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Great review of our Mobile Version

We found a very thorough and thoughtful write up of the mobile version of WineAlign.  The site is – Mobile-Crush by Marc Reppin:

m.winealign.com makes for a damn good mobile experience. It’s so easy to use, in fact, that most of the time you can use only one hand — helpful when the other is holding a bottle or two.

See full article here.

Filed under: News

April 3rd Vintages Preview – ¡España! Spain’s rise to prominence – John Szabo

John Szabo, MS

Anyone following developments in the wine world can’t have failed to notice the incredible rise to prominence that Spain has experienced in the last decade. I’d say that the US and the UK markets are way ahead of Ontario in their acceptance of Spanish wines, but this feature release at Vintages is a clear sign that España is being taken more seriously here, too. I lived and studied in Spain from 1994-1995 and spent a wee bit of time exploring the local wines (albeit with a different focus than my approach today), and recall remarking on the stunning value on offer. $3-$5 would buy you a very respectable Rioja or Ribera del Duero; the most I ever spent on a wine was $18 for a bottle of Tinta Valbuena from Vega Sicilia, these days closer to $150. I drank the wine with a friend, over a picnic, straight from the bottle. It was one of my first great wine drinking experiences.

15 years and 5000 kms away, the entry price point has more than tripled, but Spain is still a great source of good value, characterful reds, and increasingly whites, too. Out of 23 wines from Spain in this release including two sherries, only one is more than $20, and that’s for a 2001 Gran Reserva Rioja (Lealtanza), so more than justifiable. Rioja still dominates the list of regions on offer, certainly Spain’s best known internationally, but we are finally starting to see more wines from less well-know areas like Montsant, Rias Baixas, Bierzo and Jumilla to name but a handful. The list of varieties used is not as long as say, what Portugal or Greece can offer the world, but there’s the commercial advantage of familiarity. Many drinkers already know about grenache and mourvedre, both originally Spanish grapes, and it doesn’t take too long to learn their Spanish names (garnacha and monastrell). Add cariñena (carignan), tempranillo and mencía, and you’ve got most of the native reds in this release covered. Albariño grown in the northwest in Galicia, in denominations of origin like Rias Baixas, and verdejo from Rueda are considered Spain’s best whites.

Clearly there are many regional differences to consider, but the reality is that at in this price category, producer technique is a more significant style factor. Many of the wines in this release share a resemblance of abundantly ripe and/or raisined fruit, and soft, plush tannins, making for wines with broad commercial appeal. Indeed if there’s anything to complain about, it’s the similarity of styles available. This can be explained partly because the same LCBO tasters are responsible for selecting all of the wines (a major defect in our monopoly system), and partly because that’s what Spain is producing in commercial abundance.

I’ve said it before, but in my view, Spain is still well behind many old world, and even quite a few new world wine producing countries on the maturity curve. Remember that “fine wine” is a relatively recent phenomenon in most regions outside of Rioja and Jerez, and producers are still grappling with the establishment of distinct regional styles, not to mention containing the enthusiasm of discovering that there are markets for their wines beyond regional and national frontiers. In this sense, Spain is where California or Australia was in the early 1990s, when the general over-exuberance resulted in exaggerated styles of overly oaky fruit concoctions. The least interesting wines in the release were those that taste like they could have come from anywhere: simple, jammy fruit, soft texture and an impression of sweetness on the palate – basic supermarket wines. Everybody needs to pay the bills. The best were well made to be sure, but have more individuality and personality, a fundamental difference between commodity wine and an authentic expression of a place.

The pendulum will continue its inexorable oscillation back to the middle, as it already has in many other countries. I am sure that the soul searching already underway in Spain will steer the country toward a place of prominence on store shelves, restaurant lists and in private cellars the world over. While not widely recognized or even represented in Ontario, Spain’s top wines are up there with the best. Ultimately these representative icons need to find their way here in order to cast a spell of quality on the rest of Spain’s offering, just as Chile, Australia and South Africa, among others, are working to get out of the ‘good value ghetto’, or at least build another more chic and exclusive neighborhood around the ghetto to bring up the average real estate prices.

My top ten wines from Spain are listed in our newsletter. The wines that topped the list for me were universally appealing, with neither excess of oak nor exaggeratedly ripe or raisined fruit. Some favour fruity flavours, while others are more traditionally savoury and earthy, but all are representative of the New Spain.  As though to hammer the value point home, four Spanish wines can also be found in the top ten smart buys.

