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Margaret Swaine’s Wine Picks: Perfect Pinots

Tricky pinot noir can be expensive and disappointing, though when it’s good, it’s delightful. Find these well priced pinots that deliver via WineAlign.com/MargaretsPicks.

Cambria Julia’s Vineyard Pinot Noir 2009
$29.95 (90 Points)
From Santa Barbara’s coastal Santa Maria Valley, this is nicely balanced with a fresh backbone of acidity and smooth tannins. Aged just over eight months in French barriques, it has subtle brown spice notes to its red berry flavours. Graceful with a good finish, enjoy with or without food.

Carrick Pinot Noir 2009
$37.95 (92 Points)
Central Otago on South Island delivers much of New Zealand’s best pinot noir. This version, from a cooler-than-average vintage, is organically farmed and wild yeast fermented. Medium-full bodied and well structured, it has a good grip on the palate with polished tannins. Layered with flavours of fresh cherry and spice, it has a pleasantly lingering finish.

Domaine Chanson Beaune-Bastion 2009 
$39.95 (92 Points)
This premier cru burgundy from an estate founded in 1750 has a lovely earthy berry bouquet and traditional style. Lively on the palate with cherry/raspberry, subtle oak, a touch of spice and supple tannins, it’s elegantly French. Pleasurable to drink now, have with pork tenderloin, veal with porcini or pasta with wild mushrooms.

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Lawrason’s Take on Vintages Sept 29th Release

Super Tuscans, Power Pinots, Giants of South America and Bargain Whites

David Lawrason

David Lawrason

Vintages September 29 release is in most respects a tour de force – with brilliant if small collections from the hills of Tuscany, the pinot fields of Australia and New Zealand, the energized valleys of Chile and Argentina, and arguably from a laid back California (although hardly a good value selection in this instance except for the 2010 Artezin Zinfandel).

There are also many interesting whites and reds from the various corners of Europe, making this a release to pore over carefully as you research your purchases on WineAlign, then pour generously when the time comes to indulge.

Tuscany Defined

I very much enjoy both tasting and drinking Tuscan reds. And it goes deeper than all that Tuscan romance – you know – those warbling tenors strolling amid the olive groves, non-chalantly leaning against crumbling stone walls and soulfully serenading star-crossed lovers in village trattorias. I like to taste Tuscan reds because they are challenging and complicated, and I like to drink them with food for exactly the same reason. They are almost never boring,  even if they can sometimes go the other way and become too jarring.

Vintages has done a fine job collecting some excellent examples while presenting a cross section of prices, styles, regions, big names and little names. Someone really thought this through; in fact if I were to conduct a one-day course on Tuscany I would grab each and every one. So its rather hard to isolate a very few to highlight here (I have gone for value), and I urge you spend time researching all the selections.

Remember that most are variations on a sangiovese theme, a grape with an often tart and impudent reputation. Some are aged longer, some shorter, some in old Slavonain oak, some in new French barriques, some blended with merlot, cabernet and syrah to in-fill sangiovese’s aggressiveness, some straight-up. The only thing relatively new under the Tuscan sun are the cabernet-merlot sangiovese-free reds from the coast in Bolgheri.

Poggio Al Tesoro SondraiaSo let’s begin in Bolgheri with the very sensous 2008 Poggio Al Tesoro Sondraia, which beautifully defines ultra-modern sensibilities at a comparatively reasonable price of $44.95. The most famous wines of the region – Sassicaia and Ornellaia – are five times this price, and believe me, they are not five times better. (I recently scored 08 Sassicaia under 90). Sondraia was made by a young Nicola Biasi, working at a new winery founded recently in part by the Allegrini family of Verona in northeast Italy. Knowing this after having tasted put the style very much into perspective. Allegrini wines are always sleek, layered and accessible. This one also has impressive depth that belies its sculpted ease.

Rocca Delle Macìe Chianti RiservaLivio Sassetti Brunello Di MontalcinoBy contrast, Livio Sassetti 2005 Brunello Di Montalcino is more rustic, mature and typically Tuscan. And in the world of Brunello, Tuscany’s “biggest” sangiovese, it is very well priced at $39.95. There are two other excellent brunellos on the release as well but this conveys a bit more excitement and sensuality, which is something Tuscan red should always have. Grown on the Pertamali estate owned by the Sassetti family for three generations, this is traditionally made 100% sangiovese grosso aged three years in old Slavonian barrels.

The 2008 Rocca Delle Macìe Chianti Riserva at $15.95 is a more basic Chianti, but this repeat listing gets a mention once again due to its great value. It is indeed lighter and shorter than the more expensive wines above, and it does rely on quite generous oak. But in behind the lushness lurks a finesse and again, sensuality, that rarely found in any wine at this price.

Aussie & Kiwi Power Pinots

After buying all the Tuscans, I would love to buy virtually every pinot noir on this release too.  Vintages has focused on a mittful from the Mornington Peninsula of Victoria, Australia and Central Otago in New Zealand, and there is an excitement factor across the range that should convince the last die-hard Burghound that there are great pinot sites in the New World. Indeed all of them up the wattage over Burgundy, without sacrificing the nuance and complexity that makes pinot noir so intruiging in the old country.

Kooyong Estate Pinot NoirRiorret Merricks Grove Vineyard Pinot NoirKooyong Estate 2010 Pinot Noir from the Mornington Peninsula is one of several bottlings en route to Ontario from this cool climate pinot specialist. The others are single vineyard wines made at the striking Port Philip Estate winery situated in the Red Hill area in the heart of Mornington. It is powerful, riveting, bold fruited yet natural pinot that should be cellared, but it captures amazing character $49.95.

Riorret Merricks Grove Vineyard 2009 Pinot Noir, also from Mornington Peninsula, is the real sensualist. Riorret, which is “terroir” spelled backwards, is a line of single vineyard pinots from giant De Bortoli of the Yarra Valley. Merricks Grove is a cooler, north-facing, red soiled site in central Mornington planted in 1992. This is a very complex, intriguing, and almost haunting, offering plenty of funky character at $34.95

Tarras The Canyon Single Vineyard Pinot NoirThe 2008 Tarras The Canyon Single Vineyard Pinot Noir ($46.95) from Central Otago on New Zealand’s South Island is perhaps the most intense and heady. Tarras, named for a nearby town, only ramped up in 2007, and almost immediately won a slew of international honours. The Canyon vineyard is on terraced high ground on a Bendigo sheep station that was planted to several French clones in 2003.

