Posts Tagged ‘Sparkling Wine’

What do Organic Wine Labels mean?

Posted by Debbie

Thursday, August 9th, 2018
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These days, products labelled as “organic, green, gluten free or vegan” are often confusing and have different meanings depending on whether the item is eggs, apples or grapes. Personally, in general terms, I tend to think organic wine is one that has not had pesticides or other chemicals used in its vineyard or winemaking process. If that is indeed the case, I can’t help but wonder if this extra attention results in a difference in taste too.

My curiosity gets the better of me and nose dive into some ‘research’.

The David Suzuki Foundation offers some great explanations of terms that I have interchanged. For example, when the wine label states “made with organically grown grapes”, this means that the wine is made with a minimum of 70% organic grapes.  Turns out this is not the same as certified organic grapes.  The term Certified Organic means that the producers use 100% organic grapes and cannot use toxic pesticides, herbicides or synthetic fertilizers that would infiltrate both the soil and the grapes.

Biodynamic wine is defined by renowned winemaker Ann Sperling (of Sperling Vineyards, Southbrook Vineyards and Versado) as, “Uber organic”.  Biodynamic is organic but natural resources are used to cultivate grapes and must meet the standards imposed for organic-certified farming. This kind of wine production also takes into consideration the lunar calendar, astrology, plants, animals, insects;  it’s not just about the grapes.

I admit that I find the idea of the slant of the moon’s light on a vineyard making a difference in grape-growing a little mind-boggling. In order for a winery to declare itself as biodynamic, it must have achieved the highest level of certification through Demeter Canada and maintained it for a minimum of three years. It’s no wonder that there are only a handful of biodynamic wineries across the country.

Wine Country Ontario lists wineries in Ontario that sell organic, vegan, gluten-free, vegetarian and biodynamic wines. All these labels embrace sustainable winemaking or economical farming practices. Whether the wine tastes any different with these labels depends on your opinion.

The recent release at LCBO’s Vintages is promoting several organic wines. I have a couple of recommendations from this release and also suggestions in the general list of organic wines. Many LCBO stores have an organic wine section, so have a look the next time you are in one. You might find something new from this issue to impress your vegan friends!

From the August 4 release. 

 

Murviedro Luna Organic Brut Cava

Spain
$17.95 (Vintages #547224) 11.6% alcohol

Cava in Spain is akin to Prosecco in Italy and it never hurts to have one of these chilling in the fridge. This happens to be a Gold Medal winner at the 2017 Concours Mondial de Bruxelles. Whenever I see those gold labels, it’s never a risk to buy the bottle.

Cava is known for its light sparkling citrusy moussey bubbles, made from the Macabeo grapes and is always a delight for brunch, Happy Hour or to kick off a party.

 

 

Southbrook Triomphe Chardonnay 2016

Niagara-on-the-Lake, Canada
$24.95 (Vintages #172338) 12% alcohol

Southbrook Vineyards is known as the first winery in Canada to earn both organic and biodynamic certification in the vineyard. It is also one impressive winery to visit in Niagara. The architecture of this biodynamic winery is different from its neighbors and their elegant wines are always memorable.

During the release tasting, I did not get to sample this 2016, but previous Chardonnays made by Ann Sperling have been knock out delicious.

Enjoy a glass in the sunshine, unwinding while the sun goes down, with fish or chicken off the BBQ or a summertime salad.

 

Montes Alpha Syrah 2015

Colchagua Valley, Chile
$19.95 (Vintages #612) 14.5% alcohol

The label on the bottle of this dark blackberry nectar states “dry farmed”.  What does this mean? Basically the grapes are cultivated without any irrigation in regions where there is little rain. The grapes feed off any residual moisture in the soil which deeply extends their vine roots and consequently their flavour.

I really liked the leathery finish on this wine.  It would be great with any grilled chops.

 

Organic Wines available all year round at the LCBO

 

Lurton Piedra Negra Pinot Grigio Organic

Argentina
$13.80 (Vintages #55674) 12.5% alcohol

This is a “pretty” soft white, dry, medium-bodied white wine. Luscious tropical and citrus flavours present loads of fresh fruit on the palate.