Outside of the Iberian Peninsula, southern France continues to impress with a second straight number one top buy, this time the excellent St. Chinian from the Cooperative of Roquebrun in the Languedoc. Spring is in the air with a pair of vibrant whites from Austria and Germany, New Zealand delivers a delicious pinot noir for under $20, and one of the top scoring wines in the entire release was grown in the Okanagan Valley.

To see all of my reviews click here.

Cheers,


John Szabo, MS

Filed under: Wine, , , , , ,

March 20th Vintages Release – Niagara Upstages the Easter Pageant – by David Lawrason

David Lawrason

David Lawrason

The huge March 20 release at Vintages stores has a broad international selection pegged as Easter wines. So I was going to write about Easter wines, but with trepidation because I have never really been sure what makes a wine an Easter wine.  Then when I sat down to write and noticed that there is a strong contingent of Niagara wines as well, I knew I had could hatch an Easter escape.  I’d much rather write about that the quality that Niagara is showing more routinely these days.

I have rated four of the ten Niagara releases over 90 points, and another three 88 or better.  This is an impressive body of work.  Two wineries lead the charge of what Vintages is calling “The New Guard”.  I have written before about Le Clos Jordanne, and all the steps winemaker Thomas Bachelder and his team are taking to deliver such impressive quality. My favourite pinot of the lot, the deep, elegant  Le Clos Jordanne Vineyard  2007arrives Saturday, as does the powerful Claystone Terrace 2007 Chardonnay, both rating 91 points.

The top scoring wine is Hidden Bench Rosomel Vineyard 2007 Fume Blanc which I have rated 93 points.  This is from the same vineyard and grape varieties as the Nuits Blanches 2005 that was voted Canada’s White Wine of the Year at the 2008 Canadian Wine Awards, with an identical score. The Fume is intense, exotic , beautifully balanced and downright intriguing.  The 91 point Hidden Bench 2007 Locust Lane Riesling is yet another powerful, dry and layered riesling, a cousin again to the 2007 Rosomel Riesling that took gold at last year’s Canadian Wine Awards.  Hidden Bench is on a real roll, so it will be most interesting to see how new winemaker Marlize Beyers rides the wave.  The young South African was hired last week after spending  recent vintages making fine rieslings, chardonnays and pinot noirs at Flat Rock Cellars.

Three other Niagara wines deserve mention. Saturday brings one of the first Vintages appearances for the new Ravine Vineyard with lovely, elegant 2008 Chardonnay 89 pts, that would have hit 90 points with a bit more depth.  The Reserve wines both white and red from this property, overseen by veteran winemaker Peter Gamble, would have easily joined the 90+ club.  And finally, there is the strong showing by a pair of 88 pt sparkling  wines. The 13th Street Cuvee Roséis a crisp, dry mineral driven pinot-based bubbly, while Jackson-Triggs Grand Reserve Methode Classique 2004 Brut shows good poise and depth, if not the great tension of the 2003 vintage.

Elsewhere, the best wines and best buys are spread across the globe, including five of my six faves which hail from Switzerland, France, California and Italy.  One interesting subtext is the pair of mourvedres – one from Bandol in France the Cline Ancient Vines from California that would make a fascinating direct comparison.  Enjoy!

-  David Lawrason, VP of Wine at WineAlign

Click here to see ranked lists and reviews of over 100 wines in this release.

Dave’s Faves

HIDDEN BENCH ROSOMEL VINEYARD  2007 FUMÉ BLANC
HIDDEN BENCH ROSOMEL VINEYARD 2007 FUMÉ BLANC
Beamsville Bench, Niagara $30.20  93pts

DOMAINE DE L'OUJONNET 2008 RÉSERVE DU DOMAINE BURSINEL
DOMAINE DE L’OUJONNET 2008 RÉSERVE DU DOMAINE BURSINEL
La Côte Switzerland
$18.95  91pts

HENRI BOURGEOIS 2008 PETIT BOURGEOIS SAUVIGNON BLANC
HENRI BOURGEOIS 2008 PETIT BOURGEOIS SAUVIGNON BLANC,
France  $14.95  89pts

