Featherstone Red Tail Merlot 2012

Dark in color with a firm nose of dark cherries. On the mid palate the wine matches the nose with dark cherries coming through. The fruit is quite nice and fairly bold. It’s more reminiscent of a cab than a Merlot IMHO but there are some mild subtle plum notes. On the medium length finish the wine has some nice smooth tannins with the oak and alcohol well in check. We paired it with a baked macaroni in a red sauce and it went very well, holding it’s own. I would give it an 88-89. Quite nice.

From the LCBO web site:
Featherstone Red Tail Merlot 2012 — VINTAGES#: 131540
STYLE – Medium-bodied & Fruity
The 2012 vintage has been very kind to Featherstone. This is another solid [offering] from the winery’s red portfolio. The nose shows inviting raspberry, cherry and plum aromas with light spice. It’s lush and smooth on the palate with medium weight showing flavours of raspberry, plums, licorice and spice with a smooth delivery through the long finish. Score – 90. (Rick VanSickle, winesinniagara.com, July 13, 2014) $19.95

Release Date:January 10, 2015 Alcohol/Vol 12.5% Made in:Ontario, Canada By: Featherstone Estate Winery Sugar Content:4 g/L Sweetness Descriptor: XD – Extra Dry Style: Medium-bodied & Fruity

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2011Castello di Neive Barbaresco

One of Italy’s legendary wines is a Barolo. They are made from the Nebbiolo grape. Barolos are big, bold, expressive and complex … but they are also expensive. Barbarescos are also made from the Nebbiolo grape. I call Barbarescos a poor man’s Barolo :) This one is in the general list at the LCBO and has been good for quite a while now. This one is deep garnet in color with a nose of dark cherries. On the mid palate the wine displays some mild black cherries to match the nose along with some dried fruit notes. On the medium length finish the wine displays some smooth velvety tannins along with some nice dryness. The complexity in this wine is very nice. The fruit is a bit on the milder side but still good. I would give it an 88-89

From the LCBO web site:
Castello di Neive Barbaresco DOCG — LCBO#: 160143
STYLE – Full-bodied & Firm Clear garnet colour; cherry, leather, spice and toasty oak aromas; dry, full-bodied, slightly firm, yet well balanced with red fruit flavour and fine tannins. $19.90
Alcohol/Vol 14.5% Made in: Italy By: Castello Di Neive Azienda Agricola Sugar Content:2 g/L Sweetness Descriptor: XD – Extra DryStyle: Full-bodied & Firm
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2012 Mission hill Shiraz mini review

Another wine from the Marc Anthony portfolio tasting. Inky dark in color with a nose of dark berries. On the mid palate the wine displays some lovely blueberry notes backed by some nice peppery notes and acidity into a medium length finish. A very nice varietal shiraz. I would give it an 89 or so. Available from Marc Anthony wines for $18.48 a bottle in cases of 12. Yumm.

From the winery`s web site:
2012 Shiraz Our Reserve Shiraz is inky in colour with aromas of dark fruits, violet, and peppercorn. Full-bodied with flavours of cherries, rosemary, anise, and brambleberry. A touch of cedar rounds out the long finish.

Vintage Report
The 2012 vintage is a reminder that the Okanagan is one of the world’s northern-most serious wine regions. After a generally dry, warm growing season, the last few weeks of harvest ‘chilled out’. The summer ensured ideal fruit development resulting in slightly reduced workloads in our vineyards. Yields were spot-on and summer pruning was not as involved as in previous years. Veraison took place under nearly ideal conditions that lasted from mid-August to the end of September. The continuation of mild, sunny autumn weather gave rise to optimism among our winemakers with reports of grapes having developed thick skins and expectations of flavourful, extracted wines. The harvest began on September 13th with sunny skies and moderate temperatures, delivering the early ripening varieties. The night cooled drastically in the second half of September, preserving the freshness of our top quality wines and brining welcome respite after an incredibly dry growing season.
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Winemakers Notes
100% Shiraz
13.5 alc/vol
T.A. 5.5 g/l
RS Dry
Oak: Aged in French & American oak for 14 months
Harvested: October 2012
Vineyards: Oliver & Osoyoos

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2010 Mission Hill Compendium mini review

Another wine from the Marc Anthony portfolio tasting. I last reviewed the Quatrain and lvoed it so much I bought a case and shared it with some family members with discerning tastes! I love Okanagan wines, they are so big and bold. This one is dark in color with a mild nose of red berries. It`s not giving any hints of what`s to come … On the mid palate the wine displays some lovely cab sauv notes along with some nice complexity. On the medium length finish the wine displays some nice dryness, tannins and some acidity. The complexity on this wine is really noticeable with all of the blend working in harmony. This is a well made rich wine. I would give it a solid 90. Available from Marc Anthony wines for $39.95 a bottle in cases of 6. Yumm.

