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Saturday, December 31, 2011

Viticcio Chianti Classico Riserva 2006, Tuscany, Italy



The sensuous nose alone tells me this should be really good, with aromas of dark berry fruit, sour cherries, plums, pepper, new leather, cedar and savoury notes. On the mouthfeel, medium bodied (alcohol at 13.5%) with rich and spicy flavours, lively acidity and very fine grain tannins.  The finish is long, bright with spicy sweet and sour flavours and fine ripe tannins. This Chianti Classico Riserva is a blend of 85% Sangiovese and 15% Merlot, and is deserving of its # 35 on Wine Spectator top 100 in 2009. A bit expensive, almost Brunello price territory here. Superb food wine, score 92 points.

This wine was purchased September 18, 2010 LCBO New Release at $34.95.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Stags' Leap Cabernet Sauvignon 2006, Napa Valley, California, USA



I enjoy the option of having a quality wine in a half size bottled (375ml) like this Stags’ Leap Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. One of the benefits of smaller bottles is that they age quicker, tannins soften sooner, which means that the wine is ready to enjoy earlier. This wine is mostly Cabernet Sauvignon grape at 93%, with Cabernet Franc at 4% and Merlot at 3% in a supporting role.  This wine opens up with  aromas of blackberry, blackcurrants, clove, dry herbs, vanilla and espresso notes. A full bodied (with alcohol at 14.1%) and robust mouthfeel yet approachable with balanced acidity and silky tannins. This Cabernet finish is long with dark fruit, roasted coffee and chocolate flavours all wrapped up in fine grained  tannins. An excellent and very enjoyable cabernet, score 91 points.

This 375ml bottle was purchased  October 30, 2010 at $27.95.        

Palacios Remondo La Montesa 2008, Rioja, Spain


The 2008 is not as approachable in its youth as the 2007 vintage was, this is a little bolder with grittier tannins. This Crianza ( In Spanish wine labelling laws means, for reds, wine aged for 2 years with at less 6 months in oak) is mostly Grenache with Tempranillo and Mazuelo rounding out this Rioja. Definitely nice aromatics here with red fruit, floral notes, vanilla, toasty oak and spices. Medium to full bodied (with alcohol at 14%) with a mouthfeel that seems a little disjointed, where flavours haven’t quite married together yet, but the acidity is fresh and tannins are a bit chalky. The finish is long, spicy, fruity with cedar woodsy tannins lingering. Like I said before, this wine will get better in a year or two in your cellar. Last year's (2007) vintage was bought at a Ontario LCBO store for $14.95 and I must have bought about 6 of them, it was so smooth. This 2008 vintage was bought in Québec for $20.05... not the value it was last year. Score 87 points.

This wine was purchased on November 27, 2011 at the SAQ for $20.05.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Mission Hill Quatrain 2006, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, Canada




A Quatrain is a poem or Stanza that is always composed of four lines. This wine is similarly composed of four grape varieties: Syrah 41%, Merlot 32%, Cabernet Franc 14% and Cabernet Sauvignon at 13%. Aged in French Oak barrels for 15 months with 45% new oak. Blackberries, black cherry, exotic spices, espresso and dried herbs on the nose. Medium to full body (alcohol at 13%), great structure, fresh acidity, dusty tannins with cherry and coffee mocha finish. A very aromatic and sophisticated wine here, I was a big fan of Mission Hill SLC Syrah 2006 and with 41% of that Syrah in this blend, no wonder Quatrain is that delicious. Score 92 points.

This wine was purchased March 19, 2011 LCBO New Release at $41.95.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Avignonesi Vino Nobile Di Montepulciano 2007, Tuscany, Italy




I rarely stray away from Italian wines when enjoying my favourite pizza from Ricardo’s Pizza here in Ottawa. Wow, what a delicate but intense bouquet on this Sangiovese based wine with aromas of red cherry, dark plum, dried figs, cedar and savoury notes. On the palate, medium bodied (with alcohol at 13.5%), lively acidity, fine tannins and rich flavours. A nice brightness on the finish with bitter cherry and plum fruit and pleasant ripe powdery tannins coding your entire mouth, just how I like them. Drinking well now or over the next 2-3 years. Score 90 points.

This wine was purchased May 14, 2011 LCBO New Release at $29.95

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Château Rochecolombe Côte du Rhône 2009, Rhône, France


Deep violet colour, this Côte Du Rhône is a blend of 60% Grenache and 40% Syrah. This wine opens up with aromas of blackberry, dark plum, black olives, spices, toasty oak and espresso notes. On the mouthfeel medium to full bodied with alcohol at 14.7 %, balanced acidity and gritty tannins. The finish is medium length with dark fruit, pepper and toasty oak notes lingering. This is one of those wine I don’t get, I don’t smell Grenache at all, it smells more like Mourvèdre to me. What I am not fond of is the mouthfeel, it’s a little to rustic and to much toasty oak characteristic for my palate. It is not a bad wine for $15.00, but this is not something I would want to revisit. Score 86 points.
  
This wine was purchased December 10, 2011 LCBO New Release at $14.95.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Pairing wines with turkey – Holiday Wines



It is often at this time of the holiday season that I am asked for suggestions on what to pair with a Christmas turkey dinner, or a few suggestions on a more expensive wine to purchase for get-togethers over the Holidays. I thought I would give you a list of suggestions both red or white which may work for you.  Some reds go well with turkey and expensive is not always the best unless they are ready to drink now (great question to ask at point of purchase).

There is always a lot of flavour happening on a Christmas dinner plate; the turkey, gravy, stuffing with dry fruit, nuts, rice, bread or citrus fruits, potatoes, vegetables, bread or biscuits and tourtière. This is without including dessert and appetizers.  My recommendations are wines (both red and white) with as little sugar as possible, low alcohol and dry.

White Wines;  My suggestions for white wines are Chablis (Chardonnay grape, from Burgundy France), Chenin Blanc, Pinot Blanc and Pinot Gris, Riesling and Sauvignon Blanc with no oak or very little oak ( you want a wine with food friendly acidity) like these;

  • Montes Classic Series Sauvignon Blanc 2010 from Chile (159954) at $12.95 13.5% Alcohol (General list wine)
  • Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc 2010 from New Zealand (35386) at $16.95 13.5% Alc.
  • Domaine De Vaugondy Dry Vouvray 2010 from France (189142) at $14.95 12.5% Alc. (Vouvray is a Chenin Blanc wine)
  • Winery of Good Hope Vinum Africa Chenin Blanc 2009 from South Africa (739995) at $14.95 13.5% Alc.
  • Château Des Charmes Old Vines Riesling 2008 from Ontario (277228) at $16.95 12% Alc. (This wine is medium dry)
  • Domaine Bernard Defaix Côte de Lechet Reserve Chablis 1er Cru 2008 from France (017541) at $34.95 13% Alc. (Chablis is made out of Chardonnay grape)
  • Inama Vin Suave Classico 2009 from Italy (949768) at $17.95 13.5% Alc.

Red Wines; What you should be looking for is a lighter wine with low tannins and alcohol, good acidity with more fruit than oak. During the holidays I usually recommend Beaujolais (Burgundy 2009 vintage), Pinot Noir, a Sangiovese based wine, Zinfandel and mature Rioja like these;

  • Duboeuf Beaujolais Brouilly 2009 from France (277228) at $16.95% 12.7% Alcohol
  • Masi Campofiorin 2007 from Italy (155051) at $17.95 13% Alc.
  • Macrostie Wildcat Mountain Vineyard Pinot Noir 2006 from California (012740) at $38.95 14.2% Alc.
  • Valiano Poggio Teo Chianti Classico 2006 from Italy (250563) at $17.95% 13.5% Alc.
  • Volpaia Chianti Classico 2008 from Italy (953828) at $21.95 13.5%
  • La Montesa Rioja 2008 from Spain (10556993) at $20.05 13.5% Alc. (This wine is available at the SAQ in Quebec)
  • Ramon Bilbao Gran Reserva 2004 from Spain (244715) at $29.95 13.5% Alc. (Reviewed on this blog Dec 19)
  • Château Ségur de Cabanac 2004 from France (243287) at $39.95 13% Alc. (For those who would prefer a full bodied Bordeaux ready to drink and reviewed on this blog Dec 12)
  • Elderton Ode to Lorraine Cabernet Sauvignon/Shiraz/Merlot 2008 from Australia (976423) at $39.95. 14.5% (Also reviewed on this blog on October 13)
Have fun and remember to ask the product consultant at your local wine shop what your looking for.  Trust your tastes and enjoy.  Happy Holidays.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Ramon Bilbao Gran Reserva 2004, Rioja, Spain



Until this year, I had never enjoyed any of Ramon Bilbao wines. After trying their Tempranillo Edition Limitada 2007 I thought I would taste their Gran Reserva 2004. This wine has a complex  sensuous bouquet of wild berries, stewed fruit, Asian spices, cedar and leather. On the palate this wine is medium to full bodied (with alcohol at 13.5%) with elegant smooth texture, fresh acidity and silky tannins. This Gran Reserva finish is very smooth, spicy and savoury. This wine is a blend of 90% Tempranillo, 5% Graciano and 5% Grenache, aged 30 months in American oak casks. Once bottled it is further aged 36 months at the vineyards underground facility before release. This is a very aromatic and elegant, mature and sophisticated wine, ready to enjoy on it's own or pretty much any food. I paired this wine with roast chicken with a bacon and mushroom sauce and it was just perfect. Would definitely make a nice Christmas gift. Strongly recommended. Score 91 Points.  