Reds
CLINE ANCIENT 2007 VINES MOURVÈDRE
CLINE ANCIENT 2007 VINES MOURVÈDRE
California
$17.95  90pts

CHÂTEAU DES BAUMELLES 2006  BANDOL
CHÂTEAU DES BAUMELLES 2006  BANDOL
Provence, France
$24.95  91 pts

ROCCA DELLE MACÌE 2005 CHIANTI RISERVA
ROCCA DELLE MACÌE 2005 CHIANTI RISERVA
Tuscany, Italy
$15.00  90pts

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New version of WineAlign Mobile is FREE to all users

Basic membership of WineAlign now includes mobile version

The mobile version of WineAlign is now FREE with our basic service.   The world is going mobile and people value the information that is ON their screen more than the device that delivers it.  Feel ‘free’ to point your mobile browser to http://m.WineAlign.com (note M for Mobile) and access same great features you enjoy on our regular web version.

New mobile version of WineAlign

We’ll think you like the new look and feel of our mobile version.  iPhone and BlackBerry users should appreciate the larger fonts and better layouts.  We’ve added the “My Lists” feature to the mobile site so you can easily access things like your Shopping List while you are standing in the LCBO.

Filed under: News,

New Technology being unveiled at Toronto Wine & Cheese Show

    Toronto Wine & Cheese SHow Logo

    For immediate release March 15th, 2010

    New Technology being unveiled at Toronto Wine and Cheese Show, March 19 to 21

    Oakville, ON – Wine show exhibitors who have long struggled with the fundamental problem of getting consumers to remember the wines they have sampled and enjoyed while at a large consumer events are in luck as the Toronto Star Wine & Cheese Show unveils new technology at the upcoming show.

    To respond to this long standing industry problem, The Toronto Star Wine and Cheese Show has partnered with WineAlign to bring a unique solution to a wine show for the first time.

    Each wine being poured at next weekend’s show at the International Centre have been added to the WineAlign.com online database. Visitors to the show will find a 2D barcode on a tent card in front of each of the wines at the show, allowing consumers to scan the 2D barcode with their smartphones.

    In order to use the technology at the show, smartphone users can download a free application from 2dscan.com that will enable their phone to read the 2D code. Each barcode scanned by the phone will record the associated wine in the user’s personal Wine&Cheese Show Shopping List at WineAlign.com, which they can review at any time.

    “This new 2D technology will really help to bring the wine industry up to speed in the online world,” states Marti Milks, Show Manager of the Wine & Cheese Show. “For so long participating exhibitors at wine events have struggled to get consumers to remember the wines they’ve sampled, so this is exactly the technology that’s needed to fulfill that void”.

    Below is an illustration of the usage and an actual card & code from the show.

    Wine & Cheese Show Event Details:

    Where: International Centre, Mississauga
    6900 Airport Road at Derry Road
    Free Parking & Free Shuttle from Kipling Station
    Please do not drink and drive.

    When: Friday March 19: Noon to 10pm
    Saturday March 20: Noon to 9pm
    Sunday March 21: Noon to 6pm

    Admission: Tickets are available at the door and online
    General Admission: $18
    Must be 19 years of age to attend.

    For more information on the Wine & Cheese Show or the new 2D barcode technology, visit www.TOWineAndCheeseShow.com or www.WineAlign.com

    - 30 -

    For more information on the Wine & Cheese Show: Amanda Wedgewood awedgewood@metroland.com 905-842-6591 x235

    For more information on 2D technology or WineAlign.com contact: Bryan.McCaw@UnCork.ca

    Illustration from the Wine & Cheese Show Brochure

    Scan this to add to your Wine & Cheese Show Shopping List

Filed under: Events, News, ,

Six Picks from the Toronto Wine & Cheese Show – by David Lawrason

David Lawrason

David Lawrason

The WineAlign database now contains more than 350 wines that will be poured at the Toronto Wine and Cheese Show, March 19 to 21.  To search the selection sign in to WineAlign and go to www.winealign.com/wines/awarded/wc2010.   John Szabo, Steve Thurlow and  I have tasted through dozens of the wines at the show, and each have come with some of our favourites that we are likely to showcase at the WineAlign booth. I have highlighted five that are currently available at the LCBO, and added the very finely made Loron 2008 Mont Vallon Bourgogne (white) en route to the general list.  To view my selection go to  here.  To taste them for yourself join us at the Show.