91+ South American Reds

Still below the equator, Chile and Argentina each put forward intriguing wines in this release. I have visited both countries in recent years and I am keenly aware of the huge resources, talent, energy and ambition that is at work on both sides of the Andes. Anyone who still views South American winemaking as a third world enterprise needs to give their head a shake. The advances are shocking in their scope and velocity.

Catena Zapata Nicasia Vineyard La Consulta MalbecLuca MalbecIn Argentina, much of this has been driven by a huge company called Catena, but nowadays dozens of others have picked up the baton. One of the great challenges facing Argentina is to convince the world it can make top tier reds to compete with the best of France, California, Italy and California. It’s easy to slap a big price on the wine but it has to excel in the glass, and usually expensive Argentine reds do not.  So at $89.95 the success of Catena Zapata 2008 Nicasia Vineyard La Consulta Malbec is critical. Many will still balk at $90, but I must tell you that it has rare elegance, layering and precison for malbec that is all the more impressive given its richness and weight. The 2009 Luca Malbec, also from the Catena fold, and from the Uco Valley, is one-third the price at $29.95 but still very impressive and an opportunity to school yourself on the discussion.

Polkura SyrahTerranoble Gran Reserva CarmenèreOver in Chile two great values piqued my interest. I approached the Terranoble 2009 Gran Reserva Carmenère from the Maule Valley with little expectation, but was greeted with a wonderful nose that effortlessly combined deep seated fruit, luscious oak and carmenere’s distinctive herbaceousness. Quite elegant and a great buy at $17.95.

While yet another lesser known house has delivered the astounding Polkura 2009 Syrah for only $23.95. Polkura is a syrah project, founded by Chilean winemaking friends who had travelled together in the south of France. In 2004 they planted a 14 ha syrah vineyard sculpted within a crater-like hillside in the lee of the coastal ranges of western Colchagua. It doesn’t get full-on Pacific influence but enough that you will recognize the cool climate black pepper side of syrah. More importantly, it has some poise amid that drenching of cassis/cherry fruit.

Bargain Whites Under $20 Picks

And as usual I would like to quickly point you to three terrific white wine values. This is becoming a regular habit, and I hope a useful feature. And I have noticed it tends to highlight more Euro whites than new New world whites. If there is a bias at work it is unintentional, but it probably has to do with the higher level of acidity and lower level of alcohol in the Euro whites. As well, modern winemaking is now giving greater freedom to express the subtle aromas of white grapes and preserve their inherent freshness.

Markus Molitor RieslingRudolf Rabl Löss Grüner VeltlinerChampy Signature Chardonnay BourgogneMarkus Molitor 2011 Riesling is a cracker, dry Moesl riesling at only $18.95. As much as I technically admire the complex, riveting Molitor single vineyard rieslings, I do find them overbearing at times. While this is one to reach for every day and still be impressed. Likewise with the apparently simple 2011 Rudolf Rabl Löss Grüner Veltliner from Kamptal, Austria at a mere $13.95. It is very well made, subtle and well balanced – the ideal chef’s white when preparing your evening meal. And chardonnay fans shouldn’t miss Champy Signature 2009 Bourgogne at only $18.95, a wine with surprising complexity and depth under $20. I visited this very small negociant property in Beaune in May. Under new owndership since 2007, it is in the midst of restoring its reputation with some brilliant winemaking and by aggressively buying vineyards to build its domain portfolio.

Up Coming Events:

Next week is a big one for wine events.

The annual Chilean Wine Festival runs Tuesday evening, October 2nd at the Royal Ontario Museum and WineAlign readers can still take advantage of a savings through a promotional offer here. Presented by Wines of Chile and the Chilean Trade Commission, over 30 wineries will be pouring over 150 wines – a great chance to explore varieties, regions and meet winemakers themselves. Those attending the afternoon trade-only session will enjoy a seminar moderated by WineAlign’s Janet Dorozynski, who will also write a wrap up piece here next week.

The very next evening, October 3rd, you can attend Sip and Savour Ontario at the Distillery District. This is the annual event that showcases winners of Tony Aspler’s Ontario Wine Awards and raises funds for www.houselink.on.ca. This year there is a new twist as about 30 Ontario wineries are joined by six celebrity chefs. Full details and tickets are available at www.sipandsavourontario.ca

That’s a wrap for this week. From here through December the Vintages releases get bigger and even better, so don’t go away.

Cheers,

David Lawrason
VP of Wine

From the September 29th, 2012 Vintages release:

David’s Featured Wines
All Reviews


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Penfolds Bin 28 Kalimna Shiraz 2009


Chilean Wine Festival


The Wine Establishment - Code 38 Stealth

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Margaret Swaine’s Wine Picks: Flavours that define their regions

Among the releases in Vintages last week, this trio has flavours that really define their region and varietal. Find these picks via WineAlign.com/MargaretsPicks.

Norman Hardie County Pinot Noir 2010
$35.00 (91 Points)
From Prince Edward County, Hardie’s wines have oodles of personality and intensity without losing poise and structure. This unfiltered red has a lovely, earthy burgundian bouquet. Medium bodied and elegant with savoury, barnyard notes, good fruit and silky refined tannins, it drinks well now but could be cellared for several years.

Burgáns Albariño 2010
$17.95 (89 Points)
A great value from the winery Bodegas Martin Códax, which helped put Galicia’s Rias Baixas, in Spain’s northwest, on the route to fame for its albariño varietal whites. The bouquet is aromatic and fruity and the taste has juicy, tangy flavours of stone fruits and minerals. Medium-bodied, textured and supple on the palate, it has a refreshing acidity. Lovely for fish, molluscs and scallops.

Burgess Cabernet Sauvignon 2005
$37.95 (90 Points)
Founded in 1972, this family-owned winery on the western slopes of Howell Mountain delivers a plush and ripe Napa Valley cabernet. Deep garnet in colour, it has hints of herbs and menthol on the ripe berry bouquet. Rounded, medium-full bodied, its red berry flavours are enhanced with notes of cocoa and cedar. A good red meat wine.