This wine was purchased December 10, 2011 LCBO New Release at $29.95.

Kilikanoon Parable Shiraz 2007, McLaren Vale, Australia


Here is a rich and well structured Shiraz with very intense aromas of black fruit, raisin, pepper, menthol and toasty oak. The mouthfeel of this full bodied wine is powerful and rich, almost creamy due to the ripe and rich fruit, roasted coffee and toasty oak flavours, fresh acidity, grainy tannins and alcohol coming in at 14.5%. Maturation took place in French and American oak for 24 months. Long, spicy and sweet concentrated finish. A big wine for sure, with generous fruit and oak flavours without excess or jammyness. Strongly recommended for lovers of this style. Score 92 Points.  

This wine was purchased November 12, 2011 LCBO New Release at $39.95.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Finca El Origen Gran Reserva Malbec 2009, Uco Valley, Mendoza, Argentina



Unfortunately this wine's bottle is just as heavy as last year's vintage but thankfully the Malbec inside is just as delicious. This wine opens up with aromas of bing cherry, ripe blackberry, dark plums, cassis, mocha, vanilla and violet notes. Medium to full bodied, alcohol is high at 14.9% but it doesn’t overwhelm the palate as there is plenty of ripe fruit and spices, balanced acidity with ripe and robust tannins. The finish is long, spicy and mocha flavours lingering. This wine is mostly Malbec at 96% the remaining is 4% Cabernet Sauvignon, ageing took place in French oak for 15 months. Very enjoyable. Score 88 points.
 
This wine was purchased December 10, 2011 LCBO New Release at $19.95.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Churton Pinot Noir 2008, Waihopai Valley, Marlborough, New Zealand


This wine comes across at halfway between the style of a California Pinot and a Burgundy Pinot with the aromas of wild berry fruit, plum jam, clove, cinnamon stick, soft leather and attractive earthy notes. This medium to full bodied Pinot has a velvety smooth mouthfeel with Pinot characteristics good acidity and grainy tannins. The finish is long, smoky, slightly hot (alcohol at 14%) with ultra ripe fruit flavour. Not an elegant Pinot for sure, but very smooth and enjoyable. Score 88 points.

This wine was purchased September 17, 2011 LCBO New Release at $36.95.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Valiano Poggio Teo Chianti Classico 2006, Tuscany, Italy


This superb single vineyard Chianti Classico (100% Sangiovese grape) has got it all, a beautiful brilliant ruby color and a nose that is very Sangievese with aromas of cherry, plum, tobacco, leather and sweet toasty oak. The mouthfeel is well balanced by good fruit and oak structure, silky tannins and a lovely seam of acidity. A very nice long smooth texture and silky finish with a slight sour notes lingering. This is a very well made wine, well priced and very traditional style of Chianti Classico, strongly recommended. Score 90 points.

This wine was purchased November 26, 2011 LCBO New Release at $17.95

Château Ségur de Cabanac 2004, AC Saint-Estèphe, Cru Bourgeois, France




Again, another wine from Saint-Estèphe which has blown me away. Such rich and masculine aromatics of black fruit, blackcurrants, roasted coffee beans, soft leather, cloves, cedar wood and minerals notes. On the palate this blend has firm texture and tannins but not overbearing with good acidity. Medium length on the finish with layered dark fruit wrap with grainy tannins. The Château Ségur de Cabanac 2004 is a blend of  Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Frans and Petit Verdot with alcohol coming in at 13%. Here is a wine with lots of class, elegance and finesse, drinking well right now but with enough "stuffing" and tannins to evolve over the next 3-4 years. Awesome wine and strongly recommended. Score 92 points.

This wine was purchased December 10, 2011 LCBO New Release at $39.95.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Cicchitti Edicion Limitada Malbec 2008, Mendoza, Argentina



Lots of sugar diamonds on this synthetic cork. Pretty nice aromatics of cherry, dark plums, ripe berry jam, vanilla, smoky and savoury. The palate is smooth with luscious fruit, fresh acidity and soft tannins. The finish is medium length, velvety and slightly sweet. What this wine lacks in finesse is made up in sheer fruit power. The wine is marketed as extra-dry, I think its more closer to medium. I think most people will like this wine's easy drinking and crowd pleasing style. Be careful as you get closer to the bottom of the bottle, this Malbec had tons of sediments. I cannot remember the last time I saw so much sediment. Score 88 Points

This wine was purchased December 10, 2011 LCBO New Release at $23.95

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Paul's Picks from the LCBO New Release of December 10, 2011 - Argentina Malbec and Christmas Gift Ideas

Hello to all my wine friends,

Just a little over two weeks before Christmas, a bit frightening. Time is going way to fast. After going through this “Holiday Cheer” New Release, apart from my two feature segments below, (Argentina Malbec and Christmas Gift Ideas) here are a few other wines that caught my attention. I did try Mission Hill Oculus 2007 (009316) at $70.00 at the Vancouver Wine Show last April and have two in my cellar, James Suckling formally of Wine Spectator gave it 95 points last winter, the highest ever for a Canadian Wine. Additionally as a fan of Merlot, Clos Du Val Merlot 2008 from California (065730) at $27.95 a big Napa Valley Merlot at a good price. This bold and funky blend (Syrah, Grenache, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cinsault and Viognier), The Chocolate Block 2009 from South Africa (129353) at $39.95 would make a great conversation wine over the Holidays. And from here in Ontario, Château Des Charmes Old Vines Riesling 2008 (277228) at $16.95, a winner of the best White Wine of the year at the Ontario Wine Awards and Gold medal at the Canadian Wine Awards. Well let’s get started.

Argentina Malbec; On occasion, I choose a bottle to open based on what type of grape I want to enjoy. Malbec is one of those grapes I look for, which reminds me, I have only one left in my cellar. This New Release has four to five of those wines which are worth considering, and it is time to restock. The last two are Malbec blends;
  • Cicchitti Edicion Limitada Malbec 2008 (260893) at $23.95. I have reviewed there Gran Reserva Malbec 2004 on my blog last July, this winery producers big, bold and age worthy Malbec. I have read great reviews for this wine.
  • Finca El Origen Gran Reserva Malbec 2009 (065425) at $19.95. This wine is mostly Malbec at 96% with 4% Cabernet Sauvignon added, wine is aged in French oak for 13 months. The 2008 vintage of this wine, release in Ontario last May 2010 was superb and on Decanter Magazine top Malbec list. Lets hope that the bottle is not as heavy as last year.
  • Vina Cobos Felino Malbec 2009 (118067) at $19.95 This wine is dry compare to the last two which were extra dry, for people who prefer there Malbec a bit sweeter.
  • Benmarco Expresivo 2008 (263517) at $36.95 This is a blend of 50% Malbec, 20% Syrah, 15% Cabernet Sauvignon and the remaining 15% Tannat and Petit Verdot in a supporting role. A big bold and intense blend with lots of oak
  • Clos De Los Siete 2008 (622571) at $21.95 This is a blend of 56% Malbec, 21% Merlot and 11% Syrah, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon and 2% Petit Verdot. This is the seventh vintage of this wine, as become a bit commercial over the last few years but this is still a very complex wine and at great value.

Christmas Gift Ideas; Any one of these wines would make a great gift for anyone who enjoys good wine. Here are five wines at different price points to consider. Starting with the most expensive one of them;
  • Château Montelena Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 from California (709881) at $134.95 Way out of my budget, but definitely the best wine on this release, from the very good 2007 California vintage. A great gift for someone cellar.
  • Beringer Napa Valley Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon 2006 from California (091058) at $39.95 A very nice gift for that special someone who enjoy big Napa Cab from this solid performer that is Beringer.
  • Château Ségur de Cabanac 2004 from France (243287) at $39.95 It wouldn’t be a serious Christmas list without a Bordeaux wine, love the aromatics from wines of St-Estèphe and ready to enjoy now or cellar short term.
  • Ramon Bilbao Gran Reserva 2004 from Spain (244715) at $29.95 For fans of Spanish wines, another wine ready to drink or cellar medium term, blend of 90% Tempranillo, 5% Graciano and 5% Grenache and aged in American oak for 30 months.
  • Markus Molitor Ürziger Würzgarten Riesling Spätlese 2008 from Germany (249706) at $24.95 From the best white grape on the planet, this medium-dry, light alcohol (7.5%) Riesling would make a great gift to about anyone who enjoy a sweeter white wine. Expect lots of flavours, complexity with some minerality.

