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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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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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Les bons choix de Nadia (2e vague)

Cellier Septembre 2014 (2e vague)
par Nadia Fournier

Nadia Fournier - New - Cropped

Nadia Fournier

Ce matin, le 18 septembre, la SAQ met en vente la deuxième vague de produits du sud de la France. Ce nouvel arrivage Cellier propose une quinzaine de vins rouges chaleureux et bien en chair, en provenance du sud de la vallée du Rhône et du Languedoc-Roussillon.

Avec son climat chaud et le souffle constant du mistral, le Rhône méridional est un terrain de prédilection pour le grenache noir qui donne des vins joufflus et chaleureux. Près de 90 % des vins de la vallée du Rhône sont produits dans cette zone située au sud de Montélimar.

Beaucoup plus vaste que la partie nord, elle regroupe : les Côtes du Rhône Villages, les appellations Ventoux, Luberon, Grignan-les-Adhémar, Costières de Nîmes, Clairette de Bellegarde et Côtes du Vivarais, sept crus (Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Gigondas, Lirac, Rasteau, Tavel, Vacqueyras, Vinsobres) et deux vins doux naturels (Muscat Beaume-de-Venise et Rasteau).

Je vous ai perdu ?

Ça ne fait rien. Tout ce qu’il vous faut retenir, c’est que ces vins sont les compagnons rêvés pour vous tenir le cœur et l’esprit au chaud avec le retour des soirées – et bientôt des journées – froides.

À la vôtre! Bon automne !

Châteauneuf-du-Pape et compagnie

Dégusté à deux reprises pendant l’été 2012, le Châteauneuf-du-Pape 2009 (44,75 $) du Château Mont-Redon m’avait laissé une excellente impression. Deux ans plus tard, le constat est le même. Le vin est encore étonnamment jeune et vigoureux; son équilibre et son envergure en bouche ne font aucun doute.

André Roméro, propriétaire du Domaine de Soumade, a largement contribué à l’émergence et à la reconnaissance de l’appellation Rasteau au cours des dernières décennies. En fait, Roméro, c’est Monsieur Rasteau en personne, et sa cuvée Prestige a longtemps été considérée comme l’exemple à suivre dans l’appellation. Sans surprise, le Rasteau 2010 (27,50 $) est tout aussi corpulent que dans mes souvenirs. Amateurs de sensations fortes, vous serez servis !

Château Mont Redon Châteauneuf Du Pape 2009 Domaine La Soumade Rasteau Cuvée Prestige 2010 Domaine De Grangeneuve La Truffière 2011 Domaine De Montvac Vincilia Vacqueyras 2010

Jugeant que le nom « Tricastin » – davantage connu en France pour sa centrale nucléaire que pour ses vignobles – nuisait à l’image de leur appellation, les vignerons des Coteaux du Tricastin ont choisi de la rebaptiser Grignan-les-Adhémar. Produit par le président de l’appellation, La Truffière 2011 (25,70 $) est concentré et déploie de bons goûts de fruits mûrs et d’olives noires. Solide et bâti pour tenir la route.

Moins flamboyant, mais très bien tourné, les amateurs de vins rouges du Sud apprécieront la forme classique du Vacqueyras 2010 du Domaine de Montvac. (28 $)

En descendant vers le Languedoc…

Parcé Frères Zoé 2011 Domaine René Rostaing Puech Noble 2010 Philippe Uusswitz Orénia 2012Jadis considéré comme l’usine à vin médiocre du pays, le Languedoc-Roussillon est résolument orienté vers la qualité depuis une quinzaine d’années. Ce vaste croissant, qui s’étend de la frontière espagnole à la vallée du Rhône, est d’autant plus attrayant qu’il mise désormais à fond sur les multiples facettes de ses terroirs et de ses cépages.

Les vignerons redécouvrent les qualités de cépages comme le carignan ou le cinsault, autrefois considérés comme roturiers, mais dont les vieilles vignes, cultivées adéquatement, peuvent donner des vins racés, empreints du fameux goût de la garrigue…

Finie, la puissance à tout prix. On cherche avant tout à produire des vins rouges authentiques et digestes et des vins blancs originaux. Bien plus qu’un simple rayon à aubaines, le Languedoc-Roussillon est l’une des régions les plus riches et les plus diversifiées de France.

Les vignerons d’Uzès ont obtenu l’AOP (appellation d’origine protégée) en juillet 2012, plus de trente ans après avoir entamé des démarches auprès de l’INAO. Une reconnaissance bien méritée, comme en fait foi le délicieux Orenia 2012 (18,65 $) élaboré par Philippe Nusswitz, couronné meilleur sommelier de France en 1986 et désormais dédié à la mise en valeur de ce terroir situé au nord-ouest de Nîmes. Le vin de soif idéal pour les journées d’automne : juste assez chaleureux et rassasiant de fraîcheur !

En parallèle à ses activités dans le Rhône septentrional, René Rostaing, force majeure de l’appellation Côte-Rôtie, a aussi développé un domaine dans les coteaux du Languedoc, non loin de la ville de Nîmes. Son Puech Noble 2010 étonne par son élégance et par son caractère très digeste. Comme quoi il n’est pas nécessaire d’assaillir le palais pour le charmer… Pas donné (38,75 $), mais vraiment excellent!

Plus au sud, dans le Roussillon, les frères Marc et Thierry Parcé du Domaine de la Rectorie gèrent cette cave située à une quarantaine de kilomètres au nord de Collioure. Leur cuvée Zoé 2011 (17,40 $) est un régal de fruit. Juste assez rustique et combien sympathique.

Tessellae Louis Roche Old Vines 2011 Vignoble Du Loup Blanc La Mère Grand 2011 La Chapelle De Bébian Rouge 2009Sur un mode nettement plus ferme et consistant, La Chapelle de Bébian 2009 est le deuxième vin du Prieuré de Saint-Jean de Bébian. Issu de grenache, de carignan et de mourvèdre, on reconnaît bien dans ce 2009 la corpulence qui est devenue la marque de Bébian.

