Posts Tagged ‘wine shopping list for good value wines’

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

Posted by Julie

Friday, February 17th, 2017
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Diverse discoveries is the theme of this Vintages release at the LCBO. Those that peaked my interest were wines from Israel with a feature of Kosher wines for Passover (which begins April 14th ). There some great wines coming from Israel with it’s Mediterranean climate and distinct wine growing regions. In fact, the wine industry is in Israel is skyrocketing. Flipping through the photos in the Vintages catalogue, it looks like any wine region – could even be mistaken for Ontario – with picturesque vineyards, barrel rooms, goat cheese dairies, even craft breweries.

Don’t think that wines from Israel are all for ceremonial purposes – for from it. They can be enjoyed by absolutely everyone. The LCBO carries over 60 Kosher wines & over 25 Mevushal wines, yet with the upcoming Passover celebrations, the store shelves will have even a greater selection of wines from this emerging wine country. It is time to give them a try!

And now for trivia…

Did you know that the Israeli wine industry was founded by Baron Edmond James de Rothschild, owner of the Bordeaux estate Château Lafite-Rothschild, in France?

Just like the box of chocolates there’s always something new to find.

L’chayim –  (a Hebrew toast “to life”),

– Julie

 

If I only had $100, I would buy . . .
LCBO Vintages Release for Saturday February 18, 2017

 

Recanati Chardonnay KP 2014

Upper Gallilee, Israel
$24.95 (Vintages #128322) 12.5% alcohol
Kosher for Passover, Non-Mevushal

Kosher wine is produced according to Judaism’s religious law and observant Jews must supervise the entire winemaking process. The fact that this wine also states that it is Non-Mevushal means exactly that, this wine has been made in the usual standard winemaking process, respecting the Kosher methodology. All Kosher wines – no matter where they are made in around the world, will bear on the label one or more of these symbols (left)– usually on the back label. Rest assured that Kosher wine is not really that different – all the more reason to buy this wine and enjoy the delicious discovery.

The grapes in this Chardonnay were hand-picked and vinified in French oak for 9 months. Aromas of caramel custard and flavours of tropical fruit dance on the palate. Rich and full-bodied tastes of baked pears and almonds make this one delicious easy sipping Chardonnay with a lingering finish of soft fruit.

Would make a beautiful partner with a “Sedar Plate Salad”, roasted chicken or pasta with a creamy sauce.

 


13th Street Winery Cabernet/Merlot 2013

VQA Niagara Peninsula
$19.95 (Vintages #56598) 13.5% alcohol

In my humble opinion, the 13th Street Winery has to be one of the loveliest wineries in the Niagara/Jordan region. Not only is there an art gallery but a bake shop beside the winery that has butter tarts to die for! Situated in a ravine like setting surrounded by statues & art, it is easy to spend hours here.

This beautiful red wine blend has violet and red fruit aromas that embodies a mélange of red & black currants that play on the palate. Medium bodied with soft tannins, this wine has texture and weight with some cedar on the finish. It’s an easy sipper or first class dinner partner for a roast beef with all the trimmings.

 

Finca Flichman Expresiones Reserve Shiraz/Cabernet Sauvignon 2014

Mendoza, Argentina
$15.95 (Vintages # 17111) 14.5 % alcohol

Bold, rich, dark and fruity with aromas that boasts nothing but berries. This nectar spent 12 months in French oak which gives it density, character and loads of sensual dark plums even over ripe blueberry flavours. Bone-dry and a full-bodied red wine that you would expect from Argentina, there’s some mocha and tobacco in the long finish.

Mark my words, this is my style of wine. With BBQed ribs it would make me very VERY happy with a BBQed dinner.

 


Oscar’s Estate Vineyard Shiraz/Viognier 2013

Barossa Valley, South Australia
Small Gully Wines
$18.95 (Vintages #287961) 15% alcohol

Loads of personality here. Heavy duty dark black fruit hits the nose and palate with some peppery savoury notes that command attention. A medium to full-bodied red wine, weighing in at 15% alcohol is a hefty kick with loads of creamy warm flavours that satisfy the aftertaste and make you long for another sip.

Luscious and ripe, the savoury notes at the end would make it a perfect pairing partner for a rack of lamb laden with rosemary and thyme and all the trimmings. It’ a kind of “stay at home in front of the fireplace” red wine where you can enjoy the rest of the bottle after dinner – absolute delicious.

 

Gérard Bertrand Grand Terroir Les Aspres Syrah/Mourvedre/Grenache 2013

AP Côtes du Roussillon Les Aspres, France
$18.95 (Vintages # 413245) 14% alcohol

 I don’t know anyone who cannot be lured by the heady fruit aromas of a GSM blend (winespeak GSM = red wine blend made with grape varieties – Grenache, Syrah and Mouvedre). This unusual blend is gaining in popularity and it is no coincidence that I have been featuring several bottles by winemaker Gérard Bertrand. His wines never disappoint.

Medium-bodied and dry, rich berries so lush this red wines reminds me of cherry pie filling with a little mocha and sweet spice on the finish. Well-structured with soft tannins. It is so juicy. Rabbit in a mustard sauce would be a powerful accompaniment in true French gastronomy style.