From the winery`s web site:
2010 Compendium New Release! 41% Cabernet Sauvignon, 38% Merlot, 21% Cabernet Franc

A compendium is a ‘collection'; this Bordeaux inspired wine is part of Mission Hill Family Estate’s ultra-premium wine collection. Elegant and complex, COMPENDIUM reflects great care and dedication in everything we do from viticulture to winemaking.

The grapes were selected from designated blocks within our estates in Osoyoos and Oliver; they were hand harvested and hand sorted and then gravity filled to small French oak fermenters. After 3 weeks extended maceration the free run wine and a small portion of lightly basket pressed wine was aged separately in French oak barrels for 13 months.

The grapes for the 2010 Compendium were sourced from some of our top vineyard parcels along the Osoyoos and Black Sage Benches. It is a dark, dense and brooding giant of a wine, featuring a complex mix of black currants, blueberry, licorice, mint and dark chocolate. The palate is rich and full-bodied with muscular tannins and well-focused flavours.

Winemakers Notes
41% Cabernet Sauvignon, 38% Merlot, 21% Cabernet Franc
Hand harvested from Osoyoos and Oliver Vineyards in October 2010
Fermentation & extended maceration in small French oak fermenters
Aged in French oak barrels for 13 months
Alcohol: 14% | Total Acidity: 6.0 g/l
Bottled on September 13, 2012

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Castello di Spaltenna Chianti Classico 2011

Dark in color with a mild nose. On the mid pallet the wine displays some nice mild red berries. But where this wine lives is in the medium length finish which displays some some nice smooth tannins, nice dryness and spicy notes. The wine has some nice mouth grip, lingering nicely with the peppery notes and the tannins hanging around for a bit. The wine has some nice complexity. I would give it an 89 or so. A fine Chianti for a reasonable price! I paired it (and even marinated with it) a rabbit stew in a tomato based sauce and it went very well!

From the LCBO web site:
Castello di Spaltenna Chianti Classico 2011 — VINTAGES#: 388678
Though ripe, this red remains fresh and focused, offering cherry, plum, licorice and tar flavors. Smooth and balanced, presenting a light dusting of tannins on the finish. Drink now through 2020. Score – 90. (Bruce Sanderson, winespectator.com, Feb. 28, 2014)
$19.95

Release Date:December 6, 2014 Alcohol/Vol 14.0% Made in: Tuscany, Italy By: Villa Vignamaggio Sugar Content: 7 g/L Sweetness Descriptor:D
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Redhawk Vineyard Grateful Red Pinot Noir 2012

Garnet in color with a mild nose of some red berries and maybe even chocolate. On the mid pallet the wine displays red berry notes more reminiscent of a cab than a pinot. I found myself puzzled on this one for how to describe the mid pallet. On the medium length finish the wine displays some firm acidity, and some nice dryness along with some rustic notes. The finish is firm and lingers in the mouth. I would give this wine an 88 or so. As the wine breathes some of the firmness of the wine dials back revealing a lot more of the fruit. More traditional softer red berries and raspberries start coming out as well as some more of the rustic notes. I would recommend you decant this wine for 1/2 an hour to an hour depending on how you like your pinots.

From the LCBO web site
Redhawk Vineyard Grateful Red Pinot Noir 2012 — VINTAGES#: 48710
Fresh, bright Pinot with notions of pomegranate, raspberry pie and cured meat. Good echoes on the palate, with lively acidity. Excellent price for Pinot of this quality. (VINTAGES panel, Nov. 2014) $21.95.

Release Date:January 10, 2015 Alcohol/Vol 13.5% Made in: Oregon, USA By: Redhawk Winery Inc. Sugar Content: 6 g/L Sweetness Descriptor: XD – Extra Dry Description Cheekily named with a nod to the Grateful Dead, this is a super-popular Pinot Noir every year with our customers. Always a great value, the 2012 was a fantastic vintage in Oregon, meaning this is one of the best bottlings to date.

