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Some Gems! Top Picks & Top Values from the Vintages August 1st Release

“In the absence of a strong regional theme, consider this release as an opportunity to buy those styles and regions you usually bypass. Spread your budget around and take some leaps. For example, when do you get to try a fine 17 year old German riesling (Hans Lang), let alone buy one under $20, or a sensational half bottle of Barsac (Doisy-Vedrines) for less than icewine; or a thick and gooey and absolutely delicious Samos Muscat for a $12 pittance.  How about a classic sparkling cava (Pere Ventura Tresor) from Spain that you can crack open with a plate of oysters on the dock, or a tidy, dry Tavel rose (Dom. des Carteresses) to serve with an array of cold meats, or an exotic Australian roussanne (D’Arenberg Money Spider) for a summery citrus salad, or an exuberantly fruity summer red from Southwest  France’s new Fronton appellation (Chateau Laurou). There is small grouping of B.C. wines and I like both the Jackson-Triggs and Inniskillin Okanagan cabernets being offered, and on the home front both Angel’s Gate chardonnays are well done. Once again there is a strong grouping of a half dozen 2005 Bordeaux, a vintage which deserves inclusion in any cellar budget. Overall, there is a lot of wine for under $20, with a correspondingly large selection scoring in the 86 to 89 point range.”
–  David Lawrason, VP of Wine at WineAlign
Click here to see ranked lists and reviews of close to 100 wines in this release.

David’s Half Dozen

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Membership has its Priviledges

FieldingBarrel[Full disclosure: I am a Fielding Wine Club Member]

For a winery especially for small boutique wineries, Wine Club members are vital to their existence.  They provide a important stream of revenue, a loyal customer base and act as Ambassadors for the brand.  To reward these loyal club members, a winery will sometimes produce a wine made exclusively for them.  Fielding Estate Winery in Beamsville recently announced that they are producing the “Friends of F.E.W.” – the 2008 Wild Fermentation Chardonnay.  As Richie Roberts, Winemaker explains “The concept behind this project was to create an exceptional wine in extremely limited quantities – a production so limited that we could offer just one or two bottles a year to our most loyal friends. Occasionally in our cellar we have a barrel or two of wines that are so interesting it would be a shame to lose them in a larger blend, so this is an ideal fit for wines that are truly the winemaker’s selection.”

Roberts explains the selection and production process: “Sourced from our oldest vines in the Jack Rabbit Flats Vineyard (Lincoln Lakeshore) and planted twenty years ago, two rows from this block of vines and by reducing the yields to help concentrate the flavour in the remaining clusters on the vines. We hand harvested, sorted, and gently whole cluster pressed the berries, keeping only the light pressings for this wine. The juice was cold settled in stainless steel then racked into two barrels, one new French oak barrel and one older French oak barrel. Underwent a “wild fermentation” in barrel whereby the native yeast on the bloom of the grapes’ skin completed the fermentation. – Malo-lactic fermentation in barrel, following which the two barrels were combined and the older French oak barrel was refilled with the wine, still with the lees in suspension. Regular scheduled battonage (stirring of the lees) as the wine ages in barrel.  The two barrels from the original ferment were both from Mercury, a small Burgundian Cooper – one barrel was new and one was on it’s third fill (old).   After fermentation and MLF the two barrels were kept with their lees and combined together into the older oak barrel and still remain with their lees, with battonage (lees stirring) as needed – more frequently just after fermentation and less frequent as we approach bottling.”

The result is single barrel selected for the first bottling under a new label, “Friends of F.E.W.”.  Only one bottle will be allocated to each wine club member and Roberts will be personally hand-numbering each bottle(about 250 bottles).   The label for  “Friends of F.E.W.” label will be a twist on Fielding’s  new label design which recently won Best Label Design Award at the Ontario Wine Awards.

By the Barrel:

  • Alc/vol=13.5%
  • RS=3.0g/l
  • TA=6.7g/l
  • pH=3.75
  • MLF=80% approx
  • Yield=  2.5 tonnes/acre crop load approx
  • Picked by hand and sorted October 19, 2008
  • Very gentle long pressing up to just 0.6bar – yield just 475l/tonne.
  • Harder press fraction blended into Unoaked Chardonnay later in the year.
  • Fermentation =  native yeast – took nearly 7 weeks to dryness and peaked at about 22˚C

The “Friends of F.E.W.” – 2008 Wild Fermentation Chardonnay will be bottled at the beginning of September, and released in November/December for wine club members.

