Thursday, June 30, 2011

Ontario Wines to Savour for Canada Day!

Hi Everyone …as we look forward to celebrating this great country’s 144th Birthday, why not do so  with some of the great wines produced so close to home. I have selected 4 reds and 4 whites and offered food pairing for each. Give them a try and let me know what you think.

Have a safe and happy Canada Day Weekend …Greg


Jackson Triggs Delaine Vineyard Cabernet/Merlot 2007, VQA Niagara Peninsula
Ontario, Canada
989269; Rating – 90;  $22.95
From the great 2007 vintage year which was hot and dry. A Bordeaux style wine with excellent length that is drinkable now, but will get better over the next 2 to 3 years. Pair with grilled butterflied leg of lamb.

Alvar 2008 Cabernet Merlot 2008, Ontario VQA
Ontario, Canada
435321;  Rating – 89; $13.95
This is a lovely blend from the Pelee Island area of Ontario. A mid-weight wine with very good length. Good value for the price. Pair with burgers and grilled red meats on the BBQ.

Wayne Gretzky Estates No. 99 Meritage 2007, Niagara Peninsula
Ontario, Canada
75689;  Rating – 89;  $15.95
A Bordeaux style blend that is light to mid-weight. It’s smooth with very good length and is drinkable now. A pleasant price and will pair well with a grilled rib-eye steak. Recipe here:

Inniskillin Varietal Series Pinot Noir 2009, Niagara Peninsula
Ontario, Canada
261099; Rating – 88;  $14.95
A light to medium bodied Pinot with good character. Appealing and easy to drink this wine will pair well with roast pork, grilled salmon or roast chicken.


Ontario wineries have produced top notch, world class Chardonnay and Riesling wines for the last decade and now we are starting to see some very good Sauvignon Blanc wines as well. Here are my three top picks in each category, plus a great value wine.

Cave Spring Chardonnay Estate (V) 2008, Beamsville Bench, Niagara Peninsula
Ontario, Canada
256552;  Rating – 90;  $18.95
A medium weight Chardonnay with elegance and intense flavours. Drink now through 2013. Very good length and will pair well with Roast Chicken and grilled lemon pepper salmon.

Jackson Triggs Proprietors’ Reserve Chardonnay 2008, Niagara Peninsula
Ontario, Canada
526251;  Rating – 88;  $10.95
Why choose Fusion or Yellow Tail when you can pick up this nice bottle for just over $10. The palate is full bodied creamy and rich with the oak supporting the rich fruit. Very good length with good focus. Pair with grilled salmon or a grilled chicken breast.

Malivoire Guilty Men Sauvignon Blanc 2009, VQA Niagara Peninsula
Ontario, Canada
186254; Rating – 89;  $16.50
Malivoire has created a wonderful Sauvignon Blanc to rival similar value wines from New Zealand. This medium bodied, with a fragrant nose and very good length. Pair with grilled scallops.

Vineland Estates Dry Riesling 2008, Niagara Peninsula
Ontario, Canada
167551; Rating – 88;  $13.95
This is one of the best value Rieslings from Ontario. It is light and fresh, smooth on the palate with very good length. Pair with lemon sole or roast chicken.

The Chef Upstairs
516 Mount Pleasant Rd.
Toronto ON
M4S 2M2

Friday, June 24, 2011

LCBO / Vintages - June 25, 2011 New Wines Release

The LCBO – Vintages release for June 25th features a plethora of great drinking reds that will work amazingly well with grilled meats for under $20. I am also featuring a “how to” this week on ‘Selecting, Seasoning and Grilling the Perfect Steak.’ This is a must read for all of you backyard grill masters.

Finally, I have listed a few good white “Sippers” and two excellent Rose from France’s Provence region. If you haven’t tried world class Rose, this is a good time to start.

Next week in Honour of Canada Day, I will feature my Top 10 Ontario wines. Until then, enjoy and don’t forget, “life’s too short to drink bad wine!”


Château Saint Roch De Laurens Faugères 2007, Ac; Languedoc Roussillon (Midi), France
LCBO #223685;  Rating – 91;  $18.95
A blend of Syrah/Mourverde/Grenache has produced a wine of incredible value, with a great rating for the price. Complexity, flavour and excellent length. Pair with grilled boneless leg of lamb or grilled flank steak.

Wynns Coonawarra Estate Shiraz 2008, Coonawarra, South Australia; Australia
LCBO #433060;  Rating – 91;  $19.95
A great value for under $20. An impressive and complex wine that is loaded with flavour. Excellent length and drink now or age for up to 10 years.