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2012 Toasted head Cab Sauv

Inky dark in color with a mild nose of dark red berries. On the mid pallet the wine displays milder dark red berries to match the nose. This wine lives in the finish where it displays some lovely fine velvety tannins. The wine has some very nice mouth grip where the dryness lingers for quite a bit. This wine is quite interesting in it’s complexity. I would give it an 88-89.

From the LCBO web site:
Release Date: September 13, 2014 750 mL bottle Alcohol/Vol 13.5% Made in:California, USA By: Constellation Brands Inc.Sugar Content:7 g/L Sweetness Descriptor:D – Dry Style: Full-bodied Smooth Description’Toasted Head’ refers to the process of toasting the tops and bottoms (plus the staves) of the oak barrels, which imparts a more enveloping toasty-oak character to this wine. Typically aged for 18-20 months in a mix of French and American oak, this delicious Cab features toasty vanilla and rich black fruit flavours, plus a lingering finish. Ideal for leisurely enjoyment or for barbecued back ribs. $20.95
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The Lackey Shiraz 2012

Inky dark in color with a mid nose of black berries. On the mid pallet the wine displays some mild blueberry and black berry notes consistent with the nose. On the medium length finish the wine displays some tannins along with some nice peppery notes. I would give it an 88 or so. Not a bad Shiraz at all, albeit a milder one. We paired it with lasagna and it went well. If you prefer your shirazes a little less fruit forward this is a good choice for the $$s.

From the LCBO web site:
The Lackey Shiraz 2012 — VINTAGES#: 5199
STYLE – Full-bodied & Smooth
Huge, ripe, and mouthfilling with smoke, tar, peppercorns, and blackberry pie filling. Certainly not lack-ey in the flavour department – see what we did there? Enjoy with spiced beef dishes or spicy ribs. (VINTAGES panel, Aug. 2014) $17.95

Release Date:September 27, 2014
Alcohol/Vol 14.0% Made in: South Australia By:Kilikanoon Sugar Content: 7 g/L Sweetness Descriptor: D – DryStyle:Full-bodied & Smooth

Description: One mark of a truly great producer is the ability to evoke the signature quality of their premium bottlings across their complete range. The Lackey is consistently one of Australia’s great-value buys, and this well-priced Shiraz from Kilikanoon offers a tantalizing hint of what can be expected from their more expensive offerings. Full bodied and approachable, with suggestions of rich blackberry, cassis, leather and spices. Enjoy it with roast leg of lamb or stuffed eggplant.

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Cooper’s Hawk 2010 Cab Franc Reserve mini review

I have not had much exposure to Lake Erie wines so when I was at Taste Ontario a while back I tried this one. Dark in color with a lovely nose of dark cherries. On the mid pallet the wine displays lovely bold dark cherries to match the nose along with some chocolate notes. On the long finish the wine displays some hints of pepper along with some smooth tannins and nice dryness. This is a well made varietal cab franc. A bigger one at that. I would give it an 89 or so. A nice surprise. This one sure isn’t cheap $39.95 but it is good if you can endure the price.

From the LCBO web site:
Cooper’s Hawk Cabernet Franc Reserve 2010 — VINTAGES#: 335729
STYLE – Medium-bodied & Fruity
The first red to come off the property is a winner. Blackberry and tobacco greet the nose, while blackberries and blueberry skin are the stars on the palate — it has a juiciness on the mid-palate before the nice tannin backbone takes hold on the finish. Score – 3 1/2+ Stars (out of 5). (Michael Pinkus, ontariowinereview.com, April 23, 2013) $39.95

Release Date:October 2, 2014
Alcohol/Vol 13.3% Made in: Ontario, Canada By: Cooper’s Hawk Vineyards Sugar Content: 5 g/L Sweetness Descriptor: XD – Extra Dry Style: Medium-bodied & Fruity
Description: Cabernet Franc is a critical component in many of Bordeaux’s greatest wines, and is one of the cornerstone grapes of Ontario winemaking. In Ontario, Cab Franc also creates top-flight single varietal wines.This is a VQA wine

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2013 Casa-Deea Dea’s Cuvee sparkling wine

