruit, pungent green herbaceous notes, asparagus and citrus. Dry, medium bodied, there’s significant weight on the palate, a replay of the tropical fruit, the herbal notes persisting. Lively acidity balances the sweet fruity and herbal tones and carries the flavours through the refreshing finish.

Featherstone ‘Black Sheep’ Riesling2010
VQA Niagara Peninsula
$16.95 (Vintages #80234) 11.0% alcohol
As part of their sustainable practices, the owners of Featherstone have sheep roam the vineyards, trimming the leaves on the vines prior to veraison, creating the conditions for optimal ripeness, seen in this wine. Lovely aromas of stone fruit, tangerine and lemon curd delight. Sweetly fruity, the flavours are of peach, pear and sweet apple, with an underlying backbone of fresh acidity to balance it all. Displaying the great potential of the vintage, this is a delightfully flavourful and well balanced wine with a lasting and compelling finish. Ontario’s signature varietal delights again!

Cave de Rasteau ‘La Domelière’ Rasteau Côtes du Rhône-Villages 2009
AOC Rasteau Côtes du Rhône-Villages, France
$15.00 (Vintages #222927) 14.5% alcohol
A youthful value-laden wine, this medium-bodied blend of Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre is sweet and spicy with lovely aromas of dark fruit and licorice on the nose. Dry, silky in texture, it’s structured yet fruity, dark berries, herbs and licorice notes riding a wave of fresh acidity braced with perceptible tannins. Nicely balanced, with heft and texture on the palate, it’s a great wine to enjoy now or over the next couple of years with flavourful meat dishes.

 

Falesco Vitiano 2008
IGT Umbria, Italy
$15.95 (Vintages #950204) 13.5% alcohol
This blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Sangiovese is a well-crafted wine with great impact on the palate. On the nose, sweet ripe fruit and spice with a hint of red licorice. Dry, medium bodied, the tannins are firm, the acidity crisp, and there are lovely layered flavours of toasty oak, berry fruit—raspberry, blackberry, black cherry—and exotic spice. The extended dry finish delights with lingering notes of cocoa. It’s a match for grilled meat. Such a value – will one bottle be enough?
 
Grand Total: $100.80

 

 

Have the urge to splurge?
Palatine Hills ‘Proprietor’s Reserve’ Cabernet Sauvignon 2007
VQA Niagara Lakeshore, Ontario
$19.95 (Vintages #121699) 12.8% alcohol
Smooth, dry, medium-full bodied, this is a great exemplar of the heralded 2007 vintage. A deep ruby in tone, the appealing aromas are of dark berries, plum, a slight herbal note and some hints of vanilla and spice.  Ripe tannins and fresh acidity support loads of ripe dark berry fruit, sweet herbs and spice—bay leaves and mint come to mind. Well integrated and robust, this is delicious and wonderfully suave wine. Enjoy it with full-flavoured meat dishes or cellar 3-5 years.

 

 

More about my blog post: If I only had $100, I would buy…
There is a myriad of wines out there, so it’s often a challenge deciding what to select when the LCBO Vintages catalogue comes out every two weeks or so. Like a kid in a candy shop, your attention darts from one treat to another, but what to choose . . . Something to serve to your guests this weekend? Something to put away for a special occasion? Something to store for a autumn afternoon?

I recognize that each person’s tastes and preferences are unique. “If I had $100 . . .”, will be posted just prior to LCBO Vintages releases and will highlight unique wines I have tasted that provide good value; the selection will total no more than $100.

Occasionally, I may include an optional wine – you can substitute or add it for a little more or a little less! Print this off as your shopping list knowing that these wines have been selected by a Savvy Sommelier who has sipped, savoured & swirled countless wines before they arrived on the shelves in Vintages.  Hopefully you too will find a new favorite wine.  And when you do, quickly save your pennies to buy a bottle or two more.  Warning that once a wine is gone from a particular Vintages release, that vintage, and sometimes that wine, is gone for good!