As an added feature at the show you will be able to use your smart-phone to scan a 2D bar-code with each wine and add it to create your own list of show favourites on WineAlign.  You only need to first go to 2dScan.com and download your free scanner application.  Below is an illustration from the show brochure.

Wine & Cheese Show Brochure Ad

2D barcodes in action

Filed under: Events, Wine, ,

March 20th Vintages Preview – Celebrating Easter with Food and Wine – by John Szabo

John Szabo, MS

The March 20th release looks at wines for your Easter feast. The Vintages catalogue has neatly categorized the releases into style categories, each matched to a range of traditional foods. To pick up on this useful theme, I’ve listed my top scoring wine and top value for each of the categories. If you want to head straight to the top ten smart buys, those are listed below. Bon apétit!

Powerhouse Reds, to be served with herbed rack of lamb, rare roast beef, grilled steaks:
Top: 2007 CHÂTEAU ROUQUETTE SUR MER CUVÉE AMARANTE AC Côteaux du Languedoc La Clape 91pts $17.95 ***
Value: 2007 TELIANI VALLEY SAPERAVI Georgia 88pts $13.95 ***

Ripe, fruity reds, round, plush, bursting with fruit, to pair with glazed ham, veal tenderloin with berry chutney, turkey with cranberry sauce:
Top:  2007 SANTA CAROLINA RESERVA DE FAMILIA CABERNET SAUVIGNON Maipo Valley 90pts $19.95 ***
Value:  2007 ALTA VISTA PREMIUM MALBEC Mendoza 87pts $13.95 ***

Elegant reds, subtle, refined, with exquisite finesse to pair with beef stew with mushrooms, roast duck, salmon steaks, ratatouille:
Top: 2007 CALERA PINOT NOIR California 90pts $31.95 **
Value: 2005 ROCCA DELLE MACÌE CHIANTI RISERVA DOCG 88pts $15.00 ***

Vivacious rosés, fresh, pretty, wonderfully versatile, to pair with seasoned broiled fish, roast quail, vegetable couscous, garden salads:
Best of a weak release (no top wines here): 2009 MAS DES BRESSADES CUVÉE TRADITION ROSÉ AC Costières de Nîmes 85pts $13.95

Bold Whites, big, full bodied, excitingly robust, to be paired with turkey with gravy, poached salmon, lobster with garlic butter:
Top: 2006 J.J. VINCENT & FILS MARIE-ANTOINETTE POUILLY-FUISSÉ CHARDONNAYAC 91pts $27.95 ***
Value:  2007 HESS SELECT CHARDONNAY Monterey County 89pts $18.95 **1/2

Soft, fruity whites, smooth, vibrant, very satisfying, to pair with apricot-braised pork, stuffed peppers, cabbage rolls:
Top & Value: 2009 WITS END FREE SETTLER & THE CONVICT CHARDONNAY/VIOGNIER South Australia 88pts $13.95 ***
Also worth considering: 2008 DOMAINE ALLIMANT-LAUGNER MUSCAT AC Alsace 88pts $17.95 **1/2

Refreshing whites, delicate, crisp, delightfully pure, to pair with turkey breast, roast chicken, pasta with olive oil and herbs, white fish and seafood:
Top: 2008 HIGHFIELD ESTATE SAUVIGNON BLANC Marlborough, South Island 90pts $19.95 ***
and  2006 MAISON KERLANN CHABLIS AC  90pts $21.95 ***
Value: 2008 HENRI BOURGEOIS PETIT BOURGEOIS SAUVIGNON BLANC Vin de Pays du Val du Loire 88pts $14.95 ***

Festive Sparklers, bubbly, effervescent, elevates the occasion, to pair with duck breast, stuffed mushrooms, smoked salmon, or simply with the occasion:
Top & Value: 2006 13TH STREET CUVEE 13 ROSÉ VQA Niagara Peninsula, Traditional Method 89pts $24.95 **1/2
Also worth considering: 2004 JACKSON-TRIGGS PROPRIETORS’ GRAND RESERVE MÉTHODE CLASSIQUE BRUT VQA Niagara Peninsula, Méthode Classique 88pts $22.95 **

