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The Successful Collector – Taylor’s Tawnies

Julian Hitner reports on the greatest tawny port lineup ever presented in WineAlign’s newly refurbished tasting room, courtesy of Stephen Marentette of Sylvestre Wines & Spirits. Several of these wines (including an astonishing bottling from 1863!) have already been released through VINTAGES, with one or two on the way (click on the links below for exact dates).

The Art of Tawny Port
by Julian Hitner

Julian Hitner

Julian Hitner

In port circles, few establishments are as universally revered as Taylor Fladgate, its roots dating back more than three hundred years. Quality is an obsession here, from the choicest bottle-aged (vintage) versions to those kept in wood (such as Late Bottled Vintage) for only a short period of time. But what of those aged in barrel for ten years or longer, those ‘tawnies’ one hears so much about? Back in 1973, when the Instituto dos Vinho do Porto (IVP) created new rules permitting producers to state the age of older tawny ports on the label, Taylor’s found itself in an enviable position. Having spent decades developing stocks of fortified wines aged for many years in wood, it became the first major house to launch a full range of tawnies in increments of 10, 20, 30 and 40 years. Over forty years later, these versions have emerged as some of the most enticing, most consistent wines of their kind in the Douro.

Needless to say, their ‘ruby’ counterparts are entirely different. Aside from much fiercer tannins, deeper colours and totally dissimilar flavours, the finest rubies are largely crafted with bottle aging in mind. Vintage versions are at the top of the pyramid, crafted from the best grapes and only aged for roughly two years in wood and subsequently sold to private buyers for decades of further maturation. Other types, such as Late Bottled Vintage (LBV), are kept in barrel for around four to six years to make them approachable on release. Wines labelled simply as ‘Ruby’ are the cheapest, crafted from the lowest quality grapes and aged very minimally. There are several other types of ruby port, each worthy of exploration.

Taylor Fladgate 10 Year Old Tawny Port Taylor Fladgate 20 Year Old Tawny Port Taylor Fladgate 30 Year Old Tawny Port Taylor Fladgate 40 Year Old Tawny PortTaylor Fladgate Single Harvest 1964

By comparison, tawny ports are aged for much longer periods in wood for a much lighter colour (one can easily guess which one) and more nut- and fruitcake-oriented flavours. Wines simply labelled as ‘Tawny’ are the most plebeian, and do not state any period of barrel aging on the label. Taylor’s Fine Tawny (not tasted) is just such a wine. Continuing with Fladgate, this is followed by the 10 Year Old, usually the freshest and most approachable of the above-mentioned quartet. In contrast, the aristocratic 20 Year Old is a much more serious offering, possessing deeper flavours and more concentration. This seems to be the premium tawny of choice for the widest number of connoisseurs. However, for those with very deep pockets, the princely 30 Year Old is a singular favourite, likely on account of its inherent richness, prodigious complexity and overall sense of completeness. The imperial 40 Year Old, on the other hand, is almost an entirely different proposition, produced in very small quantities and possessing unparalleled concentration, luxuriousness and exoticism. Tasted side-by-side, the 30 Year Old appears much fresher and mellower, while its senior, ritzier counterpart seems a weighty titan, basking in immortal opulence and pedigree. Each of these tawnies are among the greatest in Portugal, blended from multiple vintages with the youngest being the stated age on the label.

A short time ago, the ante for such wines was upped even further with Taylor’s introduction of its 1964 Single Harvest Port. Bottled this year, fifty-year-old tawnies from a specific vintage are beyond rare, though younger single-vintage versions known as ‘Colheita’ are produced at many houses. Such wines are usually extremely well made and delicious, particularly those up to twenty years of age. Yet Taylor’s half-century-old bottling (priced at $299.95 in VINTAGES), which it plans on producing every year from now on, is something truly unique, slightly Madeira-like and a good deal sweeter. It is certainly the greatest Colheita (though this term is not used on the label) I have tasted to date.

Taylor Fladgate 1863 Single Harvest Port (Courtesy Taylor Fladgate)At least from the twentieth century. Leave it to Taylor’s to lay its hands on a few casks of mid-nineteenth-century fortified wine from a single vintage and then bottle it. Indeed, the firm’s 1863 Single Harvest Port is likely to be celebrated as one of most spellbinding, most miraculous tawnies in modern times. Divvied out into 1,600 gorgeous crystal decanters placed in luxury boxes of maple burl veneer (fetching $3,995 in VINTAGES), it almost reminds one of a super-premium Cognac, at the same time extraordinarily spice-oriented and mouth-filling. Crafted from pre-phylloxera grapes, it is unquestionably the most unique port wine, ruby or tawny, I have ever been privileged to examine. At the house of Fladgate, only the best seems to do.

The tawny ports of Taylor Fladgate:

Taylor Fladgate 10 Year Old Tawny Port may generally be considered the gold standard for tawnies of this age group, crafted with obvious care and attention to detail. The freshest and most fruit-driven of the range yet by no means simplistic, this may be enjoyed with almost carefree abandon.

Taylor Fladgate 20 Year Old Tawny Port has always been a favourite of mine, and recent batches have never been better. Compared to the 10 Year Old, this is a more serious wine, possessing outstanding body, harmony and style. It certainly merits all the laurels it consistently receives.

Taylor Fladgate 30 Year Old Tawny Port has always seemed the most ‘complete’ of the age-stated quartet, delivering substantial concentration, purity and harmony. More than double the cost of the 20 Year Old, collectors have every right to expect great things from such a wine. I have never once been disappointed.

Taylor Fladgate 40 Year Old Tawny Port is easily the most decadent, most enticing wine of this genre. Like its counterparts, it is a blend of multiple vintages, the youngest being the stated age on the label. This means some extremely old vintages were blended into this, with stupendous results.

Taylor Fladgate 1964 Single Harvest Port delivers unbelievable character, style and harmony. Hailing from a single vintage, it has very little in common with even the 40 Year Old, possessing remarkable Madeira-like characteristics and sweeter flavours on the palate. A true original in more ways than one.

Taylor Fladgate 1863 Single Harvest Port is in a class of its own, possessing more in common with a fine Cognac (particularly on the nose) than with a fortified wine. Featuring astounding intensity, harmony, structure, elegance and length, this is one of the true originals of the winegrowing world. Pity that so few persons will ever have an opportunity to taste it.


Julian Hitner

Click here for Julian’s list of recommended port wines

Editors Note: You can find our critic reviews by clicking on any of the highlighted wine names, bottle images or links. Paid subscribers to WineAlign see all critics reviews immediately. Non-paid members wait 60 days to see new reviews. Premium membership has its privileges; like first access to great wines!


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20 bons vins à moins de 20$ pour Septembre

Les choix de notre équipe du Québec

C’est maintenant officiel, l’été 2014 est derrière nous. Et puis ? Et puis, rien du tout. Si ce n’est que ce n’est pas ça qui va nous arrêter de boire. Surtout à moins de 20 $ !


Les choix de Marc Chapleau

On fréquente peu les blancs du sud-ouest de la France. Du moins, on n’en a souvent que pour ses rouges – ceux de Cahors et du Madiran, notamment. Alors, pour faire changement, on gagnera à tremper ses lèvres dans le très bon Domaine Cauhapé Chant des Vignes 2013, à la fois exotique (par ses odeurs) et rafraîchissant, tout en étant passablement corsé.

Comme premier rouge, je vous aiguille vers le Chili et un Carmenère Reserva 2013 Carmen. Peu importe qu’on dise « le » carmenère ou « la » carmenère, on a là un très bon exemple du style, au boisé appuyé mais assumé.

Domaine Cauhapé Chant Des Vignes Dry Jurancon 2013 Carmen Reserva Carmenère 2013 Château Maris Minervois 2010 Casamatta Sangiovese 2013 Mas Collet Montsant 2012

Direction le Languedoc, maintenant, avec le très bon Minervois Château Maris 2010 qui sent la sueur un peu mais que cela ne vous rebute pas, car le fruit est là par ailleurs, ainsi qu’un caractère plutôt serré.

De Toscane, le IGT Casamatta 2013 Bibi Graetz donne dans la générosité tout en faisant preuve de cette délicieuse astringence typique de tant de vins italiens.

Enfin, le catalan Montsant Mas Collet 2012 plaira aux amateurs de rouges amples et tanniques, et qui ont de surcroît, malgré leur prix attractif, le potentiel pour vieillir encore une couple d’années.

Les choix de Bill Zacharkiw

L’automne, pour moi, rime avec rentrée. Rentrée des classes pour les enfants, et retour au travail pour nous. Je poursuis dans cette thématique avec mes choix de septembre, en revisitant des régions et des styles classiques.