I picked this up on my lookout for general list organic wines at the LCBO (regularly available on the main store shelves) and it has easily become a favourite in my house.

It’s refreshing and delicious on its own or served with fish tacos, sushi, cold pasta salad.

 

 

El Abuelo Organic Tempranillo Monastrell

Almanzo D.O., Spain
$9.95 (Vintages #524520)  14% alcohol

Don’t let the price fool you. This great organic wine from Spain is full-bodied with loads of black fruit flavours.

Bone dry and smooth, it packs lots of punch at 14% alcohol but does not taste hot on the palate.

It goes well with burgers or spaghetti or just to sip in a glass.

 

Travel tip and wine stop in Hockley Valley, Mono, Ontario 

 

My husband and I recently returned from a trip to the Hockley Valley Resort (North of Toronto near Orangeville) and discovered the Adamo Winery Estate. The resort offers a shuttle to the winery, but if you prefer to walk, it’s a short distance but all uphill.

The resort and winery are family owned and operated, clearly taking great pride in both their wines and the upscale resort. Have a look at the pictures online, it is indeed as lovely as it looks.

The farming practices in the 25 acre winery are both organic and biodynamic. Shauna White, Vineyard and Winery Manager, uses thermal blankets in the winter to cover the vines so that they are insulated and protected from ice and snow. This method is done instead of hilling up vines (burying them in the earth), like they do in Prince Edward County.

At the winery, the Paddock Café offers small plates of local cheeses, olives and charcuteries overlooking the 23,000 vines. It is also a wonderful photo-op beside an amazing golf course. We visited the winery 3 times in 3 days to take in the ambience and sample more wines. The Rieslings and Viognier wines were favourites with many grapes being sourced from the Niagara region.

Coincidentally, 6 years ago, I had met Shauna when I interviewed her for our Savvy Selections wine-o-month club featuring Ravine Estate Winery.  Shauna was the winemaker. Needless to say, the surprise to see her again at Adamo was a delight and made for an over the top vacation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Ooooooo Canada!

Posted by Julie

Tuesday, June 26th, 2018
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Everyone is gearing up to celebrate Canada Day.  Across the country on July 1 there will be loads of free musical concerts, fireworks, carnivals, on BBQs and outdoor events of all sizes. Those of us spending the long weekend at a cottage, on a sailboat, on a golf course or on the backyard deck, here’s my suggestions on what to drink July 1 – all-Canadian of course!

Did you know…

….that Canada’s first commercial estate winery, Vin Villa, was established on Pelee Island (the southern most wine region in Ontario) in 1866?

….that 6 provinces in Canada have their own wine regions?

…that VQA (Vintners Quality Alliance) on a bottle of Ontario or British Columbia wine means that it is the province’s “appellation of origin” system which define the grape-growing regions and set standards for the wines.

 

Let’s pop open some bottles!

The recent Vintages release at the LCBO has several suggestions for Canada Day. I was lucky to sample some & have also included my top picks of the LCBO’s General List products that you can enjoy on Canada Day…and for that matter all year round. My selection will take you from brunch to dinner with choices in between for a burst of invigoration.  Our Canadian wines and beer make us very proud!

Happy Canada Day,

Julie

 

From Nova Scotia…

Benjamin Bridge Nova 7  Sparkling 2016
(LCBO #256289)  $26.95

Aromatic and fresh with soft orchard fruit flavours, this sparkling wine with golden mousse offers lively acidity. Instead of a traditional champagne cork, the screwcap opens like a regular bottle of wine with a treat of effervescence flows into the glass. It is a perfect wine for brunch or mid-afternoon thirst quencher or to serve as an aperitif.  From quiche to seafood, it goes with everything.

 

From British Columbia….

Quail’s Gate Rose 2017
(LCBO #275842)  $19.95

If you like fresh rhubarb & strawberries, this rose wine tastes just like that!  It reminds me of the aromas & taste of the juicy ripe strawberries that have just been picked.  The problem  with this tangy & delicious wine is that it goes down too smoothly. I could sip this summertime wine all afternoon.