Perrin Les Cornuds Vinsobres 2009, Ac; Rhone, France
LCBO #241604;  Rating 90;  $15.00
Definitely a great value wine for this release. A blend of Grenache and Syrah, medium-full bodied with solid structure and complexity. Buy a case for all your summer BBQs. Drink now to 2020.

Rupert & Rothschild Classique 2008, Wo Coastal Region; South Africa
LCBO #717991;  Rating – 89;  $19.95
A joint venture with the famous Bordeaux family produces an old world style,  medium-full bodied cab-merlot blend with considerable elegance and excellent length. Drink now through 2016.

Torres Gran Coronas Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon 2007, Do Penedès; Spain (375ml / half bottle)
LCBO #626721;  Rating – 88;  $9.95
I love these little half bottles as it’s a perfect size for those nights when you’re home alone and you want to throw a nice 16oz man size T-bone on the bbq. This wine will not disappoint. It is a blend of 85% Cabernet Sauvignon and 15% Tempranillo. Medium-full bodied with very good length. Drink now or put a way for a few years.

Benmarco Cabernet Sauvignon 2009, Mendoza Argentina
LCBO #232637;  Rating – 88;  $16.95
This cab has been blended with 5% Merlot and 5% Cabernet Franc, producing a lovely fragrant and complex wine. It is medium-full bodied and well structured with very good to excellent length. Drink now through 2016.

Sebastiani Zinfandel 2008, Sonoma County; California, USA
LCBO #672667;  Rating – 88;  $17.95
It’s hard to find good reasonably priced “Zin” and this definitely fits the bill. A medium-full bodied wine that will pair nice with grilled flank steak or beef kebabs.

Zuccardi Q Cabernet Sauvignon 2007, La Consulta/Tupungato Vineyards, Mendoza, Argentina
LCBO #140855;  Rating – 88;  $19.95
This is a medium-full bodied cab that won’t disappoint. A little tannic now but still drinkable now through 2014.


Terredora Fiano Di Avellino 2009, Docg, Campania, Italy
LCBO #120048;  Rating – 90;  $18.95
As quoted by John Szabo from Wine Align; “Ripe, intense but not heavy, with pleasant orchard fruit, honey, hay, chamomile flowers - above average intensity and class. The palate has great depth and grip, with tight acids and superior depth and concentration. A very fine example of Campania's most noble white grape to be sure.” Good value.

Pedro Escudero Fuente Elvira Verdejo 2009, Do Rueda, Spain
LCBO #218313;  Rating – 89;  $13.95
This is a great Spanish sipper that features aromas of white peach, green tea, per and nectarine. It has depth of character and very good finish. Good value!

Sileni Cellar Selection Sauvignon Blanc 2010, Marlborough, South Island, New Zealand
LCBO #662882;  Rating – 89;  $15.95
This is good value, well balanced wine that makes for an excellent sipper. Try a bottle and compare to the Gretzky wine below.

No. 99 Wayne Gretzky Estates Estate Series Sauvignon Blanc 2008, VQA Ontario; Ontario, Canada
LCBO #230771;  Rating – 88;  $15.95
Ontario Sauvignon Blanc is starting to turn heads as this adaptable variety continues to establish a firm foothold in the winegrowing regions. The palate is wonderfully fresh with bright acids and vefry good length. This is a wine that will appeal to many and is a great sipper for the patio or dock. Way to go Wayne!


La Bastide Blanche Bandol Rosé 2010, Ac; Provence, France
LCBO #71084;  Rating – 91;  $21.95
This is a clean refreshing Rosé, with strawberry notes and above average complexity. Great depth and excellent length. Serve this as a starter for your next BBQ party.

Château La Tour De L'évêque Rosé 2010, Ac Côtes De Provence; Provence, France
LCBO #319392;  Rating – 90;  $18.95
Quoted from Vintages; “The cuisine of Provence seems to have a real affinity for the region’s best rosés. Very crisp and dry, this wine delivers flavours of strawberry, cranberry and spice. An ideal match for grilled shrimp with a homemade aioli (the great garlicky dipping sauce), or scallops pan-seared with butter and garlic.”  How can you go wrong with this?