Je commence par un blanc. Même si le froid va bientôt s’installer pour de bon, pas question de se limiter tout de suite au vin rouge. J’ai notamment été impressionné, récemment, par le Baron de Ley 2013 Rioja Blanco. À moins de 15 $, on a un là un bon apéritif – à moins d’aller vers des huîtres nature ou des fruits de mer apprêtés simplement.

Le spaghetti est le plat familial par excellence des soupers d’automne, et l’un de mes rouges préférés pour l’accompagner est le Bersano Costalunga Barbera d’Asti. Un barbera classique, bâti sur l’acidité et le fruit et, pour cette raison, parfait pour faire le lien avec la sauce tomate.

Baron De Ley Blanco 2013 Bersano Costalunga Barbera D'asti 2012 Azienda Uggiano Casa Di Dante 2010 Château Godard Bellevue 2009 Santa Rita Medalla Real Gran Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon 2010

Si vous mangez italien, mais quelque chose de plus substantiel avec de la viande, j’ai découvert un superbe chianti de l’Azienda Uggiano. Le 2010 Colli Fiorentini reflète à merveille l’acidité, les tannins et le côté « cuir » typique du cépage sangiovese. Un rouge authentique, pas du tout maquillé, et une belle expression du chianti traditionnel.

Difficile de parler de régions classiques sans se frotter à Bordeaux. Issu du puissant – quoique parfois trop mûr – millésime 2009, le Côtes de Francs Château Godard Bellevue, à base de merlot, témoigne du caractère superlatif de 2009 tout en conservant cette finesse caractéristique des meilleurs bordeaux.

Enfin, si vous recherchez un cabernet sauvignon, regardez du côté du Chili. Si ce pays semble faire partie du Nouveau Monde, il faut savoir qu’on fait du vin, notamment au domaine Santa Rita, depuis 1880. Leur 2010 Medalla Real Gran Reserva est un modèle du genre : bien coloré, avec une touche d’eucalyptus, ainsi qu’une étonnante capacité à vieillir, compte tenu du prix. Avec de l’agneau ? Pourquoi pas !

Les choix de Nadia Fournier

Envie d’un brin de changement, d’exotisme? Pas forcément le goût d’une nouvelle de coupe de cheveu ni le temps de partir en voyage ?

Pourquoi ne pas explorer les vertus de cépages moins connus, comme la négrette, une variété très ancienne, qui donne leur originalité aux vins de Fronton. Le Classic 2010 produit par Pierre Selle au Château Bouissel en est un bel exemple.

Toujours dans le Sud-Ouest, mais plus à l’est, dans le département de l’Aveyron, où la minuscule appellation Marcillac couvre à peine 200 hectares. Philippe Teulier du Domaine du Cros y produit un très bon vin rouge qui mise sur le cépage mansois, nom local donné au fer servadou.

Château Bouissel Classic 2010 Domaine Du Cros Lo Sang Del Païs Marcillac 2013 Mezzacorona Teroldego Rotaliano Riserva 2010 Château Pajzos Tokaji Furmint 2013 Kocabag Kapadokya 2012

Poursuivons le voyage vers l’est, jusque dans les montagnes du Trentin, lieu de naissance du cépage teroldego, un vieux cépage nord de l’Italie, dont on ventait déjà les mérites dans des textes publiés en 1480 ! À moins de 20 $, le Teroldego Rotaliano 2010 de la cave coopérative Mezzacorona en est un bon exemple.

Un petit goût des pays de l’Est? Le cépage furmint représente environ les deux tiers de la superficie totale du vignoble hongrois. Et comme chaque année ne peut être propice pour l’azsu – le grand vin liquoreux du pays –, les producteurs de Tokay utilisent parfois les raisins de furmint pour en faire un vin sec. Parmi mes incontournables à moins de 15 $ : celui de Château Pajzos 2013.

Enfin pour l’exotisme ultime, faites un détour dans la région par la volcanique de Cappadoce dans l’est de la Turquie, où le domaine familial de Kocabag produit un vin de facture un peu commerciale, qui serait probablement infiniment banal s’il était composé de merlot, mais auquel les variétés turques öküzgözü et bogazkere confèrent un petit je-ne-sais-quoi. À 13,50 $, le pari n’est pas trop risqué…

Les choix de Rémy Charest

L’automne est arrivé, ça ne fait plus aucun doute. Mais même si les feuilles commencent à bien rougir, j’ai toujours envie de boire des blancs frais et nerveux – peut-être par déni, mais aussi parce que ça va particulièrement bien avec les huîtres qui, elles, sont en haute saison pour le trimestre à venir.

Dans ces blancs pleins de fraîcheur, commençons par un remarquable blanc espagnol dégusté lors des World Wine Awards of Canada, en août, le Basa Blanco 2013 de l’excellent Telmo Rodriguez. La pomme et les agrumes sont au rendez-vous, mais c’est la texture, juste assez ronde, qui donne son équilibre et son relief à ce vin. Nous sommes plusieurs chroniqueurs de Chacun son vin et Wine Align à en chanter les louanges. N’hésitez pas à y joindre les vôtres

Toujours dans l’équilibre entre fraîcheur, nervosité et rondeur, le Saint-Mont Les Vignes Retrouvées  atisfera pleinement ceux qui aiment le très populaire gros manseng/sauvignon de chez Alain Brumont. On est dans le même esprit, avec une touche d’originalité supplémentaire, grâce à la présence dans l’assemblage de petit courbu et d’arrufiac.

Un peu plus en rondeur, et avec une vraie belle élégance à ce prix, la Cuvée Clémence du château Cheval-Quancard saura faire plaisir jusqu’à l’hiver. Je suis très amateur de bordeaux blanc, et j’ai bien envie de continuer à répandre la bonne nouvelle avec des cuvées aussi bien fichues que celle-ci.

Telmo Rodriguez Basa Blanco 2013 Les Vignes Retrouvées Blanc 2012 Cheval Quancard Cuvée Clémence 2013 Château Cap De Merle 2012 El Castro De Valtuille Mencia Joven 2012

Côté rouge, toujours du côté de Bordeaux, j’aime bien la simplicité et la “buvabilité” du Château Cap de Merle  un Lussac-Saint-Émilion qui fait pratiquement partie des meubles, à la SAQ. Du fruit bien placé, pas de bois du tout, tout ce qu’il faut pour un repas saisonnier, comme un braisé ou un ragoût de boeuf aux carottes.

Ma découverte du mois reste toutefois le mencia Joven El Castro de Valtuille, produit par Raul Pérez dans l’appellation Bierzo. Un fruit généreux, rehaussé d’une belle touche poivrée qui vous fera penser aisément à un Saint-Joseph ou à une autre syrah du nord du Rhône. Si c’est ce que l’automne nous amènera à boire, avec le retour du froid et du gel, je ne m’en plaindrai vraiment pas.


La liste complète : 20 bons vins à moins de 20$

Note de la rédaction: vous pouvez lire les commentaires de dégustation complets en cliquant sur les noms de vins, les photos de bouteilles ou les liens mis en surbrillance. Les abonnés payants à Chacun son vin ont accès à toutes les critiques dès leur mise en ligne. Les utilisateurs inscrits doivent attendre 60 jours après leur parution pour les lire. L’adhésion a ses privilèges ; parmi ceux-ci, un accès direct à de grands vins!

Terra Andina Carmenere Scandalous

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20 under $20 for September

Monthly picks from our Quebec Critic Team

Ah yes, the end of the month. It’s the time when we pay for our excesses over the previous weeks. Well, fear not, this doesn’t mean that you still can’t drink well. Our four critics have chosen for you their favourite five under $20 wines that they have recently tasted. No cash? Still thirsty? No problem! Here’s September’s version of the 20 under 20.


Bill Zacharkiw’s Picks

Autumn for me is all about returning. Back to school for the kids, and back to work for us. So for my choices this month, I am returning to classic wine regions and classic wine styles.

I’ll start with a white. Even though there is a deep chill settling in, that doesn’t mean that we have to only drink red wine. I was very impressed with Baron de Leys’ 2013 Rioja Blanco. Under $15, it makes for a fresh aperitif, and will nicely accompany some raw oysters or basic seafood if you are looking to snack on something before dinner.

Spaghetti is the classic Fall family dinner, and one of my favourite spaghetti wines is Bersano’s Costalunga Barbera d’Asti. This is a classic Barbera expression, built along acidity and fruit, which makes it an ideal match for tomato sauce.

If you are eating something Italian, but more substantial where meat is involved, I found a wonderfully classic Chianti from Azienda Uggiano. The 2010 Colli Fiorentini shows all the acidity, tannin and leathery goodness of the sangiovese grape. No make-up here, just an honest and traditional Chianti.