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John Szabo’s Vintages Preview for September 29th 2012

Switching Your Pleasure Meter From Price to Typicity; Top Ten Smart Buys; Top Ten Tuscan Wines

John Szabo, MS

John Szabo, MS

This week’s report comes live from Halifax, Nova Scotia, where the country’s top six wine professionals are competing for the title of Canada’s Best Sommelier. So I’m busy marking papers and putting these wine pros through the wringer of mock restaurant service and blind wine tasting (it’s far easier to be on the judges’ side of the table). The winner and runner-up will move on to represent Canada at the Pan-American sommelier championships in Brazil later next month. I have a great deal of admiration and respect for anyone willing to put their reputations on the line and push themselves to the limit; it’s the only way of discovering your strengths and weaknesses. Those who don’t test themselves never truly know where they stand. Regardless of the final results, each of the candidates will be, well, stronger for it.

Sara d’Amato will be doing a full report on the competition in a forthcoming posting. So I’ll focus on a revolutionary way to get pleasure without necessarily spending a fortune on wine, as well as a quick round-up of my Top Ten Smart Buys from the September 29th Vintages release. I also lay out my top ranked wines from the main thematic of the release, Tuscany.

Pleasure Without the Price

Last week I was in the Loire Valley, traveling from Sancerre to Nantes (Muscadet country) getting reacquainted with the region’s wines. A full report will be published next week, but I wanted to share a thought with you this week that came into focus while talking to a particularly thoughtful vigneron, Claude Papin of Château Pierre Bise in Anjou. In the business we’re forever talking about things like quality and value. And I know that anyone who shops for, and drinks wine, considers those notions, at least from time to time, and maybe even all the time. I wrestle with the subject often – as regular readers know, it’s one of my great preoccupations.

Last week I found myself enjoying dozens of wines, I mean, really enjoying. But it was causing some consternation because the vast majority were inexpensive, and some even downright cheap, the sort of wine that you’d see on a shelf and keep right on walking by, thinking to yourself that wine that cheap couldn’t possibly be any good (I’m talking below $15 on an LCBO shelf). But these inexpensive wines were offering a lot of pleasure. Then I began to realize that the more I travel and taste and learn, the less direct the relationship between price and pleasure becomes. In fact, more often than not, I prefer the less expensive wines in a given winery’s range, or some of the less heralded producers in an expensive, name brand appellation, or even the wines of a totally unknown region.

Claude Papin

Viticulture lesson with Claude Papin

So my terroir hunting colleague Bill Zacharkiw of the Montreal Gazette and I arrived at Papin’s estate late one afternoon just before sunset. We immediately jumped into his station wagon and headed out to the vineyards, the beginning and the end of the story that relates what’s in the glass. In the midst of a thesis level discussion of terroir and viticulture that was admittedly beyond my grasp at times, we got on to the subject of wine, pleasure and value. Then Papin, rather matter of factly and without any hesitation, issued forth a truth so basic and unassailable that it could only have been arrived at after years of thoughtful deliberation. “Well”, he said, “quality is purely subjective, but typicity is objective. You can measure typicity, and it can also give you pleasure”. It took a moment for the profoundness of the simple statement to sink in, but suddenly all was clear. Once you’ve understood and accepted that anyone’s notion of quality is indeed purely subjective – what I like or you like or she likes – and that wines of typicity, that is, wines that reflect a place and grape, can be identified and quantified (as happens in blind tastings), you can free yourself from the shackles of price and re-orient your entire notion of pleasure.

I realized that I have been drawn ever closer to wines of typicity, that my greatest pleasure comes from identifiable wines. It also made clear why I care less and less for many of the world’s most expensive wines, those that are stuffed full of wood and alcohol and unnatural concentration, the ones that score all of the points in most publications, but that you’d be hard pressed to identify in a blind tasting. I quickly felt comfortable again about enjoying inexpensive wines, knowing that typicity can come at all price points. I know I get more pleasure from a $15 wine with sense of place and made with minimal intervention than I do from a $100 bottle chock-full of winemaking techniques that could have been made in any part of the world.

At the same time, I also realized that Papin’s deep insight is discomforting for the majority of wine consumers. Price is easy to understand. Impact impresses. A personal notion of quality is self-evident and takes no expertise. But typicity, on the other hand, has the disadvantage of requiring significant context. You have to know what typicity is to recognize it. And it’s not easy to know what all of the world’s wines are supposed to taste like, unplugged, without a thousand enological adjustments (not to mention that typicity is still being established in many new growing regions). This also explains why top sommeliers and wine geeks are always switched on to wines that most people frankly don’t like, at least not on first sip, because they have the context that we don’t always have. You need to build some context before you can, enjoy, say, a searingly acidic Gros Plant du Pays Nantais that most people would use to clean windows. That is, until you understand that it’s supposed to be that way.

So if you’re tired of needing to spend $30 or $50 or more to really get your kicks, try switching your pleasure mode from price/quality to typicity. Get to know a region, taste as much as you can, and build your context. Familiarity breeds pleasure, not contempt, in the world of aromas, flavours and tastes. Then the next time you come across a wine whose profile matches what you know the region/grape typically produces, you will derive pleasure, guaranteed. You’ll see how a $13 “classic” Muscadet, to give just one example, can make you happier than a $30 non-distinctive, designer bottle of chardonnay from anywhere. It’s fun. And barring significant effort for context development, you can always count on my top picks to deliver high on the typicity scale, at least the way I see it. I’ve got a decent measure of context, and my only goal is to build it up more and more.

Smart Buys with Typicity

In the spirit of typicity, here are a half dozen highlights from the September 29th release. They’re not all cheap wines; some are even expensive by most standards, but they are distinctive.

Elk Cove Pinot NoirLa Crau De Ma Mère Châteauneuf Du PapeLA CRAU DE MA MÈRE CHÂTEAUNEUF-DU-PAPE 2010 $44.95

Richly aromatic, spicy, immediately recognizable southern Rhône character here with full, concentrated, fleshy savory fruit, massive extract and concentration but likewise so much fruit depth to compensate. This wine should last for at least a couple of decade, but is also delicious now – imagine a savory slow-grilled leg of lamb or lamb barbacoa Mexican style and you’ll be happy.

ELK COVE PINOT NOIR 2009 $37.95

A very pretty, classy, elegant example of Willamette Valley pinot noir, a little riper than many (though still in a cool climate idiom). Fruit covers a nice range of tart red berries, fresh black berries, old wood spice and fresh earth. The palate is firm and well structured, while 14.2% alcohol is perfectly integrated. This has the stuffing to age and improve to be sure. Lovely wine.