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

Posted by Susan

Wednesday, March 30th, 2011
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If only I had $100, I would buy . . .
LCBO Vintages Release as of Saturday, April 2, 2011

This week’s LCBO Vintages release includes an extensive feature on Burgundy, the land of terroir, of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, including wines from the 2008 and the heralded 2009 vintages. It is suggested that like many of the previous ‘9’ vintages, 2009 will be a great one. Hail in some areas not only decreased yield, but advanced ripening, and the hot dry weather in August and through harvest assured good quality fruit. The vintage conditions are predicted to produce deeply colored, quite intense red wines with higher alcohol levels. The whites are expected to be fruity with good acidity. 

The second feature is of South African wines, highlighting blends based on southern Rhône and Bordeaux varietals. The main release includes a good selection of wines from Ontario, for instance the Pelee Island ‘Vendange Tardive’ Pinot Gris featured in a recent Savvy Selection, as well as some very tasty wines from Chile, Argentina and Italy. Once again, there is an intense, robust wine from California’s Paul Hobbs, the Crossbarn Cabernet Sauvignon. Enjoy the selection below as you bask in the warm spring sunshine.Cheers

Cheers!
Susan

Vincent Morin Lacombe Bourgogne Pinot Noir 2009
AOC Bourgogne, France

$16.95 (Vintages #208496) 12.5% alcohol

Red with a tinge of violet, this wine is fragrant with sweet red and black berry fruit, spice and an earthy undertone. Dry, medium bodied, the sweet fruit and spice flavours wrapped in a silky texture entice, while fresh acidity and perceptible tannins ensure balance and consistency through the mid-length finish. An attractive value-laden wine, it wil cellar medium term or would be a good match this weekend with beef tenderloin with a tarragon mushroom sauce or roast pork with herbs and garlic.

Domaine Saint-Saturnin de Vergy Bourgogne Hautes Côtes de Nuits Blanc 2009
AOC, Hautes Côtes de Nuits, France
$18.95 (Vintages #128686) 13.0% alcohol

Pale gold, this lovely Chardonnay has a subtle nose of ripe orchard fruit, citrus, mineral and lightly toasted nuts. Dry, medium bodied, it offers a silky texture and vibrant acidity matched with delicious citrus, apple and pear. Beautifully balanced, there’s a lingering note of light toast on the fresh fruity finish. Match to chicken roasted with lemon zest and tarragon, or cellar medium term.

Lammershoek Roulette Blanc ‘Reserve’2008
WO Swartland, South Africa

$16.95 (Vintages #225458) 14.5% alcohol
This golden blend of Chenin Blanc, Chardonnay and Viognier displays lifted aromas of tropical and orchard fruit, and sweet toasty notes. Dry, full bodied, it has a smooth creamy texture, fresh acidity and loads of rich ripe fruit—pear, Mac apple and pineapple—with a dash of spice and some lasting toasty notes on the warm yet tangy finish. Mouth filling and satisfying, give it a whirl with herbed roast pork.

Errázuriz ‘Single Vineyard’ Syrah 2008
Don Maximiano Estate, Panhueque, Chile

$19.95 (Vintages #211938) 14.5% alcohol

Deep purple and intensely aromatic, this wine offers dark fruit, spice, vanilla and earthy nuances. Dry, medium-full bodied, fruit forward, it’s rich with dark plum, blackberry and black cherry, lifted by notes of exotic spice and white pepper. Perceptible tannins and fine acidity are well matched to the rich fruit. Attractive notes of cocoa and dark toast persist on the finish. A great choice for barbequed meats, now or over the next 3-5 years.


Rivera ‘Cappellaccio Riserva’ Aglianico 2005
DOC Castel del Monte, Italy

$18.95 (Vintages #984120) 13.5% alcohol
A deep jeweled ruby tone, this well-crafted wine is produced from one of Italy’s lesser known noble varietals, aged 12 months in French oak and a further 12 in bottle. Perfumed with spicy floral and herbal aromas, ripe plum, berry fruit and earthy tones, the wine is robust and well structured.  Dry, medium-full bodied, the succulent berry fruit is matched with fresh acidity and firm tannins that underline the lengthy dry finish. Rare meats are in order, or cellar long term, as there’s lots of life in this wine!