Partenaires en affaires depuis plusieurs années déjà, les propriétaires du restaurant défunt restaurant Le Continental à Montréal, Alain Rochard et Laurent Farre, ont acquis une exploitation viticole dans le midi de la France. Leur vignoble est certifié biologique depuis 2007. Classique de la gamme du Loup Blanc, le Mère Grand 2011 (25 $) m’a semblé un peu moins corsé que par les derniers millésimes, mais non moins savoureux. Bel exemple de Minervois, équilibré et déjà très accessible. Un régal avec des côtelettes d’agneau en croute d’herbes.

Enfin, l’amateur de colosses voudra goûter le Tessellae 2011, commercialisé sous l’étiquette Louis Roche. S’il manque un peu de nuances pour le moment, ce vin solide et compact ne manque pas de faire son effet en bouche…


Cellier septembre 2014 (1ere vague)

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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Top 20 under $20 at the LCBO (September)

Your Guide to the Best Values, Limited Time Offers and Bonus Air Miles selections at the LCBO this month

by Steve Thurlow

Steve Thurlow

Steve Thurlow

I am pleased to tell you that since my last report I have found 18 new wines to join my Top 50 Best Values. Over the last few weeks I have tasted around 300 wines so it is not surprising that there are so many new finds. Some additions are due to monthly discounts (LTOs) from the LCBO, plus a couple of delisted wines as well as a slew of Bonus AirMiles (BAMs) making some wines even more attractive for the next four weeks or so; all making your fall drinking more affordable.

The Top 20 under $20 are best buys among the 1600 or so wines in LCBO Wines and the Vintages Essentials Collection. I select most from wines new to Steve’s Top 50, a standing WineAlign list based on quality/price ratio. You can read below in detail how the Top 50 works, but it does fluctuate as new wines arrive and as discounts show up through Limited Time Offers (LTOs).

The discount period runs until October 12th. So don’t hesitate. Thanks to WineAlign’s inventory tracking, I can assure you that there were decent stocks available when we published.

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


Fonseca Periquita 2012, Peninsula De Setubal, Portugal $8.95 + 5BAMs
TOP50SEPTEMBER – Dependable value medium bodied red with a spicy side to the fruit.

Montalto Nero d’Avola Cabernet Sauvignon 2013, Sicily, Italy $8.95
NEW TO TOP50 – A finely balanced red for red meat dishes or pizza from sunny Sicily.

Beso De Vino Old Vine Garnacha 2011, Spain. $8.95 was $9.95
NEW TO TOP50 – A fresh vibrant and tasty BBQ red from grenache known as garnacha in Spain.

Fonseca Periquita 2012 Montalto Nero d'Aavola Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 Beso De Vino Old Vine Garnacha 2011 Xplorador Carmenere 2012 Santa Carolina Merlot Reserva 2012

Xplorador Carmenere 2012, Central Valley, Chile $9.15 was $10.95
DISCONTINUED AT  LCBO – Sadly this juicy fruit forward red will soon no longer be on the shelf.  There are over 3000 bottles in stock so one can enjoy at the sale price for a while I think.

Santa Carolina Merlot Reserva 2012, Colchagua Valley, Chile $10.95 was $12.95
NEW TO TOP50 – A bright fresh merlot with pure aromas and flavours of black cherry and pomegranate fruit with some spice and leather tones.

Cusumano Syrah 2013, Sicily, Italy $11.95
NEW TO TOP50 – This red gets better with every vintage. Fantastic value for a cool climate unoaked red.

La Posta Cocina Tinto Blend 2013, Mendoza, Argentina $13.50
NEW TO TOP50 – Try this opaque purple red with steak or enjoy with a cheese platter.

Carpineto Dogajolo Rosso 2012, Tuscany, Italy $14.60 + 5BAMs
NEW TO TOP50 – An elegant and very Tuscan red that is balanced just right for tomato based sauces.

Cusumano Syrah 2013 La Posta Cocina Tinto Blend 2013 Carpineto Dogajolo Rosso 2012 Trapiche Broquel Malbec 2012 Pascual Toso Malbec Limited Edition 2012 Carmen Gran Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon 2011

Trapiche Broquel Malbec 2012, Mendoza, Argentina $14.95
NEW TO TOP50 – This full bodied malbec is an Argentine classic, charming and delicious with a very inviting nose.

Pascual Toso Malbec Limited Edition 2012, Mendoza, Argentina $15.95
NEW TO TOP50 – The best vintage yet of this elegant harmonious malbec with lifted aromas of blackberry fruit plus well integrated oak, dark chocolate, vanilla and black plum jam.

Carmen Gran Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon 2011, Maipo Alto, Chile $15.95
NEW TO TOP50 – Try this elegant fruity, very aromatic, cabernet with a rack of lamb. A great price for a fine dining red.


Santa Carolina Sauvignon Blanc 2013, Rapel Valley, Chile $8.95 + 4BAMs
TOP50SEPTEMBER – Best vintage yet of this lightweight juicy, crunchy, fresh sauvignon.

Dunavar Pinot Blanc 2013, Hungary $8.95 + 3 BAMs
NEW TO TOP50 – A juicy flavourful white that shows mild mango and melon fruit aromas and flavours.

KWV Contemporary Collection Chenin Blanc 2014, Western Cape, South Africa $9.45
NEW TO TOP50 – The 2014 vintage of this wine shows that South Africa can make good inexpensive chenin with a good depth of flavour and also well structured.

Santa Carolina Sauvignon Blanc 2013 Dunavár Pinot Blanc 2013 K W V Contemporary Collection Chenin Blanc 2014 Cono Sur Bicicleta Pinot Grigio 2013 Inniskillin Niagara Estate Unoaked Chardonnay 2011

Cono Sur Bicicleta Pinot Grigio 2013, Central Valley, Chile $9.90
NEW TO TOP50 – Another beautiful flavourful white from Cono Sur at a great price.

Inniskillin Niagara Estate Unoaked Chardonnay 2011, VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario $9.95was $11.95
NEW TO TOP50 – It is tough to make a good unoaked chardonnay so enjoy this slender pure wine at such a great price.

Boschendal The Pavillion Chenin Blanc Viognier 2013, Western Cape, South Africa $10.95
NEW TO TOP50 – A ripe and exotic white with a beautiful nose. South Africa is making some delicious aromatic white blends with lots of flavour.