My top three wines of this release;
1-Château Montelena Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 from California (709881) at $134.95 Cellar Candidate
2-Alion 2007 from Spain (199331) at $78.95 Cellar Candidate
3-Markus Molitor Ürziger Würzgarten Riesling Spätlese 2008 from Germany (249706) at $24.95

My top three wines for value;
1-Château Des Charmes Old Vines Riesling 2008 from Ontario (277228) at $16.95
2-Argiolas Costera 2009 from Italy (099028) at $17.95
3-Château Rochecolombe Côte du Rhône 2009 from France (255034) at $14.95

These wines did not make my shopping list but are worth considering;

Red Wines;
1-Mission Hill Oculus 2007 from British Columbia (009316) at $70.00 Cellar Candidate
2-Château Montelena Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 from California (709881) at $134.95 Cellar Candidate
3-Duckhorn Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 from California (024190) at $74.95 Cellar Candidate
4-Macrostie Wildcat Mountain Vineyard Pinot Noir 2006 from California (012740) at $38.95
5-Benmarco Expresivo 2008 from Argentina (263517) at $36.95
6-Clos De Los Siete 2008 from Argentina (622571) at $21.95
7-Vina Cobos Felino Malbec 2009 from Argentina (118067) at $19.95
8-Casa Lapostolle Cuvée Alexandre Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 from Chile (947929) at $24.95
9-The Chocolate Block 2009 from South Africa (129353) at $39.95
10-Château Rochecolombe Côte du Rhône 2009 from France (255034) at $14.95
11-Pierre Amadieu Domaine Grand Romane Cuvée Prestige Gigondas 2009 from France (968693) at $27.95 Cellar Candidate
12-Tenuta Sette Ponti Grognolo 2008 from Italy (727636) at $33.95 Cellar Candidate
13-Alion 2007 from Spain (199331) at $78.95 Cellar Candidate

White Wines;
1-Château Des Charmes Old Vines Riesling 2008 from Ontario (277228) at $16.95
2-Astrolabe Voyage Sauvignon Blanc 2010 from New Zealand (010421) at $21.95
3-Domaine De Vaugondy Dry Vouvray 2010 from France (189142) at $14.95

Champagne & Sparkling Wines;
1-Charles Heidsieck Brut Réserve Champagne from France (036962) at $54.95
2-R. Dumont & Fils Brut Champagne 2004 from France (246702) at $54.95
3-Roederer Estate Brut Sparkling from California (294181) at $28.95

That is it for me. Please accept my best wishes and may you all have a wonderful Christmas, a safe healthy Holiday Season and may your stockings overflow with your favourite Vino. My team and I will be back next year for the next New Release January 7, 2012.

Cheers
Paul YWG

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Canonica A. Cerreto Chianti Classico Riserva 2007, Tuscany, Italy


Navigating a restaurant's wine list can be a challenge, especially when most of the wine names are not familiar to you. There may be numerous wines on restaurant's wine list which are available through consignment only or wine agency and not available in your local wine stores. Which is why I like to review some of these wines, since generally, few reviews are available for these wines.

This past weekend we headed out for dinner at Bottega Pizzeria on rue St-Zotique in Montréal, Québec, the wine list, an all Italian wine selection (love it) with about 60 different choices from all over Italy, including a selection of rare native Italian grapes. I selected Canonica A. Cerreto Chianti Classico Riserva 2007 to enjoy with our Pizza. This wine is a blend of 85% Sangiovese, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon and 5% Merlot, aged 18 months in French oak. Talk about beautiful sensuous aromatics here with cherry, raspberry, blackberry jam, violets, cedar and savoury aromas. On the mouthfeel, medium to full bodied with 14% Alcohol with generous burst of flavour, soft textured tannins and lively acidity. The wine finish is long with lots of savoury flavours, jammy fruit and fine grained tannins. Superb aromatics, great structure and balance, awesome wine, really enjoyable. Score 90 Points.
  
Now lets talk about this restaurant, started with a salad first, then our Pizza La Capricciosa (tomatoes, prosciutto, olives, artichokes, mushrooms and fresh Fior di Latte mozzarella) and a pecan tart with hazelnut gelato for dessert. Everything was so good, so fresh and I love the thin crust with crispy outside and soft inside and the dessert was to die for. The service was impeccable, food is well priced with a really good wine list. Great experience, I cannot wait to go back, strongly recommended.


The restaurant price for this wine is $60.00


Update May 27, 2012

This Chianti Classico became available here in Ontario through the LCBO New Release of April 28, 2012. I have so far enjoyed two of three bottles purchased and found both of them to be as enjoyable as when I wrote the review last December. When I think of Chianti Classico, this is the style I enjoy, more traditional, with sweet and sour fruit, good acidity and food friendly.

Now for the price, not having enjoyed this wine before, I calculated the purchase price (who doesn’t do this) at $25.00, with a restaurant price at $60.00, which would have been 2 1/2 time the purchase price, which is average.  Since this wine wasn’t available at the SAQ in Québec, Bottega Pizzeria would have bought this wine through consignment and most likely at an even better price for restaurants, around $15 or $16. This makes the markup around four times the original price, which is excessive. But if you are living in Ontario and think of buying Canonica A. Cerreto Chianti Classico Riserva 2007, at $17.00 this wine is a great value. Cheers

Monday, December 5, 2011

Umberto Cesari Yemula 2008, Emilia-Romagna, Italy


 
I had enjoyed the Umberto Cesari Liano, a blend of 70/30 Sangiovese - Cabernet Sauvignon and I was curious to taste their Yemula blend of 70/30 Sangiovese-Merlot. My guess, I thought, the Merlot would grow better in the Emilia-Romagna region then the Cabernet Sauvignon and that the wine would be fresher, smoother with less use of oak.
On the nose there was an unpleasant smell of medicinal note, sour cherry, red berries and vanilla. The mouthfeel was a little thin on fruit with high acid and soft tannins. The finish is tart and thankfully short. If you compare the two wines, the Liano is definitely much much better. But at $27.50 for the Umberto Cesari Yemula 2008 the value is inadequate. Very disappointing.

This wine was purchase on November 27, 2011 at the SAQ for $27.50  

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Vecchia Cantina Vino Nobile Di Montepulciano 2007, Tuscany, Italy


What great aromatics on this Vino Nobile Di Montepulciano with aromas of cherry, blackcurrants, leather, earthy and savoury notes. The palate has loads of energy and length with lively acidity and firm tannins. This wine finishes with long red fruit and savoury flavours and fine grained tannins. I am a strong believer that Vino Nobile Di Montepulciano wines are where you find the best value from Tuscany. An awesome wine, superb aromatics (very important for me) and need I say, strongly recommended.

This wine was purchased July 9, 2011 LCBO New Release at $18.95

Thursday, December 1, 2011

My top three enjoyed wines for November 2011

A fine group of wines were enjoyed and reviewed this month, with only one disappointment. This was a very good month for European wines, all of them were very enjoyable and represented well the region which they came from. I opened a little more white wine then usual, and really enjoyed Marc Brédif Vouvray 2009. Also an honorable mention to Umberto Cesari Liano 2008 and E. Guigal Gigondas 2007. This month was definitely a great month for French wines. Here are the three wines that made the final cut.

 My top three enjoyed wines in November;

1-Shafer Merlot 2007, Napa Valley, California, USA
http://paulnjoywine.blogspot.com/2011/11/shafer-merlot-2007-napa-valley.html

There was no contest for this number 1 spot as this wine had it all. You know comfort food? This was a comfort wine for me. A rich full bodied Merlot with lots of everything but no excess. Gorgeous wine

2-La Rioja Alta S.A. Grand Reserva 904 Cosecha 1998, Rioja, Spain
http://paulnjoywine.blogspot.com/2011/11/la-rioja-alta-sa-grand-reserva-904.html

You could not find a wine of more contrast, compared to my number 1 spot. This Grand Reserva has such beautiful aromatics, very elegant and very smooth. A great souvenir from my summer vacation.

3-Domaine Grand Veneur Clos de Sixte Lirac 2009, Rhône, France
http://paulnjoywine.blogspot.com/2011/11/domaine-grand-veneur-clos-de-sixte.html

There was many wines that could have earned this spot, but none more deserving then le Domaine Grand Veneur Clos de Sixte Lirac 2009. A wine with lots of energy, character and length and at $24.00 a great value.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

St. Urbans Hof Riesling Kabinett 2009, Qmp, Ockfener Bockstein, Mosel, Germany


From the very good 2009 Mosel vintage, this medium-dry Riesling Kabinett offers suttle aromas of peach, lime, green apple, wet stone and intense minerality. Slightly sweet and creamy on the mouthfeel but well balanced by racy acidity and low alcohol at 8%. Long creamy finish with interesting tension between tree fruit and minerals. Another elegant and very classy German Kabinett and definitely worthy of its place at number 57 on Wine Spectator top 100 Wines of 2010.