Top Ten Smart Buys:
1.    2007 CHÂTEAU ROUQUETTE SUR MER CUVÉE AMARANTE AC Côteaux du Languedoc La Clape 91pts $17.95 ***
2.    2006 J.J. VINCENT & FILS MARIE-ANTOINETTE POUILLY-FUISSÉ CHARDONNAYAC 91pts $27.95 ***
3.    2008 HIGHFIELD ESTATE SAUVIGNON BLANC Marlborough, South Island 90pts $19.95 ***
4.    2007 SANTA CAROLINA RESERVA DE FAMILIA CABERNET SAUVIGNON Maipo Valley 90pts $19.95 ***
5.    NV QUINTA DO INFANTADO RUBY PORT 89pts $15.95 ***
6.    2009 WITS END FREE SETTLER & THE CONVICT CHARDONNAY/VIOGNIER South Australia 88pts $13.95 ***
7.    2007 TELIANI VALLEY SAPERAVI Georgia 88pts $13.95 ***
8.    2007 CHÂTEAU TRINIAC AC Côtes de Roussillon-Villages Latour de France 88pts $14.95 ***
9.    2008 HENRI BOURGEOIS PETIT BOURGEOIS SAUVIGNON BLANC Vin de Pays du Val du Loire 88pts $14.95 ***
10.  2008 PETER LEHMANN SEMILLON Barossa Valley, South Australia 88pts $14.95 ***

To see all of my reviews click here.

Cheers,


John Szabo, MS

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Seriously Cool Chardonnay – by John Szabo

John Szabo, MS

“Would you be proud to pour this to a group of international wine writers as an example of Canadian wine?” This was the heavy question put to us by Southbrook owner Bill Redelmeier before we set about tasting our way through 65 VQA chardonnays, all from Ontario. Redelmeier is the man behind a new cool climate chardonnay initiative, whose (mostly) altruistic goal is to bring some recognition on the international stage to what he and many others consider to be Ontario’s most successful grape, chardonnay.

The idea was sparked last year when Redelmeier overheard the philosopher-winemaker Thomas Bachelder of Le Clos Jordanne on the CBC. Bachelder was discussing Le Clos’ triumph at an international tasting of chardonnays in Montreal, in which one of his wines finished in top spot, besting some serious competition. “I recall him saying that he was really just lucky, since on the day any one of a dozen local chardonnays could have done the same. He said Ontario makes great cool climate chardonnay. I agree. We do make world class, cool climate chardonnay.” Redelmeier continues: “New Zealand built its reputation on a single variety, and one region.  I am hoping to do the same… to launch Chardonnay on the world scene should earn respect for Canadian wine in general. What I am hoping to gain internationally is the acceptance that we make more than Icewine”.

According to the Vintner’s Quality Alliance, of the 114 wineries currently making VQA wines in the Ontario, about 100 of them produce at least one chardonnay. Indeed, it’s the variety with the greatest number of VQA approvals accounting for nearly half (46%) of all VQA white wines. That’s clear evidence local winegrowers consider chardonnay a highly suitable, or at least commercially important grape. So Redelmeier invited all eligible wineries to submit wines in a competition to select the best chardonnays in the province. A panel of experienced Wine Writers’ Circle of Canada judges was convened, including Tony Aspler, David Lawrason, Gord Stimell, Linda Bramble, Micheal Pinkus, Steve Elphic, Konrad Ejbich and yours truly. A total of 65 wines were submitted. Flights were divided into unoaked (5 wines), 2008 vintage (17 wines), 2007 vintage (27), 2006 & 2005 (9), and a final ‘Library wines’ flight including 6 wines from 1998 to 2004. The judges were asked to score the wines out of 100 points, and also include a checkmark of approval if we believed the wines to be representative of what Ontario can do. (For the record, logistics and nothing else made it impossible to include 100% locally grown wines from other provinces). Generic “VQA Ontario” wines were discouraged in favour of appellation-specific wines, and all 10 Niagara sub-appellations and all four officially approved VQA regions were represented, perhaps for the first time ever in a single tasting of one grape variety.

In the end 35 wines were deemed suitable to carry the Canadian flag. These wines will be presented at a tasting to the trade on the eve of the London International Wine and Spirits Fair on May 17th 2010. Fittingly, the tasting will be held at Canada House, and the crème de la crème of UK and international critics will be invited to attend. A little closer to home, the Ontario Wine Society is presenting all of the London-bound wines on March 24th.  This event will be open to the public. Go to http://www.ontariowinesociety.com/ to register.

