Thursday, May 26, 2011

Stock Up for Patio Season - Wine Selections for the LCBO May 28 Release

If you have been saving for a rainy day, our latest weather patterns indicate that the “day” has arrived and what better way to spend it than on a nice bottle of wine. The May 28th release features the wines of California and Alsace, but my selections are quite wide and varied. There are several wonderful reds from Australia, Chile, Italy, Spain and the US; two delightful Rosé and an inexpensive sparkling made traditionally in Burgundy.
With regard to local produce, we are starting to see the first of the new season with asparagus, fiddle heads, ramps (wild leeks) and dandelion greens. I will post some recipes that feature these products and the wines that pair nicely.
P.S.  For the second year I am participating in the Princess Margaret Ride to Conquer Cancer. It is a 2-day, 200 mile cycling adventure that will raise over $14 million for cancer research. My goal is to raise at least $3,000 this year and it would be great if you could help me achieve this. Please click on this link to donate to this wonderful cause:

Premium Red Wines (under $25)

I Greppi Greppicante Bolgheri 2007, Doc; Tuscany, Italy
LCBO #170381;  Rating – 90;  $23.95
A modern Bordeaux style blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc that is very polished and attractive. Well focused with excellent length. Drink now through to 2016.

Villa Mt. Eden Grand Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2006, Napa Valley, California, USA
LCBO #706275;  Rating – 90;  $24.95
David Lawrason from Wine Align describes this best “This has very good substance and cabernet character for the price - better than some California heavyweights at two or three times the money. It is a fairly dense, dark and reserved cabernet with a well integrated nose of chocolate, currants, dried herbs and leather. Quite full bodied and well extracted with firm but not austere tannin, and very good to excellent length. Best now to 2016.

Red Wines (under $20)

Plunkett Fowles Stone Dwellers Merlot 2008, Strathbogie Ranges, Victoria Australia
LCBO #221838; Rating – 91;  $19.95
Made in the style of great Bordeaux wines this is medium to full bodied with very good length. For the price it is the best value of the release. Grab a few bottles before it disappears! Drink now or over the next five years.

Emiliana Winemaker's Selection Syrah 2009, La Quebrada, Casablanca Valley Chile
LCBO #212407;  Rating – 90;  $18.95
This is a blend of 88% Syrah, 7% Merlot and 5% Viognier. The nose is of black pepper, cherry, smoke and vanilla. Would pair well with bbq’ed ribs in a spicy sauce.  Excellent length. Drink now, or over the next five years.

Apollonio Terragnolo Primitivo 2004, Igt Salento Rosso; Puglia, Italy
LCBO #211813;  Rating – 89;  $17.95
This wine from the 2004 vintage is ready to drink now, medium-full bodied with very good length. Ideal for grilled ribs or steaks on the bbq.

Domaine Mercouri Red 2006, Vin De Pays Des Letrinon, Greece
LCBO #652974;  Rating – 89;  $18.95
An old school traditional style red, that reminds of Italy’s nebbiolo. Medium weight with very good to excellent length.

Coto De Imaz Reserva 2004, Doca Rioja, Spain
LCBO #23762;  Rating – 89;  $19.95
This seven year old wine is ready to drink now. A traditional Rioja that is mid-weight with very good to excellent finish. Drink now to 20 14.

Westside Red Troublemaker Blend 1, Paso Robles, California, USA
LCBO #682831;  Rating – 89;  $19.95
How can you go wrong with a name like this? A blend of 53% syrah, 37% mourvedre and 10% grenache from the 2008 and 2007 vintages, with a bit of 2009 added for brightness.  This full bodied wine has excellent length and is full of flavour. Drink now to 2015.

Banfi Centine 2008, Igt Toscana, Tuscany, Italy
LCBO #980649;  Rating – 88;  $8.95 for 375ml
This half-bottle is a blend of Sangiovese (60%), Cabernet Sauvignon (20%) and Merlot. It is medium bodied with a smooth finish that is drinkable now. Perfect for that mid-week Pasta Puttanesca dinner with grilled Sweet Italian Sausage. Click here for the recipe.