This wine was purchased September 3, 2011 LCBO New Release at $ 21.95.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Delas Frères Saint-Esprit Côtes du Rhône 2009, Rhône, France



This 2009 Côtes du Rhône from Delas Frères is a blend of mostly Syrah at 70% with 20% Grenache with Carignan and Mourvedre providing a supporting role. A beautiful deep violet colour and a nose that definitely tells me that this wine is from the Rhône region with raspberry, black fruit, licorice, black pepper and meaty aromas. Medium to full bodied with 13.5% alcohol, rich and concentrated flavours on the mouthfeel with balanced acidity and aggressive tannins. Lots of power on the finish with licorice, blackberry, spicy flavours and loads of tannins. This is one of those wines which would benefit from 1-2 years in your cellar. There is a lot of depth in this wine; you just need to be patient before fully enjoying this wine.
This wine was purchased November 12, 2011 LCBO New Release at $15.95.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Domaine De La Tour Monts-Mains Chablis 1er Cru 2008, Burgundy, France


This wine's elegance and sophistication is a perfect example why Chablis is one of my favourite white wines.  This Chardonnay opens with aromas of pear, citrus, dried apple, hazelnut and fresh baked bread. The mouthfeel is smooth, creamy and buttery with fine acidity. This Chablis medium length finish is clean with ripe pears and hazelnut flavours lingering. I prefer my Chablis with a little more minerality, but that being said, this was a superb wine.     

This wine was purchased March 5, 2011 LCBO New Release at $29.95.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Paul's Picks from the LCBO New Release of November 26, 2011 - Smart Buys for Holiday Entertainm​ent and La crème de la crème

Hello to all my wine friends,

While going through this massive Holiday New Release (NR) with its 133 new products and 38 of them over $50.00, I saw a great deal of choice in good to very good wines at the high end and many good value wines between $15 to $20. Unfortunately a category which you would think would be well represented at this time of the year, the $25 to $35 range is lacking excitement and choice compared with the last NR. A NR where wines like Ruffino Modus 2007 and E. Guigal Gigondas 2007 (to name a few) were available, for a short time, and have since sold out. In addition to my two feature segment, here are a few other wines that caught my attention. I keep hearing about the quality of Port made in Australia , Grant Burge 10 Year Old Tawny (058388) at $30.95 would make an interesting choice in a Port Tasting. As a Merlot fan, Stag's Leap Merlot 2007 (655399) at $44.95 a full body Merlot from Napa Valley. From Wine Access 2011 Canadian Wine Awards, this silver medal winner Burrowing Owl Meritage 2008 from British Columbia (695148) at $59.95 (which is $15.00 more than the BC price). Looking for a good Brunello? How about Silvio Nardi Brunello Di Montalcino 2005 from Italy (922054) at $41.95 from a very good producer and ready now or cellar mid-term and finally two German Riesling Spätlese; one from Dr. Herman (181917) at $21.95 and the other from Kurt Darting (963207) at $19.95 are worth considering. Well let's get started.

Smart Buys for Holiday Entertainment; With all the Holiday entertaining, parties and get together, here are four wines which are meant to be enjoyed with appetizers, finger foods and won't break the bank. With one added note of caution, a wine which I would have added to this list but has received poor reviews compared to the last two good vintages, Ben Marco Malbec 2009, which is unfortunate. Now here are four wines to consider;
  • Palacio De Sada Crianza 2006 from Spain (246736) at $14.95 From the lesser know Spanish region of Navarra and a blend of 90% Grenache with Tempranillo and Cabernet Sauvignon. Not a wine for sipping, needs food.
  • Valiano Poggio Teo Chianti Classico 2006 from Italy (250563) at $17.95 Chianti Classico's are often a great wine with cheese and appetizers.
  • La Ferme du Mont Le Ponnant Côte du Rhône-Villages 2009 from France (171371) at $17.95 Here is one of the first Côte du Rhône and Côte du Rhône-Village from the highly rated 2009 Rhône vintage to appear in our stores. These are youthful, spicy wines, usually blends of Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre.
  • Lungarotti Rubesco Sangiovese & Canaiolo 2007 from Italy (247817) at $17.95 From the central Italian region of Umbria, a blend of native grapes Sangiovese & Canaiolo.

La crème de la crème; With twenty-one products over $90.00, there are plenty of options for people looking to splurge or looking for a special Holiday gift. Some might be thinking, who buys these wines? About the same time last year, I went to LCBO Ottawa flagship store at King Edward and Rideau on Saturday NR morning. Many customers where filing there carts with Sassicaia and expensive California Cabernet Sauvignon, some buying them by the case. If I had a unlimited budget, here are five wines which would end up in my cart (and no not necessarily the most expensive);
  • Dunn Vineyards Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 from California (193763) at $96.95 from the very good 2007 Napa Valley vintage.
  • Château de Beaucastel Châteauneuf-du-Pape 2009 from France (711317) at $89.95. From the highly rated 2009 Rhône vintage, its should age nicely over the next 10-15 years.
  • Château Pontet-Canet 2008 from France (137323) at $129.00. This is a Château with an excellent track record over the 5-6 years of making wines much better than there 5e Cru Status. From all account, one of the better wines from the challenging 2008 Bordeaux vintage.
  • Henschke Mount Edelstone Vineyard Shiraz 2005 from Australia (718601) at $99.95. A big Aussie Shiraz from Keyneston, a sub-district of Eden Valley.
  • Sassicaia 2008 from Italy (480533) at $186.95. This iconic wine from Tenuta San Guido in Bolgheri, Tuscany, blend of 85% Cabernet Sauvignon and 15% Cabernet Franc, aged 24 months in French Oak. Fans of this wine will have to spend $37.00 more this year compared to last November 27 Release of the 2007 which was $149.95.

My top three wines of this release;
1-Dunn Vineyards Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 from California (193763) at $96.95
2-Château de Beaucastel Châteauneuf-du-Pape 2009 from France (711317) at $89.95
3-Sassicaia 2008 from Italy (480533) at $186.95

My top three wines for value;
1-La Ferme du Mont Le Ponnant Côte du Rhône-Villages 2009 from France (171371) at $17.95
2-Valiano Poggio Teo Chianti Classico 2006 from Italy (250563) at $17.95
3-Palacio De Sada Crianza 2006 from Spain (246736) at $14.95

These wines did not make my shopping list but are worth considering;
Red Wines;
1-Burrowing Owl Meritage 2008 from British Columbia (695148) at $59.95
2-Dunn Vineyards Howell Moutain Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 from California (193763) at $96.95
3-Jonata El Alma De Jonata 2007 from California (218925) at $143.95
4-Peter Michael L'Esprit Des Pavots 2006 from California (154732) at $144.95
5-Philip Togni Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 from California (031351) at $123.95
6-Stags' Leap Winery Merlot 2007 from California (655399) at $44.95
7-Barossa Valley Estate E&E Black Pepper Shiraz 2005 from Australia (731620) at $89.95
8-Henschke Mount Edelstone Vineyard Shiraz 2005 from Australia (718601) at $99.95
9-Château Pontet-Canet 2008 from France (137323) at $129.00
10-Château Tour Saint Fort 2003 from France (244061) at $32.95
11-Château de Beaucastel Châteauneuf-du-Pape 2009 from France (711317) at $89.95
12-Geografico Montegiachi Chianti Classico Riserva 2007 (962142) at $23.95
13-Sassicaia 2008 from Italy (480533) at $186.95
14-Silvio Nardi Brunello Di Montalcino 2005 from Italy (922054) at $41.95
15-Lungarotti Rubesco Sangiovese & Canaiolo 2007 from Italy (247817) at $17.95
16-Miguel Torres Mas La Plana Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 from Spain (129676) at $46.95
17-Pesquera Tinto Reserva 2007 from Spain (323345) at $41.95

White Wines;
1-Momo Pinot Gris 2010 from New Zealand (163535) at $18.95
2-Amani Chardonnay 2009 from South Africa (687442) at $17.95
3-Dr. Herman Erdner Treppchen Riesling Spätlese 2006 from Germany (181917) at $21.95
4-Kurt Darting Riesling Spätlese 2008 from Germany (963207) at $19.95

My team and I will be back for the last New Release before Christmas on December 10, 2011, where the main Features are "Fine wines for relaxed holiday gathering" and "Fabulous, festive fizz" see you then.

Cheers
Paul YWG

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

E. Guigal Gigondas 2007, Rhône, France



From the superb 2007 Rhône vintage, this Gigondas from the very reliable E. Guigal is a blend of 65% Grenache, 25% Mourvedre and 10% Syrah. Very intense aromatics with sour cherry, blackberry, dark plums, smoke meat, clove and licorice aromas. Full bodied and generous mouthfeel with loads of flavours and concentrated fruit, balance acidity and ripe silky tannins. This Gigondas finish is long, smooth, rich with ripe berry fruit and garrigue flavours. This wine could be cellared for 10-15 years but has great structure and a very rich mouthfeel, drinking beautifully right now, so why wait?   Strongly recommended.

This wine was purchased November 12, 2011 LCBO New Release at $29.95.

Monday, November 21, 2011

La Rioja Alta S.A. Grand Reserva 904 Cosecha 1998, Rioja, Spain

 

There is something sensuous about the aromas of this mature Grand Reserva, with its sour-edge berries and plums nose, prune, dried fig, vanilla, church wood, a bit of earthy funk and baking spices. On the mouthfeel a light to medium body (12.5% alcohol), light tannins, smooth texture and fresh acidity. It is medium length on the finish with flavours of plums and baking spices all wrapped up with dusty tannins. The exact blend of this Rioja is 90% Tempranillo and 10% Graciano. This is a very good example of a traditional style Grand Reserva with its great aromatics, it is elegance where all elements of this wine are well integrated. This wine is ready for center stage and is drinking at its peak right now, no need to wait any longer.  Strongly recommended for fans of this style.