I enjoy being close to two wine regions, Niagara and Prince Edward County. The wines from PEC are coming along nicely. Casa Dea has been doing some consistently good wines for a while now. This one, is just an example of that. I last wrote up the 2011 vintage of this wine so when I wanted a bubbly for New Years eve I reached for this one. Pale in color with a nice nose of minerality and citrus. On the mid pallet the wine matches the nose with a nice crisp dry wine showing notes of minerality and citrus. The bubbles are nice and fine. The wine is medium in length with the citrus lingering a bit. I would give this a solid 88. Very nice. Next time you want some bubbles give this one a try! Well done PEC …

From the LCBO web site:
Casa Dea Dea’s Cuvee Sparkling VQA — LCBO#: 261263
STYLE – Light & Fruity
Pale straw colour; light citrus aromas with mineral, yeasty and biscuit notes; off-dry with light apple and citrus fruit flavours. $18.95

Alcohol/Vol 12.5% Made in: Ontario, Canada By: Casa-Dea Vineyards Ltd Sugar Content: 28 g/L Style:Light & Fruity

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2012 Pepperjack Red

This is one of those kitchen sink blends. They throw everything into the mix other than the kitchen sink :) See below for the list. Interesting to see Austrailia growning Tempranillo, a tradional Spanish grape. Inky dark in color with a mild nose of black berries. On the mid palet the wine displays some firm black berries. The shiraz is shining through. On the mid pallet the wine displays some nice peppery notes along with some firm tannins and acidity. This is a nice wine despite the blend. I would give it an 88-89. You can easily pair this with some heavy meats and it will definitely hold it’s own. Quite a nice wine.

From the LCBO web site:
Pepperjack Red 2012 — VINTAGES#: 393801
Fresh and lively, this offers precise flavors and fine-grained tannins, with lingering raspberry, dark plum and floral notes. Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Malbec, Grenache, Sangiovese, Cabernet Franc and Tempranillo. Drink now through 2019. Score – 91. (Harvey Steiman, winespectator.com, May 31, 2014) $24.95

From the winery’s web site:
TECHNICAL ANALYSIS
Harvest Date: March – May 2012 pH: 3.6 Acidity: 6.4g/L Alcohol: 14.44% Residual Sugar: 1.0g/L
Bottling Date: August 2013
GRAPE VARIETY
Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Malbec, Grenache, Sangiovese, Cabernet Franc, Tempranillo

MATURATION
This wine was matured in a combination of French and American oak for 12 months.

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2012 McGregor Vineyards Reserve Cab Franc

Back in the summer we took a trip down to the finger lakes and I was impressed enough to buy a number of wines at the winery. This is one of those. Dark in color with a nice smooth red berry nose. On the mid pallet the wine matches the nose with lovely bold rich rd berry notes, a traditional fruit forward cab franc. There’s a hint of sweetness on the tongue. On the medium length finish the wine displays some smooth tannins along with some nice dryness. This is a nice well made cab franc. I would give it an 89 or so. We paired it with a tenderloin steak and it went very well. Yum. $24.95 a bottle at the winery (not in the LCBO). If your in the area of the finger lakes be sure and stop in at McGregor. Their wine tasting room is eclectic and unique. With picnic tables and courteous staff wandering around with bottles of wine for you to sample. And to top it off you walk away with a McGregor wine glass as a keep sake!

From the back of the bottle:
This estate frown Cab Franc is a medium bodied dry and complex wine. Aromas and flavors of raspberry, cherry, cedar and hints of oak mingle with soft tannins and lead to a long lingering finish. Our reserve designation is used on a wine that displays outstanding varietal character, balance and superior quality.

2012 Cabernet Franc (bottle)

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Pondview Bella Terra Chardonnay 2011

I was walking through the local LCBO and Neils Wandler from Pondview was sampling Pondview’s wine so I gave this one a try. I liked it so much I bought three bottles. Golden in color with a nice albeit mild chard nose. On the mid pallet the wine displays some lovely chard fruit along with some nice vanilla notes. Slightly creamy in texture. Medium in length with some firm acidity on the finish. Not too much to be called bitter, just enough to add some character. This is an excellent California style chard and probably one of the best Chards coming out of Ontario that I have tasted to date, even ones costing a whole lot more. Hats off to Pondview. I would give it an 89-90. Yumm. We paired it with pan fried sea scallops and it went perfectly. Grab a bottle or 3 if you can while you can.