White Wines (under $20)

Ken Forrester Chenin Blanc 2009, Wo Stellenbosch, South Africa
LCBO #231282;  Rating – 90;  $17.95
This is a quite rich, honeyed, spicy style. It's medium-full bodied, dry and well extracted with excellent length. Try pairing it with roast chicken or lemon pepper grilled salmon.

Louis Robin Chablis 2009, Ac, Burgundy, France
LCBO #210831;  Rating – 89;  $19.95
Sitting on a patio, a lovely chilled Chablis in your glass …does life get any better? This mid-weight wine fills the bill with its minerality and essences of lemon-lime and apple on the finish. Great wine for the price. Pair with Chevre from prince Edward County’s  Fifth Town Artisan Cheese. Available at Culinarium on Mt. Pleasant.

Angels Gate Mountainview Chardonnay 2008, VQA Beamsville Bench, Ontario, Canada
LCBO #116384;  Rating – 88;  $18.95
A nice example of the world class Chardonnays that are being made right here in Ontario. A well balanced wine that is great for sipping over the next three years.

The Winery Of Good Hope Bush Vine Chenin Blanc 2009, Wo Stellenbosch, South Africa
LCBO #158121;  Rating – 88;  $11.95
John Szabo calls this a ‘Top Value Alert’.  His review; “the palate is light-medium bodied, refreshingly citrus and orange/lime/grapefruit flavoured, with lightly honeyed notes and a touch of wood, then comes the beautiful balance and refined texture, and a finish than lingers on and on. And then you check the price and say wow, that's an outstanding value. A beautiful, balanced wine built on elegance and drinkability.

Rosé Wines  (Don’t Skip this Section!!)

Rosé wines got a bad rap due to the cheap wines produced and marketed in the 70’s and 80’s. There are some truly great Rosé wines that are great for summer bbq’s and parties.
Château De Trinquevedel Tavel Rosé 2010, Ac; Rhone, France
LCBO #729947;  Rating – 89;  $17.95
From John Szabo “Finally a dry rosé with some character and class - you can tell that this is an appellation dedicated to rosé wines rather than one that allows them as an afterthought.” Medium full-bodied with very good to excellent length.

Emiliana Adobe Reserva Rosé Syrah 2010, Rapel Valley Chile
LCBO #229690; Rating – 88;  $11.95
Very well balanced, dry and refreshing. A Rosé with excellent character for the money.


It is not commonly known, but sparkling wines will pair well, with virtually any food. So if you are ever stumped, or you’re serving a mix of food that would require several different pairings, your ‘go to’ wine is Sparkling. BTW, only wines produced in the Champagne region may be called ‘Champagne’. However, using the same traditional wine making techniques there are many great wines available from around the world and at reasonable prices.

Veuve Ambal Brut Crémant De Bourgogne, Ac; Burgundy, France
LCBO #209619; Rating – 88;  $15.95
This is a well-balanced, dry and crisp sparkler from Burgundy. The flavour intensity, depth and length are worth far more than the asking price. Mid-weight, with very good length. Great value.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

LCBO / Vintages - May 14, 2011 Release

This looks like a good weekend to do some wine shopping, as the forecast shows rain for the next 5 days. Last weekend I went to Prince Edward County to do some wine tasting. The winemakers there are taking full advantage of the climate and terroir (limestone similar to Burgundy France) and are producing world class chardonnay. The pinot noir is up and coming and the tastings we had with Norman Hardy were fantastic. If you get a chance, it's a beautiful area to visit and to enjoy great food and wine ...and beautiful quiet roads to cycle on.
The release this week is good, but not spectacular. I really like the Mulderbosch Chardonnay from South Africa. Also, try the Muscat from Greece, this is a lovely dessert wine and the price is right. For Port lovers there is a LBV Port for $19.95 that should hit the spot with some nice blue cheese or aged cheddar.
Enjoy and let me know what you like or dislike from this release.


As BBQ season approaches, one of my favourite meals is a roasted leg of lamb. For quick grilling (30 to 40 minutes) a butterflied, boneless leg is great. For the bone-in leg, you need slower more controlled cooking. For both the marinade is very important and I recommend a minimum of 8 hours, but preferably over night. Here is the link to what I am cooking tonight.