Dopff & Irion Gewurztraminer Cuvee Rene Dopff 2012, Alsace, France $13.00 was $15.45
DISCONTINUED AT  LCBO – Regrettably this juicy textbook gewurz from Alsace will soon no longer be on the shelf but there are around 600  bottles in stock. So use WineAlign to locate the nearest to you and enjoy at the sale price while stock remains.

Boschendal The Pavillion Chenin Blanc Viognier 2013 Dopff & Irion Gewurztraminer Cuvee Rene Dopff 2012 Monkey Bay Pinot Grigio 2014 Villa Maria Private Bin Sauvignon Blanc 2013

Monkey Bay Pinot Grigio 2014, Hawkes Bay, New Zealand $13.95
NEW TO TOP50 – Now sourced from Hawkes Bay this is a major improvement on earlier vintages of this brand. It is a fresh pure flavourful grigio at a great price.

Villa Maria Private Bin Sauvignon Blanc 2013, Marlborough, New Zealand $16.95
NEW TO TOP50 – I have tasted this vintage several times this year. It keeps getting better as it matures in bottle; often the case with sauvignon blanc. So pop a few in a cupboard at home to enjoy over next six months.

How does a wine get selected for the Top 20 under $20.

There are three ways that a wine gets into this monthly report of wines that are always in the stores either on the LCBO “General List” or the VINTAGES Essential Collection.

On Sale (LTO’s or Limited Time Offers): Every four weeks the LCBO discounts around 200 wines  I have looked through the current batch and have highlighted some of my favourites that offer better value at present…. so stock up now.

Bonus Air Miles (BAM’s): If you collect Air Miles then you will be getting Bonus Air Miles on another 150 or so wines…a few of these have a special appeal for a while.

Steve’s Top 50: Wines that have moved onto my Top 50 Best Values this month. This is on an-on going WineAlign selection (Top 50,) that mathematically calculates value by comparing the price and rating of all the wines on the LCBO General List. You can access the report any time and read more about it now.

The Rest of Steve’s Top 50

Steve's Top Value WinesThere are another 39 wines on the Top 50 list so if you did not find all you need above for your current needs dip into the Top 50 LCBO and Vintages Essentials wines. There will surely be something inexpensive that suits your taste.

To be included in the Top 50 for value a wine must be inexpensive while also having a high score, indicating high quality. I use a mathematical model to make the Top 50 selections from the wines in our database. I review the list every month to include newly listed and recently tasted vintages of current listings as well as monitoring the value of those put on sale for a limited time.

Before value wine shopping remember to consult the Top 50, 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 us. And if you think our reviews are accurate, send us some feedback since it’s good to hear that you agree with us.

How I Choose the Top 50

I constantly taste the wines at the LCBO to keep the Top 50 list up to date. You can easily find all of my all Top 50 Value Wines from the WineAlign main menu. Click on Wine =>Top 50 Value Wines to be taken directly to the list.

Every wine is linked to WineAlign where you can read more, discover pricing discounts, check out inventory and compile lists for shopping at your favourite store. Never again should you be faced with a store full of wine with little idea of what to pick for best value.

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.


Steve Thurlow

Top 20 Under $20 for September
Top 50 Value Wines

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


Michel Lynch Merlot 2011

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Margaret Swaine’s Spirits Review – September

Fall for Dark Spirits – the apple of my eye
by Margaret Swaine

Margaret Swaine

Margaret Swaine

As we head into fall, I start sipping more dark spirits. None speaks of the season in Canada to me better than Calvados, the wonderful apple brandy best known from Normandy. Our apple harvest means freshly baked apple pies, hot apple cider and the tangy crunch of newly picked apples. We also have a few distillers making apple eau-de-vie or brandy.

Dillon’s Distillers in Ontario is working on an apple eau-de-vie and has recently come out with a pear one made from Niagara Bartlett pears. Michel Jodoin Calijo is an apple brandy from Quebec. Canados (play on the word Calvados) mainly distilled from BC Hyslop crab apples and aged in oak, made by Okanagan spirits in BC is an apple brandy that I’ve enjoyed in the past. As soon as I get samples to critique them for WineAlign, I’ll be posting reviews.

Meanwhile I have a selection of fine Calvados to recommend. Normandy in northwest France is the home of Calvados, the world’s premier apple brandy as well as a Norman cuisine rich in cream and butter. Between dishes and meals, a calvados — or “Trou Normand” — is said to aid digestion. All over the region, producers will happily invite you in for a nip. Boulard, one of the most famous, has a restaurant onsite with tables inside giant barrels.

Pâpidoux Fine Calvados Calvados Lecompte 5 Year Old Calvados Boulard Pays d'AugeThe finest Normandy apple brandy bears the Appellation Calvados Pays d’Auge Contrôlée label and is produced only from apples grown in the Pays d’Auge. The quality and variety of the Auge apples is second to none and the small size of the area is constantly kept in check, enhancing the rarity factor. In addition, the production of cider and the required double distillation must be carried out within the geographical boundaries of the Auge region in order to be considered part of the appellation d’origine contrôlée or “AOC”.

Founded in 1825, the company Calvados Boulard has been passed down from generation to generation and is now in the hands of Vincent Boulard, the great great grandson of founder Pierre-Auguste. Grand Solage Boulard Calvados Pays d’Auge is double distilled in copper stills over an open flame, from up to 120 different apple varieties, then matured in oak.

Calvados Lecompte 5 Year Old, is aged 5 years in oak, double distilled and from the revered Calvados de Pays d’Auge appellation too. Calvados Domaine Dupont V.S.O.P. from Pays d’Auge has subtle yet persistent cider apple notes with a cognac like character. Pâpidoux Calvados Fine has a youthful apple and alcohol hit best showcased in a cocktail.

The most recognized type of brandy is made from grapes of course. Remy Martin of France, which has been making cognac (from distilled grapes of the region) since 1724, is one of the most famous. Remy Martin VSOP, the leader in Europe and North America in the VSOP segment of the cognac market, is a classic which while lovely on its own, but also makes a superb cocktail.

Remy Martin VSOP Cognac Carlos I Gran Reserva E&J XO Brandy

A sweeter, more old wood, mellow style can be found in Spanish brandies especially Carlos I Gran Reserva from Jerez at about half the price. E&J XO Brandy from Gallo in America is so smooth and sweet it almost tastes candied.