To Order: You must be a “Friends of F.E.W.” member.  Email Kim Doran at or  visit to sign-up.

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Top Picks and Top Values from the Vintages July 18th Release

“In the dead heat of summer (or dead cold of summer this year) Vintages historically launches wines in a lower key – less expensive, less famous, from farther reaches of the wine world, or bottlings otherwise without a lot of cachet. Overall this is a patchy release with many wines not worth special attention. I hate to lump southern Italy – the major theme of this release –  into this generalization but among the reds at least there are very few must-buys, even though there is a fascinating kaleidoscope of indigenous grapes, labels and styles.  The whites are another story – many are magnificent and ideal for summer dalliances with the exotic, from grape varieties not known outside their own regions. And then there are the fascinating German rieslings, all from the Mosel’s famous Wehlener Sonnerhur (sundial) vineyard. The four offerings do more to demonstrate producers’ stylistic variability than the singular identity of the site, but three of four are very good. Elsewhere, there are scattered gems from around the world, some of which make it into David’s Half Dozen, a selection of the top quality, top value and most interesting wines in this release.”
–  David Lawrason, VP of Wine at WineAlign
Click here to see ranked lists and reviews of close to 100 wines in this release.

David’s Half Dozen


Domæne Gobelsburg 2007 Grüner Veltliner
Domæne Gobelsburg 2007 Grüner Veltliner, Kamptal, Austria,  90 pts, $14.95

Torres Floralis Moscatel Oro
Torres Floralis Moscatel Oro, Spain, 93 pts  $16.95

Pala Sálnico 2007 Nuragus,

Pala Sálnico 2007 Nuragus, Sardinia, Italy,  90 pts  $14.95


Domaine Grand Veneur Les Champauvins 2007
Domaine Grand Veneur Les Champauvins 2007 Côtes Du Rhône-Villages, France,  91 pts, $19.95

Clos Puy Arnaud 2005 Côtes de Castillon 2005
Clos Puy Arnaud 2005 Côtes de Castillon 2005, France, 92 pts $45.00

Tyrrell's Rufus Stone 2006 Shiraz
Tyrrell’s Rufus Stone 2006 Shiraz, Heathcote, Australia, 91 pts,  $19.95

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New Critics and Features – John Szabo joins WineAlign

We’re excited about some recent developments at WineAlign.   Two new critics have joined WineAlign and we have introduced some great new features.

John SzaboWe’re very pleased to add John Szabo to our growing team of top-ranked wine critics.  We’ve added over 1,700 of John’s recent reviews to our database. John is Canada’s first and currently only Master Sommelier, earning the title from the Court of Master Sommeliers in London, England in 2004, and is a member in good standing of both the Court Worldwide as well as the American chapter.  He has been working in the hospitality business at home and abroad for over 15 years. Today, John tastes, writes, judges and consults nationally and internationally, teaches, speaks, voices his views regularly on radio and travels the wine regions of the world in search of the best.

Evan SaviolidisEvan Saviolidis has also recently joined us.  Evan is journalist for Canada’s largest wine publication, Tidings, and Instructor for the International Sommelier Guild, where he collects tons of frequent flyer miles travelling across North America, teaching the profession. In 1999, he founded WineSavvy Consultants, a Niagara based wine education center which offers wine appreciation course, tastings and consultation services for wine lovers and professionals alike

Remember, like with all of our critics, in order to see John’s & Evan’s reviews, or have their scores influence your wine rankings you need to subscribe to our premium service.  While our basic service is FREE, we think it makes a difference having some of the most experienced and respected palates in the industry working together to help ‘align’ your wine choices.

The next time you can’t find a wine at your favourite store(s) just click on the zero inventory icon or Find This Wine button.  You will go to a new map screen where you can see the store details and inventory levels on an interactive map.  Just click on a different store to see it on the map.

We have significanly enhanced our support of Ontario wines and Ontario wineries.  New menu items allow you to explore the different Ontario wine regions. We make it easy for you to find information about a winery and to find their wines at your local LCBO. A single click will take you to more detailed information about the winery including their favourite wines, location, discussion forums and the availability of their wine in your local LCBO.