Baron De Ley Blanco 2013 Bersano Costalunga Barbera D'asti 2012 Azienda Uggiano Casa Di Dante 2010 Château Godard Bellevue 2009 Santa Rita Medalla Real Gran Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon 2010

No talk of classic wine regions is complete without a trip to Bordeaux. From the powerful and at times overly ripe 2009 vintage, try the Côtes de Francs from Château Godard Bellevue. It shows the power of the vintage while keeping the finesse that makes Bordeaux so unique.

And finally, if you are looking for a cabernet sauvignon, look to Chile. While many consider Chile as part of the “new world,” Santa Rita has been making wine since 1880. Their 2010 Medalla Real, Gran Reserva for me defines the classic Chilean expression of cabernet sauvignon – dark fruited, a hint of eucalyptus, and a capacity to age that is remarkable considering the price. Got lamb? Then this is your wine.

Marc Chapleau’s Selections

Wine lover’s rarely look to France’s southwest for their white wines as it is mostly known for their reds, most notably Cahors and Madiran. So for a change, wet your whistle with an excellent Jurançon, the Domaine Cauhapé Chant des Vignes 2013. The aromas are exotic and the wine manages to be both refreshing and richly powerful all at the same.

For my first red, my compass needle is pointing south to Chile and the Carmenère Reserva 2013 from Carmen. It is very representative of the grape, with solid but not excessive notes of oak.

Looking towards the Languedoc, the 2010 Minervois Château Maris might show a touch of that “sweaty” quality but that is no reason not to try it as the fruit is there, as well as a tight and finessed structure.

Domaine Cauhapé Chant Des Vignes Dry Jurancon 2013 Carmen Reserva Carmenère 2013 Château Maris Minervois 2010 Casamatta Sangiovese 2013 Mas Collet Montsant 2012

From Tuscany, the 2013 IGT Casamatta from Bibi Graetz is very generous with its fruit while at the same time showing the characteristic astringency that we so love much in Italian reds.

Finally, the Catalan-made Montsant Mas Collet 2012 will easily please those aficionados who love rich and tannic red wines, and who believe that, despite the inexpensive price tag, that wines at this price have the potential to age a few more years. This one will.

Nadia Fournier Choices

Looking for a change and don’t necessarily want a new haircut or have the time to take a trip? Then why not explore the exotic world of lesser known grape varieties?

So let’s start with negrette, an ancient variety in France’s southwest and the grape that makes the wines of Fronton so unique and original. The Classic 2010 by Pierre Selle at Château Bouissel is an excellent example.

Staying in the region of the Southwest, but slightly to the east in the département de l’Aveyron, is the tiny appellation of Marcillac which barely covers 200 hectares. Philippe Teulier from Domaine du Cros makes a very good red from the mansois grape, the local name for fer servadou.

Continuing eastward, all the way to the mountains of Trentin, is the birthplace of  teroldego, one of Northern Italy’s oldest grapes. Its merits for making great wine can be traced back to publications written as early as 1480 ! For under $20, the 2010 Teroldego Rotaliano from the co-op Mezzacorona is a very good example.

Château Bouissel Classic 2010 Domaine Du Cros Lo Sang Del Païs Marcillac 2013 Mezzacorona Teroldego Rotaliano Riserva 2010 Château Pajzos Tokaji Furmint 2013 Kocabag Kapadokya 2012

Want a taste from eastern Europe? The grape variety furmint accounts for almost two-thirds of the entire Hungarian vineyard. And as it is every year, the grapes which are not suited to make Azsu – the country’s’ renowned sweet wine  – the producers of Tokay use it to make a dry white. One of those wines which is consistently near the top of my personal list of best wines under $15 is the  Château Pajzos 2013.

And finally, for the ultimate in exotic adventurism, take a serious detour to the volcanic region of  Cappadoce in Eastern Turkey where the family run winery  Kocabag produces a wine, while a touch modern, avoids banality by being made with Turkish varieties  öküzgözü et bogazkere . They give this wine a little “je-ne-sais-quoi,” and at $13.50, it’s not a huge risk to take.

Rémy Charest Picks

Fall is here, no doubt about it. But although the leaves might be turning red, I’m still up for a lot of vibrant, fresh whites. Could it be denial? Sure. But they’re also great matches for oysters, whose high season is just starting.

Among this list of fresh wines, the 2013 Basa Blanco from Telmo Rodriguez is absolutely remarkable, with apple and citrus galore, but also a texture that is just round enough to provide balance and dimension. Many of the Chacun son vin/WineAlign crew have sung its praises, and I’m sure you will too.

With a similar balance between crisp and round, Les Vignes Retrouvées this white from the Saint-Mont appellation, in Southwest France, will surely please those who know and like Alain Brumont’s popular gros manseng/sauvignon blend. The petit courbu and arrufiac grapes, which complement, add a nice, original touch to the wine, with some unusual white pepper notes.

Leaning a touch more towards roundness, the 2013 Cuvée Clémence by Château Cheval-Quancard is an all-season people pleaser, with remarkable elegance at such a reasonable price. I love Bordeaux whites, and this Entre-Deux-Mers is one more reason to make me keep on preaching its merits.

Telmo Rodriguez Basa Blanco 2013 Les Vignes Retrouvées Blanc 2012 Cheval Quancard Cuvée Clémence 2013 Château Cap De Merle 2012 El Castro De Valtuille Mencia Joven 2012

On the red side of things, I like the simple, drinkable character of Château Cap de Merle – a Lussac-Saint-Émilion that has been on SAQ shelves for years and years. Well-calibrated fruit, no oak, it’s all you need for an easy seasonal dinner, like braised beef with carrots.

However, my best under-20$ find, this month, is the El Castro de Valtuille Mencia Joven produced by Raul Pérez in the Bierzo appellation. The blend of generous, ripe fruit and  crisp peppery notes may well remind you of a Saint-Joseph or another syrah from the Northern Rhône. If that’s what the return of colder weather will make us want a drink, I’m all for it.

Cheers !

The complete list: 20 under $20 for August

Editors Note: You can find complete critic reviews by clicking on any of the highlighted wine names, bottle images or links. Paid subscribers to Chacun son vin see all critics reviews immediately. Non-paid members wait 60 days to see new reviews. Premium membership has its privileges; like first access to great wines!


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Buyers’ Guide to VINTAGES Sept 27th – Part Two

Big Bird Reds & Rhône FindsSept. 25, 2014

by David Lawrason with notes from Sara d’Amato and John Szabo MS

David New 2014

David Lawrason

I have written before that the Thanksgiving feast may not be the ideal place to enjoy wines of great nuance and subtlety. There is a lot of competition from plates heaped high, the hubbub of assembled family young and old, and the family dog, denied scraps, whimpering in the corner. And certainly among a larger group of diners there will be some that could care less what they are drinking. So unless you have Thanksgiving dinner completely under control I would lean to more mid-priced priced, vibrant, juicy and flavourful wines. And despite turkey being a bird – I would go with reds to wade into the gravy, savoury dressing and especially the dark meat. So please see some of our selections from our critics below. But if it’s white you are after read John Szabo’s Part One preview here, plus reviews from the Portugal feature and an unexpected line-up of decent Bordeaux.

Sometimes we follow VINTAGES themes in these reports, sometimes not. There was nothing to add to the magazine’s “Groundbreakers” theme, so we strike off on our own, having found a wine or two or three from a region that just can’t be ignored. This happened for Sara, John and I in this release, when we tasted two terrific Rasteau from the southern Rhône, plus others from nearby appellations. These Rhône villages – dotted like stones on a necklace below the jawline of the toothy Dentelles Mountains on the eastern flank of the valley – continue to offer great values. Alas the Rasteau are In-Store Discoveries only to be found in a few larger stores, but they are very much worth seeking out.

And again, as you create your shopping list I want to remind you that wines we highlight below are by no means the only wines worth considering from this mammoth release. Subscribers can check out our complete takes – critic by critic – by clicking here.

Editors Note: You can find complete critic reviews by clicking on any of the highlighted wine names or bottle images below. You can also find the complete list of each VINTAGES release under Wine >> New Releases. Remember, however, that to access this list and to read all of the reviews you do need to subscribe (only $40/year). Paid subscribers get immediate access to new reviews, while non-paid members do not see reviews until 60 days later. Premium membership has its privileges; like first access to great wines!

Thanksgiving Reds

Hamilton Russell Pinot Noir 2012

Burrowing Owl 2012 Cabernet FrancBurrowing Owl 2012 Cabernet Franc, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia  ($43.95)
David Lawrason – The fruit ripeness, the savoury sage notes and the plush feel of this fine cab franc should make it a turkey shoe-in. Burrowing Owl reds continue to be a go-to. But you may be interested and chagrined to know this wine is selling for $33 at the winery. LCBO policy that treats BC wines as imports are a major reason why BC wines are not better represented here. This behaviour by a government agency in Canada is just not right.