In a final moment of guilessness, Redelmeier reveals a little piece of Canadian character. “We as Canadians give much more respect to a product when it is accepted abroad.” Well, maybe this is our chance to shed our vinous insecurities.

Below are my personal picks of the competiion – note that not all of these will be London-bound as, somewhat controversially, each winery was limited to sending only two wines. That means that a winery with 3, 4 or more wines that would have qualified based on score would have had to choose only 2 wines to send. All of the wines and details can be eventually found at www.coolchardonnay.ca

2006 CEV Chardonnay, Colio, Lake Erie North Shore $15.35

2007 Colio Unoaked Chardonnay, Coyote’s Run, Niagara $14.95

2008 Chardonnay Musqué, Château des Charmes, Niagara $16.95

2006 Tête de Cuvée Chardonnay, Hidden Bench, Beamsville $45

2006 Chardonnay LCJ Vineyard, Le Clos Jordanne, Niagara $45

2007 Chardonnay Robyn’s Block, Tawse, Beamsville $42

2007 Chardonnay Quarry Road Vineyard, Tawse, Beamsville $35

2007 & 2008 Signature Series Chardonnay Sur Lie, Peller Estates, Niagara $30

2007 Lailey Vineyard Old Vines Chardonnay, Lailey, Niagara $40

2007 Barrel Fermented Chardonnay, Henry of Pelham, Niagara Escarpment $19.95

2007 & 2008 Estate Chardonnay, Hidden Bench, Beamsville, $35

2007 Chardonnay Talon Ridge, Le Clos Jordanne, Vinemount Ridge $45

2007 South Bay Vineyards Chardonnay, Huff Estates, Prince Edward County $29.95

2008 The Rusty Shed Chardonnay, Flat Rock Cellars, Niagara $24.95

2008 Triomphe Chardonnay (Organic), Southbrook, Niagara $21.95

2008 Chardonnay Rowan Vineyard, Ravine Estate, Niagara $24

2008 Black Paw Vineyard Chardonnay, Coyote’s Run, Niagara $22

2008 Chardonnay Cuvée County, Rosehall Run Cellars, Prince Edward County $17.95

2003 Vintners Private Reserve Chardonnay, Peninsula Ridge, Niagara $N/A

2003 Chardonnay CVS, Cave Spring Cellars, Niagara $30

1998 Poetica Chardonnay, Southbrook, Niagara $154/1.5l

Filed under: Wine, ,

March 6th Vintages Release – A Heartfelt toast to Chile – by David Lawrason

David Lawrason

David Lawrason

Chile’s Quake Delivers A Blow to Wine Industry

Minutes after the roar of the Sid the Kid’s goal on Sunday night, my Twitter feed brought the first inklings of a very different vibe in faraway Chile.

There is still much to be determined about the extent of the damage to the wineries but with the epicentre in the Maule region, not far seismically from Colchagua and Rapel, this quake struck Chile’s wine heartland, and there are reports of damage as far away as Casablanca over 300 kms to the north.

Most reports so far are focused on loss of a sea of wine, not loss of life. The massive 8.8 quake struck in the wee hours so most winery sites would not have a lot of people working, unless on overnight crushing shifts.  The harvest is underway and there would have been lots of fermenting juice in the tanks.  But I have heard no reports of deaths or injuries.  What’s more uncertain is the extent of structural damage within the wineries and whether they can even process the harvest of 2010.  Concha Y Toro, the country’s largest winery, has suspended production while it assesses damage at its various properties.

As I was already emotional over the Olympics on Sunday it didn’t take long to feel a deep, throat swelling sadness for Chile, and in particular for the many kind wine folks I met there just six weeks ago.  I had travelled with nine other Canadian wine writers to judge the Wines of Chile Awards, then spent another week travelling in the Maipo, Colchagua, Casablanca and Aconcagua wine regions.  Everywhere we were treated so very well; in fact in all my travels I can’t think of another country where the people are so genuinely friendly and warm, and so quietly proud of their booming wine industry.