 

From Ontari-ari-ariooo…

These outstanding wines are always available & always reliable.

Kacaba Vineyards Unoaked Chardonnay VQA
(LCBO #326975)  $15.95

Mea culpa, I always encourage people to try something new but I confess…this is my go-to white wine. Pale in colour, loads of tropical fruit flavours, always crisp, always delivers. As I write this I am already thinking how nicely it will taste with my grilled chicken, some crusty bread and my everything salad for dinner tonight – how Canadian is that ?

 

Trius Sauvignon Blanc VQA
(LCBO #221804)  $15.95 (on sale for Canada Day weekend for $1 off)

If you are a fan of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, here is a home-grown Sauvignon Blanc that you definitely should to try. Zingy grapefruit, some lemon-lime flavours, it is crisp and light-bodied, a perfect afternoon sipper.  A great price point for this Canadian gem.

 

Featherstone Cabernet Franc VQA
(LCBO #64618)  $19.95

A few months ago I was looking for something different and an LCBO product consultant introduced this red wine to me. (Don’t ever underestimate the knowledge of LCBO consultants) I admit that I hesitated since Cabernet Franc is not a varietal I would normally seek out, however with every sip of this wine, I was NOT disappointed. Slightly floral on the nose, this is an impressive, smooth red wine with generous lively berry flavours.  Medium-bodied, this wine has enough weight to partner with grilled meat but light enough you could easily place it beside grilled salmon.

I’ve long been a fan of Featherstone wines, ever since I visited the winery along the Beamsville Bench (in Niagara) & saw sheep nibbling at the grape leaves in the vineyard.

 

The Foreign Affair Winery – The Conspiracy VQA
(LCBO #149237)  $19.95

This medium-bodied blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc is berry-rich. Made in the Ripasso style (grapes are air dried) increases volume and depth of flavour. It provides absolutely lip smacking goodness with steak or hamburgers, lamb burgers or a rack of ribs – sheer yum.

 

Heading to The County?

For those of you who are lucky to be visiting Prince Edward County on the Canada Day weekend, here’s my tips on where to go, because there are now over 40 picturesque wineries that it is next to impossible to visit them all – even during a long weekend.

Casa-Dea offers a lovely patio for lunch overlooking the vineyards with many of their wines not readily available at the LCBO.

Neighbouring winery, Rosehall Run Vineyards also has some award winners – especially their Pinot Noirs – there are always a collection of medallions hanging around the bottle’s neck.  And down the road there is the stunning country setting of The Grange Winery. This former cannery is one of the first wineries in The County. The huge barn is now a tasting room with views of a nearby stream and fields, you feel like you’ve have been transported back into pioneer days.

Finally, while idyllically meandering about The County, pop into Lighthall Vineyards in Milford & say “Hi” to a long time Savvy fan & friend – Glenn Symmons. He is the one-man-show running this winery with his top selling Progression sparkling wine made of 100% Vidal grapes.  That wine alone is worth the trip to The County just to pick up a few of those bottles. When you are down that way you, visit County Cider for a splash of something different and fill up at Fifth Town Artisan Cheese. Your taste buds will love you for it and with the wine you pick up while on tour, it will be one delicious Canada Day.

Check out our 101 Things to do in The County tips too!

 

Featured wines available at the LCBO…

 



 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Dashing through the LCBO….

Posted by Julie

Monday, December 11th, 2017
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It’s beginning to feel a lot like Christmas. Champagne, stunning gift boxes, ice wine, suggestions for “Holiday Gatherings” is what the final Vintages release of the year is all about.

There are so many awesome products in this release that I have to remind myself of my meager budget of $100 for this blog. Here is my shopping list – including some bottles to splurge on too.

And if you were able to get your hands on the LCBO’s latest Food and Drink Magazine, talk about eye candy – glossy photos with lots of great recipes for appetizers, cocktail parties and novel recipes for main courses too. Where do they get this new twists on the traditional?