This wine was purchased August 2011 in Barcelona, Spain

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Shafer Merlot 2007, Napa Valley, California, USA



If you want to experience the best of California, without paying $100 for a Cabernet Sauvignon, try Merlot for half the price. Shafer certainly knows how the make a nice Merlot. Shafer included 15% Cabernet Sauvignon to this Merlot which makes this wine a very elegant, finely textured, fruit driven and very aromatic with aromas of ripe dark plum, blackberry, chocolate, vanilla and cedar forest. On the palate this full body Merlot (with alcohol coming in at 14.9%) achieves an  excellent balance with surprisingly fresh acidity for a Napa wine, loads of flavours and fined grained tannins which makes the alcohol only slightly noticeable. The finish is long with rich and savoury flavours and all wrapped up in fine ripe tannins. A robust Merlot, yet approachable, an awesome wine.

This wine was purchased October 2, 2010 LCBO   New Release at $54.95.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Santa Carolina Reserva De Familia Cabernet Sauvignon 2009, Maipo Valley, Chile




I have enjoyed the last several vintage of this Santa Carolina Cabernet and the 2009 vintage is the best I have had so far. Although not a very deep colour for a Cabernet, it is more like a medium ruby with aromas of dark plum, black cherry blueberry, spice oak and vanilla. The palate has loads of flavours, spiciness, with lively acidity, grippy tannins and noticeable heat from the 14.5% alcohol. Good length on the finish with robust texture and mild tannins. This year the bottle is 35% lighter than the past, a commendation to be awarded for sure. Awesome Cabernet Sauvignon for $18, great value and strongly recommended. 

This wine was purchased November 12, 2011 LCBO New Release at $17.95.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Tawse Sketches Riesling 2010, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada


This wine opens up with very lively aromas of pear, green apple, grapefruit and minerals. On the palate this off-dry Riesling is medium body with alcohol coming in at 10% and where the crisp acidity and sweetness are perfectly match. The finish is long with lemon zest and mineral note lingering. A terrific and well balanced refreshing Riesling. I paired this wine chicken curry and roasted cashews, it work beautifully.

This wine was purchased October 29, 2011 LCBO New Release at $17.95.

Frei Brothers Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2008, Alexander Valley, Sonoma County, California, USA



A more cool climate Cabernet than a warmer one, with aromas of blackberry, dark plum, tobacco leaf and vanilla. On the mouthfeel, even with alcohol at 14.2%, it feels more like medium body to me with gentle tannins and balance acidity. Medium length on the finish with flavours of red fruit, earthy notes and mild tannins. A youthful and uncomplicated Cabernet Sauvignon. This wine is actually a blend of 80% Cabernet Sauvignon, 14% Merlot and remaining Petit Sirah and Petit Verdot.

This wine was purchased October 29, 2011 LCBO New Release at $23.95

Monday, November 14, 2011

Pazzo Call Me Crazy Proprietary Red 2007, Napa Valley, California, USA




A funky blend of 74% Sangiovese, 8% Syrah, 6% Cabernet Sauvignon, 6% Petit Syrah and 6% Viognier with a funky orange label and synthetic cork to match. All wines were aged in new and older French Oak barrels for 21 months, alcohol comes in at 16%. I have really enjoyed this wine the last three or four vintages, but had a hard time to warm up to this 2007 vintage. Call me crazy, but I did find it much sweeter than usual, unless my palate is moving on to dryer wines. This blend aromatics was pretty complex with aromas of dark plums, stewed rhubarb, savoury herbs, blackberry jam and violets. Full bodied mouthfeel, jammy characteristics, low acidity and smooth tannins. The finish is long, savoury with luscious fruit, much better on the nose then mouthfeel. I would have prefered a little more structure, tannins and acidity and a little less fruity characteristic and alcohol.

This wine was purchased October 15, 2011 LCBO New Release at $31.95.

Benziger Family Cabernet Sauvignon 2007, Sonoma County, California, USA


Deep violet in colour with aromas of blackberry, dark cherry, vanilla, cassis, leather and smoky. This Cabernet is very dry, full body with alcohol coming in at 14.5%, concentrated flavours, fine acidity and firm tannins.  The finish is long with flavours of black cherry, cassis and puckering tannins. Enjoyable now if you don’t mind the tannins but, lacking finesse right now. It should be much better after shedding some of its oak, demands two to three years in the cellar.

This wine was purchased October 29, 2011 LCBO New Release at $29.95.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Paul Picks from the LCBO New Release of November 12, 2011 - Exciting French Reds and a Solid Italian Selection

Hello to all my wine friends,
This is the first of three massive Holiday LCBO New Release (NR) with 140 new products and 29 of them over $50.00. This is the time of the year where premium wines are sold, either as gift giving, for Holiday entertainment or simply to stock up your cellar. Apart from many great French and Italian wines here, there are a few other wines that catch my attention; From Australia, Kilikanoon Parable Shiraz 2007 (059824) at $39.95 I have never tried this wine before but love this winery and their Shiraz came highly recommended. For Napa Valley Cabernet fans, the Rubicon Estate Cask Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 (029553) availabe at $74.95, 750ml or in a half bottle at $39.95. If you are looking for a smart buy for entertaining, try the Santa Carolina Reserva De Familia Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 from Chile (000612) at $17.95 I have been enjoying this wine for the last 4-5 vintage, always a fantastic value and this year 35% lighter bottle than the past. They need to be commended for this. Finally from BC, Mission Hill Quatrain 2008 (218636) at $41.95, a blend of Merlot, Syrah, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon. Last winter the LCBO released the 2006 vintage, now the 2008 vintage is being released, although not yet offered in BC, not even at there flagship stores (Artisan Wine Shop) where the price in BC will be $45.00. Well let’s get started.

Exciting French Reds; When I prepare to write this newsletter for you, I go through the entire NR book and write down every wine which appeals to me, regardless of the price. From this NR, 31 wines made it into my list and of those 11 from France. Now here are my top four;
  • Le Vieux Donjon Châteauneuf-du-Pape 2009 (700922) at $57.95 From Wine Spectator November 30, 2011 France’s Rhône Valley issue, le Vieux Donjon is one of there Top wines at 93 points and listed price in US dollars is $66.00 but in this market at $57.95 it is a great value for a wine of this quality.
  • Château le Caillou 1998 from Pomerol in Bordeaux (045685) at $49.95 this is a great opportunity to experience a mature wine, not a great deal of fruit left at this point, more secondary aromas like earthy, leather etc, and ready to drink.
  • E. Guigal Gigondas 2007 (331900) at $29.95 from the very good 2007 Rhône vintage and a top notch producer, this is a blend of Grenache, Mourvedre and Syrah.
  • Château Malescot St. Exupery 2008 from Margaux in Bordeaux (136630) at $64.00 not from one of those “vintage of the century”, which means that the price is more reasonable compared to the 2009 and 2010 vintages in Bordeaux. This wine is from a Third Growth Château, to fully experience a great wine like this, 2-4 years in the cellar is strongly recommended.

Solid Italian Selection; Many people enjoy the wines of Italy, like yours truly and my Italian friend Tony who enjoys Barolo and Chianti. Well here is my top four;
  • Poderi Colla Bussia Dardi le Rose Barolo 2006 from Piedmont (596890) at $49.95 This Nebbiolo based wine is considered one of the best from the 2006 vintage and needs at less 3-4 years in the cellar. A Barolo for the collectors but if you are looking for a Barolo to enjoy right now consider Gemma Colarej Barolo 2006 (232447) at $34.95.
  • Castello Di Querceto Chianti Classico Riserva 2007 from Tuscany (650754) at $27.95 From the very good 2007 Tuscany vintage, a complex Chianti ready to enjoy now or cellar short term 2-3 years.
  • Ruffino Modus 2007 from Tuscany (912956) at $28.95 At this time last year (November 13, 2010) the 2006 vintage of this wine was released at the same price as this year. It was my first experience with Ruffino Modus but will not be the last, it is delicious rich and complex. I will definitely buy this vintage, which, I hear needs 1-2 year in your cellar.
  • Villa Girardi Bure Alto Ripasso Valpolicella Classico Superiore 2009 from Veneto (161844) at $17.95 Folks who enjoy there wine slightly sweet (as this wine is dry, compare to most wine which are extra dry) are likely to enjoy with a cheese platter or to sip after a meal instead of Port.