Vintages in Ontario teamed up with Dalmore Highland single malt earlier this year to present a rare Constellation Collection tasting at the National Club in Toronto. Master Blender Richard Paterson led the tasting of four single-vintage, single cask bottlings from 1992, 1989, 1973 and 1966. Cost for the dinner evening at $495 per person might have seemed steep, if one didn’t know the price of these bottles. Starting at $5,266 a bottle for the 1992 up to $48,297 for the 1966 the offer was an event exclusive so I won’t tease you with my in-depth tasting notes. Suffice to say the flavours namely the porty, chocolate notes of the 1992, the marmalade hit of the 1989, the more oaky cognac like 1973 and the cinnamon, coffee, nutmeg aspects of the 1966 were all distinctive and memorable.

Drambuie Dalmore 12 Years Old Highland Single MaltWhether they are worth the cost is relative to the depth of your wealth. The only 200 bottles of this 1966 were produced for the world. A complete Dalmore Constellation Collection of 21 individual bottles created between the years 1964 and 1992 (not all years are represented and some are twice but from different casks) goes for $300,000 and apparently buyers in BC and Alberta have already ponied up. This was the collections first foray into Ontario. No word yet on how much sold but the LCBO did have buyers waiting to pounce.

Dalmore established in 1839 north of Inverness on the shores of the Cromarty Firth is a classic Highland malt. The distillery warehouses feature some of the oldest whisky stocks in the world. Dalmore 12 Year Old Highland Single Malt, the epitome of the Dalmore style is the more accessible, affordable spirit in its line-up.

Another great Scottish drink is Drambuie – I always have a bottle in my liquor cabinet for making cocktails. To make a hot apple toddy with this elixir of scotch, spices and heather honey: mix two ounces of Drambuie with 6 ounces of hot apple cider. Squeeze in the juice of one lemon wedge, add a cinnamon stick and serve in a coffee glass.


Margaret Swaine

To find these and other picks at stores near you, click on: Margaret’s Whisky and Spirits

Editors Note: You can read Margaret Swaine’s complete reviews by clicking on any of the highlighted names, bottle images or links. Paid subscribers to WineAlign see critic reviews immediately. Non-paid users wait 60 days to see newly posted reviews. Membership has its privileges; like first access to great spirits!


Luxardo Sambuca

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Bill’s Best Bets – September part 2

September 18th Cellier Release
by Bill Zacharkiw

Bill Zacharkiw

Bill Zacharkiw

Back again with what to buy from the 2nd Cellier magazine release which will be Thursday, Sept 18. The last release (Sept 4th) focused on Bordeaux and the Rhône. This time, many of the wines hail from a region which is very dear to us Quebeckers, the Languedoc-Roussillon.

Quebec is quite unique in the world with respect to this oft-maligned region. In many parts of the world, including France, it is known for producing bulk wine. Back in my days working the restaurant floor as a sommelier, I was shocked on a number of occasions when I suggested a Languedoc wine to French tourists, and their response was that they would never drink such cheap wine.

Amazing how perspectives on a wine region can be so different. The Languedoc-Roussillon is number one in Quebec in terms of bottles sold of any region in the world. And it is not of bulk wine. To me, the Languedoc is one of the more dynamic wine regions in the world. And while they do produce a ton of wine – the Languedoc-Roussillon produces more than all of Australia – much of what we see here are wines that are not only interesting and unique, but exceptional value.

So if you are already a fan, here are some suggestions. If you aren’t familiar with the region, then it’s time you get up to speed. This is Bargainville folks. From the sparklings of Limoux, to the rusticity of Corbières, the refinement of Coteaux du Languedoc, to the sun infused grapes of the Roussillon, there is truly a wine for every palate.

Le Loup Blanc La Mère Grand Minervois 2011Pierre Gaillard Transhumance 2011Let’s start with the wines that gave me the biggest buzz. From one of the least known appellations of the Languedoc, Faugères, is the 2011 Domaine de Cottebrune’s Transhumance. The winery is owned by one of my favourite vignerons in Cȏte Rȏtie, Pierre Gaillard. And much like his wines of the Northern Rhȏne, this is power in a velvet glove. Gaillard’s delicate touch is unmistakable as he takes this classic grenache-syrah-mourvèdre blend and offers up a palate of powerful fruit and garrigue with refinement and class. (180 cases)

On a completely different track, but with an equal joy factor, is Vignoble Le Loup Blanc’s 2011 Minervois. This is a beautiful expression of syrah and grenache. Owned by now Montrealer Alain Rochard, this has all the aromatic expression of a low to no sulphite wine. Organic, grown and made with care, the wine has incredible energy and purity. No oak to get in the way – just fruit, fruit and more fruit. (172 cases)

Moving south into the Roussillon, the Parcé Frères 2010 Cotes du Roussillon Village, Zoé, is made for those who want wines with torque. A blend of syrah and grenache, you can sense the sun in the grapes with its rich, dark fruits. But underneath the mass of fruit is a mineral streak that refines, adds depth and refreshes. (300 cases)

Zoé Parcé Frères 2011 Tessellae Carignan Old Vines 2011 Château L'argentier Vieilles Vignes De Carignan 2011If the Zoé isn’t big enough for you, try the 2011 Old Vine, cuvée Tesselae, Côtes du Roussillon from Louis Roche. Especially if you drink more new world wines and want to try a wine from southern France, this wine will make the transition very easy. Holds its 14.5% alcohol very well. I refer to it as one of those aaarrrrgggh! wines. Try it and find out why. (249 cases)

As I did last time, I’ll use this newsletter as a forum to talk about other noteworthy wines that are not part of the magazine release, but deserve some love. Fans of the carignan grape will be happy as the SAQ has re-ordered Elisabeth et François Jourdan’s Vieilles Vignes L’Argentier. Much like the 2010, the 2011 is dark fruited and replete with notes of black liquorice, meat and minerals. Never about the fruit, this is all about the texture.