From the winery’s web site:
This is a Chardonnay we’re very proud of. It’s our first wine that has won a medal in France. It won a bronze medal at the Chardonnay du Monde international Chardonnay competition in France. Out of 872 Chardonnays from 42 countries, we were the only winery from Ontario to win anything. It was fermented and aged in French, American and Hungarian barrels for 11 months. This full bodied wine has sweet aromas of ripe pineapple, pink grapefruit with a hint of butterscotch. The palate is fresh with green apples and citrus with a long soft finish of vanilla cream.

From Neils:
Awards
2013 Chardonnay du Monde – Bronze
2013 Intervin – Bronze
2013 National Wine Awards of Canada – Bronze

Out of 872 Chardonnays from 42 countries, PondView Estate Winery was the only Ontario winery to win anything at Chardonnay du Monde.

From the LCBO web site:
Pondview Bella Terra Chardonnay 2011 — VINTAGES#: 347922
Spent nine months in 80% French oak … On the nose you’re going to get some buttery, baked apple and vanilla cream notes. On the palate it’s got peach and some butter-poached pear, a little tropical fruit; you’re also going to find mid-palate some vanilla and butterscotch, which is really lovely … On the finish there’s a kind of bitterness – call it the acidity, call it some sort of citrus … [that] balances out all those rich barrel notes and that rich fruitiness … Score – 89. (Michael Pinkus, OntarioWineReview Video, July 19, 2013) $24.95

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2012 Cannonball Cab Sauv

From CanadianWineguy and I we wish you and your family a happy, and safe New Years Eve. Imbibe something good to make it a memorable night!

Who doesn’t love a cannonball? Well that’s exactly what’s on the label! I last reviewed the 2009 Vintage of this wine and enjoyed it. I bought a bunch of the 2010 and put it in the cellar. Not that his is a huge aging wine but none the less, it will keep for a bit. Dark in color with a nice mild nose of red berries. On the mid pallet the starts out as a lovely typical fruit forward California cab, lots of red berries, and cherries. On the medium length finish the wine displays some mild tannins and hint of pepper. I would give this an 88-89. Quite a nice wine if your into cabs as I am. This should keep for a good couple of years.

From the LCBO web site:
Cannonball Cabernet Sauvignon — VINTAGES#: 291666 $22.95
Alcohol/Vol 13.8% Made in: California, USA By: Cannonball Wine And Spirits, Llc. Sugar Content: 7 g/L

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2010 Mission Hill Quatrain

I had the absolute pleasure of being invited to the Marc Anthony portfolio tasting where this wine was being poured. I enjoyed it so much I bought a case. And then took one of the bottles to my family Christmas gathering. There are some real wine gurus in my family so I choose the wines I take carefully. Dark in color with a lovely nose of dark and red berries. On the mid pallet the wine displays lovely red berries, cherries and some black berries. There’s some nice chocolate notes as well. On the long finish the wine displays firm tannins, typical of Okanagan wines. Right out of the bottle the tannins were a little over powering. The wine is a little young. After about an hour of breathing they had died down nicely leaving some firm tannins, some nice complexity and some nice long dryness. This is a lovely well made wine. I would give it a solid 90. If you have folks that don’t get a chance to try BC wines this is an excellent choice. It rarely comes to the LCBO to order by the 6 bottle case from Marc Anthony for $39.95 delivered to your door. Yummm. Be sure and serve it with a hearty dish to hold up to this wine! If your looking for a smooth easy drinking wine … look elsewhere, wimps need not apply :)

From the winery’s web site:
2010 Quatrain A Quatrain is a poem or stanza that is always composed of four lines.

This 2010 hallmark wine is similarly composed of four grape varieties:
Merlot 40%, Syrah 20%, Cabernet Sauvignon 20%, Cabernet Franc 20%.

The grapes were selected from the best blocks within our estates in Osoyoos and Oliver. They were hand harvested, hand sorted, and gravity filled in small lots to French oak fermenters. After extended maceration, the free run wine and a portion of lightly basket pressed wine was aged separately in a selection of 100% French oak barrels for 12 months.

The 2010 Quatrain is an elegant wine, boasting red berry, black cherry, eucalyptus and cedary spice aromas and flavours. Syrah adds a juicy-fleshy texture to this uncommon blend, lending a seamless profile of ripe fruit, dark chocolate and spice to the gutsy structure of the three dominating Bordeaux varietals.