For those of you who have a more robust budget than my$100 for wine shopping, I have several recommendations. There’s a new Sandeman 20-year old Tawny Port (Vintages #116178) $64.95 which was absolutely delicious.  Burrowing Owl Meritage (Vintages #343038) $58.95 is a red wine from British Columbia that will knock your expensive socks off.  The LCBO’s Wine of the Month – Joseph Phelps Cabernet Sauvignon (Vintages #189795) $119.95 is extra special and Sortilege Prestige, a 7 year old Canadian Whiskey with pure maple syrup (Vintages #317206) $49.95 is another treat.

So until next year, wishing you a wonderful holiday season full of great sips!

-Julie

 

If I only had $100, I would buy…
LCBO Vintages Release for Saturday December 9, 2017

Veuve Ambal Grande Cuvée Brut Rosé Crémant de Bourgogne

Traditional Method, AC Burgundy, France
$19.95 (Vintages #439257) 12% alcohol

An enticing pale pink that shimmers like a Christmas decoration in the glass, bubbles (fine mousse) galore dance on the palate while croissants, raspberries and little ripe strawberries arrive seductively to the taste buds. Clean and fresh, it’s a classic Crémant that returns yearly with quality and taste.

A perfect aperitif, wonderful as a party accompaniment. It’s also festive, pretty and everyone loves it.

 

Sunnybrook Signature Series Cranberry 2015

Niagara
$23.95 (Vintages #539049) 11% alcohol

Sunnybrook Farm Estate Winery is proud to use 100% locally grown fruits for their wines and this stunning nectar won double gold at the Canadian Wine Awards 2017. I was surprised to see this featured under dessert wines since I did not find it overly sweet.

Awesome cranberry colour loaded with soft cranberry fruit and on first sip I thought it would be absolutely perfect with turkey or pork as a dinner wine. A lengthy seam of acidity on the delicious finish and dare I say, I almost got some green apple. Wine Gods forgive me, but we all taste something different.

I’ll just sum it up by saying this would go through dinner to dessert (would be heaven with some blue cheese). How different is a fruit wine? and this would also make a lovely gift.

D-e-e-elicious.

 

The Tragically Hip Fully Completely Grand Reserve Red 2015

VQA Niagara Peninsula, Stoney Ridge
$24.95 (Vintages #411595) 13.5% alcohol

This red wine was a creation by band members Gord Downie, Paul Langlois, Rob Baker, Gord Sinclair, and Johnny Fay in conjunction with Stoney Ridge Estate Winery’s Head Winemaker Jeff Hundertmark. It is a class act wine.

Wonderful rich blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. On the label is an exact replication of the original artwork that appeared on the “Fully Completely” album cover that all Hip fans know so well.

Inside the bottle, deep dark delicious aromas awaits with tastes of ripe berries, some sweet spicy notes and tannin. It’s balanced and lengthy, an elegant addition for ta prime rib or steak not to mention pretty nice table bling.

Hands  down, this will make a great gift for those Gord Downie fans.

 

Aneto Red 2011

DOC Douro, Portugal
$16.95 (Vintages #314930) 14% alcohol

I learned on my trip to Portugal this year that there are more than 100 indigenous grape varietals approved for wine production in the Douro region of Portugal but five primary grapes make up most Port and table wines.

Touriga Nacional is the most prominent known for its floral aromatics, deep color, and tannin. Along with Touriga Nacional, Tinta Roriz (Spain’s Tempranillo) help to provide backbone to the wine and adds bright acidity and red fruit flavors.

Aneto, (which by the way is the name of a plant) is power-packed with ripe red and dark berries on the palate, full-bodied with lovely soft tannin and a little leather on the finish. It’s a fairly big wine with lots of punch and I plan to serve this with with ribs and Caesar salad.