No discussion of the Roussillon is complete without mentioning the fortified wines of Maury. I recently tasted two wines from Mas Amiel, and both are worthy purchases, especially if you are fans of Port. Less sweet and more elegant than the Portuguese wines, Maury’s wines often go un-noticed. The 2011 Vintage shows notes of figs and dried cassis. Amazing pairing with anything chocolate. If you want to try something even more impressive, there are a few bottle of the 15 year left in the store. Apparently the SAQ has yet to re-order them, so not sure when this exceptional wine will be back. If you can find one – buy it!

And finally, there are two Rhône wines that were not in the September 4 release. I love the Châteauneuf-du-Pape from Château Mont-Redon. When I first tasted the 2009 two years ago, I found it a touch fat, which was due to the hot vintage. But two years later, I’m happy to report that the wine is now tasting very much like the Mont-Redon that I love – finesse, elegance and all about the fruit. Patience pays off!

Mas Amiel Vintage 2011 Mas Amiel Prestige 15 Ans D'age Château Mont Redon Châteauneuf Du Pape 2009 Philippe Nusswitz Orénia 2012

Also of note is Philippe Nusswitz’s 2012 Orénia. From the little known IGP of Duché d’Uzès, which is located in the northern part of Nîmes, this is a classic fruit first Rhône wine. Keep it chilled and enjoy.

So that’s it for now. Next on the newsletter list is September’s 20 under $20.


“There’s enjoyment to be had of a glass of wine without making it a fetish.” – Frank Prial

Bill’s Best Bets – September 4th Cellier

Editors Note: You can find Bill’s complete reviews by clicking on any of the highlighted wine names or bottle images above. Premium subscribers to Chacun son vin see all critic reviews immediately. Non-paid members wait 60 days to see newly posted reviews. Membership has its privileges; like first access to great wines!

Gabbiano Chianti Classico Riserva

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Buyers’ Guide to VINTAGES Sept 13th – Part Two

Wines That Moved UsSept. 11, 2014

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

David New 2014

David Lawrason

In Part One of our September 2013 release preview we sifted through the large contingent of Ontario wines being offered by VINTAGES. And we have also just published an Ontario Wine Report that updates the many local wine events in the weeks ahead, and recommends even more Ontario wines available outside of the LCBO. All of which has left us a blank canvas this week to highlight a random selection of wines that simply moved us.

But before revealing them, a note that our critics’ reasons for selecting which wines to highlight can differ. We do not have a formula, and we don’t consult with each other. Personally I am moved first by quality, especially when from an unexpected place or winery. I love to see underdogs over-achieve. Often of late those wines have been organically or biodynamically grown without my knowing that fact ahead of time. But a wine will usually only show up among my picks if value is also a big factor.

Most important, there are many, many other wines not mentioned that we like and have rated highly. So not being mentioned does not mean they are not worthwhile, and I strongly urge you to go the next step and browse the entire slate of reviews from each critic. You can find the complete list of September 13th VINTAGES wines 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.


Lefèvre Rémondet Brut Blanc Crémant De Bourgogne

Vincent Couche 2002 Brut ChampagneVincent Couche Brut Champagne 2002, France ($49.95)
David Lawrason – This is great value in mature but still vibrant Champagne. I mean who expects a 14 year-old vintage Champagne to be this good and this youthful for $50 (a base price for Champagne). Vincent Couche is a leading light in the ranks of small “growers”, tending is 32 acres organically. I strongly suspect that accounts for the energy and depth that took me by surprise at the tasting bench, before I knew anything about Vincent Couche.

Lefèvre Rémondet Brut Blanc Crémant De Bourgogne, Burgundy, France ($20.95)
Sara d’Amato – A remarkable crémant that offers the toasty lees and depth of a Champagne. A blend of 70% pinot noir and 30% chardonnay makes for a good deal of substance and power. Celebration worthy.


Studert-Prüm 2012 Graacher Himmelreich Riesling Kabinett, Mosel, Germany ($20.95)
John Szabo – There’s simply nowhere in the world that can reproduce this wine style, and great Mosel Kabinett is surely among the world’s best wine buys. This is a superb, intensely mineral, very natural wine with an absolutely unique flavour profile, at a giveaway price. Best 2014-2022.
Sara d’Amato – This Kabinett is refreshingly traditional and offers so much enjoyment, complexity and stuffing for the price. Slate, petrol and buckwheat honey are offset by wild herbs and lemon curd. This unmistakable value is nervy with plenty of racy mineral and terrific length.

Michel Gassier 2013 Les Piliers Viognier, Languedoc-Roussillon, France ($18.95)
Sara d’Amato: This deliciously complex viognier boasts impressive freshness and balance with a long, lingering finish. A great deal of compelling flavours have been coaxed out this simple Vin de France from Michel Gassier who focuses on organic farming in the Costières de Nimes region. Try with crab or sushi.

Kunde Chardonnay 2012 Sonoma Valley, California ($21.95)
David Lawrason –  There is of course a strong movement to cool climate, lean, mineral chardonnays, but this celebrates what made first made California chardonnay famous. It is boldly fruity, delicious yet even handed in all respects.  Kunde Family Estate is an impressively large producer with vineyards both on the floor of and in the hills above Sonoma Valley. Winemaker Zach Long strives for “balanced fruit, and full flavoured complex wines”.  He’s nailed it here, at a good price.

Studert Prüm Graacher Himmelreich Riesling Kabinett 2012 Michel Gassier Les Piliers Viognier 2013 Kunde Chardonnay 2012 Stellenrust Wild Yeast Barrel Fermented Chardonnay 2011 Seresin Sauvignon Blanc 2013 Mallory & Benjamin Talmard Mâcon Uchizy 2012

Stellenrust 2011 Wild Yeast Barrel Fermented Chardonnay Stellenbosch, South Africa ($17.95) John Szabo – From a near-century-old estate with high-elevation vines in the cooler Bottelary ward of Stellenbosch, this is classy, complete, intriguing wine at a great price, for those seeking character and depth at a fine price, not just simple, fruity white.

Seresin 2013 Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough, New Zealand ($21.95)
David Lawrason – Here is another biodynamically farmed success story. It was a stellar vintage for NZ sauvignons with most showing real depth and vibrancy. What I like about this example is it’s leaner, more mineral style, whereas many Marlborough ‘savvies’ are getting very fruity, fatter and a touch sweet.