Hamilton Russell 2012 Pinot Noir, Hemel-en-Aarde Valley, Walker Bay, South Africa ($44.95)
John Szabo – For those seeking a more gentle Thanksgiving red that still has enough plush fruit and spice to manage the most overcooked of turkeys, try this pinot from the Walker Bay pioneer. Nearly thirty years on, Anthony Hamilton-Russell still leads the pack in the region crafting in 2012 a pinot of distinctive fruit intensity, depth, length and concentration. Best 2016-2024.

Errazuriz 2012 Aconcagua Costa Syrah, Chile $24.95
David Lawrason – I am still not universally smitten by Chilean syrah, and it is a wine still evolving. I think that new vineyards in the cooler coastal regions are the right direction. This has a hugely lifted aroma of blackcurrant, mint and chocolate. It’s slimmer than many Chilean syrahs but loaded with flavour and very bright. So very juicy!

Vignerons De Bel Air Hiver Gourmand Morgon 2012

Errazuriz Aconcagua Costa Syrah 2012Vignerons De Bel Air 2012 Hiver Gourmand Morgon, Beaujolais, France ($17.95)
Sara D’Amato –
Sensually spiced and light enough to pair with bird of any kind, this well-priced Morgon is a sophisticated addition to a Thanksgiving table. A fine expression of gamay’s versatility and wildly appealing nature.

Alto Moncayo 2011 Veraton DO Campo de Borja, Spain ($29.95)
John Szabo – Riffing off of a similar theme, this old vine grenache, some over 100 years old, from northern Spain is a terrific bargain for those who like it big. The bodega is a joint venture that includes US wine importer Jorge Ordoñez, and the stylistic direction clearly takes it’s cue from the new world. Massive concentration, high 15.5% alcohol, and a year and a half in America oak combine to create this rich, sweet, mouthfilling wine that manages to retain miraculous balance and appeal. Best 2016-2021.

Guenoc 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon, Lake County, California $19.95
David Lawrason – From a large but hidden gem property in Lake County north of Napa, this has some stuffing; as cabernet should – and the classic, cassis fruit, roasted red pepper, tobacco and cedar will work well with turkey. Great value, precisely because it’s not from somewhere more famous, but this is a wonderful site.

Plowbuster 2012 Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley, Oregon, USA ($25.95)
John Szabo - Named to honour the challenge of farming vineyards in the Willamette Valley strewn with large basalt boulders, Plowbuster’s 2012 is a fine and well-priced pinot. It straddles the old/world stylistic divide, showing lightly oxidative character and firm tannins further tightened by high acids, yet also succulent and concentrated, juicy fruit. Best 2015-2022.

Alto Moncayo Veraton 2011 Guenoc Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 Plowbuster Pinot Noir 2012 Badia A Coltibuono Chianti Classico 2010 Stoney Ridge Cranberry Wine 2011

Badia A Coltibuono 2010 Chianti Classico DOCG, Tuscany, Italy ($24.95)
John Szabo - For a cranberry meets cranberry pairing, try this simple but classy, regionally representative example of Chianti Classico made from organically-grown grapes. I appreciate the zesty acids and light dusty tannins in the Tuscan idiom. And if you need a story to tell around the table, you can mention that Badia a Coltibuono has been around for a while, since 1051 to be precise. That was the year in which the monks of Vallombrosa began construction on this property, named literally “the abbey of good harvests”. Best 2014-2020.

Stoney Ridge 2011 Cranberry Wine, Ontario, $17.95
Sara D’Amato – A long-time producer of fruit wines, under the direction of former winemaker and fruit wine enthusiast, Jim Warren, Stoney Ridge continues to produce its most popular fruit wine just in time for the holidays. The winery claims that this release is “better than ever” and I would have to agree. It isn’t sweet nor is it too tart or intense. It is light, very flavourful and nicely balanced. With an alcohol level at just over 10%, this lighter wine can help you keep pace throughout your celebration and will nicely compliment that turkey.

Rhône Finds

Domaine Les Aphillanthes 2012 “1921” Côtes Du Rhône-Villages Rasteau, Rhône Valley, France ($37.95)
Domaine Grand Nicolet Les Esqueyrons Rasteau 2012 Domaine Les Aphillanthes 1921 2012John Szabo – Plush, spicy, grenache-based reds from the southern Rhône are terrific with roast turkey, and there’s no better example in the release than this one. From a biodynamically certified estate (Biodivin since 2007), this is exceptional Rasteau made by the husband and wife team of Danielle and Hélène Boulle is a powerful and complex wine, easily the equal of many Chateauneufs at 1.5x the price. Drink during this thanksgiving dinner, or anytime over the next decade.
David Lawrason – This is a refined, generous and delicious. Ambitiously priced for Rasteau and some may want a bit more structure but it is precisely appointed with florals, fruit and spice and has great concentration. Yet there is an almost airy feel unusual in the Rhône.

Domaine Grand Nicolet 2012 Les Esqueyrons Rasteau, Rhône Valley, ($35.95)
David Lawrason – This is a very impressive Rasteau, by a family domain with 16 ha in the appellation. Les Esqueyrons is a southeast facing site on clay limestone, comprised of 50% grenache from 60-year-old vines, and 50% syrah from 30year old vines – harvested at a very low 20 hls/hectare.  The nose is a bit shy but it somehow still oozes fruit richness with plum, olive and even some cranberry lift. What focus and concentration!

Domaine Jean Deydier & Fils Les Clefs D'or Châteauneuf Du Pape 2010

Domaine Brusset Tradition Le Grand Montmirail Gigondas 2012

Domaine Des Andrines 2012, Côtes Du RhôneDomaine Des Andrines Côtes Du Rhône 2012, Rhône Valley, France  ($17.95)
Sara D’Amato – Located just outside Avignon, the city of Popes, Domaine des Adrines grows their old vine syrah, grenache and carignan on premium terra rossa soils topped with the large galets common to the top sites of the south.  With very little notable oak, fine balance and appealing peppery fruit, this affable blend is an excellent value.
David Lawrason – Straight up great value in a young approachable Rhône

Domaine Brusset 2012 Tradition Le Grand Montmirail, Gigondas, Rhône Valley ($29.95)
Sara D’Amato – Planted on the foothills of the “Dentelles de Montmirail” at 250 meters, this traditional, handpicked grenache based blend offers lovely freshness, pepper and garrigue. Exhibiting an authentic sense of place, this solidly built Gigondas shows excellent focus and age-worthiness.

Domaine Jean Deydier & Fils 2010 Les Clefs d’Or Tradition Vieilles Vignes, Châteauneuf Du Pape, Rhône Valley ($44.95)
Sara D’Amato – Grenache reigns supreme in this traditional Châteauneuf-du-Pape blend. Ripe fruit, savory notes and big perfume make for an intense blend that is still quite youthful.

And that’s it for this issue. We return next week with Part One of another sprawling release that features Sonoma, dovetailing with VINTAGES Sonoma event at the Royal Ontario Museum on October 9th. If you are looking for Ontario wine country action this weekend head to Prince Edward County Saturday for TASTE community grown as some of the region’s finest chefs, winemakers, craft beer producers and farmers gather from 11am to 5pm at the Crystal Palace in Picton. Newly named (formerly Taste the County) it is broadening its appeal beyond the wineries, and includes seminars on starting a brewery, foraging the County, mixology and more.

I look forward to seeing many of you at the Rarer Than Unicorn event on Oct 8th at Crush Wine Bar where agent Alto Vino will showcase some examples of the rare wines they represent. (Find out more about their wine and get your tickets here)


David Lawrason
VP of Wine

From VINTAGES September 27th release:

Lawrason’s Take
Szabo’s Smart Buys
Sara’s Sommelier Selections
All Reviews
Sept 27th Part One – Thanksgiving Whites, Value Portugal & Bordeaux

Editors Note: You can find complete critic reviews by clicking on any of the highlighted wine names, bottle images or links. Paid subscribers to WineAlign see all critics reviews immediately. Non-paid members wait to see new reviews. Premium membership has its privileges; like first access to great wines!

AdvertisementsBeringer Knights Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

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Announcing the Results of the 2014 World Wine Awards of Canada…

Nothing has value unless you give it some
Anthony Gismondi’s Final Blend

Anthony Gismondi, co-head judge

Anthony Gismondi, co-head judge

There’s a lot of great wine tasted at WineAlign every year and you can read about it on the site daily. In fact, we write about nearly every bottle we taste that is for sale in Canada. It’s our job, and pleasure, to search for wines you can buy and enjoy. And even more importantly, we want to answer the two biggest shopping questions you have: How much is it, and where can I buy it?