 

Casteno Solanera Vinas Viejas 2015

DO Yecia, Spain
$18.95 (Vintages #276162) 14.5% alcohol

A blend of Monastrell, Cabernet Sauvignon and Grenache, aged in French and American oak. This red wine is a big, ripe, round and juicy for those of us that like a heavy duty wine. Flavours of ripe blueberries and black plums are the core backbone with a gentle seam of acidity and soft tannin. There’s a little spice alongside a subtle pinch of pepper on the finish.

This wine is not for the faint of heart so I’m suggesting to pour alongside garlic mash and grilled beef ribs – we are talking five star good.

 

Grand Total = $104.75

(So…in my last blog, I saved you $6, so splurge a little this time….besides it’s Christmas!)

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If I only had $100, I would buy….

Posted by Julie

Friday, November 24th, 2017
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With the devastating news about the forest fires in Napa & surrounding area, there has been alot of focus on California wines.  Coincidentally, premium California wines are the main feature in this release at LCBO Vintages this weekend. While most bottles were too rich for my $100 budget for this blog, I was so pleased to sample & create this shopping list with an interesting assortment of fine wines that are easy on the credit card statement. Remember that I am working on a $100 budget, yet I highly recommend that you do splurge by adding a California wine into your shopping cart.

I also found several sparkling wines and beautiful icewines, that you can pick up to stash away for the gifting season.

As always, my shopping basket for this blog is always on the look out for bottles of wine that are priced lower than they actually taste.

I hope you like my picks!

Julie

 

If I only had $100, I would buy…
LCBO Vintages Release for Saturday November 25, 2017

 

Tawse Spark Limestone Ridge Sparkling Riesling 2015

Traditional method, VQA Twenty Mile Bench, Niagara Escarpment, Ontari
$20.95 (Vintages #370361) 12% alcohol

Green apples, lemon zest, crispy brioche all meld into a delicate creamy mousse that is crisp and clean on the palate and swirls on the tongue.

Lots going on in this sparkling Riesling with a hit of flint that seems only to come from Niagara Escarpment Rieslings.  Talk about a gift from Mother Earth and speaking of gifts – this one I highly recommend.

A great match for seafood or pick up a chilled bottle and some sushi one night for supper – now that would be a treat!

 

 

Robert Oatley Signature Series Chardonnay 2016

Margaret River, Western Australia
$18.95 (Vintages #350900) 12.5% alcohol

While certainly not a new wine in LCBO Vintages, this is always an easy Chardonnay to add to my shopping list. It’s a no-brainer for those Chardonnay lovers and those firmly in the ABC (Anything But Chardonnay) crowd could easily be persuaded.

Full-boded yet crisp and refreshing for a Chardonnay with a multitude of tropical white stone fruit flavours (think white peach) on the palate and loads of tangerine citrus on the finish. Talk about a beautifully balanced white wine with just enough acidity to send you back for another sip.  And another.  And another.

A perfect wine to have with lunch for crab or lobster bisque with a puff pastry topping or chicken pot pie (for the less daring to cook).

 

Zuccardi Q Cabernet Sauvignon 2013

Mendoza, Argentina
$19.95 (Vintages #140855) 13.9% alcohol

In such warm climate, grapes can ripen to their fullest so it is not a bit of wonder the product ends up being full-bodied and rich.

Big black fruit, ripe blueberries, blackberries mingle smoothly with silky lush tannin. The mouthfeel is plush and loaded with dark berry flavours.

A lovely lengthy aftertaste sprinkled with pepper. One great Cabernet Sauvignon to serve alongside ribs or a Sunday roast.

 

 

San Felice Chianti Classico 2015

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

Predominantly Sangiovese with personality of ripe cherries and raspberries, a pinch of violet that also profiles this delicate Chianti. Medium-bodied and fruity it is a classic Chianti.

There’s some dustiness and leather whiffs on the finish, typical of wine aged in Slovonian oak casks for 10-12 months. Tannins are delicate and fresh, a wonderful wine to serve with your favourite pasta dish or a spicy lasagna.

 

 

Honoro Vera Monastrell 2015

DOP, Jumilla, Spain
$13.95 (Vintages #167684) 14.5% alcohol

DOP certification ensures that the grapes are locally grown and bottled. Dark and inky, some sweet spice aromas, bursts of ripe plums on the palate mixing cherry and mocha flavours on the lengthy finish.