Mallory & Benjamin Talmard 2012 Mâcon-Uchizy, Burgundy, France ($16.95)
David Lawrason –  Great value here –  a lovely tender, fleshy and bright style of chardonnay that Macon does so well.  The sister and brother Talmard team have taken the family’s 31 ha – spread through four villages in southern Burgundy – and increased both quality and quantity.

Red Wines

Wits End Luna Shiraz 2012

Chateau Montelena Cabernet Sauvignon 2010

Reininger Cabernet Sauvignon 2012Reininger 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon, Walla Walla, Washington ($20.95)
David Lawrason – This is a great buy from the Pacific Northwest – so why not have included it in the PNW feature last month, where it might have received more attention?  This immediately impressed with structure and depth well beyond $20 – a classic firm yet generous cabernet to drink now or hold five years.
John Szabo – From the Pepper Bridge and Seven Hills vineyards, this is a full, dense, savoury and spicy Washington cabernet with firm, hard tannins and plenty of extract – not a wine for fans of fruit, but much more distinctive, “terroir”-dominated profiles. I’d suspect this will be better after another 1-2 years and hold for close to decade, which is rare indeed for a $20 US wine. Best 2015-2022.

Chateau Montelena 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, California ($59.95)
Sara d’Amato – While many of the 2011s from California are lean, a little mean and sadly dilute, Chateau Montelena has risen to the task of creating a wine for the ages with freshness, complexity and length. This stripped down version of this iconic cabernet is one of my favorites in recent memory

Wits End 2012 Luna Shiraz, McLaren Vale, South Australia ($16.95)
David Lawrason – I had just finished tasting the excellent $60 “Bruce” shiraz when along comes a shiraz of very similar style and only slightly less quality – at one third the price. Wits End is made by Chalk Hill Wines owned by the Harvey family. The wine is made by French oenologist Emmanuelle Requin-Bekkers, who apparently has a very elegant touch.

Château De Pierreux Brouilly 2013

Salton Classic Cabernet Franc 2012

Cederberg Shiraz 2010Château De Pierreux 2013 Brouilly, Beaujolais, France ($18.95)
David Lawrason – This jumped off the tasting bench with amazingly lifted florality and juiciness – the way I remember other fine Brouilly gamays over the years. It is from a very large estate that is now in the portfolio of Burgundy’s Boisset family, and has been converted to biodynamic viticulture.

Salton 2012 Classic Cabernet Franc, Serra Gaucha, Brazil, ($12.95)
Sara d’Amato – Although a very simple wine, it is pure, un-manipulated, juicy and certainly intended to please. A lovely value from Serra Gaucha – Brazil’s largest region under vine, producing over 85% of the country’s wine. Located on the border of Uruguay, its topography is made up on mostly low mountain ranges populated by “gauchos” (cowboys).

Cederberg 2010 Shiraz, Cederberg, South Africa ($24.95)
John Szabo – 250 kilometers north from Cape Town, the Cederberg winery (which confusingly shares its name with the Wine of Origin Cederberg ward, though it’s also the only winery in the region), is South Africa’s highest elevation wine farm at 950-1100 meters asl. The vineyards are surrounded by pristine fynbos (native vegetation) and there’s no downy mildew thanks to isolation and extreme conditions. This is savoury and firm syrah, fresh, dark-fruited and spicy, with excellent length. Best 2014-2020.

Stobi Vranec 2010

Dominio De Tares Cepas Viejas Mencia 2009

Carrick 2011 Pinot NoirCarrick Pinot Noir 2011, Central Otago, New Zealand ($38.95)
Sara d’Amato – Carrick has been producing noteworthy pinot noirs since the mid-90s that have featured potent, aromatic appeal and great refinement. Hailing from Central Otago, one would expect this to be, very ripe and perhaps a touch overblown. On the contrary, the wine is supremely elegant, slowly revealing layers of flavour in the glass. Nicely structured for mid-term cellaring.

Dominio De Tares 2009 Cepas Viejas Mencia, Bierzo ($29.95)
John Szabo - A reliable name in the region of Bierzo, Dominio de Tares’ “Cepas Viejas” (old vines) is produced from vines over 60 years old. This is just starting to come into prime drinking – I love the mature, spicy nature of this wine, coupled with freshness and structure, though there’s still lots of life ahead. Best 2014-2024.

Stobi 2010 Vranec, Tikves, Republic of Macedonia ($11.95)
John Szabo – for the price you can’t very well go far wrong here. In my slowly growing experience with Macedonian wine, the local variety vranec is easily the most interesting, hitting a profile that reminds me somewhat of cabernet franc with its dark fruit and floral aspects, and firm but not hard tannins. I have to say this is a very solid and flavourful wine for the money, and well worth a look. Best 2014-2020.

And that’s it for this week. We are working ahead on the September 27 release which features Portugal and a huge international selection as VINTAGES beefs up for the big autumn buying season. Also in the pipeline is an article on Niagara riesling by John Szabo, and then a look at the rieslings of Austria’ Wachau region by Julian Hitner.


Until next time!

David Lawrason
VP of Wine

From VINTAGES September 13th release:

Lawrason’s Take
Szabo’s Smart Buys
Sara’s Sommelier Selections
All Reviews
Sept 13th Part One – Ontario Focus

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!


Chateau St Jean Cabernet Sauvignon Sonoma County

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Soif d’ailleurs avec Nadia

Le second souffle
par Nadia Founier

Nadia Fournier

Nadia Fournier

La rédaction d’un guide annuel sur le vin est une sorte de marathon. On voit défiler les bouteilles comme le coureur de fond enchaîne les kilomètres. Un à la suite de l’autre, parfois dans la monotonie, parfois même dans la douleur. Ne riez pas, c’est vrai ! Pensez aux aphtes et aux ulcères, pour cause de surdose d’acidité, qui sont au dégustateur de vin ce que les crampes et les blessures musculaires sont au marathonien.

