Saturday, November 26, 2011

10 Great Reds - LCBO/Vintages November 26th- New Wine Release

The November 26th Vintages release marks the LCBO’s best release of the year, as they bring out some of the top wines from Bordeaux, Tuscany and California. This week I will concentrate on the value wines under $25, while next week I will give you some great gift buying suggestions for your favourite wine lover or Blogger! I will talk about the best buys up to $50; up to $75; up to $100 and the anything goes category.

We are gearing up for a very busy holiday season at The Chef Upstairs. We still have a few lunch and dinner dates available for the weeks  of December 5th and 20th, so if you haven’t booked your party yet, now is the time to do it.
Also, if you have any youngsters in your life don’t forget about out Gingerbread House decorating classes on December 3rd, 10th and 17th. The classes are only $40 and the kids take home their creation and we clean up the mess.

Top 10 Red Wines under $25

Le Ferme Du Mont Le Ponnant Côtes Du Rhône Villages 2009, Ac; Rhone, France
LCBO #171371;  Rating – 90;  $17.95
This is a bright young Rhone wine, with lots of pepper and cedar notes. Very smooth with very good length. Pair it with a herb, pepper rubbed beef tenderloin.

Prado Rey Crianza 2006, Do Ribera Del Duero; Ribera Del Duero, Spain
LCBO #725820;  Rating = 90;  $20.95
A blend of 92% Tempranillo with Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. It is medium-full bodied with excellent length that will get better over the next 2 to 3 years.

Luis Gurpegui Muga Gonzalo De Berceo Reserva 2005, Doca Rioja; Rioja, Spain
LCBO #246744;  Rating – 90;  $20.95
This wine is mature and ready to drink now. Medium-full bodied with excellent length.

Cave De Roquebrun La Grange Des Combes Saint Chinian Roquebrun 2009, Ac; Languedoc Roussillon; (Midi), France
LCBO #155804;  Rating – 89;  $16.95
This is a lovely blend of syrah, Grenache and Mourvedre from the Languedoc region in the south of France. It’s medium weight, but needs two years to settle the tannins down.

Duca Di Salaparuta Passo Delle Mule Nero D'avola 2008, Igt Sicilia; Sicily, Italy
LCBO #250928;  Rating – 89;  $19.95
A very rustic and robust wine from Sicily that demands pairing with a savoury stew.

Geografico Montegiachi Chianti Classico Riserva 2007, Docg; Tuscany, Italy
LCBO #962142;  Rating – 89;  $23.95
A very nice mid-weight Riserva with good depth and complexity for the money. It’s drinkable now, but will develop more complexity in the nest 2 to 3 years. Pair it with your favourite tomato based pasta dish.

Valiano Poggio Teo Chianti Classico 2006, Docg, Castelnuovo Berardenga; Tuscany, Italy
LCBO #250563;  Rating – 88;  $17.95
This is one of the best value buys of the release. The complexity is above what you would expect for the price. Pair with meat lasagne or roast lamb.

Reichsrat Von Buhl Pinot Noir 2008, Qba; Pfalz, Germany
LCBO #249649;  Rating – 88;  $19.95
Who would expect Pinot from the land of Blue Nun? It’s a lighter wine with a nice nose and balance. Give it a try and compare to similarly priced Pinot.

Domaine Pierre & Fils Cuvée Elisyces Minervois 2007, Ac; Languedoc Roussillon (Midi), France
LCBO #251504;  Rating – 88;  $ 19.95
A very nice blend that delivers bang for the buck. It has a very long finish and is a nice winter sipping wine.

Palacio De Sada Crianza 2006, Do Navarra; Navarra, Spain
LCBO #246736;  Rating – 87;  $14.95
A well structured wine that is a great buy at $15. It’s medium bodied and will pair nicely with your roast turkey.

5 Best White Wines under $20

Momo Pinot Gris 2010, Marlborough, South Island; Marlborough, New Zealand
LCBO #163535;  Rating – 90;  $18.95
A lovely mid-weigh pinot gris with flavours of peach and pear. This wine would pair nicely with a poached pear salad with goat’s cheese.

Amani Chardonnay 2009, Wo Stellenbosch; Stellenbosch, South Africa
LCBO #687442;  Rating – 89;  $17.95
This is a nice clean polished chardonnay that has moderate oak. It’s medium weight with excellent length. Try with grilled salmon with a light lemon dill rub.

Terrazas De Los Andes Reserva Torrontés 2010, Salta; Mendoza, Argentina
LCBO #243238;  Rating – 88;  $14.95
This is a nicely refined wine with considerable depth. It’s worth the try at this price. Pair it with a fennel green apple salad to bring it’s nose to life.

Grotta Del Sole Falanghina Dei Campi Flegrei 2009, Doc; Campania, Italy
LCBO #247940;  Rating – 88; $15.95
This is a fresh lemony, dry wine that will pair nicely with a light white fish.