Jacopo Biondi Santi SassoalloroDei Vino Nobile Di MontepulcianoJACOPO BIONDI SANTI SASSOALLORO 2008 $35.95

Richly aromatic, complex and spicy on the nose, with a fine blend of red and black berry fruit, earth, resinous herbs, licorice and on and on. The palate is succulent and juicy, firm and fresh, deceptively concentrated despite the medium weight impression – this has genuine depth without recourse to excess ripeness or oak. Very fine, in an elegant style.

DEI VINO NOBILE DI MONTEPULCIANO 2008 $28.95

Here’s a fine, fragrant, elegant style of Vino Nobile, more floral than fruity, with light vanilla and cinnamon spice notes. The palate is medium-bodied, balanced, with fine-grained tannins and vivid acids; very good length. A feminine wine all around, with lots of appeal.

Gilles Blanchet Pouilly FuméHoffmann Simon Piesporter Goldtröpfchen Riesling SpätleseHOFFMANN-SIMON PIESPORTER GOLDTRÖPFCHEN RIESLING SPÄTLESE 2011 $21.95

A classy, perfumed, inviting spätlese from one of the top vineyards in the Mosel. The warmth of this full south-facing precipitously steep site shines through in this example, delivering succulent, fully ripe peach, pear, nectarine and yellow plum flavours underpinned by acids and minerality. Excellent length and depth. Terrific wine, excellent value.

GILLES BLANCHET POUILLY-FUMÉ 2011 $19.95

This is a lively, stony-mineral, yet also fleshy and succulent (quite ripe and concentrated) version of Pouilly-Fumé. There’s an extra measure of depth and ripe fruit flavour on the palate, with evident density and weight, plus excellent length. Fine wine, nice price.

FINCA NUEVA FERMENTADO EN BARRICA BLANCO 2010 $15.95

Never mind the totally nondescript label; This is an intriguing, ripe, creamy but still fresh example of white Rioja, with marked but reasonably well integrated, and good quality, oak. The depth and length are impressive for the money to be sure. Worth a look for fans of barrel-aged wines, especially when serving white meat or rich seafood.

Cheers,

John Szabo, MS

John Szabo, Master Sommelier

From the September 29, 2012 Vintages release:

Top Ten Smart Buys
Top Ten Tuscan Wines
All Reviews


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Penfolds Bin 28 Kalimna Shiraz


Chilean Wine Festival


The Wine Establishment - Le Nez deu Vin

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Tutored Tasting with Award-Winning Yalumba Winemaker, Louisa Rose

WineAlign is pleased to present an exclusive tutored tasting with Yalumba Chief Winemaker Louisa Rose

Yalumba Octavius Old Vine Shiraz

Yalumba Octavius Old Vine Shiraz

Shiraz is the pride of the Barossa Valley. In this region it thrives, and big Barossa Shiraz is arguably the wine that put Australia on the map. Today, the region is yielding some exciting new varietals alongside a range of different Shiraz styles.

Join Yalumba Chief Winemaker Louisa Rose, one of Australia’s leading wine innovators, and John Szabo, MS, in a tutored tasting that will allow you to discover Viognier from the Eden Valley sub-region, and perhaps see Shiraz in a new light.

“Barossa: Shiraz under a new light”

You may have heard of the Viognier Monologues; this will be a dialogue between Viognier and Shiraz. What happens when these two varieties get together may surprise you!

Wines to be tasted:

Jansz Tasmania Premium NV Cuvee (Reception wine, 94pts JH)
Yalumba Eden Valley Viognier 2011
Yalumba The Virgilius Viognier 2009 (95pts JH)
Yalumba FSW8B Botrytis Viognier 2012
Yalumba Y Series Shiraz Viognier 2010 (89pts JH)
Yalumba Eden Valley Shiraz Viognier 2009
Yalumba Handpicked Shiraz Viognier 2009 (92pts WS)
Yalumba Patchwork Barossa Shiraz 2010
Yalumba Octavius Old Vine Shiraz 2006 (95pts RP)

Event Details:

Wednesday, October 3, 2012
Reception: 6:30pm
Tutored tasting: 7:00pm – 8:30pm
Enjoy remaining wines with appetizers: 8:30pm – 9:00pm
Cost:  $65 + HST + fee
Purchase tickets

About Yalumba 

Yalumba Winery

Yalumba was founded in 1849 by Samuel Smith, British migrant and English brewer, who had brought his family to Angaston seeking a new life. After purchasing a 30-acre parcel of land just beyond the southern-eastern boundary of Angaston, Smith and his son began planting the first vines by moonlight. Samuel named his patch “Yalumba” – aboriginal for “all the land around”.

Five generations and 160 years later Yalumba, Australia’s oldest family owned winery, has grown in size and stature, embodying all that has made the Australian wine success story the envy of winemakers the world over.

With uncompromising focus on quality and innovation, Yalumba has consistently produced highly awarded wines. The winery is rated five red stars by James Halliday (Australian Wine Companion 2013). Visit: www.yalumba.com

About Louisa Rose

Yalumba's Louisa Rose

Yalumba’s Louisa Rose

Louisa Rose is a Melbourne native who grew up helping out on the family vineyard. Following her science and winemaking degrees, she joined Yalumba in 1993, becoming Chief Winemaker for Yalumba and the Hill Smith Estate Family vineyards in 2006.

A key area of focus for Louisa has been developmental work with the variety Viognier, and the creation of The Virgilius Viognier – Yalumba’s pre-eminent white wine.

Among her many awards and accolades are Barossa Winemaker of the Year in 1999, two-time finalist for the Qantas/The Wine Magazine Winemaker of the Year, International Woman in Wine at the International Wine and Spirit Competition, and Gourmet Traveler Wine Magazine Winemaker of the Year.  She is also a Baron of the Barossa.

About Crush Wine Bar

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.

Why not book dinner at Crush for after the tasting?

Yalumba and Jansz are represented in Ontario by B&W Wines.

Our winemaker events have been consistently and quickly selling out. If you are interested in attending then we advise you to purchase your tickets as soon as possible to avoid disappointment.  Purchase tickets

JH – James Halliday; WS – Wine Spectator; RP – Robert Parker

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Tantalizing Tequila; Margaret Swaine’s Spirits Review

Margaret Swaine

Margaret Swaine

I’m not just imagining it. Every time I went to Mexico I was certain there were hundreds more tequilas available than on my previous visit. Now after talking with some tequila experts I know it’s true. According to those in the know there are today over 140 tequila distilleries in Mexico and more than 3,000 registered brands. Enough to give you a colossal headache if the current versions weren’t so smooth and sophisticated.