In order to best answer What, Where, How Much, When and Why, once a year we make a gargantuan effort to gather as a team in Toronto and spend a week locked away in an airport hotel tasting as many wines as we can amass for the WineAlign World Wine Awards of Canada [2014 Results].

The word ‘world’ is important because anyone in the world can enter their wines, as long as they are sold somewhere on Canadian soil. We give Canadian wine its due at The Nationals, but we know it is just as important to taste globally to complete the perspective. I know that comes as a surprise to some Canadians who think we should only be drinking local wines but truthfully, that isn’t how the wine ‘world’ works. How do we know where Canadian wines stack up against the world if we only taste Canadian wines? Same with consumers. The goal is to make wonderful wine that expresses its terroir or uniqueness and share it with everyone. That is, the world.

Group tasting shot

The 2014 World Wine Awards of Canada is a tool we use at WineAlign to assess a large segment of wines Canadians buy and drink daily, and we do it as a team. In addition, it gives our judges a valuable chance to calibrate our palates and taste wines that aren’t available for sale in all provinces. It keeps us in check without constraining our opinions – ones shaped by years and travel and study and tasting. It’s a neat exercise on many levels, not the least of which is tasting blind for a week and keeping our palates and minds sharp. We also love the challenge of searching for great value wines and as we head into a busy fall season we can’t wait to arm you with the results.

If you are like most Canadian wine drinkers, you delight in discovering wine bargains. And why not? In a country where everything from hospitals, to roads, schools and social welfare are dependent on liquor revenues, there is no escaping high wine prices. We pay far too much for wine, so much so that the price on the bottle seldom corresponds to the quality of the wine inside. The price also reflects marketing, trends and tax. But let’s get back to the bargains.

The WWAC works because it is conceived to uncover the best value wines selling wines in Canada under $50 in a manner no other competition does. The tastings are computerized from start to finish allowing wineries, agents or retailers to enter, pay, and eventually track their results online. The same software allows us to build panels and flights of wine and then assign those wines to various panels all in an unbiased fashion, before they are served to our highly experienced tasters, blind.


The same technology spits out scoring sheets for each individual judge and tracks their scores from start to finish. When our judges leave at the end of the competition they take all their tasting notes, scores and the answer key with them in a highly prized binder. This binder, full of hundreds of detailed notes, tasted blind, is a bible that judges can refer to in articles, purchasing and consulting for the year to come. Since individual scores are only a part of the final picture, judges do not know the competition’s final results until they are released to the public. It all may sound logical but I can attest to a lot of competitions around the world where that information is never returned to the judges.

More than technology, we are particularly proud of our winners because they have to win twice to win big. In the first round they need to outscore the majority of the entries just to get to the finals. Then in the second round they must beat out the best of the best to win and should there be a tie, they may have to face-off again against the very best. It is thorough and challenging, whether the public or producers know about it or not. We know, and we care.

I also know this: If I was a running a private retail store (sorry Ontario) I would stack the winners to the ceiling. If I were running a winery I would brag for an entire year to anyone who would listen secure in my mind that what I was producing a wine that is among the best in its class.

WWAC Panorama

Yet we do not do any of this for wineries, agents or writers. We run the competition for you, the consumer. As mentioned earlier, we think you need a break from ridiculously high wine prices and our coveted Category Champions and Judges Choice winners are our way of saying thanks for coming back to the site as often you do. As we approach the two million unique visitors in 2014, it is clear you come back often, and we work hard to bring you value.

We pledge to continue the competition because we love sharing our highly vetted list with you and we would love your feedback.

Now for the results and few disclaimers…

We have spent an inordinate amount of time tracking down the prices of these wines because the results are predicated on the lowest available price for the wine sold somewhere in Canada. Please remember that the lowest price may not be the price in your province or territory.

The Category Champion bested all the wines in its category while our Judges’ Choice awards went to a short list of the remaining top scoring wines in the category. Best of Country selections represent the top wine across all categories and grape types in which that country’s wines were entered. The Top Value Wines takes into account the wine’s average score as well as its price, thereby ranking the wine by a price/value quotient.


It’s hard to explain the energy that goes into these awards but suffice to say the hours are off the charts and it’s all for the pleasure of our readers.

Thanks for supporting WineAlign and wine culture in Canada. Now it is time to shop and taste  – and by the way  – congratulations to all the winners.


Use these links to access the complete results of the 2014 World Wine Awards of Canada:

Results Summary Page
Complete list of Top Value Wines 
Complete list of Best of Country

Photos by Jason Dziver

Please join us at our inaugural “Champions Tasting” to be held at the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) on Thursday October 16th, 2014 at 6:30pm.

Our Champions Tasting is unique compared to other tastings in that all wines being poured are “Champions” from our 2014 wine awards. These include only Platinum and Gold winning wines from the 2014 National Wine Awards of Canada, as well as, Top Value, Category Champion and Best of Country wines from the 2014 World Wine Awards of Canada.

Champions Tasting

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British Columbia Critics’ Picks September 2014

Focusing on the WineAlign World Wine Awards

The results of the World Wine Awards are about to be released, and co-Head Judge Anthony Gismondi is busy finalizing the results and preparing for the announcement, so the rest of the BC team is reporting on BC Critics’ Picks for September, and reflecting on some of our favourite themes and wines that came out of last month’s competition.

Anthony’s Final Blend column will be posted tomorrow, along with the full results. I can’t wait to see what we all had to say, collectively. In the meantime, these picks may give you a little sneak peek!

Cheers, Treve Ring

BC Team Version 3

DJ Kearney

Chile rocks. My wine picks were inspired by two events:  our recent WineAlign World Awards which re-invigorated my palate for global flavours, and spending a little time with Pedro Parra, Chile’s charismatic geologist/terroir hunter.   Pedro is helping to decode the relationship between grapes and rocks and consults not just throughout Chile, but around the world, including here in British Columbia (at Okanagan Crush Pad).

Carmen Gran Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon 2011 Cono Sur Single Vineyard Block No. 21 Viento Mar Pinot Noir 2012 Koyle Reserva Syrah 2011So with Pedro’s passionate rants echoing in my ears, I looked at my WWAC notes and instantly remembered the Koyle Syrah Reserva 2011.  It can age a few years more but will be nicely tamed by a smoked brisket or herby lamb braise.

Just as evocative of regional identity is Cono Sur’s 2012 Single Vineyard Block 21 Pinot Noir, with its cool-climate racy acidity, but gorgeous fruit sweetness and mineral twang.  Salmon wine par excellence given mild tannins and leafy savour.

Cabernet Sauvignon is Chile’s most planted grape (over 40,000 hectares of it) and I loved the classic correctness of Carmen’s Gran Reserva Alto Maipo 2011 cab with its chewy black cassis, hint of mint and quiet power.  Built for a prime steak and a few years of bottle-ageing too, for the Alto Maipo’s gravelly signature to emerge fully.

Rhys Pender MW

Having spent the best part of the week sifting through my tasting notes from the World Wine Awards of Canada (WWAC), it is obvious that there are some great wines available around the country and often great value for money. Below are a few of my selections that really hit the mark in the under $15, under $25 and over $25 price categories.

Miguel Torres Sangre De Toro 2012 wine_50012_web San Pedro 1865 Limited Edition Cabernet Syrah 2011It is great seeing wineries breaking the mold with less traditional blends that just work really well. Chile has historically been very Bordeaux variety focused but syrah is making waves in its short history in the country. The blend of cabernet sauvignon and syrah is common in Australia and seems to work well in Chile is the San Pedro 1865 Limited Edition Cabernet Syrah 2011. Serious wine for just under $25.

Another top class wine, worth every penny of its $40, is the Wolf Blass White Label Chardonnay Adelaide Hills 2010. This is classy chardonnay showing the big changes that have happened in Aussie chardonnay. Don’t expect toasty oak, butter and bigness but rather a very complex, subtle and restrained wine with plenty of elegance.

We are all looking for great wine deals and sometimes they come along right under your nose. For under $15 you can get the Miguel Torres Sangre De Toro 2012. You have probably had this wine in the past, and it isn’t always overly exciting, but the 2012 vintage offers a great blend of fruit and savoury complexity to make it bat above its weight.

Treve Ring

For me, a valuable and rewarding part of the competition is finding out that you prefer – sometimes overwhelmingly – a wine in the under $15 category more than one in the over $25 category.