Slow Roasted Leg of Lamb with Mint and Lemon


Vincent Girardin Les Vieilles Vignes Pouilly Fuissé 2008, Ac; Burgundy, France

207894; Rating 92; $24.95

David Lawrason compares this fresh, dry crisp Burgundian Chardonnay with the wonderful wines being made in Ontario’s Prince Edward County. (on a side note, I had the pleasure of trying some of these PEC wines last weekend and they were truly world class) Great wine for the price. Pair with lobster or crab dishes.


Mayu Reserva Carmenère 2007, Elqui Valley, Coquimbo Chile

90035; Rating – 90; $14.95

This is a marvellous red for the money. It is peppery with raisin and raspberry nuances. Try with pepper steak.

Alain Jaume Grande Garrigue Vacqueyras 2009, Ac Rhone, France

233916; Rating – 90; $22.95

Balanced, concentrated and structured, Jaume's Vacqueyras has the depth of many solid Châteauneuf-du-Pape, if not quite the length or complexity. Needs some more time, best 2012 to 2017.

Mas Des Bressades Cabernet/Syrah 2008, Vins De Pays Du Gard; Languedoc Roussillon (Midi), France

712174; Rating – 89; $18.95

This is a blend that is 70% Cabernet and 30% Syrah. Medium weight, smooth and dense with very good length. Enjoy now through 2014.

Marchesi Torrigiani Torre Di Ciardo 2006, Igt Toscana Tuscany, Italy

212084; Rating – 89; $19.95

This is a blend of sangiovese, canaiolo and merlot from a coastal vineyard in Tuscany. It pours with bright, moderately deep and mature garnet colour. It’s mid-weight, nicely harmonized if a bit dry on the finish. Good to very good length. Ready to enjoy now or hold another two to three years.

La Coterie Séguret 2009, Ac Côtes Du Rhône Villages; Rhone, France

219428; Rating – 88; $15.95

A young fresh rhone for current and easy drinking. It’s mid-weight with very good length. Best now to 2015. Try it with roasted leg of lamb.

Elementos Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 Argentina

218974; Rating – 87; $12.95

Here's a pleasant, firm, flavourful, ripe but not raisined example of Argentine cabernet, with more than enough flavour intensity and length for the price. Solid value.

Ondarre Reserva 2004, Doca Rioja Spain

723452; Rating – 89; $19.95

Maturing now, but shows balance and very good length. Still fresh, this brings you back for another sip. Drink now through 2016.


Dog Point Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc 2010, Marlborough, South Island New Zealand

677450; Rating – 89; $19.95

Intense, lively wine with lemon zest, gooseberry, green capsicum and a suggestion of passion fruit. Tangy, mouth-watering Sauvignon Blanc with character.

Quails' Gate Chardonnay 2008, VQA Okanagan Valley British Columbia, Canada

377770; Rating – 89; $19.95

Sixty-five percent was barrel fermented (only 20% of the barrels were new) and the remainder was fermented in stainless steel. This gave winemaker Grant Stanley the opportunity to blend a fruit-forward wine with only subtle oak, in a style deliberately different from the winery’s reserve Chardonnay. Mid-weight, drink now or wait a year.

Mulderbosch Chardonnay 2009, Wo Stellenbosch South Africa

717090; Rating – 89; $19.95

His always one of my favourites. This is a lighter style of chardonnay - quite zesty and refreshing but still sporting some chardonnay richness. Nicely integrated and fairly complex aromas of spice, nougat, tobacco and dried apple. It has very good length with a taut, almost stony finish.


Kourtaki Muscat, Aoqs Samos; Greece

938407; Rating – 92; $14.95

A wonderful fruity sweet dessert wine that is medium to full bodied. Aromas of mango and tropical citrus pairs this well with ice creams or cheese. A great buy for the price.

Cálem Lbv Port 2004, Doc Douro, Btld. 2010 Portugal

912550; Rating – 90; $19.95

Fresh and attractive fruit and berry flavours. Great value.