The gentlemen who filled me in on the latest were Juan Pablo De Loera, a Tequila Technician who has a tequila bar in Guadalajara and now travels the world with the Tahona Society team and Steffin Oghene who was General Manager of London’s Green & Red Bar (home to one of the largest selections of 100% agave tequilas in Europe) for three years. Both were in Toronto to lead tequila seminars.

Sauza Hornitos Reposado TequilaJuan told me the cocktail scene at Playa del Carmen in Riviera Maya was the best in Mexico and from my experience there I’d agree. The bustling seaside town holds an annual tequila fest and also has a Hacienda Tequila Museum on 5th Avenue, its main street. The museum is rather hokey but the collection of tequilas for sale is enormous including the deluxe versions that sell for hundreds of dollars a bottle. It’s almost impossible to decide what to purchase. They do pour free samples – I tried a dozen or so before I made up my mind- not a bad way to go shopping.

Most of the production however of tequila takes place in another part of Mexico – Jalisco. The climate in Jalisco is ideal for Blue Agave cultivation, tequila’s primary raw material. (Agave Tequilana Weber Azul is one of over 130 species of agave and the only one authorized for tequila.) Jalisco represents a wonderful fusion of the past and present. Along with distillery tours and tastings, visitors can experience ancient archaeological sites, 300 year-old haciendas and the colonial heritage of Guadalajara, Jalisco’s cosmopolitan capital and Mexico’s second-largest city.

In 1974 the Mexican government designated Jalisco and four other Mexican states as the only regions that could produce government certified tequila. Jalisco produces the vast majority, some experts suggested about 98 per cent of all tequila, as tequila production is authorized for the whole region. The others can only produce in small strictly defined areas within their state. The spirit itself got its current name from the town of Tequila, named after the Tequili tribe who first inhabited Jalisco.

Blue Agave

Herradura’s Blue Agave

This spiny succulent Blue Agave plant, deified by the Aztecs, is the key to tequila’s unique flavour. Distantly related to the lily and aloe family it takes from seven to nine years to grow to harvest size. Maturity is important to get the correct sugar levels. Some producers such as Sauza are encouraging earlier harvests at six years old, by using modern methods of sugar extraction and aiming for a fruitier profile.

El Jimador Tequila ReposadoOlmeca Altos ReposadoHigh end producers such as Herradura and Olmeca own their own agave fields and tightly control the harvest. San José del Refugio, located in the town of Amatitán in Jalisco is the tequila-producing hacienda that has been making Herradura tequila since 1870. It’s an impressive place to visit and many take the Tequila Express train, a 90-minute ride from Guadalajara through the agave fields to Herradura. Express is a bit of a misnomer, as the historic passenger train is really more party-central complete with Mariachis, snacks and plenty of tequila.

Herradura still has the traditional old stone ovens used to cook the agave piñas (pineapple-shaped heart of the plant) before fermentation. Olmeca also uses those slow cooking “hornos”. A modern invention is the auto-clave, a stainless steel pressure cooker than speeds up the process; the agave is cooked in a few hours instead of days as in the hornos. After cooking the hearts are then crushed, shredded or grounded into a pulp. Sausa has perfected a “diffuser process” that extracts the sugar without the need to cook the piñas – mechanical shredders break down the fibers, then just the juice is cooked.

Olmeca Gold TequilaThe most traditional places use a Tahona, a large stone wheel turned by donkeys, oxen or tractors to crush the piñas. It pivots in a circular space (often a cement well) mashing the pulp of the agave into a coarse paste to extract the juice. Olmeca is one of only six distilleries left using the Tahona. The Tahona society takes its name from this process. Olmeca Tezón is super premium tequila made from 100 per cent agave using the Tahona method – the un-aged Tezón Blanco is freshly herbal; Tezón Reposado, aged 8 – 10 months is multilayered and smooth with a touch of spice; and Tezón Añejo, aged 18 to 20 months is velvety and creamy with agave and cognac-like notes.  I haven’t seen them on LCBO shelves for a while but if they do reappear, I recommend you grab a bottle or two.

By law all Tequila must be produced from no less than 51 percent of sugars from the blue agave, with the rest from other natural sugars, most commonly corn or sugar cane. Tequilas containing more of the blue agave sugars have a more pronounced agave taste. If the label doesn’t say “100% Agave,” or a similar statement, the product is mixto tequila. I prefer the 100 per cent agave tequilas – I love that special, somewhat herbal and spicy, agave taste.

The majority of aged (añejo) tequilas spend their time in ex-bourbon barrels but lately there’s been some testing with former cognac and sherry casks to give different finishes to the final spirit. Single cask tequilas are another new to market product.

One thing is certain, tequilas are getting increasingly sophisticated and numerous. Sip and savour them instead of downing them in one gulp, with the lick salt and bite a lime ritual. That’s so old college.

For all reviews by Margaret Swaine, click here.


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Chilean Wine Festival


Chabasse XO Cognac


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Margaret Swaine’s Wine Picks: Lucious locals

The LCBO launches its biggest ever “Go Local” campaign starting Sept. 16, and more than 90 restaurants in the province will feature a special menu pairing locavore dishes with Ontario wine. Find these via WineAlign.com/MargaretsPicks.

Tawse Quarry Road Chardonnay 2010
$34.95 (93 points)
This organically and biodynamically farmed Vinemount Ridge (silty-clay soil over limestone) white is aged a year in French oak, showing well in the toasty bouquet and nicely integrated on the palate. Firm, elegant fruit makes it flavourful with admirable structure and length.

Kacaba Cabernet Merlot 2009
$16.95 (89 points)
This red blend aged for 16 months in a combo of French and American oak is a tad lighter with savoury, herbal Bordeaux-style flavours overlaid with ripe berry. Smooth with a clear uplift of acidity and a touch of spice, it’s a good match for lamb or duck.

Henry of Pelham Reserve Baco Noir 2010
$24.95 (89 points)
Henry of Pelham knows how to make the best of a hybrid grape. From low-yielding vines planted in 1984 on Short Hills Bench, aged 18 months in oak, this dark purple wine is flavourful and meaty with juicy blackberry and smoky vanilla notes, as well as a touch of bacon. A brooding bruiser with attitude, it’s a match for venison and wild boar.