Unsworth Vineyards Pinot Noir 2012 Laurenz V und Sophie Singing Grüner Veltliner 2012 Brumont Gros Manseng Sauvignon 2013One particularly appealing lean, bright, mountain herb and smoked stone white that I enjoyed was Alain Brumont’s characterful 2013 Gros Manseng-Sauvignon blend from Southwest France’s Gascony area. Though just a shade over $15 on our market, it settles under the $15 mark in other provinces – a steal at this mark.

Sometimes wines stand out in a flight for all the wrong reasons. In the case of Laurenz V und Sophie Singing Gruner Veltliner 2012 from Austria however, this grape stood out and shone in its flight, memorable for its green fig, herbal spice and tangerine peel notes.

It’s always comforting to see that local wines can command high scores in a mixed international flight, and I was duly rewarded to see that one particularly graceful and elegant young pinot was Vancouver Island’s Unsworth Vineyards Pinot Noir 2012.

About the BC Critics’ Picks ~

Our monthly BC Critics’ Picks column is the place to find recent recommendations from our intrepid and curious BC critics, wines that cross geographical boundaries, toe traditional style lines and may push limits – without being tied to price or distribution through BCLDB or VQA stores. All are currently available for sale in British Columbia.

Editors Note: You can find complete critic reviews by clicking on any of the highlighted wine names, bottle images or links. Paid subscribers to WineAlign see all critics reviews immediately. Non-paid members wait 60 days to see new reviews. Premium membership has its privileges; like first access to great wines!

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Un petit quelque chose aux pommes avec ça ?

Hors des sentiers battus
par Marc Chapleau

Marc Chapleau sm

Marc Chapleau

Notre site s’appelle Chacun son vin, c’est vrai, mais pour ma part, et j’ose croire qu’il en est de même pour plusieurs d’entre vous, je ne dédaigne pas une bonne bière, la plupart du temps. Surtout avec l’éclosion incessante de nouvelles microbrasseries au Québec, et des combinaisons de saveurs parfois un peu tirées par les cheveux mais ô combien réussies, et je pense notamment à la Lambic Fruit de la passion de la ferme-brasserie Schoune de Saint-Polycarpe, près de Valleyfield, vendue dans certaines épiceries et dépanneurs spécialisés.

Cette digression, désolé, pour vous emmener plutôt vers le cidre –  on ne peut plus de saison alors que l’action, en cette fin d’été, se déroule surtout dans les vergers.

Que les 50 ans et plus ne s’enfuient pas tout de suite ! Et que les plus jeunes sachent, si ce n’est pas déjà le cas, que le cidre qu’on a recommencé à commercialiser dans les années 1970 après avoir connu une longue période d’interdiction était sinon infect, du moins traître au possible…

Les cuvées alors proposées titraient allègrement 13 ou 14 pour cent d’alcool et étaient bourrées de soufre. On faisait le cidre dans ce temps-là, ont par la suite colporté les mauvaises langues, à partir de pommes tombées au sol et souvent pourries.

J’en sais quelque chose. À propos de tanguer à cause de ça en direction du plancher des vaches, j’entends…

Nous sommes d’ailleurs plusieurs quinquas à avoir pris nos premières brosses avec ce maudit cidre. On était à l’époque des hipsters et des Pôpa avant l’heure, avec nos barbes de prophètes et nos chemises à carreaux. Et tout ce qu’on a récolté pour toute cette peine qu’on s’est donnée à faire de la réintroduction du cidre un succès… c’est des mals de cheveux carabinés. (Je sais, au pluriel, mal c’est maux, mais « des maux de
cheveux », de vous à moi, ça ne fait pas très sérieux…)

Tout ça pour dire que si un gars comme moi dit aujourd’hui du bien du cidre québécois, il ne faut surtout pas le prendre à la légère.

Ça a été long, pas loin de 20 ans, mais l’industrie s’est bel et bien reprise en main. Le cidre de glace par exemple, qui ne le sait pas, est même devenu l’un de nos fleurons gastronomiques. Quant aux cidres de table, appelons-les comme ça, tranquilles, mousseux, secs et demi-secs proposent aujourd’hui une boisson saine et équilibrée, au fruité souvent très pur, on ne peut plus « pomme ». C’est tout ce que le client demande, la plupart du temps.

De fait, le cidre – sauf exception – est rarement très complexe. Il l’est du reste moins que le vin et même que la bière, souvent. N’empêche : compte tenu de notre long passé pomicole, et ne serait-ce que parce qu’on compte au Québec actuellement dix fois plus d’hectares de vergers que d’hectares de vignes, le cidre n’en demeure peut-être pas moins la boisson du terroir la plus authentiquement et plus naturellement québécoise.

Il s’agit seulement, pour les baby-boomers, de faire abstraction du passé et de l’aborder sans préjugé.

À boire, aubergiste !

J’ai goûté ou regoûté récemment un certain nombre de cidres vendus à la SAQ. Tous, ou à peu près, sont bons et bien faits, équilibrés et bien fruités. Certains ressortent tout de même du lot. Surtout au niveau de la texture, ai-je noté, les meilleurs exemples ayant plus de profondeur, une structure en bouche plus affirmée et parfois même, une légère et délicieuse astringence.

Trois cidres tranquilles pour commencer, c’est-à-dire sans effervescence.

Les Vergers Lafrance Légende D'automne 2012 Domaine Pinnacle Verger Sud La Face Cachée De La Pomme Dégel

Le Légendes d’automne 2012 Vergers Lafrance, à base de McIntosh, n’est pas trop sucré, plutôt léger (9 % d’alcool), simple et de bon goût.

Le Vergers du Sud Domaine Pinnacle m’a de prime abord fait sourciller, étant donné sa bouteille très lourde. Pas d’esbroufe en bouche cependant, équilibre exemplaire, et une agréable pointe saline.

Enfin, le Dégel La Face cachée de la pomme est comme le précédent riche et corsé, avec juste ce qu’il faut d’acidité pour le garder pimpant. À réserver par exemple pour les fromages, plus que pour l’apéro, étant donné son coffre, sa corpulence.

Michel Jodoin Cidre Mousseux Rosé Domaine Lafrance Cidre Mousseux 2013 La Face Cachée De La Pomme Bulle De Neige

Du côté des cidres mousseux, j’ai à nouveau bien aimé le Cidre léger rosé Michel Jodoin, élaboré à partir de la variété de pomme Geneva, à la chair rougeâtre, d’où la couleur du cidre. Une belle réussite à seulement 7 % d’alcool, signée par le duo Michel Jodoin/Laurence Lamboley.

Plus sucré et assez corsé, le Cidre mousseux 2013 Domaine Lafrance a tout de même une bonne fraîcheur et d’engageants arômes de pomme dès l’abord.

On renoue en gros avec le style du cidre léger de Jodoin avec le Bulle de Neige La Face cachée de la pomme, demi-sec, rafraîchissant et bien soutenu par son acidité.

Les cidres de glace

La Face Cachée De La Pomme Neige Première Ice Cider 2011 La Face Cachée de la Pomme Neige Récolte d'HiverJ’aurais pu ici parler des produits du domaine Pinnacle, du Clos Saragnat, des Vergers de la Colline et de bien d’autres encore. Si je n’en retiens que deux, du même producteur qui plus est, c’est que je viens tout juste de les regoûter et donc mon commentaire est plus à jour.

De bons points, ainsi, pour le Neige Récolte d’hiver La Face cachée de la pomme , liquoreux et quasi sirupeux mais qui demeure nerveux, malgré ses quelque 190 g de sucre résiduel par litre.

Même constat pour le Neige Première 2011 La Face cachée de la pomme, celui-ci issu d’une récolte d’automne obtenu par cryoconcentration naturelle (jus mis à geler à l’extérieur). Très compote de pomme et pas trop sucré, un excellent dessert par lui-même.

Santé !


Note de la rédaction: vous pouvez lire les commentaires de dégustation complets en cliquant sur les noms de vins, les photos de bouteilles ou les liens mis en surbrillance. Les abonnés payants à Chacun son vin ont accès à toutes les critiques dès leur mise en ligne. Les utilisateurs inscrits doivent attendre 60 jours après leur parution pour les lire. L’adhésion a ses privilèges ; parmi ceux-ci, un accès direct à de grands vins!

Penfolds clinique de rebouchage

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Rarer Than Unicorn – A Tasting of Rare Australian Wines

WineAlign presents an exclusive tasting of highly acclaimed and rare wines on October 8, 2014. 

This exclusive tasting will showcase highly acclaimed (including 10 wines rated over 95 pts!) and rare wines from Australia. Alto Vino is the importer of some of Australia and New Zealand’s best wines. They are from numerous producers and all punch above their weight in terms of quality versus price. With the small production of many of the wines, some are rarely ever opened for public tasting. Dumangin Champagne will also be showcased with four cuvee’s available.