 

GRAND TOTAL = $99.75

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

Posted by Julie

Friday, February 3rd, 2017
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I’m never sure how LCBO Vintages team decides the country combo to feature every 2 weeks. For example, this release highlights are 3 – European Discovery, South Africa and Valentine’s. The latter is pretty obvious because Valentine’s Day comes every year and there aren’t many gifts better than a bottle of something special.

The pages depicting the European Discovery reminds me of a Riverboat brochure I recently picked up. I’m in Lalaland dreaming about sipping fine wines on the Rhine or Rhone or Nile Rivers.

And since South Africa is another dreamy travel destination for those of us still surviving the cold weather. I sort of get it. This release reminds me that I don’t have to go on a riverboat cruise to explore new wines. Discovering these wines regions at home is a fraction of the price…although South Africa is on my Bucket List!

Happy cruising or shopping,

Cheers!
-Julie

 

 

If I only had $100, I would buy . . .
LCBO Vintages Release for Saturday February 4, 2017

 

Dirty Laundry Say Yes Pinot Gris 2014

Okanagan Valley, BC
$19.95 (Vintages #423202) 12.7% alcohol

Always love finding a wine from British Columbia at Vintages! This white wine is a soft golden apple colour with enticing aromas of white blossoms and citrus. It’s a mouthwatering Pinot Gris with citrusy tangerine-lime overtones on the long fresh finish. It would be a crowd pleaser for sure and an easy wine to always say yes – more please, one delicious winner.

This crisp & refreshing white wine would pair nicely with creamy chicken dishes or white fish.

 

Barone Montalto Collezione Di Famiglia Viognier 2015

IGT Terre Siciliane, Italy
$15.95 (Vintages #435479) 12 % alcohol

A pale straw coloured gem with outstanding aromas of baked pears, melon, apricots and almonds that follow through on the palate. This medium-bodied white wine, is rich and juicy with a fabulous seam of acidity and lemon citrus in the long refreshing finish.

It would be a great luncheon wine with a grilled cheese on artisan bread or served with a quiche with goat’s cheese or sipped just on its own. Can’t wait to get one of these wines in my shopping basket.

 

Gérard Bertrand Cotes Des Rosé 2015

AP Languduedoc, France
$18.95 (Vintages #373985) 12.5% alcohol

Without explanation the bottle alone and dreamy pale pink colour markets itself just in time for Valentine’s Day. We all know Rosé is an all year round drink, but it is always a surprise (that creates a smile) when you are offered a glass of rose wine in February. Talk about blowing away the winter blahs and thinking of spring.

Fresh, pretty, clean and lively with some red berry undertones and a little lime zest on the smooth aftertaste. It is a crisp beauty in appearance and taste that triggers a reminder that summer will be here soon enough.

 


Flagstone Dragon Tree Cabernet Sauvignon/Shiraz/Pinotage 2013

WO Western Cape, South Africa
$16.95 (Vintages # 37549) 14.5% alcohol

 Made with predominantly Cabernet Sauvignon grapes, this is a fantastic red wine blend. Warm, ruby red rich in colour that has great complexity on the nose. At first, there is smoke and savoury aromas which are surprising since black ripe berries, and raspberries explode on the palate. There is alot of backbone, full-bodied and creamy in texture.

The lingering spicey fruit on the finish is amazing and a great price point – only $16.95) for a wine that is oh-so luscious. Serve with anything grilled and meaty for a spectacular match.

 

Domain Mega Spileo Red 2010

Peloponnese, Greece
$29.95 (Vintages # 466110) 14% alcohol

This bright ruby red coloured slightly unusual red wine in terms of taste, is comprised of 60% Mavrodafne (a black wine grape from the Achaea region, northern Greece) and 40% Mavro Kalavritino (a red grape variety also native to Greece). I thought it would be fun to feature a new to Vintages release from a relatively unfamiliar region.

Loads of cherries and red berry flavours, medium-bodied, noteable tannins and this red wine blend calls loudly for food. It’s tight but interesting, I found that the wine grew on me – I always went back for another taste.

There is a little coffee and spice on the finish. There’s lots going on (often called “strucutre”) between initial flavours and a smokey aftertaste. I make Moussaka once a year, and this would be a spectacular match with my recipe!

GRAND TOTAL= $101.75

 everyone can find a spare loonie and 3 quarters 🙂 

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

Posted by Julie

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

Three interesting facts Argentina & their wine:

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

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

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

As they say in Argentina ‘Salud’,

-Julie

 

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

 

Joseph Cattin Brut Rosé Crémant D’Alsace

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

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

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

 

Colome Torrontes 2015

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

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

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

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

 

Fabre Montmayou Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon 2014 

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

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

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

 

Zuccardi Q Malbec 2013

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

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

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

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

 

Susana Balbo Signature Cabernet Sauvignon 2014

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

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

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

 

Grand Total – $ 94.75

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TOP PICKS: 7 wines for under $15

Posted by Julie

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

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

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

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

Smart Buys here we come!

-Julie

 

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

 

Marynissen Estates Chardonnay 2013

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

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

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

 

Budureasca Feteasca Regala 2015

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

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

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

 

MAN Free-Run Steen 2015

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

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

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

 

Heartland Stickleback Red 2013

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

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

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

 

Michelle Chiarol Barbera D’Asti Superiore 2014

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

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

And Mama Mia! Another wine under $15

 

The Goatfather 2014

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

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

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

 

Santa Carolina Reserva Estate Pinot Noir 2015

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

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

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

 

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

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