Mais bon, trêve de doléances. Je sais qu’on n’a pas le droit de se plaindre, quand on a la chance d’exercer un métier aussi fascinant. Et puis, heureusement, il nous arrive aussi d’avoir droit à un second souffle…

Il y a deux semaines, j’étais dans l’Espagne. Pas en Espagne, c’eût été trop agréable. J’étais plutôt dans le calme de ma campagne, plongée dans la section « Espagne » du Guide du vin 2015. Pendant des heures et des heures, j’ai vu se succéder des vins banals. Pas mauvais, juste anonymes et interchangeables. Tantôt des petits rouges à saveur commerciale (souples, fruités, plus ou moins assaisonnés de copeaux de bois); tantôt des grosses bombes fruitées et sucrées, chargées d’alcool et de goûts torréfiés qui leur donnent des airs de Coffee Crisp. Puis, est arrivé ce second souffle, enfin !

Venu de l’autre côté de l’Atlantique, ce souffle avait l’allure d’une bruine de bord de mer qui vous rafraîchit par une journée de canicule. Cette bruine, c’était Rueda. Une appellation de la région de Castille et Léon, surtout connue pour ses vins blancs légers, désaltérants et assez modestes, dans l’ensemble. Pourtant, cette journée-là, tous les grands crus du monde n’auraient pas autant fait mon bonheur !

Comme quoi, dans le vin comme dans la vie, tout est une question de contexte. Parlez-en aux politiciens mal cités !

Les vins portant la mention « Rueda Verdejo » en contre-étiquette sont issus à 100 % de verdejo. Ceux commercialisés sous la simple appellation « Rueda » peuvent être issu d’un assemblage de verdejo, avec de la viura ou du sauvignon blanc.

Buil & Giné Nosis Rueda 2013Bodegas Shaya Verdejo 2013Les propriétaires de Juan Gil – un domaine phare de l’appellation Jumilla, à 90 kilomètres de la ville d’Alicante –, se sont aventurés à Rueda, où ils élaborent l’excellent Shaya 2013. Même si l’étiquette officielle de l’appellation n’en fait pas mention, le vin est issu à 100 % de verdejo, dont quelques vignes centenaires.

La famille Buil (Priorat) a elle aussi exporté son savoir-faire jusqu’en Castille et Léon, où elle produit un très bon vin blanc de l’appellation Rueda. Au moment d’écrire ces lignes, on pouvait encore trouver quelques bouteilles du 2012 en succursales. Le Nosis 2013 prendra le relais d’ici quelques semaines.

Telmo Rodriguez a sillonné l’Espagne du nord au sud à la recherche de vieilles parcelles de vignes, souvent menacées d’arrachage. Son activité s’étend aujourd’hui depuis la Rioja, jusqu’à la région de Malaga, en Andalousie. La rumeur veut que le célèbre œnologue tourne l’attention médiatique sur une région viticole, dès qu’il y implante un projet. On comprend assez vite pourquoi en goûtant ces vins rouges musclés et, dans une moindre mesure, le très bon Basa 2013, produit dans la région de Rueda.

Dans le secteur très prisé de La Seca, Bodegas Naia mise, entre autres, sur de très vieilles vignes de verdejo, plantées au 19e siècle et ayant survécu au phylloxéra, dont elle tire un Rueda hors norme, fermenté et élevé en fûts de chêne. Bien qu’il me semble un peu moins distinctif que le 2008 dégusté l’année dernière, le Naiades 2010 impressionne par sa richesse et sa vinosité.

Telmo Rodriguez Basa Blanco 2013 Bodegas Naia Naiades 2010Bodegas Naia Naia 2011 Las Brisas 2012 Hermanos Lurton Rueda Verdejo 2012

Plus modeste, mais aussi plus typé, le Rueda Verdejo 2011 a tout pour plaire. Le 2013 qui prendra le relais au début du mois d’octobre est tout aussi digeste et savoureux. En attendant son arrivée en succursales, on pourra se consoler avec le Las Brisas 2012, plus aromatique, grâce à l’apport du sauvignon blanc, mais surtout friand et facile à boire. Ou encore avec celui des frères (Hermanos) Lurton, très sec et issu de verdejo à 100 %.

Et parce que l’Espagne produit quand même une foule de bons vins rouges gorgés de soleil, vous voudrez aussi goûter cet excellent vin de Navarre : Artazuri Garnacha 2013; hypergourmand et sans la moindre lourdeur. Une véritable aubaine !

Artazuri Garnacha 2013 El Castro De Valtuille Mencia Joven 2011 Torres Laudis 2011 Torres Salmos 2009 Torres Perpetual 2010

Pour quelques dollars de plus, El Castro de Valtuille Joven 2011 est un exemple très révélateur de l’immense potentiel de Bierzo, une autre appellation de Castille et Léon à classer parmi les étoiles montantes du firmament ibérique.

Enfin, le tour du pays ne serait pas complet sans un petit détour par la Catalogne. Sur les coteaux vertigineux du Priorat, Mireilla Torres, la fille de Miguel, façonne cette cuvée exclusive au marché québécois. Fruit d’un assemblage de carignan et de grenache, le Laudis 2011 est, en quelque sorte, le petit frère du Salmos et du Perpetual.

Salud !

Nadia Fournier

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 30 jours après leur parution pour les lire.


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British Columbia Wine Report

Back to {WINE} School TimeSept. 9, 2014

by Treve Ring

Treve Ring

Treve Ring

Even though it looks like BC’s public schools will not be back in session any time soon due to a bitter and lengthy teachers’ strike, September’s arrival signals back to school for many lucky BC students. Wine students.

After a busy summer for most of the trade, autumn is a natural slide back into indoors, books and studies. There are classes for all levels of professional and amateur wine students, both informal and accredited, all over the province. Classes vary widely in scope, instruction and cost, and potential wine students should do a little homework to find out what method best suits their needs; it can be confusing to know the difference between ISG and WSET and CMS and beyond – a whole lingo of acronyms in itself! As a wine professional with a funny little alphabet of post-noms, I’m constantly queried on the best way for people to improve their wine knowledge – be it for their personal pleasure, or for improving their career. For this Back To {Wine} School BC Wine Report, I’m going to give you the Coles Notes on the various programs available.


The class you chose depends on your end goal. If you’re a beginning amateur (CONsumer) who would like to understand the difference between chardonnay and cabernet, you may not need or want an accredited course. There are numerous courses at community rec centres and colleges, as well as continuing studies courses offered through universities such as the University of British Columbia. Some private wine shops offer a series of courses to customers, which is a great way to learn more about what’s at your local shop. These courses are often offered in the evenings or weekends, and aimed at widening your world wine scope in a more casual and consumer-appropriate way.