There will be approximately 25 wines being poured, most of them retail for over $50 AUD down under. You have the opportunity to try all of them for $50 CDN, all in.

We’re excited about the collection.  Here are comments about just one of the wine being poured, the Clonakilla Shiraz Viognier:

- “Some argue this is Australia’s greatest red wine, it is certainly one of the greatest Shirazs” – The Wall Street Journal

- “An icon wine, one of the best in Australia” – James Halliday

- “One of the most important advances in the development of Australian Shiraz since the release of 1952 Penfolds Grange Hermitage” – Andrew Caillard, MW

All wines tasted will be available for private ordering at great prices. This is a walk-around tasting event at Crush Wine Bar on King St in Toronto. A selection of hors d’oeuvres, including cheese and charcuterie platters will be served.  WineAlign’s David Lawrason will also be in attendance.

 Purchase Your Tickets Here

Wines being sampled include:


Clonakilla Shiraz Viognier 2012 (97 points James Halliday)
Clonakilla Hilltops Shiraz 2012 (95 points James Halliday)
Clonakilla O’riada Shiraz 2012 (95 points James Halliday)

Rob Dolan True Colours Chardonnay 2012 (89 points James Halliday)
Rob Dolan White Label Pinot 2012 (94 points James Halliday)

By Farr Chardonnay 2012 (96 points James Halliday)
By Farr Tout Pres Pinot 2010 (96 points James Halliday)
By Farr Farrside Pinot 2011 (97 points James Halliday)

Farr Rising Chardonnay 2009 (95 points James Halliday)
Farr Rising Geelong Pinot 2010 (96 points James Halliday)
Farr Rising Saignee(Pinot Rose) 2013 (93 points Winefront)

Philip Shaw Idiot Shiraz 2012 (new release)
Philip Shaw No 17 Merlot Cabernet 2011 (new release)

Jasper Hill Georgia’s Paddock 2010 (96 points Jeremy Oliver)
Kalleske Pirathon Shiraz 2012 (95 points James Halliday)

Dumangin La Cuvée 17 (93 points Tyson Stelzer, 91 points Wine Enthusiast)
Dumangin Le Rosé 1er Cru (94 points Tyson Stelzer)
Dumangin Le Vintage 2004 (92 points Wine Enthusiast)
Dumangin L’Extra-Brut 1er Cru (93 points Tyson Stelzer, 90 pts Wine Enthusiast)

12,000 Miles Sauvignon Blanc 2013
12,000 Miles Pinot Gris 2014
12,000 Miles Pinot Noir 2013


Event Details:

Wednesday, October 8, 2014
Location: Crush Wine Bar (455 King St W, Toronto)
Time:  5:30 to 9:30 pm
Tickets: $50 (includes all taxes and fees)

 Purchase Your Tickets Here


About Crush Wine Bar:

Located in Toronto’s trendy King West entertainment district, CRUSH Wine Bar offers a blend of casual fine food and winning wines in a vibrant atmosphere. From organic meat, fresh fruits and vegetables from surrounding local farms, Executive Chef Trista Sheen constructs a menu rooted in the French style but highlighted with continental flair. Sommelier Tiffany Jamieson-Horne is on hand to guide guests through the extensive wine collection to enhance the flavours of Chef Sheens’ simple yet stunning dishes.

crush wine bar

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Buyers’ Guide to VINTAGES Sept 27th – Part One

Whites for Thanksgiving, Value Portugal and Bordeaux for the Cellar
By John Szabo MS with notes from David Lawrason and Sara d’Amato

John Szabo, MS

John Szabo, MS

The September 27th VINTAGES release is rich with choice, like a groaning table at a Thanksgiving feast. And with Thanksgiving around the corner, we’ll look at some of the best white wine options to consider for the holiday, with reds to follow next week.

I’ll still be in Portugal by the time this report is published, a trip that coincides unintentionally with VINTAGES mini-thematic on this outer sliver of the Iberian Peninsula. I’ve long considered Portugal fertile hunting ground for value thanks to the confluence of numerous factors, not least of which include a wealth of little-known but high quality indigenous grapes, the tremendous stylistic diversity born of multiple terroirs from the scorching Alentejo to the cool, green Minho in the north, the technical proficiency acquired in the post Salazar, post coop-dominated era, and the complexity of untangling it all which slows commercial success and results in lower price to quality ratios. There are a couple of enticing values that are worth your attention in this release.

And finally, we’ll cover a particularly strong range of Bordeaux red hitting the shelves on the 27th, highlighting some top candidates for mid or long-term ageing mainly from the excellent 2010 vintage. The 2010s seems to once again be revealing their true potential after an initial “closed” period when they were obviously angry for being awoken prematurely from their slumber. You can of course spend really big money on 2010 Bordeaux, into triple digits and beyond, but we’ve found a handful at $60 or under that should satisfy the most discerning palates. But, patience required.

Editors Note: You can find complete critic reviews by clicking on any of the highlighted wine names or bottle images. You can also find the complete list of each VINTAGES release under Wine >> New Releases. Remember, however, that to access this list and to read all of the reviews you do need to subscribe (only $40/year). Paid subscribers get immediate access to new reviews, while non-paid members do not see reviews until 60 days later. Premium membership has its privileges; like first access to great wines!

Buyer’s Guide VINTAGES September 27th 2014:

Thanksgiving Whites

I find that whites with just a pinch of sweetness, or at least the impression of sweetness (not fully desert-style), make for some of the best pairings with a traditional Thanksgiving Turkey. All those side dishes often have a sweet taste of their own, like the sweet-sour tang of cranberry sauce, or that sweet potato mash, which will turn most bone-dry wines sour and hard. Then there’s the turkey meat itself: lean, dry (often too dry from over-roasting), in need of an acid snap and some succulence and fat from the wine. Enter the perfectly balanced, off-dry genre.

Try one or more of these recommendations out, either in the off-dry, floral/fragrant/ fruity, or rich and satisfying categories, each with engaging character.


Wegeler 2012 Rüdesheimer Berg Schlossberg Riesling Kabinett, Rheingau Germany ($24.95).
Clos Le Vigneau Vouvray 2012 Wegeler Rüdesheimer Berg Schlossberg Riesling Kabinett 2012John Szabo – One of the great vineyards of the Rheingau, this example of the Berg Schlossberg is terrifically mineral, fresh, crisp and off-dry, with great length and depth. Everything is in picture-perfect balance. Best 2014-2022.

Clos Le Vigneau 2012 Vouvray, Loire, France ($19.95).
John Szabo – Made by well-respected winemaker Alexandre Monmousseau, this is a Vouvray of superior complexity and balance. I appreciate the purity and freshness, the fine-tuned balance between a modest pinch of sugar and tight acids, and the lingering finish. Classy and elegant; best 2014-2020.


Tegernseerhof 2012 Grüner Veltliner Bergdistel Smaragd, Wachau Austria ($24.95).
John Szabo – “Smaragd” is a regulated term in the Wachau which refers to ripeness at harvest and finished alcohol – it’s the richest category after Steinfeder and Federspiel (it comes from the word “emerald”, which in turn describes the colour of the lizards that sun themselves on the warmest rocks of the region). Tegerseerhof has mad a terrific 2012, evidently ripe and concentrated, full-bodied and plush yet briskly acidic. This has layers and layers of flavour, and superior complexity. Best 2014-2020.

Tegernseerhof Smaragd Bergdistel Grüner Veltliner 2012

Castello Di Neive Montebertotto Arneis 2012

La Guardiense Janare Senete Falanghina 2012Castello Di Neive 2012 Montebertotto Arneis, Piedmont, Italy ($18.95).
John Szabo – Castello di Neive regularly over-delivers (they make a fine Barbaresco for the money, too), and this is a pleasantly fragrant example of the aromatic arneis variety. I enjoy the vibrant apple and pear flavours, slipping over into an engaging floral range. Enjoy now.

La Guardiense 2012 Janare Senete Falanghina Sannio, Campania, Italy ($14.95)
David Lawrason – I was very taken with this wine; with it’s fine sense of florality and freshness. But its southern hot climate weight and richness should make if a good candidate for heaviness of a Thanksgiving meal. Sannio is new appellation (est 1997) that confines viticulture to cooler hillside locations to ensure better structure in the wines.

Rich and Satisfiying

Bonterra 2012 Viognier, Mendocino & Lake Counties, California, USA ($19.95).
Shafer Red Shoulder Ranch Chardonnay 2012 Gloria Ferrer Chardonnay 2011 Bonterra Viognier 2012John Szabo – An intense, very floral and ripe viognier dripping with peach and apricot jam, violets, apple purée and ginger spice – tailor made for Thanksgiving dinner. The palate is full and gives an impression of sweetness, while the finish is long. Enjoy now.