This industry was on a roll until this happened – full of enthusiasm, fully grasping the science and technology of wine quality, and anxious to break free of its image as a poor cousin source of cheap, fruity wine.  Indeed corralling, layering and sculpting all that lush fruit energy is the greatest challenge facing the winemakers, and most are succeeding. From $10 to $100 most modern Chilean wines are good value indeed.

Ironically, Vintages  release on March 6 features Chilean wines.  A heartfelt toast with a glass of carmenere, cabernet or syrah is perhaps the best and only real way we can show some support.

One of the best examples at Vintages is the Tabali 2008 Merlot, a wine of charm, suppleness and surprising depth for $15.  Errazuriz 2008 Sauvignon Blanc is pristine and delicious, a shining example of the huge strides being made with sauvignon blanc in Chile. These are among my half dozen favourites of the release, joining a brilliant band of aromatic white wines from Europe, plus a great riesling buy from Henry of Pelham in Niagara. All  have a kind of “spring-is-in-the-air” quality.

-  David Lawrason, VP of Wine at WineAlign

Click here to see ranked lists and reviews of over 100 wines in this release.

ERRÁZURIZ 2008 SINGLE VINEYARD SAUVIGNON BLANC
ERRÁZURIZ 2008 SINGLE VINEYARD SAUVIGNON BLANC
Casablanca Valley, Chile, $14.95  90pts

 HENRY OF PELHAM 2008 OFF-DRY RESERVE RIESLING
HENRY OF PELHAM 2008 OFF-DRY RESERVE RIESLING
Short Hills Bench, Niagara Peninsula  $15.95  90pts

ANDRÉ BLANCK ET SES FILS 2008 CLOS SCHWENDI PINOT GRI
ANDRÉ BLANCK ET SES FILS 2008 CLOS SCHWENDI PINOT GRIS, Alsace, France
$19.95  91pts

HENRI DE RICHEMER 2008 MUSCAT SEC
HENRI DE RICHEMER 2008 MUSCAT SEC
Côtes de Thau, France
$12.95  89pts

BÜRGERSPITAL WÜRZBURGER 2007 SILVANER KABINETT TROCKEN

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Video Preview of our Innovative Seminars & Exciting Events at the upcoming Toronto Wine & Cheese Show

12 Innovative Wine Events & Seminars at the Toronto Wine & Cheese Show, March 19th – 21st  at the Toronto International Centre

We are pleased to present a series of fun, unique and highly informative wine events and seminars at the upcoming Toronto Wine & Cheese Show.

David Lawrason and John Szabo offer you a sneak preview of the exclusive events and entertaining seminars in the following video links. Full details including the schedule and prices are listed below. Please note that full show admission is included in all event and seminar prices and limited space is available.

Events

Seminars



Chef and Sommelier  Food and Wine Pairing Competition $80.00

Friday at 8:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m.  Buy Now
Saturday at 7:30 p.m. – 9:30 p.m. Buy Now

Six top Ontario chefs and their sommeliers take their best shot at matchmaking: one dish, one wine. You decide who’s nailed it and who needs to go back to the drawing board in this people’s choice awards. Master Sommelier John Szabo will introduce guidelines for successful pairing; guests will taste, enjoy and vote on their favourites. End the evening with “How Sweet It Is” a selection of desserts matched to dessert wines, ports, Sherries and spirits. Winner announced at the conclusion of the evening.


Great Ontario Wine & Cheese Pairing $55.00

Friday at 5:30 p.m. – 6:30 p.m.  Buy Now
Saturday at 5:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. Buy Now
Sunday at 2:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. Buy Now Sold Out!

The Dairy Farmers of Ontario present The Great Ontario Wine and Cheese Paring. Join Award Winning Sommelier, Zoltan Szabo to explore and savour Ontario’s burgeoning artisan cheese offerings and the finest Ontario wines! At each station you will be guided by a cheese specialist and sommerlier.


Sunday Sparkling Brunch $50.00

Noon – 1:30 p.m.  Buy Now

Guests will enjoy a European-style brunch featuring the main sparkling wines of Europe – including French Champagne, Spanish Cava, Italian Prosecco and Moscato d’Asti – plus other intriguing bubblies. They will be paired with a wide range of fruit, cheese, meat, seafood and pastry creations to get your Sunday off to a fine start.