My top three wines of this release;
1-Le Vieux Donjon Châteauneuf-du-Pape 2009 from France (700922) at $57.95
2-Kilikanoon Parable Shiraz from Australia (059824) at $39.95
3-Rubicon Estate Cask Cabernet Sauvignon from California (029553) at $74.95 or (029553) for a 350ml bottle at $39.95

My top three wines for Holiday Gift (Around $30.00)
1-Castello Di Querceto Chianti Classico Riserva 2007 from Italy (650754) at $27.95
2-E. Guigal Gigondas 2007 from France (331900) at $29.95
3-Ruffino Modus 2007 from Italy (912956) at $28.95

My top three wines for value;
1-Delas Frères Saint-Esprit Côtes du Rhône 2009 from France (729962) at $14.95
2-Santa Carolina Reserva De Familia Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 from Chile (684597) at $17.95
3-Vinum Africa Chenin Blanc 2009 from South Africa (739995) at $14.95

These wines did not make my shopping list but are worth considering;
Red Wines;
1-Flat Rock Cellars Gravity Pinot Noir 2009 from Ontario (001560) at $29.95
2-Stratus Red 2008 from Ontario (131037) at $44.20
3-Borrowing Owl Syrah 2008 from British Columbia (073072) at $41.95
4-Four Vines Maverick Zinfandel 2008 from California (249300) at $27.95
5-Jonata Todos Red 2007 from California (218941) at $59.95 – Cellar Candidate
6-Rubicon Estate Cask Cabernet Sauvignon from California (029553) at $74.95
7-Montes Alpha Syrah 2009 from Chile (000612) at $19.95
8-Château le Caillou 1998 from France (045685) at $49.95
9-Château Malescot St. Exupery 2008 from France (136630) at $64.00 – Cellar Candidate
10-Château Rozier 2008 from France (024539) at $28.95
11-Maison Roche de Bellene Volnay Pitures 1er Cru 2008 from France (241083) at $44.95
12-Château de Haute-Serre Malbec 2008 from France (693952) at $23.95 – Cellar Candidate
13-Gemma Colarej Barolo 2006 from Italy (232447) at $34.95
14-Poderi Colla Bussia Dardi le Rose Barolo 2006 from Italy (596890) at $49.95 – Cellar Candidate
15-Tenuta San Guido Guidalberto 2009 from Italy (072439) at $49.95

White Wines;
1-Tawse Estate Chardonnay 2009 from Ontario (253518) 375ml at $16.95
2-Kumeu River Maté’s Vineyard Chardonnay 2008 from New Zealand (204032) at $44.95
3-Winery of Good Hope Vinum Africa Chenin Blanc 2009 from South Africa (739995) at $14.95

Dessert Wines;
1-Markus Molitor Riesling Auslese 2007 from Germany (249714) at $24.95
2-Osborne Pedro Ximenez 1827 Sweet Sherry from Spain (047944) at $17.95

My team and I will be back for the next New Release of November 26, 2011 where the main Feature is “Our Finest wines and premium spirits for holiday giving”, now this sounds expensive. Also my friend Roger will be happy to know that one of his favourite wines is back, the next vintage of BenMarco Malbec 2009 from Argentina.

Cheers
Paul YWG

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Varramista Ottopioppi 2007, Tuscany, Italy




I purchased this wine in Voltera, Italy this summer after a tasting in a small wine shop. An unusual blend from Italy, Sangiovese and Grenache. A youthful, fresh and fruity blend which opens up with aromas of cherry, raspberry, strawberry and red licorice. The alcohol coming in at 13%, this light to medium body mouthfeel is spicy with crisp acidity and well integrated tannins. The finish is long, spicy with ripe berry fruit aromas and silky tannins. Every part of this wine was very enjoyable, specially the aromatics. Well made wine with no excess.

This wine was purchased in Voltera, Italy August 2011 at €12.

Barone Ricasoli Castello Di Brolio Chianti Classico 2006, Tuscany, Italy



The last time I opened this wine was last winter (February 2010).  It is slowly coming around and is much better than it was the first time, but I suppose it is at it's best two or three years after the oak has integrated into the wine and the tannins have softened up a bit. A deep red color with great aromatics of blackberry, sour cherry, leather, tobacco and toasty oak. On the palate, big and concentrated flavours, enough acidity and persistent tannins.  The finish is long with black currant, blackberry and toasty oak flavours lingering. A much better nose than mouthfeel at the moment, but it is still a young wine. This wine is a blend of 95% Sangiovese, 3% Cabernet Sauvignon and 2% Merlot with alcohol coming in at 13.5%. I should have waited a couple more years, very enjoyable none the less.

This wine was purchase September 4, 2010 LCBO New Release at $54.95.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Marc Brédif Vouvray 2009, Loire, France


Looking for a wine to pair with a chicken dish with a rosemary cream sauce, I decided on Marc Brédif Vouvray, made with Chenin Blanc grape. This wine is medium sweet and opens up with citrus fruit, pear, apple, honey and mineral notes. On the palate, medium body (13.5% alcohol), with crisp acidity and creamy mouthfeel. The finish is long with honey flavours and citrus fruit lingering. A very refreshing wine which worked beautifully with this dish, cutting through the fat from the sauce and coating your mouth with refreshing flavours. Very enjoyable and strongly recommended.

This wine was purchased October 29, 2011 LCBO New Release at $20.95.

Baron De Ley Grand Reserva 2001, Rioja, Spain




Having previousley reviewed two of Baron De Ley wines on my blog, their Grand Reserva 1998 and Reserva 2005, I was happy to see Baron De Ley Grand Reserva 2001 at the SAQ in Gatineau, Québec. I am always surprised how many people from all over the world (Asia, Australia, Africa, Northern and Eastern Europe, North and South America) are searching the web for reviews of Baron De Ley wines and landing on my site. Baron De Ley must have a large production and even better distribution network.

Now, how about this Baron De Ley Grand Reserva 2001?  Right off the bat, pulling the cork releases a bounty of aromas. As the wines begins to breath a bit, it evolves into an aromatic wine indeed,with aromas of cherry, dark plum, Asian spices, tobacco, smoke, church wood and light barnyard notes. The mouthfeel is so smooth, and well balanced by fresh acidity, silky tannins and long spicy mid palate. The finish is long with complex flavours wrapped up in a thin layer of tannins. This wine has been aged for 24 months in American and French oak casks and for a further 36 months in bottles before release, alcohol comes in at 13.5%.  I love Grand Reserva when its beautifully done like this one, a great way to experience a mature and elegant wine without breaking the bank. Strongly recommended.


This wine was purchase on October 23, 2011at the SAQ at $28.25.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Umberto Cesari Liano 2008, Emilia-Romagna, Italy




I have long enjoyed the wines from Umberto Cesari, especially their Cesari Mara, which for many years (about ten years ago) was my house wine. Now Umberto Cesari Liano 2008 came strongly recommended at a wine tasting event I had put together.I promised to review it, so here goes. A wine only available in Québec, I went shopping in La Belle Province and bought a bottle. Liano 2008 is a blend of 70% Sangiovese and 30% Cabernet Sauvignon aged for six months in 50/60hl barrels and one year in French Allier tonneaux. A very appealing nose here, with aromas of wild berry fruit, vanilla, cinnamon, burnt sugar, cedar and smoke. On the palate, medium to full body, alcohol at 13.5% with fresh acidity and persistent tannins. Good length on the finish with rich and concentrated flavours. It would be difficult for me, in a blind tasting, to know that this wine originated in Italy. A very enjoyable wine with a great deal of flavour and sweetness, a lot of oak for sure, and just enough tannins to give it a nice structure. I will definitely buy this again.

This wine was purchased October 23, 2011 at the SAQ for $27.50.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Domaine Grand Veneur Clos de Sixte Lirac 2009, Rhône, France



What a beautiful wine here, a real Southern Rhône charmer. The Lirac 2009 Clos de Sixte is a blend of 50% Grenache, 35% Syrah and 15% Mourvedre, its smell like a Châteauneuf-du-Pape yet very approachable right now. On the nose, I definitely get the Grenache aromas, ripe raspberry, wild strawberry, violets, savoury spices and loads of licorice. Medium to full body with alcohol coming in at 15%, but this wine is so well balanced the alcohol is barely noticeable, the acidity is crisp with silky tannins. The wine finish is long, spicy with strawberry jam flavours and lots of licorice. This wine just blew me away, so well balanced with great aromatics and how spicy, fresh and lively the mouthfeel was. Great value and strongly recommended.

This wine was purchased September 17, 2011 LCBO New Release at $23.95.

My top three enjoyed wines for October 2011

When going over the list of wine reviewed for this month, the price category of $35 to $50 delivered the most bang for the money and left me with the most memorable impression.  I first narrowed the list down to six; two from Australia, one each from Argentina, France, Italy and the US. And here his the three wines that made the final cut.

My top three enjoyed wines in October;

1-Chateau Haut-Marbuzet 2002, Saint-Estèphe, Bordeaux, France
http://paulnjoywine.blogspot.com/2011/10/chateau-haut-marbuzet-2002-saint.html

Three elements came together which make this wine enjoyment a real memorable one. A mature wine which I think is drinking at its peek right now. Having my brothers family over for dinner and sharing this great bottle with them and finally pairing this wine with a great dish, Coq au Vin.

2-Elderton Ode to Lorraine Cabernet Sauvignon / Shiraz / Merlot 2008, Barossa Valley, Australia
http://paulnjoywine.blogspot.com/2011/10/elderton-ode-to-lorraine-2008-barossa.html

A seriously good wine here with a lots of detail in both aromas and mouthfeel. Above all excellent balance and drink ability.