Gloria Ferrer 2011 Chardonnay, Carneros, California ($24.95)
David Lawrason – I wouldn’t hesitate for a minute to open two or three bottles of this for a Thanksgiving banquet, (as long as red (pinot) is open as well.  The richness and weight of California chardonnay is ideal in this setting. This is a somewhat mild mannered, very well balanced edition that will appeal widely before and during your Thanksgiving dinner.

Shafer 2012 Red Shoulder Ranch Chardonnay, Carneros, California ($67.95)
David Lawrason – If you want to go big with your Thanksgiving dinner – and also show some largesse –  this is a beauty. Not too fat and sweet; not to lean and green. Great balance and depth here. Very polished as well. Red Shoulder Ranch is large single vineyard of 68 acres near San Pablo Bay; and has long been one of my favourite California chardonnays.


Deu La Deu Alvarinho Vinho Verde 2013

Quinta De Pancas Selecção Do Enólogo 2010Deu La Deu 2013 Alvarinho Vinho Verde, Monção e Melgaço, Portugal ($19.95).
John Szabo – Albariño, as it’s known in Spain, has by now gained some mainstream traction thanks chiefly to the fine wines emerging from the Rias Baixas region of Galicia. But northern Portugal, and particularly the vineyards around the towns of Monçao and Melgaço that are just across the river from Spain, are quickly catching up on quality. This is a perfumed, lime and lemon-scented example, with apple blossom and other pretty white floral notes, more full-bodied and drier than the basic level of Vinho Verde. Sara d’Amato – A head-turner in the tasting lab at the LCBO last week, this terrific Vinho Verde is sure to have wide appeal. This fresh, vibrant wine’s release begs for an Indian Summer! Notes of Asian pear, green apple, starfruit and tender floral blossoms linger on the finish of this full-flavoured wine.

Quinta De Pancas 2010 Selecção do Enólogo, Lisboa, Portugal ($18.95).
John Szabo – A particularly spicy, black pepper scented blend of touriga nacional, merlot, cabernet sauvignon and alicante that could pass for syrah tasted blind. The palate is fullish and plush, ripe but balanced, with succulent acids and genuine depth. Drink now. David Lawrason – Quinta de Pancas is fine 50 ha property north of Lisbon that has been producing wine for over 500 years, most recently focused on combining native varieties like touriga and alicante with cabernet and merlot. This is packs notable complexity and depth for the money – great value!

Quinta Do Côa Vinho Tinto 2012

Casa Da Passarella 2010 Somontes RedCasa Da Passarella Somontes Red 2010, Dão Portugal ($13.95).
John Szabo – The Dão is one of my favourite regions in Portugal. It’s cooler here than in either the Alentejo or most parts of the Douro, and consistently yields wines of character, elegance and class. This is a cracking value blend of touriga nacional, tinta roriz (tempranillo), alfrocheiro and jaen (mencía), firm and juicy, fresh and pleasantly herbal. Best 2014-2017.

Quinta Do Côa 2012 Vinho Tinto, Douro, Portugal ($21.95)
Sara d’Amato – Producer of the better known “Carm” series of wines, Quinta do Côa’s “estate” series is equally appealing as is exemplified in this expressive touriga nacional based blend. With the balance, weight, concentration and structure of a much more expensive wine, you’ll be sure to impress with this divine Douro.

Bordeaux For the Cellar

Château Rol Valentin 2010, Saint-Émilion, Bordeaux, France ($61.85).
John Szabo –  A big, full, solidly composed, densely structured and very ripe Saint Emilion here, with palate warming alcohol declared at 14%, and abundant but very ripe tannins. This is massive and concentrated, still years away from prime drinking. Try after 2018, or hold until 2030 or beyond.

Château Fonréaud 2010, Listrac-Médoc, Bordeaux, France ($30.95).
John Szabo – A classic and structured left bank Bordeaux from the less-celebrated Listrac AOC, and hence fine value, over-delivering on all levels. This should develop nicely over the next 2-4 years or so, and drink well into the mid-twenties.

Château Rol Valentin 2010 Château Fonréaud 2010 Château St. Georges 2010

Château St. Georges 2010, St-Georges St-Émilion Bordeaux, France ($39.95).
John Szabo – this is an evidently ambitious and ripe, concentrated “satellite” Saint Emilion, which could be mistaken for Napa cabernet out of context with its 14.5% declared alcohol and dense, ultra ripe dark fruit flavour. Yet there’s still acid and tannic grip underlying the ensemble, which should allow much better integration over the next 3-5 years. Best 2018-2030. David Lawrason – And while we are on the subject of venerable properties producing undervalued great wine, don’t miss Chateau St. Georges.  The chateau itself, which sits back on the plateau a few kms from St. Emilion the town, is one of the great monuments in all of Bordeaux.  And given the  class, depth and youth of this wine (thanks in part to the 2010 vintage) it clearly belongs in the company of the classed growths. Our gain price-wise that is not in the official hierarchy

Château Grand Corbin-Despagne 2010, Saint-Émilion Bordeaux, France ($46.85).
John Szabo – This wine is for the more classically-inclined, refined, old school drinkers. Admittedly I enjoy such structured and dusty examples, with firm texture and zesty acids. This should develop fine complexity over the next 3-5 years or more. Best 2018-2028.

Château Grand Corbin Despagne 2010 Château d'Aiguilhe 2010 Château Des Moines 2008

Château d’Aiguilhe 2010, Côtes De Bordeaux Castillon, Bordeaux, France ($42.85)
Sara d’Amato – A long time favourite of mine, this high end Castillon from the right bank gives the region the due attention it deserves. The price may appear steep but its quality easily matches some of the best in St. Emilion. David Lawrason – This large estate may not enjoy the luxury of sitting in St.Emilion but the property itself, as well as the current family owners –Count Stephan von Neipperg – has a lineage dating back hundreds of years. There are 50 ha of vines here (80% merlot) that sit on clay-limetone soils, which lends real elegance amid all kinds of fruit and barrel complexity. The great 2010 vintage also adds structure. If this wine was produced in St. Emilion I am sure it would be double the price.

Château Des Moines 2008, Lalande De Pomerol, Bordeaux, France ($21.95)
Sara d’Amato – In a right bank state of mind, here is another gem that holds merlot to high standards. Many estates in and around Pomerol have less ingratiated and historically prominent backgrounds. Chateau des Moines’ real wine-growing history doesn’t begin until the 1960s despite its proprietors’ ancestry of coopers. Its more humble beginnings (or reinvention) have forced the estate to work hard to achieve recognition among houses with greater status. As a result, an excellent value product is now on our shelves – sleek with great structure and longevity.

That’s all for this week. See you over the next bottle.

John Szabo, MS

John Szabo MS

From VINTAGES Sept 27th:

Szabo’s Smart Buys
Sara’s Sommelier Selections
Lawrason’s Take
All Reviews

Sbragia Monte Rosso Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 2010

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WineAlign’s Inaugural “Champions Tasting” – Taste Only the Best

Please join us at our inaugural “Champions Tasting” to be held at the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) on Thursday October 16th, 2014 at 6:30pm.

Champions Tasting LogoOur Champions Tasting is unique compared to other tastings in that all wines being poured are “Champions” from our 2014 wine awards. These include only Platinum and Gold winning wines from the 2014 National Wine Awards of Canada, as well as, Top Value, Category Champion and Best of Country wines from the 2014 World Wine Awards of Canada.

When combining both award competitions our judges tasted 2,433 wines blind.  The wines eligible to pour at the tasting represent only 7% of all of the wines entered.  In short, nothing but the best.

Wine Tasting at the ROM (Picture courtesy of the Wine Sisters)

Wine tasting at the ROM
(Picture courtesy of the Wine Sisters)

Winery and wine agency representatives will be pouring and discussing their award winning wines.  WineAlign critics will be presenting their “Judges’ Choice” selections. These are wines that they scored particularly high.

This isn’t just about tasting great wines, it’s also opportunity to buy great wines. There will be a system in place to help facilitate wine purchases after the event.

The ROM is the perfect setting to showcase such high-quality wines.  In keeping with the evening’s focus on only the best, caterer par excellence, Daniel et Daniel will prepare gourmet canapés for your enjoyment.


Click to Purchase tickets

Event Details:
Date: Thursday, Oct 16th, 2014
Location: Royal Ontario Museum (100 Queens Park, Toronto)
Trade: 3pm to 5pm (by invite only)
Public: 6:30pm to 9pm (purchase)
Tickets: $100.00 (includes all fees & taxes)

Click to Purchase tickets


Royal Ontario Museum

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WineAlign Reviews

Coldstream Hills Pinot Noir 2008