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Chilean Wine Festival returns to Toronto with an Exclusive offer for WineAlign members

Chile Chile Logo

Wines of Chile and the Trade Commission of Chile (ProChile) present their 9th annual grand tasting and celebration of wine and food – the Chilean Wine Festival. An outstanding set of 30 wineries bring 150 wines for this tasting. In a Chilean Wine Festivalcasual yet sophisticated setting, guests can mingle with winemakers while sampling from an array of red and white varietals and a selection of food pairings and gourmet cheeses.

Explore the Regions

Chile’s outstanding diversity of wines stems from the country’s extraordinary geography and A Mosaic of Terroirsunique climate. Regionality is the key to Chile’s stylistic development and winemakers are striving to reflect the different terroirs that the country can offer, especially in the cooler coastal areas and in the Andean foothills.

Avid wine consumers today recognize the names Casablanca, Maipo and Colchagua, but these are just the beginnings of a host of appellations. It is this mosaic of terroirs and wineries that composes Wines of Chile.

Meet the Winemakers

The 2012 Toronto tasting will feature two focus tables: Chile: The Natural Choice and 9th Annual Wines of Chile Awards Winners and the following participating wineries:

Apaltagua, Arboleda, Caliterra, Carmen, Concha Y Toro, Cono Sur, Cousino Macul, De Martino, Dos Andes, Emiliana, Errazuriz, Los Maquis, Discover ChileMaipo, Montes, Mont Gras, Morandé, Pérez Cruz, Requingua, San Esteban, San Pedro, Santa Alicia, Santa Carolina, Santa Ema, Santa Rita, Seña, Siegel, Valdivieso, Ventisquero, VIA Wines and Vistamar.

Exclusive Offer

WineAlign readers are invited to discover the wines of Chile with an exclusive offer. Purchase your tickets using the promotional code WINEALIGN and you will get $10 off the regular admission price of $75.

Date & Time:

Tuesday October 2nd, 2012 Toronto, Ontario
Walk-About Tasting – 7:00 pm – 9:30 pm

Venue:

Royal Ontario Museum, Peter F Bronfman Hall, 2nd level
100 Queens Park, Toronto

Price: $75 regular, $65 with the promotional code WINEALIGN

Click here to purchase tickets

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Lawrason’s Take On Vintages Sept 15th Release

David Lawrason

David Lawrason

Talking Ontario, Great Cabernet Taste-Off, Five Cellaring Reds, Fine Whites and Bargains

Ontario Wine: People are talking, and talking… Called People are Talking, the largest LCBO promotion of Ontario wine in history kicks off this weekend, with a wide-reaching program of in-store tastings and spotlighting of new and old wines. It is impressive on paper – 142 wines highlighted (whatever that means) at LCBO stores, with 24 new wines among them. There will be 1,200 in-store tastings, and they will be out collecting consumer testimonials at the same time. Vintages is releasing 21 local wines this Saturday (see my picks below), and has published a long conversation among its buyers, sommeliers and writers.

But so much of this, like other regional promotions at the LCBO, is smoke and mirrors – or perhaps I should say, just talk. Where are price reductions that would really drive traffic? Where are the political initiatives to really help local wines by creating stand-alone Ontario wine stores? As it is now, most Ontario wine is not available at the LCBO, and most wineries can otherwise only sell out of their tasting rooms or on-line with direct delivery to restaurants and individuals, (while B.C. wineries by comparison have four retail streams). There is indeed a lot of excitement and talk around the wine quality itself; but until government gets itself out of the way too few people will be exposed to what Ontario is capable of doing.

And here at WineAlign we are talking about Ontario wine too. Colleague John Szabo has penned a terrific piece on WineAlign called Does Buying Local Make Sense?, in which he very cogently tackles complex issues around diversity, quality, value and the importance of “necessary” wines in Ontario. And I have published an opinion piece in Grapevine magazine titled: Canadian Wine’s Coming Freedom from Over-Regulation, arguing that due to the quality now being achieved it is indeed time for governments, and even Canada’s VQA program, to back off and let we consumers decide which Canadian wines we can buy, as well as decide where, when and how we want to do that. We are paying the freight. The full text is at grapevinemagazine.ca.

2027 Cellars Falls Vineyard Riesling 2011Bachelder Niagara Chardonnay 2010Featherstone Cabernet Franc 2010Norman Hardie County Unfiltered Pinot Noir 2010

As you read these pieces, open any of the following wines from the September 15th release, and it will all make a lot more sense. Vintages has done a good job focusing squarely on the five wines/styles Ontario does best – riesling, chardonnay, pinot noir, cabernet franc and icewine/late harvest. Riesling is well represented with four strong candidates, but I particularly liked the tension and depth of 2027 Falls Vineyard 2011 Riesling from Vinemount Ridge ($18.95). Among the chardonnays, Bachelder 2010 Niagara Chardonnay, Niagara Peninsula ($29.95) is a brilliant and thoroughly modern example of Ontario’s potential with this grape. Featherstone 2010 Cabernet Franc, also from Niagara Peninsula ($16.95) is also a great example of new thinking around this plentiful grape, (and I can let you in on a little secret that 27 Ontario cabernet francs have won medals at the 2012 Canadian Wine Awards, including four golds). And finally, although I found the Niagara pinots on this release a bit difficult, I am very pleased with the slim, tidy and long finishing Norman Hardie 2010 County Unfiltered Pinot Noir from Prince Edward County ($35.00). My full review is also in the Vintages magazine.

Wolf Blass’ Great Cabernet Blend Taste-Off

If you have been partaking of the Toronto International Film Festival you are likely aware that Australia’s Wolf Blass is the exclusive wine sponsor. Ontario has been a key market for Wolf Blass over the years, often a launching pad for new brands, and for several years Yellow Label was the top-selling wine at the LCBO, at any price. So Wolf Blass himself has been in red-carpet-ville much of this week, along with chief winemaker Chris Hatcher. They used the occasion of TIFF to conduct a most interesting tasting on Tuesday, where 30 top, most respected Cabernet Sauvignon blends of the 2008 vintage from Bordeaux, Australia, California and Chile were blind tasted by ten wine writers and sommeliers assembled from across Canada. The same tasting was held in Melbourne two weeks ago and next month will be replicated in London, England.