Friday, June 10, 2011

LCBO / Vintages - June 11, 2011 Release

Hi Everyone ...this is one of my favourite weekends of the year. Not because there are some great wines being released at Vintages because it is my turn to give back to a cause that is very important to me. I will be participating in the Princess Margaret Hospital Ride to Conquer Cancer. It is an epic 2-day 200 mile bike ride that benefits cancer research. It is important to me, not only because I have lost over a dozen family and friends to this horrible disease, but because I know of more than 20 survivors who have beaten the odds and won. so yes, my bum will be sore, my knees will ache, my back will be stiff and my hands will be numb ...but in my mind, it is nothing compared to the toll that chemotherapy and radiation treatments can have on your body.
So please, if you haven't donated to this great cause, please support my ride by clicking on the link below's never too late to save a life!!  Donate to Greg's Ride to Conquer Cancer 


Wine Selections for the 06.11.11 Release

This week’s release features 5 wonderful reds scored at 90 and all for under $20. Each is a different style, so it is a good time to try a few and see for yourself the subtle differences terroir, climate and varietal can make in the finished product.

Alvento Elige 2007, VQA Niagara Peninsula; Ontario, Canada
LCBO #226019;  Rating – 90;  $19.95
If you only buy one wine from this release, this is the wine to try. It is a Bordeaux style blend with great colour, nose and excellent length. It is mid-weight, but will show best if cellared for a year or two. Buy one to try now and a few to drink later. Most people would never know that this was an Ontario wine!

Falernia Reserva Syrah 2007, Elquí Valley Chile
LCBO #208371;  Rating – 90;  $15.95
This is a wow from a region not known for Syrah. Made in the Rhone style with impressive flavour and very long finish. Drink now or even wait a year for it to develop more. Will pair beautifully with beef tenderloin and peppercorn sauce.

Château Bégadanet 2005, Ac Médoc; Bordeaux, France
LCBO #138875;  Rating – 90;  $17.95
This is another wow. A mature six year old Bordeaux for under $20 is time to celebrate. Very complex, with an intense nose and very good to excellent length. Drink now or over the next 5 to 7 years. Very food friendly, enjoy with a rack of lamb or with Roquefort, Beaufort or Emmental cheeses.

Château De Chatelard Les Vieux Granits Fleurie 2009, Ac; Beaujolais, France
LCBO #207886;  Rating – 90;  $17.95
This is a wonderful summer red to sip on the patio. Very smooth, medium weight and very good length.

La Sauvageonne Pica Broca 2008, Ac Coteaux Du Languedoc; Languedoc Roussillon (Midi), France
LCBO #223669;  Rating 90;  $18.95
A delicious blend of Syrah, Grenache and Carignan, it’s mid-weight, packed with flavour and has very good length. Enjoy with grilled steak.

Emiliana Winemaker's Selection Cabernet Sauvignon 2007, Los Morros, Maipo Valley; Chile
LCBO #208397;  Rating – 89;  $18.95
This is from an entirely organic estate. It is a medium-full bodied classic which is fairly dense and well balanced. Though, shame on the Vintner for using such a heavy bottle!

Monte Del Frá Bardolino 2010, Doc; Veneto, Italy
LCBO #134544;  Rating – 88;  $11.95
A great summer sipper for under $12! Medium bodied and good length. Serve with a slight chill and pair with grilled chicken or pork.

Zeni Costalago 2008, Igt Rosso Veronese; Veneto, Italy
LCBO #220848;  Rating – 88;  $14.95
From Sara d’Amato at Wine Align. “An attempt at a "super Venetian" blend of local Corvina with Cabernet and Merlot. Medium-to-full bodied, rich and a touch smoky. Blackberry, plum and some big, warm alcoholic notes. A hearty red that is best served with rich stews and smoked meat.” Drink now or over the next 2 years

This week I’m featuring four different style whites, that pair nicely with light summer fare.

Nicosia Etna Bianco 2009, Doc Etna; Sicily, Italy
LCBO #212928;  Rating – 88;  $13.95
A blend of local Sicilian varities with aromas of pear, melon, flint and white peach. An excellent sipper that will pair well with grilled fish or seafood pasta.

Domaine Des Malandes Chablis 2009, Ac; Burgundy, France
LCBO #111658;  Rating – 88;  $18.95
A very reasonably priced Chablis. Crisp and clean with very good length. Sip it on the deck or pair with grilled sole.

Famiglia Bianchi Chardonnay 2010, Mendoza; Argentina
LCBO #1461;  Rating – 87;  $12.95
Simple, soft and clean. A great value vs commercial styles such as Yellow Tail.

Arboleda Sauvignon Blanc 2010, Acongagua Valley, Chile
LCBO #510339;  Rating – 87;  $15.95
This winery is a partnership between Errazuriz and Robert Mondavi. They are dedicated to producing premium and super premium wines. This wine will not disappoint and is good value. Try with oysters on the half shell or just sip it on the dock. Very good length.