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Carmen 2011 Gran Reserva Cab Sauv mini review

Another one from the Chilean wine festival. Dark in color with a mild nose of lovely red berries. On the mid pallet the wine displays red cherries to match the nose. A nice varietal cab sauv. On the medium length finish the wine displays some super dryness, along with some smooth tannins. There’s some acidit as well but well under control. This is a lovely Cab Sauv 88-89. $15.95.

From the LCBO web site:
Carmen Gran Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon
Cabernet Sauvignon—LCBO#: 358309
STYLE – Full-bodied & Smooth
Deep red/violet colour; aromas of plum, blackcherry fruit, leather and mocha; dry, medium to full body, ripe cassis, blackberry & mint flavours, well balanced, with moderate tannins. $15.95

Release Date:January 11, 2003
Alcohol/Vol 14.0% Made in: Chile By:Vina Carmen Sugar Content: 6 g/L Sweetness Descriptor:XD – Extra DryStyle:Full-bodied & Smooth Varietal:Cabernet Sauv

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2009 Kacaba Cab Sauv

Inky dark in color with a nice nose of dark berries. On the mid pallet the wine displays some lovely dark cherries along with some nice dryness, some tannins and a bit of acidity. This one is still showing it’s fruit well. We paired it with maple coated salmon and it held it’s own but the dryness and complexity of the finish was much more noticeable without food. I would give it an 89 or so. $24.95 at the winery.

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Holiday Wine Suggestions December 2014

‘Tis the season to drink wine (as if we needed any reason). As always, John and I will get asked “what wines should I bring to dinner” or “can you suggest a few bottles of wines for over the holidays”. So to preempt this, here are five wines we each suggest (so 10 total) that are in the LCBO currently, and will not make you stand out when you present it at the front door. Have a safe holiday and here is to some good wine!!

Canadian Wine Guy suggests:

2011 Tawse Robyn’s Block Chardonnay, $45.95. We reviewed it here.
2012 Henry of Pelham Baco Noir Reserve, $24.95. Review coming!
2012 Hidden Bench Estate Pinot Noir, $29.95. Review Coming!
N.V. Château des Charmes Brut Methode Traditionelle, $22.95. A great value traditional methode bubbly, review coming soon!
2012 Flat Rock Cellars Gravity Pinot Noir, $29.95. 2011 review here.

John Galea suggests:

2011 Columbia Crest H3 Cabernet Sauvignon, $19.95. Review can be found here.
2013 Oyster Bay Sauvignon Blanc, $18.95, 2014 is about to hit the shelfs, 2013 reviewed here.
2012 Sterling Vintners Chardonnay, $15.95. Review can be found here.
2012 Fielding Estates Cabernet Franc, $21.95. Reviewed here.
2009 Castello di Neive Barbaresco DOCG, $19.90. An older review of the 2005 here.

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Bordón Gran Reserva 2005

Dark in color with a nice nose of black berries. On the mid pallet the wine displays some lovely dark berries, and some chocolate notes along with some oak. On the medium length finish the wine displays some nice firm tannins, some dryness all backed by some acidity. The tannins coat the pallet nicely. This is a nicely complex wine. Not the biggest tempranillo I’ve ever had but quite nice. I would give it an 89 or so. And when you look at how long this wine should keep, 2020, this wine is definitely worth your attention. Accoding to the back of the bottle the wine is 80% tempranillo 16% Garnacha, 2% Mazuelo, and 2% Graciano and spent 3 years aging in American White oak (doesn’t say if there were new or old barrels).

From the LCBO web site:
Bordón Gran Reserva 2005
Tempranillo Blend — VINTAGES#: 114454
Bordón Gran Reserva 2005
This plump red offers juicy flavors of cherry, berry and orange peel, with tobacco and vanilla notes that float in a silky texture over light tannins. Delicate and elegant. Drink now through 2020. Score – 92. (Thomas Matthews, winespectator.com, June 30, 2014) $22.95
Release Date:October 25, 2014 Alcohol/Vol 13.0% Made in: Rioja, Spain By: Bodegas Franco-Españolas Sugar Content:5 g/L Sweetness Descriptor:XD – Extra D

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2012 Fielding Red Conception

Niagara makes some great Cab Francs, and Fielding is one of my favorite wineries doing consistent stuff in the bench. This wine is 68% cab Franc 18% cab Sauv 8% Syrah 6% Petit-Verdot. The back of the bottle says the concept behind this wine was to create a unique blend of premium varietals that integrated together harmoniously. The wine was aged in oak barrels and results in an approachable blend with soft tannins and rich flavors.