Chris Hatcher - Winemaker

Chris Hatcher, Wolf Blass

It was not billed as “competition” but of course blind tasting by its nature engenders competition, and yes, Wolf Blass Black Label ranked number one, to which Chris Hatcher said “thanks for that mates”. It was picked ahead of all the first growths of Bordeaux, most of super-second growths, Opus One and Insignia from California and Almaviva from Chile. What I enjoyed most about this exercise was simply trying to delineate which regions the wines were from, and I was right at least 50% of the time. But I was surprised about how many Bordeaux I picked as New World wines, even in a more spare vintage like 2008. Bordeaux loves to talk about its classicism and sense of place, but some examples wore so much new oak, and fully ripened structure that it was hard to pin them as Bordeaux. And on the other side of the ledger the New World examples were trying to dial back the ripeness and oak in search of elusive Bordeaux restraint.

In the end the vast majority were excellent wines. I only scored two less than 90 points – but excellent quality should be routine at the triple-digit price of all these wines. And for the record, I didn’t score Black Label the highest. It was in my top third at 94 points, but a couple were higher, with my favourite being the electric Chateau Lascombes 2008, a Margaux that actually has a higher merlot content. Chateau Mouton-Rothschild 2008 and Almaviva 2008 were at 95 points, with six at 94. I hope one day soon to publish complete reviews from this tasting on WineAlign, but there was no time for this newsletter.

Five Great Cellar Reds That Don’t Cost over $100

Now back to earth and this release, where there were few themes other than Ontario. So I would like to simply present five excellent 90+ point reds that are accessible, available and don’t cost hundreds of dollars.

Stags' Leap Winery Petite SirahTwo Hands Lily's Garden ShirazFrom California Stags’ Leap Winery 2008 Petite Sirah ($44.95) is perhaps the best single bottle of petite sirah I have ever had. Also called durif, this syrah-like variety has always had a bit of cult following in California, but has rarely topped the charts because it usual lacks finesse and flavour depth. This one captures both.

From Australia, Two Hands Lily’s Garden 2010 Shiraz ($62.95) from the McLaren Vale is a minor masterpiece, very sumptuous but finally tuned with calvacade of flavours. It is aged entirely in American oak for almost two years, but it is amazingly not-very-oaky, which speaks to the fruit depth achieved.

From the Rhone Valley of France, Domaine de la Côte de l’Ange 2010 Châteauneuf-du-Pape ($37.95) is yet another testament to the quality of this vintage in the south of France. It is reserved so it was not an immediately obvious hit, but it has good density, poise and length that will reward five years in the cellar. The 14 ha family vineyard owned Corinne Mestre is naturally farmed, and the wine is concrete fermented and aged in large, old oak foudres.

Chateau Musar 2002Ruffino Ducale Oro Chianti Classico RiservaDomaine De La Côte De L'ange Châteauneuf Du PapeFrom Tuscany, Italy comes one of the great classics. Ruffino Ducale Oro 2007 Chianti Classico Riserva ($43.95) is just hitting prime time. It’s a classic take on Tuscany; chock full of rusticity and richness. If you are fan on Brunello di Montalcino you should enjoy this just as much, for a few dollars less than most brunellos.

And finally from Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley comes one of the great, traditional classics. Chateau Musar 2002 is ready to drink, in fact should be drunk within a couple of years. You may balk at $54.95 for Lebanese wine but it is worth every inch of that price as a lesson in wine maturing and the weave of texture and flavour into a harmonious whole.

Fine Whites Under $30

Villa Maria Cellar Selection Sauvignon BlancRolly Gassmann Stegreben De Rorschwihr GewurztraminerNals Margreid Pinot GrigioFrom Marlborough, New Zealand, Villa Maria Cellar Selection 2011 Sauvignon Blanc only strengthens my impression that Villa Maria is making some of the best wines of any of the larger NZ houses. The wines have such composure! So if you are avoiding NZ sauvignons because they are too aggressive give this a try, at only $21.95.

From Alsace, France comes a monumental Rolly Gassmann 2009 Stegreben de Rorschwihr Gewurztraminer, for $27.95. I say monumental not because it is huge in stature, but because it so statuesquely defines Alsatian gewürztraminer. So it is a monument to the genre for those who want a first class education.

From Italy’s Alto Adige comes the lovely mountain-rendered Nals Margreid 2011 Pinot Grigio ($17.95). This is a co-op winery with over 100 growers, but a modern co-op founded in the mid-eighties that employs the latest thinking in terms of viticulture and winemaking. And this is more than your average Italian pinot grigio.

And a Pair of Great Little Bargains

Azul Portugal Vinho TintoDomaine Jacky Marteau Sauvignon TouraineIf you are always on the look-out for great buys cheap, don’t miss the spry, juicy little white Domaine Jacky Marteau Sauvignon Touraine from the Loire Valley at $12.95. Or the surprisingly well structured, complex if not hugely deep Azul Portugal 2007 Vinho Tinto from Portugal’s Bairrada region. Again, only $12.95.

That’s it for this release. I hope to see some you Monday (Sept 17) at the sold-out Penfold’s Single Bottle dinner, which by the way, has changed location to House of Moments in the Riverdale area of Toronto. I can’t make it to the Boekenshoutskloof event with Marc Kent but I have enjoyed his wines immensely and he is one of those engaging and very interesting winemakers who is totally tuned into the global wine scene.

See you next time,

David Lawrason
VP of Wine

From the September 15th, 2012 Vintages release:

David’s Featured Wines
All Reviews


WineAlign is pleased to present our Winemaker Series 

These intimate and exclusive events allow our members the opportunity to enjoy great wines with some of the most famous winemakers in the world.

Sept 18th – Paired Tasting Dinner with winemaker Marc Kent

Boekenhoutskloof Winemaker Marc Kent

Founded in 1776, Boekenhoutskloof Winery experienced a re-birth in 1993 when Marc Kent took over. Marc’s skill as winemaker soon shone bright and he started to catch the eyes of wine lovers and writers around the world, garnering the only FIVE star rating for a South African winery from the esteemed Robert Parker. In addition, Boekenhoutskloof was recently awarded “2012 Winery of the Year” by Platter’s South African Wine Guide.

Join Marc and WineAlign’s Zoltan Szabo on September 18th for an exquisitely paired tasting experience at Barque (one of Toronto’s best new restaurants – Toronto Life) with a lineup of eight of his wines that will quickly convert those new to South Africa.  Event details


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Penfolds Bin 28 Kalimna Shiraz


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Steve’s Top 50 Value Wines from the LCBO – September 2012

Steve Thurlow

Steve Thurlow

Five Fresh Pure Whites from Chile; WineAlign’s Winemaker Series 

Summer is drawing to a close but there is still time to enjoy some delicious whites before the cold of a Canadian winter drives us more towards big reds. There are five whites from Chile that all offer excellent value from three different grapes.