Belcanto Di Bellussi Extra Dry Prosecco Di Valdobbiadene Superiore, Docg, Veneto, Italy; Veneto, Italy
LCBO #53215;  Rating – 88;  $17.95
A very fine sparkling wine that’s mid-weight and nicely balanced with very good to excellent length. Serve up a bottle to start your Christmas dinner or I hear that it’s also great on the golf course.

Friday, November 11, 2011

4 Great Italian Reds – Vintages Release - November 12, 2011

Interactive Holiday Parties at The Chef Upstairs with Wine Pairing
There is no other venue in Toronto where you can climb into the kitchen and work side by side with one of our amazing chefs. It is a party, a cooking class and a wine and food pairing event that will leave you and your guests raving for days after and many of the wines that we use for pairing come right from this bi-weekly blog.
Our calendar is filling up quickly for the holiday season, so call us now before it’s too late. We are booking both lunches and dinners.
Call us at 416.544.9221 or send an email to

Vintages release for November 12, 2011

Another wonderful pre-holiday release. Try the Chenin Blanc from South Africa for sipping and stock up on the Italian reds for winter dinners and don’t forget to pick up the two sparkling wines listed below. They will be gone by New Years eve!
Red wines under $20
Ferraton Père & Fils La Matinière Crozes Hermitage 2009, Ac; Rhone, France
LCBO #127712; Rating – 90; $20.95
While this is $1 over the limit, it will be a wonderful wine in another year or two, so a grab a few, put them in the cellar and enjoy after 2012.

Delas Frères Saint Esprit Côtes Du Rhône 2009, Ac; Rhone, France
LCBO #729962; Rating – 89; $14.95
This wine has great depth for the price, but the tannin requires a year or two to soften. Very good length. Drink 2013 to 2016

Santa Carolina Reserva De Familia Cabernet Sauvignon 2009, Maipo Valley, Chile
LCBO #684597; Rating – 89; $17.95
This is an ideal cab for cellaring. It will only get better with time. It’s full bodied, dense and balanced. Not a sipper, but will pair well with rack of lamb with a peppercorn sauce. Recipe to follow.

Villa Girardi Bure Alto Ripasso Valpolicella Classico Superiore 2009, Doc Veneto, Italy
LCBO #161844; Rating -89; $17.95
This is classic Ripasso with a nose of leather, dried herbs, sun dried tomato and earth. Very drinkable. Pair with strong tomato based Italian fare.

Rocca Delle Macìe Chianti Classico Riserva 2006, Docg; Tuscany, Italy
LCBO #930966; Rating 89; $21.95
A very popular style from a very good 2006 vintage. Ready to drink now and over the next year. Pair with your favourite pasta and tomato sauce.

Manimurci Lacrima Christi Vesuvio Rosso 2009, Doc; Campania, Italy
LCBO #230557; Rating – 88; $14.95
John Szabo describes the smoky, savoury, earthy tones of this old world style wine. This is a classic wine to serve with hearty winter fare from Italy. Grilled meats with strong tomato flavouring will work well.

Sampietrana Vigna Delle Monache Riserva Salice Salentino 2006, Doc; Puglia, Italy
LCBO #247908; Rating – 88; $15.95
A full bodied blend that is quite tasty with very good length. Worth a try at this price. Pair with hearty Italian comfort food.

Château La Cheze 2005, Ac Premières Côtes De Bordeaux; Bordeaux, France
LCBO #244038; Rating – 88; $18.95
From the marvellous 2005 vintage this wine is mature and ready to drink now. It’s a good buy for mature style Bordeaux. Decant and wait an hour before drinking.

White Wines under $20
Lillet Blanc, Bordeaux, France
LCBO #322297; Rating – 92; $14.95
A wonderful fortified aperatif that is mellow and elegant with notes of orange. Mix with Gin to make a Vesper Martini.

The Winery Of Good Hope Vinum Chenin Blanc 2009, Western Cape, South Africa
LCBO #739995; Rating 89; $14.95
A well layered and flavourful example of South African Chenin Blanc. A nice citrus nose with excellent length. A very good buy at this price. Will pair well with lemon chicken or a light fish with lemon.

Sparkling and Fortified Wines
Domaine De Vaugondy Brut Vouvray, Ac, Methode Traditionnelle; Loire, France
LCBO #154567; Rating – 89; $17.95
Now is the time to stock up on your sparkling/champagne style wines for New Years. This is made from chenin blanc grapes, is very dry, with good focus and excellent length. A very good buy at this price.

Prevedello Asolo Superiore Extra Dry Prosecco 2010, Docg; Veneto, Italy
LCBO #262881; Rating – 88; $16.95
This is a wonderful light weight prosecco with aroma of cut apples and vanilla. Some people I know love this on the golf course, which tells you that it works anywhere. A great buy at the price. Save some for those upcoming holiday parties and start off the evening by pairing it with grilled shrimp.

Osborne Pedro Ximenez 1827 Sweet Sherry, Do Jerez; Jerez, Spain
LCBO #47944; Rating – 91; $17.95
This is one thick sweet wine and a great buy at this price. Drink it instead of dessert, over ice cream or with your Christmas fruit cake.