Wine Picks LCBO Release Sept 16, 2017

This release features Ontario wine and winemakers and also includes some good value Australian wines.  Australia’s Wits End Luna Shiraz 2015 is back – Score 95 @ $17.95! Also a great chance to stock up on some bubbly before the holiday prices shoot up. Check out which one André Proulx says ‘may be one of  the best bottles of sparkling wine in the province right now.’  Hint- 2027! Continue reading “Wine Picks LCBO Release Sept 16, 2017”


Syrah Tasting Opportunity Sept 2, 2017

The LCBO Vintage release for Sept 2, 2017 offers an excellent opportunity to delve into the Syrah grape.  The release features Syrah wines that are characteristic of their origins from both the Old World and New World.  What a great chance to explore the signature traits of this varietal and compare the different effects of terrroir and wine-making styles. Continue reading “Syrah Tasting Opportunity Sept 2, 2017”


Wine Picks LCBO Release Sept 2, 2017

This release has a lot of special value selections scoring 90 points + , many for under $20.  It also features some ‘benchmark’ new world wines. That means the wines are a true representation of a region’s style and terroir for that grape.

What that also means is there is an excellent opportunity for a Syrah tasting to compare the various Syrah styles of France, USA, Canada, Chile.  See full Syrah notes and recommendations here.

White Wines

2027 Wismer Vineyard Fox Croft Block Chardonnay 2014

421362   Score 91    $22.95

This wine has been highlighted as a ‘benchmark’ wine for Ontario Chardonnay. John Szabo of talks about the ‘restraint and elegance of this wine…gentle touch of old wood spice but mostly appealingly, steely-stony character, citrus and green apple/pear, sharp acids and great length. ‘ In his opinion you would be ‘hard pressed to find similar poise in most other places on planet earth.’    How is that for a compliment????

I had the chance to taste and review this wine in March 2017  ‘The slightly woody, toasty nose on this literally made me sigh! This is a beautifully balanced wine. Light oak, light spice. Clean on the palate. No overpowering elements detract from the overall experience. Beautiful nose, beautiful palate. Worth every penny!’

Anne de Laweiss Collection Gewurztraminer 2015

141226   $19.95

Gewurtztraminer is a very specific taste.  It is typically off-dry and goes well with Asian food.  Typical notes of tropical fruits, apricot with some spicy peppery notes.  Vintage panels calls this one off-dry with aromas or rosewater, lychee and candied grapefruit.  Notes of candied ginger and spice on the palate as well.

Red Wines

See the Syrah recommendations here.

Special Value Wines

These wines have received reviews suggesting they are excellent value for the money. Most if rated are in the 88-90 point range…not bad when you see the prices!

Cascina Castlet Litina Barbaera D’Asti Superiore 2012

497917  Score 95  $21.95

Decanter World Wine Awards notes call this “Enticing and inviting, with luscious dark cherry, elegant violet, lifted liquorice and spicy, smoky oak notes. The palate is seductive and attractive, with layers of supple, rich, dark cherry fruit, fine, fresh acidity and lush, beautifully textured tannins.  Complex yet elegant.’

Lealtanza Reserva 20122 (Rioja, Spain)

208223  Score 92    $19.95

James Suckling of describes ‘A deep beautiful nose of ripe strawberries and hints of dried flowers and soft spices. Medium-bodied with medium, juicy and soft tannins and a long, fresh and fruity finish’.

Chateau Ste. Michelle Syrah 2013 (Washington, USA)

949651   Score 90   $19.95

Sean P. Sullivan of Wine Enthusiast describe ‘herbal and spicy notes, a lot of aromatic complexity; plush fruit and savory flavors and full in feel with a lingering finish. ..a lot of wine for the price.’

Marco Zunino Expresion Reserva Malbec 2014 (Argentina)

494575  Score 92   $27.95

James Suckling of says ‘Aromas of ginseng and dried fruits. Medium body, fine tannins and a tangy finish of citrus peel. Beautiful.’

M. Chapoutier Rasteau 2014 (Rhone, France)

517201  Score 91   $19.95

Jeb Dunnuck or describes ‘big, rich, black cherry, crushed rock and dried herb-driven cuvee…surprising levels of sweet fruits, full -bodied richness and a balanced, clean finish.’

Ranzo Masi  Riserva Chianti 2013

969469  Score 92   $16.95

James Suckling of call this ” A simple Chianti that shows lots of richness and intensity with ripe fruit, light raisin and walnut shell character. Full body round and velvety tannins and a flavorful finish.’

Tommasi Graticcio Appassionato 2014 (Veneto, Italy)

338939  Score 90   $15.95

Natalie MacLean of says this is ‘Great for the price!’  She describes fleshy ripe sweet black cherries on the nose and  palate of this full-bodied, smooth Italian red wine.’

Borsao Berola 2013 (Spain)

371518  Score 90   $18.95

Robert Parker of calls this winery his ‘favorite value winery not only in Spain but in the world’.  This wine is ‘pure, rich and impressive….blackcurrant fruit, a toucj of graphite and camphor, a luscious, nicely textrured mid-palate finish.’


Reserve des Armoiries Cotes du Rhone 2013

194886   $15.95

Guide Hachette says ‘Intense vanilla notes jump from the glass and coat a vroad, round and persistent palate. A delight for oaky wine lovers.’

Domaine Lafage Cuvee Nicolas Vieilles Vines Grenache Noir 2015 (Roussillon, France)

354191  Score 92   $17.00

Jeb Dunnuck of calls this a ‘sensational value’. ‘Offering tons of ripe lack cherries, blueberries, spice and flowers, it has loads of pure fruit, a sexy, voluptuous style and a beautiful length on the finish.’