Grand Total: $91.75

 

Worth the splurge: 
Paul Hobbs ‘Crossbarn’ Cabernet Sauvignon 2006
Napa Valley, USA

$34.95 (Vintages #118695) 14.8% alcohol

A wine of substance, you see this in the depth of color and in the complexity of aromas—dark berry, pit fruit, cedar, vanilla. Powerful and structured, there’s warmth and depth on the palate, with layers of flavor and an attractive balance of fruit and acidity. Lovely notes of espresso roast linger on the lengthy finish of this dry, full bodied and intensely flavourful wine. The tannins are yet grippy, so enjoy it with rare grilled meats, or cellar 3-5 years.

  

More about my blog post: If I only had $100, I would buy…
There is a myriad of wines out there, so it’s often a challenge deciding what to select when the
LCBO Vintages catalogue comes out every two weeks or so. Like a kid in a candy shop, your attention darts from one treat to another, but what to choose . . . Something to serve to your guests this weekend? Something to put away for a special occasion? Something to store for a autumn afternoon?

I recognize that each person’s tastes and preferences are unique. “If I had $100 . . .”, will be posted just prior to LCBO Vintages releases and will highlight unique wines I have tasted that provide good value; the selection will total no more than $100.

Occasionally, I may include an optional wine – you can substitute or add it for a little more or a little less! Print this off as your shopping list knowing that these wines have been selected by a Savvy Sommelier who has sipped, savoured & swirled countless wines before they arrived on the shelves in Vintages.  Hopefully you too will find a new favorite wine.  And when you do, quickly save your pennies to buy a bottle or two more.  Warning that once a wine is gone from a particular Vintages release, that vintage, and sometimes that wine, is gone for good!

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Buying The Right Wine: 5 Easy Steps

Posted by Wayne

Tuesday, December 9th, 2008
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Some questions I think you should answer BEFORE you walk into the store (in this order of importance):

1. WHO is the wine for and what is their flavour and texture preference?
The character of the person you are buying the wine for is very important. Not everyone is impressed by high end expensive vintages that might have a complex flavour/texture profile that intimidates them because they can’t relax with the wine and just enjoy whatever it has to offer. Often, simplicity, purity and elegance prevail. Ask yourself if the recipient likes sweetness (fruit) flavours. Do they enjoy liquor over beer as an alternative drink? Do they smoke? Do they like light or heavy textured foods? Are they a person who likes to savour their food and their drink after they have eaten or drunk them?

By answering these and other questions about what they like to drink and eat, you can discover if you should be looking for light, sweet white wine with high thirst quenching acidity or a fuller-bodied red wine with a balance of fruit, acid, tannins and good alcohol that requires reflection and a strong finish. Or perhaps, a heavy, white Chardonnay or lighter, red Pinot Noir to have a combination of all these characteristics. They will appreciate your choice without knowing it was their choice.

2. WHAT event are you shopping for?
The central consideration here is: How private or public is the event and will it include food? If you are choosing wine with the intent of consuming it cocktail-style, then  I recommend that you choose a New World wine. That is what Australian Shiraz, California Zinfandel, Argentinian Malbec, South African Meritage, New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc… are very good at being wines that are meant to be enjoyed as wine drinks, like a cocktail. That does not mean they do not match with food well, it just means that New World wines tend to favour drinking rather than food matching and show best when they are part of ‘Happy Hour’.

If food is intended to be an integral part of the event, then I suggest to choose an Old World Wine. This is not to say that Old World wines do not drink well alone, but Old World Winemaking has a penchant for the concept of ‘terroir’ which brings with it all the regional richness of soil, weather, harvesting and winemaking that express the culture of not only local wine, but local food as well. Most Old World wines were meant at some point to be married with food, both by nature and by the people who make and consume them. Not often do you drink wine in Europe without some sort of food accompaniment. The amount and variety and intensity of the wine you choose should take into consideration the ambience it will be served in, with or without food as a partner.

3. WHERE will we be enjoying this wine?
When you have answered this question you will have accommodated the ideas of: the temperature of the wine, how it will be opened, displayed and stored, its portability, how it will be served and by whom, what quantity will show a discretionary purchase (a wine gift of a case of wine that can never be drunk as opposed to a one bottle purchase of quality wine suggests something about expectation and the anxiety to ‘cover all the bases’), how it will be opened (cork, screw cap…) as this might contribute to tradition or ambience, how long the event will transpire… and what may follow?