3-Caymus Vineyards Zinfandel 2007, Napa Valley, California, USA
http://paulnjoywine.blogspot.com/2011/10/caymus-vineyards-zinfandel-2007-napa.html

This beautiful full body Zinfandel sure warm up my soul. A big, bold and beautiful wine.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Penfolds Bin 128 Shiraz 2008, Coonawarra, Australia





I love the sophisticated nose here; with aromas of blackberry, dark plums, cassis, black olives tapenade, smoky and savoury notes. The palate reveals a Shiraz with fresh acidity, silky tannins with savoury, rich and concentrated flavours. Very good length on the finish, with savoury,  smoky notes, white pepper and a solid core of ripe dark fruit lingering. The 2008 Bin 128 Shiraz was aged 12 months in French oak hogsheads, with alcohol coming in at 14.5%. A lovely wine to smell with a robust structure yet very approachable right now. Strongly recommended.    

This wine was purchased August 20, 2011 LCBO New Release at $34.95.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Salcheto Rosso Di Montepulciano 2008, Tuscany, Italy




This 2008 Rosso di Montepulciano is a very fruity and uncomplicated blend of 84% Sangiovese with Canaiolo and Merlot rounding out this blend. The wine was fermented and aged in stainless steel only, no oak aging here. Very aromatic on the nose, with aromas of fresh raspberry, plums, cranberry and floral notes. This wine is medium bodied, framed by dusty tannins, lively acidity and fresh berry fruit flavours. The finish is medium length and fruity. Without the oak aging, it doesn’t have the complexity of their Vino Nobile Di Montepulciano of course but an enjoyable and easy drinking wine at a very good price.  Now what is with the synthetic cork? I am not a fan of synthetic corks, but the strange thing here is the French inscription of “Mis en bouteille au Château Salcheto”  I am sure that my bottle was meant for the foreign market and not the domestic Italian market. Sold like this in the home market, there would be riots in the streets of Tuscany.

This wine was purchased October 29, 2011 LCBO New Release at $17.95

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Paul Picks from the LCBO New Release of October 29, 2011 - Wines of Sonoma and German or Ontario Riesling ?

Hello to all my wine friends,

Following this New Release (NR), there will only be three more NR before Christmas. At first glance, not as an exciting NR as I would have liked, definitely nothing to go crazy and fill your cellar with here. Simply a few everyday value wines like Salcheto Rosso Di Montepulciano 2008 from Italy (165357) at $17.95 – a mostly Sangiovese blend. I was so impressed with there Salcheto Vino Nobile Di Montepulciano 2005 from August 6, 2011 NR. I wanted to experience more of their wines. Also for your consideration, fans of Chenin Blanc, a very well reviewed, Marc Brédif Vouvray 2009 from Loire, France (685362) at $20.95, and a great value Amarone from Pasqua Italy (247890) at $36.95. Well let’s get started.

Wines of Sonoma; Hard to compete for attention when your big brother is Napa Valley. I personally prefer Sonoma over Napa, here is why; Sonoma makes more balanced wines with it's cooler region, Sonoma wines have better acidity, less alcohol, dryer wines and are a better value. As a big fan of Zinfandel, with sub-appellations such as Alexander Valley, Russian River Valley and Dry Creek Valley, Sonoma has a lot going for it. A Zin which I have had my eye on in this NR, Gallo Family Frei Ranch Vineyard Zinfandel 2009 has received mix reviews, like this review from David Lawrason of Wine Align “Two bottles were tasted – one was quite cooked and raisiny. The other was much better..... I have encountered this bottle variability before with Gallo’s Sonoma wines. I would buy one bottle at a time." This review does not inspire confidence, David Lawreson is a wine expert, tasting hundreds of wines a year, most people who would open that first bottle, would say this is not a very good wine for their taste and never buy it again, or return it. Never realizing there could be variations or inconsistent wine by bottle. Here are 3 Reds and 1 White Sonoma wines worth considering;
  • Benziger Family Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 from Sonoma County (597237) at $29.95
  • Frei Brothers Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 from Alexander Valley (038075) at $23.95
  • Rodney Strong Estate Pinot Noir 2009 from Russian River Valley (954834) at $24.95
  • CrossBarn Chardonnay 2008 from Sonoma Mountain (235945) at $21.95

German or Ontario Riesling? You all know by now, my love for Riesling. With a few exceptions (Washington State Château St-Michelle) all my other Riesling purchases originate from these two colder climate countries; Germany and Canada (British Columbia and Ontario). First, Germany is a no brainer, off-dry, light-bodied Riesling's are there specialty; somewhat sweet, but well balanced by strong minerality, zesty and refreshing acidity with many designations such as Kabinett, Spätlese and Auslese. As for Canada, both British Columbia and Ontario producers can produce equally brilliant Riesling; fuller body than Riesling from German but with great aromatics, mineral notes and fresh acidity. In my view, no other white wine is more food friendly than a Riesling, and here are two recommendations from this NR, one from Germany and one from Ontario and under $18.00
  • Lingenfelder Bird Label Riesling 2009 from Pfalz, Germany (568634) at $13.95
  • Tawse Sketches of Niagara Riesling 2010 from Niagara Peninsula, Ontario (089029) at $17.95 

My top three wines of this release;
1-Penfolds Bin 28 Kalimna Shiraz 2008 from Australia (422782) at $34.95
2-Benziger Family Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 from California (597237) at $29.95
3-Pasqua Amarone Della Valpolicella 2007 from Italy (247890) at $36.95

My top three wines for value;
1-Lingenfelder Bird Label Riesling 2009 from Germany (568634) at $13.95
2-Salcheto Rosso Di Montepulciano 2008 from Italy (165357) at $17.95
3-Meandro Do Vale Meao 2008 from Portugal (244731) at $23.95

These wines did not make my shopping list but are worth considering;

Red Wines;
1-Frei Brothers Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 from California (038075) at $23.95
2-Rodney Strong Estate Pinot Noir 2009 from California (954834) at $24.95
3-NK’MIP Qwam Qwmt Meritage 2008 from British Columbia (252080) at $26.95
4-Chehalem Reserve Pinot Noir 2007 from Oregon (233577) at $44.95
5-Concha Y Toro Winemaker’s Lot 54 Syrah 2008 from Chile (227496) at $16.95
6-Jim Barry Clare Red Shiraz/Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 from Australia (243543) at $24.95
7-Château de Beaucastel Coudoulet de Beaucastel 2009 from France (048884) at $29.95
8-Lento Lamezia Riserva 2006 from Italy (972208) at $19.95
9-Barone Ricasoli Rocca Chianti Classico Riserva 2007 from Italy (943613) at $24.95
10-Pasqua Amarone Della Valpolicella 2007 from Italy (247890) at $36.95

White Wines;
1-Hoopenburg Integer Chardonnay 2007 from South Africa (174672) at $21.95
2-Loosen Bros Dr. L. Riesling 2010 from Germany (599274) at $14.95
3-Inama Vin Soave Classico 2009 from Italy (949768) at $17.95

My team and I will be back for next New Release of November 12, 2011 where the main Feature is Premium products for Holiday fêtes, so save your toonies and get ready to pace yourself over the next six weeks on your wine purchases.

Cheers
Paul YWG

Monday, October 24, 2011

Navarro Correas Structura Ultra 2006, Mendoza, Argentina



On LCBO New Release day I go to the store with my shopping list in hand, but every once in a while I will stray from the list because of a wine that is strongly recommended by the in-store Product Consultant. In this case the Product Consultant is Niki Deol at the World Exchange in Ottawa. She was highly enthusiastic of the Structura Ultra 2006, a blend of Malbec 52%, Cabernet Sauvignon 30%, and Merlot 18% aged for 18 months in French Oak, of which 80% is new.  If Structure Ultra was a boxer, it would be competing in the Heavy Weight division; a big wine on all fronts. Big fruit, big alcohol 14.9%, big flavours, big and heavyweight bottle ( not a positive here), big… well you get the picture. The reaction of pulling the cork was an upper cut of flavours, with ripe black fruit (cherry and blackberry), plums, black currant, cedar and floral notes. This full bodied mouthfeel has rich and velvet texture, concentrated fruit flavours, toasty oak, fresh acidity and grainy tannins. This blends finish is long, rich and sensuous. An awesome wine, a great recommendation Niki, strongly recommended for people who enjoy this style.   

This wine was purchased October 15, 2011 LCBO New Release at $34.95.

Guenoc Cabernet Sauvignon 2009, Lake County, California, USA


This young Cabernet Sauvignon is a little awkward at the moment. A little shy on the nose with aromas of dark fruit, dark chocolate, cedar, smoke and dust. On the mouthfeel this medium to full bodied Cabernet has loads of dark fruit, enough acidity and hard tannins. The back label says smooth and velvet finish, it is nothing but. I get a great deal of oak and aggressive tannins. Don't get me wrong, a good wine, at a great value, but it needs time in the cellar. This wine lacks finesse, right now.  