Dark in color with a mild varietal cab franc nose. On the mid pallet the wine screams cab franc with lovely cherry coming through. On the medium length finish the wine displays some nice tannins along with some acidity, and a hint of pepper. This is a lovely cab franc, approachable now. It will hold up well to red meats and the like. Fielding have done a great job of making what I would refer to as an everyday red, or an entry level cab franc. I would give it an 88-89. Very nice.

From the LCBO web site:
Fielding Red Conception VQA Blend — LCBO#: 189183
STYLE – Medium-bodied & Fruity
Garnet with brick edges; cassis and cherry aromas with coffee and smoky notes; light cherry and plum fruit with lively acidity and smooth tannins Score – 4 Stars (out of 5). (Rod Phillips, rodphillipsonwine.com, June 22, 2010) $18.95

Release Date:May 28, 2011 Alcohol/Vol 13.0% Made in: Ontario, Canada By: Fielding Estate Winery Sugar Content:5 g/L Sweetness Descriptor:XD – Extra Dry Style: Medium-bodied & Fruity This is a VQA wine

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Leira Albariño 2013

I last reviewed the 2010 vintage of this wine and enjoyed it. Pale in color with a slightly crisp, slightly sweet nose. On the mid pallet the wine displays some crisp citrus notes along with a hint of sugar. On the medium length finish the wine displays a hint of honeysuckle (think Riesling). But just a hint. It’s a reasonably food friendly wine. 88-89. A nice Alvarinho. I did notice the wine was sweeter when served cold and got crisper and more complex as it warmed up.

From the LCBO web site:
Leira Albariño 2013 Alvarinho/Albariño — VINTAGES#: 115816
STYLE – Light & Crisp
Bright, juicy, and fresh with vivacious aromas of spring meadow, apple orchard, and fresh hay, plus flavours of apple, white peach, and citrus. A good choice for herbed chicken breast or seafood. (VINTAGES panel, Aug. 2014)
$17.95

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2011 Flat Rock Cellars Gravity Pinot Noir

What can $30 bucks buy you that will stand out a bit from the crowd? Honestly, when it comes to wine, $30 can get you (at last count) 237 good bottles of wine (note: that figure was entirely made up). I think thirty is the figure where anyone walking into a wine store should walk out with a good bottle of wine. If you don’t, you’ve been robbed. This review will be short, however John has covered, in the past, a review on Flat Rock Cellars estate Pinot Noir. This review is for their bottle of Gravity, one of 4 higher end pinots that the vineyard produces. The winemaker calls this their “Best of the Best”, where the other 3 are all single vineyard pinots, designed to show off wine-making skills and terroir.

A vibrant red colour and a sharp berries hit your nose as you decant it. The nose stays on the berries, primarily raspberries and blackberries. The 18 months in French oak are present with vanilla and cinnamon flavours with hints of earthiness. While the winemaking is considered to be on the gentle side, this is still a medium body red that is consistent with a good finish length. The alcohol content is lower than what you would expect (12.5%) and the wine drinks older than it is. This is a very solid wine that displays everything you want in a “drink now” wine for the holiday season. Enjoy!

The CWG Subjective Rating is 89 out of 100.

2011_Gravity_Pinot

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2011 Tawse Robyn’s Block Chardonnay

In advance of our 10 wines for the holidays article, I thought I’d cover a few must drink wines. Tawse still remains the one Chardonnay producer from Niagara that I compare the rest of their competitors to. The oldest of the single vineyard chards to come out of this top-tier vineyard, yearly this is their benchmark wine. As a flagship wine it carries a higher price ($45.95) if you think solely locally, however this wine is relatively cheap compared to its Burgundy and Napa peers. To get into this quality you are likely to shell out 20 to 100% more money buying its global counterparts, something that still remains lost on many Canadian buyers. I can think of at least ten producers in Canada that can bring their top Chardonnays and compete with the best, yet I often still hear people complain about the price for those same Canadian wines. I am not sure when, if ever, this mindset will change, but the large U.S.A. wine publications are doing our producers no favours either by basically ignoring them entirely. If you want to truly impress your wine snob friends, this is one of the wines I recommend bringing to them. I live that moto as the last time I met Bill Phelps (of Joseph Phelps Vineyards and Insignia fame) I brought him one of the 2009 vintages of this wine as a gift. Enough of my soap-box chatter, let us get on to the wine itself. This wine spends the first 12 months of its life in French oak before being transferred to steel for 6 more months. Despite the pictures on Tawse website, this wine is in fact sealed with a traditional cork and not a twist top, maybe a fact that would only concern me. On to the tasting!