Medium to full-bodied, fairly assertive tannins with a pinch of leather on the aftertaste.

You get a lot of pow for your dollar here and cannot beat the price point. This would be wonderful with a hearty stew and crusty bread.

This wine certainly grabs your attention with the cool label!

 

Grand Total = $93.75

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NEW Deck Party Packs! It’s getting HOT. It’s SUNNY. It’s ROSE wine season!

Posted by Debbie

Saturday, July 15th, 2017
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It’s time to Clink & Drink Pink! Summer is finally here & at Savvy Company HQ…that means relaxing on the deck or dock with a glass of Rosé wine in hand. And like everything we do at Savvy Company…we make it easy to have your fridge full of refreshing Rosé wines all summer long.

Introducing
Deck Party Packs

Choosing & stocking up on Rosé wines to enjoy this summer shouldn’t be a chore.  So we’ve made it absolutely EASY & HASSLE free. Our Savvy Sommeliers have done the “tough work” – we have been sipping & sampling Ontario Rosé wines since the snow melted & have picked the most refreshing Rosé wines for our Deck Party Packs.

In July & August we will deliver different Deck Party Packs – either 6 bottles or a full case of 12 bottles of dry, crisp & delicious Rosé wines that will bust any heatwave & quench your thirst.

The COOLEST part… The Rosé wines we’ll send you AREN’T on the shelves at the LCBO.

Another COOL thing… You don’t have to get out of your lawn chair to buy them – just click here to order online. Your Deck Party Pack will be delivered to you for FREE. Zippo! Nada!

 

Different wines each month! Our Deck Party Packs change every month giving you the best Rosé wines to enjoy all summer long. Here’s the Rosé wines we are featuring in July:

July Deck Party Pack – 6 bottles

Casa-Dea Estates Cabernet Franc Rosé … from Prince Edward County
Kacaba Vineyards Rebecca Rosé … from Niagara
KIN Vineyards Rosé … from Ottawa
The Good Earth Rosé … from Niagara
Vieni Estates Alleria Rosé … from Niagara
Vieni Estates Bruce Trail Sparkling Rosé … from Niagara

Price: only $105!

 

July Deck Party Pack – 12 bottles

All of the Rosé wines above PLUS:

Casa-Dea Estates Sparkling Rosé … from The County
Huff Estates Rosé … from The County
Southbrook Seriously Cool Rosé … from Niagara-on-the-Lake
Southbrook Estate Rosé … from Niagara-on-the-Lake
Vieni Estates Momenti Rosé Sparkling … from Niagara
Westcott Delphine Rosé … from Niagara

Price: all of these wines for under $225!

 

Order by Sunday July 16 & shipping is FREE. Order online & we’ll ship your Deck Party Pack for FREE to your deck, dock…or desk. Summer is short – don’t miss out>> And in August we’ll have a completely different assortment.  Click to see what our Sommelier picked & place your order for August Deck Party Pack>>

 

100% PINK Magic

Stock up by ordering just July’s Deck Party Pack OR choose to auto-magically receive July AND August’s without lifting a finger. FREE shipping to addresses in major cities in Ontario.
Fine Print: if you don’t want sparkling wines in your Deck Party Pack, let us know & we will swap them out for a non-bubbly rosé wine – no problemo! Make room in your cooler! Place your order>

HOT PINK OFFER!

Order 12 & we’ll give you $50!
Order the July Deck Party Pack – 12 bottles and we’ll give you $50 off tickets to our next Taste & Buy event.

Pair like a Pro!