Tawse Winery Details

You can now have your wine reviews automatically posted to your Twitter account.   Just go into your Account Setting and enter your Twitter credentials.   Everytime you post a new wine review it will show up as a Tweet for your wine Tweeps.  We’ve even given you the ability to automatically add your favourite wine hash tag to every WineAlign tweet.  We’ve set up a global Twitter account as well – follow @WineAlignReview to see all of our reviews.

To support our friends (and spread the word) we’ve created a handy widget you can embed in your blog or startpage (i.e. iGoogle).  Just click on the button and it will create a Find A Wine widget you can add to your site.  It’s really as simply as clicking on two buttons!

Add Widget Image

Look for an update/newsletter from us every few weeks. Remember, we LOVE hearing feedback of any kind.   Please don’t hesitate leave us a comment, send us an email at or follow us on Twitter @WineAlign.

The WineAlign Team

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Vincor launches Strut & Open Wines


Hot on the…ahem…heels of Vincor’s May launch of Strut Wines which include such fashionable names such as Chardonista (Chardonnay), Well‐Heeled White (Riesling and Gewürztraminer blend), Cab Couture (a blend of Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot) and Red Over Heels (Merlot).  Vincor has now launched Open Wines which include another Riesling‐Gewürztraminer blend, Cab2‐Merlot (Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot blend), and another Merlot.

Strut is clearly being marketed to women wine drinkers with fashion related names, label images and a tag line of “The wine with legs”.  Open wines are being targeted at a savvy “internet generation” with packaging that I quite like.  The concept of “open”(internet, data, goverment, social etc.) is a very hot topic that Vincor hopes to leverage.  Vincor is thus using social media tools for these two brands to reach their targeted demographics.  Both can be found on Twitter (@strutwines/@openwines) and Facebook (Strut/Open Wines).  Open wines also has its own blog.

Chardonista (Chardonnay), Well‐
Heeled White (a white blend of Riesling and Gewürztraminer), Cab Couture (a red blend of Cabernet
Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot) and Red Over Heels (Merlot)

Both Strut & Open wines are 100% VQA wines (no Cellared in Canada here) and all are priced at $11.95.  All bottles are under Stelvin (screwcap) enclosures.  Strut can be had at Vincor-owned Wine Rack stores and Open is available at LCBO stores.  Of course, you can use WineAlign to check on stock at your local store.

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Top Picks and Top Values from the Vintages July 4th Release

“The Vintages July 4th release showcases the return of Oregon pinot noir to Ontario, with –count ‘em – three new labels, all from organically farmed grapes.  During the mid 90s and the heyday of the Pacific Northwest Wine Fairs Ontario was Oregon’s largest export market.  But when the Pacific Northwest Wine Alliance crumbled the shows ceased and the wine pipeline dried up. We turned our focus to our home-grown pinots and scoffed at Oregon’s ever ascending pre-recession pricing. But now, when times are tougher, they are back with three new, fairly priced and quite delicious examples including the Andrew Rich which should be in ample supply as a Wine of the Month. The Oregon selection is complemented by three excellent, expensive icon Washington wines from the Longshadows Project , wherein Washington pioneer Allen Shoup of Chateau Ste Michelle invited top global winemakers to take a turn with Washington fruit. Collectors take note, they all excellent, cellar worthy wines.  The real stars of this release however are the $15 whites and reds below, and few others that didn’t quite make our new David’s Half-Dozen best buys list which will highlights personal picks that offer either great quality, value or intrigue. Enjoy.”

– David Lawrason, VP of Wine at WineAlign

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

David’s Half Dozen

Collector’s Icon
Sequel 2005 Syrah

Sequel 2005 Syrah, Columbia Valley, USA  $75.00

Collector’s Bargin

Montes Alpha 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon 1.5L Magnum

Montes Alpha 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon, Chile,$43.95/ 1.5L magnum

Summer Sipper (1)
Concha Y Toro 2007 Riesling
Concha Y Toro 2007 Riesling, Bio Bio Valley, Chile, $14.95

Summer Sipper (2)
St. Hallett 2008 Semillon/Sauvigon Blanc
St. Hallett 2008 Semillon/Sauvigon Blanc,  Barossa, Australia  $14.95

Red Charmer
Chateau de Jau 2006 Cotes de Roussillon-Village
Chateau de Jau 2006 Cotes de Roussillon-Village, France, $14.95

Red Cellar Stuffer
Ontanon 2005 Rioja Crianza
Ontanon 2005 Rioja Crianza, Spain, $15.95

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WineAlign Reviews

Coldstream Hills Pinot Noir 2008