The amazing improvement in the quality of whites from Chile in last few years is mostly due to the sourcing of grapes from cooler coastal vineyards. Little if no oak is now used in the maturation so that we are seeing many lively fresh whites mostly closed with screwtops. The five below are the current best values for Chilean white wines at the LCBO but you should check out the other 45 wines on my Top 50 Value Wines list, since all offer great value.

There are two wines that are new to the list since last month. Read past the next five wines to find more bargains and to discover how the Top 50 is systematically selected.

If you haven’t already done so, you should check out the upcoming events in our winemaker series.  We’ve got three events happening in the next two weeks, two are already sold out and  over 70% of the tickets are sold for the third one.  See below for details on our third event.

Chilean Whites

Viognier

Cono Sur Bicycle Viognier 2011, Colchagua Valley Chile $9.95

Viognier is an aromatic grape originally from the South of France. You should expect lifted tropical fruit aromas which gives great appeal to this wine with orange blossom, baked apple and nutty complexity. It is full bodied and rich with the fruit well balanced by vibrant acidity. Try with sautéed seafood or strongly flavoured cheese.

Cono Sur Bicycle Viognier 2011

Sauvignon Blanc

Errazuriz Estate Sauvignon Blanc 2011, Aconcagua Valley Chile $11.95

This has nicely lifted sauvignon aromatics of hay, lemon, gooseberry and melon. It is elegant creamy and well balanced with very good length with some vibrant passion fruit flavour. Try with sautéed scallops with a lemongrass dressing.

Caliterra Sauvignon Blanc Reserva 2011, Casablanca Valley Chile $8.95

A lot of sauvignon here for the money with its nose of guava, lemon and melon fruit with herbal and mineral tones. The palate is midweight well balanced with good definition and fresh lemony acidity and a degree of elegance. Very good length with the fruit persisting well. Try with grilled chicken or pork.

Errazuriz Estate Sauvignon Blanc 2011Caliterra Sauvignon Blanc Reserva 2011

Chardonnay

Cono Sur Chardonnay Reserva 2011, Casablanca Valley Chile $12.95

This is a very classy well extracted chardonnay for a wine at this price. Expect aromas of white peach with lime citrus and white flowers and hint of honey. The palate is lively and midweight though rich and creamy with green apple and melon fruit flavour. Very pure with racy citrus acidity and a hint of oak. Very good length. Try with sautéed seafood or cheesy pasta sauces.

Santa Carolina Chardonnay Reserva 2011, Casablanca Valley Chile $11.95

This has a lifted nose of complex aromas of peach, melon and grapefruit with honey and toffee notes and a hint of oak spice. It is rich and creamy on the palate with lovely soft lemony acidity which keeps it feeling light. It finishes dry with very good to excellent length. Try with white meats, creamy cheeses and seafood. Don’t overchill.

Cono Sur Chardonnay Reserva 2011 Santa Carolina Chardonnay Reserva 2011

September Top 50 Values List

There are about 1,500 wines listed at the LCBO that are always available, plus another 100 or so Vintages’ Essentials. At WineAlign I maintain a list of the Top 50 LCBO and Vintages Essentials wines selected by price and value – in other words, the best least expensive wines. The selection process is explained in more detail below, but I review the list every month to include newly listed wines and monitor the value of those put on sale for a limited time.

New to the Top 50

August was a quiet month at LCBO and only two new wines arrived on the Top 50; the pace of change will soon pick up with many new wines arriving in next few weeks and the fall aggressive discounting programs kick in.

Lenswood Hills Pinot Noir 2010, Adelaide Hills, Australia $13.95

Lenswood Hills Pinot Noir 2010This wine was $17.35 last month. Such a dramatic price reduction usually indicates that it is being discontinued but there are 1096 bottles in the stores and it does not show as a discontinued item on the LCBO website. Anyway it is a fruity juicy pinot with a degree of elegance not often seen at this price point. Expect aromas of red cherry with raspberry plus some subtle oak spice and a touch of pine. It is midweight and very fruity with the ripe fruit well balanced by acid and tannin. It finishes with a little spicy heat so would be best served slightly chilled. Very good length. Try with smoky duck breast. Best 2012 to 2015.

Villa Sandi Pinot Grigio 2010Villa Sandi Pinot Grigio 2010, Veneto Italy $11.05

The 2010 vintage has been in stores for a while so the 2011 must arrive soon, but this is an excellent pinot grigio for a great price, lots of flavour and well structured for food with no oak. The nose shows melon pear fruit with mineral and herbal complexity. It`s midweight and quite fat with very good length. Don`t overchill or you might miss the good stuff. Try with seafood veal or poultry.

Top 50 Value Wines at LCBO

Before value wine shopping remember to consult the Top50, since it is always changing. If you find that there is a new wine on the shelf or a new vintage that we have not reviewed, let us know. Moreover if you disagree with our reviews, tell us please why we got it wrong and if you think our reviews are accurate, send us some feedback since it’s good to hear that you agree with us.

It is very easy to do this.  Click on Suggestions & Feedback or send an email to feedback@winealign.com.  We look forward to hearing from you.

The Top 50 changes all the time, so remember to check before shopping. I will be back next month with more news on value arrivals to Essentials and the LCBO.

Cheers!

Steve Thurlow


WineAlign is pleased to present our Winemaker Series 

These intimate and exclusive events allow our members the opportunity to enjoy great wines with some of the most famous winemakers in the world.

Sept 18th – Paired Tasting Dinner with winemaker Marc Kent

Boekenhoutskloof Winemaker Marc KentFounded in 1776, Boekenhoutskloof Winery experienced a re-birth in 1993 when Marc Kent took over. Marc’s skill as winemaker soon shone bright and he started to catch the eyes of wine lovers and writers around the world, garnering the only FIVE star rating for a South African winery from the esteemed Robert Parker. In addition, Boekenhoutskloof was recently awarded “2012 Winery of the Year” by Platter’s South African Wine Guide.

Join Marc and WineAlign’s Zoltan Szabo on September 18th for an exquisitely paired tasting experience at Barque (one of Toronto’s best new restaurants – Toronto Life) with a lineup of eight of his wines that will quickly convert those new to South Africa. Event details


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Red Knot Mclaren Vale Cabernet Sauvignon


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Coldstream Hills Pinot Noir 2008