IMG_4912If you’re in the industry, or want to be, you will want to find an accredited course, for PROfessionals. Certification from an accredited education provider will be helpful on your resume, and provides a standard level that is recognized widely. At the entry levels, the instruction between the programs is similar, but as you progress through your studies, you’ll want to know what your end goal is so you can direct your path. You’ll also learn how to taste (yes, and spit) professionally and methodically as well as how to taste wine blind – more than just a nifty party trick.

End Goal: MW vs MS

Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET)

This globally recognized, multi-tiered program is great for people just starting wine studies or for those who have informal and/or self-guided training as you can enter at any level that suits. Courses build from Level 1 through 3 into increasingly detailed material about the world of wine and spirits, as well as blind tasting skills. Level 4 is the Diploma level, and is comprised of 6 different detailed units, each focusing on an aspect of global wine business or style. The Diploma is usually a 2-3 year program, and can be taken in class or through Distance Education. There are very few schools worldwide able to administer the Diploma program on behalf of the Wine & Spirit Education Trust, based in London, England. Completion of the WSET Diploma is the stepping stone to become a Master of Wine (MW), the highest academic/wine business qualification in the world. *WineAlign’s Rhys Pender is an MW.

There are a few different schools in BC that are accredited for WSET instruction and classes run at various schedules year round, but only the Art Institute of Vancouver is certified to teach the Diploma level. Diploma courses run on a globally synched calendar – meaning all students around the world write exams on specific dates. Other WSET providers in BC include WinePlus+, Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts, Fine Vintage and the BC Wine School.

Court of Master Sommeliers (CMS)

IMG_6838Though not a permanent fixture in BC, the Court of Master Sommeliers leads the Introductory Sommelier Course and a Certified Sommelier Course through the Art Institute of Vancouver each fall. Unlike WSET and their focus on global wine business, the focus of CMS instruction shifts to wine service, and completion of their Advanced Sommelier level is the gateway to becoming a Master Sommelier (MS), an exam process chronicled in the documentary SOMM. *WineAlign’s John Szabo is an MS. Vancouver’s CMS courses will be taught via the Art Institute at the end of September and afford students the chance to gain an accredited designation from CMS. Vancouver classes fill up quickly; students who are marching on towards their MS have to travel to the United States to write the Advanced Level exams.

There are other accredited courses in BC that are more localized geographically (International Sommelier Guild) or specialized (French Wine Scholar, Italian Wine Specialist). For budding winemakers and grape growers, the Viticulture and Wine Studies Program at Okanagan College is a great place to start.

And now for the Homework…

Unlike most schools, the best part about wine studies is homework. Tasting, tasting, tasting wines from around the globe – benchmarks and oddities – to set your palate and your wine compass. I’m a lifer – a lifetime student – who is excited and grateful to learn new things every time I pick up a glass.

Here are a series of wines that I think everyone, at any level, should experience. Consider it homework.

If you can learn to say Weingut St. Urbans-Hof Riesling Ockfener Bockstein Kabinett 2011, you’re ahead of the game, and even more when you start to grasp off-dry and intense Mosel Riesling.

After learning German, Greek will be easy – especially when you have the sunny and likable Boutari Moschofilero 2012 from Peloponnese, Greece in your tasting glass.

You will learn how some wineries deftly merge modernity with centuries of tradition, as with the Barone Ricasoli Colledilà Chianti Classico Gran Selezione 2010.

Or how producers are reclaiming biodynamic and natural farming techniques to lead today’s brigade of responsible natural wines, like Beaujolais’ Christophe Pacalet Chiroubles 2011.

In our locavore province, students will be schooled on important local wines, like Naramata’s Nichol Vineyard Syrah 2010, made from Canada’s oldest Syrah vines.

St. Urbans Hof Ockfener Bockstein Riesling Kabinett 2011 Boutari Moschofilero 2012 Barone Ricasoli Colledilà Chianti Classico Gran Selezione 2010 Christophe Pacalet Chiroubles 2011Nichol Vineyards Syrah 2010

A big part of the class will be learning type and benchmarks for regions. Sonoma’s Ferrari-Carano Fumé Blanc 2011 should be on every wine lover’s playlist for its creamy oak and lemon curd balance.

And Canalicchio di Sopra Brunello di Montalicino DOCG 2008 makes for a great lesson in elegant Brunello di Montalcino from a very good vintage.

A huge benefit of formal classes is tasting a series of wines beyond most peoples’ budgets. Tasting stunning, shining grower Champagnes, like Champagne Pierre Gimonnet & Fils ‘Cuis 1er Cru’ Blanc de Blancs NV Brut will make you forget you’re at ‘school’.

Ferrari Carano Fumé Blanc 2011 Canalicchio Di Sopra Brunello Di Montalcino 2008 Pierre Gimonnet & Fils Brut Blanc De Blancs 'cuis' 1er Cru Concha Y Toro Marques De Casa Concha Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 Hidalgo La Gitana Taylor Fladgate 10 Year Old Tawny Port

And another, oft overlooked benefit? Your savvy instructor can introduce you to very tasty wines at very tasty prices, like the brambled and cassis-clad Concha y Toro 2012 Marques de Casa Concha Cabernet Sauvignon, from the Maipo Valley, Chile.

Context is everything, and your instructor will paint a hazy picture of Jerez’s history when introducing you to the idiosyncratic Hidalgo La Gitana Manzanilla from Southern Spain’s Sanlucar De Barrameda.

Similarly, when you are tasting wines – like Taylor Fladgate 10 Year Old Tawny – from the oldest demarcated and regulated wine region in the and start to grasp that you’re learning, and tasting history all at once, you’ll want to stay a student forever.

Treve ~

Editors Note: You can find complete critic reviews by clicking on any of the highlighted wine names, bottle images or links. Premium subscribers to WineAlign see all critics reviews immediately. Non-paid members wait 30 days to see newly posted reviews. Membership has its privileges; like first access to great wines!

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WineAlign Reviews

Coldstream Hills Pinot Noir 2008