This wine was purchased October 15, 2011 LCBO New Release at $17.95.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Saltram Mamre Brook Shiraz 2008, Barossa Valley, Australia



From a hot 2008 vintage of the Barossa Valley, comes this big (15% Alcohol), dark almost inky black and very fragrant Aussie Shiraz. The fruit is from low yielding vines that was matured in new and used French and American oak barrels for twenty-two months. On the nose, this wine opens up with ripe blackberry, plums, savoury, coffee and cedar aromas. Big and rich flavours on the mouthfeel, cherry pie, chocolate, clove with sufficient acidity and ripe tannins. The finish is long, velvety, savoury with sweet flavours lingering. A classic example of the “Barossa Style”, big fruit and big alcohol but well balanced and well made. Very enjoyable.

This wine was purchased July 9, 2011 LCBO New Release at $24.95

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Poliziano Vino Nobile di Montepluciano 2007, Tuscany, Italy



From the very successful 2007 Tuscan vintage, classic Sangiovese aromas of black cherry, blackcurrant, forest floor, mushroom, damp earth and savoury. On the palate, this wine is medium to full body (14.5% alcohol) and offers a good contrast between rich and concentrated fruit and earthy notes, with balanced acidity and firm tannins. The opening aromas continue through, with a smokey, earthy and dark fruit  through a long and dry finish.  If you drink now, this wine should be decanted for about one hour, or keep it in the bottle for one or two years, this will allow for greater integration of the flavours. Great Value and strongly recommended.

This wine was purchased October 15, 2011 LCBO New Release at $25.95.

Carlos Serres Gran Reserva 2001, Rioja, Spain





This Gran Reserva is a blend of 85% Tempranillo, 10% Graciano and 5% Mazuelo which spent 36 months in a combination of American and French oak barrels, then a further 36 months ageing in the bottle. This Rioja is very aromatic with plums, vanilla, cinnamon and minerals on the nose. The palate is smooth, elegant with well integrated tannins. The finish as medium length with light berries, vanilla and sweet spices. Definitely a mature wine which has started to lose some of its fruit and structure and should be drank over the next year. Enjoyable when paired with the right food. 

This wine was purchased October 1, 2011 LCBO New Release at $27.95.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Caymus Vineyards Zinfandel 2007, Napa Valley, California, USA



My first experience with Caymus Vineyards Zinfandel 2007 was at the Keg Restaurant in Toronto, Ontario, last May 2011. This is one of those fantastic pairings, great steak and juicy full bodied Zin. Now,  This wine was not available in Ontario from the LCBO, but living close to the Quebec border gives more choice and another market to shop in. I was lucky to find this wine in a special release in that province (Quebec).

The aromas are classic Zin,  blackberry jam, crush raspberries, peppery, fruit cake and cedar. A rich, sensuous and full bodied mouthfeel, generous alcohol at 15.5% but well balanced by sweet ripe fruit, surprisingly good acidity for a Napa Valley wine with chewy tannins. The finish is long, peppery and slightly drying tannins. The sign of a great wine is that each glass gets better and better. Gorgeous wine amd I will keep my last bottle of this vintage for next fall. I couldn't afford the more pricey, Caymus Cabernet Sauvignon, but for $40.00 I got to enjoy there great Zinfandel. Life is good.

This wine was purchased July 5, 2011 at the SAQ in Gatineau, Quebec.

Michele Castellani Cinque Stelle Amarone Della Valpolicella Classico 2005, Veneto, Italy




The suggested pairing for our pasta dinner was a Ripasso or an Amarone. Since I didn’t have a Ripossa I opened one of only two Amarone in my cellar. Isn't this a good excuse for opening an Amarone? I think so!  A classic version of Amarone with aromas of prune, fig, dates, dried raisins, stewed fruits, chocolate and leather. This full body mouthfeel of 15.5% alcohol has rich and sweet texture, low acidity and well integrated tannins. Great length and velvet on the finish. The exact blend for this Amarone is 70% Corvina, 20% Rondinella and 10% Molinara. Strongly recommended for fans Amarone and full bodied red. 

This wine was purchased November 27, 2010 LCBO New Release at $54.95.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Paul Picks from the LCBO New Release of October 15, 2011 - Tuscan vs. Piedmont and Pazzo Call Me Crazy

Hello to all my wine friends,
As a big fan of Italian wines, what grabbed my attention while looking at this New Release (NR) is the solid selection from Tuscany. I was also excited about a trio of wines from California; Peju Merlot 2006, Shafer One Point Five Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 and Pazzo, Call Me Crazy Proprietary Red 2007 (more on this one latter). Fans of Luigi Bosca should look for their good valued Reserva 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon. Next up an Australian blend; Elderton Ode To Lorraine Cabernet Sauvignon/Shiraz/Merlot 2008 from Barossa Valley (976423). This wine was originally released last December 11, 2011 and is being released again this week. A wine I happened to have enjoyed this past week, you can see my review here; http://paulnjoywine.blogspot.com/2011/10/elderton-ode-to-lorraine-2008-barossa.html     So let’s get started.

Tuscan vs. Piedmont; The main feature of this NR are these two regions of Italy. Incidentally, there are only 5 wines from Piedmont and 11 from Tuscany. With the exception of Giacomo Fenocchio Bussia Barolo 2005 (232421) at $42.95, which should be strongly considered by fans of Barolo, the selection from Tuscany is far superior. Here are my top three Tuscan wines from the NR, now if you only buy one wine from this NR it should be this first one;
  • Poliziano Vino Nobile Di Montepulciano 2007 (988055) at $25.95. From the superb 2007 Tuscan vintage and a very good producer (never had a bottle from them which I did not enjoy) Poliziano wines have lots of class, elegance, well balance and a good value, drink now or over the next 5-6 years.
  • Tenuta di Nozzole La Forra Chianti Classico Riserva 2007 (177279) at $29.95 A classic Italian table wine with Sangiovese grape aged in French oak and unfiltered. Drink now or over the next 10 years.
  • Poggio Verrano Chance 2005 (239707) at $33.95 a Bordeaux blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc from warmer region of Tuscany call Maremma. You should expect a wine style between Italy and California. This wine is already 6 years old, drink now or over the next little while.

Pazzo Call Me Crazy; I have enjoyed the last two or three vintages of this California – Italian inspired blend, Pazzo Call Me Crazy Proprietary Red. Pazzo means crazy in Italian, and this blend is definitely a bit crazy. A blend of 74% Sangiovese, 8% Syrah, 6% Cabernet Sauvignon, 6% Petit Syrah and 6% Viognier. All wines were aged in new and older French Oak barrels for 21 months. This wine is meant to be consumed sooner rather then later, in the first 2 or three years after it is released, this will emphasize the fruity characteristic of this blend. I have to be honest here, this is not a wine that will appeal to everyone, not everyone likes big fruity wine with high alcohol (16%), what it lacks for in elegance it more then makes up for in great aromatics, loads of flavour and a great mouthfeel. Pair with strong flavoured dishes like slow cooked stew, lamb shank and some pasta dishes. If you enjoy big, fruity new world wines but with an Italian twist try Pazzo Call Me Crazy Proprietary Red 2007 from Bacio Divino Cellars (677708) at $31.95.

My top three wines of this release;
1-Poliziano Vino Nobile Di Montepulciano 2007 from Italy (988055) at $25.95
2-Elderton Ode To Lorraine Cabernet Sauvignon/Shiraz/Merlot 2008 from Australia (976423) at $39.95
3-Michele Castellani Cinque Stelle Amaronne Della Valpolicella Classico 2006 from Italy (075127) at $52.95

My top three wines for value;
1-Montes Limited Selection Cabernet Sauvignon/Carmenère 2010 from Chile (016071) at $14.95
2-Guenoc Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 from California (104240) at $17.95
3-Marchesi De’ Frescobaldi Terre More Dell’ Ammiraglia 2009 from Italy (239889) at $19.95

These wines did not make my shopping list but are worth considering;

Red Wines;
1-Giacomo Fenecchio Bussia Barolo 2005 from Italy (232421) at $42.95
2-Volpaia Chianti Classico 2008 from Italy (953828) at $21.95
3-Marchesi De’ Frescobaldi Terre More Dell’ Ammiraglia 2009 from Italy (239889) at $19.95
4-Catena Alta Malbec 2008 from Argentina (982355) at $49.95
5-Peju Merlot 2006 from California (147322) at $44.95
6-Luigi Bosca Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 from Argentina (128629) at $17.95
7-Montes Limited Selection Cabernet Sauvignon/Carmenère 2010 from Chile (016071) at $14.95
8-Elderton Ode To Lorraine Cabernet Sauvignon/Shiraz/Merlot 2008 from Australia (976423) at $39.95

White Wines;
1-Santa Barbara Wine Company Chardonnay 2009 from California (235937) at $19.95
2-Penfolds Thomas Hyland Riesling 2008 from Australia (146746) at $19.95
3-Kumeu River Village Chardonnay 2008 from New Zealand (247171) at $18.95
4-Iona Vineyards Chardonnay 2009 from South Africa (236026) at $24.95
5-Maculan Pinot Grigio 2010 from Italy (734921) at $13.95
My team and I will be back for next New Release October 29, 2011 that will feature the wines of Sonama, California and highlight great value party wines.
 
Cheers
Paul YWG