What summertime dishes to serve with Rosé? Our Sommeliers are posting easy-peasy recipes EVERY DAY – until the order deadline of July 16th. Each recipe is paired with an Ontario Rosé wine. Trust me…you’ll be craving for a glass of Rosé from our Deck Party Pack when you read our tasting notes & see the pix of the dishes we paired with Rosé wines. Yum!  Click to read our Rosé Report blog & check out the cool recipes >>

 

Enjoy your summer outside with our Deck Party Pack sharing a delicious glass of Rosé with friends!
-Debbie & the Savvy Team

Savvy Company
613-SAVVYCO (728-8926)
cheers@savvycompany.ca
www.savvycompany.ca

Keep in touch with us…

@SavvyDebbie
@SavvyCompany
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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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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 LCBO Vintages

Posted by Julie

Friday, May 13th, 2016
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In the 2016 merry month of May, LCBO Vintages brings back all kinds of “Customer Favourites”. In the May 14 release, there’s a varied collection of wines from around the world that you will just LOVE!

LCBO Vintages Magazine May 14These are tried & true bestsellers that come with our Vintages customers’ seal of approval.  There are also some great new picks from New Zealand to help us give summer a push.  Believe me when I say…this is the time to go looking for new favorite wines.

I found a little trivia on the month when I was scouting on the internet. Things I did not know is that 1) May was named after the Greek goddess Maia, of fertility and 2) in any given year, no month ever begins or ends on the same day of the week as May does. How’s that for (useless) information.

But it’s a beautiful month and everything with legs is out there walking, running, cycling etc…and speaking of legs, there are some great wine picks here and some even have legs!

Cheers,
Julie

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

Saturday May , 2016

 

Dog Point Sauvignon Blanc 2015Dog Point Sauvignon Blanc 2015

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

Year after year “Dog Point” produces first class Sauvignon Blanc’s.  Pungent aromas of lemon, lime, a little ginger that follows through on the palate. It’s light to medium weight delivering great fruit flavour. There’s some grapefruit on the aftertaste that pulls it all together with a tangy white peppery finish. Clean and fresh, it never disappoints. It’s one great sipper.

 

Fielding Rosé 2015Fielding Estate Rosé 2015

VQA Niagara Peninsula
$15.95 (Vintages #53421) 12.3% alcohol 

For those of you who follow my column, you know I am a big fan of Fielding wines and this rosé is the best ever.  And so pretty in PINK, a lighter colour than other years; I really do prefer the lighter coloured rosés, they just seem to have more “class”. There’s a hint of sweetness in the off dry candy floss taste but it’s very smooth and edgey with enough acidity to make it interesting while delivering culprits of tart rhubarb and ripe strawberries.  It is a lovely rosé. I hope winemaker Richie Roberts made enough to last the summer.  There’s a case of this on my list.

 

Conundrum Red 2013Conundrum Red 2013

25th anniversary edition, California
$24.95 (Vintages #294298) 14.2% alcohol

A fabulously deep ruby red and the label on this bottle tells that the Wagner family has gone all out to celebrate. There is outstanding intensity to this big robust red. Rich ripe dark berries that are generous in flavours make it extremely palatable. Soft tannins offer good balance and a delicate mix of spice at the end make this year’s Conundrum special indeed.  With the usual food groups that demand a red wine, this is superb.

 

Zolo Reserve Malbec 2013Zolo Reserve Malbec 2013

Mendoza Fincas Patagonica, Argentina
$18.95 (Vintages# 81091) 14% alcohol 

Aged 14 months in American and French oak barrels makes this Malbec even more delicious than other years. Ripe nose of violets, blueberries and black currants, it’s dark and inky in colour.

The palate is full-bodied with fine-grained tannins , a touch of mint on the finish; it’s just begging for some rare grilled steak.

 

Ardal Crianza 2010Ardal Crianza 2010

DO Ribera del Duero
Bodegas Balbás, Spain $17.95 (Vintages #167601) 14% alcohol

A winemaker can hardly go wrong with a blend of Tempranillo and Cabernet Sauvignon grapes, certainly two of my favourite varietals. Intense dried black fruit notes, full bodied and nicely polished. There is good volume and it just flows on the palate with tannins building into a spicy bramble, peppery aftertaste.  One great choice for spicy burgers.

 

Grand Total = $101.75    

(oops, I changed coats so I am looking in my pockets for spare change)

 

 

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