You might even want to think how you might want to personalize the wine beyond matching it with the event, like ribbons, wrapping, sticker messages, personalized gifts… jewelry wrapped around the bottleneck.

 

4. What SENSE can I make of the LAYOUT and RESOURCES of the store where I am going to buy the wine to help me find the right wine? I am looking for a CHARACTER here so what STYLE will have this character?

Get familiar with how the store displays its wines. Is it by country? Price? Wine region? Varietal? Are there sale bins? Is there a Staff picks section? A Vintage section? Reds here? Whites over there? Dessert wines? Is there anyone to assist me in finding the character profile of the wine I am looking for that I have firmly entrenched in my mind by having confident answers to questions 1,2,3 above. I know what I need because I am buying wine for a person who has a particular taste preference and it is going to be served at this event. I AM DOING THE MATCHING OF CHARACTERS AND THE SELECTION OF WINE!

It isn’t necessary to find the perfect wine because there is more than one “perfect” wine so a “perfect” choice is a given.  My approach is to:
#1-Navigate the landscape of the store.
#2-Narrow the choices.
#3-Select a manageable number of finalists (I recommend tops 3 wines).
#4- READ the front and back labels of the bottles even if it is in another language and you need to ask a store clerk what it means (because even if you don’t know what it means this time, you will next time after you have tasted the wine!).
#5- Fit the drinking preferences of the person this wine is for with the style of wine described on each of the labels of your finalists off the shelf.
#6- Buy the one you think they will like. You’ll probably like it too! Especially when they do.

 

 

5.What is MY price point?
Make this your last, not your first consideration. And keep it flexible in a range you are willing to pay. NOT ALL GOOD WINE COSTS A LOT OF MONEY! Nor is all sale wine good! These are two very good reasons to give price a lesser priority than numbers 1 through 4 above. That is not to say price should not be a consideration at all. Just remember this:

 “A wine of character will help you find a good price, but a good price won’t help you find a wine with character.”

December 9, 2008

 

How do you choose wine? Write me. Share your methods. I love to discover new ways to find good wine!

Cheers!
Wayne Walker

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Le Clos Jordanne – a fabulous Ontario Pinot Noir

Posted by Susan

Friday, December 5th, 2008
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Looking for a unique gift for the holiday season?  Don’t miss the LCBO Vintages Wine of the Month, Le Clos Jordanne Village Reserve (#33894, $30), released December 6, 2008.  This Pinot Noir is an excellent value Ontario Pinot Noir, which can be cellared for 3-5 years.

I had the opportunity to participate in a tasting let by Thomas Bachelder, Le Clos Jordanne winemaker.  Thomas is a native Montrealer who developed his winemaking expertise in Burgundy, while pursuing a formal education in Viticulture and Oenology in Beaune.  He has tremendous enthusiasm for Le Clos Jordanne terroir, for the winemaking team, and for his wine. 

Le Clos Jordanne’s approach to the vines and the land is to allow the wine to express its ‘sense of place’.  In order to ensure this, the vines and fruit are tended and harvested by hand, and no synthetic fertilizers or pesticides are used.  In 2005, the winery received its first Ecocert Canada certification for organic farming.

Last summer, I had the opportunity of a private visit to Le Clos Jordanne winemaking facilities in Niagara,   This winery was established in 1998 as a joint venture between Vincor and the French firm, Boisset.  They were convinced that the Niagara property had similar characteristics of slope, climate, soil and terroir to the Cote d’Or in Burgundy.

The focus of Le Clos Jordanne is on premium Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. The grapes are grown on several properties which are uniquely situated; they include La Petite, Talon Ridge, Claystone Terrace and Le Clos Jordanne vineyards.  The wine from each of its properties in unique, as I discovered during a barrel tasting.  For instance, Claystone East produces a fairly robust Pinot, which may be blended with Talon Ridge, along with deselected barrels of the other single vineyards, to produce Le Clos Jordanne Village Reserve.

If you love fine Pinot Noir, as I do, visit the Vintages section of your LCBO, or contact us regarding the opportunity to purchase a case directly from Le Clos Jordanne. 

Happy holidays

Susan

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