Cellar Suggestions

Fabre Montmayou Gran Reserva Malbec 2013 (Argentina)

279802  Score 94   $25.95

Tim Atkins of calls this ‘Dense and complex, with plenty of tannic backbone and oak balanced by fresh acidity and layer of dark berry fruit, licorice and Asian spices.’  Drink 2017-2025

Chateau de la Roulerie Blanc 2015 (Loire, France)

513408  Score 93  $26.95

James Molesworth of describes ‘Ripe and layered, with a mix of fig, pear, red apple and peach flavors giving this ample range. A lively ginger thread helps extend everything through the finish.  Best from 2020 to 2030.”


Wine Picks LCBO Release August 5, 2017

This release features the wines of  Argentina.  Almost any of them appear to be good value, scoring in the 90s for the most part in a very reasonable $20 range.  I have singled out a couple that scored consistently high among various reviewers.  Oddly, many had a wide range of scores despite high rating from Decanter World Wine Awards.

There are also many offerings from less familiar regions such as Croatia, Bulgaria, India – I call them quirky varietals….if you are feeling adventurous go ahead and experiment. (I personally usually only indulge in these if I am sitting in a taverna in said region!)



392548   Score 90   $19.95

Tony Aspler of Quench Magazine says ‘This is a charming sparkler at a great price. It represents a nose of new leather and honey with a floral note. Creamy mouthfeel, medium-bodied, dry, elegant and well-balanced.’


277707  Score 94  $19.95

Bob Campebell of bob says  ‘Restrained, fruity Sauvignon Blanc that shows surprising power demonstrated by a very lengthy finish. Impressive purity and bright, high energy flavours suggesting ripe tree fruit flavours, with underlying aromatic herbal character.’

YALUMBA VIOGNIER 2015 ( Australia)

954644   Score 92     $24.95 2
Joe Czerwinski, of Wine Enthusiast describes ‘Gingery spice and floral notes bring a dimension of  complexity without oak, and the wine’s fruit remains citrusy, fresh and focused through the long finish. Editors’ Choice.’  John Szabo of Winealign also rates this wine highly calling it a ‘text book example of the varietal.’

Henri Ehrhart Réserve Particulière Gewurztraminer 2015

392118  Score 91 $21.95

Vintage panel notes say ‘Quite floral with rose petal, herb garden and spice aromas. There’s a kiss of sweetness here, but the wine is ultimately dry and finishes pure, crisp and long.’


Te Mata Estate Cape Crest Sauvignon Blanc 2014

490318  Score 92    $30.95


Vigna di Pallino Riserva Chianti 2014 DOCG (Italy)

514331  Score 91   $26.95

This is getting consistent high scores from various reviewers.  James Suckling of says ‘A delicious Chianti with blueberry and dried cherry character. Medium body, fresh acidity and a chewy finish. Very well done for the vintage.’


SERIE A BONARDA 2015  (Mendoza, Argentina)

355560  Score 91  $16.95

Apparently the best Bonarda comes from Santa Rosa.   This is 100% Bonarda. Decanter Wrold Wine Award notes describe it as ‘Complex … violets and roses as well as dark cherries. Beautiful  refreshing acidity, creamy texture, fine grained tannins and a refined finish, loaded with flowers. A
sophisticated version of Bonarda.’


431742  Score 91  $17.95

This is getting consistent high scores around the web. Roger Voss of Wine Enthusiast says ‘Black fruits show well freshened with acidity and balanced with the dry, final tannins.’


492652 Score 90  $17.95 2
Vintage panel notes: ‘Woodsmoke, warm earth, black olive, black cherry and spice emerge in this complex, gracefully mature wine. It’s smoky, spicy and still quite structured on the palate. In its prime drinking window now, it should impress through 2019.’

Cellar Suggestions

(Uco Valley, Mendoza Argentina)

980334         Score 95          $24.95 2

James Suckling of says this is ‘a  dense and textured cab with chewy and rich tannins…full body, hazelnut and clove character with the black currants. Very long and
gorgeous. Needs three or four years to come together.’  Me thinks if you give this its cellar due you will end up with a very fine wine…


442459   Score 96  $18.95

Here is a chance to pick up a real winner from Uco Valley in Argentina.  Based on various reviews you could drink this now but the tannins are described as a bit chewy yet.  Give it a couple of years to let it come into its own for optimum enjoyment.

Decanter World Wine Award notes say ‘Remarkable balance and precision here. Fresh, clean cherry fruit sings on the nose. Waves of intense red fruits and flowers abound on the palate, complemented by spices and oak very well integrated. A sumptuous Malbec/Touriga Nacional blend with great structure, finely grained tannins and lively freshness.’



484980   Score 92  $24.95

Critics agree that cellaring this for a couple of years will allow for fuller development and softening of this signature wine from Austria. Ann Krehiehl of Wine Enthusiast describes ‘Flinty overtones  signal the freshness of the wine which has yet to show its true colors. But the tight, taught, focused and zesty palate promises lots of refreshment. There is a generosity here between zest and pepper, with concentrated pear and citrus. Superclean finish.


Everything You Need to Host a Tapas and Rioja Wine Tasting

Spain is producing some excellent value wines and have modernized some of their viticulture  techniques to appeal to the wider public.  Here is what you need to have a fun  evening exploring the food and wine of Spain’s Rioja region. Continue reading “Everything You Need to Host a Tapas and Rioja Wine Tasting”