Seminars

Seminars for Friday March 19, 2010

Navigating the New Wine Media $20.00

David Lawrason, WineAlign Critic
12:30 p.m.  Buy Now

Toronto Life and WineAlign critic David Lawrason will lead a panel discussion on the emergence of on-line wine reviewing and social media through websites like WineAlign, Facebook and Twitter, and how wine producers and agents can use them to improve their marketing efforts. Fee donated to Grapes for Humanity.


Name that Flaw $20.00

John Szabo, Master Sommelier and WineAlign Critic
2:00 p.m.  Buy Now

Master Sommelier John Szabo and Dr. Geroge Soleas, head of the LCBO’s Quality Assurance Laboratory will lead an informative seminar on common wine flaws. The audience will blind taste (or maybe just smell) to identify them, while Dr. Soleas delves deeply into their causes and remedies. Participation fee will be donated to Grapes for Humanity.


Does Organic Wine Taste Better? $50.00

John Szabo, Master Sommelier and WineAlign Critic
3:30 p.m.  Buy Now

John Szabo will lead a panel discussion and tasting of organic and bio-dynamic wines. The mysteries of these ultra-organic specialties will be revealed by Scott Jones, vineyard manager at Southbrook Winery, Paul Pender, head winemaker at Tawse Winery, and Mark Cuff of The Living Vine, a leading importer of organic wines in Ontario. The tasting will highlight the complexity, depth and sense of place that make organic wines unique.


Making Sense of Wines $40.00

Anne Martin, Canadian Living Wine Columnist
5:30 p.m.  Buy Now

Sommelier and the wine columnist for Canadian Living, Anne Martin will lead an entertaining tasting that explores the smell, taste and texture of wines of various styles and major grape varieties.


Canadian Gold $60.00

David Lawrason, WineAlign Critic
7:30 p.m.  Buy Now

Presented by Wine Access Canadian Wine Awards, chief judge David Lawrason will pour Ontarion and B.C. top drops that achieved gold medals in 2009, with insight as to what competition judges look for in blind tastings.


Seminars for Saturday March 20, 2010

Making Sense of Wines $40.00

Anne Martin, Canadian Living Wine Columnist
1:00 p.m.  Buy Now

Sommelier and the wine columnist for Canadian Living, Anne Martin will lead an entertaining tasting that explores the smell, taste and texture of wines of various styles and major grape varieties.


Into the Cellar $60.00

Gordon Stimmell, Toronto Star Wine Critic
3:00 p.m.  Buy Now

Toronto Star wine critic Gordon Stimmell discusses wine ageing and cellaring, with four pairs of wines of different styles, one from a recent vintage, one from a mature vintage.


90+ Points $60.00

David Lawrason and John Szabo, WineAlign Critics
6:00 p.m.  Buy Now

WineAlign critics David Lawrason and John Szabo present a selection of eight top scoring international wines currently on the market. The tasting and discussion will revolve around what critics are looking for in terms of quality, and what makes these wines deserving of 90+ ratings.


Seminars for Sunday March 21, 2010

Into the Cellar $60.00

Gordon Stimmell, Toronto Star Wine Critic
12:30 p.m.  Buy Now

Toronto Star wine critic Gordon Stimmell discusses wine ageing and cellaring, with four pairs of wines of different styles, one from a recent vintage, one from a mature vintage.


The Wine Price Challenge $50.00

Steve Thurlow
2:30 p.m.  Buy Now

Steve Thurlow will lead a tasting of wines at various price points to demonstrate the relationship between price and quality. Wines will be tasted blind with guests guessing the price before labels are revealed. Prizes offered.


Italy’s Best Reds & Terroni’s Traditional Southern Italy Food $75.00

John Szabo, Master Sommelier and WineAlign Critic
3:30 p.m.  Buy Now

Master Sommelier John Szabo teams up with Toronto’s favorite southern Italian restaurant, Terroni, to offer an afternoon of great food and wine. Terroni’s chefs Giovanna Alonzi and Fabio Moro will be cooking up six specialty dishes from the bottom of the boot while John presents six of Italy’s best high-end reds.


Limited space is available. Book online now or visit towineandcheeseshow.com. Please note that admission to the show is included in all event and seminar prices.

For more information contact Filomena Feltmate
Call: 905-842-6591 ext 260

Email: ffeltmate@metrolandwest.com

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