This light straw yellow coloured wine splashed into the glass with hints of citrus fruit and vanilla. The nose gives way to lime on the front and caramel on the back, a long way back in the mouth. Acidity is much like the rest of this wine, solid. The wine goes back to front evenly, the fruit is consistent and oaking has given this excellent toasty notes. Add in some good minerality and you have a very well-rounded and polished wine. One of the nicest things I get out of this is how exciting this wine should evolve with some cellaring. Despite being a big complete wine now, it should mellow to change just enough to add different character and maybe even unleash something more complex. This wine is one of the reasons Niagara is getting more and more recognition at international competitions. Between this and the recent Hidden Bench Felseck Chardonnay, I have been fortunate to have two brilliant wines to enjoy. Hopefully you get a chance as well.

The CWG Subjective Rating is 92 out of 100.

2011_Robyns_chard

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2011 Hidden Bench Felseck Chardonnay

I know that at www.canadianwineguy.com we laud the Chardonnays that come out of the Niagara region, but truly, enough cannot be said about them. As the region continues to mature the Burgundy varietals get stronger and grander. Hidden Bench is a vineyard I usually speak highly of for their Pinots and often times I tend to exclude them (by accident) when talking about some of Ontario’s great Chardonnay producers. This is such a huge error as the vineyard has been producing great to world-class Chardonnays for many years and if you have not had a chance to visit the property you need to remedy that. While I am sure the winemaker does not want to see their wines silo’d off, they do produce three distinctive Chards: an estate blend on their lowest end (which year to year is very good); the single vineyard we are about to review; and their flagship Tête de Cuvée which borders on amazing every year. This vineyards wine club is still the best way to get your hands on their wines as often times the production volume is quite low and very few Hidden Bench wines ever see the light of day in the LCBO, with almost nothing leaving the province. The Felseck vineyard, planted in 1992, sits on the Beamsville Bench and remains a very impressive demonstration of new world terroir. For today’s review the 2011 vintage will be reviewed, but I will make a promise to pop some older vintages over the holidays and do some comparisons.

This wine pours out in an aureolin shade of yellow with a very toasty nose. The bold colour is a good indicator of what is to follow. Initial sips open up crisp apple flavours with more hints of that toast flavour from the barreling. First thing you will notice is the acidity, while it is not overwhleming it is distinctively there and it lingers in your mouth. The wine starts early on your palate and lingers long after it has been drunk. Vanilla and apples will be your largest take-aways, but mostly you will be enjoying a bold, crisp Chardonnay. I sat a long time whirling and sipping, each time something a tad different came out. I have to say I probably spent more time analyzing this then I should have, and more than anything I came back with “I love this wine but I cannot put my finger on why.” Great balance, firm acidity, subtle hints of malolactic fermentation with a long finish are something you get out of a well-crafted wine.

The CWG Subjective Rating is 91 out of 100.

Some additional notes:
– This wine was featured this summer in the Cool Climate Chardonnay release from LCBO Vintages
– This wine won a Silver medal at this year NWAC awards.

2011_Felseck_Chardonnay

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Kaiken Terroir Series Corte Cabernet Sauvignon 2011

Dark in color with a lovely nose of red berries. On the mid pallet the wine displays some deep lovely red cherry and cassis flavors. Quite intense. There’s even a little black berries coming through likely from the Malbec. On the medium length finish the wine displays some nice tannins, dryness and acidity that linger nicely in the mouth. I would give this a solid 89-90 and for the $$s this is a good deal!

From the LCBO web site:
Kaiken Terroir Series Corte Cabernet Sauvignon 2011
Cabernet Sauvignon Blend — VINTAGES#: 384305
Smooth, dark, and generous Cabernet (with 12% Malbec and 8% Petit Verdot in support) gushing with cassis, smoky oak, and spice. Big-boned and packed with flavour, it’s got the stuff to stand up to pepper steaks or bison burgers. (VINTAGES panel, Oct. 2013) $15.95
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